He is One, He is All.
Vrindaban is celebrating the advent of spring. The flowers have blossomed and their fragrance has attracted the bees who are buzzing around them. The trees, wrapped with veils of flowers have bowed down. The earth has become fluorescent green augmenting the colour of the new carpet of grass. The chirping of the birds and the buzzing of the bees announce that the time has come for the union with the most loved one. The charming beauty of Shyam Sundar with the melodious flute in his hand is reflected in the deep blue transparent water of Yamuna. The cuckoo sings in tune with the heart pining flute of the all attractive Lord, the supreme enjoyer. The bowers are laden with ketaki flower. Soft, warm beds of champak flowers are beautifully laid on the ground. The fragrance of mogra, jasmine and bakul fill up the vines and forests with a sweet aroma. Every heart reverberates with effervescence of the Lord. The heartwarming call of Sri Krishna Chandra has filled the rivers, pastures and forests, making them eager to unite with the Lord. The damsels of Braj are excited to be together with their Lord. They have made garlands choosing the most fragrant flowers and arranged them neatly. These maidens will light the lamp of their souls suffering from the grief of separation with affection and worship their Lord. They will offer their love and devotion and please the lord of their hearts. His happiness is what they long for. Their hearts will be filled looking at the ‘Yugal murti’ of Radha and Krishna. Their lovelorn eyes will be gratified. The damsels of Braj have become restless listening to the ethereal melody of the flute. The lotus feet decked with anklets crossed in the three bend ‘tribhangi’ posture, the alluring sight of his hands holding the flute, the long garland of the flowers picked from the forest adorning his body, the peacock feather crown on his head, the all attractive form of Krishna flashes across their minds over and over again.
However, Radharani is distressed, suffering from the pangs of separation. Her heart is longing for union with her love. Will she be deprived of meeting her lord? She has become a captive under the watchful gaze of her elders. Her in-laws scrutinize every step she takes. The news that Radha is unchaste has spread to every nook and corner. But that stigma is Radha’s treasure, her fortune. Radha has left behind her lineage, pride, reticence and fear in her undiluted love for Krishna. A miserable Radha is lost in her thoughts of Krishna. Her hair has not been braided and her eyes are wet with tears. As she waits for that precious moment, Devi Paurnamasi arrives at her place, uninvited. Her heart sinks looking at the desolate form of Radha. She has to find out a way to unite Radha with Krishna.
Devi Paurnamasi advises Jatila, Radha’s mother-in-law, to make preparations for a Surya Puja, to worship the Sun god. She must send her daughter-in-law to the Surya Mandap to worship the Sun god if she wishes for a peaceful, stress free household. Furthermore, Radha’s husband, Abhimanyu’s wish to own a hundred million cows will also be fulfilled by this veneration. Jatila agrees at once. Radha, the daughter of Vrishabhanu, carries all the objects needed for the puja and starts walking towards the Surya Mandap in the company of her close friends. But her face has lost the glow. Her eyes are downcast because of the separation, her heart longing to unite with Krishna. The charming form of Krishna sparkles in her heart. Her devastated soul cries since there is no hope of meeting her love.
Radha’s anxious eyes become still on a form and her restless feet slow down to a halt. Who is this young brahmin in the guise of a priest? The luster of his dark hued body would put the god of love to shame. Just a glance at him sends a shiver through Radha’s body. Her eyes start welling up, her body starts sweating profusely, she starts trembling and feeling goosebumps running through her body in ecstasy. Will she ever be able to get past that beguiling look and that bewitching smile on his lips?
Oh, this Krishna can be so deceitful! A mischievous smile flashes across Paurnamasi’s lips. All this was preconceived. Her friends are always anxious to find out a way to materialize the union of Radha and Krishna. The trembling body of Radha rests in the arms of her friends. A sweet tremor runs down her body, singing the melodious tune of her union with the lord. The ethereal notes of the flute fill her up with an indescribable feeling. Her yearning eyes are relishing the nectar emanating from the enchanting form of her love. But the Surya Mandap is not the appropriate place for the union. So, Radha, encircled by her friends, starts walking towards the grove. The mystical bowers of ‘Nidhivan’ are ready to welcome the lovelorn pair.
The Gopis of Braj start decorating Krishna, the moon of Vrindavan, the vanquisher of the love god. They tie the yellow scarf around his waist, a garland of kadamba flower around his neck, put bejeweled anklets on his feet, anoint his body with sandalwood and deer musk paste and are mesmerized by his beauty. They dress up Radha with a blue saree, a waistband studded with gems around her and a necklace of precious stones. They adorn her with brilliant ear rings and put a stud on her nose. Her lips are of a deep red hue, her eyes resembling blue lotuses lined with dark kohl and the red vermillion shining on her forehead. Her long serpentine braids are wrapped with strings of ketaki flowers. Radharani, embellished with the sixteen varieties of shringar, is the epitome of beauty and elegance, thrilled to meet Shyam Sundar. She has forgotten her household, her husband and the ridicule of her in-laws.
Jatila, the mother-in-law of Radha and Kutila, her sister-in-law wait for Radha’s return. They cannot tolerate this delay. Kutila decides to advance towards the Surya Mandap to look for her. Not a single soul is in sight! Where has Radha gone? Where have her friends vanished? Searching for them, she arrives at the bowers of Nidhivan. Hiding herself in the bushes, she watches Radharani in the arms of Krishna. Her friends, including Lalita and Visakha, are busy serving them while the bower is reverberating with their melodious songs. The forest is echoing with their laughter and romantic exchanges.
Kutila rushes back home and narrates everything that she had just seen in front of her mother. Jatila listened to the description. This story did not escape Abhimanyus’s ears. Abhimanyu is an ardent devotee of Maa Kali. His wife is romantically involved with another man. This insult is more painful than death. For quite a long time, he had been hearing rumours that Radha had forsaken her household and was deeply involved with Krishna. On this day, he decides to finally see it for himself and put an end to all his doubts. He would find out the truth and punish the guilty severely.
But nothing remains unknown to the all perceivable, lord of the whole universe, Krishna Chandra. He has to uphold the dignity of his beloved. The gopis have given up their happiness, vanity, lineage and surrendered at his feet. He is forever bonded with them. The Lord becomes restless when anyone commits a slight offence against his devotees. He takes in all the pain to relieve his loved ones of the troubles. And what to speak of Radha! Radha holds Krishna in her heart. She is devoted and has completely surrendered herself. Even Lakshmi, the queen of Vaikuntha, is eager to trade her place with her. How can the avenger of all sufferings make her suffer?!
As Abhimanyu almost reaches the bower with Jatila and Kutila, Krishna lets go of his ever charming form and changes himself into the form of Maa Kali, the destroyer of all evil. The kadamba flowers in the garland turn into human skulls. He throws away his flute and holds up a crescent shaped sword instead. With a severed head in one hand, a bowl of skull cup in another, with her long tongue thrust out, hair flailing wildly at the back like black serpents, a big red sandalwood paste dot on her forehead and her feet anointed with red dye, Krishna appears as the benevolent, terrifying and divine Kali. Spellbound, Abhimanyu is not able to take his eyes off of this most attractive form of Maa Kali. Jatila and Kutila remain transfixed. The entire atmosphere starts to resound with the “Maa, Maa!” calls of Abhimanyu, Jatila and Kutila. All their penance has borne fruit! Their lives are fulfilled! He ties the peacock feather on his head and flings open His hair,
He plays the flute in Braj and carries high the sword in air.
The enjoyer of all bliss, with His love, floods the hearts of Gokul,
And as the destroyer of all evil appears with severed heads and a skull cup bowl.
Wipes out the demons in Satya Yug and becomes the virtuous Ram in Tretaya,
With Radha as his beloved in Dwapara, He enchants the world with his ‘maya’.
He his Krishna, He is Kali, surrender onto Him as you might,
He manifests in the form you visualize, blessing His devotees day and night.
Image Credit: Eila Sahu