Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Krishna included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Kṛṣṇa

(ŚRĪ KṚṢṆA). Born in the Yādava dynasty as the son of Vasudeva and Devakī, Śrī Kṛṣṇa was the ninth of the ten incarnations of Mahāviṣṇu.


Descended from Viṣṇu thus:—Brahmā -AtriCandraBadhaPurūravasĀyusNahuṣa—-YayātiYaduSahasrajitŚatajitHehayaDharmaKuntiBhadrasenaDhanakaKṛtavīryaKārtavīryārjunaJayadhvajaTālajaṅghaVītihotraAnantaDurjayaYudhājitŚiniSatyakaSātyaki (Yuyudhāna)—JayaKuṇiAnamitraPṛśniCitrarathaViḍūrathaŚūra—Śinibhoja—HṛdīkaŚūrasena—Vasudeva—Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

Ten sons called Vasudeva, Devabhāga, Devaśravas, Ānaka, Sṛñjaya, Kākānīka, Śyāmaka, Vatsa, Kāvūka and Vasu were born to King Śūrasena by his wife Māriṣā. Of those ten sons Vasudeva married Devakī, the sister of Kaṃsa. He had also a second wife called Rohiṇī and she was the mother of Balabhadrarāma.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s former births.

Owing to a curse of Varuṇa, Kaśyapaprajāpati was born on earth as Vasudeva and his (Kaśyapa) wives Aditi and Surasā were born as Devakī and Rohiṇī. (See under Kaśyapa and Aditi). Like this Śrī Kṛṣṇa also had previous births. Once upon a time from the heart of Brahmā was born the Prajāpati called Dharma, who was very truthful and wedded to righteous living according to the injunctions of the Vedas. He wedded the ten daughters of Dakṣaprajāpati, and four sons called Hari, Kṛṣṇa Nara and Nārāyaṇa were born to him. Hari and Kṛṣṇa turned out to be great Yogins, and Nara and Nārāyaṇa ascetics. Naranārāyaṇas performed penance to please Brahmā for a thousand years at Badarikāśrama in the valley of the Himālayas. Celestial women, whom Indra had deputed to break their penance, approached them and requested them to take them (celestial women) as their wives. Ascetic Nārāyaṇa who got angry at the celestial women’s request was about to curse them when sage Nara intervened and pacified him. Then sage Nārāyaṇa told them thus:—"You must protect my Vrata (penance) in this life. In that case, in the next birth I shall satisfy your desire. In the 28th Dvāparayuga I will be incarnating on earth on behalf of the Devas. Then you also may be born as princesses. I shall incarnate as Kṛṣṇa in the Yadu dynasty and marry all of you. (Bhāgavata, 4th Skandha).

Accordingly sage Nārāyaṇa was born as Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the Yadu dynasty, and sage Nara was born as Arjuna to be his companion.

The curse of Bhṛgu the great sage also contributed to Mahāviṣṇu’s incarnating himself as Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Once in a war which lasted for 100 years between the Devas and the Asuras most of the latter were killed. Then Śukra, preceptor of the Asuras went to Mount Kailāsa to secure exceptional weapons, and the Asuras took refuge under Kāvyamātā, the mother of Śukra. Devendra sought Mahāviṣṇu’s aid, and he cut off Kāvyamātā’s head with his Cakra (discus). Bhṛgu was enraged at this killing of a woman. He cursed that Mahāviṣṇu should be born as man. Owing to various reasons like the above Mahāviṣṇu happened to be born as man in the Yādava dynasty, as the son of Vasudeva. (Devī Bhāgavata, 5th Skandha).

Vasudeva’s wedding.

To Śūrasena, the Yādava King of Mathurāpurī was born a son called Vasudeva, and Devakī was born as the grand-daughter of Devaka, the brother of Ugrasena, another Yādava King. Devakī was the sister of Kaṃsa. Devakī was given in marriage to Vasudeva with a dowry of twelve bhāras (a particular weight) of gold and a chariot. Kaṃsa acted as charioteer in the wedding procession during which a celestial voice addressed Kaṃsa as follows:—'Asyāḥ tvām aṣṭamagarbho hantā' (Her eighth son will kill you). As soon as he heard the celestial voice Kaṃsa stood up in the chariot ablaze with rage. He caught hold of Devakī by her hair and raised his sword to cut her throat. All the conciliatory words of Vasudeva failed to pacify Kaṃsa. Then Vasudeva promised to hand over to Kaṃsa all the children born to Devakī immediately after their birth. Accordingly Kaṃsa left them alone.

First-born son of Vasudeva.

The first-born child of Vasudeva was duly handed over to Kaṃsa. But, he returned the child to its parents as, according to the celestial voice the first-born child was not to be his enemy. Vasudeva and Devakī brought it up under the name Kīrtimān. On one of those days Nārada visited Kaṃsa and told him about his previous life, the object of Kṛṣṇa’s incarnation etc. Then it was that Kaṃsa realised how fatal to him was the existence of Vasudeva and Devakī, and he hurried up to them and killed the child by dashing its head against a rock. He also kept them chained in prison.

Kaṃsa’s excitement.

The information imparted by Nārada upset Kaṃsa much. He shut his father Ugrasena in prison and himself became King. He deputed Asuras like Pralamba, Cāṇūra, Tṛṇāvarta, Muṣṭika, Ariṣṭa, Keśī, Dhenuka, Agha, Vivida and Pūtanā to harass the Yādavas, the Andhakas and the Vṛṣṇis. After the death of Kīrtimān, Devakī, in the prison, delivered five sons. (See under Kaṃsa. Para 2 for the previous history of the first six sons of Devakī). Kaṃsa killed all the five children also as soon as they were born.

Birth of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

The Asuras killed in the old Devāsura war were later born as cruel and evil Kings on earth. The burden of such Kings having become too much for her, goddess Earth, in the guise of a cow complained about it to Brahmā who took her to Śiva who too could not find a solution to the problem posed by Bhūmidevī. So, all of them accompanied by the Devas approached Mahāviṣṇu and prayed for the redress of their grievance. Mahāviṣṇu sent them back comforted by the assurance that he would be born as the son of Vasudeva and Devakī to solve the problem. He also arranged the Devas to be born as Gopas and the Apsarā women as Gopikās on earth for his assistance.

Devakī conceived for the 7th time, and it was an aspect of Ananta. Mahāviṣṇu instructed Māyādevī thus: "You go to the earth and transfer the child in Devakī’s womb to that of Rohiṇī, the second wife of Vasudeva and after that, at the very time of my birth you should be born as daughter of Yaśodā, wife of Nandagopa. You would be worshipped by the world in various names like Ambikā, Nārāyaṇī, Caṇḍikā, Durgā, Bhadrakālī etc. The child transferred by you to the womb of Rohiṇī will become known as Saṅkarṣaṇa, Balabhadra and Rāma.

Accordingly Māyādevī transferred the child in Devakī’s womb to that of Rohiṇī, and it was given out that the seventh child of Devakī was aborted in the womb. Devakī conceived for the eighth time, and on Aṣṭamī day in the month of Siṃha (Leo, August-September) when the Brāhma stars were collected on the same day was Śrī Kṛṣṇa born. Mahāviṣṇu incarnated himself as Kṛṣṇa with the conch, the discus, the club and the lotus flower in his four hands. Vasudeva saluted the marvellous child, and the chain that bound himself and Devakī broke asunder, and the new-born child spoke thus to Vasudeva:—"In Svāyambhuva Manvantara the Prajāpati called Sutapas with his wife Pṛśni meditated upon me for 12,000 years, and when I appeared to them and asked them to choose any boon they prayed for my being born as their son. In the next life Sutapas was born as Kaśyapa and Pṛśni as Aditi, and I incarnated in the form of Vāmana (Dwarf) as their son. Afterwards Kaśyapa and Aditi took various births, and I too took various births as their son. Now also, Kaśyapa and Aditi, are born as Vasudeva and Devakī. Just at this time a daughter has been born to Nandagopa and Yaśodā at Gokula. You shall take me over there and replace me with the child born at Gokula." After having told Vasudeva the above facts Kṛṣṇa assumed the form of an ordinary child and lay by the side of its mother. At mid-night when the guards at the prison house were deep in sleep the doors of the prison opened by themselves. Vasudeva with the child Kṛṣṇa, started for Gokula and on his way the river Yamunā changed its course for him to proceed. The doors of Yaśodā’s house were open. Owing to the divine prowess of Māyādevī, the child of Yaśodā, everybody in the house went into deep sleep. Vasudeva placed Kṛṣṇa by the side of Yśodaā and returned home with her child. As soon as he had thus returned the prison-guards woke up and reported to Kaṃsa about the delivery of a child by Devakī. Kaṃsa rushed to the house, caught hold of the child and was about to dash it against the rock when lo! the child slipped free of his hands and rose in the sky wherefrom it spoke as follows:—

Oh! unrighteous and cruel Kaṃsa! thy prowess is not to be exhibited against women. Thy killer is born on earth, and search for him everywhere. (Śiva Purāṇa, Chapter 1).

Colour of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Balabhadrarāma.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa was dark in colour and Balabhadra white. There is a story in the Mahābhārata to explain this difference in their colour. The Devas informed Mahāviṣṇu of their decision to incarnate themselves on earth for the annihilation of the evil and cruel people. Pleased at their decision Viṣṇu plucked from his head a black hair and also a white hair and threw them on the ground, and he said that the black hair would enter Devakī and be born as Kṛṣṇa while the white one would enter Rohiṇī and be born as Balabhadra. Accordingly Kṛṣṇa became of the colour of the cloud (black) and Balabhadra white in colour. (Ādi Parva, Chapter 199, Verse 31).

The incidents during the childhood of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

(1) Pūtanāmokṣa (Salvation to Pūtanā). Pūtanā, a Rākṣasī and one of the assassins deputed by Kaṃsa to search out and kill Kṛṣṇa, went to Kṛṣṇa’s house disguised as a Gopa woman and fed him on her breasts. But the child extracted her life also with her breastmilk, and she assumed her original form and fell down dead.

Śakaṭāsura killed.

Kaṃsa next deputed the Asura called Śakaṭa to kill Kṛṣṇa. He approached the sleeping Kṛṣṇa in the form of a cart and raised great sound. Kṛṣṇa jumped awake and kicked the cart into hundreds of pieces. (See under Śakaṭa).

Killed Tṛṇāvartāsura.

Tṛṇāvarta, son of Tārakāsura, at the behest of Kaṃsa went to Ambāḍi in an invisible (formless) manner. Yaśodā was then breast-feeding child Kṛṣṇa, and the child appeared to gradually increase in weight. Yaśodā tried to lay the child on the bed, but had to lay him on the ground as it was too heavy for her to lift up to the bed. At once, Tṛṇāvarta, in the form of a whirl-wind, rose up to the sky carrying Kṛṣṇa along with him. Ambāḍi (Gokula) was chokingly filled with clouds of dust; the Gopālas cried out. But, Śrī Kṛṣṇa clasped round the Asura’s neck and rested, and on account of the child’s weight he could not rise any more. The child hardened its hands around the Asura’s throat and he got killed and fell down with a thud on a rock. Yaśodā hurriedly took the child in her hands and covered it with kisses. (See under Tṛṇāvarta).


During this period the famous sage Garga visited Kṛṣṇa at Ambāḍi, and he informed Vasudeva and Devakī of the actual facts relating to Kṛṣṇa. The son of Rohiṇī was brought there, and the sage named him Rāma, and Yaśodā’s child Kṛṣṇa, and blessed them. Thenceforth Rāma and Kṛṣṇa grew up in Ambāḍi as the apple of the people’s eyes. (See under Garga).

All the worlds in Kṛṣṇa’s mouth.

The Gopikās once saw Kṛṣṇa eating mud and informed Yaśodā of it, and she, in great anger, opened the child’s mouth to look for the sand when she saw there all the worlds including herself and she closed her eyes in great alarm. (Bhāgavata 10th Skandha).

Kṛṣṇa drags Ulūkhala. (Mortar).

Yaśodā was once breast-feeding Kṛṣṇa when she noticed milk flowing out of the boiling pan, and she put the child on the floor and went to attend to the boiling milk. Angry at this Kṛṣṇa broke the milk-pot by throwing a stone at it. Yaśodā then tried to bind the child to the mortar with a cord. But, any number of cords could not reach round the child’s waist. At this trouble of his mother Kṛṣṇa decided to oblige her and then the first cord itself sufficed to bind him round the mortar. But, Kṛṣṇa then began running, dragging the mortar behind him. Dragging the Ulūkhala behind him he passed through a narrow gap between two trees. The trees were shaken and at once the trees rose up in the sky as two Devas. The two trees were actually Nalakūbara and Maṇigrīva, the sons of Vaiśravaṇa, both of whom had been cursed into the form of trees by Nārada. (See under Nalakūbara).

Vatsāsura killed.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Balabhadrarāma were one day, engaged in sports along with the Gopālas on the banks of river Kālindī. At that time an Asura sent by Kaṃsa got into the ranks of the cows disguised as a cow. Śrī Kṛṣṇa understood it; Balabhadra also pointed out the new 'cow' to him. Then Kṛṣṇa leisurely went towards the herd of cattle, lifted the new 'cow' by its legs and tail and dashed it against a peepal tree. The peepal tree and the one next to it were broken, and thus ended the life of Vatsāsura.

Baka killed

On another occasion Kaṃsa deputed Bakāsura, brother of Pūtanā to kill Kṛṣṇa. He assumed the form of a bird, and lay there on the road with his fierce mouth wide open. The Gopālas were terrorstricken. But, Kṛṣṇa entered the cave-like mouth of the bird leaving his companions behind. The Asura closed his mouth, and the Gopālas cried out in fear and agony. But, Śrī Kṛṣṇa stirred round and round within Baka’s stomach and he was forced to vomit Kṛṣṇa out. Along with Kṛṣṇa he vomited blood and died. (See under Baka).

Killed Aghāsura.

Aghāsura, brother of Baka and Pūtanā, deputed by Kaṃsa to kill Kṛṣṇa assumed the form of a serpent and with its mouth opened like a cave lay on the road used by the Gopālas. The stench that emanated from its mouth vitiated the atmosphere. The Gopālas including Kṛṣṇa and Balabhadra entered the serpent’s mouth, and immediately its entire body shook and it vomited blood. Life escaped through its broken stomach. The Gopālas came out of it and fell down unconscious. But, at the very sight of Kṛṣṇa they regained consciousness. (See under Agha).

Brahmā placed in ridiculous situation.

On another occasion Brahmā saw Mahāvisṇu, in the assumed form of man, playing on the banks of the Kālindī along with Balabhadra and his companions. To test whether God possessed powers in the assumed form of man also Brahmā carried away the cattle of the Gopālas. The Gopālas were naturally upset at the disappearance of their cows. After consoling them Kṛṣṇa searched for the cattle on the heights of mount Govardhana and in the forest. But, the cattle were to be found nowhere, and when Kṛṣṇa returned to the banks of the Kālindī the Gopālas too had disappeared. Divining the reason for the whole affair by his divine powers, Kṛṣṇa created both the Gopālas and the cows with his divine powers.

One year passed by thus, and one day Kṛṣṇa and his companions with their cattle went to the top of Govardhana. Brahmā was alarmed to find Kṛṣṇa with the artificially created Gopālas and the cattle, and while he was looking at them the colour of all of them began changing and within minutes they put on the form of Viṣṇu. Moreover, he saw another Brahmā and Brahmaloka. Upset and alarmed by the whole phenomenon he sang the praises of Mahāviṣṇu at which his illusion was lifted and he saw the actual Kṛṣṇa, the Gopālas and the cattle.

Dhenukāsura killed.

There lived in the Kadalī forest on the banks of the Kālindī an Asura called Dhenuka with his followers. The forest was thick with palm trees.

Out of fear of the Asura nobody dared to travel in the forest. Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Balabhadra having heard the story about Dhenuka one day went to the forest with their companions. Balabhadra shook down a lot of the palm fruits, the Gopālas loudly cheered him. The Asura rushed forth challenging them when Kṛṣṇa and Balabhadra thrashed him to death.

Suppressed Kāliya.

There lived in Kālindī a fierce serpent called Kāliya with his wife and relations. The trees on the banks of the river were withered and had dried up on account of the poisonous breath emitted by the serpent. One day the Gopālas and their cattle drank water in the Kālindī and fell down dead. Then Kṛṣṇa climbed a tree on the banks of the river and jumped into its waters and Kāliya rushed forward to him with his hoods spread out. Kṛṣṇa stepped on the hoods and danced thereon. Kāliya vomited blood, got exhausted and prayed to Kṛṣṇa for mercy. At the instance of Kṛṣṇa the serpent with its family emigrated to the Ramaṇaka island. (See under Kāliya).

