Dvāpara era of four-fold cyclical theory of Socio-political and religious change observed in the ancient Indian history, mass exodus from Mathura to Dwārkā is an exemplary case of management of human resource and disciplined crowd. The then elite section of society not only denoted but connoted Śri Kṛśṇa with the derogatory word, “Ranchod” (who flees from battle Jarāsandha, the king of Magadha wanted to take revenge from Śri Kṛśṇa for, he has killed his son-in-law, Kansa.
He had attacked Mathura seventeen times and had damaged the city, mired growth, hampered normal peace, civic life and progress. Jarāsandha was defeated by Lord Kṛśṇa in all the seventeen attacks. In his eighteenth attack, Jarāsandha made alliances with friendly forces to exterminate Yadu community. Realizing the gravity of situation, Śri Kṛśṇa acted wisely and decided to migrate majority of inhabitants from Mathura to Dwārkā.
This was the straw that broke camel’s back and forced Lord Kṛśṇa to take immediate action for survival of his clan or be prepared to suffer major losses. Lord Kṛśṇa took a bold decision and migrated Yadu community to Dwārkā. He had no time to plan the migration and was forced to migrate with almost no preparatory time. It would have taken him over a month (considering distance and resources available) a long time to reach Dwārkā but he had organized the migration with a fore thought, detailed planning and meticulous execution.
Management of people, animals and bullock carts all along 800 miles was a grand feat in those days, and has a number of lessons for us to follow, especially in times of COVID-19 crisis when labour migration became a major management issue. Migration of labor from a number of states back to their native villages was an unprecedented move that Indian government was unprepared for and actions taken by the government have lessons from ancient Indian migration organized by Lord Kṛśṇa.
Some questions arise in the present context; What forced Kṛśṇa to migrate? Why did he select Dwārkā only and not any other city? How did he organize the migration? Time taken and overcoming major turbulence due to migration? Could the contemporary migration of labour have been better organized than what was witnessed and our lessons from Lord Kṛśṇa?
Migration Lessons from Study of Contemporary Migration with the One Organized by Lord Kṛśṇa
Reasons to Migrate
Primary reason was fear of King Jarāsandha attacking Mathura in alliance with Kala Yavana (the Mlecchha king), Emperor Damghosha of Chedi, king Dantavakra of Karusa, Rukmi of Vidarbha and Avnti brothers Vind and Anuvinda. The main aim of Jarāsandha was to completely destroy Mathura and kill Kṛśṇa and Balrām. Jarāsandha had offered to Yadavas to hand over both brothers Kṛśṇa and Balrām to him failing which he would destroy Mathura. Kṛśṇa sought help of Hastināpur but they also expressed inability to help, and hence, Kṛśṇa was left with no choice. In contemporary issue of migration of labour,
the fear of death and destruction was very strong; death either by COVID-19 or by hunger; as there was complete lockdown in the country and with no job, survival was difficult. Decision was to migrate with families and children added to misery of migrants. There was no transport and hence journey was on foot, cycle or rikshaws. Time and distance from Delhi (taken as one central location) was almost 1300 kilometres (800 miles) that Kṛśṇa moved. Though Kṛśṇa, being avatar of Lord Viśṇu, could have killed Jarāsandha but spared him to be later killed by Bhīma, a devotee of Lord Viśṇu.
Selection of Dwārkā as destination
Primary reason was to move to a safe place where Jarāsandha would not be able to reach. Northern and central Bharat was within reach of Jarāsandha, the Magadh emperor, and hence were vulnerable. South was a suitable area; Gomantaka mountain and king of Raivata of Ikṣavāku Vamsa were strong obstacles for Jarāsandha as compared to northern region. Sea on the west coast was invincible by Jarāsandha and hence Kṛśṇa planned to migrate to Kaushasthali which he later named as Dwārkā (Dwār meaning gate and kā meaning mokṣa i.e. gateway to mokṣa).
In present scenario, migrating labour moved from states like Maharashtra, Gujrat, Punjab, Delhi and others to their native places in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, etc. Last census by the government was conducted in 2011 that shows an existing and known pattern of migration within India that people undertake in search of jobs. But this was an unexpected and unique reverse migration due to unprecedented pandemic that created panic among labour and
temporary social instability in India. Timely assessment of situation and planning of movement could have prevented the circumstances becoming serious and masses moving on the streets. The state governments like UP and Bihar became active and started sending buses for their respective labour that the centre and Delhi governments also started helping. The situation took political, economic and social complex web and took longer to settle.
The migration plans
Lord Kṛśṇa had to migrate over night against will of Balrām, king Agrasen and many others. They all were ready to fight Jarāsandha and even prepared to die. But that was not acceptable to Kṛśṇa. He preferred his clan to migrate and survive. The move was majority on foot and in bullock carts. Mythology also says that Lord Kṛśṇa prayed and Bhu devī moved them overnight in their sleep to Kaushalsthali to which the author has reservations as it appears more of philosophical construct about the migration. Move of ladies, children and animals would have been slow, difficult and torturous. Kṛśṇa organized their stay enroute in Gomanatak mountains and with Raivata king. To that end, he even accepted marriage of princess Revati daughter of King Raivata with Balrām.
Resource management and controlling movement of the clan with the help of friendly kings ensured safety and well-being of his people. A contemporary analysis of labour migration during pandemic suggests that this movement was sudden and possibly administration was taken aback and had no plans in place at the outset for labour migrating from west to east. It was a graduated response
from government officials and plans were implemented as per the developing situation. Trains like Shramjivi Express were pressed into service much later. The dilemma of letting them migrate or stop all movements itself was not clear. Adhoc administrative arrangements were made by various districts’ administration, Non-government Organisations, and local people between Delhi and Lucknow and beyond to Patna.
The leadership during the migration of Yādavas was well defined; Lord Kṛśṇa was in charge and he along with his brother Balrām orchestrated entire journey. Kṛśṇa had his share of social, physical, economic threats before, during and post migration which he tackled through flexibility of thought and decisive in action. In contemporary migration of labour, there were number of leaders in the fray, each one with personal, social and national goals. Though the common aim was safety of the migrants but whether they should move or stay in respective locations itself was a major decision dilemma.
Meanwhile, the labour continued to travel, which posed leadership challenges at both state and centre level. Despite a sincere leader like Mr Narendra Modi being at the helm of affairs, the situation got out of control. The realization dawned much later when integrated and collective decisions were taken to use public transport for movement of the migrants. The democratic challenges could have been overcome if, civil administration had adapted a flexible style of collaborative leadership style. May be some political leaders could have risen to visionary and servant leadership levels, the situation would have been different.
The two cases of migration are far different in time zones, yuga zones, technology and almost in every other sense; some readers may even find it comparing apples with oranges, the fact still remains that people migrated and they suffered the agony of leadership crises and consequent physical, economic and psycho- socio predicaments. The datum shows that a huge number of men and women was humiliated, they became outcastes within their own nation. Empathy and physical support were
so much more needed during migration as compared to any other time in recent history. When the well to-do people in the society needed them, they enjoyed their at services but when that need was temporarily ended due to COVID-19; we did not look after them and they were forced to migrate back to their villages and towns. Once the realization dawned that these very people are the working force of India; measures were put in place to help them out. Gradually the situation eased out.
We needed a Kṛśṇa in present crisis who could have reduced their agony, if not fully overcome.
We have a charismatic leader who can impact the situation in future
–Brig JS Rajpurohit, Ph.D. Group Commander, Group HQ NCC, Gorakhpur (UP)