Bhagavatam - Tenth Skandha , Chapter 16

Kalias Story - 'Kaliya Moksham'

Seeing the river (‘Krishnaa') Yamuna contaminated by the black ‘Krishna' Serpent, Lord Krishna desiring the purification of the river sent away the serpent


Kailia Moksham

Suka Deva continued.

' Oh King ! seeing the river Yamuna contaminated by a black Serpent, Lord Krishna sent away the serpent to purify the river ‘.

Then Raja Parikshit asked the muni, ‘Oh Learned Brahman, how did this serpent come to inhabit Yamuna and why was it sent away? ‘

Suka Deva said,' Oh Rajan! the serpent Kalia inhabited in a part of the river Kalindi, also known as Yamuna. The poison emitted by Kaliya constantly heated and boiled the waters, emitting poisonous vapors. Even the birds flying above fell down dead inhaling the poisonous vapors. The droplets of poison were also carried by wind to the shore and all the living entities coming into contact with those droplets would die too.

Krishna descended to this earth for subduing the demons.

Seeing the fearsome power of the poisonous Kaliya Krishna wanted to subdue the serpent. He then climbed the Kadamba tree. Tying his belt firmly and slapping his arms, he jumped into the river Kalindi. The serpents in the lake were completely agitated by the force of the Krishna's jump into the river. Taking note of the Krishna trespassing into his domain, Kaliya immediately came forward and saw Krishna who was most delightful to look at. Krishna was wearing yellow cloth with a Srivatsa mark on his forehead and playing in the water without fear. Kaliya immediately attacked Krishna, bit him on the chest and enveloped him in his coils. Seeing him enveloped in the serpent's coils and not exhibiting movement, his cowherd friends were very greatly disturbed. They imagined that worse has come to pass and fell to the ground with great agitation. The cows, the bulls and the calves too were calling out loudly fixing their sights on Him. In Vrindavan ominous signs of danger appeared. Seeing these signs Maharaj Nanda rushed to the river along with all other cowherds in distress as he knew that Krishna left without Balaram or any other help. As they reached the river they could see Krishna from a distance very much in the grip of the serpent Kaliya. They also saw the unconscious cowherds on the banks of the river. All the cows and calves were also standing on the banks of the river and crying for Krishna. The Gopis felt as though the whole universe crumbling around them. The elder Gopis had to forcibly hold back Yashoda, the mother of Krishna who with her gaze fixed on Krishna in the clutches of Kaliya wanted to move in. Balaram also saw Maharaj Nanda and other trying to enter the water. Balaram, who knew the extraordinary powers of his brother, restrained Maharaj Nanda and others from moving into the water.

Krishna realizing that his own community in Gokul has no other shelter than himself, seeing the Gopa women and children extremely distressed on his account, rose up from the bonds of the serpent. With his strength sapped by the growing body of Krishna , Kaliya released his grip on Krishna. Raising his hood high and spewing venom Kaliya looked at Krishna. Repeatedly licking his lips with his bifurcated tongue he was staring at Krishna who moved around like a Garuda. Kaliya also moved around carefully looking for an opportunity. With the continuous encircling movements sapping his strength , Kaliya was made to bend down. Using the momentary opportunity, Krishna climbed on to his hoods and started dancing on the thousand hoods of serpent Kaliya. Seeing him dancing thus, Siddhas, Gandharvas, Devas, Sages and Charanas showered flowers . They played various kinds of drums with musical accompaniment resonating to the dance of Lord Krishna on the hoods of serpent Kaliya .

Oh Raja! Kalia had one hundred and one heads and Krishna would trample down the ones which would not bow down, like he would trample on the evil doers. Lord Krishna's powerful dancing broke all the hoods of Kaliya . Oh ! King with his limbs crushed, remembering Lord Narayana as the Lord of all moving and non moving things , Kaliya approached him with all his heart .

The wives of Kaliya too, very much agitated, placing their children in the front , bowing down their heads, folding their hands in supplication, desiring the liberation of their sinful husband and desiring shelter from the one who gives shelter to all said, “ oh Lord ! the punishment given to him who committed the offense is just. Your descent into this world is for the purpose of punishing the evil doers. This is mercy shown to us, since the punishment given also dispels the contamination in the form of earlier sins. His condition of appearing as a serpent is due to his past sins and your anger is a blessing. We know the goddess of fortune performed many years of penance to touch your feet, we do not know what Kaliya did to benefit from your touch now. We offer our obeisance to you the Supreme person, who is present within all, who is all pervasive and who is present before, during and after the creation. Obeisance to you who is the shelter of time, who is witness to various phases of time. You are the universe, you are also observer of the universe. You are the creator and you are the cause too. We offer obeisance to Krishna, and obeisance to Rama, the sons of Vasudev, obeisance to Pradyumna and Aniruddha. Oh Lord the offense committed by your own subject should be tolerated by the master once. Oh peaceful one , you should therefore forgive our husband. We are your servants. Please order your maid servants what should be done. Your command, executed with faith, removes all fear “.

Thus praised by the wives of Kaliya, Krishna let go of Kaliya whose heads have been battered by his feet.

Regaining his life and senses, breathing with difficulty, the humbled Kaliya spoke to Lord Krishna in a humble submission. “ Lord ! weare born as serpents and by birth we are ignorant and constantly angry. Ones material nature is difficult to give up for ordinary persons. You created this universe with various personal natures, varieties of sensory strengths. We are within that material creation. You are the knower of everything . Punishment or otherwise, you consider what is proper and order us.'

After hearing the words of Kaliya , Krishna replied ‘ oh serpent ! , go at once to the ocean with your wives and let the river Yamuna be enjoyed by the cows and the human beings. Because of fear of Garuda , you left Ramanaka island . Marked by my feet , Garuda will no longer trouble you. A mortal being who hears this story in the morning and evening will have no fear of you'.

Feeling happy and given permission to leave, Kaliya cicumbulating the lord three times as mark of respect, left the river Yamuna, whose waters immediately became useful for the cows and the human beings.


At the very moment river Yamuna became free of poison by the mercy of the supreme being manifesting his play in the human form