Five Essential verses of Gita Govinda (Verse 3)

From Jayadev Foundation Trust.


Radharani's māna

viharati vane rādhā sādhāraṇa-praṇaye harau
vigalita-nijotkarṣād īrṣyā-vaśena gatā'nyataḥ
kvacid api latā-kuñje guñjan-madhu-vrata-maṇḍalī
mukhara-śikhare līnā dīnāpy uvāca rahaḥ sakhīm||
When Radha saw Hari frolicking in the forest,
treating all the women with equal affection,
she felt her own special status had melted away.
Envy and anger arose in her, and she went off.
Somewhere, in a vine covered bower,
where bees buzzed in circles overhead,
she hid, and forlorn in her solitude,
confided to her friend.
If the first two verses of our five described Krishna as the viṣaya and then as the āśraya of love; now this verse points to the essential mechanism that transforms him from the one role to the other. This will be further explained in our analysis of the fifth verse.

The third verse of the Gīta-govinda pañca-ślokī appears in the latter portion (verses 25-35) of BRS 3.5, the abbreviated chapter on madhura-rasa, which could be seen as equivalent to the last chapter (15) of the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, namely the divisions of śṛṅgāra-rasa (śṛṅgāra-bheda). This subject summarizes the fundamental dramatic elements of a love story.

The main divisions of śṛṅgāra are vipralambha and sambhoga, separation and union. In BRS, three kinds of vipralambha have been described (rather than the four delineated in UN), namely pūrva-rāga, māna and pravāsa. These are the feelings of separation prior to the first meeting, love quarrels, and the separations that arise with the short and long comings and goings imposed by circumstance, respectively.

The third separation, pravāsa, is subdivided in UN into the daily short separations and the long, distant separation. The first would be experienced when Krishna goes into the forest with the cows, returning in the evening; the second is Krishna's departure for Mathura, etc. In GG, however, the drama is entirely focused on the separation and union related to māna.

An added dramatic effect can be added through the element of pārakīyā or upapati-bhāva, i.e., illicit love or love outside the bounds of legal marriage. This subject is discussed extensively in the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, but not in relation to the specifics of the drama itself. In other words, pārakīyā or svakīyā, the four kinds of separation and their corresponding four kinds of union are not specifically related to this division but are independent, though the former may enhance the intensity of this dynamic. Although both Chaitanya Das and Prabodhananda argue that the Gīta-govinda is about the pārakīyā mood, there is literally no inclusion of that device dramatically. Jiva Goswami also argues in his commentary to UN 5.10-11 that the GG is not about pārakīyā love

Māna refers to the disagreements that keep lovers from fulfilling their desires to embrace and experience love in union, even when they are together in each other's presence, i.e., even when the only obstacle is internal.

dampatyor bhāva ekatra sator apy anuraktayoḥ |
svābhīṣṭāśleṣa-vīkṣādi-nirodhī māna ucyate ||
The mood that prevents the lover and beloved from enjoying the embraces and gazes that they both desire, even when they are together in the same place and truly love one another, is called māna. (UN 15.74)
All four kinds of vipralambha can be found in the Bhāgavatam, though the accompanying kinds of sambhoga are not fully described. The salient difference in the case of māna in the rāsa story of the Bhāgavatam, however, is that it is Krishna's. There are several reasons for this, the primary one being that the BhP has a dominant allegorically theistic theme, in which God controls the destinies of the individual souls represented by the gopis, and therefore retreats when they become proud, which is the root meaning of the word māna. Of course, the ten verses of the bhramara-gīta are filled with a gopi's angry and jealous feelings, but this is not the same as māna as described in the above verse from UN because it has no direct effect on Krishna in the story line. Although it reflects a mood, it does nothing to achieve union, which in the BhP is a completely ambiguous affair that needs much exegetical skill to get around.

The GG verse quoted here is given by Rupa Goswami as his example of māna, and since this verse actually precedes our second essential verse from GG, we have been obliged to already discuss it to some extent as it was glossed in the quote from Caitanya-caritāmṛta. This verse simply introduces the subject of māna, but in fact, māna is the only subject of the Gīta-govinda. It is really the only dramatic device in the work.

