The Liberation of Aghasura

A Poem

Sri Krishna

Agha, or Aghasura, was a demon who wanted to kill Krishna. Demons in those days had mystic  powers, and Agha turned himself into a gigantic snake big enough to swallow Krishna and Krishna’s companions as they played with their calves in the forest of  Vrindavan. (vrin DAH ven). Vraja is the larger tract of land where Vrindavan is situated.

Govinda and Govinda-ji are names of Krishna. The title of the poem says, “liberation” because someone killed by Krishna also attains liberation.

Where it happened: Rhesus monkeys in Vrindavan (photo: Rasacharya Das)

Note: On a mobile phone, this poem is best viewed by holding the phone sideways.

The Liberation of Aghasura

As the first rays of sunlight announced the new morn,
Govinda-ji blew on his buffalo horn,
And all of the boys in the houses around,
As soon as they heard the melodious sound,
Gathered their calves and got ready to play
In the forest of Vraja with Krishna that day.

They came by the thousands, the calves and the boys,
To see their friend Krishna and share in the joys
Of life in Vrindavan, the happiest place,
Where a spiritual smile brightens everyone’s face.

Now all of the boys wore bright jewels and gold,
And although they were certainly not very old,
Ten years at the most, still they all understood
That living with Krishna makes life very good.

They all were so eager they couldn’t hold still
As they went to meet Krishna, who lived on a hill.
Then Visal ran and got there before any other
And stood in the doorway until Krishna’s mother
Invited him in while she dressed up her son,
The Lord of Vrindavan, the beautiful one.
No angel was ever as charming or sweet,
Then Visal tied the ankle bells ’round Krishna’s feet.

The others were coming. They called from below,
“The forest awaits. Are You ready to go?”
In the forest of Vraja, where peacocks abound,
They picked up the feathers that lay on the ground
And covered their bodies with soft, colored clay
As the animals gave them ideas for play.

“I’m a lion,” said Amsu. “The greatest am I.”
“I’m a bird,” said Vrsabha. “Just look at me fly.”
“I’m a peacock,” Maranda said, down on his knees.
“I’m a monkey,” said Dama. “I swing in the trees.”

But a great danger lurked in the forest that day.
A demon named Agha was watching them play.
Black magic and killing and blood for blood’s sake—
These were the arts of this horrible snake,
Who thought to himself as he lay there and waited
That soon he’d kill Krishna, the one that he hated.

“I don’t like this Krishna, I don’t like these boys.
I’m going to put an end to their joys.
I only like bloodshed and sadness and crying.
I only feel happy when children are dying.
My brother and sister were demons like me,
But Krishna has killed them, so now we will see
Which one of us is the smarter and stronger.”
And right then and there he began to grow longer.

He stretched out his body, eight miles at the least,
And his mouth was so large that this hideous beast
Could touch even the clouds when he opened it wide
With a tongue like a highway that led straight inside.
“The boys will be coming,” he thought with a grin.
“I’ll open my mouth and invite them all in.”
His cavernous mouth opened higher and higher.
His teeth rose like mountains, his eyes blazed like fire.

“What is this?” asked Ojasvi. “A statue right here?
In the midst of the forest where no one lives near?
“Not at all,” said Vitanka. “It’s more like a beast,
A demon who eats little boys for a feast.”
“He’s a demon,” said Kinkini. “I can just tell.
His intestines give off such a bad fishy smell.”
“What to do?” said Visal. “We won’t just run and hide.”
“That’s right,” said Vilasi. “Let’s go on inside.
There’s no need to worry. We’ve nothing to fear.
What harm can befall us when Krishna is near?”

So they laughed and they sang and they giggled and talked
As into the death trap they gleefully walked.
And the serpent was grinning with unwholesome joy
As he thought to himself, “I need just one more boy.
I can’t close my mouth yet. My day’s not complete.
My tongue’s still awaiting those soft lotus feet.
So come on, little Krishna. It’s your turn to die,
And all you who love him, get ready to cry.”

Now Krishna was worried for all of the others,
Not only his friends but their fathers and mothers.
“I can’t let them perish. I know what I’ll do.
All right, ugly monster, I’m coming for you.
You think you can kill Me? You think you’re so strong?
Get ready to learn what it means to be wrong.”

He took a few steps with a powerful stride,
Put one foot on the tongue and then walked on inside.
Then Krishna expanded and stopped the snake’s breath.
He grew bigger and bigger and choked him to death.
The snake writhed and shivered, his eyes bulging wide.
He tried to kill Krishna, but he himself died.

Now when somebody dies, it’s the body that’s dead.
The soul lives forever great sages have said.
So the soul of the demon went out of his heart
And up into his head, but that’s only the start.
His life air burst out of the top through a hole,
And this is the way that the glittering soul
Flew up in the air just as bright as a light
And waited for Krishna to come back in sight.

But meanwhile Lord Krishna walked further inside,
Where the boys and the calves looked as if they had died.
They lay there unconscious in some kind of trance,
And he woke them all up with his powerful glance.
Then they laughed and they sang and they giggled and talked
As out of the death trap they gleefully walked.

Back out in the sunlight, they stared at the sight.
It was rushing toward Krishna, that bright little light.
It came closer and closer then faded from view
As the stars do at dawn when the day breaks anew.

Now some people will say that’s the best we can know—
To merge like a light into heavenly glow.
But devotees don’t want that. They’re so much more clever.
They just play with Krishna forever and ever.

Now the morning was over and lunchtime was near.
It was time to relax by the water so clear
Of the River Yamuna who moistens the ground
In the forest of Vraja, where peacocks abound,
Where life is eternal and joy never ends,
Where Govinda the Lord ever plays with his friends.

In the land of Vrindavan it’s well understood
That living with Krishna makes life very good.

Eternally touching my head to the floor at the lotus feet of my spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada,

⁓Umapati Swami Sept 13, 2019

Photo top: Naughty Krishna holding a piece of candy (Jishnu Das)

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© 2019 Umapati Swami

Srila Prabhupada

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the teacher who brought Krishna Consciousness from India to the West and then to the rest of the world. He is the founder of  the worldwide Hare Krishna Movement as well as the author and compiler of many works of Vedic knowledge. He left this world in 1977.

Umapati Swami

One of the first American devotees of the Hare Krishna Movement, he became Srila Prabhupada’s disciple in 1966. Since then, he has preached Krishna Consciousness in many countries and is the author of “My Days with Prabhupada,” available from Amazon. Now 84 years old, he has started this blog to share what he has learned.

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