This was originally published in www.yentha.com on Janmashtami, a few years ago, when I was doing a weekly column named Kochuvarthamanam for them.
Someone once remarked that you have never fallen in love until you have fallen in love with Krishna.
That’s a thought to be pondered upon. Millennia old and yet, the eternal love story of Radha, the Gopika, and Krishna, the cowherd, continues to enthrall people as it did at the beginning of time. But that is not all. Every aspect of Krishna continues to fascinate. And that is why among the followers of a religion that lets you choose your own personal God, Krishna happens to be a hot favourite.
Agreed, Shiva is one amazing dude of a god, what with his inimitable fashion statement complete with matted unruly mane, cool tiger skin duds, accessorised to the hilt with sinuous snake wraps, burst of fire, resplendent crescent, and one wild river tamed to a mere trickle in his riotous dreadlocks. And best of all, that All Seeing Eye of his! He can literally kill with a look (as Kamadeva found out the hard way) . He is one groovy mover, and I am yet to come across a dancer who can outperform him. Some moves he has! And boy oh boy! Can he play the drum! No wonder the whole universe dances to his rhythm.
If nothing else, you have got to give full marks to Him for taking feminism to a whole other level. Ardhanareeshwara. Need I say more? This is one God who actually means it when he talks about His ‘better half’. And that does not take away one bit from his masculinity. He is all man, rough and tough, with his incredible physique, six packs and all. Seen him in his tiger skin robes? And you thought Brad Pitt and Sean Connery looked good in skirts. Like I said, he’s one cool guy…er…God!
And while Shiva piques the wild and passionate in you, Krishna appeals to the gentler aspects. That’s why you ought to fall in love with both Krishna and Shiva. While Krishna’s flute tugs at your heartstrings, the cosmic drum of Shiva sends a pulsing crescendo surging through your veins. Krishna is beloved as a son, a friend, or a lover among others. He is associated with the gentler side of love, like, romance, tenderness, playfulness, vatsalya… His devotees at the height of their devotion adore him, sing to him, chide him, or playfully fight with him. And he in turn is not just a friend, philosopher and guide (to Arjuna), but also plays doctor (to Melppathoor Narayana Bhattathirippad), or an errand boy, albeit one full of mischief to an old lady, the little trickster driving her nuts that she finally shut him up in an old black pot (Kurooramma).
He is happily anything his devotee wants Him to be. How else do you explain the deeply spiritual and metaphysical poetry of Subramania Bharathi dedicated to Krishna, where He is once the poet’s friend, then his master and at another time, his menial servant. And when the mood struck him, Bharathi even saw Krishna as a girl and called her Kannamma. But whatever role He played, it is as a lover that He was most attractive — with skin the color of heavy monsoon clouds, eyes like lotuses and bewitching smile. And when he played the flute, it was not just the Gopis who left their chores midway and ran to him, Nature Herself stopped to listen.
And talk about Krishna and his love and two women immediately spring to mind. No, not Rugmini and Sathyabhama. Although his wives, those worthy ladies always come after Radha and Meera when the discussion is about the women in Krishna’s ‘life’.
Although Meera was not his contemporary, enough can never be said about her devotion to her Lord whom she installed in her heart at a tender age and never let go despite the direst conditions. As for Radha… what can you say about her, His one true and perfect love? The Radha-Krishna pair embodies everything that love should be – physical, spiritual, and metaphysical.
It was this Divine Love that inspired Jeyadeva to compose Geetha Govinda, an intimate account of Radha’s passion for her Lord. The beautiful verses weave through the erotic and the physical planes to transport you to sublime heights of ardent spiritualism. How many women have not lost themselves in the sheer beauty of Jeyadeva’s lines and emerged from it to see themselves as Radha and longed for separation from their beloved, just so to experience that delicious longing expressed so ardently.
Radha’s love symbolised the soul’s eternal longing to be one with God. He exalted her among all the Gopikas and proclaimed her as the one closest to His heart. They are one entity where you cannot know where Krishna ends and Radha begins. Yet He never married her but left her at Brindavan when he moved to Mathura. The two never met after that. Their love is all about the agony and despair of longing following separation. Viraham…
And on that note, I take leave of you. And to Krishna, “Happy 5139th!” (Well, that’s how old He is, by some accounts)