Sunday, 16 February 2014

Rakhsha Bandhan – The knot that protects

Raksha bandhan or Rakhi is a festival celebrated in India. This festival has many stories linked to its origin. But the one that stands out is what happened to Lord Krishna after the death of Shishupala.

While Yudhishtra was performing the Rajasuya Yagna, Shishupala poked fun at Lord Krishna, calling him a cowherd and therefore unworthy of Kingship. Shishupala’s mother had received a boon from Krishna, her nephew, that he would spare Shishupala’s life a hundred times before killing him for his wrong deeds.

Lord Krishna could no longer spare his cousin.

The insults hurled by Shishupala at Lord Krishna, during the Yagna was his hundredth wrong doing. Lord Krishna could no longer spare his cousin.

The Lord, using his Sudharshana Chakra killed Shishupala. While releasing the Chakra from his index finger, Krishna hurt himself. Seeing his bleeding finger, Draupadi, tore a part of her sari and used it to bandage the Lord’s wound.

Lord Krishna was immensely moved by the care shown by Draupadi and vowed to protect her with all his might. Though Gods are omnipotent, they too yearn for love and care. Lord Krishna was no exception.

For the rest of his life Krishna protected Draupadi whenever she was in trouble.

A lady, who ties a coloured cotton thread around the wrist of a man whom she cares for, becomes his sister. The man is then duty bound to protect her.

This tradition has been carried on, generation and generation and has stood to symbolise the spirit behind Raksha Bandhan.

This holy thread has saved the lives of many invaders who attacked India from various other parts of the world. One popular narrative involves Alexander the great who invaded India in 326 BCE. Fearing that her husband would be killed by the great King Porus, Alexander’s wife Roxana sent a holy thread to Porus, the Katoch King from a Rajput clan. Porus respected the sanctity of the Rakhi sent to him and spared the life of Alexander on the battlefield!