SB 10.63: Lord Kṛṣṇa Fights with Bāṇāsura
This chapter describes the battle between Lord Kṛṣṇa and Lord Śiva, as well as Śiva’s glorification of Kṛṣṇa after the Lord had cut off Bāṇāsura’s arms.
When Aniruddha did not return from Śoṇitapura, His family and friends passed the four months of the rainy season in extreme distress. When they finally heard from Nārada Muni how Aniruddha had been captured, a large army of the best Yādava warriors, under Kṛṣṇa’s protection, set off for Bāṇāsura’s capital and laid siege to it. Bāṇāsura fiercely opposed them with his own army of equal size. To help Bāṇāsura, Lord Śiva, accompanied by Kārtikeya and a horde of mystic sages, took up arms against Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa. Bāṇa began fighting against Sātyaki, and Bāṇa’s son fought against Sāmba. All the demigods assembled in the sky to witness the battle. With His arrows Lord Kṛṣṇa harassed the followers of Lord Śiva, and by putting Lord Śiva into a state of confusion He was able to destroy Bāṇāsura’s army. Kārtikeya was so strongly beaten by Pradyumna that he fled the battlefield, while the remnants of Bāṇāsura’s army, harried by the blows of Lord Balarāma’s club, scattered in all directions.
Enraged to see his army’s destruction, Bāṇāsura rushed Kṛṣṇa to attack Him. But the Lord immediately killed Bāṇa’s chariot driver and broke his chariot and bow, and then He sounded His Pāñcajanya conchshell. Next Bāṇāsura’s mother, trying to save her son, appeared naked in front of Lord Kṛṣṇa, who averted His face to avoid looking at her. Seeing his chance, Bāṇa fled into his city.
After Lord Kṛṣṇa had thoroughly defeated the ghosts and hobgoblins fighting under Lord Śiva, the Śiva-jvara weapon — a personification of fever with three heads and three legs — approached Lord Kṛṣṇa to fight Him. Seeing the Śiva-jvara, Kṛṣṇa released His Viṣṇu-jvara. The Śiva-jvara was overwhelmed by the Viṣṇu-jvara; having nowhere else to turn for shelter, the Śiva-jvara began to address Lord Kṛṣṇa, glorifying Him and asking for mercy. Lord Kṛṣṇa was pleased with the Śiva-jvara, and after the Lord had promised him freedom from fear, the Śiva-jvara bowed down to Him and departed.
Next Bāṇāsura returned and attacked Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa again, wielding all kinds of weapons in his thousand hands. But Lord Kṛṣṇa took His Sudarśana disc and began cutting off all the demon’s arms. Lord Śiva approached Kṛṣṇa to pray for Bāṇāsura’s life, and when the Lord agreed to spare him, He spoke as follows to Śiva: “Bāṇāsura does not deserve to die, since he was born in the family of Prahlāda Mahārāja. I have severed all but four of Bāṇa’s arms just to destroy his false pride, and I have annihilated his army because they were a burden to the earth. Henceforward he will be free from old age and death, and remaining fearless in all circumstances, he will be one of your principal attendants.”
Assured he had nothing to fear, Bāṇāsura then offered his obeisances to Lord Kṛṣṇa and had Ūṣā and Aniruddha seated on their wedding chariot and brought before the Lord. Kṛṣṇa then set off for Dvārakā with Aniruddha and His bride leading the procession. When the newlyweds arrived at the Lord’s capital, they were honored by the citizens, the Lord’s relatives and the brāhmaṇas.
tad-bandhūnāṁ ca bhārata
catvāro vārṣikā māsā
vārtāṁ baddhasya karma ca
gadaḥ sāmbo ’tha sāraṇaḥ
sametāḥ sarvato diśam
sa-sutaḥ pramathair vṛtaḥ
Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī states that the word bhagavān is used here to indicate that Lord Śiva is by nature all-knowing and thus well aware of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s greatness. Still, although Śiva knew Lord Kṛṣṇa would defeat him, he joined the battle against Him to demonstrate the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura states that Lord Śiva entered the battle for two reasons: first, to increase Lord Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure and enthusiasm; and second, to demonstrate that the Lord’s incarnation as Kṛṣṇa, although enacting humanlike pastimes, is superior to other avatāras, such as Lord Rāmacandra. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī further states in this regard that Yoga-māyā, Lord Kṛṣṇa’s internal potency, bewildered Lord Śiva just as she had bewildered Brahmā. In support of this statement, the ācārya cites the phrase brahma-rudrādi-mohanam from Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu. Of course, Yoga-māyā’s job is to make fine arrangements for the Lord’s pastimes, and thus Śiva became enthusiastic to battle the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa.
