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Songs of Radha by Sarojini Naidu

Songs of Radha puts it, how the states of the heart pulsating with, how the manna, inner mind, mood and heart of Radha at variance with from time to time; how the heartbeat, the heartthrob of a beloved waiting for a lover which but happens it in love? How lovely, divine and mundane is this feeling of love! How this drama of love? How this burning in love! What in it being divine? What in it being devotional? And what is it romantic? Can amorous love be only spiritual? We do not know. Love is a meeting of two hearts and souls turning one. Love is the name of some pain. The agonies of distraught lovers, how to describe it? Love is also the name of joy, but how many of us are joyful? It is also the name of pain. Many bhaktas feel it spiritual pain. Many are but the devotees.

How many of us are the adorers of nishkam manna, desireless inner mind and heart? It is also the name of giving and taking of hearts. How does it sound when one proposes romantically, I love you, I love you? What it in the feeling of surrender to God, the Maker of it all? The pulse of love none but a lover can feel it, what it is love and what it happens in love. What does it pass over the heart of the lovers which none but a lover can say it. The lila of love and we are but a part of it.

Though we call it classical love poetry, but can the classical be so in the absence of the pastoral and the folk element? The answer is assertively, ‘no’. When the hearts are in love, they feel it not how the nights pass it away, time glides and slides away stealthily. How to make it understand the ignorant manna in love and its affection for which the world has always acted as a villain! What to say about the flute of love?

At Dawn as a poem is about the love of Radha for Krishna, a form of Krishnite literature which has been engaging us since long as the saga of Krishnalila, Raaslila taking love to the pedestal of celestial love based on classicism and classical temperament. But love is a thing of the heart. How can it bound with the chains of restriction? The bird will not live in a cage. It will finally get liberated from as and when the chance comes for it to escape to. The elements of romance, love and affection are bound to be therein. Radha waits for just like a bride waits to go to, Radha waits for just as a young maiden thinks of her bridal departure or meeting. So is the case here as she keeps dreaming of her just as a bride in waiting for the groom to come and he is not a simple groom, the Divine Lover of the soul and heart. Here she dresses and un-dresses herself adding to dismay and frustration. Where is he her Ghanashyam, her King? This is the question. Where the King of her heart? The picture is just like the shy and coy mistress of Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress.

Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust;
The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.
– Andrew Marvell in To His Coy Mistress

At Dawn

All night my heart its lonely vigil kept
Listening for thee, O Love. All night I wept.
Where went thy wanton footsteps wandering,
Sweet Ghanashyam, my King?
My bridal veils are flung upon the floor,
My bridal garlands drop across the door.
The buds that on my bed their fragrance spilt,
Grief-scattered, wane and wilt.
O Flute-player, how quickly dost thou tire
Of thine own gladness and thine own desire!
Couldst thou not find upon my sheltering breast
Thy rapture and thy rest?
Whose are the fingers that like amorous flocks
Raid the ambrosial thickets of thy locks?
Ah, whose the lips that smite with sudden drouth
The garden of thy mouth?
What shall it profit to revile or hate
Thy fickleness, her beauty or my fate,
Or strive to tear with black and bitter art
Thine image from my heart?
Without thy loveliness my life is dead,
Love, like a lamp with golden oils unfed.
Come back, come back from thy wild wandering.
Sweet Ghanashyam, my King!

All night she keeps it waiting, all night stands she by the door waiting for the coming, arrival of her lover, Shyam, Ghanashyam, but he does not turn up, keeping her in utter doubt and suspense to where he is wandering and taking to his time all day long. The night has started in, but he has not come, this is a matter for to fear in. God knows where he has gone to. She cannot take where he has been, where he can be. All night she weeps and wails as for Krishna, Krishna-Kanhaiya. She keeps it thinking where he has gone away. Where can he be? Why has he not turned it up so far? The heart in love will definitely do it.

Her bridal veils lay it flung upon the floor. The garlands of flowers too matter it not. Everything seems to be dropping from the hands. The buds bedecking the bed too have split their fragrance. The buds and the flowers all seem to be drooping and welting as happiness not,   grief takes over. The floral beds too seem to be mourning for wearing a pensive mood and reflection. Grief pervades in the atmosphere. Here the beauty of dreams and dreaming can be marked in. How the imagery is! How ornate and ornamental indeed!

She waits for him so earnestly burning with the desire of waiting and meeting the lover. When will he come, the flute-player? When will she get her lover? When will she be able to see him, his face?

When will he come and comfort her, make her understand? She keeps waiting for earnestly with a yearning within.

The locks of his are beautiful enough just like the groves; the face so charming with the crown and the flute and these seem to be consoling the self, cooling the heart, taking to the thickets of the woods. How the lips with the flute! As a beloved waits for to see the face of her lover so is the case here. Radha is thirsty from her within to have a lustrous look of Krishna.

At Dawn as a poem is of Radha, searching with, where has he gone? She searches him all through the night opening the door of his manna repetitively and waiting for restlessly. How are the feelings which she has undergone? What has it gone over her heart there is none to feel it? A poem dealing with Krishnabhakti, Krishnaprem, it is about love for Krishna, the same Shyam-Ghanashyam.

What will it profit if we revile or hate we your fickleness? It is not going to make any difference to her beauty or even to my fate. Nothing can bring it out the reality. Just go we with the image of yours into our heart. There is definitely a divide in between the human and the divine and it cannot be bridged.

Without his loveliness, this life of hers is nothing. If he does not come, what will it happen? How will she live? How will she spend her time? Where does she lie in wandering? Why does she like wandering so much? What is more important is God’s loveliness and that too is not, then how to live a life? How to pass the days? Love is a lamp lying unfed with the golden oils. It has but to burn, burn and light. Radha asks him to come back, come back from his wild wandering into the tracts and domains unknown. Sweet Ghanashyam, where are you? Why do you not? Where do you lie in?


In the poem At Dawn one can hear the music of Shyam, Ghanashyam; one can Shyama Sangeet, why is Govinda blue-complexioned, why Shiva blue-necked and Vishnu so. Actually, the words, Shyam, Ghanashyam lift us to the imagery of the blue, blue mountains and the clouds hanging by during the days of Shravana or a heart laden with grief and pensive reflection. These also create a melody of waiting, burning, burning with the desire of yearning. When the heart is heavy, one feels it so.

At Dusk as a poem is one of joy and happiness which but one feels when one’s period of waiting comes to an end and the transition in mood and spirit takes to another dimension of viewing with the scene of the time shifting so is the thing herein, Radha is happy with the coming of her Krishna Murari. Now it is time to dress and put on beautiful attire and jewelry. Now it is time to be ready. So, she is calling her companions to assist her in the make-up, the dress-up to be made and done. The lover has come and she will go away with. The things of a womanly heart have been painted nicely. The heart of a woman is almost the same. So golden is his face and appearance. So radiant is the image and picture. Whoever sees it, will like the charming and pleasant face no doubt. Who will not like to look such a divine face?

At Dusk

Krishna Murari, my radiant lover
Cometh O comrades haste.
Bring me rich perfumes my limbs to cover.
Saffron and sandal paste.
Bring shining garments for my adorning,
Blue of the dusk and rose of the morning.
Gold of the flaming noon.
Bring me a breastband of gems that shimmer,
Making the lamps of the stars grow dimmer,
Fillets and fringes of pearls whose glimmer
Shameth the Shravan moon.
Krishna Murari, my radiant lover
Cometh, O sisters spread
Buds and ripe blossoms his couch to cover,
Silver and vermeil red.
With flowering branches the doorways darken,
Is that his flute call? Sisters hearken!
Why tarrieth he so long?
O like a leaf doth my shy heart shiver,
O Like a wave do my faint limbs quiver.
Softly, softly, Jamuna river,
Sing thou our bridal  song.

At Dusk when contrasted with At Dawn is a poem of Krishna Murari rather than Shyam, Ghanashyam and here after the waiting, there is the news of the coming of Krishna, Radha getting ready for just as a bride for the groom to come, Muraliwalle, Krishna Kanhaiya. One who is Krishna is Murari and Mohana. And if the manna is in Krishnabahkti, it will not dwell it anywhere. Here Radha acts like a dreamer in the theatre of spiritual love. When we read the picture, the picture and image of an Indian bride hangs before the eyes.

At Dusk is actually a shringaric song, a song of bridal dress-up and make-up as for the meeting with the lover whose arrival is expected and awaited so much so earnestly. Radha lies it happy as for the message, the news of his coming.

Krishna Murari is coming, the flute-player is coming is the theme of the poem and Radha keeps herself busy with decorating or dreaming of the arrival of her lover. She asks her comrades to dress her, to beautify her so that she may look like a bride. Radha asks the companions to sing the bridal song. She thinks of her meeting with the lover with so much glee and joviality.

She asks her companions to bring the perfume to smear her costumes with so that they appear scented. With saffron and sandal paste she will be decorated. The sandal paste designs and decorations will add to her beauty. Colourful, shiny, glowing and silken clothes she will wear with the assistance of the friends. Blue, golden and rose-coloured will match the auspicious moments. A breast band of gems will hang over the breast glimmering and lighting beautifully.

Here the picture of a bride, an Indian bride comes before the eyes, but God knows how the paths of life! Whatever be that, Radha is being readied with utmost beauty care and caress. Beauty touches, marks and decorations add to. Her companions are helping her in getting look like a dream girl, a beloved with an imaginative look which but every girl cherishes it during the wedding time. This is the time to mark gaiety and glee.

But what seconds, punctuates the make-up, dress-up most is the coming footsteps, the thud of the footfall telling of doubtfully he may be coming, may be coming. How will be the groom? How is the party as we often talk of Shiva’s party during Shivaratri? That question of Parvati’s mother is not here in it. There is something of Gandharva wedding in it. This is also a matter of reckoning. What more to say about bridal things, wedding matters, nuptial bonds, matrimonial relationships?

But God has some purpose to fulfill which Radha must understand it and if this be not, he will go away to finally gifting the flute to her to pipe by the banks of the Yamuna whenever pensive or full of memoirs for which the Lord too may have felt pity for. The tears of love, how to express it into words? The heart which loves can only say it.

The love of a milkmaid for the cowherd boy, Sri Krishna is a matter of the bhakti samudra which cannot be fathomed at one go. God is but Pyaar Ka Sagar, the Ocean of love. The song of his murali just keep you listening. Krishna with the flute casts a magic spell over us and we seem to be tuned to his melodies.

The Quest

My foolish love went seeking thee at dawn,
Crying — O wind where is Kanhaya gone?
I questioned at noonrise the forest glade,
Rests my sweet lover in thy friendly shade?
At dusk I pleaded with the dovegray tides,
O tell me where my Flute-player abides?
Dumb were the waters, dumb the woods, the wind,
They knew not where my playfellow to find.
I bowed my weeping face upon my palm,
Moaning — O where art thou, my Ghanashyam?
Then, like a boat that rocks from keel to rafter,
My heart was shaken by thy hidden laughter.
Then didst thou mock me with thy tender malice,
Like nectar bubbling from my own heart’s chalice.
Thou saidst, — O faithless one, self-slain with doubt,
Why seekest thou my loveliness without,
And askest wind or wave or flowering dell
The secret that within thyself doth dwell?
I am of thee, as thou of me, a part.
Look for me in the mirror of thy heart.

The Quest as a poem is all about the romantic quest of a heart in love, about the spiritual quest of a lover in love and the quest is not only mythical, but symbolical too at the same time. We think within, whose quest is it? What is it love? How the feelings of it? Is it of Radha or a lover? Is Radha classical or pastoral? Is it romantic or spiritual, pastoral or classical? The thought and idea may be classical, but the theme is definitely pastoral and the feelings and emotions felt have been put to certain nomenclature and protocol. It is but restraint, sobriety and stoicism which but imparts a classical standpoint otherwise the emotions and feelings are almost the same. It is really foolish to be a lover and so is never understandable manna, the heart and mind of man. We do not know how do we love? What is this loving? Is Radha a living soul? Or, an imaginary one? What sort of love is it of Radha for Krishna?

