Adapted from Sri Jiva Goswami’s Gopala Campu by Swami B.V. Tripurari.

Having been betrothed to others and had their aspirations for the son on Nanda’s hand in marriage dashed, the young milk maidens each independently decided to enter the depths of the Yamuna and give up their lives for love—love lost, or so it seemed. Meeting together for the first time and seeing their own plight in the eyes of each other they bonded with one another then and there. Among them, Radha spoke of her intent first, that which was on all of their minds.

If my parents have given this body to someone else, then it is as if it were possessed by a ghost, and for it to remain alive—haunted, as it were—such would be even more ignominious than death. Fie on this body that is capable of tolerating the misery of association with someone else! I am duty bound to forcefully sacrifice it to the younger brother of Balarama in a sacred place.

Joining hands together and following Radha’s lead, the young maidens all entered the river uttering this prayer:

O Kalindi, goddess of the Yamuna, I pray to you that the king and queen of the cowherd settlement become my in-laws; that the brother of Rama become my husband; that this village of Vrindavana always remain my play-garden; and that these other girls, whose hands are bound in each others out of mutual affection and who have also immersed themselves in your waters, always be my friends. To this end I take shelter of you.

Although their resolve was certainly noble, it was one that goddess Kalindi could not bear. Thus she appeared before the young maidens and pulled them from her depths and onto her shore, assuring them that no other would ever have their hand. Coming to assist the goddess, the wise Paurnamasi, accompanied by the virtuous Vrinda and the young brahman boy Madhumangala, also appeared on the scene. To date, these two young companions of the elderly Paurnamasi—the latter of whom was her own kin—had never met the son of Nanda. And it was from the river, after assuring the girls of their auspicious future well worth living for, that they went to the moonstone on which Krishna sat in meditation—a meditation so deep that it resembled the darkness of the depths of the Yamuna—in a yoga of despair.

Hiding and speaking in a choked-up voice full of emotion, Paurnamasi said the following regarding the beauty of Radha’s face, a face that put the moon and lotus flower—emblems of this world’s beauty—to shame: “The moon who lights up the night is doubtlessly the personification of faults. The lotus too is merely filth rising out of the water, but Radha’s face is the abode of all delight.”

Then, in a reassuring tone, she spoke softly as she slowly approached Krishna, afraid of fainting all the while: “How can that which you already own be difficult to attain, when one like myself has become completely subservient to you?”

Although filled with emotion himself, Krishna held back his feelings and only shyness emerged through his eyes. But to dam such emotion up with no outlet for it to flow and resolve itself is not healthy. Thus the wise Paurnamasi gifted him her own auspicious sweetness in the form of the brahman boy, Madhumangala, uniting the two hand in hand. To this gesture of wise love Hari responded enthusiastically, “This is the perfect gift that will be essential to my pleasure.”

Looking at Madhumangala, Krishna embraced him in affectionate bonding. And the brahman boy returned Hari’s embrace as each other’s hairs stood on end. Then, as Krishna and Madhumangala demonstrated their single-minded allegiance to one another by remaining side by side, the dark moon of Vrindavana gazed at Vrinda and asked just who the young lady behind Paurnamasi was. To which Paurnamasi replied, “Don’t you recognize her?” Krishna answered, “Is she the one after whose name this forest has been named and is now known as being effulgent (dhama)?”

Paurnamasi them instructed Vrinda devi that from this day forward she should always attend to Krishna as if she were his servant. Then, as Paurnamasi and Vrinda left Krishna to rejoin his friends, Krishna, lifted significantly by these recent events, spoke intimately with Madhumangala regarding what he had observed earlier at the Yamuna’s shore: “Why did Pauranamasi come here from the Yamuna, and what were Radha and the other gopis doing there? And why does my throat choke up as I speak about these things?”

Hearing Madhumangala’s reply, Krishna sighed in relief and said, “Come then, let’s go and join my other cowherd friends.”

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