Five Essential verses of Gita Govinda (Verse 4)

Jayadev Foundation Trust

Radha, the Empress of Love

Our fourth essential verse of the Gīta-govinda or Gita-govinda pañca-ślokī, comes in the final chapter and summarizes the last prabandha or song 24.

racaya kucayoś citraṁ patraṁ kuruṣva kapolayor
ghaṭaya jaghane kāñcīṁ mugdha-srajā kavarī-bharaṁ |
kalaya valaya-śreṇīṁ pāṇau pade maṇi-nūpurāv
iti nigaditaḥ prītaḥ pitāmbaro’pi tathākarot ||
Radha said, "Draw pictures on my breasts,
decorate my cheeks with dots of musk,
tie a sash of bells around my hips,
braid my hair with a charming garland.
Place bangles on my wrists and
jeweled ankle bells on my feet."
So being told, the yellow-robed Krishna,
being pleased, did so. (12.25)

This is the last verse that contains a description related to the overall dramatic theme of the Gīta-govinda. Rupa Goswami quotes it at UN 5.93 as an example of the svādhīna-bhartṛkā. As we have been saying, the eight situations of the heroine are the principal theme of GG and this is the culmination of that cycle: Radha's complete victory.

Radha is on the stage and it is the final dramatic scene of the Gīta-govinda, the lovers have just made love and it is a happy ending! And now to culminate the scene, Radha, like an empress on her flower bed, looks toward Krishna and says, in effect, "Peel me a grape." She calls him mugdha, "cute but foolish" and he is prīta, pleased.

As we concluded the last section, Krishna has been through the wringer like sugar cane through the press of Radharani's mäna. Let us just say that he is very, very thankful to all the gods and saints that Radha has finally accepted him back into her good graces and back into the boudeoir, the nikuñja.

So it is a clear victory. The flag was thrown down in Prabandha 19, perhaps the most famous song in the entire GG, and Krishna capitulated completely,

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 the wounds they inflicted.
Radha went through a little turmoil before finally allowing herself to be persuaded by the sakhi to allow Krishna into her flower-drenched boudeoir and, after lovemaking, Krishna is in a state of dazed gratitude and Radha, the empress of love, enjoys the peace and camaraderie that comes when she is recognized in all her glory. She is the svādhīna-bhartṛkā. And Krishna pays homage to her.

The definition of svādhīna-bhartṛkā as given by Bharata Muni is meant to show the way that the nāyikā should be played on the stage.

suratātirasair baddho yasyāḥ pārśve tu nāyakaḥ |
sāndrāmoda-guṇa-prāptā bhavet svādhīna-bhartṛkā ||
vicitrojjvalaveṣā tu pramododyotitānanā |
udīrṇa-śobhā ca tathā kāryā svādhīna-bhartṛkā ||
The nāyaka is bound to her now because the nectar of lovemaking is so completely blissful, so is constantly by her side. Her dress will be bright and colorful, her face will be bright with pleasure, her effulgence spreading, that is how she should be depicted. (NŚ 15.224-225)
Correspondingly Krishna has reached the limits of the dhīra-lalita nāyaka, one who is completely under the control of his beloved.

vidagdho nava-tāruṇyaḥ parihāsa-viśāradaḥ
niścinto dhīra-lalitaḥ syāt prāyaḥ preyasī-vaśaḥ

Krishna fits the model of the adolescent (nava-tāruṇya), who knows what the girls like (vidagdha), who has a "great sense of humor" (parihāsa-viśārada). He doesn't have a worry in the world (niścinta). And finally, he is completely dependent on his mistress: He is straiṇa, that least heroic of qualities, the one that every male dreads, the ultimate challenge to his monadic independence. This is Krishna as the anukūla-nāyaka, or agreeable hero.

So here, after Krishna kneels next to Radha, his hands folded like Garuda in expectation of an order, Radha begins to speak.

kuru yadu-nandana candana-śiśira-
tareṇa kareṇa payodhare |
mṛgamada-patrakam atra mano-bhava-
maṅgala-kalaśa-sahodare ||
nijagāda sā yadu-nandane krīḍati hṛdayānandane ||

The refrain or dhruva pada: "She said to Yadu Nandana, the delight of her heart, as he played with her." The verses then are her words. She opens with an order, "Do..." (kuru). Ah, what a long path we have come from the opening words of the Bhagavad Gita!
Oh Yadu Nandan! With your hand cooler than sandalwood, make musk decorations on my breasts, which are like twins of the auspicious pots marking the sacrifice of Cupid.
Prabodhananda says that the mention of Krishna's cool hands are only a way of saying that she intends to light his fire once again by having him touch her intimately.

Of Radha's 25 qualities, the crowning quality is santatāśrava-keśavā, "She always keeps Krishna at her beck and call." (See UN 4.48). Naturally, this is where the Vaishnava sees the perfection of his philosophy being realized, and Prabodhananda's commentary on 12.25 does an excellent job of resuming the argument. He begins with Krishna's assertion that he is under the control of his devotees, "as if without any independence" (ahaṁ bhakta-parādhīno hy asvatantra iva dvija, BhP 9.4.63), reminds us of Krishna's assertion in the Gita that he responds to everyone in the way that they approach him (ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy ahaṁ, Gītā 4.11), his admission that he is unable to repay the gopis their love for him (na pāraye’haṁ, BhP 10.32.22). And so we come to the great ruling principle of the bhakti-mārga which is that love is even greater than God, and that even God seeks and surrenders to love. And that power of love is fully present in Srimati Radharani alone.

Whereas in the Bhägavata, the gopis represent love of God in almost metaphorical terms, here Radha has been divinized as the Power of Love, which in Gaudiya Vaishnava theology will receive the titles of hlādinī-śakti and mahā-bhāva-svarūpiṇī.

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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