|NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Compiled and Imp Scriptures > Glories of Shri Radha > Appearance of Shri Radha > Barsana Pastime|
Barsana Pastime on Radhashtami
For the occasion of Shri Radhashtami, Kirtidadevi calls Shri Radha to Barshana on Bhadra Shukla Saptami, the day before Her birthday staying 3 days until the Dashami. Lord Shri Krishna goes to Barshana, being invited for the occasion of Shri Radhika's Janmotsava (on Bhadra Shukla Ashtami). There He meets His beloved and enjoys a grand festival of bliss.
Maharaja Visits King Vrsabhanu
Ananda Vrindavana Champu of Shrila kavi Karnapura.
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 on the Appearance Day of Shrimati Radha just as they are invited to Nandagrama for the celebrating the Appearance Day of Lord Krishna. 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 Vmdavana. 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 sakhis. It will be good for you to uphold the etiquette of family traditions. 0 Visakhe! You should also bring your friend Lalita who always exhibits a playful nature."
Smiiing, Laiita replied to Sucarita, "0 auspicious one! Why are we sud¬denly invited to a festival?"
Sucarita replied, "It is not a surprise event. When the king of Vmdavana celebrated Krishna's birthday he invited everyone to participate. After atttending this mahotsava. King Vrsabhanu got the idea to hold a similar festival in his palace of Radhika's birthday. 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, "0 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 ail 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, "0 auspicious one! Please use all Your cooking skills io make very delicious and tempt¬ing preparations. Surely Your lotus hands will attain perfection by cook¬ing this feast. Tomorrow the king of the cowherd men, his wife, family, and Krishna and Balarama will take their meal here."
Lalita said, "0 father! Have you collected all the necessary ingredi¬ents?"
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 oth¬ers 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 lov¬able, 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, "0 Vatsa! The honorable King Vrsabhanu, who is opulent with the wealth of many bulls, desires to host You tomor¬row 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 tomor¬row 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 Vmdavana, 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 wel¬comed into our house. I hope they will be kind and bestow their compas¬sion 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, "0 ladies! You have conquered us with your humble praises. You need not treat us so respect¬fully or worry about us because we can take care of ourselves."
King Vrsabhanu had collected beautiful paraphernalia from all direc¬tions 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 at¬mosphere. Being nicely swept and cleansed, the main road appeared free from dirt and dust. The densely foliated branches of the dark green ba¬nana trees prevented the sun's rays from shining on the path. Kettle¬drums and mrdangas resounded melodiously in glorification. They cre¬ated a festive atmosphere to greet the party of Nanda Maharaja.
After making alt the arrangements Vrsabhanu Maharaja petitioned Surya-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 cherishing paramour love for Krishna strongly desired to embrace His lotus feet that now graced the earth of Varsana. Thus Krishna, the personification ofsmgara rasa, entered
the vision of the eager King Vrsabhanu.
Other famity members such as the queen of Vmdavana, 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 ail good for¬tune, and his associates followed behind. Seeing them, Vrsabhanu Maha¬raja rushed forward to warmly embrace Krishna, the moon of Gokula who has attractive curly, dark blue hair. After bending his head hlightiy to show respect to the king and queen of Vmdavana, 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 Vmdavana 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 pre¬pared.
Mother Yasoda said, "Just see what amazing delicacies You have made. One can easily perceive all Your good qualities of taste, beauty, and fra¬grance 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 ex¬pertise 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, "0 Lalite! 0 Syame! 0 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, "0 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 ap¬pears 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, "0 Yasoda! Everything you said is perfectly correct. There is no doubt about it. Moreover, the delightful son of the lord of Vmdavana is an ocean of good qualities and Radhika is Sumukhi, sweet¬ness personified. 0 Yasoda, this pair of jewels is the central ornament on the neck of the goddess of Vmdavana. 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, "0 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 Vmdavana. 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 con¬sciousness Kirtida illuminates her family and increases their fame. After embracing her, Yasoda said, "0 Kirtida' Why did you engage the youth¬ful 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 Bower-like body of Radhika, who has wilted from the heat of the cooking fires. Don't you feel repentant over this?"
Kirtida replied, "0 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 in¬telligence, 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- 0 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
to Vmdavana not considering himself blessed today? But since you are the most worshipable lady in Vmdavana, T 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 Vmdavana, 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 di¬lemma 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 Vmdavana, who is the embodiment of absolute fortune, and her family members pri¬vately in the inner chambers. Let Syama-sakhi serve a line of guests sit¬ting on the outer veranda."
Syama-sakhi, a clever expert in juggling words, said, "0 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 af¬fection, said, "0 my two well-behaved girls! Do not be afraid, but listen to my words and you will benefit. Following my suggestion, you should leam 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 assem¬bly drowned in joy upon seeing beam a pleasant smile. Radhika, the goddess of personified beauty, came before the honorable King of Vmdavana 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, "With¬out 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 com¬pletely saturated with a mood of eternal love and Her blissful form bright¬ens 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. "0 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' (talk¬ative 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, "0 best among the dvijos (brahmanas or birds)! Speak out whatever is on your mind."
The brahmana Batu (Kusumasava) immediately replied in a toud voice, "0 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, "0 son of the/twice-bom (Batu)! Do not show off your word Jugglery. You seem to be more crazy and talkative than I am. Do not Spoil Krishnas 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, "0 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 re¬mained 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. 0 sweet-faced one! You should serve the same line You did before." Surrendering to mother Yasoda, Radhika con¬tinued 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 fuli 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 madhuiya-rasa of Radhika's heart with every bite.
Vrsabhanu concluded the festive occasion by joyfully distributing tambula, valuable ornaments, garfands, 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 ser¬vice mood, the two mothers conversed among themselves.
Yasoda said, "That expert talker Batu spoke correctly when he said, '0 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 prepa-.rations 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, "0 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 Vmdavana 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. (Translated by Bhanu Swami and Subhag Swami and published by Mahanidhi Swami).