32. Description of the Rasa Dance

32 / Description of the Räsa Dance
Thus hearing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kåñëa, speaking to pacify them, the gopés became very much pleased. And not only by hearing His words, but also by touching the hands and legs of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they became completely relieved from the great suffering of separation. After this, the Supreme Personality of Godhead began His räsa dance. When one dances in the midst of many girls, it is called a räsa dance. So Kåñëa began to dance among the most beautiful and fortunate girls within the three worlds. The gopés of Våndävana, who were so attracted to Him, danced with Kåñëa, hand in hand.
Kåñëa's räsa dance should never be compared with any kind of material dance, such as a ball dance or a society dance. The räsa dance is a completely spiritual performance. In order to establish this fact, Kåñëa, the supreme mystic, expanded Himself in many forms and stood beside each gopé. Placing His hands on the shoulders of the gopés on both sides of Him, He began to dance in their midst. The mystic expansions of Kåñëa were not perceived by the gopés because Kåñëa appeared alone to each of them. Each gopé thought that Kåñëa was dancing with her alone. Above that wonderful dance flew many airplanes carrying the denizens of the heavenly planets, who were very anxious to see the wonderful dance of Kåñëa with the gopés. The Gandharvas and the Kinnaras began to sing, and, accompanied by their respective wives, all the Gandharvas began to shower flowers on the dancers.
As the gopés and Kåñëa danced together, a very blissful musical sound was produced from the tinkling of their bells, ornaments and bangles. It appeared that Kåñëa was a greenish sapphire locket in the midst of a golden necklace decorated with valuable stones. While Kåñëa and the gopés danced they displayed extraordinary bodily features. The movements of their legs, their placing their hands on one another, the movements of their eyebrows, their smiling, the movements of the breasts of the gopés and their clothes, their earrings, their cheeks, their hair with flowers--as they sang and danced these combined together to appear like clouds, thunder, snow and lightning. Kåñëa's bodily features appeared just like a group of clouds, their songs were like thunder, the beauty of the gopés appeared to be just like lightning in the sky, and the drops of perspiration visible on their faces appeared like falling snow. In this way, both the gopés and Kåñëa fully engaged in dancing.
The necks of the gopés became tinted with red due to their desire to enjoy Kåñëa more and more. To satisfy them, Kåñëa began to clap His hands in time with their singing. Actually the whole world is full of Kåñëa's singing, but it is appreciated in different ways by different kinds of living entities. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gétä: ye yathä mäà prapadyante. Kåñëa is dancing, and every living entity is also dancing, but there is a difference in the dancing in the spiritual world and in the material world. This is expressed by the author of Caitanya-caritämåta, who says that the master dancer is Kåñëa and everyone is His servant. Everyone is trying to imitate Kåñëa's dancing. Those who are actually in Kåñëa consciousness respond rightly to the dancing of Kåñëa: they do not try to dance independently. But those in the material world try to imitate Kåñëa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The living entities are dancing under the direction of Kåñëa's mäyä and are thinking that they are equal to Kåñëa. But this is not a fact. In Kåñëa consciousness, this misconception is absent, for a person in Kåñëa consciousness knows that Kåñëa is the supreme master and everyone is His servant. One has to dance to please Kåñëa, not to imitate or to become equal to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The gopés wanted to please Kåñëa, and therefore as Kåñëa sang, they responded and encouraged Him by saying, "Well done, well done." Sometimes they presented beautiful music for His pleasure, and He responded by praising their singing.
When some of the gopés became very tired from dancing and moving their bodies, they placed their hands on the shoulders of Çré Kåñëa. Then their hair loosened and flowers fell to the ground. When they placed their hands on Kåñëa's shoulder they became overwhelmed by the fragrance of His body which emanated from the lotus, other aromatic flowers, and the pulp of sandalwood. They became filled with attraction for Him, and they began to kiss one another. Some gopés touched Kåñëa cheek to cheek, and Kåñëa began to offer them chewed betel nuts from His mouth, which they exchanged with great pleasure by kissing. And by accepting those betel nuts, the gopés spiritually advanced.
The gopés became tired after long singing and dancing. Kåñëa was dancing beside them, and to alleviate their fatigue they took Çré Kåñëa's hand and placed it on their raised breasts. Kåñëa's hand, as well as the breasts of the gopés, are eternally auspicious; therefore when they combined, both of them became spiritually enhanced. The gopés so enjoyed the company of Kåñëa, the husband of the goddess of fortune, that they forgot that they had any other husband in the world, and upon being embraced by the arms of Kåñëa and dancing and singing with Him, they forgot everything. The Çrémad-Bhägavatam thus describes the beauty of the gopés while they were räsa dancing with Kåñëa. There were lotus flowers over both their ears, and their faces were decorated with sandalwood pulp. They wore tilaka, and there were drops of sweat on their smiling mouths. From their feet came the tinkling sound of ankle bells as well as bangles. The flowers within their hair were falling to the lotus feet of Kåñëa, and He was very satisfied.
As stated in the Brahma-saàhitä, all these gopés are expansions of Kåñëa's pleasure potency. Touching their bodies with His hands and looking at their pleasing eyes, Kåñëa enjoyed the gopés exactly as a child enjoys playing with the reflection of his body in a mirror. When Kåñëa touched the different parts of their bodies, the gopés felt surcharged with spiritual energy. They could not adjust their loosened clothes, although they tried to keep them properly. Their hair and garments became scattered, and their ornaments loosened as they forgot themselves in company with Kåñëa.
While Kåñëa was enjoying the company of the gopés in the räsa dance, the astonished demigods and their wives gathered in the sky. The moon, being afflicted with a sort of lust, began to watch the dance and became stunned with wonder. The gopés had prayed to the goddess Kätyäyané to have Kåñëa as their husband. Now Kåñëa was fulfilling their desire by expanding Himself in as many forms as there were gopés and enjoying them exactly as a husband.
Çréla Çukadeva Gosvämé has remarked that Kåñëa is self-sufficient--He is ätmäräma. He doesn't need anyone else for His satisfaction. Because the gopés wanted Kåñëa as their husband, He fulfilled their desire. When Kåñëa saw that the gopés were tired from dancing with Him, He immediately began to smear His hands over their faces so that their fatigue would be satiated. In order to reciprocate the kind hospitality of Kåñëa, the gopés began to look at Him lovingly. They were overjoyed by the auspicious touch of the hand of Kåñëa. Their smiling cheeks shone with beauty, and they began to sing the glories of Kåñëa with transcendental pleasure. As pure devotees, the more the gopés enjoyed Kåñëa's company, the more they became enlightened with His glories, and thus they reciprocated with Him. They wanted to satisfy Kåñëa by glorifying His transcendental pastimes. Kåñëa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of all masters, and the gopés wanted to worship Him for His unusual exhibition of mercy upon them.
Both the gopés and Kåñëa entered the water of the Yamunä just to relieve their fatigue from the räsa dance. The lily flower garlands around the necks of the gopés were strewn to pieces due to their embracing the body of Kåñëa, and the flowers were reddish from being smeared with the kuìkuma on their breasts. The bumblebees were humming about in order to get honey from the flowers. Kåñëa and the gopés entered the water of Yamunä just as an elephant enters a water tank with his many female companions. Both the gopés and Kåñëa forgot their real identity, playing in the water, enjoying each others' company and relieving the fatigue of räsa dancing. The gopés began to splash water on the body of Kåñëa, all the while smiling, and Kåñëa enjoyed this. As Kåñëa was taking pleasure in the joking words and splashing water, the demigods in the heavenly planets began to shower flowers. The demigods thus praised the superexcellent räsa dance of Kåñëa, the supreme enjoyer, and His pastimes with the gopés in the water of Yamunä.
After this, Lord Kåñëa and the gopés came out of the water and began to stroll along the bank of the Yamunä, where a nice breeze was blowing, carrying the aroma of different kinds of flowers over the water and land. While strolling on the bank of the Yamunä, Kåñëa recited various kinds of poetry. He thus enjoyed the company of the gopés in the soothing moonlight of autumn.
