ब्रह्मादयस्तनुभृतो मिथुरर्द्यमाना: ।
कालस्य ते प्रकृतिपूरुषयो: परस्य
शं नस्तनोतु चरण: पुरुषोत्तमस्य ॥ १४ ॥
brahmādayas tanu-bhṛto mithur ardyamānāḥ
kālasya te prakṛti-pūruṣayoḥ parasya
śaṁ nas tanotu caraṇaḥ puruṣottamasya
nasi — through the nose; ota — strung; gāvaḥ — oxen; iva — as if; yasya — of whose; vaśe — under the control; bhavanti — they exist; brahma-ādayaḥ — Brahmā and all others; tanu-bhṛtaḥ — the embodied living beings; mithuḥ — among each other; ardyamānāḥ — struggling; kālasya — of the force of time; te — of Yourself; prakṛti-pūruṣayoḥ — both the material nature and the living entity; parasya — who is beyond them; śam — transcendental fortune; naḥ — for us; tanotu — may they spread; caraṇaḥ — the lotus feet; puruṣa-uttamasya — of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the transcendental entity who is superior to both material nature and the enjoyer of nature. May Your lotus feet bestow transcendental pleasure upon us. All of the great demigods, beginning with Brahmā, are embodied living entities. Struggling painfully with one another under the strict control of Your time factor, they are just like bulls dragged by ropes tied through their pierced noses.
Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī states: nanu yuddhe devāsurādayaḥ parasparaṁ jayanti jīyante ca kim ahaṁ tatrety ata āhuḥ, nasīti: mithur mitho ’rdyamānā yuddhādibhiḥ pīḍyamānā brahmādayo ’pi yasya tava vaśe bhavanti na tu jaye parājaye vā svatantrāḥ. “In the perpetual battles between the demigods, or devotees of the Lord, and the demons, or nondevotees, each side sometimes conquers and is sometimes apparently defeated. One may argue that all this has nothing to do with the Personality of Godhead since it is based on nothing more than the interaction of opposing living entities. But every living entity is, however, strictly under the control of the Personality of Godhead, and victory and defeat are always in the hands of the Lord.” This does not contradict the fact of the living entity’s free will, since the Lord awards victory and defeat according to the merit of the living entities. In a legal battle neither the prosecution nor the defense can act independently of the legal system presided over by the authorized judge. Victory and defeat in the court are awarded by the judge, but the judge is acting according to the laws, which do not favor or discriminate against either side.
Similarly, the Personality of Godhead is awarding us the results of our previous activities. In order to discredit God, materialists frequently give the argument that oftentimes innocent people suffer whereas impious rogues enjoy life unimpeded. The fact is, however, that the Personality of Godhead is not a fool, as are the materialistic persons who place such arguments. The Lord can see our many previous lives; therefore He may allow one to enjoy or suffer in this life not only as a result of one’s present activities, but also as a result of one’s previous activities. For example, by working very hard a man may accumulate a fortune. If such a newly rich man then gives up his work and takes to a degenerate life, his fortune does not immediately disappear. On the other hand, one who is destined to become rich may now be working very hard, with discipline and austerity, and yet be without spending money. So a superficial observer might well be confused upon seeing the moral, hard-working man without funds and the degenerate, lazy man in possession of riches. Similarly, a materialistic fool without knowledge of past, present and future is unable to understand the perfect justice of the Personality of Godhead.
The example given in this verse to explain Kṛṣṇa’s controlling power is appropriate. Although a bull is extremely powerful, he is easily controlled by a slight tug on a rope strung through his pierced nose. Similarly, even the most powerful politicians, scholars, demigods, etc., may immediately be put into an unbearable situation by the omnipotent Personality of Godhead. Therefore the demigods have not come to Dvārakā to proudly display their universal political and intellectual powers but to humbly surrender at the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead.