Krsna Chastises the Serpent Kaliya
1. Lord Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, seeing that the Yamuna River had been contaminated by the black snake Kaliya, desired to purify the river, and thus the Lord banished him from it. The story is as follows:
2. Within the river Kalindi [Yamuna] was a lake inhabited by the serpent Kaliya, whose fiery poison constantly heated and boiled its waters. Indeed, the vapors thus created were so poisonous that birds flying over the contaminated lake would fall down into it.
3. Lord Krsna saw how the Kaliya serpent had polluted the Yamuna River with his terribly powerful poison. Since Krsna had descended from the spiritual world specifically to subdue envious demons, the Lord immediately climbed to the top of a very high kadamba tree and prepared Himself for battle. He tightened His belt, slapped His arms and then jumped into the poisonous water.
4. When the Supreme Personality of Godhead landed in the serpent’s lake, the snakes there became extremely agitated and began breathing heavily, further polluting it with volumes of poison. The force of the Lord’s entrance into the lake caused it to overflow on all sides, and poisonous, fearsome waves flooded the surrounding lands up to a distance of one hundred bow-lengths. This is not at all amazing, however, for the Supreme Lord possesses infinite strength.
5. Kaliya saw that Sri Krsna, who wore yellow silken garments, was very delicate, His attractive body shining like a glowing white cloud, His chest bearing the mark of Srivatsa, His face smiling beautifully and His feet resembling the whorl of a lotus flower. The Lord was playing fearlessly in the water. Despite His wonderful appearance, the envious Kaliya furiously bit Him on the chest and then completely enwrapped Him in his coils.
6. When the members of the cowherd community, who had accepted Krsna as their dearmost friend, saw Him enveloped in the snake’s coils, motionless, they were greatly disturbed. They had offered Krsna everything—their very selves, their families, their wealth, wives and all pleasures. At the sight of the Lord in the clutches of the Kaliya snake, their intelligence became deranged by grief, lamentation and fear, and thus they fell to the ground.
7. The cows, bulls and female calves, in great distress, called out piteously to Krsna. Fixing their eyes on Him, they stood still in fear, as if ready to cry but too shocked to shed tears.
8. In the Vrndavana area there then arose all three types of fearful omens—those on the earth, those in the sky and those in the bodies of living creatures—which announced imminent danger.
9. Seeing the inauspicious omens, Nanda Maharaja and the other cowherd men were fearful, for they knew that Krsna had gone to herd the cows that day without His elder brother, Balarama.
10. The residents hurried toward the banks of the Yamuna in search of their dearmost Krsna, following the path marked by His footprints, which bore the unique signs of the Personality of Godhead.
11. As they hurried along the path to the bank of the Yamuna River, they saw from a distance that Krsna was in the lake, motionless within the coils of the black serpent. They further saw that the cowherd boys had fallen unconscious and that the animals were standing on all sides, crying out for Krsna. Seeing all this, the residents of Vrndavana were overwhelmed with anguish and confusion.
12. Lord Balarama then saw that Nanda Maharaja and the other cowherd men, who had dedicated their very lives to Krsna, were beginning to enter the serpent’s lake. As the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Balarama fully knew Lord Krsna’s actual power, and therefore He restrained them.
13. The Lord remained for some time within the coils of the serpent, imitating the behavior of an ordinary mortal. But when He understood that the women, children and other residents of His village of Gokula were in acute distress because of their love for Him, their only shelter and goal in life, He immediately rose up from the bonds of the Kaliya serpent.
14. His coils tormented by the expanding body of the Lord, Kaliya released Him. In great anger the serpent then raised his hoods high and stood still, breathing heavily. His nostrils appeared like vessels for cooking poison, and the staring eyes in his face like firebrands. Thus the serpent looked at the Lord.
15. Again and again Kaliya licked his lips with his bifurcated tongues as He stared at Krsna with a glance full of terrible, poisonous fire. But Krsna playfully circled around him, just as Garuda would play with a snake. In response, Kaliya also moved about, looking for an opportunity to bite the Lord.
16. Having severely depleted the serpent’s strength with His relentless circling, Sri Krsna, the origin of everything, pushed down Kaliya’s raised shoulders and mounted his broad serpentine heads. Thus Lord Sri Krsna, the original master of all fine arts, began to dance, His lotus feet deeply reddened by the touch of the numerous jewels upon the serpent’s heads.
17. Seeing the Lord dancing, His servants in the heavenly planets—the Gandharvas, Siddhas, sages, Caranas and wives of the demigods—immediately arrived there. With great pleasure they began accompanying the Lord’s dancing by playing drums such as mrdangas, panavas and anakas. They also made offerings of songs, flowers and prayers.
18. Kaliya had 101 prominent heads, and when one of them would not bow down, Lord Sri Krsna, who inflicts punishment on cruel wrong-doers, would smash that stubborn head by striking it with His feet. Then, as Kaliya entered his death throes, he began wheeling his heads around and vomiting ghastly blood from his mouths and nostrils. The serpent thus experienced extreme pain and misery.
19. Exuding poisonous waste from his eyes, Kaliya, would occasionally dare to raise up one of his heads, which would breathe heavily with anger. Then the Lord would dance on it and subdue it, forcing it to bow down with His foot. The demigods took each of these exhibitions as an opportunity to worship Him, the primeval Personality of Godhead, with showers of flowers.
20. Lord Krsna’s wonderful, powerful dancing trampled and broke all of Kaliya’s one thousand hoods. Then the serpent, profusely vomiting blood from his mouths, finally recognized Sri Krsna to be the eternal Personality of Godhead, the supreme master of all moving and nonmoving beings, Sri Narayana. Thus within his mind Kaliya took shelter of the Lord.
21. When Kaliya’s wives saw how the serpent had become so fatigued from the excessive weight of Lord Krsna, who carries the entire universe in His abdomen, and how Kaliya’s umbrellalike hoods had been shattered by the striking of Krsna’s heels, they felt great distress. With their clothing, ornaments and hair scattered in disarray, they then approached the eternal Personality of Godhead.
22. The wives of the serpent praised Krishna and prayed for their husband’s life. Thus praised by the Naga-patnis, the Supreme Personality of Godhead released the serpent Kaliya, who had fallen unconscious, his heads battered by the striking of the Lord’s lotus feet.
23. Kaliya slowly regained his vital force and sensory functions. Then, breathing loudly and painfully, the
poor serpent praised Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
24. Then the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who was acting the role of a human being, said: O serpent, you may not remain here any longer. Go back to the ocean immediately, accompanied by your retinue of children, wives, other relatives and friends. Let this river be enjoyed by the cows and humans.
25. If a mortal being attentively remembers My command to you—to leave Vrndavana and go to the ocean—and narrates this account at sunrise and sunset, he will never be afraid of you.
26. If one bathes in this place of My pastimes and offers the water of this lake to the demigods and other worshipable personalities, or if one observes a fast and duly worships and remembers Me, he is sure to become free from all sinful reactions.
27. Out of fear of Garuda, you left Ramanaka Island and came to take shelter of this lake. But because you are now marked with My footprints, Garuda will no longer try to eat you.
28. Having been released by Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose activities are wonderful, Kaliya joined his wives in worshiping Him with great joy and reverence.
29. Kaliya worshiped the Lord of the universe by offering Him fine garments, along with necklaces, jewels and other valuable ornaments, wonderful scents and ointments, and a large garland of lotus flowers. Having thus pleased the Lord, whose flag is marked with the emblem of Garuda, Kaliya felt satisfied. Receiving the Lord’s permission to leave, Kaliya circumambulated Him and offered Him obeisances. Then, taking his wives, friends and children, he went to his island in the sea.
30. The very moment Kaliya left, the Yamuna was immediately restored to her original condition, free from poison and full of nectarean water. This happened by the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who was manifesting a humanlike form to enjoy His pastimes.
31. Then Krsna rose up out of the lake wearing divine garlands, fragrances and garments, covered with many fine jewels, and decorated with gold. When the cowherds saw Him they all stood up immediately, just like an unconscious person’s senses coming back to life. Filled with great joy, they affectionately embraced Him.
32. Having regained their vital functions, Yasoda, Rohini, Nanda and all the other cowherd women and men went up to Krsna. Even the dried-up trees came back to life.
33. Lord Balarama embraced His infallible brother and laughed, knowing well the extent of Krsna’s potency. Out of great feelings of love, Balarama lifted Krsna up on His lap and repeatedly looked at Him. The cows, bulls and young female calves also achieved the highest pleasure.
34. All the respectable brahmanas, together with their wives, came forward to greet Nanda Maharaja. With a satisfied mind, Nanda Maharaja very gladly gave them gifts of cows and gold.
35. The greatly fortunate mother Yasoda, having lost her son and then regained Him, placed Him on her lap. That chaste lady cried constant torrents of tears as she repeatedly embraced Him.