“While Vasudeva was carrying his son Krishna in the falling rain, Lord Shesha in the shape of a serpent spread His hood over the head of Vasudeva so that he would not be hampered by the rainfall. Vasudeva came onto the bank of the Yamuna and saw that the water of the Yamuna was roaring with waves and that the whole span was full of foam. Still, in that furious feature, the river gave passage to Vasudeva to cross, just as the great Indian Ocean gave a path to Lord Rama when He was bridging over the gulf.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 3)
Kamsa had his plan. He was no different than others in this regard. Think of the immediate future, and also the days ahead. There was already sufficient enjoyment. Plenty of wealth. Control over the people. His word was final.
Kamsa was the king of Mathura. If he made plans to build a new construction home, for example, they would likely go through. If he needed a neighboring enemy taken care of, he had plenty of friends of dubious character and wicked intent who would be willing to do the job.
In this case, he took matters into his own hands. There was something like a circuitous route towards reaching this decision. The initial inclination was to kill his sister Devaki. This was after Kamsa heard a message from a voice in the sky. The akasha-vani warned that Devaki’s eighth child would spell Kamsa’s doom.
To an asura-like person who is only interested in sense gratification and preserving that kind of life, there is little contemplation of the beyond. In other words, why consider what will happen after inevitable death when you can do everything in your power to ensure that never takes place? Blinded by the illusion of the material world, Kamsa could not see that “inevitable” and “never” were incompatible.
This message was delivered on an otherwise auspicious day. Devaki-mangala, or the marriage of Devaki to her husband Vasudeva. Kamsa was following honor and chivalry in escorting the bride to her new home.
Vasudeva intervened and persuaded Kamsa to delay the violence. The couple promised to deliver every child to Kamsa without issue, and the king was so warmed to the heart by the kindness that he decided to completely abandon the hostility.
Then one day Narada Muni paid a visit. The celebrated traveler of the three-worlds singing the glories of Narayana convinced Kamsa to be on guard. The original plan was now back, with the modification that Vasudeva and Devaki would have to remain in jail. Kamsa would take lethal action against every child born to them, keeping special attention on the eighth.
Fortunately for the loving parents, Kamsa and everyone else in the kingdom were asleep when the eighth child finally arrived. This was the same Narayana who is glorified by Narada. This is the same God that the asura-class is always trying to assess, to see if they match up.
Kamsa could not succeed against an otherwise helpless infant. This was Narayana in the avatara of Shri Krishna. The power of devotion is so strong that Vasudeva was able to escape the prison. All the protections surrounding him were no match. The Supreme Lord facilitated an easy victory.
There were other forces that threatened the success, ones not directly under Kamsa’s control. It was the middle of the night. How would the father escape without anyone seeing? How would he cross the Yamuna River while pelted by rain?
In the end, it was mission accomplished. Beautiful paintings memorialize the event. Vasudeva is holding his new son, and Anantadeva is providing protection from the rain with his hoods. The powerful asura easily defeated by the helpless and imprisoned brother-in-law.
This is always possible, no matter the visuals. Devotional service beats the odds every time, and so the value of the holy names should never be underestimated: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Helpless over powers that be,
Who anticipating birth to see.
Of eighth child to then toss,
For parents another heartbreaking loss.
But Shri Krishna the pattern to break,
Loving father with him to take.
To Yamuna’s banks in the rain,
Delivered by destiny who came.
Categories: crossing the yamuna