Understanding Krishna's Rasa-Lila
(Lord Krishna's rasa-lila dance)

Devotee: You said... If these pastimes of rasa-lila are only for liberated souls, and yet in Krishna book, in Nectar of Devotion, there are some descriptions of pastimes of Radha and Krishna…

Prabhupada: That is very cautiously mentioned. Yes. It had to be given because it is part of Krishna’s pastimes. We cannot avoid it. Therefore it has to be heard from right person. He will be cautious to present the things. Anusrnuyat. The injunction is one should hear from a person bona fide, anusrnuyat, not directly. Not directly.

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Surat, January 3, 1971)

"Krishna's rasa-lila should not be discussed in public meeting. It is most confidential. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu never discussed. He discussed Krishna's pastimes, lila with gopis, with His confidential, very confidential circle. Or those who are... Lord Caitanya had many thousands of followers, and He was not discussing even within these five persons, sri-krsna-caitanya prabhu-nityananda sri-advaita gadadhara srivasadi, Nityananda, Advaita, Gadadhara, Srivasa and Himself, these five persons. So when He was at Navadvipa, He was not discussing even with them, what to speak of others. He set up this example so that in future people may be very cautious. Because unless one understands what is Krishna, how he can understand Krishna's pastime?

So this discussion of rasa-lila is the summit of Krishna consciousness. It is not ordinary thing. They're purely spiritual. There is nothing material. But because we are not completely free from material concept of life, we may think that Krishna's lila is something like this material. So that is offense. But that is the ultimate goal, to understand Krishna's rasa-lila. But you have to wait for relishing that Krishna's rasa-lila, to become more perfect in Krishna consciousness. Anarthapagamam. Anartha means when one is freed from all anarthas. But it is so nice, even those who are with anartha, misgivings, if they are devotee, if they have got full surrender unto Krishna, so they also will derive benefit."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Los Angeles, November 15, 1968)

"Radha-Krishna lila is not so cheap. Therefore they are called sahajiya. They have made it cheap. If they want to read Bhagavatam— immediately rasa-lila. If they want to hear something about Krishna— immediately rasa-lila. Because it appears similar, just like young boy, young girls. But it is not that. It is ananda-cinmaya-rasa-pratibhavitabhis tabhir ya eva nija-rupataya kalabhih (Bs. 5.37). Radharani's expansion of Krishna's energy, and the gopis are expansion of Radharani's body. They are not ordinary things."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Calcutta, January 30, 1973)

"The plenary expansions of Krishna’s personality are called vaibhava-vilasa and vaibhava-prakasa, and Radha’s expansions are similarly described. The goddesses of fortune are Her vaibhava-vilasa forms, and the queens are Her vaibhava-prakasa forms. The personal associates of Radharani, the damsels of Vraja, are direct expansions of Her body. As expansions of Her personal form and transcendental disposition, they are agents of different reciprocations of love in the pastimes of Lord Krishna, under the supreme direction of Srimati Radharani. In the transcendental realm, enjoyment is fully relished in variety. The exuberance of transcendental mellows is increased by the association of a large number of personalities similar to Radharani, who are also known as gopis or sakhis. The variety of innumerable mistresses is a source of relish for Sri Krishna, and therefore these expansions from Srimati Radharani are necessary for enhancing the pleasure potency of Sri Krishna. Their transcendental exchanges of love are the superexcellent affairs of the pastimes in Vrindavana. By these expansions of Srimati Radharani’s personal body, She helps Lord Krishna taste the rasa dance and other, similar activities."

(Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 4.81, Purport)

"You have come to Vrindavana. Don't think that Krishna had rasa dance with ordinary girls or Krishna was ordinary man. As Krishna was not man, He's God, similarly, the gopis and Srimati Radharani, they're internal potency of God, or Krishna. This is... This should be understood. Avajananti mam mudha manusim tanum asritam (BG 9.11). Krishna says, 'Mudhas, rascals, they think that I am a human being, ordinary human being.' And therefore they imitate. Sometimes the rascals imitate rasa dance. 'Krishna had rasa dance; then we can have also rasa...' But they do not understand that Krishna's rasa dance is not ordinary ball dance like that. No. It is an imitation, perverted imitation. Because the tendency's there in Krishna, therefore we have also got the tendency. But we do not know how to enjoy that dancing spirit. That is our illusion. We think this ordinary dance and Krishna's dance is the same thing. No. That dancing, to take part in that dancing, it requires many, many millions of years' tapasya. It is not ordinary thing. Ittham brahma-bhuta... There is a verse that krta-punya-punjah. Sakam vijahruh krta-punya-punjah (SB 10.12.11). To join with the rasa dance of Krishna, or to play with Krishna as cowherd boy, it requires krta-punya-punjah, many, many millions of births' pious activities.

So Krishna's pastimes in Vrindavana with the cowherds boy and with the gopis, they are all spiritual. They are not material. But Krishna manifests, exhibits the lila, coming here personally so that you may hear about Krishna and you may be attracted: 'So how I can go and play with Krishna? How I can go and dance with Krishna?' Or 'How I can become a... in paternal affection with Krishna? How I can become a tree, a grass, in Vrndavana, so that Krishna may trample over me?' This is called Krishna-prema. So Krishna practically demonstrates, for the facility of the conditioned soul."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Vrindavana, March 15, 1974)

"Krishna and His expansion—ananda-cinmaya. Just like Krishna is in the rasa dance. These gopis are also expansion of His energy, and you will find, therefore, with each and every gopi, Krishna is there. That is another expansion. So we should not take Krishna's dancing like our ball dance. No, that is mistake. If we understand Krishna's dancing, then we become liberated. It is said in the Srimad-Bhagavatam that instead of reading some books of this ball dance, if you read about Krishna's dancing, then what will be the result? The result will be hrd-rogam-kamam apahinoty asv acirena dhirah (SB 10.33.39). Everyone, we have got these lusty desires, but if actually one is advanced and he hears from a realized person what is the meaning of Krishna's rasa dance, then the result will be hrd-rogam-kamam. We have got a heart disease. Heart disease means lusty desire. hrd-rogam-kamam apahinoti: 'It becomes vanquished.' If one actually hears Krishna's rasa-lila, then no more material lusty desires. This is the result.

But unless we are so advanced spiritually, we should not indulge in hearing about rasa-lila. Then we shall commit offense. We shall think that 'Krishna is dancing like us.' How He, Krishna, is dancing? Krishna is dancing with each and every gopi. Can you do that? Then how you can say that 'Krishna is dancing like us'? If you see the picture, you will find that each and every... Every gopi is thinking that 'Krishna is dancing with me.' How it is possible? If you dance with imitation... There are many rascals, they imitate that, that 'I am Krishna, and I can dance also like that.' No. It is ananda-cinmaya-rasa-pratibhavitabhih. This manifestation, demonstration, is not of this material world. Ananda-cinmaya-rasa. When Krishna was dancing, all the gopis, they left their material body by the side of the husband, but they went to dance. That is spiritual body. That is not material body. So don't indulge in such a way, that 'Krishna's dancing and our dancing is the same.' Then you will be mistaken. That will be offense.

So we have to become advanced in spiritual understanding. And people, the so-called artists, they indulge in Krishna's pictures, His dealings with the gopis. That is not very good. That is misleading. People may think, and actually that happens. If without being mature, without being advanced in spiritual consciousness, if one tries to understand or see Krishna-lila with the gopis, then he will be misled. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu, you will find, rigidly He discussed this Krishna-lila with very confidential devotee, Ramananda Raya, not with others. He never discussed with Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya or Prakasananda Sarasvati. He discussed on philosophy of Mayavada, but not on Krishna-lila. Krishna-lila He discussed with Ramananda Raya, most confidential devotee. And to understand Krishna, Vyasadeva has devoted nine chapter..., nine cantos. And then, from Tenth Canto, he begins Krishna-lila.

So Krishna-lila is the face of Krishna, smiling of Krishna. So here we have to practice to see the different parts of the body gradually from down. We first of all see His lotus feet, then gradually... So that is described. The two feet, they are called the first chapter..., in the First Canto, Second Canto. In this way we must go. Everything is very scientifically arranged. If we take it in chronologically, according to the instruction of the sastra, then it will be very easy."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Nairobi, October 27, 1975)

"The First and Second Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam are the two legs of Krishna. That is the beginning. Janmady asya yatah (SB 1.1.1). These professional reciters, they read Bhagavata, they jump over immediately to the face. The Tenth Canto is described as the face of Krishna. So you cannot go immediately to the face. You must begin from the feet—First Canto, Second Canto. Therefore there are nine cantos, and then Tenth Canto. And the Krishna's rasa dance, that is the smiling of Krishna. So you cannot ask the superior to take the facility of his smiling. Smiling will be when he is pleased."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, April 12, 1974)

"In the rasa dance, Krishna performed the rasa dance, not exactly the ball dance... But it is an imitation of that rasa dance. Because you cannot have any idea of anything without its being originally in Krishna. Janmady asya yatah (SB 1.1.1). That is the version of Vedanta-sutra. Any idea, whatever you... But they are simply perverted reflection. That's all. You cannot get anything, any idea, without its being situated in Krishna. The rasa dance, that is described in the Thirty-second Chapter of the Tenth Canto in Srimad-Bhagavatam. Five chapters, from Twenty-ninth Chapter to Thirty-fourth Chapter, Krishna's rasa dance is described there. The rasa dance... The short history of rasa dance is that Krishna was sixteen years old, and the girls of the village, Vrindavana, and the boys, they were all friends. Naturally in India the girls were early married, some at the age of twelve years, some at the age of thirteen years, some at the age of ten years. The boys remain... So the girls who were friends of Krishna, they always prayed to different demigods, Lord Shiva, that 'Krishna may be our husband.' So that desire was there, but it was not possible to get Krishna to become everyone's..., because He was only a boy. But they maintained that idea although they were married and some of them were mothers. Some of them were unmarried. So Krishna, to fulfill their desire, He blew on His flute on a nice moonlight night, and all the gopis, all those girls, they came. And Krishna advised them, 'Oh, you are now married. You have come at dead of night to Me. It is not good.' In this way He advised so many things. They were very moral instruction. But the gopis denied to go back, and they arranged that dancing. That is called rasa dance."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, New York, December 13, 1966)

"The acts of yogamaya make it possible for the Lord and the gopis, in loving ecstasy, to sometimes meet and sometimes separate. These transcendental loving affairs of the Lord are unimaginable to empiricists involved in the impersonal feature of the Absolute Truth. Therefore the Lord Himself appears before the mundaners to bestow upon them the highest form of spiritual realization and also personally relish its essence. The Lord is so merciful that He Himself descends to take the fallen souls back home to the kingdom of Godhead, where the erotic principles of Godhead are eternally relished in their real form, distinct from the perverted sexual love so much adored and indulged in by the fallen souls in their diseased condition. The reason the Lord displays the rasa-lila is essentially to induce all the fallen souls to give up their diseased morality and religiosity, and to attract them to the kingdom of God to enjoy the reality. A person who actually understands what the rasa-lila is will certainly hate to indulge in mundane sex life. For the realized soul, hearing the Lord’s rasa-lila through the proper channel will result in complete abstinence from material sexual pleasure."

(Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 4.3, Purport)

"The Radharani is hladini-sakti. Radha krsna-pranaya-vikrtir hladini-saktir asmat. This is the display of Krishna's pleasure potency. So this pleasure potency is there. So how? Then pleasure potency, we can enjoy in cooperation with Krishna, in conjunction with Krishna. The same thing: just like this body, the finger. The finger is part of the body. The finger can enjoy pleasure so long attached with the body. If the finger is cut off from the body, there is no more pleasure. Similarly, we are also part and parcel of Krishna. Because we are now detached from Krishna, therefore our position is, manah sasthanindriyani prakrti-sthani karsati (BG 15.7). Detached from Krishna, we are in this prakrti, material nature, and our business is struggle for existence for the same pleasure, which is never obtainable in this material world. Therefore the intelligence is that we should again go back to home, go back to Krishna, and dance with Him in His rasa dance. That will be our pleasure."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Bombay, December 28, 1974)

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