Bakasur – a cursed Gandharva turned demon
Other names: Bakasoor, Bakaasur, Bakasura
Kans, son of Mathura’s King Ugrasen, had a doubt on the basis of the information he received from his spies that, Krishna, who was growing up in Gokul at the house of Nandrai as their son, was the eighth child of Devaki. At the time of Devaki’s marriage there was an Akashvani (divine foreboding) that Krishna will be responsible for Kans’s death. So, Kans sent many demons to kill Krishna, but all of them were killed by Krishna.
Kans sent a Mayavi (having powers of illusion) and dangerous demon named Bakasur to Gokul to kill Krishna. According to one story, in his previous life, Bakasur was a demigod (Gandharva) who was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Once, for the worship (pooja) of Lord Vishnu, he plucked a lotus flower from the lake of Parvati, wife of Shiva. When the guards of the lake caught him and brought him in front of Shiv ji, Lord Shiva told him that he had stolen the flower from Parvati’s lake and as a punishment to this crime, he will be reborn as a demon. Lord Shiva also blessed him saying that he had stolen for the devotion of Lord Vishnu, which is why in the Dwapar age (there are four ages according to Hinduism- Krita (Sat) Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and Kali Yuga), when Lord Vishnu will be incarnated as Krishna, Bakasur will attain deliverance through the hands of Krishna.
Bakasur reached Gokul in the form of a giant Crane. Krishna was grazing the cattle along with his cowherd friends there. Krishna gave water to the cattle and drank the water himself. Just then Bakasur came there. The cowherds were scared looking at the huge crane with his mouth open. Bakasur, with his long beak picked up Krishna and swallowed him. Seeing this, the cowherds started crying. Shri Krishna transformed into a huge ball of fire. Bakasur could not bear the heat of fire. He immediately threw Krishna out and in anger tried to attack Krishna with his huge and sharp beak.
Shri Krishna caught both the parts of his beak with his hands and tore it apart in such a way as one does with a strand of grass. Bakasur died then and there.
The cowherds were very happy at the death of Bakasur and the devtas (deities) showered flowers and praised Krishna. As per Lord Shiva’s statement, Bakasur got salvation by the hands of Krishna.