Shri Krishna Janmashtami
Duration: 20 minutes
Comments in italics should be spoken by the announcer of the play. The starting and ending of a scene must also be announced.
Shri Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, was born in a prison in the city of Mathura, ruled at the time by a brutal king Kansa of the Yadu dynasty, who had imprisoned his own elderly father, Ugrasen, on order to become king. He tortured all devotees of the lord and decreed that he alone was supreme. The people in his kingdom suffered under him and prayed that they be saved. Alarmed at the state of their devotees on earth, and touched by their cries for help, the Devatas, led by Indra, Brahmaji and others approached Bhagwan Vishnu in Vaikuntha.
Brahmaji: Glory to you Bhagwan Vishnu. We come here to seek your help and blessings so that your universe can live in peace.
Bhagwan Vishnu: Glory as well to you Pitamah. Indra, please tell me why all the Devatas have come all the way to my abode.
Indra: Bhagwan, people on earth are suffering at the hands of a brutal king, who rules in Mathura, having imprisoned his own father. The Dvapar Yuga is coming to a close, O Lord. We are very worried about the future of humanity.
Bhagwan Vishnu: Fear not O Devatas. It is time for me to take avatar on earth and rid it once again of evil. I will soon take birth in Mathura to Devaki and Vasudev. I will kill Kansa and other persons of demonic character and restore peace to Prithivi Devi.
Brahmaji and All Devatas: All hail Bhagwan Vishnu, the protector of the weak and the refuge of all good men.
In Mathura, it is a time for festivities for Devaki, Kansa’s sister, has just married Vasudev, a friend of Kansa. Kansa is overjoyed and decides to drive their chariot himself. As Devaki is leaving the royal palace, a sadhu approaches the royal procession and obstructs the path of Kansa.
Sadhu: Kansa, you are happy today while your people weep because of your cruelty. But that day has come that I was waiting for.
Kansa: Crazy Sadhu, get out of the way. If it is gold you desire, you will be given your heart’s fill.
Sadhu: I do not need your gold O wicked one. I have only come to express joy at the union of Devaki with Vasudev. It is the beginning of your end.
Kansa (laughing): Perhaps staying in the forest has caused your senses to become covered with ant-hills. Do you know that I am all-powerful.
Sadhu: Laugh all you want Kansa. Devaki’s son will kill you with his bare hands.
Kansa: What nonsense! Guards, get this Sadhu out of here.
Sadhu: Kansa, Sadhus do not speak an untruth. (looking skywards) Bhagwan, please tell this wicked one that I do not lie.
Just then a akashvani (celestial voice) rings in the sky
Akashvani: Kansa, the eighth son of Devaki will slay you.
Kansa gets scared at this. He instructs his guards to immediately arrest Vasudev and Devaki. While in prison, Vasudev and Devaki give birth to six children, each of whom is brutally killed by Kansa. When Devaki is pregnant with her seventh child, Rohini, another wife of Vasudev, pays them a visit in prison and takes the pregnant child of Devaki. This child grew up to be Balaram. Through the grace of the lord, Devaki and Vasudev manage to smuggle out their eighth child out of the prison and take him to Gokul, in the house of Vasudev’s friend Nanda and his wife Yashoda. Vasudev returns to the prison of Kansa. The eighth child grows up in Gokul surrounded by the cows of Nanda and the adoring love of Yashoda. He was Shri Krishna.
Growing up in Gokul was fun. In the morning you took the cows out to the pastures by the holy Yamuna river. There, as the cows grazed, you played all day with the cowherds. In his leela here on earth, Shri Krishna appeared as just another cowherd. All the cowherds loved to be around Shri Krishna. When he would start playing his flute, the whole atmosphere used to become divine. The cows would forget their eating and come running. The cowherds would forget their games and fight with one another to be closer to Shri Krishna. Whoever heard the music from Shri Krishna’s flute could not help but run to him.
But Bhagwan Shri Krishna never did reveal his divine powers to everyone. To all his friends, he was their beloved Shri Krishna. Another incident in Braj, reveals how even Shri Krishna’s closest devotees could not see his divinity.
The residents of Gokul used to worship Indra, the King of the Devatas, every year to bring good rains. Once, as the preparations for worship of Indra were about to start, Shri Krishna asked as to why Indra was being worshipped. When he was told that it was to bring in good rains, he said that they should instead worship the Govardhan Hill, because it was because of the mountain that the area got good rains. When the people started to prepare for worshipping the Govardhan Hill, Indra became furious.
Indra: How dare the people of Gokul thank anyone but me for their good rains. It is because of me that they have good rainfall. I will punish them for worshipping a mere mountain.
So saying, Indra orders a cloud to burst over Gokul. Immediately, the whole village is flooded and heavy rains lash down on the area. Shri Krishna calls for everyone to take refuge in the Govardhan Hill. He lifts the whole mountain with his little finger and the whole village gathers under the mountain. Others try and support the mountain with their bodies and sticks. However all their effort is not necessary as Shri Krishna’s little finger is enough. But still they think they are supporting the mountain!
Shri Krishna: Look at the holy Govardhan Hill. It is protecting its devotees even from the rains of Indra.
People (chorus): Govardhan Parvat Ki Jai
Person 1: O Krishna, how long do we have to be like this. Our homes are flooded and we have nothing to go back to.
Shri Krishna: Do not worry brother, all this will end very soon.
Meanwhile, all the friends of Krishna, who are using their hands, bodies and sticks to support the mountain look at Shri Krishna and see him using his little finger. Seeing this they get angry.
Friend 1: Shridama, Madhumangal, everyone, come and see this. Look, we are using both our hands and our sticks to support this heavy mountain and look at this royal prince Krishna, he is using his little finger.
Shridama: Ai Kanua (a slang for Shri Shri Krishna – the name the cowherds used for him), you think you are some royal prince?
Madhumangal: Right said Shridama. My hands are aching even as I speak and this Kanua is acting as if he is a little flower.
Shri Krishna smiles at this friends and their love, in the form of their fake anger, gives him unlimited joy. He knows their hearts because they have caused him to live there permanently.
Bhagwan knew that he would soon have to go to Mathura to slay Kansa. When the news of his departure reached the people of Braj, everyone was broken hearted. The tears of the Gopis, the Gwalbal and others knew no stopping, what to speak of Mother Yashoda. However, just like the river Ganga does not stay in the Himalayas but flows all the way to Gangasagar, to wash the sins of millions, even so, Bhagwan Shri Krishna had to leave Gokul so other thirsting souls could get a glimpse of him.
Upon arriving in Mathura, he killed his cruel uncle Kansa and re-installed his grandfather Ugrasen on the throne of the kingdom. However, because of attacks from neighboring kingdoms, Mathura knew no peace. So Shri Krishna decided to move the capital of the kingdom to Dwarka, on the coast of Sindhusagar. Here, the people lived in peace. In due course, the Kuru dynasty of Hastinapur started preparing for a war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas.
Shri Krishna agreed to drive the chariot of Arjuna, a Pandava. Shri Krishna’s army was given in the services of the Kaurava army. On the battlefield of Kruskshetra, Arjuna, seeing his grandfather, his uncles, his guru and his cousins getting ready to fight him, said to Shri Krishna.
Arjuna: O Shri Krishna, my throat is dry, and hands shake and my kneed tremble. Not because I am coward but because I am about to fight a war that I can win only if I kill those dear to me. Of what use will be a kingdom won by killing one’s own loved ones?
Shri Krishna: Arjuna, such fear does not look good on a brave warrior such as yourself. It is your duty to fight this battle as a Kshatriya.
Arjuna: Bhagwan, it is said that the aim of life is to seek God. Why should I not take Sannyas, retire to the mountains and spend the rest of my life in prayer in meditation?
Shri Krishna: Arjun, you say this not because you truly seek God, but because you do not wish to slay your loved ones. In such a state, you cannot seek God. I tell you this because I know you and I am your friend. Do not fear. What you think you will destroy is only the flesh, which like clothes, the Atma ever changes in its journey towards me. The Atma cannot be destroyed.
Arjuna: My lord, I am your devotee. But if I kill, would that not be sinful for your devotee?
Shri Krishna: Arjuna, it is fair to kill those who are aligned with the forces of falsehood and unrighteousness. Now, forget even if your are worried about Dharma and Adharma, I tell you to leave all thoughts of what is right and what is wrong and surrender yourself completely to me. Take refuge in me I will not only forgive all your sins, but I will also give you Moksha, which is the ultimate goal of life. But fight you must.
Arjuna: Bhagwan, my strength returns, thanks to your encouraging words. I am ready to pick up the Gandiva (Arjuna’s bow) and I am ready for this Dharmayudha (battle for the establishment of Dharma).
In the war of Mahabharata, which lasted for 18 days, the Pandavas emerged victorious. The message from Shri Krishna to Arjuna has become immortalized as Shrimad Bhagwat Gita, which even today gives saintly advice to all who seek it, irrespective of any barrier.
Today, we are living in the Kali Yuga, the dark age. Truthfullness, dharma, kindness, these are taken as weaknesses. On the other hand, might-is-right, make-hay-while-the-sun-shines, these have become the motto of most people. In such times, it is only faith that can sustain us. Faith in Shri Krishna and faith in the words of our scriptures. Let us see how different types of people live in the year 2004.
The scene is a room full of people, somewhere on earth in 2004. One of the persons is a successful banker, another a successful lawyer. Yet another is a famous doctor and another is a pioneering engineer. They are all famous and at the peak of their careers. However, they are not happy. They are discussing their lives when a sadhu happens to listen in.
Banker: I create wealth worth millions of dollars every day. In a month, I make at least a million dollars. But I cannot say I am happy. Last month, my 5-year old son fell seriously ill and he was in the hospital for 5 days. I looked out of the hospital window and saw a man sitting on the streets begging. I thought, that beggar is happier than I am.
Doctor: I have cured hundreds of people of diseases. But it seems I have no cure for my unhappiness. My children do not listen to me and do not respect me.
Lawyer: My doctor friend, I too have helped people win lawsuits. But it seems I could not prevent my own divorce. At the divorce hearing, my wife said I was too busy fighting for my clients that I forgot to look after my own family.
Engineer: That is indeed sad. It seems like we are very successful men but are also unhappy. Alas, is there any cure for our disease? Why hasn’t money protected us from unhappiness? I wish I knew.
At this point the Sadhu looks at the four friends and addresses them.
Sadhu: Dear brothers, I have been listening to your conversation. I myself am a very poor man and I have nothing – no house, no wife, no children and no money. But I am very happy.
All Four: Then how can you say you are happy?
Sadhu: I sleep under the blue sky that God has created, I eat the fruits that grow because God waters them, and I drink the water in the rivers that God causes to flow. I live in the forest and say the name of Krishna all day. This gives me happiness.
All Four: How can having nothing and saying Krishna’s name give you happiness? You need something at least to survive, don’t you?
Sadhu: Brothers, you are unhappy because you put your own needs in the middle and run your life around it. I am happy because I put the source of all happiness – Krishna – in the middle and run my life around Him. When I run my life around the source of happiness itself, what else can I be but happy?
All Four: O Sadhu, we understand you. Please help us. Tell us how we too can put Krishna in our lives?
Sadhu: Brothers, do not run after your needs and desires. Think more of others and less of yourself. Practice truthfulness and be ever ready to help those in need. Krishna is pleased with very little if one’s heart is pure. Take Krishna’s name everyday and happiness will come to you itself.
All Four: What if we are not able to do what you say? What if we fail O Sadhu?
Sadhu: Krishna only wants you to make a sincere effort. Leave the rest to him. Take one step towards him and he will take ten steps towards you. Fear not brothers, Krishna ever hears the call of his bhaktas. Take the first small step towards the source of unending bliss. Take the first small step towards Krishna.
All Four: Thank you dear Sadhu. We will try, and if we fail, we will try again. But you have opened our eyes today. Thank you.
So saying, the four friends go back to their lives with hope in their hearts. The sadhu goes back to the Lord’s forest.
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