Chapter One : The Advent of Lord Krishna: Introduction

King Pariksit said: My dear lord, you have elaborately described the dynasties 
of both the moon-god and the sun-god, with the exalted and wonderful character 
of their kings.

O best of munis, you have also described the descendants of Yadu, who were very 
pious and strictly adherent to religious principles. Now, if you will, kindly 
describe the wonderful, glorious activities of Lord Vishnu, or Krishna, who 
appeared in that Yadu dynasty with Baladeva, His plenary expansion.

The Supersoul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna, the cause of 
the cosmic manifestation, appeared in the dynasty of Yadu. Please tell me 
elaborately about His glorious activities and character, from the beginning to 
the end of His life.

Glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is performed in the 
parampara system; that is, it is conveyed from spiritual master to disciple. 
Such glorification is relished by those no longer interested in the false, 
temporary glorification of this cosmic manifestation. Descriptions of the Lord 
are the right medicine for the conditioned soul undergoing repeated birth and 
death. Therefore, who will cease hearing such glorification of the Lord except a 
butcher or one who is killing his own self?

Taking the boat of Krishna's lotus feet, my grandfather Arjuna and others 
crossed the ocean of the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, in which such commanders as 
Bhismadeva resembled great fish that could very easily have swallowed them. By 
the mercy of Lord Krishna, my grandfathers crossed this ocean, which was very 
difficult to cross, as easily as one steps over the hoofprint of a calf. Because 
my mother surrendered unto Lord Krishna's lotus feet, the Lord, Sudarshana-cakra 
in hand, entered her womb and saved my body, the body of the last remaining 
descendant of the Kurus and the Pandavas, which was almost destroyed by the 
fiery weapon of Ashvatthama. Lord Shri Krishna, appearing within and outside of 
all materially embodied living beings by His own potency in the forms of eternal 
time - that is, as Paramatma and as virat-rupa - gave liberation to everyone, 
either as cruel death or as life. Kindly enlighten me by describing His 
transcendental characteristics.

My dear Shukadeva Gosvami, you have already explained that Sakarsana, who 
belongs to the second quadruple, appeared as the son of Rohini named Balarama. 
If Balarama was not transferred from one body to another, how is it possible 
that He was first in the womb of Devaki and then in the womb of Rohini? Kindly 
explain this to me.

Why did Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, leave the house of His 
father, Vasudeva, and transfer Himself to the house of Nanda in Vrindavana? 
Where did the Lord, the master of the Yadu dynasty, live with His relatives in 
Vrindavana?

Lord Krishna lived both in Vrindavana and in Mathura. What did He do there? Why 
did He kill Ka.sa, His mother's brother? Such killing is not at all sanctioned 
in the shastras.

Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has no material body, yet He 
appears as a human being. For how many years did He live with the descendants of 
Vrsni? How many wives did He marry, and for how many years did He live in 
Dvaraka?

O great sage, who know everything about Krishna, please describe in detail all 
the activities of which I have inquired and also those of which I have not, for 
I have full faith and am very eager to hear of them.

Because of my vow on the verge of death, I have given up even drinking water, 
yet because I am drinking the nectar of topics about Krishna, which is flowing 
from the lotus mouth of Your Lordship, my hunger and thirst, which are extremely 
difficult to bear, cannot hinder me.

Suta Gosvami said: O son of Bhrgu [Shaunaka si], after Shukadeva Gosvami, the 
most respectable devotee, the son of Vyasadeva, heard the pious questions of 
Maharaja Pariksit, he thanked the King with great respect. Then he began to 
discourse on topics concerning Krishna, which are the remedy for all sufferings 
in this age of Kali.

Shrila Shukadeva Gosvami said: O Your Majesty, best of all saintly kings, 
because you are greatly attracted to topics of Vasudeva, it is certain that your 
intelligence is firmly fixed in spiritual understanding, which is the only true 
goal for humanity. Because that attraction is unceasing, it is certainly 
sublime.

The Ganges, emanating from the toe of Lord Vishnu, purifies the three worlds, 
the upper, middle and lower planetary systems. Similarly, when one asks 
questions about the pastimes and characteristics of Lord Vasudeva, Krishna, 
three varieties of men are purified: the speaker or preacher, he who inquires, 
and the people in general who listen.

