1. King Pariksit said: My dear lord, you have elaborately described the dynasties of both the moon-god and the sun-god, with the exalted and wonderful character of their kings.
2. O best of munis, you have also described the descendants of Yadu, who were very pious and strictly adherent to religious principles. Now, if you will, kindly describe the wonderful, glorious activities of Lord Visnu, or Krsna, who appeared in that Yadu dynasty with Baladeva, His plenary expansion.
3. The Supersoul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, the cause of the cosmic manifestation, appeared in the dynasty of Yadu. Please tell me elaborately about His glorious activities and character, from the beginning to the end of His life.
4. Glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is performed in the parampara system; that is, it is conveyed from spiritual master to disciple. Such glorification is relished by those no longer interested in the false, temporary glorification of this cosmic manifestation. Descriptions of the Lord are the right medicine for the conditioned soul undergoing repeated birth and death. Therefore, who will cease hearing such glorification of the Lord except a butcher or one who is killing his own self?
5-7. Taking the boat of Krsna's lotus feet, my grandfather Arjuna and others crossed the ocean of the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, in which such commanders as Bhismadeva resembled great fish that could very easily have swallowed them. By the mercy of Lord Krsna, my grandfathers crossed this ocean, which was very difficult to cross, as easily as one steps over the hoofprint of a calf. Because my mother surrendered unto Lord Krsna's lotus feet, the Lord, Sudarsana-cakra in hand, entered her womb and saved my body, the body of the last remaining descendant of the Kurus and the Pandavas, which was almost destroyed by the fiery weapon of Asvatthama. Lord Sri Krsna, appearing within and outside of all materially embodied living beings by His own potency in the forms of eternal time--that is, as Paramatma and as virat-rupa--gave liberation to everyone, either as cruel death or as life. Kindly enlighten me by describing His transcendental characteristics.
8. My dear Sukadeva Gosvami, you have already explained that Sankarsana, who belongs to the second quadruple, appeared as the son of Rohini named Balarama. If Balarama was not transferred from one body to another, how is it possible that He was first in the womb of Devaki and then in the womb of Rohini? Kindly explain this to me.
9. Why did Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, leave the house of His father, Vasudeva, and transfer Himself to the house of Nanda in Vrndavana? Where did the Lord, the master of the Yadu dynasty, live with His relatives in Vrndavana?
10. Lord Krsna lived both in Vrndavana and in Mathura. What did He do there? Why did He kill Kamsa, His mother's brother? Such killing is not at all sanctioned in the sastras.
11. Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has no material body, yet He appears as a human being. For how many years did He live with the descendants of Vrsni? How many wives did He marry, and for how many years did He live in Dvaraka?
12. O great sage, who know everything about Krsna, please describe in detail all the activities of which I have inquired and also those of which I have not, for I have full faith and am very eager to hear of them.
13. Because of my vow on the verge of death, I have given up even drinking water, yet because I am drinking the nectar of topics about Krsna, which is flowing from the lotus mouth of Your Lordship, my hunger and thirst, which are extremely difficult to bear, cannot hinder me.
14. Suta Gosvami said: O son of Bhrgu [Saunaka Rsi], after Sukadeva Gosvami, the most respectable devotee, the son of Vyasadeva, heard the pious questions of Maharaja Pariksit, he thanked the King with great respect. Then he began to discourse on topics concerning Krsna, which are the remedy for all sufferings in this age of Kali.
15. Srila Sukadeva Gosvami said: O Your Majesty, best of all saintly kings, because you are greatly attracted to topics of Vasudeva, it is certain that your intelligence is firmly fixed in spiritual understanding, which is the only true goal for humanity. Because that attraction is unceasing, it is certainly sublime.
16. The Ganges, emanating from the toe of Lord Visnu, purifies the three worlds, the upper, middle and lower planetary systems. Similarly, when one asks questions about the pastimes and characteristics of Lord Vasudeva, Krsna, three varieties of men are purified: the speaker or preacher, he who inquires, and the people in general who listen.
17. Once when mother earth was overburdened by hundreds of thousands of military phalanxes of various conceited demons dressed like kings, she approached Lord Brahma for relief.
18. Mother earth assumed the form of a cow. Very much distressed, with tears in her eyes, she appeared before Lord Brahma and told him about her misfortune.
19. Thereafter, having heard of the distress of mother earth, Lord Brahma, with mother earth, Lord Siva and all the other demigods, approached the shore of the ocean of milk.
20. After reaching the shore of the ocean of milk, the demigods worshiped the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Visnu, the master of the whole universe, the supreme God of all gods, who provides for everyone and diminishes everyone's suffering. With great attention, they worshiped Lord Visnu, who lies on the ocean of milk, by reciting the Vedic mantras known as the Purusa-sukta.
21. While in trance, Lord Brahma heard the words of Lord Visnu vibrating in the sky. Thus he told the demigods: O demigods, hear from me the order of Ksirodakasayi Visnu, the Supreme Person, and execute it attentively without delay.
22. Lord Brahma informed the demigods: Before we submitted our petition to the Lord, He was already aware of the distress on earth. Consequently, for as long as the Lord moves on earth to diminish its burden by His own potency in the form of time, all of you demigods should appear through plenary portions as sons and grandsons in the family of the Yadus.
23. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, who has full potency, will personally appear as the son of Vasudeva. Therefore all the wives of the demigods should also appear in order to satisfy Him.
24. The foremost manifestation of Krsna is Sankarsana, who is known as Ananta. He is the origin of all incarnations within this material world. Previous to the appearance of Lord Krsna, this original Sankarsana will appear as Baladeva, just to please the Supreme Lord Krsna in His transcendental pastimes.
25. The potency of the Lord, known as visnu-maya, who is as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, will also appear with Lord Krsna. This potency, acting in different capacities, captivates all the worlds, both material and spiritual. At the request of her master, she will appear with her different potencies in order to execute the work of the Lord.
26. Sukadeva Gosvami continued: After thus advising the demigods and pacifying mother earth, the very powerful Lord Brahma, who is the master of all other Prajapatis and is therefore known as Prajapati-pati, returned to his own abode, Brahmaloka.
27. Formerly, Surasena, the chief of the Yadu dynasty, had gone to live in the city of Mathura. There he enjoyed the places known as Mathura and Surasena.
28. Since that time, the city of Mathura had been the capital of all the kings of the Yadu dynasty. The city and district of Mathura are very intimately connected with Krsna, for Lord Krsna lives there eternally.
29. Some time ago, Vasudeva, who belonged to the demigod family [or to the Sura dynasty], married Devaki. After the marriage, he mounted his chariot to return home with his newly married wife.
30. Kamsa, the son of King Ugrasena, in order to please his sister Devaki on the occasion of her marriage, took charge of the reins of the horses and became the chariot driver. He was surrounded by hundreds of golden chariots.
31-32. Devaki's father, King Devaka, was very much affectionate to his daughter. Therefore, while she and her husband were leaving home, he gave her a dowry of four hundred elephants nicely decorated with golden garlands. He also gave ten thousand horses, eighteen hundred chariots, and two hundred very beautiful young maidservants, fully decorated with ornaments.
33. O beloved son, Maharaja Pariksit, when the bride and bridegroom were ready to start, conchshells, bugles, drums and kettledrums all vibrated in concert for their auspicious departure.
34. While Kamsa, controlling the reins of the horses, was driving the chariot along the way, an unembodied voice addressed him, "You foolish rascal, the eighth child of the woman you are carrying will kill you!"
35. Kamsa was a condemned personality in the Bhoja dynasty because he was envious and sinful. Therefore, upon hearing this omen from the sky, he caught hold of his sister's hair with his left hand and took up his sword with his right hand to sever her head from her body.
36. Wanting to pacify Kamsa, who was so cruel and envious that he was shamelessly ready to kill his sister, the great soul Vasudeva, who was to be the father of Krsna, spoke to him in the following words.
37. Vasudeva said: My dear brother-in-law Kamsa, you are the pride of your family, the Bhoja dynasty, and great heroes praise your qualities. How could such a qualified person as you kill a woman, your own sister, especially on the occasion of her marriage?
38. O great hero, one who takes birth is sure to die, for death is born with the body. One may die today or after hundreds of years, but death is sure for every living entity.
39. When the present body turns to dust and is again reduced to five elements--earth, water, fire, air and ether--the proprietor of the body, the living being, automatically receives another body of material elements according to his fruitive activities. When the next body is obtained, he gives up the present body.
40. Just as a person traveling on the road rests one foot on the ground and then lifts the other, or as a worm on a vegetable transfers itself to one leaf and then gives up the previous one, the conditioned soul takes shelter of another body and then gives up the one he had before.
41. Having experienced a situation by seeing or hearing about it, one contemplates and speculates about that situation, and thus one surrenders to it, not considering his present body. Similarly, by mental adjustments one dreams at night of living under different circumstances, in different bodies, and forgets his actual position. Under this same process, one gives up his present body and accepts another [tatha dehantara-praptih].
42. At the time of death, according to the thinking, feeling and willing of the mind, which is involved in fruitive activities, one receives a particular body. In other words, the body develops according to the activities of the mind. Changes of body are due to the flickering of the mind, for otherwise the soul could remain in its original, spiritual body.
43. When the luminaries in the sky, such as the moon, the sun and the stars, are reflected in liquids like oil or water, they appear to be of different shapes--sometimes round, sometimes long, and so on--because of the movements of the wind. Similarly, when the living entity, the soul, is absorbed in materialistic thoughts, he accepts various manifestations as his own identity because of ignorance. In other words, one is bewildered by mental concoctions because of agitation from the material modes of nature.
44. Therefore, since envious, impious activities cause a body in which one suffers in the next life, why should one act impiously? Considering one's welfare, one should not envy anyone, for an envious person must always fear harm from his enemies, either in this life or in the next.
