“Vasudeva saw that wonderful child born as a baby with four hands, holding conchshell, club, disc, and lotus flower, decorated with the mark of Shrivatsa, wearing the jeweled necklace of kaustubha stone, dressed in yellow silk, appearing dazzling like a bright blackish cloud, wearing a helmet bedecked with the vaidurya stone, valuable bracelets, earrings and similar other ornaments all over His body and an abundance of hair on His head.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 3)
1. Marriage day ruined
Hopefully there is some planning involved. Barring intervention from a tyrannical government, which views fellow human beings as a set of germs to be avoided at all costs, in the ideal case there is a large ceremony. Friends and family invited, given sufficient notification. As people lead busy lives and ration out their vacation time, the couple to be married might send multiple notifications. One for saving the date, and another for the actual invitation.
They want a perfect day. Everyone looking great. Plenty of food and drink. Joyous music. A family reunion of sorts, as who knows when everyone will be together in one place again? They hire a photographer to capture the moments. In the future, they can look back on the day fondly, keeping the memories forever.
Unfortunately for Vasudeva, his marriage day was spoiled by the cousin-brother of his new wife. As fate would have it, a voice from the sky arrived on the scene and warned Kamsa that Devaki’s eighth child would be his doom.
What terrible luck for Vasudeva? Why did this have to happen to him? Why couldn’t he have had a normal marriage ceremony, like everyone else? He had to rise to the occasion and think on his feet. Kamsa was ready to kill Devaki on the spot, so shaken was he by the message of destiny. Fortunately, Vasudeva managed to convince Kamsa to not go through with the heinous idea.
2. Stuck in prison
Saved for the moment, the asura-class never relinquishes the thought of impending death. They know that everything will be finished at that time. Since they have ignored dharma or perhaps intentionally violated it, there isn’t much to look forward to in the afterlife. They have the desperate hope that the afterlife will never manifest; that they can manage to live forever.
To thwart destiny declared by the akasha-vani, Kamsa decided to imprison the newlyweds. Vasudeva and Devaki were stuck in jail. What had they done wrong? Why were they being punished? With family like this, who needs enemies?
3. Loss of children
To make matters worse, Kamsa proceeded to kill every child born to Devaki. Imagine the difficulty surrounding childbirth. The many months of carrying the child in the womb, with the changes brought about in eating and sleeping habits, tolerating painful situations – all for naught. Everything was erased in an instant, as Kamsa carried out abortion in clear view of the world. No one could mistake what he did, by throwing the infants against a stone slab.
With so much going wrong for him, it would be understandable if Vasudeva gave up on life. What had dharma really gotten him? Kamsa was king of Mathura. The worst of the worst was leading society; they were in the ultimate position of power.
No one is above God, who is the ultimate controller of destiny. The voice had been telling the truth. The eighth child would arrive to the devoted couple, and it would be the Supreme Lord Himself. Vasudeva had visual evidence in the amazing sight of Narayana, the husband of Lakshmi Devi.
All of the indications were there. No mistaking it, this child was God Himself. It was a good thing Vasudeva did not give up on life. The difficulties made the connection to Narayana stronger. In that time of hardship the couple maintained their saintly character. They did not hold a grudge against Kamsa, for they knew that people can be quickly led astray by greed and fear.
If Vasudeva and Devaki can withstand such tragedies and still thrive to the point of receiving Vishnu as their son, who is the rescuer of the fallen, who is the thorn in the side of the asuras, then who am I to complain about hardships? I am so fortunate to have heard their story, to remember it on a daily basis, and to keep Narayana close through the sounds of His names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
So fortunate am I,
That not much to try.
But Narayana still to see,
So merciful is He.
Hardships to Vasudeva compare,
Locked with wife in prison there.
But to dharma principles holding.
And Krishna’s janma beholding.
Categories: the three