An Introduction …
How come Onam, a typical festival of Kerala be celebrated by Krishna at Brindavan?
Onam is one of the grandest and prominent festivals of Kerala. It is joyously celebrated at Amma’s Ashram at Kerala too. On Onam day, Amma distributes Onam Sadhya (feast) with her hands to several thousands of her earnest devotees personally who throng to the Ashram to celebrate the day with Amma. Amma’s satsang and bhajan will also be there on the day.
A ‘Onam at Brindavan’ story will almost be a sure ingredient in Amma’s satsang on the day and many inmates eagerly await to hear the story as Amma will always pack some fun and pun in those stories to educate and entertain her own gopis – Ashram inmates, particularly the womenfolk!
Even though Amma is considered an Avatar of Devi, there are many devotees who consider Amma as Krishna too and there are many ‘gopi’s in ashram whose love of their ‘Krishna’ is on a very strong emotional plane. Amma’s gopis (lady devotees and Brahmacharinis) who always throng around Amma and vie with each other to have her closest company and attention, some times cross limits and end up doing certain over-exuberant things! At times,in this process of demonstrating their overwhelming love and attraction on Amma there may be heartburns, envies, dominations, rat races etc among them.
Amma makes use of Onam Satsang to concoct stories — particularlty, ‘Onam at Brindavan’ stories and joyfully share it to educate as well as entertain the gathering!
Such stories of Amma are shared below:
Onam at Brindavan-1!
[Amma: God’s compassion flows naturally towards those who are meek, guileless and helpless]
As the Onam festival approached, Gopis of Brindavan were very excited. They planned to decorate the front courtyard of their beloved Krishna’s house with numerous Pookkalams (colorful artwork done on the floor using flower petals of myriad colors, an art of Kerala associated with Onam festival). Each Gopi wanted to outsmart others by making the most beautiful and artistic pookakam to get Krishna’s appreciation.
“We must start doing pookkalam before dawn. When Krishna wakes up in the morning and comes out of his house, he should be swept by surprise seeing so many pookalams beautifully done by us; Imagine how his face will light up seeing them and also all of us there in the morning!”
“What is the plan for collecting flowers?” asked one gopi.
“Don’t we have our gardens around Vrindavan? They will start blooming before dawn. If we all go to the gardens as early as possible before sunrise, we can collect lots of flowers of different colors” said a senior gopi.
“Better all of you retire to bed early tonight; we can wake up early morning and go to gather flowers” said another.
As the gopis went to bed, all of them had only one thought: How to outsmart the other gopis so as to corner most of the flowers. They did not feel like sleeping at all. But Kocchu Gopi (Little Gopi), being youngest among the gopis, could not fight sleep. She told her two elder sisters, “Please wake me up when you leave in the morning to collect flowers. I don’t want to miss this wonderful festivity”. Her sisters promised to wake her up.
Little gopi slept peacefully that night. But most gopis could not. Some of them felt that they should reserve their favorite flowering plants and trees to garner the flowers. Taking lamps and mats in their hands, a few of them slipped out of their houses surreptitiously and went to the garden to spread their mats under their favorite plants and trees. Some gopis got up just after midnight. With lamps and mats in their hands, they came to gardens with the idea of sleeping under the flower trees and plants till twilight came.
Some Gopis who got up well before dawn rushed to the gardens and they were surprised to see other gopis’s mats lying there as signs of ‘reservation’ and also gopis sleeping there overnight! They felt it was not fair. They decided to climb over trees and sit on the branches so that the moment the flowers bloom, they can pluck them first!
Kochu Gopi’s sisters woke up early morning and they totally forgot about their promise to Kochu Gopi in their mad rush towards the gardens.
The Gopis sleeping under the trees woke up hearing the hustle and bustle around. When they saw some gopis sitting on the branches of ‘their’ trees, they got angry. They started shouting at the gopis sitting on the trees. Some of them jumped up to grasp the tree branches and shook them violently to force the gopis sitting there to fall down! More verbal fights followed. As the dawn approached, trees and plants started blooming and Gopis became very busy fighting and vying with each other to collect as much flowers as they could muster.
Kochu Gopi woke up all of a sudden early in the morning. Eastern sky was already showing signs of dawn. When she noticed that her sisters were not at home, she felt cheated; she started crying. Gathering herself quickly, she picked up an empty basket and started running towards the gardens. On her way, she saw a couple of gopis running with flower baskets towards Krishna’s house. “You are already late, Kochu Gopi! We were virtually the last ones in gathering flowers; we got only a little. Most of the other gopis are already at Krishna’s house, doing their pookalams” they said while running.
Wiping her tears, Kochu Gopi ran from one garden to another, only to see trees and plants totally devoid of flowers. Finally she rushed to a nearby woods with a hope to see some flower plants there. She was not lucky. She could not locate any flowering trees there. Finally, she noticed some wild plants carrying plain white flowers. Having no other option, Kochu Gopi plucked those white flowers and hurried to Krishna’s house.
When Kochu Gopi arrived, most of the other gopis had already finished their pookkalams. They all looked very beautiful in myriad colors. Each Gopi had left the central portion of their artwork free of any flowers. They were talking: “Let Krishna select the flower of his choice and place the flower at the center of the Pookkalam. That will complete the artwork beautifully”.
Kochu Gopi was forlorn with disappointment. Crying silently she sat in a corner. All the Gopis were waiting excitedly for Krishna to come out the house.
At last the front doors opened and Krishna came out. He was visibly surprised to see so many beautiful pookkalams decorating his front yard and Gopis eagerly waiting there! With widened eyes and a broad smile, Krishna gave a cry of joy, “Ah! How beautiful!”
He was immediately surrounded by the Gopis. “Krishna, see this one; I have done this. Don’t you think these color combinations are wonderful?” Each gopi was trying to get Krishna’s attention towards her artwork.
“Why have you not put any flowers in the centers?” Asked Krishna.
“We want you to select the color of your choice and put it there, Krishna” said the gopis.
As Krishna walked slowly from one Pookalam to another eying their beauty, each Gopi proffered her flower basket towards him: “Take this yellow rose, Krishna! This is very rare. Put it at the center and it will make it beautiful”. “Krishna. Use this lotus that I have brought. It will be the most fitting color to bring it to completion”; “Take my lavender. It is the best”. Krishna walked around silently, engrossed in his own thoughts, ignoring all the voices of Gopis.
He noticed Kocchu Gopi sitting in a corner, dejected. “Hi, Kocchu Gopi, bring your basket! Show me what colored flower you have got!” — Krishna called out to her. Kochu Gopi could not believe her ears. She came running towards Krishna.
“Ah! Nice white color! With so many other colors all around, this white flower will be the best compliment to adore the center of all the pookkalams!”
Saying so, Krishna took the wild white flowers one by one from Kocchu Gopi’s basket and put them at the center of each of the Gopi’s pookkalams.
Kocchu Gopi was now shedding tears of joy!
Onam at Brindavan-2!
Krishna not well
[Amma: God loves those who selflessly love and serve others]
Words spread like wildfire amidst Gopis of Brindavan that lord Krishna had agreed to have his Onam Sadhya (Onam festival feast) with all the gopis at the banks of the river Yamuna. It was agreed that each Gopi will prepare a couple of tasty dishes at her home and bring them to offer to Krishna and then they would all sit together, share the items and enjoy the feast in the joyful company of Krishna.
Radha too was busy from the morning, cooking rice, Aviyal and Milk pudding as her share of offering for the Onam Sadhya. She was constantly chanting her Lord’s name while cooking the food and she kept imagining how Krishna would taste her preparations and offer his appreciation. After finishing cooking, she packed the items in a food carrier and rushed towards the banks of Yamuna.
On her way, she crossed the hut of a poor fisherman’s family. The fisherwoman was doing household chores outside her hut at the back yard and her little son was standing beside her and taking to his mother, half crying. Radha overheard their conversations:
“Amma, my friends are saying today is Onam festival and everyone will be enjoying it wearing new dresses and eating a tasty feast. Is that so? Why aren’t we celebrating it at our home?”
“My child, it is true that today is Onam festival. But we are very poor, you know. We can’t afford to celebrate it as others do”
“It means, I won’t have any new dress?”
“I am afraid so, my son. Your father could not get any worthy catch of fish in the past couple of days. Had he got it, we would have had some money to buy you a new dress…”
“How about feast then? What have you cooked today?”
“Without any money, how can we afford a feast, my dear! I have only cooked kanji as usual…”
The little boy cried aloud. “Every day you are cooking only kanji and nothing else. Should I eat the same on the day of Onam too when everyone else is enjoying a good feast? I am feeling so hungry, but don’t feel like eating kanji!”
