“I gave you the benediction that I would take birth as your son three times. The first time I was known as Prishnigarbha, born of Prishni and Sutapa, the next birth I was Upendra born of Aditi and Kashyapa, and now for the third time I am born as Krishna from you, Devaki and Vasudeva. I appeared in this Vishnu form just to convince you that I am the same Supreme Personality of Godhead again taken birth.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 3)
Ever since the time of their marriage, from the moment of the actual ceremony in dharma, Devaki and Vasudeva suffered one misery after another. It would be all worth it, through the experience of a transcendental vision. The birth of a child who briefly showed Himself to be a full-grown youth, beautifully adorned and with four arms.
Devaki married Vasudeva. As per tradition, the brother escorted the bride to her new home. Kamsa was Devaki’s cousin-brother. At the time, there was no hint of acrimony, jealousy, or ill-will. That all changed with a message from a voice in the sky.
From there, Devaki had to fight for her life. Kamsa was ready to kill her, on the spot. Vasudeva got to work in pacification. There was no other choice. Kamsa was the one holding the sword. Fortunately, Vasudeva was able to bargain.
It is easy to criticize while sitting on the sidelines. An outsider might chastise Kamsa along the following lines:
“You are a brutal murderer. I can’t believe you took every one of Devaki’s children and killed them right after birth. You threw them against a stone slab. How can anyone be so cruel? You are the worst human being alive. Your parents must be ashamed to have brought you into this world.”
Devaki and Vasudeva had no choice. Harsh words were not going to bring safety to the situation. They had to pray that better judgment would gain majority influence within the consciousness of Kamsa, who was the king of Mathura.
The voice from the sky had given the warning that it would be Devaki’s eighth child. He would be the angel of death for Kamsa, the means to implement the end which is guaranteed for every person who takes birth.
जातस्य हि ध्रुवो मृत्युर्
ध्रुवं जन्म मृतस्य च
तस्माद् अपरिहार्ये ऽर्थे
न त्वं शोचितुम् अर्हसि
jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyur
dhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya ca
tasmād aparihārye ‘rthe
na tvaṁ śocitum arhasi
“For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.27)
That eighth child was born at midnight, to the parents locked in prison. There was something different to the moment. While the child was in the womb, the demigods had offered prayers. They knew that there was a Divine moment approaching.
To explain exactly what was going on, there was an image on display. Though a baby boy was born to the loving parents, it was actually Narayana, the source of men. In this way, there was no birth, as Narayana is known as aja. He is without birth and also without end, ananta.
This meeting was a reward for their suffering. Devaki and Vasudeva tolerated the wickedness of Kamsa. They experienced pain and heartache for no good reason. They did not deserve any of the punishment inflicted upon them.
This was all destined, however. Those parents had been together in previous lifetimes. This was their final experience, culminating with Narayana appearing as their child. This is the vision yogis hope to see, after years of meditation. This is the end-goal to all knowledge.
After understanding how the universe works, a person tries to delve deeper into that life of the living. They are not satisfied with merely knowing and acknowledging God. They want to know what He looks like. They want to know where He lives. They want to experience Him.
Devaki and Vasudeva received that experience. Despite all the suffering, the reward was worth it. It was heavier on a scale compared to the tribulations. In this way, we can see that the life we experience at the moment can meet an auspicious end.
This is the purpose to any genuine discipline of spiritual life. Not only remove doubts as to the illusion surrounding us, but work in such a way that a direct meeting is possible. To be rewarded with the association of Narayana, who is stronger and can outsmart the wickedness of any Kamsa-like person.
Something wicked this way came,
King of Kamsa the name.
Who Devaki’s children to blame,
Offering each fate the same.
That after birth against a stone,
Cruelest violence shown.
But parents’ reward after so long betrayed,
When Vishnu as child to them displayed.