The beautiful art used for this post is the work and sole property of Samik De.
I always offer my obeisances unto the most fortunate flute called murali, who is nourished by drinking the nectar of Krishna’s lips day and night without obstruction and who soothes Sri Radha’s maan with its sweet sounds!
Vṛndā and other female messengers used many flattering words, Madhumangal and other boyfriends used many joking words, Sri Krishna himself fell at her feet and her girlfriends used intimidating threats – nothing could pacify Sri Radha’s turbulent loving pique except the song of Krishna’s flute. I always praise this most fortunate sakhī, the flute called vamsi.
naktandivaṁ mura-ripor adharāmṛtaṁ yā
sphītā pibatyalam avādham aho subhāgyā
śrī rādhikā prathita mānam apīha divya
nādair adho nayati tāṁ muralīṁ namāmi
dūtībhir bahu cāṭubhiḥ sakhi-kulenālaṁ vaco bhaṅgibhiḥ
pādānte patanair vrajendra-tanayenāpi krudhālī-gaṇaiḥ
rādhāyāḥ sakhi śakyate davayituṁ yo naiva māno yayā
phutkṛtyaiva nirasyati sukṛtinīṁ vaṁśīṁ sakhīṁ tāṁ numaḥ
Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In these two verses Raghunath Das Goswami praises Sri Krishna’s Muralī and Vaṁśī-flute. Hasta dvaya mitāyāmā mukha randhra samanvitā; catuḥ svara cchidra yuktā muralī cāru nādinī (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 2.1.367) “A flute which is two hands long, which has a hole for the mouth and four finger-holes and which makes beautiful sounds is called a Muralī.”
Sri Krishna’s Vaṁśī-flute is described as follows:
ardhāṅgulāntaronmānaṁ tārādir vivarāṣṭakam;
tataḥ sārdhāṅgulād yatra mukha randhraṁ tathāṅgulam
śiro vedāṅgulaṁ pucchaṁ tryaṅgulaṁ sā tu vaṁśikā;
nava randhrā smṛtā sapta daśāṅgula mitā budhaiḥ
daśāṅgulāntarā syāc cet sā tāra mukha randhrayoḥ;
mahānandeti vikhyātā tathā sammohinīti ca
bhavet sūryāntarā sā cet tata ākarṣiṇī matā;
ānandinī tadā vaṁśī bhaved indrāntarā yadi
gopānāṁ vallabhā seyaṁ vaṁśulīti ca viśrutā;
kramān maṇimayī haimī vaiṇavīti tridhā ca yā
A flute which has a distance of half a finger between each of the holes, of which there are eight, whose mouth hole is one and a half fingers away from the first finger hole, whose frontpiece is four fingers long and backpiece is three fingers long, which has a total of nine holes and which is seventeen fingers long is called a Vaṁśī. When there is a distance of ten fingers between the mouth-hole and the soundholes of a Vaṁśī it is called Mahānandā or Sammohinī, when there is a distance of twelve fingers it is called Akarṣiṇī and when there is a distance of fourteen fingers it is called Ānandinī. This Ānandinī-flute is very dear to the cowherders and is famous as the Basurī. The Sammohinī is made of jewels, the Ākarṣinī is golden and the Basurī is made of bamboo.
Das Goswami says: naktandivaṁ madhuripor adharāmṛtaṁ yā sphītā pibatyalam avādham aho subhāgyā “This fortunate flute is greatly nourished by drinking the nectar of Krishna’s lips day and night, without any obstruction.”
Śrīmat Rūpa Goswamipāda has written: kṛṣṇa vaktrendu niṣṭhyutaṁ muralī ninadāmṛtam uddīpanānāṁ sarveṣāṁ madhye pravaram īrṣyate (Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, Uddīpana Prakaraṇa 65) “The nectarean flute song that emanates from Krishna’s moonlike mouth is the greatest of all uddīpanas (inciters of ecstatic love).” The sweetness of the flute is one of the four kinds of sweetness that is innate in Sri Krishna.”
trijagan mānasākarṣi muralī kala kūjitaḥ
“The soft sound of the Muralī attracts the minds of the three worlds.”
This is one of Sri Krishna’s extraordinary qualities, which maddens the world. Only the flute-playing in Vrindavan can madden the world.