balena saha saṁyugaḥ
bāṇena saha sātyakeḥ
vimānair draṣṭum āgaman
ḍākinīr yātudhānāṁś ca
drāvayām āsa tīkṣṇāgraiḥ
piṇāky astrāṇi śārṅgiṇe
praty-astraiḥ śamayām āsa
vāyavyasya ca pārvatam
āgneyasya ca pārjanyaṁ
naijaṁ pāśupatasya ca
bāṇasya pṛtanāṁ śaurir
asṛg vimuñcan gātrebhyaḥ
dṛṣṭvā bāṇo ’ty-amarṣitaḥ
kṛṣṇam abhyadravat saṅkhye
rathī hitvaiva sātyakim
bāṇaḥ pañca-śatāni vai
ekaikasmin śarau dvau dvau
dhanūṁsi yugapad dhariḥ
sārathiṁ ratham aśvāṁś ca
hatvā śaṅkham apūrayat
puro ’vatasthe kṛṣṇasya
bāṇaś ca tāvad virathaś
jvaras tu trī-śirās trī-pāt
dahann iva diśo daśa
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī quotes the following description of the Śiva-jvara:
jvaras tri-padas tri-śirāḥ
“The terrible Śiva-jvara had three legs, three heads, six arms and nine eyes. Showering ashes, he resembled Yamarāja at the time of universal annihilation.”
taṁ dṛṣṭvā vyasṛjaj jvaram
māheśvaro vaiṣṇavaś ca
yuyudhāte jvarāv ubhau
bhīto māheśvaro jvaraḥ
As pointed out by Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī, it is significant that the Śiva-jvara had to leave the side of his master, Lord Śiva, and directly take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Kṛṣṇa.
sarvātmānaṁ kevalaṁ jñapti-mātram
yat tad brahma brahma-liṅgam praśāntam
Previously the Śiva-jvara felt himself to be unlimitedly powerful and thus attempted to burn Śrī Kṛṣṇa. But now he himself has been burned, and understanding that Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Lord, he humbly approaches to bow down and offer praise to the Absolute Truth.
According to the ācāryas, the word sarvātmānam indicates that Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the Supersoul, the giver of consciousness to all living beings. Kṛṣṇa confirms this in the Bhagavad-gītā (15.15): mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca. “From Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness.”
In his commentary Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī emphasizes that the Śiva-jvara has realized in many ways Lord Kṛṣṇa’s supremacy over his own master, Lord Śiva. Thus the Śiva-jvara addresses Kṛṣṇa as ananta-śakti, “possessor of unlimited potency”; pareśa, “the supreme controller”; and sarvātmā, “the Supersoul of all beings” — even of Lord Śiva.
The words kevalaṁ jñapti-mātram indicate that Lord Kṛṣṇa possesses pure omniscience. According to our limited understanding, we act in this world, but Lord Kṛṣṇa, with His unlimited understanding, performs infinite works of creation, maintenance and annihilation. As Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī points out, even the functions of the gross elements, such as air, depend on Him. The Taittirīya Upaniṣad (2.8.1) confirms this: bhīṣāsmād vātaḥ-pavate. “Out of fear of Him, the wind blows.” Thus Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the ultimate object of worship for all living beings.
dravyaṁ kṣetraṁ prāṇa ātmā vikāraḥ
tvan-māyaiṣā tan-niṣedhaṁ prapadye
The word bīja-roha-pravāha is explained as follows: The conditioned soul accepts a material body, with which he attempts to enjoy the material world. That body is the seed (bīja) of future material existence because when a person acts with that body he creates further reactions (karma), which grow (roha) into the obligation to accept another material body. In other words, material life is a chain of actions and reactions. The simple decision to surrender to the Supreme Lord releases the conditioned soul from this futile repetition of material growth and reaction.
According to Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī, the words tan-niṣedhaṁ prapadye indicate that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Kṛṣṇa, is niṣedhāvadhi-bhūtam, “the limit of negation.” In other words, after all illusion is negated, the Absolute Truth remains.
