Sri Krsna's Vrindavan Associates – Sridama
BY: SUN STAFF
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
Mar 26, 2011 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of Sri Krsna's transcendental Vrindavan associates.
Today we begin our next study of one of Sri Krsna's transcendental associates in Vrindavan – the cowherd boy Sridama. Having already presented a group of five topmost associates, the priya-narma intimate friends -- Arjuna, Gandharva, Subala, Ujjvala and Vasanta -- we also covered the first of the priya-sakhas, Sudama gopa.
The confidential friends of Krsna known as the priya-sakhas are closer to Krsna than some of His boyhood friends, cousins, etc. The priya-sakhas are almost Krsna's age, and their very confidential relationships with Krsna are based on pure friendship. In addition to Sudama, also included in this group are Sridama, Dama, Vasudama, Kinkini, Stoka-krsna, Amsu, Bhadrasena, Vilasi, Pundarika, Vitanka and Kalavinka ( Jaiva-dharma, Volume Five).
While many of Krsna's other friends are categorized as behaving on the grounds of paternal love or servitude, the basic principle of the confidential friends in the priya-sakha group is that they simply relate to Krsna in friendship on an equal level. They all give transcendental pleasure to Krsna by engaging in various activities in the different pastimes they share together in Vraja.
The leader of the confidential priya-sakha friends, Sridama, is also known as Pithamardaka. In his Jaiva-dharma, Volume Six, Srila Bhaktivinoda also mentions the name 'Pithamardaka' as being a classification of confidential associates:
"Lord Krsna is eternal and full of knowledge and bliss. He is the only hero (nayaka). I meditate on His form, qualities, and activities. He is dhirodhatta, dhira-lalita, dhira-prasanta, and dhirodhatta. His qualities are anukula, daksina, satha, and dhrstha. He is always served by His ceta, vita, vidusaka, pithamardaka, and priya-narma-sakha companions."
Sridama has a handsome dark complexion. He wears yellow garments and a necklace of jewels. He is a splendid youth of sixteen years in age. He is a great reservoir of the nectar of innumerable transcendental pastimes, and He is Lord Krsna's dearest friend.
"In the spiritual world, Vrndavana, everyone -- mother Yasoda, Nanda Maharaja, Srimati Radharani, the gopis, the cowherd boys, Sridama, Sudama, the land, the water, the trees, the birds--all are trying to satisfy Krsna. That is the real meaning of Vrndavana."
(Teachings of Lord Kapila, 12.25-26)
Sridama's father is Maharaj Vrsabhanu and His mother is the chaste Kirtida-devi. Srimati Radharani and Ananga-manjari are his two younger sisters. Like Sudama, there is a great deal of information found in sastra about this most famous of transcendental associates, so today we are happy to begin a lengthy presentation on Sridama sakha.
In addition to being included in the list of priya-sakha friends, Sridama is also included in the list of the twelve most important cowherd boys, along with Sudama, Vasudama, Subala, Mahabala, Subahu, Mahabahu, Stokakrsna, Dama, Arjuna, Lavanga, and Kusumasava.
There are numerous descriptions found in sastra of the priya-sakha designation, and the particular rasa that Sridama shares with Lord Krsna. This friendship is described in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta:
sakhya-bhakta -- sridamadi, pure bhimarjuna
vatsalya-bhakta -- mata pita, yata guru-jana
sakhya-bhakta -- devotees in fraternity; sridama-adi -- Sridama and others; pure -- in Dvaraka; bhima-arjuna -- Bhima and Arjuna; vatsalya-bhakta -- devotees in parental love; mata pita -- the mother and father; yata guru-jana -- all other similar superior persons.
"In Vrndavana, examples of devotees in fraternity are Sridama and Sudama; in Dvaraka the Lord's friends are Bhima and Arjuna; in Vrndavana the devotees in parental love are mother Yasoda and father Nanda Maharaja, and in Dvaraka the Lord's parents are Vasudeva and Devaki. There are also other superior persons who are devotees in parental love."
