The Breaking of the Bow in the Sacrificial Arena
After leaving the florist’s place, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma saw a hunchbacked young woman carrying a dish of sandalwood pulp through the streets. Since Kṛṣṇa is the reservoir of all pleasure, He wanted to make all His companions joyous by cutting a joke with the hunchbacked woman. Kṛṣṇa addressed her, “O tall young woman, who are you? Tell Me, for whom are you carrying this sandalwood pulp in your hand? I think you should offer this sandalwood to Me, and if you do so I am sure you will be fortunate.” Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He knew everything about the hunchback. By His inquiry He indicated that there was no use in serving a demon; she would do better to serve Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma and get an immediate result of the service.
The woman replied to Kṛṣṇa, “My dear Śyāmasundara, dear beautiful dark boy, You may know that I am engaged as a maidservant of Kaṁsa. I am supplying him pulp of sandalwood daily. The king is very much pleased with me for supplying this nice thing, but now I see that there is no one who can better be served by this pulp of sandalwood than You two brothers.” Being captivated by the beautiful features of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, Their talking, Their smiling, Their glancing and Their other activities, the hunchbacked woman began to smear all the pulp of sandalwood over Their bodies with great satisfaction and devotion. The two transcendental brothers, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, were naturally beautiful and had beautiful complexions, and They were nicely dressed in colorful garments. The upper portions of Their bodies were already very attractive, and when the hunchbacked woman smeared Their bodies with sandalwood pulp, They looked even more beautiful. Kṛṣṇa was very much pleased by this service, and He began to consider how to reward her. In other words, in order to draw the attention of the Lord, the Kṛṣṇa conscious devotee has to serve Him in great love and devotion. Kṛṣṇa cannot be pleased by any action other than transcendental loving service unto Him. Thinking like this, Lord Kṛṣṇa pressed the feet of the hunchbacked woman with His toes and, capturing her cheeks with His fingers, gave her a jerk in order to make her straight. At once the hunchbacked woman became a beautiful straight girl, with broad hips, thin waist and very nice, well-shaped breasts. Since Kṛṣṇa was pleased with the service of the hunchbacked woman, and since she was touched by Kṛṣṇa’s hands, she became the most beautiful girl among women. This incident shows that by serving Kṛṣṇa the devotee immediately becomes elevated to the most exalted position in all respects. Devotional service is so potent that anyone who takes to it becomes qualified with all godly qualities. Kṛṣṇa was attracted to the hunchbacked woman not for her beauty but for her service; as soon as she rendered service, she immediately became the most beautiful woman. A Kṛṣṇa conscious person does not have to be qualified or beautiful; after becoming Kṛṣṇa conscious and rendering service unto Kṛṣṇa, he becomes very much qualified and beautiful.
When the woman was turned by Kṛṣṇa’s favor into an exquisitely beautiful young girl, she naturally felt very much obliged to Kṛṣṇa, and she was also attracted by His beauty. Without hesitation, she caught the rear part of His cloth and began to pull it. She smiled flirtatiously and admitted that she was agitated by lusty desires. She forgot that she was on the street and before the elder brother of Kṛṣṇa and His friends.
She frankly proposed to Kṛṣṇa, “My dear hero, I cannot leave You in this way. You must come to my place. I am already very much attracted to Your beauty, so I must receive You well, and since You are the best among males, You must also be very kind upon me.” In plain words she proposed that Kṛṣṇa come to her home and satisfy her lusty desires. Kṛṣṇa, of course, felt a little bit embarrassed in front of His elder brother, Balarāma, but He knew that the girl was simple and attracted; therefore He simply smiled at her words. Looking toward His cowherd boyfriends, He replied to the girl, “My dear beautiful girl, I am very much pleased by your invitation, and I must come to your home after finishing My other business here. Such a beautiful girl as you are the only means of solace for persons like Us, who are away from home and not married. Certainly, a suitable girlfriend like you can give Us relief from all kinds of mental agitation.” Kṛṣṇa satisfied the girl in this way with sweet words. Leaving her there, He proceeded down the street of the marketplace, where the citizens were prepared to receive Him with various kinds of presentations, especially betel nuts, flowers and sandalwood pulp.
The mercantile men in the market worshiped Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma with great respect. When Kṛṣṇa was passing through the street, all the women in the surrounding houses came to see Him, and some of the younger ones almost fainted, being captivated by His beauty. Their hair and tight clothing loosened, and they forgot where they were standing.
