The Meeting of Krishna Disguised as a Female Singer

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Fourth Prank – The Meeting of Krishna Disguised as a Female Singer

from the Camatkara Candrika of Visvanatha Cakravarti



Kundalata continued:

“On Brihaspati’s order, the brahmana brought Kalavali before him.

Brihaspati said:

“Most intelligent of young girls, your genius is matchless and Your voice defeats the cooing of cuckoos.

How wonderful!

I will therefore instruct You in the topmost knowledge of the Gandharvas.

Such a fine intelligence and sweet voice cannot be found in the realm of human beings, or even Kinnaras[1].”

So Brihaspati instructed this girl for the duration of his month’s stay in Mathura.

Then he took Her with him when he returned to the heavenly planets and taught Her there for yet another year.

She returned to the Earth planet at the end of the month of Asvina[2], and came to Mathura only yesterday.

“Now, today at dusk, She has come before You here in Vraja.”



“My dear Kalavali! Please sing a song for Me!”



“O Vrindavanesvari[3], which raga would You like to hear Me sing?”



“”Malava raga[4] is proper to be sung at this time of the evening.”



“Sumukhi[5], in which melody should I sing?”



“Please sing in sadaja[6].”



“In which of the four different srutis[7] of that melody will I sing?”



“O beautiful one, if one has a bodily disorder in which the kapha[8] or vata[9] in the throat is out of balance, it is not possible to sing purely.

In the same way, it is not possible to sing pure notes without the backing of a vina[10].

Nonetheless, I would like to hear You sing a sweet song full of the various attributes of music such as raga[11], tala[12], svara[13], gamaka[14], jati[15], tana[16] and grama[17].”



“Radha, who in this universe is as expert in music and song as You are?

I can only sing simple melodies.

Please listen.”


Saying this, Kalavali began to sing:

“Ta na na na ta na na ri,”

in such a beautiful voice that She put to shame both the peacocks and the bumblebees.


When Radha’s dear sakhis heard Kalavali’s sweet singing, rivers of tears flowed from their eyes.


As the song progressed, their rapture and enchantment became such that their tears even stopped flowing.


Then, at the song’s completion, those tears pattered to the ground like a shower of small stones.


Radha’s heart had become as hard as a diamond because of Her mana, but now it was melting, and this surprised Her.


Radha, enchanted by the music, said:

“Oh Kalavali!

Your fascinating song simply belittles the nectar
of the gods!

Oh Kalavali!

I have become completely enchanted by your unique qualities!

I now cherish a great desire within My mind: I fancy that a girl as talented as you should always
live by My side!

By that, then only will My birth become successful!

Oh most qualified Kalavali!

Only Sri Nanda-nandana is capable of understanding the glories of your talent.

Dear girlfriend!

If He were to hear your singing, then He would indeed wear you around His neck, accepting you to be a permanent necklace!”



“Radha, among women, Kalavali is the very epitome of virtue, so do not speak to Her like this.

You should personally embrace Her; don’t do anything else.”[18]


Radha then stepped forward to embrace Kalavali and to present Her with a precious necklace, but Lalita whispered in Sri Radha’s ear:


“Radhe! Who are You just about to embrace?

This must be Your wicked lover, that rogue has come in the disguise of a woman!”[19]


Radha replied outloud:

“My dear friend Lalita, you give supremely valuable advices.

Indeed, after careful consideration you are speaking the truth.

I was going to express My appreciation by simply presenting Her with a necklace, but that would not show Her proper respect.

I shall therefore present Her with all sorts of jewelled ornaments and fine garments.”[20]


Radha then turned to Rupa-manjari and said:

“O Rupa-manjari, carefully dress Kalavali right before Me in a bright new outfit of many colours.

Take off Her old bodice, and quickly cover Her raised breasts with a new one.”[21]


Kundalata promptly spoke up:

“Beautiful-faced Radha, please do not take off this beautiful young girl’s clothes, for She will feel shy and embarrassed in front of You.

Just present Her with whatever You want to give Her, and let Her take it home to try on there.”[22]



“Sakhi Kalavali, everyone knows that women never feel bashful or fearful when there are only other women around.

Tell Me, are You not creating the thorny obstacle of shyness on this very happy occasion?”[23]



“Oh Radhe!

I will not accept a single necklace, cloth or ornament from You.

Oh simple, innocent girl!

