Monday, August 31, 2009

Gopala-vijaya Dana-lila translation, Part II

(3) Chapter 38 (54)

1. When Kanai said all these things, the gopis felt no limit to either their excitement or distress. 2. They all went to Barai’s side, and sighing heavily, with sad faces they spoke. 3. “We have heard all these things from Krishna, so how do you advise us, Barai? 4. What crazy God created woman? We don’t even know what is the proper thing to say. 5. We never heard of anyone having to pay taxes on youthful beauty, anywhere from here to the salt-water. 6. He is engaged in all this useless debate in your presence. How can anyone even speak of the impropriety!?

Naturallly there seems to be a great deal of missing undertone. Like here, how much of this is serious? What is the tone of voice? Over the top. Offended. Of course, that is the whole point, isn’t it?

7. "Much as we laugh and supplicate, it has no effect on the rascal Kanai. 8. He does not have a single one of the characteristics of a customs officer. His cruel words are intolerable. 9. He claims to be a customs officer, yet has no hesitation in describing a woman’s youth and beauty as though he were her husband. 10. He acts like some tough guy and tries to frighten us, and when he starts to intimidate us, it makes us tremble. 11. He glorifies his own prowess with his own tongue. Indeed he recognizes nothing but his own strength. 12. He does not speak respectfully of the king, nor does he respond to humility. 14. He stands in front of us with his arms outstretched, saying he will catch us if we try to flee. 15. A real customs man would never say even one of these things. Why is he causing so much trouble? 16. My heart cannot tolerate his words, I have spoken what is on my mind, Barai. 17. Let’s go, Barai, and you can tell everyone at home all that Nanda Kumar is saying. 18. If Kanu goes on saying these wicked things, then I will jump into the Yamuna and kill myself.”

19. When the gopis had said all these things, Barai started laughing and spoke the following few words. 20. “You have spoken well, girls, there is nothing to do but give up. 21. Let’s all go together and speak to him. Let us try go to Nanda Kumar and try to please him. 22.

25. I can tell you one thing and that’s for sure: No one gets to Nanda’s son Krishna by force. 26. You know that Krishna is the great tax collector for all time. What gain is there in making false claims and arguments? 27. Krishna softens with love; if you try to force him, he responds with force. And by the strength of his arms, he does indeed rule over all Gokula. 28. Indra and the other gods cannot stop him by force, and for fear of him, Kamsa trembles convulsively. 29. Being women, what can you gain by disputing with him? Even a little bit of such argument can cause great folly. 30. You want to send me to tell the cowherds what is going on, but if I don’t stay here, nothing will get done here. 31. Like the daughter in the Ananta-vrata, I will be damned if I do, damned if I don’t. If I stay I gain nothing, but if I leave I will be blameworthy.

Unfortunately I do not know this Ananta-vrata reference. Doing research. The kind of advocating that Barai is doing on behalf of the gopis is a little different from SKK and here , her function as guru to the gopis is being demonstrated. If so, it would be worth analyzing her speech in terms of this role here, particularly verse 25.

UPDATE: See B.A. Gupte, *Hindu Holidays and Ceremonials*, p. 7ff, for an account of the "first Anantavrata" performed by Shila, daughter of Sumanta, for her husband Kaudinya. Kaudinya loses his mind and wanders off into the forest, 
until he learns for himself the value of the Anantavrata. At the point when
he rejects her sacrifice and leaves, one might say that Shila has nothing to gain by staying but would be at fault if she left him. (Thanks to Zo Newell)

32. When the gopis heard Barai's sweet words, they feigned anger and said, 33. "You are a good person and are speaking nicely. We can understand that you are making all these suggestions in view of the current circumstances. 34. But Kanai is a rascal and you are speaking well of him like this. By doing so, you are bringing doom on yourself and your clan. 35. Well, we understand what you have said, Barai, and so we will all go and present ourselves to Kanai. 36. We will speak directly to him as best we can. What can anybody do? We will be able to leave at our own pleasure.”

37. Having said these words, the gopis all went to Kanu, seeing which Krishna covered his mouth to hide a laugh. 38. “Oh cowherd women! What have you come to argue? If Murari does not get his taxes, he won’t let you go.

This can either be seen as Krishna speaking of himself in the third person or a comment of the author. More likely the first.

39. Alright, then, if you won’t pay the tax, then listen up. You may go to Mathura market, but you will have to leave Radha here. 40. Radha will have to stay here with me as bond, then when you come back and pay me off, she can go home with you.`

41. Hearing this, Barai laughed and said, “It’s just like lime dust here and there on an untouchable’s cooking pot (? chutāhāḍi-mājhe jena cuna ṭhāi ṭhāi). 42. You are so generous, Kanai, speaking so nicely. Would you have no shame before your own father? 43. How long does Rahu cover the moon? Who puts a deer in the care of a lion? 44. Who gives a flower garland to an intoxicated elephant? And what fool pours ghee on a blazing fire? 45. What ignorant person is there in the entire world who would go off, leaving Radha in Kanai’s hands? 46. The Veda says that a thief wants darkness, a cheat seeks confusion, and a debauche desires solitude. 47. If you are looking for a bond, Kanai, then I will stay with you and let Radha go with the others to market.”

48. Damodar heard this and burst out laughing. Then showing her displeasure, Radha addressed Barai as follows. 49. “Say what you will, Barai, I think you are crazy. People grow older, but their character flaws remain. 50. Kanai doesn’t say anything that is not filled with a wicked purpose. And now you are starting to flirt (ḍhāmāli) with him yourself? 51. Well, whoever wants to can go. I don’t want to go to market any longer. Let whoever wants take her wares, I am going home.”

52. With these words Radha went a little distance; she kept the old woman and the gopis underneath a tree, 53. drew a line around them with her feet and kept them inside this circle while she went off to complain to Nanda Maharaj.

I don’t quite understand what happened here. My interpretation seems to be wrong. It looks from what happens later that the gopis leave Radha behind.

54. Kavisekhara says this is all Radha’s cleverness, which has the intention of giving more pleasure to Vanamali Krishna.

Certainly this theme is essentially different from the SKK and closer to the Goswamis. What I think is clear is that the Goswamis take it for granted, as something that has already been established and does not quite need the explanation.

(4) Chapter 39 (39)

1. As she was leaving, Radha looked askance at Krishna, and he lost all composure. 2. Leaping forward he came to Radha Chandravali, like a lion in front of a fawn. 3. Radha’s frantic eyes looked in all directions, but all she saw was Nandanandan standing in front of her. 4. Seeing him, she began to shake like a banana tree trembling in the summer breeze.

5. Krishna said, “Radhe, you don’t recognize me. On what power do you think you will be able to disrespect me and leave? 6. I am holding you here by the banks of the Yamuna. We will see what your Kamsasura* can do to help you. (*other readings: Aihana, gopa. ) 7. I am holding you by the corner of your cloth and I won’t let you go until I have written the taxes that are due.”

8. And with that, Krishna started to engage in all kinds of flirtatious acts. Radha answered him, 9. “Don’t touch my cloth, Krishna. Have you no shame? You have no fear of God or society. 10. Nothing anyone says seems to change your misguided mentality. And what can anyone add to what you have already heard? 11. I am watching your shameless behavior. You are having great fun ruining my life. 12. Kanu, you are so blinded by lust that you don’t listen to anyone. You don’t think about whether there will be good consequences to your actions or bad. 13. You hear Kamsa’s name and immediately run and hide in whatever house you can find. You see the wife of a cowherd and set a trap for her.

14. “Stop it, just stop it, Kanai. What if someone sees? Don’t touch my bodice. What if you should scratch me? 15. Watch out, you might break my necklace. What do you think you can accomplish by force, by this kind of behavior? 16. I swear on Yashoda’s name that if you touch me... if you leave any scratch marks on this white body... 17. Don’t kiss my lips, shameless Kanu, you have abandoned any sense of shame; you have no fear. 18. I am a married respectable woman and happen to be here alone. Everyone knows what kind of behavior you engage in.

20. “Nearby, the swollen Yamuna is perilous; nobody comes this way and there is a wide open field. 21. The day is coming to an end and the path is far away. And back home are my fearful in-laws. 22. All the girlfriends who came with me have been conspiring against me. Leave me alone Kanai and let me live. 23. What else can I say? Fate is being cruel to me. I have brought this upon myself by coming with Barai. 24. I don’t know where she has disappeared to at this moment, leaving me hanging. Like she is leaving me here in the middle of a raging fire to burn. 25. It will be a good deed, Kanai if you let me return home. Who knows what Barai has been telling them back there?"

Just a word about the above section. This is also a variation on the theme of rasa-dhvani that is particularly famous. See Sāhitya-darpaṇa 1.2, and also svāmī mugdhataro, etc. The basic idea is that Radha appears to be telling Krishna of the dangers of a negative situation, but in fact she is stressing her availability and the propitious circumstances. This also makes the last verse of the previous chapter clear.

26. Seeing Kanai’s deviousness, Barai left the other sakhis and came running back to Radha. 27. Badai had known of Krishna’s misbehavior for a long time and had gone āti tepāntare to amuse Radharani. 28. She knew that if she was late, it would not be good. The whole of Gokula would fill with shame. 29. Thinking this, she came quickly and saw both Radha and Krishna at the base of the kadamba tree.

30. On seeing Barai, Radha felt her strength double. But she did not look away from Krishna. 31. Covering her breasts with her arms, she receded in fear. 32. Seeing Barai, she look at her with anxiety-filled eyes and then quickly spoke with a trembling voice. 33. “O Mother, look at Kanai’s behavior. He has grabbed my cloth and is blocking me here on the path. 34. None of the sakhis is saying anything. Krishna managed to separate me from the rest of the girls and get me here alone. 35. Kanu doesn’t let me get a word in edgewise. He says he wants me to pay taxes, but then he won’t take them. 36. Just judge Kanu’s state of mind; can you tell me why he is insulting people like this?”

37. When Radha had finished this speech, Rasika Murari let go of her cloth. 38. “O.K. Radhe, I have released your cloth. Now are you going to give me what you owe?”

39. Kavishekhar says, “Listen to the Gopāla-vijaya, people, for it is a downpour of nectar."

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