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Lord Krishna and the festival of Holi
It’s Holi time in India. I was looking for Holi poems on Krishna but could not find suitable ones to translate. Therefore, I am translating part of a great Hindi poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar’s poem ‘Krishna ki Chetavani’ from his collection ‘Rashmirathi’. It would be great to remember Krishna’s purpose of incarnation even while playing good colors in Holi.

Varshon tak van me ghoom-ghoom, Baadhaa-vighno ko choom-choom,
Sah dhoop-gham, pani-patthar, Pandava aaye kuchh aur nikhar.

Saubhaagya na sab din sota hai,

Denkhe, aage kya hota hai?

The poet starts here as a fully theist and this is good too. But all need to understand that no matter how bad Kauravas were and also despite of a foul play by Duryodhana’s maternal uncle Shakuni in the gamble, the fact is that Pandavas were also to be blamed for their exile and incognito as Yudhishthira gambled twice as per his conscious choice. But the poet believes in age-old Hindu belief that hardship is the key to good fortune later.

He says that after wandering in forests for years and after overcoming tremendous misfortunes and obstructions and after tolerating extreme weathers, Pandavas are now a better seasoned people. He then says in anticipation of mediation by Krishna that good luck may come in the end and bad omen does not last always. But he ponders as to what the future would bring to Pandavas.

Maitri ki raah batane ko, Sab ko sumaarg par laane ko,
Duryodhana ko samjhaane ko,Bheeshan vidhwans bachaane ko,

Bhagwan hastinapur aaye,

Pandava ka sandesha laaye—

The poet then praises Krishna for his peace efforts. Krishna, the Ishvara, himself comes to the capital of Kuru dynasty taking with him the message from Pandavas. Krishna brings with himself the message of peace- to let all understand the disutility of fighting; to direct all towards following the path to righteousness; to make Duryodhana understand the evil that he is doing; and to save the whole family from utmost destruction and carnage.

‘Do nyay agar to aadha do, Par isme bhi yadi baadha ho,
To de do kewal paach graam, Rakho apni dharti tamaam.

Hum vahi khushi se khaayenge,

Parijan pe asi na uthayenge!’

The Pandavas almost pleaded that if the Kauravas want to do justice with them then they should divide the reign of Hastinapur into two equals but in case they had any problem with that then they should give five villages, one each to each one of Pandavas, and Kauvravas can keep the rest of the vast land with them. Pandavas communicates that they would remain satisfied with that and would never raise arms against their family.

Duryodhana woh bhi de na saka, Aashish samaaj ki le na saka,
Ulte, hari ko baandhne chala, Jo tha asaadhya saadhne chala.

Jab naash manuj par chhaata hai,

Pehle vivek mar jata hai.

But then the poet regrets that Duryodhana could not give even five villages to Pandavas and therefore, he would not get the blessings from the society and instead would face the wrath of Hindus, particularly that of Brahmins. But reality is very complicated. The fact is that after agreeing to go to exile, Pandavas would loose their right over throne and if not then that then surely after the incognito. The trap was very deadly and very cleverly put. Nobody should compare Mahabharata with Ramayana as Rama was given supposed exile by his father and almost everyone including Kaikayi later regretted it.

The same is not the case with Pandavas. But the fact is that Duryodhana is so evil, as the poet describes, that in his extreme haughtiness he tries to arrest Krishna. It was indeed an impossible and unachievable task. Then again the poet writes the very well known age-old Hindu saying that in troubled times people loose their wisdom and power to judge and to reason; the same was true with Duryodhana.

Hari ne bheeshan hoonkaar kiya, Apna swaroop-vistar kiya,
Dagmag-dagmag diggaj dole, Bhagwan kupit hokar bole--

‘Janjeer badhaa ab saadh mujhe,
Haan-haan Duryodhan baandh mujhe.

But after the rejection of peace message and Duryodhana trying impossible, Krishna retorted and yelled at all courtiers of Hastinapur court in fearsome manner and showed his enlarged magnificent body; a precursor to what he would show to Arjuna before the start of war while preaching Gita. But that was utter warning of destruction- something the preserver always gives to evil-doers. Even the elephant escorts in eight possible directions were trampling with fear about possible destruction. But even after that deadly manifestation, Duryodhana does not yield neither he does understand. Then Krishna shivering in anger challenges him and dared him to try tying him.

Hit-vachan nahi tune maana, Maitri ka moolya na pahchana
To le main bhi ab jata hoon, Antim sankalp sunaata hoon,

Yaachna nahi ab rann hoga,
Jivan-jai ya ki maran hoga.

After that Krishna warns Duryodhana that he missed an opportunity of friendship with Pandavas by rejecting their appeal. Then he says that he is leaving and will reveal his last pledge: that it will not be begging and pleading any more but instead it will be war for either victory or for death with honor.

All need to understand that not only Krishna knew that it would happen so but also that it was his preferred end. Krishna wants to make psychologically more-Brahmin-lesser-Kshatriya Pandavas victor over psychologically more-Kshatriya-lesser-Brahmin Kauravas. The Gita is the ultimate guide to Brahmanism while Ramayana is for all those who can understand the complexity of state.

Takrayenge nakshatra-nikhar, Barsegi bhu par wahni prakhar,
Phan sheshnaag ka dolega, Vikraal kaal mukh kholega.

Duryodhana! rann aisa hoga,
Phir kabhi nahi jaisa hoga.

Krishna then warns all courtiers that titans would clash and because of that all the collections of comets with each other. The earth would be flooded with blood of unholy warriors. He also warns that the non-conformists, and there were almost every one at the time, would have to face the wrath of Sheshnaag and the curse of engrossingly devastating time. He tells Duryodhana in simple terms that the destruction and devastation as a result of a definite war would remain unmatched in the history of mankind.

Bhai par bhai tootenge, Vish-baan boond-se chutenge,
Vaayas-shrigaal sukh lootenge,Saubhagya manuj ke phootenge

Aakhir tu bhushayi hoga,
Hinsa ka par, dayi hoga.’

Krishna continues saying that the brothers would fight among themselves and the poisoned-arrows would be fired at each other within blood relationship which in turn would sour the relationships permanently. The crows and jackal would be happy as the dead would serve as their food. But the humanity will be healed and Krishna warns Duryodhana that he will die in the war. Also, the sages and rest of humanity would blame Duryodhana for violence forever.

Thi sabha sann, sab log dare, Chup the ya the behosh pade.
Kewal do nar na aghate the, Dhritarashtra-Vidura sukh paate the.

Kar jod khare pramudit-nirbhay,
Dono pukaarte the ‘jai-jai’!

After Krishna’s proclamation the listeners were dead silent while many of them became unconscious. But according to the poet only two people were happy- Dhritarashtra and Vidura. Now this is wrong as the poet in the end wants to change the meaning of the Mahabharata. It should be Bhishma and not Dhirtrashtra who should be happy but that is a great Indian way of mixing present simplicity while ignoring past complexity. One needs to be quite aware of that. But according to the poet both were folding their hands happily and fearlessly in marked respect towards Krishna and were wishing victory to the Vishnu, the world’s Lord.

The Mahabharata depicts a war among equals. But for Krishna and this is true throughout his life, there are always preferred people. Sure, Kauravas should be evil but still Pandavas are preferred and favored people by default by Krishna. The epic war of Mahabharata is the victory of liberal, cosmopolitan and flexible Pandavas over sectarian, parochial and fastidious Kauravas.

In modern context no one should wonder that the Congress is closer towards Pandavas and the BJP towards Kauravas. The fact is whether it is following Rama or Krishna, the BJP would stick fully to the most fundamental tenets of Hinduism.

Nobody should consider Krishna as absolute Ishvara either even though he proclaims in Gita that Kauravas and their supporters are dead as per his will, the day they tried or tolerated disrobing of Draupadi in the public, whether Pandavas fulfill their pledge or not. I end this article by quoting from Rigveda:

‘Who knows in truth? Who can tell us whence and how arose this Universe? The gods are later than its beginning: who knows therefore whence comes this creation?

Only that god who sees in highest heaven: he only knows whence comes this Universe, and whether it was made or uncreated. He only knows, or perhaps he knows not.’

(The Hindi lines of Krishna ki Chetavani are taken from an eighth class Hindi book.)

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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