Chapter Seventy-Six The Battle Between Salva and the Vrsnis
1. Sukadeva Gosvami said: Now please hear, O King, another wondrous deed performed by Lord Krsna, who appeared in His humanlike body to enjoy transcendental pastimes. Hear how He killed the master of Saubha.
2. Salva was a friend of Sisupala’s. When he attended the wedding of Rukmini, the Yadu warriors defeated him in battle, along with Jarasandha and the other kings.
3. Salva swore in the presence of all the kings: “I will rid the earth of Yadavas. Just see my prowess!”
4. Having thus made his vow, the foolish King proceeded to worship Lord Pasupati [Siva] as his deity by eating a handful of dust each day, and nothing more.
5. The great Lord Umapati is known as “he who is quickly pleased,” yet only at the end of a year did he gratify Salva, who had approached him for shelter, by offering him a choice of benedictions.
6. Salva chose a vehicle that could be destroyed by neither demigods, demons, humans, Gandharvas, Uragas nor Raksasas, that could travel anywhere he wished to go, and that would terrify the Vrsnis.
7. Lord Siva said, “So be it.” On his order, Maya Danava, who conquers his enemies’ cities, constructed a flying iron city named Saubha and presented it to Salva.
8. This unassailable vehicle was filled with darkness and could go anywhere. Upon obtaining it, Salva went to Dvaraka, remembering the Vrsnis’ enmity toward him.
9-11. Salva besieged the city with a large army, O best of the Bharatas, decimating the outlying parks and gardens, the mansions along with their observatories, towering gateways and surrounding walls, and also the public recreational areas. From his excellent airship he threw down a torrent of weapons, including stones, tree trunks, thunderbolts, snakes and hailstones. A fierce whirlwind arose and blanketed all directions with dust.
12. Thus terribly tormented by the airship Saubha, Lord Krsna’s city had no peace, O King, just like the earth when it was attacked by the three aerial cities of the demons.
13. Seeing His subjects so harassed, the glorious and heroic Lord Pradyumna told them, “Do not fear,” and mounted His chariot.
14-15. The chief commanders of the chariot warriors—Satyaki, Carudesna, Samba, Akrura and his younger brothers, along with Hardikya, Bhanuvinda, Gada, Suka and Sarana—went out of the city with many other eminent bowmen, all girded in armor and protected by contingents of soldiers riding on chariots, elephants and horses, and also by companies of infantry.
16. A tumultuous, hair-raising battle then commenced between Salva’s forces and the Yadus. It equaled the great battles between the demons and demigods.
17. With His divine weapons Pradyumna instantly destroyed all of Salva’s magic illusions, in the same way that the warm rays of the sun dissipate the darkness of night.
18-19. Lord Pradyumna’s arrows all had gold shafts, iron heads and perfectly smooth joints. With twenty-five of them He struck down Salva’s commander-in-chief [Dyuman], and with one hundred He struck Salva himself. Then He pierced Salva’s officers with one arrow each, his chariot drivers with ten arrows each, and his horses and other carriers with three arrows each.
20. When they saw the glorious Pradyumna perform that amazing and mighty feat, all the soldiers on both sides praised Him.
21. At one moment the magic airship built by Maya Danava appeared in many identical forms, and the next moment it was again only one. Sometimes it was visible, and sometimes not. Thus Salva’s opponents could never be sure where it was.
22. From one moment to the next the Saubha airship appeared on the earth, in the sky, on a mountain peak or in the water. Like a whirling, flaming baton, it never remained in any one place.
23. Wherever Salva would appear with his Saubha ship and his army, there the Yadu commanders would shoot their arrows.
24. Salva became bewildered upon seeing his army and aerial city thus harassed by his enemy’s arrows, which struck like fire and the sun and were as intolerable as snake venom.
25. Because the heroes of the Vrsni clan were eager for victory in this world and the next, they did not abandon their assigned posts on the battlefield, even though the downpour of weapons hurled by Salva’s commanders tormented them.
26. Salva’s minister Dyuman, previously wounded by Sri Pradyumna, now ran up to Him and, roaring loudly, struck Him with his club of black steel.
27. Pradyumna’s driver, the son of Daruka, thought that his valiant master’s chest had been shattered by the club. Knowing well his religious duty, he removed Pradyumna from the battlefield.
28. Quickly regaining consciousness, Lord Krsna’s son Pradyumna said to His charioteer, “O driver, this is abominable—for Me to have been removed from the battlefield!
29. “Except for Me, no one born in the Yadu dynasty has ever been known to abandon the battlefield. My reputation has now been stained by a driver who thinks like a eunuch.
30. “What will I say to My fathers, Rama and Kesava, when I return to Them after having simply fled the battle? What can I tell Them that will befit My honor?
31. “Certainly My sisters-in-law will laugh at Me and say, ‘O hero, tell us how in the world Your enemies turned You into such a coward in battle.’ ”
32. The driver replied: O long-lived one, I have done this knowing full well my prescribed duty. O my Lord, the chariot driver must protect the master of the chariot when he is in danger, and the master must also protect his driver.
33. With this rule in mind, I removed You from the battlefield, since You had been struck unconscious by Your enemy’s club and I thought You were seriously injured.
Chapter Seventy-Seven Lord Krsna Slays the Demon Salva
1. Sukadeva Gosvami said: After refreshing Himself with water, putting on His armor and picking up His bow, Lord Pradyumna told His driver, “Take Me back to where the hero Dyuman is standing.”
2. In Pradyumna’s absence, Dyuman had been devastating His army, but now Pradyumna counterattacked Dyuman and, smiling, pierced him with eight naraca arrows.
3. With four of these arrows He struck Dyuman’s four horses, with one arrow, his driver, with two more arrows, his bow and chariot flag, and with the last arrow, Dyuman’s head.
4. Gada, Satyaki, Samba and others began killing Salva’s army, and thus all the soldiers inside the airship began falling into the ocean, their necks severed.
5. As the Yadus and Salva’s followers thus went on attacking one another, the tumultuous, fearsome battle continued for twenty-seven days and nights.
6-7. Invited by Yudhisthira, the son of Dharma, Lord Krsna had gone to Indraprastha. Now that the Rajasuya sacrifice had been completed and Sisupala killed, the Lord began to see inauspicious omens. So He took leave of the Kuru elders and the great sages, and also of Prtha and her sons, and returned to Dvaraka.
8. The Lord said to Himself: Because I have come here with My respected elder brother, kings partial to Sisupala may well be attacking My capital city.
9. [Sukadeva Gosvami continued:] After He arrived at Dvaraka and saw how His people were threatened with destruction, and also saw Salva and his Saubha airship, Lord Kesava arranged for the city’s defense and then addressed Daruka as follows.
10. [Lord Krsna said:] O driver, quickly take My chariot near Salva. This lord of Saubha is a powerful magician; don’t let him bewilder you.
11. Thus ordered, Daruka took command of the Lord’s chariot and drove forth. As the chariot entered the battlefield, everyone there, both friend and foe, caught sight of the emblem of Garuda.
12. When Salva, the master of a decimated army, saw Lord Krsna approaching, he hurled his spear at the Lord’s charioteer. The spear roared frighteningly as it flew across the battlefield.
13. Salva’s hurtling spear lit up the whole sky like a mighty meteor, but Lord Sauri tore the great weapon into hundreds of pieces with His arrows.
14. Lord Krsna then pierced Salva with sixteen arrows and struck the Saubha airship with a deluge of arrows as it darted about the sky. Firing His arrows, the Lord appeared like the sun flooding the heavens with its rays.
15. Salva then managed to strike Lord Krsna’s left arm, which held His bow Sarnga, and, amazingly, Sarnga fell from His hand.
16. Those who witnessed this all cried out in dismay. Then the master of Saubha roared loudly and addressed Lord Janardana.
17-18. [Salva said:] You fool! Because in our presence You kidnapped the bride of our friend Sisupala, Your own cousin, and because You later murdered him in the sacred assembly while he was inattentive, today with my sharp arrows I will send You to the land of no return! Though You think Yourself invincible, I will kill You now if You dare stand before me.
19. The Supreme Lord said: O dullard, you boast in vain, since you fail to see death standing near you. Real heroes do not talk much but rather show their prowess in action.
20. Having said this, the furious Lord swung His club with frightening power and speed and hit Salva on the collarbone, making him tremble and vomit blood.
21. But as soon as Lord Acyuta withdrew His club, Salva disappeared from sight, and a moment later a man approached the Lord. Bowing his head down to Him, he announced, “Devaki has sent me,” and, sobbing, spoke the following words.
22. [The man said:] O Krsna, Krsna, mighty-armed one, who are so affectionate to Your parents! Salva has seized Your father and taken him away, as a butcher leads an animal to slaughter.
23. When He heard this disturbing news, Lord Krsna, who was playing the role of a mortal man, showed sorrow and compassion, and out of love for His parents He spoke the following words like an ordinary conditioned soul.
24. [Lord Krsna said:] Balarama is ever vigilant, and no demigod or demon can defeat Him. So how could this insignificant Salva defeat Him and abduct My father? Indeed, fate is all-powerful!
25. After Govinda spoke these words, the master of Saubha again appeared, apparently leading Vasudeva before the Lord. Salva then spoke as follows.
26. [Salva said:] Here is Your dear father, who begot You and for whose sake You are living in this world. I shall now kill him before Your very eyes. Save him if You can, weakling!
27. After he had mocked the Lord in this way, the magician Salva appeared to cut off Vasudeva’s head with his sword. Taking the head with him, he entered the Saubha vehicle, which was hovering in the sky.
28. By nature Lord Krsna is full in knowledge, and He possesses unlimited powers of perception. Yet for a moment, out of great affection for His loved ones, He remained absorbed in the mood of an ordinary human being. He soon recalled, however, that this was all a demoniac illusion engineered by Maya Danava and employed by Salva.
29. Now alert to the actual situation, Lord Acyuta saw before Him on the battlefield neither the messenger nor His father’s body. It was as if He had awakened from a dream. Seeing His enemy flying above Him in his Saubha plane, the Lord then prepared to kill him.
30. Such is the account given by some sages, O wise King, but those who speak in this illogical way are contradicting themselves, having forgotten their own previous statements.
31. How can lamentation, bewilderment, material affection or fear, all born out of ignorance, be ascribed to the infinite Supreme Lord, whose perception, knowledge and power are all similarly infinite?
32. By virtue of self-realization fortified by service rendered to His feet, devotees of the Lord dispel the bodily concept of life, which has bewildered the soul since time immemorial. Thus they attain eternal glory in His personal association. How, then, can that Supreme Truth, the destination of all genuine saints, be subject to illusion?
33. While Salva continued to hurl torrents of weapons at Him with great force, Lord Krsna, whose prowess never fails, shot His arrows at Salva, wounding him and shattering his armor, bow and crest jewel. Then with His club the Lord smashed His enemy’s Saubha airship.
34. Shattered into thousands of pieces by Lord Krsna’s club, the Saubha airship plummeted into the water. Salva abandoned it, stationed himself on the ground, took up his club and rushed toward Lord Acyuta.
35. As Salva rushed at Him, the Lord shot a bhalla dart and cut off his arm that held the club. Having finally decided to kill Salva, Krsna then raised His Sudarsana disc weapon, which resembled the sun at the time of universal annihilation. The brilliantly shining Lord appeared like the easternmost mountain bearing the rising sun.
36. Employing His disc, Lord Hari removed that great magician’s head with its earrings and crown, just as Purandara had used his thunderbolt to cut off Vrtra’s head. Seeing this, all of Salva’s followers cried out, “Alas, alas!”
37. With the sinful Salva now dead and his Saubha airship destroyed, the heavens resounded with kettledrums played by groups of demigods. Then Dantavakra, wanting to avenge the death of his friends, furiously attacked the Lord.