Vanity thought #1272. Other evidence

There is another source of Tulasī Devī story and, perhaps, looking at it could redeem the bad taste left by reading Devī Bhāgavata. It’s all a bit confusing because I don’t know what to trust. Unlike Devī Bhāgavata, Brahma Vaivarta Puraṇa is one of the eighteen major ones and it has been extensively quoted in our literature. On the other hand, there is no authorized English translation of it and no one knows whether the text found on the internet can be trusted, ie it’s the same book our ācāryas had quoted from.

Brahma Vaivarta Puraṇa has eighteen thousands verses, just like Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, and it consists of four Cantos covering Lord Brahmā and his sons, Prakṛti, ie goddes of the śaktis, the part about Gaṇeśa, and the last part is about Kṛṣṇa’s appearance on Earth.

Interestingly, the whole puraṇa practically starts with the Tulasī story, from the second chapter on. It starts with a description of the quarrel between Śrīdāmā, not Sudāmā, as in Devī Bhāgavata, and Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. I don’t know if this distinction is important, both Sudāmā and Śrīdāmā are Kṛṣṇa’s best friends and they probably play similar roles, it could have been either of them. To get the name wrong, however, is still suspicious.

Brahma Vaivarta Puraṇa starts with adding one more curse to Tulasī story – Śrīdāmā also cursed Śrī Rādhā to be born as a gopī on Earth and Kṛṣṇa had to console her that it would be okay. I don’t know what is it with devotees in Goloka cursing each other to be born in the material world as if it’s nothing. One could say that these curses are still rare and can’t be accounted for the entire population of the universe but who knows, each of these personalities is accompanied by millions and millions or friends and servants and we have no idea if they don’t curse each other as well, following the examples of their masters. There’s also the point that pastimes in the spiritual world are replayed again and again unlimited number of times and if every time someone gets cursed the numbers must eventually add up. I just don’t like the idea at all – not a leaf was supposed to fall from Vaikuṇṭha, right?

Moving on, after being cursed Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī got the opportunity to get back at Śrīdāmā and the third chapter describes the episode with her catching Kṛṣṇa enjoying with Viraja and Śrīdāmā paying the price. In this version Rādhārāṇī’s friends first spotted them together and informed her about it. She went to the place but Viraja turned into a river while Kṛṣṇa simply disappeared. After Śrī Rādhā was gone Kṛṣṇa reappeared and plead with Viraja to turn back into a woman again. Then they had sex and Viraja became pregnant. I don’t know what to think about it, no comment. It’s just gross.

A hundred years have passed and finally she gave birth to seven sons. How that works in the spiritual world I do not know, so far the Puraṇa hasn’t given any explanations on the nature of Goloka. Then it gets worse.

One time Viraja was having fun with Kṛṣṇa but her youngest son came to sit on her laps. While she was attending to him Kṛṣṇa got up and left for Rādhā’s place. When Viraja realized that Kṛṣṇa was gone she cursed her son to be born on Earth as a salt water ocean no one would drink water from. Then she cursed the other six boys for good measure, too. They weren’t even there, this stuff is unbelievable.

That’s the story of the seven oceans, at least the older boys got to be made of sugarcane juice or milk so there was that going for them.

Back in the Goloka, Viraja realized that she was unfair and she started crying for her children, but then Kṛṣṇa came back and she forgot all about it. What kind of motherly love is that? After a new round of pastimes with Kṛṣṇa everything was back to normal but Rādhā’s spies caught them and told Rādhā all about it. When Kṛṣṇa and Śrīdāmā showed at her place she was very angry and told Kṛṣṇa to get lost, find Himself another girl, follow Viraja and become a river, too, and so on. Her servants would simply not let Him enter and Kṛṣṇa had to go to some other gopī’s house.

That’s when Śrīdāmā got angry, too. He started to describe Kṛṣṇa’s glories and in the end said that Rādhā and all her friends are in His dominion, too, so she has no right to speak to Kṛṣṇa this way. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī couldn’t tolerate being lectured, compared Śrīdāmā to a demon, and cursed him to be born as Śankhācūda.

In response, Śrīdāmā compared her to an ordinary woman and cursed her to be born on ordinary woman’s womb. He said that she would have Kṛṣṇa’s company in Vṛndāvana but after that she would suffer in separation for one hundred years. This was probably the curse mentioned in the previous chapter but who’s counting?

The next chapter changes the subject but it describes Goloka and is very informative in this regard. It started with the goddess of the Earth complaining to Lord Brahmā about the weight of the sinners she had to carry. Lord Brahmā took her to Lord Śiva, then they went to Yamarāja, then, as the company grew bigger and bigger, they went ot Vaikuṇṭha where they saw Lord Hari, then Lord Hari told them to go even higher, to Goloka itself. According to Brahma Vaivarta Puraṇa that’s where the world ends and so there’s nothing for me to object, except to the ability of the demigods in Lord Brahmā’s posse to ever go there, or even to Vaikuṇṭha, but it was on Lord Hari’s order so it shouldn’t be a big deal.

