There was a demon of the name Śambara who was destined to be killed by Pradyumna. The Śambara demon knew of his destiny, and as soon as he learned that Pradyumna had been born, he took the shape of a woman and kidnapped the baby from the maternity home less than ten days after his birth. The demon took him and threw him directly into the sea. But, as it is said, “Whoever is protected by Kṛṣṇa, no one can kill, and whoever is destined to be killed by Kṛṣṇa, no one can protect.” When Pradyumna was thrown into the sea, a big fish immediately swallowed him. Later this fish was caught in the net of a fisherman, and the fish was later sold to the Śambara demon. In the kitchen of the demon was a maidservant whose name was Māyāvatī. This woman had formerly been the wife of Cupid, called Rati. When the fish was presented to the demon Śambara, it was taken charge of by his cook, who was to make it into a palatable fish preparation. Demons and Rākṣasas are accustomed to eat meat, fish and similar nonvegetarian foods. Demons like Rāvaṇa, Kaṁsa and Hiraṇyakaśipu, although born of brāhmaṇa and kṣatriya fathers, used to take meat and flesh without discrimination. This practice is still prevalent in India, and those who eat meat and fish are generally called demons and Rākṣasas.
When the cook was cutting the fish, he found within its stomach a nice baby, which he immediately presented to the charge of Māyāvatī, who was an assistant in the kitchen affairs. This woman was surprised to see how such a nice baby could remain within the belly of a fish, and the situation perplexed her. The great sage Nārada then appeared and explained to her about the birth of Pradyumna and how the baby had been taken away by Śambara and later thrown into the sea. In this way the whole story was disclosed to Māyāvatī. Māyāvatī knew that she had previously been Rati, the wife of Cupid; after her husband was burned to ashes by the wrath of Lord Śiva, she was always expecting him to come back in a material form. This woman was engaged for cooking rice and dhal in the kitchen, but when she got this nice baby and understood that he was Cupid, her own husband, she naturally took charge of him and with great affection began to bathe him regularly. Miraculously, the baby swiftly grew up, and within a very short period he became a beautiful young man. His eyes were just like the petals of lotus flowers, and his arms were long, reaching down to his knees; any woman who happened to see him was captivated by his bodily beauty.
Māyāvatī could understand that her former husband, Cupid, born as Pradyumna, had grown into such a nice young man, and she also gradually became captivated and lusty. Smiling before him with a feminine attractiveness, she expressed her desire for sexual union. He therefore inquired from her, “How is it possible that first you were affectionate like a mother and now you are expressing the symptoms of a lusty woman? What is the reason for such a change?” On hearing this statement from Pradyumna, the woman, Rati, replied, “My dear sir, you are the son of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Before you were ten days old, you were stolen by the Śambara demon and later thrown into the water and swallowed by a fish. In this way you have come under my care, but actually, in your former life as Cupid, I was your wife; therefore, my manifestation of conjugal symptoms is not at all incompatible. Śambara wanted to kill you, and he is endowed with various mystic powers. Therefore, before he again attempts to kill you, please kill him as soon as possible with your divine power. Since you were stolen by Śambara, your mother, Rukmiṇī-devī, has been in a very grievous condition, like a kurarī bird who has lost her babies. She is very affectionate toward you, and since you have been taken away from her, she has been living like a cow aggrieved over the loss of its calf.”
Māyāvatī had mystic knowledge of supernatural powers. Supernatural powers are generally known as māyā, and to surpass all such powers there is another supernatural power, called mahā-māyā. Māyāvatī had the knowledge of the mystic power of mahā-māyā, and she delivered to Pradyumna this specific energetic power in order to defeat the mystic powers of the Śambara demon. Thus being empowered by his wife, Pradyumna immediately went before Śambara and challenged him to fight. Pradyumna addressed him in very strong language, so that his temper would be agitated and he would be moved to fight. At Pradyumna’s words, the demon Śambara, being insulted, felt just as a snake feels after being struck by someone’s foot. A serpent cannot tolerate being kicked by another animal or by a man, and it immediately bites its opponent.