Rādhā & Kṛṣṇa’s Pastimes in Yavat
– By HG Caturātmā Prabhu
Just one thing before we start. Over the last month we have been together, I have seen the variety of tears during Kīrtana; and all I can say is this—If we can’t cry here, where are we going to cry? Okay, so this place of Yavat, one of my absolute favorite places all over Braja; and there are unlimited pastimes to speak about what takes place here at Yavat. But as is the nature of this world we are governed by the time factor, particularly me. We will start off with this nice wonderful prayer. “Jaṭilā Devī is Rādhārāṇī’s mother-in-law, and Abhimanyu is Rādhā’s so-called husband. Kuṭilā Devī, who is always eager to find faults, is Rādhārāṇī’s sister-in-law. Abhimanyu doesn’t realize the value of the diamond he has in his care. Any ways Kṛṣṇa doesn’t care, neither does Rādhārāṇī.”
In Alachua we have this sweet cook, and she is the best sweet cook around. Whoever you know who makes milk sweets, she makes them even better. She takes fresh cow’s milk from her own cows, makes her own curd and then cooks easily the most wonderful squishy Rasagullās you have ever had. But the level of her skill is that she does one thing further than this. She takes a couple of unexpected ingredients and adds them to the Rasagullās, camphor and black pepper. Now camphor and black pepper are not particularly known for their sweetness, but when you mix them properly by an expert cook, the combination gives the most amazing flavor, and it makes sweetness even sweeter.
The pastimes in Yavat here are comparable to this sweetest of Rasagullās, because they involve the sweetness of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, which are the sugar in the Rasagullā. But an added ingredient not so much thought of, namely, Abhimanyu actually makes it even sweeter. This so-called husband of Rādhārāṇī is the camphor, and black pepper which, when added in their proper proportions, make the whole pastime even sweeter. As followers of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, we always refer to Abhimanyu as the so-called husband. You will hear that phrase being used many times while discussing pastimes involving them. This is the place of the Līlā of Rādhārāṇī’s household life with that so-called husband Abhimanyu, and his ever attentive, and watchful mother Jaṭilā, and even more overbearing sister Kuṭilā. As Gurudeva said, these are three main obstacles to the enjoying pastimes between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. We know, if there is something that you desire, and there is an obstacle put in front of that, well, you are going to try that much harder to fight it.
Now Yavat, like all of Braja that we have been visiting, looked a little different when these Līlās were taking place at that time. We are instructed that the truth of Yavat and the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are very sublime and are concealed from ordinary people. But by the good fortune of pure Vaiṣṇavas and those who are following them, we are able to enjoy these pastimes by speaking about them and hearing about them. Our Ācāryas,they describe the Yavat pastimes as Rasa. Yavat was built by King Vṛṣbhānu; it’s a wedding present for his daughter, and the palace [is] for the son-in-law to be and to exist very happily. Of course, as a father, he desired that his daughter would live somewhere close in her married life, not so much far away like Australia [like Caturatma das’ daughter]. Anyway, he built Yavat in such a way that it was very spacious and very aesthetically pleasing. There are many wide alleys, very palatial buildings. It was beautifully decorated and every convenience that anyone would need was found here in Yavat. Now all of Rādhārāṇī’s girlfriends, who would also have been married, they all moved here and lived with all their husbands in Yavat as well.
The overall area of Yavat was blessed at that time with many banyan trees. There are also 15 specific Kuṇḍas that surround this area that are related particularly to the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa here at Yavat. There is one Kuṇḍa with a special selection of Kadambatrees there, indicating that the pastimes there are most sweet. There is also the spot in Yavat where Rādhārāṇī planted a Pārijāta tree and watered it and nourished it till it grew and gave flowers and then took those flowers and made garlands for Kṛṣṇa. She would give those garlands to Him when He would sneak and see Her here in Yavat.
Another thing to know about Yavat, this is the place where the Gopāṣṭamī pastime takes place also. Yet, because Rādhārāṇī was forced to live here as the so-called wife of someone other than Kṛṣṇa, She saw it as a prison, a prison from which She was constantly trying to escape. Actually it was prison for both Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. She is always trying to get out, and He is always trying to get in, and, you know, if you have a really good prison, nobody can get in, nobody can get out. Every night, She would climb up to the moon tower. This tower here you can actually go up. There is a place with Her lotus feet, and she would look across the fields to Nandagrāma and pine, not knowing that Kṛṣṇa was also on a tower over there looking in this way and pining also.
