Venu Gita 9

 

 

 

präyo batämba vihagä munayo vane ‘smin

kåñëekñitaà tad-uditaà kala-veëu-gétam

äruhya ye druma-bhujän rucira-pravälän

çåëvanti mélita-dåço vigatänya-väcaù

 

O mother, in this forest all the birds have risen onto the beautiful branches of the trees to see Kåñëa. With closed eyes they are simply listening in silence to the sweet vibrations of His flute, and they are not attracted by any other sound. Surely these birds are on the same level as great sages. (SB 10.21.14)

 

prayo batamba vihaga munayo vane ‘smin

 

CHAPTER NINE

The Saintly Birds of Vraja

 

In Vrndavana there are innumerable birds who contribute to the transcendental atmosphere of that place and participate in the pastimes of Sri Krsna. Some of these birds are of a divine species, while others are products of material variety. By their beautiful plumage, singing, and services they please Nanda-nandana, who bestows upon them His benign glance. These birds not only reside in the bushes and trees of Vraja but fly into the lush jungle of Govinda’s extraordinary pastimes and become both participants and witnesses to His transcendental lila.

The cakora is an unusual bird that maintains its existence by exclusive dependence on the moon. By drinking the silvery rays of moonshine, it thrives and is happy. In the same way, the eyes of the residents of Vraja continuously drink the nectar of Krsna’s bodily luster and thus live peacefully. The moonlike glories of Mukunda are always pleasing to His devotees, who are like cakora birds, hav­ing no interest in any other topics by way of spiritual sustenance.

The cakravaka birds are round-shaped ducks, always favoring the lakes and rivers of Vraja. At night they call to one another, breaking the silence with their sorrowful cries. In their past lives

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they were lovers who, due to excessive attachment, were cursed to sleep apart, and they now call out, “Cakrava, may I come to you?” and their mates reply, “No, Cakravi, do not come!”

The cdtaka is a type of swallow that will not drink water once it has touched the ground. It accepts rain drops as they fall from the clouds and satisfies its thirst in that way. When it rains, all birds are silent, but the cdtaka happily flies through the rain-filled sky, satiating its thirst while singing sweet songs of Hari. A species of golden catakas is known as casa: their specialty is a fondness of singing along with other species of birds. The devotees who depend solely on Krsna for His mercy, rejecting all other forms of subsistence, are likened to the cdtaka bird. In his prayers, Rupa Gosvami exemplifies this analogy in this way:

“0 Lord of the poor, do what You like with me, give me either mercy or punishment, but in this world I have none to look to except Your Lordship. The cdtaka bird always prays for the cloud, regardless of whether it showers rains or throws a thunderbolt.”

Then there are the swans which inhabit the beautiful waters of Vrndavana, feeding off the stems of lotus flowers and emitting a very melodious warbling sound. Their graceful movements excel that of any other waterfowl and, when diving in the water, they enjoy playing among the lotus stems that resemble their slender necks. The swans of Vraja are generally white, although some black swans have been arranged by Yogamaya for the pleasure of Krsna’s associates. In addition, there are the rajahamsa, swans that are very special due to their larger size and unique ability to separate milk from water.

When the swans hear the tinkling of Sri Krsna’s ankle bells, they become ashamed of their own sweet voices and, lowering their necks, they glide to Govinda and admit defeat. Once, when looking for a sign of her daughter-in-law, Jatila followed the movements of the swans, knowing they were attracted to the sound of Radhika’s ankle bells.

Krsnadasa Kaviraja compares the devotees to the swans that play in a forest of lotus flowers and the buds of those lotus flowers to the pastimes of Sri Krsna. Because Govinda is always engaged in His wonderful pastimes, the swanlike devotees, following in the

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footsteps of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, constantly feed on those lotus-bud pastimes and remain nourished and satisfied.

The khanjana are wagtails who always restlessly move here and there. Sri Krsna’s eyes are also like wagtails, seeking ever-new diversions in His loving affairs with His devotees.             ‘

The cuckoo is commonly found in the mango trees and calls out ku hii, ku hit, ku hu in a pitch rising with each successive call. In the chorus of many types of birds, it sings on the fifth note, which is known as pancama. By eating the buds of the mangoes, the voices of the cuckoos, or kokila, become so sweet that they can even bring the dead back to life.

Not distant from the home of Abhimanyu in Javat is a forest inhabited by many cuckoos- To this day, it is known as Kokila vana, the forest of the koel. One day Sri Krsna entered that forest and began to imitate the sound of the cuckoos. He sang in such a beautiful way that even Radharani’s mother-in-law, busy making cow dung patties, became enchanted. Commenting on the beautiful chorus, Jatila gave permission for Sri Radha to enter the forest and see the singing of the birds firsthand. In this way, Radharani was able to meet with Sri Krsna.

Another type of cuckoo is the papihan which sings the words pi kahan, pi kahan, which means “Where is my love, where is my love?” When the gopis feel the pangs of separation, the songs of the papihan are like words of sympathy to their ears ,and mitigate their feelings of sorrow.

There are laks of green parrots in Vrndavana, although some multicolored species are also to be seen. Because they are easily domesticated and can learn to speak, many parrots act as messen­gers, while others are trained as bards who recite appropriate songs in glorification of Radha and Krsna. Female parrots are fond of grapes, and the males are readily found in pomegranate trees.

There are many famous and important parrots, the foremost of whom appeared as Sukadeva Gosvami, the celebrated speaker of Srmad-Bhagavatam. As the pet of Srimati Radharani, Suka was requested by Sri Krsna to remain in the world after His departure and recite the Bhdgavatam to Maharaja Pariksit for the benefit of people at large. Suka was the witness to all of Krsna’s pastimes in

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Vrndavana/ and consequently, he was the most qualified person to narrate the Bhagavatam.

Manjubhasini is the learned pet parrot of Radha, and Vica-ksana, who is calm by nature and expert in using words, is the pet of Sri Krsna. They are often engaged in reciting pleasing verses to awaken the divine couple from Their sleep.

Male parrots are known as suka and female parrots as sari. While strolling through the autumn forest of Vrndavana, Sri Krsna, accompanied by the gopis, sat under a tree with ripe, nectarean fruits to listen to the quarrel of a pair of parrots.

The sukas said, “0 sarikas’. Go to another forest! We are dvijas and have studied Vedanta. If we eat fruits that were touched by women, we will fall from our caste. You are just maidservants, so go somewhere else. Being pleased with us, Sri Krsna/ the Lord of Vrndavana, has given us this forest. Now be off!”

The sarikas replied, “You sukas are envious of the true master of Vraja, Sri Radha. If you are true brahmanas, how can you neglect the statement of the Puranas, radhe vrnddvane vane? It is Radharani who is the Queen of Vrndavana, and as Her maidservants, we have as much right to be here as you.”

The sukas reply, “The srutis are considered more authoritative than the Puranas, and their conclusion is that this forest is harivana, the forest of Hari. Everyone else is aware of this, and this knowledge gives joy to the whole world. Now you all consider this yourself.”

The sarikas say, “This forest of Vrndavana is wonderful because it is related to the divine body of Radha and is Her bodily reflection. You are mistaken when you say that it is Sri Krsna’s forest. Your Sri Krsna, like all other cowherd boys, resembles a mahakola fruit, nice on the outside but crooked and dirty inside. Therefore Vrndavana, which excels the gardens of Vaikuntha, cannot possibly be related to Him.”

Becoming excited in defense of Sri Krsna and moving about on the branches, the sukas say, “0 sarikas\ You speak ill of our Sri Krsna, but it is the juice of the gopis that is hidden by a hard bark of unwillingness and full of bones of pride, just like a coconut. Our

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The Saintly Birds of Vraja

Govinda is devoid of any faulty covering. He is juicy inside and out, like a grape.”

Continuing their strong arguments, the sans continue, “Although your Lord Acyuta is juicy within. He is always covered by a thick bark of crookedness and impudence. Without a squeezer one cannot get any juice from fruit; similarly, Acyuta does not yield any rasa unless the gopis use the instrument of their mana, pique. Krsna is like a black sesame seed who will not give any juice without being hit by the gopis’ instrument of proud unwillingness. You should try to understand them in that way.”

Bobbing their heads up and down, the sukas said, “The gopis are just like Java flowers, bright on the outside but without any fragrance, while Sri Krsna is like a blue lotus-flower that looks beautiful and smells nice also.”

Their breasts swelling in pride, the sarikas said, “Our mistress, Sri Radha, is like a mafijistha flower, beautiful inside and out, but your Lord is like a crystal that reflects every color that shines on it, always attracted to newer and newer female company.”

Supporting their arguments through historical examples, the sukas say, “By the fire of Sri Krsna’s strength the worm-like demoness Putana was burned to ashes. Who can compete with Sri Krsna, the lifter of Govardhana Hill?”

The saris answer, “It was Lord Visnu who gave Sri Krsna His wonderful power, being pleased with Nanda Maharaja worship of Him. Who will praise the weakling Sri Krsna as the killer of Baka and Baki? Similarly, because Govardhana Hill was pleased with the food offered to him by the people of Vraja and lifted himself into the air, Sri Krsna has now been falsely praised as Govardhana-dhari for merely standing under him in pretense.”

As if purifying their assembly from hearing criticism of Hari, the sukas say, “May our Lord Krsna, who enchants the whole world, who destroys the patience of all women with His beauty, who stuns the goddess of play, who lifted Govardhana Hill as if it were a ball, who has innumerable qualities, who pleases all the people with His character, and whose fame is spread throughout the world, protect us!”

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Then the sarikas retort, singing the following verse:

sri radhikayah priyata surupata’^

su-silata nartana gana caturi ‘” gunali-sampat kavita ca rajate

jagan mano mohana itta mohim

‘With Her loveliness. Her exquisite bodily form. Her good behavior. Her expertise in dancing and singing, all Her fine qualities and poetic skill, Sri Radhika enchants the mind of world-enchanting Krsna. Who can be greater than She?”

The sukas retort, “Sri Krsna relishes Radha’s company as the bees relish the jasmine flower, and Radha relishes the bliss of serving Sri Krsna’s feet. Being mutually interdependent, who can say which of Them is greater?”

The sukas and saris became intoxicated with love for their master, Sri Krsna, and mistress, Sri Radha, and joyfully discussed Their glories among each other. In conclusion the sans said, “Radhika always prays for Sri Krsna’s company, but when She gets it, due to the fire of Her proud anger. She becomes as hot as the sun in June. Although She prays for Sri Krsna’s loving service, when She achieves His association in Vraja, She begins to lord it over Him. How amazing!”

Determined to have the last word, the sukas say, “Hari’s flute stuns the rivers, enchants the whole world, and makes all the ladies give up their chastity. Who can describe the glories of Sri Krsna’s flute? It makes the ladies’ love for other men fade, it showers their hearts with its nectarean sound, and it awakens everyone’s natural love for Sri Krsna.”

Sri Krsna and the gopis drank the nectar of those parrots’ clever words through the cups of their ears. To reward those birds for their kirtana, Lalita gave a whole field of ripe grapes to the sarikas, and Subala gave a whole garden of ripe pomegranates to the sukas. In this way, the wonderful pastimes of Vrndavana continue incessantly.

The saras are dark-colored cranes who mate for life and are the symbol of devoted love. If, by chance, Sri Krsna does not meet with Radha at the appointed hour, in Her anxiety of separation She

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praises the good fortune of the female cranes, whose beloved are always by their sides and remain faithful, without knowing another.

The peacocks have already been described as the devotional dancers of Vrndavana. Because of their great love of rain, they create a great symphony of bliss upon seeing the dark rain-clouds overhead. Although generally possessed of a dazzling multi­colored hue, white peacocks resembling the pets of Kamala may also be found strolling among the desire trees of Vraja.

There are other birds, like dhumyataka, datyuha, kikhi, and hari-taki to name a few, who are possessed of beautiful plumage and sing sweetly. Some are prominent at certain times of the year, and others are possessed of unique attributes in flying, swimming, singing, eating, and appearance. In this way, these birds contribute to the transcendental ambiance of Vrndavana and bring pleasure to Hari by their innumerable characteristics.

 

There are many explanations of the word amba, which intro­duces the speaker of the next verse. The word bata in “prayo batamba” is used in the sense of wonder, known as sambodhana. Un­der the influence of their intense bhava, one friend addresses another as “mother,” and both Visvanatha Cakravarti and Sri Jiva Gosvami concur that the gopis use this form of address as a consequence of their bewilderment. Sri Jiva says, “punar mugdha ucuh: In their continuing bewilderment, the gopis say…”

Sanatana Gosvami gives four alternatives to explain this form of greeting. First, he names three ecstatic impetuses by which the gopis call each other “mother.” These are: bewilderment due to being overwhelmed by love, known as prema-vaivasya; bewilder­ment of speech due to absorption, known as bhava-avista; and an expression of wonder called vismaya. The fourth meaning is the literal interpretation of the word, which indicates that a younger gopi^ is speaking with an elder.

Srila Prabhupada concurs with this last alternative, identifying

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the familial relationship, and states, “A younger gopi told her mother, ‘My dear mother, the birds, who are all looking at Krsna playing on His flute, are sitting very attentively on the branches and twigs of different trees. From their features, it appears that they have forgotten everything and are engaged only in hearing Krsna’s flute. This proves that they are not ordinary birds; they are great sages and devotees, and just to hear Krsna’s flute they have appeared in Vrndavana forest as birds.'”

There are many groups of gopis discussing the topic of the flute. Some speak to each other, while others speak to their elders. According to Sri Rupa Gosvami, there are 360 types of gopis based on their nature, marital status, moods, method of loving Krsna, submissiveness, and age. Kalavati has just entered the realm of adolescence known as bayah-sandhi, and gopis headed by Dhanya are in the prime of pubescence called navya-yauvana. These gopis have been betrothed to some vraja-vasis, but because their marriage ceremony has not yet been performed, they reside at home with their natural parents. It is these younger gopis who are speaking, addressing their superiors as “mother.”

The roofs of the vraja-vasis’ houses often serve as vantage points from which Sri Krsna’s departure from and entrance into Vraja are readily seen. Although such observers cannot approach Him, they shower flowers, sprinkle scented water, and cheer Him with words like “Jay a! Jay a!”

Standing on the rooftop, overcome by the influence of the flute, a young maiden spoke to. her mother in a voice full of feeling. Although accompanied by both her young friends and the elder ladies of the house, there was no impropriety in talking amongst each other, for everyone admired Sri Krsna’s flute-playing and made His darsana a daily ritualistic observance. In this mixed age group, the vatsalya-prema of the elder women dominated the attachment of the young gopis; thus, their shared discussion was quite befitting.

Dressed in clothing the color of fresh grass, decorated with golden ornaments and with her hair adorned with small flowers, that young gopi said:           .

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prayo batamba vihaga munayo vane ‘smin

krsneksitam tad-uditam hila-venu-gitam izruhya ye druma-bhujan rucira-pravdidn

srnvanti milita-drso vigatdnya-vdcah

“0 mother, in this forest all the birds have risen onto the beauti­ful branches of the trees to see Krsna. With closed eyes, they are simply listening in silence to the sweet vibrations of His flute, and they are not attracted by any other sound. Surely these birds are on the same level as great sages.” (Bhag. 10.21.14)

Another girl with rosy cheeks, her complexion like cream, exclaimed, “We have described the glories of the cows protected by Sri Krsna, but how can we comprehend the limits of good fortune achieved by the birds residing in the forest!”

All the ladies, young and old, turned her way. “Which birds are you referring to, dearest?” inquired the mistress of the house, caressing her daughter’s lovely face.

Pointing to the great forest of Vrndavana and its many trees, she replied, “Prayo batamba, almost all the birds, dear mother! With the exception of the peacocks, cuckoos, and parrots, who are devotees of Sri Krsna and familiar with the devotional arts of dancing and chanting, all the other birds seem like great munis.”

One of her friends took her elder’s hand, her eyes smiling in a most enchanting way, and said in a childish voice, “We have all seen the prema-nrtya of the peacocks who, with their performance, have glorified this planet up to Vaikuntha. There is certainly none

their equal.”

“Then where do you see these birds, pretty girls?” inquired another elder gopi, just arrived on a household visit and bearing a great desire to see Nanda-nandana leaving for the forest.

Pointing with excitement towards Vrndavana, Dhanya said, “Look at the trees, whose crooked branches are their innumerable hands. Just to see Sri Krsna and hear the sound of His flute, many birds have climbed high into those branches and, being very happy, they sit silently, their eyes closed tight. Just listen!”

Everyone there became attentive to the ensuing silence. Although at a great distance, by the influence of Yogamaya the

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The Saintly Birds of Vraja

gopis perceived Vrndavana forest as if it were just nearby. The sound of the cows and the village faded away, and the only sound that remained was the rustling of the leaves in the trees. The usual chatter of forest birds was replaced by a great stillness, which rolled across the meadows and splashed the rooftops of Nanda-goan.

Said an elderly lady as she strained her eyes, “I do not see any birds on any tree branch. 0 daughters of cowherds, what invisible thing are you observing with your youthful eyes?”

Laughing, some girls took the hand of their aunt and, pulling her to the edge of the rooftop, excitedly said, “Arye! Look at the twigs on the branches that are without flowers or fruits and are decorated with soft tender buds. It is there the birds sit, their eyes shut in meditation.”

Squinting to screen out the glare of the late morning sun, a friend of mother Yasoda, very expert in cooking tasty preparations for Krsna and Balarama, said, “Yes! Yes! Now I see them! The birds have truly climbed beyond the branches and are sitting motionless on the new sprouts as if in mystic anticipation. Daughters, what is it they desire?”

Paurnamasi, the all-knowing disciple of Narada Muni and the well-wisher of the inhabitants of Vraja, dressed in a snow-white sari, her face radiating with brahminical goodness, spoke. “Friends, these young girls are right. The colorful birds perched on the twigs are great sages who have come to hear the song of Krsna’s flute and see Him herd His cows through the forest. Today, perfected jndms like Sanaka and Sanat-kumara have become birds just to gain the darsana of Krsna and Balarama.”

Overwhelmed by such august association, their mouths agape, gopis young and old offered their pranamas to the birds and, turning towards each other, said, “It is true, these birds must be sages. Look, they have climbed out on the hands-like branches of the trees and, moving further onto their beautiful finger-like twigs, they are attentively hearing the song of the flute.”

Paurnamasi-devi continued, “It is well known that dtmdrdma sages like the Kumaras and Nava-Yogendras are nirvikdra, free of all transformation, for they are unattached to the world of fruitive

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prayo batamba vihaga munayo vane ‘smin

krsneksitam tad-uditam kala-venu-gitam aruhya ye druma-bhujan rucira-pravaldn

srnvanti milita-drso vigatanya-vacah

“0 mother, in this forest all the birds have risen onto the beauti­ful branches of the trees to see Krsna. With closed eyes, they are simply listening in silence to the sweet vibrations of His flute, and they are not attracted by any other sound. Surely these birds are on the same level as great sages.” (Bhag. 10.21.14)

Another girl with rosy cheeks, her complexion like cream, exclaimed, “We have described the glories of the cows protected by Sri Krsna, but how can we comprehend the limits of good fortune achieved by the birds residing in the forest!”

All the ladies, young and old, turned her way. “Which birds are you referring to, dearest?” inquired the mistress of the house, caressing her daughter’s lovely face.

Pointing to the great forest of Vrndavana and its many trees, she replied, “Prayo batamba, almost all the birds, dear mother! With the exception of the peacocks, cuckoos, and parrots, who are devotees of Sri Krsna and familiar with the devotional arts of dancing and chanting, all the other birds seem like great munis.”

One of her friends took her elder’s hand, her eyes smiling in a most enchanting way, and said in a childish voice, “We have all seen the prema-nrtya of the peacocks who, with their performance, have glorified this planet up to Vaikuntha. There is certainly none their equal.”

“Then where do you see these birds, pretty girls?” inquired another elder gopi, just arrived on a household visit and bearing a great desire to see Nanda-nandana leaving for the forest.

Pointing with excitement towards Vrndavana, Dhanya said, “Look at the trees, whose crooked branches are their innumerable hands. Just to see Sri Krsna and hear the sound of His flute, many birds have climbed high into those branches and, being very happy, they sit silently, their eyes closed tight. Just listen!”

Everyone there became attentive to the ensuing silence. Although at a great distance, by the influence of Yogamaya the

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The Saintly Birds of Vrnja

gopis perceived Vrndavana forest as if it were just nearby. The sound of the cows and the village faded away, and the only sound that remained was the rustling of the leaves in the trees. The usual chatter of forest birds was replaced by a great stillness, which rolled across the meadows and splashed the rooftops of Nanda-goan.

Said an elderly lady as she strained her eyes, “\ do not see any birds on any tree branch. 0 daughters of cowherds, what invisible thing are you observing with your youthful eyes?”

Laughing, some girls took the hand of their aunt and, pulling her to the edge of the rooftop, excitedly said, “Arye! Look at the twigs on the branches that are without flowers or fruits and are decorated with soft tender buds. It is there the birds sit, their eyes shut in meditation.”

Squinting to screen out the glare of the late morning sun, a friend of mother Yasoda, very expert in cooking tasty preparations for Krsna and Balarama, said, “Yes! Yes! Now I see them! The birds have truly climbed beyond the branches and are sitting motionless on the new sprouts as if in mystic anticipation. Daughters, what is it they desire?”

Paurnamasi, the all-knowing disciple of Narada Muni and the well-wisher of the inhabitants of Vraja, dressed in a snow-white sari, her face radiating with brahminical goodness, spoke. “Friends, these young girls are right. The colorful birds perched on the twigs are great sages who have come to hear the song of Krsna’s flute and see Him herd His cows through the forest. Today, perfected jndms like Sanaka and Sanat-kumara have become birds just to gain the darsana of Krsna and Balarama.”

