“The innocent cowherd women thought that she was a goddess of fortune appearing in Vrindavana with a lotus flower in her hand. It seemed to them that she had personally come to see Krishna, who is her husband. Because of her exquisite beauty, no one checked her movement, and therefore she freely entered the house of Nanda Maharaja.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 6)
Husband: I was reading about the pastime with the witch named Putana again.
Wife: That’s great. Did you like it?
Husband: I always like it. It seems that every time I read it, I gain a different perspective.
Wife: Krishna’s pastimes are like that. It’s another way to know that He is God. He is truly unlimited. He is beyond our comprehension, yet He acts in ways that increase our knowledge and appreciation of Him.
Husband: All true, but you know I have a few issues to raise.
Wife: Don’t you always? I can’t wait to hear this. I’m sure this will not be like any other viewpoint I’ve heard yet.
Husband: You might get mad at me for this one. I’m just warning you.
Wife: Okay. It better not be offensive. I will not tolerate that.
Husband: If I border on that, then stop me. Still, I think these questions are worth asking.
Wife: Alright. This is what I get for giving you that book. You always have to be difficult. Go ahead.
Husband: Okay. Now it says that Putana was this amazingly beautiful woman. She absolutely enchanted everyone when she came to Gokula, the home where baby Krishna was staying.
Wife: That’s correct. This is one ability of the Rakshasas, the demons who are mired in the mode of ignorance. They can change their shape at will. Being ordered by Kamsa, the king of Mathura who wanted Krishna killed, Putana transformed into a beautiful woman and headed towards the home of Nanda Maharaja and mother Yashoda.
Husband: Alright, I’m glad you mentioned Yashoda. She is a loving mother. Krishna just appeared to her. Yashoda gave birth to a child, but she wasn’t sure about its gender immediately due to the exhaustion from labor. Vasudeva transferred Krishna, the Supreme Lord, to Gokula and placed Him in Yashoda’s care. He took with him the girl who was born to Yashoda.
Wife: Right. Nanda and Yashoda were foster parents. Vasudeva didn’t want Kamsa to kill Krishna, which he would have attempted if Krishna stayed in the jail cell in Mathura. Can you tell me your first question already? I have to start on dinner soon.
Husband: Oh, what are you making? Macaroni and cheese?
Wife: It will be brussel sprouts and water if you don’t hurry up.
Husband: Okay. If Yashoda is such a loving mother, how could she let Putana enter the home? Putana is a stranger. Though she was so beautiful, that doesn’t mean the mother should drop her attention on her son. Also, Putana came to feed breast milk to Krishna. Isn’t that a little weird? What kind of mother allows someone else to feed their child that way?
Wife: Wow. Yeah, I must say I’ve never heard this line of inquiry before. You never cease to amaze me. You realize that this is Gokula-Vrindavana, right? You understand how wonderful all the people there are, right?
Husband: Sure, of course. But does that mean that you would let a stranger come to your home? Would you let someone you didn’t know come and feed our son when he was a baby? I don’t think so.
Wife: This is a different time. We are all suspicious of one another. We’re not pure in our habits. The type of community in Gokula at that time can’t be found anywhere right now. People weren’t suspicious of one another. They all spontaneously loved Krishna. He was basically everyone’s child, though He lived in Yashoda’s home. Though she carried Him in her arms, everyone carried Him in their hearts. Everyone was so innocent; hence there was no suspicion. This is what happens in the spiritual world. There is no envy of the kind that we know.
Husband: I see. So it was because of her innocent nature that Yashoda allowed Putana to walk in? Fine, I can accept that. It was a different time.
Wife: What’s your next question? I know you’re going to try to top yourself in ridiculousness.
Husband: We know what happened next. Putana put poison on her breasts and fed Krishna. Yet instead of Krishna dying, it was Putana who did. Krishna sucked the very life out of her. When she realized what was happening, she pleaded for help. She wanted Krishna to stop. Yet He didn’t. Eventually the witch revealed her true form, which was gigantic. Finally, she died, with her falling body creating a terrifying sound as it hit the ground.
Wife: Yes. Isn’t Krishna so nice? He gives liberation even to His enemies. Since she thought of Him at the time of death, Putana was liberated.
Husband: Okay, fine, but shouldn’t Krishna have let go when Putana started crying for help? Isn’t God all-merciful? Shouldn’t He have forgiven her? After all, Putana was in the mode of ignorance. She did not know any better. Why did she deserve to get punished like that? Doesn’t it show that Krishna is mean?
Wife: Wow, once again you’ve entered the realm of absurdity. You understand why Putana was there, don’t you?
Husband: Yes. To kill Krishna.
Wife: Who was how old?
Husband: Still an infant.
Wife: And you know that she had done something like this before, right?
Husband: Yeah? Oh, I guess that’s pretty bad then.
Wife: Pretty bad? Even if this was her first attempt, she still carried through with her plan. It’s not like she had a change of heart at the last second. The truly demoniac never learn their lesson. So if Krishna had pardoned her, she would have tried again some other day. Actually, by sucking the life out of her, Krishna showed her tremendous kindness. People would be lined up for days and months to get the same benediction if they knew it were available. To be killed directly by God is a great boon.
Husband: I see. I guess you’re right. I didn’t think of it that way.
Wife: Sometimes you have to carry out justice. There is no other way. It may not be pretty, and you may be well aware that the person committing the crime is not of sound mind, but you can’t worry about that. You have to protect the people. That’s what Krishna does, and the people love Him even more because of it. Even after this happened to Putana, Kamsa did not learn his lesson. That is more proof for you.
Husband: What do you mean? Don’t ruin the story for me!
Wife: You know all of this anyway. Kamsa kept sending more demons to kill Krishna. That shows you that the true enemies of God will never learn their lesson. Krishna continues to baffle them, which makes the devotees even happier. It’s always a win-win.
Putana to home coming to feed,
But for another mother what need?
When caught called for Krishna to stop,
But to suck life from her not to drop.
In first instance Lord not for mother alone,
Each thinking He was child their own.
And pardon to do nothing for the witch,
Demoniac of steady mind, never to switch.