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The killing of the demon Putana.
As Nanda Maharaja was returning home, he very carefully thought about what Vasudeva had said, believing that his words could never be without value. Thus being convinced that some danger must be at hand, Nanda Maharaja became afraid for his son and so he took shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord for protection.
At this time, the fierce Rakshasi, Putana, who had been ordered by Kansa to kill babies, was wandering throughout the towns and villages, doing her nefarious duty. One day, Putana, who could move according to her will, even in outer space, utilized her mystic power to transform her body into that of a very beautiful woman, and then entered Gokula.
Putana’s hips were full, and her breasts were large and firm, seeming to burden her thin waist. She was dressed very nicely, and her hair, which was adorned with a garland of mallika flowers, was scattered about her beautiful face. She smiled very attractively while glancing upon everyone, and indeed, her beauty drew the attention of all the inhabitants of Vraja, especially the men. When the gopis saw her, they thought that the goddess of fortune had personally come there, holding a lotus flower in her hand, to see her husband, Krishna.
While thus searching for small children, Putana entered Nanda Maharaja’s house unobstructed, under the influence of the Lord’s superior potency. Without asking permission, she entered Nanda Maharaja’s room, where she saw baby Krishna sleeping on a bed, His unlimited prowess covered like a fire covered by ashes. She could nonetheless understand that the child was not ordinary, but was meant to kill all of the demons that are always busy creating disturbances.
Lord Shri Krishna could understand that Putana had come to kill Him. Just to reassure her, Krishna pretended to be afraid of her and so He closed His eyes. Putana picked up the baby and placed Him upon her lap, just as a foolish person might pick up a sleeping snake, thinking it to be a rope.
Putana’s heart was fierce and cruel, but she looked and acted just like an affectionate mother. In this way, she resembled a sharp sword in a soft sheath. Being captivated by Putana’s beauty, Yashoda and Rohini did not try to stop her, but simply remained silent.
Putana pushed her breast into Krishna’s mouth. Her nipple was smeared with a strong poison that was immediately effective, and Krishna became very angry with her because she had killed so many small children in Vrajabhumi. Taking hold of Putana’s breast, Krishna squeezed it very tightly with both hands and then sucked out both the poison and her life.
Feeling excruciating pain, Putana cried out, “Please leave me, leave me! Suck my breast no longer!”
Her eyes were wide open and she was perspiring profusely, while her arms and legs flailed about. Indeed, as Putana screamed loudly, the earth with all its mountains, as well as outer space with its planets, and the lower planets as well, trembled. People were seen falling down, fearing that thunderbolts were going to strike them.
In this way, Putana lost her life. Her mouth open; and her hair, arms and legs spread; she fell down in the pasturing ground in her original form as a Rakshasi. Putana’s gigantic body smashed all of the trees for twelve miles. Her sharp teeth each resembled the front of a plow. Her nostrils were deep, like mountain caves; and her breasts were like big slabs of stone fallen from a hill. Her scattered hair was the color of copper, the sockets of her eyes were like blind wells, and her fearful thighs resembled the banks of a river. Her arms and legs were like huge bridges, and her abdomen like a dried-up lake.
The hearts, ears and heads of the cowherd men and women were already shocked by the Rakshasi’s screaming, and when they saw the fierce wonder of her body, they became even more alarmed.
Without fear, child Krishna was playing on the upper portion of Putana’s breast, and when the gopis saw this, they quickly came and picked Him up, overjoyed that He was safe and sound.
Although Putana could expand her size to become greatly powerful, Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is all-powerful in any form, even that of a small baby.
Thereafter, Mother Yashoda and Rohini, along with other elderly gopis, waved a cow’s tail to give protection to the child Shri Krishna. They thoroughly washed Krishna with cow urine and then smeared Him with the dust raised by the movement of cows. Then twelve names of the Lord were applied to different parts of His body with cow dung, beginning from the forehead. In this way, the child was given protection. The gopis then executed the process of achamana by sipping water from the right hand and chanting the nyasa-mantra, applying it to their bodies and the body of child Krishna, for purification.
The mantras chanted by the gopis consist of many names of Lord Vishnu, each chanted along with some part of the body or some activity one may be engaged in. Lord Vishnu is one, but He has different names and forms with which to act differently. But if one cannot remember all of the names, one may simply chant “Lord Vishnu, Lord Vishnu, Lord Vishnu” or the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. Even Ayurveda-shastra recommends that while taking medicine, one should remember Lord Vishnu, because the medicine is not everything. The Supreme Lord is the real protector.
The gopis also chanted mantras to counteract evil witches, for they are the greatest enemies of children. The mantras also counteract evil spirits that are always ready to give trouble to the body and cause loss of memory, madness and bad dreams. Such evil spirits can be vanquished, however, simply by uttering the holy name of Lord Vishnu, for upon hearing it, they become afraid and go away.
Mother Yashoda picked up Krishna, gave Him the nipple of her breast to suck, and then made Him lie down on His bed.
Meanwhile, the cowherd men, headed by Nanda Maharaja, returned from Mathura, and when they saw Putana’s gigantic dead body, they were extremely astonished. Nanda Maharaja exclaimed, “My dear friends, you must know that Anakadundubhi has become a great master of mystic power! Otherwise, how could he have foreseen that such a calamity would occur?”
After hurrying home, Nanda Maharaja took Krishna upon his lap and smelled His head with great satisfaction- relieved that He had been saved from such a great danger.
This is the difference between a kshatriya and a vaishya. By studying the political situation, Vasudeva could see what would happen, whereas Nanda could only guess that Vasudeva was a great saintly person who had developed mystic powers.
The residents of Vrindavana cut Putana’s body into pieces with their axes. Then, they used wood to burn the pieces to ashes. It is the practice that when a snake is killed it is cut into pieces and burned, for otherwise, it may come back to life.
Krishna had sucked Putana’s breast, and so she had become freed of all material contamination. Because of this, as the body was burned, it emanated a fragrance like aguru. Putana always hankered after the blood of human children, and with that desire she had approached Krishna, but because she offered her breast to the Lord, she attained the greatest achievement. What then can be said of those like mother Yashoda, who offer their breasts out of love? Putana attained the position of nurse assistant of mother Yashoda in the spiritual world because Krishna sucked her breast. What then can be said of the cows whose nipples Krishna sucked with great pleasure, and who offered their milk very jubilantly, just like mothers?