The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 780,972 words | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes Slaying of King Shalva which is chapter 77 of the English translation of the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas containing roughly 18,000 metrical verses. Topics include ancient Indian history, religion, philosophy, geography, mythology, etc. The text has been interpreted by various schools of philosophy. This is the seventy-seventh chapter of the Tenth Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 77 - Slaying of King Śālva

[Padaratnāvalī’s Text adds before verse 1]

0. Hearing the words spoken by the charioteer, Pradyumna, the delight of Yadus re-armed himself with weapons and told his charioteer on the battlefield.

Śrī Śuka said:

1. Pradyumna sipped water (as ācamana), clad himself in armour, equipped himself with a bow and commanded his charioteer, “Please take me to the side of Dyumat”.

2. While Dyumat was slaughtering his (Pradyumna’s) forces, Pradyumna checked him and with a smile, he pierced him with eight arrows.

3. With four shafts he struck the four horses (of his chariot); he hit the charioteer with one; with two he snapped his bow and flag (staff) and with another shaft he cut off his (Dyumat’s) head.

4. Gada, Sātyaki, Sāmba and other Yādava heroes slaughtered the army of Śālva, the master of Saubha. All the inmates of the aerial car Saubha fell down into the sea with their necks lopped off (from the trunk of their bodies).

[Padaratnāvalī reads]

4(A). Gada, Sātyaki, Akrūra, Sāmba, Śuka, Sāraṇa, Vasudeva and Ugrasena slaughtered the army of Śālva.

5. In this manner the armies of Yādavas and Śālva went on striking at each other. That terrific and tumultuous battle continued for twenty seven days and nights without break.

6. On being invited by Yudhiṣṭhira, the son of Dharma, Kṛṣṇa who went to Indraprastha, stayed on there even after the completion of the Rājasūya sacrifice and slaying of Śiśupāla.

7. He took his leave of the elders of the Kuru race, sages, Kuntī along with her sons. While he travelled to Dvārakā, he noticed very terrible portents.

[For verses 7-18 in Bhāvāratha Dīpikā’s Text, Padaratnāvalī’s Text reads the following verses (in Vrindāvan edition)]

7.1. He noticed terrible evil omens prophesying war.

7.2. Taking leave of elders of the Kuru clan and sages and followed by Pāṇḍavas along with their ministers and accompanied by Brāhmaṇas, he set out from the city (Indraprastha).

7.3. After travelling for a short distance, he asked the citizens and the sons of Kuntī to stop. He bade goodbye to the sons of Kuntī who were bowing him down with tearful eyes.

7.4. He travelled in the westerly directions with his queens riding golden palanquins, accompanied with thousands of elephants, horses, chariots and foot-soldiers and followed by a battalion of princes.

7.5. Even Śālva who (i.e. whose force) was soundly battered retreated from the battlefield with his aerial car and returned to his own dominion.

7.6. While Śālva was going, Sāmba quickly pursued him and with his arrows he sent Śālva’s minister Kṣemadhūrti to the abode of the god of death.

7.7. Pradyumna ambushed Śālva’s most beloved general vininda while he was passing by the way and struck him with his arrows.

7.8. Deeply pierced and wounded by Pradyumna, he took up a sword and shield and fought with Pradyumna, the son of Rukmiṇī. And it was a wonderful combat.

7.9. While he was making wonderful circular manouvers, the great Yādava warrior sundered his head off his body in that duel.

7.10. When its chief commanders were killed, the army lost its way and took to heels helter-skelter, with the main object of saving life.

7.11-13. The Eagle-bannered Lord Kṛṣṇa also hastily rushed to Dvārakā and found the mansions; balconies and towers in the city, in debris; the city gates, arches and ramparts broken down; main streets and quadrangles wiped out; parks and gardens devastated; and ponds and wells filled with stones; The recitation of Vedas and the sound ‘Vaṣaṭ’ (of priests offering oblations to fire) were silent. Kṛṣṇa was deeply troubled at heart and asked Kṛtavarmā how this devastation took place.

7.14. Hearing from Kṛtavarmā, the details how the King of Śālva wrought this ruin (of Dvārakā) Kṛṣṇa, the Lord of Yādavas announced his vow while all the Sātvatas (Yādavas) were listening.

7.15. “Just now I chase Śālva and enter Dvārakā only after killing that wicked Śālva and drowning his aerial car Saubha into the sea.”

7.16-17. Lord Viṣṇu (Kṛṣṇa), the god with the emblem of Garuḍa on his banner mounted his excellent chariot to which were yoked (the four famous horses) Śaibya, Sugrīva, Meghapuṣpa and Balāhaka; was equipped with various weapons and had Dāruka in front as the charioteer. He followed the track of Śālva with the speed of the mind and wind.

7.18. After crossing a long distance, He saw Śālva concealed under the waters of the sea but seated fully adorned in his aerial car Saubha.

8. (On the way) he said to himself, “I have come here to Indraprastha accompanied by my elder brother Balarāma. The Kṣattriya princes, the allies of Śiśupāla must have surely- attacked my city (Dvārakā), in our absence.

[Padaratnāvalī’s Text adds:]

8(A). Pondering thus, the glorious Lord hastily arrived there coining to the battle-field, he saw Pradyumna and others.

9. After his arrival at Dvārakā he noticed the havoc wrought upon his subjects. He then entrusted the defence of the city to Balarāma. Perceiving the aerial car Saubha and the King of Śālvas, he commanded Dāruka.

10. “Quickly bring my chariot near Śālva, O charioteer. You need not be afraid (even though) this master of Saubha is skilled in the use of black magic in war-fare.”

11. Dāruka, thus commanded by Kṛṣṇa, brought the chariot near Śālva. The friends and the enemy saw him enter the battle-field.

12. Śālva whose forces were practically wiped out, saw Kṛṣṇa enter the battle. At Kṛṣṇa’s charioteer he darted a lance (that sped through the air) making a roaring sound.

13. Observing the lance rushing through the air with great speed and illumining all the quarters like a big meteor (or firebrand), Kṛṣṇa splintered it in hundred pieces with his arrows.

14. Hitting Śālva with sixteen shafts, he pierced the aerial car Saubha which was moving through the sky, with a volley of arrows just as the sun fills the space in the sky, with his rays.

15. Śālva wounded the left arm of Kṛṣṇa in which he wielded the Śārṅga bow. And the Śārṅga bow fell from Kṛṣṇa’s hand. And it was indeed a miracle.

16. There was an outburst of wild outcry of consternation and wonder from all beings who witnessed it. The king of Saubha (i.e. Śālva) roared loudly and (boastfully) said to Kṛṣṇa:

17. “You stupid fellow! You abducted the fiancee of our brother-like friend (Śiśupāla) in our very presence and killed our friend in the assembly at the time of Yudhiṣṭhira’s Rājasūya while he was unaware.

18. In your pride you (falsely) regard yourself as invincible. Only if you stand before me (in this battle), I shall, with my sharp arrows, send you to a place (Yama’s abode) whence nobody returns.”

The glorious Lord replied:

19. “You are vainly bragging, O dull-witted one! You do not perceive the god of Death standing near you. Really valiant people do not indulge in idle prattling but exhibit their valour in fighting.”

20. With these words Lord Kṛṣṇa, in extreme wrath, struck down Śālva on the collar-bone with his mace of terribly vehement force. (Under that blow) Śālva was thoroughly shaken and vomitted blood.

21. While the mace returned (to Kṛṣṇa) Śālva disappeared. Then within a short while a man approached him, bowed to him with his head and while sobbing told him, “I am sent by Devakī (with a message).

22. O Kṛṣṇa, of powerful arms. O Kṛṣṇa, so affectionate to parents! Your father is captured and dragged away by Śālva even as a butcher does to an animal to be slaughtered.”

23. Hearing this unpleasant news, Kṛṣṇa exhibited His human nature. Deeply troubled at heart, despondent and overcome with filial affection, he exclaimed like an ordinary mortal.

24. “How is it possible that unperturbable Balarāma who is invincible to gods and Asuras (together) was defeated by this despicable Śālva and my father was taken away as a captive. (Ultimately) Providence is all powerful.”

25. While Govinda was uttering these words, Śālva, the Lord of Saubha, made his appearance bringing with him someone resembling Vasudeva and threatened Kṛṣṇa:

26. “This is your own father who brought you forth in this world and for whom you live. Before your very eyes, I shall slay him. Save him if you can, you childish fellow!”

27. Having threatened him thus, Śālva, the master of black magic cut off the head (of the semblance) of Vasudeva and taking it with him, he entered his aerial car Śaubha that was near him in the air.

28. By nature, Kṛṣṇa was the embodiment of pure knowledge. But even he was overwhelmed with human weakness and remained plunged for a while (for a muhūrta) in sorrow, due to his affection for his relative (father). Then that Lord of majestic lustre realized all that scene to be nothing but an illusion of Asura type spread by Śālva as per instructions of Maya.

29. Just as a person awakened from the dream finds the dream-scene vanished, that Immutable Lord Kṛṣṇa, after ‘waking up’ (disenchantment) from the illusory effect of Śālva’s Māyā, found that there was neither the messenger nor the dead body of his father on the battlefield. Seeing his enemy ranging through the sky in his aerial car Saubha, he determined to kill him.

