I was reflecting on Krsna’s pastime of killing Putana, the first of the many demons He would kill as part of His bhauma or earthly manifestation of His pastimes in Vrindavan. Putana was a demon, a rakshasi, and the sister of Aghasura, and Bakasura, both of whom would also meet their end at the hands of Lord Krsna. The Bhagavatham mentions that she was able to change her form at will, and thereby conceal her true grotesque form. She used her magical abilities to prey on innocent children whom she would kill to drink their blood. Kamsa had previously employed her to kill young children when he heard that Devaki’s eighth-born had appeared, and escaped to safety. Now, Kamsa deployed Putana to directly kill Krsna once he heard of Krsna’s whereabouts in the tranquil village of Gokula through his network of spies.
Disguised as a bewitchingly beautiful maiden, Putana entered Vrindavan, searching for the child Krsna. She appeared so enchanting that the gopis thought she was Lakshmi, the Goddess of Fortune Herself who had come to visit Krsna.
The rest of the story is history, and Krsna effortlessly does away with Putana. Since she came in disguise of a wet-nurse, and offered Him her breast, the ever-kind Krsna gave her the same position in the spiritual world as that of Yasoda, Krsna’s own mother. The gopis rushed to rescue Krsna from further danger, and recoiled as they saw the gigantic and hideous form of the dead witch, with Krsna perched atop, seemingly unharmed. The gopis washed Krsna with sacred substances from a cow, and chanted mantras to ward off any evil that may have befallen Him.
Sukadev Goswami pauses in his narration, and mentions how we too can be saved from child-hunting witches and other supernatural predators. He states,”The evil witches known as Dakinis, Yatudhanis and Kushmandas are the greatest enemies of children, and the evil spirits like Bhutas, Pretas, Pisacas, Yakshas, Rakshasas and Vinayakas, as well as witches like Kotara, Revati, Jyeshtha, Putana and Matrika, are always ready to give trouble to the body, the life air and the senses, causing loss of memory, madness and bad dreams. Like the most experienced evil stars, they all create great disturbances, especially for children, but one can vanquish them simply by uttering Lord Vishnu’s name, for when Lord Vishnu’s name resounds, all of them become afraid and go away.”- SB 10.6.27-29.
Srila Prabhupada comments in a purports to this verse says, “Although Govinda, or Lord Vishnu, is one, He has different names and forms with which to act differently. But if one cannot remember all the names at one time, one may simply chant, “Lord Vishnu, Lord Vishnu, Lord Vishnu,” and always think of Lord Vishnu. Vishnor aradhanam param: this is the highest form of worship. If one remembers Vishnu always, even though one is disturbed by many bad elements, one can be protected without a doubt. The Ayurveda-sastra recommends, aushadhi cintayet vishnum: even while taking medicine, one should remember Vishnu, because the medicine is not all and all and Lord Vishnu is the real protector. The material world is full of danger (padam padam yad vipadam). Therefore one must become a Vaishnava and think of Vishnu constantly.”
“If Putana could attain such an exalted position in spiritual life by neglectfully, enviously making an offering to Krishna, what is to be said of mother Yasoda and the other gopis, who served Krishna with such great affection and love, offering everything for Krishna’s satisfaction? The gopis automatically achieved the highest perfection. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu recommended the affection of the gopis, either in maternal affection or in conjugal love, as the highest perfection in life (ramya kacid upasana vrajavadhu-vargena ya kalpita).”- Purport SB 10.6.35-36.
So let us too resound Krsna’s name, and be overcome in affection for Him. Although He needs no protection, the gopis attained perfection because of their unending concern for His comfort, pleasure and well-being.