The Beauty of Kṛṣṇa
Kṛṣṇa is known as Madana-mohana because He conquers the mind of Cupid. He is also known as Madana-mohana due to His accepting the devotional service of the damsels of Vraja and rendering favors unto them. After conquering Cupid's pride, the Lord engages in the rāsa dance as the new Cupid. He is also known as Madana-mohana because of His ability to conquer the minds of women with His five arrows called form, taste, smell, sound and touch. The pearls of the necklace which hangs about the neck of Kṛṣṇa are as white as ducks, and the peacock feather which decorates His head is colored like a rainbow. His yellow garment is like lightning in the sky, and Kṛṣṇa Himself is like the newly arrived clouds. The gopīs are like footbells on His feet, and when the cloud pours rain on the grains in the field, it appears that Kṛṣṇa is nourishing the hearts of the gopīs by calling down His pastime rain of mercy. Indeed, ducks fly in the sky during the rainy season, and rainbows can also be seen at that time. Kṛṣṇa freely moves amongst His friends as a cowherd boy in Vṛndāvana, and when He plays His flute, all living creatures, mobile and immobile, become overwhelmed with ecstasy. They quiver, and tears flow from their eyes. Of Kṛṣṇa's various opulences, His conjugal love is the summit. He is the master of all riches, all strength, all fame, all beauty, all knowledge and all renunciation, and out of these, His perfect beauty is His conjugal attraction. The form of Kṛṣṇa, the conjugal beauty, is eternally existent in Kṛṣṇa alone, whereas His other opulences are present in His Nārāyaṇa form.
When Lord Caitanya described the superexcellence of Kṛṣṇa's conjugal attraction, He felt transcendental ecstasy, and, catching the hands of Sanātana Gosvāmī, He began to proclaim how fortunate the damsels of Vraja were, reciting a verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.44.14):
gopyas tapaḥ kim acaran yad amuṣya rūpaṁ
lāvaṇya-sāram asamordh vam ananya-siddham
dṛgbhiḥ pibanty anusavābhinavaṁ durāpam
ekānta-dhāma yaśasaḥ śriya aiśvarasya
"What great penance and austerities the damsels of Vṛndāvana must have undergone, for they are able to drink the nectar of Kṛṣṇa, who is all beauty, all strength, all riches, all fame and whose bodily luster is the center of all beauty."
The body of Kṛṣṇa, the ocean of the eternal beauty of youth, can be seen to move in waves of beauty. There is a whirlwind at the sound of His flute, and those waves and that whirlwind make the hearts of the gopīs flutter like dry leaves on trees, and when those leaves fall down at Kṛṣṇa's lotus feet, they can never rise up again. There is no beauty to compare with Kṛṣṇa's, for no one possesses beauty greater than or equal to His. Since He is the origin of all incarnations, including the form of Nārāyaṇa, the goddess of fortune, who is a constant companion of Nārāyaṇa, gives up Nārāyaṇa's association and engages herself in penance in order to gain the association of Kṛṣṇa. Such is the greatness of the superexcellent beauty of Kṛṣṇa, the everlasting mine of all beauty. It is from that beauty that all beautiful things emanate.
The attitude of the gopīs is like a mirror upon which the reflection of Kṛṣṇa's beauty develops at every moment. Both Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs increase their transcendental beauty at every moment, and there is always transcendental competition between them. No one can appreciate the beauty of Kṛṣṇa by properly discharging his occupational duty, or by austerities, mystic yoga, cultivation of knowledge or by prayers. Only those who are on the transcendental platform of love of God, who out of love engage in devotional service, can appreciate the transcendental beauty of Kṛṣṇa. Such beauty is the essence of all opulences and is only appreciated in Goloka Vṛndāvana and nowhere else. In the form of Nārāyaṇa the beauties of mercy, fame, etc., are all established by Kṛṣṇa, but Kṛṣṇa's gentleness and magnanimity do not exist in Nārāyaṇa. They are found only in Kṛṣṇa.
Lord Caitanya, greatly relishing all the verses of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam which He was explaining to Sanātana, quoted another verse (SB 9.24.65):
nityotsavaṁ na tatṛpur dṛśibhiḥ pibantyo
nāryo narāś ca muditāḥ kupitā nimeś ca
"The gopīs used to relish the beauty of Kṛṣṇa as a ceremony of perpetual enjoyment. They enjoyed the beautiful face of Kṛṣṇa, His beautiful ears with earrings, His broad forehead and His smile, and when enjoying this sight of Kṛṣṇa's beauty, they used to criticize the creator Brahmā for causing their vision of Kṛṣṇa to be momentarily impeded by the blinking of their eyelids."
The Vedic hymn known as kāma-gāyatrī describes the face of Kṛṣṇa as the king of all moons. In metaphorical language, there are many different moons, but they are all one in Kṛṣṇa. There is the moon of His mouth, the moon of His cheeks, the moonspots of sandalwood pulp on His body, the moons of the fingertips of His hands and the moons of the tips of His toes. In this way there are twenty-four and a half moons, and Kṛṣṇa is the central figure of all of them.