The mother stopped her chores, embraced the little boy and said with tears in her eyes: “What to do, my dear son! We poor people are cursed to be like that. If by God’s grace your father gets a good catch of fish next time, I will cook something special for you. Now, wait for a while till I finish this work; Your father too will come and join at any time now. We will go in and eat together what we have”
Radha was moved to tears hearing the conversation. She stood there for a while, thinking. Then without making any noise, she went into the hut, put her carrier containing the Onam delicacies near the hearth, took the vessel that contained Kanji and slipped out of the hut without attracting anybody’s notice.
As she walked towards Yamuna, her emotions were swinging between happiness and remorse. She was happy that she could feed a poor family with a nice food on the day of Onam; she felt remorseful because she could not offer her share of delicacies to her beloved Krishna and see the joy on his face.
When she reached their meeting place, everyone was already there including Krishna. “Why are you late? Krishna was asking for you” whispered a Gopi. Krishna appeared to be dull and was not particularly in his usual joyous mood. “What happened to you, Krishna? Why do you look so dull today? Are you very hungry? Shall I offer you some milk sweets first?” asked a Gopi.
“Take a sip of the special sweet pudding that I have made for you, Krishna!” said another Gopi.
“I have brought crispy Vada for you, Krishna. Eat it first!” said another Gopi.
There was lot of commotion as one Gopi after another started extending their vessels towards Krishna, cajoling him to taste their preparation first. Radha was sitting at the back row, silently watching the happenings.
Krishna did not show any interest to pick any item from any of the Gopis’ vessels. He said, “I am afraid I have mild fever. I don’t feel like eating any rich food. If only I could get some Kanji (gruel), it will suit my health and appease my hunger too; it looks to me that in Radha’s vessel, there is some Kanji. Can I have it please?”
Radha was overwhelmed with joy. Tears started streaming from her eyes as she came forward to offer the humble Kanji that the poor family had kept prepared.
Onam at Brindavan-3!
Which foodstuff will Krishna serve?
[Amma: God loves those who selflessly serve others even at the cost of abuse and rejection]
Villagers of Brindavan were heading towards Nandagopa’s house late in the morning. Gopis too were gathering at the front yard of Nandagopa’s house talking aloud amidst themselves. Krishna’s father had invited all of them to partake Onam Sadhya (grand feast) in his house. The special news was that Krishna, as a host, will be serving food with his own hands to the villagers and everybody became very happy to know that they will be getting the prasad from their lord’s hands.
Expert cooks were busy right from early morning preparing rice, sambar, avial, kari, vadai, payasam, laddu, appalam and so on for the feast. Huge vessels containing the hot preparations were brought and kept ready in the long courtyard of the house, where villagers would be seated and fed sumptuously.
As the serving was yet to begin, the foodstuffs in the vessels started talking amidst themselves excitedly.
“Is it true that Lord Krishna is going to serve us with his own hands? How lucky we are, then! Out of all of us, which one will Krishna opt to serve first?” asked one of them.
The rice said, “In any feast, I am the prime item. All you other stuff just join me as complementary items only, but I am the main course. Naturally, Krishna will serve me first!”
The ghee laughed hearing this. ” You may be served as the main course, but have you ever seen anybody eating just plain rice right through any feast?” All the other foodstuffs too joined the laughing. “Without adding ghee, no foodstuff ever gets any worthy taste. Even as per Ayurveda, I am one of the very important ingredient of a healthy food. Naturally, Krishna will give me preference”.
The sambar interjected. “You are too proud, Ghee. your other name is fat — one who makes people bloated and ugly and you are really bad for health! Whether feast or no feast, without Sambar there is virtually no meals worth its name. It is obvious that Krishna will opt to serve me predominantly”.
“Nonsense!” said Aviyal. “With me containing so many vegetables and with my characteristic taste and aroma, no food is ever worth a feast if I am absent. Krishna is sure to serve me first” .
“Do you ever know the meaning of the word ‘rasam’? It’s very meaning is tasteful. Do you think Krishna will opt to serve what is not ‘rasam’ ? No way” said the rasam.
“Ah! Too much of boastful talking!” said the Payasam. Tell me, if payasam is not there, will anyone call this a feast? It’s just another meals. That’s all. You can envy at me guys when Krishna comes to serve me as the prime dish”.
“I agree with payasam to some extent because only with Vada -Payasam, a meals becomes a feast. Tell me how much of payasam can one consume in a feast? After taking a cup or two, one gets overwhelmed with it. But think of me, the great Vada. People don’t get fed up with me. Mark my words; Krishna will surely give top priority to me” said vada.
