Understanding Krishna's Rasa-Lila
(Lord Krishna's rasa-lila dance)

Devotee: You said... If these pastimes of rasa-lila are only for liberated souls, and yet in Krishna book, in Nectar of Devotion, there are some descriptions of pastimes of Radha and Krishna…

Prabhupada: That is very cautiously mentioned. Yes. It had to be given because it is part of Krishna’s pastimes. We cannot avoid it. Therefore it has to be heard from right person. He will be cautious to present the things. Anusrnuyat. The injunction is one should hear from a person bona fide, anusrnuyat, not directly. Not directly.

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Surat, January 3, 1971)

"Krishna's rasa-lila should not be discussed in public meeting. It is most confidential. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu never discussed. He discussed Krishna's pastimes, lila with gopis, with His confidential, very confidential circle. Or those who are... Lord Caitanya had many thousands of followers, and He was not discussing even within these five persons, sri-krsna-caitanya prabhu-nityananda sri-advaita gadadhara srivasadi, Nityananda, Advaita, Gadadhara, Srivasa and Himself, these five persons. So when He was at Navadvipa, He was not discussing even with them, what to speak of others. He set up this example so that in future people may be very cautious. Because unless one understands what is Krishna, how he can understand Krishna's pastime?

So this discussion of rasa-lila is the summit of Krishna consciousness. It is not ordinary thing. They're purely spiritual. There is nothing material. But because we are not completely free from material concept of life, we may think that Krishna's lila is something like this material. So that is offense. But that is the ultimate goal, to understand Krishna's rasa-lila. But you have to wait for relishing that Krishna's rasa-lila, to become more perfect in Krishna consciousness. Anarthapagamam. Anartha means when one is freed from all anarthas. But it is so nice, even those who are with anartha, misgivings, if they are devotee, if they have got full surrender unto Krishna, so they also will derive benefit.

So Krishna used to play His flute, and all the girls would come. So this rasa-lila was performed on this day, the Krishna, in the full moon night, He played the flute, and the girls assembled and there was dance. There is similar dance, just like ball dance in your country. But the specific significance of this dance was that Krishna bifurcated Himself in so many boys as many girls there were, and they began to dance in pair. That is sum and substance of rasa-lila. So if you go to Vrindavana and if you like to dance with Krishna, the facility is for you. That is the ultimate goal of our life. If you want to love Krishna similarly as the gopis loved, you can have the chance. Or if you want to love Krishna as His cowherds boyfriend, that chance is also there. If you want to love Krishna as child, that chance is also there. Any capacity you try to love Krishna... Krishna is ye yatha mam prapadyante (BG 4.11). 'Anyone who worships Me or loves Me in any way, I am prepared to answer.' He can answer... Just like Nrsimha-deva. Because Hiranyakasipu wanted to love Krishna by becoming enemy, so He also answered as enemy. So there are twelve kinds of reciprocal exchange—seven secondary and five primary.

So all these rasas... Rasa means rasa. Rasa means humor. All these humors are present even in this material world in different way, as perverted reflection of the spiritual rasa. Nothing can be new here, but here it is a reflection only. Reality is there. So the five primary principles of loving affairs is there in the Vaikuntha world. And Krishna consciousness means to practice Krishna consciousness while we are in this material body, and after giving up this body, we enter into the spiritual realm for factually participating with Krishna. That is Krishna consciousness movement. So if you want to enter into the rasa-lila, if you desire like that, so you love Krishna in that way, as the gopis. Then you'll have the same perfection. There is no difficulty. It is not at all difficult. Simply you practice. But you have to forget the rasa-lila of this material world. Otherwise then you play havoc. That risk is there. Yes. 'Krishna enjoyed with so many girls, so let me also become Krishna and enjoy.' That is finished everything."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Los Angeles, November 15, 1968)

"Radha-Krishna lila is not so cheap. Therefore they are called sahajiya. They have made it cheap. If they want to read Bhagavatam—immediately rasa-lila. If they want to hear something about Krishna—immediately rasa-lila. Because it appears similar, just like young boy, young girls. But it is not that. It is ananda-cinmaya-rasa-pratibhavitabhis tabhir ya eva nija-rupataya kalabhih (Bs. 5.37). Radharani's expansion of Krishna's energy, and the gopis are expansion of Radharani's body. They are not ordinary things."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Calcutta, January 30, 1973)

"The plenary expansions of Krishna’s personality are called vaibhava-vilasa and vaibhava-prakasa, and Radha’s expansions are similarly described. The goddesses of fortune are Her vaibhava-vilasa forms, and the queens are Her vaibhava-prakasa forms. The personal associates of Radharani, the damsels of Vraja, are direct expansions of Her body. As expansions of Her personal form and transcendental disposition, they are agents of different reciprocations of love in the pastimes of Lord Krishna, under the supreme direction of Srimati Radharani. In the transcendental realm, enjoyment is fully relished in variety. The exuberance of transcendental mellows is increased by the association of a large number of personalities similar to Radharani, who are also known as gopis or sakhis. The variety of innumerable mistresses is a source of relish for Sri Krishna, and therefore these expansions from Srimati Radharani are necessary for enhancing the pleasure potency of Sri Krishna. Their transcendental exchanges of love are the superexcellent affairs of the pastimes in Vrindavana. By these expansions of Srimati Radharani’s personal body, She helps Lord Krishna taste the rasa dance and other, similar activities."

(Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 4.81, Purport)

"You have come to Vrindavana. Don't think that Krishna had rasa dance with ordinary girls or Krishna was ordinary man. As Krishna was not man, He's God, similarly, the gopis and Srimati Radharani, they're internal potency of God, or Krishna. This is... This should be understood. Avajananti mam mudha manusim tanum asritam (BG 9.11). Krishna says, 'Mudhas, rascals, they think that I am a human being, ordinary human being.' And therefore they imitate. Sometimes the rascals imitate rasa dance. 'Krishna had rasa dance; then we can have also rasa...' But they do not understand that Krishna's rasa dance is not ordinary ball dance like that. No. It is an imitation, perverted imitation. Because the tendency's there in Krishna, therefore we have also got the tendency. But we do not know how to enjoy that dancing spirit. That is our illusion. We think this ordinary dance and Krishna's dance is the same thing. No. That dancing, to take part in that dancing, it requires many, many millions of years' tapasya. It is not ordinary thing. Ittham brahma-bhuta... There is a verse that krta-punya-punjah. Sakam vijahruh krta-punya-punjah (SB 10.12.11). To join with the rasa dance of Krishna, or to play with Krishna as cowherd boy, it requires krta-punya-punjah, many, many millions of births' pious activities.

So Krishna's pastimes in Vrindavana with the cowherds boy and with the gopis, they are all spiritual. They are not material. But Krishna manifests, exhibits the lila, coming here personally so that you may hear about Krishna and you may be attracted: 'So how I can go and play with Krishna? How I can go and dance with Krishna?' Or 'How I can become a... in paternal affection with Krishna? How I can become a tree, a grass, in Vrndavana, so that Krishna may trample over me?' This is called Krishna-prema. So Krishna practically demonstrates, for the facility of the conditioned soul."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Vrindavana, March 15, 1974)

"Krishna and His expansion—ananda-cinmaya. Just like Krishna is in the rasa dance. These gopis are also expansion of His energy, and you will find, therefore, with each and every gopi, Krishna is there. That is another expansion. So we should not take Krishna's dancing like our ball dance. No, that is mistake. If we understand Krishna's dancing, then we become liberated. It is said in the Srimad-Bhagavatam that instead of reading some books of this ball dance, if you read about Krishna's dancing, then what will be the result? The result will be hrd-rogam-kamam apahinoty asv acirena dhirah (SB 10.33.39). Everyone, we have got these lusty desires, but if actually one is advanced and he hears from a realized person what is the meaning of Krishna's rasa dance, then the result will be hrd-rogam-kamam. We have got a heart disease. Heart disease means lusty desire. hrd-rogam-kamam apahinoti: 'It becomes vanquished.' If one actually hears Krishna's rasa-lila, then no more material lusty desires. This is the result.

But unless we are so advanced spiritually, we should not indulge in hearing about rasa-lila. Then we shall commit offense. We shall think that 'Krishna is dancing like us.' How He, Krishna, is dancing? Krishna is dancing with each and every gopi. Can you do that? Then how you can say that 'Krishna is dancing like us'? If you see the picture, you will find that each and every... Every gopi is thinking that 'Krishna is dancing with me.' How it is possible? If you dance with imitation... There are many rascals, they imitate that, that 'I am Krishna, and I can dance also like that.' No. It is ananda-cinmaya-rasa-pratibhavitabhih. This manifestation, demonstration, is not of this material world. Ananda-cinmaya-rasa. When Krishna was dancing, all the gopis, they left their material body by the side of the husband, but they went to dance. That is spiritual body. That is not material body. So don't indulge in such a way, that 'Krishna's dancing and our dancing is the same.' Then you will be mistaken. That will be offense.

So we have to become advanced in spiritual understanding. And people, the so-called artists, they indulge in Krishna's pictures, His dealings with the gopis. That is not very good. That is misleading. People may think, and actually that happens. If without being mature, without being advanced in spiritual consciousness, if one tries to understand or see Krishna-lila with the gopis, then he will be misled. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu, you will find, rigidly He discussed this Krishna-lila with very confidential devotee, Ramananda Raya, not with others. He never discussed with Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya or Prakasananda Sarasvati. He discussed on philosophy of Mayavada, but not on Krishna-lila. Krishna-lila He discussed with Ramananda Raya, most confidential devotee. And to understand Krishna, Vyasadeva has devoted nine chapter..., nine cantos. And then, from Tenth Canto, he begins Krishna-lila.

So Krishna-lila is the face of Krishna, smiling of Krishna. So here we have to practice to see the different parts of the body gradually from down. We first of all see His lotus feet, then gradually... So that is described. The two feet, they are called the first chapter..., in the First Canto, Second Canto. In this way we must go. Everything is very scientifically arranged. If we take it in chronologically, according to the instruction of the sastra, then it will be very easy."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Nairobi, October 27, 1975)

"The First and Second Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam are the two legs of Krishna. That is the beginning. Janmady asya yatah (SB 1.1.1). These professional reciters, they read Bhagavata, they jump over immediately to the face. The Tenth Canto is described as the face of Krishna. So you cannot go immediately to the face. You must begin from the feet—First Canto, Second Canto. Therefore there are nine cantos, and then Tenth Canto. And the Krishna's rasa dance, that is the smiling of Krishna. So you cannot ask the superior to take the facility of his smiling. Smiling will be when he is pleased."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, April 12, 1974)

"In the rasa dance, Krishna performed the rasa dance, not exactly the ball dance... But it is an imitation of that rasa dance. Because you cannot have any idea of anything without its being originally in Krishna. Janmady asya yatah (SB 1.1.1). That is the version of Vedanta-sutra. Any idea, whatever you... But they are simply perverted reflection. That's all. You cannot get anything, any idea, without its being situated in Krishna. The rasa dance, that is described in the Thirty-second Chapter of the Tenth Canto in Srimad-Bhagavatam. Five chapters, from Twenty-ninth Chapter to Thirty-fourth Chapter, Krishna's rasa dance is described there. The rasa dance... The short history of rasa dance is that Krishna was sixteen years old, and the girls of the village, Vrindavana, and the boys, they were all friends. Naturally in India the girls were early married, some at the age of twelve years, some at the age of thirteen years, some at the age of ten years. The boys remain... So the girls who were friends of Krishna, they always prayed to different demigods, Lord Shiva, that 'Krishna may be our husband.' So that desire was there, but it was not possible to get Krishna to become everyone's..., because He was only a boy. But they maintained that idea although they were married and some of them were mothers. Some of them were unmarried. So Krishna, to fulfill their desire, He blew on His flute on a nice moonlight night, and all the gopis, all those girls, they came. And Krishna advised them, 'Oh, you are now married. You have come at dead of night to Me. It is not good.' In this way He advised so many things. They were very moral instruction. But the gopis denied to go back, and they arranged that dancing. That is called rasa dance."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, New York, December 13, 1966)

Prabhupada: ...duhkha-nivrtti. Ultimately, stop all sufferings. This is Krishna consciousness. Anandamayo 'bhyasat (Vedanta-sutra 1.1.12). Simply ananda. Dancing with Krishna, rasa dance. Supposing if there is such life—dancing and eating and chanting, no suffering—so would anybody deny that? Is there any such fool?

