dåñövätape vraja-paçün saha räma-gopaiù
saïcärayantam anu veëum udérayantam
prema-pravåddha uditaù kusumävalébhiù
sakhyur vyadhät sva-vapuñämbuda ätapatram
In the company of Balaräma and the cowherd boys, Lord Kåñëa is continually vibrating His flute as He herds all the animals of Vraja, even under the full heat of the summer sun. Seeing this, the cloud in the sky has expanded himself out of love. He is rising high and constructing out of his own body, with its multitude of flower-like droplets of water, an umbrella for the sake of his friend. (SB 10.21.16)
Krsna’s Friend the Cloud
Like the exquisite bodily hue of the Prince of Vraja, the clouds of Vrndavana are a deep blackish blue and very pleasing to look at. During the rainy season they take special pleasure in reminding all the inhabitants of Vrndavana of the beloved son of Nanda Maharaja by covering the sky with His complexion, showering down a nectarean rain of mercy, and manifesting many peacock feather-like rainbows.
From their vantage point the clouds also gain a spectacular vision of Sri Krsna’s pastimes, which are shared amongst each other, the cakravakas, and the covered sun. The low rumbling sound heard in the evenings during the month of Sravana are the happy discussion of their recent vision of Govinda.
One cloudy evening the sun set in disappointment at being screened from the view of Sri Krsna’s pastimes. To encourage his rising the following morning, some magnanimous clouds narrated a lila recently seen on the banks of the Yamuna River. A special cloud, which shared many of the characteristics of Syamasundara, began the krsna-katha that impelled the moon to rise early and secure a place in that august assembly. The peacocks, who were avid admirers of the deep resonance of the cloud’s voice, heard the following being said: “Nanda Maharaja had such great love for Sri Krsna that a moment’s separation from his baby son caused quivering in his body and torrents of tears in his eyes. While herding the cows he would hold his infant in his arms and, gazing into His beautiful lotus face, he would be overwhelmed with joy.”
Upon hearing this description of parental love, the clouds billowed in happiness and made many rumbling sounds. This inspired the peacocks to cry to the twilight and the impatient sun to explode in the narrow space between the clouds and the horizon.
“One day the king of cowherds visited Bhandiravana forest, which is dear to the yogis and whose darsana saves one from the cycle of repeated birth and death. Walking by the shore of the Yamuna, Nanda Maharaja allowed his cows to graze on the luscious grass as he delighted in showing Krsna the moving
creatures of the forest.
“At that time Sri Krsna, who, although playing the role of a helpless infant was the self-sufficient, omniscient controller of all, ordered many ominous dark clouds laden with wind and rain to fill the sky. Strong winds humbled the tamala and kadamba trees and spread a great carpet of ripe and unripe fruit everywhere. When a great darkness descended, blinding the cows, forest creatures, and Maharaja Nanda, the frightened infant Krsna began to cry in the arms of His father.
“Nanda Maharaja became afraid for the welfare of his son and, being far from the shelter of his village and servants, he simply prayed to the Supreme Lord Narayana for protection. Immediately a golden effulgence covered him from all directions, and the King of Gokula saw Sri Radhika in Her Kisori form, dressed in blue garments, decorated with many ornaments, and defeating the beauty of many goddesses of fortune, approaching him.
“Bowing before the supreme energy of the Lord, Nanda Maharaja said with folded hands, ‘0, goddess. You are the first beloved of Lord Hari, who has now blessed my family by appearing as my son. I take shelter of You. Please protect me!’ Smiling charmingly, Sri Radha stretched out Her arms and took baby Krsna from Nanda, who continued, ‘0 Devi, please take Your Lord from my arms, for He has become frightened by the clouds, the wind,
Krsna’s Friend the Cloud
and the thunder. While I herd the cows back to my village, I request You, please take my son home to His mother so that He may no longer fear this dreadful situation.’
“Saying, ‘So be it!’ Radhika took the baby from Nanda’s arms and, holding Him affectionately to Her breast, started on the path through Bhandiravana forest back to Gokula. In a forest grove protected from the elements, filled with the sweetness of spring and decorated with scented garlands, flags, and festoons, baby Krsna became a wonderful Kisora, splendid as a dark cloud, dressed in yellow garments, holding a flute, and more enchanting than a host ofKamadevas.
“Admiring each other’s enchanting features with sidelong glances and concealing smiles, Kisora-Kisori stood in that grove like a newly-formed cloud and its first flash of lightning. Then Lord Brahma, the leader of the demigods, appeared from the sky riding his swan carrier and, bowing before Lord Krsna, spoke:
‘Dear Krsnacandra, who are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, dear Radha, who are His eternal consort, I take shelter of Your lotus feet. You are appearing in this world to exhibit Your eternal pastimes, and I desire to perform Your marriage ceremony so that ignorant people, misunderstanding Your conjugal love, will not commit offenses and bring ruination upon themselves.’
“Smiling, lotus-eyed Sri Krsna took His beloved by the arm and went to a wedding pavilion decorated with kusa grass, waterpots, and many other things prepared by Lord Brahma. Sitting on a beautiful throne, Radha-Krsna shone like a dark cloud and lightning while conversing sweetly with each other and the creator.
“In the presence of many demigods and forest creatures, Brahma ignited the sacred fire and performed the wedding ceremony of the divine couple. At its conclusion, he requested that They circumambulate the fire and bow down while he chanted sacred mantras.
“Radhika was very timid in the presence of such august personalities as She placed Her lotus hand on Sri Hari’s chest and Sri Krsna happily lay His hand on Sri Radhika’s back. With Her downcast eyes emanating a blue radiance. She placed a lotus garland filled with humming bees about Sri Krsna’s conch-like
neck. In the same way, Sri Krsna playfully placed another garland upon His bride’s shoulder, and then once again They bowed before the sacred fire, which was cheerful to be purified by Their presence.
“Like a father gives away his dear daughter. Lord Brahma, who in Sri Radha had exhausted his creative powers to fashion a match suitable for Sri Krsna, gave Her away, placing Her hand in His. At this, the demigods showered flowers, their wives danced, the Gandharvas sang, and the forest creatures offered glances laden with love.
“Again and again the demigods sounded many musical instruments and called out ‘Jaya! Jaya!’ making an auspicious sound that mixed with the rolling of thunder. Then Radha and Krsna blessed Brahma with devotion and placed Their lotus feet on his heads. Lord Brahma’s innermost desires having been fulfilled, he mounted his carrier and, accompanied by the demigods and their wives, left that place. Radha and Krsna remained alone with the happy forest animals, who reluctantly returned to their own homes, impelled by the will of Yogamaya.
“After eating many kinds of foodstuffs prepared by Sri Radha, Syamasundara walked with His new bride through the beautiful forest, gazing at the Yamuna, the flowering vines, and the magnificent trees bowing before Them. Playing hide and seek among the groves, Radhika and Madhava pleased each other by Their sweetness, kindness, and mutual love. When They reached a very secluded grove. They performed the rasa dance as the thundering clouds kept time to the ‘tap-tap’ of Their lotus feet and the ‘jhini-jhini’ of Their ankle bells.
“Sri Krsna decorated His beloved with many flowers, beautiful jewels, and pictures drawn in minerals. When Sri Radha desired to adorn Him in the same way, Govinda abandoned His teen-age form and again became an infant. Crawling on the ground and crying as before, Sri Krsna was seen by a bewildered Radha who began to cry, saying, ‘0 My beloved, why do You show this illusion to Me now? Where have You gone? Where have You gone?’
“As a despondent Radha wept, a voice from the sky somewhere above us said, ‘0 dearly beloved, do not lament, for in time all Your desires will be fulfilled.’ Hearing this, Sri Radha composed Herself
Krsna’s Friend the Cloud
and, taking the baby in Her arms, quickly returned to the home of Vraja’s queen. What happened when She entered the palace of Nanda we did not see; however a cataka bird informed us that Sri Radha, in the guise of Lord Narayana’s internal potency, handed the child to Yasoda and said, ‘Your husband gave Me your fearful son on the path which leads to your village. I entrust Him to your care, for He cried in fear of the darkness and the clouds.’
“Mother Yasoda praised Sri Radha, who returned to Her own home and took an infant form in the crib of Vrsabhanu’s palace. Under the influence of Yogamaya She lost remembrance of all that had happened and, exhausted, fell asleep.”
When the peacocks heard this wonderful story from the clouds, they responded by raising their beaks to the sky and crying in their customary fashion. While continuing to sing, they danced exuberantly, glorifying the marriage ceremony of Radha and Krsna. The sound of their singing became so tumultuous that both Yasoda-devi in Gokula and Kirtida-devi in Raval entered the bedrooms of their babies to ensure that their children slept undisturbed. When they leaned over them, melting with motherly affection, the queens saw beautiful smiles on their children’s faces and, comforted by Their serenity, returned to their own duties. Undisturbed by the kirtana of the peacocks, sleeping in different parts of Vrndavana, baby Radha and baby Krsna dreamt of Their marriage ceremony in great transcendental happiness.
Not far from Imlitala-ghata, in a secluded asrama on the bank of the Yamuna River, stands the serene hut of Raghunatha dasa Brahmacari. Surrounded by many kadamba trees, creepers, and flowers, this abode is the very emblem of Vrndavana’s welcome for those aspiring transcendentalists whose ambition is the eternal service of Radha-Krsna. The sound of the Yamuna combined with the singing of the birds and rustling of the trees is the assurance of success in the chanting of the holy names of Sri Krsna. Both
humans and animals alike make arrangements to facilitate the saints of Vrndavana, who are the bejeweled decorations on the golden necklace of this enchanted land.
Raghunatha dasa Brahmacari is the disciple of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, the acarya and eminent leader of the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya. Under the order of his divine master, he has taken up residence on the bank of the Yamuna and regularly studies the books of the Gosvamis while chanting two laks of hari-nama. At the conclusion of the day, having completed his daily sadhana, he does madhukan at five houses, accepting whatever is given to him. He then respects three rhoties as his own allotted quota, and if there is any excess, he distributes that to other bhaktas or to the cows of Vrndavana.
Extremely renounced and self-controlled, he is pure in his habits and controlled in his mind, and his speech is always pleasing to everyone. By his sincere efforts in devotional service he has endeared himself to his spiritual master and all the Vaisnavas of Vrndavana, most notably the eminent scholar and follower of his Gurudeva, Govinda Vidyaratna.
One day, at the conclusion of the rainy season, towards the beginning of the 17th century Sakabda, Raghunatha dasa went to visit Sri Govinda Vidyaratna, who was then residing near the samadhi of Lokanatha Gosvami in the very near proximity of his own asrama. Having become very old, Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti, who now lived at Radha-kunda, had instructed his dear disciple to take siksa from Sri Govinda, who was not only highly learned in the matter of Vaisnava sastra but was a fully realized maha-bhagavata.
Dressed in a simple lunghi and with a torn quilt around his neck, Raghunatha dasa approached Sri Govinda/ who was seated beneath a large bakula tree, busily engaged in writing. Surrounded by many manuscripts tied in cloth and fully absorbed in his work, the great Vidyaratna was unaware of the young saint who lay prostrate before him, offering sweet words of praise and devotion. When one of his own students, who was the very emblem of guru-nistha, quietly informed Sri Govinda of his guest’s arrival, he carefully placed his work to the side. Wrapping his manuscripts in
Krsna’s Friend the Cloud
a silk cloth, he rose to his feet and embraced Raghunatha dasa with the affection a father shows his most beloved son. Sitting together in a sanctified area, protected from the glare of the afternoon sun and cooled by breezes scented with blooming flowers, those great devotees exchanged many sweet words full of love and wisdom.
After some time, his eyes full of tears, Raghunatha dasa asked a question with great humility of his beloved siksa-guru. “Dear Gurudeva, I have one question to put to you regarding the nature of Sri Krsna’s pastimes. I would be greatly indebted if you could make me understand the proper siddhanta in this regard.”
Aware that inquiries from this student were never foolish or frivolous, Sri Govinda patiently addressed him with words full of love and compassion. “Our common guide and well-wisher is Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, who has petitioned me to guide you in your sincere effort to achieve the Lord’s eternal service. When you request something of me, I take it that my beloved Gurudeva is speaking. Now, without fear, please tell me what is on your mind, and how it is I may serve you.”
Raghunatha dasa, overwhelmed with the kindness and humility of Sri Govinda, began to sob uncontrollably, his body trembling in ecstasy. By the touch of his Gurudeva and a concerted effort on his part, he managed to compose his mind and peacefully spoke the following words: “Lotus-eyed Syamasundara is always fully absorbed in His transcendental play with the beautiful girls of Vraja, His parents. His boy friends, and the cows. He knows neither loss, exhaustion, danger, nor fear, for He has no opportunity to think of anything other than His personal happiness. In this way He is fully absorbed in fulfilling His unlimited desires and reciprocating with His eternal associates. I understand that this full absorption of love is achieved by the bewildering influence of His own yogamaya.” Sri Govinda Vidyaratna listened in great happiness, marveling at the devotional qualities of Raghunatha dasa.
“Therefore this question has appeared in my mind: if Sri Krsna is constantly absorbed in His pastimes and is bewildered by the intense love of His associates, how does He accept the service of
His countless devotees who approach Him in innumerable countries, from different directions? Who hears the prayers of the sincere devotees, sadhakas and siddhas alike, which are offered for His glorification and the perfection of their bhakti7 Surely a devotee’s service and prayers will never go in vain, for Sri Krsna has said, yoga-ksemam vahdmy aham.
“My mind has been bewildered by this apparent paradox. I have full faith that it is the lack of realization on my part which makes that which is wholesome and consistent appear incongruous. Yet, without direction from a superior power I am not able to
resolve this self-imposed dilemma.”
Folding his hands and remembering the lotus feet of Guru and Gauranga, Sri Govinda said, “Due to a poor fund of knowledge, many scholars misunderstand the human-like pastimes of Sri Krsna. When Damodara runs from His mother, they suggest that He is feigning fear and shedding crocodile tears. In order to maintain His omniscience, they make the Lord into an actor and deprive Him of His true prerogative of complete absorption in His lila. To correct such a misunderstanding, Srila Cakravartipada has written of the Lord’s behavior in his newly-composed book, Raga-vartma-candrika. This same book he has given to this humble self for editing. I shall now cite the perfect reasoning given by our Gurudeva in this regard.”
Referring to a manuscript by his side and fully enlivened by the prospect of resolving a common quandary of the Vaisnavas, Sri Govinda, the crown jewel of Vaisnava scholars, continued, “Srila Visvanatha has addressed the common answer tendered by some devotees to this question. They reason that Krsna’s expansion, Faramatma, the Supersoul residing in everyone’s heart, hears the prayers of the surrendered devotees and reciprocates with their service while He remains absorbed and undisturbed in His limitless sports.
“Our Gurudeva refutes this proposal. He argues that Paramatma displays Krsna’s pastime as the witness, saksi, and the bestower of karmic fruits, anumanta. However, He is not empowered to reciprocate with the moods of the raganuga-bhakta, who is solely devoted to Sri Krsna. Furthermore, since a vraja-bhakta is not
Krsna’s Friend the Cloud
satisfied by the reciprocation of Lord Ramacandra or even Lord Narayana, then Their partial expansion Paramatma will certainly not satiate their mood. Such answers by scholars are inconsistent with the proper interaction of mellows between the devotee and the Lord.
“Giving his own answer, Cakravartipada affirms that Sri Krsna, Vrajendra-nandana Syama, will hear the prayers of the devotees and bestow the results of service. There can be no alternative to this. But how He does so while engaged in the bonds of prema and oblivious to His Godhood is a great mystery. The answer lies in the analysis of Sri Krsna’s two qualities known as mugdha and sarvajna. Mugdha refers to the total bewilderment He feels under the stupefying influence of His devotees’ love, and sarvajna is His natural characteristic of omniscience. Both these qualities exist in Him simultaneously, and by His inconceivable potency He is overpowered by the love of Yasoda while being concurrently the all-knowing Supreme Person.
“In support of this argument, consider the statement of Uddhava Mahasaya in the third khanda of the Bhagavatam, where he says, mantresu mam va upahuya yat tvam. He says, ‘0 my Lord, Your eternal Self is never divided by the influence of time, and there is no limitation to Your perfect knowledge. Thus, You were sufficiently able to consult with Yourself, yet You called upon me for consultation, as if bewildered, although You are never bewildered. And this act of Yours bewilders me.’
“Krsna is the all-knowing person, simultaneously aware of all karmas in all phases of time. Why, then, does He ask Uddhava for advice, as if bewildered by the dilemma of attending the rdjasuya-yajna and disposing of Jarasandha simultaneously? Uddhava states that this behavior of the Lord is not a pretense but His actual state of being. Krsna exhibits both qualities of mugdha, knowing nothing, and sarvajna, knowing everything, at the same time. This is truly wonderful!”
Becoming overwhelmed by the inconceivable qualities of his beloved Lord, Sri Govinda became momentarily stunned and tears flowed from his eyes, moistening the ground. Composing himself, he continued once again, glancing at the manuscript before him.
“Mugdha should not be mistaken as the action of the material energy, maya. It is the function of Sri Krsna’s own prema. As the servants of the Lord have one-pointed absorption in Him, by dint of His attachment for His devotee known as His bhakta-vatsalya, He becomes equally oblivious to everything other than them.
“When lying in the lap of His mother, when absorbed in wrestling with Sridama, when dancing with the gopis, by the exclusive provision of their love. He knows nothing but them, but still He knows everything. As Lila-suka writes, caranaih sarvajnatve ca maugdhe ca sarvabhaumam idam maha iti: ‘In all His pastimes, the Lord is simultaneously bewildered and omniscient.’ How this takes place by the force of His own yogamaya is certainly inconceivable.”
Looking at Raghunatha dasa with great affection, Sri Govinda says, “The conclusion is as follows: Sri Krsna is fully preoccupied with Himself and does not feign anthropomorphic symptoms but actually experiences ignorance of His divinity, while contemporaneously being the all-omniscient Supreme Person. By His inconceivable potencies He remains aware of the service and prayers of His devotees and never fails in His promise to reciprocate with them, regardless of how minute their devotion may be.”
Speechless at the irrefutable logic of his argument, Raghunatha dasa could only fold his hands before his preceptor and bow his head. To hear this great proponent of devotional science speak, the demigods, headed by Yamaraja, had assembled in the sky above. Invisible to all, they too became speechless and just looked at each other in happiness. To signify their pleasure at such conclusive truths, they scattered parijata flowers on the devotees below. Those flowers appeared like the light sprinkling of rain and roused the devotees to take shelter of the overhanging branches of the bakula tree.
Folding the manuscript in a cloth and then placing it into a wooden box well protected from the elements, Sri Govinda said, “My dear beloved, I have answered your question according to the most authoritative version given by the aeon/a of our sampradaya, Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. You should have no doubt in this regard. The words of liberated souls are as infallible as the Vedas themselves. I accept whatever our Gurudeva has written as
Krsna’s Friend the Cloud
non-different from the words of the all-perfect Veda-Vyasa. You, too, should do the same.”
Seeing that the afternoon rains had begun, Sri Govinda leaned against the trunk of the tree and, with his japa-mala in his hands, began to silently chant the holy names of the Lord. Raghunatha dasa followed suit, sitting at the lotus feet of his guru. After some time passed and the rain continued, Sri Govinda quoted one verse from the Bhagavatam, well known to his disciple:
drstvatape vraja-pasun saha rdma-gopaih
sancarayantam emu venum udirayantam prema-pravrddha uditah kusumavalibhih
sakhyur vyadhat sva-vapusambuda atapatram
“In the company of Balarama and the cowherd boys. Lord Krsna is continually vibrating His flute as He herds all the animals of Vraja, even under the full heat of the summer sun. Seeing this, the cloud in the sky has expanded himself out of love. He is rising high and constructing out of his own body, with its multitude of flower-like droplets of water, an umbrella for the sake of his friend.”
Knowing that Sri Govinda had committed to memory the teachings of all the acaryas, eager to hear his explanations of loving devotion, and understanding that his preceptor’s mind was now softened with the remembrance of Krsna’s vmja-lild, in a tone full of submission Raghunatha dasa said, “Dear Gurudeva, you have quoted a sloka glorifying the service of the clouds. In what ways have our acaryas understood the words of the vraja-gopis, and what nectar have they revealed on the subject of Ghanasyama’s friendship with the clouds?”
Smiling at the inquisitiveness of his youthful follower, Sri Govinda leaned forward and, with his beads still in his hands, began to speak. “The original commentator on the Bhagavatam, who is held in highest esteem by Lord Gaurasundara, Sri Sridhara Svami says that the qualities of the clouds are loka-arti-harana, or that which removes the distresses of the world. Just see how munificent these clouds are, who freely give themselves to others! “Summarizing the verse, the acarya states that the clouds have
Krsna’s Friend the Cloud
risen above Krsna. To shelter Him from the glare of the midday sun, they expand themselves, increasing in size by the force of their love, punah prema-pravrddha. Inspired by the peacocks, who offer their feathers as gifts, the clouds make flower offerings to Sri Krsna in the form of a very fine drizzle, kusumavali. Then, with their own bodies they act like an umbrella, catam, serving their dear friend in this way.”
Looking skywards, Sri Govinda said, “As always, his commentary is concise and to the point. It is the sutra which forms the basis of other aeon/as’ commentaries. They will expand on what Sridhara Svami says but will never attempt to surpass it. In the time of our beloved Gauranga there were great scholars who thought they would better his commentaries and acquire great acclaim among learned circles. Such an attitude was never approved by the Lord, and He rejected such upstarts from His association as one would prostitutes. Following His example, we should never hear any topics from such teachers, regardless of their learning and erudition.”
Pausing for a moment, Sri Govinda then continued, “Srila Sanatana Gosvami is the dearest associate of Sri Krsna Caitanya. His Brhad-vaisnava-tosani commentary is like an iridescent row of pearls decorating the lotus face of Snmad-Bhdgavatam. When he speaks, not only the Gandharvas, Kinnaras, and elevated demigods but also the inhabitants of Vaikuntha abandon their services and sit attentively to hear his words. Now hear how he describes the ecstasy of the gopis who have assembled to describe the glories of the flute.
“Observing the clouds above Krsna, a group of gopis says, ‘Certainly the Kalindi, Manasi-Ganga, and the other rivers that flow to he sea are fortunate, having witnessed the wonderful pastimes of Sri Krsna. Meghasya ‘pi bhdgyam ki varnam, what is the acquired good fortune of the clouds, which are acetana prayasya, (generally) not conscious entities and little more than vapor in the sky?’
“Sri Sanatana accentuates two phrases pertaining to Sri Krsna;
they are gopaih sancarayantana and anu venum udirayantam, and they can be understood in two ways. With the word yadvat Sanatana Gosvami always offers alternative readings, revealing the diverse views of different elevated devotees.
“In the first meaning of anu venum, Sri Krsna very loudly calls all the cows and cowherd boys, again and again, varam varam. Why does He do like that? Again and again Krsna calls them to meet so that He may give them great pleasure. The vraja-gopis see Krsna playing His flute in a very charming way. By such playing He herds the cows and buffaloes with the other cowherd boys, making them go from one place to another according to His blissful desire. There are so many cows and so many gopas in so many places, it is anantam. First they are by the side of the river, then they come to a beautiful meadow full of green grass, and finally they pasture under the shade of great trees. When He desires that they all come to Him, Krsna stands in one place and, by the sound of His flute, the cows and gopas come running. Then there is a happy reunion, samelanartham.
“That flute music which was once heard by the creator after ten thousand years of austerity and which, after a short time, was again silent, is heard again and again, day after day, by the fortunate inhabitants of Vrndavana. This is the wonder of Krsna’s lila.
“The second option for this phrase is to take the word anu as ‘following.’ Thus, after He plays His flute, the clouds protect Sri Krsna and His associates from the heat and shower them with flower-like drops of water. Out of sakhya-bhava, a sense of friendship, the clouds have made a very special umbrella out of their bodies. What is this specialty of the clouds? It is the wealth of flowers stored in their bodies appearing like a shower of very fine droplets of water. That is their visistam.
“The gopis say, ‘In this way the distress caused Sri Krsna by the excessive heat of the sun is completely removed and the clouds receive the great fortune of pleasing Him in that way. They are parama-dhanyakam\ But the great ocean of our misfortune has no shore, for we have neither the treasure of seeing Krsna nor the opportunity to render Him any service. This is our anguish.'”
Completing the teachings of Sanatana Gosvami, Sri Govinda closed his eyes and savored the mood of the gopis through the words of the great aeon/a. Enlivened by remembrance of his predecessors, he sat erect, held his head high, and radiated a peaceful smile. ;
Krsna’s Friend the Cloud
“Sri Rupa is known as the rasa-acarya. He has been specifically empowered by Caitanya Mahaprabhu to describe the science of devotional service. Similarly, Srila Jiva Gosvami is the siddhanta-acarya and has given the final conclusion on all aspects of Gaudiya philosophy in his Sandarbhas. In his two commentaries, Laghu-vaisnava-tosam and Krama-sandarbha, he reveals the minds of the gopis in the following way:
“A group of madhya-gopis have assembled in a clearing between the forest and their village. Their hands held to their hearts, their faces in the direction of the sky, tears suddenly spring to their eyes as they say, ‘Asmakmh hrdayam-asma saram! Our hearts are just like stone! Even though we can see that Sri Krsna is suffering under the influence of the scorching heat of summer, our hearts do not melt to see His condition and our bodies render no favorable service, anukula-seva.’
“Trying to comprehend the good fortune of the clouds, they say, “Meghai saha tasya kaha sneha anubhanda. What could possibly be the loving relationship between a cloud and Sri Krsna?’ After thinking in this way, they replied, ‘Perhaps there is none. Still, the clouds are able to perform some appropriate service, which is obviously very much to Sri Krsna’s liking.’ Then seeing their own plight, at a distance from their beloved, they say, ‘But we cannot do any of these things and, although we are conscious living beings and relatives of Hari, our fortune remains as insignificant as a mustard seed.'”
Raghunatha dasa felt great happiness to be blessed by such wonderful hari-katha. His eyes sparkling with appreciation, his body trembling with ecstasy, and his pure mind fully absorbed in the transcendental narration, he was as much the very image of the sincere disciple as Sri Govinda was the embodiment of the qualified guru.
Continuing, Sri Govinda said, “The gopis say, ‘From high above, the clouds see Sri Krsna inconvenienced by the summer heat. Thinking to do seva for their beloved by taking the form of an umbrella, they follow Sri Krsna wherever He goes with the cows, gocara yatra yatra, tatra tatra uparitram. Even though the wind blows in one direction, the clouds disobey him and go hither and thither
with Sn Krsna, taking care to always protect Him from the glare of the sun.
“If someone asks how it is that the clouds move at will and change their shape and size, the gopis reply. The cloud has prema and it is the influence of this prema that causes such physical transformations as an increase in size and the shedding of ecstatic tears.’
Someone else may inquire why it is that the cloud is considered a friend of Syamasundara. Again the gopis reply, ‘Just as Sri Krsna is black, similarly the clouds are syamatvat; they have a polished black color, and therefore they are of the same varna or category as He. As Sri Krsna plays His flute like thundering clouds, the clouds slowly thunder, “mandam mandam,” overjoyed at His flute playing. In this way sharing common characteristics, Sri Krsna and the clouds have developed a deep sense of loving friendship.’
“Are there other evidences of this kinship between Sri Krsna and the clouds? ‘Certainly!’ reply the gopis. ‘The clouds are not only kind to Hari but they give protection to all those related to Him, like Baladeva and His boyfriends. Because His associates are dearer to Him than millions of His own lives, by serving them the clouds become the object of His unlimited affections.’
“‘But that is not all!’ the gopis continue. ‘The friendship of the clouds is shown by how they worship Krsna with showers of fine water droplets which are like minute crystalline flowers, kusumdvalibhir jala patram.’
“The opinion of the gopis is that the clouds are urdhvam gata, quite high in the sky.” Govinda Vidyaratna opened his eyes wide and exclaimed, “Why should that be the case, you ask?” Raising his right hand, he continued, “The gopis argue that if clouds sailed near Sri Krsna, the demigods flying in their vimanas would not see what was happening below, vimana carinam devanam darsinam Oanam. Remember the earlier verse starting with krsnam ninksya
With that, Sri Govinda burst into laughter, clapping his hands together in great happiness. His sudden outburst frightened two deer standing nearby, caused the peacocks to cry out ke ka, made a
Krsna’s Friend the Cloud
pair of parrots overhead flap their wings, and induced the nearby flowers to blossom. Raghunatha dasa, also caught up in that wave of hasya-bhava, laughed to his heart’s content. Just then a thunderclap was heard nearby, as if the clouds themselves were sharing the fun, albeit at their own expense. With that, Sri Govinda began to laugh once again, accompanied by the animals, birds, trees, and creepers.
When the mood of laughter subsided, Sri Govinda, who seemed to manifest a mischievous mood, spoke as he chuckled, “How humorous is our Sri Jiva! Earlier he chided the devis. As women are not very expert in driving vehicles, he deduced that the devis required their husbands to drive their vimanas, as they were not clever enough to do so. Hee, hee, hee!”
Once again he began to laugh, this time even more uncontrollably than before, until tears flowed down his face onto his rotund belly. Finally composing themselves, those illustrious Vaisnavas, beaming with happy smiles, continued to discourse about the glories of the flute of Sri Krsna.
“Jiva Gosvami concludes, explaining that the word anil is used in the sense of sameness, sadrsa-artha. Because there is a similarity as well as bonds of affection between the cloud and Sri Hari, by transforming itself into an umbrella, the cloud expresses love for his friend.”
Once again Prabhu Vidyaratna leaned forward towards Raghunatha dasa and spoke in a calm but emphatic voice. “Now I will explain the commentary written by our beloved Gurudeva, Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada, who is glorified throughout the three worlds for his extraordinary exposition of the pastimes of Radha-Madhava.
“Speaking through the mouth of our acdrya, the gopis express their feelings to each other. Pointing to the clouds, one gopi says, ‘Hanta! Hanta! Just see here! Those who have a sense of friendship, sakhya-bhava, have achieved success in fulfilling their desires.’
“Another gopi, uncertain of what is being discussed, says, ‘Of whom are you speaking, dear friend?’
“Her sakhi replies, ‘0 mugdha, bewildered one, just see the clouds expanding out of love, prema-pravrddha. Seeing Sri Krsna’s
discomfort from the scorching rays of the summer sun, they change their size to give Him all protection.’
“Another girl, able to see the far-off clouds, adds, ‘Not only do the clouds act as umbrellas but they do rasa-vrsti, they sprinkle a fine spray of rain which is like a mega-puspa-gana-rasa, a shower of small flowers.’
“The first speaker, dressed in a golden sari, replies, ‘Do not think that shower of water is ordinary; it is like fruit juice or the nectar drunk by the denizens of heaven and is imbued with special powers to quench the scorching heat.’
“Exhibiting envy at the good fortune of the clouds, another gopi, her bluish eyes decorated by kajal, says, ‘What makes the clouds think they have the right to act with such intimacy? Being vapor-laden with rain, how do they claim friendship with our love-saturated Govinda? What is their sakhya-bhava abhimana?’
“Her friend replies, ‘Sakhi, it is natural that people who exhibit similar qualities and similar features will be of an amiable disposition toward each other.’
“Replying again, the first girl says, ‘Pray tell, what similarity can there be between a cloud and Sri Krsna?’
“Holding her friend’s hand to compose her, that most intelligent among ladies says. The cloud considers himself Sri Krsna’s friend for the following reasons: as the cloud is black, so is Sri Krsna; as Sri Krsna wears yellow cloth, so the cloud is decorated with streaks of golden lightning; and as the clouds are always above the earth’s surface, so Sri Krsna is always aloof from contact with the material elements. Furthermore, the sound of Sri Krsna’s flute-playing resembles the rumbling of the clouds. Do you not think the clouds are warranted in their relationship with our dear friend?’
“Looking towards the ground and marking the earth with her feet, her friend replies, ‘Yes, why not? The clouds assume the form of an umbrella and give happiness to Sri Krsna; therefore, all glories to them.’ Becoming more morose, she says, ‘It is only we who do not get a chance to please Him. Amanam premanam tu drk!'”
There is a prolonged silence as the mood of separation of the gopis caresses Sri Govinda’s heart. The rain continues to fall,
Krsna’s Friend the Cloud
collecting in small puddles on the ground. Slowly he continues, “What you have asked for I have replied, my dear son. Is there anything further that you would like to hear today?”
Raghunatha dasa folded his hands and inquired, “Beloved Gurudeva, are there other commentaries on this verse that I should hear?”
Clearing his throat, Prabhu Vidyaratna replied, “I have mentioned that there are other commentaries written by scholars which are not worthy of mention. The expositions of the pure Vaisnavas in the guru-parampara, devoid of any tinge of karma and jnana, are too numerous for me to recount at this time. But among such pure glorification of the Lord, one will be composed in the future which stands out unique amongst them.”
His curiosity aroused by the mention of a peerless commentary and the indication that it is yet to be penned, Raghunatha dasa asked, “Who is the author of this superlative bhasya and when will he appear? What qualities does his composition contain that it gains such distinction among the circle of Vaisnava poets, the treasured ornaments of Goddess Sarasvati’s vma?”
Looking in either direction, Sri Govinda says, “Due to the confidential nature of this topic, I can only give you a hint of what is to come. What I have understood myself and have confirmed from Gurudeva cannot be spoken now, but I shall recount to you as much as you can understand.”
Sensing a mysterious revelation in the making, Raghunatha dasa came a little closer to the lotus feet of Sri Guru. To hear better, the birds perched in the tree moved to the bottom branch, the deer standing at a distance ventured closer, the peacocks settled in the dust by the Vaisnavas’ feet, and the leaves of the tree seemed to arch downward.
Speaking in a low voice that was almost a whisper, Govinda Vidyaratna, the intimate disciple of Sri Cakravartipada, the infallible servant of Radha-Madhava who was above the fourfold defects and aloof from the material modes, said, “When Baladeva Vidyabhusana answered the challenge of the Galta smartas by composing his Govinda-bhasya commentary, I was present to render some menial service under the order of Gurudeva. One night,
before returning to Vraja, by the mercy of Govindaji, who was pleased with my service to the servant of His servants, I had a wonderful dream.”
As the rain continued to fall, it made pattering noises as it hit the ground. Because the clouds could not hear what was being said, they immediately stopped their showers and ceased their rolling. “In that dream I saw one Vaisnava, brilliant as the sun, resplendent with unlimited qualities and learned like Vyasadeva. By the order of the Lord he entered this world and, although he exhibited a humble and simple demeanor. Lord Gauranga, Nitai, and the entire parampara empowered him with unprecedented potency. The demigods showered flowers, although his identity was beyond their comprehension and his powers surpassed their own.
“The many things I saw cannot be told. Still, I will relate how he travels in metal vimanas from one country to the other and, while touring the world, how he preaches the glories of the holy name to miecchas, yavanas, and brahma-bandhus. While traveling he also writes numerous books and gives his commentaries in the language of the westerners, while simultaneously inaugurating 108 temples and installing the arca-vigraha in lands beyond the ocean. Raghunatha, my son, listen to this wonder! To purify his followers, who are accustomed to a life of sin, he will bestow on them brahma-diksa and sannyasa-diksa, having brought them to the standard of pure Aryans.
“When he writes his commentary on Bhagavad-glta, it will be translated in every language of the world, distributed by the crores, and dedicated to our own Baladeva in appreciation of his Govinda-bhasya. Then he will write his commentary on the Bhagavatam and compose a special treatise, a summary study on the Tenth Canto known as the Krsna book.
“In an extraordinary way, that Krsna book will reveal the pastimes of Sri Krsna, resembling a mystical cloak worn by those aspirants who desire to hear the lila of the Supreme but possess little qualification to do so. When worn with faith and devotion, this magical shawl protects its bearer from the monsoon-like downpour, which is the pernicious influence of Kali.
Krsna’s Friend the Cloud
“Speaking into a machine that records his voice, he will weave the words of Sukadeva into a divine composition resembling a magical yarn stretched across a loom of paper. Next, that great Prabhu will embroider this divine mantle with unsurpassable patterns, selections from the commentaries of the acaryas, most notably our own Cakravartipada. Finally he will weave a matrix of golden fleece throughout the entire wrapper with the words of his own explanations and make it sparkle with teachings from the Gita and glitter with quotes from the Upanisads.
“Surely those who cover their ears with this divine cloak of wisdom will never again be attracted to the phantasmagoria of mundane topics, which leads to the bottomless well of fruitive activities. Just hear how our Prabhu will comment on the verse I have quoted. These are his own words: ‘The scorching heat of the autumn sunshine was sometimes intolerable, and therefore the clouds in the sky appeared in sympathy above Krsna and Balarama and Their boyfriends while They engaged in blowing Their flutes. The clouds served as a soothing umbrella over Their heads just to make friendship with Krsna.’
“Note here how this great soul explains that the clouds’ desire to make friendship with Krsna is the purpose of their seva. Like sadhakas, the clouds wish to develop their relationship as friends of Hari and offer themselves as umbrellas for the sake of His service. According to the vision of our Prabhu, an extraordinary concert takes place at this time, as all the cowherd boys are engaged in playing their flutes. Although Vanamali is the most experienced of flutists. His sakhas also possess flutes and they now accompany their beloved friend to create a wonderful atmosphere, sounding many hundreds and thousands of such instruments. Just hear that divine concert!” With that exclamation of happiness, Sri Govinda paused briefly, his eyes glittering with so many diamonds of ecstasy.
“My dear Raghunatha, this much I have told you about the master of those who recognize devotion as the essence of Vedanta. More I cannot say. Although I awoke elated, feeling great joy, in my mind I had a doubt whether this dream was the revelation of the Lord or a product of my own mind. After returning to Vrndavana
and relating all the adventures at Galta to the Vaisnavas, I spoke in confidence to Sri Visvanatha and revealed the contents of my dream to him.
“That great devotee, who is omniscient and infallible, took my hand and told me, ‘Sri Govinda, you are very fortunate to have had darsana of this Prabhu. What you saw in your dream was all true. It was the blessing of Lord Gauranga for your service in defending the honor of our parampara. As you have seen it, this devotee will certainly come to fulfill the desire of our guru-parampara.’
“‘After great labor Veda-Vyasa composed all the Vedas, Upanisads, and Puranas. However, he knew that in the age of Kali people will lack the patience and wisdom to read his books and, because they speak in the tongue of rnlecchas, they will be indifferent to Sanskrit compositions. His great aspiration was to simplify his works and make their essence available to the world in words they could comprehend. Being sympathetic to his all-compassionate desire, Gaura-Krsna sent His most intimate servant who, while worshipable by you and me, sees himself as our humble servant. Now return to your cottage and be happy, for the fruit of our hard work will be manifest through him whom you saw in your dreams. The mission of Lord Gauranga is assured!'”
With that, Sri Govinda stood up and embraced Raghunatha to his chest, weeping tears of ecstasy. His voice choked, his body trembled, and his hair stood on end like a coat of mail. Unable to speak further, he folded his hands in farewell and, in the twilight glow, made his way to his hut, closing the door behind him.
Raghunatha dasa stood there, the occasional drop of water falling from the tips of the leaves into the puddles below. Above his head a beautiful parrot glowing with divine knowledge, as brilliant as a second sun, repeated what he had heard from the conversation. “My dear Raghunatha, this much I have told you about the master of those who recognize devotion as the essence of Vedanta. More I cannot say.”
Raghunatha dasa was astonished at what he had heard concerning the future activities of this great Vaisnava. Knowing that Sri Govinda would speak no further on the topic, he carefully locked this revelation in his heart as the consummation of his
Krsna’s Friend the Cloud
many years of austerity and study. Staggering under the influence of spiritual ecstasy, he offered obeisances to his gurus and, in the failing light, slowly made his way back to his own asrama. Once again, in a voice like honey, the parrot behind him spoke, “My dear Raghunatha/ this much I have told you about the master of those who recognize devotion as the essence of Vedanta. More I cannot say.” Then it flew away.
This concludes the eleventh chapter of The Song of the Flute, by a very insignificant disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, about a dear friend of Sri Krsna, the cloud, who by possessing the same color as He, making a thundering sound like His flute, and being decorated with lightning akin to His golden cloth, although generally unconscious, became animated by His flute’s prema and, desiring Sri Krsna’s service, rose high in the sky without obstructing the vision of the devis and, expanding himself into a divine umbrella above Gopala, gave relief from the glare of the midday sun and then, following the charitable example of the peacocks, offered a fine drizzle of flowers, in reality a shower ofnectarean juice, thus removing Sri Krsna’s distress and that of the entire world, with the exception of a group of madhya-gopis, who watched from a distance the artistic movements of Sri Hari and lamented their inability to soothe His suffering or render sevd like the cloud, but through their tears continued to watch Sri Krsna playing His flute, assembling His friends, gathering His cows, and inaugurating a concert of countless flutes, in a joyous reunion under the shelter of that wonderful umbrella, the cloud.