Friday, December 14, 2012

Krishna and Jara - The curse of Gandhari - Part 1 of 3

Bheema and Duryodhana were eying each other murderously their maces in hand. The maces met in mid-air with such a force that the other Pandavas could feel the air around them vibrate….

The other Pandavas were furious as they watched the battle. Duryodhana – the vile scheming, jealous Kaurava was the root cause of the war…The Pandavas had suffered much at their hands. Until now Duryodhana had been protected with his generals and his soldiers. But now he was all alone…..All alone to face the wrath of the Pandavas….He had to pay for all that he had done to them ….

The Pandavas knew that it was a fight to the death.

Krishna watched the battle thinking…..The purpose of my life has more or less coming to an end….The only things that remained now was to destroy my own clan before the complete onset of the Kali Yuga. And then there was this thing about making good a debt he owed to someone….Krishna shook his head. That was still a long way away. He had to focus on the battle at hand. Bheema was good with the mace but Duryodhana was a class apart. Krishna now knew why his elder brother Balarama, preferred Duryodhana to Bheema.

As Krishna saw he suddenly realized that even though Bheema had hit Duryodhana on the torso plenty of times, Duryodhana’s body bore no wounds….Bheema’s body on the other hand showed all the injuries he had received and Krishna also realized something else….. Bheema was tiring and tiring fast.

Krishna was puzzled with Duryodhana’s lack of injury, when it suddenly stuck him. He now knew what was making Duryodhana so powerful. Krishna now knew how he could get this over with, once and for all. Though it was not a fair game, Krishna knew he had no choice.

Bheema had just fallen back as Duryodhana had kicked him fiercely in the stomach. Gasping Bheema was trying to get up as he saw Duryodhana looking at him with a complete calm in his eyes. All the Pandavas bristled. They had never seen their brother lose. They were encouraging their brother to get up and fight.

Krishna was the only one who realized that Duryodhana had no interest in fighting. Krishna smiled sadly at Duryodhana. Duryodhana had committed many crimes in his life, but then he had many good qualities as well. His love for his friend Karna was one among them. Duryodhana was closer to Karna than he had ever been with his own brothers. Karna had been Duryodhana’s strength, his confidence, his arrogance….. Once Karna was dead, Duryodhana had lost the will to live, let alone fight. But Duryodhana still fought…Because he knew he had to take the war to its logical conclusion….

Krishna caught sight of Bheema as Bheema staggered to his feet. Krishna patted his thigh. ‘Remember Bheema. Remember what he did…’ Bheema’s eyes became murderous again as he remembered what Krishna was trying to tell him…This vile wretched creature had asked his wife Draupadi to sit on his thigh….Bheema shot up like an arrow as he watched Duryodhana with an angry look. I am going to make you pay….I am going to hit you on the very thigh that you asked my wife to sit on…Hitting below the torso during a mace fight was against the rules of the fight. But Bheema did not care. He was filled with so much anger that he thought he was going to explode. Attacking Duryodhana relentlessly, he pushed Duryodhana back As Duryodhana was in a corner, Bheema with one skilled movement brought down the mace with all his anger on Duryodhana’s thigh. Bheema watched with grim satisfaction as he saw Duryodhana collapse before him screaming and clutching his thigh.

Bheema looked venomously as he screamed. ‘This was the thigh on which you asked my wife to sit, didn’t you?’ Duryodhana tried to look back angrily at Bheema but he was filled with too much pain. He just collapsed on the battlefield among the thousands of other dead soldiers of the war, unable to get up….

LOOK!’ Bheema shouted at Duryodhana. ‘LOOK AROUND YOU!’ Bheema pointed to the horrible battlefield around him, ‘Look at how many people have died for your arrogance…take a long look around you and think about it as you also leave this world….’ Bheema looked at Duryodhana contemptuously as he turned back and walked away from there.

The Pandavas now left the battlefield with the eldest Kaurava dying in the battlefield. It was over….the gruesome, bloody war which they had fought for 18 days was over….all their demons buried…

Little did they know how much the victory was actually going to cost them….

Now that the war was over, the actual force of what they had done struck the Pandavas. They had killed their own cousins….all of them…As Yudhishtara was thinking about the next course of action, he began to tremble with fear.

Yudhishtara turned to Krishna, ‘Krishna! What have I done? The war….the war is one of the most terrible things ever….All of them…all the Kauravas are dead. What am I going to tell King Dhridarashtra? He may have been blind to the follies of his son and he would have even supported all the crimes which were carried out by Duruyodhana, but he is still our uncle, my father’s own brother…What will I tell him?’ Yudhishtara asked in anguish, ‘Shall I tell him that I killed a hundred of his sons…and that none of them who fought against us are alive?’ Yudhishtara then looked terrified as he moaned, ‘What am I going to tell Queen Gandhari….’ Yudhishtara was so broken hearted that Krishna held him shoulders tightly trying to calm him down.

The other Pandavas also heard Yudhishtara and all of them now trembled. More than Dhridarashtra, they feared facing queen Gandhari. She was the Queen Mother of Hastinapur, the mother of all the Kauravas. She was such a pure and good hearted woman that the Pandavas feared even going before her.

Krishna knew that not only were the fears of the Pandavas justified, it was totally probable that they would face a very huge calamity because of the anger of the grand old lady. She was a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva and had immense powers of penance with her. If she uttered even a single word out of anger at the Pandavas, they would be reduced to less than nothing…Krishna knew that Gandhari had to be consoled if the Pandavas were to enjoy the fruits of the war.

