Grandma's Tales of Shri Krishna
Shipping (per book) : 39
Genre : Fiction
TARGET AUDIENCE: Age group: 7-13
Pages : 70
Grandma's Tales of Shri Krishna
There has been a tradition in Indian families of Grandmothers spinning tales from ancient mythology, which not only hands down the stories of yore but also keeps the grandchildren in rapt attention. This book â€˜Grandmaâ€™s Tales of Sri Krishnaâ€™ by Lalitha Balasubramanian is an engrossing one, sure to delight the children of present times, who are more often than not deprived of interaction with their grandparents. The stories include, amongst others, the birth of Krishna in the prison of Mathura and meanders through baby Krishnaâ€™s triumphs over several demons, his amazing childhood pranks, his majestic dance on Kaliyaâ€™s head, the lifting of the Govardhan mountain and the slaying of the wicked Kamsa, apart from his famed friendship with Sudama, a poor Brahmin boy during his Gurukul days.
“Ha! Vacations at last!” exclaimed Gopal, pulling his twin brother to the crowded car parking space outside their school. Their mother was waiting for them and they ran into her welcoming arms. As usual, the twins excitedly recounted the happenings of the day and the enjoyable school party held for the children before they set off for their annual vacations.
“Are we going to Grandma’s place, Mom?” asked Shyam in excitement.
“Yes dear,” said his mother. “This time, Kala Aunty’s children are also going to spend their vacations with Grandma. So, you will have company. Enjoy yourselves as much as you can, both of you.”
Kala was Vijaya’s sister and she had two children.
“But Mom, are you not coming with us?” asked Shyam.
“No,” replied Vijaya. “Dad is getting transferred to Bangalore. So we will be busy with the movers and packers. I will leave you at Grandma’s house and come back here, okay. But be sure not to trouble her and Grandpa too much.”
“Don’t you worry Mom,” assured Gopal. “Will Kala Aunty stay on?”
“Yes dear,” replied Vijaya. “Your cousins, Vinay and Neeta will also be there. Grandma will not be able to manage all of you alone. Kala Aunty will help her out.”
“Goody!” exclaimed Shyam. “Aunty can take care of the cooking and other chores while Grandma tells us stories.”
Gopal too nodded his head with excitement.
“It is not so easy, boys,” said Vijaya. “Grandma has her puja and other activities. Take care not to pester her too much for stories.”
“Okay, Mom,” promised the twins.
They got into the car looking forward to seeing their grandparents and their cousins again.
It was a three hour scenic drive to Grandma’s house in Pune from Mumbai along the super Mumbai-Pune Expressway and the children enjoyed their snacks at the food court at Lonavala. They bought a few packets of the famous Maganlal Chikki for their Grandparents. As they approached the lane leading to their grandparents’ ancestral home, a beautiful villa, with a neatly arranged flower garden with multi hued flowers blooming gloriously in the sunlight, they felt a sense of pride and familiarity.
Grandma and Grandpa were waiting for them at the portico. The twins ran into their outstretched arms and hugged them tightly, as Vijaya looked on smilingly.
“The children are not to be seen. Has Kala arrived?” she asked.
“Yes, dear” answered Grandma. “She just arrived a few minutes ago and is giving the children a bath after which all of you can have lunch.”
“Okay, Mamma,” said Vijaya. “But I will have to leave immediately after lunch as the Packers are coming today. Are you sure you will be able to manage these two for a few days?”
“Oh,yes,” answered Grandma emphatically. “Kala is there with me. So it should not be a problem.”
“Hi, Vijaya.” Kala greeted her sister warmly. “Hi, kids.” The children loved their Kala Aunty and ran to give her a huge hug. By then the excitement was too much to bear for Vinay and Neeta and they rushed to meet the twins. They were chattering non-stop for a few minutes and Grandma had to call out to them to stop. After the children got dressed and ready, all of them sat for a delicious lunch. Vijaya reminded the kids to not trouble their grandparents too much and got ready to leave.
“Grandma, when will you tell us stories?” asked Gopal, as soon as his mother left.
