A popular Hindu story relates that on a stormy night when the Yamunā River was flooded, Vāsudeva escaped from prison and saved the life of his newly born child, Krishna. Although Vāsudeva is interpreted as a patronymic word for Krishna, the cult of Vāsudeva is not the same as the cult of Krishna.
For instance, the former has no association with Krishna’s romance with Rādhā and gopīs. The early cult of Vāsudeva was popular in India around the 1st century BCE, when not only Hindus but also foreigners, such as the Greek ambassador Heliodorus, were accepted as devotees of the Vaishnava deity.
The Greek ambassador erected a pillar in Beshnagar in honour of the deity. The pillar is still standing in situ, but the image of Garuda surmounted on the pillar is missing. This is actually one of the earliest Hindu monuments to have survived.
In the Mahabharata and Amarakośa, Vāsudeva has an interesting epithet Ānakadundubhi ‘A Drum called Ānaka’. According to the epic, this name was given to him at his birth because the gods, foreseeing that Vishnu would take a human form in his family, sounded the heavenly drum Ānaka for joy. This Hindu story, however, does not explain the significance of Ānakadundubhi in the Buddhist Jātaka story and its association with the much earlier Vedic belief that the sound of the thunder is the sound of the celestial cloud drum.
Jātaka 2.344 tells that Ānakadundubhi was made of a golden crab’s claws. When this divine crab died, asuras made the cloud drum, ālambaradundubhi, out of a claw, whereas the Daśārha warriors of the earth made the Ānaka drum out of the other claw.
There was prosperity in the kingdom of the Daśārha because the sound of the Ānaka drum could make rain. Keeping the tradition of the hibernation culture of their earlier homeland, Vedic priests continued the custom of beating the drum in the Mahāvrata ritual performed ‘at the winter solstice, for the purpose driving away influences hostile to the return of sun’ (Mcdonell & Keith, vol. I, 1967, 368) even though in most of the Subcontinent, one does not need to worry about the return of the sun.