The 3 Divisions of Sakhas
Krishna has innumerable friends. Even great mystics cannot count their numbers. Of all complexions, tall-dwarf, thin-fat, of all types. All are handsome, with eyes like lotus petals, and of the blissful nature. Some are grave, while others humorous, but none of them are dull-faced. These Sakhas have three divisions. In age, some are elder to Krishna. In these, friendship is mixed with a slight tinge of paternal love. They do not want Krishna to undertake even the slightest pain. This division often carries out the Cow grazing pastime. The other equal-aged gopas, though in age might be elder or equal to Krishna, Krishna treats them as his equal. These are well-known as Priya Narma Sakhas. Krishna never hides his intimate secrets from them and they also aid him in his amorous pastimes. The third division, is the group of those younger to Krishna. Krishna’s infinite love and affection has been endowed on them and to give Krishna pleasure, leisure and rest, these keep following Him during the games.
Dau and Krishna are non-different
Dau and Krishna are non-different. Their bodies are two, but souls are one. (Here, even if you want to make a differentiation between body and soul- Although such a differentiation doesn’t even exist here). Hence, in the midst of the Sakha groups both are alike. Some engage in play with Dau, while others engage with Krishna.
The Sakhas of higher age groups
The female companions (Sakhi) of KirtiKumari (Radharani) are 8 in principal, likewise, in Krishna’s group of Sakhas, 12 are foremost. 4 Sakhas of the higher-age groups- 1) Arjun, 2) Vishal, 3) Rishabha and 4) Varuthapa. Among Which, Vishal, Arjun and Rishaba are his own brothers. They are the sons of his Tau and Chacha. Their descriptions have already been mentioned along with their fathers’ description. Varuthapa is the son of the Gopa leader (GopaNayaka). A twofolded- a little wide body, stout, and of the hue of swarthy rain clouds, he ties a rainbow coloured turban. He is the governing official of the cow grazing pastime. He decides where the cows be let loose to graze, where should they feast on waters, where have fresh grass emerged in the meadows. It is a different case, if naughty Krishna changes his mind and Vauthapa’s plans are rendered non-effective.
The Priya Narma Sakhas- Sakhas of Krishna’s age group
Among the Priya Narma Sakhas- Madhumangala, Bhadrasena, Sridama and Subala are foremost. Just like in the sakhas of higher-age-groups, each Sakha follows the commandments of their respective authority among the principal 4, similarly the Sakhas of this division, fall under the jurisdiction of 3 of these, since the 4rth one, Madhumangala is an Avadhoota (renunciant). He doesn’t keep followers. Sridama and Subala are the sons of Sri Vrishabhanu Baba. All the Sakhas from Barasana accept the followership of any one of these two.
Krishna listens to Bhadrasena
All Sakhas regard Bhadrasena as their Commander-in-chief. It is Bhadra who administers the Sakha troops, this is what is said, but in reality, Bhadra has to only attend to Krishna. Nanda Nandana is so delicate, and innocent, that he is even oblivious of his hunger, thirst and fatigue. He is so fun-loving that no one can predict, what pranks he is up to. Taking Daudada as an exception, he only listens to Bhadra to a certain degree. Hence, it is Bhadra who looks after him time to time, and during this parenting, he keeps ordering any Sakha be it young or old, without hesitation, as he feels right. May be due to this commanding nature of his, all call him their commander-in-chief (Sanepati). All accept his authority. Bhadra is a brother, but a slightly elder brother. Though all call him the Jyestha Putra of Nandan Chacha, he identifies himself as the companion and elder brother of Krishna, and Baba-Maiya have never denied it.
How old is Madhumangala?
No one knows how old Madhumanga is. All say- “He is the lord of the Yogis (Yogeshwar).” Age is under his control. He is even elder to Dau Dada, but just slightly older does he seem compared to Krishna, and in our Golok, no one lessens or increases. All have a constant eternal age. Like, Krishna is 17 years old. Bhadra is 10 months older to him and Dada is older to Bhadra by 1-1/2 months. Madhumangala seems as old as Bhadra. Madhumangala sometimes recites the Vedic hymns along with Rishi Shandilya and turns into a Pandita. But we all know him as a Ponga Pandit (Bogus).
Madhumangala- the jolly friend of Krishna
Fair as Camphor, a long face, a round belly, a slightly rotund body, Madhumangal is extremely humorous. The old women, youthful damsels and girl children, he calls all of them “Ma” with an equal eye. If they retort back- he will say- “What happened, if you are not now, then you will become ‘Ma’ later.” He is such an Avadhuta, that sometimes he would be seen wearing a fat Brahmin thread, while at other times, he would remove it and garland it on Krishna or someone else. He does wear a tilak on his forehead, but Krishna and all others paint whatever they please on his stomach, back, arms and cheeks. The modal lover- Madhumangal neither keeps cows nor grazes them. He comes to the forest just to be in Krishna’s company. Quite less does he participate in running games and sportive competitions. He will either sit or lay on the grass. Being a Brahmin he is voracious eater, and keeps reinstating this right of his, but he says- In curds-ghee, sweets etc, leftover in not an offence. Krishna and all of us love feeding him to the brim. He is our jester.
Krishna teases Sridama
Sridama is the eldest son of Vrishabhanu Baba. The Yujaraj (crownprince) of Vrishbhanupura (Barasana). He is a little elder to Krishna, but is fragile and tender (Sukumar) in bodily appearance. Rose-fair in complexion, He wears a blue garment, just like his sister. He adorns a peacock feather on his hair. Sridama is very simple hearted, innocent and very loving. Krishna keeps teasing him. On being teased, he too enters the battle with Him. When both start fighting, Bhadra calms Sridama down by explaining to him. But Sridama is faced with a dual dilemma. He says- “If Baba comes to know that I have come after fighting with Krishna, he won’t let me even enter the palace. My sister wont’ even see my face.” He loves his sister more than his life. But Krishna is so naughty, that he wouldn’t stop till he ends up fighting, teasing and irritating him.