“Yes Grandma, we want to hear stories,” the others chorused.
“See children,” said Grandma. “I have work during the day. But I will definitely tell you a story in the night before you go to sleep, is that okay?”
The children nodded their heads in agreement and then went off to play.
After dinner, true to her words, Grandma called out to the children and said “What story do you want to hear?”
The children clapped their hands in glee and cried out in unison, “Krishna stories.”
They sat in a huddle near Grandma and waited anxiously for her to begin. She would be telling them stories night after night, beginning with the birth of Krishna and meandering her way through his childhood adventures and his confrontation with many demons, after which she would tell them about the death of Kamsa, the wicked king, at the hands of Krishna.
The Birth of Krishna
Grandma smiled as she saw the excitement and curiosity on the faces of the children as they sat looking expectantly for her to begin.
“Which story are you going to tell us, Grandma?” asked Vinay.
“I will begin with the birth of Sri Krishna, which is itself a very interesting tale,” answered Grandma. “Did you know that Lord Mahavishnu manifested on earth as Sri Krishna to bring an end to the suffering of human folk at the hands of evil demon kings like Kamsa and Shishupal? And did you know that Krishna was born in a prison?”
“No, Grandma,” replied Neeta. “Please tell us.”
“Then listen,” began Grandma. “The Kingdom of Mathura wore a festive air as the wedding of Princess Devaki, was being solemnised with Vasudeva. Devaki was the daughter of Devaka, the brother of King Ugrasena. Prince Kamsa was the son of Ugrasena. He was wicked but he loved his cousin sister so much that he wanted to drive the chariot carrying the married couple. But as he drove the chariot, the entire sky darkened and amidst lightning and thunder, a divine prophesy was heard from above.
“Kamsa, you fool! The eighth child of Devaki, whom you love so much, will kill you.”
Kamsa was stunned. He flew into a rage and drew his sword to kill Devaki.
“Don’t kill Devaki,” said Vasudeva restraining him by his hand. “What harm has she done to you?”
“Did you not hear the divine prophesy?” asked Kamsa angrily. “Her eighth son will be my Nemesis.”
“Wait, Kamsa,” pleaded Vasudeva. “You know I am a man of truth. I have never told a lie in my life. And I give my word that I will personally hand over all the children born of Devaki to you. Leave her, please.”
Kamsa knew Vasudeva to be a man who was true to his word. And killing Devaki on her wedding day would demean him in front of his countrymen. Thinking thus, he left Vasudeva to lead Devaki to his abode.
But Kamsa was surrounded by evil courtiers who convinced him that he was making a mistake by setting Devaki and Vasudeva free.
“How can you trust anyone to give up their own children to die in your hands?” they asked.
Persuaded by them, Kamsa imprisoned Devaki and Vasudeva. He appointed many soldiers to guard them day and night. King Ugrasena tried to convince his son that what he was doing was very wrong. But, the wicked Kamsa overthrew his father and jailed him too. He then usurped the throne to become King of Mathura.
Time passed by. Devaki gave birth to a son in the jail. Kamsa came rushing to the prison. True to his word Vasudeva sorrowfully handed over the child to him. With tears rolling down her cheeks, Devaki begged her brother to take pity on the new born baby. But Kamsa grabbed the child and dashed him to the ground. He did the same with six children that were born to Devaki. When the seventh was to be born, the child was transferred by Goddess Yogmaya to Rohini, Vasudeva’s other wife at Gokul. This was Balarama, an avathar of Adishesha. People in Mathura thought the Devaki had lost her child.
In time, she became pregnant for the eighth time, but both Devaki and Vasudeva were very sad as they expected the evil Kamsa to kill this child too. They prayed to Lord Mahavishnu to deliver them from their sorrow.
At the stroke of midnight on ashtami day with the auspicious star Rohini on the ascendant, Krishna was born to Devaki. He appeared before his parents as an extraordinary divine child with four arms holding the Conch, Sudarshan chakra, Mace and a lotus. They were wonderstruck by this magnificent appearance of the Lord. However, they immediately prayed to the Lord to change his appearance to a normal child, as they were afraid of the evil King Kamsa and his soldiers who were guarding the prison. The Lord pacified them saying, “Mother, don’t worry. By the effect of Maya, everyone is in deep slumber.”
