[Advaita-l] Rasalila (was Re: Temple Worship by all)

Anand Hudli ahudli at gmail.com
Thu Jun 10 23:03:59 CDT 2010

I had written briefly about this earlier (
I will try to post Sridhara Svami's comments on this later.

I will mention other explanations here. One approach is to focus on the
person who is reading the bhAgavata or listening to it. Let us call this
person the observer. The focus is not on Krishna, but on the observer! Now,
if the observer is one who has cultivated Krishna bhakti, he will simply be
fascinated by the RAsa dance. He may still have some questions in his mind
and to address them, the bhAgavata already provides an explanation at the
end of the chapter in which the Rasa dance is described. Another explanation
I have heard while listening to lectures on the Saundarya laharI by Shri
Ganesh Bhat HobaLi, produced by the Gokhale Institute, is that there is a
parallel between questions about the Rasa dance and the propriety of
studying the SaundaryalaharI. The SaundaryalaharI is a hugely famous hymn
addressed to the Mother Goddess and it contains Her detailed (physical)
description. Is it not inappropriate for a sannyAsin or a brahmacharin to
recite it? Why should such a person engage his mind in such study of what an
ordinary person would call "female anatomy"? Why did Shankara
Bhagavatpada compose it in the first place, assuming we accept the work to
be his, as is commonly held? Why did he write a poem that reveals the
shringAra rasa? These questions arise because we are ignoring one important
element - bhakti! Bhakti rasa, when it is present in full measure, trumps
all other rasas, including the shringAra rasa. When only the bhakti rasa
remains, the bhakta does not experience any other rasa. He reads or listens
to the stotra and experiences only bhakti. There is no scope for any other
rasa or inappropriate thoughts to creep in. In a similar fashion, the bhakta
who reads or listens to the Rasa lila of Krishna only experiences the bhakti
rasa and none other. Such episodes are meant for those who have cultivated
the bhakti rasa and are able to savour it, not for others. Regarding why
Shankara Bhagavatpada composed the SaundaryalaharI, one more explanation can
be given. He was regarded as an avatAra of Shiva Himself. So there is
nothing inappropriate in his composing a stotra on the devI.

 If the observer is just another curious person who has heard heretics
criticize Krishna, he will conclude that Krishna sported with married women.
It is hard to provide an explanation for such a person, assuming he has no
background in bhakti.


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