The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, , at sacred-texts.com
Krishńa and Balaráma meet Kubjá; she is made straight by the former: they proceed to the palace. Krishńa breaks a bow intended for a trial of arms. Kansa's orders to his servants. Public games. Krishńa and his brother enter the arena: the former wrestles with Cháńúra, the latter with Musht́ika, the king's wrestlers; who are both killed. Krishńa attacks and slays Kansa: he and Balaráma do homage to Vasudeva and Devakí: the former praises Krishńa.
As they proceeded along the high road, they saw coming towards them a young girl, who was crooked, carrying a pot of unguent. Krishńa addressed her sportively, and said, "For whom are you carrying that unguent? tell me, lovely maiden; tell me truly." Spoken to as it were through affection, Kubjá, well disposed towards Hari, replied to him also mirthfully, being smitten by his appearance; "Know you not, beloved, that I am the servant of Kansa, and appointed, crooked as I am, to prepare his perfumes. Unguent ground by any other he does not approve of: hence I am enriched through his liberal rewards." Then said Krishńa, "Fair-faced damsel, give us of this unguent, fragrant and fit for kings, as much as we may rub upon our bodies." "Take it," answered Kubjá.; and she gave them as much of the unguent as was sufficient for their persons; and they rubbed it on various parts of their faces and bodies 1, till they looked like two clouds, one white and one black, decorated by the many-tinted bow of Indra. Then Krishńa, skilled in the curative art, took hold of her, under the chin, with the thumb and two fingers, and lifted up her head, whilst with his feet he pressed down her feet; and in this way he made her straight. When she was thus relieved from her deformity, she was a most beautiful woman; and, filled with gratitude and affection, she took Govinda by the garment, and invited him to her house. Promising to come at some
other time, Krishńa smilingly dismissed her, and then laughed aloud on beholding the countenance of Baladeva 2.
Dressed in blue and yellow garments, and anointed with fragrant unguents, Keśava and Ráma proceeded to the hall of arms, which was hung round with garlands. Inquiring of the warders which bow he was to try, and being directed to it, he took it, and bent it; but drawing it with violence, he snapped it in two 3, and all Mathurá resounded with the noise which its fracture occasioned. Abused by the warders for breaking the bow, Krishńa and Ráma retorted, and defied them, and left the hall.
When Kansa knew that Akrúra had returned, and heard that the bow had been broken, he thus said to Cháńúra and Musht́ika, his boxers: "Two youths, cowherd boys, have arrived; you must kill them both, in a trial of strength, in my presence; for they practise against my life. I shall be well pleased if you kill them in the match, and will give you whatever you wish; not else. These two foes of mine must be killed by you fairly or unfairly. The kingdom shall be ours in common, when they have perished." Having given them these orders, he sent next for his elephant driver, and desired him to station his great elephant Kuvalayápíd́a, who was as vast as a cloud charged with rain, near the gate of the arena, and drive him upon the two boys when they should attempt to enter. When Kansa had issued these commands, and ascertained that the platforms were all ready for the spectators, he awaited the rising of the sun, unconscious of impending death.
In the morning the citizens assembled on the platforms set apart for them, and the princes, with the ministers and courtiers, occupied the royal seats. Near the centre of the circle judges of the games were stationed by Kansa, whilst he himself sat apart close by upon a lofty throne. Separate platforms were erected for the ladies of the palace, for the courtesans, and for the wives of the citizens 4. Nanda and the
cowherds had places appropriated to them, at the end of which sat Akrúra and Vasudeva. Amongst the wives of the citizens appeared
[paragraph continues] Devakí, mourning for her son, whose lovely face she longed to behold even in the hour of his destruction. When the musical instruments
sounded, Cháńúra sprang forth, and the people cried, "Alas!" and Musht́ika slapped his arms in defiance. Covered with must and blood
from the elephant, whom, when goaded upon them by his driver, they had slain, and armed with his tusks, Balabhadra and Janárddana confidently entered the arena, like two lions amidst a herd of deer. Exclamations of pity arose from all the spectators, along with expressions of astonishment. "This then," said the people, "is Krishńa! this is Balabhadra! This is he by whom the fierce night-walker Pútaná was slain; by whom the waggon was overturned, and the two Arjuna trees
