She looked at herself appraisingly in the mirror. Her feet painted with an intricate henna design and framed with her delicate anklets. Her long skirt a dark green with tiny crystals twinkling in the light. Her blouse of a fabric woven with varying shades of green and blue and all of this standing out in sharp contrast to the bright yellow of her dupatta, veil. She smeared some kajal into her eyes and placed a red dot of vermillion on her forehead.
"I look irresistible", she thought to herself happily and mentally posed the question "What do you think my Beloved?" As her thoughts wandered familiarly to the One she loved, her eyes became softer and shone with a warm light.
She smiled as she remembered her conversation with Him where He had come to pacify her, acting as if He thought she was feeling lonely. She knew even then that He knew exactly what was in her heart but played along with the drama.
He had said to her, with eyes full of tears, "My Dearest One, I am so sorry I had to leave and haven't visited in so long, you must be so angry with me!"
"Why would You think such a thing?", she had replied, playing along and looking at him as woefully as she could.
"I had to go Radha, duty called! There is work I have to do and for that I cannot stay in Vrindavan. And yet I miss you very much and I fear that you feel abandoned by me."
Radha laughed, the sweet sound carried along by the breeze and saw the twinkle appear in His eyes as well. "When have You ever been away from me Krishna, that I should feel abandoned?"
Another spell of mirth caught hold of her and she had to wait awhile before she had the breath to continue, "Do you really think You could get away from me so easily? Every space in my heart and soul is filled only with You! Now drop this pretense and go back to Your kingdom and Your wives, they have more need of Your physical presence than I do "
Radha remembered how Krishna's expression had changed from sadness to the mischievous look she loved so much. She knew this was His way of teasing and testing her. She also knew just by looking into his wide, innocent, loving eyes that He felt her presence just as much as she felt His.
At the same time as Radha was reminiscing, many miles away Krishna awoke from a deep sleep to find a disturbance in the energy of his palace. Instantly he became aware of the source of trouble and prepared himself to play his part. As he walked out of his bedroom he saw his wife - in a state that would be described today as a sulk. Hair astrewn, washed but not combed, a simple sari not befitting a queen of her stature, no jewels or the usual make up, flowers and fragrances. She was sitting by the window looking out tearfully. As Krishna approached he saw the tears well up and roll down her cheeks, falling and staining the window sill below.
"What happened my Queen?", he asked in a voice full of concern, "Who has brought you to this state?" All he got in response was a loud sniff and more tears. "Please tell me, my dear." he said, softer this time while mussing her hair.
"I am upset with YOU." she said, her voice quivering and pushing his hand away.
"Me!", Krishna exclaimed feigning shock and bewilderment, "what have I done, everything was fine when we went to bed last night?"
"It's what happened while you were asleep," the words rushed out, "how could you do this again to me, don't you know how much it hurts? Don't I do everything a wife is meant to do? Then why do you still speak of Radha and her love in your dreams?", she finished and burst into loud sobs.
Krishna sank down next to her and gently pulled her into his arms. Stroking her hair he said softly, "Please give me time to explain this to you, I am sorry this has hurt you, however there is a reason behind why this has happened and in some time, it will be made clear to you. Will you give me the time?"
"What choice do I have?" was her response, she stood up out of his embrace and threatened "It better be a really good reason." and with that angrily wiped her tears and haughtily swept from the room.
Krishna sat still as a statue looking out of the window at the dawn breaking over his city and as the gentle morning breeze and bird songs made their way in to wish their Creator a good day, a plan formed in his mind. A key player in this plan was Narada whom Krishna called for a hasty conference when he went to his bathing chambers - one place where he could demand complete privacy even as a King!
A few days later the palace was in turmoil - Krishna was ill, he was writhing in his bed with an excruciating stomach ache and not a single one of the highly experienced doctors knew how to cure it. His wife was weeping at his bedside, wringing her hands in frustration, praying for her husband to be healed and making all the promises of fasts and penances she could think of to the Gods and Goddesses she believed in. At that point Narada walked in with his usual "Narayana, Narayana" and asked what the commotion was all about.
Krishna moaned from the bed and said, "Narada please help me, I am dying of pain (an audible gasp went around the room) and no one here is able to help!"
