Chapter 14 in ‘Krishna Gopeshvara’

Bāṇakanṭaka came to know of the travails of Kuṭil Muni. He was a little surprised, even more amused. After Kaṃsa had taken over the kingdom of Mathurā and he had arranged a meeting of Kuṭil Muni with Kaṃsa, he had not been in touch with him. Kroorasena got some messages to the effect that Kuṭil Muni was planning a big expedition to Bhāratavarsha and Nāgas were going to facilitate. He had left Hastināpur for Suvastu Pradesh (Swat) after meeting them in a secret place across the Yamunā near Mathurā. It was a good ten years since they had last exchanged a message. Bāṇakanṭaka brought the entire situation to Kaṃsa’s notice. Kaṃsa had not been at peace ever since he had imprisoned Vasudeva. He did not trust the rishis and Āchāryas, as they were all under the influence of Gargāchārya. The city of Mathurā had been restless. Kaṃsa had allowed Magadha influence to claim every sphere of activity in Mathurā. The great Yādava warriors, Pradyot, Prasenjit and Satyak had been sidelined. Jarāsandha’s aide Chāṇūra had taken over command of all army units. This was causing great strife in the federated army of the Yādavas. Clans of Kukur and Shūrasena in particular were very restive. Even Vidarbha and Chedi had started asking questions. Kaṃsa had agreed to become a part of Jarāsandha’s empire. Jarāsandha had mentioned Mathurā as one of his Manḍala in his palace records. This news had reached Mathurā and had made people turn totally against Kaṃsa. Kaṃsa had turned Mathurā into a police state with Magadha spies at every corner. Bāṇakanṭaka had been made the Chief of Security, and Chāṇūra the Head of Regimented Troops.

With such cruel persons at the helm of the security apparatus, Mathurā was on the edge, ready to explode. Kaṃsa had tasked Bāṇakanṭaka with reduction of influence of the rishis, and Āchāryas. Priests were largely wage earners. Kaṃsa had bought the priests off by providing them generous employment under the royal house. The result was exactly the opposite. Priests lost respect in the Mathurā society. Gargāchārya’s word was still respected. All attempts by Kaṃsa to win Gargāchārya over to his side had failed. Rishis seem to be made of some other stuff. Worldly blandishments held no allure for them. Each time Kaṃsa went to Gargāchārya, he had to brave lengthy sermons on Rājdharma. In Mathurā, the legend of eighth son of Vasudeva had been growing. Devaki was carrying her eighth child. Mathurā was excited and rebellious. Kaṃsa and Bāṇakanṭaka needed a counter narrative. Bāṇakanṭaka decided to travel to Khānḍavaprastha after a lengthy consultation with Kaṃsa. Bāṇakanṭaka travelled up the Yamunā and parked his Royal Boat on the left bank of Yamunā opposite Khānḍavaprastha. He sent a Prophet to Kuṭil Muni, as it was not possible for him to travel through thick forests on the opposite bank to Khānḍavaprastha’s Takshak Kunj. He would need a guide. The forests were infested with snakes. Nāgas had great love for snakes. They had developed a degree of familiarity and immunity against snakebites over yugas of close interaction with the slithering forms. Snakes formed their protective shield in the forests where they lurked, laying ambush at unsuspecting caravans and armies travelling to Saraswati ports, and taking the Yamunā and Chārmaṇyavati (Chambal)route to Ujjayini and further south. After the capture of Rakshāgriha (Rakhigarhi), Nāgas had been become like a bee in the bonnet of Kuru kingdom. Bhishma had himself led the Kuru expedition to throw out the Nāgas from Rakshāgriha and stationed a large garrison to protect their riverine trade. Kuṭil Muni’s flotilla at Brihannapur (Byrhanna) was taken over by the Kuru army and employed for trade to river and ocean ports. Kuṭil Muni came across the river himself and was hosted on Bāṇakanṭaka’s royal boat. After a luncheon, Bāṇakanṭaka and Kuṭil Muni met alone in the special chambers of Bāṇakanṭaka. Bāṇakanṭaka was curious as to how Kuṭil Muni landed in the captivity of the Nāgas. Kuṭil Muni disabused him of the notion. ‘I am here as an advisor, Bāṇakanṭaka. I was originally invited as commander of an army to aid the effort of Nāgas to carve up an independent state, but a misunderstanding resulted in my losing the army and staying back only as an advisor. My life mission of converting Nāgas to Kuṭil Dharma also came unstuck.’ Kuṭil Muni described the events, which brought him to this diminished role. He was totally forbidden from teaching his cult to the Nāgas. His probation was still effective, so he could not even go near any Nāga woman. What was worse, Maṇimālā would humiliate him daily by sending her servant girls to him in provocative dresses for service. He did not dare to even look at them as he was mortally scared of being castrated. ‘Tell me, Kuṭil Muni, you have always preached of One God and projected yourself as his Regent, then how you were so badly defeated by Nāgas. They are not even Sanātanis. They only follow some animistic and Nature practices; and they venerate the Shiva-Parvati duo. They do not do any yajnas, nor do they follow any rituals. Why did you fail with them?’ ‘I think the mistake was mine’, said Kuṭil Muni. ‘I did not realize that their need for political power was not greater than their way of life. Now I know that their way of life is more precious to them than a need for political power. My methods work best only when you can conquer people’s mind in order to consolidate your political power.’ Something rang a bell in Bāṇakanṭaka’s mind. ‘Guruvar, we are facing great problems in Mathurā. The public has turned totally against Mahārāj Kaṃsa. Due to the heightened sense of requirement of Dharma in the polity and in administration, public regards him as a tyrant unworthy of the throne. He is holding on only with the help of his father-in-law, Jarāsandha, who is the King of Magadha. The Mathurā army is a hodge podge of people drawn from various Yādava clans. Even the Vrishṇis are against him because of Ugrasena’s imprisonment and the powerful Shūrasenas are also against him. Moreover, there is a big rumour that the next son from his cousin Devaki will be the cause of his death. He cannot even sleep without a generous dose of liquor.’

Kuṭil Muni brightened up. ‘That is exactly the kind of situation in which Kuṭil Dharma works best. You must use your power to bring in political religion in place of the spiritual systems that drive Āryāvarta. One God, One Book, One Prophet, One-finger salute and One Symbol goes very well with political power. This abstruse concept of the King ruling for Dharma and obscure rishis becoming the arbiter on behalf of Dharma needs to be replaced with my cult. Once that happens, then the King rules as an agent of Jhaṅkāl and nobody has the philosophical basis of challenging his imprimatur.’ Bāṇakanṭaka was very interested. Kaṃsa was facing his challenges from the Dharmic concept that pervaded the whole of Āryāvarta. Even someone as cruel as his father-in-law was able to keep his empire and army mainly because of his reputation as the greatest Shiva Bhakta in the whole of Bhāratavarsha. Besides, he also took care to support rishis and learned people in their quest of the spiritual. Even then, Āchārya Chanḍakaushik never felt shy of berating him publicly for his cruel methods. Jarāsandha would comply with the advice of his Kulaguru every time, albeit for a brief periods, before lapsing back to his normal oppressive style. He could manage that with the help of his massive army and his personal valour. Kaṃsa had co-opted himself into Jarāsandha’s system, but he simply did not have the charisma of Jarāsandha. ‘Please do tell me, how do we go about it?’ said Bāṇakanṭaka. ‘First, you must become my disciple. You should be the first person to become a Kuṭil Dharmi in the Saraswati-Ganga region. Till now, you have been an aide, but not an initiated disciple.’ ‘I am ready’, said Bāṇakanṭaka. ’Okay. Come to me and kneel down.’ Kuṭil Muni took out a sharp knife and branded Bāṇakanṭaka’s left forearm by making a figure of three points within a circle, and then shaved off Bāṇakanṭaka’s head with a razor. ‘You must look very distinct from everyone else. Now sit in a vajrāsana and recite after me.’ ‘Jai Jhaṅkālam, Jai Jhaṅkālam, Jai Jhaṅkālam namo namah.’ Bāṇakanṭaka did that. ‘Now your initiation is complete. I will give you basic instructions so that you may start converting people to our cult. Tell Kaṃsa to support the effort. He need not convert now, but after more than fifty percent of Mathurā rajya has converted, he can also convert and then continue to rule without the shackles of Dharma. In Pralaya Shāstra, it is enjoined that King is the agent of Jhaṅkāl and he has every right over the public, whereas the public has none. This bullshit of plural life must end and you must establish a unified religion on my behalf. I will then tell you the way to conquer the whole of Bhāratavarsha. These Nāgas are fools. They only want to learn the deception and deceit part of my cult, and do not want the entire package. Now I will teach you the essentials of Kuṭil Dharma, and give you my bhojapatra. Get it copied and read it. Return the original to me with five copies. It is not very large, just 50 pages and 500 shlokas.’

Bāṇakanṭaka saw Kuṭil Muni off after learning the essentials of Kuṭil Dharma and an instruction on carrying out the expansion of Kuṭil cult in Mathurā. After coming back, Bāṇakanṭaka briefed Kaṃsa, who was very happy to learn about the new counter narrative that he could use to establish his hold on the Mathurā public. He gave a go ahead to Bāṇakanṭaka. Bāṇakanṭaka gathered some of his trusted aides and converted them to Kuṭil Dharma by using the initiation technique taught to him by Kuṭil Muni. Residents of Mathurā found a new breed of warriors with shaven heads roaming the streets of Mathurā with a menacing demeanour. They would sometimes block a street to hold a prayer meeting with loud cries of Jai Jhaṅkāl. At other times, they would beat up people without any provocation and ask them to shout Jai Jhaṅkāl slogan. One fine day, Bāṇakanṭaka held a congregation in the Main Square of Mathurā. ‘Residents of Mathurā’, shouted Bāṇakanṭaka. ‘Wake up to the new reality. It is time you realized that your Vedas and Vedanta are all false. This world is not created out of nothing. There is nothing that we can call cosmos or cosmic reality. There is no Supreme Being or Brahman living within you. Gargāchārya is a fool. How can there be creation out of a void. All creation requires a creator. There is nothing beyond what your sensory organs can decipher for you. There are no circles. This earth is made flat for you to enjoy. Jhaṅkāl creates the world for mankind to enjoy. All Nature and animal world is a slave of the humans. Jhaṅkāl creates these women for men to keep and produce children from. There can be no equality between man and woman. All morality is in submitting to Jhaṅkāl and acting in accordance with Pralaya Shāstra. Anything against the wishes of Jhaṅkāl is sin, and all that is according to his wish is piety. There is no rebirth or reincarnation in this world. All of you will die and go to either heaven or hell on the day of Pralaya. Jhaṅkāl does not permit rule by Dharma. You must worship him and his symbol Vilom Swastika daily. Jhaṅkāl will decide where you go on the day of Pralaya. Jai Jhaṅkāl.’ A crowd of skinheads numbering about one hundred went wild. Jai Jhaṅkāl started reverberating everywhere. The mob attacked the Shiva Temple in the main square and pulled it down. As the word went around that the main Shiva Temple had been pulled down by a strange new cult, crowds started gathering. They were set upon by the armed mob. A gruesome carnage followed in which at least hundred innocent Maathurs were slain. The madness was brought under control when the two queens, princesses of Magadha learnt about the destruction of Shiva Temple. They were the daughters of the greatest Shiva Bhakta in Bhāratavarsha. They remonstrated with Kaṃsa and reminded him of his Father-in-law’s devotion to Lord Shiva. Kaṃsa then sent Chāṇūra to stop the state engineered mayhem. It was a dark day of Bhādrapada ashṭami of the dark cycle. It was raining heavily since the second prahara. As the night advanced, rain became so heavy that half of Mathurā was inundated. The time had arrived.

Dixit, Sanjay. Krishna Gopeshvara . Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition: