50Then Vrinda brings many jeweled containers filled to the brim with various kinds of madhu extracted from flowers and fruit rasa. She also brings all sorts of sliced fruits for the vidamsha (appetizers) and places them before Radha Krishna and the sakhis.
Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: Madhu drinking increases one’s virility and amorous prowess, hence the madhu-pāna līlā precedes Krishna’s rati-keli pastime. Vrinda is a connoisseur in the art of inducing Kandarpa’s moods—she supplies many varieties of tasty madhu wine and serves them in sphaṭika-maṇi crystal glasses.
51 Krishna then expands himself and sits between each pair of gopis and there drank the madhu that was scented with the nectar of their lips. With laughter and little love bites that were like salty appetizers, he also inducing the gopa ramanis to sip the madhu.
Rasa-taraṅginī Tīkā: In these two verses, Srila Kaviraj gosvami only gives a dik darshan* into the night’s madhu-pāna-līlā. However, Kṛṣṇāhnika-kaumudī provides more detail:
After walking in the forest, Krishna and Mrigakshi Radha arrive beside a vaidurya-mani* vedi beneath a flowering madhavi vine. Vrinda has covered this vedi with a silken cloth that is more pleasing than the moonbeams; and placed crystal glasses all around. So now, as Vrinda joyfully brings a crystal decanter filled with madhu, a swarm of bees follows behind, blinded by its amazing aroma. The jug is covered by a silken cloth, and there are flower malas wrapped around it. So, at first sight, one might guess: “Hmm! Is this the jeweled ghaṭa (jug) meant to ritually inaugurate Kama Deva’s rati-utsava?”
Krishna is delighted to see Vrinda’s nice arrangements, meant to fulfill his desires. So taking Radhika Sundari by the hand, he sits down on the vedi with her and all of the Vraja vadhus. Krishna then requests the gopis to from a circle around him and Radha by sitting on the vedi’s edge. Thus Sri Yugala Kishore appear like the moon, and the Vraja sundaris appear like a moonbeam bracelet around them. Krishna and his bright shyamala effulgence now appear like a dark cloud embraced by the lightning (Radha) amidst a net of lustrous moonbeams (the sakhis).
Aho! Krishna’s zeal to drink with the gopis produces many vyabhicāri-bhāvas, such as vrīḍā (shyness), utkaṇṭhā (eagerness), smṛti (remembrance), mati (attachment), dhṛti (perseverance), kṣānti (tranquility), harṣa (jubilation), abhyasūyā (liberality), śaṅkā (fear), trāsa (calamity), śrama (fatigue), and mada (intoxication), in both Radha and Krishna.
As the Yugala Kishora sit on their beautiful asanas, Vrinda unties the malas wrapped around the madhu pot, placing one around each gopi’s neck. But then the bumblebees turn restless, so Vrinda gets lots of krishna aguru incense mixed with camphor, and the smoke lingers and fuses with the gentle breeze.
As the madhu-pāna utsava begins, Vrinda requests the trees to provide a kusuma vrishti (flower shower), and while the trees do so, the restless bees trapped within the malli flowers resound, bhom bhom bhom bhom bhom. Then the flower vines dance just as their preceptor in dance, their nritya-guru, the wind, taught them from youth.
The moonbeams filtering through the trees shine on the crystal glasses, so Vrinda is unable to see them properly. Thus while pouring the madhu from her jug, she cannot distinguish whether she is pouring into the glasses or onto the ground.
Then, as Vrinda fills two fresh glasses with madhu, the bees start daring over them….so she flicks them away with a blue lotus. Then Vrinda places the glasses before Radha Shyama.
Eager to begin drinking, the sakhis serve one another and become surcharged by the madhu’s sweet effects. Meanwhile, Sri Yugala Kishore flick the bees away from the glasses as they await Vrinda’s signal. Then Krishna holds his glass up to Radhika’s lotus lips and says, “Priye, you take the first sip.” But as Radha lowers her head over the glass, she only sniffs it, and returns it as if having recited a mantra from the Kama-tantras over it.
Although the madhu is fragrant, with the addition of the scent from Kamala-mukhi Rai’s face, Krishna can’t resist it! So he sips with delight, pauses for a moment to ponder its uniqueness, and broadly smiles! Then he induces Rai to sip from his own glass, saying, “Drink!”
After sipping Krishna’s madhu, Radha begins to take from her own glass, but Murali Vadana Krishna snatches her glass away and begins drinking! This brings smiles to the sakhis’s faces. Aho! When fondness increases amongst loved ones, such exchanges aren’t the least bit astonishing.
Then Vrinda eagerly fills two more glasses and places them before Radha and Krishna. But they sip only a little, and pass the glasses on to the sakhis. After relishing Sri Yugala Kishor’s adharamrita, the sakhis go on drinking their own madhu.
Thus as Priya Keshava drinks with the gopis, the madhu’s maudlin effect removes their gravity and their eyes turn red.
But one smart and enchanting gopa sundari stops drinking after the first glass, for she wants to remain partly sober to view Krishna’s vihāra with the others. Then the fun begins. The gopis turn shy untimely, cry without a cause, quarrel for no reason, become frightened unnecessarily, lament for nothing, speak meaningless talk, and stare! Aho! The madhu brings about all of these auspicious symptoms! Some gopis slur their speech or become restless, drowsy, shaky, laugh-loving, paralysed or silent.
One sundari cannot see her crystal glass when the moonbeams shine over it, so she becomes upset, thinking that Vrinda hadn’t provided her any madhu. Another Vraja kishori turns jealous and neglects to drink. But then a drunken taruni-vallabha exclaims, “Oh sakhis! Look! The moonbeams got stuck in my glass, so how can I drink this madhu? Aha! Won’t those moonbeams clog my throat?”
As the bees swarm over the glasses, they cast dark reflections, so some restless sakhis mistake these for thick splotches of condensed honey. Then, using their lovely fingers to stir, they strain the madhu and go on sipping with gusto!
One overly intoxicated sundari ramani embraces another, and sweetly exclaims, “Sakhi! What’ssssssss go-iiiing on? The skkkyyy is faaaaalliing, the earrrrrrrrth is turning—I’m fa-aaallling!” Then she cries: “Sakhi! Please saaaave me!”
When bearing Krishna’s separation, Radha’s deep thought of him sometimes becomes so acute that she thinks she is Krishna; but then Krishna thinks that he is Radha. However, the madhu’s intoxication now brings about the same mix-up! Thus Radha addresses Krishna: “Hey Radhe!” And Krishna answers, “Hey Krishna!”
Then Radha says, “Oh Radha, are you my dasi? Na, na! You’re my prana, for without you, I would die!” Thus as Radha Krishna’s rati-keli begins, their viparita vilāsa reaches a new dimension of divine wonder! And thereafter, their amusing conversation becomes even more fascinating! (Kaumudi 6.39-65)
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