Kamsa Proposes, Krishna Disposes

[This children’s story is entirely fictional, but rooted in our mythology]

Part 1: Kamsa proposes…

It had started with the demoness Puthana. She had breast-fed poison-laced milk to the baby. The milk was consumed by Krishna with relish, no harm done, while the demoness was generously blessed with moksha for her kind act of feeding! The vile Kamsa, the King in Mathura, followed up sending several demons in various disguises to put his nephew Krishna growing up in Vrindavan in harm’s way, all of them unsuccessful. These attempts on Krishna’s life were carried out so cleverly that Kamsa was never suspected to be the master-mind.

Kamsa convened a meeting of his ministers to figure out a fool-proof method of putting Krishna in harm’s way. They were running out of ideas though not demons – there were more like Baka, Agha and Keshi available for deployment.

Just then, one of his ministers, Dhurmana, brought the news about the arrival in Mathura of a sorcerer from the Himalayan foothills who claimed to have command over dhushta-devataa’s (evil spirits). He suggested they could fetch him to the King’s court and ask him if he could be of any help in achieving their evil ends.

So Siddhesa, the sorcerer, was summoned to Kamsa’s court on the promise of a fat compensation.

Dhurmana: ‘Siddhesa, our King and all of us here are waiting to look at your bag of tricks.’

It was a jaw-dropping show of the unimaginable. Siddhesa could levitate objects and move them around. He could create disembodied eerie voices. A person could be rendered motionless with invisible ropes.

Siddhesa’s eyes turned to Dhurmana’s head-turban and hardened as if drilling holes through the cloth, his mouth chanting some arcane mantras. Before they could grasp what was happening, the long-flowing tail of the turban erupted in fire! The flash died out as suddenly in under a few seconds charring harmlessly the tassels of the turban. Siddhesa profusely apologized to a rattled Dhurmana for this awesome display of fire-power!

Dhurmana, doffing the scorched turban and recovering his poise: ‘Stop right here, Siddhesa. This prank would have normally cost you your head. But do not fear. Our King has a use in his mind for your special skill. It is an easy task for you to accomplish. You’re not required to set the world or its waters on fire, only a small child to be taken care of.’

Dhurmana proceeded to apprise him of their predicament: ‘At the same time, Siddhesa, do not underestimate the challenge – several of our capable men have been bested. You may ask how a baby could …Well, it is the handiwork of the demigods who have suffered until now at the hands of our King are now aiding Krishna. A far worse fate waits for them when this is over.’

Siddhesa: ‘I’m known not to fail. Take me to within ten feet of this Krishna and then leave things to me.’

It was then they learnt that this fire-power could not be deployed remotely. That presented a problem. After those repeated attempts on Krishna’s life, Nanda Raya had tightened the vigil. Any stranger would be followed closely. It wouldn’t be easy for Siddhesa to get near Krishna without raising suspicion. Their exultation at the prospect of unleashing the fire-power at Krishna was doused. They were back to where they were, ruling out all ‘chaals’ that couldn’t be deployed from far.

Siddhesa now resumed his show from where he had left off. In his next act, he pulled out a wooden piece carved and painted to suggest a parrot, placed it on a window ledge and distanced himself out of sight to the far end of the palace. With in half a minute of his going into a trance, right before their eyes, the parrot stirred slowly at first like getting up from sleep, exercised its wings and then worked itself up to a fully animated bird; it turned its head this way and that way taking in the scene, flew all the way to perch on Siddhesa’s stretched-out forearm, picked up the guava pieces from his unfolded palm and flew back squawking to and out of the window to the open sky.

While everyone in the audience was amused and impressed by what they saw, Kamsa was impatient: ‘Can we get on to something more serious instead wasting time with this kid stuff? If this is all you can do, can we wind up? Dhurmana, make sure he is compensated well for his time.’

Dhurmana: ‘Your Majesty, I see some interesting possibilities with this one. But before I proceed any further let me check this out. Siddhesa, tell us, are there any caveats to this?’

Siddhesa: ‘Good, you asked. Presently, I can sustain the life for not more than six minutes, though I’m working on extending it. Obviously the objects, made of metal or wood, must be replicas of the living. For instance, I cannot bring a ball to life while I can arouse a parrot in wood as you witnessed now. The parrot would be completely real in its looks and actions.’

Dhurmana: ‘And what happens after six minutes?’

Siddhesa: ‘It reverts back to being what it was in the first place.’

Dhurmana: ‘Does it work only on pieces supplied by you?’

Siddhesa: ‘Yes and No. It could be any object, but it needs to be first seeded by me with some mantras. I use a mirror to see its location before bringing it to life. It works once for an object, not again. In fact there could even be other unseeded objects nearby that would also come to life. That’s an extra (bonus) for you.’

Kamsa: ‘Where is this all heading?’

Dhurmana: ‘Your Majesty, just bear with me for a little while. I’ll explain. Siddhesa, now can you direct the live object to some purpose?’

Siddhesa: ‘Yes, I can. But I cannot make it do what is not in its repertoire of natural behaviors.’

Dhurmana: ‘That’s good enough. Now we’ve something we can work with, I believe.’

Dhurmana had words with Kamsa in a hush, who now looked pleased for the first time since the sorcerer arrived in his court.

Part 2: Krishna disposes…

The day was like any other day in Vrindavan, paced to the journey of the sun overhead.

The day-break was heralded by a mélange of calls and sounds from the denizens of animal kingdom before men and women woke up. It was the cows mewing in their sheds, peacocks parading in the courtyards, parrots seeking fruit-laden trees, proud cocks belting it out from their perches, hens pecking at invisible grains…

When the sky was a large canvas of pale blue streaked with brilliant pink near the horizon by the rising sun, it was time for the cows to be milked, done only after the calves had their fill. Pots of thick curd were churned and the butter put away in handi’s. It was no exaggeration to say the air in and around Vrindavan was permeated with the sweet smell of milk and butter.

