While Śukadeva Gosvāmī was narrating various activities of Lord Kṛṣṇa in playing the role of an ordinary human being, he also narrated the history of the battle between the dynasty of Yadu and a demon of the name Śālva, who had managed to possess a wonderful airship named Saubha. King Śālva was a great friend of Śiśupāla’s. When Śiśupāla went to marry Rukmiṇī, Śālva was one of the members of the bridegroom’s party. In the fight between the soldiers of the Yadu dynasty and the kings of the opposite side, Śālva was defeated by the soldiers of the Yadu dynasty. But, despite his defeat, he made a promise before all the kings that he would in the future rid the whole world of all the members of the Yadu dynasty. Since his defeat in the fight during the marriage of Rukmiṇī, he had maintained within himself an unforgettable envy of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and he was, in fact, a fool, because he had promised to kill Kṛṣṇa.
Usually such foolish demons take shelter of a demigod like Lord Śiva to execute their ulterior plans, and so in order to get strength, Śālva took refuge at the lotus feet of Lord Śiva. He underwent a severe type of austerity during which he would eat no more than a handful of ashes daily. Lord Śiva, the husband of Pārvatī, is generally very merciful, and he is very quickly satisfied if someone undertakes severe austerities to please him. So after continued austerities by Śālva for one year, Lord Śiva became pleased with him and asked him to beg for the fulfillment of his desire.
Śālva begged from Lord Śiva the gift of an airplane which would be so strong that it could not be destroyed by any demigod, demon, human being, Gandharva or Nāga, or even any Rākṣasa. Moreover, he desired that the airplane be able to fly anywhere and everywhere he would like to pilot it, and be specifically very dangerous and fearful to the dynasty of the Yadus. Lord Śiva immediately agreed to give him the benediction, and Śālva took the help of the demon Maya to manufacture this iron airplane, which was so strong and formidable that no one could crash it. It was a very big machine, almost like a big city, and it could fly so high and at such a great speed that it was almost impossible to see; so there was no question of attacking it. It appeared to be almost covered with darkness, yet the pilot could fly it anywhere and everywhere. Having acquired such a wonderful airplane, Śālva flew it to the city of Dvārakā, because his main purpose in obtaining the airplane was to attack the city of the Yadus, toward whom he maintained a constant feeling of animosity.
Śālva thus attacked the city of Dvārakā from the sky, and he also surrounded the city by a large number of infantry. The soldiers on the surface attacked the beautiful spots of the city. They began to destroy the nice parks, the city gates, the palaces and skyscraper houses, the high walls around the city, and the beautiful spots where people would gather for recreation. While the soldiers attacked on the surface, the airplane began to drop big slabs of stone, tree trunks, thunderbolts, poisonous snakes and many other dangerous things. Śālva also managed to create such a strong whirlwind within the city that all of Dvārakā became dark because of the dust that covered the sky. The airplane occupied by Śālva put the entire city of Dvārakā into distress equal to that caused on the earth long, long ago by the disturbing activities of Tripurāsura. The inhabitants of Dvārakā Purī became so harassed that they were not peaceful for even a moment.
The great heroes of Dvārakā City, headed by commanders such as Pradyumna, counterattacked the soldiers and airplane of Śālva. When he saw the extreme distress of the citizens, Pradyumna immediately arranged his soldiers and personally got up on a chariot, encouraging the citizens by assuring safety. Following his command, many warriors like Sātyaki, Cārudeṣṇa and Sāmba, all young brothers of Pradyumna, as well as Akrūra, Kṛtavarmā, Bhānuvinda, Gada, Śuka and Sāraṇa, all came out of the city to fight with Śālva. All of them were mahā-rathīs, great warriors able to fight with thousands of men. All were fully equipped with necessary weapons and assisted by hundreds and thousands of charioteers, elephants, horses and infantry soldiers. Fierce fighting began between the two parties, exactly like that formerly carried on between the demigods and the demons. The fighting was severe, and whoever observed the fierce nature of the fight felt his bodily hairs stand on end.