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Govinda Lilamrita : The dance goes on

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22 The gopis’ song resounded like the monsoon thunder with the accompaniment of gongs and cymbals, with their wind instruments it added a fine sound like the hole in a needle; their stringed instruments pervaded it like the infinite breadth of the sky, and it was bound like jewels in a gold setting with their percussion instruments.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The four classes of instrument are named after objects having qualities they share with the sounds they produce:

  1. Ghana means a cloudy sky and thunder or metal percussion instruments like cymbals;
  2. śuṣira means a hole or hollow, as well as the wind instruments like a flute;
  3. tata means spreading or expansive like the sky, and it can also mean stringed instruments like the vina;
  4. ānaddha means bound, or percussion instruments that are bound with a leather covering.

23 The anklebells, waist-bells, bangles and armlets worn by Krishna and the gopis produce a fifth class of instrument as their enchanting ring blends with the rhythm of their dancing feet on the ground.

24 As their dancing goes on, the Vraja sundaris sing with their mouths, enact dramas with their hands, keep the tāla moving with their feet, shaking their necks and hips, and moving their eyes to the right and to the left. Thus with their attention fixed on Krishna’s mukhāravinda—they enjoy great erotic rapture!

25 The gopis effortlessly sing those śrutis, yatis, mūrchanās and gamakas that are impossible for humans to divine without the help of a vina.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The last chapter’s verses 77, 80 and 81 define the śrutis, mūrchanās and gamakas.

26 One talented gopi blends the undivided śrutis, gamakas and yatis to sing beautiful, and Krishna zealously exclaims sādhu sādhu ! to praise her. But then her frowning eyebrows chastise him, so he respects her even more!

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: It sound like this is Lalita.

27 Natini Shiromani Rai’s chālikya dancing enthralls Krishna! Thus unable to find a more suitable reward, Krishna dashes to offer himself with a firm embrace.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Krishna thinks, “What more can I give for Rai’s wonderful performance? I’ll give my very atma!” In the chālikya dance someone dances while balancing over a jug, or while balancing the jug on one’s head.

28 Sometimes Muralidhara Krishna’s flute playing inspires Radhika’s dancing. But while viewing Radha’s hāsya mādhuri (sweet smile), Krishna slips on the tāla; so Radhika quickly makes her ornaments jingle to correct Krishna’s blunder and concludes the song with her own graceful dance steps. Then Radhika induces Krishna to dance while she plays the vina.

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: A similar pastime is described in Mahajan padāvali. Here is the summary: Once Krishna playfully joked with Radhika, saying, “Hey priyatama! Look, I’ll mark the stage with the picture of a bow. Can you dance over this picture without making your anklebells, nose ring and earrings jingle, and yet following my vamshi’s quick tāla with your footsteps? If you can, then I’ll admit defeat and surrender to you!”

Krishnas-flute-300x159.pngHearing Krishna’s challenge, Lalita replies, “Why should you only admit defeat? You’ll have to hand over your vamshi, too!”

Krishna smiles and says, “Alright, I’ll accept the wager, but if Rai fails, then what will I get?”

Lalita: “Since your heart dances as Radha’s nose-pearl swings, it shall be yours!”

Then, while fixing his glance upon Priya-mani’s face—saṅgīta-durandhara Shyamasundar plays a frantic tāla! Aho! the unlimitedly virtuous Radha keeps the wager’s conditions. Not only that—while shaking her hips, waist and neck with her intricate rasamaya dancing poses—she looks Shyamasundar right in the eye with a playful smile! Hence Radha’s mukha madhuri, her wonderful nritya chaturi and her flowing mohini murti fascinate Shyam—and so he misses a beat! But Kalavati Rai is right on top of the situation: she quickly picks up the tāla to finish the song with her superb dancing steps! Thus even though he is defeated, Krishna becomes overjoyed—such is prema’s wonderful dharma.

Next Lalita proposes: “Hey Shyamasundar! As you’ve made our Raja-nandini dance, now it’s your turn. Let’s see your skill as she plays the vina. But be forewarned—this isn’t your sakhas’ playground, nor does this include the art of stealing the tarunis’ hearts with stealthy sidelong glances. Rather, this is an assembly where the best sundari ramanis display their dancing talents. So watch out—lest you become a laughing-stock in our presence!”

Krishna answers with a smile: “Well, if I can dance up to the mark, what will you give me?”

Lalita looks towards Rai Rangini’s face and blushes, saying, “We’ll serve you chandra sudha (the nectar of the moon) and maha-padma madhu (the honey of the great lotus), meaning the nectar of Radha’s moon-like face along with the sweet honey of her lotus mouth!”

So Radha beings playing the vina with an incredibly intricate tāla—and she’s backed by her entire sakhi orchestra! Yet Nata Rajendra Shiromani waits for the right cue and with all eyes upon him—he leaps onto the center stage! Aho! Krishna Chandra’s nritya kala is spectacular! He expertly bends and curves long with Gandharvika’s frantically flowing tāla and laya! What a mohaniya natua!

Now Madana Mohan’s charming talents stifle even Mohini Rai’s concentration—so her hand slips from the strings! But while immediately catching the tāla with his fast moving footsteps—Krishna finishes the beat with the quick rhythmic sound of his jingling nupuras! Vrinda and all the sakhis are amazed! “Wonderful!” they exclaim. Even Radha is struck with wonder! Then smiling Rasika Mohana comes to reap his reward.

29 The sakhis eagerly assist Radha Krishna’s dancing with their fantastic nritya, gita and vadya, but they cannot match the Divine Couple’s talents. 30 Then, just as the last beat falls, Rasika Chudamani’s hand reaches out to touch Priyaji’s breast! Although she is pleased by his bold behavior, Radha feigns anger and brushes his hand away!

Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta tells a slightly different story: Just before the Rasa dance comes to an end, Radha and Krishna release their mutual hold and begin dancing solo. But Krishna can’t resist the urge to dance beside Rai to touch her breast, and he does it! However, on the music’s last beat, Radha flicks Krishna’s hand away! So the sakhis cheer in unison, “Jaya Radhe!”


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