From the Book
With English commentary based on the Bengali commentary made by Sri Madhusudana Dasa Adhikari, Prabhupada Srila Ananda Gopala Gosvami and Radhakunda Mahanta Pandit Srimat Ananta Dasa Babaji Maharaja. Bengali songs that follow the commentaries are composed by Dr. Haripada Sila from Howrah.
This is the longest and most popular prayer to Srimat Radharani, which is sung by different sampradayas (devotee-traditions) of sacred Vrndavana. The entire text hangs on the wall of the Seva Kunja-garden in Vrndavana, each verse inscribed in one separate marble slab. Although this book appears to be full of erotic verses, the reader is reminded of the fact that this is not material, but transcendental eros. Hearing and chanting of these transcendental topics swiftly liberate the reciter and hearer from the heart’s disease of just, provided this hearing and chanting is done with faith, faith that this is the transcendental exchange between God (Krsna) and his internal potency (His svarupa sakti). Instead of becoming sexually agitated, the faithful practitioner of this upasana (subject of devotional meditation) will become free from the disease of lust. Srimad Bhagavata (10.33.40) states.
“Anyone who faithfully hears and chants the pastimes of Lord Visnu (Krsna) with the women of Vraja attains the highest devotion to God. He will swiftly be cured from the heart’s disease of lust and he will become steady (pure and saintly).”Ed.
Nindantam Pulakotkarena Vikasan Nipa Prasuna Chhabim Prorddhikrtya Bhuja Advayan Hari Harity Uccair Vadantam Muhuh Nrtyantam Drutam Asru Nirjhara Cayaih Sincantam Urvi-Talam Gayantam Nija Parsadaih Parivrtam Sri Gauracandram Numah
nindantam - mocking; pulaka - goosepimples; utkarena - with a multitude; vikasah - blooming; nipa - Kadamba; prasuna - flowers; chabim - splendour; prorddhikrtya - raising; bhuja - arm; dvayani - two; hari hari iti - Hari Hri!; uccaih - loudly; vadantam - saying; muhuh - repeatedly; nrtyantam - dancing; drutam - quickly; asru - tears; nirjhara - cascades; cayaih - abundances; sincantam - sprinkling; urvi - earth; talam - srface; gayantam - singing; nija - own; parsadaih - with associates; parivrtam - surrounded; sri gauracandram numah - obeisances to Sri Gauracandra.
I offer my obeisances unto Lord Gauracandra, who is surrounded by all His associates and whose body is studded with goosepimples of ecstasy that mock the beauty of blossoming Kadamba flowers. He raises His arms, repeatedly and loudly crying ‘Hari’! Hari!’ as he dances and sings, showering the surface of the earth with cascades of tears.
Comments: Sripala Prabhodhananda Sarasvati is the object of Sri Caitanya Mahaparabhua’s great mercy, so his mind and heart are always absorbed in the sweet pastimes, attributes and sentiments of Srimati Radharani in Vraja. Now he begins his delicious book of eager prayer named ‘Radha Rasa Sudhanidhi out of compassion for the devotees who aspire for the confidential service of Srimati Radharani’s lotusfeet. In this verse he praises his worshipable deity, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhua.
Vraja Vihari Sri Krsna accepted the mood and complexion of Sri Radha and became Gaura to fulfill three desires: to understand the greatness of Radha’s love, the wonderful qualities that She alone relishes in Him and the happiness She Feels when She realizes the sweetness of His love. In Vrndavana-lila, Krsna was the witness of the sweetness of Sri Radha’s love of which he Himself was the object, and in Gaura-lila He accepted the mood and luster of Sri Radha to understand the gravity of Her love. In the opening verse of his book ‘Radha Rasa Sudhanidhi, Sripada Prabodhananda Sarasvati draws a beautiful picture of how the full transcendental truth of Vraja (Sri Krsna) experience the sweetness of Radha’s emotions. Here Sripada follows the custom in the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition to praise Lord Gaura before commencing the description of Sri-Sri Radha-Madhava’s sweet pastimes. This is called ‘Gaura candrika’. In his book ‘Sri Caitanya Candramrta’ (88), Sripada writes:
“When a very fortunate soul experiences devotion for Lord Gaura’s lotusfeet, the nactarocean from Radha’s lotusfeet suddenly floods his heart.” Sri Gaurasundara has brought an unprecedented torch of Vraja-rasa, whose bright effulgence shows the devotees the way to the sweet bhajan of Sri Vrndavana, which is otherwise hard to see. And along with that sweet transcendental Vraja-rasa Mahaprabhu introduced Himself to the devotees of this world. Sri Vasu Ghosa sings:
“If Gaura had not come, how would the world have been? Who would have thought the world the greatness of Radha and the limt of prema rasa?
