Narsinh Mehta Poem 4 Discussion

If poem number two gave us the confident woman, secure in her victory over the beloved, the devotee empowered by the love of the Divine, and poem number three showed us the pure innocence of the love between the devotee and the Divine as playmates, poem number four brings her understanding to a startlingly different level.

Here is a prose approximation of the poem.

Last night, Nathji arrived. His  eyes wandered, his body swayed. On both his arms he had a beautiful woman hanging on his neck. The palace shone beyond compare. I faced him, losing my vexation. I stood transfixed, seeing this love. My heart gladdened to see Prabhu in the joyful night. With his own head, my rivals’ four feet Prabhu laid on the bed. I feel more delight than a physical union to see such a sight. Says Naarsahinyo: That love is always new where Govind’s essence unites his followers in singing his praises. What does Brahma know of the tale of physical love? It is the half-pain of fulfilled privilege.

In a clear state of intoxication, the Beloved arrives with not one but two beauties. The speaker is first transfixed and then experiences the wonder of God’s love for every single devotee. Narsinh’s comment in the last stanza explains this phenomenon. She has progressed from the revelation that love with Krishna is empowering and yet innocent and playful to a further stage of self forgetfulness. There can only be an incomplete sense of achievement about something like making the world, a physical realm, which Brahma, the Creator, accomplished. Attuning the soul to Krishna’s essence allows the devotee to experience the passion that is forever new, an eternal love meditation.

In the first three poems, the speaker refers to “Narsinh’s Lord,” saying he is “well met,” “[I] made Narsinh’s Lord dance,” and “in playing with Narsinh’s Lord.”  Here the expression is bhane Naarsahinyo, or “Says Naarasahinyo.” The poet, in announcing himself as the speaker, asserts his own apprehension of the wondrous phenomenon. When the love is Divine, every individual is empowered, innocent, and joyful in the company of others in love with God.

So, let’s hearken back to my earlier post “Tell My Story”

Narsinh tells the narrator, Listen, in Vrindavan, color, rhythm, music, and dancing ruled the scene illuminated with torches as Krishna seemed to dance with every single person there exclusively. Each milkmaid thought he was hers alone. I stood holding one of the torches and every man there felt he was a milkmaid dancing with the one beloved. I know I felt that. Do you feel that when you hear my songs?

If you like miracles, imagining that Narsinh Mehta, in the early fifteenth century, saw Shiva appear before him and take him to Krishna who gave him a chance to see His eternal ras lila in person, is really very appealing. What’s more significant to me is that this mortal man’s poetry powerfully illustrates that emotion in the emerging language of the local people. He draws on formal, sacred scriptures and and the poetic wealth of his forbears and contemporaries and blends all of that with the experience of the people among whom he lived. Such skill clearly entitles him to be among the world’s foremost literary names.

About meenapoetartisan

word lover, meaning maniac, bilingual with metalingual interests, sometimes potter, poet, playwright, writer, mover to music, always a pontificator.
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