The Glorious Characteristics of Vatsalya-lila

BY: SUN STAFF - 27.11 2020

Sri Krsna tied to the mortar, with Yamalarjuna above
Trichinopoly, c. 1820
Victoria and Albert Museum


In his Dig-darsini-tika to Text 8 of Sri Sri Damodarastakam, Srila Sanatana Gosvami describes the transcendental nature of Lord Damodar's belly, which was bound by Mother Yasoda's rope, and the mood of vatsalya-lila:

namas te 'stu damne sphurad dipti-dhamne
tvadiyodarayatha visvasya dhamne
namo radhikayai tvadiya priyayai
namo 'nanta-lilaya devaya tubhyam
(Damodarastakam, Text 8)

Srila Sanatana's commentary:

"After that, tvadiyaya udaraya namo 'stu - I bow to Your belly. The reason for this is because while bound with ropes, You especially manifest the beauty and other qualities of Your belly as well as the glorious characteristics of vatsalya-lila and other pastimes. What is that belly like? It is stated visvasya dhama - that belly is the support for all the universes in creation, including all the stationary and moving beings contained therein. From the lotus navel on His abdomen has sprouted a gigantic lotus flower that sustains the fourteen worlds. Additionally, (during His childhood pastimes in Vrndavana) He bodily displayed the visva-rupa or universal form to His mother on two occasions. This is another indication. Therefore, in such a pastime of binding Him by the waist, mother Yasoda bound up the whole universe, indeed, she brought the entire creation under her control. This is the proclamation."

Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Goswami, mentioned this visuddha-vatsalya rasa of Yasoda Ma in terms of Lord Damodar's bhaktadhinataquality, or His willingness to be controlled by His pure devotee:

"Sri Krsna-candra, Who is achintyananta-saktiman bhagavan - the Supreme Personality of Godhead and potent source of inconceivably limitless energies - allowed Mata Yasoda to bind Him with ropes to a wooden grinding mortar. By this pastime, He fully tasted the essence of her visuddha-vatsalya-prema-rasa, the totally pure spiritual mellows of her parental love. He also thereby revealed to the world the highest characteristics of His quality of bhaktadhinata, or willingness to subject Himself to the dominance of the devotee. This supremely enchanting dama-bandhana-lila was manifested on the day of Karttika-sukla pratipada - the day after the dark moon day in the month of Karttika. This is also the primary reason for the perfectly glorious month of Karttika becoming famous by the name of Damodara."

In Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 19 (228-230), Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu explains to Srila Rupa Gosvami the nature of this willingness to be controlled in terms of the different rasas one can have with Krsna. In the sakhya, vatsalya and madhurya rasas, the devotee has no sense of awe or veneration for the Lord, but only a mood of friendship, parental or conjugal love. In his Bhaktivedanta Purport to verse 230, Srila Prabhupada refers to a verse from the Damodarastaka in Padma Purana in this regard.


Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila 19:

TEXT 228

apanare 'palaka' jnana, krsne 'palya'-jnana
'cari' gune vatsalya rasa----amrta-samana

"On the platform of paternal love, the devotee considers himself the Lord's maintainer. Thus the Lord is the object of maintenance, like a son, and therefore this mellow is full of the four qualities of santa-rasa, dasya-rasa, fraternity and parental love. This is more transcendental nectar.

In his Amrta-pravaha-bhasya, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura gives us a short summary of this complicated description of the different rasas. He states that by becoming firmly fixed in the Lord's service, one is devoid of all material desires. There are two transcendental qualities on the santa-rasa platform. In all the material elements, sound vibration is found. Similarly, santa-rasa is spread over all the other transcendental mellows, which are known as dasya-rasa, sakhya-rasa, vatsalya-rasa and madhura-rasa. Although there is attachment for Krsna in awe and veneration in the santa-rasa along with two valuable transcendental qualities -attachment for Krsna and detachment from material desires-nonetheless the sense of intimacy is lacking. Therefore in the santa-rasa, attachment for impersonal Brahman and localized Paramatma is prominent. The sense of intimacy is lacking. By that intimacy one thinks of Krsna as one's only shelter and only friend. In the santa-rasa one accepts Krsna as the impersonal Param Brahma or the localized Paramatma. This is based on the speculative knowledge of the jnani. However, when this knowledge is further developed, one is convinced that Paramatma, the Supreme Lord, is master and that the living entity is His eternal servant. One then attains the platform of dasya-rasa. In dasya-rasa the Lord is accepted with awe and veneration. However, although in the santa-rasa there is no active service, in the dasya-rasa active service is prominent. Thus in the dasya-rasa, the qualities of santa-rasa and service are predominantly visible. Similarly, when this same rasa is developed into fraternity (sakhya-rasa), a friendly intimacy is added. There is no awe or veneration in the sakhya-rasa.The sakhya-rasa is invested with three qualities-santa, dasya, and sakhya. Similarly, on the platform of parental love, the qualities of santa-rasa and dasya-rasa are fully developed in another form-the sense of maintaining the Lord. Therefore on the platform of parental love there exists a combination of four transcendental qualities-santa, dasya, sakhya, and the qualities of paternity, which put the devotee in the position of a maintainer. Thus on the platform of parental love the four qualities of transcendental love are present.

