Lord Kṛṣṇa Fights with Bāṇāsura
When the four months of the rainy season passed and Aniruddha had still not returned home, all the members of the Yadu family became much perturbed. They could not understand how the boy was missing. Fortunately, one day the great sage Nārada came and informed the family about Aniruddha’s disappearance from the palace. He explained how Aniruddha had been carried to the city of Śoṇitapura, the capital of Bāṇāsura’s empire, and how Bāṇāsura had arrested him with the nāga-pāśa, even though Aniruddha had defeated his soldiers. This news was given in detail by Nārada, and the whole story was disclosed. Then the members of the Yadu dynasty, all of whom had great affection for Kṛṣṇa, prepared to attack the city of Śoṇitapura. Practically all the leaders of the family, including Pradyumna, Sātyaki, Gada, Sāmba, Sāraṇa, Nanda, Upananda and Bhadra, combined together and gathered twelve akṣauhiṇī military divisions into phalanxes. Then they all went to Śoṇitapura and surrounded it with soldiers, elephants, horses and chariots.
Bāṇāsura heard that the soldiers of the Yadu dynasty were attacking the whole city, tearing down various walls, gates and nearby gardens. Becoming very angry, he immediately ordered his soldiers, who were of equal caliber, to go and face them. Lord Śiva was so kind to Bāṇāsura that he personally came as the commander in chief of the military force, assisted by his heroic sons Kārttikeya and Gaṇapati. Nandīśvara, Lord Śiva, seated on his favorite bull, led the fighting against Lord Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. We can simply imagine how fierce the fighting was – Lord Śiva with his valiant sons on one side, and Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His elder brother, Śrī Balarāmajī, on the other. The fighting was so fierce that those who saw the battle were struck with wonder, and the hairs on their bodies stood up. Lord Śiva was engaged in fighting directly with Lord Kṛṣṇa, Pradyumna was engaged with Kārttikeya, and Lord Balarāma was engaged with Bāṇāsura’s commander in chief, Kumbhāṇḍa, who was assisted by Kūpakarṇa. Sāmba, the son of Kṛṣṇa, fought the son of Bāṇāsura, and Bāṇāsura fought Sātyaki, commander in chief of the Yadu dynasty. In this way the fighting was waged.
News of the fighting spread all over the universe. Demigods such as Lord Brahmā, from higher planetary systems, along with great sages and saintly persons, Siddhas, Cāraṇas and Gandharvas, all being very curious to see the fight between Lord Śiva and Lord Kṛṣṇa and their assistants, hovered over the battlefield in their airplanes. Lord Śiva is called Bhūta-nātha, because he is assisted by various types of powerful ghosts and denizens of the inferno – Bhūtas, Pretas, Pramathas, Guhyakas, Ḍākinīs, Piśācas, Kuṣmāṇḍas, Vetālas, Vināyakas and Brahma-rākṣasas. (Of all kinds of ghosts, the Brahma-rākṣasas are the most powerful. They are brāhmaṇas who after death have entered the ghostly species of life.)
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, simply drove all these ghosts away from the battlefield with the arrows from His celebrated bow, Śārṅga-dhanur. Lord Śiva then began to release all his selected weapons against the Personality of Godhead. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, without any difficulty, counteracted all these weapons with counterweapons. He counteracted the brahmāstra, similar to the atomic bomb, with another brahmāstra, and an air weapon with a mountain weapon. When Lord Śiva released a particular weapon bringing about a violent hurricane on the battlefield, Lord Kṛṣṇa presented just the opposing element, a mountain weapon, which checked the hurricane on the spot. Similarly, when Lord Śiva released his weapon of devastating fire, Kṛṣṇa counteracted it with torrents of rain.
