Tag Archives: Rama

Is Krishna Still With Us?

While the King was worrying and wondering, suddenly he saw the monkey insignia flag atop Arjuna’s chariot.  It came slowly towards him. Arjuna eventually descended, and came to his brother’s feet in unprecedented dejection.  Drops of tears fell from the lotus-eyes of his downcast face.

Seeing his brother’s troubled heart and paleness, the king began to question him then and there, in the middle of everyone; unable to get the words of Nārada out of his mind.

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

Are our allies in Dvārakā passing time happily? [1]

Arjuna did not look up or answer.

Is Grandfather Śūra and his wife Māriṣa passing time auspiciously?

No answer.

How is Uncle Vasudeva (for whom the drums of heaven resounded)?  What about our aunts, the seven sisters who are his wives, headed by Devakī; are they living happily among their children and daughters-in-law?

Arjuna can give no reply. So Yudhiṣṭhira continues to become more specific in his inquiries.

Does king Ugrasena still live with his children, among whom one was worthless?[2]  What about Great-grandfather Hṛdīka?  What of Krishna’s confidants: Akrūra, Jayanta, Gada, Sāraṇa – are they living happily, headed by Śatrujit?

Still, Arjuna could not move or speak. Forced to consider graver and graver possibilities Yudhiṣṭhira asked about Krishna’s brother:

How is Rāma, the All-Attractive protector of the saintly Sātvata dynasty?

No answer.  So now Yudhiṣṭhira must ask about Krishna’s sons:

Is Pradyumna living happily as the General of the Vṛṣṇi armies?

All-Attractive Aniruddha, profoundly dexterous, must be prospering!? So too must be all the great sons and grandsons of Kṛṣṇa like Suṣeṇa, Cārudeṣṇa, Sāmba, Jāmbavatī’s son, Ṛṣabha and so on…

Ever more worried and dreading to ask directly about Krishna, the King anxiously continues.

How are Kṛṣṇa’s constant companions: Śrutadeva, Uddhava and so on? How are Sunanda and Nanda, the best among leaders of the Sātvata family??? Aren’t they all well, being sheltered by the strength of Rāma and Kṛṣṇa? Do they ever remember us kindly, their affectionate relatives?

But Arjuna neither raises his eyes nor answers. Tears only stream down his pale cheeks all the more profusely with each question. Finally, Yudhiṣṭhira must ask the most awful question possible:

Certainly All-Attractive Govinda, who is so affectionate to devotees and thinkers, must be enjoying the city’s assembly hall, surrounded by well-wishers!?

Moved by the thought of Krishna, the King composes a poem, hoping it might cheer up his brother:

Viṣṇu reclines upon the universal ocean with Ananta,
for the sake of manifesting the worlds.

~

Krishna reclines among an ocean of family with Rāma,
for the benefit of the world.

Those who reside with Viṣṇu,
Enjoy paramount bliss and security.

~

Those who reside in Dvārakā,
Enjoy the protection of his scepter-arms,
and relish pastimes of paramount bliss.

Among those who reside with Viṣṇu, Goddess Lakṣmī is the foremost. The king now compares The Queens of Dvārakā to Lakṣmī:

Very attentively attending his feet
Is their prime concern;
The women headed by Satyabhāmā
Numbering twice eight-thousand.

They claimed the treasures of the gods,
And enjoy the property of the thunderbolt-master’s wives;
Standing undefeated
Against the thrice ten divinities.

Next, the King turned his attention to other residents of Dvārakā:

Under the protection of his scepter-arms,
His family have become great heroes,
ever fearless in every way.

So they strode into paradise on foot
And took the god’s prize possessions by force;
The Sudharmā assembly house.

Arjuna’s conditioned worsened the more the King’s spoke. In a weak, trembling, and hopeless voice, the King feelingly asked:

Dear brother, are you sick?  You look so pale and weak.  Or have you been disrespected or neglected?  Did someone insult you? Did they claim that you did not give to a beggar? Or did not fulfill a promise? Or did not give shelter to intellectuals, children, cows, the elderly, the sick, or the women who came to you seeking refuge?

Did you embrace an unworthy woman? Or did you mistreat a woman? Were you defeated by a junior? Or could it be that you ate before feeding the old and young?

Have you done something horrible and unforgivable?

Arjuna only cries all the more forcefully as tears pool on the ground beneath his lowered face. Yudhiṣṭhira has no choice but to admit the worst:

“Alas! I am vacant… I have forever lost the most precious, dear friend of my very soul”

Besides this, no other thought could trouble you so.


[1] These allies include the Madhu, Bhaja, Daśārha, Ārha, Sātvata, Andhaka and Vṛṣṇi clans

[2] The worthless child was Kaṁsa.

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Krishna Leaves the World

Arjuna had been gone for months and still had not returned from his trip to Dvārakā with news of their relatives and Krishna.  Meanwhile, King Yudhiṣṭhira observed many different omens of ill fortune. Unseasonal weather and behavior – cruelty, anger, greed and deceit – foretold the approach of a terrible fate.  Even fathers, mothers, well-wishers and brothers were polluted by cheating and duplicity; while husbands and wives quarreled.  Many such bad omens declared that the time for the decline of humanity was at hand.

The King turned to his younger brother, Bhīma, and said:

It is now seven months since Arjuna went to Dvārakā.  I have heard nothing from him and have no idea why he has not returned.  Maybe it is what the Sage of Gods [Nārada] told us: Maybe the time has come for the All-Attractive to dissolve the manifestation of himself and his expansions?

By his kindness we vanquished our enemies, regained our kingdoms, and protected our wealth, power, wives and our very lives.

O Lion of Men, look at the ill signs in the sky, on the earth, and in ourselves.  These are signs of imminent danger, fear, and bewilderment.

My left thigh, eye, and arm quiver again and again.  My heart palpitates fearsomely.

Look: This she-jackal howls at the rising sun, with fire in her mouth!  Brother, do you see this dog barking and growling at me without fear!?  Animals pass me with their left side, and my horses weep when they see me. Look there!  A dead dove lies like a messenger of death.  Owls and crows shriek as if they are trying to dissolve the entire world.

Thick fog and smoke is everywhere.  The earth and her hills tremble.  Thunder and lightning comes without clouds.  The blasting wind cuts us.  The dust raised creates darkness and makes the rain look like a downpour of blood.  The ground looks like a blood-soaked disaster-area.

The Sun is eclipsed, and the planets war with one another in the sky.  Possessed by ghosts, people howl as if they were on fire!

What fate is about to befall us!?  Streams, rivers and ponds are polluted, reflecting the state of our minds.  Oil will not catch fire. Calves do not drink and their mothers do not give milk.  The bulls do not play in the fields; they simply stand with tears streaming down their face.

What horrors await us!?  Deities seem to cry and perspire like they want to leave their temples.  The beauty and happiness of these cities, villages, towns, gardens, hills, and cottages is ruined. I believe these terrible upheavals are omens that the Earth, who once bore the beautiful footprints of the All-Attractive, is now dispossessed of her greatest fortune: Śrī Krishna has left her.


The Birth of Parikshit

Śaunaka then spoke out, breaking the satisfied silence that had accumulated on the beautiful conclusion of Krishna’s return to Dvārakā. He asked Sūta:

“Now please tell us all about Parīkṣit, the one whom Śuka enlightened by teaching the Bhāgavatam. We know that the Master saved him, while he was still in his mother’s womb, from the terrible power of Aśvatthāmā’s ultimate weapon. We are enthusiastic to learn about his birth, life, death, and afterlife!”

Sūta replied:

His father, King Yudhiṣṭhira was a very moral and excellent ruler, like his forefathers, so all the citizens in his kingdom were happy. He never tried to fulfill any personal ambitions; he only wanted to be useful, even if in the smallest way, to divine Krishna.

The king’s wealth, rituals, queens, brothers, kingdom and sovereignty were famous throughout the three skies. Even gods desire what he had, but the king’s mind had no hunger for anything, because it was full of Lotus-Faced Krishna.

When his child was still in his mother’s womb he began to suffer from the blast of a terrible weapon. It was then that the child saw someone else with him in the womb; a small figure, very pure, pleasing to behold, with a black complexion like a dark cloud surrounded by lightning-like yellow clothes and a blazing golden crown. He had four beautifully long arms and earrings of purest gold. His eyes were red with anger and there was a mace in his hand. He moved like a shooting star, encircling the child and constantly swinging his mace – dissipating the blast like the sun evaporates fog.

Astonished, the child thought, “Who is this!?”

When seen by the child, All-Attractive Hari immediately disappeared back into the inner recesses of reality. The child would become famous as “The Examiner” (Parīkṣit) because in his search to again see that amazing person, he would examine everyone he met; “Is this him?” Thus he constantly contemplated Viṣṇu.

He was born when the planets became favorable for all the good fortune required to make the dynasty’s heir as powerful as his grandfather, Pāṇdu. Overflowing with affection, the king called the most learned scholars – like Dhaumya & Kṛpa – to read the auspicious astrological nativity of his newborn son.

Well aware of what should be done to celebrate the birth of a child, the King gave the scholars gifts of the highest quality gold, cows, land, villages, elephants and horses; and sumptuously fed them.

Very satisfied, those intellectuals spoke:

“This spotless child will certainly be the foremost in the dynasty. Unstoppable destiny intended to destroy him, but out of affection for you all-powerful and all-pervading Viṣṇu rescued him. Thus the boy will be famous throughout the world by the name Viṣṇu Rāta (Viṣṇu-Rescued). Undoubtedly he is a great soul, extremely blessed, and is the pinnacle of divine love.”

The blessed King asked:

“Oh best of truthful souls, will this boy have glory and fame by following the footsteps of his forbearers: great souls famous as pious philosopher-kings?”

The intellectuals replied by naming each important trait of a king, and each forbearer who most perfectly exemplified it.:

In maintaining the citizens
he will be exactly like Ikṣvaku, Manu’s son.
In truthfulness and obedience to teachers
he will be exactly like Rāma, Dāśaratha’s son.
In giving charity and shelter
he will be like Śibi, Uśīnara’s son.
In expanding the renown of his kin by performing sacrifices
he will be like Duṣyanta’s son.
In bowmanship
he will equal the Arjunas. [1]

He will be
as unstoppable as an inferno,
as insurmountable as an ocean,
as powerful as a lion,
as unwavering as the Himalaya,
as forbearing as the earth,
as patient as parents,
as merciful and generous as grandparents.

In giving shelter to all living beings
he will be like Śiva
and Viṣṇu,
who shelters even the goddess of fortune.
In having all glorious spiritual qualities
he will be like Krishna,
to whom he is devoted.
In altruism
he will be like Rantideva.
In following rules
he will be like Yayāti.
In patience
he will be like Bali.
In saintly devotion
he will be like Prahlāda.[2]

He will conduct many horse sacrifices.[3]
He will be a follower of the experienced.
He will father many philosopher-kings.
For the sake of world peace
he will curb the insubordinate
and extinguish the cantankerous.

His death will come from the dragon Takṣa, as a result of a curse from the child of a twice-born. When he hears of this he will cast off all attachments, take full shelter in Hari, and inquire about the true goal of the soul from the learned son of Vyāsa. He will then leave his body beside the Ganges and go directly to the abode of fearlessness.

After advising the king, the learned experts of natal astrology returned to their homes, wondrously paid. The young prince grew quickly and luxuriantly like the waxing moon day after day, under the care of his many parents.


