DUNG, DEVOTION & DANGLE Krïsnā Leela Navneet - the Agraharam temple priest - was looking at the ear-lobe. His eyes transfixed. Then shifted gaze to idol of the Krïsnā head-to-foot embellished. Since many days, he see every this stuff morning and picks it up - this tiny cake of wet-piece-of-cow-dung sticking to ear lobes & throws that in anguish into the nearest bin. He felt that only Krïsnā can remedy this malady. He felt this could be the handy work of a naughty-devotee & that person should turn over a new leaf. This old lady should teach him a lesson; as to how to “worship” Krïsnā . The temple priest Navneet has a special place for this old devotee, hunch-backed-Subhadra. Rain or shine, she has been visiting every evening this Krïsnā temple since many years. She was close to sanctum, engrossed in thoughts of the Krïsnā & in prayer- her eyes shut jerking a tear. Today, when she opened her eyes, they were moist observed Navneet. He endearingly enquired her, “Grandma! What have you wished?” “Yesterday my naughty-little Krïsnā swallowed too much of white-butter. I prayed that He must get all that butter digested in toto” Subhadra said in halting cracked tone. “Not that grandma. Did you seek anything from Him for your personal needs?” “Phew! Now that my days here are numbered? Why at all I need anything from Him in my sunset years ? As of now, too many pray to Him asking for this & that and therefore, He is compelled to hold all the time His right palm up in “Abhaya Hastha” blessing even those greedy folks; maintaining that posture forever - would it not make His right hand suffer in acute pain or paralysis? Unless for some time, these devotees cease demanding favours and boons from Him, He would never get time to keep hand-down relaxed? Already, by non-stop reeling out saree to Draupadi in distress & driving in Kurushethra battlefield that huge white-horses-drawn chariot for Arjuna, His hands must have been either severely aching or benumbed. The seemingly light long-bamboo-flute He plays at a stretch for long hours standing on meadow in the midst of cows, holding it all the time close to His glossy-aril-lips benumbs His palms and fingers. Anyone on this planet, ever contemplate on these painful issues of Him. Even if someone request Him to stop playing the flute or keep hands down relaxed - would He ever accede? Any of His devotees in this world is only interested in celebrating Him & rejoice in listening to His holy Gita. I am not at all inclined to seek anything for me. If I do, it will add to His existing burden”. Navneet was all ears listening to Subhadra’s halting statements. Casting a soft smile, his mind went in cogitation: How could this fragile woman in her eighties so effortlessly steeped in Bhakthi? All the time In profound thoughts of The Krïsnā. & chanting all her wakeful hours. Ah! She thinks of alleviating pains to Krïsnā. Nothing seem to distract her devotion. Though she is an illiterate and impoverished woman, yet her faith remains steadfast in Krïsnā. For her, the Lord is an infant, a baby, a toddler, a naughty boy and also an Universal Hero, all at the same time! What an incredible level of devotion she demonstrates to Krïsnā! Near flag post (dwajasthambam - temple tree), joining her palms over her head, subadhra made one more final namaskaram in front of idol Krïsnā, turned around herself 360° began ambling homeward. Navneet locked that heavy tall wooden doors of the temple. He rushed on trot to his home. His mind obsessed with thoughts of Subhadra and her deep unwavering devotion to Krïsnā. Priest Navneet today was early to bed: in middle of his sleep, he staggered on bed when his subconscious mind obsessed with thought of that tiny somewhat wet cow-dung cake on idol’s ear lobes. He was not sure as to when sleep embraced him. It was predawn hours, when azure Krïsnā with his characteristic enigmatic smile silhouetted behind silvery clouds risen from horizon appeared in priest’s dream. “Oh dear Navneet! The nugget of dung on my ear-lobes that bothers you daily is far superior & sacred to me than the sandal paste that you slather on my forehead, countenance & body. To comprehend the superiority of this dung at first hand, I shall right now facilitate that you remain invisible to others for few hours and you get rid of your body. Afterwards, your astral body reach that Subhadra’s dwelling and watch her frenetic movements through an opening . I shall at appropriate time make you migrate back to your body”. A moment later, the body of Navneet turned life-less and his soul took off invisible form moved out and positioned itself to the open window of the old woman’s hut. Now Navneet was able to watch Subhadra’s chores. Before going to bed, she was chanting & wiping the cooking-hearth with palm that was already dipped in wet cowdung. Outside her hut, heard from a distant shed - her cow blaring for no reason! After completion of wiping the hearth, in her wet-palm there was residue of dung sticking between roots of her fingers. Her lips in devotion & sincerity, uttered, “sarvam krishnarpanam” while her fingers gathered gently the residual dung and tossed it outside through the window. What followed was a scene that bewildered the priest. The invisible priest could see the cow-dung caked itself and flew in a long projectile in the direction of the temple, whizzed past the locked temple doors and got split into two and landed on ear-lobes of the idol of Krïsnā. ************ After having had profound sleep, Subhadra woke up next morning. While Rolling her mat and folding her blanket, she began a dialogue with Krïsnā as if she had Him in close proximity. “Krïsnā! Could you get forty winks? Did you sleep? It was bit cold last night. Trust you had covered yourself with blanket while sleeping?