Wednesday, December 12, 2012

52 Bhagavatha - Raasa Leela.

(Commentators on the Bhagavatha have called the Goverdhana episode as the heart of the Bhagavatha;  And the five chapters, from 29-33 in the 10th book of the Bhagavatha, called the Raas Panchaadyayi as its very soul. It contains the description where the Lord sports with the embodied souls. Only after one conquers the sensory impulses, described earlier when Krishna steals the gopis' clothes, does one qualify to enter the Raas. Not every soul can hear the flute of Krishna -- it is a fruit of the soul's sincere quest and an intense yearning for union with the Supreme, and as such is more in the mind than the physical body.)

1. On the full-moon night of Sharad Poornima, which marks the end of the monsoon, Krishna strikes a melodious note on his flute. Enraptured by the notes of the flute, the gopis who were already captivated by Krishna, sallied forth and darted off, leaving all the work they were presently doing. Some who could not leave, just closed their eyes and fixed their minds on Krishna, unable to endure the pangs of separation from their Lord. Krishna speaks to them, charming them with his elegant expressions: "Your presence is welcome, O blessed ones! What may I know is the motive of your visit? You should all return to Vraja where your loved ones will be looking for you. Leaving your homes at this time of the night is not proper for you all. Love for me is fostered not so much by physical proximity as by meditating or singing my glory. Therefore, return home." The gopis feel despondent and stood silent with grief, hearing the words of Krishna. Then they spoke to their beloved, with a voice choked with mild anger. "Do not be so cruel to us, O Lord. We have sought your feet, renouncing all other objects. Be gracious to us and don't frustrate our hopes and grant us the privilege of serving you." They praise him with songs. Krishna laughed. He also sang and sauntered around the forest followed by the gopis. He wore a wreath of different forest flowers called the Vyjayantimala. His attractive gait and bewitching presence delighted the gopis. He reaches out to those gopis with his long arms and sportful glances. Having received Krishna's loving attention, the gopis grew proud and thought themselves superior to all the women on earth. Perceiving their vanity born of an abundance of his grace shown to them, Krishna disappears on that very spot.

2. The women of Vraja felt agonised when Krishna disappears all of a sudden. Not knowing what to do, and still fresh with the intimate memories of Krishna, they impersonate themselves--as Putana, as Krishna, as Trnavarta, as Balarama, as the cow etc., One gopi treads on another's head, enacting the Kaliya episode and another pretends to be a mortar to which another gopi ties herself. They perform Krishna's various exploits and recount and relive his glorious life in Vraja. They sing his glories and roam about madly in the forest. They perceive him everywhere, in all creatures, inside and outside. They ask the various trees of the forest the whereabouts of Krishna. "O holy fig tree, have you seen my Krishna? O holy basil, have you seen my beloved, who bears you on his bosom?" Lamenting thus, they come back to the sandy banks of Yamuna and sing together, the song which describes the pain of separation from their Lord.

3. "O Lord, please reveal yourself to your sweethearts. Surely you are not just the son of Yashodha, but the witness of the minds of all embodied souls. You have appeared in the Yadu race for the protection of the entire world. Your manifestation, O dear one, has put an end to the sorrow of the inhabitants of Vraja. Your loving glances and charming voice agitates our mind. Please reveal yourself and soothe the pangs of our pent up love in our heart. Grant our desires by placing your lotus-like palm on our head, and protect us from the fear of transmigration. Enchanted by the melody of your flute, we have sought your presence. Pray, let us be in your blissful company, which will relieve us from the pain of separation -- where every moment becomes an eon to us."

4. Hearing the wailing of the gopis, Krishna appears in their midst dazzling with his charming countenance. Beholding Krishna, the gopis spring to their feet, as though the life-breath enters the limbs of a body. Surrounded by those cowherd women, Krishna shone brightly, dispelling the agony of their separation. They relish his company and extend to him the utmost hospitality, praising him, placing his feet on their lap, kneading his legs. They raise a doubt and seek Krishna's explanation on the various kinds of love expressed by people. Krishna replies: "Those who love one another for mutual benefit is out of self-interest. Those who love those, that do not love them in return are compassionate (like one's parents). Some indeed do not love even those that love them -- they are either sages who revel in their own self, or dullards or ungrateful people. I, for my part, do not reciprocate the love of individuals who love me, in order that they think of me at all times. I remained out of sight from you for a short time, only to ensure your constant devotion to me --  though loving you invisibly, listening to your professions of love with great delight. How can i forsake you, dear ones! You have renounced everything for me, and as a matter of fact,  I cannot repay the obligation I owe to you, even throughout my entire life.  Your relationship with me is without blemish, as you have cut all fetters, which is not easy, and fixed your mind on me. Therefore let your services to me be repaid with your own goodness."

5. Accompanied by those jewels among women who stood in a circle with their arms interlocked, Krishna celebrates and dances with the gopis, called the Raasa Kreeda. The Lord assumes as many forms as the gopis and stood in between each gopi. Then with the rhythm produced by the jingling of bangles, anklets and tiny bells attached to the girdles of the gopis, the Lord danced with them. In the company of those cowherd girls, Krishna shone like an exceedingly bright emerald strung in the midst of every two gold beads. They sang in a high pitch and danced, the delightful experience of which seemed like an eternity. They appreciated one another like musicians in a concert. Having thus secured Krishna, the only beloved of Lakshmi, and celebrating him in song, the gopis sported with him, their necks encircled by his arms. When the early hours of the morning approached, the gopis returned home with Krishna's approval. The men of Vraja never doubted or envied Krishna, as their womanfolk were present by their side throughout the night.

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Srimad Bhagavatham