Category Archives: Radha Krishna

Matsya Avatar – Fish incarnation of Vishnu

matsya avatar vishnu vedas

Matsya Avatar or the fish incarnation is the first of the ten avatars of Vishnu, the Supreme Lord. The eighth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam describes the pastimes of ‘Matsya avatar’ in great detail. In addition, Matsya Purana also glorifies His wonderful pastimes. Five thousand years ago, Parikshit Maharaj inquired about the Matsya avatar from Srila Sukadeva Goswami. Sri Sukadeva Goswami explained how the Supreme Lord incarnates in this world millennium after millennium in order to protect the cows, brahmanas, religious principles, spiritual knowledge, etc. Although the Supreme Lord appears sometimes as a human being and sometimes as a lower animal, He nonetheless always stays transcendental. Sukadeva Goswami glorified Matsya avatar and described how in the previous millennium (Svayambhuva Manvantara), while Lord Brahma was asleep, the water of devastation flooded the three worlds, only leaving Brahmaloka and a few other higher planets untouched. As Brahma took rest, the demon Hayagriva tried to steal the Vedic knowledge that emanated from Brahma’s mouth. The Supreme Lord Vishnu, then assumed the form of ‘Matsya avatar’ (fish incarnation), as everything was inundated by water, and rescued the Vedas by killing the demon.

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Rasa – Divine Mellow

yashoda krishna vatsalya rasa bhagavatamrasa

Rasa, or divine mellows, is remarkable and the most esoteric truth. It is the culmination of the transcendental pastimes of Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When devotion unto Krishna reaches the peak of purity and grows dynamically active, it transforms into ‘Krishna Bhakti Rasa’, the mellows of devotion towards Krishna. Unless a devotee attains pure devotion and reaches the stage of a ‘sadhaka’, he is not qualified to experience ‘rasa’. Krishna is the root cause of divine love whereas Krishna’s personal traits and paraphernalia act as ‘uddipana’ or that which evokes ecstatic love for Him. ‘Uddipana’ helps stimulate the devotee’s latent love for Krishna, which in course of time manifests itself as ‘rasa’. In this article, we are going to discuss the various facets of Rasa, it’s different types, their respective characteristics, etc.

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Madhurya Rasa – Mellow of Conjugal Love

krishna radha madhurya accessories ornaments articles

Madhurya Rasa falls within the purview of Krishna Bhajan and constitutes the highest grade of divine Love. It is where a devotee approaches God as His consort. This is unlike the so-called love of this material world where one primarily concerns himself with his/her sensuous pleasures. The distance between the servant and the Lord which was distinctly visible in the cases of Shanta and Dasya Rasas, and indistinctly visible in the case of Sakhya and Vatsalya Rasas, is now completely absent in Madhurya. The servant and the Lord are now united as never before. The servant serves her lord with everything. She lives for her Lord and dies for Him. There is nothing that she cannot do to make Him happy. His pain and grief become her own. Now, the servant cannot enjoy anything which does not make her Lord happy. She takes pleasure in putting on an ornament if it pleases her Lord. She even gladly welcomes death if it is a service unto Him. Such is the selflessness of love manifested in Madhurya. Srimati Radharani and the other Gopis of Vrindavana represent devotees in this category.

Madhurya rasa is also specified as ‘Mukya bhakti rasa’ or the principal of all devotional mellows. Unless one is devoid of all material attachments, one cannot relish the divine mellow of ‘Madhurya’. Madhurya rasa is most esoteric and rare. Hence, it is kept largely confidential. Shanta, Dasya, Sakhya, Vatsalya, and Madhurya exist eternally in Goloka Vrindavan. They are compared to Copper, bell metal, Silver, Gold, and touchstone respectively.

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Vatsalya Rasa – Parental Affection

krishna yashoda rasa vrindavan

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.

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Sakhya rasa – friendship | Types of Krishna’s sakhas (friends)

krishna arjuna sakhya

Sakhya Rasa is the stage of divine Love where a devotee approaches the Supreme Lord as His friend. Sri Krishna, His friends, and confidants are known as ‘Sakhas’ (friends). The two-handed form of Sri Krishna, playing upon His flute, is the object of meditation in Sakhya rasa. Unlike Dasya rasa, the emotions of awe and reverence are largely missing in Sakhya rasa. Srila Rupa Goswami explains in Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu (Western division) –

Vimukta sambhrama ya svad visrambhatma ratir dvayoh
Prayah samanayor atra sa sakhyam sthayi sabda bhak

‘Visrambha’, the affectionate exchange between two equals that is devoid of reverence and deference but is full of love, trust, and confidence is called ‘sakhya rasa’, the mellow of friendship. Thus, this emotion is the ‘sthayi bhava’ (foundational mood) of this mellow.

Srila Rupa Goswami further explains the meaning of the word ‘visrambha’. It is the admission of complete equality between two individuals, reflecting absolute trust and confidentiality between the two.

