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Vishnu Purana – Fifth Kandha

Chapter 15

Kansa sent Akrura to invite Krishna

1-3AFTER these things had come to pass, Aṛṣṭa the bull-demon and Dhenuka and Pralamba had been slain, Govarddhana had been lifted up, the serpent Kālīya had been subdued, the two trees had been broken, the female fiend Pūtanā had been killed, and the waggon had been overturned, Nārada went to Kansa, and related to him the whole, beginning with the transference of the child from Devakī to Yaśodā.
4-11Hearing this from Nārada, Kansa was highly incensed with Vasudeva, and bitterly reproached him, and all the Yādavas, in an assembly of the tribe. Then reflecting what was to be done, he determined to destroy both Kṛṣṇa and Rāma whilst they were yet young, and before they had attained to manly vigour: for which purpose he resolved to invite them from Vraja, under pretext of the solemn rite of the lustration of arms, when he would engage them in a trial of strength with his chief boxers, Cāṇūra and Muṣṭika, by whom they would assuredly be killed. “I will send,” he said, “the noble Yadu, Akrūra the son of Swaphalka, to Gokula, to bring them hither: I will order the fierce Keśin, who haunts the woods of Vrindāvan, to attack them, and he is of unequalled might, and will surely kill them; or, if they arrive here, my elephant Kuvalayāpīḍa shall trample to death these two cow-boy sons of Vasudeva.”
12Having thus laid his plans to destroy Rāma and Janārddana, the impious Kansa sent for the heroic Akrūra, and said to him:
13-22“Lord of liberal gifts[1], attend to my words, and, out of friendship for me, perform my orders. Ascend your chariot, and go hence to the station of the herdsman Nanda. Two vile boys, portions of Viṣṇu, have been born there, for the express object of effecting my destruction. On the fourteenth lunation I have to celebrate the festival of arms[2], and I wish them to be brought here by you, to take part in the games, and that the people may see them engage in a boxing match with my two dexterous athletæ, Cāṇūra and Muṣṭika; or haply my elephant Kuvalayāpīḍa, driven against them by his rider, shall kill these two iniquitous youngsters, sons of Vasudeva. When they are out of the way, I will put to death Vasudeva himself, the cowherd Nanda, and my foolish father, Ugrasena, and I will seize upon the herds and flocks, and all the possessions, of the rebellious Gopas, who have ever been my foes. Except thou, lord of liberality, all the Yādavas are hostile to me; but I will devise schemes for their extirpation, and I shall then reign over my kingdom, in concert with thee, without any annoyance. Through regard for me, therefore, do thou go as I direct thee; and thou shalt command the cowherds to bring in with speed their supplies of milk and butter and curds.”
23Being thus instructed, the illustrious Akrūra readily undertook to visit Kṛṣṇa, and, ascending his stately chariot, he went forth from the city of Mathurā.


[1] Dānapati: the epithet refers to Akrūra’s possession of the Syamantaka gem (see p. 433); although, as here used by Kansa, it is an anachronism, the gem not becoming his until after Kṛṣṇa’s maturity.
[2] Dhanurmaha: the same phrase p. 538 occurs in the different authorities. In its ordinary acceptation it would imply any military festival. There is one of great celebrity, which, in the south of India, closes the Dasaharā, or festival of Durgā, when military exercises are performed, and a field is ravaged, as typical of the opening of a campaign. Worship is paid to military implements. The proper day for this is the Vijaya daśamī, or tenth of the light half of Āśvin, falling about the end of September or beginning of October. Trans. Bombay Soc. III. 73; also Amara Koṣa, under the word ### (Lohābhisāra). Both our text and that of the Bhāgavata, however, intimate the celebration of the feast in question on the fourteenth day of the fortnight (in what month is not specified), and an occasional ‘passage of arms,’ therefore is all that is intended. The fourteenth day of the light lunation of any month is commonly held appropriate for a holiday, or religious rite. It will be seen in the sequel, that the leading feature of the ceremonial was intended to have been a trial of archery, spoiled by Kṛṣṇa’s breaking the bow that was to have been used on the occasion.

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