Overwhelmed by such august association, their mouths agape, gopis young and old offered their pranamas to the birds and, turning towards each other, said, “It is true, these birds must be sages. Look, they have climbed out on the hands-like branches of the trees and, moving further onto their beautiful finger-like twigs, they are attentively hearing the song of the flute.”

Paurnamasi-devi continued, “It is well known that atmardma sages like the Kumaras and Nava-Yogendras are nirvikara, free of all transformation, for they are unattached to the world of fruitive

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activity. Having achieved such perfection, in the adopted form of birds they now exhibit bewilderment occasioned by the sweet nectar flowing from Govinda’s flute.”

Delighted at the renown of their beloved Mukunda, who awards liberation to the greatest mystics^’ the elderly ladies said, “Indeed, this is a wonderful day. In this forest almost all the birds are sages devoted to meditation, and being completely freed from passion and ignorance, they have climbed the branches just to see Sri Krsna.”

One of the young girls quickly added, “Either they want to see Sri Krsna or they want to be seen by Sri Krsna!”

Another young girl, her face sparkling with youth and happi­ness, said, “0 amba, are these birds great sages who have assumed such forms for the darsana of Sri Hari, or has the inestimable power of Vrndavana transformed its birds into great munis7

Paumamasi replies, “Priye, do not doubt the potency of this transcendental realm or the ability of those sages for whom mystic perfection is a mere consequence of their austerities. There is no doubt these birds have come from both categories. Whatever their origins, from their behavior it is clear that these birds are sages. Their muni-dharma, such as asana, dhyana, darsana, and so on, are clearly seen in their character; therefore. We should be careful not to slight them in any way.”

Speaking with great reverence to both Yogamaya and the birds, Dhanya said, “0 brahmani, please explain the muni-dharma so ex­pertly exhibited by these great sages now taking the form of birds.”

Smiling, Paumamasi said, “Look their way and try to under­stand my words as I explain the symptoms of muni-dharma manifest by the behavior of these wonderful birds.”

All ladies, young and old, turned toward the birds to witness the symptoms of their piety. Paurnamasi-devi said, “The birds have assumed their asana upon the long, broad branches of Vraja’s trees, who are themselves great mystic yogis. Their dhyana is meditation upon the daily pastimes of the Prince of Vrndavana who, being pleased with their austerities, grants them His darsana, the third stage of muni-dharma. In this great revelation of the form of the Lord, the birds become absorbed in sravana, which is hearing the

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enchanting song of the flute, for which they have practiced mama or silence, abandoning all other sounds than vibrating the words ‘Krsna! Krsna!’ Can there be any doubt of thesaintliness and high qualification of these birds?”

Amazed at the austere sadhana practiced by those birds and feeling great humility in their presence, the gopis spoke in unison:

“Having devoted themselves to muni-dharma, these birds are unquestionably great sages whose good fortune is the vision of Sri Krsna and the song of His flute. Because we are always desirous of such perfection, we too should live like them and, adopting the bodies of birds, take up residence in the branches of Vraja’s trees.”

Nandimukhi-devi, a brahmana disciple of Paumamasi, orna­mented with great affection for Sri Krsna, said, “0 cowherd women of Vraja, the glory of these bird-sages is not easy to understand, and thus their behavior is difficult to imitate. These birds are not ordinary munis. Their accomplishment in realizing the absolute truth is very exalted, and therefore they are in a very special category of their own.”

One gopi, whose young daughter stood by her side, mesmerized by the flute’s effect on the birds, asked, “What are the special quali­ties, laksana-visesa, of these extraordinary birds, Nandi? You are the beneficiary of the pure teachings of your renowned preceptor, who lives alone in her hut by the bank of the Yamuna. As it is the duty of brahmanas to enlighten others, help us prosper and progress toward life’s ultimate goal by recounting what you have heard of these birds’ special qualities.”

Nandimukhi bowed to Paumamasi, who blessed her with a smile. Without further ado, she raised her right hand in a jndna-mudra and said, “Look at these birds of many colors. Without doubt they are great sages who have come to Vrndavana to perfect their existence. They sit on the tree of Vedic knowledge, having achieved nistha or firm determination in their sadhana. They have renounced the lower branches, which are the fruitive activities of karma-kanda, and have climbed onto the small twigs, where they perform the higher practice of hearing Sri Krsna’s flute. Having realized Sri Krsna as the goal of all wisdom, they exhibit the primary character­istic of being veda-vit, or the true knowers of the Vedas.”

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Paumamasi glowed with pride at the eloquence of her disciple and, smiling, encouraged her to speak further. “The next qualifica­tion of the birds is their bhagavata-siddhi, or perfection in hearing the ripened fruit of all Vedic literature, Snmad-Bhdgavatam. Unlike those jnams who are attracted to the Upanisadic branches, these sages have selected the ultimate branch of the Vedas, which is the Bhdgavatam. If you inquire how this can be confirmed, I shall reply that taking up residence in Vrndavana and witnessing Sri Krsna’s go-raksya-lild is possible only for ardent students of Srimad-Bhdgavatam. Thus, I conclude that they have achieved bhagavata-siddhi.          .

“Let me now sing of the third perfection possessed by the dvifa-munis, the crowned emperor of all good qualifications known as krsna eka sa.ra.nam, exclusive dependence on Sri Krsna. Although Lord Visnu, Lord Indra, and Lord Brahma sing very sweetly and are expert in playing instruments, these sages are not attracted to them. Similarly, the songs of the devas, Gandharvas, and humans are liked by many, but these birds have realized the quintessence of musical achievement in the flute-playing of Sri Krsna and have no attraction to anything else. Their interest is exclusively in Sri Krsna and His venu-gita, and they have no interest in any other being, whether on earth, in Svarga, or in Vaikuntha.”

Yogamaya, Srimati Paurnamasi-devi, desired her disciple to continue chanting the glories of Sri Krsna and said, “0 my beloved, please explain which category of transcendentalists these munis in the form of birds belong to, and give evidence in support of your claim.”

Bowing her head slightly, Nandimukhi said, “According to sdstra there are three leading categories of jnanis. They are the brahmavddis, who aspire to enter into the brahmajyoti, the paramdtmdvddis, who meditate on the form of Lord Visnu, and the bhagavatvadis, who meditate upon the Supreme Lord. By the association of a pure devotee, both brahmavddis and paramdtmdvddis can enter into Vaikuntha and achieve the personal association of the Lord. In the verse beginning with dtmdrdmds ca munayah, Snmad-Bhdgavatam glorifies the variety of munis who take shelter of devotional service upon hearing of the transcendental qualities of

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Sri Krsna, abandoning all other forms of meditation.”

Although the gopis were simple village girls, untrained in the philosophy of the Vedas, they took great pleasure in hearing of the high qualification of Vraja’s birds, for it was in relationship to the pastimes of Hari. They asked further, “Which category of munis are the birds, Nandi?”

The brdhmam replied, “Just see how the birds sit with their eyes closed tight. It is clear from their behavior that they have achieved dtma-tattva-jndna, knowledge of the self, and are absorbed deep in samadhi. We get a clear hint of the level of their advancement by listening to the sounds they now emit. Listen carefully!”

Nandimukhi placed her forefinger near her lips and, with the movements of her dark eyes, concluded any verbal discussion. Craning her neck, she turned her ears in the direction of the seated birds, while the gopis looked on and all of Vrndavana fell under a spell of silent anticipation.

At a distance, invisible to both the gopis and birds, Sri Krsna became active in play and, taking the flute from His lips, tucked it into His belt, and concluded His musical performance. When the sound of the flute was no more, the birds, feeling separation from its transcendental vibration, began to chant His names in unison. They cried, “Krsna! Krsna! Krsna!” as tears of ecstasy rolled from their eyes down their beaks, and they trembled with ecstatic rapture at the sound of His holy names.

Without uttering a word, the gopis looked at one another in disbelief. While they had witnessed many uncommon occurrences in Vrndavana, the congregational chanting of the birds was truly wonderful. As the sweet vibration entered their hearts, they too joined the kirtana and softly repeated, “Krsna! Krsna!”, their voices melting with affection.

Standing on the tips of her toes and speaking very quietly, Nandimukhi continued, “If any of these birds were once interested in Brahman, that inclination is no more. The venu-gita is kala iti jagat-ksitam: it influences the consciousness of all beings and, tasting its song, the birds have now closed their eyes to completely renounce the pleasure of Brahman. Because they show no interest in speaking with each other and are mad with krsna-dnanda, we

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must consider that they are bhagavat-bhaktas. Like great Vedic scholars, these birds have understood the words of the Gtta: vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah,” and having taken shelter of Sri Krsna’s holy names, they have rejected all other branches of knowledge and dwell only in the realm of pure devotion.

“Sitting on the very tops of the trees, they listen to the very beau­tiful sound of the flute, and when Sri Krsna stops His playing and begins to talk to His friends, they chant, ‘0 Krsna! 0 Krsna!’ With their eyes closed, they are experiencing mahd-prema-sampatti; in fact, it appears they have fainted under the influence of their own ecstasy and are floating on the ocean of ananda. Considering these extraordinary symptoms, we can only conclude that these sages are all great devotees.”

One young girl, possessed of an intense attachment to Govinda since her infancy, said, “The statement praya indicates that ‘almost’ all the birds are great sages and simultaneously excludes certain birds from the muni-kula. Pray tell, who are they?”

Nandimukhi replied, “Although these birds are absorbed in meditation on Bhagavan, they are not vraja-bhaktas. Vraja-bhakti is the highest spiritual attainment glorified throughout the Vedas and can be achieved only by one who has perfected the devotional arts of singing and dancing. It is true that these birds chant the name of Sri Krsna while absorbed in trance; however, they are not kirtamyas and have no experience with dancing and chanting. The word praya refers to them, for they comprise the majority of birds in Vrndavana, but not all.

“Some birds, having surpassed the greatest munis, being decorated with the symptoms of unalloyed love and engaged in constant glorification of Sri Krsna, have gained admission into His unlimited pastimes. Everyone knows of the peacocks who always engage in dancing, though they do not sing very nicely, and the parrots and cuckoos who sing very melodiously although they cannot step as gracefully as the peacocks. These three birds are in a category of their own. They are not munis like most other birds, but they are great devotees by whose association the other birds will eventually know the glories of vraja-bhdva.”

Nandimukhi concluded her explanation of the saintly birds.

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“Having extolled the unique position of the peacocks, parrots, and cuckoos, we should avoid any offense to the sages. Although they have not achieved the topmost perfection, their achievement should not be minimized. After all, they have entered Vrndavana, and with their very eyes they behold the beautiful form of Govinda. Just see the trees! By the very touch of the muni-jana they experience great bliss. The many beautiful sprouts, rucira-pravala, appearing on their twigs are the sattvika-vikara, ecstatic transformation they undergo as a consequence of the birds’ divine touch. In this way, by such elevated association the trees also taste great ananda and shiver in happiness.”

Having completed her explanation, Nandimukhi touched the feet of her preceptor and took her seat among the assembly, silent. Fully absorbed in the wonder of the birds, the flute, and Sri Krsna, gopis, young and old, continued their katha late into the afternoon. The birds continued to sit atop the tree branches with the hope of hearing the flute song of Hari. To avoid any visual distraction they closed their eyes, curbing any inclination to fly, and fully controlling their natures, they meditated upon Sri Krsna and the magical vibration of His flute.

 

 

Sri Krsna’s flute was mindful of the devotion exhibited by the birds of Vrndavana. Being sat-cit-ananda rupata, the very form and substance of spiritual mellows, it took the initiative to please those sages by extending them its transcendental influence through a very, very beautiful song.

As Sri Krsna held the venu by His side, it began to play a song all on its own. Raising the flute before Him in amazement, Sri Krsna and His friends observed with wide-eyed astonishment its independent nature as it sang a beautiful melody, inspiring great ananda in the birds. The flute was not only the source of its song, but without help from any medium (like the air or wind), it was the messenger which delivered its song to the ears of the birds. Sri

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Krsna, the All-Attractive Person, became so enchanted by that extraordinary raga that He could not restrain Himself from its association and, manifesting His unlimited potencies. He entered into the flute and appeared through its holes in the form of another, even more inconceivable sound vibration. Srila Sanatana Gosvami says that this is the meaning of krsna-lksitam.

In a later chapter of the Bhagavatam, Sri Sukadeva Gosvami states that birds other than those sitting in the trees also experience the ecstasy of the flute. He says:

sarasi sarasa-hamsa-vihangas

cdru-gita-hrta-cetasa etya harim upasata te yata-citta

hanta milita-drso dhrta-maunah

“All the cranes and swans in the water are being enchanted by the melodious song of Krsna’s flute. They have approached and are worshipping the Supreme Personality of Godhead with full attention. Alas, they are closing their eyes and are becoming completely silent.” (Bhag. 10.35.11)

As the midday sun took a westerly course, the assembly of girls and ladies sat in the shade of a rooftop shelter, happily speaking the glories of Sri Krsna and the birds of Vrndavana. In time, the conversation turned to the many roles the birds played in serving Sri Krsna and His various incarnations.

Mukhara, the grandmother of Radharani, had joined that gathering at the conclusion of Nandimukhi’s siksa on the muni birds. Breathless from climbing the stairs and excited from a recent encounter with Jatila, she sat on an elevated platform next to Paurnamasi, recounting her recent experience.

Straightening her snow-white hair, Mukhara said, “Having just arrived from Javat, I feel I am in quite a fix.” Paurnamasi placed a comforting hand on her arm. “Just now Jatila, the ever-argumenta­tive incarnation of confusion, accosted me regarding the chastity of my beloved granddaughter, Radhika.”

At the mention of Radharani’s name, the younger girls became attentive to hear more. “While walking here I happened to meet her

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and that equally crooked daughter of hers called Kutila. As soon as she set her eyes on me, Jatila swooped upon me like a crow on juicy refuse.”

Continuing to pat her hand, Paurnamasi said, “There, there dear! Do not be so aggrieved.”

“Greeting her, I inquired about the welfare of her kin and cows,” continued Mukhara, “but she immediately turned on me, accusing my granddaughter of improper behavior with Krsna. Knowing Radhika to be pure and chaste and Sri Krsna always absorbed in childhood play, I rejected her complaint, at which she became even more incensed.

“She said, ‘Only the other day I saw Krsna wearing a necklace which was previously in the possession of my daughter-in-law. What obtuse explanation can you give for that fat one?’ I explained to her that Nanda Maharaja had many pearl necklaces in his treasury which resembled Radhika’s, all to no avail. • •

“Infuriated, she replied, ‘You cruel-faced Mukhara! By hearing your words my heart feels like it is burning in a fire!’

“Not able to contain myself further, I exploded, ‘You sinful Jatila, by hearing your words there is an aching in my head! You cannot give evidence that Krsna has acted improperly with Radharani, the daughter of my daughter, Kirtida. Neither can you prove that your daughter-in-law has been unchaste. You are just a foolish, impetuous witch.’

“At this time Sunanda Baba, the elder brother of the King, appeared and resolved the situation, sending us in different direc­tions. So now I am here, and my blood is boiling.”

The ladies pacified Mukhara, consoling her with sweet words’;

In conclusion, Nandimukhi said, “I cannot say anything about my elders like Jatila, but one can know a tree by its fruit. Similarly, the glories of Jatila-devi can be understood by understanding the qualities of her daughter, Kutila. Just recently I heard Lalita-devi giving a very clear summary judgment regarding Kutila-devi’s glories, which I shall relate to all of you.” As the ladies drew near Nandimukhi, quoting Lalita-sakhi, she said:

“My dear Kutila, daughter of Jatila, your breasts are as long as string beans—simply dry and long. Your nose is so gorgeous that

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it defies the beauty of the noses of frogs. And your eyes are more beautiful than the eyes of dogs. Your lips defy the flaming cinders of fire, and your abdomen is as beautiful as a big drum. Therefore, my dear beautiful Kutila, you are the most beautiful of all the cowherd girls of Vrndavana, and because of your extraordinary beauty, I think you must be beyond the attraction of the sweet

blowing of Krsna’s flute!”

Hearing such appropriate praise for the self-crowned princess of Javat, that assembly of gopis burst into a rhapsody of clapping and laughter. “Sadhu! Sadhu!” they all exclaimed. “Well said,. Lalite, well said!” When that din of jolly humor subsided,. Paurnamasi-devi, who is respected as the guru of the vraja-vasis, who is vastly learned in all scriptures, and who is as affectionate to Sri Krsna as His mother, Yasoda, began to narrate the adventures of Hari and His bird associates. The gopis sat respectfully at her feet, absorbed like the sages of Naimisa desirous of hearing the Bhd-gavatam from the renowned Suta Gosvami, the son of Roma-

harsana.

Yogamaya said, “Long before this age, when Treta-yuga over­lapped Dvapara and the piety of kings and brahmanas rivaled the gods of heaven, there lived the great King Rama, son of Dasaratha. He was like a God on earth, and His piety, chivalry, sense of justice, and learning had no limits. The great sage Valmiki has recorded His deeds in the great Ramayana, which you have all heard recited in your homes as children.” The ladies prepared to hear some wonderful narration from the lips of their preceptor.

“I have heard from my divine master, Devarsi Narada…” Paurnamasi paused to offer her pranamas, ornamented with a silent moment of respect, and then continued, “that Sri Ramacandra, the King of Ayodhya and emperor of this earth, was none other than our beloved Nanda-nandana in an earlier life. As He now tends to His duties of herding cows, in the past He was devoted to the brahmanas and loved His subjects as His own children.”

Hearing that Sri Krsna was none other than Sri Ramacandra, a mixed response of astonishment and disbelief appeared in that assembly. Since Faurnamasi was their senior and a disciple of Narada, the gopis could neither ridicule her statement nor doubt

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her words. However, the tranquil and saintly qualities of Lord Rama, known to all the inhabitants of this world, was difficult to compare to the frivolous and unpredictable behavior of Gopala.

“While exiled in the forest, Sita, Rama, and Laksmana made a truce with the great vulture Jatayu, who became the personal guard of the princess,” continued Paurnamasi. “Jatayu was old, learned, and, most of all, devoted to the service of Sri Rama. Day and night he would sit in a great banyan tree in Citrakut forest, chanting “Rama, Rama! Rama, Rama!” in a low voice resembling the rolling of thunder. He was just like the birds of Vrndavana, although his service excelled the greatest of great men.”

The story of the Ramayana was common knowledge to the ladies of Vrndavana. They heard recitals from accomplished brahmanas about the heroic exploits of King Rama, sang songs in praise of Sita and her consort, observed festival days like Dipavali and Dusera, and always glorified the chastity of Sita-devi as the ideal woman and perfect wife. Hearing this lila-katha again from the lips of Paurnamasi-devi, they heard the story of Sita’s abduction at Ravana’s hands as if for the first time. In fear of the great Raksasa, the younger girls huddled in the shelter of their mothers’ arms and listened, transfixed, absorbed in the devotional qualities of Jatayu.

Paurnamasi spoke: “When the magician Marici assumed the form of a mystical golden deer, both Rama and Laksmana were caught in his intrigue and left the jewel among chaste ladies, Sita-devi, unguarded in the midst of a Raksasa-infested forest. Seeing her guardians at a distant place, the ten-headed king of Lanka appeared in the guise of a brahmana and, overcome with lust for the wife of another, abducted the princess of Mithila and forcibly carried her off.

“Flying in a chariot drawn by magical mules and forcibly hold­ing the mother of the universe, Ravana embraced his own doom in the form of Janaki, having now transgressed all codes of morality. Brave Jatayu had been a witness to everything from his perch in a nearby tree, and when Ravana took to the skies he had the opportunity to enforce the codes of dharma and fulfill His pledge to Sri Rama.

“With the name of Rama on his tongue, the great king of

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vultures, the younger brother of Sampati, rose into the air and confronted the invincible demon, giving many scriptural argu­ments to gain the release of Sita-devi. When Ravana simply laughed in scorn and continued, undeterred, to the south, Jatayu thought, ‘Although I am the unconquerable master of the skies, having gained the patronage of Garuda, still my strength is like a piece of straw in comparison to this Raksasa, who is proud, arrogant, and infested by lust. In open combat I can do nothing to stop him, as much as a fly cannot distract a maddened elephant. Still, my heart breaks to see beautiful Sita touched by anyone but Sri Rama, my eyes are scorched by such a sight, and my ears suffer to hear her pitiable cry. How can any noble being stand by while such gross injustice takes place?’

“As Jatayu flew above Ravana’s chariot, Sita held her arms out to him and cried, ‘0 Jatayu, my dear friend and protector, please save me from this horrible demon who desires to separate me from my very life, my beloved husband Rama.’

‘ “Unable to tolerate Sita’s plaintive cry, Jatayu, who knew that confronting the demon meant entering the jaws of death, and considered no gain superior to dying in the service of Rama and no ignominy greater than neglecting his word of honor, attacked Ravana like lightning flashing among clouds.

“Jatayu fought a noble battle with his formidable opponent, scratching him with his claws, beating him with his wings, and tearing at him with his beak. Despite all effort, he was unable to divert Ravana from his sinful course, and in the ferocious fight, mortally wounded, his wings severed from his body, he plummeted to the ground like a mountain felled by King Indra. Knowing in advance that his death was imminent, Jatayu happily gave his life for Sita-devi, for devotional service to the Lord is absolute and should be executed without attachment to success or failure. Although a bird, Jatayu is the great exemplar of selfless devotion, and we should always treasure his glorious service in our hearts.”

The gopis cried a torrent of tears upon hearing of Jatayu’s devotion to Rama, their faces flushed out of affection. When Paumamasi narrated the details of Jatayu’s death, how the name of

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The Saintly Birds of Vraja.

Rama decorated His tongue and how his head was tenderly held in the arms of his Lord, many gopis began to sob aloud. When she spoke of his funeral ceremony, personally executed by Ramacandra, who lamented for the departure of His devotee, their pain became intolerable. Overcome by the Lord’s bhakta-vatsalya, many fainted away, while others became stunned.

