Like all other Indian kids from traditional Hindu families, I’ve grown up on the stories of Krishna’s childhood, his pranks with his neighbors, his naughty antics, his schemes of stealing the delicious burter of Nandagrama and his exploits. As much as I liked this Krishna back then, I had no interest in the adult version of him.
I mean, for all the Kingly stuff we already had Lord Rama. So back then, I believed the adult Krishna had nothing new to offer. I was just a kid. It took me years to realise that Krishna was always Krishna, and that he was nothing like Rama. While the aim of both Rama and Krishna was to upheld the institution of Dharma, their ways were radically different, much like the ways of Maharana and Shivaji. Krishna was always the same, whether in muddy fields of Nandagrama or blood stained battleground of Kurukshetra, his wit and naughtiness remained the same throughout.
Today I’ve become more of an admirer of the adult Krishna, the master strategist, the fierce warrior, so fierce that Kauravas forced him to promise his non-involvement in the Aryan Civil War at Kurukshetra. But that’s not my subject for today, let’s go back to his childhood and also to my childhood perceptions of him.
Back in the days, I could never make sense of why Krishna never returned back to Vrindavana after killing kamsa. Why he never returned back to the lap of Yashoda which was dearer than heaven to him, to the shoulders of Nanda; riding upon which he first witnessed the magnitude of Govardhana, the company of Uddhava and other gopalas who looked at him as their own brother, to those cows of Vrindavana whose milk were sweeter than nectar, to those calfs who looked at him as their protector, and why he never returned back to that lady whom Mahabharata doesn’t mention and Bhagvatam maintains a mysterious silence about, why?
These questions used to haunt me. So much so that at one point I reached to the conclusion that Krishna was selfish. I started believing that once he realised his royal origins, Krishna wanted to do nothing with the petty herdsmen of Vrindavana. How foolish I was.
Those who leave valuable teachings for the generations to come, are regarded as great men. But those, whose lives themselve become a teaching are regarded as Gods. Krishna was a God. Each decision, each juncture and each moment of Krishna’s life is a teaching.
Everyone of us at one point feel an urge to go back to the childhood days, to the pleasant and nostalgic memories. But the hard fact of life is that past never returns. What is gone, is gone.
Even if Krishna had returned, the people of Vrindavana couldn’t have treated him the same way as before. As now he was no herdsman, but a scion of the Imperial Yaduvanshis. He was no more the Gopala they knew, he was their ruler Krishna Vasudeva. This new self of his was unknown to Vrindavana and he wanted to keep it that way. He wanted the people of Vrindavana to always know him as their Gopala, as their naughty herdsman only and not as their King.
But then, maybe he could’ve gone back. Maybe the people there would’ve eventually accepted this new self of his. But then, perhaps Krishna himself was not just strong enough to leave all of them for a second time, to break all those hearts once again.
Whatever may have been the reason, the fact remains the same that past never returns. It is this cruel nature of life which the Prince of Shakyas couldn’t grasp and forced him to leave everything behind. But Krishna was different. His outlook on life was different. He believed that instead of staying attached with the memories of the past, it is the dharma of the mankind to struggle for the future.
Even if you are to sacrifice your own life for the sake of others, you must do it unhesitantly. For this is what separates man from the animal. Albeit full of struggles and hardship, the first ten years of life was the only period Krishna lived for himself. The rest was for the mankind. Such was our beloved Krishna.