At last, when Lord Śiva released his personal weapon, the Pāśupata-astra, Kṛṣṇa immediately counteracted it with the Nārāyaṇa-astra. Lord Śiva then became exasperated in fighting with Lord Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa then took the opportunity to release His yawning weapon. When this weapon is released, the opposing party becomes tired, stops fighting and begins to yawn. Consequently, Lord Śiva became so fatigued that he refused to fight anymore and began yawning. Kṛṣṇa was now able to turn His attention from the attack of Lord Śiva to the efforts of Bāṇāsura, and He began to kill Bāṇāsura’s personal soldiers with swords and clubs. Meanwhile, Lord Kṛṣṇa’s son Pradyumna was fighting fiercely with Kārttikeya, the commander in chief of the demigods. Kārttikeya was wounded, and his body was bleeding profusely. In this condition, he left the battlefield and, without fighting anymore, rode away on the back of his peacock carrier. Similarly, Lord Balarāma smashed Bāṇāsura’s commander in chief, Kumbhāṇḍa, with the strokes of His club. Kūpakarṇa was also wounded in this way, and both he and Kumbhāṇḍa fell on the battlefield, Kumbhāṇḍa being fatally wounded. Without guidance, all of Bāṇāsura’s soldiers scattered here and there.
When Bāṇāsura saw that his soldiers and commanders had been defeated, his anger only increased. He thought it wise to stop fighting with Sātyaki, Kṛṣṇa’s commander in chief, and instead directly attack Lord Kṛṣṇa. Now having the opportunity to use his one thousand arms, he rushed toward Kṛṣṇa, simultaneously working five hundred bows and two thousand arrows. Such a foolish person could never measure Kṛṣṇa’s strength. Immediately, without difficulty, Kṛṣṇa cut each of Bāṇāsura’s bows into two pieces and, to check him from going further, made the horses of his chariot lie on the ground so that the chariot broke to pieces. After doing this, Kṛṣṇa blew His conch shell, Pāñcajanya.
There was a demigoddess named Koṭarā who was worshiped by Bāṇāsura, and their relationship was as mother and son. Mother Koṭarā was upset that Bāṇāsura’s life was in danger, so she appeared on the scene. With naked body and scattered hair, she stood before Lord Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Kṛṣṇa did not like the sight of this naked woman, and to avoid seeing her He turned His face. Bāṇāsura, getting this chance to escape Kṛṣṇa’s attack, left the battlefield. All the strings of his bows had been broken, and there was no chariot or driver, so he had no alternative but to return to his city. He lost everything in the battle.
Being greatly harassed by the arrows of Kṛṣṇa, all the associates of Lord Śiva – the hobgoblins and ghostly Bhūtas, Pretas and kṣatriyas – left the battlefield. Lord Śiva then took to his last resort. He released his greatest death weapon, known as the Śiva-jvara, which destroys by excessive heat. It is said that at the end of creation the sun becomes twelve times more scorching than usual. This twelve-times-hotter temperature is called Śiva-jvara. When the Śiva-jvara personified was released, he had three heads and three legs, and as he came toward Kṛṣṇa it appeared that he was burning everything to ashes. He was so powerful that he made blazing fire appear in all directions, and Kṛṣṇa observed that he was specifically coming toward Him.
As there is a Śiva-jvara weapon, there is also a Nārāyaṇa-jvara weapon, which is represented by excessive cold. When there is excessive heat, one can somehow or other tolerate it, but when there is excessive cold, everything collapses. This is actually experienced by a person at the time of death. At the time of death, the temperature of the body first of all increases to 107 degrees Fahrenheit, and then the whole body collapses and immediately becomes as cold as ice. To counteract the scorching heat of the Śiva-jvara, there is no other weapon but the Nārāyaṇa-jvara.
Therefore, when Lord Kṛṣṇa saw that the Śiva-jvara had been released by Lord Śiva, He had no recourse other than to release the Nārāyaṇa-jvara. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the original Nārāyaṇa and the controller of the Nārāyaṇa-jvara weapon. When the Nārāyaṇa-jvara was released, there was a great fight between the two jvaras. When excessive heat is counteracted by extreme cold, it is natural for the hot temperature to gradually reduce, and this is what occurred in the fight between the Śiva-jvara and the Nārāyaṇa-jvara. Gradually, the Śiva-jvara’s temperature diminished, and the Śiva-jvara began to cry for help from Lord Śiva, but Lord Śiva was unable to help him in the presence of the Nārāyaṇa-jvara. Unable to get any help from Lord Śiva, the Śiva-jvara could understand that he had no means of escape outside of surrendering unto Nārāyaṇa, Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself. Lord Śiva, the greatest of the demigods, could not help him, what to speak of the lesser demigods, and therefore the Śiva-jvara ultimately surrendered unto Kṛṣṇa, bowing before Him and offering a prayer so that the Lord might be pleased and give him protection.
This incident of the fight between the ultimate weapons of Lord Śiva and Lord Kṛṣṇa proves that if Kṛṣṇa gives someone protection no one can kill him and if Kṛṣṇa does not give one protection no one can save him. Lord Śiva is called Mahādeva, the greatest of all the demigods, although sometimes Lord Brahmā is considered the greatest of all the demigods because he can create. However, Lord Śiva can annihilate the creations of Brahmā. Still, both Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva act only in one capacity: Lord Brahmā can create, and Lord Śiva can annihilate. But neither of them can maintain. Lord Viṣṇu, however, not only maintains but creates and annihilates also. Factually, the creation is not effected by Brahmā, because Brahmā himself is created by Lord Viṣṇu. And Lord Śiva is created, or born, of Brahmā. The Śiva-jvara thus understood that without Kṛṣṇa, or Nārāyaṇa, no one could help him. He therefore rightly took shelter of Lord Kṛṣṇa and, with folded hands, began to pray as follows.
“My dear Lord, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You because You have unlimited potencies. No one can surpass Your potencies, and thus You are the Lord of everyone. Generally people consider Lord Śiva the most powerful personality in the material world, but Lord Śiva is not all-powerful; You are all-powerful. This is factual. You are the original consciousness, or knowledge. Without knowledge, or consciousness, nothing can be powerful. A material thing may be very powerful, but without the touch of consciousness it cannot act. A material machine may be gigantic and wonderful, but without the touch of someone conscious and in knowledge, the material machine is useless for all purposes. My Lord, You are complete knowledge, and there is not a pinch of material contamination in Your personality. Lord Śiva may be a powerful demigod because of his specific power to annihilate the whole creation, and, similarly, Lord Brahmā may be very powerful because he can create the entire universe, but actually neither Brahmā nor Lord Śiva is the original cause of this cosmic manifestation. You are the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Brahman, and You are the original cause. The original cause of the cosmic manifestation is not the impersonal Brahman effulgence. That impersonal Brahman effulgence rests on Your personality.” As confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā, the cause of the impersonal Brahman is Lord Kṛṣṇa. This Brahman effulgence is likened to the sunshine, which emanates from the sun globe. Therefore, impersonal Brahman is not the ultimate cause. The ultimate cause of everything is the supreme eternal form of Kṛṣṇa. All material actions and reactions take place in the impersonal Brahman, but in the personal Brahman, the eternal form of Kṛṣṇa, there is no action and reaction.
The Śiva-jvara continued: “Therefore, my Lord, Your body is completely peaceful, completely blissful and devoid of material contamination. In the material body there are actions and reactions of the three modes of material nature. The time factor is the most important element, above all others, because the material manifestation is effected by the agitation of time. Thus natural phenomena come into existence, and as soon as phenomena appear, fruitive activities are visible. As the result of these fruitive activities, a living entity takes his form. He acquires a particular nature packed up in a subtle body and gross body formed by the life air, the ego, the ten sense organs, the mind and the five gross elements. These then create the type of body which later becomes the root cause of various other bodies, which are acquired one after another by means of the transmigration of the soul. All these phenomenal manifestations are the combined actions of Your material energy. You, however, are the cause of this external energy, and thus You remain unaffected by the action and reaction of the different elements. And because You are transcendental to such compulsions of material energy, You are the supreme tranquillity. You are the last word in freedom from material contamination. I therefore take shelter at Your lotus feet, giving up all other shelter.
