Thursday, July 26, 2012

Krishna and Satya

The King of Khosala Nagnajit was very worried. He had a very intelligent and skilled daughter – Satya. Marriage proposals poured in from all kingdoms for seeking her hand in marriage…Satya uniformly refused all of them….Nagnajit was in a fix. He then talked to Satya (she is sometimes called as Nagnajiti)

‘Satya! You have refused all the marriage proposals…Why?’ He demanded anxiously from Satya,

Satya already knew whom she wanted to marry…But she felt very shy to admit that to her father…and besides there was also the question of whether …the man…would be interested in marrying her. Satya considered her father’s question and decided the best answer to the question, ‘Father! Organize a swayamvara for me…I wish to choose only the bravest man and marry him…’

Nagnajit looked at her suspiciously and asked her, ‘Why? Are you going to organize a competition for the princes coming for the swayamvara?’

Satya gave a clear smile as she nodded her head, ‘Father, we have seven bulls…bulls which cannot be controlled easily…anyone who could tame the bulls and yoke them…I will marry only that man…’

Nagnajit looked suspiciously at his daughter. The bulls were huge and ferocious…they could not be easily controlled, unless the king was brave and intelligent and was actually good in dealing with animals…

With a sudden flash, Nagnajit then realized whom Satya was aspiring to get married to and smiled to himself. He wholly appreciated her choice. He also secretly hoped that his daughter would get married to the man….

Nagnajit then organized a huge swayamvar and invited the kings from all over the countries. It was also mentioned that a competition would be organized to decide who married the princess. The Kings and Princes had all heard of Satya and all of them came to try their luck at the competition.

Finally the great day came. All the kings had come and were warmly welcomed by the King of Khosala. Huge palaces were built for the coming guests and huge dining halls were prepared for them…

The kings were also came prepared to show off their wealth and power. They came with thousands of elephants and horses and presented the king with many precious jewels…

The arrangements were excellent and everyone was in a mood to enjoy the hospitality of the king. 

The king then sat and watched the people enjoy themselves as the Kings and princes marveled at the beautiful kingdom. Soon they all assembled at the place of the competition. King Nagnajit spoke to them in a commanding voice, ‘I wish to thank all the Kings and Princes for graciously coming for the swayamvar….’ A loud cheer went on as the King smiled and continued, ‘Satya, is very intelligent and skilled…’ All the kings looked at the beautiful princess sitting with the king and they all smiled, ‘I wish to find the bravest king for my daughter….For this I organize a competition for all of you gathered here….I have seven bulls in the arena…’ On the king’s signal, seven ferocious bulls raced inside the arena. The bulls looked hefty and well-built and looked like they could fell a man by goring at them…. The cheering outside the arena grew louder. Each group which had come with the particular king cheered for him. The people of Khosala cheered loudly for their princess…

The king spoke after the crowd had become quiet, ‘The princess would marry the first prince who could yoke the seven wild bulls together….’ The cheering started again as King Nagnajit said, ‘May the best among you win!’

The king sat down as the cheering went on for a long time. The contest started….

One king got inside the arena, where the seven bulls were placed. No sooner had the king entered the arena, the bull charged on him. The king tried stopping the bull but it was of no use. The king ran away followed by booing from the crowds….The princes and the Kings came forward….But none of them could yoke even a single bull, let alone all the seven of them… 

Soon the princes and Kings were angry and annoyed with Nagnajit, They went and talked to him angrily, ‘If you do not wish to get your daughter married…why bother calling all of us…’ One of sputtered angrily. Nagnajit looked stunned as the King continued as the others nodded their head, ‘You set this task, because you knew it was impossible to do it…’ The kings angrily shouted as Nagnajit. 

Nagnajit was in a fix. He knew that his contest had failed. Not only had the person whom he had wanted to come for the swayamvara, failed to come, the contest was actually back firing on him….If the princes and the Kings got angry…he would have a full scale war on his hands…The kings and the princes would take this as a personal insult and then….Naganjit also realized that even if he averted the war, he could never organize another swayamvara like this…It would not be as well attended as this…

Nagnajit prayed that any one of the Kings would win the competition….

As an answer to his prayers, two dark people drove up in a chariot. They had come alone, with no army…no pomp…no show…just the two of them…But the confidence with which they arrived said it all…It was as if the two of them knew that they were enough to meet up to anything that all the kings and princes together could throw…

Krishna got down from the chariot…Arjuna who was acting as his charioteer, waited for Krishna to get down as he steadied the horses. Arjuna then got down and tied the chariot and boldly walked towards Nagnajit who was being harassed by the princes and kings.

As everyone was watching Nagnajit, no one noticed a smiling Satya…She had come forward to pacify the kings and princess…But watching the Dark Lord with Arjuna, she shyly moved away and went back to her throne. 

Krishna bowed to Nagnajit. ‘I heard that there is a swayamvar for Princess Satya! I wish to try my luck at winning her hand…’ Krishna looked around at the Kings and princes and asked mildly, ‘Am I too late for the competition?’

Nagnajit knew that Krishna was mocking the kings and princes and he resisted the urge to laugh aloud. He shook his head as the princes and kings looked angrily. Nagnajit focused his attention at Krishna, ‘No, my Krishna! As I explaining to these fine people…these are the rules….anyone who tames those seven bulls and yokes them would win Satya’s hand…’

The kings and princes watched on as Krishna said, ‘I would like to do that, my King!’ Nagnajit nodded and gave his permission.

