21. Black Panther

Then Krishna and Balarama continued their journey northwards. They crossed the dense equatorial forests and the mighty river Zaire flowing towards the Atlantic ocean.

They crossed many hamlets where people led a settled life. They were engaged in agriculture. There were fertile fields in which paddy, sugarcane and cereals were cultivated. In the forests rubber trees could be seen. The inhabitants were good hunters and artisans. They made canoes and boats and used them as transport vehicles in the water.

Then they turned west and reached the area where there was a river called NIGER. This river emanated from the north-west and flowed in a north-easterly direction along the southern springs of the great Sahara desert, turned south to join the Atlantic ocean. In that fertile river valley there were green fields of paddy and sugarcane. In the southern shores coconut and other palm trees were in plenty.

Krishna and Balarama stayed in some villages and mingled with the people. When they stayed in a village called Najagulla they participated in the hunting expeditions. These people were tall and well built. They were black in complexion. Their hair was curly. They wore bright clothes, with black, red, and yellow stripes or designs. They used spears, as well as bow and arrows.

“We saw in the colder regions white people and also according to the climate we saw yellow and brown people. In this hot region, people have become black”, remarked Balarama.

“My complexion is cloud-like and a little bluish. So these people are also my people!” smiled Krishna.

While travelling in the forests they saw lot of monkeys with different colours. They were wondering why there was diversity in colours.

The villagers explained the reasons: “In these deep forests there are very tall stately trees. These monkeys are adapted to living in various heights so that they don’t clash for food!”

The green monkeys are the inhabitants of the ground level. They eat fruits and other small creatures available here. Red monkeys are at the next level. They are accustomed to the food available between 20 and 35 feet on the trees. Blue monkeys live at the height of forty to seventy feet. Another type is heavenly! They live beyond seventy feet height.

Suddenly the monkeys shouted in their shrill voice. That was a warning cry. From a thick bush ,a wild boar came out with the piglets. A big black panther which was lying on the branch of a tree jumped over the boar and attacked. The wild boar was a sturdy one and it attacked the panther in defense. A ferocious battle took place. Krishna took Varaha Avathara (Lord Vishnu according to legends took the form of an wild boar and recovered the earth from a demon) to protect the mother boar and its children. The panther looked at the new entrant in the arena. Roused by greed to kill both boars, the panther fought fiercely. But it was no match to the size and power of Varaha. Ultimately the panther fell dead. The Varaha disappeared.

Krishna appeared again amidst the hunting people. Mother boar with her young ones looked at Krishna thankfully. The dead panther was lying under the tree.

Many boars from the bushes assembled there and danced around. The monkeys and the hunters also danced. Naradha appeared to participate in their victory.

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