“All glories to Kunja-vihari, whose garments surpass the splendor of gold, whose crown is decorated with a splendid peacock feather, and whose new, glistening youthfulness delights the women of Vraja.” (Shrila Rupa Gosvami, Shri Kunja-vihary-astakam, 5)
rañjano jayati kuñja-vihārī
“Why not worship Krishna? He is such a beautiful youth, possessing an attractiveness that is intoxicating to the eyes. So much time is spent in other pursuits, where there is not really as much attractiveness. The dull material existence forces us to jump from one pursuit to another, with the activities repeated within, until the cruel destiny that is death approaches and takes everything away. Why not spend that valuable time in contemplation of the Supreme Absolute Truth, with the meditation helped through the chanting of the holy names, ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare’?
“Tulsi emphatically says, ‘O mind, hear what I am saying and always take it to heart, for this will benefit you. Remembering Shri Rama’s holy name is the greatest profit, and forgetting Him is the worst loss.’” (Dohavali, 21)
In his Dohavali, Goswami Tulsidas says that the greatest loss in the world is to forget Shri Rama, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Dohavali is a collection of dohas, or poetic couplets. Tulsidas is a famous Vaishnava saint from the medieval period in India, and Rama is both an incarnation of the Supreme Lord and a word that describes God’s possession of transcendental pleasure. That pleasure is shared with others, sort of like the sunshine coming from the sun. If we remain in the dark, we can’t take advantage of the sun’s rays. The sun cannot be blamed for our misfortune, as it is our choice to remain in the dark.
The living entity reaching the human form has the potential to understand God, to realize His presence. That rekindling with the original spirit is the greatest gain, so naturally one who fails to take advantage of it has suffered the greatest loss. God is for everyone; He is not only for the Hindus. He is described in both detailed and abstract terms, allowing for understanding through both science and devotion. He can be known through His pastimes and transcendental body, both of which are described in the verse quoted above from the Shri Kunja-vihary-astakam of Shrila Rupa Gosvami.
This work celebrates the Supreme Lord as Krishna, who enjoys pastimes in the Vrindavana forest. Rupa Gosvami is a saint of the Vedic tradition, and though His specific object of worship is Krishna, He is worshiping God all the same. The Supreme Lord is ananta-rupam, or possessing unlimited forms. He is also adyam, or the original. He is also without a beginning, or anadi. We have no way of conceptualizing something that is sanatana, or without beginning and without end, so in this sense God defies logic.
The beauty of His features is similarly inconceivable. In Vrindavana, the sacred land preferred by the Lord in His original form of Krishna, He is dressed in a certain way. He wears golden colored garments, sports a peacock feather on His crown, and delights the women with His glistening youthfulness. From this vision the abstract picture is clarified, sort of like having the numeral representation of a number written out. If we see the number “one” written in numeral form, it is a straight vertical line. That line viewed from afar could be mistaken for a seven. Someone could also easily add adjoining lines to change the number to something else.
But when the number is written out in word form, the chances for misidentification greatly diminish. The incarnations of the Supreme Lord have a similar effect. Rama shows that God is a handsome youth with an unblemished record in defending the saintly class that relies solely upon Him. Krishna shows the Lord’s original form, as derived from the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam. Krishna is the detail behind the abstract conception of an Absolute Truth. And, not surprisingly, that detail is splendid to the eyes of the immediate observer.
The women of Vrindavana have the greatest gain in Krishna’s association and they take full advantage of it. They get to see Krishna every day in a beautiful, youthful form, and they drink up the spiritual nectar with their eyes. Spiritual life should be this kind of positive effort, wherein a personal relationship is established with the object of worship. If there is a God, He must be for everyone. If He is for everyone, He must be for me too. If He is for me, I should always stay with Him, at least in consciousness.
All the women of Vrindavana think that Krishna is theirs, though He is the son of Nanda Maharaja and mother Yashoda. They keep Him within their hearts during the day while they tend to family chores. The select gopis who travel to the forest at night get to dance with Krishna, but the pleasure they feel in separation is actually greater. In that mood the consciousness is more strongly tied to the beautiful youth who holds a flute in His hands. This kind of meditation falls under the category of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, and it is available for everyone to practice.
Shrila Rupa Gosvami enjoys the greatest gain by authoring such wonderful poetry praising Kunja-vihari. Thinking of God is as good as being with Him, and though we are doubtful of this, through enough practice of bhakti-yoga, the greatest gain is not only appreciated, but held on to as the valuable gem that it is. To the devotee who always thinks of Krishna, there is no amount of money in the world that can stop their dedication. Since they are so kind, they try to gift the same valuable gem to others, taking all risks in the process.
In Vrindavana’s forests Krishna walks around,
Smiling happily with peacock feather on His crown.
That vision life’s greatest gain,
Bring to mind through spiritual chain.
From Rupa Gosvami hear,
Of Yashoda’s son so dear.
In human form don’t pass on this asset,
On Krishna’s beauty keep your mind set.