Editorial by Pratiksha Apurv published in Speaking Tree, Times of India, August 28, 2015
Pratiskha Apurv portrays Krishna’s Raas Leela in a colourful painting where the gopis and their beloved Gopala are dancing in gay abandon
Leela-Play of Divine Energy, Oil on Canvas 2015, 36 x 72′
Among all the gods and goddesses in ancient scriptures, Krishna is the most adorable figure. He is always seen as playful, yet with a multidimensional character. Whether you think of him as Arjuna’s teacher or as a companion of the gopis or cow-herd girls of Braj, just the mention of his name triggers an energy that is full of love, joy and bliss. In the Bhagwad Gita, Krishna plays the role of a Master to Arjuna in explaining the supreme knowledge. Whereas his character in Braj, from childhood to adolescence, is that of a naughty boy, one who enjoys playing with his village friends and celebrates the whole universe, singing and dancing with the gopis.
That is the reason why poets like Ratnakar, who wrote the historical Uddhav Shatak and authored the leela surrounding Krishna’s playful character, and Sant Surdas have portrayed Krishna unlike any other god or goddess.
Krishna’s Raas Leela — the dance of celebration — is a manifestation of the ultimate meditative state, where those dancing with him are so besotted by his mesmerising acts that everything around them appears to become still. This is no ordinary dance. For the gopis, time comes to a standstill when Krishna puts the flute to his lips. The divine naad, melody, which flows out makes them drop their minds and celebrate the universe.
This very dance with Krishna is the moment of being total and dissolving oneself completely in the love of the Divine. When Krishna is dancing with a gopi, he is so immersed in dancing with her that she feels he is wholly hers. And if, there are hundreds of gopis dancing with Krishna on a full moon night, each one feels the same way.
To Arjuna, Krishna says in the Gita, “Bhaktya tvananya shakya aham evam vidho’rjuna, jnathum drashtu ch tattwena praveshtum ch parantapah — when there is total devotion, I am available; I can be known and seen and only in this way can you enter into me.” It sounds unbelievable, but God can be seen and known in this playful moment.
For Krishna, every moment is raas, and when you are totally immersed in your dance and, therefore, spontaneous — with no discipline or rules to follow — you can have the glimpse of the Divine.
Unlike other gods depicted in our scriptures, Krishna is perhaps the most lovable figure, who enjoys songs and dance as well as moments of great laughter with his friends and gopis.
This is because Krishna does not have a system, a structure unlike other figures, because he is complete and whole in himself and, therefore, does not need to follow any set pattern or discipline. Krishna has also never been depicted to be serious in any imaginative sketches that artists have painted him down the ages. His image brings celebration into life making it an occasion of festivity, a moment of fun, joy and play. And, this festivity is not a small thing. It is a cosmic celebration. Osho describes the raas leela as a ‘dance with the Master’, and says that the word ‘gopi’ means a ‘devotee’ — one who has chosen the path of devotion and that of surrender. Krishna represents the lover and gopi as the beloved and in this raas, the search is not through the devotee’s mind but through the heart — which does not require any effort, only total surrender.
When the gopis are singing, there is only the song, and when Meera is dancing, there is only the dance. There is no Meera, as the dancer has completely merged with the dance. When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is singing and dancing in his kirtan, there is no Chaitanya, he has become one with his song and dance.
In the Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna, “Sarv dharma parityajya, mam ekam sarnamvraja, aham tvam sarva papebhyo,moksayisyami ma sucach — abandon all kinds of religion and just surrender to me, and I shall deliver you from all worldly reactions.” Both — gopis during the raas leela and Arjuna on the Kurukshetra battlefield— are in total surrender. Dropping the individual ego or ‘I’ is the first step towards attaining this path of Supreme Love.
There is the story of Ebrahim, the king of Balkh, who after renouncing his kingdom went to meet a Sufi Master. He said to the Master, “I have left everything behind.” The Master looked at him and said, “Before I make you my disciple, you will have to pass certain tests.” Ebrahim was a little puzzled but he agreed to go through any test. The Sufi Master smiled and said, “You have to drop your expensive attire; you have to go naked and take a round of the city you have been ruling. Also, take one of my sandals along and go on beating your head with it while you are walking through the street.” The Sufi Master’s old disciples were aghast. One of them even objected, arguing that the king has already renounced the kingdom, what more test is needed to accept him as a disciple?
But the Master was adamant. “Only after the king fulfils this order, will I think about making him my disciple,” said the Master categorically. King Ebrahim undressed himself, picked up the Sufi Master’s sandal and started beating his head while walking down the streets of the city he was ruling just a few hour ago. Later in the evening, when he saw Ebrahim returning, completely naked and still beating his head with the sandal, the Sufi Master bowed down to him and said, “You are already enlightened, Ebrahim. I see a miracle.” Ebrahim said he didn’t know anything about any miracle or enlightenment, he was just carrying out the task given to him by the Master, without thinking about people who were laughing at him on the streets.
This is what Krishna calls complete surrender. Though it is not rational or logical, Krishna’s raas is an indication of this total surrender or devotion — a glimpse of the wholesomeness of existence.
More paintings by Pratiksha in our Art Gallery
Pratiksha: Expressing the Inexpressible
More articles by Pratiksha on Osho News