Kamsa & Fear

Today is Kartik dashami, the tithi Lord Krishna performed the pastime of Killing Kamsa

Kamsa personified cruelty caused by the fear of becoming irrelevant, and therefore caused great havoc. Always a ruthless emperor, Kamsa caused violence to whomever he considered competition. And after receiving the intervention that the son of Vasudeva and Devaki will be the cause of his death, he extended his cruelty to everyone, even newborn infants weren’t spared. Why? His only fear was that he would be rendered irrelevant by death.

This fear is set deep within the hearts of the autocratic leaders of today. These tyrants cause cruelty not just by physical violence but also damage — the mental, intellectual and verbal – by their stubbornness. By means of selective vision, they choose to ignore the legacy; instead they attempt to be a permanent legacy themselves. They believe that they can break the laws of the past, present and future and only create a present that suits them best. This is till the cruel (why call it cruel?) death terminates their viciousness in a gruesome way.

Gruesome is not necessarily violent. Instead, violence is persistent in their system, born out of their obsession to permanently govern the helm of affairs. But this is synthetic. And what is not natural goes against nature. Nature cannot abide by such artificiality. If we do not move ahead with grace, she disgraces us.

Kamsa symbolizes incompleteness or deficiency. In Sanskrit, ‘Kamsa’ means bracket, which is not a complete circle, not fully integrated. Krsna is full, teaching us the art of assimilating everything. Death is but a part of this creation, and perhaps as important as life, because it is only another face of time. It is that which helps us move on so that others can take our place and position, allowing the factor of time to perform its duty without hindrance.

This Kamsa-ness has to be fought and Krishna-ness has to be sought. Only then will we be uncaught by the fear of becoming irrelevant. We will understand that we have a role to play elsewhere. This works just as a student becomes irrelevant to the school as he passes out and goes on to play the role of a higher education student in college, which he again moves out of and becomes a part of the professional world, followed by old age. And one day he dies, only to move on to the next step. Moving is inevitable and permanent. But to try to hold on to one place is Kamsa-hood, which Krishna does not allow. Krishna ensures that the wheel of life is in constant motion. As soon as He senses an obstacle, He clears it, just as He eliminated Kamsa and many others, so that life continues to flow, unhindered.

– Govinda Das