Chapter 31: The Supreme Perfection

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Teachings of Lord Caitanya

In the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa it is stated that if one bona fide spiritual master is born in a brāhmaṇa family and another, who is also qualified, is born in a śūdra family, one should accept the one who is born in a brāhmaṇa family. This statement serves as a social compromise, but it has nothing to do with spiritual understanding. This injunction is only applicable for those who consider social status more important than spiritual status. It is not for people who are spiritually serious. A serious person would accept Caitanya Mahāprabhu's instruction that anyone — regardless of his position — conversant with Kṛṣṇa science must be accepted as the spiritual master. There are many injunctions in the Padma Purāṇa which state that a highly elevated spiritually advanced devotee of the Lord is always a first-class devotee and is therefore a spiritual master, but a highly elevated person born in a brāhmaṇa family cannot be a spiritual master unless he is a devotee of the Lord. A person born in a brāhmaṇa family may be conversant with all of the rituals of the Vedic scriptures but if he is not a pure devotee, he cannot be a spiritual master. In all śāstras the chief qualification of a bona fide spiritual master is that he be conversant in the science of Kṛṣṇa.

Lord Caitanya therefore requested Rāmānanda Rāya to go on teaching Him without hesitation, not considering Lord Caitanya's position as a sannyāsī. Thus Lord Caitanya urged him to continue speaking on the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.

"Because You are asking me to speak of the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa," Rāmānanda Rāya humbly submitted, "I will obey Your order. I will speak in whatever way You like." Thus Rāmānanda Rāya humbly submitted himself as a puppet before Lord Caitanya, the puppet master. He only wanted to dance according to the will of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He compared his tongue to a stringed instrument, saying, "You are the player of that instrument." Thus as Lord Caitanya would play, Rāmānanda Rāya would vibrate the sound.

He said that Lord Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the source of all incarnations and the cause of all causes. There are innumerable Vaikuṇṭha planets, innumerable incarnations, expansions of the Supreme Lord, and innumerable universes also, and of all these existences the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa is the only source. His transcendental body is composed of eternity, bliss and knowledge, and He is known as the son of Mahārāja Nanda and the inhabitant of Goloka Vṛndāvana. He is full with six opulences — all wealth, strength, fame, beauty, knowledge and renunciation. In Brahma-saḿhitā (5.1) it is confirmed that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Lord, the Lord of all lords, and His transcendental body is sac-cid-ānanda. No one is the source of Kṛṣṇa, but Kṛṣṇa is the source of everyone. He is the supreme cause of all causes and the resident of Vṛndāvana. He is also very attractive, just like Cupid. One can worship Him by kāma-gāyatrī mantra.

In Brahma-saḿhitā the transcendental land of Vṛndāvana is described as being always spiritual. That spiritual land is populated by goddesses of fortune, who are known as gopīs. These are all beloved of Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa is the only lover of all those gopīs. The trees of that land are kalpa-vṛkṣa, wish fulfilling trees, and one can have anything he wants from them. The land is made of touchstone and the water of nectar. In that land all speech is song, and all walking is dancing, and one's constant companion is the flute. Everything is self-luminous, just like the sun in this material world. The human form of life is meant for understanding this transcendental land of Vṛndāvana, and one who is fortunate should cultivate knowledge of Vṛndāvana and its residents. In that supreme abode are surabhi cows that overflood the land with milk. Since not even a moment there is misused, there is no past, present or future. An expansion of this Vṛndāvana, which is the supreme abode of Kṛṣṇa, is also present on this earth, and superior devotees worship it as the supreme abode. However, no one can appreciate Vṛndāvana without being highly elevated in spiritual knowledge, Kṛṣṇa consciousness. According to ordinary experience, Vṛndāvana appears to be just like an ordinary village, but in the eyes of a highly elevated devotee, it is as good as the original Vṛndāvana. A great saintly ācārya has sung: "When will my mind be cleared of all contamination so I will be able to see Vṛndāvana as it is? And when will I be able to understand the literatures left by the Gosvāmīs so that I will be able to know of the transcendental pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa?"

The loving affairs between Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs in Vṛndāvana are also transcendental. They appear as ordinary lusty affairs of this material world, but there is a gulf of difference. In the material world there may be the temporary awakening of lust, but it disappears after so-called satisfaction. In the spiritual world the love between the gopīs and Kṛṣṇa is constantly increasing. That is the difference between transcendental love and material lust. The lust, or so-called love, arising out of this body is as temporary as the body itself, but the love arising from the eternal soul in the spiritual world is on the spiritual platform, and that love is also eternal. Therefore Kṛṣṇa is addressed as the ever green Cupid.

