As I landed in Ahmedabad in 2003, I often used to be greeted by people saying ‘Jai Sri Krishna’. These two words are almost synonym with Gujarati gesture. Since then on daily basis, whether it is the cook at home or the office boy at office, to whom I meet for both the first and last time in a day I am greeted with ‘Jai Sri Krishna’.
I often wondered how ‘Jai Sri Krishna’ has been so integral to a Gujarati life. Is it because of the Bhakti Cult that has shaped the life of a considerable Gujarati middle class communities over last two centuries or it is because of Dwarka, one of the char dhams for Hindus that is located in Gujarat or it was Sri Krishna himself who had spent the last part of his life in Saurashtra.
In 2010 I shifted to Rajkot, a city in Saurashtra through an assignment as a teacher trainer with SN Kansagara School. It was a huge campus, filled with people, a considerable of whom were women ayahs, locally addressed as bens. In the school and throughout Saurashtra, the gesture of saying ‘Jai Sri Krishna’ is far spread compared to Ahmedabad. Of course Saurashtra is the land of Krishna as Dwarkadeesh temple is located here. According to legends, Sri Krishna also lived towards the end of his life here. But as I opened my eyes widely while tracing the secrets behind the gesture, my rational mind pondered at the geological history of the region.
Saurashtra is a land of cows and Sri Krishna was a cowboy God. Now one may ask why cows in Saurashtra are so well spread. To find an answer one has to travel back in time, much before humanity was born. It was Jurassic-Cretaceous Age, about 60-70 million years ago. The entire Saurashtra Plateau had been formed through a series of volcanic eruptions. Magma from the earth crust had flooded the surface of the region. As it cooled down and converted into ashes over million years it became a fertile ground for the natural growth of a variety of grass breeds, foods that sustains the live millions of cows.
The grass breeds, which have been the USP of Saurashtra’s pastoral economy, carry all the credit behind the gesture ‘Jai Sri Krishna’. The cowherd communities like Maldharis, Ahirs amongst others worship cow intensely as it is their lifeline. Sri Krishna as he was a cowboy God is therefore ranks high among all gods. And the gesture ‘Jai Sri Krishna’ marks an invisible tribute to Saurashtra’s geological event that shaped the landscape millions of years ago.