Beyond The Beaten Track: Offbeat Poems From Gujarat (Heritage Collection)

Toll Play (Premanand Bhatt)

Krishna2:
‘This cloaked seducer whose eyes flash darkly even without collyrium
tall and seductive she is, such pride is on her face.
Where is she going without paying toll, I must detain Radha3.
She flaunts the vigour of youth, I must break her arrogance.’

Radha:
‘Got ‘fame’ at an early age, people are all praise!
The mouth relishes and the eye feels shamed!
What’s this toll amongst us. Get lost from the path,
for Nanda’s4 sake I am tolerating this.’

Krishna:
‘In Gokul5, querulous maid, there is a large Ahir6 populace;
in demanding what is customary what is the disgrace?’

Radha:
‘The one with two fathers7 is contending with me on this path –
for exacting have you official approval, has Kamsa8 put his mark?’

Krishna:
‘Vrishbhan gets stamping done, your father who is so meek!
No one’s rule we accept, we are, after all, Nandji’s prince.’

Radha:
‘Why this pestering in public? Think well dear Krishna before speaking.
God be thanked if you can indeed fill your belly through begging!’

Krishna:
‘Such abuse gopi9 is excessive; I am the son of a stalwart.
I’ll tell you how to beg Radha, just come close and lend your ear.’

Radha:
‘Why should I lend an ear – I know what you yearn.
I see no one present here who can touch me even!’

Krishna:
‘Should Indrani10 come here, she would shed pretension!
If I divest you not of all O beauty then my name is not Kahan11!’

Radha:
‘You steal buttermilk, a boy of six years mere,
I’ll give my all to you Krishna if you only step near!’

Krishna:
‘Vain you are you Ahir maid, I am truly a ‘child’.
I’ll show you what childhood is, wait until eventide.’

The day thus passed in wrangling and the maid became edgy.
‘Premanand’s Lord, let me go’ said Radha and fell at his feet.

1 Section 12 of ‘Daan Lila’ (Toll Sport). In the poem Krishna tries to levy a toll of butter, milk, curds etc. on cowherdesses going forth to sell their wares.
2 Krishna and Radha were lovers. Hindus believe that Krishna was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu who had taken birth as Krishna to rid the world of evil-doers. In the poem the two turn into mock antagonists.
3 Foster father of Krishna and chieftain of the village of Gokul.
4 The village where Krishna and Radha lived.
5 A community that settled all over Northern and Western India. Nand belonged to this community of cowherds.
6 Krishna, born in a jail where his parents had been imprisoned because of a prophecy that Krishna would grow up to kill Kamsa, his cruel uncle, was secreted out of the jail by Vasudeva, Krishna’s father, and carried to Nand, Vasudeva’s friend, for rearing. Hence Krishna had two fathers. ‘One with two fathers’ is an epithet because of the connotation of being illegitimate.
7 Kamsa was a usurper of the throne of Mathura in Northern India in whose jurisdiction the village of Gokul lay.
8 Cowherdess.
9 Wife of Indra, king of the gods.
10 One of Krishna’s innumerable names.

દાણલીલા (પ્રેમાનંદ)

શ્રીકૃષ્ણ: ધૂતારી ઘુમટાવાળી રે, આંજ્યા વિના આંખડી કાળી રે;
જાઓ કાહાં આપ્યા પાખી રે, રાધાને રોકી રાખી રે.
વઢતાં વાયે વહાણું રે, સહુએને આજ આણું રે.
ઉંચી ને અલબેલડી રે, મુખ ઘણું ગુમાન;
જોબનિયાનું જોર જણાવે, હું ઉતારું અભિમાન.

રાધિકા: નાનડી વયમાં નામ જ કાઢ્યું, લોક કરે વખાણ;
મોં ખાયે ને આંખ જ લાજે, માંહો માંહે શું દાણ.
ચાલો પાધરી વાટે રે, સાંખું છું નંદને માટે રે.

શ્રીકૃષ્ણ: આ ગોકુળમાં વસે ઘણી રે, મોટી જાત આહીર;
વહેવારની વાતે લજ્જા શાની, દીસે વઢકણની પીર.

રાધિકા: પાધરી વાટે તે લડે રે, જેને હોયે બે બાપ;
દાણની શું તે મહોર કરાવી, કંસે કીધી શું છાપ.

શ્રીકૃષ્ણ: છાપ તો તારો બાપ કરાવે, રાંકડો વૃષભાન;
અમો કુંવર નંદજીતણા, કોની નવ માનું આણ.

રાધિકા: સમજી બોલો શ્યામળા વહાલા, લોક સાથે શાં લાડ;
ભીખ માગીને પેટ ભરો તો પરમેશ્વરનો પાડ.

શ્રીકૃષ્ણ: ગોપી ગાળ દીયો અદકેરી, છે જોરાવરનો પોરો;
ભીખ માગ્યાની પેર કહું, તું કાન ધરની ઓરો.

રાધિકા: કાન ધર્યાનું કામકાજ શું છે, સમજ્યાં મનની વાત;
એવો કો દેખતી નથી જે, મુને અડાડે હાથ.

શ્રીકૃષ્ણ: જો આવે રાણી ઇંદ્રાણી, તો મૂકી જાએ માન;
તારું સર્વસ્વ લેઉં સુંદરી, તો નામ ધરાવું કાન.

રાધિકા: તું છ વર્ષનો છોકરો ને, ચોરી પીતો છાશ;
સર્વસ્વ આપું શ્યામળા, તું આવે જો મુજ પાસ.

શ્રીકૃષ્ણ: તું મદમાતી આહીરડી, હું નિપટ નાનું બાળ;
બાળપણું દેખાડશું, થવા દેની સંધ્યા કાળ.

રાધિકા: સંવાદ કરતાં દિવસ વીત્યો, અબળા આકળી થાય;
પ્રેમાનંદ પ્રભુ જાવા દીજે, ગોપિકા લાગે પાય.

Category in Beyond The Beaten Track

Man - Woman Relations

Appreciation

Medieval poetry is full of platitudinous love for the divine. Seldom does it depict the struggle between sensuality and spirituality and the struggle for supremacy between the sexes. This section of a long narrative poem of a mock fight between Radha and Krishna, the divine lover, lets the cat out of the bag about this struggle and the ambivalences in man-woman relationships. Of course the divine is supreme and spirituality triumphs – or does it? I found the Freudian slips in the poem more interesting than the façade of the romantic fight between a wench and a six year old ‘lover’.

About The Author

Premanand Bhatt (17th century) was born in the town of Vadodara in a brahmin family. He composed and recited ballads for his livelihood, and for this he traveled widely in Gujarat. He was a devotee of Rama and Krishna, two incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Premanand drew most of his balladic materials from the Indian epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata, Bhagwata (the prime scripture of the followers of Lord Vishnu), and episodes from the life of Narsinh Mehta, 15th century Gujarati poet and devotee of Krishna. Premanand is regarded as Gujarat’s foremost writer of long narrative poems, and his ballads are full of verve, vivid characterizations and descriptions of battles, depictions of love and pathos, flashes of humour, and portrayals of medieval Gujarati society and its mores.