felled! This is the boy who trampled and danced on the serpent Kálíya; who upheld the mountain Govarddhana for seven nights; who killed, as if in play, the iniquitous Arisht́a, Dhenuka, and Keśin! This whom we see is Achyuta! This is he who has been foretold by the wise, skilled in the sense of the Puráńas, as Gopála, who shall exalt the depressed Yádava race! This is a portion of the all-existing, all-generating Vishńu, descended upon earth, who will assuredly lighten her load!" Thus did the citizens describe Ráma and Krishńa, as soon as they appeared; whilst the breast of Devakí glowed with maternal affection; and Vasudeva, forgetting his infirmities, felt himself young again, on beholding the countenances of his sons as a season of rejoicing. The women of the palace, and the wives of the citizens, wide opened their eyes, and gazed intently upon Krishńa. "Look, friends," said they to their companions; "look at the face of Krishńa; his eyes are reddened by his conflict with the elephant, and the drops of perspiration stand upon his cheeks, outvieing a full blown lotus in autumn, studded with glittering dew. Avail yourself now of the faculty of vision. Observe his breast, the seat of splendour, marked with the mystic sign; and his arms, menacing destruction to his foes. Do you not notice Balabhadra, dressed in a blue garment; his countenance as fair as the jasmine, as the moon, as the fibres of the lotus stem? See how he gently smiles at the gestures of Musht́ika and Cháńúra, as they spring up. And now behold Hari advance to encounter Cháńúra. What! are there no elders, judges of the field? How can the delicate form of Hari, only yet in the dawn of adolescence, be regarded as a match for the vast and adamantine bulk of the great demon? Two youths, of light and elegant persons, are in the arena, to oppose athletic fiends, headed by the cruel Cháńúra. This is a great sin in the judges of the games, for the umpires to suffer a contest between boys and strong men."
As thus the women of the city conversed with one another, Hari, having tightened his girdle, danced in the ring, shaking the ground on which he trod. Balabhadra also danced, slapping his arms in defiance. Where the ground was firm, the invincible Krishńa contended foot to foot with Cháńúra. The practised demon Musht́ika was opposed by
[paragraph continues] Balabhadra. Mutually entwining, and pushing, and pulling, and beating each other with fists, arms, and elbows, pressing each other with their knees, interlacing their arms, kicking with their feet, pressing with their whole weight upon one another 5, fought Hari and Cháńúra. Desperate was the struggle, though without weapons, and one for life and death, to the great gratification of the spectators. In proportion as the contest continued, so Cháńúra was gradually losing something of his original vigour, and the wreath upon his head trembled from his fury and distress 6; whilst the world-comprehending Krishńa wrestled with him as if but in sport. Beholding Cháńúra losing, and Krishńa gaining strength, Kansa, furious with rage, commanded the music to cease. As soon as the drums and trumpets were silenced, a numerous band of heavenly instruments was heard in the sky, and the gods invisibly exclaimed, "Victory to Govinda! Keśava, kill the demon Cháńúra!" Madhusúdana having for a long time dallied with his adversary, at last lifted him up, and whirled him round, with the intention of putting an end to him. Having whirled Cháńúra round a hundred times, until his breath was expended in the air, Krishńa dashed him on the ground with such violence as to smash his body into a hundred fragments, and strew the earth with a hundred pools of gory mire. Whilst this took place, the mighty Baladeva was engaged in the same manner with the demon bruiser Musht́ika. Striking him on the head with his fists, and on the
breast with his knees, he stretched him on the ground, and pummelled him there till he was dead. Again, Krishńa encountered the royal bruiser Tomalaka, and felled him to the earth with a blow of his left hand. When the other athletæ saw Cháńúra, Musht́ika, and Tomalaka killed, they fled from the field; and Krishńa and Sankarshańa danced victorious on the arena, dragging along with them by force the cowherds of their own age. Kansa, his eyes reddening with wrath, called aloud to the surrounding people, "Drive those two cow-boys out of the assembly: seize the villain Nanda, and secure him with chains of iron: put Vasudeva to death with tortures intolerable to his years: and lay hands upon the cattle, and whatever else belongs to those cowherds who are the associates of Krishńa."
