Kaliya Mardana

Grace On Kaliya, the Serpent

Formerly, Garuda used to eat snakes. All the snakes came to an agreement with Garuda and every month a snake was offered as sacrifice to Garuda at the foot of a particular tree on the new moon day. All snakes used to offer to Garuda their share of sacrifice. Garuda was highly pleased with this arrangement. But the serpent Kaliya, son of Kadru, was very proud of his strength. Therefore he did not make any offering himself to Garuda but took away the offerings made by others. Garuda was incensed and attacked him. Kaliya was overpowered in the fight. He sought shelter in a deep pool of water in the Yamuna.

Once upon a time Garuda caught a fish in that pool of water and was about to eat it. Rishi Soubhari said, “O Garuda! Do not eat this fish.” Garuda did not pay any attention to the words of the Rishi. The wailings of the other fishes touched the heart of the Rishi. In order to save the fishes, the Rishi pronounced a curse on Garuda that he would die if he entered that pool any more.

Kaliya knew about this. Therefore he sought shelter in that pool of water with his family. Because of the residence of the serpents, the pool of water in the Yamuna became poisonous.

Once Krishna without Balarama but with his other playmates, went to the Yamuna, after wandering through the forest of Brindavan. As the cowherd boys and the cows and the calves were oppressed by the heat of the summer, they felt extremely thirsty. They drank the poisoned water in the pool in the Yamuna. They fell dead on the bank of the river soon after they drank it. Krishna revived them by a mere glance radiating forth the life-giving nectar. They regained their consciousness, got up from the edge of the water and began to look at one another in great astonishment. They came to know that they fell dead by drinking the poisonous water of the Yamuna and that Sri Krishna brought them back to life by his gracious looks.

Sri Krishna noticed that a  most venomous snake had rendered the water of the Yamuna poisonous. He wanted to expel the serpent from the river in order to purify the water. Sri Krishna tightened His girdle, climbed a lofty Kadamba tree, and jumped into the pool of water. The serpent fiercely attacked Krishna and stung Him in His vital parts. It completely enclosed Him in its coils. The cows wept and the Gopa boys became senseless. Nanda and other Gopas came out in search of Krishna. They saw Him in the grasp of the powerful serpent and wept bitterly.

Sri Krishna extricated Himself from the clutches of the serpent. He began to sport with it. He got upon its hoods and danced upon them. It had one thousand hoods, one hundred being the chief. The serpent vomited blood. Sri Krishna trampled down with His feet each one of the hoods. When the body of the serpent was badly injured, it sought the protection of the Lord. The wives of Kaliya praised Krishna and prayed for their husband’s life. The Lord stopped His dance. Kaliya slowly recovered consciousness.

Krishna said, “O serpent! Do not stay here any more. Go to the sea immediately with all your kith and kin and wives. Let the water of the Yamuna be used by the cows and men. I know that you left Ramanaka island for fear of Garuda and came to live in this pool. But now, as your hoods bear the marks of My feet, Garuda will not touch you.” Thereupon Kaliya proceeded to the Ramanaka island in the sea with his wives, friends and children. The waters of the Yamuna then turned as sweet as nectar itself.


Forest Fire Disappeared

The cattle strayed away from the Bhadiraka forest. A huge wide fire suddenly broke out in the forest. The cowherd boys approached Sri Krishna, for protection.

Sri Krishna asked them to close their eyes. Thereupon the boys shut their eyes. When they opened their eyes they found themselves once more in Bhadiraka forest. They were greatly struck with wonder when they saw that all their cows had been miraculously saved from the fire. Observing the Yogic power of Sri Krishna and their miraculous escape from the wild fire, the boys thought that Sri Krishna was no human being but must be immortal God.