bhaktyā tv ananyayā śakya aham evamvidho arjuna jñātum drashtum ca tattvena praveshtum ca paramtapa. Only by unalloyed devotion can one actually see and understand the form and reality of Krishna.
Bhagavad Gita XI.54
The primordial nature is Shri Krishna. He is the supreme Being. Etymologically, krish means “being,” and na means “bliss.” Shri Krishna is the “all-attractive One,” and He tells Arjuna in the Gita, “O Arjuna, nothing is superior to Me …I am even greater than that impersonal form of Brahman.”
Shri Vallabhacharya says, “The Supreme Brahman is Shri Krishna alone.” Shri Krishna is the Supreme Person and eternally manifests all divine qualities. Shri Krishna is also ras (pure nectar), and can respond to the loving devotion of His bhaktas (devotees).
Shri Krishna is a dancer, a player, an actor, a husband, a cow herder, a friend, and a lover, as well as a flute player. He is an expert in abhinaya, that is, in exhibiting the meaning of what He depicts. He is so good that anyone who has contact with Him or His lila (divine drama) has an unforgettable experience. Love, attachment and obsession are the results.
Shri Krishna and his worship is pure divine drama (lila). He plays and directs at the same time, all for an awakening in those whose time has come. His bhaktas have various constitutions, yet share the common virtue of attachment. Their hearts are fired by His melody and contain the rush of His ras. It is all consummated in Vrindavan, where Shri Krishna plays his flute.
It is Shri Krishna’s sheer confidence that allows Him to establish overwhelming attachment to Himself in whoever He chooses. In Vrindavan everything is a combination of Him. Trees and animals fall under His spell and become enlightened. In Vrindavan everything manifests for the blissful purpose of lila. Shri Krishna sounds His flute to awaken the woods.
Shri Krishna is proficient in appearing and appealing to the bhaktas, all according to their individual temperaments. Shri Krishna comes here and manifests sacred creation. Lila makes Shri Krishna comprehensible. Some bhaktas are sattvic (pure in nature), some are rajasic (passionate) while others are tamasic (obstinate.) Bhaktas of every disposition are accepted by Shri Krishna. Once every virtue is directed towards Him, then every emotion can be useful in His worship. The bhakta’s dispositions are but various devotional fuels that propel him or her to God. Since it is too difficult of a journey, Hari descends into the world of matter and plays with the soul according to it’s nature.
Concerning practice, Shri Vallabhacharya is concise: “The attainment of Shri Krishna can never be dependent upon any formula. If God could be captured by a particular formula, that prisoner could not be God. Shri Krishna, whose mood is always perfect, is attained through the precise emulation of those who have already attained Him.” And so, as the gopis of Vrindavan are the ones who attained Shri Krishna, they are the grace-filled gurus of the path of grace.
The practice of devotion to Shri Krishna is transforming. Like gutter water that spills into the Ganga becomes Ganga, similarly in the path of grace, once all things are offered, they become like Shri Krishna: free of bondage. In the devotional process, everything leads to the Blessed Lord. First, there arises the subtle and blessed understanding that Shri Krishna is Brahman, and therefore, he deserves ultimate adoration. Then, a desire for a specific relationship with Him arises, followed by practice. When Shri Krishna responds, the fruit is attained.
– Shyam Das (excerpted from The Path of Grace pages 51-54)