You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : May 1998

5,6&7/Sec.3/Part I Myths

From: VVijay236 (
Date: Fri May 22 1998 - 05:27:50 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas,

In this, the last post in this series, We allude below to three more topics:
5.Krishna's action in Gopi Vastrapaharanam
6. Dharmaputra's Gambling episode
7. The Killing of Karna
Hope you will find them interesting. Please favor me with your valuable
inputs. Thanks.

Anbil Ramaswamy
Did not Krishna set a bad example when he concealed the dresses of the Gopis?

Let us take an instance in the story of Krishna which draws lot of flak. This
refers to the episode in which Krishna concealed the dresses of the Gopis who
had gone to the river for a bath. Sitting on top of a tree, he asked them to
come out of the river in the nude. The critics read too much into this and try
to impute motives imagining him to be a vile youth. This is not correct. It
should be remembered that that this episode happened when he was just becoming
an adolescent and constituted a childhood prank as indeed many other pranks
played by him at that age.

Stretching their imagination further, some ask that if Krishna  himself could
indulge in such erotic orgies, what is wrong if we do the same thing. We have
to understand that Krishna's union with the Gopis was not on the base, banal,
physical level but on a sublime, spiritual and platonic plane with none of the
carnal inhibitions which we in our limited, myopic perception would like to
associate with.

Even granting, just for the sake of argument, that the union was of the kind
we have ' in our mind ', we can also imitate him provided we are capable of
imitating all other acts of his like sucking life out of the breasts of
Bhutana, the demoness or lifting on the little finger the huge mountain of
Govardhan, or dancing on the hoods of the hydraheaded serpent, Kaalinga or
proclaiming such lofty themes like Bhagavad Gita or at least following them.
So long as we cannot even imagine doing such miracles, we have no right to
question the deeds of Krishna from a mundane level.

Was Dharmaputra, wedded to Dharma justified in indulging in gambling,
especially when gambling  is condemned in the Sastras?
( i ) On the completion of the Rajasuya yaga performed by him in which
Sisupala was slain, Dharmaputra inquired Vyasa  whether that signified the end
of  the bad period predicted by some wise men.  Vyasa replied that there were
more to come in the next 13 years after which a terrific war would ensue in
which the entire Kuru race would be annihilated. Dharmaputra was filled with
grief and took a solemn resolve that he would never speak harshly to anyone,
never give room for any conflict, never give way to anger and lust, the twin
causes of  hostility. Being in such a frame of mind, he could not decline a
friendly invitation to the dice game.

( ii ) It was the etiquette of royal families in those days to honor a game
carrying equal risks especially when it was projected as a friendly one.

( iii ) Dharmaputra had a weakness for gambling. Normally, wine and gambling
hold an irresistible fascination for men impelled by lust. But, lust and
gambling are so intertwined that when one is present, the other is sure to
follow. This is an example of how human resolves are brought to naught by fate
and how judgment gets misdirected in spite of the  best of intentions when one
is destined to face calamities.

7. Why in spite of his great qualities and in spite of his being a Pandava,
Karna was killed?

Just as Kumbakarna who sought to be true to his salt, stuck to Ravana, Karna
did the same thing by sticking to Duryodhana even after coming to know that he
himself was the eldest of the Pandava brothers. Invincible as he was, he was
struggling under the weight of  curses and several choking pressures which
were responsible for his downfall.

( i ) One day, as he was practicing archery, he hit and killed a cow of a
Brahmin. Killing of a cow itself is  regarded as a heinous sin. The Brahmin
cursed him saying that in battle, his chariot would get stuck in the mud when
he will meet with his death, even like the innocent cow he had killed.

( ii ) He posed as a Brahmin to Parasurama whom he approached for learning
weaponry. When Parasurama found out the truth, he cursed Karna that because of
the deception played on the Guru he would forget the use of Astras at a
critical juncture when he needed  it most.

( iii ) Karna's strength lay in his divine armor and divine ear rings (
Kavacha  and Kundala). His weakness lay in his munificence. He would
unhesitatingly, gift away whatever he had, to whomsoever who approached him.
Indra, who was the father of Arjuna appeared before him and asked him to gift
away the Kavacha  and Kundala. Without any hesitation, Karna gave them away
and with them vanished Karna's strength.

( iv ) When Kunti, his mother pleaded with him to join the Pandava brothers,
he declined but he made a promise to her that he would not attempt to kill
more than one of the five brothers nor use the mighty Naagaastra (Serpent
weapon) more than once. 

( v ) When he used against Arjuna, the deadly weapon, (Sakti granted to him
by Indra) Arjuna  was saved by Krishna's strategy and Karna could not use it
again because that was the condition attached to the grant..

 (vi ) And, when his chariot got stuck, Arjuna's arrows pierced him and he was

(vii ) Krishna obtained as gift all his ' punyas' which left Karna

(viii) Salya, the charioteer of Karna jumped out of the chariot and deserted
Karna at a crucial moment.

Anbil Ramaswamy