Published on April 24th, 2023 | by Harmonist staff0
Śrī Navadvīpāṣṭakam 3
yaḥ sarva-dikṣu sphuritaiḥ su-ṣītair
nānā-drumaiḥ sūpavanaiḥ parītaḥ
taṁ śrī-navadvīpam ahaṁ smarāmi
In meditation I recall Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma, where refreshing breezes blow in all directions amidst a variety of shade trees during the madhyāhna-vihāra of Śrī Gaura-candra.
On the bank of the Ganges within a beautiful forest filled with the scent and sight of colorful flowers, the heat of the day is mitigated by cooling breezes and shade trees as Gaura remembers Kṛṣṇa’s madhyāhna-līlā. Revelation of these līlās is a unique contribution of the Gauḍīya sampradāya to the religious world.1 They are great treasures that would have otherwise remained sealed. The Syāma-kuṇḍa/Rādhā-kuṇḍa Kṛṣṇa līlā is twice the length of all of the other seven sections of the nitya-līlā save and except for the niśa-līlā, which is of equal length. In both the madhyāhna- and niśa-līlās, Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa successfully unite with the help of their friends—in both darkness and broad daylight. Other than the niśānta—predawn—līlā, during which separation prevails as Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa turn homeward, the other five sections of the aṣṭakāla-līlā serve largely from the mādhurya perspective that pervades the dhāma as anticipation for and facilitation of these midday and nighttime unions.
In Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura’s vision, the flower garden in which Gaura tastes these līlās is hidden from the general public. Groups of tall kadamba trees surround it in all four directions, and at the base of these trees, dense thornbushes grow. These thornbushes discourage others from going there. The love life of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa is sweeter than roses, but we will have to pass through the sharp thorns of renunciation to appreciate its scent.
Love is not realized without risk. The meeting of Rādhā-Govinda at midday is risky, and their devotees go to great lengths to bring it about. During these pastimes, both the gopīs and the priya-narma-gopas are prepared to give their lives for the union of Rādhā-Mādana Gopāla. They cannot bear the pain of Rādhā’s separation from Kṛṣṇa or Kṛṣṇa’s separation from Priyājī, yet for them to meet under the midday sun is next to impossible without some kind of intrigue. Thus we pray at midday following the footsteps of Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda, yugala-milana sukhera kāraṇa jīvana chāḍite pāri: “To bring about the union of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, I am prepared to give up my life.”2
During Gaura’s midday līlā taking place along the bank of the Ganges, Svarūpa Dāmodara leads līlā-kīrtana of Kṛṣṇa’s madhyāhna-līlā, and through such līlā-kīrtana Gaura Kṛṣṇa and his devotees are transported into the various midday līlās at Rādhā-kuṇḍa. In his Gaura-govinda-līlāmṛta guṭikā, Siddha Kṛṣṇadāsa depicts Gaura’s enactment of Holī, the springtime “festival of colors,” in particular. This līlā begins with Gaurīdāsa Paṇḍita in the mood of Subala covering Gadādhara with colors as an intense battle ensues. At the end, Gaurīdāsa emerges declaring victory for Gaura’s side.
In his Śrī Śrī Gaura-tattvāmṛta, Śrī Gauralāla Goswāmī envisions Gopāla in the midst of the midday Holī Vraja līlā. Battle-worn and exhausted from his skirmish with the gopīs, Syāma’s pride is at risk. But Subala-sakhā intervenes and saves his friend’s dignity with his brilliant play on words. Śrī Goswāmījī then concludes, “Therefore, since that Subala has appeared today in Śrī Gaura līlā as Śrī Gaurīdāsa Paṇḍita Ṭhākura, just by taking the shelter of his lotus feet, one can attain the great fortune of seeing even the most confidential līlā of nidhū-nikuñja. What doubt is there about it?”
In his madhyāhna-līlā, sometimes Gaura steps aside from his associates in a moment of introspection. The poet Rādhā-mohana sings,
O brother, you know my heart, so why do you delay? Please bring her! Show me Rādhā or I will die!” Taking Prabhu with him, Gaurīdāsa steps into the water. Showing Gaura his reflection, Gaurīdāsa says, “There is your Rādhā!” Gaura then takes the reflection of his own face to be that of Rādhā. Tears of love flow, and his heart becomes happy. Rādhā-mohana says, “But for Gaurīdāsa, who else knows the depths of Prabhu’s heart?
- The Padma Purāṇa does equate Rādhā with her kuṇḍa and also points out the virtue of bathing in her lake and narrates the līlā within which Rādhā-kuṇḍa appears. But the Gauḍīya founding ācāryas have underscored the glory of Rādhā-kuṇḍa and disclosed far more than anyone else concerning Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’s midday romance at Rādhā-kuṇḍa, the seed verses for which are found in the Sanat-kumāra Saṁhitā. The saṁhitā is attributed to Sanat Kumāra, and partially identifies Sanātana Goswāmī with Sanat Kumāra. [↩]
- Gītāmālā, Siddhi-lālasā 10. [↩]