The Great Vraja Bhasha poet Shri Rasakhanji, disciple of Shri Gusainji, has written a vast amount of ‘savaiyas' [4 line verses] as well as ‘kavitts' and ‘dohas' [poetical metres] about the Vraja pastimes of Shri Krishna and His entourage. His life story can be found in the 252 Vaishnava Varta. Here is presented a few of his ‘savaiyas', plus some selected dohas.
The bliss of the subject matter is doubled by the sheer poetical skills of Shri Rasakhanji. For this reason we have given the original text and the transliteration, so that even non-readers of Devnagari may enjoy the inspirational sounds of this wonderful language of Vraja, which, lest we forget, is spoken by the Vraja Beloveds Themselves.
Shri Rasakhanji does not only write about Shri Krishna's appearance and pastimes. He explores the mood, the situation and the reactions of the devotees to His actions. He enters deep into the mellows of Vraja – the sweet love between the Gopis and their Beloved. Observing minute details and revealing their heart's emotions. He reveals their attitudes, their pain, their rebellion. He extols the single mindedness of their devotion through which we receive valuable teachings. This is all done with exquisite and exclusively skillful use of rhyme and semantics. Each savaiya, kavitt or doha creates a world of its own and is a joy to recite. This small collection will give the text, transliteration and English translation with some notes. It is a drop in the ocean that is the literature of Shri Rasakhanji. As his very name suggests this poets work is a veritable treasury of loving mood.
(From the introduction to The Great Raskhanji's poetry E.d. Krishnaa Kinkari)
Now enjoy some examples of these wonderful poems:
gvālana sanga jaibo bana ebo su gāyana sanga
heri tāna gaibo hā hā naina kahakata haiṅ
hyāṅ ke gaja motī māla vārauṅ guṅja mālana para
kuñja sudhi āē hāya prāṇa dharakata haiṅ |
gobara ko gārau su to mohi lāgai pyārau kahā
bhayo mauna sone ke jaṭita marakata haiṅ
mandira te ūṅce yaha mandira hai dvārikāke
braja ke khiraka mere hiya kharakata haiṅ ||
O, how My eyes are filled
with memories of going to the forest with My friends,
and then returning with the cows
and playing a melody on the flute.
I would abandon a necklace full of large pearls
artwork on a cowdung storage structure
for a string of Gunja beads from the Vrindavan forest.
When I remember those forest bowers,
My being trembles.
A ball of Vrindavan cow dung
is more dear to Me
than an emerald set in gold.
I may have a tall temple in Dwarka,
but it is the cowpens of Braja
that make My heart throb.
Shri Radhikaju's beauty
śrī mukha yauṁ na bakhāna sake
vṛṣabhānusutā ju ko rūpa ujāro
he rasakhana tū gyāna saṁbhāra
tarainī nihāra ju rījhana hārauṁ |
cāru sindüra ko lāla rasāla
lase vrajabāla ko bhāla ṭikāro
goda meṅ māno virājata haiṅ
ghanashyāma ke sāre ko sāro ko sāro.||
It is no ordinary task to try to describe the beauty of Shri Radhikaju, daughter of Shri Vrishabhanu, for it is most effulgent. Rasakhan says, "Hey, take care summon all your knowledge and if you want to find a comparison to that beauty look at the planets and the stars for they are also incomparably effulgent. On Her pretty and youthful forehead is a lovely red mark of vermilion powder. When She sits upon the lap of that Shri Krishna Who is dark as a rain-filled cloud, know Her to be the essence of the essence of His essence.
The Buttermilk poems
Shri Rasakhan ji has written five savaiyas which are very well known and which show how the gopis are the supreme gurus of the Path of Love. They are here named The Buttermilk poems" because they have a uniform last line but "The Gopis can make him dance for a sip of buttermilk from the palm of their hand". The unfathomable great lord of the universe can be made to dance like a puppet by those Vraja maidens whose love for and surrender to Shri Krishna is incomparable for they have given up everything else. This is the kind of simple and sweet love that we must have for the Beloved.
sesa mahesa ganesa dinesa
suresahu jāhī nirantara gaveṁ
jāhī anādī ananta akhanda
acheda abheda suveda batāveṁ |
nārada su suka vyāsa raṭe
pāce hāre toū puni pāra na pāveṁ
tāhi ahīra kī chohariyāṁ
chachiyā bhari chācha pai nāca nacāveṁ ||1||
Shesha, Mahesha, Ganesha, Dinesha and Suresha all endlessly sing his praises. They call Him beginingless, endless, without division, indistructible and impenetrable. Narada, Shukdev and Vyasadev all chant His glories but never manage to truly understand Him. But the Gopis can make Him dance for a sip of buttermilk from the palm of Their hand. (1)
gāvaiṁ gunī ganikā gandhaṙba
aura sārada seṣa sabai guna g¯ǖata
nāma anaṁta ganaṁta ganesa
jyauṁ brahma trilocana pāra na pāvata |
jogī jaṭī tapasī aru siddha
nirantara jāhi samādhi lagāvata
tāhī ahīra kī chohariyāṁ
chachiyā bhara chācha pai nāca nacāvata ||2||
The Gunis, Apsaras and the Gandharvas [heavenly personalities who always praise the Lord through music and dance] together with Sarasvati the goddess of speech and Shesha the 1000 headed serpent all sing of Him. Even Ganesha and the 3 eyed Brahma praise Him but never attain Him. Yogis austere hermits and perfected beings meditate on Him constantly. But the Gopis can make him dance for a sip of buttermilk from the palm of their hand. (2)
saṅkara se sura jāhi bhajeṁ
caturānana dhyāna meṁ dhaṙma baḍhāvaiṁ
neka hiye meṁ jo āvata hī
jaḍa mūḍha mahā rasakhāna kahāvaiṁ
jā para sundara deve vadhū
nahhi vārata prānana prānana pāvaiṁ
tāhi ahīra kī chohariyāṁ
chachiyā bhari chācha pai nāca nacāvata ||3||
Lord Shiva and other gods chant His name. Lord Brahma with four faces meditates on Him to increase His power. By meditating upon Him in the heart even the biggest fool becomes a storehouse of knowledge. Demigods, Kinnaris and ladies on earth all surrender their very life breath to Him in order to live. But the Gopis can make Him dance for a sip of buttermilk from the palm of Their hand. (3)
lāya samādhi rahe brahmādika
yogī bhaye para aṅta na pāvaiṁ
sāṅjha te bhorahi bhora te sāṅjhahi
sesa sadā nita nāma japāvaiṁ |
ḍhūṅḍha phire tiraloka meṅ sākha
sunārada lai kara bīna bajāvaiṁ
tāhi ahīra kī chohariyāṁ
chachiyā bhari chācha pai nāca nacāvaiṁ ||4||
Bramha and other gods absorb themselves into deep meditation upon Him. They become perfected yogis but still never reach the goal of their contemplation. Shesha the 100 mouthed serpent chants His name from morning to night and from night to morning. Narada runs round and round the three world playing his vina is search of Him. But the Gopis can make Him dance for a sip of buttermilk from the palm of Their hand. (4)
guḿja gare sira mora pakhā
aru cāla gayanda kī mo mana bhāvai
sāṅvaro nana kumāra sabai
vraja maṇdala meṁ vrajarāja kahāvaiṁ |
sāja samāja sabai siratāja
au lāja kī bāta nahīṅ kahī āvai
tāhi ahīra kī chohariyāṁ
chachiyā bhari chācha pai nāca nacāvaiṁ ||5||
He wears a gunja bead necklace and a peacock crown and His elephant-like gait captivates my mind This Dark Son of Nanda is known as the Prince throughout the Vraja land. He is the most beautiful crown jewel of all of Vraja and cannot be adequately described. Yet the Gopies can make Him dance for a sip of buttermilk from the palm of Their hand. (5)
(A savaiya) In this poem we learn how to concentrate on the Lord.
suniye saba kī kahiye na kachu
rahiye imi yā bhava bāgara meṁ
kariyai vrata neme sachāī liye
jinateṁ tariye mana sāḡara meṁ |
miliyai saba sauṁ durabhāva binā
rahiye satasañga ujāgara meṁ
rasakhāna gubindahī yauṁ bhajiye
jimi nāḡari ko citta gāḡara meṁ ||
Listen to everyone but don't say a word; in this way you will survive this world of birth and death; Sincerely and truthfully perform your vows and austerities; you will thus cross the ocean of the mental realm; Meet all with never a bad feeling towards them, but stay in the light of saintly company; Rasakhan says "worship Shri Krishna, the Protector of the cows in the same way that a village lady concentrates on the water pot balanced upon her head".