purnah pulindya urugaya-padabja-raga
limpantya anana-kucesu jahus tad-adhim
The aborigine women of the Vrndavana area become disturbed by lust when they see the grass marked with reddish kunkuma powder. Endowed with the color of Krsna’s lotus feet, this powder originally decorated the breasts of His beloveds, and when the aborigine women smear it on their faces and breasts, they give up all their anxiety. (SB 10.21.17)
The Pulindis Take the Remnants of Kunkuma
Kunkuma is the vermilion cosmetic powder used by ladies in ‘ Vedic culture. Primarily dusted on the exposed portion of the breast, it may be lightly applied all over the body or face to tinge the complexion reddish. Like all ladies of their time, the gopis used kunkuma powder and in their loving pastimes with Sri Krsna, some of that powder would be transferred to Him.
The pages of Snmad-Bhagavatam are a testament to the recurring role kunkuma plays in the pastimes of Sri Hari. Whether it acts as an impetus to ecstatic love, inciting spontaneous attachment in Sri Krsna or His associates, as a messenger to declare the good fortune of the gopis who have enjoyed His embrace, or as a means to relinquish the pangs of separation in His absence, the many references to this simple vermilion powder proclaim its own good fortune.
As a husband separated from his chaste wife smears her face with kunkuma upon his return, the appearance of the long-expected full moon of the Kartika month smeared the eastern horizon with a
polished reddish color, reminding Vraja’s Prince of His vow to accept the gopis as His wives. The naturally romantic atmosphere of the forest, filled with fragrant flowers and cooling breezes languishing under the gentle radiance of the autumn sky, inspired Sri Krsna to perform the rasa dance.
Making His way to the bank of the sparkling Yamuna, Sri Krsna stood beneath the desire tree at Vamsivata and called the gopis with the alluring songs of His flute. As the flute, the acclaimed rival of the gopis, delivered its message to the housewives of Vraja, a tidal wave of spontaneous attachment flowed through the forest of Vrndavana, bringing with it the many saphari fishes of the gopis, whose only existence was the pleasure of Sri Krsna.
After their initial meeting and coquetry, the gopis became proud to have world-famous Sri Krsna as their paramour. To relieve them from their conceit and to show special favor to Sri Radha, Rasa-bihari disappeared from their midst, exhibiting His unparalleled spirit of renunciation. Taking only Srimati Radharani with Him, Sri Krsna showed Her the beauty of the midnight forest, pleasing Her in many ways by His sweet words. His kind demeanor, and His exclusive attention.
Feeling great unhappiness at their separation from Sri Krsna, the other gopis began to wander here and there, entering ever deeper into the dark forest, searching for their beloved. When they came across a doe in quest of her mate, overwhelmed by the madness of separation and desperate to receive some news of Hari, the gopis questioned the ignorant creature.
The bewildered gopis, now lamenting their pride, took the deer’s natural movements as an indication of Sri Krsna’s whereabouts and eagerly followed her. When a friendly breeze brought the fragrance of Sri Krsna’s flower garland smeared with •kunkuma, their unhappiness abated and they said, “0 friend, wife of the deer, has Lord Acyuta been here with His beloved, bringing great joy to your eyes? Indeed, blowing this way is the fragrance of His garland of kunda flowers, which was smeared with the kunkuma from the breasts of His girlfriend when He embraced Her.”
The gopis entered deep into the dark forest, inquiring from all creatures of Sri Krsna’s whereabouts. He who is always beyond the
The Pulindis Take the Remnants of Kunkuma
reach of the mind and senses followed behind the broken-hearted gopis, remaining invisible but listening to their expressions of loving separation. When the gopis found a sorrowful Sri Radha left aside in the midst of Their pastimes, they all took to performing the sankirtana of Sri Krsna’s names and finally induced Him to appear among them, quelling their great sadness and drying their tears. In the happiness of His association the gopis forgot the great pain of His absence and tried to please Him in many ways.
Sukadeva Gosvami said, “Their heartache vanquished by the ecstasy of seeing Krsna, the gopis, like the personified Vedas before them, felt their desires completely fulfilled. For their dear friend Krsna they arranged a seat with their shawls, which were smeared with the kunkuma powder from their breasts.” Sitting by the bank of the Kalindi and surrounded by many humming bees, Sri Krsna and the gopis enjoyed that enchanting beach, which was scented with a breeze bearing the fragrance of blooming kunda flowers.
As the gopis exchanged loving glances and sweet words with their beloved, their minds were drawn by a desire to place His lotus feet to their hearts. Remembering how He follows the cows, walking barefoot through rocks and thorns, their minds became disturbed and they experienced great pain. To mitigate His discomfort and assuage their anxiety, they desired to offer Sri Krsna the softest of footpaths, their own delicate bodies. With only the forest of Vrndavana and the full moon as witness, they said:
yat te sujata-caranamburuham stanesu
bhitah sanaih priya dadhimahi karkasesu tendtavim atasi tad vyathate na kim svit
kurpadibhir bhramati dhir bhavad-ayusam nah
“0 dearly beloved! Your lotus feet are so soft that we place them gently on our breasts, fearing that Your feet will be hurt. Our life rests only in You. Our minds, therefore, are filled with anxiety that Your tender feet might be wounded by pebbles as You roam about on the forest path.”
Understanding their transcendental aspirations, Sri Krsna, who is always very lovingly disposed towards His devotees, fulfilled
their desire and the kunkuma from the breasts of the gopis daubed His lotus feet, which are marked with the lotus, conch, and disk. By accommodating the gopis in this way, Sri Krsna’s kunkuma-st&med feet became well known both within and without the borders of Vraja.
On His visit to Vrndavana, Akrura said, “Krsna’s lotus feet are worshipped by all the great demigods like Lord Brahma and Lord Siva, and yet with those very same feet, smeared with the kunkuma from the gopis’ breasts, the Lord walks about the forest while herding the cows with His companions.”
Many years later, while meeting with Draupadi-devi at Kuru-ksetra, the queens of Lord Krsna said, “0 saintly lady, we do not desire dominion over the earth, the sovereignty of the king of heaven, unlimited facility for enjoyment, mystic power, the position of Lord Brahma, immortality, or even attainment of the kingdom of God. We simply desire to carry on our heads the glorious dust of Lord Krsna’s feet, enriched by the fragrance of kunkuma from His consort’s bosom.”
In commenting on this verse, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura states that the “consort” being referred to by the queens is Srimati Radharani. Due to Her extraordinary beauty and love, Sri Radhika knows no rival among the gopis, the queens of Dvaraka, or the Laksmis of Vaikuntha. Indeed, Her bonds of attachment for Him are the exclusive ropes by which the uncontrolled Prince of Vraja is brought fully under Her control, and the kunkuma on His lotus feet is the impeccable witness to Her extraordinary prowess.
Tending the cows in the association of His friends, Sri Krsna decorated the area of Govardhana Hill with His footprints, which were stained with the same kunkuma that once adorned the breasts of Sri Radhika. Attracted by the sound of the flute, some Pulindis, girls belonging to an aboriginal forest tribe, came into a clearing in search of Him. Burning with amorous desires, they noticed His
The Pidindis Take the Remnants of Kunfeuma
all-attractive footprints and, taking its kunkuma adornment and smearing it on their breasts and faces, they became free from the onslaught of Cupid. This summary is given in Sridhara Svami’s commentary on this verse.
When He left Nandagoan with His cows and friends, jovially entering the forest of Vrndavana, Sri Krsna took with Him the minds of His parents, girlfriends, and relations, leaving the vraja-vasis stunned like an army of dolls. At His departure, mother Yasoda and Nanda Maharaja fell over like trees uprooted by the wind. They were mechanically carried to Nandagoan by their associates, who continued their daily activities out of habit, constantly singing the glories of Sri Krsna as their only means of sustenance.
Dispirited at His disappearance, Radhika also fell unconscious into the arms of Her maidservants, which troubled Kundalata, who had given her promise to return Her to Javat after Govinda’s breakfast. Although struck by feelings of separation, she controlled her own emotions and took Sri Radha and Her girlfriends to the home of Abhimanyu, where the miser Jatila was already busy making numerous cow dung patties.
It was only the cowherd boys and cows who continued to bask in the association of Sri Krsna, while their parents, relatives, and sisters mourned His absence.
