Thursday, August 18, 2016

Overview. Bhagawat: The Krishna Avatar

Title: Bhagawat: The Krishna Avatar.
Author: an Amar Chitra Katha publication

Comments: This lovely book contains NINE comic books all bound together. You will find detailed reading guides for each of these individual comic books below.

Bizzell: This book is available for checkout as a regular book from the Bizzell stacks: PN 6790 .I443 A43667 2010; click on the call number to check its availability in the Bizzell Stacks.

Length: 1, 2, 3 or 4 weeks. The book contains 9 comic book issues bound together, and that means you can read it for one or two or three or four or even four and a half weeks. The reading portions, each a single comic book issue, are labeled A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I below.

One week of reading:
Part A
1. The Darling of Gokul. (starts on p. 1).
Part B
2. Krishna: The Subduer of Kaliya. (starts on p. 29).

Another week of reading:
Part C
3. Krishna: The Upholder of Govardhana. (starts on p. 57).
Part D
4. Krishna: Victory Over Kamsa. (starts on p. 85).

Third week of reading:
Part E
5. Krishna: The Lord of Dwaraka. (starts on p. 112).
Part F
6. Krishna the Enchanter. (starts on p. 140).

Fourth full week of reading:
Part G
7. Krishna the Victorious. (starts on p. 171).
Part H
8. Krishna, An Ally of the Pandavas. (starts on p. 200).

Plus one half-week of reading more:
Part I
9. Krishna the Savior. (starts on p. 228).

1. The Darling of Gokul. (starts on p. 1). Parikshit, who is the grandson of Arjuna, wants to hear the story of Krisha. It begins with the marriage of Vasudeva, prince of Dwaraka, and his marriage to Devaki. A prophecy declares that "the eighth-born" of Devaki will slay Kamsa, her cousin. Kamsa agrees to spare Devaki's life but he plans to kill her children. Kamsa takes over the kingdom and puts Devaki and Vasudeva in prison and he kills their children one by one. By miracles, the seventh child (Balarama) and the eighth child (Krishna) are smuggled away to live in Gokul; Krishna is an incarnation of the god Vishnu. Yashoda becomes Krishna's foster mother. Kamsa sends the rakshasi Pootana to kill newborn babies, but the infant Krishna defeats her, and he performs other miraculous feats as a mere baby, such as defeating the rakshasa Trinavarta in the form of a whirlwind. Balarama and Krishna also play many childhood pranks, such as stealing butter. Krishna reveals his divine form to Yashoda, but he also makes her later forget what she saw. Because of all the supernatural events, the people of Gokul decide it is time to move on and they relocate to Vrindavana.

2. Krishna: The Subduer of Kaliya. (starts on p. 29).  The people of Gokul settle in Vrindavana, and Balarama and Krishna take the cattle to graze in the forest. They defeat a demon in the form of a black calf and also a demon in the shape of a giant crane. The demon Aghasura tricks the boys by taking the form of a giant serpent, but Krishna defeats him. Next they confront the demon Dhenuka in the form of a donkey, and they defeat him too. Krishna also decides to challenge the water snake Kaliya who has one hundred and one heads. Krishna spares Kaliya on the condition that he no longer poison the water in the watering hole. Last but not least, the asura Pralamba disguises himself as a cowherd and tricks the boys during a game. As Pralamba flies away with Balarama, Balarama fights back and kills the asura. Krishna also saves the boys and cattle from a forest fire by sucking all the flames into his mouth!

3. Krishna: The Upholder of Govardhana. (starts on p. 57). The gopikas (cowgirls) are enchanted by Krishna's flute. One day, he stole their clothes while they were bathing and made them chase him. When the brahmin priests refuse to give the boys food from the sacrifice, Krishna gets the wives to give them all the food they had cooked for the sacrifice. Krishna then questions the purpose of sacrificing to Indra, the god of rain and storms; he proposes that they make a sacrifice to the mountain that they live next to instead: Mount Govardhana. Indra is angry and attacks the people. To save them, Krishna lifts up Mount Govardhana so they can shelter from the rain beneath it. When a demon in the river tries to drown Nanda, Krishna's foster father, Krishna compels Varuna, the water god, to restore Nanda to life. At night, the gopikas are drawn to dance with Krishna in the moonlight, and gopikas become fully absorbed in his being. In the Ras-Lila, each of the gopikas have their own Krishna dancing with them.

4. Krishna: Victory Over Kamsa. (starts on p. 85). A python attacks Nanda, Krishna's foster father, but at Krishna's touch the python turns into a celestial being who had been turned into a python by a curse. The demon Shankhachuda kidnaps the gopikas, but Balarama and Krishna rescue them. Krishna also defeats the bull-demon Arishtasura. Meanwhile, in Mathura Narada reveals to Kamsa that Krishna is still alive, so Kamsa plots to kill him. Back in Vrindavana, a horse-demon named Keshi attacks the people, and Krishna defeats him. Then Vyomasura, a demon disgusied as a cowherd, kidnaps the boys herding the sheep, and Krishna must rescue them. Kamsa sends Akrura to find Krishna, and when he sees Krishna and Balarama, he bows down before them and reveals Kamsa's plot to kill them in a wrestling match. Then he takes them to Mathura, and on the journey he seems Krishna's divine manifestation. When the cowherds arrive in Mathura, Krishna dresses them in city clothes, and he also heals the hunchbacked woman Trivakra. Krishna then snaps the enormous sacrificial bow, and Kamsa realizes this must be Krishna. Krishna topples Kuvalayapeeda, the elephant Kamsa sends to kill him, and he and Balarama then defeat the wrestlers Chanura and Mushtika, and in the end Krishna kills Kamsa in the wrestling arena.

5. Krishna: The Lord of Dwaraka. (starts on p. 112). Krishna is reunited with his father Vasudeva and his mother Devaki, and he restored Ugrasena to the throne which Kamsa had stolen. Krishna and Balarama then begin their formal education with the guru Sandipani. As a guru dakshina, he requests that Krishna restore his son who had drowned in the ocean; the asura Panchajana had taken the boy (the shell in which Panchajana lived is the Panchajanya), and Krishna brings him back from Yama's realm. Krishna sends Uddhava to Vrindavana with uplifting messages. He also sends Akrura as an emissary to the Pandavas who are newly arrived in Hastinapura (Akrura is Kunti's cousin). Meanwhile, Kamsa's widows have gone back to Jarasandha, their father, who is furious about Kamsa's death. He vows to kill all the Yadavas, attacking Mathura with his army. Using celestial weapons, Krishna and Balarama confront Jarasandha's warriors, including even the asura Kalayavana. Krishna relocates his people to a newly built fortress-city called Dwaraka, Krishna then lures Kalayavana into a cave where the ancient king, Muchukunda, blasts him with his fiery gaze. 

6. Krishna the Enchanter. (starts on p. 140). When Jarasandha attacks Mathura for the eighteenth time, Balarama and Krishna pretend to run away in fear to Mount Parvarshana; they escape to Dwaraka, but Jarasandha thinks they are dead. Balarama marries Revati and Krishna wants to marry Rukmini of Vidarbha, but her brother Rukmi objects, wanting her to marry King Shishupala. Rukmini lets Krishna know that she wants to elope with him. Shishupala's friends are on the alert, ready to stop Krishna, but he manages to carry her away; Rukmi vows revenge. Krishna and Rukmini have a son: Pradyumna. The demon Shambarasura throws him in the ocean where he is eaten by a fish, but is rescued when fishermen catch the fish. Pradyumna is actually an incarnation of Kamadeva, the love god, and the god's wife Rati becomes Mayavati, a servant in Shambarasura's household who raises Pradyumna and teaches him maya (powers of illusion) to use to defeat Shambarasura. Pradyumna slays the asura and Mayavati takes him to Dwaraka to reunite him with his parents. Next comes the story of the Syamantaka jewel. Surya, the sun god, gave the jewel to Satrajit; it bestows light and wealth. Krishna urges Satrajit to give it to King Ugrasena, but he refuses. Satrajit loans it to his brother who is killed by a lion in the forest; Jambavan (remember Jambavan from the Ramayana?) finds the dead man and takes the jewel. Krishna accuses Satrajit of the murder and the theft. To clear his name, Krishna goes into the forest, finds Jambavan, and they fight until Jambavan realizes who Krishna is. Jambavan offers to return the jewel and to give Krishna his daughter Jambavati as a bride. Krishna returns the jewel to Satrajit, and Satrajit gives him his daughter Satyabhama as a bride. Satyabhama's other suitors are furious: the kill Satrajit and steal the jewel. Krishna pursues them and learns that Akrura has the jewel; he asks Akrura to show the jewel to clear his name once and for all, and then he lets Akrura keep the jewel.

7. Krishna the Victorious. (starts on p. 171). Krishna gains another wife: Kalindi, the daughter of Surya, the sun god (also known as Yamuna). When Krishna and Arjuna ehlp Agni, the fire god, burn the Khandava forest, they spare the life of Maya the asura who builds a beautiful palace for the Pandavas at Indraprastha. Krishna then elopes with another wife, Mitravinda, whose brothers are Duryodhana's allies. Krishna overcomes seven wild bulls to win another wife: Satya, princess of Adyohya. Krishna eventually acquires eight principal wives, along with thousands of wives that he rescues from the demon Narakasura who had stolen the earrings of Aditi, mother of the gods, who is aided by the demon Mura and his seven sons. When Krishna and his wife Satyabhama go to Indra's heaven to return the earrings to Aditi, they bring back the celestial tree, Kalpavriksha. Krishna has a special love for his first wife, Rukmini, although he teases her too. All those wives give Krishna many children and his son with Rukmini, Pradyumna, marries Rukmavati, daughter of Rukmini's brother Rukmi, who was Krishna's enemy. Rukmavati chooses Pradyumna at her swayamvara, and he successfully fights off her other suitors. They have a son: Aniruddha. Usha, the daughter of the thousand-armed demon, Banasura, falls in love with Aniruddha in a dream vision. By means of magical arts, Aniruddha is transported to Usha and they wed in secret, but Banasura is furious when he finds out. Krishna and Pradyumna attack Banasura in order to rescue Aniruddha, and Usha comes with him to Dwaraka. As the son of Vasudeva, Krishna is known as Vasudevaa, but the king of Paundraka, also named Vasudevaa, claims to be the real Krishna. Krishna tracks him down and kills him, and he also kills his ally, the king of Kashi. Sudakshina, the prince of Kashi, vows revenge. He summons a fire fiend that attacks Dwaraka but Krishna's chakra weapon pursues the fire fiend all the way back to Kashi and it destroys that city instead.

8. Krishna, An Ally of the Pandavas. (starts on p. 200). Krishna's brother Balarama battles the demon Dvivida who is attacking the people of Dwaraka to avenge Narakasura's death. The people rejoice when Balarama finally kills Dvivida. At the swayamvara of Duryodhana's daughter Lakshmanā, Sambha, the son of Krishna and Jambavati, carries her away, but the Kauravas capture him. The Kauravas spurn Balarama at first but give back Sambha when he threatens them with his plough. Narada comes to visit Krishna and sees that Krishna is able to multiple himself so as to enjoy the company of many wives at once. Krishna learns about the plight of the kings held prisoner by Jarasandha. The Pandavas are planning to make Yudhishthira emperor in a rajasuya sacrifice, so Bhima, the strongest of the Pandavas, will kill Jarasandha, with Krishna's help. They go disguised as brahmins to Jarasandha's court, but Krishna reveals their identity and challenges Jarasandha to a duel with Bhima. Krishna informs Bhima that Jarasandha was born split in half and magically put together as an infant, so Bhima then tears Jarasandha in half. They free the captured kings, and Krishna reveals his divine form. At the rajasuya, Sahadeva proposes that they recognize Krishna as the guest of honor, but Shishupala objects, and Krishna slays him. Duryodhana is fooled by the illusions of the Pandavas' palace and they mock him; jealous and humiliated, he vows revenge. 

9. Krishna the Savior. (starts on p. 228). Shalwa, Shishupala's friend, vows to destroy Krishna and the Yadavas. He attacks Dwaraka in his supernatural chariot when Krishna is away and the battle rages for weeks. Krishna returns, and Shalwa then kidnaps Krishna's father, Vasudeva, and seems to behead him. It was just an illusion, though, and in the end Krishna slays Shalwa. After that battle, Krishna receives a visit from his childhood friend, Sudama, a poor but good-hearted brahmin, who brings him flattened rice as a simple gift, and Krishna rewards Sudama's virtuous humility with great wealth. Krishna and then Balarama go to Kuruksetra to observe an eclipse of the sun , and the wives of Krishna accompany him and share their stories with Draupadi. Krishna then preaches to the rishis who have assembledthere and his father Vasudeva conducts a great sacrifice to Vishnu. When Krishna's mother Devaki becomes aware of his divinity, she asks him to restore her children who had been killed by Kamsa, and he does so. Arjuna, Krishna's best friend among the Pandavas, marries Krishna's sister Subhadra, even though Balarama had planned for her to marry Duryodhana. Subhadra fell in love with Arjuna and so they eloped, and Balarama is ready to chase after them but Krishna persuaded him to agree to the match. Krishna then goes to visit Mithila where he multiplies himself into two forms: one visits with the king Bahulashva while the other visits with the poor brahmin Shrutadeva.

That is the end of the ten chapters of the Krishna story as told in the Bhagavat Purana. You can read a literal translation of this purana, with links to the Sanskrit verse by verse here: Bhagavata Purana Canto 10.

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