Kṛṣṇa next inquired from the citizens as to the location of the place of sacrifice. Kaṁsa had arranged for the sacrifice called Dhanur-yajña, and to designate this particular sacrifice he had placed a big bow near the sacrificial altar. The bow was very big and wonderful and resembled a rainbow in the sky. Within the sacrificial arena, this bow was protected by many constables and watchmen engaged by King Kaṁsa. As Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma approached the bow, They were warned not to go nearer, but Kṛṣṇa ignored this warning. He forcibly went up and immediately took the big bow in His left hand. After stringing the bow in the presence of the crowd, He drew it and broke it at the middle into two parts, exactly as an elephant breaks sugarcane in the field. Everyone present appreciated Kṛṣṇa’s power. The sound of the bow cracking filled both sky and land and was heard by Kaṁsa. When Kaṁsa heard what had happened, he began to fear for his life. The caretakers of the bow, who were standing by watching, became very angry, and with their respective weapons in hand they rushed toward Kṛṣṇa, shouting, “Arrest Him! Arrest Him! Kill Him! Kill Him!” Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were surrounded. When They understood the sinister motives of the guards, They became angry, and taking up the two pieces of the broken bow, They began to beat down all of Kaṁsa’s caretakers. While this turmoil was going on, Kaṁsa sent a small group of troops to assist the caretakers, but Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma fought with them also and killed them.
After this, Kṛṣṇa did not proceed further into the sacrificial arena but went out the gate and proceeded toward Their resting camp. Along the way, He visited various places in Mathurā City with great delight. Seeing the activities and wonderful prowess of Kṛṣṇa, all the citizens of Mathurā began to consider the two brothers to be demigods who had come down to Mathurā, and they all looked upon Them with great astonishment. The two brothers strolled carefree in the street, not caring for the law and order of Kaṁsa.
As sunset approached, Kṛṣṇa, Balarāma and Their cowherd boyfriends went to the outskirts of the city, where all their carts were assembled. Thus Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma gave some preliminary hints of Their arrival to Kaṁsa, and he could understand what severe type of danger was awaiting him the next day in the sacrificial arena.
When Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma had been going from Vṛndāvana to Mathurā, the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana had imagined the great fortune of the citizens of Mathurā in being able to see the wonderful beauty of Kṛṣṇa, who is worshiped by His pure devotees as well as the goddess of fortune. The fantasies of the residents of Vṛndāvana were now actually realized, for the citizens of Mathurā became fully satisfied by seeing Kṛṣṇa.
When Kṛṣṇa returned to His camp, He was taken care of by servants who washed His lotus feet, gave Him a nice seat and offered Him milk and palatable dishes. After taking supper and thinking of the next day’s program, He very peacefully took rest. Thus He passed the night there.
On the other side, when Kaṁsa came to understand about the breaking of his wonderful bow and the killing of the caretakers and soldiers by Kṛṣṇa, he could partially realize the power of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He could realize that the eighth son of Devakī had appeared and that now his death was imminent. Thinking of his imminent death, he was restless the entire night. He began to have many inauspicious visions, and he could understand that Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, who had approached the precincts of the city, were his messengers of death. Kaṁsa saw various kinds of inauspicious signs while both awake and dreaming. When he looked in the mirror he could not see his head, although the head was actually present. He saw the luminaries in the sky in double, although there was only one set factually. He began to see holes in his shadow, and he heard a high buzzing sound within his ears. All the trees before him appeared to be made of gold, and he could not see his own footprints in dust or muddy clay. In dreams he saw various kinds of ghosts being carried in a carriage drawn by donkeys. He also dreamed that someone gave him poison and he was drinking it. He dreamed also that he was going naked with a garland of flowers and was smearing oil all over his body. Thus, as Kaṁsa saw various signs of death while both awake and sleeping, he could understand that death was certain, and thus in great anxiety he could not rest that night. Just after the night expired, he busily arranged for the wrestling match.
The wrestling arena was nicely cleansed and decorated with flags, festoons and flowers, and the match was announced by the beating of kettledrums. The platform appeared very beautiful due to streamers and flags. Different types of galleries were arranged for respectable persons – kings, brāhmaṇas and kṣatriyas. The various kings had reserved thrones, and others had arranged seats also. Kaṁsa finally arrived, accompanied by various ministers and secretaries, and he sat on the raised platform especially meant for him. Unfortunately, although he was sitting in the center of all his governing executive heads, his heart was palpitating in fear of death. Cruel death evidently does not care even for a person as powerful as Kaṁsa. When death comes, it does not care for anyone’s exalted position.
When everything was complete, the wrestlers who were to exhibit their skills before the assembly walked into the arena. They were decorated with nice ornaments and dress. Some of the famous wrestlers were Cāṇūra, Muṣṭika, Śala, Kūṭa and Tośala. Being enlivened by the musical concert, they passed through with great alacrity. All the respectable cowherd men who came from Vṛndāvana, headed by Nanda, were also welcomed by Kaṁsa. After presenting Kaṁsa with the milk products they had brought with them, the cowherd men also took their respective seats by the side of the king, on a platform especially meant for them.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the forty-second chapter of Kṛṣṇa, “The Breaking of the Bow in the Sacrificial Arena.”