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Krsna Kills the Demon Putana

"....Kamsa sent to the village of Gokula a Raksasi named Putana, who was wandering here and there killing small babies. Of course, wherever there is no Krsna consciousness, there is the danger of such Raksasis, but since the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself was in Gokula, Putana could accept nothing there but her own death.

One day, Putana arrived from outer space in Gokula, the home of Nanda Maharaja, and by displaying her mystic power, she assumed the disguise of a very beautiful woman. Taking courage, she immediately entered Krsna's bedroom without anyone's permission; by the grace of Krsna, no one forbade her to enter the house or the room, because that was Krsna's desire. The baby Krsna, who resembled a fire covered by ashes, looked upon Putana and thought that He would have to kill this demon, the beautiful woman. Enchanted by the influence of yogamaya and the Personality of Godhead, Putana took Krsna upon her lap, and neither Rohini nor Yasoda objected. The demon Putana offered her breast for Krsna to suck, but her breast was smeared with poison. The child Krsna, therefore, squeezed Putana's breast so severely that in unbearable pain she had to assume her original body and fell to the ground. Then Krsna began playing on her breast just like a small child. When Krsna was playing, the gopis were pacified and took the child away to their own laps. After this incident, the gopis took precautions because of the attack of the Raksasi. Mother Yasoda gave the child her breast to suck and then laid Him in bed.

Meanwhile, Nanda and his associates the cowherd men returned from Mathura, and when they saw the great dead body of Putana, they were struck with wonder. Everyone was astonished that Vasudeva had foretold this mishap, and they praised Vasudeva for his power of foresight. The inhabitants of Vraja cut the gigantic body of Putana into pieces, but because Krsna had sucked her breast, she had been freed from all sins, and therefore when the cowherd men burned the pieces of her body in a fire, the smoke filled the air with a very pleasing fragrance. Ultimately, although Putana had desired to kill Krsna, she attained the Lord's abode. From this incident we gain the instruction that if one is attached to Krsna somehow or other, even as an enemy, one ultimately attains success. What then is to be said of devotees who are naturally attached to Krsna in love? When the inhabitants of Vraja heard about the killing of Putana and the welfare of the child, they were very much satisfied. Nanda Maharaja took the baby Krsna on his lap and was filled with satisfaction."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 10:6 Summary

"When Krsna was on the lap of His mother, the demon Putana appeared before His mother and prayed to nurture the child in her lap. Mother Yasoda agreed, and the child was transferred onto the lap of Putana, who was in the garb of a respectable lady. Putana wanted to kill the child by smearing poison on the nipple of her breast. But when everything was complete, the Lord sucked her breast along with her very air of life, and the demon's gigantic body, said to be as long as six miles, fell down. But Lord Krsna did not need to expand Himself to the length of the she-demon Putana, although He was quite competent to extend Himself more than six miles long. In His Vamana incarnation He posed Himself as a dwarf brahmana, but when He took possession of His land, promised by Bali Maharaja, He expanded His footstep to the top of the universe, extending over thousands and millions of miles. So it was not very difficult for Krsna to perform a miracle by extending His bodily feature, but He had no desire to do it because of His deep filial love for His mother, Yasoda. If Yasoda had seen Krsna in her lap extending six miles to cope with the she-demon Putana, then the natural filial love of Yasoda would have been hurt because in that way Yasoda would have come to know that her so-called son, Krsna, was God Himself. And with the knowledge of the Godhood of Krsna, Yasodamayi would have lost the temper of her love for Krsna as a natural mother. But as far as Lord Krsna is concerned, He is God always, either as a child on the lap of His mother, or as the coverer of the universe, Vamanadeva. He does not require to become God by undergoing severe penances, although some men think of becoming God in that way. By undergoing severe austerities and penances, one cannot become one or equal with God, but one can attain most of the godly qualities. A living being can attain godly qualities to a large extent, but he cannot become God, whereas Krsna, without undergoing any type of penance, is God always, either in the lap of His mother or growing up or at any stage of growth."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 2:7:27 Purport

"When Putana was taking baby Krsna on her lap, both Yasoda and Rohini were present, but they did not forbid her because she was so beautifully dressed and because she showed motherly affection towards Krsna. They could not understand that she was a sword within a decorated case. Putana had smeared a very powerful poison on her breasts, and immediately after taking the baby on her lap, she pushed her breastly nipple within His mouth. She was hoping that as soon as He would suck her breast, He would die. But baby Krsna very quickly took the nipple in anger. He sucked the milk-poison along with the life air of the demon. In other words, Krsna simultaneously sucked the milk from her breast and killed her by sucking out her life. Krsna is so merciful that because the demon Putana came to offer her breast milk to Him, He fulfilled her desire and accepted her activity as motherly. But to stop her from further nefarious activities, He immediately killed her. And because the demon was killed by Krsna, she got liberation. When Krsna sucked out her very breath, Putana fell down on the ground, spread her arms and legs and began to cry, "Oh child, leave me, leave me!" She was crying loudly and perspiring, and her whole body became wet.

As she died, screaming, there was a tremendous vibration both on the earth and in the sky, in all directions, and people thought that thunderbolts were falling. Thus the nightmare of the Putana witch was over, and she assumed her real feature as a great demon. She opened her fierce mouth and spread her arms and legs all over. She fell exactly as Vrtrasura when struck by the thunderbolt of Indra. The long hair on her head was scattered all over her body. Her fallen body extended up to twelve miles and smashed all the trees to pieces, and everyone was struck with wonder upon seeing this gigantic body. Her teeth appeared just like plows, and her nostrils appeared just like mountain caves. Her breasts appeared like small hills, and her hair was a vast reddish bush. Her eye sockets appeared like blind wells, and her two thighs appeared like two banks of a river; her two hands appeared like two strongly constructed bridges, and her abdomen seemed like a dried-up lake. All the cowherd men and women became struck with awe and wonder upon seeing this. And the tumultuous sound of her falling shocked their brains and ears and made their hearts beat strongly.

When the gopis saw little Krsna fearlessly playing on Putana's lap, they very quickly came and picked Him up. Mother Yasoda, Rohini and other elder gopis immediately performed the auspicious rituals by taking the tail of a cow and circumambulating His body. The child was completely washed with the urine of a cow, and the dust created by the hooves of the cows was thrown all over His body. This was all just to save little Krsna from future inauspicious accidents. This incident gives us a clear indication of how important the cow is to the family, society and to living beings in general. The transcendental body of Krsna did not require any protection, but to instruct us on the importance of the cow, the Lord was smeared over with cow dung, washed with the urine of a cow, and sprinkled with the dust upraised by the walking of the cows.

After this purificatory process, the gopis, headed by mother Yasoda and Rohini, chanted twelve names of Visnu to give Krsna's body full protection from all evil influences. They washed their hands and feet and sipped water three times, as is the custom before chanting mantra. They chanted as follows: "My dear Krsna, may the Lord who is known as Maniman protect Your thighs; may Lord Visnu who is known as Yajna; protect Your legs; may Lord Acyuta protect Your arms; may Lord Hayagriva protect Your abdomen; may Lord Kesava protect Your heart; may Lord Visnu protect Your arms; may Lord Urukrama protect Your face; may Lord Isvara protect Your head; may Lord Cakradhara protect Your front; may Lord Gadadhara protect Your back; may Lord Madhusudana who carries a bow in His hand, protect Your right side; may Lord Visnu with His conchshell protect Your left side; may the Personality of Godhead Upendra protect You from above, and may Lord Tarksya protect You from below the earth; may Lord Haladhara protect You from all sides; may the Personality of Godhead known as Hrsikesa protect all Your senses; may Lord Narayana protect Your breath; and may the Lord of Svetadvipa, Narayana, protect Your heart; may Lord Yogesvara protect Your mind; may Lord Prsnigarbha protect Your intelligence, and may the Supreme Personality of Godhead protect Your soul. While You are playing, may Lord Govinda protect You from all sides, and when You are sleeping, may Lord Madhava protect You from all danger; when You are walking, may the Lord of Vaikuntha protect You from falling down; when You are sitting, may Lord Narayana give You all protection; and while You are eating, may the Lord of all sacrifices give You all protection."

Thus mother Yasoda began to chant different names of Visnu to protect the child Krsna's different bodily parts. Mother Yasoda was firmly convinced that she should protect her child from different kinds of evil spirits and ghosts--namely Dakinis, Yatudhanis, Kusmandas, Yaksas, Raksasas, Vinayakas, Kotaras, Revatis, Jyesthas, Putanas, Matrkas, Unmadas and similar other evil spirits, who cause persons to forget their own existence and give trouble to the life airs and the senses. Sometimes they appear in dreams and cause much perturbation; sometimes they appear as old women and suck the blood of small children. But all such ghosts and evil spirits cannot remain where there is chanting of the holy name of God. Mother Yasoda was firmly convinced of the Vedic injunctions about the importance of cows and the holy name of Visnu; therefore she took all shelter in the cows and the name of Visnu just to protect her child Krsna. She recited all the holy names of Visnu so that He might save the child. Vedic culture has taken advantage of keeping cows and chanting the holy name of Visnu since the beginning of history, and persons who are still following the Vedic ways, especially the householders, keep at least one dozen cows and worship the Deity of Lord Visnu, who is installed in their house. Persons who are advancing in Krsna consciousness should take instruction from this pastime and also be very much interested in cows and the holy name of Visnu.

The elder gopis of Vrndavana were so absorbed in affection for Krsna that they wanted to save Him, although there was no need to, for He had already protected Himself. They could not understand that Krsna was the Supreme Personality of Godhead playing as a child. After performing the formalities to protect the child, mother Yasoda took Krsna and let Him suck her breast. When the child was protected by visnu-mantra, mother Yasoda felt that He was safe. In the meantime, all the cowherd men who went to Mathura to pay tax returned home and were struck with wonder at seeing the gigantic dead body of Putana.

Nanda Maharaja recalled the prophecy of Vasudeva and considered him a great sage and mystic yogi; otherwise, how could he have foretold an incident that happened during his absence from Vrndavana? After this, all the residents of Vraja cut the gigantic body of Putana into pieces and piled it up with wood for burning. When all the limbs of Putana's body were burning, the smoke emanating from the fire created a good aroma. This aroma was due to her being killed by Krsna. This means that the demon Putana was washed of all her sinful activities and attained a celestial body. Here is an example of how the Supreme Personality of Godhead is all-good: Putana came to kill Krsna, but because He sucked her milk, she was immediately purified, and her dead body attained a transcendental quality. Her only business was to kill small children; she was only fond of blood. But in spite of being envious of Krsna, she attained salvation because she gave her milk to Him to drink. So what can be said of others who are affectionate to Krsna in the relationship of mother or father?"

Krsna Book, Chapter 6

"Krsna showed the nature of a small baby and closed His eyes, as if to avoid the face of Putana. This closing of the eyes is interpreted and studied in different ways by the devotees. Some say that Krsna closed His eyes because He did not like to see the face of Putana, who had killed so many children and who had now come to kill Him. Others say that something extraordinary was being dictated to her, and in order to give her assurance, Krsna closed His eyes so that she would not be frightened. And yet others interpret in this way: Krsna appeared to kill the demons and give protection to the devotees, as it is stated in the Bhagavad-gita: paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam. The first demon to be killed was a woman. According to Vedic rules, the killing of a woman, a brahmana, cows or of a child is forbidden. Krsna was obliged to kill the demon Putana, and because the killing of a woman is forbidden according to Vedic sastra, He could not help but close His eyes. Another interpretation is that Krsna closed His eyes because He simply took Putana to be His nurse. Putana came to Krsna just to offer her breast for the Lord to suck. Krsna is so merciful that even though He knew Putana was there to kill Him, He took her as His nurse or mother."

Krsna Book, Chapter 6

"After the Putana witch had been killed, some friends of mother Yasoda inquired from her about the incident. Mother Yasoda at once requested her friends, "Please stop! Please stop! Don't bring up the incident of Putana. I become distressed just by remembering this incident. The Putana witch came to devour my son, and she deceived me into letting her take the child on her lap. After that, she died and made a tumultuous sound with her gigantic body."

Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 48

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Excerpted from texts and purports of HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.