Inundated by the gopis’ ecstatic love, Paumamasi could speak no more. Her crystal tears flowed down her beautiful face and mingled with the rivulets of prema from the gopis’ eyes. That combined stream of liquid love flowed from the palace rooftop to the garden below, where it was absorbed by the soil of Vraja, that inconceivably divine land whose opulence is the affection of its inhabitants for Sri Krsna and whose happiness is bestowing that love upon those who follow the path of the vraja-vasis.

While wandering with His cows and friends, Sri Krsna, impelled by the deep ecstasy of the gopis, remembered the service rendered by Jatayu in days gone by. His eyes swelling with tears, He envisaged the birds of Vraja as Jatayu’s representatives and, raising His flute to His lips. He blew into it some inconceivably sweet notes, caressing their hearts as they sat atop the trees. To further show His gratitude for Jatayu’s selfless love, Sri Krsna then bestowed upon them the ultimate perfection of life and endowed all the birds with the boon of unalloyed love. As they sat like sages, meditating with their eyes closed, each and every bird beheld the form of Syamasundara appearing before them, smiling and radi­ant, revealing their sthayl-bhava, loving mood, and siddha-deha, eter­nal form for service.

Sri Krsna’s act of causeless mercy upon the birds of Vraja was impelled by the well-wishes of the gopis. When the forest of Vrndavana, along with all its other inhabitants, witnessed His benevolence, everyone and everything became hushed in awe. Rejoicing in the good fortune of the birds, all things, moving or unmoving, observed a moment of silence, and the only sound that remained was the jewel-like chanting of the birds as they embraced Sri Krsna within their hearts and sweetly sang, “Oh, Krsna! Oh, Krsna! Oh, Krsna!”

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The many kufijas of Vrndavana are the secret places of Radha-Krsna’s confidential pastimes. Some are in the form of a lotus with eight, sixteen, or even 108 petals, and others are of varying geomet­ric shapes with multi-storied towers. All these pastime groves are varied manifestations of Vrndavana’s love for its charming Prince Regent, in whose absence they are cleansed and maintained by Vrnda-devi’s numerous servants. To mitigate their feelings of separation and to recall the pastimes of Sri Krsna, the kunjas also serve as a meeting place for the many birds of Vrndavana who, with their sweet voices, engage in endless hari-katha.

The western bank of the blackish Yamuna is decorated with a narrow forest path, with the river on one side and the forest of Vrndavana on the other. Not distant from Vamsivata, where Sri Krsna plays His flute in the dead of night, is one very delightful kunja that is surrounded by many tamala trees, embraced by fragrant madhavi vines, and equipped with all the paraphernalia for Sri Krsna’s happiness. One day, many famous parrots of Vraja gathered in the branches of that kunja and discussed the pastimes they had witnessed in that very same forest. Their chatter sounded like the esoteric poetry of the Vedas, their movements resembled the dancing of Apsaras, and their love cascaded like waves of the Yamuna.

Vicaksana, a pet of Sri Krsna and a very experienced parrot in the service of his master said, “Of the many services rendered to the Prince of Vraja, delivering messages is the most exciting.” The parrots and sarikas tottered slightly, found comfortable positions and, with great respect, they trilled, “Oh, brother, please do tell us of your adventures.”

Vicaksana continued, “You all know Bhaguri Muni, the chief priest of Vraja, the personification of the Vedas and the most affectionate of brahmanas.” All the birds made gestures of respect by bowing their heads or flapping their wings. “On the day he was

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The Saintly Birds of Vraja

 

commissioned by the King of Vraja to perform a yajna, Sri Krsna planned to waylay the gopis as they brought ghee for the pouring of oblations. To please his friend, Subala planned to erect a toll station and tax the gopis for their ghee, beauty, and youth. Sri Krsna, being very happy with the proposal, dressed His friends as customs officers and marched forward with a determination to levy a toll on all commuters.”

The female parrot Subha flapped her wings and said, “How un­fair! Govinda is always discriminating against the innocent gopis.”

Disturbed by this intrusion, Vicaksana’s head bobbed between his feet thrice before he continued. “The final challenge was to find by which route the gopis would come; would they cross Manasa-Ganga by boat, take the path at the foot of Govardhana, or walk the outer perimeter road through Naradavana? To gain information of the sakhis’ whereabouts, Sri Krsna turned to me as I sat on His right shoulder, and said:

“‘Priya, I have no shelter other than you. I am dependent on your help in this perplexing situation. Please discover where these devious gopis are roaming, and inform Me by which route they in­tend to reach Aniyor village. It is My duty to collect taxes on behalf of the King and, suspecting such a tariff, these miserly cowherd girls may try to pass unnoticed. By knowing their access, we will construct a tollbooth and collect tax on their wealth of ghee, jew­elry, and youthful splendor. Go now! Save the honor of the gopas, for it would be a great embarrassment to be outwitted by simple vil­lage girls.’

“I lovingly pecked Govinda’s bejeweled kundala and said, ‘Tasthu, so be it/’ and flew north in the direction of Radha-kunda. You all know how beautiful Govardhana Hill looks from the air, its many colored stones, turquoise waterfalls, green meadows, and all-knowing trees enhancing its beautiful peacock-like form. It is truly a special wonder to behold!

“Locating the gopi army of Sri Radha is no more difficult than finding the all-effulgent sun, for their golden complexions illumi­nate everything in their proximity. However, I knew that if Suksmadhi, who is never far from Radhika, recognized me, she would inform the gopis to change course and foil Sri Krsna’s clever

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plans. Then there were Sudevi’s spies, wandering in disguise through the forest, the all-knowing vana-devis in charge of Vraja’s birds, and many curious sarika students of Visakha, all informants seeking to serve their sakhis. With such formidable adversaries, I had to take extra precautions.”

“0 you devious creature, always a source of harassment and worry for my mistress!” said Suksmadhi, her head rotating in one direction and then another.

Taking little notice of her, Vicaksana concluded, “Despite Her array of spies, messengers, and informants, becoming invisible to ordinary vision, I was able to discover Radhika on the inner path along Govardhana Hill. Bringing this good news to my master, 1 earned a golden plate full of pomegranate seeds, and at Dana-ghati I beheld a charming exchange between the fair-formed gopis and the cloud-blue Sri Hari. Even now, their footprints remain imbed­ded in the stones of Giriraja.” Sighing deeply, Vicaksana concluded his narration and, scurrying sideways to the side of Suka, buried his beak in his feathers as tears flowed from his eyes in ecstasy.

Subha and Suksmadhi said, “We find no greater happiness than the vision of the Divine Couple resting in this kunja in the early morning, exhausted from the labor of dancing the rasa under the canopy of a moonlit night.

“Why it is that Vrnda-devi employs the roosters to wake up Radha and Krsna, we do not know! We have seen them Crane their necks, flap their wings, and produce such a frightening sound! When Sri Radhika is awakened by this obnoxious intrusion. She says, ‘0 roosters, quickly go and coo in hell! Why are you cooing here?’

“To atone for the indignity of the roosters, we hop to a low branch near Their sleeping place and, addressing Sri Radha, we say, ‘Glory to You, our beautiful Queen, the beauty of whose face is desired by the goddess of fortune and all aristocratic ladies of this world. Glory to You! You have become intoxicated from drinking the nectar of Your rasa dancing, and now You continue to sleep? Because this is not proper at this time of the morning, therefore we are awakening You.’

“When Sri Krsna and Sri Radha lovingly glance upon us with

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Their sleep-laden lotus eyes, we become more happy than tasting a field full of grapes, and when They cast a tender smile of acknowl­edgment our way—well, what can we say?” At this, the sdrikas became silent and, remembering their master’s kindness, tears dripped from their eyes, falling to the leaves at their claws.

Suka flapped his wings to get the attention of the others who, being carried away by the bhava of hari-katha, were all very anxious to speak. Although their chatter reached a frantic pitch, he calmed his green associates and said, “Not long ago, while flying over the Yamuna for a long distance, I seemed to enter another part of Vrndavana, where the mood of madhurya became dominated by audarya, the homes of the gopas became the residence of brahmanas, and where blackish Sri Krsna became a golden Gaura.”

Hearing of the marvel of such a place caught the attention of those birds and, crowding around Suka, they asked him, “Dear friend, tell us more! Tell us more!” The birds on the higher branches hopped down to be with the favorite of Sri, and that entire branch bowed under the weight of so many parrots.

“On the bank of the Alakananda-Ganga, the elder sister of our Yamuna, in a forest of the name Godruma, which is no different than the forests of Nanda-grama, I saw Sri Krsna dressed as a brahmana, with the complexion and emotions of Sri Radha, and accompanied by many male friends who seemed to be the gopas and gopis of Vraja.

“While enjoying the beauty of the woodlands which resembled our very own Vrndavana forest. He chanted the many names of Sri Krsna, which in truth were His own names, and tasted them as Radhika enjoys chanting the names of Her beloved.

“I could understand that this Gaura was my Sri Krsna, but in His typically tricky way. He had disguised Himself for purposes probably best known only to Him. Being enchanted by His form, His name surged forth from my heart, and my tongue automati­cally began to chant, ‘Gaura, Gaura, Gaura!’ as I experienced the bliss one tastes by singing the names of Radha Krsna.

“When He saw me perched on a tree. He glanced at me with remembrance and extended His golden hand my way.” As the parrots listened to this wondrous story, their mouths were agape,

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their small tongues stood erect, and even the leaves listened atten­tively to this never-before-heard tale. “Sitting on His index finger and feeling a current of bhdva from His touch, I simply said, ‘Gaura, Gaura, Gaura!’ and sat mesmerized by His beauty.” Hear­ing this wonderful sound vibration, the other birds began to repeat the words “Gaura/ Gaura, Gaura!” and shivered in ecstasy, tears flowing from their eyes.

“Looking at me askew with those lotus eyes I know so well. He said with a voice like thunder, ‘Parrot, this is Vrndavana and here the presiding Deity is Sri Krsna; therefore, always glorify His name and in that way you will achieve all perfection. Always say ‘Krsna, Krsna, Krsna’ and forsake any other sound!’ What could I do? I was under the influence of my own bhava and, although I did not want to disobey His order, I could only repeat the same names, ‘Gaura, Gaura, Gaura!’, under the magical influence of His beauty and touch.

“With a camphor-like smile on His bimbo-colored lips. He said once again, ‘0 son of Vyasa, why do you not chant the nectarean name of the son of Maharaja Nanda?’ Being impelled to speak, I replied, ‘0 king of brahmanas, I have come to this place which is identical to my own home and yet appears to be different. Here, Vrndavana has become Navadvipa, and Sri Krsna has taken the form of Gaura. Therefore, singing the name of Gaura is equivalent to chanting the name of Sri Krsna, and since this is the command of my heart, my tongue can do nothing else.’ And once again I cried out, ‘Gaura, Gaura, Gaura!’

“As I said this, Gaura-Krsna furrowed His brows playfully and, waving His hand, tossed me far away, beyond the borders of Navadvipa and once again back to Vraja-mandala. Oh, friends, if you could just see that beautiful form of Gaura, who is Syama-sundara inside and Sri Radhika outside, I think you would agree ..that He is the supreme form of mercy and love.”

When that wise and devoted assembly of parrots heard the .words of Sri Suka, they were speechless, and their hearts yearned to hear about this golden form of Sri Krsna. Although they had no doubt in the words of Suka, since they had not experienced such a vision, their minds were infused with wonder. Then Daksa stepped

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forward and narrated what he had heard in Nidhuvana one morning, as Sri Radhika awoke from an extraordinary dream.

“After gently awakening Her beloved, overtaken by wonder, Sri Radhika narrated Her dream, in which She saw a golden youth dancing by the bank of a great river in the same way the gopis dance by the Yamuna. He was accompanied by many devotees playing mrdangas and karatalas, as is done in Vraja on festive occasions or during the maha-rdsa. While drowning the universe in the ocean of ecstatic love. He would shed a great torrent of tears and sometimes cry aloud, ‘Krsna! Krsna!’ mourning in great lamentation. At other times He would raise His arms to the sky and say, ‘0 Radha! Radha! Alas! Alas! Where are You?’ falling on the ground and losing consciousness.

“Sri Radha was puzzled whether the youth of Her dreams was Sri Krsna, feeling separation from Her with the words ‘Radhe! Radhe!’ or whether it was She in ecstasy, calling out His names, ‘Krsna! Krsna!’ To set Her heart at ease, Govinda smiled very sweetly and, holding Her hand in His, raised His Kaustubha jewel before Her and manifest the form of Gauranga within His divine gemstone.”

“Sri Radhika could see the same figure of concentrated bliss, the same scenery resembling Vraja, and the same associates of Gaura that She had envisioned in Her dream. At that time. She under­stood the form of Gauranga was both Sri Krsna and Herself, His associates were Their own sakhis and sakhas, and His sankirtana was non-different than Their rasa-lila. Gazing within the Kaustu­bha gem, which had illuminated the darkness of the kunja, Radhika marveled over and over at the beauty and bhava of Gauranga. She became lost in the mystery of His appearance, and for a long time She discoursed with Syamasundara about Their Gaura form and how He would save the most fallen in the age of Kali.”

Hearing this wonderful story from Daksa, who was himself barely able to complete its narration due to ecstasy, the parrots were amazed at hearing of the form and pastimes of Radha and Krsna appearing in this crucible of mercy called Gauranga. Under the influence of His bhava they were unable to move, talk, or fly,

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‘ and thus they remained where they sat, chanting the holy names of Radha, Krsna, and Gaura deep into the night, after all else in Vraja had taken shelter of darkness.

 

This concludes the ninth chapter of The Song of the Flute, by a very insignificant disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, which described a conversation full of wonder between some young gopis and their elders glorifying the majority of Vraja’s birds, who are dtmdrama-munis and have come to Vrndavana forest to achieve perfection, for which they have renounced the lower branches of karma-kanda and have risen to the higher branches which are the Upanisads, and there, perched on leafless twigs, they have achieved bhagavat-siddhi by hearing the vibration of the flute and then, rejecting all other shelter than Sri Krsna, have risen to the status of bhagavat-bhaktas, continuing to remain on those branches with a hope of seeing Sri Krsna or, conversely, being seen by Him, and closing their eyes in samadhi, they constantly sing the names of Krsna, by which they are overcome with bliss and cause sprouts of ecstasy to appear on the twigs of the branches, and in this way, by their sadhana and preaching, they pleased the flute, which began to sing of its own accord, to Sri Krsna’s amazement, and also inspired Him to enter into its holes and create a special vibration, which is known as “krsna-iksitam,” and invoked the much sought after vraja-bhdva in those muni birds, which is always possessed by the peacocks, cuckoos, and parrots, who know how to dance and sing in ecstasy and so are the guru of all saintly birds of Vraja.

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