|Articles published on this website in the past
Lord Krishna's birth anniversary falls on a Bahula Ashtami (eighth day in second half) of the month of
Lord Krishna is a very popular god among Hindus. He is regarded as an embodiment of love, and in his
lifetime there was mass movement of people to express love to him. He had many wives but that was routine in
those times for kings to marry many women. But since Chaithanya of Bengal, Saint Meera of Rajasthan and
many other great religious leaders brought forth the concept that Sri Krishna is the most benevolent god, fit to
be loved passionately, Lord Krishna has been very noticeable. Saint Meera fell in love with a toy figure of
Krishna in her childhood and when she grew up to be a beautiful lady she refused to accept anyone else as
her husband. When she was forced to marry a prince she yielded, but she is said to have refused to sleep with
him. She composed hundreds of love songs, which have been rendered into different musical compositions
and sung by famous singers. The saint herself used to sing these songs in such beautiful and sweet voice that
the audience used to sway from one side to the other and go into trance. She used to go into trance herself and
become ecstatic. Finally when she was about 47 years old, she disappeared behind a large portrait of Sri
Krishna, never to be seen again.
Sri Chaithanya Mahaprabhu of Bengal before Meera was the other famous Krishna devotee who regarded
Sri Krishna as the source of love and happiness in the world. He composed hundreds of songs in Bengali
language, in praise of Sri Krishna and sang them in the typical Bengali style. He roamed around in the
countryside and in urban regions singing and dancing. His singing and dancing was so appealing and alluring
that the princes and paupers alike to sing and dance in their presence sought after the saint. He also gathered
a large number of followers who did the same thing what Chaithanya Mahaprabhu did; they sang the songs he
composed and danced to the tunes. Chaithanya Mahaprabhu was using a two-string Indian guitar, which gave
him base melody wherever he sang and danced. His songs were not just the Sri Krishna songs but the
compositions that contained all moral and civil mannerisms for a happy life in this world. He used to exhort the
people to sing in praise of Sri Krishna and thereby forget the worries of the world.
Sri Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
This society has been propagating the religion of Sri Krishna through out the world and it has been carrying out
great much social work for the welfare of people of all walks of life no matter what religion they professed.
There are thousands of temples and Mathas in India dedicated to Sri Krishna. Some of these temples
were built about 1000 years ago. Saint Meera's temple in Chittodgadh in Rajasthan is an example of a temple
built in the 17th century.
The story of Lord Krishna is truly fascinating. There are many versions of the story and most of them depict
Sri Krishna as a super-human. He is also projected as one of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The story
that is told in the epic Mahabharata is probably the oldest version; the story that is told in the Bhaagavatha
Puraana is probably the most mythical. It is hard to sift through these many versions and write a rational
account of the life of Sri Krishna.
Sri Krishna is not just a mythological figure. He was a historical figure having lived before the Christian era.
The exact dates of his birth and death are not certain because there is no agreement on the dates given by
different authors. Sri Krishna was born in the Yaadava dynasty of which we know of King Ugrasena of Mathura,
being the grandfather of Krishna. Krishna's mother Devaki was the daughter of Ugrasena. Kamsa the elder
son of Ugrasena was wicked and cruel. He imprisoned his father and usurped the kingdom. This led to more
bickering in the palace and the situation was complicated by a prophecy that the eighth child of Devaki will
destroy Kamsa. Devaki was married to Vasudeva. Kamsa kept them also in prison like his father. However, the
husband and wife were allowed to live together in prison. King Kamsa decided to kill every child that was born
to Devaki soon after birth so that none of the children would grow up to kill him. As soon as a child was born to
Devaki, the king Kamsa would come and take away the child to kill it without delay. Devaki bore eight children,
of which Kamsa killed the first seven newborns but the eighth escaped, the eighth being Krishna.
Krishna was born at midnight in the prison cell. There was heavy rain outside with blowing wind, thunder
and lightening. Immediately after the birth of the child, the midwife placed the child in a wicker basket and gave
the basket to Vasudeva to carry it away. Vasudeva carried the basket with the child in it to the neighbouring
kingdom of King Nanda whose wife Yashoda had given birth to a baby girl at exactly the same time as Krishna.
Vasudeva exchanged the two babies and placed the newborn baby girl in the wicker-basket. Krishna was now
safe in the lap of his new mother Yashoda. Vasudeva carried the wicker-basket with the baby girl inside to the
prison and placed it in the lap of Devaki. Kamsa came after all this happened. The causes for the delay in his
arrival were many; first, he was informed of the birth quite late, as the prison guards were fast asleep as usual.
No one expected Devaki to give birth to a baby on that night. Secondly, heavy rains outside delayed the
departure of the guards to Kamsa's rooms. Kamsa also took it easy because of the rains to walk to the prison.
There was just enough time for Vasudeva to switch the babies. Kamsa came and carried away the newborn
baby girl and killed it without any mercy. Thus the future Lord Krishna was saved from death almost
The childhood and adolescence of Sri Krishna are full of stories of his feats, many of which are to explain
his super-human capabilities. It is said that Kamsa came to know of the switching of the babies and that the
real son of Devaki was growing in his rival king Nanda's palace. He began to device plans to kill the child and
sent a few of his men and women to do the job. But he did not succeed. He sent Pootani, a woman who can kill
little babies by breast-feeding them. Krishna sucked her heart out and she died. Two wrestlers were sent to
wrestle with Krishna, but Krishna and his elder brother Balaram killed both of them. There are stories of other
heroic activities of Sri Krishna when he was growing up in Nanda Gokul, the palace of King Nanda. One of
them is about his strength. There was heavy rain and the town got flooded and submerged. At that time Krishna
lifted the Govardhan Mountain and asked the people to come and set up temporary homes under the mountain,
until the waters receded. Another story is about his courage. There was a very big 5 headed serpent by the
name of Kalinga in the river Yamuna giving hard times to the townspeople. Krishna jumped into the river and
beat up the serpent with his bare hands. Kalinga was not killed; instead he was made to run far away from
Kamsa thus found himself insecure and feared that he might be killed by Krishna. So he set up another
plan to kill Krishna first. He arranged a competition in his palace and invited Krishna to participate. Krishna and
Balarama came and won the competition and as they were receiving the trophies and gifts they suddenly drew
their swords and killed Kamsa. Thus ended Kamsa's story.
Krishna was a contemporary of the Pandavas and Kauravas who fought the Mahabharatha war. Krishna
played an important role as a friend of the Pandavas. The story of Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas is the most
significant one. Dharmaraya, the eldest of the Pandava brothers played Chaduranga game with Duryodhana,
the eldest of the Kaurava brothers and kept losing. He wagers all his possessions and then wagers his wife
Draupadi also. He looses in this game also and Draupadi becomes the slave of the Kauravas. At this time the
Kauravas decided to humiliate the Pandavas and Draupadi was subjected to molestation. Dushasana, a
younger brother of Duryodhana tries to strip Draupadi naked by pulling her saree away. Draupadi finds that her
husbands are mute spectators of her plight because they had wagered themselves in the game and lost. They
too had become slaves of Kauravas. Draupadi then prays for Krishna to come and help her. Krishna with his
super-natural power makes Draupadi's saree unendingly long. Although Dushasana pulled hundreds of
meters of the saree, it never got finished and Draupadi remained fully covered by her saree. Dushasana got
tired and fell down unconscious. After this episode the blind Dhritharaashtra (Dritha-raash-tra), the father of the
Kauravas felt pity on Dharmaraya and returned everything to the Pandavas, everything the Pandavas had lost in
the Chaduranga game. Pandavas returned to their Kingdom's capital city Indraprastha (Indra-prastha), and
lived there happily.
Meanwhile Kauravas became impatient and hatched another plan to grab the kingdom of the Pandavas.
They invited Pandavas again to play the game but not wager any person. Whoever looses will have to go and
live in the forest for 12 years and then spend one-year incognito. In the year of disguise, if anybody gets
detected then they will have to return to the forest for another 12 years and spend one more year incognito. Both
the parties agreed to this condition and began to play the game. The Pandavas lost again and as per the rules
they had to leave their kingdom to the Kauravas and go and live in the forest. They left meekly and suffered
innumerable hardships in the forest. However they survived the 12 years and began to live incognito as
servants in the palace of king Virata. Even King Virata and his men did not know that these newly arrived
servants were Pandavas.
Fortunately the incognito year passed without the Pandavas being recognised. After the completion of
the year the Pandavas returned to the Kauravas and asked them to give them their kingdom back. But the
Kauravas raised objection after objection like in a court and held back the kingdom from the Pandavas. At this
the Pandavas decided to wage a war on Kauravas.
Sri Krishna was related to Pandavas by his mother. Hence Krishna was close to Pandavas. He did not
want them to fight. He attempted a truce first by meeting the Kauravas and advising them not to choose war for
settling the problem. But Kauravas did not listen. They were bent upon solving the problem through a fight
between the brothers. The Mahabharatha war thus began.
Sri Krishna is the god who piloted the chariot of Arjuna, the third brother among Pandavas in the war.
Arjuna first feels ashamed and hesitant to go to war against his own kith and kin, like Bhishma (the aged
uncle), Drona, the coach of the family in Archery, etc. But Krishna unfolds the Bhagavath Gita to Arjuna and
prepares him to undertake the fighting as his sacred duty. Krishna suggests to Arjuna not to think about the
fruits of his duty, but only concentrate on what is to be done. Do well all that is to be done and the fruits will
materialize on their own, he said. Bhagavath Gita has become one of the most informative books in Hinduism.
Finally Arjuna agrees to fight and the war gets started. The war lasts for 18 days and ends with the death of all
the Kaurava brothers and survival of all the Pandava brothers. Many soldiers and their commanders were slain
in the war. The Pandavas get back their kingdom, but they appoint a close relative of the Kauravas to rule over
that part of the Kingdom, which belonged to the Kauravas originally.
Krishna's story does not end with the end of the war. Krishna moves from Mathura to Dwarka situated at
the tip of Gujarath peninsula on the shores of the Gulf of Kutch. Dwarka city becomes his new Capital. There
are many stories written on the love life of Krishna. His first wife was Rukmini. Later he marries Radha. The
episodes of love between Rukmini and Krishna and Radha and Krishna fascinated hundreds of poets who got
inspiration to write millions of love songs, which are popular in all sections of Hindu society. Sri Krishna had
many other wives. There were many wars that Krishna fought with his feudatory states. He used to marry all the
women that were captured from the palaces in the conquered kingdom following any war. He probably had
thousands of children from these wives and all of them claimed themselves to belong to the Yadava dynasty.
Although Sri Krishna is revered as god incarnation, his profile in the community of Hindus is that of a child
playing a flute, or standing leaning on a cow, sitting on a high branch of a tree watching the bare-bodied
maidens in the stream below, a charioteer instructing Arjuna the sacred Bhagavat Gita or a hundred-headed
and two hundred-armed god exhibiting his Virat pose, etc. His portraits are a worthy collection in temples and
Mathas and millions of Hindus offer him prayers everyday. For many Hindus he is personified as representing
Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara, the trinity gods of Hinduism. By chanting 'Hare Krishna, Hare Ram' he is
personified as Lord Raama also. It can be said that Sri Krishna is the easiest of all gods to pray and the one
who will grant any kind of boon for any devotee.
|Sri Krishna Jayanthi
By Mohan Shenoy
24th August, 2008, Page 1