Tales from Srimad Bhagavatam: Krishna and the Art of Unconditional Service – LIX

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Sukha continued narrating the story, second subpart, continuing from last week, as retold by Nilanjana, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.

Sukha continues narrating the story.

Krishna advised his friends, “Please go to the wives of these Brahmins. They will definitely not disappoint you. They may not be very well-versed in Vedic knowledge but they have unquestioning devotion towards me. They will definitely give you food.”

The simple cowherds did as instructed. They went to the same spot where the yajnas were being held, but they approached the wives of the priests. They told them what Krishna had said. The women did not analyze even for a single minute. They collected a different kind of dishes that they had made in separate containers and rushed to the spot where Krishna had halted.

Now, it is believed that God always awaits devotees. Even Krishna dressed himself up to welcome his guests. He wore a vanamala (flower garland) to match his golden garment. His knotted his hair on the crown and placed the feather of a peacock there. He colored his cheeks with the powder of the pink shell that was lying on the ground. He held a lotus in his right hand and the left one was rested on the shoulder of his companion.

This picturesque pose greeted the women who had come to meet Krishna with food. They had heard so many stories about him and now they could behold him with their mortal eyes. They were oblivious to the entire world since divinity masquerading as a mortal had completely taken over all their senses. This state is often known as sushupti(where the ego is totally absent).

Krishna happily welcomed them. He addressed them as his mother. He acknowledged their devotion towards him, towards the divine. This devotion is complete in itself and does not expect anything in return. But he also reminded them that in their devotion towards him they have forgotten their dharma, that is, the duty that they are expected to complete in this mortal life. The things of the world mean nothing to them – life, mind, intellect, family, relatives and other entanglements. This state is often called the Brahmi state – selfless love for the divine. However, they have other roles to play as well. Hence Krishna requested them to go back to their respective roles. Besides the presence of the wives are mandatory for completing the yajna that the Brahmins are performing with so much concentration.

The women, his devotees, were hurt. They had left everything to the divine and now it felt like they were being abandoned here too. Krishna assured them that nobody will doubt their sincerity. Besides, he will dwell in their hearts forever. They can hear his stories, think of him, contemplate on his form and sing his praises. That will ensure that they merge with him once they complete their mortal journey.

The yajna-patnis went back to the yajnashala (a place where the rituals were being performed) and completed their duty.  

In some time, the Brahmins realised their mistake. They realised that their behavior was far from appropriate. They began chiding themselves for not having seen the truth. Though they considered themselves thrice purified (being born of noble parents, being initiated to the Gayatri* mantra and having undergone special purification to conduct the rituals that they were performing), they missed the truth. All their expertise had made them “proud of the knowledge” and hence they forgot the basic duties of a grihasta(householder) – that feeding the needy before the yajna is over is not wrong in the given circumstances. Though the cowherds reminded them, they did not pay any heed to that. They were fully aware that divinity had taken birth in the form of a mortal and that everyone is just a part of the cosmic soul, and yet their arrogance had led to this act of ignorance. On the contrary, their wives were no experts in knowledge but had their hearts in the right place.

The Brahmins were so ashamed that they could not dare to meet Balarama and Krishna.

Another Krishna story was narrated this way to Parikshit.

 [To be continued]

*The Gayatri mantra – The priestly class in the traditional Indian caste system is often initiated to this mantra through a ceremony called ‘Upanayana’. The mantra is dedicated to the Sun God.

Footnote: Srimad Bhagavatam is often called the Bhagavad Purana. Authored by Ved Vyasa, the stories are about the various avatars(incarnations) of Lord Vishnu, also known as Narayana. These stories are narrated by Sukhadeva to King Parikshit.

©Nilanjana Dey

Photos from the Internet

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