The Glorious Month of Damodar

BY: SUN STAFF


Nov 14, 2012 — CANADA (SUN) —

Mukta Caritram (History of the Pearl)

A drama taking placing in the month of Kartika, by Srila Raghunath das Goswami, in three parts.


PART TWO

Having heard this synopsis of the situation, I replied, like one whose mind is fully prostrated, "Nandimukhi! Please hear me. She who possesses such fine intelligence, never before seen or heard of; whose wit and humour are so fascinating that they completely captivate the mind; Who is the personified form, the first acarja of the Veda dealing with the whole diversity of mirthful sports (cutting jokes); the personified Form of the treasure chest of the rarest jewels in the shape of the most auspicious qualities;

Whose sweetly scented speech, like condensed cream of the most fragrant ambrosia, is the life subsistence of Her attendants; Whose exceedingly good fortune is paid homage to by the most fortunate damsels of the heavenly regions, headed by Saci, the wife of Indra; the radiant loveliness of the tips of Whose nails is continually searched out by Indira (Laxmi) and the other fawn-eyed nymphs of fair complexion, as the emblem or source of all beauty; Whose lotus feet are worshipped by hundreds and thousands of Laxmis, the Goddesses of innumerable universes, who are themselves worshipped by all the demigods, men, Gandharvas, Vidyadharas and munis; Whose abhishek (coronary bath) is performed on a jewelled singhasan (lion throne) at Mahajogpith, within the forest of Brindaban, the expanse of which completely dwarfs the whole of all the Vaikuntha planets and the spiritual sky itself; the two syllables of whose name, Radha, produced from the churning of an ocean of nectar, are actually the condensed form of the cream of that ambrosia, which was produced in two pots, [the churning of the milk ocean produced only one pot of nectar], and it is the transformation of that ambrosia [in the form of the name Radha] which felicitates and gratifies the fourteen worlds.

The feet of this most renowned Debi, continually perfumed with the sweetest fragrance, infinitely, boundlessly beautiful and incomparably soft, put to shame, by their dawn-like, pinkish colour, the combined elegance of the total aggregate of all red lotus flowers. The service of feet such as these is life itself. But this Radha is not openly and unhesitatingly calling to me, who am expert in all of these branches of service, to bestow upon me this service which I so much long for. Therefore, She doesn't love me. Having determined this, I shall now seek out the aptly named Tungavidya (Tunga- lofty, elevated; vidya- learning, education), who, I have heard from Bhagavati Paurnamasi, is the self-same form as Radha, and request her to immediately initiate me as her disciple, that by this process I might achieve my most cherished object of desire. I will request her to initiate me with the mantra of Mahadebi (Radha). I take shelter of you, the matchless disciple of Bhagavati, that this endeavour may be successful."

Nandimukhi laughed, "He Sulakkon! (Oh you who are endowed with auspicious bodily signs!) In that case, you have to do that which has been ascertained by those conversant with scripture, to be the first duty of an aspiring disciple. You must serve the guru."

I replied, "Very good. But it is also appropriate that the prospective guru and sisya first examine one another. Then, for three nights, in some secluded kunj, let Tungavidya attain her fame by showing her prowess in learning before me. This should be accomplished by coming before me, sometimes as a male, and sometimes as a female. Thereupon I, having naturally become a great believer in her, will very reverently and with the utmost regard, decorate her feet with javak, (a red coloured substance), massage her hips, scratch the itch on her bosom, braid her hair and in this way worship her, rendering whatever other services she may desire, which may even make all the aforementioned services seem very negligible and paltry indeed. If I am able to do all of this, then she will no doubt be very satisfied with me and say, "You have given me the utmost pleasure by your willing, service attitude." Having said this and other similarly sweet things to me, she will then, feeling great delight within her mind, establish me on the dais which is within the kunj, and say, "He Bicakkon! (Oh wise and experienced one!) With your two hands, you should first smear these two golden, auspicious water pots (mangal ghat- auspicious water pots used in ceremonial functions) on my chest with musk and kunkum, and then garland them with necklaces and flower garlands." After having established the two auspicious pots according to the proper formulas, by these instructions and various other mantras, she will then bless me with the mahaprasad from her bosom, by anointing my forehead and other limbs with kunkum tilok. Then with musk, she will write on my chest the syllables of the mantra of Mahadebi, mark my arms with the symbols of Her lotus feet and other auspicious impressions, and then after removing her own one-stringed necklace and placing it around my neck, she will perform anga-nyas on my two breasts, my two shoulders, my two arms and my mouth, with her lips. Thereafter, since I am completely ignorant of all the various parts of the agamas (esoteric scriptures), Tungavidya, who is an agamacarja, will bestow upon me these various ingredients at the proper time and place. After these indispensable antecedents have been completed, she will then continue the preparatory rituals by investing the sixteen syllable mantra with the self-born rishi, the gayatri metre, the presiding Deity Sri Gandharva and the Divine energy of the first mystic syllable with its dot, that the desired perfection may be obtained, namely, the generation of amorous union between the worshipful object and the worshipper."

"Her very being overflowing with exultation, by the banks of Her own kund, in a clearing within the kunj, She is dancing in such an amusing fashion, exhibiting such an abundance of gestures and postures, just to bring delight to her sakhis who are assembled there to watch Her."

"She is very fair and is wearing red-coloured garments, Her face is lit up with a slight smile, Her eyes are extremely beautiful, in fact She is the most exquisite and delectable feast for the eyes. I take shelter of Sri Radhika, my worshipful Deity, who is the most cherished and most devoted worshipper of Shyama-Shyam.

Please cause me, to meditate on my tutelary Deity in this way, for a very long time, by kindly bestowing upon me, who am kami, the king of all mantras, joined at the beginning and at the end with the Kambeej. Make my life a success, by initiating me with this mantra.

Her body, the veritable form of Mahabhab, conceived by the most resplendent cintamani gem and anointed with the love and intimate friendship of her sakhis, shines with an inconceivable lustrous splendour.

She bathes in the morning in waves of the nectar of compassion, at noon in a nectar shower of youthfulness and in the evening in a flood of the nectar of charming loveliness. The Goddess of Fortune, Lakkidebi, languours in lassitude by the side of Her blazing effulgence.

Her graceful form is covered by the silken garment of shyness, decorated with the kunkum of graceful beauty, and dappled with the black musk of erotic sentiments for Shyam. She puts on her natural ornaments, fashioned from the best nine jewels: shivering, tears in the eyes, horripilation (standing up of the bodily hairs), becoming stunned, perspiration, faltering of the voice, blushing, madness and inertness.

She is garlanded with flowers of wonderful qualities, such as Her sweet-tongued speech. Her garments are cleansed and purified with the camphor of Her sometimes sober and sometimes restless moods, brought about by ecstatic emotions.

Her imperceptible and incomprehensible man (amour-propre; pique; feigned resentment out of love) is restrained, confined and concealed within the coils of Her hair. Her brilliant tilok is the emblem of Her immense good fortune. Hearing Krsna's name and qualities are the ornaments swinging in splendour and jubilation from Her ears.

The reddish colour of Her lips is produced from the tambul (pan) of Her great attachment for Krsna. The black ointment of Her eyes (kajjol), is the crookedness of Her loving affairs (prem-kautilya). Her body is perfumed by the camphor of Her sweet smile, while hearing the joking words of the sakhis.

Within the inner apartments of Her bodily fragrance is a bed of pride. Here She sometimes remains, as though unconscious, while wearing the restless necklace of separation from Her lover, beautified by a locket of humiliation.

Her breasts are concealed, bound with a bodice of wounded vanity (sensitive love). The sounds of Her vina, Her fame and beauty, dry up the faces and hearts of Her co-wives (competitors in love).

She has taken up the most amorous posture, leaning with Her lotus hands on the shoulders of Her sakhi friend (adolescence personified), just before beginning to distribute the honey of Cupid's infatuation and intoxication, which is itself the remembrance of the pleasure pastimes of ShyamaShyam.

Please bring this very sombre somebody, who is bowing down before You with a straw in his teeth, back to life, by sprinkling him with the nectar of Your servitorship. He Gandharvike! A truly compassionate person will not reject even a rascal if he is surrendered to them. Hai! (Oh my!) Therefore please, never abandon this person who is similarly surrendered to You.

That person, who recites this stab (hymn), of the name Premambhoj-maranda, produced of Her mercy, will surely attain service at Her lotus feet."

[by Srila Raghunath das Goswami.]

"May this hymn also advise and counsel me."

Thereafter, with these words, "I have received that most cherished object of my desire (kam {beej mantra}) from my Sri Gurudeb," choked up in my throat and my body trembling, I will fall down at her lotus feet. Then she will most certainly pick me up and embrace me, herself thrilling with ecstasy, while she places the remnants of her chewed tambul prasad, saturated with the nectar of her lips, into my mouth. But if you say that I am a brahmacari and therefore it is not proper for me to take tambul (pan), then you may give me the remnants of your own mukhabas, scented with camphor. Thereafter, coming to the realisation that my life is now successful, I will present as dakkina (alms given to the guru after receiving initiation) these most cherished pearls, along with heaps and piles of many other varieties of pearl fruits. By accepting these she will demonstrate that her favour is upon me." The gopis all giggled as they looked at Tungavidya. She was gushing as she tried to conceal her inner ecstasy by knitting her eyebrows into a great frown and giving me a side-long glance laced with her fury. She called out to Nandimukhi, "Ayi! Nandimukhi! You are a perfected renunciant, therefore you should initiate him according to this procedure. If the mantra is received from some perfected person who has developed their mystic powers, then the desired result (kam) will be accomplished very quickly."

Saying this much, she was preparing to leave in a great huff, to go home, when Visakha caught hold of her and brought her back. Visakha laughed as she spoke, "Nandimukhi! Actually it would be a contrary course to initiate this character. For this reason the acarja is angry with you."

Nandimukhi, "Ayi! You liar Visakha. How is it you are prepared to cast these false aspersions against the saintly son of the King of Gokul, Sri Nanda, the best friend of the lotus of religion?"

Visakha, "I'm warning you! This is a big mistake."

Nandimukhi, "What's the problem?"

Visakha, "Left remnants." (Tasted items)

Nandimukhi, "Whose?"

Visakha, "The maidservant's."

Nandimukhi laughed, "And who might this maidservant be?"

Visakha, "There is one lady in the forest of Shyaora, who, by the power of illusion, has taken on the form of a gopika. She was seen going to the house of Candrabali, the wife of the servant of Kungsa, Govarddhan Malla. Indeed, the following conversation was overheard there, "Ayi! Candrabali! You are the dearmost servant of the Goddess of the universe, Candika, and I am also one of the chief associates of Goddess Candi. Due to my overwhelming affection for you, I am desirous of making you one of my sakhis."

Candrabali replied, "That sounds reasonable," and, saying thus, she embraced that person whose friendship she had just accepted. That is the maidservant I am talking about!" Nandimukhi, "But who is that person?!"

Visakha, "This extraordinary Goddess of Wealth is renowned far and wide. I'm sure you must know of her."

Nandimukhi, "What are her remnants that you spoke of?"

Visakha, "The supremely sanctified honey of her black lips, kept in a small oil bottle."

Radhika smiled to hear this and all of the gopis laughed when they saw Radha's smiling face. Nandimukhi, "Ayi! Visakhe! Has anyone seen this?"

Visakha, "Of course! What do you think?"

Nandimukhi, "Who?"

Visakha, "The two gopis Malli and Bhringi, when they were sent by Priyasakhi Gandharva, to fetch some saffron cloth. Just the day before yesterday, they saw all of these sublimely purifying activities going on near Manas Ganga, on the bank of Ushor. Then when they returned they discussed what they had seen with all the other gopis."

Nandimukhi became very thoughtful as she said, "He is the life of all Gokul. How can this fault of His be extirpated?"

Visakha replied, "By observing some rites of atonement."

Nandimukhi, "Then let Bhagavati determine the proper penance, so that Purusottam can be acquitted of His crimes. Then after some provision is made for His purification, you can initiate him."

Campaklata spoke up, "Mughe! The method of atoning for this sin has already been explained in the Ujjval Mani Sunghita. You must never have seen this book and only for this reason you brought up Bhagavati's name."

Nandimukhi, "So who here knows this Sunghita?"

Campaklata, "Only priyasakhi Gandharva."

Nandimukhi, "But she is not here amongst this assembly just now. Therefore how can this penance be performed without excessive delay?"

Visakha, "This Lalita is the second Gandharva, Her very self-same form. Having studied this Sunghita under Gandharva [Radha], along with all of it's related treatises, she is now quite proficient in this subject due to the fact that she continually reads it again and again. Therefore she can easily determine what is a proper settlement."

Nandimukhi sarcastically replied, "Sakhi Lalite! After carefully considering the matter, please be so kind as to instruct us in these affairs regarding atonement."

Lalita smiled, "Priyasakhi! If the guilty party comes himself into the midst of this assembly and notifies those of us present, giving a complete and straightforward account of his crimes, and if he feels repentant for what he has done, then that is itself atonement. In this way have the wise and learned authors of the Puranas decreed:

'Whoever feels remorse for his crimes after having confessed them before a council, is fully pardoned. This is the encomium given by the munis in the dharma sastras.' Hearing this, Nandimukhi looked at me with emphatic intention. I then came before Lalita, with Subal and Madhumangal, but as I expressed my desire to say something, ...

Visakha said, "He Birbor! (Oh best of heroes!) Lustful persons have neither shame nor antipathy (self-mortification). Because of this, your naturally libidinous nature, you have done whatever you have done. Yet now, after careful consideration, you should divulge everything here in front of Lalita."

This time I wasn't laughing, and spoke as one thoroughly regretful of his past misdeeds, "Lalite! Four days ago, when I was looking for some of my cows who had strayed away, I came to Gauritirtha, where I saw, coming out of my Gauri Mandir, one of the highly perfumed attendants of Gauridebi. Suddenly she came and struck me on my left breast and then, after taking me within the Madhabi grove, she forced the remnants of her chewed tambul between my trembling lips. What more she did I cannot exactly say, because I was in a state of shock, and now cannot remember everything very clearly.

Then again, just the day before yesterday, I came to the bowers (nikunja) by the side of Radha Kund, bringing with me a variety of flower garlands all strung with golden thread. While absorbed in thoughts of my sweetheart, Gandharva, I wandered into Mandar Uddan (the Slow and Gentle Gardens) just by the side of Mala Haron Kund (the Lake of Stolen Garlands), near the City of Hills. There, who should appear on the scene but that same carcika (highly perfumed one), who again forcefully kissed me on the cheeks and entrusted the nectar of her lips unto my mouth.

Now, that these two sinful and wicked activities might be annulled, please give your permission for me to drink the honey remnants of Her lotus mouth."

Madhumangal laughed, "Bayasya! This is indeed an excellent means of atonement. Especially since it contributes to the further increase and expansion of the sinful activity itself!"

I replied, "Murkha! (You fool!) Fie on you! (You can go to hell!) Don't you even know that the best medicine to counteract poison, is poison itself. For example:

'A boil burns with a pain produced of heat (fire), but it is again by fire that this pain is checked.' And also-

'Those who are intelligent know that the best remedy for a soft foot, pierced by a thorn, is to remove that thorn with another thorn.'

In pursuance of these proofs, the best means of righting the wrong of tasting someone's remnants, is to again taste someone else's remnants (ucchista bhojan)."

Madhumangal, "Since you are the only physician qualified to cure the disease of such sins as these, why then do you bother going after Lalita to seek her compliance?"

I replied, "Sakhe! Even though one may be extremely knowledgeable about a variety of subject matters, still in matters pertaining to his own personal affairs he might have some uncertainty. Therefore, the medical treatment of a doctor is best effected by other doctors." Lalita laughed, "He Deb! Alliance with a debi (demigoddess) is accomplished only by another deba (demigod). We are only human beings. How will we even be able to perceive this debi?"

I replied, "Ayi! Lalite! Having accepted a human form, isn't she present somewhere very close by?"

At this their curiosity was greatly stimulated, yet they remained very apprehensive as they all began to whisper to each other, "Who is he talking about?"

Radha said to herself, "Does this crest jewel amongst the most cunning of all charlatans think that he'll really be able to get away with exhibiting his amusing activities in front of the eyes of all those assembled here?"

Visakha, "Deb! Please tell us. Where is this debi? Only if you tell us can we then, after properly praising Her by the recitation of various hymns and prayers, bring Her into the midst of this assembly and then quickly see to the execution of your affairs (religious rites)." I replied, "Visakhe! That debi is present within your assembly, resembling as she does a streak of lightning. Though you possess very beautiful eyes, like the expanded petals of a lotus, I think you must be blind."

Having heard these words of mine, filled with the deepest profundity and gravity, Lalita and the other sakhis were completely filled with apprehension. In other words, they were all thinking, "He is probably referring to me!"

While thus absorbed in the midst of various doubts and hesitations, all the while looking each other up and down, Visakha interjected, "He lampat! (You debauch!) Is that debi Campaklata?"

I replied, "Na. Na."

Visakha, "Then Jyestha?"

Me, "No, not Jyestha."

Subal spoke up, "Then it must be either Rangadebi or Sudebi."

Me, "Nope. Neither of them."

Visakha, "Then it must be the pardon officer herself, Lalita."

I replied, "Visakhe! It is not Lalita either."

Visakha, "Not this one. Not that one. Not so-and-so. Then what! Has she just vanished from here?"

I replied, "Dhurte! (You impostor!) You know who it is! Just think!"

Lalita said, "Hai, Hai! (Oh my!) Sakhi Visakhe! Hurry up! This poor lecher can't wait much longer. Let him get his business over with."

Visakha acted like she was thinking for awhile, and then said, "Lalite! The person whom I am thinking of is neither a debi (demigoddess) nor a human being."

Nandimukhi, "Then who is there within this assembly who is neither a debi nor a human being?"

Visakha, "A fairy!"

Lalita, "Who is that?"

Visakha smiled, "That scurrilous Padma (with the snake goddess Manasa) has been engaged in some very unpleasant acts."

Tungavidya, "Sakhi Visakhe! Why do you defile her by saying, 'That sankhini!' She is very devoted to Goddess Katyayini and has performed much service for her. By the mercy of Katyayini debi she has become non-different from the debi herself, though she remains concealed."

Hearing this Madhumangal and the others laughed. Then I said, "Visakhe! If, due to the excessive bashfulness of the party in question, you would like to appoint someone else, then in that case I can divulge another name."

Visakha, "Let's hear it!"

I said, "You are that carcikadebi." (perfumed, anointed goddess).

Seeing that all the other gopis got quite a laugh out of this, Visakha's lips were trembling as she replied, "Aye! Cancal! (You're so fickle!) Bancak! (Cheat!) He gop nisthur! (Oh most cruel of all the cowherds!) Oh you who smeared turmeric all over the body of the wife of Gobardhan Malla, the servant of that demon Kungsa! When it comes to wisdom, you are just like a great mass of molasses! Because you are so devoid of finesse in the fine art of cleverness, and so greedy for [her] affection, you are reduced to wandering around in the groves of jujubes (berries) looking for someone to play with. Oh worthless husband of Padmasankhini (female ghost associate of the snake goddess Manasa). Oh best of the merchants, greatest of the cheaters who like to deal in goods captured with the five arrows of Cupid! Though you think you are so clever, you are totally lacking in the necessary skills required for one to perform in this arena. Go and perform your impertinent activities in the chipped rice and molasses market, within the forest of Sakhot (Shyaora)! Go on! Get out of here right now!"

Sri Radha, in Her soft and gentle voice, began to praise Visakha, "Priyasakhi! Visakhe! May you be victorious! You have given me the greatest satisfaction by expressing externally, exactly what I was thinking within my mind!"

Rangadebi said, "Sakhi Visakhe! Why are you getting so angry? Sakhi Lalite! While he was supposed to be confessing all of his crimes before us, full of shame and remorse, he took the forest of Sakhot, to be a bower of Madhabi creepers; the dry, salty land on the banks of Manas Ganga, to be the Manda Gardens on the banks of Mala Haron Kund; and the tasted remnants of the ghostly associate of the snake goddess, to be the nectar of the lips of Visakha. This clever cheat, while saying one thing, actually implies a different, hidden meaning. In this way he has ascribed the different qualities of other objects to you. Therefore, it still remains for you to prescribe his proper atonement."

Lalita laughed, "He arja Madhumangal! Sakhe Subal! Come here and hear what we have in store for your friend."

Citra, "Sakhi Lalite! If the offender has any property, then the rule is that his penance should be levied at an increase of four times. Besides that, for the sons of kings it should be six times. Remembering these injunctions from the Smriti sastras, you should arrange for his penance."

Lalita, "Mugdhe! The law is that for the sons of kings it should be double six times (or twelve times). This, I know, is sanctioned in the Sunghita. How did you come up with six times?" Citra, "You are the one who is most proficient in this sastra. Whatever you have understood is certainly the truth. But there have been a number of incidences when this young prince has saved our lives, for instance, when he picked up Gobardhan hill, when he saved us from the forest fire, and when he thrashed Sankha Cura. In light of this, maybe we should not be so quick to count all of his faults. We could be a little lenient by settling up at six times."

Lalita, "Fine! This is the provision I am recommending in accordance with your request. First off, in the matter of delivering him from his sins, he will have to take some ritual baths. This should be performed in ManasGanga for three days. Then, to undo the evil influences upon his mouth, for twenty-one days he shall have to take a dose of the five kinds of nectar (pancamrit) from the lips of Malli and Bhringi. Later on we can arrange his acquittance at the rate of twelve times."

Madhumangal pretended to be very angry at this, "Lalitike! The King of Braja and the Son of his Queen are the veritable bridge of true religion. He is the medicine which sustains not only the life of myself and His other friends, but of all the residents of Gokul. Yet you have now undertaken to destroy His caste by making him taste the remnants of this cetika (servant girl) and pulinda (mleccha) girl. Therefore I can see no other recourse but to go and immediately inform His mother and father. By bringing them here I will deliver Him from this dangerous dilemma. This will also serve to further increase our friendship."

Saying thusly, he muttered to himself as he prepared to run off, but Subal caught hold of him and dissuaded him from going.

Lalita, "Anarja bato! (What a low-born plebeian you really are!) You are simply ignorant of the glories of these two sakhis, our priyasakhi Radha's minister of loving affairs and the one named Bhringi. Perhaps then, you should hear of their greatness from your Nandimukhi." Nandimukhi, "Brother Madhumangal! There is a very beautiful mountain of the name, Gobardhan, where is to be found Radha Kund, very dear to Krsna. As Radhika is most dear to Sri Krsna, Her kund is similarly as dear to him. Far superior to Vaikuntha is Madhupuri (Mathura). In spite of that, Brindaban is even far more excellent as the scene of the Ras festival, a marketplace of ecstasy, the epitome of eternal enjoyment. There is situated the mountain, Gobardhan, whose existence is also fully dedicated to flooding the Lord of Gokul with oceans of the nectar of love. Radha Kund is situated there, by the slopes of Giri Gobardhan. Is there any conscientious soul, averse to worldly pursuits, who will not serve Radha Kund? In light of all this, plus the fact that the guru of Bhagavati, Sri Debarsi, along with many other great sages and eminent saints, has described the residents of the caves upon Sri Gobardhan, near the southern bank of Radha Kund, in very glorious and majestic terms; and as well, Sri Sukdeb himself has described the Purnnas, Pulindyas, Urugayas, and so forth, as being exceptionally fortunate; therefore, will not the supremely sanctified pancamrit, liquefied by the lips of these two daughters of the king of the Pulindas, Malli and Bhringi, destroy the effects of sinful activities? I have more to say! Listen carefully-

Sometimes Visakha and her friends, though they are themselves pranayi-sakhis (loving friends, lovers), behave towards the new, Youthful Couple of Braja just as if they were maidservants. Then sometimes, they feign shyness and thus obtain the highest ecstasy, by engaging Ranganmala and her friends in their most cherished services, that they might listen to the extremely funny conversations that take place between these gentle and soft-spoken gopis, unaware of the intricacies of conjugal affairs."

Taking this opportunity, Sri Gandharva summoned Tulasi by a gesture of Her eyes, and then, with the little finger of her right hand, more beautiful than the sweetest scented Campak flower (which is of course more beautiful than beauty itself), she took some sindur (red lead, vermilion) from the part in her hair, and with this began to compose a letter, according to her own feelings, so that the letters of the words themselves became a herald of the scent and loveliness of a bunch of golden Ketaki flowers. This letter she placed in Tulasi's hand, to be delivered to Lalita and the others. Thereupon, Lalita, after touching the letter to her head, went off to read it in secret with the other sakhis. She smiled as she handed it to Nandimukhi. Nandimukhi reacted as though it was a matter of great exultation and smiled as she began to read the letter, after first holding it to her heart, "Blessings and prosperity on you all. Sri Nandimukhi, Sri Lalita, Sri Visakha and all of my pran prestha sakhis, after first embracing you and exchanging hundreds and thousands of millions of jokes, a certain lady has something to announce.

He who achieves the highest happiness while wandering around Gobardhan Hill with his cows and friends, such as Sridama, Subal, Bhadrasen and others, and who is the dearmost son of the King of Braja (Brajaraj), more beloved by him than his own life, hundreds and thousands and millions of times; and who attains the topmost pleasure, playfully lying on the soft mattress, scented with various flowers, which is actually the motherly affection that the Queen of Brajaraj feels for her son; on the bed inlaid with a great variety of valuable jewels, which are really the manifestation of her life force, multiplied hundreds and thousands of millions of times; within the vast temple, constructed from hundreds and thousands of millions of golden bricks, which are, in reality, nothing more than her body itself; to the image of the little toe of his left foot, I offer arati, taking ten million (arbud) of my pran pararddha (life force multiplied hundreds and thousands of millions of times) and then again, taking that pran pararddha arbud and multiplying it again by hundreds more pararddhas (hundreds and thousands of millions) to fuel the wick of the ghee lamp. My heart is melting like fresh butter to hear that One whose tender and delicate body is so attractive, as though fashioned from a bouquet of blue lotuses, perfumed with fresh musk, the lustre of which is like cream, and Who is dhir lalit (that hero, devoid of anxiety, very polite and meek and who is expert at singing and dancing), will have to engage in such severe penances.

Now if this lad of delicate limbs is agreeable, and is still in a penitent mood as regards his previously committed crimes, then the actual prescribed means of his deliverance is by tantra. Having forgotten this part of the Ujjval Sunghita, Lalita had made some separate arrangement for drinking pancamrit, only for the purification of his mouth. In any case, if he can now be made blameless through this system of tantra, by both purifying his mouth and destroying his various other sinful activities as well, then I will be beside myself with bliss. It would be superfluous to say more.

Please convey my loving embrace upon Malli and Bhringi, who are as dear to me as my own life.

I would just like to emphasize one point in closing- This young prince is supremely pure, and at the same time, addicted to luxury. Therefore, with his lotus feet he should tread on a flowering creeper taken from an Ashok tree, and the nectar that exudes from those flowers should be used, in the measurement of twenty-four gandushas, to wash his face. Then pancamrit should be administered to his smiling and camphor scented lips, very gently and lovingly causing him to drink it. In this way, the sins of this tender young child can be very quickly driven away, effecting his great happiness at one and the same time."

Having heard these words, like nectar to my ears, my mind was transported to the very outer reaches of ecstasy, as I looked towards the kunj wherein Sri Radha was seated. Lalita laughed to see this as she said, "Even though it is true that the sinful reactions of a wicked man are destroyed by his repentance, there still remains something further to be said. Namely, 'If there remain any properties, then the penance should be multiplied four times.' Moreover, 'Especially for the sons of kings it should be twelve times.' Then, 'In the case of minor injunctions and specific ones, the specific injunction is always more important.'

According to this logical proof, the proper penance for him is calculated at two times six (or twelve) which I had again divided up into two separate penalties. Nevertheless, the order of one's elder (gurujon) is not to be questioned, even if it may be inconsistent. Thus, taking this order upon my head, I will cause his sins to be expiated by the process of tantra."

Then I said, "The learning of the sisya is superior to even that of the guru."

At this, Lalita made a face which perfectly revealed her thoughts, as she said, "Nandimukhi! He who has thoroughly satisfied the lotus eyes of the residents of Gokul with his liquid loveliness and who plays at the celebrated place known as Parasali, this foolish black deer, has abandoned this playful lovely doe (Goddess of Youth), the constant companion of paramrastarangini rangini, to repeatedly run after that apparition, the resident of Sakhisthali and confidante of Saibya. This restless and senseless bumblebee, has forsaken the lovely jasmine flower, the friend of the Campak creeper (Campaklata), that has filled the four directions in and around the nikunj bhavan (bower residences) surrounding Radha Kund with the sweetest fragrance, to relentlessly and recklessly pursue the scentless kusmanda creeper (kusmanda means pumpkin, as well as false conception) that grows in one corner of the yard of Gobardhan Malla, by the side of it's friend the river (Padma), which flows in the dry, sandy and saline soil nearby. Because of this, the ineptness and tactlessness of this dim-witted dolt, the constant companion of Brindabaneshwari, namely Her naturally pleasant and agreeable repose, has superficially been saddened and made gloomy, thus the sentiments of conjugal love are not being nourished. Therefore, this ignorant and inexperienced bumblebee needs to be enlightened about the foolishness of his ways, so that he deserts that pumpkin creeper, devoid of the scents of fine sentiments, and instead becomes the devoted follower of the Goddess of Brindaban. Then Her dear friend (priyasakhi), in the form of Her amorous pleasure, radiant with contentment, will undoubtedly fulfil His most cherished desires."

In this way, having been made to drink such a variety of sweet and intoxicating beverages, all scented with the flavour of conjugal affairs, Satyabhama said, "Prananath! Though I am drowning in this ocean of nectar, I am not in the least bit feeling satiated!"

Krsna replied, "Priye! It is as if your question has caused the appearance of my dear friend, the King of the Season Springtime, who used to accompany me in my sublime pleasure pastimes within the forests of Gokul." Saying thusly, he heartily embraced Satyabhama.

Satyabhama joyfully replied, "Then! Then?!"

Krsna said, "Then Subal laughed as he spoke to me,

"Priyabayasya! Priyasakhi Indulekha, by various hints and gestures, sent me here to inform you that her life has been made explicitly uneasy by the constant ranting and raving of her husband Bhasshor. Therefore I am requesting you to settle the price for her pearls, and then, after presenting them to her, send her swiftly home that she might properly perform her household duties."

I replied, "Sakhe Subal! You have spoken correctly. This Indurekha is so attached to me in loving affection, that even though she is very afraid of her husband, still, she is not able to give up my company. Therefore, please listen carefully to the following assessment of the price she must pay. The aptly named Indurekha (Impression of the Moon), unable to tolerate separation from me, should manifest two bodies. One of these can remain in the dark sky of my heart, being etched there with the sharpened nail of her finger. Then I, who am also incapable of enduring separation from her, will rise up, by the power of my mystic science, like two half moons on the mountains of her chest. There she can keep me within the folds of her cloth, like a poor man keeps a valuable gem that he has found. Thus will she realise the topmost ecstasy, by occasionally stealing a glance at me, situated upon the hairs of her body, standing on end. Or, I could remain in the heart of Indulekha, by remaining there as a lovely, dark deer."

Her lips trembling, Indurekha shot me a very crooked and tortuous glance the sight of which made Tungavidya laugh as she said to me, "He Nagor! (Oh great gallant!) This Rangadebi is also very appropriately named! Therefore, let us hear the evaluation of the price she is to pay."

I replied, "Sakhi Rangadebi! Previously, during our Ras dance, I was especially delighted while continuously absorbed in watching your dexterity in dancing. Now, within the lonely and secluded compound of this nikunja mandir (bower temple), I am eager to experience that dancing once again. Therefore, please come here and make those two golden waterpots on your bosom dance on my chest in the ways that you are so adept, so that I, having been highly pleased by you, may reward you with the nectar of my lips, the most coveted treasure of all the gopis, and thus bestow upon you too, the highest happiness."

"Ore bhandasekhor! (Oh summit of buffoonery!) Get out of here! Get out of here!" she said, as she looked askance at me. Then she ran and hid behind Visakha.

Sudebi laughed, "He Rasik Sekhor! (Oh summit of wit and merrymaking! {Relishing rasas- mellows of ecstatic love}) It is clearly felt that Rangadebi will quickly achieve perfection by relishing this mahaprasadam, that which is eternally enjoyed, emancipated and worshipped by the gopis. Thus it is hoped that she will bestow perfection on all of us also."

Subal said, "Bayasya! See how Sudebi remains eyeing you, longing to know what price for these pearls you have ascertained for her!"

I replied, "Sakhe Subal! Since Sudebi is celebrated as being very skilful at throwing dice, we will play a game together, but in order to avoid any cheating or embezzlement, no one amongst you will be able to support either side. The two of us will play by the power of our intuitive intelligence. Now if I am soundly defeated by her, then she can press my chest very tightly with her left breast and drink twice from my lips, which are the whole of my wealth. Or, in the case that I am able to defeat her, then her right breast, very firm to the touch, will be squeezed by my right hand, as much as I like, and she will have to cause me to drink the nectar of her lips twice."

Thereupon, Sudebi knitted her eyebrows into a terrible frown as she looked at me and spoke to Visakha, her words dripping with malice, "Ayi Visakhe! Does he know nothing more than engaging in mercantile affairs and joking on and on forever? Previously this great trader got so much amusement out of the gold business and nowadays he has begun to do the same by speculating in commerce in pearls, all calculated to achieve a handsome profit. Therefore all of you should set aside two pararddhas (pararddha- hundred, thousand billion) of golden coins in the form of the five arrows he is so much desirous of getting struck with. Let him have as much as he wants from this reserve and then collect all our pearls from him. Meanwhile, I'm going home."

As Ananga Manjari caught hold of her skirt to prevent her from going, Sudebi again turned towards me, accosting me with her anger as she challenged me, "Bho! Kelilampat! (You love-making libertine!) Ananga Manjari is expert at rolling the dice. Therefore, you should play dice with her, unless of course you're worried that she might crumble the mountain of your pride to pieces."

To these sweet words I replied, "Are you sure? This quiet, little Ananga Manjari!? A practised dice thrower? The dear sister of She Who is the personified form of my Kaustubha necklace and the mark of Srivatsa on my chest (Srimati Radhika), is very affectionate to me. The bumblebee of my mind is similarly so delighted with the sweetness of this Ananga Manjari, that it hovers near her constantly. I am prepared to give her some of the roundest and heaviest pearls for free. For her I won't charge anything. Then I will take her to a solitary kunj and, placing her gentle form upon a dais within that kunj, I will arrange all fifty of the syllables, which are the various limbs and parts of her body, beginning with her heart. I will embrace her and then perform a complete anga-nyas (applying mantras to the various parts of the body through touch and sound) while reciting all of the appropriate mantras. Then I will bestow upon her a most perfected mantra. By reciting this mantra only once, she will be able to enjoy direct association with Cupid himself. After the conclusion of her dalliance with Cupid, she will naturally be so satisfied, so pleased, that she will humbly present the jewels of her wanton coquetry, the whole of her worldly possessions, to her mantraguru as dakkina. Thereupon, I will be so delighted with her that I will bestow my graciousness as hundreds and hundreds of benedictions upon her, by awarding her the title, Bisomsor Bilasacarja (Bisomsor: lit.- deadly arrow; Here however, this can most nearly be rendered as- The Most Extraordinary Acarja of Pleasure Pastimes). Having received this degree, she will in turn worship me with two times more devotion than she did before."

Accepting these words of mine like a hymn of flowers, she decorated her ears with those flowers as she glanced at me very quickly, while making a hasty retreat behind Tulasi and Ranganmalika, her lips trembling all the time. The full-faced, fortunate gopis laughed with full-blown eyes, full with affection, to see her disappear behind the backs of her friends, while her elder sister, Sri Radha, watched with sympathetic and smiling eyes.

Satyabhama laughed, "Prananath! Then! Then?!"

Sri Krsna replied, "At that time Malli and Bhringi appeared with two letters and presented them before the assembly. With elated minds, they all gathered around Lalita to read them, as she handed one of the letters to Subal."

I said, "Lalite! Who wrote these letters?"

Lalita laughed, "The letters will say!"

Then Subal opened the letter and began to read in a quiet voice.

Nandimukhi, "Subal! We can't hear!"

Subal laughed, "Sakhe! Please hear this remarkable letter!"

I replied, "Go on! I'm on the edge of my seat!"

Subal, "Swastisamastamukhah! (Denoting benediction or prosperity)

Before the right honourable; worthy of comparison (in writing) to the best of the saintly persons; surrounded and served by a host of good qualities, our dearest friend, the highly magnanimous Subal-

Please know the following, by this letter, like a sweet cake served to you on a golden plate, come from the village called Jabat, and composed of syllables which are nothing less than the condensed form of the nectar of Sri Radha's love-

Though the lotus feet of your dear friend, and of the other residents of Braja Mandal as well, like your good self, are always graced with all auspiciousness, may this always continue to be so. There is one other matter which you should please be attentive to.

It is common knowledge that the exacting of revenue from one's dear friends is unbecoming, and so, though on many occasions we have had to part with considerable sums, we have up till now, remained silent. Now however, due to the squandering of all the pearls that we had planted, our elders are awfully upset and complain all the time. Only due to this fact, that we are unable to attain a moment's peace since the dreadful day of our big blunder, I have had to say something. Please don't count this as a fault against me.

In this village of ours, Brindaban, your dear friend (Pranbondhu Krsna) has taken up pearl farming nowadays, in the fields near the Jamuna, as his means of livelihood. After you have all settled on an adequate amount, through written correspondence with Lalita, {here of course I am referring to the taxes due to us for the use of our land}, then I will expect prompt payment. With this revenue we will then go to bring a sufficient quantity of pearls from Mathura. Having presented these to our elders, we will have thus crossed over this ocean of anguish.

Or, if you are unable to come up with the considerable amount required, since of course you understand that it takes very expensive land to produce valuable pearls, then in that case, five representative members should meet together, and, after settling the rate, a quantity of pearls equal to that amount should be made over to Lalita.

and experienced persons. Therefore what need is there for me to say anything further? Sincerely yours,"

Completely transported into the realms of rapture at having heard these lucid remarks, I revealed my inner thoughts, saying, "Ayi Malli! Ayi Bhringi! Your mistress is well I hope!?" They replied, "Absorbed in meditation on the feet of lord master, she is quite content."

Then, glancing out of the corners of my eyes towards that kunj, I inquired, "Where is she just now?"

They replied, "In the village of the name Jabat."

I inquired further, "What is she doing just now?"

They replied, "She is sitting, watching the path, waiting for the arrival of Lalita and the other sakhis, while anxiously praying for the auspicious welfare of the kingdom of Brindaban." I said, "Sakhe Subal! I suspect that our double-dealing friend here (Lalita) has signalled to someone to write this letter and then produced it as if it had come from Jabat."

Subal, "Na. Na. This is definitely Radha's handwriting."

Then I said, "Sakhe! Let me see the letter!"

Taking the letter from Subal I marvelled at it as I said to myself, "Aha! These rows of words illuminate my eyes with a brilliance like a flood of nectar. However, I will have to disguise the appearance of these ecstatic symptoms, such as the standing up of the hairs on my body, by attributing to them a cause other than the real one. Thus I laughed as I said, "How astonishing! I can't believe it! These sly foxes have pulled this rabbit out of the hat like a flower from the sky, by unexpectedly raising a completely new issue."

Madhumangal spoke up, "Bayasya! This overindulged and pampered Lalita, the personification of the most grotesque and shrewd trickery (kuti-nati), the first preceptor of all deceitful dancing girls who cavort around on the dramatic stage, and who is herself a first-class actress, is non-different from Radha. Thus, by her beguiling words she very easily subjugates Sri Radha, and having thus overpowered her, enacts her own will through the personality of Radha. Know this to be a desperate and futile attempt. I know also, that as long as one of your enemies remains, then for that long you should relinquish all your hopes for happiness. Remembering this and all other pertinent information, you should recommend to the well-wisher of our kingdom of Brindaban that all of these charlatans be run out of Brindaban at once. Then only, in this kingdom freed from all thorns, will you be able to enjoy all of the sweet flowers and juicy fruits. Immersed in the happiness of that moment, I will myself become a dancer as I continue to live here free from any further affliction."

I said, "Lalite! How has our Brindaban become the kingdom of your sakhi?"

Lalita, "Bho! Paramkapatin! (Oh consummate fraud!) You were present at the coronation festival of Sri Radharani. Why are you trying to conceal this fact?!"

Me, "What to speak of seeing such a festival I don't remember even having heard of it!"

Visakha, "Lalite! It's not his fault. Through the transgression of the codes of religion by hundreds and hundreds of the chaste young cowherd women, the darkness of ignorance has descended upon this place. By association with them his intelligence has also become covered, and through his association, his two friends appear to be losing their's also. Now the question is, how to bring about their remembrance?

This can best be accomplished by causing the nectar of the words spoken by Radharani to enter into the holes of their ears. This will bring about the appearance of Her mercy within their consciousness and in this way their memories will be revived."

Just then Brindadebi arrived. This brought unlimited joy to all of the gopis as they all embraced her along with Lalita, who said, "Brinde! You have come at a very good time. Please describe the great fun we had at the coronation festival of Sri Radharani."

Brindadebi very humbly replied, yet with great delight, "Sakhi Lalite! Actually I have come here just to drink the flower nectar description of that festival from your lotus mouth. Therefore, please distribute this nectar to us yourself."

Lalita cheerfully replied, "So be it. Everyone please listen very carefully-

During the reign of the King of Seasons (Springtime), at the time of Paurnamasi tithi (full-moon) and during the Visakha nakshatra (constellation called Visakha), all of the rivers such as Kalindi and Manas Ganga, met together with the demigoddesses headed by Krsna's younger sister, Savitri, the resident of the Vindhya hills, having been ordered to do so by a voice from the sky, that of Hiranyagarbha (Lord Brahma), and another instruction received through their dreams from a resident of Brindaban, Lord Gopeshwar. Then all of them, together with Bhagavati Paurnamasi, attracted various Kinnaris and Gandharvis there, by making a tumultuous uproar produced from various musical instruments like flutes, vinas, gongs, mridungas and other kinds of drums. While the Kinnaris and Gandharvis sang, the Apsaras and Vidyadharis began to dance, as Saci and the other heavenly nymphs let loose with triumphant outcries accompanied by showers of flowers like the parijata. The approach of Visakha and all the other sahacaris (confidantes) was proclaimed by the melodious songs that went before them, resounding in all directions, as they appeared on the scene exquisitely decorated with sweetly scented silken cloths fastened with multi-coloured cords and carrying in their hands freshly ground sandalwood paste, mind-enchanting musk, delicious kunkum (saffron), sandalwood oil and a variety of fragrant flowers. The wives of the brahmanas uttered hundreds and hundreds of benedictions as the sakhis carried in 108 brilliantly decorated golden pots, filled with water scented with kunkum, aguru, karpur (camphor), candan (sandalwood), and various fragrant flowers. To these were then added various gems decorated with auspicious markings. As the Ratnabhishek began, thousands of streams flowed from the lotus feet of priyasakhi Gandharva, who was seated on an altar encrusted with rubies, atop a brightly coloured dais, all to the accompaniment of triumphant cries of joy."

Brindadebi joyfully inquired, "Then? Then?!"

Lalita replied, "Then I gently rubbed Her with a very fine, soft cloth to dry her body before dressing her in a red skirt, with a dark blue veil (the colour of clouds) scented with Ketaki flowers. After comfortably seating Her on a small golden seat, I began to braid her luxurious hair, which defeats the beauty of peacock feathers, intertwining the braids with garlands of fresh flowers, pearls and jewels, finally fixing a colourful bouquet of flowers at the end of her braid. Meanwhile the other attendants (sakhis) present each began to perform the respective service that they were particularly expert at, decorating Her transcendental body with various unguents, ornaments and garlands, whatever was suitable for the particular part or limb that they were diligently decorating..."

Suddenly, while in the middle of this sentence, Lalita became overwhelmed by the remembrance of her Priyasakhi, as the ecstatic symptoms of trembling, horripilation and faltering of the voice transported her into a state of divine unconsciousness. Visakha then sat down behind her and filled her ears with the nectarean vibrations of "Radhe Krsna Radhe Krsna", thus arousing her from her faint. Lalita patiently remained silent for a few moments and then prepared to resume the narration.

In the meantime, when Sri Radha saw that Lalita had become unconsciousness, She exclaimed, "Oh light of my life, whose character shines like a burning ghee lamp, encircling and dissipating the darkness, Oh priyasakhi Lalite! Have you left this already unfortunate soul in a state of complete hopelessness? Ha Bhagavan! Ha Bhaktabatsal Bhaskordeb! (Oh Lord! Oh You Who are affectionate to Your devotees. Oh most merciful Sun God!) Please save us! Please protect us! Ha Gokul Sudhanidhe (Oh Nectar Reservoir of Gokul)! Oh you who have unconditionally resolved to protect the residents of Gokul, up to and including the Pulindas. Quickly therefore, bring the life back into this succulent young creeper by sprinkling her with the nectar touch of your hands, this girl named Lalita, who is the means of existence for people like me, whose hearts are like a cuckoo's. I will bear the expenses, whatever the cost! Better yet! As your remuneration, you can purchase this ascetic, Radhika, and make her your maidservant."

Lamenting in this way, with Her face streaming with tears, Radharani rushed forward to embrace Lalita, but before she could advance She was Herself embraced (and thus protected) by her companions in the form of the ecstatic symptoms headed by paralysis (stambha). In other words, She also fainted in a swoon of ecstatic love.

Seeing this, Ranganballi and Tulasi became frightened and ran to Radharani, with their hearts pounding. Ranganballi put her left arm around Sri Radha's back, and then, with her right hand, began to gently rub Her body. Tulasi was crying profusely as she called out in a faltering voice, "Ha Nath! Raksha! Raksha! (Oh Lord! Protect us! Save us!) She ran and brought some fresh new leaves from a Tamal tree and after having fashioned a fan from them, began to fan Radharani very briskly. Then Sri Radha regained her consciousness and was delighted to see Lalita fit and well.

Meanwhile Lalita continued, "Yes. Then, all of those assembled there, decorated as they were with the ornaments of ecstatic symptoms, surged forth like a swell in the ocean of happiness, and, with Bhagavati Paurnamasi at their head, seated Sri Radha on a very ornate, jewelled throne. Then after collecting tilok and musk from the chest of the dark-blue demigod (Shyamal debata) of the name Kam, the brother of Jogmaya, She was anointed as the Queen of Brindaban with this tilok, all to the accompaniment of the blowing of conchshells, ringing of bells and beating of gongs and drums."

Having heard this wonderful description of Sri Radha's coronation festival, a great din and bustle of laughter was produced amongst all those present. I was also so much taken up by the intense rapture of that moment, that a variety of ecstatic symptoms sprung up in my physical person, which I was able to constrain and contain only by sheer effort.

I managed a slight smile as I said, "Lalite! How is it I never came to know about any of this? Anyway, simply by this have you all acquired the kingdom? Especially since you certainly must have assented that it would also be my kingdom, along with yours."

Nandimukhi, "How is that?"

I replied, "Since it was by my suggestion that Bhagavati Paurnamasi crowned Radha as my queen, the Queen of the Inner Sanctum of Brindaban."

Visakha laughed, "He asangata bhashin! (Oh you of inconsistent speech!) The queen of Purandor is a demigoddess, the wife of Indra, famous by the name of Saci, and she lives in heaven. However, my sakhi Radharani, wanders upon this Earth as a human being, the wife of the fortunate Abhimanyu."

I said, "Tarkacarjasiromaninmanye Visakhe! (Oh most esteemed preceptor, crest jewel amongst the professors of the science of polemics!) You are endowed with the most decrepit intelligence (You imbecile)! Though you have repeatedly studied the section of dialectics dealing with direct perception, have you forgotten it all?"

Visakha replied, "And just exactly what is it that I have forgotten?"

I said, "I will tell you. Just listen carefully-

If your priyasakhi Radha is not my mistress, then why did Bhagavati Paurnamasi anoint Her with tilok and musk from my chest, during her coronation ceremony? Why did she place my necklace and my flower garland around Her neck?"

Lalita, "Bho shashashringa dhanurdhar! (Oh wielder of the bow made from the horns of a hare! He alik purandor! (Oh you false Indra!) She whose lotus feet are adorned with the most excellent lines of auspiciousness, whose wealth of glories are sung by the Gandharvas and Vidyadharas, whose character is praised in hymns recited by Prajapati Brahma, the bestower of the fruits of manifold desires, the consort of the Lord of Nandi, Sri Mahadeb, the resident of Kailash and Vindhyacal, has a brother (Shyamal debata) named Kamakhya, whose mahaprasad (musk and flower garlands) was used by Paurnamasi to anoint Radharani during Her coronation festival. I am not aware of your relationship with him?!"

Tungavidya, "Sakhi Lalite! This title, Alik Purandor, that you have used to address him, is so fitting since in fact he is nothing more than a false Indra!"

Visakha, "How is that?"

Tungavidya, "In the same way that a beggar brahmana who has some knowledge of music may accept a post as music teacher in a small village, simply to receive the twenty-five kauri (conchshell) salary, and, when falsely addressed by the simple village folk as, "He Deb! Oh He Maharaj!", he feels so delighted and cheerful; similarly, certain stoned (intoxicated from taking bhang {marijuana}) and dissembling scholars (court jesters) of low character, simply greedy for the pay of one pol (four tolas) of fresh butter, respectfully refer to themselves with the title Brindaban Purandor, even a semblance of which remains far from the reality that they are nothing more than ambitious farmers, thus revealing their true identity as foolish idiots. Yet they remain so enthusiastic to establish themselves as the gods of celestial abodes."

Biting her bottom lip to hold back her laughter, Tungavidya now began to describe my abhishek (coronation ceremony), "Sakhigon! He is comfortably seated on a throne made from golden mud from the banks of Pabon Sarobar, produced from the moss growing there, and encrusted with tasty pearl fruits and other jewels. He wears a crooked crown, roughly fashioned from flowers from the sky (akash kushum- day dreams), the scent of which has attracted a swarm of intoxicated yellow bumblebees eager to collect some pollen, as they busily buzz about. Subal is happily holding an umbrella above his head. Aha! I can't even describe the elegance of that umbrella, made from the shells of tortoises, and from which is falling a shower of the most fragrant nectar. His two friends, Ujjwal and Catur appear very delighted as they stand by his two sides, fanning him with camaras made from bunches of hair produced from the soft palms of the hands. Some of the greatest and noblest saints, born from the wombs of the most celebrated, barren women are performing his abhishek, anointing him as Chief Sovereign (Mahendra) of Brindaban, by bathing him in a shower of the delicious milk of Padmagandha and some of the other bulls. At this moment his hare-horn bow, that he holds in his left hand, shines with a splendour like a gift from the mighty Kubera himself.

In this and so many other ways the Rajyabhishek (Coronation Ceremony) was performed throughout the day. Thus his fame was proclaimed throughout the universe, carried by the tidal wave of his majesty. Though all of you are aware of this, it seems a great impropriety to me that none of you are falling at his feet while addressing him as Mahendra incarnate." The fair-limbed gopis laughed with delight as they shyly glanced towards me from the corners of their eyes. Then they all smiled at one another as Citra said, "Bho! Why are you two (Visakha and Tungavidya) joking about him so? He really is the Lord of the Gods (Debendra) you know! There is no doubt about it."

Then Tungavidya said, "Citre! If that be true, that he is the Lord of the Gods (Debaraj), then why would he come here, before all of us ordinary folk?"

Citra replied, "Though it is common knowledge that he gets enamoured by other women, debi was so angered by this that she kicked him and rebuked him severely. Thus he left that heavenly home of his and came here to the forest. Accepting the dress of a cowherd boy he then began the performance of purash caran. By this process (purash caran) he has attracted the favour of the Goddess of Brindaban (Brindabaneshwari) and is now happily passing his time here. Therefore, instead of teasing him by making him an object of ridicule, we should affectionately welcome this guest who has come to our home."

The glowing faces of the graceful young gopis lit up with smiles as they listened to this explanation of Citra's. Then Nandimukhi addressed her, "Sakhi Citre! He who eternally sports in the forest of Braja, namely the son of the King of Braja, Brajendra Nandan, appears to be seriously contemplating the inner, hidden meaning of the words you have used to describe him. Please therefore, after due consideration, bring delight to all of our hearts by explaining this secret to us."

Citra laughed but remained silent. When Sri Brindadebi saw that she appeared like a saint who has taken a vow of maunam (silence), she blissfully began, "Nandimukhi! I have clearly understood the esoteric meaning of clever Citra's statements. Please listen carefully as I reveal this to you."

Nandimukhi, "Tell us how he has become the King of the Gods, Debendra."

Brindadebi replied, "Those who are very playful, who engage in a variety of captivating pleasure pastimes, are deba; or, those who are very effulgent, whose brilliant bodily lustre shines like the waves of a river of nectar on a moonlit night, can also be called as the Sovereign Chief of all the debas, Debendra Raja. His above mentioned qualities far outshine the other debas. This is the meaning of Debendra."

Nandimukhi smiled, "Brinde! You have sufficiently explained the meaning of Debendra. Now tell us the meaning of par ramani rata."

Brinda replied, "Para means other, or opposing. It can also indicate paramotkrista ramani, a very eminent lady. That is, Sri Radha. And of course, rata means deep and fond attachment, so, par ramani rata means, one who is passionately devoted to Sri Radha."

Campaklata laughed, "Brinde! Then who is that debi?"

Brindadebi replied, "Unless one is a god himself he has no right to worship the gods. In accordance with this injunction, she who is very diligently engaged in the service of Candika debi, is also called debi, just to lend some auspiciousness to an otherwise inauspicious situation; like calling a blind child, Padmalocan. Otherwise, debi means the wife of a deba."

Nandimukhi inquired, "Who is that?"

Visakha, "Well, that's obvious. The person that fits this description; who has all of these qualities, is Candrabali."

Brindadebi smiled to hear this but then fell silent, as all the other bright-eyed gopis laughed together.

Nandimukhi, "Yes, the fact that she rebuked him by kicking him clearly indicates her lower propensities and shameless impudence. But what then is the meaning of, param sukhad tan nija bhavan?"

Brindadebi replied, "That place that is not very deep or dense, without flowers or the buzzing of bumblebees, only (param- exclusively) affords unhappiness, uneasiness and the lack of contentment (asukhad). Or, that place which ruins real happiness; the place which gives pain; our debi's residence, Sakhi Sthali. Leaving there, he has come to this forest."

Nandimukhi, "How wonderful it is that you have so cleverly recognised the esoteric meaning of Citra's statements. Please therefore, divulge the hidden meanings of the other words which still remain incomprehensible to us."

Brindadebi replied, "The phrase beginning with navin gopatwa indicates someone who carries a flute, a buffalo horn, a cane, and a rope for tying cows; who is painted with red mineral dyes, decorated with new peacock feathers and necklaces made of gunja berries; an enchanting cowherd boy bedecked with forest flowers and leaves. Navin especially refers to his ever fresh, eternally youthful quality. Purash caran vidhan is understood in this way. Purah means, before. In other words, underneath the sweetly scented Bakul trees ornamented with a multitude of bumblebees. Caran means self-willed, wanton or noble. Or, like the king of the elephants, Gajendra, maddened by Cupid's shafts, who wanders about, engaged in a variety of pleasure pastimes. His precepts (vidhan) consist of such things as kissing the lotuses (kissing the lotus of his pastimes), biting the tender leaves of the Ashok creeper, playing with round pomegranate fruits, embracing golden jasmine creepers and causing others to drink the intoxicating honey of his camphor-sweet smile and the side-long glances from his lotus eyes. On this account, he forcibly attracts the playful coquette of this capital of Brindaban, who has come here to share some of her ecstatic feelings with the Mallika, Bakul, Campak, Madhabi and golden Jasmine flowers that grow here, collecting them that they may render service as various fragrant flower garlands. After making her completely mad with excitement, he pulls her to himself.

The inner meaning of, sukhena samoyan gamayan, or, happily passing the time, is: sukhena- the topmost ecstasy produced by tasting the most commendable and indescribably sweet mellows; which has, and continually remains, to endow samoy, or time, that is, the time of soporific Spring, with the most unique and incomparably good fortune, as though the Goddess of Fortune herself was eternally present, by means of a mystical myriad of pleasure pastimes. Having attained Her association, He is incessantly and intently absorbed in inventing even more inexpressible and unspeakable ways to divert the attention of His Playmate, through the artistry of delicious, wanton dalliance."

My heart filled with joy, I addressed her, "Biswasghatini Brinde! (You traitress!) You are the keeper (mistress) of my gardens; these groves of Brindaban. Have you joined their side now?"

Madhumangal said, "Priya bayasya! This Brinda, just so that she can eat some rice with salt and buttermilk, has abandoned Your groves to become a servant in their homes. So what else would you expect her to say in these present circumstances?"

Brinda exclaimed, "Aye bhusurabhash! (You mere semblance of a brahmana!) Katubato! (You crude, rude and jealous jester!) Upon hearing these words, comparable to a fresh Spring shower, from your friend who is himself like a cloud, you have become quite a cheerful frog now haven't you? Your harsh croaking however, is simply a source of disturbance for us."

Malli and Bhringi said, "Debi Lalite! Have you forgotten about what our Swamini wrote in the second letter?"

Lalita, "What was that?"

Malli and Bhringi, "Whoever behaves in a contrary fashion, furnishing fallacious arguments simply to instigate quarrel and hostility in the matter of settling a just and equitable price for the goods in question, should immediately be bound and sent to me. And so forth..." Lalita said, "Yes! This Madhumangal is definitely antagonising the situation. After binding him tightly with some vines and creepers, take him, not to our soft-hearted Priyasakhi however, but submit him instead to Jatila and Abhimanyu. There he can collect his dues in the form of a good, sound thrashing from the lion of Jabat, Abhimanyu."

Madhumangal timidly remarked, "Bayasya! I have some very important work waiting for me at home. I'll come back as soon as I'm finished."

I replied, "Dhik brahman! (Shame!) When you are with me why do you fear the tall talks of these weak, young girls?"

Madhumangal, "He Mahasur! (Oh great hero!) I have directly experienced Your great valour at the toll gate on the path around Gobardhan enough times. I haven't forgotten that day the gopis bound me with their veils, by the order of Gandharva, for the purpose of realising the revenues on Brindaban, and carried me off right under Your nose as You looked on with your mouth hanging open, even if You so conveniently have. Fortunately, I somehow or other managed to save myself by my own brahminical prowess."

Saying this much, Madhumangal imitated someone in a panic of terror trying to flee away, as I caught hold of his hand to bring him back and said, "Lalite! Why should I pay revenues to such a soft, gentle-hearted young girl as that. Rather, I will collect my own dues by force if necessary."

When she heard this, Sri Radha glanced at me from the corner of Her eyes and laughed.

Nandimukhi said, "Citre! What is the meaning of what you said about batir atithi (our house guest)?

Lalita said, "Nandimukhi! When you already know, then why do you ask? He has only been here for about six or seven years since he left his own village in Mahaban, where he always used to stay."

Nandimukhi, "Why did he abandon the place of his birth?"

Radha answered under her breath, "Because there he was not free to do as he pleased. In such a big village as that, which is practically like a town with many people always present, where is the opportunity to accomplish all the odd and unbecoming things that he is accustomed to, such as assassinating young girls, breaking milk pots and stealing butter? Since there he has little scope for committing these crimes, and thus perfecting his natural calling, he has come to this lonely and dense forest of Brindaban. Here, his intense eagerness for such activities as biting the lips and stealing the clothes of chaste young girls goes unchecked, and with it the good name of our respectable families."

Nandimukhi smiled as Lalita expressed (out loud) Sri Radha's observation for the benefit of all those present. Divulging her intentions, she remarked, "Yes Lalite! Yet he seems to have relinquished this profession as of late."

Radha again answered quietly, "That does seem to be the case at present. He has renounced his natural characteristics (swadharma), since his judgement was swayed by some averse conception, having been acquitted of his crimes of thieving and the like by the penances prescribed by Lalitacarja. Now feeling very repentant, he has taken up the occupation of the gopis, namely agriculture, as his religious duty. He is producing quite a good harvest and giving that too, over to the gopis, after first accepting a share for himself. In this way he brings so much happiness to the gopis and himself as well, behaving just like a virtuous and pious gentleman."

This much Visakha similarly communicated to everyone, with her smiling face.

The lovely young gopis (Brajasundori gon) discovered a festival of laughing and merriment in these statements of Sri Radha, as I said to Subal with insincere malice, "Sakhe Subal! Have you seen how these cunning rascals, under the ruse of jesting mockery, have thoroughly undermined my authority here in this kingdom of Brindaban?"

Subal replied, "Not only have they dismissed your proprietary rights over Brindaban, but moreover, they have made you into a farmer!"

Brindadebi said, "Subal! You are very wise and experienced scholar. You are also the favoured recipient of the affection of both Radha and Krsna. Therefore, why don't you confer with Nandimukhi and make some settlement here? Though Radha and Krsna are naturally very affectionate to each other, They have become engaged in this dispute over Brindaban. Why aren't you able to refute this incongruity of opinions regarding the proprietorship of this kingdom, by citing some logical references from the scriptures? "

To this, Lalita and myself responded by saying, Well done! Well done! Excellent proposal!" Subal then addressed me, "Bayasya! First of all, let Lalita explain how the gopis attained exclusive mastery over the kingdom, and then you can present your viewpoint, regarding the same, in regard to your respective position."

I replied, "Sakhe Subal! Overcome by illusion, I became an offender by cohabiting with all of the celestial nymphs here in Braja, but then, by my acts of atonement I again became purified. Please tell me how it is, that I am now supposed to again bandy words about with these gopis?"

Then Brinda said to me, "Mahasuddha! (Oh most purified one!) Even though some of them may have become defiled by the deadly arrows of Shyamal (Cupid), in the form of your words, they have repeatedly bathed in the most sacred pond of the Empress of Brindaban, according to the method given by Her, and thus come before you, once again pure and chaste. There is no fault if you speak with them. Therefore, Lalite! Please begin."

Lalita, "First of all, let alone his sovereignty over the kingdom of Brindaban, this lying cheat has no connection with Brindaban whatsoever."

Nandimukhi, "How is that?"

Lalita replied, "Since it is that his father's kingdom of Brihadban (Mahaban), where they have always lived, is his inherited property."

Nandimukhi, "What is the proof of that?"

Lalita, "The utterances of the great sages headed by Byasdeb, as recorded in the revealed scriptures (Puranas- first and foremost of which is the Bhagavat)."

Then Subal addressed her, "Lalite! As one of the mediators here, I have something very pertinent to add at this stage. Moreover, I will not be able to utter anything false while looking you in the face. Now my question is this- Have you attained this kingdom of Brindaban simply on the strength of the fact that Brihadban is the kingdom of Sri Krsna? If you have any evidence for this statement then we anxiously await it's mention."

Lalita replied, "Subal! Indeed there are many direct and indirect statements in the Puranas, but of the two, 'directly perceivable proof is the most substantial.' In light of this we should accept the direct evidence."

Nandimukhi, "And what might that be?"

Lalita, "Do I have to say? As if you haven't all perceived it yourselves."

Nandimukhi, "I don't remember anything in particular. Please tell us."

Lalita, "Is there anyone in the three worlds who was not bowled over by the bliss of the Ratnabhishek performed by the wives of the demigods, headed by Savitri (wife of Lord Brahma), all to the accompaniment of an uproarious din produced from beating on drums like the dundubhi?"

Subal, "Lalite! Yes, we all may have witnessed this event, but what you have described can also be observed otherwise. Don't forget that my friend is present here to catch you when you twist the truth too much."

Lalita, "Subal! If this cowherd boy, your two-footed friend there, does in fact imply that there is some untruth here, then why does this Swami still so earnestly long to be initiated with Her mantra, that he might obtain the service of Her lotus feet, She who was ceremoniously installed as the Queen of Brindaban and who continues to sit on the singhasan at Mahajogpith? Had you forgotten about this, his previous statements?"

Nandimukhi laughed, "Lalite! This foppish young buck (prince) is addicted to the drug of love (Madan) and is therefore excessively lusty. Can his incoherent ravings during moments of this drug incited delirium be accepted as proof? I'm afraid we'll need something more solid than this to go on."

Brinda, "Whatever testimony Lalita produces is being refuted by the both of you (Subal and Nandimukhi), who have taken the side of this maddened and intoxicated young son of the king. Consequently, Lalita has become so overpowered by indignation that she seems to have run out of any further noteworthy arguments."

Nandimukhi, "Brinde! Why don't you give us an account of this evidence then?"

Brinda, "Priyasakhi Sri Radha, has, through Her unbounded love, bestowed a form similar to Her very own, upon this forest of Brindaban. Thus this forest itself is now designated as Her own priyasakhi (dear friend)."

Nandi, "How has this forest become as like Her portrait?"

Brinda, "Please listen-

In this most beloved place (Ballabhpur), the golden Jasmine creepers and vines of Campak flowers, distinguished by their exquisite fragrance and loveliness, have attained the very form of priyasakhi Sri Radha's divine body, thus vanquishing creepers of Lightning (Vidyutballi). The lovely, full blown lotus flowers are reflections of Her charming, cheerful lotus face.

As Her eyes flutter, the lotuses tremble in the gentle breeze and the lithe and lissom deer, of slow and gentle gait, are startled and run off into the forest. As Her full, lustrous lips begin to tremble, the bimba fruits hanging in the trees swing to and fro, while Bandhuli flower buds bloom in the morning mist, blessed with fortune, having attained the form of Her glistening, honey-dew lips.

The pleasing form of Her two arms has been captured by all the tremulous creepers in this forest of Brindaban, and the beaks of the parrots have received the eminent form of Her highly raised nose, the best friend of the sesame flowers. The flowers of this forest, all in full bloom, are the personified form of Her laughter, while the sweetly scented buds of the Kunda (one kind of Jasmine) flower, surrounded by black bumblebees infatuated by their fragrance, are blinded by the radiance of Her teeth.

Rows of bumblebees in flight have adopted the pose of Her eyebrows, and the fortunate Bok flowers have attained some of the exquisite beauty and grace of Her brilliant forehead. The tail feathers of the playful peacocks are the image of the decorated braids of Her hair. The splendour of the bowstring of the bow of Cupid has lost heart, after seeing the Munja ornament decorating Her ears.

The fruits of the Bael, Tal (Palm) and Pomegranate trees, are modelled after Her charming breasts, poised as though waiting for the dawn in the eastern sky. The resplendence of Her chest has lent it's eminence to the multitude of golden singhasanas. The jingling of the little bells in the embellished bracelet that goes round Her hips, is echoed in the forest around the girdle of the great mountain (Giri Gobardhan) as the sound of the flute.

Her excellent thighs, able to excite Cupid himself, are mirrored in the trunks of banana trees, shining with liquid beauty. The land-lilies have attained their appearance through association with Her lotus feet. Both flocks of swans, gracefully moving through the water with dextrous ease, as well as lust-intoxicated elephants, see Her gait as their guru.

Hundreds of Jambu fruits, sitting in the trees, are the reflection of the tilok markings on Her face (gopi dots); the sweet songs of the young cuckoos in the Spring, are the echo of Her enchanting words; and the wag-tails, flitting and dancing from one lotus flower to the next, have learned their movements from the corners of Her eyes, that dance within the lake of Her gracious, lotus face.

The waters of the Jamuna are tears of joy produced from loving ecstasies, flowing from Her eyes, and mixing with the collyrium (kajjol) that decorates them. Manas Ganga is the outward manifestation of Her pure and peaceful heart (mind), while the other lakes that adorn this lovely land, are the condensed form of Her perspiration. The multitude of gleaming gunja berries have received their splendour from the lustre of Her body.

Kunkum (Saffron) and Lotus flowers have attained their fragrance through association with Her body; a scent that makes Her co-wives (co-lovers) despondent when it enters their nostrils, but which en gladdens the hearts of Her friends and well-wishers, a scent that, in fact, attracts and entices all the residents of Braja in one way or another.

The radiance of Her body humbles the pride of Mount Meru, crowned with lightning bolts, who worship Her bodily brilliance as the source of their own splendour. Bathing in the shade cast by only a minute fraction of Her lustre, they have attained their own elegance. The land, caves, kunjas (forest bowers), houses made of gold, and mountains of stone, here in this forest of Brindaban, have all been modelled after Her form.

All of the lakes of this forest have attained the form of Her deep navel, and the black snakes that are to be found around these lakes are manifestations of the fine, black bodily hairs that grow above Her navel, like ripples on the surface of a lake. The black crane who subsists on these snakes, trembles when he sees them. The bejewelled desire trees are extensions of Her munificence and the fine hairs of Her body, standing on end, are the benevolent preceptors for all Kadamba flowers.

The gentle and refined people of the three worlds, sing the praises of all of the liberated objects in Brindaban, animate and inanimate. Yet these objects are simply reflections of the beauty of Sri Radha's form and different bodily limbs. Aha! The lustre of that body is constantly described by Uma, Rati and Lakkhi, among the assembly of the heavenly damsels. The desire trees and creepers of Brindaban bestow an abundance of delightful pleasures, far exceeding even that which is available in the spiritual sky, in the abodes of the Lord of Lakkhidebi, which are virtually overflowing with ecstasy. Their effulgent presence is as evident as that of the moon, existent within the multitude of universes, thus they have attained a measure of the unmeasured fame of Sri Radha. In this way we can clearly perceive how this forest of Brindaban is said to be Her priyasakhi (dear friend).


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