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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Compiled and Imp Scriptures > Shrimad Bhagavatam > Canto-6 > Vritrasura






     Once upon a time, King Indra, who was extremely proud of his opulence, was seated upon his throne along with his wife, Sacidevi, and surrounded by the Maruts, Vasus, Rudras, Adityas, Ribhus, Vishvadevas, Sadhyas, Ashvini-kumaras, Siddhas, Charanas, Vidyadharas, Kinnaras and great sages, who were all offering him their respects and services. The Apsaras were dancing and the Gandharvas were providing very sweet musical accompaniment when Brihaspati suddenly entered the assembly.

     Although Indra saw his spiritual master before him, he did not offer him a seat, nor did he rise up from his own seat. Indeed, due to having become intoxicated with pride, the haughty Indra did nothing at all to show his spiritual master a respectful welcome. Brihaspati could very well understand Indra’s pride, as well as what the future had in store. Although he could have cursed the King of heaven, Brihaspati wanted to teach him a lesson and so he simply departed for home without saying a word.

     Indra immediately realized his grave mistake in disrespecting his spiritual master, and so he condemned himself as follows, in the presence of the assembled demigods and sages: “Oh, what a regrettable thing I have done, because of a lack of intelligence and pride due to my material opulence. I have insulted my spiritual master by failing to show him proper respect, and thus I have surely become most condemned. Although I am the king of the demigods, who are situated in the mode of goodness, I became proud of a little opulence, and thus polluted by false ego. Considering all this, who would agree to accept such wealth at the risk of falling down?”

“To hell with my prestige and opulence! Leaders who become so puffed-up that they think that they do not have to show respect to the brahmanas are in effect boarding a stone boat along with their followers. They simply sink down to hell due to having accepted the path of destruction. Now, I must bow my head at the lotus feet of my preceptor, without duplicity, and thus try to satisfy him.”

     While Indra was thus repenting, Brihaspati, who could fully understand his disciple’s mind, became invisible to the King of heaven, being spiritually more powerful than he. When the demigods failed to find Brihaspati, in spite of searching vigorously, Indra thought, “My spiritual master has become dissatisfied with me. Therefore, I have become bereft of all means for achieving good fortune.”

     Thereafter, Indra could find no peace of mind, in spite of being surrounded by all of the demigods. The demons soon learned of Indra’s pitiable condition, and under their guru, Sukracharya’s direction, they took their weapons and declared war against the demigods. In the battle that followed, the demigods became severely mangled, and as a last recourse, they took shelter of Lord Brahma.

When Lord Brahma saw the injured demigods approaching, he gave them assurances and then said, “O best of the celestials, because of the madness that results from possessing material opulence, you failed to receive Brihaspati properly when he entered your assembly. It is very astonishing that you have acted so impudently toward the best of brahmanas, and it is because of this misbehavior that you have been defeated by the demons.”

     “Formerly, the demons had become very weak due to having disrespected their guru, Sukracharya, and thus you repeatedly defeated them in battle. Now, since they have worshiped Sukracharya and followed his instructions with firm determination, the demons have regained their power to such an extent that they could easily seize my abode if they so desired. The fact is that a leader, or anyone else, who has determined faith in the mercy of the brahmanas, cows, and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and always worships them, remains strong in his position.”

     “O demigods, you should approach Vishvarupa, the son of Tvasta, and accept him as your guru. He is a pure and very powerful brahmana, who is undergoing severe austerities. Being pleased by your worship, he will certainly fulfill all your desires, provided that you tolerate the fact that he is also inclined to favor the demons.”

After being advised by Brahma, the demigods felt relief from their anxieties and they approached Vishvarupa as instructed. After embracing him, the demigods said, “My dear brahmana, may there be all good fortune for you. Since we have come to your ashram as a guest, and are on the level of your parents, you should try to fulfill our request as a matter of duty.”

“Dear son, we have been defeated by our enemies, and thus we are very aggrieved. As a perfect brahmana, you are the spiritual master of all orders of life. We wish to accept you as our preceptor so that by the strength of your austerities we may easily defeat the demons. Do not fear criticism that you are younger than we are, for such etiquette does not apply with respect to one’s ability to chant the Vedic mantras. Therefore, although you are junior to us, you may become our priest without hesitation.”

Vishvarupa was very pleased to hear the demigods’ request, and he replied, “O devas, although the acceptance of priesthood is sometimes described as causing the loss of one’s previously acquired brahminical prowess, how can I refuse when you have personally come here? Since you are all exalted directors of the universe, and I am your disciple, I must agree for my own benefit. It is a fact that a true brahmana will maintain himself simply by picking up rejected grains from the field or marketplace. On the other hand, a brahmana who desires to achieve happiness by gaining wealth as a professional priest must certainly be very low-minded. And yet, although the acceptance of such priesthood is sometimes reproachable, I cannot refuse since you are all my superiors.”

     Thereafter, Vishvarupa performed his priestly activities with great enthusiasm and attention. Then, upon being requested, Vishvarupa delivered to Indra the secret mantra known as Narayana-kavacha, which is to be utilized as follows: When a cause of fear arrives, one should first of all wash his hands and legs, and then perform achamana while chanting, “om apavitrah pavitro va sarvavastham gato’pi va/ yah smaret pundarikaksham sa bahyabhyantarah suchi/ Shri-vishnu Shri-vishnu Shri-vishnu.”

Then, after touching kusha grass and sitting down gravely, facing north, one should chant the eight syllable mantra, “om namo narayanayana”, one syllable at a time, while touching his hands to eight parts of his body- the two feet, knees, thighs, abdomen, heart, chest, mouth, and head. Then, the syllables should be chanted while touching these eight parts of the body in reverse order.

Next, one should chant the twelve-syllable mantra “om namo bhagavate vasudevaya”, preceding each syllable with “om” while placing them, one syllable at a time, upon the finger-tips, beginning with the index finger of the right hand and concluding with the index finger of the left. The four remaining syllables should be placed upon the joints of the thumbs.

Next, one must chant the six-syllable mantra “om vishnave namah” placing “om” on the heart, “vi” on the top of the head, “sa” between the eyebrows, “na” on the sikha, and “ve” between the eyes. The syllable “na” should then be placed on all the joints of the body, while meditating upon “ma” as a weapon.

     In this way, one should become a perfect personification of the mantra. Finally, adding the visarga to the syllable “ma”, one should chant “mah astraya phat” in all directions, beginning from the east, thus binding them by the protective armor of the mantra. After finishing the chanting, one should think of himself as qualitatively one with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Narayana, and then chant the following prayer, which is known as Narayana-kavacha.

        “May the Supreme Lord, who sits upon the back of Garuda, with eight weapons in His hands- the conch shell, disc, shield, sword, club, arrows, bow, and ropes protect me at all times with His eight arms.”

“May Lord Varaha, who raised the earth from the Garbhodaka Ocean, protect me from rogues in the street.”

“May Lord Parashurama protect me while I am on the mountain peaks, and may Lord Ramachandra and His brother Lakshman, protect me in foreign countries.”

“May Lord Narayana protect me from falling down from my duties and following false religious systems due to madness, and may Nara protect me from unnecessary pride.”

“May Lord Dattatreya protect me from falling down while practicing bhakti-yoga, and may Lord Kapila protect me from the material bondage that results from performing fruitive activities.”

“May Sanat-kumara protect me from lusty desires, and may Lord Hayagriva protect me from becoming an offender by neglecting to offer obeisances unto the Supreme Lord.”

“May Devarishi Narada protect me from committing offenses while engaged in Deity worship, and may Lord Kurma protect me from falling down into hell.”

“May Lord Dhanvantari protect me from illnesses and eating undesirable things, and may Lord Rishabhadeva protect me from the fear of heat and cold.”

“May Lord Yagya protect me from defamation and harm from people in general, and may Lord Balarama, in the form of Sesha, protect me from envious serpents.”

“May the literary incarnation, Vyasadeva, protect me from all kinds of ignorance resulting from a lack of Vedic knowledge.”

“May Lord Buddha protect me from activities that are opposed to the Vedic principles, or the laziness that causes one to forget them, and may Lord Kalki protect me from contamination due to the age of Kali.”

       “May Lord Keshava protect me in the first portion of the day, may Lord Govinda protect me in the second portion, may Lord Narayana protect me in the third portion, and may Lord Vishnu protect me in the fourth portion.”

“May Lord Madhusudana protect me during the fifth part of the day, may Lord Madhava protect me in the evening, may Lord Hrishikesha protect me in the beginning of night, and may Lord Padmanabha protect me during the dead of night.”

“May the Supreme Lord, Who bears the mark of Shrivatsa on His chest, protect me after midnight, until twilight, and may Lord Janardana protect me at the end of the night.”

“May Lord Damodara protect me in the early morning, and may Lord Vishveshvara protect me during the junction of day and night.”

       “May the Sudarshana chakra burn my enemies to ashes, and may the Lord’s club help me pulverize the evil living beings known as Kusmandas, Vainayakas, Yakshas, Rakshasas, Bhutas and Grahas.”

“May the conch shell of the Lord always cause fear in the hearts of the Rakshasas, Pramatha ghosts, Pretas, Matas, Pisachas, and brahmana ghosts.”

“May the Supreme Lord’s sword cut the soldiers of my enemies to pieces, and may the shield that is marked with one hundred moon-like circles pluck out my enemies’ sinful eyes.”

“May the glorification of the transcendental name, form, qualities and paraphernalia of the Supreme Personality of Godhead protect me from the influence of bad planets, meteors, envious persons, serpents, scorpions, ferocious animals, ghosts, the elements, and my past sins.”

“May Lord Garuda protect me from all dangerous conditions, and may Lord Vishvaksena also protect me.”

“May the Supreme Lord’s holy names, His transcendental forms, His carriers, and His weapons protect my intelligence, senses, mind and life air from all kinds of dangers.”

“This cosmic manifestation is non-different from the Supreme Lord because He is the cause of all causes. Cause and effect are factually one, because the cause is present in the effect. Therefore, the Supreme Personality of Godhead can destroy all of our dangers by means of any of His potent parts. Although everything is manifested in unlimited variety, in the ultimate analysis, everything constitutes the supreme one, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Those who are advanced in spiritual knowledge thus see unity in diversity.”

“May the omniscient Lord, Who is present everywhere, always protect us from calamities. May Lord Nrisinghadeva protect us from all fear due to the dangers that are created by poison, weapons, water, fire, air, and so on. May Lord Nrisinghadeva protect us by covering the influence of our enemies with His own superior influence, in all directions and in all corners- above, below, within and without.”

     Vishvarupa then concluded by instructing Indra, “This mystic armor of Lord Narayana will certainly enable you to conquer your enemies, the demons. If one employs this armor, whomever he sees or touches with his feet is immediately freed from all of the above-mentioned dangers. One who utilizes this Narayana-kavacha prayer is never disturbed or put into danger by the government, by plunderers, by evil demons, or by any type of diseases.”

     “O King Indra, a brahmana named Kaushika formerly used this armor when he purposely gave up his body in the desert by utilizing his mystic power. Once, the Gandharva King Chitraratha passed over Kaushika’s remains, while riding in his airplane, surrounded by many beautiful women. Suddenly, he was forced to fall headfirst to the ground by the power of the Narayana-kavacha. Struck with wonder, Chitraratha ordered the Valikhilya rishis to throw the brahmana’s bones into the nearby River Sarasvati. Then, after bathing, the Gandharva King returned to his own abode.”

     Vishvarupa had three heads. He used one to drink soma-rasa, another to drink wine, and the third to eat. Vishvarupa was related to the demigods on his father’s side, but because the demons were his relatives on his mother’s side, he would secretly offer them oblations, along with those that were being offered to the demigods. 

Once, Indra detected how Vishvarupa was surreptitiously cheating the demigods in this way. Becoming very afraid of being defeated by the demons, the King of heaven angrily cut off Vishvarupa’s three heads. Immediately, the head that drank soma-rasa transformed into a kapinjala bird (francolin partridge). The head that drank wine turned into a kalavinka (sparrow) and the head that ate solid food transformed into a tittiri bird (common partridge).

But, after killing Vishvarupa, Indra became very repentant. Thus, even though he was powerful enough to neutralize the sinful reactions for killing a brahmana, Indra voluntarily accepted them with folded hands. Thereafter, the King of heaven suffered for one year, and then, to purify himself, he distributed the remaining sinful reactions among the earth, water, trees and women. The land agreed to accept one-fourth of the sinful reactions for killing a brahmana in exchange for Indra’s benediction that its ditches would become automatically filled. Because of this, there are now many deserts on the surface of the earth, and no auspicious rituals can be performed there. The inhabitants of the deserts are also understood to be sharing Indra’s reactions for having killed Vishvarupa.

     In return for Indra’s benediction that their branches and twigs would grow back when trimmed, the trees accepted one-fourth of the sinful reactions. These reactions are now visible as the flowing of sap from trees, which is therefore not fit to be drunk.

In return for Indra’s benediction that they could enjoy lusty desires continuously, women accepted one-fourth of his sinful reactions. As a result, they menstruate every month and thus are untouchable during this period.

In return for Indra’s benediction that it would increase the volume of other substances when mixed, water accepted one-fourth of the sinful reactions. For this reason there are bubbles and foam in water, and so these should be carefully avoided.

     Tvasta became enraged upon hearing of his son’s death, and so he performed a particular ritual for the purpose of killing Indra. While offering oblations, Tvasta commanded, “O enemy of Indra, flourish to kill your foe without delay!”

However, instead of pronouncing the intended word, “indra-shatro” which means “enemy of Indra”, Tvasta mistakenly said “indra-shatro”, making the “a” long, so that the meaning was changed to “Indra, who is an enemy”.

     Thereafter, from the southern side of the sacrificial fire, came a very fearful personality who looked like the destroyer of the entire universe at the end of the millenium. Like arrows released in the four directions, the demon’s body rapidly grew, day by day. He was gigantic and blackish, so that he looked like a burnt hill, and he was lustrous like an array of clouds brightened by the late-afternoon sun. The demon’s hair, beard, and moustache were the color of molten copper, and his eyes were as piercing as the mid-day sun. He appeared to be holding the three worlds on the points of his blazing trident, and while dancing and shouting with a loud voice, he made the entire surface of the earth tremble.

      As he yawned, again and again, he seemed to be trying to swallow up the entire sky, for his mouth was as deep as a cave. He appeared to be licking up the stars in the sky with his tongue, and eating the entire universe with his long, sharp teeth. All those who happened to see this gigantic demon ran here and there in all directions, having lost their senses due to fear. Since this son of Tvasta covered all of the planetary systems, he was given the name Vritra (one who covers everything).

     The army of the demigods, led by King Indra, charged at Vritrasura but whatever weapons they released were easily swallowed up by the great demon. Astonished and disappointed, the demigods lost all of their strength and enthusiasm and thus became afraid for their very lives.

After assembling, the demigods took shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and they offered their prayers as follows:  “All of us are very afraid that the time actor will end our existence, but because time is afraid of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, let us now take shelter of Him, for He alone can give us all protection. Anyone that desires to be protected by someone else is certainly a great fool. His hope is something like the hope of someone that tries to cross the sea by holding onto a dog’s tail.”

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead is always situated before us as Paramatma, but we cannot see His form because of considering ourselves to be separate and independent gods. Let us now take shelter of that Supreme Lord, for we are confident that He will give us protection.”

     After hearing the demigods’ prayers, the Supreme Lord first of all manifested Himself within their hearts, and then He appeared visibly before them. Upon seeing the Lord, with His smiling face and lotus-petal eyes, the demigods became overwhelmed by feelings of happiness and immediately fell to the ground like rods, to offer Him their respectful obeisances.

After slowly rising up, the demigods endeavored to please the Lord by offering the following prayers:  “O Supreme Personality of Godhead, we offer our respectful obeisances unto You. Since we have all appeared after Your creation of this cosmic manifestation, Your activities are impossible for us to understand. Therefore, we have nothing to offer You but our humble obeisances.”

     “O Supreme Personality of Godhead, all seeming contradictions are reconciled in You, for there is no duality in Your constitutional position. A rope causes fear for a bewildered person who considers it to be a snake, but not for a person who knows it to be merely a rope. As the Supreme Soul in everyone’s heart, You inspire fear or fearlessness according to one’s intelligence, but in You there is no such duality. O killer of the Madhu demon, incessant transcendental bliss flows in the minds of those who have even once tasted but a drop of the nectar from the ocean of Your glories. Such exalted devotees forget the tiny reflection of so-called material happiness produced from the material senses.”

     “O Lord, You are the soul and dear friend of such devotees, who never need return to this material world. O supremely powerful one, You appear in Your forms as the various incarnations, to punish the demons as soon as they become too powerful. We therefore pray that Your Lordship appear today as another incarnation, if You so desire, to kill the great demon, Vritrasura.”

“We are all surrendered souls at Your lotus feet, and so please be sympathetic towards us. By Your love-filled glance, with its cool and pleasing smile of sympathy, and by the sweet nectar-like words emanating from Your beautiful face, free us from the anxiety caused by this demon, who pains the very cores of our hearts.”

“O Lord, You are the Complete Whole, and the knower of everything. Therefore, of what do we need to inform You? Being omniscient, You know very well why we have taken shelter of Your lotus feet, which are the only means for subduing all the tribulations of this material world.”

     Being sakama devotees that desire to enjoy material facilities, the demigods approached the Supreme Lord in the hopes of getting relief from their distress. But, when akama devotees fall into difficulty, they never disturb the Lord, but instead, agree to suffer the consequences, considering them to be the results of their past misdeeds. Being well aware of this distinction, the demigods apologized to the Lord for approaching Him for protection.

      Still, the Supreme Lord was pleased with their sincere surrender, and He replied to them as follows:  “O best of intelligent demigods, by offering such prayers in full knowledge, one becomes fully purified, and thus eligible for rendering pure devotional service in the liberated condition.”

“Although it is true that there is nothing difficult to obtain for one with whom I am pleased, a pure devotee does not ask anything from Me, except the opportunity to engage in devotional service. Those who think that material assets are everything, and are thus ignorant of the real goal of life, are called kripana (misers). Not only are such persons most foolish, but so are those who award them the fulfillment of their desires. A pure devotee will never tell such foolish persons to engage in fruitive work for the purpose of achieving material enjoyment, and so what to speak of helping him in such activities. Such a devotee is like an experienced physician who never encourages a patient to eat food that would be injurious to his health, even if he desires it.”

     “My dear Indra, I advise you to approach the great rishi, Dadhyancha (Dadhichi), who has become very powerful because of his knowledge and austerities, and request him to give you his body. Knowing that he had fully assimilated the spiritual science, the Ashvini-kumaras previously begged him for instruction, and thus they became jivan-mukta, or liberated in this very life. Dadhyancha’s invincible protective covering, the Narayana-kavacha, was given to Tvasta, and he delivered it to his son, Vishvarupa, from whom you received it. Because of the Narayana-kavacha, Dadhichi’s body is very strong.”

“When the Ashvini-kumaras beg for his body on your behalf, the rishi will surely give it. Vishvakarma should then manufacture a thunderbolt from its bones. I will invest this weapon with My personal power, and thus you will surely be able to kill Vritrasura with it.”

     “My dear Indra, after Vritrasura’s death, all good fortune will be yours. Although the great demon is capable of destroying the three worlds, do not fear that he will harm you. He is also a devotee, and will never be envious of anyone.”

     “When the Ashvini-kumaras had previously begged Dadhichi Muni for instruction in the spiritual science, the rishi had replied, “I am now engaged in arranging for the performance of fruitive sacrifices. Therefore, please come back after some time.”

     After the departure of the Ashvini-kumaras, Indra came to Dadhichi and said, “My dear great sage, because the Ashvini-kumaras are only physicians, do not give them spiritual instruction. If you go ahead and do so, in spite of my warning, I will punish you by cutting off your head.”

     The Ashvini-kumaras knew about Indra’s threat, and sometime later on, they returned to Dadhichi and once again begged him for brahma-vidya. When the rishi informed them of Indra’s warning, the Ashvini-kumaras replied, “Let us cut off your head and then replace it with that of a horse. After you instruct us through the horse’s head, Indra will cut it off, but then we shall reward you and also put back your original one.”

     Since Dadhichi had previously promised to instruct the Ashvini-kumaras, he agreed to their proposal. In this way, the brahma-vidya that he imparted through the mouth of a horse came to be known as Ashvashira.

     The Lord had hoped that the demigods would pray for unalloyed devotional service, but instead, they prayed for the opportunity to kill their enemy. This is the difference between a pure devotee and a devotee on the material platform. After instructing Indra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari disappeared then and there from the onlooking demigods.

     Thereafter, the demigods approached Dadhichi, the son of Atharva, and begged him to give them his body. Being very liberal, Dadhichi was prepared to honor the demigods’ request. But first, just to hear some good instructions, he smiled and then jokingly said, “O elevated demigods, at the time of death there is a severe, unbearable pain that takes away one’s consciousness. Don’t you know this? Everyone in this world is very much addicted to his material body, and thus one struggles to protect it by all means, even at the cost of sacrificing all of his possessions. Indeed, one hopes to keep his body forever. Therefore, who would be prepared to give up his material body to anyone, even if it were demanded by Lord Vishnu Himself?”

     The demigods replied, “O exalted brahmana, persons like yourself are very kind and compassionate toward the people in general. Such persons can give anything for the benefit of others, including their own bodies. Those who are too self-interested beg something from others, not knowing of their difficulties. Similarly, one who is able to give in charity but does not do so is callous to the difficulties of the beggar. For this reason, a beggar should not ask charity from one who is in difficulty, and one who is able to do so should not deny giving to a beggar.”

Dadhichi then said, “I only pretended to refuse to offer you my body, so that I could hear from you about religious principles. Although my body is extremely dear to me, I know that I should give it up for your better purposes, since it will leave me anyway, either today or tomorrow.”

“One who has no compassion for the suffering of human society and does not sacrifice his impermanent body for the cause of God consciousness, is certainly most condemned. If one is unhappy to see the distress of others, and happy to see their happiness, then he is situated on the platform of eternal religious principles. This body, which is eatable by dogs and jackals after death does not do me (the spirit soul) any good, and it is usable for only a short period of time. Therefore, the body and its possessions must be engaged for the benefit of others, otherwise they will become sources of tribulation.”

     Having said this, the great sage, Dadhichi placed himself, the spirit soul at the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and then gave up his gross material body made of five elements. While absorbed in trance, Dadhichi severed all material attachment, and thus he could not even perceive how his material body became separated from his self.

     After this, Vishvakarma manufactured a thunderbolt form the bones of Dadhichi’s body and Lord Vishnu infused the weapon with His potency. King Indra then picked up the thunderbolt and departed on the back of Airavata, surrounded by all of the demigods and praised by all of the great sages. Being charged with the power of Dadhichi and enlightened by the prowess of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Indra shone very beautifully as he rode off to kill his enemy, Vritrasura.

     Thereafter, in the beginning of the Treta-yuga, during the first millenium of the Vaivasvata manvantara (a millenium means a cycle of the four yugas, and one manvantara consists of seventy-one milleniums), a fierce battle took place between the demigods and demons on the banks of the River Narmada. Indra was surrounded by the Rudras, Vasus, Ashvini-kumaras, Pitas, Vahnis, Maruts, Ribhus, Sadhyas and Vishvadevas. On the other side, Vritrasura was supported by thousands of demons, demi-demons, Yakshas,  and Rakshasas, headed by Sumali and Mali, Numuchi, Sambara, Hayagriva, Viprachitti, Vrishaparva, Praheti, Heti and Utkala.

     While roaring tumultuously like lions, the demons attacked the demigods on all sides and incessantly showered their clubs, bludgeons, arrows, barbed darts, lances, tridents, axes and swords upon them. Being completely covered by the network of weapons that fell upon them, the demigods became temporarily invisible. By acting quickly, however, they escaped injury by cutting all of the demons’ weapons to pieces in the sky, before they could reach them.

When the demons ran out of weapons, they began throwing mountain peaks, trees and stones upon the demigod soldiers, but these were also broken into pieces as they soared through the sky. When the demons saw that their attack had proved ineffective, like the rough words of insignificant persons who angrily make accusations against saintly devotees, they became very frightened and lost their pride in fighting. Feeling powerless, the demons deserted their leader and fled hastily from the battlefield, even though the fight had hardly begun.

     Upon seeing his army scatter out of fear, Vritrasura smilingly chastised them: “O Viprachitti, O Namuchi, O Sambara, please hear me and do not flee. Whoever has been born in this material world must die, because death is inevitable. Therefore, if one can gain promotion to the higher planetary systems and achieve eternal fame on earth by dying a suitable death, what sane man would refuse such an opportunity?”

“There are two kinds of glorious deaths- by the performance of mystic yoga and by being killed on the battlefield without having turned one’s back. Therefore, my dear demons, give up your cowardice and return to the battle at once.”

