“The Life and Times of Krishna: The Deity Who Lived as Man.” By J.B. Patro at Abbey’s Bookshop. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.
Lord Krishna is the ‘deity who lived as man’. Hindu scriptures declare that Krishna is an avatar, God in human form who came among mortals to save mankind and society from the morass it had created for itself. Krishna’s sole concern was to uphold ‘dharma’. He was an embodiment of humility who was pleasing and bewitchingly charming, with his trademark smile.
Krishna is the only God in Hinduism whose childhood is emphasized upon in his mythology. His childhood consists of a number stories for which he is widely known. Sri Krishna was born to Devaki and Vasudeva, however; was not raised in their house. On the day of the wedding of Devaki and Vasudeva, a prophecy was declared which stated that Devaki’s brother, Kamsa, would die by the hands of his sister’s eighth child. In order to make sure Kamsa does not kill his wife, Vasudeva promised him to hand over every child his wife gives birth to. After surrendering every child to Kamsa, “the auspicious time for the lord’s birth had come” (10). The night had the charm of all six seasons, the planet and stars were on the ascendant, it was midnight and the Supreme Lord, was born to Devaki. The baby was draped in yellow silk and the Kaustabh jewel gleamed around his neck. The entire place lit up with the splendor of his crown. Vasudeva stood transfixed by his extraordinary form. The parents folded their palms, bowed their head in humble worship and chanted a prayer to Lord. The Lord instructed Vasudeva to take the newborn to Nanda’s house in Gokul and return with Yashoda’s, Vasudeva’s other wife’s, child. It was the hour of change in the duty of the prison guards, however; due to heavy rain the night guards could not make it to work. This way Vasudeva put the baby in a basket, reached Gokul through the River Yamuna where he placed baby Krishna beside Yashoda.
One day, Yashoda saw Krishna putting some earth into his mouth. Seeing him do so, she ran to him to try and get the mud out but the little boy clenched his mouth shut. When finally, after she was about to give him a flick and he opened his mouth, Yashoda found no dirt at first. Then suddenly, she saw “the sun, the moon, the planets, the stars and the earth, swirling around mountains, oceans, rivers, trees and other living beings in that tiny baby’s mouth” (18). Looking at such a sight, Yashoda almost fainted which caused Krishna to withdraw his cosmic vision. And so when Yashoda looked again, she simply found mud in her son’s mouth. One of the titles that was given to Krishna when he was a child, was ‘butter thief”. He would always steal butter from other people’s houses claiming that butter stolen from other people’s houses always tasted sweeter. Even now, when a picture of Krishna is put up anywhere it is always put up with a jar of butter next to him. Krishna, even as a child, brought good fortune to those who he felt were genuine and have performed good deeds all their lives. He once wished to buy fruits from a fruit seller lady, so he ran inside to get a few grains in exchange for the fruits. Charmed by him, the lady hugged and kissed him with great love and affection. When she reached home, she removed the cloth that covered the basket and found nuggets of gold within it. That was when she knew she was blessed by the lord.
Balram was Krishna’s elder brother. Since childhood, Krishna believed it was his duty to fight against evil. Both brothers one day, “saw a huge crane like-bird resting on the banks with its beak wide open” (23). Krishna guessed that it was a demon which was meant to kill him. Curious of the creature, he went close to it and got swallowed inside the beak. He stayed put in the long throat of the bird, which caused the crane to suffocate vomit Krishna out. Krishna then tore the bird’s beaks apart, causing him to die. The first time people in Krishna’s village acknowledged him as Lord was when he fought an enormous and ferocious snake called Kalia Naga. Despite being warned by elders to stay away, Krishna had a deep desire to get ride of the menace. The waters of the pool were slimy and had tangled weeds, leading to difficulty for Krishna to swim across and reach Kalia. After a long struggle, he managed to order the snake to return to the ocean, where he originally belonged. The crowd that witnessed this was “thrilled with this dramatic development and began chanting ‘Jai Krishna!’ “(27). Among all the gopis who Krishna met, Radha was his favorite. Whenever he got the chance, Krishna would sit cross-legged and play the flute. “He made the wind dance to his tunes” (35), which were called ragas. His favorite melody was dedicated to Radha. He made Radha his Divine Consort. She occupied the pride of place in his heart as she loved him intensely, yet she never tried to possess him. By this time Krishna’s philosophy – He belonged to no one exclusively, but everyone belonged to him. Despite having such a philosophy, Krishna told Radha that her name would always be taken before his, which is why even today the world refers to them as ‘RadhaKrishna’ and not ‘KrishnaRadha’.
Once Kamsa found out that Devaki’s son was alive, he decided to invite him to participate in the Bow Sacrifice and the wrestling contests. When Krishna saw the bow, he could see that it represented Kamsa’s power and arrogance. He wished to show the crowd that this symbol of evil could be conquered. He observed the bow and noticed a flaw in the joints of the bow. He lifted the bow and ended up breaking in into two pieces. Once Kamsa heard of this incident, he made up his mind to kill Krishna the following day. However, after various attempts to defeat Krishna, Kamsa failed and ended up dead.
Krishna was meant to live in learned Sandipani’s gurukul. Sandipani was truly fond of Krishna, “whom he believed to be the creator of the Vedas” (61). It was customary duty to touch the feet of elders and asked for bhiksha (alms). When Krishna touched Sandipani’s feet, the ugly mark on his face disappeared. During his stay at the gurukul, Krishna came to be fond of an eighteen-year-old boy, named Sudama. He was very intelligent but was picked on because he was lean and weak. Even after Krishna completed his education and left gurukul, Sudama remained a faithful friend and devotee. Years passed by during which Krishna became the king of Dwarka, but Sudama was still a poor man. Tired of their bad living conditions, Sudama’s wife told him to go seek help from Krishna. Despite refusing constantly due to the fear of being embarrassed, he decided to go. He carried a handful of puffed rice with him to give to Krishna. Sudama was warmly welcomed by Krishna. Looking at the splendor of Dwarka, Sudama was in awe and felt embarrassed to ask Krishna for help. Krishna “washed his friend’s feet and served him food” (399), the hospitality he received in Krishna’s kingdom did not allow his conscious to give his friend his small gift. Noticing the small bag in Sudama’s hand, Krishna immediately asked what it was. As soon as Sudama unwillingly took it out claiming its not a gift he could present to a king, Krishna understood his problem and gladly accepted his gift. The next day, Krishna saw Sudama off in his personal chariot. When Sudama reached home he saw a big mansion in place of his old hurt, his wife and kids in new clothes and knew then, that Krishna had showered blessings on him and his family.
Krishna’s father, Vasudeva was the brother of Kunti. She was the mother of the Pandavas; Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. Krishna’s most important segment is the story of Mahabharata. The part played by him in the war was enormous and the help provided by him to the Pandavas was the biggest reason they won the war. Krishna helped the Pandavas not only during the war, but at various difficult stages in their lives. When the Kauravas; the brothers who went to war with the Pandavas destroyed their kingdom, Krishna helped establish a new one by asking Agni (fire) to ‘eat’ all the vegetation. The Kauravas conspired against the Pandavas and indulged Yudhisthira into a game of gambling. “After forfeiting all his material wealth, he dared and wagered his brothers one by one and in the end lost himself too. In a state of trauma and despair, he wagered Draupadi and lost her too” (330). Duryodhana, the leader of the Kauravas commanded one of his brothers, Dushasana, to strip Draupadi of her sari and make her stand naked in front of the assembly. When no one came to save her, she prayed to Lord Krishna who came to her rescue. As a brother unwraps layers of her sari, her sari keeps on getting extended. This continues till a point Dushasana, the brother who was performing this act, stopped due to exhaustion. In an attempt to try and avoid war between families, Krishna went to the Kauravas as a representation of the Pandavas. He tries to negotiate the settlement and demanded for five villages, which eventually got refused. Arjuna and Duryodhana both approached Krishna in order to gather his support during the war. “The imperious Duryodhana occupied a high chair at the head of Krishna’s bed; while Arjuna stood at Krishna’s feet” (345). As soon as Krishna woke up, his eyes fell upon Arjuna and thus, listens to his request first. Despite reaching first, Duryodhana returns to his kingdom empty handed.
When Arjuna did not have the strength to fight, Krishna was the one who provided him a reason for which he was in the war in the first place. Arjuna refused to fight due to the simple reason that he saw his “grandfathers, teachers, uncles, brothers, sons, dear friends and comrades” (356) on the other side ready for a battle. He was overcome with immense passion for each of them and his conscious did not allow him to engage in a war with his family. Krishna then helped be a support for Arjuna and allowed him to be at “peace with himself” (365). After being explained by Krishna, he was no longer in doubt and decided to act according Krishna’s command. During the war as well, Krishna played a very impactful role while supporting the Pandavas. When Arjuna and Yudhisthira got into an argument after Yudhisthira got wounded, Arjuna drew his sword out to kill his elder brother out of anger. This was prevented by Krishna, where he said “addressing an elder brother in the singular was equal to killing him” (376). He, therefore, not only supported them against the Kauravas but also solved quarrels that took place among the Pandavas.
Nowhere does Krishna speak as a divine person performing miracles, but always as a human being who has supreme confidence in his own righteousness and moral standing. Krishna’s main role, to protect and enrich dharma, had been fulfilled. He is one of the few gods who had to watch suffering of his brethren, his friends and family which caused him great anguish. This is simply because “when a deity comes as an avatar among humans, he has to live like one” (422). During his last stage, he felt sorry for a lot of people who performed evil deeds and imagined situations which would not have caused any of the fights or war that took place. After remembering almost everyone, he suddenly heard his flute playing the raga which he dedicated to Radha. In his semiconscious state, he told Radha that he may be leaving the world but he would never leave her. He declared that he would be known as ‘Radhakanth’, that “there will be no Krishna without Radha” (422). Even though he never married Radha, she will always remain the true love of his life. He told Radha that she was the only one who knew him and his music, and with these words Krishna breathed his last.