The Fate of the Flute
A man of great character stays happy, contended, and is respected by all. One who is proud of his wealth, lineage, fame, intellect, power, position, beauty, talent, achievements, or any other quality that he thinks makes him superior to others, only eulogises the material possessions but can never experience love. Love is always devoid of ego. So, only a person who is humble without pride is capable of loving. Love is the only reason for being in love. If love is meant to achieve something, then it is selfish and ceases to be called love. In a love that is simple and strong, there is no rule, no etiquette to be followed and no room for civility. In a bonding between friends, no one looks at wealth or class. The moment one takes these into account, love disappears. These gradations and disunity are not noticed when children get together and play. This is fed into their minds by elders.
When Krishna moved to Vrindavan from Nandagaon, his heart was filled with delight. His countenance became even sweeter. Watching the older gopal boys taking the cattle out to the forest, he asked, “O Mother! Where do they all go with the cows and calves?”
When Mother Yashoda replied that they take the cows out to graze, Krishna also wished to join them.
Mother Yashoda chuckled as she replied, “You are so small Kanha, how will you tend to the cows? The cows are very naughty. They will run away wherever they wish. Some will even leave the herd and enter someone’s farm and some others will keep jumping. You will not be able to control them”.
But Krishna was not going to listen to all those excuses and became even more determined than ever before to take the cows out to graze.
When Nanda Maharaj heard this, he took Yashoda aside and said, “We should not break his heart. If he is so obstinate then let him take the calves around here. Calves do not have horns so nothing to worry. The calves will graze, and the boys will also play with them.
When Krishna came to know that permission had been granted, he kept pulling his mother to make him ready for forest, “O Mother! Please stick that peacock feather and tie my hair. Both the calves, Dhavali and Shyamali are waiting outside for me. Look there! My friends Subala and Sridama are also calling my name. It is getting late. I will go with brother Balaram to graze the cows.”
Mother Yashoda took Krishna in her lap. She tied his hair neatly and made him wear a yellow garment. She chose another blue dress for Balaram. She picked the most beautiful jewellery for both the brothers and decorated their forehead with tilak. She looked on as both the brothers left their home to graze cows along with their gopal friends.
Krishna saw some older gopal boys playing their flutes leaving the cows to have their fill. Krishna was attracted to the notes of the flute and sat down beside them, immersed in the melody. When they opened their eyes, Krishna pleaded, “Please make a flute for me. In return I will give you all a feast.”
All the friends present there danced with joy. They all got themselves initiated into the job of searching a flute for Krishna. One of them remarked, “Our Krishna sways to a side when he walks and stands in tribhangi. Let us get him a flute that is crooked like him too.”
When the family members start searching for bride for their son, they look for the most beautiful girl. Little do they know that the girl has already been chosen by destiny and they would come together when the time is right. Krishna would not just play any flute. All that belong to him are transcendental. After praying and meditating for eons, someone gets to be his anklet, some become his yellow garment, some adorn his neck while some other are fortunate to become his crown. The fate of the flute is just as such. To be held by Krishna, kissed by his lips, and be the instrument of his mystic notes drenched with nectar is simply divine.
Krishna’s friends started searching for the right bamboo that could be made into his flute. They examined so many bamboo plants. They kept discarding bamboo that was too thick, too thin, too rough, too smooth, or too knotty. As they kept looking for the perfect piece, Krishna suddenly pointed at a shinning shaft. The boys ran to the place and they all gasped in delight. It was neither too long nor too short, of perfect diameter and appeared just like a flute. The boys were in awe as they looked up at the piece of bamboo. It needed no further work and was just meant to be held by Krishna. Krishna climbed on the shoulder of one of his friends as soon as he raised his hand to reach out to that bamboo, the stick fell onto his lap. When his friends removed the dried leaves from that piece, it started playing the seven musical notes. The boys were amazed and cried out in unison, “O Kanha, you are so lucky! The flute is so beautiful as if it was carved only for you. It will shine even more if we apply a little butter on it. We should ask Mother Yashoda to attach some bells and tie a golden string on one side. Why don’t you play it O Kanha! Let us see how it sounds?”
Krishna took the piece of bamboo and holding it near his lips, stood with his weight on one foot and gently crossed the other foot in front, resting on its toes in his typical tribhangi posture. As he started blowing into the bamboo, the whole universe was stunned. His friends stood there, stupefied like sculptures. The divine melody filled up every space of the forest. The plants and trees of Vrindavan were astounded. Everyone was mesmerised and forgot their own existence. Krishna protruded both his lips like the beaks of a bird and placed it on the flute. His cheeks were sucked in when he was blowing air into it, his head tilted to a side and his gaze shifted faraway before he closed his eyes and got immersed in playing his flute. A little while later he stopped and looked at his friends, “What do you think? Will I be able to play the flute someday like you?”
Hearing his voice, the cowherd boys came back to their senses as if waking up from a deep slumber. They asked, “O Kanha! Did you learn everything in your mother’s womb? We have been playing flute for so long, why can’t we play like this? Your flute made us forget ourselves.”
Hearing their response, Krishna was pleased, and a smile flashed across his lips. He said, “You all are so kind to me. Today we will have a feast. Mother will arrange food for all of us. Let’s get back home.”
When Mother Yashoda heard about Krishna’s flute, she said, “O Kanha! Please play your flute for me while I cook for you. The gopis would also like to hear your flute.”
Krishna obeyed his mother and standing in tribhangi, started playing his newly acquired flute. The melody created a whirlpool of love in the core of the bystanders. Waves of emotions crashed on the shores of their hearts. They were transfixed, listening to the bewitching notes. Tears ran down without any barriers. Their consciousness burst with ecstatic emotions of divine love.
- Sri Krishna Karnamrita
- The eternally lovely flute is resplendent in Krishna’s beautiful hands. Ah! Just listen to the rasa which is lilting forth from this flute made of bamboo joints. It seems as if some charming cloud of nectar is raining. No sakhi! It is not merely a musical instrument or a melodious sound, it is indeed the breath of love. What great fortune this flute has! Firstly, it dallies in Krishna’s lotus hands and secondly, it relishes the nectar of Krishna who has red berry like lips. Filling itself with the ambrosia, this flute held in Krishna’s hands warbles merrily.
Inspired by Sri Prabhudatta Brahmachari’s Bhagavat Katha.