kīrtir jayo ’jayo mṛtyuḥ
sarveṣāṁ syur anukramāt
śrī-baliḥ uvāca—Bali Mahārāja said; saṅgrāme—in the battlefield; vartamānānām—of all persons present here; kāla-codita—influenced by the course of time; karmaṇām—for persons engaged in fighting or any other activities; kīrtiḥ—reputation; jayaḥ—victory; ajayaḥ—defeat; mṛtyuḥ—death; sarveṣām—of all of them; syuḥ—must be done; anukramāt—one after another.
Bali Mahārāja replied: All those present on this battlefield are certainly under the influence of eternal time, and according to their prescribed activities, they are destined to receive fame, victory, defeat and death, one after another.
If one is victorious on the battlefield, he becomes famous; and if one is not victorious but is defeated, he may die. Both victory and defeat are possible, whether on such a battlefield as this or on the battlefield of the struggle for existence. Everything takes place according to the laws of nature (prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ [Bg. 3.27]). Since everyone, without exception, is subject to the modes of material nature, whether one is victorious or defeated he is not independent, but is under the control of material nature. Bali Mahārāja, therefore, was very sensible. He knew that the fighting was arranged by eternal time and that under time’s influence one must accept the results of one’s own activities. Therefore even though Indra threatened that he would now kill Bali Mahārāja by releasing the thunderbolt, Bali Mahārāja was not at all afraid. This is the spirit of a kṣatriya: yuddhe cāpy apalāyanam (Bg. 18.43). A kṣatriya must be tolerant in all circumstances, especially on the battlefield. Thus Bali Mahārāja asserted that he was not at all afraid of death, although he was threatened by such a great personality as the King of heaven.
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