The expansion (i.e. projection) and the contraction (i.e. dissolution ) of the universe are called lila (the divine sport) in Hindu scriptures. In this divine play, the One becomes many and the many return into the One in endless rhythmic fashion.
The noun lila means anything from sport, dalliance , play to any languid or amorous gesture in a woman .
This eternal lila is the eternal truth , and, therefore, its this eternal lila - the playful love-making of Radha and Krishna , which the Vaishnava poets desired to enjoy. If we analyse the Gitagovinda of Jayadeva we shall find not even a single statement which shows the poet's desire to have union with Krishna as Radha had,- he only sings praises the lila of Radha and Krishna and hankers after a chance just to have peep into the divine lila, and this peep into the divine lila is the highest spiritual gain which poets could think of.
Popular traditions in Benaras, [however], tend to associate with entire month of Kartik with rasa lila episodes. Participants in Kartik puja, the Hindu woman perform on the banks of the Ganges River throughout the month, consider it to be a version of the rasa lila transfigured into a form appropriate for human woman, and enacted each year in celebration of the earthly rasa lila of ancient times.
Clearly not reserved strictly for the spiritual , lila is nevertheless employed as a justification for the mystery of existence in various Indian religions . Depending on the spiritual system claiming the term, lila denotes a specific Divine Play whose nature corresponds to the fundamental epistemological and spiritual beliefs of the tradition in question. Thus the tenor of the definition of lila provides a unique vantage point for any spiritual tradition that utilizes the term.
This creative activity of the Divine is called lila, the play of God , and the world is seen as the stage of the divine play.
For all this diversity , the core of East Indian spirituality is Hinduism , especially as disclosed in the notion of leela (also spelled lila), or play. The entire cosmos is a leela, a dance of energy , a drama staged by Brahman , the Absolute . Leelas are also specific celebrations.
Maya has another face in the Bhagavata, however. This role of maya is especially discernible under the name Yogmaya, which occurs in the context of Krishna ’s lila . Yogmaya covers the pure liberated souls in the lila and her power of illusion, such that they are unaware of Krishna’s real nature and thus relate to him not as God but rather as their friend, lover or child, and so on.
lila, did you see that lila? [a young girl runs out of the landing strip waving her arms excitedly.] He surprised us, he played with us by coming down on the wrong landing strip!
The slow self-manifesting birth of God in Matter is the purpose of the terrestrial lila
All exists here, no doubt, for the delight of existence , all is a game or lila; but a game too carries within itself an object to be accomplished and without the fulfillment of that object would have no completeness of significance .
What but an unclean mind can see aught that is impure in the child [Krishna] dancing there as lover and beloved? It is as though He looked forward down the ages and saw what later would be said, and it is as though He kept the child form in the lila, in order that He might breathe harmlessly into men’s blind unclean hearts the lesson that He would fain give.
Therefore, it is that Hinduism calls it all His sport lila, or calls it an illusion Maya .
The Ram lila at Ramnagar, the fort that is home to the kings of Benares , is the most famous and traditional of all these Ram Lilas. The Ramnagar Ram lila began because of the royal family's patronage , and the annual performance is still the oldest, most traditional and most important Ram lila in Benares.
lila, as a concept denoting play, is applied to much of Indian thought , both spiritual and secular .
...to be vigorously and devotedly involved in the Ramlila for one month is to take an excursion out of ordinary space and time. The Ramcharitmanas, along with mainstream devotional Hinduism , teaches that the universe is lila, or play, which in Sanskrit as in English means both “drama” and “game.” The idea of lila is closely akin to that of maya, which we may say here refers to the transient and illusory world of forms. I believe that the Ramlila is constructed in such a way as to produce an actual experience of the world as lila or maya.