It’s strange for people who have known me, that I should still be open to love- relationships; read romantic liaisons, when I have lost 3 precious years of my life with heartbreak and the resultant Depression.
This is an article for all those sceptics.
Nandgaon, the birthplace of Lord Krishna. Barsana, the village of his beloved Radha. With Holi (the Indian festival of Colours), just a fortnight away, people from both the villages take to the streets, as Laatimar Holi began yesterday. Guys from Krishna’s village will visit Radha’s village and throw coloured powder on girls and women there.
This a tradition that has been celebrated for generations now, in honour of the Divine Couple – Radha and Krishna.
Krishna and Radha are a unique couple in Hindu tradition. Never having solemnised their romantic liaison into marriage, they are worshipped together just as lovers (note that Krishna later had over a thousand wives).
Their dance on the banks of river Yamuna, their play as lovers (wherein Krishna even dresses up in Radha’s clothes and she wears his clothes), are imprinted deep in the psyche of Indians, as a holy couple deeply in love with one another.
When Krishna had to leave for the city of Dwarka, Radha was in tears. However Krishna’s duties in life were more important, and she let him go. And Krishna could never make it back to Radha in his entire lifetime.
As Robert Lovelace reasons in this beautiful poem,
Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind /
That from the nunnery /
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind /
To war and arms I fly./
True, a new mistress now I chase, /
The first foe in the field; /
And with a stronger faith embrace /
A sword, a horse, a shield.
Yet this inconsistency is such /
As you too shall adore; /
I could not love thee, Dear, so much, /
Loved I not Honour more.
In the temples of Krishna in India, you will find Him stand playing his flute, with Radha resting her head on his shoulders. They are the divine couple: God incarnated on earth to teach a lesson in true love.
It’s said that when the dark and handsome Krishna would play his flute at the banks of river Yamuna in the moon-lit night, all the Gopis (those who were in love with Krishna) would be drawn to the river bank, mesmerised by the music. And they would join Krishna and Radha in their games of love. And each Gopi would find Him dancing exclusively with each of them, satisfying their thirst of love, in the form of the beloved.
In Radha, the ever-thirsty love of the human psyche is symbolised. And she shows us the true way this thirst can be fulfilled, by not letting pain scare you. She surrenders to God, and she lets love have its own way without trying to manipulate.
Contrary to Greek epics and drama, Indian epics always had a happy ending. Hence the separation of Krishna and Radha is not seen as a tale in tragedy.
For in the love of Radha, we see her satisfied with the limited time she has spent with her beloved. She is a symbol of ever-giving love, never asking for more, never judging her beloved, never judging him, ever being satiated with the love she has in her heart for her lover. Her’s is not a greedy kind of love.
In her, we find the beauty of true love. In her we discover the alchemy of transforming the feeling of love in one’s heart into something Greater, the transformation of love into a special kind of love called Bhakti or surrender/devotion to the God (which ultimately reflects outward as compassion for everyone).
She’s so much in love, she surrenders. She’s so much in love, she never asks. She is so much in love, she forgives. She is so much in love, she lives without him, content and in happiness.
This alchemy of the transformation of the pain of love, or the search for wholeness in one’s heart that manifests as search for love in the heart of one’s beloved, this transformation of common love into something Greater, is Bhakti.
Hard to be graced with, the sages do austerities and penances to be able to gain this alchemy, to gain this simple love. Because though it is simple, it’s often the most difficult to achieve.
As Sukhmani Sahib (a religious book of the Sikhs) says, “It’s only through the Grace of God, that one can gain Bhakti.”
No wonder then, that Adi Shankaracharya (the Hindu sage, revivalist of Hinduism in its present form), who was an ocean of knowledge, in the final years of his life composed poems to develop this ‘simple’ love for the Divine in the hearts of the common-man.
Because the aim of all the methods to Reach God, is one-to develop Bhakti in one’s heart.
Whether we try to reach God-realization through Knowledge, penances, rituals, austerities or fulfilling of one’s duty (the failing of which is Hinduism’s idea of sin and the performance of which is one’s Dharma) – all these aspire towards one goal – developing love for God in our hearts.
As the saint Mira (the queen who became a sage) puts it – It’s a gem (the Bhakti, love for God is a gem), which she has finally found, with the Grace of her Guru (Haridas, who was a simple low-caste Cobbler).
She sings in one of her famous poems in Hindi –
“paayoji mainne ram ratan dhan paayo -
Vastu amolik dil mera sataguru -
kripaa kari apnaavo…”
Translated : “Listen O Respected one, I have found the gem of (the love for ) Ram (God) with the grace of my Guru”.
In this article today, I have summarized the Hindu alchemy to find true joy… Love in one’s heart for the Divine.
As Kahlil Gibran speaks of love thus:
“For even as love crowns you so shall (it) crucify you…
… And then (love) assigns you to (its) sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.”