Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mythological Mystery

Yesterday, someone at work forwarded me this joke -

In some remote village of India , a Masterji was teaching Mahabharat Katha to class 6 students. He was at the 'Krishnajanma' chapter.

Masterji: Kansa heard an akashwani that, his sister's 8th child would kill him. He was furious. He ordered to put Vasudev and Devaki behind bars.

First son is born, and Kansa kills him by poisoning...

Second one is born and Kansa throws him off the mountain peak...

Third one is born....

Now Ramu, who is smartest of the lot, raises his hand.

Ramu: Masterji, I have a doubt (sounding nervous and confused)

Masterji: Ramu bete, whole of India does not have doubt in Mahabharata then how come you have one?"

Ramu: Masterji, if Kansa knew that, Devaki's 8th child was going to kill him, why the hell did he put Vasudev and Devaki in the same cell???

Masterji fainted.......

Though the joke was good, I began thinking about the real reason for this. After some research, I chanced upon a plausible reason -

Kans was a doting brother. He loved his sister Devaki very much. Vasudev was Kans’ friend and his choice as the husband for Devaki. When Kans heard the Akashvani about Devaki’s 8th son killing him, he imprisoned Vasudev and Devaki together. His plan was to release Devaki and Vasudev after he had killed first 8 children. Though Kans was a cruel man, he loved his sister, and did not want to keep her imprisoned for life. Moreover, he had complete confidence on the security system of his jail and could never imagine that someone could escape. He thought, that after killing the 8th child, he will be out of danger.

The next question that came to my mind was -

If Kansa knew that Devaki's 8th child would kill him, why did he kill the first 6 (remember that the 7th child Balrama was not killed either)?

After some more research, the answer to this question was also found -

The first 6 sons of Devaki were sons of Marichi. They once laughed at Sage Devala, as he was very ricketee. He cursed them. They were born as the sons of Kalanemi. They became known as Sadgarbha. They used to remain in the water at Patala loka performing penance to obtain immortality. Brahma granted them immortality. However Hiranyakashipu became angry at this. He did not like his brother's grandsons obtaining a boon from Brahma (Kalanemi was the son of Hiranyakashipu's brother Hiranyaksha).

Therefore, he cursed them to be born again and be killed by their own father. Accordingly, they were born as Devaki's children and were killed by their own father. Kamsa as Kalanemi was their father in their earlier birth. The boon given by Brahma to be immortal and the curse given by Hiranyakashipu to be killed by their father were reconciled by Durga.

To make this happen Narad muni went to Kansa after akashvani and feed this idea of “killing all” into his head. To trick Kansa - Narad drew a circle with eight dots and asked Kansa to identify the 8th dot, which was impossible and he obliged to kill all approach.

Here is another line of thought as a possible explanation -

Kansa knew that Gods had a history of deceiving Asuras. He may have thought that Vishnu may take birth as any one of Devaki's sons, and not necessarily her 8th. 

Kansa's belief came from various examples in Hindu mythology where Gods deceived Rakshasas. 
Few examples being, Hiranyakashyap (bhakt prahlad’s father) had a boon, that he cannot be killed by a man or animal. So Vishnu adopted the Narsinha Avtar to kill him. And then there is the story of Bakasur. He got a boon from Shanker, that anyone placing a hand on his head would die immediately. He went on a killing spree of devtaas. Devtas cried foul and asked Vishnu for help. Vishnu took a roop of a beautiful apsara and attracted Bakasur. Bakasur proposed her and she (Vishnu) kept a bet for agreeing to her proposal that Bakasur would have to do few steps of dance like her. Bakasur agreed, and after few steps the apsara kept her own hand in her head, so did the foolish Bakasur and died. There are many other stories like these in Hindu mythology. 

Now for a possible scientific reason -

In case Devaki had a mis-carriage by chance, Kansa may not come to know about it. In that case, the count of her offspings would be wrong. Hence he may not have wanted to take any chances.

The more you study this great epic, the more interesting things you learn.


bharath said...

a very fitting reply buddy.. Even a colleague of mine sent me the same joke an i did reply to him and took your content without ur consent.. pls dont mind.. :)

Thanks for the beautiful info mate...

Mercury Chap said...

Great article! :) I always thought about why Kansa killed the children of Devaki and now I got my answer :) Thank you!