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Posted at21:14:21 IST on Mar 24, 2010

From ages together there have been many questions about spirituality which have made man ponder and search for the subtle truth of life. Questions like: how did the world actually come to being? Who is the creator of this world? What is the form of God? Is the God of different religions different? All these questions have been answered by the wise saints and seekers.  The answers to these kinds of questions are the essence of spiritual knowledge. One such query once arose in the mind of Sage Narada. Sage Narada is one of the most knowledgeable and wise even amongst the rishis. He is considered to be the son of Brahma. Just like many of us who don’t consult any of our friends when we have any doubt while studying, we directly approach the teacher himself. In the same way Narada approached Lord Narayana Himself with his query. He asked the Lord: O’ Narayana where do you actually reside? Do you reside in this Vaikunta? Do you reside in the heart of the sages? Do you reside in the heart of the devotee? To this the Lord replied: Narada, I do not reside in any of the places that you mentioned. I instead reside in the heart of the devotee who is lost in the bliss of the namasmarana of the Lord. It is in this devotee’s heart that I play my flute. The devotee who chants my name with devotion, his heart becomes my residence.

Who is a saint? The Bhagwatam says: the one who is not affected by words of praise or criticism is the one who is a saint. Very often when we are applauded for our work of achievement that we have done we immediately begin to soar high and start dreaming of as though no one is better than us, and when criticized we begin to hate the person who does that to us, though that may be the truth. 

On one such occasion, Narada was doing his meditation and the king of devas Indra began to worry. The Bhagwatam describes lord Indra as a person who is always worried about losing his throne, each time he sees some one doing penance, he begins to think that the devotee is aspiring to become the king of the heaven. So he tries to disturb Narada, but Narada is unaffected and finally Indra gives up. After this incident, Narada becomes very proud of himself and approaches Narayana. He says, Lord! today even Indra could not succeed in distracting me, so I have now become the greatest and got control over all my senses. I have even conquered the great Kamadhenu. The Lord in his humble way confers more blessings on Narada, but while He is doing so, He his making a master plan to kill Narada’s ego. As Narada leaves Vaikunta and is heading towards his home, he comes across a kingdom where he sees lot of festivities and celebrations, so he approaches the kingdom. This kingdom is actually created by the Lord himself. The king on seeing the revered sage approaching him welcomes him to the kingdom. The sage asks as to why this much of celebration and festivity around. “It is my daughter’s marriage, so kings from all the kingdoms around will be gathering for the swayamvar. That is the reason for this much gala activity”. The king then seeks the blessings of the sage, asks him to see the horoscope of his daughter and bless her. At this point of time the sage is no more seeing the horoscope, he sees the princess and a series of thoughts begin to run across his head. He begins to think; how long in life will I keep going around like this walking with a veena in one hand a ‘chakka’ in the other. How long will I be all alone like this in life just chanting the name of the Lord? Even the Vedas mention that man should move across the 4 stages of life, which are: Brahmacharya, Grihasta, Vanaprasta and Sanyasa. So I have lived enough of my share of life as a Brahamachari, it is now time I shift to the next stage of Grihasta. Moreover even the Lord is married and has a consort for Himself, so there is nothing wrong even if I decide to get married.

With this thought he decides to approach Narayana for His blessings.  When he reaches Vaikunta, the all knowing Lord is aware of all that is happening, so He is smiling as Narada approaches Him.  

Narayana greets Narada: Oh! Sage you seem to be very happy and what brings you here.

Narada replies: Oh! Lord, I want to get married, I have roamed around like this alone for long time. I have seen a princess and want to get married to her.

Lord replies: that is good news Narada, what should I do? Should I come and talk to the king.

Narada: Lord, no need of all that trouble, I can do the talking.

Lord: then what is it that you want from me?

Narada: Lord you have such a beautiful form, why don’t you give me that form of yours.

Lord: Narada all forms are mine, the fragrance from the flower is mine, the brightness of the sun is mine, the chillness of the breeze is also my form, the coolness of the flowing river is also mine, the depth of the ocean is also mine, choose any form that you want.

Narada: there is no form of yours that is not beautiful, give me any form that you like. At this point the Lord begins to think of the person who is dear to him, he remembers Hanuman. So now Narada enters the kingdom with full confidence that today he is going to become the Bridegroom, there will be no one who will even come close to him in beauty, since he has the form of the Lord. Narayana himself has come to the wedding in a different form and is seated along with the other princes. The princess comes out with the garland and starts walking towards the princes seated. Everyone in the hall, the other kings, the devas, the shiv ganas, are all watching Narada and laughing, Narada himself is also laughing because he feels that they are all stunned on seeing such a beautiful form and are thus staring at him. So as the princess is walking down, she is gradually approaching Narada, so Narada is about to get up so that she need not take the trouble of garlanding him, but she passes by him and walks away and garlands the Lord who is sitting there in a different form. At this point Narada is dejected and wonders how did this happen? How was he ignored? At that time one of the shiva ganas tells him to see his face in the reflection of the well, probably then he will get the answer. On doing so, he is shocked when he sees that he has the face of a monkey over his neck. To this he becomes furious and approaches Vaikunta. He approaches the Lord and tells Him.  “I have asked you to help me, instead you made a fool of me, so I have come to curse you”. To this Narayana does not react, at this moment the princess walks out from a door.  So Narada is all the more hurt, but before he can react and say anything the Lord asks the princess to reveal herself. When she does so, Narada is shocked to see that it is none other than Goddess Lakshmi herself who was the princess. Now, Narada realizes that all this was actually the master plan of the lord, to kill the ego of Narada, to teach him that he is not the supreme most being.  Don’t be egoistic about your achievement; your success is God’s grace. The Lord tells that ego is born out of praise, position and money. 

The gopikas had no ego that is why the Lord enjoyed dancing with them. Once even they were bitten by this ego that the Lord enjoys dancing only in their company.  The moment this thought crossed their mind, the Lord disappeared. On noticing that Krishna was not amidst them the gopikas got worried and began to search for him, they then realized that there must have been some mistake on their part because of which the Lord left them. They began to seek his forgiveness and pray to him to come back and not leave them in this state. The moment they realized this and prayed for forgiveness, their sweet Gopala was back amidst them and dancing and playing with them.

On one such day, when Krishna was enjoying himself in the Raasleela, Lord Shiva was distracted in His Samadhi by the sweet sound of the flute. On hearing this sweet sound, He tells Parvati that He also wants to go and be a part of that Divine Raasleela in which Krishna is playing so mellifluously. To this Parvati replies, Lord please don’t go there, or else all the ‘Ras’ of the Raasleela will be lost. She also explains that Krishna is the only boy amidst all the other women there, so He cannot go because they will mind another man amidst them. So, if he has to go, he has to leave the snake behind, he will have to cut his hair and also make his beard.  To this Shiva replies He cannot do so, because the snake is a dear friend of His and He cannot leave him.

So Parvati gives a solution that He could still go, but He has to be covered in a saree, must hide his face and also not to speak a word. So Parvati along with Lord Shiva, approach Brindavan where the Raasleela is going on. All the gopikas are shocked on seeing such a tall Gopika; they begin to ask Parvati who is this Gopika, who is so tall unlike any of us.  So they ask the Gopika covered totally in saree, what is your name, but there is no reply, which Parvati covers up by telling, she is very shy woman she doesn’t speak to anyone apart from her husband. They ask her to show her face; again all they get is only a nod implying ‘No’, again Parvati covers up by telling that she does not even show her face to anyone else apart from her husband. At this point Krishna realizes that the person who has come is none other than Lord Shiva, so He begins to play the flute so mellifluously that Lord Shiva cannot control Himself anymore and begins to dance, during which the saree falls off. On seeing the snake around His neck, the hair locks of His and the muscular body, many of the Gopikas faint on sight.

The narration in the Bhagwatam takes a paradigm shift when the focus shifts from the Raasleelas of the Lord to His Rajleelas. The last part of day’s narration describes very beautifully the bond of love between the lord Krishna and his mother Yashodha and also the love between the Lord and Radha. King Akrur reaches Brindavan to take away Krishna and Balram to Mathura on the call of Kamsa. When he does so, the people of Brindavan deny sending Krishna with him, telling that by “taking Krishna away from us you are taking away the life of our land, you are taking away our very breath. We cannot lose our life to you just like that”. But after every discussion at the end it is decided that Krishna and Balram will be sent. The next day as Yashoda is giving bath to Krishna she realizes that this is the last time she will be doing so to her little son, so she is doing it with extra affection. When she is feeding him, Krishna tells her, “mother, today I feel more hunger as after today I will not be able to eat from your hands in the same way ”  as He tells her this, she breaks down to tears and feeds him with more love. As He is about to go, He sees that the river Yamuna, the trees, the branches, the Gopikas are all dejected and in sorrow.  So He tells to Akrur, please take me and go before I change my mind to stay back here because of their affection and love for Me. As he is going in the chariot, on the outskirts of Brindavan, He sees Radha lying across the road. Radha is in tears and tells” this tears blur my vision now, you may be the Lord of the world, but you cannot just crush the feelings of love and walk away, if you want to go to Mathura you will have to run the chariot over me and go”. Krishna speaks to Radha and convinces her, that He has to go; he has this greater work to be done for the humanity. He is the hope for all those who are suffering from the rule of Kamsa. He again commands Akrur to take him away before the love of Radha becomes the shackles of His feet. With these words he leaves Brindavan.