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Dasya Rasa – Servitorship

garuda vishnu lakshmi

A devotee in Dasya Rasa approaches the Supreme Lord as His servant. He prostrates himself before Him, appreciates His greatness, and is always ready to carry out His instructions with a degree of affection. Affinity towards God manifests itself in the form of affection in Dasya rasa. The beginning of affection marks ‘dasya rasa’. Garuda and Hanuman’s worship falls within this category. This Rasa also falls within the purview of Narayana pujan (worship of Lord Narayana). While in ‘Shanta Rasa’ there exists no active service, in ‘dasya rasa’ active service of the devotee is preeminent. Thus ‘Dasya rasa’ is a more evolved stage than ‘Santa rasa’. On the dasya rati platform a devotee is attached to rendering service to the Supreme Lord, and he is detached from material activities.

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Shanta Rasa – Mellow of Neutrality

krishna radha gopis yamuna shanta rasa

Shanta rasa is the mellow of divine love (Rasa) that falls within the purview of Narayana pujan (worship of Lord Narayana). This is a neutral state in which the devotee neither feels any fondness for his worshipable Lord Narayana nor does he have any attachment towards the world. He offers the Lord his love in a manner sanctioned by the scriptures. The indifference of the servant towards his Lord is the chief characteristic of this stage. Shanta rasa is the neutral stage where there exists attachment for Krishna in the mood of awe and veneration; there is complete detachment from all material desires; nonetheless, in Shanta rasa, there is also a lack of intimacy between the devotee and the Supreme Lord. 

The bliss that is experienced in Brahman realization (brahmananda) by the impersonalists, or the pleasure of realizing the self (atmananda), experienced by the yogis steeped in meditation upon the inner self, is nothing compared to the delight felt in realizing the Supreme Lord. The beautiful form of the Supreme Lord is the source of all spiritual bliss. Devotees like Bilvamangala Thakura, Sukadeva Goswami, and Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya had attained nirvishesa brahma (impersonal brahman) through their pursuits of Jnana (speculative knowledge) but had rejected brahmananda (bliss in impersonal brahman realization) in favor of bhakti-rasananda, the nectarean divine bliss of devotion.

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Rasa Tattva, Asta Sattvika vikara & Anubhava

krishna yashoda rasa vrindavan

Rasa, or divine mellows, is remarkable and the most esoteric truth. It is the culmination of the transcendental pastimes of Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When devotion unto Krishna reaches the peak of purity and grows dynamically active, it transforms into ‘Krishna Bhakti Rasa’, the mellows of devotion towards Krishna. 

Unless a devotee attains pure devotion and reaches the stage of a ‘sadhaka’, he is not qualified to experience ‘rasa’. A ‘sadhaka’ is a devotee who has attained attraction for Krishna but might not be completely free from all anarthas (material impurities). A neophyte devotee, however, who engages in deity worship in the temple but behaves improperly with others, is not qualified to relish rasa (divine mellows).

‘Siddhas’ are those devotees whose activities revolve solely around Sri Krishna and who always crave to relish Krishna bhakti rasa. They have attained perfection in their devotional lives either through sadhana (devotional practice), Kripa (mercy of exalted souls or God), or else they are eternally perfected souls (Nitya Siddha).

Krishna is the root cause of divine love whereas Krishna’s personal traits and paraphernalia act as ‘uddipana’ or that which evokes ecstatic love for Him. ‘Uddipana’ helps stimulate the devotee’s latent love for Krishna, which in course of time manifests itself as ‘rasa’.

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Cows and Krishna | Sacred Cow

cows india sacred krishna

Namo brahmanya devaya
Go brahmana hitaya ca
Jagad dhitaya Krsnaya
Govindaya namo namah
(Vishnu Purana 1.19.65)

I offer my obeisances again and again to Lord Krishna, who is always worshiped by qualified brahmanas and is very dear to them. He is always concerned with the welfare of the cows, the brahmanas, and the whole world. I offer my repeated obeisances unto the Personality of Godhead, known as Krishna and Govinda.

The above mantra, quoted in Vishnu Purana, is used to worship and offer bhoga to Lord Krishna. The above prayer lays a striking emphasis on the protection of cows and the brahmanas. Brahmanas, or the intellectuals, are the symbols of spiritual education. In Vedic India, cows were treated as mothers and they sustained the entire society with their milk. From the above verse, it is abundantly clear that cows were very dear to Krishna. In fact, the Bhagavad Gita quotes Lord Krishna in saying –

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Karmanye vadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana | Bhagavad Gita

vishnu krishna arjuna bhagavad gita kurukshetra Karmanye vadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana

karmanye vadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana
ma karma phala-hetur bhur ma te sango ‘stv akarmani
(Bhagavad Gita, 2.47)

You certainly have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not performing your duty.

When Arjuna was perplexed and hesitated to fight against his kins in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Lord Krishna coached him in the science of yoga. The conversations that took place between Krishna and Arjuna in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, comprise the contents of Bhagavad Gita. Krishna and Arjuna discussed a host of subjects. Amongst them were yoga, characteristics and immortality of the soul, one’s duties, the objectives of one’s life, afterlife, God, the dynamics of the material world and the key to transcending it. Bhagavad Gita was spoken by Lord Krishna to Arjuna about 5000 years ago at the onset of the great war of Kurukshetra and their discussion is considered to be one of the most celebrated philosophical and religious dialogues known to man.

Actions without Attachment to results (ma phaleshu kadachana)

In the above verse 2.47, Lord Krishna instructs Arjuna to fight and not shy away from performing his duty. He explains that one should never refrain from fulfilling his/her prescribed duties irrespective of the outcomes of his/her actions. In other words, one should never be attached to the fruits of the actions and should only concern himself with executing them. The Lord here also emphasizes that inaction (akarmani) is sinful and one should conduct the prescribed duties under all circumstances. Prescribed duties can be categorized into routine work, emergency work, and desired activities. Actions, not opposed to scriptural injunctions, that are performed without attachment to the outcome, doubtlessly lead one to the path of liberation. An aspirant of the highest knowledge must know that to hanker or yearn for a reward for one’s actions is the cause of material bondage. But it may be said that all actions produce a result, just as eating satisfies the urge of hunger. The Supreme Lord hence states that one should not let the anticipated results be the cause of motivation for performing the respective actions.

krishna supreme truth bhagavan

Arjuna, who was reluctant to raise arms against his family members (Kauravas) on the battlefield of Kurukshetra was advised by Lord Krishna to fight. Arjuna was a Kshatriya (warrior) and it was his duty to fight for a rightful cause. Therefore, the Lord advised him to fight without bothering about the outcomes of the war. Even non-participation in the battle was another side of his attachment. Any attachment, positive or negative, causes material bondage. Therefore fighting to perform his duty as a warrior (Kshatriya) was the only auspicious path to salvation for Arjuna.

While giving his purport to this verse, Srila Madhvacharya comments that an embodied soul influenced by mundane desires is deemed to be reprehensible. Even the desire for heavenly enjoyments is to be shunned as they are tainted with fruitive rewards as well. Therefore for those possessing spiritual intelligence, motivation for the desire for reward is not advisable. Arjuna is certainly spiritually intelligent and being the son of Indra the ruler of the demigods he certainly has sufficient ‘adhikara’ or qualities. Only for the purpose of giving His unequivocal instructions for posterity has the Supreme Lord Krishna utilized him to benefit all the worlds.

Equanimity in both success or failure

In the very next verse, Lord Krishna reiterates His instructions to Arjuna and instructs him on Nishkama Karma Yoga as follows.

yoga sthah kuru karmani sangam tyaktva dhananjaya
siddhy asiddhyoh samo bhutva samatvam yoga uchyate
(Bhagavad Gita 2.48)

Execute your duty being equipoised, O Arjuna, relinquishing all attachment to success or failure. Such equanimity is called yoga.

vaishnava vaishnavism krishna

Hereby, Krishna guides Arjuna on how one should be equipoised in both success and failure. Considering victory and defeat as equal, Arjuna should execute his duty of fighting. This equanimity of one’s mind concerning success and failure has been termed as ‘Yoga’.

Being equipoised – How can one achieve this state of mind ?

Sridhara Swami explains that yoga is the science of union between jiva and the Supreme Lord. By relinquishing attachment, and motivation for rewards, one should depend solely upon the mercy of the Supreme Lord in all of one’s activities. One should perform his/her actions only as an offering unto the supreme Lord, being totally unattached to the results. This is confirmed by Lord Krishna, later in the Bhagavad Gita –

yat karosi yad asnasi yaj juhosi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kurusva mad-arpanam
(Bhagavad Gita 9.27)

O son of Kunti (Arjuna), all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer or give away, as well as austerities you may perform – do that as an offering to Me (Krishna).

madhvacharya balakrishna

In order to survive in this material world, everyone needs to perform specific actions. Everyone has to work to preserve the body and soul together. Lord Krishna here recommends that one should work for Him and execute all their prescribed duties as an offering unto Him. In this way, dovetailing all actions, towards pleasing Krishna, and meditating on Him all throughout the day, one can unite with the Supreme Lord most intimately. Such a person is situated in the highest stage of Yoga. This is confirmed in chapter 6 of Bhagavad Gita –

yoginam api sarvesam mad-gatenantar-atmana
sraddhavan bhajate yo mam sa me yuktatamo matah
(Bhagavad Gita, 6.47)

And of all yogis, he who always abides in Me with great faith, thinks of Me within himself, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all.

One needs to understand that though the living entities are entitled to actions, only the Supreme Lord can bestow the results. The Supreme Lord is the cause of all causes (sarva karana karanam). Hence, one who performs actions being motivated by fruitive results, is under the illusion that he/she is the cause of the outcome. One should understand that it is fallacious to believe that one is the ultimate controller of their own destiny because all results are ultimately ordained by the Supreme Lord.