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Krishna - The Divine God

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 10:32 PM 0 comments
Lord Krishna: Birth and Parentage
Lord Krishna is the eighth incarnation of lord Vishnu, who was born in the Dvarpara Yuga. He was born as the 8th child of Devaki and Vasudeva in the jail of Kansa. Kansa was the cruel demon king of Mathura. Devaki was Kansa’s sister, who was married with Vasudeva. Lord Krishna is the embodiment of love, who born to establish the religion of love. He appeared over five thousand years ago in Mathura. The sage Narada had predicted that Kansa would be killed by his nephew, so Kansa killed Devaki´s first six children. The 7th, Balarama escaped and the 8th, Krishna, was secretly exchanged for a cowherd’s daughter. He was brought up in a cowherd’s family by Yashoda and Nand Baba.

When Krishna was being taken from Mathura to Vrindavana, Vasuki, king of serpents, raised his mighty hood to shield father and son from the unrelenting rain. The river Yamuna parted its waters helping them to reach Vrindavanaa safely. There, Vasudeva left Krishna in the cares the cowherd Nanda Baba and his wife Yashoda. He spent his childhood in Vrindavana under Yashoda’s care.

Yashoda's Adorable Child

In Vrindavana, adored by his foster-mother Yashoda, in the company of Rohini and Balarama, the lord delighted everyone with mischief and charm. Only once did Krishna let Yashoda have a glimpse oil divinity. She saw him eating dirt but found in his mouth not mud or dung, but the entire cosmos -the sun, the moon, the earth, the planets and the stars.

Stealing Butter

Krishna grew up with a fondness for butter and no attempt to keep it out of his reach was ever successful. He would raid every kitchen and dairy in the village, helped by his brother and his friends, and then, with a smile, distributed stolen butter amongst children. When caught, the bewildered expression on his butter-smeared face and his child like protestations a innocence produced an upsurge of maternal affection in the gopis that took them closer to the divine. In love, the women learnt to tolerate, even enjoy, the theft of butter.

Dance of Love

With his flute, Krishna captured the rhythm of the cosmos and infused idyllic surroundings -the river banks, pastures and fields-with romance and beauty. Every night, charmed by his enchanting melodies and his winsome smile, the men and women of the village would abandon everything -ambition, jealousy, anger, lust, pride - and make their way to the flowery meadows of Madhubana to sport and play with the lord. As he played his flute, they danced to his tune, swaying gently around him until they all became one. This was rasa-leela, the mystical dance of freedom and ecstasy.

Radha: Krishna’s Beloved
Once, while the gopis were bathing in the Yamuna, Krishna stole their clothes. Sitting on the highest branch of a tree, the lord smiled and said, "Let go of your inhibitions and stand before me without a facade." Only Radha was willing to abandon everything - even honour, shame and pride -for the sake of Krishna. She asked for nothing in return. The lord saw in this simple milkmaid the embodiment of perfect love. She became his dearest companion, the inspiration for his music. With Radha in his arms, Krishna danced in joyous abandon.

Guardian of the Village

Kansa knew about the prediction that he would be killed by Devaki’s eighth child. When he learnt that Devaki’s eighth child, Krishna is still alive, so he sent several demons to kill Krishna like Pootana, the giant demoness, Agha, the python; Arista, the bull; Baga, the stork; Keshi, the horse; Vatsa, the heifer; Vyoma, the goat. Krishna and Balarama destroyed them all. When a forest fire threatened Vrindavana, Krishna opened his mouth and consumed the flames. He wrestled and subdued the deadly five-headed serpent Kaliya who had poisoned the waters of the river. To mark his triumph he danced on the serpent's hood and delighted the cosmos with his performance. His footprint is still seen on the hood of cobras.

Lord Krishna: The Divine Cowherd

Lord Krishna looked after the cows of Vrindavana, leading them to their pastures at dawn and returning with them at dusk. Enchanted by the lord's music, the cows followed him readily and joyfully offered more milk. During the festival of the rain-god Indra, residents of Vrindavana wished to worship Indra. Krishna protested against this. He said Krishna. Let us worship a deity who looks after our welfare, like Mount Govardhana it blocks rain-bearing clouds for our fields and provides grazing grounds for our cattle. When the gopas and gopis accepted the lord's suggestion, Indra was so angry that he sent down torrential rains to drown the residents of Vrindavana. To save his village and humble the rain-god's pride, Krishna raised Mount Govardhana with his little finger and turned it into a giant parasol under which cows, cowherds and milkmaids took shelter till the rains abated.

Invitation to Mathura

Lord Krishna's many triumphs in Vrindavana made him famous across the three worlds. Recognizing him as his nephew, Kansa sent the royal chariot to Vrindavana inviting Krishna and his brother Balarama to participate in the royal wrestling festival. As Krishna mounted the chariot, the gopas and gopis wept in fear. "Kansa's wrestlers will kill you. We may never see you again," they cried. "It is I who shall kill Kansa," said the lord, smiling reassuringly. "I will return and together we shall dance in triumph."

In the arena at Mathura, the brothers who had subdued many a wild bull on the streets of Vrindavana defeated the royal wrestlers effortlessly. They won the admiration of the Yadavas for their strength and skill and were cheered as champions. Kansa, angered by their victory and popularity, lunged at Krishna. The lord grabbed him by the hair and dragged him across the ring until he was dead. The Yadavas roared their approval.

After the death of Kansa, the true identity of Krishna and Balarama as the sons of Devaki and Vasudeva became known to all. The citizens of Mathura readily welcome them into the royal fold. Krishna sent the Yadava Uddhava to Vrindavana to inform his friends that he would not be returning to his village.

Krishna and Balarama were sent to rishi Sandipani's ashram where they were taught every skill and scripture; in just sixty-four days. In gratitude, Krishna rescued his guru's son from the clutches of the demon Panchaja who lived in a conch-shell in the bottom of the sea. After killing the demon, Krishna claimed the conch-shell as his trumpet, calling it Panchajanya. The music of the conch-shell was a warning: the lord was now ready to kill the tormentors of the earth-goddess.

Mathura to Dwaraka

To avenge the death of his son-in-law Kansa, Jarasandha, emperor of Magadha, with his army attacked to destroy Mathura. Krishna used his divine powers to transport the Yadavas, along with their families and wealth, to the city of Dwaraka that stood on an island in the western sea. Pleased to see Vishnu in the form of Krishna, the earth goddess Bhoodevi emerged from a fire pit as Draupadi. She married to five Pandavas princes, Krishna’s paternal cousins. They had the five qualities of an ideal king.

The Game of Dice

LikeIndra in the heavens, Yudhishtira became complacent surrounded by pomp and prosperity. Without consulting his benefactor Krishna, he accepted an invitation to a game of dice. In the gambling hall he rolled the die and lost all he possessed: his kingdom, his brothers, even his own self. His cousins, the Kauravas, the winners of the game, then asked him to wager Draupadi. Yudhishtira lost her too. Draupadi was dragged by the hair into the gambling hall where the Kauravas decided to disrobe her in public. The kings of the world, witnesses of this tragedy, were too busy discussing the intricacies of the law and the rules of the game to come to Draupadi's aid. Realising no man, neither husband nor king, would come to her rescue, Draupadi, with tears in her eyes, raised her arms towards the heavens and cried out, "Help me, Krishna." Instantly the lord came to her rescue. For each robe that the Kauravas removed, there was another covering Draupadi. No matter how hard they tried they could not strip the earth-goddess bare. When they gave up, Draupadi swore, "I will not tie my hair until I have washed it with the blood of the Kauravas." Krishna promised to avenge her humiliation.

The Pandavas and their common wife, defeated in a as of dice, were driven out of Indraprastha. "You can claim your kingdom only after you live in the forests, without home or identity, for thirteen years," said the Kauravas shutting the doors of civilization on their face. At first the Pandavas wished to attack and reclaim their lands immediately. "No, that will be against dharma. You lost the wager and so must suffer the exile," advised Krishna. Thirteen years later, after much hardship, when the Pandavas returned from exile and asked for their kingdom, the Kauravas refused to part with it. "This is against dharma," said Krishna. "The Pandavas kept their word. You must too."

“Give them at least five villages for the sake of peace," ,pleaded Krishna, willing to compromise to avoid bloodshed. 'No," said Duryodhana, the eldest Kaurava. You will get what you deserve — a war," declared Krishna, "And none will prevent the slaughter of the unrighteous Kauravas."

Arjuna's Charioteer

As the Pandavas and Kauravas prepared for war, Krishna became the charioteer for Arjuna. He helped the Pandavas to reestablish dharma on the earth. Before the battle began, Arjuna lost his will to fight. He put down his weapons and cried, "How can I kill my own cousins for a piece of land?"

"This battle," said Krishna, "is not for your land or your crown; it is for dharma. You shall kill the unrighteous, not out of anger and vengeance, but because it is your duty. You are only an instrument of the divine being, who rotates the cycle of life." "Who is this divine being?" asked Arjuna. "It is Vishnu," said Krishna, revealing his true self, his vishvarupa. "Behold, all that exists, exists within me; all that happens is because of me. Do not delude yourself into believing that it is you who create or kill. I am the cause of all events-the creator and the destroyer. Abandon yourself into my care, detach yourself from the result, and do as I say - I caused the war, I will decide its fate." The words of Krishna became the song of the divine, the Bhagavad Gita that made Arjuna see his actions in clear light. Doubts cleared, intention clarified, decision taken, Arjuna picked up his bow and mounted the chariot. Krishna blew his conch and led Arjuna towards the enemy. 

The battle on the plains of Kurukshetra was no ordinary war; it was a battle to relieve the earth-goddess Bhoodevi of the burden of adharma. Using every strategy of war, including guile, Krishna orchestrated the defeat of the unrighteous Kauravas. One by one, their commanders fell to the ground, struck by the ruthless sword of justice. On the final day of the war, encouraged by Krishna, Bhima killed Duryodhana, the leader of the Kauravas, striking him beneath the navel with his mace. This outraged the kings of earth who condemned Krishna for breaking the sacred rules of war. "Where was this indignation when a helpless Draupadi was being abused by the Kauravas? Where was this of fair play when the earth-goddess Bhoodevi, burden by your wickedness, begged for mercy? What use are rules and laws when they do not uphold truth and justice?" asked the lord as he led the Pandavas to victory. He who had brought love and laughter to the meadows Vrindavana had filled the fields of Kurukshetra with the blood of unrighteousness kings and warriors. Draupadi, Bhoodevi incarnate, washed her hair with the blood of the Kauravas and thanked Vishnu, her divine protector. Under Krishna’s guidance, the Pandavas reestablished righteousness on earth.

Death of Krishna

But there was anger and sorrow in the heart of Gandhari, mother of the Kauravas. She cursed Krishna, "May you, like me, witness the degeneration and death of your kith and kin. And then, may you like a common beast die at the hands of a hunter." Krishna said, "Every action has a reaction. For the sake of dharma if I have to lose my family I am willing to pay the price." Gandhari's curse was to come true years later. The war had divided the Yadavas. Those who supported the Kauravas became sworn enemies of those who supported the Pandavas. Matters came to a head years later at Prabhasa where, after consuming too much liquor, them was an argument between the two groups. This led to a brawl. The brawl turned into a battle. Krishna, like Gandhari, saw his sons, his grandsons, his great-grandsons, fight and kill each other in this civil war.

Soon after, the sea rose and engulfed the city of Dwaraka. In despair, Balarama renounced the world and let his life-breath slip out of his body in the form of a snake. Having seen the Yadavas destroy themselves, Krishna sat under a banyan tree in contemplation. A hunter mistook his foot for the ear of a deer and shot a poisoned dart at him. As the poison took effect, the spirit of Vishnu left his earthly abode and returned to Vaikuntha. The death of Krishna marked the dawn of Kali-yuga, the age of spiritual blindness. "Have you abandoned us lord?" cried the gopas and gopis of Vrindavana. Vishnu replied, "How can I abandon those who love me? In Vaikuntha is Go-loka, the divine pleasure-garden. There, surrounded by celestial cows, under flowering trees, beside sparkling rivers, I play the flute and dance with Radha. Come, come and join me in my paradise, sing and dance around me for all eternity." "How can we come there lord?" "Work with wisdom and devotion, respect dharma, be compassionate, and you shall find the way to my garden of eternal delight." All Paintings are courtesy of Art of Legend India.

Ganesha - The Elephant headed god

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 9:58 PM 0 comments
Lord Ganesha is the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati and one of the most popular Hindu deities. He is god of knowledge and the remover of obstacles. He is also known by many names like Vinayak (knowledgeable) or Vighneshwar (god to remove obstacles) etc. He is worshipped in the beginning of any auspicious work, without appeasing him any prayers, no work can be done, no task can be completed and no project will be successful. He is generally depicted with four hands, elephant's head and a big belly. In his hands he as holds a discus, a club or goad and water-lily. His fourth hand's palm is always extended to bless his devotees.

Lord Ganesha’s huge body represents the Cosmos or Universe and his trunk the Pranava or OM, the symbol of the Brahman. His elephant's head denotes superior intelligence and the snake around his waist represent cosmic energy. The noose is to remind us that worldly attachments are a noose. The rosary beads are for the pursuit of prayer and the broken tusk is symbolic of knowledge as it is with this tusk that he is believed to have acted as the scribe who wrote down the Mahabharata as dictated by the great Sage Ved Vyasa. The sweet in his hand is to remind us of the sweetness of one's inner self. The physical form of Ganesha is corpulent and awkward to teach us that beauty of the outward form has no connection with inner beauty or spiritual perfection. Ganesha, on his vehicle, the mouse, symbolizes the equal importance of the biggest and the smallest of creatures to the Great God.

Birth and Parentage of Lord Ganesha

Explanations of his parentage and the origin of his elephant's head vary. One version relates that Shiva was in the habit of surprising Parvati in her bath. As she disliked this habit one day scraped the scurf from body, mixed it with oils and ointments it into a man's figure, gave it life by sprinkling it with water from the Ganges. She then set Ganesha, outside the bath house door to guard it. When Shiva tried to enter and found his way barred, he cut off Ganesha's head. Lord Shiva also placed elephant’s head on Ganesha's shoulders.

Another version is that Parvati had prayed to Vishnu for a son and that when one was granted to her she was so proud of him that she called together all the gods to admire him. All the gods duly gazed at the beautiful child except Sani (Saturn), who looked down at the ground, for he was under the influence of his wife's curse, which caused any being that he fixed his eyes upon to be burnt to ashes. Parvati, however, thought that her son was immune to such dangers and insisted that Sani look at him and admire. So Sani looked, and Ganesha’s head was burned to ashes. Parvati now turned on Sani and cursed him for having killed her son, so that he became lame. But Brahma comforted Parvati and told her that if the first available head were put on her son's trunk he would be able to restore his life. So 'Vishnu set forth on Garuda and the first creature he saw was an elephant sleeping beside a river. He cut off its head and brought it back to Parvati. Yet another version that makes Parvati creator of Ganesha says that during one of the twilight periods between the ages a number of unworthy people had obtained access to heaven by visiting the shrine of Somnath, with the result that heaven was full to bursting while the hells were empty. lndra and other gods asked Shiva for his help in rectifying this situation. On his advice they approached Parvati, who by rubbing her body produced a being with four arms and an elephant's head who would induce in people a desire for riches so strong they would never think of spending their time in pilgrimage.

Sometimes Shiva is said to have created Ganesha, and again there are several versions of this. One relates that Shiva was approached by the other gods and sages, who had been reflecting on the fact that there was no obstacle to the performance of good or bad deeds; they wished Shiva to create for them a being who would oppose the commission of sins. Shiva pondered for some time on how he could help in this matter and then turned his face to Parvati. As he looked a radiant youth of great beauty and endowed with the qualities of Shiva sprang forth from his dazzling countenance. All the heavenly hosts were amazed and captivated by his beauty. But Parvati was angered and jealous of her husband's son. She cursed him to be ugly, to have a pot-belly and to have an elephant's head. But Shiva countered this curse by declaring that the being whom he had thus created should be called Ganesha, son of Shiva and leader of Shiva's hosts; that success and failure should derive front him; that he should be great among the gods and in all spiritual and worldly affairs; and that he should be invoked first on all occasions, those that did not do so being doomed to failure. All painting are courtesy of Art of Legend India

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