ātmārāmo ’py akhaṇḍitaḥ
kāmināṁ darśayan dainyaṁ
strīṇāṁ caiva durātmatām
This verse directly refutes the superficial criticism materialistic people sometimes direct against Lord Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes. The philosopher Aristotle claimed that ordinary activities are unworthy of God, and with this idea in mind some people declare that since the activities of Lord Kṛṣṇa resemble those of ordinary human beings, He cannot be the Absolute Truth.
But in this verse Śukadeva Gosvāmī emphatically points out that Lord Kṛṣṇa acts on the liberated platform of spiritual self-satisfaction. This fact is indicated here by the terms ātma-rata, ātmārāma and akhaṇḍita. It is inconceivable to ordinary people that a handsome young boy and a beautiful young girl enjoying romantic conjugal affairs in the forest moonlight can be engaging in pure activity, free from egoistic desire and lust. Yet while Lord Kṛṣṇa is inconceivable to ordinary persons, those who love Him can easily realize the absolute, pure nature of His activities.
One may argue that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and that therefore the devotees of Kṛṣṇa are only imagining the Lord’s activities to be pure. This argument ignores many significant facts. For one, the path of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, of developing love for Kṛṣṇa, demands that a devotee strictly follow four regulative principles: no illicit sex, no gambling, no intoxication and no eating of meat, fish or eggs. When one is freed from material lust and rises to the liberated platform, beyond material desire, one realizes the absolute beauty of Lord Kṛṣṇa. This process is not theoretical: it has been practiced and completed by many thousands of great sages, who have left us their shining example and their brilliant teachings concerning the path of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Certainly beauty is in the eye of the beholder. However, real beauty is perceived by the soul’s eye and not by the lusty eye of the material body. Therefore the Vedic literature repeatedly stresses that only those freed from material desire can see the beauty of Lord Kṛṣṇa with the eye of the pure soul, anointed with love of Godhead. It may finally be noted that upon realizing the pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa one becomes free of all tinges of sex desire, a state of mind that can hardly result from meditating upon material sexual affairs.
One final note: The conjugal pastimes of Kṛṣṇa perfectly round out His qualification as the Supreme Absolute Truth. The Vedānta states that the Absolute Truth is the source of everything, so certainly the Absolute cannot lack any of the beautiful things of this world. It is only because romantic affairs exist in a pure, spiritual form in the Absolute that they can manifest in a perverted, material form in this world. Thus the apparent beauty of this world is not to be absolutely rejected; rather, beauty should be accepted in its pure, spiritual form.
Since the beginning of time men and women have been inspired to poetic rapture by the art of romance. Unfortunately, romance in this world usually leads to crushing disappointment, brought about by a change of heart or by death. Thus although we may at first find romantic affairs beautiful and enjoyable, they are eventually spoiled by the onslaught of material nature. Still, it is unreasonable to totally reject the concept of romance. Rather, we should accept conjugal attraction in its absolute, perfect, pure form, as it exists within God, without a tinge of material lust or selfishness. That pure conjugal attraction — the supreme beauty and pleasure of the Supreme Truth — is what we are reading about here in the pages of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.