TOWARDS the end of the book, the author asks twenty questions such as: What images does your mind conjure when you hear this divine name, Krishna? The divine incarnation who was born at the stroke of midnight to Devaki and Vasudev in a prison cell in Mathura? The Divine Infant who was strong enough to confront demons like Putana, Kakasura, Shakatasura and Trinavarta and kill them with a single blow? The courageous Cowherd who subdued the venomous serpent Kaliya and danced on its hood? The handsome boy who stole Radha’s heart and charmed Her with His words? The Supreme Lord who bestowed spiritual wisdom in the form of the Bhagavad Gita on Arjun? etc. Asks Dev Prasad, the author: “Which of them is the real Krishna?”. The answer, of course is: “All of them and more”. As Krishna told Arjuna:
Pitaham asys jagato mata dhata pitamahah
Vedyam pavitram omkara rig saama yajur eva cha
(I am the Father of this Universe, the Mother, the Supporter and the Grandfather. I am the Object of all Knowledge, the Purifier and the Syllable ‘Om’. I am the Rig, Sama and Yajur Vedas.)
And remember the lines that Krishna told Arjuna:
Manmana bhava madbhakto madyaji mam mamaskura
Mam evaishyasi satyam to pratijane priyo asi me
(Always think of Me, just become My devotee, worship Me and offer your obeisance unto Me. You will certainly come to Me, I truly promise you because you are dear to Me.)
To those who believe in Him and want to worship Him, the book is a treasure house. What Dev Prasad has done is to travel through Brij Bhoomi and visit places associated with Him elsewhere in the country. Reading him the pilgrim gets to know where to go and what to see and what to expect. Krishna was born in Brij Bhoomi where he spent his childhood. But surrounding Mathura are township like Vrindavan, Gokul, Madhuvan, Mahavan, Baledo etc. And then there is Dwarka where Krishna ruled and spent the major part of his life as Dwarkadeesh – Emperor of Dwarka. And who can forget Kurukshetra where Krishna revealed Himself in His Original Form? Dev Prasad says that his original intention was just to visit the holy places in Brij Bhoomi and the twelve forests and twenty four groves.
Writing a book had never crossed his mind. However, during his first trip to Brij Bhoomi he was so enchanted by what he saw: the forests where Krishna and Balaram played every day, the sarovars beside which Krishna spent his time in the company of his Divine Consort, Radha, the countless ghats bordering the Yamuna, each carrying a fascinating tale. Prasad felt he should write about them. He visited Brahmanand Ghat at Mahavan where Krishna, as an infant, revealed the entire cosmos to his mother Yashoda. At Barsana his heart throbbed to realise that it was here that Radha and Krishna parted. As he moved around, he could feel in this heart of hearts that Brij bhoomi played host to only a small part of Krishna’s life which extended to 125 years! There were it seemed to him, endless temples to visit. In Mathura there was Krishna Janmasthan Temple which Mahmod Ghazni had ransacked. History records that this temple was destroyed and rebuilt 17 times. The Janmasthan Temple housed many temples like the Keshav Dev Temple and the Giriraj Temple and the Yogamaya Temple.
Prasad thereafter began to feel that his life’s journey had begun and he had to visit as many temples to Krishna as he could possibly identify. And he got to know them: Dwarkadeesh Temple, Putana Temple, Yashoda Temple, Revathi Balaram Temple, Banke Bihari Temple, Radha Damodar Temple, Radha Shyamsundar Temple, Radha Gopinath Temple…. Endless are the temples in his list. There was Uddhav Temple built by Krishna’s great grandson Vajranabha about 4,800 years ago and then there was Sudama Temple in Porbandar. Then, of course, there were kunds and sarovars to visit and even take a dip in, like Sankarshana Kund, the Govinda Kund, the Airavata Kund, not to speak of the Kusum Sarovar, the Pavan Sarovar and the Sannihit Sarovar.
To read this book is to go back five thousand years. One must read it in the quietude of a lonely evening and as one reads, one surely will begin to hear the melody of a distant tune, Krishna playing to Radha on his divine flute. What adds beauty and charm – not to speak of enlightment – to this book are the stories Prasad recalls of Radha and Krishna, Krishna and the Gopis, Krishna and Sudama and Krishna and so many others. Long forgotten legends come alive. Among the last holy places Prasad visited was Sri Prabhas Golak Dham, the place in a forest where Krishna was hit by an arrow from the bow of the hunter, Jara. The story of that last divine incident is told in great detail. Realising what he has done, Jara pleads for forgiveness. There is, we learn, a temple at Balka Teerth, some four miles from Verawal in Gujarat where there is a temple. There Prasad saw a huge ‘life-like’ idol of Lord Krishna made of pure white marble.
Writes Prasad: “It looks so realistic