became Veda Vyasa by classifying the unified form of Vedas into four parts known as Rigveda, Yajurveda,Sama Veda and Adharvana Veda. In addition, Vyasa gave the principles of righteous living through his works. Since reading of Vedas was prohibited to some sections of the population in those days, Vyasa was feeling sad that he could not write something for the benefit of such in their quest for god.
Sage Narada came to the agitated Vyasa. He praised the divine qualities of Vyasa and wanted to know the reasons for Vyasa`s sorrow.Vyasa in return praised Narada`s qualities of uninterrupted devotion to the lord motivating others in all parts of the universe to do the same. Since Narada is omniscient Vyasa requested him to diagnose the reason for Vyasa`s mental agony and to suggest a remedy.
Narada said that though the works of Vyasa were eloquent in establishing the different facets of Dharma, there was no mention of the stories of the lord emphasizing his divine qualities.That, according to Narada, was the reason for the mental agony of Vyasa. According to Narada no literary work, however well- written, was worth the effort without a mention of the lord. Narada said that, on the contrary, even a sub-standard literary work had a sanctifying effect on the reader if it mentioned about the lord. Narada exhorted Vyasa to come out with Bhagavata Purana emphasizing the path of devotion to the lord, praising Hari`s sterling qualities and giving an account of Hari`s incarnations since they were missing in his earlier works. Narada said that listening, thinking and meditating about the almighty supplemented by praising the lord and singing about his glory were the only means for human salvation which transcendeds even proficient learning and rendering of Vedas,Vedanta and Bhagavatgita.
Being thus provoked by Narada and having realized the importance of inculcating the concept of Bhakti, Vyasa wrote Bhagavata Purana meant for universal good and taught it first to his illustrious son Suka. Being requested by king Parikshit tormented by an impending death by the bite of a serpent Takshaka, sage Suka enabled the king to attain Moksha in seven days through the milieu of listening to Bhagavata Purana recited by him. This account describes the genesis of Bhagavata Purana. The origin of Bhagavata Purana is thus the Veda, an abode of all boons. It is delivered by sage Suka as nectar to be relished by the desirous to attain Moksha which is a merger of the human soul with the almighty. Bhagavata Purana is considered to be the most prominent among the Puranas being equivalent to the entire collection of Upanishads. Attainment of Moksha is easier through a devotional and concentrated study of Bhagavata Purana than by reading the entire gamut of Vedas. It is an established fact that the worldly pleasures are temporary. Moksha is permanent and is the ultimate goal of human birth. It is achieved only through the grace of god. One is qualified to get divine grace only through devotion to god adopting Bhakti, knowledge and renunciation.
(iv) Dasaavataras and Importance of Krishnavatara
The Dasavataras, the ten principal incarnationsof the lord Vyshnavism are Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Rama, Parasurama, Krishna, Budha and Kaliki. These are given in the following Sloka :-
Matsyaha kurmo varahasche narasimhasche vamanaha
ramoramasche budhaha kalikirevacha
There is no mention of Krishna in this verse. The reason for this is that Krishna transcends the Trimurtys. He is an embodiment of Parabrahma and is considered to be the primordial form of all Avataras.
The following abbreviation in Telugu enables one to remember the names of the ten incarnations and their serial order :- (Ma-Ku-Va-Na,Va-Ri Pelli-Ki-Ba-Ka) : 1. Ma = Matsya , 2. Ku = Kurma, 3. Va = Varaha, 4. Na = Narasimha , 5.Va = Vamana , 6. (R)i = Rama, 7.(P)elli = Parasurama , 8. (Ki) = Krishna, 9. (Ba) = Budha, and 10. Ka = Kalki. (The abbreviation means in Telugu: Makuvana “Rain for us” and Varipelliki Baka “Trumpet for their marriage”)
(v) Potana`s Biography
Potana also known as Potaraju was born in a village Bammera located in the Warangal Taluk of the present Telangana State. While the exact year of his birth is not known, he is believed to have lived between 1400 and 1470 C. E. He was born in Kaundinyasa Gotra as the second son of Kesana and Lakkamamba.Their first son was Tippana.That Srinatha, the famous Telugu poet, was Potana`s brother-in-law, has no historical basis. There is evidence to show that Potana had a son by name Kesana named after Potana`s father. Potana`s son seemed to have inherited literary prowess of the father to earn the title, Proudha Saraswati.In fact the literary proficiency seemed to have percolated through the entire progeny of Potana. In addition to Bhagavata Purana, Potana wrote Veerabhadra Vijaya, Bhogini Dandaka and Narayana Sataka.
(vi) Dedication of Potana`s Bhagavata Purana to Almighty
Bammera Potaraju decided to offer his version of Bhagavata Purana to lord SriHari for the good of all. By offering , instead , to kings of disrepute in return to gifts such as Dhanadhanya Vastuvahanas and Grihagramadulu, the author feels that he succumbs after death to lord Yama`s punishments. The following is an account of the sentiments of Potana which prompted him to offer his work to the almighty :--
“A great man appeared before my eyes. He was with his consort and comparable to a blue cloud coupled with a lightning. His smile was as pleasant as the moon-light. He wore a bow comparable to the curvatures and beauty of a huge Ganuga tree entwined with creepers. He wore a crown as effulgent as the sun on top of a blue mountain. His eyes were as elegant as the petals of a lotus. He was a broad-chested prominent king of kings.”
He exhorted Potana to translate Vyasa`s Bhagavata Purana into Telugu.
“ What I am going to write is the most sacred Bhagavata Purana. The one who makes me write is RamachandraPrabhu himself.This writing has the propensity to disentangle me from the family bonds. Therefore I decided to write it. Where is the need to write any other work?
When a complete comprehension of Bhagavata Purana transcends the abilities of even lord Siva and Brahma will it be possible to understand it for an ordinary man like me? Yet I make an attempt to write what I heard about it from scholars and what is understood by me. Because of my good fortune great poets like Nannaya and Tikkana who translated many works from Sanskrit to Telugu left Bhagavata Purana.I translate it into Telugu to sanctify myself.
I offer my version of Bhagavata Purana to lord Gopalakrishna who wears beautiful effulgent garlands, resides in Nandagokula, steals butter and ghee from houses of shepherds, redeems the sorrows of devotees, wins the hearts of Gopakantas and destroys demons such as Trinavarta and Putana. My work is dedicated to Krishna, a lord of exemplary qualities endowed with the grace of lord Siva, a destroyer of demon Banasura, a savior of Gopagopikas from a hail-storm caused by Indra, by lifting the Govardhana mountain, a redeemer of a curse on Yakshas by uprooting a couple of huge trees, a protector of Varnasrama Dharma and a lord capable of obstructing sun`s rays through his Sudarsana Chakra.
I offer my work to the lord who is an embodiment of grace, a counsellor capable of averting the agony of Arjuna to revive his duty consciousness, a protector of the safety of all living beings and a benefactor of his devotees having the sense organs under their control. He could dance playfully on the hood of a serpent, Kaliya, and destroy the army of Jarasandha several times.
The version of Bhagavata Purana written by me is dedicated to the lord who reclines on a serpent, Adishesha, wearing yellow silken garments. He follows justice rigorously in deciding the results of Karma of human beings, resurrects lives of sons of a Brahmin , restores mental peace to an agitated Rukmini, gives happiness to all living beings, exhibits grace to righteous human beings, steals butter from the houses of Gopikas and creates the entire universe.
My Bhagavata Purana is offered to the almighty who is a skillful sole monarch of initiating creation, propagation, protection and destruction of the universe. He taught Vedas to Brahma. Remaining pure and effulgent, he spreads an illusion as a magician showing that the universe created by him engulfed in the Trigunas is real, like the belief of existence of water in a mirage. I adore such a lord who is ever present in my thoughts.”
(vii) Literary Aspects of Potana`s Bhagavata Purana
Bhagavata Purana remains close to the hearts of Telugu-speaking people, particularly the descriptions of Krishna Leelas due to the fact that these aspects were competently described by Potana in his Bhagavata Purana, promoting Madhura Bhakti through selection of simple and sweet vocabulary. It has been emphasized in the scriptures of Hindu religion that realization of god can be through paths of Jnana,Karma and Bhakti.The path of Jnana is difficult and is achieved principally by Rishis and that too only in the form of Nirakara or Nirguna Brahma. The path of Karma is also of restricted utility since it is dependent on gender, caste and age of the devotee. The path of Bhakti is capable of transcending all these obstacles since it has been successfully adopted by the learned, common folk, male and female as well as young and old. Through Mathura Bhakti it is easier to get the Akara or Saguna Brahma. Bhagavata Purana has been playing a significant role in propagating the concept of Navavidha Bhakti, the nine established forms of Bhakti. These are : 1. Sravana (Listening), 2. Sankeertana (Praising), 3. Smarana (Remembering), 4. Paricharya (Praying to lord`s feet), 5. Archana (Worshipping), 6. Vandana (Prostrating), 7. Dasya (Serving), 8. Sakhya (Befriending) and 9. Atma Nivedana (Surrendering).It is the dominance of Mathura Bhakti which distinguishes the Dasama Skandha of Bhagavata Purana from others.
