Saturday, January 26, 2013

Rukmini and Krishna - Part 1 of 3

Bhishmaka, the King of Vidharba, looked around his court with pride. His five sons were strong and powerful and were always around to protect him. Bhishmaka particularly relied on his eldest son – Rukmi, who was the strongest of them all.

However, now when King Bhishmaka thought of Rukmi, he became a little uncomfortable...,....Of late he was worried about the company that his son kept....Sishupala, Dandavakra, Jarasandha, Salva, Viduratha....They were not exactly role models for someone to follow. .Not good at all....Far from it..........

Bhishmaka reminded himself that he would have to speak to his son about that....Bhishmaka coughed as he looked at his court. His coughing fits were getting bad and he was relying more and more on his eldest son...Bhishmaka sighed...He was not as young as he used to be....He had to give the affairs of the kingdom to his son...and retire to the forests....But before that....Bhishmaka looked to his left and saw his beautiful daughter Rukmini sitting beside him. He had to find a good mate for her.....

Bhishmaka flushed with pride as he saw Rukmini keenly observing the happenings in the court. But then that was no surprise. Rukmini had always attended court. She always sat through court, ever since she had been a child. As Rukmini grew up, the habit continued. Bhishmaka was the first to acknowledge that on many occasions it was Rukmini who had helped out in the matters of the court...she was a natural at diplomacy and negotiating.

Rukmini was the apple of his eye or for that matter, everybody in his court liked Rukmini...There was something in the keen gaze with which she looked, her infectious laughter and her razor sharp intellect. People found themselves answering to her beck and call...Yes! Bhishmaka thought with fierce pride...His daughter was a gem...she deserved to be happy all through her life...Bhishmaka intended to make it happen....

'Sage Narada has come to court sir!' The guard came and announced with a smile, breaking the thoughts of the king.

The guard did not miss that both Bhishmaka's and Rukmini's eyes lit up at the mention of Narada's name. The guard wondered how a rishi could bring such joy to the King and the Princess....

Sage Narada was received with honour as the King and the Princess led him to their inside palace and gave him a very tasty meal. The rishi enjoyed the meal and later on rested for some time as the King and Rukmini left him alone.

The rishi woke up and looked with twinkling eyes and saw that Rukmini was looking at him impatiently but not saying anything. Sage Narada smiled....

He sat up and looked at King Bhishmaka, 'So what would you like to hear today, your majesty?' For that was what Sage Narada did. He traveled all over the world and brought news from all over and narrated them to the kings....

However of late, in the kingdom of Vidharba, Sage Narada had been narrating stories of only one person....Bhishmaka and Rukmini did not seem to be interested in any other person....

'Krishna… I want to hear the stories of Krishna...' Rukmini blurted out as the sage and the king looked at her with amused eyes.

Sage Narada cast a shrewd eye on Rukmini...He did not need any special powers to understand true love when he saw it....However, he wondered…how was it that a person could love another, even without meeting that person....But then Narada realised......He could not say that....He could never say that Rukmini did not know Krishna....

Sage Narada never got tired of repeating the stories of Krishna to Rukmini and Rukmini never got tired of hearing them....And so the sage narrated the latest adventures of Krishna. Rukmini listened with rapt attention as she heard about the bravery of her Krishna, the diplomacy of Krishna, the fighting prowess of seemed to go on and on....Rukmini was lost in her own world thinking of Krishna.....She imagined the black Krishna, with a beautiful smile in his face and twinkling eyes....She could see it all so clearly as the Sage narrated the stories.....Listening about Krishna somehow made her feel complete.....

King Bhishmaka looked at his daughter as she listened to the stories of Krishna...The thrill, the love in her eyes was unmistakable...King Bhishmaka happily nodded his head...His daughter was now a beautiful young woman and Krishna would make a perfect husband for her....

The sage left after he had told the two of them all the stories of the Dark Lord, even repeating many of them. But neither of them long as the stories were about Krishna's bravery, diplomacy and kindness....

As Sage Narada left Vidharba, he decided that now that he had seen Rukmini, the next obvious move would be to go and see the other half....He left for Dwaraka with a smile as he strummed his tamboora....

After the sage left, King Bhishmaka spoke to his daughter, 'Rukmini!’, the king said partly with happiness and partly with regret...'You are no longer a young child...You are mature enough to have your own family and start your own life ....'

Rukmini blushed furiously as she tried to scold her father playfully, 'Father!....'

King Bhishmaka tried his best to keep his face straight as he continued, 'Looking at you, I am sure, you have even chosen a good man for yourself....'

Rukmini blushed even more as she shyly nodded her head. King Bhishmaka continued, 'Well, who is he?'

'Krishna...' Rukmini said shyly as she studied her feet, not looking anywhere at her father.

Bhishmaka looked at Rukmini, pretended to be surprised, 'Krishna? The Lord of Dwaraka? But you have never even met him!'

Rukmini looked Bhishmaka with unseeing eyes, 'You are right father, I have never met him! But I know him...' Rukmini said it with a conviction that amazed Bhishmaka, '...And I love him for what he is....'

Bhishmaka watched his daughter. He could not understand the expression behind them,..Just for a minute there he thought that Rukmini actually had seen Krishna...The way, she said 'I know him...' Bhishmaka felt almost as if Rukmini had been with Krishna forever.....

Bhishmaka shook himself as he kissed his daughter on the forehead, 'He is a very good man for you! I am sure he will keep you happy....'

Rukmini fell at her father's feet as her father blessed her....

