Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Upadeśāmṛta (Nectar of Instruction)
Upadeśāmṛta Chapter Overview
Verse Eleven (kṛṣṇasyoccaiḥ praṇaya-vasatiḥ preyasībhyo ’pi rādhā) of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Upadeśāmṛta (The Nectar of Instruction) establishes Śrī Rādha as the most treasured object of love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Rādha-kuṇḍa as correspondingly dear to him. It is said that one who bathes in the waters of Śrī Rādha-kuṇḍa will attain love for Kṛṣna. Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja give context and deep insight into this verse.
कृष्णस्योच्चैः प्रणयवसतिः प्रेयसीभ्योऽपि राधा कुण्डं चास्या मुनिभिरभितस्तादृगेव व्यधायि ।
यत्प्रेष्ठैरप्यलमसुलभं किं पुनर्भक्तिभाजां तत्प्रेमेदं सकृदपि सरः स्नातुराविष्करोति ॥ ११ ॥
kṛṣṇasyoccaiḥ praṇaya-vasatiḥ preyasībhyo ’pi rādhā
kuṇḍaṁ cāsyā munibhir abhitas tādṛg eva vyadhāyi
yat preṣṭhair apy alam asulabhaṁ kiṁ punar bhakti-bhājāṁ
tat premedaṁ sakṛd api saraḥ snātur āviṣkaroti
Word for Word
kṛṣṇasya – of Śrī Kṛṣṇa; uccaiḥ – topmost; praṇaya – of love; vasatiḥ – object; preyasībhyaḥ – the gopīs; api – more than; rādhā-kuṇḍam – Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa; ca – and; asyā – of Her; munibhir – sages; abhitaḥ – in all ways; tādṛk eva – similarly; vyadhāyi – established; yat – that; preṣṭhaiḥ – for great devotees; api – even; alam – greatly; asulabhaṁ – difficult to achieve; kiṁ – what; punaḥ – more; bhakti-bhājām – ordinary devotees; tat – that; prema – love for Kṛṣṇa; idaṁ – this; sakṛd – once; api – more than; saraḥ – lake; snātuḥ – bathe; āviṣkaroti – achieves.
It has been established by great sages that amongst all the beloved vraja–gopīs, Śrī Rādhā is Kṛṣṇa’s most treasured object of love. Similarly, Her kuṇḍa is just as dear to Him. One who bathes even once in the waters of Rādhā-kuṇḍa attains love for Kṛṣṇa which is extremely difficult to achieve even for great devotees, what to speak of ordinary devotees.
In general it has been urged that if one takes bath in Rādhā-kuṇḍa, one’s devotional qualities can improve. But this must be treated with proper regard and devotion otherwise an offence will be committed. Our Guru Mahārāja told, “Don’t dive and try to take advantage of a bath. No! Put a drop or two on your head.” He also commented that bathing does not mean to dive into Rādhā-kuṇḍa with this physical body. The soul must take bath there. Physically you are to honour. Many are seen diving deep into the waters of Rādhā-kuṇḍa, sometimes swimming, taking bath etc. But our Guru Mahārāja did not allow us to do so. We did as he did – he would take some water and put it on his head, without touching Rādhā-kuṇḍa with his feet. That was his example that we have seen. He did not like anyone diving and taking bath in Rādhā-kuṇḍa. Radhā-kuṇḍa is not to be considered as a physical utility. Rādhā-kuṇḍa should be revered. Radhā-kuṇḍa is Rādhārāṇī in the form of liquid, so great respect should be given to that kuṇḍa.
Loving regard is very precious. It is not available anywhere and everywhere. It is not so cheap. It is the highest wealth of our soul which can attract Kṛṣṇa towards us. It is not so cheap that you will think, “I have got that – I can take bath regardless and then I’ll get so much devotion.” Don’t venture! First try to understand what is rāga and when you get rāga you can play there, you can play freely. But you must be sure one hundred percent to have the correct attitude concerning the divinity of Rādhā-Govinda. Otherwise, you will think it is all mundane.
The sahajiyās think that they already attained that high plane and they are in a position to swim and play in Rādhā-kuṇḍa. But this destroys the real quality of the thing, and so they are pests to the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava society. It is not so cheap. Therefore the external practices of those higher things has been discouraged by our Guru Mahārāja in the strongest terms. Rāga-bhakti is far, far above. It is not a very ordinary thing to be sold in the market. We hate those who say that they have got rāga-bhakti. They are enemies of the sampradāya of Mahāprabhu. Is rāga so cheap? There are so many signs of an ordinary man, the scent of the beast is in him, and he has attained rāga-bhakti? Only to destroy them, the Gauḍīya Maṭha has come – to destroy those imitators of rāga-bhakti.
Some of Svāmī Mahārāja’s disciples have gone to that camp. They think they will easily attain that which is the highest attainment of the whole theological world. These misguided souls have gone against their guru as well as the vehement opposition of our Guru Mahārāja who gave a warning against such adulteration – love for God is not so cheap! Mahāprabhu Himself says:
na prema-gandho’sti darāpi me harau
krandāmi saubhagya-bharaṁ prakāśitum
bibharmi yat prāṇa-pataṅgakan vṛthā
I have not the slightest tinge of divine love within my heart. When you see Me crying in separation, I am only making a false show of devotion. The proof that I have no love for Kṛṣṇa is the fact that while not seeing His beautiful face as He plays His flute I continue to maintain My insect-like existence. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 2.45)
Na prema gandho’sti – “What to speak of prema proper, I do not even have an infinitesimal scent of real devotion. I can’t trace even the remotest scent of divine love in Me. There is not a drop of real rāgānuga-bhakti within me – that is an infinite ocean. My attempt is a sham – it is all artificial.” Mahāprabhu is blaming Himself in such a way. But from the background rāgānuga-bhakti is completely filling Him up and capturing Him wholesale.
We must not be overconfident of our previous acquisition – “I have acquired so much. I have made so much progress.” I must not be satisfied with a certificate of my own making. Mahāprabhu Himself says, “I am taking the Holy Name and I am showing so many tears in the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa. Why? It is all a false show. My crying is only a show to canvas others to see what a great devotee I am.” We must have so much confidence in ourselves to think that we have become a devotee. In this way we must be very, very careful.
Kotiṣv api mahā-mune – Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī and Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura were thinking, “The whole world is absolved from sin, but I am neglected, I am left as the only exception. I am so low and ill-fated that I am rejected from that most benevolent infinite līlā. I alone am rejected. I could not utilise this great fortunate wave.” This should be the real tendency of a genuine Vaiṣṇava who has actually come in relation with the Infinite. Whenever the finite comes in touch with the Infinite his temperament cannot be otherwise. Our temperament should be that, “I am empty; I did not get anything. I feel emptiness within me. I can’t get the goal. My life is frustrated. Neither do I get a drop of grace from the Lord, nor the world that I have left. I have no alternative, O Lord. If You don’t accept me then I am undone. Please, just make me the servant of the servant of the servant. Give me the remotest connection to You. Don’t leave me, my Lord. I can’t tolerate this craving for You.”
This heart-felt, heart-rending prayer must come from the Vaiṣṇava devotee of the Lord. Any charm for the outside world is fully eliminated for that person, from the core of his heart and in the near future his heart will be filled with the nectar of the grace of Kṛṣṇa.
Audārya and Mādhurya
Rādhā-kuṇḍa and Śyāma-kuṇḍa are the representation of two forms – the Predominating Moiety and the Predominated Moiety. And though two, there is a channel underground and that shows that they are actually both one unit. They are apparently two, but actually one. When the Predominating Moiety and the Predominated Moiety become one; that becomes Mahāprabhu Śrī Caitanyadeva. In Vṛndāvana They are divided into two but there is a connecting link. Svarūpa Dāmodara has given us this śloka:
rādhā-kṛṣṇa-praṇaya-vikṛtir hlādinī-śaktir asmād
ekātmānāv api bhuvi purā deha-bhedaṁ gatau tau
caitanyākhyaṁ prakaṭam adhunā tad-dvayaṁ caikyam āptaṁ
rādhā-bhāva-dyuti-suvalitaṁ naumi kṛṣṇa-svarūpam
The love of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa us the divine manifestation of the hlādinī-śakti. Though originally one, They have become separated eternally. Now They have again become one in the form of Śrī Caitanya. I offer my respects unto that Lord, who is Kṛṣṇa Himself with the sentiment and complexion of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 1.5)
Who is Mahāprabhu? Just as Rādhārāṇī had Her most intimate friend Lalitā, who knew the real heart of Rādhārāṇī – so here, Lalitā’s avatāra was Svarūpa Dāmodara and He fully knew who Mahāprabhu was. He has given this ontological acquaintance of Mahāprabhu. We cannot say whether winter is first, or summer, or rainy season, or autumn – they are moving in a cyclic order. Similarly the līlā of Kṛṣṇa and Mahāprabhu is eternal. In Kali-yuga He is coming as Mahāprabhu Śrī Caitanyadeva, and in Dvāpara-yuga, He is coming as Kṛṣṇa – but time is an eternal factor in nitya-līlā. Generally we consider that Satya-yuga is first, then Treta-yuga, then Dvāpara-yuga, then Kali-yuga. Again, after Kali-yuga comes Satya-yuga, Treta, Dvāpara and Kali – in a cyclic order. So whether Mahāprabhu is first or Kṛṣṇa is first is unquestionable. It is revolving in a cyclic order.
In this verse, Svarūpa Dāmodara says that first Rādhā-Govinda are combined, and we see that in Dvāpara-yuga They are separate for Their līlā. In ancient times, They divided Themselves for the purpose of līlā. But They are one – ekātmānām. Sometimes They are combined for līlā, and sometimes They are separate for līlā. The Whole was one combined as Mahāprabhu and later we find the Whole to be separated in vṛndāvana–līlā as Rādhā-Govinda. Both vṛndāvana–līlā, and navadvīpa-līlā are eternal. In the highest eternal ontological quarter we find līlā of both types. In one compound there is Vṛndāvana where we find that Rādhā-Govinda are having Their pastimes and They are separate there. In gaura–līlā we find Rādhā-Govinda combined and both of Them try to distribute Themselves to others. What was previously confined to Their own circle, in gaura–līlā we find that that rasa is being distributed to others. Audārya and mādhurya – two specific characteristics of two līlās and two avatārīs. Both of them are avatārī, the source of all avatāras. It is the highest conception of the ontological aspect of the Absolute, but in two phases. One is They are tasting Their own sweetness in Their own līlā, and in another place They are trying to distribute that sweetness to the other souls. This is the difference.
Rādhā-bhāva-dyuti suvalitaṁ naumi kṛṣṇa-svarūpam – the close embrace of the potency and the owner of the potency. The predominating and the predominated tendency is mixed, but an extraordinary ecstatic feeling is there. Kṛṣṇa is overpowered by the potency, and He Himself is searching after something – kṛṣṇasya ātmānusandhana. This is the influence of Rādhārāṇī over Kṛṣṇa: Kṛṣṇa is transformed into a devotee and He is searching for Himself. Sweetness is tasting itself and becoming mad and that sweetness is living, not dead. It is endowed with life.
Mahāprabhu is the ultimate source. What is the proof? Ātma-tṛpti – He is tasting His own happiness, ecstasy, beauty and He is dancing in madness. Through kīrtana He is distributing that ecstasy to others. He is tasting Himself and that makes Him dance. The Absolute must have this symptom.
prema-dhāma-devam-eva naumi gaura-sundaram
He is the source of self-evident perfect bliss that is full of natural loving pastimes. His dancing arises from the intoxication of overflowing spiritual bliss, and His chanting of the Holy Name and fame of the Supreme Lord arises from the attempt to enjoy and distribute that spiritual bliss. These two characteristics are the natural and fundamental substantial symptoms of the perfect absolute principle. Therefore He is asamordhva – no one can equal or surpass Him, for He is the unalloyed Supreme Truth. O sing with joy the unending glories of my golden Lord Gaurasundara the beautiful, the divine abode of pure love. (Śrī Prema Dhāma Deva Stotra 66)
In my Prema Dhāma Deva Stotra I have written that He is the Ultimate Reality. Why? Two things are represented in Him – one is that He is dancing in ecstatic joy, feeling ecstasy within Him and secondly He is distributing that to others. This is Gaura. The highest principle of ecstatic energy cannot but be such. He is dancing and that dancing explains that inner propensity of ecstatic joy. Sat-cit-ānanda – in ecstatic joy He is dancing. And kīrtana means distribution of that to the environment; it is assertive. Ecstatic joy is assertive. That is self-assertion and self-distributed. He is distributing ecstatic joy. That we find in Gaurāṅga.
On the highest level of ontological conception there are two phases of līlā – one confined within Himself, and another attracting everyone and distributing everything to one and all. To us gaura-līlā is more useful because our prospect is there. Through Mahāprabhu only we can have entrance into the other aspect of His līlā when He gives it. If we approach Him we are sure to have entrance into that līlā.
yathā yathā gaura-padāravinde
vindeta bhaktiṁ kṛta-puṇya-rāśiḥ
tathā tathotsarpati hṛdy akasmād
One who is extremely fortunate may get the mercy of Śrī Gaurāṅga. As much as we devote ourselves to the lotus feet of Śrī Gaurāṅga, to that extent we will automatically be able to taste the nectarine service of the lotus feet of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī in Vṛndāvana. The more one engages in the service of Lord Gaurāṅga, the more one finds oneself in Vṛndāvana, tasting the nectar of the service of Śrī Rādhā. (Caitanya-candrāmṛta 88)
This is a stanza by Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī. Yathā yathā gaura-padāravinde vindeta bhaktiṁ kṛta-puṇya-rāśiḥ – those
who have got great sukṛti will invest in Gaurāṅga. Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī says that you will automatically find that everything has been offered to the divine feet of Rādhārāṇī. She will accept us in Her confidential service, and give us engagement, “You have a good recommendation from Navadvīpa. Yes, I will immediately appoint you in this service.” If you invest your money in the Bank of America, it will go there. Similarly, your investment in Navadvīpa will automatically take you to Vṛndāvana. It may be unknown to you how the company has carried you there, but automatically you will find that you are in that rasa. Such an arrangement is there. As much as we are able to connect ourselves with gaura-līlā, automatically we find that without any trouble we are already there in kṛṣṇa-līlā in the camp of Rādhārāṇī. We are blessed. We are carried to the camp of Rādhārāṇī in Vṛndāvana.