As Narottama Ṭhākura was singing this song, he at once remembered the pastimes of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in the Gambhīrā. Because he lived perhaps one hundred years after Mahāprabhu, Narottama Ṭhākura never received Mahāprabhu’s direct darśana, but Mahāprabhu left prema for him in a cave at Prematalī (on the banks of the Padmā River) and when Narottama Ṭhākura went there, it at once entered his heart. And what kind of prema was it? Gaura-prema — Rādhā’s love for Kṛṣṇa. Whenever Narottama Ṭhākura used to sing, his mind would at once reach the Gambhīrā where Mahāprabhu would weep while chanting “Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! Hari bol! Hari bol!” in a mood of great separation. Sometimes His limbs would contract like those of a tortoise, and even Svarūpa Dāmodara and Rāya Rāmānanda could not comprehend such an elevated stage of separation.
This mood of separation has been described by the gopīs in the Bhramara-gītā (SB 10.47) where they are feeling extreme separation, even more than what is described in the Gop-gītā (SB 10.31) where they knew that Kṛṣṇa had merely hidden in some kuñja in Vraja. But in the Bhramara-gītā, when Kṛṣṇa has gone forever to Mathurā and Dvārakā, they lost all hope that He would ever return. For all the years which He remained in Mathurā and Dvārakā, the gopīs were perpetually crying and lamenting.
When Uddhava went there, he hid at the entrance to a kuñja at Uddhava-kyārī. Not seeing Kṛṣṇa, Rādhikā was senseless and appeared as if She would soon die. Time and again the gopīs held some cotton below Her nostrils to see if She was still breathing. They were so sorrowful, thinking, “What should we do? How can we keep Śrīmatī Rādhikā alive?” She would almost die, become revived, again almost die and again become revived — we cannot possibly imagine such a thing. If anyone could imagine it, they would simply weep day and night without ever smiling and they would be rendered completely helpless. In that state Rādhikā was lying on a bed of flower petals, and the inconceivable heat which was emanating from Her body made the flower petals dry up.
madhupa kitava-bandho mā spṛśaṅghriṁ sapatnyāḥ
vahatu madhu-patis tan-māninīnāṁ prasādaṁ
yadu-sadasi viḍambyaṁ yasya dūtas tvam īdṛk
O honeybee, O friend of a cheater, don’t touch My feet with your whiskers, which are smeared with the kuṅkuma that rubbed onto Kṛṣṇa’s garland when it was crushed by the breasts of a rival lover! Let Kṛṣṇa satisfy the women of Mathurā. One who sends a messenger like you will certainly be ridiculed in the Yadus’ assembly.
Because Rādhikā’s feet were more sweet, fragrant, soft, and beautiful than a lotus flower, a bee kept hovering around them, and then Śrīmatī Rādhikā spoke this verse to that bee. Being absorbed in Her mood of separation, Mahāprabhu would bitterly weep. Although we hear these narrations, we do not fully realise them, otherwise we would have to weep also. In divine madness, Rādhikā says, “Don’t touch My feet! First you should tell Me from where you have come. I think you are a messenger of that cheater, and through you He has come to cheat Me again, but now I am so much wiser. I will never again enter into friendship with that black person, so don’t come around Me now. He has now become Madhupati in Mathurā (one meaning is “the Lord of the Madhu dynasty” and madhu can also mean “wine”), and He has a very large wine shop. In His shop you have drunk so much wine, and now He has told you to come to Me so that I will forget all of His faults and again establish friendship with Him. He wants Me to compromise and again become cheated, but I am determined to never compromise with Him. You have drunk so much wine that you have simply become senseless and gone mad. You don’t know how to appease a lover. At one time I was the lover of Kṛṣṇa and He was My beloved, but now that relationship is over. If He can leave us, then why can’t we leave Him? He has left us and gone to Mathurā, and then to Dvārakā where He is tasting the love of numerous queens. Therefore He has nothing to do with us, and we have also left Him.”
Hearing the buzzing of the bee, Rādhikā imagined that it said, “O beloved queen of Kṛṣṇa…” Then Rādhikā said, “You should not refer to Me as the beloved of Kṛṣṇa — first you should take back your words. I am not Kṛṣṇa’s beloved and He is not our beloved — don’t even mention His name. Why have you come here?”
“O queen, I have come to arrange a compromise.”
“You have not approached Me in an appropriate manner. I know that you have come from Mathurā because He is Śyāma, black, and you are also black. So you have come as a messenger from that black person, and your whiskers have become reddened as if from kuṅkuma — where has this come from? Tell Me, otherwise you should leave here at once!”
“My queen, I am telling you the truth — this is the natural colour of my whiskers. I don t even know what kuṅkuma is!”
