OM NAMO BHAGAVATHE VAASUDEVAAYA
On hearing from Brahma and the Devas about the increase in the atrocities of the Asuric forces in the world, Lord Sri Maha Vishnu assured them HE would relieve the world of such difficulties as early as possible.
Accordingly HE decided to take birth in the Yadu dynasty and be born as the son of DEVAKI and VASUDEVA.
MATHURA was ruled by URGRASENA. He was the ruler only in name. His son KAMSA of asuric(demonic) nature was very powerful and he was wielding power unlimitedly.
DEVAKI, the daughter of another Chief Devaka, was a cousin of Kamsa. Vasudeva married Devaki. On the wedding day Vasudeva and Devaki were taken in a procession through the streets of Mathura and Kamsa, the most self conceited prince, himself acted as the charioteer to the surprise of all.
While driving, came an incorporeal voice which ran thus, "Kamsa, the eighth child of this Devaki will kill you." At once the chariot stopped. Kamsa drew his sword and was about to kill his sister Devaki. Vasudeva tried his best to convince Kamsa in several ways but could not. Then wisely Vausudeva said, "Kamsa, the sons of this Devaki, I shall deliver to you the moment they are born. Please spare her".
Somehow Kamsa's mind changed and he let go the couple. Kamsa just then imprisoned his father and ascended the throne. He had married the two daughters of Jarasandha who was notorious for his wicked and cruel qualities. He called himself as the Emperor of MAGADHA empire.
Kamsa having become all in all in his State was naturally surrounded by evil-minded and characterless people who would never give him proper advice or guide him on right lines. So one day Kamsa put both Devaki and Vasudeva in prison.
In course of time children were born to Devaki. According to his word Vasudeva handed over all the children to Kamsa and Kamsa, in turn, would hold the two legs of the baby and dash it against a stone wall in the prison chamber itself in the presence of Devaki and Vasudeva. They had no other go than to tolerate this inhuman action and horrible sight.
Kamsa learnt that Devaki was in her eighth pregnancy. This upset him much, for this child was to kill him according the prophecy. He became unusually restless. The servants were increased and the supervision intensified in the prison. Days and months went by.
One day on the 8th day of the dark fortnight of SIMHA month when the constellation of ROHINI was in the ascendant Devaki delivered a male child in the prison room. Vasudeva and Devaki saw the child with four arms, with the disc, conch, the Kausthuba gem on the chest, the mark of Srivatsa on the neck, dressed in peethambur(peetAmbara means yellow clothes/garments), with Vanamali garland and the crown. Both of them bent low with folded hands and the next moment they saw only an ordinary child.
The child spoke thus: "Take me at once to Gokulam and there Yasodha has just now delivered a female child. Leave me by the side of Yasodha and bring the female child over here. You will not find any difficulty in executing this work. Be quick".
Vasudeva took the child in a basket and came out of the cell.To his wonder there was a downpour of very heavy rain. He moved on. He saw all the servants in sould sleep - all the doors and locks opened by themselves - he stepped out of the building and walked in the street - he did not feel the rain - he felt that something like a big umbrella was moving over his head along with him - he reached the Yamuna river which was over flowing - to his wonder the river made way - he crossed the river - entered Gokulam - the whole village was under spell of sleep - he entered Nanda's house - the female baby was there by her side of Yasoda - he left his boy baby by her side - took the girl baby - came out and safely reached the prison.
How all this happened was incomprehensible to Vasudeva himself.
The moment the female baby was laid by the side of Devaki she began to cry making a hell of noise. The attendants jumped up from their slumber and one ran to the place to inform King Kamsa of the birth of the child. By this time, the rain too had decreased.
Kamsa had no sleep and was awake when the servant gave him the news. He ran to the prison. He seized the child by its legs as usual in haste. Devaki and Vasudeva implored him not to kill the child, for it was a female one and he need have no fear from it. Nothing fell into his ears and he lifted his hand with the child to dash it against the stone wall when he felt that the child had slipped away from his grip. Simultaneously he heard a derisive laughter. He turned towards the direction of the sound and there high in the sky he saw a small divine figure saying, "Fool what is the use of killing me? He who would put an end to you is born elsewhere," and vanished.
