Chapter Four
The Atrocities of King Kaṁsa
This chapter describes how Kaṁsa, following the advice of his demoniac friends, considered the persecution of small children to be very diplomatic.
After Vasudeva bound himself with iron shackles as before, all the doors of the prison house closed by the influence of Yogamāyā, who then began crying as a newborn child, This crying awakened the doorkeepers, who immediately informed Kaṁsa that a child had been born to Devakī. Upon hearing this news, Kaṁsa appeared with great force in the maternity room, and in spite of Devakī’s pleas that the child be saved, the demon forcibly snatched the child from Devakī’s hands and dashed the child against a rock. Unfortunately for Kaṁsa, however, the newborn child slipped away from his hands, rose above his head and appeared as the eight-armed form of Durgā. Durgā then told Kaṁsa, “The enemy you contemplate has taken birth somewhere else. Therefore your plan to persecute all the children will prove futile.”
According to the prophecy, the eighth child of Devakī would kill Kaṁsa, and therefore when Kaṁsa saw that the eighth child was a female and heard that his so-called enemy had taken birth elsewhere, he was struck with wonder. He decided to release Devakī and Vasudeva, and he admitted before them the wrongness of his atrocities. Falling at the feet of Devakī and Vasudeva, he begged their pardon and tried to convince them that because the events that had taken place were destined to happen, they should not be unhappy for his having killed so many of their children. Devakī and Vasudeva, being naturally very pious, immediately excused Kaṁsa for his atrocities, and Kaṁsa, after seeing that his sister and brother-in-law were happy, returned to his home.
After the night passed, however, Kaṁsa called for his ministers and informed them of all that had happened. The ministers, who were all demons, advised Kaṁsa that because his enemy had already taken birth somewhere else, all the children born within the past ten days in the villages within Kaṁsa’s kingdom should be killed. Although the demigods always feared Kaṁsa, they should not be treated leniently; since they were enemies, Kaṁsa should try his best to uproot their existence. The demoniac ministers further advised that Kaṁsa and the demons continue their enmity toward Viṣṇu because Viṣṇu is the original person among all the demigods. The brāhmaṇas, the cows, the Vedas, austerity, truthfulness, control of the senses and mind, faithfulness and mercy are among the different parts of the body of Viṣṇu, who is the origin of all the demigods, including Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva. Therefore, the ministers advised, the demigods, the saintly persons, the cows and the brāhmaṇas should be systematically persecuted. Strongly advised in this way by his friends, the demoniac ministers, Kaṁsa approved of their instructions and considered it beneficial to be envious of the brāhmaṇas. Following Kaṁsa’s orders, therefore, the demons began committing their atrocities all over Vrajabhūmi.
śrī-śuka uvāca
sarvāḥ pūrvavad āvṛtāḥ
tato bāla-dhvaniṁ śrutvā
gṛha-pālāḥ samutthitāḥ
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; bahiḥ-antaḥ-pura-dvāraḥ—the doors inside and outside the house; sarvāḥ—all; pūrva-vat—like before; āvṛtāḥ—closed; tataḥ—thereafter; bāla-dhvanim—the crying of the newborn child; śrutvā—hearing; gṛha-pālāḥ—all the inhabitants of the house, especially the doormen; samutthitāḥ—awakened.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: My dear King Parīkṣit, the doors inside and outside the house closed as before. Thereafter, the inhabitants of the house, especially the watchmen, heard the crying of the newborn child and thus awakened from their beds.
The activities of Yogamāyā are distinctly visible in this chapter, in which Devakī and Vasudeva excuse Kaṁsa for his many devious, atrocious activities and Kaṁsa becomes repentant and falls at their feet. Before the awakening of the watchmen and the others in the prison house, many other things happened. Kṛṣṇa was born and transferred to the home of Yaśodā in Gokula, the strong doors opened and again closed, and Vasudeva resumed his former condition of being shackled. The watchmen, however, could not understand all this. They awakened only when they heard the crying of the newborn child, Yogamāyā.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has remarked that the watchmen were just like dogs. At night the dogs in the street act like watchmen. If one dog barks, many other dogs immediately follow it by barking. Although the street dogs are not appointed by anyone to act as watchmen, they think they are responsible for protecting the neighborhood, and as soon as someone unknown enters it, they all begin to bark. Both Yogamāyā and Mahāmāyā act in all material activities (prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ [Bg. 3.27]), but although the energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead acts under the Supreme Lord’s direction (mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate sa-carācaram [Bg. 9.10]), doglike watchmen such as politicians and diplomats think that they are protecting their neighborhoods from the dangers of the outside world. These are the actions of māyā. But one who surrenders to Kṛṣṇa is relieved of the protection afforded by the dogs and doglike guardians of this material world.
te tu tūrṇam upavrajya
devakyā garbha-janma tat
ācakhyur bhoja-rājāya
yad udvignaḥ pratīkṣate
te—all the watchmen; tu—indeed; tūrṇam—very quickly; upavrajya—going before (the King); devakyāḥ—of Devakī; garbha-janma—the deliverance from the womb; tat—that (child); ācakhyuḥ—submitted; bhoja-rājāya—unto the King of the Bhojas, Kaṁsa; yat—of whom; udvignaḥ—with great anxiety; pratīkṣate—was waiting (for the child’s birth).
Thereafter, all the watchmen very quickly approached King Kaṁsa, the ruler of the Bhoja dynasty, and submitted the news of the birth of Devakī’s child. Kaṁsa, who had awaited this news very anxiously, immediately took action.
Kaṁsa was very anxiously waiting because of the prophecy that the eighth child of Devakī would kill him. This time, naturally, he was awake and waiting, and when the watchmen approached him, he immediately took action to kill the child.
sa talpāt tūrṇam utthāya
kālo ’yam iti vihvalaḥ
sūtī-gṛham agāt tūrṇaṁ
praskhalan mukta-mūrdhajaḥ
saḥ—he (King Kaṁsa); talpāt—from the bed; tūrṇam—very quickly; utthāya—getting up; kālaḥ ayam—here is my death, the supreme time; iti—in this way; vihvalaḥ—overwhelmed; sūtī-gṛham—to the maternity home; agāt—went; tūrṇam—without delay; praskhalan—scattering; mukta—had become opened; mūrdha-jaḥ—the hair on the head.
Kaṁsa immediately got up from bed, thinking, “Here is Kāla, the supreme time factor, which has taken birth to kill me!” Thus overwhelmed, Kaṁsa, his hair scattered on his head, at once approached the place where the child had been born.
The word kālaḥ is significant. Although the child was born to kill Kaṁsa, Kaṁsa thought that this was the proper time to kill the child so that he himself would be saved. Kāla is actually another name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead when He appears only for the purpose of killing. When Arjuna inquired from Kṛṣṇa in His universal form, “Who are You?” the Lord presented Himself as kāla, death personified to kill. By nature’s law, when there is an unwanted increase in population, kāla appears, and by some arrangement of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, people are killed wholesale in different ways, by war, pestilence, famine and so on. At that time, even atheistic political leaders go to a church, mosque or temple for protection by God or gods and submissively say, “God willing.” Before that, they pay no attention to God, not caring to know God or His will, but when kāla appears, they say, “God willing.” Death is but another feature of the supreme kāla, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. At the time of death, the atheist must submit to this supreme kāla, and then the Supreme Personality of Godhead takes away all his possessions (mṛtyuḥ sarva-haraś cāham) and forces him to accept another body (tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ). This the atheists do not know, and if they do know, they neglect it so that they may go on with their normal life. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is trying to teach them that although for a few years one may act as a great protector or great watchman, with the appearance of kāla, death, one must take another body by the laws of nature. Not knowing this, they unnecessarily waste their time in their occupation as watchdogs and do not try to get the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As it is clearly said, aprāpya māṁ nivartante mṛtyu-saṁsāra-vartmani: without Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one is condemned to continue wandering in birth and death, not knowing what will happen in one’s next birth.
tam āha bhrātaraṁ devī
kṛpaṇā karuṇaṁ satī
snuṣeyaṁ tava kalyāṇa
striyaṁ mā hantum arhasi
tam—unto Kaṁsa; āha—said; bhrātaram—her brother; devī—mother Devakī; kṛpaṇā—helplessly; karuṇam—piteously; satī—the chaste lady; snuṣā iyam tava—this child will be your daughter-in-law, the wife of your future son; kalyāṇa—O all-auspicious one; striyam—a woman; —not; hantum—to kill; arhasi—you deserve.
