Om Shri Krishnah Sharanam Mamah
Oh beloved Krishna, I surrender to you oh lord, take me under your shelter

It is said that chanting Shri Krishna’s name takes away the grief and misery from one’s life and gives that person the bliss and peace. Every god in the Hinduism philosophy has some attributes associated with them. When we think of Lord Shiva, our mind immediately goes to the serene visage of the lord meditating, with a half-moon crescent adorning his forehead. 

When we think of Lord Rama, we think of his salient attributes of modesty, dutifulness, and righteousness; and Goddess Durga is visualized as the Divine Mother. However, Lord Krishna is one god who has several attributes associated with him. He is the God who as an infant killed the demoness Putna and also showed his mother Yashoda the entire universe in his mouth. He is also the one who is remembered as the notorious child who stole butter, defeated the great serpent Kalia, danced and frolicked with the Gopis, and later on, gave the ultimate knowledge to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. 

The scriptures say that every living being has some qualities that they are born with. And, the maximum one can have is 16. And, out of all the gods that took form on the planet, Shri Krishna was the only one who possessed all the 16 qualities, making him the “Sampurna Avatar” (complete incarnation). On this Janmashtami, let’s read some stories of Lord Krishna, the god of devotion.

Story 1: The devotee of devotees

There are many stories about the birth of Lord Krishna in Srimad Bhagavatam. It is said that viewing the Lord in his child form is the rarest occurrence and even gods wait for eons to view that form. A popular story is when Lord Shiva took the form of an ascetic and entered Gokul so that he could catch a glimpse of Lord Krishna. There have been many bhajans sung about this entire scenario. However, there is another story connected to this one that few are aware of. 

It is written that after witnessing the troubles that Lord Shiva went through to glimpse the child form of Lord Krishna, Sage Narada confronted both Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna. He was amused that both Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva used to address each other as Lord and profess that he is the other’s devotee. Sage Narada implored them to declare truly as to who was whose devotee after all.

Lord Shiva proclaimed that he has always been Lord Krishna’s devotee and in every form that he has taken, Lord Shiva has managed to play the role of a devotee and a servant to him. Lord Shiva further argued that he is Lord Krishna’s biggest devotee. At this, Lord Krishna smiled and immediately countered that since Lord Shiva was his devotee, he automatically became his devotee. Sage Narada heard this exchange with tears in his eyes and bowed to both the gods. 

It was the first instance of many where Lord Krishna has said that he is the servant of his devotees. This reflects on the popular belief around Shri Krishna that He may lord over the entire universe but he will always follow the wishes of his devotees. Just like Lord Shiva is known as ‘Devon Ke Dev (the god of gods)’, Lord Krishna is known as ‘Bhakton Ke Bhakt (the devotee of devotees)’.

Story 2: Gopis and the wasted food

It would be hard to mention stories about Lord Krishna without speaking about the devotion of his Gopis towards him. It is said that one day all the Gopis had decided to cook a lavish feast for Krishna. They had fulfilled their household chores and then worked for hours at an end to make the perfect food for their beloved Krishna. After hours of effort, they had packed all the dishes in ornate vessels and walked to the house of Nandra (Lord Krishna’s father). 

When they entered the house, they saw that guests were sitting all around the table and, seated in the middle, was Krishna, who was getting his hands washed by mother Yashoda. When the guests saw the Gopis and the food they had brought, they immediately started feeling guilty, because they had just finished dinner. Everyone thought that the Gopis would be heartbroken at seeing all their efforts wasted. 

But, the Gopis had eyes only for Lord Krishna and they kept looking at him. After a few seconds, they put down the vessels that they were holding and joyously, started dancing and wringing their hands. Nandrai, mother Yashoda, and the rest of the guests were astounded as to why they would be overjoyed after seeing their efforts getting wasted? A guest took courage and asked the Gopis the reason for their joy. 

The Gopis paused in their merriment and laughingly said that all the hours they spent making the extravagant meal, they kept imagining the look of content on Krishna’s face when he would finish eating it. When we entered the house, our eyes immediately saw Krishna’s face and found the same look of contentment. It didn’t matter whose food he ate because all they lived for was that face of contentment and seeing it was the biggest joy of their life. 

It is in stories like these that we realize that glorious is the lord who evokes such devotion in people, and glorious were the Gopis who were capable of such devotion towards their lord.

Story 3: Lord Krishna: the perfect Guru

One of the few laments that Lord Krishna uttered was how his loved ones would take up unachievable Sankalpa (commitments) and how he would have to move heaven and earth to fulfill them. After all, he is the devotee of the devotees. One such instance happened after the slaughter of Abhimanyu, Arjuna’s son. Abhimanyu was killed in a tactical move called Chakravyuh, where he was killed by all the main Kaurava warriors. This move had been thought of by Jaidrath, the husband of Dushala, who was the only sister of 100 Kaurava brothers. 

After Abhimanyu’s death, Arjuna had vowed that he would kill Jaidrath by next sundown and if he wasn’t able to, he would self-immolate. The Kauravas had rejoiced greatly that night because they believed they had won the war. They were planning to hide Jaidrath in the middle of their force so that Arjuna won’t be able to reach him. And, if by any chance, Arjuna did manage to kill Jaidrath, they had another ace up their sleeve. Jaidrath’s father was a sage and he had given his son a boon that whoever killed Jaidrath would burst into a thousand pieces once Jaidrath’s head would fall on the floor. One way or another, Arjuna’s death was assured. 

So, the battle of Mahabharata raged on the next day, with Arjuna trying his best to kill the soldiers that stood between him and Jaidrath. He killed hundreds and thousands of soldiers that day but he couldn’t see Jaidrath. As the evening neared, Lord Krishna, also the one who stands on the side of righteousness, used his Sudarshan Chakra to hide the sun momentarily. The Kauravas thought that it was sundown and started celebrating. It was then that Jaidrath came out of his hiding and gloated in front of Arjuna. 

Lord Krishna took back his Sudarshan Chakra and the sun started shining again. Realizing that it wasn’t sundown yet, Jaidrath started running fearfully back to his enclosure. Arjuna took up his bow to immediately kill Jaidrath but Lord Krishna held his hand. He instructed Arjuna to cut Jaidrath’s head in such a way that it fell into the lap of his father. 

Arjuna aimed and released his arrow. The arrow cut Jaidrath’s head, and the force of it was such that it flew miles away from the battle and fell precisely in the lap of his father, Vriddhakshatra. Vriddhakshatra was sitting with his eyes closed and was shocked when he saw the head of his son in his lap. He immediately reacted and the head of Jaidrath fell on the ground. Since it was Vriddhakshatra that had thrown Jaidrath’s head on the ground, it was he who burst into a thousand pieces. 

In this story, Lord Krishna played the role of Arjuna’s guru. The task that Arjuna had taken was nearly impossible. There were limitations of time, knowledge, and the power that had protected Arjuna’s foe. But, like a Guru, Lord Krishna had given Arjuna the perfect advice, helping him not only avoid certain death but also fulfilling the commitment he had taken. 

Even in our life, it is the wisdom and blessings of our Guru which helps us traverse the seemingly impossible situations that destiny brings in front of us. Joy and misery are the two faces of the coin of life that we cannot escape. But, with the grace of the Guru or the god one worships, we can live our lives with more balance, less affected by the stumbles that come along the way.

You can hear more unheard stories of Lord Krishna and listen to Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar decode the symbolism of them in the Narada Bhakti Sutra commentary on the Art of Living app. 

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