A trip to Krishna’s birthplace: Mathura
After having heard a lot about the birthplace of the effervescent king of romance and divinity, Lord Krishna, I finally made up my mind to visit Mathura. From the very beginning of the trip, I knew that it would be an unforgettable experience for I was able to feel the virtual presence of Krishna everywhere and in everyone.
On reaching the outskirts of the historic place, I could see herds of cattle flocking the streets, indifferent to the fact that Mathura is now a modern town. But they reminded me of Krishna’s fondness for cows and his close association with the domestic animal. Krishna’s image is unimaginable without the mute being! Though the sight of cattle is not a new thing on Indian roads, their presence in large numbers in Mathura instantly took me to the world of Kanha, way back to the <i>treta yuga</i>.
Almost about every shop, local schools have been named after the Lord. What is surprising is the fact that even as Mathura is gradually turning towards modernity, the lifestyle of people based in Krishna’s town bears great resemblance to the olden times. The <i>chandan ka tika</i> adorning the foreheads of the modern <i>gopis</i> (followers of <i>Natkhat Nandlala</i> as Krishna is fondly called) and <i>tulsi mala</i> encircled their necks beautifully.
An unusual sight in today’s times what struck me the most was that of young students of a Vedic educational institutions with tonsured heads. The kids looked adorable in dhotis that were draped primly around their tender waists and their khadi jhola hanging across their shoulders. They walked bare feet and literally looked like <i>gwalbals</i> (friends of Bal Krishna).
As my vehicle moved ahead until a juncture where I needed to alight to make my way to the main temple, I could see police and security personnel managing the crowd that had gathered. And that was when I woke up from my dream world and realised I was no longer in Krishna’s Mathura, but a modern town under political jurisdiction.
Nonetheless, Krishna’s magic did not decline and I walked towards the counter where people were to deposit their electronic gadgets and mobile phones. After doing the needful, I challenged the crowd and succeeded in going through the security check without much trouble. As I was on the threshold of the pious place, a notorious vanar mandali (monkey gang) was at its naughtiest best, jumping and hopping everywhere much to the annoyance of the people present there. But again their presence made Mathura look very much like King Kansa’s kingdom.
And then I followed a queue patiently waiting to witness the original location where Krishna was born- a <i>kaal kothri</i> (a prison). This is where Devaki and Vasudev (biological parents of Krishna) were imprisoned by Kansa (the Lord’s maternal uncle). Long before the Muslim invasion, the temple was known as Keshav mandir. But during the rule of Sikander Lodhi who was crowned `But Shikan` (meaning destroyer of Hindu deities), original monuments of Krishna’s era were razed. Keshav temple (Krishna Janma Bhoomi) was partially destroyed during Aurangzeb’s time. And eventually when the Maratha’s took over the kingdom, they constructed a small underground temple that resembles a prison cell in the same spot. The temple shares one of its walls with a mosque constructed by Aurangzeb. Despite foreign invasion and forceful razing, the sanctity of Krishna <i>janmasthan</i> still remains intact. One can find the idol of Laddu-Gopal in the temple which is now known as the <i>garbh-griha mandir</i>.
I could see Krishna’s followers from across the world singing and chanting names of the mighty soul with much fervour and devotion. Krishna is omnipresent and considering the fact that I live in an era which is long past Krishna’s times, I still feel it takes less than a fraction of a second to land in the <i>treta yuga</i>. But only if you can let your soul unite with the Lord’s! And Mathura exactly helps you do that!