The process of education may be succinctly described as a way of eradicating ignorance through the attainment of knowledge. Through inductive, deductive and intuitive means, we attempt to refute the specious, the illusory and the imperfect and elevate ourselves to a platform of full knowledge. Ultimately, when all illusion is negated, that which remains firmly in place is the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In the previous text, the Śiva-jvara described the Supreme Lord as sarvātmānaṁ kevalaṁ jñapti-mātram, “pure, concentrated spiritual consciousness.” Now the Śiva-jvara concludes his philosophical description of the Lord by saying in this text that the various aspects of material existence are also potencies of the Supreme Lord.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī mentions that the Supreme Lord’s own body and senses, as implied here by the word tan-niṣedham, are nondifferent from the Lord’s pure spiritual existence. The Lord’s body and senses are not external to Him, nor do they cover Him, but rather the Lord is identical with His spiritual form and senses. The full Absolute Truth, unlimited in fascinating diversity, is Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
devān sādhūn loka-setūn bibharṣi
haṁsy unmārgān hiṁsayā vartamānān
janmaitat te bhāra-hārāya bhūmeḥ
As Lord Kṛṣṇa states in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.29):
samo ’haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu
na me dveṣyo ’sti na priyaḥ
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā
mayi te teṣu cāpy aham
“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend — is in Me — and I am also a friend to him.”
The demigods and sages (devān sādhūn) are dedicated to executing the will of the Supreme Lord. The demigods act as cosmic administrators, and the sages, by their teachings and their good example, illumine the path of self-realization and holiness. But those who transgress the natural law, the law of God, and live by committing violence against others are vanquished by the Supreme Lord in His various pastime incarnations. As the Lord states in the Bhagavad-gītā (4.11), ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham. He is impartial, but He responds appropriately to the actions of the living beings.
tāvat tāpo dehināṁ te ’nghri-mūlaṁ
no severan yāvad āśānubaddhāḥ
In the previous verse, the Śiva-jvara stated that those who live by violence will suffer similar violence at the hands of the Lord. But here he further states that those who do not surrender to the Supreme Lord are especially liable to punishment. Although the Śiva-jvara himself had acted violently up till now, since he has surrendered to the Lord and rectified himself, he hopes to receive the Lord’s mercy. In other words, he has now become the Lord’s devotee.
vyetu te maj-jvarād bhayam
yo nau smarati saṁvādaṁ
tasya tvan na bhaved bhayam
Here the Lord accepts the Śiva-jvara as His devotee and gives him his first order — that he should never frighten, by hot fever, those who faithfully hear this pastime of the Lord’s.
gato māheśvaro jvaraḥ
bāṇas tu ratham ārūḍhaḥ
prāgād yotsyan janārdanam
bāṇāṁś cakrāyudhe nṛpa
ciccheda bhagavān bāhūn
śākhā iva vanaspateḥ
bāṇasya bhagavān bhavaḥ
gūḍhaṁ brahmaṇi vāṅ-maye
yaṁ paśyanty amalātmāna
ākāśam iva kevalam
The Absolute Truth is the source of all light and is therefore the supreme light, self-luminous. This Absolute Truth is explained confidentially in the Vedas and is therefore difficult for an ordinary reader to understand. The following statements quoted by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī from the Gopāla-tāpanī Upaniṣad show how the Vedic sounds occasionally reveal the Absolute: Te hocur upāsanam etasya parātmano govindasyākhilādhāriṇo brūhi (Pūrva-khaṇḍa 17): “They [the four Kumāras] said [to Brahmā], ‘Please tell us how to worship Govinda, the Supreme Soul and the foundation of all that exists.’” Cetanaś cetanānām (Pūrva-khaṇḍa 21): “He is the chief of all living beings.” And taṁ ha devam ātma-vṛtti-prakāśam (Pūrva-khaṇḍa 23): “One realizes that Supreme Godhead by first realizing one’s own self.” The great ācārya Jīva Gosvāmī also quotes a verse from the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.10.48) — gūḍhaṁ paraṁ brahma manuṣya-liṅgam — which refers to “the Supreme Truth concealed in a humanlike form.”
Since the Lord is pure, why do some people perceive Kṛṣṇa’s form and activities as impure? Ācārya Jīva explains that those whose own hearts are impure cannot understand the pure Lord. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī further quotes the Lord’s own instruction to Arjuna in Śrī Hari-vaṁśa:
tat-paraṁ paramaṁ brahma
sarvaṁ vibhajate jagat
mamaiva tad ghanaṁ tejo
jñātum arhasi bhārata
“Superior to that [total material nature] is the Supreme Brahman, from which this entire creation expands. O descendant of Bharata, you should know that the Supreme Brahman consists of My concentrated effulgence.”
