The Deliverance of Śālva
After talking with his charioteer, the son of Dāruka, Pradyumna could understand the real circumstances. Therefore he refreshed himself by washing his mouth and hands, and after arming himself properly with bows and arrows, he asked his charioteer to take him near the place where Śālva’s commander in chief was standing. During the short absence of Pradyumna from the battlefield, Dyumān, Śālva’s commander in chief, had been taking over the positions of the soldiers of the Yadu dynasty. Appearing on the battlefield, Pradyumna immediately stopped him and, smiling, shot eight arrows at him: with four arrows he killed Dyumān’s four horses, and with one arrow his chariot driver, with another arrow he cut his bow in two, with another he cut his flag to pieces, and with the last he severed his head from his body.
On the other fronts, heroes like Gada, Sātyaki and Sāmba were killing the soldiers of Śālva. The soldiers staying with Śālva in the airplane were also killed in the fighting, and they fell into the ocean. Each party began to strike the opposite party very severely in a fierce, dangerous battle that continued for twenty-seven days without stopping.
While the fight was going on in the city of Dvārakā, Kṛṣṇa was staying at Indraprastha with the Pāṇḍavas and King Yudhiṣṭhira. This fighting with Śālva took place after the Rājasūya-yajña had been performed by King Yudhiṣṭhira and after the killing of Śiśupāla. When Lord Kṛṣṇa understood that there was great danger in the city of Dvārakā, He took permission from the elder members of the Pāṇḍava family, especially from His aunt Kuntīdevī, and started immediately for Dvārakā.
Lord Kṛṣṇa began to think that while He was staying in Hastināpura with Balarāma after the killing of Śiśupāla, Śiśupāla’s men must have attacked Dvārakā. On reaching Dvārakā, Lord Kṛṣṇa saw that the whole city was greatly endangered. He placed Balarāmajī in a strategic position for the protection of the city, and He Himself asked His charioteer, Dāruka, to prepare to start. He said, “Dāruka, please immediately take Me to where Śālva is staying. You may know that this Śālva is a very powerful, mysterious man. Don’t fear him in the least.” As soon as he got his orders from Lord Kṛṣṇa, Dāruka had Him seated on the chariot and drove very quickly toward Śālva.
The chariot of Lord Kṛṣṇa was marked with the flag bearing the insignia of Garuḍa, and as soon as the soldiers and warriors of the Yadu dynasty saw the flag, they could understand that Lord Kṛṣṇa was on the battlefield. By this time, almost all the soldiers of Śālva had been killed, but when Śālva saw that Kṛṣṇa had come to the battlefield, he released a great, powerful weapon, which flew through the sky with a roaring sound like a great meteor. It was so bright that the whole sky was lit up by its presence. But as soon as Lord Kṛṣṇa appeared, He tore the great weapon into hundreds and thousands of pieces by releasing His own arrows.
Lord Kṛṣṇa struck Śālva with sixteen arrows, and with showers of arrows He overpowered the airplane, just as the sun in a clear sky overpowers the whole sky by an unlimited number of molecules of sunshine. Śālva struck a severe blow to Kṛṣṇa’s left side, where the Lord carried His bow, Śārṅga, and as a result the Śārṅga bow fell from Lord Kṛṣṇa’s hand. This dropping of the bow was indeed wonderful. Great personalities and demigods who were observing the fighting between Śālva and Kṛṣṇa were most perturbed by this, and they exclaimed, “Alas! Alas!”
Śālva thought that he had become victorious, and with a roaring sound he addressed Lord Kṛṣṇa as follows: “You rascal, Kṛṣṇa! You kidnapped Rukmiṇī forcibly, even in our presence. You baffled my friend Śiśupāla and married Rukmiṇī Yourself. And in the great assembly at King Yudhiṣṭhira’s Rājasūya-yajña, while my friend Śiśupāla was a little absent-minded, You took an opportunity to kill him. Everyone thinks that You are a great fighter and that no one can conquer You. So now You’ll have to prove Your strength. I think that if You stand before me any longer, with my sharp arrows I shall send You to a place wherefrom You will never return.”
To this Lord Kṛṣṇa replied, “Foolish Śālva, you are talking nonsensically. You do not know that the moment of death is already upon your head. Actual heroes do not talk much. They prove their prowess by practical exhibition of chivalrous activities.” After saying this, Lord Kṛṣṇa, in great anger, struck Śālva on the collarbone with His club so severely that Śālva began to vomit blood and tremble as if he were going to collapse from severe cold. Before Kṛṣṇa was able to strike him again, however, Śālva became invisible by his mystic power.
Within a few moments, a mysterious, unknown man came before Lord Kṛṣṇa. Crying loudly, he bowed down at the Lord’s lotus feet and said to Him, “Since You are the most beloved son of Your father, Vasudeva, Your mother, Devakī, has sent me to inform You of the unfortunate news that Śālva has arrested Your father and taken him away by force, just as a butcher mercilessly takes away an animal.” When Lord Kṛṣṇa heard this unfortunate news from the unknown man, He at first became most perturbed, just like an ordinary human being. His face showed signs of grief, and He began to cry in a piteous tone, “How could that happen? My brother, Lord Balarāma, is there, and it is impossible for anyone to conquer Balarāmajī. He is in charge of Dvārakā City, and I know He is always alert. How could Śālva possibly enter the city and arrest My father in that way? Whatever Śālva may be, his power is limited, so how could it be possible that he has conquered the strength of Balarāmajī and taken away My father, arresting him as described by this man? Alas! Destiny is, after all, very powerful.”
While Śrī Kṛṣṇa was thinking like this, Śālva brought before Him in custody a man exactly resembling Vasudeva, His father. These were all creations of the mystic power of Śālva.
Śālva addressed Kṛṣṇa, “You rascal, Kṛṣṇa! Look. This is Your father, who has begotten You and by whose mercy You are still living. Now just see how I kill Your father. If You have any strength, try to save him.” The mystic juggler Śālva, speaking in this way before Lord Kṛṣṇa, immediately cut off the head of the false Vasudeva. Then without hesitation he took away the dead body and got into his airplane. Lord Kṛṣṇa is the self-sufficient Supreme Personality of Godhead, yet because He was playing the role of a human being, He became very depressed for a moment, as if He had actually lost His father. But at the next moment He could understand that the arrest and killing of His father were demonstrations of the mystic powers which Śālva had learned from the demon Maya. Coming to His right consciousness, He could see that there was no messenger and no head of His father but that Śālva had left in his airplane, which was flying in the sky. He then began to think of slaying Śālva.
Kṛṣṇa’s reaction is a controversial point among great authorities and saintly persons. How could Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the reservoir of all power and knowledge, be bewildered in such a way? Lamentation, aggrievement and bewilderment are characteristics of conditioned souls, but how can such things affect the person of the Supreme, who is full of knowledge, power and all opulence? Actually, it is not at all possible that Lord Kṛṣṇa was misled by the mystic jugglery of Śālva. He was displaying His pastime in playing the role of a human being. Great saintly persons and sages who are engaged in the devotional service of the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa and who have thus achieved the greatest perfection of self-realization have transcended the bewilderments of the bodily concept of life. Lord Kṛṣṇa is the ultimate goal of life for such saintly persons. How then could Kṛṣṇa have been bewildered by the mystic jugglery of Śālva? The conclusion is that Lord Kṛṣṇa’s bewilderment was another opulence of His supreme personality.
When Śālva thought that Kṛṣṇa had been bewildered by his mystic representations, he became encouraged and began to attack the Lord with greater strength and energy by showering volleys of arrows upon Him. But the enthusiasm of Śālva can be compared to the speedy march of moths into a fire. Lord Kṛṣṇa, by hurling His arrows with unfathomable strength, injured Śālva, whose armor, bow and jeweled helmet all scattered in pieces. With a crashing blow from Kṛṣṇa’s club, Śālva’s wonderful airplane burst into pieces and fell into the sea. Śālva was very careful, and instead of crashing with the airplane, he managed to jump onto the land. He again rushed toward Lord Kṛṣṇa. When Śālva ran swiftly to attack Kṛṣṇa with his club, Lord Kṛṣṇa cut off his hand, which fell to the ground with the club. Finally deciding to kill him, the Lord took up His wonderful disc, which shone like the brilliant sun at the time of the dissolution of the material creation. When Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa stood up with His disc to kill Śālva, He appeared just like a mountain with the red sun rising over it. Lord Kṛṣṇa then cut off Śālva’s head, and the head, with its earrings and helmet, fell to the ground. Śālva was thus killed in the same way that Vṛtrāsura was killed by Indra, the king of heaven.
When Śālva was killed, all his soldiers and followers cried, “Alas! Alas!” While Śālva’s men were thus crying, the demigods from the heavenly planets showered flowers on Kṛṣṇa and announced the victory by beating drums and blowing bugles. At that very moment, other friends of Śiśupāla, such as Dantavakra, appeared on the scene to fight with Kṛṣṇa and avenge the death of Śiśupāla and others. When Dantavakra appeared before Lord Kṛṣṇa, he was extremely angry.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the seventy-seventh chapter of Kṛṣṇa, “The Deliverance of Śālva.”