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In the Death Trap

When Krishna Jumped From the Kadamba


Everything has its prelude and the prelude of destruction is pride. There is nothing into which the heart of man so easily falls into as pride, and yet there is no vice which is more frequently, more emphatically, and more eloquently condemned in scriptures. Saints and seers have advised man to stay clear of this vice because it comes so stealthily that one hardly hears its footsteps. But soon after it enters you, it slowly expands its territory and rules over your conscience. It becomes impossible for a head intoxicated by power and might to bow down before others or accept defeat.

Until and unless man is rendered helpless by a greater power, might, treachery, temptation or love, it is unimaginable for him to express his humility or fold his hands. Krishna either steals hearts with his magnanimous form, beauty, his divine flute and his pastimes or subdues their ego. And when they come running to Krishna, surrendering everything they call their own, he embraces them as he is present as the source of life in everyone.

Vrindavan was bustling with joy. The pastures were green with the trees swinging in harmony to the tune of the breeze. The cowherd boys crowded around Krishna like the bees swarming over the flowers to collect honey. The young boys could never have enough of Krishna’s attractive face or his captivating flute. The cows and the calves grazed in the meadows, listening to the mystical flute and turning their heads for a glimpse of his heavenly form. The weather was pleasant and Krishna called his friends to play.

Krishna took Sridama’s ball and hurled it to one of his friends. All the boys ran towards it to catch it and thus started the game, throwing the ball to one another, running, falling on the ground and getting up in a ziff to catch it. As the game gained momentum, Krishna took the ball and hurled it far, far away and soon it went out of sight. Krishna and his friends followed the direction for quite some time but couldn’t trace it. As they looked around, they saw the greenery was long gone and they could notice the dense grey fog around with the trees all shriveled up and not a single blade of grass on the ground save a lone Kadamba tree that grew near a body of water. They realised they had come near the banks of the river Yamuna, near the parts where the poisonous serpent ‘Kaaliya’ resided.

The water of the river had turned a deadly pitch black colour due to the venom of Kaaliya. The water boiled and bubbled with the heat of his venom. The water swirled and created dark waves that shaped up a horrifying sight. Not a single creature was able to survive in that water. Even the birds flying high above that waterway were pulled down by the envelope of poisonous gas. The wind that touched the waves of that deadly rill carried forth the venom causing the trees and other life forms around the river to dry up and die.

The lethal venom had made Kalliya powerful. It was time to get rid of the serpent and save the lives and the waters of Yamuna. So, Krishna remarked that he had to get into the river to get Sridama’s ball. He noticed the lone Kadamba tree and went near it. He tightened the yellow garment around his waist, clapped his hands aloud, took a deep breath and started climbing up the tree. He took a look at the dangerous river creating ripples and waves below and plunged into its deathly waters, piercing the surface with a thundering noise. As Krishna entered the roaring stream, the current became stronger and the waves rose high. As the sun’s rays reflected from the poisonous water, it kept changing colour from red to yellow to blue and appeared like the colours of the rainbow emanating from the river’s surface. The water rose high up and spilled around its banks. As Krishna swam from one end of the river to the other, with his mighty arms, he appeared like an elephant bathing and playing in the water. Sometimes he seemed like a ship sailing in the vast ocean, up and down the waves, here seen and there gone into oblivion.

Suddenly, Krishna splashed the water, dividing it with his two hands, and the forest around echoed with the thunderous sound. It became difficult for Kaaliya to bear the noise and a spark of fright ignited within him. He had been ruling over the water without care or concern. Hardly anyone had the courage to confront him and he had forgotten the feeling of being challenged. He understood that someone had invaded his territory, ready for a duel. Who could be so foolish, so unaware of the power of Kaaliya, to sneer at him and announce a war? Unable to bear this humiliation any longer, he came out of his home and found himself face to face with Krishna.

Seeing the all-attractive form of Krishna so near him, Kaaliya was overwhelmed. The emerald blue form of Krishna in the water seemed like a group of clouds in the dark sky. His yellow garment dazzled like the rays of the sun sparkling in the water. The garland of forest flowers around his neck moving up and down in the ripples created a charming picture. His long hair was curled around his forehead which was decorated with tilaka. Kaaliya was enchanted by the playful movements of his dark, etched eyebrows. His handsome lotus face outshone a million moons and the mystical smile playing on his red lips could take away the senses. His feet were as soft as lotus stalks and Kaaliya saw this little alluring boy laughing and playing in his water, unaware of his imminent death. The poison had no effect on him and he was enjoying his swim unintimidated.

Snakes are cruel by nature. Fully aware of his own strength, power and the lethal quality of his venom, Kaaliya considered himself invincible. It was time to crush his opponent. In the blink of an eye, Kaaliya thrust himself forward and encircled Krishna, wrapping him in his huge coils. He tied Krishna so tightly in his deadly knot that it would become impossible for Krishna to move. Holding Him firm in that inescapable position, Kaaliya flared his hood and struck Krishna again and again, his venom oozing out and making its way into the body of Krishna.

तं नागभोगपरिवीतमद‍ृष्टचेष्ट-मालोक्य तत्प्रियसखा: पशुपा भृशार्ता: । कृष्णेऽर्पितात्मसुहृदर्थकलत्रकामा दु:खानुशोकभयमूढधियो निपेतु: ॥

taṁ nāga-bhoga-parivītam adṛṣṭa-ceṣṭam ālokya tat-priya-sakhāḥ paśupā bhṛśārtāḥ kṛṣṇe ’rpitātma-suhṛd-artha-kalatra-kāmā duḥkhānuśoka-bhaya-mūḍha-dhiyo nipetuḥ

-Srimad Bhagavatam 10.16.10

Friends of Krishna stood on the banks, motionless. Their eyes widened in horror when they saw their dearest friend in the clutches of the wicked snake. They had offered their very lives, their families, their wealth and all their pleasures to Krishna. They felt Krishna in everything they did and couldn’t envisage their existence without him. Seeing Krishna trapped in the deadly knot of Kaaliya, they were clueless, greatly disturbed in fear and despair. Unable to hold their thoughts together they fell to the ground like logs.

…to be continued

Inspired by Sri Prabhudatta Brahmachari's 'Bhagavat Katha'.

The Kadamba Tree on the banks of Yamuna in Vrindavan from which Sri Krishna jumped to subdue Kaaliya.

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Sanjukta panigrahi
Sanjukta panigrahi

Beautiful expression in simple words

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