     In spite of hearing Vritrasura’s advice, which was just according to religious principles, the demons were too overwhelmed by fear to accept them. Taking advantage of the situation, the demigods attacked the demons from the rear, and upon seeing the pitiable condition of his army, Vritrasura became very aggrieved.

     Unable to tolerate this reverse, he began to strongly rebuke the demigods in great anger: “Since these demons have taken birth uselessly, like the stool of their mothers, what is the use of killing them from behind as they flee in fear? One who considers himself to be a hero should never kill an enemy who is afraid of losing his life.”

“Insignificant demigods, if you truly have faith in your heroism, then please stand before me for just a moment. Otherwise, if you have no desire to fight, then I will let you go peacefully, for I am not so evil-minded as to attack one who is not willing to fight.”

The sight of the gigantic demon, Vritrasura already terrified the demigods, and when he roared tumultuously, they practically fainted to the ground, as if struck by thunderbolts. As the demigods fearfully closed their eyes, Vritrasura picked up his trident, and while making the earth tremble, he crushed the demigods underfoot, just as a mad elephant tramples hollow bamboo while roaming through the forest. The enraged Indra hurled his great club, but Vritrasura easily caught it with his left hand and then angrily used it to strike Airavata on the head.

     Because of this blow, the elephant-carrier reeled back while spitting blood from its broken mouth. As the soldiers on both sides glorified Vritrasura for this heroic deed, Airavata fell down to the ground, with Indra on its back. Since his carrier had never before been hampered like this, Indra became very depressed, and so Vritrasura honored the rules for fighting and refrained from striking him. Taking advantage of this, Indra touched Airavata with his nectar-producing hand so that he became relieved of all pain, and his injuries were healed.

     Thereafter, when Vritrasura saw Indra come before him with his thunderbolt in hand, he remembered how the king of heaven had heartlessly slain his brother, Vishvarupa. While contemplating Indra’s cruel deed, Vritrasura became mad with lamentation.

After laughing sarcastically, he addressed Indra as follows: “By good fortune, the person who killed my brother and his own spiritual master is now standing before me.”        

“O most abominable one, when I pierce your stone-like heart with my trident, I shall become freed from the debt to my brother. Simply for the sake of maintaining your heavenly enjoyment, you mercilessly killed a self-realized and sinless brahmana who was acting as your sacrificial priest.”

     “Indra, you are bereft of all shame, mercy, glory and good fortune, as a result of your fruitive actions. Because of this, after you die a painful death, having been struck by my trident, even the fire will not touch you. Only the vultures will condescend to eat your sinful body.”

“If the other demigods foolishly follow you and attack me, I will sever their heads with my trident and then offer them in sacrifice to Bairava and his hordes of ghosts. On the other hand, if you are able to cut off my head with your thunderbolt, I shall take great pleasure in having my body eaten by other living entities. In this way, I will become relieved from suffering for my past sins, and thus become eligible to receive the dust from the lotus feet of great devotees, such as Narada Muni.”

     “O king of the demigods, since I, your enemy am standing before you, why do you hesitate to hurl your thunderbolt? Although the attack of your club was certainly useless, like the request of money from a miser, you should not doubt the capability of your thunderbolt. Since it has been empowered by Lord Vishnu and the strength of Dadhichi’s austerities, and since you have come here to fight with me on the order of the Lord, there is no doubt that I will be killed by your thunderbolt. Because Lord Vishnu has taken your side- victory, opulence, and all good fortune are guaranteed.”    

     “By the force of your thunderbolt, I will become freed from material bondage, and by fixing my mind upon the lotus feet of Lord Sankarshana, I shall attain to the highest destination, as the Lord Himself previously assured me.”

“Persons who fully surrender at the lotus feet of the Lord and always think of Him are accepted by the Lord as His personal servants. The Supreme Personality of Godhead never bestows material opulence upon such surrendered servants, for such possessions naturally increase one’s enmity, anxiety, mental agitation, pride and belligerence. While endeavoring to increase and maintain such possessions, one suffers because of hard labor, and then later on he laments upon their loss. By the mercy of the Lord, His devotees are saved from uselessly endeavoring for achievements in dharma, artha, kama, and moksha. However, such mercy is obtainable only by unalloyed devotees, and not those who aspire for material gain.”

     After speaking in this way to Indra, Vritrasura turned his attention to his worshipable Deity. Vritrasura prayed, “O my Lord, will I again be able to engage in the service of Your eternal servants so that my mind may always think of Your transcendental attributes, my words glorify those attributes, and my body engage in Your loving service?”

“O my Lord, I do not desire an exalted post as the ruler of one of the material planetary systems. Nor do I desire the powers of mystic yoga or even liberation, if it entails giving up the shelter of Your lotus feet.”

     “O lotus-eyed Lord, as baby birds always look for their mother to return and feed them, as small calves tied up with rope anxiously await the time of milking, or as a morose wife longs for the return of her husband who is far away- I always yearn for the opportunity to render direct service unto You.”

“O my Lord, I am wandering throughout this material world, and due to the spell of Your external energy, I remain attached to my body, wife, children and home. Now, however, I wish to be attached to these things no longer. Let my mind, consciousness, and everything that I possess, be attached only to You.”

     Vritrasura was very eager to die, so that he could immediately return back home, back to Godhead. On the other hand, Indra wanted to gain victory over Vritrasura so that he could enjoy heavenly sense gratification and thus continue to rot within the material world. Both Indra and Vritrasura were certainly devotees, although the king of heaven took instruction from the Lord so that he could kill the so-called demon.

     Actually, the Lord was more merciful to Vritrasura, although He awarded both the son of Tvasta and the king of heaven their desired benedictions. In spite of being a devotee, Indra was more interested in material happiness than gaining release from material bondage. Being an unalloyed devotee, however, Vritrasura’s only aspiration was to associate personally with the Supreme Personality of Godhead and render service unto Him. Therefore, real victory was destined for Vritrasura and not for Indra, who would have to remain within the material world and suffer repeated birth and death.

     After understanding Vritrasura’s exalted qualities, Indra became morose at the prospect of having to kill such a great devotee, and thus he was hesitant to release his thunderbolt. Vritrasura was disappointed to see such reluctance, however, because he considered death preferable to victory. For this reason, he took the initiative by forcefully attacking Indra with his trident. The points of that trident blazed like fire, and as Vritrasura hurled it, he roared and then loudly exclaimed, “O sinful one, now you shall die!”

     Vritrasura’s trident looked like a shining meteor as it flew through the sky, and thus it was difficult to look at. Nevertheless, Indra fearlessly smashed the trident to pieces with his thunderbolt while simultaneously cutting off Vritrasura’s right arm, which was as thick as Vasuki’s body. Despite the severed arm, Vritrasura angrily rushed at Indra and struck him on the jaw with an iron mace. Then he once again gave a severe blow to Airavata. As a result, Indra dropped the thunderbolt from his hand, and upon seeing this, all of the celestials cried out exclamations of great alarm. As both demigods and demons praised Vritrasura’s wonderful prowess, Indra felt very ashamed because of his defeat, and thus he did not dare pick up his thunderbolt again.

     To encourage Indra, Vritrasura then said, “Take your thunderbolt and kill your enemy. This is not the time to lament over your fate. Indra, no one except the Supreme Personality of Godhead is guaranteed of being always victorious.”

     “Everyone within the universe, including the great demigods, is fully under the control of the Lord, like birds that are caught in a net and thus cannot move independently. As a wooden puppet, or an animal made of grass and leaves cannot move by itself, but depends completely upon the person who handles it, all of us dance according to the desire of the supreme controller. Just as a person who is not inclined to die must nonetheless give up his life, fame, and opulence at the time of death- so, at the appointed time of victory, one can gain all of these things by the mercy of the Supreme Lord.”

     “Because everything is dependent upon the supreme will of the Lord, one should be equipoised in fame and defamation, victory and defeat, life and death. While experiencing the effects of happiness and distress, one should maintain himself in a state of equilibrium, without anxiety. One who knows that the three modes of material nature are not qualities of the soul, and who knows that the pure soul is simply an observer of the actions and reactions of these qualities, should be accepted as a liberated person who is not bound by the modes of nature.”

      “Indra, I have already been defeated because my weapon and my arm have been cut to pieces. Still, I am trying my best to fight, and I am not at all morose. In the same way, you should give up your moroseness and continue fighting. Just consider this battle to be like a gambling match in which our lives are the stakes, the arrows are the dice, and the animal carriers are the game board. No one can understand who will be defeated and who will come out victorious, because the outcome depends upon providence.”

     Vritrasura, although supposedly a demon, was so great that he was, in effect, acting as Indra’s spiritual master. Vritrasura knew that he was going to be defeated, and he accepted it without remorse. Still, he continued trying his best to kill Indra, on the basis that one should perform his duty in all circumstances, even though he may already know the outcome. Indra was certainly astonished to hear Vritrasura’s very intelligent instructions, and thus he remembered how Prahlada and Bali Maharaja were also born in the family of demons.

     After praising Vritrasura, Indra once again picked up his thunderbolt and then smilingly replied, “O great demon, I can see by your understanding and determination that you are a perfect devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Generally, demons are absorbed in the mode of passion, and thus it is a great wonder that you have fixed your mind upon the Supreme Lord in pure goodness. One who is fixed in the devotional service of the Supreme Lord always swims in the ocean of nectar. For him, what is the use of the water in small ditches?”

After discussing the principles of devotional service on the battlefield, Indra and Vritrasura continued fighting as a matter of duty. Vritrasura picked up an iron club with his left hand, whirled it around menacingly, and then hurled it at Indra. With his thunderbolt, which is named Shataparvan, due to having one hundred joints, Indra simultaneously cut the club to pieces and severed Vritrasura’s remaining arm. While bleeding profusely, the great demon looked very beautiful, like a flying mountain whose wings had been cut off.

      Vritrasura then placed his lower jaw upon the ground and his upper jaw in the sky, so that his wide-open mouth became as vast as space itself. His tongue resembled a large serpent, and with his fearful teeth, he appeared to be trying to devour the entire universe. Having assumed a gigantic form, Vritrasura made even great mountains shake, and while appearing like a walking Himalaya mountain, he crushed the surface of the earth. Suddenly coming before Indra, Vritrasura devoured him, along with Airavata, just as a big python might swallow an elephant. When the demigods, headed by Lord Brahma saw this calamity, they became extremely morose and exclaimed, “Oh, what a disaster!”

     However, since he was being protected by the Narayana-kavacha, as well as his own mystic power, Indra did not die, despite being swallowed by the great demon. By using his thunderbolt, Indra cut open Vritrasura’s abdomen and came out, to the great relief of the demigods who were standing by as spectators. Indra immediately began to cut off Vritrasura’s head, which was as high as a mountain peak. And yet, although the thunderbolt revolved around the demon’s neck at great speed, it took one full year to sever it.

     Finally, at a suitable time, Vritrasura’s head fell to the ground, and upon seeing this, the demigods in heaven showered flowers upon Indra, while beating their drums in jubilation and praising him with the chanting of the Vedic mantras. The soul within Vritrasura’s body then emerged and returned home, back to Godhead, so that he became an eternal associate of Lord Sankarshana.

     Actually, when Vritrasura had swallowed Indra, he considered his enemy to be dead, and thus thought that there was no more need for fighting. Having come to this conclusion, Vritrasura stopped all of his bodily activities and situated himself in trance for the purpose of returning home, back to Godhead. Thus, Vritrasura remained in yoga-samadhi as Indra pierced through his body and then decapitated it.

     After the death of Vritrasura, everyone within the three worlds felt greatly relieved, except King Indra. As all of the demigods, demons, and their followers were returning home, no one spoke a word to the king of heaven. Previously, when the demigods and great sages had requested Indra to kill Vritrasura, he had declined, being very much afraid of killing a brahmana.

At this time, Indra had said, “My dear sages, after killing Vishvarupa, I received very extensive sinful reactions. Fortunately, with the help of women, the land, trees and water, I was able to get relief. Now, if I kill Vritrasura, who is also a brahmana, how shall I be able to free myself from the reactions?”

     The great rishis replied, “O Indra, let there be all good fortune for you. Do not fear, for we shall perform an ashvamedha sacrifice to release you from any sinful reactions that you might incur due to killing Vritrasura. By the performance of an ashvamedha-yagya, one can please the Supreme Personality of Godhead and thus become relieved of the sinful reactions for killing the population of the entire world, and so what to speak of a sinful demon. In fact, simply by chanting the holy name of Lord Narayana, even one who is a dog-eater can become immediately freed from all sinful reactions incurred due to the killing of a brahmana, a cow, father, mother or even one’s spiritual master.”

    Having become encouraged by these words, Indra fought with Vritrasura, but afterwards, he became very unhappy for having killed a great devotee of the Lord. In addition, the sinful reaction for killing a brahmana took shelter of Indra, and thus he could not gain relief from his grief. Indra had killed Vishvarupa due to circumstantial anger, but this time, under the direction of the sages, he had purposely killed Vritrasura. For this reason, the sinful reaction was greater and could not be counteracted by mere atonement, or the performance of an ashvamedha-yagya.

     The planned execution of sinful acts, done on the strength of chanting the holy name of the Lord, or undergoing any other means of atonement, cannot be excused under any circumstances. Because of this, Indra saw sinful reaction personified chasing him, in the form of a chandala woman. She appeared to be very old, and because she was afflicted with tuberculosis, her entire body trembled and her garments and limbs were covered with blood. While breathing an unbearable fishy odor that polluted the entire area, she called out to Indra, “Wait! Wait!”

     Indra tried to flee through the sky, but wherever he went, he saw sin personified right behind him. At last, after going towards the northeast, Indra entered the Manasa-sarovara Lake and remained there invisibly for one thousand years, within the subtle fibers of a lotus stem. During this period, Agni delivered to Indra his sacrificial shares, but because the fire-god was afraid to enter the water, the king of heaven almost starved.

     Meanwhile, King Nahusha was empowered to occupy the throne of heaven, in Indra’s absence. However, due to becoming madly intoxicated by his newly acquired power and opulence, Nahusha tried to enjoy Indra’s wife, Sachi. As a result, he was forced to accept the body of a snake after being cursed by a brahmana.

     Indra was being protected by Lakshmi, the wife of Lord Vishnu, who resides in the clusters of lotuses at Manasa-sarovara, and so he remained unaffected by his sins. Finally, after becoming relieved of his sinful reactions by strictly worshiping Lord Vishnu, Indra was called back to heaven by the brahmanas, who then initiated him into the performance of a horse sacrifice. In this way, all final traces of Indra’s sinful reactions were vanquished, and thus he regained his exalted position, and was once again honored by everyone.

     Shukadeva Gosvami then concluded by saying, “In this very great narration, there is glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana, and His great devotees. By understanding this incident, one becomes relieved of all sinful reactions. In addition, he becomes expert in the activities of the senses, his opulence increases, and his reputation becomes widespread. One who reads or hears this narration will conquer over all of his enemies, and his duration of life will increase. Because this narration is so auspicious in all respects, learned scholars regularly hear and repeat it on every festival day.”