Radha is being bathed in the morning. All the sakhis and manjaris are around her, doing their different seva. Someone is oiling her hair. Others are massaging different creams into her skin and so on.
Lalita comes and tells Radha that Chitra had a very strange dream. And she starts to recount it to Radharani.
In the dream Chitra has suddenly found herself somewhere by the Yamuna, but she does not know where. She is all alone and is looking for Shyamasundar.
She starts to go a little mad and starts asking the elements to help her find him. One by one, she asks the air, the ether, water, earth and fire to help, since she thinks they are all-pervading and will know where he is. And so she asks the air, but there is no answer.
Then after she has gone through all the elements, and is feeling hopeless because she still hasn't seen Shyam, she suddenly sees five effulgent devatas standing by the river.
She asks them who they are and they are the respective gods of the elements. They say that they have heard her call and come to her for her darshan.
So Chitra says, "Never mind that, where is Shyamasundar? "
And they say, "We don't know. We do not have the power to see him."
Chitra: "Well that is a fine help!"
"If you give us the dust of your feet, we will smear it on our eyes and then maybe we can find him for you."
"How is that? I can't find him and somehow my dust is going to help you find him? Doesn't make sense."
But they take the dust anyway and smear it over their eyes and a few minutes later they come back and say, "He is just now coming."
So Shyamasundar shows up and Chitra says, "Where the heck have you been? What's the deal, leaving me all alone here by my lonesome? "
So Krishna says, "I was at the temple of Tripura Sundari."
So after some cajoling Krishna finally starts to tell her.
“Yesterday, I was watching as you all dressed Radha and I began to think. Radha's body is so soft and delicate that even the weight of the flower garland bruises her skin. The sharp corners of her sari scratch her and irritate her when she is so tender. The jewels are also heavy and unpleasant, what to speak of all the unguents and mascara that must be such an annoyance.
“I know she does all this for me, just to give me pleasure, but it is not really necessary. In fact, these clothes and makeup and jewelry are only fulfilling their own existence by being placed on her body. She does not really need them to make herself more beautiful for me.
“If I were to tell her to stop putting anything on, I know she will do it just because I ask. But then, if she starts going around naked, people will think she is completely crazy! They will lock her away inside the house and then she will really be in trouble. She will go sick from separation and die very soon.
“I fell into a quandary wondering, what can I do? So I went to Devi's temple and began to pray.
“Tripura Sundari kindly appeared to me and said, ‘What is the trouble Shyam?’
“So I asked her, ‘Bhagavati, what is the softest thing in the world?’
“And Bhagavati said, smiling, ‘Why Shyam, there is nothing more soft or delicate in the entire universe than you and Radha!’”
So Krishna started thinking, “Aha! If I could enter into all the things that Radha puts on, if I become her mascara, if I become her blouse, her sari, the alta on her feet, then all those things will become soft and more bearable for her, and they will cease to cause her any suffering.”
Interlude: This reminds me of some verses in Dana-keli-kaumudi:
Your body is soft and golden as ghee,
so why are you carrying the heavy jug of ghee?
Your head is meant to carry nothing heavier than
a locket of jasmine flowers— and even that would give you pain.
So please be kind and let me carry it for you.
Radha: It’s not the weight of the jug that is slowing me down. Look at all these jewels I am wearing. I told Lalita not to put them on me, but she wouldn’t listen to me.
Visakha: Sakhi Radhe! Stand still for a second. I will help take some of this excessive jewelry off. (Starts doing so.)
trapate vilokya padmā
lalite rādhāṁ vināpy alaṅkāram |
tad alaṁ maṇimaya-maṇḍana-
The lotus flowers are still mocked by Radha’s natural beauty,
even when she is not bedecked with jewels and finery.
So you are right, all this effort
to dress and decorate her are a waste of time. (22)
This is the inner beauty called rupa that does not require external decorations:
aṅgāny abhūṣitāny eva kenacid bhūṣaṇādinā |
yena bhūṣitavad bhāti tad rūpam iti kathyate ||
Rüpa is defined as “that quality by which a young damsel appears to be fully bedecked with all varieties of ornaments when in fact she is not.” (UN 10.25)
This is also a good meditation for ladies who are addicted to shopping for cosmetics and designer clothing and shoes. Your beauty, dear ladies, as a spark of Radharani, is the glow inside, not the cosmetics and fantasy jewellery outside.
Krishna's prayer to Devi is very long. He asks to become the ground on which Radha walks, to soften it for her and so on. Everything that is hard or rough or sharp, he wants to soften for her. It is Krishna’s version of the tat te sujata verse:
yat te sujāta-caraṇāmbu-ruhaṁ staneṣu
bhītāḥ śanaiḥ priya dadhīmahi karkaśeṣu
tenāṭavīm aṭasi tad vyathate na kiṁ svit
kūrpādibhir bhramati dhīr bhavad-āyuṣāṁ naḥ
O dearly beloved! Your lotus feet are so soft that we, whose lives rests only in you, fear they will be hurt when we place them gently on our breasts, so we do it so carefully. Our minds, therefore, are filled with anxiety that these tender feet might be wounded by pebbles as you roam about on the forest path. (10.31.19)
When we timorously place your noble lotus feet on our breasts, which we fear are so rough, we think, “Have these feet not suffered enough from the sharp stones on the forest pathways?” And these thoughts make us dizzy because we have given our lives over to you completely (10.31.19).
There is another old verse in Padyavali, where Radha in separation says, "OK I am going to die. No problem. If that is what God wants, that I should die in separation from Krishna, so be it. But I do ask that he grant me the following:
pañcatvaṁ tanur etu bhūta-nivahāu svāṁśe viśantu sphuṭaṁ
dhātāraṁ praṇipatya hanta śirasā tatrāpi yāce varam |
tad-vāpīṣu payas tadīya-mukure jyotis tadīyāṅgana-
vyomni vyoma tadīya-vartmani dharā tat-tāla-vṛnte’nilaḥ ||
O Master of my Destiny, I fall down and place my head at your feet,
praying to you to give me this benediction:
Let this body die and all its elements be mixed with the cosmic elements;
let the water of my body mix with the lake where Krishna bathes,
its light enter his mirror, to serve him when he beholds his reflection,
its ether merge with his courtyard, to surround him when he walks, talks or yawns,
may the earth in my body enter the ground upon which he walks
and the life air itself enter the palm-leaf fan used to relieve him from the heat.
So, Krishna is somewhat similarly praying to Devi for the power to enter all those things, so that the moment anything rough or hard or sharp touches her, he will soften the touch for her. So it is like a meditation. He is doing a sadhana of yoga meditation to be there IN the thing when it is going on her body.
Chitra is interrupted by Lalita’s arrival and so is silent for a moment. Radha is curious about the rest of the story, and pressures her, "Well, what happened then? "
Krishna said to the goddess, "You told me that I was the softest thing, so now you have to give me this power to enter all the hard things so there is no disturbance for Radha."
In the dream, Chitra is also saying, "Well, what did Devi say to that?"
So Krishna tells Chitra, "Well, she said 'so be it'"
Chitra, "Really, did she? You're not just joking? "
"No seriously. She has given me this power.”
So Chitra says, "Shyam, dear one! I know that you love all of us sakhis along with Radha. So will you please from time to time become our ornaments and clothes as well? We know that your heart is very soft and so you would do this for us.
“But, more importantly, when you do so, will you give us a sign, especially when we are dressing Radha, so that we treat these ornaments and so on with extra care so as not to hurt you? We are always tossing these things around and dropping them. If you are present there then, surely you will suffer. And of course if we are giving you pain in any way, that will be disastrous for all of us."
Krishna just stares at Chitra, which makes her laugh nervously.
“What are you looking at? Listen, I was going crazy just a minute ago because I did not see you. And now you are staring at me like that?”
And she tells him the story of the five gods and concludes by asking Shyam, "Where are we anyway? What is this place? And where is Radha. And how did you know I was here anyhow?”
Krishna just hugs Chitra and at that very moment she wakes up in amazement.
Now Radha reacts to the dream. She starts looking this way and that. She forgets that Chitra has been talking about a dream and thinks it is reality. She thinks, "Shyam loves me so much that he wants to be the ornaments on my body!"
She immediately thinks Krishna is in her things. She starts seeing Krishna in everything, in every atom.
At this point, the preparations for the bath are complete and now they are going to bathe Radha. Then Radha is completely in trance while they bathe her. Lalita brings her back to awareness by telling her that Dhanishtha has come and she has to go cook at Yashoda's house.
Meanwhile, Krishna is over by the kitchen, hiding and watching.
This is just the rough retelling of a story from a Hindi book calle Kripa Kunj by Radha Baba.
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