Krishna entered the arena, Nagnajit and Satya watched with baited breath. The other kings and princes were watching with a mixture of nervousness and anger…Krishna grew up among cowherds…he daily took the cows to graze in the cows in the forests near Vrindavan….He was very adept with dealing with animals…None of the kings realized that the competition was organized by Satya to make Krishna come for her… Some other kings were thinking…Krishna just talks a lot…what will he do with these bulls…he will also run away like the others

Arjuna watched the kings and princes for any trouble. He knew what the kings and princes were talking about….He was not worried about Krishna…the thought of Krishna failing never occurred to him…He was just worried about what would happen after Krishna won Satya’s hand. Arjuna was a warrior and a good one…He knew the reason why Krishna had dragged him to the Swayamvara…Krishna expected trouble…and had brought Arjuna along for safety….Arjuna smiled as he saw Krishna…

Krishna saw the bulls who charged at him. Krishna skillfully caught one of the bull by the horn and tackled it…Surprised the bull fell on the mud… Krishna slowly and surely with a confidence of handling animals caught every bull and yoked them together….

The kings and the princes saw the seventh bull being yoked….they had seen it but they could not believe it…The bulls which looked ferocious when they were in the arena, looked like docile house cows before Krishna…The expert manner in which Krishna yoked up the bulls and smiled at Satya made the kings very angry….

The drums were beaten and pipes were played….The princess of Khosala was about to be married….

In midst of the loud music and louder cheering, Krishna majestically walked back from the arena with the bulls tethered to the yoke. 

One of the king started as Krishna entered the hall, ‘This is not right…You have insulted us Nagnajit…’ He looked at a surprised Nagnajit. Nagnajit spoke surprised, ‘What is wrong? It was a competition for all kings and princess…Krishna is the ruler of Dwaraka…He yoked the bulls, what is so unfair about it…’

The king snorted, ‘Ruler? Shame of you Nagnajit….You call him a ruler…He grew up among cowherds and…’

Another king angrily came up, ‘Why…what is so noble about him…He killed his own uncle….’

A king angrily pulled out his sword and pointed it at Krishna, ‘I do not think you are worthy of Satya’s hand…You will have to answer to my sword, if your marry her…’

Krishna pushed the sword with the tip of his finger. ‘The father is willing…the daughter is willing…’ Krishna said as he took the hand of a radiant Satya, ‘…and I won the competition…and you think it is unfair….’ Krishna rolled his eyes.

Arjuna caught Krishna’s eyes. Krishna shook his head. Not here….outside…Arjuna nodded his head and kept a lookout for the kings and princes…

One of the kings shouted, ‘I wage war against you Krishna…I declare war against you for this insult…’ He looked supportively at the other kings. Everyone saw the two dark confident men with a radiant woman in between them. Slowly the kings all nodded, ‘Yes…war it is…’ 

The kings yelled and called out for their troops asking them to stop the three of the them…Nagnajit watched the three of them a little worried. Krishna however looked at his father-in-law and gave him a reassuring smile…Nagnajit felt comforted and smiled…

Outside the city walls, all the kings were ready and waiting for Krishna and Arjuna to come out. Krishna looked at the newly wed Satya and then at the army outside. He sighed, ‘Arjuna! I just got married…I am in no mood to fight…’ He looked with amused eyes at Arjuna…

Arjuna almost laughed, ‘I was about to suggest it Krishna…I will handle this, just stay here…’ He said.

Krishna watched his friend with amused eyes as Satya looked bewildered. Krishna held her hands and shook his head, ‘Don’t worry, Satya! Arjuna is more than a match for them…’ Satya watched the huge army in front of her and looked uncertainly. 

Arjuna first went to the Kings and princes. ‘Please listen to me…Krishna won Satya fairly and she also loves him…Let us leave it at that…’

A king snorted, ‘Is this how you fight Arjuna….I cannot understand how you became to be known as a brave warrior…Stop talking and let us see who is stronger…’ The king said confidently looking at his huge army behind him…

Arjuna sighed and went back to his chariot, ‘They want war…’ He said crossly to Krishna. Krishna shrugged not saying anything. 

Arjuna plucked out his Gandiva and twanged it. A sound like thunder came from it…The kings and the princes began to feel uneasy. They saw Arjuna fire his first arrow…What could one man a single man, do to an army….The kings and princes were about to find the answer to that question the hard way….

The arrows from the Gandiva flew so fast that the kings and the princes and their army could not even make out the arrow…it just whizzed past them with a ferociously furious speed…The kings shot back…but it was like fighting with the rain…torrents and torrents of arrows shot forth with no respite…

Arjuna however was not here to destroy the people…He shot the arrows such that it just hit the bows and arrows of the enemies and broke all of them…He then shot arrows which burnt the dresses of the warriors….

Without their dresses, the kings and the princes all ran away…

Arjuna turned and saw Krishna triumphantly. Krishna smiled and nodded forward. Arjuna drove Satya and Krishna back to the city of Dwaraka….

-From the Bhagawat Purana

Monday, July 16, 2012

The death of Narakasura - the origins of Diwali

Hiranyaksha was a very bad demon. He terrorized all the people in earth and heavens alike. Unable to tolerate him anymore, the people went to Lord Vishnu to protect him from Hiranyaksha. Lord Vishnu promised to help them.

When Hiranyaksha came to know of this, he got about thinking…To protect the earth and its people, Lord Vishnu has to first find the earth…I am going to hide the earth itself so that Lord Vishnu would not be able to find it…Thinking thus, Hiranyaksha using his powers and might pushed the earth itself off its axis!

When Hiranyaksha touched the earth to push her, an asura was created out of the contact between Bhumadevi, the Mother Earth and Hiranyaksha….

The earth plummeted deep inside space. Lord Vishnu incarnated as a boar and held the earth in its horns and pushed her back in her axis. Lord Vishnu fought Hiranyaksha and defeated and killed him.

After he had won against Hirayaksha, Bhumadevi told Lord Vishnu about the asura who was created. Lord Vishnu got about thinking. He told Bhumadevi, ‘He is your son, Bhumadevi! He will be very powerful and strong just like Hiranyaksha.’

Bhumadevi looked at Lord Vishnu and said apprehensively, ‘Would he also be a terrible demon like Hiranyaksha?’

Lord Vishnu sadly nodded his head, ‘There is every chance that he may be like Hiranyaksha….In fact he may be even more powerful than Hiranyaksha. I think you may be the only person who may be able to defeat him…’

Bhumadevi looked at Lord Vishnu without understanding…Lord Vishnu shook his head. ‘Let us not bother about it now. We will worry about it when the time comes.’ Still not satisfied Bhumadevi reluctantly nodded her head, as Lord Vishnu returned to Vaikunta.

Meanwhile the asura who was created, grew up to be strong and powerful. The asura was named Narakasura. Banasura who was a powerful asura saw Narakasura’s strength and decided to use him. Banasura spoke to Naraksura, ‘Naraka! You are already very strong. I think if you meditate on Lord Brahma, he will make you more powerful and then, you can rule the three worlds…not just the earth.’

Narakasura thought that through and decided that he would worship Lord Brahma. He performed severe penance and driven by the power of his penance, Lord Brahma appeared before him.

Lord Brahma spoke, ‘Narakasura! Your powers of meditation are great! For that you can ask me any boon…’ Lord Brahma was not very optimistic about granting Narakasura any boon. He knew that Narakasura was becoming evil and any boon he asked might result on great havoc on the earth…But still Lord Brahma could not turn away from any person who had performed such rigorous penance. He had to grant whatever it is that Narakasura asked for…

Narakasura bowed before Lord Brahma and said, ‘My Lord! I will not ask the boon of immortality, I know you do not grant that boon to anybody…’ Lord Brahma nodded as Narakasura continued, ‘My Lord! I have come to know that Mother Earth – Bhumadevi herself is my mother. So this is my wish. If I have to die it has to be in the hands of my mother and no one else….’

Lord Brahma smiled inwardly. But he looked at Narakasura and spoke, ‘So be it! And try to use your powers for good!’ Lord Brahma vanished from there.

Narakasura burst out laughing as Lord Brahma vanished. Lord Brahma was a fool…No mother would kill her own son…no matter who it is…He had granted me the boon of immortality…Why should he try to use his powers for good…He could literally rule the worlds…People everywhere would bow to him and pray to him…He would make sure of that…

Meanwhile in Gokul, a beautiful, black child grew up among the cowherds there as the son of their chief – Nanda and Yashoda…The child was Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

Narakasura returned to his kingdom – Pragjyotishyapur and made preparations for war. Armed with the boon, Narakasura attacked all the kingdoms on earth. He was so ferocious in his strength and power that the other kings did not even have a chance. All of them went under the rule of Narakasura. Soon Narakasura was the ruler of all the kingdoms on earth.

Narakasura soon eyed the heavens. Indra, the Lord of the Devas was no match for Narakasura. Narakasura fell upon the heavens and Indra and the other Devas crumbled and fled from there. Narakasura became more and more wicked. He became arrogant….He captured 16,000 women in the heavens and imprisoned them in his palace.

Narakasura was so arrogant that he did not even let Aditi, the mother of the Devas alone. Aditi, had some heavenly earrings made for her. The earrings were so precious that they even glowed in the dark. Narakasura without a moment’s hesitation tore the earrings from Aditi, not giving a care in the world….

Narakasura ruled like a despot and people everywhere were afraid of him. They were afraid to stand up against him, because he punished people who stood up against him, very severely…They began to pray for someone to come and protect them from the Asura.

Meanwhile Krishna as he grew up among the cowherds, realized about his own self. He came to know that he was the son of Devaki and Vasudeva. Devaki was the sister of Kamsa, the wicked ruler of Mathura. After Devaki and Vasudeva had got married, there was a heavenly voice, which proclaimed that the eighth child of Devaki would kill Kamsa.

Terrified Kamsa imprisoned Devaki and Vasudeva. Despite all his measures and protections, Krishna was born as the eighth child of Vasudeva and Devaki. Krishna was smuggled to Gokul where he grew up among the cowherds there.

When Krishna came to know about Kamsa and what he had done to his parents, Krishna was furious. He along with his elder brother Balarama killed Kamsa, thereby fulfilling the prophecy. Krishna crowned his grandfather Ugrasena as the king of Mathura and himself ruled Dwaraka.

The story of Narakasura ends with Krishna and his third wife – Satyabama.

As Satyabama was alone in the royal palace gardens, thinking of Krishna she was visited by Aditi, the mother of the Devas. She broke down in tears on seeing Satyabama. Satyabama looked at Aditi and calmed her down, ‘What has happened? What is wrong?...’

Aditi burst out into tears and showed Satyabama her ears which were dripping blood. Satyabama gasped as Aditi continued, ‘Narakasura… He came to the palace…he defeated my son and imprisoned….imprisoned all the women there and he grabbed the earrings from my ears….I…’

Satyabama calmed down Aditi, ‘Don’t worry! Please…please don’t cry…’ Satyabama looked at Aditi and was angrily thinking of Narakasura, ‘That man is becoming a menace…I will deal with it myself…’

Satyabama made sure Aditi was comfortable in her palace and ran to see Krishna. ‘Krishna!’ She called as Krishna appeared before her. Krishna looked at her and did not say anything. It was very rare for Satyabama to come to him yelling in the palace. Obviously something very bad had happened. He looked at her waiting for her to continue.

Satyabama spoke with barely concealed fury, ‘Krishna! Aditi has come here…’

Krishna looked at her and asked, ‘Aditi! The mother of the Devas…What does she want…’

Satyabama continued angrily, ‘Narakasura! That asura…look what he has done…’ Satyabama told him everything that Aditi had told him. Krishna became more and more serious as Satyabama continued speaking. He finally held up his hands, ‘Satyabama! I am going to fight with the Narakasura…He has crossed his limits…It is high time he is taught a lesson…’

Satyabama spoke up ‘Krishna! I want to come with you…’ Krishna looked surprised as Satyabama continued, ‘I am going to definitely help you defeat that evil demon…’ She said angrily looking at Krishna. Krishna nodded his head and looked at her. ‘Get your weapons ready! We are going to war! We will go on Garuda! He can take us to Narakasura’s capital in no time…’ Garuda was the vehicle of Lord Krishna and could fly very fast…

Satyabama nodded her head and got ready for battle.