Narada says, "I know just the man to help you." and just as sudden as he came in, he vanishes and is back with a stranger who has a bag full of herbs and multi colored gems.
The physician walks around the bed, takes some measurements with his hands, rubs a few stones together and checks Krishna's breath on them and after just a few minutes declares, "I know exactly what troubles the King and the only solution to this is that someone needs to give him the dust from their feet. Only when he eats that will he be well."
At this announcement everyone shrinks back from Krishna's bed - to give the dust of their feet to the King to eat - unheard off, sacrilege, they would rot in Hell for such an act, surely the physician was mad and Narada the great prankster had pulled another trick from his hat. Seeing this response Krishna turned to his wife and whispered pitifully, "Please my dear, let me eat the dust of your feet, I cannot bear it any more!"
Her eyes widened in horror, if she did this for Krishna who was God himself for her, how would she ever be able to redeem herself. Meekly she said, "I cannot my Lord, I will have to go through the worst Hell and pain if I do this and I just cannot, please do not ask this of me!"
With a look of disappointment and pain Krishna turns to Narada and says, "Please go around the world and find me someone who will do this for me, please hurry!"
Instantly Narada is off and as per plan, reaches Vrindavan where Radha is sitting by a lake, lost in the thoughts of her Lord. As she sees Narada, Radha jumps up, gives Narada the respect he is due and asks him, "What brings you here, do you have tidings of my Beloved Krishna? I hope He is well!"
Narada looks at her sadly and sighs," Oh Radha, it is for Krishna that I am here, he is so unwell and no one is willing to give him the medicine he needs!"
"What is this," Radha cries, "how can it be that Krishna who is not only King in that city but also the Divine himself is being let down by His people?!" Radha wrings her hands in distress, "Tell me, what is this remedy, perhaps I can help?"
Narada says, "Krishna needs to eat the dust of someone's feet to be well."
"That's it?", says Radha and instantly she takes of her veil and rubs her feet on them. "Wait here!", she says to Narada and runs off in the direction of the homes in Vrindavan. In a few minutes she is back with her veil heavy with dust and she shoves this into Narada's hands saying, "Take this, there is enough dust from people's feet to cure a million Krishna's! "
"Whose?" asks Narada looking at her in wonder.
"All the gopis,off course. When I told them what was happening to Krishna, not a single one hesitated to add to this collection! Now go, quickly! before Krishna suffers another moment!", said Radha, her voice breaking and tears filling her eyes.
The dumbfounded Narada stared dazedly and seeing Radha's impatience found the voice to ask, "Don't they know that they may go to Hell for this?"
"Hell!", exclaimed Radha distractedly, "we would go to a thousand hells if we could help our Krishna! How does all this matter!" she said, angrily stamping her foot on the ground and setting her anklets tinkling, "you are wasting time, please leave and go back to Krishna!"
Narada departed smiling to himself and praising the Lord for his infinite manifestations of love. Nowhere had Narada seen such selfless love as Radha's and the gopis who cared little for themselves and cared only for their Divine Krishna. In a short time, he was once again by Krishna's side and held out the wrapped dust.
"Where did you get this from?" asked the shocked physicians.
"From Vrindavan, from Radha and the gopis. As soon as they heard Krishna was ill, they instantly wiped their feet on this cloth and handed it to me. Eat it Krishna and be relieved from this pain", ended Narada while holding out the opened cloth full of dust and dirt.
Krishna sat up and said, "I don't need to eat it, I am well already."
With this he dismissed all the courtiers and only his wife remained, her head bowed. "Now my dear, do you understand why Radha has this place in my heart? While you are my wife and we love each other dearly, even you refused to give me what I needed when I needed it the most! Radha on the other hand, has immersed herself completely in Me and thinks only of Me, without wanting anything in return, such is her Love that I am captivated and bound by it."
And thus it is that even today we find Radha next to Krishna, wherever Krishna is worshipped. Such love is hard to find in today's world of give and take, however it is only when we can love just for the sake of loving and see the Divine in ourselves and everywhere else, that we can also truly receive the unconditional love of the Divine.
"This is an adaptation of a story from the Srimad Bhagavatam. Some parts of this story are an embellishment to the original ."