From The Divine Sports of Krishna

Note: The three extracts below are from the Divine Sports of Krishna. Yashoda was Krishna’s adoptive mother in the village where he grew up. Mohan, Shyam and Gopal are among the names by which his devotees know him. Shesh is a traditional image of divinity, associated with great jewels.

Says Yashoda: People lecture me,
But I cannot help it.
Every time I see fresh butter fit for Mohan
I feel a pang.
Let me hug my little boy to my chest
And sing Him lullabies day and night,
Let me again indulge Him with sweets.
He for whose sake sages practise meditation
And Shiv wanders about covered in ashes,
Came to Gokul to sport as a child
And be tied to the mortal.
Now Hari is away
And yet my heart does not break
It must be made of flint.
O Sur Dasa, she asks,
How can one remain in Braj
Without the Lord and keep alive?


O Wood, how do you remain green?
Why have you not withered
In suffering through the absence of Shyam?
O trees! It was on your branches
That Mohan would rest as He played the flute.
Everything then was charmed and bewildered,
Both the moving and the fixed;
The sages broke their meditation.
You have forgotten the magic of his glance
Or you would not continue
To come out in flower.
Why are you not consumed
From top to bottom
By the forest-fire of longing
For the absent Lord of Sur Dasa?


Says a Gopi:
In what strange land will I find Gopal?
I will take the horn,
Ear-rings and begging-bowl
And assume the livery of a Yogini.
I will wear a patched robe
And smear my body with ashes,
With my hair knotted over my head.
For Hari’s sake,
I will relive the life of Gorakhnath
In the guise of Shiv.
I will follow the teachings of my Guru
“Sense of Separation”
And burn myself to ashes, body and soul.
O Sur, the Gopi concluded: Without Shyam,
I am like Shesh bereft of his jewel.

Extract from Chapter:
Selected verses

by A J Alston (translator)