11 / The Deliverance of Paundraka and the King of Kasi

Seeing Paundraka imitating His posture and dress, He (Lord Krishna) could not check His laughter.

The story of King Paundraka is very interesting because there have always been many rascals and fools who have considered themselves to be God. Even in the presence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, there was such a foolish person. His name was Paundraka, and he wanted to declare himself to be God. While Lord Balarama was absent in Vrndavana, this King Paundraka, the King of the Karusa province, being foolish and puffed up, sent a messenger to Lord Krsna. Lord Krsna is accepted as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and King Paundraka directly challenged Krsna through the messenger, who stated that Paundraka, and not Krsna, was Vasudeva. In the present day there are many foolish followers of such rascals. Similarly, in his day, many foolish men accepted Paundraka as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Because he could not estimate his own position, Paundraka falsely thought himself to be Lord Vasudeva. Thus the messenger declared to Krsna that out of his causeless mercy, King Paundraka, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, had descended on the earth just to deliver all distressed persons.
Surrounded by many other foolish persons, this rascal Paundraka had actually concluded that he was Vasudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This kind of conclusion is certainly childish. When children are playing, they sometimes create a king amongst themselves, and the child who is selected thinks that he is the king. Similarly, many foolish persons, due to ignorance, select another fool as God, and then the rascal considers himself God, as if God could be created by childish play or by the votes of men. Under this false impression, thinking himself the Supreme Lord, Paundraka sent his messenger to Dvaraka to challenge the position of Krsna. The messenger reached the royal assembly of Krsna in Dvaraka and conveyed the message given by his master, Paundraka. The message contained the following statements.
"I am the only Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva. There is no man who can compete with me. I have descended as King Paundraka, taking compassion on the distressed conditioned souls out of my unlimited causeless mercy. You have falsely taken the position of Vasudeva without authority, but You should not propagate this false idea. You must give up Your position. O descendant of the Yadu dynasty, please give up all the symbols of Vasudeva which You have falsely assumed. And after giving up this position, come and surrender unto me. If out of Your gross impudence You do not care for my words, then I challenge You to fight. I am inviting You to a battle in which the decision will be settled."
When all the members of the royal assembly, including King Ugrasena, heard this message sent by Paundraka, they laughed very loudly for a considerable time. After enjoying the loud laughter of all the members of the assembly, Krsna replied to the messenger as follows: "O messenger of Paundraka, you may carry My message to your master: He is a foolish rascal. I directly call him a rascal, and I refuse to follow his instructions. I shall never give up the symbols of Vasudeva, especially My disc. I shall use this disc to kill not only King Paundraka but all his followers also. I shall destroy Paundraka and his foolish associates, who merely constitute a society of cheaters and cheated. When this action is taken, foolish King, you will have to conceal your face in disgrace, and when your head is severed from your body by My disc, it will be surrounded by meat-eating birds like vultures, hawks and eagles. At that time, instead of becoming My shelter as you have demanded, you will be subjected to the mercy of these low-born birds. At that time your body will be thrown to the dogs, who will eat it with great pleasure."
The messenger carried the words of Lord Krsna to his master, Paundraka, who patiently heard all these insults. Without waiting longer, Lord Sri Krsna immediately started out on His chariot to punish the rascal Paundraka. Because at that time the King of Karusa was living with his friend the King of Kasi, Krsna surrounded the whole city of Kasi.
King Paundraka was a great warrior, and as soon as he heard of Krsna's attack, he came out of the city along with two aksauhini divisions of soldiers. The King of Kasi was also a friend to King Paundraka, and he came out with three aksauhini divisions. When the two kings came before Lord Krsna to oppose Him, Krsna saw Paundraka face to face for the first time. Krsna saw that Paundraka had decorated himself with the symbols of the conchshell, disc, lotus and club. He carried the Sarnga bow, and on his chest was the insignia of Srivatsa. His neck was decorated with a false Kaustubha jewel, and he wore a flower garland in exact imitation of Lord Vasudeva. He was dressed in yellow colored silken garments, and the flag on his chariot carried the symbol of Garuda, exactly imitating Krsna's. He had a very valuable helmet on his head, and his earrings, like swordfish, glittered brilliantly. On the whole, however, his dress and makeup were clearly imitation. Anyone could understand that he was just like someone onstage playing the part of Vasudeva in false dress. When Lord Sri Krsna saw Paundraka imitating His posture and dress, He could not check His laughter, and thus He laughed with great satisfaction.
The soldiers on the side of King Paundraka began to shower their weapons upon Krsna. The weapons, including various kinds of tridents, clubs, poles, lances, swords, daggers and arrows, came flying in waves, and Krsna counteracted them. He smashed not only the weapons but also the soldiers and assistants of Paundraka, just as during the dissolution of this universe the fire of devastation burns everything to ashes. The elephants, chariots, horses, and infantry belonging to the opposite party were scattered by the weapons of Krsna. The whole battlefield became scattered with the bodies of animals and chariots. There were fallen horses, elephants, men, asses and camels. Although the devastated battlefield appeared like the dancing place of Lord Siva at the time of the dissolution of the world, the warriors who were on the side of Krsna were very much encouraged by seeing this, and they fought with greater strength.
At this time, Lord Krsna told Paundraka, "Paundraka, you requested Me to give up the symbols of Lord Visnu, specifically My disc. Now I will give it up to you. Be careful! You falsely declare yourself to be Vasudeva, imitating Myself. Therefore no one is a greater fool than you." From this statement of Krsna's it is clear that any rascal who advertises himself as God is the greatest fool in human society. Krsna continued: "Now, Paundraka, I shall force you to give up this false representation. You wanted Me to surrender unto you. Now this is your opportunity. We shall now fight, and if I am defeated and you become victorious, I shall certainly surrender unto you." In this way, after chastising Paundraka very severely, He smashed his chariot to pieces by shooting an arrow. With the help of His disc He separated the head of Paundraka from his body, just as Indra shaves off the peaks of mountains by striking them with his thunderbolt. Similarly, He also killed the King of Kasi with His arrows. Lord Krsna specifically arranged to throw the head of the King of Kasi into the city of Kasi itself so that his relatives and family members could see it. This was done by Krsna just as a hurricane carries a lotus petal here and there. Lord Krsna killed Paundraka and his friend Kasiraja on the battlefield, and then He returned to His capital city, Dvaraka.
When Lord Krsna returned to the city of Dvaraka, all the Siddhas from the heavenly planets were singing the glories of the Lord. As far as Paundraka was concerned, somehow or other he was always thinking of Lord Vasudeva by falsely dressing himself in that way, and therefore Paundraka achieved sarupya, one of the five kinds of liberation, and was thus promoted to the Vaikuntha planets, where the devotees have the same bodily features as Visnu, with four hands holding the four symbols. Factually, his meditation was concentrated on the Visnu form, but because he thought himself to be Lord Visnu, it was offensive. After being killed by Krsna, however, that offense was also mitigated. Thus he was given sarupya liberation, and he attained the same form as the Lord.
When the head of the King of Kasi was thrown through the city gate, people gathered and were astonished to see that wonderful thing. When they found out that there were earrings on it, they could understand that it was someone's head. They conjectured as to whose head it might be. Some thought it was Krsna's head because Krsna was the enemy of Kasiraja, and they calculated that the King of Kasi might have thrown Krsna's head into the city so that the people might take pleasure that the enemy was killed. But it was finally detected that the head was not Krsna's, but that of Kasiraja himself. When it was so ascertained, the queens of the King of Kasi immediately approached and began to lament the death of their husband. "Our dear lord," they cried, "upon your death, we have become just like dead bodies."
The King of Kasi had one son whose name was Sudaksina. After observing the ritualistic funeral ceremonies, he took a vow that since Krsna was the enemy of his father, he would kill Krsna and in this way liquidate his debts to his father. Therefore, accompanied by a learned priest qualified to help him, he began to worship Mahadeva, Lord Siva. The lord of the kingdom of Kasi is Visvanatha (Lord Siva). The temple of Lord Visvanatha is still existing in Varanasi, and many thousands of pilgrims still gather daily in that temple. By the worship of Sudaksina, Lord Siva was very much pleased, and he wanted to give a benediction to his devotee. Sudaksina's purpose was to kill Krsna, and therefore he prayed for a specific power by which he could kill Him. Lord Siva advised that Sudaksina, assisted by the brahmanas, execute the ritualistic ceremony for killing one's enemy. This ceremony is also mentioned in some of the Tantras. Lord Siva informed Sudaksina that if such a black ritualistic ceremony were performed properly, then the evil spirit named Daksinagni would appear to carry out any order given to him. He would have to be employed, however, to kill someone other than a qualified brahmana. In such a case he would be accompanied by Lord Siva's ghostly companions, and the desire of Sudaksina to kill his enemy would be fulfilled.
