Caitanya Mahaprabhu as Radha Krsna with Ramananda Raya

Prema-vilāsa-vivarta—Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s divine play with Śrī Rādhā – Part 1

At the request of a friend, Babaji’s editor and co-author Navadvipa Das Ji, translated Śrī Radha-Govinda-natha’s six-page Bengali commentary on the eighth Chapter of Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā, Text 150 (191 in the BBT edition), dealing with prema-vilāsa-vivarta. We are sharing it in two installments. Here is the first part, beginning with text 149.  

prabhu kahe – ei haya, āge kaha āra

rāya kahe – ihā va-i buddhi-gati nāhi āra

Mahāprabhu said: “What you have said [regarding the vilāsa of Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa] is perfectly appropriate. If anything more lies beyond this, please disclose it.”

Rāmānanda Rāya replied: “Beyond this, there is nothing that lies within the scope of my intellectual grasp (buddhi-gati).” (CC 2.8.149)


            It is due exclusively to the overpowering influence of prema—here signifying, the innate disposition (vāsanā) to please Śrī Kṛṣṇa in every possible manner—that the root longing (vāsanā) for the intuition of vilāsa was awakened [in Mahāprabhu], and on the pretext of this awakening of vilāsa, the glory (mahimā) of prema became manifested. On this account, Prabhu wished to hear the glory of the vilāsa of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. In the course of describing the glory of vilāsa, Rāmānanda Rāya spoke of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s feature as dhīra-lalita, “a hero in the aesthetics of amorous seduction.” All of the characteristics of the dhīra-lalita feature described by him are indicators of the glory (māhātmya) of the vilāsa arising from Rādhā’s prema.

            In examining the question of just how great (mahān) is the transcendental entity (vastu) known as vilāsa, it must first be emphasized that its influence was exerted on none other than He who is omnipresent (sarvaga), limitless (ananta), omniscient (vibhu), the womb of all existence (sarva-yoni), the ground of all being (sarvāśraya), the Source of all potencies (sarva-śaktimān), the propounder of all the Vedas, and He of infinite glory, the end of which is never reached even by the Śrutis themselves, in spite of proclaiming them continuously throughout ceaseless revolutions of the cosmic ages (yuga-yugānta). It is in this Śrī Kṛṣṇa-candra Himself, who is the Supremely Independent Reality (parama-svatantra), the Supreme Absolute (parama-brahma), and the transcendentally qualified Personal Absolute in His ownmost original identity (Svayam Bhagavān), that vilāsa impelled an irresistible urge (loluptā) for rasa and compelled Him to come under the control (vaśyatā) of His preyasīs. Having awakened the most profound state of enthrallment (mugdhatva) in this crown jewel of Omniscience (sarvajña-śiromaṇi), vilāsa bound Him, although He is the All-pervading Reality (sarva-vyāpaka tattva), to remain day and night in the secluded groves of Vṛndāvana out of greed (lobha) for the company of His preyasīs. Who then can describe the greatness of the transcendental entity (vastu) known as vilāsa and the magnitude of its majestic power (śakti-mahīyasī)?

            The glory (mahimā) of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s vilāsa that was disclosed by Rāmānanda Rāya was of such unfathomable import, yet Prabhu remained unsatiated even by this and wished to hear something more. Effectively, Prabhu said to him: “Rāmānanda, there is no doubt that in your discussion, the extraordinary glory (asādhāraṇa-mahattva) of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s vilāsa is certainly disclosed. Yet, I wish to know all the truths regarding the glory of vilāsa of which you have not yet spoken as well as whatever confidential mystery (gūḍha rahasya) there may yet be. Please continue, Rāmānanda.”

            Hearing this, Rāmānanda Rāya replied: “Prabhu, there is nothing beyond what I have spoken that lies within the scope of my intellectual grasp (buddhi-gati).” In reality, there is not even a single topic regarding the existential truth of the aesthetics of transcendental play (līlā-rasa-tattva) that is accessible to anyone’s intellective capacity (buddhi-gamya). Such topics can be immediately intuited (anubhava-gamya) only by the grace of Bhagavān.



ye vā prema-vilāsa-vivarta eka haya

tāhā śuni tomāra sukha haya ki nā haya

Rāmānanda Rāya then said to Mahāprabhu: “There is, however, one other essential truth, known as prema-vilāsa-vivarta. Please hear of it and decide whether or not it meets with Your pleasure.” (CC 2.8.150)



Hearing Prabhu’s words, Rāmānanda Rāya said: “Prabhu, it is true that the confidential mystery (gūḍha rahasya) of the glory of vilāsa is beyond the purview of my intellect. Yet by Your grace, I have at once realized the truth that the glory of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s vilāsa is the most confidential mystery (gūḍhatama rahasya). In the song of my own composition, I will endeavor to provide an indication of this mystery. I will sing this song and thus enable You to hear it. The mystery that is indicated in this song is known as prema-vilāsa-vivarta.”

We will now comment on Rāmānanda’s statement: “Please hear of it and decide whether or not it meets with Your pleasure” (tāhā śuni tomāra sukha haya ki nā haya). Rāmānanda said: “Yet, Prabhu, in this song of my composition, I do not know whether or not I will be able to convey the true significance of this indication, and whether or not I will be able to bring about the disclosure of the most confidential mystery of the glory of vilāsa. If I am not able to do so, then You will derive no pleasure by hearing my song. Or, if in my song there is no indication of the mystery You wish to uncover, then also it will not meet with Your pleasure—then Your root longing (vāsanā) will not be satiated. Hence, the doubt has arisen in my mind, Prabhu, as to whether or not You will be pleased by hearing my song. Nonetheless, I myself will sing my song and thus enable You to hear it. Please hear it, Prabhu, and see whether or not it contains the transcendental entity (vastu, i.e., vilāsa) that is the object of Your longing (abhilaṣita).”

This song is cited in payāras 152-156. In the midst of this song, Śrī Rādhā says: “He [Kṛṣṇa] cannot be identified as my lover (ramaṇa), nor I as His beloved (ramaṇī). The innate longing born from our hearts [manobhava, i.e., the vāsanā to please each other] has powdered our two minds into a unified substance, such that [all distinction between us has disappeared]” (CC 2.8.153). The most confidential mystery of the glory of vilāsa is implicit in this verse. But what exactly is this mystery? In order to uncover this mystery, it will be helpful to first examine the meaning of the term prema-vilāsa-vivarta.

The term prema-vilāsa means “the divine play (vilāsa, i.e., kheli) arising from prema.” The word prema means “the innate disposition (vāsanā) to please only the object (viṣaya) of one’s love, without the faintest trace of desire for personal happiness (sva-sukha-vāsanā).” On this basis, prema-vilāsa means “the divine play (vilāsa) brought into unification (saṅghaṭita) by the impelling force (preraṇā) of the innate disposition (vāsanā) arising from such prema.” This is not the vilāsa that is incited by the desire for personal happiness. Such self-interested enjoyment is known as kāma-vilāsa, which is comparable to the enjoyment of animals. Not only is it devoid of all glory, but it is also a matter of abhorrence. The word prema in prema-vilāsa refutes any possibility that the reference could be to kāma-vilāsa. Syntactically, the term prema-vilāsa-vivarta thus means “the vivarta of the divine play (vilāsa) arising from prema.” But what is the meaning of the word vivarta? The word vivarta is filled with the most profound significance (viśeṣa-gurutva-pūrṇa) and imbued with inscrutable mystery (rahasyamaya).

In his commentary on this payāra, Śrīpāda Viśvanātha Cakravartī has glossed the word vivarta as viparīta, meaning “inverted” or “reversed.” In his commentary on Ujjavala-nīlamaṇi, Uddīpana-vibhāva-prakaraṇa, verse 37, Śrīpāda Jīva Gosvāmī has glossed the word vivarta as paripākaḥ, meaning “fully ripened,” “completely evolved,” or “uniquely transformed” (i.e., viśeṣeṇa vṛttaḥ), in his comment on the phrase bakārer mādhurīṇāṁ nava-vivartaḥ, “the ever-newly completely evolved state of Bakāri’s [Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s] mellifluousness.” In addition, one common meaning of the word vivarta that is known to all is bhrama, or “perplexity.”

Consequently, the word vivarta is understood to have three meanings—namely, “inverted” (viparīta) or “inversion” (vaiparītya); “completely evolved” (paripāka) or “complete evolution” (paripakvatā); and “perplexity” (bhrama) or “confusion” (bhrānti). In the context of the analysis of the term prema-vilāsa-vivarta, these three meanings all have utility (upayogitā) and significance (sārthakatā). Among these three meanings, the sense of the word vivarta as “completely evolved” (paripāka) certainly carries the primary (mukhya) utility and significance. The meanings of vivarta as “inverted” and as “perplexity” carry concomitant (ānuṣāṅgika) utility and significance. They are external symptoms (bahir-lakṣaṇas) or indicators (sūcakas) of the primary meaning (mukhya-artha) as “completely evolved” (paripāka). The meaning as paripāka is thus the whole (aṅgī) of which viparīta and bhrama are its component parts (aṅga).

If we take the primary sense of the word vivarta, the meaning of the term prema-vilāsa-vivarta would be “the complete evolution (paripakvatā), or in other words, the state of the highest exultation (carama-utkarṣa-avasthā), of the divine play (vilāsa) arising from prema.” In this state of supreme exultation, two symptoms (lakṣaṇas) are manifested—namely, “perplexity” (bhrānti) and “inversion” (vaiparītya). An object (vastu) that is imperceptible (alakṣya) by the cognitive senses can be recognized by its external symptoms (bāhira-lakṣaṇas). The state of the highest exultation (carama-utkarṣa-avasthā) of the divine play (vilāsa) arising from prema is imperceptible by the cognitive senses. Its presence can be inferred only by all those symptoms (lakṣaṇas) that are manifested externally. Consequently, Cakravartipāda specifies one of these symptoms as “inverted” (viparīta) or “inversion” (vaiparītya). An additional symptom is “perplexity” (bhrānti), which gives rise to the state of inversion. How this is so will now be examined.

In the fourth Ullāsa of Kāvya-Prakāśa, in the commentary on the verse dhanyāsi yā kathayasi, it is written: “The supreme state (caramāvasthā) of amorous play (kāma-krīḍā) is the state of complete identity or oneness (tanmayatā) with vilāsa alone.” The state of the highest exultation of vilāsa, or in other words, of complete oneness with vilāsa alone, is one in which the lovers have no occupation (vyāpāra) whatsoever other than vilāsa. Moreover, the hero and heroine (nāyaka-nāyikā) are devoid of cognizance (anusandhāna) even of their own existence (asthitva). When this state arises, the object of the lovers’ remembrance (smṛti) and cognizance (anusandhāna) is nothing other than vilāsa. The one and only object of their attention (anusandhāna) is how the systematic unfolding (pāripāṭya), or the unique marvel (vaicitrī), of vilāsa can be brought to consummation—how the bliss (ānanda) of vilāsa can be further augmented. Moreover, when in the act of attending (anusandhāna) exclusively to vilāsa, the lovers are bereft even of the awareness (anubhuti) of who is doing so—then, under the influence of progressively evolving supreme longing (carama-utkaṇṭhā), inversion (vaiparītya) of the hero and heroine’s actions becomes possible.

An indication of this inversion is found three verses later in Rādhā’s song: “He [Kṛṣṇa] cannot be identified as my lover (ramaṇa), nor I as His beloved (ramaṇī). The innate longing born from our hearts [manobhava, i.e., the vāsanā to please each other] has powdered our two minds into a unified substance, such that [all distinction between us has disappeared].” In glossing the word vivarta as viparīta, Cakravartipāda might well have had this specific instance of inversion (vaiparītya) in mind. The immediate cause of this inversion is the state of perplexity (bhrānti)—the state of forgetfulness of themselves (ātma-vismṛti) as hero and heroine (nāyaka-nāyikā). This state of perplexity (bhrānti) is itself the result of complete identity (tanmayatā) with vilāsa alone. Thus, perfect identification with vilāsa alone is that by which the state of the highest exultation of vilāsa is recognized. Because this state is imperceptible to the senses, it is understood by the perplexity (bhrānti) that arises from it, and by the inversion (vaiparītya) of action that arises out of perplexity. In this respect, the three previously mentioned meanings of the word vivarta are admitted. The primary meaning is “complete evolution” (paripakvatā) or “the state of supreme exultation” (carama-utkarṣa-avasthā). “Perplexity” (bhrānti) is its consequence, and “inversion” is the result of the latter.

This inversion of action (vaiparītya), or inverted play (viparīta-vihāra), is, however, only an external symptom (bāhira-lakṣaṇa) of the state of the highest exultation of prema-vilāsa. Of its own accord, it is not the state of highest exultation. Moreover, this type of inversion is not even the prime symptom (viśea-lakṣaṇa) of prema-vilāsa-vivarta. This inversion does not indicate the state of the highest exultation of prema-vilāsa in all situations. If this inversion occurs through active involvement of the will on the part of the hero and heroine, then it is not an indicator (paricāyaka) of the state of the highest exultation of vilāsa. Rather, if this inversion (vaiparītya) manifests of its own accord (svata sphūrta) unknown to the lovers under the influence of complete self-forgetfulness (sampūra ātma-vismti), or in other words, out of the perplexity (bhrama) that arises from the state of perfect identity or oneness (tanmayatā) with vilāsa alone, then only inversion (vaiparītya) is a true indicator (paricāyaka) of prema-vilāsa-vivarta, and not otherwise. In the introductory volume of the six volume edition of Caitanya-caritāmta (p. 222-237), there is an elaborate essay on the topic of prema-vilāsa-vivarta, which may also be consulted. The nature of this inversion (vaiparītya) will be described a little further ahead with reference to the statements of Gopāla-campu.

In the state of the highest exultation of the divine play (vilāsa) arising from prema, due to the compelling force of complete identity with vilāsa alone, the crown jewel of heroes (nāyaka-śiromaṇi), Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and the crown jewel of heroines (nāyikā-śiromaṇi), Śrī Rādhā, have only one root longing (vāsanā) in their hearts—namely, the longing to expand the bliss of vilāsa. At such times, their two minds become as if one. This is the import of Rādhā’s upcoming statement (verse 153): “The innate longing born from our hearts [manobhava, i.e., the vāsanā to please each other] has powdered our two minds into a unified substance, such that [all distinction between us has disappeared].”

In stating that their two minds had become one, the implication is that they no longer held any awareness (jñāna) of the distinction (bheda) between them. The state of the highest exultation of prema-vilāsa occurs only in the absence of the awareness of this distinction (bheda-jñāna-rāhitya), which itself arises out of complete identification (tanmayatā) with vilāsa alone. Śrīpāda Kavi Karṇapūra has also confirmed the same point in his Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta Mahākāvya: “Having disclosed the state of the highest exultation of prema implicit in the exceptionally skilled hero and heroine (vidagdha-nāgara-nāgarī) [Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa], Rāmānanda Rāya sang a song that is relished by their love-laden companions (sarasāli-pītam) and that brings to light the state of supreme oneness (paraikya) of the two lovers” (Sarga 13.45).

End of part 1. Translation by Navadvipa Das

4 thoughts on “Prema-vilāsa-vivarta—Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s divine play with Śrī Rādhā – Part 1”

  1. What a joy! Thank you to everyone involved in producing this!

    I have a simple, basic question.

    In the paradigm presented here, Bhagavan is overcome by a shakti. Advaitavāda proposes the same thing, but we find it illogical and unacceptable. My question is, “How is the Advaitavāda proposition different from what is proposed here by Gauḍīya-vedānta?”

    If asked this question myself, I would reply that the Bhagavan can be overcome by whatever he wills to overcome him (tat-tvam-asi proof: analgous to how people willingly distract or intoxicate themselves). The difference between Advaitavāda and Gauḍīyavāda is that Bhagavan would have no reason to be overcome in the way Advaitavāda suggests – for being overcome by mahāmāyā results in suffering which no living thing seeks. On the contrary, since being overcome by vilāsa leads to otherwise unobtainable heights of ānanda, it makes perfect sense for Bhagavan to desire to be overwhelmed by it.

    Would this reply be sensible?

    1. Dear Vraja-kisora,

      Thanks for your comment and question. The translation of this text was done entirely by me. There was no other editing of the text because originally I translated it only as a favor for a friend, with no idea of publishing it. I think you can see that when dealing with such subtle and technical topics, the precision and complexity of language is required to carry the meaning. The same is equally true of the Sandarbhas, which you might be reading. I know that several years ago you had some issues with my language being too complex, but perhaps your comment signals a change of view.

      Regarding your question, it appears that you have pretty much answered it yourself. The key point is that in the Kevala Advaita view, Maya (i.e., the extrinsic potency) is superimposed on nirguna Brahman, which is metaphysically impossible. In the Vaisnava view, Bhagavan submits to His own Yoga-maya, or intrinsic potency. The two potencies are categorically distinct. So there is no contradiction. All these points become very clear in Priti Sandarbha. Bhagavan has two types of ananda—that belonging to His essential being (svarupa-ananda) and that belonging to the potency that manifests exterior to His essential being (svarupa-sakti-ananda). Bhagavan derives more bliss from the sakti that is transmitted into the hearts of His devotees and manifests as prema, or in this case, vilasa. Thus, it is natural that although He is supremely independent, He submits to His own intrinsic potency because it gives Him and His devotees the greatest bliss. In the case of Brahman, however, even if it were somehow possible to fall under the conditioning of illusory Maya, why would the Absolute as consciousness alone (jnana-matra), ever choose to do so? Moreover, is the expression of will even possible in Brahman, when it is devoid of all visesa? This is the main point.

      Yours in seva,

      Navadvipa das

    2. Dear Navadvipa Ji,

      Pranam! Thank you for you clear reply. I cannot let this opportunity pass without clearing up an apparent misconception. You say I felt your editorial language is too complex. Please confirm this with Bābājī, but just the opposite is true. I am in awe of your terminology and praise it sincerely.

      It is just not my personal style. Like one cook may specialize in refined cuisine and another may specialize in rustic culinary techniques. I am the roti-walla. You are the royal-chef.

    3. Vraja-kisora,


      It’s nice to be in touch with you again. There must be an ongoing connection between us because as far back as my days in the Vrndavana gurukula in the early nineties, we were brought together unexpectedly to work on “Waves of Devotion.”

      I liked your analogy about the different types of cooks. The point is that we are all endowed with different capacities and many different styles of writing are required to suit the needs of different readers. Translations of core texts like the Sandarbhas require the highest standard of language because of the subtlety and complexity of the topics discussed therein and because they are the standard for a critical understanding of Gaudiya siddhanta. But the same topics need to be broken down and expressed in simpler language for general understanding. This too is no less demanding because to express an idea simply but elegantly is truly an art. At times, a skilled rustic cook just can’t be beat!

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