After finishing the chapter with its commentary, we follow with a look at some of the other lilas described for this time period in the two other major Gaudiya works on the ashta-kala lila, namely Kṛṣṇāhnika-kaumudī of Karnapur Goswami, and Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta by Vishwanath. Elsewhere these have been supplemented by songs of the Mahajans or Siddha Krishna Das Baba’s Guṭikā and Bhāvanāmṛta-sāra-saṅgraha.
Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: This chapter has listed some of the dancing and music skills that the Vraja sundaris use to delight Krishna. Sri Vrindavan’s Rasa-sthali is the stage for the exhibition of the highest forms of music, song and dance within either material or spiritual worlds, so it is no wonder that the gopis’ talents far exceed those of anyone within Lord Brahma’s kingdom. For when Raseshwari Vinodini Rai dances, hundreds of newer and newer rāgas and rāgiṇīs are created at every second by the śruti-madhura jingling of her anklebells alone! And speaking of her dancing, as Rai Nitambini’s enchanting form exhibits its dancing prowess, even Madana Mohan faints from the high billowing pleasure waves within his ananda sindhu!
Amongst all of Sri Bhagavan’s unlimited forms, his ananta rūpas, Sri Nava Kishor Natavara Shyamasundar is the best. And of all Shyam’s bhaktas, the gopis are the best. And of his numerous lilas with the gopis, the Rasa lila is the mukuta-mani. Perhaps this is why Sri Vishwanath Chakravartipada states that the Rasa Pancadhyaya or five chapters concerning the Rasa lila are the Bhagavata’s pañca-prāṇa (five life airs).
Of the many other versions describing the Rasa lila, that of Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta (KBA) stands apart as unique. So before we continue with Govinda-līlāmṛta’s Rasa episode, let’s have a look into Srila Chakravartipada’s remarkable overviews:
As we left (at the end of the 18th sarga of KBA), Radha had mistaken Krishna for a tamal tree which led into a thrilling Yugala Milan. And after rati keli, Radharani requested Krishna to meet with her sakhis too. But meanwhile, Radha was re-dressed by the manjaris to appear like a vāsa-sajjikā nāyikā. A ‘ vāsa-sajjikā nāyikā is the heroine in the mood of waiting for the arrival of her lover in the kunja. Thus when the sakhis returned, she pretended that Krishna still hadn’t come and teased them upon seeing their marks of pleasure on their bodies (KBA 19.3-6).
At that moment rasamaya Shyamasundar comes into the sakhis’ assembly, and exclaims, “Hey alis! Just hear about Radha’s unusual behavior! Today she boldly approached me saying: ‘Hey Priyatama! Just embrace me and kiss my lips to your full satisfaction! My heart is burning with the fire of kāma, please extinguish it!’
“Oh, I was astonished to hear such forward words spoken by Vāmā Radhika! But then she threw her patience and shyness into thick mud of the Yamuna River and tightly embraced me! She even pulled me on to the bed of flowers, devastated me in Kandarpa’s battle and then threw me out of the kunja! Thus I’ve come to take your shelter.”
Hearing Krishna’s words, Radha is embarrassed and pulls her orana (veil) over her face to cover it. But Lalita refuses to believe it and scoffs, “Hey Krishna! I think you’re lying!”
Krishna: “Hay Lalite! I swear I’m telling the truth! Just ask your priya sakhi yourself!”
Lalita: ‘Radhe! Is this true ?”
Radha: “I can’t remember what I said to the enchanting tamal tree.” (Radha’s answer brings a soft, sweet smile to the sakhis lotus-faces).
But then Krishna goes on: “Hey sakhis! Radha’s solitary request for surata keli isn’t so astonishing, because during the Sharadiya Rasa, where there were thousands of other Vraja ramanis present, she asked me, ‘Hey Krishna! Just satiate me with your adharamrita (nectar-kisses)!’ (BhP 10.29.35)—Oh, l’ll never forget those words of Radha’s!” (KBA 19.11)
Then Radharani answers, “Hey Krishna! I became dazed then—and the cause was your seducing vamshi. So if I had the vamshi I’d make the world go mad, too! Hey Ramani-Mohana! I’ll bet that I could mesmerize Lalita, the other sakhis and even you by playing your vamshi.” (19.12)
Hearing Radha’s assertion, Krishna replies, “So here, take it,” and placed the vamshi in Radha’s hand. Then he leaves with the sakhis to begin an amusing, new pastime. (19.13)
But Radha thinks, “Except for Vraja Raja Kumara, who else can play the vamshi?” Thus she starts rubbing black deer musk over her body to become śyāṁāṅginī. She ties her hair in a topknot and places a peacock feather above it. She even puts on a yellow dhoti, tying it in attractive folds. Then standing in a lalita-tribhaṅga stance, Radha places the vamshi to her lips and begins playing.
And what an amusing thing happens! When Madana Mohan’s mohini becomes Madana Mohan—then even Madana Mohan cannot contain himself! He loses his puruṣābhimāna or male identity and becomes like a sundari ramani! Thus Krishna covers his entire body with kunkum to become Gaurangi. He puts on Radha’s ornaments, dress and tilak, and like a Krishna-mad gopa kishori he joins Lalita and the other sakhis who are now hurrying to see Vamshi Vadana Radha! (KBA 19.14)
But just as in Krishna’s Sharadiya Rasa, upon meeting them, Krishna-clad Radha dissuades the gopis: “Oh chaste gopis! Your fame and beauty is coveted throughout the three worlds—but why have you suddenly come here? And why are you wandering in this dark forest? Are you hoping to received the love of some sundara puruṣa? Oh well, listen, oh slender ones! You should have thought twice before coming here, so why don’t you all return back home now? Isn’t it the duty of a chaste wife to faithfully serve her husband? And haven’t you come here just to gratify your kama? So if that is the case, you can satisfy that urge with your husbands at home.” (19.15-16)
Then just as in the Sharadiya Rasa when the gopis become perplexed, shed tears, and mark the ground with their restless toenails upon hearing Krishna’s neglectful words—Krishna, Lalita and the other gopis behave in the same way and answer: “Oh Vibho (‘Unlimited One’)! Are such cruel words befitting you? Hey prema-sindho! We’re burning in the fire of Madana desire! And thus we’ve come here to seek relief by seeing your cooling moon-like face. Our creeper of desire has been nurtured for many days by the soothing nectar-tune of your madhura vamshi. Oh please, don’t be cruel by sending us away.”
So, as in the Sharadiya Rasa, Krishna-clad Radha smiles to remove Radha-clad Krishna’s distress and becomes the ramaṇa! But during rati-keli Krishna acts exactly like Radha to astonish Vrinda and the others! And seeing Krishna behaving just like vāmā Radha, and Radha behaving like a ramaṇī-lampaṭa-nāgara (a playboy type who is attracted to all women), the sakhis lose themselves in an ocean of wonder! But aho! Krishna-clad Radha comes to embrace and kiss them too! And seeing this, ecstatic tears pour from Vrinda’s eyes as she deems her life a success! (KBA 19.15-20)
But as in the Sharadiya Rasa, Krishna-clad Radha suddenly disappears with Radha-clad Krishna. Seeing themselves destitute and alone in the forest, tortured by the absence of their Lord, the sakhis begin searching for them. They even question the forest trees and latas… but at last, when arriving at a secluded nikunja mandir, they peek through the foliage and discover Radha and Krishna enjoying rati-keli! But still in keeping with the Sharadiya Rasa Lila script, they continued to act as though they were in distress. (19.21)
At the keli’s aftermath, Krishna-clad Radha takes Radha clad Krishna by the hand and comes out to enjoy vana-vihara. And as they wander through the forest, Krishna-clad Radha picks flowers and makes ornaments to decorate Radha clad Krishna After a while, Radha clad Krishna tells Krishna-clad Radha: “Oh Priye! I’m feeling tired now, so please pick me up and carry me wherever you like.” (19.22)
But then Krishna-clad Radha disappears! Thus the Radha-clad Madhava begins to lament and wet the ground with her (his) tears. And later, Lalita and the others arrive to give solace. They also shed tears as they join Radha clad Madhava to sing Krishna’s guṇa kīrtana. (19.23)
“Hey Priyatama! Please come back and make us happy. When we hold your caraṇa-kamala upon our hard breasts, we gently do so as to spare you pain. But now we are lamenting because surely the forest’s pebbles and sharp grass are piercing you as you wander around!” (19.24)
As Radha clad Madhava sings these songs with the gopis, suddenly Govinda-clad Radha appears in brilliant pītāmbara attire, with the sweet smile of the divine Krishna who is the one who attracts even the most attractive god of desire!
Thus seeing Radha Krishna together one might guess, “Has Krishna transferred his beautiful shyama effulgence to Radha after accepting her golden bodily complexion? And similarly, did Krishna’s pītāmbara become friends with Radha’s nīlāmbarī through the exchange? (19.25)
But meanwhile, one gopi takes hold of Hari-clad Radha’s hand, another holds his feet, and another places her trembling hand on his shoulder. Then as Radha-clad Hari raises her eyebrows to scorn them, her intriguing mood completely stupefies them! And Krishna-clad Radha even sheds tears! (19.26)
Vrinda Devi says to the two of them, “Hey Radha! How you have become victorious in deceiving Krishna and making him lose his identity. And Krishna! Hasn’t the goddess of victorious fortune, Jaya Lakshmi herself, embraced you after you took on Radha’s bhāva, which is beyond understanding? But what’s the need to go on playing like this? Hey Vrishabhanu Kumari! Just place the murali back in Krishna’s hands!”
Radha complies, but when he receives it, Krishna is astonished! “You mean that I’m not Radhika?” he asks. (19.27-28)
When Radha accepts Krishna’s bhāva, and Krishna accepts Radha’s bhāva, this is called their paraspara-svabhāvāḍhya-līlā. Then their natures and behaviors are completely interchanged. Some other examples are seen in Radha Krishna’s first madhyāhna-līlā in Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta and Kṛṣṇāhnika-kaumudī’s madhu-pāna-līlā. Yet moreover, Sri Chaitanya himself performs many pastimes in the paraspara-svabhāvāḍhya fashion in Radha-bhāva.
More on Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta’s Rasa lila is coming in the next chapter.