30.[1] In this way, O royal sage, some sages give an inconsistent version. They do not remember that their words will prove contradictory.

31. Where are grief, delusion, attachment or fear which are possible to be found only in the ignorant? How can these be presumed to affect the Absolute Lord, the master of Perfect knowledge, wisdom and Divine potencies of omnipotence, omnipresence.

32. How could there be any possibility of Lord Hari being subjected to delusion—the Lord who is the shelter of those saintly persons who through the worship and service of his feet have obtained enlightenment in the knowledge of ātman (the self). With this knowledge of Ātmavidyā, these righteous people completely destroyed wrong notions existing from times immemorial about the identification of the body with soul and thereby they have secured their own essential, infinite Lordly state.

[Padaratnāvalī’s Text adds:]

32.1. O Scion of the Kuru race! When Kṛṣṇa heard the words spoken by them, he began to strike down Śālva along with his aerial city Saubha.

32.2. Taking up his sharp discus Sudarśana, Kṛṣṇa charged it with the spell of the missile of the Fire-god and discharged it to destroy Saubha completely.

32.3. That discus charged with the spell of the missile of the Fire- god (pronounced on it) and hurled from the fore-hand of Nārāyaṇa (Lord Kṛṣṇa) and terrific with its flames went on burning upto the region of Brahmā.

32.4. All the celestials in their aerial cars felt scorched with the heat of the discus Sudarśana, cleared out of the sky and fled in all directions.

32.5. The Sudarśana discus dazzling like a hundred suns cut asunder the city of Saubha in two and again returned to the hand of Nārāyaṇa, O king Parīkṣit.

32.6. Thus the city (of Saubha) lay shattered in the sea. But the irresistible Śālva made his appearance with a mace in hand. The wicked fellow hurled his mace at Kṛṣṇa.

32.7. Getting into the chariot brought up by the Daitya army—a chariot equipped with a heap of arms—Śālva discharged innumerable weapons on?, e head of Kṛṣṇa and roared like a lion.

32.8. Hari split the mace hurled by Śālva, in three pieces with his arrows. He blew his conch Pāñcajanya and roared like a lion.

33. While Śālva was vigorously attacking him with a volley of weapons, Kṛṣṇa, the descendant of Śūra, of unfailing prowess, wounded Śālva deeply with his arrows and shattered to pieces Śālva’s armour, cut down his bow and the jewel on his head, and knocked down to pieces (Sālva’s aerial car) Saubha.

34. Knocked down by the mace darted by Kṛṣṇa’s hand, Saubha was splintered into thousands of pieces and fell into the water in the form of powder. Abandoning it, Śālva landed on the earth and raising his mace quickly rushed at Kṛṣṇa.

35. With a special kind of arrow called bhalla, Kṛṣṇa cut down Sālva’s arm with the mace as he was rushing against him (to assault). In order to finish with Śālva, Kṛṣṇa took up his miraculous discus Sudarśana which was dazzling like the burning sun at the time of the destruction of the universe. (With the discus held up in the position of hurling), he shone resplendent like the Eastern mountain with the disc of the rising sun on its summits.

36. Just as (in ancient times) Indra chopped off the head of Vṛtra, Hari, with that very Sudarśana severed the head decked with a crown and ear-rings of Śālva of extensive capacity in black-magic. And there arose an outcry of grief (alas!) from his men.

37. O king Parīkṣit! When that sinful Śālva fell struck were sounded in heaven by gods. Then Dantavaktra angrily attacked him for avenging the deaths of his friends (viz. Śiśupāla, Śālva).

[Padaratnāvalī’s Text adds:]

37.1. Celestial drums were sounded and showers of flowers were let down. Glorified by the sages and by bards like Sūta, Māgadha and Bandins, Hari came to his capital Dvārakā, surrounded by his armies.

37.2. He entered the charming city decorated with a number of flags and other decorative work, and with clean quadrangles besprinkled with water.

37.3. He (Kṛṣṇa) was honoured by elderly Yādavas as well as by men in the city and the rural areas. He delighted the sixteen thousand queens who were over-whelmed with love for him. Thus the son of Devakī lived happily and in joy, O descendant of Kurus.

Footnotes and references:


Verses 23-28 give the view of inconsistent thinkers as Bhāvāratha Dīpikā points out that Balarāma never went to Yudhiṣṭhira’s Rājasūya.

Bhāgavata Candrikā From Vyāsa’s words it is clear that Balarāma was in charge of Dvāraka in Kṛṣṇa’s absence at Rājasūya. Śālva did not invade Dvārakā—in Kṛṣṇa’s absence. Padaratnāvalī emphasizes the impossibility of Hari being deluded by the magic spell.

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