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The Purva-raga of the Gopis
The minds of the young gopis of Vrndavana transformed due to their rising desire to enjoy intimately with Krishna. Many impediments prevented their meeting, but the chariots of the gopis' minds always carried them to thoughts of Krishna. Because of their strong attraction for Krishna they could hardly think or act correctly. Cupid had seized control of their hearts and confounded their minds. They tried their best to hide their feelings, and by discussing among themselves they attempted to relieve the anxiety caused by the pangs of love. One gopi named Candravali, anxious and overcome by intense love, spoke to her confidant Padma, whose elegance defeats the beauty of a lotus. "O golden-one! Listen my dear sakhil My heart is totally attached to Syamasundara. My superiors are heavily criticizing me for this and my sister-in-law is poisoning others by speaking ill of me, but I cannot give up my attraction to Him."
Padma replied, "O lotus-eyed one! You should know that the fresh love of the daughter of Vrsabhanu surpasses all of us. But as yet She has not met alone with Krishna. Before She consorts with Krishna, you should fulfill your heart's desire by associating with Him first. Once Syamasundara enjoys with you, He will forget all about Her. Come now and I will make all arrangements for your love tryst. When Radha and Syama met that night beside the lake everyone understood the superexcellent position of Their confidential love. But my dear friend, you should know that Krishna's love has no beginning and no end." Thus Padma, who is expert in fulfilling the cherished desires of Candravali, encouraged her and made the necessary arrangements for her to meet Syamasundara.
Meanwhile, Radhika sat in a secluded place with Her dear sakhis Lalita and Visakha. The immeasurable weight of Her love for Krishna overpowered Her. While Radhika remained in a lonely place, Syama-sakhi, who is pure and faultless, and Bakula-mala sakhi arrived carrying a bakula garland.
Syama-sakhi said, "O darling of Vrsabhanu! You are the tilaka on the head of all the Vraja gopis and the crest-jewel of all beautiful girls. Who is more fortunate than You? Verily, among all living entities, You are the personification of love. What to speak of all living entities, You attract even the heart of Krishna, who is an ocean of wealth and good fortune. That night on the banks of the Yamuna after the Kaliya pastime convinced me that Krishna was madly in love with You.
"He pleased everyone and filled the gopis with rasa. His enticing form acted like an elephant goad pulling the hearts of the gopis hankering to taste His love. Like a cakora bird relishing the rays of the moon, He drank the nectar dripping from Your moon-like face with His sidelong glances. As far as I am concerned, You are certainly the only object of His love. Seeing Your mutual love my distress is now gone, and my heart is inundated with waves of bliss."
Radhika replied, "O bold one! Why are you exaggerating so much? Hey sakhil Where is that housewife in Gokula who has not accepted Kaliya-damana (Krishna) as her only object of love? Kumuda flowers open without the moon, but lilies need the moon's tender touch to blossom into sweetness. Therefore You should know that Syamasundara is the only sweetheart for all the gorgeous girls in Vrndavana. He does not belong to any one sakhil" Syama-sakhi said, "Doliot doubt my words and thereby inflict pain upon Yourself. Be satisfied with Your unique good fortune and be convinced that Syamasundara belongs only to You."
Lalita said, "Syame! Are you speaking just to console Radha, or do you really mean what you say?"Syama-sakhi replied, "O Lalite! Why don't you ask my friend Bakula-mala?"
Lalita said, "O my dear sakhi Bakula-mala! Tell the truth. Do not say something just to please me."
Bakula-mala said, "Hey Radhe! Radhe! This Bakula-mala herself will dispel Your doubts. Just hearing my words will give pleasure to Your ears. This morning that handsome boy passed by me on His way to tend the cows on Govardhana Hill, the source of happiness. For sometime Krishna played joyfully with His intimate companions.
"Then He went for a walk with Madhumangala and entered a forest of bakula trees. Krishna appeared like an ocean of bliss meandering amongst the bakula trees, which were laden with blossoming flowers. Krishna and his friend Kusumasava sat down and strung a garland of delicate bakula flowers. That bakula garland glowed brightly and emitted an extremely sweet fragrance. Feeling very shy and afraid that someone might see me, I hid behind some forest creepers and watched Him for a long time."At that time I heard Kusumasava, who was holding the pet parrot of Radhika on his hand, describing to Krishna about how Radha looks at Him with loving eyes. He told Krishna that when He goes out behind the cows, Radhika stands in the watchtower of Her palace and gazes upon Him with great longing. During His birthday festival Radhika spent the whole time simply looking at Him. Radhika stared at Krishna with totally fixed attention the day He subdued Kaliya.
Hey Radhe! Jsten to the other sweet words that Kusumasava spoke. Although his seaking seemed irrelevant, he said, 'O my dear friend! The garland that ^u made is very special and You should use' it to win the heart of Radhia. May it swing around Her neck and enhance Her beauty.' Krishna smiled uile replying, 'How will this ever happen? Your statements are as illusorys the will-o'-the wisp.' Kusumasava reacted to cover up his statements. Afirst he did not respond but just stood there silently like a picture."Just then, Idma-sakhi arrived there like an untimely storm and stood next to KrishnaCarrying the passenger of intense anxiety, the chariot of my mind ran yay. But since I was only a short distance away, I overheard everything ths Kusumasava said to Padma. He said, 'Are sakhi\ What are you doing hei? You appear like the crest-jewel of cunning persons. What brought you tthis lonely forest grove? Abandoning all shyness, you stand fearlessly in f>nt of my friend Syamasundara who always tastes varieties of rasas.'
"Then full f pretension, Padma put a proposal before Krishna saying, 'Listen beautul one! My name is Padma and I am an intimate friend of Candravali-sdii. She sent me here to pick flowers for the worship of Mother Gau (wife of Lord Siva), the pure one. The particular flowers required for er puja only available only in this grove of Yours. Hence, I have come he in order to pick these bakula flowers.'
"Kusumassa replied, 'It is well known that Gauri (Candravali) is attached to wfshiping Gauri-devi (Durga), who is pleased by faith and love. Why din't Candravali come herself to pick flowers for her pujaT "Padma sa, 'O bold one! You are correct. But Candravali got bitten the first time sheaw that poisonous black snake named Krishna standing by the bank of the "imuna. The poison of His love now sears her tender heart.'
"Kusumassa said, 'The only remedy to counteract that poison is to stop thinkin about that snake.' "Padma sal, 'I am searching for the means to distract her mind.' "Kusumas'a said, 'It is very difficult to find such a means. Due to its cowardly naire, a mind fearful of a snake can never give up its fear. Similarly, win one's mind becomes completely attached to Krishna it cannot go anywere else.'"Padma rolied, 'Nothing is impossible for one who is full of anxiety. Where thei is mind, there must be anxiety. When one loses his mind, however, nurally he gives up all his anxiety. When that anxiety disappears then can no longer dominate him. Becoming enchanted by a beautiful object in also steal away the mind. Indeed, that anxiety is amazing!' "Kusumaiva said, 'Go and look for that one who steals the mind (Manohara-Krishna)!'
"Padma said, 'At present your bahxla-mala is that manohara. But that bakula-mala should decorate the neck of Gauri (name for Durga or Candravali).'
"Syamasundara said, 'Hey my friend Varsa! This sakhi seems to be very clever. She wants to decorate the neck of Gauri with My bakula-mala. But she is not allowing Me to finish the garland.'
"Kusumasava said, 'O bold one! Your bakula garland is meant for our dear friends. Who else could be qualified to receive it? Therefore sakhi, why not just pick up the bakula flowers lying on the ground and take those with you?'
"Padma replied, 'How can I even dare to do that? Why a/e you depriving me in this way? If the prince of Vrndavana is inclined, He will personally give us some flowers.'
"Krishna said to Kusumasava, 'What she said is perfectly correct. So you should give her some flowers in order to satisfy her sakhi and to perform the worship of Gauri.' Then Padma, feeling overwhelmed in joy, took some bakula flowers and left."
Bakula-mala continued to narrate Krishna's pastimes to Radhika, "Hey Radhe! I overheard Kusumasava say, 'O my friend Krishna! If among the young sakhis like Padma and others, a sakhi of Radha's party comes here she could mitigate the pain in your heart. Then Your bakula-mala will have meaning.'
"After hearing this I moved closer to them on the pretext of collecting fallen flowers. Yet I acted in such a way that they could not tell I was listening to them. Seeing me, Kusumasava said, 'Hey sakhil Who are you?' Immediately after saying this, the parrot perched on his hand said, 'Aho, look! Here is Bakula-mala, the associate of Syama-sakhi who is a friend of Radhika. She is picking up bakula flowers to make a garland.'
"Kusumasava said, 'What need is there of a garland? When the shameless young girls of Gokula can create bakula flowers and agitate everyone just by their sidelong glances.'
"The parrot said, 'Now that you have this garland of bakula flowers you should give it to Syama-sakhi's maidservant who in turn will give it to my deserving mistress Radhika.'
"Kusumasava said, 'Syamasundara! Just see, my words are coming true.' And the parrot replied, 'A brahmana's words are infallible. You should give this bakula garland to Bakula sakhi and she will give it to Radhika.'
"Then Krishna, the destroyer of demons, smiled gently and spoke just according to the time and circumstance, 'The young girls of Vrndavana are naturally proud. Why should they come here on the orders of Batu (nickname for Kusumasava or Madhumangala) who is simply a brahmana entertaining everyone with his jokes and silly behavior? Therefore, O best among the birds! In order to comfort your mistress, why don't you fly to her. Hearing your pure, soft, and sweet request, that Bakula sakhi will accept your bakula garland.'"Immediately that best of the birds flew to me and said, 'O Bakula-mala! Do you recognize me? Why are you picking bakula flowers? Why not come see the prince of Vrndavana? I will give you the garland that Syamasundara has made Himself, so you need not toil so hard picking flowers.'"I replied to that parrot, O best of the parrots! The scriptures are right when they say that one's good and bad qualities depend on his association. It appears that associating with a person who is wanton by nature, dresses in yellow garments, and is intoxicated from drinking madira-rasa has bewildered your intelligence. Tell me, do you think that any chaste girl will accept a garland from someone who is not her husband?
"The parrot said, 'Hey listen! He is the supreme person, not just an ordinary person. His lotus feet are very difficult to attain.' (Inner meaning of parrot's statements: 'So why don't you try to meet Krishna?') "I replied Arel Wait a minute! I can see He is just a man. Why are you calling Him the supreme person? Do not try to attract me to Krishna by your word jugglery."
Bakula-mala continued speaking to Radhika, "The parrot told me that if I understood his words I should take the garland. Since the parrot defeated me, I could not take the dominant role. So I returned to Krishna who wears makara-kundala. Then the mild and sweet brahmana named Kusumasava talked to his dear friend the parrot."After their argument ended Kusumasava said, 'This sakhi named Bakula-mala should take this bakula garland to the mistress of the parrot. Even Laksmi-devi, who has sweet-smelling hands, can rarely obtain such a garland. This bakula garland should be taken to Radhika, the eternal lover of Krishna. By doing this Bakula-sakhi will attain success in accomplishing her task. This Bakula sakhi, who is the personification of Krishna's sweet love, is expert in this work.'"At that moment Damodara slightly trembled as He raised His soft, lotus palm, moistened with perspiration. While looking in the opposite direction a sweet nectarean smile appeared on His face. Then He gently touched my hand as He gave me the garland. I returned to my mistress Syama-sakhi and presented this garland which embodies the fragrance of Krishna's pure love for You. I told her all the details of my meeting with Krishna, and how this garland conveyed His heartfelt desire to meet You. And now my mistress has brought that garland to You."
Then Syama-sakhi adorned Radha's neck with the bakula garland. Radhika felt the thrilling touch of Her beloved by contacting the garland made by Syamasundara's hands. As a result, Radha's body surged with ecstatic symptoms and Her cheeks swelled with delight. Feeling the rising of love, Radhika's eyes moistened with tears as She looked slightly downward out of shyness. A mild nectarean smile bathed Her gentle lips, which defeated the tenderness of fresh sprouts. Overwhelmed by insurmountable ecstasy, Radharani embraced Bakula-sakhi and fell unconscious.
Lalita-sakhi said, "Hey Syame! It is not only in name, but also in fame and quality that your sakhi Bakula-mala and this bakula garland are the same. Can't you see that both these bakula-malas are fragrant and freshly youthful? They both enjoyed the touch of Krishna's lotus hands and got to decorate the neck of our Swamini Radhika." Syama-sakhi replied, "You have spoken very sweetly."
Nanda Maharaja Visits King Vrsabhanu
Once upon a time, the illustrious and powerful King Vrsabhanu met with his ministers to discuss inviting Vrajaraja Nanda and his family for a visit. With all intelligence Vrsabhanu Maharaja submissively upheld the family traditions, and executed them in a wonderful beautiful way. He desired to celebrate the festival in grand style, and He wanted Radhika, the embodiment of the art of cooking, to prepare Her finest dishes. He sent a nursemaid's daughter named Sucarita, who possessed good character and auspicious qualities, to convey his plan to Radha. Coming before Radha, Sucarita said, "Your parents want You to prepare a grand feast for the upcoming visit of the king of Vrndavana. I will not leave here until I see You depart for Your father's palace." As the sakhis happily worship Radhika, She fills them with joy in return. Sucarita also addressed the other sakhis attending Radhika, "Listen Syame! Radha's father wants you to give up your pretension of laziness and help the other sakfiis. It will be good for you to uphold the etiquette of family traditions. O Visakhe! You should also bring your friend Lalita who always exhibits a playful nature."
