Radha's one-hundred-year curseOne day Radha came to learn that Krishna was talking at great length with one of the gopis named Brinda. Radha became furious. She fully intended to scold and insult both Krishna and Brinda.
Brinda heard that Radha was burning with anger, and she was filled with fear. She did not know what the consequences would be and so she committed suicide.
Krishna happened to be with one of his dearest friends, Sridhama, when Radha arrived to give Krishna his scolding. Sridhama was always for Krishna, and he could not bear to hear Krishna insulted. Sridhama faced Radha and said, "If you scold my Lord even once, I shall curse you."
"It is I who am cursing you!" said Radha, her voice shaking with anger. "You have to take incarnation in a very low family, and you will suffer enormously."
Sridhama immediately responded, "Radha, I am cursing you. For one hundred years you will not be able to meet with my Lord. There will be a great separation for one hundred years!"
Radha and Sridhama exchanged their terrible curses and both the curses came true. In Radha's case, it is said that she was with Sri Krishna for the first eleven years of Krishna's life. Then Krishna left Brindaban and stayed in Mathura and other places for one hundred years. He was a king and a warrior. It was during this time that the battle of Kurakshetra took place and Krishna became the charioteer of Arjuna. Afterwards, Krishna retired and Radha came to be with him for the last fourteen years of his life. According to the Purana that contains this version, Sri Krishna lived for a total of 125 years.
If this story is true, and Krishna's lifespan was 125 years, then the story of the hunter whose arrow pierced Krishna's foot cannot be valid. It is said that this hunter was responsible for Krishna's earthly departure.
Once the battle of Kurukshetra was over, Krishna's son, Samba, was instigated by some relatives to misbehave. As a result, he was cursed by three great sages and Krishna's whole family was destroyed. The curse pronounced on Samba was preceded by the curse of Gandhari. She felt that Krishna could have prevented the war altogether.
In this particular version of the story, Radha does not re-enter Sri Krishna's life at all after their childhood together in Brindaban. Of course, there are some great Indian scholars who say that Radha did not even exist! They say it is all in the imagination-world. So many volumes have been written about the non-existence of Radha!
I am reminded of our greatest Vedantin scholar, Shankaracharya. He went from one end of India to the other, only to preach his philosophy that the world is unreal. People asked him, "If the world is unreal, as you say, why are you wasting your time going from place to place? From your room you can declare that the world is unreal. But we feel that this world is real."
Shankaracharya's answer was, "If I do not go from place to place and offer the message that the world is unreal, people will not hear my philosophy. You live in one place and your friends live in another place. I must also visit your friends to share my realisation with them."
Again, his critics asked, "If this world is unreal, why are you wasting your time and energy? Just pray to God to take you away!"
Shankaracharya said, "No, I cannot do that. God is asking me to tell people that the world is unreal."
There are so many funny, funny stories like this in our Indian history. I find them so entertaining and illumining. In the case of Sri Krishna, who is actually going to know what happened so long ago? Historians say that he lived five thousand years ago; but, according to me, he lived nine or ten thousand years ago. That is my inner feeling.
What we do know is that the supreme Lord Krishna is ever-transcending. Right from his very birth, he performed miracle after miracle. Even today, thousands of years later, his consciousness is guiding us, illumining us and protecting us in unimaginable ways.