Devotion is generally understood as love and respect for God. Though this feeling inheres in many in varying degrees, it is the extent of selflessness and humility that determines its purity.

Such devotion is defined as Para Bhakti — transparent, simple, pure and transcending all other concerns — and is exemplified by the pious wives of the rishis in Brindavan, pointed out Sri B. Sundarkumar in a discourse.

Once while tending the cows, Krishna, Balarama and other cowherds wandered much farther than the usual distance from Brindavan. Nearby, a group of rishis were engaged in an elaborate yagna with the aim of attaining the heavens, helped by their devout wives. When the cowherds felt extremely hungry, Krishna saw an opportunity to highlight the selfless nature of the rishi patnis. He sent the boys to request for some food from the rishis on His behalf. The rishis did not wish any disruption to the successful completion of the rituals and ignored their plea. The cowherds returned hungry and told Krishna about the attitude of the rishis.

Krishna then sent the boys to their wives with the same request for food. The reaction of the wives was the exact opposite. They were thrilled that Krishna was nearby and wanted the food they had prepared for the sacrifice. They rushed to His presence to offer the sacrificial food while their husbands had overlooked the fact that Krishna is the yagna, its master and the fruits of the same too. The blind adherence to rituals and fear of Kamsa kept them in their cocoon of selfishness; but the rishi patnis were enveloped by love and devotion to the Lord and spontaneously rushed to Him when there was an opportunity. Neither did they care about Kamsa nor any other likely repercussions, including admonitions from their husbands or other kith and kin.

Their wholesome devotion is juxtaposed with the mindset of their learned husbands, immersed in scriptures and staunchly adhering to rituals. This is yet another instance to highlight the truth that utter, selfless love to God fearlessly seeks His feet.

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