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  • Krishna Speaks
  • Translated by Andrew Schelling (bio)

tāni sparśasukhāni te ca taralāḥ snigdhā daśor vibhramās    tad vaktrāmbujasaurabhaṃ sa ca sudhāsyandī girāṃ vakrimāsā bimbādharamādhurīti viṣayāsaṃge'pi cen mānasaṃ    tasyāṃ lagnasamādhi hanta virahavyādhiḥ kathaṃ vardhate

  • tāni. those

  • sparśa. of touch

  • sukhāni. delights

  • te. those

  • ca. and

  • taralāḥ. tremblings

  • snigdhā. enchanted

  • daśoḥ. of the eyes

  • vibhramāḥ. amorous, restless motions

  • tad-vaktra. from her mouth

  • ambuja. lotus

  • saurabhaṃ. fragrance

  • sa. the

  • ca. and

  • sudhā-syandī. nectar-flow

  • girāṃ. of words

  • vakrimā. ambiguous, forbidden

  • . the

  • bimba-ādhara. fruit-lip, nether lip

  • mādhuri. sweetness, honey

  • iti. thus

  • viṣaya. sense-pleasure

  • asaṅge. loose, untethered

  • api-cet. somehow

  • mānasaṃ. madly, passionately

  • tasyāṃ. on her

  • lagna-samādhi. fixed in meditation

  • hanta. (excl.)

  • viraha. of separation

  • vyādhiḥ. the disease, wound, torment

  • kathaṃ. how

  • vardhate. (does it) erupt, spring forth [End Page 110]

Krishna speaks

Every touch brought a new thrill.Her eyes darted wildly.From her mouth thefragrance of lotus,a rush of sweet forbidden words.A droplet of juiceon her crimson lower lip.My mind fixes these absentsensations in a samādhiHow is it that parted from herthe oldestwound breaks open?

Krishna remembers a nectar-flow of words that were vakrimā (forbidden or ambiguous; literally, crooked, left-handed). Other words in his speech stand out. The first is samādhi, identified primarily with yoga. Both a meditation technique of fixing on or uniting with an object, and the condition of entering a spiritual trance, it sometimes suggests enlightenment. The Buddhists used the term, specifying precise states of trance.

Another term is viraha (separation)—one of two phases of śṛṅgāra-rasa (erotic love). The complementary phase is sambhoga (devouring or enjoying). The vyādhi (wound, disease, or torment) cannot be assuaged by meditation. In fact the samādhi seems to reopen the old injury. The theology for an erotic mysticism could lie in this verse: Krishna himself reveals that yoga or religious practice won’t keep the wound from suppurating.

Various mystical sects of Eastern India, their practices referred to as sahaja, believe erotic love must be incorporated into their rituals. For accounts of the sects see Edward Dimock Jr.’s book The Place of the Hidden Moon or Shashibhusan Dasgupta’s Obscure Religious Cults. In particular, the Bauls of Bengal—wandering singers—openly mock the “dry path” of asceticism, and insist on a rasika (juicy) path. [End Page 111]

Andrew Schelling

Andrew Schelling, born in 1953 at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington, D.C., has written, edited, or translated twenty books. Early opposition to American involvement in Vietnam, plus an encounter with India’s texts, set him on a lifelong engagement with Asian literature. He studied Sanskrit at the University of California at Berkeley, and began to translate from its classical poetry tradition around 1978. His first book, Dropping the Bow: Poems of Ancient India, received the Academy of American Poets translation award in 1992, the first time the Academy had honored work done from an Asian language. Schelling’s own poetry and essays emerge from the Southern Rocky Mountain bioregion in which he lives. Recent books of poetry wrangle with the Arapaho language as a way of reading landscape and the natural cycles; they include From the Arapaho Songbook and A Possible Bag. He has edited The Oxford Anthology of Bhakti Literature and Love and the Turning Seasons: India’s Poetry of Spiritual and Erotic Longing (forthcoming from Counterpoint Press). Living on the Front Range of Colorado, he is active on land-use issues and teaches at Naropa University. He also teaches regularly at Deer Park Institute, in India’s Himalayan foothills.



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pp. 110-111
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