Prasadam - Sri Govinda-lilamrta


Mother Yasoda, Rohini Ma, Krsna and Balarama
Jaipur, c. 1850

Sep 30, 2010 — CANADA (SUN) — A journey through India: border to border, bhoga to prasadam.

Six months ago, we began a new format in the Sun, offering a rotating selection of three serial Feature presentations, on Corporate ISKCON, the Mughal Influence on Vaisnavism, and Prasadam. With so much material to cover, we've extended beyond the Summer months, and through the Fall – and we could go on for years without exhausting all the material we'd like to present.

However, the Mughal series will wrap up shortly, as we move from Jahangir to Shah Jahan, the last emperor in the series. The Corporate ISKCON series will be a work in progress, likely for sevearal years. The Prasadam series has been such a pleasure, we'll continue it as a periodic Feature in the Sun (along with Corporate ISKCON), as we return to our normal program of random Feature presentations on many subjects. Today's segment, then, marks the last in this serial presenatation on cooking for Sri Krsna.

We close with a more complete excerpt from a manuscript we have often quoted throughout the series -- the Govinda-lilamrta by Srila Krishna das Kaviraja Goswami, and associated Rasa-tarangini Tika commentary by Sri Yadunandana Thakur. We have received many requests from our readers to print the complete chapter on Cooking for Krishna. While the brief excerpts have been enticing, and provide important historical anecdotes on the subject of cooking Krsna prasad, enjoying the entire passage all at once is like the difference between taking a bite, and a whole meal.

Sri Govinda-lilamrta

Srila Krishna das Kaviraja Goswami and the associated Rasa-tarangini Tika commentary by Sri Yadunandana Thakur

Chapter Three - Pratah Lila
(Continued morning pastimes, 6:00 a.m. To 8:24 a.m.)

Radhika goes to Nandagram to cook for Krishna

The scene opens at Nanda bhavan:

Verse 1

When Sri Gokulananda leaves for the goshala, Goshtheshwari Yashoda become anxious to prepare his morning meal. Thus she calls her servants, maidservants and the other household members together.

Verse 2

Although she knows that everyone in Yashoda's house works with deep love for Krishna, still she checks on everyone due to vatsalya premananda!

Verse 3

Yashoda Rani requests her dasis: "Oh daughters! Krishna will soon return from milking the cows with Baladeva, and they'll Both be very fatigued and hungry. So quickly get everything ready so that the cooking can start.

Verse 4

Let's stock the kitchen with shaka (spinach), radish, kanchan flowers, mung dahl, ripe fruits, spice leaves, ginger, ground nuts, crushed masa dahl, sour items for chutney, tumeric, black pepper, camphor, sugar, licorice, cane sugar, cream, tamarind, hing, honey, mixed fruits, jaya fruit, teja leaves, cinnamon, sea salt, ground coconut, cooking oil, ghee, and tulasi bhoga rice.

Verse 5

Most importantly, you must bring the thickest milk from the goshala for preparing sweet rice."

Verse 6

Hearing Nandarani's order, the dasis hasten even more than before. Then Mother Yashoda affectionately calls Balaram's mother,

Verse 7

"Oh sakhi Rohini! Our boys (Rama-Krishna) are frail and delicate, yet the stronger sakhas torment them!

Verse 8

Even though we have many servants who could look after the cows, still Krishna and Balaram neglect my restriction and insist on going. Oh, what can be done?

Verse 9

"Oh Rohini Mata! Our sons wander far into the forest and over exert themselves while playing and roaming about. And after returning home, they hardly eat anything due to poor appetite. Hay! I looked this morning and their bellies seem so thin you can see their backs!

Verse 10

"Oh beautiful-faced Rohini! Quickly enter the kitchen and start the cooking. You can prepare the dishes that Rama Krishna especially enjoyed yesterday. And today you can even add some new items to the menu. Let's only provide the delicacies that they fully enjoy."

Verse 11

Complying with Yashoda, Rohini Mata joins the other dasis in the kitchen, which is clean and stocked full with all of the necessary ingredients.

Verse 12

Concerned by Krishna's poor appetite and pondering the means to increase it, the Queen of Gokula becomes eager to call Radha to prepare the sweets.

Verse 13

Coincidentally, Kundalata, the wife of Krishna's cousin Subhadra, the son of Upananda, arrives and offers pranams to Mother Yashoda, who addresses her:

Verse 14

"Oh Kundalate! Once the sage Durvasa gave Radharani a benediction, ‘O Radhe! Let your cooking defeat the taste of nectar, and whoever partakes of it will be long-lived!' Ever since I heard about this wonderful boon, I call Radha to daily cook in our home."

Rasa-tarangini Tika:

Upananda is Nanda Maharaj's older brother, and he lives in the village named Sahara near Nandagram. His son Subhadra is older than Krishna, and Subhadra's wife is Kundalata. Thus Kundalata is Krishna's bau-di, i.e., his older cousin's wife. As Radha is the source of all the Vaikuntha Lakshmis, her cooking is matchless. Nevertheless, by Yogamaya's arrangement, Durvasa Muni's benediction preserves the nara lila feature of Krishna's pastimes. Under this pretext, Mother Yashoda secures Jatila's permission so that Radha can come to Nandagram to cook.

Verse 15

Yashoda continues: "Although Krishna hardly eats anything, the delicious flavor of Radha's cooking increases his appetite with vigor. Therefore, O Kundalata, on my behalf, please go to Radharani's shashuri and request that she allow Radha and her sakhis to come here."

Verse 16

Although Kundalata brings Radha daily to cook in Krishna's home, it appears to Mother Yashoda that today is the very first time she has come. This is not Yashoda's fault; rather, the extreme anuraga of Krishna prema causes the Vrajavasis to see every day as a totally new experience!

Cooking for Krishna I

Verse 37

Arriving before Mother Yashoda, Radharani offers pranams by placing her head at Yashoda's feet like a tender bhakti-lata. Mukunda's mother is unable to control her affection. She joyfully picks up Radha in her arms and warmly embraces her to her chest. Yashomati smells Radha's head and then she kisses Radha's face as her tears completely moisten Srimati's apparel!

Rasa-tarangini Tika:

Ma Yashoda loves Radhika like her own bauma. As her downpour of warm tears bathes Srimati's head like an auspicious abhishekha of vatsalya-prema, Radharani melts like butter smothered within Yashoda's breast! Choked up with tears, Radha exclaims in a faltering voice "Oh Ma—I'm yours!" Then Mother Yashoda blesses Radhika: "Hey Shashimukhi Rai! Let your life's duration increase a hundredfold so that your madhura darshan may satiate my mind and eyes indefinitely!" Observing Mother Yashoda's admiration for Swaminiji, the manjaris beam with pride as they too carefully offer their obeisances unto Nandarani's feet. Indeed, Sri Radhika Devi is most regal amongst her sakhis and manjaris-like a lovely Raja-kumari.

Verse 38

Ma Yashoda embraces Lalita, Vishakha and the other sakhis also, and inquires about Radha's welfare. Then in her anxiousness to start Krishna's cooking, Yashoda says,

Verse 39

"Oh children! You're expert in preparing all sorts of delicious dishes. And every Vrajavasi knows that you are amrita-hasta (blessed with the nectar touch). Surely my son's poor appetite will increase upon seeing your wonderful preparations; so let's not delay a moment more!"

Rasa-tarangini Tika:

Krishna-bhavanamrita tells that before the cooking starts, Mother Yashoda respectfully requests Radha to take a light refreshment of various sweets. Being shy, Srimati feigns disinterest. Seeing Radha's hesitation, Yashoda understands her mind and leaves, placing the responsibility of serving with Dhanishtha. During Radha's bhojan, Rupa Manjari and others fan with chamaras; and when Radha's bhojan is finished, they provide water for washing.

Verse 40

Yashoda Rani continues: "Oh daughters! Some of you can make salty preparations or tasty dishes adding yogurt. And some of you can make dishes cooked in ghee, or prepare sweets.

Verse 41

Oh putri (daughter) Radhe! You are an experienced rasavati (cook) in flavorful cooking. Mother Rohini has already gone to the kitchen. So you can join her to make all sorts of sabjis and sweet-rice. Oh Putri Rai!

Verse 42

Carefully prepare the soft, nectar-defeating tarts called karpura keli and amrita keli. When Krishna samples them, he becomes invigorated. But within the three worlds, only you know how to make such delicious pastries."

Rasa-tarangini Tika:

Chapter 19, shlokas 50-51 give the recipes for preparing these sweets.

  • Karpura keli —First yogurt is added to boiling milk to make curd. Then rice powder, yogurt, black pepper, sugar, ground coconut, jatiphala (a fragrant spice), cardamom, cloves and bananas are mixed into a paste. Next mung dahl is ground into powder, rolled in the above mentioned ingredients, and fried in ghee, adding honey and camphor.

  • Amrita keli—Ripe bananas, kalai-dahl powder, ground coconut and pepper are added to think milk. Then cardamom, cloves, jatiphala, cinnamon and camphor are added. These ingredients are fried in ghee and later fried in sugar water.

Although these are the directions, no one can prepare such recipes like Radha—for with her unique touch, they become divine.

Verse 43

"Oh Putri, Radhe! My Krishna is very fond of piyushgranti. So after making it, dump it within pancamrita, adding camphor, cardamom and other spices."

Rasa-tarangini Tika:

Piyushgranti is a type of jilepi; pancamrita is a mixture of yogurt, milk, ghee, honey and sugar.

Verse 44

"Oh child Lalite! You can prepare rasala, and Vishakha can make sarab. You prepare shikharini, and daughter Champakalata will make matha."

Rasa-tarangini Tika:

These are all various kinds of sharbat (refreshing beverages): Rasala is made from thick milk, yogurt, sugar, cardamom, ghee, honey and black pepper. Shikharini is eight parts yogurt, two parts sugar, one pal of ghee, one pal of honey, one half pal of ground black pepper, one tola of cinnamon, one tola of teja leaves, one tola of cardamom, and one tola of nageshwar. Sarab is made with two parts milk and one part thin yogurt with sugar, cardamom, ghee, honey and black pepper mixed with buttermilk. Matha is buttermilk.

Verse 45

"Hey putri Tungavidhye! You make the curd that will be used with many other preparations. And daughter Citre! You can prepare matsyandira (a sugar candy drink).

Verse 46

Hey Sudevi, prepare khira-sara (thick condensed milk). Hey Rangadevi! You can make pishthaka (using cream and sugar cane molasses). Oh Basanti! You can prepare mridupheni (soft white sugar candy). Oh Mangala! You can make jilepis."

Rasa-tarangini Tika:

This Mangala isn't the renowned Yutheshwari of this name, rather she is Radha's priya sakhi who serves under Indulekha.

Verse 47

"Hey kadambari! Prepare chandrakanti. Hey Lasike! You make tandula-curna-pindi. O kaumudi! You can make a variety of shaskuli. Oh Madalase! You prepare pishtaka that looks like the moon!"

Rasa-tarangini Tika:

Chandrakanti is a sesame seed cake. Tandula-curna-pindi are laddhus prepared with sugar, raisins and rice flower. Shaskuli are wafer-like rice cakes, and pishtaka are round rice cakes. Kaumudi is Radha's priya sakhi belonging to Champakalata's group, and Madalasa is a priya sakhi serving under Indulekha.

Verse 48

"Hey Shashimukhi! You can carefully make sweet dadhi-bataka. Hey Sumukhi! You prepare sharkarapatti. Oh Manimati! You prepare a variety of pishtaka.

Rasa-tarangini Tika:

Dadhi-bataka are sweet balls floating in yogurt. Sharkarapatti is sweet-rice made with date molasses. Pishtaka are rice-cakes cooked in ghee adding various kinds of flour and sweeteners in different sizes and shapes. Sumukhi is a priya sakhi who serves under Lalita.

Verse 49

"Oh child Kanchanavalli! Make laddus using thin strips of white flour that are fried in ghee. Hey Manorama! You can make manohara laddus. Hey Ratnamala! You can prepare mauktika laddus.

Verse 50

"Hey Madhavi! Using huskless fried sesame seeds, you prepare tila-kadamba. you can also add molasses to the sesame seeds and cut them into squares."

Rasa-tarangini Tika:

Madhavi is a priya sakhi who serves under Vishakha.

Verse 51

"Hey Bindhya! Make three types of sweet balls from flat-rice, puffed rice and mung dahl powder. First fry them in ghee, and then boil them in sugar water.

Verse 52

"Oh Rambha! Prepare karambha by mixing ripe bananas and sugar with yogurt and cornmeal in a golden bowl. Oh Manojna! Make fresh mango juice, adding sugar and thick milk.

Verse 53

"Hey Kilimba! This morning we milked the cow named Sugandha and churned the milk into butter. You can use this special butter to make ghee.

Verse 54

"Oh Ambika! Vraja Raja Nanda has personally milked Dhabali and sent her milk for Krishna and Balaram's consumption. Can you slightly stir this milk!"

Rasa-tarangini Tika:

Kilimba and Ambika are nurses who breast feed Krishna. Yet Ambika is Krishna's foremost nurse and Mother Yashoda's closest friend. Dhabali and Shabali are amongst Krishna's dearest cows.

Verse 55

"Oh daughters! Quickly go to the milk storehouse that is wiped with cow-dung. There you will find the sifting spoons, clay pots, wooden bowls and many cooking stoves.

Verse 56

"Hey Dhanishtha! You should go there and supervise to help collect all of those utensils from their respective storage areas.

Rasa-tarangini Tika:

Rambha, Manojna and Dhanishtha are Mother Yashoda's maidservants. Yet amongst all of the dasis at Nandalaya, Dhanishtha is the chief. She is also a priya sakhi grouped with Lalita's assistants.

Verse 57

"Hey Ranganmalika! Go with Tulasi to the storeroom and help the dasis bring everything needed for the cooking."

Rasa-tarangini Tika:

Ranganmalika (or Ranganmala) is another name for Sri Rupa Manjari.

Verse 58

"Hey Indumukhi! Gather amra for chutney, mangoes, pomegranates, teti (a small round fruit), kula (berries), pilu fruits and ginger, placing them in golden bowls. You can also bring tamarind, amala, mango, kula and other types of delicious acara (pickled items) which have been preserved in sugar, salt and oil.

Verse 59

"Oh daughters Shande, Shudhe, Bharani, Pibari and Mishtahasta! Quickly bring the best milk that the servants brought from the goshala. Place it on the oven and begin stirring it."

Today’s Cooking

Verse 84-86

Next Yashoda enters the kitchen and tells Balaram’s mother: “Oh Rohini Devi! Let me see what you and Radha have made today.”

To answer, Rohini repeatedly praises Radharani’s cooking skill. Then she escorts Yashoda to a large, purified vedi filled with numerous newly-cooked preparations that are kept in new earthen pots.

“Hey Sumukhi Yashoda! Radha is expert! Just look at the payasa (sweet-rice) she made that is cooling in this large clay pot it is bright and refreshing like the moon.”

Rasa-tarangini Tika:

Radha’s payasa is compared with the moon for its color and coolness. And the cooler payasa is, the better it tastes. So payasa is prepared before the other items and kept in a clay pot.

Verse 87

“Hey sakhi Yashoda! Look! I’ve made the nourishing, soft and delicious dish called samjaba and put it here in this clay pot.”

Rasa-tarangini Tika:

Samjaba is made from boiling milk, white flour, sugar and various flavorful spices.

Verse 88-109

“And look! Here are many varieties of shashkuli (rice cake) made from bananas, coconut and cream. You may see! Here are the tasty sweet known as piyushgranti, karpura keli and amrita keli all prepared by Radha; no one can make such sweets as these! Look! By churning moistened mung dahl and masa-dahl, four kinds of bataka (dumplings) were made; two types are salty, and two are sweet. Over here are twelve kinds of amla (chutney) made from tamarind, hog-plums, amarula and mangos. By using these four ingredients, three varieties of each were made—adding mung dahl dumplings, adding a little sugar, and adding a lot of sugar.

