In the complex world of the Hindu pantheon, the one deity who needs no introduction is Lord Krishna. An avatar of Vishnu, he is best known for expounding the Bhagavad Gita during the great battle of Kurukshetra. A sallow-complexioned divinity, he plays a variety of roles spanning the panoply of Indian philosophical tradition-mischievous butter thief, brother of Balarama, divine lover of Radha, a shrewd diplomat and as Arjuna’s charioteer during the Mahabharat, among others. Above all, he acted as the destroyer of evil forces on earth and ushered in dharamyug, the age of righteousness.
The bare facts are simple enough: Krishna belonged to the royal family of Mathura and was the eighth son of Devaki and her husband Vasudeva. The evil king Kansa, Devaki’s brother, was then ruler of Mathura. Since it was prophesied that Devaki’s eighth son would destroy him, he had Devaki and her husband imprisoned. After killing six of her progeny (the seventh apparently miscarried), Krishna was born. He was smuggled out of the prison cell and taken to Yashoda and Nanda, his foster parents, who lived in Gokula. They later settled in Vrindavan where Krishna grew up, and earned the playful sobriquet of makhan chor (butter thief).
It was there that he fought and killed the demon Putana, and tamed the serpent Kaliya, thus acting as the divine protector of Vrindavan. He slew Kansa upon his return to Mathura as a young man and installed Ugrasena as the rightful king, and became a leading prince at the court. He married Rukmini, princess of Vidharbha and became close friends with Arjuna, and the other Pandava princes.
Krishna: A study based on Mahabharata, is Nagesh Sonde’s paean to one of the most beloved of all Indian deities, as observed through the prism of the Mahabharata. An Indian religious philosopher, Mr. Sonde has authored more than 30 books on philosophical and religious subjects. In the present volume, he turns his prodigious learning upon Krishna, the impact he has had upon Indian cultural and religious thought, and his place in the pantheon of the immortals. The majority of the book is a retelling of the Mahabharata, while the latter chapters serve as a metaphysical exposition of Krishna’s various forms and divine essence. Of all Indian deities, Krishna has had the most far-reaching influence upon Indian tradition-and even beyond. A complex, luminous deity, the author contends that ‘Krishna cannot be known through study, intellect or through much listening, but only to him whom he chooses He reveals his true form.’
Culled in part from puranic legends, and from various Indian philosophical and religious treatises, the book offers a glimpse into the life of perhaps the most colourful deity of the Hindu religious tradition, whose impact upon Indian religious and cultural polity has extended over millennia and continues to grow stronger with the passage of time.
(Nagesh D Sonde, 318, Raheja Crest3,Link Road Andheri (West), Mumbai-400 053, e-mail:[email protected])