Smiling, Lalita replied to Sucarita, "O auspicious one! Why are we suddenly invited to a festival?"
Sucarita replied, "It is not a surprise event. When the king of Vrndavana celebrated Krishna's birthday he invited everyone to participate. After attending this mahotsava, King Vrsabhanu got the idea to hold a similar festival in his palace. So naturally he thought to invite the king of the cowherd men who possesses pure consciousness. After riding in the chariot of the mind for long time, this joyful festival is about to be held. It will definitely be an ecstatic event."
Syama-sakhi said, "O one who excels all in good qualities! No doubt it will be a wonderful festival. Who will not enjoy great bliss by attending this rewarding festival? We must immediately start preparing, since this is the order of Radha's father." Then all the gopis went to the magnificent palace of King Vrsabhanu. It seemed that the embodiment of all joyous festivals had manifested there. King Vrsabhanu welcomed the sakhis, "Are you all feeling happy?" After Radhika paid obeisances, He smelled Her head and said, "O auspicious one! Please use all Your cooking skills to make very delicious and tempting preparations. Surely Your lotus hands will attain perfection by cooking this feast. Tomorrow the king of the cowherd men, his wife, family, and Krishna and Balarama will take their meal here."Lalita said, "O father! Have you collected all the necessary ingredients?"
King Vrsabhanu replied, "Not just today, but for many days we have been arranging for this mahotsava. For a long time I have been eager to observe this. Now all the ingredients have been procured in unlimited amounts. You cannot see the end of them. Enter the storeroom and see for yourself. Please consider if all the proper divine articles and items have been assembled. If the best of anything remains to be collected, then please tell me and I will immediately get it."
All the effulgent, slender-waisted sakhis like Lalita, Visakha, and others expert in the art of cooking met and joyfully entered the enchanting kitchen. After paying obeisances to Mother Kirtida the sakhis inspected the ingredients.Meanwhile, Krishna returned from the forest with the cows. Seeing her approaching son, Mother Yasoda, who is glorified by all the demigods like Lord Siva and Brahma, anxiously desired to speak to Him. In a lovable, unpretentious way Krishna cast fresh, sidelong glances to reciprocate with each one of His friends. He walked with the gait of a lordly elephant in rut. Yasoda said in a sweet voice, "O Vatsa! The honorable King Vrsabhanu, who is opulent with the wealth of many bulls, desires to host You tomorrow at his palace. After consulting his ministers and associates he sent an invitation. My darling, You should go there tomorrow to reciprocate with his loving request. Your friends will stay back to tend the cows. So tomorrow You need not go to the forest."Krishna, the ocean of compassion, said, "How is it possible for Me to go alone and eat without My friends? What is the use of such an invitation." Yasoda, who fully knows the laws of social etiquette, replied, "Do not be distressed in Your mind. If You cannot give up Your attachment to Your friends, then just stay home with them." After she said this, Krishna, who removes the distress of everyone in the universe, forgot about going to the forest. Contemplating the upcoming festival, Krishna remembered the sweet name, form, and qualities of Radhika. As Krishna fixed His mind on Radhika, His affection for Radha increased more and more. Then Krishna meditated on all the wonderful preparations that Radha would make on the order of Her father.On the day of the mahotsava King Vrsabhanu beamed happily like the rays of the rising sun. Vrajesvari Yasoda received a warm greeting upon arriving in Varsana. After offering obeisances to the queen of Vrndavana, the younger ladies of the house glorified her, "Please listen attentively as we recount how Kirtida-devi (Radhika's mother) praised you. She said, 'Even Sarasvati cannot properly describe the wonderful nature of the creeper of mother Yasoda's parental love. Then how can I possibly glorify her? As a devotee of Lord Hari can remove the miseries of material existence, similarly, Yasoda's visit to our house will remove all inauspicious-ness. Rohini-devi and her all-auspicious family members will be also welcomed into our house. I hope they will be kind and bestow their compassion on me. Tell them that they need not bathe at home, but they can quickly come here and do all their bathing in our palace."Vrajesvari Yasoda affectionately addressed them, "O ladies! You have conquered us with your humble praises. You need not treat us so respectfully or worry about us because we can take care of ourselves."
