Bhagavata Purana relates the life of Krishna, the enunciator of the Bhagavad Gita in the Mahabharata.
The tale of Krishna is enshrined in the hearts of all, remembering Krishna, the cowherd, as a beloved God and remembrance of his exploits a source of joy to all.
Yadava dynasty had their capital in Mathura on the banks of the Yamuna. The Yadavas were a pastoral group. Ugrasena was a king of this dynasty. Kamsa, who was Ugrasena’s son deposed and imprisoned his own father. Ugrasena’s brother was Devaka. Devaka had a daughter named Devaki who was married to Vasudeva, son of Surasena. Surasena was also a Yadava like Ugrasena.
After the marriage of Devaki and Vasudeva, Kamsa was driving the couple to the bridegroom’s house. As the chariot roared past Mathura, a voice was heard from heaven, addressed to the charioteer, Kamsa: "O fool of a king! You are conducting a lady whose eighth son will grow up to kill you."
Kamsa’s impulsive reaction was to stop the chariot, seize Devaki and kill her on the spot. Vasudeva intervened and promised to put into the hands of Kamsa all the children of Devaki as soon as they were born. Vasudeva implored Kamsa to spare the life of Devaki. Kamsa was satisfied with the arrangement proposed by Vasudeva for dealing with Devaki’s children and drove the chariot on without injuring Devaki. As a measure of abundant caution, Kamsa put both Devaki and Vasudeva in a prison under close guard.
Kamsa started killing every child as soon as the child was born. He had killed six children in succession. Devaki became pregnant for the seventh time. A miracle occurred. The child in her womb got transferred miraculously to the womb of Rohini, another wife of Vasudeva. Rohini, fearing Kamsa, was living at Gokulam on the opposite bank of the Yamuna river. This child conceived in Rohini’s womb was Balarama.
Devaki became pregnant for the eighth time. This eighth child was born at midnight in prison. The Lord appeard in divine form at first and then, the lying-in-chamber in the prison was filled with a dazzling light. Vasudeva and Devaki realized that the born child was no human, but a divine incarnation. They jointly praised the glory of the Lord and counted it a blessing that the Lord had grown in her womb before manifesting Himself. The divine form was shown to the parents and the Supreme Being had assumed the form of a human child.
At the very moment that the Lord was born in the prison cell, the divine Maya or the Power incarnate of the Lord was born, in the Gokulam, as the female child of Yasoda, the wife of Nanda.
A divine prompting came to Vasudeva: "Take your male child across the Yamuna to Gokulam and exchange him for Yasoda’s daughter. Then you can return to prison before anyone learns of the birth of the eighth child of Devaki." Vasudeva took the child in his arms and the prison doors opened automatically, as the guards had been put to sleep by divine intervention. Vasudeva reached the bank of the Yamuna river which was in a spate. The river parted and made way for Vasudeva carrying the divine child. Vasudeva reached the opposite bank of the river safely and found all the inmates of Gokulam fast asleep. Entering the house of Nanda, Vasudeva placed the child on the bed of Yasoda, picked up Yasoda’s female child and returned to Mathura.