Bhagwan Krishna: A king or a kingmaker?

When we come across the stories of the great epic Mahabharata, people always identify Krishna as the kingmaker and not a king. He was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and therefore he himself could have easily become the king, instead of helping Pandavas to win back their lost kingdom. Had he done that, there would have been no war of Kurukshetra and all the bloodshed and deaths that followed. But as we all know, that didn’t happen. Krishna, remained as the kingmaker. 

Why, you ask? The answer lies in the past, because some bygones, are not bygones.

Let’s acquaint ourselves with some important characters of the story. Meet Sharmishtha, the daughter of the Asura king Vrishaparva and Devayani, the daughter of Asura Guru, Shurkracharya.

The story starts from here.

One day, Sharmishtha and Devayani go to the lake to bathe, after which Devayani mistakenly wears the saree of Sharmishtha. An angry Sharmishtha having seen Devayani in her saree, insults her. Devayani shoots back saying that it was because of her father and his powers that Vrishaparva was still a king. A huge argument breaks out between the two and Sharmishtha, in a fit of rage pushes Devayani into a well and storms off.

Now, enters the scene, King Yayati.

Yayati was a king of Chandravanshi dynasty – a dynasty said to be descended from the moon deities, like Chandra. He stumbles upon the well in which Devayani was pushed into and helps her to get out of it. Smitten by the king, Devayani requests the king to accept her as wife, and Yayati agrees to it. 

When Devayani did not return, Shukracharya set out in search of his daughter. He finds her under a tree, seething with anger and revenge. She declares that she will not return until Sharmishtha is punished for her deeds. Shurkracharya goes back to the king and threatens him that he would abandon the king’s side. Fearing that his kingdom would be in ruins without the guru, the king begs Devayani and requests her to forgive Sharmishtha. Devayani agrees on one condition that Sharmishtha would be her maid for life. When Devayani moves to king Yayati’s palace after marrying him, Sharmishtha also accompanies them. 

Time passes by…

Yayati and Devayani give birth to three sons. One day, Sharmishtha tells king how she became Devayani’s maid. What started as an initial sympathetic interaction between Yayati and Sharmishtha, blooms into an affair and soon she becomes the mother of two sons.

When Devayani learns of this affair, she becomes outraged and complains to her father. Shukracharya curses the king with a premature old age for inflicting pain to his daughter. But, Devayani was not happy with it. So, Shukracharya in an effort to reduce the effect of the curse, tells Yayati that if he could persuade one of his sons to exchange their youth for his old age, he would be able to enjoy his lost youth for a while. In a desperation to gain his youth back, Yayati turns to his sons.

He approaches his eldest son Yadu, who rejects him. One by one, all of his sons but his youngest son Puru by Sharmishta denies this exchange. Thus, Yayati gains his youth back, while his son lives as a young soul in an old body. Many years later, when Yayati had finished enjoying the worldly pleasures and the thrills of youth, he returns the youth back to his son.To honor Puru’s sacrifice, Yayati makes him the rightful heir to his throne although he was the youngest and cursing rest of his sons that their descendants will never be the kings.

After being cursed, Yadu moves out of his father’s kingdom and settles somewhere in Mathura. His descendants, called Yadavas, all bear the curse—either they could never be kings, or even if they did, their kinship would never last long enough.

Now, let’s take a look at this family tree

As we can see, Krishna is a descendent of Yadu, the cursed son of Yayati. So, the curse had effects on Krishna as well and he could never be the king. Though never officially a king, Krishna actively participated in administering Dwaraka and also fought wars to protect it from any attacks. He always remained as the protector and a guru that one could always turn to.



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