1. King Pariksit said: The best of the Yadus married Banasura’s daughter, Usa, and as a result a great, fearsome battle occurred between Lord Hari and Lord Sankara. Please explain everything about this incident, O most powerful of mystics.
2. Sukadeva Gosvami said: Bana was the oldest of the hundred sons fathered by the great saint Bali Maharaja, who gave the whole earth in charity to Lord Hari when He appeared as Vamanadeva. Banasura, born from Bali’s semen, became a great devotee of Lord Siva. His behavior was always respectable, and he was generous, intelligent, truthful and firm in his vows. The beautiful city of Sonitapura was under his dominion. Because Lord Siva had favored him, the very demigods waited on Banasura like menial servants. Once, when Siva was dancing his tandava-nrtya, Bana especially satisfied the lord by playing a musical accompaniment with his one thousand arms.
3. The lord and master of all created beings, the compassionate refuge of his devotees, gladdened Banasura by offering him the benediction of his choice. Bana chose to have him, Lord Siva, as the guardian of his city.
4. Banasura was intoxicated with his strength. One day, when Lord Siva was standing beside him, Banasura touched the lord’s lotus feet with his helmet, which shone like the sun, and spoke to him as follows.
5. [Banasura said:] O Lord Mahadeva, I bow down to you, the spiritual master and controller of the worlds. You are like the heavenly tree that fulfills the desires of those whose desires are unfulfilled.
6. These one thousand arms you bestowed upon me have become merely a heavy burden. Besides you, I find no one in the three worlds worthy to fight.
7. Eager to fight with the elephants who rule the directions, O primeval lord, I went forth, pulverizing mountains with my arms, which were itching for battle. But even those great elephants fled in fear.
8. Hearing this, Lord Siva became angry and replied, “Your flag will be broken, fool, when you have done battle with one who is my equal. That fight will vanquish your conceit.”
9. Thus advised, unintelligent Banasura was delighted. The fool then went home, O King, to wait for that which Lord Girisa had predicted: the destruction of his prowess.
10. In a dream Bana’s daughter, the maiden Usa, had an amorous encounter with the son of Pradyumna, though she had never before seen or heard of her lover.
11. Losing sight of Him in her dream, Usa suddenly sat up in the midst of her girlfriends, crying out “Where are You, my lover?” She was greatly disturbed and embarrassed.
12. Banasura had a minister named Kumbhanda, whose daughter was Citralekha. A companion of Usa’s, she was filled with curiosity, and thus she inquired from her friend.
13. [Citralekha said:] Who are you searching for, O fine-browed one? What is this hankering you’re feeling? Until now, O princess, I haven’t seen any man take your hand in marriage.
14. [Usa said:] In my dream I saw a certain man who had a darkblue complexion, lotus eyes, yellow garments and mighty arms. He was the kind who touches women’s hearts.
15. It is that lover I search for. After making me drink the honey of His lips, He has gone elsewhere, and thus He has thrown me, hankering fervently for Him, into the ocean of distress.
16. Citralekha said: I will remove your distress. If He is to be found anywhere in the three worlds, I will bring this future husband of yours who has stolen your heart. Please show me who He is.
17. Saying this, Citralekha proceeded to draw accurate pictures of various demigods, Gandharvas, Siddhas, Caranas, Pannagas, Daityas, Vidyadharas, Yaksas and humans.
18-19. O King, among the humans, Citralekha drew pictures of the Vrsnis, including Surasena, Anakadundubhi, Balarama and Krsna. When Usa saw the picture of Pradyumna she became bashful, and when she saw Aniruddha’s picture she bent her head down in embarrassment. Smiling, she exclaimed, “He’s the one! It’s Him!”
20. Citralekha, endowed with mystic powers, recognized Him as Krsna’s grandson [Aniruddha]. My dear King, she then traveled by the mystic skyway to Dvaraka, the city under Lord Krsna’s protection.
21. There she found Pradyumna’s son Aniruddha sleeping upon a fine bed. With her yogic power she took Him away to Sonitapura, where she presented her girlfriend Usa with her beloved.
22. When Usa beheld Him, the most beautiful of men, her face lit up with joy. She took the son of Pradyumna to her private quarters, which men were forbidden even to see, and there enjoyed with Him.
23-24. Usa worshiped Aniruddha with faithful service, offering Him priceless garments, along with garlands, fragrances, incense, lamps, sitting places and so on. She also offered Him beverages, all types of food, and sweet words. As He thus remained hidden in the young ladies’ quarters, Aniruddha did not notice the passing of the days, for His senses were captivated by Usa, whose affection for Him ever increased.
25-26. The female guards eventually noticed unmistakable symptoms of romantic involvement in Usa, who, having broken her maiden vow, was being enjoyed by the Yadu hero and showing signs of conjugal happiness. The guards went to Banasura and told him, “O King, we have detected in your daughter the kind of improper behavior that spoils the reputation of a young girl’s family.
27. “We have been carefully watching over her, never leaving our posts, O master, so we cannot understand how this maiden, whom no man can even see, has been corrupted within the palace.”
28. Very agitated to hear of his daughter’s corruption, Banasura rushed at once to the maidens’ quarters. There he saw the pride of the Yadus, Aniruddha.
29-30. Banasura saw before him Cupid’s own son, possessed of unrivaled beauty, with dark-blue complexion, yellow garments, lotus eyes and formidable arms. His face was adorned with effulgent earrings and hair, and also with smiling glances. As He sat opposite His most auspicious lover, playing with her at dice, there hung between His arms a garland of spring jasmines that had been smeared with kunkuma powder from her breasts when He had embraced her. Banasura was astonished to see all this.
31. Seeing Banasura enter with many armed guards, Aniruddha raised His iron club and stood resolute, ready to strike anyone who attacked Him. He resembled death personified holding his rod of punishment.
32. As the guards converged on Him from all sides, trying to capture Him, Aniruddha struck them just as the leader of a pack of boars strikes back at dogs. Hit by His blows, the guards fled the palace, running for their lives with shattered heads, thighs and arms.
33. But even as Aniruddha was striking down the army of Bana, that powerful son of Bali angrily caught Him with the mystic naga-pasa ropes. When Usa heard of Aniruddha’s capture, she was overwhelmed with grief and depression; her eyes filled with tears, and she wept.