Why would Vṛṣbhānu Mahārāja ask his daughter Rādhārāṇī to marry Abhimanyu? We do have to understand that this marriage takes place here in Gokula Dhām and not in GolokaDhām. It takes place here for the sole purpose of facilitating the deep Bhāva of ParakīyaRasa. Rādhārāṇī never considers Herself married, neither does She give Her heart to Abhimanyu. At best it’s just a facade of a marriage. Actually the marriage takes place during the one year after Brahmā stole the cowherd boys and Kṛṣṇa had expanded Himself into all the different cowherd boys including Abhimanyu, so She actually married Kṛṣṇa. The real answer lies in the fact that this relationship, Svakiya Rasa, the wedded relationship, is not considered the highest enjoyment. Instead it’s a Parakīya Rasabetween the Divine Couple that is seen as the topmost pleasure. Personalities like JīvaGosvāmī and many others have delved into this with great detail, something that I am not qualified to do and won’t even attempt.
There is a second reason why Vṛṣbhānu had Her married. In his subconscious deeper understanding he wanted to facilitate the desire for Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa to be together, because this brings the highest happiness to Rādhārāṇī. As a father, he wanted unlimitedly Rādhārāṇī’s best happiness. But as a father to facilitate that is completely Rasā-Bhāsa, so therefore he arranges for the marriage of Rādhārāṇī to Abhimanyu. I mean after all, She is a suitable young girl who needs a husband and he seemed to be a suitable husband. In this way, the rules of a so-called marriage go on.
Abhimanyu has a variety of words that are used to describe him. None of them are very flattering: dull-witted, dumb, unappreciative of the real jewel he has, not knowing the value of the diamond in his care. Abhimanyu’s real wealth is from cows, so instead of spending most of his time with Rādhārāṇī, he spends most of his time in the barn with the cows. As a result, his wife, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī doesn’t get the type of attention She deserves. Some of you ladies maybe experienced husbands not paying close attention, like, “I know about that.” But the reality, as Gurudeva said, earlier is that Abhimanyu is actually the shadow of Kṛṣṇa. As you know, His expansion from when the cowherd boys were stolen. From the spiritual point of view, the wives are also shadows, so these cowherd men, they never actually touched their wives. They are touching the shadows, and in this way they are all saving themselves, and Kṛṣṇa is their only husband.
There is a real nice pastime which Śrīla Prabhupāda explains in the Nectar of Devotionabout Abhimanyu. One day, Abhimanyu was returning home from herding the cows, and he didn’t know Kṛṣṇa was already inside the house—something Kṛṣṇa always tried to do and occasionally was successful [in]. Seeing Abhimanyu coming, Kṛṣṇa quickly assumed the dress and the appearance of Abhimanyu, and he went to Jaṭilā and addressed his mother Jaṭilā looking like Abhimanyu and with the same voice as Abhimanyu, “My dear mother Jaṭilā I am your son Abhimanyu, but Kṛṣṇa has assumed my dress and is coming towards the house posing as me. This rascal is trying to gain entrance to our home. You should deal with Him. I am going to take Rādhā into Her quarters and close the doors from the inside and keep Her safe. In this way, I will protect Her.” As Kṛṣṇa is the most expert of dressers and knows the voices of all the animals, it’s not hard to imagine [that] he pulled this off really successfully. Jaṭilā was convinced that he is indeed the real Abhimanyu, so the anger she felt is now about to be taken out on her real son. First she got Kuṭilā and then locked the door from the inside. They climbed up to the roof of the house, and they collected several very, very large and soft balls of cow dung. Now, if you step on a dried-up cow dung paddy, this is not such a big deal, but if you step on a wet one, “Yahhhhha”—so big wet balls of cow dung.
Abhimanyu came to the house, went to open the door; door is locked, so he called out, “I am home, I am home. Can somebody open the door? Can I be received properly?” Jaṭilācalled out, “Oh yes, you rascal, we will receive you properly.” As the confused Abhimanyulooked up to see what his mother was talking about, “Splat! Crash!” [laughter]. Very big large soft cow dung balls sailed down from the top of the house and landed on top of his head. In confusion he thought, “Who is throwing these cow dung balls on me?” He looked up and saw it was his mother and sister, so he screamed, “Mother, what are you doing? Don’t you see who I am?” “Yes, we know who you are. You are a big rascal. You are the debauchee Kṛṣṇa, and we are going to punish you.” She threw more cow dung balls down, so lying there on the ground, it covered all of his nice clothing and his hair. Turban covered in cow dung, he looked up and he thought, “The women of this house have gone mad.” “Mother, Mother it is me, your son, Abhimanyu.” “We knew you would say that; that proves you are Kṛṣṇa!” Splat! Crash!
Abhimanyu concluded, “They have been possessed by ghosts,” and he went to Mathurāto get accessories so that they could be saved. At this point Jaṭilā came down and got one of those cleaning brooms, not one of those little soft ones that you use to sweep the floor, but the really hard stiff ones you use for scrubbing with. She opened the door and started to chase Abhimanyu. Now, when she first opened the door, he felt, “Okay, she returned to her senses. She is going to open the door and greet me and let me come in and clean up.” But instead, she comes out of the door with her broom raised, “You rascal, get away from our house.” She begins chasing him as he runs off to Mathurā to get an exorcist. Seeing this all, the girlfriends of Rādhārāṇī who were present began to smile, showing just a portion of their teeth. Nectar of Devotion describes this type of smiling as, hasita—smiling.
Now there was another time when Kṛṣṇa assumed the dress of Abhimanyu. This is something He does often, and unlike the jokes which I tell to Indradyumna Swami during our lunch-time, His dressing is always successful and it always produces a good laugh. Once Kṛṣṇa dressed as Abhimanyu, and His cowherd friend Raktak noticed this. Even from when I was a young Brahmacārī, Raktak was my favorite cowherd boy. He is green. Anyway, Raktak saw that Abhimanyu was there. What’s Abhimanyu doing mixing with us?[he thought]. And he started to rebuke him with some very choice words. Here are a couple of men who know how to use these choice words, but I think they have taken a vow for Kārtik and don’t use them. In this way, after a little bit of this he suddenly realized, “Wait, this is just Kṛṣṇa dressed as Abhimanyu,” and he began sweating a little uncomfortably. Prabhupāda describes in Nectar of Devotion that this type of sweating is brought on by fearfulness. Now, one thing to know about Jaṭilā; she has this big Jata. She has these matted locks on her head, all piled up really high. It is described like this because her mind is just like that, also completely entangled on top of her head. Plus, she is half-blind and this just adds to the enjoyable pastimes. You can imagine, trying to sneak and hide around someone who is half-blind, can’t even see you; so that’s Jaṭilā.
Over at Nandagrāma, early one morning, mother Yaśodā had one very large box, and she was packing this box with all kinds of beautiful ornaments and clothing and silks and perfumes and cosmetics. Kṛṣṇa went into the room and said, “Ma, what are you doing with this box? Why are you packing these things in here?” “Oh, my little boy these are just some presents, for someone very, very special and dear to Me.” “What are you packing in it, Ma? What are you packing? What’s going in the box?” Mother Yaśodā said, “O, why do You need to know? Just go out and play with Your friends.” “I really want to know, Ma. If you don’t tell me, I am just going to stand here and keep asking you until you do.” Being filled with love, but a little reluctant to tell Him the whole thing, Mother Yaśodā went ahead and told Him, “All right, if you must know, I am putting in the box, camphor, lotus, red kumkum, sandalwood sticks, and musk for making different types of perfumes. For making uncommonly beautiful dresses, I am putting in various ornaments that are made of tinkling bells, red lapis lazuli, gems, extremely valuable clothes, earrings, bangles, emeralds and pearls. Dear, are You satisfied now? Now go outside and play with Your friends.” “No! I want to know if this box is for Me or Balarāma?” “I have already packed two large boxes for You and Your brother.”
Kṛṣṇa then said, “Well, who besides Daujī and Me could be very, very special to you?” To this question, Mother Yaśodā then paused, closed her eyes thinking and then answered very nicely, “My dear son, as a result of past pious deeds and many austerities, providence has restored upon me a son like You and a girl who is powerful tonic and sustains my life. This girl, the soothing camphor for my eyes, is the shelter of extraordinary feminine qualities: good behavior, beauty, simplicity, humility. Before You ask me who this girl is, I will tell You. Her name is Śrī Rādhā and Her husband Abhimanyu is meeting Your father.” Now at this point, Yaśodā got distracted because the jeweler, who is making crowns for Kṛṣṇa, had come to the house, and she had to go and talk to him. So she turned to Dhaniṣṭhā and said, “You keep an eye on this box until I get back. You know in a little while Abhimanyu will come, and he will take this box with him when he is finished meeting with my husband.”
