God - When Krishna Calls
An apocryphal story goes, that one day, Krishna stood under a tree, the flute held lovingly against his lips. Lured by his presence, Radha walked towards him. “You pay no attention to me”, she complained. Krishna remained immersed in his music. Radha grew petulant. “All you care about is that flute. Is there something the flute has that I haven’t?” Krishna showed her the object of his love. “Look,” he said seriously, “can’t you see?” “What?” asked Radha, completely confused. Krishna explained, “The flute is hollow. And yet, when I hold it to my lips, ah! What music pours forth!” Then, wistfully looking at her, he continued, “If you could only hollow yourself out like that... what music we could make together….”
That story held cocooned within it a truth. Somewhere, deep within my very materialistic soul, a spark was ignited...But my life was full – of people, of projects, of plans – how could I, even if I had wanted to, empty myself of them? Especially when the magazine of which I was editor was at last taking wings, the workshops I conducted were receiving recognition, and I was finally breaking into the corporate world, as an educator and author?
And then, I read of Surdas, the blind singer. It is said, that whenever he sang of Krishna’s pastimes, Balgopal himself sat down to listen. Once, so moved was little Gopal by Surdas’ description, that he touched Sur’s eyes with his little fingers, saying, “Sur, for the gift of your songs, I give you sight.” Surdas opened his eyes to see the world for the first time. That evening, Gopal asked Surdas, “So, Sur, aren’t you going to thank me? Wasn’t my world amazing?” But Sur only raised tear-filled eyes to him. “Gopal, when I was blind, I saw you everywhere, and I saw nothing else. Today, I have seen all things, but nowhere did I see you.” And then, he beseeched, “Please, Gopal, make me blind, so I can see you again…”
Surdas seemed to speak to me. Slowly, subtly, Krishna was creeping out of the pages of books I had read about him, wafting from the music I listened to, issuing forth from the prayers I chanted. He was taking shape, becoming real...And almost simultaneously, the world was becoming unreal. I seemed to look with the same eyes, yet I had acquired a different sight. My next contract would not make or break me. It was all right not to zip up the ladder of success; it was fine not living up to unrealistic expectations. It was OK to step out of the rat race, to stop being a rat. For a while, if only for a brief while, I gained perspective…
I remembered a story I’d heard as a child. Little Krishna stood near the lake where the gopis had gone for their bath. Their clothes lay carelessly strewn on the banks. Krishna quickly gathered their belongings, shinnied up the tree, and once on the higher branches, dangled the garments tantalizingly downward. A while later, the milkmaids realised with horror what had transpired. They called out beseechingly to Krishna. He responded with alacrity. “Come, come to me and I will give you your garments.” “But how can we get out of the water?” begged the maids, looking shamefacedly at each other. “If you want your clothes, you have little choice, now, do you?” said Krishna, with a merry twinkle. Finally, eyes downcast, their flowing hair covering their bodies, the maids came out. Krishna shook his head. “Come to me,” he said, “in all your nakedness, without shame, without subterfuge. Come as you are, without pride or position. Come, as you came into the world. And I will clothe you with the only thing that matters – my love!” It is said that the gopis obeyed. Ever since, they have been known as Krishna’s first beloved.
The story appealed to me. From my childhood, at every moment of crisis, I had always turned to Krishna. But with pride in my intelligence, arrogance in my ideas. I had worshipped him, but always on my terms, clothed in concepts, garnished with philosophy. I wondered what it would feel to be like the gopis, vulnerable, defenceless. The moment I thought it, Krishna decided to take a hand in my affairs. Suddenly things went haywire. My magazine was in dire financial straits, payments for my workshops were overdue, and worst of all, I was cheated by my own staff. I had reached a nadir, a point of no return. All I had painstakingly built with assiduous care, came crumbling down. I wound up my magazine. I faced a void, a pit of emptiness. I just fell in. And then, like the gopis, like Draupadi, when I had nothing left to call my own, I called out to him. Krishna had said, “Surrender to me, and I will come to your aid. I will be your shield, your armour. This I promise.” Without even knowing it, I had become the gopis.
I thought of Bhanudas. Pleased with his devotion, Krishna who stood as Vittala in Pandharpur, had placed his own golden necklace around him. The next morning, the king accused Bhanudas of robbery. Handcuffs were placed on his wrists. Bhanudas looked at them and exclaimed, “See, my Vittala’s bracelet. It fits so well!” Later when he was taken to the gallows, he looked at the sword erected to impale him and smiled, “See how my Vittala gleams in the sun.” He did not ask why he had to die for no fault of his. It did not even occur to him. And that is why, as soon as the sword touched his skin, it transformed itself into a garland of flowers. But it hardly mattered to Bhanudas. For, having seen Krishna everywhere, he saw all things only as his benediction.
That was a lesson, hard to learn, that when you hand over your life to Krishna, you must expect the unexpected. You could be kneaded to pulp at one moment or you could be lauded the very next one. You could be wrung dry or you could be held high. You could be knocked or nurtured, hammered or honed. But, when you have conceded everything to him, even your pride, Krishna, will pick you up, work his inimitable magic on you and make you whole again.
I hesitantly let go off my tenacious grip on my life. I made way for Krishna, I gave him a toe hold. And ever so gently, in the most insidious manner, he began to work his miracles. A consignment of magazines that had occupied my loft for years, suddenly found buyers. A book assignment on aptly enough, The Life of Krishna, that I had seen slipping from me, soon landed snugly on my lap. I was picking up the pieces, I was learning to walk again.
Only now I know that I will never know. That I need never know. For I have that which is beyond knowledge – faith. I hear Krishna telling Arjuna, “Partha, see the child as it sits on its mother’s hip? The mother might be working at a hundred chores, the child may twist or turn or tumble, but it is still supremely confident, entirely relaxed. It knows the mother will never drop it. Never. That is how I hold you on my hip, Partha. No matter what, no matter how, trust me to carry you though…”
Those words he said to Arjuna. Yet, listen with the hearing ear, believe with the trusting heart - he will say it to you as well, just as he says it to me…
Chandrika has been an educator, an editor, a speaker, a writer. Her book, Atma Siddhi: In search of the Soul, was recently published.
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Subject: Krishna.... my friend - 9 December 2010
An article that narrates the love of the lord for his flock.. can i just be a cow, or just a gopi... i would be happy :)
Subject: krishna - 21 April 2009
the write-up has rekindled my love for the Lord. Thank you
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