Sunday, September 4, 2016

Dichotomy of Krishna’s love

Last week I had a pleasure of watching a colorful, artistic, surreal, opera-like musical play  - The Rajput Princess. It was a story of the divine love between Meera - the princess and Lord Krishna. Although, artists were amateur dancers and singers who weaved a magic around us for a couple hours. The play made a deep impression on my mind.

The play refreshed the story of Meera-Krishna in my mind. While attending a wedding ceremony curious young meera asks her mother who her husband was. Her mother points to a temple of Lord Krishna and says he is your husband. Meera assumes this as truth and grows up thinking about Krishna and hearing his stories all the time. Astonishingly, without seeing Krishna in person, Meera falls in love with him and declares to her husband on the wedding day that her heart belongs to Krishna. The large-hearted husband builds a Krishna temple for her and accepts her love as a part of their life. However, his father and brother can not accept seeing Meera in love with Krishna. Meera’s husband gets killed in a war. The jealous father and brother ask Meera to leave the palace. Meera has to spend the rest of her life as a simpleton going through all the worldly hardships but her love for Krishna sees her through. Her mystical, heavenly love makes sure she remains happy despite worldly miseries.

This play reminded me all the stories of Hindu Gods I grew up with. Out of all Gods, Krishna is the most interesting. Everything about him is unconventional. He is mischievous, political, bends rules, in short he does everything that other Gods don’t. Above all, Krishna stands out as the most woman-friendly God. Krishna is a woman-magnet. Ever since his adolescence, woman got attracted to him. Radha who was a married woman fell in love with him. So did many other gopis in Gokul where he grew up. In raas-leela, a festival in which all women come and do a folk dance, every single gopi felt that she is dancing with Krishna. Fascinating isn’t it? As a king Krishna had many wives and yet he was a subject of romance for many other women.

When I wear my analytical hat, I find these stories absolutely amazing. Krishna seemed to have a magical effect on women who would confess about their love despite their marital status. Considering conservative Indian societies, this was unheard off. But their love was so powerful that woman were ready to break the conventions. Another puzzling thing about Krishna’s women was they all knew the existence of other women in his life but they didn’t seem to mind. All gopis in Gokul knew others loved him and he loved Radha the most. But that didn’t deter them from liking and loving him. They were never jealous with each other. They were in love with him together.

The reason why this play had deep impact on me is, it highlighted the flip-side of Krishna’s love. Most women who loved Krishna had to pay a price for it. Some of them like Meera, drew societal wrath. They were publicly shamed, often isolated. More they loved Krishna, more difficulties they had to face. Krishna’s love gave them mental strength but worldly hardships. Some others like Radha, loved him dearly, may have fancied their chances of being with him forever. But never came close to being there. More they try to hold on to it, more it slipped out of hand. And there were many gopis who loved him unconditionally, despite knowing that they have no real chance of getting him. Yet, they could not stop.

Loving Krishna meant an extreme sacrifices for his women. That’s the dichotomy of Krishna’s love.