However both kinds of māna are present in GG. The first is the one that is being described in our cited verse, sahetuka-māna or īrṣyā-māna, the other, ahetuka-māna or praṇaya-māna comes later. In the first situation, that described here, there is a real cause: Radha sees Krishna surrounded by her competitors and he is reveling in the attention he is getting from them. So she becomes jealous and leaves the scene, awakening him to the power of her love. This event strictly speaking stands outside the theme or cycle of the eight nāyikā avasthās. It is as though the first mäna simply has the purpose of softening Krishna up, the second is to bring him fully under her control. In the first she has him dead to rights -- he is a philanderer; in the second, she lets him know that she will not allow even a hair's breadth of mental infidelity to invade their intimacy.

In this cycle, which we are referring to as the dominant myth of Radha-Krishna that is adopted by Rupa Goswami and illustrated most clearly in GG, the māninī is called khaṇḍitā. In GG, the khaṇḍitā nāyikā is described in the Eighth Sarga. Although no details are provided of why Krishna does not come to the arranged meeting in the previous sarga, Radha believes that he has seduced the go-between (düté).

ullaṅghya samayaṁ yasyāḥ preyān anyopabhogavān |
bhoga-lakṣmāṅkitaḥ prātar āgacchet khaṇḍitā hi sā |
eṣā tu roṣa-niḥśvāsa-tūṣṇīṁ-bhāvādi-bhāg bhavet ||
When the lover misses a rendezvous because he has been enjoying with another woman and appears in the morning displaying the proofs of his infidelity, the heroine's state is that of the offended woman (khaṇḍitā). She is characterized by anger, heavy breathing, silence and so on. (UN 5.85)
This kind of māna pervades the texts on dramatic literature. One of the principal divisions made of the nāyikā's character is based on the way she acts when she has been mistreated by her lover, whether she meekly accepts it (mugdhā) or is strong in enforcing the rule of law to her man (pragalbhā). In fact, Radha is described at the complete nāyikā: she is madhyā, meaning that she can adopt either strategy as necessary to control her lover (Cf. UN 5.42). But she is famous for the latter stance, as vāmā, contarian rather than compliant.

Jayadeva's full description comes in Prabandha 17:

yāhi mādhava yāhi keśava mā vada kaitava-vādam |
tām anusara sarasīruha-locana yā tava harati viṣādam ||
Just go away Madhava! Just go away! Keshava, stop telling me lies. O lotus-eyed one! Go and follow the one you really love, the one who will remove your distress.
In later literature, both in Sanskrit and the vernacular, such as of Chandi Das, the khaṇḍitā theme becomes one that is much loved with numerous tropes being added as Radha sarcastically dresses Krishna down. [Cf. Padyävalé 216-219]. Her anger can expressed either patiently and with control, often sarcastically (dhīrā), angrily and with cruel invective (adhīrā) or a combination of both (dhīrādhīrā). Since Radha's range is greater and since she masters all such techniques, she falls into the lattermost category. (Cf. UN 5.34-41).

The word māna ("measure, weight" -->; "self worth" --> "pride") has two different uses. One is the kind of frustrated anger and displeasure that is half explicable, half not, and seemingly causes a distance to grow between lovers. That is the meaning in Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi chapter 15.74-146. The other meaning, from chapter 14, is a sthāyi-bhāva, which in effect tries to explain the underlying reasons, based in love, that such manifestations take place.

In other words, māna is not just a feature of the dramatic plot, where Radha or Krishna stop talking to one another until one or the other one gives in and begs, “Please make it stop! Don’t push me to the breaking point! I can’t live without you.” Rather, it is a particular state of love, which lies between sneha and praṇaya.

Māna means pride, because love does not just mean losing your identity in the loved one. It also means finding value in yourself. Rudra Bhatta says (and Rupa Goswami quotes):

snehaṁ vinā bhayaṁ na syān nerṣyā ca praṇayaṁ vinā
tasmān māna-prakāro’yaṁ dvayoḥ prema-prakāśakaḥ
Without sneha, there would be no fear. Without praṇaya, there would be no jealousy. Therefore māna reveals these two other states of love also (or, māna reveals the love of both nāyaka and nāyikā). (UN 15.78)

In the Gaudiya conception, Radha’s māna is durjaya-māna. She does not give in so easily, but eventually she has to. Because she loves Krishna, she also needs him, but she has something to prove. Before she can trust him, she needs to push the screws in deeper. It is a kind of torture, really, but one that is only effective if Krishna is already in love with her. It is simultaneously a test for love and a purification process. When he sees how much he needs her, how no other woman can replace her, not even the infinity of women who are available to him, then his self-centered attitude as the object of love is shattered and he learns to appreciate what it means to be a true lover. Without sneha he would not have the fear of losing her love. But without her māna his love would not be purified.

