Lord Krishna – the eighth incarnation of Vishnu spent his early life on earth in Mathura and adjoining Vrindavan & Gokul. All of Krishna’s time in Mathura was spent: 1. Solving his own problems (and the ones of his immediate family and his clan) – like ending Kansa’s lawless rule in Mathura, freeing his parents from prison and reinstating his grandfather Ugrasen as king of Mathura. 2. Having a great time – polishing off pots full of butter, playing the flute, dancing with the milkmaids. 3. Exhibiting his mystic powers every now and then – lifting a mountain, taming a venomous snake, kicking a cart into space.
By the time he completed his education and attained youth, Mathura was under constant attack from Jarasandh, Kansa’s father in law and ally who wanted revenge. Krishna, along with brother Balram and Mathura’s army, ensured Jarasandh’s invasions were kept at bay but Mathura was no longer safe and peaceful. Krishna saw this as the biggest obstacle in way of the prosperity of his clan, the Yadavs. Brave and self-respecting that the Yadavs were, they were ready to die for their homeland, but Krishna wanted peace. Krishna suggested Ugrasen move out of Mathura, which saw a huge uproar in the court. The Yadavs saw this retreat as cowardice and vehemently opposed the idea. Krishna’s reasoning for peace and prosperity convinced Ugrasen and the king’s approval ended the debate.
The clan moved to a city surrounded by the sea which, at the behest of Krishna, was created by Vishwakarma – the divine architect. Dwarka, as it came to be known, was remote and safe. The Yadavs felt secure and happy to be there. Soon, Ugrasen handed over the reins of the kingdom to Balaram and Krishna.
Having solved all his problems and with Balaram to look after Dwarka and its affairs, Krishna now had all the time to be the kingmaker and solve the problems of people who sought his help:
- Sudama – A childhood friend from a very poor background, Sudama decided to visit Krishna in Dwarka when he could no longer bear his poverty and see his family starve. Hearing the news of Sudama’s arrival, Krishna came out running to the palace gates and welcomed his long-lost friend with open arms. Krishna wept as he embraced an impoverished and fragile Sudama. The queens, courts men, guards and citizens were shocked to see their king hug a pauper. Sudama was given a royal welcome, and his stay was arranged in the royal guest house. Krishna showered Sudama with the best of hospitality, comforts and love. When together in their childhood, Sudama once ate Krishna’s share of beaten rice, to which Krishna had said that he’ll ensure he gets his share back someday. To make amends, Sudama carried a fistful of beaten rice, tied in a piece of cloth, but was too embarrassed to offer that to the king of Dwarka. Sensing Sudama would never offer it, Krishna snatched the bundle and as savoured every morsel, tears of joy tolled down Sudama’s cheeks. Having received such a grand treatment, Sudama couldn’t muster the courage to ask Krishna for financial help and bid adieu. All the while on the way back home, Sudama remained worried about his family’s well being and future. Upon reaching home, Sudama was astonished to see that the life he lived earlier had mysteriously transformed. His humble dwelling was now a mansion, his wife and children were healthy, happy and adorned fine silks. Krishna’s mystic powers had blessed Sudama, who spent all his life sings praises for his friend, the king of Dwarka.
- Rukmini – Krishna’s mystic powers had made stories across the country and with Dwarka counted as one of the prominent kingdoms, Krishna’s name was well known. Jarasandh hadn’t buried his hatchet with the Yadavs and was forging alliances against them. He wanted to get one of his allies Shishupal married to Rukmini, the princess of Vidarbha. Marriages helped seal alliances. Rukmini’s father Bhishmak and brother Rukmi, the king and prince of Vidarbha, respectively had accepted the proposal. Rukmini’s was neither asked nor did her opinion matter. She was just informed. Rukmini didn’t like Shishupal and hence was against the idea of this marriage. She knew that her father had agreed and wouldn’t go against his word. Having heard a lot about Krishna, she was already in love. With no other option in sight, Rukmini wrote a letter expressing her feelings and requesting help. A trusted messenger was sent to Dwarka carrying the letter. Touched reading Rukmini’s feelings, Krishna decided to help. He set out to rescue, with Balaram and the army escorting him. The capital was decorated for the wedding. The king’s allies, including Jarasandh, had arrived to grace the occasion. Rukmini was in anticipation as the dreaded wedding with Shishupal got closer. To calm her tense nerves, Rukmini visited the temple every day. One day, as she got out after finishing her prayers, she saw Krishna’s chariot approaching. Dressed in yellow silks and adorning his usual peacock crown, Krishna’s sight made Rukmini feel delighted and grateful. Before her guards could sense any danger, Krishna swiftly swept her into the chariot. With one sharp pull of the reins, the horses pulling the chariot galloped, and they fled! As the news spread, Rukmi and Shishupal chased. Balaram engaged Shishupal and Krishna got into a duel with Rukmi. No weapon could match Krishna’s Sudarshan Chakra and Rukmi stood defeated. This time, the city that was decorated for a wedding was Dwarka.
- Arjun & Duryodhan – The feud between Kauravs and Pandavs had reached its final frontier. The backdrop was set for an epic battle. All kingdoms put together, there were 18 Akshauhinis (Four-winged battalions comprising a fixed set of infantry, cavalry and chariots mounted warriors). The Kauravs and their allies, had amassed nine battalions and the Pandavs and their allies, had amassed seven. The balance two battalions would either skew the strength of numbers in the favour of Kauravs or balance the numbers equally between the warring sides. Having realized the math, both Yudhisthir and Duryodhan wanted the two battalions – which were under the command of none other than Krishna. Given Krishna’s stature, Shakuni advised Duryodhan to personally visit Dwarka and ask for Krishna’s help. Shakuni hated Krishna and was fully aware of his fondness for the Pandavs but he also knew that Krishna was too big for emissaries and thought that Duryodhan visiting personally would be a great idea. On the other hand, Yudhisthir entrusted Arjun, Krishna’s favourite among the Pandavs, to visit Dwarka. That Krishna would choose the Pandavs was clear, given Krishna’s belief that Pandavs were cheated, had their kingdom usurped but remained righteous. It was out of sheer respect that the Pandavs too sent Arjun to seek Krishna’s help. Their visits to Dwarka coincided and when Arjun reached Krishna’s chamber, he saw him sleeping and Duryodhan sitting by his head, waiting for his slumber to end. Arjun too decided to wait and stood by his feet. In some time, Krishna woke up and heard the purpose of the visits. What followed was nothing short of a drama. Krishna made some observations and suggestions to which Duryodhan disagreed. Krishna reasoned further and overruled all objections. Krishna laid out options, Arjun got the first choice and Duryodhan was delighted. Both the warring sides ended up getting something. As a matter of fact, Krishna played it in a way both Arjun and Duryodhan got what they wanted. Even Duryodhan, who’s attitude and deeds Krishna disliked, didn’t return empty handed from Dwarka.
The four examples illustrate that fact that those who seek Krishna’s help, must see him in Dwarka. All the pleas made in Dwarka were answered and no one returned empty handed from there!
The Dwarka of today: Dwarka is one of the four dhams, the four sacred pilgrimage sites for Hindus situated in modern day Gujarat. The main temples dedicated to Krishna are: 1. The Dwarkashish Temple situated in Dwarka city is considered Krishna’s court, from where he rules and 2. The Bet Dwarka Temple, situated on a small island off the coast of Dwarka is considered Krishna’s residence. Sudama is said to have visited him here.
Read more about what happened when Arjun & Duryodhan visited Krishna: The Sons of Kunti & Their Inspirational Stories: Part 4 of 4 – Arjun choosing quality over quantity