Wednesday, January 30, 2008

PDE Mahabharata: Death of Krishna


Reading Guide. You may be surprised by the way that Krishna dies, but it is not surprising that his death is persaged by terrible omens.

Source. Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913). [500 words]




The Forest | 78. Death of Krishna | Departure


Soon afterwards the Pandavas came to know, by reason of dread omens which appeared, that a great calamity was drawing nigh, but no man could tell what it was or when it would take place.

Before long it became known that the city of Dwaraka was doomed to be destroyed. A horror in human shape was beheld in the night; it was colored yellow and black, its head was bald and its limbs misshapen, and men said it was Yama, god of the dead. Visions of headless men contending in battle were beheld at sunset. The moon was eclipsed, a dread tempest ravaged the land, and a plague of rats afflicted the city.

Krishna forbade all the people, on pain of death, to drink wine, and commanded them to perform devotions on the seashore.

Then the night was haunted by a black woman with yellow teeth who grinned horribly at house doors. All the inhabitants of the city were stricken with terror. Evil spirits came also and robbed the jewels of the women and the weapons of the men. At length the chakra of Krishna went up to heaven, and his chariot and horses followed it. The end of the Yadavas was not afar off, and the day came when apsaras called out of heaven, "Depart from hence," and all the people heard them.

When the people gathered on the seashore they held a feast, and being allowed to drink wine for one day, they drank heavily and began to quarrel. At length Satyaki slew Kritavarman, who had gone to the Pandava camp with Drona's son on the night of slaughter. Then Kritavarman's friends killed Satyaki and one of Krishna's sons. Krishna slew the rebels, but he could not quell the tumult and the fighting which ensued; fathers slew their sons, and sons their fathers, and kinsmen contended fiercely against kinsmen.

Then Krishna and Balarama left the city, and both died in the jungle. From Balarama's mouth issued a mighty snake, for he was the incarnation of the world serpent. Krishna was mistaken for a gazelle by a hunter, who shot an arrow which pierced his foot at the only spot where he could be mortally wounded. He then departed to his heaven, which is called Go Loka.

Before Krishna had left Dwaraka he caused messengers to hasten for Arjuna, who came speedily, to find the women wailing for the dead. Then Vasudeva, father of Krishna, died, and Arjuna laid the body of the old man upon the pyre, and he was burned with four of his widows, who no longer desired to live. The bodies of Krishna and Balarama were cremated also.

Arjuna then set forth towards Indraprastha with a remnant of the people, and when they had left Dwaraka, the sea rose up and swallowed the whole city, with those who had refused to depart from it. Such was the end of the power of the Yadavas.


The Forest | Death of Krishna | Departure




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