King Bhishmaka went to speak with his eldest son, 'Rukmi! I wish to talk with you...' He said as a coughing fit enveloped him....

Rukmi hurriedly seated his father and gave Bhishmaka some water. As the coughing stopped, Bhishmaka took a deep breath and continued...'As I was saying I have something to tell you!'

Rukmi looked concerned as he studied his father. His father was getting old and found it difficult to manage the affairs of the state. Rukmi nodded to himself as he realized what his father may want to talk to him....In fact that was exactly what he had in mind too. He waited patiently for his father to bring up the topic.

'It is about Rukmini...She is not a child anymore....' King Bhishmaka began guardedly...for some strange reason, the king felt hesitant to talk to his own son... But Rukmi enthusiastically nodded his head. 'That is exactly what I have in mind father! That is what I wanted to talk to you about'.
Bhishmaka relaxed. He continued hurriedly before his son could say anything. 'Good! Good! Then you must agree, that Krishna is the best match for Rukmini....'

Bhishmaka saw Rukmi's face change a dark shade as his eyes became red, 'Do you mean, that cowherd, who is now pretending to be the king of Dwaraka?'

Bhishmaka stood mute as he watched his son become more and more aggressive.. 'I thought you loved your daughter....' Bhishmaka could not say anything as Rukmi spoke in disgust, 'Is this how you show your love to your beloved daughter? You get her married to a liar? A coward?' Rukmi spat out. 'I will not let you do such a thing to my sister.'

Bhishmaka was troubled. With a weary heart he asked his son. 'If you think that Krishna is not the right choice for Rukmini, who do you think is the right choice?'

'Sishupala, of course.' Rukmi snorted. Bhishmaka felt terrible as he heard his son talk like this. Rukmi continued. 'King Sishupala, the king of chedi, the son of Damoghosha is the right choice for my sister....' Rukmi said with a finality that brook no further argument.

Bhishmaka tried his level best to talk Rukmi out of the idea. Sishupala was an arrogant man and was not even remotely the right mate for his daughter. Besides, Rukmini already loved Krishna, so there really was no question about changing her mind....

But Rukmi was adamant. He could not accept the fact that his sister had fallen in love with a man who was not born a king...a man whom Rukmi considered his enemy. He just could not allow it.

To thwart his sister and his father, Rukmi hastily arranged the wedding of Rukmini with Sishupala even without giving his sister a chance to voice out her opinion, as was the custom in those days.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rukmini and Krishna - Part 2 of 3

The minute Rukmini saw her father, she knew something was wrong. Her father's normally sparkling eyes were looking glazed. He had a vexed look in his eyes. With a thumping heart she asked her father slowly, 'Father! What is it? Something is wrong...'
Bhishmaka saw his daughter and felt self pity raking through him. He had promised his daughter that she would marry the man of her dreams....Now....
Slowly, haltingly coaxed by the loving Rukmini, Bhishmaka told his daughter everything that Rukmi had told her. Rukmini was aghast! Her brother had stooped so low and was planning to get her married even without her consent....Rukmini had heard all about Sishupala...She would rather die than marry that man....How on earth could her brother even compare that excuse of a human being with her Krishna?

Bhishmaka looked unhappily at Rukmini. 'I...I don't know what to do....I cannot stop your brother...' Bhishmaka looked helplessly at his daughter, tears in his eyes. Rukmini shook her head and wiped her father's tears. 'It is ok, father! It is really ok...' Bhishmaka looked at his daughter, who was looking at him with a steely look in her eyes. Bhishmaka saw a resolve of determination in her eyes....Bhishmaka looked at his daughter with sudden alarm. 'What are you going to do?'

Rukmini smiled at her father. 'The only thing which matters to me is that you approve of my choice. Leave the rest to me....'

'What are you going to do?' Bhishmaka whispered again.

Rukmini smiled at her father. 'I am going to make sure I marry the man I love....' Bhishmaka was taken aback. But only for a second. He smiled. He knew his daughter well. Once she had decided to do something, she would do it.....happiness spread through him.

Rukmini fell at her father's feet.

Rukmini sent for a local priest, who often came to their palace. He was a man of great discretion and her father  trusted him implicitly. He had seen Rukmini since she had been a child and Rukmini knew that he was totally trustworthy....

When the man arrived, Rukmini received him graciously.

'What is the matter,child? The man asked looking at the determined Rukmini. Rukmini was looking upset. The man had never seen Rukmini like this....

'Sir! I want you to carry a message for me. I want you to carry it to the Dark Lord! To Krishna!' Rukmini said with a sudden smile. 'You will find that Krishna receives everyone in his kingdom....So you will have no problem in meeting him face to face....' Rukmini said with a sudden surety.

The man blinked, not understanding. Rukmini explained everything to the man, wasting no words.

With a smile in his lips, the man left for Dwaraka.

Probably because the man himself wanted to meet Krishna, or may be it was his fate to make sure the divine lovers met each other. For whatever reason, the man found himself in Dwaraka very soon. True to Rukmini's prediction he found himself standing before the handsome Dark Lord of Dwaraka, who received him with love and affection.

Krishna treated him with great hospitality. After the man was fed and well looked after, Krishna asked him. 'Sir! You are from the Kingdom of Vidharba! What brings such a good man like you from such a far away kingdom....'

