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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 would kill him. A loving brother, he didn't want to kill Devaki, and so instead imprisoned both Devaki and her husband, Vasudeva. In the confines of the prison, Devaki repeatedly conceived, and an enraged Kamsa murdered the first six children. now for the birth of the seventh child of Devaki, Lord Vishnu had called upon Goddess Yogmaya, an eight-handed woman holding different weapons in her hands and wearing different colored garments. Yogmaya asked for Vishnu's orders, Vishnu asked her to transfer the embryo of Shesh Naag from Devaki to Vasudeva's another wife Rohini in Gokul. This child is to be the child named Balram. He tells her that he will manifest as Lord Krishna in Gokul as Kansa's killed. And also take birth in the jail of Mathura as Devaki's eighth child. As he tells her that if Kansa tries to kill the eighth child, she will reveal her violent form and will tell Kansa that the child who has taken birth in the city of Gokul is safe in the house of Nanda and Yashoda, after that, she will take different forms and will be called different names by devotees such as Durga, Bhadrakali, Narayani, Chandika, Vaishnavi, Sharda, Ishaani, Vijaya, Chin Bhavani, Amba and Ambika. On the following of the Lord's orders, Yogmaya had transferred Shesha from the womb of Devaki to the womb of Rohini, facilitating the descent of the Lord (as Krishna). The same Yogmaya then manifested bearing the name Durga (as the baby of Yashoda) when Lord Krishna had incarnated as the son of Devaki. The Yogmaya (as the controller of the darkness and ignorance) had put the guards of Kamsa to sleep or a state of trance (when Vasudev manifested as Balakrishna in Kamsa’s prison) to facilitate the safe passage of Vasudev (carrying Bala Krishna) towards the Nandavraj! She (Durga in the baby form) was brought (from Nandavraj) to Devaki. She (Durga in the baby form) was brought (from Nandavraj) to Devaki by Vasudev, replacing Krishna. Presuming her to be the eighth child of Devaki as a girl, Devaki asked him not to kill her baby. Kansa did not care if a baby is a girl or boy. He rushed to thrash her against a rock in front of Devaki and Vasudev, even his guards. He tried to kill the baby, the baby was no one than Yogmaya, she sprang up to the sky! Assuming her eight-armed cosmic form; warned Kansa of his destruction, before she disappeared adding to the fears of Kansa by saying, " The Eight child who'll kill you has born and growing 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