Kṛṣṇa swallows fire.

When Kṛṣṇa came out of the waters after having suppressed Kāliya and taking with him the gem presented by Kāliya, the Gopālas covered Kṛṣṇa with embraces. People of Ambāḍi came to the banks of the Kālindī looking out for the children. As the sun had set by now the Yādavas spent the night there, when a wild fire enveloped them, and they cried out to Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa swallowed the entire fire. (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Killed Pralamba.

While the Gopālas were playing once under the shade of a giant peepal tree called Bhāṇḍīraka an Asura known as Pralamba joined their games disguised as a Gopāla. Kṛṣṇa and Balabhadra understood the trick. They made all the others take the following pledge, i.e. that all of them would beat one another, and the vanquished should carry about the victor on his head. The beating began, and the Gopa called Śrīdāman defeated Kṛṣṇa. Vṛṣabha defeated Bhadrasena and Balabhadra defeated Pralamba. According to the pledge Śrī Kṛṣṇa carried on his shoulders Śrīdāman, Bhadrasena carried Vṛṣabha and Pralamba carried Balabhadra. But, Pralamba rose up to the skies with Balabhadra, who broke the former’s head, and Pralamba fell down dead in his actual form as an Asura.

Again in wild fire.

The Gopālas were once again caught in wild fire at the Muñja forest on the banks of the Kālindī. They cried out in great fear when Kṛṣṇa went to them and asked them to remain standing with eyes closed. They obeyed him, and he swallowed the fire as though it were nectar. The Gopālas were astonished to find themselves safe when they opened their eyes. (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Blessed the wives of Brahmins.

Kṛṣṇa and his companions one day travelled a long way along the banks of the Kālindī. They felt very hungry and Kṛṣṇa advised them to request for food at brahmin houses. They begged for food the wives of brahmins, and the wives happy at Kṛṣṇa’s presence there, came with food. Kṛṣṇa blessed them. (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Theft of clothes.

Kṛṣṇa once picked up the clothes of the Gopa women who were bathing in the Kālindī and climbed to the top of a tree with the clothes and played on his flute. The Gopa women came out of the river and saluted Kṛṣṇa with folded hands. He then returned the clothes to them. (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Mount Govardhana used as Umbrella.

Indra is the rain-God. The people of Ambāḍi used to perform yajña every year in favour of Indra for rain-fall. Kṛṣṇa opposed the custom saying that Mount Govardhana was the house-hold deity of the people of Ambāḍi and it was enough for them to worship the mountain. The people of Ambāḍi, therefore, offered the Yajña they had arranged that year for Indra to Govardhana. Angered at this Indra let loose heavy rains on Ambāḍi. Kṛṣṇa uprooted and held Mount Govardhana like an umbrella lest the people should suffer from the heavy rains, and they took shelter under it. The rain did not stop even after seven days. Yet, due to Kṛṣṇa’s kindness the people did not suffer any hardships. Beaten at his own game, Indra sang the praises of Kṛṣṇa. Devasurabhi (cow of the Devas) came and saluted Kṛṣṇa and anointed him, as the Indra of the Gopālas. The Devas addressed him 'Govinda' meaning, he who protects the cattle. (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Nandagopa abducted by Varuṇa.

Once after having observed Ekādaśīvrata Nanda bathed in the river Kālindī. At the instance of Varuṇa a Deva abducted and took him to the abode of Varuṇa. People of Ambāḍi were distressed at the disappearance of Nandagopa. Kṛṣṇa and Balabhadra dived into the Kālindī and rose up at Varuṇālaya. Varuṇa told them that he had abducted Nandagopa so that he might see Viṣṇu in person, and requested to be pardoned. Meanwhile the people of Ambāḍi, who came to Kālindī saw all the worlds reflected in it. Kṛṣṇa and Rāma returned to Ambāḍi with their father, Nandagopa. (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).


At the advent of the spring the melody of Kṛṣṇa’s flute rendered the Gopa women love-lorn. He went to Vṛndāvana with his flute, and all the Gopa women, both married and unmarried followed him. Kṛṣṇa made a futile attempt to send them back to their houses. But, the love-sick Gopa women did not. Suddenly Kṛṣṇa disappeared from among them, and the Gopa women mad with love roamed about Vṛndāvana with Rādhā calling "O Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa!" Suddenly Kṛṣṇa appeared before them. He entered the waters of the Kālindī with them and satisfied them. Śrī Kṛṣṇa thus explained Bhaktiyoga to the world. (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Python swallowed Nandagopa.

One day the Gopas performed Maheśvara Pūjā (worship) in Devī forest, and they spent the night without going to sleep on the banks of the Kālindī. A python from somewhere began swallowing Nandagopa. Though the Gopas tried their best the snake did not loosen its grip on Nandagopa. Then Kṛṣṇa gave it a kick and the snake transformed itself into a Deva called Sudarśana. He was a Vidyādhara, who had been converted into a python by the curse of sage Aṅgiras. (See under Sudarśana).

Killed Ariṣṭāsura. (Vṛṣāsura).

During this period Ariṣṭāsura, a follower of Kaṃsa, came to Ambāḍi disguised as an ox, and people got terror-stricken at the sight of the fierce ox. Kṛṣṇa engaged himself in a duel with the ox (Ariṣṭa) and killed it. (See under Ariṣṭa).

Killed Keśī.

Kaṃsa then sent an Asura called Keśī to Ambāḍi. He approached Kṛṣṇa in the guise of a horse into whose mouth the latter thrust his hand, which began growing in size with the result that the Asura vomited blood and expired; Kṛṣṇa got the name Keśava as he killed Keśī. (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Killed Vyomāsura.

Vyomāsura, son of Mayāsura was the last of the Asuras deputed by Kaṃsa to kill Kṛṣṇa. He joined the company of the Gopas disguised as a goat. Kṛṣṇa dragged him into a cave and killed him there. (Bhāgavata 10th Skandha).

Śrī Kṛṣṇa quits Ambāḍi.

When all the attempts of Kaṃsa to do away with Kṛṣṇa failed he resorted to another trick. Kaṃsa invited Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Balabhadra, feigning great affection, to witness the dhanur yajña (worshipping the bow) being held at Mathurāpurī, the capital of the country. The invitation was sent through Akrūra, a great devotee of Kṛṣṇa. He went to Ambāḍi with a chariot and delivered to Kṛṣṇa and Balabhadra Kaṃsa’s invitation to them for the fourteen days'dhanur yajña. The Gopas and Gopīs shed tears at the prospect of Kṛṣṇa leaving Ambāḍi. But, Kṛṣṇa and Balabhadra took leave of them and started for Mathurāpurī in the chariot brought by Akrūra. On their way to Mathurā they bathed in the Kālindī and when they dived in its waters Akrūra saw the Viśvarūpa (Cosmic form of Kṛṣṇa). After the bath they continued their journey when Akrūra informed Kṛṣṇa in secret, about all the evil tactics of Kaṃsa and requested him to kill the latter. (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Rāma and Kṛṣṇa in Mathurāpurī.

Rajakavadha (the washerman is slain).

Rāma and Kṛṣṇa duly reached Mathurāpurī, and in the evening they went out for a stroll in the city to view its beauties when they saw a washerman carrying the washed clothes of Kaṃsa. They asked him for some of the clothes but the washerman not only refused them the clothes but also ridiculed them calling them cattle-breeders. Śrī Kṛṣṇa thrashed the washerman on the spot and distributed the clothes among the children who had gathered there, himself wearing a yellow cloth from the stock and giving a blue one to Balabhadra.

Kañcukakāra (tailor) given salvation.

Next, they saw a tailor who used to stitch shirts, turbans etc. for Kaṃsa. He presented costly shirts and turbans to Rāma and Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa gave him salvation and distributed the clothes to the Gopas with him.

Sudāman presents garlands.

Then Kṛṣṇa and Rāma entered the house of Sudāman who gave them each a garland. Kṛṣṇa blessed him.

Straightened the hunch-back Trivakrā.

Rāma and Kṛṣṇa continued their walk when they saw a female hunch-back coming opposite to them with a beautiful vessel filled with aṅgarāga (fragrant things like sandalwood, musk etc. reduced into a paste to be smeared on the body). She told them that she was the maid-inattendance of Kaṃsa; her name was Trivakrā and the aṅgarāga in the vessel was for the use of Kaṃsa. She felt pure love for Kṛṣṇa and gave him the aṅgarāga along with the vessel. Rāma and Kṛṣṇa smeared their bodies with it. Kṛṣṇa stepped on her feet and with his right hand raised her chin upwards and she was cured of her hunch. Her love for Kṛṣṇa knew no bounds and she begged him to spend the night in her house. Kṛṣṇa promised to oblige her on another occasion and continued the walk.

Kṛṣṇa broke the bow.

Rāma and Kṛṣṇa continued their walk into the Yajña hall of Kaṃsa. A big bow was seen there, and Kṛṣṇa broke it with his left hand before the guards could approach him. With the broken pieces of the bow he killed the soldiers sent by Kaṃsa to take him and Rāma into custody. They again continued their walk. The sun set, and though they lay down to sleep thoughts about the underhand dealings of Kaṃsa kept them sleepless.

Kṛṣṇa killed the fierce elephant.

That night Kṛṣṇa dreamt many an inauspicious dream. The next morning Kaṃsa set up an arena for pugilistic combats. Yādava chiefs like Nandagopa, many other important persons in Mathurā and Kaṃsa took their seats on the dais. Famous pugilists like Cāṇūra, Muṣṭika, Kūṭa, Śala and Kosala also entered the scene. Kaṃsa had stationed a fierce elephant called Kuvalayāpīḍa on the way Rāma and Kṛṣṇa had to take to enter the arena for pugilistic competition. The mahout prompted the elephant to catch hold of Kṛṣṇa, and in the fight that ensued with the animal Kṛṣṇa killed it and gave one tusk of it to Rāma. Kṛṣṇa beat the mahout also to death with the tusk. After this they entered the scene.

Kaṃsa killed.

The pugilistic competition started. Cāṇūra fought against Kṛṣṇa and Muṣṭika against Rāma and both Cāṇūra and Muṣṭika were killed. Rāma and Kṛṣṇa killed three other famous pugilists too, who confronted them following the death of Cāṇūra and Muṣṭika. Thereupon the remaining pugilists ran away into the forest. Kaṃsa, burning with anger, jumped up from his seat roaring, "Annihilate the Gopālas, kill Nandgopa, drown Ugrasena, the friend of our enemies, in the Kālindī" etc. Responding to Kaṃsa’s war-cry Śrī Kṛṣṇa jumped into the former’s sofa and pushed him down. Kṛṣṇa jumped on to the back of Kaṃsa and killed him. Balabhadra killed with his iron club the eight brothers of Kaṃsa who rushed against Kṛṣṇa. After consoling the women, who lamented over the death of Kaṃsa and others Śrī Kṛṣṇa got their dead bodies duly cremated. Rāma and Kṛṣṇa released Vasudeva and Devakī and Ugrasena immediately from prison. Ugrasena was crowned King of Mathurā.

Farewell to the people of Ambāḍi.

Rāma and Kṛṣṇa saluted Nandagopa and Yaśodā, and entrusted to them their clothes and bows for safe custody. Then saying that they would return after strengthening the Yadu dynasty, Rāma and Kṛṣṇa sent their parents and the other Gopas home. (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Education of Rāma and Kṛṣṇa.

(1) After bidding adieu to the people of Ambāḍi, Vasudeva, on the advice of sage Garga sent Rāma and Kṛṣṇa for their studies to the Āśrama of the great sage Sāndīpani. During their education at the Āśrama Kṛṣṇa and Kucela became intimate friends. One day, at the instance of the wife of their preceptor, Kṛṣṇa and Kucela went into the forest to gather firewood. In the heavy rain and storm that followed they lost their track and wandered about in the forest. The next day the preceptor brought them back from the forest. Kṛṣṇa learned the sixty-four arts and dhanurveda (science of archery) at the feet of Sāndīpani. (Bhārata, Southern Text, Page 802; Sabhā Parva, Chapter 38).

Gurudakṣiṇā (Preceptor’s fees).

When Rāma and Kṛṣṇa completed their studies they asked the preceptor as to what he wanted by way of tuition fee, and the guru wanted to get back his son, who was, years ago, drowned in Prabhāsa tīrtha. Accordingly Rāma and Kṛṣṇa went in their chariot to Varuṇa at the sea coast. Varuṇa told them that it was the Asura called Pañcajana, who lived in the sea in the form of a conch, who had killed their preceptor’s son. Śrī Kṛṣṇa entered the sea and killed the Asura. But, the child was not to be seen inside the conch. Blowing this conch, which in later years became famous as Pāñcajanya, Rāma and Kṛṣṇa went to Yama’s abode, who on being told about the object of their visit returned the child to Rāma and Kṛṣṇa. They presented the child to their preceptor. He blessed them and they returned to Mathurāpurī.

Upto Kṛṣṇa’s return to Dvārakā.

Message through Uddhava.

Rāma and Kṛṣṇa who returned to Mathurāpurī after their studies at Sāndīpani’s Āśrama thought about the people of Ambāḍi. It was a long time since they had heard about them. So Kṛṣṇa sent a massage to Ambāḍi by his minister Uddhava. After duly delivering the message Uddhava stayed at Ambāḍi four or five months after which he returned to Mathurā with the presents given to Kṛṣṇa by Nandagopa, Yaśodā and the other Gopas. (2) Visited Trivakrā. Kṛṣṇa had promised to visit the house of Trivakrā at the time he cured her of her hunch, and she had been for long awaiting Kṛṣṇa. But only now he got the opportunity to fulfil his promise. He accepted her hospitality at her house and thus ended her grief.

Interested himself in the Pāṇḍavas.

By this time Pāṇḍu had died. The Pāṇḍavas and Kuntī, sister of Kṛṣṇa’s father were living at Hastināpura along with the Kauravas. They were victims to all sorts of miseries. Hearing about the sad plight of the Pāṇḍavas Kṛṣṇa deputed Akrūra to Hastināpura to enquire about them. Kuntīdevī, with tears in her eyes, told Akrūra about the injustice being done against the Pāṇḍavas by the Kauravas and the continuous attempts being made to kill Bhīma. Akrūra visited important persons like Vidura, Dhṛtarāṣṭra etc. Akrūra exhorted Dhṛtarāṣṭra, who had succeeded Pāṇḍu as King, to mete out equal justice to Kauravas as well as to the Pāṇḍavas. Akrūra returned to Mathurā and gave a report to Kṛṣṇa about his visit to the Pāṇḍavas.

The Jarāsandha war.

Asti and Prāpti, wives of Kaṃsa complained about the killing of their husband by Kṛṣṇa to their father Jarāsandha, King of Magadha. Jarāsandha, aided by such famous Kings as Sālva, Kaliṅga, Cedirāja, Dantavaktra and Śiśupāla besieged Mathurāpurī with a big army. Yādava leaders like Kṛṣṇa, Balabhadra, Uddhava, Akrūra and Kṛtavarman met the enemies in battle in which many kings got killed. Balabhadra met Jarāsandha in duel, but let him off on the request of Kṛṣṇa. But, Jarāsandha, supported by Bāṇāsura and others besieged Mathurā again and again. When Balabhadra attempted to kill Jarāsandha, a celestial voice declared that it was not possible for the former to kill Jarāsandha, and the war, therefore, ended for the time being.

Kṛṣṇa and Balabhadra meet Paraśurāma.

The continuous war with Jarāsandha reduced the financial resources of the Yādavas and to replenish their treasury Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Balabhadra started for mount Gomantaka the repository of gems and on their way they saw Paraśurāma engaged in penance under a peepal tree. Paraśurāma told them that there was a kingdom at the foot of the Gomantaka called Karavīra ruled by King Sṛgālavāsudeva and advised them to kill him and collect enough money and gems. Kṛṣṇa and Balabhadra did so and reached Pravarṣaṇagiri with money and gems so collected. There Garuḍa brought back to Kṛṣṇa his crown which had been, sometime back, stolen away by Bāṇāsura. Kṛṣṇa and Rāma returned to Mathurāpurī. Since Sṛgālavāsudeva had been killed by Kṛṣṇa and Rāma, Jarāsandha attacked Mathurāpurī again, for the eighteenth time. Though during all the wars Jarāsandha was defeated, by that time the Yādava power had been weakened much and so Kṛṣṇa ultimately decided to leave Mathurā and found another kingdom somewhere else. Kṛṣṇa had two reasons to come to this decision. Firstly, Jarāsandha was the father-in-law of his uncle Kaṃsa. Next, it was Jarāsandha’s object to conquer Mathurāpurī for Kaṃsa’s sons. Taking into consideration the above two objects of Jarāsandha, Kṛṣṇa and Rāma voluntarily quitted Mathurā with the Yādavas and went and lived in the city built for them by Viśvakarman on an island called Dvārakā in the western sea. (See under Kuśasthalī). (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Kṛṣṇa killed Kālayavana.

King Kālayavana wanted to conquer Mathurāpurī for which purpose he performed penance and secured from Śiva the boon that none of the Yādavas would be able to kill him. Kṛṣṇa had shifted to Dvārakā, somewhat dejected by the thought that Kālayavana could not be killed because of the protection accorded by Śiva’s boon.

Another thing also happened at this juncture. King Mucukunda, son of Māndhātā had on the request of Indra gone to Devaloka and defeated the Asuras in war. Indra asked him to choose his reward for this service and Mucukunda wanted to be shown a place for him to sleep as he had not slept for a long time. Indra, accordingly showed him a cave on earth and told him that he who disturbed him in sleep would be reduced to ashes by his very look. Mucukunda went to sleep in that cave.

Kālayavana approached Kṛṣṇa to kill him and the latter, pretending to be in fear of Kālayavana, ran before him. Kālayavana followed Kṛṣṇa, who entered the cave where Mucukunda was sleeping and he followed Kṛṣṇa into the cave also. Kālayavana, mistaking Mucukunda for Kṛṣṇa, kicked him violently whereupon he jumped up from sleep and looked at Kālayavana, who was reduced to ashes. Then Kṛṣṇa appeared before Mucukunda. who praised the former. On the advice of Kṛṣṇa he performed penance at Badarikāśrama and attained salvation. (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Śrī Kṛṣṇa escaped from fire.

Balabhadra and Kṛṣṇa started for Dvārakā carrying all the riches of Kālayavana. They met Jarāsandha on their way and took to their heels. Jarāsandha followed them to the heights of Mount Pravarṣaṇa where they disappeared. Jarāsandha set fire to the four sides of the mountain when Rāma and Kṛṣṇa escaped secretly from the fire to Dvārakā. Jarāsandha returned to Magadha believing that both his antagonists were burned to death. (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Wedding of Rāma and Kṛṣṇa.


Balabhadra married Revatī, daughter of King Ānarta of Kuśasthalī, former name of Dvārakā.


King Bhīṣmaka of Vidarbha had five sons the eldest of whom was Rukmī. His sixth child was a daughter and she was named Rukmiṇī. Stories about Kṛṣṇa kindled in Rukmiṇī love for him. Rukmī, who hated Kṛṣṇa, wanted to give his sister in marriage to Śiśupāla. Rukmiṇī sent through a brahmin a message about the affair to Dvārakā. On the day of Rukmiṇī’s Svayaṃvara Rāma and Kṛṣṇa also went to Kuṇḍinapurī, capital of Vidarbha. and Kṛṣṇa. in the presence of all Kings, carried Rukmiṇī away in his chariot. The Kings who, under the leadership of Rukmī, attacked Kṛṣṇa were routed. A son called Pradyumna was born to Kṛṣṇa by Rukmiṇī. (See under Pradyumna).


Prasena, brother of the Yādava King Satrājit, went ahunting wearing on him the gem called Syamantaka presented to the latter by the Sungod. Jāmbavān saw a lion carrying off the gem after killing Prasena. He killed the lion, recovered the gem from it and gave it to his children to play with. A rumour was spread that it was Kṛṣṇa who had killed and stolen the gem. Kṛṣṇa searched for the gem in the forest and found it out in the cave of Jāmbavān. In the duel that ensued between Jāmbavān and Kṛṣṇa the former was defeated. He recognised Kṛṣṇa to be the Lord, and presented Syamantaka and also his daughter Jāmbavatī to Kṛṣṇa and Jāmbavatī thus became Kṛṣṇa’s wife. (See under Syamantaka).

Śrī Kṛṣṇa-Satyabhāmā.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa returned Syamantaka to Satrājit and he, in return, gave his daughter Satyabhāmā in marriage to Kṛṣṇa. Though Syamantaka was given to Kṛṣṇa by way of dowry he did not accept it. (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Śrī Kṛṣṇa-Kālindī.

The happy news that the Pāṇḍavas had escaped from the lac palace and were living at Khāṇḍavaprastha took some time to reach Kṛṣṇa, who had been pained to know that they were burned to death in the palace. As soon as Kṛṣṇa knew that the Pāṇḍavas were safe at Khāṇḍavaprastha he went to them along with Yādava chiefs like Sātyaki and others. It was then that the fire-god Vahni, requested Arjuna for the Khāṇḍava forest for his food and Arjuna consented to it. It was Kṛṣṇa who drove Arjuna’s chariot in his fight with Indra at the burning of the forest by Agnideva. (See under Khāṇḍavadāha). Arjuna saved Maya from the Khāṇḍava fire and Maya, in return for the kindness, built a palace for the Pāṇḍavas at Indraprastha. Kṛṣṇa also lived there for a few days. One day while Kṛṣṇa was strolling on the banks of the Kālindī in the company of Arjuna they saw a woman, who told them that her name was Kālindī and that she would marry none but Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa then took her as his wife. (See under Kālindī). After staying at Indraprastha for three or four months Kṛṣṇa returned to Dvārakā with Kālindī. (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Śrī Kṛṣṇa-Mitravindā.

The King of Avantī had married Rājādhidevī, sister of Kṛṣṇa’s father and they had two sons called Vinda and Anuvinda and a daughter Mitravindā, who had fixed in her mind Kṛṣṇa as her husband. Kṛṣṇa, who was present at her Svayaṃvara carried her off on his chariot to Dvārakā.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa-Satyā.

King Nagnajit of Kosala, father of Satyā, had seven oxen like elephants in strength. The King proclaimed that his daughter would be married to the person who would tie down the oxen. Various Kings attempted the task but failed. Ultimately Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa went to Kosala and Kṛṣṇa assumed seven forms and tied down the oxen with cords. The seven oxen at once fell down. Kṛṣṇa took Satyā for his wife.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa-Kaikeyī (Bhadrā).

Kṛṣṇa married Kaikeyī, the daughter of Śrutakīrti, sister of Kṛṣṇa’s father.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa-Lakṣmaṇā.

Lakṣmaṇā, daughter of King of Madra chose Kṛṣṇa at her Svayaṃvara and she became Kṛṣṇa’s wife.

Kṛṣṇa-16000 women.

Brahmā had given the boon to the 16000 daughters of Narakāsura in their previous birth that Viṣṇu would marry them in their next birth. While even the Devas were suffering on account of Narakāsura, Śrī Kṛṣṇa along with Satyabhāmā mounted Garuḍa, went to Prāgjyotiṣa, the kingdom of Narakāsura, defeated him in fight and released his 16000 daughters from captivity. He returned with them to Dvārakā, assumed the guise of 16000 men and married those 16000 girls. He built a palace for each of his 16000 wives. (For details see under Narakāsura).


16008 wives. The eight women, i.e. Rukmiṇī, Jāmbavatī, Satyabhāmā, Kālindī, Mitravindā, Satyā, Kaikeyī (Bhadrā) Lakṣmaṇā and the 16000 daughters of Narakāsura constituted Kṛṣṇa’s harem. (The 16000 daughters of Narakāsura are not mentioned by name in the Purāṇas). (See under Sudattā and Ketumān IV.)

Gave Salvation to Ghaṇṭākarṇas.

Ghaṇṭa and Karṇa were two demon brothers. Kṛṣṇa met them at Badarikāśrama where he had gone after his marriage with Rukmiṇī, to perform penance to Śiva for a child. Kṛṣṇa offered salvation to the two demon brothers, Ghaṇṭa and Karṇa.

Fight between Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna.

(See under Gālava).

Killed Murāsura.

(See under Mura).

Killed Narakāsura.

(See under Naraka).

Plucked away Pārijāta.

During the period when Narakāsura was having his own ways on the earth and when he took away by force Indra’s royal umbrella and the ear-rings of Aditi, the Devamātā, Indra sought Kṛṣṇa’s help to suppress the Asura. Kṛṣṇa along with Satyabhāmā, mounted Garuḍa, went and killed the Asura and restored the royal umbrella to Indra and the ear-rings to Aditi. On their way back home Kṛṣṇa, as desired by Satyabhāmā, plucked by its roots the Pārijāta from Devaloka at which Indra fought Kṛṣṇa, but got defeated. The Pārijāta was brought to Dvārakā and planted in front of Satyabhāmā’s palace. It is stated that Pārijāta was thus brought and planted by Kṛṣṇa to alleviate the grief caused to Satyabhāmā by the return by Kṛṣṇa of Syamantaka to Satrājit. (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Kṛṣṇa’s sons and grand-children.

Ten sons were born to each of the eight chief wives—from Rukmiṇī to Lakṣmaṇā—of Kṛṣṇa. Names of the chief among those eighty sons are given below.

Of Rukmiṇī—

Pradyumna, Cārudekṣṇa, Sudekṣṇa, Cārudeha, Sucāru, Cārugupta, Bhadracāru, Cārucandra, Aticāru, Cāru.

Of Jāmbavatī—

Sāmba, Sumitra.

Of Satyabhāmā—

Bhānu, Subhānu, Svarbhānu, Prabhānu, Bhānumān, Candrabhānu, Bṛhadbhānu, Havirbhānu, Śrībhānu, Pratibhānu.

Of Kālindī—


Of Mitravindā—


Of Satyā—


Of Bhadrā—


Of Lakṣmaṇā—


A daughter called Rukmāvatī was born to Rukmī, brother of Rukmiṇī. Pradyumna married Rukmāvatī and Aniruddha was their son. It was this Aniruddha, who wedded Uṣā. Cārumatī, the daughter of Rukmiṇī was married by the son of Kṛtavarman (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Kṛṣṇa tested Rukmiṇī

While Śrī Kṛṣṇa was once having a chat with Rukmiṇī he wanted to test her love for him. So he told her that he was penniless and helpless and was hiding from his enemies there at Dvārakā and that he would only be really glad if she married some other powerful King. Kṛṣṇa had not completed his sentences when Rukmiṇī fell down unconscious. Kṛṣṇa then consoled her. (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Kṛṣṇa fought with Bāṇa.

See under Bāṇa

Kṛṣṇa killed Pauṇḍraka.

See under Pauṇḍraka.

Nṛga given salvation.

See under Nṛga.

Śrīkṛṣṇa blessed Pāñcālī at the time of her Svayaṃvara

(See under Pāñcālī).

Subhadrā given in marriage to Arjuna.

Arjuna had to go on a pilgrimage for one year as atonement for having got into the palace where Yudhiṣṭhira was spending the days with Pāñcālī. It was during this period of his pilgrimage that Arjuna married Subhadrā, who was the younger sister of Kṛṣṇa due to whose cleverness alone Arjuna got her as his wife. (For details see under Subhadrā).

Kṛṣṇa got the club called Kaumodakī and he saved Maya.

See under Khāṇḍavadāha.

Kṛṣṇa with the Pāṇḍavas.

The rest of Kṛṣṇa’s life was intimately connected with the history of the Pāṇḍavas. Important roles played by Kṛṣṇa during the period up to the great war, are summarised below.

(1) He conducted Yajña continuously for many years for the protection of Dharma (righteousness). (Sabhā Parva, Chapter 8, Verse 16).

(2) Permitted Yudhiṣṭhira to perform Rājasūya yajña. (Chapter 14, Sabhā Parva, Mahābhārata).

(3) Along with Bhīma and Arjuna, he went to Mathurā in the guise of a brahmin and killed Jarāsandha. (See under Jarāsandha).

(4) He crowned Sahadeva, son of Jarāsandha, as King of Mathurā. (Sabhā Parva, Chapter 24, Verse 43).

(5) He gave a lot of money as donation at the Rājasūya Yajña of Yudhiṣṭhira. (Sabhā Parva, Chapter 33, Verse 13).

(6) He was presented with ear-rings by Bhūmidevī (goddess Earth). (Sabhā Parva, Page 808, Southern text).

(7) He killed Śiśupāla. (See under Śiśupāla).

(8) He made the clothes of Pāñcālī unending when Duryodhana tried to strip her naked in the royal assembly. (See under Pāñcālī).

(9) He fought Sālva and Saubha. (See under Sālva and Saubha).

(10) He once took Subhadrā and Arjuna to Dvārakā. (Vana Parva, Chapter 22; Verses 47, 48).

(11) He consoled the Pāṇḍavas at the Kāmyaka forest. (Vana Parva, Chapter 183, Verse 16).

(12) He ate the bit of a leaf of greens from Pāñcālī’s vessel and was pleased with her. (See under Pāñcālī).

(13) Attended the wedding of Abhimanyu at Upaplavyanagara and gave a lot of money to Dharmaputra. (Virāṭa Parva, Chapter 72, Verse 24).

(14) He sent to the court of King Virāṭa a messenger, who explained to him the corrupt ways of the Kauravas and the righteousness of the Pāṇḍavas. (Udyoga Parva, Chapter 1).

Tested by Nārada.

Nārada wanted to know how Kṛṣṇa managed to satisfy all his 16008 wives. For this purpose he visited their houses and Nārada was wonder-struck to find Kṛṣṇa engaged in conversation with his wives in all the houses he visited. (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Kṛṣṇa blessed Kucela.

See under Kucela.

The story of Santānagopālam.

See para 7 (d) under Arjuna.

Kṛṣṇa feigned sleep.

The Kauravas refused to part with half the kingdom to the Pāṇḍavas, who had returned from their exile in the forest. Both the sides began preparations for war. Duryodhana went to Dvārakā to invite Kṛṣṇa to his side, and seeing him at a distance Kṛṣṇa feigned sleep and lay down there. Duryodhana occupied a stool at the head of Kṛṣṇa’s bed. Arjuna, who also came to seek his help, stood with folded hands at Kṛṣṇa’s feet. It was Arjuna whom Kṛṣṇa first saw on waking up. But Duryodhana told him that it was he who had come first. Kṛṣṇa was in a fix, and he had to promise to help both the sides. He promised his entire army to one side and his personal help, himself without any weapons with him, to the other side, and Arjuna was asked to make his choice first as he was younger than Duryodhana. Arjuna chose Kṛṣṇa without arms and Duryodhana with his infantry. Kṛṣṇa agreed to act as Arjuna’s charioteer.

As messenger of peace in Kaurava assembly.

Dharmaputra requested Kṛṣṇa to find out means to avoid war somehow or other and Kṛṣṇa sent a message to Dhṛtarāṣṭra through Sañjaya but nothing came out of it. Ultimately Kṛṣṇa himself decided to visit the Kauravas for which purpose he went first to Dvārakā in his chariot with Sātyaki. On his way Kṛṣṇa held talks with many a great sage. From Dvārakā he returned to Hastināpura where he visited and consoled Kuntī at Vidura’s house. He had his supper also there. The next day he attended Duryodhana’s court and strongly pleaded for the Pāṇḍavas. But Duryodhana and others ridiculed him and even attempted to take him captive. Śrī Kṛṣṇa at once exhibited his Viśva-rūpa (Cosmic form). The Kauravas were frightened to witness Brahmā on Kṛṣṇa’s forehead, Śiva on his chest, Āditya-Vasu-Rudras in his mouth etc. Śrī Kṛṣṇa granted the blind Dhṛtarāṣṭra divine eyes to see this Viśvarūpa and he sang the praise of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa returned to the Pāṇḍavas after advising Karṇa to fight on the Pāṇḍava side in the impending war. (Udyoga Parva).

Kṛṣṇa in the great war.

The parts Kṛṣṇa played during the Kuru-Pāṇḍava war are briefly given below.

(1) The Kaurava and the Pāṇḍava armies were gathered at Kurukṣetra in full battle array and Arjuna, at the sight of the thousands of relations in the opposite camp, became a prey to a great delusion and sat down. Kṛṣṇa then enthused him to fight by giving him advice, which came later to be known as the great Gītā. The Gītā contains the Sāṅkhya, Yoga, the characteristics of the wise people and the unwise, description about yajñas, greatness of knowledge, characteristics of Sāṃkhya and niṣkāmakarma, yogins, jñānayoga etc. (Bhīṣma Parva, Chapters 26-42).

(2) At the commencement of the battle, Kṛṣṇa blew aloud his conch Pāñcajanya. (Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 25, Verse 15).

(3) Kṛṣṇa rushed forward with his Cakrāyudha to kill Bhīṣma, who then praised Kṛṣṇa. (Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 65).

(4) He prompted Arjuna to kill Bhīṣma. (Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 106, Verse 33).

(5) He received on his chest the Vaiṣṇavāstra shot by Bhagadatta against Arjuna. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 29, Verse 13).

(6) Consoled Arjuna, who was lamenting over the death of Abhimanyu. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 72).

(7) Consoled Subhadrā, who was sunk in sorrow at the loss of her son. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 77).

(8) Consoled the crying Pāñcālī and Uttarā. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 78).

(9) Took Arjuna in a dream to Śiva and got Śiva’s blessing for him. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 80).

(10) He looked after the horses in the battle-field. Droṇa Parva, Chapter 100).

(11) Prompted Arjuna to kill Duryodhana. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 102).

(12) Kṛṣṇa created illusory darkness and prompted Arjuna to kill Jayadratha. (See under Jayadratha).

(13) He lifted the darkness after Jayadratha was killed by Arjuna. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 146).

(14) As it was not proper for Arjuna and Karṇa to be fighting with each other at mid-night he deputed Ghaṭotkaca to fight Karṇa. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 173).

(15) He consoled Dharmaputra, who was grieving over the death of Ghaṭotkaca. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 153).

(16) He prompted Arjuna to kill Karṇa. (Karṇa Parva, Chapter 60).

(17) Withdrew Arjuna from confrontation with Karṇa on the pretext of attending to Dharmaputra, who had been wounded. (Karṇa Parva, Chapter 64).

(18) A sudden dispute arose between Dharmaputra and Arjuna, who drew his sword to kill the former. And Kṛṣṇa reconciled them by relating the story of Vyādha and Kauśika (For the story see under Valāka).

(19) Arjuna got ready to commit suicide: Kṛṣṇa dissuaded him from the attempt. (Karṇa Parva, Chapter 70).

(20) Kṛṣṇa again prompted Arjuna to kill Karṇa.

(21) In the fierce battle that ensued between Arjuna and Karṇa, Kṛṣṇa pressed down the platform of the chariot when the latter shot the nāgāstra (the serpent arrow). The arrow flew off with Arjuna’s crown. (Karṇa Parva, Chapter 90).

(22) Arjuna killed Karṇa after which Kṛṣṇa prompted Dharmaputra to kill Śalya. (Śalya Parva, Chapter 7).

(23) Kṛṣṇa prompted Bhīma to kill Duryodhana in an illusory battle. (Śalya Parva, Chapter 58).

(24) As requested by Yudhiṣṭhira Kṛṣṇa left the battle-field for Hastināpura and returned after consoling Dhṛtarāṣṭra and Gāndhārī. (Śalya Parva, Chapter 62).

(25) Kṛṣṇa cursed Aśvatthāmā who released arrows against pregnant women. (See under Aśvatthāmā).

(26) Asked Bhīṣma to instruct Yudhiṣṭhira on dharma (righteousness). (Śānti Parva, Chapter 51).

(27) He granted the boon to Bhīṣma lying on the bed of arrows that he would not feel hunger and thirst and that his intellect would function powerfully as long as he was discoursing on dharma. (Śānti Parva, Chapter 52).

(28) He related to Arjuna the root meaning of his various names. (Śānti Parva, Chapter 341).

(29) He explained to sages and Bhūmidevī some profound doctrines about God and the world. (Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 167).

(30) He gave permission to Bhīṣma to die. (Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 167).

(31) Consoled Gaṅgādevī who grieved over the death of Bhīṣma. (Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 168).

(32) He once again revealed the doctrine of the Gītā in the form of discussions between Siddhamaharṣis and Kaśyapa. (Āśramavāsika Parva, Chapter 16).

(33) After the great war was over he went to Dvārakā with Subhadrā and Sātyaki with the consent of Yudhiṣṭhira. (Āśramavāsika Parva, Chapter 57, Verses 54-58).

Śrī Kṛṣṇa again at Dvārakā.

When Kṛṣṇa returned to Dvārakā, Sage Uttaṅka visited him. The sage was told details about the Kauravas and the Pāṇḍavas by Kṛṣṇa. He detailed to the sage spiritual principles too and showed him his Viśvarūpa (Cosmic form). Kṛṣṇa participated in festival held by the Yādavas on the Raivata mountain. Afterwards when he went to Dvārakā he told his father Vasudeva details about the war. He himself performed the obsequies of Abhimanyu. (Aśvamedha Parva).

Killed Haṃsaḍibhakas.

See under Ḍibhaka.

Kṛṣṇa brought back Parīkṣit to life.

Kṛṣṇa again went to Hastināpura. There Uttarā, wife of Abhimanyu, delivered, but the child was born dead as the arrow of Aśvatthāmā had hit her womb. Kṛṣṇa brought the dead child back to life on the request of Kuntī. It was this child, who became later famous as Parīkṣit. (Aśvamedha Parva, Chapter 66).

The evening of Kṛṣṇa’s life.

The curse of Gāndhārī.

Most of the heroes and distinguished archers like Duryodhana had been killed in the great war, and Gāndhārī overwhelmed with grief and anger at the death of her sons lamented over them loudly. She realised that Kṛṣṇa was the cause of all the destruction and cursed him as follows:—"If I have gained any powers by my loyal and devout service to my husband, O! Kṛṣṇa I curse you on the strength of that power. Since you forsook relations like the Kauravas and the Pāṇḍavas who quarrelled with each other, you also will have to witness the killing of relations. Thirtysix years from today your relations, ministers and sons will be killed, and you too will be killed by a hunter in the forest. Your women-folk also will cry as we women cry now." (Strī Parva, Chapter 25).

The curse of Gāndhārī that the Yādava dynasty would be annihilated after thirtysix years was fulfilled. In the thirtysixth year another curse also befell the dynasty which contributed further to its annihilation.

Curse of the sages.

The sages Viśvāmitra, Kaṇva and Nārada came to Dvārakā once. Some Yādavas brought Sāmba dressed as a pregnant woman before the sages and asked them derisively what child, whether male or female, would Sāmba give birth to. Angry at this insult, the sages said that the 'pregnant woman' would deliver an iron rod, which would become instrumental for the destruction of the Yādava dynasty. Kṛṣṇa who was told about the curse said that it was as it was destined to be. Next day Sāmba delivered an iron rod. The Yādavas filed it into powder and threw the powder into the sea. Śrī Kṛṣṇa enforced prohibition of liquours in Dvārakā with the object of avoiding any untoward incidents in Dvārakā. It was declared that those who produced liquor would be hanged to death along with their families. (Mausala Parva, Chapter 1).

Evil omens.

Signs of the destruction of the Yādavas began appearing. Agents of Kāla visited house after house. Rats multiplied in numbers everywhere in the land, and they began gnawing the nails and hairs of people enjoying sleep. Sheep howled like jackals. Asses were born from cows and cats from mules. Dogs cohabited with rats. The Cakrāyudha (Discus) given to Kṛṣṇa by Agnideva at the time of Khāṇḍavadāha disappeared into the sky while the Yādavas were looking on. Thus symptoms of an all-round destruction were witnessed.

Destruction of the rādavas.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Balabhadra, Uddhava and others were about to go on a pilgrimage, and the Yadus, the Vṛṣṇis and the Andhakas began manufacturing and drinking liquor. They also began to quarrel with one another. The powder of the iron rod thrown into the sea was washed ashore and it grew up like arrow-like grass. The Yādavas fought with one another and many were killed. Kṛṣṇa got terribly angry at the death of Sātyaki, Pradyumna and others. He plucked a handful of grass and it transformed itself into an iron rod with which he beat to death those around him. Then all the people plucked up the grass which turned into iron rods. They fought amongst themselves with the iron rods and all of them got killed.

Death of Rāma and Kṛṣṇa.

During this period Balabhadra went and seated himself under a tree in deep meditation. Kṛṣṇa stood near him. Dāruka and Babhru also arrived there. Kṛṣṇa deputed Dāruka to Hastināpura to inform Arjuna about the annihilation of the Yādava race. Then Kṛṣṇa went to the palace and consoled the women-folk there. When he told them that Arjuna would come and take care of them, his wives shed tears. Kṛṣṇa then took leave of Vasudeva and returned to Balabhadra. Kṛṣṇa saw even at a distance a white serpent coming out of Balabhadra’s mouth and moving away to Pātāla through the sea. The serpent which was the soul of Balabhadra was duly received by the prominent Nāgas in Pātāla. Kṛṣṇa roamed about the forest for some time and then lay down on the ground immersed in Yoga with his feet raised up. An Asura called Jara, who saw Kṛṣṇa’s raised feet from a distance mistook the same for a deer and shot it with his arrows. Kṛṣṇa expired at once and rose up in the guise of Viṣṇu to Vaikuṇṭha. (Mausala Parva).

Reason for Kṛṣṇa’s foot being hit by arrow.

Durvāsas once went to Dvārakā and enquired who was there to put him up as a guest. Kṛṣṇa invited him to his palace and treated him as a very honoured guest. He began creating trouble there by breaking vessels, eating only very sparsely at times but eating all that he saw at other times. Kṛṣṇa and Rukmiṇī put up with the vagaries of the sage quite patiently. One day the sage expressed a desire to taste pudding, and accordingly Kṛṣṇa and Rukmiṇī cooked it and served it to the sage. After tasting some pudding he asked Kṛṣṇa to smear his whole body with the balance of it and Kṛṣṇa did so except the bottom of his feet. The sage asked him why he did not smear the nether surface of his feet with the pudding to which Kṛṣṇa humbly answered that he did not like doing so. Durvāsas smeared Rukmiṇī’s body with what remained of the pudding. He yoked Rukmiṇī to the chariot and rode off swiftly in it. On the way he whipped Rukmiṇī. Kṛṣṇa ran after the chariot so that he might be of service to the sage. After he had gone some distance the sage jumped out of the chariot and ran through the forest. Ultimately he turned round to Kṛṣṇa and told him as follows:—"Oh! Kṛṣṇa! I am pleased with your service. Let Rukmiṇī have the first place among your wives. She will not be affected by old age. And, you will never meet with death by being hit at those parts of your body which have been smeared with the pudding."

When Kṛṣṇa and Rukmiṇī returned to the palace the vessels which Durvāsas had broken were found to be in a more glittering condition than of old. Their welfare and happiness were also increased. Kṛṣṇa died hit by the arrow of the hunter on the lower surface of his feet as he had not smeared that part of the body with the pudding left over by Durvāsas. (Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 159), (There is another story to the effect that Jara, the hunter, was Bāli (whom Śrī Rāma had killed) reborn, and he killed Kṛṣṇa in retaliation for his former death).

After Kṛṣṇa’s death.

(i) Arjuna came to Dvārakā and cremated Kṛṣṇa. (Mausala Parva, Chapter 7, Verse 31).

(ii) After his death Kṛṣṇa, lives in the guise of Nārāyaṇa in the divine sphere. (Svargārohaṇa Parva, Chapter 5, Verses 24-26).

(iii) Anointed queens like Rukmiṇī and Jāmbavatī and some other wives of Kṛṣṇa entered his funeral pyre and ended their lives. (Mausala Parva, Chapter 7, Verses 73 and 74).

(iv) While Arjuna was leading the remaining wives of Kṛṣṇa away from Dvārakā forest-dwellers attacked them on the way. But the women, to escape from their clutches, ran off and jumped into the river Sarasvatī and died in its waters. Their souls entered heaven (Svargārohaṇa Parva, Chapter 6, Verse 25).

Names of Kṛṣṇa.

(a) Used in Mahābhārata. Acyuta, Adhideva, Adhokṣaja, Ādideva, Aja, Amadhya, Anādi, Anādimadhyaparyanta, Anādinidhana, Anādya, Ananta, Andhakavṛṣṇinātha, Asica, Ātman, Avyakta, Avyaya, Bhojarājanyavardhana, Bhūteśvara, Bhūtapati, Bhūtātman, Bhūteśa, Cakradhara, Cakradhārī, Cakragadābhṛt, Cakragadādhara, Cakragadāpāṇi, Cakrapāṇi, Cakrāyudha, Dāśārha, Dāśārhabhartā, Dāśārhādhipati, Dāśārhakulavardhana, Dāśārhanandana, Dāśārhanātha, Dāśārhasiṃha, Dāśārhavīra, Dāmodara, Devadeva, Devadeveśa, Devadeveśvara, Devakīnandana. Gadāgraja, Garuḍadhvaja, Gopāla, Gopendra, Gopījanapriya, Govinda, Haladharānuja, Hari, Hṛṣīkeśa, Janārdana, Kaṃsakeśiniṣūdana, Kaṃsaniṣūdana, Kaustubhabhūṣaṇa; Keśava, Keśihā, Keśihantā, Keśiniṣūdana, Keśisūdana, Mahābāhu, Pītavāsas, Ramānātha, Rāmānuja Śaivyasugrīvavāhana, Śambhu, Śaṅkhacakragadādhara, Śaṅkhacakragadāhasta, Śaṅkhacakragadāpāṇi, Śaṅkhacakrāsipāṇi, Śārṅgadhanurdhara, Śārṅgadhanvā, Śārṅgagadāpāṇi, Śārṅgagadāsipāṇi, Śārṅgī, Śauri, Śūlabhṛt, Sūlī, Saṅkarṣaṇānuja, Sarvadāśārhahartā, Sarvanāgaripudhvaja, Sarvayādavanandana, Satya, Suparṇaketu, Tārkṣyadhvaja, Tārkṣyarakṣaṇa, Trailokyanātha, Triyuga, Vāsudeva, Vasudevaputra, Vrajanātha, Vṛṣṇiśārdūla, Vṛṣṇiśreṣṭha, Vṛṣṇikulodvaha, Vṛṣṇinandana, Vṛṣṇipati, Vṛṣṇipravara, Vṛṣṇipuṅgava, Vṛṣṇisattama, Vṛṣṇisiṃha, Vṛṣṇijīva, Vṛṣṇyandhakapati, Vṛṣṇyandhakottama, Yādava, Yādavaśārdūla, Yādavaśreṣṭha, Yādavāgrya, Yādavanandana, Yādaveśvara, Yaduśārdūla, Yadūśreṣṭha, Yadūdvaha, Yadupuṅgava, Yadusukhāvaha, Yadūttama, Yaduvaṃśavivardhana, Yogeśvara, Yogīśa, Yogī.

(b) Synonyms of Kṛṣṇa in Amarakośa.

"viṣṇur nārāyaṇaḥ kṛṣṇo vaikuṇṭho viśṭaraśravāḥ / dāmodaro hṛṣīkeśaḥ keśavo mādhavaḥ svabhūḥ // daityāriḥ puṇḍarīkākṣo govindo garuḍadhvajaḥ / pītāmbarocyutaḥ śārṅgī viṣvakseno janārdanaḥ // upendra indrāvarajaḥ cakrapāṇiś caturbhujaḥ / padmanābho madhuripur vāsudevas trivikramaḥ // devakīnandanaśśauriḥ śrīpatiḥ puruṣottamaḥ / vanamālī balidhvaṃsī kaṃsārātir adhokṣajaḥ // viśvambharaḥ kaiṭabhajid vidhuś śrīvatsalāñchanaḥ."

(Viṣṇu, Nārāyaṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Vaikuṇṭha, Viṣṭaraśravas, Dāmodara, Hṛṣīkeśa, Keśava, Mādhava, Svabhū, Daityāri, Puṇḍarīkākṣa, Govinda, Garuḍadhvaja, Pītāmbara, Acyuta, Śārṅgī, Viṣvaksena, Janārdana, Upendra, Indrāvaraja, Cakrapāṇi, Caturbhuja, Padmanābha, Madhuripu, Vāsudeva, Trivikrama, Devakīnandana, Śauri, Śrīpati, Puruṣottama, Vanamālī, Balidhvaṃsī, Kaṃsārāti, Adhokṣaja, Viśvambhara, Kaiṭabhajit, Vidhu, Śrīvatsalāñchana.).

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