Krishna is a cosmic musician, and the tune he creates by playing his transcendental flute is embodied with cosmic energy. As Krishna’s divine flute calls at any time of the day or night, nature, which is mesmerized by the captivating celestial tune, responds: Lakes and rivers overflow with water, expanding their banks because they are desirous of embracing Krishna’s lotus feet. Drinking the opulent water, Mother Nature is perennially pregnant with luscious green, and trees and vines are unseasonably laden with fruits and flowers.
Seeing nature coming alive and thinking that spring has arrived, peacocks dance, and birds sing and chirp. Krishna’s beloved cows stand tranquilly with their ears spread just to catch the nectar-filled tune flowing out of his flute. Gopis lose their selves in this tune. For them, music becomes the voice of love, which is too passionate and secretive.
One must understand Krishna to understand the power and magic of his flute’s tune. Though it is presented on this Earth, it was created for Krishna’s abode, so there are strings attached to the pastime. The frequently offered explanation is that all living creatures stilled by the captivating tune of Krishna’s flute are his companions of past times, scholars and sages who are interested in the Vedic knowledge that flows through the tune of his flute. To perceive that knowledge, one must be so absorbed in the music that he must, essentially, lose his self.
The flute is bamboo reed with eight holes specially carved from the main opening to the end. The player blows through the top hole and controls the other seven holes as he brings out the songs of his heart. He expresses irresistible joy on his reed. When Krishna is depicted as being between the age of 5 and 8, it is always with his flute. Therefore, during this period, he is aptly called Murlidhara (murali means “flute,” and dhara means “hold”), signifying the one who holds the flute. He is never without it, whether he is with his mother, on the grazing grounds with his herd of cows, among his cowherd companions or roaming around on the Jamuna banks. As 8-year-old Krishna leaves Gokula and his companions to free his biological parents and King Ugrasena by vanquishing Kamsa, Radha waits for Krishna on the way. As Krishna asks the driver to stop the cart, Akrura asks, “Who is she?” Krishna responds, “Everyone is drawn to me, but I am drawn to her!”
Radha applies an auspicious tilak (vermilion mark) on Krishna’s forehead. Krishna asks her if she wants to say something to him. She responds, “Something can be said only to him who does not perceive. I know, as well as you know; then what else needs to be said?” As Krishna, with tearful eyes, offers his flute to her, Radha responds, “Keep it with you as my memory; it’s filled with my heart’s yearning call for you.” Krishna promises her that he alone will listen to that call, and hereafter his flute will be silent for the rest of the world.
Symbolically, the flute in Krishna’s hand can be any ordinary being. All mystical literature is profoundly and uniquely replete with reasoning suggestiveness. Each personality is structured with eight spots, i.e., with five organs of perception (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching) and mind, intellect and ego. The Almighty God fills us with his breath — life — and plays upon these spots to bring out the melody He wants. If our ego takes over and we try to sing our own songs, we may bring wrong notes to His divine music. If we allow an uninterrupted and faithful flow of His will, He shall ever keep us in His hand to create harmonious music that may please us, and keep us happy and content.
Krishna’s life on this Earth was a tragedy from his birth to death. Krishna never complained nor felt discouraged. Instead, he was always joyous and performed his duties. Even though he lived in the midst of misery, he rose above the joys and sorrows of life. Lord Krishna’s life sets an example for man to change his attitude toward life, and exemplifies how one should live his life and perform his duties. Krishna is the mysterious glory that has uplifted and continues to uplift the Vedic culture.
Mandikini Hiremath of Orangeburg is a Claflin University instructor.
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