Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Clever gopis

I have probably posted these verses somewhere before, but I don't know where, so I am just giving them again. These verses are found in Padyāvali, but the fact that most of them can be found in Sad-ukti-karṇāmṛtam shows that they date back to at least the 12th century.

aṅgulyā kaḥ kavāṭaṁ praharati kuṭile mādhavaḥ kiṁ vasanto
no cakrī kiṁ kulālo na hi dharaṇidharaḥ kiṁ dvijihvaḥ phaṇīndraḥ
nāhaṁ ghorāhi-mardī kim asi khaga-patir no hariḥ kiṁ kapīśo
rādhā-vāṇībhir itthaṁ prahasita-vadanaḥ pātu vaś cakra-pāṇiḥ

"Who's knocking on the door?"
"Don't be cunning, it's Madhava." "The spring?"
"No, Chakri." "What, a potter? What do I need with a potter?"
"No, it's Giridhari." "What, a two-tongued snake?"
"No I am not a snake. I am the destroyer of the terrible snakes."
"Then you must be Garuda, the eagle."
"No I am Hari." "A monkey, then?"
May Krishna, who holds the disk in his hand,
who was thus made to laugh by Radha's witty answers,
deliver us all from saṁsāra.

This is the original "knock knock joke." Madhava means both Krishna and the spring. Chakri means "he who holds the discus" and a potter (who turns the potter's wheel). Dharaṇīdhara means both the lifter of Govardhana and Ananta, thus the reference to a snake. "The destroyer of the snakes" refers to the killing of Aghasura or domination of Kaliya. Garuda is also known by this name. Hari has many meanings, but Radha takes it to mean monkey (kapīśa).

This verse is also found in the compilation Subhāṣitāvali, 130.

kas tvaṁ bho niśi keśavaḥ śirasijaiḥ kiṁ nāma garvāyase
bhadre śaurir ahaṁ guṇaiḥ pitṛ-gataiḥ putrasya kiṁ syād iha
cakrī candramukhi prayacchasi na me kuṇḍīṁ ghaṭīṁ dohanīm
itthaṁ gopa-vadhū-jitottaratayā hrīṇo hariḥ pātu vaḥ 282

"Who's there?" "Keshava."
"Are you so proud of your hair, then?"
"No, this is Sauri, the son of Vasudeva."
"Well, the qualities have all gone to the father
and I have no business with the son."
"O moon-face one, you don't understand, it's Chakri."
"Oh, you must be the potter who has come to deliver
a pitcher, a jug and a milking pail!"
Thus defeated in this exchange of words,
Hari blushed. May he deliver us all.

Keśa means hair.This verse is also quoted in the compilation Sad-ukti-karṇāmṛtam (1.56.3). Rupa Goswami credits the verse to Chakrapani, about whom no information can be given.

vāsaḥ samprati keśava kva bhavato mugdhekṣaṇe nanv idaṁ
vāsaṁ brūhi śaṭha prakāma-subhage tvad-gātra-saṁsargataḥ
yāminyām uṣitaḥ kva dhūrta vitanur muṣṇāti kiṁ yāminī
śaurir gopavadhūṁ chalaiḥ parihasann evaṁvidhaiḥ pātu vaḥ 283

"Where did you stay (vāsa) last night, Keshava?"
"My clothes (vāsa)? Why I am wearing them.
And did I tell you how enchanting your eyes are?"
"You rascal, explain where you have been (vāsa)."
"Explain my fragrance (vāsa)?
My beauty, this fragrant perfume
has come to me from touching you."
"You cheat! Where did you spend the night?"
"Stolen by the night? The night has no body;
how can it steal anything?"
May that Krishna,
who disarmed Radha with his witty replies,
deliver you from the suffering of saṁsāra.

This verse is quoted at BRS 2.1.83 where it is given as an example of Krishna's genius (or pratibhA) in being able to refute arguments. (See NOD 21, but note that Srila Prabhupada's version differs somewhat from the one given here. Here Krishna has missed his rendez-vous with Radha and is only coming to meet her the following morning. She wants to get answers and he is avoiding them. The last line is explained by the word break yāminyām uṣita (“Where did you pass the night?” or yāminyā muṣita (“Were you stolen by the night?”).

This verse is also quoted in Sad-ukti-karṇāmṛtam (1.56.4).

rādhe tvaṁ kupitā tvam eva kupitā ruṣṭāsi bhūmer yato
mātā tvaṁ jagatāṁ tvam eva jagatāṁ mātā na vijño’paraḥ
devi tvaṁ parihāsa-keli-kalahe’nantā tvam evety asau
smero vallava-sundarīm avanamac chauriḥ śriyaḥ vaḥ kriyāt 284

"Radha, are you angry (kupitā)?"
"No, you are the father of the world (ku-pitā)."
"Then you are the mother (mātā) of the universe."
"No, you are. For you alone know all things
and thus can know its measure (mātā)."
"My goddess, you have unlimited expertise
in argumentative joking." "And you, too."
Hearing this, Krishna smiled and
bowed his head to the milkmaid beauty;
may he bestow auspiciousness on you all.

This verse is also quoted in Sad-ukti-karṇāmṛtam (1.56.1). Rupa ascribes it to Harihara, while Sridhara in SKM ascribes it to Vakpati. Rupa has changed the verse slightly to make it an exchange between Radha and Krishna rather than Laksmi Narayan.

And before there is too much of a good thing and we all grow completely tired of this stuff, here are the other samples of this type of verse found in Sad-ukti-karṇāmṛtam:

ko'yaṁ dvāri hariḥ prayāhy upavanaṁ śākhāmṛgeṇātra kim
kṛṣṇo'haṁ dayite bibhemi sutarāṁ kṛṣṇaḥ kathaṁ vānaraḥ
mugdhe'haṁ madhusūdano vraja latāṁ tām eva puṣpānvitām
itthaṁ nirvacanīkṛto dayitayā hrīṇo hariḥ pātu vaḥ 285

"Who's that at the door?" "Hari."
"Go back to the forest. We don't need any monkeys around here."
"Darling, it's Krishna." "Ooh, that scares me even more,
I have never seen a black monkeys."
"Don't be silly, it's Madhusudana."
"A bumblebee? Then go back to
gathering honey in the flower garden!"
May that Krishna,
who was thus rendered speechless by his beloved Radha,
deliver you from the suffering of samsara.
This verse is also quoted in Sad-ukti-karṇāmṛtam (1.56.2). where it is ascribed to Subhankara.

These four verses are found in Padyāvali. Lee Siegel in his book on Indian humor draws attention to this kind of verse, calling them Sanskrit "knock knock" jokes. These are very much the kind of playfulness about language that marks Sanskrit humor and, in particular, Rupa Goswami's vision of Radha and Krishna's playful exchanges.

S. K. De decries the excessive sophistication of Rupa Goswamis' gopis, who seem to no longer simple cowherd girls. The contrast between his Radha and that of Manohara or Chandi Das, or even that of Jayadeva, is marked. In Rupa's language, Radha is ramya-vāk ("pleasing speech") and narma-paṇḍitā ("a sharp wit"); she can hold her own in repartee and even beat Krishna, the source of all knowledge, at this game. (64 arts)

Here are the verses from the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi (4.27-29) that are examples of these particular qualities in Radha:

O pretty-faced Radhika,
What is this syllabled sweetness
That appears from your mouth?

Friend, because of it the cuckoo appears imperfect
And even nectar now means nothing.

"Are you the teacher of that flute, Krishna,
Or is that flute of yours the teacher here?
In either case, neither of you
seems to have anything better to do
than steal pious housewives' virtue."

"Be gracious, O Lord, augmenter of merit,
Of virtuous reputation, constantly cleansed
By the worship of Shiva in chaste girls' breasts,
I perform your rite of lustration.
To worship the sun I have bathed,
So don't touch, don't touch my body!"

Translations taken from "Radha: the quintessential gopi" by Neal Delmonico, JVS 5.4. pp. 127-8.

The two latter verses show different kinds of wit. The first is what is called aniścayānta-sandeha alaṅkāra, displaying apparent doubt in order to make a point.

The wit of the second verse is based on double meaning, as with the verses below, which Vishnu Das quotes in his commentary on the above verse. The second meaning here is mostly conveyed through tone of voice: "Be gracious, O Lord, destroyer of merit, of infamous reputation, constantly 'cleansed' by worshiping Shiva in married women's breasts, etc." (The rest is the same.)

Shiva in the breast refers to the usually breast-like shape of the Shiva linga. Of course, after making such a simultaneously sarcastic and flirtatious comment to Krishna, he naturally would respond, "Well, you are certainly a chaste girl, and I certainly cannot leave with such fine lingas as these unworshiped. So please allow me to show my devotion to this deity both externally with my hands, and internally with my heart." As he makes his move, however, Radharani stops him, saying, "No, don't touch me. We are single-minded devotees of the Sun God and it is against our religion to promote the worship of Shiva.


Vrajvihari Sharan said...

Excellent! Absolutely divine descriptions of Bhagavan Shri Shri Yugala Kishor, and I am glad you taken the time to post these 12th C references to the relationship b/w Kishori Ju and Shri Sarveshwar. Quite helpful in rejecting the ''scholarly'' theory that Radha is a 16th C invention.
Jay Jay Shri Radhe Shyam!

Har Har Mahadeva! said...

"No, don't touch me. We are single-minded devotees of the Sun God and it is against our religion to promote the worship of Shiva."


halley said...

hahahaha . wow !!

i felt so good reading this . i have even bookmarked it to read it to my friends .

so funny and yet so full of mellow and bhakti . wonderfull

Jagat said...

Thanks for all your appreciative comments, Halley. It is nice to see you are enjoying these humble contributions.