Both of them sat on Garuda. Garuda flew into the kingdom of Pragjyotishyapur. Looking at Garuda approaching his kingdom, Narakasura’s heart missed a beat…The Dark Lord had come for him…But then he slowly shook his head…He had a boon that he could be killed only by his mother…Even Krishna himself could not do anything to him. Narakasura then ordered the division of his army to attack Garuda and Krishna.

The battle between the army of Narakasura and Krishna was ridiculously short. Krishna and Garuda helped with Satyabama destroyed the army in no time at all. Narakasura saw all this from inside his palace and was furious. He called his general Mura. ‘Mura! Take your battalion…Destroy that man…’

Mura attacked the dark Lord with his huge army. But he was also destroyed the same way as the others…[As Lord Krishna had defeated Mura, Krishna is sometimes called as ‘Murari’]

When Narakasura saw Mura die in the battlefield, he yelled and ran out and threw his sataghini [a thunderbolt] at Krishna. Garuda dived and the weapon missed Krishna altogether.

Krishna hurled many of his weapons at Narakasura but he was surprised. Narakasura was easily able to neutralize the weapons which Krishna threw at him! Satyabama on seeing Narakasura, twanged her bow and let the arrows fly fast and furiously.

Looking at the double attack Narakasura furiously pulled out ‘Shakti’ a powerful weapon and hurled it at Krishna.

Satyabama watched in horror as the weapon hit Krishna in the chest. The Dark Lord swooned and fell down!

Satyabama furiously pulled out a powerful weapon of her own and hurled it at Narakasura. Her shock at seeing her Krishna fall gave her the strength to hurl the weapon exactly at Narakasura’s chest, with a speed which was unmatched. Narakasura blinked for a full minute when he saw a weapon in his chest…How could he be defeated…he….He saw Satyabama go towards Krishna, not even bothering to see whether her weapon had hit Narakasura or not…

Narakasura swayed on the spot and looked as the Dark Lord woke up without a single scratch on his body! Satyabama also looked surprised. Krishna smiled as they both got down from Garuda and came towards Narakasura.

Narakasura looked at the two of them. What they had for each other was love…Krishna had so many wives…he loved each one of them fully and respected each one of them…Satyabama loved her husband and was willing to stand up against anybody for him…Narakasura realized suddenly that this was what was missing in his life…He had been powerful…very powerful…but he had never loved anybody…ever…that is what had made him empty…purposeless…Narakasura felt waves of guilt wash over him…He had been so powerful…he could have used the power for good…but he used it for bad purposes…and now …he could not even properly apologize to the people he had wronged…

He lay on the battlefield and looked at the Dark Lord and held his hands together bowing his head, ‘My Lord!’ He breathed sadly, ‘I am sorry…I truly am…It is today that I have seen light…I have lived a life of ignorance…a life of hate…and darkness…I have spread nothing but fear among people…People who go on to terrify others would come to this end only…I have seen the error in my ways…’

Krishna smiled, ‘Narakasura! I am glad you have repented for your actions..’

Narakasura looked around as he saw the body of Dark Lord and Satyabama glowing in the evening light. ‘I have seen light today, my Lord…I wish that people would celebrate this day as the day of victory of light over darkness…’

Satyabama came forward and touched Narakasura. She nodded her head as she looked at his pain filled eyes.

Krishna said. ‘Narakasura! This is Satyabama…She is actually an incarnation of Bhumadevi…’ Both Satyabama and Narakasura looked at Krishna with surprise as Krishna continued, ‘She incarnated with the special purpose of defeating you…I could never have defeated you…Only Satyabama could…so I pretended to fall unconscious and the rest was done by her…’ Krishna said looking at Satyabama with pride.

Satyabama felt a deep understanding within herself. She realized the truth in Krishna’s words. She took Narakasura’s head in her lap and cried out, ‘My son! Why? Why did you have to follow such a dark path…Why did you…’

Narakasura stopped Satyabama, ‘No mother! You are not responsible for my choices…I chose wrongly and you fought me for what you believed as right…You have done the right thing…I am glad to call you my mother…’ Narakasura breathed his last….

Even to this day, Narakasura’s death is celebrated as the victory of light over darkness…It comes on the second day of Diwali as ‘Naraka chaturdasi’. Diwali which is a festival of lights actually celebrates the triumph of right over the wrong…

Satyabama took Aditi’s earrings and handed them over to Aditi…

-From the Bhagawat Purana

Krishna and Satrajit - Part 2 of 2

Krishna was feeling numb when he heard the young child's accusations. He did not even notice the child run away. He walked back to his palace slowly...People were thinking he was thief and a murderer....his own people...He loved these people and they were doubting him...Krishna clutched his head and sat down unhappily.

How could this happen...Krishna realized that all this was started by Satrajit...Krishna surmised the facts from what the child has said...Satrajit's brother had been killed in the forest presumably when he had gone hunting...Satrajit suspecting foul play had told everyone that he thought Krishna had killed Prasenan.

Krishna took a deep breath and realized what had to be done. He had to go and make people understand that he had nothing to do with the death of Prasenan. The only way he could do that was to bring back the Syamantaka gem and hand it over to Satrajit.

That very day, very morosely Krishna picked out a few of his trusted guards and without telling anybody he left straight for the forests. His guards asked around and found out where Prasenan usually went hunting. Krishna followed the guards to the place where the hunting party and Prasenan separated. Following the tracks of Prasenan's horses, he followed it deeper and deeper inside the forest.