Thus, to save his devotee, Śiva now glorifies the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, his eternal worshipable master. The Lord’s bewildering potency induced Śiva to fight with Lord Kṛṣṇa, but now the fight is over, and to save his devotee Lord Śiva offers these beautiful prayers.
dyauḥ śīrṣam āśāḥ śrutir aṅghrir urvī
candro mano yasya dṛg arka ātmā
ahaṁ samudro jaṭharaṁ bhujendraḥ
keśā viriñco dhiṣaṇā visargaḥ
prajā-patir hṛdayaṁ yasya dharmaḥ
sa vai bhavān puruṣo loka-kalpaḥ
Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī explains that just as the tiny bugs living inside a fruit cannot comprehend the fruit, so we tiny living beings cannot understand the Supreme Absolute Truth, in whom we exist. It is difficult to understand the cosmic manifestation of the Lord, what to speak of His transcendental form as Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Therefore we should surrender in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and the Lord Himself will help us understand.
dharmasya guptyai jagato hitāya
vayaṁ ca sarve bhavatānubhāvitā
vibhāvayāmo bhuvanāni sapta
As Lord Śiva glorifies Lord Kṛṣṇa doubt may arise, since, apparently, Lord Kṛṣṇa is standing before Lord Śiva as a historical personality with a humanlike body. However, it is out of the Lord’s causeless mercy that He appears to us in a form visible to our mundane eyes. If we want to understand the Absolute Truth, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, we must hear from recognized authorities in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, such as Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself in the Bhagavad-gītā, or from Lord Śiva, a recognized Vaiṣṇava authority, who here glorifies the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
turyaḥ sva-dṛg dhetur ahetur īśaḥ
pratīyase ’thāpi yathā-vikāraṁ
The ācāryas comment as follows on this verse: Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī explains that the term ādyaḥ puruṣaḥ, “the original puruṣa,” indicates that Lord Kṛṣṇa expands Himself as Mahā-Viṣṇu, the first of the three puruṣas who take charge of cosmic manifestation. The Lord is eka advitīyaḥ, “one without a second,” because there is no one equal to the Lord or different from Him. No one is completely equal to the Supreme Godhead, and yet because all the living beings are expansions of the potency of the Godhead, no one is qualitatively different from Him. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu nicely explains this inconceivable situation by stating that the Absolute Truth and the living beings are qualitatively one but quantitatively different. The Absolute possesses infinite spiritual consciousness, whereas the living beings possess infinitesimal consciousness, which is subject to being covered by illusion.
Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, commenting on the term ādyaḥ puruṣaḥ, quotes from the Sātvata-tantra: viṣṇos tu trīṇi rūpāṇi. “There are three forms of Viṣṇu [for cosmic manifestation, etc.].” Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī also quotes a statement of the Lord’s from śruti: pūrvam evāham ihāsam. “In the beginning I alone existed in this world.” This statement describes the form of the Lord called the puruṣa-avatāra, who exists before the cosmic manifestation. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī also quotes the following śruti-mantra: tat-puruṣasya puruṣatvam, which means “Such constitutes the Lord’s status as puruṣa.” Actually, Lord Kṛṣṇa is the essence of the puruṣa incarnation because He is turīya, as described in the present verse. Jīva Gosvāmī explains the term turīya (literally “the fourth”) by quoting Śrīdhara Svāmī’s commentary to the Bhāgavatam verse 11.15.16:
virāṭ hiraṇyagarbhaś ca
kāraṇaṁ cety upādhayaḥ
īśasya yat tribhir hīnaṁ
turīyaṁ tad vidur budhāḥ
“The Lord’s universal form, His Hiraṇyagarbha form and the primeval causal manifestation of material nature are all relative conceptions, but because the Lord Himself is not covered by these three, intelligent authorities call Him ‘the fourth.’”
According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī, the word turīya indicates that the Lord is the fourth member of the quadruple expansion of Godhead called the Catur-vyūha. In other words, Lord Kṛṣṇa is Vāsudeva.
Lord Kṛṣṇa is sva-dṛk — that is, He alone can perceive Himself perfectly — because He is infinite spiritual existence, infinitely pure. He is hetu, the cause of everything, and yet He is ahetu, without cause. Therefore He is īśa, the supreme controller.
The last two lines of this verse are of special philosophical significance. Why is the Lord perceived differently by different persons, although He is one? A partial explanation is given here. By the agency of Māyā, the Lord’s external potency, material nature is in a constant state of transformation, vikāra. In one sense, then, material nature is “unreal,” asat. But because God is the supreme reality, and because He is present within all things and all things are His potency, material objects and energies possess a degree of reality. Therefore some people see one aspect of material energy and think, “This is reality,” while other people see a different aspect of material energy and think, “No, that is reality.” Being conditioned souls, we are covered by different configurations of material nature, and thus we describe the Supreme Truth or the Supreme Lord in terms of our corrupted vision. Yet even the covering qualities of material nature, such as our conditioned intelligence, mind and senses, are real (being the potency of the Supreme Lord), and therefore through all things we can perceive, in a more or less subjective way, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is why the present verse states, pratīyase: “You are perceived.” Furthermore, without the manifestation of material nature’s covering qualities, the creation could not fulfill its purpose — namely, to allow the conditioned souls to make their best attempt to enjoy without God so that they will finally understand the futility of such an illusory notion.
