Why did Vasudev and Devaki keep having children?

Posted: 2014-03-05T07:29:33Z

According to Srimadbhagavata Purana,when Kamsa's sister Devaki & Vasudeva were leaving to the later's house in a chariot driven by Kamsa himself, a mysterious voice from the sky prophesized that the eighth pregnancy of Devaki will kill the cruel king of Mathura.Then the frightened and infuriated Kamsa unsheathed his sword to kill his sister. Vasudeva begged Kamsa to spare Devaki, and promised that he will deliver each new born child to kamsa himself. Then Kamsa spared the life of Devaki.In due coures, a son was born to Devaki.According to the promise given by him, Vasudeva had to deliver the child to Kamsa.So he carried the child to Kamsa and put it in his hands.Kamsa initially let him go with his new-born since it was the first child of his sister and his enemity was with the 8th child.But later he killed one-by-one all the new-borns of Devaki and Vasudev.

Why did Vasudev & Devaki keep having children when they knew that Kamsa would harm them?Infact everytime,they saw him kill their new-borns!
Giving birth to children to get them killed!?Especially when you have to put them in the jaws of death with your own hands!?Sorry!

Also Vasudev is praised for handing over his new-borns to Kamsa sincerely,but wasn't it his duty to protect the child,being a father when in danger!?(Actually he acted the right way after Krishna's birth!)

Actually,scriptures condemn procreation when the mother & father to be are not in a position to protect and raise the child!I was wondering how proper it was for them to keep having children in such circumstances!Also how did they esp.Devaki (being a woman & a mother)undertake such a process(Motherhood - highest of all in the case of a woman) filled with Pure Love & Bonding when their infants were subject to cruelty and facing end!?

Giving birth,knowing that you have to sacrifice your children seems to be unnatural!!

Edited by Cool-n-Fresh - 2014-03-05T07:38:24Z
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Posted: 2014-03-05T15:27:22Z
Passionate verbosity ahead, read at your own risk LOL

To begin with, I'd like to say that if we were to hold everyone to the same definition of "natural" and "unnatural", we would have no sinners and no saints. Everyone would be the same and there would be nothing to write a simple novel about, let alone a mytho that's meant to convey life lessons. 

In the Mahabharat, Devi Ganga drowned her newborns with her own hands. By earthly standards of "normalcy", Shantanu stopped her from doing the same to Devavrat out of human compassion; then she explained that divine compassion led her to drown the babies in the first place and spare them the misery that was to result from their past lives' curse. Cruel, "unnatural", and downright sinful as her actions appeared to be by human standards, she is still worshipped today as the goddess who washes away the worst of sins. 

Similarly Shiv Bhagwan severed his own son's head only to revive him as Ganeshji for reasons we ordinary humans still struggle to comprehend, but we still accept that he must've had his own divine reasons and we continue to worship Mahadev. 

Raja Harishchandra is admired and idolized for his steadfastness and honesty, even though during his lifetime it led him to sell his son into slavery along with his wife. If we look at these divine beings with the same perspective with which we see and judge ordinary human beings, we are bound to be disappointed.

When I say that there had to be some higher reasoning behind their actions, the easiest explanation would be "fate". Or to put it as every mytho does ad nauseum, "vidhi ka vidhaan". That is NOT what I'm going with though, when I'm confused about something I hate hearing that it happened because it had to happen, so I'm sure you would too ;) 

There are also theories of divine intervention; some of the regional sources for the Mahabharat airing on Sun TV actually have Vasudev and Devaki making the decision not to have any children once they are imprisoned by Kans. This causes Narad and the devtas to worry, pray to Aadishakti, and have her convince them to do their duty so that Shri Krishna could incarnate as planned. That's just one of many similar stories that resemble the "Nidraasan" intervention which affected Kumbhkarn in Ramayan.

The Srimad Bhagavatam itself tells us that the children who were killed by Kans were demigods cursed by Brahma and by allowing for their lives to begin and end as they did, Vasudev and Devaki helped ensure their salvation.

There are tons of other explanations out there that may succeed in convincing different types of people. For me, none of the above do the trick. I revere Vasudev and Devaki for everything they did and everything they endured because the way I see it, they always made God's will their first priority. When the prophecy made it apparent that God's will was for them to have 8 children, made sure that happened even if that meant going through indescribable ordeals. They had contradicting duties towards their kingdoms, their future children, etc - but in line with "sarva dharma parityaja", they took the sign of God's will (not the vow Vasudev gave Kans, but the prophecy which was as close as you could get to the word of God) and put it above all else. Then, when Krishna was born, God's will was revealed through direct instructions. Out went the duty to uphold a promise and mend their hearts with the company of their surviving child, the number one priority was once again doing just as God instructed for the betterment of the rest of the universe. Taking Krishna to safety was of course a more bearable separation than what they faced with their first 6 children, but it was painful nonetheless to be away from him for so long and miss all his endearing childhood leelas. Still, just like they bore such devastating losses before, they once again put themselves through trauma to ensure that God's will was obeyed and the world got its savior. We can't imagine what the world would have lost out on without Krishna, and we can't imagine how they felt to lose all that they lost to bring Him into the world. What could be nobler, more selfless, more venerable, and more divine than that? 
Edited by lola610 - 2014-03-05T20:13:08Z
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Posted: 2014-03-05T15:30:21Z
Well, I have two theories...don't know which one is correct but others are free to correct.

1) The babies were born through divine intervention. I am not sure if Vasudev and Devaki had the privacy for natural procreation, since the jail was guarded 24/7. Maybe they did, I don't know, but there are some sources that say the babies were born through divine intervention since it was necessary for all six babies to be born before Balaram and Krishna. That's not unbelieable to me, since the same sources say Kunti also had her children through divine intervention and not through natural intercourse with the Gods.

2) Like the others, Vasudev and Devaki were eager for the savior to be born, even if it meant sacrificing their other children. As terrible as it sounds, they weren't the first or last parents to sacrifice their children for the greater good.
Edited by ..RamKiJanaki.. - 2014-03-05T20:46:45Z
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Posted: 2014-03-05T18:59:13Z

It is all God's Illusion Power(Maya).This illusion power is inscrutable!Those who are shackled with material world or material objects will be whipped by Maya.We all are under its influence and face the results of our previous actions.Vedas&Upanishads say only those realised souls who are one with the All-Prevading God can escape this effect.This illusion power cannot attack those who surrender themselves completely to God.

In Srimadbhagavata Purana at various instances you find God's Yogamaya playing a vital role.So definitely all that you mentioned above is due to this Illusion Power.

This is the same illusion power which kept the Jail attendants asleep during Krishna's birth and made Vasudev take Krishna to Gokul out of fear.This power only kept Yashoda,Nand and other Gokul People asleep.

Edited by SRUJAconscience - 2014-03-05T19:08:49Z
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Posted: 2014-03-05T20:15:43Z
I've edited my spot a couple of posts above :)
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Posted: 2014-03-05T20:39:18Z
Great explanation Lola! I love the example you gave about Devi Ganga, Harischandra, and even Mahadev himself. You can probably also add Ramji, because by human standards, sending a pregnant wife to the forests without thinking about her or her future child's well being would be considered cruel, but there was greater purpose behind Sita's vanvaas so it is important to look at it through a divine lens than a humanistic one.

Likewise, whether VD had the babies by divine intervention or procreation, it does not matter. The innumerable sacrifices and suffering they underwent just to bring Shri Krishna into the world is something not many humans can do.
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Posted: 2014-03-06T05:59:09Z

@ Janaki - According to SBP,Vasudev & Devaki were House Arrested.Kans made their house a Prison.

 1) 'Kamsa understanding the essence of what he said was for the time being stopped from killing his sister. With him more at ease, Vasudeva then was happy to come home [unharmed].

2) Kamsa thought that all the Yadus were divine and that therefore any child born from Devak could be Vishnu. He thus in fear of his own death arrested Vasudeva and Devak, confined them at home in shackles and killed one after the other each of their newborn sons not knowing whether it would be the 'Never-born' Lord or not.

3) Devak with in her womb the Sustainer of All the Universes, could, being confined in the Bhoja house like the flames of a covered fire or like the knowledge of a man unable to express himself, not freely radiate her light.

Krishna's birth was a result of mind contact. 

He, the Blessing of the Complete Universe who is Infallible in All His Parts, was thereafter by the son of S'rasena [Vasudeva] in full transferred from mind to mind to his dev [Devak] so that she, preserving the Supreme Soul and Cause of all Causes, bloomed of happiness like the eastern sky.

Perhaps Balram was born in the same way.

@Sruja - You're Right who can else do all this except Hari,who runs this universe with his Maya Shakti and we are mere Puppets in his hand and yeah Yogamaya was said to have played a great role for Vishnu to incarnate as Krishna and managed all the related incidents.As you said it is difficult to predict or explain when,where,how&why hence Sage Vyasa termed them as Hari's Illusion Power.

@Lola - I loved reading your explaination!

Actually I was trying hard to understand these incidents.Vasudev grew strong mentally coz of the circumstances around is what I believe.

According to SBP,in the beginning Vasudev thought this way...'If I promise to deliver my sons to this man of doom, I might set my innocent Devak free. Perhaps I don't get any sons or maybe he[Kamsa] will die beforehand. That might happen or the contrary. Who knows what fate has in store for us? That is difficult to say. Even though the threat remains hereafter, I, at least for the moment, may avert her death.'
Here the Divine prophecy declared that Devaki's 8th Child would kill Kans.Words of divine will never be false.Though he made a promise at that moment to save Devaki,Vasudev was unaware of this truth(Divine will).He was still hoping, 'what if the contrary happened!?'

When Kans gave back his first child saying,'You can take this child back, my fear does not concern him, my death was predicted from the eighth pregnancy you have with your wife' Vasudev left without attaching too much value to the words of that untruthful character [Kans]lacking in self-control.We find an evolution in his character,i.e;trust not a fool.

Perhaps,the first 6 children were out coz of ordinary human emotions,physical relations,but BalaRam & Krishna were of higher origin!And this level was acheived by Vasudev & Devaki with certain spiritual developments within them.They were moulded gradually to meet the requirements of producing a Divine Avatar!
Now I understand that because of this spiritual growth Vasudev realized that a Father's Dharma is to protect his child and hence did his job precisely leaving Krishna with Yashoda and Nand.Smile
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Posted: 2014-03-07T23:15:46Z
@ Cherry - glad it helped, dear :) Yes indeed, when God gives us problems he also gives us the strength to face them and that's what happened with Vasudevji and Mata Devaki. However, from your last sentence I still don't think we're entirely on the same page. You say that the spiritual growth he experienced through these hardships made him aware of his dharma as a father by the time Krishna came as his child; I say both of them had no more scope for that kind of growth - their preexisting spiritual maturity led them to be God's chosen ones during so many lifetimes, and gave them the strength to do whatever He needed them to do in order to bring about his incarnation. You gave that quote of the Bhagavat from right after their wedding as evidence that Vasudevji was still naive and doubtful of the prophecy; I would ask you to check out the just a few verses later when Kans returns the firstborn - Kirtimaan - on account of Vasudev's truthfulness. The state of his heart is described in detail - he takes his child to that sinner with a heavy heart as expected, so it's not as if he's so detached that he isn't tormented by paternal affection and the pain it causes. But his intentions are described as follows:

ki dusaha nu sdhn
vidu kim apekitam
kim akrya kadary
dustyaja ki dhttmanm

What is painful for saintly persons who strictly adhere to the truth? How could there not be independence for pure devotees who know the Supreme Lord as the substance? What deeds are forbidden for persons of the lowest character? And what cannot be given up for the sake of Lord Ka by those who have fully surrendered at His lotus feet?

So just as I said in my previous post - he did not have children and surrender them to God's will out of any lack of understanding of his dharma as a father, nor did he take Krishna to safety out of some sudden realization of it. He was ALREADY as enlightened and realized as it gets; that is why he had the strength to give up whatever Shri Krishna needed him to give up in order to ensure the conditions for his avataar. Even this pre-elevated status is confirmed in the Bhagavat:

nanddy ye vraje gop
y cm ca yoita
vayo vasudevdy
devaky-dy yadu-striya

The inhabitants of Vndvana, headed by Nanda Mahrja and including his associate cowherd men and their wives, were none but denizens of the heavenly planets, O Mahrja Parkit, best of the descendants of Bharata, and so too were the descendants of the Vi dynasty, headed by Vasudeva and Devak and the other women of the dynasty of Yadu. The friends, relatives and well-wishers of both Nanda Mahrja and Vasudeva and even those who externally appeared to be followers of Kasa were all demigods.

These were no ordinary mortals. These were literally angels from heaven who came to help God in his earthly mission, setting examples with their behavior and setting the stage as needed. This makes the comparison with Ganga Maa and Mahadev all the more valid - that their actions cannot be judged and rated by the same yardstick as human behavior. They are way above and beyond.
Edited by lola610 - 2014-03-07T23:14:50Z
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