Fraternal Loving Affairs
Krsna's age, His beauty, His bugle, His flute, His conchshell and His pleasing attitude all provoke love in friendship for Him. His exceptional joking abilities, exhibited sometimes by His pretending to be a royal prince, or even the Supreme Personality of Godhead, also give impetus to devotees developing love for Krsna in friendship.
Learned scholars have divided Krsna's age into three periods: the age up to five years is called kaumara, the age from the sixth to the tenth year is called pauganda, and the age from the eleventh to fifteenth year is called kaisora. While Krsna is spending His days as a cowherd boy, He is in the kaumara and pauganda ages. In the kaisora age, when Krsna appeared at Gokula, He acted as a cowherd boy, and then, when He was sixteen, He went to Mathura to kill Kamsa.
The kaumara age is just suitable for reciprocating the love of a child with Mother Yasoda. In the Tenth Canto, 13th Chapter, 9th verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sukadeva Gosvami tells King Pariksit: "My dear King, although Lord Krsna is the supreme enjoyer and the beneficiary of all kinds of sacrificial ceremonies, He still used to eat with His cowherd boyfriends. This is because at that time He accepted the pastimes of an ordinary boy, keeping His flute under His arm and His bugle on the right side in His belt, along with His cane. In His left hand He would hold a lump of rice paste with yogurt, and in His fingers would be pilu, the king of fruits. When He would thus sit amongst His friends, it would appear that He was the whorl of a lotus flower and that the friends surrounding Him were petals. As they thus enjoyed joking amongst themselves, the denizens of heaven would become struck with wonder and would only stare at the scene."
Krsna's pauganda age can be further divided into three periods-namely, the beginning, middle and end. In the beginning of the pauganda age there is a very nice reddish luster on His lips, His abdomen is very thin, and on His neck are circles like those on a conchshell. Sometimes, some outside visitors would return to Vrndavana to see Krsna and, upon seeing Him again, would exclaim, "My dear Mukunda, Your beauty is gradually increasing, just like the leaf on a banyan tree! My dear lotus-eyed one, Your neck is gradually manifesting circles like the conchshell. And in the shining moonlight Your teeth and cheeks are competing with the padmaraga jewels in their beautiful arrangement. I am sure that Your beautiful bodily development is now giving much pleasure to Your friends."
At this age Krsna was garlanded with various kinds of flowers. He used to put on a silk dress, colored with various kinds of dye. Such beautiful decorations are considered cosmetics for Krsna. Krsna would wear this dress when He used to go into the forest to tend the cows. Sometimes He would wrestle there with His different friends, and sometimes they would dance all together in the forest. These are some of the specific activities of the pauganda age.
The cowherd friends of Krsna were so happy in His company that they expressed their transcendental feelings within themselves thus: "My dear Krsna, You are always busy tending the cows which are scattered all over beautiful Vrndavana. You have a beautiful garland, a small conchshell, a peacock feather on Your turban, yellow-colored silk cloth, decorations of karnikara flowers on Your ears and a mallika flower garland on Your chest. Appearing so beautiful, when You pretend, just like an actor, to be fighting with us, You give us unlimited transcendental bliss."
When Krsna is more grown-up, in the middle age of pauganda, His nails become finely sharp, and His chubby cheeks become lustrous and round. On the two sides of His waist above His belt there are three distinct lines of folded skin, called tribali.
The cowherd boy friends of Krsna felt very proud of their association with Him. At that time the tip of His nose defeated the beauty of sesame flowers, the luster of His cheeks defeated the glow of pearls, and the two sides of His body were exquisitely beautiful. In this age Krsna wore a silk dress that glittered like lightning, His head was decorated with a silk turban covered with gold lace, and in His hand He carried a stick about fifty-six inches long.* Seeing this exquisitely beautiful dress of Krsna, one devotee addressed his friend in this manner: "My dear friend, just look at Krsna! See how He is carrying in His hand a stick which is bound up and down with golden rings, how His turban with golden lace is showing such a beautiful luster, and how His dress is giving his friends the highest transcendental pleasure!"
At the end of Krsna's pauganda age, Krsna's hair sometimes hangs down to His hips, and sometimes it becomes scattered. In this age His two shoulders become higher and broader, and His face is always decorated with marks of tilaka. When His beautiful hair scatters over His shoulders, it appears to be a goddess of fortune embracing Him, and this embracing is highly relished by His friends. Subala once addressed Him in this way: "My dear Kesava, Your round turban, the lotus flower in Your hand, the vertical marks of tilaka on Your forehead, Your kunkum-flavored musk and all of Your beautiful bodily features are defeating me today, although I am usually stronger than You or any of our friends. Since this is so, I do not know how these features of Your body can fail to defeat the pride of all the young girls of Vrndavana. When I am so defeated by this beauty, what chance is there for those who are naturally very simple and flexible?"
At this age Krsna took pleasure in whispering into the ears of His friends, and the subject of His talks was the beauty of the gopis, who were just tarrying before them. Subala once addressed Krsna thus: "My dear Krsna, You are very cunning. You can understand the thoughts of others; therefore I am whispering within Your ear that all these five gopis, who are most beautiful, have been attracted by Your dress. And I believe that Cupid has entrusted them with the responsibility of conquering You." In other words, the beauty of the gopis was capable of conquering Krsna, although Krsna is the conqueror of all universes.
The symptoms of the kaisora age are already described, and it is at this age that devotees generally most appreciate Krsna. Krsna with Radharani is worshiped as Kisora-kisori. Krsna does not increase His age that although He is the oldest personality and has innumerable different forms, His original form is always youthful. In the pictures of Krsna on the battlefield of Kuruksetra we can see that He is youthful, although at that time He was old enough to have sons, grandsons and great grandsons. The cowherd boy friends of Krsna once said, "My dear Krsna, You need not decorate Your body with so many ornaments. Your transcendental features are themselves so beautiful that You do not require any ornamentation." At this age, whenever Krsna begins to vibrate His flute early in the morning, all of His friends immediately get up from bed just to join Him in going to the pasturing grounds. One of the friends once said, "My dear cowherd friends, the sound of Krsna's flute from above Govardhan Hill is telling us that we need not go to search Him out on the bank of the Yamuna."
Parvati, the wife of Lord Siva, told her husband: "My dear Pancamukha [five-faced], just look at the Pandavas! After hearing the sound of Krsna's conchshell known as Pancajanya, they have regained their strength and are just like lions."
At this age, Krsna once dressed Himself up exactly like Radharani, just to create fun among His friends. He put on golden earrings; and because He was blackish, He smeared the pulp of kunkum all over His body in order to become as fair as She. By seeing this dress, Krsna's friend Subala became very astonished.
Krsna sometimes played with His intimate friends by engaging in fighting or wrestling with their arms, sometimes by playing ball, sometimes by playing chess, sometimes by carrying one another on the shoulders, and sometimes by exhibiting their expertness at whirling logs. And the cowherd friends used to please Krsna by sitting together with Him on coaches or on swings, by lying together on their beds, by joking together and by swimming in the pool. All these activities are called anubhava. Whenever all the friends would assemble in the company of Krsna, they would immediately engage in all these functions, especially in dancing together. Regarding their wrestling, one friend once asked Krsna, "My dear friend, O killer of the Agha demon, You are very proudly wandering among Your friends trying to exhibit Your arms as very strong. Is it that You are envious of me? I know that You cannot defeat me in wrestling, and I also know that You were sitting idly for a long time because You were hopeless of defeating me."
All the friends were very daring and would risk any difficulty, because they were confident that Krsna would help them to be victorious in all adventures. They used to sit together and advise one another what to do, sometimes inducing one another to be engaged in welfare work. Sometimes they would offer betel nuts to one another, decorate one another's faces with tilaka or smear pulp of candana on one another's bodies. Sometimes, for the sake of amusement, they used to decorate their faces in strange ways. Another business of the friends was that each of them wanted to defeat Krsna. Sometimes they used to snatch His clothing or snatch away the flowers from His hands. Sometimes one would try to induce another to decorate his body for him, and failing this, they were always ready to fight, challenging one another to combat in wrestling. These were some of the general activities of Krsna and His friends.
Another important pastime of the friends of Krsna was that they served as messengers to and from the gopis; they introduced the gopis to Krsna and canvassed for Krsna. When the gopis were in disagreement with Krsna, these friends would support Krsna's side in His presence-but when Krsna was not present, they would support the side of the gopis. In this way, sometimes supporting one side, sometimes the other, they would talk very privately, with much whispering in the ears, although none of the business was very serious.
The servants of Krsna were sometimes engaged in collecting flowers, decorating His body with valuable ornaments and trinkets, dancing before Him, singing, helping Him herd the cows, massaging His body, preparing flower garlands and sometimes fanning His body. These were some of the primary duties of the servants of Krsna. The friends and servants of Krsna were combined together in serving Him, and all of their activities are known as anubhava.
When Krsna came out from the Yamuna after chastising the Kaliyanaga, Sridama wanted to embrace Him first, but he could not raise his arms because of his great feeling of respect.
When Krsna used to play on His flute, the vibration appeared just like the roaring of clouds in the sky during the constellation of Svati. According to Vedic astronomical calculation, if there is rain during the constellation of the Svati star, any rain falling on the sea will produce pearls, and rain falling on a serpent will produce jewels. Similarly, when Krsna's flute roared like a thundercloud under the Svati constellation, the resulting perspiration on Sridama's body appeared to be just like pearls.
When Krsna and Subala were embracing one another, Srimati Radharani became a little envious, and hiding Her hot temperament She said, "My dear Subala, you are very fortunate, because even in the presence of superiors you and Krsna have no hesitation in putting your arms on each other's shoulders. I think it must be admitted that in your previous lives you have succeeded in many kinds of austerities." The idea is that although Radharani was accustomed to put Her arms on Krsna's shoulders, it was not possible for Her to do such a thing in the presence of Her superiors, whereas Subala could do so freely. Radharani therefore praised his good fortune.
When Krsna entered the lake of Kaliya, His intimate friends became so perturbed that their bodily colors faded, and they all produced horrible gurgling sounds. At that time all of them fell down on the ground as if they were unconscious. Similarly, when there was a forest fire all of Krsna's friends neglected their own protection and surrounded Krsna on all sides to protect Him from the flames. This behavior of the friends toward Krsna is described by thoughtful poets as vyabhicari. In vyabhicari ecstatic love for Krsna there is sometimes madness, dexterity, fear, laziness, jubilation, pride, dizziness, meditation, disease, forgetfulness and humbleness. These are some of the common symptoms in the stage of vyabhicari ecstatic love for Krsna.
When there are dealings between Krsna and His friends which are completely devoid of any feelings of respect, and they all treat one another on an equal level, such ecstatic love in friendship is called sthayi. When one is situated in this confidential friendly relationship with Krsna, one shows symptoms of love such as attraction, affection, affinity and attachment. An example of sthayi was exhibited when Arjuna told Akrura: "My dear son of Gandini, please ask Krsna when I shall be able to embrace Him in my arms."
When there is full knowledge of Krsna's superiority and yet in dealings with Him on friendly terms respectfulness is completely absent, that stage is called affection. There is one brilliant example of this affection. When the demigods, headed by Lord Siva, were offering respectful prayers to Krsna, describing the glorious opulences of the Lord, Arjuna stood before Him with his hand on His shoulders and brushed the dust from His peacock feather.
When the Pandavas were banished by Duryodhana and forced to live incognito in the forest, no one could trace out where they were staying. At that time, the great sage Narada met Lord Krsna and said, "My dear Mukunda, although You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the all-powerful person, by making friendship with You the Pandavas have become bereft of their legitimate right to the kingdom of the world-and, moreover, they are now living in the forest incognito. Sometimes they must work as ordinary laborers in someone else's house. These symptoms appear to be very inauspicious materially, but the beauty is that the Pandavas have not lost their faith and love for You, in spite of all these tribulations. In fact, they are always thinking of You and chanting Your name in ecstatic friendship."
Another example of acute affection for Krsna is given in the Tenth Canto, 15th Chapter, 15th verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam. In the pasturing ground Krsna felt a little tired and wanted to take rest, so He laid down on the ground. At that time, many cowherd boys assembled there and with great affection began to sing suitable songs so that Krsna would rest very nicely.
There is a nice example of the friendship between Krsna and Arjuna on the battlefield of Kuruksetra. When the fighting was going on, Asvatthama, the son of Dronacarya, unceremoniously attacked Krsna, although according to the prevailing rules of chivalry one's chariot driver should never be attacked by the enemy. But Asvatthama behaved heinously in so many ways that he did not hesitate to attack Krsna's body, although Krsna was acting only as charioteer for Arjuna. When Arjuna saw that Asvatthama was releasing various kinds of arrows to hurt Krsna, he immediately stood in front of Krsna to intercept all of them. At that time, although Arjuna was being harmed by those arrows, he felt an ecstatic love for Krsna, and the arrows appeared to him like showers of flowers.
There is another instance of ecstatic love for Krsna in friendship: Once when a cowherd boy named Vrsabha was collecting flowers from the forest to prepare a garland to be offered to Krsna, the sun reached its zenith, and although the sunshine was scorching hot, Vrsabha felt it as the moonshine. That is the way of rendering transcendental loving service to the Lord: When devotees are put into great difficulties-even like the Pandavas, as described above-they feel all their miserable conditions as great facilities for serving the Lord.
Another instance of Arjuna's friendship with Krsna is described by Narada, who reminded Krsna, "When Arjuna was learning the art of shooting arrows, he could not see You for so many days. But when You arrived there, he stopped all His activities and immediately embraced You." This means that even though Arjuna was engaged in learning about the military art, he had not forgotten Krsna for a moment, and as soon as there was an opportunity to see Krsna, he immediately embraced Him.
One servant of Krsna named Patri once addressed Him like this: "My dear Lord, You protected the cowherd boys from the hunger of the Aghasura demon, and You protected them from the poisonous effects of the Kaliya snake. And You also saved them from the fierce forest fire. But I am suffering from Your separation, which is more severe than the hunger of Aghasura, the poison of Lake Kaliya, and the burning of the forest fire. So why should You not protect me from the pangs of separation?" Another friend once told Krsna: "My dear enemy of Kamsa, since You have left us, the heat of separation has become extraordinary. And this heat is felt more severely when we understand that in Bhandiravana You are being refreshed by the waves of the cooling river known as Bhanutanaya [Radharani]." The purport is that when Krsna was engaged with Radharani, the cowherd boys headed by Subala were feeling great separation, and that was unbearable for them.
Another friend addressed Krsna thus: "My dear Krsna, O killer of Aghasura, when You left Vrndavana to kill King Kamsa in Mathura, all the cowherd boys became bereft of their four bhutas [the elements of earth, water, fire and space]. And the fifth bhuta, the air, was flowing very rapidly within their nostrils." When Krsna went to Mathura to kill King Kamsa, all the cowherd boys became so afflicted by the separation that they almost died. When a person is dead it is said that he has given up the five elements, known as bhutas, as the body again mixes with the five elements from which it was prepared. In this case, although the four elements of earth, water, fire and ether were already gone, the remaining element, air, was still very prominent and was blowing through their nostrils furiously. In other words, after Krsna left Vrndavana, they were always anxious about what would happen in His fight with King Kamsa.
Another friend once informed Krsna, "When one of Your friends was feeling much separation from You, there were tears covering his lotus eyes, and so the black drones of sleep became discouraged from entering his eyes and left that place." When there is a lotus flower, the black drones fly into it to collect honey. The eyes of Krsna's friend are compared to the lotus flower, and because they were full of tears the black drones of sleep could not collect honey from his lotus eyes and therefore left the place. In other words, because he was too much afflicted, his eyes were full of tears, and he could not sleep. This is an example of staying up at night because of separation from Krsna.
An example of helplessness is described in the following statement: "Due to Krsna's departure from Vrndavana to Mathura, Krsna's dearest cowherd boys felt as mentally light as possible. They were like fragments of cotton, lighter than the air, and were all floating in the air without any shelter." In other words, the minds of the cowherd boys became almost vacant on account of Krsna's separation, and they are compared with fragments of cotton floating in the air without any shelter. An example of impatience was also shown by the cowherd boys when Krsna went to Mathura. Out of the sorrow of separation, all these boys forgot to take care of their cowherding and tried to forget all the melodious songs they used to sing in the pasturing ground. At last they had no desire to live anymore, being separated from Krsna.
An example of stillness was described by a friend of Krsna, who informed Him in Mathura that all the cowherd boys had become just like leafless trees on the tops of hills. They appeared almost naked, skinny and frail, and did not carry any fruits or flowers. He informed Krsna that all the cowherd boys residing in Vrndavana were as still as the trees at the tops of hills. Sometimes they felt diseased from their separation from Krsna, and being so greatly disappointed, they were aimlessly wandering on the banks of the Yamuna.
There is also an example of madness caused by separation from Krsna. When Krsna was absent from Vrndavana, all the cowherd boys became bewildered, and having given up all kinds of activities, they appeared to be mad and forgot all their regular business. They were sometimes lying down on the ground, sometimes rolling in the dust, sometimes laughing and sometimes running very swiftly. All of these symptoms gave them the appearance of madmen. One friend of Krsna's criticized Him by saying, "My dear Lord, You have become the King of Mathura after killing Kamsa, and that is very good news for us. But at Vrndavana all the residents have become blind from their continuous crying over Your absence. They are full only of anxieties and are not cheered at all by Your becoming the King of Mathura."
Sometimes there were also signs of death caused by separation from Krsna. Once Krsna was told: "My dear enemy of Kamsa, because of their separation from You, the cowherd boys are suffering too much, and they are now lying down in the valleys, breathing only slightly. In order to sympathize with the boys' regrettable condition, even the forest friends, the deer, are shedding tears."
In the Mathura-khanda chapter of the Skanda Purana, there is a description of Krsna and Balarama, surrounded by all the cowherd boys, always engaged in taking care of the cows and calves. When Krsna was met by Arjuna at a potter's shop in the city of Drupadanagara, because of the similarity of their bodily features they made intimate friendship. This is an instance of friendship caused by the attraction of similar bodies.
In the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, 71st Chapter, 25th verse, it is stated that when Krsna arrived in the city of Indraprastha, Bhima was so overwhelmed with joy that, with tears in his eyes and a smiling face, he immediately embraced his maternal cousin. Following him were his young brothers Nakula and Sahadeva, along with Arjuna, and they all became so overwhelmed at seeing Krsna that with full satisfaction they embraced the Lord, who is known as Acyuta (the infallible). There is a similar statement about the cowherd boys of Vrndavana. When Krsna was on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, all the cowherd boys came to see Him, wearing jeweled earrings in their ears. Becoming so greatly overjoyed, they extended their arms and embraced Krsna as their old friend. These are instances of full satisfaction in friendship with Krsna.
In the Tenth Canto, 12th Chapter, 11th verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated that even after undergoing severe penances and austerities and performing the yogic principles, the great mystic yogis can hardly become eligible to achieve the dust of the lotus feet of Krsna, but the same Personality of Godhead, Krsna, is easily available to the vision of the residents of Vrndavana. This means there is no comparison to these devotees' great fortune. The friendly relationship of the cowherd boys with Krsna is a particular type of spiritual ecstasy almost similar to the ecstasy of conjugal love. It is very difficult to explain this ecstasy of loving affairs between the cowherd boys and Krsna. Great expert devotees like Rupa Gosvami and others express their astonishment at the inconceivable feelings which are in Krsna and His cowherd boy friends.
This particular type of ecstatic love shared between Krsna and His confidential friends further develops into parental love, and on from there it may develop into conjugal love, the most exalted humor or mellow of ecstatic love between Lord Krsna and His devotees.
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