The Lost Kingdom of Krishna

Deepa Vishal posted under Arkalypse Short Stories on 2023-07-06

“No! This cannot be true! Tell me you are wrong, Daruka! Please tell me you are absolutely wrong!” Inspite of the lump in his throat, Daruka managed to say. “I am afraid this is true, Arjuna.” A gut-wrenching sob escaped Arjuna as he collapsed on the floor in sheer grief. Daruka huddled beside him, placing a hand on Arjuna’s shoulder. “Now is not the time to grieve. Remember his last words. We need to act soon.” No sooner did he utter these words, both men heard a tremendous roar erupt from the sea. Arjuna wiped his eyes and rushed outside the hall where he had been staying. At a distance he could see huge waves threateningly rising in the sea. A huge splash hit the boulevard that separated the land from the sea. A heavy torrent of water gushed out, taking the people standing there by shock.  The warrior in Arjuna arose. Setting aside his own grief, he stepped out on the road and yelled. “Krishna is no more. The water-level in the sea is rising and the city is in danger. I need every man who has a chariot to come for help. We are evacuating the city right now! Spread the word!” It took some time but Daruka and Arjuna, with the help of few able-bodied men, gathered as many people as they could in chariots. Daruka lead his chariot to the front. Looking back, he shouted at the others. “Follow my path! Do not stop, do not look back.” When Daruka looked at Arjuna, the later was staring at a distance as if to find some trace of…  “Arjuna, it is time. The sea is getting impatient. There are lives to be saved.” Daruka gently reminded him. With tears in his eyes, Arjuna nodded. Several flicks were heard as every charioteer assembled there signaled the horses to start running.  As they reached the end of one lane, the last charioteer looked back just for a second. Fear gripped him tight. There was no boulevard to be seen. The sea was slowly reclaiming the city. The chariots sped away carrying the people to safety, even as the water from the sea gushed over the lanes of the city and started devouring the houses, halls and everything that stood there.  Parth woke with a gasp. His breathing was erratic. He switched on the lights in the room and grabbed a bottle from which he gulped water. It took a few minutes for his heartbeat to even out and for his breathing to calm down. He reclined over a pillow and closed his eyes. It was the same dream that he had been seeing since the past few days but this time, the images had been crystal-clear. It was as if he was in the city along with Arjuna and Daruka. He tried to brush it off as his subconscious mind’s way of dealing with the daunting prospect of deep-diving that he was about to do the next day. But a part of him knew that the dream was not just a dream, it held some meaning. In his dreams, he saw the city – large and beautiful.  It was protected on one side by the majestic sea. Parth often saw towering pillars in the city in his dreams. He was fascinated by the two symbols etched in the pillars – a conch and a discus. For some reasons these symbols were clearly embedded in his mind.  He often saw glimpses of a man – an extremely handsome man, decked in royal clothes with a playful smile on his face, as if he knew a secret that no one else knew. Parth got very brief glimpses of this man but from what he saw in the dream, he could make out that this man was much loved by everyone in the city.  Although Parth had been having these dreams since a few days, it was tonight, his first night in the city named Dwarka that he had seen the events that preceded a sea reclaiming an entire city that nestled beside it.  In the dream, he had heard a gentle whisper tonight. You will find me again, Parth. He guessed that this was uttered by the man of his dreams. It was this part that left him unsettled. Who was he supposed to find, and how?? Parth looked at his watch and sighed. It was 3.30 in the morning. In just two hours, he had to be at the port. He was among the many divers chosen to assist in an underwater-archeological project that sought to dive deep into the Arabian sea at Dwarka and search for some signs of any civilization that might have existed there.  Perhaps this is what prompted the dream, Parth thought. Yes, this must be it.  Around 6 in the morning, Parth stood beside the other divers and listened to the project in-charge who was giving a brief glimpse about the project.  “It is a well-known legend that an ancient city named Dwaraka was submerged into the sea.” Parth felt a chill run over him. Was this the city he had seen in his dreams? The in-charge continued. “For many years, it was believed that we have lost it for good. But here, at the Arabian Sea bordering the city of new Dwarka, our submarines picked up some signals of objects deep beneath the sea. It is our endeavor to check for any signs that could possibly point to the lost city of Dwaraka.” The in-charge gestured towards the city. “References in ancient text describe the location of Dwaraka and it matches the co-ordinates of this city. If you find anything that looks like it belongs to a civilization, please pay special attention towards it. Keep your water-proof cameras on and good luck to all of you!” Parth took a deep breath and with the team of divers, he dived into the sea. All his fears and misgivings melted when he dived beneath the water. The underwater world was where Parth felt most at home. Years of scuba-diving had made him forge a connection with the marine world. Here he was in his element, one with the marine life that adorned the aquatic world.  A long time went by in swimming with no apparent result. The team had reached a depth where only professional divers could swim. As Parth reached a point, he felt goosebumps break out on his skin. The area ahead was dark and the torch that his scuba-diving gear held atop his forehead dimly showed a structure. Parth gestured eagerly to his team. The combined lights of the torches provided enough light to see ahead.  