In this post we are continuing our series about the verse vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir idaṁ cha Viṣṇoḥ from the Temple of Love and Affection.
Thus far we have presented a condensed form of the meaning of vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir according to the conception of the verse expressed by Sriman Mahaprabhu to Pradyumna Misra in his glorification of Srila Ramananda Ray. We initially presented the verse in this way because we considered it fit well with our thematic presentation of the verses from the Temple of Love and Affection related to the glorification of Hari-katha. Over the course of our series, we have initially discussed Hari-katha in general, then in relation to Srimad Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam and lastly specifically the narrations of the Pastimes of the Divine Couple.
However, the subject of discussion of the Pastimes of the Divine Couple is a delicate one which requires careful understanding. Our Guru-varga has given extremely crucial guidance in this regard.
To illustrate this, in this post we presenting an English translation of the Bengali translation of the verse vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir idaṁ cha Viṣṇoḥ given by Sriman Mahaprabhu in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita followed by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur’s commentary on this verse from his Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita Anubhashya. As our series continues we will present an excerpt of Srila Govinda Maharaj discussing this commentary of Srila Saraswati Thakur as well as further light shed on this verse by Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur in his Amrita-Pravaha Bhashya on Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita.
vraja-vadhū-saṅge kṛṣṇera rāsādi-vilāsa
yei jana kahe, śune kariyā viśvāsa
hṛd-roga-kāma tā̐ra tat-kāle haya kṣaya
tina-guṇa-kṣobha nahe, ‘mahā-dhīra’ haya
ujjvala madhura-rasa prema-bhakti sei pāya
ānande kṛṣṇa-mādhurye vihare sadāya
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Antya-līlā, 5.45–46)
“When one faithfully narrates or listens to the Pastimes of Krishna with the Vraja-gopis, such as the Rasa-lila and so forth, their heart disease of material desire is destroyed. Such a soul is free from the disturbances of the three modes of material nature and ‘deeply sober’ (‘maha-dhira’). They attain the supramundane (supreme glorious and effulgent) loving devotion of madhura-rasa (the prema-bhakti of the Vraja-gopis) and in ecstasy perpetually relish the divine sweetness of Krishna.”
The mundane, mental desires of one who faithfully, with their supra-mundane heart (aprakrita-hridaya), hears about or describes the supra-mundane madhura-rasa Pastimes of Krishna, such as the Rasa-lila and so forth, are completely dispelled. The experience of supramundane reality of those who speak about or listen to the supramundane Pastimes of Krishna cannot be subdued by the three modes of material nature. Though within the material world, by being endowed with a divine state of being (bhava) which is beyond the three modes of material nature (nirguna), the hearts of such persons are free from any unsteadiness and they are able to understand their own natural prerogative to serve of Krishna. In this connection (however), one should not think, as the prakrita-sahajiyas do, that engaging in the devotional practices of hearing, chanting, and so forth (about the intimate Pastimes of the Divine Couple) will destroy the material desires of jiva-souls who are enticed by mundane lust, who have (merely) a mundane mentality in lieu of divine knowledge (sambandha-jnana), who have only ever resided within a realm of their own enjoyment, who have abandoned the practice of sadhana-bhakti, and who consider the supramundane Pastimes and amorous affairs of Krishna, such as the rasa-lila and so forth, to be examples of mundane enjoyment similar to their own. In order to forbid such misconception, Sriman Mahaprabhu has censured the mundane mentality of the prakrita-sahajiyas by using the word ‘visvasa’ (faith).
Srila Sukadev Goswami has also said (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.33.30),
naitat samācharej jātu manasāpi hy anīśvaraḥ
vinaśyaty ācharan mauḍhyād yathārudro ’bdhi-jaṁ viṣam
“One who is not divinely empowered should never, even mentally, attempt to imitate those who are. Anyone who foolishly does so is destroyed, just as anyone who is not Lord Siva is destroyed if they attempt to swallow an ocean of poison.”
The fundamental qualification to hear the Pastimes of Krishna with the Vraja-gopis (and remain free from the contamination of sahajiyaism) is faith. This is explained by Sriman Mahaprabhu and reiterated by Srila Saraswati Thakur in their presentations of vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir. To understand specifically what they mean by this criterion of ‘faith’ we can refer to Srila Saraswati Thakur’s Anubhashya commentary on vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir in which he states that sraddha means extremely firm, supra-mundane faith (sraddha—aprakrita sudrdha visvasa). In even further detail, Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur has commented on vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir that those who are devoid of firm faith in the revealed Scriptures (sastra-avisvasinam) and who are ridden with offenses to the Holy Name of the Lord (Namaparadhinam) never obtain divine love (prema), implying that being ‘endowed with faith’ (sraddhanvita) means having firm faith in the revealed Scriptures and being free from any offensiveness towards the Holy Name of the Lord and that only persons endowed with such qualifications are “sober” (and attain “ujjvala madhura-rasa prema-bhakti”) upon engaging in hearing about and narrating the Rasa-lila Pastimes of Sri Krishna and the Vraja-gopis.