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Discussions on the doctrines of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Please place practical questions under the Miscellaneous forum and set this aside for the more theoretical side of it.

Status of gopis' husbands - Are they independent entities or not?



Kalkidas - Sun, 20 Mar 2005 21:09:26 +0530
Sometimes it's interesting to explore the sources of your own beliefs and realisations.
Recently I was asked to give supporting citations from granthas of our acaryas to one of my statements. Namely, I said, that according to my personal understanding and teachings of our acaryas, so called "husbands" of Srimati Radhika and other gopis in aprakata-lilas at Goloka are not independent persons, but rather some sort of illusory creatures, that Yoga-maya of Krishna makes in order to satisfy gopis' desire for engaging themselves in paramour mood of love for Bhagavan. They are simply one of characteristic features of gopi itself, like name, age, body luster, etc., that makes gopi to think "I am the wife of another person".

Surprisingly, my search through sources, available to me, showed, that acaryas rather comment on prakata lilas of Krishna, where, of course, gopis' husbands are real persons (but fake husbands, because of work of Yoga-maya, who makes replicas of gopis, who spend nights with husbands of their originals, while gopis themselves spend nights with Krishna), than on situation in aprakata-lilas.
Frankly, I found only one supporting statement in commentary on Brahma Samhita 5.37 by Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvata Thakura (which, I believe, faithfully follows Bengali commentary of Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakura):

"But in Goloka He divides up His cit potency into thousands of goals and eternally engages in amorous pastimes with them by forgetting the sentiments of ownership. By the sentiments of ownership there cannot be the extreme inaccessibility of the rasa. So the gopis have naturally, from eternity, the innate sentiment of being others' wedded wives. Krishna too in response to that sentiment, by assuming the reciprocal sentiment of paramourship, performs the rasa and the other amorous pastimes with the aid of the flute, His favorite cher ami. Goloka is the transcendental seat of eternally self-realized rasa, beyond limited conception. Hence in Goloka there is realization of the sentimental assumption of the rasa of paramourship.
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In the Lord of Goloka and the Lord of Gokula the character of paramourship is found in its complete form. Krishna's deliberate overstepping of His own quality of self-delightedness is caused by the desire of union with another's wedded wife. The state of being another's wedded wife is nothing but the corresponding assumed sentiment on the part of the gopis. In reality they have no husbands with independent and separate existence; still their very egoistic sentiment makes them have the nature of the wedded wives of others. So all the characteristics, viz., that "desire makes the paramour overstep the bounds of duty," etc., are eternally present in the seat of all-deliciousness. In Vraja that very thing reveals itself, to an extent, in a form more tangible to persons with mundane eyes.


Jiva Gosvami in his commentary to this verse says something opposite:

The word "nija-rupataya" means that the gopis are the wives of Lord Krishna. However, it is not in the Lord's manifest (prakata) pastimes that the gopis are the wives of Lord Krishna. The most exalted goddesses of fortune are the wives of Lord Krishna alone. They cannot be the wives of anyone else. However, in the Lord's manifested (prakata) pastimes in the material world, by the power of the maya potency, the gopis may seem to be the wives of others, wives who nonetheless intently yearn t o attain Lord Krishna.

But Jiva is well known for his affinity to "svakiya-vada". It would be definitely interesting to compare Sri Visvanath commentary to this verse with commentary of Sri Jiva and SBT/SBSST, but they say it was lost...

Can somebody shed light on this question (are gopis' husbands in aprakata Goloka independent persons or not?) from some other sources? May be, Sri Visvanath says something on this in his SvakIyAtva-nirAsa-vicAraH parakIyAtva-nirUpaNam (it's beyond my knowledge of Sanskrit)?
Madhava - Sun, 20 Mar 2005 22:58:46 +0530
Krishna-sandarbha would be the text of choice to study for this question.

At the end of anuccheda 171, Sri Jiva describes the relationship of the gopis and their husbands as prAtItika-mAtraM, na tu daihikam -- imaginary only, not physical. And why does such a relationship exist? tAsAm utkaNTha-poSArtham -- for the sake of nourishing the eagerness of the gopis (ibid.).

Jiva Goswami goes to great lengths in explaining how the "reality" of the matter is a state of svakIyatva, since Sri Krishna, being the original personality of godhead, is the only rightful enjoyer of his potencies. The parakIyatva, he says, exists in the minds of the Vraja-gopis, not being an ontological truth.

In anuccheda 177, Jiva explains that the Vraja-gopis participate in various sports with Krishna in their siddha-svarUpa, and the forms displayed in the presence of the husbands are kalpita, or illusory. Sri Krishna's own potency takes care of this, he says. The illusory form he likens to a chaya, or a shadow.

Further on in the chapter, Jiva points out how the gopis' being beyond the control of their husbands (in situations such as escaping for the rasa-lila) demonstrates the imaginary nature of the relationship.

With regards to the gopis' children referred to in the Bhagavata (10.29.20), he says that the statement is to be taken as referring to the younger children of the gopis' mothers, as any other interpretation would be vulgar and rasAbhAsa. Commenting further on Sri Krishna's statement on the gopis' leaving their parents, brothers, sons and even husbands, he considers the mention of sons and husbands as parihAsatva, being made in jest.

That's something for now. I'm looking into the contrast between prakaTa and aprakaTa, if mentioned anywhere, and will get back to this.
Madhava - Sun, 20 Mar 2005 23:04:44 +0530
QUOTE(Kalkidas @ Mar 20 2005, 04:39 PM)
Jiva Gosvami in his commentary to this verse says something opposite:

I don't quite follow the contrast you see between the two commentaries. Could you spell it out, please?
Kalkidas - Mon, 21 Mar 2005 01:07:13 +0530
QUOTE(Madhava @ Mar 20 2005, 08:34 PM)
QUOTE(Kalkidas @ Mar 20 2005, 04:39 PM)
Jiva Gosvami in his commentary to this verse says something opposite:

I don't quite follow the contrast you see between the two commentaries. Could you spell it out, please?



I see contrast exactly in the mood. As you wrote in your first reply: "The parakIyatva, he says, exists in the minds of the Vraja-gopis, not being an ontological truth."

But in this commentary by Sri Jiva Gosvamipada there is no even slightest hint on parakIyatva even in mind of gopis, if i've get it right:

What then may be said of the gopis, who are so dear to the Lord? These most exalted goddesses reside in that realm of Lord Krishna. That is described in this verse. Here the word "ananda-cinmaya-rasa" means "the splendid ujjvala-rasa, which contains the most intense spiritual love" and "pratibhavitabhih" means "they who worship the Lord in that ujjvala rasa".
The use of the prefix "prati" means that all of the dear associates of the Lord who reside in the realm of Goloka, the gopis are the most exalted. The reason for this is given in the word "kalabhih", which means "they whose forms are manifestations of the Lord's hladini sakti (pleasure potency)". This is shown by the use of the word "prati".
The word "nija-rupataya" means that the gopis are the wives of Lord Krishna. However, it is not in the Lord's manifest (prakata) pastimes that the gopis are the wives of Lord Krishna. The most exalted goddesses of fortune are the wives of Lord Krishna alone. They cannot be the wives of anyone else. However, in the Lord's manifested (prakata) pastimes in the material world, by the power of the maya potency, the gopis may seem to be the wives of others, wives who nonetheless intently yearn to attain Lord Krishna.
The words "ya eva" imply that although in the Lord's manifested (prakata) pastimes in the material world the gopis act like the wives of others, in the Lord's unmanifested (aparakata) pastimes in the realm of Goloka (goloke), the gopis manifest their original pastimes (nija-rupataya nivasati).
Here the word "nivasati" means "is manifested". This is explained in the Gautamiya Tantra, where in the description of the Lord unmanifested (aprakata) eternal pastimes and features it is said:
"After many births they became perfect. They became gopis who have Lord Krishna as their husband."
The phrase "goloka eva" refers to the place where these pastimes manifested. These pastimes are not manifested in any other place.


(http://www.indiadivine.org/brahma-samhita4.htm)
Madhava - Mon, 21 Mar 2005 14:09:11 +0530
In the passage above, Sri Jiva does not speak of the moods of the gopIs. The section from Krishna-sandarbha I referred to addresses the issue, ascribing a sense of parakIyatva to them.

However it seems clear to me from the passage you cite that the gopIs do act like the wives of others in the prakaTa-lIlA.

I've heard that in the aprakaTa-lIlA, the husbands would be of an even more illusory nature than in the prakaTa. However I couldn't find that discussed in Krishna-sandarbha, nor can I think of other sources just now.

With regards to "becoming perfected after many births", if we were to look at parakIyatva as a kind of imperfection, we could not possibly extend the statement to include the nitya-siddha-gopIs.
Gaurasundara - Tue, 22 Mar 2005 05:39:19 +0530
Can I ask what exactly is meant by the "illusory nature" of the gopis' "husbands" in boh prakata and aprakata lilas?

In prakata, do they exist at all? I mean, let's just say if Krishna were on earth round now and dallying with the gopis and such, and if a traveller were to chance upon Vraja, they would be shocked to find this going on by material standards right? A hypothetical observer would be shocked to find how so many women are having illicit affairs with the local cowherd, is it not? This line of thinking would presume that the husbands of these women were also existing and would be much upset.

In aprakata, what is meant by "even more illusory nature"? Do they exist at all? Is it just the "idea" of the husbands being around that invokes a sense of fear amongst the gopis' of getting found out?
Rasaraja dasa - Tue, 22 Mar 2005 19:48:00 +0530
Dandavats. All glories to the Vaisnavas.

My understanding was always that the illusory aspects are based on the relationships perceived by the Gopi's husbands and even family member's not that the husbands do not exist at all or that they exist on a different level. Much of the "flavor" of the relationships between Krsna and the Gopi's is based on their home life along with those particular relationships and the tension created by their one minded love for Krsna. From that perspective the "illusion" being referred to was really in the husbands and families inability to see the heart of the Gopi's and perceive their activities, etc.

I remember some asking if this was true then how could it be that the Gopi's are maintaining a relationship with their husband, specifically referring to intimacy, and at the same time with Krnsa. The response was that due to the Gopi's young age that this seemed natural to all and that such a dynamic wasn't a consideration.

To be honest I havenít really even thought of this for many years so I don't have any source material to refer to at this point but I can jump on in a couple of weeks from now as I am dealing with a tremendous amount of time sensitive workload over the next few weeks. I do look forward to reading more on this aspect in the meantime.

Radhe Radhe!

Aspiring to serve the Vaisnavas,
Rasaraja dasa