Svaroup of ShriNathji

part 1

The svaroup of ShriNathji is that of a seven year old boy lifting the mount Govardhan to protect his village from the deluge sent by Indra. 
Total Height of the icon is about 1.37meters.
Local stone of redish brown colour is used for this icon.
A number of sacred beings are carvred in the stele surrounding the central icon.
Image of Krushna is carved in high relief on a rectangular stele, carved to represent the mountain itself. 

There are many explanations for the form / svaroup of ShriNathji.
In true Pushti tradition, many different explanations exist to cater for the different bhavas of the devotees.

 

1) Originally, Shri Vallabh worshiped the Lord as Govardhan-Dharan.  Hence the most popular explanation of the form of ShriNathji is that of “the Lord who lifted mount Govardhan by his left hand to protect the residents of Vraj, protecting them from the wrath of Indra.” 

His left hand, raised above his head, upholds the mountain. 
His right hand rests on his hip, signifying
a) rest – whilst upholding the mountain
b) the depth of our troubles is only waist high – ie "Don’t worry, you will easily cross the ocean of samsara and the results of your karmic actions will not worry you, as they are only waist deep !  You will not have to swim or seek the assistance of any other sadhana as your vehicle to cross the ocean of samsara !  Through my grace, the ocean is very shallow, only waist deep !"

In His GovardhanDharan aspect, the Lord promises to protect and save his beloved devotees 24 X 7 – ie at all times, in all conditions and forever.  The Lord will keep the deluge of pain and suffering away from us and shield from the bad results of our own karmas.  He will remain vigilant in this act of protection and will do so throughout the day and night, throughout the week, every week !  The only condition is, you have to be near Him – hence His eyes are downcast, saying, come to my feet, and I will look after you.  "Once you have surrendered yourself to me, I will take care of all your requirement, including protecting you from own self if need be !"

This has Adbhoot (wonder), dainya (utter helplessness) and dasa (absolute surrender) as its chief bhava.

  

2) Nag-daman - The Lord came to save the people and animals of Vraj from various calamities, one of those being the polluted waters of Yamuna. 

Poison spewed out by the Kaliya naga (a serpent with innumerable heads – very much like the various industries that currently pollute the river today !), was harming the lives and livestock of Vrajvasies.  Lord Krishna decided to deal with this problem head on and crushed the serpent by dancing on his innumerable hoods.  The Lord did not kill the serpent, but sent him to live in the middle of the ocean, where his poison would not pollute humans.  I am sure, even today we could learn from this and instead of banishing or destroying industries, make them clean up their mess or relocate them where they do not harm the environment.

The Lord is dancing the dance of joy and victory, and the snake is trailing listlessly from the Lord’s raised left hand, down to his knees, and than up again from there, through the crook of his right hand, resting on His hip.

Adbhoot (wonder), dainya (utter helplessness) and dasa (absolute surrender) are the chief bhava of this aspect of the Lord.

 

3) ShriNathji is also a Gopaa child herding his cattle.  In that aspect, the Lord raises his hand and calls out to his cows, least they should get lost in the woods of Vraj.

This can also be a call to his beloved friends who are wandering in the woods, having lost track of time and need a reminder and guidance on getting back to their beloved homes.

“Come !” He says, “You have wandered far and wide.  You have now had your fill.  Come back to me.  It is time to go home now !!”  The Lord is recalling His beloved souls who have wandered around countless species for countless births.   It is time for us to return to whence we came. 

With his left hand held aloft, the Lord calls the jives / souls to come to Him.  Tired of waiting for the errant souls, the Lord has placed His right hand on His hip to take a rest from calling us back to divinity !!!!

Sakha (friendship) and dasa (absolute surrender) are the chief bhavas of this.

 

4) The svaroup of ShriNathji is also said to be the svaroup of Rasa Lila.  The svaroup is said to represent two aspects to the Lord’s dance during the Maha Rasa.  

a)      His raised left hand holds aloft his scarf, fluttering in the moonlit woods of Vraj.  His right hand is on his hip, kept there while He twirls with speed and gusto during the Maha Rasa. To represent this, Lord's clothes are flared out and his plaited hair is shown swinging in swirls to suggest the circular motion of the dance.

b)      The Lord and the Gopies have linked their hands during the Maha Rasa to create an unbroken chain of joy.  In several pichois of Maha-rasa, we can see the gopies linking their hands with the raised and lowered hands of the Lord.

c)   The Lord’s uplifted arm is linked to a gopi’s uplifted arm – held aloft to suggest an expression of spontaneous joy.  

d)   During the Maha Rasa, sometimes the gopies got exhausted by the sheer pace of the Maha Rasa.  Yet, they do they not want to take a break from it all by stepping away from the circle – least they should loose contact with their beloved Lord.   So, the gopies take a brief rest by holding on to the Lord’s waist or leaning on His shoulder whilst going round and round the Maha Rasa.  The lowered hand of the Lord is linked to a gopi’s hand at the waist level for this reason.

By this, the Lord is saying, I am with you in your moments of joy, and in those moments when you are not 100 % and are taking a rest !  I am with you throughout your "dance of life".  I am with you life after life !!!!

This has madhur (love) bhava as its chief expression.

 

5) The Lord is Nikunj-Nayak, Lord of the various bowers / groves (there are 12 main bowers) in the wonderful woods of Vraj.  In this form, the Lord is standing at the entrance to a bower, inviting souls to join Him in His lila. 

Structure behind the Lord is said to be an entrance to a mythical cave, leading from mount Govardhan directly to the divine abode of the Lord.  It is also said that when a devoted vaishnav dies, they enter the Lord’s abode through this kandara (cave) behind the Lord.

Dasa and Madhur (love) bhava are the chief emotions in this form, as only the beloved of the Lord are admitted into His private bower ! 

 

6) The Lord is also worshipped as Indradaman / Devdaman.  This is related to the Goverdhandharan aspect of the Lord (listed above). 

When the Lord first revealed His current form, it was His raised left hand which was first seen by the villagers near mount Govardhan.  They assumed it to be an icon of a snake and worshiped it as such.  Later, the Lord revealed Himself and took the form of a young boy.   He told the Vrajvasies that He was the one who protected their ancestors from the wrath of Indra and hence was known as Indra-Daman or Dev-Daman by the Vrajvasies.   He used to play with the village children and it was in this form that Shri Vallabhacharyaji found Him when he first visited Jati-Pura.

Adbhoot (wonder), dainya (utter helplessness) and dasa (absolute surrender) are the chief bhava of this aspect of the Lord. 

 

The mukhiyajies (high priests of the inner-most temple who are charged with taking care of the person of the Lord) adorn the Lord with clothes and jewels that are appropriate to the seasons and festivals.  By adorning the Lord with great skill, they help evoke these various bhavas in a visual way for the devotees to appreciate the different bhavas.

 

(Please visit the galleries of the Lord)
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