When will I wander around the slopes of Govardhan, the king of hills, constantly uttering “Jai Radhe! Jai Krishna!” as if mad? And when will I stumble around, overwhelmed by feelings of ecstatic love, sprinkling Sri Sri Radha Madhava’s playgrounds with my tears?
bhraman kacche kacche kṣiti-dhara-pater vakrima-gatair
lapan rādhe kṛṣṇety anavaratam unmattavad aham
patan kvāpi kvāpy ucchalita-nayana-dvandva-salilaiḥ
kadā keli-sthānaṁ sakalam api siñcāmi vikalaḥ
Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā : In this verse Raghunath Das Goswami, who is the embodiment of love in separation, reveals his aspiration to live in Vraja in great ecstatic agitation. Actually Raghunath Das Goswami’s heart is burning in a great fire of lamentation out of separation and with such a burning heart he falls on the bank of Sri Radha Kund and anxiously weeps, desiring to see the queen of his heart. The sacred Stavāvalī scripture is the culmination of this all. It is as if the body of this sacred Stavāvalī is made of his tears of love in separation. Still, on the plea of praying for this condition himself he draws a very beautiful picture of living in Vraja in great ecstatic agitation, a condition coveted by the loving devotees.
Vraja Dham is a place to be in great ecstatic agitation. Here the bhāvuka or greatly sensitive and advanced devotees are never immersed in bodily happiness, spending their time eating and sleeping and performing bhajan in a mechanical way, as those such as I am doing. This Vraja is a place to experience separation; bhajan here consists of only tears.
In Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta Sri Uddhava Mahāśaya reveals his experience of the mood of Vraja to Sri Narada and Gopa Kumāra –
tatraivotpadyate dainyaṁ tat-premāpi sadā satām
tat tac chūnyam ivāraṇya-sarid-giry-ādi paśyatām
sadā hā-hā-ravākrānta-vadanānāṁ tathā hṛdi
mahā-santāpa-dagdhānāṁ sva priyaṁ parimṛgyatām
“When the saints see the void of the woods, rivers and mountains of Vraja they automatically get feelings of humility and love simultaneously. They will loudly wail and lament and search for their beloved deity with anxious hearts, that burn out of severe affliction.” (Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛtam, 2.5.242-243)
The purport of this is that the great souls that take shelter of Vraja to do bhajan always see the pastime places, but they do not see the playful pair Sri Sri Radha Madhava. This naturally causes agitation in their minds, as a result of which gradually humility and love are infused in the heart. When humility awakens the devotee considers himself very fallen and unqualified, and at the same time, while prema awakens, he develops a great eagerness for directly seeing his beloved deity. Then the loving devotee, whose heart is burning in the great fire of love in separation, wanders around everywhere in Vraja lamenting and searching for his beloved deity. This elevated condition is even more praiseworthy than the direct meeting with the Lord. That is because the Lord, who is subdued by the love of his devotees, generates such feelings of separation within the heart of the devotee so that he can relish the sweetness of this condition of the devotee, while watching him from a hidden place.
bhaktera prema ceṣṭā dekhi kṛṣṇera camatkāra
“Krishna is astonished when he witnesses the activities of his devotees.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta)
When Sri Gopa Kumar was sent from the transcendental Dwaraka to the terrestrial Vraja by Sri Uddhava and Narada he attained such an ecstatic condition. Sri Sanatan Prabhu describes it as follows:
tāṁ nāradīyām anusṛtya śikṣāṁ śrī kṛṣṇa nāmāni nija-priyāṇi
saṅkīrtayan susvaram atra līlās tasya pragāyann anucintayaṁś ca
tadīya-līlā-sthala jātam etad vilokayan bhāva-daśe gato ye
tayoḥ sva-citte karaṇena lajje kathaṁ parasmin kathayāny ahaṁ te
sadā mahārtyā karuṇa-svarai rudan nayāmi rātrīr divasāś ca kātaraḥ
na vedmi yad yat sucirād anuṣṭhitaṁ sukhāya vā tat tad utārti-sindhave
kathañcid apy ākalayāmi naitat kim eṣa dāvāgni-śikhāntare’ham
vasāmi kiṁ vā paramāmṛtāccha-suśītala-śrī-yamunā-jalāntaḥ
“Sri Gopa Kumar told Sri Jana Sharma: “O brahmin! Following the instructions of Sri Narada I am chanting the holy names of my beloved Sri Krishna and am residing in Sri Vrindavan, singing about and remembering his pastimes. Although I have attained this ecstatic condition while witnessing these pastimes of Sri Krishna, and I have kept these ecstatic feelings within my heart, I am feeling ashamed. How will I reveal them to you? I was always weeping in great anguish, pitifully crying, “O Lord!” day and night. I have practised this for a long time, but I don’t know if I did this for attaining happiness or being immersed in an ocean of transcendental anguish. I could not ascertain in any way whether I was residing in the flames of a forest-fire or in the cool water of the Yamuna!” (Bṛhad-Bhāgavatāmṛta 2.6.1-4)
Actually, love for Sri Nandanandana Gopal is full of contradictions. Sometimes it seems there is no limit to the bliss, and again sometimes it seems there is no limit to the misery. Sometimes it is delicious like nectar and sometimes it is more burning than poison. And again sometimes the nectar and the poison, the relish and the scorch blend together to become one!!
bahir viṣa jvālā hoy, antara ānandamoy, kṛṣṇa premāra adbhūta carita
“Externally it is scorching like poison and internally it is blissful. That is the wonderful nature of love for Krishna.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta)
Raghunath Das Goswami says: “When will I wander around the outskirts of Sri Govardhan, constantly exclaiming: “O Rādhe! O Krishna!” like mad, while searching for my most beloved Sri Sri Radha Madhava? At some places I may stumble and fall, and sometimes I will get up again, dance, sing and weep! When will streams of my tears shower these transcendental playgrounds?”
