63-64 To relieve the fatigue of the Rasa and his rati-vilāsa with the gopis, Krishna gathers them together and enters the Yamuna for jala-vihāra—Just as a drunken elephant enters the water with his mates! Some of the tired gopa kishoris stand in knee-deep water, or up to their navels, while others move into water that is neck deep. Then Krishna lightly splashes them—so they splash back in frolic.
Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Before entering the Yamuna the gopis put on very thin, white snāna-vastras. But as everyone enters the water, Krishna expands himself and begins teasing them. He pulls some of the gopis into knee-deep water and others into navel-deep water, and then splashes them in such a way that their thin garments cling to their bodies and reveal their full aṅga-mādhurī! But they splash Krishna too—so that they can see through his thin garments also! Then Krishna pulls some of the gopis into deep water and kisses them!
65 Krishna frolics with some taruni-ramanis alone, or he frolics in groups of five or six—and sometimes he frolics with all of them after fixing various types of wagers.
Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: What are the wagers? Kisses, embraces and lip-biting are at stake. First Krishna duels with Radha, then he steps between Lalita, Vishakha, Chitra, Champakalata and Indulekha, or between other groups of gopis—or with everyone at once. As Madana’s intoxication increases, the battle progresses hand-to-hand, chest-to-chest, face-to-face and even tooth-to-tooth! Aho! Everyone is going all out to win, while the manjaris cheer from the banks.
66 When someone wins, the loser must give kisses. But sometimes the loser refuses to give a kiss, and a quarrel ensues. Thus Krishna enjoys parama ānanda with his taruni ramanis.
Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: What’s all of the commotion about? Sometimes it is Krishna and sometimes it is the gopis who win. So when ānanda-nidhi Krishna triumphs—he holds his face out and expands his chest to indicate to the gopis that they must kiss and embrace him. But the gopis just turn shy and only smile at each other. And when the gopis win, Krishna rushes to grab and kiss them. But instead of accepting their due reward, they flee to safety! Thus the gopis neglect to offer or to acept his kiss as agreed on in the wager, and a raging quarrel begins! But even during all this commotion Nagara-shekhara moves in to kiss and touch these clever Kishori-vallabhas.
67 Then Krishna speaks equivocally: “How amazing! It’s night time, but the chakravakas are uniting and the bees are mad after the blooming padmas’ madhu!” Thus the gopa tarunis wince and quickly cover their breasts and faces with their hands!
Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: After fleeing, the gopis shyly lower their heads to rest over their breasts. And seeing this madhura scene, Rasika raja smiles and recites this amusing pun which outwardly means: “Aha! Two chakravaka-birds very rarely perch together at night, and rarer still it is to see a beautiful lotus blooming over them. This would certainly excite a lusty bee!” But the sharp-witted gopa sundaris immediately fathom the inner meaning and exclaim: “Uh-oh, here comes that lusty black bhramara who wants to land on our lotus-faces after stinging our chakravaka breasts!” Thus they quickly prepare to protect themselves!
68 Seeing Minakshi Rai’s beautiful eyes, the restless minnows swimming in the Yamuna feel shy and defeated. Thus struck with wonder, they lose their course and bump into Radha’s submerged bodily limbs! Then Radha embraces Krishna in a fight—but he takes the hug as a friendly gesture.
69 It’s amazing that as the Vraja sundaris frolic with each other by splashing, throwing lotus flowers or thrashing each other with lotus-stems—no one loses! Yet Krishna loses his patience while watching them!
Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Krishna’s meditation is fixed on the gopis’ aṅga madhuri. As they raise their golden lotus-stem-arms, reveal their breasts, show exotic expressions or exhibit delightful bodily gestures—he stands agape!
70 Then forming a circle with two three, five, six seven or eight gopis, Krishna introduces the game called jala-maṇḍuka vādya.
Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Rasamaya Shyamasundar gathers the gopis in different groups to stand with them in waist-deep water. Then while slapping his hand across the water he produces all sorts of amazing sounds. This is one of the 64 arts in which the gopis excel, too.
71 While drenched in the ghana rasa (the water or śṛṅgāra-rasa) the gopis’ kunkum washes from their bosoms, the kajjal washes from their eyes, their hair comes undone, their nīvi-bandhanas breaks and their pearl necklaces fall apart!
Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Due to the jala keli’s tussle, and the intoxication effects of the ghana rasa (Cupid’s shriṅgar rasa) the gopa sundaris attain mukti. In other words all of their clothes, ornaments, garlands, and make up wash away.
72 Viewing the gopis’ unadorned beauty delights Krishna’s eyes—so he hankers to enjoy them. Although the chandan from the Vraja tarunis’ bodies washes into the Yamuna, making her appear white like the Ganga, still, because Krishna’s jala keli with the gopis takes place in the Yamuna, her fortune defeats the Ganga’s. Thus enjoying jala vihara, Krishna steps onto the Yamuna’s shore with his kantas.* The manjaris dry their hair and bodies with soft towels; then they dress everyone in new clothes.
Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: The parama preshtha sakhis are attired as follows: Lalita wears an outfit with a peacock feather-print, Vishakha’s is star-clustered, Chitra’s is crystal, Champakalata’s is effulgent blue, Rangadevi and Sudevi’s are deep red like a jabaa flower, Indulekha’s is pomegranate-red and Tungavidya’s is pale yellow. Radha and Krishna wear their nīlāmbara and pītāmbara.
In Caitanya-caritāmṛta Antya-līlā, chapter 18, Radha Krishna’s jala-keli is seen through Sriman Gaurasundar’s līlā sphūrti in mañjarī bhāva. Thus through his bhāvāveśa he teaches mañjarī upāsanā. Since this is a confidential mood of the Lord’s, only the rasika bhaktas can fathom it.
Caitanya-caritāmṛta’s narration runs as follows: On the full moon of the autumn Mahaprabhu was hearing the entire Raas Lila from Svarupa Damodar, and especially relished the verse describing the waters sports of Krishna and the gopis which follow the dance:
ghṛṣṭa-srajaḥ sa kuca-kuṅkuma-rañjitāyāḥ |
gandharva-pālibhir anudruta āviśad vāḥ
śrānto gajībhir ibha-rāḍ iva bhinna-setuḥ ||
Krishna’s garland, crushed from their limbs joined together with his, was colored with the reddish kumkum that covered their breasts. Followed by a chorus of bees who sang as though they were the best of the Gandharvas, he swiftly entered the water to dispel the maidens’ fatigue and to relax with them, like a roused elephant along with his female elephant companions, breaking down any boundaries in his way. (10.33.23)
Later that night, still absorbed in that pastime, Sriman Mahaprabhu jumped into the sea, mistaking it for the Yamuna. While the Lord floated unconsciously upon the ocean’s waves, a fisherman caught him in his net and brought him to the shore. Meanwhile, Svarupa Damodar and the other bhaktas were looking everywhere for the Lord, until at last the fisherman led them to the place where he was lying. When Gauranga returned to half-external consciousness he began relating the details of his sphūrti (vision) as follows:
“Today I went to Vrindavan and saw Vrajendra-kumara’s Yamuna-jala keli. Taking Radhika and the other gopis, Krishna sported in great amusement. I stood on the shore and watched as a manjari described everything to me.
“She said: Look! After removing their clothes and ornaments, the sakhis leave them with the manjaris, and put on their white snāna-vastra, clothes for bathing. But as everyone enters the water, Krishna directs his gopī-kāntās in a circle.
“Sakhi hey! Just see Krishna’s jala-keli raṅga! Krishna’s arms, which resemble restless trunks of drunken elephants, splash the Vraja padminis, who resemble female elephants. Aho! Everyone is splashing water in a great tumult! So as the competition goes on, it’s hard to tell who’s winning.
“The lightning-complexioned gopis are profusely showering Nava-ghana Shyama, who resembles a dark raincloud. But he’s reciprocating, and the gopis chataka bird-eyes are joyfully drinking the splendid darshan.
“Look! Although the battle first began with Krishna and the gopis’ splashing water—now they have progressed into fighting hand-to-hand, face-to-face, chest-to-chest, tooth-to-tooth and finally nail-to-nail!
“With thousands of hands the gopis splash Krishna with thousands of eyes they view him and with thousands of feet they go to him! Then as their thousands of bodies unite with his, they kiss him with thousands of mouths and listen to his sweet talks with thousands of ears!
“But look! Krishna is taking Radha into the deep water and then releases her, so she embraces Shyama around the neck and bobs over the water like a padma floating beside an elephant’s tusk. Aho! Krishna is expanding into many murtis…….and he’s snatching all of the gopa kishoris’ garments; Krishna must be enjoying the darshan of their shiny bodily limbs in the Yamuna’s clear water.
“But look! The lotuses are befriending the Vraja padminis—they’re offering their leaves to protect them. But some Vraja tarunis open their hair and use their hands to cover their private parts.
“Just see! Krishna is picking a quarrel with Radha! Yet meanwhile, the sakhis go to hide in a goldren lotus patch, and their faces look just like golden lotuses also, so Krishna enjoys vilāsa with Radha, and afterwards, he begins searching for the others. Then Caturini Rai also goes to hide.
“Oh look! As countless blue lotus flowers glide over the water—they’re attacking the golden lotuses! (The manjaris relish this scene from the shore.)
“Aho! As many pairs of chakravakas rise from the water—many pairs of blue lotuses try to cover them! So many pairs of red lotuses now strive to chase the blue lotuses away!
“Aha! The battle now ensues over the chakravakas! But it’s surprising—although chakravakas are conscious and lotuses are unconscious—still the blue lotuses cover the chakravakas! So in Krishna’s world the nature of these two objects becomes reversed. Yet moreover, although the lotuses and the chakravakas—are friends—in madhura Vrindavan the lotuses attack the chakravakas—indeed, this is amazing!”
Sriman Mahaprabhu concludes his testimony by saying: “Thus seeing Krishna’s lila—my mind, eyes and ears became satiated!”