Radha’s last meeting with Krishna !!!
The news that Krishna was leaving spread like wildfire throughout Vrindavan. The youth sensed that they were losing a staunch friend; the maidens sensed that they were losing a man of their dreams and Radha….
Before Radha could even begin to ponder upon the consequences, the melodious sound of a flute wafted throughout the village. Radha picked up her anklets and raced ahead of everyone else, her bosom heaving with excitement. Her Kanha was calling her. Krishna was standing in his usual spot, his right leg crossed over his left, and playing his flute with gay abandon. Radha cuddled up to him and began to sway in the rhythm of his music. The other maidens formed circles around them and began to dance. The men folk, the elders and children too had come there, but were watching from a distance, so as not to embarrass the dancers.
Every maiden wanted Krishna to dance only with her, every maiden imagined that Krishna was dancing only with her and the spectators could see a multitude of Krishnas, each dancing separately with one of the lasses. Such is the power of love; such is the power of faith. This was the Maharasa or the "great dance". When the dancing stopped Krishna and Radha were missing.
Radha and Krishna were heading for their favourite nook in the Madhuban, near the Yamuna river. Radha was in Krishna’s arms, her tousled head resting on his shoulder.
"Will you always be like this, Kanha?" asked Radha.
"Always," he replied, "Till the sun and the moon endure."
But Radha was not satisfied by this assurance. "Will you always remember me?" she asked.
"How can I forget you," replied Krishna, "You are my Goddess of beauty and joy."
"You will always be my prince," said Radha, "but you are not of royal blood. And I do not regret our love making so you do not have to justify it." Then Krishna narrated the story of his birth, of his being the redeemer and his leaving for Mathura before dawn. Radha let the whole narration sink in and appeared to be forming some decisions of her own. "Is there anything that can make you stay?" she asked.
"Nothing can hold me from my destiny and my duty." Replied Krishna firmly. "Why do you worry? Are you afraid that I will die at Kansa’s hands? It will be over soon and then I will call you to Mathura"
"No, I am sure that you will kill Kansa. And then you will become the king of the Yadavas. A lot of people will look up to you, will bow down before you, and will depend on you. You will become the saviour of humanity," said Radha.
"And you will be my queen, by my side always," added Krishna.
"No," replied Radha surely. "I am a poor cowherd girl. I will be lost in the palace intrigues. There will be many princesses wooing you and wanting you at any cost. I will be awkward and gawky compared to them. This village girl will be a handicap to you in your new avatar. For you will undeniably change. Your life will be filled with politics and manipulations. You will fight wars and participate in destruction. That will be a part of your destiny and I don’t pass judgment. But the Kanha I loved was a cowherd boy, whose calling in life was to graze cattle, who played the flute and danced in the woods and whose crown was a peacock feather and weapon was a bamboo staff. I will not be able to see you in any other form." Radha was now sobbing convulsively and Krishna has to take her in his arms to calm her down.
After regaining her composure Radha continued. "Please listen to me Kanha! Let me stay here and take care of your parents. Here in Vrindavan I will see you in the waters of the Yamuna, the slopes of Govardhan and the trees of Madhuban and hence I will always be with the Kanha I knew."
They sat silently for a while reflecting on the past, savouring the last moments of togetherness and coming to terms with the future. Krishna broke the silence. "You are right Radha. In Mathura I will have to change and if you come with me then you will have to change as well. I will not be the Krishna you knew and you will not be the Radha I knew. We will not be able to replicate the magic we weaved here. And without either of us here, Vrindavan too will wither away. But if you stay back, then Vrindavan will become an enduring shrine to our love and you will be its deity." Krishna then told Radha that preparations had been made for them to get married in the Vedic manner and since the auspicious moment was drawing near they should return. Radha requested that Krishna leave his flute behind as a gift to her and Krishna readily agreed.
It was time for the final parting. The villagers had turned out to personally meet Krishna. Radha stood beside her mother in law, dressed in bridal finery, her face covered modestly by her sari. From time to time she looked up at Krishna, each glance a pledge of eternal devotion. Krishna’s eyes met Radha’s each time and he smiled at her reassuringly. Any other communication in front of the elders would be out of place. So no words were said and no hands touched. Krishna touched his mother’s feet and mounted the bullock cart with Nand, Balaram and Akrura. Radha looked without blinking at the cart till it disappeared round the corner and then fainted. Krishna never set foot in Vrindavan again.