43. The Killing of Kamsa
43 / The Killing of Kaṁsa
After Kaṁsa's wrestlers expressed their determination, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the killer of Madhu, confronted Cāṇūra, and Lord Balarāma, the son of Rohiṇī, confronted Muṣṭika. Kṛṣṇa and Cāṇūra and then Balarāma and Muṣṭika locked themselves hand to hand, leg to leg, and each began to press against the other with a view to come out victorious. They joined palm to palm, calf to calf, head to head, chest to chest and began to strike each other. The fighting increased as they pushed one other from one place to another. One captured another and threw him down on the ground, and another rushed from the back to the front of another and tried to overcome him with a hold. The fighting increased step by step. There was picking up, the dragging and pushing, and then the legs and hands were locked together. All the arts of wrestling were perfectly exhibited by the parties, as each tried his best to defeat his opponent.
Kamsa, the King of Mathura Tries to Kill Krishna and Balarama with two very strong wrestlers, Mustika and Canura.
But the audience in the wrestling arena was not very satisfied because the combatants did not appear to be equally matched. They considered Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma to be mere boys before the wrestlers Cāṇūra and Muṣṭika, who were huge men as solid as stone. Being compassionate and favoring Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, many members of the audience began to talk as follows. "Dear friends, there is danger here." Another said, "Even in front of the King this wrestling is going on between incompatible sides." The audience had lost their sense of enjoyment. They could not encourage the fighting between the strong and the weak. "Muṣṭika and Cāṇūra are just like thunderbolts, as strong as great mountains, and Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma are two delicate boys of very tender age. The principle of justice has already left this assembly. Persons who are aware of the civilized principles of justice will not remain to watch this unfair match. Those taking part in this wrestling match are not very much enlightened; therefore whether they speak or remain silent, they are being subjected to the reactions of sinful activities." "But my dear friends," another in the assembly spoke out, "just look at the face of Kṛṣṇa. There are drops of perspiration on His face from chasing His enemy, and His face appears like the lotus flower with drops of water. And do you see how the face of Lord Balarāma has turned especially beautiful? There is a reddish hue on His white face because He is engaged in a strong wrestling match with Muṣṭika."
Ladies in the assembly also addressed one another, "Dear friends, just imagine how fortunate the land of Vṛndāvana is where the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself is present, always decorated with flower garlands and engaged in tending cows along with His brother, Lord Balarāma. He is always accompanied by His cowherd boy friends, and He plays His transcendental flute. The residents of Vṛndāvana are fortunate to be able to constantly see the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, which are worshiped by great demigods like Lord Śiva and Brahmā and the goddess of fortune. We cannot estimate how many pious activities were executed by the damsels of Vrajabhūmi so that they were able to enjoy the Supreme Personality of Godhead and look on the unparalleled beauty of His transcendental body. The beauty of the Lord is beyond compare. No one is higher or equal to Him in beauty of complexion or bodily luster. Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma are the reservoir of all kinds of opulence--namely wealth, strength, beauty, fame, knowledge and renunciation. The gopīs are so fortunate that they can see and think of Kṛṣṇa twenty-four hours a day, beginning from their milking the cows or husking the paddy or churning the butter in the morning. While engaged in cleaning their houses and washing their floors, they are always absorbed in the thought of Kṛṣṇa."
The gopīs give a perfect example of how one can execute Kṛṣṇa consciousness even if he is in different types of material engagement. By constantly being absorbed in the thought of Kṛṣṇa, one cannot be affected by the contamination of material activities. The gopīs are, therefore, perfectly in trance, samādhi, the highest perfectional stage of mystic power. In the Bhagavad-gītā, it is confirmed that one who is constantly thinking of Kṛṣṇa is a first-class yogi among all kinds of yogīs. "My dear friends," one lady told another, "we must accept the gopīs' activities to be the highest form of piety; otherwise, how could they have achieved the opportunity of seeing Kṛṣṇa both morning and evening when He goes to the pasturing ground with His cows and cowherd boy friends and returns in the evening? They frequently see Him playing on His flute and smiling very brilliantly."
When Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supersoul of every living being, understood that the ladies in the assembly were anxious for Him, He decided not to continue wrestling but to kill the wrestlers immediately. The parents of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, namely Nanda Mahārāja, Yaśodā, Vasudeva and Devakī, were also very anxious because they did not know the unlimited strength of their children. Lord Balarāma was fighting with the wrestler Muṣṭika in the same way that Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was fighting and wrestling with Cāṇūra. Lord Kṛṣṇa appeared to be cruel to Cāṇūra, and He immediately struck him thrice with His fist. The great wrestler was jolted, to the astonishment of the audience. Cāṇūra then took his last chance and attacked Kṛṣṇa, just as one hawk swoops upon another. Folding his two hands, he began to strike the chest of Kṛṣṇa, but Lord Kṛṣṇa was not even slightly disturbed, no more than an elephant that is hit by a flower garland. Kṛṣṇa quickly caught the two hands of Cāṇūra and began to wheel him around, and simply by this centrifugal action, Cāṇūra lost his life. Kṛṣṇa then threw him to the ground. Cāṇūra fell just like the flag of Indra, and all his nicely decorated ornaments were scattered hither and thither.
Muṣṭika also struck Balarāma, and Balarāma returned the stroke with great force. Muṣṭika began to tremble, and blood and vomit flowed from his mouth. Distressed, he gave up his vital force and fell down just as a tree falls down in a hurricane. After the two wrestlers were killed, a wrestler named Kūṭa came forward. Lord Balarāma immediately caught him in His left hand and killed him nonchalantly. Another wrestler of the name Śala came forward, and Kṛṣṇa immediately kicked him and cracked his head. Another wrestler named Tośala came forward and was killed in the same way. Thus all the great wrestlers were killed by Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, and the remaining wrestlers began to flee from the assembly out of fear for their lives. All the cowherd boy friends of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma approached Them and congratulated Them with great pleasure. While drums beat and they talked of the victory, the leg bells on the feet of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma tinkled.
All the people gathered there began to clap in great ecstasy, and no one could estimate the bounds of their pleasure. The brāhmaṇas present began to praise Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma ecstatically. Only Kaṁsa was morose; he neither clapped nor offered benediction to Kṛṣṇa. Kaṁsa resented the drums' being beaten for Kṛṣṇa's victory, and he was very sorry that the wrestlers had been killed and had fled the assembly. He therefore immediately ordered the drum playing to stop and began to address his friends as follows: "I order that these two sons of Vasudeva be immediately driven out of Mathurā. The cowherd boys who have come with Them should be plundered and all their riches taken away. Nanda Mahārāja should immediately be arrested and killed for his cunning behavior, and the rascal Vasudeva should also be killed without delay. Also my father, Ugrasena, who has always supported my enemies against my will, should be killed."
Krishna kills the King of Mathura, Kamsa, simply by punching him with His fists.
When Kaṁsa spoke in this way, Lord Kṛṣṇa became very angry with him, and within a second He jumped over the high guards of King Kaṁsa. Kaṁsa was prepared for Kṛṣṇa's attack, for he knew from the beginning that He was to be the cause of his death. He immediately unsheathed his sword and prepared to answer the challenge of Kṛṣṇa with sword and shield. As Kaṁsa wielded his sword up and down, hither and thither, Lord Kṛṣṇa, the supreme powerful Lord, caught hold of him with great force. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the shelter of the complete creation and from whose lotus navel the whole creation is manifested, immediately knocked the crown from the head of Kaṁsa and grabbed his long hair in His hand. He then dragged Kaṁsa from his seat to the wrestling dais and threw him down. Then Kṛṣṇa at once straddled his chest and began to strike him over and over again. Simply from the strokes of His fist, Kaṁsa lost his vital force.
In order to assure His parents that Kaṁsa was dead, Lord Kṛṣṇa dragged him just as a lion drags an elephant after killing it. On sight of this, there was a great roaring sound from all sides, as some spectators expressed their jubilation and others cried in lamentation. From the day Kaṁsa heard that he would be killed by the eighth son of Devakī, he was always thinking of Kṛṣṇa twenty-four hours a day without any stoppage--even while he was eating, while he was walking, while he was breathing--and naturally he got the blessing of liberation. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is stated, sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ: a person gets his next life according to the thoughts in which he is always absorbed. Kaṁsa was thinking of Kṛṣṇa with His wheel, which means Nārāyaṇa who holds a wheel, conchshell, lotus flower and club.
