Sri Krsna's Vrindavan Associates – Subala, Part 3


Lord Brahma spies Krsna and Cowherds
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust

Jan 19, 2011 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of Sri Krsna's transcendental Vrindavan associates.

Over the last few segments of this series we have been focusing on one of Sri Krsna's dearmost Vrindavan friends – Subala. One of the gopas, Subala is often mentioned as a personification of the highest rasa of confidential friendship. He is the intimate associate of both Krsna and Radharani. In fact, Radha sometimes becomes jealous because Subala has such a close relationship with Krsna that he can freely embrace Him, even in public places.

    "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."

    (Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 42)

Likewise, Subala agitates the emotions of Vishaka. She has great affection for him, but has to share his attention with both Radha and Krsna, as described in the Sri Visakhanandabhidha-stotra:

    Prayers With Names That Are the Bliss of Visakha

    Text 37

    bahau pasyati madhave
    smera smeraravindena
    tamalam tadayanty atha

    subala-of Subala; skandha-on the shoulder; vinyasta-placed; bahau-arms; pasyati-sees; madhave-Lord Krishna; smera-smiling; smeraravindena-smiling lotus flower; tamalam-a tamala tree; tadayanti-strikes; atha-then.

    "When She saw Lord Madhava with His arm around Subala's shoulder, She became envious, outwardly smiled approvingly, and later tried to punish Krishna by striking His effigy tamala tree with a blossoming lotus flower."

    (Sri Stavavali, Volume 4, Sri Visakhanandabhidha-stotra by Srila Raghunatha Das Goswami)

As described in Text 11 of that same glorification of Visakha, "Her life is a caged parrot set free by Paurnamasi. She is splendid with love for Subala…"

Like Radharani and Visakha, the cowherd boys also have the greatest affection for their friend Subala. There are many wonderful pastimes described in sastra where Subala enjoyed adventures with Krsna and the gopas. In future segments we'll present 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.

In Garga Samhita, Dadhi-steya-varnana, we find a description of the gopa's pastimes:

    "With the boys of Vraja, Their friends headed by Sridama and Subala, They played on the Yamuna's sandy shore…"

and the yogurt theft pastime which is reenacted during dahi-handi festivals:

    "When even from that height the yogurt-jar hanging from ropes could not be reached, Sridama and Subala hit the jar with sticks.

    As all the beautiful yogurt flowed from the broken jug to the ground, Krishna, Subala, the boys, and some monkeys, all ate it."

    (Sri Garga Samhita, Canto One, Volume Three, Chapter Seventeen, Text 15, 30-31)

Also in Garga Samhita is the Vatsa-vatsapala-harana pastime – kidnapping of the calves and cowherd boys, in the narration of which Subala and the gopas are described at play, sharing their foodstuffs with one another:

    "Then one boy suddenly gave a morsel to Krishna. Krishna ate it, glanced at everyone…

    Showing the others, Krishna said: Friend, I do not know of anything more delicious than this. The boy said: It is so. Then the boy gave morsels of that food to the others.

    Joking and laughing, the boys ate. Then Subala gave a morsel of food to Krishna.

    Krishna tasted the morsel and laughed. All the boys that tasted that food laughed aloud.

    The boys said: O son of Nanda, his bewildered grandmother does not know how to cook. That was not delicious.

    Then Sridama gave a morsel to Krishna and the other boys. All the boys of Vraja declared, "This is the best."

    Then Varuthapa earnestly gave a morsel to Krishna and all the other boys.

    When they ate it, Krishna and all the boys of Vraja laughed. The boys said, "This is like Subala's food.

    By eating this we have all become very unhappy at heart." In this way each boy showed his lunch to the others.

    Laughing and making each other laugh, the boys enjoyed pastimes…"

    (Sri Garga Samhita, Canto One, Volume Four, Chapter Seven, Text 15-24)

Subala's confidential friendship with Srimati Radharani and Krsna is the perfect object of envy. As Srila Rupa Goswami prays in his 'Vine of Longings':

    "O Subala, you are the intimate friend of the son and daughter of the best of the gopas in Vraja. Please be merciful and introduce this unhappy person to your two friends."

    (Stavamala, Utkalika-vallari text 24 by Srila Rupa Goswami)

Tomorrow we will introduce the transcendental personality of Subala in his glorious manifestation during Lord Caitanya's Lila.


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