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© 2004 - Hansadutta das
[Posted April 6, 2007]

Lord Krishna Fights with Banasura

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami


KRSNA book from KRSNA, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Volume 2, 1970 edition
[These weapons far exceed the capabilities of modern defense technology: pashupatastra, narayanastra, brahmastra, and most notably, the jrimbhana-astrena, or yawning weapon! Now that could shut down the Shia-Sunni conflict and turn Iraq around from civil war.]


Usha & Aniruddha
When Emperor Banasura discovered his daughter secretly co-habiting with Aniruddha, he arrested the latter and imprisoned him.

When the four months of the rainy season passed and still Aniruddha had 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 Narada came and informed the family about Aniruddha's disappearance from the palace. He explained how Aniruddha had been carried to the city of Shonitapura, the capital of Banasura's empire, and how Banasura had arrested him with the nagapasha, even though Aniruddha had defeated his soldiers. This news was given in detail, and the whole story was disclosed. Then the members of the Yadu dynasty, all of whom had great affection for Krishna, prepared to attack the city of Shonitapura. Practically all the leaders of the family, including Pradyumna, Satyaki, Gada, Samba, Sarana, Nanda, Upananda and Bhadra, combined together and gathered eighteen akshauhini military divisions into phalanxes. Then they all went to Shonitapura and surrounded it with soldiers, elephants, horses and chariots.

Banasura 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 Shiva was so kind to Banasura that he personally came as the commander-in-chief of the military force, assisted by his heroic sons Karttikeya and Ganapati. Seated on his favorite bull, Nandishvara, Lord Shiva led the fighting against Lord Krishna and Balarama. We can simply imagine how fierce the fighting was—Lord Shiva with his valiant sons on one side and Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His elder brother, Sri Balaramaji, 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 Shiva was engaged in fighting directly with Lord Krishna, Pradyumna was engaged with Karttikeya, and Lord Balarama was engaged with Banasura's commander-in-chief, Kumbhanda, who was assisted by Kupakarna. Samba, the son of Krishna, was engaged in fighting with the son of Banasura, and Banasura was engaged in fighting with Satyaki, 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 Brahma, from higher planetary systems, along with great sages and saintly persons, Siddhas, Charanas and Gandharvas—all being very curious to see the fight between Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna and their assistants—were hovering over the battlefield in their airplanes. Lord Shiva is called the bhuta-natha [Lord of ghosts and hobgoblins], being assisted by various types of powerful ghosts and denizens of the inferno—bhutas, pretas, pramathas, guhyakas, dakinis, pishachas, kushmandas, vetalas, vinayakas and brahma-rakshasas. (Of all kinds of ghosts, the brahma-rakshasas are very powerful. Brahmanas transferred to the role of ghosts become brahma-rakshasas.)

The Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna simply drove all these ghosts away from the battlefield, beating them with His celebrated bow, Sharngadhanu. Lord Shiva then began to release all his selected weapons upon the Personality of Godhead. Lord Sri Krishna, without any difficulty, counteracted all these weapons with counter-weapons. He counteracted the brahmastra, similar to the atomic bomb, by another brahmastra, and an air weapon by a mountain weapon. When Lord Shiva released a particular weapon bringing about a violent hurricane on the battlefield, Lord Krishna presented just the opposing element, a mountain weapon which checked the hurricane on the spot. Similarly when Lord Shiva released his weapon of devastating fire, Krishna counteracted it with torrents of rain.

At last, when Lord Shiva released his personal weapon, called pashupatastra, Krishna immediately counteracted it by the narayanastra. Lord Shiva then became exasperated in fighting with Lord Krishna. Krishna 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 Shiva became so fatigued that he refused to fight anymore and began to yawn. Krishna was now able to turn His attention from the attack of Lord Shiva to the efforts of Banasura, and He began to kill his personal soldiers with swords and clubs. Meanwhile, Lord Krishna's son Pradyumna was fighting fiercely with Karttikeya, the commander-in-chief of the demigods. Karttikeya 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 Balarama was smashing Banasura's commander-in-chief, Kumbhanda, with the strokes of His club. Kupakarna was also wounded in this way, and both he and Kumbhanda fell on the battlefield, the commander-in-chief being fatally wounded. Without guidance, all of Banasura's soldiers scattered here and there.

When Banasura saw that his soldiers and commanders had been defeated, his anger only increased. He thought it wise to stop fighting with Satyaki, Krishna's commander-in-chief, and instead directly attacked Lord Krishna. Now having the opportunity to use his one thousand hands, he rushed towards Krishna, simultaneously working 500 bows and 2,000 arrows. Such a foolish person could never measure Krishna's strength. Immediately, without any difficulty, Krishna cut each of Banasura's bows into two pieces and, to check him from going further, made his chariot horses lay on the ground. The chariot then broke to pieces. After doing this, Krishna blew His conchshell, Pañchajanya.

There was a demigoddess named Kotara who was worshiped by Banasura, and their relationship was as mother and son. Mother Kotara was upset that Banasura's life was in danger, so she appeared on the scene. With naked body and scattered hair, she stood before Lord Krishna. Sri Krishna did not like the sight of this naked woman, and to avoid seeing her, He turned His face. Banasura, getting this chance to escape Krishna's attack, left the battlefield. All the strings of his bows were broken, and there was no chariot or driver, so he had no alternative than to return to his city. He lost everything in the battle.

Being greatly harassed by the arrows of Krishna, all the associates of Lord Shiva, the hobgoblins and ghostly bhutas, pretas and kshatriyas, left the battlefield. Lord Shiva then took to his last resort. He released his greatest death weapon, known as Shivajvara, which destroys by excessive temperature. It is said that at the end of this creation the sun becomes twelve times more scorching than usual. This twelve-times-hotter temperature is called Shivajvara. When the Shivajvara personified was released, he had three heads and three legs, and as he came toward Krishna it appeared that he was burning everything into ashes. He was so powerful that he made blazing fire appear in all directions, and Krishna observed that he was specifically coming toward Him.

As there is a Shivajvara weapon, there is also a Narayanajvara. Narayanajvara 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, and then the whole body collapses and immediately becomes as cold as ice. To counteract the scorching heat of the Shivajvara, there is no other weapon but Narayanajvara.

When Lord Krishna saw that the Shivajvara had been released by Lord Shiva, He had no other recourse than to release Narayanajvara. Lord Sri Krishna is the original Narayana and the controller of the Narayanajvara weapon. When the Narayanajvara 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 Shivajvara and Narayanajvara. Gradually, Shivajvara's temperature diminished, and Shivajvara began to cry for help from Lord Shiva, but Lord Shiva was unable to help him in the presence of the Narayanajvara. Unable to get any help from Lord Shiva, the Shivajvara could understand that he had no means of escape outside surrendering unto Narayana, Lord Krishna Himself. Lord Shiva, the greatest of the demigods, could not help him, what to speak of the lesser demigods, and therefore Shivajvara ultimately surrendered unto Krishna, bowing before Him and offering a prayer so that the Lord might be pleased and give him protection.

By this incidence of the fight between the ultimate weapons of Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna it is proved that if Krishna gives someone protection, no one can kill him. But if Krishna does not give one any protection, then no one can save him. Lord Shiva is called Mahadeva, greatest of all demigods, although sometimes Lord Brahma is considered the greatest of all demigods, because he can create, whereas Lord Shiva can annihilate the creations of Brahma. But both Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva act only in one capacity. Lord Brahma can create, and Lord Shiva can annihilate, but neither of them can maintain. Lord Vishnu, however, not only maintains, but He creates, and annihilates also. Factually, the creation is not effected by Brahma, because Brahma himself is created by Lord Vishnu. Lord Shiva is created, or born, of Brahma. The Shivajvara thus understood that without Krishna or Narayana, no one could help him. He therefore rightly took shelter of Lord Krishna 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 Shiva to be the most powerful personality in the material world, but Lord Shiva 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 might be very powerful, but without the touch of knowledge or consciousness it cannot act. A material machine may be very 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 Shiva may be a powerful demigod because of his specific power to annihilate the whole creation, and similarly, Lord Brahma may be very powerful because he can create the entire universe, but actually neither Brahma nor Lord Shiva 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 is resting on Your personality."

As is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita, the cause of the impersonal Brahman is Lord Krishna.

"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 Krishna. All material actions and reactions are taking place in the impersonal Brahman, but in the personal Brahman, the eternal form of Krishna, there is no action and reaction. My Lord, Your body is therefore completely peaceful, completely blissful and is 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 and is above all others, because the material manifestation is effected by time agitation. Thus natural phenomena come into existence, and as soon as there is the appearance of phenomena, fruitive activities are visible. As the result of these fruitive activities, a living entity takes his form. He acquires a particular type of nature which is 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 or cause of various other bodies, which are acquired one after another by the transmigration of the soul. All these phenomenal manifestations are the combined actions of Your material energy. Unaffected by the action and reaction of different elements, You are the cause of this external energy, 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 am therefore taking 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 to vanquish the nondevotees, You appear in multi-incarnations. All such incarnations descend in fulfillment of Your promise in the Bhagavad-gita 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 maintain the standard of material law and order. Simultaneous to the maintenance of such law and order, Your violence to 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 Narayanajvara. It is certainly very cooling yet at the same time very severely dangerous and unbearable for all of us. My dear Lord, as long as one is forgetful of Krishna 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 therefore continues to suffer perpetually."

After hearing the Shivajvara, Lord Krishna replied, "O three-headed one, I am pleased with your statement. Be assured there is no more suffering for you from the Narayanajvara. Not only are you now free from fear of Narayanajvara, but anyone in the future who simply recollects this fight between Shivajvara and Narayanajvara will also be freed from all kinds of fearfulness."

After hearing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Shivajvara offered his respectful obeisances unto His lotus feet and left.

In the meantime, Banasura somehow or other recovered from his setbacks and, with rejuvenated energy, returned to fight. This time Banasura appeared before Lord Krishna, who was seated on His chariot, with different kinds of weapons in his one thousand hands. Banasura was very much agitated. He began to splash his different weapons, like torrents of rain, upon the body of Lord Krishna. When Lord Krishna saw the weapons of Banasura coming at Him, like water coming out of a strainer, He took His sharp-edged Sudarshana disc and began to cut off the demon's one thousand hands one after another, just as a gardener trims the twigs of a tree with sharp cutters. When Lord Shiva saw that his devotee Banasura could not be saved even in his presence, he came to his senses and personally came before Lord Krishna and began to pacify Him by offering the following prayers.

Lord Shiva said, "My dear Lord, You are the worshipable object of the Vedic hymns. One who does not know You considers the impersonal brahmajyoti to be the ultimate Supreme Absolute Truth, without any knowledge that You are existing behind Your spiritual effulgence in Your eternal abode. My dear Lord, You are therefore called Parambrahman. This word, Parambrahman, has been used in the Bhagavad-gita 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, the fire is Your mouth, and the water is Your semina. The heavenly planets are Your head, all the directions are Your ears, the Urvi planet 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 of Your body, the cloud is the hair on Your head, and Lord Brahma is Your intelligence. All the great progenitors, known as Prajapatis, 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 the expansions are Your light and heat."

Lord Shiva continued: "My dear Lord, although You are manifested universally, 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-samhita we also find it stated that although You always remain in Your abode, Goloka Vrindavana, You are nevertheless present everywhere. As stated in the Bhagavad-gita, You appear to protect the devotees, which 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 being 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 cosmic manifestation rest in You without distinctive features of existence. Ultimately, there is no possibility of distinction between Yourself 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 for Yourself 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, Nrisimha, Keshava, etc.—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 Vishnu, and by Your external potency You appear as the phenomenal world.

"Because it is 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, even though the whole sky is cloudy, the sun can never actually be covered. Similarly, the less intelligent class of men claims 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 and through the via media of Your external and marginal energies. Your unlimited potential 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. They are sometimes drowned in the ocean of attachment and sometimes 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 the 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 Krishna 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 Brahma, as well as great saintly persons and sages who have cleansed their hearts of this 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.

"Lastly, my Lord, I may inform You that this Banasura is very dear to me. He has rendered very valuable service unto me; therefore I want to see him always happy. Being pleased with him, I have given him the assurance of safety. I pray to You, my Lord, that as You were pleased upon his forefathers King Prahlada and Bali Maharaja, You will also be pleased with him."

After hearing Lord Shiva's prayer, Lord Krishna addressed him also as lord and said, "My dear Lord Shiva, I accept your statements, and your desire for Banasura is also accepted by Me. I know that this Banasura is the son of Bali Maharaja, and as such I cannot kill him because that is My promise. I gave a benediction to King Prahlada that all the demons who would appear in his family would never be killed by Me. Therefore, without killing this Banasura, I have simply cut off his arms to deprive him of his false prestige. The large number of soldiers which he was maintaining became a burden on this earth, and I have killed them all in order to minimize the burden. Now he has four remaining arms, and he will remain immortal, without being affected by the 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 from anything."

When Banasura was benedicted by Lord Krishna in this way, he came before the Lord and bowed down before Him, touching his head to the earth. He immediately arranged to bring Aniruddha along with his daughter Usha, seated on a nice chariot, and presented them before Lord Krishna. After this, Lord Krishna took charge of Aniruddha and Usha, who had become very opulent materially because of the blessings of Lord Shiva. Thus, keeping forward a division of one akshauhini of soldiers, Krishna began to proceed toward Dvaraka. In the meantime, all the people at Dvaraka, having received the news that Lord Krishna was returning with Aniruddha and Usha 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 there was the flavor of sandalwood. All the citizens, accompanied by their friends and relatives, welcomed Lord Krishna with great pomp and jubilation. At that time, there was a tumultuous vibration of conchshells and drums and bugles to receive the Lord. In this way the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna entered His capital, Dvaraka.

Shukadeva Gosvami assured King Parikshit that the narration of the fight between Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna is not at all inauspicious like ordinary fights. On the contrary, if one remembers the narration of this fight between Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva in the morning and takes pleasure in the victory of Lord Krishna, he will never experience defeat anywhere in his struggle of life.

This episode of Banasura's fighting with Krishna and later on being saved by the grace of Lord Shiva is confirmation of the statement in the Bhagavad-gita that the worshipers of demigods cannot achieve any benediction without its being sanctioned by the Supreme Lord, Krishna. Here, in this narration, we find that although Banasura was a great devotee of Lord Shiva, when he faced death by Krishna, Lord Shiva was not able to save him. But Lord Shiva appealed to Krishna to save his devotee, and it was thus sanctioned by the Lord. This is the position of Lord Krishna. The exact words used in this connection in the Bhagavad-gita are mayaiva vihitan hi tan. This means that without the sanction of the Supreme Lord, no demigod can award any benediction to the worshiper.

Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Second Volume, Eighth Chapter, of Krishna, "Lord Krishna Fights with Banasura."

Lord Krishna Fights with Banasura/ WORLD SANKIRTAN PARTY
©2007 - Hansadutta das
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