September 2015 By Swamini Aaradhana On the occasion of Janmashtami, Swamini Aaradhana pays a tribute to Krishna, Lord of her heart I know of no ‘Speaking Tree’ save the TOI one, which is more of a ‘writing tree’ . But my bedroom window overlooks a spreading tree at whose base a host of creepers and flowering strands nestle, like kids snuggling up to their mother. Often, almost involuntarily, I amble to this tree to gather my rambling thoughts. Here my mind unravels the spools of the subconscious effortlessly. “How can I contain in an article all that Krishna means to me?” The tree hears my sigh and retrieves an anecdote where a staunch Rama Bhakta conceded graciously, “I must admit that Krishna is by far the most popular of all the forms in the Hindu pantheon. At a recent spiritual fest I saw that Krishna calendars, key chains, desk tops and bookmarks were a huge sellout, with the rest of the bhagavans beating a subdued retreat!” What makes for Krishna’s arresting appeal? For a start, he shuns protocol. Few can resist his impish smile, lively jigs and rustic looks. The Prince of Nandgaon, he shuns silks, jewels and the royal tilak for tulasi malas, peacock plumes and chandan tilak. He slips into the roles of cowherd or charioteer with enviable elan. Next, he camouflages his wisdom with pranks and playfulness. This casual attitude, bolstered by his non-judgemental nature, attracts friends and foes, rustics and mystics alike. Innocent gopis, naughty gopas, haughty Kamsa, ugly Kubja, suffering Kunti, needy Sudama, greedy Duryodhana, humiliated Pandavas and humbled Satyabhama all find solace in his very presence. Even if it is an obnoxiously audacious visitor, Krishna puts him in his place very charmingly. There once came to Gokul a menacing demon, breathing fire, bristling with ire, and wielding a deadly club. “Hrrrrrrrrrrr!” he hurtled into the palace, and threatened the guard, “Move out of my way!” “Why should I? You are the intruder!” The club landed on the guard’s posterior and he fell flat. Smarting under the attack, the guard spluttered, “You beast of a brute!” Again the rakshasa clobbered the guard, till at last the latter looked like a squeezed-out sugarcane stick. At this juncture, Balaram, the elder brother of Krishna, came out to assess the scene. “Who are you?” he challenged the monster. “Too good for you!” The rakshasa’s nostrils flared, and he swung his club at clueless Balaram. “You unruly demon,” Balaram protested and was flogged again. This was a fatal blow to Balaram’s pride who had hitherto made mincemeat of many rakshasas. The war of words only got uglier and each time, the rakshasa defeated a befuddled Balaram, with his brawn and blows. Soon Balaram too lay in a deplorable heap. Krishna was the demon’s next target. When he spotted this boorish bully, Krishna smiled warmly, “Yes, how may I help you?” “You, what can you, a mere cowherd, do for me?” “Please let me be of some service to you,” Krishna offered. Strange! The rakshasa shrunk in size. With each abuse of the rakshasa that Krishna waived off, the rakshasa shrank, till at last, he became rat-sized. Krishna then tied him in his angavastra. Later, when Balaram related his nightmarish encounter with the rakshasa, Krishna untied the knot and placed the rat-like creature on his palm, “Was it this lout by any chance?” Balaram was stupefied. How was the monstrous menace cut to size? The rakshasa is our ego, that grows with every taunt and torture until it puts to rout our composure. Krishna quells it smartly and there lies the depth of his magnetism. His IQ (Inner Quotient) makes him a heady combination of mischief and maturity. Small wonder then, that he’s the spreading tree for millions down the ages! Your Eyes or mine? When as a child, You stole butter, Your eyes twinkled In utter mischief! When You played With the gopas and gopis, Your eyes teased With the merriment of affection! When You looked at Arjuna Shattered and battered on the battlefield, Your eyes shone With the warmth of compassion! When You whipped up That very Arjuna on that very battlefield, And gave him the ageless message Of the ageless Geeta, Your eyes sobered With sage-like wisdom! Same person, same eyes. Tell me, Oh, Lord, All along, was it Your eyes, Or my gaze that changed? -Swamini Aaradhana About the author For Swamini Aaradhana, writing and Radhakrishna mark her inner journey. She’s the editor of Balvihar, an international monthly at Chinmaya Mission.
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