After Vasudeva adjusted things as they had been before he carried Kṛṣṇa to Gokula, and all the doors and gates became similarly closed, the gatekeepers awoke and heard the newborn child crying. Kaṁsa was waiting to hear the news of the child’s birth, and the gatekeepers immediately approached him and informed him that the child was born. At that time, Kaṁsa got up from his bed very quickly and exclaimed, “Now the cruel death of my life is born!” Kaṁsa became perplexed now that his death was approaching, and his hair scattered. Immediately he proceeded toward the place where the child was born.
Devakī, on seeing her brother approaching, prayed in a very meek attitude to Kaṁsa: “My dear brother, please do not kill this female child. I promise that this child will be the wife of your son; therefore don’t kill her. You are not to be killed by any female child. That was the prophecy. You are to be killed by a male child, so please do not kill her. My dear brother, you have killed so many of my children who were just born, shining like the sun. That is not your fault. You have been advised by demoniac friends to kill my children. But now I beg you to excuse this girl at least. Let her live as my daughter.”
Kaṁsa was so cruel that he did not listen to the pitiful prayers of his sister Devakī. He forcibly grabbed the newborn child to rebuke his sister and attempted to dash her on the stone mercilessly. This is a graphic example of a cruel demon who could sacrifice all relationships for the sake of personal gratification. But the child immediately slipped out of his hands, went up into the sky and appeared with eight arms as the younger sister of Viṣṇu. She was decorated with nice garments and flower garlands and ornaments; in her eight hands she held a bow, lance, arrows, sword, conchshell, disc, club and shield.
Seeing the appearance of the child (who was actually the goddess Durgā), all the demigods from different planets like Siddhaloka, Cāraṇaloka, Gandharvaloka, Apsaroloka, Kinnaraloka and Uragaloka presented her with various articles and began to offer their respective prayers. From above, the goddess addressed Kaṁsa: “You rascal, how can you kill me? The child who will kill you is already born before me somewhere within this world. Don’t be so cruel to your poor sister.” After this appearance, the goddess Durgā became known by various names in various parts of the world.
After hearing these words, Kaṁsa became very much overwhelmed with fear. Out of pity, he immediately released Vasudeva and Devakī from the bondage of their shackles and very politely began to address them. He said, “My dear sister and brother-in-law, I have acted just like a demon in killing my own nephews—your children—and thereby I have given up all consideration of our intimate relationship. I do not know what will be the result of these envious acts of mine. Probably I shall be sent to the hell where killers of brāhmaṇas go. I am surprised, however, that the celestial prophecy has not come true. It is not only in human society that false propaganda is found. Now it appears that even the celestial denizens speak lies. Because I believed in the words of the celestial denizens, I have committed so many sins by killing the children of my sister. My dear Vasudeva and Devakī, you are both very great souls. I have no instructions to give you, but still I request that you not be sorry for the death of your children. Every one of us is under the control of superior power, and that superior power does not allow us to remain together. We are bound to be separated from our friends and relatives in due course of time. But we must know for certain that even after the disappearance of the different material bodies, the soul remains intact eternally. For example, there are many pots made of earthly clay, and they are prepared and also broken. But in spite of this, the earth remains as it is perpetually. Similarly, the bodies of the soul under different conditions are made and destroyed, but the spirit soul remains eternally. So there is nothing to lament over. Everyone should understand that this material body is different from the spirit soul, and so long as one does not come to that understanding, he is sure to accept the processes of transmigration from one body to another.