The Vishnu Purana (abridged)

27,616 words

The Vishnu Purana (Viṣṇu Purāṇa) is a religious Hindu text and one of the (most important) eighteen Mahapuranas. It is also known as Puranaratna ("gem of Puranas"). Presented as a dialogue between Parashara and his disciple Maitreya, the major topics discussed include creation, stories of battles fought between asuras and devas, the Avat...

Kaliya Humbled

Part of the Yamuna river was known as the spot of Kaliya. Kaliya was huge snake that lived in the water. Because the snake lived at that spot, all the trees along the banks were scorched. And if any birds flew over the area and the spray of the water struck them, the birds immediately died. Krishna realized that his snake was none other than the snake which had been defeated by Garuda in the ocean. It had now fled from the ocean and had made a home in the Yamuna. The result was that no one could drink the water of the Yamuna at the spot.

Krishna resolved to kill the snake. He tied his clothes firmly around his body and jumped into the water from a kadamba tree. As Krishna jumped into the river, the spray struck the trees along the bank and because the spray was poisoned by the poison of the snake, the trees began to burn.

Krishna began to swim in the water. On hearing the sound, Kaliya quickly arrived there. His eyes were red with anger and flames issued out of his mouth. He was surounded on all sides by poisonous snakes and the wives of those snakes also accompanied them. All the snakes coiled round Krishna’s body and began to bite and inject venom into him.

Some cowherds saw Krishna in the water, surrounded by snakes. They rushed back to Vrindavana and told everyone what they had seen. Nanda, Yoshada, Rama and the others all came running to the banks of the river. “Where is Krishna, where is Krishna?”, screamed Yoshada.

They all saw Krishna in the water in the midst of the snakes. The women began to cry. Some of them proposed that they should also kill themselved if Krishna had indeed died. Hearing all this commotion, Balarama indicated to Krishna that it was high time that he killed the snake.

Krishna then shook off the coils of the snake. He lowered Kaliya’s hood and climbed up on the top of the hood. There be began to dance. At this the hood began to bleed. Whenever the snake tried to raise his hood, Krishna stamped down with his feet. The snake became unconscious and began to vomit blood. The head and the neck broke and blood began to issue out of these parts as well.

Kaliya’s wives then prayed to Krishna. They begged for mercy. They asked him to spare Kaliya’s life. Kaliya also started to pray to Krishna. At this, Krishna spared the snake. But the condition was that Kaliya and his servants and relatives would have to leave the waters of the Yamuna and go back to the ocean. Henceforth, the mark of Krishna’s feet would stay on Kaliya’s hood. And seeing this mark Garuda would not pester Kaliya any more.

The waters of the Yamuna were purified.

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