Meeting Madhumangala and More

cowherds

By Swami Tripurari; a paraphrasing from the purva-campu of Sri Jiva Gowami’s Gopal Campu

Having been betrothed to others, their aspirations for the son of Nanda’s hand in marraige dashed, the young milk maidens decided independently of one another to enter the depths of the Yamuna and give up their lives, all out of love—love lost, or so it seemed. Meeting together for the first time and seeing their own plight in the eyes of each other, they bonded with one another then and there. Among them Radha was the first to speak that which was on all of their minds of her intent.

“If my parents have given this body to someone else, then it is as if it were possessed by a ghost, and thus for it to remain alive haunted, as it were, such would be even more ignominious. Fie on this body that is capable of tolerating the misery of association with someone else. I am duty bound to forcefully sacrifice it at this sacred place to the younger brother of Balarama.”

Joining hands together the young maidens, following Radha’s lead, all entered the river uttering this prayer:

“O Kalindi, goddess of the Yamuna, I pray to you that the king and queen of the cowherd settlement become my in-laws, that the brother of Rama become my husband, that this village of Vrindavan may always remain my play-garden, and that these other girls whose hands are bound in each others out of mutual affection and who have also immersed themselves in your waters may always be my friends. To this end I take shelter of you.”

Although their resolve was certainly noble, it was one that goddess Kalindi could not bear. Thus she appeared before the young maidens and pulled them from her depths to her shore, assuring them that no other would ever have their hand. To assist her the wise Paurnamasi accompanied by the virtuous Vrinda and the young brahman boy Madhumangala also appeared on the scene. To date, these two young companions of the elderly Paurnamasi, the latter of whom was her own kin, had never met the son of Nanda. And it was from the river, after assuring the girls of their auspicious future well worth living for, that the three of them, led by Purnamasi and invisibly followed by a fourth—goddess Kalindi, went to the moonstone on which Krishna sat in meditation, deep as it was—resembling the darkness of the depths of the Yamuna—in the yoga of despair.

Pauranamasi hid herself, and in a choked voice filled with emotion she spoke the following regarding the beauty of Radha’s face, a face that puts the moon and lotus flower, emblems of this world’s beauty, to shame:

“The moon who lights up the night is doubtlessly the personification of faults. The lotus too is merely filth rising out of the water, but Radha’s face is the abode of all delight.”

Then, in a reassuring tone she spoke softly as she slowly approached Hari, afraid of fainting all the while:

“How can that which you already own be difficult to attain—when one like myself has become completely subservient to you?”

Although filled with emotion himself, in this setting he held back his feelings and only shyness emerged through his eyes. But to dam such emotion up with no outlet for it to flow and resolve itself is not healthy. Thus the wise Paurnamasi gifted him her own auspicious sweetness in the form of the brahman boy Madhumangala, uniting the two hand in hand. To this gesture of wise love Hari responed enthusiastically,

“This is the perfect gift that will be essential to my pleasure.”

Looking at Madhumangala he embraced him in affectionate bonding. And the brahman boy returned Hari’s embrace, as each others hairs stood on end.

Then as Krishna and Madhumangala demonstrated their single-minded allegiance to one another by remaining side by side, the dark moon of Vrindavan gazed at Vrinda and asked who the young lady behind Pauranmasi was. To which Paurnamasi replied,

“Don’t you recognize her?”

And Krishna answered,

“Is she the one after whose name this forest has been named and is now known as being effulgent (a dhama)?”

Paurnamasi then instructed Vrinda devi that from this day forward she should always attend to Krishna as if she were his servant.

Then as Paurnamasi and Vrinda left, Krishna, along with Madhumangala, en route to rejoin his friends and lifted significantly by these recent events, spoke intimately with Madhumangala—allowing his emotions to flow— regarding what he had observed earlier at the Yamuna’s shore:

“Why did Pauranamasi come here from the Yamuna, and what were Radha and the other gopis doing there? And why does my throat choke up as I speak about these things?”

Hearing Madhumangala’s reply he sighed in relief and said,

“Come then, let’s go and join my other cowherd friends.”

This article was based on the English translation of Gopal Campu by Jagadananda dasa


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One Response to Meeting Madhumangala and More

  1. This is a beautiful rendering of the purva-campu in all its sweetness, which illustrates how significant the role of Krsna’s intimate friends is in facilitating His love lila with Radha.

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