He then gave Vasudeva instructions, “Carry me to Gokul, where Yashoda, the wife of Nandagopa, has given birth to a female child who is actually Goddess Yogmaya. Leave me there and bring back that girl child to the prison.”
The Lord then transformed himself into a normal child. To their astonishment, the chains around Vasudeva’s hands and legs fell off by themselves. Vasudeva put his son in a basket and carried the basket on his head. The doors of the prison automatically opened and as he walked swiftly across the corridor he found all the soldiers guarding the prison fast asleep. He walked along towards the Yamuna river. It was raining heavily and Adishesha sheltered the Lord in the basket with his hood serving as an umbrella. Seeing the whirling waters of the Yamuna, Vasudeva was worried. ‘How do I cross this river?’ he thought to himself. But as he walked forward, the tiny feet of Krishna touched the water, and the river magically parted and made a path for him to walk through to the other side. Vasudeva could not believe his eyes, but realising the power of the Lord on his head and thanking him for his mercy, he crossed over to Gokul on the other side. Everyone was asleep in Gokul. Vasudeva reached Nandagopa’s house, where Yashoda had given birth to a female child. Yashoda too was fast asleep. Obeying the instructions of the Lord, Vasudeva placed baby Krishna near Yashoda and took the female child along with him. Soon he reached the prison and as soon as he placed the child on the floor, as if by magic, the chains bound him as before, the doors shut, the guards woke up and the child started crying. Hearing the cries, the guards rushed to inform King Kamsa about the birth of Devaki’s eighth child. The King who was forever worried about the birth of his nemesis, came to the prison brandishing his sword. On seeing him, Devaki shivered with fear and pleaded, “Brother, this is a female child. What harm is she going to do to you? Take pity on her and at least leave this child for us.”
But the wicked Kamsa was adamant. He plucked the girl from his sister’s hands and wanted to dash her to the ground, when lo and behold! The child escaped from his arms to the sky. Suddenly there was a brilliant light in the whole room. Everyone shaded their eyes from the brilliance and slowly the child assumed her original appearance as Goddess Yogmaya.
“Oh, evil King!” cried the Goddess. “Neither you nor anyone else can cause me any harm. The boy who is going to kill you is already born elsewhere and is well and happy.”
So saying, she disappeared from sight. Kamsa was stunned and terrified. He walked back to the palace despondently. He plotted with his courtiers as to how to search for and kill the child, who was to be his nemesis.
Meanwhile at Gokul, there was rejoicing everywhere as the people celebrated the birth of a son to their chief Nandagopa and his wife Yashoda. The entire village wore a festive look as the newborn baby with blue skin, a merry twinkle in his eyes and an infectious smile drew them like bees are drawn to nectar. They danced and sang throughout the day and brought attractive gifts for the child, who unknown to them, was to be their saviour in days to come.”
Grandma paused at this juncture. The children were listening intently to the story of Krishna’s birth and wanted Grandma to continue. But seeing the time and the need for the children to sleep, Grandma said, “That’s enough for today. Tomorrow, I will tell you the story of baby Krishna’s encounter with three terrible demons, called Putana, Sakatasura and Trinavarta.”
The children nodded and went reluctantly to sleep.
Salvation for Putana, Sakatasura & Trinavarta
The next day, after dinner, the children crowded round Grandma to hear her next story. And Grandma began, “In Mathura, King Kamsa was forever terrorised by the thought that his preordained slayer was alive and well somewhere. He and his coterie of evil minded ministers were devising a plot to search for the child and kill him.
Suddenly Kamsa remembered Putana, the demoness with magical powers. He summoned her to his court.
“Putana, my friend,” he said. “A divine prophecy declared that Devaki’s eighth child will be the cause of my death. But I don’t know where he is. So I want you to kill all the children born on that particular day.”
