Ankiyā Nāt: The Plot Summaries of Sankaradeva's Plays
The Kāli Damana (Taming of the Kāli Serpent)
The story of this play occurs in the Visnu Purāna, Hari Vamsa and the Bhāgavata (X.15-17). Sankaradeva follows the Bhāgavata.
One day, Krishna along with his companions of cowherd-boys happened to come with their cattle to the bank of the Kālindi pool. There a very venomous snake, the Kāli Nāga, a huge hydra-like monster, lived and rendered its water poisonous. The cowherd-boys and their cattle, pinched with thirst, drank this water and all died.
Krishna at first bewailed their loss, but eventually restored them to life. He resolved to punish the snake and with that object in view, climbed up the Kadamba tree on the bank and from its top jumped into the pool. He began to stir and agitate its water violently. This attracted the enraged snake to the surface. Kāli bit Krishna in anger and held Him in a firm grip of the coil of its tail. Krishna lay there motionless as if dead. The news of this soon reached Gokula and Krishna's parents, the cowherdesses and others who rushed to the spot weeping.
After a while, Krishna extricated Himself with a violent jerk and standing on the expanded hoods of Kāli began a cosmic dance. Kāliya was overpowered in a moment bleeding through mouth and nose. Then his wives and children appeared and prayed for mercy. Kāli himself bowed down at Krishna's feet and began a prayer. Krishna thereupon left him and directed him to leave the pool and proceed to the Ramanaka island. After this Krishna joined His parents and others on the shore. As evening approached, they all decided to pass the night in the forest of Vrindāvana. But at the dead of the night, a forest fire raged and spread round them. To save His parents and others, Krishna swallowed the fire and then all went home safe.