According to the opinion of authorities, Kaṁsa attained sārūpya-mukti after death, that is to say he attained the same form as Nārāyaṇa (Viṣṇu). On the Vaikuṇṭha planets all the inhabitants have the same bodily features as Nārāyaṇa. After his death, Kaṁsa attained liberation and was promoted to Vaikuṇṭhaloka. From this instance we can understand that even a person who thinks of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as an enemy gets liberation and a place in a Vaikuṇṭha planet, so what to speak of the pure devotees who are always absorbed in favorable thoughts of Kṛṣṇa? Even an enemy who is killed by Kṛṣṇa gets liberation and is placed in the impersonal brahmajyoti. Since the Supreme Personality of Godhead is all good, anyone thinking of Him, either as enemy or as friend, gets liberation. But the liberation of the devotee and the liberation of the enemy are not the same. The enemy generally gets the liberation of sāyujya, and sometimes he gets sārūpya liberation.
Kaṁsa had eight brothers, headed by Kaṅka. All of them were younger than he, and when they learned that their elder brother had been killed, they combined together and rushed towards Kṛṣṇa in great anger to kill Him. Kaṁsa and his brothers were all Kṛṣṇa's maternal uncles. They were all brothers of Kṛṣṇa's mother, Devakī. When Kṛṣṇa killed Kaṁsa He killed His maternal uncle, which is against the regulation of Vedic injunction. Although Kṛṣṇa is independent of all Vedic injunction, He violates the Vedic injunction only in inevitable cases. Kaṁsa could not be killed by anyone but Kṛṣṇa; therefore Kṛṣṇa was obliged to kill him. As far as Kaṁsa's eight brothers were concerned, Balarāma took charge of killing them. Balarāma's mother, Rohiṇī, although the wife of Vasudeva, was not the sister of Kaṁsa; therefore Balarāma took charge of killing all of Kaṁsa's eight brothers. He immediately took up an available weapon (most probably the elephant's tusk which He carried) and killed the eight brothers one after another, just as a lion kills a flock of deer. Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma thus verified the statement that the Supreme Personality of Godhead appears to give protection to the pious and to kill the impious demons, who are always enemies of the demigods.
The demigods from the higher planetary systems began to shower flowers, congratulating Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. Among the demigods were powerful personalities like Lord Brahmā and Śiva, and all joined together in showing their jubilation over Kaṁsa's death. There was beating of drums and showering of flowers from the heavenly planets, and the wives of the demigods began to dance in ecstasy.
The wives of Kaṁsa and his eight brothers became aggrieved on account of their husbands' sudden deaths, and all of them were striking their foreheads and shedding torrents of tears. They were crying very loudly and embracing the bodies of their husbands. The wives of Kaṁsa and his brothers began to lament, addressing the dead bodies: "Our dear husbands, you are so kind and are the protectors of your dependents. Now, after your death, we are also dead, along with your homes and children. We are no longer looking very auspicious. On account of your death, the auspicious functions which were to take place, such as the sacrifice of the bow, have all been spoiled. Our dear husbands, you treated persons ill who were faultless, and as a result you have been killed. This is inevitable because a person who torments an innocent person must be punished by the laws of nature. We know that Lord Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the supreme master of everything and the supreme enjoyer of everything, and therefore anyone who neglects His authority can never be happy, and ultimately, as you have, he meets death."
Since Kṛṣṇa was kind and affectionate to His aunts, He began to give them solace as far as was possible. The ritualistic ceremonies after death were then conducted under the personal supervision of Kṛṣṇa because He happened to be the nephew of all the dead princes. After finishing this business, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma immediately released Their father and mother, Vasudeva and Devakī who had been imprisoned by Kaṁsa. Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma fell at Their parents' feet and offered them prayers. Vasudeva and Devakī had suffered so much trouble because Kṛṣṇa was their son; it was beause of Kṛṣṇa that Kaṁsa was always giving them trouble. Devakī and Vasudeva were fully conscious of Kṛṣṇa's exalted position as the Supreme Personality of Godhead; therefore, although Kṛṣṇa touched their feet and offered obeisances and prayers to them, they did not embrace Him, but simply stood up to hear the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although Kṛṣṇa was born as their son, Vasudeva and Devakī were always conscious of His position.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Forty-third Chapter of Kṛṣṇa, "The Killing of Kaṁsa."