Ever wonder why Matt has Jesus going to Egypt to escape the slaughter of the innocents? Here's a file I found in America OnLine that may explain the prebiblical source of this story:
Cultures have a way of producing similar stories. It is as if the wisdom of man needs must take a form that can be shared with our fellows. Stories work on many levels, and some hear the stories as history, while others hear them as parable, and other others hear only stuff and nonsense.
Christianity tells the story of Herod slaughtering the innocent babies of Bethlehem. It is a story similar to an older one in Hinduism about the baby Krishna and another Herod--- a man named Kansa.
5000 years ago India was a mighty commerical empire ruled by powerful kings. Some of these kings were good rulers, and some were not good. Once upon a time there was a ruler who was a very bad man, intent only on his own pleasure. That king abused his subjects entirely for his own profit. His name was Kamsa, and because of his habitual harsh actions towards others, he was never loved, but he was feared. And to some, fear feels like love.
One day as the King was out racing his chariot, he beat the horse so mercilessly that the beast died of exhaustion. Climbing down out of the chariot he ran to the poor bleeding animal and kicked it, screaming that no one must ever disobey his will.
God will allow evil to continue only for a while, and that while was over for Kamsa. At that very moment a Divine Voice from heaven spoke out to Kamsa. (It was really his conscience that spoke, but Kamsa was so unaccustomed to that inner voice that he believed it must have been a god speaking to him). This is is what that voice said: "You fool! You ride roughshod over all whom you encounter, but One is coming who will cause your end!" The King stopped in his tracks and looked about to see who dared speak thus to him, but there was no one about. He looked at the dead horse, kicked him one last time and began to walk back to his castle, fuming at the insolence of any god who would dare talk like that to him.
As he passed through a small village, he overheard the moans of a woman in childbirth and then the sudden cry of a newborn baby. "Good" said the evil king to himself, "another taxpayer born!"
And then that Divine Voice again pierced his heart, yelling at him "You fool! One is coming like this child who will cause your end!" The king froze in his tracks, looking to see where the Voice came from. No one moved. Only the sound of the parents cooing at their infant broke the silence. The king found himself in a cold sweat. So, he thought to himself, a god is warning me... I must be even more powerful than I imagined for a god to look after me so dearly. Well then, if a child who will cause my end is going to be born soon, then I must defend myself! Drawing his sword the king rushed into the hut of the new parents and slew the entire family.
The long walk home led the king to many thoughts, and all of them were bloody. If indeed his killer was to be born soon, he would see to it that he outlived all children. The king resolved to slay all the newborns in his kingdom. He called in his ministers and told them his idea. They blanched, for even though they had heard many terrible things from this ruler, they had never heard anything quite this horrible. They used all their tact and powers of argument to dissuade the king from this heinous action, but the king was intent, and no one could talk him out of the slaughter.
At last after hours of discussion, one elder statesman swallowed hard and rose to the assembled ministers. "Our king is wise, just and powerful." (Praise is often the choice way of toppling a tyrant). "Our king has issued a command and we must obey, so let us enact his order at once!" The king smiled at these words, thinking he had an ally and that surely now he would live forever. But the elder minister had a good conscience, and had a plan of his own.
The minister had a grandaughter who was about to give birth. He had no intention of allowing that baby to be killed by a madman, and he knew that harsh times require immediate action. He had bought himself enough precious time to secretly send word to his grandchildren that the whole family must flee immediately and without question.
The family did escape the slaughter of the innocents, and the child born was named Krishna.
The king learned of the elder's deed, and burned him alive at the stake. All the other ministers now trembled in fear, for nothing could stop this evil ruler from tormenting the world. The king called in his secret police and told them to find the family who had escaped, and to kill the child on the spot. The king also called in his magicians and told them to send demons out into all the earth and FIND THE CHILD.
One of these demons was named Putana. She was a shapeshifter and had a nose for trouble. She flew through the air at will and spied on many people at night. Putana was filled with all the vile of the world. Her saliva was excrement, and her blood was plague. Nothing about her was wholesome or good. At last she heard of a young mother who fit the description of the elder's granddaughter, and she hastened to that place.
Knowing that a newborn baby would be there, Putana changed her appearance from a stinking hag into a beautiful young woman, with wide hips and pearly teeth and milk-filled breasts. She had made herself into the form of a wet-nurse, and she went looking for the baby, who was named Krishna.
Now what Putana did not know was that Krishna was God Himself, who had come as a manchild to rid the earth of evildoers.
She found the mother to be open and friendly. Using her wiles, Putana ingratiated herself into the affections of the young mother, helping her with chores and spending hours listening to her, and then herself praising the boy-child. In her dark mind, Putana chortled as she thought how she might eat one of the baby's ears, but outwardly she smiled and said "Oh isn't he a darling."
After many days, Putana found herself alone with the child Krishna and she drooled with glee as she thought how she could now tear his arms off and drink his blood. No, she thought, that is too quick, she wanted to see the child suffer, so another way to kill him was needed. She laughed, a deep throaty sexual laugh, as she bounced the baby in her lap. Slowly and with a smile on her face she unbuttoned her blouse, revealing a pale plump breast with a drop of milk forming at her nipple. "Baby hungwy, hmm, baby want to suck, hmm?" Krishna looked at the breast and laughed with glee as his little mouth moved forward to suckle. The evil Putana put her breast to the child, knowing that her body was filled with poison and that her milk would kill him in an excruciatingly painful way. The child sucked. Putana purred. The child sucked harder. Putana moaned at his fervor, and the child sucked harder. Soon her breast was bruised, but she did not move, knowing the brat would soon start screaming. Krishna giggled and milk squirted over his face. As it dripped off his chin and fell to the earth, the drops of breastmilk turned into maggots. Krishna cooed and returned his mouth to her nipple. He sucked Putana harder still and now Putana moaned in pain--- the child was sucking the life out of her!
"Stop, stop," she screamed as she tried to pull the child from her, but the child pulled more and more of her milk into his little body. Putana began to feel dizzy and as she fainted in a death swoon, the child burped.
That is how Krishna killed the demon. The moral of this story is, not all pleasure leads to life, and not all things are as they seem...
or so says BonGiovanni@delphi.com
Perhaps you will agree that some stories are a bit more graphic than others.
So what does this all this mean? Is it just a folk tale? maybe. or maybe the story has other meanings.
Kamsa is the mind ruled by greed. The elder minister is the intellect. The granddaughter is spontaneity. The demon is bad thoughts. The child Krishna is Divinity. The breastmilk of the demon is desire.
When greed destroys the intellect, bad thoughts rule. Spontaneity can aid, but without the intellect, danger is at hand in the form of unchecked desire. Divinity alone can take in desire and be unaffected. Without desire in action, demons perish.
But there are some people who instead say, no it is all just demonic holograms. While others say no, it really happened, and it is history.
Maybe it happened when Quirinius was governor...
Bon tells you these things in love.