The man composed his thoughts. 'Sir! As you said I come from Vidharba! King Bhishmaka is the ruler of the Kingdom. He has five sons and a daughter. Rukmi is his eldest son and Rukmini....' The man smiled. 'Rukmini is his only daughter, the apple of his eye....Bhishmaka, the King of Vidharba wanted his daughter to marry you...' The man said as Krishna looked surprised. 'Me? I didn't know that....In fact no one from that kingdom has come to me....'

The man sighed. 'Sir! King Bhishmaka is very old! The actual power lies in the hands of Rukmi,his son!' Krishna frowned as the man continued. 'Rukmi wants his sister to marry Sishupala,the king of Chedi!'

Krishna looked appalled! Sishupala was arrogant and evil....Krishna shook his hands and looked at the man. 'What does Rukmini have to say about this?'

The man smiled inspite of himself. 'Rukmini has heard so much about you....she is in love with you! She wants to marry you and no one else....I come with a message from her!'

Krishna looked mischievously as the man gave the message.

I have heard so much about you that it feels that I already know you....And all the things that I have heard about you....makes me love you even more.

I am the daughter of the King of Vidharba, a princess by birth and I am intelligent and I think I am in every way fit to be your wife.

My brother wants me to marry Sishupala. I belong to you and not some arrogant, evil man,who does not even know what love is.

If you let Sishupala take me...beware! My death falls on your head!'

I have also made arrangements for you to take me away. I know that a warrior would not like to enter the quarters of an unmarried woman. Do not worry! On the day of marriage, we have a custom to go and ask the blessings of Goddess Durga in a temple which is very far from the palace. I think the path to the temple would be best place for you to take me away, with you! I am counting on you! Please come!

I have sent a message through his man, who has known me since I was a little girl.

The man looked at Krishna's face which seemed to be glowing...The man asked Krishna anxiously. 'What is your reply, sir?

Krishna looked at the man. 'Narada'...Krishna smiled. 'Sage Narada came here often and used to narrate stories of Rukmini! I kept hearing so much about her...that I could not help but fall in love with her! I have been waiting and waiting for her father to arrange for her swayamvara....But suddenly my spies reported about Rukmi and Sishupala...' Krishna shook his head unhappily. 'I have been worried...I could not even sleep at night...' Krishna looked at the man. 'And now you have come. Hearing your words have calmed my fears...' Krishna spoke as he got up. 'But now we must hurry! Rukmini is waiting!' Krishna smiled. 'Rukmini is waiting for me!'

Krishna called his charioteer Daruka and asked him to keep four of his favourite horses – Shaibhya, Meghapushpa, Sugriva and Valahaka ready for travel.

Krishna along with the man traveled in the chariot. The horses were swift and they traveled all day and night. They reached Vidharba the very next day....


Balarama came out of his palace looking around. He frowned. He summoned his guard. 'I do not see Krishna! Where is he?'

The guard bowed. 'Your highness! Lord Krishna has left for Vidharba!

Balrama looked perplexed. 'Why on earth would he leave for Vidharba all of a sudden....' A sudden comprehension dawned on his face. 'Did somebody come to see him yesterday!'

The guard nodded. 'Yes sir! A priest from Vidharba came to see him....'

Balarama was quick in joining all the dots. He turned to his general. 'Get the army ready...we are marching to Vidharba!'

The general looked uncomprehendingly. 'Vidharba? Why?'

'Krishna is going to need help!' Balarama explained hurriedly as he walked back to the palace to get his weapons. Balarama smiled. 'Krishna has gone for Rukmini!'

The kingdom of Vidharba and its capital Kundinapura looked beautiful. It was decorated lavishly and all the people of the kingdom were in a festive mood.

Despite the festive mood, Sishupala, Jarasandha, Salva had all come with their huge armies. Prince Rukmi had warned them before hand about his father's reaction to Rukmini's marriage. All of them suspected that Krishna would come for the wedding and try to take away Rukmini....None of them could accept the fact that a cowherd could aspire the hands of a princess...Krishna had to be stopped at all costs....


Rukmini spent the morning in anxiety so heightened that she could not do anything. Had the man reached Krishna? Would Krishna come? Did Krishna even love her? The questions just kept haunting her again and again....She tried everything to keep her mind occupied but every time she saw the marriage hall being decorated until the last minute, she would feel queasy...What would happen?

Finally it was time for the customary puja at the Durga temple. Rukmini was walking with a heavy heart. She realized her plans had not worked...Either Krishna had not got her message or did not care about her....

Feeling bitter Rukmini was walking down the palace steps, every step getting more and more heavy....Rukmini's eyes were blurred as she found that she was weeping....Suddenly Rukmini saw a familiar face....She blinked away her tears...was it.....? Unable to believe her eyes she saw...It was indeed the priest she had sent. He was walking towards her with a quiet smile. His manner of walking and his smile told her more than anything he could ever say.

Rukmini grinned through her tears. The man came forward and nodded his head. 'The Lord is here! He said he will come for you.....!'

He is coming for you...Rukmini did not hear anything else. He is coming for you...Krishna is coming for me....

Rukmini fell at the feet of the man. 'Thank you! Thank you! Thank you so much! There is nothing more I can say....'

Rukmini literally flew to the temple of Durga! There, with a full heart she worshiped Goddess Durga. Thank you! You have made me a part of Krishna....Krishna is now a part of me...Thank you! I bow before you!

Rukmini walked out of the temple slowly. The princes and the Kings assembled to escort the princess back to the palace gasped. Rukmini looked ravishingly beautiful....Rukmini walked out of the temple in slow steps, her heart beating. As she stepped out of the temple, she felt him...Rukmini turned right and blinked. Standing before her was one of the most handsome looking men she had ever seen. Rukmini realized that Krishna was so handsome that no words could ever describe his beauty....His dark body with his dark eyes....He looked like a Deva coming towards her.

