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Title: Kamsa  
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Subject: Glossary of Hinduism terms, Yashoda, Krishna (film series), Nyingchi, Krishna
Collection: People Related to Krishna
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Maharaja Kansa
Krishna kills Kansa
Predecessor Ugrasena
Successor Ugrasena
Born Mathura
Died Mathura
Consort Asti & Prapti (Two daughters of Jarasandha)
Sanskrit कंस
House Bhoja
Dynasty Surasena or Yadu
Father Ugrasena
Mother Pawan Rekha
Religion Hindu

In Hinduism, Kamsa (Sanskrit:कंस, Kansa), also spelt as Kansa, is the tyrant ruler of the Vrishni kingdom with its capital at Mathura. He is the brother of Devaki, the mother of the god Krishna - who slew Kamsa. Kamsa is described as human in early sources and an asura (demon) in the Puranas.[1][2][3] His royal house was called Bhoja and his another name was Bhojapati.[4]

Kamsa was born to King Ugrasena and Queen Padmavati. However, out of ambition and upon the advice of his personal confidante, Banasura, Kamsa decided to overthrow his father and install himself as the King of Mathura. Therefore, upon the guidance of another advisor, Chanur, Kamsa decided to marry Asti and Prapti, the daughters of Jarasandha, King of Magadha.[5]

After a heavenly voice prophesied that Devaki's eighth son will slay him, he imprisoned Devaki and her husband Vasudeva and killed all their children; however the eighth son, Krishna, an avatar of the god Vishnu, was transported to Gokul, where he was raised in the care of Nanda, the head of cowherds. Kamsa sent a host of demons to kill the child Krishna, all of whom Krishna killed. Finally, Krishna arrived in Mathura and slew his uncle Kamsa.[6]


  • Birth 1
  • Annexation of kingdom 2
  • His Warning Issued By Yogmaya 3
  • Death 4
  • Other mentions 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7


In reality, Kamsa was not the biological son of Ugrasena. The Brhad Bhagavatamrta[7] references the Sṛṣṭi-khaṇḍa (48–51) of the Padma Purana describing that after Padmavati's marriage with Ugrasena she stayed a short time in the house of her father, King Satyaketu. At that time a demonic messenger of Kuvera’s named Drumila (or Gobhila) became attracted to her. He came to her disguised as Ugrasena, and asked for union with her. She agreed. That night he came to her room and after removing their clothes, they got into coitus. during coitus, Drumil lost his self-control and got into his actual form. However, Padmavati was so attracted to him that she didn't protest. He ejaculated, as a result of which Padmavati was impregnated and she gave birth to Drumil's son Kamsa. In fact, Kamsa in his previous birth was a demon called Kalanemi,who was slain by Lord Vishnu.[8]

Annexation of kingdom

During his wedding in Mathura, Jarasandha brought over his army to escort the Princesses Asti and Prapti. Using the army of Magadha as his political cover, Kamsa overthrew his father after he refused to voluntarily retire from his position. This was done within the confines of the royal palace and the public was not informed. After Ugrasena failed to show up for public events, Kamsa announced his coronation.[9]

His Warning Issued By Yogmaya

A frightened Kamsa (left) looks up to the goddess, as she issues the warning.

Kamsa was told, in a prophecy, that the eighth child of Devaki, shall kill him. Hearing it, he wanted to kill Devaki, but Vasudev manages to save her life by promising Kamsa that he (Vasudev) himself shall give Devki's all children to Kamsa. Vasudev was such a great Gentleman that even Kamsa believed him and spared Devki because she herself is not a threat to him. In the confines of prison, Devaki repeatedly conceived and cruel Kamsa murdered the first six children.[10]

Just before the birth of seventh child, Lord Vishnu summoned Goddess Yogmaya, an eight-handed woman holding different weapons in her hands and wearing different colored garments. Shri Hari or bhagwan Vishnu asked her to transfer the embryo of Shesh Naag from Devaki to Vasudeva's another wife Rohini in Gokul. This child was named Balram, Shri Krishna's elder brother. Whereas, The Lord shri Hari-Vishnu Himself, was soon to appear as the eighth son of Devaki, ordered Yogamaya (who, shall be known with different names by her devotees such as Durga, Bhadrakali, Narayani, Chandika, Vaishnavi, Sharda, Ishaani, Vijaya, Chin Bhavani, Amba and Ambika) to take birth from the womb of Ma Yashoda. As according to Shri Hari-Vishnu's orders, Yogmaya transferred Shesha from the womb of Devaki to the womb of Rohini. Facilitating God Vishnu's descent or avatar, Yogmaya (as the controller of the darkness and ignorance) had put the guards of Kamsa to sleep or a state of trance. At this time, Vasudev, on obeying Shri Hari's order took BalKrishna to Nand Yashoda's house, bringing back Baby girl, Durga, who is incarnation of Yogmaya. Presuming this baby as Devki's eighth child, Kansa was about to kill her by crashing her down on the ground but the girl slipped out of his hands. Taking her cosmic form, eight handed Durga warned Kansa "The Eighth child who shall kill you, has been born. He is in Gokul!"[11]


The seventh child, Balarama, was saved when he was moved to Rohini's womb. The eighth child born to Devaki and Vasudeva was Krishna. Krishna was saved from Kamsa's wrath and raised by Vasudeva's relative Nanda and Yasoda, a cowherd couple.[12]

After Krishna grew up and returned to the kingdom, Kamsa was eventually killed by Krishna, as was originally predicted by the divine prophecy, and Ugrasena reinstated as King of Mathura.[13]

Other mentions

In his documentary "The Story of India", (a BBC production) Michael Woods tried to show a link between Kamsa and Kanishka. Kanishka was a ruler who ruled with Mathura as its capital. Although this is quite controversial and ungrounded. Mahabharata even though exists as a legend is nowhere near the period of Kanishka. Kanishka was a Buddhist and according to Hinduism, Buddha was born after Krishna.


  1. ^ George M. Williams (27 March 2008). Handbook of Hindu Mythology. Oxford University Press. p. 178.  
  2. ^ John Stratton Hawley; Donna Marie Wulff (1982). The Divine Consort: Rādhā and the Goddesses of India. Motilal Banarsidass Publishe. p. 374.  
  3. ^ Aiyangar Narayan (1901). Essays On Indo-Aryan Mythology-Vol. Asian Educational Services. p. 503.  
  4. ^ Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 78. 
  5. ^ F. S. Growse. Mathura-Brindaban-The Mystical Land Of Lord Krishna. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. p. 70.  
  6. ^ B. K. Chaturvedi. Shrimad Bhagwat Purana. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. pp. 85–86.  
  7. ^ Bṛhat Bhāgavatamṛta 1.6.8 (ISBN 0-89213-345-7)
  8. ^ J.P. Mittal (2006). History Of Ancient India (a New Version)From 4250 Bb To 637 Ad. Atlantic Publishers & Dist,. p. 428.  
  9. ^ James Talboys Wheeler (2010). The History of India from the Earliest Ages: Hindú, Buddhist, and Brahmanical revival. N. Trübner & Company. p. 377. 
  10. ^ Alo Shome, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya (2011). Krishna Charitra. V&S Publishers. p. 33.  
  11. ^ Dev Prasad (2010). Krishna: A Journey through the Lands & Legends of Krishna. Jaico Publishing House.  
  12. ^ Alo Shome, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya (2011). Krishna Charitra. V&S Publishers. p. 48.  
  13. ^ Alo Shome, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya (2011). Krishna Charitra. V&S Publishers. p. 52.  


  • Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1) by Anna Dhallapiccola
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