“All glories to Kunja-vihari, whose garments surpass the splendor of gold, whose crown is decorated with a splendid peacock feather, and whose new, glistening youthfulness delights the women of Vraja.” (Shrila Rupa Gosvami, Shri Kunja-vihary-astakam, 5)
rañjano jayati kuñja-vihārī
“Oh boy, I just got my brand new smartphone. Look at how wonderful it is. This is going to change my life. I just want to stare at it all the time. When I’m not staring at it, I’ll use every feature it has, discovering new ones along the way. I will go online to find out more about this device, to see what others are saying and learn what new things I can do with it. Perhaps I can spend an entire day on this device and find simple pleasure that way. Since it looks so beautiful, I must protect it. Therefore I need a new case, one that is both sturdy and attractive. I’m so excited to have this new purchase, and I hope that the excitement never goes away.”
Whether it’s a smartphone, a car, a television, or even a new addition to the family, having something new is nice. Its youth will only come around once, and through the inevitable passage of time the shine on the new object can only diminish. Therefore better it is to take advantage of the time when it first appears, to make the most out of the beautiful freshness. One person, however, is always youthful. His attractiveness is full at both the time He first appears before the eyes and many years later. This wonderful feature is praised by Shrila Rupa Gosvami in his Shri Kunja-vihary-astakam.
Rupa Gosvami is one of the famous saints of the Vaishnava tradition. A Vaishnava is a devotee of Vishnu, or God. If they worship God, why the special name? Why not just call yourself a worshiper of God? The term “God” is subject to debate, and since debates take place amongst peers, a viable conclusion never results. One person’s opinion is as good as another’s.
Yet the very definition of God says that He must be beyond mental speculation. He is also beyond the dualities of heat and cold, happiness and sadness, and life and death. When under the influence of these dualities, however, it is difficult to conjure up the accurate vision of the Absolute Truth. How can I know what God looks like when I can’t even get over the temporary loss of an object? If the traffic on the way to work in the morning gets me angry, how am I supposed to properly contemplate on something which generated this and every other planet?
In order to suffer from duality’s influence one must be embodied, which means that they are guided by a form that is ever-changing. While embodied it is very difficult to understand God, as He is believed to be an impersonal force at best. If somehow one gets passed the impersonal conception, God’s personality traits still aren’t known. One also doesn’t know how, when, and where to approach Him. Hence mental speculation kicks in, and one thinks that whatever their current problem is, God is meant to solve it. If I’m in need of money, look to the heavens for help. If I want a particular outcome in some event, again approach the Divine.
“For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 12.5)
The path of personal worship is much easier because the speculation is eliminated, at least when the worship is performed under proper authority. The Vaishnava is one who knows how to conduct this worship, as they take up the process through the instructions of their spiritual master. The Vaishnava spiritual master’s chain of teachers ascends all the way up to God Himself, who is known as Vishnu because of His all-pervasiveness. He is also known as Krishna because of His all-attractiveness.
Krishna is a personality, the original form of Godhead in fact. He is the worshipable figure of many Vaishnavas, including Rupa Gosvami. As worship of God should not be a dry activity devoid of fun and excitement, Shri Krishna’s attractiveness is meant to spark an interest to serve in the devotee. Krishna has a glistening youthfulness that especially excites the women of Vrindavana, His sacred land where He always lives. In that town, Krishna is both a newcomer and a fixture. He is the newcomer when He appears as the son of Nanda Maharaja and mother Yashoda. He is a fixture through His daily pastimes, which include playing in the Vrindavana forest, Krishna’s favorite area.
The excitement of the topmost devotees is sparked through Krishna’s attractive features. It’s always better to have something to look forward to than not. It’s nice to have plans to go out somewhere, a place where you can meet someone. Krishna creates such meetings with the gopis during the moonlit nights of the autumn season, when they can dance with each other in pure ecstasy in the quiet setting of the forest.
Krishna’s youthfulness attracts the mothers of Vrindavana during the day when He plays about with His male friends on the field. The boys tend to the calves, so they are essentially working and playing at the same time. Krishna wears garments that are golden colored, and His head is decorated with a beautiful peacock feather. The vision is so beautiful that just hearing about it is enough to stir up excitement. That excitement can continue ad infinitum for the devotee who is wise enough to take advantage of the works passed down by saints like Rupa Gosvami and his followers. Those with real knowledge can stir up excitement wherever they are by chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
Nice to have something new,
Can look at it and get excited too.
In Vrindavana Krishna always looks fresh,
Wears peacock feather and golden garments the best.
Despite the passage of time,
No sign of aging in Him you’ll find.
Youthfulness to women brings delight,
Chant holy names for your spirits to excite.