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Paundraka Vasudeva – The False God Of Krishna era.History of Mahabharata

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Paundraka Vasudeva – The False God
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In Pundra, a kingdom in Eastern India, there ruled a king named Vaasudeva. Being from Pundra, he was a Paundraka and was widely known as Paundraka Vaasudeva. This king was an ally- nay, a sycophant- of Jarasandha, the emperor of the mighty Magadha kingdom.
Like all friends of Jarasandha, Paundraka too had one chief enemy- Krishna Vaasudeva of Dwaraka. The cowherd “Lord” of Dwaraka had killed Jarasandha’s son-in-law, the fearsome Kamsa, and had, along with his brother Balaraama, defeated Jarasandha himself in battle no less than seventeen times. He had then sorcerously transported his kingdom and all his people from Mathura in the north to this mysterious Dwaraka, the location of which was unknown, preempting further attacks. For this act of cowardice, he had earned himself the title ‘Rann-Chhor’, or One Who Abandons Battle.
This Rann-Chhor had dealt the emperor yet another blow by kidnapping the daughter of King Bhishmaka, whom Jarasandha had wanted married to his protege, Sisupala. Out of nowhere he had appeared, right when the princess Rukmini was coming out of a Devi temple, ready to wed Sisupala, whisked her away in his chariot and disappeared. And when Jarasandha’s forces had attempted to give him chase, his brother Balaraama had come and routed their army single handed. Paundraka had never been more humiliated in his life. He had let Jarasandha down in a big way. Jarasandha, who was no less than a god in his eyes. What was worse was that people all across the Arya nation had started talking of this Krishna Vaasudeva as God Incarnate. Every task he performed had started seeming like a miracle to people. Paundraka couldn’t stand it. He returned to Pundra, defeated at the hands of Balaraama and burdened by ignominy. His days were spent brooding and he neglected all his duties as king. Until some of his courtiers came up with a conspiracy.

“My Lord, you are the real Vaasudeva. That title is yours by birth. You are the One True Lord of the Universe. You, are God Incarnate. As a king, you are kind and just. As a warrior, you are matchless. Your might is unquestionable and your face shines like the Sun,” said the courtiers of Paundraka to him in private counsel. This was reiterated to him at different times by different people, for the courtiers were clever and had a wide network, who were all instructed to reinforce the message upon the king. Lavish praises were written in his honor, the building of temples commissioned with him as the chief deity. Soon, gifts began to arrive in Pundra, paying homage to the “One True God”, or “The Vaasudeva”. Paundraka, never known for a shrewd intellect, at first dismissed the whole notion. But flattery and reinforcement, being wondrous tools of corruption, led him into believing what seemed to be the ‘talk of the town’. Of course he was The Vaasudeva! He had been Vaasudeva for as long as he could remember. What was that Rann-Chhor, in comparison?! A veritable cowherd who had chanced upon a throne of a king by means of cunning and deceit, having slain his own uncle! An abominable thief! His conviction grew so deep that he fabricated an entire alternate version of the truth- one in which he had arrived in the world with four arms and an Implement of Vishnu in each of them. Needless to say, he would also command the sole right of ridership over Garuda, the lord of all winged creatures. Most importantly, he was the rightful owner of Sudarshana, Kaumodaki, Saranga, Nandaka, etc.- the famed weapons of Vishnu! Which enemy could stand a chance against him, should he choose to employ even one of those in battle?! There just remained the tiny hindrance of removing this “impostor”, Rann-Chhor. How dare he call himself Vaasudeva!

***

Krishna laughed long and hard after the messenger finished reading out the message. Being a merciful lord, I shall spare your life and might even consider appointing you chief of the Dwaraka region once I annex it to my kingdom.
“Brave messenger of Paundraka, your loyalty towards your lord is admirable. For bringing this message to me at peril of your own life, you must be lauded. I am more than willing to transfer the ownership of all my belongings to one who is worthier of them than I. Tell him that I shall personally come and present my Sudarshana chakra, Saranga bow, Kaumodaki mace, Nandaka sword and my conch, Pancajanya, along with my ever faithful steed Garuda to him.”

