Located on the west coast of India in the state of Gujarat, the city of Dwaraka is considered one of the seven holy cities of India. Archaeological discoveries of ruins and artifacts off the city's coast have now conclusively proven what many have long believed: modern Dwaraka is built on the same site as the famed city of the same name from the Puranas and the Mahabharata, the "Golden City" of Lord Krishna.
Transporting us back five thousand years to the time of Krishnavatara, the age in which Krishna lived, Vanamali leads us on a journey alongside Lord Krishna as he reigns over the ancient port city of Dwaraka and helps the Pandavas through the Mahabharata War. Recounting ecstatic celebrations, Krishna's love for his wives and sons, and events surrounding the epic war, the author stresses Krishna's ability to contain all opposites and stand above duality like a lotus leaf floating on a running stream. Offering potent spiritual lessons throughout her story, she shows how the truly spiritual individual is able to unreservedly accept all dimensions of life and rise above all dualities of existence-war and peace, love and hate, sex and abstinence, action and meditation. She also provides a historical timeline for the Mahabharata War and the sinking of Krishna's city beneath the sea-3126 BCE and 3090 BCE, respectively-and shows how the Mahabharata War occurred under circum- stances quite similar to those of the present day, both politically and astrologically.
Through her vivid tale and her personal connection with Krishna across many lifetimes, Vanamali shows how the magic and mystery of Krishna's ancient holy city live on through his spiritual teachings.
MATAJI DEVI VANAMALI has written several books on the gods of the Hindu pantheon, including Shakti, Hanuman, Shiva, The Complete Life of Krishna, and The Complete Life of Rama, as well as translating the Bhagavad Gita. She is the founder and president of Vanamali Gita Yoga Ashram Trust, dedicated to sharing the wisdom of Sanatana Dharma and charitable service to children. She lives at the Vanamali ashram in Rishikesh, northern India.
Philosophers, skeptics, and devotees have long been divided on the idea of the harikatha (stories of Hari or Krishna) as a genuine source of spiritual commentary and discourse. While some label it as myth, legend, or simple story, others hail it as classic literature. The charitable among skeptics label the pastimes of Krishna as parables. For the faithful, harikatha is absolute perfect fact and a history that transcends time.
All are, in fact, right within their own field of vision. The Krishna stories have been narrated, retold, sung, painted, enacted, and presented by all-the agnostics, the atheists, the literary and creative minded, and the devotees alike. The thin line between creative freedom, scriptural sincerity, social correctness, and aesthetics of literature remains hazy from a neutral viewpoint, but it is always well defined when looked at from the viewpoint of each stand individually. From the absolute level, that is, through the eyes of God, it is an equidistant approach. However, any rendition that stirs an understanding or love of God is valid and right.
This book has a mix of them all. It is a dramatized narration of Krishna's kingly pastimes at Dwaraka, which the author visualizes in a dream world. Despite being a flight of creative liberty, it hovers around the scriptural story line, like a butterfly fluttering over flowers of different hues. It thus leaves the reader to his or her own take on the profound subject.
Everything about Krishna has been narrated and recorded by Vyas Dev (Sage Vyasa) and expounded on by great sages, and all spiritual masters and holy men are agreed on it. About five centuries ago, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu explained that the intricacy of the Krishna katha (stories of Krishna) can be understood not by literary excellence or erudition bur by humility and devotion. The pastimes of Krishna are not part of a material novel, penned by someone expert in wordplay or poetry. However, that doesn't bar a retelling since freedom and choice are the first prerequisites of spiritual life.
Krishna's pastimes in Dwaraka form the latter part of his lila, when he was known as Dwarakanatha. Dwaraka is a historical city, an important pilgrim center, and an archaeologist's playground for research and exploration, and it is the site where great stories were unveiled. It was also a great port and is the subject of much oceanographic research today. Some purists delight in the fact that excavations and explorations beneath the sea point toward a thriving metropolis in ancient times-as if that was proof of Krishna's existence and presence.
The opinions and agendas of Indologists, historians, and lovers of folk lore and scriptural purity will always vary, but that dilemma should be set aside for a while, if only to enjoy this book. Making a success out of a book on fictionalized history or dramatized narrative is a difficult task. This book is an attempt to walk the narrow path between both, though it is based on the sahajiya sentiment of proximity to God. While an assumption of special favor from God is frowned upon, it does not take away the strength of the original story and sentiment. Its appeal will rest in how the reader relates to the sincerity and motivation in a retelling of the story of Dwarakanatha-the Lord of Dwaraka.
