दामोदरोऽयं परिगृह्य नागं विक्षोभ्य तोयं च समूलमस्य ।
भोगे स्थितो नीलभुजङ्गमस्य मेघे स्थितः शक्र इवावभाति ॥
Having seized the serpent and stirring up the entire water of this great river; Damodar, who is adorning the hood of Kayila Naga, seems like Indra glorifying the clouds.
There is one Bal Kanhaji (baby Krishna, just like the new born babe in the manger i.e. Jesus) in every family. The tradition of dressing up kids like Radha and Krishna on the occasion of Janmashtmi is wide spread. So, while the devotees of lord Krishna celebrate his birth tonight, let’s reflect upon the Lilas of Krishna (his childhood mischiefs).
Most of the people, who are acquainted with Krishna stories would surely remember one or the other mischief done by him – be it teasing the milkmaids or stealing butter. And then there are incidents where dark forces are defeated by the lord. There is one such incident of lord Krishna conquering the formidable snake Kali. The incident is widely known as Kaliya-Naga-Daman.
A little introduction. Child Krishna lives in Gokul (a village populated by cow-herds) and spends his time playing with other children. Adored by his guardian parents Yashoda and Nanda, young Krishna has won hearts of everyone around him. One day a huge vicious snake called Kaliya-Naga comes to live (actually hide) in the river Yamuna. He contaminated the water of the river to the extent that let alone the aquatic animals, even the birds flying above the river died. People were terrified. So, to save them all, Krishna jumps into the water from the top of a Kadamba tree and confronts the Kali. After an appalling war, the Kaliya-Naga is conquered. The whole episode is so awe inspiring and filled with wonder that we would hardly think anything beyond the story. But, if we try to analyse it, there is something that can inspire us.
The serpent, or snake, is one of the oldest and most widespread mythological symbols. Out of many good and bad symbolic values, serpents are connected with vengefulness and deceit. So, just like how the lord took charge of the evil force, if we would resolve to control the negativities within us; we can free our mind from quite a lot of unwanted burden.
Serpent, on the other hand also represents the Kundalini-Shakti. It is the primal energy that is located at the base of the spine, waiting to be awakened. Kundalini literary means ‘the coiled one’. Different spiritual traditions teach methods of “awakening” Kundalini for the purpose of reaching spiritual enlightenment. The progress of Kundalini through the different chakras (seven energy points or nodes in the subtle body) leads to different levels of awakening and mystical experience, until Kundalini finally reaches the top of the head, Sahasrara or crown chakra, producing an extremely profound transformation of consciousness. (For details, just google and for more details refer to Patanjali’s Yoga-sutra.)
Working on the seven chakras leads one to a healthy and happy body. And purifying and strengthening body is a prerequisite for attaining any goal. So, if one would chose to focus on one’s Kundalini Shakti, he/she is gifting him/herself a wonderful mind and body to work with. What a gift that would be!
So this Janmashtami, let us find the inspiration from the great Yogi Krishna to provoke the power within.
(The above post is based on a mini-thesis that I wrote during my master’s degree. It was prepared under the guidance of Dr. V. M. Bhatt and Dr. Prashant Dave. I am thankful for their motivation and constant help in my academic endeavors.)