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Birth of Lord Krishna.
At the time of Krishna’s appearance, an atmosphere of peace, beauty and goodness prevailed throughout the entire universe. In the cloudless sky, the stars were arranged very auspiciously and they twinkled brightly. All directions were very pleasing to see, and the earth looked enchanting with its decorations of towns, villages and pasturing grounds. The rivers flowed with clear water, and the lakes, filled with lotuses and lillies, appeared very beautiful. Trees and plants were filled with fruit and flowers, and the birds sang with very sweet voices. A pure and gentle breeze was blowing, which was very pleasing to the sense of touch, and which was scented with the fragrance of flowers.
The brahmanas and rishis had been greatly disturbed by demons like Kansa, and thus had practically stopped their ritualistic activities. Now, however, the sacrificial fire burned brightly and steadily and they felt peace within the cores of their hearts, so that they could happily perform their duties.
The sounds of drums could be heard throughout the sky. In heaven, the Kinnaras and Gandharvas sang, the Siddhas and Charanas offered prayers, while the Vidyadharis and Apsaras danced in jubilation. The demigods and celestial rishis showered flowers in a joyful mood, while the clouds that had gathered in the sky mildly thundered.
In this setting, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu appeared from Devaki’s heart, in the dense darkness of the night, like a full moon rising on the eastern horizon. Indeed, because the Lord appeared in his dynasty, the moon was overjoyed. Thus, even though it was the eighth day of the waning moon, he became full just to welcome the Lord.
Vasudeva saw the newborn child as having four arms, and carrying the shankha, chakra, gada and padma. On His chest was the mark of Shrivatsa, and around His neck He wore the Kaustubha gem. Dressed in yellow garments, having a blackish complexion like that of a dark cloud, His scattered hair fully grown, and his helmet and earrings sparkling with Vaidurya gems, the child appeared very wonderful. In this way, Krishna first appeared in His form as Lord Vishnu, illuminating the room with His effulgence.
Vasudeva was astonished, and in great happiness he mentally distributed ten thousand cows to the brahmanas as a way of celebrating the Lord’s appearance as his son. Understanding the child to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva became fearless of Kansa.
With folded hands, he bowed down and prayed, “My Lord, You are the supreme person, who in the beginning created this material world. Now, it appears that You have entered it, although in fact You have not, because You are all-pervading. You are beyond the perception of the senses, but by Your mercy, You have appeared before us.”
“As Maha-Vishnu, lying on the Causal Ocean, innumerable universes manifested from Your breathing. Thereafter, You entered into each universe as Garbhodakashayi Vishnu, and then as Kshirodakashayi Vishnu You entered into the hearts of all living beings. What then is the wonder of Your having entered Devaki’s womb?”
“My Lord, now that You have appeared, I am confident that You will annihilate the armies that are moving over the surface of the earth under the leadership of politicians who are dressed as kshatriyas, but are factually demons.”
“O Lord of the demigods, because of hearing the prophecy that You would appear as Devaki’s son, Kansa has killed Your elder brothers. Now, as soon as he hears of Your appearance, he will immediately come here with weapons to kill You.”
Seeing that her child had all of the symptoms of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Devaki was greatly astonished. At the same time, due to parental affection, she was afraid that Kansa would kill Him.
Devaki thus prayed, “My dear Lord, You are the original cause of this material creation, and at the end, when all is annihilated and enters into the unmanifest, You alone remain in Your form of Ananta Shesha-naga. In this world, no one is free from birth, old age, disease and death. But, now that You have appeared, death is fleeing in fear of You, and those who take shelter of You have attained peace.”
“My Lord, You dispel the fear of Your devotees, and so I request You to please give us protection from the terrible fear of Kansa. Please make this Vishnu form invisible to those who see with material eyes. I am becoming more and more anxious, so please arrange that Kansa will not understand that You have appeared.”
