Hari-katha Articles The Agony of Departure - Govinda Lilamrta

The Agony of Departure – Govinda Lilamrta

The end of nisanta-lila gives great pain to the Divine Couple. The Divine Couple cannot tolerate being separated from each other’s arms. After rasa-lila­—singing, dancing, wandering on the bank of the Yamuna and swimming in her waters­—the manjaris and sakhis arranged a resting place for Radha-Krishna in a solitary bower decorated with flowers. There the Divine Couple rest together. But, when the morning comes, They have to separate. This separation is very painful. They cannot tolerate the burning torment of separating from each other in nisanta-lila.

In a solitary forest grove, Radha-Krishna lie in an embrace—face pressed against face, chest to chest and arms around each other’s neck. The night is ending as morning approaches. Large male bumblebees come buzzing into the kunja, followed by gently whirring female honeybees­—just like the appearance of Kamadeva with his wife Rati. They try to arouse the Divine Couple from Their slumber of bliss by the sweet song of their humming, like the strumming of Cupid’s lute. But Radha-Krishna remain snugly entwined, pretending to be asleep, unwilling to leave each other. To wake a sleeping person is easy, but to arouse those pretending to sleep is very difficult. Parrots and cuckoos sit on branches of nearby trees and chirp merrily, singing of the loving pastimes of Radha-Krishna in their own language. The Divine Couple slowly stir, feeling great pain and dread at heart. A faint tinge of red light creeps into the kunja from the eastern horizon, signaling the rising of the sun on his way to chastise the Lovers. He comes to punish, torture and burn the Divine Couple by making Them depart separate ways.

Srimati hesitantly lifts Her arms from around the neck of Krishna. Her bangles chime, making a sound like cymbals, thus joining in the forest ensemble — jhanjhara kansara ghanta sankha karatala — accompanying the birds and other associates of Vrinda-devi, who perform the woefully sweet service of waking the Divine Couple. Krishna hears this chiming and laments, “Alas, I will have to leave.” Radha-Krishna regretfully sit up, disentangling Their limbs, but Their limbs are not satisfied and want to embrace each other more.
The sun is antagonistic to the Divine Couple’s union. He comes to torment and chastise Them. He is the cause of Their parting and the intense burning They feel in Their hearts. The sun’s illumination is not merely an inert source of light or heat. The sun’s brilliance and fierce heat is a form of Radha-Krishna’s love for each other. He is born from the burning agony of separation the Divine Couple feel, knowing They must part in the day. When night approaches, Radha-Krishna’s hearts cool with the knowledge They will soon be together without inhibition. This mood in Their hearts manifests outwardly as the moon.

The eastern direction at sunrise is like old relatives who slept at night but now arise with the coming of day and search for their dependents. The pangs felt then by Radha-Krishna are like those a youthful pair of lovers experience when interrupted by the approach of old relatives into the privacy of their meeting.

The kirtana in nisanta-lila signals Them, “Now You should wake. It is not the time to sleep. All want to see You and meet with You. All Vrajavasis are beggars for Your affection and darsana.”

Radha-Krishna’s viraha is understood by Suka, Sari and other birds favorable to madhurya-rasa, like the peacocks and cuckoos. Therefore, Param Gurudeva wrote: mayura sukadi sari kata pikaraja. These birds perform their duty of awaking the Divine Couple with sweet melody — mangala jagara hetu kariche viraja — singing of Radha-Krishna’s pure love and the agony of Their separation. Param Gurudeva wrote while absorbed in meditation on nisanta-lila: mangala sri guru-gaura mangala murati mangala sri radha-krishna yugala piriti. Who will explain Radha-Krishna’s loving meetings and longing in separation? The female bees come to Krishna and sing to Him of Srimati’s beauty, qualities, glory and grace, while the male bees and parrots describe Krishna’s glories to Radharani. The animals serving in madhurya-rasa can also not tolerate the Divine Couple’s separation. Therefore they sing with an intense burning pain within, as Bhaktivinoda Thakura prays:

sri krishna-virahe, radhikara dasa, ami to’ sahite nari
yugala-milana, sukhera karana, jivana chadite pari


“I am absolutely unable to tolerate Sri Radhika’s pitiable condition when She is suffering in separation from Sri Krishna, but I am fully prepared to immediately give up my life for the sake of Their happy reunion.”

The bees sing to Krishna, “O Govinda, You are the bee who relishes the honey-like hearts of the vraja-ramanis, who are like lotuses. I give obeisance to You, O Govinda, who increase the ananda of Nanda. Don’t forget. The Vrajavasis are all remembering You and becoming hopeless and in danger of losing their life in Your absence. Thus You should arise and give them darsana. Please bestow Your kind glance on Vraja — subha drishti kara ebe jagatera prati. Don’t sleep now. Wherever You go, You become absorbed in the rasa of Your devotees’ own loving moods. When You meet with Your parents and the mothers of Vraja, You lose Yourself in their love;when You meet with Your boyhood friends, You become absorbed in their love for You. But what will happen to the gopis?

“O Govinda,” the bees sing, “You are the one and only refuge of the Vrajavasis. They will die without You. You alone can understand their anuraga. But who to satisfy and who to neglect? Who can understand the pain in the heart of a lover separated from her beloved? Only You can understand this, Krishna. But by meeting with Your mother, You will forget the gopis’ distress for the time You are with her. Yasoda will perform Your arati with the fathomless love in her heart — mangala arati jage bhakata hridaye. But when You leave, the gopis will suffer so much. When You rest with Your beloveds, the other living entities lie in sleep — tomara nidraya jiva nidrita dharaya — but when You arise, the whole world wakes and attains welfare — tava jagarane visva jagarita haya. But, at that time, the gopis wither in separation from You. Don’t forget about them when You are soothing the hearts of Your other devotees. You should make some arrangement throughout the day to meet with the Vraja-devis.”

The bumblebees remind Krishna, “When You leave, what will be the condition of Srimati? Don’t forget Her when You go off grazing the cows.”

The bees remind Krishna of this. If He forgets, then all day long the gopis will be separated from Him. How will they tolerate this? It is not so easy. Viraha is an intense, burning pain, difficult to tolerate for even a moment. Hence, Mahaprabhu prayed in the mood of Srimati:

yugayitam nimeshena
cakshusha pravrishayitam
sunyayitam jagat sarvam
govinda-virahena me

Sikshashtaka 7

“O Sakhi, in separation from Govinda, even a moment seems like a millennium to Me. Tears pour from My eyes like torrents of rain in the monsoon season, and this entire world seems void to Me.”

In the absence of Krishna, the gopis’ distress knows no bounds. Their moods are expressed by Bhaktivinoda Thakura:

sakhi go kemane dhariba parana
nimesha haila yugera samana

sravanera dhara, ankhi varishaya,
sunya bhela dharatala

govinda-virahe, prana nahi rahe,
kemane vanciba bala

“O Friend, this entire universe has begun to appear void. Streams of tears flow from my eyes like torrents of rain during the month of Sravana. O Sakhi, the life air within this body has become very restless and agitated. I feel that my life is about to come to an end.How shall I go on? In separation from Govinda, a single moment appears like hundreds of millenniums.”

The moods of Srimati and the sakhis and manjaris in separation from Krishna are understood by the bumblebees and honeybees. They are favorable to sringara-rasa. Others do not understand their language. When they glorify Radha-Krishna, those of other rasas are not able to fathom their meaning. The bees only eat honey; therefore their hearts are sweet like honey, and they are favorable to madhurya-rasa.

The worker honeybees serve their king and queen bees without ever having intercourse. They work all day long, collecting honey, and offer all the results of their labor to the king and queen bees. Thus the honeybees are favorable to sringara-rasa. They do everything for the happiness of their queen, Radharani, like Her manjaris.

The bumblebees buzz around everywhere; but when they drink honey, they become intoxicated and fall into a trance in the lotus flowers, where they stay resting day and night. If anyone makes a place for Krishna in his heart, Krishna shall enter that heart and never leave. If Krishna accepts anyone as His own, Krishna will never give that person up. This is the nature of God’s love and His relationship with His devotees.

As Radha-Krishna depart from the nikunja, the sun-god spreads a net of rays over the land, blocking the Divine Couple from being able to return to Their forest bower. When all places are illuminated, how can They hide Their secret love from the world? When the sun spreads his network of rays, Radha-Krishna cannot change Their minds and return to the kunja.

There is a bird called the Cakravaki. At night, the male and female Cakravaki birds fly to either side of a lake and cry out for each other the whole night in separation. But they don’t come together and meet. When morning comes, the Cakravaki partners return to each other’s company. But at night they separate. Such are the mysteries of love. Where there is very great love, the lover thinks, “May my beloved not become disturbed by my activities. May I not do anything to displease him.” Out of fear of displeasing the beloved, she goes some distance.