“Oh no, you know very well. You have come from Mathurā, and when Kṛṣṇa has embraced the wife of a prince in Mathurā, the red colour of her breasts has come on Kṛṣṇa’s garland. When you sat on that garland, it came upon your whiskers. In this way I know you have come from Mathurā, and as Kṛṣṇa was going to appease some lover, you accompanied Him. There the kuṅkuma came upon your whiskers. You should just return there. There is no use in coming here, because there are thousands of women in Mathurā who will be exhibiting jealous anger, and Kṛṣṇa will have to spend the entire day appeasing them, one after the other. If they have renounced their jealous anger and become appeased, then you should go and sing your song to them. Then they will satisfy you by giving you whatever you desire, whereas I am a mere street beggar. Because Kṛṣṇa took whatever I possessed, I cannot offer you anything. Really you should be in Mathurā, so I can discern that you are very foolish, the same as your master. The colour of your body and the colour of your whiskers tells Me everything about you. We know that ignorant animals have four legs whereas humans, who possess superior intelligence, have two legs, but you have six legs, so you are the biggest fool. Therefore, You should return to Mathurā. Kṛṣṇa is like you, because as you wander from one flower to the next flattering them, taking their nectar, and never showing any gratitude towards any of the flowers you have left behind, He behaves the same with we women who are like flowers. Like flowers, we are so beautiful, soft, pure, and fragrant, but that cheater is very foolish and ungrateful like you, so we will not compromise with Him. Because we have become fully aware of His nature, we are now more careful.”
“O Svāminī, I am not that type of person and neither is Kṛṣṇa. You should place your faith in me, and also in Kṛṣṇa. He loves You so much that I cannot possibly describe it. If Kṛṣṇa is really a black-hearted cheater, then why does Lakṣmī always want to reside at His chest?”
“Foolish owls cannot see the sun, but we are not so foolish. We know that Lakṣmī can be entrapped by Kṛṣṇa’s flattery, but we cannot. When Kṛṣṇa comes and smiles and flatters her, at once she forgets His nature and wants to serve Him. But we are not so easy to fool — now we are always vigilant.”
The name Gaurāṅga has come in this song because He is that same Śyāma, but by always remembering Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s qualities and Her mood, Śyāma has become Gaurāṅga. In the same way that Rādhikā would take Kṛṣṇa’s name and weep, Mahāprabhu would become senseless and always cry while chanting, “Hari bol! Hari bol!” And when Mahāprabhu would sing kīrtana, all His associates such as Nityānanda Prabhu, Advaita Ācārya, Svarūpa Dāmodara, and Rāya Rāmānanda would also be there. Narottama Ṭhākura is remembering the pastimes of Mahāprabhu in the Gambhīrā and expressing them in stotras, condensed verses…
‘gaurāṅga’ balite habe pulaka-śarīra
‘hari hari’ balite nayane ba’ be nīra (1)
He says that tears will come to his eyes as he sings “Hari! Hari!” in separation, just as tears came to the eyes of Mahāprabhu and Rādhikā. Hari means He who has stolen Rādhikā away to a kuñja, such as at Śaṅkeṭa, and he is weeping while remembering those pastimes.
āra kabe nitāi-cāndera karuṇā haibe
saṁsāra-vāsanā mora kabe tuccha ha’be (2)
This mood will come to one who is completely devoid of material desires, who who has forgotten everything of this world and always thinks “I am a pālya-dāsī of Rādhikā.” Narottama Ṭhākura’s eternal svarūpa is as Campaka Mañjarī, and when he performs kīrtana, he becomes absorbed in that serving mood. He is praying for Nityānanda Prabhu to bestow the mercy upon him by which he can become niskiñcana, possessionless. One should have no concern for their material necessities, like the gopīs who left everything behind to meet Kṛṣṇa. One should think, only “Śrīmatī Rādhikā is mine — She is my iṣṭa-deva, and if She is not merciful to me, I have no need for Kṛṣṇa at all.”