King Vrsabhanu had collected beautiful paraphernalia from all directions in order to offer a royal reception to Maharaja Nanda, the king of the cowherd men. Lavish decorations beautified the entire city of Varsana. Beginning from the city gate, gorgeous ornaments adorned the entire royal road. Strings of sweetly jingling bells hung over the roadway. Auspicious water pots lined the sides of the road. Coconuts set on mango leaves rested above shiny brass pots. Rows of decorated lamps accented the atmosphere. Being nicely swept and cleansed, the main road appeared free from dirt and dust. The densely foliated branches of the dark green banana trees prevented the sun's rays from shining on the path. Kettledrums and mrdangas resounded melodiously in glorification. They created a festive atmosphere to greet the party of Nanda Maharaja.After making all the arrangements Vrsabhanu Maharaja petitioned Suiya-deva, his worshipable deity, to make his endeavors successful. Then he went to the path beside the main road and waited expectantly for the arrival of his guests. Rows of fruit-bearing betel trees lined both sides of the lane on which Vrsabhanu stood. First he saw the attractive young prince of Vrndavana strolling before His relatives. Surrounded by His friends, Krishna illuminated the world with the brilliant effulgence coming from His lightning hued dhoti. The gopis herishing paramour love for Krishna strongly desired to embrace His lotus feet that now graced the earth of Varsana. Thus Krishna, the personification of srngara rasa, entered the vision of the eager King Vrsabhanu. Other family members such as the queen of Vrndavana, who is totally free from all faults and falsity, walked behind Krishna. Nanda Maharaja, who brings joy to the earth like a veritable manifestation of all good fortune, and his associates followed behind. Seeing them, Vrsabhanu Maharaja rushed forward to warmly embrace Krishna, the moon of Gokula who has attractive curly, dark blue hair. After bending his head slightly to show respect to the king and queen of Vrndavana, Vrsabhanu led them to his palace.Upon entering the palace, King Vrsabhanu expertly arranged sitting places for his guests according to their position. He provided for all their comforts by engaging his servants in carefully and respectfully bathing, massaging, and dressing them. Everyone felt happy and refreshed from the fatigue of the journey after the warm reception.Yasoda entered the kitchen to check on Radhika. Appearing in Vrndavana as personified bliss, Radhika made a wonderful feast with Her expert cooking and tasteful arrangements. Seeing mother Yasoda entering the kitchen, Radhika offered her respectful obeisances. Yasoda, the bearer of beauty and fame for her family, felt boundless affection for Radhika. Smiling joyfully, Yasoda said, "The art of cooking is like the jewel in the ornament of praise for the female class. Even though Your beautiful body is as delicate as a flower, You have taken on this heavy burden of cooking. And by doing so Your elegance has enhanced." Although Radhika had worked very hard, She did not feel the least bit tired. When requested by Yasoda, Radhika felt shy about displaying all the items that She had prepared.
Mother Yasoda said, "Just see what amazing delicacies You have made. One can easily perceive all Your good qualities of taste, beauty, and fragrance in these astonishing preparations. Your perfect cooking has turned everything into ambrosia." Then giving Radha a full embrace, Yasoda congratulated Her saying, "Darling, bravo! I really appreciate Your expertise in cooking. Seeing Your skill has removed whatever unhappiness I felt within myself."
Her face glowing like the full moon, Yasoda continued her joyful mood. She embraced the fragrant youthful Lalita and Syama-sakhi and praised them saying, "O Lalite! O Syame! O Visakhe! Your friendly dealings with each other, and your respectful attitude toward your superiors is certainly commendable. For this is the standard of behavior of cultured people." After glorifying Radhika, who is expert in all arts, and Her girlfriends,Yasoda turned to Rohini-devi and said, "O mother of Balabhadra! Learned persons always honor such mutual loving affection. This Radhika, who is delicate and tender by nature, has filled my heart with ecstasy. She appears in this world like an auspicious flower from Nanda-kanana, or a beautiful creeper of sandalwood. Radhika is the ripened fruit of the tree of Vrsabhanu's piety. Radhika is a rare jewel-mine of the best qualities found in the three worlds."Rohini replied, "O Yasoda! Everything you said is perfectly correct. There is no doubt about it. Moreover, the delightful son of the lord of Vrndavana is an ocean of good qualities and Radhika is Sumukhi, sweetness personified. O Yasoda, this pair of jewels is the central ornament on the neck of the goddess of Vrndavana. They give pleasure to anyone who sees or hears about Them."Feeling bashful over hearing Her praises, Radhika gently lowered Her head in shyness. From observing Radhika's facial expressions, Syama-sakhi and the other gopis detected the joy swirling within Her heart. They smiled slightly in understanding and thought within themselves, "O Rohini-devi! Your statements disclose our inner thoughts. Truly you are blessed. Without a doubt rain gives cooling relief to one tortured by scorching sunshine. There is a deeper more satisfying meaning to your statement that Radhika and Syama-sakhi are the jewels on the neck of the goddess of Vrndavana. Everyone holds this pair of jewels on their heads. Do you not feel repentant about engaging this delicate girl in such difficult work?"
As the sun lights up the entire universe, similarly, with her pure consciousness Kirtida illuminates her family and increases their fame. After embracing her, Yasoda said, "O Kirtida! Why did you engage the youthful Radhika in the toilsome duty of cooking, which is usually done by the elderly housewives? You should not have caused such distress to the fresh flower-like body of Radhika, who has wilted from the heat of the cooking fires. Don't you feel repentant over this?"
Kirtida replied, "O Vrajesvari! Indeed, I took a risk by engaging Radhika in that work. But the fact is that Radhika is an expert cook. And besides, this particular festival we are hosting will fill everyone with delight. The munificent king of the cowherd men, his wife, and children will all enjoy a wonderful feast here today. Actually Radhika, who possesses brilliant intelligence, willfully engaged Herself in this service with great happiness and enthusiasm.
"Moreover Radhika has a natural ability in Her hand so that whatever She cooks exhibits the best qualities of taste, beauty, and fragrance. O you who have such strong affection for Radhika! Being eager to please his guests, Radha's father humorously asked Her to help. The majority of the feast preparations are being made in another big kitchen. In this kitchen Radhika is cooking only a few especially delectable items. Is there anyone in Vrndavana not considering himself blessed today? But since you are the most worshipable lady in Vrndavana, I think you should take charge here. If that will make you happy, then I am sure all the problems with the festival will be solved."
Vrajesvari Yasoda replied, "Let Rohini, who is famous for her expertise in serving, distribute all the food items lovingly cooked by Radhika."
Before Yasoda could finish speaking, Kirtida interjected, "Wait! Let my darling Radhika serve the King and Queen of Vrndavana, along with their sons Krishna and Balarama who are like a pair of fresh blue and white lotuses. Radhika should also serve Rohini, the personified jewel all good qualities. The intimate friends of Radhika such as Lalita and Syama-sakhi, who are also experienced servers, should distribute food to Krishna's friends."
Although this order filled Radhika's ears with nectar, it created a dilemma due to the rising waves of love within Her heart. Radharani could not accept the proposal, but at the same time She did not want to refuse the request. Inertia overtook Radhika's mind. As the gentle, sweet smile slowly disappeared from Her tender sprout-like lips, Radhika bashfully confided in her mother. Radhika said, "I am feeling overwhelmed with feelings of shyness and reluctance. Therefore, I will only serve the divine queen of Vrndavana, who is the embodiment of absolute fortune, and her family members privately in the inner chambers. Let Syama-sakhi serve a line of guests sitting on the outer veranda."Syama-sakhi, a clever expert in juggling words, said, "O doe-eyed one! Your statements are unreasonable. Let Your father Vrsabhanu, who is as powerful as the sun, more famous than Lord Siva and the purifier of the fallen, serve the guests sitting on veranda."
After listening to the sweet talks of these sakhis whose pleasing voices sounded like the warbling of swans, Yasoda, the reservoir of parental affection, said, "O my two well-behaved girls! Do not be afraid, but listen to my words and you will benefit. Following my suggestion, you should learn the proper method of serving. Now both of you become proficient in this art."
After giving this instruction, mother Yasoda, who is pure and famous, walked out on the huge, gem-studded veranda. She ordered her servants to properly arrange the wooden seats. They fixed fine white covers on the seats and made all comfortable arrangements.Then Haladhara, the brother of Krishna, who subdues the demons and whose bright complexion outshines the purest crystal, sat on the right side of Nanda Maharaja. Krishna, whose body is more brilliant than a blue sapphire, sat on his left. The brahmana boy Batu, who is an expert joker with a very strong and beautiful neck, sat next to Krishna. Subala, who is strong, wealthy, and full of deep affection for Krishna and the other sakhas, sat beside Batii.The respectable and handsome Nanda Maharaja, the main cause Gokula's wealth, cleansed his feet and sat down. Everyone in the assembly drowned in joy upon seeing beam a pleasant smile. Radhika, the goddess of personified beauty, came before the honorable King of Vrndavana and respectfully offered him lotus flowers in Her folded palms. Then Yasoda summoned Radhika to serve the foodstuffs. With a heart full of joy Radhika served Nanda Maharaja while Syama-sakhi served Krishna and Balarama. Noticing that Radhika was not serving Krishna, Yasoda told Her, "Without Your help Syama-sakhi will not be able to serve properly. Why don't You help her serve Krishna." Although eager to do this, Radhika tried to restrain Her restless heart. Soon, however, a bad star appeared to destroy Her restraint and remove Her fickle modesty. Radharani's mind is completely saturated with a mood of eternal love and Her blissful form brightens the world with a wonderful effulgence. Although Her hand trembled due to fear, Radhika controlled it and served Krishna. On the order of Vrajesvari, Radhika and Syama-sakhi served Krishna and His friends like Subala and Kusumasava.
"O look!" boasted Kusumasava, "Although I am the best among the brahmanas, still I have become sanctified by honoring this food which has been personally served by the hand of the daughter of Vrsabhanu. Do you know why this is true? Radhika is Maha Laksmi-devi Herself. Is there any woman in the world equal to Her? Hey Krishna, my self-effulgent friend! After relishing the food cooked by Radhika, we no longer want to eat food cooked by anyone else." While Radhika served the food with great dexterity and devotion, Kusumasava continued to laugh and make jokes. Speaking in varying tones, he sometimes spoke quickly and then very slowly. With his funny talks and antics, he entertained the entire assembly.Pretending to be angry, Krishna addressed Kusumasava, "Hey Vacal! (talkative one) Take your meal and stop your mocking and joking. Do not create such pandemonium. Besides what is the use of all your silly talks?" Kusumasava replied, "Accepting Your instruction, am I supposed to become like a dumb man and just eat silently? Even if I had a hundred mouths, I could not properly glorify the superb quality of this food. Its taste just beyond my imagination to explain." While eating Krishna gave some food to a parrot that sat between He and Kusumasava. The parrot accepted the offerings with great happiness.Feeling grateful, he extended his neck and looked restlessly here and there as if preparing to speak. Observing the actions of the parrot, Yasoda said, "O best among the dvijas (brahmanas or birds)! Speak out whatever is on your mind."The brahmana Batu (Kusumasava) immediately replied in a loud voice,"O just see! Today I have become the best of the twice born." Yasoda replied, "I am not speaking to you. I am addressing the parrot."The parrot said, "O son of the twice-born (Batu)! Do not show off your word jugglery. You seem to be more crazy and talkative than I am. Do not spoil Krishna's happy mood by speaking any more nonsense."
Vrajaraja Nanda said, "From where has this wise bird come? Why did this parrot become morose upon hearing the glories of Laksmi-devi and Radhika?"
Yasoda said, "Just listen to the history of this parrot. It is not fitting to compare Radhika with one of the demigods." The parrot said, "Why didn't you give a suitable reply on my behalf?" After hearing these talks, Radhika and Syama-sakhi met in the kitchen, removed the veils from their heads, and started joking and laughing. Radhika said, "O Syame! One with a beautiful face! These two twice-borns (Batu and the parrot)are engaged in some nonsense talk about Me. So now you continue serving by yourself." After saying this Radhika remained in the kitchen.
Not seeing Radha, Yasoda thought, "Perhaps Radhika became shy upon hearing the parrot glorify Her, so She stopped serving." Yasoda then went to encourage Radhika. Accepting her proposal, Radha served again but in another part of the room. Noticing this, Yasoda approached Radhika and said, "It is natural for a cultured girl to feel shy upon hearing her own glories. But my darling, You are not the daughter of Vrsabhanu, but You are the daughter of the ocean. O sweet-faced one! You should serve the same line You did before." Surrendering to mother Yasoda, Radhika continued serving Krishna and His friends.
Besides enjoying the meal, Nanda Maharaja especially appreciated the cooking expertise of Radhika. Fully satisfied, he laughed and joked with great joy. With great gusto he relished the six kinds of tastes which Radha had presented in a pleasing way. He gave the utmost praise to Radhika for cooking so perfectly. Balarama and His friends felt full satisfaction. Krishna experienced exceptional flavors while eating the food cooked and served by Radhika. Since all the preparations contained the fragrance of Her conjugal love, Krishna savored the sweet madhwya-rasa of Radhika's heart with every bite.
Vrsabhanu concluded the festive occasion by joyfully distributing tambula, valuable ornaments, garlands, and sandalwood pulp to all the guests. Radhika enthusiastically served the mothers of Krishna and Balarama, who displayed sublime gravity and kindness, as many sweets as they desired. While relishing the sweets and delighting in Radhika's service mood, the two mothers conversed among themselves.
Yasoda said, "That expert talker Batu spoke correctly when he said, 'O friend! After eating food cooked by this server you will not want to eat anyone else's cooking.' " Then Yasoda addressed Radhika, "Hey Vrsabhanunandini! Your preparations give complete satisfaction. From now on my dear son Krishna must only eat food cooked by Your hands. He will no longer accept any meal cooked by another. So in very sweet words I will seek permission from Your elders, and definitely they will allow You to cook for my son. For doing this service I will reward You with opulent dresses and ornaments. From now You must come to my house and prepare all of Krishna's meals with a joyful heart." On hearing Yasoda's statement, Kirtida (Radhika's mother) said, "O Vrajesvari Yasoda! You are the Queen of our lives. Your order has greatly enhanced the beauty, love and affection of Radhika. Those who know the workings of love will be pleased by your request. Everyday Radhika will come and skillfully cook for your son. As soon as the sun rises She will go to your house. By your mercy the kingdom of Vrndavana now shines with transcendental glory and stands beyond the effects of time. Your pleasure alone is our ultimate goal."
After receiving the consent of Her elders, Radhika could now freely associate with Her beloved from that day on. As Krishna continued to relish the nectarean foods cooked by Her hands, Radhika's desire to offer Him the sweet nectar of Her lips increased day by day. Meanwhile, another sakhi named Candravali had tied up Gokulacandra (Krishna) in the prison house of her heart like a thief. Whenever Krishna and Candravali met, They looked immensely beautiful. At that time the heart of Candravali, which possesses the wealth of supreme beauty, would melt in anticipation. For she hankered always to be pierced by the arrow of Krishna's love. All the gopis headed by Candravali were like flowers of love emanating the highly praiseworthy fragrance of the joy of meeting Krishna. In assessing the stage of their budding love, one could understand that within a year their love would flourish and clearly express itself.
Sometime later, on the pretext of picking flowers, the Vraja gopis met their beloved Krishna in a lonely garden decorated with fresh, untouched creepers and enjoyed intimate pastimes with Him. Krishna, who is more beautiful than a fresh rain cloud, is the totally independent well-wisher of everyone. He is the sole object of love for the gopis and all the other Vrajavasis devoid of envy.Now the Vraja gopis freely displayed their love without any pretension. Because their superiors did not practice faultfinding the young girls of Gokula did not fear criticism. Since their birth, the Vraja gopis had an overflowing loving attraction for Krishna. They no longer felt any need to hide their feelings. Fully exhibiting their frivolous moods, the gopis delighted in forest pastimes with their beloved. Discarding all inhibitions, they completely fulfilled their heart's desires.The husbands of the gopis observed all the proper rules of social etiquette, but for some reason they did not prevent their wives from running to the forest. Just see the wonderful workings of Yogamaya who made all the necessary arrangements to nourish the rasa of these eternally perfect lovers of Krishna. But surprisingly enough, under the influence of the same Yogamaya potency the gopis felt extremely anxious and apprehensive about their illicit love for Krishna. They thought, "We gopis are married to other men, therefore we are parakiya or belonging to others."
Besides creating such thoughts within the gopis, Yogamaya arranged that their secret meetings with Krishna remained hidden from their superiors. How did she accomplish this? The fathers-and mothers-in-law and the husbands of the gopis thought of themselves as their superiors and protectors. For those having this false pride, Yogamaya arranged for a mayic expansion or duplicate of each gopi to remain home beside her husband, while the original spiritual body of that gopi went out to meet Krishna. Yogamaya performed these tasks perfectly. On the other hand, to pacify Krishna's parents Yogamaya made a completely different arrangement. Krishna, whose character is praised by even Brahma and Siva, is famous for His elegance and ability to control Cupid. Although these qualities usually disappear as a boy matures, tender beauty and impudent behavior mingled within Krishna's youthful form. Due to this, Nanda and Yasoda who were tied to Him by the creeper of parental affection, thought that Krishna would remain perpetually as their little boy.
Despite their thinking, Krishna soon blossomed into manhood. At this time the gopis saw Krishna as a handsome most lovable young man, but His parents continued to see Him as their darling son. As a result, Nanda and Yasoda did not feel any suspicion when Krishna met secretly with the lovelorn, lotus-eyed gopis. To satisfy the Lord's desire to relish parakiya bhava, Yogamaya also arranged for the gopis to maintain the consciousness of identifying as other men's wives. Just see the amazing power of Krishna's Yogamaya potency!