Sri Krsna Janmastami
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 Visnu 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 the Lord Visnu 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 Purusa-sukta. Generally, the demigods offer their obeisances unto Visnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by chanting the Purusa-sukta. It is understood herein that the predominating deity of every planet can see the supreme lord of this universe, Brahma, whenever there is some disturbance in his planet. And Brahma can approach the Supreme Lord Visnu, not by seeing Him directly, but by standing on the shore of the ocean of milk. There is a planet within this universe called Svetadvipa, and on that planet there is an ocean of milk. It is understood from various Vedic literatures that just as there is the ocean of salt water within this planet, there are various kinds of oceans in other planets. Somewhere there is an ocean of milk, somewhere there is an ocean of oil, and somewhere there is an ocean of liquor and many other types of oceans. Purusa-sukta is the standard prayer which the demigods recite to appease the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Ksirodakasayi-Visnu. Because He is lying on the ocean of milk, He is called Ksirodakasayi-Visnu. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, through whom all the incarnations within this universe appear.
After all the demigods offered the Purusa-sukta prayer to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they apparently heard no response. Then Lord Brahma personally sat in meditation, and there was a message-transmission from Lord Visnu to Brahma. Brahma then broadcast the message to the demigods. That is the system of receiving Vedic knowledge. The Vedic knowledge is received first by Brahma from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, through the medium of the heart. As stated in the beginning of Srimad-Bhagavatam, tene brahma hrda: the transcendental knowledge of the Vedas was transmitted to Lord Brahma through the heart. Here also, in the same way, only Brahma could understand the message transmitted by Lord Visnu, and he broadcast it to the demigods for their immediate action. The message was: The Supreme Personality of Godhead will appear on the earth very soon along with His supreme powerful potencies, and as long as He remains on the earth planet to execute His mission of annihilating the demons and establishing the devotees, the demigods should also remain there to assist Him. They should all immediately take birth in the family of the Yadu dynasty, wherein the Lord will also appear in due course of time.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, Krsna, personally appeared as the son of Vasudeva. Before He appeared, all the demigods, along with their wives, appeared in different pious families in the world just to assist the Lord in executing His mission. The exact word used here is tatpriyartham, which means the demigods should appear on the earth in order to please the Lord. In other words, any living entity who lives only to satisfy the Lord is a demigod. The demigods were further informed that the plenary portion of Lord Krsna, Ananta, who is maintaining the universal planets by extending His millions of hoods, would also appear on earth before Lord Krsna’s appearance. They were also informed that the external potency of Visnu (maya), with whom all the conditioned souls are enamored, would also appear just to execute the purpose of the Supreme Lord.
After instructing and pacifying all the demigods, as well as Bhumi, with sweet words, Lord Brahma, the father of all prajapatis, or progenitors of universal population, departed for his own abode, the highest material planet, called Brahmaloka.
The leader of the Yadu dynasty, King Surasena, was ruling over the country known as Mathura (the district of Mathura), as well as the district known as Surasena. On account of the rule of King Surasena, Mathura became the capital city of all the kings of the Yadus. Mathura was also made the capital of the kings of the Yadu dynasty because the Yadus were a very pious family and knew that Mathura is the place where Lord Sri Krsna lives eternally, just as He also lives in Dvaraka.
Once upon a time, Vasudeva, the son of Surasena, just after marrying Devaki, was going home on his chariot with his newly wedded wife. The father of Devaki, known as Devaka, had contributed a sufficient dowry because he was very affectionate toward his daughter. He had contributed hundreds of chariots completely decorated with gold equipment. At that time, Kamsa, the son of Ugrasena, in order to please his sister, Devaki, had voluntarily taken the reins of the horses of Vasudeva’s chariot and was driving. According to the custom of the Vedic civilization, when a girl is married, the brother takes the sister and brother-in-law to their home. Because the newly married girl may feel too much separation from her father’s family, the brother goes with her until she reaches her father-in-law’s house. The full dowry contributed by Devaka was as follows: 400 elephants fully decorated with golden garlands, 15,000 decorated horses, and 1800 chariots. He also arranged for 200 beautiful girls to follow his daughter. The ksatriya system of marriage, still current in India, dictates that when a ksatriya is married, a few dozen of the bride’s young girlfriends (in addition to the bride) go to the house of the king. The followers of the queen are called maidservants, but actually they act as friends of the queen. This practice is prevalent from time immemorial, traceable at least to the time before the advent of Lord Krsna 5,000 years ago. So Vasudeva brought home another 200 beautiful girls along with his wife.
While the bride and bridegroom were passing along on the chariot, there were different kinds of musical instruments playing to indicate the auspicious moment. There were conchshells, bugles, drums and kettledrums; combined together, they were vibrating a nice concert. The procession was passing very pleasingly, and Kamsa was driving the chariot, when suddenly there was a miraculous sound vibrated from the sky which especially announced to Kamsa: “Kamsa: you are such a fool. You are driving the chariot of your sister and your brother-in-law, but you do not know that the eighth child of this sister will kill you.”
Kamsa was the son of Ugrasena, of the Bhoja dynasty. It is said that Kamsa was the most demoniac of all the Bhoja dynasty kings. Immediately after hearing the prophecy from the sky, he caught hold of Devaki’s hair and was just about to kill her with his sword. Vasudeva was astonished at Kamsa’s behavior, and in order to pacify the cruel, shameless brother-in-law, he began to speak as follows, with great reason and evidence. He said, “My dear brother-in-law Kamsa, you are the most famous king of the Bhoja dynasty, and people know that you are the greatest warrior and a valiant king. How is it that you are so infuriated that you are prepared to kill a woman who is your own sister at this auspicious time of her marriage? Why should you be so much afraid of death? Death is already born along with your birth. From the very day you took your birth, you began to die. Suppose you are twenty-five years old; that means you have already died twenty-five years. Every moment, every second, you are dying. Why then should you be so much afraid of death? Final death is inevitable. You may die either today or in a hundred years; you cannot avoid death. Why should you be so much afraid? Actually, death means annihilation of the present body. As soon as the present body stops functioning and mixes with the five elements of material nature, the living entity within the body accepts another body, according to his present action and reaction. It is just as when a man walks on the street; he puts forward his foot, and when he is confident that his foot is situated on sound ground, he lifts the other foot. In this way, one after another, the body changes and the soul transmigrates. See how the plantworms change from one twig to another so carefully! Similarly, the living entity changes his body as soon as the higher authorities decide on his next body. As long as a living entity is conditioned within this material world, he must take material bodies one after another. His next particular body is offered by the laws of nature, according to the actions and reactions of this life.
“This body is exactly like one of the bodies which we always see in dreams. During our dream of sleep, we create so many bodies according to mental creation. We have seen gold and we have also seen a mountain, so in a dream we can see a golden mountain by combining the two ideas. Sometimes in dreams, we see that we have a body which is flying in the sky, and at that time we completely forget our present body. Similarly, these bodies are changing. When you have one body, you forget the past body. During a dream, we may make contact with so many new kinds of bodies, but when we are awake we forget them all. And actually these material bodies are the creations of our mental activities. But at the present moment we do not recollect our past bodies.
“The nature of the mind is flickering. Sometimes it accepts something, and immediately it rejects the same thing. Accepting and rejecting is the process of the mind in contact with the five objects of sense gratification: form, taste, smell, sound, and touch. In its speculative way, the mind comes in touch with the objects of sense gratification, and when the living entity desires a particular type of body, he gets it. Therefore, the body is an offering by the laws of material nature. The living entity accepts a body and comes out again into the material world to enjoy or suffer according to the construction of the body. Unless we have a particular type of body, we cannot enjoy or suffer according to our mental proclivities inherited from the previous life. The particular type of body is actually offered to us according to our mental condition at the time of death.
“The luminous planets like the sun, moon or the stars reflect themselves in different types of reservoirs, like water, oil or ghee. The reflection moves according to the movement of the reservoir. The reflection of the moon is on the water, and the moving water makes the moon also appear to be moving, but actually the moon is not moving. Similarly, by mental concoction, the living entity attains different kinds of bodies, although actually he has no connection with such bodies. But on account of illusion, being enchanted by the influence of maya, the living entity thinks that he belongs to a particular type of body. That is the way of conditioned life. Suppose a living entity is now in a human form of body. He thinks that he belongs to the human community, or a particular country or particular place. He identifies himself in that way and unnecessarily prepares for another body which is not required by him. Such desires and mental concoctions are the cause of different types of body. The covering influence of material nature is so strong that the living entity is satisfied in whatever body he gets, and he identifies with that body with great pleasure. Therefore, I beg to request you not to be overwhelmed by the dictation of your mind and body.”
Vasudeva thus requested Kamsa not to be envious of his newly married sister. One should not be envious of anyone, because envy is the cause of fear both in this world and in the next when one is before Yamaraja (the lord of punishment after death). Vasudeva appealed to Kamsa on behalf of Devaki, stating that she was his younger sister. He also appealed at an auspicious moment, at the time of marriage. A younger sister or brother is supposed to be protected as one’s children. “The position is overall so delicate,” Vasudeva reasoned, “that if you kill her, it will go against your high reputation.”
Vasudeva tried to pacify Kamsa by good instruction as well as by philosophical discrimination, but Kamsa was not to be pacified because his association was demoniac. Because of his demoniac associations, he was always a demon, although born in a very high royal family. A demon never cares for any good instruction. He is just like a determined thief; one can give him moral instruction, but it will not be effective. Similarly, those who are demoniac or atheistic by nature can hardly assimilate any good instruction, however authorized it may be. That is the difference between demigod and demon. Those who can accept good instruction and try to live their lives in that way are called demigods, and those who are unable to take such good instruction are called demons. Failing in his attempt to pacify Kamsa, Vasudeva wondered how he would protect his wife Devaki. When there is imminent danger, an intelligent person should try to avoid the dangerous position as far as possible. But if, in spite of endeavoring by all intelligence, one fails to avoid the dangerous position, there is no fault on his part. One should try his best to execute his duties, but if the attempt fails, he is not at fault.
Vasudeva thought of his wife as follows: “For the present let me save the life of Devaki, then later on, if there are children, I shall see how to save them.” He further thought, “If in the future I get a child who can kill Kamsa–just as Kamsa is thinking–then both Devaki and the child will be saved because the law of Providence is inconceivable. But now, some way or other, let me save the life of Devaki.”
There is no certainty how a living entity contacts a certain type of body, just as there is no certainty how the blazing fire comes in contact with a certain type of wood in the forest. When there is a forest fire, it is experienced that the blazing fire sometimes leaps over one tree and catches another by the influence of the wind. Similarly, a living entity may be very careful and fearful in the matter of executing his duties, but it is still very difficult for him to know what type of body he is going to get in the next life. Maharaja Bharata was very faithfully executing the duties of self-realization, but by chance he contacted temporary affection for a deer, and he had to accept his next life in the body of a deer.
Vasudeva, after deliberating on how to save his wife, began to speak to Kamsa with great respect, although Kamsa was the most sinful man. Sometimes it happens that a most virtuous person like Vasudeva has to flatter a person like Kamsa, a most vicious person. That is the way of all diplomatic transactions. Although Vasudeva was deeply aggrieved, he presented himself outwardly as cheerful. He addressed the shameless Kamsa in that way because he was so atrocious. Vasudeva said to Kamsa, “My dear brother-in-law, please consider that you have no danger from your sister. You are awaiting some danger because you have heard a prophetic voice in the sky. But the danger is to come from the sons of your sister, who are not present now. And who knows? There may or may not be sons in the future. Considering all this, you are safe for the present. Nor is there cause of fear from your sister. If there are any sons born of her, I promise that I shall present all of them to you for necessary action.”
Kamsa knew the value of Vasudeva’s word of honor, and he was convinced by his argument. For the time being, he desisted from the heinous killing of his sister. Thus Vasudeva was pleased and praised the decision of Kamsa. In this way, he returned to his home.
After due course of time, Vasudeva and Devaki gave birth to eight male children, as well as one daughter. When the first son was born, Vasudeva kept his word of honor and immediately brought the child before Kamsa. It is said that Vasudeva was very much elevated and famous for his word of honor, and he wanted to maintain this fame. Although it was very painful for Vasudeva to hand over the newly born child, Kamsa was very glad to receive him. But he became a little compassionate with the behavior of Vasudeva. This event is very exemplary. For a great soul like Vasudeva, there is nothing considered to be painful in the course of discharging one’s duty. A learned person like Vasudeva carries out his duties without hesitation. On the other hand, a demon like Kamsa never hesitates in committing any abominable action. It is said, therefore, that a saintly person can tolerate all kinds of miserable conditions of life, a learned man can discharge his duties without awaiting favorable circumstances, a heinous person like Kamsa can act in any sinful way, and a devotee can sacrifice everything to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Kamsa became satisfied by the action of Vasudeva. He was surprised to see Vasudeva keeping his promise, and being compassionate upon him and pleased, he began to speak as follows: “My dear Vasudeva, you need not present this child to me. I am not in danger from this child. I have heard that the eighth child born of you and Devaki will kill me. Why should I accept this child unnecessarily? You can take him back.”
When Vasudeva was returning home with his first-born child, although he was pleased by the behavior of Kamsa, he could not believe in him because he knew that Kamsa was uncontrolled. An atheistic person cannot be firm in his word of honor. One who cannot control the senses cannot be steady in his determination. The great politician, Canakya Pandita, said, “Never put your trust in a diplomat or in a woman.” Those who are addicted to unrestricted sense gratification can never be truthful, nor can they be trusted with any faith.
At that time the great sage Narada came to Kamsa. He was informed of Kamsa’s becoming compassionate to Vasudeva and returning his first-born child. Narada was very anxious to accelerate the descent of Lord Krsna as soon as possible. He therefore informed Kamsa that personalities like Nanda Maharaja and all the cowherd men and girls and the wives of the cowherd men in Vrndavana, and, on the other side, Vasudeva, his father Surasena and all his relatives born in the family of Vrsni of the Yadu dynasty, were preparing for the appearance of the Lord. Narada warned Kamsa to be careful of the friends and well-wishers and all the demigods taking birth in those families. Kamsa and his friends and advisors were all demons. Demons are always afraid of demigods. After being thus informed by Narada about the appearance of the demigods in different families Kamsa at once became alert. He understood that since the demigods had already appeared, Lord Visnu must be coming soon. He at once arrested both his brother-in-law Vasudeva and Devaki and put them behind prison bars.
Within the prison, shackled in iron chains, Vasudeva and Devaki gave birth to a male child year after year, and Kamsa, thinking each of the babies to be the incarnation of Visnu, killed them one after another. He was particularly afraid of the eighth child, but after the visit of Narada, he came to the conclusion that any child might be Krsna. Therefore it was better to kill all the babies who took birth of Devaki and Vasudeva.
This action of Kamsa is not very difficult to understand. There are many instances in the history of the world of persons in the royal order who have killed father, brother, or a whole family and friends for the satisfaction of their ambitions. There is nothing astonishing about this, for the demoniac can kill anyone for their nefarious ambitions.
Kamsa was made aware of his previous birth by the grace of Narada. He learned that in his previous birth he was a demon of the name Kalanemi and that he was killed by Visnu. Having taken his birth in the Bhoja family, he decided to become the deadly enemy of the Yadu dynasty; Krsna was going to take birth in that family, and Kamsa was very much afraid that he would be killed by Krsna, just as he was killed in his last birth.
He first of all imprisoned his father Ugrasena because he was the chief king among the Yadu, Bhoja, and Andhaka dynasties, and he also occupied the kingdom of Surasena, Vasudeva’s father. He declared himself the king of all such places.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the First Chapter of Krsna, “Advent of Lord Krsna.”
Prayers by the Demigods for Lord Krishna in the Womb
King Kamsa not only occupied the kingdoms of the Yadu, Bhoja, and Andhaka dynasties and the kingdom of Surasena, but he also made alliances with all the other demoniac kings, as follows: the demon Pralamba, demon Baka, demon Canura, demon Trnavarta, demon Aghasura, demon Mustika, demon Arista, demon Dvivida, demon Putana, demon Kesi and demon Dhenuka. At that time, Jarasandha was the king of Magadha province (known at present as Bihar state). Thus by his diplomatic policy, Kamsa consolidated the most powerful kingdom of his time, under the protection of Jarasandha. He made further alliances with such kings as Banasura and Bhaumasura, until he was the strongest. Then he began to behave most inimically towards the Yadu dynasty into which Krsna was to take His birth.
Being harassed by Kamsa, the kings of the Yadu, Bhoja and Andhaka dynasties began to take shelter in different states such as the state of the Kurus, the state of the Pancalas and the states known as Kekaya, Salva, Vidarbha, Nisadha, Videha and Kosala. Kamsa broke the solidarity of the Yadu kingdom, as well as the Bhoja and Andhaka. He made his position the most solid within the vast tract of land known at that time as Bharatavarsa.
When Kamsa killed the six babies of Devaki and Vasudeva one after another, many friends and relatives of Kamsa approached him and requested him to discontinue these heinous activities. But all of them became worshipers of Kamsa.
When Devaki became pregnant for the seventh time, a plenary expansion of Krsna known as Ananta appeared within her womb. Devaki was overwhelmed both with jubilation and lamentation. She was joyful, for she could understand that Lord Visnu had taken shelter within her womb, but at the same time she was sorry that as soon as her child would come out, Kamsa would kill Him. At that time, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, being compassionate upon the fearful condition of the Yadus, due to atrocities committed by Kamsa, ordered the appearance of His Yogamaya, or His internal potency. Krsna is the Lord of the universe, but He is especially the Lord of the Yadu dynasty.
The Yogamaya is the principal potency of the Personality of Godhead. In the Vedas it is stated that the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has multipotencies. Parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate. All the different potencies are acting externally and internally, and Yogamaya is the chief of all potencies. He ordered the appearance of Yogamaya in the land of Vrajabhumi, in Vrndavana, which is always decorated and full with beautiful cows. In Vrndavana, Rohini, one of the wives of Vasudeva, was residing at the house of King Nanda and Queen Yasoda. Not only Rohini, but many others in the Yadu dynasty were scattered all over the country due to their fear of the atrocities of Kamsa. Some of them were even living in the caves of the mountains.
The Lord thus informed Yogamaya: “Under the imprisonment of Kamsa are Devaki and Vasudeva, and at the present moment, My plenary expansion, Sesa, is within the womb of Devaki. You can arrange the transfer of Sesa from the womb of Devaki to the womb of Rohini. After this arrangement, I am personally going to appear in the womb of Devaki with My full potencies. Then I shall appear as the son of Devaki and Vasudeva. And you shall appear as the daughter of Nanda and Yasoda in Vrndavana.
“Since you will appear as My contemporary sister, people within the world will worship you with all kinds of valuable presentations: incense, candles, flowers and offerings of sacrifice. You shall quickly satisfy their desires for sense gratificiation. People who are after materialistic affection will worship you under the different forms of your expansions, which will be named Durga, Bhadrakali, Vijaya, Vaisnavi, Kumuda, Candika, Krsna, Madhavi, Kanyaka, Maya, Narayani, Isani, Sarada and Ambika.”
Krsna and Yogamaya appeared as brother and sister–the Supreme Powerful and the supreme power. Although there is no clear distinction between the Powerful and the power, power is always subordinate to the Powerful. Those who are materialistic are worshipers of the power, but those who are transcendentalists are worshipers of the Powerful. Krsna is the Supreme Powerful, and Durga is the supreme power within the material world. Actually people in the Vedic culture worship both the Powerful and the power. There are many hundreds of thousands of temples of Visnu and Devi, and sometimes they are worshiped simultaneously. The worshiper of the power, Durga, or the external energy of Krsna, may achieve all kinds of material success very easily, but anyone who wants to be elevated transcendentally must engage in worshiping the Powerful in Krsna consciousness.
The Lord also declared to Yogamaya that His plenary expansion, Ananta Sesa, was within the womb of Devaki. On account of being forcibly attracted to the womb of Rohini, He will be known as Sankarsana and would be the source of all spiritual power or bala, by which one could be able to attain the highest bliss of life which is called ramana. Therefore the plenary portion Ananta would be known after His appearance either as Sankarsana or Balarama.
In the Upanisads it is stated, Nayam atma bala-hinena labhyah. The purport is that one cannot attain the supreme or any form of self-realization without being sufficiently favored by Balarama. Bala does not mean physical strength. No one can attain spiritual perfection by physical strength. One must have the spiritual strength which is infused by Balarama or Sankarsana. Ananta or Sesa is the power which sustains all the planets in their different positions. Materially this sustaining power is known as the law of gravitation, but actually it is the display of the potency of Sankarsana. Balarama or Sankarsana is spiritual power, or the original spiritual master. Therefore Lord Nityananda Prabhu, who is also the incarnation of Balarama, is the original spiritual master. And the spiritual master is the representative of Balarama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who supplies spiritual strength. In the Caitanya-caritamrta it is confirmed that the spiritual master is the manifestation of the mercy of Krsna.
