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The Advent of Lord Krishna
Once the world was overburdened by the unnecessary defense force of different kings, who were actually demons but were posing themselves as the royal order. At that time, the whole world became perturbed, and the predominating deity of this earth, known as Bhumi, went to see Lord Brahma to tell of her calamities due to the demoniac kings. Bhumi assumed the shape of a cow and presented herself before Lord Brahma with tears in her eyes. She was bereaved and was weeping just to invoke the lord’s compassion. She related the calamitous position of the earth, and after hearing this, Lord Brahma became much aggrieved, and he at once started for the ocean of milk, where Lord Vishnu resides. Lord Brahma was accompanied by all the demigods headed by Lord Siva, and Bhumi also followed. Arriving on the shore of the milk ocean, Lord Brahma began to pacify Lord Vishnu, who formerly saved the earthly planet by assuming the transcendental form of a boar.
In the Vedic mantras, there is a particular type of prayer called Purusha-sukta. Generally, the demigods offer their obeisances unto Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by chanting the Purusha-sukta. It is understood herein that the predominat nds of cows in charity to the brahmanas. According to the Vedic system, whenever there is an auspicious ceremony in the kshatriya king’s palace, out of joy the king gives many things in charity. Cows decorated with golden ornaments are delivered to the brahmanas and sages. Vasudeva wanted to perform a charitable ceremony to celebrate Krishna’s appearance, but because he was shackled within the walls of Kamsa’s prison, this was not possible. Instead, within his mind he gave thousands of cows to the brahmanas.
When Vasudeva was convinced that the newborn child was the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, he bowed down with folded hands and began to offer Him prayers. At that time Vasudeva was in the transcendental position, and he became completely free from all fear of Kamsa. The newborn baby was also flashing His effulgence within the room in which He appeared.
Vasudeva then began to offer his prayers. “My dear Lord, I can understand who You are. You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Supersoul of all living entities and the Absolute Truth. You have appeared in Your own eternal form, which is directly perceived by us. I understand that because I am afraid of Kamsa You have appeared just to deliver me from that fear. You do not belong to this material world; You are the same person who brings about the cosmic manifestation simply by glancing over material nature.”
One may argue that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who creates the whole cosmic manifestation simply by His glance, cannot come within the womb of Devaki, the wife of Vasudeva. To eradicate this argument, Vasudeva said, “My dear Lord, it is not a very wonderful thing that You have appeared within the womb of Devaki, because the creation was also made in that way. You were lying in the Causal Ocean as Maha-Vishnu, and by Your breathing process, innumerable universes came into existence. Then You entered into each of the universes as Garbhodakasayi Vishnu. Then again You expanded Yourself as Kshirodakasayi Vishnu and entered into the hearts of all living entities and entered even within the atoms. Therefore Your entrance into the womb of Devaki is understandable in the same way. You appear to have entered, but You are simultaneously all-pervading. We can understand Your entrance and nonentrance from material examples. The total material energy remains intact even after being divided into sixteen elements. The material body is nothing but the combination of the five gross elements—namely earth, water, fire, air and ether. Whenever there is a material body, it appears that such elements are newly created, but actually the elements are always existing outside of the body. Similarly, although You have appeared as a child in the womb of Devaki, You are also existing outside. You are always in Your abode, but still You can simultaneously expand Yourself into millions of forms.
“One has to understand Your appearance with great intelligence because the material energy is also emanating from You. You are the original source of the material energy, just as the sun is the source of the sunshine. The sunshine cannot cover the sun globe, nor can the material energy—being an emanation from You—cover You. You appear to be in the three modes of material energy, but actually the three modes of material energy cannot cover You. This is understood by the highly intellectual philosophers. In other words, although You appear to be within the material energy, You are never covered by it.”