Devakī helplessly, piteously appealed to Kaṁsa: My dear brother, all good fortune unto you. Don’t kill this girl. She will be your daughter-in-law. Indeed, it is unworthy of you to kill a woman.
Kaṁsa had previously excused Devakī because he thought that a woman should not be killed, especially when pregnant. But now, by the influence of māyā, he was prepared to kill a woman—not only a woman, but a small, helpless newborn child. Devakī wanted to save her brother from this terrible, sinful act. Therefore she told him, “Don’t be so atrocious as to kill a female child. Let there be all good fortune for you.” Demons can do anything for their personal benefit, not considering what is pious or vicious. But Devakī, on the contrary, although safe because she had already given birth to her own son, Kṛṣṇa, was anxious to save the daughter of someone else. This was natural for her.
bahavo hiṁsitā bhrātaḥ
śiśavaḥ pāvakopamāḥ
tvayā daiva-nisṛṣṭena
putrikaikā pradīyatām
bahavaḥ—many; hiṁsitāḥ—killed out of envy; bhrātaḥ—my dear brother; śiśavaḥ—small children; pāvaka-upamāḥ—all of them equal to fire in brightness and beauty; tvayā—by you; daiva-nisṛṣṭena—as spoken by destiny; putrikā—daughter; ekā—one; pradīyatām—give me as your gift.
My dear brother, by the influence of destiny you have already killed many babies, each of them as bright and beautiful as fire. But kindly spare this daughter. Give her to me as your gift.
Here we see that Devakī first focused Kaṁsa’s attention on his atrocious activities, his killing of her many sons. Then she wanted to compromise with him by saying that whatever he had done was not his fault, but was ordained by destiny. Then she appealed to him to give her the daughter as a gift. Devakī was the daughter of a kṣatriya and knew how to play the political game. In politics there are different methods of achieving success: first repression (dama), then compromise (sāma), and then asking for a gift (dāna). Devakī first adopted the policy of repression by directly attacking Kaṁsa for having cruelly, atrociously killed her babies. Then she compromised by saying that this was not his fault, and then she begged for a gift. As we learn from the history of the Mahābhārata, or “Greater India,” the wives and daughters of the ruling class, the kṣatriyas, knew the political game, but we never find that a woman was given the post of chief executive. This is in accordance with the injunctions of Manu-saṁhitā, but unfortunately Manu-saṁhitā is now being insulted, and the Āryans, the members of Vedic society, cannot do anything. Such is the nature of Kali-yuga.
Nothing happens unless ordained by destiny.
(Bhāg. 1.5.18)
Devakī knew very well that because the killing of her many children had been ordained by destiny, Kaṁsa was not to be blamed. There was no need to give good instructions to Kaṁsa. Upadeśo hi murkhāṇāṁ prakopāya na śāntaye (Cāṇakya Paṇḍita). If a foolish person is given good instructions, he becomes more and more angry. Moreover, a cruel person is more dangerous than a snake. A snake and a cruel person are both cruel, but a cruel person is more dangerous because although a snake can be charmed by mantras or subdued by herbs, a cruel person cannot be subdued by any means. Such was the nature of Kaṁsa.
nanv ahaṁ te hy avarajā
dīnā hata-sutā prabho
dātum arhasi mandāyā
aṅgemāṁ caramāṁ prajām
nanu—however; aham—I am; te—your; hi—indeed; avarajā—younger sister; dīnā—very poor; hata-sutā—deprived of all children; prabho—O my lord; dātum arhasi—you deserve to give (some gift); mandāyāḥ—to me, who am so poor; aṅga—my dear brother; imām—this; caramām—last; prajām—child.
My lord, my brother, I am very poor, being bereft of all my children, but still I am your younger sister, and therefore it would be worthy of you to give me this last child as a gift.
śrī-śuka uvāca
upaguhyātmajām evaṁ
rudatyā dīna-dīnavat
yācitas tāṁ vinirbhartsya
hastād ācicchide khalaḥ
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; upaguhya—embracing; ātmajām—her daughter; evam—in this way; rudatyā—by Devakī, who was crying; dīna-dīna-vat—very piteously, like a poor woman; yācitaḥ—being begged; tām—her (Devakī); vinirbhartsya—chastising; hastāt—from her hands; ācicchide—separated the child by force; khalaḥKaṁsa, the most cruel.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: piteously embracing her daughter and crying, Devakī begged Kaṁsa for the child, but he was so cruel that he chastised her and forcibly snatched the child from her hands.
Although Devakī was crying like a very poor woman, actually she was not poor, and therefore the word used here is dīnavat. She had already given birth to Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, who could have been richer than she? Even the demigods had come to offer prayers to Devakī, but she played the part of a poor, piteously afflicted woman because she wanted to save the daughter of Yaśodā.
tāṁ gṛhītvā caraṇayor
jāta-mātrāṁ svasuḥ sutām
apothayac chilā-pṛṣṭhe
tām—the child; gṛhītvā—taking by force; caraṇayoḥ—by the two legs; jāta-mātrām—the newborn child; svasuḥ—of his sister; sutām—the daughter; apothayat—smashed; śilā-pṛṣṭhe—on the surface of a stone; sva-artha-unmūlita—uprooted because of intense selfishness; sauhṛdaḥ—all friendship or family relationships.
Having uprooted all relationships with his sister because of intense selfishness, Kaṁsa, who was sitting on his knees, grasped the newborn child by the legs and tried to dash her against the surface of a stone.
sā tad-dhastāt samutpatya
sadyo devy ambaraṁ gatā
adṛśyatānujā viṣṇoḥ
—that female child; tat-hastāt—from the hand of Kaṁsa; sam-utpatya—slipped upward; sadyaḥ—immediately; devī—the form of a demigoddess; ambaram—into the sky; gatā—went; adṛśyata—was seen; anujā—the younger sister; viṣṇoḥ—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; sa-āyudhā—with weapons; aṣṭa—eight; mahā-bhujā—with mighty arms.
The child, Yogamāyā-devī, the younger sister of Lord Viṣṇu, slipped upward from Kaṁsa’s hands and appeared in the sky as Devī, the goddess Durgā, with eight arms, completely equipped with weapons.
Kaṁsa tried to dash the child downward against a piece of stone, but since she was Yogamāyā, the younger sister of Lord Viṣṇu, she slipped upward and assumed the form of the goddess Durgā. The word anujā, meaning “the younger sister,” is significant. When Viṣṇu, or Kṛṣṇa, took birth from Devakī, He must have simultaneously taken birth from Yaśodā also. Otherwise how could Yogamāyā have been anujā, the Lord’s younger sister?