Time, it seemed, stood still when the two lovers met for the first time. Krishna walked towards Rukmini and smiled as he escorted her towards his chariot. Rukmini felt blissful as she climbed on to the chariot.

The entire group watched in stunned silence. Krishna had taken the princess...For a few seconds utter confusion reigned. Then the kings and the princes got on their chariot and chased the two of them.

The kings let their arrows fly all of which avoided the chariot, because of the deft handling of the chariot....

The kings chased and they reached the end of the kingdom. There they faltered....Standing before them was not just Krishna with Rukmini, but Balarama with the entire Yadava army in its full splendor...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rukmini and Krishna - Part 3 of 3

The Kings and the princes chasing Krishna and Rukmini did not know what hit them. Balarama and the Yadava army under him were so ruthlessly efficient that within no time the Kings and the princes ran off the battlefield along with their army. However Sishupala would not give up so easily. Rukmini was going to be his....He could not give up a princess who looked like a Goddess to that uncouth cowherd...Sishupala with his army followed by Salva, Dantavakra and the others fought bravely against Balarama.

Balarama realizing that this group of warriors were much more disciplined than the previous attackers changed his tactics. Till now he had merely been defending, he suddenly went offensive. He ordered his men to start regrouping and prepare for a major offensive.

Faced with the sudden change of tactics, the armies of the three kings were suddenly caught unawares. Still they regrouped subsequently and started fighting. However by this time the battle was already half lost. Balarama with his army with his sudden ferocious attack had decimated half of the armies. Finishing off the remaining army was no big deal for the Yadava army.

With Krishna and Rukmini watching, Sishupala, Salva and Dantavakra were routed as the soldiers fled from the scene. The Yadava army cheered watching the confused soldiers running in opposite directions. Balarama deciding that enough was enough ordered his men to stop the attack and march back. Sishupala was dejected as he slowly drove the chariot back to the Kingdom of Vidharba. 

There Rukmi was waiting anxiously for the return of Rukmini with the kings. Imagine the surprise on his face when he saw a forlorn looking Sishupala coming with less than half the army....

'What happened...?' asked the flabbergasted Rukmi as soon as Sishupala stopped in front of the palace.

Sishupala refused to meet his friends eyes and muttered, 'The entire Yadava army was out there....' He did not speak any further. Looking at the army, Rukmi would have figured out the outcome.... 

Rukmi was however furious. 'She is my sister! Mine!' Rukmi's eyes glinted dangerously as he spoke sharply. 'If you won't protect her, I will....I swear, I will never return to this kingdom without my sister!' Rukmi pronounced ominously.

Rukmi was quiet unaware that other than him, everyone else in the kingdom was very happy with the sudden change of events. They all loved Krishna and knew that he was the best match for Rukmini….Bhishmaka secretly rejoiced as he celebrated with his wife. However when he heard the oath of Rukmi, he trembled. He ran to his son….'Rukmini loves Krishna! She was the one who invited Krishna to come and take her away....' Bhismaka pleaded with Rukmi. 'Please son! Let her be happy! Let the matter go!'

'HAPPY!' Rukmi shrieked. 'How do you think I would feel? She is my sister and I had chosen a good man for her...She goes and chooses a cowherd and you expect me to be happy with her decision....'

Bhishmaka looked at Rukmi, 'It is not your choice to make!' He said sharply.

Rukmi was breathing angrily came very close to his father. 'I am her elder brother! I have ever right in the world to choose the man she is going to marry. She has fallen under the cunning words of that cowherd and thinks she will be happy with him....I will not allow it!' Rukmi turned away and walked. He did not even turn when he heard Bhishmaka call him again and again....

Rukmi got on his chariot and with his army he was off. He did not even look at Sishupala and his other friends as he drove towards the outskirts of the kingdom.

Once he came there, Rukmi saw dust arising from the magnificent Yadava army which was now triumphantly going back home….They were thinking they had won by stealing my sister….Cowards…I will show them…Rukmi looked around as he was specifically looking for one chariot….Rukmi swore in disgust as he spotted Krishna’s chariot which was almost towards the end of the army….Rukmi spurred his horses faster as he drove towards Krishna and Rukmini….

Hearing the galloping of the horses, Krishna looked back surprised. He knew his brother had effectively destroyed the armies of the three kings….Fresh horses meant….Krishna sighed as he turned and saw Rukmi coming straight for him looking furious, with his sword raised…
Seeing Krishna suddenly looking grim and hearing the galloping of the horses, Rukmi turned. She was shocked and terrified when she saw her own brother coming straight for them…Terrified she turned to Krishna…Honestly she was not even remotely bothered about Krishna…She feared for her brother… ‘Krishna! He is my brother! Please!’ She pleaded with the Dark Lord, shaking her head, blinking back tears.

Krishna looked at the beautiful and terrified face of Rukmini and smiled sadly. He however nodded his head and turned his chariot and drove it further away trying to distance himself from Rukmi. He drove through another path, away from the Yadava army to make sure Rukmi was not able to find them….

Balarama heard the galloping of the fresh horses and the sudden change. He saw Rukmi and Krishna move away from the main army. Seeing that it was only Rukmi with his small battalion, Balarama hesitated.

He then ordered a small platoon to take care of Rukmi’s army as he himself went after Krishna and Rukmi, who were now quiet far away from the main army….


Rukmi was now beyond furious. Krishna was refusing to fight him! And people called him a brave man! Rukmi was disgusted. He was now more than convinced that his sister had made the wrong choice by choosing this man, who refused to even fight back bravely…Rukmi pushed his horses almost to the limit trying to reach Krishna.

Rukmi was almost close to Krishna, when he saw Krishna focused on driving the horses away….For some reason the scene made him even more angry as he yelled at Krishna. He called Krishna everything from a coward to the thief…

The Dark Lord tried his best not to get distracted at the continuous outpourings of hatred from Rukmi and focused on driving the chariot. However Rukmi was now within striking distance. He pulled out his swords and slashed at their chariot. The sword missed both Krishna and Rukmini by a whisker….Krishna took a deep breath decided that enough was enough….Brother-in-law or no.....This matter could not be solved by talk…It needed force…He brought the horses to a standstill….

Rukmi looked surprised and almost drove his horses past Krishna as Krishna stopped suddenly. Rukmi furiously brought the horses to a stop as he looked at Krishna venomously. ‘Krishna!’ He bellowed. ‘I hope atleast now, you have the guts to fight me, one on one….You coward! You can’t even fight another person in an honest battle, and you dare aspire to marry my sister…’

Both Krishna and Rukmi got down from their chariot and took out their swords, advancing towards each other. 

Rukmini realizing that Krishna had no choice but to fight with her brother, prayed to all the Gods hoping….praying….the matter would get resolved without any bloodshed…

Rukmi was a good warrior but unfortunately he was not the same class as Krishna and to add to his problems, Rukmi was very angry…To fight a battle, what was needed was a calm mind with a clear thought process…Many battles had been lost even before it began because of the emotional attachment of the warriors…Rukmi discovered that in his fight with Krishna.

Rukmi was shocked when he found Krishna matching all his attacks and parrying him very well. Krishna was able to tire Rukmi so easily…who was gasping and trembling as Krishna’s calm face flitted in and out of his sight. Rukmi realized that Krishna was not just a warrior…Krishna was a class apart…Rukmi struggled to match Krishna’s attack…

Rukmi realized that Krishna was toying with him and finally he fell down as Krishna’s sword met his with great force and his sword clattered and fell a few feet away. Krishna came forward with his sword raised, when Rukmini shouted. ‘No! Krishna! No! Please!’

Rukmi was having trouble focusing as he saw Rukmini get down of the chariot and run towards them. Krishna looked at Rukmini and his grim face suddenly changed to a calm one….It was at that instant that Rukmi realized that Krishna had refused to fight him for Rukmini….He was embarrassed to the core when another hard realization came to him…If he survived this battle it was only and only because of his sister….Saved by a woman…Rukmi decided that he would rather die and live through this humiliation….

Rukmini was looking at Krishna and standing close to him. Rukmi realized that no matter what he did, Rukmini would always belong to Krishna. She was his the way he was hers! His sister had chosen….Waves of bitter defeat washed through him as he saw Krishna and Rukmini.

Krishna came forward his sword raised and said. ‘The only reason I am letting you live is because of Rukmini!…’ Krishna came forward with his sword. Rukmini screamed as she saw the sword straight for her brother’s head. Rukmini blinked as the sword stopped and instead of the head, Rukmi’s hair went with it…[The hair being chopped off by the opponent was a mark of great disrespect in battle]

Balarama was almost within range as he looked at the entire scene. He saw Rukmi who looked like he was incapable of speech..his eyes filled with hatred…He turned to Krishna. ‘Krishna! You should not have done that!’ He admonished his younger brother. He looked at Rukmini who was also looking petrified, scared and relieved at the same time…

Krishna slowly nodded his head and turned to Rukmini and held her. She was trembling like a leaf. Krishna quietly led her towards the chariot. Krishna did not even bother looking back at the defeated prince…he was of no concern to him anymore.

Balarama, Krishna and Rukmini drove back victoriously to the kingdom of Dwaraka.

[Rukmi, who had promised that he would never go back to his own kingdom without his sister, kept his word. He never went back to Vidharba. He became the king of another area, right there where he was defeated by Krishna.

Rukmini and Krishna had a son Pradhyumna and they lived very happily.

As a sub-story, Pradhyumana when he grew up fell in love with Princess Rukmavathi, Rukmi’s daughter, who also loved him. Pradhyumana carried off Rukmavathi exactly the same way as Krishna had carried away Rukmini….Rukmi was defeated the second time too….]

Friday, January 18, 2013

How was the Bhagawat Puranam written?

Do you know that there are 18 Puranans in Hinduism. One of them is the Bhagwat Puranam. This was written by Veda Vyasa after he had finished composing the Mahabharatha. This Purana focuses on Lord Vishnu, his avatars and specifically on Lord Krishna. Do you know how this Purana came to be written?....

Veda Vyasa was feeling exultant as he saw the river Saraswati flowing near his hermitage. I have done it! I have done it! He repeated again and again to himself. He could not believe that the Mahabharatha was finally over. He had just finished the dictation, which Lord Ganesha had taken down at record speed. The greatest story ever told! It was now finished.

For the next few days Veda Vyasa was feeling extremely jubilant. He had been assigned a tall task by Lord Brahma and he had done it....But deep within himself, Veda Vyasa was feeling....uneasy. He could not explain it, not even to himself,but he was feeling not quiet himself. Is this how I am supposed to feel after completing the greatest task ever assigned to me? Why do I feel so incomplete, almost as if it was not yet over... Veda Vyasa mentally reviewed everything he had written and knew that the entire story had been told, then why...?

Veda Vyasa looked at the river with sad eyes. 'Narayana! Narayana!' came a mischievous voice behind him. Veda Vyasa smiled to himself. Just the person he wanted to see. Veda Vyasa's face broke into a happy, relieved smile as he turned and saw Sage Narada plucking his tamboora and making his way to the hermitage. Veda Vyasa knew that Sage Narada had come here knowing his anxiety and had come to dispel it.

Veda Vyasa welcomed Narada. Narada smiled mischievously. 'I just came to see you! Now that the Mahabharatha is over, I think you must be feeling a tremendous sense of relief. You have completed the great task placed before you!'

Veda Vyasa looked at Sage Narada for some time, not saying anything. Sage Narada looked at Veda Vyasa with a mischievous smile. Finally Veda Vyasa took a deep breath and answered. 'The Mahabharatha has been completed and it is with me.' Veda Vyasa was quiet as Narada looked at Veda Vyasa pretending to be incredulous. 'You don't look like a man, who has completed the purpose of his life. Far from it...You look like a man who is lost! What could possibly make a great sage like you, feel like this!'

Veda Vyasa looked at Narada with interest. Narada had used a curious phrase...Purpose of life...

The words kept swirling in his head, when Veda Vyasa had a sudden flash. Veda Vyasa realized that that was exactly what he was feeling. He was feeling that the purpose of his life was not yet over.

Veda Vyasa looked at Narada with renewed interest. 'You have guessed correctly! I am feeling a little...lost! Can you tell me why?'

Sage Narada looked at Veda Vyasa with mischievous eyes. 'First tell me something, my friend! Why did you compose the Mahabharatha? I know Lord Brahma asked you to compose it. Do you know why he asked you to compose it?'

Veda Vyasa realized that Sage Narada had changed the topic purposely. Wondering where this was leading, Veda Vyasa recollected his thoughts and said. 'The fourth Yuga, the Kali Yuga has come, my friend. People would be so steeped in evil that....that they would find it difficult to focus on the Lord. They would not even be able to carry out their duties and responsibilities. So first to help the people, I divided the Vedas into four and taught it to my disciples, so that they would continue teaching it to others. So that people may get some peace following the Vedas!'

Sage Narada smiled as he shook his head. 'But not everybody can read the Vedas, my friend!'

Veda Vyasa nodded his head eagerly, 'That was the reason I composed the Mahabharatha! The crux of the Vedas is taught through the stories in the Mahabharatha.

'….And you are still feeling incomplete! Though the Mahabharatha is one of the greatest stories ever told....' Sage Narada said his eyes still twinkling.

Sage Veda Vyasa nodded his head lost in thought.

Sage Narada smiled and changed the topic. 'My friend, answer one more question! What are the four paths to attain salvation?'

Veda Vyasa blinked at the sudden change of the topic. He could not even figure what the mischievous sage wanted. But he said anyway, 'The first one is the path of Knowledge of the Brahman [the Force which runs within us all]- the Gyana Marga....' Sage Narada nodded his head signaling the sage to continue. 'The second one is the path of penance, which sages and rishis follow.'

'OK! What is the third path?' Sage Narada asked.

'The path of doing ones duty – the Karma Marga! You attain salvation by doing your duty and responsibility to the fullest of your ability!'

Sage Narada nodded his head appreciatively. 'Well said! And?' Sage Narada asked as his mischievous smile was back.

'And....and....' Veda Vyasa suddenly stopped, blinking. He suddenly understood everything that the sage wanted to tell him. It also explained his feelings and it also explained what he had to do. He looked at young sage with love and affection, lost for words. Sage Narada happily nodded his head. 'Yes my friend! The fourth path, you missed the fourth path. The path of devotion. The Bhakti Marga, the way to Salvation by utmost devotion to the Lord!

'You have divided the Vedas into four, that was for explaining the Gyana Marga! The path of penance is known to all. The Karma Marga has been explained in detail in the Mahabharatha...But you have still left out the an important path to salvation. That is the reason for your unrest! You still have a job to complete! You have to teach the people, the path of devotion, so that they may be able to attain salvation!'

'Why is this path so important?' Veda Vyasa frowned as he asked Narada.

Narada looked ahead and said gravely, 'You already know of the Kali Yuga! You know how much the values of the people would deteriorate in those times. It would be too difficult for people to follow the other three paths, in those times. So the only path which can possibly bring atleast some peace to the people is the Bhakti Marga! That is the reason it is important!' Sage Narada said simply. 'And besides my friend, this path takes special significance to you!'

Veda Vyasa frowned. 'To me? Why?'

'Tell me, how did you write the Mahabahratha?' Sage Narada asked playfully.

Veda Vyasa shrugged and said quietly. 'I described the events exactly as it took place. I described a character the way they were. When I wrote the stories, I thought like that particular character.'

'So when you were writing about Arjuna, you thought like Arjuna, right?' Sage Narada asked. Veda Vyasa nodded his head. 'I put myself in the character's place and wrote what had taken place.'

'So you also thought like Shakuni or Duryodhana, whenever necessary?' Sage Narada asked.

Veda Vyasa looked sharply at Narada. 'If I had to write the story correctly I had to think like Shakuni or Duryodhana. What is wrong with that?'

Narada held up his hands. 'My friend you have to realize that for sometime, you have vile and evil thoughts, though not your still did! Remove these bad thoughts from your mind. Sing the praises of the Lord and cleanse yourself!' Sage Narada said. 'Let the people know about the glories of the Lord. Tell them about the Dasavatar, the glories of the Dark Lard. Let them read all of it and let theirs worries and distress fade away.'

Veda Vyasa was quiet when Narada asked again, 'Have you ever wondered my friend, about why I am so happy?'

Veda Vyasa smiled as Narada continued. 'I think of the Lord all the time. Whatever I am doing, I always think of the Lord. Everything I do, I  do it in the name of the Lord!' Sage Narada laughed as he looked at Veda Vyasa. 'That is one great way of staying happy and peaceful, my friend!'

Veda Vyasa absently smiled nodding his head.

Sage Narada left leaving Veda Vyasa in deep thought.

Veda Vyasa smiled as he watched the retreating form of Narada. He knew what had to be written. He would sing the glories of Lord Krishna, the Dark Lord in particular. He knew that was the one thing which would complete him. It would complete the purpose of his life.....

It was as a result of this, the Bhgawat Puranam was written.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Prahlada and Indra

Hiranyakasipu and Hiranyaksha were asuras born to Diti and Kashyap. Hiranyayaksha and Hiranyakasipu hated Lord Vishnu and wanted to make sure nobody ever worshiped the Lord. Hiranyaksha went so far as to even throw the earth off its axis, so that none of the people on earth would ever worship the Dark Lord. Lord Vishnu incarnated as Varaha [the boar] to protect the earth and killed Hiranyaksha.
After the death of Hiranyaksha, Hiranyakasipu was so furious with Lord Vishnu that he went on a rampage destroying all the people on the earth. However Hiranyakasipu was stopped by the Devas led by Indra.
Determined to defeat Lord Vishnu, Hiranyakasipu performed severe penance and obtained a boon from Lord Brahma which almost made him invincible. After Hiranyakasipu obtained the boon, the Devas were unable to stop him and Hiranyakasipu went on another reign of terror.
Hiranyakasipu and his wife Kayadu had a son named Prahlada. Prahlada was the perfect antithesis to his father. Where his father hurt people, Prahlada believed in loving and respecting his people. Prahlada was also a very staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu. His devotion irked his father very much. In a fit of anger, Hiranyaksipu ordered the death of his son. The asura guards tried different methods to kill Prahlada, but every time Prahlada escaped without any harm.
Finally out of utter desperation and anger, Hiranyaksipu himself tried to kill Prahlada. Lord Vishnu incarnated as Narasimha and killed Hiranyaksipu to protect Prahlada.
After the death of Hiranyakasipu, Prahlada was made the king of the asuras, in the netherworld. Prahlada led his people well and the asuras soon were able to ignore their natural fighting tendencies and were able to focus their mind of devotion and be happy. 
Later Prahlada extended his rule over the earth. His rule was a golden rule where peace and prosperity reigned. The people on earth were satisfied, happy and virtuous. The Devas in the heavens saw the earth in such peace and prosperity that Indra, the king of the Devas began to have jitters. Indra realized that no matter what he did, he could not match up to the statesmanship of Prahlada. Feeling inadequate, Indra himself relinquished his throne in favour of Prahlada.
Prahlada now ruled over the heavens, earth and the nether world and as usual peace and prosperity followed him in all the three regions.

Indra was however ashamed. He could not accept the fact that an asura was such a brilliant ruler and had made him feel so inconsequential. Wondering why he was not a good leader like Prahlada, Indra approached his teacher Brihaspati.

Sir! I…’ Indra sobbed. ‘I cannot believe it that that son of Hiranyakasipu overthrew me from my throne so easily!’

Brihaspati looked at him kindly, ‘Did he overthrow you, my son?’

Indra looked at Brihaspati sadly as he shook his head. ‘But….but…what could I do? He…he looked so powerful…he looked so…much…so much in control of himself. Just looking at him I knew, I could never stand up to him…So I gave my throne up to him!’

Brihaspati smiled. Indra was beginning to understand. ‘Yes! He has something inside him. He has something inside him, which you don’t. Think about what it is. Probably that will help you become as powerful as him.’

Indra looked at Brihaspati and did not speak for a long time. He knew his teacher had spoken the truth. He finally asked Brihaspati, ‘Sir! Tell me what it is that he has. Please!’

Brihaspati smiled again and shook his head. ‘I have taught you everything that I know.’ Indra’s shoulder slumped, when Brihaspati continued, ‘But, what don’t you go and ask Shukracharya? He is the teacher of all asuras and also the teacher of Prahlada. Probably he may be able to each you things that I could not!’

Indra went to Shukracharya and bowed before him, ‘Sir! There must be something really special about you! You have taught Prahlada something, which has made him even more powerful than me! Please tell me, what it is! I wish to practice the same and attain peace of mind!’

Shukracharya smiled. Though Indra and he had always been on opposite sides, he admired the fact that Indra had come to him and in all humility asked him about this. Besides he was teacher. He just could not turn away someone who had come to him seeking knowledge. He decided that he would impart the knowledge to Indra, whether Indra actually followed and practiced it, was Indra’s wish.

Shukracharya spoke, ‘It is his virtue! That is the reason, he is more powerful than you! He knows what virtue is and practices it daily, that is the reason he is more powerful than you! Though you know of it too, you have forgotten it!’

Indra frowned, ‘What is the nature of virtue?’