“My dear Lord, Your appearance as the son of Vasudeva in Your role as a human being is one of the pastimes of Your complete freedom. To benefit Your devotees and vanquish the nondevotees, You appear in multi-incarnations. All such incarnations descend in fulfillment of Your promise in the Bhagavad-gītā that You appear as soon as there are discrepancies in the system of progressive life. When there are disturbances by irregular principles, my dear Lord, You appear by Your internal potency. Your main business is to protect and maintain the demigods and spiritually inclined persons and to maintain the standard of material law and order. Considering Your mission of maintaining such law and order, Your violence toward the miscreants and demons is quite befitting. This is not the first time You have incarnated; it is to be understood that You have done so many, many times before.
“My dear Lord, I beg to submit that I have been very greatly chastised by the release of Your Nārāyaṇa-jvara, which is certainly very cooling yet at the same time severely dangerous and unbearable for all of us. My dear Lord, as long as one is forgetful of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, driven by the spell of material desires and ignorant of the ultimate shelter at Your lotus feet, one who has accepted this material body becomes disturbed by the three miserable conditions of material nature. Because one does not surrender unto You, he continues to suffer perpetually.”
After hearing the Śiva-jvara, Lord Kṛṣṇa replied, “O three-headed one, I am pleased with your statement. Be assured that there will be no more suffering for you from the Nārāyaṇa-jvara. Not only are you now free from fear of the Nārāyaṇa-jvara, but anyone in the future who simply recollects this fight between you and the Nārāyaṇa-jvara will also be freed from all kinds of fear.” After hearing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Śiva-jvara offered respectful obeisances unto His lotus feet and left.
In the meantime, Bāṇāsura somehow or other recovered from his setbacks and, with rejuvenated energy, returned to fight. This time Bāṇāsura appeared before Lord Kṛṣṇa, who was seated on His chariot, with different kinds of weapons in his one thousand hands. Very much agitated, Bāṇāsura splashed his different weapons upon the body of Lord Kṛṣṇa like torrents of rain. When Lord Kṛṣṇa saw the weapons of Bāṇāsura coming at Him, like water coming out of a strainer, He took His sharp-edged Sudarśana disc and began to cut off the demon’s one thousand arms, one after another, just as a gardener trims the twigs of a tree with sharp cutters. When Lord Śiva saw that his devotee Bāṇāsura could not be saved even in his presence, he came to his senses and personally came before Lord Kṛṣṇa and began to pacify Him by offering the following prayers.
Lord Śiva said, “My dear Lord, You are the worshipable object of the Vedic hymns. One who does not know You considers the impersonal brahma-jyotir to be the ultimate Supreme Absolute Truth, without knowledge that You exist behind Your spiritual effulgence in Your eternal abode. My dear Lord, You are therefore called Para-brahman. Indeed, the words paraṁ brahman have been used in the Bhagavad-gītā to identify You. Saintly persons who have completely cleansed their hearts of all material contamination can realize Your transcendental form, although You are all-pervading like the sky, unaffected by any material thing. Only the devotees can realize You, and no one else. In the impersonalists’ conception of Your supreme existence, the sky is just like Your navel, fire is Your mouth, and water is Your semen. The heavenly planets are Your head, all the directions are Your ears, the earth (Urvī) is Your lotus feet, the moon is Your mind, and the sun is Your eye. As far as I am concerned, I act as Your ego. The ocean is Your abdomen, and the king of heaven, Indra, is Your arm. Trees and plants are the hairs on Your body, the clouds are the hair on Your head, and Lord Brahmā is Your intelligence. All the great progenitors, known as Prajāpatis, are Your symbolic representatives. And religion is Your heart. The impersonal feature of Your supreme body is conceived of in this way, but You are ultimately the Supreme Person. The impersonal feature of Your supreme body is only a small expansion of Your energy. You are likened to the original fire, and Your expansions are its light and heat.”
