I worship the best of cowherds, who have attained greater happiness than what can be achieved in the entire universe, who are protected by Krishna with more love than he feels for millions of universes, and who are themselves always eager to protect even the specks of dust that fall from the edges of Krishna’s beautiful lotus-toenails.
brahmāṇḍāt param ucchalat sukhabharaṁ tat koṭi saṅkhyād api
premṇā kṛṣṇa surakṣitāḥ prati muhuḥ prāptāḥ paraṁ nirvṛtāḥ
kāmaṁ tat pāda-padma sundara nakha prānta skhalad reṇukā
rakṣā vyagra dhiyaḥ sphuranti kila ye tān gopavaryān bhaje
Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In this verse, Das Goswami praises all the great cowherders of Vraja. They are Krishna’s eternal associates and they have gotten Him, whom they love millions of times more than themselves, to be with them always as their own dear relative. Although they can see Krishna’s unrivalled power when he kills demons and so forth, their conception of him as Nanda’s son is not even slightly weakened, and their passionate love for him, which they are unable to give up, simply increases at every moment. Hence, Śrīmad Jiva Goswami has written:
tad evaṁ parama mādhuryātiśayānubhava svabhāvatvena parama jñānītvam eva śrī gopālānām aṅgīkṛtam […] teṣām api yat svabhāvatvena sakala prīti jāti cūḍāmaṇi-rūpā parā prītiḥ svabhāvata evodayate. yat svabhāvatvenaiva cāgantukād anya jñānāt nāsau prītir vyabhicarati. pratyuta tad eva tiraskaroti. tenāntarāya prāyeṇa varddhate ca. viṣayiṇāṁ viṣaya prītir iva. yato viṣayiṇāṁ viṣayeṣu sadoṣatve śrute dṛṣṭe’pi rāga prāpta guṇavattva buddhiḥ prabalā dṛśyate (Prīti Sandarbhaḥ 100 Anuḥ)
By nature the cowherds are able to experience the abundant sweetness of Krishna, hence they are accepted as the greatest scholars and wise men. Because they have such dispositions, the greatest love, which is the crown jewel of all kinds of love, naturally arises within them. Their love is never adulterated by any other awareness that could come in the way of their loving relationship. Rather, their natures will defeat any incoming ‘alternative feeling.
People steeped in sensual enjoyment begin to love their favorite sense objects even more when some alternative feeling comes and disturbs their enjoyment. Although they know that their favorite sense-objects are full of faults, their strong love and attachment for their sense objects make them consider them all very glorious. This conception is very strong. In the same way, the cowherds natururally experience the great sweetness of Sri Krishna the most. Even if they witness Sri Krishna’s great power, it does not change their love for him, which is based on experiencing his sweetness. Rather, such experiences simply increase their love for him, just as someone loves his beloved even more after seeing his peerless power.” Sri Śuka Muni described the Vrajavasis’ vision of the Goloka-planet as follows:
nandādayas tu taṁ dṛṣṭvā paramānanda nirvṛtāḥ
kṛṣṇaṁ ca tatra chandobhiḥ stūyamānaṁ suvismitāḥ
“When the cowherders, headed by Nanda, saw how Krishna was being praised by the personified Vedas, they were most astonished and floated in an ocean of topmost transcendental bliss.”
tad evaṁ mādhurya jñānasyaiva balavat sukhamayatve sthite tasmiṇś ca śrī gopānām eva svābhāvikatayā labdhe brahmatveśvaratvānubhavam atikramya teṣām eva bhāgyena śrī śukadevo’pi yuktam eva camatkṛtim avāpa (Prīti Sandarbhaḥ – 100 Anuḥ)
In this way the bliss of their sweet conceptions was fixed, and the naturally sweet conception of the cowherders thus transcended the jñānīs‘ bliss of the experience of the non-personal brahman and the the reverential worshippers’ bliss of serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The cowherders’ great bliss, which was derived from their experience of Krishna’s sweetness, astonished even Sri Śuka Muni, and that is also correct.
Repeating Lord Brahmā’s words Sri Śuka Muni said:
aho bhāgyam aho bhāgyaṁ nanda gopa vrajaukasām
yan mitraṁ paramānandaṁ pūrṇaṁ brahma sanātanam
“Aho! How fortunate! Aho, how fortunate are the Vrajavasis, headed by Nanda Gopa, because the eternal full brahman, which is inconceivable to the mind and words, has become their friend (as Sri Krishna)!”
Hence, Raghunath Das Goswami has said: having gotten the most blissful transcendental truth as their own dear One, the Vrajavasis consider themselves most happy. They have gotten a bliss that goes far beyond the material universe!”
Then again he says: “Sri Krishna protects them perfectly, with a love that is greater than the love he feels for millions of universes, and they are also eager to protect even a speck of dust that drops from the edge of his beautiful lotuslike toenails.” We have said that the love of the devotees determines the disposition of the Lord. Just as the Vrajavasis forget all about the Lord’s prowess and opulence, and consider him to be most soft and tender, so that in their eagerness to protect him they worship even the luster of the edges of his toenails with millions of hearts, similarly according to the principle of ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmyaham (Gītā 4.11), Sri Krishna is also unlimitedly eager to protect the Vraja-cowherds with a love that transcends the love he may feel for millions of universes, since he considers them to be his own. Das Goswami says: “I worship these best of cowherds!”
brahmāṇḍātīta pracura sukha āsvādane;
sukhī boli nija yārā bhāve anukṣaṇe
ananta brahmāṇḍa kṛṣṇa koriyā upekṣā;
samadhika preme yādera koriteche rakṣā
kṛṣṇa pāda-padma sundara nakha-maṇi koṇe;
skhalita ye reṇu-kaṇā tāhāra rakṣaṇe
vyagra citta hoiyā yārā avasthāna kore;
niyata bhajanā kori gopa parivāre
“I always worship the cowherd clans, who relish a bliss that goes beyond the material universe and who are anxious at heart to protect even a speck of dust that drops from the edge of Krishna’s beautiful lotuslike toenails with a love that waits for unlimited worlds.”
 “In the way anyone worships me, I worship that devotee in perfect reciprocation.”
© Translated by Advaita dāsa in 1994
Source: Tarun Govinda Das, Flowing Nectar Stream blog.
(Lightly altered by the editor for Vrindavan Today)
It was published in Gaurābda 503 (1989 A.D.) by Sri Krishna Chaitanya Shastra Mandir, Vrajananda Ghera, PO Radhakunda (district Mathura), U.P., India.
The devotional songs in Bengali that follow each commentary were composed by Dr. Haripada Sheel.
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