Radha Krishna's
Flower Adornment


Lotus-Clad Radha and Krishna Flower Adornment - Phulsajjya
Lotus-Clad Radha and Krishna Flower Adornment - Phulsajjya

Lotus-Clad Radha and Krishna

Clad entirely in lotus petals and sitting on lotus thrones, Radha and Krishna here gaze intently into each other's eyes. Images of Radha and Krishna in flower adornment (phulsajjya) are somewhat rare, and the absence of inscription to accompany such paintings prevents a precise definition of the significance of this divine Lila.

Lotuses, however, are multivalent symbols with a long history of use in the religious imagery of the Indian subcontinent. Since lotuses rise gleaming and fresh out of muddy ponds, they generally represent fertility and purity. The lotus-petal garments further suggest a common act of devotional worship through the offering of flowers to the gods. Within the specific context of the worship of Radha and Krishna, the lotus may refer to the blissful union of the two in the land of Brindavan, Krishna's childhood home. Pilgrimage maps often depicted Brindavan in the shape of a lotus. Radha's lotus braid is a charming extra detail added by the artist.

(India, Punjab Hills, Basohli, ca. 1730. Opaque watercolor on paper.
Lent by the Gursharan and Elvira Sidhu Collection.

The flower ornaments of the divine couple are

1. flower crown, 2. flowers in the hair, 3. flower earrings, 4. flowers decorating the forehead, 5. flower necklaces, 6. flower armlets, 7. flower sashes, 8. flower braelets, 9. flower anklets, 10. flower bodices and many other kinds of flower ornaments. Just as these ornaments may be fashioned from precious jewels, gold or other materials, in the same way they may be made of flowers.

(from Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa-Gaṇoddeśa-Dīpikā)
Verses 140-164

There are numerous varieties of ornaments made of flowers: crowns (kirīṭas), hair bands (bāla-pāśyās), ear ornaments (karṇapūras), forehead decorations (lalāṭikās), necklaces (graiveyakas), upper arm bracelets (aṅgadas), waistbelts (kāñcīs), ankle bells (kaṭakas), bangles (maṇi-bandhanīs), feet decorations (haṁsakas), bodices (kañculīs) and many others. In their forms, varieties and so forth, the ornaments made of flowers are no less than the ornaments made of jewels, gold and other precious metals. (140)

Kirīṭam (Crown) - Crowns are made by very expertly joining flowers such as raṅginī [blue colour], svarṇa-yūthī [golden], navamālikā [white] and sumālikā whose colours resemble rubies; gomeda; pearls; and moon-stones. The crowns are made so beautifully that they appear to shine as the aforementioned jewels.
The flower crowns known as puspapara are the best of all and they are more pleasing than even the best jeweled crowns (ratnapara). Lalita-devi learned how to make these puspapara crowns from Srimati Radharani. These puspapara crowns are made with flowers and flower buds of five different colors arranged in five points.s This crown is especially used to decorate Srimati Radharani. (141)

These specific crowns have seven crests made of buds of the golden ketakī flowers as well as of colourful substances such as red ochre (gairika). The kirīṭa is a decoration for the head and Śrī Kṛṣṇa is extremely fond of them. What more is there to say? Since this decoration is the best of all flower decorations, it is also known as Puṣpapāra. It is even more valued than the best of jewels. Śrī Lalitā Sakhī learned to expertly make them from Gāndharvā Śrīmatī Rādhā. Śrī Lalitā-devī also makes five-crested crowns for Śrīmatī Rādhā out of flowers and flower buds of five colours. (142–144)

Bāla-pāśyā: (Hair-tying bands) -  A garland made of various colourful flower buds closely strung together and placed on the hair is called bāla-pāśyā. It helps to tie the hair and increases the beauty of the hair. (145)

Ear ornaments (karṇapūraḥ) - Skilled craftsmen say there are five kinds of earrings. They are known by the names tāṭaṅka, kuṇḍala, puṣpī, karṇikā and karṇa-veṣṭana. (146)

Tāṭaṅkaṁ - A hollow gold post worn in the ear is called a tāṭaṅkaṁ. Tāṭaṅkas, which look like palm leaves, are of two kinds. In the first variety the petal of golden ketaki flower is attached to this earring. In the second kind the petal of some other colorful flower is attached. (147)

Kuṇḍala - When an earring is fashioned from flowers in order to resemble a certain object, the earring is called kuṇḍalam. There are many different kinds of kuṇḍala earrings. The flowers may be arranged to resemble peacocks, sharks (makaras), lotuses, half-moons or many other things. (148)

Puṣpī - The puṣpī earrings are made by stringing together four types of differently-coloured flowers in sequence to form a round circle with a large guñja berry in the middle. (149)

Karṇikā - The karnika earring is fashioned from the whorl of a blue lotus surrounded by yellow flowers. In the middle are a Bhṛṅgī flower and pomegranate flower. When the flower earring is so large it completely covers the ear, the earring is known as karṇa-veṣṭanam. (150)

Karṇa-veṣṭanam -  The round ear-rings which overspread the whole ear are called karṇa-veṣṭana. (151)

Lalāṭikā (Decoration for the forehead) - A garland of flowers placed on the upper forehead along the hairline is called lalāṭikā. Lalāṭikā is made of flowers of two different colours: red in the middle of the garland and the other color flowers on the two sides. It is fastened at the top of the head and follows the parting of the hair to the forehead. Its flowers are arranged in an artistic way. (152)

Graiveyaka (Necklace/ flower collar) - Made of a single kind of flower, a necklace strung four times around the neck and beautified in the middle by vines and leaves is called graiveyaka. The ornament hangs from the neck in a round fashion like garlands. (153)

Aṅgada (armlet) - Armlet worn on the upper arm above the elbow (aṅgadam)
A flower-armlet (aṅgada) may be fashioned of three kinds of different coloured flowers strung one after another to resemble a round flower creeper. (154)

Kāñcī (sash/ waist-belt) - A sash or waist belt is made of five different kinds of colourful flowers, artistically strung together in a gently waving pattern, such flower decoration is called kāñcī (waist belt). (155)

Kaṭakāḥ (flower anklets) - Anklets made of many different flower buds are called kaṭakāḥ. These anklets are made by stringing together many kinds of flower buds and stems of fruits or leaves, using a fine stalk as the thread. Many different kinds of anklets can be made. (156)

Maṇi-bandhanī (bracelet) - Maṇi-bandhanī is made with flowers of four different colours. Three flower-strings hang down from it. Maṇi-bandhanī is tied around the wrist. (157)

Haṁsaka (flower shoes) - Ornaments for the feet are called haṁsakaḥ The haṁsaka covers the entire top part and side part of the foot. It is beautifully constructed, and small strings made of the buds of the main flowers [of the ornament] swing from it. (158)

Kañculī (blouse/ flower bodice) - A blouse or bodice made of flowers of six colors, artistically arranged and perfumed with musk, and it is fastened around the neck with flower strings, is called a kañculī. (159)

Chatra (parasol/umbrella) -  A flower parasol is called a chatra.Umbrellas (parasol) are made by attaching strings of white flowers to thin wooden sticks and decorating a wooden handle with golden jūhī flowers. (160)

Śayanam (Couch/ Bed) - A wide mat-tress (Bed) is made of strings of navamallikā flowers [tender camelī flowers]. A pillow is made by joining campaka and aśoka flowers and a huge quantity of mallikā [camelī] flowers. (161)

Ullocaḥ (an awning) - An ulloca [a type of candrātapa] or awning is made of a latticework of various colorful flowers, ketakī petals and various leaves. Many mallikā flowers hang down from this awning. (162)

Candrātapaḥ (an awning)  - When the walls of an awning are made of radiant strings of pearl-like sindhuvāra flowers and garlands made of freshly blooming lotus flowers hang down from its middle, it is called a candrātapa. (163)

Veśma (flower cottage, hut) - Many kinds of huts can be constructed by using various flowers to decorate four pillars made of reeds, placing the pillars in the four corners, and decorating all the sides with strings of various kinds of flowers. (164)

Radha Krishna Premambhoja-maranda-stava-raja The Nectar of the Lotus of Love
Radha Krishna Premambhoja-maranda-stava-raja The Nectar of the Lotus of Love

(from Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa-Gaṇoddeśa-Dīpikā)

Verses 140-164

Verse 140
haṁsakaḥ kañculītyādi vividhaṁ puṣpa-maṇḍanam
maṇi-svarṇādi-klṛptasya maṇḍanasyātra
yādṛśaḥ ākāraś ca prakāraś ca kausumasya ca tādṛśaḥ

Verse 141
raṅgiṇī-hema-yūthībhir navamālī-sumālibhiḥ
vinyastābhir yathā śobhamābhiḥ suṣṭhu vinirmitam

Verse 142-144
kṛta-sapta-śikhaṁ hema-ketakī-korakacchadaiḥ
citrakair dhātubhiś citraiś citta-hāri harer idam

kirīṭaṁ puṣpapārākhyaṁ ratnapārād api priyam
gāndharvātaḥ kṛtiṁ yasya lalitā samaśikṣata

tat tu pañca-śikhaṁ puṣpaiḥ pañca-varṇair vinirmitam
korakair api gāndharvābhūṣaṇaṁ mukuṭaṁ bhavet

Verse 145
keśa-bandhana-ḍorī ca vicitraiḥ korakādibhiḥ
āvali gumphitā gāḍhaṁ bāla-pāśyeti kīrttitā

Verse 146
tāṭaṅkaṁ kuṇḍalaṁ puṣpī karṇikā karṇa-veṣṭanam
iti pañca-vidhaḥ proktaḥ karṇapūro ’tra śilpibhiḥ

Verse 147
tāla-patrākṛtir bhūṣā taṭaṅkaḥ sa dvidhoditaḥ
citra-puṣpa-kṛtaḥ svarṇa-ketakī-dala-jas tathā

Verse 148
svānurūpaiḥ kṛtaṁ puṣpaiḥ kuṇḍalaṁ bahudhoditam

Verse 149
catur-varṇaiḥ kramāt puṣpaiś cakravālatayā kṛtaḥ
madhye paryāpta-guñjo ’yaṁ stavakaiḥ puṣpikocyate

Verse 150
rājīva-karṇikākārā pīta-puṣpair vinirmitā
bhṛṅgikā-dāḍimī-puṣpa-prota-madhyātra karṇikā

Verse 151
yat tu karṇaṁ veṣṭayati vṛttaṁ tat karṇa-veṣṭanaṁ

Verse 152
dvi-varṇa-puṣpa-racitā dvi-pārśvā śoṇa-madhyamā
alakāvali-mūla-sthā puṣpapāṭī lalāṭikā

Verse 153
varttulāś ca catur-grīvā kausumyo yatra koṣṭhikāḥ
tad-varṇa-puṣpakair madhyaṁ jñeyaṁ graiveyakas tu tat

TEXT 154
klṛptaṁ puṣpa-latātantu protair maṇḍalatāṁ gataiḥ
tri-varṇopary-upary-upta-tri-puṣpānanam aṅgadam

Verse 155
kṣudra-jhallari-saṁvītā citra-gumpha-karambitā
pañca-varnair-viracitā kusumaiḥ kāñcir ucyate

Verse 156
kṛtta-vṛntair latātantau protair ekaikaśas tu yaḥ
kalpita vividhaiḥ puṣpaiḥ kaṭakā bahudhoditāḥ

Verse 157
kara-ḍorī kusumajā kīrttitā maṇi-bandhanī

Verse 158
pṛthulā ca catuḥ-śṛṅgī puṣpa-śṛṅgāṭa-lambikā
pārśve saumanasī gumphā sphuranti haṁsako bhavet

Verse 159
kastūrī-vāsitā kaṇṭha-lambi-gucchātra kañculī

Verse 160
śuklaiḥ ṣūkṣma-śalākāli-paryuptaiḥ kusumaiḥ kṛtam
svarṇa-yūthī-cita-cchatra-daṇḍaṁ chatram udīryate

Verse 161
campakāśoka-paryāpta mallī-gumphita-geṇḍukā
navamālī-kṛtā tūlī vistīrṇā śayanaṁ bhavet

Verse 162
sūcī-vāpa-sadṛk citra-puṣpa-vinyāsa-nirmitaḥ
khaṇḍitaiḥ ketakī-patraiḥ parṇavān malli-lambibhiḥ

TEXT 163
pārśve ca suphalan muktā-sindhuvāra-kalāpakam
madhya-lambi-navāmbhojaś candrātapa itīryate

Verse 164
śarakāṇḍaiḥ kṛta-stambhā citra-puṣpādi-saṁvṛtaiḥ
puṣpaiḥ kṛta-catuḥ-khaṇḍi vividhair veśma bhaṇyate