Vishnu Purana

(Section 5 and 6)

Vasudeva and Devaki 


Vasudeva married Devaka’s daughter Devaki. Kamsa drove the chariot of the couple on the occasion of the marriage. At that time, divine words were heard from the sky. A voice said, “Stupid Kamsa, whom are you driving in the chariot? The eighth child of this woman is going to kill you.”
When he heard this, Kamsa took up his sword and wanted to kill Devaki. But Vasudeva said, “Brave warrior, do not kill Devaki. Rest assured that I will hand over to you all the children who are born.” Kamsa agreed to this arrangement.
At that time, Prithivi (the earth) went to the gods on Mount Sumeru and complained. She said that the daityas who had been born on earth were creating havoc there. Many years ago, a daitya known as Kalanemi had been destroyed by Vishnu. This Kalanemi had now been born as Kamsa, the son of Ugrasena. He had got together with other evil and powerful kings like Arishta, Dhenuka, Keshi, Pralamba, Naraka, Sunda and Vanasura. All this oppression was proving to be too much for the earth.
Brahman corroborated what the earth had said. He said, “Let us all go to the northern shores of the great ocean and pray to Vishnu there. Whenever something like this happens, Vishnu is born on earth to protect the cause of dharma.”
On hearing these prayers, Vishnu appeared before Braham and the other gods. He heard what the gods had to say and tore off two hairs from his head. “These two hairs of mine will be born on earth to destroy the asuras,” he said. “And all these other gods will also be born on earth to fight with the asuras.” Before disappearing, he also added, “I shall be born as the eighth child of Devaki.”
Kamsa heard all this from the sage Narada. He was furious and imprisoned Vasudeva and Devaki. One by one, six sons were born to Kevaki and Kamsa killed each of these sons. Vasudeva had another wife known as Rohini who lived in Gokula. The seventh son was magically transferred from Devaki to Rohini so that Kamsa never got a chance to kill it. This son grew up to be Sankarshana.
When Vishnu entered Devaki’s body , Devaki looked so bright that no one could bear to glance at her. Krishna was finally born during the monsoon in the month of Shravana. (The accounts in different Puranas do not always agree. In some other accounts, it is stated that Krishna was born in the month of Bhadra.) The actual date was the eighth day of krishnapaksha. He was born right at the stroke of midnight. All the sages were happy at this birth, the winds and the rivers became peaceful. The gandharvas sang and the apsaras danced. The gods showered down flowers form the sky.
Since there was the danger that Kamsa might kill the baby, Vasudeva, proposed to leave the child somewhere else. The guards slept, the prison door opened and the chains fell away by the grace of Vishnu. It was raining furiously that night. But a great snake held up its hood to protect Vasudeva and the baby. Vasudeva had to cross the river Yamuna which was very deep. But thanks to Vishnu, the water never rose above his thighs. Vasudeva corssed the river and met Nanda and other cowherds. Yashoda had given birth to a daughter known as Yogamaya. Vasudeva placed Krishna on Yashoda’s bed and removed Yogamaya. He then returned to the prison with Yogamaya.
The guards woke up and reported to Kamsa that Devaki had given birth to a child. Kamsa rushed to the prison, picked up the baby and threw it down on the stones so as to kill it. But Yu\ogamaya was really a goddess who had been sent by Vishnu. When Kamsa threw her down, the baby rose up into the air and adopted the eight-armed form of the goddess. “Stupid Kamsa.” She said, “the person who will kill has already been born. It was the who had killed you in your last birth.” So saying, Yogamaya disappeared intot he sky.
Kamsa called all his evil friends together and said.”My friends, the mischievous devas are trying to get me killed, but because I am brave, I am not going to pay any attention to this. Have you not seen how Indra fled like a coward before my arrows? In this whole world I am not sacred of anyone other than my guru Jarasandha. These attempts of the devas made me laugh. Nevertheless, one has to be careful as I have been told that Devaki’s son will kill me. We have to kill any male child who seems to be unduly strong.”
He was no further point in detaining Vasudeva and Deaki. He released them and said, “I have unnecessarily killed your children but that must have been their fate. The person who is to kill me must have been born somewhere else.”



The Death of Putana and Other Incidents
Nanda and the other cowherds had come to Mathura to pay taxes to the king. Upon his release, Vasudeva congratulated Nanda for the birth of Nanda’s son. He did not tell Nanda that the son was really his. He told Nanda to quickly return to Gokula and take care of Nanda’s own son as well as Vasudeva’s other son who was with Rohini.
The cowherds returned to Gokula. One night in Gokula, Putana came to feed the young Krishna. Putana was evil. The limbs of any child she fed at night got destroyed. But Krishna grasped Putana and began to drink her life out of her. With a thunderous noise Putana fell down and died.
Another time, the baby Krishna was lying down under a cart. He felt very hungry and was crying and kicking his legs up in the air. As a result of his kicking, the cart got overturneed and all the pots and vats that were on the cart got broken. Everyone came running to see what had happened. They were very surpised to find tha such a small baby had over turned a huge cart. Yoshada worshipped the cart with curds, flowers and fruit.
The sage Garga came to Gokula and named the two sons. Rohini’s son was named Rama and Yoshada’s son was named Krishna. Soon the babies learnt to crawl, and smeared with cowdung, roamed around everywhere. They went into the cowsheds and pulled the tails of calves.
On one particular day Yoshada got tired of all this. She got hold of some ropes and tied up Krishna to a thresher. Then she went away to do her housework. Krishna pulled and tugged at the thresher. There were two big arjuna trees that grew not very far away. Krishna dragged the thresher to these trees and tried to pass through the space between them. But the thresher got stuck in the space between the two arjuna trees. And as Krishna pulled and tugged, the huge trees were uprooted trees on the ground. And Krishna sat there amongst the wreckage, smiling. The rope that Yoshada had tied around his stomach was still there. Because a rope is called dama, Krishna came to be known as Damodara.
But the cowherds of Gokula were worried at what they thought were bad omens. First there was the death of Putana, next there was the overturning of the huge cart and finally there was the uprooting of the trees. They were not aware that Krishna was responsible for all this. They thought that some terrible danger was about to befall Gokula. So with hteir carts and their cattle, they left for Vrindavana.
Rama and Krishna grew up there. They looked after the calves,they played in the fields, they wore peacock feathers on their heads and they played the flute. Amongst their close firends were Shakha and Vishakha.


Kaliya Humbled

Part of the Yamuna river was known as the spot of Kaliya. Kaliya was huge snake that lived in the water. Because the snake lived at that spot, all the trees along the banks were scorched. And if any birds flew over the area and the spray of the water struck them, the birds immediately died. Krishna realized that his snake was none other than the snake which had been defeated by Garuda in the ocean. It had now fled from the ocean and had made a home in the Yamuna. The result was that no one could drink the water of the Yamuna at the spot.
Krishna resolved to kill the snake. He tied his clothes firmly around his body and jumped into the water from a kadamba tree. As Krishna jumped into the river, the spray struck the trees along the bank and because the spray was poisoned by the poison of the snake, the trees began to burn.
Krishna began to swim in the water. On hearing the sound, Kaliya quickly arrived there. His eyes were red with anger and flames issued out of his mouth. He was surounded on all sides by poisonous snakes and the wives of those snakes also accompanied them. All the snakes coiled round Krishna’s body and began to bite and inject venom into him.
Some cowherds saw Krishna in the water, surrounded by snakes. They rushed back to Vrindavana and told everyone what they had seen. Nanda, Yoshada, Rama and the others all came running to the banks of the river. “Where is Krishna, where is Krishna?”, screamed Yoshada.
They all saw Krishna in the water in the midst of the snakes. The women began to cry. Some of them proposed that they should also kill themselved if Krishna had indeed died. Hearing all this commotion, Balarama indicated to Krishna that it was high time that he killed the snake.
Krishna then shook off the coils of the snake. He lowered Kaliya’s hood and climbed up on the top of the hood. There be began to dance. At this the hood began to bleed. Whenever the snake tried to raise his hood, Krishna stamped down with his feet. The snake became unconscious and began to vomit blood. The head and the neck broke and blood began to issue out of these parts as well.
Kaliya’s wives then prayed to Krishna. They begged for mercy. They asked him to spare Kaliya’s life. Kaliya also started to pray to Krishna. At this, Krishna spared the snake. But the condition was that Kaliya and his servants and relatives would have to leave the waters of the Yamuna and go back to the ocean. Henceforth, the mark of Krishna’s feet would stay on Kaliya’s hood. And seeing this mark Garuda would not pester Kaliya any more.
The waters of the Yamuna were purified.


The Killing of Dhenukasura

One day, Balarama and Krishna were wandering around in the forest and came to a grove where there were a lot of tala trees. A daitya who looked like a donkey lived there and survived on deer meat. His name was Dhenuka.
The tala trees were full of rich fruit and the other cowherds wished to help themselves to the fruit. The problem, however, was Dhenukasura, who guarded the tala trees. The cowherds, therefore, requested Balarama and Krishna to pluck some fruit for them. This the two brothers proceeded to do. But as the fruit fell on the ground, the sound attracted the angry Dhenuka who arrived on the scene. With its hind legs the donkey kicked Balarama in the chest. But Balarama caught hold of those legs and began to twirl the donkey round and round. At this, the donkey died and Balarama flung the dead body on the tala trees.
Many other daityas in the form of donkeys also arrived. But Krishna and Balarama killed all of them
The tala grove became safe and cattle began to graze there once again.


The Killing of Pralamba

After killing Dhenukasura, Krishna and Balarama reached a banyan tree. They played and plucked flowers. They wore garlands. Ropes for tying cattle were round their shoulders. Their clothes were in golden and black hues.
Sometimes they rode on swings, sometimes they wrestled, sometimes they flung stones.
An asura known as Pralamba adopted the form of a cowherd and joined the games. Pralamba thought that Krishna might be too strong to kill, so he decided to kill Balarama. The boys were playing at a special sort of race then. Two boys would race upto a point and whoever was the loser would have to run again with the winner on his shoulders. Krishna defeated Shridama at this race. And when Balarama and Pralamba raced, Balarama defeated Pralamba. This meant that Pralamba would have to carry Balarama upon his shoulders. But as soon as Balarama got up on Pralamba’s shoulders, Pralamba began to run away. He adopted the size of a huge mountain and his eyes were as large as cart-wheels.
Balarama cried out, “Krishna, I am being kidnapped. What will I do?”
“Why ask me,” Krishna replied. “You are strong enough. Kill the asura.”
Balarama’s eyes became red with anger. He beat down on the asura’s head with his fists and the asura died. Blood flowed out of his mouth.


Govardhana

This happened one autuman.
The cowherds decided to have a yajna to honour Indra. Indra was the ruler of the waters and it was he who sent the clouds. Without the clouds there would be no rain and without rain there would be no grain. What would the cattle eat in that case? This was the reason why the cowherds wanted to worship Indra.
But Krishna told Nanda, “Father, we are not farmers or traders. We live through animal husbandry, we live in the forests. Our gods should be cattle and the mountains. Let us stop this worship of Indra and let us instead worship the mountain Govardhana.”
Nanda and the other cowherds agreed to this and that was how giri yajna (mountain ceremony) started. Curds, rice pudding and meat were offered to the mountain. Hundreds and thousands of brahmanas and guests were fed.
But Indra was very angry because his yajna had been stopped and he called the clouds to him. “Listen to what I say,” he instructed them. “Destroy the cattle with rain and wind. I will come on Airavata and pour down rain as well.”
Wind and rain started. The clouds were everywhere. There was lightning. And thunder and heavy rain. The world became dark and there was water everywhere. Cows and calves began to die.
Krishna had to do something to protect these unfortuante beings. So he uprooted Govardhana mounatin and held it aloft like an umbrella. The entire mountain was thus balanced on only one of Krishna’s hands. The cowherds and the cattle took refuge under the mountain and in the holes that were there. For seven nights Indra showered down rain. But after that he gave up and Krishna returned the mountain to original place.
Having been defeated in his purpose, Indra appeared before Krishna. “You have saved the cattle,” he said. “You are like their Indra. Therefore, from now on, you will be known as Govinda.”
Indra took down a bell from Airavata’s neck. He filled it with holy water and anointed Krishna. And he said, “My son Arjuna has been born on earth. Please look after him and take care of him.”
Krishna assured Indra that he would do so. The two embraced and parted ways.



Various Exploits

By then the cowherds had realized that Krishna was no ordinary man. They were slightly scared, but Krishna comforted them and told them that he was their friend.

One day, an asura known as Arishta arrived there. This asura had the form of a bull. The bull was dark as the clouds. The horns were sharp and pointed and his eyes were bright as the sun. He tore up the ground with his hooves. He was so tall that it was impossible to climb over him. This bull used to kill the calves and the sages.
Everyone was frightened at Arishta’s arrival. But Krishna clapped his hands. On hearing the sound of the clap, Arishta charged at Krishna with horns lowered. Krishna grasped the horns and stopped the bull. Then he hit Arishta with his thighs. Finally, he tore off one of the horns and attacked Arishta with it. The daitya vomited blood and died.
Narada related all of Krishna’s exploits to Kamsa and Kamsa was enraged. He decided that Balarama and Krishna would have to be killed before they became adults. Kamsa had two strong wrestlers known as Chanura and Mushtika. He plotted to have a wrestling match between Balarama and Krishna and these two wrestlers, and thereby kill the two brothers off. The occasion for this wrestling match would be a yajna that Kamsa would arrange. He would therefore send Akrura to Gokula to bring Balarama and Krishna to Mathura. In addition, he would send an asura known as Keshi to try and kill the two brothers in Gokula itself. A strong elephant called Kubalayapida would also be let loose on the brothers.
Keshi adopted the form of a horse and went to Vrindavana. He tore up the earth with his hooves, she shook the clouds with his mane and he attacked the sun and the moon on his way to Vrindavana. The cowherds were naturally frightened.
But Krishna was there to protect them. He inserted his hands into the horse’s mouth and broke off the horse’s teeth. Like white clouds, one by one the teeth fell down on the ground. After that, Krishna tore off the asura’s lips and the asura began to vomit blood. His eyes fell off. Krishna then tore Keshi into two with his hands. Because Krishna killed Keshi, he came to be known as Keshava.
Meanwhile, Akrura arrived in Gokula and told Balarama and Krishna of Kamsa’s invitation. The two brothers accepted the invitation and resolved to go to Mathura. The cowherds were naturally sorry to see Krishna go. They thought that he would never return to Gokula again. In a chariot, Akrura, Balarama and Krishna set out for Mathura.


Mathura and Kamsa

They reached Mathura in the evening. Akrura went ahead to the palace in the chariot, while Balarama and Krishna entered the city on foot. On the street they met a washerman. They asked the washerman for some nice clothes. But the washerman was Kamsa’s servant. Not only did he refuse them the clothes, he also abused that two brothers. So Krishna hit the evil washerman with his palm and split his head in two. Balarama and Krishna then took away whatever clothes they wanted. Balarama dressed in blue and Krishna dressed in yellow. They then went to the house of a garland-seller. The garland-seller thought that these two were gods. And when Balarama and Krishna asked for flowers, not only did he give them many flowers, he also worshipped them. Krishna blessed the garland-seller.
On the streets they also met a young woman. The woman was pretty, but had a hump on her back. Her name was Kubja. She carried a salver of sandalwood paste in her hands.
“For whom is the paste?”, asked Krishna.
“This is for Kamsa,” was the reply. “He has appointed me to make fragrant paste for him.”
“Please give us the paste,” said Krishna. “This paste is fit for our bodies.”
Kubja complied and Balarama and Krishna rubbed the paste on their bodies. Then Krishna grasped Kubja’s chin with his index and middle fingers.. He pressed down her feet with his own so that they did not move. As he exerted pressure upwards, Kubja’s body straightened and the hump disappeared. Kubja became a beautiful woman.
At the yajna that Kamsa had arranged, a bow was to be worshipped. Krishna and Balarama asked various guards where this bow was being kept. They arrived at that room and Krishna proceeded to tie a string to the bow. But the bow snapped and the sound of the bow snapping was heard throughout the palace. The guards came and attacked Krishna and Balarama, but the two brothers killed all the guards.
By then, Kamsa had got to know that Krishna and Balarama had come to Mathura. So he called Chanura and Mushtika and told them to go and wrestle with the two brothers and kill them. He also called the servant who was in charge of his elephant known as Kubalayapida at the main gate to the palace. It was night. After issuing these instructions, Kamsa waited for morning.
When it was morning, arrangements were made for the wrestling match. There were ordinary seats for ordinary citizens around the arena where the match was to take palace. Kings and special guests had special seats reserved for them. Kamsa sat on the highest seat of all. The women sat behind a partition. Amongst the spectators were Nanda and the cowherds, Vasudeva, Akrura and Devaki.
Marital music started to be played. Chanura and Mushtika stood in the middle of the arena, exhibiting their strength. Krishna and Balarama entered the arena. At the main gate they had killed the elephant Kubalayuapida and they carried the bloody tusks in their hands.
The schedule was that Krishna would fight with Chanura and Balarama would fight with Mushtika. The first wrestling match between Krishna and Chanura began. It was a terrible bout to behold. Both were strong fighters. But eventually, Krishna raised Chanura’s body aloft and whirled it around a hundred times before throwing Chandura down on the ground. Chanura died. Meanwhile Balarama had started to fight with Mushtika. He hit Mushtika’s head and chest with his fists and thighs. And he grasped Mushtika so hard that the breath of life went out of Mushtika’s body. Krishna also killed another wrestler whose name was Toshalaka.
Kamsa was very angry. He instructed his guards to capture Krishna and Balarama and tie them up in iron chains. The guards were also to chain up Vasudeva and the cowherds.
But Krishna merely laughed. He jumped up on the stage where Kamsa was sitting and caught hold of Kamsa’s hair. He threw Kamsa down on the ground and Kamsa, the son of Ugrasena, died. Krishna pulled the dead body down to the arena. Kamsa’s body was so heavy that a huge pit was created where the dead body was placed.
Kamsa had a brother called Sumali and Sumali attacked Krishna and Balarama. But Balarama killed Sumali very easily. Krishna and Balarama then ent and met Vasudeva and Devaki.
Kamsa had imprisoned his own father Ugrasena. Krishna released Ugrasena from the prison and made him king. Krishna also obtained a beautiful assembly hall named Sudharma from Indra. This he repesented to King Ugrasena.
Since Kamsa was now dead, it was time for Krishna and Balarama to go to their guru’s house for studying. Their guru was a sage named Sandipani, who lived in Kashi. There Krishna and Balarama went to learn amongst other things, the art of fighting. It took them only sixty-four days to learn all this. After the shishya’s studies are completed he has to give a dakshina to his guru. Sandipani’s son had died and as a guru dakshina, Sandipani desired that his dead son might be brought back to life.
After death, the sage Sandipani’s son had gone to the great ocean. Krishna and Balarma took up their weapons and went to the ocean to demand the son. The ocean told them that the son was actually with a daitya named Panchajana who had the form of a conch-shell. Krishna entered the ocean and killed it. From the skeleton of the daitya was made the conch-shell Panchajanya that Krishna blows. To get back the dead son, Krishna and Balarama also had to go to Yama’s world and defeat Yama. They did that and returned the son to the sage Sandipani.
They then returned to Mathura.


Jarasandha

Kamsa had married two of Jarasandh’s daughters. These daughters were known as Asti and Prapti. On hearing that Krishna had killed his son-in-law, Jarasandha raised a huge army and attacked the Yadavas. The city of Mathura was under seize by the king of Magadha.
Krishna and Balarama had only a few soldiers, as compared to Jarasandha’s gigantic army. But still they came out to fight. From the sky a bow called Sharnga, two quivers that never ran out of arrows, and a mace named Koumodaki fell into Krishna’s hands. For Balarama the weapons were a plough and a club named Sounanda. Jarasandha was defeated by the two brothers and he fled.
After a few days Jarasandha attacked once more and was defeated yet again. This continued. There were eighteen occasions on which Jarasandha attacked and was defeated by the Yadavas.



Kalayavana
There was a brahmana named Gargya who had been insulted and ridiculed by the Yadavas. This brahmana went to the shores of the southern ocean and began to perform tapasya. His desire was a son who would be the scourge of the Yadavas. As part of the tapasya, he ate only iron dust for food. The tapasya went on for twelve years and at the end of it, Mahadeva was pleased. The brahmana obtained the desired boon.
The son who was born was black of hue. The king of the Yavanas had no son and the brahmana’s son was adopted by the Yavana king. Eventually, this son became the king of the Yavanas and came to be known as Kalayavana.
Kalayavana wanted to know the names of all the powerful on the earth from Narada. He was told the names of the Yadava kings. So he decided to attack the Yadavas. He collected thousands and thousands of chariots, horses, elephants and infantry. Then he came to Mathura to wage war.
Krishna was worried. He realized that the Yadavas would become weakened from their war with Kalayavana. And if Jarasandha’s attack came after that, the Yadavas might even lose at the hands of Jarasandha. On the other hand, if the Yadavas became weak from a war with Jarasandha, they might lose the war with Kalayavana. There was danger from both sides. It was, therefore, necessary to build a strong fort from where the Yadavas could wage a long drawn out war, even in the absence of Krishna. On the shores of the ocean Krishna, therefore, built the city of Dvaraka. There were many gardens and lakes in Dvaraka. But more importantly, it was surrounded by walls and moats on all sides and there were several forts inside the city. All the citizens of Mathura were brought to Dvaraka.
Krishna then appeared before Kalayavana. At the sight of Krishna, Kalayavana began to follow him, desirous of a fight. Krishna had a plan. He went inside the cave where a powerful king known as Muchukunda was sleeping. Kalayavana followed Krishna inside the cave. It was dark inside so that Kayavana could not make out that the person who was sleeping was Muchukunda and not Krishna. So, thinking that it was Krishna, Kalayavana kicked the body. When the king woke up, the anger in him came out as fire through his eyes and this fire burnt up Kalayavana into ashes.
Many years ago, King Muchukunda had taken part in a fight between the devas and the asuras. After killing many asuras Muchukunda was tired. He craved a boon from the gods that he might sleep for a long period of time. The devas granted the boon and also said that whoever woke up Muchukunda would be burnt into ashes by the flames that would come out of the king’s body.
Having burnt up Kalayavana King Muchukunda came out of the cave and found that people were now much shorter than they used to be . He realized that the kali era must have arrived and went off to do tapasya on Mount Gandhamadana.
Kalayavana’s soldiers were defeated by Krishna.


Balarama and The River Yamuna

Now that there was peace, Balarama went on a trip to Gokula. There he met all his old friends and throughly enjoyed himself.
One day he found that there was wine issuing out of a kadamba tree. Balarama drank a lot of the wine and became drunk. Since he was drunk he had lost control of his senses. He, therefore, told the river Yamuna, “River Yamuna, I feel like having a bath. Change your course and come here so that I may fulfil my desire.”
Yamuna ignored this instruction. At this, Balarama was enraged and took up his plough. With his plough he grasped the river and pulled her towards himself, “You won’t come , will you?”, he said. “Let me see how you can flow where you wish.”
The course of the river was changed.
Yamuna appeared before Balarama and begged for forgiveness.
This was granted.
When Balarama’s bath was over, Lakshmi appeared before him and gave a garland of lotuses which never fade. She also gave him two pieces of blue clothing.
Balarama returned to Dvaraka after having spent two months in Gokula. He married King Raivata’s daughter Revati and had two sons named Nishatha and Ulmuka.


Rukmini and Rukmi

There was a king named Bhishmaka who ruled in the kingdom of Kundina. The king had a son named Rukmi and a daughter named Rukmimi. Krishna and Rukmini wished to marry each other. But Rukmi did not like Krishna, so he refused to get his sister married off to Krishna.
Bhishmaka was also an ally of Jarasandha’s. So he agreed with Rukmi and decided to marry his daughter to Shishupala. All these allies of Jarasandha’s went to Kundina to witness the marriage and Krishna and the Yadavas also went there. But one day before the marriage was due to take place, Krishna abducted Rukmini.
Thereupon several kings like Poundraka, Dantavakra, Viduratha, Shishupala, Jarasandha and Shalva attacked the Yadavas so as to kill Krishna. But they were defeated by Balarama and the other Yadavas.
Rukmi resolved, “I will not return to Kundina without killing Krishna.” He followed Krishna with many soldiers, horses, elephants,and chariots. But Krishna easily defeated Rukmi.
When Krishna was about to kill Rukmi, Rukmini said, “I have only one brother. Please spare his life.”
Krishna spared Rukmi’s life. But Rukmi had resolved that he would not return to Kundina without killing Krishna. So he had to build a new city known as Bhojakata where he began to live.
Krishna married Rukmini according to the rakshasa form of marriage. They had a son called Pradyumna who was kidnapped by Shambarasura as soon as he was born. But later, Pradyumna was to kill Shambarasura.
“Tell me this story,” asked Maitreya of Parashara.
Shambarasua knew that Pradyumna was destined to kill him. So six days after Pradyumna’s birth, he kidnapped the newly born baby and threw it into the ocean. The ocean was full of sharks and crocodiles. The baby might have died, but a fish swallowed it up and the baby was saved. Later on, some fishermen caught the fish and brought it to Shambarasura’s kitchen.
Shambarasura had a housekeeper named Mayavati. When the fish was cut, Mayavati found the baby inside. She was very surprised. “Who is this boy and how did he come to be here?’, she wondered. She went to Narada to find out who the boy was and Narada told her the entire story. He also told her to ensure that the boy was brought up properly.
This Mayavati proceeded to do. She was well versed in the techniques of maya or illusions and these she taught to Pradyumna. When Pradyumna grew up, she told him the entire story of his birth and kidnapping. Hearing this, Pradyumna challenged Shambarasura to a duel. Shambarasura used a lot of maya, but thanks to Mayavati, Pradyumna had also learnt the use of maya. So he did manage to kill Shambarasura.
After this, Pradyumna and Mayavati returned to Krishna and Rukmini. Everyone was happy and Pradyumna married Mayavati.
Apart from Pradyumna, Krishna and Rukmini had eight other sons and a daughter. And apart from Rukmini, Krishna had seven other major wives. Their names were Kalindi, Mitravinda, Satya, Jambavati or Rohini, Sushila, Satyabhama, and Lakshmana. The total number of Krishna’s wives was sixteen thousand.
Pradyumna married King Rukmi’s daughter and had a son named Aniruddha. Aniruddha married Rukmi’s grand-daughter. On the occasion of this marriage, Krishna, Balarama and the other Yadavas arrived at Rukmi’s capital Bhojakata.
After the marriage was over, some kings told Rukmi, “Balarama is addicted to playing dice, although he cannot play it at all well. Why not arrange match of dice in which we can defeat Balarama?”
Rukmi agreed to this proposition and a match was arranged in which Rukmi played with Balarama. In the first round, Rukmi won four thousand gold pieces off Balarama. This happened a second time and a third time as well. At this, the king of Kalinga and Rukmi began to laugh at Balarama.
Balarama got angry and placed four crores of gold pieces as a bet. Rukmi threw the dice, but this time Balarama won.
“I have won,” said Balarama.
“No, you haven’t”, replied Rukmi. “You did place the bet, but I did not accept it. So you have not really won.”
Words were then heard from heaven which said that it was Balarama who was in the right. Although Rukmi had not verbally accepted the bet, his throwing of the dice meant that the bet was acceptable to him.
This roused Balarama’s anger and he picked up a dice and killed Rukmi with it. He also caught hold of the king of Kalinga and broke off the king’s teeth. It was with these teeth that the king of Kalinga had laughed at Balarama. Many were the other kings whom Balarama killed on this occasion.



The Killing of Narakasura
Once Indra came to Davaraka on the elephant Airavata. He met Krishna and complained about the behaviour of a daitya named Narakasura.
This Narakasura was the son of Prithivi and the king of Pragjyotishapura. He was oppressing all living beings. He was kidnapping the daughters of devas, asuras and kings and imprisoning them in his house. Naraka had also stolen Varuna’s umbrella from which the rains came, and the peak of Mount Mandara. In addition he had robbed Indra’s mother Aditi of her earrings and was now threatening to steal Airavata.
Krishna decided to do something about Naraksura. He thought of Garuda and immediately, Garuda appeared before him. Krishna and Satyabhama got onto Garuda and flew towards Pragjyotishapura. There was an asura named Muru who had installed many sharp stakes around Naraka’s city. But Krishna sliced off these stakes with his sudarshana chakra. And when Muru attacked him, Krishna killed Muru and his seven thousand sons with the chakra. He also killed two others. Hayagriva and Panchajana, and arrived at Pragyotishapura.
A terrible war raged between the armies of Narakasura and Krishna. Krishna killed thousands and thousands of asuras and sliced Narakasura in two with his chakra.
Inside Narakasura’s palace Krishna found sixteen thousand and one hundred women whom Narakasura had imprisoned. There were also several horses and six thousand elephants with four tusks each. All of these Krishna sent to Dvaraka. Krishan put the other things that Naraka had stolen on Garuda and proceeded towards heaven to return them to their rightful owners.


The Taking of Parijata

Krishna arrived at the gates of heaven and blew upon his conch shell. The gods came out to worship Krishna. Krishna first went to Aditi’s house and returned her earrings. Aditi blessed Satyabhama and gave her the boon that Satyabhama would never grow old or ugly, she would be in a state of perpetual youth.
Aditi also told Indra to worship Krishna. But Indra’s wife Shachi thought that Satyabhama was a mere human, so she did not give Satyabhama any parijata flowers, although she wore them herself.
Krishna and Satyabhama went for a stroll in the gardens and there they saw the parijata tree. The leaves of the tree were of copper colour and the bark was of gold. Satyabhama said, “Why don’t you take this tree to Dvaraka?” And she persisted, “If you really love me, please take this tree to our house. I will wear the flowers on my hair.”
Krishna laughed. He uprooted the tree and placed it on Garuda’s back. The guards said, “Please don’t take this tree. It belongs to Shachi, the wife of Indra.” They also pointed out that the taking of the tree would arouse the wrath of the gods.
At this, Satyabhama grew angry. “Who is Indra and who is Shachi?”, she said. “This tree came out of the churning of the ocean, so it belongs to everyone. Why should Indra alone enjoy it? My husband is taking away this tree, go and tell Shachi this. Let me see if her husband can prevent it from happening. Go and tell Shachi that a mere human is taking the tree away.”
The guards went and told Shachi what was happening. Incited by Shachi, Indra attacked Krishna with all the soldiers that the gods could muster. Indra had his vajra for a weapon, the other devas had clubs, swords, maces and spears. On seeing Indra on Airavata, Krishna blew on his conch shell and let loose thosuands and thousands arrows. The gods flung many weapons at him, but Krishna repelled all these weapons. Garuda also helped in the fight. With a mace Krishna destroyed Yama’s weapon. With his chakra he destroyed Kubera’s palanquin. With a glance he robbed the sun of all energy. Agni was defeated with Krishna’s arrows. The vasus, the rudras, the maruts and the gandharvas had to flee.
Indra and Krishna fought with each other while Garuda fought with Airavata. Indra finally took up his vajra and Krishna took up his chakra. Everyone in the worlds was frightened because the worlds might be annihilated. But when Indra hurled his vajra, Krishna simply caught the weapon in his hand. He did not fling the chakra. Indra started to run away.
Satyabhama taunted him. “Indra, king of the gods, why are you running away?”, she said. “Aren’t you Shachi’s husband? Fleeing does not become you! Don’t run away. Here , take the parijata tree. Let the minds of the gods be at rest.”
Indra then apologised for all that had happened. He also said that there was no shame in losing to Krishna. For Krishna was, after all, nothing but Vishnu.
Krishna smiled and returned the parijata tree, as well as Indra’s vajra. But Indra refused to take the tree back. He requested Krishna to take the tree to Dvaraka. Once Krishna died, the tree would return on its own to heaven. This Krishna agreed to do and the tree got the pride of place in Krishna’s garden in Dvaraka. All the Yadavas came to see it.
Narakasura’s elephants, horses and other wealth had also been brought to Dvaraka. The sixteen thousand and one hundred women that Narakasura had imprisoned had come to Dvaraka. Krishna married all of them.


Usha and Vanasura

Krishna had more than one lakh and eighty thousand sons. But the best of them was Pradyumna and Pradyumna’s son was Aniruddha.

Vali’s son was Vanasura and Vanasura’s daughter was Usha. Usha once met Parvati and Shiva. She asked Parvati who her husband would be. Parvati replied that in the month of Vaishakha a person would appear in Usha’s dreams. And this person would be her husband.
As promised by Parvati, Usha did see a person in her dreams. But she did not know how this person was. She told her friend Chitraleka about this. Chitralekha thought that the only way to find out was to show Usha the protraits of various important personages amongst the devas, gandharvas and asuras. But the required person could not be identified from these portraits. Usha was then shown the portraits of humans and immediately she identified Aniruddha.”
Many years ago, Vanasura had prayed to Mahadeva,” he had said, “please grant me fights. I have ten thousand arms. What will I do with all these arms if I don’t get a chance to fight?”
“Be patient,” replied Mahadeva. “One day you will find your flag lying broken. When that happens, you will get the opportunity to fight as much as you wish.”
At this Vanasura was happy.
Meanwhile, once Aniruddha’s identity had been established, Chitralekha wondered what could be done. She went to Dvaraka and secretly brought Aniruddha to meet Usha. That was the very day on which Vanasura found his flag lying broken. The guards also came and informed him that Aniruddha was with Usha. Vanasura sent his soldiers to fight with Aniruddha, but Aniruddha killed them all with a club.
Then Vanasura himself entered the fray. Initially, he was beaten by Aniruddha. But he used maya to tie Aniruddha up.
Narada went to Dvaraka and told the Yadavas this. So Krishna, Balarama and Pradyumna came to rescue Aniruddha. Many were the soldiers that Krishna killed before entering the city. Also at the gate was a demon known as Jvara, a demon with a huge body, three arms and three legs. This demon had been born out of Mahadeva’s body. The demon was so powerful that it even caused Balarama some discomfort. But Krishna created a demon from his own body which killed the demon Jvara.
Krishna killed many asura soldiers. Vanasura himself came out to fight. Mahadeva and Kartikeya fought on Vana’s side and Vanasura’s chariot was driven by Nandi. Terrible was the war between Krishna and Mahadeva and everyone thought that the world would come to an end. But Krishna tired out Mahadeva. Pradyumna defeated Kartikeya, and Balarama killed many of Vanasura’s soldiers. Krishna and Vanasura shot arrows at each other. Then Krishna took up this sudharshana chakra and sliced of all Vanasura’s arms. But when he was about to kill Vanasura, Mahadeva intervened and begged for Vana’s life. This boon Krishna granted.
At the end of the war, Aniruddha and Usha too returned to Dvaraka with the other Yadavas.



The Slaying of Pundraka
There was a king named Poundraka who suffered from the illusion that he was Krishna, the incarnation of Vishnu on earth. He adopted the name of Vasudeva and sent a messenger to Krishna saying, “Stop pretending that you are Vishnu. It is I who am Vasudeva. Come to me and beg for your life.”
Poundraka was a friend of the king of Kashi. Krishna told the messenger tha the would leave for Kashi the very next day.
Hearing the message, Poundraka got ready with his army. Krishna arrived in Kashi on Garuda. Krishna killed the enemy soldiers with his arrows, mace and chakra. He sliced Poundraka’s body with his chakra and eventually killed him with a mace. He also killed Poundraka’s friend, the king of Kashi. He cut of fthe king’s head with his arrows and flung it into the city of Kashi. After that, Krishna returned to Dvaraka.
When the head of the king of Kashi fell inside the city, the inhabitants were surprised at this strange phenomenon. But the king’ son found out that Krishna was responsible for this and prayed to Mahadeva. When as a result of the yajna Mahadeva appeared before him, the son begged, “Please create a demon that will kill Krishna, my father’s murderer.”
Mahadeva agreed and created such a demon fromt he fire of the yajna. This demon arrived in Dvaraka wishing to kill Krishna. Flames issued out of its mouth and its hair was also like fire. Krishna flung his sudarshana chakra at the demon. The demon turned and ran, but whereever the demon went, the chakra followed. Finally, the demon arrived in Kashi. But the chakra followed it there and burnt up the entire city. All the kings, servants, horses, elephants and cattle thee were burnt.
Having achieved its purpose, the chakra returned to Krishna.


Shamba’s Wedding

Krishna’ son Shamba wanted to marry Duryodhana’s daughter. He kidnapped her. But Karna, Duryodhana, Bhishma, Drona and other warriors fought with Shamba and managed to imprison him. On learning the news, the Yadavas got ready to fight with the Kauravas.
But Balarama restrained the Yadavas. “Leave it to me,” he said. “Let me go alone. The Kauravas will listen to me and will let Shamba go.” Balarama went to Hastinapura but did not enter the city. Duryodhana and the others learnt of this and came to pay thier respects. Balarama then told them that King Ugrasena had requested that Shamba might be released.
But this request made the Kauravas angry. “Balarama, what are you saying?” they asked. “How dare the Yadavas order the Kauravas?” This is a bit like a servant ordering a master.
Refusing to release Shamba, the Kauravas returned to Hastinapura. This angered Balarama. He grasped the foundations of Hastinapura city with his plough and prepared to hurl the city into the Bhagirathi river. This brought the Kauravas to their senses and they begged for forgiveness.
Shamba and his wife were brought to Balarama and he forgave the
Kauravas. Ever since tha tday, Hastinapura leans towards the river on one side.


The Death of Dvivida

The asura known as Naraka was opposed to the devas. And Naraka had a monkey friend named Dvivida. Dvivida fought with the devas and became particularly belligerent after Naraka was killed by Krishna. He destroyed all the yajnas and persecuted the sages. He also destroyed cities, villageas and forests. He even tore up mountains and flung them into the ocean. The ocean overflowed and flooded cities and villages.
One day, Balarama was busy drinking in a garden. Dvivida arrived there and began to make a general nuisance of himself. He picked up Balarama’s plough and club. And despire Balarma’s warning him, he continued to laugh at him. Greatly angered, Balarama picked up his club and the monkey also picked up a huge boulder. Balarama broke up the monkey’s boulder with his club. The monkey then began to hit Balarama on the chest. But Balarama brought down his fists on the monkey’s head and the monkey died.


The End of the Yadavas

There was a place of pilgrimage known as Pindaraka. Some Yadava youths once met the sages Kanva, Vishvamitra and Narada there. The Yadava youths dressed Shamba up as a woman and brought him to the sages. “Sages,” they asked, “tell us whether this woman will have a son or a daughter.”
The sages saw through the game and were angered at the insult. “This person will give birth to a club,” they said. “And that club will destroy your clan.”
In due course a club came out of Shamba’s body. But learning of the curse, King Ugrasena pulverised the club and had the dust scattered in the ocean. But the dust got changed into sharp reeds that grew on the shores of the ocean.
A small part of the club could not be crushed. This was thrown into the ocean as it was, and a fish swallowed this piece. When the fish was caught, this piece of the club came out of the fish’s stomach and a hunter named Jara acquired the piece.
There was a place of pilgrimage known as Prabhasa and eventually the Yadavas went there. Only one Yadava named Uddhava went off to do tapasya on Mount Gandhamadana. In Prabhasa, the Yadavas began to drink and soon lost all control of their senses. They started to fight and picked up the reeds that were growning on the shores as weapons. Krishna did try to restrain them, but the Yadavas were in no mood to listen. Soon, Krishna and Daruka were the only Yadavas who were left alive.
Krishna and Daruka were wandering around and found Balarama seated under the tree. A huge snake came out of Balarama’s mouth and disappeared into the sea. This meant that Balarama died.
Krishna told Daruka, “Go and tell King Ugrasena all this. Soon I too will die. And soon the sea will swallow up the city of Dvaraka. Go and tell the Yadavas who are left in Dvaraka that they should wait for Arjuna’s arrival and that they should leave the city with Arjuna. And go and tell Arjuna to protect my people as best as he can. Vajra is to be made the king the Yadavas.”
Daruka paid his respects to Krishna and left.
Krishna sat down to meditate. The hunter named Jara arrived there. He had fashioned an arrow-head out of the piece of the club. Seeing Krishna’s feet, he thought that it was part of a deer and let loose an arrow. When he came up to see what happened, he found that his arrow had pierced the body of a man. He begged for forgiveness and Krishna assured him that Jara would go to heaven. In fact, a chariot immediately arrive to take Jara to heaven.
Krishna died. He was a hundred years old.
Arjuna found the dead bodies of Krishna, Balarama and other important Yadavas and performed their shraddha ceremonies. Krishna’s eight major wives died on Krishna’s funeral pyre. Revati did the same on Balarama’s . Urgasena, Rohini, Devaki and Vasudeva also entered a fire. The others left Dvaraka with Arjuna.
As soon as Krishna died, the parijata tree and the assembly hall named Sudharma returned to heaven. The kali era began. And the city of Dvaraka was swallowed up by the sea, with the exception of Krishna’s own dwelling.
Arjuna settled some of the Yadavas in the Punjab. But when he was taking the Yadava women with him, the party was set upon by a band of dacoits. Arjuna tried to repel the dacoits but found that he had lost all his powers. His strength had left him with Krishna’s death.
This is the end of the fifth section of the Vishnu Purana.



The Kali Era
Maitreya wanted to know more about the kali era.
In the kali era, the norms of varna and ashrama will not be followed as is laid down in the Vedas. No one will pray to the gods . Relations between guru and shishya will cease. Might will be right. Women will all the time take care of their hair. Wealth will mean everything. Instead of spending money on dharma , people will spend money on building houses. Money will be spent for oneself and not for guests. Men will be selfish. Money will be earned through evil means. There will be drought.
Men will not bathe before their meals. Both men and women will become shorter. Women will not obey their husbands. The kings will not take care of the subjects, but will only impose taxes. People will become old when they reach the age of twelve and no one will live for more than twenty years. Evil will flourish. No one will worship Vishnu. All the classes will become like shudras.
There is only one good thing about kali yuga. In satya yuga one had to do a lot of tapasya to earn some punya. In kali yuga the same punya can be acquired through a little tapasya. The equivalence is like this. Ten years of tapasya in satya yuga are equal to one year of tapasya in treta yuga, one month of tapasya in dvapara yuga and one day of tapasya in kali yuga.
Vyasadeva said that shudras and women are fortunate. The other varnas have to do many things to enter that dharma is being followed. But for the shudras the path of dharma is simple. They only have to serve the other varnas to acquire punya. Similarly men have to do many things to achieve punya. For women, the attainment of punya is easy; they only have to serve their husbands.


Destruction

There are three types of pralaya or destruction, the first being brahma or naimittika. Naimittika pralaya takes place after a kalpa, that is after one of Brahma’s days and after fourteen Manus have passed. Before this pralaya, the earth becomes weak and there are no rains for a hundred years. Vishnu adopts the form of Rudra and drinks up all the water that there is in the rivers, the oceans, the seas and the mountains. The seven rays of the sun manifest themselves as seven different suns. These suns burn up the three worlds. Not only is bhuloka burnt up, but bhuvarloka and svarloka are also destroyed. There are dark and thick clouds everywhere. For a hundrd years it continues to rain. All is darkness. For a hundred years the winds blow. And Vishnu sleeps on the waters that are everywhere till the worlds are created again.
The second type of destruction is known as prakrita pralaya. The three basic gunas are, as you know, sattva, rajas and tamas. Their perfect balance is known as prakriti. At the time of destruction when prakriti becomes assimilated into the paramatman, that is known as prakrita pralaya. The third type of pralaya is known as atyatika pralya. This refers to the disppearance of three types of distress, adhyatmika, adhidaivika and adhibhoutika. Adhyatmika distress consists of physical and mental ailments like fever and sadness. Adhidaivika distress is that due to the elements, such as coldness and heat. Adhibhoutika distress is that which humans face from other livings beings, such as ghosts and snakes. At the time of atyantika destruction, these distresses also disappear.


Keshidhvaja and Khandikya

Many years ago there was a king named Dharmadhvaja. He had two sons, Mitadhvaja and Kritadhvaja. Kritadhvaja was interested in acquiring knowledge and his son Keshidhvaja also became interested in acquiring spiritual knowledge. Mitadhvaja’s son Khandikya was a king, interested in karma yoga, that is, union with God through action.
Both Khandikya and Keshidhvaja tried to outdo each other. Khandikya eventually lost his kingdom to Keshidhvaja and went off to the forest with his priests and minsiters. Although he became a king, Keshidhvaja used to perform yajnas. Once the cow intended for the yajna was eaten up by a tiger. This was a sin and Keshidhvaja had to atone for it. He asked several sages what the form of penance (prayashchiita) should be, but none of the sages knew. They all said that the right person to ask was Khandikya, who was now living in the forest.
Keshidhavaja dressed himself up in deerskin and went to meet Khandikya. Thinking that Keshidhvaja might have come to kill him, Khandikya took up his bow and arrow. But Keshidhvaja told him that he had merely come to ask Khandikya a question. Khandikya told him what the right penance was and Keshidhvaja successfully completed the yajna.
But he then realized that he had not given Khandikya the dakshina or fee that was due to a guru. As dakshina, Khandikya desired that Keshidhvaja instruct him on the path to spiritual knowledge.
Keshidhvaja told Khandikya about the true nature of the atman, which was different from the mere physical body. True knowledge was that which taught that the atman was part of the paramatman and that one should therefore not get attached to material possessions. This realization came about through the practise or yoga.
How The Puranas Came Down to us
At the end, the Vishnu Purana narrates how the Puranas came to be handed down to us through generationsof disciples.
The Puranas tell men of the ways to attain moksha (salvation). Ages ago, Brahma himself had told the sage Ribhu the story of the Puranas. From Ribhu the knowledge had passed to Priyavrata and from Priyavrata to Bhaguri. Bhaguri gave the knowledge to Stavamitra and Stavamitra to Dadhichi. From Dadhichi it passed to Sarasvata, from Sarasvata to “Bhrigu, from Bhrigu to Purukutsa, from Purukutsa to Narmada, from Narmada to Dhritarashtra and Purana. Dhritarsashtra and Purana gave the knowedge to Vasuki, Vasuki to Vatsa and Vatsa to Ashvatara. Ashvatara passed it on to Kambala and Kambala to Elapatra.
The sage Vedashira acquired the knowledge of the Puranas from the underworld and gave it to Pramati, Pramati gave it to Jatukarna and Jatukarna passed it on to many sages.
Parashara had learnt of the Puranas from Vashishtha and he had now passed on the knowledge to Maitreya. Maitreya would eventually teach it to Shamika.


So ends the sixth and final section of the Vishu Purana. 


 
(My humble salutations to the lotus feet of Swamyjis, Philosophic Scholars, Knowledge seekers for the collection)





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