The town of Javat is an hour’s walk west of Nanda-grama. It is situated on a small hill and is the residence of the tribe of Abhimanyu, the husband of Sri Radha. The countless cows that comprise the herds of Ain Gosh (a popular name of Abhimanyu) appear like the milk ocean surrounding Svetadvipa, the island residence of Lord Visnu. On the summit of the hill is the house of Jatila’s son, shining like the palace of Lord Indra within the city of the devas. In the center of that dwelling is a large courtyard that has as its ornament a seven-storied moon-tower. To allay feelings of separation from Her family, affectionate King Vrsabhanu constructed this extraordinary palace for the pleasure of his beloved daughter. From the top of the tower, Sri Radha can readily see Her paternal home at Varsana, which is south of Javat and southwest of Nandagoan. Another three yojanas further south of
Nandagoan are Govardhana Mountain, Radha-kunda, and the meandering assembly of the Prince of Vrndavana.
Returning from Nanda-grama, Lalita and Visakha brought Radharani to Her own quarters, where Her maidservants joyfully washed, wiped, and massaged Her and then again dressed and decorated Her with fresh clothing and ornaments. When a garland-making girl named Narmada arrived with many bakula, saptala, jdti, campaka, and lavanga flowers, all slightly blooming and touched by honeybees, Sri Radhika immediately showed Her skill in making a garland to decorate Sri Krsna’s limbs.
After stringing a vaijayanti garland and preparing a tray of sweets, Sri Radhika happily sent some maidservants to deliver them to Govinda, who was at a heartbreaking distance from Her.
Climbing the stairs of the moon-tower, sweet-faced Radhika was followed by Her friends and maidservants, who ascended to the large terrace on its top like smoke rising through the branches of a tree. The expanse of Vrndavana’s pastures, dotted with hills, forests, rivers, and lakes, spread before Her like a servant waiting on her mistress. Anxious to see Hari, She strained Her beautiful eyes and placed Her right hand to Her forehead to screen the glare of the sun. Looking in the direction of Govardhana Hill, Sri Radha was able to perceive the ever-playful sports of Her dearly beloved.
As the sun rose steadily overhead, the many birds flying in the air sang of their love for Sri Krsna and the wind blew gently, carrying the fragrance of blooming lotus flowers cooled by the spray from the Yamuna. Although Radhika had just recently departed from Him, She was ever greedy to have the slightest glimpse of Sri Krsna’s transcendental form as He wandered here and there, tending to His cows and playing with His friends.
At some distance from Nanda-nandana’s herd, the Pulindi girls, whose occupation was to collect wood and cow dung from Govardhana Hill, had become attracted to the reddish footprints decorating the soft undergrowth. When they smeared that kunkuma over their faces, freely expressing their attachment for Sri Krsna, Gaurangi became envious of their fortune, and tears welled in Her eyes as Her body began to tremble.
Always the well-wisher of her sakhi, knowing full well the
The Pulindis Take the Remnants of Kunkuma
emotions in Her pure heart and wishing to relieve Her of the torment She felt, Lalita-devi took Radhika’s hand in her own and said:
purnah pulindya urugaya-padabja-raga
sri-kunkumenadayita-stana-manditena tad-darsana-smara-rujas trna-rusitena
limpantya anana-kucesu jahus tad-adhim
“The aborigine women of the Vrndavana area become disturbed by lust when they see the grass marked with reddish kunkuma powder. Endowed with the color of Krsna’s lotus feet, this powder originally decorated the breasts of His beloved, and when the aborigine women smear it on their faces and breasts, they give up all their anxiety” (Bhdg. 10.21.17)
Indignant at the repeated piracy of their property, which is Sri Hari’s lotus footprints, Lalita-devi, the foremost among the gopi friends of Sri Radhika, said with some pride, “Someone may say the cloud is fortunate, for it has attained the association of Sri Krsna, but is it possible to describe the fortune of the low-class Pulindi women of Vraja? Although they are members of the Sahara tribe and generally considered untouchables, we are confined to this dungeon of torment while they have achieved satisfaction from the forces of smara.”
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says, kincit sambandha . matrena. This verse has no reference to the flute song, the beauty of Sri Krsna, His form, or His qualities. The mood of the gopis is now dominated by feelings of bewilderment, mohita, established by something that is in relationship to Krsna—the kunkuma found on the grass by the Pulindis.
Dressed in a sari as brilliantly colored as the tail-feather of an ecstatically dancing peacock, her upper body covered with an extremely attractive bodice, her hair partition decorated with shimmering red vermilion, and wearing various necklaces and jeweled ornaments, Lalita-devi says, “Hey sakhis! Although the clouds receive recognition for their service to Krsna and His associates, in this forest of Vrndavana, which is worshipped by
The Pulindis Take the Remnants of Kunkuma
demigods and demons alike, .even the Pulindis achieve good fortune. Can any of you comprehend the piety of these antadya-stn, low-class women?”
Her golden complexion defeating the color of gorocana and possessing innumerable good qualities, Lalita-devi is the receptacle of Yasoda-devi’s paternal affection. As an alternative to taking birth among the aborigines of Vraja, the guru of the sakhis now guides the gopis in how to achieve grace equal to the Pulindis. “The Pulindis have achieved satisfaction by smearing their bodies with the kunkuma that was once on Sri Krsna’s lotus feet. What austerities they performed for this perfection as we remain afflicted by lust, I do not know! Friends, this is indeed a wonder!”
Visakha, who is the very image of Srimati Radharani, being born on the same bhadra-sukla-astami (the eighth day of the bright fortnight in the month of Bhadra), whose demeanor and behavior is like that of her beloved friend, and who instructs Radha and Krsna in Their exchanges of love, replied, “When the gopis take the lotus feet of Hari and gently place it to their hearts, the kunkuma which decorates their breasts sticks to His feet and becomes the cosmetic of the Pulindis. Although born of an inferior race, they know the extraordinary value of this priceless commodity and greedily mine it from the grass, creepers, and stones of Vrndavana. Dear friend, although you place questions before us as if bewildered, it is you alone who know the answer to your inquiry. Please do not raise a cloud of illusion before our eyes.”
Looking sweetly at Lalita, her voice laced with humility, Visakha appealed, “Sakhi Lalite! As you are the knower of all things, please be kind to us, be kind to us! We were born in neighboring villages, we played naked together in the dust, we grew to puberty concurrently, we were all married in Javat, and our common life force is the sanga of Syamasundari. Please explain how it is that the Pulindis have become so fortunate! Having heard your words of wisdom, we shall follow their example and satisfy the burning in our hearts, which is the influence of that incorporeal god, Cupid, and which has caused so much distress to the vraja-gopis.”
Dressed and decorated like goddesses of fortune, their bodies
resplendent with the opulence of youth and glowing with a radiance of molten gold/ that assembly of gopis along with Radhika, Lalita, and Visakha seemed like a heavenly ornament of gold and jewels suspended in the sky on a crystal column.
The relentless attachment to Sri Krsna, which ever haunts the hearts of the gopis, caused them to speak that day of the inhabitants of Vraja and the moods of affection they express. There was talk of clouds, cows, rivers, birds, peacocks, devis, deer, and bamboo rods by the riverside. By revealing the life of Vrndavana, the gopis shared its residents’ love for Hari without disclosing their own conjugal attachment.
In their honey-scented discussions throughout different parts of Vraja, the gopis concealed their love from outsiders and from each other. With the indiscreet behavior of the Pulindis as a catalyst, that concealment had reached its unsuccessful conclusion, and the gopis’ intimate love for Syamasundara surfaced like a volcanic eruption. For the first time in Venu-gita, the gopis openly admitted to associating with Sri Krsna.
In the opinion of Sri Sanatana Gosvami, this verse and the following two verses are spoken by Sri Radhika’s assembly, which includes Her asta-sakhis and their associates. The gopis’ hearts were ablaze due to the consuming flames of kama and, turning to Lalita-devi, they saw her instructions as a nectar shower to soothe their affliction. With many sweet words they begged for her mercy and, as their representative, Visakha requested her to describe the glories of Sri Krsna, the Pulindis, the kunkuma, and the rasa which brought good fortune to the aborigine girls.
Lalita-devi leaned against the crystal wall of the tower, a dainty smile on her lips, poised to reply. Although generally the focus of Her associates, Srimati Radharani knew the mind of Her beloved Lalita and thus, taking a few steps to the side. She retreated to a golden bench by the balustrade. Fixing Her gaze on Sri Krsna, who, though distant, was seen by Her eyes of love, and concentrating Her attention on the words of Lalita who, though near, was to be distanced by humility, Sri Radha took Her seat, surrounded by a few maidservants.
