The city of Mathura is now famous throughout the world as the birthplace of Lord Shri Krishna, who appeared in the prison cell of Kamsa five thousand years ago. However, long before this important event took place, Mathura was already well known and considered to be the holiest city in India. It is said in the Puranas, “Although it may be possible to count all the particles of dust on the face of the earth; it is not possible to count all the holy places in Mathura”. It is evident that even in the Satya-yuga, the sacred forest of Madhuvana was well-known to ancient Aryans. Dhruva Maharaja, the famous son of the first Aryan ruler, Emperor Priyavrata, was the first person in recorded history to have gone to Madhuvana forest where he performed penance on the banks of the Yamuna. The celebrated Vishrama Ghata and all the other holy tirthas along the Yamuna riverbank where Dhruva would sometimes bathe, were also well known and Madhuvana had long been glorified as the place where Lord Vishnu slew the demon named Madhu.
The Srimad Bhagavatam says that Lord Shri Krishna was born on the stroke of midnight from the womb of Devaki in the prison cell of King Kamsa. The evil Kamsa had imprisoned Devaki and her husband Vasudeva just after their wedding ceremony, when he heard an omen from the sky informing him that the eighth child of his sister Devaki would kill him. After locking-up Devaki and Vasudeva, Kamsa systematically slaughtered all the babies born of Devaki, by dashing them on a stone one after the other. Kamsa believed that the seventh baby must have been a miscarriage because after some period of pregnancy, no baby was born. Unknown to Kamsa, the baby, who was actually Lord Balarama, was transferred by the power of the yogamaya potency, from Devaki’s womb to the womb of Rohini, Vasudeva’s second wife, who was staying at his friend Nanda’s house in Gokula for safety.
According to the Vedas, Lord Krishna appears once in every day of Brahma in order to save His devotees and kill all the demons disturbing the world. When Devaki became pregnant for the eighth time, Kamsa remained vigilant and waited in great trepidation for this particular child to be born. On the stroke of midnight at the appointed time of His birth, Lord Krishna appeared before Vasudeva and Devaki, not as an ordinary baby, but in a four-armed form of Lord Narayana, dressed in shining yellow silk and holding all the symbols of Vishnu in his four hands. Understanding that the Supreme Lord had been born as their son, Vasudeva and Devaki were struck with wonder and began offering their heartfelt prayers to the Lord. The demigods headed by Brahma and Shiva began showering flowers from the sky in great jubilation. At that moment, Lord Krishna spoke to Vasudeva and Devaki informing them that in their previous life, they had been born as Sutapa and Prishni, and that Lord Prishnigarbha had at that time been born as their son, then in their next life as Kashyapa and Diti, Lord Vamanadeva had been born as their son. Now in this present life as Vasudeva and Devaki, Lord Krishna had appeared as their son within the prison cell of Kamsa.
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The original village of Gokula where Lord Krishna performed His childhood pastimes is now known as Mahavana. This is because the original village of Gokula lies within the area once covered by the sacred forest of Mahavana. The forest of Mahavana is one of the twelve sacred forests of Vraja and although it was once a large and verdant forest, with…