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KAṀSA I(कंस)

  • Son of Ugrasena, King of Mathurā, and an incarnation of an Asura called Kālanemi.
    1) Genealogy.
    Descending in order from Viṣṇu: Brahmā- Atri-Candra-Budha-Purūravas-Āyus-Nahuṣa-Yayāti- Yadu-Sahasrajit-Śatajit-Hehaya-Dharma-Kunti (Kuni)- Bhadrasena-Dhanaka-Kṛtavīra- Kārtavīryārjuna-Madhu- Vṛṣṇi-Yudhājit-Śini-Sātyaka-Sātyaki (Yuyudhāna)- Yaya-Kuni-Anamitra-Pṛśni-Citraratha-Kukura-Vahni- Viloma-Kapotaroman (Kapotaloman)-Tumburu- Dundubhi-Daridra-Vasu-Nāhuka- Āhuka-Ugrasena-Kaṁsa.
    2) Kaṁsa, an incarnation of Kālanemi.
    In the svāyambhuvamanvantara Marīci had a wife named Ūrṇā and they had six mighty and powerful sons. One day they ridiculed Brahmā saying ‘A father who has married his won daughter’ (Brahmā married Sarasvatī, his own daughter). Brahmā became angry and cursed them to be born as demons on earth. All the six sons were, therefore, born as sons of a demon called Kālanemi on earth. In their next birth they were born as sons of Hiraṇyakaśipu. They led a pious life and pleased at this Brahmā asked them what boon they wanted and they demanded that they should not be killed by anybody. Their father, Hiraṇyakaśipu, did not like his sons getting a boon behind his back and so he cursed his sons “May you all six go to Pātāla (nether-world) and sleep there for a long time under the name of Ṣaḍarbhakas. The sons begged for relief and Hiraṇyakaśipu said that they would after sleeping for a long time be born to Devakī, wife of Vasudeva, as their children and that Kālanemi, their father in their previous birth would then be born as Kaṁsa and kill the children of Devakī by striking their heads on the ground. Accordingly Kālanemi was born as Kaṁsa and he killed the six children of Devakī by striking them on the ground. [Skandha 4, Devī Bhāgavata]. The 10th Skandha of Bhāgavata states “killing Kālanemi born as Kaṁsa” when it refers to the killing of Kaṁsa.
    3) Another story regarding the birth of Kaṁsa.
    Kaṁsa was not actually the son of Ugrasena. It was Nārada who revealed to Kaṁsa the story of his birth. It is as follows. Once when the wife of Ugrasena was in her menses she went to the garden with her companions. Then a Gandharva named Dramila disguised as Ugrasena went to her but she knew the trick and cursed him that he would go to hell. But Dramila committed rape on her and then left the place making her pregnant. When the child was born Ugrasena's wife greatly hated the child got of an evil deed and cursed it saying that the child would be killed by a member of the family of Ugrasena. Thus Kaṁsa was the son born to the wife of Ugrasena by the Gandharva, Dramila. It was because Kaṁsa was aware of it that he behaved very badly to Ugrasena and Kṛṣṇa. [10th Skandha, Bhāgavata].
    4) How Kaṁsa got Mathurāpurī.
    In olden times there was a famous place called Madhuvana in the river-base of Kālindī. The place got the name of Madhuvana because the demon Madhu was residing there. Madhu had a son named Lavaṇa. Lavaṇa was a very wicked demon always ill-treating the devas. Śatrughna, son of Daśaratha, killed him and lived there establishing a beautiful kingdom there. He named that place Mathurā. After the death of Śatrughna two of his sons ruled that country. Then when the Sūrya dynasty became extinct the city of Mathurā came into the possession of the Yadu dynasty. It was ruled then by a very brave and valiant ruler named Śūrasena. Vasudeva father of Śrī Kṛṣṇa was the son of Śūrasena. After the death of Śūrasena another King of the Yādava dynasty, Ugrasena, became the ruler of the place, Vasudeva accepting cow-rearing as his profession. Kaṁsa became King keeping Ugrasena as a prisoner. [Skandha 4, Devī Bhāgavata].
    5) Vasudeva and Devakī are imprisoned.
    Vasudeva married Devakī daughter of Ugrasena and sister, of Kaṁsa. Kaṁsa pleased with his sister presented her with a chariot. Kaṁsa, Vasudeva and Devakī ascended the chariot and Kaṁsa himself drove the chariot. Then from an unknown source above came a voice which said “Oh King, know thou this and from this moment chalk out thy plans for the future. The eighth son of your sister will kill you for certain. You will be no match against him.” [Chapter 1, Bhāgavata 10th Skandha]. Hearing this voice from heaven Kaṁsa got furious and dragging his sister by the hair raised his sword to kill her. Vasudeva then pleaded weeping not to kill Devakī. Only the eighth child of Devakī was going to kill him. Vasudeva would hand over all the children to him as soon as they were born. Such arguments pacified Kaṁsa and he left off Devakī without hurting her. Devakī delivered a son. He grew up under the name of Kīrtimān and one day Nārada visited Kaṁsa and told him that he was the incarnation of an Asura named Kālanemi and the son who would be born to Devakī to kill him was Nārāyaṇa. Kaṁsa, blind with fury, killed Kīrtimān by striking him on the earth and imprisoned both Devakī and Vasudeva.
    6) Man-hunt of Kaṁsa.
    Pralamba, Cāṇūra, Tṛṇāvarta, Muṣṭika, Ariṣṭaka, Keśī, Dhenuka, Agha, Vivida and Pūtanā were born in the Asura family as servants of Kaṁsa. He sent them to different sides of the country to torment the Yādavas. Many Yādavas left the place. Even Kaṁsa's father Ugrasena, a great devotee of Viṣṇu was teased. In the meantime Devakī delivered six sons including Kīrtimān and all of them were killed by Kaṁsa by smashing their heads against the ground below. The seventh foetus of Devakī was aborted. [Instructed by Mahāviṣṇu, Māyādevī invoked the seventh foetus of Devakī and transferred it to the womb of Rohiṇī another wife of Vasudeva. The child thus born to Rohinī was Saṅkarṣaṇa or Balabhadrarāmā. Mahāviṣṇu then entered the womb of Devakī instructing Māyādevī to enter that of Yaśodā, wife of Nandagopa of Ambāḍi at the same time. Śrī Kṛṣṇa was then born in the figure of Viṣṇu. The watchmen were sleeping. Following directions from the new-born child Vasudeva took the child to Gokula and leaving the child there brought back the child of Yaśodā and placed it near Devakī. When the watchmen awoke and knew about the delivery of Devakī they immediately ran to Kaṁsa to tell him. Boiling with rage Kaṁsa rushed to the side of Devakī and taking the child by the legs raised it for smashing it against the ground. The child to the frightened dis may of Kaṁsa slipped from his hand and rising up in the air said “Hi, ill-mannered wicked Kaṁsa, do not waste your valour on women. Your killer has already been born on earth. Do search for him quickly.” Kaṁsa went pale with fright on hearing this and went away to his palace.
    ] 7) Conspiracy of Kaṁsa.
    The thought that his killer was born somewhere made him restless. He let off Vasudeva and Devakī finding them innocent. Then he sat sadly pondering over the future. The courtiers then advised him to kill all the children who had been born within the past ten days and that would include the killer also. Kaṁsa accordingly sent to different parts of the country his secret agents to kill all children, ten days old. During this campaign Pūtanā, Śakaṭa, Tṛṇāvarta, Ariṣṭaka and Keśī tried to kill Śrī Kṛṣṇa also but Kṛṣṇa killed them all easily. For details see under each head separately. [10th Skandha, Bhāgavata].
    8) Kaṁsa is slain.
    Ariṣṭaka was one of the prominent Asuras sent to kill Kṛṣṇa. He attacked Kṛṣṇa in the form of an ox. Śrī Kṛṣṇa killed it without any difficulty. Nārada who saw this incident informed Kaṁsa about it adding that Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were the sons of Vasudeva only and the child who slipped out of his hands was the child of Yasodā. Kaṁsa got furious and he again imprisoned Vasudeva and Devakī and brought to Mathurā Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Balabhadrarāma and started thinking of ways and means to kill them. Kaṁsa arranged to conduct a grand celebration of Āyudhapūjā (worship of the weapons) and invited Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma for the same among many other gopas from Ambāḍi. He sent his chariot with Akrūra to fetch Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma from Ambāḍi. Akrūra privately informed Kṛṣṇa of the bad intentions of Kaṁsa. Nandagopa and many others from Ambāḍi started for Mathurā. When Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Balabhadrarāma started their journey in the chariot the gopas and gopikās assembled there cried loudly. Some blamed Akrūra. Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma reached Mathurā. There they slew a huge wild elephant and the five Asuras, Cāṇūra, Muṣṭika, Kūṭa, Śala and Kosala whom Kaṁsa had kept ready to kill Kṛṣṇa and Rāma. Sitting on a platform watching this, Kaṁsa became frightened and restless and roared with rage thus “The sons of Nandagopa should be instantly sent away from this palace. All their wealth and all that of the gopas should be confiscated. Bind with ropes the rogue Nandagopa, and kill the wicked Vasudeva. Throw my father, Ugrasena, into the river Kālindī bound hand and foot. Even a father should be killed if he was a relative of one's enemy.” Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma boiled with rage when they heard the orders of Kaṁsa and Kṛṣṇa, jumping on to the platform pushed Kaṁsa down and jumping down along with him killed him. [10th Skandha, Bhāgavata].
    9) Other details.
    (i) Kaṁsa had married the two daughters of Jarāsandha named Asti and Prāpti. [10th Skandha, Bhāgavata].
    (ii) Kaṁsa was a fierce bow-man. All the kings hated him. Kaṁsa kept under him a crore of fighting men. He had eight lakhs of charioteers and an equal number of elephants. His army contained thirtytwo lakhs of horses. Dākṣinātyapāṭha;[ M.B., Sabhā Parva, Chapter 38].

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