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Vishnu Purana – Fifth Kandha

Chapter 18

Krishna depart for Mathura

1-3THUS meditating, the Yādava approached Govinda, and addressed him, and said, “I am Akrūra,” and bowed his head down to the feet of Hari; but Kṛṣṇa laid upon him his hand, which was marked with the flag, the thunderbolt, and the lotus, and drew him towards him, and affectionately embraced him.
4-8Then Keśava and Rāma entered into conversation with him, and, having heard from him all that had occurred, were much pleased, and led him to their habitation: there they resumed their discourse, and gave him food to eat, and treated him with proper hospitality. Akrūra told them how their father Ānakadundubhi, the princess Devakī, and even his own father, Ugrasena, had been insulted by the iniquitous demon Kansa: he also related to them the purpose for which he had been dispatched. When he had told them all these things, the destroyer of Keśin said to him, “I was aware of all that you have told me, lord of liberal gifts:
9-10Rāma and I will go to-morrow to Mathurā along with you. The elders of the cowherds shall accompany us, bearing ample offerings. Rest here to-night and dismiss all anxiety. Within three nights I will slay Kansa and his adherents.”
11-13Having given orders accordingly to the cowherds, Akrūra, with Keśava and Rāma, retired to rest, and slept soundly in the dwelling of Nanda. The next morning was bright, and the youths prepared to depart for Mathurā with Akrūra. The Gopīs, seeing them about to set forth, were much afflicted; they wept bitterly, their bracelets were loose upon their arms, and they thus communed together:
14-18“If Govinda depart for Mathurā, how will he return to Gokula? his ears will there be regaled with the melodious and polished conversation of the women of the city. Accustomed to the language of the graceful females of Mathurā, he will never again endure the rustic expressions of the Gopīs. Hari, the pride of the station, is carried off, and a fatal blow is inflicted upon us by inexorable destiny, Expressive smiles, soft language, graceful airs, elegant gait, and significant glances, belong to the women of the city. Hari is of rustic breeding, and, captivated by their fascinations, what likelihood is there of his returning to the society of any one amongst us?
19-24Keśava, who has mounted the car to go to Mathurā, has been deceived by the cruel, vile, and desperate Akrūra. Does not the unfeeling traitor know the affection that we all here feel for our Hari, the joy of our eyes, that he is taking him away? Unkind that he is, Govinda is departing from us, along with Rāma: haste! let us stop him! Why talk of telling our seniors that we cannot bear his loss? What can they do for us, when we are consumed by the fires of separation? The Gopas, with Nanda at their head, are themselves preparing to depart; no one makes any attempt to detain Govinda. Bright is the morning that succeeds to this night for the women of Mathurā, for the bees of their eyes will feed upon the lotus face of Achyuta.
25-31Happy are they who may go hence without impediment, and behold, enraptured, Kṛṣṇa on his journey. A great festival will give pleasure to-day to the eyes of the inhabitants of Mathurā, when they see the person of Govinda. What a blissful vision will be seen by the happy women, of the city, whose brilliant eyes shall regard, unchecked, the countenance of Kṛṣṇa! Alas! the eyes of the Gopīs have been deprived of sight by the relentless Brahmā, after he had shewn them this great treasure. In proportion as the affection of Hari for us decays, so do our limbs wither, and the bracelets slip from our arms: and now the cruel Akrūra urges on the horses: all conspire to treat unhappy females with unkindness. Alas! alas! we see now only the dust of his chariot wheels! and now he is far away, for even that dust is no longer to be seen!”
32-42Thus lamented by the women, Keśava and Rāma quitted the district of Vraja[1]. Travelling in a car drawn by fleet horses, they arrived at noon at the banks of the Yamunā, when Akrūra requested them to halt a little, whilst he performed the usual daily ceremonial in the river[2]. Accordingly the intelligent Akrūra bathed, and rinsed his mouth, and then entering the stream, he stood meditating upon the supreme being; but he beheld mentally[3] Balabhadra, having a thousand hooded beads, a garland of Jasmine flowers, and large red eyes, attended by Vāsuki, Rambha, and other mighty serpents, praised by the Gandharvas, decorated with wild flowers, wearing dark coloured garments, crowned with a chaplet of lotuses, ornamented with brilliant earrings, inebriate, and standing at the bottom of the river in the water[4]. On his lap he also beheld, at his ease, Kṛṣṇa, of the complexion of a cloud[5], with full and coppery eyes, having an elegant form, and four hands, armed with the discus and other weapons, wearing yellow clothes, decorated with many coloured flowers, and appearing like a cloud embellished with streams of lightning and the bow of Indra; his breast was marked with the celestial sign, his arms were radiant with bracelets, a diadem shone on his brow, and he wore a white lotus for his crest: he was attended by Sanandana and other holy sages, who, fixing their eyes upon the tips of their noses, were absorbed in profound meditation.
43-47When Akrūra beheld Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa in this situation, he was much amazed, and wondered how they could so quickly have got there from the chariot. He wished to ask them this, but Janārddana deprived him of the faculty of speech at the moment. Ascending then from the water, he repaired to the car, and there he found them both quietly seated in the same human persons as before. Plunging again into the water, there he again beheld them, hymned as before by the Gandharvas, saints, sages, and serpents. Apprehending, therefore, their real character, he thus eulogized the eternal deity, who consists of true knowledge:-
48-58“Salutation to thee, who art uniform and manifold, all-pervading, supreme spirit, of inconceivable glory, and who art simple existence. Salutation to thee, O inscrutable, who art truth, and the essence of oblations. Salutation to thee, O lord, whose nature is unknown, who art beyond primeval matter, who existest in five forms, as one with the elements, with the faculties, with matter, with the living soul, with supreme spirit. Shew favour to me, O soul of the universe, essence of all things, perishable or eternal, whether addressed by the designation of Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Śiva, or the like. I adore thee, O god, whose nature is indescribable, whose purposes are inscrutable, whose name even is unknown; for the attributes of kind or appellation are not applicable to thee, who art THAT[6], the supreme Brahma, eternal, unchangeable, untreated. But as the accomplishment of our objects cannot be attained except through some specific form, thou art termed by us Kṛṣṇa, Achyuta, Ananta, or Viṣṇu. Thou, unborn divinity, art all the objects of these impersonations; thou art the gods, and all other beings; thou art the whole world; thou art all. Soul of the universe, thou art exempt from change, and there is nothing except thee in all this existence. Thou art Brahmā, Paśupati, Āryaman, Dhātri, and Vidhātri; thou art Indra, air, fire, the regent of the waters, the god of wealth, and judge of the dead; and thou, although but one, presidest over the world with various energies, addressed to various purposes. Thou, identical with the solar ray, createst the universe; all elementary substance is composed of thy qualities; and thy supreme form is denoted by the imperishable term SAT (existence). To him who is one with true knowledge, who is and is not perceptible, I bow. Glory be to him, the lord Vāsudeva, to Saṅkarṣaṇa, to Pradyumna, and to Aniruddha[7].”


