Theme: Love

The Vaishnava Songs

Are they only for the gods?
Your songs on the beginnings of love,
Their progress through courtship, quarrels,
Secret rendezvous, love's full play,
In separation and reunion
Played in Brindavan?

Such a dream of love's consummation
In a rainy night, on Kalindi's banks
Under the kadamba tree
Two pairs of bashful eyes
Looking at each other
With a steady glance '
All these are for gods alone
And not for those mortals
To quench their thirst for love
Felt for their beloved ones?

When you sing
There are the devotees and the deity alone;
Outside, if we, mortal beings,
Hear some of its tunes in spring
And feel the ecstasy of love
Stirring our hearts
And it makes us look around
And find the world more beautiful
Filling with honey
The small stream that runs by our modest homes

And the kadamba bloom
That blooms in our courtyard in the rainy season '
And if your love song
Makes me look at my love by my side,
The earthly partner of my life,
Holding my hand with a heart full to the brim
Bearing her devotion in silence
Her devotion to me
If she finds in your songs
Words to express her love
And in her fulfillment she gleams '
My friend, will these cost you anything?

Tell me, my friend, the truth.
Where did you find these pictures of love?
Where have you learnt these songs
Full of passion?
Whose eyes
Reminded you of Radhika's eyes
Streaming with tears?
When it was spring
On a secluded bed at night
Whose arms bound you fast in an embrace
And kept you immersed in her heart
Overflowing with love?

From whose mouth have you stolen
Radhika's passionate words
From whose eyes have you taken
Radhika's anxious looks?
Now she doesn't have a right to your songs
Now you would deny her share of the words
Wrung from her lovelorn breast!

Flowers bloom in our gardens
Some of it we dedicate to the deity
Some we keep for our dear ones
And it displeases none.
And love's garland
Made out of the union of mortal couples
Are given by some to the gods
And by others to their loves.

What we give to the gods we give also to our loves
Making gods out of our loves
And loves out of our gods.
These vaishnava songs of divine love
Travel forever to a divine home
Midway, men and women, mad in their youths,
And so fickle,
Rush in a crowd
To pick up this nectar as much as they can
For their beloved ones.
They are brigands of beauty
And they want to take all.

There flows before their eyes
So much of music, so much dance,
Overflowing with passion and so sweet,
They can hardly resist.
They plunge into this flow of nectar
To fill up their pitchers
And take it home.
You learned and saintly
Why should you resent?
Why should you blame?
For the one for whom this honey is meant
Is so indulgent and pleased
To see this loot.

Translation of the poem Vaishnavkabita from the collection Sonar Tari by Rabindranath Tagore. The original poem in Bengali script may be viewed at


More By  :  Kumud Biswas

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