Re: Mythology - Dr Ambedkar: The Riddle of Rama and Krishna
Posted by Preet Mohan S Ahluwalia on Tuesday, 11/06/2001 1:50 PM MST
The following is the text of an essay that Dr. Ambedkar wrote. Sikhism does not have place for any mythology.
THE RIDDLE OF RAMA AND KRISHNA
By Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar
Rama is the hero of the Ramayana whose author is Valmiki. The story of the Ramayana is a very short one. Besides it is simple and in itself there is nothing sensational about it.
Rama is the son of Dasharatha the king of Ayodhya the modern Benares. Dasharatha had three wives, Kausalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra besides several hundred concubines. Kaikeyi had married Dasharatha on terms which were at the time of marriage unspecified and which Dasharatha
After they ate the pindas three wives became pregnant and gave birth to sons. Kausalya gave birth to Rama, Kaikeyi gave birth to Bharata and Sumitra gave birth to two sons Laxman and Satrughana. In due course Rama was married to Sita. When Rama came of age, Dasharatha
While the three living in the forest Ravana the king of Lanka kidnapped Sita and took her away and kept her in his palace intending to make her one of his wives. Rama and Laxman then started search of Sita. On the way they meet Sugriva and Hanuman two leading personages of the Vanara (monkey) race and form friendship with them.
With their help the place of the abduction was located and with their help they marched on Lanka, defeated Ravana in the battle and rescued Sita. Rama returns with Laxman and Sita to Ayodhya. By that time twelve years had elapsed and the term prescribed by Kaikeyi was
(This is a 49-page typed copy placed in a well-bound file along with the MS of ' Symbols of Hinduism '. This riddle does not find place in the original Table of Contents. Hence this is included as an Appendix to this part.—Ed.Note: Government does not concur with the views expressed in this Chapter. )
Such is in brief the outline of the story of the Ramayana as told by Valmiki.
There is nothing in this story to make Rama the object of worship. He is only a dutiful son. But Valmiki saw something extraordinary in Rama and that is why he undertook to compose the Ramayana. Valmiki asked Narada the following question*[f75] :
"Tell me Oh! Narada, who is the most accomplished man on earth at the present time?"
and then goes on to elaborate what he means by accomplished man. He defines his accomplished man as:
" Powerful, one who knows the secret of religion, one who knows gratitude, truthful, one who is ready to sacrifice his self interest even when in distress to fulfil a religious vow, virtuous in his
Narada then asks for time to consider and after mature deliberation tells him that the only person who can be said to possess these virtues is Rama, the son of Dasharatha.
It is because of his virtues that Rama has come to be deified. But is Rama a worthy personality of deification? Let those who accept him an object worthy of worship as a God consider the following facts.
Rama's birth is miraculous and it may be that the suggestion that he was born from a pinda prepared by the sage Shrung is an allegorical glass to cover the naked truth that he was begotten upon Kausalya by the sage Shrung although the two did not stand in the relationship of husband and wife. In any case his birth if not disreputable in its origin is certainly unnatural.
There are other incidents connected with the birth of Rama the unsavory character of which it will be difficult to deny.
Valmiki starts his Ramayana by emphasizing the fact that Rama is an Avatar of Vishnu and it is Vishnu who agreed to take birth as Rama and be the son of Dasharatha. The God Brahma came to know of this and felt that in order that this Rama Avatar of Vishnu be a complete
The Gods agreed to carry out the command of Brahma and engaged themselves in wholesale acts of fornication not only against Apsaras who were prostitutes not only against the unmarried daughters of Yakshas and Nagas but also against the lawfully wedded wives of Ruksha, Vidhyadhar, Gandharvas, Kinnars and Vanaras and produced the Vanaras who became the associates of Rama.
Rama's birth is thus accompanied by general debauchery if not in his case certainly in the case of his associates. His marriage to Sita is not above comment. According to Buddha Ramayana, Sita was the sister of Rama, both were the children of Dasharatha. The Ramayana of
This is not convincing for even according to Valmiki she is not the natural born daughter of Janaka but a child found by a farmer in his field while ploughing it and presented by him to king Janaka and brought up by Janaka. It was therefore in a superficial sense that Sita could be
Even Valmiki refers*[f77] to the many wives of Rama. These were of course in addition to his many concubines. In this he was the true son of his nominal father Dasharatha who had not only the three wives referred to above but many others.
