Kansa: The despotic ruler of Mathura (II)

Kansa: The despotic ruler of Mathura (II)

Love does affect the decisions of a person; it affected the decisions of King Kansa too. With his father-in-law and Magadhan King, Jarasandha’s support, Kansa had become almost invincible. His parents feared him, his people feared him, and other kingdoms feared him. But while enjoying all that fear that he incited, there was one person in his life whom he dearly loved. Ugrasena’s brother Devak had many daughters, but amongst them, Devaki was the apple of King Kansa’s eyes.

As Devaki reached womanhood, Kansa desired to marry her off to a man deserving of her and wanted to see her settled and happy. Hence, a Swayamvar was held to find a befitting groom. This event was attended by many eligible men from royal families. Among them was also Vasudev, son of Yadav King Shurasena. At the end of the competitions, when it was decided that Prince Vasudev would be the one to marry Princess Devaki, King Kansa’s happiness knew no bounds.

The marriage ceremony completed, the newlyweds had to set out on the road to Gokul, where the ancestral Yadav clan home was. Kansa gifted them 400 elephants and a hundred chariots. The royal army was also asked to escort them all the way. As a final gesture of love and affection, Kansa proclaimed that he would drive Vasudev and Devaki’s chariot himself. What happened en-route completely changed the festive situation.

Suddenly the sky grew dark and a heavenly voice spoke, “Beware you fool! You love your sister very much and are driving her chariot; however, you will die at the hands of her eighth son!” Kansa, angered by the fact that the sister on whom he had showered so much affection, would mother his killer, grabbed his sword and lunged at her. Vasudev intervened and reminded him that Devaki was still his beloved sister and that in this situation; she was not directly at fault.

Finally, Vasudev convinced Kansa that killing Devaki was not the only way. He promised that they would remain in Mathura, imprisoned in Kansa’s cells. He also promised that each time Devaki bore a child, the newborn would be handed over to him.

What must it have been like to have entered a prison cell after marriage instead of a Palace? What must it have been like to know that motherhood would come, but so would infanticide? These are aspects that the next blog will explore.

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