Am I not the daughter of a well-to-do singer?

If You really are pleased with me, then just step close and give me a warm hug, and I will be satisfied with that.

I tell You truly that other than a loving embrace, I have no hankering at all for any type of riches.”[24]



“Oh, sakhi, why are You so contrary?

Why do You refuse My offer?

Please put on these fine garments and jewelled ornaments. If You do not comply willingly, I will dress You Myself by force. Look, You are alone, and I have hundreds of sakhis with Me.

Silly girl, I warn You not to act so independently before Me.

I am telling You, just be careful!”


Having said this, Radha ordered the sakhis to change Kalavali’s dress.

Hearing this order, two Sakhis immediately stepped forward and untied the back and shoulder-knots that held on the bodice worn by the Kalavali-disguised Krishna.

The very second it was loosened, two very large kadamba flowers suddenly popped out and fell from Krishna’s chest onto the floor.[25]



“Aha! What has fallen out of Her bodice?!”


Rupa-manjari and all the other maidservants clapped their hands with glee, and then shyly covered their laughing moon-like faces with their veils.


Vrishabhanu-nandini Sri Radha turned Her back on Krishna and sat down.


When the sakhis saw what Krishna had done, they tried to suppress their mirth by holding their veils over their mouths.

Unable to control themselves, however, they burst into loud peals of laughter.


Without uttering a word, Radha also joined in, and at last, so did Krishna and Kundalata.


Thus, within that very room, the hasya-rasa[26] became obviously present in personified form, and verily attained the post as the most luscious object of taste for what seems like hours and hours.

The sakhis began to address the two kadamba flowers, saying:


“O great big kadamba flowers, of everyone on the face of this Earth it is you who are truly blessed.

You are not usually duplicitous, but you have become so by your association with this cunning person.

As flowers of a tree, you know no cunning. But now that you are in the hands of this cheater, you are showing such shamelessness that you have assumed the form of a young girl’s breasts.

We are all drowning in an ocean of the nectar of laughter because of you.”


The sakhis asked Kundalata:

“Oh, Kundalata, where has your companion Bashfulness gone now?”[27]



“Bashfulness and Kundalata have both drowned in the depths of the water of Patala-loka[28].

You cannot see them now.”[29]



 “If Kundalata and her sakhi named Bashfulness have drowned and passed away, then who are you?”



“Oh, I am only her shadow.”



“If you have departed, then how is it that I am now seeing your shadow?”



“I have nothing to say,

May the goddess of speech dance upon your tongue.”[30]



“Kundalata, your love for Brihaspati’s disciple and your good association with Her has been increasing steadily since your childhood.

There is no trace of a false statement on your tongue.

Your glories are heard again and again throughout Vraja, and it is proclaimed that you instruct chaste girls in their own righteous activities.

Thus you perform great deeds on behalf of Kamadeva.

Unfortunately, your desire was not fulfilled today, and consequently you have to tolerate great pain.

Sakhi Kundalata, how supremely intelligent you are.

Today you proudly came to our assembly from far away and have with great endeavour tried to sell this knowledge you received from your guru.

But alas, you have not been able to sell your knowledge, and instead you have quickly become a laughing stock.

Maybe you came at an inauspicious time.”[31]



“Lalita, I can easily sell this knowledge in the market place of the sakhis and fulfil My desires.

Now give Me that bodice, or I will dress you up in it.”[32]


When Lalita heard this, she said:

“Can dried-up flowers ever bud into fresh sprouts?

When the life has left someones’s body, can any endeavor on the part of others bring it back again?

Will anyone continue to worship a proud and arrogant person even after the real truth about his nature is exposed?

Dear Lord!

There’s absolutely no necessity of you displaying any more of your mischievous tricks of mind-boggling ingenuity; now you are free to go.”[33]


At this, Sri Krishna picked up the two kadamba flowers from the floor and left.

Replacing the flowers in his bodice as false breasts again, he then went boldly into Jatila’s quarters[34].


Coming before Jatila, he begun rolling on the ground and cried out loudly, lamenting piteously in a very mournful voice.


Seeing all this, Jatila became very touched with sorrow. Coming forward, she asked:

“Who are You, my daughter?

Where have You come from?

Why are You crying?

Has someone harmed You?

Wipe the tears from Your lotus-face and tell me everything.”


