Getting dressed (Śṛṅgāra)
75 Escorted by Vrinda, Krishna and the gopis enter a golden mandir and in its eastern corridor, sit upon a golden vedi that is smothered in flower petals.
76 Then Vrinda collects the fruit from some amazing desire trees, which are caskets filled with clothes, ornaments, scents, kunkum and tilak that are meant for everyone’s śṛṅgāra.
77 Each basket is marked with the name of whom it is for. The manjaris take the baskets and using the materials in them began to dress Krishna and his gopa sundaris individually.
78 When the śṛṅgāra is complete, Krishna appears like an effulgent form of rasa, śṛṅgāra rasa personified), and Radha and her sakhis appear like the personifications of Rati (Cupid’s wife, the goddess of rati-krīḍā). Krishna thus resembles the moon, and Radha and her sakhis are like the moonrays, and just as the moon and its rays are one soul, yet with different bodies.
79 When in Krishna’s company, Radha and her sakhis anoint themselves with the shining oil of affection, their friendship resembles udvartana (scented powder), they bathe in the nectar of youth, and their effulgence is their dress of loveliness.
80 The sakhis’ great fortune is their tilak; their refined beauty is their perfume, and their aṣṭa-sāttvika-bhāvas are their bodily ornaments.
81 These ornaments include: kilakiñcita, vivvoka, unmāda, autsukya and all of the other anubhāvas.
82 Although Radha and sakhis are thus fully decorated with these inner ornaments, still the manjaris expertly dress them externally with clothes and jewels so that their beauty is doubled.
The midnight repast (niśā-bhojana)
83 After the śṛṅgāra, Rupa Manjari brings sweets such us anaṅga-guṭikā, sīdhu-vilāsa and laddus made from milk. Then Vrinda serves an array of juicy, sliced forest fruits that have their seeds and skins removed.
84 Thus Krishna enjoys bhojan with Radha and the sakhis. Then he washes his hands and mouth and goes to take rest in the keli mandir.
Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: To enhance our meditation, we should remember that Govinda Sthali is an island in the Yamuna, shaped like a tortoise shell. The yoga-pith mandir is in the center, surrounded by four kunjas :
- The madhu-pāna-līlā took place in Sitambuja Kunj (to the north).
- The śṛṅgāra after jala-keli just happened in Nilambuja Kunj (in the east).
- Bhojana-vilāsa is now unfolding in Arunambuja* Kunja (in the south).
- And coming next is the śayana-līlā when Radha Govinda and the sakhis take rest in Hemambuja Kunj (on the western side).
The sweets that Rupa Manjari serves were made by Radha during the Aparahna Lila.
In Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Sriman Gaurahari continues relating his vision of Radha Krishna’s niśā-līlā in mañjarī-bhāva: “…and speaking of the trees and latas of Vrindavan, they are amazing, for they yield flowers and fruits twelve months a year.
Vrinda and her vana devis (who are like kunja dasis) pick these fruits, nicely slice them and arrange them on large plates, and bring them to the jeweled mandir (in Arunambuja Kunj), placing them on the bhojana-vedi, the platform where everyone will sit for the meal.
After the edibles are arranged, the asanas are placed around for sitting. There are many types of coconuts, bananas and mangoes, as well as pineapples, dates, tangerines, oranges, blackberries, santaras, grapes, nuts and dried fruit, watermelons, palm fruits, water fruits, keshoras, lotus-stems, bel fruit, pilu and pomegranates. Yet there are thousands of varieties of other exotic fruits, too; it is impossible to mention them all.
The sweets include ganga-jala, amrita keli, piyusha granthi, karpura keli, sarapuri, padma-cini and thickened kshira which were all brought from Radhika’s home. Krishna is delighted seeing the wonderful arrangement Thus he enjoys a forest picnic (vana-bhojana) with Radha and the sakhis. Then he retires with Radha to the shayana mandir. (CC Antya 18)