I am on a bit of a Mahabharata binge right now. Make ready.
Not too long ago I wrote on the concept of “fear of God” and how figures in the Mahabharata such as Kamsa, Krisha’s uncle achieved liberation because they were thinking of Krishna at the time of death. Thinking of Krishna out of fear, not out of adoration. I struggled with this concept.
The Mahabharata, and the stories involved with the life of Krishna are so vast that a devotee could spend a lifetime reading of His pastimes and still occasionally hear of one that seemed new. Being that I am not all that Krishna-centric in my Vaisnava bhakti, it does not surprise me that this is the case for me. I recently came across a story which goes a little further to explain why one may achieve liberation even from such emotions as hatred of Krishna.
Seems that once there were two guards named Jaya and Vijaya in Vaikuntha, the abode of Vishnu. They, in their ignorance, refused entrance to two sages, known collectively as the Sanat Kumaras. For this insolence they were made to be born on earth. They were given the choice for their penance: it could take them three lifetimes as enemies of Vishnu, or seven lives, but as devotees. They chose the three lifetimes as enemies of Vishnu, but they stipulated that in each incarnation, their demise would could at the hands of Vishnu. In avatar form, Vishnu fulfilled their requests. They went on to be killed by 1) Varaha and Narasimha as Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu, 2) Both by Rama as Ravana and Kumbhakarna and 3) both by Krishna as Shishupala and Dantavakra.
Those stories alone could fill chapters. The point is, they chose to be Vishnu’s enemies just so they could sooner be removed from the cycle they found themselves on and once again be in His presence in Vaikuntha. So you see, the story of Kamsa does not advocate being enemies of Vishnu or claim that in the grand scheme of things being an enemy is just as good as being a devotee. But it explains that there was a reason why someone like Kamsa could have found liberation in nothing but hatred, fear and jealousy toward the Lord. For me, it is a lesson in being mindful that, well, who knows on what terms each one of us has been sent here?
Jai Hari Aum