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Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Why do we speak on rasa lila? We discuss rasa lila to please Srila Prabhupada, purify our heart, increase our devotion, dedicate our life to the Bhagavata (nityam bhagavata sevaya), deepen our love and attachment for Radha and Krishna, and to share the blessings of our teacher.

After publishing “Krishna Book” in 1969 as one of his foremost foundational works, Srila Prabhupada ordered all disciples to read it every night before sleeping. Thus, for the last 44 years, Krishna Book has been a main part of our life. And of all the lilas therein, Sri Krishna’s rasa-lila has especially thrilled and enlightened us regarding the divine reality of true love—pure, selfless, blissful and eternal: The immaculate, transcendental romantic love of Bhagavan Sri Krishna, Srimati Radharani and the beautiful cowherd damsels of Vraja.

To answer the often asked questions regarding Sri Krishna’s rasa-lila, we will quote His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada.

  1. Who can hear rasa-lila?

Srila Prabhupada: “One who has faith in Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead can both describe and hear the rasa-lila.”

  1. Who can speak rasa lila?

Srila Prabhupada: “One should hear the rasa-lila from an authorized spiritual master person in the disciplic succession who is always engaged in Krishna consciousness. In this way, one will understand the whole situation, lose all traces of lust, and be elevated to the highest standard of spiritual life.”

  1. What benefit does one get by hearing rasa-lila?

Srila Prabhupada: “One who actually hears the rasa-lila will become completely freed from lusty desire.” (“Krishna Book” chapter 33)

Indeed, this is a most astonishing benediction which Sri Suka Muni himself proclaims at the end of his rasa lila description.

vikriditam vraja-vadhu, bhir idam ca visnoh
sraddanvito ‘nusrnuyad, atha varnayed yah
bhaktim param bhagavati, pratilabhya kamam
hrd-rogam asv apahinot, yacirena dhirah

“A person who with a reverential attitude hears the transcendental pastimes of Sri Krishna with the damsels of Vraja from the mouth of a pure devotee and then describes those pastimes accordingly, achieves the supramundane loving service of Godhead [Sri Krishna] within no time and thereby drives away mundane lusty desires for sense gratification from his heart.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.33.39/trans: Srila Prabhupada “Search Ultimate Goal of Life”)

Second trans: “Anyone who faithfully and continually hears or describes Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s playful affairs with the young gopis of Vrndavana will attain Vraja madhurya Krishna prema, quickly destroy the heart disease of lust, and immediately become steady and serene.”

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally described the incredible power and benefit of Sri Krishna’s rasa-lila:

ye sune ye pade, tanra phala etadrsi //
sei bhavavista yei, seve ahar-nisi
tanra phala ki kahimu, kahane na yaya //
nitya-siddha sei praya, siddha tanra kaya

Mahaprabhu said, “Anyone who hears or speaks the rasa-lila will attain the fruit of being absorbed in bhava. Day and night such a person will serve Radha and Krishna, and his/her body will become perfect and transcendental [siddha-deha] like Sri Krishna’s eternal associates.” (Caitanya-caritamrta 3.5.49-50)

May all devotees now become inspired to hear, study, meditate and enter the rasa-lila of Radha and Krishna in order to see the most beautiful “smiling face of Krishna” and to experience the “five life airs” (panca-prana) of the Srimad Bhagavatam!

Srila Prabhupada ki jai! Srimad Bhagavatam ki jai! Radha Govinda Yugala ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

The benefits of reading, hearing or speaking Sri Krishna’s Rasa Lila portrayed in the Bhagavata are stupendous and absolutely astonishing. As Gaudiya Vaisnavas, we will find great encouragement to study this subject by hearing the following teachings of our founder, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and the world’s most famous preacher of “Krishna Consciousness”, 108 Sri Sri Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.

Once 500 years ago, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu instructed a Brahmin, Pradyumna Mishra, and all of us about the glories of Sri Krishna’s Rasa Dance described in Srimad Bhagavatam. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said:

vraja-vadhū-saṅge- kṛṣṇera, rāsādi-vilāsa
yei -jana -kahe,- śune, –kariyā- viśvāsa
hṛd-roga-kāma- tāṅra, tat-kāle haya- kṣaya
tina-guṇa-kṣobha- nahe, mahā-dhīra- haya,

“If one faithfully hears Sri Krishna’s rasa lila and other pastimes with the young brides of Vraja i.e. gopis, then one will no longer be agitated by maya; lust will be destroyed; and one will become very calm and peaceful.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu continues:

ujjvala- madhura- prema, bhakti -sei -pāya
ānande -kṛṣṇa-mādhurye, vihare -sadāya

“One will attain the sweet intimate loving seva of Sri Krishna, and always feel blissful by remembering Sri Krishna’s sweet Vraja lilas. (Caitanya Caritamrita 3. 5.45-47)

ye- śune, ye- paḍe, tāṅra –phala- etādṛśī
sei –bhāvāviṣṭa- yei, seve- ahar-niśi
tāṅra- phala- ki- kahimu, kahane- nā- yāya
nitya-siddha- sei, prāya-siddha- tāṅra- kaya

“One who hears or speaks rasa-lila will be immersed day and night in madhurya-bhava and Krishna’s seva. What more can I possibly say? One will attain a siddha deha, eternal spiritual body like one of Sri Krishna’s eternal associates.” (Caitanya Caritamrita 3.5.45-50)

You will be surprised to know that way back in 1969, Srila Prabhupada also glorified the hearing of rasa lila, and even encouraged it in the right circumstances. His Divine Grace even went so far as to say that conditioned souls, which means everyone on this planet, “SHOULD HEAR THE RASA LILA.” Please do the needful after deeply reflecting on the following statements Srila Prabhupada made in his BBT Kṛṣṇa Book printed in 1969.

In chapter 33 of Kṛṣṇa Book, Srila Prabhupada said:

“One who actually hears the rasa-lila will become completely freed from the lusty desire of sex life.

“The conditioned soul should hear the rasa-lila dance from an authorized spiritual master, who is in the disciplic succession, and is always engaged in Krishna consciousness. When a person hears the rasa-lila in this way, the effect will be sure: he will be elevated to the highest position of spiritual life.” (Krishna Book, Srila Prabhupada)

Bhagavata Rasa Lila ki jai! Gauranga Mahaprabhu ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s Rasa Lila is a completely divine, transcendental pastime. By hearing/reading it the sober and faithful learn about the secret, transcendental love affairs of the Supreme Absolute Truth, Bhagavan Sri Krishna, and His counter-part Absolute sakti, Srimati Radharani—Krishna’s innate power of divine beauty, love and bliss.

Sri Krishna’s rasa lila is indeed a richly emotive, exciting and endearing love story that somewhat resembles the classic secret love stories of Romeo & Juliet and Odysseus & Penelope. Thus from a completely uninformed, external, material viewpoint, one will misjudge and misconstrue the transcendental amorous affairs of Bhagavan Sri Krishna to be ordinary like any young lovers of this limited world.

However, there is a unique quality in Radha-Krishna’s love story that distinguishes it from any other. And what is that specialty? The Rasa Lila and all of Radhe-Syama’s Vraja madhurya-lilas are completely transcendental, transforming and transporting. Any form of sensual or mental contact with Radha-Krishna’s divine pastimes will purify one’s being and elevate one to the transcendental plane of eternal life.

In addition, one’s mind and heart will be transformed, overhauled so to speak. One will attain a new and sanctified heart and an immaculately pure mind—totally devoid of lust, anger, greed, envy and pride. Then the transcendental vehicle of one’s pure mind and heart will transport one to the spiritual realm, Goloka Vrndavana, wherein one will joyfully live, sport, play, love and relish boundless bliss in the eternal association of Sri Sri Srimati Radharani and Bhagavan Sri Krishna!

All around us, we see that Kamadeva, the King of mundane lust and desire has conquered the kingdoms of everyone’s hearts, leaving one and all in a perpetual state of anxiety, tension, frustration and dissatisfaction. Many many love stories—full of intrigue, competition, arguments and romantic interludes—have come and gone. Yet still we remain suffering from the searing pain of unrequited lust, that continually itching inner hankering for ultimate bliss and fulfillment.

A question then arises: “How can I get free from lust, and discover the unique inner bliss that’s my very birthright as a human being? How can I touch the love and joy that hides within transcendence?”

Radha-Krishna have revealed the secret by saying, “Come My children! Come enter Our Rasa Lila! We guarantee that your mind and heart will be fully conquered by Our immaculately pure and sweet selfless love!”

All the famous love stories, be they past, present or personal, are certainly very compelling, exciting, and heart stirring. But none of them have the power to “spiritualize” one’s existence and free one from the cycle of birth and death, samsara. And they can never give one the sweet taste of a bliss that never ends.

However, there is one love story from time eternal, the divine love story of Radha and Krishna, the Rasa Lila, which definitely gives to any partaker the boundless joy arising from a pure mind, and the ultimate bliss and fulfillment arising from a fully satisfied, love-drenched heart.

At the end of his Bhagavatam Rasa Lila narration (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.33.39), Sri Suka Muni offers the following gift, blessing and benediction to all his readers: “Anyone who faithfully hears or describes Bhagavan Sri Krishna playful, divine loving affairs with the youthful damsels of Vraja will attain the topmost form of devotion for Sri Krishna i.e. the sweet selfless love that Srimati Radharani cherishes for Her beloved Syamasundra.”

As Sri Radha’s love floods the heart, simultaneously one becomes quickly free from lust, the incurable disease of the heart. One becomes peaceful and wise—feeling completely refreshed, content, fulfilled and satisfied.

On one side, Kamadeva rules the world, conquering everyone’s hearts with lust and desire. On the other side is Kamadeva Sri Krishna, the aprakrta-madana, saksad manmatha manmatha, waiting to conquer our hearts with His love. By the mercy of Sri Krishna and the power of Rasa Lila, everyone can attain a full life of bliss, joy and satisfaction by serving, playing, dancing and whirling around and around with Radha and Krishna in Their endless dance of pure love—the Rasa Lila.

Radha-Krishna’s Rasa Lila ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

When portraying Sri Krishna’s divine Rasa Lila in his Ananda Vrndavana Campu (chapter 20), Srila Karnapura Kavi says, “Because it is impossible to describe the fantastic dancing of the individual gopis, the dancing of one favorite gopi of Radha’s group [Her asta-sakhis] will now be described, from which everything can be understood.”

Karnapura Kavi then highlights the most amazing Rasa Lila solo dance performance of one confidential sakhi of Srimati Radhika. Because the esteemed author does not name that gopi, that special sakhi could be Lalita, Visakha, Citra or perhaps Rangadevi. Every reader and commentator on the Rasa Lila will see Krishna’s divine love dance according to his/her own angle of vision [drsti-kon], heart’s devotion and spiritual realization.

Being in the Gaudiya Vaisnava spiritual lineage of Sri Advaita Prabhu, we choose to see and will now present that this “special gopi” is none other than Sri Visakha sakhi, our personal sakhi leader, yutesvari. Thus we present Sri Karnapura Kavi’s most beautiful portrayal of the amazing solo dance of Srimati Visakha-sakhi.

VISAKHA SAKHI’S AMAZING SOLO DANCE

“As the voices and instrumental music blend in a pleasant way, Visakha-sakhi, the embodied essence of the art of dancing, stands up amidst the singers to appear like the corolla center of a flower surrounded by golden petals. When the beat drops off, Visakha-sakhi appears like a devata making a sudden appearance amidst the clanging of musical instruments.

Visakha-sakhi’s waist is very thin waist and her breasts are heavy and swollen. While bending her delicate left and right hands to display the ardhendu (half-moon) and padmakosa (lotus bud) mudras, Visakha-sakhi glances slowly from right to left. Perspiring profusely, her body seems to be as soft as molten wax as Visakha-sakhi moves gracefully executing the most intricate dance steps.

According to the proper method, Visakha-sakhi extends and contracts her arms while touching her waist, forehead, neck and knees, and forming mudras such as hamsasya. Dancing in this way, Visakha-sakhi’s waist becomes even thinner and her breasts more firm. Her braid licks her heels and the three lines on her belly disappear.

When the beat stops, Visakha-sakhi waves her hands in the air and suddenly bends her back in such a way as to conquer the beauty of the campaka flower bow of Cupid. Fixing her knees firmly on the ground and stretching her arms out to the sides, Visakha-sakhi twirls around with lightning speed. Her ornaments jingle, her necklace and earrings swing, and swarms of bees circle around, being attracted by the fragrance of her mouth.

Visakha-sakhi appears like a golden wheel spun rapidly by a mad potter. The combination of the pale luster of her gold necklace, the redness of Visakha-sakhi’s lips, and the blackness of the bees make an extraordinary picture.

While contracting her belly, dropping her sash, and expanding her breasts, Visakha-sakhi digs her toes into the earth, straightens her legs and raises herself on her feet. Clenching her fists and pressing her thumb against her breasts, Visakha-sakhi recites the bol “tat-ta, ta-thai, tiki-da, tiki-thai in unison with the beat while ringing her bangles and ankle-bells.

When the song finishes, Visakha-sakhi suddenly disappears from the center of the circle and positions herself on the circumference of the rasa mandala. While the voices, vinas, flutes, karatalas, and mrdangas resound, Visakha-sakhi stands behind the singers, resting rests her arms on the shoulders of a friend.

While chewing betel nut, Visakha-sakhi extends her legs so that a manjari can untie the strings of her heavy, dancing ankle-bells. To relieve Visakha-sakhi’s fatigue her manjaris fan her with their shawls. Her breasts heaving, Visakha-sakhi takes a few deep breaths and falls asleep with her head on the tender lap of a blessed manjari.

After resting for some time, Visakha-sakhi hears the singers expertly recite the alapa to introduce a new song. Then Visakha-sakhi reenters the rasa mandala like Cupid personified. Illustrating the song with intricate mudras, Visakha-sakhi dances so enthusiastically that Siva becomes inspired to dance His perform His tandava dance.

Visakha-sakhi’s thumb is supremely beautiful, her forefinger excels the pride of Cupid, her middle finger defeats the grace of the universe, her ring finger defeats the pride of Cupid’s wife, and her little finger establishes the meaning of colorful expression.

Visakha-sakhi is most beautiful with her sparkling white teeth, raised firm breasts, and nicely shaped buttocks. While expertly dancing, Visakha-sakhi waves her graceful hands, and excites her golden bracelets to jingle attractively. Visakha-sakhi raises her knees and arms in turn to the beat of “tat-ta, ta-thai, tiki-da, tiki-thai.”

Golden-bodied Visakha-sakhi appears like continually rising golden light as she twists and turns higher and higher. Visakha-sakhi appears like a stream of golden pollen stirred up by a storm amongst a group of lotuses composed of singers and musicians.

As Visakha-sakhi sways in the sky like a glowing vine, she displays many complicated movements. Indeed, her unique dancing is not due to dance lessons.

As the essence of gracefulness, Visakha-sakhi’s feet never touch the ground. If a group of lightning bolts from a cloudless sky remains stationary for a long time swaying in the breeze and roaring with the beat “tat-ta, ta-thai” it might compare with Visakha-sakhi’s dancing. As the beat subsides and Visakha’s footsteps lighten, she sways her body back and forth, revealing the perfection of beauty in her upper limbs.

Visakha’s sakhis fear that her thin waist, unable to bear the bending, will break like a tender lotus stem. Jingling her golden ankle-bells to start, Visakha-sakhi then dances with great skill. Moving her feet to the different beats (laghu, guru, pluta, druta, drutata, and ardha drutapada), she rings ankle-bells. Sometimes Visakha-sakhi jingles only a few, and most amazingly, sometimes not even one bell resounds!

Being very satisfied with Visakha-sakhi’s extraordinary dance performance, Radha and Krishna cheer, “Very good! Very good!” and warmly embrace her. Visakha-sakhi’s most astonishing and uniquely spectacular solo dance performance completely astounds all the assembled Apasaras the leading Devatas of music and dance!

Radha-Krishna’s divine Rasa Lila ki jai! Srimati Visakha-sakhi ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By: Mahanidhi Swami

Every year in Vraja Dhama in spring time (Mar-Apr), cool sandal- scented southern breezes arrive to excite the hearts of Syama and His beloved cowherddamsels. Kamadeva, the invincible God of Eros, starts dancing in the minds of Krsna and gopis. The full moon rises majestically and illuminates the Rasa Mandala with royal crimson hues. In Gita Govinda, Sri Jayadeva Gosvami wonderfully describes this Vasanta Rasalila. Feeling anxious and lonely, Radhika searches for Her Priyatama Syama in each and every forest bower along the Yamuna. Suddenly, Radha discovers that Syama is nearby dancing and revelling in amorous sports amidst a group of playful gopis. Feeling indignant at being neglected, Radha runs away in a huff to hide inside a shady bower resounding with buzzing bees. Realizing His mistake, Syama abandons the gopis, goes to a lonely bower, and enters a deep state of depression and remorse in separation from His Priyaji Radhika. Sakhi messengers then run back and forth between the separated lovers, conveying news of each other’s feelings and changing attitudes.
Eventually Priyatama Syama pacified Priyaji’s wounded heart. Then the Divine Couple unite again in blissful embraces followed by spins and whirls, Bends and bows, glances and prances as they dance the night away in the joy of Rasalila.

Nikunjesvari Radharani ki jai!
Rasabihari Syama ki jai!