Lalita said, “The Pulindis are vanacans, forest women, and
The Pulindis Take the Remnants of Kunkuma
considered among the seven low-class females of society. Because they maintain themselves by collecting firewood and cow dung as well as undertaking a variety of unspecified services, they are rejected from the four varnas and asramas. In essence, they are classified among the untouchables and can only be found on the earth planet. There is no sastric reference to Pulindis residing either in heaven or Vaikuntha.”
Hearing this description, some of the gopis laughed, others showed expressions of disdain, while some looked down in embarrassment. Lalita-devi continued, “Although the Pulindis in Vraja appear like ordinary earthly women, they should not be disrespected in any way. They may have very full breasts, they may act very lustily, and they may be dissatisfied with their lovers’ amorous advances; still, while carrying water or churning yogurt, their simple songs and conversations are imbued with loving topics about Sri Krsna, anuraga-katha. 0 gopis, in this world it is love that is to be tasted! Those who possess such love, be they Pulindis or yavanas, must always be the objects of our respect. They must never be ridiculed.”
Turning to the girls around her, Lalita-devi said, “Since some of us may have been Pulindis in our last lives we should be considerate of our attitude towards them.” Lalita’s statement settled on the ears of her sakhis like a fine mist. The gopis turned towards each other with glances of bewilderment, knowing well that she would rarely speak such words in jest. Seeing their raised eyebrows and perplexed looks, that eldest of the sakhis continued, “In ancient days the righteous King Rama walked the earth for fourteen years to fulfill the exile imposed by His mother, Kaikeyi. At that time He passed through many lands and blessed forest creatures and humans alike.
“After bestowing mercy on the many sages of Dandakaranya forest, Ramacandra continued to Pancavati, where He lived in a straw hut, ate roots, fruits, and berries, and slept on the ground. The Crown Prince of Ayodhya, who was accustomed to sleep on a soft bed, to eat opulent foods, and to enjoy all the luxury of palatial life, now lived like a true renunciant. Seeing this, the demigods shed tears that drenched the earth like torrents of rain.
“While in Pancavati, soine aborigine girls saw the divine form of Sri Rama. Overwhelmed with amorous desires, they smeared the dust of His lotus feet upon their bodies and, knowing of His vow to accept only Sita-devi as His spouse, they decided to give up their lives. Assuming the form of a handsome brahmacdn dressed in tree bark, possessing matted hair, carrying a stick, and bearing a kamandalu, the disguised King ofAyodhya said, “0 ladies, there is no need for you to abandon this world without reason. At the end of Dvapara-yuga in the land of Vrndavana all your desires will be fulfilled.” While they looked on in amazement, that brahmacan disappeared, and in time those Pulindis took birth as foretold by the Lord.”
Glancing at each and every gopi individually, Lalita-devi allowed the eloquent words of her long silence to make their teaching felt. Then she smiled, slightly nodding her head. Some gopis folded their hands in respect, while others bowed from the waist. Because a few seemed incredulous at Lalita’s claims, she said emphatically, “Sarvam eva sambhavati. Everything is possible, my dear friends. After all, it is love that is to be tasted.”
Sitting nearby, Srimati Radhika thought to Herself, “For their great anuraga to Hari, let these aborigine girls be forever glorified. I offer My obeisances unto them.”
Understanding the mind of Sri Radha, Visakha-devi inquired, “While the subject of this verse appears to be the Pulindis, my suspicion is that there is another, hidden and more prominent theme to be considered.
Attracted by the revelation of a more confidential matter, the faces of the gopis blossomed like lotuses in the sun. “If you are aware of some deeper meaning in this pastime, then please speak up, Visakhe,” said one girl.
Glancing first to Radhika and then Lalita, Visakha said boldly, “By the word dayita, a heroine who is always pleasing to all, very affectionate to her friends, merciful to all beings and the beloved object of the king of heroes is implied. It is the glories of such a one that are to be known, for by her grace do the Pulindis gain any fortune at all.”
“Well spoken, well spoken!” chimed that chorus of beautiful gopis. Suppressing a smile, Lalita inquired, “My dear friend,
The Pwlindis Take the Remnants of Kunkunm
priya-sakhi, why would I not give emphasis to the main subject of description and concentrate on a lesser one?”
Visakha looked around to confirm the privacy of their conversation, the other gopis following suit. “We gopis rarely speak openly in public due to the obstacles in the form of family members, in-laws, and the norms of society. Therefore, to guard the secrets of our heart, on the pretext of glorifying one thing we conceal our real intent by the use of oblique language. Is that not so, sakhi Vrnde?”
The gopis looked at each other, their eyes twinkling, happy that their diplomacy of love had been exposed. Alarmed at a conversation whose frontiers assured Her own embarrassment, Radhika spoke within Her mind, “Sakhi Visakhe, tistha tistha, hush, hush!” Attentive to the desire of her dearest, Visakha (also known as Anuradha, the constant follower of Radhika) said, “Lalite, you please explain clearly what you originally meant to say.”
Lalita-devi replied, “Very well! As we are in a secure location and not to be overheard by others, and the only secrets are those we keep from each other, I shall reveal the hidden meaning of this verse as suggested by our good friend.”
Knowing that in the matter of glorifying her yuthesvari Lalita was more difficult to restrain than the others, Sri Radha only pressed Herself further against Her settee and lowered Her beautiful face.
Lalita continued, “The word dayita has an alternate singular and plural usage. In my opinion, this instance beggars the singular case. Who is that heroine upon whose raised breast Sri Krsna always keeps His feet and whose kunkuma now adorns the land of Vraja and the bodies of the Pulindis?”
“Vrsabhanu-kumari carana-pankaja dyutayah!” called out Tunga-vidya, the knower of all knowable things. “She who is shining forward, being on the seventh stage of mahabhava, madana, Vrsabhanu-kumari Radha is that same dayita.”
Looking towards their sakhi, who had hidden Herself from sheer embarrassment, all the gopis clapped in unison, saying, “Jaya Radhe! Jaya Radhe!” Within Her mind Srimati protested the singular use of dayita and dictated to Lalita the plural meaning and its consequences.
Responding aloud, Lalita said, “Someone may argue that the
secrecy with which the gopis guard their own good fortune is the cause for the singular usage of dayita, rather than the obvious plural one. After all, it is well known to me that you have all enjoyed the good fortune of placing Govinda’s musk-scented feet to your hearts. To reinforce her argument, such a person may argue that due to their great anuraga, each and every gopi shines forth in the lila-katha of Govinda.”
Hearing this reasoning, learned girls like the twins Sudevi and Rangadevi gracefully shook their heads. Lalita continued, “But I do not accept such a proposition to be accurate. What we have heard from Tungavidya is certainly an exceptional understanding. Who can equal her in the knowledge of linguistic sciences?”
“She who is foremost among other heroines qualifies as dayita. Other than our beloved Radha, who could that be? Because She does not like such glorification, I have praised the Pulindis who are worthy due to their treasure of anuraga. Please forgive me for my omission but, as Visakha says, things should be spoken as they are,” concluded Lalita-devi.
Sri Radha whispered to Rupa Manjari, their faces almost touching, “Then why not let that singular person be Lalita or Visakha, who both have close loving encounters with Hari?”
Responding to her friend’s suggestion, Lalita replied, “Because Sri Radha treats sakhis like Visakha as Her equal, the status of such gopis appears even. Using such false logic, someone else may argue that any priya-narma-sakhi can be called dayita.
“To this I have a simple reply. Everyone remembers how Sri Krsna unhesitatingly abandoned millions of moon-faced gopis for Radha’s exclusive association on the full moon night of Sarat. What superior evidence is required to establish Sri Radha’s unrivaled station? Although Her sakhis are effulgent like the sun, their effulgence is not self-manifest; it is a reflection of Radhika’s own splendor, manifesting in their forms as a consequence of their having taken complete shelter of Her.”
Speaking in an almost audible whisper. Her beautiful complexion tinged by the red glow of embarrassment, Sri Radha said, “Lalite, why do you not describe some other aspect of this verse?”
Visakha-devi, being always ready to fulfill the desires of
The Pulindis Take the Remnants of Kunkuma
Radhika, said, “Kena pulindmam tasam kim? Dear sakhi, please explain how it is the Pulindis acquired the kunkuma powder now decorating their limbs?”
