"A man must be willing to die for his wife." - Radhanath Swami
[With Pitambar Gauranga's and Gokul Vilasini's permission, I have published this story]
I'm at Gokul Vilasini's bridal shower here in Columbus, and all the women's hands are decorated with fragrant henna. My own mehndi is drying on my palms. We go around the room to shower our love upon Gokul with memories that glorify her intense, chaste, and beautiful character.
But the guys keep crashing the party.
Granted, they're the videographers and photographers. But then Pitambar Gauranga himself descends the staircase. As entrance, all of us demand that he convince us why Gokul should marry him. His sincerity touches our hearts, and several eyes tear up.
"Okay, where's the ring?" Dhira Lalita calls out.
"Why?" Pitambar says.
"Look, Pitambar, you're in America now," he teases, "You gotta get down on one knee and pop the question."
How funny - the pair is getting married on Friday! The roomful of women at the party laughs. Many of us scoot forward.
Pitambar produces the wedding ring and sweetly fumbles to get on one knee. Gokul laughs and laughs.
I suppress my giggles. In those suspended moments, I reflect on how only six months ago when I was traveling with Gokul in India, she was single and we often conversed about where our marriage fates would take us.
When Gokul called me in February to let me know of her engagement, I felt effervescent with happiness. I could hear the deep contentment in Gokul's voice. I asked, "Gokul, may I ask you a question?"
"Do you believe that Pitambar would die for you?"
Without hesitation she replied, "Yes, he would die for me."
"Oh yes. I got that sense within the first two weeks, even though he never said it."
So how hilarious that only now is this man getting down on one knee... two days before the wedding! It just goes to show that love goes much deeper than rings and proposals and even formal weddings. I wonder at what that spark is.
"Gokul Vilasini," Pitambar intones, "will you marry me?"
Everyone is grinning in silence. Gokul is still laughing, trying to keep a straight face. "Ummmmmmmm... YES!"
We all cheer and since our palms are covered with mehndi, we try to clap with the backs of our hands. Then Pitambar slips the wedding ring upon her finger.
A little while later, I come close to Gokul to bid goodnight. Our conversation is sober. Gokul says, "You know, Bhakti, I did not get all these facials, my nails done, or get so beautiful today with makeup and this nice salwar for Pitambar."
"Really?" I said.
"Yes, this is not for Pitambar. I feel like I am preparing myself for the beginning of my spiritual life. A life of service to Krishna."
And I realize that that is why Pitambar Gauranga would die for Gokul Vilasini.