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...

Various Exploits

By then the cowherds had realized that Krishna was no ordinary man. They were slightly scared, but Krishna comforted them and told them that he was their friend.

One day, an asura known as Arishta arrived there. This asura had the form of a bull. The bull was dark as the clouds. The horns were sharp and pointed and his eyes were bright as the sun. He tore up the ground with his hooves. He was so tall that it was impossible to climb over him. This bull used to kill the calves and the sages.

Everyone was frightened at Arishta’s arrival. But Krishna clapped his hands. On hearing the sound of the clap, Arishta charged at Krishna with horns lowered. Krishna grasped the horns and stopped the bull. Then he hit Arishta with his thighs. Finally, he tore off one of the horns and attacked Arishta with it. The daitya vomited blood and died.

Narada related all of Krishna’s exploits to Kamsa and Kamsa was enraged. He decided that Balarama and Krishna would have to be killed before they became adults. Kamsa had two strong wrestlers known as Chanura and Mushtika. He plotted to have a wrestling match between Balarama and Krishna and these two wrestlers, and thereby kill the two brothers off. The occasion for this wrestling match would be a yajna that Kamsa would arrange. He would therefore send Akrura to Gokula to bring Balarama and Krishna to Mathura. In addition, he would send an asura known as Keshi to try and kill the two brothers in Gokula itself. A strong elephant called Kubalayapida would also be let loose on the brothers.

Keshi adopted the form of a horse and went to Vrindavana. He tore up the earth with his hooves, she shook the clouds with his mane and he attacked the sun and the moon on his way to Vrindavana. The cowherds were naturally frightened.

But Krishna was there to protect them. He inserted his hands into the horse’s mouth and broke off the horse’s teeth. Like white clouds, one by one the teeth fell down on the ground. After that, Krishna tore off the asura’s lips and the asura began to vomit blood. His eyes fell off. Krishna then tore Keshi into two with his hands. Because Krishna killed Keshi, he came to be known as Keshava.

Meanwhile, Akrura arrived in Gokula and told Balarama and Krishna of Kamsa’s invitation. The two brothers accepted the invitation and resolved to go to Mathura. The cowherds were naturally sorry to see Krishna go. They thought that he would never return to Gokula again. In a chariot, Akrura, Balarama and Krishna set out for Mathura.

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