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Monday, June 29, 2009

Discussion on Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Gaṇoddeśa Dīpikā, pt.3

Radhakund Samskara June 2009

Radhakund Samskara (cleanup) of 1940

This is the 3rd of a 5-part review of the existing English translations of Śrī Rūpa Goswāmī's Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Gaṇoddeśa Dīpikā -

1.185 This is a draw between Kuśakrath and Bhūmipati – raṅga-śālā literally means ‘music hall’, but I sympathise with Bhūmipati’s ‘She is also skilled in the arts of music and dancing,’ too.

1.186 The verse actually says Tuṅgavidyā’s sakhīs are the leaders of the jaladevīs, or water-goddesses (it remains unclear what they are). No translator did that well.

1.188 Bhūmipati says Indulekhā prepares golden threads, this should be ‘silken ropes’. Kuśakrath’s ‘weaving various kinds of cloth’ is also incorrect.

1.189 Kuśakrath’s in her hand should be on her arm (yad bhuje). Bhūmipati forgets the whole word.

1.190 Here the word pratyanantara appears, like pratyantara in 1.135. The Bengali translator says it is the anti-party. But would Tuṅgabhadrā be an opponent of Indulekhā? Both Bhūmipati and Kuśakrath also translate pratyanantara as neighbor.

1.193 Bhūmipati’s ‘Raṅgadevī is always intoxicated with the mood of awe and reverence.’ is wrong. Kuśakrath says “Raṅga-devī is always like a great ocean of coquettish words and gestures.” Also Bhūmipati’s ‘teasing’ is not there in the śloka. sadā + uttuṅga means ‘she is always lovingly proud’. (gaurava means unmatta in Bengali).

1.194 The word sandhi is explained by Kuśakrath as “patiently waiting for the enemy to make the next move.” While Bhūmipati says “she waits for the appropriate time before executing a service”. Both the Bengali translator and Bhūmipati say she is ‘especially expert in playing musical instruments’ but I cannot find that in the śloka.

1.195 Bhūmipati’s ‘painting and drawing’ is not very clear. Kuśakrath’s ‘perfumes and cosmetics’ is more to the point.

1.197 Raṅgadevī’s friends are overseeing animals like lions and the deer. The gopīs have extraordinary skills for village girls. This ‘overseeing animals’ may be a bit like a western queen that has so many titles but is not really engaged in any of these things practically. Kuśakrath’s “they are able to control the lions” is not really in the śloka – it just says adhyakṣa, they are in charge of them.

1.198 aṅga samvāhana means ‘massaging the body’, not ‘massaging the feet’ as Bhūmipati says.

1.199 Bhūmipati’s ‘conducting boat festivals’ is more accurate than Kuśakrath’s ‘she is an expert sailor’ (naukā khelane).

1.200 vahni vidya (fire-science) is translated by Bhūmipati as “she is accomplished in the matter of fireworks (this could mean yajña).”, while Kuśakrath says “she knows how to start fires and keep them burning”. vahni also means “animal that draws or bears along, a draught animal, horse, team; any one who conveys or is borne along (applied to a charioteer or rider, or to various gods)”. The word candrodaya means ‘moonrise’, Kuśakrath has it right. Bhūmipati simply says ‘at night’

1.201 It should be “playing ball” (geṇḍuka) instead of bell. Both Kuśakrath and Bhūmipati are wrong here.

1.202-3 chekeṣu means ‘among bees’. They are in charge of forest-birds and bees, not expert in the knowledge of, as Bhūmipati claims. They are not forest goddesses themselves, as Kuśakrath claims, but in charge of these goddesses (adhyakṣata). No śāstra mentions Sudevī being in charge of any Vanadevīs, because Vṛndā devī is in charge of them. I can not ascertain it from the śloka either way. The Bengali translator translates cheka as ‘literary works’ but both the dictionary and common sense tell me that it should be ‘bees’ which nicely juxtaposes with pakṣiṣu vanyeṣu – forest birds.

1.206 Piṇḍaka’s dress is copper coloured, not her complexion. Bhūmipati made this error.
Kuśakrath says of the last line: “When Lord Kṛṣṇa comes she embarrasses Him by attacking Him with many ferocious witty puns.” This is correct, while Bhūmipati’s “embarrassed Śrī Kṛṣṇa with insulting words when He came to take scented objects” is totally strange. Where he has the scented objects from in the śloka and what sense does it make?

1.207 Bhūmipati’s ‘very friendly’ is not in the śloka. Harimitra is a name, already mentioned, which should mean ‘friend of Viṣṇu’ in Vraja’s nara-līlā (human pastimes), because Kṛṣṇa is not known as God in Vraja. There is thus no need for a second mentioning of mitra. In the final sentence, both could be right in who brings whom to whom, because the target is not mentioned.

1.208 Kuśakrath forgets paṭaṁ dhṛtvā – Puṇḍarīka holds her cloth’

1.209 Both Bhūmipati and Kuśakrath have the word ‘peacock’ wrong. It is a peahen which has a different complexion from a peacock, it is lighter. kāṭhinya means ‘hardness’, this is missing in Kuśakrath’s translation. Perhaps he translated kāṭhinya with acid, but it should be ‘hardness’ instead. Mādhurya means sweetness. Bhūmipati is right on this. Bhūmipati is also right on sugar candy, which hard yet sweet.

1.210 Bhūmipati’s ‘ears’ is not in the text. Caṇḍa is not grave, but violent, Kuśakrath is right here.

1.212 Bhūmipati’s “In order to favor her own group, she expects Kṛṣṇa to commit offenses.” makes no sense. Kuśakrath’s “She likes to insult Kṛṣṇa for the amusement of her gopī-friends.” seems better.

1.213 Kuśakrath says of the last line: “She speaks to Lord Kṛṣṇa  describing Rādhārāṇī's jealous anger and advising Him to beg forgiveness from Her.”, while Bhūmipati says: “She flatters Śrī Rādhā on behalf of Śrī Kṛṣṇa  just to placate Śrī Rādhā's anger.” I disagree with both. I believe vaṣṭi gandharvikā mānaṁ yā hareś cāṭu kaṅkṣayā means ‘She is eager for Rādhā’s māna and desires Hari’s flattering words (desiring to see Hari flatter Her).”

1.214 Dhātri means nurse, as in the English term ‘nanny’. Ramaci’s cloth is parrot-colored [śukāṁśuka], which is, in Vraja-context, indeed green, as Bhūmipati says. He should still have mentioned ‘parrot’.

1.215 Kuśakrath writes again Ramaci in this verse, though it should be Mecakā gopī instead. The Bengali translator and Bhūmipati say ‘though there are none (faults in Kṛṣṇa)’, but I cannot find this in the text.

1.216 This is a very mysterious verse. sāgrahā vigrahādau syūḥ means they are very eager for vigraha (means isolation, division, separation, resolution and quarrel). Kuśakrath says “These older gopīs can argue with great stubbornness”, perhaps based on these words From the common sense point of view the ladies do not picknick themselves (ref. Bhūmipati translation), but serve in Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s picknick. On the other hand, old ladies don’t fit in youthful pastimes, except as chaperones, but how can there be chaperones in a secret love affair as this one? All translators fail to translate anugaḥ sadā, they are always following. Purogana may mean ‘singing before them’.

1.218 Kuśakrath’s “her braided hair is like the current of a river.” Should be ‘the hair is braided’, simply.

1.221 Bhūmipati is right, Kuśakrath is wrong. cūḍa here means Cūḍā-devī, not a series of crowns, since one can only wear one crown at the same time. Vali means ‘fold of skin due to old age’. It does not mean cūḍa + āvalī, but cūḍā + vali. Cūḍa here means Cūḍā-devī, otherwise she would be missing in the sequence of gopīs listed in 216-217. It is quite astonishing if old ladies would actually sing for Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa during Their love pastimes. This is not described either in any aṣṭakāla-līlā narration.

1.222 ardha jaratī is middle aged, not that half the body is old like Bhūmipati says. Kuśakrath ‘is not as old as the others’ is also wrong, there is no comparison given, and what means ‘ardha’ other than half-old, 50 or so.

1.225 Neither translator mentioned the word kalahāntaritā, Rādhā regrets having picked a quarrel with Kṛṣṇa and those dūtīs then approach Him on the indication of Lalitā.

1.226-227 Kuśakrath’s “With great effort they convince Him that His actual desire is to meet Rādhā again.“ does not make any sense. Why would Kṛṣṇa have to be convinced of that? Bhūmipati’s translation seems to be correct.

1.229 Bhūmipati’s ‘position and services’ is not correct. vāsaṁ vraje is clearly ‘residence in Vraja’.

1.230 Bhūmipati’s “Their love is of two kinds - even and uneven.” Should be explained – it means those who are partial or impartial to either Rādhā or Kṛṣṇa. Kuśakrath says sama and asama which may mean neutral or equipoised vs. partial, like different groups of gopīs' sama sneha asama sneha. This makes sense.

1.231 Kuśakrath fails to translate first half of the verse. It is there in Bhūmipati’s version. Bhūmipati’s “among the two” is not mentioned in the verse, though.

1.232 is explained in 249 which is a paribhāṣā of non-literalism – the numbers mentioned here are not real. Kuśakrath’s translation is totally different from Bhūmipati’s - he fails to mention or explain sama vaya, and eva ca seems to indicate that Bhūmipati is right that it concerns two groups and not one. nitya priyānām refers to the gopīs mentioned in the previous verse, not a comparison between the gopīs in this verse.

1.233 I suppose the thousands are followers of the original 8 mentioned in the beginning of the verse. These verses are mysterious, so Kuśakrath tries to explain by starting his translation with “The direct followers of the eight principal gopīs are counted in different ways.” Which is not really in these verses.

1.234 Kuśakrath fails to translate the word sādharmya, similarity. The thousands do not add up to the millions in the preceding verses, but that is covered by the explanation in verse 249-250.

1.235 Kuśakrath fails to explain api here, it seems Bhūmipati’s translation is better – “Although there are innumerable groups and circles of gopīs, they are counted as one because their ultimate goal is one”, though here again ‘ultimate goal’ is not in the verse.

1.237 Bhūmipati’s translation is the better one – Kuśakrath fails to mention sixty-four.

1.238 Both Bhūmipati and Kuśakrath miss the point, but I’m not sure I understand myself either. Of the aforementioned society there are again 40 groups named yūthas. In this way society can be divided in 500 parts. The second half of the śloka is: “Because of similarities in all sentiments this society is also mutually connected [samanvaya].”

1.239-246 I suppose these 64 sakhīs are referred to in verse 237.

1.247-248 These two lists of 8 sakhīs are different from the normal 8 sakhīs we know (Lalitā, Viśākhā, Citrā, Campakalatā etc.) and may therefore confuse Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sādhakas. Perhaps Rūpa Goswāmī’s purpose of mentioning these alternative lists was to establish and prove Rādhā and Her friends as real, since many Sampradāyas, like the Madhvaites, do not accept the existence of Rādhārāṇī at all, let alone Her 8 sakhīs. After all, it is said about Rūpa Goswāmī: ‘śrī caitanya mano’bhīṣṭaṁ sthāpitaṁ yena bhū-tale’ – He established Śrī Caitanya’s wish on earth. Much of this may include preaching to outsiders.

1.249 The word avadhārana means ‘emphatic ascertainment’.

1.250 nāthayo means ‘Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’ not just Kṛṣṇa. The language is quite different between Kuśakrath and Bhūmipati but the general point of gopīs being unlimited in number stands and that is important. dik darśana is the high numbers are just to create an impression of the huge nature of it all.

1.251 ‘The names’ as Bhūmipati says, is not mentioned in the verses. It could refer to the services as well, as Kuśakrath writes.

1.252 Kuśakrath’s translation is incomplete and rushed through. Bhūmipati does it correctly and completely.

Thus ends the review of part one. Part two starts in the next blog.

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