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Shreemad Bhagavatam

Chapter Four

The Atrocities of King Kamsa

1. Sukadeva Gosvami continued: My dear King Pariksit, 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.

2. Thereafter, all the watchmen very quickly approached King Kamsa, the ruler of the Bhoja dynasty, and submitted the news of the birth of Devaki’s child. Kamsa, who had awaited this news very anxiously, immediately took action.

3. Kamsa immediately got up from bed, thinking, “Here is Kala, the supreme time factor, which has taken birth to kill me!” Thus overwhelmed, Kamsa, his hair scattered on his head, at once approached the place where the child had been born.

4. Devaki helplessly, piteously appealed to Kamsa: 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.


5. 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.

6. 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.

7. Sukadeva Gosvami continued: piteously embracing her daughter and crying, Devaki begged Kamsa for the child, but he was so cruel that he chastised her and forcibly snatched the child from her hands.

8. Having uprooted all relationships with his sister because of intense selfishness, Kamsa, who was sitting on his knees, grasped the newborn child by the legs and tried to dash her against the surface of a stone.

9. The child, Yogamaya-devi, the younger sister of Lord Visnu, slipped upward from Kamsa’s hands and appeared in the sky as Devi, the goddess Durga, with eight arms, completely equipped with weapons.

10-11. The goddess Durga 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 Apsaras, Kinnaras, Uragas, Siddhas, Caranas and Gandharvas, who worshiped her with all kinds of presentations, she spoke as follows.

12. O Kamsa, 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.

13. After speaking to Kamsa in this way, the goddess Durga, Yogamaya, appeared in different places, such as Varanasi, and became celebrated by different names, such as Annapurna, Durga, Kali and Bhadra.

14. After hearing the words of the goddess Durga, Kamsa was struck with wonder. Thus he approached his sister Devaki and brother-in-law Vasudeva, released them immediately from their shackles, and very humbly spoke as follows.

15. Alas, my sister! Alas, my brother-in-law! I am indeed so sinful that exactly like a man-eater [Raksasa] who eats his own child, I have killed so many sons born of you.

16. Being merciless and cruel, I have forsaken all my relatives and friends. Therefore, like a person who has killed a brahmana, I do not know to which planet I shall go, either after death or while breathing.

17. 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.

18. 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.

19. 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 hanyamansarire].

20. One who does not understand the constitutional position of the body and the soul [atma] 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.]

21. My dear sister Devaki, 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.

22. 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.

23. Kamsa 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, Kamsa fell at the feet of Vasudeva and Devaki, his eyes full of tears of regret.

24. Fully believing in the words of the goddess Durga, Kamsa exhibited his familial affection for Devaki and Vasudeva by immediately releasing them from their iron shackles.

25. When Devaki 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 Kamsa as follows.

26. O great personality Kamsa, 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.”

27. 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.

28. Sukadeva Gosvami continued: Thus having been addressed in purity by Devaki and Vasudeva, who were very much appeased, Kamsa felt pleased, and with their permission he entered his home.

29. After that night passed, Kamsa summoned his ministers and informed them of all that had been spoken by Yogamaya [who had revealed that He who was to slay Kamsa had already been born somewhere else].

30. After hearing their master’s statement, the envious asuras, who were enemies of the demigods and were not very expert in their dealings, advised Kamsa as follows.

31. 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.

32. 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?

33. 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.

34. 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.”

35. 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.

36. 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 Visnu, He is in seclusion in the core of the hearts of the yogis. As for Lord Siva, he has gone to the forest. And as for Lord Brahma, he is always engaged in austerities and meditation. The other demigods, headed by Indra, are devoid of prowess. Therefore you have nothing to fear.

37. 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.

38. 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.

39. The foundation of all the demigods is Lord Visnu, who lives and is worshiped wherever there are religious principles, traditional culture, the Vedas, cows, brahmanas, austerities, and sacrifices with proper remuneration.

40. O King, we, who are your adherents in all respects, shall therefore kill the Vedic brahmanas, 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.

41. The brahmanas, 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 Visnu, and they are the paraphernalia for a godly civilization.

42. Lord Visnu, the Supersoul within the core of everyone’s heart, is the ultimate enemy of the asuras and is therefore known as asura-dvit. He is the leader of all the demigods because all the demigods, including Lord Siva and Lord Brahma, exist under His protection. The great saintly persons, sages and Vaisnavas also depend upon Him. To persecute the Vaisnavas, therefore, is the only way to kill Visnu.

43. Sukadeva Gosvami continued: Thus, having considered the instructions of his bad ministers, Kamsa, who was bound by the laws of Yamaraja and devoid of good intelligence because he was a demon, decided to persecute the saintly persons, the brahmanas, as the only way to achieve his own good fortune.

44. These demons, the followers of Kamsa, were expert at persecuting others, especially the Vaisnavas, and could assume any form they desired. After giving these demons permission to go everywhere and persecute the saintly persons, Kamsa entered his palace.

45. 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.
46. 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.

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