“All glories to Kunja-vihari, who has fragrant sandal paste smeared on His body, whose hips are adorned with a beautiful golden belt, and who is like an elephant tied by the ropes of the raised breasts of Shri Radhika.” (Shrila Rupa Gosvami, Shri Kunja-vihary-astakam, 6)
kuñjaro jayati kuñja-vihārī
Shri Krishna’s body has a wonderful aroma; a fact which shouldn’t surprise us. The word Krishna means “all-attractive”, and the attractiveness is not limited to the visual. There are five senses, and so with each of them Krishna’s attractiveness can be experienced. The experience is through a transcendental mellow, or rasa, and the devotees who cherish Krishna’s association greedily look to experience that transcendental taste as much as possible. Shrila Rupa Gosvami, a noted scholar, poet, and Vaishnava leader, composed his Shri Kunja-vihary-astakam to further relish the taste of God’s association.
Krishna’s attractiveness reaches the ears through the sounds of His flute. According to the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam, God’s original form is a two-handed youth who playfully enjoys in the forest of Vrindavana. He carries a flute with Him when He walks about, and the sounds from that flute are out of this world. Any book can be authored by any person, and within such a book anything can be written. I can go up to a tree, take a picture of it, put the picture in a book, and then tell everyone that the tree is God. I could create a system of worship, describing how the tree is the Supreme Lord, the possessor of all fortunes.
Yet others will be able to test the validity of my assertion through experience in practice. If what I say doesn’t add up, as it most certainly won’t, then the tree will no longer be worshiped by others. Shri Krishna is not a concocted God in this way; He continues to be worshiped to this day, as some of the most celebrated spiritual leaders in history have vouched for His divine standing. The most respected person in society would have to be one who is free of vice. If they could avoid overeating, working too hard for money, and indulgence in sex life altogether, then who could ever stand next to them in reputation? Saints like Ramanuja, Chaitanya, Rupa Gosvami, Narada Muni and many others of the Vedic tradition possess such a lofty standing, and they all say that worship of God as Krishna is the ultimate occupation in life.
You can also experience Krishna’s attractiveness through sound by hearing His holy names, especially when they are chanted congregationally. The maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, is best suited for the call-and-response song format, which is more commonly known as kirtana. The Vedas, the scriptures containing hymns and descriptions of Krishna, are also kirtana, as they describe the glories of God.
Sight is one of the more obvious ways to experience attractiveness, and in Krishna you have the most beautiful vision. He has a bluish complexion, which seems odd but fitting at the same time. The color of His body resembles the dark raincloud, and thus His body has a nourishing effect to the eyes that have gone dry from exhaustion in the hot material existence. We know what Krishna looks like because saints have kindly described His image to us. Indeed, the above referenced verse is an example of descriptions of the transcendental form of Krishna passed on to future generations.
Krishna’s body is also very soft; which explains how His attractiveness can be experienced through touch. The earth of Vrindavana is very fortunate because Krishna’s soft lotus feet walk upon it. Those feet are very dear to the saints, and devotion to those feet is the summit of existence. If you are devoted to someone’s feet, which act as their servant, then you are devoted to them. Krishna’s feet are His servants who kindly take Him wherever He likes. Those who are devoted to those feet experience the softness in touch just through thought. They also stay humble, knowing that God is the supreme and all living entities His subordinates.
You can taste Krishna’s attractiveness through eating the remnants of His foodstuff. Why would we eat food that someone has left? We don’t ask to eat the sandwich that our friend has bitten into, but with Krishna such a food item has a divine taste. As a regular part of devotional service, devotees offer food in the mode of goodness [vegetarian minus onions, garlic and mushrooms] to a picture or deity of Krishna. Reciting a few mantras, the food is eaten by Krishna, who then leaves everything there for the devotee. The resultant food is very tasty, a fact to which many can attest.
You can smell Krishna’s attractiveness in the same manner, by offering a flower to His picture or deity. The remnants, both the food and the flowers, are known as prasadam, or the Lord’s mercy. In this verse from Rupa Gosvami, we see that you can smell Krishna directly if you are so fortunate. His body is smeared with sandal paste, creating a wonderful fragrance. In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna says that He is the original fragrance of the earth, so this means that you can experience Krishna’s attractive aroma in an indirect way just by smelling the wonderful aromas the earth has to offer.
“I am the original fragrance of the earth, and I am the heat in fire. I am the life of all that lives, and I am the penances of all ascetics.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.9)
To experience God is to taste His transcendental sweetness, and that taste isn’t exclusive to any particular sense. Any of the senses can be used to taste the attractiveness of the origin of matter and spirit, the savior of the surrendered souls. His play in the Vrindavana forest is also attractive, and so saints like Rupa Gosvami enjoy glorifying it in song.
His body smeared with sandalwood paste,
Gives one indication of transcendental taste.
In Krishna full attractiveness sits,
Experience it before this body you quit.
When offered in a devotional mood,
Spiritual becomes left over food.
By the offered flower you smell,
Krishna’s fragrance you can tell.
Descriptions of the Lord of Rupa hear,
And taste His attractiveness with your ears.