Svaroup of ShriNathji

Part 2

 

Having considered the iconographic aspects of ShriNathji, let us look at other symbolic aspects of Shri Nathji and items in his immediate surroundings in the inner sanctum.

1) EYES !  Perhaps the most striking feature of ShriNathji - 

The shringar of the Lord is usually done in such a way, so as to show that the Lord is looking down, with his eyes half closed.  This re-enforces the dasa bhava, effectively saying, come to me, sit at my feet (ie be close to me) and I will keep an eye on you.  The half closed eyes are a classical representation of a yogi in meditation.  The Lord is the ultimate authority in yoga and indeed, is the very thing we all seek when we meditate ! 

 2) GADI - The seat of the Lord 

The gadi – ie the mattress on which the Lord stands, is stuffed with cotton wool, and it represents mother Yashoda’s lap.  The two bolsters on the side are her hands.  The Lord is said to be seated in the lap of His beloved Yashodama, forever secure that no one will dare scold Him while He is in her lap.  No matter how naughty He has been during the day, no matter what the other gopies say, Yashodama will never believe anything ill of her beloved son.  She will tell the complainants to look at their own shortcomings, but will never say anything to upset her darling child.  Such is the love of mother Yashoda for her Ladilelal ! 

As a result, even now, though we all know that Devki is the mother who gave birth to Krushna, we still call him Yashodanandan.  His foster mother Yashoda’s love for Him was so much dearer to Him than His real mother’s, that even the Lord says, “No matter what the world says, I will always call myself as your son !  I will call myself the son of Nanada and Yashoda.”

 3) PITHIKA - The stele behind and around the Lord

The icon of the Lord is made from a ruddy brown rock.  This is clearly seen during the summer months when the Lord wears fewer clothes and the stele is often left uncovered.  During an eclipse, Lord wears as few clothes as possible and its an ideal oppertunity to see the Lord's Shri-anga.

The structure behind the Lord depicts a rocky landscape, said to represent a cave in the mount Govardhan.  The raised area around the Lord is populated by
Snakes, representing the eternal Adi Shesha, Lord’s companion and brother in this avatara ;
Cows, forever auspicious and much loved by the Lord, especially in this avatara, where He loves to be called Gopal and Govind ;
Lion, representing a regal symbol, a sign of authority and fearlessness and representation of Lord Narsimha – an avtara of Lord Vishnu to rescue his devotee Prahalada ;
Ram, an animal often linked to Vedic ritual of Yagnas, and also associated with Yajurveda, one of the four most sacred scriptures of Hinduism ;
Yogis, deep in meditation ;
Parrot sits on top of His head, representing the foremost exponent of Shrimaad Bhagvatam – Shri Shukacharyaji. 
Peacocks are
auspicious birds and are said to bring good luck and abundant harvest.  

4) PICHOI - Cloth hanging behind the Lord

Before electric lights, inner sanctums of temples used to be dark spaces.  The gadi and the God were the only places "lit" by lamps.  To bring that inner sanctum space to life, havelis started to use pichois.  No one is sure when this was, but it could have been as early as the 17th century when the sect was in touch with the Imperial court at Agra / Sikri or in the 18th century when it migrated to Rajasthan.  Certainly from the 19th century, there are several examples of pichois being used in havelis across India.

Pichois are usually brightly coloured, painted, printed, embroided, woven or made from brocade.  Pichois are often very colourful and added a sense of drama and "action" to the darshan. 

Painted pichois often depict a lila or a festival, helping the devottess to understand the signifance or the bhava of the day.  They sometimes depict generic themes such as cows, peacocks, Vraj, Govardhan etc and thus help us place ShriNathji in "natural setting" we would read about in the scriptures.  Brocades and embroided pichois evoke the regal splendour of Nandalay, helping us to place Nanda-nandan as the reigning prince of Vraj. 

More often than not, havlies use bolts of cloth as pichois.  Bolts of clothes used for the pichoi can be plain or patterened.  Plain pichois extend the colour / design scheme used for the day from the Thakorji to cover the entire sanctum.  Using a simple pichoic can have a very pleasing, serene effect, especially if a contrasting Thad-vastra / gadi is used to make the Thakorji "stand out", yet "blend-in" with his surroundings.  Often the vastra used to cover the gadi and steps is of the same material - thus making the Thakorji / sihasan (throne) appear as if He is floating in mid-air in the centre of the pichoi !  Pichois usually have a "toi" (golden / silver ribbon) border.  If the toi is wide enough, and the pichoi plane enough, it often appears as if Thakorji is "framed" in the middle of a vast pichoi ! 

(Read more about Pichois and see some of them in various parts of this site)

5) Jhari, Bantaji and Paan.

Just in case Shri Nathji feels peckish, there is usually some snack / sweet kept within easy reach in a bantaji. 
Just in case Shri Nathji feels thirsty, there is a jhariji nearby with a wet red cloth to keep the Yamuna-jal cool.
Just in case Shri Nathji wants to chew something between snacks, freshly made paans are kept wrapped in a large plantain leaf.

6) Foot stool

Just so her Lala can easily climb in and out of her lap, mata Yashoda keeps a foot stool for ShriNathji in front of the paat.  Though I am sure, like most kids, he hardly ever uses it when jumping quickly out of her lap to go play with his friends !

 

(Please visit the galleries of the Lord for e-darshan)
Bhagwat

 

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