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mountain Govudun with his little finger, to protect his worshippers on the occasion just mentioned.
In this incarnation, Vishnu is said to have appeared in all the splendour of his godhead, accompanied by the other deities; whereas in his preceding avatars he conveyed with him only a portion of his divine nature. But in this, as in his former descents on the earth, the object of his appearance has been the destruction of giants, and the overthrow of oppressive and irreligious kings. The Brahmans affirm of this avatar, that “ though all the seas were ink, and the whole earth paper, and all the inhabitants did nothing but write night and day for the space of a hundred thousand years, it would be impossible for them to describe all the wonders which Krishna wrought on earth in the time of his hundred years' reign; and they believe that all those who shall write respecting his history, read the same, or hear it read, shall merit very much; and if they read it with devotion, shall not be transmigrated into another body, but enter into heaven and live for ever." Upon the shewing in the first lines of the above sentence, I give up, in utter despair, any adequate description of this extraordinary immortal : but as I am desirous that both the reader and myself should benefit, in some degree, from a portion of the belief of the Hindus which follows (whatever may attach to us under the concluding part), I shall hope it will appear that we merit something of the very much which is promised.
Krishna was born in Mathura, and was the son of Vasudeva and Devaki, sister to Cansa, the king of that country. At the time of the nuptials of his father and mother, it was predicted to Cansa that the eighth child of Devaki would deprive him of his life and crown, and become the sovereign of Mathura in his stead. The king, in consequence, commanded that Devaki should be closely confined, and that whenever she was delivered of a child, it should be brought to him immediately to be put to death. The princess gave birth to five sons and one daughter, who were thus, by the directions of her brother, destroyed as soon as they were born. When she became pregnant the seventh time, a voice from heaven commanded that the fire of her womb should be conveyed into that of another female named Rohini, who gave birth to the third Rama, called Bala Rama, Krishna's
elder brother; and when the period of her delivery the eighth time arrived, the tyrant gave orders for a stricter watch to be placed over her than had been before observed. When her time had expired, the room became suddenly illumined, and she was, without pain, delivered of a beautiful child, who having been endowed by Mahadeo with the gift of speech, immediately addressed her (as she was sorrowfully lamenting that she should in a short time be so cruelly deprived of him), and assured her that she need not grieve, for he would escape from his uncle's power, and also soon deliver her from imprisonment; then turning to his father, he desired him to carry him to the house of a pious man, Nanda, at Gokal, and exchange him for Nanda's daughter, of whom his wife Yasuda had been just delivered. Like a good father, Vasudeva did as his wonderful son desired, the prison doors flying open, the guards falling asleep, and the river suspending its course to admit of an easy execution. When he returned with the daughter of Nanda, she, as female infants usually do, began to kick up a terrible dust at being disturbed from her sleep, and put the whole palace in an uproar. Cansa immediately ran in haste to his sister's apartment, and seizing the child, was about to dash her to pieces, when she slipped out of his hands, and placing her own upon her hips, and raising herself on tip-toe, she thus, like a precocious Thalestris, addressed him : “ How dare you, audacious wretch, seek to put me to death? Know monster! that I am not the right party, and that he who shall dethrone you, and deprive you of your life, lives in safety at Gokal.” Having thus spoken, or rather thus declaimed, she bounced into the air, where Mahadeo transformed her into, what so fiery a young lady* was most fit for, lightning; which, if we may credit Vyasa, was never seen nor heard of before that time: a fact well worthy the notice of the natural philosophers of intellectual ages, some of whom, years gone by, have attributed it to different causes, little dreaming that the etherial fire about which they had perplexed their brains so much, was caught from a spark of the same lovely portion of creation which kindles that holy flame upon earth, without which man would be nothing.
* She is described as a form of Parvati, as Durga.
If the lofty and amazonian character of this patriarchal maid of Gokal should (as it no doubt must do) prove an incitement to the nobler energies of her beauteous sex, how much ought the naturally felicitous manner with which she managed to preserve the momentous secret of the existence and abode of Krishna, to excite our admiration of her prudence and circumspection ; and how much might we not have expected that her philippic would have caused Cansa to stand rebuked, and to have desisted from his iniquitous cruelties. But these expectations, like the bright but fleeting visions of youth, fade before the wisdom of experience; and we find the tyrant, so far from feeling compunction, adopting further measures to effect his flagitious purposes. He accordingly employed the giantess Pootena, whom some describe as his eldest sister, and others as a nurse, to proceed in the disguise of an interesting woman to Gokal, and endeavour to find means to get Krishna to suck her breasts, which she had previously rubbed with a deadly juice. She succeeded in placing one of her nipples in his mouth, when, protected by the power of Mahadeo from poison, he drew it with such force, that he not only sucked her milk, but also the blood from her veins, and she fell dead at his feet. In falling, her disguise vanished, and she resumed her natural form, which, as may be readily imagined, could have been of no common size, when it is affirmed that it covered a space of twelve square miles, and convulsed the wide expanse of heaven and earth so much as it fell, that the affrighted shepherds of Gokal imagined the Kalki avatar had prematurely arrived, and that the dissolution of nature was taking place.
Cansa lost no time in resorting to other stratagems to effect the destruction of the infant, who, either by his incarnate knowledge or Herculean strength, rendered them all abortive. His next feat was to crush the bones of the giant Seedhu, who sought to kill him and his brother. He then slew Ternaveret, who having first raised a tempest to darken the earth, seized Krishna while sleeping in his cradle, and carried him aloft in the air: but the giant soon came tumbling down with a noise, like the fall of Pootena. One day he happened, in a sleepy fit, to gape, and his nurse taking that opportunity to look in his mouth beheld what astonished her more than if
she had unexpectedly seen so near to her the teeth of a monstrous and voracious shark, being nothing less than the three worlds, with Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva sitting in all their glory on their heavenly thrones. At another time he thought proper to get into a precious passion, because, when he awoke, his nurse was out of the way, and his breakfast not ready in exact time; so he began kicking about him most violently, and in a few minutes dashed into fragments an enormous patriarchal chariot, which happened incautiously to have been left near him. He afterwards killed the large serpent Kali-naga, which poisoned the waters of the river Jumna. He destroyed the giant Shishoo-palu; also another giant, in the shape of an immense bird, which sought to peck out the eyes of himself and his brother; and another, in the shape of a wild ass. He burnt the entrails of Peck Assoor, who had swallowed him in the shape of an alligator ; and choked Aghi Assoor, who had made a similar meal of him in the shape of a dragon. He extinguished a destructive fire which had been kindled to exterminate the Gopas and Gopias. Although living among cow-herds, he became intuitively the greatest scholar in the world, and learnt to walk by taking hold of a calf's tail. He then broke the tremendous bow Danook, and overcame the celebrated wrestler Chandoor. These are a few of the acts which illustrate the life of this redoubtable deity: but he intermediately performed an infinite variety of others equally notable, which are not in our times of such frequent occurrence; and finally destroyed Cansa and took possession of his throne. But as I have largely, though not wholly, performed my promise to my reader, and must entertain some respect towards his time and patience, I shall leave the remainder of his numerous martial deeds to be related by the more elaborate historians of his life.
I therefore close my relation of his feats of arms; but it must not be supposed that the hero of so many far-famed actions can be yet finally dismissed from our consideration. Love and glory, it has been asserted, usually go hand in hand; and it will not be a matter of surprise that we find the invincible conqueror of so many giants and assoors a second Juan among the Gopias. Hitherto my course, as an historian of his renown, has been so smooth and easy that scarce a ripple has disturbed the