Close Reading: Safal Rajni – 2

Narsinh Mehta begins this poem without any preamble. It’s a successful night, safal rajni. A woman is speaking about her fulfilling night after which her beloved is kissing her while looking at their reflection in the mirror.  We have been invited straight into the inner sanctum, the temple, the very bedroom of the woman who loves Krishna. And Krishna not just loves her but, has in fact, surrendered himself to her. With delight and without false modesty, she describes how he, reputed to have lifted a mountain to save Gokul village and therefore called, giridhar, though garlanded with delicate flowers, crushes her within his arms. This is a love-battle, no less, and she reports, with both my arms, I overcame the lord of the Yadav clan, famous for strength and bravery. How did she do it? She called the God of Love, madan or kamdev, that is to say, Cupid’s own army to her aid. Everything’s fair in the battle of love and she says, she had no difficulty vanquishing the reportedly unconquerable one, he who rules over the fourteen created worlds. Though he, Narsaiya’s Lord, approached with the force and delicacy seen in a love-struck elephant, she wants everyone to know, she tweaked his ear and he danced to her tune.

The protagonist here is the same as the woman who sang about her “good karma.” From wonder and amazement at the concept of the Lord of the Universe coming to seek her, she has grown to the surety and confidence of a woman who could and did play with that Supreme Being as an equal or better. If in the earlier poem, she was grateful at the blessing of his acknowledgement of her deep love, in this one, she has achieved a sense of empowerment at what this means.

The term safal means “successful” but also literally, in derivation from Sanskrit, it means “with fruit.” I chose the term “Fruitful” in this translation because it pairs well with the verb “burgeons” implying growth, expansion, reaching from one end to the other, all those ideas that suggests total fulfillment in a new achievement. The speaker, after all, has achieved something rather unique. Not only has she played at lovemaking with the Lord but also she has garnered victory, no small thing to feel pride for.

The first stanza has a simple one-word rhyme: keedhu (said) and deedhu (gave). They are expressions in the colloquial idiom, such as might be used by the village population. These action verbs consolidate a description blending more words in this category with words that reach into the literary poetic range because sourced more directly from Sanskrit; e.g., darpan for “mirror” instead of ariso, abhinavi for “praiseworthy,” instead of vakhaan, etc.

Mehta’s creative blending of terms and images effectively dramatizes the character and the event.

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About semiophile2010

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