When Radharani departs the kunja kutira and is on the way to Her home, so that no one will give any attention towards Her direction, the sakhas in Nanda-bhavana begin playing many instruments like drums, cymbals, flutes, mridangas and so forth. Why? To attract everyone’s attention to Krishna and Nandagoan, keeping their focus away from Srimati returning home to Yavata; thus the sakhas begin kirtana: jhanjhara kansara ghanta sankha karatala, mangala mridanga baje parama rasala. Then the pathway is free of people, and Srimati returns to Yavata with the sakhis.

Also, hearing this sound of the sakhas playing instruments, the sakhis and manjaris understand Krishna has safely reached Nanda-bhavana without being discovered. Otherwise, the gopis fear Yasoda will wake and see Krishna is not in His room and will begin to think, “Where is Krishna? Where did He spend the night?”

The sakhis have some apprehension, afraid that Yasoda Mata may get some doubt in her mind. Krishna went home, but His cloth was all disarranged and wrinkled. When meeting with Srimati, the cloth was an obstacle; They could not tolerate any separation between Themselves. Their cloth had become wrinkled from rubbing against each other. But when the sakhis hear the jhanjhara kansara sound, they feel relief, “Krishna is back safe. Krishna will be preparing to bathe now.”

When Krishna goes to milk cows, He changes His cloth. Then the gopis fear, “Seeing the cloth He wore during the night, Yasoda might suspect something.” Why? There is sindhura, alta and kunkuma on His cloth. Sometimes Krishna wipes the face and body of Srimati with His cloth when She is sweating profusely. Then the cloth is imbued with the divine fragrance from Srimati Radharani’s body. Sometimes He strokes Her bosom, and kunkuma comes onto His hands and cloth. The sakhis then fear Yasoda would discover Krishna’s affairs by seeing the indications of their meetings on His cloth and body.

The sakhas, dasa-bhaktas and vatsalya associates of Krishna begin to sing outside. Krishna left His old cloth and, wearing a simple cloth around His waist, came out and gave darsana to everyone. When they hear the sounds of this arati going on, the sakhis become somewhat relieved. In the meantime, theyenter Krishna’s room and take away the cloth He had worn during pastimes in the kunja.

Krishna has come home and begun milking the cows, preparing for going to the forest, but He cannot forget the sweet embrace of Srimati in the kunja.

The parrots have been trained by Srimati to sing the pastimes of Krishna. No others can understand their language and meanings—only Radharani, Krishna and those favorable to sringara-rasa.

Love seems sweet and simple, but when lovers have to part, it becomes very difficult for them to live. Although Krishna moves around and performs pastimes with the devotees of other rasas, He does everything in a dream-like state, internally absorbed in remembrance of Srimati. The parrots want to bring Krishna out of His contemplative state, otherwise He cannot do anything.

The ananda-rasa of meeting is very hard to give up or forget. In this world, after lovers meet with each other, their minds and bodies become as if emptied and some bitterness comes, but the aftermath of meeting is not like that in the spiritual world. Whatever rasa or ananda there is there is unlimited. The love there only swells higher and higher– it never diminishes. This ananda increases like an ever-swelling ocean.

Suka does kirtana of the Divine Couple’s meeting, telling Krishna, “O, You embraced Your beloved to Your chest, pressing all Your limbs against Hers.” Hearing this, Krishna feels some shyness.

Suka sings to Krishna, “Now come to Your senses. Give up absorption on Your pastimes with Srimati.” If Krishna doesn’t come to His external senses, His further pastimes will be obstructed by His intense remembrance of Srimati.

On the other side, as the sakhis take Radharani to Yavata, Srimati suddenly stops on the pathway. The sakhis pull Her forward and say, “Chalo!” — but She doesn’t move. Why? She has seen a dark Tamala tree and then runs and embraces it.

The gopis plead to Her, “Chalo, the sun has risen. Light is coming.” But bringing Her out of Her meditative state is very difficult. Love is such a thing.

Suka, Sari and the other birds try to bring Radha-Krishna from Their state of contemplation. Therefore, Param Gurudeva wrote: mayura sukadi sari kata pikaraja mangala jagara hetu kariche viraja.

Radha-Krishna perform Their activities, but it is as if They are not there, fully concentrating on each other, having forgotten the external world.

When Srimati reaches Yavata, Her friends say, “Radhe, rest for a while. You must be very tired.”

They go to massage Her feet and console Her separation, but She says, “Don’t disturb Me. Go churn yogurt.”

The sakhis tell Her, “It is not good to act like this. Jatila will become suspicious.”

Offered in remembrance of Srila Gurudeva
Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja

[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]

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