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One should hear the message of the scriptures with great transcendental faith if one desires to advance in spiritual faith. At the present moment, we are lusty and exploitative and due to that we think Krishna also must have been lusty and exploitative. We are unable to appreciate the beauty of the pastime due to the cataract of lust. By hearing from authorized sources, this cataract can be cured and we can get the right vision to understand and appreciate this glorious pastime.Although it may be difficult for us to fathom this great pastime of rasa lila, we can at least appreciate the standard of the great souls who glorified it. By knowing their greatness, we will not underestimate this pastime to be a mundane dance.Shukadeva Gosvami was a renunciate of the highest order. All his senses were completely controlled to such an extent that he was not in the least agitated even in the midst of the most tempting sense objects. An amazing incident from his life reveals his detachment from material enjoyment.
Once the father of Shukadeva Gosvami, Vyasadeva, told him to go to Maharaj Janaka to learn sense control from him. In accordance with his father's instruction, Shukadeva Gosvami went to Mithila and, on reaching the palace of Maharaj Janaka, he send a message inside. For three whole days, there was no response whatsoever. But Shukadeva Gosvami was not at all angered and quietly sat outside the palace absorbed in Krishna consciousness. Finally after three days. Maharaj Janaka came out and accorded him a royal welcome. But it made not the least difference to Shukadeva Gosvami.
Then Maharaj Janaka placed a lump of sugar on the tongue of Shukadeva Gosvami and told him to keep it on his tongue. Maharaj Janaka was amazed to see that even after quite some time, Shukadeva Gosvami's tongue had secreted not a single drop of saliva. He then gave him a glass filled to the brim with milk and told him to circumambulate the palace. Throughout the palace, exquisitely beautiful damsels were dancing and singing and Shukadeva Gosvami passed among them while circumambulating the palace. When he returned. Maharaj Janaka was stunned to see that not a drop of milk had been spilled. Not only had Shukadeva Gosvami not been tempted by the damsels dancing all around him, but he had been so fixed in concentration that the glass of milk had not jerked even a bit. On seeing this incredible sense control of Shukadeva Gosvami, Maharaj Janaka congratulated him and sent his back to Vyasadeva with the message that his son had already conquered his senses.
Such is the caliber of the person narrating the rasa-lila! Another pastime illustrates the liberated position of Shukadeva Gosvami. When he saw a person, he did not see the external covering - whether the person was a man or a woman; he just saw the atma-tattva, he saw the person as a spirit soul.
Once while Sri Vyasadeva was following his son, Shukadeva Gosvami, some beautiful young damsels who were bathing naked covered their bodies with cloth, although Sri Vyasadeva himself was not naked. But they had not done so when his son had passed. The sage inquired about this, and the young ladies replied that his son was purified and when looking at them made no distinction between male and female. But the sage made such distinctions.In the Bhagavad-gita (5.1 8) it is said that a learned sage looks equally on a learned and gentle brahmana, acandala (dog-eater),a dog or a cow due to his spiritual vision. Srila Shukadeva Gosvami attained that stage. Thus he did not see a male or female; he saw all living entities in different dress. The ladies who were bathing could understand the mind of a man simply by studying his demeanor, just as by looking at a child one can understand how innocent he is. Sukadeva Gosvami was a young boy sixteen years old, and therefore all the parts of his body were developed. He was naked also, and so were the ladies. But because Shukadeva Gosvami was transcendental to sex relations, he appeared very innocent. The ladies, by their special qualifications, could sense this at once, and therefore they were not very concerned about him. But when his father passed, the ladies quickly dressed. The ladies were exactly like his children or grandchildren, yet they reacted to the presence of Vyasadeva according to the social custom because Srila Vyasadeva played the part of a householder.
If a person as renounced as Shukadeva Gosvami is reciting and glorifying the rasa-lila, how can it be an ordinary lust affair? It must certainly be a pastime enacted on the spiritual platform. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was universally acclaimed as the crest jewel of all sannyasis. He was so strict in His dealings that His woman disciples would offer Him obeisances from a distance; they would not be allowed to come near Him. Yet the very same Chaitanya Mahaprabhu declares: ramya kacid upasana vrajavadhu vargena va kalpita. The most pleasing form of worship for the Lord is that which was performed by the gopis of Vrindavana.Similarly many other highly renounced sages such as the four Kumaras and the six Gosvamis glorify and worship the rasa-lila as the topmost manifestation of love between the Lord and His devotees. How then can it be equated with the abominable lusty dealings between ordinary men and women?