I rarely write on religious matters but one of my favorite Hindu festivals happens to be Krsna Janmashtmi and I was lucky to spend it second consecutive time with my parents. My father is a great orator on Hindu philosophy and anecdotes (as was my grandfather). He shared some amazing stories and philosophies with whole family after Krishna pooja at night as he always does. I don’t think many youths have heard these, so I thought I would share few of them here.
The conversation started with great bhajans on Krishna written by Surdas and Meera ji. As it happens, it is believed these saints used to talk to Lord Krishna in person. Surdas ji was blind but of course you dont need physical eyes to witness God’s presence and even those with perfect eyesights don’t experience Lord as he did. Another great saint of the same era was Goswami Tulsidas who penned Ramcharitmanas (which I have read once). And this was the time period when Akbar ruled India. Incidentally, he was so impressed by the poetic works of these great saints that he tried hard to get them associated with his empire. He once visited Meera Bai accompanied by Tansen to hear her bhajans in person. Similarly, he offered the title of mansabdar to Tulsidas ji to lure him to work in his regime. To this offer, Tulsidas replied-
hum chakar raghubir ke pado likho darbar
tulsi ab kya hoyenge nar ke mansabdar
I serve the Lord Ram himself whose kingdom is huge. Why would Tulsi, then, work for a mere human?
Another anecdote that I loved is when Tulsidas visited a Krishna temple. Being a follower of Ram (who is another incarnation of Lord Vishnu as is Lord Krishna and identified with his image of carrying a bow and arrow), Tulsidas said before entering the temple-
Kaah kahaun chhabi aajuki bhale ho naath
Tulsi mastak tab navaii dharo dhanush shar haath
O Lord, how shall I describe today’s splendour, for you appear auspicious. Tulsidas will bow down his head ‘only’ when you take the bow and the arrow in your hands.
And hail the power of such a devotee – it is said that when Tulsi looked again, there was the idol of Lord indeed with bow and arrow in hands.
Last one goes back to Meera Bai as to how and why she wrote her one and only couplet on Lord Ram (as opposed to her ‘aaradhya’ Krishna) -
Paayo ji maine ram ratan dhan paayo
When she was constantly tormented by her in-laws for her devotion, she messaged Swami Tulsidas asking what should she do as she can’t abandon her love for her Lord and it was becoming difficult to continue her devotions at her palace. Tulsidasji sent a reply: “Abandon those who cannot understand you and who do not worship Rama or Syama, even though they are your dearest relatives. Prahlada abandoned his father; Vibhishana left his brother Ravana; Bharata deserted his stepmother; Bali forsook even his Guru; the Gopasthrees, the women of Vraja, disowned their husbands to get to their Krishna. Their lives were all the happier for having done so. The relation with God and the love of God are the only elements that are true and eternal; all other relationships are unreal and temporary” This particular reply was perceived by her as the key to finding her peace and that’s when she composed the poem that she has attained the wealth of gem of Lord Ram’s grace.
Myth, legend or fiction – call what you may like, some of these anecdotes make you uncannily peaceful and I love hearing them from my Dad Lastly, these are reproduced from memory and some details may have been miscommunicated in writing.
Happy Krishna Janmashtmi!