When Sudaksina was encouraged by Lord Siva in that way, he became assured that he would be able to kill Krsna. With a determined vow of austerity, he began to execute the black art of chanting mantras, assisted by the priests. After this, out of the fire came a great demonic form, whose hair, beard and moustache were exactly the color of hot copper. This form was very big and fierce. As the demon arose from the fire, cinders of fire emanated from the sockets of his eyes. The giant fiery demon appeared still more fierce due to the movements of his eyebrows. He exhibited long sharp teeth and, sticking out his long tongue, licked both sides of his lips. He was naked, and he carried a big trident, which was blazing like fire. After appearing from the fire of sacrifice, he stood wielding the trident in his hand. Instigated by Sudaksina, the demon proceeded toward the capital city, Dvaraka, along with many hundreds of ghostly companions, and it appeared that he was going to burn all outer space to ashes. The surface of the earth trembled because of his striking steps. When he entered the city of Dvaraka, all the residents panicked, just like animals at the time of a forest fire.
At that time Krsna was engaged in playing chess in the royal assembly council hall. All the residents of Dvaraka approached and addressed Him, "Dear Lord of the three worlds, there is a great fiery demon ready to burn the whole city of Dvaraka! Please save us!" Thus, after approaching Lord Krsna, all the inhabitants of Dvaraka began to appeal to Him for protection from the fiery demon who had just appeared in Dvaraka to devastate the whole city.
Lord Krsna, who specifically protects His devotees, saw that the whole population of Dvaraka was most perturbed by the presence of the great fiery demon. He immediately began to smile and assured them, "Don't worry. I shall give you all protection." The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, is all-pervading. He is within everyone's heart, and He is without also in the form of the cosmic manifestation. He could understand that the fiery demon was a creation of Lord Siva, and in order to vanquish him He took His Sudarsana-cakra and ordered him to take the necessary steps. The Sudarsana-cakra appeared with the effulgence of millions of suns, his temperature being as powerful as the fire created at the end of the cosmic manifestation. By his own effulgence, the Sudarsana-cakra began to illuminate the entire universe, on the surface of the earth as well as in outer space. Then the Sudarsana-cakra began to freeze the fiery demon created by Lord Siva. In this way, the fiery demon was checked by the Sudarsana-cakra of Lord Krsna, and being defeated in his attempt to devastate the city of Dvaraka, he turned back.
Having failed to set fire to Dvaraka, he went back to Varanasi, the kingdom of Kasiraja. As a result of his return, all the priests who had helped instruct the black art of mantras, along with their employer, Sudaksina were burned into ashes by the glaring effulgence of the fiery demon. According to the methods of black art mantras instructed in the Tantra, if the mantra fails to kill the enemy, then, because it must kill someone, it kills the original creator. Sudaksina was the originator, and the priests assisted him; therefore all of them were burned to ashes. This is the way of the demons: the demons create something to kill God, but by the same weapon the demons themselves are killed.
Following just behind the fiery demon, the Sudarsana-cakra also entered Varanasi. This city of Varanasi had been very opulent and great for a very long time. Even now, the city of Varanasi is very opulent and famous, and it is one of the important cities of India. There were then many big palaces, assembly houses, marketplaces and gates, with very important large monuments by the palaces and gates. Lecturing platforms could be found at each and every crossing of the roads. There was a treasury house, and elephant heads, horse heads, chariots, granaries and places for distribution of foodstuff. The city of Varanasi had been filled with all these material opulences for a very long time, but because the King of Kasi and his son Sudaksina were against Lord Krsna, the Visnu-cakra Sudarsana (the disc weapon of Lord Krsna) devastated the whole city by burning all these important places. This excursion was more ravaging than modern bombing. The Sudarsana-cakra, having thus finished his duty, came back to his Lord Sri Krsna at Dvaraka.
This narration of the devastation of Varanasi by Krsna's disc weapon, the Sudarsana-cakra, is transcendental and auspicious. Anyone who narrates this story or anyone who hears this story with faith and attention will be released from all reaction to sinful activities. This is the assurance of Sukadeva Gosvami who narrated this story to Pariksit Maharaja.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Second Volume, Eleventh Chapter, of Krsna, "Deliverance of Paundraka and the King of Kasi."

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