... Suddenly, Kamsa felt unsure of himself. His hands began to tremble. The hand, which held the child and was raised to dash it to the ground, grew numb, and the child slipped out of his hand. A shriek followed, poignant and terrifying. The child flew out of the window!
The room swam before him. Everything grew dark. Kamsa tottered out of the room as he heard a supernatural voice saying: 'Your destroyer is elsewhere, already born.'
The next day Kamsa called a council of the men who were loyal to him, among whom was Pralamba, his chief adviser. Pradyota and his wife Putana were also there and there was Bahuka, the old Magadhan warrior, whom Jarasandha had sent to Mathura to look after the interests of his daughters [to whom Kamsa was married].
Kamsa told them of what had happened, of the strange shriek, of the flying child, and even of the words that he had heard: 'Your destroyer is elsewhere, already born.'
Pralamba, Kamsa's principal adviser, respectfully asked: 'Lord, have I your permission to speak the truth?'
Kamsa nodded assent.
Mighty prince, I fear the words you heard were a warning given to you by the gods,' said Pralamba. 'The people fear you and dare not speak out. But they all await the deliverer.'
'Lord, I also heard a voice. I cannot say where it came from, but it did say the words: 'Your destroyer is elsewhere, already born,' said Putana.
Kamsa thought for a little while. Then he knit his brows and said, 'I cannot leave anything to chance. Kill all the children born during the last ten days. Why, even those born within the past month. What do you say to that, venerable Bahuka?' And Kamsa turned to the old Magadhan warrior.
Then Bahuka, once the minister of Jarasandha, said slowly, 'Mighty Prince, you may kill as many children as you are able, but you will not prevent people waiting for the deliverer, and so long as they wait for deliverance, you will be in danger.'
'How can we prevent people waiting for the deliverer?' asked Kamsa.
'Lord, people are cowards. They will accept you as the master if you treat them with great hardness. But you will not break their spirit so long as they hope that a deliverer will come,' replied Bahuka.
'How can I avoid their thinking of a deliverer?' 'My master,' said Bahuka, 'their hopes are kept alive by the sages and ascetics and by Brahmans who talk of dharma.'
'You are right. Whatever I do, they call adharma. Bahuka, you are wise. You have been trained under our glorious father-in-law, Jarasandha. You must have had sufficient experience. Let us know what we can do.'
'Lord, the first duty of a powerful ruler is to extinguish the hope of deliverance in his people. This hope, as I said, is kept alive, first, by the ascetics.'
'How shall I deal with them?'
'Mighty Prince, you cannot deal with them easily. They do not covet, nor fear, nor hate. They want nothing for themselves. That is why they are so powerful. But that is not all. There are Brahmans, the men of self-discipline, who have faith in the Sacred Word - the Vedas - and who invoke the gods and teach dharma as something above the might of kings. They will not accept your dictates cheerfully. They judge everyone by the canons of what they call dharma.'
'I have been trying to win them over by lavish grants,' said Kamsa.
'You cannot bribe the sages; nothing will corrupt them. And if you give grants to the Brahmans, I know, they will fatten on them. But in their hearts the thirst for knowledge will remain and they will only take the advice of those who refuse to live in riches.'
'I can kill them surely.'
'Mighty Prince, if you kill them, the people will turn in wrath against you. If you drive them away from Mathura, they will raise enemies for you wherever they go.'
Kamsa listened to Bahuka's words in silence and the old minister continued:
'Mighty Prince, there is only one way to destroy the sages and the Brahmans. Open your purse-strings to the people; teach them to eat, drink and enjoy themselves; break up their families; teach women that chastity is not worth having at the cost of pleasure; bring up children to look upon their parents as old and useless. Once the people begin to believe in unrestrained pleasures as the goal of life, they will look upon the ascetics as deranged and the Brahmans as selfish; they will laugh at those who talk of duty, tapas, love and compassion. When wine flows, self-restraint will disappear; men will be like well-fed cattle at the mercy of their cowherds. Whatever you do they will bear as patiently as uncomplaining beasts, and obey your lash as if it were a favour from you.'
'That is a long path to follow that you have shown us, Bahuka. We shall try to follow it. In the meantime, Putana, find out how many children were born during the last few days and see that none of them survives.'