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Kamsa was told by a mystical voice that Devaki's 8th son shall kill Kamsa himself.

So he puts Vasudeva (Devaki's husband) and Devaki in a cell, and whenever they have a child, he goes and mercilessly kills him/her.

If he was so desperate to stop his death, then why didn't he put Devki and Vasudev in different cells? That would stop any child from coming.

  • he could have just killed them. don't know what could be the reason. – Mr_Green Jun 21 '14 at 14:18
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    @Mr_Green He didn't kill them because Devki was his sister and Vasudev his dear friend. They asked him for mercy of their life, so he spared them. – user3459110 Jun 21 '14 at 14:20
  • Because that was not in Krishna's plans. Krishna alone overrules all other considerations, the entire world exists with his permission and according to his rules. Kamsa just could not think straight. What to speak of Krishna, even other personalities like Brahma and sages can influence the minds of others. – user3603546 Jun 21 '14 at 15:39
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The Srimad Bhagavatam doesn't shed much light on this; it just says that in response to Narada informing him that the gods were making preparations to kill the Asuras (demons) of the world,

Kaṁsa thought that all the members of the Yadu dynasty were gods and that any of the children born from the womb of Devakī might be Viṣṇu. Fearing his death, Kaṁsa arrested Vasudeva and Devakī and chained them with iron shackles. Suspecting each of the children to be Viṣṇu, Kaṁsa killed them one after another because of the prophecy that Viṣṇu would kill him. (SB 10.65-66)

But if I were to guess, I'd say that he was worried that he might lose power at some point (he was so insecure that he imprisoned his own father after all), and if that happened Vasudeva and Devaki might be set free and have a child that would be his undoing. So by locking them up in separate cells, he might just be delaying the inevitable birth of their children, while allowing them to have children while they're in his control would allow him to kill any child that would pose a threat to him.

  • This is your pure speculation, right? – user3459110 Jun 21 '14 at 15:19
  • @AwalGarg Yes, it's just a guess; the text doesn't spell out any reasoning. – Keshav Srinivasan Jun 21 '14 at 15:22
  • What troubles me with this reasoning (that I shared with you before I found the flaw) is that if Kamsa had any realization of the fact that the birth of that child is inevitable, he would also have known that then, his death is also inevitable. He would have then rather accepted death than accepting the birth of any of the kids of Devki, even if they were to be murdered ASAP. – user3459110 Jun 21 '14 at 15:25
  • @AwalGarg Well, I think he was desperate enough to believe (or at least hope) that the prophecy could be prevented from coming true. I just meant that he may have thought it inevitable that Vasudeva and Devaki would have kids later on if he ever lost power, not for any reasons of prophecy. So he may have thought that short of killing them, there was no way to make absolutely certain that they would never have kids in their life, so the only way was allow them to have kids and kill them – Keshav Srinivasan Jun 21 '14 at 15:30
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    @ArunningMind As discussed in the chapter I linked to, when Kamsa hears the prophecy, he tries to kill Devaki, but then Vasudeva persuades him to spare her life and promises to deliver each of his children to Kamsa. When the first son is born Vasudeva brings him to Kamsa, but Kamsa lets him go because he's only worried about the eighth son. Then Kamsa has the talk with Narada I mentioned, so he becomes fearful, kills the first-born son he had spared previously, and then imprisons Vasudeva and Devaki and kills the next five children they have. – Keshav Srinivasan Jun 21 '14 at 15:44
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It is because he was not as tyrant as we think. He was probably tyrant to the world, but not to his sister. In fact he loved her so much that he became the chariot driver himself for Devaki and Vasudeva and set off to transport the newly wedded couple to their home:

Kaṁsa, the son of King Ugrasena, in order to please his sister Devakī on the occasion of her marriage, took charge of the reins of the horses and became the chariot driver. He was surrounded by hundreds of golden chariots. [SB - 10.1.30]

But on the way he heard the omen and got desperate. He got so desperate that he couldn't see what's right and wrong and proceeded to kill Devaki directly:

Kaṁsa was a condemned personality in the Bhoja dynasty because he was envious and sinful. Therefore, upon hearing this omen from the sky, he caught hold of his sister’s hair with his left hand and took up his sword with his right hand to sever her head from her body. [SB - 10.1.35 ]

Killing Devaki right on the spot was undoubtedly a far better solution than imprisoning her with Vasudeva. But he didn't do it as Vasudeva made him realize that Devaki was not the threat, but her children and promised Kamsa to handover his new born children:

Vasudeva said: O best of the sober, you have nothing to fear from your sister Devakī because of what you have heard from the unseen omen. The cause of death will be her sons. Therefore I promise that when she gives birth to the sons from whom your fear has arisen, I shall deliver them all unto your hands. [SB - 10.1.54]

So Kamsa let them live, not as prisoners but like free prince and princess. And when in due course of time the first child was born, to keep his word, Vasudeva went to hand over the child to Kamsa. But Kamsa was probably not that tyrant, or probably he loved his sister more. So instead of killing the child he was impressed of Vasudeva's truthfulness and said:

O Vasudeva, you may take back your child and go home. I have no fear of your first child. It is the eighth child of you and Devakī I am concerned with because that is the child by whom I am destined to be killed. [SB - 10.1.60]

But later on once Narada visited Kamsa and said how all Yadus are demigods and have been born to kill the demons. This made Kamsa doubtful and he thought any of the eight child could be Vishnu. Only then he decided to imprison them. But because by that time he had already seen the truthfulness of Vasudeva, he knew Vasudeva would certainly hand over all his future children as promised. So the best strategy for him was to have Vasudeva and Devaki give birth to the children and kill them one by one. Once the eighth child was killed he could rest assured. Probably that is why along with his love for his sister, he allowed Vasudeva and Devaki to live together in prision under his supervision.

REFERENCE: Shrimad Bhagavatam, Canto 10, Chapter 1

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They were nobles, and as such, were probably under house arrest or at least put in a comfortable prison.

Even if he was a tyrant to his people, he probably observed courtesy towards other noble high-born people.

So he didn't throw them into hard cells and keep them apart and forbid them from having intimate contact with each other.

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I watched a serial on Krishna's life. According to it , Kamsa deliberately kept Devaki and Vasudev in the same cell, since he wanted to show the world that he was not afraid of his death. He wanted the child to take birth and then kill it. Not letting the couple be together would reflect an action taken under fear. So he decided to let them stay together. That's overconfidence. Well, all sinners of his type do have one or the other foolish quality which leads to their death.

P.S: I am only stating what watched in the serial.

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    TV serials are not an acceptable source on this site. – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 12 '14 at 4:32
  • Thanks for bringing this to my awareness. Will keep it in my mind. – sagar mopagar Dec 12 '14 at 4:34

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