Lalita replied, “Trnesu rusitena lagnena! While wandering through the forest of Vrndavana like a baby elephant, self-confident and full of youthful pride, Sri Krsna turned the leaves and creepers of Vrndavana reddish by the kunkuma powder falling from His lotus feet. When the Pulindis came into the midst of the forest, they observed the kunkuma smeared on the grass and greedily collected it like a great treasure.”
Citra-devi, the best of ladies, whose complexion was like gold smeared with saffron, who was dressed in cloth like radiant crystals, and who spoke in a very soft voice, said, “The Pulindis are collectors and the forests of Vrndavana are their domain. Although they generally seek out cow dung, firewood, and wild fruit, knowing the value of the kunkuma from Govinda’s lotus feet, they are ever alert to gather that treasure.
“The erect posture of Vrndavana’s grass is their sattvika-bhava. Tat tu vrndavane pada trdnam vine. Hari always walks here and there without any shoes. As a consequence of His divine touch, the grasses have developed great prema and greedily scrape the kunkuma from His feet as their maha-prasadam. The Pulindis then loot the property of the grass, knowing well where they have acquired such wealth. Vayam tu! Just see their impudence!”
Being very pleased by the sweet words of Citra-devi, Lalita stroked her cheeks, saying, “Citre, your knowledge of plants has no equal. We should consider that trna-rusitena extends the meaning of its own characteristics, indicating sila-adisu. Thus the kunkuma is to be found everywhere, including stones, rocks, and in general on the ground of Vrndavana’s forest. Indeed, for those who have eyes to see, Krsna’s reddish footprints are to be found everywhere and at all times throughout the Vrndavana terrain.
“Visakhe, dear friend, you asked how it was that these Pulindi’s have decorated their limbs with kunkuma. Please listen as I answer your question! While Krsna was entertaining His friends, He played His flute in many charming ways, bringing them ever-newer pleasure and also keeping the cows from straying. The
sound vibration of His flute sought out these aborigine girls and, in so doing, it enhanced their desire to meet Him. , ^
“Forcibly accosted by the flute, the Pulindis were overwhelmed by kama and desired to meet Sri Krsna immediately. Following the sound of the flute song like snakes charmed by a mantra, they came into a clearing in the forest and saw the reddish kunkuma on the ground. Although Sri Krsna was not personally present, they recognized His footprints and, without any sense of shame, immediately smeared it over their faces and breasts. In this way they became fully satisfied, although they were not satisfied when their lovers touched their breasts. Visakhe, this is how the Pulindis smeared the kunkuma which once decorated Sri Radhika all over their bodies.”
That day many conversations regarding the sound of the flute and its transcendental player took place, but none was as free from restraint as the gopis’ talks of the Pulindis. By the arrangement of Yogamaya the gopis were in a secluded place, free from the prying eyes of their superiors, and their long absence from Sri Krsna evaporated their inhibitions and allowed them to speak freely among themselves.
•’ Then Sudevi, who was of a disposition called vama-prakara, contrary and hot tempered, wearing a bright red dress and learned in the scriptures of omens and dreams, bravely spoke out: “Sakhis, I fear this conversation is full of crookedness and duplicity. The most obvious issue is being neglected, and I am at a loss to answer why. How has that kunkuma reached the exalted position as the coloring on Sri Hari’s feet? Is modesty the cause for such discussion, or is there some other reason?
“Let us be quite frank! Having spoken of our dayita, it is now quite clear that there was some wonderful pastime between our dayita Radha and Vana-vihari Krsna (who always wanders through the forests of Vraja), by which the kunkuma decoration from Her breast was transferred to His lotus feet. Dayita sambhoga anantaram krsna sei vana-vihara. If someone knows this, then I, for one, am interested in hearing of it even if this assembly is quite satisfied to discuss the intricacies of Sanskrit grammar.”
Sri Radha had been looking over the landscape of Vrndavana, observing the movements of Her beloved Sri Krsna. The prying
The Pulindis Take the Remnants of Kunkuma
words of Sudevi forcibly drew Her attention to Her friends and, whispering under Her breath. She said, “0 friend of Manjulali, you may be expert in managing your network of spies to discover the secrets of Vraja, but must you pry into everyone’s life to satisfy your curiosity?”
Undaunted by Sri Radha’s critical glance, Sudevi turned her attention to Lalita, who, being in a very agreeable mood, smiled and leaned forward to her questioner. The other girls crowded around with a great desire to better hear the nectar that would be the Ilia of Radha and Govinda.
Lalita-devi said, “Much to the delight of Her father Vrsabhanu and Her mother Kirtida-devi, Sri Radha visited their home in Varsana from the months of Sravana to Asvina. During that period, on the krsna-astami of Bhadra, being invited to Sri Krsna’s Janmotsava, the entire family visited Nandagoan to participate in His birthday celebration. After the Nandotsava on the following day, having enjoyed great happiness by seeing Her prana-natha and having celebrated the auspicious occasion of His birth, Radhika once again returned to Varsana along with Her family members and Her sakhis.
“When the family of Nanda Baba, bearing with them the crown jewel of their line, Sri Krsna, came to Varsana on the bhadra-sukla-astamito celebrate the birthday of our beloved Radhika, the festival of bliss that ensued overflowed its banks, dwarfing the festivity of Krsna’s own birth.
“The trayodasi day, when the brother of Abhimanyu, Durmada, came to escort His sister-in-law back to Javat, filled Varsana with a gloom and despair such as is seen at the dissolution of this universe. Shedding tears that washed the kajal from Her beautiful eyes, Sri Radha wept in the embrace of Her mother before the sad journey that took Her back to the abode of misery that is Her husband’s home.
“On the krsna-ekadasi of Kartika, Sri Radha prepared Herself to perform the opulent worship the sun-god at Surya-kunda. Having been poisoned by rumors of Her meetings with Sri Krsna, the miser Jatila forbade Radhika to leave the compound, insisting that She worship their family deity instead.
“As the all-effulgent sun rose higher in the sky it dried out the
lake of Sn Radha’s patience, which was fed by the fickle stream of hope to meet Her beloved. Afflicted by the disease of separation, Sri Radhika experienced a second like a millennium. Her parental home like a great desert, and Her shame like invisible ropes of bondage. Although Her friends tried to console Her with the medicine of their cooling words. Her disposition became more and more critical with each passing minute.”
As Sri Lalita spoke these words her eyes flooded with tears and her voice faltered. Offering her comforting hand, Visakha-devi, who was equally pained by Sri Radha’s separation, encouraged her to speak further. “To cool Her bodily temperature, Radhika’s sakhis smeared Her limbs with sandal paste, lotus pollen, and camphor, but the fever of Her separation made these substances dry up, and they had to be reapplied. When the gopis tried to confine Radhika to Her bed. She repeatedly rose in a delirium and, finally rejecting all assistance. She continually paced the open courtyard under the
glare of the midday sun.
“As Her blood boiled from the heat within and the rays of the sun without, Sri Radha’s heart could no longer tolerate Her affliction and She fainted like a swan fallen from the sky. The commotion that took place among the sakhis at that time I cannot describe! Like subjects without a king, children deprived of their parents, or calves who have lost their mothers, Sri Radha’s girlfriends fell into the waterless well of despair. Running here and there, they searched for many remedies to secure their sakhi’s life.
“Rati, who lives by her affection for Radhika, fanned Her with her cloth. Rupa, who is the embodiment of Radhika’s form, tested the movement of Her prdna. Kasturika chanted the names of Visnu for protection, and Labanga rubbed Her wrist in her bud-like
“When Jatila arrived to see the condition of her daughter in law, the only path for the continuation of her family and the goddess of fortune who ensured the prosperity of her household, she became
filled with anguish.
“As she turned to me in anxiety, I explained the situation as follows: ‘Arye, although Sri Radhika worshipped the effulgent sun-god at your own shrine. She felt greatly aggrieved at breaking
The Pulindzs Take the Remnants of Kunkumci
Her vow to the deity at Surya-kunda. Praying to the sun-god for forgiveness. She fainted of the heat and all our attempts to revive Her have met with failure.’
