The End ? Or Another Beginning?

Kaliyug! It’s here.

I smiled as the realisation dawned on me.

I lay there, feeling the crippling poison enswathe every miniscule of my body, my physical existence giving in to it like that of a toddler melting into his mother’s arms.

I lay there, singing to myself.

“On an ethereal, mystic route
An enticing tinkle of anklets , 
In sync with a mellifluous strain on the flute,
A vision of the Kadambra tree,
Where I stand , astute,
The doe-shaped eyes of a maiden,
Speak volumes while she remains mute
The bubbling chatter of the Yamuna,
Where a bunch of cowherds play, not giving a hoot,
A scolding,a frown and then a tight embrace,
Butter-smeared faces, endearing and cute
Beckoning me beyond,beyond it all
On an ethereal ,mystic route!”

I lay there, not resisting what was happening to me. 

The hysterical sobs from the only human near me didn’t perturb me.How could he understand that it was not his doing?

“You were merely  playing your part in what was predestined!” I tried to reassure him, on seeing the tears rolling down his cheeks as he knelt beside me with folded hands, apologising. Full of remorse,because a few minutes back a deadly arrow from his rustic bow had made the supposedly unpardonable error of piercing my foot. 


The Mistake That was Not

Jara, the hunter, who had mistaken my moving foot as that of a prancing deer was inconsolable.

I was amused ,thinking of it as a classic case of the hunter being hunted.After all, hadn’t all my lives on this earth been big game-hunts. 

I heard myself consoling my perpetrator.

O Jara, do not weep. 
The laws of Karma are the same for all, including me.
As Ram, I  shot an arrow hiding behind a tree,
Embroiled in a duel with Sugreeva,I killed the unsuspecting Vali
What you did was asked from thee,
It is nothing but the play of destiny!”

I had played them all, hadn’t I ?

It was my turn to be played.

The  Final Contemplation

A boon in the disguise of a warning or a curse in the  disguise of a blessing?

“ O’ Azure One, the Payasam I have smeared you with hasn’t covered your feet. Your feet will be the harbinger of your death.”

Rishi Durvasa’s words came  to my mind as I sat in Yog Samadhi below the protective foliage of the  magnanimous tree that sheltered me. I  had always found  the trees in the forest to be so accommodating, almost altruistic;ready to give without any expectations, much unlike my kin. The kin who perished and drove me into a state of deep contemplation in the woods.

My kin, my blood, my tribe fought each other unto death.

The only one who didn’t give  in to the unfathomable pettiness that took over my clan was gone too.

Balram dau! 

He  chose to give up his mortal body,deep in meditation.Standing next to him, I thought to myself,

“What a transcendental moment to view
It’s  probably time for me to go too! 
The  vast nothingness calls out so true,
There’s nothing more to do.
I need to close my eyes in lieu
I need to rest my head and review.
I must follow Dau to Vaikunth,
Its been long overdue.”

I bent  my head in obeisance after witnessing the enchanting sight of a thousand headed serpent come out of his mouth. 
His soul reached the heavens through the sea in the form of a serpent.
Different from all , bold yet kind, my dearest elder brother was no ordinary mortal.

The  Brawl of Doom

Ordinary. Foolish. Impulsive. The acts of my brethren that  fateful day were deplorable. They turned a pleasurable gathering on the beach into a gory battle.The magnificent golden sands of our abode  turned scarlet in embarrassment, soaked in Yadava blood.

Alas!The violence did not  even spare my  innocent son, Pradyumna.

Who could have imagined that men without their weapons, would bring  about the devastation of their own empire?

Yes, no weapons! My brothers did not carry  their weapons for the festivities on the sea-shore but they carried far more destructive attributes. Gigantic egos,  false pride and vulgar pompousness. 

I frowned as my charioteer recounted everything.

“Freely flowed the liquor,
Paving the way for horrifying streams of ichor,
The blame game was indulged in by each intoxicated merry-maker,
Reminding each other of many a blunder,
Quoting follies committed in the Kurukshetra plunder
No one bowed down, no question of surrender,
No brother agreed to spare another,
No one survived that day of horror!”

Satyaki, my devoted  friend who had sided with the Pandavas  in the battle of Kurukshetra ridiculed Kritiverma, who had fought for the Kauravas ,“ Which Kshatriya kills sleeping warriors?”

Kritiverma, taunted and insulted Satyaki.

Everyone pitched in with their grouses.
Ghosts from the past. Choicest abuses. Senseless beheadings.

Unending debates over right and wrong. Arguments about the ones on the side of Dharma disobeying rules and abandoning ethical warfare practices.

There was utter chaos.

Grass stems were picked out from the tall grass growing along the shore and used to attack their own . 

Blades of grass acted as maces of doom, killing all and sundry!

