Mahaaprasthaana — The Story of Krishna’s Departure

Sampadananda Mishra
7 min readApr 3, 2024


[Inspired by the famous novel ‘Shyaam Fir Ek Baar Tum Mil Jaate’ by Dinkar Joshi ji, more than a decade before, I had written a play in Odia that was enacted at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. I had titled the play as ‘Mahaaprasthaana’ in Odia. This play had a tremendous impact on the spectators. I am feeling happy to present here a scene wise summery of the play along with a short ‘Introduction’.

My heartfelt gratitude to Dinkar Joshi ji for his marvelous novel which has left an indelible impact on me and has made me feel the living presence of Bhagavan Krishna.]


Mahaaprasthaana is an account of the last moments of Sri Krishna, and the immediate aftermath. It relates the different reactions and different impact it has on many of those who had known Krishna intimately. Jara, the hunter who accidentally killed Krishna, repents; Arjuna breaks down; Draupadi regrets of all that she spoke to Krishna on the last day of the Mahabharata war; Yudhisthira accepts the departure of Krishna and sees it as an indication of a time for the preparation of their final journey; Uddhava feels weighed down by the task he has been appointed, that is to inform Radha of this loss; Aswatthama feels that no curse would relieve him from the enormity of his crime except by surrendering at Krishna’s feet; and finally, Akrura is rueful and ashamed of his errors, and on hearing this sad and unbelievable news loses the will to live. Disappointment and grief is the general trend and all but one lament his loss, his departure from earthly life. But there is that one… the one who perhaps was always special, which is why a bond so deep was formed in the first place. Radha, whose love for Krishna is legendary and whose love was reciprocated as much by Krishna, forming the base for entire books of eternal love. However, it isn’t just love in the ordinary sense. It is a Divine Love and thus it is finally through Radha, that one realizes that Krishna’s departure is only a physical absence; in truth, He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. It is Radha who clears the mist from sorrowful eyes, reminding all that Krishna is Eternal, Ageless, Timeless and her own attitude of self-giving and self-consecration then acts as a balm for those who have yet to realize Krishna’s true form.

MAHAPRASTHANA — The Great Departure (A Play in Odia)

Scene One

One morning, a hunter by name of Jaraa, moves in the forest in search of animals. After a long search, finding one, he discharges his arrow. When he goes running happily towards the target he finds no animal but instead it is Sri Krishna whom he has shot. Prostrating at the feet of Krishna, Jaraa cries for forgiveness. But the all-merciful Lord was all smiles. He tells Jaraa not to be troubled by his deed and assures him that he has not sinned. Then Krishna speaks the following words to Jaraa:

“ Jara, soon I will leave this mortal body. You must be here and guard my body. Arjuna will pass by this way. Tell him that he should somehow send word to Radha in Gopapura that she should not wait for me any more.”

With these words Krishna breathes his last.

Scene Two

Arjuna is curious to know about what happened in Prabhaasa Kshetra. Daaruka, his charioteer, narrates why Krishna decided to take all the Yadavas to Prabhaasha Kshetra and allowed them to drink and dance freely. Krishna knew that in spite of all the restrictions in Dwaraka, the Yadavas continue drinking secretly. He had no choice but to take them to a place where they could drink and do whatever they wished. But by doing that, all the Yadavas became so drunk that they started quarreling and ended up by killing each other. Krishna watched this silently and when his own son Pradyumna was killed, he then collected a fistful of straw and blew it over the quarreling Yadavas. The straw took the shape of pestles and killed all the Yadavas.

Daaruka, while narrating this to Arjuna, sees a man come running from behind some road-side bushes. It was Jaraa, who was waiting for Arjuna, so as to pass on the message. Arjuna and Daaruka now come to know about the final departure of Krishna and his last words. All pay their final homage to Krishna.

Scene Three

On the way back to Hastinapura Arjuna meets Uddhava, who was on a pilgrimage. He passes on to him the news of Krishna’s departure, and requests him to carry the final message of Krishna to Radha in Gopapura. Uddhava agrees, and both of them go their own way.

Scene Four

Arjuna is back in Hastinapura. On meeting Yudhisthira, he grieves over Krishna’s final departure. Yudhisthira advises to accept this as an indication of the end of an Age; a sign which prepares them to get ready for the final journey.

Scene Five

For Draupadi, Krishna’s departure means a great loss. Arjuna tries to console her, but she is convinced that it is because of her that Krishna left. It becomes painful for her when she remembers all that she said to Krishna on the last day of the Mahabharata war. That day, with all her anger she commanded Bhima to bring the head of Aswatthama, who had just killed the sleeping sons and her brother. But Krishna stopped Bhima from doing so. Draupadi, without understanding Krishna’s plan, started blaming him. She thought it was Krishna who has done this through Aswatthama with the idea of making Subhdra’s grandson the king of Hastinapura. So she held Krishna responsible for this. But when the matter got settled in a very different way then she understood that Krishna had saved them from a great danger by not allowing Bhima to follow Aswatthama.

Now Draupadi repents her words. But Krishna is no more to forgive her. She, with tears beseeches Arjuna to take her to Krishna. But it is too late.

Scene Six

Aswatthama feels that to live for three thousand years with all his wounds and without food was not enough a curse for him for what he had done on the last day of the Mahabharata war. He never thought that one day he would meet Uddhava. On meeting him Aswatthama expresses his grief. He also discloses to Uddhava how once he had planned to take away the Sudarshana from Krishna and had wanted to kill him, but he could not succeed. All these thoughts are troubling him now, and he wants Uddhava to take him to Krishna so that he can surrender himself at his feet and beg for forgiveness. But Uddhava is helpless.

Scene Seven

The people of Mathura, generally speaking, hardly get any news of Krishna. Only when someone from Dwaraka comes there they come to know about him. That day, unexpectedly, finding Uddhava in Mathura, a young boy and an elderly man become happy and express their curiosity to know about Krishna. But it is not possible for Uddhava to say anything except, “Krishna has left his body”. As Uddhava wants to spend the night with any of the elderly Yadavas, he is taken to Akrura’s house.

Scene Eight

On hearing the news of Krishna’s departure Akrura has no desire to live even a day more. He repents for two incidents: the selfish motive with which he brought Krishna and Balarama to Kamsa; and the stealing of the precious Syamantaka gem. All this he narrates to Uddhava.

A meeting with Krishna might comfort him but Krishna is no more.

Last Scene

When Uddhava sees Radha in Gopapura, he feels as if Time has ceased to exist for Radha. He does not see any sign of change in her. He sees Radha as she was in her youth. Uddhava finds no sign of expectation in her eyes, yet he thinks: How can he pass on the news of Krishna’s departure? What will happen to Radha? Will she be able to bear it? Finally, somehow he manages to say it — “Radha, Krishna is no more”. On hearing this Radha bursts into laughter. How can one say Krishna is no more! How can one miss the omnipresent Lord! After Krishna left Gopapura Radha had not seen him physically even once. But there was not a single moment when she was not with Krishna. Radha remembers the last day of her meeting with Krishna. She had only tears in her eyes and Krishna had an enchanting smile on his face. Radha experienced a vastness of love pervading her entire being and she saw Krishna present in everything and everywhere.

As Radha narrates all this to Uddhava she forgets herself and enters into a blissful mood of communion with Krishna. Uddhava has no words to speak but to emerge in the vastness of Radha’s love for Krishna.

“May this love, this self-giving, this self-consecration of Radha, may all this pervade the entire universe and transform this world of miseries into a world of love, beauty, harmony and bliss, O Krishna.”

Uddhava bows down with reverence.

The end…



Sampadananda Mishra

Author, speaker and researcher on subjects related to Sanskrit, Indian Culture, Spirituality, Yoga and Education. SahityaAkademi and President of India Awardee.