In addition, Potana gave appropriate importance to other Rasas depending upon the context of the work. Even abusive language used by the enemies of Krishna has been dexterously handled by Potana adopting Vyangya Rachana , giving a double meaning, without hurting the sentiments of Krishna`s devotees , himself being one among them.
His work has been embedded with a rhythmic and a meaningful combination of vocabulary to make the readers recite its verses over and over again in a devotional ecstasy. Even today Potana`s Bhagavata Purana is able to influence a large section of Telugu population to imbibe a spiritual thinking, a devotional involvement and a principled living.
Telugu language seemed to have been in use ever since the commencement of the Christian era. Prominent literary works in Telugu emerged only from the middle of the eleventh century A.D. and the earliest significant work was Mahabharata, a translation from a Sanskrit work like other works which followed. Consequently, this period of Telugu literature is known as Anuvada Yuga, an era of translation. The mode of translation followed was divided into three types: (i) Swatantra-anuvada or Katha-anuvada, (ii) Bhava-anuvada and (iii) Yatha-tatha-anuvada .The first mode of translation was adopted by the famous Kavitraya, Nannaya, Tikkana and Yerrapragada, in the translation of Mahabharata. Here the translator enjoys the liberty of additions and deletions of the original work adhering at the same time to the story of the original. In the second type, followed by Srinatha in the translation of Nyshadha, written in Sanskrit by Harsha, the essence of the original is scrupulously reproduced in the translation. The third type followed principally for the translation of dramas is a true reproduction of the original including the usage of the same vocabulary, being a literal counterpart of the one used in the original.
In the translation of Vyasa`s Bhagavata Purana into Telugu, Potana followed a judicious combination of types one and two being motivated by the Kavitraya as well as by Srinatha . Being a strong devotee of the lord, he elaborated extensively the Bhakti-oriented sequences departing from the original. Potana was a great scholar and a great poet. His Bhagavata Purana contained stanzas spread over all categories of verses of Telugu Chandas such as Kanda, Ataveladi, Tetagiti, Utpala Mala, Champaka Mala, Mattakokila and Seesam.
As mentioned earlier, Potana had a transcendental experience of the appearance of lord Rama exhorting him to translate Bhagavata Purana of Vyasa into Telugu to free himself from the mundane terrestrial bonds to get sanctified. That experience transformed the natural poetic proficiency of Potana into an ecstatic state of mind which resulted in Potana`s version of Bhagavata Purana which makes a studious reader of the work wonder whether at all a human mind can attain such levels of excellence once again.
By Potana`s time Telugu language blossomed into a sweet and mature mother tongue for Telugu people. The language became a great milieu for lullabies, humour, and abusive vocabulary and for blessings, among others. The language thus became a potential medium for delicate expressions spread over all the Nava Rasas. Potana says that some among the likely readers of his work have a bias for Telugu, while others have a liking for Sanskrit. Potana prefers to adopt a judicious combination of the two languages, a luxury which he could afford because of his proficiency in both the languages. Potana`s Bhagavata Purana contains in totality a higher proportion of words of Sanskrit than of Telugu.
Potana pays homage to Vyasa,Valmiki, Bana, Kalidasa, Mayura, Bharavi and the Kavitraya, among others. A testimony that he read their works was indicated by the fact that his Bhagavata Purana contained occasionally their influence on his style of translation. Potana had descriptive sequences in his work both in poetry and prose and his literary prowess was established by the fact that his descriptions have been exquisitely picturesque.
Potana`s literary prowess is known to be a divine gift. It has been established that Potana`s parents and sister were staunch devotees of lord Siva. Motivated by this family tradition Potana strove at every opportunity in his Bhagavata Purana to establish the indistinguishability of Hari and Hara. At the very threshold of his work in the context of his prayers to the almighty he mentions, as indicated in this write-up earlier, that if one fails to do puja to Hara till the hands are tired and does not sing in praise of Hari till the voice chokes his birth is futile and a curse to his mother .While describing the child-hood pranks of lord Krishna, Potana uses his intuitive literary proficiency to establish a parallelism between the highly contrasting Balakrishna and Siva.
Potana sanctified his life by listening to sacred words from scholars of his time. According to Potana`s philosophy activities devoid of devotion to god are totally futile. Potana`s Bhagavata Purana has been exerting a many-faceted influence on the cultural life of Telugu-speaking people. The stamp of Potana`s Bhagavata Purana is evident on many recent and contemporary literary works in Telugu.
DASAMA SKANDHA – Part I 1. Introduction Dasama Skandha of Bhagavata Purana is distinct from the other Skandhas since it contains a complete and competent account of the different facets of Krishnavatara. It is therefore considered as Sri Krishna Sarvaswa. Lord Krishna is considered to be the primordial incarnation of the lord who appeared in the form of the other Avataras. Although the appearance of lord Rama and his exhortation to translate Bhagavata Purana into Telugu to be dedicated to lord Rama motivated Potana to take up the sacred mission, he dedicated his work, instead, to lord Krishna conscious of the primordiality of the lord.
BhagvataPurana is considered to be an embodiment of lord Vishnu, its twelve Chapters or Skandhas being considered as the organs of the lord. The significance of Dasama Skandha is evident from the fact that it is considered to be the face of the lord. Just as Krishnavatara is distinct from the remaining Avataras of the lord, Dasama Skandha is distinct from the other Chapters of Bhagavata Purana.
The story of Krishna is competently described in several other Sanskrit works, the principal among them being Jaya Deva`s Gita Govinda, Leela Suka`s Sri Krishna Karnamruta and Narayana Tirthulu`s Sri Krishna Leelatarangini, among others. An equally eloquent account of lord Krishna in Telugu is provided by Yarrana’s Hari Vamsa and Potana`s Dasama Skandha of his Bhagavata Purana, among others.
Dasama Skandha is the biggest among the Chapters of Bhagavata Purana spreading over three thousand verses and pieces of prose. It is divided into two parts known as Purva Bhaga and Uttara Bhaga. The Telugu titles of principal aspects of the Purva Bhaga are : (Part I): Krisnavatara Ghattam, Kamsuni pampuna Putana yanu Rakshasi Vrepalle ku Chanudenchuta, Sri Krishna Balaramula Balyakreedabhivarnana, Mryudbhakshana, Viswarupa Pradarshanabhivarnanamu, Sri Krishnudu Kaliyamardanamu Gavinchuta, Gopika Vastrapaharanamu, Sri Krishnudu Govardhana Parvatamunettut. (Part II): Rasakreedabhivarnanamu, Kamsuni Pampuna Akrurudu Brindavanamunaku Chanudenchuta, Sri Krishnamurty Madhuranagara Prvesamu Cheyuta, Sri Krishna Balaramulu Chanura Mushtikulanu Vadhinchuta, Sri Krishnudu Kamsuni Vadhinchuta, Muchkunduni Purva Kathabhivarnanamu, Rukmini Kalyana Katha Prarambhamu, and Sri Krishnudu Rukmini Devini Pendliyaduta.among others. The Uttara Bhaga of Bhagavata Purana is constituted, among others, by the Telugu titles : (Part III): Sri Krisnudu Satyabhamatokudanaragi Narakasuruni Vadhinchuta, Naradundu Sri Krishnunito Dharmaraju Rajasuyamu Neraverpumani Chepputa, Pandavulu Sri Krishnuni Yadurkoni Todkoni Povuta, Sri Krishnuni Sahayunduga Bhimundu Jarasandhunito Yudhamu Seyuta, Dharmaraju Chesedi Rajasuyamunandu Sri Krishnudu Sisupaluni Vadhinchuta, Kuchelopakhyanamu, Subhadra Parinayamu, and Parikshittunaku Sukayogi Vishnuseva Prasastyambu Chepputa.
2. Parikshit`s Questions to Suka
(Numbers in brackets indicate serial numbers of the verses/proses of Dasama Skandha of Potana`s Bhagavata Purana)
Potana starts the Dasama Skandha with the following prayer to lord Rama :- SriRamachandra! You broke the bow of Siva. Your valour in wars is appreciated by persons like Indra. You are an ornament to the entire race of Surya kings. Your reputation pleasant as moonlight permeates over the entire universe. You are a monarch making the people of your kingdom always happy. My salutations to you (1).
In a congregation of ascetics, the most prominent among them, Suta , endowed with oratorical skills in discourses on all the Puranas,spoke the following words during the course of his lectures on Bhagavata Purana to his audience consisting of Saunaka and others of exemplary qualities (2) :-
Parikshit said to Suka, “You elaborated the biographies of kings of Surya and Chandra races and the significant aspects in them caused astonishment. What made the great soul and ruler of the entire universe Vishnu take birth in the pious race of Yadavas, the shepherds? Having taken such a birth what were the significant acts performed by him? Please narrate them (3, 4)”. Praising of Vishnu is a remedy to the worldly sorrows. It is pleasant to ears and mind. It is a goal to those who desire to attain Moksha. It is foolish not to desire more of lord`s praise. One has to be as harsh as a butcher to refuse listening to lord`s glory (5) .The army of Kauravas consisting of great warriors like Bhishma was unconquerable even to Devatas. My ancestors, Pandavas could cross the ocean of Kaurava forces as effortlessly as crossing the distance of a step-width of a little boy. What was the ferry which came to their rescue (6)? I became paralysed in my mother`s womb being affected by Aswathama`s arrow. At that time Chakradhari lord Krishna saved me to preserve the Pandava race (7). As an embodiment of Purusha and time, being insurmountable to time , the lord is present inside and outside of all that is contained by the universe causing life and death, family bondages and Moksha . Please narrate the entire history of such a lord (8).”
“Suka! The elite among the sages! I was told that Balarama was the son of Rohini Devi. How did he become the son of Devaki? How did Krishna go to Vrepalle leaving his father`s house? In whose house did he reside? What were the details of his behaviour? What made Krishna kill Kamsa? How long did Krishna live as a human being on earth? How many wives did he have and how did he treat them? What else did he do on earth? Please narrate to me the entire story of Krishna (9). The nectar of the story of Hari is flowing from your face comparable to a lotus. By drinking such a nectar repeatedly I am passing through an ecstatic state, forgetting the sorrow of my approaching death, hunger and thirst (10,11).” Hearing the above words of Parikshit, Suka replied as detailed below (12) :-
“King Parikshit! The prominent among kings! Just as the water of the Ganges originating from the feet of lord Vishnu sanctifies those coming in contact with it, a discourse of the story of the lord purifies those who are interested in it as well as those narrating and listening to it (13). As desired by you I describe all the details of the story of Vishnu. Please listen!
In ancient times many powerful demons were born on earth, acquired authority, became kings and occupied the earth. Being unable to bear the burden of such wicked kings, goddess Earth went to lord Brahma to express her sorrow. Brahma consoled her and thought about his responsibility to find a solution. Accompanied by goddess Earth and Devatas, Brahma went to lord Vishnu. Even before meeting the lord, Brahma went into a state of meditation after reciting Purusha Sukta in praise of the lord. During his meditation he heard divine words which he narrates as follows :-
“Goddess Bhudevi and Devatas! Lord Vishnu wants the Devatas to take appropriate human forms in the Yadava race on earth. Lakshmipati Vishnu takes birth on earth as son of Vasudeva to reduce the load on earth due to demons by killing them. The Apsarasas are to be born on earth as Gopikas in beautiful human forms to worship the lord. For pleasing the lord, Adisheshu, the primordial serpent, is to take birth on earth as the elder brother of Hari with divine qualities (14,15, 16). The Maya which binds the entire world takes birth under divine orders with divine qualities as Maha Maya to accomplish a mission entrusted (17)”. Having told the preceding words to the Devatas and making them agree, lord Brahma made goddess Bhudevi happy and returned to his place (18).
A king by name Surasena born in Yadava race ruled the kingdoms of Mathura and Surasayana with his capital in Madhura. The city Mathura in which lord Sriman Narayana roamed about became the first capital of all the Yadava kings in ancient times (19). Surasena`s son Vasudevamarried Devaki Devi and they were both moving in their chariot one day. Kamsa, son of Ugrasena, out of love for his cousin Devaki, started driving the chariot himself seeing which Devaki and Vasudeva were happy. As a mark of royal tradition, there were conches and other instruments like drums and trumpets blown in front of the chariot. Devaki`s father Devaka desired to offer gifts to his daughter at the time of her going to her husband`s place leaving her parental home (20) . Eighteen chariots full of money, four hundred elephants decorated by golden chains, ten thousand horses and two hundred pleasant-looking servant maids were given as gifts to the newly-wed couple, Vasudeva and Devaki, seated in the chariot and travelling on the royal path (21). Kamsa made the chariot move fast by relaxing the reins.
Suddenly a voice from the sky by an unseen source spoke as follows increasing the heart-throb of Kamsa (22) :- “Kamsa! You are driving the chariot to get praise from your happy younger sister, ignorant of what is to happen in future. The eighth child to be born to this pious young woman is to kill you!” (23).
Kamsa was shocked to hear these words from the sky. With trembling shoulders he drew his sword out fearfully, caught hold of his sister`s hair and dragged her down. Without considering the fact that she was his sister he could dare to get ready to kill her. Vasudeva prevented him from doing so. Kamsa was born in Bhoja race as a bad man to bring discredit to the race (24). Impure minded Kamsa forgot himself by getting ruffled. With anger coupled with agitation he was as furious as a fire. With soft words like a stream of nectar Vasudeva spoke as follows in an attempt to cool down Kamsa (25) :-
“You are an elder brother to her. You are expected to be affectionate by talking sweetly and also by offering money and clothes to her. Instead, you are prepared to kill her believing those words from the sky to be true. What you are planning to do does not befit your valour . I am requesting you not to kill her (26) . In addition, this sinless innocent sister of yours, devoid of strength, always desires your well-being. Is it fair to attempt to kill such a sister provoked by words heard from here and there? Is anger not a sin? You are born in the sacred Bhoja race. You are virtuous and a leader of all in your race. Is it fair for you to kill your sister? This is going to be a blot on your reputation. Please think it over (27, 28). One who takes birth has a day fixed for his death. Sooner or later death is unavoidable for one who is born. Death means merger of the body into the elements from which it is made. Just as a caterpillar raises the front part of its body and puts at a place before lifting the rear part, one who bears a body arranges another body commensurate with his past deeds and leaves the present body. What we see, hear and think when we are awake appears clearly in our dreams. In a similar way, the effects of the deeds we do in this birth are carried over to the next birth (29). Based on the deeds of the past lives, the mind behaves in diverse ways and runs according to the dictates of the sense-organs irrespective of the number of births one takes s(30). Just as the reflections of the moon and the sun appear moving when there is turbulence on the surfaces of water in pots, a living being moves in the bodies created based on his past deeds (31). Good or bad events in life for any one occur based on the deeds of past lives. Even for the creator of the world, Brahma, the deeds performed determine the events occurring. Hence there is no point in finding faults with others for the events taking place in one`s life (32) .Therefore it is not fair to trouble others. If pain is inflicted on others for one’s own happiness, the repercussions of it are to be experienced later (33). King Kamsa! Devaki is a sister to you by relationship but is equivalent to your daughter. She is good natured and bears commendable qualities. She is young and timid by nature. Moreover she got newly married and appears like an embodiment of goddess Lashmi. She is trembling with fear. Kind-hearted Kamsa! I pray to you with raised hands not to kill her (34).”
Thus spoke Vasudeva in a manner suited to convince Kamsa and to provoke passion in him to prevent him from killing Devaki. In spite of that there was no sympathy in Kamsa and with enraged eyes he was getting ready to kill Devaki. Noticing the idiocy in Kamsa and in yet another attempt to convince him, Vasudeva thought as follows (35) :-
“There is no wisdom in losing hope. Time is the deciding factor in shaping the events. One should stand with self-confidence and extend one`s intelligence till the end to think of a remedy to solve a problem being confronted”. So did Vasudeva decide with a steady mind by thinking as mentioned below (36, 37) :-
“It is safe at present to save Devaki in danger by promising to offer to Kamsa the children to be born to her in future. Who knows what is to happen in future? If Devaki remains alive at present a remedy may unfold in future. Let children be born to Devaki! Let them be killed immediately! Will Kamsa himself be immune to danger in future if there is an act of lord Brahma to the contrary? An appropriate solution may be available in future. A forest-fire sometimes leaves trees in the immediate vicinity and engulfs those located far away. So are birth and death controlled by destiny. Being endowed with this wisdom, why should I hesitate in arriving at a decision (38)? It is an intelligent move to promise to Kamsa to give away to him children born to Devaki to rescue her from death at present. Let him leave her now. Circumstances may change totally by the time she starts giving birth to children. By that time some divine help is not ruled out (39).The unseen voice heard from sky says clearly that the eighth child of Devaki kills Kamsa. Why should this be untrue? It is better to get my wife rescued quickly (40).”
Speaking softly and skillfully the following words Vasudeva praised the cruel Kamsa with a smile suppressing the hatred he had internally towards him (41) :- “You are angry since the voice from the sky said that you are to die because of the eighth son to whom Devaki is to give birth. I promise to surrender to you serially all the sons to be born to her so that you can kill them (42).”
On hearing Vasudeva`s words Kamsa felt happy nodding his head, behaving as if he was a person capable of perceiving good qualities in others. Kamsa went away making his frightened sister free by leaving her hair, which he was holding till then in his attempt to kill her. Vasudeva also left with his wife rejoicing that Devaki could escape the clutches of death and thus some time elapsed (43).
Devaki Devi was incessantly tormented by Kamsa. Being blessed with divine grace she gave birth yearly to a total of eight sons and a daughter (44).The first son among the children was handed over soon after birth truthfully with fortitude and without temptation by Vasudeva to Kamsa (45,46). Can there be another bold man like Vasudeva on the face of the earth who could surrender to his foe without delay, deceit and anguish the sons born to him? He was bound by the promise made by him to Kamsa (47).
Sage Suka said, “Oh! King Parikshit! For one who stands steadfast by truth can there be any act which is difficult? For a learned man there exists no special liking. Can there be a greater danger for anyone than lack of enlightenment? For a devotee of god is there anything which cannot be given away to others (48)?”
Being impressed by the honesty of Vasudeva who brought his son truthfully to be handed over, Kamsa uttered the following words :-“Oh! Vasudeva! You take back your son. I am not afraid of him. Nor am I angry with him. My life is to be in danger due to the eighth son to be born to you whom I am going to kill soon after his birth (49,50).”On hearing Kamsa’s words Vasudeva departed taking his son with him (51).
Sage Narada visited Kamsa`s house on a special mission. Finding Kamsa alone he spoke the following words to him and departed to Devaloka :-“Kamsa! Nanda, his associates, their families, relations and Yadavas such as Devaki and Vasudeva residing in Vrepalle are all Devatas in human forms. You are a Rakshasa in your previous birth. Lord Vishnu of whom the Devatas are associates is to take birth as Devaki`s son. He is to kill all the wicked Rakshasas born as a curse to earth (52)”. Kamsa got agitated on hearing Narada’s words. He came to know that Yadavas are Devatas and that he was Kalanemi in his earlier birth being killed by lord Narayana (53). With those thoughts in mind Kamsa got terrified. Enraged he got Devaki and Vasudeva imprisoned. Considering their sons as forms of lord Vishnu, Kamsa killed them at once.With an uncontrolled behaviour he threw his father Ugrasena, the ruler of the kingdoms of Yadu, Bhoja and Andhaka into prison. Showing tenacity he became ruler of the kingdom of Surasena (54).
Motivated by a desire to become a king or to save one`s life, one is tempted in this world to kill anyone including even parents, brothers, friends and relations (55). Thus usurping the kingdom of his father, Kamsa acquired many Rakshasas as his followers. These are Bana, Bhauma, Magadha. Mahasana, Kesi, Dhenuka, Baka, Pralamba, Trunavarta, Chanura, Mushtika, Arishta, Dwivida and Putana, among others. They helped Kamsa to wage wars and defeat Yadavas. The defeated persons left their homes and positions and with their heads bent down out of disgrace migrated to other kingdoms such as Nishada, Kuru,Kosala, Videha, Vidarbha, Kekaya, Panchala and Salva.Some others forsaking their jealousy for Kamsa remained in Madhura serving him as subordinates (56).
In quick succession Kamsa killed the six sons born to Devaki . In order to become the seventh issue Adishesha entered the womb of Devaki as the great and beautiful effulgence or Tejassu of lord Vishnu(57) . In this context, anticipating danger from Kamsa to his Yadava devotees,lord Hari spoke the following words to Yoga Maya Devi (58) :-
“You go to Vrepalle where Gopalakas and Gopikas live. All the wives of Vasudeva except Rohini were imprisoned by Kamsa in Nandagokula. Rohini is a virtuous woman. Transfer the Tejassu of Adishesha from Devaki`s to Rohini`s womb. I take birth as Devaki`s child while you take birth later as the child of Nanda`s wife Yasoda (59). Goddess Maha Maya! You grant prosperity. You are an abode of several fortunes.You are capable of fulfilling all the desires of human beings. They in turn worship you through sacrificial offerings, among others (60). In different parts of the country people worship you as fourteen varied forms.These are Durga, Bhadrakali, Vijaya, Vyshnavi, Kumuda, Chandika, Krishna, Madhavi , Kanyaka, Maya, Narayani, Isana, Sarada and Ambika . Lord Hari ordered Maha Maya to go down to earth. She accepted the order as a great gift of the lord, saluted him and straight came down to earth (61). Accordingly,Yoga Maya transferred the Tejassu emanating from Devaki`s womb to that of Rohini and went away.The citizens of Mathura were sad thinking that Devaki had a miscarriage (62).
Rohini then gave birth to an extra-ordinary male child. Since he was very strong he was known as Balabhadra. Since he was a source of pleasure to all, he was also known as Rama. Further, since he was born after being drawn out from the womb of his mother he was known, in addition, as Sankarshana (63,64). Afterwards the Tejassu or power of lord Vishnu entered into Vasudeva which made him effulgent like the sun, a sight which made the Pancha Bhutas and people around him feel happy(65, 66).Later the all-pervading Vishnu-Tejassu, pivotalto creation, sanctifying and protecting all, entered from Vasudeva to Devaki and made her radiant. She became as bright as the moon-light permeating the entire east before the rising of the moon (67).
