Kansa is the name we associate most with the evil in Hinduism probably after Raavan
Kansa was a tyrant of the republic of Mathura who crowned himself as a king of Mathura after overthrowing his father from the seat of power. He is remembered in Hindu religious texts as a physically powerful and ambitious person who oppressed his citizens, ordered the killing of newborns and children’s below the age of 5, and imprisoned his brother-in-law and sister killing their six newborn babies and many more. Today at the auspicious event of Krishna Janmaasthami where we celebrate the birth of the hero Lord Krishna who killed this horrible tyrant and freed the world from his crimes let us know more about the Kansa who even after 5000 years from his death is viewed with hatred.
Birth of Kansa:
Kamsa was born to Ugrasena then ruler of Mathura and his queen. However, there is a twist in the story since Ugrasen was a good person and Kansa was bad so where did it get wrong? Kamsa was, in his previous birth, a demon called Kalanemi, who was slain by Lord Vishnu. Kamsa is generally described as the son of the Yadava ruler, Ugrasena.
However, some texts such as the Padma Purana state that Kamsa was not the biological son of Ugrasena. In this story, the wife of Ugrasena is seen by a supernatural being named Dramila, who transforms himself into the form of Ugrasena and inseminated her technically raping her. She soon becomes pregnant with a son, Ugrasena adopts him out of the good of his heart and names him Kamsa.
Assumption of Power through Coup d’état:
A coup d’état, also known as a coup or overthrow, is a seizure and removal of a government and its powers and Kansa did exactly the same to his father who was the elected leader of Mathura. Kansa was built powerfully because of his supernatural blood. Kansa single-handedly defeated Jarasandha’s army when the latter tried to invade Mathura. Kansa single-handedly routed Jarasandha’s army.
Jarasandha who was the king of power Magadha kingdom was impressed and decided to make Kansa his son-in-law. With Jarasandha’s support, Kansa became even more powerful. So during his wedding in Mathura, he asked Jarasandha to bring over his army in the name to escort the Princesses Asti and Prapti h. Using the army of Magadha’s army as his political cover, Kansa overthrew his father when he refused to voluntarily retire from his position.
Mathura was a republic till then after the assumption of power by Kansa it became a kingdom a horribly ruled kingdom.
Forecasting his Death:
Since he was the product of rape he was cursed by his mother to be killed by his own relative. Fulfilling that curse there was a prophecy on the wedding day of Devaki his beloved sister, that told Kansa that the eighth child of Devaki would kill him. In order to prevent that from happening, he wanted to kill Devaki, but Vasudeva her husband managed to save her life by promising Kansa that he himself would deliver all their children to Kansa. He accepted that promise and spared Devaki because she herself was not a threat to him. In the confines of the prison, Devaki repeatedly conceived and Kansa cruelly murdered the first six children.
Now comes the twist in the story again, just before the seventh child was born, Lord Vishnu ordered Goddess Mahamaya to place the seventh child of Devaki in the womb of Rohini. The seventh child was raised by surrogate mother, Rohini, and was named Balarama, Shri Krishna’s elder brother.
Birth of Lord Krishna the Savior:
Now more twists and drama unfolds, in order to facilitate Lord Vishnu’s descent as Lord Krishna, Yogamaya who controlled the night had put the guards of Kansa to sleep or in a state of trance. At that time also, Vasudeva in order to save his child, took infant Krishna to Nanda and Yashoda’s house crossing the flooded river Yamuna, bringing back the baby girl.
Presuming this baby as Devaki’s eighth child, Kansa was about to kill her by slamming her down on the ground, but the girl slipped out of his hands. Taking her cosmic form, Yogamaya warned Kansa, “The eighth child, who shall kill you, has been born.“
Since his would-be killer had slipped from his hand, he took draconian measures to prevent that from happening. Like the Pharoah of Egypt or Herod of Judea who ordered the death of all the newborns in the kingdom to prevent the birth of Mosses and Jesus, Kansa also ordered the same even going further to order the death of newborn girls as well who were not the part of prophecy but were killed nevertheless.
After locating Lord Krishna in Gokul under the upbringing of Nanda and Yasodha, he sent many of his supernatural and powerful associates like Putana, Bakasur, Aghasur, Keshi, and many more. All were killed by Krishna with relative ease. Afterward, he planned to lure Lord Krishna to the capital with the intention of killing his archnemesis by himself.
Final Attempt and Death:
Like all tyrants Kansa tried to cling to his life till the end so he organised a big Dhanuryajna in his capital and send Aakrur a devotee of Lord Krishna to persuade him to come to the capital. Aakrur succeded in his mission and both Lord Krishna and his elder brother Lord Balaram went to the capital with their father.
In order to kill Lord Krishna, he had planned elaborate schemes but all of them failed and at last in his own yajna ground Kansa was killed by his nephew Lord Krishna in a wrestling match freeing the world of his oppression and crimes along with his parents who were in prison all the time.