I carried my curds to the Mathura fair …
How softly the heifers were lowing …
I wanted to cry, “Who will buy
These curds that are white as the clouds in the sky
When the breezes of shrawan are blowing?”
But my heart was so full of your beauty, Beloved,
They laughed as I cried without knowing:
How softly the river was flowing!
I carried my pots to the Mathura tide …
How gaily the rowers were rowing! …
My comrades called, “Ho! let us dance, let us sing
And wear saffron garments to welcome the spring.
And pluck the new buds that are blowing.”
But my heart was so full of your music, Beloved,
They mocked when I cried without knowing:
How gaily the river was flowing!
I carried my gifts to the Mathura shrine …
How brightly the torches were glowing! …
I folded my hands at the altars to pray
“O shining ones guard us by night and by day”—
And loudly the conch shells were blowing.
But my heart was so lost in your worship, Beloved,
They were wroth when I cried without knowing:
How brightly the river was flowing!
Rasalila, Krishnalila, how to take to Krishnabhakti, Premlila, the Lila Divine, the Love Divine in which Krishna the Lover and none the else but Radha the Beloved, the Consort of Krishna, You are my Love, Krishna, You are my Heart and Soul, how to live, live a life without You? This but happens, happens in love, be it pastoral, romantic or classical. But here the lore of Krishna, the love lore, the ancient lore coming down to us in the form of Rasalila, Krishnalila and the Krishnabhaktas lost in, submerged in, drenched with premrasa, bhakti-bhavana! Shringar, prem, is the thing. How to adorn, how to bedeck with beauty? How to make it attractive and lovely? How to hear the story from singers, dancers, poets, bhaktas and the terracotta-plate makers? How their versions and tales? Krishna is in heart, Krishna is in soul. Where do you search Him? But we do not know if Krishna’s love was amorous or not, bodily or spiritual. Can love be purely spiritual? Is it not the myth of love? Who loves the soul, the heart? Makhanchor, Nandakishore? Who is He who steals the hearts from? Who wins over the manna? The thread of love binds entangles it all. The colour of love is fast, fades it not. Love comes from within. Is it bodily or divine?, is the question. But chaste love is rare, rarer. The flute sounding, sounding it, so melodiously and sonorously sounding, resounding it and the gopis giving an ear to the music coming from. This is but idyllic. Here we confuse it really in defining what it is love. How the tune of the murali? Who the flutist? How the tunes of it, the melodies breaking? And who the listeners? The prempujaris, prempujarans? The worshippers of love? Who the adorers of it, how they in reality?
Now we need to locate it Mathura, the river, the villages and the mart of the then times? How were those places? How the ways leading to? And the gopi under perusal is she Sarojini or not? The sakhis of Krishna, the female friends-cum-cohorts? Whatever be that, leaving Vrindavana, Mathura, Govardhana, Gokul, let us see how Sarojini takes up the scene. How Krishna-bhakti germinate in? How does Krishna-prem draw her close to?
The poem is about Radha, how she started for Mathura as for selling curds in the fair, but the colts and heifers did not leave her behind. They started calling, calling her, lowing from behind which but somehow averted it. Instead of she went on cherishing her dreams of making a sale. She cried too as for selling curds, but the heart laid it not in selling curds but in observing the white clouds of Shravana matching the curds and in Govinda. The river was flowing softly.
Again the imagery of the spring full of buds and the fragrant winds blowing and she with the companions wearing the saffron garments going to at the call of took over the self. Even though she carried her pots to facing the Mathura tide marking, how gaily the rowers were rowing! When marking the river in tide, the comrades proposed to make merry rather than. But nothing could hold her love. At her every exclamation it was but Govinda doing the rounds. They mocked her when she cried Govinda, Govinda, Govinda without knowing the meaning of the word. But the heart was tuned to Krishna music which she was till then hearing it. The imagery is here one of the pastoral background the village maids going to the river as for filling with water which but gets pictured it before. The heart lost it to the Divine Musician as the music kept it taking the mind away from.
She carried her gifts all along up with her to the shrine to offer it to the Lord, the Lord of life, the Lord of love! What else can be better than worship as the oblation of the heart tendered to? How beautifully the torches were glowing! She folded her hands before the altars to say her oblations. She prayed to guard them by day and night and sought for blessings in that state of blessedness, oblation and devotion. In that state of obeisance and prayer she heard the conch shells blowing. Here one can feel the fragrance of the Divine Incense Sticks, the pearly drops dropping from the Overhead Lotus of the temple. The charm of Krishna music and magic, how to say it? With the hands folded over and in a worshipful prayer so full of reverence and piety, she stood before the Temple of Love.
Song of Radha, the Milkmaid is a song of Radha. It tells of what it is taking place on the heart of Radha. Though she is en route to Mathura, but instead of it the heart is not in selling curds she is carrying with. Even though she wants to sell it, words come it not out of her mouth. Rather than calling curds, she spelt it out, Govinda, Govinda, Govinda and if this be the state of the poetic persona, what will she do? A lover’s heart only a lover can understand it. Such a thing it is there in a different way in Wordsworth’s Strange Fits of Passion.
Strange fits of passion have I known:
And I will dare to tell,
But in the lover's ear alone,
What once to me befell.
When she I loved looked every day
Fresh as a rose in June,
I to her cottage bent my way,
Beneath an evening-moon.
Upon the moon I fixed my eye,
All over the wide lea;
With quickening pace my horse drew nigh
Those paths so dear to me.
