Sri Krsna's Vrindavan Associates - Subala


Painting by Haridas Thakur das

Mar 28, 2016 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of Sri Krsna's transcendental Vrindavan associates.

The names of the twelve most important cowherd boys are Sridama, Sudama, Vasudama, Subala, Mahabala, Subahu, Mahabahu, Stokakrsna, Dama, Arjuna, Lavanga, and Kusumasava. How Sri Krsna's confidential friends are categorized is presented variously in different sastra. As described in Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur's Jaiva-dharma:

    "Because of their very confidential friendship, their behaviour is only on the basis of pure friendship. Some confidential friends are as follows: Sridama, Sudama, Dama, Vasudama, Kinkini, Stoka-krsna, Amsu, Bhadrasena, Vilasi, Pundarika, Vitanka, and Kalavinka. 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. Among them, Ujjvala, who is always eager to speak joking words, is the best. Among these friends some are nitya-siddha (eternally perfect), others are suracara (demigods who eventually attained this rasa) and others are sadhaka (human beings who by performing devotional service eventually attained this rasa). The friends serve Krsna in many different ways. Thus they perform a wonderful variety of different activities."
    (Jaiva-dharma, The Universal Religion, Volume Five)

Subala, among Krsna's most confidential priya-narma friends, is the personification of ecstatic love:

    sakhya vatsalya rati paya anuraga sima
    subaladyera bhava paryanta premera mahima

    "After the mellows of servitorship there are the mellows of friendship and paternal love, which increase to subordinate spontaneous love. The greatness of the love found in friends like Subala extends to the standard of ecstatic love of Godhead."
    (Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 23.55

In Rupa Goswami's Bhakti-rasamtra-sindhu we find this passage, wherein Srimati Radharani describes confidential service to Krsna using His friend Subala as an example:

    "There was talk among the friends of Radharani, the gopis, about these most intimate friends. One gopi addressed Radharani thus: "My dear Krsangi [delicate one], just see how Subala is whispering Your message into Krsna's ear, how he is delivering the confidential letter of Syama-dasi silently into Krsna's hand, how he is delivering the betel nuts prepared by Palika into Krsna's mouth, and how he is decorating Krsna with the garland prepared by Taraka. Did you know, my dear friend, that all these most intimate friends of Krsna are always engaged in His service in this way?" Out of the many intimate priya-narmas, Subala and Ujjvala are considered to be the most prominent."

Subala demonstrates pure love of God by serving both Krsna and His beloved Radha in great measure and as we will see in later segments, Radharani's has Her own special relationship with Subala. In Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami's ' Prayers Glorifying the Lord's Pastimes in Vraja', we read:

    "Filled with deep love for him, and anxious that they may be separated, Subala never, even in dream, lets go of the hand of Sri Krsna, the moon of Gokula. Subala's heart is sprinkled with the waters of the swiftly moving mountain stream of devotion to Srimati Radhika. I offer my respectful obeisances to Subala whose body trembles with love for Sri Sri Radha-Krsna."
    (Sri Vraja-vilasa-stava, Text 22, by Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami)

Subala is described in sastra as having a fair complexion. He wears handsome blue garments and is decorated with many types of jewels and flowers. During Krsna's Vrindavan lila, he is described as being twelve-and-a-half years old, and he glows with youthful luster. Although he is Krsna's friend, he is immersed in serving Krsna in many different ways. He is expert at arranging the meetings of the divine couple, and is taken into the confidence of both Radha and Krsna. He is charming and full of transcendental love for Them.

Subala is cheerful and full of good qualities, and he is very dear to Krsna. The name Subala is described as meaning 'very powerful', as stated in the Garga Samhita 8.13, where Subala is given as number 106 of the thousand names of Lord Balarama.

In Nectar of Devotion, chapter 41, Subala and his glorious qualities are further described:

    "Subala's body is described as follows. His complexion is just like molten gold. He is very, very dear to Krsna. He always has a garland around his neck, and he wears yellow clothing. His eyes are just like lotus flower petals, and he is so intelligent that by his talking and his moral instructions all the other friends take the highest pleasure. Let us all offer our respectful obeisances unto Krsna's friend Subala! The degree of intimacy shared by Krsna and Subala can be understood by the fact that the talks between them were so confidential that no one else could understand what they were saying."

A little information is found in sastra about Subala's family. For example, in Garga Samhita we read:

    sri-bhagavan uvaca
    sridama subalah sakha
    stoka-krishno 'rjuno 'msus ca
    nava-nanda-grihe vidhe

    "The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My friends Sridama and Subala will take birth in the homes of Nanda and Upananda. Stoka-krishna, Arjuna, and Amsu will take birth in the nine homes of Nanda's relatives."
    (Sri Garga Samhita, Chapter Four, Text 1)

There is another reference to Subala in association with Upananda. Upananda, mentioned below, is the paternal uncle of Krsna and Subala is mentioned as a friend of his sons:

    "Upananda's complexion is pink. He has a long beard and wears green garments. Tungi-devi is his dear wife. Both her complexion and garments are the colour of a cataka bird. Kandava and Dandava are the two sons of Upananda. Their faces are as beautiful as lotus flowers and they become especially happy in the association of their friend Subala."
    (Sri Sri Radha-Krsna-ganoddesa-dipika, Text 39-40, by Srila Rupa Goswami)

In Srila Rupa Goswami's Sri Lalita-madhava there is a description of Sri Krsna's marriage with Radha in Dvarka. Mother Yasoda and Nanda Maharaja were in attendance, and a jubilant Nanda entered the assembly with Sridama at his right and Subala at his left. (See Act Ten Purna-manorathah 'All Desires are Fulfilled').

Subala's pastimes in Vraja with Sri Krsna, Radha, the cowherd boys and gopis are beautifully described, and we will present many more nectarean passages in tomorrow's segment. As described by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti, Subala is certainly one of Krsna's most intimate friends.

    "Some friends are considered very confidential and some fortunate friends perform confidential services. Subala, Ujjvala and some splendid others, who are as good as the gopis, are rich with the sight of Krsna's splendid conjugal pastimes."
    (Sri Vraja-riti-cintamani, Text 52, by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti)


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