“When ecstatic love develops into the relationship of parenthood and becomes steadily established, the relationship is called vatsalya-rasa. The exhibition of this vatsalya-rasa standard of devotional service can be found in the dealings of Krishna with His devotees who represent themselves as superior personalities like father, mother, teacher, etc.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 43)
You’ve decided to get serious about spiritual life. No more weekend warrior. No more only reading for a few hours a day. No more trying to find a secluded place for some meditation, only to return to the busy and distracting normal life on a daily basis.
In fact, the goal is to change the meaning of “normal.” Make it out of the ordinary to break away from meditation. Make thinking of the Divine the majority and forgetting Him the minority. Turn things around so that there is success in this very lifetime, without the risk of another birth.
“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.19)
From Vedic teachings we learn that the end in this pursuit is not really a stopping point. That is to say there is something beyond nirvana, Brahman-realization, mukti, moksha, liberation or whatever the preferred term to describe perfection, siddhi, for the purusha, the person at present within a temporary and destructible body.
One glimpse into the life of liberation is vatsalya-rasa. This is a specific mood of interaction with the Divine, who is also a purusha, but with an eternally transcendental body.
Vatsalya is from the perspective of the person worshiping. The meaning is that the Supreme Lord does not interact in these moods; He is always in the superior position. He can never become a person’s son, a worker, a student, or what have you. He is the origin of the universe, after all, so who could properly advise Him on anything?
Yet He is so kind that He accepts the inferior roles from time to time. The people on the other side assume superiority. They are true believers in God, for they reached this position of interaction after perfection in spiritual practice. The covering of yogamaya now prevents them from seeing Krishna as He truly is.
The first teacher is Garga Muni. He is the family’s guru. Nanda Maharaja calls upon him to give names to Krishna and the elder brother Balarama. Garga has his own recollections of Bhagavan’s time on earth documented in the work known as the Garga-samhita.
The other notable teacher is Sandipani Muni. The birth father, Vasudeva, sends his boys to Sandipani’s school for education. Krishna and Balarama behave as ideal students, as if they need to be instructed. This again shows the Lord’s mercy, as the teacher is allowed to lovingly offer service in the manner preferred.
As Krishna describes in the Bhagavad-gita, He is the seed-giving father. No one exists prior to Him. He is both the origin, adi, and the one without an origin, anadi. These contradictory features can only exist simultaneously in Bhagavan.
The father at the time of appearing from the womb is Vasudeva. External factors lead him to transfer baby Krishna to Gokula, where Nanda Maharaja takes over as the foster father. Nanda does not act like Krishna is God. The father provides instruction and gives responsibilities, such as tending to the calves when Krishna reaches the appropriate age.
In many famous paintings Krishna is with mother Yashoda. She is either holding Him lovingly in her arms or chasing after Him with a stick. The good mother is not afraid to offer mild punishment. Krishna is the butter-thief of Gokula, after all. No one is better at stealing than Him.
There are other rasas of devotional service, which means that the state of liberation is not stale, dry, or devoid of activity. The difference is that the connection is always there, yoga. This unbreakable link prevents rebirth, while providing ever-increasing bliss at the same time.
Liberation not the end,
Or like into void to send.
Rather interaction now to see,
For pleased by service is He.
Shri Krishna, who to Gokula coming,
And devoted student becoming.
And father’s responsibilities accepting,
And pleas against stealing rejecting.
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