All shastras lead to Braja-nagara

The hot season is here. Satya Narayan Dasji sets off to his summer tour of Europe and America. We spent the last few weeks cramming in the last twenty or so anucchedas of Paramātma-sandarbha, and I must say it was invigorating. I will probably have occasion to talk a little more about Paramātma-sandarbha before I finish editing the translation.

I was thinking of my good fortune to be here in Vrindavan and my day job is having to study and understand Jiva Goswami's Paramātma-sandarbha! I just hope that Sri Jiva Prabhu lets me help work on the last two. In the meantime, the hot season is here, and Vrindavan is beginning to bake. But I notice that last year I had one of the most productive months where this blog is concerned. I think I did a bit of a housecleaning, like I am trying to do now also. Still trying to come up with a magnum opus out of all this.

The last two days, I took a bit of a brain vacation, adjusting to the change of season, remembering a bit how much I enjoyed the heat last year. But that was June. It is still April and the temperatures only get to 40, not 47, which is indeed substantially hotter. I only did three blogs in June 2012.

The last few days I have been spending most of my time listening to recordings of Gīta-govinda by various artists, especially prabandha 24, which is Radha as svādhīna-bhartṛkā, and now 19, which is Krishna trying to pacify Radha's māna and the famous line where Krishna asks Radha to place her foot on his head. In my discussion of Chandi Das, I mentioned this song, a translation of which is found in Vrindavan Khanda of Sri Krishna Kirtan. One of the things I tried to point out in that series was about the kind of audience Chandi Das would have had, especially here: Sadharani-karana revisited. In that article I cross compare with Rupa Goswami's intended audience in the Dana-keli-kaumudi. But I have not so much discussed who would have been the audience for the Gita-govinda.

From a North Indian illustrated edition.
 I don't think that I am really in a position to do justice to the subject, but let me give something of an outline. Jayadeva was a court poet in one of India's most famous cultural royal courts, that of King Lakshman Sen. As Jayadeva makes pretty clear, it was a competitive environment (GG 1.4), but he seems to have been the crown jewel of the jewel studded cast of poets at the court. At least he had no hesitation in declaring it himself.

Now the culture of the court is not the same as that of the common man. It is the "high culture" of the time. And indeed, if there is any sign that court patronage had an effect on national culture, it is here. The Gita-govinda had a profound influence on the culture of both Bengal and Orissa, where the poem is the exclusive entertainment of the greatest king, who gets to watch his own pastimes before he goes to bed each night.

So who is Jayadeva's audience? It is the urban sophisticate of the time, the educated courtier or nāgara. The nāgara was not specifically a religious person. He is the person for whom the kāma-śāstra was written.  It is a typically courtly culture, and as is usually the case, the hero of their literature is also a nāgara. Little wonder that Chandi Das gets a bit of a laugh out of it. His Krishna is no nāgara.

But in our analysis of Rupa Goswami, we have been getting at the point that he sanskritized many of the themes and tropes of the vernacular culture typified by Chandi Das, sat it on top of the weighty foundation of the Bhagavata theological, and synthesized it with the character of Krishna as the Vraja-nāgara.

In the Sarva-saṁvādinī to Bhagavat-sandarbha 107, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī elaborates on the extensive list of quotations showing that Krishna or Bhagavan is the ultimate goal of all the scriptures, directly or indirectly. Verses such as,

sarvaiś ca vedaiḥ paramo hi devo
jijñāsyo nānyo vedaiḥ prasidhyet |
Only the Supreme Lord is to be searched out from all the Vedas. They do not popularize anyone else. Therefore, after studying and deliberating over all the Vedas, a person yearning for liberation should desire to know only Him. (Atharva-śikhā)
In that list, he goes through all the branches of knowledge to explain how each one of them serves a purpose leading to the ultimate purpose, Bhagavan. There is no point in going through the whole list here, suffice it to say that the field of knowledge that would have been the courtier's staple are given pride of place at the end of it, grouped together :

atha vedānugāny aparāṇy api śāstrāṇi vakṣyamāṇa-hetoḥ samanvayante....
kāvyālaṅkāra-kāma-tantra-gāndharva-kalās tu
tasya tat-tac-carita-mādhuryānubhava-vaiduṣya-siddheḥ |
Other scriptures which follow the Veda can be synthesized to that purpose for the following reasons.... The poetic arts [including theater], the kāma-śāstras, and music all help to achieve the perfection in the expertise at experiencing the sweetness of the Lord's relevant activities. (Sarva-saṁvādinī to Bhagavat-sandarbha 107)
Now these are the very staples of the bhakti movement. And for all the dry preliminary achievements offered by the various doctrines and teachings other sciences offer, here one is being offered expertise in relishing the Lord's sweetness. Is there any higher achievement to be aspired to?

The bhakti movement is most associated with the vernacular languages. But as I have been saying, Rupa Goswami was probably doing something similar to what Jayadeva did, namely merging folks motifs and, in Jayadeva's case. particular rhythms into the Sanskritic tradition. Rupa of course had already inherited Jayadeva and his followers as his forerunners and was building on them. Jayadeva is the single greatest influence on rasika Vaishnavism, though all the sources besides the Bhāgavata that Mahaprabhu relished, Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta, Jagannātha-vallabha-nāṭaka, Chandidas and Vidyapati are strands of the rasika tradition that are at the basis of the great explosion of Radha-Krishna culture in the wake of his appearance.

I was just looking at Shashibhushan Dasgupta's Rādhāra krama vikāśa, and he also says (p. 120) that the real vehicle for the development of the Radha cult or culture was in the literary tradition. And it is fairly obvious that the reason was rasa. And that is the particularly ball that Rupa Goswami took and ran with.

There is much to say about how a bhakti tradition, which is essentially democratic and meant for everyone, should be Sanskritized. After all, Sanskritization indicates an elite who not only know the Sanskrit language, but are refined and educated in other ways also. (Again, read this.) Chanting Harinama is fully democratic, but the culture of relishing rasa is something that requires, at least in this tradition, a high degree of accomplishment. To think that the former fulfills all the conditions of the latter without the requisite culture is simply foolish.

Jayadeva was clearly in an environment and tradition that already had developed the rasika side of Radha-Krishna madhura-rasa, while the theological side was still underdeveloped and awaiting the coming of Rupa Goswami. But in his case, perhaps more than anyone prior to him, was to identify the nameless "universal" nāgara, the connoisseur of the Sanskrit poetic tradition with Krishna. As we would expect: the God of the courts would be their "ideal man."

For Rupa Goswami, Krishna may be a cowherd, and the gopis make fun of him for his lack of sophistication, but in fact he will always be the vidagdha-śiromaṇi. More can obviously be said, but to do that you practically have to read everything Rupa wrote. Let's leave that for the time being.

We have an edition of Gīta-govinda with Prabodhananda's commentary on the Grantha Mandir. I am going through that as I listen. I am not entirely convinced that this is Prabodhananda's work for various reasons. Nevertheless, it is a damned good commentary, which ties in all the various strands named in Jiva Goswami's list, as well as illustrating many of the points from the Bhagavatam. Though these are some similarities with other commentaries, according to Haridas Das, but I have not been able to compare. But if it proves to be as original as it looks, it is likely worth translating. I wrote something about all that here. [I would wait for the revised edition before downloading, though.]

The Gīta-govinda has been translated and commented on so many times that I likely have little to offer in that respect. Some can be found on the internet. But keeping one eye on Prabodhananda, let us just look at that one song refered to above. This is not an official translation. I just want to highlight a few points.

The first point is that Radha is already somewhat pacified when Krishna sings this song. He knows that he has to be both serious and funny at the same time. If he can make her laugh and at the same time believe in his sincerity, then he will be assured of success.

In the final verse of the song, this is confirmed where Krishna's words are described as caṭula-cāṭu-paṭu-cāru, "sweet, entreating, clever and charming." This is really what the vidagdha-nāgara aspires to.

The first verse is sung as something of an invocation.

vadasi yadi kiñcid api danta-ruci-kaumudī
harati dara-timiram atighoram |
sphurad-adhara-sīdhave tava vadana-candramā
rocayatu locana-cakoraṁ ||2||
If you say anything at all, then the rays of light from your teeth
will efface the terrible darkness in which I flounder.
May your moon face give delight to the chakora of my eyes
by distributing the nectar of your smile.
priye ! cāru-śīle ! muñca mayi mānam anidānaṁ |
sapadi madanānalo dahati mama mānasam
dehi mukha-kamala-madhu-pānaṁ ||dhruva-padaṁ ||
Dear one! Kind-hearted one !
Give up this jealous anger. It has no basis.
The fire of loving desire is constantly burning my mind,
so quench my thirst with the honey of your lotus lips.
Jayadeva makes no real distinction between "lust" and "love." The fire of lust (madanānala). For the nāgara, as for Rupa Goswami's samarthā-rati, there is no real distinction. They are united in a love that is both.


satyam evāsi yadi sudati mayi kopinī
dehi khara-nakhara-śara-ghātam |
ghaṭaya bhuja-bandhanaṁ janaya rada-khaṇḍanaṁ
yena vā bhavati sukha-jātaṁ ||3||
O Radhe, if you are really angry with me
then torture me with the sharp tips of your fingernails;
imprison me in your arms and bite my lips
as much as it takes to bring you pleasure.
"I have committed an offense and I should be punished. So scratch me, embrace me, kiss me. It will make you happy..."


