“All glories to Kunja-vihari, who makes all the gopis cast aside their household duties with the playful dancing of the corner of His eyes, and who is the lover of Vrishabhanu’s daughter, who is intoxicated with love for Him.” (Shrila Rupa Gosvami, Shri Kunja-vihary-astakam, 8)
nāgaro jayati kuñja-vihārī
Religious life is equated with restraint, and rightfully so. Through proper restraint of the sense organs, which is the restrictive aspect, coupled with regular attention in hearing the glories of the Supreme Lord, which is the positive aspect, you get everything that you could ever want, sometimes even that which you did not know of. The greatest gift of all is devotion to the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, who is the lover of Shrimati Radharani. She is intoxicated with love for Him, and for this reason Krishna holds her so dear.
In proper spiritual life, the goal is to change your ultimate objective. You are given eyes, ears, hands, legs, a face, and reproductive organs to connect with the outside world. In this connection there is enjoyment, so why would you want to limit yourself? Ah, but you already know that too much eating isn’t good for you. Listening to loud music for too long damages your ears. Staring at the bright television screen for too long blurs your vision.
And of course if you engage in illicit sexual affairs, you’ll run into all sorts of trouble. Looking at statistics in America, it is seen that illicit sex is the primary contributing factor to poverty. Those who graduate high school, get married and stay married, and wait until they are married to have children virtually eliminate their chances of living in poverty. To stay in school means to stay focused, and illicit sex is the greatest distraction. Illicit sex is what breaks relationships, and so to avoid it means to stay faithful to your spouse. Sex life exists for a reason. To use it to propagate children in a family atmosphere, where they are loved and nurtured, does not bring sin.
“I am the strength of the strong, devoid of passion and desire. I am sex life which is not contrary to religious principles, O Lord of the Bharatas [Arjuna].” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.11)
Yoga is the connection of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul, and for that connection to occur, the mind must be focused. To keep the mind focused, it can’t be carried away by the objects of the senses. It’s like a Catch-22, however, since you need your senses to maintain your life. Therefore the yogi is advised to keep eating and sleeping at moderate levels. Don’t eat too much or too little. Don’t sleep too much or too little.
Niyama, or restraint of the mind, is a principal aspect of yoga, whose ultimate aim is connection to the divine. The connection is maintained by the restrained mind which hears the glories of the Supreme Lord as they are described in the Vedic texts, which are the oldest scriptural works in existence. They actually have no date of inception, as they were originally passed down by the Supreme Lord, who has no date of birth or date of death. Descriptions of Him always exist; we just think they are created because we think in terms of creation and destruction, or past, present and future.
There has to be a commitment on the yogi’s part, and that commitment is strengthened through hearing. If the hearing takes place voluntarily, enthusiasm will ideally result afterwards, increasing the desire to hear. Pretty soon you don’t even require attendance at a spiritual gathering to hear. You can simply chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, and hear of God that way. The word “Rama” says that God is the reservoir of all pleasure, “Hare” refers to His energy, and “Krishna” says that He is all-attractive.
The purest form of God’s energy is enchanted the most by Krishna’s attractiveness. That energy is the feminine counterpart to the male God. One of her names is Radha, and her distinguishing feature is her maddening love for Krishna. She is intoxicated with affection for Him, so she never stops thinking about Him. In this sense, she is the greatest yogi, though mysticism is not within her scope of interest. She loves Krishna so much that she doesn’t even know she is practicing yoga.
The yogi free of sin takes great pleasure in hearing about Radha and her affairs with Krishna. Despite the fact that their dealings bear similarities to ordinary illicit affairs, take note that it is the yogi who is in knowledge who derives the greatest benefit from hearing about them. The gross materialist will not know the true meaning to the love Radha and Krishna share, and so the topic is generally not discussed with them. Actually, all matters of the Vedas fall on deaf ears when presented to materialists swooning in the fever of an existence tied to temporary sense gratification. It is only those who are free of envy that hear about Krishna and His instructions found in the Bhagavad-gita and then follow through on the recommended practices who get the highest benefit.
“One who executes his duties according to My injunctions and who follows this teaching faithfully, without envy, becomes free from the bondage of fruitive actions.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 3.31)
Shrila Rupa Gosvami is one such personality who is without envy, and so he not only delights in hearing about Radha and Krishna, but he takes the time to glorify them even further. In the above referenced verse from his Shri Kunja-vihary-astakam, he celebrates Krishna as one who makes the gopis drop their household work with the dancing of the corner of His eyes. The gopis are the cowherd women of the farm community of Vrindavana. You can think of Vrindavana as the highest realm of heaven, a place where there is no birth and death. The cover charge is surrender to Krishna in a mood of love. Pious and impious activities have no bearing on the decision for admission. If you are very pious you go to the heavenly realm in the material world, and the sinful go to the hellish planets. The devotees of God go to Vaikuntha, and the devotees of Krishna are specifically sent to Goloka Vrindavana.
There the pastimes of the divine lovers are relished. And thanks to saints like Rupa Gosvami and his followers, we can hear of some of those pastimes without even being there. Radha’s character is exemplary, and she is so dear to Krishna. The two are one in the sense that they are never apart from each other. Krishna always thinks of Radha, and Radha always thinks of Krishna. The devotees who always think of them will also never be separated from them.
If riddled with material fortunes’ fearing,
No use in pastimes of Radha and Krishna hearing.
Should approach the Lord’s topics without envy,
Desire to compete with Him should not be any.
Then only of the glories of Shri Radha know,
And at end of life to Goloka Vrindavana go.
Can get a peek right now through scripture’s sight,
For this Rupa Gosvami magnificent poetry did write.