Razdan Sahib's Puranic Picture Gallery
KRISHNA JOO RAZDAN's "Maharaja Mahadevun Che Chhui Saal" is a superb Puranic picture gallery. In this devotional lyric cosmos is the studio-cum-exhibition hall, Lord Vishnu is the model and Krishna Joo Razdan, incognite as Narada, is the inspired literary painter. The bard's devout imagination, telescoping Lord Vishnu's variegated associated exploits, objectified them on literary canvas. Like impressionistic painters, Krishna Joo paints diverse fleeting associations conjured up by his unique model. Each quatrain in the lyric is a picture-frame exhibiting two or more pictures. Here the model remains unaltered but there are constant changes in the perspective.
Narada, journeying through the vast cosmic expanses, informs Lord Vishnu about developments in the celestial regions. He invites Lord Vishnu to Lord Mahadeva's marriage. Krishna Joo Razdan, incognite as Narada, paints ingratiating memories associted with his unique model. In the incarnation as Lord Rama, Lord Vishnu showers bounteous love upon Mother Sita. By quickening up the associated memories of the readers, Krishna Joo conjures up the picture of Lord Rama and Mother Sita enjoying perfect conjugal bliss.
Radha-Krishna Deep Love
He juxtaposes with it a picture depicting deep love between Lord Krishna and Mother Radha. In the same frame he fits in the portrait of Lord Krishna lifting the Goverdhan mountain to protect the cows, cowherds and calves against the torrential rain sent by jealous Lord Indira to lash the Gokul landscape. Next Krishna Joo paints Lord Krishna enjoying butter offered with love by Ma Jessuda. He conjures up infant Krishna with butter-besmeared mouth and face playing pranks about Jessuda. Alongside with this picture is placed the picture of Kubza whose hunch is set right as she unhestitatingly applies sandal paste to Lord Krishna's forehead meant especially for Kans, the king of Mathura. This is followed by a suggestive painting of Sudama offering Lord Krishna rice chaff to eat.
Shrimad Bhagwatam mentions that Sudama was one of the dearest boyhood friends of Lord Krishna. One cold rainy evening he was munching some grains. On enquiry he attributed chattering of his teeth to intense cold. This false statement subjected him to perpetual penury in his later life. Once he is directed by his wife, Sushila, to seek help of his boyhood friend who is now the king of Dwarika. In the royal place, Sudama is received very warmly. Lord Krishna himself washes clean his tired feet. Sudama has brought for Lord Krishna some chaffy rice. The Lord enjoys a handful of the offering of love. He is prevented from enjoying more by Rukmini. She fears that the kind Lord will bestow everything upon Sudama rendering his own person and family impecunious. This incident too is the content of a picture in Razdan Sahib's picture gallery.
Bhagwatam & Ramayana Juxtaposed
Sugreve, the king of Kishkindha, is driven out of his capital city by his unrighteous brother Bali. Along with his faithful lieutenants, he retires to a hilly eminence where Bali is destined to die under a curse pronounced by a sage. Lord Rughvir befriends Sugreve and, after killing lascivious Bali, he places upon his head the crown of Kishkindha. Vibhishana, deserting the camp of his demoniacal brother Ravana, joins Lord Rughvir in Kishkindha. He is enthroned in exile as the king of Lanka. Bali Dhaanav, the demon king, is bestowed the underworld for his generosity. These three Puranic episodes are held by a single picture-frame forming the fourth quatrain of the poem. Feeling envious of the tremendous popularity of Lord Krishna, Lord Brahma, the god with three heads, hides away all his calves and cowherd companiuns in a cave. Lord Krishna creates all the stolen creatures himself. This abashes Brahma. Lord Krishna forgives Brahma's insolence. Krishna Joo paints this episode without going too deep into its ontological implications. He feels ecstatic while painting Lord Krishna dancing with the gopis. Devki, the dear sister of Kansa, is married to the Yadhava prince Vaasudev. When the newly wedded couple are driven towards Vasudev's country, the elements predict Kansa's death at the hands of Devki's offspring. Thereupon, Kansa imprisons Devki and her husband. He assassinates Devki's six babies in succession and Lord Krishna, the seventh, is spared by divine intercession. As Lord Krishna grows up, he kills Kansa for the restoration of moral order. Leaving his foster mother, Yashodha, in Gokul, he comes to Mathura. At the request of Devki, he brings to life the six children which she has lost. These children later become Gandharvas. This Puranic episode forms the sixth picture-frame in Razdan Sahib's picture gallery.
On the completion of his education at Sandipini's hermitage, the guru asks his illustrious disciple to bring to life his son drowned in a naval tragedy. Lord Krishna jumps into the sea and retrieves alive the son of his guru. Krishna Joo paints this episode in the seventh and the eight quatrains which run into each other In shrimad Bhagvatam there is mention of Shankhasur. This demon unleashes terror and unrighteousness all around. When pursued by superior righteous strength, he hides himself in the vast conch shell which forms his abode. Lord Krishna jumps into the sea and challenges to a battle the demon who has been perpetrating horrible atrocities upon the devout. Shankhasur is killed and his conch shell, called Panch Janya, becomes a coveted possession of the yaadavas. This episode too is the content of one of the pictures lightly sketched by Krishna Joo.
Spirituality in Devotion
As the Pandavas are befriended by Lord Krishna during their exile, they recognize the essential divinity of their kinsman. They start supplicating before him in deep devotion. This is resented by a contemporary prince, Shishupal, who regards Krishna nothing better than a common cowherd. Shishupal nourishes grudge against Krishna also for eloping away with his sister Rukmini, Lord Krishna, the merciful, forgives Shishupal's impertinence a number of times. He cuts off Shishupal's head with his rotating disc (Sudharshan Chakra) as the latter persists in pouring forth abusive language. This cpisode too forms one of the painted canvases in Krishna Joo's vast picture gallery.
With his carnal passions perfectly under control, Lord Krishna dallies with 16108 ladies and maidens. Razdan Sahib paints this fact with light verbal strokes. Lord Krishna's separate dalliance with each gopi is an objectification of the essential oneness of God. Lord Krishna sows rubies from a string which, first changing the sapling, develop into sizeable trees bearing rubies on boughs and branches. Collecting these rubis the messenger from Radhika grows quite rich. In this picture-frame, Razdan Sahib also includes the spectacle of a pearly shower sent by Lord Shiva to lash the Kashmir landscape. At the end of the frieze, Razdan Sahib juxtaposes the portraits of Lord Vishnu and Lord Mahesh with their divine consorts Laxmi and Gauri.
Razdan's Perpetual Struggle
Spiritual progress enjoins an arduous effort. Spiritual bliss and enlightenment are realizable only through constant meditation and assiduous observance of high psycho-physical discipline. This is manifest from Krishna Joo Razdan's all devotional lyrics. We observe him as a seeker constantly seeking to realize Brahman. Sometimes, he is a dualist with an impersonal concept of God. Soon he becomes a dualist with a personal concept of God. Again he feels that Advaita Vedantic monism is the highest truth. The bard's imagination, surcharged with devotional ecstasy, keeps shifting constantly from one point of view to the other. He is obviously living the experiences which he is communicating through his devotional lyrics. Being a true devotee of God, he feels divine contemplation an existential indispensability. He is painfully conscious about the dwindling numbers of Kashmiri Pandit community. He fears its complete extirpation due to the prevalence of numerous social evils.
Razdan Sahib is proud of Kashmiri language which is the principal medium of his poetic expression. He regards it dearest to the Mother Goddess. He is convinced that salvation for Kashmiris is attainable only by singing praises of the Mother Goddess in Kashmiri language. Razdan Sahib's poetry objectifies his perpetual struggle for comprehending the mysterium tremendum enveloping man all around.
Idealism is the school of philosophy which regards God or Brahman as the ultimate reality. This Philosophy is the bed-rock of all religions of the world. Some philosophers believe that man and God are essentially one. God is attainable by directing sense perceptions inwards towards the self. This is the cardinal viewpoint of subjective idealists. Essential Brahminism too is subjective idealism. There are other idealists who, recognizing the existence of God, consider Him an entity separate from man. For them, God directs the course of nature. He is an entity outside man. Man is answerable for his actions to God on the day of resurrection. This type of idealism is called objective idealism. It is the main philosophic content of the religions like Islam and Christianity.
In some of his lyries, we observe Razdan Sahib marshalling the basic postulates of objective idealism. There are others in which subjective idealism is the poet's predominant philosophical preoccupation. He discerns greater rectitude in the subjective philosophical postulates. In one of his poems, he advocates observance of Islamic practices for the enjoyment of spiritual bliss. Razdan Sahib's lyrics objectify the great bard's patient perpetual struggle for comprehending the mystery of existence. He perpetually investigates the validity of polytheistic and monistic religious concepts. He is sometimes a polytheist objectifying his devotion separately for Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. In such moods, Rama and Krishna are two different incarnations. But at the same time, he regards all the principal gods of Hindu pantheon a single entity. God appears to him permeating every cosmic object around. In the concluding couplets of Maharaja Mahadevun Che Chuui Saal, he reveals his belief in the essential monistic nature of God. He longs for the realisation of the eternal truth of advaita vedantic monism and desires to realise his essential oneness with God.