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Pastimes in the Forest
Purvahna Lila (8:24 a.m. - 10:48 a.m.)
When the moon from the ocean of loveliness, Shri Krishna, collected His cows and went into the forest, the heartache of the Vrajavasis became indescribable. The girls of Vraja were unable to control their senses without Krishna, so they take shelter of their friend, swoon. So, they were in a sleeping condition for a long time. That swoon helped all the fair browed gopis in times of distress as a friend, pervading their homes like a yogini to soothe their heartache of separation from Krishna.
That sakhis repeatedly told Murccha (swoon), "Oh inauspicious one, are you embracing our dear friend? Aren't you afraid of us? Leave our friend Nandini (the daughter of king Vrishabhanu) alone!" Who can describe the ways of love, tell me? Although Murccha pacified Shri Radhika's mind from Her severe affliction, still Her sakhis resented her."
In an unseen way, Lalita sent a few clever sakhis to Govardhana Hill. Coming there, these girls were very happy to catch the fragrance of Krishna's flower garland. Hari made His cows enter a fresh meadow on the very cool bank of a pond and played there with His friends. Then these dutis (girl messengers) came there with food sent by Dhanista and secretly met Him and Madhumangala there. Seeing Hari there, these dutis became very happy. Then Krishna asked Shri Rupa manjari, who is a limitless mine of beautiful attributes, about the condition of Shri Radhika, the jewel of young girls.
Shri Rupa manjari told Him, "O best of lovers, when You embrace the soil of the forest with the soles of Your feet, it becomes very beautiful! Now Shri Radhika challenges that beauty by embracing the soil of the pastures. O Hari, You color the forest sapphire, offering it Your own luster. Even if the Creator could not challenge You by discoloring the forest again, Shri Radhika could, by making it golden with Her own complexion! You make the people of Vraja cry when they see Your face, which is grayed by the dust thrown up by the hooves of the cows. Alas! Now Shri Radhika is also crying and rolling in the dust of the earth, making Her sakhis also cry. Unusual as it seems, water now comes from a lotus, although normally lotuses grow in the water. A similar case was with Kardama Muni (Kardama also means 'mud'), who was the son of Brahma (born from a lotus), although lotuses normally grow from the mud! Shri Radhika's hair, dress and garland have loosened, although they are so beautiful (sadhu). Who will remain controlled in a kingless country? Even the sadhus (holy men) become loose there!
"Shri Radhika becomes very upset when She hears how Your lotus feet are hurt when they tread the forest path. She sighs deeply, no matter in how many ways we try to console Her. When half a sentence like 'pebbles, sprouts or sharp thorns there', from the mouths of Her friends, falls on the edge of Her ear holes, She cries out loud and falls in a swoon. Then, when we try to break that swoon, saying false things like, "Hey Radha, Your Priyatama has come! Get up and look at Him!", keeping Your very fragrant garland of forest flowers beneath Her nose, She wakes up and becomes grave. Then She will ask a friend, 'Sakhi, where is the best of dancers, who makes His wagtail bird-like eyes dance?' The sakhi then says, 'He is hidden in Your house.' Radhika then says 'Are you cheating Me?' upon which the sakhi says, 'Why should I cheat you? You can smell the fragrance of His body. Isn't that proof that I speak the truth?' Hearing this, Radhika becomes slightly happy, but Cupid cannot tolerate that and forcibly aims his five arrows at Her and wounds Her. Then She falls down, shivers, perspires and sprinkles Her own body with Her tears, but alas! She cannot soothe Her cakora bird-like eyes with the nectar from Your moonlike face when She enters Her home! Coming home, She tells Her mind, 'O mind, why are you vainly taking the sakhis false (anrita) words to be just like nectar (amrita)? Because of that, your affliction has doubled!', and then She falls to the ground, again. Radhika then gets up again, and says, 'O afflicted life of mine, you are cursed, being without My friend!' Although She thus curses Her own life, its burdens did not become lighter, but rather heavier. O Krishna, out of separation from You, fair browed Radhika becomes so thin and fragile that She cannot even tolerate the blowing of Her life airs, what to speak of the breeze from fanning Her.
Hearing this news about His beloved, Madhusudana became afflicted at heart. His eyes were filled with tears of love as He told Madhumangala with a faltering voice, "You speak on My behalf."
Madhumangala told Rupa manjari, "Bring that golden lotus Radhika to the forest, otherwise, out of the forest, what will be Her fate? And what will become of Madhusudana, the honeybee, if He cannot drink Her honey?"
Madhava took the garland of campaka flowers from His neck and handed it to Rupa manjari, saying, "O Rupa, let this campaka garland adorn Priyaji's chest" (or 'let Priyaji adorn My chest like a golden campaka garland.') Rupa manjari then swiftly ran back to Shri Radhika with the campaka garland and hung it around Her neck. Thus, Shri Radhika was revived by the embrace of Her lover's fragrance.
Then She was again bitten by the horrible scorpion of separation from Her Priyatama and She became very afflicted. The poison of this bite made the nectarean fragrance of Krishna's campaka garland fade. Shri Radhika planned to deceive Her superiors and to meet Krishna, going out of the house on the pretext of worshipping the sun god, Surya, with Her friends. By some stroke of good luck, Jatila then came in and, following the words of Gargi, said, "O girls, go into the forest to worship the sun, who has a thousand rays (or 'Krishna, who has a thousand cows')., so that we'll get billions of cows (or 'so that You'll get great bliss'). Let the splendid Mitra ('the sun' or 'Your friend, Krishna'), who is the god presiding over the eyes, make You happy!"
Shri Radhika and Her friends, who were thus favored in their purpose by fate, the destroyer of misery, collected nice eatables for Krishna's pleasure, pretending they were meant for worshipping the sun. They took sweetmeats with them that defeated the pride of nectar, that were prepared by Shri Radhika Herself, and that were unobtainable even by Lord Siva, the master of Kuvera, the treasurer of heaven. Shri Radhika was a little late due to collecting incense, lamps, nice clothes, ornaments and garments for the puja, but Kesava could not tolerate the slightest delay because of His intense eagerness to meet Her. The matchless ocean of His patience and tranquility were diminished to a spoonful.
Acyuta then engaged His duti (girl messenger) Muralika (His flute) in getting the golden garland, Radhika, around His neck. The sakhis wore her song's on the ears as ornaments. Muralika threw Shri Radhika into a river of eagerness. It seemed as if she had entered into Her ears like some goddess, casting Her fear and shame far away. Shri Radhika did not know anymore where Her lotus feet were stepping or what Her sprout-like hands were catching. She was just shivering and showering Herself with Her tears.
Seeing how slow Her friends were in dressing Her in garments suitablefor Her abhisara (love journey) into the forest, Shri Radhika admonished them and began to dress Herself. But, out of anxiety, She adorned Her buttocks with Her Gostana necklace, Her neck with Her waist bells, the end of Her braid with Her lalatika (an ornament for the forehead), Her eyes of musk, Her forehead with tilaka made of eyeliner and Her body with footlac instead of kunkuma. Then She set out, like sweetness personified, with Her charming blus sari on, which looked like a cloud holding a bright lunar orb within itself, on earth.
Hari's flute sang as pleasantly as someone who knows all the scriptures, and silenced even the pika birds, who are very sociable. When Hari called His cows with His flute it was as if the earth showed goosebumps of ecstasy on her skin in the form of erect blades of grass. The trees showered honey as drops of perspiration. The parrots, pikas and peacocks became stunned. The clouds, considering themselves very fortunate, shed tears of ecstasy and the directions fanned Hari with their soft, cool breezes. Without Krishna's wish, all these creatures felt themselves being addressed by the word 'cow' as Krishna's flute sang, "Come, My cows!" The cows heard Krishna's flute song, that was actually meant for them, and replied with their mooing. All the melodies and musical scales, as well as the goddesses in heaven, swooned when they heard Krishna's flute song. Who can censure Krishna? The mountains melted like no other object, although they are the hardest objects in the world, they felt the most love for Krishna. Seeing the melted boulders flowing here and there, the thirsty birds and deer began to drink this fluid with great fun!
Shri Radhika said, "Aho sakhis! These deer are justly called Krishnasara, for they take Krishna to be the essence (sara) of things. Even if their wives are attracted to Giridhari, the ocean of mercy, they do not become envious, rather, they follow them to make them happy. Sakhi, look! These does very eagerly run to Krishna, turning their backs on their bucks, but when they hear the song of Krishna's flute they become stunned, like pictures! Look! These birds were drinking from the waterbasin when Krishna's flute song turned the water into stone! Now their beaks are stuck halfway in the water and they are anxious to pull them out again."
In this way, the gopis were scented by describing the nectarean sound of Krishna's flute, drinking this nectar through the cups of their ears and serving it to each other. Although the inertia, horripilations and shiverings of ectasy caused by Krishna's flute song obstructed the gopis from going near Him, they still swiftly went to the garden named Madana Rana (erotic fight), urged by their passionate attraction to Him.
There they entered the Sun temple where they bowed down to the Sun god and prayed to him, "O Lord! O ocean of mercy! Quickly show us the only Lover of our hearts!"
Shri Radhika entrusted Her puja paraphernalia to the fairies (vanadevis) there and proceeded to the charming forests around Her own pond (Radhakunda). The luster of Vrishabhanuja (Radha, 'the daughter of Vrishabhanu' or 'the sun in the month of Taurus (May)') adorned the surroundings of Govardhana Hill, making Hari's lotus-like heart bloom up of joy at once.
Madhusudana, the rasika honeybee Krishna, then thought to Himself, "My beloved Padmini (lotus-like Radhika) is now beautifying the forest around Her pond with Her dearmost friends! Otherwise, how could My heart suddenly become so happy?"
Then suddenly a soft breeze carried Shri Radhika's bodily fragrance in Krishna's direction. When Krishna sensed it, He became very agitated by desires for erotic happiness. Then Krishna stopped playing His flute, being unable to control His restless mind, just as the young honeybees cannot find peace without the fragrance of the sweet malati flowers.
Madhumangala, knowing Krishna's mind as if he were a demigod said, "O Pinchabushana (He who is adorned by a peacock feather), I've got something to do. I'm going now. Today I went to Bhaguri minu to learn astrology and I had a great doubt that I asked him to dispell, but he couldn't. Fortunately, Garga muni, who is praised by all the munis, has come to take bath at Surya kunda. He alone can clear my doubts."
Krishna, the subduer of Kesi, replied, "O friend, My mind is also very eager to see Garga muni, but it is not polite to go and see him with so many friends.
Madhumangala said, "If You think its not polite to go with so many boys, then let's just go the two of us. See! The swanlike sun has swam to the middle of the lake of the sky. It's close to noon time! The cows are resting in the cool kadamba forest, and our friends also want to take rest. Don't strain them unnecessarily with any more platful games!"
Hearing Madhumangals'a dashing words, the cowherd boys said, "O friends, You just go together." So Krishna and Madhumangala blissfully went to Radhakunda, swiftly passing through Pramoda vana.
Approaching Radhakunda, Krishna said, "Madhumangala, where have We come to? This is not Govardhana, nor Vrajabhumi, because everything here is so golden! Is it Mount Meru or Ilavrita Varsha, that have sent expansions of themselves to Vraja? But why is Cupid then piercing Me with his arrows as soon as I entered that wave of luster?"
While Krishna thus spoke to Madhumangala, being very anxious to see Her, Radhika became dizzy of His great sweetness, just looking at the bluish forest around Her pond, that showered Her with the Nectar of His luster, like a charming cloud quenching Her intense thirst. From a distance, Radha and Krishna took each other to be the lightning and the campaka vine (Radha) or a cloud and a tamala tree (Krishna)? Then, for some time they wondered, "Is this my Lover (Krishna)? Is this My beloved (Radha)?" Aho! Then again They identified each other with the aforementioned objects.
Thus ends chapter eight of Shrila Visvanatha Cakravrti's "Krishna Bhavanamrita Mahakavya," describing Krishna's morning play in the forest.