Kamsa was confounded and went back to his palace.
Kamsa at once commissioned one POOTHANA, a demoness to kill all the babies in the land born recently. Poothana in obedience to the order began her work vigorously. On the tenth day she entered Gokulam taking the form of a beautiful and charming lady. She came to Yosoda's bouse. All the ladies took her to be from a noble family and allowed her to be in their midst.
Poothana was wonder struck to see that most attractive baby lying in the cradle. She thought, "What a comely child! How graceful! How divinely radiant! How I wish I take this child, hug him and kiss him with all my heart!" The next moment she remembered the orders of the cruel king and if she failed in her duty she knew the punishment too. She had come there prepared with poison painted breasts to give a suckle to the child. She at once took the child and kissing him put him on her breasts. No one doubted anything and no one knew whether the child suckled her milk or suckled her life. The next moment Poothana fell flat with a loud shriek and was dead.
A big commotion there was in the courtyard. All understood the sinister motive of the women only then.
Kamsa began his work of destruction of innocent babies and baby Krishna too began the work of destruction of evil and destructive elements in His own away.
SAKATA in the form of a cart was overthrown by the kick of the child Krishna who was less than three months old.
TRINAVARTA who came in the form of a tornado to kill baby Krishna was strangled to death.
VATSAASURA who came in the form of a calf while Krishna and Balarama were tending the calves, was spotted by the brothers. Krishna went near the calf as if he was going near any other calf caught hold of the hind legs and wheeled it fiercely and sent it against a wood-apple tree and made short of it.
BAKA ASURA came in the form of a huge crane and suddenly swallowed Krishna. But Krishna burnt his throat and the crane vomited Krishna and died.
AGHA ASURA Krishna and his friends one morning started to graze the calves. They all went with a herd of calves. A demon Agha saw this and took the form of a gigantic python laid himself on the way with his cave-like mouth wide open. His intention was to devour all of them. All the calves and boys entered and were passing through the tunnel like way. Last Krishna entered and the giant python closed his mouth. Krishna at once swelled in size until the head of the python burst and all of them came out. The giant lay there dead.
DHENUKA ASURA came in the form of a cowherd desiring to carry the brothers away. They all began to play a game in which one had to carry the other. It happened Pralamba bore Balarama who knowing the fact became heavier and heavier and Pralamba could move no further. The asura became desperate stroke with his fist killed Pralamba. We can give many more instances of these two divine boys killing the most powerful demons sent by Kamsa specially to kill Krishna.
One day Balarama came in great haste to mother Yasoda and complained that Krishna had eaten mud. Questioned by Yasoda Krishna flatly denied it. The mother not satisfied with the reply asked Child Krishna to open his mouth. And there Yasoda saw the universe, the sky, mountains, rivers, sun, moon, stars and everything including herself and Krishna. She understood her folly and the superhuman nature of her son.
The boy Krishna was very mischievous as he grew older and older. On a certain occasion she was unable to attend to any of her domestic work. So she wanted to bind him with a rope to a heavy mortar. As she did it she found the rope to be shorter by two inches. She brought another and joined it. Now too the rope was two inches short. Again and again she joined fresh pieces but still she found the rope shorter only. She got vexed and sat down. Krishna took pity on his mother and finally got bound. She went in to work with a sigh of relief. But this little Krishna slowly began to move on all fours dragging the mortar behind and reached the backyard. There in the backyard stood a pair of tall Arjuna trees. The child steadily went near them and entered in the space between the trees. The impact made the trees fall down with great noise. To the wonder of all who came running, on hearing the sound there stood two divine beings in the place of the trees paying obeisance to child Krishna. Then the tow slowly rose to the sky and disappeared.
There was one big five headed venomous serpent in a portion of the Yamuna river making the water and the very atmosphere poisonous. Many animals, men and even birds died due to that. One day boy Krishna suddenly jumped into the water where the serpent called KALIYA dwelt. There was a fierce fight between the serpent and Krishna and in the end Kaliya was subdued. The serpent left the place for good.
