I watched as they ruptured,
ash black and pallid I saw mountainous clouds
split and spew rain
for two hours.
Everywhere water, plants and rainwater,
a riot of green on the earth.
My lover’s gone off
to some foreign country,
sopping wet at our doorway
I watch the clouds rupture.
Mira says, nothing can harm him.
This passion has yet
to be slaked.
- Mirabai (16th c.)
The Dark One threw me a glance like a dagger today.
Since that moment, I am insane; I can’t find my body.
The pain has gone through my arms and legs, and I can’t find my mind.
At least three of my friends are completely mad.
I know the thrower of daggers well; he enjoys roving the woods.
The partridge loves the moon; and the lamplight pulls in the moth.
You know, for the fish, water is precious; without it, the fish dies.
If he is gone, how shall I live? I can’t live without him.
Go and speak to the dagger-thrower: Say, Mira belongs to you.
- Mirabai (16th c.)
Ye others cannot conceive of the love that I bear to Krishna. And your warnings to me are vain like the pleadings of the deaf and mute. The Boy who left his mother’s home and was reared by a different mother, — Oh, take me forth to his city of Mathura where He won the field without fighting the battle and leave me there.
Of no further avail is modesty. For all the neighbours have known of this fully. Would ye really heal me of this ailing and restore me to my pristine state? Then know ye this illness will go if I see Him, the maker of illusions, the youthful one who measured the world. Should you really wish to save me, then take me forth to his home in the hamlet of the cowherds and leave me there.
The rumour is already spread over the land that I fled with Him and went the lonely way, leaving all of you behind — my parents, relations and friends. The tongue of scandal ye can hardly silence now. And He, the deceiver, is haunting me with his forms. Oh, take me forth at midnight to the door of the Cowherd named Bliss who owns this son, the maker of havoc, this mocker, this pitiless player; and leave me there.
Oh, grieve not ye, my mothers. Others know little of this strange malady of mine. He whose hue is that of the blue sea, a certain youth called Krishna — the gentle caress of his hand can heal me, for his Yoga is sure and proved.
On the bank of the waters he ascended the Kadamba tree and he leaped to his dance on the hood of the snake, the dance that killed the snake. Oh take me forth to the bank of that lake and leave me there.
There is a parrot here in this cage of mine that ever calls out his name, saying ‘Govinda, Govinda.’ In anger I chide it and refuse to feed it. ‘O Thou’ it then cries, in its highest pitch, ‘O Thou who hast measured the worlds.’ I tell you, my people, if ye really would avoid the top of scandal in all this wide country, if still ye would guard your weal and your good fame, then take me forth to his city of Dwaraka of high mansion and decorated turrets; and leave me there." - Andal (8th c.), translated from the original Tamil by Sri Aurobindo
86 O Sri Radha, O beautiful girl of the forest groves, when will You place Your glance of mercy on me? I yearn to attain the wonderful nectar of eternal service to You, service that the young girls of Vraja, who celebrate a festival of love that fills Laksmi, Sukadeva, Narada and all the demigods, saints and sages with wonder, attained by Your mercy.
87 When, by Radha’s mercy, will I become Her maidservant? When will I massage Her beautiful lotus feet as She sleeps? When, again and again tasting the nectar of the very sweet remnants of Her meal, will I become plunged into the ever-new ecstasy of transcendental bliss?
88 O Radha, if You affectionately show me to Your beloved, who walks on the path of debauchery, then please hear how I will faithfully serve You. With smiling sidelong glances, and with the hairs of my body standing up with joy, I will tightly embrace Your beloved. In this way I will taste the nectar of service to Your feet.
89 “You like the dark sky when the moon is waning, the newly blossoming blue lotus, the black deer, the dark tamala tree, the dark monsoon clouds, and the dark Yamuna river. Why, then, do You dislike charming Krsna, who is so like them in name and form?” Will I see You smile, O Radha, as I speak these words?
90 I meditate on the girls of Vraja as they follow Sri Radha, their eyes like blue lotus flowers tossed to and fro by waves of playful glances, Their breasts like pairs of golden mountains flying in the sky, and their feet like blossoming lotus flowers suddenly planted in the ground.
81 I offer my respectful obeisances to the great souls who, renouncing all fruitive work, not attached even to devotional service to the Supreme Lord, and living the most wonderful and sweet life, always meditate on Sri Radha, who is filled with the joy of pure love and glorious with the splendour of the wonderful sweetness of youth.
82 Who are these fools who, because of their spiritual master’s order, do not mark their shoulders with the conch, cakra, and other symbols, do not draw a temple of Lord Hari on their foreheads, and do not wear splendid tulasi necklaces around their necks?
83 The devotees may perform Vedic rituals or not perform them. The devotees who taste the wonderful secret nectar of devotional service may accept flower garlands and other things pleasing to the senses, or they may reject them. What foolish non-devotees, who wander aimlessly in this world, have the right to question the actions of Sri Radha’s dear devotees, whose hearts have travelled to the farther shore of pure love?
84 Why talk of material things? Why fear millions of hells? I do not fear impersonal liberation. Why should I become mad, like Sukadeva Gosvami and a host of others, after worshipping the Supreme Lord? I would rather that my mind plunges into the nectar at Sri Radha’s feet.
85 I cannot forget Sri Radha’s beauty, the splendour of Her new youth, Her wonderful and sweet waterpot breasts, the sweetness of Her bimba-fruit lips, Her smile, Her words or Her playful motions.
76 When, in the early morning, will I remove the yellow garment and replace it with another, run to the forest to reclaim the lost bodice, again tie Your braids, again string the broken pearl-necklace, decorate Your eyes with mascara, and, O heroine, with coloured ointment conceal the wounds on Your limbs?
77 My restless eyes yearn to embrace the eternally youthful form that is filled with the sweet nectar of pure love, that is seen only in Vrndavana, that the Upanisads, which stay at the head of all the Vedas, cannot describe, and that Siva, Sukadeva, all the demigods and sages cannot find in their meditations.
78 The four goals of life, which begin with material piety, may be glorious to some people, but I think they are useless. Why should I waste my time talking about them? Other people may place on their heads the path of devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I am still not interested. The only thing that pleases my heart is the nectar that is service to a wonderful jewel like girl who stays deep in Vrndavana forest. Nothing else pleases my heart.
79 I serve Radha, who is the heart of the sweetest and most splendid love, who is the highest limit of skill in transcendental amorous pastimes, who is the goddess worshipped by the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, who is the supreme goddess, who appears as Durga and Saci, whose form is full of bliss, who is the Lord’s first potency, who is supremely independent, and who is the first consort of Vrndavana’s master.
80 Persons who avoid service to Radha, but yearn to attain Lord Krsna’s company, are like persons seeking moonlight without the moon. Persons who do not understand that Radha is the spring from which the nectar waves of love for Krsna flow can attain only one single drop, and no more, of the great ocean of nectar.
Frederick Horniman purchased this papier-maché figure in 1894 during a three-month tour of India and Ceylon. It is from Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), a city named after the goddess Kali, derived from ‘Kali Ghat’ meaning ‘Kali’s steps’.
The figure depicts Kali, the mother goddess and consort of Shiva, accompanied by a jackal. Kali personifies death and destruction. She is depicted with blood-red eyes, her tongue lolling out of her mouth to catch blood, and four arms. Kali holds a curved sword in one hand, the severed head of a demon in another, with her remaining two hands raised in blessing. Kali wears a necklace of severed heads and a girdle of severed hands. She is standing on Shiva, who clutches a discus in one hand and has snakes wrapped around his arms and waist. Both Kali and Shiva have a third eye in their foreheads.
71 The crest jewel of all beautiful girls is now manifest deep in Vrndavana forest, a girl who is the devotees’ cintamani jewel, a girl who is a jewel streaming the nectar of great bliss, a girl who with the slightest amorous signal from Her eyebrows bewilders He who is the jewel of Vraja.
72 Sri Radha, whose waves of sidelong glances gave birth to many millions of Kamadevas proudly standing with twanging archers’ bows, and who, in the first entrance of youth has become wonderful and glorious with limitless floods of the greatest sweetness, is our queen.
73 Brahma, Siva, and the demigods are not qualified to place on their heads even a single particle of dust from Radha’s feet. Even so, they who take shelter of the gopis in the course of time eventually attain Sri Radha, who is the great treasure of the nectar ocean of love. O destiny, I bow down before you.
