Why Are There Multiple Versions Of The Same Story In Hari-Katha

[Devaki's womb]“Devaki was very much afraid of her brother Kamsa because he had already killed so many of her children. She used to remain very anxious about Krishna. In the Vishnu Purana it is stated that in order to pacify Devaki, all the demigods, along with their wives, used to always visit her to encourage her not to be afraid that her son would be killed by Kamsa. Krishna, who was within her womb, was to appear not only to diminish the burden of the world but specifically to protect the interest of the Yadu dynasty, and certainly to protect Devaki and Vasudeva.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 2)

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“For me, the most enjoyable aspect of bhakti life is Krishna-katha. Also known as Hari-katha, these are discourses about the Supreme Personality of Godhead. How He appears in this world. When and where the magical moments take place. The reaction of the fortunate participants. The countless life lessons to be gleamed through the narratives. The reward awaiting the attentive listener at the end.

“I don’t know of any other tradition which is comparable. Ordinary stories are nice to hear; of that there is no doubt. Our parents and grandparents told us many while we were growing up. Some of them we asked to hear repeatedly while falling asleep.

Krishna-katha is of a different category. Everything seems fresh and new, like Krishna Himself, who is nava-yauvanam. How many times have I seen a painting of young Gopala reaching His lotus-like hand into a jar of butter? I have heard the associated story many times, and never was I bored. It fails to be tired and old; at least to me.

“One thing I’ve noticed, though, is the variation to the stories. You have what is written in the books, like Bhagavata Purana. They say such and such occurred and then something happened afterwards; beginning, middle and end. In other books, equally as authentic within the Vedic tradition, you have a slight variation or two. Maybe the sequence is different. Something extra added.

“With the famous Ramayana history the variation is so great that people argue endlessly as to which version is the correct one. Is this the case of the telephone game extending out hundreds of years? An original incident, passed on through an aural tradition, where there is a slight deviation with each person in the chain? Otherwise, how do we reconcile the differences?”

The idea is that the Divine descents occur simultaneously in the unlimited universes. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada makes the comparison to the clock. It is a certain time of day, locally. Yet across the globe, it is a different time of day. Whatever time of day we choose, it is always that time somewhere in the world.

[Devaki's womb]In the same way, Shri Krishna is appearing from Devaki’s womb at this very moment somewhere. The primary accounts we find in Bhagavata Purana and other similar works, but there is additional information from other universes and other witnesses. Harivamsha may provide additional details. Maybe the Vishnu Purana has a slightly different version of events.

We should also consider the cycle of time. The creation appears and disappears. Maybe in the most recent appearance, Shri Krishna did things a certain way, and in the next one there will be a different ordering to the events.

[Ramayana poster]There is no reason to stress over the disparities. Sometimes the same author will give multiple versions of a single event, such as with Goswami Tulsidas. In his Janaki Mangala poem, the events are more aligned to the Ramayana of Valmiki, while in the Ramacharitamanasa, there is stronger similarity to what is described in the Adhyatma Ramayana of Lord Shiva.

This should not surprise us. Shri Krishna is unlimited, or ananta. There are countless ways to describe. One person pays special attention to His stealing of butter in Vrindavana, while another focuses on the timeless wisdom presented to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, in the work to be known as Bhagavad-gita.

The Supreme Lord never leaves us in the dark, to only imagine over His features, His disposition, and His whereabouts. He provides as much information as we need, feeding the insatiable appetite of the devotees to always have His association.

In Closing:

Urgent desire the need,
Please more pastimes to feed.

So Harivamsha can also read,
Where sometimes different event to lead.

So discrepancy arising,
But not actually surprising.

Since everywhere and all the time,
Krishna in many universes to shine.

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1 reply

  1. Reblogged this on oshriradhekrishnabole and commented:
    Radhe Radhe ❤️

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