Thursday, June 13, 2024

O Neela with wide lively eyes lined black

Madabhushi Sridhar – Tiruppavai – 19

Tiruppavai by Godadevi from Tamil

Kuthuvilakkeriya-k-kottukkaalKattil Mel



ViththuKidantha Malar MaarbhavaaiThiravaai!

MaiththadamKanninnaai, Nee Un Manaalanai



ThathuvamanruThagav-el or Empaavaai

English Translation from By Madabhushi Sridhar

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.

In previous Pashuram the Gopikas could locate Krishna, and tried to wake Him up. But He preferred not to. They realized that without seeking the blessings of Bala Rama, they should not have approached Krishna. After meeting Bala Ram, they again tried but failed again. Gopika’s another mistake was ignoring Neela.  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 Purushakara.  Neela is such a benevolent mother.

Goda is exploring the valour, beauty, and romantic personality of Krishna in this song. Having ivory legs for his very wide cot represents his adventurous and courageous deeds. Those ivory legs were made of the tusks of Kuvalayapeedam sent by Kamsa to kill him. 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.

Also read: Shakti Swaroopini called ‘Radha’

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”.

Also read: He, the giver of clothes, water and food

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. Gopikasrequest: “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. Gopiaks 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. Lakshmana was very happy to see both Rama and Seeta enjoying each other’s company. Valmiki says, Rama MaanavanaTrayahరమామాణ 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 AnyadheenaPrakasha, 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.

Also read: Open this temple filled with love for Shri Krishna

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 Gopikasabstain 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.

Also read: Enchanting pulled tusks, killed rogue elephant

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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