Krishna Episode 24 – Slaying the demon Dhenuka

slaying dhenuka

After attaining the pauganda stage (boyhood from the age of six to nine), those two brothers (Balarama and Kṛṣṇa) were approved (by Nanda and others) as suitable for the job of tending the cows’. While grazing the cows and their calves in company of their friends, they rendered the region of Vṛndāvana extremely sacred, by their foot-prints . On one occasion, playing on his own flute, accompanied by Balarama and surrounded by cowherds singing his glory, Madhava (Krsna, the Lord of Laksmi as well as the spring) tending his herd of kine in front of him, and desirous of indulging in sports, entered a forest blossoming with flowers and affording a good pasture suitable to the cattle.


Observing that the (Vrndávana) forest was resounded with the sweet notes, sound and humming of birds, beasts (or deer) and bees, and was wafted with a breeze cool due to its contact with pools with waters translucent like (the pure) minds of the great, and fragrant with lotuses, the Lord set his heart to play there. Perceiving at every place, trees glowing with the beauty of reddish foliage and touching their feet with their heads-top branches-heavy with a burden of fruits and flowers, Krsna, the Primeval Person, slightly smiled out of delight, and addressed his elder brother.


The glorious Lord said: Oh How wonderful! Carrying the presents of fruits and flowers on their heads (top branches), these trees bow down their heads (branches) laden heavily with fruits to your lotus-feet which are adored by the immortals, with a view to absolve themselves of the sin or ignorance (tamas) which caused their birth as trees, Oh prominent God.These(humming)bees, singing your glory that purifies all the world, are resorting to you at every step you the Ancient most Person. Most probably, these are the hosts of sages who are prominent among devotees, and they do not let you miss their personal Deity-even though you lie concealed in the (Vṛndavana) forest, Oh sinless one!


On your arrival at their home, the peacocks are dancing joyously; the female deer, overwhelmed with joy are giving you delight with their oglings like unto cowherd women (of Vraja), and the flocks of cuckoos welcome you with their sweet cooing. Blessed are these forest-dwellers.¹ For such is the nature of the saintly persons. Blessed is the earth today; and also the blades of grass and plants touching your feet, and the trees and creepers gently pricked by your nails (to pluck leaves or flowers), and the rivers, hills, birds and beasts that have been viewed at with kind looks, and the Gopa girls who are hugged to your bosom (between your arms) for which even the goddess of beauty, (Lakṣmi) longs.


Being delighted at least at the sight of Vrndāvana (the beauty of which is described above), Lord Krsna enjoyed himself along with his companions, while grazing the cows in the pastures on the river bank, in the vicinity of the (Govardhana) mount. Adorned with garlands and accompanied by Balarama (Sankarsana), he used to burst out into singing in imitation of the sweet humming of bees intoxicated with the honey sucked by them, while his followers were extolling his feats in song. Sometimes he imitated the rapturous notes of swans, and sometimes he danced mimicking the dancing peacocks, provoking his companions to laughter. Sometimes he imitated the chattering of the parrots in sweet indistinct words. Sometimes he sweetly cooed in imitation of the warbling and cooing of cuckoos.


Sometimes, in a voice deep and sonorous like the rumbling of clouds, and extremely fascinating to the cows and cowherds (alike), he would affectionately call out (by names) cows that have strayed away to distant pastures.He used to imitate the notes and cries of birds like Cakora (a fabulous bird subsisting on lunar rays), Kraulica (a curlew or heron), cakravaka (the ruddy goose), Bharadvaja (a sky-lark) and also peacocks, and sometimes behaved or shrieked like animals terrified at tigers and lions. Sometimes by shampooing his feet and rendering other services (like fanning), Krsna would remove the fatigue of his elder brother, Balarama, exhausted with playing, and lying with his head on the cushion-like lap of a cowherd boy.


Sometimes holding each other by hands, they (Balarama and Krspa) laughingly applauded the cowherd. boys who were dancing, capering, singing, prattling and wrest ling with each other. At times, being exhausted with (physical) exertions in wrestling, he used to lie on different beds of tender leaves (prepared by his companions) at the foot of trees, placing his head on the cushion-like laps of (elderly) cowherd-boys. Some cowherd boys kneaded the feet of the great souled Lord while other sinless ones fanned him with fans made of tender leaves. Others whose hearts (lit. intellect) were steeped in love and devotion for him, sang gently and in sweet low tone beautiful songs suitable for the occasion, and pleasing to him (or songs pertaining to his feats), .In this way, Krishna, by his Mâyä, had concealed his course (i.e. real divine nature) and played his role as a cowherd boy by his acts (sports and behaviour). The Lord whose foliage-like tender feet were caressed by goddess Laksmi played like a rustic boy with rustics, though occasionally he behaved like the Almighty Lord.


A certain cowherd called Śrīdaman was a bosom friend of Rama and Kṛṣṇa and so were other cowherd boys Subala, Stoka. They spoke to Krishna and Balarama with friendly affection.  “Oh Rama ! Balarama of mighty arms! Oh Kṛṣṇa, the destroyer of the wicked! Not far from this place, there is a great dense forest thick with rows of palmyra trees. Abundant fruits lie fallen and have been falling there, but they are all monopolised by Dhenuka of wicked soul. He is a demon of mighty prowess, Oh Rama! Oh Krsna ! Assuming the form of a donkey, he lives surrounded by members of his tribe (donkeys), all of whom are equal in strength to him. Being afraid of that cannibal who feeds on human beings, the tract of forest is not visited by men and is also avoided by herds of beasts and flocks of birds.


Very delicious and sweet smelling fruits untasted by us lie there. And it is the sweet fragrance of those fruits that has filled the air all around, and we perceive that here also. Oh Kṛṣṇa! Be pleased to give those to us whose hearts are enamoured of their odour. A very strong yearning urges us, Oh Rāma. We make a move if you approve of it. Hearing the request of his friend and with a desire to accomplish their wishes, those two mighty gods laughed. heartily, and proceeded to the Palm forest accompanied by the cowherds. Balarama entered the forest and by violently shaking the palm trees with his arms like a young elephant, he made the fruit drop down by his physical power. Hearing the sound of the falling of fruits, the Asura in the form of a donkey, rushed to the place making the earth along with mountains tremble and quake.


Rushing at Balarama, the powerful demon kicked with his hind legs on the chest of Balarama, and braying loudly the wicked fellow ran away to some distance. (moved hither and thither around Balarama). Approaching Balarama again, the donkey stayed with its face away from Balarama, and in violent wrath, he flung hist hind legs (struck with his hind hoofs) Balarama, Catching hold of both his legs with one hand, Balarama violently whirled him and when the demon died due to that terrible whirling, he hurled him to the top of a tall palm tree. Being struck (with the carcass of that donkey), the big palm tree with heavy (palm-fruit laden) head crashed, and shook heavily the adjoining tree which fell down, dispatching its neighbouring tree to the same fate. Being struck down by the impact of the dead body of the donkey which was sportively hurled by Balarama, all the palm trees shook heavily, as if swept down by a violent hurricane.


This is not miraculous in the case of the glorious Lord Sesha (who incarnated as Balarama) the Ruler of the universe, in whom the universe is woven warp and woof, like a piece of cloth into the threads.The whole tribe of Dhenuka, the donkeys which flung in rage due to the killing of their brother, dashed at Rama and Krishna. As they attacked, both Rama and Krishna held them by their hind legs, and flung them easily to the tops of the tall palm trees, as if in sport. Littered over with heaps of palm fruits, the tops of the palm trees, and the dead bodies of the demons, the surface of the earth looked like the sky overcast with clouds (red, white and blue in colours).


Hearing of their marvellous feat, gods and others (such as demigods, celestial damsels etc.) let down showers of flowers on them, played on the divine musical instruments, and praised them highly.  Then the forest being thus rid of Dhenuka, people being free from fear, enjoyed (ate) to the full, fruits of those palm trees, and the cattle grazed in the pasture fearlessly. Krishna whose eyes were large like lotus-petals, and the hearing and singing of whose glory is hallowing and meri torious, entered Vraja along with his elder brother Balarama, in company of his cowherd followers who were glorifying and praising him. The cowherd women rushed out in crowds to wel come and see with eager eyes, Lord Kṛṣṇa, looking charming with sylvain flowers and peacock feathers adorning his curly locks of hair, overlaid with dust raised by (the hoofs of) cows, of beautiful eyes and bewitching smiles, and who was playing on his flute while followed by cowherds singing his glory.


Drinking with their black-bee-like eyes the honey (i.e. charm) in the lotus-like countenance of Mukunda (Krsna), the damsels of Vraja got subsided their fever of separation from him during the day time. Krsna, on his part, entered the cow pen after duly receiving their worship, welcome (consisting) of bashful smiles, ogling with side glances and modesty. Yasoda and Rohini who were very fond and affectionate to their sons, poured their benedictions suitable to the occasion to their heart’s content. They whose fatigue of journey (while tending the cows) was removed by bath, massage etc. in the forest, were dressed in beautiful clothes, and were adorned with excellent garlands, perfumes (sandal paste) etc. 


They partook of the sweet dish served to them by their mother, and after being caressed by them, they went to sleep in excellent beds, and enjoyed sweet, happy sleep at Vraja. In this way, Lord Kṛṣṇa used to move in the Vṛndāvana. 


Categories: Bhagwat Puran, Krishna Avataar, Lord Krishna

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