Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Vrindavan: Today, Tomorrow, Yesterday

Old entrance to Bhagavat Niwas.
I don't go out all that much, but whenever I do, the transformations that are taking place in Vrindavan on a day-to-day basis are constantly at the forefront of my perceptions. The other evening I cycled the length of the Chattikara Road from NH2 to the house and found it quite amazing to see how rapidly everything is mutating.

But that is quite the road at night now. New buildings -- hotels, ashrams, guesthouses, apartment buildings, residential developments, temples -- popping up everywhere, many of them looking quite posh in the night with their glass and polished granite facades and colored neon signage. With the dark night backdrop obscuring the old Vrindavan from view, one could be forgiven for thinking we were actually in at least the 20th century.

I went into the huge Akshaya Patra complex and attended arati there. It is a separate ISKCON, just a couple of centimeters different enough to be a "not-ISKCON", with a personality quite different from Krishna Balaram and yet certainly a brother or cousin. And so it is with all these sects and sampradayas that make Vrindavan their holy center: all brothers and sisters and cousins, all with their own unique personalities, some crazy, some avaricious, so many saintly, so many talented, so many beautiful.

I am old enough that I have seen 35 years of Vrindavan. There are many of Prabhupada's disciples who have been here longer and seen more than me. And indeed it was Prabhupada I thought of as I cycled along, observing the new world of Vrindavan. Because, after all, more than anyone he is the architect of the "new" Vrindavan, just like Rupa and Sanatan Goswami, and all the other Vaishnava families built their temples and made Vrindavan the holy center it is. They attracted people from all over India, and now we have this: People coming from all over the world to see this amazing place.

We really have to make sure it stays amazing. But of course it cannot but be amazing. Because it IS Krishna's own place. Even though it is undergoing huge changes, there is an inevitability about it and people like Rupa and Sanatan or Srila Prabhupada, acted on history to push it in that direction.

The day after I wrote the above, I went -- completely by accident, I must admit -- to Bhagavata Nivasa. I was walking past and noticed that speeches were being given and realized that it was their annual utsava in honor of Ramakrishna Pandit Babaji.

The speakers reminisced about the old days -- not so long ago really. There is one senior Brijbasi, Bhagavatpada Gautam, who is perhaps (with the exception of Haridas Shastri) the only person left alive who actually had darshan of Pandit Baba. He was only a child when Pandit Baba entered the nitya-lila.

Bhagavatpada Gautam is from a family that owned a lot of the land in the area, such as Sheetal Chaya. So he has watched the changes -- and profited from them -- but at the same time it is hard not to be nostalgic about the world in which Ramkrishna Pandit Baba was royalty, a Maharaja. He could still live like the six Goswamis, but such a lifestyle is now gone and for all intents and purposes impossible in the new Vrindavan.

There are still pictures of the Raman Reti area as it was. It still had not changed much even in the early 70s when the Krishna Balaram temple first started construction, or even in 1975 when I first set foot here. All that is long gone now.

As always, there was a lot of talk about Pandit Baba's legendary ascetism and dedication to the life of bhajan. He owned nothing but his kaupin and his karua. One sadhu told the story of how the king of Scindia came to have darshan of the great saint, no doubt accompanied by his entourage, and after an uncomfortable silence, asked, "Is there anything I can do to serve you?"

Pandit Baba answered, "Yes, please never come back here again."

Pandit Baba wold not take service from anyone, not even his younger, renounced followers. One speaker told a story of Kripa Sindhu Baba, the founder of Bhagavata Niwas, which lies just across the street from Dauji Bagicha (the current home of the Vrindavan Research Institute). One day Kripa Sindhu Baba was incredibly thirsty and he could not slate his thirst though drink to his fill. Finally, he had the idea that it was Pandit Baba who was thirsty and that somehow he was experiencing his thirst.

Now Baba did not keep a jug of water in his hut, but only when he came out after his long hours of bhajan would he walk all the way to Baraha Ghat to the nearest sweet-water well and fetch water. Baraha Ghat would have been a fair distance on the Parikrama Marg to the north of Dauji Bagicha.

On this day, however, when Pandit Baba came out into the light, Kripa Sindhu has obtained a big clay jug (gharaa) and filled it with water so that he would not have to go all that trouble just for a drink. But rather than being pleased, Baba was irritated because he was so free of the desire for any possessions that he did not wish to even have a clay pot in his hut.

He inspired Gauranga Dasji, and Kripasindhu Dasji, and many others also, even from other sampradayas. He encouraged everyone to follow the tradition they were in. He could give each sampradaya's siddhanta and convince them to accept it. Even though he had very strong ideas about Gaudiya siddhanta also.

So this is the guy that Siddhanta Saraswati said was a kanishtha. Who knows? If I follow Ramkrishna Baba, I would say, "Follow your GM siddhanta. Do bhajan according to your sampradaya's tradition."

But it may be that for these bhajananandi traditions to survive... well it is hard to see how they will. At least not in the town of Vrindavan. They will all just have to build air-conditioned marble rooms suitable for international spiritual tourism.

I am not even saying it is bad. That is what is happening, that is the way it is going. The world is forcing change on everyone and the forces of time are not gentle. Religion has to adjust to the circumstances like everyone else, like every other department of human existence.

In another anecdote, one speaker recounted that when Pandit Baba was living in Raghava's gupha in Puchari. I once spent three months there in 1980, just a few meters away from this "cave," basically a hole dug in the side of Govardhan, helped by big rocks, where he did his tapasya and bhajan. When I was there it was still empty, semi-desert sandy with many trees, big ones. Like Vrindavan, the Govardhan parikrama has completely changed since the walk was paved, but you can still find spots here and there where the old mood still prevails somewhat.

One day Pandit Baba was chanting the Holy Names and suddenly got the desire to learn how to play the mridanga and sing nice padavali kirtan. This inspired him to go to Govinda Kund to learn from one of the Vaishnavas living there. But after spending three years at it, he managed to learn only one bol, tere ke tinaka te or something, and only one verse from a padavali describing Krishna's beauty. His problem was that he would get so absorbed in that meditation that he could not go on any further.

For three years he remained stuck on that. Finally some older Vaishnava told him it was pointless for him to learn kirtan, and so he gave it up and went back to nāma-japa and līlā-smaraṇa.

Baba would get so absorbed in līlā-smaraṇa that even though he had memorized the whole Govinda-līlāmṛta, he would sometimes forget what pastime came next. So he would prod Kripa Sindhu Baba, who had also memorized Govinda-līlāmṛta, and ask "What's next? What's next?"

Achyutalal Bhatts was there, as he is every year. More than anyone, perhaps, he spoke enthusiastically and authoritatively to the essence of why we were gathered there to take the dust of Pandit Baba's feet. Taking the first verse of Smaraṇa-maṅgala-stotra as his inspiration, he made his short speech a prayer for lobha or eagerness for līlā-smaraṇa. This verse, which is a vandana Krishna's aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā, is the seed from which the Govinda-līlāmṛta grew.

Generally speaking, those who come in the Gaudiya Math tradition have a somewhat one-sided view of Vaishnava history and usually describe the time as one of complete decadence, but in fact, the improved communications installed by the British meant that Vaishnavas in Bengal had much easier access to Braj. From the middle of the 19th century, the search for manuscripts and their translation and publication meant that extensive information was available about the sampradaya's bhajanānandī tradition, including the hagiographies of the practitioners of līlā-smaraṇa. Ramkrishna Pandit Baba was at the forefront of this interest as he more than anyone personified this ascetic devotional lifestyle.

śrī-rādhā-prāṇa-bandhoś caraṇa-kamalayoḥ keśa-śeṣādy-agamyā
yā sādhyā prema-sevā vraja-carita-parair gāḍha-laulyaika-labhyā |
sā syāt prāptā yayā tāṁ prathayitum adhunā mānasīm asya sevāṁ
bhāvyāṁ rāgādhva-pānthair vrajam anu caritaṁ naityikaṁ tasya naumi
Loving service for of the lover of Radha is beyond the comprehension of even Brahma, Shiva and Shesha. It can be attained only by those dedicated to his pastimes in Vraja and who have a deep and exclusive greed for it. That loving service is obtained through mental service (mānasīm sevā) which is to be meditated upon by the practitioners of rāgānugā bhakti. And it with the purpose of making such mental service possible that I bow down to the daily activities in Vraja

Achyuta Lal Bhat said, "Greed for prema-sevā, which is impossible for even the great gods to understand. That greed, that laulya, was manifest in Ramkrishna Pandit Baba. The dust here in Bhagavata Nivas contains that lobha. The lobha that is the only real qualification for attain prema-sevā, which does not care for anything else, not scriptural injunction, not rational argument, just the desire for that service alone. That is all. So we pray to Baba's feet and we take the dust of Bhagavata Nivasa to get that lobha."

So there was a lot of talk about vairagya today. Along with a lot of little digs at those building big ashrams and the such. All that is fairly standard fare in any assembly of renounced Vaishnavas. Bhagavatpada Gautam even said to me privately, while lamenting the current state of Vrindavan, that he could even find 500 Asarams in the town!

So with all this talk, the juxtaposition of a rapidly changing Vrindavan that has relegated the world of Pandit Baba to a past almost as distant as that of Rupa and Sanatan and the other founders of Vrindavan themselves, I found it a little ironic that even the babas in Bhagavat Niwas are building a new arched gateway at the main entrance. Bhagavata Niwas is disputed territory, and one great defense that is forwarded for keeping the status quo is that it is maintaining the bhajananandi tradition.

When the King of Scindia politely requested some opportunity for service, he was told by Ramkrishna Pandit Baba that the best thing he could do would be to stop disturbing his bhajan. And now even Bhagavata Nivas is going to have an arched gateway to announce to the tourists, "Come in!" And hopefully donate for Thakurji's seva. This is how times change:

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Shiksha Patra of Hariraya

Harirai Goswami

Another book I picked up since my return to Vrindavan and which I read from beginning to end, all 650 pages of it, is Śikṣā-patra. 41 letters by fourth generation Vallabhi guru Harirayji Mahaprabhu. I first read it in the English translation by Krishna Kinkari, a disciple of Prathamesh Goswami and godsister of the famous bhajan singer Shyamdasji, who passed away not so long ago. Despite the numerous flaws in the edition, such as spelling and layout, etc., on the whole it is a very readable translation and an illuminating book, understandably one of the important works in the Vallabha sampradaya.


The commentary by Gopeshwar, to whom the letters were written, is also very illuminating with plenty of verses quoted mainly from Vallabha's Sixteen Treatises. Anyway, there are several themes running through the book, mainly to give up anxiety and lamentation as a big impediment to spiritual life, sadhu-sanga, separation, etc. But the idea of grace, puṣṭi, seems to be the most important. śrī kṛṣṇa śaraṇaṁ mama.

I quite enjoyed it. It truly put me in the mood of bhakti again. I would like to have commented further, and if I get the chance, I will do so later, time permitting. The Vallabha sampradaya is one with which I have less than adequate familiarity and I rather liked the mood of this book.

Here is the website for this book, which I do recommend, for a bit of a different bhakti flavor:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Restless River of Yoga (Intro)

Over the next two weeks, I will be giving my attention back to Yoga-taraṅginī commentary to Gorakṣa-śataka as this project needs to be completed, and all that is left to do is a final redaction of the text and translation, and writing an introduction. So I will try to communicate those portions that I think are important or which affected me as I was doing the work.

I must confess that there has been a considerable change in lifestyles between the way I was living in Rishikesh at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama and the way I am right now in Vrindavan. The three months at SRSG were fairly intense. Most of that time I spent in at least verbal silence, although I still used the internet. But even in that I was far more disciplined than I am now, as I kept my personal computer internet free. Besides that, I regularly meditated three hours a day and did hatha-yoga on a regular basis, including many of the disciplines that are described in the book I was working on.

Since coming back, one of the major problems -- besides this opening out to the external world through the internet, etc. -- has been the return of my knee problem. I was sitting for up to an hour in padmasana at SRSG, but here I twisted my knee and that has made it impossible to even sit in siddhasana. Although theoretically one should be able to do pranayama and meditation while sitting on a raised platform, for me it is really a complete letdown and disappointment. It has meant that the intensity of practices has really just fallen tremendously. Chanting japa while pacing, etc., is really not as effective, as I have been saying for years and years now. The situation has forced me to coast in terms of sadhana and turn to more serious writing, which is God's will I suppose.

In one sense I am trying to come to terms with my experience in SRSG and as I as I go through this final redaction of the text and composition of the introduction, I will try to describe how I engaged in those practices and what I got from them.

Before I do that, I would like to say a word or two about the mixing of mellows that comes from being a bhakta in the Vaishnava tradition and combining it with yoga. The Bhagavata Purana contains a great deal of material from various strands of the yoga school, and indeed the yoga school is universal enough within Hinduism that it can barely be separated. Practically speaking the reciprocal influences of the different practices and philosophical systems are so universal that it is often hard to unravel them.

At the same time, there are clear lines of difference. The Bhagavata also clearly states that no system of spiritual practice is as effective in pleasing God as bhakti:

na sādhayati māṁ yogo na sāṅkhyaṁ dharma uddhava
 na svādhyāyas tapas tyāgo yathā bhakti mamorjitā

My dear Uddhava, the unalloyed devotional service rendered to Me by My devotees brings Me under their control. I cannot be thus controlled by those engaged in mystic yoga, Säìkhya philosophy, pious work, Vedic study, austerity or renunciation. (SB 11.14.20)
So what kind of faithless apostate am I that I have taken to a non-devotional practice, or at least have accommodated and adapted yoga practices into my bhakti sādhana

To some extent these questions have been answered here and there on this blog. Maybe this blog written early in my stay in Rishikesh will answer somewhat how I had been thinking about it then. Therefore be a yogi, O Arjuna. Or another discussion of the Sixth Chapter of the Gita. And since this is one of the least read articles on my entire blog, I will include it here, Mindfulness

A couple of others: A few words about sitting. And one last Rasika Bhakti and Yoga.

Of course there are many more, as over the past six years I have spent considerable time in Rishikesh and had a great deal of opportunity to associate with the very learned and gentle yogi, Swami Veda Bharati, who is truly a unique individual whom I much admire and from whom I have learned a great deal. I worked on re-editing his first volume of Yoga-sutra, and indeed he is still asking me to help him do the third and fourth volumes, which as a scholar, I really should, for my own personal edification.

The principal point, I think, is that whatever one's particular spiritual practice, the goal is to control the mind, to focus it and quieten it down. Essentially, you want to focus the mind on God, however you conceive of God. And yoga is the science of perfecting the control and concentration of the mind. If one thinks that concentrating on externals is the most effective way of doing so, he will eventually find out, in my opinion, that all yoga is about the "internal organ" (antaḥkaraṇa). Though the bhakti-yoga methods tend to differ in certain fundamental ways, the yogic techniques are quite useful and, in my opinion, complementary -- if one has a clear sense of what one is doing.

Since March, Swami Veda has been in silence after taking a vow to not speak for five years, but he told me several times (in writing) that he never wants to speak again. He was 80 years old when he took the vow, and as he says, he has been speaking publicly, lecturing and teaching, since he was seven years old. He continues to write, but his lecturing days are finished.

I can tell you quite honestly that in the three months I was in Rishikesh this time, I could person observe and experience the depth of interiorization to which his silence has taken him. I meditated for one hour and took my evening meal with him each day during this period, besides which I worked in his personal library, often at the same time that he did. He has always shown great affection for me, making the entire six years, and particularly these three month at SRSG particularly memorable.

When I said to Swamiji that with all the responsibilities of a worldwide organization of disciples and managing the Rishikesh ashram, what to speak of his duties as chancellor of the HIHT University in Dehra Dun, he answered that he had been planning to go into silence since he was a child. He has, it is true, always been an outspoken (!) advocate for silence, and visitors to the ashram are encouraged to take short vows of silence of one, three or ten days. Experienced disciples are often asked to undergo longer vratas of 21, 40 or 90 days.

But in all the years that I was there, I resisted silence to the point that I was even considered by some people there to be something of a nuisance. This time, though, it became clear to me early on in my stay that it would be tremendously helpful to me in getting the translation work done and in order to get a bit scientific here and personally investigate to the extent I could the practices that are spoken of in Gorakṣa-śataka and Yoga-taraṅgiṇī, that it would be best to avoid socializing as much as possible. The hot season is a quiet time at SRSG, with only the most serious and full-time residents on-site, so it was an easy decision to make, though not always easy to follow. The idea was to remain in mauna until the work was finished. Although I did not do so as perfectly as those who attempt it usually do, I can say that I got a little insight into the benefits of keeping my mouth shut for an extended period of time.

I wrote a few reflections of the silence as I was going through it back at the time, none of which are particularly insightful: Silence (1)Silence (2)Silence (3) 

From http://gurugorakhnath.blogspot.in/
Introduction to the Text

Gorakṣa-śataka is a a small book of 200 verses, an early text from the Nātha-yoga tradition. Gorakṣanātha is one of the early founders of this particular branch of yoga, called haṭha-yoga, which has since developed and become a widely popular set of practices in the Western world, though generally speaking it is limited to its aspect as a kind of physical culture, i.e., dealing with physical postures or āsanas. But its influence had already spread throughout India well before coming west, as well as Nepal and Tibet and beyond, primarily as a specific development or refinement in the older yoga systems that are far more ancient.

The Nepali Gorkhas take their entire jati name from Gorakṣanātha or Gorakhnath. Descendants of his line in Bengal are called jugis or jogis and have the surname Nath or Debnath. In many other parts of India, the weaver caste, to which Kabir belonged, also have a connection with the yogi line descended from him, the influence of which is felt in many other ways also. Although currently the Nath sampradaya is much smaller and less influential and has little to do with the current interest in hatha-yoga, it does seems to be experiencing something of a revival. The miraculous powers and adventures of Gorakṣanātha and his guru Matsyendranātha are the stuff of legend that kept the mythology of yogic siddhis alive throughout the centuries to even the present day.

The Gorakṣa-śataka, being an early text from this tradition, has therefore attracted some scholarly attention and various translations have been made. More recently, renewed attempts have been made to establish what the original Gorakṣa-śataka is or was, as there are several books carrying that name, which differ considerably from each other. I myself noticed this many years ago when I first read through the book and typed it out for the Grantha Mandir in two different versions. But I did not delve into the problem or make any attempt to resolve it at the time.

These variants of this same work also go under the names Gorakṣa-paddhati, Gorakṣa-saṁhitā and Viveka-mārtaṇḍa. In particular, Gorakṣa-paddhati (GP), having been published several times from the Venkateshwar Press in Mumbai, has more or less become the dominant version of the text and most resembles the Gorakṣa-śataka used by our anonymous YT author, even though there are significant differences of verse order and reading. The most important problem being that though the book is widely known as a śataka, i.e, a work of 100 verses, it nearly always contains 200, or two śatakas. Briggs in his Goraksha and the Kanphat Yogis (1933) translated the first hundred of Gorakṣa-paddhati and called it Gorakṣa-śataka. Researchers at the Lonavla Yoga Institute in Pune claimed on studying a large number of manuscripts to have solved the mystery and in 1987 published a version of 100 verses that they claimed to be the original.

We were quite fortunate that while our work was going on, we had a visit from Prof. Mark Singleton, who had come to India to do some research on the Viveka-mārtaṇḍa (VM), particularly investigating a manuscript in Rajasthan that he had caught wind of. He put me in touch with James Mallinson who has also done research in the matter of the original Gorakṣa-śataka and has come up with quite a different conclusion than that of the Lonavla researchers.

Mallinson's conclusions are based primarly on the evidence of the earliest manuscript of the text, which he identifies with VM. In his estimation, verses were added to the other versions, which were then given a variant of the name Gorakṣa-śataka. Then since the problem arose of too many verses, abbreviated versions were made, such as the Lonavla edition. Mallinson's original GŚ is a completely different text from this set of texts and bears greater similarity to the Yoga-kuṇḍalī Upaniṣad, with which it has some 80 verses in common. As the content of the two works diverges, we have not preoccupied ourselves with this GŚ, even though it would be tempting to attempt an in-depth comparison. But I will leave such work to Prof. Mallinson, who is no doubt far better equipped for such a task than I.

The popularity and influence of VM can be seen in the number of verses drawn from it that found their way into some of the Yoga Upanisads, particularly the Yoga-bindu and Yoga-cuḍāmaṇi, as well as in the Haṭha-yoga-pradīpikā (HYP) in both its four-chapter and expanded ten-chapter version, published simply as Haṭha-pradīpikā (HP). We have given a concordance of the verses from these various sources in an appendix at the end of this book.

As is to be expected, the variants in the readings between these various versions are considerable, but since our primary objective has been to establish the correct reading of the YT and to give a translation of it, we have only commented on the reading of the verse when it was felt that our author had unfortunately been saddled with an incorrect or distorted reading of the original that corrupted his understanding. In some cases, this has forced him to make somewhat convoluted interpretations that would have easily been avoided had a better text been available to him.

* * * * *

When I began teaching Sanskrit at SRSG, I learned from Swami Veda Bharati of his attempts to collect a commentary on the Gorakṣa-śataka called Yoga-taraṅgiṇī. His guru, Swami Rama, had praised this commentary and asked him that if he ever could manage to publish it, he would be most appreciative. Swami Veda had been working on this project for some time and had finally managed to find four manuscripts in various libraries—from Benares, Nepal, Mysore and Bengal. Of these four, I looked at the one from Benares, which in actual fact was a fairly recent (1930) Devanagari copy of a Telugu script held in the Adyar library in Chennai. Of our four manuscripts, this was the only one that was complete, covering the full 200 verses. One of the evident problems related to the Gorakṣa-śataka is that there are not 100 verses as the title suggests, but twice that number. Briggs, for instance, who published a version of the work in his book on the Gorakh Panthis, took the first hundred verses as being the entire text. It seems that others also followed this instinctive approach to the book.

I also typed out the Benares manuscript several years ago, but it was full of mistakes that were difficult for me on a quick reading to decipher. Finally, through the work in particular of Bibek Banerjee of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, three of the manuscripts were collated and variant readings noted. These three manuscripts only covered the first śataka, but the fourth, the one from the Nepali government collection happily provided alternate readings for the second śataka, without which it would have been very difficult to establish correct readings.

* * * * *

So my first task was to come up with a clear and correct text. One of the first things that was noticeable about the YT was that there was clearly an ur-text which had taken two directions due to the emendations and additions of later scribes. Most of these are not major, but in some cases they are not in agreement.

Thus we had three MSS for the first śataka, only two for the second. Our D manuscript (from Nepal) was a terrible mess, yet somehow or other it often was correct exactly in those places where our A text was confusing. If not correct, it was mistaken in ways that complemented A and made it possible to extract a decent reading.

What immediately became apparent is that any hope of finding an ur-text was not tenable with the materials at hand.

It is clear that the Mumbai Gorakṣa-paddhati mentioned above, which the Lonavla editors call the "Vulgate" edition, made use of the Yoga-taraṅginī and Bāla-prabodhinī in its Hindi translation. Some of those details are imported from an external source other than Yoga-taraṅginī in this translation, such as the description of a meditation on Nārāyaṇa in one verse, but we did not have access to this Bāla-prabodhinī, which I suspect has some common ground with the YT. This is admittedly another lacuna in the research done on this project.

Nevertheless, even within the MSS that we do have of YT, there are sufficient variants that we can recognize independent interpolations made on an earlier text. So it is quite possible that an original document was elaborated on and emended by various subsequent copyists. In view of that and because we had limited materials to work with, we determined that the best way forward was to simply come up with a text that scanned, i.e., yielded syntactically comprehensible language that added the most insight into the original GŚ  Thus we have adjudged each individual variant reading for the one that fits this description.

A second major problem in editing and translating the text and commentary comes from the clear inadequacies in the text that the commentator was using. It is clear from the variegated destinations that the GŚ has known (please see the appendix: Concordance of texts of GŚ), that a wide variety of variant readings can be collected, not simply from the VM or GŚ, but also from the texts that directly quote or copy these sources, such as YCU, HYP and HP. I have refrained from providing all these alternative readings.

At any rate, we have not gone into this tangled web of trying to establish an original reading for GŚ. Nevertheless, here and there we have commented on the verses to point out that the reading our commentator was dealing with was clearly not the best or most appropriate reading.

* * * * *

We know absolutely nothing about our commentator, nor can we make anything more that the most general conclusions about his time nor place. The only indications that we can use to divine anything about him are the texts he quotes here and there in his commentary. These are the following:

Gobhila-gṛhya-sūtra and Nirṇayāmṛta. In probably the only digression from the subject of yoga, the commentator goes into a discussion of the compound word sūryācandramasau, refering to Pāṇini and these two works on karma-kāṇḍa to make a somewhat arcane point. In discussing mantras, he makes it clear that he does not approve of non-Brāhmaṇas chanting the Sāvitrī-mantra, recommending that they chant the mantras of their own sect, but other than there is no particular bias to Brāhmaṇism. (Cf. 2.2), though it seems clear that he was himself a Brāhmaṇa.

Mānasollāsa: The work of this name is a commentary on the Dakṣiṇāmūrti-stotra attributed to Śaṅkarācārya, written by Sureśvarācārya, one of the four direct disciples of the founder of the Advaita school. We were able to trace these verses.

Besides these citations of Sureśvarācārya, there are two references to Ācārya-caraṇa and one to Śāṅkarācārya, as well as a verse introduced as Krishna speaking to Nanda, none of which we have been able to identify.

Nāradīya-purāṇa: Only one verse which we could not find in our edition.

Nitya-nātha-paddhati: This text is not available to our knowledge. It clearly covers the same territory as texts like Siddha-siddhānta-paddhati and Siddha-siddhānta-saṅgraha. The YT seems to assume that this work, also being ascribed to the Nath tradition (SSP is usually attributed to Gorakhnath himself) is in agreement with GŚ, which is not the case. The fragments that our author cites from NNP also reveal some minor differences between these three paddhati texts.

Other yoga works to which our author refers are Yoga-cintāmaṇi, Yoga-sāra and Yogi-yājñavalkya. Of these three, we were only able to get access to the last. YT only refers to this work to discuss the ten yamas and ten niyamas, making up for their absence in the GŚ. Other than one verse fragment, nothing from later texts like the Haṭha-yoga-pradīpikā are to be found here (see GŚ 1.82). This particular verse is likely not original to HYP, which is a compendium drawn from numerous extant sources including GŚ itself, than which it is later. There are of course occasional quotes from the Yoga-sūtra (1.89) as well as the occasional paraphrase.

To be continued.

Monday, September 16, 2013

That mysterious first verse of Gita Govinda

The first verse of the Gīta-govinda has been a source of confusion to scholars and devotees probably since it first appeared. There are a number of problems with it, all of which can be summarized as "it does not fit" what we know about the Radha-Krishna story in any source, Puranic or folk, prior to GG. Moreover, it seems to have little to do directly with the rest of GG.

To begin with, here is the verse:

meghair meduram ambaraṁ vana-bhuvaḥ śyāmās tamāla-drumair
naktaṁ bhīrur ayaṁ tvam eva tad imaṁ rādhe gṛhaṁ prāpaya |
itthaṁ nanda-nideśataś calitayoḥ praty-adhva-kuñja-drumaṁ
rādhā-mādhavayor jayanti yamunā-kūle rahaḥ-kelayaḥ ||1||

Lee Siegel:
The sky is densely clouded, the forest grounds are dark with tamala trees; at night he [Krishna] is afraid. Radha, you alone must take him home. This is Nanda's command, but Radha and Madhava stray to a tree in the grove by the path and on the bank of the Yamuna, their secret love games prevail.

Barbara Stoller Miller:
Clouds thicken the sky.
Tamala trees darken the forest.
The night frightens him.
Radha, you take him home.
They leave at Nanda's order,
Passing trees in thickets on the way,
Until secret passions of Radha and Madhava
Triumph on the Jumna riverbank.

The first observation we need to make about the opening verse of the GG is the similarity that it has to two other verses that have the exact same provenance, namely the court of the Sena kings of Bengal. These two verses are found in the Sad-ukti-karṇāmṛta as well as in Rupa Goswami's own collection, Padyāvali. Like the GG verse, these two both have rādhā-mādhavayor jayanti in the beginning of the fourth quarter of a verse in the śārdūla-vikrīḍita.

Although it is impossible to make any certain conclusions, it would appear to me that this may have been the result of a poetic contest in which certain conditions were set, the concluding line being primary among them. By examining the verses we can see a little more what the conditions would have been.

kṛṣṇa tvad-vanamālayā saha-kṛtaṁ kenāpi kuñjāntare
gopī-kuntala-barha-dāma tad idaṁ prāptaṁ mayā gṛhyatām |
itthaṁ dugdha-mukhena gopa-śiśunākhyāne trapā-namrayo
rādhā-mādhavayor jayanti valita-smerālasā dṛṣṭayaḥ ||
A cowherd child, so young he was still breastfeeding , said, "Krishna, in some forest bower I found this wreath of peacock feathers for a gopi's braid that someone has entangled in your garland of forest flowers. Please take it back." May Radha and Madhava's awkward, smiling and languishing looks, lowered in embarrassment, be ever victorious. (Padyāvalī 202, SKM 1.55.2)
And perhaps even closer in spirit is this one by Keshava Sen, one of Lakshman Sen's sons,

āhūtādya mayotsave niśi gṛhaṁ śūnyaṁ vimucyāgatā
kṣīvaḥ preṣya-janaḥ kathaṁ kula-vadhūr ekākinī yāsyati |
vatsa tvaṁ tad imāṁ nayālayam iti śrutvā yaśodā-giro
rādhā-mādhavayor jayanti madhura-smerālasā dṛṣṭayaḥ
"I invited Radha to a party today. She left the house empty and came here at night and the servants [who accompanied her] are all intoxicated. How can a chaste wife like her go about alone? So, my child, you please take her home." May Radha and Madhava's sweet, smiling, languishing looks, on hearing these words of Yashoda, be ever victorious. (Padyāvalī 206, SKM 1.54.5)
So the theme that clearly runs through the three verses is to have Radha and Madhava be reminded or even given the occasion to make love as a result of statements made by someone unaware of what is going on, in particular the parents.

There are other verses of this kind in the two collections mentioned here, so it appears to have been a popular theme. Another type of verse in the genre would be those that have Krishna as a baby showing some signs of sexual awareness (śaiśave tāruṇyam). So in that vein, it appears that the prima facie reading of the verse is correct. This is Nanda's comment, spoken in ignorance.

Whatever the case, it would seem to me, judging from not only these verses but from many of the others dating from the same period, and even from the same milieu as the above (for which Sad-ukti-karṇāmṛta is a particularly helpful source), that there was a spirited freedom from the letter of the Puranic accounts and that attempts were being made to use the raw material of the Radha-Krishna legends to create rasika poetry in the dhvani style, where the external meaning is deliberately obscure and meant to raise questions, imply contradictions, etc., that will charm the reader.

Those who accept this understanding of the verse generally point to some later Puranas, such as Brahma-vaivarta (BVP), where this theme of Nanda telling an older Radha to take Krishna home is expanded upon.

There are many reasons why we do not accept BVP as an old work. Its language and subject matter all point to a later provenance. Most scholars agree that the story as told there is likely derived from the GG and is intended as an explanation, and not the other way around.

Anyone who is in the habit of reading Sanskrit – or any language for that matter -- comes to recognize linguistic styles. No one would mistake Chaucer or Shakespeare for Hemingway. Nowhere is this more evident than in the difference in language from the classical period, from the end of which the Bhagavata is usually dated, from that of BVP or the heavily interpolated Padma Purana, which come in the late medieval period. So to pretend that these texts are sources for the GG version is just not going to be acceptable.

Jiva Goswami [writing in the latter portion of the 16th century] argues in his commentary to UN 5.10-11 that GG 12.27, since it talks about Lakshmi and her choosing Narayan as her husband, and equates Radha with Lakshmi, there is no possibility of parakīyā being real.

tvām aprāpya mayi svayaṁvara-parāṁ kṣīroda-tīrodare
śaṅke sundari kālakūṭam apiban mūḍho mṛḍānī-patiḥ |
itthaṁ pūrva-kathābhir anya-manasā vikṣipya vakṣo’ñcalaṁ
rādhāyāḥ stana-korakopari-milan-netro hariḥ pātu vaḥ ||
"It seems to me that Shiva drank the ocean of poison because he had become so bewildered after you chose me on the shores of the Milk Ocean and rejected him." By recounting these events from a previous life, Krishna distracted Radha and cast aside the cloth that covered her breast and gazed at the nipples of her breasts. May that Lord Hari protect you. (GG 12.27)
Therefore, Jiva says, in the first verse of the GG "Radha is envisioned as a young girl slightly older than Krishna" (sā śrī-kṛṣṇāt kiñcid eva prauḍhā kumārīti matam). This of course is different from the Brahma-vaivarta version, where Radha is considerably older and Krishna a mere babe. Then when they are alone, Krishna suddenly is transformed into a youth and the two then spend a night of Brahma in various rahaḥ-kelayaḥ.

At any rate, Jiva Goswami accepts the version that Nanda is speaking to a somewhat older unmarried girl when he asks her to take Krishna home. Presumably he would not have asked a married woman to do so. Whichever premise one takes here (i.e., What ages are they? How old is Radha? How old Krishna? Is she married? etc.), the verse only works if Nanda Maharaj is innocent of his facilitating their lovemaking, which presumably he would not do if he was in any way suspicious. Therefore, Jiva Goswami's conclusion does not seem particularly necessary.

Please note also that Jiva Goswami does not cite BVP for support, even though the story as told there leads to a marriage between Radha and Krishna, taking the word "home" from the verse in the way the commentator Kumbhakarna takes it: Gṛha means gṛhiṇī according to the dictum that "A house is not a home, but a wife is what makes a home." (na gṛhaṁ gṛham ity āhur gṛhiṇī gṛham ucyate). So "take him home" means "make him your husband (gṛhiṇīmān).

Hariraya Goswami of the Vallabha sampradaya (17th century) mentions the first verse of GG in his 41 Śikṣā-patra (4.10-11) in the context of Krishna's contradictory qualities (viruddha-dharmāśrayatva). He states that although Krishna is never older than 11 in Vrindavan, he still has pastimes as an adolescent such as the rāsa-līlā. He uses this verse as an illustration of how Krishna's divinity makes such an impossibility possible.

As a side note, Gopishwar, the Brajabhasha commentator, recounts the apocryphal story that Nanda Baba brought 16,000 unmarried girls from Goḍadeśa (Bengal?) to give to King Kamsa, but because they were following the puṣṭi-mārga and wanted to serve his son, he kept them in Braj.

We now turn to three commentaries that reject the prima facie explanation given above. King Kumbhakarna of Mewar is, as far as I know, one of the earliest to comment on GG, though his dates are given as 1433-1468. The other two commentaries are of Caitanya Das, who lived in the first part of the 17th century, and another ascribed to Prabodhananda Saraswati, about which I have some reservations. If indeed Prabodhananda is the author, then this text would be dated to the first half of the 16th century.

Now let us look at Kumbhakarna's commentary. KK is interesting because he appears to be the first to reject the prima facie reading, which he cites and refutes. The salient points of the rejected interpretation, are summarized by Kumbhakarna as follows:
  • Krishna is a fearful and dependent infant who needs to be taken home. (nāyakasya śiśutvena paravaśatvaṁ)
  • Radha is seen as an older woman, a nurse figure. (tasyāś ca dhātrītvaṁ)
  • Nanda is acting as a go-between for their union. (nandasya ca dūtī-karma)
  • The impeti for the erotic mood, namely darkness, clouds, etc. are taken as causes of the fearful rasa (śṛṅgāra-vibhāvānāṁ bhayānaka-hetutvaṁ)
  • All of which contradict the principal mood of the GG (nirūpita-rasasyānyathātvaṁ cāpadyate)
KK's solution is to take the first two lines of the verse to be Krishna's own speech. There is a convention in Sanskrit that out of humility one sometimes talks of oneself in the third person (ayam, imam in this verse); nanda-nideśataś is explained as "away from Nanda." He says there are three meanings for nideśa: speech, order and proximity. He prefers the latter meaning to the second, which is what most people follow.

The word "fearful" should be taken to mean "I am so afflicted by the attacks of loving desire that I am afraid I cannot tolerate it." (bhīrur ity ebhir bhāva-hetubhiḥ smarāhatīḥ soḍhum asamarthaḥ). The clouds and darkness, etc., are thus to be considered uddīpanas for śṛṅgāra-rasa. Since GG is dominated by this rasa, only someone who has misunderstood would interpret the verse in a way that brings Nanda -- who is otherwise irrelevant to the story -- into the picture, for this one and only time. Nanda's presence creates a contradiction in rasas.

Chaitanya Das says that these are a sakhi's words. He takes the word nanda to mean "giving joy." So the sakhi's instruction gives Radha and Krishna joy.

"O Radhe ! At night, meaning on a previous night, Krishna left you and went dancing and singing with other women, and this offense to you has made him afraid. He is fearful that you will think of him as a womanizer who just wants to have every woman love him. This is causing him great suffering so please [forgive him] and take him 'home', i.e., to the flower forest bower. He will there show himself to be completely devoted to you."

CD also adopts the idea that "home" is a hint at lovemaking. He further argues that the conditions, i.e., the darkness of the forest and the clouds, etc., are uddīpanas, and mentioning them has the purpose of saying it is dark and no one will see anything.

