Jul 8: Banasura – Part 1

8 Jul

In Srimad Bhagavatham, although Sage Shuka wanted to speak about Lord Krishna’s glories, he only elucidates in tenth canto. He does so because he wanted to build the clarity of mind and usher peace in heart and so expounded on the life-histories of the devotees of the Lord prior to Lord’s glories. He makes King Parikshit yearn to listen to Krishna’s glories. He introduced the life-history of Lord Krishna in the ninth canto and

kalau janishyamaNaanam duhka shoka tamo nudam
anugrahaaya bhaktanam supuNyam vyatanod yashah [Srimad Bhagavatham 9.24.61]

 

Sage Suka mentioned to King Parikshit that since it was the advent of Kali Yuga, the whole world was filled with sadness and grief and Lord Krishna incarnated on the earth to eradicate the darkness. Hearing this, Parikshit sprang up requesting Sage Suka to expound on the divine glories of the Lord since his body was saved by Lord Krishna who entered the womb of Uttara to save Parikshit from Ashwattama’s chakra.

drauNyastra viplushTam idham madh angam santhana bijam kuru paNDavanam

jugopa kukshim gatha attha chakro matus ca me yaH sharanam gatayaH     [Srimad Bhagavatham 10.1.6]

It is only then Sage Suka started to expound on the divine glories of Lord Krishna, the tenth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. Lord Sri Krishna enacted the divine glories in three places, Brindavan, Mathura and Dwaraka. All the acts of Lord Krishna as a youth were enacted in Brindavan and the act of slaying of Kamsa happened in Mathura and all the other divine plays that the Lord enacted happened in Dwaraka, after establishing the kingdom.  If we see the Damodara Leela or Shira Chora leela, the motherly love is lucidly depicted [vatsalyam]. The Brahma Mohana Leela of the Lord clearly depicts the friendship he developed with the Gopas and the Lord’s prowess is clearly shown when kidnapping Rukmini. Each of these acts of the Lord shows different traits of the Lord.  The Lord enacted these divine plays for his devotees to reminisce and enjoy the divine acts of the Lord.

Following this, young Sanjev from Dallas delivered a beautiful lecture on life-history of Banasura.

It is a general belief that one needs to accrue tremendous good merits over thousands of births to reminisce Srimad Bhagavatham and Srimad Ramayanam. While the term ‘luck’ [Adhristam] connotes something that cannot be discerned by intellect, Bhagavatas use the term ‘krupa’ since it cannot be perceived by the senses, but can very well be felt. The fact that devotees conglomerate to attend a satsang amidst their worldly chores lucidly shows the immense grace [krupa] of the Lord. Lord Krishna normally showers his blessings in myriad ways. Whatever sorrow or happiness one may experience is only due to sheer blessing of the Lord. Once, Lord Krishna and Sage Narada descended unto the earth to meet the people. After traversing through a forest they finally reached a village. They decided to retire for the day and so they knocked at the door of a villager. The house belonged to a miser and provided some rotted food for them to eat and gave them a torn blanket to retire on the pyol of the house. Next day, Lord Krishna blessed the miser that he would enjoy a whole lot of riches in the years to come and left. After some days, they went and knocked at the door of another old villager, who was a great devotee of the Lord [Bhagavatha]. But for a cow, he carried no other possessions. He scurried out to the barn to milk the cow to feed the guests and tried his best to comfort the guests for that night. The next day, Lord Krishna blessed him that his cow will meet its end very soon. Lord Narada witnessing this scene was bewildered and asked Krishna as to why he blessed the two villagers so contrastingly. He explained that the first villager had myriad of births in the future, from an insect to a bird and all the way to an animal and that he is going to accrue lot of karma and relations, while on the other hand, the old villager had only one cow as his relation and if that cow died, then there is no one for the old man and that he can spend all his time and energy to attain the holy feet of the Lord. Sanjeev then began narrating the story of Banasura and the satsang waited to hear if the Lord blessed or punished Banasura.