“Who would have shown the way to enter into the sweetness of Vrndavana and the anxious mood of the young girls of Vraja?” The only way to extinguish the burning sensation of the threefold material misery (caused by the elements, one’s own body or mind, or by other creatures) with a nectar-stream of love for Sri-Sri Radha-Govinda is mercy of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
In this verse Sripada Prabodhananda describes the sattvika ecstasies of Sri Gaurasundara as He takes pleasure in performing kirtana. Srila Rupa Gosvami defines these sattvika ecstasies as follows in Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhuh (2.3.1):
“When the hear is touched by emotions directly (in the form of the five basic relationships of servanthood, friendship, parenthood etc.) or indirectly (in the form of the seven secondary moods such as laughter, chivalry etc.) related to Krsna, the wise call it sattva, and the emotions coming from that are called sattvika bhavas.” The Lord had accepted the mood and luster of Sri Radha and had become the main shelter for His own rati, therefore the sattvika and other bhavas had become fully manifest in Him. This is confirmed in Caitanya Caritamrta:
“The Lord had become the main shelter of His own rasa, and so all ecstasies arose in Him.” Sripada sweetly depicts how Gauranga’s body displayed the unrivalled ecstasies derived from relishing the sweetness of Radha’s rasa within Himself by saying: nindantam pulakorena vikasan nipa prasuna cchabim “His body was beautified by goosepimples that mocked freshly blossoming Kadamba-flowers.” Mahaprabhu’s body manifested uddipta sattvika bhavas. Srila Rupa Goswami says in Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu (2.3.79):
Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality, is raso-uai-sah, the reservoir and enjoyer of all mellows and relationships. We can fully please Krsna only through rasa-upasana, worship performed with a deep specific mood and relationship. The five primary and seven secondary rasas generally please Krsna, but only madhurya-rasa, the amorous mellow of love, completely attracts and entrances Krsna. Indeed, Krsna’s every limb blossoms with beauty and joy when He is worshiped with madhurya-rasa, the most exalted divine love.
Krsna incarnated in this age in the form of Caitanya Mahaprabhu to taste and give a chance to enter the mellow of raga-bhakti, spontaneous loving devotion.
Prema-rasa-niryasa karite asuadana
raga-marga bhakti loke karite pracarana
rasika-sekhara krsna parama-karuna
ei dui hetu haite icchara udgama
The Lord's desire to appear was born from two reasons: He wanted to taste the sweet essence of the mellows of love of God, and He wanted to propagate devotional service in the world on the platform of spontaneous attraction. Thus He is known as supremely jubilant and as the most merciful of all.
To taste and enter the moods of radha-rasa or prema-rasa, Mahaprabhu renounced the external world and, after accepting the order of sannyasa, wandered throughout India to meet with Srimati Radhika's beloved associates who had appeared on Earth as devotees to distribute and relish the same mellows of divine love.
On the bank of the Godavari, Mahaprabhu met with Ramananda Raya, who is none other than Visakha-devi, Radharani's dear friend in Vraja, and for a series of days discussed the ultimate goal of life and the process to achieve it with him. Having discarded earthly morals, worldly dharma, and the various levels of regulated and mixed devotion as secondary, Mahaprabhu inquired into the deeper and deeper truths of spontaneous divine love. He desired to hear about radha-rasa, the esoteric mellows of the highest divine love, from one of Radharani's closest friends and expansions from Vraja, and to give an understanding to people of the process to enter this rasa-upasana-pure loving engagement to Sri Sri Radha-Krsna in a spiritual form.
Mahaprabhu asked Ramananda Raya, "How can we perform rasa-upasana and gain entrance into rasa-seva in transcendental Vraja? Where is this rasa present? Who is the personified form of rasa? And by what process can we become eligible for and engaged in divine loving service?"
‘krsnera svarupa' kaha 'radhara svarupa'
'rasa' kon tattva, 'prema’-kon tattva-rupa
Kindly explain the transcendental features of Krsna and Srimati Radharani. Also explain the truth of transcendental mellows and the transcendental form of love of Godhead.
Later, the process how to enter into rasa-upasana was further discussed with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, in the Gambhira :
ye rope laile nama prema upajaya
tara laksana-sloka sunu, svarupa-ramaraya
Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya lila.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, "O Svarupa Damodara Gosvami and Ramananda Raya, hear from Me the symptoms of how one should chant the Hare Krsna mahamantra to very easily awaken one's dormant love for Krsna.
Without understanding who is the rasa-svarupa, and without knowing how to take shelter of this personality, Krsna will not accept us in His highest loving rasa-rasika feature in Vraja. Krsna is visaya-vigraha, the Supreme Enjoyer. And the asraya-vigraha, the beloved who gives the greatest pleasure to Sri Krsna, is none other than svarupa-sakti, the ultimate potency from who all existence expands. She is the personified form of ecstatic amorous love, mahabhava-rasa-svarupini. To Her, Srimati Radha Thakurani, we eternally offer our obeisance.
We may think we will surrender directly to Krsna, the Supreme God of gods Himself, but where is He? He has fallen at the feet of the maidservants of Srimati Radhika and begs them to gain Him entrance into Her love bower. That Supreme Person Krsna wanders barefoot in Vraja, taking shelter of the personified deities of all the rasas. To one who follows in His footsteps, taking shelter of the Vraja-devis, the divine goddesses who are the expansions and reservoirs of radla-rasa, Krsna easily gives shelter and entrance in Vraja. Indeed, by surrendering to She who is the madhurya-rasa-vigraha, Srimati Radha Thakurani, one easily gains an understanding and engagement in all the rasas. To please and moreover attract and entrance Sri Krsna, we must take shelter of the asraya-vigraha-the shelter of divine love Herself.
In the year 1433 Sakabda (A.D. 1511) during the period of Caturmasya, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu resided at the abode of Sri Prabodhananda Sarasvati and his brothers Venkata Bhatta and Tirumalaya Bhatta in Sri Rangam. Our revered Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was the son of Venkata Bhatta. During His time there, Mahaprabhu daily spoke hari-katha with His associates. For the first three months of His four-month stay, Mahaprabhu spoke on the rules and regulations of sastra and the glories of Bhagavan’s incarnations. Then, during the month of Kartika, Mahaprabhu spoke on Damodara-vrata and the glories of Radha-Damodara.
Before leaving, Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructed Gopala Bhatta to stay with his parents until they passed on. Gopala Bhatta was then a boy and wanted to immediately follow Mahaprabhu to Vrndavana. Some years later, after completing the last rites for his parents, Gopala Bhatta came to Vrndavana with Prabodhananda Sarasvatipada.
Prabodhananda Sarasvatipada took up residence at Kaliya-hrada near the Yamuna and would regularly meet with the Six Gosvamis. He began composing numerous works in which he described how the Srutis, Smrtis, and Uponisads are devoted to the moods of the Vraja-devis and aspire to have their service and company. These personified bodies of knowledge performed sadhana for eons and finally achieved their desired goal.
Thereafter, Prabodhananda Sarasvati wrote Sri Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi and Sri Vrndauana-mahimamrta. He did this for the pleasure of his istadeva, Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu.
One who stays in Vrndavana engaged in bhajana under the guidance of sad-guru and Vaisnavas will in time, upon becoming fully immersed in rasamayi-bhakti, have realization of this storehouse of divine nectar. When this nectar enters the heart, one can achieve svarupa-siddhi and become qualified for direct krsna-seva. Krsna will not accept us into His service until we have realization of vraja-rasa and vraja-bhakti and follow the footsteps of the Vraja-devis, Prabodhananda Sarasvatipada drank the nectar of vraja-rasa that was given to him by Mahaprabhu, and then reserved it for us in this book.
Srila Gurudeva came to distribute the same unnata-ujjvala-rasa-sva-bhakti-sriyam. He therefore called everyone to Vrndavana. He took his followers on Vraja-mandala Parikrama and instructed them how to enter vraja-bhakti.
We now begin our study of Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi to please Srila Gurudeva and to understand how to meet him in transcendental Vraja. This book teaches us how to become qualified for eternal vraja-seva in our perfected spiritual forms. It is necessary for us to strive to understand and follow this. If we can do so, then we can realize all spiritual truths and achieve the supreme perfection of existence-direct service of the Divine Couple-Sri Sri Radha-Krsna. This is the best way to please Srila Gurudeva.
Guru-pada-padma is the distributor of rasamayi-bhakti. If we follow this rasamayi-bhakti and the path and teachings of the Gosvamis, Srila Gurudeva will be extremely pleased with us.
The book starts with the author's invocative utterance: Sri Sri Radha-ramana Jayati. Sri Radha-ramana is the worshipful Deity of Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami Prabodhananda Sarasvatipada would daily go from his bhajana-kutira at Kaliya-hrada for darsana of Sri Radha-ramana. He would meet with Gopala Bhatta Gosvami and also instruct Gopala Bhatta Gosvami's disciples from Vrndavana and Mathura on the subject of Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi.
Sri Prabodhananda Sarasvati taught us how to follow the footsteps of Srimati Radharani and always remember her. One who remembers Srimati Radharani and follows her footsteps will always be in Vraja-bhumi, and related to Krsna and the Vrajavasis.
Uddhava shared a profound friendship with Krsna and on account of their relationship, Krsna sent him from Mathura to meet with the Vrajavasis. Uddhava traveled to Vrndavana and met with Nanda Baba, Yasoda Mata, and others. He tried to inspire Nanda Baba and make him banish his sadness, but Nanda Baba said, "Truly, Uddhava, you still have the intelligence of a child. I thought you were a wise scholar. You say that we should be happy because we have the fortune of loving Krsna who is, in your opinion, God Himself. If you are correct and Krsna is God, then not only have we lost a son, but we have lost God Himself. In what way are we fortunate?"
Uddhava was greatly humbled in his meeting with Nanda Baba and Yasoda Mata. "I am truly very foolish," he thought.
Uddhava then thought about the Vraja-devis and considered how to meet with them. When he came nearby Uddhava-kyari, he meditated on Krsna and prayed to Him for darsana of His beloveds. He then met with Paurnamasi-devi. She approached him and asked, "What do you want?"
"I want to meet with the Vraja-devis," he replied.
"You have not yet touched the dust of Vraja. You appear to be in Vraja, but are not here in truth. You are still connected to the opulence of Dvaraka, by wearing so much fine clothing, gold, and various ornaments. Dressed like this, you are riding about on your shining chariot. This is not the proper etiquette that will grant you audience with the Vraja-devis who are deeply absorbed in separation from Krsna.”
If we want to have relationship with the Vrajavasis, we must first be in the proper vesa, outer dress, and parivesa, environment. Then we can have avesa, full absorption in our desired goal and meditation. Hearing Paurnamasi-devi's instruction, Uddhava changed his opulent attire for simple cloth, and smeared the dust of Vraja on his body. He then prayed to the Vraja-devis for their mercy and darsana. Now properly attired, he moved forward into the forest. He reached Uddhava-kyari on the bank of Govardhana. There, he saw once lush groves now dry and withered. Affected deeply by the feeling of lamentation in that place, he continued further inside the groves by Giriraja. From a distance he caught sight of the maidservants of Srimati Radharani serving their Svamini as She lay on a bed of flower petals. His heart melted and his nature completely changed. He was now in a state of avesa. He was absorbed in the Vraja-devis' love and exalted moods.
With his mood and heart now changed, he could understand some of the specialty and glory of the Vraja-devis. When Uddhava went back to Krsna, after meeting with the Vraja-devis, he said, "Now I realize that I have no pure love for you and that you are not really here with me and the mathuravasis; You are with the Vraja-devis in Vraja. I am so fortunate to have met the abodes of the highest form of bhakti to You."
When Krsna later returned to His eternal abode with all His associates, He had Uddhava remain behind, saying, "Stay in this world for some time. Go to Vraja-dhama and perform sadhanathere."
Uddhava resided at Uddhava-kyari and practiced sadhana to follow the Vraja-devis' footsteps and thereby understand that by their mercy, association, and guidance, he could truly meet Krsna and serve Him properly. This pastime teaches us how to enter Vraja and approach Krsna.
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