tvam asi mama bhūṣaṇaṁ tvam asi mama jīvanaṁ
tvam asi mama bhava-jaladhi-ratnam |
bhavatu bhavatīha mayi satatam anurodhinī
tatra mama hṛdayam atiyatnaṁ ||4||
You are my ornament, you are my life,
you are the pearl in my ocean of existence!
May you always be favorable to me,
My heart will take great care that this is so.
This is for me one of the most powerful verses for its simplicity and straightforwardness. There is no attempt at humor here, only a sincere statement of love and commitment.


nīla-nalinābham api tanvi tava locanaṁ
dhārayati kokanada-rūpaṁ |
kusuma-śara-bāṇa-bhāvena yadi rañjayasi
kṛṣṇam idam etad-anurūpam ||5||
Slender one! Your eyes are as dark as the blue lotus
but they have taken on a ruby red color [from anger and tears].
If you use them as Cupid's arrows and redden me,
you will make this black Krishna the same as them.
A bit of a tough one to translate. The idea is that when you shoot someone, they are covered in blood, so they become red. But becoming red is the same as becoming attached or loving. So the etymological connection between rāga, anurāga, rakta, etc. from the verb rañj. The word appears several times in the song.


sphuratu kuca-kumbhayor upari maṇi-mañjarī
rañjayatu tava hṛdaya-deśam |
rasatu raśanāpi tava ghana-jaghana-maṇḍale
ghoṣayatu manmatha-nideśam ||6||
May the jeweled necklace dance on your breast pitchers,
may they give color to your heart;
may the belled girdle around your hips ring
and announce the order of the mind-churning God of Love.
The Sanskrit is easy. The English rendition is tough. Anyway, the metaphorical allusion is to the sacrificial ritual, with the establishment of the auspicious waterpots and the musical sounds. But the intent is "let's make love." Here, the poeticians definition of māna as deprivation of the desired embraces, etc., even when there is no external impediment. In other words, Radha wants Krishna and he knows it. So how long is she going to be able to keep it up?


sthala-kamala-gañjanaṁ mama hṛdaya-rañjanaṁ
janita-rati-raṅga-parabhāgam |
bhaṇa masṛṇa-vāṇi karavāṇi caraṇa-dvayaṁ
sarasa-lasad-alaktaka-rāgam ||7||
Your feet are beautiful than the land lotus, the ornament of my bosom,
the enhancer of the highest feelings of love,
O sweet-voiced darling, please order me, and I will
decorate them with the red alaktaka paint.
Krishna here glorifies Radha's feet in preparation for the next verse. Like the gopis want to hold Krishna's feet to their breast, Krishna also wants to hold Radha's feet. Prabodhananda also says this is a sexual position, krauñca-mudrā.


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.
So that is the famous verse.


iti caṭula-cāṭu-paṭu-cāru mura-vairiṇo
rādhikām adhi vacana-jātam |
jayatu jayadeva-kavi-bhāratī-bhūṣitaṁ
māninī-jana-janita-śātam ||9||
Thus spoke the enemy of Mura to Radhika,
words that were sweet, entreating, clever and charming.
May these words, put in poetic language by Jayadeva
bring joy to all women who are afflicted with jealous rage.
Well, I rushed through that a bit. My point is that this poem is meant to appeal to the Sanskrit-knowing sophisticate of the courts and reflects the lifestyle of the courtier as depicted in various first millennium Sanskrit literary works. The synthesis of the religious and the secular views of love, especially the particular viewpoint of the nāgara, is something that Rupa Goswami is, I think, particularly concerned with and is worthy of exploration.

B.G. Narasingha Maharaj speaks of this in this post Secret of Prema - Rasika or Sahajiya?, where he repeats Bhakti Promode Puri Maharaj's warning: "There is a wave of sahajiyaism coming to the Western world and you must preach against this misconception." We are, of course, doing our best to make sure this wave is a tsunami, but we want it to be done right. Here is another article on translating Gita Govinda that illustrates some of the inherent problems.


dr.jaya said…
jayadevabilvamaGgala mukhaiH kRtA ye 'tra santi sandarbhAH |
teSAM padyAni vinA samAhRtAnItarANyatra ||387||

Sri Roopa at the end of 'Padyavali' , which was his compilation of a few special Sanskrit verses by various Rask saints, humbly suggested the rasik devotees to enjoy the compositions and devotional poetry by the highly esteemed Rasik saints such as Jayadeva and Bilvamangala in entirety, since their works were so worthy and so exquisite that there could not be a single verse to be excluded.

So Roopa had taken special care not to include even a single verse from them in his 'Padyavali' unlike the quotes of other saints, since the poetic works of Jayadeva and Bilvamangala deserved to stand alone in their own highly elevated status of Rasa Kavya.
Padyavali . 387
Jaya Sri Radhe!
dr. jaya said…
This question was raised ..
"So who is Jayadeva's audience?" ..
Sri Jayadeva himself mentioned in his 'Gita Govinda Kavya' - about the selective audience and the divine effects on the listener as well as the singer starting with:

yadi hari-smaraNe sarasam mano .. yadi vilaasa-kalaa-su kutuuhalam |
madhura-komala-kaanta padaavaliim .. shR^iNu tadaa jayadeva sarasvatiim || 1-3

.. and the last verse of every Ashtapadi proclaims the glorious devotional benefits .. So I have those Sanskrit verses here for the enjoyment of Rasik devotees ..

shriijayadevakaveridamuditamudaaram | shR^iNu sukhadam shubhadam bhavasaaram | keshava dhR^itadashavidharuupa jayajagadiishahare || a pa 1-11

shriijayadevakaveridam kurute mudam e |
ma~Ngalamujjvalagiitam jaya jaya deva hare || a pa 2-9

shriijayadevabhaNitamidamudayati haricharaNasmR^itisAram | sarasavasantasamayavanavarNanamanugatamadanavikaaram || a pa 3-8

shriijayadevabhaNitamidamadbhutakeshavakelirahasyam |
vR^indaavanavipine lalitam vitanotu shubhaani yashasyam || a pa 4-8

shriijayadevabhaNitamatisundaramohanamadhuripuruupam |
haricharaNasmaraNam prati samprati puNyavataamanuruupam || a pa 5-8

shriijayadevabhaNitamidamatishayamadhuripunidhuvanashiilam |
sukhamutkaNThitagopavadhuukathitam vitanotu saliilam || a pa 6-8

varNitam jayadevakena hareridam pravaNena |
bindubilvasamudrasa.mbhavarohiNiiramaNena || harihari - kupiteva - a pa 7-8

shriijayadevabhaNitamidamadhikam yadi manasaa naTaniiyam |
harivirahaakulavallavayuvatisakhiivachanam paThaniiyam || a pa 8-8

shriijayadevabhaNitamitigiitam |
sukhayatukeshavapadamupaniitam || a pa 9-8

bhaNati kavijayadeve virahivilasitena |
manasi rabhasavibhave harirudayatu sukR^itena || a pa 10-8

shriijayadeve kR^itahariseve bhaNati paramaramaNiiyam |
pramuditahR^idayam harimatisadayam namata sukR^itakamaniiyam || 11-8 a pa

shriijayadevakaveridamuditam| rasikajanam tanutaamatimuditam || a pa 12-8

May this auspicious song said by poet Jayadeva cause utmost gladness to aesthetic people...

haricharaNasharaNajayadevakavibhaaratii |
vasatu hR^idi yuvatiriva komalakalaavatii || a pa 13-8

hari charaNa sharaNa jayadeva kavi bhaaratii vasatu hR^idi yuvatiH iva komala kalaavatii || a pa 13-8
Let the idiolect of poet Jayadeva, whose only resort is at the feet of Krishna, be abiding in the bosoms of all, like an exquisite, fine-limbed damsel, well-versed in sixty-four arts...

shriijayadevabhaNitahariramitam |
kalikalushhaM janayatu parishamitam || a pa 14-8

iha rasabhaNane kR^itahariguNane madhuripupadasevake |
kaliyugacharitam na vasatu duritam kavinR^ipajayadevake || a pa 15-8

shriijayadevabhaNitavachanena |
pravishatu harirapi hR^idayamanena || a pa 16-8
shriijayadevabhaNitarativa.nchitakhaNDitayuvativilaapam |
shR^iNuta sudhaamadhuram vibudhaa vibudhaalayato.api duraapam || a pa 17-8

shriijayadevabhaNitamatilalitam |
sukhayatu rasikajanam haricharitam || a pa 18-8

maaniniijanajanitanitaatishaatam || a pa 19-8

shriijayadevabhaNitamadhariikR^itahaaramudaasitavaamam |
harivinihitamanasaamadhitiSThatu kaNThataTiimaviraamam || a pa 20-8

vihitapadmaavatiisukhasamaaje |
bhaNati jayadevakaviraaje || a pa 21-8

shriijayadevabhaNitavibhavadviguNiikR^itabhuuSaNabhaaram |
praNamata hR^idi suchiram vinidhaaya harim sukR^itodayasaaram || a pa 22-8

shriijayadevabhaNitamidamanupadanigaditamadhuripumodam |
janayatu rasikajaneshhu manoramaratirasabhaavavinodam || a pa 23-8

shriijayadevavachasi ruchire hR^idayam sadayam kuru maNDane |
haricharaNasmaraNaamR^itanirmitakalikaluSajvarakhaNDane || a pa 24-8
Jaya Sri Radhe ..!

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