The killing of puthana

Nanda performed the birth ceremony of his son with great pomp. His gifts knew no bounds. Vishnu was worshipped and there was plenty in Vraja. The time came for payment of the year’s dues to Kansa. So Nanda left Gokula  in charge of the Gopas and himself went with the dues to Mathura. Vasudeva learned of Nanda’s arrival and went to meet him. Nanda stood up to receive him and embraced him heartily.

Vasudeva said: “You have paid your yearly dues and have also met me. Now do not remain here any longer. For evils befall Gokula”. Nanda left Mathura for Gokula for he thought Vasudeva would not tell a lie.

By Kansa’s orders, the fierce Putana went about killing children in towns, villages and pasture lands, for verily she was a killer of children. That wanderer of the skies entered Gokula at will, assuming the form of a woman most beautiful to look at. So no one stopped her passage. She moved freely here and there and at last entered the house of Nanda. She looked like a kind mother and Yasoda and Rohini were so much struck by her fine exterior that they did not stop her access to Krishna. Putana placed the child on her lap and gave him milk from her breast full of deadly poison.

The divine child knew who Putana was and what she was about. He held fast her breast with both hands and in anger drank in the very life juice of the Asura woman. She screamed forth “Let go”, “Let go”, “No more”. Her eyes expanded. She cast up and down her hands and feet again and again in profuse  perspiration. Her groans made heaven and earth tremble and space itself resounded on all sides. At last she fell dead like a great mountain, crushing down trees within an ambit of twelve miles. Fearlessly the boy played on her body.

The Gopa ladies hurried to the place with Rohini and Yasoda. They bathed the boy in cows’ urine and dust from cow’s feet. They pronounced the twelve names of Vishnu (Kesava and others) over twelve parts of his body. Then after touching water, they duly uttered the root mantras over their own body and that of the child. Lastly they invoked Vishnu by different names to protect the child from danger of all sorts.

Yasoda then placed the child on her lap and gave him milk.

By this time Nanda had returned to Vrindabana. He saw the huge body of the Asura woman and realised the force of Vasudeva’s warning.  The people of Vraja cut the body into parts and burnt them with fuel. The smoke was sweet-scented, as the touch of Krishna’s body purifies even the enemy.