Kaliya was the name of a poisonous Naga living in the Yamuna River, in Vrindavan. The water of the Yamuna for four leagues all around him boiled and bubbled with poison. No bird or beast could go near, and only one solitary Kadamba tree grew on the river bank.
The proper home of Kaliya was Ramanaka Dwipa, but he had been driven away from there by fear of Garuda, the foe of all serpents. Garuda had been cursed by a yogi dwelling at Vrindavan so that he could not come to Vrindavan without meeting his death. Therefore Kaliya chose Vrindavan as his residence, knowing it was the only place where Garuda could not come.
Once Krishna and herdboys were playing ball, and while playing Krishna climbed up the Kadamba tree and hung over the river bank, the ball fell into the river and Krishna jumped after it. Kaliya rose up with his hundred and ten hoods vomiting poison and wrapped himself around Krishna’s body. Krishna became so huge that Kaliya had to release him. So Krishna saved himself from every attack, and when he saw the Brij folk were so much afraid he suddenly sprang into Kaliya’s head and assumed the weight of the whole universe, and danced on the naga’s heads, beating time with his feet. Then Kaliya began to die. But then the naga’s wives came and prayed to Krishna with joined palms, worshipping Krishna and praying for their husband.