Dwaraka, the mythological land of Krishna is engulfed by the ocean six thousand five hundred years ago. In 2002, an accidental discovery of the remnants of this lost city sends a team of people each in their own quest for fame, political gain, lost treasures and spiritual calling. The hunt culminates in a startling discovery that would change their lives forever.
The Ancient City of Dwaraka
There wasn’t time for mourning, for the task at hand was huge. One of the greatest cities he had seen was about to be engulfed by the ocean. Millions of people had to be evacuated from the coastal kingdom of Dwaraka. Land which was once borrowed from the sea would soon be taken back.
Caravans filled with people young and old, men, women and children, horses, elephants and livestock had to be taken to safety. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers, many who had fought against each other bitterly in the past, joined hands in this monumental task to save the people from the wrath of the ocean. Birds which had lived in this abode of Krishna for so long, sensed danger and had already started migrating eastward in thousands.
Arjuna, aided by his brothers, met with the commanders of the Yadhava army and organized the massive evacuation. Ministers, commanders and generals could not believe it at first, but everyone had the utmost respect for Arjuna, and knowing the bond he shared with Krishna, knew better than questioning his advice. Following the death of Krishna and his older brother Balarama, the mighty Yadhava clan lacked leadership.
“Krishna, Oh Krishna,” Arjuna could not control his tears at the sight of the body of his cousin, his best friend and guide.
His mission on Earth having been accomplished, Krishna knew that it was time for him to shed his mortal body. That night, he had appeared in Arjuna’s dream. In exactly seven days following his death, the city of Dwaraka would be swallowed by the ocean. Would he do him a favour by guiding its citizens to safety?
Arjuna had woken up from his horrible dream and immediately set upon his journey to Dwaraka, hoping that it wasn’t true – that his Krishna, his dear Krishna was alive and well. Instead, he found himself standing beside his body, clad in silk attire and peacock feather on his jewel-studded crown.
“Grieve not for what is inevitable O Arjuna! Have you forgotten all that I taught you?” Krishna’s voice reverberated in his head, reminding him of his teachings in the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
“The soul is eternal, it is not born, nor does it die. It is not slain when the body is slain. Weapons do not cut it, fire does not burn it, water does not moisten it, and wind does not dry it.”
Piles of sandalwood were stacked and the pyre was ready to be lit. Crowds were gathered in silence to pay their last respects.
“Just as a person gives up his old clothes and puts on new ones, so does the embodied self give up decrepit bodies and enter new ones.”
As the flames of the pyre surrounding the mortal remains of Krishna rose up in the sky, clouds billowed in thick smoke. It was as if the earth had come to a standstill. The news spread far and wide, across the Earth, the Netherworld and the Heavenly abode.
Meanwhile at Dwaraka, announcements had been made all over town, and hundreds of thousands of people had been ordered to pack their belongings to leave the city. They had a long and arduous journey ahead of them.
As the seventh day after Krishna’s death dawned, most of Dwaraka’s inhabitants had been evacuated. Some who could not bear the thought of leaving their homes had to be forced out. Arjuna rode through the streets for one last time to make sure no one was left behind. He passed by the palaces, temples and archways lined in gold, shining in bright orange as the sun rose.
Waves continued to batter the shore. Fishing boats lay abandoned. The fishermen would have to find a different profession as they moved to the land-locked plains of Indraprastha, he thought.
Suddenly he felt the ground rumble beneath him. Water began to recede from the shore as if it had momentarily given up, tired from its battering, exposing a greater landmass and spewing away thousands of marine life forms. His horses neighed, lifting their front legs and jerked violently, as if wanting to flee. He knew that the moment had arrived.
“Get out of here! NOW!!” he yelled, beckoning everyone to higher ground. His charioteer yanked the reins, but the horses did not need any further incentive. Their senses told them of the danger already.
The last few men and women were carried away in horses and sped away from the shore, leaving behind dust and debris for miles. Chasing them from the foaming waters was a colossal wave with a thundering roar gaining momentum and size, and breaking past the dikes. People watching it shivered in fear and awe even from the safety of the nearby hill. It was unlike anything they had ever seen before. It was as if the end of the world had arrived.
The ground began to give way, dragged by the fury of the ocean. The golden palace with its thousand pillars crumbled as the waters rushed in. The huge temple of Vishnu fell in a single swoop and submerged underwater. The bridge connecting Dwaraka to the mainland snapped just after the last few inhabitants led by Arjuna fled. The city of gold so marvellously built by Vishwakarma, the chief architect of the Gods at the behest of Krishna, was no more.
Will there be another city so beautiful, so rich in its grandeur ever again on Earth? Arjuna wondered as the sea returned to its calm, its appetite now satisfied, ruins of Dwaraka now lying deep down the belly of the ocean.
Elsewhere, in the Himalayas, venerable sage Vyasa closed his eyes in prayer. He had been endowed with the power of intuitive vision which extended the dimensions of space and time. Having witnessed one of the most intense of battles between the Pandavas and their Kaurava cousins thirty six years ago, and of Krishna’s death and the destruction of Dwaraka now, he knew that he had to write all about it for the benefit of humanity.
The death of Krishna had marked the beginning of Kali Yuga, the fourth of the ages where the line between good and evil will begin to fade. Wars and killings in the world will continue, alas, many in the name of faith. Landscapes will be changed, nations will be formed, and empires will rise and fall. Spiritual leaders will arrive to guide people out of darkness, and different faiths will arise. But, for as long as there is life on Earth, Krishna will be worshipped and his heroic deeds and tales of wisdom will be spoken of.
Stories of the kingdom of Dwaraka will be recorded in scriptures and ensconced in mythology for thousands of years to come, until the proof of its existence emerges.