Venu Gita 5

 

 

gopyaù kim äcarad ayaà kuçalaà sma veëur

dämodarädhara-sudhäm api gopikänäm

bhuìkte svayaà yad avaçiñöa-rasaà hradinyo

håñyat-tvaco ‘çru mumucus taravo yathäryaù

 

My dear gopés, what auspicious activities must the flute have performed to enjoy the nectar of Kåñëa’s lips independently and leave only a taste for us gopés, for whom that nectar is actually meant! The forefathers of the flute, the bamboo trees, shed tears of pleasure. His mother, the river on whose bank the bamboo was born, feels jubilation, and therefore her blooming lotus flowers are standing like hair on her body. (SB 10.21.9)

 

våndävanaà sakhi bhuvo vitanoti kéåtià

yad devaké-suta-padämbuja-labdha-lakñmi

govinda-veëum anu matta-mayüra-nåtyaà

prekñyädri-sänv-avaratänya-samasta-sattvam

 

O friend, Våndävana is spreading the glory of the earth, having obtained the treasure of the lotus feet of Kåñëa, the son of Devaké. The peacocks dance madly when they hear Govinda’s flute, and when other creatures see them from the hilltops, they all become stunned. (SB 10.21.10)

 

 

CHAPTER FIVE

 

The Nectar of Krsna’s Lips

 

While Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu stayed in Jagannatha Puri, the Bengali Vaisnavas, led by Sivananda Sena, would visit the Lord yearly to observe the Ratha-yatra festival of lotus-eyed Lord Jagannatha. After the period of four months known as catur-masya, they would once again return to their homes in Gauda-desa, their hearts heavy with separation from the Lord.

One year a very advanced devotee of the name Kalidasa, an uncle of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami and famed for constantly chanting the holy name of Sri Krsna, accompanied the devotees to Puri. Kalidasa set out on his journey with a forbidden desire in his mind. Although all devotees were strictly prohibited from doing so, he wanted to drink the water that washed the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Whenever Caitanya Mahaprabhu would enter the temple of Lord Jagannatha, like all visitors He would wash His lotus feet. It was the duty of His personal attendants to restrain those attempting to steal this nectar, for the Lord was very strict in this matter. Nonetheless, because of his outstanding qualification of respecting Vaisnavas, Kalidasa acquired the special grace of the

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Lord, by which he was successful in fulfilling his transcendental desire.

Please hear how Kalidasa was able to gain Lord Caitanya’s mercy. It was the devotional practice of this simple-hearted devotee to eat the remnants of all Gaudiya Vaisnavas, be they sddhakas or siddhas. Kalidasa would visit their homes, carrying with him gifts of first-class foods which he offered his hosts in exchange for their remnants. If they refused his request, he would conceal himself in the nearby bushes and, when the Vaisnavas had finished their meals, he would come out of hiding to lick the remnants from their discarded leaf plates. Such was his transcendental habit.

One day, Kalidasa visited the home of the great Vaisnava Jhadu Thakura, a resident of Bhaduya village and worshiper of Madana-Gopala. Taking some first-class mangoes with him, Kalidasa presented them to him and offered prostrated obeisances to the Thakura and his wife. Jhadu Thakura was embarrassed at his inability to properly receive his guest. Because he belonged to a low caste, and because Kalidasa was from an aristocratic brahmana family, he proposed to arrange a meal for him at a brahmana’s house. Kalidasa politely declined and spoke with the following sweet words.

“Dear Thakura, please bestow your mercy upon me without creating illusions regarding external formalities relating to this body. Although I am very fallen and sinful, my desire is that, having bestowed your darsana upon me, you kindly place your lotus feet upon my head, that I may gain the dust of your feet.”

Greatly alarmed, Jadhu Thakura protested vehemently, while remaining concerned that his exalted guest would consider him inhospitable. In the ensuing conversation a very pleasant exchange took place regarding the greatness of Vaisnavas, yet, bound by the decorative ropes of humility, Jhadu Thakura would not submit to Kalidasa’ proposal. Accompanying him to his own home, Jhadu : Thakura embraced his saintly guest and then returned to his own ;. place. After some time, Kalidasa retraced the footprints of the Thakura, smearing the dust of those imprints all over his body while feeling great happiness. Eventually he reached the area of Jhadu Thakura’s house and hid in a secluded place.

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The Nectarof Krsna’s Lips

 

When Jhadu Thakura saw the first-class mangoes brought by Kalidasa, he offered them to Sri Krsna and honored His prasadam, leaving his own remnants to be taken by his wife. When the Thakurani finished eating, she placed the seeds in a banana leaf and threw them in a ditch where all refuse was discarded. At this time, the great saint Kalidasa emerged from hiding and, without hesitation, sucked the remnants of the mango seeds and licked their skins. Having achieved the fulfillment of his desires and feeling overwhelmed by ecstatic love, he shed many tears of happiness.

In this way, Kalidasa honored the remnants of food left by all the Vaisnavas of Bengal. As the all-knowing Supreme Person, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was aware of Kalidasa’s practice, and He became pleased by his humility. Consequently, He rewarded him with the rare privilege of drinking His caranamrta, a mercy not bestowed upon even His personal associates.

This pastime is instructive for those who covet the mercy of the Lord. If one desires the nectar of His lotus feet, one can acquire it through the mercy of the Vaisnavas.

 

The temple of Lord Jagannatha sits on the beautiful Nilacala Hill as the navel of the conch-shaped Purusottama-ksetra. Famous throughout the universe as the place where the maha-prasadam of the Lord is easily accessible, it is non-different than Dvaraka Puri, the sea-fort residence of Lord Sri Krsna. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu/ who is the selfsame Lord Jagannatha, spent the last eighteen years of His manifest pastimes in this holy place, constantly chanting the holy names and speaking on topics of Lord Krsna with His devotees.

One day, as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to visit the temple of Lord Jagannatha, the servants of the Lord offered Him prasadam made with very uncommon ingredients. The Lord respected a portion of it and had Govinda save the rest for later. The taste of

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Lord Jagannatha’s remnants far surpassed heavenly nectar and caused Lord Caitanya to fall into a great ocean of bliss. However, seeing the servants of Jagannatha present. He checked the force of His ecstasy and explained the glories of Lord Krsna’s maha-

prasadam.

“By contact with Lord Krsna’s lips, this food has been turned into nectar. Such prasadam, sought for by demigods like Lord Brahma and Lord Siva, can only be had by a very fortunate soul who has received the full mercy of the Lord.”

After the arati ceremony. Lord Caitanya returned to His quar­ters, performed His noon duties, and ate His lunch. Throughout the entire afternoon, impelled by the taste of the prasadam, His mind was continually filled with an ecstatic love which He could restrain only with great effort. In the evening, after most devotees had departed for their homes, the Lord sat in a secluded place in Kasi Misra’s garden. The fragrance of campaka flowers hung heavily in the air, and a cooling breeze from the sea blew through the trees. The atmosphere was reminiscent of Vrndavana, and the Lord was happy to sit there with His personal associates.

Lord Gauranga, the son of mother Saci, then directed Govinda to distribute Lord Jagannatha’s nectarean remnants. As the devotees tasted the uncommon sweetness and smelled the unique fragrance of the prasadam, their minds were struck with wonder.

Speaking with great feeling, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “These ingredients, such as sugar, camphor, black pepper, carda­mom, cloves, butter, spices, and licorice are all material. You have tasted them all before and savored their aromas. However,” the Lord continued, “when combined in this preparation and offered to Lord Jagannatha, these ingredients acquire extraordinary tastes and uncommon fragrances. Just taste them and see the difference in the experience! Apart from the taste, even the fragrance pleases the mind and makes one forget any other sweetness besides its own.”

Lowering His voice. His lotus eyes searching the directions. He continued, “If we search for an answer to this uncommon marvel, we can come to only one conclusion. The spiritual nectar of Krsna’s lips must have touched these ordinary ingredients and transferred to them all their spiritual qualities. The special

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attributes of Sn Krsna’s lips are the same enchanting fragrance and uncommon taste which makes one forget all other experiences. My dear devotees, this prasadam has been made available only as a result of many pious activities. Now taste it with great faith and devotion!”

Loudly chanting the holy name of Hari, all of them tasted the prasadam and, as they did, their minds became mad in the ecstasy of love. In such a state of divine bliss, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ordered Ramananda Raya to recite some verses from Srimad-Bhdgavatam, and the Raya spoke as follows:

surata-vardhanam soka-nasanam

svarita-venuna susthu-cumbitam itara-raga-vismaranam nrnam

vitara vim nas te ‘dharamrtam

“0 hero of charity, please deliver unto us the nectar of Your lips. That nectar increases lusty desires for enjoyment and diminishes lamentation in the material world. Kindly give us the nectar of Your lips, which are touched by Your transcendentally vibrating flute, for that nectar makes all human beings forget all other attach­ments.” (Bhag. 10.31.14)

Upon hearing Ramananda Raya quote this verse, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was very satisfied, and He recited the following verse, which had been spoken by Srimati Radharam in great anxiety.

vrajatula-kulanganetara-rasaU-trsna-hara-

pradwyad-adharamrtah sukrti-labhya-phela-lavah sudha-jid-ahivallika-sudala-vltika-carvitah

sa me madana-mohanah sakhi tanoti jihva-sprham

“My dear friend, the all-surpassing nectar from the lips of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, can be obtained only after many, many pious activities. For the beautiful gopis of Vrndavana, that nectar vanquishes the desire for all other tastes. Madana-mohana always chews pan that surpasses the nectar of heaven, by

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which He is certainly increasing the desires of My tongue.” (Govinda-lllamrta 8.8)

After saying this, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, overwhelmed by ecstatic loving emotions, took the role of Sri Radhika and, talking like a madman. He began to explain the meaning of the two verses.

As if Sri Krsna, the moon of Vrndavana, were finally present before Him, Lord Gaura said, “My dear lover, let Me describe some of the characteristics of Your transcendental lips. They agitate the mind and body of everyone, they increase lusty desires for enjoyment, they destroy the burden of material happiness, and they make one forget all material tastes. Indeed, the whole world falls under their control! Your lips vanquish shame, religion, and pa­tience. They inspire madness in the minds of all women, increasing the greed of their tongues and attracting them to You. Considering all this, we see that the activities of Your transcendental lips are always perplexing.”

His hands raised in an expressive gesture. His beautiful golden face decorated with a naughty smile, the son of Saci said, “My dear Krsna, since You are a male, it is not very extraordinary that the attraction of Your lips can disturb the minds of women. However, I am ashamed to say this, but Your lips sometimes attract even Your flute, which is considered a male. Even it likes to drink the nectar of Your lips and thus forgets all other tastes.”

As if in the presence of gopi girlfriends represented by His own associates. Lord Caitanya in Radhika’s mood said, “Because even unconscious matter is sometimes made conscious by them, it should be known that Your lips are like great magicians. Paradoxi­cally, although Your flute is nothing but dry wood. Your lips make it drink their nectar and create a mind and senses in its wooden body. When the flute becomes fully animated. Your lips impart to it great transcendental bliss.”

Feeling pain due to the arrogance of the flute. His sweet face covered by transcendental envy. Lord Caitanya continued, “That flute is a very cunning male who drinks again and again the taste of another male’s lips. Having done so, it advertises its qualities to the gopis, saying, ‘0 gopis, if you are so proud of being women, come forward and enjoy your property—the nectar of the lips of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.'”

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The Nectar of Krsna’s Lips

Lord Caitanya continued to narrate to Sri Krsna a past conver­sation with the arrogant flute. He said, “Thereupon, the flute angrily said to Me, ‘Oh, Radhe! If You ^ive up Your shame, fear, and religion and come drink the lips of Sri Krsna, I shall surrender my attachment for them and concede Your property. If You do not do so but remain entrenched in the shackles of social propriety, I shall continuously drink the nectar of Krsna’s lips without shame. You ask whether I feel guilt in enjoying the property of others! In answer, I shall admit a slight fear at Your legitimate right to drink that nectar. However, as for others whom I consider like straw, I shall not think twice to carry off the treasure of Sri Krsna’s lips.'”

With His lotus face full of intense expression, Caitanya Mahaprabhu complained to His associates, “The nectar of Krsna’s lips, combined with the vibration of His flute, attracts all the people of the three worlds. However, if we gopis remain patient out of respect for religious J>rinciples, the flute then criticizes us.”

Now turning to Sri Krsna, He says, “The nectar of Your lips and the vibration of Your flute join together to loosen our belts and induce us to give up shame and religion, even before our superiors. As if catching us by our hair, these two commodities forcibly drag us away, bring us to You, and surrender us unto You as Your maidservants. Hearing of these incidents, people laugh at us. In this way, we have become completely subordinate to the flute.”

Representing the married gopis, their aspirations for Krsna’s lips beyond the codes of proper conduct, Srimati Radharani expressed their inability to bring the flute to justice. “This flute is nothing but a dry stick of bamboo. Yet it becomes our master and insults us in so many ways, forcing us into a predicament. What can we do but tolerate it? The mother of a thief cannot cry loudly for justice when her son is punished. Similarly, we simply remain silent, suffering the policy of Sri Krsna’s lips.”

Continuing to glorify the lips of Sri Krsna as if He were Sri Radhika, Lord Caitanya said, “Just consider the other injustices! Everything that touches those lips—including food, drink, or betel—becomes just like nectar and is then called krsna-phela, or remnants left by Krsna.”

Lord Caitanya then began to describe the remnants of Sri Krsna’s food. “Since after much prayer the demigods themselves

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cannot obtain even a small portion of such food, just imagine the pride of those remnants! Only a person who has acted piously for many, many births and has thus become a devotee can obtain the remnants of such food.”

Next He turned His attention to the remnants of Sri Krsna’s chewed betel. “The betel chewed by Krsna is priceless, and the remnants of such chewed betel from His mouth are said to be the essence of nectar. When the gopis accept these remnants, their mouths become like His spittoons.”

Finally, Lord Caitanya faulted the actions of Sri Krsna’s lips, ranting like a madman in the deep ecstasy of love of God. “There­fore, My dear Sri Krsna, please give up all the tricks You have so expertly arranged, and do not kill the gopis with the vibration of Your flute. By Your joking and laughing. You are tantalizing us with Your inaccessible lips and are thus responsible for the killing of women. It would be far better for You to satisfy us by giving us in charity the nectar of Your lips.”

While Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was talking like this. His mind changed. His anger subsided, but His mental agitation increased. Turning to His friends, whom He saw as the gopis of Vraja, He continued, “This nectar from Krsna’s lips is supremely difficult to obtain, but if one gets some, his life becomes successful. When a person competent to drink that nectar does not do so, that shameless person continues his life uselessly.”

Finding fault with fate for the fortune of the flute and the misery of the gopis. He said, “There are persons who are unfit to drink that nectar, but who nevertheless drink it continuously, whereas some who are suitable never get it and thus die of greed. It is therefore to be understood that such unqualified persons must have obtained the nectar of Krsna’s lips on the strength of some austerity.”

Again Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said to Ramananda Raya, “Please say something, for My ears desire to hear.” Understanding the desires in the heart of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Ramananda Raya, who had appeared in Vraja as Visakha gopi, recited the following words from the ninth verse of Venu-gita:

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gopyah kim acarad ayam kusalam sma venur

damodaradhara-sudham api gopikanam bhunkte svayam yad avasista-rasam hradinyo

hrsyat-tvaco ‘sru mumucus taravo yatharyah

“My dear gopis, what auspicious activities must the flute have performed to enjoy the nectar of Krsna’s lips independently and leave only a taste for the gopis for whom that nectar is actually meant! The forefathers of the flute, the bamboo trees, shed tears of pleasure. His mother, the river, on whose bank the bamboo was born, feels jubilation, and therefore, her blooming lotus flowers are standing like hair on her body.” (Bhag. 10.21.9)

Upon hearing the recitation of this verse, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu became absorbed in ecstatic love and, with a greatly agitated mind. He began to explain its meaning like a madman.

 

In the first month of the winter season following the pastimes of the flute, some gopis, under the direction of their parents, will observe a vow for the sake of getting Sri Krsna as their husband. In reality, their desire can never be fulfilled, for in Vrndavana, Krsna always plays the role of the gopis’ paramour. Yet, in a symbolic way, by stealing their clothing and enticing them to the rasa dance m the following year, Krsna accepts them on par with His wives. Those same gopis, decorated with all the ornaments of youth, have now selected a suitable place to hear the vibration of the flute.

There are four symptoms of ecstasy manifest by the gopis in the following discussion. They are envy, bewilderment, pride, and humility. As there are many waves in the ocean, so there are count­less waves of spiritual emotion in the ocean of devotional service. Impelled by the currents of attachment to Sri Krsna, the gopis float from wave to wave, experiencing one sentiment after another.

The songs of Venu-gita, the characteristics of the gopis, indeed, the behavior of elevated Vaisnavas, are all completely on the

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transcendental platform. As such, the spiritual emotion they display should not be confused with the sentiments of attachment exhibited by conditioned living entities. Lord Gauranga personally taught Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana the science of devotional love to distinguish it from its reflected counterpart known as lust.

In The Nectar of Devotion the five bhavas which constitute rasa are elaborately described by Srila Prabhupada. Before describing this verse, I shall briefly review the teachings of His Divine Grace in this regard to clarify the substance of spiritual mellows.

Rasa is the transcendental mellow or relationship a living entity has with the Supreme Lord beyond the stage of ecstatic love. It manifests at the platform of prema-bhakti and is conditional to suddha-sattva, the stage of unalloyed goodness. At this stage, the heart is completely purified of all traces of mundane contamina­tion.

Rasa is constituted of the mature combination of vibhava, anubhava, sattvika-bhava, sancari-bhava, and sthayi-bhava, the true spiritual identity of a devotee. The five primary rasas, known as neutrality, servitude, friendship, parenthood, and conjugality, have been mentioned in an earlier chapter.

Vibhava is defined as the cause which brings about the tasting of love for Krsna. It occurs in two categories known as alambana, that in which love appears, and uddipana, the means by which love appears.

Anubhava is the outward behavioral symptoms that proclaim the presence of bhava, attachment to Krsna, like laughter, dancing, and chanting.

Sattvika-bhava is composed of the eight symptoms of ecstasy which are caused by the influence of spiritual energies manifest upon the body (specifically the nervous system), like paralysis, perspiration, and trembling.

Sancari-bhava (vyabicari-bhava) is the thirty-three transcendental emotions that appear and disappear like waves in the sea, leaving the dominant emotions unaffected. Examples are pride, envy, and eagerness.

Sthayi-bhava refers to the basic emotion or spiritual identity of a devotee that is present under all conditions of spiritual exchange.

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The Nectar of Krsna’s Lips

Examples of these factors will now be shown in the analysis of

sakhya-rasa, vatsalya-rasa, and madhurya-rasa.

In the mood of friendship, vibhava consists of Sri Krsna as the object of attachment in the form of a witty, well dressed boy always full of joy and delight (visaya-alambana). Those devotees who are very faithful, being very possessive of Him, steady in their attach­ment, and always devoted to rendering service as friends are the receptacle of attachment (asraya-alambana). Krsna’s age, flute, buffalo horn, and musical instruments are the impetus for experi­encing attachment (uddipana).

The anubhavas are wrestling, playing, and lying down with Krsna, and the sattvika-bhavas are characterized by crying and horripilation. Happiness, mirth, pride, and boasting are the fore­most of sancan-bhavas, while equality as friends, with reverence conspicuous by its absence, is the sthayi-bhava.

In the paternal mood, the vibhava of Krsna as the object of attachment (visaya-alambana) consists of Krsna as a beautiful, mild-mannered, submissive boy, whose body is soft as a lotus. Elders like Yasoda, Nanda, and Rohini are the shelter of that attachment (asraya-alambana), and Krsna’s smiling face, soft-spoken nature, and childhood activities are the impetus (uddipana).

The anubhava in this rasa consists of smelling the head, giving blessings, nursing Krsna, and rearing Him as a child. The sattvika-bhava consists of all eight symptoms with the additional character­istic of dripping milk from the breasts, seen only in mother Yasoda. The sancari-bhava is the delight of His association and dread at the demons lurking in the forest. The sthayi-bhava is parental affection which considers Krsna both subordinate and dependent.

In the conjugal mellow, the vibhava has Krsna’s beauty, sweet pastimes, and loving exchanges as the object of affection (visaya-alambana), and the gopis as the shelter of that affection (asraya-alambana). The sound of the flute, cuckoos in the spring, rain clouds, the call of the peacock, and the sight of His body are the impetus for bhava (uddipana).

The anubhavas are sidelong glances and shy smiles, while the sattvika-bhavas include all eight symptoms to their most developed stages. The sancari-bhava is laziness, fierce anger, and remorse, to

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name a few characteristics, and the sthayi-bhava is amiable loving affection.

In this way, one should study the behavior of the gopis from the transcendental point of view, knowing their conduct to be the mature manifestation of spiritual ecstasies, completely devoid of any trace of the mundane.