We hear from the Vedic version that the Supreme Brahman exhibits His effulgence and therefore everything becomes illuminated. We can understand from the Brahma-samhita that the brahmajyoti, or the Brahman effulgence, emanates from the body of the Supreme Lord. And from the Brahman effulgence, all creation takes place. It is also stated in the Bhagavad-gita that the Lord is the support of the Brahman effulgence. Therefore, originally He is the root cause of everything. But persons who are less intelligent think that when the Supreme Personality of Godhead comes within this material world, He accepts the material qualities. Such conclusions are not very mature but are made by the less intelligent.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is directly and indirectly existing everywhere; He is outside this material creation, and He is also within it. He is within this material creation not only as Garbhodakasayi Vishnu; He is also within the atom. The existence of the atom is due to His presence. Nothing can be separated from His existence. In the Vedic injunctions we find that the Supreme Soul, or the root cause of everything, has to be searched out because nothing exists independently of the Supreme Soul. Therefore the material manifestation is also a transformation of His potency. Both inert matter and the living force—the soul—are emanations from Him. Only the foolish conclude that when the Supreme Lord appears He accepts the conditions of matter. Even if He appears to have accepted the material body, He is still not subjected to any material condition. Krishna has therefore appeared and defeated all imperfect conclusions about the appearance and disappearance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
“My Lord, Your appearance, existence and disappearance are beyond the influence of the material qualities. Because Your Lordship is the Supreme Brahman and the controller of everything, there is nothing inconceivable or contradictory in You. As You have said, material nature works under Your superintendence, just like a government officer working under the orders of the chief executive. The influence of subordinate activities cannot affect You. Since You are the Supreme Brahman, everything is existing within You, and since all the activities of material nature are controlled by Your Lordship, none of these activities affect You.
“You are called suklam. Suklam, or “whiteness,’ is the symbolic representation of the Absolute Truth because it is unaffected by the material qualities. Lord Brahma is called rakta, or red, because Brahma represents the quality of passion for creation. Darkness is entrusted to Lord Siva because he annihilates the cosmos. The creation, annihilation and maintenance of this cosmic manifestation are conducted by Your potencies, yet You are always unaffected by those qualities. As confirmed in the Vedas, harir hi nirgunah sakshat: the Supreme Personality of Godhead is always free from all material qualities. It is also said that the qualities of passion and ignorance are nonexistent in the person of the Supreme Lord.
“My Lord, You are the supreme controller, the Personality of Godhead, the supreme great, maintaining the order of this cosmic manifestation. Yet in spite of Your being the supreme controller, You have so kindly appeared in my home. The purpose of Your appearance is to kill the followers of the demoniac rulers of the world, who are in the dress of royal princes but are actually demons. I am sure that You will kill all of them and their followers and soldiers.
“I understand that You have appeared in order to kill the uncivilized Kamsa and his followers. But knowing that You were to appear in order to kill him and his followers, he has already killed so many of Your predecessors, Your elder brothers. Now he is simply awaiting the news of Your birth. As soon as he hears about it, he will immediately appear with all kinds of weapons to kill You.”
“After many millions of years, when Lord Brahma comes to the end of his life, the annihilation of the cosmic manifestation takes place. At that time the five elements—namely earth, water, fire, air and ether—enter into the mahat-tattva. The mahat-tattva then enters, by the force of time, into the nonmanifested total material energy, the total material energy enters into the energetic pradhana, and the pradhana enters into You. Therefore after the annihilation of the whole cosmic manifestation, You alone remain with Your transcendental name, form, qualities and paraphernalia.
“My Lord, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You be-cause You are the director of the unmanifested total energy and the ultimate reservoir of the material nature. My Lord, the whole cosmic manifestation is under the influence of time, beginning from the moment up to the duration of the year. All act under Your direction. You are the original director of everything and the reservoir of all potent energies.
“All the conditioned souls are continually fleeing from one body to another and one planet to another, yet they do not get free from the onslaught of birth and death. But when one of these fearful living entities comes under the shelter of Your lotus feet, he can lie down without anxiety of being attacked by formidable death.” This statement by Devaki is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita by the Lord Himself. There the Lord says that even after traveling all over the universe, from Brahmaloka to Patalaloka, one cannot escape the attack of birth, death, disease and old age. But one who enters the kingdom of God, the Lord says, is never again obliged to come to the material world.
“Therefore, my Lord, I request You to save me from the cruel hands of the son of Ugrasena, Kamsa. I am praying to Your Lordship to please rescue me from this fearful condition because You are always ready to give protection to Your servitors.” The Lord has confirmed this statement in the Bhagavad-gita by assuring Arjuna, “You may declare to the world, My devotee shall never be vanquished.”
While thus praying to the Lord for rescue, mother Devaki nonetheless expressed her motherly affection: “I understand that this transcendental form is generally perceived in meditation by the great sages, but I am still afraid because as soon as Kamsa understands that You have appeared, he might harm You. So I request that for the time being You become invisible to our material eyes.” In other words, she requested the Lord to assume the form of an ordinary child. “My only cause of fear from my brother Kamsa is due to Your appearance. My Lord Madhusudana, Kamsa may not know that You are already born. Therefore I request You to conceal this four-armed form of Your Lordship, which holds the four symbols of Vishnu—namely the conchshell, the disc, the club and the lotus flower. My dear Lord, at the end of the annihilation of the cosmic manifestation, You put the whole universe within Your abdomen; still by Your unalloyed mercy You have appeared in my womb. I am surprised that You imitate the activities of ordinary human beings just to please Your devotee.”
On hearing the prayers of Devaki, the Lord replied, “My dear mother, in the millennium of Svayambhuva Manu, My father Vasudeva was living as one of the Prajapatis. His name at that time was Sutapa, and you were his wife named Prisni. At that time, when Lord Brahma was desiring to increase the population, he requested you to generate offspring. You controlled your senses and performed severe austerities. By practicing the breathing exercises of the yoga system, both you and your husband could tolerate all the influences of the material laws: the rainy season, the onslaught of the wind, and the scorching heat of the sunshine. You also executed all religious principles. In this way you were able to cleanse your heart and control the influences of material laws. In executing your austerity, you used to eat only the leaves of the trees which fell to the ground. Then with a steady mind and controlled sex drive, you worshiped Me, desiring some wonderful benediction from Me. Both of you practiced severe austerities for twelve thousand years by the calculation of the demigods. During that time, your mind was always absorbed in Me. When you were executing devotional service and always thinking of Me within your heart, I was very much pleased with you. O sinless mother, your heart is therefore always pure. At that time also I appeared before you in this form just to fulfill your desire, and I asked you to ask whatever you desired. At that time you wished to have Me born as your son. Although you saw Me personally, instead of asking for your complete liberation from material bondage, under the influence of My energy you asked Me to become your son.”
In other words, to appear in the material world the Lord selected His mother and father—namely Prisni and Sutapa, respectively. Whenever the Lord comes as a human being, He must have a mother and a father, so He selected Prisni and Sutapa perpetually as His mother and father. And on account of this, neither Prisni nor Sutapa could ask the Lord for liberation. Liberation is not so important as the transcendental loving service of the Lord. The Lord could have awarded Prisni and Sutapa immediate liberation, but He preferred to keep them within this material world for His different appearances, as will be explained in the following verses. On receiving the benediction from the Lord to become His father and mother, both Prisni and Sutapa retired from the activities of austerity and lived as husband and wife in order to beget a child who was the Supreme Lord Himself.