Are the lovers fools? Why does the heart understand it not? How to say what it is love? How to describe the feelings of the heart? How to burn the lust? But can it be burnt? In classical love poetry, the heart matters it more. Here the lovers burn into the lamp of light. But in romantic love poetry, feelings and emotions are exchanged freely.

The Quest as a poem is a poem of Radha; Radha’s quest for Krishna, where the cowherd boy, the Blue Boy of Vrindavan fluting the flute, where is Krishna gone, Krishna-Kanhaiya, it is but the heart takes to it not, understands it not, what it to say about foolish love and foolish heart. Love-mad Radha and that too in the love of Krishna, what it to say to here, what it to make her understand as the manna understands it not. Radha lost in Krishna’s love is the main thing of the story.

Her foolish heart goes seeking for, searching the whereabouts, crying and weeping, sobbing and weeping, yearning for and hoping against hope, where has Krishna gone, Krishna-Kanhaiya and she keeps asking the wind swaying, passing by if it has her Krishna-Kanhaiya. She is at a loss as for where Krishna has gone.

She questions at moonrise the forest glade where lies he resting in the friendly shade of it, where the sweet lover of hers. Here the imagery is one of the forest tract, the arbor, the grove, the bower and the time that of the moonrise. Now the question is, how does the forest appear to be under the moonlit nights? How does it under the stars twinkling up above? How does it appear to be the moon rising?

At dusk she pleads with the tides asking to tell about the Flute-player, where he dwells. It is getting dark. Why has he not come? The heart thinks it in many ways. Where is he taking time? Where is he wandering? Where has he gone?

All are silent about. None is in the know of, all the animate and inanimate objects of the world, unable to say it, where Krishna has gone. Where the playmate of hers is? Where is he playing his play? Where is he doing his lila wrapped in Maya? The woods, the waters of the river and the winds, all are answerless with regard to his location.

She keeps weeping, placing the head upon her palm, shedding tears, looking it all tearfully with the red eyes, but nobody comes to feel her sadness, the sadness of love, what pains does it love give to. How lonely is a girl? You can feel it here. How lonely a woman in her life? The agonies of the heart seek it consolation, but who is there to console the aggrieved soul, the aggrieved heart?

On finding him not, when she goes to the tract and asks the woods, the trees, rocks and the waters about Krishna and his whereabouts, they say it not maintaining a strict silence. Her heart gets a jerk and jolt just like a boat beginning to start seconded by a laughter mocking her. How foolish is she that she is searching him all around! Does it behove her to be madly after! He is in the bhakti of the heart, in the devotion of the heart. He is within her and if she searches him, she will come to feel it. He may think what she is doing it about, how the state of her foolishness. Why does she think in such a way? Why does she continue to the leaf, the wind and the wave about his whereabouts? Does she not believe him? Can she not believe? It is not good to look everything with doubt and suspense which is but self-annihilating.

But the inward voice leads it to that he dwells within her heart and she must search for in her heart rather than searching elsewhere. To love him is to love spiritually. To love is to love from heart. It is better to look for the Love Divine in the mirror of one’s heart and here lies it the philosophy of love.

Songs of Radha as a poem is a series of reflections, a set of three poems enjoined together to celebrate Krishnite love which Radha feels it for Krishna. As the tunes change it so the notes and melodies with the dawn break and the twilight as do change human feelings and emotions. Love for Krishna forms a prominent aspect of all the three poems under our perusal and discussion, be it At Dawn, At Dusk or The Quest. But it is not only the fault of Radha, but of Krishna too who has won her heart in such way and has dislodged her at the end of the play. In Sagun Brahma there lies it the picture of the Nirguna Brahma too. But we doubt, can one love God in such a way? Can God be a lover? What is the matter? I do not know it.

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
– John Milton in When I consider how my light is spent


More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey

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