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Krishna Tends to Radha's Feet

Krishna Tends to Radha’s Feet

There is an artist in Bhopal who, when meeting her, immediately reminded me of Radha. Her face reminded me of the idealized porcelain features, brilliantly coloured garments that I had studied at GOMA, Brisbanes Gallery of Modern Art.

The gazes of Radha and her Lord do not meet in modest adoration. It is a formulaic beauty found in Rajasthani and Pahari paintings.  The image probably would not fit reality in the in the exquisite finery detailed landscape.  Yet, the stories of Radha and Krisna, as well as the nayikas that idealised this love, stunned me.

At times shown in painting, at times in Ragas that sub classify for different styles and forms appropriate different seasons, times of day and emotions. Some musical forms were even personified as deities .

This image is portrayed in so many ways.

Consider Uddipan Vela, the moment when lamps are lit, the shennai resonates as we gather flowers to celebrate of love to begin.

Sensuous and yet spiritual bridging secular and sacred evocative heart throbbing love – heart rendering longing inhabiting courts and haveliis throbbing in pleasures and forests.

The artistic expression of romantic emotion, shringara rasa, is considered the king of emotions,  the rasa of unsurpassed majesty and grandeur. Its subtle nuances Resonate in musical ragas and raginis colours and seasons, and the foothills that have inspired millennia of nayika.

The nayika was the romantic heroine and sensual woman proud and self assured apply finishing touches of her appearance, to reconfirm her beauty, anticipation of meeting her beloved.

Can she see her beloved in the mirror? Radha longs for that special moment when with the light on her face two hearts would become one. The mirror holds their gaze together before she breaks into a sweet smile. Vibrating prukriti of trembling sensuality and the serene purusha of majestic spirituality.

She has unique individuality and a melting of surrender into wholeness of love. The surrender of bhakti

A realisation and delight of realisation of the true self, where purusha and prakriti, heaven and earth,  merge joyously into ananda, or bliss.

Hence, the nayika is the perfect embodiment of shringara rasa.

Let the earth of my body be mixed with the earth
my beloved walks on
let the fire of my body be the brightness
in the mirror that reflects her face
Let the breath of my body join the waters
of the lotus pond she bathes in .
Let the breath of my body be the air
lapping her tired limbs
Let me be the sky, and moving through me
that cloud dark, Kisnay, my beloved

It is as if the forests and streams of Vrindavana are the delights of paradise reflected by a cosmic mirror to the plains of the earth (Walter Spink, The Quest for Krishna, from ‘A celebration of love’ by Harsha V Dehelia).

 The dark gods flute in blossoming pastures – a gods youth of delight. It is also the area that suffers attacks by demonic forces. Mysterious attractiveness a divine beauty that is irresistible focus of the ardour of gopis – their teasing elusive insistent paramour . The flute that drinks of the nectar of Krishna’s lips. The rivers that the bamboo of his flute now blossom forth lotuses – tears of joy in the form of juice.

Krisna wanders through the dreams and passions of devotees: wandering forgetfully, with fickleness and despairs of love, the darkness of light, and the darkness and of despair of night.

In the most divine glaring of the sun, and in the most mundane, he is the god that must experience to return to wholeness.

Their dance of desire is a mandala of god and man. The body a temple of gladness, an altar of joy, swept by Radhas hair. The sprinkle of her pearl necklace an altar offering, her breasts waterjars, her curved hips plantain trees. The tinkling bells of her waist the young mango shoots, for the arts of love beautify her, outshining a thousand moons.

A quickening of love, a distraught search with the ardour of religious devotion a longing of body and spirit. Radha’s yearning that He place “with fingers cooler than sandalwood place a circlet of musk on this breast.”

As the mirror to my hand
the flowers to my hair
kohl to my eyes
tambul to my mouth
musk to my breast
necklace to my throat
ecstasy to my flesh
heart to my home
as wing to bird
water to fish
life to living
so you are to me.

Madhava, beloved,
who are you?
who are you really?
Vidyapati says they are one another

(Dimlock, Edward C. Jr., and Levertov, Denise (tr). In Praise of Krisna: Songs from th Bengali, New York, Archer Books, 1967.)

The story passes the ephemeral boundary of spiritual and secular. With Ineffable poignancy it has become the metaphoric ideal for a maidens love. Even men imagine themselves as women in love with their lord.

The gopi personifies the souls search for salvation were hungry for fulfilment of love and the insistent dark skinned Shyama was hungry too. The union of the individual partial manifest self joined to the universal in elusive fields and streams that fuel the human heart.

Here in the play of gopis and Krishna the Vaishnava’s is a mirror illusion a reflection f an eternal Vrndavan where Krishna forever dwells. The power of  prakrit, and purusha, are the same.

In searching for the other you search for yourself.

There is no Radha, there is no Krishna. There is only Radha-Krishna.

For You are the meaning of all prayer.


Uddipan Vela – as we light the lamps – Harsha V Dehelia

Walter Spink, The Quest for Krishna, from ‘A celebration of love’ by Harsha V Dehelia

(Dimlock, Edward C. Jr., and Levertov, Denise (tr). In Praise of Krisna: Songs from th Bengali, New York, Archer Books, 1967.)