1. Sukadeva Gosvami said: O King, while Lord Balarama was away visiting Nanda’s village of Vraja, the ruler of Karusa, foolishly thinking “I am the Supreme Lord, Vasudeva,” sent a messenger to Lord Krsna.
2. Paundraka was emboldened by the flattery of childish men, who told him, “You are Vasudeva, the Supreme Lord and master of the universe, who have now descended to the earth.” Thus he imagined himself to be the infallible Personality of Godhead.
3. Thus slow-witted King Paundraka sent a messenger to the inscrutable Lord Krsna at Dvaraka. Paundraka was acting just like an unintelligent child whom other children are pretending is a king.
4. Arriving in Dvaraka, the messenger found lotus-eyed Krsna in His royal assembly and relayed the King’s message to that almighty Lord.
5. [On Paundraka’s behalf, the messenger said:] I am the one and only Lord Vasudeva, and there is no other. It is I who have descended to this world to show mercy to the living beings. Therefore give up Your false name.
6. O Satvata, give up my personal symbols, which out of foolishness You now carry, and come to me for shelter. If You do not, then You must give me battle.
7. Sukadeva Gosvami said: King Ugrasena and the other members of the assembly laughed loudly when they heard this vain boasting of unintelligent Paundraka.
8. The Personality of Godhead, aher enjoying the jokes of the assembly, told the messenger [to relay a message to his master:] “You fool, I will indeed let loose the weapons you boast of in this way.
9. “When you lie dead, O fool, your face covered by vultures, herons and vata birds, you will become the shelter of dogs.”
10. When the Lord had thus spoken, the messenger conveyed His insulting reply to his master in its entirety. Lord Krsna then mounted His chariot and went to the vicinity of Kasi.
11. Upon observing Lord Krsna’s preparations for battle, the mighty warrior Paundraka quickly went out of the city with two full military divisions.
12-14. Paundraka’s friend, the King of Kasi, followed behind, O King, leading the rear guard with three aksauhini divisions. Lord Krsna saw that Paundraka was carrying the Lord’s own insignia, such as the conchshell, disc, sword and club, and also an imitation Srnga bow and Srivatsa mark. He wore a mock Kaustubha gem, was decorated with a garland of forest flowers and was dressed in upper and lower garments of fine yellow silk. His banner bore the image of Garuda, and he wore a valuable crown and gleaming, shark-shaped earrings.
15. Lord Hari laughed heartily when He saw how the King had dressed up in exact imitation of His own appearance, just like an actor on a stage.
16. The enemies of Lord Hari attacked Him with tridents, clubs, bludgeons, pikes, rstis, barbed darts, lances, swords, axes and arrows.
17. But Lord Krsna fiercely struck back at the army of Paundraka and Kasiraja, which consisted of elephants, chariots, cavalry and infantry. The Lord tormented His enemies with His club, sword, Sudarsana disc and arrows, just as the fire of annihilation torments the various kinds of creatures at the end of a cosmic age.
18. The battlefield, strewn with the dismembered chariots, horses, elephants, humans, mules and camels that had been cut to pieces by the Lord’s disc weapon, shone like the gruesome playground of Lord Bhutapati, giving pleasure to the wise.
19. Lord Krsna then addressed Paundraka: My dear Paundraka, the very weapons you spoke of through your messenger, I now release unto you.
20. O fool, now I shall make you renounce My name, which you have falsely assumed. And I will certainly take shelter of you if I do not wish to fight you.
21. Having thus derided Paundraka, Lord Krsna destroyed his chariot with His sharp arrows. The Lord then cut off his head with the Sudarsana disc, just as Lord Indra lops off a mountain peak with his thunderbolt weapon.
22. With His arrows, Lord Krsna similarly severed Kasiraja’s head from his body, sending it flying into Kasi city like a lotus flower thrown by the wind.
23. Having thus killed envious Paundraka and his ally, Lord Krsna returned to Dvaraka. As He entered the city, the Siddhas of heaven chanted His immortal, nectarean glories.
24. By constantly meditating upon the Supreme Lord, Paundraka shattered all his material bonds. Indeed, by imitating Lord Krsna’s appearance, O King, he ultimately became Krsna conscious.
25. Seeing a head decorated with earrings lying at the gate of the royal palace, the people present were puzzled. Some of them asked, “What is this?” and others said, “It is a head, but whose is it?”
26. My dear King, when they recognized it as the head of their King—the lord of Kasi—his queens, sons and other relatives, along with all the citizens of the city, began to cry pitifully: “Alas, we are killed! O my lord, my lord!”
27-28. After the King’s son Sudaksina had performed the obligatory funeral rituals for his father, he resolved within his mind: “Only by killing my father’s murderer can I avenge his death.” Thus the charitable Sudaksina, together with his priests, began worshiping Lord Mahesvara with great attention.
29. Satisfied by the worship, the powerful Lord Siva appeared in the sacred precinct of Avimukta and offered Sudaksina his choice of benedictions. The prince chose as his benediction a means to slay his father’s killer.
30-31. Lord Siva told him, “Accompanied by brahmanas, serve the Daksinagni fire—the original priest—following the injunctions of the abhicara ritual. Then the Daksinagni fire, together with many Pramathas, will fulfill your desire if you direct it against someone inimical to the brahmanas.” So instructed, Sudaksina strictly observed the ritualistic vows and invoked the abhicara against Lord Krsna.
32-33. Thereupon the fire rose up out of the altar pit, assuming the form of an extremely fearsome, naked person. The fiery creature’s beard and tuft of hair were like molten copper, and his eyes emitted blazing hot cinders. His face looked most frightful with its fangs and terrible arched and furrowed brows. As he licked the corners of his mouth with his tongue, the demon shook his flaming trident.
34. On legs as tall as palm trees, the monster raced toward Dvaraka in the company of ghostly spirits, shaking the ground and burning the world in all directions.
35. Seeing the approach of the fiery demon created by the abhicara ritual, the residents of Dvaraka were all struck with fear, like animals terrified by a forest fire.
36. Distraught with fear, the people cried out to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who was then playing at dice in the royal court: “Save us! Save us, O Lord of the three worlds, from this fire burning up the city!”
37. When Lord Krsna heard the people’s agitation and saw that even His own men were disturbed, that most worthy giver of shelter simply laughed and told them, “Do not fear; I shall protect you.”
38. The almighty Lord, the internal and external witness of all, understood that the monster had been produced by Lord Siva from the sacrificial fire. To defeat the demon, Krsna dispatched His disc weapon, who was waiting at His side.
39. That Sudarsana, the disc weapon of Lord Mukunda, blazed forth like millions of suns. His effulgence blazed like the fire of universal annihilation, and with his heat he pained the sky, all the directions, heaven and earth, and also the fiery demon.
40. Frustrated by the power of Lord Krsna’s weapon, O King, the fiery creature produced by black magic turned his face away and retreated. Created for violence, the demon then returned to Varanasi, where he surrounded the city and then burned Sudaksina and his priests to death, even though Sudaksina was his creator.
41. Lord Visnu’s disc also entered Varanasi, in pursuit of the fiery demon, and proceeded to burn the city to the ground, including all its assembly halls and residential palaces with raised porches, its numerous marketplaces, gateways, watchtowers, warehouses and treasuries, and all the buildings housing elephants, horses, chariots and grains.
42. After burning down the entire city of Varanasi, Lord Visnu’s Sudarsana cakra returned to the side of Sri Krsna, whose actions are effortless.
43. Any mortal who recounts this heroic pastime of Lord Uttamahsloka’s, or who simply hears it attentively, will become freed from all sins.