The tale of Krishna is enshrined in the hearts of all, remembering Krishna, the cowherd, as a beloved God and remembrance of his exploits is a source of joy to all.
Yadava dynasty had their capital in Mathura on the banks of the Yamuna. The Yadavas were a pastoral group. Ugrasena was a king of this dynasty. Kamsa, who was Ugrasena’s son deposed and imprisoned his own father. Ugrasena’s brother was Devaka. Devaka had a daughter named Devaki who was married to Vasudeva, son of Surasena. Surasena was also a Yadava like Ugrasena.
After the marriage of Devaki and Vasudeva, Kamsa was driving the couple to the bridegroom’s house. As the chariot roared past Mathura, a voice was heard from heaven, addressed to the charioteer, Kamsa: “O fool of a king! You are conducting a lady whose eighth son will grow up to kill you.”
Kansa’s impulsive reaction was to stop the chariot, seize Devaki and kill her on the spot. Vasudeva intervened and promised to put into the hands of Kansa all the children of Devaki as soon as they were born. Vasudeva implored Kansa to spare the life of Devaki. Kansa was satisfied with the arrangement proposed by Vasudeva for dealing with Devaki’s children and drove the chariot on without injuring Devaki. As a measure of abundant caution, Kamsa put both Devaki and Vasudeva in a prison under close guard.
Kansa started killing every child as soon as the child was born. He had killed six children in succession. Devaki became pregnant for the seventh time. A miracle occurred. The child in her womb got transferred miraculously to the womb of Rohini, another wife of Vasudeva. Rohini, fearing Kansa, was living at Gokulam on the opposite bank of the Yamuna river. This child conceived in Rohini’s womb was Balarama.
Devaki became pregnant for the eighth time. This eighth child was born at in prison. The Lord appeard in divine form at first and then, the lying-in-chamber in the prison was filled with a dazzling light. Vasudeva and Devaki realized that the born child was no human, but a divine incarnation. They jointly praised the glory of the Lord and counted it a blessing that the Lord had grown in her womb before manifesting Himself. The divine form was shown to the parents and the Supreme Being had assumed the form of a human child.
At the very moment that the Lord was born in the prison cell, the divine Maya or the Power incarnate of the Lord was born, in the Gokulam, as the female child of Yasoda, the wife of Nanda.
A divine prompting came to Vasudeva: “Take your male child across the Yamuna to Gokulam and exchange him for Yasoda’s daughter. Then you can return to prison before anyone learns of the birth of the eighth child of Devaki.” Vasudeva took the child in his arms and the prison doors opened automatically, as the guards had been put to sleep by divine intervention. Vasudeva reached the bank of the Yamuna river which was in a spate. The river parted and made way for Vasudeva carrying the divine child. Vasudeva reached the opposite bank of the river safely and found all the inmates of Gokulam fast asleep. Entering the house of Nanda, Vasudeva placed the child on the bed of Yasoda, picked up Yasoda’s female child and returned to Mathura.
Vasudeva laid the female child by Devaki’s side and the prison doors shut automatically. The guards were now awake and were startled by the cries of the female child. The guards ran to Kansa and announced the birth of the eighth child to Devaki. Knowing that the eighth child would be the cause of his death, Kamsa rushed to prison to execute the child. Devaki pleaded: “O Kamsa, it is only a female child. How can this child do you any harm?” Kamsa ignored Devaki’s pleading, snatched the child from her lap and dashed the child down on a stone slab. The child did not fall down; instead, the child flew up and appeared on the sky as a goddess with eight arms and each arm carrying a weapon, “O fool of a king! You will gain nothing by killing me. The one who will destroy you is elsewhere. Do not kill innocent children, from now on.” With these words, the goddess disappeared. Kansa felt penitent and apologized to Vasudeva and Devaki for the pain he had caused them. He set free Vasudeva and Devaki from the prison.
Meanwhile, there was a great rejoicing in the Gokulam, hailing the birth of a son in Nanda’s household. On the eleventh day of the happy event, priests performed the rites to bless the child and named the child, Krishna. The entire Gokulam wore a festive appearance. The streets were swept clean and all the frontals of all houses were decorated with flags and flowers. Cows were smeared with turmeric and adorned with peacock feathers and garlands. Gopas and Gopis of the Gokulam danced in joy and flocked to Nanda’s house to see the child and offer presents to the Nandas. Rohini was ecstatic and received them all and treated the guests with sweets. The entire Gokulam was rejuvenated and everyone was filled with a sense of oncoming prosperity and joy.
One day, Nanda went to Mathura to pay his tribute to Kansa. When Nanda met Vasudeva In Mathura, Vasudeva enquired: “How are your two sons, Balarama and Krishna? I hope your newborn child, Krishna and Rohini are in good health.” Nanda assured Vasudeva, “Krishna is a source of joy to Rohini and to me and indeed to the entire Gokulam.” As Nanda parted company, Vasudeva uttered a warning, the import of which Nanda could not comprehend: “Brother Nanda! Now that you have paid your tribute to Kansa, get back home promptly. My mind is filled with foreboding that some ominous events are about to occur in Gokulam.”
As Nanda returned home, an ominous event had indeed occurred. A she-demon called Putana had been instructed by Kansa to kill all new-born children in cities, villages and hamlets. Finding that there was a new-born child in Nanda’s household, Putana promptly set about to kill the child. She had the power of assuming any desired form and could fly through air. Putana reached the Gokulam and assumed the form of a beautiful woman. She saw Krishna lying on his bed and smiling at all those who tried to carry him in their arms. Putana went to Krishna, lifted him up onto her lap and began to breast-feed him. She had smeared her breasts with a deadly poison and hoped that the child would consume the poison and die at once. The divine child knew Putana’s tricks; the divine child started sucking the life of the demon along with her poisoned breast-milk. Putana’s vital organs withered, she started rolling convulsively and cried, “Enough! Let me go!” She had suffered so intensely that Putana could no longer conceal her true form. The form of a beautiful faded away and Putana now appeared in her true form as a hideous demon. She died gasping for breath as the divine child lay on her bosom. Gopis who had gathered around were stunned and snatched the child away from the demon’s body. Rohini prayed all the gods for their mercy and grasped the child in her breast. Nanda now understood the meaning of what Vasudeva had told him at Mathura.
On the first anniversary of Krishna’s birth another miracle happened. Nanda and Yasoda were celebrating the birthday with festivities and feast. A cart was loaded with vessels of milk, cheese and butter. The child Krishna was put to sleep below the cart. Gopis suddenly heard some noises emanating from the cart. Krishna had woken up and shattered the wheels and axle of the cart and the cart was overturned spilling milk, cheese and butter on the ground. Gopis saw in utter disbelief that the little child had so much power as to break and overturn the cart. Yasoda tried to explain away the event as the work of some other demon like Putana trying to injure her dear darling child, Krishna.
Another emissary demon called Trinavrita, sent by Kamsa, came to Gokulam. The demon assumed the form a whirlwind and tried to carry away the child Krishna who was playing in the house. The inmates of the Gokulam ran hither and tither as the whirlwind caused havoc in the area. They frantically started searching for Krishna. The demon had carried Krishna up in the sky but he found the child to be too heavy. Krishna clung to the throat of the demon and crushed the demon to death, while still hanging at the neck of the demon. The body of the demon fell crashing to the ground but the child Krishna was unhurt. The Gopis picked up the child and handed over Krishna to Yasoda.
These happenings made Nanda realize that Vasudeva did convey something by talking about his foreboding. Yasoda had also experienced some extraordinary phenomena. One day, Krishna was playing with other children. The children ran up to Yasoda to report that Krishna had put a handful of earth into his mouth. Yasoda ran up to Krishna, “You mischievous! Open your mouth, let me see what you have in your mouth.” Krishna refused and tried to run away from Yasoda. After repeated coaxing, Yasoda made Krishna open his mouth. Behold, Yasoda saw in his mouth the miraculous vision of the entire universe: the earth with its mountains, oceans and continents, the sun, the moon, the stars and all the planets, Yasoda saw her own village there surrounded by the children and Krishna opening his mouth to her. “Am I dreaming?” exclaimed Yasoda and realized that all changing things are rooted in a changeless spirit.
Balarama was fair in complexion and Krishna was dark in complexion. Balarama was strong and Krishna was sprightly and bubbling with energy. The two playful brothers were the darling of the Gopis of the Vraja. The Gopis adored the mischievous pranks of Krishna such as stealing the butter and the cheese from the pots in the kitchen, drinking the milk out of their milkpots and letting the calves loose from their fetters. While they enjoyed such pranks, they also came to Yasoda one day to report against Krishna and his mischievous behavior, “O Mother Yasoda! Your child Krishna is very naughty indeed! He unfetter our calves just before milking-time and when we try to beat him up, he just laughs and runs away. He steals the milk from our kitchen and shared the curds with his friends. When he finds the pots empty, he breaks them and runs away. We tried to keep the pots away from his reach by hanging them from the roof. He gets to these pots standing upon a bench or by piercing a hole with a stone thrown at the hanging-pot. As as the milk leaks down from the hole in the pot, he holds the milk in the hollow of his palms and feeds himself and his friends. Look at him, Yasoda; he stands before you as though he is the most innocent child. What a mischievous kid you have brought into Gokulam, Yasoda. We do not how to cope with this mischievous, Krishna.”
Making these complaints in a tone of mock-seriousness, the Gopis were adoring at the same time the charm and the lovely lips of Krishna. Krishna started running away, “Now I am going, you can tell everything to mom, without fear of my presence!” Gopis sang in unison, “What a darling you have brought into Gokulam, O Yasoda!”
One day, Yasoda had to tie him up to the mortar with a strong rope to stop his childish pranks of breaking and stealing butter from the pot in her kitchen. Krishna started crawling on all fours and dragged the wooden mortar into the garden. The mortar was caught between two trees and as Krishna tried to pull it through, the two trees fell. Two Siddhas emerged from the fallen trees prostrated at the feet of Krishna, “O Krishna! We are the sons of Kubera, the god of wealth, in our previous birth. We were transformed as trees when we were cursed by Narada to reproach us for our pride in our wealth and power. Now, you have freed us. We will adore the mercy of God.”
Incidents like these created a sense of terror in the minds of the inmates of the Gokulam, including Nanda and Yasoda. Extraordinary events had been occurring in the Gokulam which seemed to indicate that demons and evil spirits had settled in the colony threatening the very survival of the Gokulam. Upananda, an old cowherd addressed the inmates:”Let us get out of this place before further calamities strike us. Brindavan forest is nearby. Let us go there.” The Gopas and Gopis agreed and moved into Brindavan, located between the Govardhana hill and the banks of the Yamuna river. Krishna and Balarama enjoyed the sylvan tracts of Brindavan. Krishna would play on his flute and both he and his brother would tend the cows and the calves.
One day, the cowherd boys and Krishna were playing on the banks of the Yamuna. It was a hot day. The cowherd boys drank water from the river and at once fell down unconscious. Krishna revived them and learnt that the poisonous snake called Kaliya had released its poison into the river. Even the birds flying over the river fell down dead because of the poison that had entered into the atmosphere. As the cowherd boys and Krishna started in search of Kaliya, they saw a kadamba tree on the banks of the river. Krishna climbed up this tree and dived into the waters of the Yamuna. A huge serpent emerged from the waters with its hundred black hoods and hanging purple tongues. Kaliya, the serpent, coiled himself around the body of the boy, Krishna. The clouds darkened and ominous portents were seen on the sky. The inmates of Brindavan came rushing to the banks of the Yamuna river and saw Krishna struggling with the serpent. An extraordinary phenomenon occurred:
Krishna had grown in size and the coils wound round his body became tighter. Krishna’s body had now started crushing the body of the serpent. The serpent could not withstand the force of the growing body of Krishna and had to release him from the coils. Krishna now jumped on to one of the hoods of the serpent and started dancing, holding the serpent Kaliya by his tail. Now the snake was dying and the red blood drops from the snake fell on the feet of Krishna and shone like rubies. The entire brood of snakes of the Kaliya vintage came to the surface and prostrated at the feet of Krishna. Krishna stopped his dance. Kaliya and his brood of snakes were now chastened. Krishna asked them to leave the river and move to the ocean. The serpent colony departed and the river Yamuna was rid of the poison in her waters.
