The Nectar of Devotion – CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX – KṚṢṆA’S TRANSCENDENTAL QUALITIES, HIS UNCOMMON ACTIVITIES AND HIS SMILE

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KṚṢṆA’S TRANSCENDENTAL QUALITIES, HIS UNCOMMON ACTIVITIES AND HIS SMILE

As far as Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental qualities are concerned, they can be divided into three groups: qualities pertaining to His transcendental body, qualities pertaining to His transcendental speech and qualities pertaining to His transcendental mind.

Kṛṣṇa’s age, His transcendental bodily features, His beauty and His mildness are qualities pertaining to His body. There is no difference between Kṛṣṇa and His body, and therefore the transcendental features pertaining to His body are the same as Kṛṣṇa Himself. But because these qualities stimulate the devotee’s ecstatic love, they have been analyzed as separate causes of that love. To be attracted by the qualities of Kṛṣṇa means to be attracted by Kṛṣṇa Himself, because there is no real distinction between Kṛṣṇa and His qualities. Kṛṣṇa’s name is also Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa’s fame is also Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa’s entourage is also Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa and everything related with Kṛṣṇa that gives stimulation to love of Kṛṣṇa are all Kṛṣṇa, but for our understanding these items may be considered separately.

Kṛṣṇa is the reservoir of all transcendental pleasure. Therefore, the impetuses to love of Kṛṣṇa, although seemingly different, are not actually distinct from Kṛṣṇa Himself. In the technical Sanskrit terms, such qualities as Kṛṣṇa’s name and fame are accepted both as reservoirs of and as stimulation for love of Kṛṣṇa.

Kṛṣṇa’s age is considered in three periods: from His appearance day to the end of His fifth year is called kaumāra, from the beginning of the sixth year up to the end of the tenth year is called paugaṇḍa, and from the eleventh to the end of the fifteenth year is called kaiśora. After the beginning of the sixteenth year, Kṛṣṇa is called a yauvana, or a youth, and this continues with no change.

As far as Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental pastimes are concerned, they are mostly executed during the kaumāra, paugaṇḍa and kaiśora periods. His affectionate pastimes with His parents are executed during His kaumāra age. His friendship with the cowherd boys is exhibited during the paugaṇḍa period. And His friendship with the gopīs is exhibited during the age of kaiśora. Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes in Vṛndāvana are finished by the end of His fifteenth year, and then He is transferred to Mathurā and Dvārakā, where all other pastimes are performed.

Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī gives us a vivid description of Kṛṣṇa as the reservoir of all pleasure in his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu. Here are some parts of that description.

Kṛṣṇa’s kaiśora age may be divided into three parts. In the beginning of His kaiśora age – that is, at the beginning of His eleventh year – the luster of His body becomes so bright that it becomes an impetus for ecstatic love. Similarly, there are reddish borders around His eyes and a growth of soft hairs on His body. In describing this early stage of His kaiśora age, Kundalatā, one of the residents of Vṛndāvana, said to her friend, “My dear friend, I have just seen an extraordinary beauty appearing in the person of Kṛṣṇa. His blackish bodily hue appears just like the indranīla jewel. There are reddish signs on His eyes, and small soft hairs are coming out on His body. The appearance of these symptoms has made Him extraordinarily beautiful.”

In this connection, in the Tenth Canto, twenty-first chapter, verse 5 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Śukadeva Gosvāmī tells King Parīkṣit, “My dear King, I shall try to describe how the minds of the gopīs became absorbed in thought of Kṛṣṇa. The gopīs would meditate on Kṛṣṇa’s dressing Himself just like a dancing actor and entering the forest of Vṛndāvana, marking the ground with His footprints. They meditated on Kṛṣṇa’s having a helmet with a peacock feather and wearing earrings on His ears and yellow-gold colored garments covered with jewels and pearls. They also meditated on Kṛṣṇa’s blowing His flute and on all the cowherd boys’ singing of the glories of the Lord.” That is the description of the meditation that the gopīs used to perform.

Sometimes the gopīs would think about His soft nails, His moving eyebrows and His teeth, which were catechu-colored from chewing pan. One description was given by a gopī to her friend: “My dear friend, just see how the enemy of Agha has assumed such wonderful features! His brows are just like the bow of Cupid, and they are moving just as though they were dancing. The tips of His nails are so soft – it is as if they were dried bamboo leaves. His teeth are reddish, and so it appears that He has assumed a feature of anger. Under the circumstances, where is the chance for a young girl not to be attracted by such beautiful features and not to be afraid of becoming a victim to such beauty?”