The dancing movement of Kṛṣṇa's earrings, eyes and eyebrows is very attractive to the damsels of Vraja. Activities in devotional service increase the sense of devotional service. What else is there for two eyes to see beyond the face of Kṛṣṇa? Since one cannot adequately see Kṛṣṇa with only two eyes, one feels incapable and thus becomes bereaved. Such bereavement is slightly reduced when one criticizes the creative power of the creator. The unsatiated seer of Kṛṣṇa's face nonetheless laments: "I do not have thousands of eyes, but only two, and these are disturbed by the movements of my eyelids. Therefore it is to be understood that the creator of this body is not very intelligent. He is not conversant in the art of ecstasy but is simply a prosaic creator. He does not know how to arrange things properly so one can see only Kṛṣṇa."
The gopīs' minds are always engaged in relishing the sweetness of Kṛṣṇa's body. He is the ocean of beauty, and His beautiful face and smile and the luster of His body are all-attractive to the minds of the gopīs. In kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta, His face, smile and bodily luster have been described as sweet, sweeter and sweetest. A perfect devotee of Kṛṣṇa is overwhelmed by seeing the beauty of Kṛṣṇa's bodily luster, His face and smile, and he bathes in the ocean of transcendental convulsions. Before Kṛṣṇa's beauty, these convulsions often continue without treatment, just as ordinary convulsions which a physician will allow to continue, not even allowing a drink of water for relief.
The devotee increasingly feels the absence of Kṛṣṇa, for without Him one cannot drink the nectar of His beauty. When the transcendental sound of Kṛṣṇa's flute is heard, the devotee's anxiety to continue to hear that flute enables him to penetrate the covering of the material world and enter into the spiritual sky, where the transcendental sound of the flute enters into the ears of the followers of the gopīs. The sound of Kṛṣṇa's flute always resides within the ears of the gopīs and increases their ecstasy. When it is heard, no other sound can enter into their ears, and amongst their family they are not able to reply to questions properly, for all these beautiful sounds are vibrating in their ears.
Thus Lord Caitanya explained the transcendental constitution of Kṛṣṇa, His expansions, His bodily luster and everything connected with Him. In short, Lord Caitanya explained Kṛṣṇa as He is, as well as the process by which one can approach Him. In this regard, Caitanya Mahāprabhu pointed out that devotional service to Kṛṣṇa is the only process by which He can be approached. This is the verdict of Vedic literature. As the sages declare: "If someone inquires into Vedic literature to determine the process of transcendental realization, or if someone consults the Purāṇas (which are considered sister literatures), one will find that in all of them the conclusion is that the Supreme Personality of Godhead Kṛṣṇa is the only object of worship."
Kṛṣṇa is the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He is situated in His internal potency, which is known as svarūpa-śakti or ātma-śakti, as described in Bhagavad-gītā. He expands Himself in various multiple forms, and some of these are known as His personal forms and some as His separated forms. Thus He enjoys Himself in all the spiritual planets, as well as in the material universes. The expansions of His separated forms are called living entities, and these living entities are classified according to the energies of the Lord. They are divided into two classes-eternally liberated and eternally conditioned. Eternally liberated living entities never come into contact with material nature, and therefore they do not have any experience of material life. They are eternally engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or devotional service to the Lord, and they are counted among the associates of Kṛṣṇa. Their pleasure, the only enjoyment of their life, is derived from rendering transcendental loving service to Kṛṣṇa. On the other hand, those who are eternally conditioned are always divorced from the transcendental loving service of Kṛṣṇa and are thus subjected to the threefold miseries of material existence. Due to the conditioned soul's eternal attitude of separation from Kṛṣṇa, the spell of material energy awards him two kinds of bodily existence-the gross body consisting of five elements, and the subtle body consisting of mind, intelligence and ego. Being covered by these two bodies, the conditioned soul eternally suffers the pangs of material existence known as the threefold miseries. He is also subjected to six enemies (such as lust, anger, etc.). Such is the everlasting disease of the conditioned soul.
Diseased and conditioned, the living entity transmigrates throughout the universe. Sometimes he is situated in the upper planetary system and sometimes in the lower system. In this way he leads his diseased life. His disease can be cured only when he meets and follows the expert physician, the bona fide spiritual master. When the conditioned soul faithfully follows the instructions of a bona fide spiritual master, his material disease is cured, he is promoted to the liberated stage, and he again attains to the devotional service of Kṛṣṇa and goes back home, back to Kṛṣṇa. A conditioned living entity should become aware of his real position and should pray to the Lord, "How much longer will I be under the rule of all these bodily functions such as lust and anger?" As masters of the conditioned soul, lust and anger are never merciful. Indeed the conditioned soul will never cease rendering service to such bad masters. However, when he comes to his real consciousness, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he abandons these bad masters and approaches Kṛṣṇa with a frank and open heart to achieve His shelter. At such a time he prays to Kṛṣṇa to be engaged in His transcendental loving service.
In Vedic literatures sometimes fruitive activities, mystic yoga and the speculative search for knowledge are praised as different ways to self-realization, yet despite such praise, in all literatures the path of devotional service is accepted as the foremost. In other words, devotional service to Lord Kṛṣṇa is the highest perfectional path to self-realization, and it is recommended that it be performed directly. Fruitive activity, mystic meditation and philosophical speculation are not direct methods of self-realization. They are indirect because without devotional service they cannot lead to the highest perfection of self-realization. Indeed, all paths to self-realization ultimately depend on the path of devotional service.
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