The Lord’s compassion is ‘Koti Maatru Vatsalyam’ and he exhibits this by even bestowing liberation to someone who came feigning as a mother to kill Krishna. Out of the Lord’s infinite [aneka] leelas, Putana Moksham marks the Lord’s first [prathama] leela. The reason the Lord chose this leela was because he wanted to show his completeness [Purnathva]. All the Shodasha kalas [Purnam Brahma Sanadhanam], which are the sixteen qualities, are manifested in this leela. The Lord wanted to show the true personality that was concealed in little Krishna and wanted the fortunate ones to understand his true nature [Jananthi eva jananthou]. It is only by the divine grace of the Lord that the individual can perceive the Lord as the supreme truth who has incarnated to mingle with the normal mortals and this precept was indeed the experience of the Gopis. The Lord after consuming the milk along with Putana’s life-force didn’t open his eyes.
Sage Suka only portrays the suffering of Putana as the Lord was drinking her life-force. It is verily because the moment the Lord’s grace falls on a devotee, one should only see the devotee’s yearning for the Lord and so Sage Suka only talks about the sufferings of Puthana and the impact of such a devotee to this world. A sinner like Puthana was bestowed with the highest of the highest which is verily liberation. Seeing Puthana being bestowed liberation, the mountains, the trees, water and earth became jealous of Puthana.
tasyAḥ svanenAtigabhIra ramhasA sAdrir mahI dyaus ca cacAla sa grahA
rasA disaś ca pratinedire janAḥ petuḥ kṣitau vajra nipAta sankayA
Putana took a huge colossal form and fell in the entire Gokulam. Akin to how Indra killed Vritrasura with Vajraayudam , here in the case of Puthana, the Vajram is verily Krishna Prema . When one is inundated with Krishna Prema, can they ever come out of it? – ‘Veezhdavar endrum Veezhndavar dan undo’. Puthana completely fell for Krishna’s Prema and never came back.
patamAnopi tad dehas trigavyUthy antara drumAn
chUrṇayAmAsa rAjendra mahad AsIt tad adbhutam [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.6.14]
IsA mAtrogradamṣṭrAsyam giri kandara nAsikam
gaṇḍasaila stanam raudram prakIrṇAruṇa mUrdhajham [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.6.15]
The mortal remains of Puthana lay scattered on a six mile radius scattering all trees. On a lighter note it is believed that Krishna killed Puthana to create some place for him to play with his friends in Gokula. Since the primary profession in Gokula was to herd cows, Gokula was full of green pastures, shrubs and trees for the cows to graze upon and this gave no place for Krishna to play with his friends and hence he created place for himself by killing Putana and she helped him to do the deforestation with her mortal remains. He refers to King Parikshit as Rajendra verily to let him know that if one is a king one cannot imagine doing such a heroic act.
Sage Suka then gave a detailed description of Putana’s gory appearance and he verily did that to instill dispassion [vairagya and virakthi] in King PArikshit to not be feared of death. The moment the soul lives a person, the body appears to be very gory. Suka says that the Gopas and Gopis were scared of the gory appearance of Puthana who were first horrified in hearing the shrill voice of Putana.
Lord Krishna was joyfully playing in the chest of Putana devoid of any fear. On the other side, the Gopis became very scared [jAtha sampramahah].
bAlam cha tasyA urasi krIḍanhtam akutobhayam
gopyas tUrṇam samabhyetya jagṛhur jAta sambhramAḥ [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.6.18]
In the above mentioned sloka, there is a ‘cha’ and that has a beautiful reason. The life soul [athma’s] origin point is Puthana’s chest. When the Lord drank the life force of Puthana, her life-force started to play from outside and that life-force has taken a form of a small boy [balam] and was fearlessly playing in her chest [balam cha tasyA urasI]. The Gopis who witnessed Krishna playing on Puthana’s chest had two kinds of fears. Firstly they were terrified seeing the gory form of Puthana and secondly they were frightened to see Krishna fearlessly playing on Puthana and so quickly snapped him away and approached Yashoda and Rohini to consult how they can ward off the evil forces from Lord Krishna.
Since Suka was one of the Gopis he fondly recollects how they went and handed Krishna to Yashoda and Rohini. The Gopis thought it was their duty to protect Krishna and so along with Yashoda and Rohini swayed the cow’s switch around Lord Krishna praying for his protection [samyak]. The point to be noted is that each and every Gopi had a thought of protecting Krishna and that prema takes over Jnana here depicting the Vatsalya bhakti of Gopis on the Lord. Even though they were totally cognizant that the little child is indeed Lord, still they thought that it was their duty to protect the child from evil forces.
yasodA rohiṇIbhyAm tAḥ samam bAlasya sarvataḥ
rakṣhAm vidadhire samyak go puccha bhramaṇAdibhiḥ [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.6.19]
The Gopis first prayed for the Lord’s protection [samyak] and prayers are the greatest protection for anyone. The Gopis would go any far to protect the little Krishna [adhibhi]. Here they only swayed the tail of the cow to protect the Lord, but even if they had to sway the entire cow around the Lord, they wouldn’t hesitate to do it.
Gho mUtreṇa snApayitvA punar go rajasArbhakam
rakṣAm cakrus cha sakṛta dvAdasangeṣhu nAmabhiḥ [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.6.20]
They scurried to wash the child in cow’s urine, which is an excellent purifier and cleansed his body and then applied the dust from the cows all over Krishna by chanting the twelve divine names of the Lord, akin to how an elephant when first given a bath and allowed to dry immediately takes the mud and put it on itself.
The Gopis then took fresh water from the well and cleansed themselves to remove the negativities that they might have contracted with contact with Puthana [Bhija Shuddhi]. They cleansed themselves not for any personal interest but didn’t want to inadvertently pass it back to Lord Krishna.
gopyaḥ samspṛuṣhṭa salilA angeṣu karayoḥ pṛthak
nyasyAtmany atha bAlasya bIja nyAsam akurvata [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.6.21]
They first invoked the eleven different parts of the Lord’s body [avayavas] from toe to head [padadikesham] of the Lord to protect Lord Krishna.
avyAd ajonghri maṇimAms tava jAnv athoru yajNocyutaḥ kaṭi taṭam jaṭharam hayAsyaḥ
hṛut kesavas tvad uraIsa inas tu kaṇṭham viṣṇur bhujam mukham urukrama Isvaraḥ kam
cakryagrataḥ saha gado harir astu paschAt tvat pArsvayor dhanur asI madhu hAjanas cha
koṇeṣu sankha urugAya uparu upendras tArkṣyaḥ kṣitau haladharaḥ puruṣaḥ samanthAt [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.6.22-23]
The Gopis performed a Namasankirtan while enjoying the different parts of the Lord’s body and prayed to Lord Aja protect the legs, Maniman protect the knees and Achytha to protect the child’s upper part of the waist, Hayagriva to protect the stomach , Keshava protect the heart, Eshwara protect Krishna’s chest, Sun God protect the neck, Vishnu protect the arms, Trivikrama take care of the face, Eshwara protect the head and just not from toe to head protection but also prayed to the Lord with Gadha and Chakra to protect Krishna from front, Lord Hari protect him from back, may the one with bow and arrow from all sides and the one with shanka ,Lord Panduranga purify from all corners.
indriyAṇi hṛṣIkesaḥ prAṇAn nArAyaṇo vatu|
shvetadvIpa patis cittam mano yogesvaro vatu|| [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.6.24]
They prayed to Hrishikesha to protect all the Indriyas and may Lord Narayana protect the air, may the mind be cleansed by the supreme Yogeshwara, may the Prishnigarba cleanse the intellect [buddhi], the inner being purified by Gopis.
They continue to pray that Govinda protect the child when he is playing, Madhava [the consort of Mahalakshmi] be with the child when he is asleep, the Lord of Vaikunta protect the child when he walks, let Narayana protect the child when he is sitting and Lord Yagnyabuk protect the child when he is eating.
Keshava means ‘K and esha and va’. The letter ‘K’ connotes Lord Brahma. ‘Esha’ refers to Lord Shiva and ‘Va’ refers to the Lord who fulfills both Lord Brahma and Shiva. Brahma is the source of intellect and Shiva [Esha] is the source of ego and so when the Lord who is controller of both intellect and ego comes and resides in the heart , both ego and intellect will be under control. Each organ of Lord Krishna is protected by one deity and the Gopis are cognizant of this and hence pray to all the deities to protect Krishna.
pṛushnigarbhas tu te buddhim AtmAnam bhagavAn paraḥ|
krIḍantam pAtu govindaḥ sayAnaṁ pAtu mAdhavaḥ||
vrajantham avyAd vaikuṇṭa AsInam tvAm sriyaḥ patiḥ|
bhunjAnam yajnabuk pAtu sarva graha bhayankaraḥ||[Srimad Bhagavatam 10.6.25-26]
The Gopis continue to do prayer as there are so many other evils because of the bad planetary positions and demons and that all these evil spirits and demons are vanquished by uttering the divine name of Krishna. Here Sage Suka lucidly reveals the knowledge [Jnana] possessed by the Gopis. He first showed the divine love that the Gopis had on Krishna and when one has that pure and pristine love in heart, they also possess knowledge. The knowledge that the Gopis possessed was that they were aware that Krishna was indeed the Lord and that all the demons and spirits that they prayed to be vanquished was not for Krishna but for them.
koṭarA revathI jyeṣṭhA pUtanA mAtṛkAdayaḥ
unmAdA ye hy apasmArA deha prAṇendriya druhaḥ
svapna dṛuṣṭA mahotpAtA vṛuddhA bAla grahAs cha ye
sarve nasyanthu te viṣṇor nAma grahaṇa bhIravaḥ [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.6.28-29]
Sage Suka also justifies as to why they did Namasankiran even though they knew Krishna needed no protection of any sort. When they took Krishna away from Putana, the Gopis thought that Krishna was looking pale and since he incarnated as Gopala, they wagged the cow’s tail and bathed the Lord in cow’s urine and smeared the dust from the cows on the Lord. After doing all this, they realized that Krishna was all the more sad and then they realized that this birth of the Lord was to glorify the divine names chanting of the Lord and so they performed Namasankirtan and Narayana Kavacham to the Lord. After doing Namasankirtan, Krishna’s face rejoiced. This was indeed a beautiful anubhava of the Gopis.
