Nikunja-rahasya-stava (Part I)

This prayer is sometimes attributed to Rupa Goswami, but I am almost completely convinced that it is by Prabodhananda Saraswati, whose mood seems to pervade it. This 32-verse rasika poem was introduced to me by my Godbrother Sashanka Shekhar Balniyogi, Doctor Babu as we called him. He published a Bengali translation by Dina Sharan Das Babaji on a flimsy sheet of paper, which I carried around with me for a long time.

The rasika mood is very intense, and I believe that Doctor Babu himself was a closet Sahajiya who meditated on this poem at the appropriate moment. nivṛttānupayogitvāt. May I suggest the same to my friends. Just repeat the refrain: smara nibhṛta-nikuñje rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau! "Oh my mind! Just meditate on Radha and Krishna within the hidden nikunjas!" May their lilas bless you all.

This is a revised version of Gadadhar Pran's translation.


nava-lalita-vayaskau nūtna-lāvaṇya-puñjau
nava-rasa-cala-cittau nūtana-prema-vṛttau |
smara nibhṛta-nikuñje rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau ||1||
Oh my mind! Just meditate on Radha and Krishna within the hidden nikunjas. See them in the freshness of youth, the fullness of sparkling loveliness personified, their minds flickering with the desire to taste the fresh delights of Eros, every one of their acts ordained by the blossoming of their new love. They tremble with eagerness to engage in unsullied lovemaking pastimes.
cchavibhir akhila-vṛndāraṇyam udbhāsayantau |
mṛdula-nava-dukūle nīla-pīte dadhānau
smara nibhṛta-nikuñje rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau ||2||
Oh my mind! Just meditate on Radha and Krishna within the hidden nikunjas! Radha’s bodily hue is like that of molten gold, and Krishna’s resembles a soft, deep-blue rain cloud. Dressed in soft fresh garments of bright yellow and deep blue, Their combined effulgence illumines the entire Vrindavan forest.
priyatama-bhuja-rodha-vyagra-hastau ratotkau |
alam alam iti līlā-gadgadokty-unmadāndhau
smara nibhṛta-nikuñje rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau ||3||
Oh my mind! Just meditate on Radha and Krishna within the hidden nikunjas! Radharani is full of fear due to this being her first tryst with Krishna, so he tries to calm her with various entreaties. Although Radha nervously obstructs her beloved’s roaming hands, both thirst equally for rati! Radha says, “Enough, enough!” in a faltering voice, but that simply increases the intoxicated blindness of Krishna’s love.
nnamita-cibuka-dṛṣṭyā smera-kāntānanābjau |
kim iha kuruṣa ity āsvādya-vāk-kiñcanoktī
smara nibhṛta-nikuñje rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau ||4||
Krishna raises Radha’s lowered chin as he seeks approval for the love delights he desires, and as their eyes meet and they gaze upon each other’s beloved lotus faces, they break into a smile. “What are you trying to do?” Radhika murmurs to Krishna Chandra’s delight. Oh my mind! Just meditate on Radha and Krishna within the hidden nikunjas!
bahu-viracita-nānā-cāṭu-kāra-prakārau |
smara nibhṛta-nikuñje rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau ||5||
Radha’s goes on playfully resisting at every turn, so Krishna tries harder to get her to give him her mercy. Both employ their wits in flattering each other, revealing their deeply hidden zeal for the novelty of enjoying surata-vilāsa. Oh mind! Just meditate on Radha and Krishna within the hidden nikunjas!
surata-kalaha-saukhyaiḥ kākuvāda-praṇāmā-
vadhika-viracita-mānyau durgama-prema-bhaṅgau |
smara nibhṛta-nikuñje rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau ||6||
In their ecstatic quarreling, one pleads, the other bows and apologizes. With this they show excessive respect for each other, unfathomable in their loving dance. Radha teases Krishna with her enticing smile—and Krishna daringly places his hand upon her breast! Oh mind! Just meditate on Radha and Krishna within the hidden nikunjas!
nava-kiśalaya-talpe kalpayantau vicitrāṁ
surata-samara-līlām unmadānaṅga-raṅgau |