***

Paundraka Vaasudeva was elated. Word of the exchange reached Kashi, where ruled a great friend of Paundraka. Kashi Raja, as the king of Kashi was known, was a far wiser individual than his friend and sent out a warning to Paundraka immediately. Feeling that a warning might be insufficient, he even rode to Pundra with a formidably sized army. Thus, when Krishna did finally arrive seated on his eagle-steed Garuda upon the land of Pundra, he was welcomed by a huge army. Krishna held aloft all the possessions he was expected to handover to Paundraka for all to see. On seeing them, Paundraka’s heart went wild with joy. He issued a command to his forces to bring down the “vile thief who had stolen them, that they may find themselves in the hands of their rightful owner without any further delay.”

Krishna Vaasudeva, seated atop Garuda, looked down long and hard at his namesake. Paundraka, astride a chariot which had an eagle on its banner, had imitated every aspect of Krishna’s appearance. He had managed to color the skin of his whole body to the exact hue of Krishna’s own dusk colored skin. His robes were the same resplendent shade of yellow favored by Krishna. His locks were curly. The ornaments dangling from his ears were of the form of crocodiles, again exactly like Krishna’s own. The fool had even gone to the extent of imitating the tuft of chest hair called Srivatsa and the gem on the chest called Kaustubha, that were characteristic of Krishna. Around his neck, he too wore a garland of flowers. The imitation was perfect. However, the result was a parody.

Krishna began laughing uncontrollably. Paundraka was furious. His soldiers, fueled by the fury of their king, hurled their weapons at Krishna. Before they could so much as reach Krishna, Garuda swept them all away with his wings as though they were nothing more than mere dust. Another round of weapons was hurled, and met with the same fate. And again. Paundraka became furious and decided to take matters in his own hands.

“Rann-Chhor! Long have you mocked my brave soldiers with your impudence. It is time that thieves like you were taught a lesson” and forgetting that he, by his own accounts, was not yet master of the real thing, he somehow invoked a chakra that resembled Krishna’s Sudarshana. He ‘instructed’ it to end Krishna. Krishna redoubled his laughter and allowed Paundraka’s chakra to make contact with his skin, upon which it shattered.

Seeing the proceedings, the enraged Kashi Raja challenged Krishna to a duel. Krishna alighted from Garuda, ascended a ground chariot and strung his Saranga bow, ready to engage Kashi Raja in battle. Kashi Raja, who was a fierce warrior, put up a valiant effort, but in the end, he was no match for Krishna’s deadly arrows let loose from the bow crafted by the Lord of Architecture himself. Kashi Raja’s head was severed from his body and went flying all the way to Kashi.

Paundraka then challenged Krishna, using cuss words to describe his entire clan. Krishna calmly responded, “O king! Your foolishness appears boundless to me. The only way I can end it is by conceding to your demands. You asked for Kaumodaki and Pancajanya. Here they are,” and he blew his conch once resonantly before hurling it and his mace in the air. As it traveled through space, Pancajanya channeled air to enter it and amplify the deathly sound that Krishna had blown out through it. Kaumodaki came down crashing on Paundraka’s chariot, instantly killing his charioteer and all his horses.

“You asked for Saranga and for Nandaka,” said Krishna, sending them following his conch and shell. The bow stopped mid-air, its string pulled and taut. Krishna’s Sudarshana chakra promptly came and aligned itself with the bow in the manner of a dart ready to be launched. Nandaka wiped out the armies of Kashi and Pundra.

Krishna stepped down from his chariot. “And now for Garuda and Sudarshana,” said he. The eagle swooped down, shattered Paundraka Vaasudeva’s chariot and ripped the eagle-standard to shreds. Sudarshana released itself from Saranga and made its way to the throat of the king of Pundra with lightning speed. Before dying, Paundraka saw a four armed being in space, armed with bow, mace, sword and chakra and the imitator shut his eyes with the sight of the real Vaasudeva.

From Hinduism Mystified.

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