Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dana Lila in Fateh Krishna's Rasa at Jai Singh Ghera

This post was on Vrindavan Today a while back, but I am adding it here because of the dana theme, which we are covering more or less exhaustively on this site. Without commentary here.

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Fateh Krishna Ji pays sashtanga pranams to the swaroops before the performance.

Vrindavan, 2011.08.13 (VT): Today was the last day of the Rasa Lila at Jai Singh Ghera. I have been coming down with a cold and there has been a certain amount of fatigue involved in producing this series, as shallow a presentation as it has been. Still, I am happy that my initiation into this Braj tradition was such a delightful one. My limitations in understanding the language were, at times, acute. Since humorous argument delivered rapid fire seems to be a staple of the Rasa Lila, these limitations were especially evident in plays like today's, the Dana Lila, in which such argument dominates.

The dāna-līlā is a subject I have some interest in, as I have been working on Dāna-keli-kaumudī for some time now. Here the difference is that Radha dresses up as a prince to exact tolls from the other gopis, but who are going this time with Krishna and Madhumangal who are also dressed as women themselves.

To be honest, I could not understand the rationale for such a switch other than just Radha's desire to enjoy things from the other side. Lalita tells Krishna what Radha has planned, and so the whole lila is conducted in full awareness of the role-playing. Radha the prince asks her sakhis to act as her ministers, but they are very well disguised, appearing for the most part like older men!

Radha the prince's courtiers and ministers begin (while Krishna is changing costume) by glorifying Vrishabhanu Nandini as the queen of Braj.

The opposing sides are ranged against each other.
In the next scene, Krishna and a file of gopis, including Madhumangal minus his moustache, dressed as a woman. Later we find out that her wares consist of govar kachoris. The two sides size each other up. On Radharani's side today is the actor who has been playing Madhumangal or Mansukh in about half the other plays. So basically we have two Madhumangals today. The "other" Madhumangal is one of the prince's courtiers. The two of them will duke it out as well as do a bit of wild dancing together.

Radha and Krishna tussling over his wares.
So basically, the two sides argue over what wares they have and how much they should be taxed. Radha tries to snatch Krishna's jug of butter, but Krishna won't let go. It turns into something of a dance.

The lila concludes with Krishna paying his taxes
 by placing butter directly into Radha's mouth.

And of course, all's well that ends well. A bit of a strange pastime I have to admit, one that indicates that Radha and Krishna are fully conscious of role-playing at all times. Well, that concludes our series...almost. I will be adding an interview or conversation I had with Swami Fateh Krishna later on today.

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