Sex desire is especially excited in the autumn season, but the wonderful thing about Kåñëa's association with the gopés is that there was no question of sex desire. It was, as clearly stated in the Bhägavata description by Çukadeva Gosvämé, avaruddha-saurataù, namely the sex impulse was completely controlled. There is a distinction between Lord Kåñëa's dancing with the gopés and the ordinary dancing of living entities within the material world. In order to clear up further misconceptions about the räsa dance and the affairs of Kåñëa and the gopés, Mahäräja Parékñit, the hearer of Çrémad-Bhägavatam, told Çukadeva Gosvämé, "Kåñëa appeared on the earth to establish the regulative principles of religion and to curb the predominance of irreligion. But the behavior of Kåñëa and the gopés might encourage irreligious principles in the material world. I am simply surprised that He would act in such a way, enjoying the company of others' wives in the dead of night." This statement of Mahäräja Parékñit's was very much appreciated by Çukadeva Gosvämé. The answer anticipates the abominable acts of the Mäyävädé impersonalists who place themselves in the position of Kåñëa and enjoy the company of young girls and women.
The basic Vedic injunctions never allow a person to enjoy sex with any woman except one's own wife. Kåñëa's appreciation of the gopés appeared to be distinctly in violation of these rules. Mahäräja Parékñit understood the total situation from Çukadeva Gosvämé, yet to further clear the transcendental nature of Kåñëa and the gopés in räsa dance, he expressed his surprise. This is very important in order to check the unrestricted association with women by the prakåta-sahajiyä.
In his statement, Mahäräja Parékñit has used several important words which require clarification. The first word, jugupsitam, means abominable. The first doubt of Mahäräja Parékñit was as follows: Lord Kåñëa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead who has advented Himself to establish religious principles. Why then did He mix with others' wives in the dead of night and enjoy dancing, embracing and kissing? According to the Vedic injunctions, this is not allowed. Also, when the gopés first came to Him, He gave instructions to them to return to their homes. To call the wives of other persons or young girls and enjoy dancing with them is certainly abominable according to the Vedas. Why should Kåñëa have done this?
Another word used here is äptakäma. Some may take it for granted that Kåñëa was very lusty among young girls, but Parékñit Mahäräja said that this was not possible. He could not be lusty. First of all, from the material calculation He was only eight years old. At that age a boy cannot be lusty. Äptakäma means that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is self-satisfied. Even if He were lusty, He doesn't need to take help from others to satisfy His lusty desires. The next point is that, although not lusty Himself, He might have been induced by the lusty desires of the gopés. But Mahäräja Parékñit then used another word, yadu-pati, which indicates that Kåñëa is the most exalted personality in the dynasty of the Yadus. The kings in the dynasty of Yadu were considered to be the most pious, and their descendants were also like that. Having taken birth in that family, how could Kåñëa have been induced, even by the gopés? It is concluded, therefore, that it was not possible for Kåñëa to do anything abominable. But Mahäräja Parékñit was in doubt as to why Kåñëa acted in that way. What was the real purpose?
Another word Mahäräja Parékñit used when he addressed Çukadeva Gosvämé is suvrata, which means to take a vow to enact pious activities. Çukadeva Gosvämé was an educated brahmacäré, and under the circumstances, it was not possible for him to indulge in sex. This is strictly prohibited for brahmacärés, and what to speak of a brahmacäré like Çukadeva Gosvämé. But because the circumstances of the räsa dance were very suspect, Mahäräja Parékñit inquired for clarification from Çukadeva Gosvämé. Çukadeva Gosvämé immediately replied that transgressions of religious principles by the supreme controller testify to His great power. For example, fire can consume any abominable thing; that is the manifestation of the supremacy of fire. Similarly, the sun can absorb water from a urinal or from stool, and the sun is not polluted; rather, due to the influence of sunshine, the polluted, contaminated place becomes disinfected and sterilized.