Let us next consider his character as an individual and as a king. In speaking of him as an individual I will refer to only two incidents one relating to his treatment of Vali and other relating to his treatment of his own wife Sita. First let us consider the incident of Vali.
Vali and Sugriva were two brothers. They belonged to the Vanar race and came from a ruling family which had its own kingdom the capital of which was Kishkindha. At the time when Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, Vali was reigning at Kishkindha. While Vali was on the throne
As a matter of fact, Vali was not killed. It was Mayavi who was killed by Vali. Vali came out of the cavity but did not find Sugriva there. He proceeded to Kishkindha and to his great surprise he found that Sugriva had proclaimed himself king. Vali naturally became enraged at this act of treachery on the part of his brother Sugriva and he had good ground to be. Sugriva should have ascertained, should not merely have assumed that Vali was dead. Secondly Vali had a son
This occurred just after Ravana had kidnapped Sita. Rama and Laxman were wandering in search of her. Sugriva and Hanuman were wandering in search of friends who could help them to regain the throne from Vali. The two parties met quite accidentally. After informing each
It was agreed that Rama should help Sugriva to kill Vali and to establish him on the throne of Kishkindha. On the part of Sugriva and Hanuman it was agreed that they should help Rama to regain Sita. To enable Rama to fulfil his part of the compact it was planned that Sugriva should wear a garland in his neck as to be easily distinguishable to Rama from Vali and that while the dual was going on Rama should conceal himself behind a tree and then shoot an arrow at Vali and kill him. Accordingly a dual was arranged, Sugriva with a garland in his neck and while the daul was on, Rama standing behind a tree shot Vali with his arrow and opened the way to Sugriva to be the king of Kishkindha. This murder of Vali is the greatest blot on the character of Rama. It was a crime which was thoroughly unprovoked, for Vali had no quarrel with Rama. It was most cowardly act for Vali was unarmed. It was a planned and premeditated murder.
Consider his treatment of his own wife Sita. With the army collected for him by Sugriva and Hanuman, Rama invades Lanka. There too he plays the same mean part as he did as between the two brothers Vali and Sugriva. He takes the help of Bibhishana the brother of Ravana
The first thing he should have done after disposing of Ravana was to have gone to Sita. He does not do so. He finds more interest in the coronation than in Sita. Even when the coronation is over he does not go himself but sends Hanuman. And what is the message he sends? He
I have got you as a prize in a war after conquering my enemy your captor. I have recovered my honour and punished my enemy. People have witnessed my military prowess and I am glad my abours have been rewarded. I came here to kill Ravana and wash off the dishonour. I did not take this trouble for your sake." Could there be anything more cruel than this conduct of Rama towards Sita? He does not stop there. He proceeded to tell her:
" I suspect your conduct. You must have been spoiled by Ravana. Your very sight is revolting to me. On you daughter of Janaka, I allow you to go anywhere you like. I have nothing to do with you. I conquerred you back and I am content for that was my object. I cannot think that Ravana would have failed to enjoy a woman as beautiful as you are."
Naturally Sita calls Rama low and mean and tells him quite that she would have committed suicide and saved him all this if when Hanuman first came he had sent her a message that he abandoned her on the ground that she was kidnapped. To give him no excuse Sita undertakes
And what does he do with her when he brings her back to Ayodhya. Of course, he became king and she became queen. But while Rama remained king, Sita ceased to be a queen very soon. This incident reflects great infamy upon Rama. It is recorded by Valmiki in his Ramayana that some days after the coronation of Rama and Sita as king and queen Sita conceived. Seeing that she was carrying some residents of evil disposition began to calumniate Sita suggesting that she must have conceived from Ravana while she was in Lanka and blaming Rama for taking such a woman back as his wife. This malicious gossip in the town was reported by Bhadra, the Court joker to Rama.
