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Pastimes at Nightfall
(8:24 p.m. - 10:48 p.m.)
Seeing the drops of Krishna's luster reflected in the mirror of the sky, some foolish people, who did not investigate any further, may say, "The moon has risen." But, this Krishna, who stands before the town gate is actually an ocean of bliss! The lotus-like gopis on the watch tower shyly covered their faces when Krishna looked up to them, while the moon was rising. Seeing this, the lotus flowers in the water closed their leaves out of embarrassment, their pride having been diminished. How foolish they were to compete with these lotus-like gopis. At twilight, when neither the king of the day, nor the king of the night reign, some citizens are happy and some are sad. Somewhere the chakora birds, seeing the moon rise, became very happy and elsewhere, the chakravaka flamingos began to cry when they saw the sun go down. Some honeybees blissfully buzzed around the blooming lillies while others remained enveloped within the closed lotus leaves.
Seeing a lamp, the darkness in the house fled into the forest, and the fragrance of the forest flowers entered into the house, like householders who flee into the forest, renouncing their fearful household life, and then returning home when their renunciation collapses. Cupid, whose pride increases at night, entered the gopis' hearts like a snake and began to destroy their patience and shame there. When the king of both day and night ruled indecisively, the gopis' awareness of their house and caste duties was lost. Then, the night removed the powerful evening. Does the opulence of darkness ever remain for long?
In Her parental home Radhika had laid Her dearest One down on the bed of Her mind in the golden house of Her body, that She has closed off with the gates of Her eyes. Just then, Her girlfriend, Induprabha, came from Nandishwar and said, "Radha, that moonlike Krishna in whose absence You are so distressed, has no liking for any other girl but You in Your absence, and although He steals the hearts of everyone in the three worlds, His heart was stolen by You and He eagerly longs for You."
Hearing this, Visakha said, "Induprabha, the stories you're telling me about Krishna are like a shower of nectar, thirstily drunken by the chakora bird-like ears of the sakhis."
Induprabha said, "Sakhi, when the king of Vraja sat down in Nandishwar to take his supper, he seated Giridhari on his left and Baladeva on his right, looking just like Kuvera flanked by his gems Padma and Shankha.
"King Nanda invited his brothers and their sons for supper every night, and they sat around him to eat like chakora birds that were thirsty after the nectar of Hari's moon-like face. Krishna and Balarama looked like the Himalayas of transcendental bliss surrounded by mountains of love. Rohini sometimes served one, sometimes two or three sweet and light dishes. When Krishna and Balarama praised her cooking, she felt indescribably happy.
"Father Nanda and his brothers told Krishna and Balarama, "O boys, if You eat this Your bodies will be nourished, and if You eat that You'll become strong, so eat!" Krishna and Dhenukari (Balarama) ate with gusto whatever the cowherd men served Them with minds melting with affection. Again and again Nanda, Yashoda and the elders urged Krishna to eat with the gestures of their eyes, and only when Krishna ate something were their honebee-like eyes satisfied. This was their only purpose in joining Krishna for supper. The rest was just custom.
"As Hari's friends concluded their supper with Him, their glances brought them the Nectar of His sweet lotus-like face, with which they lovingly washed their mouths. Then they all went to their own abodes, chewing betel leaves given to them by their servants. O Radha, with a smiling face Krishna lay down on a flower bed on the veranda, surrounded by His friends. Listen to what He told them out of separation from You, and how He praised Your great sweetness. He said, 'O Subala, where is that beauty that pervaded the whole meadow, that destroyed my patience and enchanted Me when I came there in the afternoon to tend My cows, followed by My cowherd boyfriends? Ahaha! Is She like nectar churned from the ocean of sweetness, waves of charming lightning strikes wrapped in garments, the personified Raja Laxmi (goddess of regal opulence), or a bunch of Champaka flower stems for Cupid? Is there a blooming lotus flower smeared with kunkum on top of this lustrous aura, or a full moon rising from the ocean of erotic mellows, I'm not sure! The glances of these restlessly dancing jeweled wagtail birds are striking and hurting My eyes. Aho! What is this? I became stunned with curiosity. Just then, this object which was wrapped in dark clouds (a blue sari) disappeared in the vines and I could not lick it. Even the slightet awareness of this object arouses lusty feelings in Me. The peon of My heart went out to search for this object and My eyes went ahead of him to show him the way. Until now, this peon has not come back. Was he maybe caught and bound up by Cupid's dacoits?'
"Subala said, 'Aghahara, as soon as that Radhika, for whom You are searching, and who is praised by all, saw You, She rolled on the ground in ecstasy, bereft of Her patience and feeling great pain in Her heart. Streams of tears flowed from Her eyes over Her body as She cried. Seeing Her distress, the sakhis said, 'Hey Tanvi (slender girl), Mukunda has come to make You happy!'
"Radhika then said, 'Where is that ocean of rasa? Where?' The sakhis showed Her that night was falling, so the pain of separation from You was somewhat relieved, and She shyly covered up Her body."
Induprabha continued, "When He heard this from Subala, Krishna cried big tear drops of love that fell from His lotus-like eyes. His eyes were like two chakora birds that vomitted one pearl after another, that had been mistakenly eaten by them, as they took it to be lunar nectar. I was there with Krishna to serve Him and, anxiously looking at me, He told me, 'Sakhi, quickly go and tell Radhika that She should meet Me at the base of the desire tree on the bank of the Yamuna.'
"Meanwhile, the assembly of cowherds was waiting for Krishna, so He went to the performance hall to hear the sound of the mridangas and other instruments. Then He was called by His mother to take rest on the balcony of His bedroom after having been fondled by her. Then, Your incomparably clever lover managed to come to the meeting place on the bank of the Yamuna without being seen by the people. Now, You eat a little something before You deceive Your superiors and passionately go out to meet Your beloved One." After saying this, Induprabha left.
Jatila called Radhika for supper, and seeing that She was too shy to eat in front of her, she said, "O chaste girl, if You are shy, then take Your favorite dishes and eat them with Your girlfriends (bhaktas)."
Taking the word bakta to mean Krishna, Shri Radhika smiled slightly and hinted to Her girlfriends with Her glances. Gladdening Jatila with Her humility, She said, "Arya, with your permission we will take the dishes to my bedroom." Arriving there, the maid servants mixed that meal with the remnants of Priyatama's meal, so that it became as fragrant and relishable as the honey flowing from His lotus-like mouth, just as all water that is touched by Ganga water can destroy the sins of the world and is praised as such.
While eating, Lalita said, "Sakhi Radha, listen! Your superiors have fallen asleep inside the house and Your husband, Abhimanyu, sleeps far away in the barn tonight. So, let Your memory, intelligence, patience and shame sleep here on the bed, while You most blissfully go out to meet Your lover in the play kunja. Don't be afraid to go out. Your strong love will accompany You at every step to show You the way and Cupid's soldier will follow You to protect You. Embrace Your girlfriend named 'heart's eagerness' and go out right now! You won't feel the slightest fatigue on the way. O smiling faced One, if You fear the bites of the people's eyes, cover Yourself with a white cape, wear a garland of jamine flowers (also white), a pearl necklace and smear Your body with camphor and white sandalwood paste. If You are afraid Your ornaments will betray You, then take off Your anklebells. The slightest rays of Your moon-like nails can adorn the whole world! The Creator, seeing that the cosmic moon is impure compared to them, and simply repeats their luster, cuts it with a line of ink (a half moon)."
Being thus incited by lusty feelings through the words of Her girlfriends, Shri Radhika, who is an ocean of Matchless qualities, went out of Her home, not considering the obstacles caused by Her superiors, entering the forest like the stream of a river of great loving sweetness. Wearing an enchanted dress, She waited for Her expert and clever maidservants, who were checking out Her superiors before running behind Her into the forest. If someone asks what would happen if any of Radhika's superiors were to find out and angrily go out in search of Her, then the answer is that Yogamaya, Krishna's mystic power of illusion, being entrusted with this duty, will arrange for some solution.
As She entered the forest, passionate Radhika thought that every sound She heard was Krishna's flute, every kadamba tree She saw was Krishna, any sweet fragrance She smelled was Krishna's fragrance and whatever She aw was Krishna's form. Feeling Her braid sometimes touching Her shoulders, Radhika shivered, fixed the bow of Her restless eyebrows and asked Lalita, "Lalita, did you see that peculiar thing? Your snake-like lover placed His arm around My shoulder and forcibly embraced Me around the neck."
Lalita replied, "My dear friend, Madhava is in great need and You have become most magnanimous by giving Your heart to Him. How can I stop You, despite being a knower of right and wrong in smritibhava ('moral Vedic principles' or 'eros')? O spotless faced One, You became the greatest donor! There is one great donor on earth named Karna (indebted his life to Duryodhana in Mahabarata; also, literally 'ear'), but You lend two ears to Krishna, and although one generally donates onebali (sacrificial offering) You give Krishna three balis (the three lines on Radha's belly) during a festival of one hundred Cupids. Radha, You gave Your eyes in charity to Krishna and You thrust Your nose into the ocean of His fragrance. Now, Hari has bound Your braided hair around His neck as if it were His arm, knowing it to be His only.
Hearing these kinds of jokes from Her friends, Radhika became shy. Then, She slowly entred into the bakula forest, remaining patient, although actually Her patience was already swallowed by hundreds of thousands of arising desires.
Seeing Shri Radhika, Krishna told Himself, "Ahaha! What is this? I hear the singing of Her anklebells! Or is it the sound of a chakora bird? If these sounds enter My ears, I know that the tree of My fortune is bearing fruit."
Visakha repeatedly doubted her own eyes when she saw Mukunda embracing a young tamala tree. Quickly and joyfully she told lotus-eyed Radhika, "O fair faced One, look! Madhava is standing over there!"
Hearing this, Shri Radhika thought, "How many times haven't I seen this tree before? This is not my lover, but a tamala tree." How amazing is Shri Radhika's loving delusion! Although She was anxious and dizzy with impatience at heart, She still thought that Krishna was a tamala tree.
Shri Radhika said, "O clever Visakha, out of eagerness to see Krishna My eyes became bewildered. Is it proper for you to joke with them? But actually, your bewildering words are right, for the spring season and the motionless tamala tree are both called Madhava."
Visakha said, Radha, I'm not joking. But I told You this tamala tree is Krishna just to console You, since You're so eager to see Him. Since You are an ocean of cleverness, You shouldn't be deceived by my words. Anyway, just be satisfied by looking at this nice tamala tree for a while."
Hearing these words of lotus faced Visakha, Hari took off His yellow scarf and covered up His jeweled ornaments for fun. Then He held out His arms like the branches of a tamala tree so that He looked just like that best of trees.
Seeing this, Visakha said, "Radha, Krishna's there in the distance, standing under a desire tree. O lotus faced One, as long as You cannot enter the bakula grove with Him, You just patiently stay here for a moment, keeping Your hand on the trunk of this tamala tree. Don't be afraid that we will leave You here, because we know that anyone who ever takes shelter of this tamala tree, will never be afraid." Saying this, Visakha left with Lalita and the other sakhis and hid between the vines to see how Radhika slowly, slowly approached the fresh tamala tree with increasing erotic feelings, falling in an ocean of astonishment and climbing a mountain of erotic bliss at the same time.
Shri Radhika thought to Herself, "How many tamala trees haven't I seen? But this tree has exactly the same luster as the prince of Vraja. I praise the Creator for making such an unlimitedly sweet immobile being. Now I will satisfy the thirst of My eyes on this being." Tears of boundless bliss streamed from Radhika's eyes as She said, "O incomparably beautiful tamala tree, how can I praise you more? You aren't just a tree, you are Shri Krishna Himself! O king of trees, shower Me with sweet honey as I most firmly embrace you. I'm burning in a forest fire of lust at every moment! Thus, I will be immersed in the waves of an ocean of sweet bliss."
Deluded by Her intense, passionate love for Krishna, doe eyed Radhika could not immediately recognise Him and She even mistook His yellow dhoti to be Her own luster reflected in the tamala tree. When She anxiously looked in all directions as She firmly embraced the tamala tree, Krishna, the Ocean of Divine Love, who had become dizzy with erotic intoxication, embraced Her in return. Then, Cupid pierced Radha and Krishna's bodies as They united and stole the very beautiful jewels of Their minds. Thus Madhava became just like the tamala tree and Radhika like the golden vine who embraced Him. After some time, Kundadanti (Shri Radhika, whose teeth are brightly white like kunda flowers), who was kept on the waves of the erotic battle, recognised Her lover and was carried away by waves of embarrassment. She was constantly astonished at Her own matchless innocence and at Krishna's cleverness. Even Saraswati, the goddess of speech, was not able to end Her descriptions of what Radha and Krishna began to do there on the bed of flowers to make Cupid's kingdom successful, even if she had made the eyes of the witnessing gopis her guru (teacher) for a long time. Saraswati became stunned out of paramount ecstasy and cried streams of tears with a choked voice.
Thus ends chapter eighteen of Shrila Visvanatha Cakravrti's "Krishna Bhavanamrita Mahakavya," dealing with Radha and Krishna's Evening Pastimes.