“It is quite natural for a devotee in danger to think of Krishna because he has no other shelter. When a child is in danger, he takes shelter of his mother or father. Similarly, a devotee is always under the shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but when he specifically sees some danger, he remembers the Lord very rapidly.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 6)
Nanda Maharaja, the foster father of Lord Krishna, was returning home from a meeting with Vasudeva, Krishna’s birth father. During this meeting, Vasudeva warned Nanda about potential dangers lurking around the corner in Vrindavana. Vasudeva lived in Mathura and Nanda Maharaja in Gokula Vrindavana. After Krishna’s birth, the Lord was transferred to Vrindavana, where His care was entrusted to Nanda Maharaja and Mother Yashoda. This was done at Mother Devaki’s request so as to keep her newborn child protected from her brother Kamsa, the King of Mathura. Kamsa had vowed to kill Devaki’s eighth son since it was previously prophesized that this son would be his angel of death, the person who would kill him.
Who is Krishna? When did these events take place? In India, these incidents are well-known to most people. The life and pastimes of Krishna, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Ramachandra are known to almost every citizen, regardless of their personal background or religious faith. Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead, the person we naturally look to in times of trouble. Some of us may approach this Supreme Personality through His title as “God” or we may simply look to the sky when we are in trouble, but the Vedas give us information as to this divine figure’s name and form. Since God can take many forms, His original form is known as the fountainhead of all other forms. The original fountainhead is known as Krishna, and due to His numberless expansions, He can also be addressed as Vishnu, Rama, Narasimha, or even more generically as God.
God is the supreme protector, the person we look to for help during times of trouble. This interaction between the distressed individuals and the Supreme Lord is not coerced or taught. Even those who claim to be agnostic or atheist have a tendency to approach God from time to time. The reason for this natural proclivity towards recognizing a supreme authority can be traced to the fallible nature of man. Unlike God, man has the propensity to cheat, to commit mistakes, to be easily illusioned, and to have imperfect senses. These defects lead them into trouble, to places where they don’t want to go and worse, places where they don’t know how they ended up. In order for the concept of fallibility to exist, there must be something which is infallible. If there were no infallible entity, then fallibility itself would have no meaning. Since the mind is incapable of conceiving of the nature and appearance of that one infallible entity, people often refer to this person as God.
Vedic tradition tells us that God does have a name, form, and pastimes. Moreover, in order to prove His existence and give pleasure to the sincere seekers of His protection, the supreme divine figure appears on earth from time to time. One of His most famous appearances occurred around five thousand years ago when the fountainhead of all forms of God, Lord Shri Krishna Himself, descended to earth in the city of Mathura. Appearing as the son of Mother Devaki and Vasudeva, Krishna was born in a jail cell. Since Kamsa was eagerly awaiting the birth of Devaki’s eighth son, he had locked up his sister and her husband. Because He came to kill Kamsa, Krishna wanted to remain in Mathura, but His parents were afraid of Kamsa coming to kill their child, as he had done to their previous seven children. In order to allay their fears, Krishna instructed Vasudeva to transfer Him to Vrindavana so that Kamsa would be unaware of His birth.
One of God’s features is that He is highly effulgent, maha-tejah. This effulgence manifests not only on the transcendental body of the Lord, but also through His activities and the activities of those intimately associated with Him. Therefore even though Krishna was transferred to Gokula, word of His birth spread to Mathura and eventually to Kamsa. A short while after Krishna’s transfer, Nanda Maharaja, who was a cowherd by trade, came to Mathura to pay taxes. At this time, he met up with Vasudeva, who then eagerly inquired about Krishna’s welfare. Vasudeva knew that Kamsa had many tricks up his sleeve in relation to killing Krishna, so he made sure to warn Nanda about potential dangers coming to Vrindavana and the neighboring areas.
As Nanda was travelling back home, he started to think about Vasudeva’s words. At this time, he immediately took shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as would any pious soul who was faced with similar danger. Luckily for Nanda, God Himself was living in his house as a young child. Kamsa would indeed send many dangerous demons to Vrindavana to kill Krishna. These demons were very powerful and ghastly looking. They could assume any shape at will; they could take on a false guise and lull the innocent residents of Vrindavana into a false sense of security. Their task was to kill a small child, so they didn’t think they’d have any trouble in this regard. They thought wrong.
Krishna spent over one hundred years on earth, but His transcendental activities performed in Vrindavana are what are most celebrated to this day. Even as an infant, His feats of strength and fighting capabilities were legendary. Kamsa sent demon after demon to Vrindavana, but somehow they all ended up being killed. Even the residents of Vrindavana couldn’t understand it. They thought that maybe Lord Vishnu, Krishna’s plenary expansion who resides in the spiritual world, was protecting baby Krishna from all these calamities. Vishnu worship is considered the topmost Vedic discipline, a tradition which continues to this day. Vishnu is essentially Krishna’s form possessing excessive opulence. Since it is the natural propensity of the living entity to subordinate themselves in the presence of God, the Supreme Lord kindly takes on a form which is conducive towards the offering of such reverential worship.
Though God can be worshiped in other ways, including through other forms, the worship of Krishna is considered topmost because it involves the exchange of pure love. This love is offered through different transcendental mellows, or rasas. Just as our family members offer their love to us in different ways, so the living entities, being part of the biggest family in the world, offer their services to the Supreme Lord in different moods such as friendship, paternal affection, and even conjugal love. Of all the different religious practices, or ways of connecting with Krishna, hearing is considered the most important because through hearing about Krishna, one rekindles their dormant love for Him. It is for this reason that stories relating to Krishna’s life on earth have been heard by generations of devotees for thousands of years.
In order for there to be a strong tradition of hearing, there must be something tangible to hear about. What better subject to hear about than Krishna’s activities relating to the thwarting of attacks from demons? This subject matter should appeal to every single person since everyone tends to turn to God when they are in trouble. Krishna’s interactions with the demons prove that when the sincere souls look to God for protection, the Lord kindly provides it. The idea of God protecting the innocent is not simply a pipe dream or part of some mythology. Krishna’s activities prove that His promises aren’t empty.
In the modern age, things like movies, music, and technological gadgets are sold and talked about by people around the world. This means that even the Vedic traditions are now being disseminated on a global scale. In order to benefit the millions of people around the world who’ve never heard about Krishna, sincere devotees are taking great effort to present Krishna to the masses in a way that fosters their natural attachment to God. Recently a television series was run in India called Little Krishna. This series focused on the wonderful activities performed by Krishna during His youth in Vrindavana, with special attention given to the protection He provided against the attacks of Kamsa’s demons. The series was very nicely done and is now available on DVD for people around the world to watch.
“Give up all varieties of religiousness, and just surrender unto Me; and in return I shall protect you from all sinful reactions. Therefore, you have nothing to fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.66)
The lesson here is that everyone should take advantage of hearing about Krishna. This hearing should take place all the time, regardless of whether we are happy, sad, distressed, or in fear. If we are in fear of something, it makes it even more important to take shelter of the Lord. Krishna proved Himself to be the legendary warrior, the one person who could provide unflinching protection to anyone. This promise of protection continues to this day, so anyone who is wise enough to seek shelter of the Supreme Lord through hearing about His transcendental activities will surely be benefitted.