When a devotee is permanently situated in devotional service, and by different symptoms of ecstasy he has developed and matured a fraternal mellow or flavor in relationship with the Personality of Godhead, his feeling is called fraternal love of Godhead.
The impetus for such fraternal love of God is God Himself. When one is liberated and discovers his eternal relationship with the Supreme Lord, the Lord Himself becomes the impetus for increasing fraternal love. The eternal associates of the Lord in Vrndavana have described this as follows: "The Lord, Hari, whose bodily hue is like the indranila jewel, whose smiling is as beautiful as the kunda flower, whose silk dress is as yellow as golden autumn foliage, whose chest is beautified with garlands of flowers and who is always playing upon His flute-this enemy of the Agha demon is always attracting our hearts by wandering about Vrndavana."
There are similar statements of fraternal love expressed outside the jurisdiction of Vrndavana. When the sons of Pandu, headed by Maharaj Yudhisthira, saw Krsna in His fourhanded form on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, holding His conchshell, disc, club and lotus flower, they completely forgot themselves and became merged in the ocean of nectarean happiness. This shows how the sons of Pandu-King Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva-were all caught up in fraternal love for Krsna.
Sometimes the different names, forms, paraphernalia and transcendental qualities provoke fraternal love: For instance, Krsna's nice dress, the all-auspicious symptoms on His body, His strongly-built body, His knowledge of different languages, His learned teachings in the Bhagavad-gita, His uncommon genius in all fields of endeavor, His exhibition of expert knowledge, His mercy, His chivalry, His behavior as a conjugal lover, His intelligence, His forgiveness, His attraction for all kinds of men, His opulence and His happiness-all provoke fraternal love.
The impetus to fraternal love upon seeing the associates of Krsna in Vrndavana is also very natural, for their personal bodily features, their qualities and dress are all equal to Krsna's. These associates are always happy in their service to Krsna, and they are generally known as vayasyas, or friends of the same age. The vayasyas are fully confident of protection by Krsna. Devotees sometimes pray: "Let us offer our respectful obeisances unto the vayasyas of Krsna, who are firmly convinced of Krsna's friendship and protection and whose devotion to Krsna is ever-fixed. They are fearless, and on a level equal with Krsna they discharge their transcendental loving devotional service." Such eternal vayasyas are also found beyond the jurisdiction of Vrndavana, in places such as Dvaraka and Hastinapura. Except for Vrndavana, all the places of Krsna's pastimes are called puras (towns). Mathura and Hastinapura, the capital of the Kurus, are both puras. Personalities like Arjuna, Bhima, Draupadi and Sridama Brahmana are counted among Krsna's fraternal devotees in the puras.
How the sons of Pandu, the Pandavas, enjoy Krsna's association is described as follows: "When Sri Krsna arrived in Indraprastha, the capital of the Kurus, Maharaj Yudhisthira immediately came out to smell the flavor of Krsna's head." It is the Vedic custom that superiors smell the heads of their subordinates when the subordinates offer respect to the superior by touching his feet. Similarly, Arjuna and Bhima embraced Krsna with great jubilation, and the two younger brothers, namely Nakula and Sahadeva, touched the lotus feet of Krsna with tears in their eyes and offered their respects. In this way all the five Pandava brothers enjoyed the fraternal friendship of Krsna in transcendental mellow. Of the five Pandavas, Arjuna is the most intimately connected with Krsna. He has a nice bow in his hand which is called Gandiva. His thighs are compared with the trunks of elephants, and his eyes are always reddish. When Krsna and Arjuna are together on a chariot, they become celestial beauties, pleasing to the eyes of everyone. It is said that once Arjuna was lying in his bed with his head upon Krsna's lap and was talking and joking with Krsna in great relaxation and was enjoying Krsna's company with smiling and great satisfaction.
As far as the vayasyas (friends) in Vrndavana are concerned, they become greatly distressed when they cannot see Krsna even for a moment.
There is the following prayer by a devotee for the vayasyas in Vrndavana: "All glories to Krsna's vayasyas, who are just like Krsna in their age, qualities, pastimes, dress and beauty. They are accustomed to playing on their flutes made of palm leaves, and they all have buffalo-horn bugles ornamented like Krsna's with jewels such as indranila and with gold and coral. They are always jubilant like Krsna. May these glorious companions of Krsna always protect us!"
The vayasyas in Vrndavana are in such intimate friendship with Krsna that sometimes they think themselves as good as Krsna. Here is an instance of such friendly feeling: When Krsna was holding up Govardhan Hill with His left hand, the vayasyas said, "My dear friend, You have been standing for the last seven days and nights without any rest. This is very troublesome for us because we see that You have undertaken a severely laborious task. We think, therefore, that You need not continue to stand in that way holding the hill. You can just transfer it onto Sudama's hand. We are very much aggrieved to see You in this position. If you think that Sudama is not able to support Govardhan Hill, then at least You should change hands. Instead of supporting it with Your left hand, please transfer it to Your right hand, so that we can give Your left hand a massage." This is an instance of intimacy, showing how much the vayasyas considered themselves to be equal to Krsna.
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Tenth Canto, 12th Chapter, 10th verse, Sukadeva Gosvami tells King Pariksit: "My dear King, Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead to the learned transcendentalist, He is the supreme happiness for the impersonalist, He is the supreme worshipable Deity for the devotee, and He is just like an ordinary boy to one who is under the spell of maya. And just imagine-these cowherd boys are now playing with the Supreme Person as though they are on an equal level! By this anyone can understand that these boys must have accumulated heaps of the results of pious activities to enable them to associate with the Supreme Personality of Godhead in such intimate friendship."
There is a description of Krsna's feeling for His vayasyas in Vrndavana. He once said to Balarama, "My dear brother, when My companions were being devoured by the Aghasura, hot tears poured down from My eyes. And as they were washing My cheeks, My dear elder brother, for at least one moment I completely lost Myself."
Within Gokula, Krsna's vayasyas are generally divided into four groups: 1) well-wishers, 2) friends, 3) confidential friends and 4) intimate friends. Krsna's well-wisher friends are a little bit older than Krsna, and they have some parental affection for Him. Because of their being older than Krsna they always try to protect Him from any harm. As such, they sometimes bear weapons so that they can chastise any mischievous persons who want to do harm to Krsna. Counted among the well-wisher friends are Subhadra, Mandalibhadra, Bhadravardhana, Gobhata, Yaksa, Indrabhata, Bhadranga, Virabhadra, Mahaguna, Vijaya and Balabhadra. They are older than Krsna and are always thinking of His welfare.
One of the elderly friends said, "My dear Mandalibhadra, why are you wielding a shining sword as though you were running toward Aristasura to kill him? My dear Baladeva, why are You unnecessarily bearing that heavy plow? My dear Vijaya, don't be unnecessarily agitated. My dear Bhadravardhana, there is no need to make these threatening motions. If you will all look more closely you will see that it is only a thunder cloud upon Govardhana Hill; it is not the Aristasura in the shape of a bull, as you have imagined." These older, well-wishing friends of Krsna had imagined a large cloud to be the Aristasura, appearing in the shape of a huge bull. In the midst of their excitement one of them ascertained that it was actually only a cloud on Govardhan Hill. He therefore informed the others not to take the trouble of worrying about Krsna, because there was no present danger from Aristasura.
Amongst the well-wisher friends, Mandalibhadra and Balabhadra are the chiefs. Mandalibhadra is described as follows: his complexion is yellowish, and his dress is very attractive. He always carries a stick of various colors. He wears a peacock feather on his head and always looks very beautiful. Mandalibhadra's attitude is revealed in this statement: "My dear friends, our beloved Krsna is now very tired from working with the cows in the pasturing grounds and from traveling all over the forests. I can see that He is very fatigued. Let me massage His head silently while He is taking rest in His house. And you, Subala-you just massage His thighs."
One devotee described the personal beauty of Baladeva as follows: "Let me take shelter of the lotus feet of Balarama, whose beauty is enhanced by the earrings touching His cheeks. His face is decorated with tilaka made from kasturi (musk), and His broad chest is decorated with a garland of gunja (small conchshells). His complexion is as white as an autumn cloud, He wears garments of blue color, and His voice is very grave. His arms are very long, touching His thighs, and He has shown His great strength by killing the Pralamba demon. Let me take shelter of this chivalrous Balarama."
Baladeva's affection for Krsna is illustrated in this statement to Subala: "My dear friend, please inform Krsna not to go to Kaliya's lake today. Today is His birthday, and so I wish to go along with Mother Yasoda to bathe Him. Tell Him He should not leave the house today." This shows how Balarama, Krsna's elder brother, took care of Krsna with parental love, within the scope of fraternal affection.
Friends who were younger than Krsna, who were always attached to Him and who gave Him all kinds of service, are called ordinary friends, or, simply, friends. Such ordinary friends are called sakhas, and the names of some sakhas are Visala, Vrsabha, Ojasvi, Devaprastha, Varuthapa, Maranda, Kusumapida, Manibandha and Karandhama. All of these sakha friends of Krsna sought only to serve Him. Sometimes some of them would rise early in the morning and immediately go to Krsna's place and wait at the door to see Krsna and to accompany Him to the pasturing grounds. In the meantime, Krsna would be dressed by Mother Yasoda, and when she would see a boy standing at the door, she would call him: "Well, Visala, why are you standing there? Come here!" So with the permission of Mother Yasoda, he would immediately enter the house. And while Mother Yasoda was dressing Krsna, he would try to help put on Krsna's ankle bells, and Krsna would jokingly strike him with His flute. Then Mother Yasoda would call, "Krsna, what is this? Why are You teasing Your friend?" And Krsna would laugh, and the friend would also laugh. These are some of the activities of Krsna's sakhas. Sometimes the sakhas would take care of the cows who were going hither and thither. They would tell Krsna, "Your cows were going off here and there," and Krsna would thank them.
Sometimes when Krsna and His sakhas went to the pasturing ground, Kamsa would send a demon to kill Krsna. Therefore, almost every day there was a fight with some different kind of demon. After fighting with a demon, Krsna would feel fatigued, the hairs on His head would be scattered, and the sakhas would immediately come and try to relieve Him in different ways. Some friends would say, "My dear Visala, please take this fan of lotus leaves and fan Krsna so that He may feel some comfort. Varuthapa, you just brush the scattered hairs on Krsna's head which have fallen upon His face. Vrsabha, don't talk unnecessarily! Immediately massage Krsna's body. His arms have become tired from fighting and wrestling with that demon. Oh, just see how our friend Krsna has become tired!" These are some examples of the treatment given to Krsna by the sakhas.
One of the sakhas, known as Devaprastha, is described as follows: he is very strong, a ready scholar, and is very expert in playing ball. He wears a white dress, and he ties his hair into a bunch with a rope. Whenever there is a fight between Krsna and the demons, Devaprastha is the first to help, and he fights just like an elephant.
One of the gopis once said to her friend, "My dear beautiful friend, when Krsna, the son of Maharaj Nanda, was taking rest within the cave of a hill, He was keeping His head on the arms of Sridama, and He was putting His left hand on Dama's chest. Taking this opportunity, Devaprastha, out of his strong affection for Krsna, immediately began to massage His legs." Such are the activities of Krsna's friends out on the pasturing grounds.
The more confidential friends are called priya-sakhas and are almost Krsna's age. Because of their very confidential friendship, their behavior is only on the basis of pure friendship. Other friends' behavior is on the ground of paternal love or servitude, but the basic principle of the confidential friends is simply friendship on an equal level. Some confidential friends are as follows: Sridama, Sudama, Dama, Vasudama, Kinkini, Stokakrsna, Amsu, Bhadrasena, Vilasina, Pundarika, Vitanka and Kalavinka. By their various activities in different pastimes, all of these friends used to give transcendental pleasure to Krsna.
The behavior of these confidential friends is described by a friend of Radharani, who told Radharani: "My dear graceful Radharani, Your intimate friend, Krsna, is also served by His intimate boyfriends. Some of them cut jokes with Him in mild voices and please Him very much by this." For example, Krsna had one brahmana friend whose name was Madhumangala. This boy would joke by playing the part of a greedy brahmana. Whenever the friends ate, he would eat more than all others, especially laddus, of which he was very fond. Then after eating more laddus than anyone else, Madhumangala would still not be satisfied, and he would say to Krsna, "If You give me one more laddu, then I shall be pleased to give You my blessings so that Your friend Radharani will be very much pleased with You." The brahmanas are supposed to give blessings to the vaisyas (farming and merchant caste), and Krsna presented Himself as the son of Maharaj Nanda, a vaisya; so the brahmana boy was right in giving blessings to Krsna. Thus Krsna was very pleased by His friend's blessings, and He would supply him with more and more laddus.
