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THE FIRST SIX SONS OF DEVAKI

Adapted from Hari-vaàça PuräëaViñëu-parva 2.9-30
Vaishampayana Muni tells Maharaja Janamejaya about the previous birth of the first six sons of Devaki.
After Kamsa was informed that the eighth son of Devaki would be the cause of his death, Kamsa became very frightened and started making various arrangements to destroy any future babies that Devaki might give birth to. His endeavors for his protection caused great disturbances for the people of the world. When Lord Vishnu heard about Kamsa’s activities, he contemplated, “Kamsa will surely kill the first seven newborn babies of Devaki. I think that I should appear in this world as her eighth son,”
While contemplating in this way, the Lord’s attention was suddenly drawn to Patala-loka, where the demons named Sad-garbha formerly resided. These demons were very powerful and possessed strength equal to that of the demigods who drink nectar. They were sons of Kalanemi and displayed immense prowess during battle.
Long ago, following in the footsteps of their grandfather Hiranyakasipu, these demons worshiped
Brahma, the grandfather of all living entities.
They underwent severe austerities, and as a result their hair became matted. Being pleased by their penance, Brahma appeared before them and awarded them a benediction.
Brahma said, “You all are great heroes who have appeared in the family of demons. I am very pleased by your austerities. Each of you may ask for a benediction and I will grant it.”
The intention of all six demons was similar.
They prayed, “O respected lord, if you are pleased with us then kindly grant us this benediction. Let us be incapable of being destroyed by demigods and serpents. May we never become influenced by the curses of great sages. O lord, if you are actually satisfied with us then kindly insure that we may never be killed by Yaksas, Gandharvas, Siddhas, Caranas, or human beings.”
Brahma replied with a smiling face, “Whatever
you have asked for will be granted.”
After granting this boon to the Sad-garbhas, self-born Brahma returned to his own abode. Meanwhile, Hiranayakasipu became annoyed when he heard about this incident. In an angry mood, he told his grandsons, the Sad-garbhas, “Why have you approached Brahma for benedictions
instead of me? By doing so, you have lost my affection. From now on you are like my enemies and I reject you. When you next appear in the womb of your mother, you will be killed by your father, one by one. You are famous as great demons and well known as the Sad-garbhas. All of you will be born from the womb of Devaki. In that birth your father Kalanemi, who will be known as Kamsa,
will kill you, one by one.”
As soon as Lord Vishnu remembered those demons, He immediately went to Patala-loka where they were undergoing austerities while remaining within water. There, Lord Vishnu saw all six demons fast asleep, by the influence of Nidra-devi, within the deep water at Patala-loka. Vishnu entered their bodies, forcibly took away their souls, and handed them to Nidra-devi, the predominating deity of sleep.Lord Vishnu, who is always fixed in the truth, then said to Nidra-devi, “By my order,
take these spirit souls to the house of Devaki. They are fearful demons known as the sad-garbhas. You must implant them, one by one, in the womb of Devaki. When these demons are born and then killed by Kamsa, they will go to the abode of Yamaraja. Only then will Kamsa’s endeavors become useless
and Devaki’s hard labor bear fruit. From that time onwards you will also become very famous, by my mercy, being respected and worshiped by all in this world.” ·
— The Hari-vaàça Puräëa. Sanskrit with English translation by Bhumipati Das. Rasbihari Lal & Sons. Vrindavan. 2006.

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