Sri Krsna's Vrindavan Associates – Arjuna Sakha,
BY: SUN STAFF
Wives of the Brahmans Offer Milk to Krsna
May 07, 2016 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of Sri Krsna's transcendental Vrindavan associates.
Yesterday we discussed the circumstances of Arjuna sakha's reappearance during Gaura Lila as Ramananda Raya, who is described as being the incarnation, co-jointly, of Arjuna gopa and Arjuna Pandava, as well as Arjuniya gopi and Lalita gopi or Visakha gopi. The person of Sri Ramananda Raya is certainly inconceivably transcendental, as further evidenced by the fact that Arjuna sakha also appears to have come in Caitanya Lila as Paramesvara dasa, the dear associate of Nityananda Prabhu.
This raises a most interesting question as to the timeline of the appearances of Ramananda Raya and Paramesvara dasa, both present during Lord Caitanya's pastimes, and both apparently the incarnation of Krsna's cowherd friend, Arjuna.
In his purport to Caitanya-caritamrta Adi lila 10.134, Srila Prabhupada refers to the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika as a reference to the identity of Ramananda Raya. Later in that text there is another reference of note:
"132. Lord Krsna's cowherd friend Arjuna appeared as Sri Paramesvara dasa in Lord Caitanya's pastimes."
(Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika by Srila Kavi Karnapura)
We also find mention of Paramesvara dasa in Caitanya-caritamrta Adi lila 11.29, in which he is described as being the fifth gopala of Krsna-lila, fifth among the twelve gopalas, and the friend of Krsna and Balarama:
Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 11.29:
paramesvara-dasa -- nityanandaika-sarana
krsna-bhakti paya, tanre ye kare smarana
"Paramesvara dasa, said to be the fifth gopala of krsna-lila, completely surrendered to the lotus feet of Nityananda. Anyone who remembers his name, Paramesvara dasa, will get love of Krsna very easily.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura writes in his Anubhasya, "The Caitanya-bhagavata states that Paramesvara dasa, known sometimes as Paramesvari dasa, was the life and soul of Sri Nityananda Prabhu. The body of Paramesvara dasa was the place of Lord Nityananda's pastimes. Paramesvara dasa, who lived for some time at Khadadaha village, was always filled with the ecstasy of a cowherd boy. Formerly he was Arjuna, a friend of Krsna and Balarama. He was the fifth among the twelve gopalas. He accompanied Srimati Jahnava-devi when she performed the festival at Khetari. It is stated in the Bhakti-ratnakara that by the order of Srimati Jahnava-mata, he installed Radha-Gopinatha in the temple at Atapura, in the district of Hugli. The Atapura station is on the narrow-gauge railway line between Howrah and Amata. Another temple in Atapura, established by the Mitra family, is known as the Radha-Govinda temple. In front of the temple, in a very attractive place among two bakula trees and a kadamba tree, is the tomb of Paramesvari Thakura, and above it is an altar with a tulasi bush. It is said that only one flower a year comes out of the kadamba tree. It is offered to the Deity.
"Paramesvari Thakura belonged, it is said, to a vaidya family. A descendant of his brother's is at present a worshiper in the temple. Some of their family members still reside in the district of Hugli, near the post office of Canditala. The descendants of Paramesvari Thakura took many disciples from brahmana families, but as these descendants gradually took to the profession of physicians, persons from brahmana families ceased becoming their disciples. The family titles of Paramesvari's descendants are Adhikari and Gupta. Unfortunately, his family members do not worship the Deity directly; they have engaged paid brahmanas to worship the Deity. In the temple, Baladeva and Sri Sri Radha-Gopinatha are together on the throne. It is supposed that the Deity of Baladeva was installed later because according to transcendental mellow, Baladeva, Krsna and Radha cannot stay on the same throne. On the full-moon day of Vaisakha (April-May), the disappearance festival of Paramesvari Thakura is observed in this temple."
So in Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika Paramesvara dasa is called "Lord Krsna's cowherd friend Arjuna", and in Adi lila 11.29 he is referred to as fifth among the twelve gopalas of Krsna-lila, friend of Krsna and Balarama. Although both Arjuna's were friends of Krishna and Balarama, these references to the cowherds and gopalas indicate that Paramesvara dasa was previously Arjuna sakha, rather than Arjuna Pandava.
In considering the identities of the twelve gopalas, we see in Adi lila 11.33 that Purusottama Pandita was also one of the twelve gopalas, being formerly Stokakrsna. And Stokakrsna was one of Krsna's dear gopa friends in Vrindavana, along with Arjuna sakha. So again, this indicates that Paramesvara dasa was Arjuna sakha.
Satyaraja das, in his book Panca-tattva (3.13) lists the twelve gopalas, associates of Nityananda Prabhu, and Arjuna is on that list along with another Vraja priya-narma associate, Subala, as well as Stokakrsna, Madhumangala, etc. In this list, after Arjuna's name is his Nityananda-lila name, Paramesvara dasa.
There are several pastimes found in sastra which mention Arjuna sakha, including the following passage from Sri Brhad Bhagatamrtam by Srila Sanatana Goswami:
"42 As He walked, herding the cows, Krishna saw the ocean. Thinking it the Yamuna, He happily called His friends (to come and) play:
43 "Where are My friends? Sridama! Subala! Arjuna! Everyone happily run here! We will make the cows drink from the Yamuna, and then We will play as We like! We will dive into the river flowing with sweet, pure, cool water!"
44 Going ahead with the cows, the infallible Lord came near the ocean, which made a tumultuous sound with its garland of great waves.
45 From the shore looking in all directions and seeing His own great city, He became astonished and said: "What is that? Where am I? Who am I?"
46 Saying this again and again, He gazed with wonder at the great ocean and the city. Then Sriman Balarama spoke to Him.
47 Sri Balarama said: O king of Vaikuntha, O My Lord, please understand who You are. Requested by the demigods, You have descended to remove the burden of the earth."
(Sri Brhad Bhagatamrtam, Part One, Chapter Seven)
There is also a passage in Sri Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi by Prabodhananda Sarasvati, where Krsna is discussing Radha's presence in the woods:
"Sridama, Subala, Vrsabha, Stokakrsna, Arjuna, what did you see? My frightened eyes would not enter that forest."
"A goddess who flooded all the worlds with Her beauty robbed our dear friend of everything He owned." (228)
And in Srimad Bhagavatam 10th Canto, Sri Krsna is discussing with Arjuna and other confidential friends in His pastime with the wives of the brahmanas:
Srimad Bhagavatam 10.22.31-32:
"[Lord Krsna said:] O Stoka Krsna and Amsu, O Sridama, Subala and Arjuna, O Vrsabha, Ojasvi, Devaprastha and Varuthapa, just see these greatly fortunate trees, whose lives are completely dedicated to the benefit of others. Even while tolerating the wind, rain, heat and snow, they protect us from these elements.
Lord Krsna was preparing to bestow His mercy on the wives of the hard-hearted ritualistic brahmanas, and in these verses the Lord indicates that even trees who are dedicated to the welfare of others are superior to brahmanas who are not. Certainly the members of the Krsna consciousness movement should soberly study this point."
And on that note of instruction, we conclude our presentation of Krsna's dear Vraja-lila associate, Arjuna sakha.
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