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Sri Krishna - the central figure of all Love  


By His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad 108 Tridandi Swami Sri Srimat Bhakti Shravan Tirth Goswami Maharaj


The heart is seat of love. As love is Godhead Himself, so the God of Love dwells eternally in our heart of hearts. So we should love God and all beings with all our hearts. We do not say “I love you with all my intellect”. But we do say, “I love you with all my heart”.

The brain is the seat of the intellect. It leads us to polemic discussions without necessarily arriving at any definite conclusion. On the contrary, it leads us to endless dry reasoning resulting in agnosticism.

It is the Vaishnavas who are god-loving in their natural element and possess the qualities of head and heart simultaneously, because without knowledge of Godhead, Sri Vishnu or Sri Krishna, there can be no love for Him. Therefore sambandha-gyana is indispensably necessary for realizing Krishna prem.

The three qualities which are characteristic traits of pure love are:

  1. Eternal searching (or striving) for the entire satisfaction of the Object of Love – Sri Krishna.
  2. Eternal quest for the happiness of the Object of Love – Sri Krishna
  3. Total self-fulfillment and joy resulting from the unmixed happiness of the Object of Love (Sri Krishna).  In other words, when the Object of Love is delighted, the lover gets automatically delighted. When the Paramatma or All Pervading Soul is happy, the soul as part and parcel of the same is similarly happy.  When the Whole is satisfied, the parts included in the Whole are also satisfied, as when the root of the tree is watered, the whole tree is fed and nourished (Srimad Bhagavatam IV. 13.14).

To see with listening ears

Sudarshan” means the spiritual vision of the Whole, including Jiva-souls, as objects of enjoyment of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna. To see things or persons in relation to Krishna is known as Sudarshan or sama-darshan, while to see things or persons as Enjoyers or purush-abhimaan, is known as ‘Kudarshan’ or ugly (distorted) vision. Seeing the physical structure of the thing or person bereft of the soul, is the characteristic feature of a fallen soul. He sees things or persons with material eyes and is attracted or repelled by their physical traits.

A true Vaishnava sees things or persons with his spiritual eyes and ears opened by his Gurudeva, his Divine Master. Hence to see things with listening ears is the characteristic of a true Vaishnava (Bhag. VII 5.23.24).

Of the nine methods of pure devotion (nava vidha bhakti), hearing and chanting the Holy Names of Sri Krishna or Sri Vishnu are the most important factors. Without hearing, no chanting is possible. Hence he who does not hear is a deaf-and-dumb person, although endowed with a material tongue.

By listening to and singing the glories of Sri Krishna, a spontaneous inclination of love for Him is created. This is the supreme object and goal of attainment, the height of what can be achieved by man.  This feeling of affection (rati), when intensified is known as Love (prema). This love is the goal, the repository of All-Bliss.

The bhakti or devotion spoken of in the Bhagawat Gita is vidhi-bhakti, a form of discipline. (Gita Ch. XII, 13-19). When this vidhi-bhakti reaches its full growth, it becomes shudha-bhakti or pure devotion.

Love of God implies mamta or ‘mine-ness’ in relation to Sri Krishna. Deep, loving attachment. The last verse of the Gita gives us a clue as to how to love God. Sri Krishna tells Arjuna “..and let go these rites and rituals. Fly to Me alone. Make Me thy single refuge. I will free thee from all sins. Be of good cheer Arjuna.  Arise! Awake and stop not till the Supreme Lord, the highest goal is attained” (Kathopanishad 1.13.14).

The five factors constituting total love and surrender to Sri Krishna are:

  1. Complete knowledge of the transcendental nature of Sri Krishna
  2. Personal feeling of Sri Krishna as the nearest and dearest object of love
  3. Absolute surrender of everything: mind, body, soul and belongings – movable and immovable – to Sri Krishna
  4. Complete renunciation of all desires for the sake of Krishna’s happiness and satisfaction, and
  5. Complete reliance on Sri Krishna for the maintenance of life and none else.

The Supreme Lord Sri Krishna, who is the creator, sustainer and destroyer of all creation dwells in it as Paramatma (macro) and Jivatma (micro level). He is the material as well as the efficient cause of Prakriti and Purusha. He preserves this world as the abode of experiences (enjoyment or suffering) of the individual souls (jivas). 

Jivas are absolved from the reactions of their actions (karma), when they take absolute shelter of His Lotus Feet wherein they rest as if sleeping with ceaseless, innumerable prostrated obeisances or as a man when asleep does not see his own self but sees other embodied souls in his dream or as others who see a free soul (jivan mukta) as one embodied but do not see their own real Self.

So the Supreme Lord Who is the internal witness of all actions of animate and inanimate beings, Who is the giver of assurances of safety or fearlessness to all jivas and Who is the bestower of Divine Love to His own faithful and loving devotees, should always be meditated upon (Bhag. X. 87.50).

The Supremacy of the Gopis

To illustrate this, the supremacy of the Vraja Gopis’ sentiments are eulogized by Sri Uddhava Maharaj, “O how blessed I should be if I could live in Vrindavan as a creeper, a plant or bush that comes in contact with the dust of the feet of the Gopis. Blessed are the Gopis who abandoned their family and friends and all propriety of conduct, the ethics and etiquette of Aryas, and resorted solely to the Lotus Feet of Mukunda, sought after by the Vedas but not reached by them. Blessed are the Gopis who tenderly embraced the Lotus Feet of Sri Krishna and who placed Those Feet on their bosom during the rasa-dance quenching the fire of their passion. The Feet which are worshipped by Sri Lakshmi, and are meditated upon by Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva and other great Yogis in their heart of hearts, but hardly attained by them. I salute again and again the dust of the feet of the milkmaids of Vraja, whose constant singing of Sri Govinda’s qualities and deeds purify the three worlds” (Bhag. X 47.61-63).

When the madhur sentiment is cultivated, the devotee casts off the manly feeling of Purushabhiman and assumes a spiritual prakriti (feminine) feature and addresses the Lord as such:

Sweeter than sweet art Thou, O Lord of my heart
Make me a serving maid of Thy Feet
I shall not ask Thee anything in return, but shall only serve Thy Feet
Grant me this boon, O my Lord

- Kavi Krishnadas

The heart of the Gopis constantly repeat the following sentiments: “How are the wishes of our beloved Sri Krishna to be satisfied? How are our homes and possessions: body, mind, heart, soul and senses to be utilized so that they may contribute to Sri Krishna’s happiness? Aho! Are not these already His? If they are His, what is the meaning of the desire that He should accept them for His service and make Himself happy through them? We could offer Him things which actually belonged to us, but here all things are His anyway. Does He not exercise undisputed right even over us? Yes, this is the truth. Now we shall say no more. O Lord! Thou art the showman in the puppet-play and we are the puppets, we are instruments in Your Hands.  Do whatever You like with us, whatever You like.”

The Gopis thus cut through the eight shackles to which men of the world are bound to and therefore cannot advance towards Sri Krishna. The Gopis freed themselves from the octopus-grip of these ties. That is how they renounced everything, turning all their thoughts, words and deeds (manasa, karmana, vaachaa) for the satisfaction of Sri Krishna, the most Beloved of their hearts.

When such a state is reached, i.e., when a devotee gives up all thoughts of status, breeding, shame, fear, honour, dishonour, virtue, vice and welfare in this life or after, he shouts like a madman, “O Dearest! O Light of my life, O Enchanter of my heart! I cannot live for a moment more without Your Sight! A moment now seems to me like an age!”

This bhava (ecstatic state of love) is constant among the Gopis of Vraja and it reaches it’s climax in Srimati Radharani who is the embodiment of mahabhava, (supreme ecstasy), casting off all bonds of family, sense of decorum, modesty and fear, on hearing the soul stirring melody of Sri Krishna’s flute.

She offers her life, her youth, her mind, senses and all to Sri Krishna and says, “Whether he clasps me to His Bosom or tramples me under His Feet, whether He inflicts agony on me by denying me His presence, let Him do whatever He likes! Regardless of anything He does, He alone and none other, is the Lord of my heart!” 

When the fire of anguish of separation from Sri Krishna burns her, she says: “Each moment of my life seems like eternity. My eyes are turned into clouds from which pour torrents of rain. Separation from Govinda has made the whole world totally void for me. The days in anguish do not pass. The body is burning through a slow fire. Yet life does not depart!”

Sri Krishna says to Narada Rishi, “There is one more secret, O Narada. It is this, over and above all other endeavours, let one worship Sri Radha for the attainment of Gopi bhava. O Narada, if you desire to capture Me, seek the favour and patronage of My dearest consort Sri Radhika”.

Thirst for this world and hunger for worldly enjoyment is thirst for misery and hankering after death. But thirst for Sri Krishna’s Grace and hankering after love for Him is to seek eternal peace and eternal bliss.

Holy shrines and holy images purify the worshipper after many years, but the very sight of a true devotee of Sri Krishna removes all evil at once and kindles the lamp of love for Sri Krishna.

Parents, husband, children, family and friends are available in every birth, but not so is Guru and Krishna in all births.

Just as the heat of the sun is removed by the rising of the moon, so is the suffering of the devotees from the threefold afflictions removed when their hearts are illumined with the moon beams emitted from the Nails of the Lotus Feet of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna (Bhag. XI 2.54).

(Reproduced from The Harmonist, 2000)