One may also argue that since Kåñëa is the supreme authority, His activities should be followed. In answer to this question, Çukadeva Gosvämé has very clearly said that éçvaraëam, or the supreme controller, may sometimes violate His instructions, but this is only possible for the controller Himself, not for the followers. Unusual and uncommon activities by the controller can never be imitated. Çukadeva Gosvämé warned that the conditioned followers, who are not actually in control, should never even imagine imitating the uncommon activities of the controller. A Mäyävädé philosopher may falsely claim to be God or Kåñëa, but he cannot actually act like Kåñëa. He can persuade his followers to falsely imitate räsa dance, but he is unable to lift Govardhana Hill. We have many experiences in the past of Mäyävädé rascals deluding their followers by posing themselves as Kåñëa in order to enjoy räsa-lélä. In many instances they were checked by the government, arrested and punished. In Orissa, –häkur Bhaktivinode also punished a so-called incarnation of Viñëu, who was imitating räsa-lélä with young girls. There were many complaints against him. At that time, Bhaktivinode –häkur was magistrate, and the government deputed him to deal with that rascal, and he punished him very severely. The räsa-lélä dance cannot be imitated by anyone. Çukadeva Gosvämé warns that one should not even think of imitating it. He specifically mentions that if, out of foolishness, one tries to imitate Kåñëa's räsa dance, he will be killed, just like a person who wants to imitate Lord Çiva's drinking of an ocean of poison. Lord Çiva drank an ocean of poison and kept it within his throat. The poison made his throat turn blue; and therefore Lord Çiva is called Nélakaëöa. But if any ordinary person tries to imitate Lord Çiva by drinking poison or smoking gaïja, he is sure to be vanquished and will die within a very short time. Lord Çré Kåñëa's dealing with the gopés was under special circumstances.
Most of the gopés in their previous lives were great sages, expert in the studies of the Vedas, and when Lord Kåñëa appeared as Lord Rämacandra they wanted to enjoy with Him. Lord Rämacandra gave them the benediction that their desires would be fulfilled when He would appear as Kåñëa. Therefore the desire of the gopés to enjoy the appearance of Lord Kåñëa was long cherished. So they approached goddess Kätyäyané to have Kåñëa as their husband. There are many other circumstances also which testify to the supreme authority of Kåñëa and show that He is not bound to the rules and regulations of the material world. In special cases, He acts as He likes to favor His devotees. This is only possible for Him, because He is the supreme controller. People in general should follow the instructions of Lord Kåñëa as given in the Bhagavad-gétä and should not even imagine imitating Lord Kåñëa in the räsa dance.
Kåñëa's lifting of Govardhana Hill, His killing great demons like Pütanä and others are all obviously extraordinary activities. Similarly, the räsa dance is also an uncommon activity and cannot be imitated by any ordinary man. An ordinary person engaged in his occupational duty, like Arjuna, should execute his duty for the satisfaction of Kåñëa; that is within his power. Arjuna was a fighter, and Kåñëa wanted him to fight for His satisfaction. Arjuna agreed, although at first he was not willing to fight. Duties are required for ordinary persons. They should not jump up and try to imitate Kåñëa and indulge in räsa-lélä and thus bring about their ruin. One should know with certainty that Kåñëa had no personal interest in whatever He did for the benediction of the gopés. As stated in the Bhagavad-gétä, na mäà karmäëi limpanti: Kåñëa never enjoys or suffers the result of His activities. Therefore it is not possible for Him to act irreligiously. He is transcendental to all activities and religious principles. He is untouched by the modes of material nature. He is the supreme controller of all living entities, either in human society, in the demigod society in heavenly planets, or in lower forms of life. He is the supreme controller of all living entities and of material nature; therefore, He has nothing to do with religious or irreligious principles.
Çukadeva Gosvämé further concludes that the great sages and devotees, who are washed clean of all conditional life, can move freely even within the contamination of material nature by keeping Kåñëa the Supreme Personality of Godhead within their hearts. In this way also they do not become subject to the laws of pleasure and pain in the modes of material nature. How, then, is it possible for Kåñëa, who appears in His own internal potency, to be subjected to the laws of karma?
