By Shri Sudheer Birodkar
The story of Lord Krishna reflects life in a pastoral society. Cattle are the principal means of subsistence. The activity of people revolves around tending cows, milking them, making curds, butter etc. Krishna himself has names displaying a pastoral character. Govinda and Gopala as he is also known, mean cowherd. In Sanskrit Go means cow.
Krishna is always shown with his flute (Bansuri). He is considered to be the Hindu God of Music and is patron God of Indian Musicians of the traditional schools (Gharanas), irrespective of religion.
In brief the life story of Krishna is as follows: Kansa, the king of Mathura was a very cruel tyrant. His tyranny spared no one, even the sages had to bear the brunt of this. Finally the Gods could tolerate no more of it and in a dream Kansa was told that his evil reign would be brought to an end by his sister Devaki's son who would kill him. The cowardly tyrant immediately threw his sister Devaki and her husband Vasudev in prison so that he could kill all the sons born to Devaki.
The Cruelty of Kansa
In captivity Devaki bore six sons, each of whom were promply killed by Kansa. At the seventh time, theGods again thought it necessary to intervene. At the night the seventh child was born, the prison guards fell into a deep slumber and the doors were unlocked. Taking advantage of this opportunity, Vasudev slipped out of the prison and whisked away the God-child to the safety a neighbouring kingdom which was ruled by king Nanda. King Nanda's domain lay across the Yamuna river. We are told that at that time the Yamuna was in spate, but when the waters touched the feet of the God-Child Sri-Krishna, the waters parted making a channel for Vasudev to pass.
Lord Krishna at Gokul
The generous king Nanda gave away his new born daughter to Vasudev knowing fully well what fate awaited her at Kansa's hands. Next morning Kansa completed his gruesome job complacent of the fact that his would be avenger was still living.
At Gokul, under king Nanda's protection, Krishna got the loving affection of Nanda's Queen Yashoda whom Krishna looked upon as a mother. Days passed with fun and frolic, while the child-Krishna grew up. But one day rumours reached Kansa that Devaki's son had somehow escaped his cluthes and was living in Gokul.
The Demoness Putana
To kill Krishna, he engaged a demoness named Putana. After specially treating the demoness Putana so that her nipples were poisoned he disguised her as a nymph and sent her to Gokul to try to breast-feed Krishna and kill him. But God that he was, the child Krishna saw through the game and as a miracle, we are told, the demoness fainted, the moment Krishna's lips touched her breast. Kansa plot to eliminate Krishna was foiled. But as a result of sucking the poisoned milk Krishna's originally fair skin colour turned dark.
Kalia Mardan and the Lifting of Mt. Govardhan
Krishna continued to grow at Gokul. He acquired notoriety as a pilferer of milk and butter, but had endeared himself to the people of Gokul by his playfulness.
Among other things, he is said to have done at Gokul, include his lifting Mount Govardhan to save the people of Gokul from a storm and his taming of Kalia, a giant snake that lived in the Yamuna river and terrorised the people of Gokul. While still in his teens, Krishna came to Mathura where King Kansa had organised a wrestling tournament, Krishna participated in it and after defeating all contestants, he challenged Kansa to a wrestling bout. The evil Kansa's time was up, Krishna defeated him and killed him. The people of Mathura were relieved. Another major event in Krishna's later life was that he functioned as an adviser to the Pandavas and during the Mahabharata war between the Pandavas and Kauravas he was a Arjuna's (one of the five Pandava brothers) charioteer.
The Bhagvad Geeta
An important event that is accredited to Sri Krishna is the original recititation of the Bhagvad Geeta (Song of the Blessed Lord). The Bhagvad Geeta, was inspired by Arjuna's ambivalence as to whether he should or should not fight his blood relations (the Kauravas) who were arrayed in the enemy camp at the beginning of the Mahabharata war. Although the occasion for Sri Krishna's recitation of the Bhagvad-Geeta seems to be a casual one, that document contains profound ideas on many issues touching on temporal and non-temporal aspects of life.
- Sudheer Birodkar, "A Hindu History: A Search for our Present History". Reprinted with permission.