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  Govinda LilamritA Introduction Sri Govinda-lilamrita is a lila smaran paddhati presenting Sri Chaitanya Deva’s mano'bhstha or inner desire to distribute Vraja prema bhakti. In Bhakti-rasämrita-sindhu, Sri Rupa Goswamiadvises: Lord Vishnu (Sri Krishna) should always be remembered and never be forgotten; all shastric rulesand prohibitions are subservient to this principle. (Brs 1.2.3) Govinda-lilamrita shows how to apply this instruction by providing us with details for rememberingSri Govinda’s pastimes. We learn from Caitanya-caritamrita, Antya 5, that Sriman Mahaprabhu’sformula for awarding Vraja prema centers around hearing, reciting, and remembering Sri Krishna’sVraja lilas. There the Lord himself states: The heart-disease of lust will be destroyed in anyone who hears or recites with devotion the topics of Krishna’s Rasa and other lilas with the gopis. The three modes of material nature will not affect sucha self-contented person, and he shall obtain ujjvala madhura prema bhakti. This is the ultimatehappiness, whereby one goes on constantly tasting Krishna’s incomparable sweetness. (CC 3.5.45-47) Thus I declare that if one hears or reads these topics, he shall achieve perfection, and being absorbedin the lila rasa, render seva both day and night. (CC 3.5.49) Hence, Sriman Mahaprabhu assures us that two important results occur through developing anattachment for Vraja lila katha: !  One attains madhura prema bhakti !  One becomes detached from material sense enjoyment. It is along these lines that Srila Kaviraj Goswami himself introduces his book in shloka 5 of the firstchapter: Govinda-lilamrita is amazing because as one unceasingly hears, recites or contemplates it, thefascination of one’s ears, tongue, and mind simply keep on increasing! And although these lilas arethe mahaushadha (great medicine) that cures the bhava roga (material disease), they also produceeffects that appear like a disease, namely bewilderment, blindness and a madness for prema! Andthough one goes on relishing these pastimes again and again, they go on producing profuse amountsof nectar which so soothe one’s body and heart that even the desire to sip the gods’ elixir of immortality becomes forgotten! (GL 1.5) Govinda- lilamrita exclusively narrates Sri Krishna’s Ashta kala lilas in Goloka Vrindavan. Theterm Ashta kala means “eight time periods.” In other words, through the eight divisions of a twenty-four hour day, Sri Krishna performs many select pastimes that make up his daily schedule. Sadhaka   bhaktas should meditate on these lilas, following the same sequence in which they unfold. Thus, atany given time of the day, the bhakta can tune in on the specific nitya lila that Krishna is performing.There are many benefits to this practice, but the most important is that we can relish the splendor of Goloka lila even while living in this world, and awaken the auspicious prema that makes us eligibleto directly serve in those pastimes. Ashta kala lila smaran is not a new process. It has been mentioned in the ancient Vedic literatureslike the Padma Purana and Sanat-kumAra-saMhitA. In the latter text, Sri Vrinda Devi describesthese pastimes to Srila Narada Muni. In his book SmaraNa-maGgala, Sri Rupa Goswami follows this ancient tradition to establish theantaranga sadhana for the Gaudiya sampradaya. SmaraNa-maGgala consists of ten sutras, or nutshell verses, that briefly describe Radha Govinda’s Ashta kala lilas. When Sri Rupa observedKrishna Das Kaviraj’s exceptional poetic prowess, he ordered and blessed him to expand theSmaraNa-maGgala into a complete description of these pastimes. The Kaviraj followed Sri Rupa’sorder: the srcinal ten sutras can all be found in Govinda-lilamrita, but their lila rasa has beendeveloped over twenty-three chapters. Hence, with the Goswamis’ blessings upon him, it is not at allsurprising that Krishna Das’s sweet narrations make one addicted to the joys of lila smaran. Govinda- lilamrita opens with the first verse of Sri Rupa’s Smaraëa-mangala. Because this keyshloka is the guideline for the entire book, let us try here to enter into its meaning: The sadhya (ultimate goal) of spiritual practices is prema seva to Radha’s Prana-bandhu (“life-love”), Sri Krishna. Although such prema seva is unknown to Brahma, Shiva or Ananta, it isavailable to those who follow in the Vrajavasis’ footsteps with a deep hankering. So, as I now beginto elaborate on this system, the manasi seva performed by those who travel on the raganuga bhakti path, I offer my prostrate pranams to Radha Krishna’s pastimes, which unfold daily in Vraja. (GL1.3) antaranga-sadhana = “internal spiritual pranctice.” Owing to the parama karuna of Sri Chaitanya and his followers, this priceless gift has been madeavailable to the fallen people of this age. Caitanya-caritämrita, Srila Krishna Das states: When you realize that Krishna expects something more than vaidhi bhakti, and that by onlyfollowing rules and regulations He will not be attracted, then it is inevitable that your attraction to perform raganuga bhakti will awaken. The spontaneous devotion of the Vrajavasis is called ragatmika. Only the most fortunate personhears about such devotion and becomes attracted. (2.22.147) Smarana-sadhana has two divisions: !  lila smaran, or remembering the pastimes !  manasi seva, or engaging in service to Radha Krishna within a mentally conceived siddhasvarupa. The first process represents the beginning stage of raganuga sadhana, the latter is for advancedsadhakas. In his Harinama-cintamani, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur labels the first stage of raganuga  sadhana zravaNa-dazA, or the stage of hearing. When devotees discover their lobha for hearingVraja lila katha awaken, the Govinda-lilamrita is the ideal basis for their sadhana. One should read this book as a daily practice so that the lilas may always fill the mind and mark one’s heart. During the shravana dasha stage, it is also helpful to study rasa granthas such as Bhakti-rasamrita and Ujjvala-nilamaNi, or other lila granthas like Dana keli-kaumudi, Vidagdha-mädhavaand Madhava-mahotsava. Many Gaudiya mahajanas have written about the ashta-kala lila. For example, Srila VishwanathChakravarti closely follows Govinda-lilamrita in his Krishna-bhavanäamrita, adding details butwithout repeating. On the other hand, Srila Kavi Karnapur sometimes matches the Govinda-lilamrita’s format andsometimes varies the sequence in his Krishnanika-kaumudi. The siddha mahatma, Sri Krishna Das Baba of Govardhan, also known as Dina Krishna Das, was a junior contemporary of Vishwanath Chakravarti. Besides writing songs in Bengali like the well-loved jaya radhe jaya krishna, jaya vrindavana and the Tulasi arati, he compiled two works on theashta kala lila that are very highly regarded in the Gaudiya Vaishnava world. The first of these is Bhavana-sara-sangraha, a collection of 3100 verses taken from thirty-four different works of the Goswamis. The second is the Gutika, in which Siddha Baba presents adetailed guideline or manual of how to meditate on Vraja lila in manjari bhava. It is said thatRadharani herself appeared to him and ordered him to write the Gutika, which skilfully blends bothSri Gauranga and Sri Krishna’s ashta kala lilas. In the world of Mahajana-padAvali, the songs of the Bengali Vaishnava poets, there is no shortageof material related to the ashta kala lila. Many of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s direct associates, or other close associates such as Murari Gupta, Narahari Sarkar, Vasudeva Ghosh, Govinda Ghosh,Lochan Das and Narottam Das Thakur, made immense contributions to bringing Goloka’s premadhana, Harinam sankirtan into the reach of the fallen people of the Kali yuga. The Rasa-taranginiTika also contains numerous examples taken from this rich source of nectar. A brief description of Sriman Gaurasundar’s pastimes, has been taken from the Bhavana-sara-sangraha and included at the beginning of each of the eight time periods. A rasa analysis has also been provided at the end of each chapter to help Chapter One  Nishanta Lila (Night’s end pastimes, 3:36 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.) Vrinda Awakens Radha and Krishna Who Are Sleeping in the Kunja Mangalacharan (Beginning Invocation) Verse 1  I offer my pranams unto the Lord of Vrindavan, Sri Govinda—the mandir of all pleasure, the pleasure-giver of the Vrajavasis—whose own pleasure overflows in the association of SrimatiRadhika. Rasa-tarangini Tika: Govinda-lilamrita’s topics are presented in this nandi shloka or opening verse.Our Govinda is a dhira-lalita nayaka and a rasamaya-nagara. This means that he is a carefreeyouthful romantic, who is overflowing with the rasa of flirtatious love dalliances in the company of the Vraja sundaris. Herein lies Sri Bhagavan’s sweetest feature and eternal occupation. Vishwanath Chakravarti’s nandi shloka in the Krishna-bhavanamrita describes further: Rasamaya-nagara Shyama, and Rasamayi-nagari Radha are both expert in the practice of Cupid’smartial arts. Hence the irrepressible wish to prove the superiority of their own talents brought about“Ananga's war!” Then, finally, their sakhi named Fatigue invited Nidra Devi (sleep) to put an end totheir battle. (Krishna-bhavanamrita 1.3) In other words, due to the fatigue of Kandarpa keli, Radha and Krishna fell asleep. With this beautiful metaphor, Srila Vishwanath Chakravarti paints a vivid picture of Sri Yugala Kishor’smutual subjugation. This shloka is the main seed of Krishna-bhavanamrita, and it appears again atthe end of the book as well (52). Srila Vishwanath is thus making the following interesting siddhanta: Radha Krishna’s eightfold daily pastimes are like a jeweled japa mala, in which each lila representsa gem-like bead. This shloka is the head bead. Thus, just as a chanter begins and ends each round of his chanting at the mala’s head bead, the smaran of Radha Krishna’s gem-like pastimes begins, ends,and continues on from this point. In this way, Srila Vishwanath hints that as one chants japa on hismala, he should also focus his attention deeply on Radha Govinda’s ashta-kala lila-mala. In thisway, the Hare Krishna maha mantra and lila smaran go hand in hand. Govinda-lilamrita, Krishna-bhavanamrita, Vidagdha-madhava, Lalita-madhava, Dana keli-kaumudi, etc., are all termed rasa-granthas because these books deal exclusively with the nectareanrasa of Radha Govinda’s madhura Vraja lilas. Gita-govinda is also a rasa grantha, and in its nandishloka Sri Jayadeva Goswami addresses his Vaishnava readers as follows: yadi hari-smaraNe sa-rasaH mano yadi vilAsa-kalAsu kutUhalaH madhura-komala-kAnta-padAvalIH zRNu tadA jayadeva-sarasvatim If one desires to refresh his mind by remembering Sri Hari’s madhura pastimes, if one’s curiosity toknow about Sri Krishna’s prema vilasa with the Vraja gopis awakens—then, by all means read thesweet poetry composed by Sri Jayadeva Goswami. (GG 1.3) This simple desire and innocent curiosity are the natural assets that render Vaishnavas eligible toappreciate the Govinda-llilamrita.

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