Book review - Śrī Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta by Viśvanātha Cakravartipāda.
Published by Bhṛgunāth Mishra, Vrindavan, 2007
Published by Bhṛgunāth Mishra, Vrindavan, 2007
To my knowledge, this is the first Bengali edition of Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanamṛta since the one of Rādhikānāth Gosvami from 1903 (not counting its partial inclusion in the Bhāvanā Sāra Saṅgraha from Haribol Kutir in the 1970s), though some years ago I saw pamphlets on the walls of Rādhākund advertising a new Bengali edition available from Gopīnāth Gherā in Vrindāvan. However, I never got my hands on that one. Śrī Bhṛgunātha Miśra is himself not a Bengali but had several Bengali bhaktas working on this most excellent edition, which is packed with extras - a Sanskrit ṭīkā by Viśvanātha's disciple Kṛṣṇadeva Sārvabhauma and many elaborate footnotes with padānuvādas from all the famous padakartās like Govinda Dās, Uddhava Dās and Rāy Śekhar, definitions from the rasa śāstras and elaborate descriptions of all the sakhīs, sakhās, pitās and mātās of Vraja. The Bengali verse prose translation dates from 1919 and is done by Madhusūdan Vācaspati, aka Madhusūdan Dās Adhikārī, who also wrote commentaries on Rādhārasa Sudhānidhi, partly translated by yours truly. Many comments in the footnotes are from an unknown source but it is presumed that they are also from Madhusūdan Vācaspati. For properly understanding the following notes it is highly recommended to have a copy of my English translation of Kṛṣṇa Bhavanamrita at hand.
I personally think that Viśvanātha's puns linking madhura līlā with jñāna and yoga in chapter two are not so attractive and inciting.
Kṛṣṇadeva Sarvabhauma comments on 3.4: rādhāyāḥ svatantra vāsa-sthānaṁ - "Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja made a mansion for Rādhā's independent residence (on the yard of Abhimanyu)."
3.8 sarvādau peṭikodghaṭanañca vastrālaṅkārādi darśanārtham. tāsāṁ svabhāva eva - "It is the nature of the kinkaris to first open the trunk to check the garments and ornaments."
3.10 remains troublesome to me - vyatividhāna mitho'vadhāyi - "The brahmins and the cows compete in outsounding each other - in the end no one can hear each other anymore." Seems distressful and reminds me of modern India.
3.13 Carries a footnote (source unknown) about Mukharā - 'She is a friend of Pātlā, Yaśodā's mother, and used to affectionately breastfeed Yaśodā. Due to this parental affection Mukharā daily comes to see Kṛṣṇa at Nandālaya. Mukharā's husband is called Bindugopa."
3.14 pītavasanaṁ vīkṣyāpi rādhā lajjitā bhaviṣyatīti śaṅkayā - "Though she does see the yellow cloth Mukharā does not say anything about the yellow cloth so as not to embarrass Rādhā."
3.15 Footnote (source unknown): "In most other writings Paurṇamāsī wakes up Rādhā, but that is because the līlā differs per day."
3.18 Kṛṣṇadeva Sārvabhauma comments that, although Śyāmalā is an independent yūtheśvarī, still the wheat of her joy can only flourish through her meeting with Rādhā. The anonymous commentator classifies her as a suhṛt pakṣa sakhī, though she is a friend of Candrāvalī's. In his tīkā on the first verse of Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī writes there are three kinds of Vrajagopīs - avara-mukhyā, madhyama mukhyā and parama mukhyā. Śyāmalā belongs to the middle class, Rādhā to the top class. atha madhyama mukhyābhyām āha kalite ātmasātkṛte śyāmā śyāmalā lalitā ca.
Rādhākṛṣṇa Gaṇoddeśa Dīpikā says: suhṛt pakṣatayā khyātā śyāmalā mangalādayaḥ "Śyāmalā and Maṅgalā belong to the friendly party."
3.19 Madhusūdana Dāsa Adhikārī comments that due to the joy of meeting Śyāmalā, Rādhā completely forgets Her nocturnal pastimes with Kṛṣṇa, but I doubt this.
3.23 Here is an elaborate footnote on sthāyībhāva and anurāga. Quoting from Alaṅkāra Kaustubha and Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi.3.25 Madhusūdana Dāsa Adhikārī writes: "Hearing priya-sakhī Śyāmalā's words, Rādhā shyly stares at ḥer own chest and sees that actually the karāgra-kalā (moonbeams or nailmarks) of the full kalā-kauśala (moon or artful Kṛṣṇa) are there, illuminated by Her vilāsa, beautifying Her breasts. Taking this as evidence confirming Śyāmalā's words, She laughs and speaks (then follows the regular translation of verse 25):
3.26 Rādhikānātha Gosvāmī's addition that a sadācārī doesn't do anything before his morning bath is confirmed by Kṛṣṇadeva Sarvabhauma's ṭīkā.
3.29 A sūtradhāra is someone who, after the recitation of the maṅgalācaraṇa or Nāndī-verse, circumambulates the stage and recites a brief synopsis of the drama.
3.32 Mādhurikā: ṣhe belongs to Raṅgadevī's yūtha, and is thus one of the 64 priya sakhīs (8 sakhīs of the aṣṭasakhīs, 8x8=64, ed.)
3.35 The mantra : 'avyād ajo'ṅghri maṇimān' originates from S.B 10.6.19.
3.37 According to the Harivamsa Rohiṇī was Kaśyapa's wife Surabhī in the last life - devakī rohiṇī ceme vasudevasyadhīmataḥ rohiṇī surabhīr devī aditir devakī hyabhūt. (Unknown commentator:) "To accomplish Kṛṣṇa's nikuñja vilāsa and Rāsa līlā in Vṛndāvana there is Vṛndā, but for the full accomplishments of goṣṭha- and vana-līlās there is Paurṇamāsī."
3.38 Kṛṣṇadeva Sārvabhauma comments: rāmasya baladevasya gūḍhārtaśca ca rāmāyā ambareṇa - "Paurṇamāsī means the cloth of Rāmā (Rādhā), but Yaśodā thinks she means the cloth of Rāma (Balarāma).
3.41 Madhusūdana Vācaspati says that Madhumangala has a red glow, but Rūpa Gosvāmī says he is śyāma.
3.56 Kṛṣṇadeva Sārvabhauma comments: uṣṇīṣe śekharīkṛtaḥ kānaka sūtrajālaḥ torarā iti khyātaḥ suvarṇa nirmita sūtra samūhaḥ - ṭhe golden string-net on Kṛṣṇa's turban is called torarā.
3.60 Kṛṣṇadeva Sārvabhauma comments: cāru sundaraṁ tavaiva mukhaṁ yena tad guṇān kathayasi. ramaṇya iti tā eva ramante vayaṁ tu sadaiva duḥkiṇya - 'ṣince you speak of Kṛṣṇa's beautiful attributes you are called cārumukhī. ḹe are, however, always unhappy."