Part One: Joyful Krishna

 

With clouds the sky is thickened, and the woodlands
darken with Tamála trees. Tonight
is someone leading home a doubting Rádhá
near the Yamuná, by Nanda sent:
from each path wandering, from grove to tree,
to win her Mádhava in honeyed sport.

As speech's deity informs this house;
by grace of Padmávatí's turning feet,
the radiance of poets, Jayadeva,
tells of Vásudeva and his Shrí.

If, passionate for Krishna's mind,
you're keen to learn the lover's art,
then hear the coaxing eloquence
of Jayadeva's tender verse.

Umápatidhara causes words to bloom,
Sharana dazzles with his lightning thought.
Dhoyí's lord of poets, Govardhana
has his love skills, Shrutidhara fame,
but Jayadeva is both deep and pure.

First Song

When world was water, you became
a tireless vessel of the Vedas.
You, in Pisces form, Keshava:
conqueror of the world, Hari!

When this heavy earth you carried
on your callused tortoise back,

how venerable you were, Keshava:
conqueror of the world, Hari!

A blemish on the hare-marked moon,
the earth became as on your tusk:
you held us when a boar, Keshava:
conqueror of the world, Hari!

With nail on lotus hand you cut
the bee-like Hiranyakashipu.
What a lion-man, Keshava:
conqueror of the world, Hari!

A marvellous dwarf, Keshava, you
outwitted Bali: from your toenail
water poured to bless the people:
conqueror of the world, Hari!

Bhrgu's lord, you made in blood
of Kshatriyas the people bathe.
As evil left, the heat declined:
conqueror of the world, Hari!

In Ráma's body, you have hurled
around you heads of Rávana,
a blessing of the war, Keshava:
conqueror of the world, Hari!

You carried beauty as a cloud
and shone as wielder of the plough
that struck with fear the Yamuná:
conqueror of the world, Hari!

Kind as Buddha, you refused
to take the sacrificial life
of animals despite our customs:
conqueror of the world, Hari!

In Kalki's body you became
a sword to scourge the foreign people,
comet-like in fire, Keshava:
conqueror of the world, Hari!

You, in a decad form, Keshava,
are the comfort of our life.
Hear the poet Jayadeva,
conqueror of the world, Hari!

* * *

To he who bore the world, who raised the Vedas,
Bali, demon and Kshatriyas killed:
Pulastya's victor, compassion's spreader, wielder
of the plough and scourge of foreign races:
Krishna, your ten faces: reverence.

Second Song

Held within the rounded breasts
of the goddess of the lotus,
beauteously garlanded:
victorious you are, Hari!

A jewel of our day abroad,
who gives existence and our death,
the spirit moving Mánasa:
victorious you are, Hari!

Yadu's lineage, people pleasing,
but bane of venomed Káliya,
ruler of the sun and lotus:
victorious you are, Hari!

Garuda aided, you have vanquished
Madhu, Mura, Naraka:
you caused to play the other gods:
victorious you are, Hari!

Eyed as is the petalled lotus,
releasing us from this existence,
three-world dweller and its end:
victorious you are, Hari!

Hung as ornament for Sítá,
still you conquered Dúshana
quelled the war and Rávana:
victorious you are, Hari!

You, supporting Mount Mandara,
look as clouds do, a chakora
at the moon of Lakshmi's face:
victorious you are, Hari!

If bowed we must be at your feet
then bless us to become the most

obedient among adorers:
victorious you are, Hari!

Let these praises by the poet
Jayadeva be auspicious,
as befits a deity:
victorious you are, Hari!

* * *

Madhu's killer, clasped upon the lotus-
goddess's exhausted breasts, has caught
her mark of saffron in his fondest loving:
may you follow in his sweated drops.

So went Rádha in her passion, flower-
limbed, throughout the spring. Seeking Krishna's
forest haunts she felt the love-god's longing,
which the girlfriend fanned in her and said:

Third Song

Watch the clove-tree with its creepers
in the warm Malaya breeze.
Attend to honeybee and cuckoo
murmuring in cottage glade.

Look to Hari in the spring time,
dancing with his youthful women:
endlessly the pain encircles
one who's solitary, my friend.

Traveller's brides are rent by passion,
much they wander in their pain
to see Bakula flowers, unruffled,
thick with swarms of honey bees.

Look to Hari in the spring time,
dancing with his youthful women:
endlessly the pain encircles
one who's solitary, my friend.

Garlanded with leaves, Tamála trees
are overcome with musky scent:
as love god's nails, Kinshuka buds,
must lacerate the youthful heart.

Look to Hari in the spring time,
dancing with his youthful women:
endlessly the pain encircles
one who's solitary, my friend.

Keshara trees with golden pistils
reign as sovereign of the spring,
and bees the arrows lovers take
from trumpet quivers of their flowers.

Look to Hari in the spring time,
dancing with his youthful women:
endlessly the pain encircles
one who's solitary, my friend.

How the young Karuña flowers
laugh at prudishness, and spears
of sharp Ketaka buds attack
the separated, lovelorn one.

Look to Hari in the spring time,
dancing with his youthful women:
endlessly the pain encircles
one who's solitary, my friend.

When air is thickly wreathed with jasmine,
and fragrant Mádhaví will catch
the notice of the forest hermit,
what will youth then not commit?

Look to Hari in the spring time,
dancing with his youthful women:
endlessly the pain encircles
one who's solitary, my friend.

Here tendrils of the Atimukta
clasp the bristling Mango buds,
and all around the Brindavan,
watered by the Yamuná.

Look to Hari in the spring time,
dancing with his youthful women:
endlessly the pain encircles
one who's solitary, my friend.

At the feet of radiant Krishna
Jayadeva speaks, remembering
how spring returned to forest meetings
colours every hint of love.

Look to Hari in the spring time,
dancing with his youthful women:
endlessly the pain encircles
one who's solitary, my friend.

* * *

The wind that hums like arrows brings
to hearts the frank Ketaka tree -
inflaming them as forest clothes
itself with jasmine's pollen scent.

The hungry bees at Mango shoots,
the cuckoo's fever in the ear:
sweet days when travellers must think
how breath and amorousness unite.

* * *

Again her girlfriend told her: see how, Rádhá:
there he wantons, friends with all:
Mura's enemy, embracing many,
how that trembling eagerness invites.

Fourth Song

With sandal smeared the bluish body,
garlanded, with yellow clothes.
With jewelled earrings on the cheeks,
now to and fro the smiling roves.
Carelessly the women play.

Burdened there by heavy breast,
one embraces passionately.
And here another, simple herder,
sings in elevated key.
Carelessly the women play.

Yet another, young and artless,
dreams of Krishna's rolling glances.
Sees in Madhu's killer's gaze
the features of his handsome face.
Carelessly the women play.

Someone to his ear has spoken,
kissed him sweetly on the cheek:
someone with the splendid buttocks,
as he bristles with delight.
Carelessly the women play.

Someone sporting, skilled and eager,
along the slopes of Yamuná,
now through water-cane she's led him,
beautiful, her hand on dress.
Carelessly the women play.

Hands are clapping, bracelets softly
syncopate with bamboo flute.
Round they go, the women dancing:
one attracts by praising him.
Carelessly the women play.

One by one he takes and kisses
these most beautiful of girls.
Another even, all-surpassing,
smiles and beckons: leads him on.
Carelessly the women play.

How marvellous this secret rapture
Jayadeva grandly tells:
through Brindavan and wantoning,
let it radiate in Krishna's fame.
Carelessly the women play.

* * *

The love god's festival: a darkened body
draws them garlanded as lotus blooms.
How freely, through their limbs, the comely Vraja
women sport with Hari through the spring.

From pent with snakes in sandal trees, the mountain
breezes plunge in Himalayan snows,
and, sweet and loud, the cuckoo's coo coo callings
come from topmost shoots of mango tree

 

Compiled into free e-book with notes here.

 

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