“Jatila brought many oils and unguents to rub on Sri Radhika’s body, but She did not move. Her body continued to burn. Her lotus eyes remained closed, and only Her lips trembled slightly. Bringing Her into the shade of a bakula tree and laying Her on a soft mattress, Citra-devi brought many medicinal herbs to revive Her faint, with no success. :
“Jatila’s son, Abhimanyu, had gone to Mathura to purchase , new cows. Shelterless, the foolish woman fell into an ocean of despair and began to sob at the lotus feet of our sakhi. By the arrangement of providence, mother Paurnamasi arrived at that place, appearing like the goddess of purity, dressed in white cloth and adorned with snow-white hair.
“Unable to bear the burden of her misdeeds against Radhika, Jatila took shelter of Paurnamasi, falling into her arms and sobbing uncontrollably. She babbled. Tearing She would be accosted by that capricious prince of Nanda’s house, I forbade Radha from performing Her worship of the sun at Surya-kunda. To punish me for interrupting his seva, that effulgent god has now caused Her to swoon, and no medication or mantras can revive Her.’
“‘Foolish woman, will you never understand that your son, cows, and home continue to exist by the strength of Sri Radha’s chastity?’ hissed Paurnamasi, sitting by Radhika, fondly stroking Her forehead and expertly feeling Her pulse. ‘You have endangered Her who is the only source of your good fortune and without whom both you and your household would have perished long ago.’
“At the edge of complete hysteria, Jatila wailed, ‘What can be done? Tell, what can be done? Save my daughter and I will never question Her movements again.’
“Paurnamasi replied, ‘There is only one medicine I know that will cure the fever consuming the body of this delicate and faultless girl.’
“‘Let us find that all-knowing physician who can cure my daughter, save my reputation, and restore the hopes of my son”
sobbed Jatila as she paced back and forth, wringing her hands and crying.
“Wise Paurnamasi answered, ‘It is not a physician who will heal your daughter, 0 unfortunate one. She is beyond medical help. The cooling touch of a brahmana’s lotus feet, pure through life-long celibacy and endowed with great piety through austerities, will be the only medicine to cool the heart of your daughter and pacify the anger of the sun-god.’
“Continuing to cry in desperation, Jatila sobbed, ‘Is there such a one full of spiritual merit to be found in Vraja at this time?’ \
“All-knowing Paurnamasi understood that the blazing fire of separation consuming our sakhi’s delicate frame could only be extinguished by the cooling touch of Sri Krsna. Since Jatila could not even bear His fragrance near her home, she contrived of a means to bring Him to that very place. Thus she said, ‘Having completed His studies under the revered Garga Muni and having taken the blessings of my Gurudeva, Sri Narada, a saintly brahmacan shining with brahminical prowess, who has visited all the places of pilgrimage and is possessed of immeasurable austerity now resides by the bank of the Yamuna, not far from my own dsrama. The only remedy would be to bring Him here, and induce Him to apportion His sakti for the life of this faultless girl.’
“Jatila readily agreed to invite this pure brahmana to the scene at that instant. Dispatching some sakhis to the bank of the Yamuna, we found Sri Krsna sitting under a kadamba tree. His flute lifeless in His hands and greatly unhappy in separation from Sri Radhe. Following the order of Paurnamasi, having dressed in the guise of a brahmacan, holding a waterpot in one hand and a danda in the other, Sri Krsna presented Himself at the door of Jatila shining with brahminical tejas and appearing like Lord Dattatreya Himself.’
“As He entered the courtyard of Abhimanyu and beheld the condition of His beloved, Sri Krsna’s eyes welled up with tears and His body shook with great emotion. Jatila, frenzied with worry, greeted her guest with kind words, being unable to recognize Him. Offering her blessings, Paurnamasi spoke. ‘My dear boy, having seen Your amiable disposition and great spiritual strength, I have brought You here to save the life of this pure-hearted girl. She is
The Pulindis Take the Remnants of Kunkuma
suffering from a fever inflicted in the course of Her worship of the all-powerful sun-god/
“Sri Krsna, feigning brahmacari reserve in the presence of women, said, ‘Dear mother, what you say must certainly come to pass, for this beautiful girl is not destined to be separated from Her friends. But as a celibate I have taken a vow never to touch women, and therefore someone else must be the vehicle to fulfill your will.’
“Paurnamasi replied. Time is of the essence and saving the life of this princess cannot be contrary to Your religious principles. Dear pandita mahasaya, 0 representative of Brahma, only the cooling rays from the lotus feet of one such as You can counteract the fire now threatening this jewel among young girls.’
“Jatila interjected in an outpouring of emotion, ‘Dear sir, it is providence alone that has brought You here to save my daughter-in-law’s life. The household of my son will collapse with Her demise. Please look at Her now and consider well what must be
“Sri Krsna gazed at the beautiful form of His beloved as She lay on a white mattress resembling the foam of milk. There was a damp cloth across Her forehead. Her body was smeared with sandal paste, and Her maidservants fanned Her frantically. Radhika’s breath was hardly noticeable. Her chest did not move. Her complexion was like a white lotus, and the symptoms of life barely clung to Her form. Aside from a murmur in Her throat and the trembling on Her lips. She lay completely still.
“Turning to Paurnamasi, He said, ‘0 holy mother. My love for the inhabitants of Vraja is the mature fruit of many lifetimes of penance. If I can be of service to this household, please let Me know what is to be done.’
“Paurnamasi smiled and said, ‘As fire can only be counteracted by water, so excessive heat can only be checked by cold. The fever raging in this girl’s body is such that Her by-standing friends are scorched by its effects. Just see how they perspire! The center of this fever is at Her heart. If You place Your cool lotus feet there, certainly You will bring back to life this girl who is now mortally endangered.’
“At this Sri Krsna looked at Paurnamasi, then at Jatila, and then
at the gopis around Him. Their eyes pleaded, their lips trembled, and their hands shook. Large tears of sorrow rolled down their faces and onto their breasts. Bowing, His hands folded, Govinda recited mystical incantations that vibrated throughout the courtyard and gave hope to the gopis. Then, with a shy and sheepish look. He raised His right foot and gently placed it to Radhika’s heart.’
“As soon as His foot touched Her, Sri Radha’s body trembled as in the throws of a fever. Her hair stood on end and Her feet and hands quivered. Sri Krsna also thrilled to Her touch and His frame began to shake like Hers. Both Their bodies shook in unison, as if Their combined touch had initiated a special reaction. Seeing the perplexed look on Jatila’s face, Hari quickly removed His foot and spoke. ‘Mother, I have taken the fever from your daughter and extinguished it by the power of My own austerities. Very soon this girl will come back to consciousness. Just see how She begins to move.’
“At that, Sri Radhika began to move Her slender arms, opening and closing Her petal-like fingers to the great ecstasy of Her friends. Sri Krsna continued, T have done your bidding; now please allow Me to go without further ado. I must purify Myself and perform My evening duties.’
“Jatila offered Sri Krsna gifts of cows, gold, and food, but He declined her kindness and, folding His hands in farewell, walked out of the house, marking the ground with the kunkuma from Sri Radha’s breast. Accompanying Mukunda to the gate, I thanked Him for His charity and as our dayita became fully alert, I watched Him shyly retreat, marking the forest path with the beautiful reddish powder from His lotus feet.
“My dear Sudevi,” concluded Lalita, “you have asked about the dayita sambhoga anantaram krsna sei vana-vihara, the wonderful pastime between Radhika and Vanamali which accounts for His kunkuma-stamed footprints throughout the land of Vrndavana. Although the Ilia of the divine couple is unlimited, for your pleasure I have explained to you one of Their innumerable pastimes.”
Sri Radhika, who had been intimately absorbed in the wonderful katha of Her beloved, praised Lalita within Her mind for immersing Her in the nectarean ocean of this lila. Lailta-devi, who
The Pulirulis Take the Remnants of Kunkuma
was already intoxicated by drinking the rasa of Radha Krsna’s pastimes, who was greedy to taste further the soothing balm of the kunkuma-lilas, and who took Sri Radha’s satisfaction as a great source of encouragement, continued, “Now we have positively established that while dayita may be taken by immature scholars as referring to many heroines, we vraja-vdsis know that it refers to only one person. If someone asks who that may be, then we reply, ‘Dayitaya sn-radhaya stanabhyam manditena!’ That heroine is Sri Radha and no one else. By some inconceivable good fortune, the same kunkuma which first decorated Her breasts and then came to reside on Govinda’s lotus feet now beautifies the forest paths of Vrndavana. Who can understand by what austerities this kunkuma has achieved such an exalted status!”
Indulekha, dressed in a scarlet sari, her golden complexion hued green, well known for singing and making kavacas, addressed her friend, “Dear Lalite, please explain to us the qualities by which Sri Krsna becomes known as Urugaya.” At this suggestion Sri Radhika’s effulgent face became further illuminated and She thought, “Yes Lalite, if you want to fully utilize the ample resources given to you by the creator, then by all means please speak about My beloved and quench the thirst of My parched ears.”
Casting a loving glance in the direction of Sri Radha, Lalita said, “Induprabha, you are inquiring about the identity of a noble messenger, Urugaya, whose lotus feet carried the kunkuma powder the immeasurable distance from the breast of our Radha to the bodies of the Pulindis.
“One is called urugdya by those transcendental to the modes of material nature if he is an elevated soul, uru, who is regularly glorified by sublime prayers, gaya. Sri Krsna is uruda giyate gopa:
He is glorified by the songs of the gopas, their affectionate words, and their humorous talks. Without a doubt, they are the most elevated souls of Vraja, and therefore Krsna is well known as Urugaya.
“Sri Krsna’s own behavior confirms His identity as Urugaya. By His extraordinary ability to sing through His flute. He bewilders even the most elevated transcendentalists. Certainly, He alone stands unique with the appellation of Urugaya.”
Anxious that talks of Her prana-natha continue, Sri Radha said
under Her breath, “Tell Me more. My dear. Pulindya purna, how have these wanton girls accomplished satisfaction of their desires and how have they eradicated the torment in their bodies merely by contact with this kunkuma7“
Lalita-devi explained, “While looking towards Sri Krsna as He played His flute, the lusty aborigine girls saw the reddish kunkuma on the ground. When the kunkuma was decorating the gopis’ breasts it had attained the pinnacle of good fortune, but when it touched Sri Hari’s lotus feet, the powder obtained a special loveliness, a kanti-visesa. That unearthly beauty forcibly attracted the minds of the Pulindis and caused them to smear the kunkuma all over their
faces and bodies.”
Rangadevi, whose complexion was reddish like that of a lotus filament, continued, “Tend eva maha-bhusa. The Pulindis are generally not very attractive, and because they walk from forest to forest carrying wood on their heads, they do not wear much decoration or jewelry. However, it appears they have acquired the highest ornamentation by means of the all-opulent kunkuma, and they have achieved subsequent freedom from all mental pain caused by kama, How has all this come about?”
Acknowledging her friend’s statement, Lalita-devi continued, “When the Pulindis first saw the kunkuma they understood it to be the decoration from Sri Radha’s breast. Thinking of Her good fortune, they became afflicted with lust and were unable to tear their eyes from Sri Krsna’s footprints. Tasya trna lagna kunkumena. As they continued to gaze on the beauty of that powder, meditating on the form of Sri Krsna’s lotus feet, they felt immediate relief from the onslaught of Kandarpa and their minds regained their composure.
“Then, like iron attracted by a magnet, their hands became forcibly drawn by its soothing fragrance, and when they touched the kunkuma the fire in their bodies abated further. As they took that divine powder, picking up blades of grass and bits of soil, they first smelted its attractive aroma and then smeared it on their faces as one applies cosmetics. Although the touch of the kunkuma further pacified their lust, the Pulindis were overwhelmed with a greed for its touch. They then smeared it over their breasts and completely relieved themselves of any mental pain.
The Pulindis Take the Remnants of Kunkuma
“In this way, by seeing the kunkuma the aborigine girls satisfied their sense of sight, by touching the kunkuma they satisfied their tactile sense, by smelling the kunkuma they satisfied their olfactory sense, and by smearing it over their bodies they fully satisfied their minds, the seat of all other sensory activity. Thus they achieved complete satisfaction from the torment of Smara, their bodies and minds becoming completely peaceful.” Lowering her face, Lalita concluded, “But we gopis remain here, a victim of that incorporeal Cupid, not able to achieve even a fraction of the Pulindi’s good fortune.”
Seeing the unhappiness growing in Lalita’s heart, which is always entwined with the hearts of her sakhis, and with Her own sorrow thus increasing, Sri Radha directed Her thoughts to Her beloved gopi friend and spoke under Her breath as follows: “Let us hear further about the specialty of this kunkumal As it has satisfied our Pulindis, its glories will no doubt pacify the torment in our hearts.”
Taking Sri Radha’s cue as her only solace, her voice quaking with emotion, Lalita-devi said, “Dear friends, do not consider this kunkuma to be a costly cosmetic readily purchased in the market place. Because it is sri kunkuma it possesses a special opulence that can be likened only to the Goddess of Fortune, Sri.
“If some uneducated person asks of the special opulence of Sriji, we will reply that Her constant service to the lotus feet of Lord Narayana has empowered Her to bestow attachment to His lotus feet. In the same way, this kunkuma powder has the special potency to cause attachment, raga, to the lotus feet of Hari, urugaya-padabja. Thus the Pulindis smear it on their faces and breasts and, giving up the pain of Cupid, they become fully satisfied.”
Incredulous at the special power of this kunkuma powder which, though present on the breasts of all the gopis has not received the final endorsement of Sri Krsna’s lotus feet, a sakhi says, “Sakhi, kunkumena katham-bhutena. I have understood from your talks that when the Pulindis saw the red-stained footprints of Govinda, they remembered His lotus face beautified by His roving eyes and naughty flute. As a result, they became tormented by smara-pidd. In other words, by not obtaining Him these tribal girls
became overwhelmed by mental affliction. Now you say that same kunkuma smeared on their bodies satisfied their lust. SakhT, please clarify the equivocal demeanor of your instructions and set our minds at ease.”
Feeling the reviving elixir of krsna-katha, Lalita-devi replied, “Dearest, it is true that at first sight of the kunkuma the Pulindis became distressed by separation from Krsna. Although feeling great suffering due to their anguish, they very quickly came to understand that their only shelter would be the kunkuma and nothing else. Yena-asesa dnanda sampatma durim tantar adbhutam. As soon as the aborigine girls touched that powder, which was soft, aromatic, imbued with sweetness, and radiating bliss, their miseries evaporated like mist in the sun. They became fully satisfied by touching that which had come in contact with Sri Krsna.
“Remember that Sri also refers to dayita Sri Radha, who has great anuraga for Krsna’s lotus feet, who powders Her breasts with kunkuma to please Him, and who exists only for His continued happiness. This simple cosmetic has acquired such immeasurable potency due to having been the fortunate medium for Radha-Krsna’s mutual expressions of love. 0 fortunate gopis of Vraja, what cannot be achieved by the mercy of this kunkuma?”
The minds of the gopis became stained with the reddish anuraga, which was the kunkuma smeared on the bodies of the Pulindis. Fully absorbed in that pastime, they considered the perfection of their lives was to gain a minute fraction of the Pulindis’ good fortune. Although the gopis were the origin of that powder, in their ecstasy of prema such details had no meaning. Sri Radha, whose pain of separation from Sri Krsna was a million times greater than Her friends’, became restless. She lamented the misfortune of being absent from the Pulindis’ festival of bliss and envisaged them smearing the reddish powder on themselves and each other.
Unable to contain Herself, Her uncontrolled mind running towards that kunkuma, Sri Radha thought, “Aho tat kunkumasya api ayam gopi sakti visesa. Just see the special glory of this kunkuma, which is the exclusive property of these Pulindis and which we have not even once attained in this life.”
Fully absorbed in the fortune of the aborigine girls, Sri Radha
The Pulindis Take the Remnants of Kunkuma
now envisaged Herself in the forest of Vrndavana, smearing the dust of Krsna’s feet over Her golden limbs. As Lalita-devi spoke, Radharani’s ecstasies mounted to ever-newer heights, and She was no longer able to conceal Herself from Her friends. Raising Her lovely voice. Her absorption turned within. She said, “This kunkuma has obtained extraordinary prowess, having obtained the feet of Sri Hari. That special divinity is the fragrance of My beloved’s limbs, which is like a mixture of sandalwood pulp, aguru, musk, and camphor. The eight lotus-like parts of Sri Krsna’s body distribute this fragrance throughout the fourteen worlds, entering the nostrils of women and then making its residence there.
“Capturing the minds of these women, that scent is so attractive that it enchants their bodies and minds, bewilders their nostrils, loosens their belts and hair, brings them completely under its influence, and finally, forcibly delivers them to Krsna. In this way the scent of Krsna’s body is like a plunderer.
“Falling completely under its influence, the nostrils yearn for this aroma continuously, although sometimes they obtain it and sometimes they do not. When they have the good fortune to acquire it, they drink their fill, though they still want more and more. But if they do not have such luck, out of thirst they die. The dramatic actor Madana-mohana has opened a shop of scents that attracts the women of the world as His customers. He delivers the scents freely but then makes the women so blind they cannot find their path home.”
Ranting like a madwoman, Radhika lost Her composure. Being very close to the edge of the tower. She was physically restrained by Her alarmed maidservants and quickly attended to by Her other sakhis. Just then the fragrance of Sri Krsna’s body entered Her nostrils and caused Her body to become stunned and inert. To facilitate absorption in the enchanting aroma of Hart’s limbs, all Her senses took on the faculty of smell and served Her insatiable desire to be fully merged in His fragrance.
Lalita-devi, who now sat beside Sri Radha, her loving arm wrapped around Her shoulder, could understand that her friend had abandoned Her own identity and had fully allied Herself with the aroma of Her beloved, giving up any sense of separate
existence. For a while Radhika appeared listless. Her body immobile and Her beautiful face motionless. Lalita-devi whispered, “This stage of mahabhava is found only in Radhika and it is known as madana. It is the full-blown lotus of prema manifest in the association of Sri Krsna. Now She has exchanged Her identity with the aroma of Her beloved, which is the object of Her attraction and may soon be the vehicle for Her meeting with Hari.”
Many wonderful and heretofore unseen symptoms of ecstasy manifest in the body of the crown-jewel of all cowherd girls, who sat in the midst of Her loving friends in that beautiful tower in the sky on that autumn afternoon at Javat. According to their individual relationships the gopis understood what took place in Sri Radha’s heart and, listening to the narration revealed by their crystal-like minds, they sat quietly absorbed in Her exclusive mood.
In Her swoon of love, Sri Radha saw the many wanton aborigine girls within the forest of Vrndavana, absorbed in a festival of harvesting Sri Hari’s kunkuma footprints. While engaged in this sport, their attachment reaching ever-new heights, the Pulindis saw Sri Krsna among them, standing in His three-fold bending form, holding His flute to His lips, a peacock feather decorating His turban.
To satisfy the burning in their hearts, the Pulindis ran to embrace Govinda, whose transcendental form is the only source of satisfaction for those desiring His company. When they embraced His forceful limbs, felt the touch of His massive arms, and smelled the aroma of His body, the daughters of the Sabaras considered their lives perfect. Their minds and senses fully satisfied, their hearts became peaceful like the ocean at the conclusion of a storm.
As cool tears streamed from Sri Radha’s eyes unto Lalita’s lap, Her pear-like teeth rattled as if they were about to fall. Her body trembled with excitement, and Her skin erupted with goose pimples. Understanding the mind of her sakhi, Lalita spoke as she gently wiped Her tears with a cloth. “Krsna’s footprints, the kunkuma which has touched His feet, and the playing of His flute, like all things related to Him, are an uddipana to increase anurdga, intense attachment. By contact with these things it.is not possible
The Pulindis Take the Remnants of Kunkuma
to satisfy the burning in the hearts of the gopis or pulindi-kanyas. As fuel continually fed to a fire increases its flames, contact with the kunkuma simply increases the smara-ruk of the Pulindis and cannot be accountable for the mental satisfaction they have achieved.
“Only Sri Krsna’s association and the embrace of His snakelike arms can alleviate this burning of the heart and breast. Sakhis, look at the sweet smile on the lips of Sri Radha, see how Her eyes move, full of coquetry, and feel the force of Her bhava cooling your own hearts. Such happiness is possible only in association with Her beloved.
“Whether the Pulindis saw Krsna or not, desiring to smell the fragrance of His limbs, anga saurabha, they have spread that kunkuma on their faces and experienced the enjoyment of sambhoga. As they spread the kunkuma on their breasts they were absorbed in thought of enjoyment with Krsna and thus gave up all affliction and became completely satisfied.”
Speaking thus, Lalita continued to stroke Sri Radhika’s hair and forehead, gazing into the inconceivable beauty of Her peaceful face. The rays of happiness that spread from Sri Radha’s heart illuminated all Her friends, who felt themselves overjoyed, as if they had just gained the association of Hari. That cheerful effulgence continued to spread all around, causing the walls of the moon-tower to gradually melt and the birds sitting on the balustrade to stiffen and fall forward, tears of bliss flowing from their eyes. :
Like the rays of the sun, Radha’s influence spread throughout Vrndavana, making all manner of beings experience unprecedented satisfaction. From there it traversed the world of men and entered the planets of the demigods. Though concerned for their safety from the hands of the demons, the devas became overjoyed and began a great festival of chanting and dancing that was the sankirtana of the holy name.
In Kailasa, Lord Siva was reciting the Bhagavatam to his associates, holding Parvati close to his chest. Jumping high in the air, his trident above his head, he began to dance wildly and chant the holy names of the Lord. In Vaikuntha, Lord Narayana became
overwhelmed with happiness and, while sitting on His throne surrounded by Garuda and Narada, He assumed a form of Syamasundara as Laksmi-devi transformed into Satyabhama. In Goloka Vrndavana, Lord Krsna, who was tending His cows near Govardhana surrounded by many friends, having just passed the habitat of the Pulindis, His feet still smeared with kunkuma, felt the astounding love of His Radhika strike Him like a hurricane. Overwhelmed by Her bhava, He lost all awareness of His identity, and His blackish body turned the color of molten gold as the gopas and cows stood by in amazement.
Leaning forward, Lalita softly chanted the names of Sri Govinda into the delicate ear of Sri Radha, caressing Her body with her loving hands. Gradually, that embodiment of divine love, the unrivaled princess of Vrndavana and the leader of Her sakhis, regained Her external awareness and slowly opened Her eyes, gazing into Lalita’s face. Embarrassed by the attention of Her other friends, Sri Radha gradually regained Her composure and sat up, adjusting Her clothing and straightening Her tresses.
When Radha awoke. She lost the association of Her prana-natha. After experiencing so much happiness in Her swoon. Her external state became a source of unhappiness. Like the shifting winds of a cyclone. Her mood changed. Hot tears welled in Her eyes. Her lovely lips began to tremble, and Her lovely face became lined with sorrow. Her voice quivering with emotion. She said, “Adi-hetutva parama arti sindhu magna. What is this great ocean of distress that has submerged Me in its depths and robbed Me of My very life force? The Pulindis were also drowning in this same distress but were rescued by the kunkuma from the lotus feet of Krsna. Because they have the supreme opulence of this kunkuma, maha-laksmi, it is to be understood that they are the recipients of the special favor of Bhagavan. Thus their lives are spared.
“We gopis are bereft of that life-giving kunkuma and are condemned to drown in our own misery. Indeed, our pain grows by the moment and therefore we are inferior to all living entities.” Casting a plaintive glance into the eyes of Her friends, she cried, “Sakhis, if Sri Krsna does not care for us but abandons us like straw to play with His friends, can we not take birth as Pulindis and gain the kunkuma from His lotus feet?”
The Pulindis Take the Remnants of Kunkuma
Receiving only silence as an answer, Radha held Visakha’s hands and pleaded, “If we cannot become Pulindis, can we become that grass of Vrndavana, the carpet upon which Govinda continually treads, receiving the decoration of His kunkuma on our heads?”
The overwhelming silence of the universe struggled with the weight of Radharani’s mohana-mahabhava and echoed the beating of Her heart as its only song. Casting Her face to the ground. She cried, “Neither will we become Pulindis, nor the grass of Vraja, what to speak of a dayita who experiences His nectarine touch. Friends, we are suffering for our great sin! We have loved Krsna too much, and the fire of that kdma is now consuming our bodies and minds. But fear not, both will soon be reduced to ashes and dust.”
As Sri Radha drew a great sigh of unhappiness, the entire creation expanded and then contracted. Those living entities from Patala to Vaikuntha who felt great happiness earlier were plunged into an inexplicable ocean of distress. Their hearts overwhelmed with sorrow, their faces pale and drawn, everyone felt as if their lives had become a meaningless burden. Even Anantadeva, His many tongues silent, lay His innumerable coils to the ground, about to abandon the multitude of universes resting on His hoods.
