Age Group: 4 – 108 years
5000 years ago, in the Dvapara Yuga, Krishna – an incarnation of Lord Vishnu – one of the holy Trinity – lived in Vrindavan. He took birth to cleanse the Earth of evil, which was crumbling under the weight of sinners and their sins. Stories from Krishna’s childhood inspire children to be brave and stand up for what is right. Krishna had many interesting encounters with evil forces and with those who did not recognize that he was Vishnu incarnate. This is one such story.
Kaliya was a dreaded, many-hooded poisonous serpent who used to live on the banks of Ramanaka Dwipa. He was driven away from there by the fear of Garuda – the mount of Lord Vishnu and the arch enemy of all serpents.
Many years ago, Garuda had been cursed by a sage that he would meet his death in Vrindavan. Kaliya knew this, so he chose the banks of Yamuna near Vrindavan as his home, moving there with his family.
Kaliya was so venomous that the waters of Yamuna bubbled and churned with his poison and turned black. No one in Vrindavan dared to visit that part of the river, or even go near the river banks.
One day, Krishna and his sakhas (friends) were playing ball near the banks of the Yamuna river. Krishna, who was a form of Lord Vishnu, slowly drew his friends closer to the part of the river where Kaliya resided. Suddenly the ball landed in the water.
Krishna jumped in after the ball. His friends called after him, warning him of the dreadful serpent.
Krishna ignored their cries and dived deep into the river to retrieve the ball. Everyone from the village rushed to the river bank, but no one dared to go in after Krishna.
Meanwhile, under water, Kaliya attacked Krishna. He attempted to dig his fangs into Krishna, but Krishna was too fast for him. He filled the water with his venom, but Krishna dispersed the venom with one stroke of his hand. He then wrapped his body around Krishna and dragged him deeper into the river, attempting to crush him. But Krishna grew his body so huge that Kaliya had to release him.
Soon Kaliya started to tire. Krishna then grabbed the serpent’s tail and dragged him to the river surface. He then assumed the weight of the whole universe in his feet. And playing his flute with one hand, started dancing on the serpent’s head, all the while not releasing his hold on the serpent’s tail.
Kaliya started vomiting venom and blood, and started dying. Seeing this, Kaliya’s many wives came to Krishna, begging for the life of their husband.
Kaliya himself saw the error of his ways, and realized that Krishna was no ordinary child, but an incarnation of Lord Vishnu himself.
He begged for forgiveness and promised never to torment anyone ever again.
Krishna forgave him, with a warning, and told him to go back to Ramanaka Dwipa along with his family, and never come back to Vrindavan again.
The story of Krishna and Kaliya is told in Chapter Sixteen of the Tenth Canto of the Bhagavata Purana.