People of Mathura braced up to face a new menace — a baby killer out on prowl looking for new born infants. The baby killer was Kamsa’s agent out to kill the newly born baby who was going to be the destroyer of all evil.
Nanda, the Chief of Gokula, came to Mathura with tribute for the king. Paying the tribute to Kamsa, he told him about the birth of a son. Kamsa complemented him, and as soon as Nanda left, Kamsa summoned Pootana, and asked her to leave for Gokula immediately. “A child was born in Nanda’s household on the very day Yogamaya told me that my enemy is born elsewhere. I suspect this child to be the one she was speaking about,” said Kamsa, “Use your charms, get that child on your lap and feed him your poison,” ordered Kamsa.
Chief Nanda decided to spend a day in Mathura. He called on his friend Vasudeva and gave him and Devaki sweets he had brought from Gokula. “Your son Balarama has company. Yashoda delivered a boy. We have called him Krishna,” said Vasudeva. Devaki’s heart skipped a beat. She softly said to herself, “Krishna, Krishna, Krishna…” Vasudeva patted her to calm her and then turned to Nanda.
“My friend I’m glad you are a proud father of a boy. For some time, I feel, you must take care of your people. I’ve a feeling something horrible may happen if you are careless. I pray to Lord Hari (Vishnu) for your safety,” said Vasudeva.
Meanwhile, Pootana had reached Gokula. She easily found her way to Chief Nanda’s house where the celebration was still going on. Women were moving in and out of the house carrying sweets, girls were dancing and elders were busy offering worship. Many women were at the house to greet Yashoda. Pootana, clad in a silk sari, covered with ornaments and jasmine flowers hanging from plaited hair looked like one of them. She walked in and headed straight to the hall where ladies were admiring the newly born son of Nanda. Pootana patted the child lovingly and gathered him in her arms.
Somebody called Yashoda and she went out, leaving the child alone with the visitor. Pootana entered a room, put the child on her lap in order to feed it. The innocent child smiled at her as it trustingly reached her breast. Pootana had a twinge of guilt. “What am I doing?” she wondered, “Is this the life I want to live?” Overcome by guilt, even as she fed the little one the poisonous milk, Pootana desperately thought, “I’d rather die than live this kind of wretched life.” Just then she noticed the little baby smiling at her and she was filled with the kind of peace she never knew before.
Meanwhile an elderly lady stopped Yashoda and asked her, “Where is Krishna?” Yashoda told her she had left the child with a kind lady. “Do you know who she is?” asked the elderly woman. “Don’t you know a baby killer is roaming around?” she shouted at Yashoda.
Yashoda ran inside. The hall was deserted. The child and the woman were nowhere to be seen. Fearing the worst, Yashoda started searching for them in various rooms. Then she heard her little son making slurping noise. She rushed into the room and stood stunned.
Her son, Krishna, was safe and was smiling. Next to him was a woman lying on the floor in her demon form!
Yashoda ran and gathered her darling son in her arms. Other women came in and were frightened to see the demon lying dead. Meanwhile, Nanda who was approaching Gokula, heard the commotion and ran to his house. Yashoda ran to him with Krishna in her arms.
Nanda and other cowherds dragged the body of the dead demon out and performed funeral rites. Strangely, the air was filled with fragrance, which was hardly noticed by Nanda. He was lost in thought. “Is this calamity Vasudeva was hinting at?” Nanda wondered.