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The Man with 1,000 Krishnas

By Kimmy Singhani; For the Clock
On February 23, 2018

The Man with 1,000 Krishnas

Kimmy Singhani

For the Clock

Jodha S., at the age of 89, lived in a small apartment in Pune, India, with his nephew, Raja. His life was filled with many people and while he was mostly by himself, he was not alone. His life was filled with the presence of Krishna. Just as his room was covered with over 1,000 images and idols of Krishna.

Krishna is one of the many incarnations of Lord Rama from the Mahabharata in Indian mythology. In some areas of India, he is depicted to have blue skin. Krishna is famous for playing the flute and always stealing and eating butter.

Jodha’s love for Krishna was not always present. Actually, his wife Sheila, whom he was very much in love with, was a devoutee of Lord Krishna. Sheila had even made a shrine for Lord Krishna and often prayed to Him while Jodha was at work. But Jodha was unaware of her shrine to Krishna, as she did not want Jodha to feel as if her love was divided. She wanted Jodha to know that she loved him with all her heart, and so she hid the shrine. Jodha did not even know about her devotion to Krishna until after her death when he opened their cupboard and found her shrine.

On the 13th of July, 2004, after 50 dedicated years of marriage, Jodha’s wife passed away. This moment was the catalyst that brought Krishna in his life. When Jodha had just returned from the hospital, where his wife had passed away, there was a knock on the door. There was a man at the door asking for Sheila. The man was a social worker, named Murli, who met Sheila a week prior at Sadhu Vaswani Mission, a community where Jodha’s family’s faith lies. Murli had brought a calendar with photos of Krishna to work and Sheila liked it so much that she asked him if he could get her one. At the door, Murli explained that he was there to deliver the calendar to Sheila. But sadly, it was too late to give it to her so he left it with Jodha to keep anyway. Jodha took that image of Krishna and pasted it on his fridge. That was the first Krishna that came in his possession, aside from the shrine that his wife had kept hidden. When Jodha’s maid heard this story, she was so touched that she got him another picture of Krishna and put it on the fridge, below the first one.

These were the first two Krishnas of his collection. Interestingly, all the Krishnas in his collection are not actually his. Every image or idol has been gifted to him or kept by him if nobody claimed it. In fact, whenever his close friends and relatives came to visit, they would bring a form of Krishna to give to Jodha. He even received painted depictions of Krishna from his neighbor’s daughter. He never bought a single Krishna to contribute to his ever growing collection.

At first, he felt indifferent towards the Krishnas he received. He simply welcomed them into his home. But as more people brought Krishnas for Jodha, he continued to hang them around his room, and thus finally grew to love Him. Jodha became so devoted, that he felt as if he was married to Krishna; that Krishna was Jodha’s husband and he was Krishna’s wife. Jodha mentioned that when he dies, he will be united with Krishna in Heaven. He felt that his death anniversary would be his marriage anniversary to Krishna when he finally gets to be with his love.

When I asked him what he will do when he runs out of space for his Krishnas, he simply laughed and said, “As long as I’m alive, I’ll find some space.” I laughed along and he continued, “I’ll post it on the ceiling if at all necessary. So that when I’m sleeping, I can look at them!”

Upon asking, “What is the most interesting Krishna you have received?”, Jodha responded by saying, “All the Krishnas are interesting. They are all interesting for me. There is no difference.” Pausing for a moment, Jodha mentioned his favorite Krishna, however, is the image of Krishna hugging a cow. He loved that image because whenever Jodha saw it, he felt as if he was the cow and Krishna was hugging him. He kept that image closest to him on the wall behind his bed for comfort. He assured me that he loved all the Krishnas he had, but he loved that particular image the most because he wanted Krishna to hug him the same way He was hugging the cow.

Krishna helped Jodha’s life in many ways. He felt that ever since Krishna came into his life, he learned to love everybody. Jodha said, “Since I started to love Krishna, I now keep on loving anybody. Anybody who comes around. I think Krishna is in him.” When asked about how Krishna helped during the time of his wife’s passing, he went on to say that his love has opened from her. He directed our attention to the desk beside his bed, showing us a picture of his late wife and the surrounding Krishnas near her and said, “She is Krishna for me”.

While taking a short break for Jodha to walk around, he led me to his small kitchen where he kept bird feed. He opened the window (where there were some more pictures of Krishna hung up) and opened the jar to feed the birds. Along with leaving food for the birds daily, Jodha also gave as much as he could by volunteering at least once every week at many different organizations, serving in the name of Krishna. All the service he did was in the name of Krishna, he told me.

Not only was he always volunteering or contributing towards social service, but he was naturally a giving person. In his room, he kept a jar filled with a variety of candies for people that came to visit him. He also carried multiple with him to hand out to people or children wherever he went. He became well-known for always carrying candy, especially at the Mission and befriended many children this way. He enjoyed this simple act of kindness and divulged in it quite often.

After the break, he continued to share some stories of when he felt Krishna was looking out for him. And moments where he felt that Krishna was the miracle that saved him. He mentioned the pocket sized picture of Krishna that he keeps with him in his shirt pocket at all times. “I never leave anywhere without it.”, he said.

Finally, the last question asked was, “What do you want this Krishna legacy to be after you pass away? How do you want this to be remembered?”

Jodha was not too worried about what the future will hold regarding his Krishnas. He did not care what hap- pened to the Krishnas in his room. He said, “As I’m alive, I am seeing these photos but when I die, I’ll be with him. Let them do anything. I’m not worried because I’ll be with him.”

With every pause and even after I finished asking all my questions, Jodha continued to share stories relating to the many Krishnas he had in his possession. With over a thousand Krishnas in his room, he had many stories at his disposal and I am honored to have heard so many of them. As I was leaving, he called me back and held out for my hand. With trembling hands and a soft grip, he put my hand in his and said, “You are my Krishna. I love you,” before delicately hugging me.

Just recently, Jodha grew very ill. He became so unwell that he had to be admitted to the hospital. Everyone was hoping for a quick recovery, since he had been hospitalized shortly before. However, soon after, it was indicated that Jodha was not going to make it for long. He was on his deathbed. His children and grandchildren travelled, all from different places, to visit him in his weak state.

While I was being updated on his health, I was told stories about how the nurses tried to encourage Jodha to keep moving. They all knew about Jodha’s instinct to give people sweets so, with the intention of strengthening Jodha’s resolve, they would ask him for candy. He was very weak and, at this point, in a lot of pain and the nurses hoped the goal to deliver them candy would give him perseverance.

Hearing this story clenched my heart. He was in so much pain that he could not perform the simple task that makes himself and others happy. That was the moment it became clear that Jodha was living his last days.

Only a few days later, on October 6th, 2016, the world lost a kind hearted soul who loved bringing happiness to others. His death affected so many people just as his life touched so many hearts. But I believe that he is finally united with his two loves: Krishna and his wife, Sheila.

Hearing him disclose his stories and heartfelt emotions on Krishna, months before his passing, was truly overwhelming. His words filled my heart with absolute euphoria. His musings resonated deeply within me and I will forever treasure this mo-ment I shared with my grandfather.

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