Vatsalya Rasa falls within the purview of Krishna bhajan. In this stage, Krishna, the Supreme Lord, is worshiped as one’s own son. The Lord now receives parental love and care from the concerned devotee. The Supreme Lord, now a restless playful child, demands constant care and attention from His parents who must now be tending to His wants. They should feed Him, dress Him, administer Him medicines when ill, put Him to sleep, and then watch Him over when asleep. The mind of devotees in Vatsalya Rasa is wholly occupied with thoughts for their beloved Lord whom they perceive as their dear child. They apprehend danger for Him where there is none and think of Him to be lost when He goes out of their sight even for a moment. They rebuke the Lord and threaten Him when they find Him doing anything wrong. They take Him onto their lap and caress Him lest their child becomes too frightened. Hence these devotees in this Rasa claim a superior position to the Lord Himself. The services of Nanda Maharaj and mother Yashoda fall within this category.
Nature, Activities and Stimulants of Vatsalya Rasa
Vatsalya Rasa represents a stage where devotees are more intimately united with Krishna in divine love as compared to Shanta, Dasya, or Sakhya Rasa. In Vatsalya Rasa, Sri Krishna is the object of Love whereas His elders like Yashoda, Nanda Maharaj, Rohini devi, senior ladies of Vrindavan, Kunti, Devaki, Vasudeva, Sandipani Muni, etc exhibit parental affection for Him. The Uddipanas (stimulants) of this rasa are the different periods of Krishna as a child, His beauty, His clothing as a child, His childish behavior, childish sweet talks, restlessness, laughter, mischief, etc. The pastimes of Krishna in His childhood are cherished by devotees in Vatsalya rasa.
The activities of devotees in Vatsalya Rasa include – smelling the top of Krishna’s head, gently caressing His body, blessing Him, pampering Him, protecting Him, maintaining Him, offering Krishna good advice, etc. They express their parental affection by kissing Krishna upon His forehead or cheeks, embracing Him, loudly calling Him by His pet names, reproaching Him at appropriate moments, etc.
All the eight ecstatic manifestations of asta-sattvika-vikara, including being stunned (stambha), perspiring (sveda), having the bodily hairs standing on their end (romancha), faltering of one’s voice (svara bheda), trembling (vepathu), fading of the body’s color (vaivarna), tears (asru) and devastation (pralaya) are manifested in devotees exhibiting vatsalya rasa. In addition to these eight symptoms, the outflow of breast milk from elderly ladies is unique to this rasa. Thus, in essence, there are nine ecstatic symptoms feasible in Vatsalya rasa.
Benevolent love and kindness completely devoid of awe and reverence towards Krishna, form the foundational spirit (sthayi bhava) of this divine mellow. This foundational mood extends through Prema and Sneha to reach the stage of Raga.
Devotees in Vatsalya Rasa
Lord Balarama, Krishna’s elder brother, reciprocates with Krishna in a mood that is a combination of dasya rasa and vatsalya rasa. Yudhisthira Maharaja is infused with dasya, sakhya and vatsalya rasas. Ugrasena is established in a mood that is a combination of Dasya rasa, Sakhya rasa and Vatsalya rasa. Nakula, Sahadeva, and Narada, relate with Krishna in dasya and Sakhya rasas. Lord Shiva, Garuda, and Uddhava exhibit an amalgamation of dasya and Sakhya rasas.