Rama evidently was stung by this calumny. He was overwhelmed with a sense of disgrace. This is quite natural. What is quite unnatural is the means he adopts of getting rid of this disgrace. To get rid of this disgrace he takes the shortest cut and the swiftest means—namely to abandon her, a woman in a somewhat advanced state of pregnancy in a jungle, without friends, without provision, without even notice in a most treacherous manner. There is no doubt that the idea of abandoning Sita was not sudden and had not occurred to Rama on the spur of the moment. The genesis of the idea the developing of it and the plan of executing are worth some detailed mention.
When Bhadra reports to him the gossip about Sita which had spread in the town Rama calls his brothers and tells them his feelings. He tells them Sita's purity and chastity was proved in Lanka, that Gods had vouched lor it and that he absolutely believed in her innocence, purity and
This shows that he had made up his mind to abandon Sita as the easiest way of saving himself from public calumny without waiting to consider whether the way was fair or foul. The life of Sita simply did not count. What counted was his own personal name and fame. He of course does not take the manly course of stopping this gossip, which as a king he could do and which as a husband who was convinced of his wife's innocence he was bound to it. He yielded to the public gossip and there are not wanting Hindus who use this as ground to prove that Rama was a democratic king when others could equally well say that he was a weak and cowardly monarch: Be that as it may that diabolical plan of saving his name and his fame he discloses to his brothers but not to Sita the only person who was affected by it and the only person who was entitled to have notice of it. But she is kept entirely in the dark. Rama keeps it away from Sita as a closely guarded secret and was waiting for an opportunity to put his plan into action. Eventually the cruel fate of Sita gives him the opportunity he was waiting for. Women who are carrying exhibit all sorts of cravings for all sorts of things. Rama knew of this. So one day he asked Sita if there was anything for which she felt a craving.
She said yes. Rama said what was it. She replied that she would like to live in the vicinity of the Ashrama of sage on the bank of the river Ganges and live on fruits and roots at least for one night. Rama simply jumped at the suggestion of Sita and said " Be easy my dear I shall see that you are sent there tomorrow ". Sita treats this as an honest promise by a loving husband. But what does Rama do? He thinks it is a good opportunity for carrying through his plan of
This confabulation took place at night. Next morning Laxman asked Sumanta to yoke the horses to the chariot. Sumanta informs Laxman of his having done so. Laxman then goes into the palace and meets Sita and reminds her of her having expressed her desire to pass some days in the vicinity of an Ashrama and Rama having promised to fulfil the same and tells her of his having been charged by Rama to do the needful in the matter. He points to her the chariot waiting there and says 'let us go!' Sita jumps into the chariot with her heart full of gratitude to Rama. With Laxman as her companion and Sumanta as coachman the chariot proceeds to its appointed place. At last they were on the bank of the Ganges and were ferried across by the fishermen. Laxman fell at Sita's feet, and with hot tears issuing from his eyes he said ' Pardon me, 0, blameless queen, for what I am doing. My orders are to abandon you here, for the people blame Rama for keeping you in his house."
Sita abandoned by Rama and left to die in a jungle went for shelter in the Ashrama of Valmiki which was near about. Valmiki gave her protection and kept her in his Ashram. There in course of time Sita gave birth to twin sons, called Kusa and Lava. The three lived with Valmiki. Valmiki brought up the boys and taught them to sing the Ramayana which he had composed. For 12 years the boys lived in the forest in the Ashrama of Valmiki not far from Ayodhya where Rama
But Valmiki came to the Yadna of his own accord accompanied by the two sons of Sita
This is a thing she had once done in Lanka. This is a thing she could have been asked to do again before she was sent away. There was no promise that after this vindication of her character Rama was prepared to take her back. Valmiki brings her to the Assembly. When
She will now swear her purity if permitted by you. Here are your twin-born sons bred up by me in my hermitage.' ' I know,' said Rama 'that Sita is pure and that these are my sons. She performed an ordeal in Lanka in proof of her purity and therefore I took her back. But people here have doubts still, and let Sita perform an ordeal here that all these Rishis and people may witness it."
With eyes cast down on the ground and with hands folded Sita swore " As I never thought of any man except Rama even in my mind. let mother Earth open and bury me. As I always loved Rama in words, in thoughts, and in deed, let mother Earth open and bury me! As she uttered the oath, the earth verily opened and Sita was carried away inside seated on a golden simhasana (throne). Heavenly flowers fell on Sita's head while the audience looked on as in a trance.
That means that Sita preferred to die rather than return to Rama who had behaved no better than a brute. Such is the tragedy of Sita and the crime of Rama the God. Let me throw some search light on Rama the King. Rama is held out as an ideal King. But can that conclusion be said to be founded in fact?
As a matter of fact Rama never functions, as a King. He was a nominal King. The administration as Valmiki states were entrusted to Bharata his brother. He had freed himself from the cares and worries about his kingdom and his subjects. Valmiki has very minutely described* [f79] the daily life of Rama after he became King. According to that account the day was divided into two parts. Up to forenoon and afternoon. From morning to forenoon he was engaged in performing
Valmiki also gives a detailed description of how Rama spent his life in the Zenana. This Zenana was housed in a park called Ashoka Vana. There Rama, used to take his meal. The food according to Valmiki consisted of all kinds of delicious viands. They included flesh and fruits and liquor. Rama was not a teetotaller. He drank liquor copiously and Valmiki records that Rama saw to it that Sita joined with him in his drinking bouts*[f81] . From the description of the Zenana of Rama as given by Valmiki it was by no means a mean thing. There were Apsaras, Uraga and Kinnari accomplished in dancing and singing. There were other beautiful women brought from different parts. Rama sat in the midst of these women drinking and dancing.
They pleased Rama and Rama garlanded them. Valmiki calls Rama as a 'Prince among women's men '. This was not a day's affair. It was a regular course of his life.
As has already been said Rama never attended to public business. He never observed the ancient rule of Indian kings of hearing the wrongs of his subjects and attempting to redress them. Only one occasion has been recorded by Valmiki when he personally heard the grievance of his subjects. But unfortunately the occasion turned out to be a tragic one. He took upon himself to redress the wrong but in doing so committed the worst crime that history has ever recorded. The incident is known as the murder of Sambuka the Shudra. It is said by
Rama thereupon consulted his council of eight learned Rishis and Narada amongst them told Rama that some Shudra among his subjects must have been performing Tapasya (ascetic exercises), and thereby going against Dharma (sacred law); for according to it the practice of Tapasya was proper to the twice-born alone, while the duty of the Shudras consisted only in the
At last, in a wild region far away to the south he espied a man practising rigorous austerities of a certain kind. He approached the man, and with no more ado than to enquire of him and inform himself that he was a Shudra, by name Sambuka who was practising Tapasya with a view to going to heaven in his own earthly person and without so much as a warning, expostulation or the like addressed to him, cut off his head. And to and behold! that very moment the dead Brahman boy in distant Ayodhya began to breathe again. Here in the wilds the Gods rained flowers on the king from their joy at his having prevented a Shudra from gaining admission to their celestial abode through the power of the Tapasya which he had no right to perform.
They also appeared before Rama and congratulated him on his deed. In answer to his prayer to them to revive the dead Brahman boy lying at the palace gate in Ayodhya, they informed him that he had already come to life. They then departed. Rama thence proceeded to the Ashrama which was nearby of the sage +Agastya, who commended the step he had taken with Sambuka, and presented him with a divine bracelet.
Rama then returned to his capital. Such is Rama.
Now about Krishna.
He is the hero of the Mahabharata. Really speaking the Mahabharata is principally connected with the Kauravas and the Pandavas. It is the story of the war fought by the two for right to the kingdom which belonged to their ancestors. They should be the principal characters. But they are not. It is Krishna who is the hero of the epic. This is a little strange thing. But what is stranger still is the possibility not being a contemporary of the Kauravas and Pandavas. Krishna was the friend of the Pandavas who had their empire. Krishna was the enemy of Kansa who also had his empire. It does not seem possible that two such empires should subsist side by side at once and at the same time.
Secondly, in the Mahabharata there is nothing to show that there was any intercourse between the two empires. The two stories of Krishna and the Pandavas have been mixed together at some later date in order to provide Krishna with a larger theater to play a bigger part. The mixture of the two stories is the result of a deliberate design on the part of Vyas to glorify Krishna and to raise him above all.