Devotee: Yeah, they all deny it.

Prabhupada: Ah?

Devotee: They deny. Just like the Puritans...

Prabhupada: No, no. Deny... You deny or accept, that is the... Suppose there is such life where you can simply dance, eat and live eternally, happy life. Would you not like to accept it?

Devotee (2): Yes, of course. Anyone would.

Prabhupada: Ah?

Devotee (2): Anyone would like to accept that.

Prabhupada: You see? That we are giving.

Devotee (2): But they think no such thing would exist.

Prabhupada: They think, may think, but it is theoretical. Suppose if there is such life, would you not accept it? You may believe, not believe, that is another chapter. First of all, this is our proposition, that there is a life like this. Would you like? Who will say 'No'? Everyone will say, 'Yes, I like.' It is a question of understanding. There is such life, but because he is disappointed at being cheated, cheated, cheated, he thinks, 'Here is also another cheating.' Just see. Therefore Krishna consciousness preaching means to convince them that there is life like this. That is propaganda.

Devotee: What will convince them that it is simply just not another cheating?

Prabhupada: Eh?

Devotee: What is the thing that will convince them that it is just simply not another cheating?

Prabhupada: Yes. It is not cheating; it is fact.

Devotee: What will convince them of that? What qualities?

Prabhupada: Just see example, our. We are chanting, dancing, and eating nicely. What you are doing? You are simply talking nonsense. There is no peace in your life. And see our devotees in Krishna consciousness. This is the proof, practical proof.

(Srila Prabhupada Morning Walk, Los Angeles, January 5, 1974)

"According to Bhagavat school the Lord's Rasa Dancing is the smiling face of the Lord. As it is recommended here in this verse that one should gradually rise beginning from the lotus feet up to the smiling face, so we shall not at once jump to understand the Lord's pastime in Rasa Dance. Better we should practice to concentrate our attention by offering flowers and tulasi on the lotus feet of the Lord. In this way as we become purified by arcana process gradually we dress Him, bathe Him, and all these transcendental activities help us in purifying our existence. So when we are on the higher standard of purification, at that time if we see the smiling face of the Lord or relish the Rasa Dance pastimes of the Lord, then we can relish His activities. In the Srimad Bhagavatam, therefore, Rasa Dance pastime is delineated in the 10th canto.

The more we concentrate on the transcendental form of the Lord, either on the lotus feet or on the calf or on the thighs or on the chest, the more we become purified. In this verse it is clearly stated 'as and as the intelligence becomes purified,' which means as and as we become detached from sense gratification. Our intelligence at the present moment in the conditioned state of life is impure on account of being engaged in sense gratification. So the result of all meditation on the transcendental form of the Lord shall be manifested by our detachment from sense gratification. Therefore the ultimate purpose of meditation is purification of our intelligence."

(Srila Prabhupada Letter, June 21, 1970)

"The acts of yogamaya make it possible for the Lord and the gopis, in loving ecstasy, to sometimes meet and sometimes separate. These transcendental loving affairs of the Lord are unimaginable to empiricists involved in the impersonal feature of the Absolute Truth. Therefore the Lord Himself appears before the mundaners to bestow upon them the highest form of spiritual realization and also personally relish its essence. The Lord is so merciful that He Himself descends to take the fallen souls back home to the kingdom of Godhead, where the erotic principles of Godhead are eternally relished in their real form, distinct from the perverted sexual love so much adored and indulged in by the fallen souls in their diseased condition. The reason the Lord displays the rasa-lila is essentially to induce all the fallen souls to give up their diseased morality and religiosity, and to attract them to the kingdom of God to enjoy the reality. A person who actually understands what the rasa-lila is will certainly hate to indulge in mundane sex life. For the realized soul, hearing the Lord’s rasa-lila through the proper channel will result in complete abstinence from material sexual pleasure."

(Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 4.3, Purport)

“We wanted to be happy. Just like there are many examples: A very rich man's son, he wants to become happy without his father. He becomes independent, comes out of home and goes here and there, but he does not become happy. There are many instances. Again he comes back home. Similarly, our position in this material world is like that. Our position is very jubilant and happy, anandamayo 'bhyasat (Vedanta-sutra 1.1.12), sac-cid-ananda. Sat-cit-anan... We have got our eternal life, sat; cit, and full of knowledge; and blissful, as Krishna has got. Therefore because we are part and parcel of Krishna, mamaivamso jiva-bhuta (BG 15.7), so Krishna, if Krishna is good, so I am also good. If Krishna is happy, then I must be happy. If Krishna is jubilant, then I must be jubilant. Wherefrom we get this idea of happiness? Because we are part of Krishna. Just like Krishna dances with the gopis, we also want to dance with young girls here, in this material world. Why? Wherefrom this idea we have got? The idea is already there, and we are part and parcel of Krishna. Therefore we have got this propensity. So anandamayo 'bhyasat.

But this thing can be purely enjoyed not alone in this material world, but you have to go back to home, go back to Krishna, and there is your real life. Krishna comes therefore. He displays His rasa dance in Vrindavana to attract these fallen souls, that 'If you want enjoyment, why not come back to Me? Here is the enjoyment. Here is the enjoyment, eternal enjoyment. Why you are rotting in this material world and becoming implicated, sometimes as Brahma and sometime as the worm in the stool? Enjoyment, varieties of enjoyment. Why? Why you are so become fool?' Therefore Krishna says, He comes here, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja (BG 18.66): 'You come to Me. Why you are bothering in this way and suffering?' But people will not hear. That is the difficulty. That is the difficulty. Krishna displays what is the standard of happiness with Krishna in Vrindavana."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Hyderabad, April 23, 1974)

"If respectable gentlemen become interested in our Krishna Conscious Movement then our temple in Vrindaban will stand first, because all other temples in Vrindaban gather general mass of people without philosophical understanding. Some 50 years ago some Christian priest went to Vrindaban and inquired from many residents why Krishna enjoyed Rasa dance with other wifes which is against the Vedic principle, but nobody could satisfy him. On this point my Guru Maharaja said that Vrindaban is inhabited by neophyte devotees. So we wish our temple will be able to reply anyone in the matter of Krishna Consciousness, then many modern philosophers and scientists will come to Vrindaban, that will be very much prestigious."

(Srila Prabhupada Letter, August 15, 1973)

"The Lord is ever increasingly merciful upon the fallen souls of this material world. The whole cosmic manifestation is a chance for all to improve themselves in devotional service to the Lord, and everyone is meant for that purpose. The Lord expands Himself into many personalities who are either self-expansions or separated expansions. The personalities of the individual souls are His separated expansions, whereas the self-expansions are the Lord Himself. The self-expansions are predominators, and the separated expansions are predominated for reciprocation of transcendental bliss with the supreme form of bliss and knowledge. The liberated souls can join in this blissful reciprocation of predominator and predominated without materially concocted ideas. The typical example of such a transcendental exchange between the predominator and the predominated is the Lord's rasa-lila with the gopis. The gopis are predominated expansions of the internal potency, and therefore the Lord's participation in the rasa-lila dance is never to be considered like the mundane relationship of man and woman. It is, rather, the highest perfectional stage of the exchange of feelings between the Lord and the living entities. The Lord gives the fallen souls the chance for this highest perfection of life."

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.9.25, Purport)

"The Radharani is hladini-sakti. Radha krsna-pranaya-vikrtir hladini-saktir asmat. This is the display of Krishna's pleasure potency. So this pleasure potency is there. So how? Then pleasure potency, we can enjoy in cooperation with Krishna, in conjunction with Krishna. The same thing: just like this body, the finger. The finger is part of the body. The finger can enjoy pleasure so long attached with the body. If the finger is cut off from the body, there is no more pleasure. Similarly, we are also part and parcel of Krishna. Because we are now detached from Krishna, therefore our position is, manah sasthanindriyani prakrti-sthani karsati (BG 15.7). Detached from Krishna, we are in this prakrti, material nature, and our business is struggle for existence for the same pleasure, which is never obtainable in this material world. Therefore the intelligence is that we should again go back to home, go back to Krishna, and dance with Him in His rasa dance. That will be our pleasure."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Bombay, December 28, 1974)

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