When Yogamaya was thus ordered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, she circumambulated the Lord and then appeared within this material world according to His order. When the Supreme Powerful Personality of Godhead transferred Lord Sesa from the womb of Devaki to the womb of Rohini, both of them were under the spell of Yogamaya, which is also called yoga-nidra. When this was done, people understood that Devaki’s seventh pregnancy was a miscarriage. Thus although Balarama appeared as the son of Devaki, He was transferred to the womb of Rohini to appear as her son. After this arrangement, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, who is always ready to place His full potencies in His unalloyed devotees, entered as the Lord of the whole creation within the mind of Vasudeva. It is understood in this connection that Lord Krsna first of all situated Himself in the unalloyed heart of Devaki. He was not put into the womb of Devaki by seminal discharge. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, by His inconceivable potency, can appear in any way. It is not necessary for Him to appear in the ordinary way by seminal injection within the womb of a woman.
When Vasudeva was sustaining the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead within his heart, he appeared just like the glowing sun whose shining rays are always unbearable and scorching to the common man. The form of the Lord situated in the pure unalloyed heart of Vasudeva is not different from the original form of Krsna. The appearance of the form of Krsna anywhere, and specifically within the heart, is called dhama. Dhama does not only refer to Krsna’s form, but His name, His form, His quality and His paraphernalia. Everything becomes manifest simultaneously.
Thus the eternal form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead with full potencies was transferred from the mind of Vasudeva to the mind of Devaki, exactly as the setting sun’s rays are transferred to the full moon rising in the east.
Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, entered the body of Devaki from the body of Vasudeva. He was beyond the conditions of the ordinary living entity. When Krsna is there, it is to be understood that all His plenary expansions, such as Narayana, and incarnations like Lord Nrsimha, Varaha, etc., are with Him, and They are not subject to the conditions of material existence. In this way, Devaki became the residence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is one without a second and the cause of all creation. Devaki became the residence of the Absolute Truth, but because she was within the house of Kamsa, she looked just like a suppressed fire, or like misused education. When fire is covered by the walls of a pot or is kept in a jug, the illuminating rays of the fire cannot be very much appreciated. Similarly, misused knowledge, which does not benefit the people in general, is not very much appreciated. So Devaki was kept within the prison walls of Kamsa’s palace, and no one could see her transcendental beauty which resulted from her conceiving the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Kamsa, however, saw the transcendental beauty of his sister Devaki, and he at once concluded that the Supreme Personality of Godhead had taken shelter in her womb. She had never before looked so wonderfully beautiful. He could distinctly understand that there was something wonderful within the womb of Devaki. In this way, Kamsa became perturbed. He was sure that the Supreme Personality of Godhead would kill him in the future and that He had now come. Kamsa began to think: “What is to be done with Devaki? Surely she has Visnu or Krsna within her womb, so it is certain that Krsna has come to execute the mission of the demigods. And even if I immediately kill Devaki, His mission cannot be frustrated.” Kamsa knew very well that no one can frustrate the purpose of Visnu. Any intelligent man can understand that the laws of God cannot be violated. His purpose will be served in spite of all impediments offered by the demons. Kamsa thought: “If I kill Devaki at the present moment, Visnu will enforce His supreme will more vehemently. To kill Devaki just now would be a most abominable act. No one desires to kill his reputation, even in an awkward situation; if I kill Devaki now, my reputation will be spoiled. Devaki is a woman, and she is under my shelter; she is pregnant, and if I kill her, immediately all my reputation, the result of pious activities and duration of life, will be finished.”
He also further deliberated: “A person who is too cruel, even in this lifetime is as good as dead. No one likes a cruel person during his lifetime, and after his death, people curse him. On account of his self-identification with the body, he must be degraded and pushed into the darkest region of hell.” Kamsa thus meditated on all the pros and cons of killing Devaki at that time.
Kamsa finally decided not to kill Devaki right away but to wait for the inevitable future. But his mind became absorbed in animosity against the Personality of Godhead. He patiently waited for the deliverance of the child, expecting to kill Him, as he had done previously with the other babies of Devaki. Thus being merged in the ocean of animosity against the Personality of Godhead, he began to think of Krsna and Visnu while sitting, while sleeping, while walking, while eating, while working–in all the situations of his life. His mind became so much absorbed with the thought of the Supreme Personality of Godhead that indirectly he could see only Krsna or Visnu around him. Unfortunately, although his mind was so absorbed in the thought of Visnu, he is not recognized as a devotee because he was thinking of Krsna as an enemy. The state of mind of a great devotee is also to be always absorbed in Krsna, but a devotee thinks of Him favorably, not unfavorably. To think of Krsna favorably is Krsna consciousness, but to think of Krsna unfavorably is not Krsna consciousness.
At this time Lord Brahma and Lord Siva, accompanied by great sages like Narada and followed by many other demigods, invisibly appeared in the house of Kamsa. They began to pray for the Supreme Personality of Godhead in select prayers which are very pleasing to the devotees and which award fulfillment of their desires. The first words they spoke acclaimed that the Lord is true to His vow. As stated in the Bhagavad-gita, Krsna descends in this material world just to protect the pious and destroy the impious. That is His vow. The demigods could understand that the Lord had taken His residence within the womb of Devaki in order to fulfill this vow. The demigods were very glad that the Lord was appearing to fulfill His mission, and they addressed Him as satyam param, or the Supreme Absolute Truth.
Everyone is searching after the truth. That is the philosophical way of life. The demigods give information that the Supreme Absolute Truth is Krsna. One who becomes fully Krsna conscious can attain the Absolute Truth. Krsna is the Absolute Truth. Relative truth is not truth in all the three phases of eternal time. Time is divided into past, present and future. Krsna is Truth always, past, present and future. In the material world everything is being controlled by supreme time, in the course of past, present and future. But before the creation, Krsna was existing, and when there is creation, everything is resting in Krsna, and when this creation is finished, Krsna will remain. Therefore, He is Absolute Truth in all circumstances. If there is any truth within this material world, it emanates from the Supreme Truth, Krsna. If there is any opulence within this material world, the cause of the opulence is Krsna. If there is any reputation within this material world, the cause of the reputation is Krsna. If there is any strength within this material world, the cause of such strength is Krsna. If there is any wisdom and education within this material world, the cause of such wisdom and education is Krsna. Therefore Krsna is the source of all relative truths.
This material world is composed of five principal elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether, and all such elements are emanations from Krsna. The material scientists accept these primary five elements as the cause of the material manifestation, but the elements in their gross and subtle states are produced by Krsna. The living entities who are working within this material world are also products of His marginal potency. In the Seventh Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, it is clearly stated that the whole manifestation is a combination of two kinds of energies of Krsna, the superior energy and the inferior energy. The living entities are the superior energy, and the dead material elements are His inferior energy. In its dormant stage, everything remains in Krsna.
The demigods continued to offer their respectful prayers unto the supreme form of the Personality of Godhead, Krsna, by analytical study of the material manifestation. What is this material manifestation? It is just like a tree. A tree stands on the ground. Similarly, the tree of the material manifestation is standing on the ground of material nature. This material manifestation is compared with a tree because a tree is ultimately cut off in due course of time. A tree is called vrksa. Vrksa means that thing which will be ultimately cut off. Therefore, this tree of the material manifestation cannot be accepted as the Ultimate Truth. The influence of time is on the material manifestation, but Krsna’s body is eternal. He existed before the material manifestation, He is existing while the material manifestation is continuing, and when it will be dissolved, He will continue to exist.
The Katha Upanisad also cites this example of the tree of material manifestation standing on the ground of material nature. This tree has two kinds of fruits, distress and happiness. Those who are living on the tree of the body are just like two birds. One bird is the localized aspect of Krsna known as the Paramatma, and the other bird is the living entity. The living entity is eating the fruits of this material manifestation. Sometimes he eats the fruit of happiness, and sometimes he eats the fruit of distress. But the other bird is not interested in eating the fruit of distress or happiness because he is self-satisfied. The Katha Upanisad states that one bird on the tree of the body is eating the fruits, and the other bird is simply witnessing. The roots of this tree extend in three directions. That means the root of the tree is the three modes of material nature: goodness, passion and ignorance. Just as the tree’s root expands, so, by association of the modes of material nature (goodness, passion and ignorance), one expands his duration of material existence. The taste of the fruits are of four kinds: religiosity, economic development, sense gratification and ultimately, liberation. According to the different associations in the three modes of material nature, the living entities are tasting different kinds of religiosity, different kinds of economic development, different kinds of sense gratification and different kinds of liberation. Practically all material work is performed in ignorance, but because there are three qualities, sometimes the quality of ignorance is covered with goodness or passion. The taste of these material fruits is accepted through five senses. The five sense organs through which knowledge is acquired are subjected to six kinds of whips: lamentation, illusion, infirmity, death, hunger and thirst. This material body, or the material manifestation, is covered by seven layers: skin, muscle, flesh, marrow, bone, fat and semen. The branches of the tree are eight: earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and ego. There are nine gates in this body: the two eyes, two nostrils, two ears, one mouth, one genital, one rectum. And there are ten kinds of internal air passing within the body: prana, apana, udana, vyana, samana, etc. The two birds seated in this tree, as explained above, are the living entity and the localized Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The root cause of the material manifestation described here is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Supreme Personality of Godhead expands Himself and takes charge of the three qualities of the material world. Visnu takes charge of the modes of goodness, Brahma takes charge of the modes of passion, and Lord Siva takes charge of the modes of ignorance. Brahma, by the modes of passion, creates this manifestation, Lord Visnu maintains this manifestation by the modes of goodness, and Lord Siva annihilates it by the modes of ignorance. The whole creation ultimately rests in the Supreme Lord. He is the cause of creation, maintenance and dissolution. And when the whole manifestation is dissolved, in its subtle form as the energy of the Lord, it rests within the body of the Supreme Lord.
“At the present,” the demigods prayed, “the Supreme Lord Krsna is appearing just for the maintenance of this manifestation.” Actually the Supreme Cause is one, but, being deluded by the three modes of material nature, less intelligent persons see that the material world is manifested through different causes. Those who are intelligent can see that the cause is one, Krsna. As it is stated in the Brahma-samhita: sarva-karana-karanam. Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the cause of all causes. Brahma is the deputed agent for creation, Visnu is the expansion of Krsna for maintenance, and Lord Siva is the expansion of Krsna for dissolution.
“Our dear Lord,” the demigods prayed, “it is very difficult to understand Your eternal form of personality. People in general are unable to understand Your actual form; therefore You are personally descending to exhibit Your original eternal form. Somehow people can understand the different incarnations of Your Lordship, but they are puzzled to understand the eternal form of Krsna with two hands, moving among human beings exactly like one of them. This eternal form of Your Lordship is ever increasing in transcendental pleasure for the devotees, but for the nondevotees, this form is very dangerous.” As stated in the Bhagavad-gita, Krsna is very pleasing to the sadhu. It is said, paritranaya sadhunam. But this form is very dangerous for the demons because Krsna also descends to kill the demons. He is, therefore, simultaneously pleasing to the devotees and dangerous to the demons.
“Our dear lotus-eyed Lord, You are the source of pure goodness. There are many great sages who simply by samadhi, or transcendentally meditating upon Your lotus feet and thus being absorbed in Your thought, have easily transformed the great ocean of nescience created by the material nature to no more than water in a calf’s hoofprint.” The purpose of meditation is to focus the mind upon the Personality of Godhead, beginning from His lotus feet. Simply by meditation on the lotus feet of the Lord, great sages cross over this vast ocean of material existence without difficulty.
“O self-illuminated one, the great saintly persons who have crossed over the ocean of nescience, by the help of the transcendental boat of Your lotus feet, have not taken away that boat. It is still lying on this side.” The demigods are using a nice simile. If one takes a boat to cross over a river, the boat also goes with one to the other side of the river. And so when one reaches the destination, how can the same boat be available to those who are still on the other side? To answer this difficulty, the demigods say in their prayer that the boat is not taken away. The devotees still remaining on the other side are able to pass over the ocean of material nature because the pure devotees do not take the boat with them when they cross over. When one simply approaches the boat, the whole ocean of material nescience is reduced to the size of water in a calf’s hoofprint. Therefore, the devotees do not need to take a boat to the other side; they simply cross the ocean immediately. Because the great saintly persons are compassionate toward all conditioned souls, the boat is still lying at the lotus feet of the Lord. One can meditate upon His feet at any time, and by so doing, one can cross over the great ocean of material existence.
Meditation means concentration upon the lotus feet of the Lord. Lotus feet indicate the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Those who are impersonalists do not recognize the lotus feet of the Lord, and therefore their object of meditation is something impersonal. The demigods express their mature verdict that persons who are interested in meditating on something void or impersonal cannot cross over the ocean of nescience. Such persons are simply imagining that they have become liberated. “O lotus-eyed Lord! Their intelligence is contaminated because they fail to meditate upon the lotus feet of Your Lordship.” As a result of this neglectful activity, the impersonalists fall down again into the material way of conditioned life, although they may temporarily rise up to the point of impersonal realization. Impersonalists, after undergoing severe austerities and penances, merge themselves into the Brahman effulgence or impersonal Brahman existence. But their minds are not free from material contamination; they have simply tried to negate the material ways of thinking. That does not mean that they have become liberated. Thus they fall down. In the Bhagavad-gita it is stated that the impersonalist has to undergo great tribulation in realizing the ultimate goal. At the beginning of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, it is also stated that without devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one cannot achieve liberation from the bondage of fruitive activities. The statement of Lord Krsna is there in the Bhagavad-gita, and in the Srimad-Bhagavatam the statement of the great sage Narada is there, and here also the demigods confirm it. “Persons who have not taken to devotional service are understood to have come short of the ultimate purpose of knowledge and are not favored by Your grace.” The impersonalists simply think that they are liberated, but actually they have no feeling for the Personality of Godhead. They think that when Krsna comes into the material world, He accepts a material body. They therefore overlook the transcendental body of Krsna. This is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita: Avajananti mam mudhah. In spite of conquering material lust and rising up to the point of liberation, the impersonalists fall down. If they are engaged just in knowing things for the sake of knowledge and do not take to the devotional service of the Lord, they cannot achieve the desired result. Their achievement is the trouble they take, and that is all. It is clearly stated in the Bhagavad-gita that to realize Brahman identification is not all. Brahman identification may help one become joyful without material attachment or detachment and to achieve the platform of equanimity, but after this stage, one has to take to devotional service. When one takes to devotional service after being elevated to the platform of Brahman realization, he is then admitted into the spiritual kingdom for permanent residence in association with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the result of devotional service. Those who are devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead never fall down like the impersonalists. Even if the devotees fall down, they remain affectionately attached to their Lordship. They can meet all kinds of obstacles on the path of devotional service, and freely, without any fear, they can surmount such obstacles. Because of their surrender, they are certain that Krsna will always protect them. As it is promised by Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita: “My devotees are never vanquished.”
“Our dear Lord, You have appeared in Your original unalloyed form, the eternal form of goodness, for the welfare of all living entities within this material world. Taking advantage of Your appearance, all of them can now very easily understand the nature and form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Persons who belong to the four divisions of the social order (the brahmacaris, the grhasthas, the vanaprasthas and the sannyasis) can all take advantage of Your appearance.
“Dear Lord, husband of the goddess of fortune, devotees who are dovetailed in Your service do not fall down from their high position like the impersonalists. Being protected by You, the devotees are able to traverse over the heads of many of Maya’s commanders-in-chief, who can always put stumbling blocks on the path of liberation. My dear Lord, You appear in Your transcendental form for the benefit of the living entities so that they can see You face to face and offer their worshipful sacrifices by ritualistic performance of the Vedas, mystic meditation and devotional service as recommended in the scriptures. Dear Lord, if You did not appear in Your eternal transcendental form, full of bliss and knowledge–which can eradicate all kinds of speculative ignorance about Your position–then all people would simply speculate about You according to their respective modes of material nature.”
The appearance of Krsna is the answer to all imaginative iconography of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Everyone imagines the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead according to his mode of material nature. In the Brahma-samhita it is said that the Lord is the oldest person. Therefore a section of religionists imagine that God must be very old, and therefore they depict a form of the Lord like a very old man. But in the same Brahma-samhita, that is contradicted; although He is the oldest of all living entities, He has His eternal form as a fresh youth. The exact words used in this connection in the Srimad-Bhagavatam are vijnanam ajnanabhid apamarjanam. Vijnanam means transcendental knowledge of the Supreme Personality. Vijnanam is also experienced knowledge. Transcendental knowledge has to be accepted by the descending process of disciplic succession as Brahma presents the knowledge of Krsna in the Brahma-samhita. Brahma-samhita is vijnanam as realized by Brahma’s transcendental experience, and in that way he presented the form and the pastimes of Krsna in the transcendental abode. Ajnanabhid means that which can match all kinds of speculation. In ignorance, people are imagining the form of the Lord; sometimes He has no form and sometimes He has form, according to their different imaginations. But the presentation of Krsna in the Brahma-samhita is vijnanam–scientific, experienced knowledge given by Lord Brahma and accepted by Lord Caitanya. There is no doubt about it. Sri Krsna’s form, Sri Krsna’s flute, Krsna’s color–everything is reality. Here it is said that this vijnanam is always defeating all kinds of speculative knowledge. “Therefore, without Your appearing as Krsna, as You are, neither ajnana-bhida (nescience of speculative knowledge) nor vijnanam would be realized. Ajnanabhid apamarjanam–by Your appearance the speculative knowledge of ignorance will be vanquished and the real experienced knowledge of authorities like Lord Brahma will be established. Men influenced by the three modes of material nature imagine their own God according to the modes of material nature. In this way God is presented in various ways, but Your appearance will establish what the real form of God is.”
The highest blunder committed by the impersonalists is to think that when the incarnation of God comes, He accepts the form of matter in the modes of goodness. Actually the form of Krsna or Narayana is transcendental to any material idea. Even the greatest impersonalist, Sankaracarya, has admitted that narayanah paro ‘vyaktat: the material creation is caused by the avyakta impersonal manifestation of matter or the nonphenomenal total reservation of matter, and Krsna is transcendental to that material conception. That is expressed in the Srimad-Bhagavatam as suddha-sattva, or transcendental. He does not belong to the material mode of goodness, and He is above the position of material goodness. He belongs to the transcendental eternal status of bliss and knowledge.
“Dear Lord, when You appear in Your different incarnations, You take different names and forms according to different situations. Lord Krsna is Your name because You are all attractive; You are called Syamasundara because of Your transcendental beauty. Syama means blackish, yet they say that You are more beautiful than thousands of Cupids. Kandarpa-koti-kamaniya. Although You appear in a color which is compared to the blackish cloud, because You are transcendental Absolute, Your beauty is many many times more attractive than the delicate body of Cupid. Sometimes You are called Giridhari because You lifted the hill known as Govardhana. You are sometimes called Nandanandana or Vasudeva or Devakinandana because You appear as the son of Maharaja Nanda or Devaki or Vasudeva. Impersonalists think that Your many names or forms are according to a particular type of work and quality because they accept You from the position of a material observer.
“Our dear Lord, the way of understanding is not to study Your absolute nature, form and activities by mental speculation. One must engage himself in devotional service; then one can understand Your absolute nature, transcendental form, name and quality. Actually only a person who has a little taste for the service of Your lotus feet can understand Your transcendental nature or form and quality. Others may go on speculating for millions of years, but it is not possible for them to understand even a single part of Your actual position.” In other words, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, cannot be understood by the nondevotees because there is a curtain of Yogamaya which covers Krsna’s actual features. As confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita, naham prakasah sarvasya. The Lord says, “I am not exposed to anyone and everyone.” When Krsna came, He was actually present on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, and everyone saw Him. But not everyone could understand that He was the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Still, everyone who died in His presence attained complete liberation from material bondage and was transferred to the spiritual world.
“O Lord, the impersonalists or nondevotees cannot understand that Your name is identical with Your form.” Since the Lord is absolute, there is no difference between His name and His actual form. In the material world there is a difference between form and name. The mango fruit is different from the name of the mango. One cannot taste the mango fruit simply by chanting, “mango, mango, mango.” But the devotee who knows that there is no difference between the name and the form of the Lord chants Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare and realizes that he is always in Krsna’s company.
For persons who are not very advanced in absolute knowledge of the Supreme, Lord Krsna exhibits His transcendental pastimes. They can simply think of the pastimes of the Lord and get the full benefit. Since there is no difference between the transcendental name and form of the Lord, there is no difference between the transcendental pastimes and the form of the Lord. For those who are less intelligent (like women, laborers or the mercantile class), the great sage Vyasadeva wrote Mahabharata. In the Mahabharata, Krsna is present in His different activities. Mahabharata is history, and simply by studying, hearing and memorizing the transcendental activities of Krsna, the less intelligent can also gradually rise to the standard of pure devotees.
The pure devotees, who are always absorbed in the thought of the transcendental lotus feet of Krsna and who are always engaged in devotional service in full Krsna consciousness, are never to be considered to be in the material world. Sri Rupa Gosvami has explained that those who are always engaged in Krsna consciousness, by body, mind and activities, are to be considered liberated even within this body. This is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita: those who are engaged in the devotional service of the Lord have already transcended the material position.
Krsna appears to give a chance both to the devotees and nondevotees for realization of the ultimate goal of life. The devotees get the direct chance to see Him and worship Him. Those who are not on that platform get the chance to become acquainted with His activities and thus become elevated to the same position.
“O dear Lord,” the demigods continued, “You are unborn; therefore we do not find any reason for Your appearance other than for Your pleasurable pastimes.” Although the reason for the appearance of the Lord is stated in the Bhagavad-gita (He descends just to give protection to the devotee and vanquish the nondevotee), actually He descends for His pleasure-meeting with the devotees, not really to vanquish the nondevotees. The nondevotees can be vanquished simply by material nature. “The action and reaction of the external enregy of material nature (creation, maintenance and annihilation) are being carried on automatically. But simply by taking shelter of Your holy name–because Your holy name and Your personality are nondifferent–the devotees are sufficiently protected.” The protection of the devotees and the annihilation of the nondevotees are actually not the business of the Supreme Personality of Godhead when He descends. They are just for His transcendental pleasure. There cannot be any other reason for His appearance.
“Our dear Lord, You are appearing as the best of the Yadu dynasty, and we are offering our respectful humble obeisances unto Your lotus feet. Before this appearance, You also appeared as the fish incarnation, the horse incarnation, the tortoise incarnation, the swan incarnation, as King Ramacandra, as Parasurama, and as many other incarnations. You appeared just to protect the devotees, and we request You in Your present appearance as the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself to give us similar protection all over the three worlds preme Personality of Godhead, appearing along with all His plenary extensions. He is the original Personality of Godhead appearing for our welfare. Therefore you should not be afraid of your brother, the King of Bhoja. Your son Lord Krsna, who is the original Personality of Godhead, will appear for the protection of the pious Yadu dynasty. The Lord is appearing not only alone but accompanied by His immediate plenary portion, Balarama.”
Devaki was very much afraid of her brother Kamsa because he had already killed so many of her children. She used to remain very anxious about Krsna. In the Visnu Purana it is stated that in order to pacify Devaki, all the demigods, along with their wives, used to always visit her to encourage her not to be afraid that her son would be killed by Kamsa. Krsna, who was within her womb, was to appear not only to diminish the burden of the world but specifically to protect the interest of the Yadu dynasty, and certainly to protect Devaki and Vasudeva.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Second Chapter of Krsna, “Prayers by the Demigods for Lord Krsna in the Womb.”
The Birth of Lord Krishna
As stated in the Bhagavad-gita, the Lord says that His appearance, birth, and activities, are all transcendental, and one who understands them factually becomes immediately eligible to be transferred to the spiritual world. The Lord’s appearance or birth is not like that of an ordinary man who is forced to accept a material body according to his past deeds. The Lord’s appearance is explained in the Second Chapter: He appears out of His own sweet pleasure. When the time was mature for the appearance of the Lord, the constellations became very auspicious. The astrological influence of the star known as Rohini was also predominant because this star is considered to be very auspicious. Rohini is under the direct supervision of Brahma. According to the astrological conclusion, besides the proper situation of the stars, there are auspicious and inauspicious moments due to the different situations of the different planetary systems. At the time of Krsna’s birth, the planetary systems were automatically adjusted so that everything became auspicious.
At that time, in all directions, east, west, south, north, everywhere, there was an atmosphere of peace and prosperity. There were auspicious stars visible in the sky, and on the surface in all towns and villages or pasturing grounds and within the minds of everyone there were signs of good fortune. The rivers were flowing full of waters, and lakes were beautifully decorated with lotus flowers. The forests were full with beautiful birds and peacocks. All the birds within the forests began to sing with sweet voices, and the peacocks began to dance along with their consorts. The wind blew very pleasantly, carrying the aroma of different flowers, and the sensation of bodily touch was very pleasing. At home, the brahmanas, who were accustomed to offer sacrifices in the fire, found their homes very pleasant for offerings. Due to disturbances created by the demoniac kings, the sacrificial fire alter had been almost stopped in the houses of brahmanas, but now they could find the opportunity to start the fire peacefully. Being forbidden to offer sacrifices, the brahmanas were very distressed in mind, intelligence and activities, but just on the point of Krsna’s appearance, automatically their minds became full of joy because they could hear loud vibrations in the sky of transcendental sounds proclaiming the appearance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The denizens of the Gandharva and Kinnara planets began to sing, and the denizens of Siddhaloka and the planets of the Caranas began to offer prayers in the service of the Personality of Godhead. In the heavenly planets, the angels along with their wives, accompanied by the Apsaras, began to dance.
The great sages and the demigods, being pleased, began to shower flowers. At the seashore, there was the sound of mild waves, and above the sea there were clouds in the sky which began to thunder very pleasingly.
When things were adjusted like this, Lord Visnu, who is residing within the heart of every living entity, appeared in the darkness of night as the Supreme Personality of Godhead before Devaki, who also appeared as one of the demigoddesses. The appearance of Lord Visnu at that time could be compared with the full moon in the sky as it rises on the eastern horizon. The objection may be raised that, since Lord Krsna appeared on the eighth day of the waning moon, there could be no rising of the full moon. In answer to this it may be said that Lord Krsna appeared in the dynasty which is in the hierarchy of the moon; therefore, although the moon was incomplete on that night, because of the Lord’s appearance in the dynasty wherein the moon is himself the original person, the moon was in an overjoyous condition, so by the grace of Krsna he could appear just as a full moon.
In an astronomical treatise by the name Khamanikya, the constellations at the time of the appearance of Lord Krsna are very nicely described. It is confirmed that the child born at that auspicious moment was the Supreme Brahman or the Absolute Truth.
Vasudeva saw that wonderful child born as a baby with four hands, holding conchshell, club, disc, and lotus flower, decorated with the mark of Srivatsa, wearing the jeweled necklace of kaustubha stone, dressed in yellow silk, appearing dazzling like a bright blackish cloud, wearing a helmet bedecked with the vaidurya stone, valuable bracelets, earrings and similar other ornaments all over His body and an abundance of hair on His head. Due to the extraordinary features of the child, Vasudeva was struck with wonder. How could a newly born child be so decorated? He could therefore understand that Lord Krsna had now appeared, and he became overpowered by the occasion. Vasudeva very humbly wondered that although he was an ordinary living entity conditioned by material nature and was externally imprisoned by Kamsa, the all-pervading Personality of Godhead, Visnu or Krsna, was appearing as a child in his home, exactly in His original position. No earthly child is born with four hands decorated with ornaments and nice clothing, fully equipped with all the signs of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Over and over again, Vasudeva glanced at his child, and he considered how to celebrate this auspicious moment: “Generally, when a male child is born,” he thought, “people observe the occasion with jubilant celebrations, and in my home, although I am imprisoned, the Supreme Personality of Godhead has taken birth. How many millions of millions of times should I be prepared to observe this auspicious ceremony!”
When Vasudeva, who is also called Anakadundubhi, was looking at his newborn baby, he was so happy that he wanted to give many thousands of cows in charity to the brahmanas. According to the Vedic system, whenever there is an auspicious ceremony in the ksatriya king’s palace, 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 Krsna’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 appear within the womb of Devaki because the creation was also made in that way. You were lying in the Causal Ocean as Maha-Visnu, and by Your breathing process, innumerable universes came into existence. Then You entered into each of the universes as Garbhodakasayi Visnu. Then again You expanded Yourself as Ksirodakasayi Visnu and entered into the hearts of all living entities and entered even within the atoms. Therefore Your entrance in 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 appear 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 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 further stated in the Bhagavad-gita that the Lord is also the support of the Brahman effulgence. 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 Visnu; He is also within the atom. Existence is due to His presence. Nothing can be separated from His existence. In the Vedic injunction we find that the Supreme Soul or the root cause of everything has to be searched out because nothing exists independent of the Supreme Soul. Therefore the material manifestation is also a transformation of His potency. Both inert matter and the living force–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. Krsna 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 controller of everything and the resting place of the Supreme Brahman, there is nothing inconceivable or contradictory in You. As You have said, material nature works under Your superintendence. It is just like government officers working under the orders of the chief executive. The influence of subordinate activities cannot affect You. The Supreme Brahman and all phenomena are existing within You, and all the activities of material nature are controlled by Your Lordship.
“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 qualities of passion for creation. Darkness is entrusted to Lord Siva because he annihilates the cosmos. The creation, annihilation and maintenance of this cosmic manifestation is conducted by Your potencies, yet You are always unaffected by those qualities. As confirmed in the Vedas, harir hi nirgunah saksat: 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. And 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 to kill the uncivilized Kamsa and his followers. But knowing that You were to appear to kill him and his followers, he has already killed so many of Your predecessors, 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 this prayer of Vasudeva, Devaki, the mother of Krsna, offered her prayers. She was very frightened because of her brother’s atrocities. Devaki said, “My dear Lord, Your eternal forms, like Narayana, Lord Rama, Sesa, Varaha, Nrsimha, Vamana, Baladeva, and millions of similar incarnations emanating from Visnu, are described in the Vedic literature as original. You are original because all Your forms as incarnations are outside of this material creation. Your form was existing before this cosmic manifestation was created. Your forms are eternal and all-pervading. They are self-effulgent, changeless and uncontaminated by the material qualities. Such eternal forms are ever-cognizant and full of bliss; they are situated in transcendental goodness and are always engaged in different pastimes. You are not limited to a particular form only; all such transcendental eternal forms are self-sufficient. I can understand that You are the Supreme Lord Visnu.
“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 again 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, quality and paraphernalia.
“My Lord, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You because 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.
“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 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 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 Visnu–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, and his name at that time was Sutapa, and you were his wife named Prsni. 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 exercise 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 influence of material law. In executing your austerity, you used to eat only the leaves of the trees which fell to the ground. Then with 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 the material bondage, under the influence of My energy, you asked Me to become your son.”
In other words, the Lord selected His mother and father–namely Prsni and Sutapa–specifically to appear in the material world. Whenever the Lord comes as a human being, He must have someone as a mother and father, so He selected Prsni and Sutapa perpetually as His mother and father. And on account of this, both Prsni and Sutapa could not ask the Lord for liberation. Liberation is not so important as the transcendental loving service of the Lord. The Lord could have awarded Prsni 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 Prsni and Sutapa returned 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 Prsni became pregnant and gave birth to the child. The Lord spoke to Devaki and Vasudeva: “At that time My name was Prsnigarbha. In the next millennium also 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 Prsnigarbha, born of Prsni and Sutapa, the next birth I was Upendra born of Aditi and Kasyapa, and now for the third time I am born as Krsna from you, Devaki and Vasudeva. I appeared in this Visnu 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 believe that I, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, have 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 to 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 replace Me with the daughter who has just been born to Yasoda.”
Having spoken thus in the presence of His father and mother, the Lord turned Himself into an ordinary child and remained silent.
Being ordered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva attempted to take his son from the delivery room, and exactly at that time, a daughter was born of 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 Krsna on his lap and went out, he could see everything just as in the sunlight.
In the Caitanya-caritamrta it is said that Krsna is just like sunlight, and wherever there is Krsna, the illusory energy, which is compared to darkness, cannot remain. When Vasudeva was carrying Krsna, the darkness of the night disappeared. All the prison doors automatically opened. At the same time there was a thunder in the sky and severe rainfall. While Vasudeva was carrying his son Krsna in the falling rain, Lord Sesa 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 replaced his son, taking away 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 again 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 of 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 Krsna, “Birth of Lord Krsna.”
Kamsa Begins His Persecutions
After Vasudeva adjusted all the doors and gates, 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 stood on end. 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 omen. 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. Let her live as my daughter.”
Kamsa was so cruel that he did not listen to the beautiful 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 brother who could sacrifice all relationships for the sake of personal gratification. But immediately the child slipped out of his hands, went up in the sky and appeared with eight arms as the younger sister of Visnu. She was decorated with a nice dress and flower garlands and ornaments; in her eight hands she held a bow, lancet, arrows, bell, 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 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 I have given up all consideration of our intimate relationship. I do not know what will be the result of these acts of mine. Probably I shall be sent to the hell where killers of the brahmanas go. I am surprised, however, that the celestial prophecy has not come true. False propaganda is not found only in the 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, just like a family member.
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, understanding 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 pleased, and his guilt for killing his nephews subdued. 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, countries, 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 the immeasurable strength of your bow, they fear you. Indeed, we have practical experience that whenever you stood to fight with them and began to shower your arrows on them, they immediately begin to flee 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 opening their turbans and the flag 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 of the warfield, but actually they cannot show any talent or military power on the warfield. Although Lord Visnu, 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 Visnu 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 all these demigods. But we must not neglect them beause 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.”
The demons continued to say: “If there is some disease in the body which is neglected, it becomes incurable. Similarly, when one is not careful about restraining the senses and lets them loose, it is then very difficult to control them at all. Therefore, we must always be very careful of the demigods before they get too strong to be subdued. The foundation of strength of the demigods is Lord Visnu, because the ultimate goal of all religious principles is to satisfy Him. The Vedic injunctions, the brahmanas, the cows, austerities, sacrifices, performances of charity and distribution of wealth are all for the satisfaction of Lord Visnu. So let us immediately begin by killing all the brahmanas who are in charge of the Vedic knowledge and the great sages who are in charge of sacrificial ritualistic performances. Let us kill all the cows which are the source of butter which is so necessary for performing sacrifices. Please give us your permission to kill all these creatures.”
Actually the limbs of the transcendental body of Lord Visnu are the brahmanas, the cows, Vedic knowledge, austerity, truthfulness, sense and mind control, faithfulness, charity, tolerance and performance of sacrifices. Lord Visnu is situated in everyone’s heart and is the leader of all demigods, including Lord Siva and Lord Brahma. “We think that to kill Lord Visnu is to persecute the great sages and brahmanas,” said the ministers.
Thus being advised by the demoniac ministers, Kamsa, who was from the very beginning the greatest rascal, decided to persecute the brahmanas and Vaisnavas, 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 modes of passion as well as illusioned by the modes of ignorance, and their only business was to create enmity with saintly persons. Such activities can only reduce the 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 actor also gradually loses his beauty, his fame and his religious principles, and his promotion to higher planets is also checked. Driven by various kinds of mental concoctions, the demons diminish all kinds of welfare. 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. Thus a godless civilization becomes the source of all calamities.