Sri Krsna's Vrindavan Associates – Sridama,
BY: SUN STAFF
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
Jun 12, 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, Stoka-krsna, Dama, Arjuna, Lavanga, and Kusumasava. Of the twelve cowherd boys, Sridama is considered to be the chief. Sridama wears a yellow colored dress and his turban is a reddish copper color. His bodily complexion is blackish and around his neck there is a nice garland. He carries a buffalo horn.
Sridama would always challenge Krishna in joking friendship, saying: "Oh, you are so cruel that you left us alone on the bank of Yamuna and we were all mad from not seeing You here. If You now want to pacify us, You must embrace each one of us with Your arms. But believe me, my dear friend, a moments absence from You creates great havoc, not only for us but for the cows also. Everything becomes disarranged and we become mad after You."
Sridama sakha is expert at singing and dancing, is fond of flower garlands and sandal paste, and is expert at writing love letters. He displays the ecstatic symptoms of perspiring and standing erect of the body's hairs. Krsna would sometimes perform mock fighting along with the cowherd boys, and when Krsna blew His horn in this mock fighting, Sridama, who was on the opposing side, felt his bodily hairs stand up.
"Lord Krsna's friends in Vrndavana, headed by Sridama, have pure fraternal affection for Lord Krsna and have no idea of His opulences. Although they fight with Him and climb upon His shoulders, they worship His lotus feet in a spirit of servitude. Some of the friends of Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, massaged His feet, and others whose sinful reactions had been destroyed fanned Him with hand-held fans."
(Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi lila 6:62-64)
In his Sri Caitanya-candramrta, Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvati mentions Sridama's exalted position:
"Some, headed by Uddhava, have attained the Lord's service, others have attained a glorious position like that of Sridama, others have become lotus-eyed girls in Vraja, and other very fortunate and intelligent persons have attained the lotus feet of Sri Radha. By the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, what great good fortune has this world not attained?"
(Sri Caitanya-candramrta, The Nectar Moon of Sri Caitanya, Verse 123 - Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvati)
In the Ananta-samhita, which is part of the Gaudiya Vaisnava Narada-pancaratra, there are statements wherein the Lord predicts His coming Appearance in Navadvipa as Sri Caitanya, as well as the appearance of some of His transcendental associates:
"In Kali-Yuga, I will descend to the earth with My associates. In Navadvipa, which is surrounded by the Ganges, I will take birth in Saci-devi 's womb.
They who are bewildered by My illusory potency will not understand the great secret of the appearance in this world of Me in My personal form, in My form as the incarnation of devotion, in My form as the incarnation of a devotee, in My form bearing the name of a devotee, in My form as a devotee, and in My form as the giver of devotional service. This secret is not to be revealed to them. Only the saintly, pure, renounced devotees, diligently engaged in My devotional service, will be able to understand Me in these five forms.
My dear male and female associates, headed by Sridama and Subala, who came to this world at the time of My advent as Lord Krsna, will come again during the Kali-Yuga. The Gopas will become the sixty-four mahantas and the twelve gopalas. To establish the truth of religion, I will enjoy many pastimes with them.
In this way I will again reveal the path of devotional service, which has been destroyed in the course of time. My sons should also descend to the earth, assume the forms of devotees, and, by My order, also work to re-establish the principles of true religion.
At this time My names will be: Krsna Caitanya, Gauranga, Gauracandra, Sacisuta, Mahaprabhu, Gaura and Gaurahari. Chanting these names will bring devotion to Me."
(Narada-pancaratra, Ananta-Samhita, Verse 70)
A little more information is found in Garga Samhita about Sridama's family:
sridama subalah sakha
stoka-krishno 'rjuno 'msus ca
"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)
Sridama's father is described here:
"Sridama is the most expert and clever of the cowherd boys, and he is the abode of intense love for Lord Krsna. His complexion is dark, and he is proud that his qualities, age, clothing and handsome features closely resemble that of Lord Krsna. If for a single moment he cannot see Lord Krsna, he trembles with anxiety. I completely take shelter of Sridama, the constant companion of Lord Krsna." (verse 21)
"Noble, generous, learned, intelligent, fair complexion, fifty-year-old King Vrsabhanu wears a neatly clipped beard. He is the close friend of Nanda, the king of Vraja. To him, Sri Radha is even dearer than his eldest child Sridama. I constantly worship famous King Vrsabhanu." (verse 26)
(Sri Vraja-vilasa-stava by Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami)
Srimati Radharani's brother Sridama is also mentioned here, in the Sri Vilapa-kusumanjali by Srila Raghunatha das Goswami:
bhratra go-'yutam atra manju-vadane snehena dattvalayam
sridamna kripanaam pratoshya jatilam rakshakhya-raka-kshane
nitayah sukha-soka-rodana-bharais te sandravantyah param
vatsalyaj janakau vidhasyata itah kim lalanam me 'gratah
"O girl with the beautiful face, when on the full-moon day of the month of Sravana your brother Sridama pleases the miser Jatila by giving her ten-thousand cows and then takes You home for a visit, will, as You melt with weeping from both happiness and sorrow, Your parents lovingly embrace You in my presence?"
(Sri Vilapa-kusumanjali - 'A Lament in the Form of a Handful of Flowers' by Srila Raghunatha das Goswami)
In his Sri Krsna-vijaya, Sri Gunaraja Khan describes Sridama as one of Sri Krsna's gopa gatekeepers:
Sri-raga, Text 8-10
cintamani mandirera cari-khana dwar
pascima mukhete prabhu radha-kantera bar
"Behind Radha's beloved Krishna is a great cintamani jewel palace with four gates.
cari-dware cari-dwari se cari goyal
krishnera samana besa dekhite rasal
The four gates had four gopa gatekeepers, each one charming and handsome like Lord Krishna Himself.
sridama goyala dwari pascime duyare
purbete sudama dwari dama uttare
At the western gate the gatekeeper is Sridama. At the eastern gate the gatekeeper is Sudama. At the northern gate the gatekeeper is Dama."
(Sri Krsna-vijaya, 'Lord Krishna and His Associates in the Spiritual World of Vrindavana' by Sri Gunaraja Khan)
Sridama sakha's identity as one of Krsna's most confidential Vraja friends is further defined in this passage from Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur's Sri Sri Raga Vartma Candrika. Sridama's affections remain unwavering, even when he observes his friend Krsna's divine prowess -- transcendental symptoms that would inspire a mood of awe and reverence, were it not for the agency of madhurya jnana, under which confidential friends like Sridama have their rasa with the Lord.
"Now follows the description of the devotees who are fixed in their conception of Krishna as the Supreme Lord (aishvarya jnana nistha bhaktah). Vasudeva tells Krishna and Balarama in Srimad Bhagavatam: "You are not our sons, but You are directly the Supreme Personality of Godhead." And when Arjuna sees Krishna's Universal Form in Bhagavad Gita chapter 11, he says: "O Krishna! Please forgive me for whatever I may have said to You in the past due to love and bewilderment!"
From these examples we can see that their respective feelings of parental and fraternal love towards Krishna were slackened after seeing His divine prowess. This is called aishvarya jnana. And madhurya jnana is that mood which does not cause a heart attack or even the slightest feelings of awe after seeing some display of his prowess, because feelings of intimacy are already firmly established in the heart. For example, the gopis described Krishna as follows in Srimad Bhagavatam 10th canto chapter 35, when He returned to the village after herding His cows in the forest: " Krishna is being praised by demigods who surround Him and worship Him with songs and flowers" and "on the way Brahma and other demigods praise His feet."
Despite the fact that Sridama and Sudama and the other cowherd boys saw the demigods offering prayers and flowers to Krishna, there was not the slightest slackening of their pure fraternal love for Him visible in them, and the beautiful girls of Vraja remained fixed in their sweet romantic feelings for him despite hearing about His prowess. In the same way the pure parental love of Mother Yashoda was not diminished even slightly despite Nanda Maharaja's consoling words to Vrajvasis. Her love for Krishna rather increased and thoughts like: "I am blessed that my son is the Supreme Lord Himself" appeared in her heart. Even a mundane mother whose son becomes the ruler of the world still shows her motherly love for him.
The intimate moods of the cowherd boys, who may think: "We are blessed that out friend is the Supreme Lord," and the gopis, who may think: "we are also blessed that our beloved is the Supreme Lord," are rather strengthened when they hear about Krishna's divine prowess."
(Sri Sri Raga Vartma Candrika, Dvitiya Prakasha (Second Diffusion), Verse 5)
In our next segment, we will offer the many instances where Sri Krsna's is identified by various descriptions of His relationship with Sridama sakha.
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