“The procession was passing very pleasingly, and Kamsa was driving the chariot, when suddenly there was a miraculous sound vibrated from the sky which especially announced to Kamsa: ‘Kamsa: you are such a fool. You are driving the chariot of your sister and your brother-in-law, but you do not know that the eighth child of this sister will kill you.’” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 1)
A deadly omen. A voice from the sky. Akasha-vani. Vedic literature describes several such incidents. They seem impossible to believe, but saints like Valmiki and Vyasadeva are not interested in fiction. The real-life drama unfolding before their transcendental vision is sufficient material to include in their beautiful Sanskrit poetry.
This voice had a warning. Kamsa should be careful with how to proceed. He was in the process of escorting his sister to the home of her new family. Not just marrying the husband, she would be with in-laws; a whole new world. All by herself, so it is a nice tradition that the brother accompanies on the first trip; a way to make the transition easier.
The warning to Kamsa was that Devaki’s eighth child would kill him. She was newly married, so based on the laws of science it would be many years before that eighth child would arrive, but Kamsa did not take chances. He ultimately decided to imprison the new couple, and for this he could have used several arguments as justification.
“It’s easy for you to say to just let it go. The message wasn’t for you, was it? The person in the sky was talking about me. My death. The end of my life. It is easy for you to judge, but how could you possibly understand? I am living this life right now. My foremost obligation is to protect it.”
2. The interests of the kingdom
“The people need me. It is not like I am in a meaningless job. A king cannot be easily replaced. The citizens require a leader. The person at the top has to be strong and courageous. They cannot live in fear. How could I possibly rule in peace knowing that death is lurking around the corner? Moreover, there is something I can do right now to stop it. There is a way to mitigate. A little inconvenience for others. Sacrificing for the common good.”
3. The potential to kill others
“You people fail to see the long-term implications. If this eighth child is supposed to kill, who is to say that he won’t kill others, as well? Why would he stop at me? Remember, he will be responsible for his uncle’s death. That is someone within the family. The sin increases many times. After such a heinous crime, why would the child suddenly stop? Where is the guarantee that he will leave other innocent people alone?”
4. The advice from Narada Muni
“Narada Muni warned me. I was compassionate at first. Please remember that. Vasudeva offered up the first child, and I sent him back. There was no reason to worry. But then Narada Muni came to talk sense into me. He said that the demigods were already appearing elsewhere. This means that the arrival of the angel of death was imminent. I was forced to take action.”
“Narada warned Kamsa to be careful of the friends and well-wishers and all the demigods taking birth in those families. Kamsa and his friends and advisors were all demons. Demons are always afraid of demigods. After being thus informed by Narada about the appearance of the demigods in different families, Kamsa at once became alert.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 1)
In this way, we see that a person of the asura mentality can find many ways to justify sinful behavior. This was a case of false imprisonment of his sister. This was killing infants as soon as they were born. None of the justifications were sufficient. Only an asura would value his life over others in such a way.
Details of this story come from the Shrimad Bhagavatam. That work is predicated on a similar predicament. The king named Parikshit learns that he has a certain number of days to live. Rather than take to sinful life, he immediately abandons the throne and takes a seat on the banks of the Yamuna River.
The purpose is to hear the Bhagavata Purana from Shukadeva Gosvami. Everything else would take care of itself. Hearing about the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His pastimes is more important than taking to abominable behavior to preserve life. That life is destined to end, but infinite happiness can extend through the shelter of Shri Krishna, who would arrive and fulfill the destiny for the king of Mathura.
That life eventually to end,
But way for bliss to extend.
Like Parikshit sitting to hear,
Not over demise imminent fear.
Kamsa justifying in many ways,
These games the asura plays.
But good reason none,
And destiny still to come.
Categories: the four