Chapter XXXVIII - 138 Home | Index | Previous | Next

XXXVIII. Serpent Kaliya

"Listen O king, to the momentous event," said Suka. "The divine boy, Gopala, was but God who had taken human form in sheer sport. He grew up like a human child and attained the age of five. No one could know the significance of His movements. He was never in the habit of communicating to others about His sports or Leelas, either before or after; one had only to observe and obey; no one could guess their nature or plumb their meaning, whoever he may be, whatever his attainments. One day, He collected the cattle secretly, so that even the parents did not know anything about it. Every day, the elder brother at least would know and he would also accompany, but, that day, even he was not aware of the goings-on. Krishna got together His comrades from the cowherd homes, and proceeded with the cattle to the bank of the Yamuna river. He took them to a deep pool in the river, which people generally avoided."

"That pool had a sinister history. Pools such as these will naturally be stagnant and slushy, but, this pool was blue in colour and boiling hot, the water was bubbling ceaselessly emitting steam into the upper air. A cloud hung over it, in consequence. Whoever breathed that atmosphere fouled by the fumes breathed his last, to the consternation and amazement of all. Birds that innocently flew over that pool were so fatally poisoned that they flapped their wings violently in despair and rolled down dead into its depths."

"Every one in Gokul knew all about this mortal trap, this deadly wonder. They were carefully avoiding approaching it; they warned their children against it; they vigilantly prevented their cattle from grazing anywhere near it. Of course, His comrades protested vehemently and pleaded with Krishna that He should not go near that pool; they prayed, long and loud; but, it was all in vain. He asserted that He must go to that very pool; that was His predetermined destination that day. The boys drew Him back and did their best to prevent the inevitable 'disaster'. He shook them off, and removing His clothes announced that He would delight in swimming inside that poison pool!"

"The boys could not muster enough courage to warn Him aloud against the terrors of that pool; their mild protestations, He brushed aside. With a certain perverse will of His own, He got upon a tree on the bank and plunged into the horrid pool, by the side of the bank. He did not come up for a long time. The cowherd boys, to whom Krishna was the very breath of their lives, were overwhelmed with fear; they gathered round the pool and started calling Him in unbearable agony, sobbing and shedding tears of extreme grief."