Lord Śiva continued: “My dear Lord, since You are manifested universally, the different parts of the universe are the different parts of Your body, and by Your inconceivable potency You can simultaneously be both localized and universal. In the Brahma-saṁhitā we also find it stated that although You always remain in Your abode, Goloka Vṛndāvana, You are present everywhere. As stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, You appear in order to protect the devotees, and thus Your appearance indicates good fortune for all the universe. All of the demigods are directing different affairs of the universe by Your grace only. Thus the seven upper planetary systems are maintained by Your grace. At the end of this creation, all manifestations of Your energies, whether in the shape of demigods, human beings or lower animals, enter into You, and all immediate and remote causes of the cosmic manifestation rest in You without distinctive features of existence. Ultimately, there is no possibility of distinction between You and any other thing on an equal level with You or subordinate to You. You are simultaneously the cause of this cosmic manifestation and its ingredients as well. You are the Supreme Whole, one without a second. In the phenomenal manifestation there are three stages: the stage of consciousness, the stage of semiconsciousness in dreaming, and the stage of unconsciousness. But Your Lordship is transcendental to all these different material stages of existence. You exist, therefore, in a fourth dimension, and Your appearance and disappearance do not depend on anything beyond Yourself. You are the supreme cause of everything, but of You there is no cause. You Yourself cause Your own appearance and disappearance. Despite Your transcendental position, my Lord, in order to show Your six opulences and advertise Your transcendental qualities, You have appeared in Your different incarnations – fish, tortoise, boar, Nṛsiṁha, Keśava and others – by Your personal manifestation; and You have appeared as different living entities by Your separated manifestations. By Your internal potency You appear as the different incarnations of Viṣṇu, and by Your external potency You appear as the phenomenal world.
“On a cloudy day, to the common man’s eyes the sun appears to be covered. But the fact is that because the sunshine creates the cloud, the sun can never actually be covered, even though the whole sky may be cloudy. Similarly, less intelligent men claim that there is no God, but when the manifestation of different living entities and their activities is visible, enlightened persons see You present in every atom through the medium of Your external and marginal energies. Your unlimitedly potent activities are experienced by the most enlightened devotees, but those who are bewildered by the spell of Your external energy identify themselves with this material world and become attached to society, friendship and love. Thus they embrace the threefold miseries of material existence and are subjected to the dualities of pain and pleasure, sometimes drowning in the ocean of attachment and sometimes being taken out of it.
“My dear Lord, only by Your mercy and grace can the living entity get the human form of life, which is a chance to get out of the miserable condition of material existence. However, a person who possesses a human body but who cannot bring his senses under control is carried away by the waves of sensual enjoyment. As such, he cannot take shelter of Your lotus feet and thus engage in Your devotional service. The life of such a person is very unfortunate, and anyone living such a life of darkness is certainly cheating himself and thus cheating others also. Therefore, human society without Kṛṣṇa consciousness is a society of cheaters and the cheated.
“My Lord, You are actually the dearmost Supersoul of all living entities and the supreme controller of everything. The human being who is always illusioned is afraid of ultimate death. A man who is simply attached to sensual enjoyment voluntarily accepts the miserable material existence and thus wanders after the will-o’-the-wisp of sense pleasure. He is certainly the most foolish man, for he drinks poison and puts aside the nectar. My dear Lord, all the demigods, including myself and Lord Brahmā, as well as great saintly persons and sages who have cleansed their hearts of material attachment, have, by Your grace, wholeheartedly taken shelter of Your lotus feet. We have all taken shelter of You because we have accepted You as the Supreme Lord and the dearmost life and soul of all of us. You are the original cause of this cosmic manifestation, You are its supreme maintainer, and You are the cause of its dissolution also. You are equal to everyone, the most peaceful supreme friend of every living entity. You are the supreme worshipable object for every one of us. My dear Lord, let us always be engaged in Your transcendental loving service so that we may get free from this material entanglement.
“Finally, my Lord, I may inform You that this Bāṇāsura is very dear to me. He has rendered valuable service unto me; therefore I want to see him always happy. Being pleased with him, I have assured him safety. I pray to You, my Lord, that as You were pleased with his forefathers King Prahlāda and Bali Mahārāja, You will also be pleased with him.”
After hearing Lord Śiva’s prayer, Lord Kṛṣṇa replied, “My dear Lord Śiva, I accept your statements, and I also accept your desire for Bāṇāsura. I know that this Bāṇāsura is the son of Bali Mahārāja, and as such I cannot kill him, for that is My promise. I gave a benediction to King Prahlāda that the demons who would appear in his family would never be killed by Me. Therefore, without killing this Bāṇāsura, I have simply cut off his arms to deprive him of his false prestige. The large number of soldiers he was maintaining became a burden on this earth, and I have killed them all to minimize the burden. Now he has four remaining arms, and he will remain immortal, unaffected by material pains and pleasures. I know that he is one of the chief devotees of Your Lordship, so you can now rest assured that henceforward he need have no fear of anything.”
When Bāṇāsura was blessed by Lord Kṛṣṇa in this way, he came before the Lord and bowed down before Him, touching his head to the earth. Bāṇāsura immediately arranged to have his daughter Ūṣā seated with Aniruddha on a nice chariot, and then he presented them before Lord Kṛṣṇa. After this, Lord Kṛṣṇa took charge of Aniruddha and Ūṣā, who had become very opulent materially because of the blessings of Lord Śiva. Thus, keeping forward a division of one akṣauhiṇī of soldiers, Kṛṣṇa proceeded toward Dvārakā. In the meantime, all the people of Dvārakā, having received the news that Lord Kṛṣṇa was returning with Aniruddha and Ūṣā in great opulence, decorated every corner of the city with flags, festoons and garlands. All the big roads and crossings were carefully cleansed and sprinkled with sandalwood pulp mixed with water. Everywhere was the fragrance of sandalwood. All the citizens joined with their friends and relatives to welcome Lord Kṛṣṇa with great pomp and jubilation, and a tumultuous vibration of conch shells, drums and bugles received the Lord. In this way the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, entered His capital, Dvārakā.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī assured King Parīkṣit that the narration of the fight between Lord Śiva and Lord Kṛṣṇa is not at all inauspicious, like ordinary fights. On the contrary, if one remembers in the morning the narration of this fight between Lord Kṛṣṇa and Lord Śiva and takes pleasure in the victory of Lord Kṛṣṇa, he will never experience defeat anywhere in his struggle of life.
This episode of Bāṇāsura’s fighting with Kṛṣṇa and later being saved by the grace of Lord Śiva is confirmation of the statement in the Bhagavad-gītā that the worshipers of demigods cannot achieve any benediction without its being sanctioned by the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa. Here in this narration we find that although Bāṇāsura was a great devotee of Lord Śiva, when he faced death by Kṛṣṇa, Lord Śiva was not able to save him. But Lord Śiva appealed to Kṛṣṇa to save his devotee, and this was sanctioned by the Lord. This is the position of Lord Kṛṣṇa. The exact words used in this connection in the Bhagavad-gītā are mayaiva vihitān hi tān. This means that without the sanction of the Supreme Lord, no demigod can award any benediction to his worshiper.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the sixty-third chapter of Kṛṣṇa, “Lord Kṛṣṇa Fights with Bāṇāsura.”