We’re back at Baphuon Temple today, for another look at the relief panels depicting Krishna’s early life.
In my last article, The Massacre of all Young Boys, I described how a prophesy foretold that the evil King Kamsa would be dethroned and assassinated by a new-born nephew, the eighth child born of his cousin Devaki. In an attempt to avoid his fate, Kamsa ordered the massacre of all young boys in the city of Mathura by having them smashed against a rock.
Today, we’ll continue this tale from the Bhagavata Purana, as described in the reliefs at Baphuon Temple, by telling of how Krishna survived Kamsa’s massacre by being exchanged with another child, a little girl.
To allow Krishna to escape, Indra sent rain to create the Yamuna River, thus offering Krishna a safe passage with the help of the friendly serpent Shesha, who warded off the rain using his hood like an umbrella.
The gatekeepers and the people of the city of Mathura were put into a deep sleep by magic, and the gates of sprung open as the fleeing Vasudeva approached, carrying his infant son Krishna.
Figure 1. Krishna’s Escape from Mathura, Baphuon Temple, Angkor, Cambodia. Here we see Vasudeva and Devaki sleeping with their heads supported by their right hands, and to the right Devaki giving her baby Krishna to her husband Vasudeva so that they can escape Kamsa’s massacre. From a relief panel on the southern gopura II at Baphuon Temple.
Vasudeva fled to the home of the cowherd chief, Nanda, where he found that all the cowherds were deeply asleep. Placing his son on the bed of Nanda's wife, Yashoda, he took her daughter in exchange.
Figure 2. The Exchange of Children, Baphuon Temple, Angkor, Cambodia. In this scene we see Devaki giving the baby Krishna to Vasudeva. From a relief panel on the southern gopura II at Baphuon Temple, adjacent to Figure 1.
Vasudeva returned to Mathura, where he placed the little girl on his wife Devaki’s bed.
When Yashoda awoke, although she was vaguely conscious of having delivered a child, she was so exhausted that she could not remember the sex of the baby. And thus Nanda and Yashoda became the unwitting foster-parents of Krishna.
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