Sri Krsna's Vrindavan Associates – Sudama
BY: SUN STAFF
Painting by Haridas Thakur das
May 17, 2016 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of Sri Krsna's transcendental Vrindavan associates.
Let us begin with some basic introduction. First, Sudama sakha is one of several Sudama's that Sri Krsna has famous pastimes with. He is not the Sudama of Mathura, who is the gardener and florist visited by Krsna and Balarama in Mathura. Sudama sakha is also different from Krsna's brahaman friend Sudama Vipra, of the famous chipped rice pastime in Dwaraka. One of the manvantara avatars is also named Sudama.
Sudama sakha, the focus of our current discussion, is entirely associated with Krsna's Vrindavan lila pastimes. This gopa is mentioned synonymously with Vrindavan dhama. For example, in Teachings of Lord Kapila, Srila Prabhupada writes:
"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." (TLK 12.25-26)
In a lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.1, Srila Prabhupada also gives specific mention to Sudama:
"Vyasadeva is offering his obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Krsna. Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya. Bhagavate, "unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is known as Vasudeva." Vasudeva means the son of Vasudeva. Even the leader of the impersonalists, namely Sankaracarya, he has accepted that the Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared as the son of Vasudeva and Devaki.
People may not misunderstand. Just like we give identification by giving the name of father, mother, similarly, Krsna's identification is that He is son of Vasudeva or son of Nanda Maharaja, friend of Sridama, Sudama, lover of Radharani. In so many ways He has got hundreds of thousands of names."
(Lecture on SB 1.1.1, London, August 7, 1971)
Sudama's identity is further disclosed in the following passages, in which Krsna is described in association with Sudama. For example, in Sri Govinda dasa Thakur's Padavali, we read:
"Glory, glory to the Lord whose form is dark like a new raincloud and who is the ecstatic friend of Sridama, Sudama, Subala, and Arjuna! Glory to the Lord who was the dear and glorious companion of Balarama and a host of gopa boys! Glory, glory to the Lord who now manifests a fair form charming and peerless!" (Song 3, Gauri-raga)
In another song from Padavali we read:
"Surrounded by His cows, Lord Krishna enjoys pastimes on the Yamuna's banks. The powerful boy-hero Krishna is surrounded by Dama, Sridama, Sudama, and the boys and cows." (Song 82, verse 1)
Before getting into a detailed description of Sudama's identity and pastimes, let us first draw a distinction around the differences between Sri Krsna's priya-narma and priya-sakha associates. Many of the priya-narma friends were covered in previous segments: Subala, Ujjvala, Vasanta, Arjuna and Ganharva. Madhumangala is also sometimes included in lists of the priya-narma friends, but he is in a unique category which we will discuss later.
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 are based on pure friendship. Some of the friends in this category are Sudama, Sridama, Dama, Vasudama, Kinkini, Stoka-krsna, Amsu, Bhadrasena, Vilasi, Pundarika, Vitanka and Kalavinka (Jaiva-dharma, Volume Five).
Sudama is also included in a list of the twelve most important cowherd boys: Sridama, Sudama, Vasudama, Subala, Mahabala, Subahu, Mahabahu, Stokakrsna, Dama, Arjuna, Lavanga, and Kusumasava.
The exalted nature of Sudama 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."
(Sri Krsna-sandarbha, Anuccheda 43, Texts 6-7)
In our next segment we'll continue to discuss the classification of priya-sakha associates, and various descriptions of Sudama as the personification of service in fraternity.
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