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On another occasion, when Krishna came to Bindreben, the Devatas, in honour of the moon shining in her meridian lustre, had adorned themselves in variegated chains of pearls and rubies, had robed themselves in vestments of rose-colour, and rubbed themselves with saffron, so that the earth received fresh splendour from their appearance, and a warm and sweet air breathed around, when Krishna began to play on his flute. Immediately on hearing it, the Gopias all left their several occupations unfinished, and ran out to listen. Krishna affected to ask them “ if all was well at home? ” He then proceeded to give them some good advice upon their duties to their husbands, and so forth; when one of them said, “ that when frenzy and distraction seized the mind, all duties and all earthly motives were overturned and forgotten; that if he ordered them to go, they were lame; but if he called them to him, they flew." Krishna perceiving them thus sincerely inflamed would not be too harsh with them, but took each of them in his arms, and treated them with equal tenderness; so that all the happiness and transport which are to be found in the world were collected in one place, in the hearts of the Gopias. Whenever they turned Krishna was close to them; and as women naturally acquiesce in the truth of an idea that pleases them, they concluded Krishna to be equally fond of them.‘
Krishna, however, contrived to play them a slippery trick; for after having buoyed them up with hopes, he all on a sudden vanished from their sight, leaving them staring around them in astonishment and despair, and interrogating every tree, flower, and blade of grass, to obtain information of their faithless swain, which they at length effectually discovered him to be, as they too soon ascertained that another damsel had occupied his attentions. They then became frantic with grief; till Krishma, taking pity upon them, again made his appearance, when they worshipped him with flowers, and “ caressed him, expressing in different languages, actions, and attitudes, the same passion.”
All this excessive joy terminated in (what is not an unusual event) a rasumandalmj' or dance, in which Krishna multiplied his form in proportion
1- Of this dance Mr. Holwell has given a neat plate in his Historical Events; and Major Moor a very pretty one in his Hindu Pantheon, in which Krishna and a fair companion, playing on flutes and dancing, are in the centre; and eight females, with as many forms of the god, dancing round them ; six other females are playing upon various instruments. Krishna has been astronomically considered as the sun, with the planets moving round
to the number of the Gopias, and giving each of them a hand, caused each to believe that he was close to her side. “In that agitation of the feet, and delicate motion of the limbs and waist, all the refinement of the oriental dance 'was exhibited. The moisture of perspiration came on the cheeks of the Gopias, their hair was dishevelled, and their jetty tresses trembled over their necks, resembling black snakes feeding on the due qf the hyacinth.” The enjoyment of Krishna with the Gopias, ‘and the Gopias with Krishna, is, concludes Mr. Maurice, a mystery, and cannot be described. Sir William Jones also says, they circulate the cup, but no material goblet.
Of the pastoral nymphs just described (of whom see a whimsical story under the head of N areda), Krishna is said to have possessed sixteen thousand. Sir William Jones, in his Dissertation on the musical Modes of the Hindus, says: “ in the literature of the Hindus all nature is animated and personified; every fine art is declared to have been revealed from heaven, and all knowledge, divine and human, is traced to its source in the Vedas.” In their science of music, he adds, that in the days of Krishna there were sixteen thousand ragas, or musical modes, each of the Gopias of Mathura chusing to sing one to captivate the heart of their pastoral god. It has thus been assumed, that the sixteen thousand mistresses of Krishna were nothing else than the sixteen thousand ragas, which delighted the Apollo of the Hindus. The Brahmans aver, that his numerous love adventures were all maya, or illusion ; and describe him as a perfect Joseph in regularity and goodness.
After these specimens, I think I may spare the reader a recapitulation of the other love adventures of Krishna. Suffice it, therefore, to say, that, like his victories, they were numerous; and that at length, following the example of other satiated votaries of dissipation, he married, and to prove more effectually his penitence, took unto himself eight wives, of whom Rukmini, an incarnation of Lakshmi, was the principal.‘ But as the reformation of rakes is seldom permanent, he speedily forsook the haven of domestic enjoyment to revel again in the arms of his mistress, the beautiful Rhada, also deemed an incarnation of the same goddess, with whom he is
' To understand this, and the far larger portion of Hindu Mythology, in the shortest way, it will be well to agree with Vishnu—that it is maya, or illusion. ‘
commonly worshipped. An annual festival, to celebrate the birth of this god, is held in the month
Bhadra. On this day his worshippers fast; but, on the conclusion of the worship, indulge themselves in music, dancing, singing, and various other festivities. ‘
In the month Shravunu another festival is held in honour of him, which lasts from three to five days, during which the same festivities prevail; to which is added the ceremony of swinging the image of the god in a chair, suspended from the ceiling.
In the month Kartiku a third festival takes place to celebrate his revels, which have been before described, among the Gopias; and in the month Phalgoonu is also held the celebrated swinging festival of the dolu, the ceremonies of which last fifteen days, and are accompanied with great splendour and festivity. During these holidays the Hindus spend the night in singing and dancing, and wandering about the streets besmeared with the dolu (a red) powder, in the day time, carrying a quantity of the same powder about with them, which, with much noise and rejoicing, they throw over the different passengers they may meet in their rambles. Music, dancing, fire-works, singing, and many obscenities take place on this occasion. The intelligent missionary, Ward, has given descriptions of these festivals, in which he says: “ At these times I have seen the greyheaded idolater and the mad youth dancing together; the old man lifting up his withered arms in the dance, and giving a kind of horror to the scene, which idolatry itself, united to the vivacity of youth, could scarcely be able to inspire.”
Krishna is also worshipped under his infant form as Gopalu and Balagopalu, and again as Gopee-nat’hu, the god of the milk-maids.
In the picture of Krishna, observes Sir William Jones, it is impossible not to discover, at the first glance, the features of Apollo, surnamed Nomios, or the pastoral, in Greece, and Opifir in Italy, who fed the herds of Admetus, and slew the serpent Python.
The celebrated mistress of Krishna, was, in her mortal form, the wife of a. cowherd of Gokal, whom she lived with in a forest near the J umna. Her image is set up in the temples, and worshipped ‘at the festivals with that of Krishna. (Fig. 5, plate 12.)
NINTH and TENTH AVATARS.
The ninth avatar of Vishnu, or his incarnation as Buddha, will be noticed under the head of Buddha: the tenth, or Kalki avatar, I have already mentioned in a preceding page. Fig. 1, plate 13, from a compartment in the temple of Rama, represents Vishnu richly apparelled, with a drawn sword in his hand, kneeling in front of a winged horse, whose fore foot is raised from the. ground, prepared to announce the destruction of the universe.
WHETHER we consider this universal deity (alike, through all ages and all climes, the object of the poet’s, the hero’s, the blockhead’s, and the wise man’s invocation), as Anteros with his leaden arrow; or as the beauteous Eros with his golden dart; as the Egyptian Horus with the wings of the Etesian winds, or as the Hindu adored Camdeo, with bee-strung bow and flower-tipped shaft ; whether we consider him as the son of Jupiter, or Mars and Venus; of Porus the god of counsel, and Penia the goddess of poverty; of Coelus and Terra, or of Zephyrus and Flora; or as the son of Brahma, or of Vishnu, or Krishna, or (which heaven forefend) of Maya or illusion ; this we know :—
“ Whate’er thy seat, whate‘er thy name,
All animals to thee their tribute bring,
And hail thee universal king.”
This deity is represented as the child of Brahma, and subsequently as the illusive offspring of Vishnu and Lakshmi, in their avatars as Krishna and Rukmini. He is hence called the son of Maya, or illusion. In his first birth, as the son of Brahma, he was promised by that god dominion over the hearts of the inhabitants of the three worlds; and that himself, Vishnu, and Siva, would be subject to his power The malicious urchin, upon obtaining this promise, immediately let fly an arrow, and pierced the