January 25, 2020
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The Journey

The Journey
IT was an opportunity too good to miss. An invitation to be in Vrindavan on Janmashtami. And to be accompanied by Veena Modi, who herselfprobably epitomises the classical Radha for today. A two-hour ride on the busy Delhi-Agra road, beyond burgeoning industrial investments and you reach a concrete fist with one open finger that points you to Vrindavan—the mythical abode of Krishna's childhood. The word Vrinda means mass; and Vrindavan since Bhagwath kaal represented the mass of humanity. Vrinda also refers to the holy basil—tulsi. Vrindavan is indeed a suspension of reality. Floating as it is on Krishna tales and Vaishnavism, it is the very stuff that dreams are crafted of. The township was re-established by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the sixteenth century during the very period of the consolidation of Muslim rule in India; six Goswami families were established as the protectors of the place. Divine power transmuted to realpolitik!

If the proponents of the saffron ethic thought that they could paint everyone with "Jai Shri Ram" then they better come to Vrindavan. There, in Uttar Pradesh, right under Kalyan Singh's thumb, the greeting is a soulful Radhe Radhe. Radha means worship and the name is of a cowherd maiden who is said to have been one of the favourite women friends of Krishna. When Krishna left Vrindavan for Mathura, she remained bereft in Vrindavan, and her waiting represents the angst of all humanity who still await the return of Krishna. "Radhe Radhe" reminds them of their eternal wait for the dark lord.

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