In the Bhagavad-gétä the Lord clearly says that whenever He appears He does so by His internal potency; He is not forced to accept a body by the laws of karma like an ordinary living entity. Every other living entity is forced to accept a certain type of body by his previous actions. But when Kåñëa appears, He always appears in a body; it is not forced upon Him by the action of His past deeds. His body is a vehicle for His transcendental pleasure which is enacted by His internal potency. He has no obligation to the laws of karma. The Mäyävädé monist must accept a certain type of body, being forced by the laws of nature; therefore, his claim to be one with Kåñëa or God is only theoretical. Such persons who claim to be equal with Kåñëa and indulge in räsa-lélä create a dangerous situation for the people in general. Kåñëa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is already present as Supersoul within the bodies of the gopés and their husbands. He is the guide of all living entities, as is confirmed in the Kaöha Upaniñad, nityo nityänäà cetanaç cetanänäm. The Supersoul directs the individual soul to act, and the Supersoul is the actor and witness of all action.
It is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gétä that Kåñëa is present in everyone's heart, and from Him come all action, remembrance and forgetfulness. He is the original person to be known by Vedic knowledge. He is the author of Vedänta philosophy, and He knows the Vedänta philosophy perfectly well. The so-called Vedäntists and Mäyävädés cannot understand Kåñëa as He is; they simply mislead followers by imitating the actions of Kåñëa in an unauthorized way. Kåñëa, the Supersoul of everyone, is already within the body of everyone; therefore if He sees someone or embraces someone there is no question of propriety.
Some ask that if Kåñëa is self-sufficient, why should He at all manifest pastimes with the gopés, which are disturbing to the so-called moralists of the world? The answer is that such activities show special mercy to the fallen, conditioned souls. The gopés are also expansions of His internal energy, but because Kåñëa wanted to exhibit the räsa-lélä, they also appeared as ordinary human beings. In the material world, pleasure is ultimately manifested in the sex attraction between man and woman. The man lives simply to be attracted by women, and the woman lives simply to be attracted by men. That is the basic principle of material life. As soon as these attractions are combined, people become more and more implicated in material existence. In order to show them special favor, Kåñëa exhibited this räsa-lélä dance. It is just to captivate the conditioned soul. Since they are very much attracted by sexology, they can enjoy the same life with Kåñëa and thus become liberated from the material condition. In the Second Canto of Çrémad-Bhägavatam, Mahäräja Parékñit also explains that the pastimes and activities of Lord Kåñëa are medicine for the conditioned souls. If they simply hear about Kåñëa they become relieved from the material disease. They are addicted to material enjoyment and are accustomed to reading sex literature, but by hearing these transcendental pastimes of Kåñëa with the gopés, they will be relieved from material contamination.
How they should hear and from whom is also explained by Çukadeva Gosvämé. The difficulty is that the whole world is full of Mäyävädés, and when they become professional reciters of Çrémad-Bhägavatam, and when people, without knowing the effect of the Mäyäväda philosophy, hear from such persons, they become confused. Discussion of räsa-lélä among people in general is not recommended because they are affected by the Mäyäväda philosophy, but if one who is advanced explains, and people hear from him, certainly the hearers will be gradually elevated to the position of Kåñëa consciousness and liberated from materially contaminated life.
Another important point is that all the gopés who danced with Kåñëa were not in their material bodies. They danced with Kåñëa in their spiritual bodies. All their husbands thought that their wives were sleeping by their sides. The so-called husbands of the gopés were already enamored by the influence of the external energy of Kåñëa; so by dint of this very energy they could not understand that their wives had gone to dance with Kåñëa. What then is the basis of accusing Kåñëa of dancing with others' wives? The bodies of the gopés, which were their husbands', were lying in bed, but the spiritual parts and parcels of Kåñëa were dancing with Him. Kåñëa is the supreme person, the whole spirit, and He danced with the spiritual bodies of the gopés. There is therefore no reason to accuse Kåñëa in any way.
