Why was Krsna’s Uncle Kamsa a Demon?

The mystery of Kamsa’s
birth revealed.

Shyamasundara Dasa

Copyright © 2021

All images copyrighted by
Bhaktivedanta Booktrust, krishna(dot)com.

In this article you will learn:

  • Why Krsna’s uncle Kaṁsa was a demon.

  • Why demons were created.

  • Many points of dharma illustrated by historical examples.

When I first read about Krsna’s pastimes I always wondered why the demon Kalanemi took birth as Krsna’s maternal uncle Kaṁsa.

Then when reading Brhad Bhagavtamrta 1.6.6-8, there was a brief reference about Krsna’s grandmother Padmāvatī in the commentary; wherein it mentions a reference from the Padma Purana describing how at one time she was seduced by a demon disguised as Ugrasena. The result of this illicit connection was Kaṁsa.

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Later I was reading Padma Purāṇa Bhumikhanda (2nd canto, chapters 41-60) which tells the history of Sukalā in which the history of Padmāvatī and Kaṁsa’s birth is told in detail.

We will briefly describe the contents leading up to the history of Padmāvatī.

The History of Sukalā

Sukalā was a pati-devānāṁ (very chaste woman) whose virtuous husband, Krkala went on a pilgrimage without her. She was tormented by separation from her husband. Other women tried to console her by suggesting she adopt what Sukalā considered adharmik ways. Sukalā strongly opposed the advice of her friends and to support her position recounted the history of Sudevā.

History of Sudevā

Sudevā was the consort of Iksvaku, king of Ayodhya. Once Iksvaku took his wife with him on a royal hunt wherein he practiced his kshatriya duties by killing various animals. In the forest was a mighty Boar who was king of the local hogs, along with his consort female hog. This Boar usually ran away when other hunters came but on this occasion he wanted to challenge Iksvaku. When his consort asked why he ran from others but now wanted to fight with Iksvaku the Boar replied that other hunters were sinful wretches and if they killed him he would in his next birth again have a sinful existence. But since Iksvaku was an incarnation of Visnu being killed by Him would be a great blessing and he would attain to a higher birth. His consort the queen of the hogs, being a chaste wife, like a shadow followed her husband and decided to do battle along with her husband against Iksvaku.

After a fierce battle in which many hogs and soldiers were killed the king of the hogs was killed by Lord Visnu, in the form of Iksvaku, and returned to his position as lord of the Gandharvas.

The queen of the hogs and her eldest son fought with the King and his soldiers. Maharaja Iksvaku killed the eldest son but he didn’t want to personally kill the hog queen because she was female. However, because she was creating havoc and killing many soldiers and hunters she was attacked by the rest of the army and was seriously injured with terrible wounds and swooned on the field of battle.

Seeing the female hog in great distress, Sudevā the consort of Iksvaku (and mother Laksmi herself), out of pity, sprinkled holy water over the whole body of the female hog. The touch of the holy water released the female hog from mountains of sin. And she then began to speak with to Queen Sudevā in chaste Sanskrit which created wonder in the minds of Sudevā and Iksvaku.

Sudevā asked the female hog who she and her husband the hog king were?

The female hog replied that her husband was a highly accomplished Gandhava named Rangavidyadhara who was sent by Indra to disturb the meditation of Pulastya Rsi and as a reaction for doing so was cursed by Pulastya Rsi to take birth as a hog.

Now we shall enter into the text of the Padma Purāṇa itself wherein the female hog tells Sudevā about her past birth and what terrible acts she performed to get her current life as a female hog.

Please note that like many Vedic literatures the narrative of the Padma Purāṇa is one of nested stories. That is, stories within stories within stories. So at times you will see the names of different narrators who seem unrelated to the small segment you are reading, but who were introduced earlier in the Padma Purāṇa.

Chapter 47
The Story of Vasudatta and His Daughter Sudevā

[Note, in this chapter there are two different person’s named Sudevā, one is the consort of Iksvaku, the other is the name of the female hog in her previous human life.]

Sukalā said:

I. Sudevā, whose entire body was beautiful, said to the female hog: “How is it that you, who are born in a species of beasts, speak Sanskrit?

2. Tell me where from you had such great knowledge. O you auspicious one, how do you know the account of your husband and of yourself?”

The female hog said:

3-7. Due to my being a beast I was enveloped by delusion, O you of an excellent complexion; and struck with swords and arrows, I fell on the battlefield. I was overpowered by swoon, and was unconscious, O you of an excellent face. O beautiful lady, with your pious hand you sprinkled (water on me). When my body was sprinkled over with the holy water by your hand, swoon left me and disappeared. As the darkness disappears due to lustre (i.e. light), similarly, O auspicious one, my sin disappeared due to your having sprinkled (over my body). O you of a charming body, by your favour I obtained old knowledge (i.e. knowledge of previous existence). O you auspicious one, I realized that I shall reach a holy position.

8. Listen, I shall narrate my former account. O you auspicious one (I shall tell you) what great sin, I, a sinner, had (formerly) committed.

9-12. In the great country called Kalinga, there was a city by name Sripura, which was full of all accomplishments, and was inhabited by (the people of) the four castes. There lived a certain brāhmana, known as Vasudatta, who was always engaged in the duties of a brāhmana, and always devoted to truthful acts. He knew the Vedas, he was erudite, he was pure, virtuous and rich. He was full of (i.e. he had ample) wealth and grains, and was adorned (blessed) with sons and grandsons. O you auspicious lady, I am his daughter adorned with brothers and sisters, kinsmen, relatives, ornaments and decorations, O you of a beautiful face.

13-17. My very intelligent father named me Sudevā. O you highly intelligent one, I was always dear to my father. I was matchless in beauty; and like that (i.e. like me) there was none in the (whole) world. I, of a charming smile, was puffed up with the pride of my beauty and youth. I was a maiden very beautiful and adorned with all ornaments. Seeing me, all the people - all relatives of my class solicited me in marriage, O you of a beautiful face. I (i.e. my hand) was solicited by all brāhmanas; (but) my father did not give me (in marriage to any brāhmana). O you glorious one, the highly intelligent one (i.e. my father) was deluded through his affection (for me). That my magnanimous father did not give me (to anyone in marriage).

18-21. Youth with (all its accompanying) feelings set upon me, O you young lady. Seeing my beauty like that, my mother, being greatly afflicted; said to my father: “Why do you not give (our) daughter (in marriage to a brāhmana)? O glorious one, give this daughter (in marriage) to a good, magnanimous brāhmana (for) she has (now) attained youth.” The best and excellent brāhmana, Vasudatta, said to (my) mother: “O you noble one, listen to my words. O you of an excellent complexion, I am deluded by great fascination for (our) daughter.

22-23. O auspicious one, listen, I shall give my daughter to that son-in-law, who would be a householder. This Sudevā is dear to me like my own life. There is no doubt about it.” Thus my father Vasudatta spoke (to my mother).

24-27a. There was a brāhmana, who was virtuous, pure, born in the family of Kausika, and was well-versed in all lores, and was endowed with the qualities of brāhmanas. Seeing him, who did not have father and mother, who was endowed with the study of the Vedas, and who was reciting (them) melodiously, and seeing the form of him, who had come to (our) door for alms, my very intelligent father said: “Who are you? Tell me now your name; (tell me about your) family, lineage, your practices.”

27b-29. Hearing (my) father's words he said to Vasudatta (my father): “I am born in the family of Kausika. I have, mastered the Vedas and the Vedangas. My name is Sivasarman. I do not have father and mother (i.e. I am an orphan). I have four other brothers, who have mastered the Vedas. I have thus told you (about) my family, and about the practices of my family.”

30-35. Thus everything was told to my father by Sivasarman. O you blessed one, when an auspicious time, date and the star of the deity presiding over marriage arrived, I was given (in marriage) to that brāhmana by my father. With that glorious one I stayed alone in my father’s house. Being very much deluded by the great wealth of my father and mother and pride, I, a sinner, did not serve my husband. O you auspicious one, I never shampooed his body through love or affection or (pleased him) with (sweet) words. A sinner that I was, I always looked at (i.e. treated) him cruelly. O auspicious one, due to my contact with unchaste women, I reached their condition. I did no good to my mother, father, husband and brothers. I went here and there.

36-38. Seeing such wicked behavior of me, my husband, through his love for his father-in-law (and mother-in-law) my very intelligent husband did not say anything to me. I, a great sinner, was however, warded off by (the members of) my family. All those (members of the family like) my father and mother, knowing the character and goodness of Sivasarman, were afflicted by my sinful acts.

39-46. Seeing my wicked acts, my husband went out of the house. He left the country and the village and went (away) from it. When my husband had gone, my father was full of anxiety, and was afflicted with grief as one would be afflicted with a disease. My mother said to her husband (i.e. my father) who was afflicted with grief: “What for is your worry, O my dear (husband)? Tell me your worry.” “O pleasing one, the brāhmana, (our) son-in-law, has abandoned (our) daughter and gone. This one is of a sinful conduct, merciless and performs sinful acts. The very intelligent Sivasarman has been forsaken by this one (only). The highly intelligent brāhmana, O dear one, due to his courtesy towards our entire family and me, does not say anything at all to Sudevā. He lives peacefully and the intelligent, learned man does not condemn or censure Sudevā moving wantonly. This wicked Sudevā will destroy (our) family. O you housewife, leaving her, I (shall) go.”

The brāhmana’s wife said:

47-65. O dear one, today you have understood the virtues. and the vices of (our) daughter. She has now been spoiled because of your affection and love for her. One should fondle one’s son till he is five years old. O dear one, one should always nourish him with the idea of training him (even) through affection also, by giving him bath, cloths, food, (other) eatables, drinks. There is no doubt about this. O dear one, one should urge the son in (i.e. to acquire) virtues and true learning. A father is always free from affection for the sake of teaching virtues (to his son). O dear one, affections take place (i.e. should be shown) in the protection and nourishment (of the son). (A father) should never describe his son as virtuous. Everyday he should censure him. He should always talk to him (with) sternness, and should afflict him with (harsh) words, so that the son, intent upon (acquiring) learning, will pursue true knowledge. Even through a device used to correct his pride, he leaves his sin far away. Perfection in learning and virtues is produced (in him).

Both the parents get the (fruit of the) sin which a daughter, living in her father's house, commits. … The husband suffers due to the sin which she, living there (i.e. in the husband’s house) commits.

