The Birth of Krishna – When Kamsa’s Worst Fears Came True

18 April 2024
5 mins read
The Birth of Krishna

Torrential rains accompanied by incessant thunder and lightning threatened to tear apart Mathura that dark, ferocious night. River Yamuna was bursting at the seams as her banks overflowed. The entire city of Mathura stayed indoors.  No one dared to face the wrath of nature.

The sounds of thunder drowned the screams of Devaki as she writhed in the agony of labour pains even as the prison chains rubbed against her skin turning it to a horrific scarlet colour. Finally, she gave birth to her eighth child. She passed out due to exhaustion without even glancing at her much-awaited child. Her harried husband, Vasudev, looked at his newborn son. His heart overflowed with love even as despair and hopelessness filled his mind with dread.

As Devaki passed out, miracles started to take place. Vasudev noticed the soldiers guarding the prison cell had all mysteriously swooned. The locks opened on their own. The chains that bound Vasudev’s hands and feet came free.

A voice in his head commanded him, “Put your son in a basket and go to the house of your friend, Nand Maharaj, the chieftain of Gokul. Exchange the baby girl born to him with your son. Place the baby girl in the same basket and bring her back here. Quick! Hurry!”

Vasudev followed the commands with irresolute faith. He knew and believed that the divine prophecy heard nearly nine years ago on the day of his wedding day would come true.

  • The prophecy that spelt disaster for one of the cruellest kings to rule Mathura, Kamsa!
  • The prophecy of the rightful killing of an unfaithful son who didn’t hesitate to unjustly imprison his own father to usurp the throne of Mathura!
  • The prophecy made Kamsa so scared that he stooped low enough to imprison his sister, Devaki, and her husband, Vasudev so that he could kill every child born to them immediately after birth, even though the divine voice said that only the eighth child, a son, was destined to kill him!

But Kamsa couldn’t fight against fate. Because fate is made by one’s own karma. No man can win against the effects of his own karma because he makes them himself.

The time to topple Kamsa’s overflowing pot of bad karma was nearing. But the person who would end Kamsa’s cruel streak had to be kept safe until he came of age. And that is what Vasudev was getting ready to do.

Following the commands of the divine voice, Vasudev wrapped his newborn son securely, placed him in the basket, and carried the basket on his head. He stepped out of his cell guardedly worrying that the sounds of his steps would wake the sleeping soldiers.

But nothing like that happened. He walked out of his prison cell and took the road to the banks of the swelling Yamuna. As if by magic, as Vasudev put his foot in the water, he felt the firm earth under him. The river was magically shallow only on the path he was taking. A distant observer would’ve marvelled at the sight of a man who seemed to be walking on water.

Soon he reached the other bank of Yamuna and followed the road leading to his friend and the chieftain of Gokul, Nand Maharaj’s house. Nand was already waiting for him outside his house. The divine voice had reached out to him also. They nodded wordlessly at each other as Nand beckoned Vasudev to enter and led him to his wife, Yashoda’s room.

There, a strange sight welcomed the two men. Like Devaki, Yashoda had passed out after a complicated labour, and a beautiful baby girl was lying next to her, gurgling happily in anticipation of an exciting event. As ordered by the voice, Vasudev and Nand exchanged the two babies.

With Yashoda’s baby girl safely tucked in the basket, the two men came out where they were met with another strange sight. A huge multi-headed snake waited patiently for Vasudev to start walking ahead so that it could follow him using his gigantic hood to keep the baby and the basket safe from the torrential rains. Now, Vasudev understood how his son remained dry despite walking for hours in the pouring rain.

With a wordless goodbye nod to Nand, Vasudev left Gokul and took the route back to his prison cell in Mathura. As soon as he placed the baby girl next to Devaki, the locks were back on the doors, Vasudev and Devaki’s shackles were back in place, and the guards awoke from their mysterious slumber.

The baby girl bawled so loudly that her screams reached Kamsa’s ears and he woke up in a terrible fright. Word got to him that Devaki had delivered her eighth child, a baby girl, and not a boy as the voice prophesied nine years ago.

Kamsa had mixed feelings. He was elated at the comforting thought that the prophecy could be wrong. But a niggling doubt persisted at the back of his troubled mind. He decided to kill this newborn too. No sane man would take chances with death, he told himself.

He bounded quickly to the prison cell where he kept his sister and brother-in-law imprisoned since the day of that wretched prophecy. He promised himself one good deed; he would release the noble couple as soon as he completed the eighth and last dastardly act of killing an innocent newborn.

Devaki pleaded with her brother. “She’s a little girl. What harm can she do? Please spare the innocent one!” It was a similar plea that greeted Kamsa the previous seven times. He ignored his sister now as he had done seven times earlier.

He grabbed the baby by her legs and was just about to smash her head against the stone wall when a miracle happened. The baby effortlessly freed herself from Kamsa’s grasp and revealed her real identity, a goddess riding a lioness who had only come to repeat the sinister warning of Kamsa’s impending death at the hands of Devaki’s eighth child.

The king of Mathura trembled in fear as the divine voice of the goddess echoed throughout the city, ” You are an arrogant fool, Kamsa. You thought you could escape the fate of your karma by killing innocent children! Your nemesis is safe and sound. He will come when the time is ripe to destroy you.”

So saying, the goddess disappeared, leaving behind a few smiling hope-filled faces, and a few faces filled with dread.  For the first time in nearly nine years, Devaki had a smile on her face. She steeled herself to spend the next few lonely years waiting for the wonderful day of reuniting with her son.

On the other bank of the Yamuna, Yashoda opened her eyes to see the delightfully smiling face of Krishna lying next to her. Her heart seemed to burst with happiness at the sight of this beautiful baby. And yet, something stirred within her.

She looked at her husband, Nand, and asked him, “But I thought I had a baby girl. I had a glimpse of her before I passed out.”

Her husband gave Yashoda a meaningful look. “You are blessed to be the Chosen One, the mother of Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe.” She looked back at the dark-skinned, handsome baby boy staring unblinkingly at her. He cooed happily at her uncertain face. Yashoda was smitten!

Two mothers’ conflicting anticipations marked the birth of Krishna; the one at Mathura waiting in hope for the day to reunite with her son, and the other at Gokul waiting with dread for the day when she will be separated from her son!

Yashoda knew deep in her heart that the day she would be separated from this splendid son was just a few years away. She decided she would make every moment of her time with her Krishna count!

Photo created using Bing!

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