The story that began in Satya Yuga with Prajapati Sutapa and Prsni, is finally coming full circle as we discuss the events of the night we now celebrate as Janmashtami. What happened on this night is a famous story and is recounted every time this day arrives. But very few people have followed this story from the origin. If you have been reading all the blogs, then now you know how several storylines came together so that the events of Janmashtami could transpire without any glitch. We are going to discuss the final leg of the story now.
When telling this story, people usually focus on Devaki, but there are three other women who must be mentioned here to completely understand the story. As has been mentioned earlier, the 7th time Devaki was with child, it was Balaram in her womb. By divine design, this baby had been transferred to Vasudev’s other wife, Rohini’s womb. Here in Mathura, it seemed like Devaki had lost her child. Rohini had already given birth to Balaram, who would later become Krishna’s elder brother and closest friend.
Vasudeva’s elder brother, Nandalal, who was the head of the gopa tribe, resided in Gokul with his Queen, Yashoda. Yashoda was also with child at this point. The child in her womb was none other than Devi Yogmaya, who is said to be the source of all of Lord Vishnu’s power.
Another aspect of the story that people hardly know is that of Queen Kunti. Kunti, at this point, was also with child. This child would grow up to be Arjuna. Kunti is also Vasudev and Nandalal’s sister, which means that Krishna and the Pandavas are related, they are cousins. And Kunti too gave birth to Arjuna the same night on which Lord Krishna was born.
Finally the night arrived when the rain raged outside the palace, and inside, in the prison cell, Devaki’s labor pain had started. After a while, just before Devaki was about to give birth, there was a divine voice in the cell, but only Vasudev and Devaki could hear it.
‘Vasudev, as soon as Devaki’s son is born, take him to Gokul to Nandalal and Yashoda’s house. Yashoda will also give birth tonight. Place your son beside Yashoda and bring her daughter back here. Your son must live, he is coming to vanquish all evil and re-establish law and order. He is the savior of humankind. Nandalal and Yashoda will be deep in sleep and will not know that the exchange has happened.’
Devaki’s labor pain had reached its last legs and she knew the baby was going to come any second now. Just then, as if by a miracle, the guards stationed outside the cell fell into a deep sleep and the shackles binding Devaki and Vasudev fell open on their own. After a while, Devaki gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. The baby had four arms because Lord Vishnu had manifested in his original form, and his complexion was so dark that his skin almost had a bluish tint.
For a while, mother and father wondered at their newborn, but Vasudev knew what he must do and that he did not have much time. As if understanding everything by Vasudev’s expression, the baby changed into a normal form, with two arms. Vasudev tried the door of the cell and found it open. Stepping outside, he noticed a basket lying to one side of the corridor. He placed the baby in it and set out, with Devaki uttering her final goodbyes to her son.
The river Yamuna flowed between Mathura and Gokul, and while usually, it was a tame and shallow river, right now, due to the torrential rain, the river had swollen in-depth and the current in those pitch-black waters was strong. Vasudev cautiously stepped in and soon the water was up to his chest. He raised the basket over his head to save the child but also worried that the baby would get soaked in the rain.
Just then, a huge multi-headed snake started following him, providing a canopy to the baby and him. At first, seeing this huge creature, Vasudev was terrified. But then he realized that this snake was simply Seshnag, who provides a canopy to Lord Vishnu, and he was just fulfilling his duty.
Having crossed the river safely and thanked the serpent, Vasudev hurried to Nandalal’s house. As promised, everyone was in a deep slumber and he faced no obstruction. Entering the master bedroom, he saw that Nandalal and Yashoda were asleep, only the baby girl was awake as if awaiting his arrival. He quickly made the exchange and hurried back to Mathura.
With Seshnag assisting him as before, he crossed the Yamuna with the infant girl. Reaching the palace, he quickly entered the prison cell, locked himself in and placed the girl beside Devaki. Immediately the shackles were back in place and the guards woke up. Seeing the baby beside Devaki, their leader ran off to inform King Kansa.
Moments later, Kansa arrived. There was a demonic glee in his eyes because he was finally about to kill the cause of his future death. As with every other child, he picked the baby up and swung her by the legs, intending to bash her brains out against the wall. But then the baby girl slid out of his hands and assumed her original form. This is the first manifestation of Devi Yogmaya, later she would manifest again and again and would be known by many names.
Hovering in mid-air, the magnificent Goddess laughed.
‘Kansa, the one who is meant to kill you is safe in Gokul! And when he is of age, he will come to kill you. You cannot evade your fate, no matter how hard you try!’
With this, the goddess vanished, and everyone was left speechless.
And indeed, while Krishna was growing up, Kansa made numerous attempts to kill him, sending daityas disguised as humans, but his attempts were in vain. What was meant to be, came to be, and Kansa died at the hands of Lord Krishna.