Akrura’s Longing for Shri Krishna
In the divine land Braj, the towns of Mathura and Vrindavan are located close to each other. Yet, for Akrura, it was the longest journey of his life. It is said that when one visits Vrindavan to see the Lord, he / she should have the same longing that Akrura once had. During the descension of Lord Krishna, he had waited for this day for the past twelve years.
From the very day Krishna was born, Akrura knew that his little nephew was none other than the Lord of the universe. If only Krishna had grown up in Mathura, the devoted uncle that he was, Akrura would have carried him around everywhere on his shoulders and never let him down. As such he had been a dutiful minister to Kamsa, but within his heart the yearning to see his Krishna grew by the minute. Without Krishna’s will, none can get even the tiniest glimpse of him but when he wills, even a tyrant like Kamsa facilitates one’s meeting with Krishna. Akrura was very well cognizant of Kamsa’s plan. He knew that he was being sent to Vrindavan only to drag Krishna into Kamsa’s wicked conspiracy but there was no doubt in his mind that everything was happening exactly as per Krishna’s plan.
As he set out in his chariot, he wondered how he would introduce himself to Krishna. Perhaps, he could introduce himself as an uncle and very befittingly hug Krishna. But that sounded quite absurd in his mind. How can there exist an uncle to the creator of the creator? Perhaps he could introduce himself as a devotee and simply fall at his lotus feet. But that sounded even more absurd. He knew Krishna was sarvagya, the ‘all-knowing’. Krishna was the one who created him and he was the one who gave him the good fortune of becoming a devotee. So in effect, it would be like introducing Krishna’s creation to Krishna and that just didn’t sound right!
While these questions whirled around in his mind, his eyes fell on several foot prints along the path. Some footprints had the marks of conch and discus in them and some didn’t. He immediately recognized them as the footprints of Krishna and his dear friends. He brought his chariot to a screeching halt. For Akrura, it was like seeing Krishna himself. He carefully got down so as to not muddle them and gently put his cheek against them. What penance had those cowherd boys done to walk next to him, with their hands on his shoulders? What penance did they do to have Krishna carry them on his back? Perhaps applying the dust of their feet on his head would give him some of their fortune! He smeared it all over his body! He knew that Krishna had the most special place in his heart for those boys. Now that the dust of their feet was all over his body, Akrura felt sure that he had entered Krishna’s heart! His feet became light as feather as he jumped up high in sheer bliss!
The next moment, his heart became heavy with love. He fell down low and burst into tears. Krishna’s foot prints caught him like a father’s arms. Like a baby, he curled himself and cried uncontrollably, kissing them to his heart’s content. He felt sure that Krishna would hold him in a soft embrace. His heart filled with anticipation. How was Krishna going to receive him? Would he be waiting at the door? Would Balaram be next to him? Would they recognize him? Would they take him inside their house? These questions not only made his head spin, but fueled his chariot as well! If it had traveled any faster, it would have raced past light, for it was taking him to see the light of his life, the apple of his eyes, his treasure trove, his darling Krishna!
Butter Thief of Vrindavan
It was that time of the day when the sun was finally getting ready to retire for the day, after serving Krishna and his cowherd friends. The horizon turned crimson and the air in Vrindavan was filled with the chirping sounds of birds, returning to their nests.
All the streets and houses were empty. Only one gopi did not leave her house that evening! She wondered why all the villagers madly rushed to the outskirts of Vrindavan every evening, to see some cowherd boy named Krishna returning home. She had heard her neighbors tirelessly describe the beauty of this boy, who charmed them with his sideways glances and left them frozen on their feet! It had just been a week, since she had moved to this village. She could not comprehend how the villagers could be so blissful in this place! She was already tired of coming home to broken pots with only traces of butter left.
She had a hunch, this was the doing of that Krishna. He was mesmerizing innocent villagers and stealing all their butter. Today, she was going to prove it! She was determined to catch this butter thief red-handed or more appropriately, white-handed! She had worked hard all day, alongside other gopis, to gather the most aromatic butter, with no other thought in her mind, but one, that the mischievous Krishna was going to come and steal it. Even without knowing what Karm yog was, she had been a Karm yogi of the highest order, that day!
She hid herself in the darkest corner of the house, in that twilight hour, contemplating on what she would do the moment the charmer arrives. With her eyes widened and her senses focused on the door, she waited with the concentration of a seasoned yogi! As the last few rays of the sun entering her little door and started dimming gradually, a strange bluish brightness began to engulf the house. The jingling sound of anklets broke the silence and united with her heartbeat. “What kind of careless thief doesn’t even bother to remove his anklets?”, she wondered.
As the jingling gradually became louder, the smell of sandal wood from his body, permeated the room and overpowered her. There he was, the blue complexioned Krishna, his feet trying to tip toe into the house! With one hand tucking his flute into his waist cloth, and the other hand signalling his companions to follow him, he intently looked around the house. The eye shaped spot on his peacock feather, seemed eager to serve his twinkling eyes, in the search for butter. The moment he spotted the pot of butter, a smile creeped on his ruby red lips, forming endearing dimples on his bluish cheeks! The dimples got even deeper, as his lips pursed and eyebrows frowned in contemplation of how to reach it! Her soul swam out of bhav saagar (ocean of sins) only to drown helplessly in those dimples!
He was indeed the Choura Agraganya (the leader of thieves), because not only did he steal the butter, but he also stole her heart and mind so effortlessly! She sat there in a trance, long after he left! Tomorrow she would tie the butter pot even higher, as that would make him stay there for longer!
My Friend Krishna
When Shree Krishna descended on the land of Braj more than five thousand years ago, he taught us how to love him and relate to him in many different ways. While Mother Yashoda and the elderly gopis loved him as their child, he was a dear Sakha (friend) to the young gopas (cowherd friends) of Braj. The hearts of the innocent cowherd boys always longed for his companionship! His Leelas as the playful Gopal of Braj are endearing to all his devotees.
The afternoons of Vrindavan were very pleasant, especially on the banks of river Yamuna. Every day, all the cowherd boys who had recently moved from Gokul, along with the apple of their eyes, Krishna would relax on the lush green grass. They relished the delicious lunch their mothers had packed for them with much love. The mild breeze on the bank of river Yamuna was eagerly waiting to play a game of tag with Krishna. As the boys ran after him and touched him from behind, the breeze touched him too. Kissing his soft blue cheeks and blowing through his curly hair, it scooped up the divine fragrance only to freely distribute it among the yearning boys!
It was one such beautiful afternoon as the boys laughed and played with Krishna, one young gopa watched them hesitantly from the shade of a distant tree. Ever since the day he was born in the land of Vrindavan, stories of Krishna and his wonderful pastimes would reach him from Gokul. The day when all the inhabitants of Gokul had arrived in Vrindavan was the best day of his life. Since that day, he had been watching Krishna play joyously with his friends, every afternoon. He longed to share their laughter. Would they include him in their play? After all, he was outsider while they had all grown up together.
He noticed that every time Krishna looked at or touched a gopa, they would bounce with inexplicable bliss. If only an opportunity to approach Krishna would appear before him, wouldn’t he grab it with both hands? “Please dear Krishna, can I be your friend too?”, every cell of his body pleaded! Sure, he may not have been as deserving of Krishna’s love as the rest of the boys, but that didn’t stop him from closing his eyes and visualize being embraced by that love!
All of a sudden, something struck him at the speed of lightning and fell on his lap. He opened his eyes! It was the ball the gopas had been playing with, the ball that had the smell of Krishna’s hands. Was it the seed of the divine bliss, that was going to sprout in his being very soon or was it the fruit of all his patient waiting, he couldn’t decide!
He looked up and a little further from him was the enchanter, Krishna. His beautiful face glimmering with a mischievous smile that stretched all the way to his ears. Soft blue Karnika flowers dangled joyfully from those ears in anticipation of touching those charming cheeks, as Krishna nodded his head and gestured with his lotus hands to join the play. He had always heard that the only qualification to receive Krishna’s love is to have a sincere longing to receive it. Today, he had witnessed the truth in that statement!
Just then, Krishna turned around and began to run, trotting cheerfully in-between. It was time to get up and catch the one, who refuses to go in the Samadhi of yogis, but made it so effortless for the innocent boys of Vrindavan, for he was their inseparable Sakha! It was time to create new memories, new Leelas, here in Vrindavan!
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