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Govinda Lilamrita :: Maha Rasa

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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.

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