Līlā-rasa attracts all. Now, try to understand the meaning of rāsa-līlā. People think that rāsa-līlā is just dance, drama, kissing, embracing, and joking together. However, rāsa-līlā is kṛṣṇa-rasa, bhakti-rasa, prema-rasa, and vraja-rasa. How will it come? Caitanya-candra brought saṅkīrtana–rasa, which cleanses the heart, takes away all desire for mundane rasa, and opens the doors for aprākṛta-rasa.
First, faith will come. After faith, deep eagerness for following the limbs of bhakti, such as śravaṇam, kīrtanam, smaraṇam, up to ātma-nivedanam, will arise. Śravaṇam, kīrtanam and smaraṇam is sambandha-jñānātmaka-rasa. This bestows realization of one’s eternal relation with Kṛṣṇa and His associates.
Arcanam, vandanam, and pāda-sevanam is abhidheya-jñānātmaka-rasa. Dāsyam, sakhyam, and ātma-nivedanam is prayojana-jñānātmaka-rasa. This rāsa-līlā is līlā dhātu, meaning, the process to make one śobhāyamān, effulgent with pure love. Lilā-śakti and bhagavad-śakti enter within all one’s limbs, making one effulgent with pure love, and bestowing the qualification to enter into the transcendental world.
anugrahāya bhaktānāṁ mānuṣaṁ deham āsthitaḥ
bhajate tādṛśīḥ krīḍā yāḥ śrutvā tat-paro bhavet
In order to bestow mercy upon the devotees as well as the conditioned souls, Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa manifests His humanlike form and performs such extraordinary pastimes (rāsa-līlā) that anyone who hears them becomes exclusively devoted unto Him.
In the transcendental world, this rāsa-līlā is eternally running, but Kṛṣṇa comes and performs rāsa-līlā in this world to lift the conditioned souls out of their attachment to jaḍa-rasa and attract them to the eternal world. By this pastime, Kṛṣṇa gives news of the eternal world and arranges to bring the lost souls home.
First, this saṅkīrtana–rasa will clean us from top to bottom; then the energy of bhakti-rasa will come. Faith will come, and it will increase to deep and firm faith. Then taste, ruci, will arise. Everything will be very sweet at that time performing hari-kathā, kīrtana, harināma, śravaṇa—all our activities will be for God’s service only, and everything will be very tasteful. Not only tasteful, but by serving realization will come.
Our sevā will be natural and direct. Govinda, Dāmodara and Mādhava will always be present with us. In rāsa-līlā, rasa is overflowing, and that is what attracts Kṛṣṇa. He is raso vai sah. If there is mundane rasa—like in our young age, when many witches, ghosts, apsarās, demigods, and brahma-rākṣasas come to attack us—Kṛṣṇa will not come.
Kṛṣṇa’s rāsa-līlā is transcendental. The desire to attain that is necessary for all. Smaraṇa is required. At first it is not possible. When chanting harināma and guru-mantra, the mind goes here and there. When you do guru-mantra, remember Śrī Guru and Vaiṣṇavas and how they serve. Offer praṇāma. Then qualified godbrothers and godsisters will instruct you. They will say, “Sweep here, bring a nice flower, paste candana, bring garlands, wash cloth, arrange tilaka, ācamana, and āsana. Bathe Śrīla Gurudeva and give him a seat. Offer him flowers, incense, cloth, brahmin thread, and so forth.”
Remember and serve Guru-pāda-padma, following the process of arcana, as you chant the mantra that he gave you. Follow the same process of arcana for God. By practicing this for some time, what is to be done next will become clear to you. At night before you sleep, you will already know what to do early in the morning. Everything will be favorable. This is called vihāra.
One name of Kṛṣṇa is Bihārī. He is Vinoda Bihārī, Ramaṇa Bihārī, Bāṅke Bihārī, Rāsa Bihārī. He wanders around playing everywhere. If in any place there is no transcendental rasa, only mundane rasa, Kṛṣṇa will not come there. How can that transcendental rasa come into the heart? When it comes, the heart will be cleansed through and through with mādhurya.
tad ucchvasita-yauvanaṁ tarala-śaiśavālaṁkṛtaṁ
jagat-traya-vimohanam jayati māmakaṁ jīvitam
All glories to Kṛṣṇa, my very life and the enchanter of the three worlds! His now-blooming youth is adorned with the last flickering of childhood. His eyes flashing with delight, He bewilders Cupid with the nectar of His smile. His beauty beguiles at every moment, and out of love He drinks from the mouth of His flute.
Now Kṛṣṇa’s kaiśora age has come. His eyes are restless. His face, forehead, hands, and the rest of His body become reddish with the color of anurāga. He smiles a little, and then Kāmadeva captivates everyone, making them forget everything else.
In the Himalayas there are huge glaciers. When the summer season comes, some of the ice melts and flows down as water. The sun gives heat not only to melt the ice, the sun drinks the water and stores it in the sky, making clouds. They are like big water tanks and are sometimes twenty or thirty kilometers wide. Sometimes they are so big they stretch across the sky without any boundary. The Sun has this capacity—to catch, control and collect water. He sends the thick and dirty water down to the ocean, but what is very clean and sweet he takes up to the sky. He gets rid of pollution in the water and takes only the pure essence.
The Vrajavāsīs have kṛṣṇa-darśana-lālasā. With their two eyes, they collect this rasa. If anyone is greedy, they will collect the sweetness of Kṛṣṇa’s young age with their eyes and keep Him always in their heart. Then Madana’s affect will fill them with sweetness. They will dance, sing and busy themselves in a happy mood. They will never be hopeless, tired, weak or sick. That is the rule of love. By prema, love, all are controlled.
citraṁ tad etac caraṇāravindaṁ
citraṁ tad etan nayanāravindam
citraṁ tad etad vadanāravindaṁ
citraṁ tad etad vapurasya citram
How wondrous are these lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa! How wondrous these lotus eyes! How wondrous this lotus face! Oh, how wondrous, wondrous is His divine form!
Sometimes Citrā-devī, who is an expert artist, paints the feet of that Kiśora Kṛṣṇa, who has His right foot charmingly crossed over His left. The Vraja-devīs are very pleased to see this art. Why? Because, in those feet, Kiśora Kṛṣṇa’s anurāga is present.
At the end of the summer season, at the sight of dark clouds, people understand that the cooling monsoon rain is coming. When the Vraja-devīs see Citrā-devī’s painting of Kṛṣṇa’s feet, they feel that those feet are soon coming to them, like the coming of a rainstorm. They start dancing and doing kīrtana, “Kṛṣṇa is coming!”
Next, Citrā makes a painting of His face. Watching that face, the Vraja-devīs think, “How can we call Him? How can we invite Him here? What will we arrange for Him? Should we make a nice drink, juice, or some sweets?” They do smaraṇa of Kṛṣṇa and long to serve Him, drinking the beauty of His youth with their eyes.
Now Citrā-devī makes a painting of His eyes. He has long eyes, with beautiful eyelids and eyebrows. Kṛṣṇa’s eyes are always very restless. There is no guarantee which way He will look and give some hint. If anyone sees Him eye to eye, then their desire will never go elsewhere.
Now Citrā-devī makes a painting of Kṛṣṇa’s body. Aho! All those who see this painting fall senseless, and they bring Kṛṣṇa directly into their heart.
Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura tells us how to gradually realize and have darśana of the All-Attractive Lord Kṛṣṇa. He says, “Think first of Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet. That nectar will come to you all the way from Vraja-maṇḍala. You will be transported there and will never have a desire to leave.” If you come to Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet, He will take you to His lap or chest and embrace you.
When Gopa Kumāra came to Vṛndāvana, Kṛṣṇa ran and embraced him, saying, “Oh my dear friend! You have come!” Touching Kṛṣṇa, Gopa Kumāra fell senseless in ecstasy. Kṛṣṇa sees us in this material world and thinks, “Why are My friends not with Me? When will they come? Who will come to Me?” He wonders further, “Who has come to Rādhārānī and the Vraja-devīs? Who is staying in Vṛndāvana? Who is near My cows? Who desires these things?”
Then to this world, He sends His boat of harināma.
harināmera naukā khāni śrī guru kāṇḍārī
saṅkīrtana kheroyāla du’ bāhu pasāri
Harināma is the boat, Śrī Guru is the helmsman, and the saṅkīrtana party moving with upraised arms are the oars!
This boat doesn’t set sail without its captain. Śrī Guru comes to us with harināma and calls, “Who wants to come on my boat? I am the captain. Come on my boat, and I will carry you to Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet.”
Gurudeva brings us with this boat to Kṛṣṇa’s outstretched arms. But before Kṛṣṇa sends the boat, He looks closely with His all-seeing, ever-so-restless eyes, and considers, “Who has the desire to come? To them, I will send My boat of harināma and bring them to Me in Vṛndāvana.”
hṛdoya pīḍita jā’ra, kṛṣṇa cikitsaka tā’ra,
bhava-roga nāśite catura
krame loya nija antaḥpura
Kṛṣṇa is the doctor for those whose hearts are ailing, as He is very expert at destroying the diseased condition of material existence. By distributing the nectar of ecstatic love to all the inimical souls, He gradually takes them back into His own confidential realm.
If a distressed person, who is tired of suffering in material existence for so long, cries out, “O Kṛṣṇa! O Puṇḍarīkākṣa! Save me. No one else is my protector!” then Kṛṣṇa will help him. He may be a baby, an old man or woman in an old-home, a dying person, or a beggar starving on the street—whoever he is, Kṛṣṇa will immediately arrange all help. Kṛṣṇa will soothe him with His sweet words. He will send good friends to help. He will give him treatment and change his nature.
Then Kṛṣṇa will be very happy. What will He do next? He will give rati, and He will make one eternally youthful. When someone reaches this stage, he will be pleasing to everyone around because of his constant remembrance of Kṛṣṇa. If Kṛṣṇa likes a person, then all will like him. Tasmin tuṣṭe jagat tuṣṭaḥ.
If Kṛṣṇa does not like someone, then no one in the world will like that person or wish to have anything to do with him. But if Kṛṣṇa is pleased with anyone, then the whole world will be as well.
How is Kṛṣṇa’s figure? Citrā-devī paints Kṛṣṇa’s divine form for the world to see. Then people can observe Him. They don’t know—sometimes they go to a temple of Kṛṣṇa or near His deity or glance at His picture, but automatically the work begins. They think, “This picture is nothing but a piece of art.” But only viewing this once is enough. Then the work begins. This is more powerful than a magnet or anything else. This power is unlimited. He will send all help, one after another. Kṛṣṇa sends one, and you forget, then He will send another. He thinks, “Why didn’t he come? Why hasn’t he changed yet?” He will help like this.
I bow down to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is the only ornament of the entire world, yet who is ornamented by the pitcher-like breasts of Śrī Rādhā. He is the great, central jewel among the necklace of emerald-like young girls of Vraja.
In this world, all things are Kṛṣṇa’s property. Kṛṣṇa is like an ornament for the devotees. This is Kṛṣṇa’s beauty. When Kṛṣṇa sees that His devotees are dancing, singing, and playing, and He becomes very happy. This is Kṛṣṇa’s ornament. Kṛṣṇa decorates His body with His devotees. This is Kṛṣṇa’s sweetness. When a person studies and becomes expert in some field, then this qualification is his ornament. But Kṛṣṇa’s ornaments are all His pure devotees.
Mahā Lakṣmī gives gold, pearls, diamonds, and mundane wealth. This is her decoration and ornament, her power and capacity. But Kṛṣṇa doesn’t give anything like this—any stone or mundane thing—Kṛṣṇa gives the sweetness of Vraja anurāga. The Vraja-devīs decorate Kṛṣṇa with flowers, creepers, leaves, and peacock feathers. Kṛṣṇa wears that and becomes very happy. But really, all over the world, Kṛṣṇa’s most important ornaments are His followers. Lotuses are the decorations of a lake. In the same way, if any devotee’s heart has Kṛṣṇa present there, this is their decoration, and the devotees are the decorations in Kṛṣṇa’s heart.
Prahlāda Mahārāja came in a demon family, but he was the ornament in the dynasty of demons. Dhruva came and decorated his dynasty, and so many other devotees come in this world and are the decorations of this world. In the early morning after the rain, if you look west, you may see a rainbow with seven colors decorating the sky. It is very beautiful and attracts your heart. Watching this, you feel great pleasure. In the same way, if anyone remembers Kṛṣṇa—His qualities, color, form—all that appears in the heart.
Śrīmatī Rādhārānī understands Kṛṣṇa’s desire and decorates Herself accordingly. When Kṛṣṇa watches Her later, He begins to sweat and thinks, “How is this possible? How does She understand My heart? My desire is ever-present with Her. How She combs Her hair! How Her body is covered with mehendi, kuṁkuma and karpura! The perfume She uses!” Kṛṣṇa’s earrings, peacock feather, and so many things of His are imprinted on Her saree. She also feels great bliss, for all She does is for the happiness of Kṛṣṇa.
Bilavamangala Thakur ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Sri Krsna-Karnamrta”. Available from: firstname.lastname@example.org )