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The killing of Kamsa

The holy purana Srimad-Bhagavatam tells the story of Krishna's appearance and activities in this world. Hindus all over the world celebrate the birth of Krishna, as it is described in these ancient scriptures.

Krishna was born in India five thousand years ago, in the middle of a tense historical period similar to the Cold War. When there were so many weapons that the burden on the earth became unbearable, the goddess of Earth took the form of a cow and prayed for relief. Lord Brahma called all the demigods to the shore of the Milk Ocean to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Vishnu, by reciting the Vedic hymns known as the Purusa-sukta. During the ritual Lord Brahma fell into samadhi (meditational trance) and heard the voice of Lord Vishnu. Then he announced, "O demigods, hear from me the words of God. He is already aware of the distress on Earth. He wants you demigods to incarnate as sons and daughters in the Yadu dynasty. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna, will personally appear as the son of Vasudeva. Therefore you will all have the benediction of joining the eternal pastimes of Lord Krishna."

Lord Brahma consoled the cow and sent her home, then returned to his planet, Brahmaloka. The demigods then began to take birth in the Yadu dynasty, awaiting the appearance of Lord Krishna. The descendants of the Yadu dynasty, headed by Vasudeva and Devaki, along with their friends, relatives and well- wishers were all demigods. The residents of Vrindavana, headed by King Nanda, Queen Yasoda and Queen Rohini, were also demigods.

King Kamsa was another relative in the family, however he was not a demigod. He had usurped the throne of his father, Ugrasena, and had locked his father up. When Devaki, a member of Ugrasena's family, married Vasudeva, she received a large dowry of elephants, horses, chariots and servants. After the wedding when the bride and groom were ready to leave, Kamsa took charge of the reins of the horses and became their chariot driver. Along the way, an unembodied voice addressed him: "You foolish king, the eighth son of your sister will kill you!"

Kamsa pulled Devaki down by her hair, drew his sword and prepared to kill her, but Vausdeva begged for his bride's life and promised that they would turn over the eighth child to Kamsa, so the oracle could not be fulfilled. Kamsa agreed to spare her life, but kept Vasudeva and Devaki in a stone prison. Thereafter, he mercilessly killed the first six sons of Devaki. Devaki's seventh son miscarried but mystically transferred to the womb of Queen Rohini in Vrindavana. This was Krishna's older brother, Balarama.

Krishna appeared at the stroke of midnight in His four-armed Vishnu form, dressed in silk and jewels, carrying the four weapons: the conch, disc, club and lotus. His parents prayed for Him to turn Himself into an ordinary baby so they could hide Him from Kamsa. The Lord advised Vasudeva to take him to Vrindavana and exchange him with a girl that had just been born there. Then He turned Himself into a baby.

Magically, the guards in Kamsa's prison fell asleep, and all the iron shackles, chains and locks automatically opened. Without questioning this, Vasudeva took the child and departed for Vrindavana. Like the story of Moses, the story of Krishna also includes a parting of the waters, when Vasudeva carried Krishna across the Jamuna River to Vrindavana. When Vasudeva reached the house of Nanda, all the cowherds were asleep. Thus he placed his own son on the bed of Yasoda, picked up her newborn girl and returned to the prison of Kamsa.

There was a chance Kamsa would spare the child because the omen said it would be a son that would kill him. Devaki pleaded with him, but Kamsa pulled the baby girl from her arms and tried to dash her against a stone. The girl slipped from his hands and rose above his head as the eight-armed form of Goddess Durga, dressed in fine garments and jewels. She said, "The enemy you contemplate is living somewhere else. You are a fool to hurt innocent children. Krishna will kill you."

Kamsa became remorseful and begged Devaki and Vasudeva to forgive him for his sins. He released them from their shackles and fell down on their feet, crying tears of regret. The next day, however, Kamsa's ministers advised him to retaliate by killing all newborn children in the region and by disrupting the lives of the demigods a nd saintly people.

Lord Krishna's Life in Vrindavana: When Yasoda and Nanda found Krishna as their son, they p erformed all the religious ceremonies in secret, to avoid Kamsa's wrath. The family astrologer, Gargamuni, told the family, "Your son Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He will protect you from Kamsa's persecutions, and by His grace only, you will surpass all difficulties. Therefore raise Him carefully, because many demons will try to attack him."

This warning proved true because throughout His childhood, Krishna fought Kamsa's demons, along with all the other demons and jealous and misguided demigods who approached Him.

Kamsa was prepared for Krishna's attack, for he knew from the beginning that He was to be the supreme cause of his death. He immediately unsheathed his sword and prepared to answer the challenge of Krishna with sword and shield. As Kamsa wielded his sword up and down, hither and thither, Lord Krishna, the supreme powerful Lord, caught hold of him with great force. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the shelter of the complete creation and from whose lotus navel the whole creation is manifested, immediately knocked the crown from the head of Kamsa and grabbed his long hair in His hand. He then dragged Kamsa from his seat to the wrestling dais and threw him down. Then Krishna straddled his chest and began to strike him over and over again. Simply from the strokes of His fist, Kamsa lost his vital force.

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