Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Dust of Radha's Feet, RRSN 3

The second verse of Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi, with the commentary of Harilal Vyasa.

tadevaṁ sarvārādhyārādhanīyatoktavaty antar-durlabhatve śaraṇāgatānām ādhunikānāṁ tat-pada-prāptau kim ālambanaṁ tatraiśvaryato'pi kṛpātirekeṇa mahimānaṁ namati--

After having thus established in the first verse that Radha is the supreme object of worship, as well as the extreme difficulty in attaining her, surrendered individuals today may wonder what is the means by which they can do so. In order to do so, the author bows down to her glories in which the power of mercy exceeds that of divine opulence--

śrīmat-parāga-paramādbhuta-vaibhavāyāḥ |
tasyā namo'stu vṛṣabhānu-bhuvo mahimne ||

I bow down to the glories of the daughter of Vrishabhanu, the supremely astonishing opulence of whose lotus feet dust is incomprehensible to the gods like Brahma and Ishwara and so on, and whose compassion soaked glances rain down the nectar of the essence of all human goals.
Comment: Brahma and [Ishwara means] Shiva. The word "and so on" refers to Sanaka, Narada and others who through their devotion have been able to attain influence over the Lord. For them, Krishna's lotus feet are difficult to comprehend, so Radha's lotus feet are even more so. The dust of those feet is particularly charming and beautiful, and so is called zrImat. This beauty-filled dust possesses supremely astonishing opulence.

Alternatively, the word śrīmat means that Lakshmi resides there. For instance, in the following verse, it can be understood that Lakshmi developed a desire to receive the dust of the gopis' feet--

nāyaṁ śriyo'ṅga u nitānta-rateḥ prasādaḥ
svar-yoṣitāṁ nalina-gandha-rucāṁ kuto'nyāḥ |
rāsotsave'sya bhuja-daṇḍa-gṛhīta-kaṇṭha-
labdhāśiṣāṁ ya udagād vraja-vallabhīnām ||

In the rasa dance, the Lord showed his favor to the beauties of Vraja by placing his powerful arms on their shoulders and dancing with each of them individually. This benediction of extreme love was never experienced by even Lakshmi Devi, nor by the goddesses in the heavenly planets, though they have the delightful fragrance of lotus flowers, what to speak of any others. (SB 10.47.60)
With this desire, she came to Vrindavana and approached the chief of all the gopis, our Swamini and took the dust of her feet on her head. This will be stated in the fourth verse of RRSN. And since she thus never abandons the Lord (anapāyinī) and is known by the name of Kamala ("one who dwells in the lotus garden"), she has taken up residence in the dust of Radha's lotus feet. Thus it is appropriate to say that the dust of Radha's feet is śrīmat.

ṣaṣṭhi-varṣa-sahasrāṇi mayā taptaṁ tapaḥ purā |
bhaktyā nanda-vraja-strīṇāṁ pādareṇūpalabdhaye || iti|

Next the three words parama-adbhuta-vaibhava, "supremely astonishing opulence" is being explained. Lord Brahma says in the Padma Purana--"I devotedly performed penances for 60,000 years in order to get the dust of the feet of the women of Nanda's cowherd village."

tad bhūri-bhāgyam iha janma kim apy aṭavyāṁ
yad gokule'pi katamāṅghri-rajo'bhiṣekam |
yaj jīvitaṁ tu nikhilaṁ bhagavān mukundas
tvadyāpi yat-pada-rajaḥ śruti-mṛgyam eva ||

It would be the greatest fortune if I could take any birth at all in this land of Gokula, where I would be blessed by a shower of dust from the lotus feet of any one of its residents. These associates of Lord Mukunda have made him the very life of their lives, and the dust of his feet is what the Upanishads are in constant search of. (SB 10.14.34)
These and hundreds of other verses indicate just how rare this dust of the gopis is. Since Krishna is the object of the loving worship of these gopis, and so the dust of his feet is rarer yet. Since Radha is worshiped voluntarily by him, it is clear that her lotus feet dust is said to be even rarer. So for Brahma and Shiva, it is seen as a "supremely astonishing opulence"; from the point of view of the gopis is astonishing, while for Krishna it is an opulence (vaibhava). This dust will be further glorified in the next verse where it is said that it is "the magic powder that quickly casts a love-spell on him."

From the gopis' point of view, they are thinking, "Ah look at the good fortune! Krishna is doing like this." [i.e. Krishna is so anxious to get Radha's dust, how fortunate she is.] Therefore it goes without saying that for Brahma and his ilk, this dust is supremely astonishing.
Alternatively, if seen from the point of view of Hita Sakhi, then the dust of Radha's feet is possessed of opulence because it is worshiped by the Yutheshwaris like Lalita, it is astonishing because Krishna humbly begs to take some on his head as it it were his worshipable object, and it is supreme because it is "the magic powder that quickly casts a love-spell on him."
I had a bit of trouble with that last bit. I am not quite sure what he is getting at with his distinctions between parama, adbhuta and vaibhava.

Ananta Das also quotes the tad-bhūri-bhāgyam (10.14.34} verse in his commentary. He includes Lakshmi and Uddhava in the "etc." of Brahma, Maheshwara, etc. He then goes on to include or to say that ishwara refers to Krishna himself. So I don't get the impression that he has done any borrowing from Harilal Vyasa.

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