TEXTS 10–11
stūyamānedam abravīt
divya-srak-ambara-ālepa—she then assumed the form of a demigoddess, completely decorated with sandalwood pulp, flower garlands and a nice dress; ratna-ābharaṇa-bhūṣitā—decorated with ornaments of valuable jewels; dhanuḥ-śūla-iṣu-carma-asi—with bow, trident, arrows, shield and sword; śaṅkha-cakra-gadā-dharā—and holding the weapons of Viṣṇu (conchshell, disc and club); siddha-cāraṇa-gandharvaiḥ—by the Siddhas, Cāraṇas and Gandharvas; apsaraḥ-kinnara-uragaiḥ—and by the Apsarās, Kinnaras and Uragas; upāhṛta-uru-balibhiḥ—who brought all kinds of presentations to her; stūyamānā—being praised; idam—these words; abravīt—she said.
The goddess Durgā was decorated with flower garlands, smeared with sandalwood pulp and dressed with excellent garments and ornaments made of valuable jewels. Holding in her hands a bow, a trident, arrows, a shield, a sword, a conchshell, a disc and a club, and being praised by celestial beings like Apsarās, Kinnaras, Uragas, Siddhas, Cāraṇas and Gandharvas, who worshiped her with all kinds of presentations, she spoke as follows.
kiṁ mayā hatayā manda
jātaḥ khalu tavānta-kṛt
yatra kva vā pūrva-śatrur
mā hiṁsīḥ kṛpaṇān vṛthā
kim—what is the use; mayā—me; hatayā—in killing; manda—O you fool; jātaḥ—has already been born; khalu—indeed; tava anta-kṛt—who will kill you; yatra kva —somewhere else; pūrva-śatruḥ—your former enemy; —do not; hiṁsīḥ—kill; kṛpaṇān—other poor children; vṛthā—unnecessarily.
O Kaṁsa, you fool, what will be the use of killing me? The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has been your enemy from the very beginning and who will certainly kill you, has already taken His birth somewhere else. Therefore, do not unnecessarily kill other children.
iti prabhāṣya taṁ devī
māyā bhagavatī bhuvi
bahu-nāmā babhūva ha
iti—in this way; prabhāṣya—addressing; tamKaṁsa; devī—the goddess Durgā; māyāYogamāyā; bhagavatī—possessing immense power, like that of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; bhuvi—on the surface of the earth; bahu-nāma—of different names; niketeṣu—in different places; bahu-nāmā—different names; babhūva—became; ha—indeed.
After speaking to Kaṁsa in this way, the goddess Durgā, Yogamāyā, appeared in different places, such as Vārāṇasī, and became celebrated by different names, such as Annapūrṇā, Durgā, Kālī and Bhadrā.
The goddess Durgā is celebrated in Calcutta as Kālī, in Bombay as Mumbādevī, in Vārāṇasī as Annapūrṇā, in Cuttack as Bhadrakālī and in Ahmedabad as Bhadrā. Thus in different places she is known by different names. Her devotees are known as śāktas, or worshipers of the energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whereas worshipers of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself are called Vaiṣṇavas. Vaiṣṇavas are destined to return home, back to Godhead, in the spiritual world, whereas the śāktas are destined to live within this material world to enjoy different types of material happiness. In the material world, the living entity must accept different types of bodies. Bhrāmayan sarva-bhūtāni yantrārūḍhāni māyayā (Bg. 18.61). According to the living entity’s desire, Yogamāyā, or Māyā, the goddess Durgā, gives him a particular type of body, which is mentioned as yantra, a machine. But the living entities who are promoted to the spiritual world do not return to the prison house of a material body (tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so’rjuna [Bg. 4.9]). The words janma na eti indicate that these living entities remain in their original, spiritual bodies to enjoy the company of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the transcendental abodes Vaikuṇṭha and Vṛndāvana.
tayābhihitam ākarṇya
kaṁsaḥ parama-vismitaḥ
devakīṁ vasudevaṁ ca
vimucya praśrito ’bravīt
tayā—by the goddess Durgā; abhihitam—the words spoken; ākarṇya—by hearing; kaṁsaḥKaṁsa; parama-vismitaḥ—was struck with wonder; devakīm—unto Devakī; vasudevam ca—and Vasudeva; vimucya—releasing immediately; praśritaḥ—with great humility; abravīt—spoke as follows.
After hearing the words of the goddess Durgā, Kaṁsa was struck with wonder. Thus he approached his sister Devakī and brother-in-law Vasudeva, released them immediately from their shackles, and very humbly spoke as follows.
Kaṁsa was astonished because the goddess Durgā had become the daughter of Devakī. Since Devakī was a human being, how could the goddess Durgā become her daughter? This was one cause of his astonishment. Also, how is it that the eighth child of Devakī was a female? This also astonished him. Asuras are generally devotees of mother Durgā, Śakti, or of demigods, especially Lord Śiva. The appearance of Durgā in her original eight-armed feature, holding various weapons, immediately changed Kaṁsa’s mind about Devakī’s being an ordinary human. Devakī must have had some transcendental qualities; otherwise why would the goddess Durgā have taken birth from her womb? Under the circumstances, Kaṁsa, struck with wonder, wanted to compensate for his atrocities against his sister Devakī.
aho bhaginy aho bhāma
mayā vāṁ bata pāpmanā
puruṣāda ivāpatyaṁ
bahavo hiṁsitāḥ sutāḥ
aho—alas; bhagini—my dear sister; aho—alas; bhāma—my dear brother-in-law; mayā—by me; vām—of you; bata—indeed; pāpmanā—because of sinful activities; puruṣa-adaḥ—a Rākṣasa, man-eater; iva—like; apatyam—child; bahavaḥ—many; hiṁsitāḥ—have been killed; sutāḥ—sons.
Alas, my sister! Alas, my brother-in-law! I am indeed so sinful that exactly like a man-eater [Rākṣasa] who eats his own child, I have killed so many sons born of you.
Rākṣasas are understood to be accustomed to eating their own sons, as snakes and many other animals sometimes do. At the present moment in Kali-yuga, Rākṣasa fathers and mothers are killing their own children in the womb, and some are even eating the fetus with great relish. Thus the so-called civilization is gradually advancing by producing Rākṣasas.
sa tv ahaṁ tyakta-kāruṇyas
tyakta-jñāti-suhṛt khalaḥ
kān lokān vai gamiṣyāmi
brahma-heva mṛtaḥ śvasan
saḥ—that person (Kaṁsa); tu—indeed; aham—I; tyakta-kāruṇyaḥ—devoid of all mercy; tyakta-jñāti-suhṛt—my relatives and friends have been rejected by me; khalaḥ—cruel; kān lokān—which planets; vai—indeed; gamiṣyāmi—shall go; brahma- iva—like the killer of a brāhmaṇa; mṛtaḥ śvasan—either after death or while breathing.
Being merciless and cruel, I have forsaken all my relatives and friends. Therefore, like a person who has killed a brāhmaṇa, I do not know to which planet I shall go, either after death or while breathing.
daivam apy anṛtaṁ vakti
na martyā eva kevalam
yad-viśrambhād ahaṁ pāpaḥ
svasur nihatavāñ chiśūn
daivam—providence; api—also; anṛtam—lies; vakti—say; na—not; martyāḥ—human beings; eva—certainly; kevalam—only; yat-viśrambhāt—because of believing that prophecy; aham—I; pāpaḥ—the most sinful; svasuḥ—of my sister; nihatavān—killed; śiśūn—so many children.
Alas, not only human beings but sometimes even providence lies. And I am so sinful that I believed the omen of providence and killed so many of my sister’s children.
mā śocataṁ mahā-bhāgāv
ātmajān sva-kṛtaṁ bhujaḥ
jāntavo na sadaikatra
daivādhīnās tadāsate
śocatam—kindly do not be aggrieved (for what happened in the past); mahā-bhāgau—O you who are learned and fortunate in spiritual knowledge; ātmajān—for your sons; sva-kṛtam—only because of their own acts; bhujaḥ—who are suffering; jāntavaḥ—all living entities; na—not; sadā—always; ekatra—in one place; daiva-adhīnāḥ—who are under the control of providence; tadā—hence; āsate—live.
O great souls, your children have suffered their own misfortune. Therefore, please do not lament for them. All living entities are under the control of the Supreme, and they cannot always live together.
Kaṁsa addressed his sister and brother-in-law as mahā-bhāgau because although he killed their ordinary children, the goddess Durgā took birth from them. Because Devakī bore Durgādevī in her womb, Kaṁsa praised both Devakī and her husband. Asuras are very devoted to the goddess Durgā, Kālī and so forth. Kaṁsa, therefore, truly astonished, appreciated the exalted position of his sister and brother-in-law. Durgā is certainly not under the laws of nature, because she herself is the controller of the laws of nature. Ordinary living beings, however, are controlled by these laws (prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ [Bg. 3.27]). Consequently, none of us are allowed to live together for any long period. By speaking in this way, Kaṁsa tried to pacify his sister and brother-in-law.
bhuvi bhaumāni bhūtāni
yathā yānty apayānti ca
nāyam ātmā tathaiteṣu
viparyeti yathaiva bhūḥ
bhuvi—on the surface of the world; bhaumāni—all material products from earth, such as pots; bhūtāni—which are produced; yathā—as; yānti—appear (in form); apayānti—disappear (broken or mixed with the earth); ca—and; na—not; ayam ātmā—the soul or spiritual identity; tathā—similarly; eteṣu—among all these (products of material elements); viparyeti—is changed or broken; yathā—as; eva—certainly; bhūḥ—the earth.
In this world, we can see that pots, dolls and other products of the earth appear, break and then disappear, mixing with the earth. Similarly, the bodies of all conditioned living entities are annihilated, but the living entities, like the earth itself, are unchanging and never annihilated [na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre [Bg. 2.20]].
Although Kaṁsa is described as a demon, he had good knowledge of the affairs of ātma-tattva, the truth of the self. Five thousand years ago, there were kings like Kaṁsa, who is described as an asura, but he was better than modern politicians and diplomats, who have no knowledge about ātma-tattva. As stated in the Vedas, asaṅgo hy ayaṁ puruṣaḥ: the spirit soul has no connection with the changes of the material body. The body undergoes six changes—birth, growth, sustenance, by-products, dwindling and then annihilation—but the soul undergoes no such changes. Even after the annihilation of a particular bodily form, the original source of the bodily elements does not change. The living entity enjoys the material body, which appears and disappears, but the five elements earth, water, fire, air and ether remain the same. The example given here is that pots and dolls are produced from the earth, and when broken or destroyed they mingle with their original ingredients. In any case, the source of supply remains the same.
As already discussed, the body is made according to the desires of the soul. The soul desires, and thus the body is formed. Kṛṣṇa therefore says in Bhagavad-gītā (18.61):
“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.” Neither the Supersoul, Paramātmā, nor the individual soul changes its original, spiritual identity. The ātmā does not undergo birth, death or changes like the body. Therefore a Vedic aphorism says, asaṅgo hy ayaṁ puruṣaḥ: although the soul is conditioned within this material world, he has no connections with the changes of the material body.
yathānevaṁ-vido bhedo
yata ātma-viparyayaḥ
deha-yoga-viyogau ca
saṁsṛtir na nivartate
yathā—as; an-evam-vidaḥ—of a person who has no knowledge (about ātma-tattva and the steadiness of the ātmā in his own identity, despite the changes of the body); bhedaḥ—the idea of difference between body and self; yataḥ—because of which; ātma-viparyayaḥ—the foolish understanding that one is the body; deha-yoga-viyogau ca—and this causes connections and separations among different bodies; saṁsṛtiḥ—the continuation of conditioned life; na—not; nivartate—does stop.
One who does not understand the constitutional position of the body and the soul [ātmā] becomes too attached to the bodily concept of life. Consequently, because of attachment to the body and its by-products, he feels affected by union with and separation from his family, society and nation. As long as this continues, one continues his material life. [Otherwise, one is liberated.]
As confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.6):
sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhokṣaje
ahaituky apratihatā
yayātmā suprasīdati
The word dharma means “engagement.” One who is engaged in the service of the Lord (yato bhaktir adhokṣaje), without impediment and without cessation, is understood to be situated in his original, spiritual status. When one is promoted to this status, one is always happy in transcendental bliss. Otherwise, as long as one is in the bodily concept of life, one must suffer material conditions. Janma-mṛtyu jarā-vyādhi-duḥkha-doṣānudarśanam. The body is subject to its own principles of birth, death, old age and disease, but one who is situated in spiritual life (yato bhaktir adhokṣaje) has no birth, no death, no old age and no disease. One may argue that we may see a person who is spiritually engaged twenty-four hours a day but is still suffering from disease. In fact, however, he is neither suffering nor diseased; otherwise he could not be engaged twenty-four hours a day in spiritual activities. The example may be given in this connection that sometimes dirty foam or garbage is seen floating on the water of the Ganges. This is called nīra-dharma, a function of the water. But one who goes to the Ganges does not mind the foam and dirty things floating in the water. With his hand, he pushes away such nasty things, bathes in the Ganges and gains the beneficial results. Therefore, one who is situated in the spiritual status of life is unaffected by foam and garbage—or any superficial dirty things. This is confirmed by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī:
“A person acting in the service of Kṛṣṇa with his body, mind and words is a liberated person, even within the material world.” (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.187) Therefore, one is forbidden to regard the guru as an ordinary human being (guruṣu nara-matir. .. nārakī saḥ). The spiritual master, or ācārya, is always situated in the spiritual status of life. Birth, death, old age and disease do not affect him. According to the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa, therefore, after the disappearance of an ācārya, his body is never burnt to ashes, for it is a spiritual body. The spiritual body is always unaffected by material conditions.
tasmād bhadre sva-tanayān
mayā vyāpāditān api
mānuśoca yataḥ sarvaḥ
sva-kṛtaṁ vindate ’vaśaḥ
tasmāt—therefore; bhadre—my dear sister (all auspiciousness unto you); sva-tanayān—for your own sons; mayā—by me; vyāpāditān—unfortunately killed; api—although; anuśoca—do not be aggrieved; yataḥ—because; sarvaḥ—everyone; sva-kṛtam—the fruitive results of one’s own deeds; vindate—suffers or enjoys; avaśaḥ—under the control of providence.
My dear sister Devakī, all good fortune unto you. Everyone suffers and enjoys the results of his own work under the control of providence. Therefore, although your sons have unfortunately been killed by me, please do not lament for them.
