The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Yamuna

BY: SUN STAFF - 25.5 2020

Yamuna Devi

A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 180.

Today we begin the final segment of this series, with the very last holy place listed in Jaiva Dharma's 'Glossary of Places' -- the Yamuna River. Srila Bhaktivinoda describes the Yamuna as follows:

"Yamuna - a sacred river flowing through Vraja-mandala. She is considered the holiest of rivers because Krsna performed many sublime lilas in her waters with the gopis and gopas. In this world she appears at Yamunottari in the Himalayas.

Yamuna is described as an expansion of Visakha Devi: visakhorasi ya visnor yasyam visnur jalatmani nityam nimajjati pritya tam saurim yamunam stumah – "Lord Visnu daily immerses Himself and plays with great pleasure and affection in the water of Yamuna, the liquid form of Visakha Devi. Thus I offer prayers to Yamuna Devi, the daughter of Surya."

While we have not discovered the source of the quote Srila Bhaktivinoda includes, there is a similar mention attributed to a commentary by Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana:

vizakha yamuna-vapur iti vicarena
yamuna-stutya tat stutir iti vidyabhusanaa

"Sri Vishakha is considered as the vapu (embodiment) of Yamuna. Therefore, by offering prayers to Yamuna one is thus offering prayers to vishakha."

The Yamuna is referred to four times in Jaiva Dharma, in the later chapters. Three of these mentions were included in previous segments on Vrndavana and its twelve resident Forests. The first is found in chapter thirty-two:

"Desiring to enjoy the parakiya-rasa, Krsna rejects His own natural self-sufficiency (atmarama-dharma), and enjoys the rasa dance and other wonderful pastimes with His potencies, who are all convinced that they are the wives of others. In all these activities, His flute becomes a dear friend. In this way the parakiya-rasa is eternally perfect in the realm of Goloka. It is for this purpose that the pastime forests of Goloka and Vrndavana exist. Vraja's rasa-mandala, Yamuna shore, Govardhana Hill, and other pastimes places all exist in Goloka also. In this way svakiya rasa and parakiya rasa both exist in Goloka. Pure svakiya rasa is splendidly manifested in Vaikuntha. Svakiya rasa and parakiya rasa, which are simultaneously one and different from each other, are both seen in Goloka. Look. This is very wonderful. Although the parakiya-rasa in Vraja seems to be material and Krsna seems to be an ordinary paramour, the truth is that it is not material and Krsna is not a paramour at all. And why not? Krsna has been enjoying the company of His potencies from a time without beginning. Their relationship is actually the perfection of svakiya-rasa, of the love of a husband and wife. That His potencies are married to others and Krsna is their paramour is only an idea created to nourish the bliss of Their pastimes in Vraja. This same idea also nourishes the Lord's pastimes in Goloka, which is far from the world of matter. In Gokula, which is manifested within the material world, Yogamaya creates the idea that Krsna's potencies are married to others and Krsna is their paramour."

In chapter thirty-five, the Gosvami is describing various things that are found nearby Sri Krsna in the environs of Vndavana-dhama, including:

"Flower remnants, peacock feathers, mineral dyes from the hills, the cows, the stick, the flute, the buffalo-horn bugle, the sight of Krsna's dear associates, the dust raised by the cows, Vrndavana. The living entities and things that have their shelter in Vrndavana, Govardhana Hill, the Yamuna, and the rasa-dance arena are included among the things nearby."

And in chapter thirty-eight, the Yamuna is again mentioned along with the Vrndavana forests:

"The following are all the visesa gauna sambhoga (special situations of meeting): seeing, talking, touching, blocking the path, putting an obstacle on the path, pastimes in a house, pastimes in Vrndavana forest, pastimes in the Yamuna's waters, pastimes in a boat, pastimes of stealing flowers, pastimes at a ghata (the dana-keli pastime), playing hide-and-seek in the forest, drinking madhu nectar, Krsna disguising Himself as a woman, pretending to be asleep, gambling with dice, tugging at garments, kissing, embracing, scratching with fingernails, drinking the nectar of each other's bimba fruit lips, and enjoying amorous pastimes."

Finally, a little later in chapter thirty-eight, the Yamuna is mentioned as the site of Krsna's confidential nighttime pastimes with Radharani, from Sri Sanat-kumara-samhita 278-285):

"One of the gopis has already made arrangements for Sri Radha's secret meeting with Lord Krsna by the Yamuna's shore.

Accompanied by Her friends and dressed in garments suitable for a bright or dark night, Sri Radha goes to a jewel palace in a kalpa-vrksa grove.

Meanwhile Lord Krsna saw many festive ceremonies and heard many beautiful poems and songs.

Then Lord Krsna pleases the artists and performers with many valuable gifts and then, called by His mother, He goes to bed.

When, after giving Him a nighttime snack, mother Yasoda left the bedroom, unseen by anyone, Lord Krsna left His home and went to meet His beloved.

Meeting in the forest groves, Sri Sri Radha and Krsna enjoy singing, dancing and many other pastimes."


(Yamuna, to be continued…)