The Laws of Karma and The End Days of Lord Krishna

In the Thiruppugazh Eluppunaadi, we have the lines that refer to an important event in the life of Krishna: உலக்கை ராவி நடுக்கடல் விட்டவன் மருகோனே(ulakkai raavi nadukkadal vittavan marugonE).

The Krishnaavatara shows the essence of Karma yoga as a path to attain salvation, and Krishna exemplifies this by living His life as a Karma Yogi. He accepts the consequences of Karma with equanimity and dies at the hands of a hunter. Yes, the laws of Karma are universal and applies to gods as well. According to Mahabharata, the Kurukshetra war resulted in the death of all the hundred sons of Gandhari. On the night before Duryodhana's death, Lord Krishna visits Gandhari to offer his condolences. Gandhari feels that Krishna knowingly did not put an end to the war, and in a fit of rage and sorrow, she curses that Krishna, along with everyone else from the Yadu dynasty, would perish after 36 years. Krishna himself knew and wanted this to happen as he felt that the Yadavas had become very haughty and arrogant and, with a smile, He says, "tathastu" (so be it).

After around 35 years the sons of Krishna spend their days in unrestrained self indulgence and luxury. Once, Rishis Vishwamitra, Durvasa, Vashista, Narada and others sages came to Dwaraka. The arrogant and irreverent Yadavas dress up Samba (son of Krishna and Jambavati, born as a result of prayers to Shiva for a son like Him) like a woman and ask the rishis to predict the gender of the baby. Enraged, the sages curse that Samba would give birth to an iron pestle (உலக்கை ) that would destroy their entire race.

Samba finds himself transformed into a pregnant woman. He goes into labour and delivers an iron pestle on the very next day. Krishna could foresee the shape of things to come, and yet orders the pestle to be pound into fine pieces and be thrown into the sea. The Yadavas grind the mace finely, but a sharp and hard triangular piece doesn't get ground. Soon, the high tides bring all the iron filings back and deposit them on the sea shore at Prabhasa. They grow like grass, but tall and strong like huge pestles. The lone triangular piece of the mace is swallowed by a fish, which is then caught by a hunter named Jara, who crafts a fine arrow from it.

Evil portents start appearing soon and Krishna suggests a pilgrimage to Prabhaasa theertham (the junction where Gomati joins the sea), in Gujarat. All the Yadavas, young and old alike, go to the sea shore at Prabhasa to take a holy dip. At Prabhasa, the Yadavas drink wine and get intoxicated. A fight ensues and the Yadavas kill one another, hitting each other with the pestle-like grass. All the sons and grandsons of Krishna die in the massacre. Krishna sends his charioteer Dharuka to inform all those left in Dwaraka that they should move to other places of safety, since the city would soon be submerged by ocean as Dwapara yuga was about to end.

Only the women, Krishna and Balarama are left alive in Dwaraka. After a while Balarama isolates himself in a dense forest. Krishna sends the women and children along with a messenger to Hastinapur to be left with the Pandavas. He then goes to his father, seeks his blessings and leaves for the forest, where his elder brother Balarama is sitting in the posture of a Yogi. Eventually a thousand-headed snake, Anant Naga, comes out from his mouth and glides its way to the ocean. Soon, the ocean and other holy rivers come together to welcome Ananta Naga into their realm.

Krishna, realizing that the time for his departure has already arrived, absorbs himself in meditation. The hunter Jara notices the partly visible left foot of Krishna from a distance and thinks it to be that of a deer. He lets loose the deadly arrow he had created out of the piece of iron and it pierces Krishna's foot. Jara is appalled to find that he has hurt the Lord and begs him to forgive his mistake. Krishna comforts the hunter, saying that since all acts in this world are done as desired by Him, he need not worry for this. He also reveals that in his previous life in Treta Yuga, Jara was Vali who was killed by Lord Rama, and the cycle of Karma comes to a close with this. Krishna then ascends to the heaven.

Arjuna cremates Krishna, and His wives – including Rukmini, are burnt on the pyre. The rest of the women of Dwaraka become ascetics and nuns. After each and every living being of Dwaraka move away to other places, the ocean engulfs the city, thus leaving no trace of the land of Lord Krishna.