Mukta Caritram

BY: SUN STAFF

Kakhuba Ragini
Mughal, Lucknow. Late 18th c.


Oct 13, CANADA (SUN) —


Mukta Caritram: the History of the Pearl

by Srila Raghunath das Goswami

Namah Sri Sri Gandharvva Giridharabhyam

He Who is more attractive than tens of millions of Cupids, Whose bodily lustre resembles that of a blue lotus in full bloom and Whose pastimes have completely enchanted the world of animate and inanimate beings, to He Who is the son of the Chief of the cowherds (Gopendra Nandan), to Sri Govinda I offer my respectful salutations.

I adore the Divine Couple Sri Sri RadhaMadhab, Who have become immersed in an ocean of playful pastimes through the buying and selling of pearls, each of Them mutually desirous of victory, in the matter of disputatious wrangling over the said merchandise.

I take shelter of the Full Moon, Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, Who has risen in the sky of Sri Sacimata's womb, with the intention of bestowing the nectar of His own pure devotion upon the citizens of the world.

Aho! By the most celebrated mercy of he from whom I have attained the hope of some service to the best of all names within the orb of this earth, Sri HariNam Mahamantra, to Sri SaciNandan Mahaprabhu, to Swarup, Rupa, Sanatan and to the extensive dominions of Mathurapuri with all of its pasturing grounds ahnd residences, to Sri RadhaKund, to the chief of all mountains, Sri Gobardhan, and to the lotus feet of Sri RadhaMadhab, to Sri Gurudeb I bow my head again and again.

For the purpose of increasing the rapturous delight of those divine persons, the celebrated devotees of the Lord, who are conversant with the science of the mellows of devotion, I will now churn the ocean known as Sri Brindaban, that the waves of nectar produced therefrom, namely the wonderful character and qualities of Sri Hari, may expand, thus causing the devotees to drown therein.

Sri Satyabhama Debi, after hearing briefly that Sri Krsna had created in Brindaban, a creeper which produced pearls, submissively inquired from Him, expressing her desire to hear in full about this wonderful event, "Nath! (My Lord!) The pearls set in my bracelets were produced originally as the fruits of a creeper?! What sanctified country is it that produces such fascinating creepers?"

Satyabhama's question awoke within the mind of Sri Krsna remembrance of that wonderful pastime, which in turn caused Him to feel very afflicted in His heart. Externally however He smiled as He began His reply, "Priye! (Dearest one!) The time when pearls were produced from creepers has long passed. At present all pearls come from oysters."

Satyabhama listened carefully to this reply which only increased her intense eagerness to hear more, thus she requested Him again and again to narrate more about these wonderful events. Krsna replied,

"In Gokul, one day during the month of Kartik, the Dipamalika festival was going on at Sri Gobardhan. [During this celebration, rows and rows of little lamps, appearing like garlands of twinkling stars, are placed all around.] At that time the residents of Gokul were carefully preparing all kinds of decorations and ornaments which were just suitable for celebrating that festival and making it a grand success. The cowherd men had adorned themselves with various ornaments and were especially engaged in decorating the cows, buffaloes and other animals. The cowherd women and girls were all decorating their houses with the appropriate articles and cleaning various ornaments, preparing them to decorate their own delicate bodies. Amongst them, the daughter of Brishabhanu, Sri Radhika, was seated within a courtyard constructed from Madhabi creepers, on the banks of the lake known as Malya-Haron (lit.- stolen garlands), where in the company of her sakhis she was preparing to make various ornaments from a collection of most exquisite pearls.

Coming to know of these events from the tidings of a young parrot who is very aptly named, Vicakkan (lit.- clever, experienced), I immediately proceeded to that place in eager curiosity. Upon arriving there I submitted before Radha and Her friends, with great solicitude, my petition for a collection of pearls with which I might decorate the receptacles of my fondest love, my two cows celebrated with the names, Hungsi and Harini.

Hearing my request, they barely glanced at me and that with seeming indifference, with their lovely eyes, half-open and partially concealed by the ends of their saris, yet still exceeding the beauty of a blue lotus, and possessed of a humour or wisdom which can only be compared with the nectar of flowers. Maintaining their silence they continued to expand the beauty of those necklaces that they were constructing with great skill and expertise, while at the same time discreetly exhibiting priceless diamonds and other gems on the ground stained red with lac dye, as though they were trying to decide which jewel to add next, but factually only that I might appreciate their fabulous collection. At this point I laughed and addressed them once again, "He Sakhigon! Because you have all recently attained the priceless touchstone of adolescent beauty, is this pride of yours, which is now so magnified that it resembles a very tall mountain, somehow blocking your ears? Please heed for a moment the matter which I am presenting before you, which is amiable to you all."

This time my words caused ripples of laughter to spread amongst them as they each glanced at one another. Finally the intrepid and impertinent Lalita accosted Me with angry words, coming from one as though offended, but which nevertheless emanated from her smiling face, "Ohe Nagar! (Oh our Great Gallant!) These extremely costly pearls which are fit to be worn by the king's queens are now deemed as being just suitable for your cows and she buffaloes!? Oh really! Aha! (I know!) Why shouldn't we just give you all the pearls so that you can decorate Your cows?!"

After hearing these deceitful and hypocritical words of Lalita I became absorbed in their playful, joyful mood and continued to address them with pleasant words, "He Priyabhusanagon! (You are yourselves all very attractive ornaments!) You don't have to give me all of the pearls, but at least you should give me some of them, which factually are just perfect for decorating the four horns of these two most favourite cows of mine."

Then Lalita, after patiently hearing my words, took the pearls of all the sakhis and while showing them to me with a big smile on her face, moved them around and around saying, "He Krsna! Aha! (Alas!) What shall I do!? There is not even one pearl here fit for your cows."

I replied, "Ayi Paramcature Lalite! (Oh most clever Lalite!) Just forget it! Henceforward you will never be able to call Me a miser."

After reproaching them in this and various other ways I immediately came to My mother and told her, "Janani (Mother)! Please give me some pearls. I want to plant them in the field." I requested her again and again in this way and finally, after listening to my eager requests, Mother laughed loudly and replied, "Batsa! (My darling!) Pearls will never sprout if you plant them."

I said, "Janani! You must give me some pearls. Within three days they will definitely sprout. This you will be able to see with your own eyes."

Seeing my intense eagerness, Mother couldn't refuse me, and so gave me a collection of many of her pearls. Binding these in a cloth I immediately proceeded to the banks of the Jamuna (in Gokul), just near Jolharon Ghat (lit.- where water is collected, or a collection of water), where I now began to prepare the soil in three separate plots. While I was busily engaged in seeding my freshly prepared beds with pearls, some gopis happened to pass that way and made their presence known by their loud laughter. This I nevertheless managed to completely ignore.

Having sown all of those pearls in the ground I covered them over with fresh earth and then constructed a very dense and strong fence around the field with thorn bushes.

Hereafter, I devised a plan whereby the gopis would be induced to come to me to beg for pearls. I sent some of my friends to them to request some milk for the purpose of watering my pearl plants. Of course they only laughed very loudly as they replied, "Our milk is not suitable for such a noble purpose. Rather, you should use the milk of those cows for whom you are going to such great lengths to procure a quantity pearls. Even if you do get pearls in this way, we will never come to crave those fruits from you." {Though they spoke in this way, still they were all now fully aware of what I was doing.}

Accepting their advice, we then proceeded to water those plants with abundant milk from our own house, on a daily basis, all so that they might see that we were doing so.

On the fourth day all of those pearls began to sprout. Seeing this I was extremely delighted and ran to tell Mother. Catching hold of her sari I brought her there and showed her the new sprouts. She was quite surprised and simply exclaimed, "What is this?!" Considering the whole matter within her mind, she returned to Braja, full of suspicion.

However when the gopis received this news, they simply laughed among themselves, saying that, "Ferocious creepers of envy were sprouting." [i.e. sticker bushes]

Almost at once those pearl creepers took on an appearance similar to that of hemp plants. Seeing that they were growing very quickly and spreading out quite luxuriantly, I made them to take shelter of the Kadamba trees nearby that they might climb up on them.

In the space of only a few days, a heavenly scent which drove the bees mad began to emanate from the flowers that had now bloomed, thus pervading the whole of Gokul with their fragrant perfume and bestowing upon the gopis an inexpressible joy. All of those pearl fruits assumed such an uncommon beauty, more so in fact than the eight kinds of original pearls from which they derived their existence. [pearls from oysters, conch shells, wild boars' heads, elephants' heads, king cobras' heads, bamboo stems, clouds and fish heads]. Seeing that all of these creepers had produced pearls, the Brajbasis were amazed, specifically the gopis were especially dumbfounded with astonishment. They now came every day to see these wonderful plants, allured there by their own covetousness.

They then began to consult amongst one another, "He sakhigon! It is now a well known fact amongst us that Krsna will never give us any of his pearls, because previously when he requested from us both pearls and milk, we refused to comply. Therefore why should he now give us his pearl fruits. But what does it matter? It's not that we didn't witness the procedure for growing pearls. In fact we have seen exactly how it is done. Therefore, giving up our lack of courage, why shouldn't we begin a pearl field which is at least twice the size of Krsna's?"

Hearing this, the supremely intelligent Lalita addressed the sakhis, "He vayurogagrasta gopigon! (My dear friends, who are now overwhelmed by insanity!) These sorts of miraculous activities such as picking up Sri Gobardhan and producing pearls from the earth, marvellous deeds which are difficult even for demigods to perform, are nevertheless accomplished without effort by Krsna. No doubt he has received from some great sage, special mantras and medicines which have enabled him to execute these wonderful activities. This has already been ascertained by the residents of Braj (Brajbasigon).

Otherwise how is it possible that this cowherd boy Krsna, born from the lotus pond of the womb of the wife of Brajraj Nanda, exactly resembling in fact a soft and delicate blue lotus, and acquainted only in the ways and means of the cowherds, could perform such uncommon activities as though he had a natural ability for doing so? Even though you are aware of all these things, still you are desirous of persuading yourselves to undertake this work, though none of you possess any such mantras or magic potions. This resolution of yours will in the end most certainly amount to nothing more than the cause of your falling into the ocean of embarrassment and ridicule. This also you must certainly be aware of."

Now Tungavidya spoke up, "We can also receive a mantra possessing esoteric powers, from Nandimukhi, the most accomplished disciple at the lotus feet of Sri Bhagavati Paurnamasi. So why shouldn't we enthusiastically persevere in this matter?"

Deciding that Tungavidya's was the best counsel, they all approached Nandimukhi and humbly submitted their intentions.

After hearing all about the aforementioned topics, Nandimukhi exclaimed to herself, "Aye! Just to make the vision of our two eyes successful, this opportunity, eternally desired by us, namely the wonder of sportive play in the matter of trade and commerce, has appeared before us like the seed of a desire tree. Today great fortune is certainly soon to follow. Hence, I will now introduce such convincing and excellent arguments to these gopis, the crown jewels amongst clever girls, that this desire tree quickly sprouts and bears fruit."

After deliberating about the matter in this way, Nandimukhi addressed those gopis with a cheerful mind, "He sakhigon! You should know it to be the truth that these pearls have been produced from the earth, not by the power of any mantras uttered by Mukunda."

The sakhis replied, "He Nandimukhi! The only source of the origin of pearls is oysters. How is it possible that without oysters, pearls can be begotten by the earth?"

Nandimukhi replied, "Sakhigon! Please don't think that anything is impossible as regards this matter, because it is all due to the natural influence of this soil. The transcendental earth of these forest lands of Braja has produced many variegated types of jewels. All this has been taught to me by Sri Bhagavati Paurnamasi herself, on many different occasions. Not only that, but I also have genuine experience of it myself. In Brindaban, golden trees have grown and are growing, visible before our eyes, with new twigs made of coral, fresh green emerald leaves, buds of diamonds and pearls, and fruits made of rubies. Therefore if pearls are planted in these fields of Brajbhumi and are seen to produce creepers which bear pearl fruits, then what is so strange or wonderful about that?!

Therefore you should also similarly engage in the cultivation of pearls, but carefully water your plants with fresh, fragrant butter. In this way you will get fruits which are superior, even to those of Sri KrsnaCandra."

In this way, these gopi maidens of Braj drank the sweetness of Nandimukhi's words. With happy hearts and great praise, they completely believed everything she said. After they had all embraced her, they returned, each to their respective homes.

Arriving there, they set about their work with a spirit of great audacity, and as a challenge for gaining victory over me, paid their servants twice or thrice the normal salary [paid in the form of milk], to go out and prepare the fields for their newly discovered agricultural enterprise. Pearls that were piled up in wicker baskets waiting to be strung and those that had already been strung into necklaces were all brought for this purpose, setting only a few of the very best ones aside. They even removed all of the pearls from the ornaments which were at present decorating their graceful bodies. These were, each and every one of them, now planted within the ground and carefully watered every day, morning, noon and evening with milk, butter and the most fragrant ghee.

Thereafter, when Candrabali and all the other gopis of Braja heard that Radha and her friends had taken up the cultivation of pearls, they also, being moved by intense jealousy and a covetous nature, prepared fields more extensive than any of those prepared so far, and planted each and every pearl which could be found in their houses and on their bodies, without setting even one aside for any other purpose.

Within a few days, when they saw that little plants had begun to sprout in their fields, [not realising them at first to be sticker bushes], they became very proud and began to ridicule my friends, taunting them in various ways.

One day, the cowherd men, seeing that there were very few milk products at the dinner table, became suspicious. Then they noticed that their homes were devoid of their store of pearls. In a very angry mood they inquired after an explanation for this.

When they had heard the mysterious reason behind it all, the elderly ladies of the house addressed them, "He ayusman gopagon! (Oh ye long-lived cowherd men!) This is nothing to chastise anyone about. True, these girls have been watering their pearl fields with an abundant supply of milk and ghee but very soon they will get a great profit in return. We have seen that Sri Krsna's fields have already begun to produce pearls which are rarely obtained even by great kings and queens."

One day Visakha debi, after carefully observing the plants that were sprouting in her own field, secretly whispered into the ears of some of her sakhi friends, "He sakhigon! The young plants in our fields do not appear the same as the ones that I have seen in Krsna's pearl fields. I don't know what will be the outcome of all of this. Now we have to make sure that Krsna's friends don't notice this. Therefore we should now adopt the pretence of constructing a very nice fence to protect our plants, but in reality, the purpose of this enclosure will be to prevent Krsna's friends from seeing inside."

It didn't take many more days however before the plants in Radharani's and her friends' fields, as well as the ones in all of the other gopis' fields, clearly exhibited the symptoms of being thorny creepers. The news spread throughout the length and breadth of Gokul, that, "The gopis' fields have produced only sticker bushes!"

Coming to know of this myself, I sent some of my friends to the meeting place of the gopis (Gandharbagosthi), and through them conveyed my congratulations, by way of a few slightly sarcastic remarks, "I heard that your fields have produced many wonderful pearls by now, so, since I am the dearly beloved of all of you, I hope that you will send with my friends, as a presentation to me, the first pearls produced from your gardens."

To this they replied by saying, "If we would have engaged in agricultural activities, then even the pasturing grounds would have become completely saturated with pearls. What makes you think that others are prepared to give up their traditional duty of cow protection to adopt some lower profession, just because your friend (Krsna) has done so?"

Thereafter, I began to decorate all of my friends, the cows and calves, the she buffaloes who pull the carts, the sheep along with their lambs, the female goats and their kids, and the (female) monkeys who cavort all over Brindaban, with pearl garlands and ornaments.

Seeing this, the gopis now felt ashamed in the absence of their own ornaments. Fearful of a severe reprimand from the cowherd men, due to the fact that they were responsible for a great loss of wealth from their own homes, they now held counsel together, "In this situation, what should we do now?! He sakhigon! This clever Nandimukhi, being partial to Krsna, has collaborated with him to unjustly deceive us."

All of them in a hot temper, they now arrived at Nandimukhi's and after describing everything that had happened they rebuked her without cessation.

Nandimukhi replied, "He sakhigon! On the strength of whatever austerities I have performed I am prepared to declare under oath that I have not deceived you in any way! Rather, all of you have spoiled everything."

The gopis retaliated, "He Kapatini! (Oh fraudulent friend!) How is it that we have ruined everything?"

Nandimukhi replied, "Becoming overly haughty and pretentious, you made such a din and bustle, just like a big spinning-wheel (which makes a rat-a-tat-tat sound), that Krsna and his friends were directly aware of everything you were doing. They knew that you had planted all of your pearls in the fields, yet, on top of that, none of you left anyone to guard those fields."

The gopis all chimed in together, "So what!"

Nandimukhi fired back, "He caturabhimaninigon! (Oh you who are so conceited by your cleverness!) I will explain to you exactly what happened! Listen carefully-

With the motive in mind of soundly defeating you, the spiritual master of all cunning knaves, your paramour, the great gallant, Sri Krsna, very expertly enticed someone with bowls and bowls of sweet rice, namely his greedy friend, the buffoon Madhumangal, to zealously uproot all of your pearl plants, which had just begun to sprout, and replace them with thorny creepers. The pearls thus obtained from your gardens, were then planted in his own fields. In this way, the entire multitude of pearl plants from all of the various gopis' gardens, were uprooted and thrown into the deep waters of the Kalindi (Jamuna). I have come to know all of this, as the sure and doubtless truth."

The gopis now retorted, "Ayi Mahanandi! Oh you who are faultless in your only business of expanding the dramatic impact of our pastimes, by your own expertise in play-acting, introducing as you always do the element of crooked and double dealings. Oh you who are the fellow class-mate of Madhumangal, almost fit in fact to be his guru. Ayi! You who are a worthy partner of that deceitful dancer who is famous throughout Braja (i.e. Krsna). He tat priyatame nati. (The darling dancer of His troupe!) Oh you famous female ascetic of kali-jug. Let it be. Let it be."

Many such arrows were fired as if from their arched eyebrows, but finally they subsided and the gopis returned home to consult further on the matter. From amongst them Sri Radha spoke up,

"He sakhigon! Perhaps it was Nandimukhi who beguiled us or perhaps it was the crest jewel of the shrewdest of slick operators. We are at present sorely afflicted by the misery of this moment but what will we gain by all this commiseration and consultation. Right now our greatest distress is the persecution we face from our superiors. But if we can somehow or other show them those pearls, that were feared to be lost for good, then only will that fear be relaxed. Pearls are however especially rare here in Gokul, therefore the only matter at hand is to consider how me might obtain those pearls from Krsna once again, at whatever the price."

After some more deliberation it was decided that Candramukhi, who was very cunning by nature, should take a sufficient amount of gold and go to Krsna to bring back the pearls.

Candramukhi submitted, "I will not be able to go there alone, since we have just finished rebuking him with such harsh words. Kancanlata should come with me."

Thus it happened, with all of the gopis' approval, that Candramukhi and Kancanlata arrived at a garden house within the pearl gardens, with an abundant quantity of gold.

They addressed the proprietor of that garden house, Subal, who was seated there next to me, "He Subal! We have heard from reliable sources that you are desirous of selling your new pearl crop. Therefore please accept all of this gold, which is of the purest quality, and give us in return its proper value by presenting us with a choice selection of your pearls."

To this I smilingly replied, "Ohe Sakhigon! With great submission, I humbly entreated you that you might give me a few pearls, but you wouldn't even give us one. Then I requested you for some milk to water our fields but that was also denied. Before we will sell you any pearls we will throw them all into the waters of the Kalindi. Even if you present us with everything in all of your houses, and the houses themselves, we will never give you even one pearl of inferior value."

Kancanlata spoke up, "If it were not for fear of their husbands and elders that the gopis have to live with every day now, would any girl have otherwise tolerated these ugly and mean words. Anyway, what to do? Many different jewels are available in Mathura but at present that is very far away. Therefore, 'He Subal!' You please be the middle-man in this affair. We are prepared to pay even more than the going rate." These were the words I was waiting to hear and so I smilingly replied, "Well, after all is said and done, I am of course very soft-hearted by nature, so I won't be able to remain as relentless as all of you are. If I don't let you have them then what shall I do with so many pearls? But who will determine the price? All of you?"

Candramukhi and Kancanlata replied, "Yes, this will be done by us."

So I told them, "Then we might hear a detailed account of that amount just now."

Candramukhi smiled and looked at Kancanlata, but Kancanlata shyly addressed Subal, "He sakhe Subal! You should accept the responsibility of arbitrating in this affair, by making a judicious and sensible solution which will be the cause of your good name and reputation." Subal told Me, "Bayasya! (Comrade! Buddy!) Has Kancanlata ascertained the value to be so high just as a matter of joking? Why don't you simply say yourself, in clear terms, the price that you desire?"

I replied, "Sakhe Subal! I can very easily understand Candramukhi's intentions. Imagining Kancanlata to be a priceless object, she has been sent here by Radha, to be given to me. But these pearl fruits are worth much more than heaps and heaps of Kancan (lit.- gold). This fact is quite well known in the world, so how is it that this one Kancanlata is expected to be sufficient payment for this great collection of pearls? Now in this instance Candramukhi might say that the two fruits on her (Kancanlata's) chest are actually golden caskets containing many priceless touchstones. However, even if that be true, that would still not be a fair price because only one of my pearl fruits is worth hundreds of thousands of billions more than even the Kaustubha mani worn by the Lord of Vaikuntha around His neck."

Kancanlata's eyebrows now contracted into a very threatening scowl as she fixed her eyes on me while fuming in anger, "Aye! You dolt! Candramukhi! I told you then that I would not go near Krsna. Still, with great persistence you managed to bring me here anyway, simply to be harassed. You can bring the pearls! I'm leaving this place right now!"

Candramukhi, "Sakhi Kancanlate! You're perfectly right. But how will I fix the price by myself? How will I remain in this secluded place? If we decide in a group then they can simultaneously decide to accept or reject our offer. If you're going, then so am I!"

When I saw them about to leave I told Subal, "Sakhe Subal! Didn't I tell you that the price could never be fixed by them?"

Now Subal went near them and said, "Sakhi Candramukhi! I see that my friend is very eager in the matter of pricing these commodities. Therefore if priyasakhi Radha, Lalita and the others come here themselves to represent the appropriate value, then I see no reason why they shouldn't be able to retrieve all of the pearl fruits that they long for. In this matter I will assist as a mediator."

After hearing his counsel, Candramukhi and Kancanlata returned to Sri Radha and the other gopis and, while still boiling in anger, narrated before them the preceding incidents.

Radha, Lalita and the others arrived outside the pearl garden house while Candramukhi went to call Subal, "Our dear friend Subal! You are naturally very affectionate towards us! Therefore, in order that we can obtain these pearl fruits by submitting the proper value, you please now prescribe to us what that might be."

Subal came and informed me of all the recent news and then, according to my instructions, brought Lalita and the other gopis before me. At first Radha spoke up, "Subal! Didn't you even inform your bosom buddy, the personification of tyranny and oppression, that I have arrived here?!" So saying, She secretly entered into a Kadamba kunj nearby and sat down to listen to the proceedings.

I then began to look amongst Lalita and the other gopis, but unable to find Radha I exclaimed, "Why am I not seeing Radha?!"

To this Tungavidya replied, "He Gokul Juvaraj! (Oh prince of Gokul!) The respectable lady, Jatila, has affectionately kept Radha at home today, for the purpose of executing some specific household duties."

Madhumangal now entered and intimated to me through signs and gestures, that, "Sri Radha is secretly staying somewhere here nearby." Smiling slightly I asked Tungavidya, "Ayi Tungavidya! Is Radha no longer interested in obtaining those pearls?"

To this Tungavidya replied, "No it isn't that. Not at all. We have come to pay the price for her also."

So I told her, "Visakha is Radha and Radha is Visakha. Therefore Visakha can pay for her. This is what I am thinking. Anyway, I'm not terribly concerned about Radha at the present moment. All of my sakhas have firmly decided that those amongst you who do not personally come here will have to pay four times the price and will get ordinary pearls only."

Now I addressed my friend, "Sakhe Subal! Bring the casket full of pearls here and spread all of those fruits out on the ground. Collect all of the smallest ones, and, casting aside all miserliness, present them to Visakha for Radha. Then collect from her the fair price. If she is unable to pay that much hard currency, then take her, by hook or by crook, she who is non-different from Radha, to the jail (Madhabi kunj) next to the one where we keep those cowherd girls who are caught stealing flowers."

Madhumangal spoke up, "Dear Friend! In spite of restraint, these beautiful girls (par-rama: girls outside of one's family) are all practised in the science of escape."

I replied, "Bayasya (Pal)! I am well aware of that, but there is nothing to worry about. Though touching or coming into contact with beautiful girls even in dreams, and having thus abandoned modesty, is, for persons like ourselves, completely unworthy, still.

'A wise man is prepared to do even something which could be blameable, yet he is always careful to perform his duty.' or, 'In matters of law (byabahar) and eating (ahar), the injunction is that one give up shyness.' In light of these statements from the Sunghitas, I am prepared to stay up the whole night guarding her."

Subal laughed, "Sakhe Purusottam! For how many days will priyasakhi Visakha have to remain in this greatly apprehensive situation?"

I replied, "For as many days as that person on Whose account Visakha is being incarcerated, namely Radha, does not remit the total amount. Or, if She is feeling sorry for Visakha, She can come here Herself with a partial payment and take Visakha's place while Visakha goes to bring full payment."

Madhumangal, "Sakhe! The Empress of all of these gopis, namely Radha, is more expert than all of them at everything, especially in the matter of fleeing away. We have noticed this many times at the toll station where we collect customs duty in the form of milk and yoghurt. Not only that, but you are often seen to be quite sleepy due to fatigue after a hard day's work in the pastures."

At this remark I smiled and took him aside, "Sakhe! There is no point in your entertaining these fruitless anxieties. I won't feel sleepy with Her. If perchance I should, then I will appropriate the lotus stem of her left arm as my pillow, while placing my tender left hand, as pink as the eastern sky in the morning, upon the exquisite, yellow silk bed sheet, situated like the moon upon the delicate chest of that Radha, and thus pass the time discussing the price of pearls, so that in the happiness of those wakeful hours, the fourth yam (prahar- 3 hours) of night can end on a favourable note. Otherwise, placing her within the dark, impervious jail cell of my chest, I will shackle her in very firmly with my two arms, like hardened emerald bolts, and thus very happily and without apprehension, drift off into the world of dreams."



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