In the country named India, in the modern day state of Uttar Pradesh stands a little town near the river Yamuna. it is known as – Mathura, a holy city. it is the birthplace of Lord Krishna.
Nearly 5,000 years ago, Mathura was under the rule of a tyrannical king named Kamsa. Kamsa was so greedy and cunning that he not even spared his father Ugrasena; having imprisoned him kamsa declared himself to be the King of Mathura. Ugrasena was a nice ruler, and Kamsa was just the opposite. It was a trying time for the commoners of Mathura to put up with Kamsa’s extravagance and unfair rule. above all this, Kamsa locked his horns time and again with the rulers of the Yadu dynasty which led to frequent wars and troubled the peace-loving citizens of Mathura.
But soon a happy news came. Crown princess Devaki was getting married to King Vasudev of the Yadus. The Mathura citizens welcomed the wedding, for it surely meant that Kamsa’s frequent wars with the Yadu dynasty would come to an end.
Soon the much-awaited day arrived. Mathura wore a festive look. Everyone was in festive spirits. Even the usually desolate citizens of Mathura were looking happy. and that was a great thing to see, since the people of Mathura did not smile often. How cold they, with such an awful king like Kamsa to guide them.
Soon, Devaki was married to King Vasudev. Kamsa, cunning as he was, thought, “Now, Vasudev’s kingdom is as good as mine”.
After the wedding, he decided to drive the royal couple home himself to shower on them a kingly courtesy as was prevalent in those days. But it so happened that as soon as Kamsa took the reins of the wedding chariot, a divine voice thundered from the sky,” Evil Kamsa, you don’t know it. But know now that by giving Devaki’s hand to Vasudev, you have signed your own death warrant. The eighth son born to Vasudev and Devaki will kill you!”
Hearing this, Kamsa froze with fear. But then he became angry. He immediately thought of killing Devaki for he thought, “How can a child be born when the mother is dead?” So he drew out his sword and raised it to kill Devaki.
King Vasudev was horrified at this cruelty and fell on his knees. “O Kamsa..” he begged, “…please don’t kill your sister. I shall personally surrender to you all the children she gives birth to, so that the voice of the Oracle doesn’t come true.”
The evil king vacillated. “Then you will live in my palace as prisoners,” he declared and Vasudev had no choice than accepting his verdict. Kamsa smiled happily. The one person he loved in the whole wide world was his sister and he decided to spare her life. He was content at the thought that the situation was under his control. After all, he was not going to let her children live, was he?
Kamsa confined Devaki and her husband King Vasudev in the palace dungeons and kept them under constant watch. Every time Devaki gave birth to a child in the dungeons, Kamsa destroyed the child. In this manner, he killed seven children born to Devaki. He turned a deaf ear to all the heart- rending cries of his sister.
Nine years passed before Devaki got pregnant for the eighth time. Kamsa, troubled by the fear of his possible death, lost his appetite and slept poorly at night. But he waited for the birth of his nemesis with murderous thoughts.
In the palace dungeons, Vasudev was trying his best to console his wife, but Devaki was terrified.” My eighth child will be born in a day,” she wailed. “And my cruel brother will kill this one too. Oh mighty Gods, please save my child!”
The night soon ended and the next day arrived. Devaki spent most of the day in tears. Dusk gave way to a terrible night as had not been seen earlier in Mathura. It seemed that the whole world understood Devaki’s mind and joined her in mourning for the unborn child. The winds howled angrily and skies seemed to have split apart to pour wrathful rains.
Suddenly there was pin drop silence. And then it was broken by the sound of the cry of a divine child. It was of the eighth child, a son, born to Queen Devaki at midnight in the prison.
As soon the child was born, the prison was filled with a dazzling, blinding light. Devaki fainted at the sight and Vasudev was mesmerized. The light converged into a sphere and the same voice of the Oracle that scared Kamsa, now spoke to Vasudev:
“ Take this child across the River Yamuna to the Gokul kingdom, ruled by your friend King Nanda. His wife Queen Yashoda has just given birth to a daughter. Exchange your son for this girl child and return to the prison immediately, before anyone comes to know about the birth of this child.”
Without a word, he new father picked up his son to follow the Oracle’s advice. He felt grieved to separate the newborn child from his mother but he knew that there was no other way he could save his son.
Vasudev also felt very doubtful. There were a hundred soldiers waiting outside. And it was a dark, fearsome night. How could he go out, unnoticed and unscathed?
But what he saw astonished him greatly. All his questions were answered one by one. As he approached the gate with the child in his arms, the prison doors opened automatically. He came out slowly to find to his utter surprise that all the guards were in a state of hypnotic sleep.
Vasudev left Mathura and soon approached the banks of the Yamuna river. The river seemed to be boiling white and seething with anger, due to fierce winds and rain. It looked alive and ready to devour the first person to set foot in it!
The Father looked at his the face of his infant child and hesitated in doubt. As if the river sensed his fear, the boiling subsided. But he had to proceed nonetheless. Then a miracle happened. As soon as the feet of Lord immersed in the river, the flow became normal and Yamuna made way for the Lord. To his amazement, Vasudev saw a huge black snake raising its head from the water behind him. He was scared out of his wits at first, but soon realized that it meant no harm when he saw the serpent positioning its hood like an umbrella to save the new born baby from rain. This snake was none other than Sheshnag, the Snake-God, who is known to be the roofing canopy of Lord Vishnu. It is mentioned in the texts that Krishna was the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Vasudev did not delay any further and proceeded in waist-deep water with much difficulty. But in the end, not entirely believing his eyes, Vasudev was able to cross the opposite bank of the river safely and entered the village of Gokul.
It was past midnight and the people of Gokul were fast asleep. Thus, Vasudev had no trouble in entering the palace of king Nanda, for the palace doors were, as always, wide open. Nanda, unlike Kamsa, was a fair king and the people under his reign didn’t fear for intruders or thieves in the night.
Vasudev, by this time, had some idea that his child is really someone special, it was a divine child. All his fears vanished for he understood that when he has come this far, he will surely be able to complete the rest of his journey. And that was what happened.
In no time, Vasudev reached his friend’s palace. Treading softly, Vasudev entered queen Yashoda’s quarters. She was sleeping peacefully in her bed and her baby girl beside her was awake, staring at the door. It was almost as if she was expecting him to come!
Vasudev scooped Yashoda’s baby girl in his other arm and placed his son in the empty space next to Yashoda. With tears in his eyes, Vasudev kissed his son’s forehead. “Goodbye, my son,” he whispered. Then, without looking back, he left Gokul with Nanda’s daughter in his arms.
With Sheshnag assisting him like before, Vasudev returned to the prison with the girl-child. He entered his dark cell and laid the baby by Devaki’s side. As soon as the child felt the hard floor on her back, she opened her mouth and cried lustily.
Claannnk!!! The prison doors closed. The guards suddenly awoke from their sleep and became aware that a baby was born. They rushed to Kamsa to deliver him the news. The eighth child, slayer of Kamsa, was born!
The evil King was both pleased and afraid to hear of the birth of his nephew. He was pleased that he could finally kill the eighth child of his sister and he was also afraid that he might not be able to do so.
But putting away all his fears, he rushed to the palace dungeons to execute the child who was said to be his slayer. He reached the dungeons in great anger. The palace guards trembled at his enraged face. Kamsa entered the cell where his sister and her husband lived for the past nine years.
“Where is he?” he roared at the now-awake Devaki. “Where’s my slayer?”
Devaki had regained her consciousness only after Vasudev switched the babies and so, she thought that her eighth child was a daughter. She appealed to her brother, “O Kamsa, my brother- my eighth child is a girl, and not the son that the Oracle warned you about. How can she harm you? There is no way she can. Please let your only niece live!”
Kamsa, as always, ignored her cries. He loved his life more than anything else in the world. Love for his life had clouded his common sense and he forgot the Oracle’s warning about his slayer being a boy. In blind rage, Kamsa snatched the baby girl from Devaki’s lap, and hurled the child against the prison wall.
But this time the baby did not die; instead, she flew up and for a second remained suspended in the air to the utter amazement of everyone present there. Then the prison was filled once again with a blinding light. Kamsa covered his face from the intensity of the light. As the light subsided, they realised that the child had changed into a ferocious Goddess!
She rose above Kamsa’s head as the eight-armed form of Goddess Durga. Dressed in shining garments and dazzling jewels, she looked terrible and divine at the same time.
The Goddess looked in contempt and pity at the bewildered Kamsa. She said, “Foolish Kamsa, there is no force on Heaven and earth that can kill me. So how can you, wretched creature? You even if you could, you would have gained nothing by killing me. For your slayer is already born! He is now well and alive in a safe place. And one day, he will come in search of you and kill you! You can’t resist him, no matter how hard you try!”
Saying so, she disappeared, leaving behind a terror-stricken Kamsa. Kamsa felt humiliated by the turn of events. In his confusion, he freed Vasudev and Devaki from prison.
Vasudev then narrated what happened on that night to his wife. Devaki, though sad at her separation from her son, was happy for the baby. Both of them prayed to God that her son should not fall into the clutches of his evil uncle Kamsa.
Meanwhile, there was great rejoicing in Gokul. The cowherd tribes of Gokul were smiling from ear to ear. A new baby boy was born to their loved King Nanda ! The streets were swept clean and the houses were decorated with colors, streamers and fragrant flowers. The whole place wore a festive look.
Everyone in the household of King Nanda was in a joyous mood. Nanda named the child Krishna. Everybody in Gokul danced with joy and flocked to Nanda’s house to see the baby boy and to offer gifts.
But it did not escape anyone’s notice that the child was like no ordinary child. His skin had a dark – blue color as is seen in a cloud filled with water during the monsoon season. His eyes twinkled merrily. He never cried and always had a smile for everyone.
Yashoda felt very proud. “Ah my son!” she crooned lovingly at Little Krishna . “my cute little son! You are surely going to be pampered and spoiled by us!”.
In this way was born Lord Krishna, the supreme God who is the creator of everyone. He was born to save everyone from the terrible tyrants like Kamsa. In his boyhood, he became the cynosure of all eyes- he won the hearts of all men and women, wherever he went. And with his brother Balaram, he later went back to Mathura and killed Kamsa. But that, as people say… is another story.