That night Krishna took the Pandavas far away from the Pandava camp, away from the misery of it, so that atleast for sometime, the Pandavas would feel happy….

Meanwhile at the battlefield as Duryodhana lay dying, Ashwattama came to meet him. Ashwattama was the son of Dronacharya, the teacher of the Pandavas and the Kauravas. Yudhishtara had lied to Dronacharya that Ashwattama had been killed by Bheema. After that Dronacharya lost the will to fight and gave up his weapons. As he lay meditating on the field, Dhrishtadhyumna, the brother of Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, killed Dronacharya!

Ashwattama entered the Pandava camp at night and killed all the sons of the Pandavas, their allies, friends everybody…. when all of them were asleep! All this happened the very night when Krishna took the Pandavas away from the Pandava camp….

The Pandavas came back to camp the next morning and were horrified. They were not able to believe that the people who had made the very victory possible were no more....

Slowly with a broken heart, they realized that they had won a bitter victory. They had won the war, but they had no one…not even one person to share it with….The only people left from the war were the five Pandavas themselves….

Like wounded men, the Pandavas made their way to Hastinapur to meet the blind king Dhridarashtra and his wife Gandhari. Krishna knew the dangers of this. Though Dhridarashtra was blind, he was powerful….phenomenally so. Krishna knew that the Pandavas, specifically Bheema was in a terrible danger around Dhridarashtra.

There was an iron statue of Bheema on which Duryodhana used to practice hitting with the mace. Krishna had the iron statue bought into Dhridarashtra’s chambers as the Pandavas met the blind king.

Yudhishtara came forward and spoke in a bedraggled manner. His voice clearly showing his misery at losing all his children and his fear of meeting the father of the sons, he had killed. ‘King Dhridarashtra! I have come with….’

Where is Bheema?’ The blind king spoke sharply. Dhridarashtra was adept at hiding his true feelings. He tried his best as he cut down his sharp voice and tried to make it neutral, ‘I wish to hug my brother’s son…now that the war is over!’ As Bheema came forward, Krishna pulled him back and stopped him. ‘Here is Bheema, your Highness!’ Krishna said as he went and stood behind the iron statue. Eagerly Dhridarashtra went forward.

As Dhridarashtra hugged the statue, the Pandavas were aghast….There was a loud crash and where a huge iron statue stood, there was nothing more than crumbled pieces of iron lying everywhere! For the first time, the Pandavas saw the unadulterated pure hatred in the face of the blind king as he crushed the iron statue with his bare hands.

But immediately after crushing the statue, Dhridarashtra collapsed as he fell to the ground. ‘What have I done? Oh my God, what have I done? I have killed my own brother’s son….Whatever he may have done, he was still my brother’s son…I…’ Dhridarashtra wailed, ‘I should have loved him…I should have loved all of you like my own sons….’ The blind king shook his head, tears falling everywhere, ‘I did not…I loved my own children more…I wanted them to be the kings after me…Oh Lord now what have I done?’

Your Highness! Bheema still lives! Please do not worry. Your Highness, please control yourself!’ Krishna spoke softly.

Dhridarashtra stared uncomprehendingly at Krishna’s words. He did not even have the energy to ask what Krishna meant by it. He looked like a man really lost. But slowly it seeped into his conscious. He had not done anything rash…He had not killed Bheema. Dhridarashtra felt a profound sense of relief flowing through him. In a moment of clarity he understood. He understood that in a way, it was his desire to rule the kingdom and inability to love his brother’s children as his own, which had led to this war. He had been responsible for this…And he had got what he had deserved. None of his and Gandhari’s hundred sons lived…They had all perished; because he had been weak…He had not stopped his son, when he should have….And so here he was…..

But Dhridarashtra knew something else now. However late, he could still make up for his weakness. He could be a good father now to the Pandavas, when they needed comfort from their own miseries….He wildly searched with his hands as he whirled around, ‘My children! Where are you? I understand everything now. Please come to me, my children! Even though you have won the war, you like me have lost all your children. Come and I will give you some comfort! Come and embrace me like your father…come!’

Krishna and the Pandavas realized the subtle change in the king. All of them realized that Dhridarashtra was no longer against them. The Pandavas hugged Dhridarashtra as Krishna watched calmly from behind them.

After taking leave of Dhridarashtra, Yudhistara and his brothers were actually shivering to meet Gandhari. Gandhari was further away from Dhridarashtra when she sensed the Pandavas approaching. No matter how much she tried she could not shake out the feeling of hatred. All of her hundred sons were dead. Bheema had killed them all….As Gandhari thought about it, her breathing became uneven. She wanted nothing more than to just….just smite down the Pandavas…They had brought her so much pain…so much anguish…She really hated them. In that one single minute, Gandhari opened her mouth to curse the Pandavas. She suddenly whirled when she sensed the calming presence of someone near her.

Gandhari curbed her anger with great difficulty as she sensed the man who had come near her. ‘Lord Veda Vyasa! To what do I owe this honour!’ She said haltingly.

Please my daughter! Do not curse the Pandavas! It is not the right thing to do!’ Veda Vyasa, the author of the Mahabharatha and the great Grandfather of the Pandavas and the Kauravas spoke gently. Veda Vyasa had sensed the anger of Gandhari and with his power of penance he had appeared in front of Gandhari before she did anything rash.

RIGHT? Right?’ Gandhari shrieked. ‘I do not have a single son left, all because of the Pandavas. And you are trying to tell me I am not right in cursing them…’ Gandhari laughed miserably, ‘What more can I do now?’

Veda Vyasa spoke calmly. ‘The Pandavas are not responsible for this war, my child. Then why are you blaming only them for it…’

Gandhari opened her mouth to retort angrily, when she felt another presence near her. She turned as she said, ‘Krishna! Have you come here as well?’ she asked sharply.

Krishna said gently, ‘Yes mother! I am here…’ Krishna had asked the Pandavas and Draupadi to wait outside while he talked with Gandhari.

Veda Vyasa asked Gandhari a simple question, 'Just before the war, your son Duruyodhana came to ask for your blessings, what did you do at that time, Gandhari?'

Gandhari was quiet unable to answer the words of the sage.
Veda Vyasasharply repeated his question, 'What were the blessings you gave your son, Gandhari?'

Gandhari sobbed as she mumbled listlessly, 'Whereever there was truth, victory would be there!'

There was a silence as Veda Vyasa spoke gently, 'Even you, one of the most powerful mothers did not wish your son to be victorious. You blessed the truthful side to win. Your words have not been in vain! The Pandavas adhered to their Dharma and fought for truth! They won!' Veda Vyasa said simply.

Gandhari was shaken. She remembered the times she had talked to her sons to stop their ways.....She started crying. Together Veda Vyasa and Krishna gently talked with Gandhari trying to calm her down. Slowly the queen forgot her anger. She took a deep breath as she turned to her guards. ‘Get the Pandavas. I wish to speak with them.’

When the Pandavas were inside, anger flared up again when he felt Bheema near her. ‘Bheema! You hit my son Duruyodhana, on the thigh, while fighting with the mace! Is this…’ Gandhari’’s voice chocked as she cleared her throat, her anger getting the better of her. ‘Is this how you fight a righteous war?’ She yelled.

Bheema quailed. He looked at Krishna and slowly spoke, ‘Mother! Duryodhana is the greatest mace fighter in the world.’ Now that the war was over, Bheema could see that Duruyodhana had been a better fighter than him. ‘There was no way, I could have defeated him, if I had followed the rules of the fight…’

Besides mother, your penance protected him!’ Krishna said softly. ‘More than anything else…The only place in Duruyodhana’s body which was not protected were his thighs…otherwise he could never be defeated…’ All the Pandavas looked at Krishna, realising now why Krishna had asked Bheema to remember hitting his thighs.

When Gandhari heard Bheema praise Duruyodhana with utter sincerity, she cooled down. Slowly the love of the Pandavas won her over. She was magnanimous even to console Draupadi, who like her had lost all her sons as well.

The next day they all went to the battlefield to cremate the dead.
When they reached the battlefield, Gandhari sensed everything that had happened there. Countless of people dying, screaming, pain….Gandhari was shaken. All this for what? So much death and destruction for a piece of land…Would all the lands in the world now give her back even one of her sons…just one…Gandhari’s temper grew. As they arrived at the battlefield, slowly she walked around the battlefield sensing every single one of her sons lying there….so many soldiers dead…it was so meaningless and pointless…Wherever she went she was followed by the screams of her daughters-in-law as they had found their husbands in the battlefield. Gandhari watched with growing anger as she had a moment of clarity. The Pandavas had lost as much as her. They were not to blame for this, but then somebody else was….’KRISHNA!’ She screamed as her voice was heard above the loud cries of the others. ‘Krishna! Where are you?’ She sensed Krishna walk up towards her and for some reason, the image maddened her. ‘Look around you! So much death and destruction. All for what? It was so worthless…Their deaths so pointless…You! You are responsible for this! You are supposed to be the Avatara of the Great Lord. Is this your greatness?’ Gandhari spoke with such contempt that everybody looked at the blindfolded queen, aghast. Gandhari continued ferociously, ‘You could have averted this war, Krishna! You should have stopped all this from happening. You should have stopped the pointless and meaningless death of so many people…Why didn’t you?’ Gandhari shrieked. The fury of the queen was so terrible that everybody backed away from her…All except Krishna. He looked at her waiting for her complete. Gandhari continued her tirade, ‘Look at my daughters-in-law, they do not know whether to cry for their husbands or their sons…all of them are here lying here in the battlefield…dead, and because of whom?’ Gandhari said her voice dangerous, ‘You!’ Gandhari said softly, ‘It is because of you! Gandhari spoke venomously, ‘So listen to my words and listen them well! You and your people, will kill each other and die…every last one of you…’ The Pandavas gasped as Gandhari continued. ‘And you Krishna, thirty six years from now, when you die, you will have no one near you! No one to talk to and you will also die unattended like my sons! These are the words of the mother whose hundred sons you killed’ 

The author thanks Mr. A. Narayanan for his review comments.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Krishna and Jara -The curse of Gandhari - Part 2 of 3

Gandhari collapsed as she said those words, unable to go on. She felt dizzy as she felt all her anger leave her. Tears were now flowing openly from her face. Everybody looked petrified at the words of the queen.
Krishna however remained magnificently unperturbed. He lovingly held the queen, ‘Now that you have vented all your anger, do you feel better? And I am glad that you spoke your curse to me....Now my Pandavas are safe!' The Pandavas stood mute, overwhelmed by the love of the dark Lord.
Krishna took the queen and once she finished sobbing, spoke to her gently. 'Mother! You said I was the cause of this war! Was I?' Krishna's voice  was laced with sadness. 'Draupadi who is like your own daughter was shamed in your royal court by your sons! What were you doing then?' Gandhari stiffened when she heard Krishna's words. Krishna continued, 'The Pandavas, whom you should have loved like your own sons were cheated out of their rightful kingdom! What were you doing then? Your son Duryodhana tried to kill the Pandavas by burning them in a lac palace, what were you doing then? I came to your court and begged your sons to give me five villages to stop this very war! What were you doing then?' Gandhari let out a cry as she started trembling, unable to bear the words of Krishna. Every word of Krishna hurt her more than if Krishna had hit her. Krishna spoke quietly, 'You blindfolded yourself to the behaviour of your sons. Do you expect others to do the same?'Gandhari closed her ears unable to hear anything more from Krishna.

What had she done? Krishna had so desperately came to Hastinapur and asked for just five villages one for each Pandava to avert the war...Gandhari still remembered Duryodhana's haughty laugh as he scorned Krishna's offer. Oh my son! Why did you have to be so foolish? Look how much suffering you have caused by your hatred for the Pandavas. Why?
Gandhari stumbled and she would have fallen. But Krishna caught her. 'Your words will come true, mother! My clan would be destroyed just the way you wanted it to!' Gandhari shook her head unable to speak, words chocking her voice. 'I willingly accept your curse. All your sons...' Krishna said pointing at the battlefield, 'who have died here, have gone to the warrior's heaven. Be at peace now!' Gandhari did not have the courage to talk again. She desperately wished she could take back her words. But words like arrows once shot could not be taken back....

Gandhari's curse came true to devastating efficiency. The people in Krishna's clan, thinking that they were invincible, started becoming proud and arrogant. They did not respect elders or even sages.

On one such occasion, the great sages Vishwamitra, Vasishta, Vamadeva and a few others came to Krishna's city. As they were resting there, Krishna's people thought of an elaborate ruse to fool the sages. They dressed up Samba, one of Krishna's sons as a woman and presented him before the sages. 'My Lords! This woman is carrying a child. Could you please tell us whether the woman would give birth to a girl or a boy?'
As the warriors were sniggering, they missed the venomous look of the sages. A sharp voice came, 'This person shall give birth to a mace and that mace shall be the cause of the destruction of your race!'

The warriors were so drunk with their power and arrogance that they laughed not realizing how they had invited their own doom....

Much to the surprise of Krishna's men, the very next day Samba complained of stomach pain. Soon the pain was so terrible that Samba could not even stand up. His stomach was cut and much to the horror of everyone there, a mace was found inside the stomach. The warriors were in a fix. They were afraid to approach Krishna, afraid of what he would do if he realized how they had insulted the sages. So instead they went to Balarama.

Balarama yelled at all the warriors. But he knew that what was done was done. So in order to solve the problems, he had the mace ground into a fine powder and dissolved it in the sea. However no matter what he did, one small piece refused to be ground. Deciding that one small piece could not harm anyone, Balarama threw that piece into the sea....

The area where the mace was dissolved started developing a strange sort of grass around it, the likes of which had never been seen till date....The small piece of mace was swallowed whole by a fish.

Thirty-six years later, Krishna and his men had seen plenty of bad omens in their city. They knew that Gandhari's curse was coming to pass. It was at this time that Krishna suggested that they visit some temples so that the effect of Gandhari's curse would be reduced.

So all of them set out of Dwaraka. At night, the warriors suddenly started engaging in a drunken brawl. None of them realized that they were very near the place where the powdered mace was dissolved. Fighting and hitting each other, they fell on the grass. They pulled the grass out. In their drunken stupor they could not even figure out that the grass had suddenly turned into a mace!

Armed with the maces, the warriors started attacking each other. By morning, all of them had killed one another....Not one of them left alive. The only two exceptions were Krishna and Balarama.

As soon as Balarama saw the fight, he walked away from there. He sat in the ground near the sea in a cross-legged position, deep in meditation. He knew his time was up and by his meditation gave up his body. Balarama merged with Aadisesha, the thousand headed snake on which Lord Vishnu rests in Vaikunta.

In the morning Krishna saw that the entire place was bloody and horrific. He walked away from there....he kept walking alone with no friends and no one to talk to....Finally he found a low shrub and there he lied down in a yoga stance.

Krishna smiled sadly. He knew it was now the time to repay the debt of a very long time. He waited....Jara was coming....

The author thanks Mr. A. Narayan for his review

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Krishna and Jara - The curse of Gandhari - Part 3 of 3

A Vanara being slain by a prince...the prince was dark, looking almost blue..The prince who was hiding behind a tree had hit the Vanara with a bow and arrow. The Vanara was not even fighting with the prince, but was fighting with someone else...another Vanara....
Jara was disoriented for a few minutes wondering where he was.
Then slowly everything came back. The dream was so vivid, so clear. It was almost as if he had been there...Jara did not know what the dream meant, but he had had the dream often.
Jara sighed as he shook himself up. He was feeling hungry and had to find some food fast.
Soon Jara got ready, packed his bow and arrow. As he was packing the arrows, his eyes fell upon his favourite arrow. He smiled. Till date he had never missed with the arrow. The sharp metal from which the arrow was made was unlike any that Jara had ever seen.
But to be honest, Jara had not made the arrow, it had found him. A few days back as Jara cut open a fish for eating, he had been surprised to find the metal piece inside it. When Jara examined it, he found the metal piece so sharp and hard that he used it as arrowhead.  And it had never failed him till date.
Jara was walking in the forest listening, his bow ready. After straining for a few minutes he sighed. He had thought he heard something...but then it was nothing. Jara was really dejected. He had been wandering in the forest for hours now and still he had not found anything to eat. He had to find some animal and fast. Jara walked further on.
There!  Behind the shrub, Jara was sure he had seen a movement. He waited for some time observing, listening, there it was again....Jara knew that it could only be an animal behind such a low shrub.

Jara knew that he had to hit the animal or he would go hungry for the night. He pulled out his favourite arrow.

He twanged his bow and pointed at the shrub and pulled the arrow back, the bow stretched to the maximum, ready to let go....
When the arrow flew, Jara was sure, he would hit the target.
His smile turned to horror when he heard a scream from behind the low shrub. A human scream...He ran towards the shrub haphazardly almost falling down. Lying behind the shrub was one of the most handsome men Jara had ever seen. But the features of the man were contorted in pain.

Jara knew that the man was royal...a king....His colour...Jara blinked....The dying man's complexion looked so black that it was almost blue....

For a second Jara had a vision from his dream come to him. The man was the same colour as the man in his dreams. Jara shook his head. The man....Jara breathed in quickly. He suddenly realized whom he had hit. His vision blurred with tears and he was hyperventilating as he fell on the ground and picked up the dying body of the dark Lord. 'My Lord! My Lord Krishna! What have I done? How could I even do something like this....I can never forgive myself....'

Krishna looked at the weeping face of Jara and said sadly, 'No my friend. There is nothing to forgive. Now we are even. All of us, no matter who, is always bound by our Karma. It is the law of the universe!'

Karma? What Karma? Jara looked uncomprehendingly wondering whether the Dark Lord was delirious in pain. Krishna said calmly to him, 'Remember who you are my friend....Remember....Neither of us have always had the same body...I have gone by many names before this and so have you and we have met before....'

Jara shook his head disbelievingly. No...No it was not possible! But then Krishna...the dark prince, the Vanara....All these figures intertwined in Jara's head...

'Rama!' Jara spoke slowly afraid to voice his opinion.

Krishna nodded as the pain from the arrow threatened to overwhelm him, 'Yes my friend! You were Vali, the Vanara king. As Rama, I killed you when you were fighting with Sugreeva. Whatever my reasons for killing you then, it was not correct to kill you from a hiding place though I had no enmity with you...I did what I felt was the right thing to do....So now...' Krishna smiled a little hazily as he looked at Jara, '…Now we are even..!

For a second Jara thought he saw a mischievous smile in Krishna's face. But then he saw Krishna's face twist in pain. Jara sobbed unrestrained as Krishna took a deep breath and continued again, 'You will attain salvation for what you have in peace now!'

Jara remembered all the details of his past life with startling clarity, but he was weeping. This was not right. He looked at the Dark Lord not wanting to leave him. Krishna smiled tiredly. 'Now my friend! Just remove the arrow and then leave this place. Go and perform penance...We will meet again in better circumstances....Go now!'

Not understanding, Jara pulled out the arrow from Krishna's body. Krishna gasped as blood oozed out from the wound. Krishna looked at the arrowhead and smiled to himself despite the pain...Now it was all over....

Jara left the Dark Lord as he ran far from there....He wanted to run away....and keep running.... as far away as possible....

As he was running aimlessly, he heard a deep voice within him …We are all bound by our Karma, my friend...whether we are God or mortal. I killed you though there was no enmity between us. Now it has come a full circle as you have now been the reason for me to leave the earth....And please do not be worried...My work here is done for now....Your role in it just marks the end of that role. And remember,my friend, you were just fulfilling the words of a grieving mother....

Jara knew it was Krishna. He felt a little peaceful. He would meet the Dark Lord, in a different place at a different plane of existence....But he definitely would...of that Jara had no doubt. Jara started his penance....

The author thanks Mr. A. Narayan for his review.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Vishwamitra and Parashurama

Do you know that Brahmarishi Vishwamitra is related to Parashurama the great warrior sage who is the sixth incarnation of  Lord Vishnu? 
Their story starts with a king called Gadhi. Gadhi had a beautiful and intelligent daughter Satyavati.
Once a great sage called Ruchika came to the kingdom of Gadhi. When he entered the kingdom, he saw Princess Satyavati who was out with her maids. The sage was mesmerised with the princess. 
The very next day he went to the King's court. 
'Your Majesty! I am Ruchika, the son of Sage Chyavana.' The king was thrilled in welcoming the sage. Chyavana was one of the most powerful sages in the world. 
As the king enthusiastically welcomed the sage, the sage told the king about his mission. 'I saw your daughter, Princess Satyavati yesterday....' The sage said with glazed eyes. 'She looks beautiful and is very intelligent. I am a sage....' Ruchika said confidently, 'By the power of my penance, I can keep your daughter very happy....If  you and your daughter have no objections, I would like to marry her....'
Gadhi was taken aback. He certainly did not expect his daughter, who had been born and brought up in a palace to live like the wife of a hermit, in the forests. But then he could not downright refuse a sage.
He looked at the sage slyly, 'Great sage! I am glad you want to marry my daughter. But before I give my daughter away, I request that you grant me a thousand white horses with one black ear!'
The king was confident that the sage would never be able to find more than ten such horses....
The unassuming Sage Ruchika left the kingdom and meditated on Lord Varuna. After a powerful meditation, Varuna appeared before him. Ruchika requested the Lord of the Ocean to give him a thousand pure white horses with one black ear. 
By the power of the meditation, Varuna gave the sage the horses.
Gadhi was astounded when Sage Ruchika came for the second time with a thousand horses. He knew he did not have a choice in this matter. He gave his only daughter in marriage to the rishi.
Much to the surprise of everyone, Satyavati adjusted to the life in the hermitage very well. She was loved by everyone in the hermitage and around it. However she had one worry which was eating her.
Ruchika saw his worried wife and spoke to her. 'Satyavati! I thought you were happy in the hermitage. Is there something wrong? You were is bothering you...'
Satyavati sadly nodded her head. 'You have been keeping me very happy here and I am happy beyond my wildest dreams...But you need to understand...I am worried about my father!'
Ruchika looked surprised at his wife, 'What is wrong with your father?'
Satyavati looked unhappily at the sage, 'My father...I am the only child of my father....And I am now in this hermitage....My father has no one who will look after the kingdom after him....'
Ruchika smiled at his wife, 'If you had told me this earlier, I would have solved your problem earlier...' By the power of his meditation he picked up two potions and handed them over to his wife. 'Give this potion to your mother! This potion has the power of the warrior's energy stored in it...The child born would be a powerful warrior and a good king...' Satyavati gladly nodded her head as the sage picked up the second potion. 'This my dear is for you...This has the power of the sages stored in it...The child which would be born from it, would be a powerful rishi...' Satyavati looked shyly at her husband as she took the potions.
She told her mother all about the two potions and gave the warrior's potion to her mother....However Satyavati's mother was doubtful...She did not believe the sage....I am sure that sage would love his wife more than he would care about me...I am sure the other potion would give a better child than the one he has given me....So Gadhi's wife interchanged the potions.
So Satyavati drank the warrior's potion and Gadhi's wife drank the sage's potion....
Born to Gadhi's wife was Kaushika. The story of Kaushika is very famous in Hindu mythology. He was the king who fought with Sage Vasishta for the heavenly cow Nandini. Kaushika was humiliated when he was defeated by the power of Sage Vasishta's penance. Disgusted Kaushika gave up his kingdom and decided to become a sage. Kaushika was no normal sage. By the power of his penance, Kaushika became Brahmarishi Vishwamitra.
True to the Ruchika's power, though the child was born as a king,the child grew up and went on to become one of the most powerful rishis ever....

As Satyavati had a child in her womb, Ruchika was surprised...The aura emanating from his wife was not that he had expected. He looked at his wife. 'My dear! The child....the child in your womb...It does not have the aura of a fact it looks like a warrior...' Satyavati was surprised as Ruchika using the powers of his mind sensed what Satyavati's mother had done.
Ruchika told Satyavati everything that her mother had done.
Satyavati looked at Ruchika, 'NO! I do not wish for the child to be a warrior! Please, change it...please, I do not want to be the mother of a warrior! I want him to be like you...a great sage one who is well versed in the Vedhas and the Scriptures...'
Ruchika looked at his wife and sadly nodded his head. 'Because you ask for it, I can only make sure that your child is not a warrior....But the power of the warrior cannot just go away....At the best I can just shift it by one generation....If not your child, then your grandchild will be a warrior!'
Satyavati agreed to it gladly. So Ruchika using the fruits of his penance, took away the warrior powers in the child. The child born to Ruchika and Satyavati was Sage Jamadagni. He was a great sage, who was one of the Saptarishis of the world....
However such a power could not be totally taken away. It was only shifted by one generation. Jamadagni's son was Parashurama, [In Sanskrit it literally means the Rama with the axe].
True to Ruchika's power, Parashurama though born to a sage was one of the greatest warriors in the world. It is believed that he was an incarnation of Lord Narayana, born to destroy all the kings in the world, because they had become haughty and arrogant.
Parashurama's fighting prowess is out of the world. It is believed that he got the world rid of the haughty and arrogant kings and warriors 21 times.
There were very few warriors who could match the power of Parashurama. Bheeshma, the grandsire of the Mahabharatha was one of the few people whom Parashurama considered his equal.
However Parashurama was stopped by another Avatar of Lord Vishnu - Lord Rama of Ayodhya.
When Parashurama met Rama, Parashurama realized that it was no longer necessary to destroy the warriors and kings of the world. After meeting Rama, it is believed that Parashurama left the realm of humans never to come back.....  

Friday, November 30, 2012

Kartaveerya Arjuna and Ravana

During the time Ravana ruled over the heavens and the earth, there lived a king called Kritavirya. He ruled the kingdom of Mahishmati. Though he had many wives and he performed several penances, he remained childless for a long time.....

One of his wives Padmini, unable to bear the anguish of the King approached Anusuya, the daughter of Sage Kardama and Devahuti and the wife of Sage Atri.

Anusuya told her of the days to perform the penance so that the King and Queen would get their heart's desire. So Padmini and Kirtavirya went to the forest and strictly observed the penance for the days as told by Anusuya. 

As the king and the queen were lost in meditation, 'Open your eyes!' came a voice.

The king and the queen opened their eyes and were amazed to see Lord Dattatreyan standing before them.

The king and the queen fell at the feet of the Lord. The Lord smiled and said, 'I know what you wish...Ask your heart's desire and I will grant it to you!'

The king spoke with tears in his eyes, 'Lord! It is said that the doors of the heavens are closed to any person who does not have any children. That is all I wish for....A son.... A son who cannot be defeated by any demigod, humans, snakes, demons or any goblins....' The king nodded and continued, 'A powerful son, who can be defeated only by you!'

Lord Dattatreyan nodded his head and vanished from there. 

Soon after a son was born to Kirtaviryan and Padmini. He was called Kartivirya Arjuna. Kartivirya Arjuna was born with a thousand arms so he is also sometimes called as Sahasra Arjuna.

Arjuna was a kind and great king. He loved his people and took good care of them. Because of the penance of his father, he obtained a golden chariot, which would move at his will and the power to enforce justice and root out evil.

Kartivirya Arjuna had once gone to bathe in the Narmada river with his wives. 

It was at the same time that Ravana, the King of Lanka came to the Narmada, in the Pushpaka Vimana with some of his ministers.

Ravana took bath in the river and settled down near the shores of the river to pray to Lord Shiva.

Meanwhile Kartivirya's wife spoke jokingly to him, 'Your majesty! I know you are powerful! But I wish to test your strength...' She said teasingly at him.

Kartivirya looked amused, 'How should I show you my strength, my Queen?'

The wife laughed, 'The river, Lord! Can you stop the river?'

Arjuna looked at the river and then at his wife. He smiled. 'Deal!' 

Arjuna sat in the middle of the river and raised his arms. The king looked at the river with concentration and held his breath. 

The water of the Narmada was flowing....The queen watched with amazement as the water substantially stopped flowing beyond the king....Behind the king, the river was just coming out in sprinkles....The king concentrated some more as the river completely stopped flowing beyond him.

The queen looked at the king, laughed and clapped her hands...'That was great! You are indeed the most powerful man, I have ever seen!'

Neither the king nor the queen realized the result of what they had done....

As Arjuna stopped the flow of the Narmada, the water in the front of the king started rising. It started submerging the smaller islands on its side....The water in the shore started increasing....

Ravana's minister watched in horror as the water started increasing, while the king was praying....They ran through the shore to find out why the water was raising.....

They saw the awesome king with his thousand arms. The ministers got genuinely afraid of the thousand armed king and slunk back to Ravana hoping that nothing would happen while Ravana prayed...

As Ravana opened his eyes, he saw in surprise, the water rising around him....Looking at the water and the expression of his scared ministers, he knew that this was not a natural phenomenon...far from it.

'What is the reason for this?' He barked at his ministers.

The ministers struggled with the words, 'Your majesty! There....there...' the minister pointed further down. 'a man...a king with a thousand arms....he stopped the river!' The minister said hastily.

Ravana got angry...Kartivirya Arjuna....He was the king of Mahishmati and he was powerful enough to stop the river and had a thousand arms....How dare he disturb my prayer? I will have his head for this...

Ravana picked up his mace and got on his Pushpaka Vimana, 'Forward!' He commanded as the vehicle took him towards Arjuna.

He saw the king now drying himself and bellowed loudly. Arjuna looked up with frown when he heard the bellow. 

Ravana roared, 'Just because you can stop a river, you think you are strong....Why are you showing your power towards something which is not fighting back at you....Show me how powerful you are!' Ravana said in an insulting voice.

Arjuna shook his head and smiled. 'Ravana! Why don't you get down from your vimana and I will give you what you want!'

Seeing that the king was not even worried, let alone scared, Ravana jumped down from his vimana and let out another roar and came forward with the mace in his hands. Arjuna with his lightening fast reflexes picked up his own mace...

The maces met in mid air.....Ravana and Arjuna both of them strained and stared at each other. Arjuna kicked Ravana. Ravana fell down and jumped immediately. The battle between the two kings continued for a long time as Ravana's ministers and Arjuna's queens watched....

Finally with the super human strength of his thousand arms, Kartivirya Arjuna knocked Ravana with the mace. For a second Ravana felt dizzy and then everything went black..... 

A few days later, the kingdom of Mahishmati received a great visitor....Sage Pulatsya [Pulatsya in one of the ten 'Mind sons' of Lord Brahma]

Arjuna bowed to the great sage, 'Great sage! I am indeed blessed that a great man like yourself should come to meet me! Please be seated and enjoy our hospitality....' The king with his queen looked after the sage very well.

Pleased the sage then spoke to Arjuna, 'I hear that you defeated my grandson in battle and have kept him in prison....' [Sage Pulatsya is the father of Vishravas who is the father of Ravana]

Arjuna nodded his head. 'Yes my Lord! He came for a battle...I am afraid, he is very hot headed!'

Pulatsya spoke quietly, 'I am sure my grandson has learnt his lesson. He will never cross paths with you....I am sure he will respect your friendship...please let him go!'

Arjuna nodded his head without any hesitation. 'My Lord! You need not have come here for that...I would have let him go, if you had just told me...'

Arjuna realized that Ravana would never come to battle with him again.....Sage Pulatsya was even more happy as the king immediately gave orders for the release of Ravana.

[Ravana had the boon that he could never be defeated by any Deva, asura, rakshasa or yaksha..... Because of sheer arrogance he had never asked to be more powerful than humans... Kartivirya Arjuna because of the boon of his father was more powerful than all beings and could be defeated only by the Lord Vishnu. Kartivirya Arjuna being a human could defeat Ravana]

With gifts from Arjuna, Ravana and Sage Pulatsya  left for Lanka in the pushpaka vimana....

True to the boon of his father Kartivirya Arjuna was defeated and killed by Parashurama, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu....
From the Ramayana

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Story of Nriga

Rama, the eldest son of Dasaratha and Queen Kausalya was to be crowned as the King of Ayodhya. 

However, Dasaratha had a wife Kaikeyi, who was his favourite queen. Kaikeyi wanted her son Bharatha to rule the kingdom instead of Rama. So she had Rama banished to the Dandaka vana [a very dangerous forest] for fourteen years and had Bharatha crowned as the king of Ayodhya.

When Rama was exiled to the forest, his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana insisted on accompanying him to the Dandaka Vana.

There in the forest a demon called Surpanakha was attracted towards Rama. She asked Rama to marry her. However Rama refused to so and directed her towards Lakshmana. Lakshmana also refused to marry her. 

However Surpanakha realized that Rama had refused to marry her because of Sita and tried attacking Sita. Lakshmana in a fit of anger cut off Surpanakha's nose and ears.

Disfigured, Surpanakha vowed to take revenge on the brothers and went to her brother Ravana, the Demon King of Lanka. 

Hearing about Sita's beauty, Ravana decided to abduct her and make her his wife. Accordingly Ravana abducted Sita. 

However Sita refused to even look at any other man other than her Rama. 

Subsequently Rama with the help of the Vanara king Sugriva and his army built a bridge to Lanka. He killed Ravana and freed Sita.

In order to prove the chastity of his wife, Rama had his wife take the 'Agni Pariksha'. [Test by fire] 

The fire would not even burn Sita because of her purity. Rama then brought his wife and brother back to Ayodhya as the exile period was over.

Unfortunately the people of Ayodhya did not like Rama bringing back Sita  to Ayodhya, because she had lived with another man. 

Rama deciding that his first duty was towards his subjects, banished  Sita from the palace. 

After banishing Sita, who went on to live in the ashrama of Sage Valmiki, Rama was unhappy and lost. He stopped attending court and could not concentrate on his work.

Lakshmana tried to bring his brother back to his old self. Rama slowly came back to himself. 

As they were talking, Rama explained to Lakhsmana, 'I have not been doing my duties as a king, Lakshmana. For a king that is the worst crime you can commit. If as a king you do not regularly check the work done by your servants, you may end up like King Nriga.'

Lakshmana looked curiously at Rama, 'Who is King Nriga, Rama?'

Rama smiled, 'He is our ancestor. He is the son of Ikshvaku.' Lakshman looked surprised at Ram. Ram, Lakshman and all of them belonged to the Solar dynasty. It was also called Ikshvaku clan.

'What did he do?' Lakshmana looked at Rama. All of the kings of their clan had been illustrious and loved by their people. It was almost rare for any king to make any grievous errors...

'King Nriga was one of the best kings of our clans. He was a good and just king. He protected his subjects well and they in turn adored him.' Lakshmana nodded as Ram continued. 'Do you know that at one time, he actually gave a million cows away as charity, during a yagna?'

Lakshmana looked in wonder as Rama continued. 'Unfortunately for him, because of the carelessness of his servants, one of the cows he gave away in charity wandered back into the royal stables.'

Lakshmana looked keenly as Rama continued, 'The man to whom the cow was presented searched everywhere for the cow and started tracing the footprints of his cow. He came nearer and nearer the royal stables...Nriga did not check the work of his servants and inadvertently presented the same cow to another man. The second man was walking the cow back home, when the first man came an claimed the cow as his own. The two men fought with each other and the dispute came to the king to be settled.'

Rama smiled absently, 'The king was horrified when he realized what he had done. He pleaded with the two men. He said that he would give them a hundred cows each and asked them to forget the issue. However the two men looked at the king contemptuously and cursed him to become a lizard. Neither of them even looked at the cow anymore....'

'What happened to the king?' Lakshmana asked Rama looking interested.

'The king realizing that he had to pay the price of his carelessness, crowned his son Vasu as the king. He asked his son to built a cave in a well and asked to be put there, once he had become a lizard...'

Rama smiled, 'Lakshmana! The king could be freed from the curse, when an Avatar of Narayana touched him...' Lakshmana knew that Rama was an avatar of Lord Vishnu. He looked at Rama and said faintly, 'An avatar of Narayana?'

Rama absently nodded his head, 'An avatar of Narayana, born in the clan of Yadu and at the time when both Nara and Narayana incarnated on earth...' Lakshmana looked amused at Rama and said pointedly,'You do not belong to the Yadu clan...'

Rama smiled at Lakshmana and said softly, 'No, Rama does not belong to the Yadu clan...King Nriga still waits for the man to come....'


Samba his brothers and friends were playing in the garden. They were thirsty from the continuous playing. They found a well but unfortunately there was no water in the well. 

As Samba looked inside the well, he opened his eyes wide, 'Look at that! Oh my God! I have never seen such a huge lizard...'The others looked at it. There sitting on the wall of the well was one of the largest lizards they had ever seen. The kids tried to bring the lizard out, but no matter what they did, the lizard remained out of their reach.

Really surprised, they ran to their father. Breathless they said,'Father! You have to come and see this....It is unbelievable....'

Their father looked amused at the kids and went with them. There the kids showed the lizard to him. The father easily put his hands inside the well and pulled out the lizard.

The kids were astounded as the lizard disappeared the minute their father's hand fell on it. A luminous being appeared there and saluted the children's father. 'You have released me from a curse, I have had for a long time...Thank you my Lord!

'Who are you?' The father asked still looking amused.

The king shook his head. 'You talk as if you do not know...But because you have asked me, I will tell you...My name is Nriga and I am the son of Ikshvaku....' The king told the father and children all about his story and after bowing to the father once more, he vanished from there.

The children were looking spell bound at each other, thinking about the story.... Talking, the children then went back to their playing....

Realizing that his work here was done and that his sons had gone back to playing, Krishna, the dark Lord of Dwaraka, walked back into the palace feeling happy....