– William Wordsworth in Strange Fits of Passion Have I Known
She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove;
A maid whom there were none to praise,
And very few to love.
A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye!
—Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.
She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and O!
The difference to me!
– William Wordsworth in The Lost Love
Here the Krishnite love under our perusal is but love mixed with devotion. Love’s talks only a lover can do it. Love’s matter only a lover can whisper it into the ears of. Love is but a secret matter; an internal matter. What it happens within, takes it place internally none can say it. Only a lover can feel it. In James Joyce’s Araby story, such a scene can be marked in the author’s reaching of the oriental fair late night and against the backdrop of it, the bazaars lying shut out, he sees two drunk people, perhaps one young man and one woman whispering in the dark lanes which but suggests him to return from without purchasing the gift for his friend’s sister.
We do not know if it is a dream sequence or a poem. The milkmaid lost in Krishna-prem, Krishna-bhakti is not a common lover, but a Krishnite devotee lost in Krishna consciousness, Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, Krishna Krishna, Rama Rama. Who’s whose, how to say it? Where Radha? Where Krishna? Where that landscape and scenery and painting?
Krishna-mad Radha, what to say about? Where Krishna fluting, under which tree and where Radha standing, hearing the tunes from, giving an ear to and running towards? How to say it about love, love mundane and love spiritual? Who loves with what feeling, how to say it? Who loves whom? Who is whose lover, how to say it? Love, what do you mean by it? Love, what do I mean by it? I do not know it if my love is pure and chaste from my within or not. Similarly you too cannot say it how your love is. Enter the manna mandir and say you after coming out from? How was your worship full of shraddha? How the flowers of reverence? How it the lamp of the immortal love burning? If you yourself are pure only then you too can talk of immortal love. But here stand we in the mire of worldliness. How to love Krishna by heart? How do you expect our love to be pure? Burn your earthly yearning, aspiration, lust and desire with the oil of Krishnaprem to be lit with the wick of Krishnabhakti to be purged out by the light emanating.
The myth of Krishnite love, how to bust it? Is it physical or spiritual, how to say it? Can love be chaste and pure? At that time will it not turn into shraddha, reverence, a hand full with the flowers of reverence, worship with punit, pavitra (sacred, sacrosanct) manna in a punit hridaya (heart)? Where the temple of love? Where that immortal love? Where those immortal lovers? If it be not, the hridaya not so pure and chaste, where the pairs looking each other in joy and sorrow as life-long partners? Where even the plain worshippers too? Where the plain guileless adorers too now-a-days?
When we read the poem, Song of Radha, the Milkmaid, the pictures of Rasalila, Krishnalila conjure upon the mind’s plane, the medieval paintings and frescoes reflecting Radha and Krishna on the swing under the kadamba tree or in beautiful attires and colours differently-posed, the artisans making the golden statues cast in gold, some blackly and some other metallic, the folk singers taking us by strike with Krishnadhuna and folktales, the terracotta-plate makers presenting it lively through baked clay work. The poem is a visit to the Radha-Krishna temple and a viewing of the coloured, painted statue so lovely stands it therein. To see the statue is to feel, what it is love, what it devotion! How the feelings of love! It is actually not a poem, but a song of Radha, Radha and Krishna, Krishna and Radha; a poem of Krishnaprem, Krishnabhakti.
Where the Blue Boy of Vrindavan fluting? Where Radha listening to? How the tune, the Golden Tune? How the Reed, the Golden Reed and the notes of it breaking? How the lagan, the fever and frenzy, craze and whim? How the dhuna of music, the rhythm and beat of music? Krishnabeat, Krishnadhun, Krishna rhythm? Somewhere Krishna painted blackly or bluish. O, how to say about the images and paintings that the painters make? How to about the beats the musicians and singers beat they? How the wordings of the songs that the songwriters write it? How to about the lovers in couples and pairs as the swans do they in Yeats’ The Wild Swans At Coole and The Lake Isle of innisfree?
I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.
Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.
– W.B.Yeats in The Wild Swans At Coole
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
–W.B.Yeats in The Lake Isle of Innisfree
How do the theatre men enact they Krishnalila, Rasalila? How do they the opera men? A love song and dance drama? The gypsies in the roadside tents lying nearer to the adjoining parts of the towns how do they make the excellent idols of Radha and Krishna made from clay and painted beautifully as beautiful artworks to be kept in galleries or showcases? Radha’s love for Krishna, Krishna’s for Radha, how to depict it? An art model, how to keep it, a love song, how to sing it, a dramatic posture, how to enact it, a painting, how to sketch and draw it? Krishna in our consciousness, how to be infuse with? There is something of Mirabai, something of Surdas in Sarojini’s Song of Radha, the Milkmaid.
With this the lore of Kirshna exhausts it not as many had nothing to do with name and fame and they wrote it not the emotions and feelings of their heart as is the case with the Naga sadhus of India. What more do we know about them? What it going in the hearts of the Krishna idol-makers, what it in the embroiderers? How the singers scripting the songs of Krishna? How the dancers posing as to perform?
Who to say why is Krishna a little bit dark-complexioned and Radha fair? Even Yasoda fails to give satisfactory answers. But Krishna keeps asking her.
Where Krishna the Divine Musician and Magician playing the music and it taking us away from here, transporting us into a world of perennial delight? The song of Radha, how to script it?
Copy of Illustration by Raja Ravi Varma