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:
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:
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 tālas — ta-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:
- Radha, the Alavani vina
- Lalita, the Brahma vina
- Vishakha, the Kacchapi vina
- Chitra, the Rudra vina
- Champakalata, the Vipanchi vina
- Rangadevi, the Kavilaṅga vina
- Sudevi, the Sarangi vina
- Tungavidya, the Kinnari vina
- Indulekha, the svara-maṇḍala vina.
Other sakhis play the madala, mridanga, pakhoaj, muraja and many other instruments.
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: tatha–thai 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!