The sound of transcendence emanates from the flute at Vrajendra-Nandan’s mouth. śabda brahmamaya veṇuṁ vādayantaṁ mukhāmbuje That sound, that tune, that melody is one of the great treasures of the kingdom of God! That inarticulate sound is like an all-attractive mantra that causes the kāma-bīja to vibrate.
se dhvani caudike dhāya, aṇḍa-bhedi vaikuṇṭhe yāya,
jagatera bole poiśe kāne
sabhā mātoyāla kori, balātkāre āne dhari,
viśeṣata yuvatīra gaṇe
“This sound spreads in all directions, pierces the covering of the universe and ascends to Vaikuṇṭha. It forcibly enters into the ears of everyone in the world. It maddens everyone and brings them to him by force, especially the young girls.”
dhvani boḍo uddhata, pativratāra bhāṅge vrata,
pati kole hoite kāḍhi āne
vaikuṇṭhera lakṣmīgaṇe, yei kore ākarṣaṇe
tāra āge kibā gopīgaṇe
(Caitanya-caritamrita Madhya 21)
“This sound is very audacious and breaks the vows of chaste wives, dragging them out of their husbands’ laps. If it even attracts the goddesses of fortune from Vaikuṇṭha, then what to speak of the gopīs?”
The flute has the greatest influence on the Vraja-Kiśorīs, who have sweet amorous feelings for Krishna. In his svarūp Raghunath Das Goswami is the maidservant of Sri Radharani, the crownjewel of Vraja-Kiśorīs. Therefore he glorifies the Muralī in the same way as the Vrajasundarīs do it. The Vrajasundarīs think that the Muralī is constantly drinking the most precious nectar of Krishna’s lips, without any obstruction, and that is not a small merit. They are eager to know what great pious acts this flute performed to attain such a great fortune.
gopyaḥ kim ācarad ayaṁ kuśalaṁ sma veṇur
dāmodarādhara-sudhām api gopikānām
bhuṅkte svayaṁ yad avaśiṣṭa-rasaṁ hradinyo
hṛṣyattvaco’śru mumucus taravo yathāryāḥ
One Vrajasundarī, who was enchanted by the sweetness of Krishna’s fluteplaying, said: “O sakhīs! I do not know what great pious activities this dry wooden flute has performed, as a result of which he is freely and unlimitedly enjoying the nectar of Dāmodara’s lips, which is actually only enjoyable for the Vraja-gopikās!
The rivers horripilate in the form of their blossoming lotus flowers when they behold this good fortune and the trees issue streams of honey as tears of ecstasy, just as the elders of a family shed tears of ecstasy when they see that some crownjewel of devotees has taken birth in their dynasty.”
Śrīla Kavirāja Goswamipād has given a wonderful explanation of this verse when he describes Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s ecstatically incoherent speech (pralāpa):
gopīgaṇa! koho sabhe koriyā vicāra!
kon tīrtha, kon tapa, kon siddha mantra japa,
ei veṇu koilo janmāntare
“O gopīs! Tell me after due consideration! In which holy place has this flute bathed? What penances did he perform, or what perfect mantra has he practised in a previous birth?”
heno kṛṣṇādhara sudhā, ye koilo amṛta mudhā,
yāra āśāya gopī dhare prāṇa
e veṇu ayogya ati, eke sthāvara puruṣa jāti,
sei sudhā sadā kore pāna
“Although this flute is so unqualified, being a motionless being of the male sex, he always drinks the nectar of Krishna’s lips, which defeats ordinary nectar and the aspiration for which keeps the gopīs alive.”
yāra dhana nā kohe tāre, pāna kore balātkāre,
pite tāre ḍākiyā jānāya
tāra tapasyāra phala, dekho ihāra bhāgya bol,
ihāra ucchiṣṭa mahājane khāya
“He forcibly drinks the wealth that does not belong to him and then calls the gopīs, telling them about the result of his penances. Just see how fortunate he is! Even the great saints eat his remnants!”
mānasa gaṅgā kālindī, bhuvana pāvana nadī,
kṛṣṇa yadi tāte kore snāna
veṇura jhuṭādhara rasa, hoiyā lobhe paravaśa,
sei kāle harṣe kore pāna
“When Krishna bathes in world-sanctifying rivers like Mānasa Gaṅgā and Yamuna they become overwhelmed with greed and blissfully drink the nectar of His lips that emanates from his flute.”
e to nārī rahu dūre, vṛkṣa sab tāra tīre,
tapa kore para upakārī
nadīra śeṣa rasa pāiyā, mūla dvāre ākarṣiyā
keno piye, bujhite nā pāre
“What to speak of the women (rivers), even the trees on the banks of these waters, that perform penance for the welfare of others drink this nectar, which is the nectarine remnant of the rivers, by sucking it up through their roots. Why they are drinking it they cannot understand.”
nijāṅkure pulakita, puṣpa hāsya vikasita,
madhu miṣe bohe aśru-dhāra
veṇuke māni nija jāti, āryera yaiche putra nāti,
vaiṣṇava hoile ānanda vikāra
“They horripilate through their sprouts, smile through their blooming flowers and shed streams of tears through their oozing honey. Considering the flute to belong to their species they show these signs of ecstasy just as a noble man is ecstatic when his son or grandson becomes a Vaiṣṇava.”
veṇura tapa jāni yabe, ei tapa kore tabe,
o to ayogya, āmarā yogya nārī
yā nā pāiyā duḥke more, ayogya piye sahite nāri,
tāhā lāgi tapasyā vicāri
(Caitanya-caritamrita Antya Ch.16)
“When we find out what penance this Veṇu performed we will also do it. He is, after all, unqualified and we are qualified because we are young women. We die of misery because we don’t get the nectar of his lips, and we cannot tolerate that this unqualified flute gets it, so we consider performing penance.”
Śrīpād ascertains the qualifications of the Muralī by saying: śrī rādhikā prathita mānam apīha divya nādair adho nayati tāṁ muralīṁ namāmi” I offer my obeisances unto this Muralī, who removes even Sri Radhika’s turbulent pique with her sweet sounds.”
phutkṛti vidhuta mānaḥ sa bhavatu vijayī harer veṇuḥ (Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi Śṛṅgāra bheda 140) “Sri Krishna’s Veṇu is supreme, for Sri Radhika’s pique is destroyed simply when Hari blows in it.”
mānasyopādhyāyi prasīda sakhī rundhi me śruti-dvandvam. ayam uccāṭana mantraṁ siddho veṇur vane paṭhati (ibid 141) Lalitā teaches Sri Radha māna and Sri Krishna plays his Muralī. Mānamayī Sri Radha then admonishes her dear friend Lalitā, saying: “O teacher of the science of pique! Be pleased with me and block my ears! Just listen! This flute is like a master of yoga that utters a persecuting mantra in the woods! When this mantra enters into my ears I won’t be able to maintain my pique anymore!”
kṛṣṇera adharāmṛta divā-rātri pāne; atiśaya paripuṣṭa yei bhāgyavāne
rādhāra utkaṭa māna yāra divya nāde; apanayana koriteche nitya pade pade
śrī kṛṣṇera kore sei mohana muralī; namaskāra kori tāre ho’ye kutūholī
“I eagerly offer my obeisances unto Sri Krishna’s enchanting Muralī-flute, that is so fortunate to drink the nectar of Krishna’s lips day and night and thus become greatly nourished, and whose divine sounds always remove Radha’s harsh pique.”
nānā vidhā cāṭuvākye vṛndādi dūtīgaṇa; asamartha hoy yāhā korite khaṇḍana
madhumaṅgalādi sakhā parihāsa vākye; śithila korite nāre ye māna-granthike
praṇata hoiyā pade vrajendranandana; durjaya māna nirasane asamartha hon
vibhīṣikā pradarśane yoto sakhīgaṇa; yāra praśamane tārā-o parājita hon
phutkāra koribā-mātra se durjaya māna; apasāraṇa kore yei tṛṇera samāna
saubhāgya śālinī sakhī svarūpā vaṁśīke; nitya stava kori āmi praṇata mastake
“I bow my head down before the fortunate Vaṁśī, who appears like a sakhī. Simply by blowing on her, Krishna managed to remove Sri Radha’s turbulent pique, which Vṛndā and her girl-messengers could not break with their different flattering words, which Madhumangal and his buddies could not unravel with their joking words, which Vrajendranandana could not remove by bowing down to her, and which the sakhīs could not pacify by threatening her. Even they could not defeat Radha’s pride, but the flute removed it just like a blade of grass. I eternally praise this flute.”
 The four kinds of sweetness manifest in Vraja are: sweetness of pastimes, sweetness of love, sweetness of the flute and sweetness of the form.
 Lit: seed of desire. Transcendental sound that invokes confidential Krishna-mantras. Ed.
 Previously the flute was described as female, because the Muralī-flute is a female flute, but this pada glorifies the Veṇu, which is a male flute. Ed.
© Translated by Advaita dāsa in 1994
Source: Tarun Govinda Das, Flowing Nectar Stream blog.
(Lightly altered by the editor for Vrindavan Today)
© Art by Samik De
It was published in Gaurābda 503 (1989 A.D.) by Sri Krishna Chaitanya Shastra Mandir, Vrajananda Ghera, PO Radhakunda (district Mathura), U.P., India.
The devotional songs in Bengali that follow each commentary were composed by Dr. Haripada Sheel.
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