45. As your younger sister, this poor girl Devaki is like your own daughter and deserves to be affectionately maintained. You are merciful, and therefore you should not kill her. Indeed, she deserves your affection.
46. Sukadeva Gosvami continued: O best of the Kuru dynasty, Kamsa was fiercely cruel and was actually a follower of the Raksasas. Therefore he could be neither pacified nor terrified by the good instructions given by Vasudeva. He did not care about the results of sinful activities, either in this life or in the next.
47. When Vasudeva saw that Kamsa was determined to kill his sister Devaki, he thought to himself very deeply. Considering the imminent danger of death, he thought of another plan to stop Kamsa.
48. As long as he has intelligence and bodily strength, an intelligent person must try to avoid death. This is the duty of every embodied person. But if death cannot be avoided in spite of one's endeavors, a person facing death commits no offense.
49-50. Vasudeva considered: By delivering all my sons to Kamsa, who is death personified, I shall save the life of Devaki. Perhaps Kamsa will die before my sons take birth, or, since he is already destined to die at the hands of my son, one of my sons may kill him. For the time being, let me promise to hand over my sons so that Kamsa will give up this immediate threat, and if in due course of time Kamsa dies, I shall have nothing to fear.
51. When a fire, for some unseen reason, leaps over one piece of wood and sets fire to the next, the reason is destiny. Similarly, when a living being accepts one kind of body and leaves aside another, there is no other reason than unseen destiny.
52. After thus considering the matter as far as his knowledge would allow, Vasudeva submitted his proposal to the sinful Kamsa with great respect.
53. Vasudeva's mind was full of anxiety because his wife was facing danger, but in order to please the cruel, shameless and sinful Kamsa, he externally smiled and spoke to him as follows.
54. Vasudeva said: O best of the sober, you have nothing to fear from your sister Devaki because of what you have heard from the unseen omen. The cause of death will be her sons. Therefore I promise that when she gives birth to the sons from whom your fear has arisen, I shall deliver them all unto your hands.
55. Srila Sukadeva Gosvami continued: Kamsa agreed to the logical arguments of Vasudeva, and, having full faith in Vasudeva's words, he refrained from killing his sister. Vasudeva, being pleased with Kamsa, pacified him further and entered his own house.
56. Each year thereafter, in due course of time, Devaki, the mother of God and all the demigods, gave birth to a child. Thus she bore eight sons, one after another, and a daughter named Subhadra.
57. Vasudeva was very much disturbed by fear of becoming a liar by breaking his promise. Thus with great pain he delivered his first-born son, named Kirtiman, into the hands of Kamsa.
58. What is painful for saintly persons who strictly adhere to the truth? How could there not be independence for pure devotees who know the Supreme Lord as the substance? What deeds are forbidden for persons of the lowest character? And what cannot be given up for the sake of Lord Krsna by those who have fully surrendered at His lotus feet?
59. My dear King Pariksit, when Kamsa saw that Vasudeva, being situated in truthfulness, was completely equipoised in giving him the child, he was very happy. Therefore, with a smiling face, he spoke as follows.
60. O Vasudeva, you may take back your child and go home. I have no fear of your first child. It is the eighth child of you and Devaki I am concerned with because that is the child by whom I am destined to be killed.
61. Vasudeva agreed and took his child back home, but because Kamsa had no character and no self-control, Vasudeva knew that he could not rely on Kamsa's word.
62-63. The inhabitants of Vrndavana, headed by Nanda Maharaja and including his associate cowherd men and their wives, were none but denizens of the heavenly planets, O Maharaja Pariksit, best of the descendants of Bharata, and so too were the descendants of the Vrsni dynasty, headed by Vasudeva, and Devaki and the other women of the dynasty of Yadu. The friends, relatives and well-wishers of both Nanda Maharaja and Vasudeva and even those who externally appeared to be followers of Kamsa were all demigods.
64. Once the great saint Narada approached Kamsa and informed him of how the demoniac persons who were a great burden on the earth were going to be killed. Thus Kamsa was placed into great fear and doubt.
65-66. After the departure of the great saint Narada, Kamsa thought that all the members of the Yadu dynasty were demigods and that any of the children born from the womb of Devaki might be Visnu. Fearing his death, Kamsa arrested Vasudeva and Devaki and chained them with iron shackles. Suspecting each of the children to be Visnu, Kamsa killed them one after another because of the prophecy that Visnu would kill him.
67. Kings greedy for sense gratification on this earth almost always kill their enemies indiscriminately. To satisfy their own whims, they may kill anyone, even their mothers, fathers, brothers or friends.
68. In his previous birth, Kamsa had been a great demon named Kalanemi and been killed by Visnu. Upon learning this information from Narada, Kamsa became envious of everyone connected with the Yadu dynasty.
69. Kamsa, the most powerful son of Ugrasena, even imprisoned his own father, the King of the Yadu, Bhoja and Andhaka dynasties, and personally ruled the states known as Surasena.