Shukracharya explained some more, but Indra still could not understand. Shukracharya said finally, ‘Indra! Why don’t you go to Prahlada himself? He knows this path well and will be able to guide you much better than I ever will!’

Indra was stunned. How would one go and ask one’s enemy the source of their power? ‘Sir! Why would Prahlada even tell me, how he is more powerful than me?’

Shukracharya smiled mysteriously, ‘That is his character! He will!’ Shukracharya said it with such a belief that Indra was stunned. As he bowed and walked out of the ashrama, however Indra was filled with doubts. Prahlada may not teach me, if I go to him as Indra….Probably if I go disguised as someone, he may be more open and I may learn more about his power….

Indra disguised himself as a rishi and went to his kingdom, Amarvathi which was now ruled by Prahlada.

Prahlada was busy with the administration of the three worlds, when a rishi walked inside his court. Prahlada was surprised. Though the man looked like a rishi, Prahlada could feel that the man was not what he seemed. Politely he asked the rishi whom he was.

I am a rishi, sir!’ The man said bowing low to him, ‘I have heard that you practice dharma and follow your virtues perfectly. I wish to know the nature of virtue, so that I may also be able to follow it!’

Prahlada looked at the rishi and his strange request. He thought for a while, ‘I am ruling the three worlds, sir! I am extremely busy and what you have asked me is no simple thing. I probably cannot devote too much time to teaching you.’

The rishi came forward with a desperate look on his face. ‘Please sir! I will stay with you and look after you! I will do everything you want me to do, but please teach me…Teach me whenever you have time. I will learn it. I will be a good student sir!’

Prahalda finally agreed and Indra became Prahlada’s student.

Slowly Indra won the favour of Prahlada. Prahlada started trusting Indra. Finally he explained to him the source of his power and prosperity. ‘It is my character, rishi! I have full control over my senses and my body and maintain my good behaviour under any and all circumstances. I never boast to others about how great I am. I obey my teachers and elders with my whole heart. It is my character, with which I won the three worlds!’

Suddenly listening to Prahlada, Indra felt like somebody had flicked a light in his head. He understood what Brihaspati and Shukracharya was trying to tell him. Character…character was all that mattered. When a man had a strong character and never went against it, he would…he would become exactly like Prahlada…

As Prahlada was talking he realized that the rishi had understood. He nodded pleased. ‘I am very happy with you rishi! You have learnt a difficult lesson in good time and have served me well, during this period! For this I wish to grant you a boon! Any boon that you seek!’

The rishi smiled at Prahlada and said quietly, ‘Give me your character, my king! That is the only boon I seek!’

Prahlada was aghast. The rishi was asking him the very thing which had made him. But he also realized that he was bound by his promise. He could not go back on it. He nodded his head. ‘Very well rishi, whoever you are, I gift you my character!’

The rishi bowed to Prahlada and walked away from there.

Prahlada was sitting alone and unhappy, brooding. He knew he had given away something which could never be measured, something very precious….As he sat, he felt a strong force leaving him. The light emanating from it was almost blinding. Prahlada asked the force as it was leaving him, ‘Who are you?’

A voice of a man with strong voice came back to him, ‘I am your character, your virtue! You gave me away to the rishi! So am I leaving you to go to him!’

Prahlada felt his heart racing and tried to shout and beg the force not to leave him. But before he could talk, the force disappeared from there.

As Prahlada lay weakly on the throne, he felt another powerful force leave him. ‘Who are you?’ He asked slowly.

I am good conduct! I used to live in your body for all these years, but I am bound by character. Where ever character goes, I have no choice, but to follow it. When character left you, I too will have to leave you!’

Prahlada was sweating badly when he felt another force move out of him. The force spoke to him even before he asked. ‘I am Piousness. I am afraid I cannot live where there is no character and good conduct. By giving them away, you have given me up too!’

No wait!’ Prahlada said weakly, but before anything else could be done the force vanished from there.

Another force emerged from Prahlada. Listlessly he asked it, ‘Who are you?’

I am Truth!’ came a strong voice. ‘I am afraid I cannot live without character, good conduct or piousness. ‘I too will leave you!’

Narayana, what have I done? Prahlada felt drained as he lay on the throne unable to move. Prahlada felt his energy drain out of him, when he saw another force emerge from him. 

‘I am Strength!' The strong voice proclaimed. 'But I am afraid I will have to leave you. I can reside only when Truth is there. I will follow truth.’ Prahlada watched with despair as the force disappeared from there.

Finally a beautiful woman emerged from Prahlada’s body. She looked so beautiful that Prahlada’s heart ached for a second. The woman looked at him sadly. Prahalda crocked. ‘Who are you?’

I am Shree, the goddess of fortune! I give peace and prosperity in anyone’s body I inhabit. Unfortunately I can stay only where, Character, Truth and Strength stay! As they have left you, I am afraid I too will have to leave you!

When Shree left his body, Prahlada felt utterly drained. He  knew that everything that he ever wanted to have in his life was now gone....He could now nothing more than an empty shell.... 

He realized that character was the basis for everything.  Without it, a human was nothing. 

As he lay brokenhearted, he heard a strong voice inside him. My Prahlada! All your powers, need not inhabit in you anymore. You have ruled enough and taken good care of your subjects. Now it is the time, to rise and come with me …come to Vaikunta and become one with me…Prahlada knew it was the voice of the Dark Lord and felt peace spread inside him. He knew his purpose here was done and left to be one with his beloved Lord….

 - From the Mahabharatha