When rest of the other food items too started raising their objections and claimed their worth to get the special honor of Krishna, Ginger pickle intervened in a matured voice and said, “All of you could be worthy candidates, I don’t deny. But think of this. What will be the end result of consuming all of you in excess in a grant feast like this? You will all end up giving indigestion to the eaters, that’s all. Unless I am consumed, digestion will not be proper and the joy of eating a feast will be wrecked by you guys in reality. Now you know who is really important and who will get Krishna’s best honor”.
As the foodstuffs were arguing amongst themselves, Krishna arrived at the scene. He picked up the bundle of plantain leaves and started spreading them on the floor in front of all the invited guests. He then asked the other gopis to start serving food over the plantain leaves.
Krishna went around and spoke to the guests joyfully and encouraged them to eat to their stomach full. Once the guests finished eating and got up, Krishna jumped up first, took an empty basket in hand and started picking the plantain leaves himself for disposal. Other gopis rushed to offer their helping hand.
The foodstuff overheard Gopis conversing with Krishna on this matter:
“Krishna! All the guests were eager to get the food served by your hands. Why didn’t you do it? Why did you opt to spread the plantain leaves and also rushed to pick up the discarded leaves yourself? Can’t you not leave those jobs to servants?”
Krishna said, “While people enjoy eating various foodstuffs and appreciate their taste, who thinks of the importance of plantain leaves? The leaves patiently bear the weight and heat of the foodstuffs served on them. People scratch over them while eating in a hurry. Their spittle fall on the leaves. When all the food served on the plantain leaves are eaten and enjoyed, the leaves are simply discarded and thrown to the streets. Think of the sacrifice of these leaves! They don’t complain about all the abuse and they are happy to be of service without any recognition. I wanted to show my respect to them. That’s why I opted to handle them in the beginning and end” said Krishna.
The foodstuffs listened what Krishna said and they understood the virtue of humility.
Onam at Brindavan-4!
The mischievous parrot
Amma: It is through selfless sacrifice that one becomes fit to receive God’s grace.
In Brindavan, all gopis were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Onam. On that day, their beloved Kirshna would dance with them and give them great joy. It so happened in the past that when Krishna took the central place in the dance, it was invariably Radha who accompanied to him to dance at the middle, while all other gopis would be dancing around them.
Many gopis thus became envious of Radha. There were complaints that Kirshna was showing partiality towards Radha by dancing maximum in her company. When Krishna came to know of such a complaint, he said to the gopis: “I don’t have any partiality towards Radha; it may perhaps so happened because it is Radha who has total faith and surrender towards me”
Other gopis argued with Kirhsna that their love, surrender and faith in Krishna was no less than Radha’s.
Krishna said “Fine. In order to proove that I am not showing any favors to Radha, let us birng a new practice for this Onam. Get a pot and each of you write your name in a piece of palm leave and put it inside the pot. I will pick up one from it; whatever name that gets selected, I will dance with that Gopi at the central stage”
All gopis agreed to the suggestion. Some gopis were still not happy. They went and met Radha privately and spoke to her: “Look Radha, you have danced with Krishna so many times in the past, while we never got a chance. To be fair, we expect you not to put your name in the pot so that even by luck you don’t get a chance again this time too”
Radha said, “I have no problem at all; I understand very well how much you all love Krishna and long to dance with him; I will not put my name in the pot”.
The gopis felt relieved.
On the Onam day, even though the dance was scheduled for the night, all the gopis came to the spot even before dawn to spread their asanas close to the spot where Ksishna would sit, to ensure closest physical proximity to him.
In order to increase their chance of getting their names picked up, many over-smart gopis wrote their names in multiple palm leaves and put it inside the pot. More daring ones, while putting their names, also stealthily and mischievously took away a one of two palm leaves dropped already by other gopis!
At last, Krishna arrived at the spot. He brought a parrot with him. He said to the gopis: “I know you don’t have full faith in me. If I pick up the name myself, some of you may accuse me of playing partiality by my doing some trick. That’s why I have brought this parrot. It will pick up one palm leave from the pot”. So saying he released the parrot. The parrot sitting at the brim of the pot poked its head inside and picked up a piece of palm leaf; instead of flying to Krishna, it flew high into the sky and soon disappeared from sight!
Everyone felt exasperated. What to do now? Kind Nanda came forward with a solution: “Let us now take out all the palm leaves inside the pot and read out the names. The Gopi whose name is not there is the one picked up the parrot, obviously. She will be the one to dance with Krishna at the central stage”
Swiftly, the pot was emptied and the names in the palm leaves were read aloud. As expected, there were tens of names of Manju, Anju, Bindhu, Sandhya and so on! Obviously all the gopis names were read out and the missing name was Radha!
