Neeraja was a gopi who came to Gokulam as the daughter-in-law to a Gopa family. She was beautiful and humble and loved the new place which had some special vibrations .Her husband and in-laws cautioned her about a dark skinned cowherd boy who was very mischievous and warned her to be away from his pranks. They threatened her to keep away from Him and to avoid Him by every possible means. Neeraja was confused. However ,she was very curious to see how he looked and what were those pranks which attracted so many gopis .Her mind was absorbed now .
One summer evening, near the outskirts of a village Neeraja was returning from the banks of Yamuna river immersed in the thoughts of the dark skinned boy. .
Suddenly , she heard some mellifluous music from a direction which almost pulled her She ran towards the direction from where the sweet melody was heard . She somehow reached those wonderful grooves in the forest .
Krishna the irresistibly attractive lotus eyed Preceptor of the Universe, bestower of boons, Eternal Lord, was playing the flute as the sun sank in the west. His small lovely fingers were over the flute and the cosmic music gushed out . She instantly fell for him and was watching from the grooves .
The vibration of this divine instrument was able to break the meditation of the greatest sages. Krishna the cosmic musician he was thus challenged the cupid with his transcendental music .Something divine happened . The birds flying above descended down , and one on the trees started chirping with joy . The peacocks assembled to dance with their gaiety steps .
The calves stopped sucking their mothers udders and remained like statues .The poisonous reptiles were humbled to the divine music . The bamboo trees nearby were shedding tears of joy because a little part of it which made up the tree was creating such a wonderful music.
The clouds passing over the land stopped moving and provided an umbrella to Krishna. Lakes and rivers overflew with water, expanding their banks hurriedly desirous of embracing Krishna’s lotus feet which mesmerized her with captivating celestial tune .
Krishna’s beloved cows stood in tranquilly with their ears spread just to catch the nectar-filled tune flowing out of his flute. Few cows and calves that were eating the grass, froze their actions in order not to let those munching sound disturb His divine music and thus get the fullest enjoyment.
Krishna knew the gopis would come and be with him in the moonlight dancing in eternity. Grace can only flow through Krishna’s flute, as there is nothing inside its body to prevent his will from coming through.
The gopis heard the celestial music and wondered how sweet it could be if they were able to sing and dance with Krishna in accordance with the music. The minds of the gopis , wandering in different directions, were now centred on the divine music that came from the flute of Krishna.
The mesmerizing music of the flute it was, each gopi simply left what household chores they were doing and rushed to the flow of music like bees encircling the honeycomb without looking back. Few gopis left the dishes still dirty butter un churned racing into the flow . Some even left mothers in mid conversation and few allowed the food to burn on the stove. The call of Krishna’s flute was eternal and they couldn’t resist . Lord is never without the flute , whether he is with his mother, on the grazing grounds with his herd of cows, among his cowherd companions or roaming around on the Yamuna banks. Even when He is not playing the flute , it is safely tucked in His waistband, never leaving Him..
The Gopis ran into the forest seeking that transcendental bliss, where Krishna stood with his flute. He was too handsome and each gopi felt he was looking right at them. They formed into a garland and began to dance around him, their ankle bells tinkling, their saris waving to the divine tune. He played his flute and the gopis danced eternally. Some waved their arms in the air, some spun in circles and some bent their knees and waist, swaying with the flute music.
The flowers decorating their neck and ears scenting the air and thus the gopis reached for their Lord of all Senses. As they reached for him he reached back, expanding himself to meet each gopi individually. Each gopi placed her hands on his shoulder and Krishna placed his hands on each gopi’s shoulder. They smiled at him and their eyes twinkled at him. He laughed out loud, delighted with their joy. They danced and danced, waving their wrists, stamping their feet and twirling in the moonlight.
The bells and bangles of the gopis and the stamping and clapping of hands and feet joined with the singing of Krishna to fill the night. Some gopis twirled their saris, spinning with Krishna. Others sang back and forth with him, or stepped lightly in time with beautiful Lord. Some clung tightly to him, crushing their flower garlands into his strong chest, while others barely touched him as they danced in time with the music. The singing and dancing, the twirling saris and intertwining arms was so beautiful that the moon paused in her track across the sky to watch the eternal joy .
Those gentle deers and sleepy birds watched from the edge of the forest with unknown joy while the dance continued . Krishna and the gopis danced on, each gopi embracing Krishna as if he was only for her. Each gopi completely satisfied with Krishna the Soul of the Universe’s touch and gaze.
The gopi’s faces and arms were dripped with sweat . Krisna wiped the droplets from their chubby cheeks. Garlands of flowers lay crushed on the ground as the gopis, one by one, dropped their arms in exhaustion. Krishna, still expanded to be with each gopi individually, led them to the banks of the Yamuna River and poured the cool water over their faces and hands.
The gopis splashed the water on him back playfully and their laughter filled the clearing. The gentle wind picked the scent of flowers from the garlands around the gopis neck and the blossoms in their hair and carried it up to the watching moon. Slowly, the moon sank and the sun began to rise and here the gopis rested in the embrace of Krisna, each gopi held tight, held lovingly, held personally by the endless compassionate Lord. Krishna the eternal friend he was expanded and held each gopi in his arms for each one to feel HE is there to just be with them.
Neeraja was watching all the fun , unmindful of the time that was passing .She was in a divine trance .She suddenly shook up and went back home love struck .Her husband and in laws disowned her and she was made an outcast , a harsh punishment . Neeraja felt it was a call to transcend the material bonds, to free oneself from the trammels of earthly endeavours. Neeraja did not care for any one now.
She became mad and yearned to meet Krishna .Her thoughts were always filled with HIS smile and the divine play .She was immersed in HIS love .Everything was Krishna now .Her breath was krishna . She was in overwhelmingly in an ecstatic state. It was Neeraja who was the first gopi to rush and hold the reins of Akrura’s chariot when he was taking Krishna to Mathura away from Gokulam as per Kamsa’s plan , and try to push the vehicle back.
Dejected she spent her life in the Vamsi Kunj, whole mind fixed on the Lord always whom she had dissolved in her heart . Years passed. She was getting old. One day she prayed desperately to Krishna …
My Lord!! I can no longer bear this forlorn life. My eyes have gone dry, they have no more tears to keep this love for you. My heart too is fast turning into a wasteland.
Please come and grace this craving soul !! My Lord, please come and save me, take me unto yourself. Her prayer was sincere and unconditional..
Krishna heard the prayer. He responded to her yearning and presented himself immediately before her .He called her by name, so sweetly that the very voice filled her with new life.
The Vamsi Kunj was now fragrant with divine glory.
Krishna came near her and took Neeraja’s palm in His hand and said
Neeraja my dear …. Tell me … “What do you desire?”
Neeraja was overjoyed. She looked at Krishna and said …
My Lord!! I wish you to play the flute once just for my sake.
Krishna smiled and gave the excuse that He had not brought His flute. But, looking at Neeraja’s yearning, he plucked a reed from a bamboo tree in Vamsi Kunj and broke it right and in a trice converted it into a flute. With Neeraja on his lap, Krishna played the flute melodiously by which the entire Gokula and even the whole world, was bathed in ecstatic joy.
When He stopped, Neeraja had attained final beatitude and was no longer a limited individual Gopi separate from Him.
Every Gopi’s story is nectarine , each in its own way, for they were all so transmuted by the unconditional bhakthi they bore towards the Lord. The Gopis were declared by sage Narada in the Bhakthi Suthras (aphorisms on devotion) to be the greatest among the bhakthas (devotees).
Satyabhama took pride on being Krishna’s most beloved but soon had to swallow it as she made a futile attempt to measure Krishna’s weight in gold. Rukmini proved her love to Lord by offering a sacred Tulsi leaf instead which caused the scales to promptly tip by the weight of her devotion to Krishna.
When Krishna was leaving Gokula to free his biological parents and Ugrasena by vanquishing the demon Kamsa, Radharani was awaiting for Krishna on the way. Krishna’s eyes dissolves in Radharanis eyes .He asks the driver to stop the cart. Akrura surprisingly asks, Oh Lord!! “Who is she?” Krishna responds, Akrura
“Everyone is drawn to me, but I am drawn to her!”
May our lives too celebrate their stay and…………
let’s fall at HIS holy feet our divine father always in thoughts and deeds ………….
Adapted from a lecture by a Santh at Vrindavan
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Pictures credits : Google images
Video credits : Krishna devotee