In the hands of Vyas Krishna is God among men. That is why he is made the hero of the Mahabharata. Does Krishna really deserve to be called God among men? A short sketch of his life alone will help to give a correct answer. Krishna was born at Mathura at midnight on the 8th
The seventh child, Balarama, was miraculously transferred from Devaki's womb to that of Rohini, another wife of Vasudeva. When the eighth child, Krishna, was born, he was secretly borne by his father to the other side of the river Yamuna, where Nanda and his wife Yasoda, natives of
The first or one of the first of these is the killing of Putana. She was Kansa's nurse and was sent by him to kill Krishna in the form of a female vulture, according to Harivamsa, and of a beautiful woman according to the Bhagavata. As she pretending to suckle Krishna, put her poisoned breast into his mouth, he sucked it so powerfully as to draw out her very life-blood so that she fell down with an yell and died.
Krishna performed another of these feats when he was only three months old. It was the breaking of a Sakata, a cart which was used as a cupboard and had several jars and pans, full of milk and curd, ranged on it. According to the Harivamsa Sakata was an Asura sent by
When Putana and Sakata's attempts to kill Krishna having failed, Kansa sent another of his emissaries an asura named Trinavarta, to attempt the same task. He came in the form of a bird and carried aloft the divine child, then only a year old. But he soon dropped down dead with the child safe and holding his throat tightly.
The next feat was the breaking of two arjuna trees growing side by side. They are described as the bodies of two Yakshas who were converted into this form by a curse, and who were released by this feat of Krishna. When he had learnt to crawl about and could hardly be kept out of mischief Yasoda tied him with a rope to a wooden mortar and went to mind her household duties. When she was out of sight, Krishna began to drag the mortar after him till it stuck fast
Now these events filled Nanda with fear, and he seriously thought of leaving Vraja and moving to another settlement. While he was thus thinking, the place was infested with wolves which made great havoc among the cattle and made it quite unsafe. This fixed the wavering intention of the nomads and they moved with all their belongings to the pleasant woodland named Vrindavan. Krishna was then only seven years old.
After his removal to this new settlement, Krishna killed quite a large number of Asuras. One of them was Aristha, who came in the form of a bull; another, Kesin, who was disguised as a horse. Five others, Vratrasura, Bakasura, Aghasura, Bhomasura and Sankhasura, the last a
The subjugation of Kaliya was followed by Vastra-harana, the carrying away of clothes, a hard nut to crack for worshippers and admirers of the Puranic Krishna. The whole narration is so obscene, that even the merest outlines will, I fear, be felt to be indelicate. But I must give them in as decent a form as is possible, to make my brief account of Krishna's doings as full as I can. Some Gopies had dived into the waters of the Yamuna for a bath, leaving their clothes on
The next of Krishna's feats was the uplifting of the Govardhan Hill. The Gopas were about to celebrate their annual sacrifices to Indra, the God of rain, and began to make grand preparations for it. Krishna pointed out to them that as they were a pastoral and not an agricultural tribe, their real Gods were kine, hills and woods, and them only they should worship, and not such Gods as the rain-giving Indra. The Gopas were convinced, and giving up their intention of worshipping Indra, celebrated a grand sacrifice to the hill Govardhan, the nourisher of kine, accompanied with feasting and dancing. Indra was as he could not but be greatly enraged at this affront offered to him, and as punishment, he poured rain on the Gopa settlement for seven days and nights continually. Krishna, nothing daunted, uprooted the hill and held it up as an umbrella over the
As to the jealousy between Indra and the Krishna of the Rig-Veda and that between the former and the Vishnu of the Satapatha Brahmana, I have already spoken in my first lecture.
Krishna's youthful career was full or illicit intimacy with the young women of Brindaben which is called his Rasalila. Rasa is a sort of circular dance in which the hands of the dancers, men and women, are joined together. It is said to be still prevalent among some of the wild tribes of this country. Krishna, it is stated, was in the habit of often enjoying this dance with the young Gopis of Brindaben, who loved him passionately. One of these dances is described in the Vishnu Purana, the Harivamsa and the Bhagavata. All these authorities interpret the Gopi's love for Krishna as piety—love to God, and see nothing wrong in their amorous dealings with him—dealings which, in the case of any other person, would be highly reprehensible according to their own admission.
All agree as to the general character of the affair—the scene, the time and season, the drawing of the women with sweet music, the dance, the amorous feelings of the women for Krishna, and their expression in various ways. But while the Vishnu Purana tries— not always successfully—to keep within the limits of decency, the Harivamsa begins to be plainly indecent, and the
Of all his indecencies the worst is his illicit life with one Gopi by name Radha. Krishna's illicit relations with Radha are portrayed in the Brahmavaivarta Purana. Krishna is married to Rukmani the daughter of King Rukmangad. Radha was married to..... Krishna who abandons his lawfully wedded wife Rukmini and seduces Radha wife of another man and lives with her in sin without remorse.
Krishna was also a warrior and a politician even at a very early age, we are told, when he was in his twelfth year. Every one of his acts whether as a warrior or as a politician was an immoral act. His first act in this sphere was the assassination of his maternal uncle Kamsa.
'Assassination' is not too strong a term for it, for though Kamsa had given him provocation, he was not killed in the course of a battle or even in a single combat. The story is that having heard God Krishna's youthful feats at Brindaban, Karnsa got frightened and determined to secure his death by confronting him with a great athlete in an open exhibition of arms. Accordingly he announced the celebration of a dhanuryajna a bow sacrifice, and invited Krishna, Balarama and their Gopa friends to it. Akrura, an adherent of Krishna, but an officer of Kamsa. was deputed by the latter to bring the brothers to Mathura. They came, determined to kill Kamsa. He had provoked not only them, but other Yadavas also, whom his persecution had compelled to leave Mathura.
The brothers were therefore supported by a conspiracy against him. Having arrived at Mathura, they desired to change their simple Gopa dress for a more decent one, and asked for clothes from Kamsa's washerman, whom they met in the street. As the man behaved insolently with them, they killed him and took from his stock whatever clothes they liked. They then met Kubja, a hunch-backed woman who served as Kamsa's perfumer. At their request she annointed them with sandal paste and in return was cured by Krishna of her bodily deformity. The Bhagvata makes him visit her on a subsequent occasion and describes his union with her with its
Krishna killed the elephant and entered the arena. There the brothers encountered Kamsa's chosen athletes, Chanura, Mustika, Toshalaka and Andhra. Krishna killed Chanura and Toshalaka and Balarama the other two. Frustrated in his plan of securing Krishna's death by stratagem Kamsa ordered the brothers and their Gopa friends to be turned out and banished from his kingdom, - their herds to be confiscated and Vasudeva, Nanda and his own father Ugrasen to be assassinated. At this Krishna got upon the platform on which Karnsa was seated, and seizing him by the hair, threw him down on the ground and killed him. Having consoled Kamsa's weeping wives he ordered a royal cremation for him, and refusing the kingdom offered him by Ugrasen, installed the latter on the throne and invited his banished relatives to return to Mathura.
The next episode is Krishna's fight with Jarasandha, emperor of Magadha, and Kalayavana. Jarasandha was the son-in-law of Kamsa. Enraged by Krishna's assassination of Karnsa, his son-in-law, Jarasandha is said to have invaded Mathura seventeen times and to have been every time repulsed by Krishna. Fearing, however, that an eighteenth invasion would be disastrous to the city, Krishna removed the Yadavas to Dwarka at the west end of Gujarat Peninsula. After the removal of the Yadavas from Mathura, the city was besieged by Kalayavana at the instigation of Jarasandha. While pursuing the unarmed Krishna, however, out of the city, the invader was burnt to ashes, by fire issuing from the eyes of king Muchakunda, who had been
Krishna defeated the army of Kalayavana but while flying to Dwaraka with the booty, he was overtaken by Jarasandha. He, however, evaded his enemy by climbing a hill and flying to Dwaraka after jumping down from it.
Krishna was now, for the first time, married. He married Rukmini daughter of Bhishmaka, king of Vidarbha. Her father, at Jarasandha's advice, was making preparations to get her married to Sishupala, Krishna's cousin and king of Chedi. But Krishna carried her off on the day before the proposed marriage. The Bhagavata says she had fallen in love with Krishna and had addressed a love letter to him.
This does not seem to be true. For Krishna did not remain a true and faithful husband of Rukmini. Rukmini was gradually followed by an enormously vast army of co-wives till the number of Krishna's consorts rose to sixteen thousand one hundred and eight. His children
Indra, though the chief of the Vedic Gods, and though he was helped by the latter on this occasion was indeed no match for the ' Incarnation of the Supreme Being ' and was forced to part with his favourite flower-tree, which was thus carried to Dwarka and planted there. The story of how he obtained his chief eight wives is very interesting. The story of how he got Rukmini is already told.
Satyabhama was the daughter of Satrajit, a Vadava chief who gave her away in marriage to Krishna because he was afraid of him and wished to buy his favour. Jambavati was the daughter of Jambavna, a bear chief, against whom Krishna waged a long war to recover a previous gem he had taken away from a Yadava. Jambavana was defeated and presented his daughter to Krishna, as a peace-offering. Kalindi went through a series of austerities in order to get Krishna as her husband and her devotion was rewarded by the marriage she had sought.
Mitrabinda was a cousin of Krishna and was carried off by him from the Svayamvara grounds. Satya was the daughter of Nagnajit, king of Ayodhya and was won by Krishna when he had achieved a brave feat of arms, namely, killing a number of naughty bulls belonging to Nagnajit.
Bhadra was another cousin of Krishna and was married by him in the usual way. Lakshmana was the daughter of Brihatsena, king of Madra, and was carried off by him from the Swayamavara grounds.
Krishna's part in Arjuna's marriage with Subhadra, sister of Balarama and Krishna's half sister is noteworthy. In the course of his travels Arjuna arrived at the holy place of Prabhasa, and was received by Krishna on the hill of Raivataka. There he was enamoured of Subhadni and asked Krishna how he could get her. Krishna advised him to carry her off as a brave Kshatriya without depending upon the chances of a Svayamvaram, the usual Kshatriya form of marriage. The Yadavas were at first enraged at this outrage, but when Krishna convinced them that Arjuna would be a very worthy husband for Subhadra. and that by carrying her off he had done nothing unworthy of a hero, they consented to the union. And how could they do otherwise? Krishna did
It is interesting to note how Krishna disposed of Jarasandha and Sishupala who created trouble at the Rajasuya performed by Yudhisthira. Jarasandha had imprisoned a large number of kings and intended to sacrifice them to Rudra. Unless he was killed and the imprisoned princes released and given an opportunity to pay homage to Yudhisthira, the latter's claim as emperor could not be established.
Krishna therefore proceeded with Bhirna and Arjuna to Rajagriha, Jarasandha's capital, and challenged him to a single combat with anyone of them he might choose. Such a challenge could not be refused by a Kshatriya, and Jarasandha, at the anticipation of death at his
Having put Sahadev on his father's throne, and invited the released princes to attend Yudhisthira's Rajasuya, Krishna and his friends returned to Indraprastha.
In due course the Rajasuya came off. Of the various functions and duties connected with the ceremony, Krishna is said to have taken charge of washing the feet of the Brahmans. This is a sure indication of the comparative modernness of the Mahabharata, at any rate, of this story. For in ancient times, even when the supremacy of the Brahmans had been established, the Kshatriyas never paid them any servile honour. However when the sacrifice was over, the time came for Yudhisthira to make presents to the assembled princes, priests and other persons deserving honour. To whom must honour be paid first?
Yudhisthira having asked Bhishma's opinion on the matter, the latter replied that Krishna was the person to be honoured first. Accordingly Sahadeva at Yudhishtira's command presented the Arghya, the mark of honour, to Krishna, and the latter accepted it. This upset Sishupala, who made a long speech, challenging Krishna's right to the honour and abusing the Pandavas for paying any honour and Krishna for accepting it. Bhishma made another speech narrating Krishna's exploits and achievements at length, and declaring his divinity. Sishupala rose again, rebutted Bhishma's arguments one after another, and grossly abused him. It is pointed out by Krishna's recent biographers, that of the charges brought against Krishna by Sishupala, there is no mention of his dealings with the Brindaban Gopis, a sure indication, according to them, that when the Mahabharatha was composed, the story of these dealings of Krishna, a story made so much of by the writers of the Puranas and the later poets, was not conceived.
