In this excerpt from Rabindranath Tagore’s The Lover of God, Radha speaks to her friend and confidant about her longing for Krishna: her “Dark Lord Syama.”
The Yamuna is a tributary of India’s Ganges river. It’s in the forest along the banks of the Yamuna that Krishna dances and plays with the gopis: the cowherds enchanted by his divine music.
In this poem, the “luminous Yamuna” can be understood also as a reference to the Shushumna Nadi – the central channel of the subtle body – whose awakening symbolizes the remembrance of our True Nature.
Listen, can you hear it?
His bamboo flute speaks
the pure language of love.
The moon enlightens the trees,
the path, the sinuous Yamuna.
Oblivious of the jasmine’s scent
I stagger around,
disheveled heart bereft of modesty,
eyes wet with nerves and delight.
Tell me, dear friend, say it aloud:
is he not my own Dark Lord Syama?
Is it not my name his flute pours
into the empty evening?
For eons I longed for God,
I yearned to know him.
That’s why he has come to me now,
deep emerald Lord of my breath.
O Syama, whenever your faraway flute thrills
through the dark, I say your name,
only your name, and will my body to dissolve
in the luminous Yamuna.
~ Rabindranath Tagore
(trans. Stewart & Twichell)