Nilanjana recounts the tale of the polluted lake and Kaliya, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
Parikshit observed, “The life of Krishna was most certainly not easy. From his birth through childhood, he was constantly challenged.”
“Oh yes,” Sukha agreed, “Krishna was most certainly a brave lad. The way he handled Kaliya is no mean feat.”
“Who is Kaliya?” Parikshit asked.
Sukha continued narrating, “In Vrindavan, very close to where Krishna and his friends took their respective cows for grazing, there was a lake called Madu. The lake was close to the river Yamuna and the water from the river often flowed into the lake. But the lake was poisonous. The poison was so virulent that the trees in the surrounding area had died. The dead trees stood there without any leaf or sign of life waiting for some storm to ground them. Birds did not fly around the area and animals avoided drinking water from this particular lake. The story of the danger lurking in the waters of the lake was widespread and people avoided the lake as much as they could.
The lake was actually inhabited by the poisonous snake, Kaliya, and his wives. Kaliya was notorious and did not like to be disturbed. He, therefore, used the poison as a tool to keep the lake all to himself, completely forgetting that natural resources are for everybody’s use and consumption.
On this fateful day, Balarama decided to stay behind. Krishna and his friends went out to graze the cows. As usual, they had a lot of fun and play around. In their fun and frolic, they forgot that they are going too close to the poisonous lake. When some cowherds felt thirsty, they drank the water from Madu. The thirst made them forget all the warnings about the polluted lake.
After a while, Krishna noticed that some of his companions were missing. He and some of the other boys went around trying to locate them. The missing companions and their cows were found on the banks of Lake Madu. The poison was so strong that all those who drank the water had fainted and were lying on the ground as they were dead.
Krishna looked at the water of Lake Madu. The black water was simmering and frothing, emitting poisonous gases. Krishna turned his gaze around to the dead trees nearby. As he looked around, he spotted a Kadamba tree. The poison had not touched this tall tree. It was believed that Garuda had rested here for a while when he was carrying the nectar back to release his mother from bondage. Hence the tree could withstand the poison that Kaliya emitted.
As the tree looked sturdy, Krishna began to climb the tree. His friends, the cowherds, looked at him with a puzzled look in their eyes. Some of them ran back home to inform Yashoda and Nandagopa. Meanwhile, Krishna had reached the top of the tree. He waved to his friends, as if assuring them, and then jumped into the poisonous water of Lake Madu…
[To be continued]
Photos from the Internet
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