Tender Moments: Meeting Madhumangala

Adapted from Sri Jiva Goswami’s Gopala Campu by Swami B.V. Tripurari.

Having been betrothed to others and had their aspirations for the son on Nanda’s hand in marriage dashed, the young milk maidens each independently decided to enter the depths of the Yamuna and give up their lives for 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 spoke of her intent first, that which was on all of their minds.

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

Joining hands together and following Radha’s lead, the young maidens 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 Vrindavana 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, 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 and onto her shore, assuring them that no other would ever have their hand. Coming to assist the goddess, 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 they went to the moonstone on which Krishna sat in meditation—a meditation so deep that it resembled the darkness of the depths of the Yamuna—in a yoga of despair.

Hiding and speaking in a choked-up voice full of emotion, Paurnamasi said the following regarding the beauty of Radha’s face, a face that put 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 Krishna, 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, Krishna 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 responded enthusiastically, “This is the perfect gift that will be essential to my pleasure.”

Looking at Madhumangala, Krishna embraced him in affectionate bonding. And the brahman boy returned Hari’s embrace as each other’s 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 Vrindavana gazed at Vrinda and asked just who the young lady behind Paurnamasi was. To which Paurnamasi replied, “Don’t you recognize her?” Krishna answered, “Is she the one after whose name this forest has been named and is now known as being effulgent (dhama)?”

Paurnamasi them 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 to rejoin his friends, Krishna, lifted significantly by these recent events, spoke intimately with Madhumangala 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, Krishna sighed in relief and said, “Come then, let’s go and join my other cowherd friends.”


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20 Responses to Tender Moments: Meeting Madhumangala

  1. Srila Prabhupada had a disciple he named Madhumangal. At initiation he told the disciple that Madhumangal was a sakha of Krishna in Vrindavan lila. Later, that disciple came back and asked Prabhupada what Madhumangala meant and Srila Prabhupada chided him a bit and said “I told at the time of initiation that Madhumangal was the cow boy friend of Krishna. That’s it”.
    The disciple was apparently asking for the etymological explanation of the words in Madhumangal, but Srila Prabhupada made it clear that Madhumangal was not a name to be examined for etymological meaning, rather the name of a friend of Krishna – that’s it.
    I just read that yesterday when I was going through some conversations in the Vedabase.

  2. Hearing Madhumangala’s reply, Krishna sighed in relief and said, “Come then, let’s go and join my other cowherd friends.”

    Sometimes I can’t help being astonished, once again, at just how cool Krishna is.

  3. Generally, incarnations of parshadas have some characteristic personality and service functionality that betrays their identity.
    For example, Srila Vrindavan Das Thakura was said to be the combined incarnation of Vyasadeva and the dairyherd boy Kusumapida.
    It is also interesting that the “Vyasadeva” of Gaura-lila was in sakhya-rasa – the dairyherd boy (gopa) Kusumapida and that Srila Krishnadas Kaviraja Goswami who was the scribe of Gaura “siksha” was a gopi of the name Kasturi Manjari (so I have heard).
    I don’t know if there is any particular correlation between the “lila” scribe being in sakhya-rasa and the Gaura “siksha” scribe being is madhurya-rasa, or if it is just happenstance.(is anything really chance?)
    It’s just an observation to be made and the answer is of course debatable as most everything else we can talk about.
    Srila Prabhupada performed a “Vyasadeva”(like) function with his giving of the Bhagavatam into English, though he gave his followers Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita in English and not Sri Chaitanya Bhagavat.
    Go figure, but my guess is that Srila Prabhupada was an empowered devotee whose true identity will remain mystery due to the numerous vibhutis that were bestowed upon his personality for this most powerful mission.
    Srila Prabhupada was most likely a combined incarnation of at least two divine personalities as was Srila Vrindavan Das Thakur.

    So, unless Srila Prabhupada reveals it to me I will not be convinced by other opinions.

    I had a dream once when I was at the San Jose temple.
    In the dream Srila Prabhupada appeared and said “so many people they want to know who I am, but I can tell you ask Subal sakha because he knows”.

    That only left me wondering.
    Because, I of course was not capable of asking Subal sakha since he is a transcendental dairyherd boy from Goloka Vrindavan.

    • Srila Prabhupada was most likely a combined incarnation of at least two divine personalities as was Srila Vrindavan Das Thakur.

      If this were true, the second personality did not show itself in comparison to the first. Better stated he clearly exhibited a combination of two sentiments, one principle and one marginal, with the marginal serving the principle. This model follows the example of Subala and corresponds with the evidence/Prabhupada’s own statements and example. But your task is clearly to ask Subala. So you have your work cut out for you. 🙂

      • Subal’s counterpart is Ujjvala. According to NOD these two are the two top priya-narmas. Among the priya-narmas these two are prominent.

        NOD 41

        Out of the many intimate priya-narmās, Subala and Ujjvala are considered to be the most prominent.

        Subala’s body is described as follows. His complexion is just like molten gold. He is very, very dear to Kṛṣṇa. He always has a garland around his neck, and he wears yellow clothing. His eyes are just like lotus flower petals, and he is so intelligent that by his talking and his moral instructions all the other friends take the highest pleasure. Let us all offer our respectful obeisances unto Kṛṣṇa’s friend Subala!

        The degree of intimacy shared by Kṛṣṇa and Subala can be understood by the fact that the talks between them were so confidential that no one else could understand what they were saying.

