Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chitra Sakhi's Dream

Krishna spies on Radha while she is being bathed.
Radha is being bathed in the morning. All the sakhis and manjaris are around her, doing their different sevas. Someone is oiling her hair. Others are massaging different creams into her skin, some are putting perfumes in the water or preparing the clothes and ornaments that she will wear afterward.

Lalita comes to where Radha is sitting on a velvet covered bench and tells her that Chitra has had a very strange dream. "Wait till you hear it, it will really make you laugh!" And she starts to recount it to Radharani.

In the dream Chitra has suddenly found herself in a beautiful garden somewhere by the Yamuna, but she does not know where or how she got there. She is completely alone and is looking for Shyamasundar. But who can she ask? There is no one there.

She starts to go a little mad and starts asking the elements to help her find him. One by one, she asks the air, the ether, water, earth and fire to help, since they are all-pervading and will know where Krishna is. She asks the air, but there is no answer. No one answers.

After going through all the elements, she begins to  feel hopeless and abandoned because she still hasn't seen her Shyamsundar. But then she suddenly sees five effulgent devatas standing by the river ghat.

She asks them who they are and they tell her they are the respective gods of the elements. They say that they have heard her call and come to her for her darshan.

So Chitra says, "Never mind all that, just tell me where is Shyamasundar?"

And they say, "We don't know. We do not have the power to see him."

Chitra: "Well that is a fine help!"

"Ordinarily, we cannot even see you gopis, but since you have called us, we are here. If you give us the dust of your feet, we will smear it on our eyes and then maybe we can find him for you."

"How is that? I can't find him myself and somehow my dust is going to help you find him? Doesn't make sense."

She is confused and backs away, so they come and take the dust anyway and smear it over their eyes. Then they roll in the dust, so that Chitra thinks they are completely crazy. and a few minutes later they come back and say, "He is just now coming." Then they disappear.

And suddenly Shyamasundar appears with a big smile on his face. Chitra says, "Where on earth have you been? What's the deal, leaving me all alone here by my lonesome?"

Krishna answers, "I was at the temple of Tripura Sundari, doing puja."

"What did you go there for?"

It takes some cajoling, but finally Krishna starts to tell her.

“Yesterday, I was watching as you all dressed Radha and I began to think. Radha's body is so soft and delicate that even the weight of the flower garland must bruise it. The sharp corners of her sari must scratch her and irritate her where she is so tender. The jewels are also heavy and unpleasant, what to speak of all the unguents and mascara that must be such an annoyance. One by one, all these concerns began to trouble me.

“I know she does all this for me, just to give me pleasure, but it is not really necessary. In fact, these clothes and makeup and jewelry are only fulfilling their own existence by being placed on her body. She does not really need them to make herself more beautiful for me.

“If I were to tell her to stop putting all this stuff on, I know she will do it just because I ask. But then, if she starts going around naked, people will really think she has gone completely crazy! They will lock her away inside the house and then she will really be in trouble. She will go sick from separation and die very soon.
Tripura Sundari

“I fell into a quandary, wondering what can I do? I could not sleep all night, so this morning I went to Devi's temple and began to pray.

“Tripura Sundari kindly appeared to me and said, ‘What is the trouble Shyam?’

“So I asked her, ‘Bhagavati, what is the softest thing in the world?’

“And Bhagavati said, smiling, ‘Why Shyam, there is nothing softer or more delicate in the entire universe than you and Radha!’”

So Krishna started thinking, “Aha! If I could just enter into all the things that Radha puts on, if I become her mascara, if I become her blouse, her sari, the alta on her feet, then all those things will become soft and more bearable for her, and they will cease to cause her any suffering.”

So Krishna said to Tripura Sundari, "You told me that I was the softest thing, so now you have to give me the power to enter all the hard things so there is no disturbance for Radha."



Interlude: This reminds me of some verses in Dana-keli-kaumudi:

Vrinda says:
Your body is soft and golden as ghee,
so why are you carrying the heavy jug of ghee?
Your head is meant to carry nothing heavier than
a locket of jasmine flowers— and even that would give you pain.
So please be kind and let me carry it for you. (21)
Radha: It’s not the weight of the jug that is slowing me down. Look at all these jewels I am wearing. I told Lalita not to put them on me, but she wouldn’t listen to me.

Visakha: Sakhi Radhe! Stand still for a second. I will help take some of this excessive jewelry off. (Starts doing so.)

Vrinda:
trapate vilokya padmā
lalite rādhāṁ vināpy alaṅkāram |
tad alaṁ maṇimaya-maṇḍana-
maṇḍala-racanā-prayāsena ||
The lotus flowers are still mocked by Radha’s natural beauty,
even when she is not bedecked with jewels and finery.
So you are right, all this effort
to dress and decorate her are a waste of time. (22)
This is the inner beauty called rūpam that does not require external decorations:

aṅgāny abhūṣitāny eva kenacid bhūṣaṇādinā |
yena bhūṣitavad bhāti tad rūpam iti kathyate ||
Rüpa is defined as “that quality by which a woman appears to be fully bedecked with all varieties of ornaments when in fact she is not.” (UN 10.25)
This is also a good meditation for ladies who are addicted to shopping for cosmetics and designer clothing and shoes. Your beauty, dear ladies, as a spark of Radharani, is the glow inside, not the cosmetics and fantasy jewelry outside!

Krishna's prayer to Devi is very long. He asks to become the ground on which Radha walks, to soften it for her and so on. Everything that is hard or rough or sharp, he wants to soften for her. It is Krishna’s version of the famous yat te sujāta verse:

yat te sujāta-caraṇāmbu-ruhaṁ staneṣu
bhītāḥ śanaiḥ priya dadhīmahi karkaśeṣu
tenāṭavīm aṭasi tad vyathate na kiṁ svit
kūrpādibhir bhramati dhīr bhavad-āyuṣāṁ naḥ
O dearly beloved! Your lotus feet are so soft that we, whose lives rests only in you, fear they will be hurt when we place them gently on our breasts, so we do it so carefully. Our minds, therefore, are filled with anxiety that these tender feet might be wounded by pebbles as you roam about on the forest path. (10.31.19)
When we timorously place your noble lotus feet on our breasts, which we fear are so rough, we think, “Have these feet not suffered enough from the sharp stones on the forest pathways?” And these thoughts make us dizzy because we have given our lives over to you completely (10.31.19).

There is another old verse in Padyavali, where Radha in separation says, "OK, I am going to die. No problem. If that is what God wants, that I should die in separation from Krishna, so be it. But I do ask that he grant me the following:

pañcatvaṁ tanur etu bhūta-nivahāu svāṁśe viśantu sphuṭaṁ
dhātāraṁ praṇipatya hanta śirasā tatrāpi yāce varam |
tad-vāpīṣu payas tadīya-mukure jyotis tadīyāṅgana-
vyomni vyoma tadīya-vartmani dharā tat-tāla-vṛnte’nilaḥ ||
O Master of my Destiny, I fall down and place my head at your feet,
praying to you to give me this benediction:
Let this body die and all its elements be mixed with the cosmic elements;
let the water of my body mix with the lake where Krishna bathes,
its light enter his mirror, to serve him when he beholds his reflection,
its ether merge with his courtyard, to surround him when he walks, talks or yawns,
may the earth in my body enter the ground upon which he walks
and the life air itself enter the palm-leaf fan used to relieve him from the heat.
So, Krishna is somewhat similarly praying to Devi for the power to enter all those things, so that the moment anything rough or hard or sharp touches her, he will soften the touch for her. So it is like a meditation. He is doing a sadhana of yoga meditation to be there IN the thing when it is going on her body.

End interlude.



Chitra is interrupted by Lalita’s arrival (I did not mention that Lalita left on some errand and told Chitra to finish the story herself) and so is silent for a moment. Radha is curious about the rest of the story, and pressures her, "Well, what happened then?"

In the dream, Chitra is also saying, "Well, what did Devi say to that?"

So Krishna tells Chitra, "Well, she said 'so be it'"

Chitra, "Really, did she? You're not just joking? "

"No seriously. She has given me this power.”

So Chitra says, "Shyam, dear one! I know that you love all of us sakhis along with Radha. So will you please from time to time become our ornaments and clothes as well? We know that your heart is very soft and so you would do this for us.

“But, more importantly, when you do so, will you give us a sign, especially when we are dressing Radha, so that we treat these ornaments and so on with extra care so as not to hurt you? We are always tossing these things around and dropping them. If you are present there then, surely you will suffer. And of course if we are giving you pain in any way, that will be disastrous for all of us."

Krishna just stares at Chitra, which makes her laugh nervously.

“What are you looking at? Listen, I was going crazy just a minute ago because I did not see you. And now you are staring at me like that?”

And she tells him the story of the five gods and concludes by asking Shyam, "Where are we anyway? What is this place? And where is Radha. And how did you know I was here anyhow?”

Krishna does not answer. He just hugs Chitra and at that very moment she wakes up in amazement.

Now Radha reacts to Chitra's story. She starts looking this way and that. She forgets that Chitra has been talking about a dream and thinks it is reality. She thinks, "Shyam loves me so much that he wants to be the ornaments on my body!" She immediately thinks Krishna is in her things. She starts seeing Krishna in everything, in every atom.

At this point, the preparations for the bath are complete and now they are going to bathe Radha. But Radha is completely in trance and immobile. Finally Lalita manages to brings her back to awareness by telling her that Dhanishtha has come and she has to go cook at Yashoda's house.

And all this while Krishna has been spying on Radha.

Meanwhile, Krishna is over by the kitchen, hiding and watching.




Radha Baba (1913-1992) was a devotee of Mahaprabhu and Radha-Krishna who lived in Gorakhpur. Though he did not openly preach, he wrote several devotional books. The above is roughly adapted from his book Keli-Kuñja (in Hindi, केलि-कुञ्ज), originally written in 1942-43, in which he recounts his visualizations of Radha-Krishna līlā. This book is available from the Shri Krishna Janma Sthan and Gita Vatika Prakashan, Gorakhpur. This is called svārasikī līlā smaraṇa of a nitya-līlā, but original to Radha Baba.

2 comments:

Bisakha Dasi said...

Thanks for the Radha Baba translations. I just bought Keli Kunj.

Krshakantha Das said...

Dandavat Pranam!

Are there any full english translations of Radha Baba books available? I tried to find it online but could not. I am very inspired by him and Hanuman Prasad Poddarji and would like to find more. I would greatly appreciate any info.