[1] Śibi wanted to give others his own right to enter heaven, and was ready to give his own life to protect a bird. Ikṣvaku was the first king to prohibit meat eating. This implies that the most important maintenance of citizens is to establish morality. Duṣyanta’s son is Bhārata, after whom the great Mahābhārata is named. The other Arjuna besides the Pāṇḍava is Kārttavīrya-Arjuna: a powerful thousand-armed warrior who was the impetus for Parśurāma killing 21 generations of warriors.

[2] Rantideva was a king famous for being virtually obsessed with giving everything he had to others. Yayāti, a very ancient king, performed thousands of different Vedic sacrifices. Bali exemplifies patience because he kept his cool resolve to fulfill his promise to Viṣṇu, even when his guru told him not to. His grandfather was the famous Prahlāda, son of Hiraṇyakaśipu.

[3] Even a cursory study of Vedic culture will show that their conception of animal rights was quite different from what we have today. This is not to insinuate that they had any less concern for the well-being of all living entities, but they implemented this concern in a manner would initially confuse us. We will discuss this point in more detail when it is more important to the context of the story.


Intimacy of Krishna and his Wives

Entering His Palaces

Krishna then entered the privacy of his royal compound, by first going into the palace of his father. As soon as he entered, his seven mothers[1] rushed to embrace him and he very happily bowed to them in respect. Sitting Krishna upon their laps, they soaked him with tears of delight and with the milk dripping from their affectionate breasts.

Krishna then went into his own palaces, where no desire is unfulfilled, and where his sixteen thousand wives resided.[2] Seeing their long-absent husband finally return, a great festival of joy arose in their minds. Each one immediately stood up – casting off her strict vow of meditation upon him – and sent delightfully flirtatious glances as he approached from a distance.

Out of endless love they repeatedly embraced Kṛṣṇa – first within their souls, then with their eyes, and then through their children. Despite their intention to be coy they could not help reveal their emotions, as tears of bliss poured from their eyes.[3]

Even though he was always by their sides in private, still his two feet fascinated them more and more newly with each step. Who could not be enchanted by those feet? Even the fickle Goddess of Luck, Lakṣmī, can never withdraw from them![4]

Concluding Remarks

Sūta brought this tale of Krishna to a close:

So Krishna returned from his mission amongst the Kurus. Without fighting or taking sides, he allowed the hateful and greedy kings to destroy each other and exhaust their fearsome armies – just like the wind allows bamboo set itself on fire.

A sage presented a question to Sūta: “How are we to understand that the supreme being, impartial and omnipresent, becomes so like a common man absorbed in wives and children?”

Sūta replied:

By his own magic, Krishna appears to be within our world. He seems to be the central jewel on a beautiful necklace of exquisite women; but these women are also not from our world. They are manifestations of his all-attractive energy.

The god of romance drops his flower-bow, overpowered by the limitlessly exciting pure emotions expressed through the lovely smiles and flirtatious glances of these exquisite spiritual women. But Krishna is not overpowered by these infinitely intoxicating women.

Ordinary people are tied up in ignorance and stupidity, and they think everyone else must be just like them. So, ordinary people think that the unattached is attached. Krishna, the master, always retains full mastery. Even though he places himself in the midst of his magic, he always remains fixed in his true self, and is never swept away by his own power. Even those who wisely take shelter of Krishna acquire this quality.  Ordinary people think Krishna, the Supreme Master, is weak and foolish on the leash of his wives. But their opinion about The Husband is of no importance at all!


[1] Kṛṣṇa’s biological mother is Devakī. She married Krishna’s father Vasudeva along with her six sisters: Śāntidevā, Upadevā, Śrīdevā, Devarakṣitā, Sahadevā and Dhṛtadevā [SB 9.24.21-23]. Vasudeva eventually had 18 wives [SB 10.84.47], but of the remaining eleven the following are prominent: Rohiṇī, Pauravī, Bhadrā, Madirā, Rocanā, and Ilā [SB 9.24.45].

[2] Krishna had 16,108 wives. The vast majority (16,100) he married all at once after rescuing them from their kidnapping into a harem. The remaining eight are his primary wives:  (1) Rukminī – the foremost, (2) Satyabhāmā – a delightfully feisty companion, (3) Jambavatī  – daughter of the bear-king who helped Kṛṣṇa in his incarnation as Rāma, (4) Kalinī – daughter of the Sun god and personification of Yamunā river, (5) Mitravinda – a.k.a. Satya, (6) Nagnajiti – a.k.a. Nila, (7) Bhadra, and (8) Lakṣaṇā

[3] The last sentence reveals that the wives intended to inspire Krishna to come to them for an embrace, but that their joy in seeing him again couldn’t be concealed and they also rushed to Krishna to embrace him.

[4] This paragraph reveals that Krishna concluded his return to Dvārakā by retiring to privacy with his wives, to their infinite delight.


The Beauty of Krishna Entering Dvaraka

The city of Dvārakā was protected by powerful allies all around, like the capitol of the underworld. Surrounding it was a temperate climate, natural amenities, and groves of very good flowers and trees; in which lived many saints and birds. Beautiful, auspicious flags decorated the gates, doors and roads, and everything was painted in lively colors. Pleasant shade spread out beneath these decorations. The shops, halls and roads big and small were very clean and sprinkled with perfumes, flowers, fruits, and whole seed.

In the doorway to each and every house were gathered all the things for welcoming a respected guest: yoghurt, fresh fruit, sugarcane, full water pots, incense and lamps.

When Krishna’s family heard that their darling had returned, they all spontaneously stood up, forgetting everything they had been doing.[1] They rushed towards Krishna, magnetized by love, in a parade of chariots led by great elephants, brāhmaṇas carrying auspicious symbols, and gloriously purifying sounds of conch shells and bugles.

The foremost courtesans of the city, extremely desirous to see him, came on palanquins by the hundreds with dazzling earrings swaying over the cheeks of their beautiful faces; while dancers, actors, singers, bards, historians, and great orators sang of his wondrously poetic activities.

All-Attractive Krishna greeted each of them, showing each one befitting respect by bowing, conversing, embracing, taking by the hand, glancing playfully, or speaking encouraging words. Thus Krishna fulfilled everyone’s wishes, even down to the lowest class dog-eater.

His entry into the city was graced with blessings from learned teachers and their impressive wives, and with respects from his admirers. He went by the royal road; kept cool by umbrellas, fans and showers of flowers. When these surrounded his yellow clothes and flower necklaces it seemed like a thick cloud surrounded at once by the sun, the half-moon, a rainbow, and lightning.[2]

The women of Dvārakā’s important families rushed up to their rooftops to enjoy their favorite festival: the opportunity to see him! Even though they saw him often, their thirst to behold the infallible form that is the wellspring of all beauty could not be slaked.

They exclaimed:

His chest is the abode of Goddess Beauty.
His face is a full goblet for the eyes.
His arms protect the worlds.
His lotus-like feet delight his lovers.

One lady explained:

“Many people appreciate the beauty of Śrī, the Goddess of Fortune and Beauty. His chest is so beautiful, that Śrī herself dwells there! Some people value the elixir of the gods, Soma. If you look upon his face your eyes will enjoy more nectar than the gods! Still others worship the gods for protection and safety. His strong arms protect even the gods! As for us, we are simply in love with him, like swans delighting among the lotuses that are his feet.”


[1] Family members explicitly mentioned: Krishna’s father Vasudeva, grandfather Ugrasena, “uncle” and commander-in-chief, Akrūra, brother [Bala]Rāma, and his sons Pradyumna, Cārudeṣṇa, and Sāmba.

[2] Kṛṣṇa’s brilliant black complexion is the thick cloud. His yellow clothes are the sun. The flowers falling all around him twinkle and sparkle like lightning. The umbrella above his head is like the half-moon. His multicolored flower necklaces are like rainbows.


Krishna Returns to the Embrace of his Wives

30

Then he entered his own homes, where all desires are most perfect. In those palaces were sixteen thousand wives.

The women on the rooftops of Hastinapura already discussed this “impossible” number of wives. Kṛṣṇa himself is impossibility in reality; the unlimited being. Numbers are insignificant in regards to his unfathomable dimension.

Krishna married 16,108 women. However the huge majority of these (16,100) were married to him all at once after he rescued them from their kidnapping into a harem. This leaves eight primary wives.

  1. Rukminī – the foremost, the supramost ideal wife.
  2. Satyabhāmā – a delightfully feisty companion
  3. Jambavatī  – daughter of the bear-king who helped Kṛṣṇa in his incarnation as Rāma
  4. Kalinī – daughter of the Sun god and personification of Yamunā river.
  5. Mitravinda (a.k.a. Satya)
  6. Nagnajiti (a.k.a. Nila)
  7. Bhadra – the daughter of Kṛṣṇa’s aunt.
  8. Lakṣaṇā

This part of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is still merely the introduction. We will hear much more about these divine goddesses towards the end of the book.

31

Seeing their long-absent husband finally returned to their homes
A great festival of joy arose in each wife’s mind.
She immediately stood up, giving up her vow of meditation
And sent flirtatious glances towards Kṛṣṇa, who was approaching from a distance.

While Kṛṣṇa was away in Hastinapura his wives instinctively sat down and entered a meditative trance, withdrawing their consciousness from the ordinary plane of existence. In this yogic trance they continued to enjoy Kṛṣṇa’s company without interruption. Now that he returned they immediately gave up this meditation and embraced him on the tangible plane.

32

Out of endless love they repeatedly embraced Kṛṣṇa
First within their souls, then with their eyes, and then again through their children.
Despite their desire to be flirtatious and coy,
They could not help but become choked up, as teardrops poured from their eyes.

33

Even though he was always by their sides in private,
Still his two feet fascinated them more and more newly with each step.
Who could not be enchanted by those feet?
Even the fickle Goddess of Luck can never withdraw from them.

Although the Queens knew Kṛṣṇa more deeply and intimately than anyone else in Dvārakā they were the most hungry and passionate to constantly have his company and thus come to know him more deeply. This reveals that the attractive force of the All-Attractive is ever-fresh, infinite, and always brand new.

The Goddess of Luck (spelled Lakṣmī, but pronounced almost exactly like “luck-shh.me”) is fickle. Luck never stays with any one person forever. But she herself always and forever stays at the feet of the All-Attractive. That is a testament to the ever newer and newer beauty, fascination and charm of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

Hare Kṛṣṇa.


Krishna, Prostitutes, and Dog Eaters.

16-17

When they heard that their darling had returned, the greatly respected Vasudeva, Akrūra, Ugrasena, astonishingly heroic Rāma, Pradyumna, Cārudeṣṇa, and Jāmbavatī’s son Sāmba stood up, forced by extreme eagerness to abandon their rest, seats, and meals.

Vasudeva is Kṛṣṇa’s father. Akrūra is a family relative who became the commander-in-chief and close confidant of Kṛṣṇa. Ugrasena is Kṛṣṇa’s grandfather. The “astonishingly heroic Rāma” is Balarāma, Kṛṣṇa’s brother. Pradyumna, Cārudeṣṇa and Sāmba are three important sons of Kṛṣṇa.

18

Putting before them great elephants and brāhmaṇas with all auspicious symbols, glorified by the spiritual sounds of conch shells and bugles, their chariots enthusiastically rushed towards him with attentive devotion.

19-20

Extremely desirous to see him, the city’s foremost courtesans came with dazzling earrings swaying over the cheeks of their beautiful faces, on palanquins by the hundreds; while dancers, actors, singers, bards, historians, and great orators sang of the wondrous activities of the Subject of Topmost Poetry.

21-22

The All-Attractive met all the relatives and citizens who came to meet him. He greeted each of them with befitting respect: by bowing, conversing, embracing, taking by the hand, glancing playfully, and by encouragements he greeted everyone down to the lowest class “dog-eater.” Thus the Almighty fulfilled their desired benedictions.