The death of Kansa announced. Earth, oppressed by the Daityas, applies to the gods. They accompany her to Vishnu, who promises to give her relief. Kansa imprisons Vasudeva and Devaki. Vishnu s instructions to Yoganidra.
Maitreya. 1 You have related to me a full account of all the different dynasties of kings, and of their successive transactions. I wish
now to hear a more particular description, holy Rishi, of the portion of Vishnu 2 that came down upon earth, and was born in the family of Yadu. Tell me also what actions he performed in his descent, as a part of a part of the supreme, upon the earth 3.
Parasara. I will relate to you, Maitreya, the account which you
have requested; the birth of a part of a part of Vishnu, and the benefits which his actions conferred upon the world.
Vasudeva formerly married the daughter of Devaka, the illustrious Devaki, a maiden of celestial beauty. After their nuptials, Kansa, the increaser of the race of Bhoja, drove their car as their charioteer. As they were going along, a voice in the sky, sounding aloud and deep as thunder, addressed Kansa, and said, "Fool that you are, the eighth child of the damsel whom you are driving in the car shall take away your life 4!" On hearing this, Kansa drew his sword, and was about to put Devaki to death; but Vasudeva interposed, saying, "Kill not Devaki, great warrior; spare her life, and I will deliver to you every child that she may bring forth." Appeased by which promise, and relying on the character of Vasudeva, Kansa desisted from the attempt.
At that time, Earth, overburdened by her load, repaired to mount Meru to an assembly of the gods, and addressing the divinities, with Brahma at their head, related in piteous accents all her distress. Agni"," said Earth, "is the progenitor of gold; Surya, of rays of light 5: the parent and guide of me and of all spheres is the supreme Narayana, who is Brahma, the lord of the lord of patriarchs; the eldest of the eldest born; one with minutes and hours; one with time; having form, though indiscrete. This assemblage of yourselves, O gods, is but a part of him. The sun, the winds, the saints, the Rudras, the Vasus, the Aswins, fire, the patriarch creators of the universe, of whom Atri is the first, all are but forms of the mighty and inscrutable Vishnu. The Yakshas, Rakshasas, Daityas, spirits of evil, serpents, and children of Danu, the singers and nymphs of heaven, are forms of the great spirit, Vishnu. The heavens painted with planets, constellations, and stars; fire, water, wind, and myself, and every perceptible thing; the whole universe itself consists of Vishnu. The multifarious forms of that manifold being encounter
and succeed one another, night and day, like the waves of the sea. At this present season many demons, of whom Kalanemi is the chief, have overrun, and continually harrass, the region of mortals. The great Asura Kalanemi 6, that was killed by the powerful Vishnu, has revived in Kansa, the son of Ugrasena, and many other mighty demons, more than I can enumerate, as Arishta, Dhenuka, Kesin, Pralamba, Naraka, Sunda, and the fierce Bana, the son of Bali 7, are born in the palaces of kings. Countless hosts of proud and powerful spirits, chiefs of the demon race, assuming celestial forms, now walk the earth; and, unable to support myself beneath the incumbent load, I come to you for succour. Illustrious deities, do you so act that I may be relieved from my burden, lest helpless I sink into the nethermost abyss."
When the gods had heard these complaints of Earth, Brahma at their request explained to them how her burden might be lightened. Celestials"," said Brahma, "all that Earth has said is undoubtedly true. I, Mahadeva, and you all, are but Narayana; but the impersonations of his power are for ever mutually fluctuating, and excess or diminution is indicated by the predominance of the strong, and the depression of the weak. Come therefore, let us repair to the northern coast of the milky sea, and having glorified Hari, report to him what we have heard. He, who is the spirit of all, and of whom the universe consists, constantly, for the sake of Earth, descends in a small portion of his essence to establish righteousness below." Accordingly Brahma, attended by the gods, went to the milky sea, and there, with minds intent upon him, praised him whose emblem is Garuda.
"O thou," said Brahma, "who art distinct from holy writ 8; whose double nature is twofold wisdom 9, superior and inferior, and who art the
essential end of both; who, alike devoid and possessed of form, art the twofold Brahma 10; smallest of the least, and largest of the large; all, and knowing all things; that spirit which is language; that spirit which is supreme; that which is Brahma, and of which Brahma is composed! Thou art the Rich, the Yajush, the Saman, and the Atharvan Vedas. Thou art accentuation, ritual, signification, metre, and astronomy; history, tradition, grammar, theology, logic, and law: thou who art inscrutable. Thou art the doctrine that investigates the distinctions between soul, and life, and body, and matter endowed with qualities 11; and that doctrine is nothing else but thy nature inherent in and presiding over it 12. Thou art imperceptible, indescribable, inconceivable; without name, or colour, or hands, or feet; pure, eternal, and infinite. Thou hearest without ears, and seest without eyes. Thou art one and multiform. Thou movest without feet; thou seizest without hands. Thou knowest all, but art not by all to be known 13. He who beholds thee as the most subtile of atoms, not substantially existent, puts an end to ignorance; and final emancipation is the reward of that wise man whose understanding cherishes nothing other than thee in the form of supreme delight 14. Thou art the common centre of all 15, the protector of the
world; and all beings exist in thee: all that has been, or will be, thou art. Thou art the atom of atoms; thou art spirit; thou only art distinct from primeval nature 16. Thou, as the lord of fire in four manifestations 17, givest light and fertility to Earth. Thou art the eye of all, and wearer of many shapes, and unobstructedly traversest the three regions of the universe. As fire, though one, is variously kindled, and, though unchangeable in its essence, is modified in many ways, so thou, lord, who art one omnipresent form, takest upon thee all modifications that exist. Thou art one supreme; thou art that supreme and eternal state which the wise behold with the eye of knowledge. There is nothing else but thou, O lord; nothing else has been or will be. Thou art both discrete and indiscrete, universal and individual, omniscient, all seeing, omnipotent, possessed of all wisdom and strength and power. Thou art liable neither to diminution nor increase; thou art independent and without beginning; thou art the subjugator of all. Thou art unaffected by weariness, sloth, fear, anger, or desire. Thou art free from soil, supreme, merciful 18, uniform, undecaying, lord over all, the stay of all, the fountain of light, imperishable. To thee, uninvested by material envelopes 19, unexposed to sensible imaginings, aggregate of elemental substance 20, spirit supreme, be adoration. Thou assumest a shape, O pervader of the universe, not as the consequence of virtue or vice, nor from any
xture of the two, but for the sole object of maintaining piety in the world 21."
The unborn, universal Hari, having heard with his mental ear these eulogiums, was pleased, and thus spake to Brahma: "Tell me, Brahma, what you and the gods desire: speak boldly, certain of success." Brahma, beholding the divine, universal form of Hari, quickly prostrated himself, and again renewed his praises. Glory" to thee, the thousand formed, the thousand armed, the many visaged, many footed; to thee, the illimitable author of creation, preservation, and destruction; most subtile of the subtile, most vast of the great: to thee, who art nature, intellect, and consciousness; and who art other spirit even than the spiritual root of those principles 22. Do thou shew favour upon us. Behold, lord, this earth, oppressed by mighty Asuras, and shaken to her mountain basements, comes to thee, who art her invincible defender, to be relieved from her burden. Behold me, Indra, the Aswins, Varuna, and Yama, the Rudras, the Vasus, the suns, the winds, fire, and all other celestials, prepared to execute whatever thou shalt will that we shall do. Do thou, in whom there is no imperfection, O sovereign of the deities, give thy orders to thy servants: lo, we are ready."
When Brahma had ended, the supreme lord plucked off two hairs, one white and one black, and said to the gods, "These my hairs shall descend upon earth, and shall relieve her of the burden of her distress 23.
[paragraph continues] Let all the gods also, in their own portions, go down to earth, and wage war with the haughty Asuras, who are there incorporate, and who shall every one of them be destroyed. Doubt not of this: they shall perish before the withering glance of mine eyes. This my (black) hair shall be impersonated in the eighth conception of the wife of Vasudeva, Devaki, who is like a goddess; and shall slay Kansa, who is the demon Kalanemi." Thus having spoken, Hari disappeared; and the gods bowing to him, though invisible, returned to the summit of mount Meru, from whence they descended upon earth.
The Muni Narada informed Kansa that the supporter of the earth, Vishnu, would be the eighth child of Devaki; and his wrath being excited by this report, he placed both Vasudeva and Devaki in confinement. Agreeably to his promise, the former delivered to Kansa each infant as soon as it was born. It is said that these, to the number of six, were the children of the demon Hiranyakasipu, who were introduced into the womb of Devaki, at the command of Vishnu, during the hours of Devaki s repose, by the goddess Yoganidra 24, the great illusory energy of Vishnu, by whom, as utter ignorance, the whole world is beguiled. To her Vishnu said, "Go, Nidra, to the nether regions, and by my command conduct successively six of their princes to be conceived of Devaki. When these shall have been put to death by Kansa, the seventh conception shall be formed of a portion of sesha, who is a part of me; and this you shall transfer, before the time of birth, to Rohini, another wife of Vasudeva, who resides at Gokula. The report shall run, that Devaki miscarries, through the anxiety of imprisonment, and dread of the Raja of the Bhojas. From being extracted from his mother s womb, the child shall be known by the name of Sankarshana, and he shall be valiant and strong, and like the peak of the white mountain in
bulk and complexion. I will myself become incarnate in the eighth conception of Devaki; and you shall immediately take a similar character as the embryo offspring of Yasoda. In the night of the eighth lunation of the dark half of the month Nabhas, in the season of the rains, I shall be born. You shall receive birth on the ninth. Impelled and aided by my power, Vasudeva shall bear me to the bed of Yasoda, and you to that of Devaki. Kansa shall take you, and hold you up to dash you against a stone; but you shall escape from his grasp into the sky, where the hundred eyed Indra shall meet and do homage to you, through reverence for me, and shall bow before you, and acknowledge you as his sister. Having slain Sumbha, Nisumbha, and numerous other demons 25, you shall sanctify the earth in many places 26. Thou art wealth, progeny, fame, patience, heaven and earth, fortitude, modesty, nutrition, dawn, and every other female (form or property). They who address thee morning and afternoon with reverence and praise, and call thee arya, Durga, Vedagarbha, Ambika, Bhadra, Bhadrakali, Kshemi, or Kshemankari, shall receive from my bounty whatever they desire. Propitiated with offerings of wine and flesh and various viands, thou shalt bestow upon mankind all their prayers. Through my favour all men shall ever have faith in thee. Assured of this, go, goddess, and execute my commands."