18. Ringal Cobra
This is the story that the Albatross narrated:
“Once a ship in the Atlantic lost its way in a storm. Then one albatross hovered over the ship. One cruel sailor travelling in the ship aimed and killed the bird because in those days, man believed that the bird was a bad omen and responsible for the storm. The ocean god was angry. The dead bird fell on the killer’s neck. Because of the divine anger he could not remove the bird and suffered for days. The weather became still. The ship was standing still. The sailors suffered without food and water. One night the moon rose in the east. With painful agony, the man carrying the dead albatross looked down in the water. There were fish swimming. For a second he felt a love for all living beings. He realized the precious nature of life, created by God. At the same instant the dead bird fell down from his shoulders. A breeze started towards north and the ship started. It gave them hope to reach the shores of their country.”
Balarama commented “O! friendly wise bird! You told us a story insisting on universal love for all God’s creatures. But sometimes God is compelled to punish the wrong-doers and teach them a lesson. Our message to the world is also the same.”
They reached the shores of the southern point of the African continent. The albatross took leave of them.
Karimukha started its land journey. In the east and south there were mountains. One river called Orange river flowed from the eastern hills to Atlantic ocean. The people who were residing there were friendly to them. They spoke the African languages of Swahili and Zulu and there were of various tribes.
They warned Krishna and Balarama about black venomous cobras in those forests. The attack of the cobra will start with spitting a poisonous gas towards the eyes of the victim so that they are blinded. Then they will kill their prey.
As a remedy they gave them an anti-venom medicinal plant.
During their onward journey along orange river, they rested under the shade of a tree. A big ringal black cobra started its attack. Balarama readily applied the juice from the medicinal plant in the eyes of both. Then they noticed a mongoose chasing the cobra.. The serpent tried to bite the mongoose several times. But the mongoose smartly avoided the attack and successfully caught the cobra’s hood from the hind side. The cobra wriggled out from the strangle hold of mongoose and started flying. It hovered around Krishna and Balarama to attack. Krishna thought of Garuda.
Next minute Garuda appeared and caught hold of the snake in its claws. The cobra again slipped and fell on the ground and vanished into a bush. The mongoose which was readily waiting, pounced into the bush and caught hold of the snake. It put pressure on the neck of the snake with its legs and bit its head with its sharp teeth. Having killed the cobra it started eating it.
In the meantime the Zulu people who were watching this fight, hailed Krishna and Balarama. The appearance of mongoose and the sudden attack of the Garuda convinced them of their divinity. Krishna thanked them for their medicinal potion. They surrounded Krishna and Balarama and saluted them with their spears. The Zulus danced around them. Naradha arrived and shared their joy.
“If you go west there is only the Kalahari desert. Instead, go north towards the Zambezi river and you will come across a large variety of jungle life”, said the Zulus, and bid them farewell.