Hope for Deliverance – Krishna Meets Akrura
Sadhguru: Kamsa, the tyrant king who was Krishna’s uncle, knew that the boy had grown up in spite of all his efforts to destroy the child. People reminded him of the prophecy that Krishna may come and kill him, so he wanted to destroy the child somehow. He sent Akrura, another of Krishna’s uncles, to invite Krishna and Balarama to Mathura so that somehow, with some trick, they can be put to death.
Kamsa then organized a festival. This used to be a common feature in those days, to organize a bow sacrifice. A king would devise a very special bow which would be of that kind that ordinary men could not even string it. Stringing a bow is a difficult thing for anybody unless one has a certain amount of expertise in it. But these bows were created in such a way that nobody could string them unless he was a real expert. Whoever could string this bow and shoot an arrow furthest became the champion, and usually, it could be for winning a bride or a part of the kingdom or some other prize. Along with this bow sacrifice, various other sports were going on, especially wrestling, which was known as Bahuyuddha.
Any king and any man of the Kshatriya clan had to know wresting. Bahuyuddha was most essential because that was the last survival technique for any man when all his arms failed. He should know how to grapple with his enemy. Otherwise he could not survive. Today too, our soldiers, though they are trained in all kinds of arms, are taught some kind of body combat. So Bahuyuddha was a well-established art in this culture.
Kamsa himself was a great wrestler, and he had some real champion wrestlers with him. So he thought if everything else fails, he would put Krishna into the wrestling ring and kill him there. He could not kill him in the open because the Yadavas, Krishna’s community, might have risen in revolt because the boy had become so popular. Stories about him were going around everywhere. Everybody was talking about him. As the stories went from mouth to mouth, they got exaggerated and became bigger, and Kamsa felt very uncomfortable and threatened. So he devised this festival where he could engineer Krishna’s death somehow.
Akrura, who was taking Krishna and Balarama to Mathura, was hugely inspired by this boy. Akrura was a very wise and saintly person. He had been skeptical initially – “Is he really the person that the prophecies are talking about?” Being over 50 years of age, he was at first unwilling to accept this 16-year-old boy as an incarnation of God or the deliverer or whatever. He was struggling with himself, “How can this little boy deliver anybody?” But the very way Krishna was – the simplicity and gracefulness with which he existed, the way he approached everything around him, his gait and the balance of the body and mind – as Akrura was watching him during the journey, slowly he came to a point where he was just unable to take his attention and eyes off of Krishna.
Akrura asked Krishna, “Everybody is saying that you are the deliverer. Is it so?” Krishna said, “I do not know about those things. I know one thing, that my life will be dedicated to creating Dharma in the society. It has gone off the mark. I am going to reestablish that. Before my life is over, I will establish righteousness in the society. That much I know.”
“How do you know? Did somebody tell you?”
“No, nobody told me. It is something within myself. And if I tell you, maybe you will laugh because I know you are looking at me a little skeptically. What I am going to speak now doesn’t even make sense to myself – but it is true.”
Akrura said with tears in his eyes, “Please say it. I want to hear this. Right from my childhood, people have been telling me, a deliverer, a savior, will be born in my time. I want it to happen. My heart has been longing to see that it happens, but my mind has been struggling because I have lived with this tyrant Kamsa as his minister and I haven’t seen that such a possibility would ever arise.”
As Kamsa’s minister, Akrura had been commanded to do so many unjust, horrible things. He said, “Being the minister of this tyrant Kamsa, I have lost all hope. If I look at my life, I don’t believe it, but my heart has been longing to believe that it is true that somebody will come and redeem us, that somebody will come and change this situation. When I see you, just a little boy, it doesn’t make sense, but my heart is beating with much more hope than it ever did. So please tell me.”
Krishna narrated his experience on the mountain. He said, “Gargacharya reminded me that I am not Nanda’s son, and that I have a mission. So I just went and stood there on top of the mountain. And when I looked out, the sun that was out there was me, the sky was me – everything was me. And I saw, if I do what I have to do, at the end of my life, people will walk with their heads high like gods. People will not be walking in fear, they will not be walking in jealousy and greed. People will be walking with great pride and joy. I saw that if I do what I have to do, there will be a world where people can walk with godlike dignity. And ever since that moment, I don’t know what is me and what is not me.”
Akrura fell at his feet and wept. “You have come. This is what they said. Right from my childhood, they have been saying, ‘When he comes, he will speak in these terms.’ And your voice sounds like the eternal.” When Akrura rose again and looked at him, he saw the sun and the moon and the stars revolving around Krishna. He was completely convinced and knew he has to do something now. So he took the boys to Mathura.