At tender age of about five, the little girls of Vraj decided to perform the
"Katyayani Vrat", in order to obtain the ideal husband. Each one of us has a
different definition of what is ideal. Some consider wealth to be ideal, others see
position, power, status, intellect and even good looks to be ideal. The young girls of
Vraj saw all of these desirable qualities in Krshna and hence wanted to marry him. They
feverently prayed to the goddess Katyayani so they might one day marry Nanda-Lal.
The young girls/ gopies fasted during the Vrat and worshipped
goddess Katyayani, maiden form of Parvati, on the banks of the river Yamuna. In
celebration of the goddess's festival, the gopies wore their best clothes and jewellery
and sang sholaks in praise of the goddess. On the final day of the Vrat, the gopies
decided to take a leisurely swim in the refreshing waters of Kalindi. Not wishing to get
their best clothes wet, they left them on the deserted river bank and playfully threw
water on each other.
Krshna saw in to their hearts and saw the pure souls of the gopies to be slightly
tinged with feelings of "dvaita", duality. Gopies saw Krshna and themselves as
separate entities, male and female counterparts. Unity with God can only come when we feel
total love for God, when love conquers such basic instincts as me and you. Complete
abandonment of all earthly emotions is essential for complete merger/ union with the Lord.
As clothes cover the body, desires cover the soul. Drowning in a sea of desires and
feelings, the self-illuminating and illustrious soul can not shine through our layers of
emotions. The Universal Spirit and the Soul are one and the same. Yet, our various
complexes - inferiority, guilty, superiority etc. - separate us from the Universal Spirit
which is unfettered by such feelings. "It" is without doubt, shame, bravado or
pretences. Universal Spirit is satisfied and at peace with itself. "It" seeks no
competition and is therefore undefeatable. "It" does not covet power and is
hence all powerful. "It" seeks no complication and is therefore simplicity
itself. One can only "strive" when one is unfulfilled or has yet to achieve the
desired goal. "God" is, by definition, someone who has achieved everything, one
who is complete and therefore brimming with happiness.
In the Chir-haran-lila, Lord Krshna confiscates the external layers which camouflage
the soul. Our various desires keep the soul bound to the physical realm. To cut these
bonds and free the divine soul, Krupanidhan came to remove the last vestiges of duality
from the very subconscious of the gopies. The soul is neither male or female. It is
neither great or small. It is sinless and pure. It is all knowing and eternally free.
Temporarily it is bound in the body by illusion and self imposed ignorance. Lord came only
to remove these illusions and remind the soul that it is above it all. In all his Lilas,
Krshna has attempted to awaken the soul and let it realise its destiny.
Lifetime of austerities and meditation is sometimes insufficient to cleanse the soul
completely. Often the faintest traces of love, hate, joy, grief, desire and disgust remain
as part of our instincts. While meditating, the external world (samsara) does not affect a
person but the internal world does. All our attachments, feelings and emotions are from
within. We project them on to the outside world, but in truth they are only reflections of
our internal world. To calm themselves completely the sages and saints of India took birth
as gopies in Vrindavan. Bhakta-Jan-Vallabh helped these divine souls to overcome their
final hurdles so that they too may realise their true nature.
Suddenly, gopies, bathing in the river Yamuna, heard Murlidhar's flute. Seeking it's
owner, they noticed a kadamb tree covered in their fine
garments! Early morning sun glinted off their bright jewels. Dismayed by Ladla-Lal's
latest prank, gopies initially tried to reason with Krshna. Failing this, they threatened
to tell his father and even sought to punish him themselves. Unimpressed by their empty
threats, Krshna told the gopies to come and claim their garments in person. Krshna
explained that they (gopies) had offended the gods of the river by bathing in the nude
during their Vrat. Gopies must ask for their forgiveness and than simply come and collect
Divested of the characteristics that the soul has come to believe as its own, soul
often asks the Lord to return it to the familiar world. In his infinite compassion, the
Lord once more covers the soul, replacing the rags with riches. ( "Chir" means
clothes as well as shreds, rags or swatches of different clothes. ) Where there was
ignorance, now there was profound knowledge, desire was replaced with divine will and
truth as well as happiness were once more the properties of the eternal soul.
Gopies, now clothed in the "divya"/ divine/ spiritual garments given by God,
gained entry in to the Ras-Lila, the ultimate union of Soul and its Source.
© Bhagwat Shah