Sri Krsna's Vrindavan Associates – Vasanta Sakha
BY: SUN STAFF
The Cowherd Boys
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
Feb 23, 2011 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of Sri Krsna's transcendental Vrindavan associates.
Today we continue our series on the transcendental Associates of Sri Krsna, who shared lila pastimes with the Lord in the glorious environs of Vraja. These divine personalities have been classified into categories by the Vaisnava acaryas, and we have first of all been discussing Krsna's most intimate friends, the priya-narma associates. Among these, Vasanta sakha is one of the foremost.
Vasanta has a splendid fair complexion. His garments glitter like the moon and he is decorated with various jewels and many different flower garlands. He is eleven years old. His mother is the saintly Saradi-devi and his father is the great soul, Pingala.
"Krsna's Intimate Friends (priya-narma-sakha) Subala, Arjuna, Gandharva, Vasanta, Ujjvala, Kokila, Sanandana and Vidagdha are the most important of Krsna's intimate friends." (35)
"Vasanta has a splendid fair complexion. His garments glitter like the moon and he is decorated with various jewels." (51)
"Lasika, Kelikandali, Kadambari, Sasimukhi, Candrarekha, Priyamvada, Madonmada, Madhumati, Vasanti, Kalabhasini, Ratnavali, Manimati and Karpuralatika are among those friends (jivita-sakhi) for whom Srimati Radharani is as dear as life." (177)
(Sri Sri Radha-Krsna-Ganoddesa-Dipika, A Lamp to See the Associates of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna' by Srila Rupa Goswami)
Vasanta is also listed as one of the priya-sakha friends in Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur's Jaiva-dharma (Volume Five, Chapter Twenty-nine):
"There are other friends who are more confidential than the suhrt, sakha and priya-sakha friends. They are called priya-narma or intimate friends. Counted among the priya-narma friends are Subala, Arjuna, Gandharva, Vasanta, and Ujjvala."
And in the 'Govinda Vrndavana' portion of Brihad Gautamiya-tantra on Lord Krsna's gopa friends:
upendrah stoka-dama ca sujayah stoka-nagarah
vasantas ca sumantas ca rasavan rasa-kandarah
"Upendra, Stoka-dama, Sujaya, Stoka-nagara, Vasanta, Sumanta, Rasavan, Rasa-kandara..."
While the word vasanta is very familiar to anyone reading Vaisnava literature, relatively little information is found about the gopa, Vasanta. Most references are to the season of Spring, known as Vasanta, which is overseen by the Deity of Spring, also named Vasanta (who is actually Krsna). Vasanta Laksmi is the goddess of Spring.
The term vasantasakha means 'the friend of Vasanta, i.e., the friend of the spring season. The month of April marks the auspicious remembrance day of Lord Balarama's springtime rasa dance with His cowherd girlfriends. It is also the day of Sri Krishna Vasanta Rasa, the Lord's springtime rasa lila pastime. Sri Krishna Vasanta rasa and Balarama's rasa dance take place on Vaisakha purnima.
The name Vasanta not only belongs to the Vraja gopa and confidential friend of Sri Krsna, it is also a name of other transcendental personalities. In Sri Balabhadra-sahasra-nama, Lord Balarama is mentioned:
"He is glorious with vasanta and malati flowers (vasanta-malati-karshi). He is strong like a great mace (gada). He is expert at fighting with a mace (gadya)." (65)
In the Sri Radha-sahasra-nama, several of Radharani's thousand names include the term:
"Vasana-harini, 156 * Vasanta-raga-samraga, 137 * Vasanta-vasanakrti, 137"
The sage Romaharshana presented the thousand names of Lord Shiva, one of which is Vasanta. We also find an interesting mention in the 'Purusa-sukta' of Rg Veda, associating Vasanta with ghee:
devaa yajnam atanvata
grishma idhmash sharaddhavihi
"When the devas (the demigods or beings of light) performed a yajna (or sacrificial ritual), using the Purusha as the havis (sacrificial material) for the yajna (ritual), the Vasanta (spring) became the ajya (ghee), the Grishma (summer) served as idhma (pieces of wood) and the sharad (autumn) filled the place of havis (oblatory material like the purodasha or rice-cake)."
All these references to vasanta simply remind us of the many auspicious qualities of Krsna's dear friend, Vasanta sakha, who is not mentioned in sastra as often as some of the other priya-narma associates, e.g., Subala.
Vasanta is mentioned in Sri Dana-keli-cintamani, 'The Cintamani Jewel of the Toll Pastime' by Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswami:
"O Vasanta, O leader of the assembly, you stop Campakalata and Tungavidya!" (35)
In Sri Ujjvala-Nilamani by Srila Rupa Gosvami we find a more technical description of the category of Krsna's friends that Vasanta is in -- male friends who assist in the arrangements of Krsna's pastimes:
"The sahayas (male helpers) may divided into five groups: 1. cetaka; 2. vita; 3. vidusaka; 4. pitha-marda; and 5. priya-narma-sakha.
Cleverness at speaking joking words, eternal love and friendship for Krsna, expertness at judging what is proper at different places and times, ability to pacify the gopis when they become angry, and great learning in the art of chanting secret mantras, are some of the personal qualities of the sahayas." [ ]
"Vidusaka: The vidusaka has a voracious appetite, and is fond of quarreling. His bodily features, garments, and words are all very unusual. He is an expert comedian. Vasanta is the leader of the vidusakas."
In his vidusaka role, Vasanta sometimes advises Krsna on how to deal with Radharani's arrogant pride:
"He says: O Krsna, just say to Radharani: O Radharani, Your worshipable deity, the sun-god, respectfully bowed down before Me and eagerly gave Me this splendid lotus flower. Your refusal to accept this flower has angered him and made him leave the earth. O proud girl, why have You no respect for My words?"
Another description of Vasanta's role in Krsna's Vrindavan lila is given in Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur's Jaiva-dharma:
"Vijaya-kumara: O master, now I can understand the different qualities of the hero and heroine. Now I request that you teach me about the hero's different assistants.
Gosvami: The hero had five kinds of assistants. They are: ceta (confidential messenger), vita (valet), vidusaka (comedian), pitha-mardaka (constant companion), and priya-narma-sakha (dear friend). All these assistants are expert at speaking joking words, always bound by ties of strong friendship, an expert judge of time and circumstances, expert, and expert at speaking confidential words to pacify the gopis when they become angry. [ ]
Vijaya-kumara: Who are the vidusakas? Please say.
Gosvami: The vidusakas are fond of eating, fond of quarrelling and expert at inducing laughter by means of their funny gestures, expert jokes and funny appearance. Vasanta, Madhumangala, and many other gopas are prominent among Krsna's vidusaka companions. [ ]
Vijaya-kumara: What are the qualities of the priya-narma-sakha?
Gosvami: The priya-narma-sakha companions have taken shelter of friendship with Krsna. They know Krsna's closest secrets. Subala and Arjuna are prominent among Krsna's priya-narma-sakha friends. The priya-narma-sakhas are the best of these five kinds of assistants. Among these five assistants - the cetas, vitas, vidusakas, pitha-mardakas, and priya-narma-sakha - the cetas are in dasya rasa, the pitha-mardakas are in vira-rasa (chivalry), and the others are in sakhya rasa. The cetas are servants, and the other four kinds of assistants are friends."
(Jaiva-dharma, Volume Five, Chapter Thirty-two)
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