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Childhood Nostalgia

How the Heart Pines for Vrij!


Our childhood days slowly fade away from us forever. But they leave a permanent impression in our souls. The memories of those golden days fill our heart up with unexplainable joy and how we long to revisit those moments!

When Krishna became the king and resided in the palace of gold along with his queens, they noticed their husband move away to a lonely corner and shed quiet tears. Seeing Krishna so miserable one day, Rukmini asked him for the reason behind his sorrow. She was determined to work towards finding out a way to pull him out of such a pitiable state. On hearing her words, Krishna’s emotions came flooding out. Crying like a child, he replied, “No one can cure my pain. Who can cure me of my memories? They come gushing in, snatching away my peace. How wonderful were those days! There were no wants, no worries. I was drenched in love from every quarter. Early in the morning, I used to take my cattle out to graze in the fields. The cows adored me. I used to call them by their names. Hearing my call, they used to come running to me, raising their tails up in the air. My mother would bring freshly churned butter, put me in her lap and feed me so tenderly with her own hands. I used to gulp it down so happily. The hundreds of royal dishes that are cooked and served in this palace stand nowhere in comparison to that divine food. I adorned the hearts of the simple, common girls of Vrij and how they forgot themselves when they poured out their love on me. Wearing their tattered clothes, they used to come running to listen to my flute and hold me in their tight embrace. I don’t feel the same joy wearing perfumed, rich, regal garments as I did adorning the jewellery made with seeds, flowers and leaves. How I used to indulge in those never-ending conversations with my friends! We used to feed each other. I miss their touch. The cowherd boys, my companions, used to take so good care of me too. It’s impossible to find such sincere, steadfast devotion now a days. Those memories torment me day and night. I cry as I miss them so deeply. If I go to Vrij today, I don’t think anyone would be able to recognise me. I have lost the treasure of my childhood days. Those moments have gone so far far away from me.”

Rukmini and the other queens listened to him without uttering a single word. Where would they search to bring back those wonderful days that Krishna spent in Vrij? It was impossible to recreate the situations, the surrounding and get back the innocence of his boyhood days.

The childhood days of Krishna were vivid and colourful. When the young, playful Krishna roamed around in the forests of Vrindavan, he made every place a stage to enact his leela. He took his cows out to graze in the banks of the river Yamuna, gliding with its crystal blue water, in the highlands of Giriraj Govardhan.

His enchanting beauty when dressed up as a cowherd boy attracted every being to him. The garland of forest flowers that he put around his neck would swing and invite everyone to come near him. Being in love was his inherent nature. He hankered for love and had a close bonding with all the love birds. Wherever he went, the bees would swarm around him. As the bees collected nectar from the flowers and forgot to look back, Krishna forged his bonds with all the beings, and when they poured their hearts out. As the bees buzz around humming their tunes around flowers, Krishna also played his divine flute and made everyone motionless, creating in them a desire to unite with him. Krishna, like the bees, was mad in love with whoever surrenders to him. But after coming to Dwaraka, he never even bothered to go back and ask about their wellbeing!

Whenever Krishna breezed around the lakes and rivers, he would imitate the gait of the white, royal swans and make sounds like them. He himself laughed and made his friends roll on the floor laughing. When his cowherd friends moved a little further from him he would call them in his sonorous voice that rolled like roaring clouds, “Hey Sridam! Hey Subala! Come here.” Hearing his deep voice, the peacocks were confused. They took it to be the drumming of the clouds and answer back with their high pitched shrill. They raise their tails to form a fan, which opens into a bright blue, turquoise half-moon expanse. They shake it continuously as they dance to the drum rolls making it seem like ripples of water flowing in Yamuna. Krishna used to join this irresistible dance of the peacocks, swaying his yellow garment, sometimes imitating them and sometimes leading the dance. The cowherd boys used to stand around, watching his graceful moves in awe.

Sometimes Krishna used to make sounds like the chirping of birds and sometimes imitate the roar of lion, making his friends run in fear of life. It was a new game every day. Sometimes he used to lay his head on the lap of one of his friends and rest. His friend would feel so blessed as they slowly stroked Krishna’s hair making him forget everything and helping him take a nap. Whenever Balaram used to fall asleep on the shoulder of a friend, Krishna would quietly place Balaram’s fair body on his own lap. Then he slowly would massage Balaram’s legs and rub his feet.

Krishna loved wrestling. In every forest of Vrindavan, he had made a platform where they could wrangle. When two of them wrestled, the boys would stand around clapping and encouraging. Sometimes after wrestling when Krishna would be lying down, resting under a tree, his friends would take this opportunity to serve him. Some of them picked up the leaves from the mango and banyan trees to make a bed for him, while some would fan him with the lotus leaves. At times Krishna would fill the heart of a friend with joy by requesting to sing a song for him. Other boys would sing enchanting songs appropriate to the occasion, and their hearts would melt out of love for the Lord.

एवं निगूढात्मगति: स्वमायया गोपात्मजत्वं चरितैर्विडम्बयन् । रेमे रमालालितपादपल्लवो ग्राम्यै: समं ग्राम्यवदीशचेष्टित: ॥

- Srimad Bhagavatam 10.15.19

evaṁ nigūḍhātma-gatiḥ sva-māyayā gopātmajatvaṁ caritair viḍambayan reme ramā-lālita-pāda-pallavo grāmyaiḥ samaṁ grāmya-vad īśa-ceṣṭitaḥ

(In this way the Krishna, whose soft lotus feet are massaged by Goddess Lakshmi, hid his transcendental opulence skilfully and acted like the son of a cowherd. Yet even while enjoying like a village boy in the company of other village residents, he often exhibited feats that only the absolute, most powerful one could perform.)

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