Monday, May 14, 2018

Chapter 13: Meeting Lord Krishna, Face to Face

Shri Balkrishna Das ji Maharaj Ardently Longs for Krishna

The first favour had been bestowed on Shri Maharajji when the siddh[1] Mahatama had appeared before him at Pawnan Sarowar and blessed him. Five years had passed since then. In fact, Shri Maharaj ji's state of anguish was escalating gradually. The last two of these five years had been spent in such a way that he did not see the rising and setting sun. He would get up at 3 o' clock, early in the morning and sitting in the cave, be engaged in bhajan; stepping out at seven in the evening for bhiksha. He was so engrossed in worshipping Lord Krishna that he never knew which month, which date, which day and which festival it was. Maharaj ji did not come into contact with people during this time span. It is simply not possible for this pen to describe the unfathomable pangs of separation he suffered during the last six months of this two year period. 

The Divine Jatani

The distress of separation reached its zenith after the cowherdess (jatani) had vanished. The tears streaming down his cheeks would never dry up, as he wept day in and day out. The daily routine of bathing and other chores had become disorderly and eating was just nominal. Sleep would perhaps come at times but very rarely. Ceaseless shedding of tears showered from his eyes like Sawan and Bhadon, the peak months of the rainy season. His body had turned very pale.

Saint Meerabai Yearns for Krishna

The following lines emanating from the heart of Chittor's Meera who was suffering from the pangs of separation, were clearly recurring again:

ankhiyan jal sukhat nahin kabhun, ur bich bahat panare,”

divas na bhukh neend nahin raina,

ankhiyan hari darshan ki pyasi,”

which mean:

“ Tears never dry up from the eyes, there is an overflowing stream in the heart.
“ Neither is there hunger in the day nor sleep at night. “

“My eyes are thirsty to behold Hari.”

 Sri Siksastakam

I am reminded of Love Incarnate Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's shloka described in the Siksatakam:[2]

'yugayitam nimeshen chakchusha-pravrishayitam  |
 shoonyayitam jagat sarvam, govind virhen mey  ||'

"My Beloved Krishna! A moment of separation seems like millions of years have passed without you. Tears from my eyes never stop for a moment. The whole world has become blank. There remains no charm for me. Oh, my Beloved Govind, Your separation has made me so."

This was precisely Maharaj ji's condition. Uddhava Kyari was the only place he visited ; from his retreat in the cave he would go to the Uddhava Kyari and walk back to the cave from the Kyari.

 The Uddhava Kyari

Shri Maharaj ji would spend most of his time in the Uddhava Kyari now.  He would count the string of tear beads not the string of basil beads with blue-hued Krishna being reflected in each tear drop. The night would be spent sitting on the platform of Uddhava Kyari. It is here that the parcel of Uddhava's knowledge had been swept away by the water of Braj cowherdesses' tears. It seemed Maharaj ji was bathing Uddhavaji in the river of his tears of love as he sat on the same platform. Lovingly embracing the grove's kadamba trees he had watered them with lovelorn tears, several times. The 'unmanifest' One was Himself impatient to appear in that quiet desolate kadamba forest and those pitch dark nights but what was that Youth waiting for, He alone knows. 

A Kadamba Tree

The dark witnesses, the trees of the kadamba grove were the ones who had listened to the dialogue between Uddhava and the gopis.  They too had shed tears in the agony of the gopikas' separation from Krishna. The trees would surely have narrated the tale of Maharaj ji’s anguish to Krishna, the Supreme Lover. To assume that dark-hued Krishna would still not be pleased with Maharaj ji who had constantly enthroned Supreme Lover Krishna in his heart for the past six months is beyond imagination.

 It is beyond narration to talk of the three grand nights when beloved Krishna came as a cowherd boy to accept Maharajji's worship. Dark-hued Krishna was in the process of giving which boon on being pleased by Maharaj ji’s great adulation is difficult to say. Only these two or the kadamba trees in the Uddhava Kyari could have known of this matter.

However, we can certainly arrive at a conclusion from the following episode:

The Moonlit Night

'It was the first night of the three great nights which have already been referred to. Moonbeams were filtering in through the thick leaves of kadamba trees on that moonlit midnight in Uddhava Kyari. Only the heart-rending sobbing of a lovelorn heart was audible in that night of pin drop silence. Kneeling down with one knee of his on the floor of Uddhava's platform, resting his left cheek on the palm of his left arm which rested on the standing knee, Maharajji was engrossed in propitiating the beloved Ruler of his life or in other words he was offering preciously strung tear pearls to his Supreme Lover.

Krishna, the Cowherd

At that very moment, a cowherd boy arrived amidst the two kadamba trees which stood in front of Maharajji from God knows where, and could be seen roaming about, gently stepping here and there. The eyes of lovelorn Maharaj ji saw Him but his discerning power had vanished because of being steeped in the infinite ocean of anguish. The sweet form of Krishna dressed in yellow garments, adorned with a peacock tail's eye-shaped moonlike feather, matching the charm of millions of Kamdevs, bright sapphire-hued Krishna had pervaded Maharajji's heart and every fibre of his being as well as all his senses. Though he was suffering the anguish of separation, Maharajji was steeped in the joy of blissful union with Krishna. There was no place for any other form in his heart or eyes.

Sri Padyavali by Srila Rupa Goswami

Srila Rupa Gosvami quotes in his Padyavali:

' sangama viraha vikalpe varam iha viraho na sangamas tasyah |
ek ek sange virahe tanmayam jagat  || '

'When I consider the difference between union and separation, I think that separation is better,' says Shri Radhika.

In the state of complete absorption a loving devotee feels no distinction between separation and union as they are both in perfect harmony with each other.

Where was the time to think of why that beautiful cowherd boy had come to that lonely desolate place at midnight? The young cowherd was roaming about freely. It is quite possible that He would stealthily gaze at the one He was looking for with a sidelong glance. He could be seen pacing up and down on seeing the plight of his devotee suffering pangs of separation but it was difficult to ascertain whether this was true.

A Cowherd Taking Cows for Grazing

Plunging into the infinite ocean of agony Maharaj ji’s entire night passed by. He did not even know when the cowherd boy had left. On hearing the bustle of cowherds taking cows for grazing, he regained a bit of external consciousness in the morning. Getting up, Shri Balkrishna Das ji Maharaj staggered towards the cave.

That day dragged by somehow or the other. Maharajji came to the Uddhava Kyari by the time it was evening. Hysterical weeping started once more in that state. He had no inkling of when the evening passed by and how far the night had gone.

 Cowherd Krishna

It was the hour of midnight and the same boy in the guise of a cowherd began strolling between the two kadamba trees. Maharajji's gaze fell on the young boy but he was devoid of any thought. The whole night passed by once again without awareness of the boy's departure. The bustle of cowherds woke Maharaj ji next morning and he trudged back to his retreat in the cave. Today also passed by somehow and the third night dawned. Maharajji was sitting at the seat of Uddhava Kyari and stringing tears. 

Krishna, the Supreme Cowherd Boy

The cowherd boy was seen strolling between the two kadamba trees with a leisurely gait on this moonlit midnight, as he had done on the previous two nights. Today also Maharajji saw Him but he was lost in the realm of the anguish of separation.

Ineffably Beautiful Adolescent Krishna 

All of a sudden, a radiant blue lustre flashed beneath those two kadamba trees. The novel shape of an adolescent youth, loaded with the charm of millions of Kamdevs, an ineffably beautiful form churning millions of hearts in the three bhuvanas, manifested instead of that cowherd boy. The marvellous charm of dark-hued Krishna's refulgence was dazzling on all sides with a blue lustre. Tender compassion was flowing in a perpetual stream from His sharp reddish eyes. Through tear strung eyes Shri Maharajji saw the sea of splendour which stood in front of him, intently gazing at the ripe fruit of his unbroken, continuous and profound anguish. 

Dark-hued Krishna's Lotus Feet

His heart leaped and Maharajji's hands clasped the lotus feet of the Lord with lightning speed, clinging tightly to those lotus-tender, soft, sacred cool feet. Washing the holy feet of the Supreme Lover with his never ending tears till date, Maharajji felt thoroughly blessed. His sadhana had got its desired fulfillment. Krishna, the Supreme Lover was pleased and His pair of arms were eagerly desirous and excited to embrace someone who was 'His very own’.

Supreme Lover Krishna Lifts Maharaj ji

Both His huge arms bent downwards to lift Shri Maharajji, embracing him, dark-hued Krishna bound him in a tight hug. The water of affection and peace giving coolness was bestowed from Krishna's wide chest which was adorned with the kaustabh mani[3]. It can't be said for how long this passionate embrace persisted.'

 Supreme Lover Krishna Passionately Embraces His Sakhi 

 This is an external description depicted by the author but Shri Maharajji's internal state was totally different. According to Maharajji's statement he was always forgetful about his natural svarupa[4]. In fact, the instant Lord Krishna appeared, he found himself in the form of a sakhi[5]. It would be correct to say that a beloved sakhi was clinging to the tender, sacred, cool, lotus feet of the Supreme Lover. Finding her after a long separation, the Supreme Lover had lifted her with both His arms and bound her in a passionate embrace. Both of them were speechless in their blissful union.

 Dark-hued Krishna Decked with the Vanamala

The adornment of Lord Krishna was striking. Bursting through His yellow silk garments, rows of blue rays were flashing forth. A garland of forest flowers extending to the knees, was swinging on His uncovered chest. Nature  was illumined by the lustre of His body. The vanamala was braided with picturesque, multi-coloured, fragrant flowers. Kissing the cheeks, deep black curly locks of glossy hair were waving on both His shoulders. There was no mukut[6]  but He was wearing a beautiful braid of flowers on the head. His lotus hands were holding the flute. Both the wrists were decorated with beautiful flower bracelets. Likewise, the arms were adorned with flower ornaments. Gold anklets were twinkling on His feet. 

A moment later the lips of Supreme Lover Krishna, trembled. Tinged with a slight smile, a sweet speech emerged from an ecstatic throat, showering nectar,I will come again.

Dark-hued Krishna in a Romantic Dalliance with Shri Radha

 Lord Krishna instantly vanished with this sentence. One can’t say for how long Shri Maharajji remained unconscious, lost in the realm of bhavas or love flowing towards the Lord. In this state of religious rapture, he came to know that Lord Krishna was romantically dallying with Shri Radha Rani in Barsana. On seeing the highly agonized state of Shri Maharajji, He had come for a few moments in the midst of a dalliance.

That is why after assuring,I will come again,” dark-hued Krishna had gone back immediately and joined the romantic dalliance with Radha Rani. The floral embellishments which were adorning His body had been put up by Shri Kishoriji with Her own hands.

After a while Shri Maharajji became conscious of the external world. He was overwhelmed by the hang-over of this religious ecstasy. Assuming the svarupa  of an eternal gopi he had had a blissful union with the Supreme Lover. This eternal spiritual identity became perpetually established and he did not remember his natural physical identity which was lost for ever. 

Maharajji got busy in serving the Divine with the sakhi bhava [7]. Daily he would pluck beautiful fragrant flowers from the blossoming creeper thickets of Shri Van and make lovely garlands out of them.  

A Sakhi Taking the Garland to Krishna

A sakhi came to him every day, took the garland and made Lord Krishna wear it. This is a matter of the divine spiritual realm and it does not have the slightest connection with the natural body or mundane world. This state of bhava continued for several days.

A change could be seen in Shri Maharaji's bhava after some time. In this state of spiritual consciousness Maharajji felt as if Lord Krishna was sulking but he could not know its cause. Moreover, Maharajji had come to Goverdhan from Nandgaon in this very mood. There was a change in his state after a few days. He felt that Lord Krishna, the Supreme Lover, was very pleased and had awarded him the topmost position amongst the circle of sakhis. In his forever realized sakhi svarupa, Maharajji would fervently carry a fine bordered silk kachani, a comb and a cute little mirror in a gold plate for the Supreme Lover. Maharaj ji would put the cloth around His loins with his own hands, comb His curly locks with the comb, and dressing up Shyam Sunder beautifully, show the mirror to Him. This sequence of sweet service went on for several days. Steeped in the ocean of bhavas, his beauty beholden heart continued to dress Lord Krishna in the best of finery:

 Decking Krishna with Flowers

' gopi-swarupamadhigamya chidatmakam tam
malyan vidhaya tulsi-dal mallikabhih  |
adhaya bhushann dukulasukachh pattan,
krishnapriya priyamupaiti lata-nikunje  ||
nirmaaya divya-kusumairmannibandh mauli-
keyur-bandh-kati-pad vibhushnnani  |
nnadhaya yati rasika paricharika sa  || '
which means:

 'The beloved of Krishna in her pure contemplative consciousness makes garlands of holy basil leaves and 'mallika'(jasmine like) flowers and also takes decorative articles like a shawl covering the shoulders, the lion cloth etc; and approaches Him under the cluster of creepers.

'The beauty relishing sakh of Lord Krishna is proceeding towards Him after making ornaments of various divine flowers for His head, arms, waist and feet; taking betel leaf, mirror, comb, aromatic unguents and cosmetics for Him.'

After a face to face meeting with Krishna, the Supreme Lover, in Uddhava Kyari, a period of six months was spent mainly in these three states of bhavadashas Relishing the eternal romantic dalliance of Lord Krishna in his nitya svarupa had become Maharajji's exclusive life now. His connection with inertness of the material world had completely snapped. The existence of his natural body was solely dependent on divine inspiration and command. Maharajji was now fully immersed in the divine realm of lilas with his eternal identity.
Madhur Rasa of Gopi Svarupa

 What more can be said other than hailing the triumph of this great soul who was overwhelmed with the madhur rasa of a gopi svarupa:

' jayatu jayatu kunje kant-shringar lagna ,
jayatu jayatu mugdha krishnaleela-nimagna  |
jayatu jayatu kanta-kaumudee-rashmi dhara,
jayatu jayatu gopi prem-piyush-sara  | '

'Applausive hail to the one engrossed in decking the dear Lord,
Applausive hail to the one enchanted with the divine play of Krishna.
Applausive hail to the flow of moonbeams cascading from the beloved,
Applausive hail to the gopi as an essence of the nectar of love.'

Shri Balkrishna Das ji Maharaj Always Wore a Black Blanket

Shri Maharajji started roaming about freely on this earth now.God had to get some work done for the well-being of mankind from him. He resided for some time in Goverdhan and kept wandering in the Braj region during that time span. His mode of living was the same as before; a small loin-cloth, a sheet and a small black blanket on top of it. He had been constantly covering himself with the black blanket for twelve years, in almost all the seasons. Maharajji never sat before anybody with his bare body. He did not even have a utensil during this period of journeying.

Parikrama Marg, Goverdhan

Shri Maharajji had once come to Mathura. One fine day he was struck by a whim to go to Goverdhan at midnight. He got up and set out just as he was for Goverdhan. It was the summer season. He reached Goverdhan on foot, did the fourteen mile circumambulation and started back for Mathura. He had barely come halfway when two saints who were former acquaintances met him. On their insistence he went back to Goverdhan, did the circumambulation again with them, and came to Mathura on foot. This was a feat beyond human power. Maharajji did not feel any sort of exhaustion and had the same beaming face apparently. Such things did not affect his heart because of divine fervour. Some unknown energy would make him undertake such strenuous acts. 

A Blooming Blue Lotus

Seeing the unique, lustrous face of Maharjji blooming like a blue lotus no one could guess that his body was so lean and thin. Every bone of his could be counted from top to toe. His eyes were bright, sentimental and forever reddish in colour.

Once Shri Hari Baba had said during a satsang in Udiya Baba's ashram that the one whose face is blossoming and radiant like a lotus in spite of eating plain insipid food and having a very frail body, is a true saint and sadhaka[8]. Maharajji had never seen ghi or milk during the period when he lived as an ascetic.

 Shri Govind Dev ji Mandir, Vrindavan

During his sojourn of Braj, Shri Maharajji would often come to Vrindavan and stay here for several days. Daily he would have darshan of Shri Bihariji and see the Rasa Lila without fail. He begged for a little bhiksha from any kshetra , rested at either the Shri Harivanshiji Mandir or Shri Govind Devji Mandir, the Cheer Ghat, Keshi Ghat, Dawanal Kund and so on. In summers, the banks of the Yamuna would usually be the place where he took rest. In joyous abandon Maharajji would wander about freely but secretly in Vrindavan; without any acquaintanceship  with anyone. People would naturally be attracted to him on seeing his blissful joy, asceticism and beaming face. The locks of hair swaying on his shoulders were charming even on not being oiled. Several people were infatuated by his delightful locks and pleasing gait but he always tried to avoid public contact.

 After the darshan of Shri Bihariji if Maharajji sometimes sat on the temple's platform and a crowd would gather there itself. Some would prostrate before him, others would offer sweets to him and yet others would stand next to him and keep adulating him. Some people would request him to visit their homes. He tried to put them off as far as possible. When Shriji saw someone insisting strongly he would go to his house for a while. Eating a bit of food and after a short spiritual discourse he would take leave. Though he would take what was lovingly given to him Maharajji would quickly distribute those things or give them to someone needy as soon as that person left.

 Shri Banke Bihari ji

 After the darshan of Shri Bihariji if Maharajji sometimes sat on the temple's platform and a crowd would gather there itself. Some would prostrate before him, others would offer sweets to him and yet others would stand next to him and keep adulating him. Some people would request him to visit their homes. He tried to put them off as far as possible. When Shriji saw someone insisting strongly he would go to his house for a while. Eating a bit of food and after a short spiritual discourse he would take leave. Though he would take what was lovingly given to him Maharajji would quickly distribute those things or give them to someone needy as soon as that person left.

[1]    Siddh: perfected and sanctified by penance
[2]    Shikchastak: eight verses revealed by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, which explain the science of devotion
[3]    Mani: gem
[4] Svarupa eternal spiritual identity
[5]    Sakhi:
[6]    Mukut: crown
[7]    Sakhi bhava: of sweet total commitment, love and service to Krishna
[8]    Sadhaka: spiritual aspirant

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