There he found the remains of a body, the body had been attacked and killed by a lion...Krishna shook his head sadly. His guards had found out what clothes Prasenan wore on the day of the hunt...The body was wearing the same dress...So this was how Prasenan was killed...

Krishna saw the tracks of the lion which attacked Prasenan. The tracks led on and on to another side of the forest. Krishna followed the tracks with single minded devotion. His guards were tired...but Krishna would not give up...It was becoming dark, but he still did not give up...The accusations of the young child rang in his ears....

Krishna shook himself up and focused on the job at hand. As Krishna moved with a fire torch in his hand, he saw the tracks of the lion abruptly end....Krishna was surprised. He checked again and saw before him the dead body of the lion...

Krishna took a deep breath and saw the remains of the lion...The marks on the lion were deep...What sort of animal would make marks like this... He wondered...Krishna found some bear hair on the ground...The lion was attacked and killed by a bear?....Which bear would be so powerful?... Krishna picked out his weapon and kept it in readiness. Any animal which could kill a lion was no ordinary animal...Krishna followed the tracks of the huge bear....

He walked on and on and until he came to a cave. The tracks of the bear led him inside the cave...Krishna walked inside the dark cave...When Krishna studied the walls of the caves, he had the surprise of his life...Painted on the wall of the cave were scenes from the Ramayana!

Krishna suddenly realized which bear would be so powerful enough to defeat the lion. He smiled and boldly walked up inside the cave.

On reaching the inside of the cave, the first thing that Krishna saw was the bright Syamanntaka gem which was shining through the dark cave. Infact the gem was so bright that it actually paled the light coming from his own fire torch. Krishna was about to look around, when he heard a wail...a loud wail...Judging from the wail, it looked like from a young bear...But Krishna was not able to make out much in the cave.

Then suddenly from deeper inside the cave, Krishna heard a ferocious roar...Any other person who heard the roar would have been scared out of his wits..But Krishna smiled..He recognized the roar and his suspicions had been confirmed. He smiled and was about to come forward, when there was a loud 'THUMP!'

Krishna barely had time to react as he felt immense pain where a huge hairy hand had hit him on the chest...Krishna tried opening his mouth and telling the bear that he was a friend...But the bear did not relent...It kept attacking Krishna...

Krishna realizing that the bear would not listen to him, knew that he had to fight back...He and the bear fought...they fought for a long time...Both of them were tiring and Krishna knew it...Krishna knew that he had to stop the fight before it went out of hand.

Finally when the bear attacked him, Krishna focused his energy and plucked the bear with both his hands and threw the bear across the cave...

There was a very long silence as Krishna heard some loud and angry panting...Slowly the breathing relaxed...Krishna tensed for any further attacks, when an old voice came, 'Who are you?' The voice was gruff and filled with wonder.

Krishna smiled and looked at the bear, 'I am known by many names, Bear King Jambavan! I am also known as Rama...'

There was a gasp from the other side as the bear hurriedly came over to Krishna's side and looked him over.

Looking at the painting of the Ramayana, Krishna had realized that the bear had to be Jambavan, the great Bear King who had been one of the friends of Rama, when he had invaded Lanka...

Krishna and Rama were both avatars of Lord Vishnu. Krishna being an incarnation of the Lord Vishnu knew about his previous births.

Jambavan came forward and fell at the feet of Krishna, 'Rama! You are my Rama...I am so sorry...' The old voice was filled with remorse, 'I fought you...I did not know who you were...I am so sorry...'

Krishna held Jamabvan by the shoulders and hugged him, 'You have done nothing wrong..You only protected your family from invaders....'

Jambavan soon was talking to Krishna animatedly. He introduced Krishna to all his family members...It was Jambavan's son, whom Krishna had first seen playing with the Syamantaka gem....

Krishna told Jambavan, 'I am Rama...But now I have come here for a different reason...I am Krishna now!'

Jambavan accepted the statement with the smile, 'But my Lord! What brings your here..You have not told me that...'

Krishna sighed and told him, 'I have come here for the Syamantaka Gem...The Gem was stolen from one of my subjects...He thinks I have killed his brother to take the gem...'

Jambavan was stunned when he heard this, 'How could anyone even think that? He is a fool to think like that...'

Krishna shook his head, 'Don't be too harsh on him my friend...He was just blinded by circumstances....But that is not important...What is important is that I have to make him understand that I have not done anything wrong and the only way I can do that...' Krishna stopped as Jambavan continued.

' by handing him the Syamantaka gem...' Jambavan completed the sentence as he smiled at Krishna. Krishna nodded as Jambavan called his son. He took the Syamantaka gem from him and gave it to Krishna, 'Krishna, I saw a lion having this sparkling thing in its paw...The lion attacked me...I defeated the lion and took it and gave it to my son to play..I had not realized that...' Jambavan said sadly

Krishna shook his head, 'Please my not blame yourself...If you had not taken the gem, I would never have met you...This was all meant to happen...'

Krishna left for his kingdom with the Gem in his hand. There before the entire kingdom, Krishna handed over the Syamantaka Gem to Satrajit and told him the story of how the gem had been lost. Slowly the people realized what fools they had been to listen to Satrajit. All the people now looked at Satrajit contemptuously as they went back to their homes...

However Satrajit was now at home and he was tormented..He had blamed Krishna for no reason...His guilt was eating him...

His daughter Satyabama came and talked to him. 'Father! I know you have a made a mistake by insulting the Dark Lord...But I have a plan...' Satrajit listened desperately as Satyabama continued. 'Krishna refused to accept the Syamantaka Gem...But you can offer something to Krishna which is more precious...' Satrajit looked puzzled as Satyabama looked shyly.

