The Killing of the Aghāsura Demon

Aghasura Demon

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This is one of my favorite stories from the Krsna Book. I always enjoyed how fearless the cowherd boys were. They were free of any fear. This is the benefit of Krsna Consciousness; “Any material arrangement for protecting oneself from death is always unsure, but if one is in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then immortality is confidently assured.”

…Aghāsura, thus deciding to kill all the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana, expanded himself by the yogic siddhi called mahimā. The demons are generally expert in achieving almost all kinds of mystic powers. In the yoga system, by the perfection called mahimā-siddhi, one can expand himself as he desires. The demon Aghāsura expanded himself up to eight miles and assumed the shape of a very fat serpent. Having attained this wonderful body, he stretched his mouth open just like a mountain cave. Desiring to swallow all the boys at once, including Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, he sat on the path.

The demon in the shape of a big fat serpent expanded his lips from land to sky; his lower lip was touching the ground, and his upper lip was touching the clouds. His jaws appeared like a big mountain cave, without limitation, and his teeth appeared just like mountain summits. His tongue appeared to be a broad traffic way, and he was breathing just like a hurricane. His eyes were blazing like fire. At first the boys thought that the demon was a statue, but after examining it they saw that it was a big serpent lying down on the road and widening his mouth. The boys began to talk among themselves: “Dear friends, this figure appears to be a great animal, and he is sitting in such a posture just to swallow us all. Just see—is it not a big snake that has widened his mouth to eat all of us?”

Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda

CHAPTER TWELVE

The Killing of the Aghāsura Demon

Once the Lord desired to go early in the morning with all His cowherd boyfriends to the forest, where they were to assemble together and take lunch. As soon as He got up from bed, He blew His buffalo-horn bugle and called all His friends together. Keeping the calves before them, they started for the forest in a great procession. In this way, Lord Kṛṣṇa assembled thousands of His boyfriends. They were each equipped with a stick, flute and horn, as well as a lunch bag, and each of them was taking care of thousands of calves. All the boys appeared very jolly and happy in that excursion. Each and every one of them, including Kṛṣṇa, was attentive to his personal calves as he herded them in the different places in the forest. The boys were fully decorated with various kinds of golden ornaments, yet out of sporting propensities they began to pick up flowers, leaves, twigs, peacock feathers and red clay from different places in the forest and further decorate themselves in different ways. While passing through the forest, one boy stole another boy’s lunch package and passed it to a third. And when the boy whose lunch package was stolen came to know of it, he tried to take it back. But the boy who had it threw it to another boy. This sportive playing went on amongst the boys as childhood pastimes.

When Lord Kṛṣṇa went ahead to a distant place in order to see some specific scenery, the boys behind Him ran to try to catch up and be the first to touch Him. So there was a great competition. One would say, “I will go there and touch Kṛṣṇa,” and another would say, “Oh, you cannot go. I’ll touch Kṛṣṇa first.” Some of them played on their flutes or vibrated bugles made of buffalo horn. Some of them gladly followed the peacocks and imitated the onomatopoetic sounds of the cuckoo. While the birds were flying in the sky, the boys ran after the birds’ shadows along the ground and tried to follow their exact courses. Some of them went to the monkeys and silently sat down by them, and some of them imitated the dancing of the peacocks. Some of them caught the tails of the monkeys and played with them, and when the monkeys jumped into a tree, the boys followed. When a monkey showed its face and teeth, a boy imitated and showed his teeth to the monkey. Some of the boys played with the frogs on the bank of the Yamunā, and when, out of fear, the frogs jumped into the water, the boys immediately dove in after them, and they would come out of the water when they saw their own shadows and stand imitating, making caricatures and laughing. They would also go to an empty well and make loud sounds, and when the echo came back, they would call it ill names and laugh.

As stated personally by the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the Bhagavad-gītā, He is realized proportionately by transcendentalists as Brahman, Paramātmā and the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Here, in confirmation of the same statement, Lord Kṛṣṇa, who awards the impersonalist the pleasure of Brahman realization by His bodily effulgence, also gives pleasure to the devotees as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Those who are under the spell of the external energy, māyā, take Him only as a beautiful child. Yet He gave full transcendental pleasure to the cowherd boys who played with Him. Only after accumulating heaps of pious activities were those boys promoted to personally associate with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Who can estimate the transcendental fortune of the residents of Vṛndāvana? They were personally seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead face to face, He whom many yogīs cannot find even after undergoing severe austerities, although He is sitting within their hearts. This is confirmed in the Brahma-saṁhitā: One may search for Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, through the pages of the Vedas and Upaniṣads, but it is difficult to find Him there. However, one who is fortunate enough to associate with a devotee can see the Supreme Personality of Godhead face to face. After accumulating pious activities in many, many previous lives, the cowherd boys were seeing Kṛṣṇa face to face and playing with Him as friends. They could not understand that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but they were playing as intimate friends with intense love for Him.

When Lord Kṛṣṇa was enjoying His childhood pastimes with His boyfriends, one Aghāsura demon became very impatient. He was unable to tolerate seeing Kṛṣṇa play so happily, and therefore he appeared before the boys intending to kill them all. This Aghāsura was so dangerous that even the denizens of heaven were afraid of him. Although the denizens of heaven drank nectar daily to prolong their lives, they were afraid of this Aghāsura and were wondering, “When will the demon be killed?” The denizens used to drink nectar to become immortal, but actually they were not confident of their immortality. On the other hand, the boys who were playing with Kṛṣṇa had no fear of the demons. They were free of fear. Any material arrangement for protecting oneself from death is always unsure, but if one is in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then immortality is confidently assured.

The demon Aghāsura appeared before Kṛṣṇa and His friends. Aghāsura happened to be the younger brother of Pūtanā and Bakāsura, and he thought, “Kṛṣṇa has killed my brother and sister. Now I shall kill Him along with all His friends and calves.” Aghāsura was instigated by Kaṁsa, so he had come with determination. Aghāsura also thought that when he would offer grains and water in memory of his brother and sister and kill Kṛṣṇa and all the cowherd boys, then automatically all the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana would die. Generally, for the householders, the children are the life and breath force. When all the children die, then naturally the parents also die on account of strong affection for them.

Aghāsura, thus deciding to kill all the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana, expanded himself by the yogic siddhi called mahimā. The demons are generally expert in achieving almost all kinds of mystic powers. In the yoga system, by the perfection called mahimā-siddhi, one can expand himself as he desires. The demon Aghāsura expanded himself up to eight miles and assumed the shape of a very fat serpent. Having attained this wonderful body, he stretched his mouth open just like a mountain cave. Desiring to swallow all the boys at once, including Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, he sat on the path.

The demon in the shape of a big fat serpent expanded his lips from land to sky; his lower lip was touching the ground, and his upper lip was touching the clouds. His jaws appeared like a big mountain cave, without limitation, and his teeth appeared just like mountain summits. His tongue appeared to be a broad traffic way, and he was breathing just like a hurricane. His eyes were blazing like fire. At first the boys thought that the demon was a statue, but after examining it they saw that it was a big serpent lying down on the road and widening his mouth. The boys began to talk among themselves: “Dear friends, this figure appears to be a great animal, and he is sitting in such a posture just to swallow us all. Just see—is it not a big snake that has widened his mouth to eat all of us?”

One of them said, “Yes, what you say is true. This animal’s upper lip appears to be just like the sunshine, and its lower lip is just like the reflection of red sunshine on the ground. Dear friends, just look to the right- and left-hand side of the mouth of the animal. Its mouth appears to be like a big mountain cave, and its height cannot be estimated. The chin is also raised just like a mountain summit. That long highway appears to be its tongue, and inside the mouth it is as dark as in a mountain cave. The hot wind that is blowing like a hurricane is his breathing, and the fishy bad smell coming out from his mouth is the smell of his intestines.”

Then they further consulted among themselves: “If we all at one time entered into the mouth of this great serpent, how could it possibly swallow all of us? And even if it were to swallow all of us at once, it could not swallow Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa will immediately kill him, as He did Bakāsura.” Talking in this way, all the boys looked at the beautiful lotuslike face of Kṛṣṇa, and they began to clap and smile. And so they marched forward and entered the mouth of the gigantic serpent.

Meanwhile, Kṛṣṇa, who is the Supersoul within everyone’s heart, could understand that the big statuesque figure was a demon. The boys did not know this, however, and thus while Kṛṣṇa was planning how to stop the destruction of His intimate friends, all the boys along with their cows and calves entered the mouth of the serpent. But Kṛṣṇa did not enter. The demon was awaiting Kṛṣṇa’s entrance, and he was thinking, “Everyone has entered except Kṛṣṇa, who has killed my brother and sister.”

Kṛṣṇa is the assurance of safety to everyone. But when He saw that His friends were already out of His hands and were lying within the belly of a great serpent, He became momentarily aggrieved. He was also struck with wonder at how the external energy works so wonderfully. He then began to consider how He could kill the demon and at the same time save the boys and calves. Although there was no factual concern on Kṛṣṇa’s part, He was thinking like that. Finally, after some deliberation, He also entered the mouth of the demon. When Kṛṣṇa entered, all the demigods, who had gathered to see the fun and who were hiding within the clouds, expressed their feelings with the words “Alas! Alas!” At the same time, all the friends of Aghāsura, especially Kaṁsa, who were all accustomed to eating flesh and blood, expressed their jubilation, understanding that Kṛṣṇa had also entered the mouth of the demon.

While the demon was trying to smash Kṛṣṇa and His companions, Kṛṣṇa heard the demigods crying “Alas! Alas!” and He immediately began to expand Himself within the throat of the demon. Although he had a gigantic body, the demon choked by the expanding of Kṛṣṇa. His big eyes moved violently, and he quickly suffocated. His life air could not come out from any source, and ultimately it burst out of a hole in the upper part of his skull. Thus his life air passed off. After the demon was dead, Kṛṣṇa, with His transcendental glance alone, brought all the boys and calves back to consciousness and came with them out of the mouth of the demon. While Kṛṣṇa was within the mouth of Aghāsura, the demon’s spirit soul came out like a dazzling light, illuminating all directions, and waited in the sky. As soon as Kṛṣṇa came out of the mouth of the demon with His calves and friends, that glittering effulgent light immediately merged into the body of Kṛṣṇa within the vision of all the demigods.

The demigods became overwhelmed with joy and showered flowers on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, and thus they worshiped Him. The denizens of heaven danced in jubilation, and the denizens in Gandharvaloka offered various kinds of prayers. Drummers beat drums in jubilation, the brāhmaṇas recited Vedic hymns, and all the devotees of the Lord chanted the words “Jaya! Jaya! All glories to the Supreme Personality of Godhead!”

When Lord Brahmā heard those auspicious vibrations, which sounded throughout the higher planetary system, he immediately came down to see what had happened. He saw that the demon was killed, and he was struck with wonder at the uncommon, glorious pastimes of the Personality of Godhead.

The gigantic mouth of the demon remained in an open position for many days and gradually dried up; it remained a spot of pleasure pastimes for all the cowherd boys.

The killing of Aghāsura took place when Kṛṣṇa and all His boyfriends were under five years old. Children under five years old are called kaumāra, from five years up to the tenth year they are called paugaṇḍa, and from the tenth year up to the fifteenth year they are called kaiśora. After the fifteenth year, boys are called youths. For one year there was no discussion of the incident of the Aghāsura demon in the village of Vraja. But when the boys attained their sixth year, they informed their parents of the incident with great wonder.

For Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is far greater than such demigods as Lord Brahmā, it is not at all difficult to award one the opportunity of merging with His eternal body. This He awarded to Aghāsura. Aghāsura was certainly the most sinful living entity, and it is not possible for the sinful to merge into the existence of the Absolute Truth. But in this particular case, because Kṛṣṇa entered into Aghāsura’s body, the demon became fully cleansed of all sinful reactions. Persons constantly thinking of the eternal form of the Lord in the shape of the Deity or in the shape of a mental form are awarded the transcendental benediction of entering into the kingdom of God and associating with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So we can just imagine the elevated position of someone like Aghāsura, into whose body the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, personally entered. Great sages, meditators and devotees constantly keep the form of the Lord within their hearts, or they see the Deity form of the Lord in the temples; in that way they become liberated from all material contamination and at the end of the body enter into the kingdom of God. This perfection is possible simply by keeping the form of the Lord within the mind. But in the case of Aghāsura, the Supreme Personality of Godhead personally entered. Aghāsura’s position was therefore greater than the ordinary devotee’s or the greatest yogī’s.

Mahārāja Parīkṣit, who was engaged in hearing the transcendental pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa (who saved the life of Mahārāja Parīkṣit while he was in the womb of his mother), became more and more interested to hear about Him. And thus he questioned the sage Śukadeva Gosvāmī, who was reciting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam before the King.

King Parīkṣit was a bit astonished to understand that the killing of the Aghāsura demon was not discussed for one year, until after the boys attained the paugaṇḍa age. Mahārāja Parīkṣit was very inquisitive to learn about this, for he was sure that such an incident was due to the working of Kṛṣṇa’s different energies.

Generally, the kṣatriyas or the administrative class are always busy with their political affairs, and they have very little chance to hear about the transcendental pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa. But while Parīkṣit Mahārāja was hearing these transcendental pastimes, he considered himself to be very fortunate because not only was he hearing Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes but he was doing so from Śukadeva Gosvāmī, the greatest authority on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Thus being requested by Mahārāja Parīkṣit, Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued to speak about the transcendental pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa in the matter of His form, quality, fame and paraphernalia.

Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Twelfth Chapter of Kṛṣṇa, “The Killing of the Aghāsura Demon.”

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