However, at the end of Sishupala's speech Bhishma, who saw that Yudhishtira was afraid lest Sishupala and his followers might obstruct the completion of the ceremony, said, addressing them that if they were resolved to die they might challenge the divine Krishna himself to fight. At this Sishupala challenged Krishna, who rose in response and narrated his opponent's numerous misdeeds. Then with the words, "At the request of his mother, my aunt, I have pardoned a hundred of Sishupala's offences. But I cannot pardon the insulting words he has spoken of me
Actions of Krishna during the Mahabharata War may now be reviewed.
The following are some of them:
1. When Satyaki, Krishna's friend, was hard pressed by Bhurisrava, son of Somadatta, Krishna induced Arjuna to cut off his arms, and thereby made it easy for Satyaki to kill him.
2. When Abhimanyu was unfairly surrounded and killed by seven Kaurava warriors, Arjuna vowed the death of the ring leader, Jayadratha, next day before sunset, or, failing that his own death by entering into fire. When the Sun was about to set, and Jayadratha remained unslain,
3. Despairing of Drona being ever killed by fair means Krishna advised the Pandavas to kill him unfairly. If he could he made to cast down his arms, he could, Krishna said, be killed easily. This could be done if he was told that his son, Asvathama was dead. Bhima tried the suggested device He killed an elephant named after Drona's son and told him that Asvathama was killed.
The warrior was somewhat depressed by the news, but did not quite believe it. At this juncture
"In marriage, in amorous dealings, when one's life is in danger, when the whole of one's possession is going to be lost, and when a Brahman's interest is at stake, untruth should be told. The wise have said that speaking untruth on these five occasions is not a sin."
Yudhisthir's scruples were stifled, and he said to his preceptor, " Yes, Asvathama is killed " adding in a low voice, " that is, an elephant " which last words, however were not heard by Dron. His depression was complete, and on hearing some bitterly reproachful words from Bhima, he gave up his arms, and while sitting in a meditative posture, was killed by Dhristhadyumna.
4. When Bhima was unsuccessfully fighting with Duryodhana by the side of the Dvaipayana Lake Krishna reminded him through Arjuna that he had vowed the breaking of his opponent's thighs. Now striking a rival below the navel was unfair, but as Duryodhana could not be killed
In founding his city of Dwaraka he had taken care to settle thousands of ' unfortunates ' there. As the Harivamsa said: ' O, hero having conquered the abodes of the Daityas (giants) with the help of brave Yadus, the Lord settled thousands of public women in Dwaraka ".
Dancing, singing and drinking by men and women married and prostitutes filled the city of Dwaraka. We get a description of a seatrip in which these women formed a principal source of enjoyment. Excited by their singing and dancing, the brothers Krishna and Balarama joined in the dancing with their wives. They were followed by the other Yadava chiefs and by Arjuna and Narada. Then a fresh excitement was sought. Men and women all fell into the sea and at
This was followed by eating and drinking and this again by a special musical
Fearing the worst consequences from this curse, the boys took the pestle to the sea-side and rubbed it away. But its particles came out in the form of erakas, a kind of reeds and its last remaining bit, which had been thrown into the sea, was afterwards recovered and used by a hunter as the point of an arrow; Now it was with these erakas that the Yadavas killed themselves. They had gone in large parties to the holy place of Prabhasa. They indulged in drinking there and this proved their ruin. The evils of drinking there had been found out at length by Krishna and some other Yadava leaders, and it was prohibited on pain of death by a public notification. But the prohibition had no effect.
The drunken Yadavas at first quarrelled and then began to fight and kill one another. When some of Krishna's own sons were killed he himself joined in the fight and killed a large number of his own people. He then went in search of Balarama. He found him in meditative posture and saw his spirit passing out of his body in the form of a large serpent i.e., Sesha Naga, the divine snake whom he had incarnated. Krishna now felt that it was time for him also to pass away. He then bade farewell to his father and his wives, telling them that he had sent for Arjuna, who would take charge of them. Then he seated himself under a tree, hidden by its leafy and outstretching branches, and composed his mind in meditation. While thus sitting, a hunter named Jara mistook him for a deer and hit him with an arrow, one pointed with the last remaining bit of the fatal pestle.
Discovering his mistake, the man fell at Krishna's feet and was pardoned and flew away to heaven, illumining all sides by its dazzling light. Arjuna came and proceeded towards Hastinapur with the surviving Yadavas men and women. But his good genius having left him
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