On the Krishna trail

Krishna: A
Journey through the lands and
legends of
krishna
Dev Prasad
Jaico Publishing
2010,  pp 344
 295

But an IT professional has caught this master of mysteries in the net of this enchanting volume by pursuing him relentlessly on earth.

A tourist with a difference, Dev Prasad has tracked Krishna in the maze of myths, legends, holy places and popular conceptions with a single-minded zeal. As a result, we can undertake a Krishna puja-pradakshina that begins in the 12 forests and 24 groves of Brij Bhoomi whose heart is Mathura. Dev also gives plenty of directions, timings and other useful information in case a reader wants to visit all the places in person.

The photographs and quotations that intermingle with the narrative quicken our interest as we first step into Kansa’s fort. Devaki’s wedding, the prophecy, the birth of Krishna and we get to glimpse the lanes through which Vasudeva entered Gokula carrying baby Krishna in a basket. Familiar names acquire a physical habitation in the Trinavarta Temple, Nanda Yashoda Bhavan and the ancient Radha Rani Garden in Raval.

“As I entered this garden, I saw a beige-coloured temple at the centre. This had idols of Radha and Krishna, sitting on a swing. To the left of this temple was a strange sight. There were two trees, completely entwined! One tree was black, representing Krishna and the other tree was white, representing Radha. These are popularly known as Radha-Krishna trees.”

Vrindavan is all Krishna. Worshipping at the innumerable temples apart, we are advised about the Loi Bazaar where one can buy any number of Krishna-based souvenirs and eat to our heart’s content “milk-based products since curds, milk, buttermilk, and butter are available here in abundance.” Oh yes, even in this Kaliyug, though it was in Dwaparayug that our darling butter-thief lived!

Kaliyug has its own bunch of beloved legends. One of them is the discovery of Radha Kund and Shyam Kund. “In 1513 AD, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to this region in search of these two kunds. He danced with joy when he saw Radha Kund and Shyam Kund.”

Chaitanya then spoke of  Radha’s advice to Krishna to create the two sacred tanks to overcome the sin of killing the demon Aristasura. Dev’s circumambulation of the Goverdhan Hill is enchanting. There are interesting details like the offering of prasad in the ISKCON temple that keep us riveted to the text.

Dwaraka! That immortal scene when M S Subbulakshmi, as Meera, merges with the Giridhari image remains as unsurpassed as her songs in the film.  Dev presents a charming cameo: “Some consider this saint (Meera) to be an incarnation of Radha, whereas others believe her to be an incarnation of Lalitha, Radha’s famous sakhi (friend).”

We are given to understand that it was in Dwaraka that Krishna lived for 96 years along with Rukmini and 16,000 queens, which is another divine mystery. We then travel through Kurukshetra, “a tourist’s delight with numerous temples, tanks, and ghats.”

The events of the Mahabharata draw close to us as we listen to captivating stories like the one about Krishna and the eggs of the Titu bird.  Finally, the great withdrawal at Prabhas Golok Dham. We have completed the pradhakshina only to begin again for the flute calls still.

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