        The description of Ujjvala, another intimate friend, is given as follows. Ujjvala always wears some garment of orange color, and the movements of his eyes are always very restless. He likes to decorate himself with all kinds of flowers, his bodily hue is almost like Kṛṣṇa’s, and on his neck there is always a necklace of pearls. He is always very dear to Kṛṣṇa. Let us all worship Ujjvala, the most intimate friend of Kṛṣṇa!
        About the confidential service of Ujjvala, this statement is to be found, addressed by Rādhārāṇī to one of Her friends: “My dear friend, it is impossible for Me to keep My prestige! I wanted to avoid talking to Kṛṣṇa anymore — but just see! There again is His friend Ujjvala, coming to Me with his canvassing work. His entreaties are so powerful that it is very difficult for a gopī to resist her love for Kṛṣṇa, even though she may be very bashful, devoted to her family duties and most faithful to her husband.”

        The following is a statement by Ujjvala, showing his jubilant nature: “My dear Kṛṣṇa, O killer of Aghāsura, You have extended Your loving affairs so much that You can be compared to the great ocean, which is without limitations. At the same time, the young girls of the world, who are all searching after the perfect lover, have become just like rivers running into this ocean. Under the circumstances, all these rivers of young girls may try to divert their courses to some other place, but at the end they must come unto You.”

        A while back I found myself to be curiously fascinated with Ujjvala and find him to be an ideal role model for sakhya-rasa bhakti.
        As far as role models go, I think Ujjvala sakha to be very attractive.

        • Visvanatha Cakravarti composed this verse about Ujjvala-sakha. I offer it to you, KB:

          harir iti parihasyam susruvan ujjvalasya |
          smita-savala-bhramad-bhru-vibhramo vah punatu ||

          “May Krishna, his eyebrows dancing with delight after hearing the amusing words of Ujjvala, deliver you.”

          In Ujjvala-nilamani we find this verse about the priyanarma sakhas,

          “They know the most intimate aspects of Krishnas life, and have taken the mood of sakhis. Of all Krishna’s friends the priyanarma sakhas are the dearest to Krishna. In Gokula they include Subala, Arjuna and others.”

          Commentary: In Sanskrit dramatic literature, the hero would normally have a companion known as the narma-saciva or narmasuhrt who acted as a kind of minister to his diversions. In Ujjvala-nilamani (2.13), the term priya-narma-sakha is used to describe Subala, Arjuna and other of Krsna’s friends. Sri Jiva comments on what Rupa Goswami has termed their the gopi or sakhi-bhava aspct of their particular form of fraternal love thus, “Out of affection for both Krishna and His beloved gopis, they desire to unite them both. Their masculine nature is then subdued.”

          And Visvanatha Cakravarti again,

          “Some friends are considered very confidential and some fortunate friends perform confidential services. Subala, Ujjvala, and some splendid others, who are as good as the gopis, are rich with the sight of Krsna’s splendid conjugal pastimes.” (Sri Vraja-riti-cintamani 52)

  4. What I find in Ujjvala to be most characteristic of my own mood is his joking mood and sense of humor. I have always been a joker and a funny guy, so I find Ujjvala to be my favorite dairyherd boy amongst the friends of Krishna and in a sense I consider him to be a role model in sakhya-rasa.
    Generally, people on the internet think I am harsh and mean, but really I am a comedian most of the time.

    • There is a point in one’s practice when external/sadhaka deha characteristics are understood by advanced Vaisnavas to be indicative of one’s internal life. This of course is what we find in Gaura-lila. Thus from the lives and characteristics of Gaura’s associates some devotees have determined their position in Krsna-lila. But more often such “connections” are dismissed, sometimes too readily no doubt. Overall it is best to consult with those more advanced then ourselves in attempting to make such correspondence. Good to know you have a lighter side though.

      • Hare Krishna.. please dear devotees where I can find more descriptions about Ujjvala sakha? What is way to connect? He is not even mentioned in Goura lila…:(

        • Despite his prominence, Ujjvala is not typically listed among the dvadasa gopalas. However, he is listed as one of them in the latter Caitanya-sangitā (1866 A.D.) In other texts his is listed as an upa gopala. In Gaura Ganoddesa-dipika 70 he is arguably the narma sakha mentioned by Kavi Karnapura that is identified in Gaura lila with Raghunandana Thakura and also with Pradyumna of Krsna’s Dvaraka-lila, whom the Bhagavatam identifies with Cupid (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.55). Both Locana dasa Thakura and Narahari Thakura also identify Raghunandana Thakura as a Gaura-lila incarnation of Cupid (Caitanya Mangala 3.193, Bhaktiratnakara 13.189).

          • Hare Krishna Prabhu. Please what will be name of that book and when it will come out? Also is there some description of asta kaliya lila of priya narma sakha? Thank u

          • The name of the book is Circle of Friends. I am still writing it after 28 chapters. The book has three divisions: Circumference, Radius, and Center—as well as several appendices. The third section, its Center, relates the astakala lila from the vantage point of narma sakha bhava.

          • Hare Krishna Maharaj, I am listening to your classes on Sakhya-mandalam.. they are definetly full of nectar,, i hope i will get chance to hear them personall
            y one day

        • Following my insight mentioned above, I have written in some detail about Ujjvala in my forthcoming book.

          • Thank u very much, very interesting, I looking forward for the book to come out. Accept my humble obeiscances.

  5. Pranams Srila Tripurari Maharaj, now what I listened about class Sri Yugala Gita with BP Svami Padmanabha, where the priyanarmas sakhyas are present. Ujjavala… I asked days ago how they interact with the gopis for how they interact with the gopis for the meeting of Radha and Krsna… I join the comment of Nitai Gour. Thank you very much. =)

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