A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Beauty
lies in the eyes of the beholder. Everything and anything is beautiful
in God’s creation provided we have an eye for it. The calm flowing
river, the gushing waters of a water fall, a mountain rage, a small flower
on it, the cooing of a cuckoo, the rainbow, the stars, the rustling of
leaves, the whispering rocks, the roaring of the lion are but a few examples
of the wide range of sights and sounds of nature. The eye that sees them,
the ear that hears them is equally beautiful. Only a beautiful thing can
appreciate beauty. Also Beauty can be appreciated as a whole and not as
a part. The waves of the ocean are beautiful when they are blended with
the vast ocean. A sunflower is beautiful when it is watched with yellow
bed of sunflowers spreading to infinity. An admirer of beauty admires
whatever he likes, irrespective of the feelings of others. He is above
the mundane world. Here is the story of such a person, who was not understood
by the people around initially.
A young man was passing through a house and he stood there wonderstruck.
He happened to see a young lady combing her hair at the threshold of her
house. Her beauty could not be described in words. She looked like an
angel born by mistake into an ordinary family. God seems to have created
her when he was in a specially good mood. There was grace in her looks.
The man had never seen such a startling beauty. He was fascinated by her
wonderful features and stood transfixed to the ground before her.
The poor lady, was unaware of the commotion she has created in a young
mind. She went inside the house but her image went inside his heart and
settled down there on a big throne. God alone knew how he walked back
home. He was unaware of what he was doing. He could not eat properly or
sleep properly. The eyes refused to see anything else.
At last night gave way to day. The young man hastened himself to her doorstep.
He found himself a place opposite the house and stood staring at the door
to have a full, clear view of his heart throb once again. The early rays
of sun produced scorching heat in the midday and were transformed into
the pleasant twilight, finally giving way to the dark light of the night.
But the lady did not step out of the house. All through the day he stood
determined though his mind entertained various feelings - he hoped to
see her, he wondered whether he could see her, he was beginning to doubt;
he was becoming disappointed, angry and frustrated. Tears rolled down
the cheek, but he did not move till night. The same farce continued the
second day. As the time rolled by, his feelings danced from one to another.
There was no trace of her at the end of the second day too. But he had
only two options. He should either see her or give up his life at her
doorstep. He was not willing to give up hope.
‘Who is she? Is she is married or unmarried? What is her caste?
If she is married, what is he to her? What does he expect her to do? Does
he know what he wants? If he doesn’t know why should he be mad?
If he knows, there is no need to be mad’. He had no answers to these
questions. He had never thought in these lines. He knew only one thing.
He was mad after her beauty and he wanted to see her again. That’s
all. He repeated the same when he was questioned.
A woman approached him on the third day and asked who he was. He raised
his eyebrows in enquiry of who she was. The woman read that question mark
on his face and introduced herself as the servant maid of the house.
His first reaction was so what? Can she fulfil my wish ? Is she a goddess
or a fairy? But all the same he spoke out his innermost thoughts freely.
‘I am a Brahmin boy. My name is Nandadas. I saw a beautiful lady
here three days ago. She was combing her hair then. I was lost in her
beauty. I have come back to see her to my heart’s content once again.
I will not eat or sleep till then’.
The servant maid was flabbergasted at his openness. Is he mad or is he
plain? She told him ‘She is my boss. She is a kshatriya lady and
‘I don’t care’.
How dare he say ‘I don’t care’ as if he had come to
buy an animal in a fair. Isn’t he ashamed of his behaviour ?
‘Ashamed ? Ah ! The word ashamed cannot be found in my dictionary.
The very God who has given her the beauty has given me eyes to appreciate
her beauty and you the tongue talk to me. Who is to be blamed for that
The maid had no answer for that. She simply asked, ‘Shall I tell
this to our boss ?’
‘It is left to you’.
The maid narrated how a young man had overnight become her fan and how
he was ready to give up his life for her sake. No lady can ever be indifferent
to praises ! She was curious to see her admirer. Without any second thought
she came out and stood at the entrance in a graceful manner for some time.
The young man had a feast to his eyes. He stared at her to his heart’s
content and this time he walked back home almost in the air. He was sorry
he had only two eyes to get a full view of her.
The next morning he duly stood before her like a lamp post. The servant
maid saw him, informed her, she stood outside he stared, she went in,
he walked back. Everything happened in a jiffy. His joy knew no bounds.
The same scene continued for quite a long time. One day this drama fell
into the eyes of her husband. The next day he beckoned Nandadas inside.
‘Why do you stand before our house?’ He explained, ‘Oh
sir! I happened to seeyour wife. I was madly impressed by her and I can’t
live without seeing her’.
The husband was shocked. He didn’t know how to treat this fanatic
of his wife. Is it madness or innocence? Should he appreciate his frankness
or should he punish him? He coolly asked him to go since, being a devotee
himself, he saw more of innocence than of madness.
Nandadas’ state of admiring continued unhindered. Slowly the news
spread in the neighbourhood. Gossip mongers added colour to it, they magnified
it and made the husband a butt of ridicule. The gossip reached the ears
of Nandadas but, as already mentioned, he was alove these petty feelings
of human beings.
The husband could not remain unperturbed, all the same could not drive
out Nandadas. Escapism was the only solution for it. He wanted to run
away from the scene. He thought of his guru Vittalnath in Gokulam. He
had to cross the Yamuna river. So he made arrangements with the boatman
for the next day.
How disgusting ! Nandadas was seated already in the boat they were to
sail by. He said point black he was going with them because he couldn’t
live without seeing her. The husband became wild. He made the boatman
usher him out of the boat.
Nandadas was left alone on the banks of the river. The boat sailed along
the river taking his heartthrob and his heart too. As he started beyond,
he saw the ripples of the river diverging towards him. They seem to convery
some message to him from the lady. As he was staring at them his vision
spread to the beauty of the river at large. Yamuna is the sacred river
for the Hindus. It speaks about the rasa leela of Lord Krishna. His admiration
of beauty shifted from a mortal lady to the immortal river, from a human
being to infinity. Poetry is spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings
and emotion. He let out spontaneously a song on Yamuna.
Oh Yamuna you flow as a river /
not for your sake
but for the sake of love
You came down to us from Heaven........
His appreciation of beauty of a mere lady spread to the praise of the
lady ‘Yamuna River’. Isn’t his love of beauty strange
and peculiar? What appealed to him in the lady? What appealed to him in
the waves ?
In the meanwhile the young couple reached their guru. The first question
the guru asked was, ‘Why did you leave the brahmin boy on the banks
of the river?’ Seeing surprise writ all over their face, the guru
explained, ‘Nandadas is a great bhakta. His sense of beauty has
a spiritual blend. You human beings couldn’t appreciate him’.
They fell before their guru and asked for forgiveness. The guru sent word
for Nandadas. Nandadas felt a sort of spiritual awakening as he saw the
guru. He fell to his feet. He realized his life purpose. He sang another
song extempore. It is a description of the wonderful scene of the rasaleela
Look there, over there
Lord Krishna’s magnificent face
Amidst gopikas on the banks of Yamuna.......
Thus he attained spiritual bliss.
This Nandadas was the son of Jeevanam, a devout brahmin in Rampur. He
was born in 1570. The pious atmosphere at home, sowed the seeds of bhakti
in Nandadas at a very early age. He was the first one to join any satsang
and the last to leave it.
Kabir das extolled the advantage of Satsang. It gives one the ability
to realize a true guru.
Nandadas lost his parents in his childhood. So he was brought up in grandfather’s
house. He was taught the sastras and sanskrit. He showed greater interest
in Bhagavatam. The grandfather sent him to Benares, the seat of Learning
to pursue further studies. There he was acquainted with Thulasi Das. This
friendship turned him to spiritual path.
After a few days Nanda Das proceeded on pilgrimmage along with few vaishnavites.
Thulasi Das felt it as a sign of turning point in his life. As is the
law of life, he had to face a hurdle race before he faced the turning
point. The hurdle race was the craze for the lady and the turning point
was the meeting of the guru Vittal das. His path is now clear, the goal
is set and he is ready. That’s the greatness of a guru.
Nandadas continued his spiritual path there, under the guidance of Vittalnath.
He was acquianted with the great saint Surdas who took him to the Zenith
of his devotion.
Goswami Vittalnath entrustsed the work of ‘Krishna tatva’
to eight bhaktas. The eldest was Surdas while the youngest was Nandadas.
They composed songs on the love story of Radha and Krishna. Nandy beautifully
described Krishna’s love for Radha along with his rasaleela. His
songs won the applause of people far and wide. His name and fame reached
the ears of Thulsidas. He was surprised to hear about Nanda das’
shift of devotion from Rama to Krishna.
He answered, Rama has one wife Krishna has many’.
His love for God can be felt to its peak in this song.
Oh heart ! If you desire to climb a mountain peak, reach Govardhana giri.
If you desire to live in a fine village go to Gokulam.
If you desire to live in a beautiful city, go to Madhura.
It goes on thus.
Nanda das desired to write Bhaghavatam in ordinary language so that every
common man could read it. Accordingly he wrote it, but it became a threat
to the very existence of great Sanskrit Pandits. They were highly paid
to explain, Bhagavatam written in Sanksrit to common man. Now they were
losing hold over them. This moved the heart of the saint. He assured them,
‘Don’t worry. I only thought of others. It didn’t strike
me that it could disturb your life style. I have no grudge against you.
My intention is not to make any one suffer. I see my lord Krishna in you.
So I will throw my writings into Yamuna river this very minute. ‘So
saying he threw nine volumes of Bhagavatam retaining the tenth one with
him. His love for all human beings can be gauged by this single incident.
Realizing God in one step and realizing God in everybody is yet another
step. Nandadas realized both.