Upon hearing these orders, the destroyer of Madhu laughed at Kansa, and, springing up to the place where he was seated, laid hold of him by the hair of his head, and struck his tiara to the ground: then casting him down upon the earth, Govinda threw himself upon him. Crushed by the weight of the upholder of the universe, the son of Ugrasena, Kansa the king, gave up the ghost. Krishńa then dragged the dead body, by the hair of the head, into the centre of the arena, and a deep furrow was made by the vast and heavy carcass of Kansa, when it was dragged along the ground by Krishńa, as if a torrent of water had run through it 7. Seeing Kansa thus treated, his brother Sumálin came to his succour; but he was encountered, and easily killed, by Balabhadra. Then arose a general cry of grief from the surrounding circle, as they beheld the king of Mathurá thus slain, and treated with such contumely, by Krishńa. Krishńa, accompanied by Balabhadra, embraced the feet of Vasudeva and of Devakí; but Vasudeva raised him up; and he and Devakí recalling to recollection what he had said to them at his birth, they bowed to Janárddana, and the former thus addressed him: "Have compassion upon mortals, O god, benefactor and lord of deities: it is by thy favour to us two that thou hast become the (present) upholder of the
world. That, for the punishment of the rebellious, thou hast descended upon earth in my house, having been propitiated by my prayers, sanctifies our race. Thou art the heart of all creatures; thou abidest in all creatures; and all that has been, or will be, emanates from thee, O universal spirit! Thou, Achyuta, who comprehendest all the gods, art eternally worshipped with sacrifices: thou art sacrifice itself, and the offerer of sacrifices. The affection that inspires my heart and the heart of Devakí towards thee, as if thou wast our child, is indeed but error, and a great delusion. How shall the tongue of a mortal such as I am call the creator of all things, who is without beginning or end, son? Is it consistent that the lord of the world, from whom the world proceeds, should be born of me, except through illusion? How should he, in whom all fixed and moveable things are contained, be conceived in the womb and born of a mortal being? Have compassion therefore indeed, O supreme lord, and in thy descended portions protect the universe. Thou art no son of mine. This whole world, from Brahmá to a tree, thou art. Wherefore dost thou, who art one with the supreme, beguile us? Blinded by delusion, I thought thee my son; and for thee, who art beyond all fear, I dreaded the anger of Kansa, and therefore did I take thee in my terror to Gokula, where thou hast grown up; but I no longer claim thee as mine own. Thou, Vishńu, the sovereign lord of all, whose actions Rudra, the Maruts, the Aświns, Indra, and the gods, cannot equal, although they behold them; thou who hast come amongst us for the benefit of the world, art recognised, and delusion is no more."
550:1 They had their bodies smeared in the style called Bhaktichheda; that is, with the separating or distinguishing (chheda) marks of Vaishńava devotion (bhakti): certain streaks on the forehead, nose, cheeks, breast, and arms, which denote a follower of Vishńu. See As. Res. XVI. 33.
551:2 The story is similarly told in the Bhágavata, &c.
551:3 The bending or breaking of a bow is a favourite incident in Hindu heroic poetry, borrowed, no doubt, from the Rámáyańa, where, however, it has an object; here it is quite gratuitous.
551:4 The Bhágavata enters into even fewer p. 552 particulars than our text of the place set apart for the games. The Hari Vanśa gives a much more detailed description, which is in some respects curious. The want of any technical glossary, and the general manner in which technical terms are explained in the ordinary dictionaries, render it difficult to understand exactly what is intended, and any translation of the passages must be defective. The French version, however, probably represents a much more splendid and theatrical scene than the text authorizes, and may therefore admit of correction. The general plan is nothing more than an enclosed space, surrounded by temporary structures of timber or bambus, open or enclosed, and decorated with hangings and garlands. It may be doubted if the details described by the compiler of the Hari Vanśa were very familiar even to him; for his description is not always very consistent or precise. Of two commentators, one evidently knows nothing of what he attempts to explain; but with the assistance of the other the passages may be thus, though not always confidently, rendered:--
"The king, Kansa, meditating on these things, went forth from his palace to the place which had been prepared for the sight of the ceremonial (1), to inspect the scaffolds (2) which had been constructed. He found the place close set with the several platforms (3) of the different public bodies (4), strongly put together, and decorated with roofed pavilions of various sizes, supported by columns, and divided into commodious chambers (5). The edifice was extensive, well arranged, secured by strong rafters (6), spacious and lofty, and commodious and secure. Stairs led to the different galleries (7). Chairs of state (8) were placed in various parts of it. The avenues that conducted to it were narrow (9). It was covered with temporary stages and sheds (10), and was capable of sustaining the weight of a multitude.
"Having seen the place of the festival thus adorned, Kansa gave orders, and said, 'To-morrow let the platforms and terraces and pavilions (11) be decorated with pictures and garlands and flags and images (12), and let them be scented with fragrant odours, and covered over with awnings (13). Let there be ample heaps of dry, pounded cow-dung (14) provided on the ground, and suitable refreshment chambers be covered over, and decorated with bells and ornamented arches (15). Let large water jars be securely fixed in order, capable of holding a copious supply, and provided with golden drinking-cups. Let apartments be prepared (16), and various kinds of beverage, in appropriate vessels, be ready. Let judges of the games be invited, and corporations with their chiefs. Let orders be issued to the wrestlers, and notice be given to the spectators; and let platforms for their accommodation be fitted up in the place of assembly.'" (17)
When the meeting takes place, the site of the games is thus described: "Upon the following day the amphitheatre (18) was filled by the citizens, anxious to behold the games. The place of assembly (19) was supported by octagonal painted pillars (20), p. 553 fitted up with terraces and doors and bolts, with windows circular or crescent; shaped, and accommodated with seats with cushions (21), and it shone like the ocean whilst large clouds hang upon it, with spacious, substantial pavilions (22), fitted up for the sight of the combat; open to the front (23), but screened with beautiful and fine curtains (24), crowned with festoons of flowers, and glistening with radiance like autumnal clouds. The pavilions of the different companies and corporations, vast as mountains, were decorated with banners, bearing upon them the implements and emblems of the several crafts (25). The chambers of the inhabitants of the inner apartments shone near at hand, bright with gold and painting and net-work of gems: they were richly decorated with precious stones, were enclosed below with costly hangings, and ornamented above with spires and banners, and looked like mountains spreading their wings in the sky; while the rays of light reflected from the valuable jewels were blended with the waving of white chowries, and the musical tinkling of female ornaments. The separate pavilions of the courtesans were graced by lovely women, attired in the most splendid dresses (27), and emulated the radiance of the cars of the gods. In the place of assembly there were excellent seats, couches made of gold, and hangings of various colours, intermixed with bunches of flowers: and there were golden vases of water, and handsome places for refreshment, filled with fruits of various kinds, and cooling juices, and sherbets fit for drinking (28). And there were many other stages and platforms, constructed of strong timber, and hangings by hundreds and thousands were displayed: and upon the tops of the houses, chambers fitted up with delicate jalousies, through which the women might behold the sports, appeared like swans flying through the air.
"In front stood the pavilion of Kansa, surpassing all the rest in splendour, looking like mount Meru in radiance; its sides, its columns, being covered with burnished gold; fastened with coloured cords; and every way worthy the presence of a king."
In justification of the rendering of the above, an explanation of the technical terms, taken either from dictionaries or from the commentators, may be subjoined. (1) Kansa went to the Prekshágára, literally 'house of seeing;' but it is evident, from its interior being visible to spectators on the tops of the houses, as subsequently mentioned, that it was not a theatre, or covered edifice. If a building at all, it was merely a sort of stockade. One commentator calls it, 'a place made for seeing the sacrifice;' (2) Manchánám avalokaka. The Manchá is commonly understood to signify a raised platform, with a floor and a roof, ascended by a ladder: see Dictionary. (3) Mancha-vát́a. Vát́a is either 'site' or 'inclosure,' and is used here without much affecting the sense of Mancha. The compound is explained by the commentators, 'prepared places', or 'the sites of the platforms'. (4) The Śreńíś, associations p. 554 of artificers practising the same art. One of the commentaries understands the term to be here used to denote, not their station, but their labours: 'The structure was the work of the artificers.' (5) Several words occur here of technical import. The passage is, ###. Valabhi is said by the commentator to mean a structure with a pent roof, supported by six columns. Kut́í, a circular one, having seven roofs--something perhaps like a Chinese pagoda--and four columns. The Eka-stambha is a chamber, supported by one column. (6) Sáraniryyúham. It is difficult to understand the necessity of rafters in an inclosure in which the platforms and stages seem to have been erected independently of any floor or wall: but the commentary explains Niryyúha, 'strong brackets, projecting from a house:' (7) Aslisht́a sushsht́a manchárohanam. The first epithet is explained, 'not contracted'; the second, 'well constructed'; and for the 'ascending' (Árohanam) we have 'where was a line of steps' or 'ladders' There is another reading of the text, however, which may be rendered, 'Having steps well secured in their ascent above'. (8) 'Seats for kings'. (9) Such is the literal purport of Sanchára-patha-sankulam; implying, possibly, the formation of passages by fences on either side. (10) This is doubtful: the phrase is Chhannam-tad-vedikábhi. Chhannam means, literally, 'covered,' and can scarcely be used in the sense of 'overspread or filled with.' Vediká means an elevated floor or terrace, with which a hall or edifice cannot well be 'covered;' and therefore requires the sense here given to Chhanna. The commentators are silent. (11) The Manchavát́as and Valabhis, as above: the other term is Víthi, 'a shop,' 'a stall,' 'a terrace,' 'a road.' (12) Let them be Vapushmanta; 'having painted or sculptured figures'. The other commentary renders it merely 'pleasant' or 'agreeable'. (13) 'Covered above with cloths'. The use of the awning or Semiana is very common in India. (14) For the wrestlers to rub over their bodies to absorb the perspiration (15) This is all rather questionable: the passage is most usually, ###. Vali or Bali in one sense means 'the edge of a thatch,' and may be put for some sort of temporary structure, a kind of retiring or refreshment room for the boxers and wrestlers. In some copies it is read, 'beautiful with cloths spread,' on which the performers may sit when disengaged; perhaps a sort of carpet on the ground. (16) The expression is again Vali. Another sense of the word is, offering of viands, or of the remains of a sacrifice, to all beings; but that cannot be its purport here; nor is it ever used in the sense of viands in general. The verb Kalpa or Klrip also usually p. 555 implies 'making.' (17) Manchavát́a; 'in the Samája,' or 'assembly.' (18) Maháranga, 'the great place of the performance.' Ranga is 'acting' or 'representation;' also the place or site of it. (19) All the copies consulted, except one, offer an irregularity of construction, which, although defended by the commentators, is a license scarcely allowable. The epithets of the first verse are all in the plural number; they then occur in the singular, to agree with the only substantive in the description, Samájavát́a. According to the commentaries, the plural term Manchás understood is the substantive to the epithets of the first stanza, and Samájavát́a the singular to those of the other verses. This awkwardness is however avoided by the reading of an old and very good copy, which puts it all in the singular; as ### (20) The expression is Charańa, literally 'foot;' explained by the commentator, Stambha, 'post' or 'pillar' (21) The reading of most of the copies is Śayanottama, which may be taken as the sense of Talottama, 'couches or benches with cushions.' (22) Manchágárais, 'temporary houses.' (21) Or 'fronting to the east'. (24) Nirmuktais: explained by the commentator to mean 'fine threads,' 'network,' or 'gauze,' through which persons, females especially, may see without being seen. (25) ### (26) 'With ridges and projections'. The commentator explains this, 'with flags on the top of them.' (27) This appears to be intended for an epithet of the women, although Ástarańa is not usually applied to dress. (28) Phala, of course, is 'fruit.' Avadanśa is explained in lexicons, what is eaten to excite thirst:' one comment gives it, what may be sucked,' as tamarinds, and the like. Chángeri is explained, 'fluids for drinking, made with sorrel, or acid fruits;' that is, sherbets. (29) ### is an epithet of the Prekshágára, or look-out house of the women, situated on the tops of their houses, according to the commentators; an arrangement very compatible with the form of Indian houses, which have flat roofs, commonly enclosed by a trellis work, or jalousie of masonry. It is observable, that in the Vishńu Puráńa, and in the Mahábhárata, on various public occasions, the women take their places on the platforms, or in the pavilions, without curtains or screens.
557:5 The terms here used are technical, and refer to the established modes of wrestling amongst Hindu athletæ. 1. Sannipáta is described 'mutual laying hold of.' 2. Avadúta, 'letting go of the adversary.' g. Kshepańa, 'pulling to, and casting back.' 4. Musht́inipáta, 'striking with fists.' 5. Kílanipáta, 'striking with the elbow.' 6. Vajranipáta, 'striking with the fore-arm.' 7. Jánunirgháta, 'pressing or striking with the knees.' 8. Báhuvighat́t́ana, 'interlacing the arms.' 9. Pádoddhúta, kicking.' 10. Prasrisht́á, 'intertwining of the whole body.' In some copies another term occurs, Aśmanirgháta, 'striking with stones,' or 'striking blows as hard as with stones;' for stones could scarcely be used in a contest specified as 'one without weapons'
557:6 Krishńa contended with Cháńúra, 'who through distress and anger shook the flowers of his crest;' The two last terms are explained, the flower of the wreath on his head.'
558:7 Et latus mediam sulcus diducit arenam.
'The yielding sand being furrowed into a ditch or a water-course, by the dead bodies being dragged over it. The text is, ###.