Continuing the ninth verse of Venu-gita, Srila Prabhupada combines the translation and a beautiful explanation of the gopis’ words. He writes, ” ‘My dear friends, we cannot even think of His bamboo flute—what sort of pious activities did it execute so that it is now enjoying the nectar of the lips of Krsna, which is actually the property of us gopis7 Krsna sometimes kisses the gopis;

therefore, the transcendental nectar of His lips is available only to them. So the gopis asked, ‘How is it possible that the flute, which is nothing but a bamboo rod, is always engaged in enjoying the nectar from Krsna’s lips? Because the flute is engaged in the service of the Supreme Lord, the mother and the father of the flute must be happy’

“The lakes and the rivers are considered to be the mothers of the trees, because the trees live simply by drinking water. So the waters of the lakes and rivers of Vrndavana were in a happy mood, full of blooming lotus flowers, because the waters were thinking, ‘How is it that our son, the bamboo rod, is enjoying the nectar of Krsna’s lips?’ The bamboo trees standing by the banks of the rivers and the lakes were also happy to see their descendant so engaged in the service of the Lord, just as persons who are advanced in transcen­dental knowledge take pleasure in seeing their descendants engage in the service of the Lord. The trees were overwhelmed with joy and were incessantly yielding honey, which flowed from the beehives hanging on the branches.”

This description by Srila Prabhupada is one alternative expla­nation given by Sanatana Gosvami and Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura in their commentaries. The gopis are scrutinizing the relatives of the bamboo flute, which are the rivers and trees, suspicious of the spiritual emotions they exhibit when Sri Krsna plays His flute. They claim the bamboo family has robbed them of their due property, the nectar of Sri Krsna’s lips, although that very

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nectar, transmitted through the medium of the flute, makes them speak like madwomen.

Exhibiting astonishment under the influence of the flute, one bewildered gopi speaks to another bewildered gopi, beginning with the word gopyah. In this context, the word gopi has several signifi­cant meanings. Gupta means to hide or seclude, the Sanskrit being gopayati iti gopi. Because these young girls hide their love deep in their hearts and because they speak about their love in a secluded place, they are known as gopi. The root word gop also means to protect. The gopis keep or protect their bodies only with the hope of having the nectar of Sri Krsna’s darsana. Furthermore, because they protect Him from the burning fire of His amorous desires, they are known as gopis.

Like so many young girls throughout Vraja, these gopis discuss among themselves about the good fortune of the flute. One gopi, her lotus eyes opened wide, her lips expressing scorn, says, “Dear friends, we have heard of the good fortune of the cowherd boys, who, while herding their cows, freely sing and dance with Krsna and Balarama. What to speak of the fortune of the gopas, can anything compare to the good fortune of that constant companion of Krsna, the flute?”

At the mere mention of the word “flute,” an intense response in the form of transcendental envy manifests among the girls of Vraja. Raising their arched eyebrows, they glance from the corners of their beautiful eyes in the direction of Vrndavana forest. One very charming gopi dressed in clothes the color of spring, the bangles on her hand tinkling sweetly, says, “This flute is very anartha-kari, mischievous, because it throws us into the ocean of bewilderment by its behavior.”

Another wide-eyed gopi, a golden water jug at her reddish lotus feet, says, “How is it this flute has become so fortunate? Someone please tell me, what sort of pious activity did this bamboo flute execute that it is now enjoying the nectar of the lips of Sri Krsna?”

The gopi standing next to her spoke with excitement, “This venu is just made of water and wood! Sakhi, how much piety has this flute acquired in this birth, or its previous births, that it now enjoys the exalted status of constant association with Mukunda?”

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Her hands clasped in front of her, overwhelmed with wonder, another gopi says in great bliss, “My dear friends, it is inconceiv­able how many pious activities this flute performed in its past life, the places of pilgrimage it visited, the austerities it performed, or the countless perfect mantras it chanted.”

Many green parrots in the branches overhead created an ear-shattering din in support of the gopis’ statements. Waving her hand to silence them, another gopi continued, “What injustice! What an outrage! While the unqualified flute drinks the nectar of Sri Krsna’s lips, the highly competent gopis are dying of unhappi-ness for want of this elixir. To regain our good fortune, we should immediately investigate what austerities the flute underwent in its past life to achieve such unconditional perfection.”

A young gopi who had recently joined the group asked with great curiosity, “Of what concern are the austerities of the flute, past or present, to us, sakhi?”

Smiling with great love, her friend replied, “The flute is always in Sri Krsna’s hand or belt. He sleeps with it by His side and even when bathed by His mother never lets it go. If we find out what penance has made this flute so fortunate, we can immediately prepare ourselves to execute the same sadhana. In this way, we too may achieve the fulfillment of our desire, being always with Sri Krsna and constantly tasting the nectar of His lips.”

In a mood of great humility, her golden effulgence illuminating the garden, another gopi addressed her friends. “He gopyah! All along we have thought our great saubhagya was to be born in Vraja and thus attain the association of Sri Krsna. But just a minute here;

it seems we have been cheated by fate! In reality, the highest good fortune is to take birth as a flute which puts to shame the meager seconds we spend with Nanda-nandana.” Folding her hands and raising them to her heart, she says with deep feeling, “We should all pray to Damodara, who is known as bhakta-vatsala, the affec­tionate well-wisher of His devotees, that we, too, may take birth in the family of flutes.”

“Kirn mangalam acaram? What auspicious thing could a flute do?”, speaks one gopi well versed in the sciences. “What is the question of its piety? 0 mugdhe, bewildered girls, the flute has done

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nothing, because it is not a conscious being.” Then, with the index finger of her right hand at her lovely chin, reflective like a great muni, she says, “But it is undeniable that the flute manages to enjoy the nectar of Damodara’s lips, whatever its status. How, then, does such a thing happen?”

With three lines of confusion decorating her broad forehead, she looks at a friend in bewilderment and speaks incoherently, without meaning, “0 gopika, you should speak! Even though you know what pious activities this flute has performed, still you do not say anything.” Shaking her finger, she says, “Why do you remain silent? Perhaps no one knows how this flute has acquired such merit.” Looking into the eyes of her bewildered friends, she continues, “Very well then, if you do not know how the flute has acquired its good fortune, then why not just guess?”

Another gopi, hot tempered and brusque by nature, her lotus hands placed on her broad hips, well dressed in a sari the color of the rising sun, addresses her friends, “Well said, my dear friends, well said! I understand that from your past births as yoginis you all have such great admiration for austerities and the chanting of mantras.” Looking about with a glance of disapproval, she says, “My interest at present is not in the piety of the flute or its extensive travels to sacred places of pilgrimage. What should be of concern to all sober souls is how this bamboo rod has the audacity to rob the true owners of their property.” Looking from one lovely face to another, she says with great emphasis, “Dear sakhis, need I remind you who is the true proprietor of that nectar? Do you all think that there is more than one heir to this very limited inheritance?”

After a moment of silence, restlessness appeared in that assem­bly of vraja-devis in the form of extensive whispering and varied bodily movements. By the process of elimination, the gopis quickly recognized the true owner of Sri Krsna’s lips to be none other than themselves. Subsequently, the flute’s role was transferred from an object of admiration to a mischievous adversary. This stunning revelation induced many strong feelings in the gopis, manifesting in such anubhavas as trembling and paleness.

