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The deliverance of Muchukunda.
When Krishna came out of Mathura, he appeared just like the rising full moon. Upon seeing him, Kalayavana thought, “This person must be Vasudeva for He is just as Narada described. He has four arms, His eyes are like lotus petals, and He is extremely handsome. Because He is unarmed, I shall fight with Him without weapons.”
Having made up his mind in this way, Kalayavana proceeded on foot to meet Krishna. However, the Lord simply kept walking, unmindful of the barbarian King. Kalayavana chased Krishna, who seemed to be almost within reach at every moment, and while going he chastised the Lord by saying, “You were born in the Yadu dynasty and so it is not proper for you to run away!”
In this way, Krishna led Kalayavana far, far away, and then He entered a mountain cave. Kalayavana entered the cave close behind Krishna, and within, in the darkness, he saw someone lying down, as if asleep. Assuming this to be Krishna, Kalayavana thought, “So, after leading me away a long distance, He is lying here like some saint!”
Thinking thus, Kalayavana kicked the man with all his strength. Awakening after a very long sleep, the man looked around and then saw Kalayavana before him. Angrily casting his glance upon him, flames emanated from his eyes, burning Kalayavana to ashes in a moment.
The sleeping man was Muchukunda, the virtuous son of Mandhata in the Ikshvaku dynasty. Long ago, Muchukunda fought the demons, alongside the demigods, defending them for a long time. After obtaining Karttikeya as their general, the demigods allowed him to return home.
The demigods said, “Abandoning your kingdom in the world of men, you neglected all personal desires to protect us. Your family, ministers and subjects are no longer alive- they have all been swept away by time. All good fortune to you! Now, please accept a benediction from us, anything except liberation, for only the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, can bestow that.”
Having fought for many years without sleep, Muchukunda asked for an undisturbed sleep, with the additional condition that whoever might awaken him untimely would be burnt to ashes by his glance. After taking leave of the demigods, Muchukunda lay down within a cave so that he could enjoy the sleep that had been granted him.
Krishna had come there to deliver Muchukunda, and so, after Kalayavana was burnt, the Lord revealed Himself to the wise king. Muchukunda saw before him the four-armed form of the Lord, with a complexion like a dark cloud. On His chest was the mark of Shrivatsa, and around His neck, the brilliant Kaustubha gem and a Vaijayanti garland. The Lord’s handsome, smiling face was adorned with shark-shaped earrings and an affectionate glance, and the beauty of His youthful form was unexcelled.
Shri Muchukunda said, “Who are You that have come to this cave, walking on the thorny ground with feet as soft as lotus petals? Perhaps You are one of the powerful controllers, such as the god of fire, the sun, or the moon? But in fact, I think that You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead because Your effulgence drives away the darkness of this cave.”
Then, after Muchukunda had introduced himself, Lord Krishna replied, “I have taken innumerable births with innumerable names, and indeed, I cannot count them all. Even great sages cannot reach the limit of the descriptions of My pastimes, but nonetheless, I shall tell you about My current birth. Long ago, Brahma requested Me to destroy the demons that were burdening the earth, and so I have descended in the Yadu dynasty as the son of Vasudeva.”
“In your past life, you had prayed to Me, and so I have now come here to show you mercy. Please take from Me whatever benediction you desire, for one who has satisfied Me need never again lament. It is My eternal principle that anyone who comes under My shelter must have all his desires fulfilled, by My grace.”
Upon hearing this, Muchukunda bowed down at the Lord’s lotus feet, while remembering how, in the past, Garga Muni had predicted that he would meet the Supreme Lord, Narayana.
Muchukunda then said, “In this world, everyone is bewildered by Your illusory energy. Being unaware of their real benefit, they do not worship You, but instead seek happiness by entangling themselves in family affairs, which are actually sources of misery.”
“Although I had obtained the rare human form of life, I wasted my time becoming more and more intoxicated by my kingly opulence. Identifying the mortal body as the self, although it is a material object like a pot or a wall, I became attached to children, wives, wealth and land, and thus suffered endless anxiety. Thinking myself a god among men, I travelled the earth surrounded by my army, and thus disregarded You, due to my deluding pride.”
“A man obsessed with thoughts of what he thinks needs to be done, who is intensely greedy, and who delights in sense enjoyment, is suddenly confronted by You, who are ever alert. Like a hungry snake licking its fangs before a mouse, You appear before him as death. The body that at first rides high on an elephant or chariot and is known as ‘king’, is later on, by the invincible power of time, called ‘stool’, ‘worms’ or ‘ashes’. Having conquered all directions, an emperor sits on his splendid throne, receiving praise from all others. But when he enters the ladies’ chamber, where sex pleasure is found, he is led around like a pet animal, O Lord.”
“My Lord, I think that You have shown me Your mercy, for my attachment to my kingdom has somehow ceased.”
“O all-powerful one, I desire no benediction other than service to Your lotus feet. What enlightened person who worships You would choose a boon that causes his bondage?”
“Therefore, O Lord, having put aside all objects of material desire, I am approaching You for shelter. For so long I have been pained by troubles in this world and have been burning with lamentation. Therefore, O Supreme Soul, please protect me, for by good fortune I have approached Your lotus feet.”
The Supreme Lord said, “O King, your mind is pure, for even though I enticed you with the offer of benedictions, your mind did not become seduced. You should know that I tried to induce you in this way, just to exhibit your exemplary character. The intelligence of My unalloyed devotees is never diverted by material blessings.”
“Wander over the earth at will, with your mind fixed on Me. May you always possess such unfailing devotion. Because you were engaged as a kshatriya, you killed many living beings while hunting, and so you must vanquish the sins thus incurred by the performance of austerities in full surrender to Me. In your next life, you will become a fully qualified Vaishnava, and thereafter certainly come back to Me.”