Lord Kṛṣṇa is worshiped by the gāyatrī mantra, and the specific mantra by which He is worshiped is called kāma-gāyatrī. Vedic literatures explain that that sound vibration which can elevate one from mental concoction is called gāyatrī. The kāma-gāyatrī mantra is composed of 24 1/2 syllables thus:

klīḿ kāma-devāya vidmahe

puṣpa-bāṇāya dhīmahi

tanno 'nańgaḥ pracodayāt

This kāma-gāyatrī is received from the spiritual master when the disciple is advanced in chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. In other words, this kāma-gāyatrī mantra and saḿskāra, or reformation of a perfect brāhmaṇa, are offered by the spiritual master when he sees that his disciple is advanced in spiritual knowledge. Even then, the kāma-gāyatrī is not uttered under certain circumstances. In any case, the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa is sufficient to elevate one to the highest spiritual platform.

In Brahma-saḿhitā a nice description of the flute of Kṛṣṇa is given: "When Kṛṣṇa began to play on His flute, the sound vibration entered into the ear of Brahmā as the Vedic mantra oḿ" This oḿ is composed of three letters — A, U, and M — and it describes our relationship with the Supreme Lord, our activities by which we can achieve the highest perfection of love and the actual position of love on the spiritual platform. When the sound vibration of Kṛṣṇa's flute is expressed through the mouth of Brahmā, it becomes gāyatrī. Thus by being influenced by the sound vibration of Kṛṣṇa's flute, Brahmā, the supreme creature and first living entity of this material world, was initiated as a brāhmaṇa. That Brahmā was initiated as a brāhmaṇa by the flute of Kṛṣṇa is confirmed by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī. When Brahmā was enlightened by the gāyatrī mantra through Kṛṣṇa's flute, he attained all Vedic knowledge. Acknowledging the benediction offered to him by Kṛṣṇa, he became the original spiritual master of all living entities.

The word klīm added to the gāyatrī mantra is explained in Brahma-saḿhitā as the transcendental seed of love of Godhead, or the seed of the kāma-gāyatrī. The object is Kṛṣṇa, who is the ever green Cupid, and by utterance of klīm mantra Kṛṣṇa is worshiped. It is also stated in the Gopāla-tāpanī Upaniṣad that when Kṛṣṇa is spoken of as Cupid, one should not think of Him as the Cupid of this material world. As already explained, Vṛndāvana is the spiritual abode of Kṛṣṇa, and the word Cupid is also spiritual and transcendental. One should not take the material Cupid and Kṛṣṇa to be on the same level. The material Cupid represents the attraction of the external flesh and body, but the spiritual Cupid is the attraction by which the Supersoul attracts the individual soul. Actually lust and sex are there in spiritual life, but when the spirit soul is embodied in material elements, that spiritual urge is expressed through the material body and is therefore pervertedly reflected. When one actually becomes conversant in the science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he can understand that his material desire for sex is abominable, whereas spiritual sex is desirable.

Spiritual sex is of two kinds: one in accordance with the constitutional position of the self and the other in accordance with the object. When one understands the truth about this life but is not completely cleansed of material contamination, he is not factually situated in the transcendental abode, Vṛndāvana, although he may understand spiritual life. When, however, one becomes free from the sex urges of the material body, he can actually attain the supreme abode of Vṛndāvana. When one is so situated, he can utter the kāma-gāyatrī and kāma-bīja mantra.

Rāmānanda Rāya then explained that Kṛṣṇa is attractive both for men and women, for the movable and the immovable — indeed, for all living entities. For this reason He is called the transcendental Cupid. Rāmānanda Rāya then quoted a verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.32.2) stating that when the Lord appeared before the damsels of Vraja smiling and playing on His flute, He appeared just like Cupid.

There are different kinds of devotees who have different aptitudes and relationships with the Supreme Lord. Any one relationship with the Lord is as good as any other because the central point is Kṛṣṇa. As stated in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu: " Kṛṣṇa is the reservoir of all pleasures, and He is always attracting the gopīs by the spiritual luster of His body. He especially attracts Tārakā, Pāli, Śyāmā, and Lalitā. Kṛṣṇa is very dear to Rādhārāṇī, the foremost gopī." Like Kṛṣṇa, the gopīs are glorified by Kṛṣṇa's pastimes. There are different kinds of relationships with Kṛṣṇa, and anyone who is attracted to Kṛṣṇa by a particular relationship is glorified.

Kṛṣṇa is so beautiful, transcendental and attractive that He sometimes attracts even Himself. The following verse appears in Gīta-govinda (1.11):

viśveṣām anurañjanena janayann ānandam indīvara-

śreṇī-śyāmala-komalair upanayann ańgair anańgotsavam

svacchandaḿ vraja-sundarībhir abhitaḥ pratyańgam ālińgitaḥ

śṛńgāraḥ sakhi mūrtimān iva madhau mugdho hariḥ krīḍati

"My dear friend, just see how Kṛṣṇa is enjoying His transcendental pastimes in the spring by expanding the beauty of His personal body. His soft legs and hands, just like the most beautiful moon, are used on the bodies of the gopīs. When He embraces different parts of their bodies, He is so beautiful. Kṛṣṇa is so beautiful that He attracts even Nārāyaṇa, as well as the goddess of fortune who associates with Nārāyaṇa."

In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.89.58) the Bhūmā-puruṣa (Mahā-Viṣṇu) told Kṛṣṇa, "My dear Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, I have taken the brāhmaṇa's sons just to see You." Arjuna attempted to save some youths who had died untimely at Dvārakā, and when he failed to save them, Kṛṣṇa took him to the Bhūmā-puruṣa, and when the Bhūmā-puruṣa brought forth those dead bodies as living entities, He said, "Both of you appear to preserve religious principles in the world and to annihilate the demons." In other words, the Bhūmā-puruṣa was also attracted by the beauty of Kṛṣṇa, and He concocted this pastime just as a pretext to see Kṛṣṇa. It is recorded in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.16.36) that after the serpent Kāliya was punished by Kṛṣṇa, one of Kāliya's wives told Kṛṣṇa, "Dear Lord, we cannot understand how this fallen serpent got the opportunity of being kicked by Your lotus feet when even the goddess of fortune underwent austerities for several years just to see You."

How Kṛṣṇa is attracted by His own beauty is described in Lalita-mādhava (8.34). Upon seeing His own picture, Kṛṣṇa lamented, "How glorious this picture is! It is attracting Me just as it attracts Rādhārāṇī."

After giving a summary of the beauty of Kṛṣṇa, Rāmānanda Rāya began to speak of the spiritual energy of Kṛṣṇa, which is headed by Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Kṛṣṇa has immense energetic expansions. Three energies are predominant: the internal energy, external energy and marginal energy. This is confirmed in the Sixth Chapter of Viṣṇu Purāṇa where it is said that Viṣṇu has one energy, which is called spiritual energy, and it is manifested in three ways. When spiritual energy is overwhelmed by ignorance, it is called marginal energy. As far as spiritual energy itself is concerned, it is exhibited in three forms because Kṛṣṇa is a combination of eternity, bliss and knowledge. As far as His bliss is concerned, His spiritual energy is manifested as the pleasure giving potency. His eternity is manifested as energy, and His knowledge is manifested as spiritual perfection. As confirmed in Viṣṇu Purāṇa (1.12.69): "The pleasure potency of Kṛṣṇa gives Kṛṣṇa transcendental pleasure and bliss." Thus when Kṛṣṇa wants to enjoy pleasure, He exhibits His own spiritual potency known as hlādinī.

In His spiritual form, Kṛṣṇa enjoys His spiritual energy, and that is the sum and substance of the Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa pastimes. These pastimes can only be understood by elevated devotees. One should not try to understand the Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa potencies and pastimes from the mundane platform. Generally people misunderstand these as being material.

When the pleasure potency is further condensed, it is called mahābhāva. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, the eternal consort of Kṛṣṇa, is the personification of that mahābhāva. In this regard, in Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi (4.3) Rūpa Gosvāmī states that there are two competitors in love with Kṛṣṇa, Rādhārāṇī and Candrāvalī. When they are compared, it appears that Rādhārāṇī is superior, for She possesses mahābhāva-svarūpa. Mahābhāva-svarūpa, the personification of mahābhāva, is applicable to Rādhārāṇī only. Mahābhāva is full of the pleasure potency, and it is an exhibition of the highest love for Kṛṣṇa. Rādhārāṇī is therefore known throughout the world as the most beloved of Kṛṣṇa, and Her name is always associated with Kṛṣṇa as Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.

Brahma-saḿhitā (5.37) also confirms that Kṛṣṇa expands Himself by His pleasure potency in the spiritual world and that these potencies are all nondifferent from Kṛṣṇa. Although Kṛṣṇa is always enjoying the company of His pleasure potency expansions, He is all-pervading. Thus Brahmā offers his respectful obeisances to Govinda, the cause of all causes.

As Kṛṣṇa is the highest emblem of spiritual perfection, so Rādhārāṇī is the highest emblem of that spiritual pleasure potency by which Kṛṣṇa is satisfied. Since Kṛṣṇa is unlimited, in order to satisfy Him Rādhārāṇī is also unlimited. Kṛṣṇa is satisfied just by seeing Rādhārāṇī, but Rādhārāṇī expands Herself in such a way that Kṛṣṇa desires to enjoy Her more. Because Kṛṣṇa was unable to estimate the pleasure potency of Rādhārāṇī, He decided to accept the role of Rādhārāṇī, and that combination is Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

Rāmānanda Rāya then began to explain Rādhārāṇī as the supreme emblem of Kṛṣṇa's pleasure potency. Rādhārāṇī expands Herself in different forms, known as Lalitā, Viśākhā and Her other confidential associates. In his book Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, Rūpa Gosvāmī explains the characteristics of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. He points out that the body of Rādhārāṇī is in itself an actual evolution of transcendental pleasure. That body is decorated with flowers and fragrant aromas and is complete with transcendental love for Kṛṣṇa. That is the personification of His pleasure potency. That transcendental body takes bath three times: first in the water of mercy, second in the water of youthful beauty, and third in the water of youthful luster. After taking bath three times in that way, Her body is covered with shining garments and decorated with Kṛṣṇa's personal beauty, which is compared to cosmetics. Thus Her beauty constitutes the highest artistry. Her body is also decorated with the ornaments of spiritual ecstasy — trembling tears, petrification, perspiration, choking, cessation of all bodily functions due to transcendental pleasure, stumbling, high blood pressure and madness.

The decorative transcendental pleasure potency manifests nine symptoms. Five of these are manifested by the expansion of Her personal beauty, which is adorned with garlands of flowers. Her patient calmness is compared with a covering of cloths which have been cleansed by camphor. Her confidential agony for Kṛṣṇa is the knot in Her hair, and the mark of tilaka on Her forehead is Her fortune. Rādhārāṇī's sense of hearing is eternally fixed on Kṛṣṇa's name and fame. One's lips become red from chewing betel nuts. Similarly, the borders of Rādhārāṇī's eyes are blackened due to Her complete attachment to Kṛṣṇa. This darkness might be compared to ointment used by nature when nature jokes with Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Rādhārāṇī's smile is just like the taste of camphor. The garland of separation moves on Her body when She lies down on the bed of pride within the room of aroma. Out of ecstatic affection for Kṛṣṇa, Her breast is covered by the blouse of anger. Reputed as the best of all Kṛṣṇa's girl friends, She plays a stringed instrument. When Kṛṣṇa stands in His youthful posture, She puts Her hand on His shoulder. Although She possesses so many transcendental qualities, She is always engaged in the service of Kṛṣṇa.

Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is decorated with sūddīpta-sāttvika emotions, which sometimes include tribulation and sometimes pacification. All the transcendental ecstasies are manifested in the body of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Sūddīpta-sāttvika emotions are manifest when a lover is overwhelmed with certain feelings which he or she cannot check. Rādhārāṇī has another emotion called kilakiñcita, which is manifest in twenty different ways. These emotions are manifested partly due to body, mind and habit. As far as the bodily emotions are concerned, they are manifested in posture and movement. As far as the emotions of the mind are concerned, they are manifested as beauty, luster, complexion, flavor, talking, magnanimity and patience. As far as habitual emotions are concerned, they are manifested as pastimes, enjoyment, preparation and forgetfulness.

The tilaka of fortune is on the forehead of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, and She also has a locket of prema-vaicittya. prema-vaicittya is manifest when a lover and beloved meet and fear separation.

Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is fifteen days younger than Kṛṣṇa. She always keeps Her hand on the shoulders of Her friends, and She always talks and thinks of pastimes with Kṛṣṇa. She always offers Kṛṣṇa a kind of intoxication by Her sweet talks, and She is always prepared to fulfill His desires. In other words, She supplies all the demands of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and She possesses unique and uncommon qualities for Kṛṣṇa's satisfaction.

In Govinda-līlāmṛta there is a verse which states: "Who is the breeding ground for Kṛṣṇa's affection? The answer is that it is only Śrīmatī Rādhikā. Who is Kṛṣṇa's most lovable object? The answer is that it is only Śrīmatī Rādhikā and no one else." Sheen in the hair, moisture in the eyes and firmness in the breasts are all qualities present in Śrīmatī Rādhikā. Only Śrīmatī Rādhikā is able to fulfill all the desires of Kṛṣṇa. No one else can do so.

Satyabhāmā is another competitor of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, but she always desires to come to the standard of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Rādhārāṇī is so expert in all affairs that all the damsels of Vraja come to learn arts from Her. She is so extraordinarily beautiful that even the goddess of fortune and Pārvatī, the wife of Lord Śiva, desire elevation to Her standard of beauty. Arundhatī, who is known as the most chaste lady in the universe, desires to learn the standard of chastity from Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Since even Lord Kṛṣṇa cannot estimate Rādhārāṇī's highly transcendental qualities, it is not possible for an ordinary man to estimate them.

After hearing Rāmānanda Rāya speak of the qualities of Rādhā Kṛṣṇa, Lord Caitanya desired to hear from him about the reciprocation of love between Them. Rāmānanda Rāya described Kṛṣṇa as dhīra-lalita, a word which describes a person who is very cunning and youthful, who is always expert in joking, who is without anxiety and who is always subservient to his girl friend. Kṛṣṇa is always engaged in love affairs with Rādhārāṇī, and He takes to the bushes of Vṛndāvana to enjoy His lusty activities with Her. Thus He successfully carries out His lusty instincts. In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu it is stated:. "By His impudent and daring talks about sex indulgence, Kṛṣṇa obliged Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī to close Her eyes, and taking advantage of this, Kṛṣṇa painted many pictures on Her breasts. These pictures served as subject matter for Rādhārāṇī's friends to joke about. Thus Kṛṣṇa was always engaged in lusty activities, and thus He made His youthful life successful."

Upon hearing of these transcendental activities, Lord Caitanya said, "My dear Rāmānanda, what you have explained regarding the transcendental pastimes of Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is perfectly correct, yet there is something more I would like to hear from you."

"It is very difficult for me to express anything beyond this," Rāmānanda Rāya replied. "I can only say that there is an emotional activity called prema-vilāsa-vivarta, which I may try to explain but I do not know whether You will be happy to hear it." In prema-vilāsa there are two kinds of emotional activities — separation and meeting. That transcendental separation is so acute that it is actually more ecstatic than meeting. Rāmānanda Rāya was expert in understanding these highly elevated dealings between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, and he composed a nice song which he narrated to the Lord. The purport of the song is that the lover and the beloved, before meeting, generate a kind of emotion by the exchange of their transcendental activities. That emotion is called rāga, or attraction. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī expressed Her willingness that "this attraction and affection between Us rise to the highest extent," but the cause of this attraction is Rādhārāṇī Herself. "Whatever the cause may be," Rādhārāṇī said, "that affection between You and Me has mixed Us in oneness. Now that it is the time of separation, I cannot see the history of the evolution of this love. There was no cause or mediator in Our love save Our meeting itself and the visionary exchange of feelings."

This exchange of feelings between Kṛṣṇa and Rādhārāṇī is very difficult to understand unless one is elevated to the platform of pure goodness. Such transcendental reciprocation is not even possible to understand from the platform of material goodness. One has to actually transcend material goodness in order to understand. This is because the exchange of feelings between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is not a subject matter of this material world. Even the greatest mental speculator cannot understand this, directly or indirectly. Material activities are manifested either for the gross body or the subtle mind, but this exchange of feelings between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is beyond such manifestations and beyond intellectual mental speculation. It can only be understood by purified senses freed from all the designations of the material world. Those who have purified senses can understand these transcendental features and exchanges, but those who are impersonalists and who have no knowledge of spiritual senses can only discriminate within the scope of the material senses and thus cannot understand spiritual exchanges or spiritual-sensual activities. Those who are elevated by virtue of experimental knowledge can only satisfy their blunt material senses either by gross bodily activities or by mental speculation. Everything generated from the body or the mind is always imperfect and perishable, but transcendental spiritual activities are always bright and wonderful. Pure love on the transcendental platform is the paragon of purity devoid of material affection and completely spiritual. Affection for matter is perishable, as indicated by the inebriety of sex in the material world, but there is no such inebriety in the spiritual world. Hindrances on the path of sense satisfaction cause material distress, but one cannot compare that with spiritual separation. In spiritual separation there is neither inebriety nor ineffectiveness, as one finds with material separation.

Lord Caitanya admitted that this is the highest position of transcendental loving reciprocation, and He told Rāmānanda Rāya, "By your grace only have I been able to understand such a high transcendental position. Such a position cannot be attained without the performance of transcendental activities. So will you kindly explain to Me how I can raise Myself to this platform?"

"It is similarly difficult for me to make You understand," Rāmānanda replied. "As far as I am concerned, I can only speak what You wish me to. No one can escape Your supreme will. Indeed, there is no one in the world who can surpass Your supreme will, and although I appear to be speaking, I am actually not the speaker. You are speaking. Therefore You are both the speaker and the audience. Thus let me speak only as You will me to speak about the performance required to attain this highest transcendental position."

Rāmānanda Rāya then began to relate the confidential and transcendental activities of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. These activities cannot be understood in the emotional relationship with the Supreme Lord as master and servant, friend and friend or parent and son. This confidential subject matter can be understood only in the association of the damsels of Vraja, for the confidential activities have arisen from the feelings and emotions of those damsels. Without the association of the damsels of Vraja, one cannot nourish or cherish such transcendental understanding. In other words, these confidential pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa have expanded through the mercy of the damsels. Without their mercy, they cannot be understood. One has to follow in the footsteps of the damsels of Vraja in order to understand.

When one is actually situated in that understanding, he becomes eligible to enter into the confidential pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. There is no alternative to understand Their confidential pastimes. This is confirmed in Govinda-līlāmṛta (10.17): "Although manifest, happy, expanded and unlimited, the emotional exchanges between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa can only be understood by the damsels of Vraja or by their followers." Just as no one can understand the expansion of the spiritual energy of the Supreme Lord without His causeless mercy, no one can understand the transcendental sex life between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa without following in the footsteps of the damsels of Vraja. The personal associates of Rādhārāṇī are called sakhīs, and Her near assistants are called mañjarīs. It is very difficult to express their dealings with Kṛṣṇa because they have no desire to mix with Kṛṣṇa or to enjoy Him personally. Rather, they are always ready to help Rādhārāṇī associate with Kṛṣṇa. Their affection for Kṛṣṇa and Rādhārāṇī is so pure that they are simply satisfied when Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are together. Indeed, their transcendental pleasure is in seeing Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa united. The actual form of Rādhārāṇī is just like a creeper embracing the tree of Kṛṣṇa, and the damsels of Vraja, the associates of Rādhārāṇī, are just like the leaves and flowers of that creeper. When a creeper embraces a tree, the leaves and flowers as well as the creeper automatically embrace it. Govinda-līlāmṛta (10.16) confirms that Rādhārāṇī is the expansion of the pleasure potency of Kṛṣṇa and is compared with a creeper, and Her associates, the damsels of Vraja, are compared to the flowers and leaves of that creeper. When Rādhārāṇī and Kṛṣṇa enjoy Themselves, the damsels of Vraja relish the pleasure more than Rādhārāṇī Herself.

Although the associates of Rādhārāṇī do not expect any personal attention from Kṛṣṇa, Rādhārāṇī is so pleased with them that She arranges individual meetings between Kṛṣṇa and the damsels of Vraja. Indeed, Rādhārāṇī tries to combine or unite Her associates with Kṛṣṇa by many transcendental maneuvers, and She takes more pleasure in these meetings than in Her own meetings with Him. When Kṛṣṇa sees that both Rādhārāṇī and Her associates are pleased by His association, He becomes more satisfied. Such association and loving reciprocation have nothing to do with material lust, although it resembles the material union between man and woman. It is only because that similarity is there that such reciprocation is sometimes called, in transcendental language, transcendental lust. As explained in Gautamīya-tantra (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.285): "Lust means attachment to one's personal sense gratification. But as far as Rādhārāṇī and Her associates are concerned, they did not desire personal sense gratification. They only wanted to satisfy Kṛṣṇa." This is further confirmed in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.31.19) in one of the speeches of the gopīs:

