A voice heard from the sky had announced that the eighth son of Vasudeva and Devaki was going to be the destroyer of evil. Afraid for his life, Kamsa, Devaki’s cousin, had vowed to kill every child born to Devaki. However, using her magic, Devi Yogamaya arranged for the eighth child to be transferred to the village of Gokula in the middle of the night. The child was now in the house of Nanda and Yashoda, who took the baby for their own child and named him Krishna.
Kamsa set Vasudeva and Devaki free. “Believing that the child born to you will grow into my enemy, I killed all those innocent infants. That voice from the sky lied. Now I understand my enemy is born somewhere else. Pardon me, if you can,” said Kamsa.
Kamsa met his advisers. “The gods have deceived me. My destroyer is safe somewhere,” he said looking nervous.
“Nothing is impossible for the Lord of Mathura,” said an advisor. “You can still kill your enemy. After all he is a helpless suckling baby.”
“But how? I do not know who he is or where he is,” said Kamsa.
“Let’s kill all the babies born this week in our kingdom,” suggested an old and wicked minister.
Even as Kamsa’s face brightened at this suggestion, a young minister cautioned him, “If we kill babies, we’ll get a bad name. People will despise us as baby killers. They may even rise in rebellion.”
“I can trust Pootana to do it without drawing attention,” said Kamsa.
Kamsa had in his service a hoard of rakshasas with magical powers. One of them, Pootana, could fly, change her form and draw blood. But even Pootana found the job entrusted to her revolting.
“Lord, you want me to kill babies! I’ve never stooped so low before,” Pootana protested.
“Pootana, an enemy has to be nipped in the bud. If we allow him to grow up, he will kill not only me, also my entire army — including you,” said Kamsa. “Besides, you have no choice. You have to obey my command!”
Thus silenced, Pootana set out on her mission — to kill suckling infants.
Pootana stood in front of the mirror. Looking at herself, she smiled. “No baby would ever come to me with such a terrible look,” she thought. The next moment, she changed herself into a loving woman with a motherly look and set out from her home, looking for her victims.
She heard a faint cry from a house. She walked into the house and spoke gently to the mother. “Your baby seems to be hungry.”
“I know,” said the mother looking sad. “He’s always hungry. I don’t have enough milk for him.”
“Let me feed your child,” said Pootana, as she picked up the baby.
Entrusting the baby to the woman who looked so kind, the mother turned to household chores. Soon the baby stopped crying and the mother busy in the kitchen was happy that a kindly woman had satisfied her child. After finishing her work, she came out to thank the kind-hearted lady. But she found her gone and the baby sleeping peacefully. As she picked up the baby she noticed it had turned blue. Concerned, she called the physician who looked at the baby and nodded his head sadly. The woman was heart-broken to hear that her baby had died of poisoning.
Soon news came from all parts of Mathura — a baby killer was out on the street and she killed babies by breast feeding them with poisonous milk. Mothers were advised not to trust strangers. Yet, when Pootana with her motherly look appeared nobody suspected her. They simply trusted her, only to regret later.