About the Author
SRI BHAKTI YOG SWAMI was a great Krishna bhakta. He was a follower of the Bhakti Vedanta School founded by Sri Prabhudhanandaji. He opened the Madhuban Ashram in Rishikesh, which is devoted to the teachings of Lord Krishna and also does a lot of charitable work for the poor. He was truly a beautiful soul filled with love for the Divine in the form of Krishna.
The famous temple called Dwarakadhish, dedicated to Lord Krishna, the Lord of Dwaraka, is found in the city of Dwaraka on the west coast of India in the state of Gujarat. It is considered to be one of the seven holy cities of India. The others are Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Varanasi, Kanchipuram, and Ujjain. According to tradition, the original temple of Dwarakadhish was built by Krishna's great-grandson, Vajranabha, over the ruins of Lord Krishna's own palace, which was the only building that was not washed away by" the tsunami.
However, the ancient, famed city of Dwaraka existed five thousand years ago during the time of the Krishnavatara. It is no more to be seen now since it lies at the bottom of the sea. Dwaraka's majesty and beauty have been described by many poets and writers, and saints and sages of ancient India. It is referred to as the "Golden City" in the Srimad Bhagavatam, Skanda Purana, Vishnu Purana, Harivamsha, and the Mahabharata. One of the verses in the Bhagavatam says: "The yellow glitter of the golden fort of the Dwaraka City in the sea, throwing yellow light all round, looked as if the flames of Vadavagni (the fire of eternity) came out, tearing asunder the sea."
Dwaraka was a bustling port and had an island close by that also served as a harbor. If the number, size, and variety of stone anchors are any indication of the size of the port, it can be said that Dwaraka must have been the largest port of the third millennium Be on the Indian coast. As many as fifty stone anchors are still visible, but several hundred must have been buried in the sediment. This was probably one of the reasons the city got its name. Dwara means "gate" in Sanskrit, and the port of Dwaraka was perhaps the gate that enabled the ancient sea- faring cities of the West to enter the great subcontinent of India. The Sanskrit word Ka also stands for "Brahma," so perhaps it was a city dedicated to Brahma, the creator in the Hindu trinity.
Mathura had been the capital of the Surasenas (a Yadava clan), but it was fully exposed and could not defend itself from the continued attacks of King Jarasandha of Magadha. Krishna decided that his clan would have to move if they wanted a peaceful life without the threat of constant attacks from enemies. By a series of forced marches, he took all his people to the west coast of India and the ancient city of Kushasthali (Gujarat), which had the sea as one of its boundaries, and decided that it was best suited for their needs. He then proceeded to reclaim land from the ocean, and there he built a wonderful city called Dwaravati (Dwaraka). His kingdom included many of the islands along the shore as well as the Anarta kingdom of the mainland. This is the Dwaraka about which mention has been made in all our Puranas. There are many stories written about Krishna's early life in Gokula and Vrindavana, but very few about his sojourn in Dwaraka, even though it was the place he spent the major portion of his life.
He had foretold that the part of the city that had been reclaimed would return to the sea seven days after his departure from this planet, and that is exactly what happened. The ocean has hidden its secrets well, and for many years the descriptions of the famed Dwaraka were thought to be only myth and not based on anything real.
However, in the twentieth century, archaeological and astronomical studies, as well as many maritime explorations, have established the historicity of the city of Dwaraka and have helped to date many of the events narrated in the epic, Mahabharata. They have also helped to bring to light the history of ancient India and have led to the conclusion that the Mahabharata War was actually fought in 3126 BCE and the city of Dwaraka was submerged in the sea thirty-six years later. Underwater explorations have also unearthed the remains of a city that has been dated to have existed twenty-one thousand years ago. Six other cities had been built over this one, and Lord Krishna's Dwaraka was the last. Archaeological excavations in more than ten thousand sites scattered over major parts of India prove beyond a doubt the existence of a flourishing culture now known as the Indus Valley Civilization from 3400 BC to 1500 Be. This proves that the cradle of human civilization is not Sumeria in Mesopotamia as Western scholars believe, but the Sapta Sindhu, the land of the seven rivers, in northwest India. From the densely populated Sapta Sindhu, our ancestors, the Vedic Aryans, traveled from India to various parts of Asia and Europe and spread the knowledge of the Vedic civilization and the Sanskrit language. Sanskrit-speaking people migrated to Iran, Greece, and far- ther west.
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