Tales from Srimad Bhagavatam: Putana – XXXII

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Nilanjana recounts the tale of Putana and how she was slain by child Krishna, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.

Putana was loyal to her king, Kamsa. When he requested her to help him out, she immediately agreed without a qualm. She began wandering around the kingdom in search of babies under one year.

One day when she was flying around, she spotted Gokula. Since she had not been there before, she decided to land there. With her Maya (special power) she transformed herself into a beautiful and charming young woman. She even held a lotus in her hand. The simple gopis were very enamoured by her beauty and deceived by the lotus in her hand. They thought that she must be Goddess Lakshmi. She won many hearts as she smiled around and casually walked into the house of Nandagopa.

Vishnu had concealed all in his glory in the form of a little child who was playing in the cradle. It is believed that the child shut his eyes the moment Putana entered the courtyard. Perhaps, divinity in the form of the little child was all geared up to destroy evil and protect the good.

When no one was looking, Putana picked up the child and placed him on her lap. Nobody paid much attention to what was happening around. Putana loosened her blouse and held the child tightly so that he could suckle her. Her breasts were full of poisonous milk. The child held her breast firmly and began to suck immediately. After a few seconds, Putana realised that the child was sucking her life out. She was in great pain and began screaming, “Leave me! Leave me!” She tried to free herself from the child, but his grip was too firm to be disentangled so easily. With a last cry of agony, she landed on the ground and lost her life.

Putana lay there on the ground in her real form. The beauty had all vanished by then. Hearing the thud sometime back, the gopis and gopas rushed in to see Nanda’s little son playing on the huge corpse of the fallen Putana. Yashoda rushed to the spot and carried her son away from there. She then performed all the rites to ward off the evil eye.

Just in time, Nanda arrived from Mathura and wondered about the divine foresight his friend Vasudev had in order to warn him beforehand.

It took the gopas a long time to remove the corpse of Putana. She was so huge that they had to cut her into pieces and then gather all of them later to burn them in the fire. Surprisingly, when she was burnt the perfume of sandalwood and other divine scents arose from the funeral pyre. The simple cowherds did not understand what was going on. But it is believed that since the child, who killed Putana was an incarnation of the Divine, all her sins were washed away and she was completely purified.

This episode is called Putanamoksham. It is said that all those who listen to this story attentively, with reverence, will be blessed by the fortune of having their minds eternally set on the divine…

[To be continued] 

 Footnote: Srimad Bhagavatam is often called the Bhagavad Purana. Authored by Ved Vyasa, the stories are about the various avatars (incarnations) of Lord Vishnu, also known as Narayana.

©Nilanjana Dey

Photos from the internet.

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A story-teller at heart, Nilanjana Dey is on a journey to experiment with fiction and poetry. Her first novel, largely aimed towards children, is titled ‘The Adventures of Puti – The Cheese Trail’. Her poems have been published at various prestigious portals. An alumni of English Literature from Jadavpur University (Kolkata), she is a marketing and communication professional based in Mumbai. She volunteers with a Mumbai based NGO working with the marginalised sections of the society.