A mother should beat her daughter, and a mother-in-law should beat her daughter-in-law. A preceptor should beat his pupil. Thus they acquire perfection, not otherwise. A king should punish his minister. A soldier should beat his horse, and the elephant’s driver should beat him. O lord, by means of being beaten and being protected, they are prepared with a thought for training. O lord, along with the good brāhmana Sivasarman, you yourself have forever spoilt her. In the house she was made undisciplined (i.e. was not checked); therefore, O you highly intelligent one, she is spoilt. O dear one, listen to my words: The father should keep his daughter in his house till she becomes eight years old. He should not keep a strong (i.e. grown up) one. Both the parents get the (fruit of the) sin which a daughter, living in her father's house, commits. Therefore an able (i.e. a grown up) daughter is not kept in his house (by the father). She should get nourishment in the house of him to whom she is given. She, living there, should devoutly win over her virtuous husband. The family becomes famous; the father lives happily. The husband suffers due to the sin which she, living there (i.e. in the husband’s house) commits. Living there, she always prospers with sons and grandsons. O dear one, the father obtains fame due to the good qualities of his daughter. Therefore, O dear one, one should not keep in one’s house one’s daughter with her husband (i.e. a married daughter). O dear one, in this context there is an account that is so heard: O brāhmana, I shall tell you the account of the hero Ugrasena, the eldest Yadu, as it took place, when the great twenty-eighth Dvāpara yuga arrived. Listen to it with a concentrated mind.

Therefore, O dear one, one should not keep in one’s house one’s daughter with her husband (i.e. a married daughter).

Chapter 48
The Story of Padmāvatī

The brāhmana’s wife said:

1. In the charming region of Māthura, in (the city of) Māthura, lived the best Yādava king, the killer of his enemies, and well-known as Ugrasena.

2-7. The king knew the meaning and essentials of the whole religion; he knew the Vedas; he was learned and powerful; he was a donor, an enjoyer, an appreciator of virtues and a virtuous one. He, the intelligent one, ruled (over Māthura) and protected his subjects justly. Thus was that very lustrous and valorous Ugrasena. In the holy country of Vidarbha there lived a dignified (king named) Satyaketu. His glorious daughter, having eyes like lotuses and face like a lotus, and devoted to truthful behavior, was Padmāvatī by name. That Padmāvatī, the daughter of the Vidarbha king was endowed with feminine qualities and by means of her virtues based on truthfulness, she shone like another one born from the sea (i.e. like Laksmi). Ugrasena (the king) of the Māthura country married her, of beautiful eyes. O glorious one, with her the valorous one enjoyed himself happily. Being very much pleased with her qualities, he became happy with her (i.e. in her company).

8-9. The lord of the Māthura (country) was infatuated by her, due to her affection and love. The lucky Padmāvatī had become dearer to him than his own life. He did not eat without her, and sported with her (only). He did not at all enjoy any great pleasure without her.

10-12. O best brāhmana, thus the best ones became affectionate towards each other, loved each other and gave great pleasure and joy to each other ; and the glorious king of kings, Satyaketu, remembered his daughter Padmāvatī. Her mother (also) was very much afflicted. That king of Vidarbha (i.e. Satyaketu) respectfully sent his messengers to the brave king Ugrasena, O best brāhmana.

13-18. The messenger said (these) words to the great king Ugrasena: “The brave lord of Vidarbha greeting you with devotion and affection, tells (i.e. informs) about his well-being, and inquires about your (well-being). O great king, Satyaketu has asked (i.e. requested) you like this: ‘(Please) send my daughter (to me) to see (so that I can see) her.’ O lord, if you have regard for his love and affection, then send that glorious Padmāvatī, who delights you. O great king, he is very anxious and uneasy.” Then, O best brāhmana, having heard (these) words, the best and glorious king Ugrasena, due to love and affection for that magnanimous Satyaketu and through generosity, sent his dear wife Padmāvatī (to her father's -Satyaketu’s house).

19-27. That Padmāvatī, sent by him, was full of great joy, and went to her own former house. The charming and auspicious one saw (i.e. met the members of her) family led by her father. And she, devoted to truth, saluted her father’s feet. O best brāhmana, the great king, the lord of Vidarbha was full of great joy, when Padmāvatī had arrived (there). Greeted with presents and other respectful considerations, with garments, ornaments and decorations, Padmāvatī lived happily in her father’s house. She lived with her friends without any apprehension. As before she at that time rejoiced in the chamber, tank and also in the palace. Having as it were become a young girl again, she stayed (there) without bashfulness. O brāhmana, she always behaved without bashfulness with her friends. She, the glorious, loyal wife, full of great joy, knowing that the happiness obtained in the father's house is difficult to be obtained in the father-in-laws's house, sported (there). Wondering longingly ‘When (again) could there by enjoyment like this’ the beautiful lady everyday longed for sport in the groves with her friends.

Kamsa about to kill Devaki

A scene from Srimad Bhagavatam 10.1.35 wherein Kaṁsa is about to kill his sister Devaki on her wedding day after hearing the omen that her 8th born child would kill him.