smara nibhṛta-nikuñje rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau ||7||
Oh my mind! Just meditate on Radha and Krishna within the hidden nikunjas! The bed is prepared with soft forest leaves, the ideal setting for Kandarpa’s battle. Ananga's intoxicated play begins and the Divine Couple's ornaments, bangles and nupuras start to chime and tinkle sweetly.
ruha-manasija-kaṇḍū-daṇḍa-kandarpa-lolau |
smara nibhṛta-nikuñje rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau ||8||
Oh mind! Just meditate on Radhika and Krishna within the hidden nikunjas! As Kandarpa’s robust lila begins, Priya Keshava’s hand sensuously fondles Radha’s expansive thighs and breasts! Then he lowers his hand and touches the cord that binds her petticoat!
stana-mukula-manojñau vallabhaikātmatecchū |
kim api racita-śuṣka-kranditodāra-hāsau
smara nibhṛta-nikuñje rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau ||9||
Krishna firmly embraces his Kishori-vallabha, crushing her breasts, and each is filled with the desire to become one with their beloved. Radha lets out a dry sob, while Krishna smiles broadly! Oh mind! Just meditate on Radha and Krishna within the hidden nikunjas!
satata-surata-tṛṣṇā-vyākulāv unmadiṣṇū
vipula-pulaka-rājad-gaura-nīlojjvalāṅgau |
mitha uru-parirambhād eka-dehāyamānau
smara nibhṛta-nikuñje rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau ||10||
Always anxious from the thirst for surata-keli, this surata-līlā now intoxicates them. Their bright black and gold bodies swell with horripilation. From the crushing embrace in which they hold each other, it seems that they are becoming one body. Oh my mind! Just meditate on Radha and Krishna within the hidden nikunjas!
satatam aparimāṇojjṛmbhamānānurāgau
mada-rasa-bhara-sindhū lola-dolāyitāṅgau |
dalita-sakala-setū dhanya-gopy-eka-ramyau
smara nibhṛta-nikuñje rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau ||11||
Though their exhilarating anurāga is immeasurable, it continues to swell with every passing moment. They are like oceans filled with some intoxicating liquid, in which their intertwined bodies heave and pitch. All the frontiers of modesty and shame have been broken. This sight is to be relished only by the most fortunate sakhis and manjaris. Oh mind! Just meditate on Radha and Krishna within the hidden nikunjas!
mṛdula-madhura-hāsollāsi-vaktrendu-bimbau |
atirasa-mada-lolau citra-kandarpa-kelī
smara nibhṛta-nikuñje rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau ||12||
Radha’s braid and the necklaces, garlands and earrings of both partners toss; their moon-like faces are excited with sweet and gentle smiles, their intoxication reaches new heights! How filled with variety is the play of Cupid! Oh my mind! Just meditate on Radha and Krishna within the hidden nikunjas!
surata-rasa-madābdhau santataṁ santarantau
truṭita-valaya-kāñcī-dāma-hārāvalīkau |
smara nibhṛta-nikuñje rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau ||13||
While Sri Yugala Kishor frantically swims within the rasa samudra of surata intoxication, their bracelets, necklaces, waist-bells and ankle-bells break and fall aside, along with their gold and jeweled ornaments! Aha! Their unadorned anga madhuri shines like never before! Oh my mind! Just meditate on Radha and Krishna within the hidden nikunjas!

Go to Part II


Anonymous said…
I'm sorry to ask another question, but what can you tell me about the Divine Life Society? I see that they are located in Rishikesh where you are also.

I read about their founder and saw their website. They appear to have alot of similarities with the GV tradition. In fact, is eerie: even some of their key phrases are the same ones that ACBSP used.

Basically: are they okay? i.e. considered a bonafide path in India by Indians? Or do they have huge scandals and problems?

It's interesting to me that their founder gave sannyasa to young men and to foreigners. I did not know that anyone other than ACBSP did that. And when they fell down he just said, "Oh they are lucky/ glorious that they even practiced it for a day!"

So, leads me to wonder if ACBSP may have been in fact influenced by Sivananda [founder]?
Because here are some of the similarities:

__ did public kirtans [railway platforms in India]
__ distributed literature [free]
__ wrote 300 books [using BG and SB but also Patanjali and Upanishads]
__ gave sannyasa to westerners and young men in their twenties
__ one of his sayings was "simple living and high thinking" but he was born before Prabhupada.

Well just wondering if you knew of any cross-cultural influences [that Sivananda may have had on ACBSP]? And if they had the same problems that ISKCON had or not?

Sorry I don't mean to intrude on the mood of your poem. If anyone else knows they may answer also, if that is okay with Prabhuji. Thanks!

Sorry! Just when I saw they are in Rishikesh, I thought of you: that maybe you know some stuff just off the top of your head or even some of the people or key players. But if not then that's cool and sorry for bringing it up.

We now return you back to your regular programming of The Radha and Krsna in the Kunja hour.
I understand that the problem of the authorship of Nikunja Rahsya Stava can be an endless debate, but still I would like to ask a speculative question. What influence would it have on your conviction that the text was written by Prabhodananda Saraswati, if Radha Rasa Sudha Nidhi, a work which is mostly associated with him in GV circles, were a work by Hit Harivamsh?
Jagadananda Das said…
It is not inconceivable that Prabhupada would have been familiar with Sivananda's successes, but many of those ideas belong to the "common property" of Indian spiritual circles.

As to your other question, it is too speculative. But by the time you get to my age, it is true that the bottom has fallen out on numerous attachments and pet theories, and so one gets somewhat less affected by disillusionment, in fact one rather welcomes disillusionments like an old friend. "Ah, what? Another veil removed? Will you leave me with nothing at all?"

Did I not recently write that when with Radhavallabhis, I honor the fact that RRSN is the book that was given to them by the founder of their sect as their most valued possession. I do not aggravate their sentiments by telling them anything different. Harivamsa made it his own, as it were. If, as I think, Prabodhananda gave it to him as his own, then we should honor that act of giving.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for your input Jagat and all your sharings. I think I just want to understand the past within a historical context.

Like there is a website of cliffnotes nowadays called sparks or something like that. Each book summary begins with "Context" i.e. the author's background information is given: what was the historical context in which the book was written. It is deemed important to understand context to understand the literature in academia [my orientation].

So helps me to understand the context, the history. Like a friend is taking a history class, the prof is assigning extra readings so can better understand that period of time in history.

That is why I was asking also what do you think about Eliade Mircea?
Born 1907 - died 1986, he taught at Univ of Chicago. He wrote 1953 Le Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, 1959 The Sacred and The Profane, 1991 Images and Symbols: Studies in Religious Symbolism; plus some other books like The Nature of Religion.

I'm interested what do you think about him because I was under the impression for many years [sigh] that ACBSP was the only person who ever [sigh] brought Yoga to the West. So I just want to understand the cultural "context" of what was REALLY going on.

Like I believe Mircea developed some language used to describe religious phenomenon. Do you think he really contributed anything major to advance the understanding of Yoga? Or you never even read him, he is a peripheral figure?

That's extremely cute your idea "Will you leave me with no illusions?"

Thank you very much for all your patience with everything. A while back, I had a dream one night that I saw my akashic records: it looks golden and there is raised print on it: like a cross between Sanskrit palm leaves, a binary computer readout, and it is kind of whirring and always recording everything like a seismograph.

My akashic records was pretty much all balanced out but it said I have to be careful and pay attention to something when I wake up; and if I don't then I am going to incur some unpleasant kukarmas.

When I woke up, the first thing I read was that story from you about your student Ganesh. Then I go and look up online that book Ganesh recommend to you. What jumped out at me was it said that [the Istha devata that I worship now] and Krsna are the same.

I "knew" that before but it was more like just something that I read intellectually. After I have that dream, like whew.

Also I appreciate I can count on you up to the minute info that is research based on Krsna which is very difficult to come across.

I was reading about the trend in academia is there is one lady these days who is like the head academic in the West who controls how Hinduism is perceived and she sets the tone, a tone that if you are a Hindu it is offensive.

The article was saying there are many many endowed Christian, Jewish, and Muslim chairs in religious studies field but can count on one hand or less endowed chairs in Hindu studies at university level.

So is difficult to get a interpretation that is bhava based.

On the other hand I don't like being lied to and people tell me ACBSP is the only one who ever taught anything.

And I don't like people telling me Gita Govinda was never translated into English before 2005 except by ahem some camp when I can get my Penguin classics Asian Literature and golly gee looks like in 1800s people thought it was part of world literature.

And I don't like devotees telling me "No one should even read it" when you can go to dramatic performance of it at any Little India metropolis in the world.

And the tradition I am into now, although the old grandfather knows alot about chakra theory and inner space and all that, he does not know even 0.001 percent what I know about Krsna in so much detail, which is next to nothing what others know who specialize.

My entry into Hinduism is through Krsna, so always will have a place in my heart for anything to do with. And I want to understand life and be educated person, and able to express what I know in a wide variety of venues, esp about the important things in life.

Also I feel the need to understand what is happening when I do yoga. Like one thing I cannot give up, is I like to listen to bhajans and that is the only music I like and can tolerate. I cannot tolerate television, radio, normal music.
Thank God at least have 24.7 bhajans on the internet now.

Then I just discover the science behind this: is something called "earworms". It's in a new book called Musicophilia by Dr. Oliver Sacks. You hear a song over and over again in your mind. I experience that alot, esp if it is a bhajan. Now I feel better that I understand what is the phenomenon by the science explanation, in addition to enjoy it for the pleasure of hearing constant tapeloop of bhajans in your mind.

Anyway sorry this is long but just wanted to say thanks.
Anonymous said…
hello anonymous
I have had a similar thing with bhajans. Except the source i had found long ago is gone and never been able to find one i like so much. I want to ask you, what is this 24.7 source of good bhajans you listen to on the internet? What are your other sources of bhajans?
Svacchandanath said…
Namaste, Jagadanandadasaji.

Thank you for posting the Nikunja-rahasya-stava. What a beautiful scenery.

I have two questions to ask:

1. Is the in some way related to you and your work?

2. I read in an entry on the "" that in Sahaja Sadhana there are three levels of Sadhana: pravartaka (beginner), sadhaka (advanced stage) and Siddha (the perfected stage).

The entry says that Nama and Mantra associated with Pravartaka, Bhava with the second stage of Sadhaka, and Prema and Rasa with the third stage of Siddha.

I am not too familiar with the inside understanding of Vaishnavism. I have a dear friend that is a direct disciple of Srila Prabhupad, and he have told me some of his understanding, but I don't know if his understanding is that of Sahajiya Vaishnavism.

The most of my understanding of Krishna derives from the Gitartha Samgraha of Abhinavagupta (also called the Kashmir recension of the Bhagavad Gita). Here Krishna is explained in the light of Kashmiri Advaita Sahaiva (also known as Trika-Shaivism). They also operate with a three-step development of sadhana, termed Anavopaya (individual means/ kriya yoga), shaktopaya (centering techniques/ shakti yoga) and sambhavopaya (supreme means/ sambhava yoga).

I know that trika-shaivism and gaudiya-vaishnavism differs in the view of man being one-with-God and like-God-in-quality-but-not-God, aka. known as Advaitavada and Dvaitavada.

In trika-sadhana it can briefly be said that the sadhaka goes from performing practices that will strenghten his abilities to fokus and conscentrate (Kriya Yogas). Then when he discovers his inner watschfulness, or awareness (vimarsha), he practice to stay in this center while he watches all thoughts and emotions (Shakti Yoga). Then, oneday when he discovers the light (prakasha) of his Self and gets absorbed in it, he has reached the supreme state (sambhava Yoga).

This is an oversimplified, and maybe to some degree an erronious presentation of the trika-philosophy, but it will lead to the end of my question ;-)

Do I understand it correctly when I think that the Pravartaka is to practice Kirtan, Namajapa, Puja, Shastra, etc., ie. doing practical excersises?

What happens then in the Bhava stage of Sahaja Sadhana? Bhava means something like "creative ideation", or something like that? Does the devotee let his mind imagine the Leelas of Radha and Krishna, or does he look at the world around him and look at the world around (and inside) as an expression of Krishna-Radhas divine play?

And then, in the final state, does the state of Prema and Rasa explain the experience of nearness to God or the experience of absorption in Gods being?

Would you please make a comment? (It doesn't have to be as long as my question :-)

Love from Prem Ananda
Jagadananda Das said…
Dear Anonymous,

Quite right of you to look for historical context. I will be posting some things on Rabindranath in the near future that will hopefully help expand your knowledge of these things. The more you read of the last two centuries of Indian religious history as well as the history of its transplantation in the West, the more you will be fascinated.

A nice article has been published recently in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, which illustrates some of the points you have raised. For instance, ACBSP always took the approach that bhakti-yoga was a science, applicable to all religions, etc. This approach was quite common among yoga teachers of the time and seems to reflect a kind of common front in all Hindus, that Hinduism represented some kind of scientific approach to mystical experience.

Even now, one hears this frequently being used. The point of the IJYT article was to say, however, that the approach that has evolved is one in which objective (i.e. scientific) criteria showing the physical and psychological benefits of yoga have taken the upper hand, and the mystical aspects of yoga been moved to the fringes. The former can be assimilated to Western world views, while the latter challenge them and the dominant Western (read bodily) identity.

Though ACBSP presented bhakti-yoga in the same way as other yoga teachers, it was really a kind of "getting the foot in the door" technique. I myself think, and this is part of my Sahajiya approach, that there must be a this-worldly payoff for bhakti practitioners as well. I like what Jesus said about "I have come to give you life, that you may have it more abundantly."

Just as many studies are showing the benefits of yoga culture on the body and mind, there are an increasing number of studies showing the value of faith. If we look at the main realms of the different yoga systems, physical activity (karma, hatha), the rational mind (jnana, raja), and the emotional centers (bhakti, kundalini), then we get an idea of which benefits can or should be expected in a practical manner.

As to your questions of Mircea Eliade. Of course, he is a great figure in the study of religion in the latter half of the 20th century. His work is wide-ranging, but in particular analysis of myth, symbolism and the sacred is important. As with any influential thinker, his ideas are so all-pervading that they are almost impossible to avoid and we use them almost without recognizing them. Eliade worked closely with Jung and so their primary effect was to rehabilitate myth to give it a meaningful place in human experience, which was being denied it by the hyperrational approach.

So I suggest Myth and Symbol as a good place to start in your reading of Eliade.

The important thing to remember in all this is the distinction made by Jiva as to ruchi and vichara pradhana devotees. Ultimately, it is the non-rational element of love that dominates in the culture of bhakti. The more one tries to understand, the more one realizes how impossible and utterly useless the task is. This is why academic research must always remain bracketed. For instance, what Oliver Sacks has said about earworms, like so much that goes on in science, is simply naming a phenomenon. Giving something a name gives us the illusion that we know something. But it simply gives us a frame of reference by which we can look at it more closely. This means that it will invite further subdivision and more naming. Like a fractal, it goes on forever.

That is the nature of God. He goes on forever, but the true joy in the divine search, is the going on forever in experience. This is called samadhi, of which the best kind is called prema-samadhi, or as Bhaktivinoda Thakur called it, Sahaja samadhi.
Anonymous said…
Thank you Jagat for that nice long answer and suggestion for where to start with Eliade.

I also appreciate your feedback that it's okay to understand historical context: benefic even!

For me what helps with knowing the name of the phenomenon is that in the past when I ask (a) "senior devotee(s)" in various past lineages [sigh] about it,

then they will give nice answer like: "You are crazy" or "You can't possibly be having experiences like that" and "You must be making it up, you are not qualified" and other nice forms of encouragement in the bhakti tradition.

Of course, I really appreciate their answers oh so much [ha] especially since the "senior devotees" answering me were all college dropouts, so right: like I am the crazy one, uh-huh mmm-hmmm.

Not to mention even if a person was crazy, is THAT how you share with them if you are a merciful enlightened being? Can't even use an "I message"? Can't even use the proper nomenclature from DSM-IV as to what psych disorder a person may have who hears music on a tapeloop in their head?

And then each and every one of them shortly thereafter falls down and does stuff I don't do and have no interest in doing whatsoever.

And all my "normal" peeps I have to associate with, no choice in the matter at all, they are all like "Well, you are crazy to be interested in religion in the first place".

And it's funny: if I am crazy then the college where I received my summa cum laude education must be crazy then for giving me all As on my papers and tests for six years.

And they must be really crazy because I did not even have to pay any tuition, they said I was so gifted that just educating me will help the world so much they will give me education for free as a community service to humanity.

[Not just me of course, many scholars receive these kinds of perks].

So for me is very helpful to have the scientific name for the phenomenon. Then I don't have to be hearing all of this "helpful" advice from guys who cannot even keep their pants on, or stop watching TV, films, radio, but feel free to share: "Oh you aren't advanced enough to be hearing nama all the time in your head."

Now I know: oh it's called an earworm, oh so that's what it is.
I'm not crazy, this is a phenomenon that happens.

So for me is like I have to create my own synthesis of science and religion just to keep sane.

Anyway thanks your thoughtful sharing, I'm sure I will go back and re-read it a few times again.
Anonymous said…
Some good places to hear devotional music online are:

www dot geetatemple dot net

www dot tirumala dot org

www dot mantraonnet dot com

These sites are so fun, you can do virtual puja PLUS hear lovely bhajans:

[mantra on net mentioned above]

www dot eprarthana dot com

www dot rudraksha-ratna dot com

www chidakashitrimurti dot com

Also many temples and monasteries have virtual pujas online and devotional music, the entire home program is online.

Just do google search of your Istha Devata's name and add: "bhajans", "devotional music"
"24 hour music"

Good luck! I think is the coolest thing! I became so happy to discover this! It's free and no politics involved at all: no pecking order, no one is judging you for the speck in your eye when they cannot remove the log in their own eye, you can wear whatever you want, adjust it to your schedule, keep the kirtan going as long as you like, keep on repeating your favorite songs.

Truly a blessing from the gods. I was just reading "Nama is more merciful than the Istha Deva Himself". So cool. Best wishes on the path.

I'm sure you will find more, just do the google search.
Anonymous said…
Oh! I was just re-reading what I wrote: "I appreciate your research".

By "research" I mean, you know alot of books on Hinduism and the various traditions. And I like to read.

That's what I meant by research: as in scholarly. You read widely. You are always discovering new authors and books.

In the tradition I follow, they have the ten Yamas and Niyamas. One of the Niyamas is Mati or cognition: "Develop a spiritual will and intellect"

So is helpful for development of Mati. Thanks!
Anonymous said…
Namaste, Jagadanandadasaji.
Radhe, Radhe!
Thank you for posting the 'Nikunja-rahasya-stava'. I have always wanted to read this 'Stava' from the list of works by Sri Roopa!

I am back in USA after my eight months-long pilgrimage in India.

Glad to know you are now in 'Rishikesh' instead of 'Radha Kunda'!
Wish you all the best of Prema Prayojana!!

Jagadananda Das said…
I always suspected that this poem was written by Prabodhananda Saraswati, but I had no proof. Recently, however, I found the Prema-vilasa stotram in the following book published in the Radha Vallabh sampradaya. It is found as an appendix to Kishori Sharan Ali’s translation and commentary on Rädhä-rasa-sudhä-nidhi (RRSN). Vrindavan: Rasa Bharati Samsthan, 3rd edition, 2016.

The RV version is now available on the Grantha Mandir.

This is the same as Nikuñja-rahasya-stava (NRS), which is often credited to Rupa Goswami. This edition, preserved in the Radha Vallabh sampradya confirms that it is actually Prabodhananda’s composition, whose style is at any rate clearly recognizable.

The numbering sequence is different from the NRS. The order of the verses is entirely different in the two versions and it seems to me that the NRS version has a more natural flow. To facilitate analysis, I have created two files and given the alternative numbering in each.
Jagadananda said…
As to Mircea Eliade, the following series will no doubt be interesting contextually.

There was also supposed to be a fourth part but I never completed it.

Popular posts from this blog

"RadhaKrishn" TV serial under fire

Getting to asana siddhi

What is sthayi-bhava?