Krishna called out Radha and she joined Krishna to dance with him at the central spot!
Onam in Brindavan – 5!
The tug of war
Amma: It is through unselfishness and sacrifice that one becomes eligible for divine grace.
The Gopis in Brindavanam were very excited as usual as the day of Onam was nearing. On Onam day, their lord Krishna would dance with them in Rasa Leela. Only a few of the Gopis would get the chance to dance with Krishna in the inner circle and every one would vie for such a gift. Naturally there will be stiff competition amidst Gopis for getting the coveted chance.
Krishna said to them “If I select some gopis to dance with me, the others would feel bad. Hence, let us conduct a tug of war competition as part of Onam celebration and whichever group wins, that group of gopis can dance with me”. All the gopis enthusiastically agreed to this proposal.
Is it not important that one ate well and did enough physical exercise to strengthen the arms in order to pull the rope to success? All the gopis started preparing themselves for the competition. Many of them, instead of going out and selling the milk and butter, started consuming themselves in order to increase their stamina!
Gopis who were earlier reluctant to do de-husking of paddy using the pestle, now started even lifting the mortar to gain strength! When mother gopis called their daughters to grind chilly in the grinding stones, many who used to escape saying they were going out to fetch flowers, now started to lift the grinding stones!
Thus, well prepared for the competition, the gopis assembled in the ground on the day of Onam for the grand competition of tug of wars. The two opposing teams of gopis lined themselves and upon receiving signal from Krishna, they started pulling the rope from either side. They pulled and pulled and the competition was really tough. At one point the gopis at one side would seem to pull the opponents to their side but soon the other side would manage to pull back. After a prolonged battle, the rope suddenly got snapped at the middle and the gopis on either side fell down on the ground!
Krishna who was thoroughly enjoying the competition now declared “Oh goodness! There are no winners now! What to do? I can’t dance with either of the groups. Is there anyone who did not participate in the competition? I will dance with them”.
The gopis seethed in anger upon hearing this, because they knew Radha, Neeraja and Vrinda had opted not to participate in the competition earlier. Krishna was informed of this and he called out their names to come forward to dance with him. As Radha, Neeraja and Vrinda came to the front, the other gopis felt like killing all the three of them!
When Krishna got up and said “Come let us dance” the three gopis said, “Dear Krishna, if you dance with just the three of us, all the other gopis would feel so sad and disappointed. We pray to you to include all the gopis in the dance”.
Hearing this, the other gopis felt very bad of themselves. They felt ashamed of their selfish mindset. With heads hung in shame for a while, they gathered themselves soon to join Krishna in the divine Rasaleela.
(Amma Onam Satsang – Monday 4/9/17)
Onam in Brindavan – 6!
The singing competition
The day of Onam celebration was nearing at Brindavan. Gopis were excited as usual to celebrate the day with their beloved Krishna.
One of the gopis who was good at writing poetry thought of a grand plan to steal the show with Krishna on the day of celebration. She knew pretty well that no other Gopi in Vrindavan was good enough even to write a few sentences coherently. She called the other Gopis and spoke excitedly about her idea: “Let us celebrate this onam in a different way. Let us conduct a poetry competition in front of Krishna. Whomsoever writes the best poetry as per Krishna’s judgment can dance with him in Ras Lila on the Onm day. What do you say?”
Another gopi who was reasonably talented in singing, but not in writing said, “What is the worth of a poem if it is not tuned to music and sung well?I would say a good song with good music should be judged for its worth”.
Several gopis agreed to this view point.
At this point of time, one gopi who was good at playing tabla said: “Only when a percussion is added, even a song well sung becomes wholesome and fully enjoyable”. Many gopis agreed to this.
Finally a consensus was evolved. It was decided to form several music groups amidst the gopis. Each group will have a song written, tuned to music and sung along with the accompaniment of a percussion instrument like Tabla. They will perform on the day of Onam in front of Krishna and Krishna should select the best group and allow that group to dance with him.
The suggestion was taken to Krishna and He readily gave his consent for it.
Hectic preparations began for the competition at Brindavan. Several gopis started searching for ideas for writing poetry. They started reading puranas and kavyas with an idea of pinching a line or two from here and there and somehow concoct a song!
There was one old pundit living in Brindavan who was virtually never considered a living being there all those years! Suddenly he became the most sought after man, because many gopis pestered him to write a few lines of songs and give to them secretly so that they could claim the songs as their own!
Gopis who were good at singing or in playing musical instruments became very proud and inaccessible since so many gopis tried to pull them into their groups.
The search for good poems became very frantic indeed. Some gopis picked up random words from here and there, and joined them to look like poetry! Rumors spread that some gopis were over-hearing others’ singing and practicing sessions and pinched lines from others’ songs. Scared of such a possibility, groups of gopis started practicing secretively at distant places so that no one could listen to them and attempt copying!
Finally, the onam day arrived. With lots of fanfare, the various groups of gopis sang their songs in front of Krishna. Krishna enjoyed listening to them all. When all the groups finished their presentation, Krishna asked, “Where is Radha? Why has not she sung any song?”
Poor Radha. who was unlettered, had kept herself away from all the hullabaloo. She opted to remain a silent observer.
Krishna called her out and said, “Radha! Why don’t you sing a song?”
Radha hesitated. How could she sing, when she had no idea of how to frame a poetic verse? Anyhow, since her beloved Krishna had asked her to sing, how could she negate it? She closed her eyes, and started singing from her heart, allowing whatever words that formed and came out on their own: “How can I ever sing when my music is verily Krishna?”
When she started singing, the whole atmosphere became calm.An inexplicable bliss permeated the area.Gopis who knew playing musical instruments involuntarily started playing in support of Radha’s singing. Percussionists started playing their drums in appropriate beats to suit the singing. It became a soul stirring song, melting the heart of everyone.
Once the song was over, Krishna got up and extended his hand towards Radha, signalling her to dance with him. Even though other gopis felt that it was the most appropriate decision, some of them nevertheless asked Krishna, “Krishna, Radha’s song was beautiful, but it did not have any proper poetic mitre, rhyme or rhythm. But you selected that song to be the best. Why?”
Krishna replied: “You all wrote your songs with the intention of beating others in the competition whereas Radha’s song blossomed out of her love and surrender to me”
Then Radha requested Krishna to dance with other gopis too (and not just with her alone). Krishna agreed and th Ras Lila began.
Onam in Brindavan – 7!
The closest Location for Krishna
As the day of Onam neared, Brindavan was agog with festive mood once again. Gopas and gopis went to Krishna and said, “Dear Krishna, we should celebrate Onam this year too with your dance and so on; please suggest a location for us to arrange things”.
Krishna said, “I have no specific choice. You can discuss and decide among yourself; only make sure that it is closest to me. Let it not be a far off place”.
Several groups of Gopis went around discussing about the best location. Since Krishna wanted a place closest to him, they felt a location just around Nandagopa’s house will be the best. One group of gopis found the northern backyard of the house was the best. They set out to clean the place and arrange flower pots there. Another group found the southern side as the best. The went ahead clearing the bushes in that place and decorating it. A third group felt the western side to be best. There were lots of shady trees there. They cleared ground and arranged it neatly. Another group felt the west side to be the right. They cleared the place and spread white sand there.
Radha did not join any group. But she made herself available to do the cleaning and arranging works in all the four locations.
Each group brought a beautiful throne for their beloved Krishna to sit and kept it at a nicely visible location, one each at the east, west, north and south areas. Gopis in each group vied with each other to place their mats closest to the throne so that they can sit closest to Krishna. Then some of them got worried. What if Krishna did not come to their location but go and sit in some other location? To play safe, they brought extra mats and reserved seats in other locations too! Radha did not reserve any seat for her in any location. She was remaining a witness to all the buzz happening around her.
Onam day arrived. Gopis were hanging around here and there around the house with tension. They were not sure to which location Krishna would come. But they were ready to take a sprint to whichever location Krishna might go, so that they can push their way to be closest to him! They were just waiting to hear the sound of Krishna’s flute.
Suddenly they heard a mild sound of flute from somewhere. They fell silent so as to locate from where the music was coming. It sounded as if it was coming from a distant place. Ah! It was coming from the garden at side of the bank of the Yamuna river which was farther away from Nandagopa’s house!
Pandamonium! Gopis’ rushed to pick up their mats and also their vessels in which they had brought eatables to share with Krishna. There was lot of commotion, noise, banging at each other and voice of curses all around Krishna’s house! They ran like mad vying with each other towards the garden at the bank of Yamuna. In their mad rush, some knocked at each other dropped vessels and spilled the eatables too.
There, Krishna was seated under a shady tree, joyfully playing his flute and Radha was sitting beside him, deeply immersed in the divine music!
Gopis pushed and shoved each other in order to come and sit closest to Krishna as usual!
Once they arrived, there were lots of voices simultaneously raising a complaint about Krishna! “Dear Krishna, you have cheated us! You chose to be alone with Radha, while we were all waiting for you there around your house. This place is far away from your home. We made everything ready just around your house in order to fulfil your condition that it should be closest to you!”
Krishna laughed and said, “Tell me which is the closest place for me? Is it not your heart? But your heart had no place for me! Your heart is full of competitive thoughts with others; You wanted only close physical proximity with me and not a heart to heart proximity! You were only carrying selfishness, envy, and other such emotions; you wanted to push everyone away from me so that you can find a nearest place to my physique! But Radha is carrying me always in her heart; she has no envy; she was alone here, not really keen to be competing with you over there!”
Gopis held their heads down in shame.
Radha said, “Krishna, they have spent several days cleaning and decorating all the sides of your house so as to celebrate this festive day there. Please don’t disappoint them”.
All of them returned to Nandagopa’s house. And there they found Krishna in each and every location, waiting for their return!
(Amma Onam Satsang – Monday 10/9/19)
Onam in Brindavan – 8!
This Onam is for Gopas!
The day of Onam celebration was nearing at Vrindavan. Gopis were excited as usual to celebrate the day with their beloved Krishna.
The Gopas of Vrindavan were in a belligerent mood this time. They were animatedly discussing among themselves about their pitiable fate. “See, our love on Krishna is in now way inferior to these Gopis’. We are also so close to Krishna; we go along with him to the forest to graze our cows and we too have our close proximity to Krishna. But somehow, everyone talks too high of these Gopis’ love on Krishna. These gopis too are too proud of it and they just don’t care about us. Krishna too plays favoritism towards them. He does Rasa Lila only with the Gopis. Every year, Krishna celebrates Onam with Gopis and he gives all the attention only to them. These Gopis stick around Krishna on Onam day and have all the fun; when we try to come close to Krishna to take part in the fun, these Gopis chase us away! We had to be content to sit far away from Krishna and watch His lilas on the Onam day. How unfair this is!”
So, they went as a big group to meet Krishna and aired their complaint. Krishna listened to them patiently with a smiling face. One Gopa said, “Krishna, we expect fairness from you; we want to sit closest to you and enjoy the Onam festivities this time. We seek your cooperation”.
Krishna smiled and said, “Yes, I am at your disposal. Please tell me what you want me to do.”
The Gopas said, “Instead of the venue at the bank of the river Yamuna that these Gopis have already chosen this time for the Onam celebration, we will make the ground behind the Govardhan hill ready for the festivities. We will make all arrangements there. Let the Gopis keep preparing their place at the bank of Yamuna. This time you should come to our place straight. Once we are all settled, we will send the word to Gopis that you are with us behind Govardhan hill. Let them occupy the seats behind us.”
Krishna agreed. The Gopas further said, “Let this be a top secret. Let none of the gopas whisper about this plan to any Gopi. Krishna, we know how mischievous you are. We want a promise from you that you shall never disclose the secret to the Gopis”. Krishna laughed and agreed.
The Gopas went away joyfully. They started secretly making all the preparations for Onam festivities at the ground behind the Govardhan hill.
In the meantime, some gopas visited the place near Yamuna bank where the Gopis were making all the arrangements. As usual, they have made a throne ready for Krishna and all the Gopis have reserved their places tightly close to throne, by keeping their mats around.
Chuckling to themselves, the Gopas asked Gopis, “Oh! This time too you have reserved all your places closest to Krishna and as usual you have left us lurking. Will you please give some little space — at least some little place where one can prick a needle near you?”
“No way!” said the gopis. The Gopas left the place laughing. Oh! How pitiful these Gopis would feel when they finally come to know that Krishna had changed the venue at the last minute!
The day of Onam arrived. As usual the Gopis got up early, made their food preparations, dressed themselves up and left home as early as possible. The Gopas however left their homes leisurely. They were sure that Krishna will be available for all of them without any need for competitions to get a place close to him at their exclusive location!
But they were in for a huge shock when they reached the venue! Krishna was already seated there and he was fully surrounded by the Gopis.
“It is not fair Krishna! It must be your mischief as usual. You have not kept your promise of not telling them the change of venue!” They shouted at Krishna with genuine frustration.
Krishna said, “Oh! No! I never told anybody about it. I did keep my promise. I really don’t know how these Gopis sniffed and found out that I am here and not at the bank of Yamuna. Will you girls tell me how you came here?”
The Gopis said, “Krishna, as we left our homes this morning, we let loose the cows from the stables for them to go out for grazing as usual. But we noticed that instead of running towards the river bank, they were running towards the Govardhan hill. We were surprised. Then we noticed that parrots too were flying towards the direction of the hill. Bees and butterflies too were flying in the same direction. The early morning breeze too had changed direction! When we noticed all these, we suspected that you must be somewhere around Govardhan hill, because we know about your divine attraction; we know it makes every living and nonliving beings getting lured towards you. So, instead of going to the river bank, we came and looked for you around the Govardhan hill and found you sitting in this new venue!”
“Ah! Poor Gopas! What can I do about it? Their true love on me has sharpened their awareness so well!”
The Gopas held their head low in shame.
The Gopis offered the flowers they had brought with them to Krishna. Krishna said, “Now I need one specific flower from you. It is called Karunya pushpam — The flower of compassion. I want you all to be compassionate with the Gopas and give space for them too to sit close to me”.
The Gopis agreed and many of them moved away and gave space for Gopas to sit near Krishna.
The Onam festivities began soon.
(From Amma’s Onam message 31/8/2020)
Onam in Brindavan – 9!
Krishna visits Onam venue in advance!
As the Onam day neared, Brindavan was getting ready for the festivities as usual. A place at Yamuna river bank was being readied for the function. All gopas and gopis were busy there, cleaning up the place, erecting the tent, arranging for Pookkalams and so on. Lord. Krishna decided to visit the place much early, to see how the preparations were going on.
He went into the tent. There were gopis and gopas actively doing some work or other and there were also people who were simply chit chatting and idling away their time. Krishna’s arrival was much unexpected. The moment they noticed him all of them got very excited. Suddenly there were a flurry of activities happening there. People who were slow and lazy, suddenly started acting very busy. People who hardly lifted small stones, started lifting huge rocks and crossed in front of Krishna to show to him that they were cleaning up the place.
Some people were loudly shouting commands at others. “Do this; Keep it there!’ …. ” No, Not this way. Who asked you to do like this?”
Some people went close to Krishna and complained that they had to struggle hard because others were not cooperating with them.
Lord Krishna then went to the place where gopis were doing pookalams on the floor. He saw some gopi shouting, “Hey! don’t touch those flower petals, I have brought it for my kalam”.
Every gopi vied with each other to draw Krishna’s attention to their specific artwork and get his appreciation. When Krishna appreciated someone else’s pookkalam, some of the gopis got upset. When Krishna appreciated a gopi’s pookkalam saying that it was very beautiful, she said, “No Krishna! To be honest, this is not my best work at all! I have planned it in a much better color pattern, but unfortunately some gopis have swindled my best flower petals and used them in their pookkalam. So selfish, they are!”
Krishna then went to Kitchen area. There too he witnessed lots of drama. People came to him and complained: “All responsibilities are on my head. if I don’t supervise, they foul up the preparations”. Another person shouted, “Hey! don’t put so much water in payasam. You there, reduce the fire, else food will blacken at the bottom “. Someone brought a spoonful of sweetmeat to Krishna and said, “Bhagavan, taste this. I made it. How is it? “. Krishna tasted it and said “So good”. The person said, “No one here knows the right ingredients to make this perfect like me”.
Krishna went outside the tent where everyone’s chappals were left. Radha was there, taking care of them lest monkeys might take them away. She was dusting the chappals and arranging them in an orderly way. She did not even notice Krishna coming there. Krishna came close to her and asked, “Why are you doing this Radha?”
Radha was surprised to see Krishna suddenly there. She got up and said, “O Krishna, None likes this job. No one wants to take care of the chappals. That’s why I took it up. Is it not a great honor to safeguard the footwear of your devotees?”
Krishna sat with her. Soon others came there in search of him.
“Why are you sitting in this dusty place, Krishna?” they asked.
Krishna said, “I am here because I feel coolness near Radha. In all other places inside, I was only hearing “I” “I” “I” . The sound of such ahankar made the atmosphere very hot. That’s why I came here.”
Hearing it, everybody felt bad and held their heads down in shame. Krishna immediately cheered them up saying, “Hey! don’t feel bad. You have learned a lesson now. Right? Now get up and move forward. When we fall, we should get up and make progress.”
Next day, the Onam festivities were indeed grand in the avenue, in the joyful company of Lord Krishna.
(From Amma’s Onam day message 2023)