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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Dāna Keli Kaumudī.

Syamakund in the early 1970s

Review of the English translation by Kuśakratha Dās.

In his type-out of the text on the Grantha Mandir, Jagat used the same verse numbering as Kuśakratha did in his translation and he (Jagat) added the verse numbering of most editions of Dāna Keli Kaumudī (that goes up to 414) to the footnotes, so it was possible to follow the questioning on the book somehow. This review is based on the verse numbering by Kuśakrath. My Bengali copy (Mahesh Library, translator Rām-Nārāyan Vidyāratna) says the ṭīkā is by Jīva Goswāmī but I think this is wrong, it should be Viśvanātha Cakravartī instead. One friend read the book and asked me some questions, some of which I was unable to solve because I could not understand it myself either and some I have omitted from this blog due to the intimate details sometimes given in the booklet. As with most other English translations of rasik śāstra, most of the puns are lost to the reader unless one knows Sanskrit, Bengali or Prakrita because the puns are not translatable into English. I had no access to the edition of Bhūmipati Dās, so this review is just on Kuśakrath's work.

Verse 9: The ghee is not sold but donated (upaharaṇīya).

Verse 36 The 'five girlfriends' (pañcālikā) is a synonym of 'becoming stunned like a doll (pañcālikā)'

Verse 45: Hā Hā is the name of a Gandharva and also an exclamation of wonder.
The word Paurṇamāsī is wrong, the ārya in this verse is Jaṭilā, according to Viśvanātha.

Verse 50: Rāhu here refers to Rādhā, the Prakrita word Rāhūtthāne (the rising of Rāhu) is translated as Rādhotthāne (the rising of Radha) in Sanskrit. It seems the Goswāmīs do not only expect us to know the rules of literature and Sanskrit but even Prakrita. Without Viśvanātha's ṭīkās most of us would be lost!

Bhakta: "Rādhā says here 'O mark of the Cakra! Your poison has no power' How can a cakra spread poison?"

Advaitadas: "The word used in the ṭīkā is cakra-lakṣaṇa, which means nāga or snake, and a snake has poison of course. Viśvanātha writes: cakra-lakṣaṇa-phaṇa-cihna-dhāri 'A snake wears the marks of the cakra on its hoods'. It should be translated: "O you who bear the mark of the cakra (snake)!"

Bhakta: "In the same verse, what means girl of the tolls?"

Advaitadas: "Rūpa Goswāmī writes 'śulka nāgarī' which means lady-love of the toll post actually. Generally in India famous persons are so much identified with their abodes that just mentioning the abode means mentioning the person. If you say Dakṣiṇeśvara in Bengal, they know you mean Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, who lived in that place. The god/dess is also often identified with his/her carrier - Haṁsa (swan) for Brahmā, Vṛṣa means Shiva etc."

Bhakta: Verse 51: Rādhā says: "When You are mocked, You think people are glorifying You. That is called the height of pride. When a flower garland is placed on Your horns, You think everything has become auspicious." How can Kṛṣṇa have horns?"

Advaitadas: "This is another Sanskrit/Prakrita pun which is lost when translated into English.
Translated into Sanskrit Rādhā says śṛṅgāropita dāma vilakṣaṇo bhavasi sarvatobhadra
'There is a garland hung on your horns, as you are auspicious in all respects." bhadra means ukṣa or bull."

Bhakta: "In verse 52 Rādhā calls Kṛṣṇa: Boy who serves a thousand parrots. What does that mean?"

Advaitadas: 'The pun is here also hidden in the Sanskrit: sarvadābhisārikā sahasra sevā rata, can mean 'who is always engaged in the service of thousands of she-parrots (sārikās. That 'she' was forgotten by the translator), but it can also mean he who is always going out to meet (abhisārikā) girls, a vana-lampaṭa. Vana lampat means a forest-debauch. In strict India the only place to meet a paramour is in a secluded bush."
"There is another very funny footnote which is not included in this English translation, to verse 61, where Rādhikā says: "(smiling) I don't see that You have any big money-chests. Where will the money go?" Viśvanātha comments (probably inspired by a similar sentence in the Dāna Keli Cintāmaṇi): madhumaṅgala-dvārā vrajān mahā-śakaṭādayas tad-vāhakā vṛṣa-mahiṣa-kharoṣṭrāś cānīyantām "Madhumangal should bring great carts from Vraja with bulls, buffaloes, donkeys and camels to pull them"

Bhakta: "In verse 65 Lalitā speaks of a goddess of toll collecting. What is that?"

Advaitadas: "The text says ghaṭṭi-devyā, yes. Well in Indian villages every phenomenon has a presiding god or goddess, rightly or wrongly. The point is here that Lalitā is putting Kṛṣṇa down by saying that He is dependent for the fulfillment of His desires even on a goddess like that. Having said that, in India even the power current is a goddess - Bijuli devi. She is praised whenever the current returns in the sweltering hot summer and the fans come back on - Bijuli devi ki jay! you hear everywhere. Bijuli probably comes from the Sanskrit word vidyut, which means lightning. Since electricity was brought to India by the British in the 19th century, no need to look this up in a Sanskrit dictionary."

Verse 68: I don't see the word trumpeteer in the Sanskrit text, nor in the Bengali translation. The cascade of rhyme in Sanskrit is what counts here but that is lost in the English translation, regardless of the quality of the translation.

Verse 71: The word pañcamī here refers to the Śrāvaṇa Pañcamī called Nāga Pañcamī, a day for celebrating snakes, and Punnaga can mean a great snake. It seems Jagat forgot one line in the ṭīkā here that mentions this.

Verse 72: There is no 'coming and going' in this text. āgataṁ kāraṇam means the coming of the reason of their pride.

Verse 74: 'The glory of youth' should be mañjunā nava yauvanena, 'by a lovely young person' instead.

Verse 88: In footnote 24 Kuśakrath makes own interpretation, which is not given by Viśvanāth in the ṭīkā, but it is OK. Kṛṣṇa's speech, following Citrā's - 'kāma prayogena' also means 'through amorous means'.

Verse 88: The five twigs here are the hand, which has five fingers.

Verse 91, first speech - 'mantra' should be perfect drug (siddhauṣadhi) instead.
Last speech of Rādhā - 'tears in the eyes' is not in the text.

Verse 98, Kṛṣṇa says I acknowledge that the debt is paid.
Paurṇamāsī says: 'There is no need for any other petty payment of tax."
Paurṇamāsī says: "mayā cintāmaṇir iyaṁ prastutā - by me this Cintāmaṇi jewel has been manufactured," not 'I think of her as a Cintāmaṇi gem'. 'A beautiful girl' is not to the point - kāntā maṇi means a jewel of female lovers. This is a juxtaposition of Paurṇamāsī's vatsalya rati and Kṛṣṇa's madhurya rati for the same person.
'Gentle boys' is also wrong because the word is nāgarendra, which means the king of playboys.
The whole text is a juxtaposition of the money granted by a Cintāmaṇi jewel and the amorous satisfaction offered by a Kāntā maṇi, jewel of ladyloves. Vṛndā means to say that in the presence of Pūrṇamāsī, the full moon, how can Kalānidhi (Kṛṣṇa, the master of arts), or the full moon, not be full but a sliver instead? In this way she praises both Kṛṣṇa and Paurṇamāsī."

1 comment:

  1. E mail exchange on Purnima, 5 august:

    Radhe Radhe
    Jai Nitai
    Happy Raksha Bandhan.
    Happy Baldev Prabhu Birthday.
    Pls explain the significance of these two festival as Gaudiya Vaishnav.

    Radhe Radhe
    Holiday greetings to you too.
    Baladeva Jayanti is not mentioned in any shastra nor was it practised by Mahaprabhu, nor is it practised by any Gaudiya Vaishnava. We are devotees of Krishna, not of Balaram. Though Balaram is mentioned among the avatars in the Bhagavat, we do observe the appearances of Ram, Vaman, and Narasimha but not of Balaram. Odd but true.

    Raksa Bandhan is mentioned in Vilap Kusumanjali verse 87 as a day when Smt Swamini comes home to meet Her parents. Siddha Krishna das Babaji has described this pastime in detail in his Gutika. Exchanging Rakhis is not really a Vaishnava custom either but there is no harm in it either. The most important event today, however, is Jhulan Yatra, or Jhulan Purnima, in which Sri Sri Radha-Madangopal are swung and Jhulan-kirtan is performed for Their pleasure.