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Vasudeva and Devaki traveling in a carriage
|Consort||two daughters of Jarasandha|
|Dynasty||Surasena or Yadu|
In Hinduism, Kaṁsa' (Sanskrit: कंस), often known as Kansa, is the brother of Devaki, and the tyrant ruler of the Vrishni kingdom with its capital at Mathura. He is described as human in early sources and an asura (demon) in the Puranas.
His father was King Ugrasena and mother was Queen Padmavati. However, out of ambition and upon the advice of his personal confidante, Banasura, Kamsa decided to overthrow his father and install himself as the King of Mathura. Therefore, upon the guidance of another advisor, Chanur, Kamsa decided to marry the two daughters of Jarasandha, King of Magadha, who was, in turn, a friend of Banasura. Their names were Asti and Prapti.
In reality, Kamsa was not the biological son of Ugrasena. The Brhad Bhagavatamrta references the Sṛṣṭi-khaṇḍa (48–51) of the Padma Purana describing that after Padmavati's marriage with Ugrasena she stayed a short time in the house of her father, King Satyaketu. At that time a demonic messenger of Kuvera’s named Drumila (or Gobhila) became attracted to her, and by disguising himself as Ugrasena he seduced her. The child born from this illicit connection was Kaṁsa. In fact, Kamsa in his previous birth was a demon called Kalanemi,who was slain by Lord Vishnu.
Annexation of kingdom
During his wedding in Mathura, Jarasandha brought over his army to escort the Princesses Asti and Prapti. Using the army of Magadha as his political cover, Kamsa overthrew his father after he refused to voluntarily retire from his position. This was done within the confines of the royal palace and the public was not informed. After Ugrasena failed to show up for public events, Kamsa announced his coronation.
His Warning Issued By Yogmaya
Kamsa was told, in a prophecy, that the eighth child of Devaki, shall kill him. Hearing it, he wanted to kill Devaki, but Vasudev manages to save her life by promising Kamsa that he (Vasudev) himself shall give Devki's all children to Kamsa. Vasudev was such a great Gentleman that even Kamsa believed him and spared Devki because she herself is not a threat to him. In the confines of prison, Devaki repeatedly conceived and cruel Kamsa murdered the first six children. Just before the birth of seventh child, Lord Vishnu summoned Goddess Yogmaya, an eight-handed woman holding different weapons in her hands and wearing different colored garments. Shri Hari or bhagwan Vishnu asked her to transfer the embryo of Shesh Naag from Devaki to Vasudeva's another wife Rohini in Gokul. This child was named Balram, Shri Krishna's elder brother. Whereas, The Lord shri Hari-Vishnu Himself, was soon to appear as the eighth son of Devaki, ordered Yogamaya (who, shall be known with different names by her devotees such as Durga, Bhadrakali, Narayani, Chandika, Vaishnavi, Sharda, Ishaani, Vijaya, Chin Bhavani, Amba and Ambika) to take birth from the womb of Ma Yashoda. As according to Shri Hari-Vishnu's orders, Yogmaya transferred Shesha from the womb of Devaki to the womb of Rohini. Facilitating God Vishnu's descent or avatar, Yogmaya (as the controller of the darkness and ignorance) had put the guards of Kamsa to sleep or a state of trance. At this time, Vasudev, on obeying Shri Hari's order took BalKrishna to Nand Yashoda's house, bringing back Baby girl, Durga, who is incarnation of Yogmaya. Presuming this baby as Devki's eighth child, Kansa was about to kill her by crashing her down on the ground but the girl slipped out of his hands. Taking her cosmic form, eight handed Durga warned Kansa "The Eighth child who shall kill you, has been born. He is in Gokul!"
The seventh child, Balarama, was saved when he was moved to Rohini's womb. The eighth child born to Devaki and Vasudeva was Krishna. Krishna was saved from Kamsa's wrath and raised by a cowherd couple, Nanda and Yasoda.
After Krishna grew up and returned to the kingdom, Kamsa was eventually killed by Krishna, as was originally predicted by the divine prophecy, and Ugrasena reinstated as King of Mathura.
In his documentary "The Story of India", (a BBC production) Michael Woods tried to show a link between Kamsa and Kanishka. Kanishka was a ruler who ruled with Mathura as its capital. Although this is quite controversial and ungrounded. Mahabharata even though exists as a legend is nowhere near the period of Kanishka. Kanishka was a Buddhist and according to Hinduism, Buddha was born after Krishna.
- George M. Williams (27 March 2008). Handbook of Hindu Mythology. Oxford University Press. p. 178. ISBN 978-0-19-533261-2.
- John Stratton Hawley; Donna Marie Wulff (1982). The Divine Consort: Rādhā and the Goddesses of India. Motilal Banarsidass Publishe. p. 374. ISBN 978-0-89581-102-8.
- Aiyangar Narayan (1901). Essays On Indo-Aryan Mythology-Vol.. Asian Educational Services. p. 503. ISBN 978-81-206-0140-6.
- Bṛhat Bhāgavatamṛta 1.6.8 (ISBN 0-89213-345-7)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kamsa.|
- Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1) by Anna Dhallapiccola