Srimad Bhagavatam says that there are two ways to approach a problem. Darkness is no sign of non- existence of light. One cannot drive away darkness but one can try to usher in light. In Sanatana Dharma, mind and vision [the way one perceives] is used interchangeably. Being bounded in the clutches of ignorance is akin to being tied up in a dark room. Bhagavatam predicts that one can have mental stress due to one of the three factors – Soha [depression], Moha [chasing behind something that is non-existent] and Baya [fear]. Anger and fear are the two sides of a coin.  Banasura was the eldest son of King Bali. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna and used to play musical instruments for Lord Shiva’s dance. He always wondered about Lord Shiva’s son Karthikeya, the personification of beauty. He aspired to become Shiva’s son as well and so he decided to perform a ferocious nonstop penance on Lord Shiva for this benediction. The merciful Lord along with his wife Uma gladdened by Banasura’s penance and granted him his benediction and accepted Banasura as their son [Manasika]. He was also endowed with one thousand hands and with those hands he totally conquered the three worlds. He was imprudent to request Lord Shiva to guard the fort of his kingdom. King Bali’s father was Virochana, an epitome of truth who was the son of Prahalada.  King Bali indeed possessed lots of Rajas qualities and was filled with ego and pride and they were vanquished by Lord Vamana. One is entitled to get the grace of the Lord when his/her ego is completely subjugated akin to the numeral zero which is a conceit number and is hollow inside to have the Lord reside in. The Lord comes and resides in one when one is devoid of any ego. The numeral eight is a curved zero like Maya. One can get to eight by making a curve over the number zero. How can one get eight back to number zero? When one dissuades away from Maya, the number eight can be brought back to zero. Bana possessed lot of Asura qualities in him but he did not trouble anyone unnecessarily. He only used to fight with people who were equivalent to him. Once, he wanted to test the strength of Ravana and so Bana requested him to lift the earrings of his great grand-father Hiranyakashipu. Ravana was unable to life the earrings and went back ashamed. He was very eager to strike a fight with someone. He once went to Shiva and confided in him that he is unable to find proper use for his thousand hands. He indirectly beseeched Lord Shiva to fight with him. Shiva in reply to his request told Bana that when the flag in his palace breaks, that is verily the indication that the enemy has come closer to humble him. Bana had a daughter named Usha and she loved Aniruddha who was Lord Krishna’s grandson even though she had not seen him. She had seen him in her dreams. Bana had a minister by name Kumbhanda who had a daughter named Chitraleka, who was also Usha’s close friend and companion. Seeing Usha is a state of quandary, Chitralekha enquired Usha with solicitude. Usha replied that she met someone in her dream state and was dark blue in complexion and also had dark blue eyes and was clad in yellow robes. Chitralekha then drew exact resemblances of personages and when she drew Aniruddha’s portrait, Usha acknowledged that he was the person whom she wished to marry. Chitralekha was endowed with Yogic powers that she went to Dwaraka and brought Anirrudha to Usha’s courtyard. Both of them lived together very happily for some time until Banasura came to know of this.  A big battled ensued between Aniruddha and the Asuras. Bana embarrassed by the Anirruddha’s strength did not want to kill him and instead tied him with his Nagahastram and imprisoned him. The flagstaff at Bana’s palace broke that day. Aniruddha started praying to Katyayani Devi and Yogamaya in the guise of Godavari Devi came in front of him and assured him that the snakes will do no harm to him and that Lord Sri Krishna will soon come to save him. When Aniruddha did not return to Dwaraka, Lord Krishna and Balarama were in extreme distress. They came to know from Sage Narada about Aniruddha’s captive. A large army with the adept Yadava warriors along with Balarama, Pradyumna, Satyaki and Samban under the leadership and protection of Lord Krishna set off to Banasura’s fortified capital and laid siege to the city and destroyed the city’s ramparts, gardens and other landscapes. Bana was filled with rage in seeing the city’s destruction. Lord Shiva advised Bana to welcome Lord Krishna and get his daughter Usha married to Aniruddha. However, Bana wanted to fight with someone of equal strength and wanted to fight with Lord Krishna with an army of equal size and requested Lord Shiva to help him fight the battle. Lord Shiva acceded to Bana’s request and hence came in his Nandi vehicle along with his son Karthikeya to fight Lord Krishna and Balarama on behalf of Bana. With single arrow from Lord Krishna’s bow [saranga] made many followers of Lord Shiva to flee the scene. The tumultuous battle continued with Lord Krishna fighting against Lord Shiva while Pradyumna fought against Karthikeya, Lord Balarama fought with Kumbanda and Kupakarna, Samba shot various weapons at Bana’s son and Satyaki had a fierce battle with Bana. Lord Brahma along with other Devas, Yakshas and Kinaras came to witness the battle. Lord Shiva attacked Lord Shiva with a myriad of weapons and Lord Krishna abrogated these weapons with the use of appropriate counter weapons. Lord Krishna knew what Lord Shiva perceived in his mind and Lord Shiva also read Lord Krishna’s mind. Both of them were not wounded and they both were devoid of anger and arrogance.  Lord Karthikeya was bombarded by a flood of arrows that rained from all sides from Pradyumna’s bow and scurried away in his peacock. Kumbhandha and Kupakarna fell down dead unable to bear the attack from Balarama and all soldiers started to run hither and thither in all directions after seeing their leaders’ dead. King Bana was furious to see his army torn apart and abandoned his fight with Satyaki and charged to the battle field to attack Lord Krishna. While Bana pulled simultaneously taut the strings all the five hundred bows with two arrows in each bow, Lord Krishna spilt into two every bow of Banasura and also knocked down the chariot driver. He then blew his conch shell. In order to save Bana, his mother Kotara came to the scene without any cloth on her and the Lord turned away in order to avoid seeing a naked woman and Bana used this as an opportunity to sneak away from the battle-field. Since Lord Shiva’s supporters banished, the Shivajvara that possessed three heads and three legs, the one that can burn everything came forward to attack Lord Krishna. He counteracted this with Vishnujvara, the Lord’s fever weapon and the Shivajvara surrendered to Krishna after the overwhelming attack by Vishnujvara.

He folded his palms and prostrated to the Lord and sang praises of the Lord –

namaami tvanantha shaktim paresham sarvaatmanam kevalam jnapthi mathram
visvothpatti sthana-samrodha-hethum yath thad brahma brahma lingam prashantam
kaalo daivam karma jeeva svabhavo dravyam kshetram praaNa atma vikaaraH
tath-sanghato biija roha pravaahas tvan mayaisha tan niShedham prapadhye
nana bhavair lilayaivopapaannair devan sadhun lokha sethun bibharsi
hamsy unmargan himsaaya varthamanan janmaitath te bhara haraya bhumeh
taptho ham te tejasa duHsahena santogreṇaty ulbaṇena jhvareNa
tavat tapo dehinaam thenghri mulam no severan yavad aasanubaddhaH [Srimad Bhagavatham 10.63.25-28]

Lord Krishna pleased with Shivajvara dispelled his Vishnujvara fear and went away. He also blessed that anyone who remembers the conversation will be devoid of any fear. From nowhere, Bana suddenly appeared and came to attack Lord Krishna. The infallible Lord using his Chakra severed Bana’s hands.

Lord Shiva felt compassionate for Banasura prostrated to Lord’s Chakra and with folded hands started sing praises on the Lord.

The satsang ended with prayers and Namasankirtan.

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