It was the day of worship of Indra, the god of clouds and rain. Krishna suggested to Nanda and other elders of Brindavan that on this day learned men and women should be honored, poor people should be fed, the inmates should take their cattle in a procession round the Govardhana hill which was the main sustenance for the entire colony of Brindavan. These suggestions were accepted and the festivities began. Then, there was thunder and lightning in the sky and a heavy downpour of rain descended on Brindavan. The cowherd felt that this was symbolic of Indra’s anger. The rain became severe and evolved into a tempestuous hail-storm hurling stones at the people of Brindavan. “We have done something wrong by deviating from the traditional forms of worship of Indra,” cried the cowherds.
Krishna shouted his command: “All of you go towards the valley where the waters were not too deep.” Krishna plunged into the ravine where the waters were very deep and disappeared. After a while, the people of Brindavan were witness to a miracle. The Govardhana hill was rising like an umbrella revealing dry ground. Krishna was seen at the centre of the dry ground, supporting the weight of the hill on an uplifted finger of his hand. The people rushed into the dry ground. Krishna held up the hill on his finger for seven days until the rains stopped and the floods subsided. Krishna asked the people to move into Brindavan and lowered the Govardhana back into its place.
The Vraja country soon realized that Krishna was God in human form. The call of Krishna’s flute was a call to a life divine. Vraja people knew that the highest aim of their lives was to be devoted to Lord Krishna.
Krishnaleela (exploits of Krishna) were now household stories, everyone in Mathura knew of Krishna’s divine deeds in Brindavanam. The people of Mathura also came to know that Krishna was indeed the eighth child of Devaki and as prophesied will be Kamsa’s nemesis in due time. People were suffering under the oppressive regime of Kamsa and knew that Kamsa’s time was up since Krishna was growing in beauty and strength across the Yamuna in the forests of Brindavanam. People were enjoying hearing the stories of Krishna’s mischief and exploits and counting the days for their deliverance day when Krishna would take on Kamsa. Kamsa had tried to handle Krishna by sending Putana when Krishna was a mere child. Kamsa also sent other demons in the form of a mighty bull, in the form of a wild horse and all these demon-forms perished at Krishna’s hands and gained their deliverance.
Kamsa sent his messenger Akrura to Brindavan announcing a tournament in the capital. Kamsa had confided in Akrura that the plan was to station a mighty elephant at the entrance to the tournament grounds and to drive the animal towards Balarama and Krishna as soon as they entered and crush them to death under the feet of the elephant. If this strategy fails, two wrestlers, Chanura and Mushtika would challenge the two brothers Krishna and Balarama to a wrestling match and kill the latter in the contest. Akrura was no fool; he hated Kamsa like all other subjects of the kingdom and realized that Krishna was god in human form. Anyway, Akrura went to Nanda and extended the invitation of the king Kamsa; at the same time, Akrura also warned Krishna, secretly, of the evil designs of Kamsa. Krishna and Balarama laughed on learning about the plans and actively encouraged Nanda and other cowherds to accept the invitation to the tourney and prepare for the festivities.
Gopis and Gopas were in tears seeing the chariots of Krishna and Balarama pass-by; they could not bear with the departure of these two lads from their presence in Brindavan. Akrura was also accompanying the Brindavan party of contestants. The party rested on the banks of the Yamuna river for a few hours. Akrura dived into the river to bathe and offer prayers. In the waters, he saw Krishna’s form; Akrura floated up and found Krishna also sitting as a charioteer on the ratha. Akrura could not believe his eyes; he again immersed himself in the waters only to find Krishna in the waters; as he emerged from the waters, he found Krishna seated on the chariot. Akrura was wondering what was going on. Krishna appeared before Akrura in the dazzling form in which he was in Heaven before he descended to the earth in human form. “What did you see, Akrura?” asked Krishna. “Lord, you knot it all. There is nothing more beautiful under water or on the earth than yourself.” Nearby villagers had gathered to catch a glimpse of Balarama and Krishna and they wanted to be touched by Krishna, the darling. Finally, Krishna’s party reached the outskirts of Mathura and Akrura was asked to go to his house in Mathura.
The news of the arrival of Krishna and Balarama in the city spread like wild-fire. People of Mathura crowded into the streets, wherever the two brothers went or just tried to get a glimpse of them by looking through the windows of their houses. The beauty and charm of Krishna was just enthralling. The heavenly voice announcing the eighth child of Devaki had also been heard by them. Now they actually saw the divine being in human form, vibrant and filled with energy. Everyone wanted to take the lad into his or her hands, fondle him and kiss him.
In the tournament arena, a mighty bow was kept under security. Krishna took up the bow and broke into two pieces. The security guards tried to take Krishna and Balarama prisoners but could not succeed. The brothers defeated the guards and entered into the wrestling grounds. The wrestlers arrived with a lot of fanfare.
As planned, at the gates of the wrestling stadium, the mighty elephant, Kuvalayapida was set upon Krishna and Balarama. The elephant seized Krishna with its trunk. Krishna slipped out of the hold and hid behind the animal’s legs. Krishna caught hold of the elephant’s tail and the elephant turned around and tried to crush Krishna under its feet. It also tried to gore him to death with its tusks. The tusks broke into pieces. Krishna caught the trunk of the animal, shoved it to the ground and killed it with one of its own tusks.
Armed with the broken tusks of the elephant, Krishna and Balarama entered the wrestling arena. Chamura the wrestler, came to the lads and said, “O sons of Nanda! Welcome to Mathura’s wrestling match. Come, show your skills and please our majesty, Kamsa.”
Krishna responded, “Balarama and I are happy to be here. We are only lads, we are not professional wrestlers. Do you think it will be a fair match?” Chamura told Krishna that he and Balarama were not mere boys, their exploits were well-known all over the kingdom. I will take you on. Mushtika will fight with Balarama.”
The challenge was accepted. The spectators protested that this was an unfair contest between two professional wrestlers and two innocent boys; it was like a contest between rocks and flowers. Kamsa ignored the protests and flagged off the contest.
The professional wrestlers tried all their skills and tricks to down Krishna and Balarama and failed miserably. The boys were agile and smart in their movements and tired out the professionals. The wrestlers were now gasping for breath. Krishna clung to the neck of Chamura and brought him down. Balarama punched Mushtika on his face and chest till the latter vomited blood and fell down.
Kamsa was in fury, “Seize these evil lads. Seize all the visitors from Brindavan. Put them in chains.”
As Kansa drew his sword, Krishna pounced on Kamsa who was now standing in front of his high seat. Krishna seized Kansa by his hair and crushed him to death, dragging him onto the wrestling areana.
The prophesy had been fulfilled. Kamsa was killed by Krishna, the eighth child of Devaki. Ugrasena was brought back to the throne and proclaimed as the king. All those who had fled from Mathura to escape the Kansa’s regime had returned: for example, Yadus, Vrishnis, Madhus, Andhakas, Dasarkas and Kukuras. Peace and harmony had now been restored in Mathura.
Balarama and Krishna were initiated into the Gayatri mantra by their family priest Gargacharya. The boys were students at Ujjain under a renowned guru named Sandipani. They lived in the gurukulam with other students and served the guru with respect and devotion and learnt from the guru all the branches of learning, all the arts and sciences relevant for kings and returned home to Mathura. Many years later, a fellow-pupil named Kuchela visited Krishna at Dwaraka and they recounted their pleasant days learning under the guru Sandipani.
Krishna sent for Uddhava a kinsman and conveyed his message of love to the people of Brindavan. He met Akrura and sent him as an emissary to Hastinapura enquiring about the welfare of the sons of Pandu, Krishna’s cousins, who were now serving Dhritarashtra the king after the death of their father. Balarama and Krishna were now required to be in Mathura to settle scores with Jarasandha, the Magadha king and father-in-law of Kamsa. Jarasandha was assembling his troops to march into Mathura to avenge the death of Kamsa. Krishna’s army fought valiant battles against the troops of Jarasandha and defeated the latter. Jarasandha was vanquished but invaded Mathura again and again, eighteen times. Another invasion was by Kala-yavana, a foreign commander who tried to lay seige to the city of Mathura. Balarama and Krishna wanted to save the people from such repeated invasions. They built an impregnable island city called Dwaraka on the western sea and shifted their capital to this place. People of Mathura moved in large numbers to Dwaraka. The city of Mathura was abandoned to Jarasandha. Later, Bhima and Arjuna fight a battle with Jarasandha. Bhima overpowers and kills Jarasandha, at Krishna’s bidding.
Gokulam was Krishna’s childhood. Brindavan was Krishna’s boyhood. Mathura was Krishna’s youth. Dwaraka was Krishna’s manhood. Dwara remained Krishna’s capital until his life on earth and later it submerged under the ocean. After the Yadavas settled in Dwaraka, Krishna married Rukmini.
Bhishmaka was the king of Vidarbha. He had five sons, the eldest of whom was Rukmi, a cruel prince. He had a daughter called Rukmini. Rukmini had longed for Krishna having heard of his exquisite beauty and charm. All her relatives approved of her choice of Krishna, with the exception of Rukmi who wanted her to marry Sisupala, the king of Chedi. To defeat Rukmi’s evil designs, Rukmini sent a messenger to Krishna, “O my lover! Beloved of my heart! I have dreamt of you as my Lord. Come to me soon and claim me as your wife. I am being married to the Chedi king against my wish. Carry me away after proving your valor. We will be proceeding in a procession to the temple of Parvati outside the city, the day before the marriage day. You wait outside the city of Kundina, the capital of Vidarbha and capture me. If you do not come, I will cast off my body and quit from this world if I do not unite with you in wedlock.” Krishna got the message and commanded his charioteer Daruka to make the arrangements for the journey to Vidarbha. Krishna’s chariot raced towards Kundina with the messenger of Rukmini and Krishna himself.
Preparations for the wedding of Sisupala and Rukmini were apace in Kundina. Sisupala’s allies, Jaransha, Dantavakra, Paundraka were present with their retinue. All were the enemies of the Yadavas. Balarama learnt that Krishna had gone alone to Kundina and assembled a large army to be prepared for all eventualities.
Rukmini was tormenting herself: Did the messenger reach Dwaraka? Did Krishna listen to him? What is the beloved Krishna doing? Will he come? What if he does not come? Amidst these imaginary flights of reflections, the messenger arrived and told Rukmini, that Krishna had arrived in Kundina. Balarama was also around with his army. Now, Rukmini had nothing to fear. Her heart leapt in joy and she thanked the messenger and expressed her gratitude to him, bending down and touching his feet..
All the citizens of Kundina had gathered now to get a glimpse of the famed Balarama and Krishna. They saw them and realized, “We now know why they are called gods. See their dazzling form and beauty! It is a pity that Rukmin will not be marrying Krishna, the prince of Dwaraka; it would have been an ideal match. Rukmini wanted a heavenly swan and is getting a swarthy crow, thanks to her brother’s evil plans. But who can overcome Destiny?”
The bridal procession started. The bride’s companions included many women carrying vessels of gold and silver, carrying gifts and offerings to god, flowers, fruits and coconuts, camphor and incense, scents of sandal and turmeric and many other exquisite perfumes of India. Musicians played with their musical instruments joyous tunes. The royal bands and soldiers were also accompanying the marriage party and enroute were the citizens showering flowers and parched rice on the party, in blessing.
The party reached the temple. Rukmini went into the shrine; her beauty was enhanced in her devoutness and serenity. She worshipped the goddess Gauri and the great god Shiva. “O Mother! O Divine!” Rukmini prayed, “I pray to you to fulfil my desires. I pray that Krishna should be my husband.”
The procession was now ready to return from the temple to the marriage pandal. As Rukmini came out, she was Krishna riding a chariot driven by four milk-white horses. Their eyes met. A thrill passed through the entire body of Rukmini, she looked down to the earth. Before she could wink her eyes, she had been lifted up body from the ground and borne onto Krishna’s shoulder in the chariot. Before the onlookers could realize what had happened, the chariot rolled away, guarded by the Yadava army led by Balarama.
Balarama turned Jarasandha’s army back after a pitched battle between the two armies. Krishna consoled Rukmini, “Fear not, my dear princess. My men will drive the Jarasandha’s army assisted by Sisupala’s in quick time.” Krishna had also to join the fight. He spared the life of Rukmini’s brother as she pleaded with Krishna, “Please spare my brother’s life.” Krishna obliged; the prince of Vidarbha was not penitent, he vowed to kill Krishna and rescue Rukmini in due course.
Krishna married Rukmini in Dwaraka with all fanfare. They were a happy princely couple. Krishna re-established Dharma in the Universe. He played his part in the great war between Kauravas and Pandavas and in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. He pronounced the Bhagavad Gita as the essence of the Dharma.
A brahmin named Kuchela lived in a small village. He was a friend of Krishna. He had been with Krishna in the gurukulam at Ujjain. Kuchela was a learned man; he did not have any attachment to worldly, materialistic phenomena. He had full control over his senses. He was, however, a very poor man. He and his family had to go hungry without food, many a time and could barely cover themselves with clothing. In fact, he was knowsn as Kuchela because of the rags he wore. His wife was devoted to her husband, despite their abject poverty. Kuchela would tell her, “Krishna my friend is god on earth, my dear. He is beautiful, cheerful and charming and also courageous. He was deemed by all the students of the gurukulam as the prince among men. I understand that he is now in Dwaraka.” Kuchela’s wife once told him, “If Krishna is such a good friend of yours, why don’t you go and meet him? Maybe, he will give our family some help.” Kuchela agreed and enquired if there was anything in the house which he can take as a present to Krishna. Kuchela’s wife borrowed from her neighbor a handful of rice-flakes and put it in a bundle and gave it to Kuchela, “Present this to Krishna.”
Kuchela started on foot to Dwaraka, with the precious bundle of rice-flakes in his hands. Dwaraka was a beautiful city of palaces, much grander than Ujjain of his childhood days. He go to the palace of the Vrishni chiefs within which was located the residence of Krishna and Rukmini. The liveried guards led Kuchela into the royal hall which was exquisitely adorned with gold and silk. Krishna rushed towards Kuchela, his old friend and hugged him and introduced him to Rukmini. “Rukmini, Kuchela is our honored guest. Let us treat him to a feast befitting a guest.” Krishna washed the feet of the guest and offered him flowers and fruits. Rukmini fanned the guest with a jewelled fan. The old friends started talking about the pleasant memories of their life together in the gurukulam in Ujjain. They were in tears as they remembered their great guru and the knowledge the guru had imparted them.
Kuchela had been hiding the bundle of rice-flakes under his clothing. He was wondering if it was all right to present this as a gift to a prince. Krishna inquired, “You have brought something for me. Why are you hiding it? Give it to me.” Krishna snatched the bundle from Kuchela’s hands and opened the bundle and started eating the rice-flakes with great relish, “This handful is more precious to me than all the wealth and expensive gifts visitors have given me. This is a gift of love and is superior to all form and ceremony.” Kuchela stayed on in the palace for some days; he enjoyed the warmth of the hospitality of Krishna and Rukmini and was not enamored of the luxuries of the palace.
It was time to leave and Kuchela thanked the prince and Rukmini for their kindness. As he started for home, he realized that he had not asked for anything from his friend, which was one of the objectives of his journey to Dwarka. Anyway, he said to himself, “I have got the love and affection of Krishna, what more do I need?”
Kuchela returned to his village. He was surprised to see a huge mansion in place of his old hut. A lady stepped out of the mansion. She was Kuchela’s wife. “What is going on here?” asked Kuchela. She replied, “Come and see your chidren. Don’t you know what Krishna has done for us? He has given all these riches to our family.”
Kuchela reflected, “My Krishna is like a cloud which does not rain in the presence of the peasant but inundates the peasant’s field while he is asleep. His love is greater than the wealth He has granted us.”
Kuchela lived happily thereafter, but was never infatuated with his wealth and always remembered the charm and affection of his friend and Lord, Krishna.
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