I was once again with Radha. When all others have lost their relevance in my life, she continues to serve me like dutiful wife, opening new zones of vision each day. Who is Radha? Obviously, she cannot belong to this earthly plane. She represents my chamber of mind, which has been personified to provide it a bit of tangibility. And named Radha? To show its origin.
Night was towards its nadir. Only Radha and I were there in the dingy room, arguing over merits and demerits of certain aspect, staring into nothingness during moments of silence that too often interrupted our conversation. Of late, it has become extremely difficult for me to appease Radha. With her strange notions, she always manages to put me on the knife-edge. Later, she repents over her harshness but by then damage has become irreparable. As a damage-control measure, Radha, for few days, distances away from too much of twisting but as I am about to regain equanimity she is back to her usual business with a bang. These days intense debate is going on over the place of marriage in my life.
“So you have decided not to get married,”
“Will you please let the cat out of the bag?” she demanded with a stroke of sarcasm.
“I thought that by now you would have guessed about it. If you haven’t let me tell you that in absence of right partner, I have put this issue on the backburner”, I replied in a cool and calm way.
“What a pity! Yaar, can’t you be little pragmatic? Why are you always hell-bent on emulating a self-destructive logic? You are now well past marriage age. Think about your anxious parents…” she said before being interrupted.
“Well, lend me your ears,” I said, seeking her attention. After a moment of silence I said: ‘ Just like other obedient sons and daughters of present age! They pretend to be close to their parents but on their back care a damn about their reputation. They are always up to confrontation but for the world’s sake they project a sober picture of their maddening lives, keep marrying in the name of providing relief to the parents, but once this tamasha gets over, they immediately abandon their parents. And for rest of their life parents live a lonely life; neither the society not their faithful children show up their faces. Only the other day I read about a lady who died after fighting a long battle with a dreaded disease. Do you know what their sons were doing when her heart must be burning with a desire to see them? They were relaxing in their apartments in Canada, came back seven or eight months later after so many reminders?
“No, I did not mean that, what I am trying to convey is that your parents be greatly relieved once you get married. After all, haven’t they raised you up amid comforts? Aren’t you ashamed over your callousness which has burdened their hearts with additional pain besides those emanating from worldly concerns?”, asked Radha stubbornly.
“Do you understand, Radha, do you anticipate the real motives in the words flowing out unconsciously from the bosom. You are mistaken if you find this sort of thing fit for casual execution; it’s not as simple as it appears to be. Listen, children should never be made vehicle for carrying out ambitions of the parents. Since you have brought them up it becomes obligatory for them to serve your interests, such uttering sound blasphemous. When such intimate relations are build up to ignite selfish considerations, no matter how noble your intentions may be, what is the need to carve place for lofty ideals in our lives? To rope in your bogus expectations, all in the name of rituals would only make the values redundant, existing in our life like lightening in the clouds!
“I understand it all! You are trying to make suspect myself. But remember, you could no longer fool me by spooky versions, “said Radha caught in whirlpool of contradictory emotions. I was smiling being aware of the fact that she was on the brink of losing ground.
“Radha, at least you should not be mindless in criticizing my stand point. Parents, Chachas*, Mamas*, friends and other near and dear ones, have put to sleep their analytical faculty, drugged their discrimination, having given way to compromises. It doesn’t hurt me at all as I know well that such relations are guided by second-rate convictions, frequently changing color to remain in sync with the world. Don’t you think concerns like marriage, job and etc. must be perforce choice of an individual, more so if he or she has attained a level of maturity? The only factor that should be given utmost importance is that whether or not it leads to beneficial changers for people around. If it doesn’t violate the above-mentioned condition, I don’t feel anyone has the right to question about its worth.”
“Now look at the fate,” trembling with passion I said, “of married couples, those who in the eyes of world have been sincere in honoring the wishes of their parent. Be sure, I am not trying to pass a moral judgment on one of the most respectable institutions established by our forefathers with great care. But one cannot ignore the degeneration that has wiped away its finer aspects. They quarrel over trivial issues, hurl choicest abuses at each other, emotionally and intellectually so wide apart yet living together for fulfillment of physical desires, meaningless union but could not separate owing to societal compulsions and yet in the eyes of the world they belong to honorable class of people. Why? Just because they are the by-product of time-tested institution! In other cases husbands and wives are living shattered lives, thanks to the ups and downs of the realistic life, existing merely as instruments with no time to exchange compliments. In some exaggerated examples, both the partners are found trapped in immoral affairs. Reason-not satisfied with each other desperately and now need a change coupled with experimentation! I wonder in age of so many revolutionary isms, it would be highly unfair to treat immoral as immoral. Give it a respectable place, or, simply vanish.”
I said all this with a provocative smile. Not willing to give her room to cast stones at me, I went ahead with my views “What hurts me is elders stubborn refusal to learn lesson from their past mistakes. Having witnessed the consequence of pursuing faulty line of action, they come up with another set of perverse notions. The most shameful thing is that they don’t regret at all. I am horrified over the dullness of these ‘experienced’ brains, which are so cocksure about efficiency of their worn-out ways and means. It was indeed grave mistake that I came to assume repentance unleashed wisdom in their consciousness.”
For some reason, this greatly moved her. Refusing the emotion let loose on her head she said: “Forgive me, I wasn’t aware of the seriousness of the crises. Yes, you are right that one should not expect anything worthwhile from people with a very limited vision. But I am more concerned about you. In all this drama, it’s you who have suffered the most, being the victim of events, which were not entirely your own making. Let them resort to such desperate remedies, at this point of time, I would like to know about your steps to diffuse the crisis.”
“Radha, it’s never has been a well-guarded secret. In fact, the very clarity of my purpose has often allowed others to sabotage it. The likes of worldly experts have left little room for bringing in better choices, yet I have not lost hopes. One thing is crystal clear that it’s not going to fall in the same bracket of affairs like gambling. Instead of being dictated by hazy vision, personal complexes and inflated egos of aberrated minds, the decision should emanate from deeper realm of intellect, leaving no room for setbacks in the future.”
“But suppose such a holistic version refuses to materialize in your life?” she questioned thoughtfully. She was aware of the fact that rudeness of life does not provide humane approaches many chances to germinate.
“Radha, you are now loosing your sense of proportion. Is it sin to go beyond the dictates of people whose thinking abilities are covered in cobwebs? It is crime to provide life and vibrancy to your prized affairs? Perhaps it’s better to move alone than to be part of nightmarish experiences all your life, under the veneer of traditions and rigorous social customs.”
Radha half-whispered to herself and for a while allowed the silence to reign. She was unsuccessfully trying to conceal her tears, something that prevented her to go ahead with the conversation. Being absorbed in the same state of mind she exclaimed, “ I am afraid you would not be able to survive for too long in the world reserved solely for dogs! I know well that sensitive souls like you cannot survive without a companion. When that was the case, why didn’t you find one molded in your perception?”
“Well, a chance encounter had dragged me towards such a soul, but before it could blossom, it succumbed to the primitive-thoughtlessness of the pseudo-crusaders of the society. These perfect spoilsports who are mired in unspeakable affairs attain a sacrosanct position in these matters; on their verdicts innocent souls are mercilessly butchered without given a slight chance to communicate their intentions. As the days pass away, souls like us slowly get reduced to ashes amid gross activities of average everyday life.” “ I am eager to know her name, my dear fellow” Radha insisted.
“What is in the name? For me, she was simply your reflection! That’s all,” I suddenly said, looking straight at her face.
“Hm-that’s all right- but what about your friends? Why didn’t they conceive a strategy to pull you out of the mess?” she asked, blushing with gloomy eyes.
“It’s a sad reflection, but I could not resist myself from making a confession that they were enemies masquerading as friends. It seems strange but they left no opportunity, like bunch of cheap crooks, to create nuisance at defining moments. Worse, after causing the debacle, they were little ashamed in delivering absurd suggestions, to view the whole episode as hand-work of destiny! It was indeed misplaced trust on these determined liars, who with help of their half-truths, spelled doom for me. Though I wanted to retain the illusion of recognizing them as friends for a longer time, however, their sincerity towards shrewdness made it impossible.”
“So now you are all alone! Being burdened with awesome grief how are you going to remain on the right-track, one that makes the journey of life fruitful? You are in terrible state of loss!” burst out Radha with restless anxiety. Evidently, she was quite out of her wits, all the time eyes were glued on her feet, momentarily rising up to stare at my face with sad and severe look that left me horrified.
“Radha! I find myself trapped in the body. I don’t want to get identified with fifth of this sort, an identification that has now little meaning for me except initiating cycle of meaningless cause and effects. Give me blue, for survival” I said in a distinct tone.
“Blue? What does it stand for?” asked Radha in a trembling voice with a cold smile.
“Radha, you seem to have fallen in league of present day politicians, who so easily forget their promises! I am surprised to find you so forgettable a person. Just a little while ago, haven’t I attributed it to you as your intrinsic nature?” no sooner had I asked this I found her giving way to strange look.
Later, a smile dipped in divinity, flashed across her face. The night has changed her tempo, inviting the dawn to unfold its magic. Meanwhile, Radha has embraced my consciousness, placing me in her domain – unending stretch of blueness that came to annihilate our distinction, making us one forever.
Chacha: Brother Of Father
Mama: Brother Of Mother
(Today we are celebrating the birthday of Shri Radhaji. I am posting this article, an ode to female power, to mark the occasion. The article has been previously published in Northern India Patrika, 2001; Soham, bilingual International magazine, 2005; British edition of Indowaves)
Radha holds a special place in the hearts of Radha-Krishna devotees. Krishna without Radha can never be meditated upon, and that explains why Janmashtmi is incomplete without Radhashtmi’s celebrations in full fervour. On this day devotees plunge into a state of euphoria in Vraja where it is celebrated with grandeur. Radharani, daughter of Brishabhanu and Kalawati, was born in Barsaane fifteen days after Krishna’s birth in Mathura. Radha being ‘hladinishakti’ (the power of bliss) of Shri Krishna always remains in unison with him. Radhashtmi, her appearance day, is viewed by the devotees as a day that leads an aspirant on to the path of bhakti and bliss—a step closer towards absolute merging of the lover in the beloved. Radha’s grace alone provide as supreme Bhakti (devotion) and it is she who makes a seeker’s union with Krishna a reality.
According to Padma Purana, Gopis (cow-herd girls) were Rishis of Dandakarnya who had expressed their desire to be in intimate service of Lord Rama. Lord Rama had then told them to wait till his next incarnation as Krishna takes place in Dvapar age. Upanishads, too, appeared in the form of Gopis to participate in Leelas (divine gestures) of Krishna. Gopis who embraced the lotus feet of Lord Krishna have been classified into several categories due to difference in attitude and service. Some are sadhna –oriented i.e. they have attained Gopi bhava because of austerities performed in their earlier births whereas some are in service of Krishna from beginning (Nitya-priya). It is said that a jeeva( worldly soul) attains Gopi bhava through intense tapas. Radha, Chandraravali Visakha, Lalita, Shyama and Padma were prominent Gopis. Shri Radharani is of Mahabhava Swaroopa and, therefore, she stands apart from others as the Chief Gopika.
Raadhika possesses infinite qualities prominent among them being twenty five, which includes chief among Krishna-priyas, soft-spoken, clever, and adept in classical form of music, Rasaswaroopa kind-hearted, owner of pious smile and unusual depth within. Her actions are borne out of desire to serve and please Govinda.
Surdas gives a loving detail of the first meeting of Radha and Krishna. One day Shri Krishna while engaged in the Bal Leela (childhood gesture) happens to reach the bank of Yamuna. He is surprised, as well as delighted, to find there a new face which was glowing with supreme beauty. Krishna, left dumb struck by such a beauty could not resist himself from asking her name, “I have never seen you before in Brija.Who are you?” he asked. “Why should I come to ever come to Brija, I have too many friends to play with at my place. I have come to know that Nanda’s son is a big trouble-maker who excels in the art of stealing,” she shot back. Krishna, determined to get her company said, “What do you possess that I am going to steal from you and which you fear to lose? Come let’s play together. We would form an excellent pair.” Poor Radha she didn’t realize that what she was going to lose—heart the most valuable possession of any woman.
The conjugal relationship between Radha and Krishna is pinnacle of Madhurya Bhava (the bliss oriented state). At this point it is necessary to mention that Parmatma (Supreme Self) is one-without-a-second! Therefore no leela (divine act) is possible in this state. In the madhurya bhava, Nirguna Parabrahman is supposed to have a form with which a bhakta can establish a relationship. Gradually moving through five principle bhavas a stage comes when a bhakta cares little for worldly obligations and principles. This is the peak point popularly known as “Kanta Bhava’in Vaishnava literature. Something that separates Rasa leela from ordinary leelas is whereas the former takes place at yoga maya level, the latter is performed at Mahamaya level (highest plane of consciousness). Surdas considers total surrendering and forgetfulness of body consciousness essential for maturity of Madhurya Bhava. Bhagvan Ramakrishna said, “I have spent a few days in Radha Bhava. On those occasions I use to dress like woman. It is indeed impossible to sing the glory of Radha who is embodiment of refined virtue and supreme love.”
Gross mundane realities prevent us from having a glimpse of Rasa leela of Radha and Krishna but bhaktas like Surdas are always absorbed in their Madhurya. Explaining the reason of deep love between Radha and Krishna Surdas cites chidhod fancies. He feels a bond of friendship formed in the childhood contains in it the seeds of deep love, which under favourable circumstances get converted into life-long commitment. Gaudiya cult provides an absolutely a different explanation. Here love already exists in their hearts and its growth is not dependant on outside influences. Similarly Radha conceived by Chandidas is too sensitive whose heart aches on hearing the name of Madhava.
Perhaps differences in their outlook are the result of bhava that captivated their hearts, which is in each case unique. So Radha of Surdas has egocentric tendencies. She not only humiliates Krishna but even rebukes him on trivial issues. So what if in isolation she weeps for Krishna, her heart always aching for intimate moments. It is this duality in her behavior and paradoxical approach that keeps Krishna guessing whenever He meets her. On the other hand, Vidyapati’s Radha too has ego but it subsides when she faces Krishna. Radha perceived by Chandidas is completely devoid of ego. She neither reacts nor retaliates but remains absorbed in His thoughts.
Vaishnavaas have carved unique image of Radha, which has no parallel. It is so because Vaishnavas don’t consider Bhakti to be bhava, Bahakti is ‘Rasa’ to them. Though Radha does not figure in clearly in Bhagavat Purana, she is the prime character of Brahma Vaivarta and Padma Purana. Jaideva’s appearance on the scene in 12th century makes Radharani comes into limelight. It is believed that these two Puranas and Geeta Govinda of Jayadeva established her as paragon of love and virtue. But it was Nimbakacharya who first revealed philosophical aspects of Shri Radha’s various dimensions. Lord has two powers namely Kriyashakti (power to perform) and Gyanaskati (power to seek knowledge). Satyabhama (Bhudevi) represents the former while the Rukamani(Sridevi) stands for the latter. In Radha, these two powers get unified and she thus becomes Parashakti (supreme power) of the Lod. In this form these two powers attain a non –dual relationship with the Lord but in their individual state retain their particular relationship. Thus, exists a distinction when one fails to identify with Sri Radha. Sri Nimabakacharya provides a much elevated status to Radha. She becomes Bhakti or Brahman Vidya (Knowledge of self) which liberates jeeva from bondage of Maya. In other words, she becomes a Supreme Master.
Shri Krishna, who always remains one with her, is called “Atma Rama”. Krishna states in Padma Purana: ‘Know Radhika to be best of teachers of the Highest Knowledge—Knowledge of Brahman.’ Let us pray that she appears on the earth again and again. If Radha arrives how can Krishna remain far behind? May we get devotion for her so that our hearts get purified to receive her grace. And, thus, we become one of the participants of ever happening grand ‘Rasa leela of Radha and Krishna ’.
Some Popular Bhajans Associated With Her: