The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 780,972 words | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes Slaying of Asuras Keshin and Vyoma which is chapter 37 of the English translation of the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas containing roughly 18,000 metrical verses. Topics include ancient Indian history, religion, philosophy, geography, mythology, etc. The text has been interpreted by various schools of philosophy. This is the thirty-seventh chapter of the Tenth Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 37 - Slaying of Asuras Keśin and Vyoma

Śrī Śuka said:

1. Demon Keśin who was deputed by Kaṃsa, assumed the form of a gigantic horse with the speed of the mind. Furrowing the earth with his hoofs, overcrowding the sky with clouds and heavenly cars dispersed by the waving of his mane and terrifying all creatures by his neighing he came to Nanda’s Vraja.

1(A).[1] With big eyes, a terribly vast cavern-like mouth, an enormous neck resembling a large dark-blue cloud, the wicked-hearted Keśin, desirous of achieving the desired object of Kaṃsa, rushed to the Vraja of Nanda, making it tremble with fear.

2. Occupying a forward position, the glorious Lord challenged Keśin who was creating a panic among the inhabitants of his Gokula by his neighing and was disturbing the formation of clouds in the sky by his tail and was seeking a fight with him—at which Keśin roared like a lion.

3. Beholding Kṛṣṇa confronting him, that unapproachable formidable beast of terrific speed rushed at him with extreme rage, drinking up the heavens, as it were, with his wide open mouth (and turning round) kicked hard with his hind legs the Lord with lotus-eyes.

4. Dodging the Kick, Kṛṣṇa, the Lord (who is suprasense perception) angrily caught hold of his two hind legs with his hands and whirling him round threw him contemptuously to a distance of hundred bows (cubits), even as Garuḍa would fling (an ordinary) serpent, and stood as before.

5. Regaining his consciousness, Keśin sprang to his feet. Opening his mouth wide in violent wrath, he fiercely attacked Hari. Smiling fearlessly, Hari thrust his left arm into Keśin’s mouth as a serpent enters a hole.

6. When Keśin tried to bite Kṛṣṇa’s arms his teeth dropped down at the touch of the Lord’s arm as if at the touch of red-hot iron. And the Lord’s arm thrust in the interior part of his body went on growing immensely like dropsy, when neglected.

7. With his breath (passage) choked by the (disproportionately) swelling arm of Kṛṣṇa, he kicked up his legs, perspired profusely all over the body, and with its eyes rolling, discharging excretion, he fell down dead on the ground.

8. Extricating his arm from out of the body of Keśī (which was burst open at various places) like a ripe cucumber, the mightly-armed Kṛṣṇa was not even slightly touched with pride, even though he effortlessly killed his enemies, but was glorified in songs and showered over with flowers by the wondering gods.

9. Oh king! Thereafter the divine sage Nārada, the foremost of devotees of the Lord, approached Kṛṣṇa of noble behaviour and conferred with him in privacy as follows:

10. “Oh Kṛṣṇa (the enchanter of the world)! Oh Kṛṣṇa of incomprehensible nature! Oh Lord of yogi! The absolute Ruler of the world! Oh Vāsudeva (the pervader of the universe) and the abode of all! Oh the most prominent among the Sātvatas (the Yāḍava clan)! Oh Almighty Lord![2]

11. Like unto fire lying dormant in fuel, you alone are the Inner Controller of all beings. Remaining unrevealed, you abide in the hearts of every being as a witness to everything. You are the Supreme Person, the Controller of the universe.

12. Depending entirely upon your own Self, You evolved guṇas through your Māyā potency. The Almighty Lord of unfailing will power as you are, you create, protect, and devour (destroy) this universe with those guṇas.

13. Such as you are, you have incarnated yourself on the earth for the annihilation of the daityas (demons), goblins and rākṣasas that have been born as kings and for protecting those who abide by the canons of righteousness (or your votaries.)

14. Fortunately enough this demon Keśin who assumed the form of a horse and terrifically frightened at whose neighing, gods (the eye-lid-less beings) deserted the heaven, has been easily killed by you, as in a sport.

15. Oh Omnipresent Lord I Day after tomorrow, I shall witness Cāṇūra, Muṣṭika and other wrestlers, as also the elephant (Kuvalayāpīḍa) as well as Kaṃsa slain by you in broad day-light.

16. Thereafter I shall see the slaying of the demon Pañcajana (who was a conch-dweller) Kālayavana, Mura and Naraka as well as bringing down (from heaven the celestial tree) Pārijāta after defeating Indra.

17. After that I shall witness your marriages with the daughters of warriors (like Bhīṣmaka, Rukmiṇī’s father) by offering your personal valour as the dowry (i.e. by defeating the opposition) as also the absolvement of Nṛga[3] from sin at Dvārakā.

18. Thereafter I would see the recovery of the jewel Syamantaka and a spouse (Jāmbavatī) along with it and the restoration of his son to a Brāhmaṇa from the abode of Death.

19. (I shall see later) the destruction of Pauṇḍraka,[4] and burning down the city of Kāśī, the death of Dantavaktra and slaying of Śiśupāla, the king of Cedi in the great sacrifice Rājasūya, performed by Yudhiṣṭhira).

20. It will be my privilege to see whatever other heroic deeds your Lordship would perform while dwelling in Dvārakā and they shall be eulogised in songs by poets on the earth.

21. After that I shall see you in the form of Death or time-spirit intent on destroying the whole universe and the annihilation of Akṣauhiṇīs (Divisions) of armies with you in the role of Arjuna’s charioteer.

22. We approach, for protection, the glorious Lord who is entirely constituted of perfectly pure knowledge and has all his purposes accomplished as he is well-established in his own blissful nature; whose will is never futile; and due to whose spiritual refulgence the stream of guṇas originating from Māyā is ever warded off.

23. I lay prostrate before you, the leader of Yadus, Vṛṣṇis and Sātvatas—the leader (yourself) who are the supreme Ruler, and who have brought forth all this varied creation (the phenomenal world of differences) through his own Māyā and have assumed a human form for the sake of sporting.

Śrī Śuka said:

24. In this way, the sage Nārada, the foremost among the votaries who was delighted to see him, paid obeisance to Kṛṣṇa, the Chief Yadus and departed with his permission.

25. And Lord Kṛṣṇa also, having killed Keśin in a fight, tended the cows along with other cowherds who were highly pleased with him for his heroic act and enhanced the joy and happiness of the inhabitants of Vraja.

26. On one occasion, while they were grazing the cattle on the table-land high up on the mountain, the cowherd boys played the game of hide and seek in which some gopas became thieves (or cattle-lifters) and others guards (or policemen).

27. At that time, some played the part of thieves while others became guards, while some others played the role of sheep (to be lifted). In this way they indulged in the game fearlessly, Oh King!

28. Vyoma, the son of the Asura Maya who was a past-master in black magic, assumed the form of a cowherd and playing the role of a cattle-thief carried away a great many cowherd-boys who acted the part of goats.

29. The mighty Asura threw each cowherd-boy so carried in the cave of that mountain, and closed its entrance with a rock. In this way four or five boys remained (outside the cave).

30. Noticing the vile act of that Asura, Kṛṣṇa, the protector of the righteous, forcibly caught hold of him while kidnapping the cowherds, even as a lion would do to a wolf.

31. The mighty demon resumed his original form big like a mountain. Being suffocated with his grip, he wanted to extricate himself but could not do so.

32. Catching hold of him by both his hands, he dashed the Asura to the ground and killed him in the way of sacrificial beasts, while gods were witnessing it from heaven.

33. Having broken open the rock that blocked the entrance to the cave, he brought the cowherds out of that perilous situation. Glorified by gods and cowherds, he returned to his own Gokula.

Footnotes and references:


Not found in the text of Bhāvāratha Dīpikā but recorded in the texts of Bhāgavata Candrikā, Padaratnāvalī, Subodhinī and Siddhāntapradīpa Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava annotators follow Bhāvāratha Dīpikā and do not comment on it.


Bhāvāratha Dīpikā: Nārada glosses over the disclosure about Kṛṣṇa to Kaṃsa by telling Him, “You are the Almighty Lord specially incarnated for relieving the earth of its burden of Daityas. Now You be active, finish with them and protect the Universe.”


Nṛga—A king of Ikṣvāku race, famous for his gifts of cows to Brāhmaṇas. One day, due to oversight and without being aware of it, he gifted a cow which was already given by him to another Brāhmaṇa. For this sin, he was born as a Chameleon but was absolved of all sins at the touch of Kṛṣṇa and went to heaven—vide infra 10.64.10.


Pauṇḍraka: King of ancient Kārūṣa. His name was Vāsudeva. On hearing of Vāsudeva Kṛṣṇa, he sent him a message to surrender all his special royal emblem and worship him. Kṛṣṇa invaded Kārūṣa with a big army and killed Pauṇḍraka Vāsudeva who used to wield artificial Sudarśana discus etc. like Kṛṣṇa Vāsudeva.—vide infra 10.66.7-21

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