6. Putana Killed

6 / Pütanä Killed
While Nanda Mahäräja was returning home, he considered Vasudeva's warning that there might be some disturbance in Gokula. Certainly the advice was friendly and not false. So Nanda thought, "There is some truth in it." Therefore, out of fear, he began to take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is quite natural for a devotee in danger to think of Kåñëa because he has no other shelter. When a child is in danger, he takes shelter of his mother or father. Similarly, a devotee is always under the shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but when he specifically sees some danger, he remembers the Lord very rapidly.
After consulting with his demonic ministers, Kaàsa instructed a witch named Pütanä, who knew the black art of killing small children by ghastly sinful methods, to kill all kinds of children in the cities, villages and pasturing grounds. Such witches can play their black art only where there is no chanting or hearing of the holy name of Kåñëa. It is said that wherever the chanting of the holy name of Kåñëa is done, even negligently, all bad elements--witches, ghosts, and dangerous calamities--immediately disappear. And this is certainly true of the place where the chanting of the holy name of Kåñëa is done seriously--especially in Våndävana when the Supreme Lord was personally present. Therefore, the doubts of Nanda Mahäräja were certainly based on affection for Kåñëa. Actually there was no danger from the activities of Pütanä, despite her powers. Such witches are called khecaré, which means they can fly in the sky. This black art of witchcraft is still practiced by some women in the remote northwestern side of India. They can transfer themselves from one place to another on the branch of an uprooted tree. Pütanä knew this witchcraft, and therefore she is described in the Bhägavatam as khecaré.
Pütanä entered the county of Gokula, the residential quarter of Nanda Mahäräja, without permission. Dressing herself just like a beautiful woman, she entered the house of mother Yaçodä. She appeared very beautiful with raised hips, nicely swollen breasts, earrings, and flowers in her hair. She looked especially beautiful on account of her thin waist. She was glancing at everyone with very attractive looks and smiling face, and all the residents of Våndävana were captivated. The innocent cowherd women thought that she was a goddess of fortune appearing in Våndävana with a lotus flower in her hand. It seemed to them that she had personally come to see Kåñëa, who is her husband. Because of her exquisite beauty, no one checked her movement, and therefore she freely entered the house of Nanda Mahäräja. Pütanä, the killer of many, many children, found baby Kåñëa lying on a small bed, and she could at once perceive that the baby was hiding His unparalleled potencies. Pütanä thought, "This child is so powerful that He can destroy the whole universe immediately."
Pütanä's understanding is very significant. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kåñëa, is situated in everyone's heart. It is stated in the Bhagavad-gétä that He gives one necessary intelligence, and He also causes one to forget. Pütanä was immediately aware that the child whom she was observing in the house of Nanda Mahäräja was the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. He was lying there as a small baby, but that does not mean that He was less powerful. The materialistic theory that God-worship is anthropomorphic is not correct. No living being can become God by undergoing meditation or austerities. God is always God. Kåñëa as a child-baby is as complete as He is as a full-fledged youth. The Mäyävädé theory holds that the living entity was formerly God but has now become overwhelmed by the influence of mäyä. Therefore they say that presently he is not God, but when the influence of mäyä is taken away, then he again becomes God. This theory cannot be applied to the minute living entities. The living entities are minute parts and parcels of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; they are minute particles or sparks of the supreme fire, but are not the original fire, or Kåñëa. Kåñëa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, even from the beginning of His appearance in the house of Vasudeva and Devaké.
Kåñëa showed the nature of a small baby and closed His eyes, as if to avoid the face of Pütanä. This closing of the eyes is interpreted and studied in different ways by the devotees. Some say that Kåñëa closed His eyes because He did not like to see the face of Pütanä, who had killed so many children and who had now come to kill Him. Others say that something extraordinary was being dictated to her, and in order to give her assurance, Kåñëa closed His eyes so that she would not be frightened. And yet others interpret in this way: Kåñëa appeared to kill the demons and give protection to the devotees, as it is stated in the Bhagavad-gétä: pariträëäya sädhünäà véëäçäya ca duñkåtäm. The first demon to be killed was a woman. According to Vedic rules, the killing of a woman, a brähmaëa, cows or of a child is forbidden. Kåñëa was obliged to kill the demon Pütanä, and because the killing of a woman is forbidden according to Vedic Çästra, He could not help but close His eyes. Another interpretation is that Kåñëa closed His eyes because He simply took Pütanä to be His nurse. Pütanä came to Kåñëa just to offer her breast for the Lord to suck. Kåñëa is so merciful that even though He knew Pütanä was there to kill Him, He took her as His nurse or mother.
There are seven kinds of mothers according to Vedic injunction: the real mother, the wife of a teacher or spiritual master, the wife of a king, the wife of a brähmaëa, the cow, the nurse, and the mother earth. Because Pütanä came to take Kåñëa on her lap and offer her breast's milk to be sucked by Him, she was accepted by Kåñëa as one of His mothers. That is considered to be another reason He closed His eyes: He had to kill a nurse or mother. But His killing of His mother or nurse was no different from His love for His real mother or foster mother Yaçodä. We further understand from Vedic information that Pütanä was also treated as a mother and given the same facility as Yaçodä. As Yaçodä was given liberation from the material world, so Pütanä was also given liberation. When the baby Kåñëa closed His eyes, Pütanä took Him on her lap. She did not know that she was holding death personified. If a person mistakes a snake for a rope, he dies. Similarly, Pütanä killed so many babies before meeting Kåñëa, but now she was accepting the snake that would kill her immediately.
When Pütanä was taking baby Kåñëa on her lap, both Yaçodä and Rohiëé were present, but they did not forbid her because she was so beautifully dressed and because she showed motherly affection towards Kåñëa. They could not understand that she was a sword within a decorated case. Pütanä had smeared a very powerful poison on her breasts, and immediately after taking the baby on her lap, she pushed her breastly nipple within His mouth. She was hoping that as soon as He would suck her breast, He would die. But baby Kåñëa very quickly took the nipple in anger. He sucked the milk-poison along with the life air of the demon. In other words, Kåñëa simultaneously sucked the milk from her breast and killed her by sucking out her life. Kåñëa is so merciful that because the demon Pütanä came to offer her breast-milk to Him, He fulfilled her desire and accepted her activity as motherly. But to stop her from further nefarious activities, He immediately killed her. And because the demon was killed by Kåñëa, she got liberation. When Kåñëa sucked out her very breath, Pütanä fell down on the ground, spread her arms and legs and began to cry, "Oh child, leave me, leave me!" She was crying loudly and perspiring, and her whole body became wet.
As she died, screaming, there was a tremendous vibration both on the earth and in the sky, in all directions, and people thought that thunderbolts were falling. Thus the nightmare of the Pütanä witch was over, and she assumed her real feature as a great demon. She opened her fierce mouth and spread her arms and legs all over. She fell exactly as Våträsura when struck by the thunderbolt of Indra. The long hair on her head was scattered all over her body. Her fallen body extended up to twelve miles and smashed all the trees to pieces, and everyone was struck with wonder upon seeing this gigantic body. Her teeth appeared just like ploughed roads, and her nostrils appeared just like mountain caves. Her breasts appeared like small hills, and her hair was a vast reddish bush. Her eye sockets appeared like blind wells, and her two thighs appeared like two banks of a river; her two hands appeared like two strongly constructed bridges, and her abdomen seemed like a dried-up lake. All the cowherd men and women became struck with awe and wonder upon seeing this. And the tumultuous sound of her falling shocked their brains and ears and made their hearts beat strongly.
When the gopés saw little Kåñëa fearlessly playing on Pütanä's lap, they very quickly came and picked Him up. Mother Yaçodä, Rohiëé, and other elderly gopés immediately performed the auspicious rituals by taking the tail of a cow and circumambulating His body. The child was completely washed with the urine of a cow, and the dust created by the hooves of the cows was thrown all over His body. This was all just to save little Kåñëa from future inauspicious accidents. This incident gives us a clear indication of how important the cow is to the family, society and to living beings in general. The transcendental body of Kåñëa did not require any protection, but to instruct us on the importance of the cow, the Lord was smeared over with cow dung, washed with the urine of a cow, and sprinkled with the dust upraised by the walking of the cows.
After this purificatory process, the gopés, headed by mother Yaçodä and Rohiëé, chanted twelve names of Viñëu to give Kåñëa's body full protection from all evil influences. They washed their hands and feet and sipped water three times, as is the custom before chanting mantra. They chanted as follows: "My dear Kåñëa, may the Lord who is known as Maëimän protect Your thighs; may Lord Viñëu who is known as Yajïa protect Your legs; may Lord Acyuta protect Your arms; may Lord Hayagréva protect Your abdomen; may Lord Keçava protect Your heart; may Lord Viñëu protect Your arms; may Lord Urukrama protect Your face; may Lord Éçvara protect Your head; may Lord Cakradhara protect Your front; may Lord Gadädhara protect Your back; may Lord Madhusüdana who carries a bow in His hand protect Your eyesight; may Lord Viñëu with His conchshell protect Your left side; may the Personality of Godhead Upendra protect You from above, and may Lord Tärkñya protect You from below the earth; may Lord Haladhara protect You from all sides; may the Personality of Godhead known as Håñékeça protect all Your senses; may Lord Näräyaëa protect Your breath; and may the Lord of Çvetadvépa, Näräyaëa, protect Your heart; may Lord Yogeçvara protect Your mind; may Lord Påçnigarbha protect Your intelligence, and may the Supreme Personality of Godhead protect Your soul. While You are playing, may Lord Govinda protect You from all sides, and when You are sleeping, may Lord Mädhava protect You from all danger; when You are working may the Lord of Vaikuëöha protect You from falling down; when You are sitting, may the Lord of Vaikuëöha give You all protection; and while You are eating, may the Lord of all sacrifices give You all protection."