Understanding that all existence was about to merge into Sri Radha’s unbearable sorrow and that all living entities would soon abandon their lives in misery, Lalita-devi took Radhika’s hand in hers and, gently rubbing them, said, “Priye, do You think that Sri Krsna, whose butter-soft heart melts with affection for You, who meditates on You incessantly and who keeps Your name on the tip of His tongue, is not at this moment searching for the pathway that leads to You?
“Look in the direction of that dust cloud raised by the hooves of Nanda Maharaja’s herd. Behold Your beloved. His forehead decorated with pearls of perspiration. His hair showered with the dust of Vrndavana, His turban tilted on His forehead. His hair adorned with many flowers, walking like a baby elephant, with His flute pressed to His lips.”
Hearing the description of Lord Krsna, Radhika stood up on the verandah, casting shame and shyness to the wind, anxious for a glimpse of Her beloved. It was the time of uttara gosthim. The cowherd boys slowly made their way back to Nandagoan, driving
the cows before them, entertaining Gopala by their smiling, jokes, rivalry, and play, making Javat the path by which they would reach their destination.
As the wonderful Krsna-sun rose in Javat, the lotus eyes of the gopis bloomed, their lily-like smiles blossomed, their bodies perspired like moonstones, and their hearts cooled in the shade of His presence. Sri Radhika thought, “0 Lajya-devi (shame), if you do not leave My entire body forever, then just leave the corner of My eyes for a second so that I can just once taste the nectar of Sri Krsna’s sweet lotus face.
“0 cloud of bliss who shares the complexion of My beloved and protects Him from the glare of the sun, be pleased with Me; please do not obstruct My vision.
“0 Cupid, I fall at your feet. In exchange for all My pious deeds, do not make Me shake anymore; give Me the boldness to lift My eyes just once to look at My beloved Sri Krsna.”
Just at that time Sri Krsna came within Radhika’s vision and She became visible to His ever-roving eyes. The gopis repeatedly gazed at His lotus face as their bodies absorbed the breeze that touched His body, their noses inhaled His bodily fragrance, their ears drank the sound of His happy flute, and their lips tasted the nectar of His bimbo, fruit lips. In this way, the joy of their five senses increased unlimitedly.
Sri Radhika thought to Herself, “Is this a tamala tree, a roving cloud, or a moving sapphire sprout? Is it a mountain peak of collyrium, a swarm of black bees, or the wayward stream of the Yamuna? Have the glances of the doe-eyed gopis created a cluster of blue lotus flowers which now makes its way to the fortunate path of My eyes?”
Incredulous at the vision before Her, Sri Radha interrogated Her mind in happiness. “Can this be Cupid?” She thought. “No, because the god of love has no body and is named Ananga! Is this the king of spiritual flavors? No, because that king is not righteous! Is this a blooming desire tree of divine love? No, because such a tree cannot move!” Her body trembling like a flower in the wind, She concluded, “Could this be My beloved entering the vision of My eyes? Could I truly be that fortunate?”
The Pulindis Take the Remnants of Kunkuma
Speaking aloud, Radha addressed Visakha, “0 Visakhe! Tell Me the truth! Is My lover coming before My bee-like eyes like a lotus flower, or am I dreaming once again, only to be awakened to an ocean of sorrow?” Visakha felt horripilation all over her body when questioned by Radhika, whose voice faltered and whose eyes became restless in fear of Her joking girlfriends.
Visakha said, “0 fair-faced one! Your lover, who is the nice musk tilaka on Your forehead, the pictures of musk drawn on Your breasts, the musk drop on Your chin, the beautiful black collyrium on Your eyelids, the blue lotus flowers on Your ears and in Your Hair, has now come before You to give You satisfaction. Open Your eyes wide and relish the good fortune fate has bestowed upon You!”
While walking among His cows and friends, Sri Krsna’s eyes roved over the housetops of Javat, absorbed in the sight of innumerable gopis. Although they were all beautifully dressed and although they were more beautiful than the goddess Laksmi, He continued to search the path which led to the vision of one whose momentary glance could satisfy all His desires. The nectar stream of the gopis’ brightly smiling faces could not quench Krsna’s insatiable thirst as could a mere ray of Radhika’s sweet, nectarean smile.
When Govinda caught sight of His beloved surrounded by Her sakhis on the summit of the moon-tower. He became overwhelmed with joy and doubted the accuracy of His vision. Intoxicated at the prospect of seeing Radhika, Sri Krsna thought, “Is this the family goddess of luster, the goddess of youthful beauty, the opulence of sweetness personified, a flood of elegance, a river of bliss, a stream of nectar, or could it be My beloved who gives joy to all of My i, senses?”
As the red Sarasvati-stream of Krsna’s glance combined with I the blue Yamuna-stream of Radhika’s glance, they mixed and I turned as white as the current of the Ganga. The Triveni in which I Radha and Krsna’s elephant-like hearts united then caused the | lotus flowers of the gopis’ eyes to blossom.
The arrow of Sri Radhika’s glance pierced Sri Krsna’s heart, and His whole body became afflicted as if overcome by fever. His
limbs became stunned. His turban fell from His head. His flute dropped from His hands and, unable to move. He fell like a tre6 into Baladeva’s arms. Consoling Him with kind words, those boys whose existence was their sakha’s happiness took Krsna home, promising a meeting with His beloved at the close of the day.
Sri Radha drowned in the unprecedented happiness of that moment. Wishing to show Her appreciation for its kindness. She desired to worship that second with great pomp and eclat. However, being indiscriminate in his reign, time forced that instant to give way to the next, which in the absence of Her beloved looked like a great desert with no end, no oasis, no hope, and no love. In such circumstances. She was unable to perform Her puja and, due to that land’s heat of separation, Radhika collapsed into the arms of Her sakhis. Consoling Her with a future meeting with Govinda, the gopis carried Sri Radha to Her chambers and attended to Her paralysis and other symptoms of separation.
To restrain Her uncontrolled mind which had fled in search of Sri Krsna once again, Lalita-devi sat beside Radhika’s couch and began to clap her hands. In a voice as sweet as a cuckoo she began to sing the kirtana of Radha and Krsna’s names, which was the sure elixir to revive their sakhi. As Visakha played a mrdanga, Indulekha played cymbals, and Tungavidya twanged her vma, the sound of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare engulfed the room in bliss and, streaming out the window, reassured all the animals of Vraja that their presiding Deity would soon be well.
Having comforted the animals, that transcendental sound vibration continued towards Nandagoan and entered the ears of Sri Krsna who, still immobile, was being carried home by His friends. When the sound of Sri Radha’s name entwined with His own penetrated His heart, Sri Krsna felt as if She had entered His embrace and experienced the cooling touch of Her limbs. Springing into the air with great energy, Sri Krsna shouted, “Hare Hare!” again and again and, dancing down the road to Nanda-grama to the amusement of His brother and friends. He sported in the ocean of love that sprang from the heart of His beloved.
In this way, the moments of time that are free from the influence
The Pulindis Take the Remnants of Kunkuma
of time but still disguise themselves as such, under the will of the Divine, like a metronome that keeps pace of pastimes and counts the unlimited happiness that always overflows the shores of that limitless land, Vrndavana, observed another exchange of love between the divine couple under the influence of the song of the flute.
This concludes the twelfth chapter of The Song of the Flute, by a very insignificant disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, wherein there is no further reference to the flute or the beauty of Sri Krsna, but the bewilderment of the gopis is caused by the inconceivable glories of the kunkuma which adorns the raised breasts of our dayita, Sri Radhika, the embodiment of mahabhava, who carefully held the lotus feet of Sri Krsna to Her heart, which then adopted that vermilion powder as its own treasure while adding an additional beauty to it, and when Govinda walked by the side of Govardhana Hill, this kunkuma beautified His customary footprints on the soil, grass, and stones of Vraja and gave mercy to the low-caste Pulindi girls who, by possessing anuraga, were more fortunate than the clouds and greedily collected that special powder under the influence of lust and, smelling it, smeared their faces and bodies, becoming fully satiated, although such ud.dvpa.na should increase their kama, not quell it, which left the gopis to conclude that Urugaya, who is glorified by the songs of the gopas, had accompanied that kunkuma and gave personal satisfaction to the Pulindis, thereby leaving the gopis to question the austerities leading to such great fortune and how they could gain a drop of that kunkuma, although in reality they were its origin.