“Just see! Moca (the banana flower), mankocu and panikocu (roots that grow in the ground and in the water). gourds, pumpkin, potatos, along with darasha (lady fingers) were all cut into circular pieces and fried in ghee. Then everything was dumped in a sweet sauce made from mung dahl paste.”

“Have a look at these wonderful dumpling!” says Rohini. “Some are made only from chickpea flour and fried in ghee, and the rest are filled with moistened whey and amla. Here are cakes made by boiling chickpea flour, mashing it, and then frying it in ghee with ground coconut and spices some are soft and others are hard. Many preparations are made from fruits and vegetables using various spices like jayaphala, cinnamon, teja leaves, gurutvak and rasabasa etc.”

“Oh sakhi! Oh auspicious Yashoda! Radha made the dish called rayata with yogurt, squash, pumpkin, jyotanika and rajika seeds. And look! Here are Krishna’s favorite baka flowers and kanchan flowers simply fried in ghee and mixed with yogurt. Over here, two types of flowers were fried in ghee and made into dumplings, adding yogurt and here are patola fruits fried in ghee. These are squash pies made with arum roots, sagara roots and potatos. Some are mixed with juta leaf powder or cabika (a hot spice).

“Radha has made mouth-watering dugdha-tumbi (milk and squash) adding sugar, cardamom and black pepper. Then using khira (instead of milk), she made khira-tumbi also. Here is another dish made with large turnips cooked in ghee with dhatriphala seasoning, yogurt and sugar. And using kad-bael fruits, another variety was prepared. We cooked banana flowers and large squash, adding yogurt and sugar. This cooling dish has a sweet and sour taste.

“Just see the different kinds of saka (spinach) that Radha prepared. Here is nabita shaka, methi shaka, satpuppi shaka, mishi shaka, potola shaka, bastuka shaka, bitunna shaka and marisa shaka—their taste all defeat the pride of nectar. Ripe tamarind rasa and unripe mangoes were added to kalmi-shaka and dark nalita-shaka to make a delicious sour shaka preparation.”

Rohini continued: “Oh sakhi Yashoda! Today I made three types of dahl with mukustaka, mugda, and masa that are like a nectar well. Because the dasis thoroughly ground the wheat flour and the white flour together, I was able to make these light capatis that are round as the moon. I’ve washed the rice, bound it in a cloth, and placed a full pot of water over the fire. When I see Krishna returning from the goshala, I’ll start to boil it. Oh Yashoda! You can relax—all of the preparations came out wonderful!”

Verse 110

As Yashomati glances over all of the fragrant, nicely-colored and mind-enchanting dishes, she becomes overjoyed! Thus she inquires: “Oh Rohini! How did you make such a marvelous feast?”

Verse 111

Rohini, being amazed herself, replies, “Although the ingredients are ordinary, the divine flavor and sumptuous quality of this cooking has reached the highest excellence simply by Radhika’s unique skill!”

Verse 112

Yashoda observes, “As Radha prepares the rice, lowering her head in shyness from hearing her own glories, she is covered in perspiration from the stove’s heat.” Thus Mother Yashoda melts with affection and orders a dasi to fan Radha.

Rasa-tarangini Tika:

After Radha finishes the cooking, she sits down to rest a bit. Then a manjari removes her cooking apron and uses a soft wet cloth to wipe away Swaminiji’s perspiration. Radha’s dasis ardently fan her with palm leaves. Then Dhanishtha brings a cool sharbat drink, and says, “O priya sakhi, take this to refresh yourself.” As Radharani sips the sharbat, her eyes close in meditation of Shyamasundar. Then a dasi offers pan.

Verse 113

Next Vrajeshwari goes to the milk storeroom and is delighted to see many types of other edibles prepared by her maidservants. So becoming more anxious than ever, she goes to the front gate to personally call Krishna.


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