Having listened to the account given till then by sage Suka, king Parikshit enquired about subsequent events which the sage narrated as follows :-“ Lord Vishnu who hides the entire universe in himself is growing like the rising sun in Devaki`s womb to take birth to save the earth (68, 69). The symptoms of pregnancy started manifesting in Devaki. While Devaki`s face was getting pale and emaciated due to pregnancy the faces of the wicked also became pale out of fear caused by the impending birth of lord Vishnu.While the child-feeding nipples of Devaki started blackening,the reputation of the foes of the lord was getting tarnished due to his impending advent.While Devaki`s abdomen started getting a shine, bad omens in the houses of the vicious people started becoming prominent. While Devaki`s appetite was getting reduced due to pregnancy, the appetite of the foes of the lord started diminishing due to the panic of getting killed. The enemies of the lord experienced an inexplicable fatigue while Devaki started experiencing tiresomeness due to pregnancy. Laziness in Devaki, reflected as inaction in the adversaries of the lord. While the time to get killed and buried under the soil was approaching for the opponents of the lord, Devaki started relishing the clay of the soil. Lord Hari started growing in the womb of Devaki while her symptoms due to child-bearing were becoming dominant (70,71).
Lord Vishnu, the creator of Pancha Bhutas, the five primordial elements, Jala (Water), Agni (Fire), Vayu (Air), Bhoomi (Earth) and Akasha (Sky), was growing in the womb of Devaki. She started perspiring as if to indicate that the element water came to see the lord. Her body became effulgent as if to suggest that the element fire came to serve the lord. Emotional outbursts came out as gushes of wind from Devaki`s mouth as if to say that the element air came to serve the lord. As if the element earth was desirous of offering prayers to the lord, Devaki started eating more and more of clay. Her waist started to become broader as if to suggest that the element sky came after assuming a shape to offer its services to the lord (73).
Lord Vishnu was to take birth as Devaki`s son to kill the demons who became a menace to the earth. His growth in Devaki`s womb caused changes in her exterior and simultaneously changes in the camps of the demons. While the Molanoolu, the thread she was wearing around her waist, was getting tightened, the Mangalasutras (thesacred threads worn by married women around their necks indicative of well-being and longevity of their husbands) belonging to wives of demons, were getting fragile due to the impending danger to the demons. While the beauty of Devaki was getting enhanced that of the wives of the demons was getting dwindled. While the ornaments of Devaki were becoming a load to her, those of the wives of the foes of the lord were getting disentangled and loosened. While Devaki`s body-weight was increasing that of the wives of the wicked was getting reduced. As the day of delivery of the divine baby was approaching, the life-span of the demons was getting reduced curtailing the duration of the married life of their wives (74,75).
Thus, Devaki, carrying in herself the lord who carries the entire universe in himself, was languishing in captivity, being imprisoned in her brother`s house. Her present plight was comparable to the presence of goddess Saraswati, the embodiment of knowledge, locked up in evil-minded men of letters and to a lighted candle shielded in an opaque pot (76,77). Seeing the increasing glow on the countenance of good-natured Devaki coupled with the effulgence of her skin and her beauty Kamsa was getting dumb-founded and thought as follows within himself (78) :-
“By merely looking at this pregnant Devaki my heart-throb is increasing and my mind is getting agitated. I never had this experience during the earlier pregnancies of her. Vishnu might have entered into her womb this time (79). What am I to think and act? The radiance associated with her pregnancy is increasing day by day. This pregnant innocent girl happens to be my sister. How to kill her? Finally to avoid all problems suppose I decide to kill her, and then are my wealth, longevity, reputation and Dharma not eroded (80)? In society I am to be branded as a cruel man immune to family bonds and such a life is no life at all. Such a man is destined to go to hell. Is it worth living after getting an ill fame as a wicked man (81)? “
With these thoughts in mind, Kamsa became silent, superficially virtuous exhibiting qualities of nobility, boldness and kindness and abstaining temporarily from cruelty being convinced that killing his sister was a great sin (82). Kamsa thought, “An unavoidable great enmity towards Devaki developed. How to negotiate? When is Krishna to take birth as Devaki`s child? I catch hold of the baby soon after birth, right at the place of birth and kill.” Harbouring these thoughts in mind Kamsa was anxiously waiting for the arrival of the baby (83).
Due to the enmity with the lord, Kamsa started thinking only about Vishnu while walking, eating, drinking, sitting and getting up, forgetting everything else. With unending anger he started perceiving permeation of Vishnu throughout the universe (84,85) . He started listening to every sound coming to his ears to check whether it was Hari`s word. Whatever was seen by him was suspected to be the form of the lord. Even when a straw touched his body while walking he was startled thinking it to be the the lord`s hand. Every smell detected by his nose agitated him because of the suspicion that it came from the garland in Hari`s neck. Every word spoken by him was with the suspicion that it could be lord`s name. He was angry that every thought he got was the thought of Vishnu (86, 87).
In the meanwhile. lord Siva and lord Brahma accompanied by Devatas and sages such as Narada and others came to the place of imprisonment of Devaki to praise as follows, lord Purshottama , present as an infant in Devaki`s womb (88) :-