In Hindu mythology Vasudeva is the father of KRISHNA. He was particularly popular in the Jain tradition (see JAINISM), whose PURANAS abound with stories about his life. Krishna himself is known by the epithet Vasudeva (with a long a as the second letter, indicating that he is the son of Vasudeva).
   Vasudeva was the chief minister of the evil king Kamsa of Mathura. Kamsa had learned that Vasudeva’s wife, DEVAKI, was destined to bear a son who would eventually kill him. He kept the couple under constant guard and had their first six children killed. The seventh child, BALARAMA, was miraculously transferred to the womb of Vasudeva’s other wife, Rohini. When the eighth child, KRISHNA, was born, a profound slumber fell upon the guards, and Vasudeva was able to sneak the child across the YAMUNA River and leave it with the cowherd Nanda and his wife, YASHODA, who thus becomes Krishna’s (foster) mother.
   The Jain puranas credit Vasudeva with 26 wives. The most complete story of the life of Vasudeva is found in the Jain text Vasudevahindi (c. third century C.E.), a work in the Prakrit lan-guage. The text was an adaptation of the earlier BRIHATKATHA story cycle, an ancient Indian story.
   Further reading: Cornelia Dimitt and J. A. B. van Buite-nen, eds. and trans., Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1978); Jagdishchandra Jain, The Vasudevahindi: An Authentic Jain Version of the Brhatkatha. L. D. Series 59 (Ahmedabad: L. D. Institute of Indology, 1977).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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