Radha is Krishna’s Other. And he must surrender to her. That is her power. And from her point of view that is not so much a conscious thing as the result of her loving attitude known as māna. Māna arises in Radha whenever she thinks she is being treated like a mere hanger-on, an appendage to Krishna's self-objectification. This characterization of the subordinate, submissive and admiring woman later is personified in Rupa Goswami's work as Chandravali.

If Krishna has been with Chandravali and comes to Radha, she naturally says, “Well if you think I am just another Chandravali, then what is the point? There already is a Chandravali out there. As a matter of fact, not one, but countless Chandravalis. For a handsome and heroic chap like yourself, Chandravalis are a dime a dozen. So what do you want with me?”

But Chandravali is also a part of Radha. This is not some kind of sado-masochistic dominatrix līlā with whips and black leather. The way the līlā has been described, Krishna is one, but he is also two: there is the bahu-vallabha Krishna of BhP, in whom the element of aiśvarya remains. And the rādhā-vigata-prāna Krishna of GG, who gives up this indifferent supremacy and all-attractiveness to become the attracted one.

The point is that for Krishna to be fulfilled, he must transcend being the one who has sādhāraṇa-praṇaya, whose love is generalized, even the one who is equal to all living creatures (samo'ham sarva-bhūteṣu, Gita 9.29). The dialectic of love, the process of maturation, comes through commitment and surrender--even for Krishna. Otherwise love has no real meaning for him.

māno dadhāno viśrambhaṁ praṇayaḥ procyate budhaiḥ
When the different feelings of māna take on the qualities of trust, then that is called praṇaya (UN 14.108)
The synthesis of the līlā comes about through the earning of trust (viśrambha), which deepens the sense of intimacy that was originally established in sneha.

Interestingly, Gaudiya commentaries to BhP 10.29.48 attempt to explain the word māna as the love pride of Radha rather than follow Sridhar Swami and others in defining it as simply egoistic pride. Prabodhananda also tries to equate the māna of Radha in GG to the activities of the "special gopi" in BhP. In fact, however, the difference between the two kinds of māna is the essence of the difference between the two depictions of rāsa.

Krishnadas Kaviraj has the following nice verses about māna in the śuka-śārī debate in Govinda-līlāmṛta. The shari has heard the shuka say how Krishna is the real juicy one and how the gopis are meanies. Now she answers:

antaḥ sadā rasa-mayo’pi bahiḥ samudyat-
kauṭilya-dhārṣṭya-vara-valkala-parva-rukṣaḥ |
mānākhya-yantraṇam ṛte na rasa-prado’sāv
ikṣu-prakāṇḍa iva vaḥ prabhur acyutākhyaḥ ||

Your master, known as the "infallible one" is no doubt juicy inside, but externally he has many rough edges. He is brazen and deceptive. These disqualifications are like the rough, tough and bumpy exterior of sugarcane. Just like you need a machine to extract the juice from the sugarcane, so you need a machine to extract that juice inside Krishna, and this machine's name is māna. (GLA 11.22)

Then they give a second example in the same vein.

antaḥ-snigdhād bahiḥ-śāṭhya-valkalāt sneha-lambhanam |
vāmya-niṣpīḍanād eva kṛṣṇāt kṛṣṇa-tilād iva ||23||

Just like you need to grind the sesame seeds to extract the oil, the gopis' and specifically Radha's vāmya-bhava to get the love out of Krishna. (GLA 11.23)
There is a pun based on the double meaning of sneha, which means both oil and love.

Some of this material was taken from an earlier article, which can be seen HERE.

Verse 1: Krishna, the Embodiment of the Erotic Rasa
Verse 2: Krishna, the Lover of Radha
Verse 3: Radharani's māna
Verse 4: Radha, the empress of love.
Verse 5: Rasa-niṣpatti.


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