वसुदेवसुतं देवं कंसचाणूरमर्दनम् , देवकीपरमानन्दं कृष्णं वंदे जगद्गुरुम्
The above verse translates to the following: O son of Vasudeva, the one who slew Kamsa and Chanura, the joy of Devaki’s life, the master of masters, I bow down to thee. Let us walk through Krishna’s life and all the major events, known or unknown, in this article.
What happened on Krishna Janmashtami?
Penned down by the iconic Adi Shankaracharya, the above verses sum up the beginning of Krishna’s life. Born to Devaki and Vasudeva, Krishna was transferred to Gokula overnight, owing to the tyranny of Devaki’s brother Kamsa.
According to a prophecy, Kamsa was destined to be slain by Devaki’s eighth son, who happened to be Krishna. Hence, Kamsa kept killing every child born to the couple. However, Vasudeva managed to save the eighth son, by escorting the newborn baby Krishna to Gokula.
The early years
Gokula was a small village on the banks of river Yamuna, primarily occupied by a pastoral community, led by Krishna’s adoptive father Nanda. Hence, Krishna was brought up amongst cows, shepherds etc. Nonetheless, his charming flute and demeanour stole hearts. However, in the due course, his martial abilities gained traction of Kamsa, who sensed something unusual. Spies informed him that Krishna might be the prophesied eighth son of Devaki. Hence, on the pretext of a celebration, Kamsa invited Krishna and his brother Balarama to Mathura, with the motive of killing them.
As soon as Krishna entered Mathura, he started performing superhuman feats. In one such incident, he straightened a hunchbacked woman named as Trivakra. Eventually, on a fated day, Krishna slew Kamsa and a wrestler named Chanura.
Once Kamsa was killed, Vasudeva and Devaki, the birth parents of Krishna, decided to initiate Krishna and Balarama into student life. Accordingly, Gargacharya performed the Upanayana ceremony, in which he met his eternal friend, the fabled warrior, Arjuna. Read this exciting episode here: When Krishna met Arjuna for the first time.
After his initiation, Krishna went to his guru Sandipani’s ashram and learnt advanced warfare. By the time he finished his education, Krishna became a matchless warrior, to the pleasure of Yadavas, the community of Krishna. It seemed to be the end of troubles for Krishna and Yadavas. However, the real troubles were about to come!
Krishna’s maternal uncle Kamsa had married two daughters of emperor Jarasandha. Thus, the furious emperor decided to attack Mathura, in order to capture Krishna and Balarama. However, the two brothers abandoned the city and took refuge in the Gomantaka mountain of the Sahyadri ranges. The emperor chased them to the foothills of Gomantaka, where a legendary war ensued. Read the exciting story here: How Krishna defeated Jarasandha by commanding the Sea
The danger of Kalayavana
Infuriated by the above defeat, Jarasandha decided to launch a full-scale offensive on Mathura from two sides. In the process, he teamed up with the barbaric ruler named Kalayavana. However, timely assistance and information from Vidura, the prime minister of Hastinapura, helped Krishna plan for this eventuality. Read about the great assistance of Vidura here: Vidura: the unsung hero of Mahabharata.
In order to avert the total annihilation of Mathura by Jarasandha and Kalayavana, Krishna proposed to abandon the city of Mathura. Although initially, the Yadavas resisted the idea, eventually they agree. Accordingly, they decided to create a new city named Dwarka on the western coast. The entire population of Yadavas abandoned Mathura and moved towards Dwaraka.
However, on the way to Dwarka, Krishna faced a dilemma. But, the choice he made in that context defined his greatness. I implore you to read this article about the same here: Greatness of Krishna.
While Krishna was busy with his affronts against Jarasandha, his personal life took a beautiful turn. Rukmini, the princess of Vidarbha, fell in love with him. However, their life took an unusual turn, with false news of Krishna’s death floating around. Rukmini slumped into grief, remembering the day she saw Krishna for the first time. Read the exciting story of their first meeting here: Rukmini Krishna: when they first met.
Eventually, Krishna married Rukmini. The Yadavas settled in Dwaraka, with a new era of strength, prosperity and stability in their lives, thanks to Krishna!
He enters Mahabharata
Once, the threat of Jarasandha subsided, the Yadavas under the leadership of Krishna went from strength to strength. It was time for Krishna to turn towards the larger political sphere of Aryavarta. The opportunity presented itself since the future battleground of Mahabharata was being groomed. Read the story of how Krishna entered the political scene of the grand old epic: Krishna in Mahabharata: the beginning.
However, the unfortunate wax palace incident announced the apparent death of Pandavas. Krishna travelled to Hastinapura in order to pay condolences. There he found out that the Pandavas were alive and began a search mission for them. Alongside, another incident happened which reinforced his greatness in the eyes of everyone. Read this beautiful episode here: Krishna’s sister and wife of Duryodhana: Bhanumati.
Further, Krishna began preparations for Draupadi’s swayamvara, which he orchestrated in order to get her married to Arjuna. But, it wasn’t as smooth as he expected. At this juncture, Krishna’s cousin and one of his best friends Uddhava stepped up. Read the beautiful tale of Uddhava’s friendship here: Draupadi Swayamvar: Krishna’s best friend Uddhava.
Furthermore, we know the spectacular manner in which Arjuna won the swayamvara. This incident established Krishna as a political mastermind of Aryavarta. I intend to cover further incidents in greater detail so that this compendium keeps growing in size.
Hope you enjoy this brief walkthrough of Krishna’s life. Although any number of words isn’t enough for him, this compendium will get you started on the exciting journey of his life.