Trembling, Kalavali told Her sad story in a faltering voice.

“O noble lady.

Alas, alas, how unfortunate I am!

Fie upon My body.

Fie upon My very birth.

Hundreds upon hundreds of curses have fallen upon My head.


Exclaiming all this, Kalavali then simply lied there on the ground before old Jatila and begun to shiver and tremble.


Then, with half-broken syllables she spoke faintly:

“I reside in King Vrishabhanu’s town, and I am the daughter of Kirtida’s sister[35].

I have had a close, loving relationship with Radha since My childhood.

I came from My home, eagerly looking forward to meeting Her again after a long time.


Radha will not so much as glance My way, what to speak of embrace Me with love and affection.

When She saw Me, She would not smile sweetly at Me, not even once.

Nor was She attentive to even once inquiring about My well-being.

What is the use of My staying alive?

I shall give up My life right now before you.

Noble lady, please try to recall whether you know of any offence I have committed against Radha.

And please ask Her again and again why She is angry with Me.”


Jatila’s heart immediately became softened and melted just to hear such pitiful exclamations and sorrowful lamentations of Kalavali.

The old woman felt very sad and spoke sweetly:


“O daughter, calm down and do not be afraid.

You have not committed any offence. I am going to settle this right now.

I will arrange that Radha soon gives You all Her love and affection. I will see to it that She embraces You and talks to You.

And what is more, this very night You will both rest together on the same bed.”


Saying this, Jatila took Kalavali along and quickly went to the palatial quarters of her daughter-in-law Radhika.


Seeing all the girls present before her, Jatila begun to admonish them in a slightly raised voice.


She said to Lalita:

“Lalita, why is my daughter-in-law in such a contrary mood today?

Her own cousin-sister has come from Her father’s town, eager to see Her, but She is neglecting Her.

Why will She not speak kindly to Her?”


Jatila then addressed Radha:

“O Sucarita[36], O my daughter, You are full of good qualities.

My dear daughter-in-law, just look.

This unhappy girl’s clothes are wet from Her tears.

My heart is filled with deep compassion for Her.

Remove the pain from Her heart: embrace Her properly, ask Her about Her well-being, and speak to Her affectionately.

Make Her happy as She was before, and then I will also be satisfied.”


[1] A celestial musician half man and half horse.

[2] September / October

[3] Queen of Vrindavana.

[4] Generally representing a king in love.

[5] Beautiful-faced one

[6] The “sa” note.

[7] Lyrics, the smallest interval of pitch that the human ear can detect and a singer or musical instrument can produce.

[8] The qualities of Kapha are unctuous, cool, heavy, slow, smooth, soft and static.

[9] The qualities of Vata are dry, light, cool, rough, subtle, and mobile.

[10] A nice musical instrument used even by Demigods.

[11] A scale

[12] Rhythmic cycles

[13] Musical notes

[14] Ornaments

[15] The particular class of raga

[16] Improvised variations

[17] The Vedic system of melody

[18] Kundalata intervened because she knew that Krishna did not want any jewelry but only Radha’s embraces.

[19] Lalita had unerstood to have been cheated and wanted Radharani to be warned.

[20] Srimati Radharani had by now understood the blunder and quickly made a plan.

[21] By undressing Kalavali, Krishna’s trick would have been revealed and also He would have been humiliated.

[22] Kundalata tried to avert the disaster.

[23] Radha is saying, if you are a girl, what is the problem in getting undressed in front of all of us, who are girls like you?

[24] Krishna is afraid of being discovered and he says, I don’t want anything. Just embrace Me.

[25] Krishna had put two large kadamba flower to fake a breast.

[26] The transcendental mellow of the most comical joking mood

[27] The sakhis are questioning Kundalata, are you not ashamed to have helped Krishna in this deceit?

[28] The lowest planetary system.

[29] Kundalata is now feigning shame.

[30] It appears here that Kundalata did not know how to continue the playful dialogue.

[31] She wanted to help Krishna but the final result is that she became the object of laughing stock.

[32] Krishna could have all the sakhis He wanted but His real desire was to have Radharani’s embrace.

[33] Lalita: Your trick has been exposed and there is no way to revive it.

[34] Not easy to be defeated, Krishna conceived another plan.

[35] Kirtida had a sister called Kirtimati.

[36] Girl of good conduct


This is a section of the book “Camatkara Candrika”, in English.

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