If Parth could, he would have gasped. There appeared several columns ahead of them, pillars to be precise. Something about the ruined structures felt incredibly familiar to Parth. He eagerly swam ahead and touched one of the pillars. His finger could trace out a shape – a conch. Feeling ecstatic, he ran his fingers over the pillar and traced another shape – a discus.  He stood transfixed as his mind tried to come to terms with the discovery.  It seemed like he had discovered the ruins of the lost city of Dwaraka.  *** The aura in the port that evening was nothing short of a jubilant celebration. The natives thronged in large numbers, chanting ‘Jai Shri Krishna!’ The press had a field day, every journalist from every well-known press agency conducting live programs from the port. Many of these journalists were searching for a diver to pounce upon and extract the details. Parth had signed a pact with the underwater archeological department that he would not release any news of any findings. He secretly felt grateful for the hype surrounding the Arabian Sea. It gave him a good opportunity to whisk away to his hotel for a much-needed shower.  On an impulse, he decided to visit the temple of Dwarkadish situated on the banks of the sea where he had gone diving. One hour later, he was inside the temple, staring at the deity of Lord Dwarkadish in silent awe and wonder. The deity was every inch the king that the natives worshipped him to be.  Parth sat cross-legged on the floor of the temple, searching the deity’s handsome face for answers. What really happened there? Why am I seeing those visions? Who am I supposed to find? As Parth closed his eyes for meditating, the visions came again, this time with more intensity. *** “I am a mother, Krishna! I do not understand your concepts of Karma or detachment! My entire clan perished, just as you had schemed for it. I lost all my sons. From the very depths of my heart, I curse you – your entire clan will be wiped out, just like my own!” Krishna opened his eyes and sighed. Gandhari’s curse was coming into effect. He looked at the Gomti sea, which was usually gentle and calm, and which, today, seemed to be restless. He looked out yonder where the sea met the Arab Mahasagar and could make out a change in the rhythm of the waves. They seemed to be restraining themselves with great difficulty, as if eager to unleash their true force.  It is almost time now, Krishna thought as he heard voices gaining volume around him. He looked at his Yadava clan, his relatives who were drunkenly exchanging verbal insults. One of them took out a sword from the scabbard. The noise of the sword being drawn out seemed to add to the aggression and within minutes, there was the screeching sound of several swords being drawn. One of the guys killed the person with whom he had been fighting verbally. Very soon, a riot broke out as drunken warriors started fighting with no consideration for their lives or for their own relatives.  Krishna watched them in silence. He saw Balarama watching the fight in disgust. Balarama turned his gaze to Krishna and the brothers exchanged a long look. I am not willing to live in a world where you won’t be there. Balarama seemed to be conveying to Krishna from afar. With a nod, Balarama left the scene and Krishna knew that this was the last time he had seen Balarama.  As more and more people joined the senseless fight, Krishna withdrew from the scene and walked towards a grove of trees that bordered a forest. There, under a large tree, he sat cross-legged, curious about how his end would come.  Jara, the hunter cursed the people who were creating such a ruckus and scaring away the animals that came towards the edge of the forest to drink water from the pond that lay beside the grove. He tiptoed, alert for any kind of movement or noise. A rustling sound came from the grove. The hunter turned towards the direction from where the sound had come. At a distance, he could see what appeared to him like the mouth of a deer nibbling on grass. He took out an arrow which had poison dabbed over its tip and let it out on the 'deer'. His victorious smirk turned into a horrified grimace as he heard the unmistakable sound of a human letting out a painful sigh. He ran in that direction dreading what he would find. All his fears turned true when he saw Krishna lying on the ground in pain, his toe bleeding out and his foot turning blue as the poison seeped in.  "Forgive me! I didn't know you were here. I thought it was a deer! Please forgive me!" The hunter cried out in dismay.  "Don't worry. This was bound to happen." Krishna said, gritting his teeth. "Can you do me a favour? Go in the direction of the riots; you will find a person named Daruka there. He is the only warrior who has not joined the riot. Can you please send him to me?"  The hunter ran like someone possessed. With all his strength, Krishna rose and positioned himself against the tree, leaning on its trunk.  He closed his eyes. So this is it... This is how I depart.  The sea started making ominous sounds. Krishna could only hope that Daruka would find him in time. There was one last duty left to do. Glimpses of his life flashed before him. He envisioned the one person for whom he had broken his rule of staying detached - Yashoda. Just thinking about her, his mother, not biological, but whom his heart called out as his Maiyya, brought a bittersweet smile on his face. Although she had departed a long time ago, the memory of her immense love for him soothed him. He thought about his beloved Gokul and Vrindavan, the places that were an important part of his childhood. He had planned to visit them one more time.  Next he knew, someone was calling out his name amidst heavy sobbing. He opened his eyes and found the blurry image of his charioteer Daruka. "Ah, Daruka, my loyal friend, you came! Tell me, are they all dead?” He asked, referring to his clan. “Yes. No one survived the reckless riot.” Daruka said. Krishna sighed. “It is time for me as well to leave the earth." Daruka shook his head, his sobs rendering him speechless.  "Grieve not for me, my friend. You have an important task. When I leave the world, this city will submerge under water. I can feel a strange restlessness in the sea today. I have a feeling that only my presence is stopping the calamity. Rush to Arjuna and tell him to take as many people as he can to Hastinapur and help them to settle there and start life anew. I know you both will not let me down. Act swiftly, for I feel the sea fighting against all restraints, wanting to be let free." "How can I leave you, Krishna?" Daruka finally managed to say. Krishna smiled. "It is I who am leaving, Daruka. Go, leave now. But before you leave, can you please take out the arrow? It is far too painful." Daruka pulled out the arrow from Krishna's toe. The later sighed in relief. "Much better now. You have been a great companion, Daruka. I bid you farewell. Do not linger now." With tears in his eyes, Daruka bowed to Krishna and ran towards the city.   For a second, Krishna felt Arjuna’s mind seeking him out. He smiled and whispered. You will find me again, Parth.  Krishna waited for his end, alone at the grove, but not for long. He heard chants and prayers. His blurry vision could make out a host of celestial beings standing before him with folded hands and smiles on their faces. He smelled the flowers that the heavens were showering on him. He got a glimpse of a glittering chariot that was waiting for him. Having done his last duty to humankind, Krishna closed his eyes for the final time and with a contented smile, he left the mortal world.   The sea roared, as if lamenting the death of her favourite Krishna. The Arab Mahasagar forgot to be gentle and let loose, enormous waves that collided with the waters of the Gomti river. With a huge splash, the first of the waves ran over the city. People screamed and ran for refuge. Many of the natives joined Daruka and Arjuna, ensuring the safety of women and children foremost. The city was soon resonating with the sounds of screams, sobs, collapsing walls and houses and finally, the sounds of chariots speeding away, carrying people to safety. Halls collapsed, homes got washed away, pillars submerged, roads destroyed and all that remained was water. Within a short period of time, the sea claimed the city of Dwaraka and Krishna’s kingdom was seemingly lost to humankind forever. *** Parth opened his eyes as the tears flowed. The visions had overwhelmed him completely. His hands shook as he folded them and gazed in reverence at the deity.  Besides him, a group of people were discussing about the legends associated with Krishna. “Krishna is also called as Parthasarathy.” One of the elders in the group said. “Parth is another name for Arjuna, and Sarathy means a charioteer. Since Krishna was Arjuna’s charioteer in the great war of Mahabharata, he came to be called by this name.” Parth smiled through his tears. So, this is what you meant, Krishna! Those words were not for me, they were for your bestie Arjuna. But you know what, I found you too!  Parth knelt on the floor offering a full-fledged Namaskar to the deity of Dwarkadish. He knew that something in him had changed forever when he left the temple. He sat on a rock that faced the sea and watched the proceedings in silence. A lot of police had gathered to curtail the crowd and the press.  Parth gazed at the sea. Today, she was calm and gentle, her waves playing in a rhythmic melody. The sea’s gentle waves seemed to be subdued in a wordless apology – an apology to an Age for having taken away an entire kingdom. The waves spoke of the sea’s grief – grief at having lost Krishna and for having devoured an entire city in rage. They spoke of the sea’s longing for Krishna. With the ebb and the fall of waves, it felt to Parth as if the sea were sighing in satisfaction, a satisfaction that came from the knowledge that the secret she so wanted to be discovered was finally out. The very sea that had wiped a kingdom was proof that an extra-ordinary being had walked on the earth, performed marvelous acts and taught the world, a way to live life – in wonder and awe, but with detachment and dispassion, like a dew-drop on a lotus-leaf.  The kingdom of Krishna was no longer lost.  Notes: This fictional narrative is based on some events mentioned in the Bhagavatha Purana, an ancient text that chronicles the life and times of Krishna. The scripture mentions that Krishna’s death occurred due to an arrow shot by a hunter who thought he was aiming at an animal. While he was dying, Krishna called out to his charioteer Daruka and warned him that Dwaraka was about to submerge and that Arjuna and Daruka should save as many people as they could.  The city of ancient Dwaraka is said to have been built by the celestial architect Vishwakarma on the orders of Krishna and is often referred to as Krishna’s kingdom.  Gandhari’s curse is something that has been passed down as a legend. Having stayed blindfolded all her life, she wanted to pass on the power of her vision to her son Duryodhana just before he was to fight the Pandav prince Bheem during the war of Mahabharata. She had told Duryodhana to bare his entire body before her so that when she opened her blindfold and set her vision on him, he would receive the entire strength of her vision. However, Krishna teased Duryodhana about baring his all for his mother and hence the later tied a cloth that covered the lower portion of his body.  This portion turned out to be the cause of his death as Bheem killed Duryodhana by breaking his thigh. In a state of despair and grief, Gandhari cursed Krishna that he would lose his entire clan and kingdom.  Underwater excursions have found many relics under the Arabian sea that carry the insignia and symbols representing the time when the ancient Dwaraka is said to have existed. It is believed that the new Dwarka is situated on the site where the ancient Dwaraka used to be. There are several documentaries that discuss the findings in the Arabian sea and attribute them to belong to the submerged city of Dwaraka.      Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!