Sage Suka then wraps up this beautiful episode by conveying the fact that Lord Krishna’s health was fine inspite of consuming the poison from Puthana and that he was hungry and Yashoda fed him well with her milk and put him to sleep. Sage Suka also mentions that the Lord was protected verily because of the Namasankirtan performed by the Gopis.
iti praṇaya baddhAbhir gopAbhiḥ kṛuta rakṣhaṇam
pAyayitvA stanam mAtA sannyaveshayad Atmajam [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.6.30 ]
Nanda Maharaj returns back to Gokula from Mathura and was horrified to see the course of events that had taken place during his absence. He mentioned to other Gopas that Vasudeva was indeed a great Yogishwara and that things happened just like how he had predicted. Nanda Maharaj wanted to immediately clean up the mess and wanted to clear the corpse of Putana.
They pondered on the options that they had before them to destroy Putana’s corpse. Some thought that they can throw her gigantic body in the water while few exclaimed that she may regain life from water. Some wanted her corpse pieces to be the food for eagles and some disagreed saying that the eagles might re-assemble her body and that she might regain her life akin to Jarasandha and so they all unanimously decided to cut her corpse into pieces and made a big mountain out of her body pieces and burned it using logs of wood.
dahyamAnasya dehasya dhUmas chAguru saurabhaḥ
utthitaḥ kṛiṣhṇa nirbhukta sapady Ahata pApmanaḥ [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.6.34]
The moment Krishna’s touch was bestowed on Putana, she instantly lost her sins she was instantly purified and transformed into a pure soul and Krishna had granted her liberation. AS a testimony to this, beautiful fragrance of sandalwood and other fragrant substances emanated from the fire that lit her corpse.
Saying so, Sage Suka melts in compassion thinking about the immense compassion of the Lord. Putana came down to kill Krishna and the Lord inturn bestowed her with liberation. What will the Lord not bestow on his devotees who are forever thinking about him?.The Lord drinks the milk that the Gopis provide with so much love and what then can one say about the Gopis state, who verily incarnated from Vaikunta.
padbhyAm bhaktha hṛudi sthAbhyAm vandyAbhyAm loka vanditaiḥ
angam yasyAḥ samAkramya bhagavAn api tat stanam [Srimad Bhagavatam [10.6.37]
yAtudhAny api sA swargam avApa jananI gatim
kṛiṣhṇa bhukta stana kṣIrAḥ kim u gAvo numAtaraḥ[Srimad Bhagavatam 10.6.38]
payAmsi yAsAm apibat putra sneha snutAny alam
bhagavAn devakI putraḥ kaivalyAdy akhila pradaḥ
tAsAm aviratam kṛiṣhṇe kurvatInAm sutekṣaṇam
na punaḥ kalpate rAjan samsAro jnAna sambhavaḥ [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.6.39-40]
The Gopis will not have any re-birth and are absolved of samsara, since they have always lived with the Lord and have always been reminiscing him. The Lord can only bestow them with liberation.
Sage Suka immediately turns back to King Parikshit and tells him that one who does devotion to Lord Krishna will be liberated.
There were few Gopas and Gopis who were outside Gokula and when they came back they could smell the sweet fragrance emanating from Putana’s corpse and they all recounted Putana.
Nanda came and hugged Krishna and fondled him with love.
Sage Suka ends Putana Moksham with a phala stuthi.
ya etat pUtanA mokṣam kṛṣṇasyArbhakam adbhutam
sṛuṇuyAc chraddhayA marthyo govinde labhate ratim [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.644]
The fortunate one who listens to Puthana Moksham with dedication will be bestowed with Krishna Bhakti. One doesn’t have to feel bad that he/she is not born during Krishna’s incarnation and that by listening to this divine leela of the Lord one will attain the highest state, Krishna Bhakti. The Lord bestowed liberation to Puthana and others who witnessed this episode and blesses one with Krishna Bhakti to those who hear this leela with faith and dedication. This goes to show the immense compassion of the Lord. In Sangraha Parayanam, it is said – ‘Puthana su paya panaha’ which connotes that the Lord drank the most auspicious milk from Puthana, verily because he grants devotion [bhakti] to those who listen to this leela.