74 Let the affectionate relatives stay far away. Let the friends and servants stay far away. How can anyone approach? In a forest grove King Vrsabhanu’s daughter now enjoys pastimes with Her passionate lover. Standing at the doorway, I, Her dear maidservant, will hear the tinkling of the ornaments at Her waist.
75 O Sri Radha, in my heart may I always see in meditation the softness of Your fair limbs, the sweetness of Your smile, the longness of the corners of Your eyes, the heaviness of Your breasts, the slenderness of Your waist, the slow grace of Your steps, the broadness of Your hips, the curve of Your eyebrows, the redness of Your bimba-fruit lips, and the coolness of the nectar in Your heart.
The princes were eager for a fight. They stood vigilantly by Viśvāmitra’s side as he sat silently meditating upon the sacrificial hymns. Rāma leaned on his great bow, which stood almost as tall as Him. Lakṣman held in His hand a shining blue sword, its golden handle impressed with bright gems.
As the sixth night approached and the final rituals were being performed, the sacrificial fire suddenly blazed forth furiously. A loud clamor came from the sky, which was covered over by clouds. Swooping down upon that sacrifice, the two Rākṣasa demons Maricha and Subahu, appeared from the sky. They were accompanied by their fierce and terrible looking followers. As they spread their sorcery, torrents of blood and pus, as well as large pieces of flesh, fell upon the altar. Blazing fires sprang from the earth and hot coals flew everywhere.
Shrieking horribly, the Rākṣasas danced about, wreaking havoc. The hermits fell back, but this time they were not fearful. Viśvāmitra quickly stood up. It was time for these evil beings to receive their just deserts. They had defiled his sacrifice once too often. They would not do so again. Gathering the other ascetics, Viśvāmitra moved aside and ordered Rāma to attack the Rākṣasas.
Rāma became infuriated upon seeing the scene of devastation. He rushed forward toward the Rākṣasas, calling to His brother, “Watch now as I scatter these wicked demons who feed on raw flesh.”
Even as he spoke, Rāma continuously worked His bow. He sent swift arrows in all directions. The Rākṣasas were stunned; they had not expected any resistance. Some of them closed quickly on Rāma, covering Him on all sides. Rāma released arrows with deadly accuracy and speed. The Rākṣasas were cut to pieces. Rāma looked for Maricha. Seeing his huge form nearby, tearing at the sacrificial altar, Rāma invoked a celestial weapon. He placed it on His bow and, although still feeling furious, he calmly said to Lakṣman. “I shall release the Manava weapon, presided over by the father of the gods, Manu.”
Rāma angrily fired His weapon at the fearsome, roaring Maricha. The demon was struck by the mighty missile and he was lifted and flung a distance of eight hundred miles, landing in the ocean. Although reeling and struck senseless by Rāma’s arrow, Maricha was not killed. Rāma looked at Lakṣman. “See the force of that weapon, My brother. It easily hurled the demon to a vast distance.”
Rāma and Lakṣman continuously discharged flaming arrows at the other Rākṣasas. Imbued with mystic power one arrow expanded into thousands. It appeared as if a continuous line of shafts was leaving Rāma’s bow, so fast was His movement. The Rākṣasas screamed in pain. Some of them vanished and others fell dead on the ground. Some entered the earth while others flew into the sky.
Regrouping, a large number of the demons rushed down from the sky towards the princes. They hurled lances, iron maces, massive rocks and blazing coals. Rāma and Lakṣman stood firm, parrying that shower of weapons with Their arrows. Tightly grasping His golden bow, Rāma said to His brother, “Fear not Lakṣman, for I shall now swiftly deal with these blood-sucking demons. They are wicked and merciless and always given to sinful acts. This indeed shall be the last sacrifice they defile.”
Having said this to His brother, Rāma moved with agility, evading the rocks thrown by the demons. He invoked the weapon presided over by the god of fire, Agni. Fired from Rāma’s fully extended bow, the weapon hit the Rākṣasa Subahu full upon the chest. His heart torn apart, he fell dead on the ground like an uprooted tree. Rāma then invoked the Vāyu-astra, the powerful wind weapon. He fired it and a roaring gale went towards the Rākṣasas. They were blown away like so many pieces of dust and debris. Those who were not killed by that weapon fled for their lives.