Friday, February 22, 2008

Kalankini Rai

In my bouncing ball way, I have been working on Gadadhar Pran's Govinda-līlāmṛta over the past few days. It will never be edited the way it should be, but the idea is to just get it out there. So I have put a one month or so time limit on the project. When we get there, that's it. Off it goes to Ras Bihari Lal and Sons.

But let's not minimize the work Gadadhar has done here. It is actually quite exceptional. It is chock full of good stuff, as far as Radha Krishna aṣṭa-kālīya līlā is concerned, supplementing Govinda-līlāmṛta with plenty of material from Bhāvanāmṛta-sāra-saṅgraha, Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta, Kṛṣṇāhnika-kaumudī, the Guṭikā, Nāndīśvara-candrikā and lots of relevant quotes from Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Narottam Das and Bhaktivinoda Thakur as well, not to mention many, many mahājana-padāvalī. And, I may add, lots of samples of his own svārasikī bhajana. I dare you to find anyone else who has dared...

For a taste, I give you this brilliant song by Ramananda Basu, one of Mahaprabhu's contemporaries from Kulin Gram. Translated by Gadadhar in his own inimitable fashion, edited by me without removing Gadadhar's inimitable fashion. I will make a comment or two after you have relished it. If you know Bengali, lucky you.

nandera nandana sane, doṣī nahe kon jane ?
gokule ke āche heno nārī ?
hāy hāma abhāginī, hoinu kula kalaṁkinī,
kahile nayane bahe bārī (1)

(1) Is there just one woman in Gokula the son of Nanda hasn’t spoiled? Hay! I admit, I’m one of the unfortunate ones. I too have become a kula-kalaṅkinī, and so I can’t stop crying!

anyera je apajaśa, kahite śunite doṣa,
āchhe heno vidhira vidhān
āmāra kalaɱka joto, gāna kore bhāgavata,
phukāri vedādi purāṇa (2)


(2) The religious scriptures and traditions say it is improper to hear or speak about the faults of others, but my trespasses have been loudly glorified in the Bhagavata, the Vedas and Puranas.

keho gāye dhīre dhīre, keho gāye uccaiḥ svare
keho vā japaye mone mone
emon śunechhi kothā, āmāra adbhuta kathā
guru deya śiṣyera śravaṇe ! (3)

(3) Some recite them softly, others loud and publicly, while yet others repeat them over and over to themselves in meditation! And can you just imagine, I have even heard that there are gurus who initiate their disciples by whispering these faults of mine into their ears!

āmāra kathāya robe je, āmāra mato habe se
vasiyā kohinu vṛndāvane
vasu rāmānanda sukhe, vacana na sphure mukhe
dhārā bahe jugala nayane (4)

(4) Hay, hay! Sitting here in Vrindavan, I declare that whoever remains absorbed in my story will become just like me! The poet Bosu Ramananda concludes: “I’m choked by escstasy, words are failing me; only a stream of tears flow from my eyes!”

Actually I love this song. "Can you just imagine, I have even heard that there are gurus who initiate their disciples by whispering these faults of mine into their ears!" “Whoever remains absorbed in my story will become exactly like me.” Now what on earth does that mean?

Rāgānugā bhakti is about cutting the dykes that hold back the river of divine attraction. That is what the gopis did, that is what Radha did. And for all that they had to suffer the opprobrium of their society.

Now for the people who take a purely literal approach and don't understand the essence of this, it is easy to get lost in detail. The important point is that Krishna is Kama, he is the aprākṛta navīna madana, the all-attractive force. Radha is Prema. Radha--and everyone else--are the attracted. Of course, as Radha heads out on abhisāra and becomes united with Krishna, then the qualities are exchanged. Radha becomes the attractor and Krishna the attracted. But that is another matter.

On the level we are talking about here, Radha is something like a samaṣṭi siddha jīva (please don't quote any verses at me!). She is Guru. She is the leader. She is the heart chakra. Gopi. We follow. That is on the level of God and jiva.

But becoming a kalaṅkini is part of the internal process, at least where the contrast between rāgānugā and vaidhī bhakti is concerned. As someone who periodically parades his kalaṅkas, and whose kalaṅkas are occasionally sung high or whispered low, it is good to know that it all comes from Radharani's curse.

Ah, but I feel the Sahajiya mood oozing out of the pores of this song.

Those who have surrendered to love, they have a part of the puzzle. But only a part. The real solution is in YOGA, in other words making the connection. Not simply a connection between genitals, not even a connection of mutual sense gratification or some of the other lower levels of mutual love, which are occasionally even modestly or spectacularly successful in this world. But the yoga that consciously connects the lovers of this world to the original source of all creation, the Transcendent Divine Couple, is the ultimate yoga, the doorway to madhura rasa. And that, I believe, is what Chaitanya came to give.

Yukta-vairāgya was not just about riding in cars for Krishna, or using computers for preaching. This is what yukta-vairāgya really means.

Anyway, love this song.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Posts like this remind why I still keep reading y our blog. You taught me a lot, and continue to do so from time to time with gems like this!

Wishing you all the best. and best of luck with the editing of GL in one month! (!!!)

Jagat said...

I was just on the phone talking to Gadadhar, whose wife recently gave birth to a son, Premavatar. Names and their meanings...

In his inimitable fashion (I seem to use that word a lot when talking about GP), he was telling me how dry Bhagavat-sandarbha is, and so on. Indeed, I am giving classes on Shankara's commentary on the Gita... I am condemned to maybe years of more dryness.

Anyway, I will be at his place for the Dol Purnima festival, probably getting there a few days early. We are planning some kind of Krishna-lila, Gaura-lila seminars.

Gadadhar is very tense. I don't know but I may burn to a crips if I come too close to his bhajana agni (since agni is a bit of a theme over the past few days).

Radhe Shyam, Jai Gaur Gadadhar!

Mantriki, Tantriki, Yantriki said...

matha hi tapana
tapata patha baluka
atapa dahana vithara

nonika putali tanu
charana kamala janu
dina hi koyolo abhisara

Hari! Hari! premaka gati anivara

kanu parasha rase
paravasha rasavati
vichurala sakala vicara

guru jana nayana
pasha gana varana
maruta mandala dhuli

ta se meli
calali vara rangini
pati geha nitahi bhuli

yoto yoto vighini
jitali anuragini
sadhali manasija mantra

Govinda das kohoi....

ab samujhau...
Hari se rasamoya tantra!