SARVA SAUNDARYA SANGRAHAM:
Reservoir of All Beauties
by Gauranga Darshan Das
“The enchanting beauty of Krishna’s form and character is the source of relish and refuge for all.”
Eyes Naturally Look For Beauty
The Supreme Lord Krsna is always joyful and so is the living entity, His part and parcel. Every person is naturally characterized by his pleasure seeking propensity, anandamayo ‘bhyasat (Vedanta-sutra 1.1.12). In one’s attempts to peruse pleasure in this world, most people try to bring their senses in contact with enjoyable sense objects. Thus naturally, one’s eyes look for beautiful things and people, nose searches for sweet smell, ears chase for enchanting music, tongue yearns to taste delicious items and skin seeks soft or hard touch. Of these the urge of the eyes to see beauty is special. Many times, even before most other senses come in contact with a certain a sense object, eyes look at it. Impressive looks inspire one to interact with people or things.
Satiable Beauty Vs. Insatiable Beauty
In this world, we certainly see beauty in the nature, objects and people. However, as the seasons change nature loses its beauty, as time progresses things become less attractive and as the age increases people lose their physical charm. Srila Prabhupada writes, “Anything material seen for a number of times ultimately becomes unattractive by the law of satiation (SB 1.11.25 P).” The beauty in this material world is subject to deteriorate with time, because everything here is inherently temporary, although real. Then, is there a permanent beauty by which one never becomes satiated? Yes, the scriptures inform us of an eternal spiritual world where the people and objects are eternally fresh and beautiful. Srila Prabhupada writes, “The law of satiation acts materially, but there is no scope for it in the spiritual realm (SB 1.11.25 P).” Never will that beauty deteriorate by the passage of time, because the influence of time is conspicuous by its absence in the spiritual world presided by the Supreme Lord Krsna. Krsna’s insatiable beauty is described as follows:
nityam niriksamananam yad api dvarakaukasam
na vitrpyanti hi drsah sriyo dhamangam acyutam
The inhabitants of Dvaraka were regularly accustomed to look upon the reservoir of all beauty, the infallible Lord, yet they were never satiated. (SB 1.11.25)
Entangling Beauty Vs. Elevating Beauty
Things that appear beautiful need not be beneficial for us. The material beauty is temporary and spiritual beauty is eternal. To believe that a temporary thing could give us permanent happiness is deceptive. Therefore, the scriptures repeatedly mention that attachment to the temporary beauty in this world is entangling and binds one to the cycle of repeated birth and death. The Supreme Personality of Godhead Krsna is eternally full in six opulences – strength, fame, wealth, knowledge, beauty and renunciation (Visnu Purana 6.5.47). Every living entity, in his pure state is attracted to that eternally beautiful person Krsna. In the conditioned state that attraction is diverted to the material beauty that is in turn a reflection of spiritual beauty. Bhakti yoga consists of worshipping the transcendentally beautiful Krsna and thus elevate oneself from this material realm to the spiritual realm. Thus the temporary material beauty is satiable and entangling while the permanent spiritual beauty is insatiable and elevating.
Krishna, The Embodiment of Beauty
The very word krsna means “the all-attractive one.” Krsna, the Supreme personality of Godhead, is the origin of entire creation and thus is source of all beauties in both the material and the spiritual worlds. Being the ultimate origin of all beauties, Krsna Himself is supremely beautiful. All beauties in the entire cosmic manifestation put together manifests in His personality. Thus Krsna is the collection of all beauties (sarva-saundarya-sangraham, 4.24.45). His unparalleled spiritual beauty is repeatedly and elaborately described in Vaisnava scriptures like Srimad-Bhagavatam. The beauty of Krsna’s form enchants men, women, animals, demigods, His incarnations and everyone including His own self (atma-paryanta-sarva-citta-hara, CC Madhya 8.143). Srila Prabhupada writes, “Those who are artists, overtaken by the beautiful creation, should better see to the beautiful face of the Lord for complete satisfaction. The face of the Lord is the embodiment of beauty. What they call beautiful nature is but His smile, and what they call the sweet songs of the birds are but specimens of the whispering voice of the Lord.” (SB 1.11.26 P)
Lord Siva thus adores the transcendental form of Krsna, whose sight satisfies all the senses.
darsanam no didrksunam dehi bhagavatarcitam
rupam priyatamam svanam sarvendriya-gunanjanam
My dear Lord, I wish to see You exactly in the form that Your very dear devotees worship. You have many other forms, but I wish to see Your form that is especially liked by the devotees. Please be merciful upon me and show me that form, for only that form worshiped by the devotees can perfectly satisfy all the demands of the senses. (SB 4.24.44)
BEAUTY OF KRISHNA’S FORM
Lord Krsna is always youthful and every limb of His body is properly formed, free from defect (tarunam ramaniyangam, SB 4.8.46). Several devotees in the Bhagavatam praise His beauty while offering their prayers. For instance, Srimati Kuntidevi compared Krsna’s various limbs to beautiful lotuses:
namas te pankajanghraye
My respectful obeisances are unto You, O Lord, whose abdomen is marked with a depression like a lotus flower, who are always decorated with garlands of lotus flowers, whose glance is as cool as the lotus and whose feet are engraved with lotuses. (SB 1.8.22)
Different Forms for Different Devotees
Srila Prabhupada writes, “There are millions of forms of the Lord, but they are one Absolute. As stated in the Brahma-samhita, advaitam acyutam anadim ananta-rupam: [Bs. 5.33] all the different forms of the Lord are one, but some devotees want to see Him in the form of Radha and Krsna, others prefer Him as Sita and Ramacandra, others would see Him as Laksmi-Narayana, and others want to see Him as four-handed Narayana, Vasudeva. The Lord has innumerable forms, and He appears in a particular form as preferred by a particular type of devotee.” (SB 3.28.29 P) Srila Prabhupada writes, “When one is attracted by the transcendental beauty of Radha and Krsna, he is no longer attracted by material feminine beauty. That is the special significance of Radha-Krsna worship.” (SB 3.31.38 P)
Krsna’s form in Vrndavana
All the forms of the incarnations of Krsna are beautiful, but Krsna in Vrndavana is most enchanting of all the Visnu-tattva forms. “Wearing a peacock-feather upon His head, blue karnikara flowers on His ears, a yellow garment as brilliant as gold, and the Vaijayanti garland, Lord Krsna exhibits His transcendental form as the greatest of dancers as He enters the forest of Vrndavana, beautifying it with the marks of His footprints. He fills the holes of His flute with the nectar of His lips, and the cowherd boys sang His glories.” (SB 10.21.5)
Krsna is ever youthful. Even when He was on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, when He was more than hundred years old, He looked like young man. The age of a person from his birth up to the fifth year is called kaumara age; from the fifth year to the tenth year, it is called pauganda age; and from the tenth to fifteenth year, it is called . kaisora age. Beyond fifteen years, one comes to yauvana. These calculations are different in the case of Krsna, when He appeared in this world. Krsna completed His kaumara age in three years and four months while staying in Mahavana, and when He was the age of six years and eight months, He completed His pauganda age staying at Vrndavana. Untill his tenth year He experienced kaisora age while living in Nandisara. In the seventh month of the tenth year He went to Mathura. Therefore the tenth year was the end of Krsna’s kaisora age, but thereafter He remained at the same age. (SB 10.45.3 P)
Six aspects of Krsna’s beauty
The ladies of Mathura described Krsna’s beauty in six ways and they praised the fortune of the gopis of Vrndavana who regularly see His beauty (SB 10.44.14):
gopyas tapah kim acaran yad amusya rupam
lavanya-saram asamordhvam ananya-siddham
drgbhih pibanty anusavabhinavam durapam
ekanta-dhama yasasah sriya aisvarasya
1. lavanya-saram – the essence of all loveliness. Krsna’s moonlike face is the drinking vessel for eyes which hanker after all that is beautiful (pana-patram mukham drsam, SB 1.11.26).
2. asamordhvam – unequalled or unsurpassed. Even the Narayana expansions in the Vaikuntha planets or other incarnations of the Lord are not as beautiful as Krsna.
3. ananya-siddham – self-perfect. Krsna doesn’t acquire this beauty from another source, but it is innate eternally in Him. 4. drgbhih pibanty anusavabhinavam – ever-fresh, by drinking His beauty with one’s eyes, it constantly appears new.
5. durapam – difficult to obtain. Krsna’s beauty is not accessible by any substandard religious paths, but He is attained only by pure devotion (bhakti) unto Him.
6. ekanta-dhama yasasah sriya aisvarasya – that loveliness is the only abode of beauty, fame and opulence.
The Deity Form
Such beauty of Krsna described in the sastra is accessible to a practitioner of bhakti-yoga in the form of the holy Deity in the temple installed by the prescribed processes. Srila Prabhupada writes, “The Deity in the temple is the arca incarnation of the Personality of Godhead, and thus the Deity is identical with the Lord in all respects. He responds to the proportion of the devotee’s affection for Him.” (SB Introduction)
BEAUTY OF KRISHNA’S CHARACTER
Beautiful forms inspire attraction, but attachment and affection are developed more because of beautiful characteristics. Although physically attractive, if someone doesn’t have good qualities and attitude, people are not inclined to maintain a relationship with him. But if someone is beautiful both in his form and character, relationship with him is most enlivening. Krsna’s form is exquisitely beautiful, and so is His divine character. Silam sarva-jananuranjanam: Krsna’s character is satisfying to all kinds of living entities (CC Madhya-lila 17.210). Studying Krsna’s physiognomy from the Bhagavatam is most awestriking and hope giving for spiritual seekers. Krsna’s character is filled with divine qualities of compassion, truthfulness, tolerance, gentleness, humility and so on. Narada Muni describes the beauty of Krsna’s form and qualities in the following manner:
The Lord’s form is always youthful. Every limb and every part of His body is properly formed, free from defect. His eyes and lips are pinkish like the rising sun. He is always prepared to give shelter to the surrendered soul, and anyone so fortunate as to look upon Him feels all satisfaction. The Lord is always worthy to be the master of the surrendered soul, for He is the ocean of mercy. (SB 4.8.46)
Krsna’s Compassionate Descents
Although Krsna punishes the miscreants and reestablishes religion, the main purpose of His descent is to reciprocate with His devotees. All the forms that Krsna manifests in this world are filled with compassion for His devotees (SB 3.28.29 bhrtyanukampita-dhiyeha grhita-murteh).
Krsna’s Merciful Glance and Smile
Krsna’s beautiful eyes are always accompanied with His merciful glances and reassuring smiles, enlivening His devotees who seek His shelter.
tasyavalokam adhikam krpayatighora-
tapa-trayopasamanaya nisrstam aksnoh
dhyayec ciram vipula-bhavanaya guhayam
The yogis should contemplate with full devotion the compassionate glances frequently cast by the Lord’s eyes, for they soothe the most fearful threefold agonies of His devotees. His glances, accompanied by loving smiles, are full of abundant grace. (SB 3.28.31)
Srila Prabhupada writes, “As long as one is in conditional life, in the material body, it is natural that he will suffer from anxieties and agonies. Sometimes disturbances come, but the agonies and anxieties of the devotees are at once mitigated when they think of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His beautiful form or the smiling face of the Lord. The Lord bestows innumerable favors upon His devotee, and the greatest manifestation of His grace is His smiling face, which is full of compassion for His pure devotees.” (SB 3.28.31 P)
hasam harer avanatakhila-loka-tivra-
The most benevolent smile of Lord Sri Hari dries away the ocean of tears caused by intense grief for all those who bow to Him. (SB 3.28.32)
Giving Credit to Devotees
Another wonderful aspect of Krsna’s character is that He gives more credit to His devotees than He takes for Himself. Therefore, Krsna is described as bhaktanam mana-vardhanah – “One who increases the fame of His devotees” (SB 3.24.30) and prabhave sarva-satvatam – “One who expands the influence of devotees” (SB 4.30.24).
While elaborating on the phrase “sarva-saundarya-sangraham,” in SB 4.24.45, Srila Prabhupada comments, “Both materialists and spiritualists can enjoy the beauty of the Lord. Because the Supreme Lord attracts everyone, including demons and devotees, materialists and spiritualists, He is called Krsna. Similarly, His devotees also attract everyone. As mentioned in the Sad-gosvamistotra: dhiradhira-jana-priyau—the Gosvamis are equally dear to the dhira (devotees) and adhira (demons). Lord Krsna was not very pleasing to the demons when He was present in Vrndavana, but the Six Gosvamis were pleasing to the demons when they were present in Vrndavana. That is the beauty of the Lord’s dealings with His devotees; sometimes the Lord gives more credit to His devotees than He takes for Himself. For instance, on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, Lord Krsna fought simply by giving directions. Yet it was Arjuna who took the credit for fighting. Nimitta-matram bhava savyasacin: “You, O Savyasaci [Arjuna], can be but an instrument in the fight.” (BG 11.33) Everything was arranged by the Lord, but the credit of victory was given to Arjuna. Similarly, in the Krsna consciousness movement, everything is happening according to the predictions of Lord Caitanya, but the credit goes to Lord Caitanya’s sincere servants. Thus the Lord is described herein as sarva-saundaryasangraham.”
Krsna defeated Jarasandha seventeen times along with thousands of his armies. However, Krsna gave the credit of killing Jarasanda to Bhima, one of His dear devotees. While Lord Rama made a bridge to Lanka, Hanuman just jumped across the ocean. Although Lord Rama, being the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very much aware of Sitadevi’s whereabouts, He depended on Hanuman to find Her, in the most beautiful section of Ramayana called the Sundarakanda. Thus Hanuman’s glories are declared to the whole world.
Thus the beauty of Krsna’s transcendental form and character attracts the hearts of everyone. The subject matter of Krnsa’s beauty is very expansive and in this short article only a few glimpses are mentioned. Knowing and meditating on Krsna’s forms and character are pleasing to the mind and senses and so spiritually uplifting and enlivening.
Gauranga Darshan Das, a disciple of His Holiness Radhanath Swami, is dean of the Bhaktivedanta Vidyapitha (www.vidyapitha.in) at ISKCON Govardhan Eco Village (GEV), outside Mumbai. He has written study guides, including Bhagavata Subodhini and Caitanya Subodhini, and teaches Bhagavatam courses at several places in India.