Friday, August 23, 2019

Janmashtami Special – The Curious Case of a Fake Lord Krishna

It is the joyous occasion of Janmashtami, where Hindus world over celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna in their own inimitable ways.  People in the North of India conduct Dahi Handi contests, kite flying and observe night long jagrans (night vigils). The south of India calls it Gokulashtami and celebrates it with colourful rangolis, bhajans and classical dance performances. The common thread that binds them all is the love, reverence and happiness in celebrating the birth of one of the most iconic and charismatic avatars. However not everyone always loved Lord Krishna. This is one of the lesser known stories from Bhagvad Purana of a fake Krishna who tried to commit an identity theft.

The King of Pundra

Lord Krishna was known by several names including Mukunda, Govinda, Madhusudana etc. He was also famously called Vasudeva. There was another king called Poundraka Vasudeva who was the king of the Pundra kingdom.  News reached King Paundraka about the charm, intelligence and popularity of Sri Krishna who was also known as Vasudeva. This news intrigued him, and he sent his soldiers to collect all information about Sri Krishna.  The more he learnt about him the more he got enamored by the personality of Sri Krishna. He got so besotted that he started to dress like Sri Krishna in yellow dhoti, along with the peacock feather on his crown and even got an imitation of the Kausthubham jewel. All this notwithstanding he acquired other embellishments of Sri Krishna like the white conch, the mace, Srichakra and also a bow that resembled much like the one Sri Krishna carried.

His courtiers and generals were all praises for him. While this pleased him initially, he soon grew dissatisfied that he was still being compared to Lord Krishna. He wanted to get all the adoration, adulation and love of the people for himself alone. He decided that the only way to get all that was by eliminating the Sri Krishna of Dwaraka. The false praise and constant fawning by his ministers made him heady with pride and gave him the courage to a notice to Sri Krishna to no longer impersonate him. He added that if Sri Krishna would refuse this order, he would be challenged for a battle!

Lord Krishna was surprised and amused to receive this message from this new lookalike who wanted to usurp his identity. Sri Krishna decided to end this game of deceit and accepted the challenge to combat. The battlelines were set and Paundraka Vasudeva arrived with his army. He was aided in this battle by the king of Kashi. Paundraka came riding a chariot that was a replica Krishna's with similar looking and colored horses. Sri Krishna addressed Paundraka and tried to tell him how futile this effort was. He gave Paundraka a chance to give up this false hope of replacing him and redeem himself. However, nothing could deter Paundraka Vasudeva. He had made up his mind that he was indeed the real God incarnate and he was right in his stance. The battle was neither fierce nor a prolonged one. Lord Krishna killed Paundraka with little effort. Balarama routed Paundraka’s army and captured them. And thus came to an end a foolish adventure of an unwise king.

The three important takeaways from this tale are –
  1. The Vedas say, “Yadh Bhavam Tadh Bhavati”. Your inner thoughts and emotions will shape your character and your outlook of life. 
  2. Pride goes before a fall. Do not always believe those who praise you all the while. 
  3. It’s better to be original even if it means to be ordinary. 

With that wishing everyone a very happy Krishna Janamshtami 2019

No comments: