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Govinda Lilamrita : The beat quickens

10 Then Lalita Sundari leaps like a flash lightning, to the center of the circle, which is dark like a cloud, colored by Krishna’s aṅga-kānti! As the bangles on her lotus hand resound, jhana jhana jhana, she smiles and loudly recites: thai thai thotho tigaḍa tigathai tho ! tathai tho tathaitā !

11 Next Vishakha takes her turn and dances in harmony with the kana kana kana of the vina and the mridanga’s drimi drimi drimi dho dho dho! Then, while she shows her dancing expertise, her ornaments make a jhanana jha-jhat sound to her recitation of the bola: dṛgiti dṛgiti dṛk ! thai tho tatho tho

12 One gopa sundari comes forward to dance: the nupuras and kinkinis jingle on her feet and waist; she shakes her wrists making the bangles jangle and excitedly utters: thaiyā tathaiyā tatha-thai tathaiyā!

13 Another sakhi swiftly moves her hands and footsteps to make her bangles jangle and her anklebells tinkle; and with those sounds she recites the bola for the following beat: thai, thai thai thai thai tathai, thai tathai thāḥ!

14 Another gopa ramani comes on to the stage to display her talents; she boldly utters:

thaiyā thaiyā tatha tatha thaiyā
thaiyā thaiyā tigaḍa tathaiyā!

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta adds: Seeing the Vraja sundaris’ fantastic dancing, one might consider, “Oh, after Kandarpa churned the saundaryāmṛta-sāgara (ocean of beautiful divine nectar)—are these the Lakshmis that surfaced? And have they advented on the Rasa maṇḍala to display their supreme skill to the world?” (19.67)

But seeing Krishna’s many murtis dancing between each gopi one might guess: “Oh, here’s Kandarpa’s japa mala! But what is it made of? Could it be the lightning amongst the clouds? Or is it indranila mani with gold? Or perhaps it’s fashioned with champak flowers and blue lotus? Oh, now I see, this sweet mala is molded from kunkum and deer musk!” (19.68)

khyāpana-tāla-gati-krama-nāṭyāt |
ye parirambha-kucagraha-cumbās
te na tataḥ pṛthag āsata rāsāt ||

The Rasa consists of all these things: the gopis perform the drama of showing moons, lotuses and other objects with their flowing hand movements. But Krishna’s embracing them, touching their breasts and kissing them are not separable from this Rasa. (19.69)

15 While enjoying the gopa kishoris’ dancing, Krishna joyfully sings: aa ia tia, ati ai a tiaa, a a a! Hey Radhe! Just see! The moonlit Yamuna’s bank is dancing with us: a a a, ati a a! And Priye! The forest is dancing with its Malayan breezes! a a a ati ihai!” Thus singing, Krishna begins dancing also.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Nikhila kala guru Sri Krishna sings a tenaka while showing his skills in gamaka, pada and svara. In Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta he praises Radharani as following:

hey sundari, tava mukha lāvaṇya ābhāsa
jathāya dṛganta-gaṇa koraye vilāsa
tāhāte asama śobhā kāma kalā gaṇa
labhiyā mohilo mama anurāgī mana

Hey Sundari! Your face is an abode of radiant beauty, and a playground for your roaming eyes, but therein, all of the kāma keli arts display incomparable wonder to enchant my enthralled mind!

16 Rai Vinodini dances and sings: “Oh hey Priya! Your smile is effulgent like the moon, softer than the kunda flowers, more playful than the swan, tastier than khira, and glossier than a pearl necklace—ai, aai, aare are ai aai a!

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: To answer Krishna, Sudhamukhi Rai sings this poem while displaying her manohara nritya. Then combining sura, tāla, māna and laya she concludes with a tenaka.

17 Though they appear like dull objects, the mohana mridangas are actually great pandits—for they resound tā dhik, tā dhik, tā dhik! to spite the heavenly devis’ dancing, which cannot be compared to that of the vidagdha Vraja sundaris.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Tā dhik is a mridanga bola, but it also means “shame on them.” Being the greatest saṅgīta acharyas, Radha Thakurani and the other Vraja sundaris display a unique standard of rāgas and rāgiṇīs, tālas, manas, mūrchanās, śrutis and gamakas. Hence the Rasa raṅga sthali is the most amazing stage for music within the three worlds! So as Urvasi, Menaka, Rambha, Tilottama and other leading saṅgīta acharyas of heaven watch the Rasa spectacle from the clouds, the gopis’ mridangas point at them and resound tā dhik, tā dhik, tā dhik! (“Shame on them! Shame on them! Shame on them!”) to proclaim the Vraja sundaris’ superiority.

18-20 Then the gopis singing and playing the vinas, the flutes, the mridangas and the other instruments ecstatically get up to join with the dancing. As the Vraja sundaris lose themselves in the Rasa’s splendor, their nivi-bandhanas, kanchulis and braided hairs unfasten. Thus Rasika-mohana swiftly dances near to retie them. Using the scale sā ri ga ma pa da ni, the very expert gopa kishoris create newer and newer rāgas and rāgiṇīs.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: There are more than sixteen thousand varieties.

21 With thousands of voices and with thousands of songs, the Vraja Devis sing śuddha (unchanged) and saṅkīrṇa (mixed) songs beloning to the mārga (heavenly) and deśīya (wordly) category.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The mārga singing of heaven is also called svarga saṅgīta and Lord Brahma is its acharya. Music used to entertain worldly kings is called deśīya.



Earlier we shared the Diwali Lila from Shri Radha’ Baba’s book Keli Kunj. The following lila from Siddha Krishnada’s Baba’s Gutika is a little less in-depth and more logistical in nature, but it gives a unique perspective on the Diwali lila. The reason for its being less in-depth is that it was intended as a guideline to meditate upon – the depth is revealed by the blessings of Radha and Krishna through the reader’s own bhajan (spiritual practice and worship). Siddha Baba’s guidelines to the lila are followed by many Gaudiya Vaishnavas with great seriousness.

While Radha Baba’s vision of Diwali Lila was set in Nandgaon and Barsana, Siddha Baba sees Radha-Krishna and the Brajwasis at Govardhan, eager to perform Govardhan Pooja. Each section of the lila is proceeded by the corresponding lila of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the founder of the Gaudiya Sampraday whom followers believe to be the combined incarnation of Radha and Krishna.


The Leadup to Diwali: Radha and Krishna go to Govardhan
(Trayodashi Lila)

Nabadwip Dham: In eternal Nabadwip, Shri Chaitanya Mahparabhu performs his eternal lila as usual. Listening to Shri Swaroop Damodar sing about Braj Lila, he becomes immersed in that lila. 

Braj Dham: From the morning of trayodashi in the dark half of Kartik, Shri Nand Maharaj sends a man around the town to spread the announcement that this day in the afternoon, all the Brajwasis should proceed to Govardhan for the Govardhan Pooja festival. Filling their bullock-carts with pooja ingredients and dairy products, they set out for Govardhan. Upon arrival they pitch tents, where they will reside with their families until the pratipad tithi.

On this day, Shri Krishna performs his daily routine, such as cowherding, until the afternoon. Then he and his friends return to Krishna’s house and enjoy a light meal, followed by a little rest. After that, Krishna’s father Nand Maharaj loads up his bullock carts and proceeds to Govardhan along with his family, cows and calves.

Upon arrival, Nand Maharaj, Vrishabhanu Maharaj (Radha’s father), Abhimanyu and the other men clean the area around Govardhan and pitch tents from Mansi Ganga all the way to Govind Kund. In the South is Shri Vrishabhanu Maharaj’s blue tent, in the North Abhimanyu’s red tent, and Shri Nand Maharaj’s yellow tent is in the centre. After moving into their new temporary homes, the Brajwasis complete their evening duties like milking the cows. At night, Shri Radha-Krishna and the sakhis leave directly from their tents for Vrindavan and perform the Raas Lila. The Lila continues as every day up to Nishant Lila (awakening at dawn in the forest grove), after which the Divine Couple proceed back to their tents at Govardhan and take rest.


Pastimes at Govardhan before Diwali
(Chaturdashi Lila)

Nabadwip Dham: In eternal Nabadwip, all the lilas continue as on trayodashi. Shriman Mahaprabhu and his companions meditate upon the lila of Braj and enter therein.

Braj Dham: Everyone wakes up and performs their morning duties. They bathe in Mansi Ganga, get dressed and eat breakfast. After eating, they take a little rest. Then Shri Radha and Krishna perform their Yogpeeth Lila and other daily lilas as usual. At night, Shri Radha-Krishna and the sakhis proceed to Chandra Sarovar and perform Raas Lila there, after which they go to Vrindavan and enjoy their nightly walk in the forest followed by Raas Lila (again), drinking mead (madhupan lila), private romantic interludes, playing in the waters of Yamuna (jalkeli), enjoying delicious foods, and finally they take rest. In the early morning, everyone returns to camp at Govardhan and lays down to sleep.


Diwali Lila
(Kartik Amavasya Deep Daan Lila)

Nabadwip Dham: Shriman Mahaprabhu performs all his lias as every day until the afternoon.


Mansi Ganga: P.C. Unknown

Braj Dham: On the morning of Amavasya, Shri Nand Maharaj makes the announcement that this evening the offering of lamps will be done at Mansi Ganga, so everyone should go there early to clean and decorate. He then invites the Brahmins and the other Brajwasis for a feast. Shri Radha and the sakhis bathe and get ready in Shri Vrishabhanu Maharaj’s tent, then proceed to Nand Maharaj’s camp.

After taking a light snack, Shri Radha and the sakhis begin the cooking. They make delectable sweets, fried foods, rice, sabjis and so on. After offering the bhog to Narayan Bhagwan, the Brajwasis perform aarti and put Him to sleep. Threafter everyone takes prasad in shifts, following the appropriate order. After the meal, everyone eats tambul (paan, a digestive aid), and goes to rest, each in his own tent.

After eating Shri Radha and the sakhis rest a little, then escape to the lonesome caves of Govardhan where they meet with Shri Krishna enjoy some private time with him. Afterwards the Yogpeeth Lila is performed. Then everyone goes back to Nand Baba’s camp for a nap.

After some time, Yashoda instructs Radha to go to her father’s camp, where she prepares sweets and other foods before leaving for “Surya Pooja” along with her sakhis. The Surya Pooja, however, is an excuse to go to Radha Kund and meet Krishna.

The lila at Radha Kund occurs as it does every day. Afterward, they do go to Surya Kund for Surya pooja, and in the late afternoon they return to the camp, have a light meal, and rest. At twilight, after milking the cows, Nand Maharaj, Vrishabhanu Maharaj and the other Brajwasis, including Radha and Krishna and their friends, all proceed to Mansi Ganga for the festival of lights (deep daan utsav).

By the orders of Nand Maharaj and the other elders, the servants cover the steps of Mansi Ganga’s ghat with ghee lamps and light them. The shining lamps fill Mansi Ganga with light. Even the trees, creepers, and the dust of Braj are aglow. Yashoda, Kirtida (Radha’s mother), Radha and all the sakhis, along with Shri Krishna, Balram and the sakhas enjoy the blissful darshan. After that, they offer their own lamps and return to the camp. The rest of the night’s lilas continue as they do every day.

Nabadwip Dham: In Nabadwip, Shriman Mahaprabhu and his companions enjoy the daily lilas of Shri Krishna through their meditation, such as milking the cows, as well as the special Diwali lila. Externally, they offer ghee lamps of the steps of the Ganga River’s ghat. The rest of the night’s lilas continue as every day.


Chandra Sarovar – P.C. ISKCON desiretree

Braj Dham: As on the previous night, Shri Radha and Krishna first proceed to Chandra Sarovar, where they enjoy a romantic interlude before meeting on a jewel-inlaid throne for Yogpeeth Lila. All the sakhis and manjaris stand each in their appropriate places. After the Yogpeeth Seva, Shri Krishna plays upon his flute. Hearing the sound of the flute, Mansi Ganga, Patal Ganga, Yamuna, Pavan Sarovar and all the other sacred water bodies of Braj overflow their banks and fly in streams to reach Shri Radha and Krishna’s lotus feet, bringing with them lotuses and other flowers with which to worship them. By offering themselves to the Divine Couple, the sacred waters feel their life’s purpose has been fulfilled.

Afterwards, the Divine couple enjoy a walk in the forest and Raas Lila in Vrindavan, as on every night, followed by the daily drinking of mead (madhupan lila), private romantic interludes, bathing in Yamuna, eating delicious foods, and sleeping in the beautiful forest grove. In the early morning, they wake up and return to the camp at Govardhan.

Siddha Krishna Das Baba of Govardhan was one of the four famous siddha babas of 19th century Braj. He spent most of his life by the banks of the Manasi Ganga, at Chakleshwar, where his samadhi is now. After receiving a direct vision of Shri Lalita Sakhi and Sanatan Goswami, by their infinite mercy the deep meanings of the scriptures manifested within his heart.

Siddha Krishna Das Baba helped many to dive deep in the ocean of Shri Radha and Krishna’s lilas, and he wrote many books about them. His most famous book is simply called Gutika (The Pill). The Gutika contains detailed descriptions of Shri Radha and Krishna’s daily lilas in the Gaudiya Vaishnav mood. It also describes the yearly festivals and other rare information about the eternal lila.

Siddha Krishna Das Baba’s full biography can be read here.



Govinda Lilamrita Raas :: Dancing to the beat

Chapter Twenty-Three :: Nisha Lila

(Continued Midnight Pastimes)

10:48 p.m.—3:36 a.m.

Rasa Lila, Madhu-pana, Rati-keli, Jala-vihara, Shriṅgara, Nisha-bhojan,
Shayana and the Sakhis’ Seva.

1 Thereafter, Krishna began singing prabandhas, dancing with the most rasika Vraja devis following the beat of numerous tālas.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Prabandha singing generally means the songs with all of the limbs and the ingredients of nibaddha-saṅgīta, the system that follows the rules of music’s. However, the prabandha mentioned here means the art by which Krishna and the gopis enthusiastically recite bolas, the syllables of the beat, as they dance them out upon the stage. Verse 6 to 16 will show some examples.

Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta states that when Rāsa-rasika-vara Gokula-yuvaraj dances with the gopis, the personified devatā of each musical instrument appears to resound melodiously. Then the personified devas and devis of all the different rāgas, rāgiṇīs, svaras, mūrchanās, śrutis, grāmas, hastakas and tālas also advent to add splendor to the Rasa concert!

2 As Krishna dances with Radhika, Lalita’s group sings and Chitra’s group keeps the beat. At the same time Vrinda and the others act as the audience and watch in fascination!

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: When Natendra-shekhara and Natini-mani Rai dance a duet, Lalita and her group supply added waves of ecstasy by singing and dancing with superb bodily movements and gestures (aṅga bhaṅgis)! Here is a sample:

ki nava purṇimā niśā,
jamunā pulina jhalakata rāsa

śaśi ujorāiyā diśā

rāi kānu ki madhura cānda,
nāce dohe aṅge aṅga helāiyā

bhuja āropiyā kāndha

tile tile kautuka citta,
dohe bāya bamśī miśāya mukha

nāhiko upamā dite

cāru nayane diyā,
adhare adhara paraśiyā

rāsa āveśe ullāsa hiyā

vāma dakṣina yugala kare,
prakāśaye kata bhāti abhinaya

kāmera dhairaja hare

What a lovely full-moon night! The Yamuna’s banks and the Rasa maṇḍala are glistening in the moon-rays!

Aha! What a madhura match: Rai and Kanu clasp each other, intertwining their body limbs and dancing with hands on each others’ shoulders!

And at every moment newer wonder unfolds, they’re dancing cheek-to-cheek, and play the madhura vanshi! There can be no comparison to anything else!

But now, gazing into each other’s eyes, they touch lips to lips in the Rasa’s ecstasy!

Aha! Isn’t Kamadeva fainting as the Yugala Kishor holds hands and displays such amazing drama?

3 Sometimes Krishna dances alone, then Radha and the sakhis sing and play instruments to keep the beat. And when Krishna becomes the audience watching, Rasamani Rai dances an amazing solo with all the different bodily gestures and movements!

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Sri Gandharvika watches Natendra’s dancing and sings:

nācaye rasika śyāma rāya, dekhi kena nayana juṛāya
ki madhura chande mṛdu hāse, juvatī dhairaja dharma nāśe
dolaye kuṇṭala śruti mūle, gaṇḍera chatāya kena bhule
koto na koroye abhinaya, jāhāte madana parājaya
cañcala dīghala aṅkhi kone, ki rasa dhalaye kebā jāne
caraṇa kamala tāla dhare, nūpurera robe prāṇa hare
tā thāi tā thāi thaiyā thaiyā, kohe ki bhaṅgite raiyā raiyā
drimi drimi madala bājāya, narahari prāṇa nācāya

Watching Rasika Shyama Rasa dance satiates my eyes! Aha! His madhura steps and sweet smile destroy all the Braja yuvatis’ presence of mind! His tossing earrings cast dazzling reflections on his cheeks to steal my mind and his wonderful poses defeat Cupid. Who knows what nectar pours from those restless sidelong glances? His caraṇa kamala dance with the tāla—but the sweet jingling of their anklebells steals my heart! They resound—tā thāi tā thāi thaiyā thaiyā, raiyā raiyā. The mridangas accompany the sound with a drimi drimi drimi. Narahari’s heart and life-airs join in the dance!

Then, as Radharani dances, Krishna ecstatically watches as the sakhis sing:

nāce rāi ramaṇī maṇi, caraṇa nūpura bāje, kaṭite kiṅkinī
phaṇi jini veṇi pīṭhe dole, grivāra bhaṅgimā kibā, rasera hillole
ki madhura abhinaya kore, ta-thaiyā ta-thaiyā thaiyā, kohi tāla dhore
vadana cāndera mada nāśi, boriye hāsite, ki amiyāra rase
aṅkhi abhinaya koto chānde, mātāya madana bhūpa, varaja chānde
narahari ki dibo upamā, jagate koriche ālo, aṅgera suṣamā

As ramani-mani Rai dances—her nupuras and kinkinis jingle. Her veni rises from her back like a hooded snake, and her neck rolls in the waves of rasa! What a wonderful drama! And while dancing, Radha recites the tālasta-thaiyā ta-thaiyā thaiyā tā! Her moon face diminishes the moon in the sky —and her smile is nectar. But then her playful glance puts Vraja Chand under Madana’s spell! Narahari says, “What can compare with Radha? Her bodily effulgence lights up the whole world!”

These two padas are from Bhakti-ratnākara. The author is Narahari Chakravarti.

4-5 The gopis singing and playing instruments sit on the Rasa maṇḍala’s edge like a curtain surrounding the dancers. Although the stringed instruments, brass instruments, flutes and drums all play together, their combined music nicely harmonizes with Krishna and the Vraja nitambinis’ dance steps. Then one after the other, each gopi displays her dancing skill with amazing footsteps, brow movements, hand mudrās and eye gestures!

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The leading gopis are noted for playing the following instruments:

  1. Radha, the Alavani vina
  2. Lalita, the Brahma vina
  3. Vishakha, the Kacchapi vina
  4. Chitra, the Rudra vina
  5. Champakalata, the Vipanchi vina
  6. Rangadevi, the Kavilaṅga vina
  7. Sudevi, the Sarangi vina
  8. Tungavidya, the Kinnari vina
  9. Indulekha, the svara-maṇḍala vina.

Other sakhis play the madala, mridanga, pakhoaj, muraja and many other instruments.


Rudra Vina.


6 Natendra-shekhara then dashes from the gopis midst to the center stage! Helplessly following the beat with his intricate steps and flowing hand movements, he excites them by abruptly exclaiming: tattā tatthe, dṛgiti dṛgitthai, dṛk tathai dṛk tathai thā!

7 But Krishna Sundar goes on dancing—and boldly recites the next prabandha:
thodik dāṁ dāṁ kiṭa kiṭa kaṇajheṁ
thokku tho dikku āre
jheṁ drāṁ jheṁ drāṁ kiṭi kiṭi kiṭidhāṁ
jheṅkujheṁ jheṅkujheṁ jhem

thodik dāṁ dāṁ dṛmi dṛmi dṛmi dhāṁ
kāṅkujheṁ kāṅkujheṁ drām !

8 Then like a lightning streak within the Krishna cloud—Radhika’s kankanas, kinkinis and nupuras enchantingly jingle as she rotates her arms to boldly call out: tathathai thai tathai thai tathai thā while dancing out the bolas with her swift foot movements.

9 As Radha’s dancing goes on, she ecstatically recites:
dhāṁ dhāṁ dṛk dṛk caṅ caṅ nināṅ ṇaṅ, nināṁ ṇaṁ niṅāṁ nāṁ
tuttuk tuṅ tuṅ guḍu guḍu guḍu dhāṁ, drāṁ guḍu drāṁ guḍu drām
dhek dhek dho dho kiriṭi kiriṭi, drāṁ drimi drāṁ drimi drām !

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Raseshwari Rai’s dancing is sarvottama, the best of all. These two slokas portray her supreme skill as Shyamasundar’s manorañjana-kāriṇī (mind-stealing enchantress). As Krishna watches with unblinking eyes—Rai Rangini boldly leaps into the center-stage like a lightning flash! The bells of her kinkinis, kankanas, nupuras and armlets tinkle Kandarpa’s message up and down Krishna’s spine! Her earrings and nose pearl bob as her colorful veni tied with flowers, pearls, ribbons and tassels sails behind her! Radha’s uttariya chador is also sailing, and as she twirls, her ghagra (lower garment) rises to display her enticing legs! Thus as the curtain rises, Radha’s fascinating nupuras produce a concert of countless, newer and newer rāgas and rāgiṇīs. But seeing Krishna’s captivation, Rai Vinodini completely devastates him. She pelts Krishna with a provocative glance and boldly recites the abovementioned prabandhas as her Mohini Murti dances out the bolas!



Screenshot-2017-10-17-14.17.23.png← The cows and their rescuers. P.C. Dainik Jagran

Vrindavan, 2017.10.17 (VT): All of Braj is gearing up for Diwali and Govardhan Pooja, the special day for worshipping Shri Krishna as Govardhan Hill – the protector and nourisher of the cows and the Brajwasis. On the eve of this sacred festival, Mant police have successfully apprehended a cattle smuggler and saved sixteen bulls from slaughter.

The bust occurred at a checkpoint on the Yamuna Expressway with help from an anonymous informant. The truck filled with bulls was travelling illegally from Punjab to Bihar. The driver of the truck was apprehended by police while his accomplice escaped.

The rescued bulls have been sent to Ramesh Baba’s Mataji Gaushala in Barsana.

Unfortunately, cows and bulls from Vrindavan are also smuggled illegally to the slaughter. Over the years many of Braj’s gaushalas have been attacked by gun-toting gangs of cow smugglers. But it is the street cows and bulls that are most vulnerable.

Unfortunately, getting bulls off the street is not an easy task. Due to rampant construction, Vrindavan’s once-vast pastureland has been reduced to almost nothing in a matter of a few decades. Dairy farmers now find it too expensive to support bulls and elderly cows who no longer give milk. Not finding any other option, they often leave such animals to their own fate in the streets.

But there is hope, in the shape of a growing movement for non-dairy-based cow agriculture in Vrindavan.

For example, the National Centre of Organic Farming  held a symposium at the Hasananda Goshala in Vrindavan earlier this week, during which farmers from local villages were informed of the economic viability of non-dairy cow product like paper and fertilizers, which can be made from cow dung. Cattle farmers were encouraged to explore a variety of such products, which can generate income without dependence on milk.

Attendees were also informed of the importance of organic farming. The Vice-Chancellor of Mathura’s Deen Dayal Veterinary University Mr. KML Pathak also emphasized the importance of promoting and conserving indigenous cow breeds (desi gaay). Such educational efforts are of great importance to ensuring the safety and prosperity of our bovine companions.


Many bulls wander the streets of Vrindavan, since they have been abandoned as economically lacking value. Many of the gaushalas also refuse to accept bulls.

The post Cow smugglers nabbed in leadup to Govardhan Pooja appeared first on Vrindavan Today.



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Govind Dev Temple, Vrindavan

Vrindavan, 2017.10.17 (VT): The Govind Dev Temple is one of the most important and historic temples of Vrindavan. Built entirely of red sandstone with an absolutely unique design, it is one of the most precious treasures of this country. The temple is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), but unfortunately, the temple is in danger of being destroyed as the ASI’s rules are continuously flouted by local residents without any consequences from the government.


P.C. Govind Dev Ji Temple Daily Darshan

The Govind Dev temple is located on a small, low hill called Gomatila. But besides the temple, there are also a number of privately-owned homes on the hill. From their simple beginnings, these homes have grown into multi-storey buildings over the years, obstructing the view of the temple from the road almost completely. Not only that, but many of the homes have installed basements by hauling out large amounts of earth from Gomatila, thus putting the temple’s very foundation in danger. All this activity is in direct violation of the ASI’s rules regarding protected monuments, however nothing is being done to stop it.

Social activist Mahant Madhumangal Sharan Shukla has expressed deep anguish over the matter and sought protection for the temple through a letter, which has been sent to the Director General of the Indian Archaeology Department in New Delhi and to the head of the Mathura-Vrindavan Development Authority.

In his letter, Shukla emphasized the historical importance of the Govinda Dev temple. Before Govind Dev was transferred to Jaipur to protect him from Aurangzeb’s raids, Govind Dev was known as the King of Vrindavan. His temple was built with special permission of the pre-Aurangzeb Mughal government, and thus was allowed to be made with the same red sandstone as official government buildings.

Shukla says that the temple was constructed in such a way that the first rays of the morning sun would fall at Govind Dev’s lotus feet, offering pranam to him. And when first rays of the moon on Sharad Purnima caressed his lotus face, only then would the night’s festivities begin throughout Vrindavan. The temple’s beauty has been highlighted by many native and foreign scholars describing Braj culture.

In his letter, Shukla goes on to say that he has been interacting with the Central Government and UNESCO for the last ten years trying to obtain World Heritage status for the Govind Dev Temple. But unfortunately, due to corruption, apathy and the ineffectiveness of survey officers, the temple’s ethos is continuously being violated.

Shukla closed his letter by saying that if strict action is not immediately taken, then he will be forced to pursue the matter in the Allahabad High Court to protect the temple’s sacred heritage.

For more on the Govindaji temple see here and here.



Govinda Lilamrita : Raas Interlude Abhisaar

Here are some Rasa lila kirtan padas. The following selection by Govinda Das is famous, for no Rasa kirtan pala or program can begin without this invocation of the lila.

Rāsa Abhisāra

śarada canda, pavana manda, vipina bhoralo kusuma gandha (re)
phulla mallikā, mālatī jūthi, matta madhukara bhoraṇī (re)
herato rāti, aichana bhāti śyāma mohana madana māti (re)
muralī gāna, pañcama tāna, kulavati citta corani (re)
śunoto gopī prema ropi monohi monohi āpana sopi (re)
tāhi coloto jāhi roato muralīka kalā rolani (re)
visari geha nijahu deha eka nayana kājara reho (re)
bahe rañjita kaṅkaṇa eka eka kuṇṭala dolanī (re)
śithila canda nivīka bandha vege dhāoto juvatī vṛnda (re)
khasata vasana rasana coli vigalita veṇī lolanī (re)
tatahi beli sakhinī meli keho kāhuka pathe na geli (re)
aiche milolo gokula cānda govinda dāsa bolani (re)


As the autumn full moon rises, Vrindavan’s forest is filled with the scent of blooming mallika, malati and juthi flowers. Thus the enmaddened honey-bees buzz hither and thither. And seeing the lovely moonlit evening, Shyama Mohan is shaken by Madana’s arrows, so taking up his murali, he plays in the fifth scale to steal the Vraja kulavatis’ minds! Hence, blinded by prema, they hurry to fully surrender to him as the murali’s sweet song becomes their guide. But when leaving their homes, the gopis even forget themselves! Thus a gopa taruni puts mascara on only one eye, and others come running with bangles on one hand, or with an earring dangling from only one ear! And while they scurry towards Govinda, their nivi bandhanas loosen, their garments fall off and their blouses come undone! But as some of the sakhis assemble before Muralidhar Krishna, the others have lost their way, blinded by their anurāga! Govinda Das thus describes their milan with Gokula Chand.


kālindī tīra sudhīra samīraṇa, kunda kumuda aravinda vikāśa
nācata maura bhora matta madhukara,

śuka śārikā pīka pañcama bhāṣa
madhuvane nidhuvane mugdha murāri

mugdha gopa-vadhū adhika laka saiye
raṅge vihāre vṛṣabhānu kumārī
nācata nāṭinī gāoye naṭa-śekhara, gāoata nāṭinī nāce naṭa-rāja
śyāmara gaurī saiye śyāmara, nava jaladhare janu bijuri virāja
heri heri aparūpa rāsa-kalā-rasa, manmathe lāgalo manmatha dhanda
bhulalo gagane sagaṇe rajanīkara, caudiśa phirata dīpa dhara chanda
tārā gaṇa saiye tārāpati heri, lāje lukāolo dinamaṇi kati
govinda dāsa pahu jaga-mana-mohana, vihari bhelo kalāpa sama rati

The gentle breeze blows from the Kalindi’s bank, and the kunda flowers, lilies and lotus flowers bloom. The peacocks are dancing, the intoxicated bees are buzzing, and the shukas, sharis and kokilas sing in the fifth scale. Thus madhura Vrindavan enchants Rasika Murari, as thousands of enchanted Vraja sundaris appear to enjoy Rasa-vihara with Vrishabhanu kumari. The gopis dance and Nata-shekhara sings, but sometimes he dances as they sing. When Shyama and Gauri dance in circles they look like a lightning streak within the dark cloud! So while viewing their wonerful talent, Madana casts his magic spell! Thus the sky, the moon and their family of stars even forget themselves. For when the Vrajacanda dances with his galaxy of star-like maidens, all the other luminaries lose their glitter! Govinda Das says, “Thus the Jaga-mana mohana* Prabhu enjoys Rasa-vihara for a night lasting one kalpa.”


bājata dampha ravaba pakoāja, karatāla tāla tarala eka meli
calata citra-gati sakala kalāvatī, kare kare nayane koru keli
nācata śyāma saṅge vraja nārī, jalada puñje jānu taḍit latāvalī
aṅga bhaṅga koto raṅga vithāri natana hilola lola maṇi kuṇḍala, śrama jala dhala dhala vadana hu cānda
rasa bhore galita lalita kucha kañcuka, nīvī khasata aru kabarika bandha
duhu duhu sarasa paraśa rāsa lālase, alase rahato lulāi
govinda dāsa pahu mūrati manobhava, koto yuvatī rati ārati badhāi

The dampha, ravaba and pakhoaj play as the gopa sundaris clap in time with the rolling beat. The kalavatis gracefully dance with intricate steps, hand in hand, eye to eye! Aho! Shyama-jaladhara is dancing beside and around them, just as a dark, moving cloud formation is garlanded by multicolored lightning flashes! As the dancing sweeps like a rolling wave, everyone’s earrings bob. Then fine beads of sweat glide from the participants’ foreheads like numerous new moons! Aho! The Rasa rasa overflows and the Vraja sundaris’ kanchulis, nivi bandhanas and braids loosen! But as Krishna’s many murtis enjoy their touch with an amorous embrace, they unite together! Govinda Das says. “Krishna’s form as Madana Mohan excites the Vraja yuvatis’ thirst for rati.”


dekho re sakhi, śyāma cānda, indu-vadani rādhikā
vividha yantra, yuvatī-vṛnda, gāoye rāga mallikā
manda pavana, kuñja bhavana, kusuma gandha mādhurī
madana rāja, nava samāja, bhramata bhramara cāturi
tarala tāla, gati dulāla, nāce nāṭinī naṭana śūra
prāṇanātha, dharata hāta, rāi tāhe adhika pūra,
aṅge aṅge, paraśa bhora, keho rahato kāhuka kora
jñāna dāsa, kohoto rāsa, jaiche jalade vijuri jora

Aha re, sakhi, look! Shyama Chand is dancing with indu-vadani Radhika—and the Vraja yuvatis play numerous instruments while singing the mallika rāga! The soft breeze, the nikunja bhavan, the scented flowers and the restlessly roaming bees all bring madhuri to Sri Madana Raja’s kingdom. And with the swift tāla, natini Rai and nataraja Shyama dance with lively flowing steps. Holding her Prana-nath’a hand Radha feels tremendous ecstasy! Yet due to their repeated touching—the ecstasy escalates! Thus Jnana Das describes the Rasa lila as if it were the tender embrace of lightning and a dark cloud.

Rasa Analysis

For those wishing to make an in-depth study of the Rasa, there are countless other Mahajan padāvali selections. Moreover, the Rasa narrations found in Sri Kavi Karnapur’s Ānanda-vṛndāvana-campū, Sri Jiva Goswami’s Gopāla-campū and Sri Prabodhananda Saraswati’s Āścarya-rāsa-prabandha along with the Bhagavata’s Rāsa-pancādhyāya commentaries of Sridhara Swami, Sanatan Goswami, Jiva Goswami, Vishwanath Chakravarti and many others are all well worth investigating.

Yet there is an important consideration for those who want to ideally meditate on the Rasa. Sri Gopala Guru and Dhyanachandra Goswami advise in their Paddhatis:

eteṣu samayeṣv evam yā yā līlā puroditā
tāṁ tām eva yathā kālam saṁsmaret sādhako janaḥ

The sadhaka should perform smaran of each lila during the time that it unfolds. (Gaura-govindārcana-paddhati, 171)

Hence, the Rasa lila’s meditaion should go on between 12.00 and 2.00 a.m., when most people are asleep. And this brings to mind Krishna’s statement in Gita 2.69, “The sleeping time for all being is the time of awakening for the self-controlled bhakta.” So those wanting to meditate on Rasa lila must practise jagaran, or vigil. In the night’s wee hours, when the world’s busy pace stops and everyone is sound asleep, then the ether becomes pure and peaceful. Thus by nature’s arrangement, these are the ideal moments to focus on Sri Krishna’s lila mukuta mani, the Rasa.



Vraja Vilasa 80 : Govinda Sthala Yoga Peeth

Ah, Gandharvika and Girivaradhari are beaming with bright smiles from the pleasures of swinging together. There the sakhis are swinging them, their joy clearly visible. I worship that place which is famed as Govinda Sthala.


aho dolā-krīḍā-rasa-vara-bharotphulla-vadanau
muhuḥ śrī-gāndharvā-giri-vara-dharau tau prati madhu
sakhī-vṛndaṁ yatra prakaṭita-mudāndolayati tat
prasiddhaṁ govinda-sthalam idam udāraṁ bata bhaje

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In this verse Raghunath Das Goswami praises Sri Govinda Sthalī, the highest elevation in Sri Vrindavan. The Yamuna flows north of Govinda Sthalī, so she flows around Vrindavan on three sides; it is as though her eastern and western branches are like arms embracing this central ground. And in the Yamuna’s embrace, it rises to take the shape of a turtle’s back.

At the top of this hillock is Sri Radha and Krishna’s great jeweled Yogapīṭha mandir, which has a kalpavṛkṣa tree standing in each of its four corners. Inside this quadrangle there are kuñjas with platforms in each of the four corners. In the north is Śvetāmbuja Kuñja (“the bower of the white lotus”), where Sri Radha and Krishna play dice, in the east is Nīlāmbuja Kuñja (“the bower of the blue lotus”), where they are dressed and ornamented, in the south is Aruṇāmbuja Kuñja (“the bower of the red lotus”), where they dine and in the west is Hemāmbuja Kuñja (“the bower of the golden lotus”), where they lie down to rest.

In the north-east is a pavilion of mādhavī flowers, in the south-east is one of mālatīs, in the south-west of fresh jasmine, and in the north-west is a pavilion of golden yūthīs.

Outside that are the kuñjas of the eight sakhīs in a circle, and outside of that, in concentric circles the kuñjas of sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four and many thousands of other sakhīs.

Outside that again a golden place (hema-sthalī) with a banana-grove, a flower garden, orchards, six seasonal forests, betel-groves and coconut-groves in gradual rows. Outside of that the afore-mentioned Yamuna streams complete this beautiful and enchanting Govinda-sthala.

Each spring Sri Radha and Mādhava enjoy swinging here. The sakhīs then sing of the sweetness of the Divine Pair, worship the lotus-like faces of the Rasika Mithuna in ārātrika with flowers and lift them on their jeweled swing. They straighten out their necklaces and Krishna’s turban, that may become dishevelled while they mount the swing, and then serve them betel leaves, garlands and sandalwood pulp.

Two prāṇa-sakhīs tuck the edges of their sarees away with their sashes of bells, bend over slightly, catch the swing and begin to rock it, while Radha and Krishna embrace each other. Sri Krishna places his arm, which is so long that it reaches down to his knees, over Srimati’s left shoulder up to her left breast, while Srimati holds on to Śyāma’s waist with her right arm. Both the lovers are blossoming with rasa while they behold the sweetness of each other’s faces, while the sakhīs most blissfully swing the Divine Pair back and forth.


jhulata śyāma, gorī bāma,
ānanda raṅge mātiyā
īṣata hasita rabhasa keli,jhulāyata saba sakhinī meli,
gāota koto bhātiyā

Śyāma swings, Gorī (Radha) on his left, maddened by ecstatic love. They play with slight smiles and all the sakhīs join in the pushing of the swing, singing so wonderfully.


hema maṇi-yuta vara hi ḍora, racita kusuma gandhe bhora,
paḍato bhramara pāṅtiyā
navīna latāya jaḍita ḍāla, vṛndā-vipina śobhita bhālo
cāṅda ujora rātiyā

The rope of the swing is made of gold and jewels and strings of bumblebees land on the flowers that adorn these ropes, overwhelmed by their fragrance. The tree branch (that supports the swing) is entwined by fresh vines that make Vrindavan so beautiful in the moonlit night.


nava ghana tanu dolaye śyāma, rāi saṅge jhulata vāma,
taḍita jaḍita kāṅtiyā
tārā-maṇi candrahāra, jhulita dolita gale doṅhāra
hilana duṅhuka gātiyā

Śyāma, who shines like a fresh monsoon cloud, swings with Rai, who embraces him with her lightning-like luster, on his left. Necklaces that shine like the moon and the stars oscillate around their necks while they lean against each other.

dhidhikaṭa dhiyā tāthaiyā bola, bāje mṛdaṅga mohana rola,
tininā tininā tā tiyā
bheda pavana grāma pūra, ghora śabada jīla sūra,
varaṇa nāhiko yātiyā

The mridangas play dhi dhi kaṭa dhiyā tāthaiyā – tininā tininā tā tiyā in an enchanting way, the loud sounds of the songs and the musical instruments pierce the atmosphere in an indescribably sweet way.

maṇi ābharaṇa kiṅkiṇī baṅka, jhulane bājaye jhunura jhaṅka,
jhana jhana jhāṅtiyā
rādhā mohana caraṇe āśa, kevala bharasā uddhava dāsa,
racita pūrita chātiyā

Their jewelled anklebells chime ‘runu jhunu’ along with the swinging. Uddhava Dāsa, his heart filled with the sole desire for attaining the lotus feet of Radha Mohana (Krishna, the enchanter of Radha), writes this song.

Just for fun Sri Krishna increases the speed of the swing, making Sri Radha afraid that she will fall. The sakhīs forbid Krishna to swing so fast, but Krishna does not listen and increases the speed of the swing even more. This causes Sri Radha’s braid to loosen, her veil to fall off and her clothes and ornaments to become dishevelled.

Seeing the sweetness of Srimati’s form at that time Krishna begins to swing even harder, making the terrified Sri Radha embrace Sri Krishna around the neck with her vine-like arms. Krishna then lets go of the swing’s ropes and holds Srimati to his chest with both hands, while pushing the swing on with his feet. In this way it looks as if the Śrī-mūrti-yugala has become one in a beautiful way as they are bound by the ropes of their mutual embrace. Thus they look as incomparably lovely and beautiful as a blooming champaka flower and a blooming indīvara flower tightly united on one stem and oscillating in the southern breezes.

The sakhīs are immersed in an ocean of transcendental bliss when they behold these sweet pastimes of the Śrī-Yugala. After the swinging pastime the sakhīs take the Divine Pair off the swing and serve Them by straightening out Their dresses and ornaments and by feeding Them a meal of fruits and roots. In this way Raghunath Das Goswami reveals his aspiration to worship Govinda Sthalī, which is so famous and glorious because of the wonderful swinging-pastime that takes place there.


dolā-kṛīḍā rasabhare,ratana hindolā pare,
rādhā sane śrī rādhā-ramaṇa
utphulla vadana śobhā, daraśana manalobhā,
mātiyāche yoto sakhīgaṇa
samaya vasanta kāle, saba sakhīgaṇa mile,
āndolita koriche hindola
sukhamaya sei sthāne, bhaji nitya śuddha mane,
suprasiddha se govinda sthala

With a pure mind I always worship the blissful and famous place called Govinda Sthala, where Radha and Sri Radha Ramaṇa sit on a jeweled swing with beautiful blossoming faces that are so enchanting and intoxicating for the minds of the sakhīs, who meet here in the spring to push this swing.


“The temple now survives in its truncated form since its sanctuary was complete destroyed during the reign of Aurangzeb. It was originally seven storeys high and atop the temple a large lamp was kept burning. The story goes that from Agra Aurangzeb saw the majestic lamp and got infuriated by the greatness of this Hindu temple and sent troops to demolish it. The Mohammedan soldiers were able to dismantle the top four stories of the seven storied structure. According to another version, the upper four stories were neatly dismantled and placed alongside. During the attack, the deities enshrined within were moved to Jaipur, where they remain until the present day.” (Baij Nath Aryan in Economic Times 19-4-1991,
This is the central dome. You can see the patterns in the setting of thestone. I wonder if the original intent was to have some of these surfaces painted. The dome seems to be intact.



After finishing the chapter with its commentary, we follow with a look at some of the other lilas described for this time period in the two other major Gaudiya works on the ashta-kala lila, namely Kṛṣṇāhnika-kaumudī of Karnapur Goswami, and Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta by Vishwanath. Elsewhere these have been supplemented by songs of the Mahajans or Siddha Krishna Das Baba’s Guṭikā and Bhāvanāmṛta-sāra-saṅgraha.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: This chapter has listed some of the dancing and music skills that the Vraja sundaris use to delight Krishna. Sri Vrindavan’s Rasa-sthali is the stage for the exhibition of the highest forms of music, song and dance within either material or spiritual worlds, so it is no wonder that the gopis’ talents far exceed those of anyone within Lord Brahma’s kingdom. For when Raseshwari Vinodini Rai dances, hundreds of newer and newer rāgas and rāgiṇīs are created at every second by the śruti-madhura jingling of her anklebells alone! And speaking of her dancing, as Rai Nitambini’s enchanting form exhibits its dancing prowess, even Madana Mohan faints from the high billowing pleasure waves within his ananda sindhu!

Amongst all of Sri Bhagavan’s unlimited forms, his ananta rūpas, Sri Nava Kishor Natavara Shyamasundar is the best. And of all Shyam’s bhaktas, the gopis are the best. And of his numerous lilas with the gopis, the Rasa lila is the mukuta-mani. Perhaps this is why Sri Vishwanath Chakravartipada states that the Rasa Pancadhyaya or five chapters concerning the Rasa lila are the Bhagavata’s pañca-prāṇa (five life airs).

Of the many other versions describing the Rasa lila, that of Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta stands apart as unique. So before we continue with Govinda-līlāmṛta’s Rasa episode, let’s have a look into Srila Chakravartipada’s remarkable overviews:

As we left, Radha had mistaken Krishna for a tamal tree which led into a thrilling Yugala Milana. And after rati keli, Radharani requested Krishna to meet with her sakhis too. But meanwhile, Radha was re-dressed by the manjaris to appear like a vāsa-sajjikā nāyikā. A ‘ vāsa-sajjikā nāyikā is the heroine in the mood of waiting for the arrival of her lover in the kunja. Thus when the sakhis returned, she pretended that Krishna still hadn’t come and teased them upon seeing their marks of pleasure on their bodies.

At that moment rasamaya Shyamasundar comes into the sakhis’ assembly, and exclaims, “Hey alis! Just hear about Radha’s unusual behavior! Today she boldly approached me saying: ‘Hey Priyatama! Just embrace me and kiss my lips to your full satisfaction! Please rekindle the fire of kāma in my heart!’

“Oh, I was astonished to hear such forward words spoken by Vama-Radhika! But then she threw her patience and shyness into the Yamuna and tightly embraced me! She even pulled me on to the bed of flowers, devastated me in Kandarpa’s battle and then left the kunja! Thus I’ve come to take your shelter.”

Hearing Krishna’s words, Radha is embarrassed and pulls her orana (veil) over her face to cover it. But Lalita refuses to believe it and scoffs, “Hey Krishna! I think you’re lying!”

Krishna: “Hay Lalite! I swear I’m telling the truth! Just ask your priya sakhi yourself!”

Lalita: ‘Radhe! Is this true ?”

Radha: “I can’t remember what I said to the enchanting tamal tree.” (Radha’s answer brings a soft, sweet smile to the sakhis lotus-faces).

But then Krishna goes on: “Hey sakhis! Radha’s solitary request for surata keli* isn’t so astonishing, but during Sharadiya Rasa amongst thousands of Vraja ramanis she once told me: “Hey Krishna! Just satiate me with your adharamrita (nectar-kisses)!”—Oh, l’ll never forget those words of Radha’s!”

Then Radharani answers, “Hey Krishna! I became dazed then—and the cause was your seducing vamshi. So if I had the vamshi I’d make the world go mad, too! Hey Ramani-Mohana! I’ll bet that I could mesmerize Lalita, the other sakhis and even you by playing your vamshi.”

Hearing Radha’s assertion, Krishna replies, “So here, take it. “, which placing the vamshi in Radha’s hand. Then he leaves with the sakhis to begin an amusing, new pastime.

But Radha thinks, “Except for Vraja Raja Kumara, who else can play the vamshi?” Thus she starts rubbing black deer musk over her body to become shyamangi. (Radha ties her hair in a chura and places a peacock feather above it. She even puts on a pitambara dhoti, tying it in attractive folds. Then standing in a lalita tribhaṅga* stance, Radha places the vamshi to her lips and begins playing. And what an amusing thing happens!When Madana Mohan’s mohini becomes Madana Mohan—then even Madana Mohan cannot contain himself! He loses his purushabhimana* and becomes like a sundari ramani! Thus Krishna covers his entire body with kunkum to become Gaurangi. Then he puts on Radha’s ornaments, dress, tilak—and like a Krishna-mad gopa kishori he joins Lalita and the other sakhis who are now scurrying to see Vamshi Vadana Radha!

But just as in Krishna’s Sharadiya Rasa, upon meeting them, Krishna-clad Radha dissuades the gopis: “Oh chaste gopis! Your fame and beauty is coveted throughout the three worlds—but why have you suddenly come here? And why are you wandering in this dark forest? Are you hoping to received the love of some sundar purusha? Oh well, listen, oh slender ones! You should have thought twice before coming here, so why don’t you all return back home now? Isn’t it the duty of a chaste wife to faithfully serve her husband? And haven’t you come here just to gratify your kama? So if that is the case, you can satisfy that urge with your husbands at home.”

Then just as in the Sharadiya Rasa when the gopis become perplexed, shed tears, and mark the ground with their restless toenails upon hearing Krishna’s neglectful words—Krishna, Lalita and the other gopis behave in the same way and answer: “Oh Vibho(unlimited One)! Are such cruel words befitting you? Hey prema sindho! We’re burning in the fire of Madana’s kama! And thus we’ve come here to seek relief by seeing your cooling moon-like face. Our creeper of desire has been nurtured for many days by the soothing nectar-tune of your madhura vamshi. Oh please, don’t be cuel by sending us away.”

So, as in the Sharadiya Rasa, Krishna-clad Radha smiles to remove Radha-clad Krishna’s distress and becomes the ramana! But during rati keli Krishna acts exactly like Radha to astonish Vrinda and the others! And seeing Krishna behaving just like vama Radha, and Radha behaving like a ramani lampata nagara, the sakhis lose themselves within an ocean of wonder! But aho! Krishna-clad Radha comes to embrace and kiss them too! And seeing this, ecstatic tears pour from Vrinda’s eyes as the deems her life a success!

But as in the Sharadiya Rasa—Krishna—clad Radha suddenly disappears with Radha—clad Krishna, and when they experiencing their demise, the panged sakhis begin searching for them. They even question the forest trees and latas…but at last, when arriving at a secluded nikunja mandir, they peek through the foliage and discover Radha and Krishna enjoying rati keli!

At the keli’s aftermath, Krishna-clad Radha takes Radha clad Krishna by the hand and comes out to enjoy vana vihara. And as they wander through the forest, Krishna-clad Radha picks flowers and makes ornaments to decorate Radha clad Krishna After a while, Radha clad Krishna tells Krishna-clad Radha: “Oh Priye! I’m feeling tired now, so please pick me up and carry me wherever you like. “But then Krishna-clad Radha disappears! Thus Radha clad Madhava begin to lament and wet the ground with her (his) tears. And later, Lalita and the others arrive to give solace. They also shed tears as they join Radha clad Madhava to sing Krishna’s guna kirtan.

“Hey Priyatama! Please come back and make us happy. When we hold your charana kamala upon our hard breasts, we gently do so as to spare you pain. But now we are lamenting because surely the forest’s pebbles and sharp grass are piercing you as you wander around!”

As Radha clad Madhava sings these songs with the gopis, suddenly Govinda-clad Radha appears in brilliant pitambara attire, bhuvana mohana shyama aṅga kanti and a sweet smile!

Thus seeing Radha Krishna together one might guess, “Has Krishna transferred his beautiful shyama effulgence to Radha after accepting her golden bodily complexion? And similarly, did Krishna’s pitambara become friends with Radha’s nilambari (through an exchange?

But meanwhile, one gopi takes hold of Hari-clad Radha’s hand, another holds his feet, and another places her horripilating hand on his shoulder. Then as Radha clad Hari raises her eyebrows to scorn them, her intriguing mood completely stupefies them! And Krishna-clad Radha even sheds tears!

But then Vrinda arrives and says, “Hey Radha! How glorious you’ve become, thinking that you’ve the kanta* (Krishna). And hey Krishna! Hasn’t Jaya-Lakshmi herself embraced you after accepting Radha’s durgama bhava(? But what’s the need to go on playing like this? Hey Vrishabhanu Kumari! Just place the murali back in Krishna’s hands!” Radha complies, but when he receives it, Krishna is astonished! “You mean that I’m not Radhika?” he says.

When Radha accepts Krishna’s bhava, and Krishna accepts Radha’s bhava, this is called their paraspara-svabhāvāḍhya-līlā. Then their natures and behavior completely interchange. Some other examples are seen in Radha Krishna’s first madhyahna lila in Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta and Kṛṣṇāhnika-kaumudī’s madhu pana lila. Yet moreover, Sri Chaitanya himself performs many pastimes in the paraspara-svabhāvāḍhya fashion in Radha-bhāva.

More on Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta’s Rasa lila is coming in the next chapter.



91-92 When they dance the Vraja nitambinis show different hand mudrās such as a flag, a triple banner, a swan’s head, a betelnut clipper, a parrot’s head, a deer’s head, a pincers, a katari mukha, a needle pin, a half moon, a lotus bud, a snake hood and other forms.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: As the gopis skilfully dance to the music’s beat, sing and show various bodily poses—their hand postures also tell a story. The art of showing different hand mudrās is called hastaka; there are basically three types: asaṁyuta, saṁyuta and nartita. When only one hand is used to act out a drama, it is called asaṁyuta.When both hands are used it is called saṁyuta. Hand mudrās that flow along with the dancing without showing any particular images are called nartita. The following list shows how some of the asaṁyuta and saṁyuta mudrās are formed:

  1. patākā (the flag): The thumb is bent against the index finger, and all of the other fingers are held straight together.
  2. tripatākā (three banners): The tips of the thumb and the small finger rest together, and the remaining three fingers are held straight together.
  3. haṁsa-mastaka (swan’s head): The tips of the index finger, middle finger and thumb are held together.
  4. kartarī-mukha (betelnut clipper): The tips of the small finger, ring-finger and thumb are held together, but the middle finger and index finger held straight.
  5. śuka-tuṇḍaka (parrot’s beak): When the index finger, ring finger and the thumb all join together.
  6. mṛga-śīrṣaka (deer’s head): The thumb, middle finger and ring finger held together, and the small finger and the index finger are held straight.
  7. sandaṁśa (pincers): The tips of the index finger and the thumb join together in a curve, and the other fingers are held straight and separate.
  8. sūcī-mukha (pinhead): When the tips of all the finger join together .
  9. khaṭakā-mukha (suspicious face): Both hands are raised beside the face, the tips of both thumbs and both index fingers join together, the ring finger and small finger are held straight and separate.
  10. ardha-candra (half moon): When the thumb is directed the other way.
  11. padma-koṣa (lotus bud): When all of the fingers join together at the tips.

There are countless other hastakas (hand mudrās) mentioned in saṅgīta-śāstra; the following list mentions a few of them: The dāḍimba (pomegranate), muṣṭi (fist), pallava (leaf), catura (courtyard), haṁsa pakṣa (swan wings), bhramara (bee), mukula (bud), kukkuṭa (rooster), siṁha-mukha (lion head), kadamba (globular flower), nikuñja (grove), puṣpāñjali (bouquet), ḍola (swing), makara (dolphins) and gaja-danta (elephant tusk), etc. The gopis show all of these.


93 The Vraja sundaris play many types of tālas (beats), such as dhruva, mantha and vilakṣaṇa.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The dancing and the singing nicely blend together with a rhythmic beat or tāla. There are sixteen types of dhruva tāla which twenty-two are measured with fourteen mātras (counts). The mantha tālas have six kinds of mātra, and are twenty-two in number. There are also many vilakṣaṇa tālas, i.e., beats that are played in a reversed order, or that don’t follow a systematic order.

94The Tālas have three phases: anāgata, atīta and sama. The gopis use three types of yatis or pauses between the beats—samā, gopucchikā and srotāvahā.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The rhythmic beat that precedes the singing in a song is called anāgata. When the beats follow behind the singing they are called atīta, but when the beats match the singing they are called sama tāla. Yati means the same as laya, i.e., the pause between beats. Some are short, some are medium and some are long.

95-96 There are three kinds of laya—short, medium and long—and two kinds of dhāraṇā—with sound and without sound. The gopis use two types of māna (pause) in their music, vardhamāna and hīyamāna.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The subtle pauses between the change of one tāla (beat) to the next are called māna. Vardhamāna means increased (louder) and hīyamāna means softer.

97 Some of the tālas that the gopis use are: cañcatpuṭa, cācapuṭa, rūpaka, siṁhanandana, gaja-līlā, ekatāla, niḥsārī, 98 aḍḍaka, pratimaṇṭha, jhampa, tripuṭa, yati, nalakūvara, nudghaṭṭa, kuṭṭaka, kokilā-rava, 99 upāṭṭa, darpaṇa, rāja-kolāhala, śacīpriya, raṅga-vidyādhara, vādakānukula, kaṅkaṇa, 100 śrī-raṅga, kandarpa-ṣhaṭ, pitāputraka, pārvatī-locana, rāja-cūḍāmaṇi, jayapriya, 101 rati-līla, tribhaṅgī, caccarat and vara-vikrama. Krishna and his beloved gopis beat out these rhythms as they danced.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Here Srila Kaviraj Goswami lists only thirty-four different tālas. This is just to give an indication—there are countless tālas that Krishna and the gopis use in the Rasa maṇḍala.

diṣṭe śrī-raghunātha-dāsa-kṛtinā śrī-jīva-saṅgodgate |
kāvye śrī-raghunātha-bhaṭṭa-varaje govinda-līlāmṛte
sargo rāsa-vilāsa-varṇanam anu dvāviṁśāko’yaṁ gataḥ ||o||

102 As a result of my service to Sri Rupa Goswami, the bumblebee who drinks the madhu at Sri Chaitanya’s lotus feet, at the request of Sri Raghunath Das, through the association of Sri Jiva and with the blessings of Sri Raghunath Bhatta, here ends Govinda-līlāmṛta’s twenty-second chapter.



Vrindavan, 2017.10.13 (VT): On Thursday, as a part of the 100th anniversary celebrations of Swami Hit Das’s appearance, a meeting of sadhus and sants from around Vrindavan was held to discuss the issue of “The Rasa Lila tradition in the modern context.”

The current Mahanta of the Hit Ashram, Sri Hit Kamal Dasji Maharaj, has been actively promoting a school for Rasa performance at the ashram and wants to institute year-round daily performances. The discussion comes at the end of a four-day program based on the Ashtayama.

Unfortunately, the meeting was poorly attended compared to the previous days in which Ambarishji Maharaj spoke. And, as Jai Kishore Sharanji said in his comments, there was only one representative from the Rasacharya community. Without the input of the Rasacharyas, little progress could be made on understanding or resolving the issue.

That representative was Ram Gopal Shastri, who was a swaroop as a boy and went on to become a leader of a Ras troupe. However, he told me, that he mostly does Bhagavatam these days because it is difficult to make the traditional kind of Ras Lila troupe economically viable.

He listed some of the problems: “First of all, no one wants to give their children over for training as a Rasa swaroop. Nowadays, there are many other kinds of opportunities available and parents are less inclined to think of this as a viable option. Second of all, even if they want to do so, there is no one who can properly train them any more. Fewer and fewer of the Rasacharyas are actually knowledgeable in the Vani literature that formed the basis of the Rasa performances.

“The next problem is the lack of venues. It is expensive to put on a performance, especially one that goes on for several days, and since fewer people are attracted by Rasa nowadays, there are few yajamanas or sponsors who come forward to do it.

“It used to be that in Shravan there were hundreds of Rasa performances going on around Vrindavan and Braj, but now there are only a few surviving.”


Jai Kishore Sharan, editor of Sarveshwar magazine.

Rup Kishore Das, the mukhiya from the Ghamanda Devacharya peeth on the Parikrama Marg in Pani Gaon, like many of the other speakers, insisted that nothing could destroy the Rasa Lila tradition as it was eternal, but nevertheless he lamented the changes that he had seen and asked for a return to a purer way of doing it.

He himself said that despite the intimate relation of Ghamanda Devacharya to the Rasa Lila tradition in the Nimbarka sampradaya, he himself decided to pursue the Samaj tradition because of his disappointment in the developments within the Rasa Lila world.

Swami Hit Das was a promoter of the Rasa Lila performance tradition, but he himself told Rup Kishore Das that the loss of connection with the canonical Vani texts had diminished them. He also said that as the goal of entertainment took precedence, the spiritual potency and attractiveness of the performances diminished. And, apparently, he predicted that Bhagavatam lectures would supplant Rasa as the most prominent method of spreading Bhakti, but he also wished that the role of singing in Bhagavatam was lessened rather than increased.

He and many of the other speakers told stories of great bhajananandi saints living in Braj-Vrindavan who were regular attendees at Rasa performances and actually directly saw the Divine Couple in the swaroops during performances. There are many such legends of miracles surrounding such events. Karshni Swami Jagadananda from Moti Jheel told a story about his param gurudeva, Karshni Kalapacharya, who also had a miraculous event take place that gave him immeasurable faith in the truth of Radha and Krishna’s incarnation in the swaroops.


Rup Kishore Dasji.

Rup Kishore Dasji, however, said that previously older boys who had passed puberty were not given the roles of Radha and Krishna or of the sakhis. They were also brought up in pure Vaishnava practices, and wore tilak and tulasi neckbeads all the time. He also put a lot of importance on the tradition of having only brahmin boys from the Braj areas being eligible to take up these roles, saying that this is essential for maintaining its purity. He again emphasized the need for keeping to the traditional Vani authors, whose spotless descriptions of the lilas enhance the spiritual power of the performances.

He also said that Rasa Lila troupes are departing from the tradition by also doing Ramayana and Mahabharata performances. Having older boys playing the leading roles was also a part of the problem. He said that the madhurya of the Vrindavan mood was being replaced by the aishwarya of Dwarkadhish, and that this was not desirable.

Other speakers emphasized the difficulty of competing with modern entertainments available through electronic media. Although many lamented the substance of films and television soap operas, saying that they are neither uplifting nor true to the spiritual culture of India or Braj; in fact, they promote values that are demeaning to it.



Devotees staked out their places on the Kund’s bank hours in advance.

Radha Kund, 2017.10.13 (VT): Yesterday was a special day of Kartik which is significant for bathing in Radha Kund, and that day is known as Bahulastami. Devotees come from all over India and around the world to attend the festival and bless their souls with a midnight bath in the sacred lake.

“I flew in from the UK to spend a few weeks at Radha Kund during Kartik,” said one devotee, “and I am so thankful to Radharani for the chance to bathe in Radha Kund on this special day. I never even dreamed in my entire life that I would be so fortunate to spend Kartik in Radha Kund.”


“Twenty-seven of us came all the way from Bengal just to bathe in Radha Kund today.”

Another devotee said, “Twenty-seven of us, friends and family members, came all the way from Bengal just to bathe in Radha Kund today. We traveled by train from Hooghly district and we will stay for five days before going back to our village,”

Devotees from Bengal are especially numerous during Bahulashtami, due to the centuries-old connection between Radha Kund and Bengal.

The magnetic draw of Bahulashtami has its roots in the Kartik Mahatmya of the Padma Puran, which states: govardhana girau ramye rādhākuṇḍaṁ priyaṁ hareḥ, kārtike bahulāṣṭamyāṁ tatra snatvā hareḥ priyaḥ. “Whoever bathes in Krishna’s beloved Radhakund at charming Govardhan on Bahulashtami (Kartik Krishna Ashtami), becomes dear to Krishna.”


Ahoi Mata on the wall of Radha Kund

Although from a scriptural point of view the Bahulashtami bath can be performed any time during the ashtami tithi, it is a local tradition to bathe in Radha Kund at midnight. Because of the huge number of bathers, traffic is tightly controlled by police to prevent cars and two-wheelers from entering the Kund’s perimeter.

Nevertheless, by nine or ten o’clock, the Radha Kund parikrama marg becomes completely impassible even by foot. Devotees come up to eight hours in advance to claim a coveted spot on the Kund’s shore, and spend the time singing kirtan and chanting prayers like Rādhā-kṛpā-kaṭākṣa-stotra. The rooftops of and verandahs of nearby buildings are also packed.

Contrary to popular belief, Bahulashtami is not the day when Radha Kund was created by the Divine Couple. According to Shri Jeev Goswami, the Appearance Day of Radha Kund is on Chaitra Purnima (see Vaiṣṇava-toṣaṇī ṭīkā on Śrīmad-bhāgavatam 10.45.3). However, it is possible that Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu rediscovered Radha Kund on this day, thus justifying the concept of “Radha Kund’s Appearance Day” being on Bahulashtami.


Pethas for Ahoi Ashtami pooja

Bahulashtami also coincides with Ahoi Ashtami, which is a special day for mothers and children. On this day, couples who desire to have children worship Ahoi Mata at Radha Kund. They create makeshift altars by tacking posters of the goddess on the Kund’s wall, or by drawing images of her in cow dung, kumkum or red clay. The Radha Kund pandas lead thousands of couples in Ahoi Mata poojas throughout the day.

Most of these couples then take a vow to give up a certain fruit or vegetable for one year, and then offer that same fruit to Radha Kund. Most people choose to give up petha, as it is not very popular anyway. Thus a huge number of pethas are lobbed into Radha Kund as the bathing ritual takes place.


Radha Kund’s bank around 7pm on Bahulashtami.

When the clock strikes midnight, everyone shouts “Jai Jai Shri Radhe” and the crowd surges into Radha Kund as one.

Many devotees wait till the crowd disperses somewhat, and take their baths at one-thirty or two in the morning. Then comes the cleaning crew.

“Every year I come at three AM to help the local administration clean up,” says Radha Kund resident Amrita Devi. “Village people leave mountains of wet clothes behind, and what to speak of all those pethas floating in Radha Kund! It is not an easy task, but we try to get the whole mess cleaned up by evening of the next day.

“I personally feel that cleaning Radha Kund is just as important as bathing, because by cleaning, I get to serve and touch the dust of the devotees and place that dust upon my head.”



2011.10.10_Hitadasji-150x150.jpgVrindavan, 2017.10.12 (VT): The annual celebrations surround Hit Das Swami‘s birthday celebrations are taking on a special flavor this year as it is the 100th anniversary of his appearance.

This year a special presentation of the Ashtayama lila was made from Oct. 4-8, with explanations by Hit Ambarishji Maharaj. A large crowd of perhaps a thousand people flocked to the ashram each day, many of them coming from Delhi and other places outside Braj, listening with rapt attention.

It is hard to imagine the same kind of discourse or this kind of audience anywhere else but in Vrindavan.

Ambarishji Maharaj speaks straight from Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi and the vāṇī texts that are most dear to the Radha-vallabhis. The day I managed to sit in, I enjoyed his refined style, his recitation of verses, his subdued presentation of songs, and the strength of his commitment to the siddhantas of the Sudhā-nidhi.

He quoted Dhruvadas, one of the most important early vāṇī-kāras of the sect, who said that the one gets the seed of bhajan from the guru and waters it with hearing and chanting about rasa, but one protects the small plant by building a protective fence, which is siddhānta or philosophy.

Though the theme of his talks had been the ashta-kala pastimes, which on that day was shringar, or dressing the Divine Couple, because this was the last day of the program, he mainly concentrated on themes represented in the following verses of Sudhā-nidhi, which for him constitute the distinctive feature of the Radha Vallabhi sect.

It would be impossible for me to give a proper resume of his entire two-hour talk, but I think that if I just quote some of the verses he recited and explained, you can get an idea of the general direction of his talk.

raho dāsyaṁ tasyāḥ kim api vṛṣabhānor vraja-varī-
yasaḥ putryāḥ pūrṇa-praṇaya-rasa-mūrter yadi labhe |
tadā naḥ kiṁ dharmaiḥ kim u sura-gaṇaiḥ kiṁ ca vidhinā
kim īśena śyāma-priya-milana-yatnair api ca kim ||115||

If I obtain even just a little of the intimate service to the complete embodiment of the experience of love, the daughter of the best of the Brijbasis, Vrishabhanu, then of what use to me are dharmas? Of what use are the hosts of divinities, and what use the rules and regulations of shastra? What is the use of God Himself? Or efforts to attain the pleasing association of Shyamasundar Himself?

The point is not to minimize the commitments of other devotees or their practices, but just to state that for a devotee in this prema-rasa, it all seems dry and hollow. Even though for some there is rasa, for the rasika it is still virasa. This is the extent of the absolute commitment to the eternal union of the Divine Couple as the highest truth.

yasyāḥ sphūrjat-pada-nakha-maṇi-jyotir eka-cchaṭāyāḥ
sāndra-premāmṛta-rasa-mahā-sindhu-koṭir vilāsaḥ |
sā ced rādhā racayati kṛpā-dṛṣṭi-pātaṁ kadācin
muktis tucchībhavati bahuśaḥ prākṛtāprākṛta-śrīḥ ||136||

The playful movement of a single ray of the light coming from Sri Radha’s glistening toenail-jewels is equivalent to many millions of great oceans filled with the nectar of the most intense pure love. If that Radha should ever cast a glance of mercy on someone, then liberation becomes completely insignificant to them, what to speak of all spiritual and material opulences. (136)

alaṁ viṣaya-vārtayā naraka-koṭi-bībhatsayā
vṛthā śruti-kathā-śramo bata bibhemi kaivalyataḥ |
pareśa-bhajanonmadā yadi śukādayaḥ kiṁ tataḥ
paraṁ tu mama rādhikā-pada-rase mano majjatu ||

Enough of worldly subjects! I find them more horrific than a million hells! Making such great efforts to understand the Vedas and Upanishads is a waste of time. Moreover, I fear the liberation of “isolation” (kaivalya), If Shukadeva and other great devotees are intoxicated with the worship of the Supreme Lord, what is that to me? For my part, I only pray that my mind be absorbed in the nectar of Radha’s lotus feet. (83)

na jānīte lokaṁ na ca nigama-jātaṁ kula-paraṁ-
parāṁ vā no jānāty ahaha na satāṁ cāpi caritam |
rasaṁ rādhāyām ābhajati kila bhāvaṁ vraja-maṇau
rahasy etad yasya sthitir api na sādhāraṇa-gatiḥ||

One who does not know the ways of the world, nor the scriptures, nor the family traditions, nor even the behavior of the saintly, if [in his heart] he reveres (ābhajati) the rasa [as being] in Radha, and the bhāva in Krishna (Vraja-maṇi), then his unique and secret status is not one that is accessible to common folk. (147)

Some people complain that the path of Hit Harivansh is not Vedic. But in fact, the rasikas of Vrindavan are the only ones who really follow the Upanishad statement raso vai sah. Rasa here means prema-rasa. Our object of worship is not Krishna, not even Radha. Our worshipable object is their mutual love, it is the prema manifest between them.

In speaking of four elements necessary for bhajan, namely Guru, mantra, ishta and association with rasika devotees, in other words, devotees with the same kind of absolute commitment to relishing the beauty of the Divine Couple and service to Radha in sakhi bhava. In relation to this last point, he told a story related to Hit Das Swami himself.

Hit Dasji was living in the Paramahamsa Ashram on Gandhi Road with Akhandananda Saraswatiji and studying Vedanta with him, even after many years of living in Vrindavan, having been initiated in the Radha Vallabhi tradition, doing bhajan and taking the renounced order.

Then one night, Hit Dasji had a dream in which he saw a woman in white with a three-month baby in her arms. She said to him, “Only you can save this child.” Hit Dasji said, “Why are you lamenting over the physical body. Everyone must die. This is all Maya.” The woman answered, “I am not ignorant. I did not come here to listen to lessons on philosophy. Try to understand how I am suffering and save this child. Only you can do it.”

When he woke up, he was mystified by the dream and tried to find out its meaning. He told it to a friend who interpreted it as follows: “The woman is Bhakti Devi herself. The baby is Bhava, because Bhakti is the mother of Bhava. You are an exclusive devotee of Radha Vallabha, but here you are spending your time studying Vedanta, so your love is being weakened by the culture of knowledge. So Bhakti Devi is pleading with you to not let your spirit of love come under threat.”

After this Hit Dasji decided to stop studying Vedanta with Akhandananda Saraswati, even though they remained friends to the end.

The nishtha is in sakhi-bhava.

brahmānanda-rasād ananta-guṇito ramyo raso vaiṣṇavas
tasmāt koṭi-guṇojjvalaś ca madhuraḥ śrī-gokulendro rasaḥ |
tac cānanta-camatkṛti-pratimuhur varṣad-rasānāṁ param
śrī-rādhā-pada-padmam eva paramaṁ sarvasva-bhūtaṁ mama ||

Countless times more relishable than the flavor of Brahmananda is that connected to Vishnu. Millions of times brighter than that is the sweet rasa related to the Lord of Gokula. Raining down infinite astonishment are the topmost of all rasas, the sweet lotus feet of Srimati Radharani. They alone are my life and soul. (Svāyambhuva Āgama)


Murti of Swami Hit Das at the Hit Ashram Satsanga Bhumi.



This section of Govinda-līlāmṛta contains a great deal of information taken from the Sanskrit texts on music, namely it would seem Saṅgīta-darpaṇa. Not much additional information is given, so the main purpose seems to be to show that the Rāsa-līlā is the stage for Krishna and the gopis to display the complete gamut of Indian musical knowledge. The elaborations from Saṅgīta-darpaṇa are found in Vrindavan Chakravarti’s commentary to Govinda-līlāmṛta.

81 Krishna and the gopis sing fifteen types of gamaka (trills) accompanied with wonderful beats that enchant the mind.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The sensational art of making a melody pulsate (svarasya kampaḥ) is called gamaka. “A gamaka is any graceful turn, curve or cornering touch given to a single note or a group of notes, which adds emphasis to each rāga’s individuality” (Wikipedia). According to Saṅgīta-darpaṇa, there are fifteen different gamaka styles which are called: tiripa, sphurita, kampita, nīla, āndolita, bali, tribhinna, kuvala, āhata, unnamita, plavita, hankrita, mudrita, namita and miśrita. Other Indian music texts give other numbers of gamakas.

82 They sing two kinds of nibaddha songs, namely śuddha and sālaga. The śuddha-nibaddha songs are of three types: prabandha, vastu and rūpaka.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: “A song (gāna) or an instrumental piece which is bound (nibaddha) or composed, with a well-defined tāla, mātra, laya, etc. The opposite of nibaddha is anibaddha (not bound, unstructured, improvised).” Nibaddha songs follow a prescribed pattern having two basic parts, dhātu and aṅga. Dhātu comprises songs with rhyme. There are four parts: The first line is udgrāhaka, the second line is called melāpaka, the line that is repeatedly sung, i.e., the refrain, is called dhruva pada (usually the first line), and the last line that includes the padakartā’s (song writer’s) name is called ābhoga. The verses that are not repeated are called antara-pada.

Aṅga are the six limbs of a song such as svara (the notes or melody), viruda (a passage extolling the song and usually including the author’s signature), pada (a passage of meaningful text), tenaka (the meaningless words), pāṭha (a passage of onomatopoetic sounds such as dang-dang-di-dang, etc.), and tāla (section governed by rhythm or beat). Songs that are comprised of these parts are called nibaddha-saṅgīta. The three types of nibaddha songs are:

prabandha—songs that have all of the above mentioned dhātus and aṅgas. vastu—songs that have the first three parts of the aṅga. rūpaka—songs having the first two dhātus and the first two aṅgas.

There are five classifications of prabandha:

  1. Those having all six aṅgas are called medinī,
  2. Those having five are called nandinī.
  3. Those having four are called dīpanī,
  4. Those with three are called pāvanī,
  5. Those with two are called tārāvalī.

Sālaga nibaddha songs are also called rasa-laga and chaya-laga because they are the shadow of śuddha-nibaddha-saṅgīta. When sālaga songs are accompanied by many types of instruments it becomes śuddha-sālaga music. This includes nine types of tāla, which are adi, yati, nasaru, ajna, triputa, rūpaka, jhampaka, matha and ekatali.

83 Thus Vrajasundar and the Vraja sundaris sing prabandhas (complete compositions), having many different types of svaras (melodies), pāṭha (variegated sounds), rāgas, grahas (beginning melodies) and nyāsa (concluding melodies).

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The special notes that are sung at a song’s beginning are called graha-svaras, and the concluding notes are called nyāsa. As Krishna become pleased with the gopis’ singing, he praises them, smiles at them and offers various types of rewards to increase their paramānanda.

84 Krishna and the gopis sing the three types of rāgas: sampūrṇa (having all seven notes), ṣāḍava (having six notes) and auḍava (having five svaras).

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Some of the sampūrṇa rāgas are: shri nata, karnata, megha mallara, dravida, gaudi varati, gujjari, todi, malavashri, saindhavi, sincuda devaki, ramakiri, manjari and belavali.

Some of the ṣāḍava rāgas are gauda, karnata, dhanasi, desi kolahala, ballali, ashavari, khambavati, harshapuri, mallari and humcika.

Some auḍava rāgas are: shrikantha, bhauli, gauri, kiri, madhukari, chaya and nilotpala.

85-87 They sing rāgas such as: mallāra, naṭṭa, sama, kedāra, kāmoda, bhairava, gāndhāra, deśāga, vasanta, karnāṭaka, mālavā, gurjjarī, rāmakirī, gaurī, āsāvarī, goṇḍakirī, toḍī, belāvalī, maṅgalā, varāṭikā, deśa-varāṭikā, māgadhi, kaushikī, pālī, lalitā, paṭa-mañjarī, subhagā and sindhuḍā.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The svaras (melodies) which can enchant the three worlds are called rāgas and rāgiṇīs. In the Rasa lila there are more than sixteen thousand varieties that Krishna and the gopis sing. In these verses only a few are mentioned. Moreover, these rāgas and rāgiṇīs may be known by different names in various provinces. But there are basically six major rāgas and thirty-six major rāgiṇīs. The rāgas are male and the rāgiṇīs are female. The six major rāgas each have six wives that are listed below :

  1. Vasanta rāga: a) Gurjari, b) Vibhasha, c) Todi, d) Panchami, e) Lalita, and f) Paṭa Manjari.
  2. Malaya rāga: a) Dhanasi, b) Manasi, c) Ramakeri, d) Sindhura, e) Ashavari, and f) Bhairavi.
  3. Sri rāga: a) Belapari, b) Gauri, c) Gandhari, d) Subhaga, e) Komari, and f) Vairati.
  4. Mallara rāga: a) Belavali, b) Pravara, c) Kanadi, d) Madhavi, e) Kodi, and f) Kedarika.
  5. Hindola rāga: a) Mayuri, b) Dipika, c) Deshakari, d) Pahadi, e) Varadi, and f) Marahatta.
  6. Karnata rāga: a) Natika, b) Bhupali, c) Ramakiri, d) Gada, e) Kamodi, and e) Kalyani.

When these rāgas and rāgiṇīs mix with the other uncountable rāgas and rāgiṇīs an infinite variety arises. The sweet-voiced Vraja sundaris sing these with smiling faces and roaming eyes while showing many different hand mudras. Then Krishna embraces them, kisses them, and transfers his pan into their mouths to increase their pleasure.

88-90 The gopis play four classifications of instruments which are distributed to them by Vrinda: ghana (ringing), tata (stringed), ānaddha (skinned, i.e., leather covered percussion instruments), and śuṣira (winds). Such instruments include the muraja, damaru, dampha, mandu, mamaka, murali, pavika, vamshi, mandir, karatala, vipanchi, vina, kacchapi, kari-nasika, svara-mandalika and rudra vina.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The tata (stringed) instruments are as follows: vina, sitara, violin, alavani, brahma vina, kinnari, laghu kinnari, kacchapi, vipanchi, ballaki, jyeshtha, chitra, ghashavati, jaya, hastika, kubjika, kurma, sarangi, parivadini, trisari, shatatantri, nakulaushtha, kamsari, audambari, pinaki, nibaddha, pushkala, gada, rudra vina and the svara maṇḍala.

The ānaddha (skinned percussion) instruments include various kinds of drums: the mridanga, tabla, dolaka, madala, muraja, dhakka, pataha, chaṅgava, panava, kundali, bheri, ghatavadya, barjhara, damaru, sthamaki, sandu, hadukka, maddu, dingima, upaṅga and dardura.

The śuṣira (wind) instruments include : The vamshi, pavika, madhuri, tittira, shankha, kohala, bhodai, murali, bukka, shringika, svaranabhi, shriṅgalapika and krama-vamsha.

The ghana instruments (ringing percussion instruments) include the various kinds of bells, gongs and cymbals: kartals, kamsa, jaya ghanta, suktika, kampaka, ghata-vadya, ghantatodya, gharaghara, jhanjatala, manjira, karttu and jangura.

Thus Vrinda brings all of these instruments and gives them to the sakhis. Then Krishna plays his various flutes, Radha plays her alavani vina and Lalita, Vishakha and others take up the kacchapi, vipanchi and rudra vina, etc. And as they play together an indescribably wonderful concert fills the entire universe.



SADHUS_Narottama-Dasa-Srivasa-Acarya-e-Syamananda-Prabhu.jpgNarottam Das’s disappearance day was celebrated at his samadhi at the Gokulananda temple in the old town. Vishakha Devi has nicely described the outlines of Narottam Das’s life, which on reading we will see that after spending several years as a student in Vrindavan, studying under Jiva Goswami himself, he returned to Bengal never to return again.

Narottam’s two main books are Prārthanā and Prema-bhakti-candrikā, which are filled with the mood of separation from Vrindavan and the association of the great devotees who lived there. Altogether, Prārthanā has 55 songs (though some of these are doubtfully his), of which seven can be said to express the longing for a return to Vrindavan. The five songs (22-26) that most exemplify this feeling have the headline: sa-bilāpa śrī-bṛndābana-bāsa-lālasā, “the desire to live in Vrindavan, sung with feelings of lamentation.”

Since in the post-Chaitanya period, Narottam had a great influence on Bengali Vaishnavism, it would not be wrong to say that these songs created in all Bengali Vaishnavas a deep feeling of attachment and attraction to the Holy Dham of Vrindavan.




govinda gopīnātha ! kṛpā kari rākha nija-pade |
kāma krodha chaya jane laye phire nānā sthāne
viṣaya bhuñjāya nānā mate ||1||

ha-iyā māyāra dāsa kari nānā abhilāṣa
tomāra śaraṇa gela dūre |
artha lābha ei āśe kapaṭa vaiṣṇava veśe
bhramiyā beḍāi ghare ghare ||2||

aneka duḥkhera pare layechile vraja-pure
kṛpa-ḍora galāya bāɱdhiyā |
daiva-māyā balātkāre khasāiyā sei ḍore
bhava-kūpe dileka ḍāriyā ||3||

punaḥ yadi kṛpā kari e janāre keśe dhari
ṭāniyā tulaha vraja-dhāme |
tabe se dekhiye bhāla natubā parāṇa gela
kahe dīna dāsa narottame ||4||

(1) O Govinda, Gopinath! Please keep me at your feet. The six enemies headed by lust and anger drag me from place to place, so far away from your shelter. and make me experience sense pleasures in various ways.

(2) Being a slave of Maya and having so many desires, and my memory of you fled far away. Pretending to be a Vaishnava, I wander from door to door in the hope of collecting money.

(3) After so much suffering, you dragged me to Vrindavan, tying the rope of mercy around my neck. Then cruel fortune loosened that rope and threw me back into the well of material life.

(4) If you would only show your mercy once again and grab me by the hair, pull me out of this hole and toss me down in Braja Dham, then things will look better for me. Otherwise I may as well just die. So says the unfortunate Narottam Das.


sādhaka-dehocita śrī-bṛndābana-bāsa lālasā

hari hari !

āra ki emana daśā haba |
e bhaba saṁsāra tyaji parama ānande maji
āra kabe braja-bhūme yāba ||1||

sukha-maẏa bṛndābana kabe habe daraśana
se dhūli mākhiba kabe gāẏa |
preme gada gada haiñā rādhā-kṛṣṇa nāma laiñā
kāndiẏā beḏāba ubharāẏa ||2||

nibhṛta nikuñje yāñā aṣṭāɱga praṇāma haiñā
ḍākiba hā rādhā-nātha bali |
kabe yamunāra tīre paraśa kariba nīre
kabe piba kara-puṭe tuli ||3||

āra kabe emana haba śrī-rāsa-maṇḍale yāba
kabe gaḏāgaḏi diba tāẏa |
baṁśībaṭa chāyā pāñā parama ānanda hañā
paḏiẏā rahiba tāra pāẏa ||4||

kabe gobardhana giri dekhiba naẏana bhari
kabe habe rādhā-kuṇḍe bāsa |
bhramite bhramite kabe e deha patana habe
kahe dīna narottama dāsa ||5||

(1) O Hari Hari ! When will this ever happen? When will I renounce the cycle of material life go to Vrajabhumi, absorbed in the supreme bliss?

((2) When will I see the blissful land of Vrindavan? When will I smear its dust over my body? When will I walk about Vrindavan, loudly singing the names of Radha and Krishna, and crying, my voice choked with ecstatic love.

(3) When, in a solitary grove in Vrindavan, will I offer my full obeisances to the Divine Couple? When will I call out: “O Krishna, O lover of Radharani?” When will I touch the Yamuna water while standing on its shore drink some of its water in my cupped hands?

(4) And when will it happen that I go to the rasa-dance circle and roll about in the dust, overwhelmed with ecstasy? When will I joyfully lie down under the shade of the banyan tree where Krishna played his flute and remain at its feet?

(5) And when will I see Govardhan Hill, my eyes brimming with tears? When will I reside at Radha Kund? When will my body collapse after wandering constantly in the Dham? The lowly Narottam Das speaks in this way.


sādhaka-dehocita śrī-bṛndābana-bāsa lālasā

hari hari !

āra kabe pālaṭibe daśā |
e saba kariẏā bāme yāba bṛndābana dhāme
ei mane kariyāchi āśā ||1||

dhana jana putra dāre e saba kariẏā dūre
ekānta ha-iẏā kabe yāba |
saba duḥkha parihari bṛndābane bāsa kari
madhukarī māgiẏā khāiba ||2||

yamunāra jala yena amṛta-samāna hena
kabe piba udara pūriẏā |
kabe rādhā-kuṇḍa jale snāna kari kutūhale
śyāma-kuṇḍe rahiba paḏiẏā ||3||

bhramiba dbādaśa bane kṛṣṇa-līlā ye ye sthāne
preme gaḏāgaḏi diba tāɱhā |
sudhāiba jane jane braja-bāsī-gaṇa sthāne
kaha āra līlā-sthāna kaɱhā ||4||

bhojanera sthāna kabe naẏana-gocara habe
āra yata āche upabana |
tāra madhye bṛndābana narottama dāsera mana
āśā kare yugala-caraṇa ||5||

(1) Hari Hari! When will my situation change? When will I put all these things aside and go to Vrindavan Dham? For so long I have cherished this hope.

(2) Abandoning possessions, kinsfolk, children and wife, I will go there, completely alone. Abandoning all my suffering, I will reside in Vrindavan, begging door-to-door for food.

(3) When will I fill my belly drinking the water of the Yamuna, which is like the nectar of the gods? And when will I bathe joyfully in the water of Radha Kund, and lie down to rest on the banks of Shyama Kund?

(4) When will I wander through the twelve forests, rolling in the dust wherever Krishna performed his pastimes, asking the local people, every one of them, where the other holy places are?

(5) When will the place where Krishna had his picnic with the cowherds appear before my eyes, and all the other forests of Braj? Of all these forests, Vrindavan is where Narottam Das’s mind yearns to serve the Divine Couple.


sādhaka-dehocita śrī-bṛndābana-bāsa lālasā

karaɱga kaupīna lañā cheɱḏā kānthā gāẏe diẏā
teyāgiẏā sakala biṣaẏa |
kṛṣṇe anurāga habe brajera nikuñje kabe
yāiẏā kariba nijālaẏa ||1||

hari hari ! kabe mora ha-ibe sudina |
phala-mūla bṛndābane khāñā dibā-abasāne
bhramiba ha-iyā udāsīna ||2||

śītala yamunāra jale snāna kari kutūhale
premābeśe ānandita hañā |
bāhura upara bāhu tuli bṛndābane kuli kuli
kṛṣṇa bali beḏāba kāndiẏā ||3||

dekhiba saɱketa sthāna juḏābe tāpita prāṇa
premābeśe gaḏāgaḏi diba |
kāɱhā rādhā prāṇeśbari kāɱhā giri-bara-dhāri
kāɱhā nātha baliẏā ḍākiba ||4||

mādhabī kuñjopari sukhe basi śuka śārī
gāibeka rādhā-kṛṣṇa rasa |
taru mūle basi tāhā śuni juḏāibe hiyā
kabe sukhe goɱāba dibasa ||5||

śrī-gobinda gopīnātha śrīmatī rādhikā sātha
dekhiba ratana-siṁhāsane |
dīna narottama dāsa karaẏe durlabha āśa
emati ha-ibe kata dine ||6||

(1) When will I take up the water-pot and the garment [dress of a renouncer] and abandon all sense-gratification? When will I have passionate attraction for Krishna and go to the groves of Vraja to make my permanent residence there?

(2) Oh Hari Hari! When will that beautiful dawn break? When will I wander in Vrindavan, completely indifferent to the world, and only eating some roots and fruit at the end of the day?

(3) When will I bathe in the cool waters of the Yamuna River, overwhelmed by divine prema? When will I wander to every corner of the Dham with my arms upraised, calling out the names of Krishna and crying?

(4) When will I see the place where Radha and Krishna secretly met (Sanket) and feel relief from all my suffering ? When, overwhelmed with prema, will I roll about in the dust there? When will I call out: “O Radha, O goddess of my life, where are you? O Krishna, O lifter of Govardhan Hill, where are you, my Lord?”

(5) When will I pass my days at the roots of a tree in the grove of madhavi creepers, my heart filled with life on hearing the shuka and sari sing of the of Radha and Krishna’s loves?

(6) When will I see Lord Govinda, the master of the gopis, accompanied by Srimati Radharani, sitting on a jeweled throne? The humble Narottam cherishes this hope, that is so difficult to obtain.


sādhaka-dehocita śrī-bṛndābana-bāsa lālasā

hari hari kabe haba bṛndābana-bāsī |
nirakhiba naẏane yugala-rūpa-rāśī ||1||
tyājiẏā śaẏana-sukha bicitra pālaɱka |
kabe brajera dhūlāẏa dhūsara habe aɱka ||2||
ṣaḏa-rasa bhojane dūrete parihari |
kabe braje māgiẏā khāiba mādhukarī ||3||
parikramā kariẏā beḏāba bane bane |
biśrāma kariba yāi yamunā-puline ||4||
tāpa dūra kariba śītala baṁśī-baṭe |
kabe kuñje baiṭhaba hāma baiṣṇaba-nikaṭe ||5||
narottama dāsa kahe kari parihāra |
kabe bā emana daśā ha-ibe āmāra ||6||

(1) O Lord, when will I become a Brajwasi? When shall I drink the beauty of Shri Radha and Krishna to my heart’s content?

(2) When will I give up sleeping comforatably on a beautiful bed and take shelter in the dust of Vrindavan, covering my whole body in it?

(3) When will I renounce all rich food, and find delight in begging simple alms in Vrindavan?

(4) When will I wander thorough the enchanting forests of that holy land, and take rest on the sweet banks of the Yamuna River?

(5) When will I find shelter from the heat under the holy Vamshi Vat tree? When will I gain entrance to the enchanted bower, in the association of the Vaishnavas?

(6) Narottam prays, “Leaving aside all temporary things, when will these blessings become my reality?”


sa-bilāpa śrī-bṛndābana-bāsa-lālasā

āra ki emana daśā haba | saba chāḏi bṛndābane yāba ||1||
āra kabe śrī-rāsa-maṇḍale | gaḏāgaḏi diba kutūhale ||2||
āra kabe gobardhana giri | dekhiba naẏana-yuga bhari ||3||
śyāma-kuṇḍa rādhā-kuṇḍe snāna | kari kabe juḏāba parāṇa ||4||
āra kabe yamunāra jale | majjane ha-iba niramale ||5||
sādhu-saɱge bṛndābane bāsa | narottama dāsa kare āśa ||6||

(1) When will that situation ever arise, when I leave everything and got to Vrindavan?

(2) And when will I joyfully roll on the ground at the Rasa Mandal?

(3) And when will I fill my eyes with the sight of Govardhan hill?

(4) When will I bath in Radha Kund and Shyam Kund and thus revive my life airs?

(5) And when will I immerse myself in the Yamuna’s waters and become purified of all sin?

(6) All I pray for, says Narottam Das, is to live in Vrindavan in the association of saintly devotees.


This song is usually given as the last in Prārthanā, probably added later. Still, it has become so intertwined with Narottam Das’s mood of anxiety for life in Vrindavan that it is always attributed to him.

hari bolbo āra madana mohana herabo go
ei rūpe vrajera pathe calabo go ||1||

jāba go vrajendra pure haba go gopikāra nūpura
tāṁdera caraṇe madhura madhura bājabo go
vipine vinoda khelā sańgete rākhālera melā
tāṁdera caraṇera dhūlā mākhabo go ||2||

rādhā-kṛṣṇera rūpa-mādhurī heraba du’ nayana bhari
nikuñjera dvāre dvārī ra-ibo go
vrajavāsī tomarā sabe ei abhilāṣa purāo ebe
āra kabe śrī-kṛṣṇera bāṁśī śunabo go ||3||

e dehera antima kāle rākhabo śrī-yamunāra jale
jaya rādhe govinda bale bhāsabo go
kahe narottama dāsa nā pūrilo abhilāṣa
āra kabe vraje vāsa koribo go ||4||

(1) I will walk on the path to Braj, calling out Hari’s name and anxious to see Madana Mohana.

(2) I will go to the land of Nanda Maharaj where I will become an ankle-bells on the gopis’ feet. There on their feet, I will jingle sweetly. All over my body, I will spread the dust from the cowherd boys’ feet in the place where they played with Krishna.

(3) I will fill my eyes with the vision as I behold the sweet form of Radha and Krishna in my two eyes. I will remain at the entrance to their bower of delight. O residents of Vrajabhumi! Please fulfill my desire! When will I hear the sweet sound of Krishna’s flute?

(4) When I arrive at the last moment of my life, I will place my body in the Yamuna and float off singing “Jaya Radha Govinda.” Narottam Das says, “These desires are yet unfulfilled. When will I live in Vraja Dham?”



Govinda Lilamrita :: Maha Rasa

LILA_rasa_lila_of_krishna_with_gopis_wl25-1.jpg68 Thus Rasika Murari enjoyed the merry-go-round dancing with his priya sanginis. But as the desire awakens to enjoys a more special Rasa lila, he gets down from the chakra 69 and goes to the Yamuna bank known as Anaṅgollāsa-raṅga. This sand bar site has been cleaned the Yamuna’s soft wave hands, is perfumed by the lilies and sprinkled by the fine white moon-rays; thus it is ideal for Maha Rasa.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Anaṅgollāsa-raṅga or Madanollāsa-raṅga is Cupid’s sporting ground, in which he derives great pleasure. This sandbar is in Govinda Sthali’s northeastern sector.

70 The smiling moon-faced Vraja lalanās hold hands and form a circle surrounding Radha Shyam—just as the galaxy surrounds the full moon and the Vishakha star.

71 Aho! As Krishna and the gopis begin dancing, the Rasa mandal turns into a golden whirling potter’s wheel of gaurangi gopa kishoris. In this way, the potter Kandarpa molds his jar named the Rasa Lila, being spun on the axle named Krishna.

72 Has the Kandarpa fisherman spread in the ocean of pastime a golden net in the form of the Vraja sundaris’ Rasa circle in order to catch the fish of Krishna’s mind with the attractive bait of their pumpkin-like breasts?

73 Seeing his preyasis holding hands, Krishna expands into as many forms to accompany each one, then placing his arms on their shoulders, he dances with them, displaying fascinating poses.

74 If many streaks of lightning could steadily rest within a myriad of whirling clouds, still they could not match the beauty of Krishna’s many murtis dancing with the Vraja sundaris.

75 Sometimes owing to his swiftness, Krishna appears like a firebrand—then each gopi considers: “Oh! Krishna is remaining by my side to show special favor to me!”

76 The sweet sound of Krishna’s flute, the gopis’ singing, jingling bangles, waistbells, anklebells and foot rhythms all pervade the universe!

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Sri Vrindavan’s Rasa-maṇḍala is the origin of all saṅgīta-rasa, the musical arts, and in the upcoming shlokas we can begin to fathom how vast and intricate are the Vraja sundaris’ talents.

77 The gopis sing both baddha and anibaddha songs. Among the baddha there are seven notes: sa ri ga ma pa dha ni which they each sing individually.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Sometimes a gopi sings a solo, and sometimes they sing in harmony. They sing nibaddha songs (free style). The next eleven slokas give some examples of the nibaddha singing. In his commentary, Sri Vrindavan Chakravarti quotes the text Saṅgīta-darpaṇa to explain the following:

From the fire and air below the stomach the asphuṭa-nāda (imperceptible sounds) originate. When they join with the chest-airs to become perceptible, they are called mandra-nāda, the lower or base tones; when they rise to the throat they are called madhyama-nāda, the middle tones, and if they reach to the head they are called tāra-nāda. Yet when these three types of nādas (sounds) join one’s vocal capacity in singing, they are called svaras (melodies). These svaras are governed by twenty-two devis who are called śrutis. According to the śrutis the different svaras have originated.

There are seven svaras or notes belong to seven classifications: (ṣaḍja), re (ṛṣabha), ga (gāndhāra), ma (madhyama), pa (pañcama), dha (dhaivata), and ni (niṣāda).

  1. When the svara touches the chest, throat, nose, tongue, teeth and the palate it is called ṣaḍja.
  2. The ṛṣabha-svara begins from the base of the navel and extends up through the chest.
  3. The gāndhāra-svara starts from the navel, travels through the throat, and extends up through the ears.
  4. The madhyama-svara centers in the chest; it is grave and deep.
  5. The pañcama-svara mixes with the five life airs.
  6. The dhaivata-svara begins from the stomach, reaches lower and returns to resound from the throat.
  7. The niṣāda-svara is a mixture of the others.

The seven svaras are exemplified by the sounds of the peacock (ṣaḍja), the chataka (ṛṣabha), the goat (gāndhāra), the krauncha or koncha crane (pañcama), the frog (dhaivata), and the elephant (niṣāda). The abbreviated names for these seven svaras are—sā, re, ga, ma, pa, dha and ni.

78 The gopis blissfully sing two types of songs—śuddha (unchanged) and vikṛta (changed). Amongst the śuddha there are seven types and amongst the vikṛta there are eleven.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The seven śuddha svaras were mentioned above, i.e. ṣaḍjī, ṛṣabhī, gāndhārī, madhyamī, pañcamī, dhaivatī and nishādī. So when sung unchanged, they are called śuddha, but if they are mixed with each other they become vikṛta-svaras. The eleven major vikṛta svaras are: ṣaḍja-kaiśikī, ṣaḍja-madhyamī, ṣaḍja-gandharī, ṣaḍja-pañcamī, ṣaḍja-cabati, gāndhārodicara, karmavarī, nandayantī, madhyamodicara, rakta-gāndhārī and madhyama-kaiśikī. Besides these original ones there are countless other vikṛta-svaras.

79There are three types of grāma (scale)—the ṣaḍja, the madhyama and gāndhāra. The gopis sing mostly in the gāndhāra scale, which is impossible for humans.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The ṣaḍja grāma is sung from the heart, the madhyama from the throat and the gāndhāra from the head. The gāndhāra scale can omly be sung by the devatas, but the gopis’ singing even astonishes the heavenly devis.

80 Then the gopis sing the twenty-two śrutis (quarter tones that are derived form the seven svaras), the forty-nine tanas (key notes) and twenty-one types of mūrchanā (fading notes).

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Due to having numerous defects, humans can not purely divide the śrutis which are the imperceptible quarter tones in a song. However, to some extent they can be brought out using a vina.

  1. The ṣaḍja-svara śrutis are Tivra, Kumudavati, Manda and Chandavati. (According to others, Nandi, Vishala, Sumukhi and Vicitra).
  2. The ṛṣabha śrutis are Dayavati, Ranjani and Ratika (or, Chitra, Ghana and Kandalika).
  3. The gāndhāra-svara śrutis are Rautri and Krodha (or, Saragha and Mala).
  4. The madhyama-svara śrutis are Vrajjika, Prasarini, Priti and Marjani (others say, Magadhi, Shira, Matangika and Maitreyi).
  5. The pañcama-svara śrutis are Kshiti, Rakta, Sandipini and Avahina (some say: Bala, Kala, Kalarava and Sangaravi.)
  6. The dhaivata-svara śrutis are Mahanti, Rohini and Rama (yet some say: Yatu, Rama and Amrita.)
  7. The niṣāda-svara śrutis are Ugra and Kshobhini (or Vijaya and Madhukari).

It is noteworthy that the śrutis are not only the quarter tones on the musical scale, but also the angelic devis who personify these notes. Hence when a virtuous singer is able to sing them perfectly, these devis can even appear in person.

When a svara fades into a rāga (such as mallāra, vasanta, etc.) it is called a mūrchanā. In all three grāmas (scales) there are seven each. The names of the twenty-one types of mūrchanā are: Lalita, Madhyama, Chitra, Rohini, Matangaja, Sauvira, Varna-madhya, ṣaḍja-madhya, Panchami, Matsari, Mridu-madhya, śuddhanta, Kalavati, Tivra, Raudri, Brahmi, Khechari, Nadavati, Vishala Ketumbari and Madhullasa.


Shri Radha-Gokulananda Ju

Vrindavan, 2017.10.11 (VT): Yesterday the disappearance day of Shri Narottam Das Thakur was celebrated at the Shri Radha-Gokulananda temple in Vrindavan. An enchanting program of divine kirtan and katha was organized under the auspices of Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami of the Radharaman Temple. (The Shri Radha-Gokulananda temple is also under Maharajji’s care).

In the morning, Shri Sarang Thakur Das  and other devotees from ISKCON sang Narottam Das Thakur’s own compositions in front of his samadhi in the temple garden. Devotees from every branch of the Gaudiya Sampraday danced together to the divine words that poured from Shri Narottam’s heart.  In the evening, devotees gathered again to relish the story of Narottam Das Thakur’s life, told by Shri Achyut Lal Bhatt Goswami, Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami and Shri Prem Das Shastriji.

The Life of Narottam Das Thakur

Shri Narottam Das Thakur was born in a wealthy Kayastha family, in the village of Kheturi, Bengal. He was the incarnation of Shri Radharani’s beloved maidservant named Champak Manjari. Her primery seva is to bring delicious milk for the Divine Couple to drink.

From childhood Narottam showed extreme intelligence and devotion. He had many divine dreams in which the Lord came and spoke to him directly.


Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami and his son Abhinav Goswami presided over the utsav

But even before he was born, Shri Chaitanya Mahaparabhu had prepared a special gift for him. Years before Narottam was born, Mahaprabhu visited the river Padma near Narottam’s hometown. He invoked the river goddess and spoke to her face to face. “O Devi,” said Mahaprabhu, “My companions have cried so many tears of love during our sankirtan. Secretly, I collected all their precious tears like pearls and tied them in the corner of my shawl. Now I am giving them to you for safekeeping. You must protect this treasure of love, and when my servant Narottam comes to bathe in you, give this treasure to him.”

“But who is Narottam? How will I recognize him?”

“The one who makes your waters overflow by his touch is my Narottam.”

When Narottam reached twelve years of age, Mahaprabhu’s brother Nityananda came to him in a dream and told him to bathe in the Padma. The very next morning, he set off to bathe in the river. As soon as his foot touched the water, the river overflowed her banks like the ocean at high tide. The goddess knew that Narottam was the one whom Mahaprabhu had spoken of, and she gave him the treasure she had protected within herself for so long.


The singers from ISKCON were Shastriya Siddhanta Das, Pundarikaksha Das, and Saranga Thakur Das.

Narottam’s complexion had been dull before, but now he began to shine like gold. Filled with sacred love, he became intoxicated with bliss; tears rolled from his eyes and his body trembled as he chanted the name of Shri Krishna. He wanted to run away to Vrindavan at that very moment! But he waited until his elderly father passed away, and his cousin took over responsibility for the family. Once the situation at his home became stable, Narottam left for Vrindavan.

Narottam wept as he ran towards Braj, completely absorbed in thoughts of his beloved Radha and Krishna. He had almost no remembrance of his body, and he often went without food or water. Many divine events occurred on the way. Once when he became very weak, Mahaprabhu himself came in a spiritual form and brought milk for him. When he was too weak to drink the milk, Shri Roop-Sanatan also suddenly appeared and helped him drink.

Narottam takes shelter of Shri Loknath Goswami

After Mahaprabhu left this world, many other pillars of the Gaudiya Sampraday also returned to the eternal abode. Nityananda Prabhu and Advaitacharya left, as did Shri Roop-Sanatan and Shri Raghunath Bhatt Goswami. Shri Raghunath Das Goswami retired to Radhakund, weeping constant tears of separation.

The only leaders of the Sampraday who were still in Vrindavan when Narottam arrived were Loknath Goswami, Bhugarbha Goswami, Gopal Bhatt Goswami and Jeev Goswami.

Narottam wanted Loknath Goswami to be his guru, but Loknath had taken a vow not to initiate anyone. He would not accept seva from anyone either. But Narottam was determined that only Loknath would be his guru, and so he found every opportunity to serve him in secret.

Narottam’s Guru Seva


Shri Loknath Goswami, near Narottam Das Thakur’s Samadhi at Shri Radha-Gokulananda Mandir

Every day at about 3 a.m. Narottam went to the place in the forest where Loknath would ease the call of nature. Narottam cleaned the spot with a broom and placed an earthen pot full of water there for Loknath to use. He then hid behind a tree and waited until Loknath came. And after he left, he removed the feces and again swept the spot with a broom.

He did this every day. Narottam was so happy to do this seva for his chosen guru that he would hug the broom and wash it with his tears.

After a year, Loknath began to wonder who was serving him in this way. He decided to find out.

One day he went early to the forest and watched as Narottam came and began to sweep the spot. It was very dark, and Loknath was not able to see him clearly.

“Who are you?” he asked

“I am Narottam.” replied the man in a humble voice.

“Narottam? You do this work every day?”


Narottam Das Thakur’s Samadhi

Loknath was shocked that Narottam, who was from a rich and powerful family and had been treated like a prince from his childhood, had performed such a menial service for him. Moved by his humility, Loknath finally agreed to give Narottam initiation. By his blessings, Narottam Das became one of the great leaders of the Gaudiya Sampraday.

The Final Years

Narottam studied the scriptures under Shri Jeev Goswami for some years, along with Shri Gopal Bhatt Goswami’s disciple Srinivas Acharya and Shri Hriday Chaitanya’s disciple Shyamananda. When their studies were complete, the three journeyed to Bengal, bringing with them the precious books written by the six Goswamis. After visiting Mahaprabhu’s companions in Bengal and Orissa, Narottam returned to Kheturi and spent the rest of his life preaching bhakti yoga. 

Narottam’s primary method of preaching was through kirtan, and the Garanhati kirtan style was created by him. He wrote Prarthana and Prem Bhakti Chandrika – two famous books of Bengali kirtan that capture the very essence of Gaudiya philosopy. His songs became extremely popular throughout the Bengali-speaking word, reaching as far as Manipur in the Northeast. Today, even devotees in the Western countries are familiar with many of his songs.

A Few of Narottam Das Thakur’s Songs

hari hari kobe hobo vṛndāvana vāsi
nirakhibo nayane yugala rūpa rāśi
tyajiyā śayana sukha vicitra pālańg;
kobe vrajera dhūlāy dhūsora hobe ańg
ṣaḍ rasa bhojana dūre parihari
kobe vraje māgiyā khāibo mādhukarī
parikramā koriyā beṛābo vane vane
viśrāma koribo jāi yamunā puline
tāpa dūra koribo śītala vaḿśī vaṭe
kobe kuñje praveśibo vaiṣṇava nikaṭe
narottama dāsa kohe kori parihāra
kobe vā emona daśa hoibe āmāra

O Lord, when will I become a Brajwasi? When shall I drink the beauty of Shri Radha and Krishna to my heart’s content? When will I abandon my comfortable bed and take shelter in the dust of Vrindavan, adorning my whole body with it? When will I renounce all rich food, and find delight in begging simple alms in Vrindavan? When will I wander thorough the enchanting forests of that holy land, and take rest on the sweet shores of the Yamuna River? When will I find shelter from the heat under the holy Vamshi Vat tree? When will I gain entrance to the enchanted bower, in the association of Vaishnavs? Narottam prays, “Leaving aside all temporary things, when will these blessings become my reality?”

rādhā-kṛṣṇa prāṇa mora jugala-kiśor
jīvane maraṇe gati āro nāhi mor
kālindīra kūle keli-kadambera van
ratana-bedīra upara bosābo du’jan
śyāma-gaurī-ańge dibo candanera gandha
cāmara ḍhulābo kabe heri mukha-candra
gāthiyā mālatīr mālā dibo dohāra gale
adhare tuliyā dibo karpūra-tāmbūle
lalitā viśākhā-ādi jata sakhī-bṛnda
ājñāya koribo sebā caraṇāravinda
śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya-prabhur dāser anudās
sevā abhilāṣa kore narottama-dās

Radha and Krishna are my breath of life. In life or in death, I have nothing but them. One day, I shall go to that sacred kadamb grove on the Yamuna beach, and offer my Loves a jewel-inlaid seat. I will anoint Radha’s golden body and Krishna’s dark form with fragrant sandal paste, and delight in the beauty of their lotus faces as I fan them with a whisk. I will decorate them with handmade jasmine garlands, and gently feed them paan laced with camphor. I will serve their lotus feet in every way, under the merciful instructions of Shri Lalita, Vishakha and the other sakhis. The servant of the servants of Shri Chaitanya, Narottam Das, craves only for Their eternal seva.

gauranga karuna koro, dina hina jane
mo-samo patita prabhu, nahi tri-bhuvane
dante trina dhori’ gaura, daki he tomar
kripa kori’ eso amar, hridoya mandire
jadi doya na koribe, patita dekhiya
patita pavana nama, kisera lagiya
podeci bhava tuphane, nahika nistar
sri carana tarani dane, dase koro par
sri krishna caitanya prabhur daser anudas
prarthana koraye sada, narottam das

O Shri Gauranga, please have mercy such a wretched person as me. O Lord, in all the universe you will not find anyone as lowly as I am. Keeping a piece of grass in my teeth (a symbol of humility) I cry out to you and beg you – please come and live in the temple of my heart! If you can look upon such a fallen soul and still not bestow your mercy, then why should anyone call you ‘the Friend of the fallen’? I am trapped in the hurricaine of maya; there is no escape. Come now with the lifeboat of your lotus feet, and take your servant to the other shore. This is the eternal prayer of Narottam Das, the servant of Your servants.



Praheli-vinoda Khanda :: Riddle games

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Although Sri Rupa Goswami’s sutra mentions prahelis (riddles), Govinda-līlāmṛta hasn’t included them. But since they form a part of the original Bhagavata version of the Rasa-lila (10.32), Vishwanath Chakravarti says it should be considered an integral part of that pastime.

So while everyone rests at Vamshivata, this is a good time to present some of Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta’s prahelis (Chapter 19). Krishna offers the first riddle. Because Gopinath Bosak’s Bengali padyānuvadas have been nicely done, they have been included here rather than the original Sanskrit of Vishwanath:

svabhābato nije acetana yei jana
caitanya labhiyā kare jagata mohana
nava-dvāra deha, kintu deva nara naya
bala dekhi ei rūpa lakṣaṇa kāra haya?

“Who, although naturally unconscious, on attaining consciousness enchant the entire universe? And who, despite having a body with nine gates, is neither god nor human? Let’s see if you can tell me who has these characteristics?”

Radhika answers,

satata yāhāre tumi nijādharāmṛta
dāna kara ye tomāra kuṭṭinī niścita
tomāra se priyā ei lakṣaṇe anvitā
vaṁśikā nāmete yei jagate vidita

“This one, on whom you always bestow your lip nectar, is most certainly your procuress (kuṭṭinī). She is the one who has these characteristics, and is known to the world as your priya vaṁśikā.”

Then Radha composes her own praheli:

gāite tomāra kebā guṇa yaśāvali
mūrcchā lābha kare haye ati kutuhalī
bala dekhi nātha sei ke anurāgiṇī
atiśaya suśobhita yāra guṇa-śreṇī
grāmete basati kare tabu atiśaya
atanu rasete parabīṇa sei haya

“Oh Prananath! Who is that passionate beloved who faints while singing your glories in which she is so immersed, who is graced by many qualities, who resides in our village but is famous for her skill in ananga-rasa?”

Radha’s riddle is amazing for its multi-meanings. The word mūrcchana means to faint, but it also refers to the fading of a melody, and atanu is a name of Cupid, who has no body, but here it refers to a song’s imperceptible feature. So the poem’s outward appearance of eroticism draws Krishna’s attention; yet the real answer isn’t erotic as it first appears. However, Krishna gets it and replies,

īrṣānvita haye prakaṭiyā kalābali
jinite garaba dhare ye more muralī
mādhurye āmāre sukhī kare sei dhanī
binā nāma taba sama pīna tumbī stanī

“O Radhe! That jealous, talented and fortunate one who can remove even my vamshi’s pride, whose sweetness brings me joy, and who, like you, has plump, gourd-like breasts, certainly must be your vina!”

The sakhis smile and applaud Krishna’s wit, but then Lalita Sundari recites her praheli:

bālatve bikhyāta ati bṛddha kāra haya ?
baddha mokṣa daśā satata labhaya
śuddha ha-iyāo nirantara tamo dhāma
kaha kṛṣṇa se kuṭila-gaṇera ki nāma?

“Who is known for being youthful and yet is very old? Who is bound, yet always attains the liberated state? And who, even when clean, is as black as night? Oh Krishna, tell us who are these crooked ones.”

Krishna answers with a grin :

prati karme yāhādera bandhana bidhāna
ratira udgame āmi kari mokṣa dāna
sei vibhakta keśa nāme khyāti yuta-gana
āmāra priyāra suśobhita sarva kṣaṇa

“Although they are supposed to be kept bound in every activity, I give them liberation at the beginning of rati-keli. Thus Radha’s elegant hairs are very dear to me—even though they are divided by a part.”

A woman’s hair is to be bound at all times, except in privacy.

Krishna prowess thrills the sakhis, but then Vishakha presents her riddle:

ye yoginī tattva bistaraṇe supaṇḍita
biśba bhāba nicaye yāhāra abhijñāta
bibhūti dhāraṇa kari sadā ghure phire
ohe priya bola dekhi jāno ki tāhāre ?

“The great yogini who is expert in revealing the mind’s secrets, and who knows everyone’s intentions? She wanders about, covered in ash. O Priya Krishna, tell us, do you know who it is?”

Krishna replies;

anaṅga sukhera siddhi karibāre
ujjvala ātmā jñāna lābha haya yāra dvāre
yāhāra nirdeśa sarba tyaji yāi bane
stabi āmi se yoginī priyāra locane

“In order to attain the mystic power of Love-joy,
through whom I gain knowledge of the self in ujjvala-rasa,
on whose order I renounce everything to go the forest.
I bow down to those yoginis, my Beloved’s eyes.”

A yogini is a match-maker, bringing two people together, as well as a practitioner of the mystic arts and spiritual knowledge.

Chitra Devi offers her vicitra praheli next:

sadāpabargera yāhā susādhana haya
dānta śrī-vigraha śuci-priya atiśaya
anurāge rañjita ye tāra guṇapanā
barṇanā kariyā dhanya karaha rasanā

“Who is always the best means to liberation,
whose entire body is sense-controlled, who loves that which is holy,
and whose virtues are tinged red with passion:
Tell us who this is and make your tongue blessed.”

Krishna answers,

śudhu ki barṇiyā sādha mite he tāhāya?
milāo se rādhādhara mora rasanāya

“To simply describe them won’t be fine—
let Radha’s sweet lips meet with mine!”

Hearing Krishna’s words Radha feigns resentment and starts to leave. But with a smile, Krishna exclaims, “Hey Priya! Fearing defeat, don’t retreat—just hold on, I’m going to outwit you this time, listen:

yāhāra prathama ākhare uttama bujhāya
dvi barṇe bekata karaye devatāya
tina barṇe haya tora ati priya kāja
cāri barṇe svargera viśeṣa tarurāja
pañca barṇe karṇānanda dāyaka ghaṭana
bala dekhi se ki yāhe sukhī sakhī jana

“This object’s first syllable means the best
the second is known as the devatas,
the third is your dearest activity,
the fourth is a type of heavenly tree,
and the fifth syllable gives pleasure to the ears.
So just tell me the answer which will delight your sakhis.”

Srimati understands that Krishna is boldly speaking of her su-ra-ta-ru-ta (the sounds she makes during rati keli). Thus frowning her evebrows, she retorts: “You’ll find the answer with Padma’s sakhi (Chandravali). But why don’t you answer my praheli first?

grihīra prārthita āra yubāra vāñchita
dvi drabyera ādy-akṣare nāma ārambhita
tāra pare vinā-ādi-bādyera ādy-akṣara
rodana jnāpaka ucca dhvani tāra para
se ki bastu lukāiyā duṣṭa sakhī gaṇa
vañchaye karite sadā yāhā āsvādana

What do the grihasthas pray for? (Answer: suta or a son)
What do the young men desire? (Answer: rata)
What is the first letter of a synonym of vina? (Answer: tata)
Which word denotes a loud cry? (Answer: ruta)
What is that thing that the wicked sakhis are always hiding
and want to relish it always?

Hence, the answer to Radha’s praheli is the same as Krishna’s a ramani’s heart—piercing cry during rati-keli. Krishna guesses the answer, thinking he is very smart: surata-ruta! But then the sakhis cheer and exclaim: “Aha! Radha has won!”

Thus with beaming smiles they tell Krishna “Oh Ajita! You’ve lost because the answer to your own praheli slipped from your own mouth! Thus our Rajanandini Radha is the worshipable Jaya Sri, the Goddess of Victory!”



I praise all the wonderful lakes and ponds around Govardhan hill, such as Baladeva Kund, Kadamba Khand, Kusum Sarovar, Rudra Kund, Apsara Kund, Gauri Tirtha, Chandra Sarovara, Rina-papa-mochana Kund, Malyahara Kund, Vibudhari Kund and Indradhvaja Vedi, as well as Chakra Tirtha, Daiva Giri and the different jeweled pavilions.


yāni śreṣṭha-sarāṁsi bhānti parito govardhanādrer amū
nīḍe cakraka-tīrtha daivata-giri śrī-ratna-pīṭhāny api

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In this verse Das Goswami praises all the different lakes and other holy places around Sri Giriraj. Sri Govardhana is the place of Govinda’s most wonderful pastimes. Here the līlāmaya playful Krishna relishes the flavors of different pastimes with his friends and with Sri Radha and the Vrajasundarīs, and each one of his playgrounds is to be found in the form of a tirtha, a holy watering place.

On the edge of Govardhana hill on the south-western corner of the village Parāsoli is the greatly luminous Baladeva Kund (= Sankarshan Kund). All the desires of a human being who bathes here are fulfilled.

In the Purāṇas the following description can be found of Brahma Kund –

atra yātaṁ brahma-kuṇḍaṁ brahmaṇā toṣito hariḥ
indrādi-loka-pālānāṁ jātāni ca sarāṁsi ca

Brahma Kuṇḍa was created where Sri Hari played and was being satisfied by Lord Brahmā. Next to that are also lakes of Indra and other universal protectors. (Mathurā-khaṇḍa)

And then,

hradaṁ tatra mahābhāga druma gulma latāyutam
catvāri tatra tīrthāni puṇyāni ca śubhāni ca
indraṁ pūrveṇa pārśvena yama-tīrthaṁ tu dakṣiṇe
vāruṇaṁ paścime tīrthaṁ kuveraṁ cottareṇa tu
tatra madhye sthitaś cāhaṁ krīḍayiṣye yadṛcchayā

O greatly fortunate one! At Govardhan there is a pool named Brahma Kund, beautified by trees, vines and bushes. Around this pool four highly auspicious and beneficent holy places are situated. East of it is situated Indra Tirtha, to the south is Yama Tirtha, west Varuna Tirtha and north Kuvera  Tirtha. According to my liking I will reside and play in this pond. (Ādi-varāha Purāṇa)

The following brief descriptions are taken from Bhakti-ratnākara. At Kadamba Khandi Sri Krishna is eagerly looking out for Sri Radha to come.

ei ye kadamba khaṇḍi – kṛṣṇa eikhāne;
cāhi rahe rādhikā gamana patha pāne


P.C. Vishakha Dasi

At Kusuma Sarovara Sri Radha and Krishna have fun picking flowers.

dekhoho kusuma sarovara ei vane;
doṅhāra adbhuta raṅga kusuma cayane.

Before Sri Sri Radha and Krishna meet at Sri Radha Kund at noontime Sri Krishna consults Vrinda Devi and Dhanishtha here about how to bring Sri Radharani to Radha Kund, and here Tulasī, being sent by Sri Radharani, consoles Sri Krishna by bringing him news about her.


Rudra Kund near Jatipura as recently fixed up by the Braj Foundation.

In the lonely woods around Rudra Kund, Mahādeva is immersed in meditation on Sri Krishna.

dekho rudra-kuṇḍa śobhā nirjana kānane; ethā mahādeva magna hoilā kṛṣṇa-dhyāne .


Apsara Kund. PC. Braj Discovery

Apsara Kund is situated at the tail end of Giriraj, near the village of Puchari. The most fortunate people are blessed by bathing in this kuṇḍa.

dekhoho apsarākuṇḍa govardhana ante;
ethā snāna koroye parama bhāgyavanta

At Gauri Tirtha a wonderful pastime of Sri Sri Radha Madhava takes place. Here Sri Krishna deceived Jatila and Abhimanyu by dressing like Gauri (Durga Devi) so that he could enjoy with Sri Radha.

Near Gauri Tirtha is a large and enchanting kadamba tree which is the playground for the Divine Pair. Here is a place called Neep Kund.

paṇḍita ullāse kohe – dekho śrīnivāsa;
ei gaurī-tīrthe hoy adbhuta vilāsa.
gaurī tīrthe nīpa-vṛkṣa-rāja manohara;
nīpa kuṇḍa dekho ei parama sundara

Jubilantly Raghava Pandit said: “Look, O Shrinivas! At this Gauri Tirtha wonderful pastimes take place. There is a graceful and regal nīpa (kadamba) tree at Gauri Tirtha. Behold this most beautiful Neep Kund!”

Chandra-Sarovar-150x150.jpgChandra Sarovar is situated close to the village of Parasoli. Here Sri Krishna Chandra takes rest after dancing the vernal Rāsa dance.

ei dekho candrasarovara anupama;
ethā rāsāveśe kṛṣṇacandrera viśrāma

Here also Sri Krishna with his own hand dressed Sri Radha. In the south western corner of the sarovar is the Shringar Mandir and in the south-eastern corner is Sri Rāsa Maṇḍala.

The Mokshana Kund mentioned in the śloka is named in Bhakti-ratnākara as Rina Papa Mochan Kund. One who bathes in this pond will be freed from all sins that are committed due to owing debts.

ei ṛṇa mocana kuṇḍa pāpa mocana ākhyāna;
ṛṇa-pāpa ghuce kuṇḍa-dvaye koile snāna

Malyahara Kund is situated at Sri Radha Kund. One day on the occasion of Dīpānvitā (Diwali) Sri Radha and her girlfriends, headed by Lalitā and others, were stringing garlands of pearls here when Sri Krishna appeared on the scene and asked them to give him some to decorate his favorite cows. But the gopīs didn’t give Krishna any pearls, so Krishna he borrowed some pearls from his mother and planted them himself, watered them with milk products and soon had a beautiful pearl vine garden. Seeing this, Sri Radha and the gopīs also planted pearls, but these just grew into thorny bushes. Then, when they came to Sri Krishna to try to buy some pearls from him, a wonderfully sweet pastime of the Divine Couple manifested itself. Raghunath Das Goswamipada has elaborately described this confidential pastime in his book Muktā-carita.

ei mālyahāri kuṇḍa ahe śrīnivāsa!
muktā mālā chale ethā adbhuta vilāsa.
śrī muktā carita granthe e sab vicāri,
varṇilā śrī raghunātha dāsa kṛpā kori

PC: Iskcon Desire Tree

Vibudhari Kund has been identified in Bhakti-ratnākara as Arishta Kund, which is the same as Shyama Kund.

At Indradhvaja Vedī Sri Nanda Maharaj used to perform Indra pūjā. When Sri Krishna was seven years old he came here, and seeing his father engaged in Indra-pūjā here, convinced him to commence Govardhana Pūjā instead.

indradhvaja-vedī ei – ethā nanda rāya;
koritena indra-pūjā sarva-loke gāya

Chakra Tirtha (Chakleshwar) is a very famous place. Here Sri Radha and Krishna’s see-saw pastimes take place. Chakra Tirtha ordered Sanatan Goswami to reside here. While living here Sanatan Goswami daily circumambulated Govardhana hill as a rule. When he became old, Sri Krishna, seeing that this became too much of an effort for him, mercifully appeared to him dressed as a cowherd boy and told him that if he just walked around a stone that had his footprint on it it would be the same as if he had completed his circuit around Govardhan. After saying this the Lord disappeared. This has been described in Bhakti-ratnākara:

Behold this Cakra Tirtha, O Shrinivas! By its grace all desires are fulfilled! Cakra Tirtha is most famous in Govardhan. Here Sri Radha and Krishna’s see-saw pastimes take place. Ohe Shrinivas! Cakra Tirtha ordered Sanatana Goswami to reside here, so he lived here in great bliss. Look! There in the woods is his hut! From here Sanatan Goswami daily performed Govardhan parikrama. Who has the power to walk these 24 miles every day? Seeing how much effort it took Sanatan Goswami to accomplish this in his old age, Gopinath appeared before him dressed as a cowherd boy. Carefully he removed the drops of perspiration from Sanatan’s body and said with a sweet voice and tear-filled eyes: “Don’t make so much effort anymore in your old age. You must heed my words, O Swamiji!”

Sanātana replied: “Speak and I will heed your words!” Hearing this, the cowherd boy mounted Govardhana hill and brought down a Govardhana shila with his footprints on it. Then he told Sanatan Goswami in a very sweet voice: “Ohe Svamiji! Take these footprints of Krishna and walk around them from now on! This will complete your entire circuit of Govardhana hill!” Saying this, Krishna brought the shila into Sanatan’s kutir and disappeared. Not seeing the boy anymore, Sanatan became very upset.

Observing Sanatan in secret and seeing that he was so upset, Krishna revealed his real identity to him with great loving ecstasy. Sanatan was drenched with his own tears and only with great difficulty could he manage to remain calm.

This Govardhana shila with Sri Krishna’s footprints on it remains in the Radha Damodar temple in Vrindavan, proclaiming the glories of Chakra Tirtha.


Daivata Giri is said by Bhakti-ratnākara to mean Govardhana hill itself and Ratnapīṭha is the jeweled throne that Sri Radharani sat on before and while she was being kidnapped by Śaṅkhacūḍa along with the throne, after which Sri Krishna killed Śaṅkhacūḍa.

ei ratna siṁhāsana ithe bahu kathā,
ratna siṁhāsane śrī rādhikā chilo ethā.
śaṅkhacūḍa vadhera kāraṇa ethā hoite,
yaiche kṛṣṇa vadhe tā’ vidita bhāgavate

There are many narrations about this Ratna Siṁhāsana. Sri Radhika sat on it, and it was also the cause of the killing of Shankhachura. From Śrīmad Bhāgavata you can learn how Krishna killed Shankhachura.

Srila Raghunath Das Goswami says: “I praise all these holy places around Govardhana hill!”

govardhana cāri dhāre,sei saba sarovare,
sīri-kuṇḍa kadamba-khaṇḍa ādi
apsarā rudra gaurī,mālyahāra vibudhāri,
jyotsnā-mokṣaṇa indra-dhvaja vedī.
yei cakra-tīrtha,śrī daivata parbata,
ratna-pīṭhādi yoto śobhe
nitya mui stava kori,sei līlā manohārī
darśana koribo ei lobhe

Eager to see the enchanting pastimes that take place there, I eternally praise all the beautiful lakes and other holy places that exist all around Govardhana hill, such as Siri Kund, Kadamba Khand, Apsara Kund, Rudra Kund, Gauri Tirtha, Malyahara Kund, Vibudhari Kund, Mokshan Kund, Indra-dhvaja Vedī, Chakra Tirtha, Sri Daivata Giri and Ratna Pith.”


mādhavāliṅgita-mādhavī bhrājate
mādhavaś cānayā phullayā rājate |
viśvam apy etayoḥ saṅgam ānandataś
cakṣuṣī nandayan modate sarvataḥ ||36-37||

36 Krishna sings: “Aho! The madhavi lata when embraced by the spring glows effulgent, and the spring is also glorious when accompanied by the blossoming madhavi. And the whole world is in bliss and joy comes to everyone.as eyes on seeing the two of them together.”

37 The gopis answer: “Madhavi Radha looks beautiful as she is embraced by Madhava Krishna, and Madhava loooks beautiful when embraced by the Madhava. And the whole world is in bliss and joy comes to everyone.as eyes on seeing the two of them together.”

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Just as the madhavi lata and the spring are an ideal match, so are Madhavi and Madhava. Hence, seeing their tender premalingan or loving embrace, whose eyes wouldn’t become joyful?

samphullā samphullo
milanān mitha iha vane sadālīnām |
kāñcana-vallī cāsau
sukhadā tāpiScha-mauliś ca ||38-39||

38 Krishna sings: “When the forest’s blossoming tamal and blossoming golden vine embrace each other, they always bring joy to the honey bees.”

39 The sakhis reply: “When the one with a peacock feather on his crown Krishna and the golden vine-like Radha embrace each other, they always bring joy to the sakhis!”

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Here tāpiScha-mauli, one with a peacock feather ornament, is also a synonym for the black tamal tree, to whom Krishna is often compared. Similarly, Radha is herself a golden vine who wraps herself around the tamal trunk. As both fill with blossoms, so the bees are given joy. The word ali can mean both bee and girlfriend. This is the relation of the sakhis to the Divine Couple.

śaṁsann iva madanājñāṁ
madayan hṛdayaṁ kalaṁ gāyan |
nava-padminīṣu rātrau
vilasati madhusūdanaś citram ||40-41||

40 Krishna sings: “As though announcing the orders of Cupid, singing with artistry and intoxicating the hearts of all, the honey-drinker bees (madhusūdana) spends the night enjoying vilāsa with the youthful female lotuses.”

41 The gopis sing: “As though announcing the orders of Cupid, singing with artistry and intoxicating the hearts of all, Krishna (madhusūdana) spends the night enjoying vilāsa with the youthful lotus-like girls of Braj.”

rajanī-ramaṇas tamasāṁ śamano
nalinī-kulam unmahasām apanut |
śitigur gagane śitibhe vighane
subabhau kumudāvaka eṣa mudā ||42||

42 Krishna sings: “The lover of the night is the pacifier of the darkness, the protector of the lilies. With his white rays he has risen in the cloudless sky, which has also becomes white. He protects the lilies and destroys the effulgent beauty of the lotus flowers.”

ramanī-ramaṇas tamasāṁ śamano
khalinī-kula-mun-mahasām apanut |
śitigur gagane śitibhe vighane
vibabhau kumudākara eṣa mudā ||43||

43 “The lover of the gopis is the destroyer of sin, the protector of the lily-like gopis. With his black rays he flourishes in the birdless forest putting an end to the luster of joy felt by those who are wicked.”

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: In this verse, rather than using the exact same words with different meaning, the gopis change the meaning to suit their fancy by altering a few syllables of Krishna’s verse. The second, third and fourth syllables are repeated as the fifth, sixth and seventh. There is also internal rhyme in each line at the six and twelfth syllables.

kamalinī-malinī-karaṇe paṭur
vidhuritādhuritān iha cakravān |
nividadhad vidadhad bhagaṇe dhṛtiṁ
na sa mude samudeti vidhur mama ||44||

44 Krishna sings: “The moon has not yet risen fully to bring me joy: it is expert in making the lotuses wither, it makes the chakravaks feel the pain of separation from their mates, and brings peace to the constellations of stars in the sky.”

sa sudṛśāṁ sudṛśāṁ ruci-kṛd
rucir virahitā rahitā nija-tārakāḥ |
suvidadhad vidadhat ku-mudāvanam
vara-mude samudeti vidhur hi naḥ ||45||

45 The gopis respond: “But Krishna is our moon. His appearance brings pleasure to the eyes of the lovely-eyed Vraja kishoris, relieves them of their viraha distress, destroys the demons, and protects the bliss of the world. He rises fully to bring us joy.”

itthaṁ gāyan madhura-vipina-śrī-bharāloka-tṛptaḥ
kāntāvallīr api viracayan svābhimardane phullāḥ |
bhrāmaṁ bhrāmaṁ bhramara-nikaraiḥ svānugair veṣṭito’sau
tābhir vaṁśī-vaṭa-viṭapinaḥ kuṭṭimaṁ prāpa kṛṣṇaḥ ||46||

46 Thus the Kishora-shekhar sings while wandering through the forest, seeing which filled him with satisfaction. causing the the flower vines to blossom whenever he touched them, and surrounded by a swarm of buzzing honeybees following, he arrived at the cleared area by Vamshivata with the gopis.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Kuṭṭima means a cleared and prepared ground, such as would be appropriate for dancing the Raas. It can also mean a cottage.



This is part II of our Govinda-līlāmṛta nighttime līlā descriptions. These postings are inspired by Karttika Niyama Seva, which is separated by two Rasa Purnimas. Part I was here.

22 Seeing Krishna coming nearby, the other vines offer an auspicious welcome through the chirping of the birds, and while the wind tosses their branches, they dance while showing hand mudras with their leaves.

23 From kunja to kunja, flower petals and gunja berries fall on the ground to form colorful flower beds. The sound of the kokilas and bees inspire Radha and Krishna’s desires for prema vilāsa and the sakhis’ desires for the joy of service (sevānanda).

24 Everyone knows that the peacocks call when the lightning flashes amidst the clouds, but today they are calling out ke-kā with even greater bliss. Upon seeing the black cloud Krishna embraced by the sweet flashes of Radha’s lightning and raining down ambrosia, they dance with their open tail feather fans outspread in the company of the pea-hens!


dhvanad-ali-vihagaṁ śīta-vāteritaṁ
pariṇata-phala-yuk candrikā-rūṣitam |
vikaca-kusuma-sat-saurabhaṁ śrī-harer
vanam idam atanod indriyāṇāṁ mudam ||
Hari’s forest brings pleasure to all of his senses:
the sounds made by the birds and bees,
the cool breezes murmuring,
the ripened fruits,
the patterns made by the moonbeams
and the blooming flowers’ wafting fragrance.

Kusuma keli-vinoda : Playing with flowers

26 Then Sumukhi Rai picks two slightly blooming ashok clusters and with a trembling hand tries to place them behind Krishna’s ears. 27 Then, as she tried to do so, Krishna who always loses to Radha in their lovers’ quarrels, was able to claim victory by snatching the flowers and putting them behind her ears.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Dhira Lalita Madhava, however, wants Priyaji to wear the flowers, so he tries to catch them—but Shrimati steps aside! Then Krishna quickly steps behind her to snatch the flowers from her hand. Although Rai Dhani is the jaya-śrī-svarūpiṇī, the embodiment of the goddess of victory, this time she loses, and Krishna places the flowers beside her ears.


sukaṇṭhībhiḥ kaṇṭhī-rava-madhura-madhyābhir
abhitaḥ kalaṁ gāyantībhiḥ sarasam anugītāmala-guṇaḥ |
spṛśann aṅgāny āsāṁ stavaka-kusumādy-arpaṇa-miṣād
akuṇṭhām utkaṇṭhāṁ nibhṛta-rataye’vardhayad ayam ||28||
The gopis have glorious voices
their waists are sleek like those of a lion
gathered around Krishna they sang with artistry
and emotion of his spotless virtues.
Using the excuse of decorating them with clusters of flowers
he touched them, increasing without limit
their desire to enjoy with him in private.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The gopis are sukaṇṭhinī and madhura-bhāṣiṇī — they have beautiful voices and their words are sweet — and their slim waists are sleeker than a lion’s, but as they sing about Krishna he fondles them while pretending that he will decorate them with flowers. Hence their desire to enjoy the erotic pleasures of nirjana rati strongly awakens.

Ānanda-vṛndāvana-campū provides more details: “Using his fingernail, Shyamasundar writes love messages on a leaf and presents them to his preyasis. He picks the best flowers to make their kanchulis, and using the vines he makes armlets. Then he tosses flower pollen over their hair! But Krishna doesn’t stop—he also fashions mallika flower necklaces, kadamba forehead decorations, and sthala padma hair ornaments. Then he places lodhra flowers beside their cheeks, offers kunda flowers neck-ornaments and strings them waist-bells with bakula, keshara and naga-keshara flowers.

“And the gopis reciprocate: one Vrajasundari places naga-keshara flowers around Krishna’s ears and ketaki flowers in his hair. Another sundari garlands him with a mallika mala. One leading gopi decorates his turban with ashok clusters, another offers a yuthi-mala and someone makes armlets and waist bells from bakula flowers.”

Phula Dola (Flower Holi)

“Then begin the puremost dalliances in the forest. As the forest reverberates with the maudlin pitched sound of the bees and kokilas, the Vraja sundaris lose themselves in Kandarpa’s fascination! (Kṛṣṇāhnika-kaumudī)

The golden-skinned Vraja lalanas pick punnaga flowers, extract their pollen and throw it over Krishna as their jingling bracelets announce the fresh start of Kandarpa’s battle! But Krishna retaliates! He picks more flowers, rolls them into balls and hurls them back! Although the gopis’ flower bombs hit Krishna from every direction, still, somehow, Krishna manages to win, and the shukas call “Jaya! Jaya! Jaya!” to cheer his victory. Thus feeling a bit proud of his conquest, Krishna approaches Radhika, hoping to defeat her too. But Radha’s stern eyes and arching brows captivate him, so the sharikas shriek: “Jaya! Jaya! Jaya! Vrishabhanu-nandini!”

When Radhika picks fragrant punnaga flowers some bees fly out to frighten her—and her hand trembles! Krishna says. “Hey Vinodini! You’ve defeated the puṁnāga (the best of men) so it’s no wonder that you’re shaking.” Then, as Krishna smiles, Radha lowers her head and reveals a sweet smile too.

Seeing a special flower on a high branch, Radhika wants to pick it, so standing on her toes she stretches out her creeper-like arms, but then her lower garment slips off! Thus as she turns nervous, Krishna seizes the opportunity to lift her from behind. This only embarrasses Radharani further.

One Vraja bala feigns calamity, saying: “Oh, pollen fell in my eyes!” Thus raising her lata-arms, her bracelets jingle as she pretends to remove the pollen. Krishna then shows concern, saying, “Oh no, oh no! Let me see, let me see!” Placing his lips beside the gopis’ eyes, Krishna pretends that he will blow the pollen away—but he kisses her eyelids instead !

When Radha raises her arms to pick flowers, the flowers out of reach take to sakhī-bhāva and descend lower on their branches so that Srimati can pick them. (Kṛṣṇāhnika-kaumudī)

29 Owing to Krishna’s touch the sakhis’ bodies become decorated with the ornaments (or anubhāvas) known as bibboka, vilāsa, lalita and kila-kiñcita.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: This is the outcome of Krishna’s fondling the gopis while pretending to decorate them with flowers mentioned in the previous verse.

  • bibboka alaṅkāra: prideful neglect of the beloved.
  • vilāsa alaṅkāra: One’s stance, movement, facial expression and eye gestures upon seeing the beloved.
  • lalita alaṅkāra: The unique stance, bodily curve, and facial expression upon seeing the beloved.
  • kila-kiñcita: Pride, desire, shrieking, smiling, jealousy, fear and anger that simultaneously arise from the heart’s elation upon seeing the beloved.

30 As Krishna’s wanders, he approaches some of the latas to describe their madhuri, but then with the buzzing of their honeybees, they sing Krishna’s glories. So Krishna picks their flowers to touch them.

Rasa Saṅgīta :: Lovesong Duets

31 Thereafter, Krishna composes songs about the moon, the latas or the stars…. and the sakhis respond with the exact same words which describe Radha Govinda.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: In other words, the same verse is repeated but in Krishna’s verse, nature is being described, while the second meaning sung by the gopis describes Krishna and Radha.


jagad-āhlādaka-śilaḥ pramadā-
hṛdi vardhita-manasija-pīlaḥ |
rādhānurādhikāntar vilasan
śuśubhe kalā-nidhiḥ so’yam ||

32 Krishna sings, “This kalā-nidhi (moon) excites everyone’s romantic desires when coming between the two stars Radha and Anuradha.”
33The gopis respond: “Sri Kalanidhi (Krishna the expert lover) has come between Radha and Lalita to excite their desire for rati.”

san mālatyām asyāṁ mālatyāṁ malatībhiḥ phullābhiḥ |
saṁveṣṭita iha paritaḥ punnāgo’yaṁ virājate gahane ||

34 Krishna sings: “Just see the malati vine embracing the punnaga tree on this splendid moonlit night.”
35 The gopis respond: “Seeing Purushottam and praphulla Radha embracing in the moonlight makes us happy!”

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The word mālatī can mean the moonrays, the night, the malati lata or a highly qualified nayika. And punnāga can mean either the punnaga tree (naga-keshara) or the greatest male (Sri Purushottam).



Shri Gopinath Lal on Sharad Purnima – P.C. Jagannath Poddar

Vrindavan, 2017.10.06 (VT): Sharad Purnima is the night when Shri Krishna danced the Raas Lila with Shri Radha Rani and the gopis of Vrindavan. On this full moon night, the moonlight pours down upon the camphor-like soft sands of the Yamuna bank. All the night is shining white.

As if clothed in moonbeams, the deities of every temple in Vrindavan are dressed all in white with silver or gold accents. Shri Krishna wears a special tilted crown known as Braj Chandrika. Lila songs depicting the Raas Lila are sung for the pleasure of Shri Radha and Krishna, and devotees dress up in their best outfits – usually white to match the dress of their beloveds.

In his book Stavamala, Shri Roop Goswami describes the beauty of Radha as she runs to meet Krishna on the full moon night.


राग – धनाश्री

त्वं कुच-वल्गित-मौक्तिक-माला
हरिमभिसर सुन्दरि सित-वेषा
राका-रजनिरजनि गुरुरेषा

“Tonight the moon is full. O beautiful Radha, dressed all in white! Your elegant chain of white pearls dances Your breast as you run to your Beloved, and your smile makes the moonlight even brighter! Your dress is white like buffalo yoghurt, and a thick layer of white sandalwood paste adorns your body. When you finally meet with your beloved, even the white lotus flower tucked behind your ear smiles with bliss!”

The special bhog offering on Sharad Purnima is makhaane ki kheer and chandrakalaa. 


Radharamanji’s prasadi chandrakala and makhane ki kheer. P.C. Raseshwari Dasi

Makhaane ki kheer is made from sweet thickened milk with popped lotus seeds cooked in it till they become soft. Chandrakalaa (literally “phase of the moon”) is a kind of circular biscuit, similar to sweet mathri or even a puffed puri, but extremely light and fluffy, and covered in powdered sugar. Indeed, it looks very much like the full moon.

The entire temple of Shri Radharaman Lal was draped in white on this night and Radharamanji sat on a golden throne, while at the Banke Bihari temple, Bihariji gave a rare darshan holding a flute and at Govardhan, Chandra Sarovar was decorated with 11,000 ghee lamps.


Chandra Sarovar on Sharad Purnima. P.C. Dainik Jagran

Be sure to see our feature gallery: Sharat Purnima Darshans.



Today is Sharadiya Rasa, which is a commemoration of the five chapters in the Bhagavatam that describe the Rasa-lila. Sometimes these chapters are called the five life-airs of the Bhagavatam or its five senses. I thought this would be a good opportunity to serialize the last two chapters of Govinda-lilamrita by Krishnadas Kaviraj and then perhaps fill out the rest of Karttik with the Rasa-lila from Gopala-champu. We will increase our Niyama-seva a bit. Why not?

The translation and commentary were done by my friend Gadadhar Pran Das and people will be able to contact him through Vrindavan Today and get a published version of this book from him.

The Vraja Nisha Lila Sutra

These opening verses are attributed to Rupa Goswami. They give the broad outline of all the activities of the night-time pastimes of the Divine Couple.

tāv utkau labdha-saṅghau bahu-paricaraṇair vṛndayārādhyamānau
gānair narma-prahelī-sulapana-naṭanaiḥ rāsa-lāsyādi-raṅgaiḥ
preṣṭhālībhir lasantau rati-gata-manasau mṛṣṭa-mādhvīka-pānau
krīḍā-cāryau nikuñje vividha-rati-raṇa uddhatya vistāritāntau

tāmbūlair gandha-mālyair vyajana-hima-payaḥ-pāda-saṁvāhanādyaiḥ
premṇā saṁsevyamānau praṇayi-sahacarī-sañcayenāpta-śātau
vācā kāntairaṇābhir nibhṛta-rati-rasaiḥ kuñja-suptāli-saṅghau
rādhā-kṛṣṇau niśāyāṁ sukusuma-śayane prāpta-nidrau smarāmi

When Radha and Krishna meet, Vrinda worships them with many fine articles. Then a host of lilas begin such as: wandering in the forest (vana-vihāra), riddle competition (prahelis), singing, Rasa dancing and drinking intoxicating liquors (madhu-pāna). When the Divine Couple becomes tired the sakhis serve them by fanning, massaging their feet, supplying water, divine fragrances and pan. At last the Sri Yugala Kishor happily falls asleep on their bed of flowers. Let us thus remember their night-time pastimes (niśā-vihāra). (Smaraṇa-maṅgala, 10-11)

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The remaining portion of Govinda-līlāmṛta will elaborate on this sutra. Although it is not mentioned here, the Yogapith, Yamuna jala-keli and the late night meal are also included in Radha Krishna’s night-time pastimes.

2-3With a humble entreaty, Vrinda and her vana-devis escort Vrajanath and Vrajeshwari Rai from the ratna mandir to a golden vedi which basks in the moonlight. Their throne is decorated with scented flowers, covered by a fine silk sheet and cooled by the Yamuna’s breezes. 4Pan, scents and freshened water are brought from the storage rooms. Then Sri Yugala Kishor are outfitted with flower ornaments, crowns and malas as the dasis fan them, using chamara whisks.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The Guṭikā now describes Radha Govinda’s Yogapith lila. The sadhaka manjari can perform this seva as previously described in the Pratah Lila. Sri Narottam Das Thakur depicts this scene as follows:

bṛndābana ramya-sthāna, dibya cintāmaṇi dhāma,
ratana mandira manohara
āvrita kālindī nīre, rāja-hamsa keli kare
tāhe śobhe kanaka kamala
tāra madhye hema pīṭha, aṣṭa-dale suveṣṭita,
aṣṭa-dale pradhānā nāyikā
tāra madhye ratnāsane, basi āchena dui jane
śyāma saṅge sundarī rādhikā
o rūpa lābaṇya rāśi, amiyā podiche khasi,
hāsya parihāsa sambhāṣane
narottama dāse kaya, nitya līlā sukhamaya,
sadāi sphuruka more mane

Vrindavan is a pleasureful divine abode, made of chintamani, here there is a jeweled temple being caressed by the Yamuna’s rivulets, where swans frolic amidst the golden lotus patches.

The mandir has a golden throne where the ashta sakhis stand upon eight lotus petals. In the center is the chief nayika, Radhika sundari, sitting on a jeweled simhasana beside Govinda Deva.

As the Divine Couple laughs and jokes, nectar appears to be pouring from their effulgent sweet forms. Narottam Das says, “This eternal lila is always blissful. May it always appear within my mind.”

This pada focuses only on the inner whorl of the Yogapith mandala. There are thousands of petals where Radha’s other sakhis stand.

5Govinda observed, “Here is that same wonderful moonlit night, that same pleasureful forest, the beautiful Yamuna and its banks, and here are my dearest gopis.” Thus his desire to enjoy the Rasa awakened.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: This verse brings to mind the first sloka of the Bhagavata’s Rasa Pancadhyaya.

bhagavān api tā rātrīḥ śaradotphulla-mallikāḥ
vīkṣya rantuṁ manaś cakre yogamāyām upāśritaḥ

Seeing the beautiful autumn night with its blooming mallika flowers, Bhagavan Sri Krishna desires to enjoy with the gopis, and so he takes Yogamaya’s shelter. (SB 10.29.1)

6Hence the lila begins: forest sight-seeing (vana-vihāra), dancing upon the spinning chakra (cakra-bhrama+na), ladies’ circular dancing (hallishaka-nṛtya), dancing in pairs (yugma nṛtya), the gopis dancing (lāsya-nṛtya), solo dancing (eka-eka-nṛtya), the gopis’ singing, rati-krīḍā and jala-keli.

7Seeing Radha Krishna’s appearance, the spring displays her opulences: the full moon’s lightbeams filter, gentle malayan breezes toss the dancing forest latas and the sounds of the bees and the kokilas form an orchestra. Thus Krishna becomes zealous to enjoy vana vihara with the gopis.

8Krishna makes his desire known to the gopis by playing his flute, and they respond by singing Krishna’s names.

9Krishna says, “Oh dear ones! The moonrays beautify the forest and its flowers and they are carrying my desire to enjoy with you.”

10The gopis answer: “Oh Krishna, Krishna, Krishna! Oh Ramana! Let it be so!”

11Thus taking his sundari ramanis, Krishna sweetly sings and wanders with them under every tree and every lata and in every kunja.

12The Vraja sundaris sing about Krishna as they joyfully wander with him. Yet meanwhile the lata dance, and the kokilas, the bees and the peacocks sing in the fifth scale.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Srila Narottam Das Thakur depicts this scene:

kadamba tarura dala, namiyāche bhūme bhāla
phuṭiyāche phula sāri sāri
parimala bhorala, sakala vṛndāvana
keli kore bhramara bhramarī

rāi kānu vilāsai raṅge
kibā rūpa lāvani, vaidagdha khani dhani,
maṇimaya ābharaṇa aṅge

rādhāra dakṣiṇa kore, dhari priya giridhara,
madhura madhura coli jāy
āge pāche sakhigaṇa, kore phula bariṣaṇa
kono sakhī cāmara dhulāya

parāge dhūsara sthala, candra kore suśītala,
maṇimaya vedīra upore,
rāi kānu kara jori, nṛtya kore phiri phiri,
paraśe pulaka tanu bhore

mṛgamada candana, kore kori sakhī gaṇa
bariyase phula gandha rāje
śrama jala bindu bindu, śobhā kore mukha indu
adhare muralī bāje

hāsa vilāsa rasa, sarala madhura bhāṣa
narottama monoratha bhoru
duhuka vicitra veśa, kusume racita keśa
locana mohana līlā koru

Overloaded with flowers, the kadamba’s branches gracefully bend to the ground. And as the flowers’ wonderful fragrance permeates the forest. The bees buzz hither and thither.

Aha! Rai Kanu wander playfully. Rai is a jewel mine of luster, form and cleverness, and as she clasps her priya Giridhari’s hand, they gracefully stroll, forming a madhura madhura scene. From in front and behind, some sakhis’ toss flower petals and others twirl chamara whisks.

Kanu dances in circles, holding Rai in his arms and when they touch, they horripilate! The sakhis dip flowers in kasturi and chandan and toss them over Sri Yugala Kishor, yet still perspiration droplets adorn their moon-faces. Then Krishna places the murali to his lips. Sometimes they laugh…and sometimes they musingly chat.

Aho! Narottam’s desires become completely fulfilled. Their dress is colorful, and their hair is bound with flowers. So let this lochana mohan lila go on!” (Prārthanā)

13-19 The ambrosial vision of Krishna’s promenade through the spring forest brings the trees, the latas, the bees, the deer and the birds back to life—as though coming back to consciousness after fainting! So just as people dress up to warmly welcome the King and the Queen, Vrindavan dresses up in moonbeams, places the deer, birds, bees and other family members in front, and ecstatically trembles with the malayan breezes to greet Radha Govinda.

The forest is painted gold and silver by the golden gopi maidens’ luster stream mixing with the effulgent moon-rays. But when Kanakini Rai’s golden aura merges with Krishna’s sapphire effulgence, their bodies turn emerald green like new tamal leaves basking in the moonlight.

Govinda asks the forest inhabitants: “Oh birds! Oh trees! Oh latas! Oh bees! Are you all well?”

The trees’ flowers and branches are its hands and feet. Thus as the malayan breeze instructs, the flower vines dances in jubilation to welcome Kishora and Kishori! As Radha Shyama’s bodily fragrance pervades the forest, countless madhu-intoxicated bees soar around them. Thinking they must be fatigued, the madhavi vines, moist with love, want to feed them their own honey and so they motion with their hand-like leaves, which are fluttering in the breeze.


Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The madhavis are the bees’ springtime lady friends, so the their affection for the bees is natural. But noticing their bee boyfriends turning dizzy while soaring around Radha Govinda, they wave them back to drink their honey. However, having found a better source of honey, the bees neglect the madhavis’ call.

20 Having learned from the gopis how to discard their religious principles (kula dharma) for Govinda’s pleasure, the madhavis though blossoming and fragrant offer praise with the droning sound of the honey-bees.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Ananda Vrindavan Campu mentions that as the bees suck the madhavi flowers’ honey, their intoxicating buzzing resembles the spring festival’s trumpeting conchshell. But just as the pollen-sucking causes inebriation, so does the bees’ buzzing awaken the intoxicating moods of Madana.



Vrindavan, 2017.10.05 (VT): Devotees visiting Vrindavan for Kartik should keep a close eye on their belongings. Pickpockets are stalking the markets and temples looking for a chance to steal.

Not only busy areas are affected. Pickpockets also strike on slow nights in the not-so-busy bazaar, when devotees have their guard down.

Recently a devotee, who prefers to remain anonymous, had her purse stolen in Vrindavan’s Loi Bazar. “I was not paying attention,” she says, “And the expert thief was able to put his hand inside the bag and take my things easily without my knowledge.”

Another devotee had her purse stolen in a temple on a festival day. After reporting the matter to the temple administration, she was told that the chor dal (gang of thieves) always hits the temple on major festival days. A third devotee says that two phones were swiped from him by a person who was sitting extremely close to him on a packed auto rickshaw.

Devotees are advised to stay alert and be aware of people – be it a man, woman or child – standing too close to you. The pickpocketing problem is likely to increase as more devotees from around the world visit Vrindavan during Kartik.



Vrindavan, 2017.10.05 (VT): Every year Shri Ramesh Babaji of Barsana leads a popular 84-Krosh parikrama called Radharani Braj Yatra. Making the journey by foot to the company of kirtan, devotees immerse themselves in the lilas of Shri Radha and Krishna while visiting the very places where those lilas took place.

A number of groups perform the Braj Yatra each year, but the majority of them use vehicles and cost money to participate. Shri Ramesh Baba wished to provide an opportunity for devotees to perform the Braj Yatra free of charge in the traditional style, and so the Radha Rani Braj Yatra began in 1988. Baba gave the Yatra Radha Rani’s name rather than his own, to let people know that devotees of all sampradays and lineages are welcome to join.

Shri Ramesh Baba says that he started this yatra with total dependence on Shri Radha Rani, in the sense that all the needs for the yatra would be taken care of by Radha Rani alone. Today the Radha Rani Braj Yatra attracts an estimated 20,000 participants every year. The 40-day journey is made in the traditional manner on foot, and is accompanied by 24-hour Harinaam Sankirtan.

Two hot meals a day, drinking water, morning tea with snacks, luggage transportation, a shared tent for sleeping overnight and basic medicines are all provided free of cost. Devotees are welcome to join the Yatra from one day to the entire duration of the pilgrimage.

This year’s schedule for the Radharani Braj Yatra 2017:

October 3: Sankalp; Mangarh, Daangarh, Morkuti, Sankrikhor, Vilasgarh, Maheshwari Sar, Dohni Kund, Shri Mataji Gaushala darshan (distance covered 8km)

October 4: Deh Kund, Lalita Ata, Unchagaon, Dauji Darshan, Pili Pokhar, Bhanukhor, Chiksauli (11km)

October 5: Kushal Bihari, Shriji Mandir, Brajeshwar Mahadev, Rabad Van, Kamai, Karhala, Pisaya (11km)

October 6: Anjanauk, Gazipur, Prem Sarovar, Vihval Kund, Sanket Devi, Baithakji, Radha Raman Ji Darshan, Domil Van, Nandgaon, Uddhav Kyari (12)

October 7: Nandgaon Parikrama, Pavan Sarovar, Moti Kund, Mayur Kund, Yashoda Kund, Nand Khirak, Panihari Kund, Vrinda Kund (10km)

October 8: Asheshwar Mahadev, Ter Kadamb, Jaav (Yavat), Kishori Vat, Radhakant Mandir, Kokilavan, Pandav Ganga (11.5)

October 9: Badi Baithan, Dauji Mandir, Chhoti Baithan, Charan Pahadi, Raasvan (Raasoli), Dehgaon (8.5km)

October 10: Kotvan, Baithak Ji, Chamelivan (10km)

October 11: Hatana, Sheshashayi, Kharot, Nagla Hasanpur (12km)

October 12: Kosi parikrama and darshan (13km)

October 13: Kosi, Phalen, Peygaon, Jatwari (12.5)

October 14: Shergarh, Parikrama, Echadauji, Viharvan (13km)

October 15: Bheemagarhi, Kasraut, Tapovan, Cheer Ghat, Gangaraul (10km)

October 16: Nand Ghat, Basai, Mai, Sei, Balhara (12km)

October 17: Yamunapar, Vanshivat, Bhandirvan (7km)

October 18: Mant, Begampur, Gazipur, Belvan (11km)

October 19 (Diwali): Begampur, Radharani Maansarovar, Panigaon, Durvasaji, Vrindavan Jagannath Ghat

October 20 (Govardhan Puja): Vrindavan Parikrama

October 21: Vrindvan temples darshan

October 22: Panigaon Pul, Mawli, Lohavan, Nagla Dhira, Siroha, Karav (12.5km)

October 23: Bandi, Neer Nagla, Chauli, Baldev, Dauji Darshan (9km)

October 24: Khadora, Haveli, Basai, Hardasa, Rinmochan, Chintaharan (11km)

October 25: Brahmand Ghat, Mahavan Ramanreti, Gokul, Chandravali, Raval (12km)

October 26: Lakshmi Nagar, Rang Ji Mandr, Maholi Road (10km)

October 27: Taalvan, Kumudvan, Nandgaon (10km)

October 28 (Gopashtami): Satoha, Bakalpur, Ganeshara Phechri (12km)
October 29: Bati, Raal, Bhadaal (8km)

October 30: Julendi, Mukherai (7km)

October 31: Giriraj Ji Parikrama (21km)

November 1: Jamunavato, Parsoli, Chandra Sarovar, Paitha, Shyam Dhak (12km)

November 2: Samai-Kheda, Nagla Dad, Bahaj, Deeg (14km)

November 3: Dudavali, Paramdara (9km)

November 4 (Kartik Purnima): Seu Suhera, Jadkhor, Pahalwara, Khoh (12.3km)

November 5: Neel Ghati, Kadamkhandi, Alipur, Harinakhoi, Dev Sarovar, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Haridwar, Har Ki Paudi, Adibadri (10km)

November 6: Alipur, Pasopa Dhau-Barauli, Kedarnath (10km)

November 7: Laihsar, Charan Pahadi, Luk-Luk Kund, Gayaa Kund, Kaman (Kamyavan) (13.5km)

November 8: Kaman parikrama and darshan

November 9: Kanwada, Kadam Khandi, Sunehra, Barsana (13km)



Vrindavan, 2017.10.05 (VT): Devotees performing Govardhan Parikrama have to share the narrow path with dangerously speeding cars, trucks, tractors and other heavy vehicles. Yesterday, however, the entry of cars was suddenly banned for good.

The ban comes by the order of the District Magistrate, in compliance with an order by the NGT. The news was reportedly circulated throughout the entire Govardhan parikrama marg via loudspeakers.

The closure of the parikrama marg to four-wheelers is a major victory for the environment and for all parikrama-goers, who previously had to risk being crushed to death while bowing down to the sacred hill at places like Daan Ghati. If and how the ban will be maintained, however, remains to be seen.

The NGT order to close the parikrama to traffic also included an instruction to create a parallel ring road and ample parking, so that the residents of remote villages like Jatipura and Anyor would not be cut off from the world. However, the ring road has not yet been completed.

“They should finish the ring road first,” says Radha Kund resident Satinder Kumar. “How will workers get construction materials to places like Anyor? How will gaushalas receive shipments of grass? What if someone needs to get to a hospital in an emergency? Unless they make another road, the ban can’t work.”

Still, even if the police only allow local vehicles to pass, this Kartik will be a peaceful one in Govardhan.


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