Sometimes a confidential friend would come before Krsna and embrace Him with great affection and love. Another friend would then come up from the rear and cover Krsna's eyes with his hands. Krsna would always feel very happy by such dealings with His confidential friends.
Out of all these confidential friends, Sridama is considered to be the chief. Sridama used to put on a yellow-colored dress. He would carry a buffalo horn, and his turban was of reddish, copper color. His bodily complexion was blackish, and around his neck there was a nice garland. He would always challenge Krsna in joking friendship. Let us pray to Sridama to bestow his mercy upon us!
Sometimes Sridama used to address Krsna: "Oh, You are so cruel that You left us alone on the bank of the Yamuna, and we were all mad from not seeing You there! Now it is our great fortune that we are able to see You here. If You want to pacify us, You must embrace each one of us with Your arms. But believe me, my dear friend, a moment's absence from You creates great havoc, not only for us but for the cows also. Everything becomes disarranged, and we become mad after You."
There are other friends who are still more confidential. They are called priya-narma, or intimate friends. Counted among the priya-narma friends are Subala, Arjuna, Gandharva, Vasanta and Ujjvala. There was talk among the friends of Radharani, the gopis, about these most intimate friends. One gopi addressed Radharani thus:ly "My dear Krsangi [delicate one], just see how Subala is whispering Your message into Krsna's ear, how he is delivering the confidential letter of Syama-dasi silently into Krsna's hand, how he is delivering the betel nuts prepared by Palika into Krsna's mouth, and how he is decorating Krsna with the garland prepared by Taraka. Did you know, my dear friend, that all these most intimate friends of Krsna are always engaged in His service in this way?" Out of the many intimate priya-narmas, Subala and Ujjvala are considered to be the most prominent.
Subala's body is described as follows. His complexion is just like molten gold. He is very, very dear to Krsna. He always has a garland around his neck, and he wears yellow clothing. His eyes are just like lotus flower petals, and he is so intelligent that by his talking and his moral instructions, all the other friends take the highest pleasure. Let us all offer our respectful obeisances unto Krsna's friend Subala!
The degree of intimacy shared by Krsna and Subala can be understood by the fact that the talks between them were so confidential that no one else could understand what they were saying.
The description of Ujjvala, another intimate friend, is given as follows. Ujjvala always wears some garment of orange color, and the movements of his eyes are always very restless. He likes to decorate himself with all kinds of flowers, his bodily hue is almost like Krsna's, and on his neck there is always a necklace of pearls. He is always very dear to Krsna. Let us all worship Ujjvala, the most intimate friend of Krsna!
About the confidential service of Ujjvala, this statement is to be found, addressed by Radharani to one of Her friends: "My dear friend, it is impossible for Me to keep My prestige! I wanted to avoid talking to Krsna anymore-but just see! There again is His friend, Ujjvala, coming to Me with his canvassing work. His entreaties are so powerful that it is very difficult for a gopi to resist her love for Krsna, even though she may be very bashful, devoted to her family duties and most faithful to her husband."
The following is a statement by Ujjvala, showing his jubilant nature: "My dear Krsna, O killer of Aghasura, You have extended Your loving affairs so much that You can be compared to the great ocean, which is without limitations. At the same time, the young girls of the world who are all searching after the perfect lover have become just like rivers running into this ocean. Under the circumstances, all these rivers of young girls may try to divert their courses to some other place, but at the end they must come unto You."
Amongst the groups of different friends of Krsna, some are well-known from various scriptures, and some are well-known by popular tradition. There are three divisions amongst Krsna's friends: some are eternally in friendship with Krsna, some are elevated demigods, and some are perfected devotees. In all of these groups there are some who by nature are fixed in Krsna's service and are always engaged in giving counsel; some of them are very fond of joking and naturally cause Krsna to smile by their words; some of them are by nature very simple, and by their simplicity they please Lord Krsna; some of them create wonderful situations by their activities, apparently against Krsna; some of them are very talkative, always arguing with Krsna and creating a debating atmosphere; and some of them are very gentle and give pleasure to Krsna by their sweet words. All of these friends are very intimate with Krsna, and they show expertise in their different activities, their aim always being to please Krsna.
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