After the räsa dance was over, the night turned into the brähma-muhürta (the night of Brahmä, a very, very long period, as mentioned in the Bhagavad-gétä). The brähma-muhürta takes place about one and a half hours before sunrise. It is recommended that one should rise from bed at that time and, after finishing daily ablutions, take to spiritual activities by performing Maìgala-ärätrika and chanting the Hare Kåñëa mantra. This period is very convenient for the execution of spiritual activities. When that auspicious moment arrived, Kåñëa asked the gopés to leave. Although they were not willing to quit His company, they were very obedient and dear to Him. As soon as Kåñëa asked them to go home, they immediately left and returned home. Çukadeva Gosvämé concludes this episode of räsa-lélä by pointing out that if a person hears from the right source of the pastimes of Kåñëa, who is Viñëu Himself, and the gopés, who are expansions of His energy, then he will be relieved from the most dangerous type of disease, namely lust. If one actually hears räsa-lélä, he will become completely freed from the lusty desire of sex life and elevated to the highest level of spiritual understanding. Generally, because they hear from Mäyävädés and they themselves are Mäyävädés, people become more and more implicated in sex life. The conditioned soul should hear the räsa-lélä dance from an authorized spiritual master and be trained by him so that he can understand the whole situation; thus one can be elevated to the highest standard of spiritual life, otherwise one will be implicated. Material lust is a kind of heart disease, and to cure the material heart disease of the conditioned soul, it is recommended that one should hear, but not from the impersonalist rascals. If one hears from the right sources with right understanding, then his situation will be different.
Çukadeva Gosvämé has used the word çraddhänvita for one who is trained in the spiritual life. Çraddhä, or faith, is the beginning. One who has developed his faith in Kåñëa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Supreme Spirit Soul, can both describe and hear. Çukadeva also uses the word anuçåëuyät. One must hear from disciplic succession. Anu means following, and anu means always. So one must always follow the disciplic succession and not hear from any stray professional reciter, Mäyävädé or ordinary man. Anuçåëuyät means that one must hear from an authorized person who is in the disciplic succession and is always engaged in Kåñëa consciousness. When a person wants to hear in this way, then the effect will be sure. By hearing räsa-lélä, one will be elevated to the highest position of spiritual life.
Çukadeva Gosvämé uses two specific words, bhaktim and paräm. Bhaktim paräm means execution of devotional service above the neophyte stage. Those who are simply attracted to temple worship but do not know the philosophy of bhakti are in the neophyte stage. That sort of bhakti is not the perfectional stage. The perfectional stage of bhakti, or devotional service, is completely free from material contamination. The most dangerous aspect of contamination is lust or sex life. Bhaktim paräm devotional service is so potent that the more one advances in this line, the more he loses his attraction for material life. One who is actually deriving benefit from hearing räsa-lélä dance surely achieves the transcendental position. He surely loses all traces of lust in his heart.
Çréla Viçvanätha Cakravarté –häkur points out that according to Bhagavad-gétä, the Brahmä day and Brahmä night are periods of solar years expanding to 4,300,000 multiplied by 1,000. According to Viçvanätha Cakravarté –häkur, the räsa dance was performed during the long period of Brahmä's night, but the gopés could not understand that. In order to fulfill their desire, Kåñëa extended the night to cover such a great period of time. One may ask how this was possible, and Viçvanätha Cakravarté –häkur reminds us that Kåñëa, although bound by a small rope, could show His mother the whole universe within His mouth. How was this possible? The answer is that He can do anything for the pleasure of His devotees. Similarly, because the gopés wanted to enjoy Kåñëa, they were given the opportunity to associate with Him for a long period. This was done according to His promise. When Kåñëa stole the garments of the gopés while they were taking bath at Cirghat on Yamunä, Kåñëa promised to fulfill their desire in some future night. In one night, therefore, they enjoyed the company of Kåñëa as their beloved husband, but that night was not an ordinary night. It was a night of Brahmä, and lasted millions and millions of years. Everything is possible for Kåñëa, for He is the supreme controller.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Thirty-second Chapter of Kåñëa, "Description of the Räsa Dance."

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