When the sun emerged above the horizon as a brilliant yellow ball of fire, it was the soft tinkling of the bells around the necks and the dust kicked up by the hooves in stride – the boys led the voluptuous cows and calves to the river-bank for their daily scrub and wash and then move to the grazing grounds outside the village, to return only at dusk.

When the sun got too bright to gaze at, the men-folk stepped out to conduct their business of the day. The women came out to the courtyard to pound the grains and get done with other house-keeping chores. This was also the opportune time for the peddlers to go house-to-house offering life’s necessities and luxuries on barter.

Today it was a little different. The villagers saw a cart accompanied by some horse-riders bearing the royal insignia making rounds in Vrindavan. In due course, they called on Nanda Raya’s house too and found a maid receiving them. Nanda Raya and Maa Yashodha were away on some errand. The King’s men carried into the house a large silver salver covered with silk and departed without much ado, explaining that King Kamsa was performing a yagna in Mathura and these were gifts given away to all households in his kingdom on the successful conclusion of the yagna. The curious maid lifted the silk and saw an array of sweets and fruits. And in the middle was a small aggressively postured elephant exquisitely cast in silver.

Receiving gifts into Nanda Raya’s household was not unusual for the maid. Only yesterday, the village blacksmith and the snake-charmer had come in with gifts for Krishna. The gifts, if they were play-things, were held in a basket by the side of the crib and given to Krishna for him to play. When he threw them away, they were collected back in the basket and another set given. This time the maid took the silver elephant straight to Krishna in the crib. Just as with any new toy, it seemed to catch the baby’s interest as he held it in his small hands turning it from side to side, taking it to his mouth and sucking on it.

Back in Kamsa’s palace, the sorcerer set his mirror set in front of the audience. When the fog cleared they could see Krishna engaged with the silver elephant. The crib and the basket of toys were located on the wide and low-ceilinged pathway lining on all four sides of a rectangular inner courtyard open to the sky.

Kamsa: ‘Siddhesa, the time is right. Start your fireworks now. There’s no one around. Don’t waste a minute.’

Siddhesa, thereupon, sat in a trance eyes closed chanting some mantras inaudibly. Amazingly they could see in the mirror the silver elephant in Krishna’s hands turning into grey and was growing in size like a balloon being inflated. It jumped out of the crib on to the courtyard floor as it could not be held in Krishna’s little hands any longer. All the time, Krishna’s visage sported not fear but a quizzical look at the proceedings of an extraordinary nature. Within half a minute the transformation was complete – a fully grown aggressively postured elephant stood in the courtyard, its aspect visibly malevolent. As it paused and surveyed the surroundings, it was distracted by the maid raising a scream at this sight. While the sorcerer was trying hard to get it elephant-handle the baby (it can’t be ‘manhandle’) the animal instinctively charged after maid. Only when the maid ran out to the back of the house through a narrow pathway, the stymied animal stopped and looked back. Finally the baby in the crib caught its attention. Slowly and menacingly it headed towards the crib. While the low-ceiling of the pathway effectively prevented the animal from stepping right up to the crib, it did not stop the animal from standing at the edge of the courtyard and putting out its trunk over the crib as if to catch the aroma – the baby was anointed with fragrant sandalwood oil. This time it appeared intent on an evil purpose, not distracted by the shouts and the screams of the servants of the house who had collected by now. An occasional lash of the trunk drove away those who ventured nearer to poke and beat with bamboo sticks. .And now the trunk arched over and around Krishna ready to grab the baby.

That’s when a huge cobra, thick as the girth of a fat tree, coiling around the basket raised its head. The mark on its hood appeared familiar to the horrified maid. Now she remembered seeing it on the toy snake presented by the snake-charmer the day before. She had routinely placed it in the basket along with the miniature iron cart from the blacksmith and forgotten all about it With all the eyes following the rogue elephant no one had noticed the snake too coming to life by Siddhesa’s mantras at the same time as the elephant.

The snake slithered to a spot between the crib and the elephant; it looked as if Sesh Nag was pressed into service to take care of the matter on hand. It was a fearsome sight to see the snake, sway its uplifted head and hiss that sounded like wind in hurt and fury. The elephant was thwarted. Withdrawing its trunk, it shuffled its feet looking for an opening. The snake, nimble despite its girth, met the elephant in its every move. It was, for a moment, like the elephant and the cobra dancing to a beat and the baby watching it in amusement.

Frustrated at this impasse the elephant let out what sounded like a highly exaggerated grunt and made a life-or-death charge at the baby disregarding the snake. As it crashed its head against the low-ceiling of the pathway, Siddhesa’s spell lost its hold at the end of six minutes of life. Both the elephant and snake froze in their tracks and dropped ‘dead’, shrinking back to their former life-less sizes. The horror-struck servants regained their wits, rushed to the crib with trepidition, found to their great relief and joy the baby unharmed, smothered an amused Krishna with kisses and passed him around.

Seeing the plot fail, Kamsa vented his anger fisting the sorcerer’s mirror into pieces. He walked away crest-fallen leaving the sorcerer and Dhurmana behind to pick up the pieces.

End

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2 Responses to Kamsa Proposes, Krishna Disposes

  1. Nithya says:

    Aditi liked the story esp. the part where the snake fights the elephant

    Like

  2. Trisha says:

    Just awesome. i dont remember reading this story. thanks for sharing it with us.

    Like

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