Chapter 49
Padmāvatī Succumbs to Gobhila’s Fraudulent Approach

The brāhmana’s wife said:

l-9a. O you glorious one, once on the best mountain she saw a beautiful grove, adorned with groups of plantain-trees, with the sala trees, tala trees, tamala trees, coconut trees, with big betelnut trees, matuliniga (i.e. citron) trees, orange trees, and charming jambu trees, with auspicious campaka trees and patala trees that had blossomed, and also with kutaka and banyan trees ; it was full of asoka and bakula trees, and was adorned with various other kinds of trees. She saw that holy mountain with trees that had blossomed. Everywhere it appeared beautiful, as it was full of many kinds of minerals. She also saw an excellent lake full of holy water on all sides, shining with fully developed lotuses and other fragrant golden lotuses, with white lotuses and fully developed red lotuses, with blue lotuses, white lotuses and with waterfowls, with other aquatic birds, and was full of various minerals. The lake was white all round, and was full of groups of many kinds of birds. The mountain was graced everywhere by auspicious and sweet cooing of cuckoos and was everywhere agreeable due to the sounds (produced) by madhura trees. It looked lovely by the excellent humming of the bees.

9b-13. The princess saw the mountain like this, charming and excellent, and the lake beautiful all round. Padmāvatī, the daughter of the Vidarbha-king, while playing and engaged in sporting in water, and on the bank of the lake with her friends, saw that auspicious forest full of flowers everywhere, and laughed and sang sportively due to fickleness and powerful feminine nature. O brāhmana, that beautiful lady, thus sporting in that lake moved happily.

Visnu said:

14-15. The best demon Gobhila, the servant of Kubera, endowed with all enjoyments, was going in a divine airplane along an aerial path (i.e. in the air). At the time he saw the fearless, broad-eyed daughter of the Vidarbha-king. 16. She, the best of all women, the dear wife of Ugrasena, matchless in beauty in the world, shone beautifully in all her limbs.

17-25. (He thought:) ‘Might she be Rati, (the spouse) of Cupid, or (Laksmi) the dear (wife) of Hari, or goddess Parvati or Saci (the wife of Indra). No other woman like her, the best among women, is seen on the globe. The beautiful woman shines with her beauty and arts as the beautiful full moon shines among the stars. This woman with a charming smile (shines) as a swan in lakes. Oh, how beautiful does her form appear! Oh, what an amorous gesture! Who is this charming woman having beautiful round breasts? To whom does she belong?’ The demon Gobhila thought like this about (that) beautiful. Padmāvatī. O brāhmana, for a moment he thought as to who she was and to whom she belonged. With superior knowledge [divya-dristi] he knew that she was the daughter of the Vidarbha-king. There was no doubt about it (in his mind). She was the wife of Ugrasena, devoted to her husband. She stood by her own power, and was not easily attainable even by men. Ugrasena, who has sent this young lady to her father's house, is a great fool. He is unfortunate. How would the (king) of a fraudulent mind ever live without her? Or is the king impotent that he would leave (i.e. he has left) her?

26-28a. Seeing her he instantly became enamored. ‘This chaste lady is difficult to be secured even by men. How can I go (near her) and enjoy her? Lust afflicts me very much. If I shall go without enjoying her, then I shall die today only. There is no doubt about it; since lust is very powerful.’

28b-35. Being anxious like this, Gobhila observed mentally (i.e. thought to himself). Taking up an illusory form of king Ugrasena, the demon Gobhila fully became as the great Ugrasena was in point of gait, voice and language ; and putting on garments and apparel (like Ugrasena) and being of the same age, and putting on divine flowers and garments and having besmeared his body with divine sandal, and with his entire body (rendered) handsome as was the lord of Māthura, and thus being full of (i.e. exactly like) Ugrasena, and being equipped with great trickery and (fine) figure and handsomeness he remained on the top of the mountain, after having resorted to the shadow of an asoka tree. Seated on a slab, the wicked-minded one with the neck of the lute (in his hand), was singing a melodious song, enchanting the universe. The wicked-minded one, enamored of her beauty, sang a song equipped with the beating time, measure and execution, and adorned with the seven notes. O brāhmana, he, seated on the mountain-top was full of great joy.

36. That beautiful Padmāvatī, who was in the midst of her friends, heard that melodious song, equipped with beating time, measure and the musical time.

37. ‘Who is this pious one that is singing a song which gives great pleasure, which is full of fine execution and endowed with all ideas?’

38-42. The princess with curiosity went there with her friends and saw the mean demon Gobhila in the garb of the king, wearing divine flowers and garment and with his body besmeared with divine sandal, with all his limbs decorated with ornaments, seated on a spotless slab, resorting to (i.e. in) the shadow of an asoka tree. The loyal wife Padmāvatī (thought):

‘When did my glorious lord, the king of Māthura, and devoted to religious practices, come, after having left far behind his kingdom?’ When she was thinking (like this), the sinful one called her hurriedly: “O my darling, come on.” She was amazed and was doubtful as to how her lord had come (there).

43-46 She was ashamed, was afflicted, and then hung down her face (and thought:) ‘I am sinful, of a bad conduct. I have turned fearless. There is no doubt that the glorious one will be just angry with me.’

When she was thinking like this, that wicked one too hurriedly called her: “O my darling, come on, O dear one, O you of an excellent face, separated from you I cannot sustain my life; and life is very dear to me; I am longing for your love; I am greatly unable to leave you.”

The brāhmana’s wife said:

47-48. Thus addressed, she, full of bashfulness, saw the handsome one. Then the demon Gobhila, having embraced that virtuous Padmāvatī, the daughter of Satyaketu, took her to a secluded place, and fully enjoyed her as he desired.

