“All glories to Kunja-vihari, who is like a Chakora bird that drinks the beauty of the moonlike face of Shrimati Radharani, who steals away the calmness of all the gopis, and who is expert at dancing gracefully and following the meter known as charchari.” (Shrila Rupa Gosvami, Shri Kunja-vihary-astakam, 2)
cāruto jayati kuñja-vihārī
Shri Krishna dances with the gopis in the Vrindavana forest. The pristine setting is perfect for the exchange of transcendental emotions in purity, and since in the liberated state there are no inhibitions relating to fear over temporary ups and downs, the individual is free to act on their natural impulse, which is divine love. By praising Krishna’s dancing to the charchari rhythm, Shrila Rupa Gosvami simultaneously provides more information into the nature of bhakti-rasa, or the taste of devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
What is the secret formula for curing society’s ills? Will success come through the redistribution of wealth? You know, just give everybody a certain amount of money, a “living wage”? That should make everyone happy, no? Actually, the starting point is already the same for every single person. The land is there for every person’s benefit after all. The elements of nature do not play favorites either. The sun doesn’t shine its rays only on one segment of the population. The rainfall is sporadic, but it is by no means exclusive to a certain section of the population. The sun, the rain and the earth combine to create food, which is then used to sustain life, so where is the question of scarcity or inequality?
The resultant distribution is apparently unequal because of the desires of the living entities. Some people will be pious and charitable, while others will be misers and completely selfish. Some people will eat a lot, while others will require very little. Some will desire a large building for a home, while others will be satisfied with a tiny room. The real source of any tension is the forgetfulness of the constitutional position, that of servant of God. In ignorance, the living entity thinks they are the primary enjoyer, and in this mindset they seek out that enjoyment. Yet if others follow the same mentality, there will surely be clashes, as who is to say how much one person should be allowed to enjoy?
In the constitutional position, the aim shifts towards pleasing the Supreme Lord. There is no fear over scarcity or competition in this regard, as just thinking about God is enough to please Him. The more pure that thinking is – that is the more you can remove desire for personal gain from your contemplation of the Supreme Absolute Truth – the more pleasure the object of attention will feel. This should only make sense. If your wife only loves you for your money, will you be pleased by her affection? If your children only look at you as their driver for soccer games and trips to and from school, is that love pure? When the affection is based entirely on their desire to associate with you, to enjoy your company, the pleasure you feel will increase.
With devotion to God, the added benefit is that the more the Supreme Lord is pleased the more the worshiper will feel pleasure as well. Therefore the only formula for universal peace is pure devotion, which is known as bhakti in Sanskrit. There are other routes for transcendental perfection, but only bhakti transcends all boundaries. Beauty, wealth, strength, fame and intelligence can help you in your pursuits, but in divine love they are not requirements. Just chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, without offenses can bring about the connection to the divine.
In bhakti-yoga there is a transcendental taste, a sweetness if you will. That is why devotional service is often referred to as bhakti-rasa. The taste is easily brought into the home through simple chanting, which can be accompanied by music. In music you need a rhythm, and so if the entire arrangement is done nicely, the transcendental taste becomes all the more sweet. This also means that just by some time set aside for sincere devotion within the home, the proper consciousness can be fostered. And with a proper consciousness, the rest of the day is purified as well. This is sort of like the concept of someone being nicer to everyone else when something good has occurred in their life. Nothing can be better than chanting the holy names of God in a loving spirit, and since this exercise can be repeated daily, the kinder disposition can turn into a fixture rather than a rarity.
Bhakti-rasa is seen in its ideal form in the Vrindavana forest, which is located both in this material world and in the spiritual sky. The place on this earth is a replica of the spiritual land and it is also where Krishna and His friends danced many nights away during the Lord’s time on earth some five thousand years ago. The gopis were the cowherd women of Vrindavana, and they would have secret rendezvous with the all-attractive Krishna during the nighttime in the forest. Krishna would then dance with them, as they only wanted to be with Him. The gopis wanted nothing else in life. Normally it is considered bad to be lusty in this way, but in bhakti all emotions are pure due to the desire to connect with God.
Krishna dances with the gopis to the charchari meter, and so the exercise is a thing of beauty for both the participants and those who are fortunate enough to hear about it. Music and dance are ways for the enlivened spirit soul to act freely. Sitting in the office all day and grinding through difficult physical labor are not the natural tendencies of spirit, and so through chanting and hearing about Krishna, gradually the inhibiting walls of the material creation come down. In the spiritual world all talking is singing and all movement is dancing, which is led by the experts: Krishna and the gopis.
The gopis never miss the chance,
With Shri Krishna to dance.
He brings treasure for the pleasure seeker,
Through dancing to the charchari meter.
To wise material life a waste,
Better is the transcendental taste.
Bhakti-rasa in Vrindavana most sweet,
Place where Krishna and the gopis meet.