Question: I heard that the highest topmost form of pleasure or bliss for the jiva is to see Sri Radha and Kṛṣṇa enjoying. But in the rasa dance, the mood is different. There the jiva is enjoying with the Lord. So which is higher or more pure?
It is not different. The mood of rāsa-līlā is not different from the mood of enhancing the enjoyment of Śrī Rādhā and Krishna.
The highest pleasure in the rāsa-līlā is to see Krishna dancing with Rādhā.
Now think about it practically and with your whole intelligence. What is more delightful, to see a lone flower on a shelf, or to see the flower surrounded by leaves and arranged so nicely with other flowers? Is a jewel more beautiful by itself, or when set in gold and surrounded by similar gems? Usually the beauty is enhanced when it is surrounded by similar beauty that pays homage to it by putting it in a central position. This is the service done by the devotees during rāsa-līlā.
Mañjarī is a word that many people use very often these days when discussing these things. But this is the meaning of the word “mañjarī.” It means “many flowers clustered together.” Many flowers clustering together is even more fragrant and beautiful than a lone flower.
The devotees cluster together to provide more beauty and pleasure to surround Rādhā and Krishna and thus enhance their own beauty and pleasure.
The highest pleasure is to see Krishna dancing with Rādhā. Yes, but not passively in some type of śānta-rati. We will do something in that scene.
Most beautiful is to see them surrounded by so many dancing gopīs, surrounded by music played by so many beautiful girls, and so many flower arrangements and so many fruits and drinks, and so much beautiful clothing and decoration and cosmetics, and such a beautiful forest, with such beautiful flora and fauna and moonlight and breezes. The mood in rāsa-līlā is to augment the beauty of Rādhā and Krishna’s dance. To be a part of what facilitates that atmosphere in which Rādhā and Krishna dance is the greatest thrill, the highest bliss. It might mean being a butterfly or a deer. It might mean playing vīṇā or karatāla. It might mean actually getting up to dance, and batting eyelashes with Krishna. It is all the same in essence. It is all about enhancing the thrilling romantic atmosphere that Rādhā and Krishna enjoy.
No one is trying to “enjoy.” Everyone is trying to augment Krishna’s enjoyment, which is done by augmenting Rādhā’s beauty and desirability.
No one tries to take what is Rādhā’s. Nobody in Vṛndāvana wants such things. The people who want such things may be here and there, but at least they are not in Vṛndāvana. Even Candrāvalī does not truly wish to compete with Rādhā. She only wants to make Rādhā’s dance with Krishna more precious and passionate. She only wants to inspire Rādhā to strive to be the very best that she can be for Krishna.
The jīva never interacts with Krishna without the medium of Krishna’s śakti. Jīva itself is Krishna’s śakti, but is a small and dependent śakti – “taṭastha.” It requires a more powerful śakti to assist it’s interaction with reality. In the external world this śakti is Māyā-devī. In the internal realm, it is Yogamāyā-devī. The jīva always aspires to augment Krishna’s enjoyment of his primary śakti’s, not by trying to replace them but by adding its individual beauty and ingenuity and passion to theirs.
Nowhere is this seen more vividly and beautifully than in the attempts of the various gopīs, nitya and sādhana siddhas alike, to create an incalculably gorgeous and delightful atmosphere and arena for Rādhā and Krishna to dance and play in.
Vraja Kishor dās