People have such a hard time understanding Vrindavana Krishna!
Even if they figure out that the specificity of paramātmā is more infinite than the indefinite abstraction of brahman, they still have to figure the mystery of bhagavan: that the specific personhood and form of divinity does not exist merely for our sake, but has it’s own intrinsic desire and purpose that we are meant to participate in.
Even if they sort all that out, and comprehend bhāgavan, they will still have to figure out why unabashed intimacy with pure beauty (madhurya) expresses spiritual bliss (ānanda) more fully than awestruck reverence for absolute majesty (aiśvarya).
Even if they comprehend madhurya-bhagavan Krishna, they will still have to figure out that the oneness of romantic intimacy (śṛṇgara-ujjvala-mādhurya – which causes God to be a boy and us to be girls), expresses more concentrated ānanda than mere friendship, or even the heart melting affection of motherhood (sakhya or vatsalya – which causes Krishna to be our peer, or even our baby).
Even if they sort all that out and comprehend the Romantic Divinity, Śrī Krishna, they still have not grasped Vrindavana Krishna. They still have to comprehend that romantic love expressed with the all devouring intensity of lust (kāmarūpa) expresses more intense ānanda than love which obeys norms, and stays within boundaries (dharmarūpa). To comprehend Vrindavana Krishna, they will not only have to be able to grasp this, but to take it to its ultimate extreme: realizing that the apex of Divine Bliss will manifest in forms which resemble what we conceive of as scandalous and adulturous affairs (parakīya) rather than lawfully wedded (or even mildly adventurous) nuptual bliss (svakīya).
Oh God… It’s a long way from brahman to braja, indeed!
The fullest perception of the Absolute Original Consciousness is a gorgeous heartbreaker engulfed in endless waves of coordinated multitutdes of mind-bendingly beautiful and mind-bogglingly talented mistresses of erotic bliss.
But, if we can put aside all our preconceptions and all our emotional and intellectual baggage, and just look at the above with fresh eyes, it does make perfect sense: the fullest perception of the Absolute Original Consciousness is a gorgeous heartbreaker engulfed in endless waves of coordinated multitutdes of mind-bendingly beautiful and mind-bogglingly talented mistresses of erotic bliss.
Ladies and (well… just ladies)… I introduce to you…. Śrī Krishna! The real one, behind all the closed doors and closed curtains. Vrindavana Bihari.
Objection: Krishna says he doesn’t break the codes of dharma because whatever great people do, common people immitate!
Reply: Yes, but first of all he says that in Bhagavad-Gītā as a grown man, a kṣatrīya, and a king. When he was a kid living as a vaiṣya in a farmer’s villiage, he was not yet a “great man” of that sort, he was just a teenager. In Vraja, as a Kishor (teen), he has no need to set any example for common people to follow.
Vraja Vrindavana is where Krishna gets to be himself. Elsewhere he is doing things for our sake, dharma-samsthāpana and so on (establishing morality, etc). But God’s existence is not limited to how he guides and helps and serves us (in fact, that is closer to a paramātmā conception than a bhagavān conception). God has his own life! And we can participate in it! We can serve, and help, and even guide and protect and delight him! The venue for this existence manifests in Vaikuṇṭha, and most fully in Vraja Goloka Vrindavana. There, and especially in Vraja, he isn’t busy setting examples for John and Jane Doe – he is just being himself and sharing the feast of Supreme Bliss.
Śruti śāstra, with its oft-repeated and paraphrased “so kāmayata bahu syām prajāyata” phrase and several other key statements, describes the Absolute Consciousness as this Vraja Kishor Krishna, enjoying unabashed bliss in its most intense, “lusty” form.
We have a hard time understanding Vrindavana Krishna’s kāma-līlā because of our own experiences with lust. We experience it as something extremely selfish, and we assume that our experience of lust is accurate. However, we are avidya-baddha (bound by lack of knowledge) and our experiences are therefore more or less inaccurate. An accurate perception of Krishna’s “lust” is possible, but not easy. A) We have to be willing to have it. Not just willing, but wanting, really wanting. B) We have to find someone who has it and can explain to us how they obtained that from the ultimate source of accurate perception, śāstra. Only then can we too hope to directly see the indescribable beauty and dharma of Rādhā Krishna Parakīya Prema – the “lusty love” between Radha and Krishna.
What we will see is that, even in Vrindavana, Krishna is setting the right example.
The Bhāgavatam opens with “oṁ namo bhāgavate vāsudevāya” – explaining that Krishna is Vāsudeva, the Original Consciousness. It immediately follows this by, “janmādyasya yatā” – explaining śruti’s “kāmayata” point: that everything in existence manifests as a result of the perceptual hunger of this Original Consciousness; “unvayad itarataś cārtheṣu abhijñā” – explaining that everything comes from him and exists for the sake of manifesting his bliss. Everything is from him and for him.
Therefore there is no such thing as “parakīya” in a literal sense!
Rādhā and the Gopīs of Vrindavana are Krishna’s sva-māyā, svayaṁ prakṛti, svarūpa-śakti. They are inseparable components of Krishna himself! There is no literal truth to the concept of them being “unmarried.”
The parakīya-bhāva is a bhāva! A mood! A sense! The husbands of Radha and so on are abhiman (“big ideas”) only. Parakīya is the form that everything takes, to allow the Divine Bliss of the Original Consciousness to manifest its all-devouring, all-consuming, all-conquering nature to the fullest, most radical, wild, unrestrained extreme. It is the form of gopī-prema, but the tattva of gopī-prema is svakīya. More than any husband or wife we have ever experienced, they are eternally, constitutionally, inseparably married.
The example he sets, therefore, is that we should enjoy only what is constitutionally ours to enjoy. This is conformant with all dharma-śāstra.
If we are sincere, we will find that nothing is constitutionally ours to enjoy. We may experience a sense of proprietorship, but it is never more than conditional and relative. So it is our enjoyment, no matter how dharmic it may appear, which is adharmic. This is the first point Bhāgavatam makes: everything is consitutionally his; it is his dharma to enjoy everything and everyone. No one, therefore, is a more dharmic lover than Vrindavan Krishna!
And it is our dharma to participate in that infinite feast of enjoyment, as an integral part of it. The enjoyer and enjoyed both enjoy, but each from different perspectives.
So, even in Vraja, Krishna is setting an example for all to follow. What example?
The example of highest bliss!
Vraja-līlā exhibits the example of what everyone really wants: unrestrained, unmitigatedly thrilling bliss. And it also shows us how we can get it: not by trying to enjoy it as a proprietor (the key flaw in our approach to happiness), but instead by participating in it as a consitutant part of it, as a part belonging constitutionally to the whole: Krishna, who the root of our very existence.
As a gopī.
This is what Bhāgavatam and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu want to show us: That Krishna is the fullest concept of brahman and that we too are meant to be one with that expression of exquisitely blissful love.
Vraja Kishor dās