chāyāṁ ca rūpāṇi ca sañcakāsti
evaṁ guṇenāpihito guṇāṁs tvam
ātma-pradīpo guṇinaś ca bhūman
Here Lord Śiva further clarifies the idea expressed in the final two lines of the previous verse. The analogy of the clouds and the sun is appropriate. With its energy the sun creates clouds, which cover our vision of the sun. Yet it is the sun that allows us to see the clouds and all other things as well. Similarly, the Lord expands His illusory potency and thus prevents us from directly seeing Him. Yet it is God alone who reveals to us His covering potency — namely, the material world — and thus the Lord is ātma-pradīpa, “self-luminous.” It is the reality of His existence that makes all things visible.
Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī explains that “rising in the ocean of misery” indicates elevation to higher species, such as demigods, and that “being submerged” refers to degradation to lower species — even to immobile forms of life such as trees. As stated in the Vāyu Purāṇa, viparyayaś ca bhavati brahmatva-sthāvaratvayoḥ: “The living being rotates between the position of Brahmā and that of an unmoving creature.”
Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī points out that Śiva, having glorified the Lord, now pursues his original intention of securing the Lord’s grace for Bāṇāsura. Thus in this and the following four verses, Lord Śiva instructs Bāṇa on his actual position in relation to the Lord. Śiva’s appeal to the Lord for compassion toward Bāṇa appears in text 45.
yo nādriyeta tvat-pādau
sa śocyo hy ātma-vañcakaḥ
Lord Śiva here condemns those who refuse to engage in the devotional service of the Supreme Lord.
ātmānaṁ priyam īśvaram
viṣam atty amṛtaṁ tyajan
The person described above is pitiable because he rejects that which is actually dear, the Lord, and accepts that which is not dear and is ungodly: temporary sense gratification, which leads to suffering and bewilderment.
sarvātmanā prapannās tvām
ātmānaṁ preṣṭham īśvaram
samaṁ prasāntaṁ suhṛd-ātma-daivam
ananyam ekaṁ jagad-ātma-ketaṁ
bhavāpavargāya bhajāma devam
Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī states that the Lord is a true friend because He sets one’s proper intelligence into motion if one desires to know the truth about God and the soul. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī and Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī both emphasize that the term bhavāpavargāya indicates the highest liberation of pure love of Godhead, characterized by unalloyed devotional service unto the Lord.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī also explains that the Supreme Lord is samam, “perfectly objective and balanced,” whereas other living beings, having an incomplete grasp of reality, cannot be perfectly objective. Those who surrender unto the Lord also become fully objective by taking shelter of His supreme consciousness.
mayābhayaṁ dattam amuṣya deva
sampādyatāṁ tad bhavataḥ prasādo
yathā hi te daitya-patau prasādaḥ
Lord Śiva feels inclined to help Bāṇāsura because the demon showed great devotion to Lord Śiva when he provided musical accompaniment for Śiva’s tāṇḍava dance. Another reason Bāṇa is an object of Lord Śiva’s favor is that he is a descendant of the great devotees Prahlāda and Bali.
karavāma priyaṁ tava
bhavato yad vyavasitaṁ
tan me sādhv anumoditam
We should not think it strange that the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, here addresses Lord Śiva as bhagavan, “lord.” All living beings are part and parcel of the Lord, qualitatively one with Him, and Lord Śiva is an especially powerful, pure entity who possesses many of the Supreme Lord’s qualities. Just as a father is happy to share his riches with a beloved son, so the Supreme Lord happily invests pure living beings with some of His potency and opulence. And just as a father proudly and happily observes the good qualities of his children, the Lord is most happy to glorify the pure living beings who are powerful in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Thus the Supreme Lord is pleased to glorify Lord Śiva by addressing him as bhagavān.
prahrādāya varo datto
na vadhyo me tavānvayaḥ
pravṛkṇā bāhavo mayā
sūditaṁ ca balaṁ bhūri
yac ca bhārāyitaṁ bhuvaḥ
na kutaścid-bhayo ’suraḥ
prādyumniṁ ratham āropya
śaṅkareṇa ca saṁyugam
saṁsmaret prātar utthāya
na tasya syāt parājayaḥ
Thus end the purports of the humble servants of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda to the Tenth Canto, Sixty-third Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled “Lord Kṛṣṇa Fights with Bāṇāsura.”