“Gundu mallige, shaavantige, roja hoovu,” calls out the flower vendor who passes by my house every morning. I pause in the middle of preparing my sweet offering for Krishna Jayanthi and hurry out to purchase some jasmine flowers from him. As he measures and hands over the length of flower I have requested, he says, “Wait, I will give you some roses too.” I reflexively say I don’t need them because I already have a few at home. He smiles at me and says ever so sweetly, “Madam, take them as a gift from me for Krishna’s pooja.”
I finish preparing my sweet and savouries and reach my in-laws place by the late afternoon. I’ve been very busy the past few days and this means there has been no time to prepare the usual number of items I do every Janmaashthami. I console myself with the thought that I will try to make up for it next time. Time flies as my mother in law and I work together to get everything ready for the final pooja to be offered to Krishna and dinner that will follow.
Once the ritualistic worship begins, I find my mind begin to center on my usual prayer asking Krishna to bless me with Jnana, Bhakti and Vairagya. I remember a story I once heard narrated in a satsang. Arjuna wanted to know how Krishna answers prayers and so, Krishna took him in invisible form to a village. There was a rich merchant who was praying to Krishna asking for more wealth. Krishna said, “Tathastu,” and he was blessed with even greater wealth. A little distance away, there was a poor milkman who was eking out a living by selling milk from the sole cow he owned who was tethered to a post outside the house. This milkman was praying to Krishna saying, “Teach me to surrender to you and grant me liberation.” Krishna said, “Tathastu,” and the cow outside the house fell down dead.
Arjuna was shocked and angry at Krishna’s actions and demanded to know why He gave wealth to an already rich man and took away the only source of livelihood of the poor milkman. Krishna smilingly explained, “I give everyone what they ask for. The rich man wanted only wealth; I gave it to him. The milkman wanted Me – so, I took away that which was the final obstacle preventing him from surrendering to and attaining Me!”
Even as I remember this story, I look at the flowers adorning the idols and pictures of Krishna. And for just a few moments, the handful of roses offered by my flower vendor seem to glow a bit brighter and Krishna seems to send a radiant smile my way.