As stated in the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.54):
Everyone, beginning from the small insect known as indra-gopa up to Indra, the King of the heavenly planets, is obliged to undergo the results of his fruitive activities. We may superficially see that one is suffering or enjoying because of some external causes, but the real cause is one’s own fruitive activities. Even when someone kills someone else, it is to be understood that the person who was killed met the fruitive results of his own work and that the man who killed him acted as the agent of material nature. Thus Kaṁsa begged Devakī’s pardon by analyzing the matter deeply. He was not the cause of the death of Devakī’s sons. Rather, this was their own destiny. Under the circumstances, Devakī should excuse Kaṁsa and forget his past deeds without lamentation. Kaṁsa admitted his own fault, but whatever he had done was under the control of providence. Kaṁsa might have been the immediate cause for the death of Devakī’s sons, but the remote cause was their past deeds. This was an actual fact.
yāvad dhato ’smi hantāsmī-
ty ātmānaṁ manyate ’sva-dṛk
tāvat tad-abhimāny ajño
bādhya-bādhakatām iyāt
yāvat—as long as; hataḥ asmi—I am now being killed (by others); hantā asmi—I am the killer (of others); iti—thus; ātmānam—own self; manyate—he considers; a-sva-dṛk—one who has not seen himself (because of the darkness of the bodily conception of life); tāvat—for that long; tat-abhimānī—regarding himself as the killed or the killer; ajñaḥ—a foolish person; bādhya-bādhakatām—the worldly transaction of being obliged to execute some responsibility; iyāt—continues.
In the bodily conception of life, one remains in darkness, without self-realization, thinking, “I am being killed” or “I have killed my enemies.” As long as a foolish person thus considers the self to be the killer or the killed, he continues to be responsible for material obligations, and consequently he suffers the reactions of happiness and distress.
By the grace of the Lord, Kaṁsa felt sincere regret for having unnecessarily persecuted such Vaiṣṇavas as Devakī and Vasudeva, and thus he came to the transcendental stage of knowledge. “Because I am situated on the platform of knowledge,” Kaṁsa said, “understanding that I am not at all the killer of your sons, I have no responsibility for their death. As long as I thought that I would be killed by your son, I was in ignorance, but now I am free from this ignorance, which was due to a bodily conception of life.” As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (18.17):
yasya nāhaṅkṛto bhāvo
buddhir yasya na lipyate
hatvāpi sa imāḹ lokān
na hanti na nibadhyate
“One who is not motivated by false ego, whose intelligence is not entangled, though he kills men in this world, is not the slayer. Nor is he bound by his actions.” According to this axiomatic truth, Kaṁsa pleaded that he was not responsible for having killed the sons of Devakī and Vasudeva. “Please try to excuse me for such false, external activities,” he said, “and be pacified with this same knowledge.”
kṣamadhvaṁ mama daurātmyaṁ
sādhavo dīna-vatsalāḥ
ity uktvāśru-mukhaḥ pādau
śyālaḥ svasror athāgrahīt
kṣamadhvam—kindly excuse; mama—my; daurātmyam—atrocious activities; sādhavaḥ—both of you are great saintly persons; dīna-vatsalāḥ—and are very kind to poor, cripple-minded persons; iti uktvā—saying this; aśru-mukhaḥ—his face full of tears; pādau—the feet; śyālaḥ—his brother-in-law Kaṁsa; svasraḥ—of his sister and brother-in-law; atha—thus; agrahīt—captured.
Kaṁsa begged, “My dear sister and brother-in-law, please be merciful to such a poor-hearted person as me, since both of you are saintly persons. Please excuse my atrocities.” Having said this, Kaṁsa fell at the feet of Vasudeva and Devakī, his eyes full of tears of regret.
Although Kaṁsa had spoken very nicely on the subject of real knowledge, his past deeds were abominable and atrocious, and therefore he further begged forgiveness from his sister and brother-in-law by falling at their feet and admitting that he was a most sinful person.
mocayām āsa nigaḍād
viśrabdhaḥ kanyakā-girā
devakīṁ vasudevaṁ ca
darśayann ātma-sauhṛdam
mocayām āsaKaṁsa released them; nigaḍāt—from their iron shackles; viśrabdhaḥ—with full confidence; kanyakā-girā—in the words of the goddess Durgā; devakīm—toward his sister Devakī; vasudevam ca—and his brother-in-law Vasudeva; darśayan—fully exhibiting; ātma-sauhṛdam—his family relationship.
Fully believing in the words of the goddess Durgā, Kaṁsa exhibited his familial affection for Devakī and Vasudeva by immediately releasing them from their iron shackles.
bhrātuḥ samanutaptasya
kṣānta-roṣā ca devakī
vyasṛjad vasudevaś ca
prahasya tam uvāca ha
bhrātuḥ—toward her brother Kaṁsa; samanutaptasya—because of his being regretful; kṣānta-roṣā—was relieved of anger; ca—also; devakī—Kṛṣṇa’s mother, Devakī; vyasṛjat—gave up; vasudevaḥ caVasudeva also; prahasya—smiling; tam—unto Kaṁsa; uvāca—said; ha—in the past.
When Devakī saw her brother actually repentant while explaining ordained events, she was relieved of all anger. Similarly, Vasudeva was also free from anger. Smiling, he spoke to Kaṁsa as follows.
Devakī and Vasudeva, both highly elevated personalities, accepted the truth presented by Kaṁsa that everything is ordained by providence. According to the prophecy, Kaṁsa would be killed by the eighth child of Devakī. Therefore, Vasudeva and Devakī saw that behind all these incidents was a great plan devised by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Because the Lord had already taken birth, just like a human child, and was in the safe custody of Yaśodā, everything was happening according to plan, and there was no need to continue their ill feeling toward Kaṁsa. Thus they accepted Kaṁsa’s words.
evam etan mahā-bhāga
yathā vadasi dehinām
sva-pareti bhidā yataḥ
evam—yes, this is right; etat—what you have said; mahā-bhāga—O great personality; yathā—as; vadasi—you are speaking; dehinām—about living entities (accepting material bodies); ajñāna-prabhavā—by the influence of ignorance; aham-dhīḥ—this is my interest (false ego); sva-parā iti—this is another’s interest; bhidā—differentiation; yataḥ—because of such a conception of life.
O great personality Kaṁsa, only by the influence of ignorance does one accept the material body and bodily ego. What you have said about this philosophy is correct. Persons in the bodily concept of life, lacking self-realization, differentiate in terms of “This is mine” and “This belongs to another.”
Everything is done automatically by the laws of nature, which work under the direction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is no question of doing anything independently, for one who has put himself in this material atmosphere is fully under the control of nature’s laws. Our main business, therefore, should be to get out of this conditioned life and again become situated in spiritual existence. Only due to ignorance does a person think, “I am a demigod,” “I am a human being,” “I am a dog,” “I am a cat,” or, when the ignorance is still further advanced, “I am God.” Unless one is fully self-realized, one’s life of ignorance will continue.
mitho ghnantaṁ na paśyanti
bhāvair bhāvaṁ pṛthag-dṛśaḥ
śoka—lamentation; harṣa—jubilation; bhaya—fear; dveṣa—envy; lobha—greed; moha—illusion; mada—madness; anvitāḥ—endowed with; mithaḥ—one another; ghnantam—engaged in killing; na paśyanti—do not see; bhāvaiḥ—because of such differentiation; bhāvam—the situation in relation to the Supreme Lord; pṛthak-dṛśaḥ—persons who see everything as separate from the control of the Lord.
Persons with the vision of differentiation are imbued with the material qualities lamentation, jubilation, fear, envy, greed, illusion and madness. They are influenced by the immediate cause, which they are busy counteracting, because they have no knowledge of the remote, supreme cause, the Personality of Godhead.
