He's a Sweetie


mmSweet lips
mmSweet face
mmSweet eyes
mmSweet laugh
mmSweet gait

mmSweet talk
mmSweet adventures
Sweet costume
Sweet turningwalkingwandering

Sweet flute mm
Sweet hands mm
Sweet feet  even the dust on his feet
Sweet his dancing
Sweet his friendship

mmSweet how he sings drinks eats sleeps swims
mmSweet looks
Sweet the sacred mark on his forehead

Sweet how he does what he does
Even when he pilfers
And when he pukes
Sweet when he's calm
The very thought of him

Sweet his neck-chain sweet the berries on it sweet his favorite river Yamuna sweet its waves waters lotus sweet sweet sweet

Sweet his girlfriends
Sweet the loveplay
Sweet meeting  painfully-sweet parting
Sweet how he looks acts

Sweet-cowherds sweet-cows sweet-cane
Sweet his creation

He's a Sweetie
Without exception

translated from the Sanskrit by Mani Rao

Read the original in Sanskrit

Read translator’s note

Vallabhācārya (1479–1531 CE) is a prominent figure associated with the bhakti (devotional) movement in 15th CE India. Author of commentaries on Sanskrit texts including the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, he founded the devotional Pushti-marg in India, with its devotion to Krishna, especially baby Krishna.

Mani Rao is the author of eight books of poetry and a translation of the Bhagavad Gita. Her website has links to her publications.

The Madhurāṣtakam (eight-sweet-verses, sweetness in eight verses) is made of a string of two-word phrases in which the first word describes something that Krishna is or does, and the second word classifies it "sweet." As the hymn proceeds, the 'm' endings of the words in the original amplify the mood of tenderness. Even as one lingers on the vibrant "mmm.." sound, relishing the particular thought invoked by its pair-word, the hymn has gone on to find yet another characteristic of Krishna that is also "..mmm..".

The emotion, stunning in its honesty, is surely rooted in everyday experience—the emotion of total love towards a beloved child where every aspect of the child is found endearing. Does the poet also smile at himself, recognize the indiscriminating absoluteness of his adoration? Or/and am I, still in a world of distinctions, surprised by the ordinariness in the presentation of characteristics which transcend measures such as ethics (adorable stealing) and aesthetics (adorable vomiting)?

The composition is also grammatically interesting and often taught in beginner Sanskrit classes. Students identify when the word ending with 'm' is a nominative case neuter gender, and when it is an accusative case masculine gender, and learn how the adjectives and nouns agree in case endings.