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Narrations on the pastimes of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Radha-Krishna.

Radha's Anklebells and the Rasa Dance - The Service of Tulasi

Malatilata - Sun, 21 Jul 2002 22:00:37 +0530

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Sri Sri Vilapa Kusumanjali, verse 31

pAdAmbhoje maNimaya tulakoTi yugmena yatnAd
abhyarce tad dala-kulam api preSTha pAdAGgulIyaiH
kaJci-dAmnA kaTi-taTam idam prema-pIThaM sunetre
kaMsArAter atulam acirAd arcayiSyAmi kiM te

“O Sunetre (fair-eyed girl)! Will I soon worship Your lotusfeet by carefully putting jewelled anklebells on them, and worship the petals of those lotuses (Your toes) with Your dearest toerings? Will I soon worship Your waist, which is Krishna’s matchless loveseat, with a golden sash of jingling bells?”
[Excerpt from the commentary of Ananta Das Pandit, based on the narration of Ananda Gopal Gosvami:]

Sri Raghunatha floats into the kingdom of lila on the waves of prayers. Tulasi worships Sri Radhika’s lotus feet with anlkebells. The word abhyarce in the text means ’formal worship’, which usually means regular worship of the Deity in the temple with incense, flowers, bath and so on. It is quite unusual to worship with anklebells, waistbells and toerings, but such are the ingredients of worship in the transcendental kingdom of Radha and Krishna’s pastimes.

Sometimes when Sri Radhika goes out at night to meet Krishna (abhisara) She wraps Her cloth around Her anklebells to stifle them. Why doesn’t She take them off altogether? She wants to make them jingle later, when She approaches the trysting-kunja, so that Krishna can hear Her coming. Krishna will be so eager for Her to come that He stares down the road for Her at every moment, always imagining that He hears Her footsteps when He hears the dry leaves falling from the trees. So these anklebells are meant to drive Him mad. Also during intimate pastimes they drive Him mad, so they are the best possible ingredient for this formal worship, and Tulasi is the ’priest’ who performs that worship. The jewelled anklebells are shimmering on Sri Radhika’s beautiful lotus feet. Tulasi says: ”How will You make the rasa-dance glorious without having Your jingling anklebells on? You have to madden Your hero, don’t you? Svamini shows the thoughts on Her mind through Her artistic dancing. The anklebells jingle along with every gesture She makes during the dance.
nAgara nAcata nAyarI saGga
vividha yantra koto zabda taraGga
balaya ghuGgura maNi kiGkiNI kalane
nUpura runu jhunu bAjata caraNe

“The hero dances with the heroine and different musical instruments make waves of sound. The bangles, waistbells and anklebells all resound on Their limbs.”
The more ecstatic the gopis dance, the louder their anlkebells jingle! Syama plays His flute and the jingling of Svamini’s anklebells enhances the sweetness of His fluteplaying. Suddenly one of these anklebells falls off, so that Syama’s flute does not sound so sweet anymore. It is as if something is missing. Syama looks in all four directions ans then finds out that one anklebell is missing on Svamini’s feet. Syama tucks His flute in His belt and hangs the anklebell back on Svamini’s foot with both hands. Now His flute sounds as sweet as before again. Sometimes a kinkari may also put the anklebell back while she dances and dances. While Tulasi makes Svamini relish this rasa she puts the jeweled anklebells on Her feet.