The Death of Krishna [Adapted From The Mahabharatha]
Kurukshetra was silent. The battle had come to an end and the war ground was strewn with bodies of royal and commoners alike. The Pandavas were not rejoicing their win. Rather they were devasted at the destruction that a single war had caused. Stunned and speechless, they scanned the ground for people in need of help.
“Duryodhanaaaaaaaaaaa….”, shrieked a voice from far far away, “Dhur… Dhuryodhanaaaa. My son, open your eyes. Speak… Speak to me my first born… Speak to me… A hundred did we bear, all fine and proud. Was it for such a foolish end. Dhuryodhana…. speak out.. SPEAK OUT…” Gandhari, was bent over the bloody mess of her son’s body, tears pouring down, slurring her speech. Her husband, the blind king Dritharashtra stood by, looking helpless.
The Pandavas along with Krishna hurried over to Gandhari and the King, to offer their respects, apologies and condolences. Sanjaya, the king’s escort, gently bent down to Gandhari, to inform the blindfolded woman of the arrival of the five and their protector. Gandhari stood up, all grief gone in a trice, replaced with fury. Red, boiling fury. The five retreated in fear.
Gandhari, however, totally ignored them and aided by Sanjaya, came up to Krishna.”You”, she shouted,”You, the young king of Dwaraka. You, who I worshipped everyday, as Vishnu himself and You, who I know to be an avatar of the supreme godhead. Are’nt you ashamed of your doings? Should’nt you have averted this war with your divine will and power? Is this what you do to your own creation? I have requested you, each and every day in the past troubled times to avert this disaster. Is this how you answer my prayers? Ask yor mother, Devaki, the pain of losing a child. She had seven of her children being killed at birth and now I have seen a hundred sons of mine being butchered to death” Gandhari, was shaking, her anger uncontrollable. And all the more she was shocked to hear that Krishna was laughing gently at her. Her fury vent itself out, “Do you smile after all this? What a nerve you have. Listen to this, oh mocking God. If my years of Vishnu Bhakthi have been true, and if my PathiBhakthi since my marriage has been unshaken and strong, then, may you die in 36 years from today. May Dwaraka be flooded and may every one of your Yadava kin perish by killing each other, just as you made the kins of Kuru kill one another. Since the Yadavas cannot be killed by any other race, they will die at each other’s hands. May the Yadavas die out…. may the Yadavas die out….”
Gandhari was close to tears, her anger all gone, and she fell down on her knees to the Lord’s feet. Krishna, lifted her up, his smile stuck onto his face and said “Maathey, that curse of yours will take effect, not only because of your true devotion towards me and your husband, but also due to the ever changing sands of time. In the mean time, lets attend to the tending of the dead and sending them away on their journey to the heavens.” And supporting Gandhari, Krishna walked past the startled and shocked pandavas to their encampment.
Days flew by after the coronation of Yudhishtra as the king of Hasthinapur. Krishna went back to Dwaraka, to rule over the beautiful island kingdom. Blessed by the presence of the Goddess of Wealth as Rukmini, the people enjoyed every luxury that life could give. Slowly the curse of Gandhari started taking form.
The Yadavas were in eternal bliss in Dwaraka. So much bliss, that they forgot good conduct, morals and the importance of discipline and humility. So once when some of the SapthaRishis came down to visit Krishna and Balarama, they went beyond the restraints of respect for the maha purushas.
“Let’s test the powers of these so called Thava sreshtas (best of the people in tapas)”, suggested Sambha, the son of Krishna, to his friends. Sambha dressed himself as a woman, and then placed a mace underneath his dress, and led by two other men approached the rishis, the very picture of an expecting mother. “Oh learned men”, one of the yadavas voiced.”My wife here is pregnant. Can you, by the divine powers vested in you, predict the gender of the child to be born?”
The rishis were furious. They saw through the whole hoax immediately. Kanva maharishi immedialty grabbed his kamandala and in the heat of fury sprinkled some water on the three yadavas. “May the very thing that he bears in his stomach be born to him. And that thing will lead to the extinction of the entire Yadava clan”, he cursed. The Yadavas, shocked though they were, were too arrogant to even apologise. They left the scene, laughing off the curse as the speech of one who had lost all his sanity.
Things were however very different the next morning. Sambha developed labour pains and soon delivered a mace from within him. The Yadavas were now struck with fear. They immediately rushed with the mace to Akroora and Ugrasena and in the presence of Krishna himself, they narrated the weird tide of events. Akroora imediately ordered,”Grind the mace to a fine powder and cast it into the seas.” The yadavas nodded and retreated. Akroora cast his gaze at Krishna, his eyes full of questions. Krishna simply smiled back. “The wheels of time are turning Uncle”, he said,”and Sambha has played his part perfectly.” He left without another word, leaving both of them bewildered. “What did he mean by that Akroora?”, asked the old king, Ugrasena.
“I can tell you that, father.” Ugrasena turned around to the source of voice. Rukmini stood by the doorway. Bedecked with jewels, the goddess shined bright.”Thirty six year ago, Krishna prayed to Shiva for a son like him. Does that ring any bell?”, she asked. Akroora was stumped. Ugrasena, however, said very slowly, his eyes bright, “A son like Shiva. A son like the god of destruction. Krishna wanted Sambha to aid in destruction…” And even more slowly, his voice down several levels, he uttered, “Gandhari’s curse. The time for her curse to act has arrived. Krishna himself made sure that her curse would be true. A reward for her devotion in him”, he ended, leaving Akroora agape and Rukmini nodding in agreement.
Outside the palace, the Yadavas had obeyed Akroora’s command to the dot. They had ground the mace finely. Everything was ground except a sharp triangular piece which appeared to be very hard indeed. And then they had thrown the fine powder and the lone piece into the sea. Happy that they had taken care of the matter so easily, they returned back to their general state of intoxication and bliss.
Time rolled by. The triangular piece of the mace was swallowed by a fish. The fish was caught by a hunter, who upon finding the piece in the fish’s entrails immediately used it to craft a fine poisonous arrow. The fine powder, on the other hand, washed back ashore and deposited itself by the beautiful coast of Dwaraka. A certain grass grew in lush abundance in the area where the powder was deposited. Everything was set for the final showdown.
One day, the Yadavas went on a picnic to the beach. They were in their usual high state and the liquor that they drank on the beautiful beach made them to lose their senses totally. In this total state of uncontrol, they started teasing one another, bringing up the ghory pasts and gruesome mistakes of each other. Satyaki and Krithavarma acted as the starting points for the doom of Dwaraka. Satyaki had fought on the Pandava side in the battle of Kurukshetra and Krithavarma, on the Kaurava side. They taunted one another, bringing back memories of the ghory war. Satyaki, wished to end it all, and drawing out his sword, jumped on Krithaverma and cut his head off. The friends of Krithavarma, furious with Satyaki, pounced on him and a great brawl followed. Pradyumna, the son of Krishna, innocent though he was, found himself in the thick of the fight and was killed.
Krishna knew that the time had come, and very discretely he plucked the grass that grew in abundance by the sea and placed them by the fighting Yadavas. The Yadavas, in their state of ignorance, threw the grass blades at one another.
The curse of Kanva Maharishi started acting and each blade of grass became a mace, smashing into the Yadavas, killing them instantly. It was a matter of moments before the Yadavas lay dead, killed by their own clan members and infront of their very King.
Having seen this total destruction unfold before his very eyes, Krishna then decided that it is time for him to shed his coils too. He entrusted the Yadava women to Arjuna (They were however taken away by hill bandits on their way back to Hastinapur. Arjuna, having become old, had no strength to fight the bandits) and along with Balarama left to the forest. The moment Krishna left Dwaraka, a huge wave splurged up from the oceans and swallowed the beautiful city into its deep depths, where it continues to lie till this very day.
Balarama, vexed with the battles of life, sat down in meditation and very soon the thousand headed serpent, AdiSesha, came out from his mouth and offering its salutations to Krishna, glided towards the sea (Balarama is said to be an incarnation of Adisesha). Seeing the death of his dear brother, Krishna became overwhelmed with grief and sat down besides Balarama, by some bushes.
By the amazing wills of fate, the hunter saw the foot of Krishna sticking out from the bushes and assuming it to be a deer shot it down with an arrow. The very arrow made from the lone surviving triangular piece from the mace that was delivered by Sambha. Krishna was killed by the poisoned arrow, and his soul soared back to Vaikunda, his mission on earth accomplished.
Thus died Shri Krishna, the poorna avatar of Vishnu, succumbing to the arrow of a mere hunter, to honor the curse of a steadfast devotee who had always prayed to him with a very pure heart. Gandhari’s curse had acted and achieved its purpose, just like the Lord himself had promised her.
It is believed that the hunter who was responsible for the death of Krishna was none other than the great Vaali in his last birth. Shri Narayana, in his previous avatar as the beloved of the Raghu clan, had killed Vaali from a hidden spot atop a tree. Vaali had committed no act against Shri Raama and hence Raama had no reason, whatsoever to kill him. This story beautifully brings out the very important fact that, even for the Ruler of the Universe, the laws of Karma remain the same.
Thanks Mouli, for letting me know!!