Black Is Beautiful & Bitter

By: Mahanidhi Swami

The songs and books of the Gaudiya Vaisnava’s mention 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 dark blue sari so She can always remember Her Priyatama Shyama.

Because they are black in color or by name, and remind Radha of Her dearest sweetheart Sri Krishna, Radha likes all the following;

Shyama or Krishna and the sakhi named Shyamala;

Amavasya—the moonless night;

Krishna-paksha—waning moon time of the month;

Krishna-sara—Sanskrit for black deer so prominent in Vraja lila;

Bhramara—Shyama-blue bumblebees;

Kajjala—black eye-liner cosmetic;

Kasturi—black musk dot on Kishori’s chin;

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

Tamala Tree—glossy black trunk often embraced by Radha in prema delirium;

Rain Clouds— resemble Shyama’s hue and their rumbling like Muralidhara’s flute;

Blue Lotuses—blossoming like Kishora’s sweet nectar-filled face;

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

Evening—named Shyama in Hindi;

Midnight—the darkest time of night, beautiful alone with Shyama;

Sapphire—deep blue bracelets and necklaces;

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

Once an 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)

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.

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.

Radha whitewashes the tamala trees and refuses to meet Her girlfriend named Shyamala. And 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 not see 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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