Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Hot Milk of Religious Indignation

I recently read a story about the legend of the hot milk, which serves as an illustration of the eternal bond between Lord Krishna and His lover, Radha. It goes as follows:

While Radha was Krishna's love, she was never married to Him. However, the love Krishna had for her made those who were His wives jealous of her. Therefore, they wanted her to suffer for it. They boiled some milk and, telling Radha that the milk was sent by Krishna, gave it to her to drink. She happily drank the still-scalding-hot milk. However, upon returning to Krishna, the wives discovered it was
He who was suffering from painful ulcers as a result! It turns out that the bond between Krishna and Radha was so strong that He took her torment upon Himself.

Not only is this a variation of the timeless theme of God taking on our sufferings, but I also see another message laced through it, based upon how the wives treated Radha. Their jealousy is a kind of illustration of how "orthodox" worshipers of God might envy those who don't go through the established, official channels before experiencing a joyful relationship with God. There are some who, in spite of all the chanting, fasting, praying, self-deprivation, and other ritualistic observances that characterize their being legitimate adherents of ("married" to) their religion, are still not experiencing that blissful union with God. Meanwhile, others seem to bypass all those legalistic trimmings that come with what is supposedly a "proper marriage" to God and cultivate organically an authentic relationship with Him straight away, with no chanting, no fasting, no groveling, no church-attending or temple-visiting.
By having a close, vibrant, loving relationship with the Lord apart from involvement in any organized religion, one could be seen as a Radha of sorts -- deeply loved by (and in love with) God, outside the bonds of marriage/orthodoxy, and to the utter consternation of the wives/orthodox adherents.