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Krishna, who tore Keshi’s mouth apart & killed Chaanura- Musthika

Madabhushi Sridhar – Tiruppavai- 8

Tiruppavai by Godadevi from Tamil

KeezhVanamVellendruErumaiSiruVeedu

MeyvaanParandanakanMikkullaPillaikalum

PovaanPogindraraiPogaamalKatthuunnai-k

KoovuvanVandhuNindromKodhukulaMudaiya

PaavaiEzhundiraiPaadi-p-paraiKondu

Maavay-p-PilandanaiMallariaMaattiya

DevadidevanaiChenrunaamSevitthaal

AavaaEendruAaraindu Arul-elorEmpaavaai.

English Translation from By Madabhushi Sridhar

As east brightens, cattle start to graze tender grass.

Moving along with birds, and young kids.

Instead of calling each, we stopped all to drive

To Him and calling you, the God-loving girl.

Awake dear and join us to get God’s gift of Parai.

Krishna, who tore Keshi’s mouth apart & killed Chaanura- Musthika

Prostrate & Pray before the King of Gods,

O Girls, come He will bless us with all compassion.

Awakening Nammalwar

Goda is awakening the third Gopika and Nammaalwaarhere. She refers to Guru Mantra “AsmatSarvaGurubhyonnamah”, saluting all Gurus. Having greatinterest in Bhagavan, His devotees – Bhagavatottama, and in all who love Bhagavan, symbolisesNammaalwaar- when Goda says ‘KodukulaMudaiPaavaay’. In the 7th song she referred to KulasekharaAalwaar and in 6th song her father Periyaalwar.

Also read: Omkar links to God; And chanting of Munis

Godaknocks at the doors of a Gopika, who is inside her residence: With gradual rise of pre-dawn brightness, the cattle started to graze the dew-covered tender grass, along with young cowherds. Instead of calling all of them individually, we stopped them to divert to Krishna’s palace. We want you also to join us and hence we are standing at your doorstep. Krishna, the wonder boy has torn the mouth of Keshi, the demon in the form of Horse, defeated and killed wrestlers Musthi and Chaanura, the rogue elephant Kuvalayapeedam, and pulled out its tusks. Balaram and Krishna carried a tusk each on their shoulders and entered Raja Sabha.  Krishna pulled down Kamsa from the throne and killed him with his punches. He did all this in his teenage itself.  I know you have deep interest in reaching Lord Krishna. Then, why don’t you get up, we all shall sing his praises and seek gift of Parai (Dakka- music instrument) as promised.

Keshi was sent by Kamsa to kill Bala Raama and Krishna. This Demon – Keshi assumes the form of a huge horse.  Dangerously, who gallops at the speed of thoughts. His neighing terrifies the people. It was creating havoc around Gokula. With a very easy Krishna challenges Keshi to a duel, as the horse is. Keshi roars like a lion.

Also read: Wake-up calls of Chirping birds before dawn

Keshi charges towards Krishna, striking him with his hooves. Krishna catches hold of Keshi’s two legs and tosses him to a great distance. Recovering from the fall, the agitated Keshi opens his mouth and attacks Krishna.

There is another strategy followed. Demon thought it was easy to eat out the hand. But Krishna increased size of the hand suffocating him to death. Some fools open mouth only to eat and do not open to ask for the knowledge. But Krishna can open it to more than its size. As Krishna thrusts his left arm into Keshi’s mouth, all of Keshi’s teeth fall. Krishna’s arm expands, and Keshi chokes to death, as sweat flows from his body, his eyes roll and he struggles kicking his feet. Keshi falls lifeless on the ground. He assuming his true demon form. 

The Harivamsa from the epic Mahabharata also narrates the incident in a similar fashion complete with Narada’s praise identifying Krishna as Vishnu. The Vishnu Purana and the Harivamsa (1st – 2nd century BCE) tell that Keshi is the last agent sent by Kamsa to kill Krishna, after Keshi’s killing, Krishna and Balarama go to Mathura, where Kamsa is killed. However, the Bhagavata Purana describes the killing of the demon Vyoma sent by Kamsa, before he leaves for Mathura.

The fourth Book of the Vishnu Purana (between the 1st century BCE to the 4th century CE) says Keshi first appears in the episode when Kamsa calls the host of demons to kill all male children, once he realizes Krishna is born. Chapters 15 and 16 of the fourth Book presents a detailed account of Keshi’s death which parallels the Bhagavata Purana account. Though the terror by Keshi on earth and sky and Krishna’s challenge is the same, the fight starts directly with Keshi attacking Krishna with his opened mouth. The hand of Krishna choking Keshi at the same time, tearing his body into two halves. The splitting of Keshi’s body is not told in the Bhagavata Purana

Mushtikaasura is a symbol of unsatiated desires while Chaanura represents anger (Krodha). To get rid of the two, God must bless through Achaarya.

These are all wonderful and unimaginable deeds of Krishna, which appear to be impossible for any in that age. But, for Him it is nothing. He does not remember those actions or bother about. Whereas the devotees, out of their abundant love and devotion, feel that they must pray for His protection and sing for His well-being (Mangalashaasanam)

Upanishads say that five Indriyas 1. Vision (caksh-indriya), 2.Hearing (shrotr-indriya), 3.Smell (ghrān-indriya), 4.Taste (jivh-indriya), 5.Touch (kāy-indriya) are five horses of desires that pull the chariot of ‘human body’ in five different and opposite directions. If the reins of mind are placed in the hands of wisdom, the chariot will reach the goal; otherwise, it will break into pieces.

Goda says determining to travel to reach God itself is a pleasant thought. Goal is good but the travel equally is a happy process. If severalpeople travel together to reach God’s place, it will be a great pleasure. Godasays the journey of a Jeevi after death towards the abode of God (Archiradi), Journey of Akrura to Nanda Vraja village to invite Sri Krishna to Mathura, and journey to Tirumala to have darshan of Lord Venkateswara are the pleasant journeys greater than the destination. The thought of journey or the determination (sankalpa) for journey gives great joy. Goda says such a journey with a team is a greater joy. She preaches in this ‘greater joy of going together for good deeds and for God.

Goda incorporated a meaningful conversation between Goda (or Gopika outside the door and another Gopika inside) in this Paashuram (song).

Goda: It is the appointed hour to meet Krishna. My team is asking how you can sleep in this hour.

Gopika: How do you know that such a time has arrived?

Goda: Don’t you see the brightened East?

Gopika: You are suffering separation from Krishna; you have a strong desire to meet Him. You are always thinking about it. Your faces are bright like the Sun, and you always like white curds and white milk. Hence you find everything around as bright and white.

Goda: Cattle started in the early morning to graze the tender grass, along with their kids. If Krishna also goes with them, how can we meet Him? Can we survive without Him? Please wake up from your sleep and join us.

Gopika: Milch animals did not go for grazing. Your bright faces moved away the shadows which looked like the moving animals. The light is emanating from your bright faces, not sunrays. This is AnyathaJnanam (the other knowledge, which means you are under illusion that clouds are animals). Thinking shadows or clouds as animals is VipareethaJnanam (Considering one as another, for example, believing serpent as rope and rope as serpent). The Brahma Muhurtha- pre-dawn time- is conducive for securing Yathartha Jnana with SathwaGuna, Afternoon makes it easy to get Anyatha Jnana because of RajoGuna, and at night with TamoGuna gives Vipareetha Jnana)

Goda: Okay, ours is Anyatha or Vipareetha Jnana. As you have Yathartha Jnana, please tell me how you consider that it is still not the dawn.

Gopika: We have 5 lakhGopikaas in Brindavan, but not even a thousand came here.

Also read: The bonds of affection, not ropes, bind Krishna

Goda: They came and left.

Gopika: Then you may not need me. Or you do not care for me.

Goda: Not like that. They were all in a group and as they do not know whether you were here or already left. They might have gone to see you there. They care for you.

Gopika: Why did they go?

Goda: Those who are on the way to Shree Vaikuntham in Archiraadi route, or Akrura, who is travelling to Nanda Vraj to see Sri Krishna, or those going to Tirumala for Lord Venkateshwara’s Darshan. Going itself is their purpose, nothing else.

Gopika: When they left me behind, what is the use of coming now.

Goda: Now you know why they left. We told them that you are yet to come. Then they stood standstill with surprise. None ordered or asked them to be so. When they came to know that you did not arrive, they could not move at all. Then we asked them to stay there assuring that we would get you. As they thought glancing Lord Krishna was the sole purpose, requesting you to come with us is our sole purpose. And we came to your doorstep. Please come. When Ram’s army of Vaanaraas reached Lanka, Vibheeshan came to meet Ram and stood in the sky above on this side of the ocean. The moment he saw Ram, he was standstill. We also stood without movement for you.

Gopika: Am I so great that you all wait for me?

Goda: Krishna Himself loves you and looks for you. Otherwise, we do not have any standing to come and invite you. As He loves you, we too want you. We want to see your grace and beauty as you walk towards us. Please give us the credit of succeeding in inviting you by honouring our request.

Gopika: What is that we gain now?Goda: We get again what we used to achieve from the graceful look of Krishna. Elders of village separated us from Him. We were only meditating upon Him and hiding the pleasure. They are permitting us to meet Krishna now. We can sing his praises without any hesitation and enjoy. Let us prostrate before Him as He told us in Bhagavadgeeta.

Gopika: Will Lord Krishna grant us boon of that music instrument Parai.

Goda: He killed all our enemies like demons in the form of Horse and many others, and offered Himself to our love, hence, he would surely give us that gift.

Gopika: It’s an old story. Now He went to Capital City Mathura where he might have seen more beautiful women. He might have forgotten us long back.

Goda: He killed Chaanura and Musthikasura and gave darshan of his lotus-like face to women like us there. He will never forget us.

Gopika: He is praised as King of Gods, why should He bother about us?

Goda:Yes. He is Devaadideva, but for us he descended as one among us- cowherds. And if we go first on foot to Him, He will respect our effort and feel for giving us the trouble of walking to him. He will surely come to our rescue. As Raama arrived in the forest during exile, ascetics and Rishis went to Him seeking protection from demons. Raama felt guilty as He did not reach them first and gave them pain of reaching Him. He cannot tolerate the pain of His devotees. When Guha rushed to reach Him, Raama says you walked to see me! What else can one do other than this? He embraced Guha. Come let us go fast to see Him.

Goda sings this to inspire us to tread on the path of good, together in a group.

Also read: Gracefully raining knowledge equally on all

Translation by Madabhushi Sridhar
Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Author is Dean, Professor of law at Mahindra University at Hyderabad and former Central Information Commissioner. He published a number books in English and Telugu.

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