By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Kansa, KaJsa, Kaysa
Kañsa was supposed to be the son of the king Ugrasena of Mathurā, but he was actually the son of the demon Kālanemi or Drumila from Ugrasena’s queen. The demon cleverly cheated by assuming the form of Ugrasena using his magical powers.
Kañsa was a tyrant from the childhood. As he grew up, he usurped the kingdom by dethroning Ugrasena and imprisoning him. Devakī, his younger sister was married to Vasudeva. When Kañsa was taking them for a ride in his chariot, he heard a voice from the void that the eighth issue of Devakī would be the cause of his death. Kañsa was frightened by this and tried to kill Devakī. But he was pacified by Vasudeva who promised to hand over all the children born to Devakī. Though Kañsa spared her life, he imprisoned her and Vasudeva. He also killed all the six babies born to them. The seventh was miraculously transferred to the womb of Rohiṇī, the first wife of Vasudeva living in Gokula. The eighth was Kṛṣṇa, the incarnation of Lord Viṣṇu. Kañsa tried his best to get him killed but he was killed by Kṛṣṇa later on.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore