The Shelter of Caves, Part 6


BY: SUN STAFF - 7.4 2017

King Mucukunda's Cave - Junagadh, Gujarat

A study of famous caves in ancient Bharat.

King Mucukunda's Cave

In the city of Junagadh, in the ancient Saurastra region of southwestern Gujarat, there is a temple famously associated with one of Sri Krsna's lila pastimes. Junagadh is located approximately 200 miles southeast of Dvaraka, and is the spot where Krsna defeated his enemy Kalyavan, with the assistance of King Mucukunda. Gujarati Vaisnavas glorify this pastime as part of their worship of Krsna as Sri Ranchod Rai -- the Lord after His departure from Mathura.

In ancient times, Junagadh was known by many names, including: Raivatachal, Raivatnagar, Revant, Manipur, Chandraketapur, Puratanpur, Pratappur, Narendrapur, Girinagar, Karan Kunj, Jirna Durg, and Mustafabad. The present name of Junagadh was given by the British Government in 1820 A.D. The Cave of Mucukunda (Muchkand) is very near to temples of Damodar and Revati. There are also traces of an ancient water-course nearby, and other historical monuments dating to 500 B.C.

Mucukunda was the son of King Mandhata, a ruler in the Ikshvaku dynasty (also known as the Suryavamsha). Some of the other important Ikshvaku kings include Harishchandra, Dileepa, Raghu and Sri Rama. (Mucukunda is an ancestor of Sri Rama.) He was an exemplary kshatriya, famous for many battles against the demons, as described in the Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva:

"For all ruthless deeds and for the protection of the people, from his (Brahmana's) arms was created the Kshatriya, who is to depend upon the prowess of his own arms. Listen, an instance is cited in this connection, that hath been heard by me from the aged. In days of yore, Vaisravana, having been gratified, made a gift of this Earth to the royal sage Mucukunda. The latter without accepting the gift, said, 'I desire to enjoy that sovereignty which is won by prowess of arms.' At this, Vaisravana was highly delighted and filled with wonder. King Mucukunda then, fully observing the duties of the Kshatriya order ruled this earth, having conquered it by the prowess of his arms." 

(Mahabharata - Udyoga Parva, Bhagwat Yana Parva, Section 133)

King Mucukunda fought many battles on behalf of the demigods, who were being tormented by the attacks of asuras. During one such battle, the demigods didn't have their own commander, so Mucukunda fought and protected them for a long time until finally, Shiva's son Kartikeya came to assume command.

After that epically long battle, King Mucukunda wanted nothing more than to sleep, without interruption, for a very long time. Lord Indra granted him the boon, that anyone who dared to disturb Mucukunda's sleep would immediately be burnt to ashes. Thus King Mucukunda chose a cave, and gratefully began his long rest.

Krsna watches Mucukunda Reduce Kalayavana to Ashes 

In the Summary of Srimad Bhagavatam 10.51 we find the story of Sri Krsna's fight with Kalayavana, which resulted in the waking of Mucukunda from his mystic slumber:

"After placing His family members safely within the Dvaraka fortress, Sri Krishna went out of Mathura. He appeared like the rising moon. Kalayavana saw that Krishna's brilliantly effulgent body matched Narada's description of the Lord, and thus the Yavana knew He was the Personality of Godhead. Seeing that the Lord carried no weapons, Kalayavana put his own weapons aside and ran toward Him from behind, wanting to fight with Him. Sri Krishna ran from the Yavana, staying just barely beyond Kalayavana's grasp at every step and eventually leading him a long distance toward a mountain cave. As Kalayavana ran, he hurled insults at the Lord, but he could not grasp Him, since his stock of impious karma was not yet depleted. Sri Krishna entered the cave, whereupon Kalayavana followed after Him and saw a man lying on the ground. Taking him for Sri Krishna, Kalayavana kicked him. The man had been sleeping for a very long time, and now, having been violently awakened, he looked around angrily in all directions and saw Kalayavana. The man stared harshly at him, igniting a fire in Kalayavana's body and in a moment burning him to ashes.

This extraordinary person was a son of Mandhata's named Mucukunda. He was devoted to brahminical culture and always true to his vow. Previously, he had spent many long years helping to protect the demigods from the demons. When the demigods had eventually obtained Karttikeya as their protector, they allowed Mucukunda to retire, offering him any boon other than liberation, which only Lord Vishnu can bestow. Mucukunda had chosen from the demigods the benediction of being covered by sleep, and thus since then he had been lying asleep within the cave.

Upon Kalayavana's immolation, Sri Krishna showed Himself to Mucukunda, who was struck with wonder at seeing Krishna's incomparable beauty. Mucukunda asked Lord Krishna who He was and also explained to the Lord his own identity. Mucukunda said, "After growing weary from remaining awake for a long time, I was enjoying my sleep here in this cave when some stranger disturbed me and, suffering the reaction of his sins, was burnt to ashes. O Lord, O vanquisher of all enemies, it is my great fortune that I now have the vision of Your beautiful form."

Lord Sri Krishna then told Mucukunda who He was and offered him a boon. The wise Mucukunda, understanding the futility of material life, asked only that he might be allowed to take shelter of Lord Sri Krishna's lotus feet." 

(Srimad Bhagavatam 10.51 Summary)

"Vishnu Appears to King Mucukunda in a Cave" 
Punjab Hills, c. 1769


When Mucukunda came out of the cave, he was astonished to see the size of various beings, because the size of all creatures had shrunken during the long period he had been asleep. A temple was erected at the site of Mucukunda's Cave, known as Mucukunda Mahadeva temple. The presiding deity is a Shivalinga. Also at the cave site is a Sri Krsna temple, said to have a Shivalinga established by Krsna Himself.

It is said that when Mucukunda left the cave he traveled north, to Gandamadana Mountain, and from there to Badrika Ashrama.

In Andhra Pradesh there is the Mucukunda River, also known as the Musi River. It is a tributary of the Krishna River in the Deccan Plateau, and flows through a major portion of Hyderabad, India, dividing the historic old city and the new city.

There is also a place in Rajasthan where Mucukunda is said to have meditated, near the village of Nagarfort, in the Tonk district. There is another Mucukunda Mahadeva temple here, said to have been built by King Mucukunda himself.