Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj describes Vasudev’s vision in Mathurā.
Devotee: Could you describe the details of Kṛṣṇa’s birth?
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: On the whole, it is something like imitation. It is nothing like the things we conceive of with our material senses. Kṛṣṇa, a spiritual body, came and showed Himself being born physically. It was an imitation, a show, like a drama, a play.
Devotee: Did Kṛṣṇa appear as a child with four arms or in His mature Viṣṇu form with a crown and ornaments?
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: When He came out, Vasudev and Devakī’s eyes were attracted, and they saw Him with four arms and many ornaments. By His will, the iron gate to their cell opened, and the Yamunā, even during in the rainy season, became shallow. A jackal showed Vasudev the path, and he walked through the water of the Yamunā. When he came back, the gate of the cell closed as it was previously. From the material standpoint, all these supernatural events are inconceivable and impossible. They took place only by the Lord’s will. The Lord did not come here by any particular material process, but He did imitate material processes as far as possible.
Devotee: So, Kṛṣṇa was born as a four-armed, mature form of Viṣṇu, not a four-armed baby form?
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: When Vasudev was beside Devakī at the time of the birth, he saw the Lord in a four-handed, full-grown form as Viṣṇu decorated with ornaments and began to praise Him. That Viṣṇu form then advised Vasudev, “Do this, this, this, and this”. Then, the Lord became a prākṛta śiśu, an ordinary baby. When Vasudev first saw the Lord, he saw a four-armed form of Viṣṇu. That Viṣṇu form gave Vasudev some advice and then assumed a form like that of an ordinary child. Vasudev carried out the Lord’s orders, and took Him, the child, to Nanda Mahārāj’s home in Gokula.
Devotee: Mahārāj, doesn’t Śrīla Viśvanāth Chakravartī Ṭhākur comment that two Kṛṣṇas appeared at the same time?
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: Yes. At the same time that this four-armed Viṣṇu form appeared before Vasudev, Yaśodā gave birth to a male baby and a female baby. Both of these babies were beside Yaśodā when Vasudev arrived, but Vasudev could not detect that. According to the advice he had received from the Lord, Vasudev placed the baby that was in His arms beside Yaśodā and as soon as he did so, Yaśodā’s male baby absorbed Vasudev’s baby. Vasudev only saw Yaśodā’s female baby, and he took her and put her beside Devakī. Then their cell closed as it was previously. At that time, intimation went to the watchmen, they become conscious, and then they heard the newborn baby crying. At once, they informed Kaṁsa, who came and found that the baby was a girl. He wondered, “Why is this so? A male child must be born to kill me, but a girl has been born. Do the gods also speak lies? What is this?” He asked Vasudev, “Why is the child a girl? Give me explanation.” Vasudev replied, “You can see the child with your own eyes.” Kaṁsa wondered what he should do, and then he took the girl by the legs with his hand as he did with Devakī’s other children previously and thrust the baby onto the stone. As he did so, however, the girl slipped from his hand, flew into the sky, assumed the eight-armed form of Kātyāyanī, and said, “He who will kill you is growing up in Gokula.” Then, she disappeared. Kaṁsa wondered what he should do, and then he engaged many spies to find all of the newborn babies in Vṛndāvan. He first sent Pūtanā to kill Kṛṣṇa. She did her service, but the effect came in the opposite way. Agha, Baka, and all the demons who Kaṁsa secretly engaged in trying to kill Kṛṣṇa ended up failing in this way.