viṣaya chāḍiyā kabe śuddha ha ‘be mana
kabe hāma heraba śrī vṛndāvana (3)
Our minds should be pure, but mere purity is also not sufficient — Nityānanda Prabhu as Anaṅga Mañjarī, the younger sister of Śrīmatī Rādhikā, will also bestow upon one the service of Rādhikā. When he bestows that mercy which He did upon Kṛṣṇa dāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, we will also be granted darśana of Vṛndāvana. In our conditioned state we may visit Vṛndāvana, but we don’t see Rādhā, Kṛṣṇa, and the gopīs. When our love has matured sufficiently, then we may receive the real darśana of Vṛndāvana, as Kavirāja Gosvāmī did, just as Narottama Ṭhākura is praying for here. But not being satisfied with the svarūpa-siddhi vision of Vṛndāvana, then he sings the next verse, praying for vastu-siddhi:
rūpa-raghunātha-pade haibe ākuti
kabe hama bujhabo se jugala-pīriti (4)
This vastu-siddhi will come by serving Rūpa and Raghunātha, Rūpa Mañjarī and Tulasī (Rati) Mañjarī. Without their mercy, we cannot realise Śrīmatī Rādhikā as our svāminī, and enter into Her intimate service. Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī wrote:
na jīvāmi tvayā vinā
iti vijñāya devi tvaṁ
naya māṁ caraṇāntikam
Śrī Vilāpa-kusumāñjali 96
“I am Yours! I am Yours! I cannot live without You! O Devī! Rādhe! Please understand this and bring me to Your feet. Without Your mercy, I have no use for living in Vṛndāvana or even for Kṛṣṇa’s mercy.” He also wrote:
pādābjayos tava vinā vara-dāsyam eva
nānyat kadāpi samaye kila devi yāce
sakhyāya te mama namo ’stu namo ’stu nityaṁ
dāsyāya te mama raso ’stu raso ’stu satyam
Śrī Vilāpa-kusumāñjali 16
“O Devī! Rādhe! I am not praying for anything except that most exalted direct service to your lotus feet. Time and again I offer praṇāma to Your sakhītva, the position of Your sakhī, but I swear that my unwavering devotion will always be only for Your dāsītva, the position of Your servant.”
Dāsa Gosvāmī prayed only to become the pālya-dāsī of Śrīmatī Rādhikā, and Rūpa Gosvāmī prayed:
hā! devi kāku-bhara-gadgadayādya-vācā
yāce nipatya bhuvi daṇḍavad udbhaṭārtiḥ
asya prasādam abudhasya janasya kṛtvā
gāndharvike nija-gaṇe gaṇanāṁ videhi
“O Devī Gāndharvike! In utter desperation I throw myself on the ground like a stick and with a choked voice humbly implore You to please be merciful to this fool and count me as one of Your own.”
This position of a pālya-dāsī is so favourable for serving Śrīmatī Rādhikā that She thinks, “That pālya-dāsī, Rūpa Mañjarī, performs such sweet and beautiful service to Me — where is she? When will she come and give Me the Śyāmantaka jewel, which is the friend of the Kaustubha jewel? By decorating Me in so many ways, she will prepare Me to go to Kṛṣṇa.” These are the special qualities of Rūpa and Raghunātha and why Narottama Ṭhākura takes their names in this verse. Jīva Gosvāmī and all the other Gosvāmīs also possess this mood, but not like Rūpa and Raghunātha. That is why in their writings, Kṛṣṇa dāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura and Narottama Ṭhākura pray only for the mercy of Rūpa and Raghunātha. They want the mercy of all Vaiṣṇavas, but especially the mercy of Rūpa and Raghunātha by which they will realise the amorous pastimes of Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. The mañjarīs have no fear of seeing Them meeting in a solitary place whereas Lalitā, Viśākhā , and the sakhīs do. The mañjarīs can go directly there without feeling any shame, and no one can enter there without serving these two personalities, Rūpa and Raghunātha. If anyone desires to engage in rāgānugā-bhajana, they must follow in their footsteps and attain their mercy.
rūpa-raghunātha-pade rahu mora āśa
prārthanā karaye sadā narottama dāsa (5)
Here Narottama Ṭhākura is saying that his prayer at their feet is that he will be able to understand Gaurāṅga, why He was always weeping, and what He was feeling in the Gambhīrā, all of which only Rūpa Gosvāmī knows. When Mahāprabhu was singing a verse before the Rātha in Purī, only Rūpa Gosvāmī understood His bhāva, and he composed a parallel verse on a palm leaf. Seeing it, Svarūpa Dāmodara concluded that Mahāprabhu must have invested His śakti directly into Rūpa Gosvāmī’s heart, and Mahāprabhu also requested all of His associates to be merciful to Rūpa Gosvāmī so that he could give Mahāprabhu’s bhāva to the whole world. At Prayāga, Mahāprabhu invested all of His hidden bhāva into Rūpa Gosvāmī’s heart so he could compose rasa-śāstras such as the Bhakti-rasāmṛtā-sindhu and the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi.
In this way, if Rūpa Gosvāmī and Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī are merciful to us, we can understand something of what Vṛndāvana is, what madhurya-rasa is, and who is Caitanya Mahāprabhu, for what purpose He came, and why He was always weeping in a mood of great separation. We pray to Narottama Ṭhākura that he will be merciful to us so we can fully realise all these things.
—Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja (Rays of The Harmonist Vol. II No.1)