The Story of the Birth of Lord Krishna

Birth of Lord Krishna
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As an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, Krishna is one of the most revered of all Indian divinities, and the legend of the birth of Krishna generates awe among Hindus and overwhelms one with its supramundane nature. Here is a common rendition of Krishna's birth story.

Mother Earth, unable to bear the burden of sins committed by evil kings and rulers, appealed to Brahma, the Creator, for help. Brahma prayed to the Supreme Lord Vishnu, who assured him that he would soon be born on earth to annihilate tyrannical forces.

One such evil force was Kamsa, the ruler of Mathura (in northern India) who inspired terror in his people. On the day Kamsa's sister Devaki was married off to Vasudeva, an akashvani,  or voice from the sky, was heard prophesying that Devaki's eighth son would be the destroyer of Kamsa. The frightened Kamsa immediately unsheathed his sword to kill his sister, but Vasudeva intervened and implored Kamsa to spare his bride, and promised to hand over every newborn child to him. Kamsa relented, but imprisoned both Devaki and her husband Vasudeva.

But when Devaki gave birth to her first child, Kamsa came to the prison cell and slaughtered the newborn. In the same way, he subsequently killed the first six sons of Devaki. Even before her eighth child was born, Devaki and Vasudeva had begun to lament its fate, and theirs.

Then, suddenly Lord Vishnu appeared before them and said that he himself was coming to rescue them and the people of Mathura.

Lord Vishnu asked that in the coming days once he was born to them as an incarnation, for Vasudeva to carry him to the house of his friend, the cowherd chief Nanda in Gokula, where Nanda's wife Yashoda had given birth to a daughter. Vasudeva's instructions were to exchange his boy for Yashoda's baby daughter and bring her back to the prison.

Vishnu assured Devaki and Vasudeva that "nothing shall bar your path."

At midnight on Ashtami, the divine baby was born in Kamsa's prison. Remembering the divine instructions, Vasudeva clasped the child to his bosom and started for Gokula, but found that his legs were in chains. He jerked his legs and was magically unfettered! The massive iron-barred doors unlocked and opened up.

While crossing river Yamuna, Vasudeva held his baby high over his head. The rain fell in torrents and the river was impassable. But the water miraculously made way for Vasudeva, and a five-mouthed snake followed him from behind to provide shelter for the baby.

When Vasudeva reached Gokula, he found the door of Nanda's house open. He exchanged the babies and hurried back to the prison with the baby girl, leaving the boy behind. Early in the morning, all the people at Gokula rejoiced at the birth of Nanda's beautiful male child. Meanwhile, Vasudeva arrived back to Mathura and as he entered the prison, the doors closed themselves.

When the ruler Kamsa came to know about the birth of the eighth child to Devaki and Vasudeva, he rushed inside the prison and tried to kill the baby as he had done all the others.  But this time the child skipped from his hand and reached the sky, where she was transformed into the goddess Yogamaya, who told Kamsa: "O foolish!

What will you get by killing me? Your nemesis is already born somewhere else."

In his youth, Krishna would kill Kamsa along with all his cruel associates, liberate his parents from prison, and reinstate Ugrasen as the King of Mathura.