Sukalā said:

49-54. The beautiful one did not find the mark (known to her) on his testicle. Taking up her garment, she became afraid and afflicted. Angrily she spoke (these) words to that mean Gobhila: “Who are you of the form of a demon, who are acting wickedly and who are merciless?” O king, she, with her eyes full (of tears) due to grief, trembling, and oppressed with the burden of affliction was bent on cursing him: “O you wicked one, having come (here) in the guise of my husband, you have destroyed my excellent chastity - my best virtue. Having sung melodiously, you have destroyed my existence. (Now) see my power; here (i.e. now) only I shall give you a very fearful curse.” She, who desired to curse Gobhila, spoke like this.

Chapter 50
Padmāvatī Is Grief-stricken

In this chapter Gobila explains that the demons know the Vedas perfectly. And that the dharma of the demons is to find out the flaws of people and severely punish them for not following dharma. And, that he is punishing Pādmavatī for not following the dharma of women properly.

Sukalā said:

l-12. Hearing her words, Gobhila said (these) words:

“Tell me the reason for which you desire to curse me. By what blemish am I defiled that you are ready to curse me? O auspicious one, I am a demon by name Gobhila, a warrior of Paulastya (i.e. Ravana). I act like a demon, I know excellent lore. I know the meaning of the Vedas and branches of knowledge, I am also skilled in arts. All this I know. (Now) listen about my demonic behavior. I enjoy per force the wealth and the wives of others, and do so in no other way. Listen, we demons properly follow the demonic ways and do so knowingly. I am telling you the truth (and) the truth (only).

The demons, the best evil spirits flee away due to the fear of a chaste lady, of Visnu and of a good brāhmana.

Everyday we observe the loopholes of brāhmanas. By (putting in) difficulties we destroy their penance; there is no doubt about this. Finding a loophole in the brāhmanas we destroy them, O respectable lady. There is no doubt about this. O you of a beautiful face, listen. We destroy a sacrifice in honor of gods, (other) sacrifices and religious rites. There is no doubt about this. There is no doubt that we live by keeping far away from excellent brāhmanas, the god Lord Narayana, and a chaste, illustrious lady of a good mind and devoted to her husband. O respectable lady, demons cannot bear the luster of a good brāhmana, of glorious Hari, and of a lady loyal to her husband. The demons, the best evil spirits flee away due to the fear of a chaste lady, of Visnu and of a good brāhmana. I am roaming over the earth, according to the way of life of a demon. Why do you desire to curse me? What do you think my fault is?”

Padmāvatī said:

13-14. You alone have destroyed my dharma (chastity) and good body. O sinner, I am a chaste, pitiable, and virtuous woman, loving my husband. I remained on my own (i.e. followed my own) course (of life). You have defiled me through deceit. Therefore, O wicked one, I shall certainly burn you too.

Gobhila said:

15-16. If you agree I shall explain to you the way of the life of even a brāhmana, who has kept the sacred fire. O princess, listen. Offering oblation (to fire), he should not leave the fire chamber. He alone is one who has kept the sacred fire and who offers sacrifice everyday.

17-18. O you of an excellent face, I shall also tell you about another (thing) - the way of life of a servant. O respectable lady, he is called a meritorious servant, who is always pure in mind, deeds and speech, who always obeys (his master) and remains behind and in front of him.

19 -20. That virtuous, learned and eminent son, who protects his father and especially his mother by his mind (i.e. willingly), by his body and his actions, has (the merit of) a bath in Bhagirathi everyday. He who does (i.e. behaves) in an opposite manner, is undoubtedly a sinner.

21-24a. I shall also narrate to you another excellent vow (in honor) of the husband. O you beautiful lady, listen. That lady alone, who everyday renders service to her husband by good words, mind (i.e. willingly) and actions, and she, who is pleased when her husband is pleased, she, who would not abandon her angry husband, she who does not find fault with him, and she who is contented (though) beaten (by him), and she who always stands in the forefront in all the deeds of her husband, is called a woman devoted to her husband.

24b -28. A father, though fallen, or full of many blemishes, or affected with leprosy or who is angry, is never to be abandoned on any account by his sons. Those sons (who) indeed serve their father or mother, go to the highest heaven. That is the highest place of Visnu. The servants who in this way wait upon their masters go to the heaven of the lord through the grace of the master. A brāhmana (who) does not abandon (keeping) fire, goes to Brahma's heaven. A brāhmana, who abandons (keeping) fire is called the husband of a sudra woman. There is no doubt that a servant, by deserting his master, would be plotting against his master.

29. A brāhmana should never give up (keeping) fire, a son should never abandon his father, and a servant should never desert his master. I am telling the truth (and) the truth (only).

30-34. Those who go away leaving (these), go to the ocean in the form of hell. If, O respectable lady, a woman desires her welfare here (i.e. in this world), she should never desert her husband who is fallen, diseased, languid, affected with leprosy, or who is void of (i.e. unable to do) all acts, and whose accumulation of wealth has been lost. A woman who would leave her husband and go and desire to work for someone else here (i.e. in this world), is looked upon as an unchaste woman and is fully excommunicated. People call that woman an unchaste one, who, through fickleness, enjoys pleasures and decorates herself when her husband has gone to (some other) village. Thus I know the dharma (which is) also approved by the Vedas and the sacred treatises.

35-45. There is no doubt that I shall tell you the entire reason about this, as to why at the beginning the creator created demons, goblins and evil spirits. Brāhmanas, demons, fiends, goblins, have, O beautiful lady, studied all that is said about dharma. Demons know all that, but do not practice it. Demons, void of knowledge, do all acts without the proper rite. Men not practicing rites act unjustly. The demons are created for disciplining such men; and not for anything else. We discipline those mean men, who perform various acts without proper rites by severely punishing them.

I shall tell you the entire reason about this, as to why at the beginning the creator created demons, goblins and evil spirits. Brāhmanas, demons, fiends, goblins, have, O beautiful lady, studied all that is said about dharma. Demons know all that, but do not practice it. Demons, void of knowledge, do all acts without the proper rite. Men not practicing rites act unjustly. The demons are created for disciplining such men; and not for anything else. We discipline those mean men, who perform various acts without proper rites by severely punishing them.

You have done a terrible and very cruel act. Why, abandoning your state of a housewife, did you come here? And with your own mouth (i.e. you yourself) are saying that you are a lady loyal to your husband! But that your loyalty to your husband is not seen through your action. Leaving the husband, why have you come here? Decorating yourself, putting on ornaments and (attractive) dress, and (thus) being shameless, you are staying here. O sinful one, tell me why, for what purpose, you have done (this). Being fearless and wanton, you are living in the mountain-forest. Listen, I have subdued you, a sinner, with a great (i.e. severe) punishment. Behaving impiously, you, a wicked woman, have abandoned your husband, and come (here). Where is your loyalty to your husband? Show that before (i.e. to) me. You are indeed an unchaste woman, who have deserted your husband. When a woman occupies a separate bed (i.e. does not occupy the same bed as her husband does), she is looked upon as unchaste.

46. Your husband is at a distance of a hundred yojanas. Where is your loyalty to your husband? You are behaving like an unchaste woman.

47-48a. O you shameless woman, O you cruel one, O you wicked one, facing me (i.e. to me) what (will) you say (now)? Where does your penance exist? Where is your luster? Where is your power? Show me, today only, your power, valor and prowess.

Padmāvatī said:

48b-52a. O you mean demon, listen. My father brought me here from my husband’s house through affection. What sin is there? I, who am devoted to my husband, have come (here) leaving my husband not through lust, or greed, or delusion or hostility (to him). You yourself, taking the guise of my husband, have deceived me. I went forth to you, taking you to be (the king of) Māthura. O you mean demon, (now) when I know you to be (a demon) using tricks, I shall reduce you to ashes just with one hum-sound.

Gobhila said:

52b-56a. Blind human beings do not (i.e. cannot) see. Now listen. How do you, bereft of the eye of dharma know me now? Listen; when a desire for (visiting) your father's house arose in you after you had stopped thinking about your husband, then, your eye of wisdom in your heart had evidently perished. (Now), with your eye of wisdom lost, how do you recognize me on the earth (i.e. here)? To which wife, mother, father, brother, kinsmen and relatives belong? (i.e. none of them is related to her). In all (these) places (i.e. in the places of all these), the husband alone (remains); there is no doubt about this.

56b-58a. Saying so, and laughing loudly, the mean demon Gobhila (again spoke:) “O you unchaste woman, listen. Today I have no (cause of) fear from you. What would happen by means of your curse? You are unnecessarily trembling. Resorting to my house, enjoy pleasures as you like.”

Padmāvatī said:

58b-59. Go (away), O you of wicked acts. What are you, being shameless, talking? I have (always) lived as a chaste woman, devoted to my husband. O you great sinner, if you talk (shamelessly) like this, I shall burn you.

60-62. Saying so, she sat on the ground in a secluded place. Gobhila said to her who was afflicted with great grief; “O you beautiful one, I have deposited my germ into your womb. From it will spring up a son who will agitate the three worlds.” Speaking like this, the demon Gobhila then left.

63. When that demon of wicked acts and sinful behavior had gone, the princess, full of great grief, wept.

Chapter 51
Padmāvatī Returns to Her Husband's Place

The wife of the brāhmana said:

1-2. When that wicked-hearted Gobhila of a bad conduct had left, Padmāvatī, being full of great grief, wept. O best brāhmana, hearing her weeping, all her beautiful friends asked the princess.

3-4. (They said:) “Well-being to you, why are you weeping? Tell us your story (i.e. what you did). Tell us where the great king, your (husband) the lord of Māthura, who had invited you by addressing you (as) ‘O dear one’ is”. Weeping again, again she spoke with grief.

5-6. She told (them) everything that had taken place through error. They took her who was weeping and was extremely afflicted to her father's house. Then the damsels told (the account) in the presence of (i.e. to) her mother. Hearing that the queen (i.e. her mother) went to her husband’s mansion.

7-10a. She told the account of her daughter to her husband. Hearing it, the king was extremely grieved. Giving her a vehicle, clothes etc. he sent her, along with attendants, to Māthura. She went to the mansion of her dear (husband). The father and the mother concealed the blemish of their daughter, O best brāhmana; but the righteous-minded Ugrasena, seeing Padmāvatī who had arrived, was glad, and again quickly said these words to her:

10b-ll. “O you beautiful lady, I cannot live without you. You are very lustrous; O dear one, you are always dear to me due to your virtues, character, devotion, truth and qualities like devotion to your husband.”

12. Ugrasena, the lord of men, the best king, speaking (like this) to dear wife Padmāvatī, enjoyed in her company.

13-16. The fierce fetus, causing fear to all the worlds, grew. Padmāvatī knew the cause of that fetus. Night and day she thought about it growing in her womb: ‘What is the use of this one, destroyer of the worlds, being born? Now I have nothing to do with this wicked son.’ Everywhere she enquired about a herb that would cause abortion. The lady, secured (i.e. tried to secure) a great (i.e. effective) herb for abortion. Everyday she adopted many remedies for abortion.

17-21. The fetus, fearful to all the worlds, grew. Then the fetus said to his mother, Padmāvatī: “O mother, why do you trouble yourself by (using) the herbs everyday? (The span of) life increases due to religious merit, and life becomes short due to sin. (Beings) live or die according to the ripening of their deeds. Painful fetuses depart, while others, that are immature (i.e. not properly developed) die as soon as they are born on the earth. Some others are endowed with youth. All children, old men, young men, being under the sway of vital power, die and (i.e. or) live according to the ripening of their deeds. There is no doubt that medicinal herbs, formulae and deities are only a means.

22-24. You do not know me — what kind of (fetus) I am. Formerly you have seen and heard about the very powerful (demon) Kalanemi, who is a very mighty (demon) among the demons, causing fear to the three worlds. In the great war between gods and demons I was formerly killed by Visnu. To finish enmity with (i.e. to take revenge on him), I have come to your womb. O mother, do not act rashly and do not exert yourself everyday.”

Krsna kills Kamsa

A scene from Srimad Bhagavatam 10.44.37 wherein Lord Kṛṣṇa kills His cruel, demonic, uncle Kaṁsa.

25-3la. O best brāhmana, speaking thus to his mother, he ceased (speaking). His mother then gave up her exertion, (but) became very much afflicted. When ten years had passed, he grew. Then he became very lustrous, and that Kaṁsa became very powerful, who harassed the people, the residents of the three worlds; and who, killed by Vāsudeva, went to (i.e. obtained) salvation. There is no doubt about it. Thus O dear one, I have heard like this. Whatever will happen, will happen. I have told you what has been determined in all the Purānas. The daughter, who lives in her father's house, perishes. O dear one, a daughter should not have longing for staying in her father's house. Abandoning this wicked one, a great sinner, be composed. Great sin and terrible grief would be obtained (by us if we keep her here). O dear one, enjoy with me, that leads to felicity in the world.

The female hog said:

31b-41a. That best brāhmana, hearing these words containing good advice, decided to forsake (his daughter). He then called me. He gave me everything like garments and decorations (and said to me). “O good one, listen. Due to your bad conduct, that best, intelligent brāhmana went (away). O you wicked one, O you of a bad conduct in the family, go there where your husband is. There is no doubt about this (i.e. this cannot be otherwise); (or go to) the place which you like. Do as you are advised. “O you glorious one, after my father had said like this, I, a shameless woman, abandoned by my father, mother and (other) members of the family, quickly went away, O you beautiful lady. O you good lady, I did (i.e. could) not secure a comfortable abode. People reproached me saying, ‘(Oh) this unchaste lady has arrived.’ Void of the pride of my family, and wandering (here and there), I went from (my father's) country, to a holy Siva-temple in Saurastra in the Gurjara-country. It was a city full of prosperity and known as Vanasthala. Listen, O queen, at that time I was very much oppressed by hunger. Taking a potsherd in my hand I started begging. Being extremely afflicted I entered the gates of householders. People saw my form and reproached it. They did not give me alms, (saying) ‘this wicked one has come (here)’. I thus obtained proper food with difficulty, and was entirely oppressed with poverty.

41b-43. While wandering, I saw an excellent house, surrounded by a high rampart, with a chamber for (the recitation) of the Vedas, which was crowded with many brāhmanas; it was full of wealth and grains, and was adorned with male and female servants. I entered that beautiful house, affluent with glory.

44. That house which was auspicious all round was the house of that Sivasarman only. Sudevā, afflicted with grief, said: “(Please) give (me) alms.”

45-47. The best brāhmana, Sivasarman, heard the words: “Give (me) alms”. That righteous-minded, very intelligent Sivasarman, smiled and said to his beautiful wife Mangala by name, who was of the nature of Laksmi: “O dear one, this enfeebled one has come to (our) door for alms. O auspicious and dear one, being full of great pity, call her and give her food. She has come to me after having recognized me.”

48-50. Mangala said to her dear husband: “I shall give her food dear to (i.e. liked by) her.” Speaking like this to her husband Mangala, endowed with auspiciousness, again fed me, the weak one, with sweet food. That righteous-minded, great sage Sivasarman said to me: “Who are you that have come here? To whom do you belong? On what mission do you roam everywhere over the earth. Tell me.”

51-53. Having thus heard the words of my glorious husband, I, the sinner, recognized him by his voice. When I saw my husband, I hung down my face through shame. Mangala, beautiful in all limbs, said to (our) husband: “Tell me who she is, (since) on seeing you she is ashamed. Please favor me and tell me who she might be.”

Chapter 52
Sudevā Goes to Heaven

Sivasarman said:

1. O Mangala, if you are now asking, then listen to (my) words. O you of an excellent face (i.e. O you beautiful one), know that for which you have asked (me).

2-5. O you of charming eyes, this miserable one who has now come in the form of a beggar, is the daughter of the brāhmana Vasudatta. O good one, this one is Sudevā, my wife, always dear to me. Leaving her (father's) country for some reason, she has come (here). O you beautiful one, she is scorched by grief due to me and separation from me. Recognizing me, she has come to you in the form of a beggar. Realizing this, O good one, you, desiring what is very dear to me, should show her good hospitality. There is no doubt about it (i.e. you should certainly show her good hospitality).

The female hog said:

6-14. Mangala, who looked upon her husband as a deity, and who herself was extremely auspicious, was full of great joy on just hearing the words of her husband. O you beautiful one, she made (arrangements for) my bath, clothes and food. O you good one, I, devoted to my husband, was adorned by her, dear to her husband, with golden ornaments decked with jewels. O queen, I was graced by her with respect, bath and food. I was (also) respected by my husband. In my heart there was endless, very poignant grief, fully destroying my life. I observed her respect for me ; in the same way (I noted) my affliction. I had terrible anxiety due to which my life departed (i.e. was about to depart). I, a sinner, committing bad acts never gave a good answer to this best brāhmana. I did not wash his feet, nor did I shampoo his body, nor did I give the glorious one (company) in solitude. How shall I, of a wicked resolution, talk to him? Then at night I fell there into the ocean of grief. When I was thinking like this, my heart burst ; then O beautiful lady, my life, leaving my body, departed.

l5-27a. Then there came brave, fierce messengers of Yama who held maces, discs and swords. O you illustrious one, I was, bound by them with chains binding strongly. I, who was weeping and who was very much afflicted, was taken by them to Yama’s city. Being beaten with mallets I was harassed along the difficult path. Being reproached by them I was ushered into the presence of Yama. The noble and angry Yama looked at me. I was thrown into a heap of ashes; I was thrown into a heap of hells. An iron figure of man was made; it was heated in fire, and it was hurled on my breast for having deceived my husband. I was very much tormented with various troubles; I was burnt with the fire in hell; I was thrown into an oval vessel and on mud and sand. I was cut with blades of swords and dragged by a machine used for raising water [water wheel]. The noble one hurled me on Kutasalmali trees. I fell into pus, blood and feces, full of insects. O princess, the same magnanimous one thus threw me into all poignant hells full of trouble. I was torn up with saw, and was very much struck with darts. O princess, I was also hurled into other hells ; I was thrown into hollows like wombs, and into a painful narrow passage. That lord of Dharma (i.e. Yama) threw me into hells. Reaching (i.e. being born in) the species of goats, I experienced very terrible pain. I went to (i.e. was born in) the species of jackals and again that of a bitch; (then) I was born as a hen, a cat and a rat.

27b-32a. Thus that Yama threw me into different species, and I was troubled in all births. O princes, he himself made (i.e. created) me a female hog on the earth. O you glorious one, there are many kinds of holy places in your hand. O you of an excellent complexion, you yourself sprinkled that (holy) water on me. O queen, O beautiful lady, by your favor, my sin has vanished, O you of an excellent face, by the lustrous religious merit of you only. Knowledge is produced in me. Now emancipate me, who have fallen into the hell-like peril. When (i.e. if) O queen, you do not emancipate me, I shall again go (back) to a terrible hell. O you illustrious one, protect me who am experiencing grief. Due to sinful thoughts I suffered. I am wretched, I am without a shelter.

Sudevā said:

32b-33a. O auspicious one, now tell me what good deed I have done that would give rise to religious merit, by which I would emancipate you.

The female hog said:

33b-39a. This illustrious Iksvaku-king, the son of Manu, the very wise one, is Visnu, and you are Laksmi, not otherwise (i.e. and none else). O you auspicious one, you are devoted to your husband; you are glorious; you are a loyal wife; you are always chaste; you are full of all holy places; you are dear; O queen, you are full of everything and are always full of all gods. You alone are a great loyal wife in the world; you who have day and night rendered service to your husband, are dear to the king. O beautiful one, if you (desire to) do what I like, give me your merit earned by the service to your husband, even for a day. You are my mother, you are my father, you are my eternal preceptor. I am sinful, of wicked acts, given to falsehood and without knowledge. O glorious one, emancipate me. I am afraid of being beaten by Yama.

Sukalā said:

39b-40a. Having heard like this, she saw the king and said to him: “O great king, what do (i.e. should) I do? What does this beast say?”

Iksvaku (king) said:

40b-4la. O auspicious one, with your merit emancipate this one who is unhappy, helpless and gone to (i.e. born in) a sinful species. It will be very righteous.

41b-47. That very charming and auspicious lady Sudevā, when addressed like this, said “O you beautiful lady, I have given you (my) merit for a year.” When the queen uttered these words, just at that moment the hog became endowed with beauty and youth, adorned with a divine garland, got a divine body covered with lustrous flames, was rich with the beauty of all ornaments, and adorned with many jewels. She had a divine form, besmeared with divine sandal. The good one got into a divine airplane, and went into the higher region. She saluting the queen with her neck bowed down (in respect for the queen) then said: “O you magnanimous one, well-being to you O beautiful lady, due to your favor, I, being free from sin, am going to the holiest and auspicious heaven.” O best one, listen, having thus saluted her, Sudevā went to heaven. I have (thus) told you all this as told by Sukalā.

To know the rest of Sukalā’s story.

If you are interested you can read the rest of the narration (chapter 52 onwards) from the Padmā Purana in detail here.


Vyasadeva, Krsna-Dvaipayana. Padma Purana Part 3. Translated by Dr. N.A. Deshpande. New Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 1990.