Once when mother earth was overburdened by hundreds of thousands of military 
phalanxes of various conceited demons dressed like kings, she approached Lord 
Brahma for relief.

Mother earth assumed the form of a cow. Very much distressed, with tears in her 
eyes, she appeared before Lord Brahma and told him about her misfortune.

Thereafter, having heard of the distress of mother earth, Lord Brahma, with 
mother earth, Lord Shiva and all the other demigods, approached the shore of the 
ocean of milk.

After reaching the shore of the ocean of milk, the demigods worshiped the 
Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Vishnu, the master of the whole universe, 
the supreme God of all gods, who provides for everyone and diminishes everyone's 
suffering. With great attention, they worshiped Lord Vishnu, who lies on the 
ocean of milk, by reciting the Vedic mantras known as the Purusa-sukta.

While in trance, Lord Brahma heard the words of Lord Vishnu vibrating in the 
sky. Thus he told the demigods: O demigods, hear from me the order of 
Ksirodakashayi Vishnu, the Supreme Person, and execute it attentively without 
delay.

Lord Brahma informed the demigods: Before we submitted our petition to the Lord, 
He was already aware of the distress on earth. Consequently, for as long as the 
Lord moves on earth to diminish its burden by His own potency in the form of 
time, all of you demigods should appear through plenary portions as sons and 
grandsons in the family of the Yadus.

The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna, who has full potency, will 
personally appear as the son of Vasudeva. Therefore all the wives of the 
demigods should also appear in order to satisfy Him.

The foremost manifestation of Krishna is Sakarsana, who is known as Ananta. He 
is the origin of all incarnations within this material world. Previous to the 
appearance of Lord Krishna, this original Sakarsana will appear as Baladeva, 
just to please the Supreme Lord Krishna in His transcendental pastimes.

The potency of the Lord, known as visnu-maya, who is as good as the Supreme 
Personality of Godhead, will also appear with Lord Krishna. This potency, acting 
in different capacities, captivates all the worlds, both material and spiritual. 
At the request of her master, she will appear with her different potencies in 
order to execute the work of the Lord.

Shukadeva Gosvami continued: After thus advising the demigods and pacifying 
mother earth, the very powerful Lord Brahma, who is the master of all other 
Prajapatis and is therefore known as Prajapati-pati, returned to his own abode, 
Brahmaloka.

Formerly, Shurasena, the chief of the Yadu dynasty, had gone to live in the city 
of Mathura. There he enjoyed the places known as Mathura and Shurasena.

Since that time, the city of Mathura had been the capital of all the kings of 
the Yadu dynasty. The city and district of Mathura are very intimately connected 
with Krishna, for Lord Krishna lives there eternally.

Some time ago, Vasudeva, who belonged to the demigod family [or to the Shura 
dynasty], married Devaki. After the marriage, he mounted his chariot to return 
home with his newly married wife.

Ka.sa, the son of King Ugrasena, in order to please his sister Devaki on the 
occasion of her marriage, took charge of the reins of the horses and became the 
chariot driver. He was surrounded by hundreds of golden chariots.

Devaki's father, King Devaka, was very much affectionate to his daughter. 
Therefore, while she and her husband were leaving home, he gave her a dowry of 
four hundred elephants nicely decorated with golden garlands. He also gave ten 
thousand horses, eighteen hundred chariots, and two hundred very beautiful young 
maidservants, fully decorated with ornaments.

O beloved son, Maharaja Pariksit, when the bride and bridegroom were ready to 
start, conchshells, bugles, drums and kettledrums all vibrated in concert for 
their auspicious departure.

While Ka.sa, controlling the reins of the horses, was driving the chariot along 
the way, an unembodied voice addressed him, "You foolish rascal, the eighth 
child of the woman you are carrying will kill you!"

Ka.sa was a condemned personality in the Bhoja dynasty because he was envious 
and sinful. Therefore, upon hearing this omen from the sky, he caught hold of 
his sister's hair with his left hand and took up his sword with his right hand 
to sever her head from her body.

Wanting to pacify Ka.sa, who was so cruel and envious that he was shamelessly 
ready to kill his sister, the great soul Vasudeva, who was to be the father of 
Krishna, spoke to him in the following words.

Vasudeva said: My dear brother-in-law Ka.sa, you are the pride of your family, 
the Bhoja dynasty, and great heroes praise your qualities. How could such a 
qualified person as you kill a woman, your own sister, especially on the 
occasion of her marriage?

O great hero, one who takes birth is sure to die, for death is born with the 
body. One may die today or after hundreds of years, but death is sure for every 
living entity.

When the present body turns to dust and is again reduced to five elements - 
earth, water, fire, air and ether - the proprietor of the body, the living 
being, automatically receives another body of material elements according to his 
fruitive activities. When the next body is obtained, he gives up the present 
body.

Just as a person traveling on the road rests one foot on the ground and then 
lifts the other, or as a worm on a vegetable transfers itself to one leaf and 
then gives up the previous one, the conditioned soul takes shelter of another 
body and then gives up the one he had before.

Having experienced a situation by seeing or hearing about it, one contemplates 
and speculates about that situation, and thus one surrenders to it, not 
considering his present body. Similarly, by mental adjustments one dreams at 
night of living under different circumstances, in different bodies, and forgets 
his actual position. Under this same process, one gives up his present body and 
accepts another [tatha dehantara-prapti-].

At the time of death, according to the thinking, feeling and willing of the 
mind, which is involved in fruitive activities, one receives a particular body. 
In other words, the body develops according to the activities of the mind. 
Changes of body are due to the flickering of the mind, for otherwise the soul 
could remain in its original, spiritual body.

When the luminaries in the sky, such as the moon, the sun and the stars, are 
reflected in liquids like oil or water, they appear to be of different shapes - 
sometimes round, sometimes long, and so on - because of the movements of the 
wind. Similarly, when the living entity, the soul, is absorbed in materialistic 
thoughts, he accepts various manifestations as his own identity because of 
ignorance. In other words, one is bewildered by mental concoctions because of 
agitation from the material modes of nature.

Therefore, since envious, impious activities cause a body in which one suffers 
in the next life, why should one act impiously? Considering one's welfare, one 
should not envy anyone, for an envious person must always fear harm from his 
enemies, either in this life or in the next.

As your younger sister, this poor girl Devaki is like your own daughter and 
deserves to be affectionately maintained. You are merciful, and therefore you 
should not kill her. Indeed, she deserves your affection.

Shukadeva Gosvami continued: O best of the Kuru dynasty, Ka.sa was fiercely 
cruel and was actually a follower of the Raksasas. Therefore he could be neither 
pacified nor terrified by the good instructions given by Vasudeva. He did not 
care about the results of sinful activities, either in this life or in the next.

When Vasudeva saw that Ka.sa was determined to kill his sister Devaki, he 
thought to himself very deeply. Considering the imminent danger of death, he 
thought of another plan to stop Ka.sa.

As long as he has intelligence and bodily strength, an intelligent person must 
try to avoid death. This is the duty of every embodied person. But if death 
cannot be avoided in spite of one's endeavors, a person facing death commits no 
offense.

Vasudeva considered: By delivering all my sons to Ka.sa, who is death 
personified, I shall save the life of Devaki. Perhaps Ka.sa will die before my 
sons take birth, or, since he is already destined to die at the hands of my son, 
one of my sons may kill him. For the time being, let me promise to hand over my 
sons so that Ka.sa will give up this immediate threat, and if in due course of 
time Ka.sa dies, I shall have nothing to fear.

When a fire, for some unseen reason, leaps over one piece of wood and sets fire 
to the next, the reason is destiny. Similarly, when a living being accepts one 
kind of body and leaves aside another, there is no other reason than unseen 
destiny.

After thus considering the matter as far as his knowledge would allow, Vasudeva 
submitted his proposal to the sinful Ka.sa with great respect.

Vasudeva's mind was full of anxiety because his wife was facing danger, but in 
order to please the cruel, shameless and sinful Ka.sa, he externally smiled and 
spoke to him as follows.

Vasudeva said: O best of the sober, you have nothing to fear from your sister 
Devaki because of what you have heard from the unseen omen. The cause of death 
will be her sons. Therefore I promise that when she gives birth to the sons from 
whom your fear has arisen, I shall deliver them all unto your hands.

Shrila Shukadeva Gosvami continued: Ka.sa agreed to the logical arguments of 
Vasudeva, and, having full faith in Vasudeva's words, he refrained from killing 
his sister. Vasudeva, being pleased with Ka.sa, pacified him further and entered 
his own house.

Each year thereafter, in due course of time, Devaki, the mother of God and all 
the demigods, gave birth to a child. Thus she bore eight sons, one after 
another, and a daughter named Subhadra.

Vasudeva was very much disturbed by fear of becoming a liar by breaking his 
promise. Thus with great pain he delivered his first-born son, named Kirtiman, 
into the hands of Ka.sa.

What is painful for saintly persons who strictly adhere to the truth? How could 
there not be independence for pure devotees who know the Supreme Lord as the 
substance? What deeds are forbidden for persons of the lowest character? And 
what cannot be given up for the sake of Lord Krishna by those who have fully 
surrendered at His lotus feet?

My dear King Pariksit, when Ka.sa saw that Vasudeva, being situated in 
truthfulness, was completely equipoised in giving him the child, he was very 
happy. Therefore, with a smiling face, he spoke as follows.

O Vasudeva, you may take back your child and go home. I have no fear of your 
first child. It is the eighth child of you and Devaki I am concerned with 
because that is the child by whom I am destined to be killed.

Vasudeva agreed and took his child back home, but because Ka.sa had no character 
and no self-control, Vasudeva knew that he could not rely on Ka.sa's word.

The inhabitants of Vrindavana, headed by Nanda Maharaja and including his 
associate cowherd men and their wives, were none but denizens of the heavenly 
planets, O Maharaja Pariksit, best of the descendants of Bharata, and so too 
were the descendants of the Vrsni dynasty, headed by Vasudeva, and Devaki and 
the other women of the dynasty of Yadu. The friends, relatives and well-wishers 
of both Nanda Maharaja and Vasudeva and even those who externally appeared to be 
followers of Ka.sa were all demigods.

Once the great saint Narada approached Ka.sa and informed him of how the 
demoniac persons who were a great burden on the earth were going to be killed. 
Thus Ka.sa was placed into great fear and doubt.

After the departure of the great saint Narada, Ka.sa thought that all the 
members of the Yadu dynasty were demigods and that any of the children born from 
the womb of Devaki might be Vishnu. Fearing his death, Ka.sa arrested Vasudeva 
and Devaki and chained them with iron shackles. Suspecting each of the children 
to be Vishnu, Ka.sa killed them one after another because of the prophecy that 
Vishnu would kill him.

Kings greedy for sense gratification on this earth almost always kill their 
enemies indiscriminately. To satisfy their own whims, they may kill anyone, even 
their mothers, fathers, brothers or friends.

In his previous birth, Ka.sa had been a great demon named Kalanemi and been 
killed by Vishnu. Upon learning this information from Narada, Ka.sa became 
envious of everyone connected with the Yadu dynasty.

Ka.sa, the most powerful son of Ugrasena, even imprisoned his own father, the 
King of the Yadu, Bhoja and Andhaka dynasties, and personally ruled the states 
known as Shurasena.

Chapter Two : Prayers by the Demigods for Lord Krishna in the Womb

Shukadeva Gosvami said: Under the protection of Magadharaja, Jarasandha, the 
powerful Ka.sa began persecuting the kings of the Yadu dynasty. In this he had 
the cooperation of demons like Pralamba, Baka, Canura, Trnavarta, Aghasura, 
Mustika, Arista, Dvivida, Putana, Keshi, Dhenuka, Banasura, Narakasura and many 
other demoniac kings on the surface of the earth.

Persecuted by the demoniac kings, the Yadavas left their own kingdom and entered 
various others, like those of the Kurus, Pa