Why didst thou play thy matchless flute
'Neath the Kadamba tree,
And wound my idly dreaming heart
With poignant melody,
So where thou goest I must go
My flute-player with thee?
Still must I like a homeless bird
Wander, forsaking all
The earthly loves and worldly lures
That held my life in thrall,
'And follow, follow, answering
Thy magical flute-call.
To Indra's golden-flowering groves
Where streams immortal flow,
Or to sad Yama's silent Courts
Engulfed in lampless woe,
Where'er thy subtle flute I hear
Belovèd I must go!
No peril of the deep or height
Shall daunt my wingèd foot;
No fear of time-unconquered space,
Or light untravelled route,
Impede my heart that pants to drain
The nectar of thy flute!
The Flute-Payer of Brindaban is one of those poems of Sarojini Naidu which remind us of the Krishnalila, Raaslila and Krishnadhuna together with folk songs, dances and lyrics as sung, staged and performed from time to time by the performers and artists. The love for Krishna, Rama, how can we forget it, the love for Rama and Krishna, Krishna and Rama, Hare Rama, Hare Krishna, Rama-Rama, Krishna-Krishna? Even on the terracotta plates the images of chariots driven by Krishna and the Krishnites lost in Krishnadhuna can be seen as figures and figurines and sculptures chiselled and carved out. To go through it is to be reminded of Rashkhan and Surdas and Mirabai and their bhakti-tradition, a link in that chain of tradition; of Chaitanya Mahaprabh, Jayadeva and so on. It is a poem of love, pure love, amorous and spiritual love. Krishnaprem and Krishnabhakti are the two sides of the same coin. Here the poem is both amorous and classical in spirit and temperament. When the poetess describes, the things relating to Brindavan, the banks of the Yamuna, the Govardhana hill and Gokul conjure up, the mind gets lifted to idyllic, pastoral scenery with the cowherdesses and milkmaids and Krishna playing the Divine Flute. Various episodes theatrical and folk dance upon the mind’s place be they mythological or religious in tone or tenor.
Where the Flute-player of Brindaban playing the flute, under which kadamba tree, Ghanashyam? Where the Flute-player? The Divine Flute-player playing the flute? Where He, Shyam? Under which kadamba grove? Where He, where the cowherds? Where the Blue Boy of Brindavan with His Murali, the Divine Flute and the Divine Melodies breaking? By which Yamuna bank?The gopis are feeling impassioned, restless to hear the song, the musical melody breaking and doing the rounds so musically, sonorously, melodiously touching the hearts. The song of love is as such, the music of love as such as leaves it not. The drama of love, pastoral love, spiritual love, classical love, how to say it about? The impact is as such, the effect falling upon, so deeper and profounder. In a very dramatic way she starts the poem as it is done in an opera. In a very lyrical, sing-song manner, she starts the poem as it is in a Krishnalila.
Why do you play wounding my heart is the point of deliberation and discussion for those mad in Krishnabhakti, madly in love with Krishna, the cowboy, the lover. The melody is as such poignant that it ruffles it all, that it maddens the listeners as such the impact of the song, the music flowing down to. Wherever he goes, there grows a desire within to go with him. The pines of love, yearning and aches of the heart, how to describe it, the sadness of love? What is love, love earthly and love extraterrestrial? The desire is that of a wandering bird, a wandering fellow to be with the lover forsaking all the earthly, mundane connections that bind the soul and the body. Such is the magic-call that the heart settles it not in worldliness, such is the Krishnadhuna. Mira too felt it with her rapt devotional fervour in which she gave it all to her desired deity, in the form of Krishna bearing the reprimands and rebukes of the kith and kin as for becoming a saint and abandoning the hearth and home. Such is the love of His, such is the devotion of.
Even in Indira’s flowering gardens where the streams keep flowing with murmurs and even in Yama’s courts where dhamma prevails in or is upheld, she will come drawn to hearing the golden music if it is played. The attraction of the golden flute is as such that she cannot avoid it. Even it is dark outside, she will go hearing the call. There is nothing to be afraid of anyone, shedding shame, name and fame she has given her heart to Krishna.
Without being bothered about time and space, the heart remains tuned to that melody which is divinely mellifluous and melodious. Whatever it catches the imagination, she will do; wherever the heart wants to, will go with Krishna. Whatever be the routes travelled or untravelled, she will take the course to in search of the Love Divine, the Love Idyllic and Classical. Love is in the heart. Where to be misled to be otherwise? Where to go leaving Krishna? The paths of love, pure love are not so easy to take to and those who love truly know it well the pains and pines of loving. What is it burning in love? How the flames of fire? How the candle melting? Such is love, as such devotion. Without loving God from the heart one may not find him; His Love. To be submerged in Krishnabhakti, Krishnaprem is the essence of life. But true love opens the shut gates of ignorance. Leave you the discussions of time and space if the heart is with Krishna.
The Flute-Player of Brindaban as a poem brings in the memories of Krishna with the flute sculptures and figurines made by the artisans and artists. Beautiful idols of different colours dance before the eyes and take the images away from here into a world of sweet imagery and vision. Krishna, where Krishna, playing the Flute?
Image credit: Credit: Krishna playing the flute to cowgirls. Chromolithograph, 1882. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)