Black Is Beautiful & Bitter

Mahanidhi Swami


Many Gaudiya Vaisnava songs and books say that black is Radha’s favorite color because Radha loves Shyamasundara, who is dark bluish-black in complexion. Radha wraps Her beautiful divine form in a dark blue sari so She can always remember Her Priyatama Shyama.


Radha likes all the following objects because they remind Radha of Her dearest sweetheart Sri Krishna:

Being black in color or by name, Shyama or Krishna and the sakhi named Shyamala;


Amavasya—the moonless dark black night;

Krishna-paksha—waning moon time of the month;

Krishna-sara—Sanskrit for black deer so prominent in Vraja lila; Internal meaning for Sri Radha is “one who takes Krishna as the essence of one’s existence”, Krishna sara.

Bhramara—Shyama-blue bumblebees, whose exciting effulgent color and frantic buzzing incites Radha’s romantic feelings.

Kajjala—black eye-liner cosmetic; which reminds Radhika of Shyama in whichever way She glances because Her eyes, along with Her mind and heart, are always surrounded by the dark Shyamasundara.

Kasturi—black musk dot on Kishori’s chin, placed their in hopes of attracting the beautiful luscious lips of Krishna who shines like a mountain of kasturi.

Winter Season—with long DARK nights giving more time with Shyama;

Tamala Tree—glossy black trunk often embraced by Radha in loving delirium, prema-vivarta. The trees crooked bending shape and rough bark remind Kishori of Krishna’s crooked, and sometimes rough dealings in the unpredictable course of shrngara-rati.

Monsoon Rain Clouds— resemble Shyama’s irridescent hue, and their rumbling resounds like Muralidhara’s flute begging Radha to join Him in rasa;

Blue Lotuses—blossoming like Kishora’s sweet nectar-filled face, wherein the bees of Sriji’s eyes sit to forever drink the sweet syrup therein;

Yamuna River—dark, meandering, mysterious and deep like Shyama wandering in the glen;

Evening—named Shyama in Hindi;

Midnight—the darkest time of night, and best for Bhanunandini to be alone with Shyama;

Sapphire—deep blue bracelets and necklaces; Shyama’s loving hands on My wrists and around My neck.


Sweet Black Becomes Bitter

Although Radha is very satisfied and pleased by all black things, that same sweet color sometimes becomes very, very bitter to Bhanunandini.


Here’s how the sweetness of the color black suddenly turns into the bitterness of poison.

Krishna, detained all night by a rival sakhi, arrives just before sunrise at the gate of Rai Vinodini’s kunja. Upon seeing all the signs of amorous affairs on Shyama’s body, Radhika becomes very upset and enters a deep state of maan—a contrary mood of jealous anger.


At that time, one intimate sakhi said to Radhika, “O Ishvari! I know you like the dark night when the moon is waning, the newly blossoming blue lotus, black bumble bees, the black deer, the dark tamala tree, the dark monsoon clouds, and the dark Yamuna River. But why then, do You dislike charming Krishna, who resembles them in name and form?” (Radha Rasa Sudha Nidhi 89)


Kanha tries to mollify Manini Radha but nothing works. Sriji chases Krishna out of the kunja, vowing never again look at anything black. Then Radhika casts off Her blue sari, blue bangles and sapphire necklace, and dons a red sari, ivory bangles and a pearl necklace.


Radha wipes off the musk dot on Her chin, Her musk tilaka, and the kajjala around Her eyes. Kishori replaces all these with white sandal-paste decorations. When Gandharvika sees a rain cloud, She opens an umbrella to block its view.


Radha white washes all of Vrindavana’s tamala trees, and flatly refuses to meet Her girlfriend named Shyamala. Then Radha stays far away from peacocks because their feathers remind Her of Krishna’s turban.


Noticing Her black hair reflected in a mirror, Srimati breaks the mirror into a hundred pieces. When the sun sets, Radharani covers Her eyes with Her palms to prevent seeing the night.


These wonderful expressions in maan, or contrariness in love, are all part of Radha and Krishna’s divine pastimes in the eternal kingdom of love—Sridhama Vrindavana. Ultimately, everything will end on a sweet note as the Divine Pair meet again with warm embraces and rapturous kisses. And black will once more become sweet and beautiful within the mind and heart of Radha.

Manini Radha ki jai!  Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

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