“ After freshening up, she continued with her dialogue- “Krïsnā - weather is inclement; water today is quite cold; Bad for your body. You use warm-water for freshening up. For welcoming you to my dwelling, I am going to draw kolam -rangoli -that begins with numerous dot-patterns”. She came out with a container of pulverised rice-powder, cleaned the floor adjacent to hut, wiped it clean: sloshing cow-dung dissolved water all over. With every tiny dot of rice powder placed on the even mud wet-floor, she was uttering - “Krishna, Mukundha, Murare, Neela Mega Shyamala Varna, Madhusudhana...” Subhadra’s lips were chanting sacred slokas while her hand was kept busy drawing effortlessly rangoli, producing intricate patterns using rice-powder in straight lines and spirals by joining dots deftly. Eventually it turned out to be a “sixteen” petalled huge bright flower on the floor. Enjoying dung ‘fragrance’ emanating from the floor decorated, Subhadra continued then with undiminished enthusiasm her chanting and singing in praise ‘Krïsnā nee beghane bārrow’, she lighted the hearth to commence cooking. **************** Navneet woke up from his wonderful and bizarre dream of poignant moments that were heavenly. He was also in dilemma as to whether events seen were surreal or just a ridiculous dream! That day too, early morning he had reached temple and stood at the sanctum. He stood in front of krïsna - enraptured at the sight of dangling “nuggets of dung” from ear lobes of the idol. Tears jerked from his eyes. He felt his devotion to Krïsnā seemed to have deepened further. He gently took away the dangling dung and considered it as sacred Prasadam and put a bit sporting on his forehead and transferred the rest carefully on a piece of banana leaf, folded & tucked it in between folds of his ochre dhothi that was worn divided in-between his legs. He was agog looking forward to the visit of Subhadra. Hours gone by. She did not turn up at all. That night Krïsnā appeared in his dream. He told “Oh my Dear Navneet! The dung you packed and carried with you is the spiritual prasad. Preserve it carefully. It is not going to be available henceforth” Perplexed, Navneet asked Krïsnā “Why? Why so?” “Because, tomorrow Subhadra’s soul would be reaching me. That is why in that preparedness, today she is unwell and could not visit temple. Tomorrow, by dawn, before you set out for temple, visit her hut. You would find many of her kith and kin gathered over there. Certain views invisible to others would appear only to you. Tomorrow, you will completely comprehend her unselfish motherly-love for Me.” Navneet woke up, rubbing his burning eyes and got up chaotically from bed; he was in delight in toto yet in utter confusion & perplexed. It was dawn when he was on trot toward that hut. He reached and pierced thru the gathering. He saw the fragile Subhadra laid up on the mat. It was just the moment, the soul of her body was departing & in a swift journey being illuminated in golden light toward heavens. He could sight above in that empty space - the approaching noiseless flying-machine - pushpaka vimana-in the sky. He could then listen to the soul of great devotee speaking to Krïsnā Himself. “I am a poor old spent force; I do not deserve any luxury to be carried to heavens by pushpaka vimana. All that I need is that my son - Krïsnā - be at close proximity so that I can ever be looking at him in all His Glory & to look after Him”. As if - it was shameful to stand in front of such an old woman’s unselfish devotion to Krïsnā, the flying-machine itself deviated from its path and flew away in a different direction & vanished. Then Shyamala-varna-Krïsnā Himself came over to old woman’s soul. “You are my beloved Mother. I must always act only as per your wish”. He transformed Subhadra ‘s soul into a pair of shining ear ornaments - Makara Kundalams (in Tamil) - that dangled from His ear-lobes. Makara Kundalams in “ecstasy” began speaking with motherly affection into His ears. The sun was hidden behind the clouds and about to rise from the horizon. A silver lining in overcast sky that was filled with stratus & nimbus. It began to drizzle. Navneet returned home: took head-bath and in tearing hurry - reached the temple drenched in rains. Without batting an eyelid, he looked at the idol of Krïsnā . The spots on the idol where he had daily seen a bit of cow-dung stands replaced with shining dangling golden ear-drops illuminating the sanctum. Warm tears once again, jerked from Navneet’s closed eyes & me too!