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Govinda-Lilamrita :: Govinda-lilamrita: Rasa-lila musicology (Part II)

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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.

MUDRAS_hand-illustration-mudra.jpg

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.

śrī-caitanya-padāravinda-madhupa-śrī-rūpa-sevā-phale
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.

 

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