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Tenth Skanda

Chapter 66: The False Vâsudeva Paundraka and His Son Consumed by Their Own Fire

(1) S’rî S’uka said: ‘With Balarâma gone to Nanda’s cowherd village sent the ruler of Karûsha [Paundraka], o King, foolishly thinking ‘I am Vâsudeva’, a messenger to Krishna. (2) Childishly people had alluded: ‘You are Vâsudeva, the Supreme Lord who has descended as the Master of the Universe!’, and so he imagined himself to be the Infallible One. (3) Like a boy of little intelligence who by kids was appointed king sent he, being silly, a messenger to Krishna, He whose ways are inscrutable, who resided in Dvârakâ. (4) The envoy arriving in Dvârakâ then in the royal assembly relayed to Krishna Almighty with the Lotuspetal Eyes the message of his king: (5) ‘I Vâsudeva, the one and only without a second, have descended to this world with the purpose of showing mercy to the living beings. You however, have to give up Your false title! (6) O Sâtvata, give up my symbols. You carry them out of delusion. You better come to me for shelter; if not so, give me battle instead.’

(7) S’rî S’uka said: ‘Hearing that boasting of Paundraka so poor of intelligence, laughed the members of the assembly headed by Ugrasena loudly. (8) The Supreme Lord, after the joking was done, said to the messenger: ‘I’ll hurl you, o fool, the symbols you so boast about. (9) The shelter of dogs you’ll be, o ignoramus, lying dead with that face of yours covered by herons, vultures and vathas all around.’

(10) Thus addressed carried the messenger that insulting reply in full detail over to his master and went Krishna, riding His chariot, to Kâs’î [Vârânasî]. (11) As soon as the mighty warrior Paundraka saw that He was preparing for battle, appeared he from the city joined by two akshauhinîs. (12-14) The Lord saw Paundraka within his wake his friend, the master of Kâs’î, with three akshauhinîs more, o King. He presented himself complete with a conch, a disc, a sword and a club, a S’ârnga and the mark of a S’rîvatsa and other symbols, including a Kaustubha-gem and the decoration of a forest flower garland. Wearing a pair of fine silken yellow garments and in his banner Garuda wore he a valuable crown and had he ornamented himself with gleaming shark-shaped earrings. (15) The sight of him dressed up as His spitting image, like he was an actor on a stage, made the Lord laugh heartily. (16) With tridents, clubs and bludgeons, pikes, blades, barbed missiles, lances, swords, axes and arrows was the Lord attacked by the enemies. (17) Krishna however with His club, sword, disc and arrows fiercely tormented that military force of elephants, chariots, horses and infantry of Paundraka and the king of Kâs’î, like He was the fire at the end of the world to the different kinds of living entities. (18) That battlefield, strewn with the by His disc cut to pieces chariots, horses, elephants, bipeds, mules and camels, shone like the horrible playground of the Lord of the Ghosts [Bhûtapati, or S’iva], bringing pleasure to the wise. (19) S’auri then said to Paundraka: ‘Those weapons you spoke of to Me through the words of your messenger, I now discharge at you. (20) I’ll make you renounce My name and all, that you falsely assumed, o fool; let Me today turn to you for shelter [as you wanted], if not wishing the battle.’

(21) Thus deriding him, drove He with His sharp arrows Paundraka out of his chariot and lopped He with His disc his head off, just like Indra with his thunderbolt would cut a mountain top. (22) So too severed He with His arrows the head of the king of Kâs’î from his body, sending it flying into Kâs’î-puri like the wind transporting a calyx of a lotus. (23) Thus having killed as well the envious Paundraka as his friend, entered the Lord Dvârakâ where He was honored by the perfected who recited His nectarean stories. (24) And so did he [Paundraka] of whom by his constant meditation upon Him in assuming the personal form of the Lord all bondage was completely shattered, become fully absorbed in Him [viz. Krishna conscious], o King [see sârûpya]. (25) Seeing the head with the earrings that had landed near the palace gate, wondered the people: ‘Whose head would this be?’ (26) Recognizing it as the head of the king, the ruler of Kâs’î, cried his queens, his sons and other relatives and the citizens their eyes out over it: ‘Alas master, o master, o King, we’re killed!’ (27-28) His son named Sudakshina for the father executing the funeral rites, made up his mind and decided: ‘In order to avenge my father I’ll kill my father’s murderer’, and for that reason prayed he as su-dakshina, ‘the excellence of the reward’, together with priests with great attention to Mahes’vara [Lord S’iva]. (29) At [the holy place of] Avimukta offered the great lord him satisfied a choice of benedictions, upon which he as his benediction from the mighty demigod chose for a means to slay Him who had killed his father. (30-31) [S’iva said: ] ‘With brahmins and the original priest be of service to the dakshina [southern] fire with an abhicâra [‘hurting’] ritual of use against an enemy of the brahmins, so that surrounded by the Pramathas [see also 10.63: 6] your desire is fulfilled’, and thus instructed observed he the vows with the purpose of harming Krishna. (32-33) Thereupon rose up from the fire of the altar pit, an impressive figure most horrendous with a tuft of hair, beard and mustache like molten copper, hot radiating cinders of eyes, terrible teeth and a harsh face with arched and furrowed eyebrows, who, with his tongue licking the corners of his mouth, naked waved a blazing trident [see also 4.5: 3 and 6.9: 12]. (34) With legs as big as palm trees shaking the earth ran he accompanied by ghosts to Dvârakâ burning the directions. (35) Seeing him, created from the abhicâra fire, approaching were all the residents of Dvârakâ, just like animals are with a big forest fire, stricken with fear. (36) Distraught went they in panic to the Supreme Personality of Godhead who in the royal court was playing a game of dice [and said to Him]: ‘Save us, save us from the fire burning down the city, o Lord of the Three Worlds!’

(37) Hearing this clamor of the people and seeing how upset His own men were, laughed S’aranya, the Protector, loudly and said: ‘Do not be afraid of this, I’ll protect you!’

(38) The Almighty Lord, the Witness within and without of everyone, understood the creature to be of Mahes’vara and aimed to put an end to him the cakra He had always at His side. (39) That weapon, the Sudars’ana cakra of Krishna, that like a million suns was blazing with an effulgence like the fire at the end of the universe, tormented with its heat the sky, the heavens and the earth in the ten directions, affecting as well the fire [of the demon; see also 9.4: 46]. (40) He, the fire that was created, frustrated by the power of the weapon of Him with the Disc in His Hand turned around, o King, and in his deference from all sides closed in on Vârânasî and burned to death Sudakshina and all his priests with the abhicâra he had called for himself. (41) So also did the cakra of Vishnu in pursuit enter Vârânasî with its gateways and watchtowers and its many raised porches, assembly halls, market places, warehouses and the buildings housing the elephants, horses, chariots and grains. (42) Having laid in ashes all of Vârânasî returned Vishnu’s Sudars’ana disc to the side of Krishna whose actions are effortless. (43) Any mortal who in full attention recounts or hears this heroic pastime of the Supreme One who is praised in the verses will be released of all sins.’