Once upon a time, in the ancient kingdom of Bharata, there existed a beautiful land known as Mathura. Situated on the banks of the holy Jamuna river, Mathura was resplendent with vast stretches of verdant plains, gleaming like scattered emeralds, thick patches of dense forests that sheltered thousands of creatures-large and small, and the majestic Goverdhan mountain, at the backdrop of the scenery, towering over the terrain like a silent watchman.
However, it was during the monsoon, when the first showers occurred, the land turned magical. As if the Gods had decided to bring down heaven on earth! The rain drops seemed to dress the greenery with diamonds and crystals. Every blade of grass glistened in the sun rays that fell after the first pour. During mid-monsoon, the rains graced the land for major part of the day and the scenery turned lush in different shades of green. The gentle breeze that accompanied the rainfall swayed the branches of the trees in a rhythmic manner, also making the leaves dance to its beats. The swamps crackled with the croaking of frogs interspersed with varied chirps of birds and trills of insects. Mother nature was in her sheer magnificence.
Suddenly, one fine morning, the creatures were jolted from their slumber by long wailing sounds that seemed to come from the foot of the Goverdhan mountain. At once, they rushed to the place and saw Radha weep incessantly. She was sitting huddled beside a large banyan tree, her head resting on its wet bark and streams of tears flowing down on her pale brown cheeks. She must have been crying the entire night, for her eyes had swollen terribly. She looked old and weary. She was completely drenched in the overnight rain and the creatures feared that she might develop a terrible cold, if not attended to. Gana – the grand old elephant was considered the wisest creature of Vrindaban – the forest surrounding the Goverdhan mountain. The animals believed that he had been the first creature to walk in this pristine land, and was hailed as a legend and the guardian of the forest. He was present at the site, observing Radha with tear-filled eyes and a sad expression. All the creatures looked at him and saw the angst in his tiny eyes. They asked him why he seemed to be in pain and whether everything was well with Radha. They could not believe that in the happy season of monsoon, they would witness a bereaved Radha, for whom the first spell of rain always meant dancing to the beat of raindrops along with her beloved Krishna!
Gana – the grand old elephant took a deep breath and replied in a faint voice, ” My dear children, a great tragedy has struck our divine land. And we would all have to bear the consequences that would follow.” Drops of tears flowed down his cheeks. “Krishna is no more. The Gods have taken him to their abode. May Lord Goverdhan give strength to little Radha. Poor child.”
Radha looked up, her eyes red like burning cinder. She looked towards the sky. Like a dormant volcano erupting after a period of silence, Radha thundered, “I dare you, Lords above me.” Suddenly, the sky turned black and dark clouds gathered, followed by thunder and terrible lightning. The land dried up, vast lands of grass at once withered and crumbled into dust. At a few places, cracks began to open up and liquid fire spewed out of the earth. The Jamuna river swelled in size and its waters turned turbulent, inundating its banks. The creatures of the forest ran amok in fear and confusion, not knowing where to run for shelter. Gana’e eyes grew large and everyone noticed dread in them.
Radha was overcome with anger and agony at the same time. She screamed towards the sky, “You took away my love from me. He was my breath, my reason of existence; the one with whom happiness and sorrow had no meaning in the times of togetherness. We lived as one. We dance every monsoon to please you so that you bless us with bountiful rain every year, so that these creatures of Vrindaban live a happy life. Then, what sin did we do this time that you blessed this land with plentiful rain and yet punished me in return? You have robbed a half of my life and my existence ceases now.” She paused for a brief moment.
“No, child, don’t do that. You must calm down!”, said Gana in a soothing tone. But, Radha was too grieved to listen to the wise elephant. She said in a very painful tone, “Dear friends of Vrindaban, your existence in the plains is endangered now, for the Gods have conspired against us. They shall not bless this land with rains in the forthcoming years. Krishna is gone and I serve no purpose here without my love. Hence, I shall turn to stone by this great banyan tree and wait for my Krishna. Till the Gods return my beloved to me, I place a curse upon this land that no rain shall fall till the meeting of Radha-Krishna!” All the animals began to cry in grief for Radha and they were paralyzed with fear after hearing her curse. Everyone turned to Gana, seeking his help and intervention.
“My child, I understand how heartbroken and devastated you are. Your anger and pain is justified. Your curse has been spoken and now it can not be taken back. This land shall remain scorched till Krishna returns and the next rain dance occurs. But, we are fortunate that Lord Goverdhan shall be our saviour in this period. The forests still breathe there and food is plenty. I shall take these animals to the slopes of the great mountain and reside with them till the period of your curse is over. I hope the Gods shall not intervene anymore in these testing times.”, the great elephant said in an assuring and hopeful tone.
At the first stroke of midnight, Radha sat under the banyan tree and froze into a large grey boulder. Meanwhile, the animals under the protection of Gana reached the high slopes of Goverdhan.
11 years passed by…
One afternoon, as the sun shone bright on the eastern sky, a pleasant breeze blew. Gana-the elephant felt the welcoming gust of air and his lips drew into a smile. Has Krishna returned? He pondered.
The feather on his head fluttered in the gentle wind as he walked, step by step, towards the grey rock. His two feet closed the cracks on the ground as he slowly walked over them. His shining blue skin was a welcoming sight in an otherwise barren, dull looking, ochre-coloured desert landscape. The little white and orange ornamentation on his body and the beautiful lower garment magnified his enchanting demeanour and added a divine feeling to his persona. When he approached the rock, he smiled and gazed at the pearl shaped impression of an eye on the rock. He nestled himself close to the rock, and gently rubbed his right cheek on the spot below the eye impression. Four words left his mouth like a magic spell: I am back Radha.
And it rained that night.
The entire Vrindaban – trees, animals and birds – erupted in joy to witness the reunion of the two lovers. Even the old elephant Gana couldn’t contain his happiness and joined in the merrymaking. The next morning, as the first rays of the sun caressed the pristine land, he turned his eyes towards the foot of the Goverdhan mountain. It was a magical sight to behold!
Dark rain clouds gathered on the horizon to a slow beat of thunder; warm sunrays pierced through the cloud cover; rain drops began to fall one by one on the verdure and, Radha and Krishna began to dance, step by step, to every beat of nature. Radha’s face emitted an aura of purity, devotion and a sense of belongingness of a true lover. Krishna, on the other hand, was transfixed to the eyes of Radha. His eyes reflected his love for her and a sense of satisfaction on having her back in his life again. All the creatures witnessed the magic unfold. Gradually, Krishna spread his magnificent plumage like a halo; its hundred odd eye-shaped patterns gleaming in the sunlight like heavenly jewels. The peacock and the peahen finally brought God’s blessings back to Vrindaban.