23rd June, 2015. Gurgaon
Since last few weeks I am hearing a most nectarean seminar on `demons in Krishna’s pastimes’ and what anarthas they represent with in us by HG Srimati Mataji. This seminar is very different, and way sweeter, than anything I have ever heard on this wonderful topic. I was particularly stuck by the prayers of Nāgapatnīs, wives of serpent Kaliya. Their prayers teach us in what mood to pray to Krishna in difficulty and we know the result of such prayers to Him.
The below content is from Srila Kavi-Karnpura’s Ananda Vrindavana Champu, which is very similar to the same pastime mentioned in Krishna book, and in the end are some comments from HG Srimati Mataji.
The ruthless steps of Vanamali Krishna’s tandava dance devastated the serpent. Blood streamed from Kaliya’s mouths, his eyes popped out, and his hoods completely collapsed. Seeing their husband vanquished and heart broken, the Nagapatnis felt sorry for him and cried piteously. Out of affection for him they thought, “Our husband will not survive unless he attains the mercy of the Lord.” Abandoning all fear and shyness, the Nagapatnis put their children on their laps and approached Krishna to petition Him on behalf of their husband.
The Nagapatnis offered prayers to Shri Krishna with sweet voices: “O Lord, all glories unto You! O crest-jewel on the head of the demigods! Who other than You can be the Supreme Brahman? Brahma and Siva constantly glorify You, the unlimited ocean of transcendental qualities. The yogis and paramahamsas happily praise and meditate upon Your lotus feet, which are forever massaged by the auspicious lotus hands of Goddess Laksmi. As a swan extracts milk from a watery mixture, the paramahamsas reject the four desirable goals of human life to immerse themselves in the bliss of Your service. “O Lord, extolled throughout the Vedas! Please hear our prayer. O Lord, You are the personification of eternity, bliss and knowledge! You assume a transcendental body to annihilate all the demons! You are the oldest, the origin of everything, and yet You are an ever-fresh youth. You are the fountainhead of all the Vishnu expansions! O Supreme Personality of Godhead! Please give up Your anger and show us Your mercy!
“O Vasudeva, You are the life-giving Lord of all! O Sankarsana, You remove all the miseries of the universe! O Pradyumna, You are the treasure of love for all the Vrajavasis! O Aniruddha, Your Yogamaya potency prevents ordinary people from perceiving You! You are the Supersoul of all the demigods! Ah! You are the life and soul of the Vrajavasis. Be pleased with our prayers, O Lord, for the life of our husband is about to depart.
“Your lotus feet which delight the atmaramas, remove all mental anxieties, and are rarely achieved even in samadhi now stand on the hoods of our husband. O Lord, we have no idea how Kaliya has attained such a rare fortune. This wicked snake deserves to be punished. Only by Your mercy can one give up his wickedness and follow the righteous path. It is impossible for a living entity to do this on his own.
“O Lord! You alone maintain the entire universe created by the three modes of material nature by the mode of goodness, which purifies the mind. You create the world with passion and by ignorance, which is darker than night, You destroy the creation. O mighty armed! It is by name only that Vishnu, who rides on Garuda, is called the maintainer, and that Brahma, who sits upon a lotus, is the creator, and that Siva, who sits atop Nandi, is called the destroyer.
“O one who is dear to those who have nothing! Living entities appear by different combinations of the modes of nature. Being born in the mode of ignorance, it is natural for a snake like Kaliya to be crooked. As it is impossible to see a flower creeper in the sky, it also impossible to find gentle behavior or good manners in him. He does nothing good for anyone, and he has no power to overcome Your maya. This is the nature of one who lives in hole.
“His actions cannot be considered offensive because that is his very nature. So how can You, who are eternally liberated, the ocean of mercy, and full of all opulence, deny him Your mercy? You always treat everyone equally and all Your acts convey auspiciousness. Therefore, please quickly show Your mercy to our afflicted husband. It does not befit You to kill such a lowly living entity.
“Even Siva, Brahma, Laksmi, and the sannyasis who perform sadhana, meditation, and attentive service cannot understand You. Hence, how can Kaliya, who is bewildered by pride and ignorance, know You? Your playful kicks and dancing on his heads have practically killed him. Although he is a very powerful serpent, he is so weakened that only his life air remains. Indeed he is cruel and ill behaved, but nevertheless he is one of Your living entities. Alas! We hope he will not die. Please forgive his offense and return our husband so that we will not become widows.” The gentle beautiful Nagapatnis petitioned the Lord with piteous choked voices.
Krishna responded compassionately by dissipating His anger and reducing the punishment. Smiling sweetly, Krishna replied to the wives of Kaliya, “Do not fear. Although I am very angry, your sweet appeal has satisfied Me. As a monsoon shower extinguishes a forest fire, your pleasing prayers have removed My intense anger. As a result I will spare his life. Now I request you to take your husband and return to your original abode. Since your husband’s heads are now decorated with My bliss-giving lotus footprints, Garuda will feel blessed to see them. From now on you need not fear him.”His false pride broken like a person bent over from carrying a heavy mass of iron, Kaliya felt relieved and happy by the Lord’s assurance of protection. With fear, devotion, and submission Kaliya said, “O Lord! With all Your opulence You appear in this world to crush the demons and award the treasure of prema to Your devotees. As long as the sun and the moon remain, Your beautiful pastimes will give joy to the minds of Your devotees. You always bring immediate auspiciousness to the unfortunate. O abode of compassion!
“The River Yamuna is the ideal place for Your pastimes. Therefore You have rightly punished me for my offense of poisoning her waters. Who could have shown me more mercy than You? Your dancing has decorated my hoods with the splendid marks of Your lotus feet. Now my life has become completely auspicious. O younger brother of Baladeva! By Your order I will now return to Ramanaka Island. O Supreme Lord of all the demigods! Due to some misfortune I have offended You. O You who wear makara kunddla earrings! Please forgive me for my offensive behavior.”
Concluding his prayer, Kaliya took out some special jewels from his collection and presented a valuable ruby and pearl necklace to Krishna as a ‘gift. Then he and his family offered obeisances to the Lord and left the Yamuna. Immediately the water transformed into the sweetest nectar. After Kaliya left, the prince of Vraja, who ever enacts fresh and effulgent playful pastimes, climbed up on the bank of the Yamuna. The golden bangles on His lotus hands glistened attractively and His shimmering dhoti defeated the brightness of lightning.
HG Srimati Mataji : “It’s a wonderful way the wives of Kalilya deal with the situation. Important thing to remember here is that they are not approaching Krishna for their own benefit, they are approaching Krishna for somebody else. It’s interesting what they do, first they access the situation, without losing any time they approach Krishna. In a respectful and cultured way they offer their obeisances and surrender to Krishna. Their only desire was to save Kaliya by pleasing Krishna with their prayers. They didn’t cry, argue, lament or chastise Krishna. They admitted that Krishna’s punishment of Kaliya was exactly the right thing. They understood and said that Krishna’s mercy and punishment were non different. That everything Krishna does is for our good! Do we think like that ? They praised Kaliya’s good fortune, having Krishna’s lotus feet dance on his head. That although he was such a lowly creature, he received the highest mercy. Pleading for Krishna’s mercy upon them they beseech Krishna to kindly excuse Kaliya’s offenses because after all he is also one of His offspring! They acknowledge that they were his eternal servants and they offered their loving service. In Krishna Book Nagapatnis plead:
” Our dear Lord, we are offering our loving service unto You because we are all eternal servitors of Your Lordship. You can order us to do whatever You please. Every living being can be relieved from all kinds of despair if he agrees to abide by Your orders.”
Very amazing statement ! What they are basically saying here is that even if you decide to kill Kaliya, that’s Your prerogative, even if You do that we understand that its the best thing. How could Krishna not hear such prayers! Nagapatnis showed no malice towards Him or towards Kaliya and they prayed in full surrender to Krishna.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura tell us that the reason Krishna forgave Kaliya’s very sever offense to Garuda and to the Vrajavasis was because of the prayers of his wives. He also tells us that this pastime clearly shows that Krishna’s activities benefit both the victims of violence and those who inflict such violence, certainly there is no malice in our Krishna. Not that Krishna just looked after the wives and didn’t look after Kaliya. Both, those who commit the violence and those who suffer it, Krishna takes care of both. He deals with them differently but he deals with both. Krishna has no malice towards anybody.”
It was simply pure nectar to hear the above pastime, mentioned in various scriptures, which ran into more that 1.5hours. But the part which stuck me most were these amazing prayers of Nagapatnis and how they touch Krishna’s heart. I also learnt how Krishna’s mercy and punishment are both good for us. Of course, it is a different experience when we hear such pastimes from pure devotees of Lord, the way Mataji explained this whole mood of being surrendered in detail was definitely an eye opener for a neophyte like myself. We can read about this complete pastime in chapter 16 of Krishna Book.
Today, I sincerely believe that being in ISKCON, and always remaining under the shelter of Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet, our good fortune knows no bounds.
All glories to the wonderful pastimes of Krishna.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.