ACT ONE 19-23

ACT TWO 21-28


ACT FOUR 33-35

ACT FIVE 36-51

ACT SIX 52-58



ACT NINE 75-82

ACT TEN 83-87










ACT TWENTY 128-139



VENUGITA: The Song of Krishna’s Flute


Respectful readers, greetings. What you are about to behold is a description of Shri Krishna’s song of the Flute. This blessed account is found in the Shrimad Bhagavat. It is considered the fruit of Vedic literature. I have not only worked with every word of that text but have translated into this presentation Shri Vallabhacharya’s commentary, Shri Subodhini. He holds the key to understanding the text and unlocks the inner meanings of Shri Krishna’s flute playing.

The song of Shri Krishna’s flute deals specifically with the Svamini’s attachment to Shri Krishna. Their profound devotion for Shri Krishna culminates in Vrindavan and arose from previous encounters with Him. Before we begin to explain the Svaminis, those blessed dairy maids of Vrindavan achievements with Shri Krishna, we should review their spiritual attainments from earlier births.


Some of them were previously sages who retired to the forests of India to absorb themselves in contemplation. There, one day they saw Lord Rama and Sita pass through their forest:


A surge of unexplored joy arose
When they beheld Them.
A desire emerged in those sages to love Ram
In the manner of His consort Sita.


Although men, they approached Lord Rama and requested Him to afford them the same joy that He bestows upon Sita. Lord Rama advised:


As Ram my only relationship is with Sita.
When I appear in Vrindavan as grace-filled Krishna
You will become the dairy maids.
And your desires will be fulfilled.


Some of the other Svaminis were the lines and mantras that are found in the Vedic texts of India. In those forms they continually praised Brahman but a desire lingered in them to come face to face with Him. Shri Krishna, knowing of their desires, allowed them the vision of Vrindavan and then blessed them:


When I incarnate as Krishna
Join me in Vrindavan
And become the dairy maids.


Those mantras that praised Brahman directly became the unmarried Svaminis while those who honored Brahman indirectly saying He is the wind or water became married to others.

The Svaminis are all distinctive. In their song of thirteen slokas we find how Shri Krishna engages their minds and hearts into His lila. Their story is an unfoldment that began with:


Their recognition of Sri Krishna as Brahman, worship worthy.
Then arose the desire for relationship,
To make Krishna their husband.
To accomplish this a practice and plan was conceived.
Later Krishna rewarded them with His dance.


Their attachment to Hari was not merely brought about by the sound of the flute. First they had to feel love for Him and this was accomplished in the previous chapters. Now to make them totally attached to Him He enters Vrindavan playing a flute. Hari is accompanied by His Gopas, His cowlads. He arranges everything for the lila to arise.


Only Hari can accomplish this,
He is the practice and the reward.


Their devotion blossomed into deep attachment and was revealed to us in two ways:


Through their rapturous descriptions
Of the birds and other blessed inhabitants of Vrindaban.
As well as through themselves,
Through the quality of their song.


Their insights into the nature of Vrindaban are only revealed to those who have a similar devotional vision. The issues are private and are spoken about with only those who have bhava for Krishna. We will listen to their intimate exchange as they speak amongst themselves about their personal experiences with Sri Hari.

They sang of Krishna’s daytime lila from their homes. The Gopas, Hari’s cowlads, sang of Shri Krishna’s nighttime lila. Because the Svaminis are worthy, the Gopas would sing of that lila before them. The Gopas are witnesses and their song of Shri Krishna’s night-time lila with the Svaminis is not revealed here.

Some of the chosen Svaminis were married to other dairymen. During the day, when their husbands would go to the forest to herd their cows with Sri Krishna, their wives, from the sanctuary of their homes, would witness through the powers of their yogic devotion, the various lilas of Hari.


They sing of the various effects
The call of Krishna’s flute had upon
The land of Vrindaban and its inhabitants.
They praised what was revealed to them.


The Svaminis sing of Krishna’s lila as they viewed it during the day. Their song is filled not only with Hari’s herding His cows and playing His flute, but also addresses the lila of intimate conjugal exchange between the Svaminis and Krishna. Hari’s daytime trysts with other Gopis deep within the secret bowers of Vrindavan are hidden within the lines of the text.


This amorous mood is not always fully revealed,
Yet it commands the stage of Vrindaban.
To understand the nature of this conjugal exchange
Is to understand Hari.


The supreme ras is considered to be amorous, within it all other nectars are contained.


Friendship, parental affection, peace
Passion and other rases embodied within love.


The movement from love to attachment to Shri Krishna was attained when the Svaminis realized that He is Purushottama, the Primal One. This transition occurred through encountering Krishna’s divine qualities.