Kṛṣṇa is the cause of all causes (sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam [Bs. 5.1]), but one who has no connection with Kṛṣṇa is disturbed by immediate causes and cannot restrain his vision of separation or differences. When an expert physician treats a patient, he tries to find the original cause of the disease and is not diverted by the symptoms of that original cause. Similarly, a devotee is never disturbed by reverses in life. Tat te ’nukampāṁ susamīkṣamāṇaḥ (Bhāg. 10.14.8). A devotee understands that when he is in distress, this is due to his own past misdeeds, which are now accruing reactions, although by the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead these are only very slight. Karmāṇi nirdahati kintu ca bhakti-bhājām (Brahma-saṁhitā 5.54). When a devotee under the protection of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is to suffer because of faults in his past deeds, he passes through only a little misery by the grace of the Lord. Although the disease of a devotee is due to mistakes committed sometime in the past, he agrees to suffer and tolerate such miseries, and he depends fully on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus he is never affected by material conditions of lamentation, jubilation, fear and so on. A devotee never sees anything to be unconnected with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Śrīla Madhvācārya, quoting from the Bhaviṣya Purāṇa, says:
bhagavad-darśanād yasya
virodhād darśanaṁ pṛthak
pṛthag-dṛṣṭiḥ sa vijñeyo
na tu sad-bheda-darśanaḥ
śrī-śuka uvāca
kaṁsa evaṁ prasannābhyāṁ
viśuddhaṁ pratibhāṣitaḥ
anujñāto ’viśad gṛham
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; kaṁsaḥ—King Kaṁsa; evam—thus; prasannābhyām—who were very much appeased; viśuddham—in purity; pratibhāṣitaḥ—being answered; devakī-vasudevābhyām—by Devakī and Vasudeva; anujñātaḥ—taking permission; aviśat—entered; gṛham—his own palace.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: Thus having been addressed in purity by Devakī and Vasudeva, who were very much appeased, Kaṁsa felt pleased, and with their permission he entered his home.
tasyāṁ rātryāṁ vyatītāyāṁ
kaṁsa āhūya mantriṇaḥ
tebhya ācaṣṭa tat sarvaṁ
yad uktaṁ yoga-nidrayā
tasyām—that; rātryām—night; vyatītāyām—having passed; kaṁsaḥ—King Kaṁsa; āhūya—calling for; mantriṇaḥ—all the ministers; tebhyaḥ—them; ācaṣṭa—informed; tat—that; sarvam—all; yat uktam—which was spoken (that Kaṁsa’s murderer was already somewhere else); yoga-nidrayā—by Yogamāyā, the goddess Durgā.
After that night passed, Kaṁsa summoned his ministers and informed them of all that had been spoken by Yogamāyā [who had revealed that He who was to slay Kaṁsa had already been born somewhere else].
The Vedic scripture Caṇḍī describes māyā, the energy of the Supreme Lord, as nidrā: durgā devī sarva-bhūteṣu nidrā-rūpeṇa samāsthitaḥ. The energy of Yogamāyā and Mahāmāyā keeps the living entities sleeping in this material world in the great darkness of ignorance. Yogamāyā, the goddess Durgā, kept Kaṁsa in darkness about Kṛṣṇa’s birth and misled him to believe that his enemy Kṛṣṇa had been born elsewhere. Kṛṣṇa was born the son of Devakī, but according to the Lord’s original plan, as prophesied to Brahmā, He went to Vṛndāvana to give pleasure to mother Yaśodā and Nanda Mahārāja and other intimate friends and devotees for eleven years. Then He would return to kill Kaṁsa. Because Kaṁsa did not know this, he believed Yogamāyā’s statement that Kṛṣṇa was born elsewhere, not of Devakī.
ākarṇya bhartur gaditaṁ
tam ūcur deva-śatravaḥ
devān prati kṛtāmarṣā
daiteyā nāti-kovidāḥ
ākarṇya—after hearing; bhartuḥ—of their master; gaditam—the words or statement; tam ūcuḥ—replied to him; deva-śatravaḥ—all the asuras, who were enemies of the demigods; devān—the demigods; prati—toward; kṛta-amarṣāḥ—who were envious; daiteyāḥ—the asuras; na—not; ati-kovidāḥ—who were very expert in executing transactions.
After hearing their master’s statement, the envious asuras, who were enemies of the demigods and were not very expert in their dealings, advised Kaṁsa as follows.
There are two different types of men—the asuras and the suras.
Those who are devotees of Lord Viṣṇu, Kṛṣṇa, are suras, or devas, whereas those who are opposed to the devotees are called asuras. Devotees are expert in all transactions (yasyāsti bhaktir bhagavaty akiñcanā sarvair guṇais tatra samāsate surāḥ). Therefore they are called kovida, which means “expert.” Asuras, however, although superficially showing expertise in passionate activities, are actually all fools. They are neither sober nor expert. Whatever they do is imperfect. Moghāśā mogha-karmāṇaḥ. According to this description of the asuras given in Bhagavad-gītā (9.12), whatever they do will ultimately be baffled. It was such persons who advised Kaṁsa because they were his chief friends and ministers.
evaṁ cet tarhi bhojendra
anirdaśān nirdaśāṁś ca
haniṣyāmo ’dya vai śiśūn
evam—thus; cet—if it is so; tarhi—then; bhoja-indra—O King of Bhoja; pura-grāma-vraja-ādiṣu—in all the towns, villages and pasturing grounds; anirdaśān—those who are less than ten days old; nirdaśān ca—and those who are just over ten days old; haniṣyāmaḥ—we shall kill; adya—beginning from today; vai—indeed; śiśūn—all such children.
If this is so, O King of the Bhoja dynasty, beginning today we shall kill all the children born in all the villages, towns and pasturing grounds within the past ten days or slightly more.
kim udyamaiḥ kariṣyanti
devāḥ samara-bhīravaḥ
nityam udvigna-manaso
jyā-ghoṣair dhanuṣas tava
kim—what; udyamaiḥ—by their endeavors; kariṣyanti—will do; devāḥ—all the demigods; samara-bhīravaḥ—who are afraid of fighting; nityam—always; udvigna-manasaḥ—with agitated minds; jyā-ghoṣaiḥ—by the sound of the string; dhanuṣaḥ—of the bow; tava—your.
The demigods always fear the sound of your bowstring. They are constantly in anxiety, afraid of fighting. Therefore, what can they do by their endeavors to harm you?
asyatas te śara-vrātair
hanyamānāḥ samantataḥ
jijīviṣava utsṛjya
palāyana-parā yayuḥ
asyataḥ—pierced by your discharged arrows; te—your; śara-vrātaiḥ—by the multitude of arrows; hanyamānāḥ—being killed; samantataḥ—here and there; jijīviṣavaḥ—aspiring to live; utsṛjya—giving up the battlefield; palāyana-parāḥ—intent on escaping; yayuḥ—they fled (the fighting).
While being pierced by your arrows, which you discharged on all sides, some of them, who were injured by the multitude of arrows but who desired to live, fled the battlefield, intent on escaping.
kecit prāñjalayo dīnā
nyasta-śastrā divaukasaḥ
mukta-kaccha-śikhāḥ kecid
bhītāḥ sma iti vādinaḥ
kecit—some of them; prāñjalayaḥ—folded their hands just to please you; dīnāḥ—very poor; nyasta-śastrāḥ—being bereft of all weapons; divaukasaḥ—the demigods; mukta-kaccha-śikhāḥ—their garments and hair loosened and scattered; kecit—some of them; bhītāḥ—we are very much afraid; sma—so became; iti vādinaḥ—they spoke thus.
Defeated and bereft of all weapons, some of the demigods gave up fighting and praised you with folded hands, and some of them, appearing before you with loosened garments and hair, said, “O lord, we are very much afraid of you.”
na tvaṁ vismṛta-śastrāstrān
virathān bhaya-saṁvṛtān
haṁsy anyāsakta-vimukhān
bhagna-cāpān ayudhyataḥ
na—not; tvam—Your Majesty; vismṛta-śastra-astrān—those who have forgotten how to use weapons; virathān—without chariots; bhaya-saṁvṛtān—bewildered by fear; haṁsi—does kill; anya-āsakta-vimukhān—persons attached not to fighting but to some other subject matter; bhagna-cāpān—their bows broken; ayudhyataḥ—and thus not fighting.
When the demigods are bereft of their chariots, when they forget how to use weapons, when they are fearful or attached to something other than fighting, or when their bows are broken and they have thus lost the ability to fight, Your Majesty does not kill them.
There are principles that govern even fighting. If an enemy has no chariot, is unmindful of the fighting art because of fear, or is unwilling to fight, he is not to be killed. Kaṁsa’s ministers reminded Kaṁsa that despite his power, he was cognizant of the principles of fighting, and therefore he had excused the demigods because of their incapability. “But the present emergency,” the ministers said, “is not intended for such mercy or military etiquette. Now you should prepare to fight under any circumstances.” Thus they advised Kaṁsa to give up the traditional etiquette in fighting and chastise the enemy at any cost.
kiṁ kṣema-śūrair vibudhair
raho-juṣā kiṁ hariṇā
śambhunā vā vanaukasā
kim indreṇālpa-vīryeṇa
brahmaṇā vā tapasyatā
kim—what is there to fear; kṣema—in a place where there is a scarcity of the ability to fight; śūraiḥ—by the demigods; vibudhaiḥ—by such powerful persons; asaṁyuga-vikatthanaiḥ—by boasting and talking uselessly, away from the fighting; rahaḥ-juṣā—who is living in a solitary place within the core of the heart; kim hariṇā—what is the fear from Lord Viṣṇu; śambhunā—(and what is the fear) from Lord Śiva; —either; vana-okasā—who is living in the forest; kim indreṇa—what is the fear from Indra; alpa-vīryeṇa—he is not at all powerful (having no power to fight with you); brahmaṇā—and what is the fear from Brahmā; —either; tapasyatā—who is always engaged in meditation.
The demigods boast uselessly while away from the battlefield. Only where there is no fighting can they show their prowess. Therefore, from such demigods we have nothing to fear. As for Lord Viṣṇu, He is in seclusion in the core of the hearts of the yogīs. As for Lord Śiva, he has gone to the forest. And as for Lord Brahmā, he is always engaged in austerities and meditation. The other demigods, headed by Indra, are devoid of prowess. Therefore you have nothing to fear.
Kaṁsa’s ministers told Kaṁsa that all the exalted demigods had fled in fear of him. One had gone to the forest, one to the core of the heart, and one to engage in tapasya. “Thus you can be free from all fear of the demigods,” they said. “Just prepare to fight.”
tathāpi devāḥ sāpatnyān
nopekṣyā iti manmahe
tatas tan-mūla-khanane
niyuṅkṣvāsmān anuvratān
tathā api—still; devāḥ—the demigods; sāpatnyāt—due to enmity; na upekṣyāḥ—should not be neglected; iti manmahe—this is our opinion; tataḥ—therefore; tat-mūla-khanane—to uproot them completely; niyuṅkṣva—engage; asmān—us; anuvratān—who are ready to follow you.
Nonetheless, because of their enmity, our opinion is that the demigods should not be neglected. Therefore, to uproot them completely, engage us in fighting with them, for we are ready to follow you.
According to moral instructions, one should not neglect to extinguish fire completely, treat diseases completely, and clear debts completely. Otherwise they will increase and later be difficult to stop. Therefore the ministers advised Kaṁsa to uproot his enemies completely.
yathāmayo ’ṅge samupekṣito nṛbhir
na śakyate rūḍha-padaś cikitsitum
yathendriya-grāma upekṣitas tathā
ripur mahān baddha-balo na cālyate
yathā—as; āmayaḥ—a disease; aṅge—in the body; samupekṣitaḥ—being neglected; nṛbhiḥ—by men; na—not; śakyate—is able; rūḍha-padaḥ—when it is acute; cikitsitum—to be treated; yathā—and as; indriya-grāmaḥ—the senses; upekṣitaḥ—not controlled in the beginning; tathā—similarly; ripuḥ mahān—a great enemy; baddha-balaḥ—if he becomes strong; na—not; cālyate—can be controlled.
As a disease, if initially neglected, becomes acute and impossible to cure, or as the senses, if not controlled at first, are impossible to control later, an enemy, if neglected in the beginning, later becomes insurmountable.
mūlaṁ hi viṣṇur devānāṁ
yatra dharmaḥ sanātanaḥ
tasya ca brahma-go-viprās
tapo yajñāḥ sa-dakṣiṇāḥ
mūlam—the foundation; hi—indeed; viṣṇuḥ—is Lord Viṣṇu; devānām—of the demigods; yatra—wherein; dharmaḥ—religious principles; sanātanaḥ—traditional or eternal; tasya—of this (foundation); ca—also; brahma—brahminical civilization; go—cow protection; viprāḥbrāhmaṇas; tapaḥ—austerity; yajñāḥ—performing sacrifices; sa-dakṣiṇāḥ—with proper remuneration.
The foundation of all the demigods is Lord Viṣṇu, who lives and is worshiped wherever there are religious principles, traditional culture, the Vedas, cows, brāhmaṇas, austerities, and sacrifices with proper remuneration.
Here is a description of sanātana-dharma, eternal religious principles, which must include brahminical culture, brāhmaṇas, sacrifices and religion. These principles establish the kingdom of Viṣṇu. Without the kingdom of Viṣṇu, the kingdom of God, no one can be happy. Na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇum: [SB 7.5.31] in this demoniac civilization, people unfortunately do not understand that the self-interest of human society lies in Viṣṇu. Durāśayā ye bahir-artha-māninaḥ: thus they are involved in a hopeless hope. People want to be happy without God consciousness, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, because they are led by blind leaders who lead human society to chaos. The asuric adherents of Kaṁsa wanted to disrupt the traditional condition of human happiness and thus defeat the devatās, the devotees and demigods. Unless the devotees and demigods predominate, the asuras will increase, and human society will be in a chaotic condition.
tasmāt sarvātmanā rājan
brāhmaṇān brahma-vādinaḥ
tapasvino yajña-śīlān
gāś ca hanmo havir-dughāḥ
tasmāt—therefore; sarva-ātmanā—in every respect; rājan—O King; brāhmaṇān—the brāhmaṇas; brahma-vādinaḥ—who maintain the brahminical culture, centered around Viṣṇu; tapasvinaḥ—persons who are engaged in austerities; yajña-śīlān—persons engaged in offering sacrifices; gāḥ ca—cows and persons engaged in protecting cows; hanmaḥ—we shall kill; haviḥ-dughāḥ—because they supply milk, from which clarified butter is obtained for the offering of sacrifice.
O King, we, who are your adherents in all respects, shall therefore kill the Vedic brāhmaṇas, the persons engaged in offering sacrifices and austerities, and the cows that supply milk, from which clarified butter is obtained for the ingredients of sacrifice.
viprā gāvaś ca vedāś ca
tapaḥ satyaṁ damaḥ śamaḥ
śraddhā dayā titikṣā ca
kratavaś ca hares tanūḥ
viprāḥ—the brāhmaṇas; gāvaḥ ca—and the cows; vedāḥ ca—and the Vedic knowledge; tapaḥ—austerity; satyam—truthfulness; damaḥ—control of the senses; śamaḥ—control of the mind; śraddhā—faith; dayā—mercy; titikṣā—tolerance; ca—also; kratavaḥ ca—as well as sacrifices; hareḥ tanūḥ—are the different parts of the body of Lord Viṣṇu.
The brāhmaṇas, the cows, Vedic knowledge, austerity, truthfulness, control of the mind and senses, faith, mercy, tolerance and sacrifice are the different parts of the body of Lord Viṣṇu, and they are the paraphernalia for a godly civilization.
When we offer our obeisances to the Personality of Godhead, we say:
When Kṛṣṇa comes to establish real perfection in the social order, He personally gives protection to the cows and the brāhmaṇas (go-brāhmaṇa-hitāya ca). This is His first interest because without protection of the brāhmaṇas and the cows, there can be no human civilization and no question of happy, peaceful life. Asuras, therefore, are always interested in killing the brāhmaṇas and cows. Especially in this age, Kali-yuga, cows are being killed all over the world, and as soon as there is a movement to establish brahminical civilization, people in general rebel. Thus they regard the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement as a form of “brainwashing.” How can such envious persons be happy in their godless civilization? The Supreme Personality of Godhead punishes them by keeping them in darkness, birth after birth, and pushing them lower and lower into wretched conditions of hellish life. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement has started a brahminical civilization, but especially when it is introduced in the Western countries, the asuras try to impede it in many ways. Nonetheless, we must push forward this movement tolerantly for the benefit of human society.
sa hi sarva-surādhyakṣo
hy asura-dviḍ guhā-śayaḥ
tan-mūlā devatāḥ sarvāḥ
seśvarāḥ sa-catur-mukhāḥ
ayaṁ vai tad-vadhopāyo
yad ṛṣīṇāṁ vihiṁsanam
saḥ—He (Lord Viṣṇu); hi—indeed; sarva-sura-adhyakṣaḥ—the leader of all the demigods; hi—indeed; asura-dviṭ—the enemy of the asuras; guhā-śayaḥ—He is the Supersoul within the core of everyone’s heart; tat-mūlāḥ—taking shelter at His lotus feet; devatāḥ—the demigods exist; sarvāḥ—all of them; sa-īśvarāḥ—including Lord Śiva; sa-catuḥ-mukhāḥ—as well as Lord Brahmā, who has four faces; ayam—this is; vai—indeed; tat-vadha-upāyaḥ—the only means of killing Him (Viṣṇu); yat—which; ṛṣīṇām—of great sages, saintly persons, or Vaiṣṇavas; vihiṁsanam—suppression with all kinds of persecution.
Lord Viṣṇu, the Supersoul within the core of everyone’s heart, is the ultimate enemy of the asuras and is therefore known as asura-dviṭ. He is the leader of all the demigods because all the demigods, including Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā, exist under His protection. The great saintly persons, sages and Vaiṣṇavas also depend upon Him. To persecute the Vaiṣṇavas, therefore, is the only way to kill Viṣṇu.
The demigods and the Vaiṣṇavas especially are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu, because they are always obedient to His orders (oṁ tad viṣṇoḥ paramaṁ padaṁ sadā paśyanti sūrayaḥ). The demoniac followers of Kaṁsa thought that if the Vaiṣṇavas, saintly persons and sages were persecuted, the original body of Viṣṇu would naturally be destroyed. Thus they decided to suppress Vaiṣṇavism. The asuras perpetually struggle to persecute the Vaiṣṇavas because they do not want Vaiṣṇavism to spread. Vaiṣṇavas preach only devotional service, not encouraging karmīs, jñānīs and yogīs, because if one must liberate oneself from material, conditional life, one must ultimately become a Vaiṣṇava. Our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is directed with this understanding, and therefore the asuras always try to suppress it.
śrī-śuka uvāca
evaṁ durmantribhiḥ kaṁsaḥ
saha sammantrya durmatiḥ
brahma-hiṁsāṁ hitaṁ mene
kāla-pāśāvṛto ’suraḥ
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; evam—in this way; durmantribhiḥ—his bad ministers; kaṁsaḥ—King Kaṁsa; saha—along with; sammantrya—after considering very elaborately; durmatiḥ—without good intelligence; brahma-hiṁsām—persecution of the brāhmaṇas; hitam—as the best way; mene—accepted; kāla-pāśa-āvṛtaḥ—being bound by the rules and regulations of Yamarāja; asuraḥ—because he was a demon.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: Thus, having considered the instructions of his bad ministers, Kaṁsa, who was bound by the laws of Yamarāja and devoid of good intelligence because he was a demon, decided to persecute the saintly persons, the brāhmaṇas, as the only way to achieve his own good fortune.
Śrīla Locana dāsa Ṭhākura has sung, āpana karama, bhuñjāye śamana, kahaye locana dāsa. Instead of taking good instructions from the sages and the śāstras, godless nondevotees act whimsically, according to their own plans. Actually, however, no one has his own plans because everyone is bound by the laws of nature and must act according to his tendency in material, conditional life. Therefore one must change one’s own decision and follow the decision of Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa’s devotees. Then one is rescued from punishment by Yamarāja. Kaṁsa was not uneducated. It appears from his talks with Vasudeva and Devakī that he knew all about the laws of nature. But because of his association with bad ministers, he could not make a clear decision about his welfare. Therefore the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.54) says:
’sādhu-saṅga,’ ’sādhu-saṅga’——sarva-śāstre kaya
lava-mātra sādhu-saśge sarva-siddhi haya
If one desires his real welfare, he must associate with devotees and saintly persons and in this way rectify the material condition of his life.
sandiśya sādhu-lokasya
kadane kadana-priyān
kāma-rūpa-dharān dikṣu
dānavān gṛham āviśat
sandiśya—after giving permission; sādhu-lokasya—of the saintly persons; kadane—in persecution; kadana-priyān—to the demons, who were very expert at persecuting others; kāma-rūpa-dharān—who could assume any form, according to their own desire; dikṣu—in all directions; dānavān—to the demons; gṛham āviśatKaṁsa entered his own palace.
These demons, the followers of Kaṁsa, were expert at persecuting others, especially the Vaiṣṇavas, and could assume any form they desired. After giving these demons permission to go everywhere and persecute the saintly persons, Kaṁsa entered his palace.
te vai rajaḥ-prakṛtayas
tamasā mūḍha-cetasaḥ
satāṁ vidveṣam ācerur
ārād āgata-mṛtyavaḥ
te—all the asuric ministers; vai—indeed; rajaḥ-prakṛtayaḥ—surcharged with the mode of passion; tamasā—overwhelmed by the mode of ignorance; mūḍha-cetasaḥ—foolish persons; satām—of saintly persons; vidveṣam—persecution; āceruḥ—executed; ārāt āgata-mṛtya-vaḥ—impending death having already overtaken them.
Surcharged with passion and ignorance and not knowing what was good or bad for them, the asuras, for whom impending death was waiting, began the persecution of the saintly persons.
As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (2.13):
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” Irresponsible persons, surcharged with passion and ignorance, foolishly do things that are not to be done (nūnaṁ pramattaḥ kurute vikarma [SB 5.5.4]). But one should know the results of irresponsible actions, as explained in the next verse.
āyuḥ śriyaṁ yaśo dharmaṁ
lokān āśiṣa eva ca
hanti śreyāṁsi sarvāṇi
puṁso mahad-atikramaḥ
āyuḥ—the duration of life; śriyam—beauty; yaśaḥ—fame; dharmam—religion; lokān—elevation to higher planets; āśiṣaḥ—blessings; eva—indeed; ca—also; hanti—destroys; śreyāṁsi—benedictions; sarvāṇi—all; puṁsaḥ—of a person; mahat-atikramaḥ—trespassing against great personalities.
My dear King, when a man persecutes great souls, all his benedictions of longevity, beauty, fame, religion, blessings and promotion to higher planets will be destroyed.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Tenth Canto, Fourth Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled “The Atrocities of King Kaṁsa.”

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