Having awakened the concern of her friends, that gopi continued, “Sakhis, you should all understand the unscrupulous

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and immoral nature of the flute.” She lowers her voice, looks from side to side, and then gazes deeply into their eyes. “What I am about to say to you is quite improper, but for your welfare it must be said. Dear friends, please listen attentively.” With great curiosity written on their faces, those girls leaned forward, like filings drawn by a magnet.

“It is well known that this flute is utterly unfit to continually drink the unsurpassable nectar of Krsna’s lips, because it is a dead bamboo stick. But another secret in its disqualification is its highly questionable gender.” The gopis look at each other in amazement, their lotus mouths agape. “It is commonly known that grammati­cally the word venu is masculine, but the flute as an object is generally considered to be feminine. In reality, the truth of this matter is that the flute is both grammatically and substantially masculine.” Raising her eyebrows for emphasis, she continues, “In other words, dear friends, you should understand that Sri Krsna is repeatedly kissing and pouring the invaluable commodity of His lips into… the lips of another male!”

At this, all the gopis began to giggle uncontrollably, their faces flushing with amusement. “This indicates that the relationship between Sri Krsna and His venu is ayogata, or inappropriate. Now can you understand the greed of this flute? Despite all social convention, it continues to enjoy the nectar of Sri Krsna’s lips and refuses to accept any other form of enjoyment, bhoga.”

Indignation caused by jealousy now took its place among those fair-faced gopis, fondly embracing them to her breast. Her head held high and her eyebrows knitted in a frown, another gopi spoke with great force and conviction. “How can such arrogance be tolerated? Sri Krsna, the son of Vrajendra, will certainly marry all the gopis of Vrndavana, and therefore the nectar of Sri Krsna’s lips is their property. It cannot and should not be enjoyed by anyone else. Knowing this, that impudent flute thinks that it is very dear to Sri Krsna and, acting like a human, enjoys what is meant for us,”

Stamping her foot on the ground for emphasis, she says, “The false pride of this creature must be curbed, for it acts outside its caste. The statement svajatiya-snigdha explains the well-known practice that one associates with those of the same kind. The gopis

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are born in gopa-jati, the race of gopas, and Damodara is also ^opa-Jfltf. Therefore, we are the hereditary beneficiaries of the nectar of His lips. After all, it is we who were embraced by Sri Krsna at night, and therefore that nectar remains our sole property. The venu has no qualification of birth, but is arrogantly intruding where it has no right. Therefore, remaining with its own kind, it should decorate the banks of the Yamuna instead of giving us so much trouble.”

All those gopis spoke out with one voice, in full agreement, “Keep that flute with its own kind! It should not transgress the caste of its birth!”

The gopis sometimes floated and sometimes sank in the great ocean of ecstatic love for Krsna. In that ocean there are unlimited waves of transcendental emotions that tossed their minds from one overwhelming ecstasy to another. Whether the flute was aware of its good fortune or not, the gopis, being the most elevated transcen-dentalists, considered it a sentient being engaged in the service of Krsna and a competitor to their insatiable aspirations.

Although the gopis have many opportunities to separate Krsna from His flute, by the arrangement of Sri Krsna’s own potencies, the venu always finds its way back to its master.

Sometimes while strolling through the gardens of Vrndavana, overwhelmed by the association of the gopis, Sri Krsna drops His flute unawares. At that time, the gopis hide their rival in love, with plans to throw him in the Yamuna to be washed out to sea.

When playing dice with Radharani by the banks of Her lake, both opponents lay their valuables as stakes in the game. At that time Sri Krsna, having wagered His flute, loses the throw and becomes the object of ridicule by the gopis, who say:

“Hai! Hai! Oh, my! In Vrndavana this one flute You had to call Your own, but You were not able to retain this wife of Yours. Dear Sri Krsna, You may be expert where physical strength is required, like fighting with demons. In this game some intelligence is needed, and You certainly seem to lack in that regard. Perhaps Your excessive association with so many cows has finally had an effect on You. Better go herd them now and leave this game to those with more developed brain power.”

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While deeply absorbed in His pastime of swinging with His most beloved, Sri Krsna exhibits His naughty behavior. Having given all assurance that He would move the swing very gently. He causes it to rise ever higher and higher by kicking the ground with His lotus feet. While He enjoys frightening Sri Radha with His wild swinging, laughing uncontrollably and ignoring Her appeals, the flute falls from His sash into the hands of the sakhis to become their instrument of revenge.

As Sri Krsna is the eternal cowherd boy, as the gopis are His eternal associates, as Vrndavana is their eternal playground, so the venu is the gopis eternal rival. Their animosity of love is an eternal lild that nourishes the ever-increasing pleasure of Sri Krsna.

In this way the gopis continue their discussion, exhibiting and experiencing ever new transcendental emotions. One gopi well versed in the law book of Manu says, “Without taking assistance from others, devoid of any sense of liberality, this flute enjoys Sri Krsna’s adhara-sudha by itself. Sakhis, we should recognize that in possessing the wealth of others, this flute has become a thief, cauri. He is a pirate born of the waterways and a renegade living outside the law. Without further ado, without wasting neither our time nor our breath, we should deal with this flute as a criminal and nothing else.”

Her assistant adds, “Because the flute informs the gopis when to meet with Sri Krsna, it may expect clemency on the strength of its service, thinking that its crime is lessened. Sakhis, do not be misled into foolish acts of leniency. In the case of ‘the gopis versus the flute,’ only the danda is suitable punishment.”

Their anger fully aroused, the gopis respond, “Punish the thief for its crimes! Thrash him! Put him on the Ganga! Behead him!”

The first gopi continues, “Damodara is always under the control of the gopis. With the ropes of Her loving glances, Sri Radha completely binds Him up, and with the accumulated twine of Nanda-grama, mother Yasoda tied His waist to the grinding mortar. This is well known! But somehow or other, while we were not watching, without anyone’s consent, this flute has made its way into Sri Krsna’s belt. Now, having gained such prestige, it proudly sits close to His heart, like a minister to the throne of a

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king. His impudence and liberties only further compound his offense.

“Someone may argue,” she continues, “that the flute drinks the nectar without having made any effort to gain such status. Since the nectar just comes of its own accord, why should he not enjoy it, and why should the gopis be envious of his good fortune?”

Before any angry gopi can respond, she says, “In answer, we will respond as follows: The flute did not receive our permission to assume its new domicile, nor has it shared its acquired nectar with us. In fact, it drinks this nectar with such excess that after it is finished there is nothing left. My friends, do you not think such uncontrollable greed certainly requires punishment?”

“Aho darstyam! Oh, the impudent!” exclaims another gopi, ris­ing to her feet in anger. “The lips of Damodara are an incessant source of nectar, which never dries up but becomes ever more juicy. Now this impertinent flute takes that nectar and swallows it whole, not leaving even one drop for us!”

Like thirsty swans in a desert, their eyes the only residence of moisture, the gopis exclaim in unison, “Na avasista! Not one drop left! Not even one drop!”

Another gopi says, “The nature of this nectar is to increase attachment to itself. It seems impossible that we can dislodge this wretched flute, who could be drinking rasa elsewhere. He has acquired such a lust for this adhara-sudha, the parakiya-rasa meant for us, that he has no interest in any other taste and brazenly robs our property.”

“And because his attachment to this nectar is unsatiated, if something does remain, the flute takes that as well. Have you ever seen him cease his drinking and eating of this nectar?” interrupts another gopi, with great emphasis.

In their ecstasy of eagerness, the gopis imagine the inconceiv­able luck of the flute and, like dolls under a magical spell, repeat, “It never stops drinking and eating this nectar. It never stops!”

With increased emphasis, as if they were now alone in the world, another gopi says, “Dear friends, I have a personal testi­mony which, while complicating this issue, may also shed light on why the flute leaves no remnants for the gopis of Vraja. In brief, I

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believe he has some accomplices in his work, and he divides the spoils among them.”

That gopi-gana, which appears like a wreath of multicolored flowers from heaven, becomes thunderstruck to hear of conspira­tors in the theft of its property. Her complexion blanching in anger;

one vraja-sundan says, “He sakhi-gana! Dear friends! While we are sitting here happily passing time, it appears that a band of dacoits headed by this greedy flute is making away with our property. It seems that our only consolation is the poetic legacy we leave for the birds, creepers, and trees of this area. You may be happy to make no effort to stop them! But I am not!”

Rising to her feet without further ado, that gopi starts in the direction of the flute’s song. Looking like the feminine counterpart of an angry Yamaraja, she appears prepared to punish the greatly sinful conspirators of Vraja with the noose of her quivering eyebrows. Although it takes an entire assembly of strong-willed gopis to rescind her vigilante plans, they are unable to control her roving eyes, which continue to pursue a course of revenge against the flute and its accomplices.

The gopi versed in Manu’s judicial procedure asks, “To avoid the pitfall of implicating the innocent, please explain which accomplices participate in looting the remnants of nectar from Damodara’s lips. Also, clarify how their crime is achieved.”

With a great desire to unearth the entirety of this plot, the gopis demand in unison, “Who are these confederates?”

Bearing witness to her words, that gopi replies, “The lakes, rivers, and trees are the relatives of the flute and are therefore prime suspects. However, it is not from suspicion alone that I mention their names. There is ample evidence to support my case.”

“What is that evidence?” asks her lotus-eyed friend.

“Because the trees and bamboo reeds live by drinking the water, the rivers of Vraja are known as their mothers. When persons acquire something very difficult to obtain, it is seen that their whole bodies become joyful.” Pointing her delicate finger to the west, she says, “Just see how the waters of the lakes and rivers of Vrndavana are so joyful. For me, this is a clear indication that they are tasting a drava-matra drop of that nectar.”

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“Dear sakhi\” asks another gopi, “By what symptoms do you assume the rivers to be joyful?”

The speaker replies, “Has it not been a subject of wonder among us lately, how for no apparent reason the numerous lotus flowers on the many waterways of Vraja seem to be blooming out of season? Please consider the science of rasa. In this regard, consider the remnants of nectar as the vibhava overwhelming the rivers and lakes. Although they make an attempt to conceal their ecstasy with the hands of their many waves, the subsequent eruption of lotuses on their skin is the anubhava manifesting due to the great bliss the waters feel.”

“And what about the trees?” asks another gopi.

“The trees also try to hide their ecstasy. They, too, are unsuc­cessful, and their happy tears burst forth as the honey flowing from the beehives in great abundance. Like all great devotees, they cry in ecstasy. Sakhi, what other cause than the taste of nectar can this behavior be attributed to? The saying Tike father like son’ is confirmed in these examples. Both the trees and rivers neglect sharing any nectar with us. It is no wonder their progeny, the flute, is so callous, hard hearted, and devoid of any mercy.”

Nodding to each other in affirmation, the gopis speak, saying, “This is certainly very strong evidence. It appears that we are surrounded on all sides by rogues.”

One mrdvi-gopi, whose meek and gentle nature causes her to speak with humility, adds, “Perhaps the lakes and rivers are happy because their son, the flute, is enjoying the nectar of Sri Krsna’s lips. The bamboo trees may be happy to see their descen­dant engaged in the service of Sri Krsna in the same way as persons advanced in transcendental knowledge take pleasure in seeing their descendants serving the Lord. Aside from their sympa­thy, it may be that these relatives have no other complicity in this affair.”

“I also agree with this analysis,” says another doe-eyed gopi. “Why should we unnecessarily place blame on the innocent? The trees are known to be greatly munificent. They always share their shade, shelter, fruits, and flowers with everyone. How can we com­pare them to the flute? By providing bathing places and drinking water, rivers like the Yamuna and Ganga bestow all wealth and

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purify the three worlds. They are great personalities who can not be held responsible for the delinquency of their offspring.”

An assertive gopi whose cloth resembles a night full of stars adds, “It is also known that when Sri Krsna takes His bath in these rivers, their presiding deities jubilantly drink the remnants of the nectarean juice from His lips. In this way, they become intoxicated. The trees who stand on their banks like great ascetics, engaging in welfare activities for all living entities, drink the nectar of Krsna’s lips by drawing water from the river with their roots. Thus, they also become blissful. They should not be blamed for that enjoyment which comes of its own accord and is allotted to them by fate.”

Supporting this line of argument, another gopi versed in the principles of sad-dcara says, “The trees have an unusual habit of drinking nectar through their feet. Although worshipable objects should not touch the lower parts of the body, and prasadam should be honored through the lips, it is unfair to falsely accuse the trees due to their lack of culinary decorum.”

Having abandoned the theory that implicated the rivers and trees in collusion with the flute, the mood of the gopis swings in their support. To give further endorsement to their virtuous position, an innocent gopi says, “Perhaps the trees cry because they are very hungry and are lamenting for want of some food?”

A gopi known for her austerities says, “No! No! No! Trees are like great personalities, grave and very intelligent. They do not lament for the maintenance of their bodies. It may be that, like us, the trees cannot get any nectar from the flute and, deprived of even a drop, they are crying, seeing how jubilant the rivers are by their good fortune.”

The gopi of clear judgment who had spoken earlier replies, “Dear sakhis, what logic are you propounding? Trees cannot enjoy the rasa of the flute, which is for those in a conjugal relationship. They are santa-bhaktas with no aspiration for an intimate relation­ship with Hari. They are satisfied with living peacefully in a remote place, meditating on the form of Sri Krsna as the Supreme Being, the creator of all. Based on the logic (nyaya-sutra) that ‘a poor man never cries if he does not become king,’ you should find some other cause for the tears of the trees.”

Earlier the gopis had questioned the piety that had enabled the

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flute to achieve the fortune of unrestricted access to Sri Krsna’s lips. By direct glorification, innuendo, criticism, and various examples and descriptions, they answered their own questions. Still, they remain unsatisfied with their own predicament/ beggars for the nectar of Sri Krsna’s lips.

Summarizing their discourse on the flute, trees, and rivers, one gopi says with exaggerated emphasis, “When great people hear the glories of the Lord, they experience ecstatic symptoms like tears and horripilation. Although these symptoms are readily seen in the rivers and trees, for lack of evidence and precedent, the status of their complicity remains an unresolved affair.”

With her forefinger raised, moving her right hand and her charming head from side to side, she continues, “Dear friends, let it be known that the rivers are the female friends of the flute, and the trees are its male friends. However,” she says with great emphasis, “if the flute is our enemy, by the simple laws of logic, the friends of the enemy are also our enemies. Thus…” Picking up their cue, the gopis speak simultaneously, “…the flute, rivers, and trees altogether are our enemies.” Hearing this conclusive judgment, overwhelmed by the sancan-bhava of envy, the gopis spoke one after the other with great urgency.

“This flute should be stolen and disposed of immediately!”

“Get it away from Sri Krsna’s lips!”

“Burn it, bury it, or drown it in the river!”

“Somehow, in any way but without delay/get that flute away from Him, and send it packing!”

As the patience of those gopis reached its boiling point, it caused the pot of the bhava to erupt, and a great din of ecstatic emotions ensued. The birds circled overhead, attracted by the commotion, and then, settling in the trees, they contributed to the verdict with their chatter. Sleeping nearby in the morning sun, village dogs rose to their feet and barked the news of the gopis’ judgment. The peacock, reasoning that such a hubbub could only portend rain, began to cry and dance, looking towards the sky.

All in all, the combined sound became tumultuous, and were it not for the protection of Yogamaya, many mothers-in-law would have quickly collected their daughters and escorted them home to a

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suitable scolding. In an attempt to quiet that assembly, a sober gopi spoke above all the others, attracting their attention. “Santi, santi, santi! Oh, vrajasundarmantt Jewels among the ladies of Vrndavana! Please listen to my words! I have just one question to ask of you, which will conclusively address this issue!”

The gopis, birds, dogs, and peacocks turned their heads in the direction of the speaker. “Who is responsible for this calamity of the flute? Dear friends, let us ask this question. Who has put the flute in the hands of Krsnacandra? Lotus-eyed Sri Hari, being the son of a cowherd, was not born with it as Lord Visnu appears with His eternal symbols! Therefore, the question remains, where did the flute come from?”

Like a lightning bolt from the sky, the gopis were struck by the rational significance of the question. Where did the flute come from? The gopis looked at each other, perplexed, the dogs and birds turned their heads, mystified, and the peacocks buried their beaks in their tails, bewildered. Looking at each other, at the animals, at the birds, then turning one way and then another, the best of Vraja’s cowherd girls echoed, “Who is it? Who is it?”

Not yet turned fifteen but the oldest by one month, one gopi said, “The mystery of the flute has been told to me by noble Paurnamasi. Therefore, whatever I say cannot be false. My dear friends, please listen how Sri Krsna acquired his bosom chum, the flute.

“Prior to the birth of Sri Krsna, the creator. Lord Brahma, inspired with a desire to serve his eternal master, appeared in Vrndavana riding on his great swan. To serve Sri Radha, he expanded himself in the form of four-peaked Varsana mountain and, for the service of Sri Krsna, he presented Nanda Maharaja with the flute, saying, ‘Give this divine flute to your son, for He will enact many pastimes with its assistance.’

“Nanda Baba was delighted that a son would finally be born to him. When Nandulala took birth from the womb of mother Yasoda, he remembered Lord Brahma’s words and placed the flute in Sri Krsna’s hands. Ever since then, the flute has been His inseparable companion and the source of our great misery.”

The gopis already had reason to be cross with the creator for

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certain anatomical defects. Like ghee thrown on a fire, they flared up, crying, “Oh, what misfortune! Oh, what bad luck! Our universe has such an inept creator! First, he creates eyelids to obstruct the vision of our beloved, and then he conspires to deny us the nectar of His lips. Let that Brahma be cursed once, let him be cursed twice! He has brought repeated misfortune upon the race of gopis.”

Then, overwhelmed with the mood of separation from Sri Krsna, hankering for the nectar of His lips, the gopls cast all hope to the wind and, falling into the abyss of despair, they cried, “Oh, fie on us! Fie on us! How unfortunate we are!”

In great humility the gopis cried warm tears, while their beauti­ful lotus eyes became tinged with red and began to itch. Rubbing their eyes with one hand, consoling their friends with the other, they caused the nearby creatures, mobile and immobile, to sink into their ocean of unhappiness. That deep ocean, full of the countless aquatics of various ecstasies, characterized by the whirlpools of many incoherent talks and tossed by the waves of the flute song, was the separation from the nectar of Sri Krsna’s lips.

 

While wandering through the forest of the Hemanta season, where the moonlit nights become longer and the sunlit days shorter, Sri Radha shivered from the cold. Sri Krsna said, “0 Radhika, quickly enter into the abode of My heart, where You will . be sheltered from the cold by the warmth of My eagerness for You.”

When Sri Krsna pulled Radha close to Him, She protested, saying, “Na! Na!” In the loving struggle which ensued. His sash loosened and His flute fell to the ground, as if angry. Beautiful Lalita saw the crown opulence of Vraja’s prince lying neglected on the ground and said, “0 hard, cold flute, whose only quality is the beauty of your song, full of faults (holes) and a great disturbance to the three worlds, you will now get your just dues!” Unbeknown to Sri Krsna, who was intoxicated with the mystifying presence of Sri Radha, Lalita hid the fortunate flute in the dark shelter of her thick braid.

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Happily wandering through the Hemanta forest with Radhika, Sri Krsna observed the many winter flowers, vines, birds, and animals. To shelter Them from the cold, Vrnda-devi, the keeper of the forest, joyfully presented Them with small winter coats of crimson, tawny, blue, and golden colors.

Reaching peaceful Radha-kunda, Sri Radha, desiring to vindi­cate the abuse suffered by Her friends at the hand of the flute, challenged Govindaji to a game of dice. Unable to resist the challenge, Sri Hari sat down on a crystal dais facing Radhika and Lalita-devi, while Madhumahgala acted as His advisor in the game.

Sri Radha was the goddess of victory, Jaya-Sri. Even with guidance of the infallible Madhumangala, what hope was there for Sri Krsna to throw the high score? When He first lost His Kaustubha gem, Hari found consolation in seeing it hanging around Sri Radha’s neck. At the next throw. His pearl necklace was lost, but He considered the loss insignificant. However, when He staked His flute against Sri Radha’s vma and lost it. He felt in His sash and saw that His prized possession was gone.

When Sri Krsna asked Madhumangala for His flute, he replied with pride, “Where am I an ascetic of the forest, and where are You roaming around without purpose? Where am I religion personi­fied, and where are You attached to all kinds of frivolous conduct? Your Kaustubha gem is already lost, and now You have also lost the enchanting weapon of Your flute! Left to Your fate. You can now blissfully sing the ri ri song wherever You go!”

Extremely disturbed by the turn of events, Sri Krsna abandoned the game of dice to locate His friend, the flute. Suspecting one or more of the gopis as the thieves. He tried to discover the felon by sweet words, threats, and close inspection. It was all to no avail.

Taunting Him with a smile on her reddish lips, Lalita-devi said, “Ho, Ho! Oh, once holder of the flute! You are now up to Your neck in the sticky swamp of embarrassment. Now that Your friend, the flute, has left You, how will You attract the gopis into the forest at night? How will You now pass Your abundant leisure hours, 0 son of Vraja’s king?”

Casting a glance of disregard to Lalita, all the while smiling at Sri Radha, Madhava turned to Madhumangala and said, “0

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omniscient king of brahmanas, having studied astrology, please look in your charts to see who took my Murali.” Performing acamana, sitting in trance, and meditating on the current constellations, Madhu said, “0 friend, my infallible conclusion is that hot-tempered Lalita took it.”

Without His noticing it, Sri Radha came behind Lalita and took the flute from her hand and hid it in Her own braid. Then, as Sri Krsna was about to search an angry Lalita, a forest nymph and Servant of Vrnda-devi appeared and said, “Jatila is arriving at Surya-kunda!”

When many pots of water are thrown on a fire, it naturally goes out. Similarly, when the name “Jatila” entered the ears of the gopis, their happiness in Sri Krsna’s association vanished. Abandoning their blissful sports, Sri Krsna and His girlfriends, their eyes fearful, hastened to see Jatila.

The many wonderful lies Sri Radha spoke to Jatila explaining Her delay in worshipping the sun-god greatly satisfied Surya-deva, who was overjoyed at the darsana of his worshipable Deities, Radha-Krsna. While Radhika pledged Her innocence, Sri Krsna, in the guise of a pure brahmana, sober, renounced, and learned, looked on, a charming smile on His lips.

The many mantras chanted by the king of brahmanas contained such equivocal meaning that the sun became perplexed and, fixed in the sky, pondered their deep significance to no avail. At the conclusion of the ceremony, wearing a white robe, holding the scriptures and durva grass in His hands, Sri Krsna instructed Radha, “0 most chaste girl, just say bhavaste namah, perform parikrama of Your priest, and then offer Your obeisances with Your forehead touching the ground.”

As Sri Radhika offered Her respects to the brahmana Sri Krsna, His flute fell from Her hair, making a hollow sound. The intricate network of lies that She concocted at that moment was sufficient to bewilder even Brhaspati, the guru of the demigods. Finally, Sri Radhika placated Jatila by explaining, “Arye! Today this flute fell from the slope of Govardhana Hill, and because it is known to give the gopis of Vraja much distress, I planned to throw it in the Yamuna. Surely there can be no harm in that?”

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Promising to take it out of Vrndavana and dispose of it in a faraway place, Sri Krsna regained His flute from the hand of Jatila. Giving her assurance that Radha was a goddess of fortune and the emblem of chastity, Govinda bade farewell to the ladies of Vraja. While stroking His dear flute, Sri Krsna consoled it with many sweet words and then replaced it in His sash. While returning home. He held the hand of His dear friend and continued to look behind Him until the gopis completely passed out of sight.

 

As Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu recalled the eternal pastimes of Sri Krsna, He became full of bliss. In the association of Ramananda Raya and Svarupa Damodara, He continued to hear of the nectar of Govinda’s lips, sometimes dancing, sometimes singing, at all times behaving like a transcendental madman.

Absorbed in the mood of Sri Radha, Caitanya Mahaprabhu remembered Her mood in returning to the house of Her in-laws. There, Sri Radhika became overwhelmed by the fire of separation from Sri Krsna, speaking incoherently, crying, and lamenting in the arms of Her friends. Only when Her maidservants returned from Nandagoan with the happy news of Krsna-Balarama’s supper was Sri Radha’s unbearable sorrow assuaged. Hearing how Syama-sundara enjoyed the preparations cooked by mother Rohini and the sweets made by Sri Radha, Lord Caitanya became very pleased.

Knowing the desire within the hearts of the gopis, Sri Krsna had hinted to Dhanistha from the corners of His lotus eyes. While He appeared to enjoy the jokes of merry Madhumangala, she collected that food which was glowing with the nectar accrued from the touch of His lotus lips. Then, Dhanistha packed this treasure, along with preparations sent by Yasoda-devi, and carefully placed it in the hands of Radhaji’s maidservants.

When the maidservants, who were dedicated to the happiness of Sri Radha, returned to Her home, they showed the gopis Sri Krsna’s meal. Seeing His remnants, the sakhis noses and eyes were

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extremely pleased by its fragrance and color. Then, Rupa Manjari took Sri Radha and Her girlfriends to the dining room and, seating them at the table, served them the remnants of Hart’s supper. She appeared like Mohini carefully serving amrta to the demigods.

Radhika sat on a dais with Lalita-devi on Her right and Visakha to Her left, while all the other gopis sat by Her side and to Her front. Because they were left over by Sri Hari, sweetened by His lips, touched by His lotus hands, and looked upon by Sri Radha/ the little rice and vegetables sent by Dhanistha seemed to be end­less. There appeared to be no limit to how much the maidservants were able to serve.

Savoring the many tastes within His own lotus mouth, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu heard how Sri Eadha found unlimited bliss in relishing Sri Krsna’s remnants. He was like a swan tasting nice lotus stems, bees tasting lotus honey, or cakora birds tasting the nectar of the moon.

Because the food had taken on the divine qualities of Sri Krsna’s lips, when Sri Radha tasted His food remnants it was as if She was directly touching His lips. While relishing those eatables, She only relished the nectar of His lips. Closing Her lotus eyes. She remembered the many pastimes of Sri Krsna, while the sweet talks of Her friends flowed like a stream of nectar through the deep forest of Her thoughts.

After washing their mouths, Radhika and Her girlfriends enjoyed the remnants of Sri Krsna’s betel leaves and then took rest On their beds, being served by their many maidservants. Sending some of the remnants to Vrnda-devi, Rupa Manjari and all her girlfriends happily sat down to eat the nectarean remains of Radhika’s meal, joyfully serving each other from the gopis’ plates and lovingly quarreling among themselves for Her mouthwash.

In this way, the many waves of Sri Krsna’s pastimes relating to the nectar of His lips, as tasted by His avaricious flute and imbued within the remains of His food, washed over the shifting sands of Lord Caitanya’s mind. Mixing with the sound of the pounding surf, it created a wonderful kirtana for the lotus-eyed Lord Jagannatha, who happily observed Gauranga’s incessant absorp­tion in love for Hun.

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The Nectar of Krsna’s Lips

This concludes the fifth chapter of The Song of the Flute, by a very insignificant disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, in which the vraja-gopis, who hide their deep love for Vanamali in their hearts and maintain their bodies merely to please Him, discuss with some envy the good fortune of the flute, which constantly resides on Sri Krsna’s lotus lips and is the beneficiary of their nectarean touch, while planning to imitate its past austerities to secure birth in the family of flutes, only to discover with great bewilderment its unscrupu­lous character, by which it plunders their property without sanction and gives no commission to them, but by clandestine means may be distribut­ing some royalties to the trees and rivers, its relatives, who are suspect due to exhibiting symptoms of ecstasy indicative of some great uddipana, although certain mitigating circumstances imply that they may be acquir­ing such nectar legitimately, or they may merely be exhibiting happiness at the good fortune of their relative, by whose kinship they remain classi­fied as enemies of the gopis in much the same way as the flute who, being guilty without a doubt, has been awarded capital punishment, along with a lesser curse to an unwitting creator who, with his four faces, witnesses this pastime of the flute, the rivers, and trees, and sees the gopis cry a torrent of tears in great humility, because their lives have been deprived of its only true asset, the nectar of Sri Krsna’s lips.

 

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