52 Groggy with the madhu and Kandarpa’s arrows, Krishna takes the tipsy Radha by the hand and leads her to a bed of flowers in a kunja beside the Yamuna, which had been decorated by Vrinda in advance.
53 The sakhis are also intoxicated by both Kandarpa and the madhu, so Vrinda and her assistants carefully escort these rolling-eyed gopa kishoris to their separate kunjas so that they can take rest.
54 Krishna enjoys rati-keli with Radha to his full satisfaction. And afterwards, as Radhika’s svādhīna-bhartṛkā mood awakens, Krishna redresses and redecorates her. Then he comes outside with a broad smile!
Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Srila Krishna Das Kaviraj only briefly describes Radha Krishna’s nikuñja-keli in only one sloka. But Srila Rupa Goswami in his Nikuñja-rahasya-stava. This is perhaps Srila Rupa’s most intimate writing. You can read it here: Part I, Part II.
This Nikuñja-rahasya-stava centers on Gaudiya Vaishnava dharma’s ultimate goal. Hence, by example, Sri Rupa humbly teaches us what to think about by repeatedly stressing (30 times) smara nibhṛta-nikuñje rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau— “Just meditate on Radhika and Krishna Chandra within the secret nikuñjas.” By following this mood one is assured to attain Radha Krishna’s nikuñja-sevā. In Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 8) Sriman Mahaprabhu affirms that such meditation in gopī bhāva forms the ultimate sādhana.
It is noteworthy that the first Bengali translation of this Sanskrit stava was written by Dina Sharana Das Baba, a Vraja siddha mahātmā whose sādhana was deeply rooted in this stava. One attains siddhi as a result of intense one-pointed absorption (āveśa). Dina Sharana Das Baba was an ideal example, for he took Sri Rupa’s instructions to heart, and entered the nitya-līlā while reciting this stava in the late hours of the night.
55 Following Radha’s request, Krishna expands himself and enters each sakhi’s kunj. Then he enjoys rati-keli with them. But afterwards, they all behave like svādhīna-bhartṛkā nāyikās—just as Radha did.
Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The svādhīna-bhartṛkā is defined by Rupa Goswami
The svādhīna-bhartṛkā is one who has brought her lover completely under her control and makes him serve her by bringing water, going for dalliances in the forest and picking flowers, etc. (UN 5.91)
yā sarvadā priyatamena niṣevyate ca
svādhīna-bhartṛka-padaṁ prakaṭīkṛtā sā ||
The nāyikā who is constantly being served by her lover through hundreds of embraces and kisses, offering of flowers and soft, sweet and pleasing words that increase the enthusiasm for love.
In Gīta-govinda, the classical example of the svādhīna-bhartṛkā is given:
ghaṭaya jaghane kāñcīṁ mugdha-srajā kavarī-bharaṁ |
kalaya valaya-śreṇīṁ pāṇau pade maṇi-nūpurāv
iti nigaditaḥ prītaḥ pitāmbaro’pi tathākarot ||
Radha said, “Draw pictures on my breasts,
decorate my cheeks with dots of musk,
tie a sash of bells around my hips,
braid my hair with a charming garland.
Place bangles on my wrists and
jeweled ankle bells on my feet.”
So being told, the yellow-robed Krishna,
being pleased, did so. (GG 12.25)
56 Then Krishna slips away (unseen) from each sakhi; he becomes a single murti again and returns to Radha who upon seeing him, mildly smiles.
57 When the sakhis return, they see their sakhi Radha looking at them and laughing. They become shy and cover the signs of their lovemaking with Krishna (rati-cihna) with their garments, and lower their heads.
58 Seeing their plight, Radhika begins to tease them: “My dear sakhis! Our rati nāyaka was here with me and Vrinda. He never left us for even a moment, so he could not have been the one who made you dance the dance of love. So tell me how it is that your bodies have become bruised like that?”
59 Krishna laughs and interjects, “Don’t you know, Radhe? I’m the director of this play, the embodiment of the ujjvala-rasa! Thus, on the stage of every kunja I’ve made these dancing actresses dance this dance called love, and these marks on their bodies are the proof!”
Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Krishna is the embodiment of the madhura-rasa, as stated by Jayadeva Goswami:
viśveṣām anurañjanena janayann ānandam indīvara-
śreṇī-śyāmala-komalair upanayann aṅgair anaṅgotsavam |
svacchandaṁ vraja-sundarībhir abhitaḥ praty-aṅgam āliṅgitaḥ
śṛṅgāraḥ sakhi mūrtimān iva madhau mugdho hariḥ krīḍati ||
By his pleasure giving, he brings joy to all the worlds;
With his limbs, as soft and dark as blue lotus flowers,
he inaugurates the festival of love.
O friend Radhe! Hari frolicks in the spring,
like the embodiment of śṛṅgāra-rasa;
completely enchanted by the beauties of Braja,
who surround him and wantonly embrace his every limb.
60 Krishna’s boldness triggers the sakhis’ loving resentment towards him and Radha. Thus they reply: “Oho! Hey Govinda! Our friend (Radha) always keeps you dancing with rati’s step; thus she’s your nritya-guru, the one who teaches you to dance! Now through you she is trying to make us her grand-disciples!”
61 The sakhis go on: “Śāstra says that those who voluntarily serve are the real disciples, but you have used force—and that’s not proper. So you’re not our guru, and we’re not your disciples! Hence your efforts are just a waste of time.”
62 Then the gopis chide Radha as follows: “Hey sakhi! Hey bhogini (female snake)! We’re nakulāṅganās (female mongeese) and you don’t know anything about our pure character. You just want to make us like you and so you send your husband, the bhujaṅga (black snake), to torment us.”
Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Using śleṣārthas (multiple meanings of words) the gopis try to save face and prove their disinterest in surata-vilāsa. Yet their saucy words are also a counter-offensive to Krishna and Radha’s teasing, by poking fun at them:
“We’re lady mongeese—so don’t you know that we always resist the bhujaṅga (black Krishna-snake)? But Radha! You’re the bhujaṅga‘s priya-bhoginī (the dearest enjoyer of that snake) and hence, you’re always making love with him. That’s alright, as far as we are concerned, but why do you send him to disturb us?”
Yet the gopis’ śleṣārtha-kathā (puns) also hints at their pure intentions: “Oh Radha! We’ve discarded all so-called worldly dharma and completely surrendered ourselves to making you happy. So when we unite you with your Priya Nagara, we don’t expect anything in return.”