Devaki knew that Lord Vishnu is millions of times more powerful than Kansa, but still, due to parental affection, she was afraid that her child would somehow be killed. Actually, Devaki requested the Lord to assume the form of an ordinary human baby so that Kansa would not be able to understand Him to be Lord Vishnu. Although Vasudeva and Devaki had handed over their first six sons to Kansa as promised, they now felt inclined to somehow hide the child, and this would be impossible if He remained in His four-armed form.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead replied, “My dear mother, best of chaste women, in your previous birth, in the Svayambhuva millenium, you were known as Prishni, and Vasudeva was the son of Brahma, a most pious Prajapati, named Sutapa. When you were both ordered by Lord Brahma to create progeny, first you controlled your senses by performing severe austerities.”
“My dear father and mother, you endured rain, wind, scorching sunshine, and severe cold. While practicing pranayama to control the air within the body, you ate only dry leaves that had fallen from the trees. In this way, desiring a benediction from Me, you cleansed your mind of all dirty things while passing 12,000 celestial years thinking of Me.”
“O sinless mother Devaki, at this time, I became very satisfied with you and so I appeared in this same form and requested you to accept a benediction from Me. You then expressed your desire to have a son exactly like Me. Being husband and wife, but without a son, you were attracted by sexual desires. By the influence of the internal potency, you desired to have Me as your son, and because of this, you never desired to be liberated from this world.”
“After awarding you your desired benediction, I disappeared from that place, and thereafter you engaged in sex so that you could have a son like Me. Because I found no one else as highly qualified as you, I appeared in this world as Prishnigarbha, in the Treta-yuga.”
“In the next millenium I once again appeared as your son. I was known as Upendra, and also Vamana, because of being a dwarf. You were known as Aditi and Kashyapa. Now, I have appeared as Your son for the third time, in My original form, and not as a partial expansion. Please take My words to be the truth. I showed you this Vishnu form just to remind you of My previous births. Otherwise, if I had appeared just like an ordinary human child, you would not have believed that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu, had appeared.”
“Both of you, husband and wife, should constantly think of Me as your son, but at the same time you must know that I am the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By constantly thinking of Me, you will achieve the highest perfection of life by going back home, back to Godhead.”
Devaki wanted the Lord to transform Himself into a human child, thinking that if He remained in His Vishnu form, none of her neighbors would believe that He was her child. The Lord was also anxious, thinking that if He appeared as an ordinary child, Devaki would not believe Him to be the Supreme Lord. Such are the dealing between the devotees and the Supreme Lord.
After thus instructing His mother and father, the Supreme Personality of Godhead remained silent. Then, by His internal potency, He transformed Himself into a small human child, or in other words, into His original form of Krishna. From within, Krishna inspired Vasudeva to pick Him up and take Him to Vrindavana, to exchange Him with the daughter just born to Yashoda. Just at this time, Yogamaya, the Lord’s spiritual energy, appeared as the daughter of Nanda Maharaja’s wife.
By the influence of Yogamaya, all of the doorkeepers at Kansa’s prison fell fast asleep, and indeed, everyone in the palace slept soundly. The closed doors, which were strongly locked with iron chains, as well as Vasudeva’s shackles opened miraculously. Because it was mildly thundering and showering, Ananta-shesha, an expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, followed Vasudeva with expanded hoods to protect him and the transcendental child.
Because of constant rain, the River Yamuna was very deep and agitated, with foaming waves. But just as the ocean had formerly given way to Lord Ramachandra, the River Yamuna allowed Vasudeva to cross. When Vasudeva reached Nanda Maharaja’s house, he saw that all of the cowherd men were fast asleep. Thus he easily placed his son on Yashoda’s bed and picked up her daughter, who was an expansion of Yogamaya. Thereafter, he returned to Kansa’s prison. Vasudeva then placed the female child on Devaki’s bed, and once again put the iron shackles on his legs.
Exhausted by the labor of childbirth, Yashoda had slept deeply and was unable to understand what child had been born to her.
Vasudeva knew very well that Kansa would immediately try to kill the baby girl that he brought. Nanda Maharaja was Vasudeva’s good friend, but still, he felt justified in killing his friend’s daughter so that he could protect his own child. Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura says that one cannot be blamed for protecting one’s own child by sacrificing another’s. Furthermore, Vasudeva cannot be accused of callousness, because his actions were impelled by Yogamaya.