The demigods (there were probably a dozen of them at that point) went to the shore of the Viraja river but only three of them crossed it to the actual Goloka.

I’ll just leave the text as it appears here. There are over a hundred verses in this escription and it’s not the end yet, but it’s impressive enough. What I find the most interesting is the number of various servants and their servants with all their āśramas. They went from place to place and everywhere there were billions and billions of houses and palaces. This should give us hope that there might be a place for us somewhere there, too. There’s a place with a billion of āśramas specifically for those who achieved perfection by chanting Lord’s names on Earth, for example, so it should work.

    After gazing at this place, the (three) demigods crossed to the farther shore, where they saw a beautiful mountain with a hundred peaks,…

    …splendid with parijata trees, filled with kalpavrksa trees and surabhi cows,…

    …ten million yojanas high, ten times as long, and five hundred millions yojanas wide,…

    …on its peak a beautiful walled rasadance circle ten yojanas across,…

    …with a thousand gardens of fragrant blossoming flowers attended by swarms of black bees,…

    …splendid with jewelled pastime palaces and with a thousand multiplied by ten million jewel pavilions,…

    …splendid with jewel staircases, beautiful jewel domes, and a splendid emerald pillar studded with rubies and its middle decorated with beautiful sapphires,…

    …splendid with jewel walls and four gates of many jewels,…

    …with many mango trees tied with diamonds, and with many banana trees,…

    …with the leaves of whiterice plants, with fruits, and with durva grass, anointed with sandal, aguru, musk and kunkuma,…

    …filled, O sage with many millions of youthful gopis decorated with jewel ornaments, splendid with jewel necklaces,…

    …decorated with jewel bracelets, armlets, and anklets, their cheeks splendid with jewel earrings,…

    …their fingers beautifully decorated with jewel rings, their toes splendid with a network of jewels,…

    …decorated with jewel ornaments, splendid with jewel crowns, their nostrils splendidly decorated with a gajendrapearl ornament,…

    …the place below their curly hair splendid with a dot of red sindura, their complexions the colour of beautiful campaka flowers, (their limbs) anointed with sandal paste,…

    …dressed in yellow garments, their beautiful lips bimba fruits, the splendour of their faces eclipsing the autumn moonlight,…

    …their eyes eclipsing the beauty of lotuses blooming in autumn, their eyes glistening with black kajjala and designs drawn in musk,…

    …their braids decorated with malata blossoms that attract black bees greedy for nectar,…

    …their graceful motions defeating the elephants and khanjana birds, the crooked motions of their curved eyebrows suggesting a slight smile,…

    …splendid with teeth like ripe pomegranate seeds, decorated with raised noses opulent like the king of birds’ beak,…

    …their heavy breasts like the elephant king’s cheeks, their thighs firm and their hips broad,…

    …their hearts wounded by Kama’s arrows, passionately yearning to gaze on the full moon of (Lord Krsna’s) face…

    …(their forms) beautiful, attached to serving Sri Radha’s lotus feet, and by Radha’s order engaged in protecting that place,…

    …which was always filled with a hundred thousand pastime lakes filled with red and white lohita lotuses, splendid padma lotuses, sweetly humming black bees,…

    …and which had a thousand gardens of blossoming flowers and many forest cottages with couches of flowers,…

    …betel nuts and camphor, jewel lamps, white camaras,…

    …and wonderful, beautiful, and colourful flower garlands. O sage, after seeing this rasa dance circle, the (three) demigods left that mountain.

    Then they saw RadhaKrsna’s favourite forest, which was named Vrndavana forest, which was extraordinarily beautiful and charming,…

    …which was a place where Radha and Krsna enjoyed pastimes, which was filled with kalpavrksa trees and gentle breezes carrying drops of water from the shore of the Viraja river,…

    …which was fragrant with musk designs everywhere, filled with new sprouts and with the cooing of cuckoos,…

    …beautiful with somewhere kelikadamba trees, somewhere mandara trees, somewhere sandal trees, and somewhere campaka trees,…

    …scented with fragrant flowers of mango, nagaranga and panasa trees,…

    …filled with forests of tala, coconut, jambu, badari, kharjura,…

    …guvakamrataka, jambira, banana, sriphala, and pomegranate trees, O Narada,…

    …splendid with many piyala, sala, and banyan trees, with many trees bearing ripe tala fruits,…

    …with many beautiful nimba, salmali, tintidi, and with other kinds of trees,…

    …splendid with many kalpavrksa trees everywhere, with mallika, malati, kunda, ketaki, and madhavi vines,…

    …with many yuthika flowers, with five hundred million forest cottages, O sage,…

    …with jewel lamps, with decorations fragrant with incense, with fragrant breezes,…

    …and with beds made of flowers decorated with a network of flower garlands and scented with sandal filled with sweet sounds of bees greedy for nectar,…

    …filled with gopis beautifully decorated with jewel ornaments, by Radha’s order protected by five hundred million gopis,…

    …filled with thirtytwo forests of which beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, secluded Vrndavana is the best,…

    …filled, O sage, with many perfectly ripe, sweet, delicious fruits, filled with many cows and barns,…

    …filled with a thousand fragrant gardens of blossoming flowers (attracting) hosts of bees greedy for nectar,…

    …and splendid with the jewel homes of five hundred million gopas whose forms were like Sri Krsna’s.

    After gazing at beautiful Vrndavana, the (three) demigods went to circular Goloka, which was ten million yojanas in size,…

    …which was surrounded by a jewel wall with four gates protected by many gopa gatekeepers,…

    …and which had five hundred million asramas of Lord Krsna’s servants, asramas studded with jewels and filled with many delightful things,…

    …one billion asramas of Lord Krsna’s devotees, asramas even more beautifully made of many jewels,…

    …one hundred million asramas of Lord Krsna’s associates, asramas even more beautifully made of precious jewels,…

    …ten million jewel asramas of the Lord’s intimate associates, whose forms were like Lord Krsna’s,…

    … million jewel asramas of gopis purely devoted to Sri Radha,…

    …one hundred million beautiful jewel asramas of these gopis’ maidservants,…

    …and one billion beautiful asramas of they who, purified by austerities in a hundred births, became very firm devotees on earth in Bharatavarsa, awake or asleep rapt in meditation on Lord Hari, and chanting “RadhaKrsna! Krsna!” day and night, asramas made of many jewels, filled with many delightful things, splendid with flower couches, flower garlands, white camaras, jewel mirrors, many sapphires, curtains of fine cloth, and roofs decorated with many domes made of priceless jewels.

    After gazing at this wonderful place, the (three) demigods went a little further and happily saw a beautiful and eternal banyan tree,…

    …five yojanas across and twice as many high, with a thousand trunks and countless branches,…

    …and beautiful with jewel platforms and many ripe jewel fruits. At the root of that tree the demigods saw many cowherd boys who had forms like Lord Krsna,…

    …and who were dressed in yellow garments, attached to playing, handsome, decorated with jewel ornaments, and all of whose limbs were anointed with sandal paste.

    The demigods gazed at these close associates of Lord Hari and then looked far away at the beautiful royal path,…

    ..which was paved with sapphires, rubies, diamonds, rucaka jewels, and jewels the colour of red sindura,…

    …which had many benches and jewel pavilions, which was anointed with sandal, aguru, musk, and kunkuma,…

    …which was splendid with many banana trees decorated with yoghurt drops, leaves, rice, fruit, flowers, sandal anointed flowers strung on fine threads, kunkuma, auspicious jewel bells, and branches filled with fruit,…

    …decorated with flower garlands anointed with sindura, kunkuma, and fragrant sandal,…

    …and filled with many playful gopis.

    Then, seeing in the distance a beautiful place surrounded by a moat and jewel walls with sixteen gates guarded by gatekeepers, splendid with jewel stairways, beautiful curtains more pure than fire, mirrors, white camaras, wonderful jewel beds, and flower garlands and anointed with sandal, aguru, musk, and kunkuma, the demigods became very eager to proceed.

    O Narada, after going a short distance they saw the beautiful asrama of Radha, who is the queen of the rasa dance,…

    …the queen of the demigods, the best of the gopis, and She who to Lord Krsna is more dear than life, a beautiful, beautiful asrama,…

    ..that was completely indescribable, that no great pandita could describe, that was a great circle of six gavyutis,…

    Note: A gavyuti is equal to two miles.

    …that had a hundred palaces, shone with the splendour of many jewels, was made of the best of the best of priceless jewels,…

    …was beautiful with many impassable deep moats, filled with a hundred flower gardens and many kalpavrksa trees, constructed with many jewels, surrounded by great walls,…

    …and was made with jewel benches and seven wonderful jewel gates, O sage,…

    …and a series of seven gates that led, one after the other, to a place of sixteen gates.

    Gazing at this great wall as tall as a thousand bows and splendidly beautiful with many small jewel domes, the (three) demigods became filled with wonder.

    Keeping it on their right, they happily went a small distance behind that asrama.

    There they saw a billion asramas of many gopas and gopis.

    They gazed again and again at the beautiful, beautiful ever new asramas of the gopas and gopis.

    After thus seeing all of Goloka, the demigods returned to the beautiful circle of Vrndavana forest.

    The demigods saw the mountain of a hundred peaks and went past it to the Viraja river. When they went past the Viraja river they saw nothing more.

    Thus the demigods gazed at auspicious, wonderful, spiritual Goloka, which had a thousand lakes, which was made of jewels, and which, by the will of Lord Krsna and the wisdom of Sri Radha, was situated in the spiritual sky. The demigods then gazed at the beautiful dancing they saw there.

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