Sri Krsna's Vrindavan Associates - Subala, Part 2


Playing Blindman's Bluff
Punjab Guler c. 1750

Jan 12, 2011 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of Sri Krsna's transcendental Vrindavan associates.

In the last segment, we described the rasa Subala has with Sri Krsna in his role as a confidential friend in the priya-narma mood. Today we look at some of the ways Subala serves his dearmost friends in Vraj, Srimati Radharani and Krsna. The level of Subala's love for Krsna is described by Srila Visvanath Cakravarti Thakur in his Ujjval Nilamani Kiran:

    "I take shelter of Sri Krsna. Now the shelter and support of these various emotions (bhab) [bhav] is to be ascertained. In Kubja, who possesses sadharani rati, the limit of prem is present. In the queens of Dvaraka, who possess samanjasa rati, the limits of anurag are to be found. Therein Satyabhama and Laksana correspond to Srimati Radharani. Rukmini and the other queens are the corresponding representatives of Candravali. The progression of the love for Krsna of the priya narma sakhas (cowherd boys of Braja) is up to anurag. The gopis of Braja (Brajasundori gon) who possess samartha rati, possess a deeper love of Shyamsundar, which is up to the limit of mahabhab. Amongst Subal and some of the other cowherd boys, the limits of their love can be found to also extend up to mahabhab. However, adhirurha mahabhavb is only found to be present in Sri Radha's camp, not within any other party group. Then mohan is only to be found in Sri Radha, Lalita, Visakha and their followers. And finally, madan is existent only in Sri Radha."
    (Ujjval Nilamani Kiran - Resplendent, Bright Blue Sapphire, Sri Sri Krsna Saranam, Sthayi bhab (Permanent mellow)

Sri Krsna's relationship with His boyhood friend Subala is multi-faceted. The two have many pastimes serving as cowherd boys, and they join the other gopas and gopis in many adventures in the fields and groves of Vraj. Along with Krsna and Balarama, Subala is involved in some of the demon pastimes, like the killing of Dhenakasura. Subala also assisted Krsna in the toll booth pastime, and was a central figures in the business of buying and selling of pearls.

Because of their intimate pastimes together, and the very high level of Subala's ecstatic love for Krsna, there are so many places in sastra where Krsna is described in the context of associates like Subala:

    "Glory, glory to the Lord whose form is dark like a new raincloud and who is the ecstatic friend of Sridama, Sudama, Subala, and Arjuna! Glory to the Lord who was the dear and glorious companion of Balarama and a host of gopa boys! Glory, glory to the Lord who now manifests a fair form charming and peerless!"
    (Padavali, Song 3 (Gauri-raga) by Srila Govinda dasa Thakur

In Vaisnava literature, Krsna is constantly glorified through songs of praise addressed to Radharani, and here again we see Krsna's glories mentioned in relationship to his friend Subala:

    Sri Sri Grantha-kartuh Prarthana:

    kancana citram pikim vande

    subala-of Subala; sakha-of the friend; adhara-the lips; pallava-the sprout; samudita-manifested; madhu-spring; mugdha-charming; madhuri-sweetness; lubdham-greedy; ruci-splendor; jita-defeated; kancana-something; citram-wonderful; kancana-a certain; citram-wonderful; pikim-cuckoo; vande-I offer my respectful obeisances.

    "I offer my respectful obeisances to a certain wonderful cuckoo [Radharani], whose splendor defeats the shining of gold, and who is very greedy to taste the charming sweetness of the honey trickling from the budding twigs of the lips of Subala's friend Krishna."
    (Stavavali by Srila Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami)

There are numerous pastimes wherein Krsna is taking his dearmost friend Subala into confidence, talking with him about His attraction for Radharani, and the various problems He faces in meeting with her. Subala, as a trusted friend, is very expert at making arrangements for the Two to meet. In future segments, we will enjoy a number of dramatic renditions from the Vaisnava acaryas, who have written about pastimes such as Subala consulting with Krsna about Radharani's theft of His flute.

Very often Krsna is heard speaking confidentially to Subala, describing the indescribable glories of Radha. Although Radharani is also a childhood friend of Subala's, his primary attention is given to serving these two beloved friends, and listening attentively to both as they relate their intimate feelings about one another to friend Subala.

    Padavali - Gandhara-raga (Song 10):

    1. (Refrain) kaliya-damana dina-naha
    kalindi-kula kadamba chaha
    2. kata kata braja naba bala
    pekhalu janu thira bijarika mala
    3. tohe kaho subala sangati
    tabadhari hama na jani diba rati
    4. tahi dhani mani du-i cari
    tahi mano-mohini eka nari
    5. so rahu majhu mane pathi
    manasija dhume ghuma nahi dithi
    6. anukhana tahita samadhi
    ko jane kaichana biraha-biyadhi
    7. dine dine kshina bhela deha
    gobinda-dasa kaha aiche naba-leha

    1. (Refrain) Krishna, who is the Lord of the poor and meek and the hero that vanquished Kaliya, stays in a kadamba tree's shade on the Yamuna's banks.
    2. (Lord Krishna says:) How many girls of Vraja have I seen? Still, this one girl is splendid like a garland of unmoving lightning flashes,
    3. O friend Subala, I tell you: from that moment I no longer know whether it is day or night.
    4. In that place were two or four beautiful girls splendid like glistening jewels. But only one of those girls cast a spell on My heart.
    5. I keep that girl in my heart. My heart is filled with the smoke of Kamadeva's flames. Lost in the smoke, I cannot see the directions.
    6. Moment after moment I am rapt in thinking of this girl. I know nothing but Her. I am overcome by the fever of separation from Her.
    7. Day after day my body becomes more thin and emaciated. Govinda dasa says: These are the signs of new love.
    (Padavali - Gandhara-raga (Song 10) by Govinda dasa)

In Srimati Radharani's confidential relationship with Subala, he is described variously as her servant, confidential friend, and messenger. As described by Srila Rupa Goswami:

    A Lamp to See the Associates of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna:

    "Also included among Srimati Radharani's servants [along with the gopis] are Gargi-devi and other very respectable brahmana girls, Bhrngarika-devi and other girls from the ceti community, Vijaya-devi, Rasala-devi, Payoda-devi and other girls from the vita community, as well as the boys Subala, Ujjvala, Gandharva, Madhumangala and Raktaka."
    (Sri Sri Radha-Krsna-Ganoddesa-Dipika by Srila Rupa Goswami)

Just as Krsna's transcendental qualities are sometimes described in relationship to His friend Subala, Radharani Herself is described in this way. In the 108 Names of Sri Radhika, we find that two of Radha's Names are associated with Subala:


    subala-Subala; nyasta-placed; sarupya-similarity of form; subala-Subala; priti-affection; toshita-pleased; mukhara-of Mukhara; drik-of the eyes; sudha-nectar; naptri-granddaughter; jatila-of Jatila; drishti-of the glance; bhishita-afraid.

    34. who looks like Subala
    35. who is happy when Subala is happy
    (Sri Sri Radhikashtottara-sata-nama-stotra, Text 12, by Srila Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami)

Likewise, in Srila Rupa Gosvami's Sri Stavamala, Vol. 1, 'Sri Prema-sudha-sattrakhya Sri Vrindavanesvari-namashtottara-sata-nama-stotra', among the 108 Names of the Queen of Vrindavana is found in Verse 9:

patri subala-nandini

    visakha-of Visakha; prana-life; sarvasvam-all-in-all; karunya-of mercy; amrita-nectar; medura-abundance; paurnamasi-of Paurnamasi; prithu-great; prema-love; patri-object; subala-of Subala; nandini-happiness.

    18. Visakha's everything, 19. flooded with the nectar of compassion, 20. the object of Paurnamasi's great love, 21. pleased with Subala, . . .

Raghunatha Dasa Goswami also describes how Radharani's opulences have been bestowed upon the fortunate Subala:

subala nyasta sarupya subala priti-tosita
mukhara-drk sudha-naptri jatila drsti-bhasita

There is a beautiful verse in Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami's Sri Stavavali (Vol. III) (also mentioned in Nectar of Devotion) which describes Radharani and a gopi friend meeting on a moonlit night in Vraj, no doubt making arrangements for a later meeting between Radha and Krsna:

    Sri Sri Prema-purabhidha-stotra
    A Prayer of Names That Are a Flood of Pure Love

    madhu-madhura-nisayam jyotir-udbhasitayam
    sita-kusuma-suvasah klpta-karpura-bhusha
    subala-sakham upeta dutika-nyasta-hasta
    kshanam api mama radhe netram anandaya tvamm

    madhu-of Springtime; madhura-charming; nisayam-in the night; jyotih-by the moon; udbhasitayam-illuminated; sita-white; kusuma-with flowers; suvasah-fragrant; klpta-made; karpura-of camphor; bhusha-ornaments; subala-of Subala; sakham-the friend; upeta-meets; dutika-gopi messenger; nyasta-placed; hasta-hand; kshanam-a moment; api-even; mama-my; radhe-O Radha; netram-eyes; anandaya-please delight; tvam-You.

    "O Radha who, dressed in white flowers, decorated with camphor, and a hand resting on a gopi messenger, meets Subala's friend Krishna on a sweet, moonlit spring night, please, for even a moment, delight my eyes."
    (Sri Sri Prema-purabhidha-stotra by Srila Raghunatha Dasa Goswami)

While Radharani employs Her friend Subala to carry out various tasks, She is sometimes jealous of the close relationship he has with Krsna. Because Subala is a dearmost intimate friend of Krsna's, he has many opportunities to associate with Him, and to be openly physically affection with Him, and this sometimes puts Radharani into an agitated and envious state:

    "When Krsna and Subala were embracing one another, Srimati Radharani became a little envious, and hiding Her hot temperament She said, "My dear Subala, you are very fortunate because even in the presence of superiors you and Krsna have no hesitation in putting your arms on each other's shoulders. I think it must be admitted that in your previous lives you have succeeded in many kinds of austerities." The idea is that although Radharani was accustomed to putting Her arms on Krsna's shoulders, it was not possible for Her to do such a thing in the presence of Her superiors, whereas Subala could do so freely. Radharani therefore praised his good fortune."
    (Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 42)

As we will see the next segment of this series, Subala also agitates gopi Vishaka into a state of jealousy, because she must share Subala's affections with both Radha and Krsna.


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