Kṛṣṇa’s attractive features are also described by Vṛndā, the gopī after whom Vṛndāvana was named. She told Kṛṣṇa, “My dear Mādhava, Your newly invented smile has so captivated the hearts of the gopīs that they are simply unable to express themselves! As such, they have become bewildered and will not talk with others. All of these gopīs have become so affected that it is as if they had offered three sprinkles of water upon their lives. In other words, they have given up all hope for their living condition.” According to the Indian system, when a person is dead there is a sprinkling of water on the body. Thus, the statement of Vṛndā shows that the gopīs were so enchanted by the beauty of Kṛṣṇa that because they could not express their minds, they had decided to commit suicide.

When Kṛṣṇa arrived at the age of thirteen to fourteen years, His two arms and chest assumed an unspeakable beauty, and His whole form became simply enchanting. When Kṛṣṇa attained thirteen years of age, His two thighs were challenging the trunks of elephants, His rising chest was trying to come to peace talks with doors of jewels, and His two arms were minimizing the value of the bolts found on doors. Who can describe the wonderful beauty of these features of Kṛṣṇa? The special beauty of Kṛṣṇa’s body was His mild smiling, His restless eyes and His world-enchanting songs. These are the special features of this age.

There is a statement in this connection that Kṛṣṇa, on arriving at this age, manifested such beautiful bodily features that His restless eyes became the playthings of Cupid and His mild smile resembled the newly grown lotus flower. The enchanting vibration of His songs became a great impediment to the young girls, who were supposed to remain chaste and faithful to their husbands.

At this age Kṛṣṇa enjoyed the rāsa-līlā, exhibiting His power of joking with the cowherd girls and enjoying their company in the bushes of the gardens by the bank of the Yamunā.

In this connection there is the following statement: “Throughout the whole tract of land known as Vṛndāvana there were the footprints of Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs, and in some places peacock feathers were strewn about. In some places there were nice beddings in the bushes of the Vṛndāvana gardens, and in some places there were piles of dust due to the group-dancing of Govinda and the gopīs.” These are some of the features which are due to the different pastimes invented by Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the place known as Vṛndāvana.

There is the following statement by one gopī, describing Kṛṣṇa’s attractive feature during this age: “My dear friend, just see how all of a sudden in the sky of Kṛṣṇa there is a powerful rising sun and how this rising sun is minimizing the rays of our chastity moon. Our attraction for Kṛṣṇa is so intense that it is drying up the lotus flower of our discrimination, and we are losing our senses in deciding whether we shall continue as chaste women or be victimized by the beauty of Kṛṣṇa. My dear friend, I think that we have lost all hope of life!”

In the kaiśora age, beginning from the eleventh year and continuing up to the end of the fifteenth year, Kṛṣṇa’s arms, legs and thighs became marked with three divisional lines. At that time Kṛṣṇa’s chest challenged a hill of marakata jewels, His arms challenged pillars of the indranīla jewel, the three lines of His waist challenged the waves of the river Yamunā, and His thighs challenged beautiful bananas. One gopī said, “With all these exquisite features of His body, Kṛṣṇa is too extraordinarily beautiful, and therefore I am always thinking of Him to protect me, because He is the killer of all demons.”

The idea expressed in this statement is that the gopīs were comparing their attraction for Kṛṣṇa to an attack by demons; and to counteract their attraction for the beauty of Kṛṣṇa, they were also turning to Kṛṣṇa hopefully, because He is the killer of all kinds of demons. In other words, they were perplexed, because on one hand they were attracted by the beauty of Kṛṣṇa, and on the other they needed Kṛṣṇa to drive away the demon of such attraction.

This kaiśora age can be translated as adolescence. At the end of this period all the gopīs said, “Kṛṣṇa is the killer of the attraction of Cupid, and as such He disturbs the patience of all newly married girls. Kṛṣṇa’s bodily features have become so exquisite – it is as if they were all manifesting an artistic sense of the highest sort. His dancing eyes have dimmed the brilliance of the most expert dancer, and so there is no longer any comparison to the beauty of Kṛṣṇa.” Learned scholars therefore describe the features of His body at this time as nava-yauvana, newly invented youthfulness. At this stage of Kṛṣṇa’s bodily features, the conjugal love affairs with the gopīs and similar pastimes become very prominent.

There are six features of conjugal love affairs called peacemaking, picking a quarrel, going to meet one’s lover, sitting together, separation and support. Lord Kṛṣṇa expanded an empire of these six features, of which He was the ruling prince. Somewhere He was picking quarrels with the young girls, somewhere He was scratching them with the nails of parrots, somewhere He was busy going to visit the gopīs, and somewhere He was negotiating through cowherd friends to take shelter of the gopīs.