yat te sujāta-caraṇāmburuhaḿ staneṣu

bhītāḥ śanaiḥ priya dadhīmahi karkaśeṣu

tenātavīm aṭasi tad vyathate na kiḿ svit

kūrpādibhir bhramati dhīr bhavad-āyuṣāḿ naḥ

"My dear friend Kṛṣṇa, You are now roaming in the forest with Your bare feet, which You sometimes keep on our breasts. When Your feet are on our breasts, we think that our breasts are too hard for Your soft feet. Now You are wandering in the forest and walking over stones, and we do not know how You are feeling. Since You are our life and soul, the displeasure You undergo in traveling over rough stones is giving us great distress." Such feelings expressed by the damsels of Vraja constitute the highest Kṛṣṇa conscious emotions. Anyone who actually becomes captivated by Kṛṣṇa consciousness approaches this level of the gopīs. There are sixty-four categories of devotional service by performance of which one can rise to the gopīs' stage of unconditional devotion. Affection for Kṛṣṇa on the level of the gopīs is called rāgānuga, spontaneous love. When one enters into a spontaneous loving affair with Kṛṣṇa, there is no need to follow the Vedic rules and regulations.

There are various kinds of personal devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa in the transcendental abode. For example, there are servants of Kṛṣṇa like Raktaka and Patraka and friends of Kṛṣṇa just like Śrīdāmā and Sudāmā. There are also parents of Kṛṣṇa, just like Nanda and Yaśodā, who are also engaged in the service of Kṛṣṇa according to their respective transcendental emotions. One who desires to enter into the supreme abode of Kṛṣṇa can take shelter of one of such transcendental servitors. Then, through the execution of loving service, one can attain transcendental affection for Kṛṣṇa. In other words, the devotee in this material world who executes loving service in pursuance of the activities of those eternal associates with Kṛṣṇa also attains the same post when he is perfected.

The sages mentioned in the Upaniṣads and in śruti also desire the post of the gopīs, and they also follow in the footsteps of the gopīs in order to attain that highest goal of life. This is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.87.23) when it is said that the sages practice prāṇāyāma (trance) by controlling the breathing process, mind and senses through the mystic yoga practice. Thus they try to merge into the Supreme Brahman. This same goal is attained by atheists who deny the existence of God. If such atheists are killed by an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they also merge into the Brahman existence of the Supreme Lord. However, when the damsels of Vṛndāvana worship Śrī Kṛṣṇa, it is as though they have been bitten by a snake, for Kṛṣṇa's body is compared with the body of a snake. A snake's body is never straight; it is always curling. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa often stands in a three curved posture, and He has bitten the gopīs with transcendental love. The gopīs are certainly better situated than all mystic yogīs and others who desire to merge into the Supreme Brahman. The sages of Daṇḍakāraṇya also follow in the footsteps of the damsels of Vraja in order to attain a similar position. One cannot attain that position simply by following the regulative principles. Rather, one must seriously follow the principles of the gopīs. This is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.9.21) wherein it is stated that Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the son of Śrīmatī Yaśodā, is not easily available to those following the principles of mental speculation but is easily available to all kinds of living beings who follow the path of devotional service.

There are many pseudo-devotees, claiming to belong to Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu's sect, who artificially dress themselves as the damsels of Vraja, and this is not approved by advanced spiritualists or advanced students of devotional service. Such people dress the outward material body because they foolishly confuse the body with the soul. They are mistaken when they think that the spiritual bodies of Kṛṣṇa, Rādhārāṇī and Their associates, the damsels of Vraja, are composed of material nature. One should know perfectly well that all such manifestations are expansions of eternal bliss and knowledge in the transcendental world. They have nothing to do with these material bodies; thus the bodies, dresses, decorations and activities of the damsels of Vṛndāvana are not of this material cosmic manifestation. The damsels of Vṛndāvana are not a subject for the attraction of those in the material world; they are transcendental attractions for the all-attractive Kṛṣṇa. Because the Lord is all-attractive, He is called Kṛṣṇa, but the damsels of Vṛndāvana are attractive even to Kṛṣṇa. Therefore they are not of this material world.

If one wrongly thinks that the material body is as perfect as the spiritual body and begins to imitate the damsels of Vṛndāvana, he becomes infested with the Māyāvādī impersonal philosophy. The impersonalists recommend a process of ahaḿ grahopāsanā by which one worships his own body as the Supreme. Thinking in this way, such pseudo-transcendentalists dress themselves as the damsels of Vraja. Such activities are not acceptable in devotional service. Even Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, the most authoritative ācārya in the Gauḍīya sampradāya, has condemned these imitators. The process of transcendental realization is to follow in the footsteps of the associates of the Supreme Lord; therefore if one thinks himself to be a direct associate of the Supreme Lord, he is condemned. According to authorized Vaiṣṇava principles, one should follow a particular devotee, and not think of himself as Kṛṣṇa's associate.