Prabodhananda's commentary is the lengthiest and he also quotes KK extensively as an alternative interpretation. He tells the following story: "Once upon a time, in a manner appropriate to the kind of close family relationship that existed between Vrishabhanu and Nanda Maharaj's families, Radha brought Krishna to Barsana to milk their cows. Of course she had the underlying purpose of being with him. Nanda Maharaj happened by at that time and observed that clouds had come and said to Radha with loving anger, 'My dear girl, Radhe, since you brought him here, you take him back home." This is the explanation of the emphatic eva following tvam, which is best translated as "you alone."

Prabodhananda notes that Krishna often milks Vrishabhanu's cows while Nanda Maharaj's cows are milked by Sridama, etc. (śrī-vṛṣabhānor gavāṁ kṛṣṇa-vatsalānāṁ dohanaṁ śrī-kṛṣṇaḥ karoti, bhagavat-priyāṇāṁ śrī-vrajeśvarasya gavāṁ śrīdāmādinā kriyata iti |)

Prabodhananda also remarks that some people read nanda-nideśataḥ as nandani-deśataḥ, claiming that there is a sakhi named Nandani, with deśataḥ meaning instructions. But he says that since no such sakhi is mentioned in any text, it cannot be accepted.

However, he gives another alternative meaning, in which nanda means joy-giving. It is a narmokti or humorous statement. Since such an instruction given by a friend, giving direction to engage in the very activities they desire, would enhance their pleasure. The signs of coming darkness, etc., are seen as incitements to erotic love, especially the clouds are mentioned in 10.21.16 as being Krishna's friends.

So Prabodhananda has accepted all three possibilities: It could be Nanda, a sakhi, or Krishna himself who speaks the words of the first two lines.

More discussion found here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Five Essential verses of Gita Govinda (Verse 5)

Manuscript painting from Gita-govinda.
Photo from Jayadeva Foundation Trust.



Now we come to last verse in our series. This is also the last verse that Rupa Goswami quotes from an external source in Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi. The context is the following verse, which is the last "idea" that Sri Rupa presents in his discussion of madhura-rasa.

vidagdhānāṁ mitho līlā-vilāsena yathā sukham |
na tathā samprayogeṇa syād evaṁ rasikā viduḥ ||
Clever lovers find that there is more pleasure in all the varieties of their mutual dealings that in sexual union per se. This is the conclusion of the knowers of rasa. (15.253)
Jayadeva's verse is given as an illustration of this point:

pratyūhaḥ pulakāṅkureṇa niviḍāśleṣe nimeṣeṇa ca
krīḍākūta-vilokite’dhara-sudhā-pāne kathā-narmabhiḥ
ānandādhigamena manmatha-kalā-yuddhe’pi yasminn abhūd
udbhūtaḥ sa tayor babhūva suratārambhaḥ priyambhāvukaḥ
As the battle of the love arts began,
there arose so many obstacles--
When they tried to embrace each other intensely,
they became covered in goose bumps;
when they tried to look thirstily at each other,
their eyes still blinked;
As they drank the nectar of each other's lips,
they could not stop speaking loving words to one another--
The overwhelming joy that overcame them
was the biggest obstacle of all.
Thus truly was this beginning of their lovemaking
dear to them both. (
12.10, UN 15.256)
Rupa only quotes this verse after giving two of his own composition, both of which seem to be inspired by this one, and neither of which differs radically from it in tone. In each of the three verses, the actual sex act (samprayoga) is being interfered with by the foreplay, which for most people would not really constitute a radical difference.

The commentators, in particular Vishnudas, take the opportunity to stress the importance of Jayadeva as an authority. Vishnudas calls Jayadeva the first among the modern devotees (arvācīna-bhakteṣu) to relish the sweet essence of madhura-rasa of the Bhāgavata, the unequalled recipient of exclusive love for Krishna. (Commentary to 15.256). (arvācīna-bhakteṣu śrī-kṛṣṇa-premaika-pātratvenādvitīyānāṁ śrīmad-bhāgavatādya-rasa-mādhurī-sāraika-prathamāsvādakānāṁ sadā sarvatra sarvair api paramādaraṇīya-sac-caritānāṁ śrī-gīta-govindākhya-mahā-kāvya-kartṝṇāṁ śrī-jayadeva-caraṇānāṁ).

Prabodhananda reminds that this is the lovers are finally experiencing union after long yearning for it, they ae being overwhelmed by mounting ectsasies which cannot be restrained. Even horripilation was experienced as an intolerable obstacle. The trope of the intolerability of even blinking (nimeñäsahatä, UN 14.163) while gazing upon the beloved is found in various places such as 10.31.15 (jaḍa udīkṣitāṁ pakṣma-kṛd dṛśāṁ, also 9.24.65, 10.82.38). The lovers cannot find full peace of mind even in their union. Drunk with each other's physical presence they prattle; every one of their senses is so awakened that they wash over the couple like waves of the ocean. All of this shows that the extreme limit of rasa has been reached (paramāvadhi-rasotpattir darśitā). They cannot get enough of their lovemaking (sambhogasya nālaṁ-pratyaya iti bhāvaḥ), and both the activity and the pleasure derived from it have reached a state without limit (kriyānandayoś cāpāratvam api dhvanitam).

The operative word in this verse for Rupa is pratyūha or obstacle. In each phase of their lovemaking activity, there was some obstacle. Again, the verse has some interest in that it contradicts another major devotional principle, that ecstatic feelings are not appreciated by the devotee if they interfere with rendering service to the beloved, as in the following BRS verse, which is also quoted in CC as an example of the selflessness of devotion:

aṅga-stambhārambham uttuṅgayantaṁ
premānandaṁ dāruko nābhyanandat
kaṁsārāter vījane yena sākṣād
akṣodīyān antarāyo vyadhāyi ||
Krishna's servant Daruka did not take pleasure in his ecstatic feelings of love, for they caused his limbs to freeze and thus caused a direct and significant impediment to his service of fanning the Lord. (BRS 3.2.62, CC 1.4.202)
Of course, one of the characteristics of the higher states of the erotic sentiment, according to Rupa, is that the most intense or most intensely inflamed ecstasies (sūddīpta-sāttvikas). [See UN 14.179, where this is considered a symptom of mohana-mahā-bhāva.]

ekadā vyaktim āpannāḥ pañca-ṣāḥ sarva eva vā |
ārūḍhā paramotkarṣam uddīptā iti kīrtitāḥ ||
uddīptā eva sūddiptā mahā-bhāve bhavanty amī |
sarva eva parāṁ koṭiṁ sāttvikā yatra bibhrati ||
When five or six of the sāttvikas become manifest simultaneously and are experience in their highest and purest state (paramotkarṣa), they are called "inflamed" (uddīpta). These inflamed ecstasies become most intensely inflamed (sūddīpta) in the state of love known as mahā-bhāva, where all ecstasies reach their highest stage (parāṁ koṭiṁ). (BRS 2.3.79, 81)
In his commentary, Vishwanath expresses a principle, which does not seem to be a quote, that the rasa experienced when desire is still unfulfilled is of an even sweeter taste. This principle establishes this as the most excellent manifestation of rasa (tṛṣṇāyāḥ śānty-abhāvāt sāvaśeṣo hi rasaḥ suraso bhavatīti nyāyena rasotkarṣa eva sthāpitaḥ). The principle appears to be derived from the world of entertainment: leave your audience clamoring for more.

The word rasotkarṣa used be Vishwanath here should be considered significant. We have just seen above that the same words are used in the context of the sūddīpta-sāttvikas. The same words also occur in the chapter on nāyikā-bheda and already alluded to above in our discussion of māna.

sarva eva rasotkarṣo madhyāyām eva yujyate |
yad asyāṁ vartate vyaktā maugdhya-prāgalbhyayor yutiḥ ||
The height of rasa is found in the madhyā nāyikā, in whom both the characteristics of the mugdhā and the prāgalbhā are manifest. (UN 5.42)
Perhaps most important for our discussion here, however, is its use in the first chapter of UN in the context of the paramour love (atraiva paramotkarṣaḥ śṛṅgārasya pratiṣṭhitaḥ, 1.19).

Now, even though the Gaudiya commentators on GG, Caitanya Das and Prabodhananda, both take pains to stress that GG describes the pārakīya love, there is actually no evidence of it, and indeed Jiva Goswami uses GG 1.1 and 12.27, the latter verse in several places, as evidence of the svakīyā mood. None of the usual features of the paramour love -- deceiving elders, in-laws or husband, the necessity for secrecy, fear of being found out -- are described anywhere in Jayadeva's text.

Nevertheless, the idea of obstacles is essential to the pārakīya mood, as all the supporting texts Rupa Goswami gives point to this one basic idea:

bahu vāryate khalu yatra pracchanna-kāmukatvaṁ ca |
yā ca mitho durlabhatā sā manmathasya paramā ratiḥ ||
Where there are many prohibitions, and where there is hidden desire, and where the lovers find union to be a rare and difficult thing to attain, this is where the god of love finds the greatest pleasure. (UN 1.20) [See also UN 3.20, 21]
In all three locations where Rupa Goswami discusses the subject of pārakīya mood, he justifies it by saying that Krishna has appeared in the world to taste rasa, implying that such an experience must be had in the world, which by nature is filled with obstacles. To limit the length of this discussion, we will quote only one such verse:

neṣṭā yad aṅgini rase kavibhir paroḍhā
tad gokulāmbuja-dṛśāṁ kulam antarena |
āśāṁsayā rasa-vidher avatāritānāṁ
kaṁsāriṇā rasika-maṇḍala-śekhareṇa ||
When poets deny that the woman to another has a place in the descriptions of the primary (i.e., erotic) rasa, it should be understood that this rule is made with the exception of the lotus eyed beauties of the cowherd settlement, since the Supreme Rasika, the enemy of Kamsa, had them appear in the world so that he could experience this [pārakīyarasa.  (UN 5.3) [See also UN 1.21-22]
So, in the 15th chapter of UN, Rupa Goswami is summarizing the līlās connected to the madhura-rasa. What does it mean? It means that a story is necessary for the production of rasa. A story requires a plot and a plot requires obstacles, which in the terms of the rasa. As we have seen, the principal obstacle that makes the plot of the GG is that provided by māna-vipralambha, the separation coming from māna.

Then why not just say so? Why take this example from the very minor obstacles of ecstasy, which in one sense can barely be called obstacles at all, and draw from it the principle that sexual union (samprayoga) is less enjoyable to the lovers than their līlā-vilāsa, which from the example is characterized as the presence of obstacles?

Indeed, the entire question can be seen as the rasika answer to the theological question of diversity and unicity. God is One and becomes many, because without becoming many, there is no fulfillment of the promise of rasa. How can there be taste if there is no taster, no tasting and no tasted? But Rupa Goswami not only indirectly answers the question of the personal concept of God in terms of rasa, but also subtly points to the paradox that is found in other rasika sampradāyas, who without exception are votaries of Radha and Krishna in the eternal act of making love, or at the very least permanently ensconced in the love bower. This is called the nitya-vihāra.

There is, of course, a scriptural logic to this position: God is never separated from his energies. He never leaves Vrindavan, how can he be apart from Radha for even a moment? When the desire to be joined in erotic union with the beloved is the all-powerful motivator to all action, how can the all powerful Supreme Person be deprived of fulfillment for even a fraction of a nanosecond?

When Radha and Krishna are in separation that they are thinking most intensely of every element of their physical closeness. And, as argued in the BhP [Cf. 10.32.21, 10.47.29-31, 10.82.46-47, etc.], that is the reality. Radha and Krishna are always, in some dimension, in the nitya-vihāra, eternal union. But what Rupa is talking about is the human adventure in love: the realization of some fragment of eternal perfection that somehow represents the central point of our aspirations, the glow from which light pulses outward.

Most of the Vrindavan rasikas deny the existence of any real competition for Radha. But Rupa Goswami needles them with a series of verses in UN 9. In particular, the following:

hari-priya-jane bhāvā dveṣādyā nocitā iti |
ye vyāharanti te jñeyā apūrva-rasikāḥ kṣitau ||
Those who say that the rivalries between different competitors for Krishna’s love is improper should be recognized as really having no sense of rasa. (UN 9.41)
So, Rupa Goswami is merely stating something that is obvious from the point of view of the dramaturgist, who recognizes that obstacles to love, whether from rivals, external circumstance, or personal psychology, are what make a good story, and that God himself enjoys a good story. Even those who accept the nitya-vihāra are still obliged to accept some obstacles -- however minimal, such as those described here in our GG verse -- in order to enhance the experience of rasa.

Verse 1: Krishna, the Embodiment of the Erotic Rasa
Verse 2: Krishna, the Lover of Radha
Verse 3: Radharani's māna
Verse 4: Radha, the empress of love.
Verse 5: Rasa-niṣpatti.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Five Essential verses of Gita Govinda (Verse 4)

Jayadev Foundation Trust

Radha, the Empress of Love

Our fourth essential verse of the Gīta-govinda or Gita-govinda pañca-ślokī, comes in the final chapter and summarizes the last prabandha or song 24.

racaya kucayoś citraṁ patraṁ kuruṣva kapolayor
ghaṭaya jaghane kāñcīṁ mugdha-srajā kavarī-bharaṁ |
kalaya valaya-śreṇīṁ pāṇau pade maṇi-nūpurāv
iti nigaditaḥ prītaḥ pitāmbaro’pi tathākarot ||
Radha said, "Draw pictures on my breasts,
decorate my cheeks with dots of musk,
tie a sash of bells around my hips,
braid my hair with a charming garland.
Place bangles on my wrists and
jeweled ankle bells on my feet."
So being told, the yellow-robed Krishna,
being pleased, did so. (12.25)

This is the last verse that contains a description related to the overall dramatic theme of the Gīta-govinda. Rupa Goswami quotes it at UN 5.93 as an example of the svādhīna-bhartṛkā. As we have been saying, the eight situations of the heroine are the principal theme of GG and this is the culmination of that cycle: Radha's complete victory.

Radha is on the stage and it is the final dramatic scene of the Gīta-govinda, the lovers have just made love and it is a happy ending! And now to culminate the scene, Radha, like an empress on her flower bed, looks toward Krishna and says, in effect, "Peel me a grape." She calls him mugdha, "cute but foolish" and he is prīta, pleased.

As we concluded the last section, Krishna has been through the wringer like sugar cane through the press of Radharani's mäna. Let us just say that he is very, very thankful to all the gods and saints that Radha has finally accepted him back into her good graces and is letting him back into the boudeoir, the nikuñja.

So it is a clear victory. The flag was thrown down in Prabandha 19, perhaps the most famous song in the entire GG, and Krishna capitulated completely,

smara-garala-khaṇḍanaṁ mama śirasi maṇḍanaṁ
dehi pada-pallavam udāram |
jvalati mayi dāruṇo madana-kadanāruṇo
haratu tad-upāhita-vikāram ||8||
Your generous feet are the cure for the poison of desire,
they are the decoration to adorn my head, so please place them there.
The intolerably fierce flames of desire are roasting me,
but your feet will remove all its effects.
Radha went through a little turmoil before finally allowing herself to be persuaded by the sakhi to allow Krishna into her flower drenched boudeoir and after lovemaking, Krishna is in a state of dazed gratitude and Radha, the empress of love, enjoys the peace and camaraderie that comes when she is recognized in all her glory. She is the svādhīna-bhartṛkā. And Krishna pays homage to her.

The definition of svādhīna-bhartṛkā as given by Bharata Muni is meant to show the way that the nāyikā should be played on the stage.

suratātirasair baddho yasyāḥ pārśve tu nāyakaḥ |
sāndrāmoda-guṇa-prāptā bhavet svādhīna-bhartṛkā ||
vicitrojjvalaveṣā tu pramododyotitānanā |
udīrṇa-śobhā ca tathā kāryā svādhīna-bhartṛkā ||
The nāyaka is bound to her now because the nectar of lovemaking is so completely blissful, so is constantly by her side. Her dress will be bright and colorful, her face will be bright with pleasure, her effulgence spreading, that is how she should be depicted. (NŚ 15.224-225)
Corresondingly Krishna has reached the limits of the dhīra-lalita nāyaka, one who is completely under the control of his beloved.

vidagdho nava-tāruṇyaḥ parihāsa-viśāradaḥ
niścinto dhīra-lalitaḥ syāt prāyaḥ preyasī-vaśaḥ

Krishna fits the model of the adolescent (nava-tāruṇya), who knows what the girls like (vidagdha), who has a "great sense of humor" (parihāsa-viśārada). He doesn't have a worry in the world (niścinta). And finally, he is completely dependent on his mistress: He is straiṇa, that least heroic of qualities, the one that every male dreads, the ultimate challenge to his monadic independence. This is Krishna as the anukūla-nāyaka, or agreeable hero.

So here, after Krishna kneels next to Radha, his hands folded like Garuda in expectation of an order, Radha begins to speak.

kuru yadu-nandana candana-śiśira-
tareṇa kareṇa payodhare |
mṛgamada-patrakam atra mano-bhava-
maṅgala-kalaśa-sahodare ||
nijagāda sā yadu-nandane krīḍati hṛdayānandane ||

The refrain or dhruva pada: "She said to Yadu Nandana, the delight of her heart, as he played with her." The verses then are her words. She opens with an order, "Do..." (kuru). Ah, what a long path we have come from the opening words of the Bhagavad Gita!
Oh Yadu Nandan! With your hand cooler than sandalwood, make musk decorations on my breasts, which are like twins of the auspicious pots marking the sacrifice of Cupid.
Prabodhananda says that the mention of Krishna's cool hands are only a way of saying that she intends to light his fire once again by having him touch her intimately.

Of Radha's 25 qualities, the crowning quality is santatāśrava-keśavā, "She always keeps Krishna at her beck and call." (See UN 4.48). Naturally, this is where the Vaishnava sees the perfection of his philosophy being realized, and Prabodhananda's commentary on 12.25 does an excellent job of resuming the argument. He begins with Krishna's assertion that he is under the control of his devotees, "as if without any independence" (ahaṁ bhakta-parādhīno hy asvatantra iva dvija, BhP 9.4.63), reminds us of Krishna's assertion in the Gita that he responds to everyone in the way that they approach him (ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy ahaṁ, Gītā 4.11), his admission that he is unable to repay the gopis their love for him (na pāraye’haṁ, BhP 10.32.22). And so we come to the great ruling principle of the bhakti-mārga which is that love is even greater than God, and that even God seeks and surrenders to love. And that power of love is fully present in Srimati Radharani alone.

Whereas in the Bhägavata, the gopis represent love of God in almost metaphorical terms, here Radha has been divinized as the Power of Love, which in Gaudiya Vaishnava theology will receive the titles of hlādinī-śakti and mahā-bhāva-svarūpiṇī.

Verse 1: Krishna, the Embodiment of the Erotic Rasa
Verse 2: Krishna, the Lover of Radha
Verse 3: Radharani's māna
Verse 4: Radha, the empress of love.
Verse 5: Rasa-niṣpatti.

Five Essential verses of Gita Govinda (Verse 3)

From Jayadev Foundation Trust.


Radharani's māna

viharati vane rādhā sādhāraṇa-praṇaye harau
vigalita-nijotkarṣād īrṣyā-vaśena gatā'nyataḥ
kvacid api latā-kuṣje guṣjan-madhu-vrata-maṇḍalī
mukhara-śikhare līnā dīnāpy uvāca rahaḥ sakhīm||
When Radha saw Hari frolicking in the forest,
treating all the women with equal affection,
she felt her own special status had melted away.
Envy and anger arose in her, and she went off.
Somewhere, in a vine covered bower,
where bees buzzed in circles overhead,
she hid, and forlorn in her solitude,
confided to her friend.
If the first two verses of our five described Krishna as the viṣaya and then as the āśraya of love; now this verse points to the essential mechanism that transforms him from the one role to the other. This will be further explained in our analysis of the fifth verse.

The third verse of the Gīta-govinda pañca-ślokī appears in the latter portion (verses 25-35) of BRS 3.5, the abbreviated chapter on madhura-rasa, which could be seen as equivalent to the last chapter (15) of the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, namely the divisions of śṛṅgāra-rasa (śṛṅgāra-bheda). This subject summarizes the fundamental dramatic elements of a love story.

The main divisions of śṛṅgāra are vipralambha and sambhoga, separation and union. In BRS, three kinds of vipralambha have been described (rather than the four delineated in UN), namely pūrva-rāga, māna and pravāsa. These are the feelings of separation prior to the first meeting, love quarrels, and the separations that arise with the short and long comings and goings imposed by circumstance, respectively.

The third separation, pravāsa, is subdivided in UN into the daily short separations and the long, distant separation. The first would be experienced when Krishna goes into the forest with the cows, returning in the evening; the second is Krishna's departure for Mathura, etc. In GG, however, the drama is entirely focused on the separation and union related to māna.

An added dramatic effect can be added through the element of pārakīyā or upapati-bhāva, i.e., illicit love or love outside the bounds of legal marriage. This subject is discussed extensively in the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, but not in relation to the specifics of the drama itself. In other words, pārakīyā or svakīyā, the four kinds of separation and their corresponding four kinds of union are not specifically related to this division but are independent, though the former may enhance the intensity of this dynamic. Although both Chaitanya Das and Prabodhananda argue that the Gīta-govinda is about the pārakīyā mood, there is literally no inclusion of that device dramatically. Jiva Goswami also argues in his commentary to UN 5.10-11 that the GG is not about pārakīyā love

Māna refers to the disagreements that keep lovers from fulfilling their desires to embrace and experience love in union, even when they are together in each other's presence, i.e., even when the only obstacle is internal.

dampatyor bhāva ekatra sator apy anuraktayoḥ |
svābhīṣṭāśleṣa-vīkṣādi-nirodhī māna ucyate ||
The mood that prevents the lover and beloved from enjoying the embraces and gazes that they both desire, even when they are together in the same place and truly love one another, is called māna. (UN 15.74)
All four kinds of vipralambha can be found in the Bhāgavatam, though the accompanying kinds of sambhoga are not fully described. The salient difference in the case of māna in the rāsa story of the Bhāgavatam, however, is that it is Krishna's. There are several reasons for this, the primary one being that the BhP has a dominant allegorically theistic theme, in which God controls the destinies of the individual souls represented by the gopis, and therefore retreats when they become proud, which is the root meaning of the word māna. Of course, the ten verses of the bhramara-gīta are filled with a gopi's angry and jealous feelings, but this is not the same as māna as described in the above verse from UN because it has no direct effect on Krishna in the story line. Although it reflects a mood, it does nothing to achieve union, which in the BhP is a completely ambiguous affair that needs much exegetical skill to get around.

The GG verse quoted here is given by Rupa Goswami as his example of māna, and since this verse actually precedes our second essential verse from GG, we have been obliged to already discuss it to some extent as it was glossed in the quote from Caitanya-caritāmṛta. This verse simply introduces the subject of māna, but in fact, māna is the only subject of the Gīta-govinda. It is really the only dramatic device in the work.

However both kinds of māna are present in GG. The first is the one that is being described in our cited verse, sahetuka-māna or īrṣyā-māna, the other, ahetuka-māna or praṇaya-māna comes later. In the first situation, that described here, there is a real cause: Radha sees Krishna surrounded by her competitors and he is reveling in the attention he is getting from them. So she becomes jealous and leaves the scene, awakening him to the power of her love. This event strictly speaking stands outside the theme or cycle of the eight nāyikā avasthās. It is as though the first mäna simply has the purpose of softening Krishna up, the second is to bring him fully under her control. In the first she has him dead to rights -- he is a philanderer; in the second, she lets him know that she will not allow even a hair's breadth of mental infidelity to invade their intimacy.

In this cycle, which we are referring to as the dominant myth of Radha-Krishna that is adopted by Rupa Goswami and illustrated most clearly in GG, the māninī is called khaṇḍitā. In GG, the khaṇḍitā nāyikā is described in the Eighth Sarga. Although no details are provided of why Krishna does not come to the arranged meeting in the previous sarga, Radha believes that he has seduced the go-between (düté).

ullaṅghya samayaṁ yasyāḥ preyān anyopabhogavān |
bhoga-lakṣmāṅkitaḥ prātar āgacchet khaṇḍitā hi sā |
eṣā tu roṣa-niḥśvāsa-tūṣṇīṁ-bhāvādi-bhāg bhavet ||
When the lover misses a rendezvous because he has been enjoying with another woman and appears in the morning displaying the proofs of his infidelity, the heroine's state is that of the offended woman (khaṇḍitā). She is characterized by anger, heavy breathing, silence and so on. (UN 5.85)
This kind of māna pervades the texts on dramatic literature. One of the principal divisions made of the nāyikā's character is based on the way she acts when she has been mistreated by her lover, whether she meekly accepts it (mugdhā) or is strong in enforcing the rule of law to her man (pragalbhā). In fact, Radha is described at the complete nāyikā: she is madhyā, meaning that she can adopt either strategy as necessary to control her lover (Cf. UN 5.42). But she is famous for the latter stance, as vāmā, contarian rather than compliant.

Jayadeva's full description comes in Prabandha 17:

yāhi mādhava yāhi keśava mā vada kaitava-vādam |
tām anusara sarasīruha-locana yā tava harati viṣādam ||
Just go away Madhava! Just go away! Keshava, stop telling me lies. O lotus-eyed one! Go and follow the one you really love, the one who will remove your distress.
In later literature, both in Sanskrit and the vernacular, such as of Chandi Das, the khaṇḍitā theme becomes one that is much loved with numerous tropes being added as Radha sarcastically dresses Krishna down. [Cf. Padyävalé 216-219]. Her anger can expressed either patiently and with control, often sarcastically (dhīrā), angrily and with cruel invective (adhīrā) or a combination of both (dhīrādhīrā). Since Radha's range is greater and since she masters all such techniques, she falls into the lattermost category. (Cf. UN 5.34-41).

The word māna ("measure, weight" -->; "self worth" --> "pride") has two different uses. One is the kind of frustrated anger and displeasure that is half explicable, half not, and seemingly causes a distance to grow between lovers. That is the meaning in Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi chapter 15.74-146. The other meaning, from chapter 14, is a sthāyi-bhāva, which in effect tries to explain the underlying reasons, based in love, that such manifestations take place.

In other words, māna is not just a feature of the dramatic plot, where Radha or Krishna stop talking to one another until one or the other one gives in and begs, “Please make it stop! Don’t push me to the breaking point! I can’t live without you.” Rather, it is a particular state of love, which lies between sneha and praṇaya.

Māna means pride, because love does not just mean losing your identity in the loved one. It also means finding value in yourself. Rudra Bhatta says (and Rupa Goswami quotes):

snehaṁ vinā bhayaṁ na syān nerṣyā ca praṇayaṁ vinā
tasmān māna-prakāro’yaṁ dvayoḥ prema-prakāśakaḥ
Without sneha, there would be no fear. Without praṇaya, there would be no jealousy. Therefore māna reveals these two other states of love also (or, māna reveals the love of both nāyaka and nāyikā). (UN 15.78)

In the Gaudiya conception, Radha’s māna is durjaya-māna. She does not give in so easily, but eventually she has to. Because she loves Krishna, she also needs him, but she has something to prove. Before she can trust him, she needs to push the screws in deeper. It is a kind of torture, really, but one that is only effective if Krishna is already in love with her. It is simultaneously a test for love and a purification process. When he sees how much he needs her, how no other woman can replace her, not even the infinity of women who are available to him, then his self-centered attitude as the object of love is shattered and he learns to appreciate what it means to be a true lover. Without sneha he would not have the fear of losing her love. But without her māna his love would not be purified.

Radha is Krishna’s Other. And he must surrender to her. That is her power. And from her point of view that is not so much a conscious thing as the result of her loving attitude known as māna. Māna arises in Radha whenever she thinks she is being treated like a mere hanger-on, an appendage to Krishna's self-objectification. This characterization of the subordinate, submissive and admiring woman later is personified in Rupa Goswami's work as Chandravali.

If Krishna has been with Chandravali and comes to Radha, she naturally says, “Well if you think I am just another Chandravali, then what is the point? There already is a Chandravali out there. As a matter of fact, not one, but countless Chandravalis. For a handsome and heroic chap like yourself, Chandravalis are a dime a dozen. So what do you want with me?”

But Chandravali is also a part of Radha. This is not some kind of sado-masochistic dominatrix līlā with whips and black leather. The way the līlā has been described, Krishna is one, but he is also two: there is the bahu-vallabha Krishna of BhP, in whom the element of aiśvarya remains. And the rādhā-vigata-prāna Krishna of GG, who gives up this indifferent supremacy and all-attractiveness to become the attracted one.

The point is that for Krishna to be fulfilled, he must transcend being the one who has sādhāraṇa-praṇaya, whose love is generalized, even the one who is equal to all living creatures (samo'ham sarva-bhūteṣu, Gita 9.29). The dialectic of love, the process of maturation, comes through commitment and surrender--even for Krishna. Otherwise love has no real meaning for him.

māno dadhāno viśrambhaṁ praṇayaḥ procyate budhaiḥ
When the different feelings of māna take on the qualities of trust, then that is called praṇaya (UN 14.108)
The synthesis of the līlā comes about through the earning of trust (viśrambha), which deepens the sense of intimacy that was originally established in sneha.

Interestingly, Gaudiya commentaries to BhP 10.29.48 attempt to explain the word māna as the love pride of Radha rather than follow Sridhar Swami and others in defining it as simply egoistic pride. Prabodhananda also tries to equate the māna of Radha in GG to the activities of the "special gopi" in BhP. In fact, however, the difference between the two kinds of māna is the essence of the difference between the two depictions of rāsa.

Krishnadas Kaviraj has the following nice verses about māna in the śuka-śārī debate in Govinda-līlāmṛta. The shari has heard the shuka say how Krishna is the real juicy one and how the gopis are meanies. Now she answers:

antaḥ sadā rasa-mayo’pi bahiḥ samudyat-
kauṭilya-dhārṣṭya-vara-valkala-parva-rukṣaḥ |
mānākhya-yantraṇam ṛte na rasa-prado’sāv
ikṣu-prakāṇḍa iva vaḥ prabhur acyutākhyaḥ ||

Your master, known as the "infallible one" is no doubt juicy inside, but externally he has many rough edges. He is brazen and deceptive. These disqualifications are like the rough, tough and bumpy exterior of sugarcane. Just like you need a machine to extract the juice from the sugarcane, so you need a machine to extract that juice inside Krishna, and this machine's name is māna. (GLA 11.22)

Then they give a second example in the same vein.

antaḥ-snigdhād bahiḥ-śāṭhya-valkalāt sneha-lambhanam |
vāmya-niṣpīḍanād eva kṛṣṇāt kṛṣṇa-tilād iva ||23||

Just like you need to grind the sesame seeds to extract the oil, the gopis' and specifically Radha's vāmya-bhava to get the love out of Krishna. (GLA 11.23)
There is a pun based on the double meaning of sneha, which means both oil and love.

Some of this material was taken from an earlier article, which can be seen HERE.

Verse 1: Krishna, the Embodiment of the Erotic Rasa
Verse 2: Krishna, the Lover of Radha
Verse 3: Radharani's māna
Verse 4: Radha, the empress of love.
Verse 5: Rasa-niṣpatti.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

The Five Essential Verses of Gita Govinda (Verse 2)


Krishna, the Lover of Radha

Our second verse is taken from Gīta-govinda's third chapter—

kaṁsārir api saṁsāra-vāsanā-baddha-śṛṅkhalām |
rādhām ādhāya hṛdaye tatyāja vraja-sundarīḥ ||
Krishna, the enemy of Kamsa, took Radha, who is the link that makes all his hopes for happiness possible, into his heart and left aside all the other cowherd beauties. (3.1)
The context in GG is provided by the next verse we will cite. Radha has seen Krishna as described in verse 1.48 and is not pleased. She has become overwhelmed by jealous anger and has left the scene of the rāsa. We shall discuss this further in the appropriate place.

In Rupa Goswami's categorization of the madhura-rasa in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, this verse is given as an example of kṛṣṇa-rati, which in this case does not mean (as is customary in BRS) love for Krishna, but Krishna's own love for another, in this case Radha. Although from the theological point of view it goes without saying that God loves his devotees (Cf. Gītā 4.11), in each description of rasa, he is generally presented primarily as the object of devotional love (viṣaya) rather than as the āśraya, or reservoir of love for his devotee. In this case, a significant exception is being made.

This in itself should be considered a significant development. It would seem that this change in emphasis is a result of the poetic tradition that considers the mutuality of romantic love to be necessary for the production of rasa. Even though the sentiments of the nāyikā are usually elaborated more fully than those of the nāyaka, if the love of the two is not equal, then the sentiment falls into the category of rasābhāsa. This also leads to one of the fundamental problems that poeticians have in dealing with religious devotion as a rasa, which those who oppose declare is a only a subordinate emotional state (bhāva) that never reaches full-fledged rasa. 

The verse is centered around the interesting compound word used to describe Radha: saṁsāra-vāsanā-baddha-śṛṅkhalām, nearly every word of which is theologically inappropriate. Miller translates, "Feeling Radha bind his heart with chains of memories buried in other worldly lives," and Siegel, "having placed Radha in his heart as the chain binding him with desire for the world." However construed, the language is inappropriate where theology is concerned. God has no worldly life or repeated birth and death (saṁsāra), no conditioned desires (vāsanā), and is certainly not bound by chains (baddha-śṛṅkhalām). These words fit the descriptions of woman as the source of material bondage, but how can they have any relevance to God?

Vishwanath rightly points out that the verse is a paradoxical statement. Krishna is the enemy of the material condition, which is represented by the word kaṁsa  Now here he himself is being shackled by a desire for saṁsāra! How can it be? (kaṁsāriḥ kaṁsasya ariḥ | ari-bhāvena saṁsāra-nāśako’pi svayaṁ saṁsāra-vāsanayā baddha iti virodhābhāsaḥ |)

Jiva Goswami says that saṁsāra should be taken to mean samyak sāraḥ, "the most perfect essence." In Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Krishnadas glosses the word as meaning the rāsa dance itself. But Krishnadas probably elucidates most clearly what meaning these verses (along with the immediately following GG 3.2) have for the Gaudiya Vaishnavas in Ramananda Ray's conversations with Chaitanya; for him, this verse is the central evidence of Radha's glories.

First, GG 3.2:

itas tatas tām anusṛtya rādhikām
anaṅga-bāṇa-vraṇa-khinna-mānasaḥ |
kṛtānutāpaḥ sa kalinda-nandinī-
taṭānta-kuñje viṣasāda mādhavaḥ ||
His mind afflicted by the wounds inflicted by Cupid's arrows, he wandered here and there in search of Radhika. Overcome by remorse, he came to a bower by the banks of the Yamuna and there started to lament. (CC 2.8.107)
Now the rest of Ramananda's explanation:
One can understand Radha's glories simply by contemplating these two verses. Through reflecting on them, it is as though one is tapping a mine of ambrosia. Although Krishna was enjoying the rāsa in the company of hundreds of millions of gopis, only a single form remained next to Radha. When she saw that Krishna's love was equal towards all the gopis [including herself], her love took a crooked turn and she became contrarian.

aher iva gatiḥ premṇaḥ svabhāva-kuṭilā bhavet |
ato hetor ahetoś ca yūnor māna udañcati ||
Like those of a snake, the movements of love are naturally crooked. For this reason, loving pride (māna) arises between lovers, sometimes for good reason and sometimes without any reason at all. (CC 2.8.111, Sarasvatī-kaṇṭhābharaṇa 5.48)

When Krishna did not see Radha, who had left the rāsa dance out of anger and loving pride, he became confused and distressed. Lord Krishna's perfected desire is his wish for the rāsa-līlā, but Radha is the essential link in that desire. Without Radha, he felt no pleasure in the rāsa dance, and so he left the group and went looking for her. When he could not find her after looking all over for her, he began to lament, afflicted by the arrows of Cupid. Since Krishna's desires could not be satisfied even in the midst of hundreds of millions of gopis, we can deduce the extent of Radha's glories. (2.8.112-116)
We will talk further of Radha's māna in the discussion of the next verse, and the apotheosis if Radha will be complete in the fourth verse in which the cycle of the Gīta-govinda is completed.  And this is in fact the essence of GG: We start out in the first verse with a depiction of Krishna's divine attribute of being the supreme male, the all attractive one, but here we see him being subjugated by love. Gīta-govinda is a paean to the power of a woman's love. Radharani making a man out of Krishna, making him a human being where he had only been a god! The lesson here is thus that it is better to love than to be loved.

Prabodhananda correctly points out that this expression saṁsāra-vāsanā-baddha-śṛṅkhalām is a description of the internal potency.

tābhir ya eva nija-rūpatayā kalābhiḥ |
goloka eva nivasaty akhilātma-bhūto
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi ||
I adore the original conscious being, Govinda, whose portions are imbued with the ambrosia of the spiritual bliss potency, who are verily extensions of his own self, residing with them in his abode of Goloka even as he is the universal soul of all beings. (Brahma-saṁhitā, 5.48)
So the second verse of our quintet is to show Krishna as the āśraya of love. The power of Radha's love, which is here being shown as her refusal to accept any competitors. She demands exclusivity of Krishna as much as Krishna demands ekāgratā of his devotees.

Verse 1: Krishna, the Embodiment of the Erotic Rasa
Verse 2: Krishna, the Lover of Radha
Verse 3: Radharani's māna
Verse 4: Radha, the empress of love.
Verse 5: Rasa-niṣpatti.