“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)
The Supreme Lord will be the one to take you by surprise. The life of connection, yoga, is not dull or boring. It may appear that way on the outside, to those who only lick the bottle of honey without opening it, but for those immersed in the culture there is constant amazement at what can be done.
The hand of God is responsible for the supposed miracles. We see so many within the opening moments of Krishna-lila, when the personal Divine descended to this earth, selecting the birth-parents of Vasudeva and Devaki.
1. A talking newborn
The couple was held in a prison at the time. Against their will. Forced to live in fear and trepidation. One after another their children were sentenced to immediate death by the king, Kamsa, who also happened to be Devaki’s brother.
It was the eighth child Kamsa had his eye on. His angel of death. His doom. The end of the life. The visible image of the last moments within that lifetime. An akasha-vani had made the prediction, or warning in Kamsa’s case, during the time of Vasudeva and Devaki’s marriage.
When the eighth child arrived, it could talk. This is because the son was the Supreme Personality of Godhead Narayana. Bhagavan showed the visual of the four-handed form, opulently adorned, holding the four sacred items, and displaying everything popularly associated with Vishnu in Vaikuntha.
The parents offered their heartfelt prayers, and Krishna listened. He also spoke to them, explaining their long history of association with Him. The devotional service was not an accident. Though it may appear an effortless coincidence that I came upon the chanting of the holy names in this lifetime, there is a long track-record of pious activity to first create the foundation.
Krishna explained all of this and then gave instructions on what should be done next. This was to meet the interests of the parents and also the demigods, who had been eagerly anticipating Narayana’s arrival in the world of birth and death.
2. Prison doors opening
The parents were in prison. They had no choice but to stay there. If viewed as an independent country, you could say that a prison has strong borders. The walls and gates function in a reverse way; they keep people in. In the previous century leading communist nations built such walls. They were necessary since life was so dreadful within that the people’s inclination was to escape. The walls forced them to remain inside and suffer.
Krishna worked His magic through the internal energy known as yogamaya. The prison doors suddenly opened. The guards were fast asleep, as well. This meant that Vasudeva could escape with baby Krishna in his arms, unnoticed.
3. Seeing at night
Krishna’s advent is at midnight. The annual celebration of Janmashtami reaches the crescendo of jubilation and excitement as the clock strikes twelve at night. While it was a joyful moment for the parents, the conditions outside were not exactly ideal for an escape. The prison doors opened, but how was Vasudeva going to discern the path to travel?
Amazingly, he could see. This is because Krishna’s transcendental body is naturally effulgent. It is brighter than the energy of Brahman, which is the sum collection of spirit. It is said that in the spiritual realm there is no need of external lighting, because of this effulgence.
4. An umbrella for Krishna
The middle of the night, escaping from a prison with a talking baby, the difficulties did not end there. It was pouring rain. How was the loving father going to protect his son? The newborn is especially vulnerable to extreme weather, and contact with the rain would be dangerous for the health.
Another surprise in store. Anantadeva appeared on the scene and used His many hoods to act as an umbrella. Baby Krishna was now safe. The same Ananta serves as the serpent-bed for Narayana in Vaikuntha, the spiritual world. He would accompany Krishna during His lila by appearing as another son of Vasudeva, Balarama.
5. Safe passage across the Yamuna
Everything accounted for, but the directions from Krishna were to travel to Gokula, which was a nearby town. Vasudeva now had a rather significant obstacle: a raging Yamuna River. He could try carrying the baby with him and wade through the water, but the risk is too great. The father would be taken away by the current, and both their lives would be in danger.
Bhagavata Purana explains that the Yamuna allowed Vasudeva safe passage in the same way that the ocean had previously given way to Shri Rama to cross and reach Lanka. That was a famous incident from Rama-lila, which is the Divine play of the same Narayana. Bhagavan appeared as Shri Rama in that instance, as the son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya.
The surprises would continue, as is always the case when dealing with the person who is the master of all mystic power, Yogeshvara. Kamsa in particular had many sad disappointments destined for him, with the final blow dealt by Krishna’s fist.
So dark it is tonight,
But prison shining bright.
The Divine Himself has come,
To help parents overcome.
Torture, pain and hell,
Locked by Kamsa in cell.
Surprises now many to await,
Loving father welcoming open gate.