In this way Rāmānanda Rāya explained that one should accept the mood of the damsels of Vraja. In Caitanya-caritāmṛta it is clearly said that one should accept the emotional activities and not imitate the dress of the associates of Kṛṣṇa. One should also always meditate upon the affairs between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in the transcendental world. One should think of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa twenty-four hours a day and eternally engage in Their service. One need not externally change his dress. By following the mood of the associates and friends of Rādhārāṇī, one can ultimately achieve the perfectional stage and be transferred to Goloka Vṛndāvana, the transcendental abode of Kṛṣṇa.

The mood of the gopīs' emotional pursuit is called siddha-deha. This word indicates the pure spiritual body which is beyond the senses, mind and intelligence. Siddha-deha is the purified soul who is just suitable to serve the Supreme Lord. No one can serve the Supreme Lord as His associate without being situated in his pure spiritual identity. That identity is completely free from all material contamination. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, a materially contaminated person transmigrates to another material body by material consciousness. At the time of death he thinks materially and is therefore transferred into another material body. Similarly, when one is situated in his pure spiritual identity and thinks of the spiritual loving service rendered to the Supreme Lord, he is transferred to the spiritual kingdom to enter into the association of Kṛṣṇa. In other words, by attaining one's spiritual identity and thinking of Kṛṣṇa's associates, one can become qualified to transfer to the spiritual kingdom. No one can contemplate or think of the activities of the spiritual kingdom without being situated in his pure, spiritual identity (siddha). Thus Rāmānanda Rāya said that without attaining siddha-deha, one can neither become an associate of the damsels nor render service directly to the Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, and His eternal consort Rādhārāṇī. In this regard, Rāmānanda quoted Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.47.60):

nāyaḿ śriyo 'ńga u nitāntarateḥ prasādaḥ

svar-yoṣitāḿ nalina-gandha-rucāḿ kuto 'nyāḥ

rāsotsave 'sya bhujadaṇḍa-gṛhīta-kaṇṭha-

labdhāśiṣāḿ ya udagād vraja-vallavīnām

"Neither the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī, nor even the damsels of the heavenly kingdom can attain the facilities of the damsels of Vrajabhūmi — and what to speak of others."

Lord Caitanya was very satisfied to hear these statements from Rāmānanda Rāya, and He embraced him. Then both of them began to cry in the ecstasy of transcendental realization. Thus the Lord and Rāmānanda Rāya discussed the transcendental pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa throughout the night, and in the morning they separated. Rāmānanda left to go to his place, and the Lord went to take His bath.

At the time of separation, Rāmānanda fell at the feet of Lord Caitanya and prayed: "My dear Lord, You have come just to deliver me from this mire of nescience. Therefore I request that You remain here for at least ten days to purify my mind of this material contamination. There is no one else who can deliver such transcendental love of God."

"I have come to you to purify Myself by hearing from you the transcendental pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa," the Lord replied. "I am so fortunate, for you are the only teacher of such transcendental pastimes. I can find no one else in the world who can realize the transcendental loving reciprocation between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. You are asking Me to stay here for ten days, but I feel like remaining with you for the rest of My life. Please come to Jagannātha Purī, My headquarters, and we will remain together for the rest of our lives. Thus I can pass My remaining days in understanding Kṛṣṇa and Rādhā by your association."

Śrīman Rāmānanda Rāya came again to see the Lord the next evening, and there were further discourses on this transcendental subject matter.

"What is the highest standard of education?" Lord Caitanya began His inquiry, and Rāmānanda Rāya immediately replied that the highest standard of education is knowledge of the science of Kṛṣṇa. The standard of material education is sense gratification, but the highest standard of spiritual education is knowledge of the science of Kṛṣṇa. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (4.29.50) it is stated that that work which pleases the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the highest work, and that science or knowledge which places one in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the highest knowledge. Similarly, Prahlāda Mahārāja, while instructing his childhood friends at school, also stated that hearing of the Lord, chanting, remembering, worshiping, praying, serving, making friends with Kṛṣṇa, and offering everything to Him constituted the highest spiritual knowledge.

"And what is the greatest reputation one can have?" Lord Caitanya asked Rāmānanda Rāya, and Rāmānanda immediately replied that a person reputed to be Kṛṣṇa conscious should be considered the most famous man in the world.

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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness