The Glorious Month of Damodar, Part 26


Nov 01, 2014 — CANADA (SUN) — A drama taking placing in the month of Kartika, by Srila Raghunath das Goswami, in four parts.

Mukta Caritram (History of the Pearl)

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."

When the gopis overheard me speaking to Madhumangal, their faces all lit up with sweet smiles. Now Radha lifted up her head from her hiding place and while looking at me, Visakha and the other sakhis, said, "He Candrabali-kelikuranga! (The Deer who plays with Candrabali)! Tistha! Tistha!" [lit.- Stop! i.e. Be quiet! Shut your mouth!] To hear Her chastise me with her gentle voice caused my face also to brighten with a smile.

Visakha however looked at me askance while saying, "He Brajadhurtta dhrista! (Oh You arrogant knave of Braja!) I think its time for you to go now. Go on!" So saying she entered amongst the other sakhis.

Now they turned to my friend, "He Subal! Forget this clown. If you are at all desirous of selling some pearls then show us the merchandise and then after accepting proper payment, present us with the goods. Otherwise, we're going home. We can also arrange to have pearls brought from Mathura."

At this point Subal decided it was time to show them the pearls so he opened up the treasure chests, while saying to me, "Priya bayasya! These pearls are priceless. Even if they sell their whole herds of cows they still won't have enough to purchase even one pearl. Moreover, they know nothing other than you and your loving affection. Therefore, just forget their previous miserly behaviour. Knowing me to be your faithful friend, I can now distribute these pearls with your permission, so much cherished by all of them, for a nominal price or for free."

I replied, "Sakhe Subal! No, no, no. That we cannot do. Because we are now businessmen. Anyway, what can I do? I should also support what you say I suppose. So, this small price that I am asking, you please accept it from them and then you can give them the pearls. No, come to think of it, I have heard from others that you sometimes accept bribes and in this way manage to spoil so much of my profit from customs duties. I had better accept the payment myself."

Subal laughed, "Very well. But you should allow them to choose the pearls of their choice, and then after seeing the ones they have chosen, you can name your price." I replied, "Fine. They can place the pearls of their choice before me and I will then tell them the price."

Subal, "Priya Bayasya! Whatever these gopis are humbly offering; if you kindly concede to accept that then let that be the arrangement."

I replied, "He Subal! Just tell me. What are they offering? If it is suitable then I will accept."

Subal said, "Their proposal is this-

'Since Madhupuri is quite far away, it will take us a couple of days to collect all the goods for payment. The problem is that our elders are continually expressing their distress at having lost all their pearl ornaments and chastising us for this. Knowing you to be a very agreeable fellow, we have abandoned our shyness to come to this lonely place. Therefore, we request that you now present the pearls to us as a loan which we will repay, and let us go from here very quickly. We will repay the loan within one or two days according to whatever procedure is desired by you. If your friend doesn't believe us then you please vouch for us.'

"Knowing that you can place Your confidence in them as truthful persons, I recommend that you trust them. Go ahead and give them the pearls now, knowing that you will collect the goods, with interest, very soon. This will also greatly increase your affectionate bonds with them."

I laughed, "He Subal. You are extremely gullible. You know absolutely nothing about their dealings. If these gopis, who are like female dancers in a drama of diplomacy, decide to play the game by absconding with the pearls, and then, without making any payment, take shelter within the walls of the great fort of their husbands, surrounded by the mountains of their elders, then what will you do?!"

Subal replied, "Sakhe! Don't say that. I'm certain they wouldn't do such a thing. Or even if they do, then I will go there, taking with me these beautiful forest peacocks and cuckoos, to tell their husbands that these gopis promised to pay for the pearls- 'with the payment of the nectar of their lips and fond embraces.' I will frighten those gopas in this way so that the gopis husbands and elders will send them to you immediately for making payment."

To this Madhumangal angrily replied, "Ore Subal! You are Subal (endowed with auspicious strength) in name only, and a male in name only. Indeed, this is not the first time that I have noticed your appearance to be just like that of the weaker sex (girls). Anyway, it is just befitting of your timid nature that you can think of nothing better to do than to blow some hot air at the guardians of the gopis. Better you should just sit down here while I dress myself for battle. After surrounding the cows and buffaloes, along with the gopis' husbands, I will bring them here and confine them where they can be guarded within Nandiswarpur. Then the gopis will be forced to come themselves to liberate their husbands and cows, by bringing with them the proper payment."

These words of Madhumangal greatly pained me and so I asked him, "Pransakha Madhumangal! (My dear friend Madhumangal!) What kind of counsel is this you are giving? Even though these Brijbasis may belong to the aboriginal classes of men known as Bhilla and Pulinda, they are still dearer to me than my dearest. Moreover they are our family relations and our brothers, non-different than my very self. Consequently this advice of yours in most inappropriate. I am a little inclined to support Subal's statements except for the fact that initiating a system of exchange amongst one's dearest friends and relatives will make it very difficult to maintain our friendship and honesty. This is mentioned in the Smriti sastra:

'The practice of mutual giving and receiving of presents among friends should be curtailed. Though performed with love and affection it becomes the cause of the extinction of love itself and will gradually be followed by quarrel and dispute.'

Therefore, let the current price be paid and only then can the merchandise be carried away."

The gopis now flared up, making a show of their false anger, and while looking at Subal addressed him thusly," Ore! Kautilya paradarsin Subal! (Oh most expert amongst double-dealing hypocrites!) You have brought us here only for the purpose that you can enjoy our vexation in being deceived and disappointed by all of you. Therefore, go ahead with your plan to build up your kingdom by doing business in pearls, but we are leaving!"

As they were preparing to go Subal approached them in a very amiable disposition and spoke very softly to Lalita, "Sakhi Lalite! This practice of giving extended credit and the taking on of debts [on your side] will prove in the long run to be nothing more than the cause of the loss of love between friends. Only due to fear of this our dear friend has concluded that without ascertaining the proper price for the goods and the means of receiving that amount he is unable to hand over the merchandise. I have now especially understood this point, so there is no recourse for you all but to turn around, and then, after first fixing the price, you can consider how the payment will be made."

Humbly submitting the facts of the matter to them in this way, Subal brought the gopis back. Bringing them before me he addressed me, "Bayasya! Dear Friend! This time, without joking, please determine the proper price and inform us of that."

I replied, "Sakhe Subal! To whom should I quote the price first?"

Subal, "Since Lalita is the chief amongst them please tell us what payment You will receive from her?"

With a playful smile on my lips I replied, "If the chief amongst this battalion, Sri Lalitajiu, is able, by exhibiting the prowess of the most vigorous amongst us, to even once pin me (the lion among men) down in a wrestling match, in hand-to-hand combat, then I will come before her as a woman. Appearing just like a submissive and dependent wife, I will sing the glories of her manliness and virility. I will in this way become her servant. This is the small payment I will receive from her."

Subal laughed as he replied, "He Gokul Bir! (Oh Champion of Gokul!) For the purpose of humbling the mountain of pride of Debraj Indra, who had become so puffed up by his accumulated opulence and power, you held up, here in Braja, on the tip of the little finger of your left lotus hand, which is as soft as the outer covering of a lotus seed, Gobardhan Giri, for a period of seven days and seven nights, as though he was no more than a bee perched there. Now how will Lalita, who is softer than the softest young girl, contest in battle such a wild and woolly (untameable) character as You?"

Madhumangal spoke up, "Subal! How is it you are so highly acclaiming His prowess of pre-adolescence (pauganda), when the Desire Tree of Kamdeb (namely Sri Krsna Himself) has, by being sprinkled with the nectar of fresh youth, now extended it's branches and creepers in all directions, far surpassing it's previous size and beauty?"

Subal replied, "And how have you come to know all this?"

Madhumangal, "Well, as Krsna previously gave much perturbation to his enemies, He has now also, without any difficulty whatsoever, cut away at the Kandarpa Parbat (hills of Kamdeb) with the weapons of His nails, though they be very difficult to approach and equally as incomprehensible. In this battle however, He has known some fatigue."

Thereupon I laughed as I addressed Subal, "My friend Subal! You have spoken truthfully. Most of the time and in most cases I am as you have described me. But not in front of this girl Radha. Since from the very beginning, in the most forceful and intense manner, this Radha, Who is so strangely wonderful in all Her diverse ways and so wise and intelligent, has on many occasions, simply with Her eyebrows which are like two fierce bows, completely stunned me. By Her menacing shouts I become easily paralysed. Therefore how can She be described as a member of the weaker sex?"

Hearing my statement, Lalita smiled as she looked towards the other gopis. Though she felt great ecstasy she concealed it and spoke as if she was absolutely infuriated, "Aye Vidushak Subal! (You clown Subal!) It seems that you also have become devoted to the cause of, nay, gone completely over to the camp of the friend of Madhumangal, the Lord of hypocrisy, the greatest buffoon and cheat of Gokul [this could also be taken to indicate Candrabali], since we find that you have brought us before him only to cast us into the ocean of affliction and frustration, chaffing us as the butt of your jokes."

Using phrases such as this, Lalita cast her eyes on me in a very crooked fashion. As though rebuking me, she sarcastically repeated, "Come on you sweet little sakhis, you simple-hearted gopi girls!"

Having said her piece she was preparing to leave, along with all the other gopis, when who should arrive on the scene but the disciple of Bhagavati Paurnamasi, Nandimukhi. Judging from the presence of everyone, that they were all about to leave, she addressed Lalita, "Sakhi Lalite! Simply due to a few jocular remarks from this sportive connoisseur of amusement, Sri Brajendranandan, how is it that you are now prepared to disregard your real purpose and leave this place? I beseech you, tarry with me for a few moments, for,-

'In the face of insult I keep my pique (resentment) behind me, And for the purpose of realising my objectives I always remain alert, No matter what anyone says or how much treachery and cunning they apply.'

In this way, by the principles of logic, we should guide our lives, tolerating any imposture due to excessive mockery and harassment. Maintaining patience and repose, one should always remain diligent regarding one's duties, that they may be carried through to fulfilment. It is my solemn oath to you, though you may find it hard to accept, that it is His very jest and raillery, acting as though a go-between (mediator), which will in the end bestow these pearls upon you all. Otherwise, if Sri Krsna, who is as you know very conceited and sensitive, at all recollects your parsimonious behaviour, then it will no longer be possible for Him to apply His humorous methods. Therefore, after hearing the asking price for all those present, you should adopt whatever behaviour is proper and civil, and in this way realise your ends."

Having spoken thusly, Nandimukhi forcibly caught hold of Lalita and brought her, along with the other gopis, near the mountain of pearls. Then she addressed me as follows, "He Gokuljuvraj! (He Prince of Gokul!) Along with hundreds of her blessings, the worshipful Bhagavati sends you a message."

I replied, "Nandimukhi! I hope that the venerable Bhagavati Debi is keeping well. Please tell me her order, that I may felicitate my soul with the nectar of her good instructions." Nandimukhi replied, "You are the Master of vast wealth, the son of the Sovereign of Braja. All of these darling young girls here, beginning with Sri Radha, are the favourite objects of our affection, and they are also extremely and continuously devoted to You who are of long life. Therefore, kindly glance upon us by giving up this excessive persistence of Yours and accept whatever they are capable of giving, a value within the realms of practicality. Then satisfy us by bestowing upon them these most cherished objects of theirs, the pearls. Accept such words of solace as these, spoken by Bhagavati. Give up your facetious moods, and after presenting these young girls with their pearls, send them on their way home. Demonstrate to the whole of Gokul that you are the most magnanimous bestower of happiness within its realms."

To this I admirably replied, "Nandimukhi! Previously, when we received Bhagavati's order, Subal accepted it as a bouquet of flowers. Placing it on our heads, we at that time discarded all ideas about exorbitant prices. Only in the case of Lalita some nominal fee was ascertained in collaboration with her, but now if she says that she wants even that amount to be reduced then she need only say so. I am prepared to give up that amount also."

Hearing my reply, Nandimukhi saw that all the sakhis were smiling except for Lalita, whose lips were trembling and whose eyebrows were crooked up into quite a frown. Laughing quietly she addressed me, "Brajajuvaraj! (Oh Prince of Braja!) I have heard from them all about your nominal prices. But now it is time to leave all joking aside. After having determined the appropriate prices for everyone here, you can quote them before me now."

I replied, "Nandimukhi! After consulting with the oldest amongst these gopis, you can just tell me the price that you have agreed upon."

Nandimukhi, "The usual system is that the Master of the wealth should first fix the amount. Therefore you tell us your asking price."

Thereupon I replied, "If this AnuRadha (Lalita) can give up her false prestige and rise up, as has Radha, like the Lord of the Night (the moon) in the pathway of the sky of my heart, then amongst these two, Radha and AnuRadha, whosoever is pre-eminent in their passionate desire to dawn in my heart, She will naturally receive the greatest reciprocation from me. Then, along with them, or individually, they should all very slowly and gently kiss the moon of my mouth with their lotus-soft lips. This is the only price I ask."

To hear these words of mine I noticed that the gopis within this forest bower, headed by Radha, Visakha and the other gopis, were knotting their eyebrows in terrible frowns expressing great anger. So I inquired, "Nandimukhi! Why are they getting so angry to hear these words of mine, which are so propitious as regards their own individual fulfilment?"

Nandimukhi replied, "He Sundor! (Oh most beautiful one!) Except for the Lord of the Night of Dark Gokul (Gokulshyam nishapati), these other married, chaste girls, consider it to be the sign of great sin, simply to touch another man, what to speak of kissing the moon of his mouth. For this reason they are angry."

Having heard the narration of such pleasure pastimes as these, Satyabhama now addressed Krsna, "He Nath! (Oh my Lord!) When enumerating the gopis, who are like stars in the skies, the name of Lalita was left out, who is likewise Radha's own, and while under the influence of excessive mirth and mockery, the name of AnuRadha was used. It is perfectly reasonable that the witty Radha and Visakha felt enraged, when reflecting upon the use of their own names. Yet why did Lalita become angry at hearing Your amusing words?"

Krsna replied, "Priye! (My dear!) Another name of Lalita is AnuRadha."

Satyabhama, "Jadabendra! (Oh Lord of the Jadus!) My mind has been abundantly satisfied by hearing the narration of these unprecedented pastimes, but not to the point of satiation. Please therefore continue to describe to me these events in all their detail." Krsna continued, "At this point, while gazing upon the moon-like face of Campaklata, I caused the pearls belonging to her fall through my fingers as I said,

"Nandimukhi! I have suspected for a long time now, that this dear sakhi of yours, Campaklata, has attained supernatural powers from some spiritually adept sage." Nandimukhi, "And how did you arrive at this conclusion?"

I replied, "Since we see that this Campak vine, amongst the other inanimate objects, though it is bent down by its brace of very large fruits, is still quite easily able to move about, hither and thither. Therefore let this Campak (golden-coloured) garland grace my chest, (which is like a beautiful black cloud), with its sweet fragrance. By my mystic powers, I will without delay, as per the order of this Campak garland, then adopt the heroic form of a fine garland of emeralds about her neck, and as well, the Mahendranil gem suspended between her two breasts."

Subal spoke up, "Priya sakha! (My dear friend!) All of us have perceived the mystic powers of Campaklata by virtue of her ability to move about as she does and so forth. However, no one has, at any time or place, witnessed the powers of yours that you speak of. On account of this, if you are powerless to immediately accomplish this difficult task that you have described, then we will be the laughing-stock of all those present. Therefore, I hope you can understand, after carefully considering the matter at hand, that it is incumbent upon you now to demonstrate your abilities."

To this I replied, "Subal! Though I demonstrate my mystic powers, still you cannot see! What can I do about that?!"

Nandimukhi addressed me, "Madhuranga! (Oh You of graceful limbs and delicious appearance!) Please tell us. We are exceedingly desirous to hear all about the wonderful accomplishments effected by Your supernatural powers; when, where and how You performed these miraculous achievements."

Thereupon I replied, "During the occasion of a pilgrimage to Ambikabon, when my father was attacked by a large python, simply by the touch of my toe that serpent was transformed into the king of the Vidyadhar race (of demigods), fully decorated with all ornaments. I held up like an umbrella, the chief of all mountains, Girindra Gobardhan, with only one hand and for a full week. When Subal and my other friends became bewitched by the poison of Kaliya I brought them back to clear consciousness simply by my glance. On many occasions I transformed great forest fires into nectar and then very easily drank them up with one swallow. Is there anyone in Gokul who hasn't seen these and the many other manifestations of my mystic potency? Hence, what is the need for me to expand further upon these topics?"

Having heard these and other similar words of mine, the following words now emanated from the sweetly smiling face of Lalita, "Nandimukhi! This disagreeable lecher of yours has spoken truthfully but those days have passed. All of these miraculous activities were performed due to the potency of celibacy (brahmacarya). Now-a-days however, as a result of continuously enjoying wanton pastimes with the the wife of Gobardhan Malla, [Candrabali], servant of the malignant, malevolent, malicious, murderous and cruel Kangsa, as well as her friends Padma, Saibya and others amongst the beautiful young girls of Braja, his brahmacarya has been vitiated and his mystic powers have all vanished."

To this I replied with a smile,

"doshmadhye ganna nahi hoy tejiyan | sarbabhug bahni hoy tahar praman ||

'High-spiritedness is not counted amongst faults. All-omnivorous fire is the proof of this.' You are only able to speak as you have because you cannot understand the true meaning of this verse. Therefore, listen carefully as I explain it in detail-

'Fire does not lose any of its vigour by consuming whatever it may. On the contrary, it's strength increases by doing so. Similarly, through the sweet satisfaction of constantly enjoying conjugal mellows with beautiful young girls like you, my mystic potencies are kindled, constantly flourishing forth brighter and brighter."

Now Madhumangal spoke up, "Lalite! Our dear friend has spoken correctly. If His powers hadn't increased, then how was it possible that He planted pearls in the ground and got them to sprout? Not only that! They all grew luxuriously and produced such an abundance of blooming flowers and fruits."

Lalita laughed, "Venerable Madhumangal! Was this in fact due to the influence of your dear friend's supernatural potencies?"

Madhumangal, "If it was not due to the potency of his power, then whose was it?! Lalita, "It was the potency of the soil of Brindaban!"

Radha spoke softly to Herself, "Lalite! Say that it was due to the influence of association with young girls!"

Visakha spoke out, "Aye! This has all come about as the result of his association with young women!"

I replied, "Then how is it that your pearls turned into sticker bushes (thorny trees)?" Lalita, "Aye Catursiromani! (Oh most clever one, crest jewel amongst the most cunning!) Can pearls ever become hurtful (thorny)?"

I said, "Then why weren't pearls produced?"

Lalita, "On account of the defective condition of the soil or some imperfection in the seeds."

Radha again, off to the side, "Lalite! Say that no pearls were produced because of the properties of the particular field!"

Then Visakha spoke out, expressing the desires of Radha.

Nandimukhi, "Lalite! I think Visakha has something here!"

Lalita, "How is that?"

Nandimukhi, "Since we see that the poisonous creeper, which is always and in all ways the emblem of total freedom, produces pearls on barren land, yet the heavenly creepers, illuminated by feelings of continuous rapturous delight, produced from hearts over-flowing with an abundance of prem, their very being permeated with the ambrosia of pure devotion, within these fields and meadows of Brindaban, saturated with juicy sweet dew, are reduced to cowering in fear of the wild animals who happen to wander into these lands. For this reason they couldn't produce any pearls."

Lalita laughed, "Visakhe! You had already expressed to us that it was through his association with young women that he was successful in his garden pastimes. Please expand upon this for us."

Visakha, "Even a great yogi who has ascended the yoga ladder and is thus on the path of sense control, if he associates with those who are fallen, becomes himself likewise so and is thus degraded. What then can be said concerning the matter of his negligible spiritual perfections? Similarly, these pearls, through only even a moments association with those, who in body, mind and words, are thoroughly addicted to women, and of the darker sort, very witty and humorous, and often to be seen with a flute in their possession, [by such association, these pearls] have become pregnant within the womb of the earth, and their full implication within the snare of sungsar (family life) is realised by the sprouting up of so many of their offspring on the surface of the earth."

(To be continued…)


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