Feb 01, 2023
Feb 01, 2023
What is true love? There are centuries old as also modern stories, supposedly true and fiction, setting the norms, morals, narratives and essence of true love. However, when we talk of love we cannot forget the iconic love of Krishna, reincarnation of God Vishnu and Radha or Radharani, considered as avatar of Lakshmi, His legendary consort. In Hindu mythology, the love between Krishna and Radha is considered as the most sublime, eternal and pure love. There are several legends from the religious texts Puranas "The Shrimad Bhagavatam" and "Sri Krishna's Lila" citing instances glorifying their divine love.
Krishna, a son of royal parents Devaki and king Vasudeva, was nourished, nurtured and grew up with his foster parents Yashoda and Nanda during his childhood in Gokul-Vrindavan near the modern day Mathura because of the threat to his life from his maternal uncle and tyrant Kansa. During the childhood, Krishna and Radha (a milkmaid) developed immutable mutual affection and love. As a grown up teenager, he had to return to Mathura to overthrow and kill Kansa to rescue His own parents and commom people harassed by the said tyrant. He had to move on with greater missions in life to establish a separate safe and secure kingdom at Dwarka for his clan and subsequently play central character in the epic Mahabharata war. According to the then prevailing practices in society, he married more than one women but could never deny or forget his first love, so much so that after millennia his followers and devotees identify Him more with Radha than his legally wedded consorts.
According to one legend, Krishna’s Chief Consort Rukmini was very envious due to frequent on and off references of Radha from Krishna’s own mouth. Many years after leaving Gokul-Vrindavan, Krishna happened to host the Vrajavasis who came to meet him at Kurukshetra. Radha was also among them. At night, when everyone withdrew to respective tents, Krishna asked Rukmini to arrange some milk for Radha who, he knew, used to take milk at night before retiring to bed. Rukmini did not like the idea but she decided to serve milk by herself because she wanted to test her too.
So she personally brought very hot milk to Radha and asked her to quickly finish it so that she could do back feeling relieved. Quite obviously, Rukmini was a queen and her wish was Radha’s command, so she immediately obeyed and drank it. As the milk was very hot, Radha got her throat burnt but she didn’t complain. When Rukmini came back, to her utter surprise she noticed that Krishna’s throat and body was sore and aching. On inquiry, Krishna explained that this nemesis was caused to his body by her act of forcing Radha to drink hot milk. With utter guilt, Rukmini realized and acknowledged then the purity and perfection of Radha’s love for Krishna.
According to another legend, once after dinner Rukmini gave a glass of milk to Krishna without a prior check. The milk was hot and on taking it Krishna instantly exclaimed with grief, “Radhe Radhe!” On this, Rukmini complained to Him what was there in Radha that he so much cared and loved Radha. While she too loved and cared for Him but He never called her name. At this, Krishna just smiled and asked Rukmini if she had ever met Radha. Next day Rukmini went to see Radha at her place. To her utter surprise, she found that beautiful Radha had painful blisters and sores on her entire body. It was revealed from further inquiry that it was the nemesis of Rukmini’s act of giving hot milk to Krishna in the previous night. The hot milk burnt Krishna’s heart, because Radha always lived in His heart, the same effect also passed on to her.
In yet another legend, once Muni Narada, famous for carrying mischiefs along, visited Krishna and Rukmini and she offered the best of fruits, nuts and milk to him. He, however, refused saying he was coming from Vrindavan and Radha’s hospitality has made him so belly-full that he can’t eat even a piece of grape. Rukmini was obviously not pleased with the reference of Radha. However, the conversation continued and Narada mentioned that everyone there was inquisitive about Krishna with the exception of Radha who was simply standing in a corner. With a glimpse on baffled Rukmini, Narada added when he asked Radha about her silence, she replied what to inquire about someone who was always with her.
Narada intently watched the changing colours on Rukmini’s face who now reacted angrily whether his visit was to taunt her by telling that Radha didn’t feel the absence of Krishna. Then she added that Radha was Krishna’s past and that is where the matter should rest; and she knew there can’t be a greater lover of Krishna now than her and the topic must end here. After a few days, Krishna fell ill and a celestial vaidya (disguised Narada) came to attend him. He declared that Krishna was suffering from a debilitating disease and the only cure was that He must drink the water remains of washed feet of someone who deeply loved and adored Him.
Rukmini was shocked, she indeed loved Krishna but couldn’t make Him to drink such water. She did love the lord, but she can’t make him to consume water which had washed her feet because it would be a sin. Other queens of Krishna too expressed the same dilemma. Then vaidya went to Radha and explained the problem to her; she without a second thought drew water in a pot pouring it on her feet and gave it to him saying no sin could be greater than the life of Krishna. Later vaidya revealed his identity as Narada and an embarassed Rukmini accepted that there was no greater lover of Krishna than Radha.
These stories while illustrating conflict of Rukmini and Radha end with a moral that two kinds of love exist in this world. The first one is that which occurs in the established relationships while the other is one beyond any defined relationship. Rukmini’s love is that of the worldly relationship of mortals who seek love in return for love. Such a love is also constrained and bound by the contemporary ethos and laws of the society made do’s and don’ts. On the other hand, Radha’s love is selfless, unconditional and immortal without expecting reciprocity. It is not within the boundaries of any social ethos, bonding or contract, therefore boundless, eternal and pure. This is where Radha’s love becomes great and excels over all others. True love does not bind but liberates and is beyond any age, space or time.
Jai Sri RadhaKrishna|
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