The God-Fearing Kamsa

by Aranyakananda

One of the most repugnant concepts to me, in all realms of all things religious, has always been the idea of “the fear of GOD.” Being a “God-fearing man”. I have never in my life feared GOD. Maybe death, but never GOD. And I don’t plan to ever do so. A Christian friend of mine once asked me if I feared death. I told him that since becoming a Hindu I did not. So the story of Kamsa struck me as laughable upon first hearing it years ago.

Kamsa, the evil king and uncle of Krishna was driving Krisha’s parents’ chariot immediately following the couple’s nuptials when he heard a voice saying that the couple’s eighth son would be his killer. From that day on he obsessed over it. It was said that when the 12 year old Krishna – whom Kamsa by then knew as the Avatar of Vishnu – killed Kamsa, because his last thoughts were of Krishna, Kamsa immediately achieved moksha, liberation from the wheel of birth and death.

This parable is meant to tell us that fear of GOD is as valuable as love of GOD. That they are in fact one and the same because they both are at their root, awe/devotion. The key component of each being the simple act of having GOD on one’s mind? As a person who has spent a bit of time pursuing bhakti, I am not convinced that fearing GOD at death leads to freedom.

But also it is important to remember, as I was reminded at Gita study today that “moksha” does not always have to mean liberation from the cycle of birth and death. It can be freedom from pain, suffering etc, in this life. And in this case fear of GOD can lead to awe, and awe can lead to love, and a sense of Oneness. Oneness is itself Moksha.

What say you?

Jai Hari Aum.

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3 Responses to The God-Fearing Kamsa

  1. Paul D. says:

    In the Christan context the fear of God means to holdi God in awe. A positive not negitive concept.

  2. Dhrishti says:

    I agree… when it comes to God, six of one is often a half dozen of another. In your post here, I’d definitely say fearing God is quite closely paralleled to loving God.

    I also agree that “remembrance” is they key.

    • Dhrishti says:

      Also, Paul is right. When people speak of having the “fear” of God, they mean something more like awe.

      Interestingly, this highlights a good example of linguistic evolution. Awful, used to mean the opposite of what it currently does.

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