Their first recognition created respect
That matured into loving affection.


It was through several cleverly crafted lilas that Shri Krishna awakened in them the divinity of His presence. In the song of Shri Krishna’s flute, the Svaminis attachment to Sri Hari becomes fully ripened. Their world is a perfect result of Brahman and their spiritual movement from love, attachment and then on to addiction is free from hierarchy.


In the Blessed Path the process
And the direct experience
Are not separate.


Krishna establishes an overwhelming attachment to Himself within the hearts of the bhaktas of Vrindaban. The Svaminis at times appear to embrace jealousy, lust or anger yet these emotions when they enter upon the stage of Hari’s Vrindaban, remain lila perfect. Their view reveals the innate purity of all arising phenomena. The Svaminis are the most exalted exponents of Vedanta. Their subject begins at the end of knowledge.

Their attachment to Sri Hari’s qualities created a direct contact. From knowing His attributes, His form manifested. The song evoked through Krishna’s flute created divine attachment. Their attraction was not merely to Krishna’s form but to the entire lila. The silence of the Vrindavan’s birds was all-inspiring to them. Hari manifested all elements in Vrindaban for the blissful purpose of lila.


Lila is where joy is ever-increasing
And devoid of any fatigue.


Comprehension of this lila, the Divine Play, is gathered when one enters the state of "nirodha".


Nirodha occurs when the world is forgotten
And the mind-heart becomes centered upon Brahman.
In Vrindavan, Nirodha arises when Shri Krishna Himself
Puts the bhaktas totally under His spell.


He restrains them into His perfect Divinity and then sports with them uninhibitedly, producing rasa after rasa, nectar after elixir. It is all effortless and is the after effect of love. To help awaken this wonderful attachment, Hari enters the Vrindaban forest sounding His flute.

Their song about Shri Krishna has thirteen different acts. The Svamini singers are only separated by the walls of their individual abodes; they share a common devotional foundation. There are differences in their personal constitutions. They all have a different combination of the three attributes of purity, passion, and ignorance. Yet in this lila, purity is no better than passion, even their ignorance is somehow included within the perfection of lila.


Krishna is proficient in appearing
To the bhaktas according to their nature.
It is too difficult to climb out from the world
So Hari descends and makes it divine.


He sports with the individual and makes Himself comprehensible. In this way He accomplishes all forms of upliftment. The movement of this song is produced from the differences of personalities found among the blessed women of Vraja embellished with the distance and proximity they feel from their Beloved. The skillful merging of their personalities and extreme longing allowed them entrance into Shri Hari’s Vrindaban stage.

The call of Krishna’s flute announced to them that the love games were about to begin. At first their passion for Shri Krishna was so overwhelming that they were unable to contain the swell of bliss and many of them fell unconscious to the ground. When Hari sounded His flute a second time, the knowledge He imparted to them through its call made them strong enough to withstand the force of His love, form, and lila. Only then could they transpose that total experience into their samadhi song of total love.


Their song manifested for the express benefit of those who are qualified to relish Hari’s elixirs.


At first the flute’s call created desire within the Svaminis.
Then they started speaking to each other about Hari.
Because they lacked knowledge, their minds
Were overcome with desire and they could not sing.


Because Hari could not bear their separation through Sukadeva He revealed to them His form in the fifth sloka wherein His entrance into Vrindavan is revealed. Then they attained the necessary knowledge and began to sing of the glories of the flute.


At first He gave them understanding of His formless aspect,
Then Hari allowed them knowledge of His form.
Later the reward is fully revealed in the rasa lila
Where Shri Krishna dances with the Svaminis.
Knowledge endows the enjoyment of nectar.
Wisdom is Hari’s power and without it you can not enjoy Him.


The Svaminis were established in the mood of love. True love creates a dislike for the worldly home and an experience of the true one, the secret glades of Vrindaban. That eternal abode occurs not only in the forest that surrounded the Svaminis’ town of Vrindaban, but also within their hearts.


The proximity and distance of these two forests,
The inner and outer is what generates
And maintains their firm mood of love for Shri Krishna.


His entrance into these two forests, the inner and outer havens was never accomplished alone. Hari is always accompanied, this time by His cows and cowlads. They could also experience His lila and helped expose divinity everywhere. The cows and cowlads were Hari’s great devotees. They appeared when Krishna decided to sport upon the stage of the world. He arranged not only for their individual parts in the lila, but for all the necessary paraphernalia that is necessary to create, generate and maintain the consciousness of lila.


In Vrindavan, Hari makes the trees conscious
And the rivers stop flowing.
Without the Svaminis’insight
Into the delicate nature of Krishna’s play,
It would be exceedingly difficult to comprehend
The character of this lila.


This wonderful awakening of the appropriate lila mood of attachment could only be accomplished by Krishna Himself. He is called Purushottama, the Highest One and is beyond the realm of time. The thirteen voices that tell of His amazing tale demonstrate His transcendence to time. Thirteen conveys this transcendental state. The mundane day is split into two twelve hour periods and the number thirteen beyond time but is unlike any other man. This is also demonstrated by the number thirteen for man is considered to be of twelve limbs and Krishna surpasses all limitations of the twelve limbed being by accepting the thirteen types of Svaminis revealed in this song.transcends twelve and shows that His lila is not governed by the laws of time.


He is not only


The attainment and comprehension of a relationship with Hari has little to do with any practice. Entrance into lila is established by Krishna Himself for He is not only the Director, but He also becomes the Means. The Srutis echo this voice when they say,


"He is achieved by those He chooses."


In this lila, any means that is undertaken achieves accomplishment only due to God’s total interference with the practice.


He has become both the practice
As well as the reason why the practice is being done.


The Svaminis have already been chosen. The devotional seed implanted within their hearts has taken root and is well on its way toward the ripened state. They can experience through their bhava, not only the lilas that Sri Krishna played in the forest, but their inner meanings as well.

What is not revealed by even Sukadev, the main narrator of the Srimad Bhagavatam, is revealed by the voices of the Svaminis. Now they appear through the voice of Sri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya’s Subhodini. He leads us through the lila as the Svaminis experience Krishna bhava and provides us glimpses into the Divine Realm through the brilliance of His commentary.


Padmanabha sings:

During Krishna’s avatar
He brought the bhaktas to Him
Through the call of his flute.
Now it is Shri Vallabhacharya words,
His Subodhini that brings to lila
The divine souls.


The cowlads provide a protective presence in Krishna’s lila. They position themselves around Sri Krishna and Balaram and sing their praises. It may appear that they are simply playing and herding cows yet they are the deities that guard the quarters of Vrindaban. They promote a fearless state so necessary for the act of love.

Any obstacles that appear in the process of lila unfoldment are removed through Sri Krishna’s brilliant design. The position of male participation in Sri Hari’s lila is unique. Entrance into Vrindavan is generally reserved for the Svaminis yet the cowlads attain His proximity for they too had great love and sensitivity.


Their devotion is not womanly in the worldly sense
But womanly because of its intense sensitivity
And the devotion it generates towards Sri Krishna.


This sensitivity is well-known in females yet without a balance of male essence, which here means the strength to overcome obstacles, lila cannot fully manifest.

Earlier in the Bhagavata we come across the story of the demoness Putana. She was sent by King Kamsa with the mission to kill all male children that were born around the time of Shri Krishna’s birth. On the sixth day of her mission, she found Shri Krishna. Taking on the form of a beautiful young woman, she entered the house of mother Yashoda and with poison smeared upon her breast she put the divine child to her nipple.


Krishna liberates anyone
Who directs themselves toward Him,
regardless of attitude.


When He sucked the life out of Putana He imbibed all of the male infants that she had devoured. He not only purified them but also awarded Putana a liberation reserved for practicing yogis.

Moving ahead in the Bhagavata to the chapter that follows the Song of Shri Krishna’s flute, Shri Krishna steals the garments of the young Svaminis who had undertaken a vow to bathe in the Yamuna river early every morning in order to secure Shri Krishna as their husband. It is in this lila that the young infant boys that were devoured by Putana and then absorbed into Shri Krishna appeared in the tree with Him as he calls the Svaminis to emerge from the river to receive their garments.


Their missing masculinity was delivered to them
Through the presence of those boys.
When Shri Krishna presented them their clothes,
They attained the perfect balance
Of the male and female spiritual principles.
They obtained strength in devotion unhindered by pride.


The lilas of Shri Krishna and the bhaktas of Braja are unceasingly delightful. Vrindavan affords the opportunity to develop and experience relationship beyond the effects of impermanence. As we move through their world it becomes increasingly clear that their song is not sung by ordinary women. As in Buddhism, Buddha’s enlightenment is to be emulated by his followers, so in the path of blessed devotion, the woman of Braja, the Svaminis are to be emulated. The bhakta poet Paramananda sings:


The Gopis are the banners of loving devotion
They have Krishna under their control.


Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya who provides the source teaching advises:


"The attainment of Shri Krishna can never be dependent upon any practice. Krishna, who is perfect bhava, is attained through the precise emulation of those who have already attained Him."


Precise emulation requires profound insight into the nature of reality. Emulation and the praises that accompany it can be attained and maintained when Shri Krishna establishes understanding within the practitioner.


Krishna’s lilas effortlessly enlighten
Anyone who comes into their true contact.


The Svaminis who are established physically in their homes yet are gazing toward His plays in the forest are undergoing a process of lila absorption. As they remember and behold the Beloved, their experience of divinity rises from the level of emulation to direct experience. This transformation is fueled by their intense desire and affords them the opportunity of hearing Krishna’s flute.

When Shri Krishna played the flute a second time, they not only heard the sound of Brahman, but recognized His form as well. They beheld Krishna entering the forest of Vrindavan accompanied by His friends wearing a peacock crown and golden garments. He was adorned with flowers in His ears and a forest garland around His neck. Filling the holes of His flute with the nectar of His lips, His entrance was not only into the beautiful forest of Vrindavan, but into the Svaminis’ hearts fortifying the necessary insight so important to the understanding of lila.

The enlightenment they received was five fold. First they achieved pure renunciation. Their renunciation did not embrace any negations of the world. It was spontaneous and totally derived from their unflinching love and devotion to Shri Krishna. It was through their all encompassing love that all other attachments were naturally shed without any trace of resentment.

Next came knowledge, which Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya calls "Sankhya." Knowledge for these blessed woman of Braja appeared when they had the intuitive and direct experience of Shri Krishna’s lila form. The next realization was of Yoga. For the Gopis, Yoga was not a meditative exercise but a one pointed yoking of their hearts and minds directly to Shri Krishna. It was not based upon any practice, but upon Krishna.

Their "tapa" or austerities were perfected when they experienced Shri Krishna’s separation. Separation for the blessed residents of Vrindavan is a direct result of their contact with Brahman. Their union and separation was continuous and followed them whether Krishna was granting them union before their eyes or blessing them with separation by not appearing outwardly, but ever present within their hearts.


The word for separation is "viraha"
It implies an intense feeling of isolation
From the world and profound contemplation upon Brahman.


This process that Shri Krishna initiated with the second call of His flute culminated with their entrance into Bhakti. Upon achieving that devotional realization, they naturally renounced all other pursuits including even the desire for liberation and enlightenment.


What was there to be liberated from?
Krishna became everything.
What enlightenment could be chased after
When the Lord of enlightenment was chasing after them!


This five-fold realization was all attained through their careful absorption of the message that was carried through the song of Shri Krishna’s flute. Only after having fully imbibed its essence were they able to sing His praises. Because these five insights were not present when they first heard the call of His flute, they were unable to truly glorify Him.


What is amazing is that Krishna Himself was anxious
To hear their song and unable to bear their separation.


He sought a solution. Through His independent power of grace, which operates from the strength of His bliss form, He manifested divinity to them in a way they could fully fathom. From this point, whatever the Svaminis speak of is a product of their direct realization. It is for this reason that this song of the Svaminis in praise of Shri Krishna’s flute is held in the highest esteem. Their utterances are in samadhi language, perfected speech, they are insightful transmissions.


"Vidya" or knowledge is a power of Shri Krishna.
Without "vidya" there can be no experience of the bliss form.
The Svaminis attained wisdom through Hari’s flute.


It penetrated their minds, intelligence, hearts and inner sense of self. Later, their position matures and they are able to experience the All Blissful One, not only within them selves, but throughout their world. The ultimate reward is when they are able to dance with Shri Krishna in the rasa lila, a congregation of exalted spiritual elixir. For now, the knowledge they receive enhances their devotion and love for Shri Krishna and enables them to sing His praises.

After the celestial singer Narada had the inward experience of Brahman, he was capable of singing of His virtues. The depth of his inward actualization allowed him to relish the joyous form of God. This motivated him to journey to the eternal realm of Vaikuntha where he came face to face with the Primal One.

Similarly, the residents of Braja have experienced Krishna within and now are fully able to imbibe and convert into song what their inner eyes beheld.


They can separate world
From formless reality and that
Allows them to recognize the origins of both,
The lilas of Shri Krishna.


They understand the difference between the material and divine form and when they behold Krishna, they proclaim with full confidence that His vision is the ultimate fruit for those who possess senses. Let us proceed and perhaps we too will gain a glimpse into what they are speaking of, that joyous celebration of Vrindavan.


This wonderful translation is by Shyamdas. He has kindly allowed us to reproduce the book in its entirety for the benefit of all those attracted by the call of the Lord's flute.
His numerous books (in English) on Pushti Marg are well worth reading.

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