“Thus being advised by the demonic ministers, Kamsa, who was from the very beginning the greatest rascal, decided to persecute the brahmanas and Vaishnavas, being entrapped by the shackles of all-devouring, eternal time. He ordered the demons to harass all kinds of saintly persons, and then he entered his house.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 4)
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It is not surprising to find similarities between these characters notable from the history documented in Vedic literature. They are both of the asura classification, based on ancestry and qualities exhibited throughout life.
The level of atrocities they committed was so severe that a trip from above was warranted. There was the need for an avatara. The one who descends from the spiritual world arrived to save the day, to protect the saintly people and annihilate those steadfast in their determination to eliminate dharma.
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)
1. Tried to kill family
For Hiranyakashipu, a casual observer might remark as follows:
“Seriously? There is no way. That actually happened? Who would do that to their child? A five year old, innocent boy. That is the worst thing imaginable. Parents try every which way to protect their children. That is the number one concern, especially in the early years. I can’t believe Hiranyakashipu tried to kill Prahlada in so many ways. What a terrible person!”
With Kamsa, there is a similar level of disbelief:
“Okay, so a voice from the sky told Kamsa that Devaki’s eighth child was going to be his end. Devaki was starting her married life. Not a honeymoon, necessarily, but a sacred tradition of brother escorting sister to her new family. Kamsa was ready to kill her. He did not want to wait until the eighth child appeared. He took out his sword immediately after learning of his fate.”
2. Did not exempt children from their wrath
The nature of the victim of Hiranyakashipu’s violence is particularly noteworthy:
“Dude, come on? A five-year old kid. What is he even able to do? Was he bothering your sleep? Was he beating up other children? How could you try to kill him? Throwing him off a cliff? Feeding him to snakes? Your level of madness is impossible for a normal human being to relate to.”
Kamsa did not wait five years:
“What in the world? Kamsa took innocent newborns and threw them against stone. Somehow Devaki survived the initial threat of violence. Her husband, Vasudeva, saved the day. That couple was spared only because Kamsa decided to kill the children, as they were born. Moments after, no less. It is really no different than what takes place in health clinics today, through abortion, but images tend to make a greater impact as to the severity of the harm inflicted.”
3. Terribly afraid of the future
Hiranyakashipu did not want to share a house with someone inclined towards Vishnu:
“Was Prahlada bothering anyone? Was it really going to torture the father that the son worshiped Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead? This is just crazy. If you are supposedly the most powerful king in the world, how are you getting owned by a five-year old boy? How is your son taking you down, when no other force has the courage to even stand up to you?”
Kamsa knew more specifics about his future:
“Alright, so Kamsa received the news from the akasha-vani. The voice in the sky was telling the truth. But dude, that happens to everyone. We are all going to die. It should not be news to you. No need to take drastic action. Why fight it? Just accept it and move on. If you think about it, that is the key impetus for spiritual life. If you knew that your time here was limited, how would you act? I guess we all know what choice you went with.”
4. No forgiveness based on innocence
Hiranyakashipu was not softened by the image of an innocent child:
“What parent hasn’t wanted to strangle their child? Who doesn’t get upset on occasion? The thing is, the children are so innocent that one look at them softens the heart. The anger subsides. How did Hiranyakashipu not go through the same emotions? Was he without a heart?”
Kamsa did not care about the victims, in the least:
“It was his sister. Okay, cousin-sister, but in that culture there really is no distinction. Families tend to be tight-knit. It is like Kamsa became blind after hearing of his fate. It is like he didn’t even see Devaki anymore. All he saw was potential death, staring him in the face.”
5. Hatred of Vishnu
Hiranyakashipu at least had a stated reason:
“His brother, Hiranyaksha, was previously killed by Vishnu. I guess that is when the rivalry started. That killing was justified, though. I think Hiranyakashipu was jealous more than anything. He did not want to openly acknowledge that there is a higher being, a superior force which cannot be manipulated or brought down to the level of the mortals.”
Kamsa knew that yajna was ultimately for the honor of Vishnu:
“That guy was an overall creep. He tried to stop yajna. There was no reason for this other than envy. He could not allow worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead to take place. He did not want to acknowledge someone above him. That was the flaw in the plan to kill Devaki’s children. The fool thought that he could override destiny, when in fact destiny was just giving him a heads up.”
Destiny a heads-up giving,
That expiring time in living.
From eighth child end to see,
Like angel of death to be.
In Daitya from another time,
Similar envy to find.
With hatred of Vishnu consumed,
That could eliminate presumed.
Categories: the five
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