Mythological background - 

The Birth of Lord Krishna

Lord Krishna was born on the 8th day of Shravan at midnight, to destroy the cruel King Kansa of Mathura who was a tyrant. He had imprisoned his father in order to become the king. Devaki was his sister and was married to a noble man Vasudev. On the wedding day of his sister Devaki, Kansa heard a Akashvani (heavenly voice), saying, "Kansa, your days of tyranny will soon be over, you will be killed by the eighth child of Devaki".

With a threat on his life from his nephew, Kansa immediately put his sister Devaki and her husband behind bars. To feel more secured, Kansa increased the number of prison guards, kept strict vigilance and put Vasudev in chains. He did not want to take any chance and killed at birth each and every child of Devaki, until the time came for the delivery of the eighth child. In prison she gave birth to 6 kids which Kansa brutally killed, but when Devaki conceived for the seventh time, gods transformed the embryo to the womb of Rohini, Vasudev's second wife who gave birth to a son whom was named Balram. Balram was the incarnation of the Shesh Nag - the ten-headed cobra on whose back Lord Vishnu always rested and slept in "Kshirasagar"- the sea of milk.

 

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But God planned otherwise. At midnight when the eighth child was born, the guards fell fast asleep and Vasudev's chain fell off his hands and feet. Wasting no time, Vasudev picked up the newborn baby, and carrying it in a basket, he started towards Gokul. Gokul was a village of cowherds, located across the Yamuna river, where his friend Nanda lived.

Vasudev carrying baby Krishna out of the prison cell in a basket

 

It was a dark stormy night with blinding rain continuously pouring from the sky. When Vasudev reached the river bank of Yamuna, the river was in spate. The wind and storm were blowing wild, and Vasudev was in a fix.

"Lord, what should I do," said Vasudev in a hopeless voice.

Suddenly a miracle happened, the river parted and Vasudev walked through the river. Throughout the way Vasudev and the baby were protected from rain by the hood of the great eternal snake, Vasuki. Finally, Vasudev reached Nanda's house.

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Vasuki the ten-headed snake giving protection to Lord Krishna during the storm.

 

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Upon reaching Nanda's house Vasudev found the wife of Nanda - Yashoda, and her newborn baby girl in deep sleep. He had no time to think. He quickly exchanged the babies and returned to the prison with the infant girl, while the guards were still asleep.

As soon as Vasudev entered the prison cell, the door got locked behind him and he was chained again as if nothing happened in between. The guards woke up and heard the cry of the baby. Kansa was immediately informed and he came running to kill the child. But to his utter surprise he found it to be a girl and not a boy, as he expected. Devaki begged for the newborn baby's life from her brother.

Vasudev exchanging babies at Nanda's House

"What can a girl do to you Kansa? Spare her life, please!" appealed Devaki, lying at the feet of her brother.

The inhuman Kansa did not pay attention to the appeal. As he was ready to kill the baby by smashing its head on a big boulder, the child slipped out of his hand and flew towards the sky. At that moment, a heavenly voice was heard, "Kansa, the one who shall destroy you still lives. He is growing in Gokul."

 

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