Krishna expands to create Raas Raaseshwari Sri Radhey

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Krishna’s  Janmashtami keeps devotees awake at night but Radhashtami passes away quietly. It is in Barsana,  Radha’s village between  Goverdhan and Nandgaon  that one realizes Her energy. Shriji Temple at Barsana, also known as Laadli  Sarkar Mahal or Radha Rani Mandir is magnificently decked on Radhashtami and there is not an inch where one can squeeze in. The occasion  surpasses Janmashtami of Vrindavan.  Walls  and ceiling of Shriji  mandir are freshly painted with pictures of Radha and Her eight friends  (ashta  sakhis- Lalita,  Vishakha, Champaklata, Chitra, Tungavidya, Indulekha, Rangadevi and  Sudevi). Swelling crowds may not permit everyone to be there so the  next best is to recreate the same high spirits of Shriji temple  elsewhere.

In  a temple in Delhi every year around 50 gosains from Barsana arrive to recreate the scene of Barsana. At 5.00 am  Radha’s image is brought  out lovingly. Two gosains who get into roles of Vrishabhanu (Radha’s father) and Nanda baba  (Krishna’s father) pour milk, ghee, honey and curd on baby Radha  amidst conch  shells and sounds  of ‘Jai Jai Sri Radhey’. A  lady dressed as Radha’s mother (Kirati) holds Radha gently while  another woman dressed up as Yashoda(Krishna’s mother) rubs herbal  paste mixed with essences of fragrant flowers, aromatic turmeric  paste, kumkum color till Radha emerges sparklingly fair. Care is  taken that during bathing ceremony Radha is wearing a soft muslin  cloth. This cloth is later cut in pieces and distributed as prasada  to be tied in neck or wrist.  Yashoda and Kirati Ma acrry Radha  behind curtains amid melodious singing of ‘Mangala-geet,  Sri Radha Kripa Kataksha, Sri Nanda-nandanashtakam’ and dress  her in a sparkling colorful silk sari, decorate her with various  pearls, ornaments, flowers, braid her long curly locks,   decorate  her lotus like eyes, and spray the best of ittar and perfumes on her.

Devotes  gather again around ten a.m. and it is now the turn of a gosains  dressed up as Radha’s father Vrishabhanu to announce in typical  Braj dialect how he discovered a shining golden  lotus flower in Yamuna river on which a baby girl was floating whose  beauty humiliated a million moons.  Vrishabhanu tells the audience that as he stood wondering what to do  next, Lord  Brahma and his son Narada appeared to say that this was Divine girl  who was a fruit of their tapasya of previous lives and explained  Her Divinity. Other Gosains marvel at his fortune and discuss that  their village has been chosen for a Divine Plan, exchange greetings  and shower viewers with a feast of sweets and fruits.

Next  scene is a hilarious one in which all gosains sit in two sections  representing gosains of Barsana and Gokul.  Barsana Gosains complain  they are exhausted with Krishna as the lad is a vagabond, creates  nuisance by posing as bangle  seller or as vaidya /physician  so that He can hold Radha’s  delicate pink hands. Recounting  Krishna’s innumerable wrongs, the gosains ponder over how  He is  beyond redemption, is always chasing golden  colored Radha,  breaking  pots, spilling milk and butter, creating trouble with cowherds and  monkeys, chasing married and unmarried girls, and always lying. Gokul  Gosains immediately get up to defend their Krishna and shout in pure  Brij dialect that there  is no dearth of girls for Krishna so why would he run after an elder  girl. Some say she is eleven days older, some say she is a month  older and they do not want an elder girl for their lad. Gosains of  Barsana shout agitatedly that the dark complexioned lad has a bad  reputation, is illiterate, the biggest thief, deceiver, woman chaser  and so he would always remain single. Listening to all this, Yashoda  cries for her son’s future, while Kirati asks them to stop being so  negative. She consoles Yashoda that she would gladly give her  beautiful daughter Radha to Krishna. Yashoda promises she would teach  her boy to be sober and quiet and is relieved that after all, her boy  will bring a daughter- in- law for her.

A  village elder gets up to advice Kirati that it would be a mismatch as  Radha is soft at heart while Krishna is merciless. Their daughter  would never be happy in Krishna’s house. He mentions that when  someone asks for a triviality like mukti/liberation,  merciless  Krishna asks them their qualifications knowing fully well that no  ordinary human being can have qualifications to get liberation. It is  the merciful Radha who beckons tearful devotees, accompanies them to  Krishna, flutters her eye lids at Him, throws a smile and the good  for nothing lad bows down at her feet agreeing to grant liberation to  those whom she comes with.  It is because of Radha’s shower (Barsa)  of mercy and love that they have changed the name of their village  from Brahmasaran to Barsana. Villagers grumble that the notorious  thief of Gokul steals their attachments and seeing their vacant  hearts, steals the hearts too but spirited Radha knows how to  outsmart this thief and steal His heart. That makes him ‘Hari’-  one who steals and She ‘Hare’ –one who steals the heart of  Hari.

This  mock quarrel leaves participants and viewers double with laughter.  Even after repeated viewings, this Radha-Krishna leela gives  enjoyment to all. Radhashtami is a day when Divine Love is in air,  Pleasure Potency (hladini-shakti) is in air, High Power Energy (antaranga-shakti)  is in  air. Radha gives pleasure and energy to Krishna.

All  living beings have inherited the pleasure seeking habit from their  Source, the Divine Couple. But while Radha Krishna enjoy spiritual  energy, others search for pleasure in worldly matter. Krishna wants  devotees to possess selfless prema not indulge in rituals steeped with self interest. Ironically,  ritualistic worship (vidhi  bhakti), when  done selflessly leads to a higher stage of ‘worship with love’  (prema  bhakti). But this transformation may take several births as this is the  highest phase. This is the progress which even God waits for. On  seeing unconditional prema,

Krishna  pursues it just as he chased gopas and gopis breaking their pots.

Just  as a solo man plays the part of opponent in chess and enjoys it  similarly Krishna expands into many cows and gopas when Brahma  kidnaps them, He expands when gopis want to do ras lila, He expands  when Narada comes to see how He manages 16,108 wives. He expands as  Radha, the love energy to get a taste of unlimited bliss. She alone  can control Him; she alone can love Him,Oh You who  continuously subdues the Son of Nanda into complete  surrender unto Yourself by piercing Him with the arrows of loving  glances shot from the very corners of Your eyes. When oh when  will You make me the object of Your side-long glance of  causeless mercy?’ (Sri Radha kripakataksha stotram).

Rupa  Goswami and Jiva Goswami entered Radha-Krishna madhurya  bhava in meditation.  They explained that Radha-Krishna, the Purusha-Prakriti can  never be separated as Purusha expands Himself to create pleasure (Radha) for Himself. ‘Radha  Rani Ganga tau dhaar hai bihari, Radha Rani mishri tau swaad hain  Bihari, Radhey Radhey japo chale aayenge Bihari’ - Radha  is Ganges, waves are Krishna, Radha is sweet, Krishna is its  sweetness, Call Radhey and Krishna will follow.

The  author is a regular contribution to Speaking Tree

Also  read
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2. Pics of Vridanvan on Janmasthami Day
3. Pics of Govardhan Parikrama
4. Pictures of Rukmani Temple Gujarat