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Vishnu Purana – Fifth Kandha

Chapter 16

Slaughter demon Keshin

1-4KEŚIN, confiding in his prowess, having received the commands of Kansa, set off to the woods of Vrindāvana, with the intention of destroying Kṛṣṇa. He came in the shape of a steed, spurning the earth with his hoofs, scattering the clouds with his mane, and springing in his paces beyond the orbits of the sun and moon. The cowherds and their females, hearing his neighings, were struck with terror, and fled to Govinda for protection, calling upon him to save them. In a voice deep as the roaring of the thundercloud, Kṛṣṇa replied to them:
5-6“Away with these fears of Keśin; is the valour of a hero annihilated by your alarms? What is there to apprehend from one of such little might, whose neighings are his only terrors; a galloping and vicious steed, who is ridden by the strength of the Daityas?
7-17Come on, wretch—I am Kṛṣṇa—and I will knock all thy teeth down thy throat, as the wielder of the trident did to Pūṣan[1].” Thus defying him to combat, Govinda went to encounter Keśin. The demon ran upon him, with his mouth opened wide; but Kṛṣṇa enlarging the bulk of his arm, thrust it into his mouth, and wrenched out the teeth, which fell from his jaws like fragments of white clouds. Still the arm of Kṛṣṇa, in the throat of the demon, continued to enlarge, like a malady increasing from its commencement till it ends in dissolution. From his torn lips the demon vomited foam and blood; his eyes rolled in agony; his joints gave way; he beat the earth with his feet; his body was covered with perspiration; he became incapable of any effort. The formidable demon, having his mouth rent open by the arm of Kṛṣṇa, fell down, torn asunder like a tree struck by lightning: he lay separated into two portions, each having two legs, half a back, half a tail, one ear, one eye, and one nostril. Kṛṣṇa stood, unharmed and smiling, after the destruction of the demon, surrounded by the cowherds, who, together with their women, were filled with astonishment at the death of Keśin, and glorified the amiable god with the lotus eyes.
18-23Nārada the Brahman, invisible, seated in a cloud, beheld the fall of Keśin, and delightedly exclaimed, “Well done, lord of the universe, who in thy sports hast destroyed Keśin, the oppressor of the denizens of heaven! Curious to behold this great combat between a man and a horse—such a one as was never before heard of—I have come from heaven. Wonderful are the works that thou hast done, in thy descent upon the earth! they have excited my astonishment; but this, above all, has given me pleasure. Indra and the gods lived in dread of this horse, who tossed his mane, and neighed, and looked down upon the clouds. For this, that thou hast slain the impious Keśin, thou shalt be known in the world by the name of Keśava[2].
24-27Farewell: I will now depart. I shall meet thee again, conqueror of Keśin, in two days more, in conflict with Kansa. When the son of Ugrasena, with his followers, shall have been slain, then, upholder of the earth, will earth’s burdens have been lightened by thee. Many are the battles of the kings that I have to see, in which thou shalt be renowned. I will now depart, Govinda. A great deed, and acceptable to the gods, has been done by thee. I have been much delighted with thee, and now take my leave.”
28When Nārada had gone, Kṛṣṇa, not in any way surprised, returned with the Gopas to Gokula; the sole object of the eyes of the women of Vraja[3].

NOTES:

[1] As Vīrabhadra did to Pūṣā or Pūṣan, a form of Sūrya, at the sacrifice of Dakṣa: see p. 67. n. 6.
[2] Or Keśi and va, ‘who kills,’ from vadh or badh, ‘to kill:’ but this is a Paurāṇik etymology, and less satisfactory than the usual grammatical one of Keśa, ‘hair,’ and ‘va’ possessive affix: Kṛṣṇa corresponding in this respect to the Apollo Crinitus. It is also derived from the legend of his origin from ‘a hair’ (see p. 497. n. 23): and again, Keśa is said to purport ‘radiance’ or ‘rays,’ whether of the sun or moon or fire; all which are the light of Kṛṣṇa: whence he is called Keśava, ‘the rayed’ or ‘radiant.’ Mahābhārata, Mokṣa Dharma.
[3] The legend is told by all the other narrators of Kṛṣṇa’s juvenile exploits.

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