Friday, December 14, 2012

54 Bhagavatha: Akrura Darshanam

Kamsa summons Mushtika, Chaanura, Shala, and other wrestlers, ministers and keepers of elephants: "O Mushtika and Chanura! I hear that Vasudeva's sons Balarama and Krishna are in Nanda's Vraja. I am told that my death has been decreed at their hands. You will arrange an amphitheatre for a game of wrestling and kill them in a combat. Let this voluntary combat be witnessed by the people of Mathura. Let Kuvalayapida, the mighty elephant also be stationed at the entrance to kill the juvenile brothers. Let a bow-sacrifice commence to propitiate Lord Shiva, which will help us emerge victorious."
Kamsa then summons Akrura, a kinsman of Vasudeva: "O charitable one! (He clasps Akrura's hand) I ask you do me a favour, as an act of friendship. You shall go to Nanda's Vraja and bring the two sons of Vasudeva in my chariot, without any delay. My death has been ordained at their hands. Pay rich tributes to the gopas led by Nanda and fetch them here. I shall have them despatched by the mighty elephant Kuvalayapida, failing which the wrestlers will kill them. After that I will do away with Vasudeva and my aged father Ugrasena who is desperate to regain his sovereignty. Having removed all obtacles, I shall reign over this world. Jarasandha, my father-in-law, Dwividha (the monkey chief), Sambara, Naraka and Bana are all my allies. Without revealing my intentions, bring the two youngsters here at once."
Akrura replies: "O King! It is well thought out plan against the evil which stares you in the face. Man aspires for more but is always thwarted by providence, thus meets with joy and grief. One should however keep one's mind balanced in success and failure. However, I shall do your bidding."
Next day, Akrura, a devotee of the Lord, leaves for Nanda's Gokula in a chariot. "Kamsa has done me a great favour. What kind of penance have I done, that I have been given such an opportunity to behold Krishna! Even though I have been sent by Kamsa, the Lord will not harbour any enmity towards me, as he knows what is in everyone's heart. Will he place his palms on my head when I bow to him? Will he embrace me, absolving me of all my sins?" Contemplating on Krishna all the way, Akrura arrives in Vraja. The sight of Vraja, with the sands imprinted with the footprints of Krishna overwhelms him. He jumps down from the chariot and rolls on the Vraja bhoomi "Oh, these are the particles of dust Krishna has walked on!"
He finds the brothers Balarama and Krishna, dressed in blue and yellow respectively, present in the yard where the cows were being milked. These most ancient persons, Akrura thought, were the Causes and rulers of the Universe, descended on earth for the welfare of the world. He prostrated at their feet. Choked with tears of joy, he could not even introduce himself. Krishna, knowing Akrura and his intent, drew him up and embraces him. Balarama also hugs Akrura. They take him home and extend utmost hospitality, washing and massaging his feet and providing him with the most delicious meal. Krishna enquires with anxiety about the welfare of devotees like him in Kamsa's land, and the motive of Akrura's visit.  Akrura tells them about Kamsa's inveterate enmity to the Yadus and his attempt to kill Vasudeva. Also that Kamsa has invited them to visit Mathura. The brothers laughed and apprise Nanda of Kamsa's invitation. Nanda instructs the gopas to arrange bullock carts loaded with presents for their journey to Mathura to witness the bow-sacrifice.  He also conveys the message to all of Vraja through messengers.
The gopis were sore that Akrura has arrived to take Balarama and Krishna to Mathura. Some swooned, unable to comprehend the news. Some, who were agitated by the very thought of separation from Krishna, met together in groups and grieved the entire night talking about this unexpected shock. "The creator has no compassion. He unites them through his friendly behaviour and disunites them even before they can realise it. Though under the apellation of Akrura (not cruel), you are being cruel to us, drawing yourself away from our eyes." They wail loudly, casting all bashfulness to the winds.
Akrura, after the morning oblations, begins his jouney to Mathura with Balarama and Krishna seated in his chariot. The gopas led by Nanda closely follow Akrura in bullock carts. The cowherd women follow Krishna for a while, taking delight in his glances from the chariot to comfort them. Observing their agony from his separation, Krishna also sends a message of love to them through a messenger, "I shall come back." The gopis kept looking at them as long as the dust raised by the chariot was seen. They stood like painted figures. Hopeless of his return, they retrace their steps, consoling themselves singing his praises and celebrating his pastimes.
Akrura reaches Yamuna by mid-day. Refreshing themselves in the clear waters, green as emerald, Balarama and Krishna get back to the cluster of trees under which the chariot stood. Akrura helps them into the chariot and with their permission, leaves to perform his ablutions at noon.
He gets into the pool known by the name of Anantha Tirtha in the Yamuna and takes a plunge into the water. He beholds Balarama and Krishna inside the water. "How can this be? If they are here, they should not be seated in the chariot." He emerges out of the water only to see the brothers seated in the chariot as before. "Was my vision of them in the water false?" He plunges into the water again. This time he beholds the thousand headed Lord of serpents, Sesha, white as a lotus fibre, clad in blue silk, and in his coils was seated a serene looking Lord Vishnu, with four arms, dark as a rain-bearing cloud, clad in yellow silk. It was a glorious sight to behold the Supreme Lord on Sesha, glorified by the Sanaka rishis, Narada, the Siddhas, Chaaranas, Gandharvas and the Asuras. He was waited upon by Lakshmi and other goddesses. Akrura, slowly gathers himself together and with a concentrated mind and joined palms, extolls the Lord. "Obeisance to you, O Lord Narayana! Possessed of a poor understanding, I am unable to restrain my mind, which is agitated by cravings and various activities, dragged by the turbulent senses. As such I have sought refuge in your feet. This too is possible only with your grace. Protect me, O Lord!"
Having shown this form under the water, Krishna withdrew it again, just as an actor would wind up his part. Akrura completes his oblations and returned wonder-struck to the chariot. Krishna asks him: "What wonder did you see just now, in the earth, heavens or in the water? We perceive it should have been something unusual." Akrura answers, "What miracles or wonders could I have seen anywhere else, O infinite Lord, when I am looking at you, who ensoul the entire universe!" With this vision entrenched in his mind, he drives the divine brothers to Mathura by sunset. 

No comments:

Srimad Bhagavatham