Higher Teachings of Sri Swamiji

Rasalila – The Cosmic Dance

The cosmic dance of purusha, pure consciousness, and prakriti, manifest energy, is eternal. It is a replica of the dance of Sri Krishna and the gopis. The gopis of Vrindavan were milkmaids and Krishna’s devotees. As a child Krishna used to dance and dance, and the gopi girls used to dance and dance. That dance has become immortal in Indian history and is called maharasa or rasalila. In modern western terminology it is called the cosmic dance, the celestial dance, the divine dance. We call it the dance of purusha and prakriti, the dance between ida and pingala. It has many names. Sri Krishna danced and the rasalila has become immortal.

The eternal bliss that you experience in the Lord’s rasalila is indescribable. The lilas enacted at Rikhia bestow on us the same sort of bliss, ananda. They have a special significance for the rural folk here. Those from the West experience this type of lila in real life as they have an understanding of music and dance, but people living in this backward area may not have these experiences, especially the children who have yet to see the world around them. Krishna’s dance with the gopis on full moon night shows explicitly that through such devotional dance and song, one can experience the presence of the Lord and become completely lost in Him.

The cosmic dance is purusha and all of prakriti dancing. Purusha is in the centre and prakriti is all around him. Prakriti and purusha are the two factors behind the entire cosmos, creation, sustenance and dissolution. Both are eternal. Once prakriti and purusha dance together, life springs into action and there is the spring of life. It is so in physical life, spiritual life, mental life and also in the psychological arena of life. There has to be an association, a coming together of the two diametrically opposed forces. Prakriti is evolving, transforming, subject to change, but purusha is not.

In this cosmic dance the principles of the entire universe come together. At the same time, the maharasa can also be understood in the form of yogic experience. Spirit and matter, purusha and prakriti, are not necessarily physical, physiological or material, they are also in the spiritual field. That is why they talk about the purusha in sahasrara; the kundalini, the shakti, in mooladhara; the five elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth; the twin forces of the sun and moon, ida and pingala; and the 72,000 nadis through which kundalini goes in the process of awakening. That is also maharasa, the cosmic play.

The cosmic dance is not an ordinary event, but in the Srimad Bhagavatam it is depicted very well. The dance of Radha and Krishna with the gopis is eternal, universal and ever present. Even while I am speaking, in every iota of this universe, material, mental and spiritual, and maybe something else too, is dancing. Nuclear scientists say that atoms, molecules and electrons are dancing all the time. This dance is the bedrock of creation. Speech, action, feeling, experience, creation and dissolution of each and every aspect of matter is nothing but a play. We have heard all that, but we are growing beyond the atom. The atom is one stage of matter, not ultimate matter. Although the literal meaning of the word atom is indivisible, the atom is divisible, it can be divided.

Beyond matter there is mind, beyond mind there is self. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says, “They say that the senses are superior to the body; superior to the senses is the mind; superior to the mind is the intellect; superior even to the intellect is the self.” Beyond the senses, or indriyas, is the mind, beyond the mind is intellect, buddhi, beyond buddhi is the self and beyond the self there is the existence of something which has no form.

Sri Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita that earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intellect and ego are his eightfold companions, prakritis of mind. These eight prakritis are the lower forms of the manifest nature. There is one more prakriti, para prakriti, which is Radha. There is an unmanifest nature, param buddhi, beyond intellect. She is Krishna’s transcendental companion and she represents Radha. Radha is para prakriti. The companions are the eight lower prakritis, and Krishna is the purusha who is the root of everything that exists.

In the spiritual realm, maharasa, the cosmic dance, is the process of yoga where everything dissolves into one purusha, into one supreme self, one great spirit. The gopis lost themselves and became one with the form of Krishna. When he played his flute, the gopis thought he was calling them. They went running after him in the middle of the night, on Sharad Poornima. Krishna asked why they had come and tried to discourage them, but they were determined. They said, “No, you are our sole refuge. You are our centre and you are the goal of life.” Krishna had no answer and ultimately the cosmic dance took place.