Putana agreed and went looking for children born on that day and killed them one by one. It was then that she heard about a beautiful child born to Nandagopa and Yashoda in Gokul. She at once went to Gokul in the guise of a beautiful young woman. She watched from afar the celebrations at Yashoda’s house.
Baby Krishna was the apple of the eye for all the villagers of Gokul. His endearing smile and his beautiful curly locks attracted everyone and there was a crowd of women always surrounding the divine child. In fact, Yashoda had to request everyone to leave when she had to feed him or make him sleep.
Putana watched all the extraordinary attention bestowed on the child with curiosity. She came to the conclusion that this child must be the one the divine prophesy had mentioned as Kamsa’s nemesis. Evil by nature, she devised a plan to kill the child. She dressed herself like the cowherd women of Gokul, and joined the crowd who frequented the residence of Yashoda to have a glimpse of the baby. The divine child saw her and smiled. Yashoda, as usual had to beg everybody to leave after some time, so that she could feed her child. While everyone left, Putana lingered on. Yashoda knew everyone in Gokul, and this woman seemed a stranger to her. But her attractive demeanour and her pose of humility made her ask, “Who are you? Where do you come from? I have never seen you in Gokul before.”
Putana replied, “Yashoda rani, I am a poor woman who has come a long way to see your child. Please allow me to hold him in my arms and fondle him. Please.”
Feeling that she was genuinely a good woman, Yashoda allowed her to hold the baby. She then went inside to finish her chores. Seeing that nobody was around, Putana nestled him to her breast where she had applied poison. The divine child suckled and drew not only the milk but also her life. The demonness could not bear the pain and ran out with the child clinging to her. Her attractive form changed and she reverted to her terrible original form as she fell down dead crashing a few trees around her.
Hearing the great thud, Yashoda, Rohini and others ran out. Horrified at seeing the huge demonness, Yashoda fainted in fear. But the other women noticed the innocent baby playing on top of Putana. They grabbed the child and woke Yashoda from her trance by sprinkling water over her. Yashoda took her child in her arms and hugged him close as though afraid that some harm would befall him again. Nandagopa and the others who had gone to the fields came rushing home. They too had heard the deafening sound. Seeing Putana, Nandagopa realised that a great danger to his child had been thwarted. The cowherds then proceeded to cut Putana’s body into pieces and set it on fire. A fragrant aroma rose from the pyre. Putana had obtained salvation from the merciful Lord. She had been absolved of all her sins, by virtue of the Lord’s merciful touch while feeding.
The news of Putana’s death reached King Kamsa. He was terrified. A powerful demonness like Putana could not have been killed by an ordinary person leave alone a baby. This confirmed his analysis that Nandagopa’s baby was the child whom he was searching for. He called upon another powerful demon called Sakatasura.
“Come my friend,” the King welcomed Sakatasura. “I want you to do me a favour. You must have heard about the precocious child of Nandagopa, who killed our friend, Putana. I want you to kill that child.”
Sakatasura was willing to do anything for his friend. He also had the capability of not being visible. So he at once started out to Gokul to find this extraordinary child.
There in Gokul, everyone was in a festive mood as the baby Krishna had just completed three months and crawled out of the house. Pujas were being conducted by various learned Brahmins to celebrate this event. Nandagopa was gifting them cows and other riches. Materials for the puja, like milk and rose water etc were placed in urns and vessels on a cart. Yashoda had placed the child under the shade of the cart and was busy looking after the guests and food preparations. The invisible Sakatasura took this opportunity to hide in the cart. He wanted to kill the child and advanced towards him, but realizing his motive, baby Krishna kicked him far and away. Sakatasura fell dead.
The children of Gokul were watching over the baby, when suddenly they saw him kick at the cart with his soft legs. They were stunned to see the cart upset, the axle of the cart broken and the milk and other items spilt on the floor. Hearing the noise, Nandagopa and Yashoda along with other villagers came running towards their child. They found him kicking his legs joyously amidst the spilt milk and broken cart. The children tried to explain that baby Krishna had kicked and upset the cart, but nobody took any notice of their ramblings as they could not believe that a three month old child could kick so hard. Relieved that the child was unharmed they turned their concentration on the vedic rites and pujas of the day.
The news of Satakasura’s death reached the ears of Kamsa. He was astonished and horrified. A demon of Satakusara’s proportions and power, destroyed by a mere three month old child! Unbelievable, yet true!
Kamsa started wondering whether he could enlist anyone else’s help in annihilating this precocious child.
The courtiers reminded him of Trinavarta, another powerful demon. Kamsa summoned Trinavarta, who readily agreed to try his hand at attacking Krishna.
One day, as the Gopas left for their customary work of grazing their cattle in the meadows, Trinavarta made his visit to Gokul. He looked around the settlement searching for Krishna. At that moment, Yashoda came calling out to Balaram to see whether he knew where Krishna was. Balram at once led Yashoda to the place where Krishna was being surrounded by the other children of Gokul. This helped Trinavarta to identify Krishna. He waited for an opportunity when Krishna would be left alone. To his dismay, Yashoda carried the child indoors to feed him milk. However, suddenly she felt Krishna becoming heavier and heavier. Panting for breath with the exertion of carrying the heavy child, she set him down for a while. Trinavarta seized upon this opportunity and converted himself into a cyclonish whirlwind. The entire atmosphere turned dark and hazy. Dust blew all over the city, making Yashoda and the others shield their eyes from the flying sand particles. Yashoda tried searching for her baby and when she could not locate him, she burst into tears and fainted. In the meanwhile, Trinavarta kidnapped Krishna and flew carrying the child high up in the air. But lo and behold, Krishna started becoming heavier by the minute till the demon could actually not hold him anymore because of his weight. Krishna then raised his proportions and caught hold of the demon by his neck. Unable to bear the weight of the child and being strangled by Krishna, the terrible demon, Trinavarta fell down on the ground with a huge thunder like sound. The villagers were astounded to see the huge demon on the ground with baby Krishna happily playing over his body. They grabbed the child and gave him to his inconsolable mother Yashoda, who smothered him with kisses.”
Grandma paused at this juncture.
Shyam at once asked, “Grandma, tell us more.”
The others followed suit. “Please Grandma, tell us more.”
“No, children,” exclaimed Grandma. “I have told you about the salvation of three demons at the hands of baby Krishna. That’s enough for today.”
“But, Grandma,” asked Gopal. “How do you call it salvation? The demons were killed, were they not?”
“Yes, dear,” answered Grandma. “But they attained their death at the hands of Lord Krishna, which in itself was the result of some great deeds they had done in previous births. Their death was a blessing for them as it relieved them from the eternal cycle of birth and death. So it is called ‘moksha’ or salvation.”
“Now children,” she continued. “I want you to sleep well, and tomorrow, I will narrate Krishna’s childhood pranks which he played on the doting Gopis of Gokul.”
This book leads the reader through the interesting stories of Krishnaâ€™s birth, childhood, miracles and friendship. Written as an interactive story telling session between a grandmother and her grandchildren, the book delves into the depth of Indian Mythological tales providing a learning curve while holding the keen interest of the reader.
About the Author:
Lalitha Balasubramanian graduated in Science from the University of Mumbai and did her Post Graduation in Journalism from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavanâ€™s Institute of Mass Communication and Management. She worked in the Editorial department of the Institute for Research in Reproduction (ICMR), Mumbai, before switching over to freelance writing. She has published over 200 articles for newspapers and magazines. She has also published two non-fiction books in the Travel Genre, titled â€˜Kerala The Divine Destinationâ€™ (2015), and â€˜Temples in Maharashtra â€“ A Travel Guideâ€™ (2017) and a childrenâ€™s novel â€œTwins at the Ancient Villaâ€ (2009). â€œGrandmaâ€™s tales of Sri Krishnaâ€ is her first foray into mythological fiction for children. Apart from writing, Lalitha is also interested in the Fine Arts and classical music, and has been trained in Carnatic music. A voracious reader, she is also a keen follower of sports. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.lalithabalasubramanian.com