Tag Archives: Srimad Bhagavat

MAHA-RAASA: the Universal Dance of Life: A Celebration of Life!

(Sharad Purnima / Raasa Purnima falls on Saturday – 31st Oct 2020)

SHARAD PURNIMA is the full moon day in the autumn season. The full moon on this day is closest to the earth and therefore its influence and healing benefits are immense and profound. The moon represents the mind and the sun represents the Light of Knowledge. On the purnima day, all of the sun’s light falls on the moon unobstructed. Therefore the full moon in all its glory represents a pure satwic mind endowed with knowledge. The minds of the Gopis of Vrindavan are likened to the full-moon and Sri Krishna, the Personification of Knowledge (Sun) danced in their minds! This is the true inner RAASA-KREEDA. The entire inner Raasa-kreeda is externalised and dramatized beautifully as the dance-sport of Sri Krishna with the Gopis. Therefore Sharad Purnima is also called as RAASA PURNIMA. In some parts of the country, Karthik Purnima which comes in the next calendar month is also called as Raasa Purnima. 

On the full moon night (Sharad Purnima), Sri Krishna revelling in His own Ananda Swaroopa picked up His flute by name “Aakarshini” (the one which attracts) and started playing upon it. The flute represents the entire world of things and beings, macro as well as micro, through which Krishna – the LIFE flows, enlivening it and making it dynamic. SAARA means “essence”, the INCOMPREHENSIBLE “TOUCH-OF-LIFE” – the Ultimate Reality. When the word is reversed, it becomes RAASA, the COMPREHENSIBLE “PLAY-OF-LIFE” through the gross and subtle matter-equipments. KREEDA is “sport”. Hence RAASA-KREEDA represents the CELEBRATION-OF-LIFE: the play or sport of SPIRIT (Purusha) through MATTER (Prakriti): the Creation-Sustenance-Dissolution of the Universe. This Celebration is full of Joy and Happiness (Rasavath). This “Eternal Dance of Life-through-Matter” is both, at the individual (micro) as well as at the cosmic (macro) level, and hence it is known as MAHA-RAASA.

There is Naada (music), Nritya (dance) and Naataka (drama) very beautifully represented in the Raasa-Kreeda of Lord Krishna with the Gopis. The Nava-rasas (the nine moods) of the mind starting from Shringara (Beauty) to Shanta (Peace) are beautifully depicted. The GOPIKAS danced with KRISHNA. “Go” means “knowledge”. “Pi” means “to drink” and “Ka” means “happiness”. Therefore GOPIKA means “one who is revelling in the blissful spiritual knowledge”. GOPIKA hence symbolises all spiritual seekers. Infact, all things and beings created by the Lord are GOPIS – all for the Lord’s Leela (Sport). The Lord’s music enthralls the whole of Nature, the whole Universe.

In Sage Bharata’s Natya Sastra, RAASA has been defined as “a form of dance wherein a number of women, dance in a circle with their hands interlocked in the company of men who dance with them with their arms placed round the neck of their female partners.” In the Raasa-kreeda, though Lord Krishna stood at the centre, each gopi visualised the presence of Krishna next to her. Hence there were as many Krishnas as there were Gopis on the circumference of the circle. 
Krishna as the “motionless centre” represents the Absolute Reality: the UNIVERSAL LIFE, the BRAHMAN. All movement is at the circumference. Each Gopi representing the mind or the thoughts totally identifies herself with Krishna, and therefore sees Krishna next to her rather than at the centre. Therefore, the Krishna-and-Gopi pairs represent the “Individual Life expressing through the mental-thoughts”. Their dance of identifying and interlocking with each other, and their movement represent the INDIVIDUAL LIFE functioning through MATTER: the relationship between Prakriti and Purusha, the Vishwa and Vishwanatha.

According to Bhagavat Purana, Krishna is blue in colour representing Infinitude. Gopis are depicted as yellow (brilliant lustre) in colour. When they are dancing, the blue and yellow mutually overlap to yield green colour. Hence Krishna as well as the Gopis look like green emeralds! Green is the colour of balance, equilibrium and equipoise. In the infinite play of Prakriti and Purusha, there is divine equilibrium and balance in the cosmos (macro) and in each individual (micro). 
The Krishna-Gopi pair at the micro level represent “Consciousness+Thought” playing about within oneself – a mini Raasa! Infact, the Whole Universe is a MAHA-RAASA. From the celestial bodies, the planetary system, the silent mountain ranges, the rains, the roaring ocean, the flowing rivers, the passing breeze, the nodding fields upto the complex body system, the mind-intellect equipment – all are a play of Prakriti and Purusha – perpetual Raasa-Kreeda! So many…many mini Raasa-s in the Cosmic Raasa! 

“Tava kathaamrutam tapta jeevanam kavibhiriditham kalmashapaham; sravana mangalam srimadaatatam Bhuvi grhnanti te bhuridaa janaaha” (Lord’s divine glories in the form of nectarine stories, most auspicious to hear are recited and spread amongst the mortals by the great and compassionate sages which alone is the life-giving antidote to the miseries of samsara) ~ Gopika Geeta (Bhagavat Purana)

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Sri Krishna and Parijatha

Lord Krishna

Sage Narada once visited Amaravati, Lord Indra’s kingdom. There in the heavenly garden called Nandanavana, he spotted a tree with tiny beautiful flowers with an orange stalk and pure white petals amidst the green leaves. They were looking like stars and they were spreading a divine fragrance all around. They were Parijatha flowers. 

When the devatas and the rakshasas together churned the milk ocean for “amruta”,  many rare and unique things, plants, animals and beings emerged out of the milk ocean. Parijatha Vriksha was one amongst them. Not only the flowers are beautiful and have an unearthly fragrance, but the flowers also have great medicinal value. Indra, the king of the gods took the tree with him as a gift to his wife Sachidevi and planted it in his garden.

Narada asked Indra if he could take a few flowers with him and Indra agreed. Narada collected a few Parijatha flowers and reached Dwaraka. He met the Lord and gave the heavenly flowers to him. Narada told Krishna to give it to anyone of his queens whom he thought worthy of the flowers and added that whoever adorned themselves with these flowers would be immensely benefited. They would become more beautiful, keep good health and endear themselves to one and all. Krishna immediately gave it to Rukmini.

Narada was mighty pleased. He then went to the palace of Satyabhama, another consort of Krishna. He narrated the whole parijatha incident that had happened, and told her that though Krishna talked about Satyabhama being his favourite queen, in truth it was actually Rukmini who was his favourite, because the Lord had given her the flowers. Satyabhama became extremely angry with Krishna and even refused to meet him when he came to her palace. However, Krishna managed to console Satyabhama and told her that he would get the entire tree for her. She was very happy and decided to accompany Krishna to Indraloka. 

Krishna and Satyabhama went to Indraloka and asked for the tree. The arrogant Indra refused to part with it, even though the Lord himself asked for the tree. To teach Indra a lesson, Krishna plucked the tree by its roots, placed it on Garuda’s back and was about to start from there when Indra stood against the Lord ready to fight with him. Krishna and Indra fought but Indra was defeated. He then realized his mistake and sought forgiveness from the Lord for waging a battle against him. The Lord forgave him. Krishna brought the Parijatha tree and planted it in the courtyard of Satyabhama as per her wishes. 

Parijatha flowers

Satyabhama went to Rukmini and boasted about the Parijatha tree in her courtyard and how the Lord had fought with Indra for the same. Rukmini smiled and very calmly told Satyabhama that she did not desire or long for anything when the Lord of all the worlds was her constant companion. However Satyabhama walked off, still revelling in the priceless gift that she had just then obtained. At night, the flowers bloomed, but the wind (Vayu) carried all the fragrance to Rukmini’s courtyard. And in the morning when Satyabhama went to the courtyard, she saw all the flowers fallen over the compound wall into Rukmini’s courtyard. Krishna had planted the tree in such a way that the tree was in Satyabhama garden but the flowers fell into the courtyard of Rukmini. She now realized that the Lord was teaching her a lesson and completely rid of pride and arrogance, with utmost devotion Satyabhama prostrated to Lord Krishna and Rukmini.

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Krishna and Sudama

Krishna and Sudama were childhood friends studying together in the ashram of their Guru Sandeepani. After their education was over, both of them went back to their homes, married and settled down.

Krishna became the King of Dwaraka whereas Sudama and his family were steeped in poverty. Even one square meal a day was difficult for them. But that did not in the least affect Sudama. In spite of all the diffculties, he would constantly remember and revel in the memories of his childhood friend and Lord of all the worlds – Sri Krishna. Often, Sudama would wonder if the Lord of Dwaraka still remembered his poor friend, but then he would console himself because the Lord had promised that he would never forget him. Sudama’s wife would often tell him to approach Dwarakadhish, his dear friend, whom he so often talked about and ask for some monetary help. But he refused. However, when she insisted day after day, he finally decided to go to Dwaraka and meet his friend. Sudama asked his wife to give him something to carry as a gift. After all how could he go empty handed to meet his dearest friend? Since there was nothing in the house she went to her neighbour, explained the situation and borrowed a handful of rice flakes, tied it up carefully in a cloth and gave it to Sudama. With this small bundle flung over his shoulders and a stick in his hands, he proceeded to Dwaraka.

At the gates of the palace in Dwaraka, the soldiers on guard turned him away and did not let him inside inspite of telling them that he was Krishna’s childhood friend. They laughed and scoffed at him. How could a beggar in tattered clothes be the friend of the Lord of Dwaraka? Lord Krishna who was in the inner chambers of the palace with his wives, immediately knew of Sudama’s arrival. He got up and came running all the way to the main entrance where Sudama was. The moment both of them saw each other, they were overwhelmed and with tears in their eyes hugged each other in a tight embrace. Krishna lovingly took Sudama into the palace and seated him on the throne. He called Rukmini who came with a golden vessel full of water. The divine couple washed the brahmana-guest’s feet. Thereafter Sudama was treated to a royal feast. Amidst the feast, Sudama remembered his own hungry children far away in his hometown, but did not utter a word. He rested for a while with Krishna pressing his feet and Rukmini fanning him. He was totally embarrassed, but at the same time was very happy that Krishna, now the King of Dwaraka had not forgotten his poor friend. One whole day Sudama spent with Krishna revelling in the Lord’s glory. He simply forgot to ask the Lord for any help.

Next day when Sudama came forward to take leave of Krishna, the All-knowing Lord asked him what he had brought for him as a gift. Sudama was too embarassed and shy to give the little rice flakes to Krishna. But what else could he a poor beggar bring for the Lord as a gift? He hesitated. However the Lord had seen the bundle of rice flakes tucked behind and asked for it. Sudama refused to give, but Krishna snatched the bundle from him and opened it to find his favourite rice flakes there. Thanking Sudama for bringing what he liked, the Lord very happily took one handful of rice flakes and put it in to his mouth and relished it. When He went for a second helping, Rukmini came forward and took away the bundle saying it was her share now, but with a look suggesting that one handful was enough for the Lord to bestow on Sudama all the riches he needed for a lifetime!

A happy Sudama took leave of Krishna and left for his hometown. All the way through he kept thinking what he would tell his wife because he had not asked the Lord for any help. He came to his place, approached his lane and walked through, but he could not find his simple, humble hut. In its place stood a huge mansion. Thinking that he had entered the wrong lane, he turned around but heard someone calling out to him. He turned back. Standing right in front of the palatial dwelling, were his wife and children dressed in silken clothes and wearing beautiful golden ornaments. Sudama just could not believe his eyes! He asked them what happened. They too were overwhelmed! Overnight their destiny had changed – in fact everything had changed. Sudama knew that this was all Lord Krishna’s grace and blessings. The Lord had more than fulfilled all their requirements — and all for a handful of rice flakes! In sheer gratitude, with tears streaming from his eyes, Sudama invoked the Lord and humbly prayed that his faith and devotion to His Lord should never waver, and he should ever remain steadfast, inspite of all the riches and luxuries around. The Lord had indeed kept up His promise to his childhood friend!

Who is a friend​? He who comes to you with love and cheer, when all others have left you, is a true friend. Such a true friend is discovered not by searching outside for the right person to be friend, but by your growing to be the right person to deserve a friend! - Swami Chinmayananda

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Krishna’s Gurudakshina!

Krishna and Balarama accompanied Akrura and came to Mathura at the behest of Kamsa. All the evil-minded tyrant’s plans to kill Krishna were in vain. Finally Krishna killed Kamsa. The Devatas were delighted, the Gandharvas sang and Apsaras danced in sheer joy and rained down showers of flowers. Ugrasena, Krishna’s grandfather was released from prison and reinstalled back on the throne of Mathura. Vasudeva and Devaki were overwhelmed to see their children Krishna and Balarama after so many years of longing and hoping.

Vasudeva then approached his family Guru, Gargacharya and in accordance with the sastras, had the Upanayana performed for both of them. Balarama and Krishna then undertook the vows of Gaayatra (for learning Gayatri-mantra), Praajaapatya (for commencing the study of Vedas) and Braahma (for consistency till the end of Vedic study) under the instructions of their Guru. Gargacharya was well aware about the divinity of Krishna and Balarama. He spoke to Vasudeva and told him to send his sons to Guru Sandeepani, one of the greatest Acharya’s who was residing in Ujjain. Vasudeva agreed, and both Krishna and Balarama proceeded to Ujjain from Mathura. 

Krishna and Balarama reached the hermitage of Guru Sandeepani, offered their prostrations and introduced themselves to him and prayed that they be accepted as his disciples. Sandeepani knew in reality who they were, and whole-heartedly accepted them as his disciples. Krishna and Balarama reverentially and respectfully served their teacher with all devotion. The best of the Acharyas, Guru Sandeepani taught them the four Vedas and their six auxiliary branches, the Upanishads, the Science of Archery along with the Mantras, Dharmasastras, Nyaya, Rajaneeti and other branches of knowledge. And in just sixty four days they mastered all the sixty four Arts.

After their studies in the Gurukula, before leaving, they asked their Guru what they could offer as their Guru Dakshina. An overwhelmed Sandeepani  who was aware of the Lord’s infinite glory asked Krishna to restore back his child whom he had lost in the ocean at Prabhasa kshetra. Krishna promised to bring back the child, and the brothers reached Prabhasa. The presiding deity of the ocean immediately manifested himself and asked in what way he could serve the Lord. Krishna asked him for Sandeepani’s son who had been swallowed up by the waves. 

Samudra told Krishna that he had not taken away the child. A rakshasa by name Panchajana who lived in the ocean in the form of a conch had taken away the child. The Lord immediately plunged into the waters, fought the rakshasa and killed him. The body of the rakshasa – Panchajanya which was in the form of a conch was taken by the Lord. However the Lord did not find his Guru’s child there. Then Krishna and Balarama went to the city of Lord Death called Samyamani. Krishna announced his arrival by blowing the Panchajanya. Lord Yama immediately came forward and offered his prostrations to both of them and with folded hands asked in what way he could serve the Lord. Lord Krishna said, “bring the son of my Guru Sandeepani whom you have carried away due to the child’s own destiny”. Yama immediately brought the child and presented him to Krishna. The Lord took the child with him to his Guru’s ashram. Sandeepani was overjoyed to get his son back from the jaws of death. 

Krishna again requested his Guru to ask for anything else as a boon. Guru Sandeepani who was more than fulfilled told Krishna, “O my child! can any desire remain unfulfilled for a preceptor who has you as his disciple. You both have indeed fully paid the debt to your teacher. Return back to your home. May your divine glory purify all. May your knowledge ever remain fresh in your memory here as well as hereafter.” With prayerful prostrations and carrying with them these blessings of Guru Sandeepani, Krishna and Balarama reached Mathura.

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