In due course of time Prisni became pregnant and gave birth to the child. The Lord spoke to Devaki and Vasudeva: “At that time My name was Prisnigarbha. In the next millennium you took birth as Aditi and Kasyapa, and I became your child of the name Upendra. At that time My form was just like a dwarf, and for this reason I was known as Vamanadeva. I gave you the benediction that I would take birth as your son three times. The first time I was known as Prisnigarbha, born of Prisni and Sutapa, the next birth I was Upendra, born of Aditi and Kasyapa, and now for the third time I am born as Krishna from you, Devaki and Vasudeva. I have appeared in this Vishnu form just to convince you that I am the same Supreme Personality of Godhead again taken birth. I could have appeared just like an ordinary child, but in that way you would not have believed that the Supreme Personality of Godhead had taken birth in your womb. My dear father and mother, you have therefore raised Me many times as your child, with great affection and love, and I am therefore very pleased and obliged to you. And I assure you that this time you shall go back home, back to Godhead, on account of your perfection in your mission. I know you are very concerned about Me and afraid of Kamsa. Therefore I order you to take Me immediately to Gokula and exchange Me with the daughter who has just been born to Yasoda.”
Having spoken thus to His father and mother, the Lord turned Himself into an ordinary child in their presence and remained silent.
Being ordered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva prepared to take his son from the delivery room, and exactly at that time, a daughter was born to Nanda and Yasoda. She was Yogamaya, the internal potency of the Lord. By the influence of this internal potency, Yogamaya, all the residents of Kamsa’s palace, especially the doorkeepers, were overwhelmed with deep sleep, and all the palace doors opened, although they were barred and shackled with iron chains. The night was very dark, but as soon as Vasudeva took Krishna on his lap and went out, he could see everything just as in the sunlight.
In the Caitanya-caritamrita it is said that Krishna is just like sunlight and that wherever there is Krishna, the illusory energy, which is compared to darkness, cannot remain. When Vasudeva was carrying Krishna, the darkness of the night disappeared. All the prison doors automatically opened. At the same time there was thunder in the sky and severe rainfall. While Vasudeva was carrying his son Krishna in the falling rain, Lord Sesha in the shape of a serpent spread His hood over the head of Vasudeva so that he would not be hampered by the rainfall. Vasudeva came onto the bank of the Yamuna and saw that the water of the Yamuna was roaring with waves and that the whole span was full of foam. Still, in that furious feature, the river gave passage to Vasudeva to cross, just as the great Indian Ocean gave a path to Lord Rama when He was bridging over the gulf. In this way Vasudeva crossed the river Yamuna. On the other side, he went to the place of Nanda Maharaja, situated in Gokula, where he saw that all the cowherd men were fast asleep. He took the opportunity of silently entering into the house of Yasoda, and without difficulty he exchanged his son with the baby girl newly born in the house of Yasoda. Then, after entering the house very silently and exchanging the boy with the girl, he returned to the prison of Kamsa and silently put the girl on the lap of Devaki. He again clamped the shackles on himself so that Kamsa could not recognize that so many things had happened.
Mother Yasoda understood that a child was born to her, but because she was very tired from the labor of childbirth, she was fast asleep. When she awoke, she could not remember whether she had given birth to a male or a female child.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Third Chapter of Krishna, “The Birth of Lord Krishna.CHAPTER FOUR
Kamsa Begins His Persecutions
After Vasudeva adjusted things as they had been before he carried Krishna to Gokula, and all the doors and gates became similarly closed, the gatekeepers awoke and heard the newborn child crying. Kamsa was waiting to hear the news of the child’s birth, and the gatekeepers immediately approached him and informed him that the child was born. At that time, Kamsa got up from his bed very quickly and exclaimed, “Now the cruel death of my life is born!” Kamsa became perplexed now that his death was approaching, and his hair scattered. Immediately he proceeded toward the place where the child was born.
Devaki, on seeing her brother approaching, prayed in a very meek attitude to Kamsa: “My dear brother, please do not kill this female child. I promise that this child will be the wife of your son; therefore don’t kill her. You are not to be killed by any female child. That was the prophecy. You are to be killed by a male child, so please do not kill her. My dear brother, you have killed so many of my children who were just born, shining as the sun. That is not your fault. You have been advised by demoniac friends to kill my children. But now I beg you to excuse this girl at least. Let her live as my daughter.”
Kamsa was so cruel that he did not listen to the pitiful prayers of his sister Devaki. He forcibly grabbed the newborn child to rebuke his sister and attempted to dash her on the stone mercilessly. This is a graphic example of a cruel demon who could sacrifice all relationships for the sake of personal gratification. But immediately the child slipped out of his hands, went up into the sky and appeared with eight arms as the younger sister of Vishnu. She was decorated with nice garments and flower garlands and ornaments; in her eight hands she held a bow, lance, arrows, sword, conchshell, disc, club and shield.
Seeing the appearance of the child (who was actually the goddess Durga), all the demigods from different planets like Siddhaloka, Caranaloka, Gandharvaloka, Apsaroloka, Kinnaraloka and Uragaloka presented her with various articles and began to offer their respective prayers. From above, the goddess addressed Kamsa: “You rascal, how can you kill me? The child who will kill you is already born before me somewhere within this world. Don’t be so cruel to your poor sister.” After this appearance, the goddess Durga became known by various names in various parts of the world.
After hearing these words, Kamsa became very much overwhelmed with fear. Out of pity, he immediately released Vasudeva and Devaki from the bondage of their shackles and very politely began to address them. He said, “My dear sister and brother-in-law, I have acted just like a demon in killing my own nephews—your children—and thereby I have given up all consideration of our intimate relationship. I do not know what will be the result of these envious acts of mine. Probably I shall be sent to the hell where killers of brahmanas go. I am surprised, however, that the celestial prophecy has not come true. False propaganda is not found only in human society. Now it appears that even the celestial denizens speak lies. Because I believed in the words of the celestial denizens, I have committed so many sins by killing the children of my sister. My dear Vasudeva and Devaki, you are both very great souls. I have nothing to instruct you, but still I request that you not be sorry for the death of your children. Every one of us is under the control of superior power, and that superior power does not allow us to remain together. We are bound to be separated from our friends and relatives in due course of time. But we must know for certain that even after the disappearance of the different material bodies, the soul remains intact eternally. For example, there are many pots made of earthly clay, and they are prepared and also broken. But in spite of this, the earth remains as it is perpetually. Similarly, the bodies of the soul under different conditions are made and destroyed, but the spirit soul remains eternally. So there is nothing to lament over. Everyone should understand that this material body is different from the spirit soul, and so long as one does not come to that understanding, he is sure to accept the processes of transmigration from one body to another. My dear sister Devaki, you are so gentle and kind. Please excuse me—don’t be aggrieved by the death of your children, which I have caused. Actually this was not done by me, because all these are predestined activities. One has to act according to the predestined plan, even unwillingly. People misunderstand that with the end of the body the self dies, or they think that one can kill another living entity. All these misconceptions oblige one to accept the conditions of material existence. In other words, as long as one is not firmly convinced of the eternality of the soul, one is subjected to the tribulation of being killer and killed. My dear sister Devaki and brother-in-law Vasudeva, kindly excuse the atrocities I have committed against you. I am very poor-hearted, and you are so great-hearted, so take compassion upon me and excuse me.”
While Kamsa was speaking to his brother-in-law and sister, tears flowed from his eyes, and he fell down at their feet. Believing the words of Durga-devi, whom he had tried to kill, Kamsa immediately released his brother-in-law and sister. He personally unlocked the iron shackles and very sympathetically showed his friendship for his family members.
When Devaki saw her brother so repentant, she also became pacified and forgot all his atrocious activities against her children. Vasudeva also, forgetting all past incidents, spoke smilingly with his brother-in-law. Vasudeva told Kamsa, “My dear fortunate brother-in-law, what you are saying about the material body and the soul is correct. Every living entity is born ignorant, misunderstanding this material body to be his self. This conception of life is due to ignorance, and on the basis of this ignorance we create enmity or friendship. Lamentation, jubilation, fearfulness, envy, greed, illusion and madness are different features of our material concept of life. A person influenced like this engages in enmity due only to the material body. Being engaged in such activities, we forget our eternal relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
Vasudeva took the opportunity of Kamsa’s benevolence and informed him that his atheistic activities were also due to this misconception of life—namely taking the material body to be the self. When Vasudeva talked with Kamsa in such an illuminating way, Kamsa became very much pleased, and his guilt for killing his nephews subsided. With the permission of his sister Devaki and brother-in-law Vasudeva, he returned to his home with a relieved mind.
But the next day Kamsa called all his counselors together and narrated to them all the incidents that had happened the night before. All the counselors of Kamsa were demons and eternal enemies of the demigods, so they became depressed upon hearing their master speak of the night’s events. And although they were not very much experienced or learned, they began to give instructions to Kamsa as follows: “Dear sir, let us now make arrangements to kill all children who were born within the last ten days in all towns, counties, villages and pasturing grounds. Let us execute this plan indiscriminately. We think that the demigods cannot do anything against us if we perform these atrocities. They are always afraid of fighting with us, and even if they wish to check our activities, they will not dare to do so. Because of your immeasurable strength, they fear your bow. Indeed, we have practical experience that whenever you stood to fight with them and began to shower your arrows on them, they immediately fled in all directions just to save their lives. Many of the demigods were unable to fight with you, and they immediately surrendered themselves unto you by loosening their turbans and the tufts of hair on their heads. With folded hands they begged you to spare them and said, “My lord, we are all afraid of your strength. Please release us from this dangerous fight.’ We have also seen many times that you would never kill such surrendered fighters when they were all fearful, their bows, arrows and chariots broken, forgetful of their military activities and unable to fight with you. So actually we have nothing to fear from these demigods. They are very proud of being great fighters in peacetime outside the war field, but actually they cannot show any talent or military power on the war field. Although Lord Vishnu, Lord Siva and Lord Brahma are always ready to help the demigods, headed by Indra, we have no reason to be afraid of them. As far as Lord Vishnu is concerned, He has already hidden Himself within the hearts of all living entities, and He cannot come out. As far as Lord Siva is concerned, he has renounced all activities; he has already entered into the forest. And Lord Brahma is always engaged in different types of austerities and meditation. And what to speak of Indra—he is a straw in comparison to your strength. Therefore we have nothing to fear from any of these demigods. But we must not neglect them, for the demigods are our determined enemies. We must be careful to protect ourselves. To root them out from their very existence, we should just engage ourselves in your service and be always ready for your command.”
“Actually the limbs of the transcendental body of Lord Vishnu are the brahmanas, the cows, Vedic knowledge, austerity, truthfulness, sense and mind control, faithfulness, charity, tolerance and performance of sacrifices. Lord Vishnu is situated in everyone’s heart and is the leader of all demigods, including Lord Siva and Lord Brahma. Therefore we think that to persecute the great sages and brahmanas is to kill Lord Vishnu.”
Thus being advised by his demoniac ministers, Kamsa, who was from the very beginning the greatest rascal, decided to persecute the brahmanas and Vaishnavas, being entrapped by the shackles of all-devouring, eternal time. He ordered the demons to harass all kinds of saintly persons, and then he entered his house. The adherents of Kamsa were all influenced by the mode of passion as well as illusioned by the mode of ignorance, and their only business was to create enmity with saintly persons. Such activities can only reduce one’s duration of life. The demons accelerated the process and invited their deaths as soon as possible. The result of persecuting saintly persons is not only untimely death. The act is so offensive that the perpetrator also gradually loses his beauty, his fame and his religious principles, and thus his promotion to higher planets is checked. Driven by various kinds of mental concoctions, the demons diminish all kinds of auspiciousness. An offense at the lotus feet of the devotees and brahmanas is a greater offense than that committed at the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. A civilization that commits such sinful activities generally loses all faith in the Supreme Lord, and such a godless civilization becomes the source of all calamities in human society.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Fourth Chapter of Krishna, “Kamsa Begins His Persecutions.”
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