Some of the gopīs addressed Him thus: “Dear Kṛṣṇa, because of Your adolescent age, You have just become the spiritual master of these young girls, and You are teaching them to whisper among themselves. You are teaching them to offer solemn prayers, as well as training them to cheat their husbands and to join You in the gardens at night without caring for the instructions of their superiors. You are enthusing them by the vibration of Your enchanting flute; and, as their teacher, You are teaching them all the intricacies of loving affairs.”

It is said that even when Kṛṣṇa was a boy of five He manifested such youthful energies, but learned scholars do not explain them because of the absence of suitable age. Kṛṣṇa was beautiful because every part of His body was perfectly arranged without any defect. Such perfect bodily features of Kṛṣṇa are described as follows: “My dear enemy of Kaṁsa, Your broad eyes, Your rising chest, Your two pillarlike arms and the thin middle portion of Your body are always enchanting to every lotus-eyed beautiful girl.” The ornaments on the body of Kṛṣṇa were not actually enhancing His beauty, but just the reverse – the ornaments were beautified by Kṛṣṇa.

A person is called mild when he cannot even bear the touch of the most soft thing. It is described that every part of Kṛṣṇa’s body was so soft that even at the touch of newly grown leaves, the color of the touched part of His skin would change. At this kaiśora age, Kṛṣṇa’s endeavors were always bent toward arranging the rāsa dance as well as toward killing the demons in the forest of Vṛndāvana. While Kṛṣṇa was engaged in enjoyment with the boys and girls within the forest of Vṛndāvana, Kaṁsa used to send his associates to kill Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa would show His prowess by killing them.

KṚṢṆA’S APPAREL AND GARLANDS

Generally, there are four kinds of garments on the body of Kṛṣṇa: His shirt, turban, belt and wearing garments. In Vṛndāvana, He used to put on reddish garments, with a golden shirt on His body and an orange-colored turban on His head. The different kinds of belts, combined with His enchanting smile, used to always increase the transcendental bliss of His associates. This dress of Kṛṣṇa is described as gorgeous. As a baby elephant is sometimes dressed in colorful clothing, so Kṛṣṇa’s gorgeousness was manifested by decoration with such colorful clothing on the different parts of His body.

Ākalpa refers to the texture of Kṛṣṇa’s hair, His nicely dressed body anointed with sandalwood pulp and decorated with flower garlands, His tilaka and His chewing pan. Kṛṣṇa was decorated constantly in this ākalpa process. Kṛṣṇa’s hair was sometimes decorated with flowers placed on the middle of His head, or else it was reaching down to His back. In this way Kṛṣṇa dressed His hair differently at different times. As for the ointment on His body, the pulp of sandalwood generally appeared to be white, and when it was mixed with saffron dye it appeared to be yellow.

Kṛṣṇa used to put a vaijayantī garland around His neck. This vaijayantī garland is made of flowers of at least five different colors. Such a garland was always long enough to touch Kṛṣṇa’s knees or feet. Besides this garland of flowers, there were other kinds of flower garlands too – sometimes decorating His head, sometimes hanging around His neck and chest. Artistic paintings with sandalwood pulp and colored sandalwood were also to be found on the body of Kṛṣṇa.

One gopī addressed her friend and began to praise the bodily features of Kṛṣṇa. She praised His blackish complexion, the reddish color of chewing pan enhancing His beauty hundreds of times, the curling hair on His head, the kuṅkuma* red spots on His body and the tilaka on His forehead.

* Kuṅkuma is a sweetly flavored reddish powder that is thrown on the bodies of worshipable persons.

His helmet, His earrings, His necklace, His four garments, the bangles on His head, the rings on His fingers, His ankle bells and His flute – these are the different features of Kṛṣṇa’s ornaments. Kṛṣṇa, the enemy of Agha, always looked beautiful with His incomparable helmet, His earrings made of diamonds, His necklace of pearls, His bangles, His embroidered garments and the beautiful rings on His fingers.

Kṛṣṇa is sometimes called vana-mālī. Vana means “forest,” and mālī means “gardener,” so vana-mālī refers to one who extensively uses flowers and garlands on different parts of His body. Kṛṣṇa was dressed like this not only in Vṛndāvana but also on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra. Seeing such colorful dress and the garlands of different flowers, some great sages prayed, “Lord Kṛṣṇa was going to the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra not to fight, but to grace all of the devotees with His presence.”

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