Last night, I was reading the beautifully illustrated book - ‘Amma, Tell me about Krishna!’ - to my daughter at bedtime. Even though I thought that the language was a tad bit tough for her to comprehend, she seemed to enjoy the narrative - especially how Vasudev carries his baby, Krishna in the basket and the divine serpent, ‘Shesh Naag’ raises its hood to protect the baby from the storm and rain. I had her rapt attention, as Vasudev puts the baby next to Yashoda (in Yashoda & Nandlal’s home) and picks her baby up in exchange.
As the story progressed, we both imagined ourselves in the plot of the extremely rich story. I pondered, why do history and mythology only glorify Yashoda and not Devaki as much? If it were not for Devaki’s horrifying life in the prison, the sacrifice of her 7 babies (killed by Kansa), and the decision to give birth to the 8th one (as per a divine sermon - the eighth baby was to mark the end of the cruel King Kansa, Devaki’s own brother), Krishna would have never been born! We can hardly imagine her plight today, especially when pregnancy and childbirth are celebrated and often discussed aspects of a woman’s life.
And how can we miss out, the courage of King Vasudev, Krishna’s father, in ensuring that this baby gets saved from the wrath of his maternal uncle, Kansa? Somehow, other than these two facts, there’s hardly any mention of them - the biological parents - in Krishna’s tales and anecdotes. What we hear popularly instead, is about - ‘Yashoda Maiyya & Nandalala’, the adoptive parents of baby Krishna. Also associated are myriad stories about Gokul and Vrindavaan where he grew up.
Here we have a classic example of the Nature vs Nurture debate. While adoption isn’t as popular in India yet, or at least not seen as the first move, mythology celebrates Lord Krishna and he is even affectionately worshipped for all his pranks and virtues. It’s easy to infer that raising a child truly makes you a parent - the love, the stress, the delight, the grief, the hope, the despair - all that Yashoda went through in bringing up Krishna made their attachment so fond, so deep and so eternal!
I can’t agree with this more than I am doing right now. My daughter literally taught me how to be a mother, she has fulfilled my needs of being a parent - I get as angry as any other parent when she doesn’t listen to me and I punish her too. But the very next moment, all I want to do is to hug her and be by ourselves till the end of time. Also, I believe that the environment plays a crucial role in a child’s character - so I am thankful to my extended family, my neighbours, her school, daycare and the entire social structure which is helping her grow in her ‘Vrindaavan’.
I don’t see adoption as a noble deed or as an act of courage, I simply see it as another way to raise a child. Thanks to Lord Krishna’s very own story, it’s easy for me to tell her that it’s quite possible! At the end of it all, all she cares for are a few dollops of butter in her mouth :-)
PS: I don’t like to dress my daughter up as Radha just because she is a girl (Except for when the school asks so), as I believe every child to his/her mother, is Krishna!
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