TEXT 229

se amrtanande bhakta saha dubena apane
'krsna----bhakta-vasa' guna kahe aisvarya-jnani-gane

"The exchange of spiritual happiness between Krsna and His devotee, in which Krsna is controlled by His devotee, is compared to an ocean of nectar into which the devotee and Krsna plunge. This is the verdict of learned scholars who appreciate Krsna's opulence.

TEXT 230

itidrk-svalilabhir ananda-kunde
svaghosam nimajjantam akhyapayantam
tadiyesita-jnesu bhaktair jitatvam
punah prematas tam satavrtti vande

"'Again let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. O my Lord, I offer my obeisances hundreds and thousands of times with all affection because by Your personal pastimes You plunge the gopis into an ocean of nectar. Appreciating Your opulence, devotees generally declare that You are always subjugated by their feelings.'

This verse is from the Damodarastaka in the Padma Purana. Attachment for Krsna in santa-rasa, rendering service to the Lord in dasya-rasa, rendering relaxed service in fraternity, and serving in parental love with feelings of maintenance all combine on the platform of conjugal love when the devotee wants to serve the Lord by offering Him his personal body. Thus the qualities of the other rasas combine to form the nectar of conjugal love. On this platform, all the different feelings of a devotee are amalgamated."

The glories of vatsalya-lila are also elaborated in the 10th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, wherein Sukadeva Goswami explains to Pariksit Maharaja the qualities of prema-bhakti demonstrated by Mother Yasoda.

Srimad Bhagavatam 10.8.45

trayya copanisadbhis ca
sankhya-yogais ca satvataih
harim samanyatatmajam

The glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are studied through the three Vedas, the Upanisads, the literature of Sankhya-yoga, and other Vaisnava literature, yet mother Yasoda considered that Supreme Person her ordinary child.

As stated in Bhagavad-gita (15.15) by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, the purpose of studying the Vedas is to understand Him (vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah). Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu explained to Sanatana Gosvami that there are three purposes in the Vedas. One is to understand our relationship with Krsna (sambandha), another is to act according to that relationship (abhidheya), and the third is to reach the ultimate goal (prayojana). The word prayojana means "necessities," and the ultimate necessity is explained by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. prema pum-artho mahan: the greatest necessity for a human being is the achievement of love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Here we see that mother Yasoda is on the highest stage of necessity, for she is completely absorbed in love for Krsna.

In the beginning, the Vedic purpose is pursued in three ways (trayi) -- by karma-kanda, jnana-kanda and upasana-kanda. When one reaches the complete, perfect stage of upasana-kanda, one comes to worship Narayana, or Lord Visnu. When Parvati asked Lord Mahadeva, Lord Siva, what is the best method of upasana, or worship, Lord Siva answered, aradhananam sarvesam visnor aradhanam param. Visnupasana, or visnv-aradhana, worship of Lord Visnu, is the highest stage of perfection, as realized by Devaki. But here mother Yasoda performs no upasana, for she has developed transcendental ecstatic love for Krsna. Therefore her position is better than that of Devaki. In order to show this, Srila Vyasadeva enunciates this verse, trayya copanisadbhih etc.

When a human being enters into the study of the Vedas to obtain vidya, knowledge, he begins to take part in human civilization. Then he advances further to study the Upanisads and gain brahma jnana, impersonal realization of the Absolute Truth, and then he advances still further, to sankhya-yoga, in order to understand the supreme controller, who is indicated in Bhagavad-gita (param brahma param dhama pavitram paramam bhavan/purusam sasvatam [Bg. 10.12]). When one understands that purusa, the supreme controller, to be Paramatma, one is engaged in the method of yoga (dhyanavasthita-tad-gatena manasa pasyanti yam yoginah [SB 12.13.1]). But mother Yasoda has surpassed all these stages. She has come to the platform of loving Krsna as her beloved child, and therefore she is accepted to be on the highest stage of spiritual realization. The Absolute Truth is realized in three features (brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate), but she is in such ecstasy that she does not care to understand what is Brahman, what is Paramatma or what is Bhagavan. Bhagavan has personally descended to become her beloved child. Therefore there is no comparison to mother Yasoda's good fortune, as declared by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu (ramya kacid upasana vrajavadhu-vargena ya kalpita). The Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, may be realized in different stages. As the Lord says in Bhagavad-gita (4.11):

ye yatha mam prapadyante
tams tathaiva bhajamy aham
mama vartmanuvartante
manusyah partha sarvasah

"As men surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Prtha." One may be a karmi, a jnani, a yogi and then a bhakta or prema-bhakta. But the ultimate stage of realization is prema-bhakti, as actually demonstrated by mother Yasoda."

Just as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu described in SB 10.8.45 the complete absorption in love of Krsna (prema pum-artho mahan) that is demonstrated by Mother Yasoda, similarly Lord Caitanya's own father exemplifies this mood. In Caitanya- caritamrita Adi-lila 14, there is a pastime described wherein Jagannatha Misra had a dream in which he exemplified vatsalya-rasa, being absorbed in the unalloyed mellows of parental love for his son, Sri Gaurahari.


Caitanya-caritamrita Adi-lila 14.83-91:


eka-dina misra putrera capalya dekhiya
dharma-siksa dila bahu bhartsana kariya

On another occasion, Jagannatha Misra, seeing the mischievous acts of his son, gave Him lessons in morality after rebuking Him greatly.


ratre svapna dekhe,----eka asi' brahmana
misrere kahaye kichu sa-rosa vacana

On that very night, Jagannatha Misra dreamt that a brahmana had come before him speaking these words in great anger:


"misra, tumi putrera tattva kichui na jana
bhartsana-tadana kara,----putra kari' mana"

"My dear Misra, you do not know anything about your son. You think Him your son, and therefore you rebuke and chastise Him."


misra kahe,----deva, siddha, muni kene naya
ye se bada ha-uk matra amara tanaya

Jagannatha Misra replied, "This boy may be a demigod, a mystic yogi or a great saintly person. It doesn't matter what He is, for I think He is only my son.


putrera lalana-siksa----pitara sva-dharma
ami na sikhale kaiche janibe dharma-marma

"It is the duty of a father to educate his son in both religion and morality. If I do not give Him this education, how will He know of it?"


vipra kahe,----putra yadi daiva-siddha haya
svatah-siddha-jnana, tabe siksa vyartha haya

The brahmana replied, "If your son is a transcendental mystic boy with self-effulgent perfect knowledge, what is the use of your education?"

The brahmana Jagannatha Misra saw in his dream told him that his son was not an ordinary human being. If He were a transcendental person, He would have self-effulgent knowledge, and thus there would be no need to educate Him.


misra kahe,----"putra kene nahe narayana
tathapi pitara dharma----putrera siksana"

Jagannatha Misra replied, "Even if my son is not a common man but Narayana, still it is the duty of a father to instruct his son."


ei-mate dunhe karena dharmera vicara
visuddha-vatsalya misrera, nahi jane ara

In this way Jagannatha Misra and the brahmana discussed the principles of religion in the dream, yet Jagannatha Misra was absorbed in unalloyed parental mellow and did not want to know anything else.

In Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.8.45) it is said: "Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is worshiped with exalted hymns by all the Vedas and Upanisads and by great personalities through sankhya-yoga in the mode of goodness, was considered by mother Yasoda and Nanda to be their own little son." Similarly, Jagannatha Misra also considered Lord Caitanya Mahaprahhu his beloved little boy, although He is worshiped with all veneration by learned brahmanas and saintly persons.


eta suni' dvija gela hana anandita
misra jagiya ha-ila parama vismita

Being very much pleased, the brahmana left after talking with Jagannatha Misra, and when Jagannatha Misra awakened from his dream, he was very much astonished.


bandhu-bandhava-sthane svapna kahila
suniya sakala loka vismita ha-ila

He related the dream to his friends and relatives, and every one of them was very much astonished to hear of it.


ei mata sisu-lila kare gauracandra
dine dine pita-matara badaya ananda

In this way Gaurahari performed His childhood pastimes and day after day increased the pleasure of His parents."