Satrajit blinked. Satyabama was now a grown up girl and was extremely intelligent and beautiful...She had a feisty temper to match...She was skilled in warfare too...There were so many marriage proposals for her...Satyabama had refused all of them...But now...Satrajit happily nodded his head. The very next day he went to Krishna in the open court and told him.

'Krishna! I am sorry for what I have done...Nothing I can do can make up for it...But I offer something which is more precious to me than the Syamantaka Gem...I offer my daughter's hand in marriage to you...'

Krishna looked surprised and slowly nodded his head and agreed to marry her...Krishna knew who Satyabama actually was and knew her purpose...However that is another story!
-From the Bhagawat Purana

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Krishna and Satrajit - Part 1 of 2

In the city of Dwaraka, there lived a man called Satrajit. Satrajit was a great devotee of Surya, the Sun God. He used to worship the Sun God and pray to him daily. Once as Satrajit was offering his prayers to the Sun God, he felt a strange force in the room. Satrajit opened his eyes and was flabbergasted to find the Sun God before him.

Amazed and thrilled, Satrajit fell at the feet of the God. ‘My Lord! You have come…You have blessed me with your presence…’ Satrajit was almost moved to tears. ‘There is absolutely nothing more that I need…’

Surya was touched by Satrajit’s devotion. ‘No Satrajit…You are a great devotee…I was so pleased by your devotion that I felt like…I…was dragged here…And besides you are also a good man. You have done good to your family and to the people around you, with whatever you have.’

Satrajit just bowed his head in pleasure. Surya spoke again. ‘Satrajit! I am moved with your devotion! You deserve to live better than the way you are now…I am going to give you the Syamantaka gem!’

Satrajit’s eyes went round with amazement and surprise…The Syamantaka gem was a precious gem which glowed like the Sun God itself…Gold Coins flowed in the house where the Syamantaka gem was there…Health and prosperity also followed the Syamantaka gem…And Surya was giving him the gem! Satrajit was so dumbstruck that he just fell at Surya’s feet again unable to say anything more….

Surya smiled and pulled out a glowing gem and handed it over to Satrajit. With trembling hands Satrajit held the warm gem in his hands. ‘The gem would give you ten gold coins a day…Protect the gem well. It will keep you happy!’ Saying this Surya vanished from there. Satrajit was gazing at the gem with wonder for a long time, after Surya had vanished. He finally closed his eyes and shook himself up. He muttered a thank you prayer to Surya and took the gem to his prayer room and worshiped the gem.

Soon the city of Dwaraka spoke about the rich, kind and generous Satrajit. Any person who went to him in need was always helped by him…Satrajit always had a kind word with everyone and helped people out with their money problems…

However some people were curious. Satrajit had not been a very wealthy man…He had always been charitable, but now Satrajit seemed to be giving money which was way beyond his earning capacity…Satrajit was now living in a palace and was leading a life of luxury…How could he do that….

Some close friends of Satrajit spoke to him. ‘Satrajit! How…how did you suddenly get so much money?’

Satrajit thought for some time…Do I tell them about the gem? Satrajit nodded to himself. People would come to know about this eventually…If I myself tell people about it, then atleast they would not feel like I have lied to them…

I have the Syamantaka gem with me!’ His friends listened with wide eyes amazement as Satrajit told them about how Surya had given him the gem. He showed it all his friends. His friends realizing that Satrajit was indeed blessed as the gem was handed over to him by a Deva, appreciated him and left for their home.

The friends told the story to their friends and their friends told the stories to others…soon all the people in Dwaraka came to know about this…News of the Syamantaka gem reached the royal palace of Krishna.

Krishna was thrilled when he heard about the Syamantaka gem…A man had obtained all this by his devotion…That is something that every person would aspire to do…But…But…Krishna realized with sudden clarity …What if someone gets jealous of Satrajit…Why they may even rob him of it…It could be dangerous for him… Krishna slowly nodded his head. He decided to go and talk to Satrajit.

Krishna called his guard and asked him to ready his horses. Krishna got ready and travelled in his chariot to the house of Satrajit. Satrajit was amazed to see the King of Dwaraka, the Dark Lord himself walk inside his home. He faltered and nervously welcomed Krishna. He hurriedly seated him, eagerly showed off his hospitality.

Krishna firmly shook his head. ‘Satrajit! Thank you for your hospitality. But there is something I need to talk to you…’

Satrajit nodded his head nervously, ‘Pl…lease my Lord…Go ahead…You have taken the trouble to come to my home and talk to me…it has to be something serious…’

Krishna nodded, ‘Satrajit, I know you have the Syamantaka gem with you…’ Satrajit looked amazed and little afraid. Why would Krishna talk to him about the Syamantaka gem? He did not interrupt Krishna and Krishna spoke. ‘Having the Syamantaka gem with you would be dangerous…’ Satrajit looked suspiciously at Krishna as Krishna spoke quietly, ‘What if thieves suddenly decide to steal the gems from you…’ Krishna looked around. ‘You cannot protect the gem well in your house…’ Satrajit by now was thoroughly angry and suspicious with Krishna…Krishna may be king, but he cannot just come here like this and say such things about the gem…Krishna continued. ‘Leave the gem in my palace, Satrajit!’ Satrajit was now fuming. His worst fears had come true…Krishna had come here to take his gem…his precious gem…Satrajit angrily shook his head. He interrupted Krishna angrily. ‘I am not going to give away the gem to you Krishna…The gem was handed over to me by Lord Surya…Why should I give the gem to you for safekeeping…It is mine…’

Krishna was a little exasperated as he tried speaking calmly, ‘Satrajit, the gold coins which come out of it…you can keep them…I do not want it…’ Satrajit was still angry…Krishna wanted to take away his gem….and he wanted to pacify him by giving him petty gold coins…He shook his head angrily again.

Krishna tried another approach, ‘Satrajit! I know that you have been using the money from the Gem for the good of the people… But think about it I am the king here…I can help people better if I have the gem with me…’

Satrajit angrily got up from his chair and looked at Krishna. ‘Krishna! You may the king here, but please do not ask me to part with the gem…It is mine and I will not give it anybody…The gem stays here…’ Satrajit said angrily and firmly.

Krishna opened his mouth to argue. But looking at Satrajit’s expression, he realized that Satrajit would not listen to him no matter what he said. Krishna sighed and stood up. ‘Ok Satrajit! Have it your way…Take good care of the gem…and yourself…’

Krishna left Satrajit’s palace unhappily worried about Satrajit…

Now the people in Dwaraka had seen Krishna go to Satrajit’s house and spend some time there and come out unhappily…This was very rare…Usually Krishna invited people to his palace to talk to them…Why would Krishna talk to Satrajit…Satrajit’s friends’ thronged in his home to talk to him.

Was that Krishna?’ They looked with amazement at Satrajit. ‘What did Krishna want?’

Satrajit was still fuming as he angrily said, ‘He wanted my Syamantaka gem…’ The people looked surprised as Satrajit spoke. Krishna looked after the people of Dwaraka like his own children. Till date he had never taken anything which belonged to anyone else…But then why suddenly….Satrajit spoke, ‘He wanted to keep the jewel safe, in the palace…He said he would look after the gem and let me take all the coins which came from it…He told me that my Gem was not safe in my home…’ Satrajit shook his head. ‘…All this is just pure talk to make me get rid of the gem…’

People went away to their homes. Some felt that Krishna had acted in the best interests of Satrajit, others felt that Krishna was wrong in trying to take the gem from Satrajit…

A doubt had been planted in the minds of the people….
A few days later all the talk was forgotten. People were back to their normal routine.

Prasenan, Satrajit’s brother came to talk to him. ‘Brother! I have come to seek your blessings and…’ He said as he came strapped with his bows and arrows.

Satrajit looked at his brother lovingly. Satrajit loved his brother very much and took very good care of him. ‘Are you going for hunting, Prasenan?’ Prasenan nodded his head. Satrajit patted Prasenan on his shoulder, ‘Have a good hunt, my brother and stay safe…’

Prasenan spoke, ‘Brother, I have a favour to ask of you…’

Satrajit was surprised. His brother never spoke like this. ‘Go ahead Prasenan…You know I will do anything for you…You are after all my own brother..’

Prasenan said shyly, ‘I felt that…I am going hunting…It is just that…if I took the Syamantaka gem with me, I would feel safer…I think it will keep me safe…’

Satrajit looked at his brother not knowing what to say. The Syamantaka gem was so precious to him…He had not handed the gem even to Krishna…Prasenan was now asking for it…But Prasenan was his own brother…What was the use of having something, if it could not be useful for the people he loved…Satrajit shook his head. Prasenan was his brother, he would take good care of the gem….Besides it was just for a few days…

Satrajit slowly nodded his head and smiled at his brother, ‘Of course you can have it…Just take good care of it, Prasenan…’ Satrajit said as he ruffled his brother's hair lovingly. He went to the prayer room and prayed to the Gem and picked it up and handed it over to Prasenan.

Happily Prasenan took the gem and placed it inside his robes and set off for hunting.

The hunt was very exciting. Prasenan and the others were following their hunt. Their prey skillfully ran through the forest. The others in the hunting party could not catch it. But Prasenan did not want to give up…It would be great if he could come back with the kill…He went deeper and deeper inside the forest chasing the animal…He was separated from the others but he did not care. The thrill of the hunt was too much….

But Prasenan had gone too far in his eagerness. He was in middle of a dense forest with no back up and all alone…

Prasenan failed to see what experienced hunters knew…The jungle was the territory of wild animals and had to be treaded carefully…

As he was riding through the forest, Prasenan saw a lion attack him from the side. Unable to meet the ferocious attack of the lion, Prasenan was killed then and there by the lion….

The hunting party which went with Prasenan was back, but much to Satrajit’s anxiety, there was no sign of Prasenan…What could happen to his brother…Satrajit waited for some more days, but no Prasenan…

Broken-hearted Satrajit was sitting in his home, waiting for any news from his brother…My brother was such a good hunter…how could anything happen to him during the hunt…It almost looks…as if some mischief was afloat…Satrajit blinked. Oh my God…I had refused to give Krishna the Syamantaka gem…That wicked man waited for time and killed my brother in the forest and took the gem from him…Satrajit was suddenly convinced that this was exactly what had happened…He had been so unhappy when he left my house…He thought I would just hand it over…and when I did not….

What had Krishna told him Take good care of the gem…and yourself…Krishna had actually threatened him and he had been a fool not to recognize the threat early enough…Satrajit was filled with anger… If I had known that wicked Krishna would have stooped to kill my brother, I would have handed over the Gem to him…Wretched man…Satrajit angrily paced his house. He felt that his head would explode if he did not tell this to everyone…

A few days later Krishna was happily walking towards the garden. He loved meeting the children there and talking to them…The children also loved him and told him everything that happened in their houses. They were so innocent and pure that it felt like he was back in his own childhood. Krishna smiled to himself as he went to the garden.

Krishna reached the garden and blinked looking around…The normally full and fun filled garden was now almost empty… very few children were there…the few children who were there were looking at him nervously…

When Krishna appeared before them, the children ran away crying and yelling, ‘Thief! Thief! He may kill you too! Stay away from him…’

Krishna blinked again looking back, wondering if the kids were talking about somebody else. There was nobody behind him. Krishna then turned and looked at the children. The children were talking about him! Suddenly afraid, Krishna went forward and stopped a child, who was slow in running away.

The child broke into tears on seeing Krishna so close to him, ‘Please…please...d…d…don’t do anything to me…I do not have anything precious with me…’

Krishna took to deep breath and tried to speak calmly, ‘Wh…Why would I hurt you?’

The child burst out crying, ‘Satrajit told everybody how wicked you are…You hurt people, you are bad person….You killed Prasenan when he was alone in the forest and took the Syamantaka gem from him… You are a thief and you do not hesitate to kill may kill me too…’

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Burning of the Khandava forest - Part 1 of 2

In the story of Mahabharatha, Pandu, the father of the five Pandavas was the ruler of the kingdom of Hastinapur. However Pandu incurred the curse of a sage while hunting.
Unhappy over the curse, Pandu decided to leave the kingdom and go to the forests. His two wives Kunti and Madri followed him to the forests.
As the kingdom of Hastinapur was without a king, Dhirtarashtra, the elder blind brother of Pandu was made the king of Hastinapur.
In the forest, Yudhishtar was first born to Kunti and it was only after this that Duryodhana was born to Dhirdarashtra. Being the eldest son of Pandu who was the actual king of Hastinapur, Yudhishtar had to be given the right to rule Hastinapur.
However Duryodhana hated the Pandavas and did not want to give them anything. In his jealousy, Duryodhana tried to have the Pandavas killed in a wax palace in a place called Vanavratha. Luckily the Pandavas survived the attack.
When the Pandavas came back, the blind king having no choice gave a portion of the kingdom in the west of the Yamuna for the Pandavas to rule. This place was called as "Indraprastha" [because this place was protected by Indra, the King of Devas].
Indraprastha was surrounded by a thick forests of Khandava. The forests had plenty of nagas and demons and the people there were constantly plagued by thieves.
If the place had to be ruled, the Pandavas had to get rid of the demons and the thieves.
As Krishna, Arjuna and the others were camping near the forest and talking to each other, a man came to meet them. Arjuna saw that the man had dark circles under his eyes and looked hungry.
Arjuna immediately got up and offered the man a place to sit. "Sir! What is the matter? You look tired and hungry? Is there anything I can do for you?"
Despite his bedraggled appearance the man gave a dry smile and said, "My Lord! I think you and the Dark Lord are the only persons who can do anything for me now."
Krishna pleasantly surprised, "Who are you sir? You have the appearance of a well-to-do man, yet you seem to have fallen in bad days. Tell me your story please. "
The man shook his head, "Not so soon. Krishna! First I want your word, that you will help feed me, only and only then, will I tell you my story. "
Krishna and Arjuna looked at each other. They both realized that the man’s story would not be an ordinary one. They both smiled. Both of them were ready for a new adventure and excitement.
Krishna promised the man, "I promise on behalf of both of us. We will do everything in our power to feed you sir!"
"Now would you tell us your story sir!" Arjuna asked.
The man smiled. "Gladly!" The man vanished and in his place stood Agni, the God of Fire! He had golden skin and his eyes were blazing. In his hand was a flaming ball, but the flame from the ball was very less!
Arjuna somehow felt that Agni, being the God of Fire could afford to be more stronger than this.
"Krishna! Arjuna! As you know, I am Agni!" he said.
Krishna looked surprised, "My Lord! You used to blaze so magnificently before. Why have your power gone down now?"
Agni sighed, "That is the reason I have come to you Krishna," Saying this Agni told them a story.
"My present problems can be attributed to King Swetaketu. King Swetaketu was a good and great king. He wanted to perform a yagna with great splendour, like the ones which has never been done before."
Both Krishna and Arjuna nodded listening to the story with rapt attention as Agni continued, "In fact the yagna he wanted to conduct was so strenuous and would take such a long time that most of the sages were not even willing to do it. Swetaketu was in a fix. He could not start the yagna if the sages did not help him. He did not know what to do. So he prayed to Lord Shiva for help. "
"After meditating on the Lord for a long time, the Three eyed Dark Lord finally appeared before him. When Shwetaketu explained his problem to him, Lord Shiva smiled and immediately gave him a solution.
"Son! Go to Sage Durvasa. He is a powerful sage. He will help you finish your yagna. " Lord Shiva did not mention to Swetaketu that Sage Durvasa was an incarnation of Lord Shiva himself and would have no problems in completing the yagna.
"Happily Swetaketu went to Sage Durvasa. Sage Durvasa agreed to conduct the yagna on the condition that ghee must be continuously poured in the fire for the twelve years that he was going to perform the yagna. King Swetaketu agreed and made arrangement for ghee to be poured in the fire for the twelve years of the yagna."
"The yagna was a grand success and everybody appreciated Shwetaketu and Sage Durvasa for its completion. " Agni sighed as he said the last part.
Arjuna looked at Agni, "Why would the yagna make you unhappy, my Lord?"
Agni said sadly, "The continuous intake of butter, my friend. it has made me weak. That is the reason, my powers are not what it once was. I am becoming weak. Nothing I burn, seems to satisfy me. I am always hungry."
Krishna and Arjuna looked at each other and then at Agni.
Krishna spoke, "What would satisfy your hunger, Agni?"
Agni smiled, "The Khandava forest. The Khandava forest is now becoming a menace. It is becoming a place for demons and monsters. It was decided long ago, that I should burn it up. It would destroy the monsters and demons and also fill my hunger."
Arjuna looked at Agni, "What is preventing you from burning the forest, sir?"
Agni looked at the sky and said, "Indra, the God of the Devas! He is the one who is stopping me!"
Arjuna and Krishna were both surprised as Agni continued, "Indra is friends with Takshak, the king of the Snakes. Takshak lives in the Khandava forest. So every time I decide to burn down the forest, Indra sends torrential rains and puts out the fire. " Agni shook his head. "Now my hunger is almost killing me. If any one can stand up against Indra, it is the two of you. Please. " Agni said desperately, "Please help me. "
Arjuna looked at Agni and said, "So you want us to protect you from Indra, the King of the Devas, while you burn down the forest?"

Agni nodded his head as both the friends looked at each other.