“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)
1. Who was she?
During the time of Shri Krishna’s appearance in this world, the king of Mathura was named Kamsa. His wickedness was one of the reasons for Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, descending as an avatara. The circumstances triggered one of the causes mentioned in Bhagavad-gita.
विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम्
सम्भवामि युगे युगे
vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām
sambhavāmi yuge yuge
“In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.8)
King Kamsa received the good fortune of knowing the means to his end. It would be the eighth child of Devaki, who was his cousin-sister. Kamsa tried his best to thwart destiny, to prolong life to the greatest extent.
Being of the asura mindset, Kamsa had people he knew who could get dirty deeds accomplished. These were something like hit-men. Hired assassins to get the job done. One of them was Putana, who was a witch in her true self.
2. Why did she target Gokula?
Putana was known to kill newborn children. She was an ideal assistant to Kamsa, since the eighth child of Devaki had just appeared. He was living somewhere in Gokula, as He had been transferred there immediately after birth.
Despite guards everywhere and the parents locked in a cell, somehow the amazing birth took place. In the middle of the night, the father transferred the newborn to a neighboring town. He crossed the Yamuna River while dealing with falling rain.
Putana was to go to Gokula and find Krishna. She was to kill him. This was the way to nullify the prediction previously told to Kamsa. A voice from the sky informed him of what was to come, but with the asura mindset the only future thought was on how to preserve and protect life.
3. Why did the people let her inside?
While Putana was a witch, she had the mystic ability to change her shape. She appeared in Gokula as a beautiful goddess. The image was so convincing that the innocent villagers mistook her to be someone like Lakshmi Devi, who is the wife of Narayana, the Supreme Lord.
It was because of the external appearance that the people were not suspicious. Though it was a stranger, there must have been auspiciousness to the meeting. There would be no harm if she went inside and met with the newborn Krishna, who was assumed to be the child of Yashoda.
The people of the land were so pious that they remembered Lakshmi and Narayana in everything they did. They were fully surrendered in this way, and so even a witch reminded them of God. This is an example of the spiritual vision, and despite being fooled, this was an instance of the yogamaya energy at work. This energy is always auspicious, leading to the proper result for those under its influence.
4. What was her ultimate fate?
Putana’s plan was to kill Krishna by feeding Him breastmilk. The means to the end would be through poison. What can a helpless child really do? How are they going to protect themselves from this subtle attack? No one would have any idea, after the fact.
Since Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the plan backfired. He accepted the poison without issue. As Putana wanted to feed Him milk directly from her breast, Krishna more than obliged. He proceeded to keep sucking until the witch could take it no longer.
She finally had to remove her false form. The hideous rupa of a witch became plain for everyone to see. Krishna sucked the very life out of her, and she then tumbled to the ground. Her ultimate fate was liberation, as she died directly at the hands of the Supreme Lord.
Though her intentions were not good, though she was working for an enemy of the people, though she employed deception and attempted the most heinous crime, because of her close association with Krishna she received the same fate as those who are fully realized in the spiritual energy of Brahman.
Like friend passing through gate,
Meeting with Krishna to await.
Ready for poison to give,
So child no more to live.
But surprise then in store,
Despite the milk to pour.
Though first secretly snuck,
God then her life to suck.
Categories: the four