The qualities of santa-rasa and the service of dasya-rasa are both present on the platform of sakhya-rasa. On the platform of fraternity, the qualities of dasya-rasa are mixed with the confidence of fraternity instead of awe and veneration. Krsna's cowherd friends serve Him in sakhya-rasa, along with other friends in Vrndavana like Balarama, Sridama and Sudama, who embody service in fraternity. Other examples of Krsna's dear friends include Bhima and Arjuna in Dwarka and on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra.
The exalted nature of Sridama sakha is further clarified by Srila Jiva Goswami in his Sri Krsna-sandarbha:
"The word "amsaih" used in Text 3 may be understood to mean that Sridama, Sudama, Uddhava, Satyaki, and the other associates of the Lord are all actually demigods, who are considered to be like the limbs of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is elaborately explained in the following verse (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.1.62-63):
"The inhabitants of Vrndavana, headed by Nanada Maharaja and including his associate cowherd men and their wives, were none but denizens of the heavenly planets, O Maharaja Pariksit, best of the descendants of Bharata, and so too were the descendants of the Vrsni dynasty, headed by Vasudeva and Devaki and the other women of the dynasty of Yadu. The friends, relatives and well-wishers of both Nanda Maharaja and Vasudeva and even those who externally appeared to be followers of Kamsa were all demigods.'"
Sridama's transcendental identity is further described by Srila Jiva Goswami in his Krsna-sandarbha, Anuccheda 43:
"We may note, however, that the word "pumsa" in verse 22 means "by Sri Krsna, the Original Supreme Personality of Godhead". This is confirmed in the words of Brahma-samhita (5.39): "Sri Krsna is the Original Supreme Personality of Godhead". (6)
The word "amsaih" used in Text 3 may be understood to mean that Sridama, Sudama, Uddhava, Satyaki, and the other associates of the Lord are all actually demigods, who are considered to be like the limbs of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is elaborately explained in the following verse (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.1.62-63):
"The inhabitants of Vrndavana, headed by Nanada Maharaja and including his associate cowherd men and their wives, were none but denizens of the heavenly planets, O Maharaja Pariksit, best of the descendants of Bharata, and so too were the descendants of the Vrsni dynasty, headed by Vasudeva and Devaki and the other women of the dynasty of Yadu. The friends, relatives and well-wishers of both Nanda Maharaja and Vasudeva and even those who externally appeared to be followers of Kamsa were all demigods." (7)
And in Krsna-sandarbha, Anuccheda 117, we find this all-important distinction between the demigod priya-sakha associates and other incarnated demigods:
"The equality of Lord Krsna and His intimate associates is also described in the following verse (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.18.11):
"The cowherd boys, who were almost equal to Krsna, were encouraging Krsna in His dancing, just as one artist encourages another with praise." (23)
In this verse the word ‘devah' does not mean that Sridama and the other cowherd boys were incarnations of demigods, but rather that they were on the same level as Sri Krsna, the Supreme Lord (deva), and therefore they are also called ‘deva'. That the cowherd boys are as worshipable as Lord Krsna Himself is confirmed by the Lord in the following statement (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.19.21):
"More important than the worship of Me is the worship of My pure devotees."
Krsna and Balarama were equal to the other cowherd boys and therefore Krsna and Balarama were described as ‘gopala-rupinam'. If Krsna and Balarama could be described as cowherd boys because of Their equality with Their companions, by the same token the cowherd boys may also be described as ‘deva' because they are as great as their great friend. Because the cowherd boys are equal to Krsna in nature, qualities, and appearance, they were able to praise Krsna's singing and dancing (nata iva natam)." (24)
(Sri Krsna-sandarbha by Srila Jiva Goswami, Volume I)
In tomorrow's segment, we will begin to discuss some of the personal attributes and characteristics of the gopa Sridama.
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