[1] In the Bhāgavata, Hari Vaṃśa, &c. several adventures of Kṛṣṇa, during his residence at Vraja, are recorded, of which our text makes no mention. Of these, the two most popular are Kṛṣṇa’s taking away the clothes of the Gopīs whilst bathing, and his liberating the Gopas from the mouth of Aghāsura, disguised as a vast serpent, into which they had entered, thinking it a cavern in a mountain. The omission of these two legends, or of any of the rest, is not much to be regretted.
[2] The noonday prayer, or Sandhya.
[3] By his Dhyāna, or force of meditation, in which it is attempted to bring before the mind’s eye some definite form of the object of adoration. In this case Akrūra is compelled to see a form he did not anticipate. The Hari Vaṃśa very clumsily sets him to meditate upon the serpent Śeṣa, which spoils the story, intended as that is to exhibit the identity of Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa with the supreme.
[4] Balarāma was thus visible in his real character of Śeṣa, the chief of serpents, the couch of Viṣṇu, and supporter of the world.
[5] Or rather, he beheld Ghanaśyāma, an appellation of Kṛṣṇa, who is so called from being as black (śyama) as a cloud (ghana).
[6] Tad, ‘that;’ all that is, or that can be conceived.
[7] Akrūra’s piety is here prophetic; the son and grandson of Kṛṣṇa (see p. 440) are not yet born: but this is the Vaiṣṇava style of addressing Kṛṣṇa or Viṣṇu, as identical with four Vyūhas, ‘arrangements’ or ‘dispositions,’ Kṛṣṇa, Balarāma, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha. See As. Res. XVI. 35. In this, as in several other places, the Viṣṇu P. differs from some of the other narratives of Kṛṣṇa, by the length and character of the prayers addressed to Viṣṇu. The Hari Vaṃśa, for instance, here has no prayer or panegyric at all: the Bhāgavata inserts one.

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