Shyam Kumari

   The blue waters of river Yamuna were flowing. Blue lotuses were swaying on its waves of blue. In the clear blue skies floated some clouds which were the same blue-white hue as Krishna.

   That day Yashoda thought, "Today I will dress my Krishna in blue. I will put around his neck and wrists garlands of blue flowers."

   She called, "Come, my child, let me give you a bath. It is time for you to get dressed."

   Sometimes Krishna was very mischievous and would make Yashoda chase after him and catch him. But not today. When he saw the many blue things near Maiya (mummy), Krishna willingly ran to her. First Maiya rubbed him well with herbal paste and aftr bathing him dressed him in a blue silk kurta and tied a blue dhoti around his waist. She put a blue Bindi (dot) between his eyebrows, tied small garlands of blue flowers around his neck. Then she crowned his curly head with a blue silk band that had peacock feathers tacked to it. Blue hue, blue eyes, blue headband, blue Bindi, and a garland of blue lotuses -- truly Krishna had become a blue Krishna.

   Just then someone called Yashoda Maiya and she went inside the house to attend to some household chores. Krishna happily admired his blue clothes, then his eyes moved to the blue lotus he was holding in his hand. As he looked up and down, the peacock feathers in the headband bobbed. Krishna himself seemed like a peacock.

   Many peacocks lived in Gokul. They would fly again and again over the house of Chief Nanda just to catch a glimpse of the Divine child Krishna. Today a large flock of peacocks came visiting, especially to see this extra blue Krishna. Some of them perched on the wall of Nanda's house, others on the roof, still others on the branches of the stately trees nearby. Some of them spread out their magnificent feathers and began to dance.

   Krishna was delighted. He took out his flute and played a charming song for the peacock dance.

   Upon seeing the feathers in Krishna's headband, one baby peacock mistook him for another baby peacock and flew down. He called out "Kaun, Kaun," and settled near Krishna. Krishna was very happy to see this new little friend and he began to clap and laugh. When they saw the chick sitting on the ground, his parents also flew down from their tree-top perch. They spread out their feathers and joined in the dance with happiness. This was the first time that they had come so near to the Divine Child. Their huge fanned-out feathers were as beautiful as jewelled blue waves of a heavenly sea.

   Suddenly Krishna thought, "How much fun it would be to go for a ride on a peacock!" With that idea he jumped up and sat on the largest nearby bird. At the touch of Krishna's body the surprised peacock felt full of joy. He spread out his wings like a kingly umbrella over Krishna and hopped from one end of the courtyard to another.

   Meanwhile Maiya Yashoda returned after finishing some chores. She was surprised to see half-a-dozen peacocks dancing. "But where is Krishna, my dear child, where is he?"

   She looked around a little worried. "Have these peacocks hurt him?" she wondered.

   Just then she spotted someone on the back of an extra-large peacock. She thought it must be Kartikeya -- the commander-in-chief of the army of gods who rides a peacock. In those days many gods came to Gokul to see Krishna. She at once bowed down  respectfully to the god.

   Krishna thought, "To whom is she bowing down?"

   He cried out in glee, "Look, Maiya! I am riding a peacock. I have become Kartikeya. Now I will take the cows to the forest riding a peacock."

   Yashoda was at first startled. Then she called out, "Krishna, you naughty child! Get down from that peacock! Whoever heard of anybody riding a peacock?"

   Krishna answered, "Why not? You yourself told me the story of Kartikeya going to fight the demons, riding his own peacock."

   Yashoda Maiya was speechless. Who can argue with Krishna? She was worried and thought, "How can I make Krishna come down from the peacock's back?"

   Then she had an inspiration. She knew Krishna could not bear anybody to suffer. She brought out a basket of grains and fruits from inside the house and called out, "Krishna! Your peacock must be hungry. It is time to feed him."

   "Oh! you think my peacocks are hungry? Well, Maiya, then give me nice sweet fruits. I will feed them." Saying this, Krishna filled his tiny hands with grains and fruits and held them out to the peacocks.

   Oh! how daintily and carefully the peacocks fed out of his hands, without hurting him with their sharp beaks even once. Then Yashoda relaxed at last. She saw that her Krishna would never be harmed by peacocks. From that day onwards the peacocks came to the courtyard every day to be fed by their beloved Krishna.

   One day Krishna sat alone under a majestic Kadamba tree in the garden. He was holding a blue lotus in his hand and was humming a song.

   Just then a demon sent by King Kamsa passed that way. He was overjoyed to find Krishna alone and unprotected. He said to himself, "Aha! This is the chance of a lifetime. Today I will finally be able to kill this boy and will then claim a lot of money from King Kamsa. But I have to be careful. This three-year-old child looks small but he has killed the great demoness Putana even. I must plan it all carefully."

   After some moments the demon had a plan. He turned into a green snake and began to slither through the grass towards Krishna.

   Meanwhile, Krishna was humming happily. He lifted up the blue lotus he was holding to inhale its fragrance. Did he not know that the snake was very near? Oh Lord! What would happen? The snake then lifted up its hood and bared his fangs to bite Krishna. It was all ready to strike....

   Suddenly the silence was broken by the "Kaun, Kaun" sound of peacocks. The beloved peacocks of Krishna pounced upon the snake- demon and cut him into pieces with their sharp beaks. What a close call that had been!

   The peacocks spread out their wings and danced around Krishna with joyous cries of victory. "Krishna! Look! We have killed him, we have killed the snake-demon."

   Krishna understood what the birds were saying. He had been born with the gift of understanding the language of all the birds and beasts. "Oh, they have saved me from a demon." He petted each one of his peacock friends and fed them some choice fruits.

   Then he played for them his sweetest tune filled with the sounds of love and joy and victory. And just for fun he had one more ride on the back of the largest peacock. He was just like Kartikeya -- the commander-in-chief of the gods. His curls flew in the wind. How lucky was that peacock! Do you think that Kartikeya had sent him?