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Love of Neela and Sri Krishna

19. Tiruppavai

Madabhushi Sridhar

3 January 2024

Gopikas are invoking ‘Om Sridharaayanamah”

Tamil Pashuram

Kuthuvilakkeriya-k-kottukkaal Kattil Mel

Methhenra Pancha SayanathilMeleri

KoththalarPoonkuzhalNappinnaiKongaiymel

ViththuKidantha Malar MaarbhavaaiThiravaai!

MaiththadamKanninnaai, Nee Un Manaalanai

EthanaiPodhumThuyilezhaVottaai Kaan

EthanaiYelumPirivaatrakillaaiyaal

ThathuvamanruThagav-el or Empaavaai

English Poem 19

Clusters of oil- lamps burning bright,

On a sculpted cot with four-ivory legs,

On cool, white, soft bed of five merits,

On the bosom of Neela with flower- decked plait,

O Krishna, please utter a word at least,

O Neela with wide lively eyes lined black,

Can’t you leave Him for a minute, at least?

It is not your nature or character to hold Him so.

Amidst cluster of lamps

Amidst cluster of lamps, on an ivory cot and soft bed, on the bosom of Neela, Sri Krishna is resting. Poetess Goda has explored the valour, beauty, and romantic personality of Krishna in this song.

The mattress on that cot was filled with white, soft cotton spreading fragrance. After tiresome deeds, Krishna retires to sleep leaning on the bosom of Neela. At times, it is reverse; Neela relaxes on the broad chest of Narayana. Though she hears the Gopikas’ calls for Krishna, she wants to respond to them without disturbing Krishna.

Goda pleads with her,

“O mother, can’t you endure Krishna’s separation at least for a minute, release Krishna from your hold to meet us. You were very kind, never like this, and this is not your character”. 

Neela knew how tiresome Krishna was and how badly He needs rest. Goda says again:

“We expect you to take initiative on our behalf to inspire Krishna. At least wake him up for us”.

Gopikas explain further:

“We chose to reach you before the dawn with small lamps so that elders do not notice us in dead of night and admonish. You have lit clusters of lamps and brightened your bed-room so much that it looks like mid-day. You are completely enjoying alone the enchanting sleeping beauty of Krishna. Rama had enough of light emanating from Seetha. He never needed a lamp during the nights. Similarly, you are the bright lamp for Krishna also; You do not need any other lamp.  Having separated from us, you ought to have felt the soft bed hard. But you are enjoying the white softness of the cotton bed, whereas we are not able to withstand the separation from Him”.

Goda is proving her poetic prowess in showing multiple examples of love bondage of Neela for Krishna. Seetha and Rama could not live without the other even for a second. The couple – Neela Krishna too cannot tolerate separation from each other. Gopikas request:          

“Krishna, if you want to give your bosom to Neela, please give it…but give us a word at least. Krishna seems to be convinced; He wants to greet those that came with great love for Him. But Neela tightened her hold and did not allow Him to get up. Gopikas understand it and start praising Neela for her indulgence. O Mother, have a glance at us with your wide eyes darkened by collyrium.  You have bound Krishna with the beauty of your eyes like Rama did to Seetha. He keeps on watching your lotus eyes continuously. We know that you have not decorated your eyes with collyrium, it appears so because of black shades of Krishna. Krishna is shining in your eyes, why do not you allow Him to light up our eyes too. He is not your husband alone; He is Jagannadha (bearer of entire Universe)”. 

Gopikas feel moonlight and lamp are their enemies because they do not allow them to experience Krishna. They want it to be on a par with Neela.

What Kaika asked was exile for Rama only. But Lakshmana forced Rama to accept his accompaniment. Seetha too wanted to follow Rama. Lakshmana was very happy to see both Rama and Seeta enjoying each other’s company. Three of them – Rama Seetha and Lakshmana were feeling Vana Vaasa as privilege.

Mangaladeepa Rekha

Valmiki says, Rama Maana Vana Trayah

రమామాణ వన త్రయః  = three are enjoying in the forest. It is traditionally believed that Lakshmi is ‘Mangaladeepa Rekha, who is inherently illuminating and illuminates the eyes of Vishnu. She is the lamp that throws light on Narayana Tatwa. She is lamp of knowledge, Jnaana Deepa. Krishna is the bright star of Gopa clan. But He is not visible to others unless Neela reflects her light on Him. He is Aprakasha and Anyadheena Prakasha, i.e., does have no light and depends on others for light. Neela has to brighten Him. There are five lights there: Shriti, Smriti, Ithihaasa, Purana, and Aagamas. Goda refers to these five as a cluster of lamps, the sources of knowledge. These five lamps emit knowledge. That light of knowledge enables us to visualise and realize Sri Tatwa and Narayana Tatwa.

The Kamsa’s Elephant – embodiment of Ego

Having ivory legs for His very wide cot represents his adventurous and courageous deeds. Those ivory legs were made of the tusks of Kuvalayapeedamsent by Kamsa to kill him.Srimad Bhagavatam explains how Krishna fought with Kamsa and other his enemies. 

Bows Arrow: Those days it was customary practice to worship Lord Shiva in the form of bow and arrow in the palaces.   Krishna moved towards the bow and arrow was stopped by the guards of the palace, he did not stop, he went straight to the place where the bow and arrows were exhibited.  

He lifted that heavy bow and arrow effortlessly, like an elephant carrying the sugarcane; he fastened the thread on the bow, and eventually, it has broken into two pieces producing a huge sound.   It reverberated in the entire palace of Kamsa, the people of the palace were shocked, and it stirred up extreme fear in Kamsa.  Krishna punished all those guards of the palace who were prepared to attack him and the cowherds.  Kamsa could not remain peaceful that night, he was imagined Krishna as a teenage youth, he did not expect the youth to have extra-ordinary prowess to attack the guards of the palace.  That night Kamsa had various bad omens, saw his image without the head on the mirror, mounted on the donkey, somehow, he spends the night on the bed.

Mushtika and Chanoora: It was early hours of the crack of dawn; Kamsa was not out of the shock of the alarming sound produced while breaking the bow and arrow by Krishna.  The next morning Nandababa saw the children in beautiful attire, was pleased to know that it was given by their uncle.  Nandababa and the children took seats arranged for the spectators, around the huge ground kept ready for wrestling. Kamsa was already kept his powerful men Mushtika and Chanoora ready for wrestling.  

Kuvalayapeedam: There was one more surprise for the audience; Kamsa was already assigned the untamed elephant Kuvalayapeedam which was received from his father-in-law/Jarasandha as dowry at the entry point to attack Krishna.  As soon as Krishna and Balaram prepared to enter the wrestling ground, Krishna ordered the mahout to remove the untamed elephant from the entry point, to avoid the mayhem in the audience.  But, the mahout stirred anger in the elephant, poking its body with a sharp iron rod, the elephant became uncontrollable it rushed towards Krishna carried him on its trunk.   Krishna with all his strength got out of the trunk and took hold of his one leg, the elephant turn round and round for several times to get hold of Krishna was failed, Krishna took hold of its tail for quite some time, Krishna slipped out of its tail and landed on the ground, Kuvalayapeedam dashed to Krishna to pierce him with its sharp teeth.  Krishna elevated his body and gave a hard kick on its forehead and plucked one tooth effortlessly.  The fierce battle between Krishna and Kuvalayapeedam continued, Nandababa and the children of cowherds watched the battle in extreme fear.  Krishna attacked the elephant with its tooth in one hand, and plucked the other one and tossed it to Balarama, and the two brothers successfully killed the elephant.  Thus, Krishna and Balaram placed the elephant teeth on their armpit and moved flamboyantly all over the huge wrestling ground of the palace.

Ego is Kuvalayapeedam

Krishna kills Kuvalayapeedam, the huge embodiment of grown-up Ego. “I did it, I will enjoy it, I know it, everything is mine” are the four kinds of ego. Four Ivory legs reflect these four kinds of Ahamkaaram. One should have chaturvidha jnana, four kinds of Jnana are those who are sleeping on the cot. Cot is a place where humans rest and derive happiness. It relieves the physical strain. The cot of our aadidampathi is a platform of Bliss of Super Self.

When Gopikas refer to black eye-lining of Neela and blossoming clusters of flowers in her plait, they intend comparison between them and Neela. While Gopikas abstain from eye linings and flowers for Vrata, Neela is enjoying them and binding Krishna with her flowers and looks. Eye is a symbol of Jnana but the black eye-lining is reflection of love- Jnana Anjanaa Rekha. 

Father and mother should always be together to help children and shower affection. Together Seetha-Rama, Lakshmi-Naryana and Neela-Krishna protect the Jeevis. If one desires Rama alone, it could be Shoorpanakha, and someone wants only Seetha, he might become Ravana and perish.

In Guruparampara, the Gopikas are invoking ‘Om Sridharayanamah” in this Pashuram.

Wake-up Bala Ram, before approaching Krishna

Yesterday, the Gopikas found Him. And tried to wake-up Krishna. But He remained unresponsive. Goda realized that without seeking the blessings of Bala Rama, it is not proper to approach Krishna. They tried to wake-up Bala Ram, but failed again. Then they understood that they should have sought the indulgence of Neela, the lover of Sri Krishna. Gopika’s started moving towards her. 

Recommendation of Mother – Purushakaram

Neela is the mother. With Purushakara of Neela, they can be assured of blessing from the Supreme Self. The mother pleads for kids and convinces the Husband. The motherly affection of recommending Husband for boons to children is called Purushakaram.  Neela is such a benevolent mother.

Madabhushi Sridhar

Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Author is Dean, Professor of law at Mahindra University at Hyderabad and former Central Information Commissioner. He published a number books in English and Telugu.

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