Long ago, the kingdom of Mathura was ruled by an evil king Kamsa (Hindi: कंस ). He was very ruthless and unkind to his subjects. He had a sister called Devaki (Hindi: देवकी ) whom he loved very much. But according to a prophecy, it came to be known that Devaki’s 8th child would killed Kamsa. Upon hearing this, Kamsa put Devaki and her husband, Vasudeva ( Hindi: वसुदेव ), in dungeon. He also ordered that all the children of Devaki and Vasudeva must be killed immediately after birth.
Krishna (also, Krsna) was born as the eighth child to Devaki and Vasudeva. By divine intervention, Krishna was rescued from the dungeon the night he was born. Kamsa found out that Devaki and Vasudeva’s eighth child has escaped from the prison. But he was unable to determine where the little boy was for sure.
Determined to eliminate the one destined to kill him, Kamsa decided to take help of the fearful demoness Putana (हिंदी: पूतना). Putana lived in a cave, deep in the forest. When Kamsa reached Putana’s cave she was performing black magic. She had long unkempt hair and long, curling nails. She had long teeth protruding out of her mouth. Her tongue was red as blood. She wore animal skin and was as tall as a full-grown camel. When she saw Kamsa, she bowed in respect. Kamsa told Putana about the prophecy and Krishna’s escape. He told her that he was not aware of the exact location of the child. Hence, Putana must eliminate all the kids less than ten days old in his entire kingdom.
Being a ruthless woman herself, Putana gladly accepted the job. She was thrilled by the open invitation to terrorize the entire kingdom. She knew this would instill fear in the hearts of people in the kingdom. They would be scared even at the mention of her name. Kamsa warned her that she should be careful while carrying out the task as the child was no ordinary mortal, but an incarnation of Lord Vishnu (Hindi: विष्णु) himself.
Putana immediately set to the task. She ruthlessly started killing all the infants in Kamsa’s kingdom. She started killing infants in the neighboring kingdoms as well. Discreetly entering houses, she would pick up the babies while their mothers were either sleeping or busy with household chores. She would also kidnap infants of unsuspecting parents working in the fields. People of Mathura and neighboring kingdoms were heartbroken and shattered after losing their young ones.
In her quest to eliminate all the kids in the kingdom, Putana reached Krishna’s village. She entered the village after sunset so that no one would recognize her. Wherever she went, she could hear people talking about the new born of Yashoda (Hindi: यशोदा) and Nandraj (Hindi: नंदराज). Everyone seemed to be mesmerized by the little child’s divine appearance. Putana at once knew that this was the child she was looking for. She decided to spend the night outside the village and go to Krishna’s house in the morning.
Putana was a demoness and had many magical powers. In the morning, Putana transformed herself into a beautiful maiden lest the villagers might get terrified and attempt to kill her. Before setting out, she poisoned her breasts with the venom of the deadliest snake. When she entered the village, all the villagers were stunned to see such a beautiful maiden in their village. They thought some goddess has descended from the heaven to bless Yashoda’s son. She inquired about Nandraj’s house and located it easily.
On reaching Nandraj’s house, she saw Krishna lying in a cradle. In one glance she realized that the boy was no ordinary mortal but god himself. She remembered Kamsa’s advice to be careful. Krishna was surrounded by the ladies of the house. She introduced herself and requested Yashoda to allow her to feed Krishna. Just like the villagers, Yashoda also thought that the beautiful maiden was some goddess and agreed to Putana’s request.
Putana lifted little Krishna in her arms, stepped into the backyard and started feeding her. She thought that within minutes Krishna would be lifeless. Instead, Putana suddenly started feeling as if the little boy was sucking the life out of her.
She tried to get Krishna away from her but was unable to do so. The boy held her tightly. She came back to her original form in order to scare the child. She started flying in the air so that the child might get scared and leave her. But all in vain. Krishna would not let go of her and eventually sucked the life out of Putana. The lifeless body of Putana fell on the ground.
All the villagers were terrified to witness such and unprecedented event. Yashoda almost fainted, worrying about the safety of her son. The villagers ran towards Putana’s lifeless body to find out if Krishna was alright. They were astonished to find the little boy playing happily on the lifeless body of the demoness.
The villagers, too, realized that Krishna was no ordinary mortal but some celestial being. Maybe God himself, though they could not tell for sure. What they did not know was that in the coming days, they would witness many more such miracles.