Actually Sri Rupa and Raghunath Das and other sampradāyācāryas or teachers of the tradition of Caitanya-bhakti, gave the greatest example of how to live in Vraja in such an ecstatic condition. At the end of Shrinivas Acharya’s Saḍ Gosvāmy-aṣṭakam it is written:
he rādhe vraja-devike ca lalite he nandasūno kutaḥ
śrī-govardhana-kalpapāda-patale kālindī-vanye kutaḥ
ghoṣantāv iti sarvato vraja-pure khedair mahā-vihvalau
vande rūpa-sanātanau raghu-yugau śrījīva-gopālakau
O Rādhe! O goddesses of Vraja! O Lalite! O Sri Nandanandana! Where are You? Are You at the base of a wishyielding tree at Govardhana hill, or on the bank of the Yamuna? Where are You playing Your pastimes? This is Your Vraja Dham, where the stream of Your pastimes flows on eternally! Alas! How unfortunate I am that I cannot see Your pastimes here! Tell me where I should go to meet You!” I praise Rupa, Sanatan, Raghunath Bhatta, Raghunath Das, Sri Jiva and Gopala Bhatta Goswamis, who were thus wandering all over Vraja like madmen, searching for their most beloved Sri Sri Radha Madhava in a very anxious state of mind.”
Śrīla Thakur Mahashay also sings:
hari hari! āra ki emon daśā hobo?
e bhava saṁsāra tyaji, parama ānande maji,
āra kobe vrajabhūme jābo ?
sukhamaya vṛndāvana, kobe hobe daraśana,
se dhūli mākhibo kobe gāya
preme gada gada hoiyā, rādhā-kṛṣṇa nāma loiyā,
kāṅdiyā beḍābo ubharāya
nibhṛta nikuñje jāiyā, aṣṭāṅga praṇata hoiyā,
ḍākibo hā rādhānātha boli
kobe yamunāra tīre, paraśa koribo nīre,
kobe pibo karapuṭe tuli
āra kobe emana hobo, śrī rāsa maṇḍale yābo,
kobe gaḍāgaḍi dibo tāya
vaṁśīvaṭa chāyā pāiyā, parama ānanda hoiyā,
paḍiyā rahibo tāra chāya
kobe govardhana giri, dekhibo nayana bhari,
kobe hobe rādhākuṇḍe vāsa
bhramite bhramite kobe, e deho patana hobe,
kohe dīna Narottama Das
“Hari Hari! When will I attain such a state? When will I give up this material household life and go to Vrajabhūmi, immersed in transcendental bliss?
When will I see blissful Vrindavan and smear its dust on my body? When will I wander around there, weeping and singing Radha and Krishna’s names with a voice stuttering of ecstatic love?
When will I go to the solitary groves, offer prostrated obeisances there and cry out “O Lord of Radha!”? When will I go to the bank of the Yamuna, touch her waters and drink them from my cupped hands?
When will I go to the Sri Rāsa-maṇḍala and roll around there in ecstasy? When will I find the shade of the Vanshivat tree, and rest there in topmost ecstasy?
When will I fill my eyes with the vision of Govardhana Giri and when will I reside at Radha Kund? The fallen Narottama Das says: When will my life come to an end as I thus wander in the Dham?” (Prārthanā)
The vīṇā-like hearts of the great devotees all twang the same tune of anguish of separation from living in Vraja. Hence Raghunath Das Goswami’s anxious prayer –
nirantara hā rādhe! he śrī kṛṣṇa! boliyā;
unmattera prāya āmi pralāpa koriyā
govardhanera sānu-deśe bhramaṇa koribo;
premete vivaśa aṅga ḍhaliyā paḍibo
vyākulita citte sadā koribo krandana;
yugala vilāsa bhūmi koribo siñcana
ucchalita āṅkhi nīre paṅkilo se sthale;
sukhe viharibe sadā navīna yugale
“I will wander around the base of Govardhana hill, constantly exclaiming “Hā Rādhe! Hey Sri Krishna!” as if mad. Overwhelmed by ecstatic love I will drop my body and constantly weep with anxious heart. I will shower and mudden the ground where Radha and Krishna always blissfully play with streams of my tears.”
Commentary of Sri Radha Kund Mahant, Pandit Sri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj is named Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā (a drop of the nectar of Stavāvalī), and was published in Gaurābda 503 (1989 A.D.) from Sri Krishna Chaitanya Shastra Mandir, Vrajananda Ghera, PO Radhakunda (district Mathura), U.P., India.
Devotional songs in Bengali that follow each commentary were composed by Dr. Haripada Sheel.
© Translated by Advaita dāsa in 1994
More of Ananta Das Pandit’s writings in English translation can be found at Tarun Govinda’s blog, Amrita Tarangini.
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