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Lord Krishna fights with Banasura
In the absence of Aniruddha, his relatives continued to lament during the four months of the rainy season. Then, Narada Muni went to Dvaraka and disclosed the whole story in detail. With Krishna and Balarama in the lead, the Yadu army of twelve akshauhini divisions went at once and surrounded Shonitapura.
When Banasura saw that his city was being attacked and the walls and gardens on the outskirts were being destroyed, he became enraged and sent an army of equal size to engage in battle. Lord Shiva, riding upon Nandi, his bull carrier, became the army’s commander-in-chief, and he was assisted by his sons, Ganapati and Kartikeya, along with his ghostly followers.
The fighting that followed was so fierce that whoever saw it was so astonished that their hair stood on end. Lord Shiva fought with Lord Krishna, and Pradyumna encountered Kartikeya. Lord Balarama fought Kumbhanda, Samba contended with Bana’s son, and Satyaki fought with Banasura. News of the battle spread all over the universe, and so all of the demigods, headed by Brahma, came to watch.
With His Sharnga bow, Krishna drove away all of the Bhutas, Pramathas, Guhyakas, Dakinis, Pretas, Matas, Pisachas, Kusmandas, Brahma-rakshasas, and all other ghostly followers of Lord Shiva. In response, Lord Shiva released many celestial weapons, but Lord Krishna easily counteracted them all. At last, Lord Shiva released his personal weapon, named pashupatastra, but Krishna countered with His own narayanastra.
As Lord Shiva thus became a little confounded, Krishna took the opportunity to release His yawning weapon. As a result, Lord Shiva began to yawn, while giving up all desire to continue fighting. Leaving aside Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna proceeded to strike down Banasura’s army with His sword, club and arrows.
Meanwhile, Kartikeya became so oppressed by the flood of Pradyumna’s arrows raining down upon him, that he at last fled from the battlefield on his peacock carrier, as blood poured profusely from his limbs. Balarama killed Kumbhanda with His club, and thus, being bereft of their leader, Banasura’s soldiers fled in all directions.
Seeing his entire army defeated, Banasura became furious. Leaving aside Satyaki, he charged across the battlefield on his chariot and attacked Krishna. In the frenzy of the battle that followed, Bana finally got the chance to utilize his one thousand arms by simultaneously pulling the strings of five hundred bows, while fixing two arrows upon each string.
Lord Hari broke all of Bana’s bows, however, while at the same time, striking down his driver, smashing his chariot, and killing his horses. After accomplishing this feat, Lord Krishna blew His Panchajanya conch shell.
There was a goddess named Kotara, who Banasura worshiped like a mother. When she saw that Banasura’s life was in danger, she appeared before Krishna, naked, and with her hair scattered. Lord Krishna turned His face away, to avoid seeing the naked goddess, and so Banasura took the opportunity to enter his city on foot.
At this time, Lord Shiva reappeared on the scene, and as a last resort, he utilized his ultimate weapon, the Shivajvara. This weapon produces the terrible heat that is created at the time of dissolution, when the sun becomes twelve times hotter than normal. This Shivajvara had three heads, three legs, six arms and nine eyes, and as it approached Lord Krishna, it seemed to burn everything to ashes.
In response, Krishna released His Vishnu-jvara, which produces excessive cold. As the two weapons clashed, the temperature of Shivajvara gradually reduced, causing it to cry out in pain, appealing to his master. But, in the presence of Narayana-jvara, Lord Shiva could do nothing to help, and so at last, Shivajvara fearfully surrendered to Lord Krishna.
Shivajvara prayed, “I bow down to You, O Supreme Lord. Time, fate, karma, the propensities, the material body- all constitute your energy, maya, which works in an endless cycle, like that of a seed and a plant. I am being tortured by the power of Your fever weapon, which is cold, yet tormenting. It is You who are all-powerful and not my master, Lord Shiva. Please protect me.”
Lord Krishna replied, “O three-headed one, I am pleased with you, and so you no longer need fear My weapon.”
Shivajvara bowed down to Lord Krishna and then departed. At this time, Banasura returned with renewed enthusiasm. Riding upon his chariot and determined to fight, Banasura released numerous weapons from his one thousand hands, splashing them upon the Lord’s body.
In response, Krishna employed His Sudarshana chakra to cut off Banasura’s arms, as if they were so many branches on a tree. When Lord Shiva saw that his devotee was helpless, even in his presence, he came to his senses and appeared before Lord Krishna.
Lord Shiva then prayed, “You alone are the Absolute Truth. Those, whose hearts are spotless can see You, for You are uncontaminated, like the sky.”
“O almighty one, just as the sun, although hidden by a cloud, illuminates the cloud and all other things, so You, although hidden by the material modes, remain self-luminous, and thus reveal those modes, along with the living conditions that are influenced by them.”
“You are the original seed of all existence, and the living entities are tiny manifestations of Your energy. Just as a small insect inside a fruit cannot understand the real form of the fruit, so the conditioned souls cannot understand Your Lordship.”
“Their intelligence being bewildered by Your maya- and being fully attached to wife, children, home and the rest- persons immersed in the ocean of material misery sometimes rise to the surface (by achieving the bodies of demigods), and sometimes sink down (to the lower species of life). One who has attained the human form of life, as a gift of God, and yet fails to control his senses, and neglects to honor Your lotus feet, is surely to be pitied, for he is only cheating himself. Such a person refuses nectar so that he can consume poison instead.”
“I, Brahma, and all the other demigods and great sages have surrendered wholeheartedly unto You. This Banasura is my dear and faithful follower, and I had promised him freedom from fear. In consideration of his relationship with Prahlada and Bali, please grant him Your mercy, as You did to them.”
Lord Krishna replied, “We must certainly do that which you request of Us. I will not kill this demonic son of Bali, for previously I gave Prahlada Maharaja the benediction that I would not kill any of his descendents. It was just to subdue his false pride that I cut off Banasura’s arms. I annihilated his army because it had become a great burden upon the earth.”
“I will allow Banasura to keep his four remaining arms, and in addition, he will be immune to old age and death, and will become one of your principle attendants.”
Banasura came and offered obeisances to Lord Krishna, by touching his head to the ground. He then arranged for Usha and Aniruddha to be seated on a chariot and brought before the Lord. Placing Usha and Aniruddha in front, and surrounded by a large army, Lord Krishna departed for Dvaraka, after taking leave of Lord Shiva.
After receiving news of Krishna’s immanent arrival, the citizens of Dvaraka lavishly decorated the city in His honor. When the Lord entered the city, the people came forward to greet Him, and there was a great combined sound of musical instruments, conch shell, and mantras chanted by the brahmanas.