Upon hearing these final words, Kṛṣṇa devised a plan. As soon as Yaśodā left, He emptied all the contents of the box, and he climbed in the box. He entrusted the contents to Dhaniṣṭhā to hide them so they wouldn’t be found. Now you remember, she is very cooperative, so once He is inside, He has Dhaniṣṭhā to ensure to close the lock and secure it. A little later, Yaśodā returned with Abhimanyu, presented him [with] the box and gives him the following message that he has to give to Śrī Rādhā, “Oh, fame of Kīrtidā, I have sent You a box full of wonders. You should use these wonders to daily ornament Yourself and dress Yourself. May You forever be happy, radiant and fortunate with these gifts.” Abhimanyu thanked Yaśodā a hundred times and with some difficulty, he put this heavy box on his head and set out on the long road back to Yavat. Now very strange things happened when Abhimanyu was carrying this box. He finds himself filled with joy, a joy that he has not experienced from all the wealth that he has got. His body gets goosebumps, his eyes becomes moist with tears. Well, of course, this is all because he is in the touch with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the source of all bliss, right there on his head. In the meantime, Kṛṣṇa, who is in the box, can barely contain His laughing at the fact that Abhimanyu is carrying Him to meet Śrī Rādhā.
Breathlessly, Abhimanyu finally enters the house and tells Jaṭilā about this wonderful box that has been sent by Yaśodā for Śrī Rādhā. Jaṭilā was reflecting on the wealth that must be in the box, and there really is a wealth in this box. She thinks, “Oh, with this present, my daughter-in-law will finally be happy with my son,” so she instructs Abhimanyu, “Go ahead and take this to Śrī–Rādhā’s quarters. She is in Her room sulking.” Abhimanyu carries this box up and finds indeed there is Śrī Rādhā in Her room sulking. Now an interesting thing happens, as he totters in the door almost losing his balance, leaning forward, this wave of bliss flows out from this box engulfing all the Gopīs in the room including Śrī Rādhā, and Śrī Rādhā Herself begins to twitch on Her left side.
It is described that this box, being placed in the room, was perceived by the Gopīs as if the Sun Himself had entered into the room. Rādhā turned to Lalitā and She said, “I feel my mother-in-law’s house is like a prison, but why do I suddenly feel happy and notice my left side is twitching? Just seeing this box brings Me great happiness. I can’t imagine how happy I will be when I open it.” All the cowherd girls, they clatter around the box and encouraged Rādhā, “Stop what you are doing and open the box right now.” It is described that as Rādhārāṇī approaches the box and reaches out to touch it, a wave of amorous blissful desire completely engrosses Her like a bolt of lightning coming from a rain cloud. As a result, She pulls Her hand back and is a little suspicious, “What is in there?” But all the girls are pressing Her forward, until She actually agrees, “Okay.” She unlocks the box and throws back the lid.
When She throws back the lid, the instant it’s opened, Kṛṣṇa whips up, standing up inside the box with His hands thrown into the air. Then He places His hands on His hips and looks around the room with His eyebrows dancing up and down. The Gopīs all exclaimed, “Hah! What is this?” Extremely pleased with His own trickery, Kṛṣṇa jumps out of the box, revolves around the room, and kisses each one of the Gopīs. Having a rare opportunity to be inside of Śrī Rādhā’s quarters, He began to investigate everything in the room. Laughing in great pleasure, Lalitā repeated the loud message of Yaśodā and exclaimed, “Well, it is true, this is a glorious gift. But Yaśodā, Jaṭilā and Your husband have all ordered You to wear this gift.” Rādhā began to blush, and all the Gopīs cheered at this, and then Rādhā got a little angrier. She began to wag Her finger at Kṛṣṇa. She was addressing the girls, chastising Kṛṣṇa, “This thief has stolen all of My gifts in this box, and before He could get out of the box, My husband has brought Him here. Go and get Jaṭilā and tell her about this.” In great joy, Lalitā joins Her in the front. “You rascal, stealing Rādhā’s gifts. You are dedicated to ruining the chastity of all women on this earth. Have you no shame?” Kṛṣṇasaid, “No, no. This isn’t true at all. There was this nice empty box at Yaśodā’s quarters and it was all padded and I thought, ‘Oh, what a great place for a nap.’ So I climbed in and went to sleep and someone closed the lid, and here I am.” In this way, the Gopīs, Kṛṣṇaand Lalitā and Rādhā they go back and forth, back and forth for some time, playing different types of word games. Finally, all the Gopīs leave the room, leaving Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa alone. That’s how they enjoyed their enriching pastimes of love here at Yavat.
I leave you with one prayer, “I bow to the marital home of Śrī Rādhā. The walls of this house kept Rādhā from meeting Kṛṣṇa. Therefore She considers it like a dungeon and every brick to be a source of misery.” So may we all keep these handfuls of pastimes eagerly in our hearts.
Śrī Yavat Dhām ki- Jaya!
Śrī-Śrī Rādhārāṇī ki –Jaya!
Śrī Kṛṣṇa ki –Jaya!
Gaura Premanande – Haribol! [claps]
Being on time –ki [Laughs: Ha-ha-ha-ha]