Thus mother Yaçodä began to chant different names of Viñëu to protect the child Kåñëa's different bodily parts. Mother Yaçodä was firmly convinced that she should protect her child from different kinds of evil spirits and ghosts--namely ’äkinés, Yätudhänés, Küñmäëòäs, Yakñas, Räkñasas, Véëäyakas, Koöarä, Revaté, Jyeñöhä, Pütanä, Mätåkäs, Unmädas and similar other evil spirits, who cause persons to forget their own existence and give trouble to the life-air and the senses. Sometimes they appear in dreams and cause much perturbation; sometimes they appear as old women and suck the blood of small children. But all such ghosts and evil spirits cannot remain where there is chanting of the holy name of God. Mother Yaçodä was firmly convinced of the Vedic injunctions about the importance of cows and the holy name of Viñëu; therefore she took all shelter in the cows and the name of Viñëu just to protect her child Kåñëa. She recited all the holy names of Viñëu so that He might save the child. Vedic culture has taken advantage of keeping cows and chanting the holy name of Viñëu since the beginning of history, and persons who are still following the Vedic ways, especially the householders, keep at least one dozen cows and worship the Deity of Lord Viñëu, who is installed in their house.
The elderly gopés of Våndävana were so absorbed in affection for Kåñëa that they wanted to save Him, although there was no need to, for He had already protected Himself. They could not understand that Kåñëa was the Supreme Personality of Godhead playing as a child. After performing the formalities to protect the child, mother Yaçodä took Kåñëa and let Him suck her own breast. When the child was protected by Viñëu mantra, mother Yaçodä felt that He was safe. In the meantime, all the cowherd men who went to Mathurä to pay tax returned home and were struck with wonder at seeing the gigantic dead body of Pütanä.
Nanda Mahäräja recalled the prophecy of Vasudeva and considered him a great sage and mystic yogi; otherwise, how could he have foretold an incident that happened during his absence from Våndävana? After this, all the residents of Vraja cut the gigantic body of Pütanä into pieces and piled it up with wood for burning. When all the limbs of Pütanä's body were burning, the smoke emanating from the fire created a good aroma. This aroma was due to her being killed by Kåñëa. This means that the demon Pütanä was washed of all her sinful activities and attained a celestial body. Here is an example of how the Supreme Personality of Godhead is all good: Pütanä came to kill Kåñëa, but because He sucked her milk, she was immediately purified, and her dead body attained a transcendental quality. Her only business was to kill small children; she was only fond of blood. But in spite of being envious of Kåñëa, she attained salvation because she gave her milk to Him to drink. So what can be said of others who are affectionate to Kåñëa in the relationship of mother or father?
The pure devotees always serve Kåñëa with great love and affection, for He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Supersoul of every living entity. It is concluded therefore that even a little energy expended in the service of the Lord gives one immense transcendental profit. This is explained in the Bhagavad-gétä: svalpam apy asya dharmasya. Devotional service in Kåñëa consciousness is so sublime that even a little service to Kåñëa, knowingly or unknowingly, gives one the greatest benefit. The system of worshiping Kåñëa by offering flowers from a tree is also beneficial for the living entity who is confined to the bodily existence of that tree. When flowers and fruits are offered to Kåñëa, the tree that bore them also receives much benefit, indirectly. The arcanä process, or worshiping procedure, is therefore beneficial for everyone. Kåñëa is worshipable by great demigods like Brahmä and Lord Çiva, and Pütanä was so fortunate that the same Kåñëa played in her lap as a little child. The lotus feet of Kåñëa, which are worshiped by great sages and devotees, were placed on the body of Pütanä. People worship Kåñëa and offer food, but automatically He sucked the milk from the body of Pütanä. Devotees therefore pray that if simply by offering something as an enemy, Pütanä got so much benefit, then who can measure the benefit of worshiping Kåñëa in love and affection?
One should only worship Kåñëa if for no other reason than so much benefit awaits the worshiper. Although Pütanä was an evil spirit, she gained elevation just like the mother of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is clear that the cows and the elderly gopés who offered milk to Kåñëa were also elevated to the transcendental position. Kåñëa can offer anyone anything, from liberation to anything materially conceivable. Therefore, there cannot be any doubt of the salvation of Pütanä, whose bodily milk was sucked by Kåñëa for such a long time. And how can there be any doubt about the salvation of the gopés who were so fond of Kåñëa? Undoubtedly all the gopés and cowherd boys and cows who served Kåñëa in Våndävana with love and affection were liberated from the miserable condition of material existence.
When all the inhabitants of Våndävana smelled the good aroma from the smoke of the burning Pütanä, they inquired from each other, "Where is this good flavor coming from?" And while conversing, they came to understand that it was the fumes of the burning Pütanä. They were very fond of Kåñëa, and as soon as they heard that the demon Pütanä was killed by Kåñëa, they offered blessings to the little child out of affection. After the burning of Pütanä, Nanda Mahäräja came home and immediately took up the child on his lap and began to smell His head. In this way, he was quite satisfied that his little child was saved from this great calamity. Çréla Çukadeva Gosvämé has blessed all persons who hear the narration of the killing of Pütanä by Kåñëa. They will surely attain the favor of Govinda.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Sixth Chapter of Kåñëa, "Pütanä Killed."

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