One day the people of Gokulam became very busy. On enquiry Krishna understood that a festival to propitiate INDRA, the rain GOD, was to be celebrated. Krishna asked his father Nanda why they were doing so. Nanda replied, "Indra is the rain god. He gives us rain in their due seasons and we live happily. So we are doing this to please Indra." Krishna calmly said, "Father, we live by ours cows. We are living near the forests and by the side of mountains. Our cows get fodder in the meadows and on the slopes of the mountains. We are all happy because of our cows, the pastures, the mountains, etc. So please stop the festival of Indra and let us all begin to worship cows, mountains and the like".
This was convincing to the elders. So they stopped the usual festival. Indra felt wounded. He became angry. He let loose a host of clouds and ordered them to work havoc for seven days and nights. The downpour of rain was heavy, the village was inundated, the elders feared that next few minutes would see all the men and cattle being washed away by the unprecedented flood. They all sought refuge in Krishna.
Uprooting the GOVARDHAN mountain with a single hand, he held it aloft as an umbrella. He loudly called all the Gopas and Gopis to come and take shelter under the mountain with their cows and calves. They did so. After seven days the rain stopped. Indra understood his follyt, came to Krishna and begged His pardon.
In the same manner Brahma once become curious to know if really boy Krishna was divine. One day Krishna and his friends started early in the morning carrying their breakfast with about fifty calves for the grazing ground. The calves were grazing in the nearby meadow. There was a rivulet with crystal clear water. The boys felt hungry. Krishna set with them on the bank of that small river and began taking breakfast. After sometimes a boy wanted to find out if the calves were in tact. To his surprise they could not be seen at all. He raised a hue and cry. Krishna asked them to be calm and wanted them to continue their repast. He himself went in search of the calves. Having failed to find them out, he returned and to his surprise all his mates also had disappeared.
In a moment he understood that it was a mischief of Brahma. A few moments passed in perplexity. Then Krishna transformed himself into both the cowherd boys and calves. In the evening as usual the cowherd boys with their calves went home. This drama continued for one full year. It is said tha a day of the gods is a year for men. Brahma at the end of the day wanted to see the state of affairs in Gokulam.
As Brahma was looking on, all the cowherd boys appeared as the LORD - darkblue - dressed in yellow peethambur with conch, discus, mace and lotus in the hands, with diadems, etc. Behind each calf also the creator saw the Lord. Brahma, understood his miscalculation and foolishness, came to Krishna and apoligised.
Krishna was very good at playing on flute. He would give divine music out of his flute and even animals and reptiles used to become motionless at that music. Regarding human beings we need have no comments.
Child Krishna was loved by every blessed individual in VRAJA. Every Gopi loved child Krishna as her own child and this attitude continued even as child Krishna grew up into boy-hood. He called every girl as his sister and every girl took him to be her brother. So also every woman felt Krishna was her darling son and really loved Krishna more than she would her own son. And Krishna in turn called every lady in Gokulam and Vrindavan as his mother and would take all liberties as a son would with his mother. The girls, the young women, middle aged ladies and old ladies loved this wonderful boy from the bottom of their heard because they liked his prattle, his conversation, his mischief, his sweet gestures, his enchanting music, his play, his enticing smile, his affectionate look and sometimes his highly philosophical advise even as a boy.
On one full moon day he played on his flute. The enchanting music attracted all the ladies of Vraja and they all left their homes and were around him. He began to advise them, to their surprise, that they ought not to have come there in that dark night leaving their aged parents, husbands, babies and children.
Once this wonderful boy Krishna wanted to teach them a lesson because he found that pride and self conceit had entered their mind. So as he was playing hide and seek with them he suddenly disappeared. He did not appear for a long time. Then at last they understood their foolishness and began singing praises about him, at the same time assuring him of their sincerity. They said in one voice that they look refuge only under him. Then did he appear before them and began to play.
As he was playing with one girl many joined him and young and old ladies too come and joined the play. At once being pleased with them, he wished to satisfy every one of the Vraja female folk. He multiplied himself into as many as the number of the Gopis present there, forming a big circle he began to dance with them moving round and round, in conformity with the wonderful divine music that emanated from the flute of that one Krishna standing in the middle of the circle with crossed legs, with peethambur, vanamali garland and the diadem of peacock feather.
Thus during his stay in Gokulam which was only during his BOY-HOOD, he tried to please every female and male, young and old. He behaved with them in such a manner that everyone from girls to grannies loved him dearly.
It was at this time when this wonderful boy Krishna had made such a strong impact on the minds of thepeople of Gokulam and Vrindavan, Narada met Kamsa and told him that this unconquerable boy was the eigth son of Devaki. Narada warned Kamsa, "O ! Kamsa this boy is going to be your death".
Kamsa took the warning and thought "For the past ten or eleven years I have been trying to put an end to this boy and I have met with failure - not only that, I have lost many of my ablest men. I must get rid of the boys (Balarama and Krishna)." Just then an idea flashed in his mind - that a Bow Festival could be arranged. Nanda Gopa and his two sons Balarama and Krishna could be invited when both the brothers would be asked to take part in the various games, sword play, wrestling etc. (Even as young boys, Kamsa had heard that they were good at all such activities). When they came and took part in the festival he would contrive such methods as to kill the two boys by fair means of foul."
Kamsa selected the pious AKRURA on of his courtiers, to inform Nanda about the festival and bring the two boys forthwith to MATHURA to take part in the Bow Festival. Akrura knew the evil intention of Kamsa, still he had to obey the magisterial orders. He went to Gokulam informed and invited Nanda Gopa who was a vassal of Kamsa, and with his permission took the boys too to Mathura. Akrura was very sad. But Krishan showed his divine form to Akrura on the bed of the river when Akrura had a dip in it on the way. Akrura was now convinced that the two were of divine origin.
When the two brothers were passing through the streets of the city they saw a hunch-backed young lady. Accosting her, Krishna learnt she was supplying scents and find smelling pastes to Kamsa. He asked her to give him some agreeable scented paste. She gave him the best unguent. Krishna was pleased. He pressed one of her feet with his lotus foot and putting two fingers under her chin gave her an upward jerk. When, to the surprise of all standing in the street there was no TRIVAKRA (the three crooked) for that was her name - instead they saw a most beautiful young lady.
Just then Krishna thought of having a look at the arena where the festival was to take place. He went into the big enclosure and found the big and mighty bow placed in a specially raised platform. It was guarded by a few soldiers. Krishna suddenly lifted the bow with his left hand and bent it to string, when it snapped in the middle.
Krishna and Balarama went their way as if nothing had happened. The noise made by the bow while it broke was heard throughout the town of Mathura. Kamsa felt the bow incident gave him a severe warning of the impending catastrophe.
Nothing daunted Kamsa pushed on his plan.
The next day - the day of the grand carnival - as Krishna entered the main gate the royal elephant madly charged against Krishna and attacked him with extreme fury. But, Krishna, as if he knew it already, calmly pounced on the elephant, broke one of the tusks and was on its head the next moment. Just then Balarama gave the elephant a powerful kick on its side and it fell down flat. Krishna took this opportunity and put an end to the animal.
As he entered the arena Krishna was challenges for a duel in wrestling by CHANDRA the strongest and ablest wrestler in Krishna's court. At the same time Balarama was challenged by another equally strong wrestler by name MUSHTICA. Both the wrestlers of the Royal court were defeated and killed in the event.
Kamsa seeing this became completely confused and unnerved. While in that state Krishna with all quickness and agility jumped to the throne placed at a fairly high level, took hold of Kamsa by the hair, pushed him down and with a few blows with his fist sent him to the land of death.
Thus the tyrant's life came to an end.
Ugrasena was again made the King of Mathura.
Krishna's boy-hood days saw only a part of the purpose of his incarnation completed. Still there was much more to be done.
A separate chapter begins in the life of Krishna from now on. He never visited Vrindavan again. He had to undergo a disciplined life under a teacher Sage SANDIPINI by name. Both the brothers were initated in the knowledge of Vedas as well as martial arts. Krishna excelled every one during his Brahmachharya. It is said that the brothers imbibed everything on a single utterance by the preceptor.
From now on begins a stormy life in the career of Krishna and Balarama.
Of the many kingdoms that flourshed in Aryavarta in those days Magada was most powerful. It was ruled by the demoniac Jarasanda. His ambition was to bring the whole Arya world under his hegemony. He selected many princes who were akin to him in their qualities. One such was Kamsa. Jarasanda saw in Kamsa cruelty, asuric nature, mercilessness and several other very bad traits which he liked. So he determined to make Kamsa his lieutenant. With this in view Jarasanda gave his two daughters ASTI and PRAPTI in marriage to Kamsa. Now Kamsa was killed by his own nephew Krishna - a mere boy - cowherd boy. Two aspects affected Jarasanda. His daughters were widowed. He had lost a trustworthy friend and ally. Hence he now planned to do away with the brothers Krishna and Balarama. The brothers and the Yadavas of Mathura came to know of the determination of Magadan emperor and were upset. But the two brothers also made up their minds to thwart any such dangers from Jarasanda. Jarasanda tried many times to do away with Krishna and Balarama. Every time the brothers gave him a slip. Jarasanda now changed his course of action. He wanted to attack Mathura suddenly from the east and simultaneously his very cruel and barbaric friend KALAYAVANA would attack Mathura from the west. Spies reported to Krishna about this. This made Krishna think deeply. The Yadavas as a whole became nervous for they knew they could never survive if this happened. When the position came to this Krishna managed to convines the Yadavas for a migration to some far off land.
It was the time when Balarama had married REVATHI a princess from one of the kingdoms on the shores of SAURASHTRA. Revathi's father was of great help to the Yadava brothers in building the island city of DWARAKA in the far off west coast. To that place moved the Yadavas with bag and baggage, all movables, cattle and horses; leaving Mathura as an open city. They reached Dwaraka by the clever guidance of Krishna, of course experiencing great difficulty on the way. There they settled down and became prosperous very quickly. No doubt Jarasanda was disappointed.
Just then Jarasanda planned to knit the royal families of CHEDI and VIDHARBA by marrying Rukmini the princess of Vidharba to Sisupala the Prince of Chedi. This again was defeated because Krishna came during the Swayamvara at thespecial request of Rukmini herself and carried her away under the very nose of Jarasanda and other kings who had assembled there.
Magada, Panchala, Vidharba, Chedi and the Kuru kingdoms were important in those days. While Vidharba become the kingdom of Krishna's father-in-law the Kuru kingdom also came closer to him because the Pandavas were the son of Krishna's aunt (Father's sister) Hastinapura wat the capital of the Kuru kingdom. Duryodhana and his brothers were the sons of Dhritharastra, the bline, called the Kauravas. Yudhistra and his four brothers were the sons of Pandu called the Pandavas. Pandu was Dhritharastra's brother. This kingdom was under the control of Bhishma, who was also reverentially addressed as Pithamaha (Grand-father). The Kauravas were the embodiment of vice and adharma while the Pandavas were perfect followers of Dharma. There was a lot of enimity between the cousins due to family feud. Since Pandavas were dharmic and also happened to be Krishna's very close relatives Krishna naturally had to evince keen in their affairs.
The cousins came to an understanding which resulted in the Pandavas getting a portion of kingdom to rule over. At that time Yudhistra the eldest of the Pandavas and who ruled over his kingdom wanted to perform the Rajasuya Sacrifice. This meant that the Pandavas should bring all the other kings under their hegemony. This was impossible so long as Jarasanda was there. On Krishna's advice Bhima challenged Jarasanda for a duel and with Krishna's indirect help Bhima killed Jarasanda. This demoniac and cruel king had under his custody 99 kings as prisoners. All those were let free by Krishna and they without a word became the vassals of Yudhistra. Here we can find how diplomatic Krishna was.
Due to the cunningness of Sukuni, the uncle of Duryodhana, Dharmaputra yielded to play a game of dice much against the wish of his brothers and elders. Unfortunately the eldest of the Pandavas lost everything and had to go on exile for 13 years.
After returning from the exile they asked for their share of the kingdom which was flatly refused by the Kauravas. Now a was become inevitable, Krishna no doubt tried to avert a war and so he went to Hastinapura as an ambassador of peace. He no doubt failed in this attempt. But he cleverly brought a situation when Vidura broke his most powerful bow and declared that he would not fight for either. This was important because there was no warrior in Aryavarta who could stand before Vidura including Arjuna. Vidura was a borther of Dhritharasthara and Pandu. He was wise, valorous, honest, straight forward and a master bowman. He was the prime minister of the Kuru kinddom. For certain political reasons he had to be on the side of the Kauravas.
Karna was another to be dealt with equal diplomacy. Karna was in fact the eldest of the Pandavas. Due to conspiracy of circumstances Karna had to be abandoned at birth by his mother Kunti. But baby Karna was picked up by a charioteer and was brought up. Duryodhana found Karna to be a great warrior and an expert archer. So Karna joined the royal palace as the best friend of Duryodhana. Karna was equal to Arjuna in every respect if not better. He will be certainly a great impediment to win the war. So with great forethought Krishna directed Kunti to meet Karna, prove to him that he was her son, try to wean him over to the Pandava side - failing which atleast to get certain concessions from him in favour of her sons. One would see such tactful yet judicious interference by Krishna during his life time only to maintain Dharma.
The war was declared and the venue was Krurkshetra. The crafty Krishna solved a very knotty problem in any easy manner. Before the war, both Arjuna and Duryodhana went to Krishna to elicit his co-operation. Krishna began, "Well Duryodhana, also Arjuna, listen. My brother Balarama is going away on a pilgrimage. He does not want to side either of you. I for my part have taken a vow that I would not wield any weapon in this war. I give you two alternatives. One - myself alone without any weapon and two the entire Yadhava army with all the arms and ammunition. Select whichever you like." Duryodhana preferred the latter. So the problem was solved. Krishna took a whip in his hand and acted as a Chariot driver to Arjuna.
Such a diplomatic Krishan now becomes the world's Supreme Teacher.
The army on both the sides was drawn up in battle array facing each other. Arjuna requested Krishna to drive the chariot to a place from where he could see the entire battlefield. When they were moving between the two armies Arjuna asked Krishna to stop the chariot. Krishna as an obedient driver stopped. Here a miserable change of mind came over Arjuna. It was really pathetic to see Arjuna in that mental state and Arjuna refused to fight. Therefore the necessity arose to bring out the warrior in Arjuna which had collapsed just then. The advice given by Krishna to Arjuna on that momentous occasion on the battlefield is the world renowned BHAGAVAD GITA. In the end of his sermon, Krishna revealed his true entity which resulted in Arjuna giving up his despondency, delution and fear of the consequences and made him understand his duty as Kshatria and that he should do his duty for duty's sake unmindful of the results of his action while dedicating all his action to the Lord. The war began and the Pandavas came out victorious.
Krishna as a child, as a boy, as an adult had weeded out many evil minded and wicked people himself. Still he had to wait until the end of this Kurukshetra war to complete the work of his Avatar.
During the war too Krishna had to interfere on very important occasions either to save Arjuna or to help keep Arjuna's pledge or help Dharma to win for only then Dharma would be protected or Dharma would be established.
At the close of the war all the evil forces were annihilated. Still Krishna had no peace of mind, for his own men the yadhavas had taken to drinking and dissipation due to excessive prosperity and became uncontrollable. Krishna had to wait for 36 years after this war when the invincible Yadhavas fought among themselves on the shores of the Sourashtra and died at the hands of one another.
Balarama went to a far off place on the shores and left mortal coil by yoga. Krishna felt the time was ripe for him also to leave for his divine adobe. He was lying in a forest in the midst of some bushes. A hunter mistook his feet for some game and sent an arrow which proved fatal. Krishna quit the world ones for all.