Sri Krishna and
by J.N. GanharSri
Krishna, together with Sri Rama, is one of the two most popular of our
gods. Like Rama, Sri Krishna is an incarnation of God in human form. But
while there are so many places known after Sri Rama, there hardly is a
place in Jammu or Kashmir which has Krishna as part of its name. Nor for
the matter of that are there any place of worship associated with the two
gods; though in the Dogra times a number of temples to Sri Rama, or rather
Rughnath temples, have been erected in Srinagar, Jammu and some other places.
A few Radha Krishna temples were erected in Jammu city, Poonch and some
other places. But no Radha Krishna temple exists anywhere in Kashmir. And
this in spite of the fact that Sri Krishna has been very intimately associated
with Kashmir at the very beginning of the valley's history.
Gupta, the greatest of the Shiva philosopher's of Kashmir, has written
a brief and masterly commentary on the celestial song of Sri Krishna's
- Bhagvadgita which is recited by Hindus of Kashmir on many occasions in
their lives. In the 9th century, Avantivarman, the most illustrious and
enlightened king of Kashmir, attained Nirvana after the recitation of Bhagvadgita
got completed just before his death. After Abhinava Gupta, another celebrated
Sanskrit writer, Kshemendra, has mentioned Sri Krishna as one of the incarnations
of God in his Dasavtar Charita.
birth anniversary - Janam Ashtami - is celebrated with great pomp and religious
fervour at scores of places throughout the valley, besides Jammu.
decorated tableaus depicting Sri Krishna's life are paraded at many places
throughout the valley on the occasion of Janam Ashtami. In Kashmir, these
yatras are known as Veda-Bhagwan. Besides some devout Hindus of Srinagar
go to Guptganga at Ishber near the famous Mughal garden - Nishat Bagh to
have a dip in the holy waters of the spring there. Some more ardent devotees
ascend to the top of the steep mountain Sareshwari above Guptganga as part
of the celebrations of Janam Ashtami.
Dogra rule, the birthday of Sri Krishna on Janam Ashtami day was announced
by a gunfire from Hari Parbat Fort for the convenience of the devotees
on fast. Besides, Ras Lillas and dramas were staged at many places in Kashmir.
The names of
Sri Krishna and his consorts are very popular among Hindus of Kashmir.
Even at present, we come across hundreds of Hindu males and females having
is an esteemed theme in the later day Kashmiri poets like Parmanand, Krishna
Razdan, famous Radhaswami saint of Wanpoh Swami Gobind Jee and Harihar Koul. author of Harihar
Kalyan, besides others.
of Sri Krishna's birthday in Kashmir dates back to the hoary past. Nilamata
Purana describes the Janam Ashtami festival in verses 716 to 722. This
ancient (sixth century A.D.) text informs us that the festival was to be
celebrated on the eighth of the dark half of Bhadrapada. The images of
Sri Krishna, his spouse and his mothers, Devaki and Yashoda, were to be
worshipped. The next morning these were to be carried to the bank of a
river or a lake for immersion. The ladies were to do so while singing and
dancing. The occasion was to be observed as a fast and only barley food,
along with preparations of sugarcane, pepper and ghee was to be eaten.
It has been
stated above that Sri Krishna has been associated with Kashmir intimately
at the beginnings of its rccordcd history. Readers will naturally like
to know how this was so. There is a reference in Mahabharata of Panchal
Naresh who was the father of Panchali (Draupadi). Some historians believe
that the Panchal Naresh was the first king of the Pir Panchal belt which
stretches from Kishtwar to Muzaffarabad in the Jammu and Kashmir State.
Apart from the thought currents and religio- philosophical disquisitions
originating on the banks of the sacred Ganga and the Yamuna, which found
their echo in the far away valley, their ruling families were often connected
by matrimonial alliances. This was the case at the beginning of the Mahabharata
war. Accordingly, the Kashmir prince, Gonanda, went to help of his relative,
Jarasamdha, with a large force, and laid siege to Krishna's city, Mathura.
A grim battle ensued but ultimately when Sri Krishna's brother, Balbhadra,
joined the fray, the brave Kashmir warrior, was killed.
followed by his son, Damodara. He was also a brave ruler who could not
forget the fate his esteemed father had met at the hands of the Yadus.
He, therefore, lay in wait for an opportunity to avenge the death of his
father. This was not long in coming. Soon he learnt that the Yadus, including
their chief, Sri Krishna, were invited to Swayamvara on the banks of the
Sindhu (Indus) by the Gandharas. When the illustrious Damodara heard that
the Yadus had come, he led an expedition against them but the proud prince
met no better fate than his valient father; he too was killed.
did, however, not incorporate Kashmir into his own domain. Kashmir then
had a high reputation for sanctity; it was regarded as the manifestation
of goddess Parvati. Sri Krishna, therefore, had Damodara's pregnant widow,
Yashovati, installed on the throne. Yashovati is one of the first women
to have occupied a throne in the history of the world. Naturally, therefore,
many eye- brows were raised when Sri Krishna issued this unprecedented
decree; but he calmed the grumbling advisers and asked them to look upon
Yashovati as a mother and a goddess. And this is what the people did.
Shri J.N. Ganhar was a member of the Central Information Service and a
well-known author and columnist.]