Tools  of Devastation

Long blades of grass. Bamboo like grass which grew over a couple of decades on the shores of my beloved kingdom, Dwaraka. 

Grass which stood sturdy even when my Sudarshan Chakra, my Panchjanya Shankh, my chariot and Dau’s plough – all disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

Over the years, deposition of  a fine , powdery silt on the coastline created a grass turf.

The strange fine powder was  brought to shore by the mischievous waves of the conniving sea.

“It wasn’t gold, it wasn’t silver
It was a wisp of iron dust that made all shiver,
With it , it brought some hushed stories,
A box full of shameful memories,
A joke turned sour,
A pathetic endeavour
No, it wasn’t gold, it wasn’t silver
It was iron dust and an arrow for a mysterious quiver.”

I pondered.

“Had not a  similar powdery metallic dust  along with a triangular piece of iron been thrown  into the mighty sea  some time back on the orders of my uncle Akroora?” 

I recalled the time when the palace corridors had been buzzing with rumours that a triangle-shaped iron piece had been found by a hunter inside the entrails of a fish and he had very cleverly used it to make a poisoned arrow head.

Yes, both the  discarded fine dust and the hard piece of iron originated from a Gada, a mace!

It was a mace that was subjected to merciless grinding so that all that remained of it was a powder and a stubborn triangular piece of iron which refused to surrender.

No, It wasn’t a warrior’s mace. 

The Auguries of Downfall

It was ominous piece of iron shaped like a mace .

A huge lump of iron ,which came out of my son Samba’s body after he suffered pains akin to labour pains, was instrumental in smashing our pride.

“What needs to happen will happen. Samba has done his job.” My nonchalant reaction surprised one and all.

I saw the despair in uncle Akroora’s eyes as he stared at me.

It was a peculiar curse.Difficult to believe.Shocking.Scary.

Samba will give birth to a mass of iron which will destroy  the Yadava dynasty!”

The  inextinguishable wrath of revered sages was summoned by arrogant youngsters of my clan.The sages Durvasa , Vishvamitra, Vashishtha and Narada   saw through the prank played on them.

A group of the Yadava boys dressed Samba as a pregnant woman ,tying many robes to his belly and asked the holy men  to predict the gender of the baby, when they came to Dwaraka to visit Dau and me.

The insolence and indiscipline were unpardonable.

The  complete disregard for morals and disrespect of culture spelt disaster.

My kindred laid the unstable foundations to a shaky future the moment they gave up on humility.

“They ridiculed, they mocked,
 With a sense of entitlement, they walked,
 They forgot there were much greater powers,
 Greater than their kingdom’s golden towers,
 My progeny failed to understand the power of humility,
The strength and resilience of quiet dignity, 
 Their forefathers might be blessed with divinity,
 Oh,but nothing escaped the labyrinths of the Holy Trinity!”

Samba, my son, whom I got as a boon from Lord Shiva, the God of Destruction. Yes,  destruction , he was bound to bring.

From Reign to Ruin 

Destruction is rarely ever a one day scenario. Ironic as it may seem,  abundance can be a predictor of annihilation. 

“When the cups overflow, 
We must take it slow,
To watch which direction the wind  does blow,
To adjust our sails , and then choose to row,
To be able to grow,
We must learn again to plough,
When the cups overflow,
We must strive to know,
Which weeds to throw, 
Which seeds to sow!”

I  laughed and reminded Dau.

“One should worry when there is nothing to worry about!” 

“Too much. These exhibitions of affluence!.” My elder brother sighed after attending a spree of opulent celebrations.

My kingdom was revelling in a state of bliss and rejoicement. We were riding high on the waves of unbridled success and glory after the Kurukshetra war. While Yudhishthira, my cousin, established and expanded his empire from Hastinapur, we, the Yadavas reigned over our spectacular island abode .

Thirty-six years of bliss and harmony ?
Thirty- six years of waiting in anticipation?
Thirty -six years of dreading in fear?
Thirty six years to liberation?
Thirty- six years. Sigh!

A Mother’s Prophecy or a Prophet’s Destiny?

She gave me thirty- six years to live without knowing why, without realising that those thirty-six years would end an era.

I walked away, carrying with me the fate of my kin, the future of humankind and the keys to another era.

I walked away, accepting the curse and my destiny.

I walked away, after consoling her, even as the Pandavas watched in stunned silence.

“O’ Mother ,O’ woman so wise,
I know your heart is broken with a hundred sons’ demise
You are known all over Bharatvarsh as the most devoted wife,
They talk about your unparalleled sacrifice,
Your faith in me comes without a price,
Your  affection for me will suffice,
Your place isn’t at my feet, so please rise,
The Universe will strive for your curse to realise,
My kin cannot be devoured  by someone from outside,
It is only possible if at the hands of one brother another dies,
In our doom, there will not be any compromise,
Be assured of the plans of the divine,
As of now, let us by rituals abide,
Let us give a respectful send-off to all who died
O’Mother, O’ queen  so wise!

I spoke to the blindfolded woman in a gentle voice.

It wasn’t my intention to see a strong,empowered woman, a grieving mother falling down to her knees before me. 

Th queen of Hastinapur, was at my feet, repenting every word she uttered a few minutes ago. Alas! Utterances in anger make a permanent home at their destination.Words let out in a fit of rage can never be taken back.

Her vengeful emotions vented out, the mother of the Kauravas asked me for forgiveness.

Such are the ways of the cosmos that harsh words might be forgiven but are never forgotten.

Queen Gandhari’s imprecation  shook the universe.

The Beginning of the End

The imprecation. The denouncement .The fury . The hatred. The woe.

I absorbed it all.

I listened, unruffled as a sinister quietude engulfed the entire battlefield.

Her curse echoed in the ears of all present  and all that were yet to come.

“You, whose crown the peacock feather does embellish,
 You, who could have prevented a battle so nightmarish,
  How  on earth could you be so selfish?
  Not pay heed to my daily prayers so feverish.
 You, for whom playing with mortals is a fetish,
 That you may die a lonely death is my wish,
 One day you will also see your dear ones perish,
 You will witness the fall of the empire you cherish,
 You will recount how hard you worked to make it flourish,
  As you observe every bit of the gold of your palace tarnish,
 Below the waters they will lie in ruin, inhabited by sea-creatures and fish,
 The walls and pillars of your abode, that you took ages to garnish.
 Thirty -six years from now, you will experience a time so hellish,
 I curse you with a fate that you will not relish
You, whose smile today seems so devilish,
 You, whose crown the peacock feather does embellish!

The curse which shocked everyone except me.

The curse of an aggrieved mother.

Queen Gandhari gave in to her despair and cursed.

“ How can you grin when we mourn? If my devotion to Lord Vishnu be true, I ,O Govind, take the liberty to proclaim that my words will destroy you just the way your silence has destroyed us,” she announced.

 The smirk on my face outraged her.

“If you wanted, you could have stopped this from happening. The war.The bloodshed .The  loss of life. It is all your fault.I am blindfolded, Krishna ,but seems you are too.You turned a blind eye to everything on purpose,” cried the bereaved lady.

She mourned  them all.

All gone.

Sons, brothers, the throne, the kingdom, and her will to live.

She had lost it  all.

The Queen of Hastinapur was  bent over the unsightly remains of her eldest son, Duryodhana,  She shook as she wailed, tears cascading down her cheeks, with king Dhritarashtra  standing by her side.

I  gazed across the battlefield and wondered if there was anyone  left who hadn’t lost anything precious?

The Victory that Wasn’t

Had I not lost anything?

Had the Pandavas not lost anything?

Had we really won?

Was the victory as sweet as it promised to be?

As the Pandavas and I surveyed the devastation on the blood soaked field  our hearts refused to indulge in any rejoicement to mark our victory in the war. 

I put my hand on an anguished Yudhishthir’s shoulder.

He expressed his desire to renounce the throne and the luxuries that came with it.

“A throne without it’s rightful heirs
A kingdom built on funeral pyres
What do we do with a victory that tires?

With rivulets of blood traversing the expanse
Corpses strewn all over because of the Karmic dance
To redeem ourselves,will we get a chance?

The wails and moans seem to be an ominous jibe
Of worst times to come, and engulf us alive,
Is it a  punishment to be endured by those who survive?

As the scavengers pick on the flesh of the dead,
Helpless, we shudder to see a gruesome fate,
How are we supposed to celebrate?

No victory is worth the price one pays,
Sleepless nights and agonising days
Will we ever change our ways?”

The future King of Hastinapur wondered aloud.

“O’ Madhav, in spite of emerging victorious in the war, I feel defeated. What lies ahead is beyond me! We seem to be living in the worst of times!”

I shook my head,not knowing what to say.

I chuckled as a momentary thought flashed across my mind.

Kaliyug! Kaliyug is yet to come!

Author’s note :– This is a fictional mythological  account recounting the turn of events that led to the death of Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu.

Kaliyug:-The fourth and present stage of  the world cycle of yugas or ages; the age of darkness;the age of misery
Payasam:- A rice pudding with jaggery
Yog Samadhi: A state of meditative consciousness
Dau: the name with which Lord Krishna called his elder brother Balram.
Vaikunth: The abode of Lord Vishnu
Kshatriya : The warrior or military caste
Dharma:the basic principles of cosmic or individual existence, as defined in Hinduism and Jainism


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Alpna Das Sharma
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