Chapter Thirty-six contains forty verses. This chapter describes Kṛṣṇa's killing of Ariṣṭāsura. It also describes Nārada's disclosure to Kaṁsa that both Rāma and Kṛṣṇa were sons of Vasudeva. Because of this disclosure, Kaṁsa arranged to kill both Rāma and Kṛṣṇa. He sent his assistant Keśī to Vṛndāvana, and later he sent Akrūra to bring Rāma and Kṛṣṇa to Mathurā. Chapter Thirty-seven contains thirty-three verses. In this chapter Kṛṣṇa kills the Keśī demon, Nārada worships Kṛṣṇa by narrating His future activities, and Kṛṣṇa kills the demon named Vyomāsura.
- 1 Bhagavad-gita As It Is
- 2 Srimad-Bhagavatam
- 3 Sri Caitanya-caritamrta
- 4 Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Bhagavad-gita As It Is
BG Chapters 1 - 6
I am now unable to stand here any longer. I am forgetting myself, and my mind is reeling. I see only causes of misfortune, O Kṛṣṇa, killer of the Keśī demon.
BG Chapters 13 - 18
Arjuna said: O mighty-armed one, I wish to understand the purpose of renunciation (tyāga) and of the renounced order of life (sannyāsa), O killer of the Keśi demon, master of the senses.
Two words used in this verse to address the Supreme Lord—Hṛṣīkeśa and Keśi-niṣūdana—are significant. Hṛṣīkeśa is Kṛṣṇa, the master of all senses, who can always help us attain mental serenity. Arjuna requests Him to summarize everything in such a way that he can remain equipoised. Yet he has some doubts, and doubts are always compared to demons. He therefore addresses Kṛṣṇa as Keśi-niṣūdana. Keśi was a most formidable demon who was killed by the Lord; now Arjuna is expecting Kṛṣṇa to kill the demon of doubt.
SB Canto 2
All demonic personalities like Pralamba, Dhenuka, Baka, Keśī, Ariṣṭa, Cāṇūra, Muṣṭika, Kuvalayāpīḍa elephant, Kaṁsa, Yavana, Narakāsura and Pauṇḍraka, great marshals like Sālva, Dvivida monkey and Balvala, Dantavakra, the seven bulls, Śambara, Vidūratha and Rukmī, as also great warriors like Kāmboja, Matsya, Kuru, Sṛñjaya and Kekaya, would all fight vigorously, either with the Lord Hari directly or with Him under His names of Baladeva, Arjuna, Bhīma, etc. And the demons, thus being killed, would attain either the impersonal brahmajyoti or His personal abode in the Vaikuṇṭha planets.
SB Canto 3
When the demon saw his magic forces dispelled, he once again came into the presence of the Personality of Godhead, Keśava, and, full of rage, tried to embrace Him within his arms to crush Him. But to his great amazement he found the Lord standing outside the circle of his arms.
In this verse the Lord is addressed as Keśava because He killed the demon Keśī in the beginning of creation.
SB Canto 9
From the womb of Pauravī came twelve sons, including Bhūta, Subhadra, Bhadrabāhu, Durmada and Bhadra. Nanda, Upananda, Kṛtaka, Śūra and others were born from the womb of Madirā. Bhadrā (Kauśalyā) gave birth to only one son, named Keśī.
SB Canto 10.1 to 10.13
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Under the protection of Magadharāja, Jarāsandha, the powerful Kaṁsa began persecuting the kings of the Yadu dynasty. In this he had the cooperation of demons like Pralamba, Baka, Cāṇūra, Tṛṇāvarta, Aghāsura, Muṣṭika, Ariṣṭa, Dvivida, Pūtanā, Keśī, Dhenuka, Bāṇāsura, Narakāsura and many other demoniac kings on the surface of the earth.
SB Cantos 10.14 to 12 (Translations Only)
After Nārada left, King Kaṁsa summoned Keśī and ordered him, "Go kill Rāma and Kṛṣṇa."
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: The demon Keśī, sent by Kaṁsa, appeared in Vraja as a great horse. Running with the speed of the mind, he tore up the earth with his hooves. The hairs of his mane scattered the clouds and the demigods' airplanes throughout the sky, and he terrified everyone present with his loud neighing.
When the Supreme Personality of Godhead saw how the demon was frightening His village of Gokula by neighing terribly and shaking the clouds with his tail, the Lord came forward to meet him. Keśī was searching for Kṛṣṇa to fight, so when the Lord stood before him and challenged him to approach, the horse responded by roaring like a lion.
Seeing the Lord standing before him, Keśī ran toward Him in extreme rage, his mouth gaping as if to swallow up the sky. Rushing with furious speed, the unconquerable and unapproachable horse demon tried to strike the lotus-eyed Lord with his two front legs.
But the transcendental Lord dodged Keśī's blow and then with His arms angrily seized the demon by the legs, whirled him around in the air and contemptuously threw him the distance of one hundred bow-lengths, just as Garuḍa might throw a snake. Lord Kṛṣṇa then stood there.
Upon regaining consciousness Keśī angrily got up, opened his mouth wide and again rushed to attack Lord Kṛṣṇa. But the Lord just smiled and thrust His left arm into the horse's mouth as easily as one would make a snake enter a hole in the ground.
Keśī's teeth immediately fell out when they touched the Supreme Lord's arm, which to the demon felt as hot as molten iron. Within Keśī's body the Supreme Personality's arm then expanded greatly, like a diseased stomach swelling because of neglect.
As Lord Kṛṣṇa's expanding arm completely blocked Keśī's breathing, his legs kicked convulsively, his body became covered with sweat, and his eyes rolled around. The demon then passed stool and fell on the ground, dead.
The mighty-armed Kṛṣṇa withdrew His arm from Keśī's body, which now appeared like a long karkaṭikā fruit. Without the least display of pride at having so effortlessly killed His enemy, the Lord accepted the demigods' worship in the form of flowers rained down from above.
After killing the demon Keśī in battle, the Supreme Personality of Godhead continued to tend the cows and other animals in the company of His joyful cowherd boyfriends. Thus He brought happiness to all the residents of Vṛndāvana.
He made Pūtanā and the whirlwind demon meet with death, pulled down the twin Arjuna trees and killed Śaṅkhacūḍa, Keśī, Dhenuka and similar demons.
The chastisement of the serpent Kāliya; the rescue of Nanda Mahārāja from a great snake; the severe vows performed by the young gopīs, who thus satisfied Lord Kṛṣṇa; the mercy He showed the wives of the Vedic brāhmaṇas, who felt remorse; the lifting of Govardhana Hill followed by the worship and bathing ceremony performed by Indra and the Surabhi cow; Lord Kṛṣṇa's nocturnal pastimes with the cowherd girls; and the killing of the foolish demons Śaṅkhacūḍa, Ariṣṭa and Keśī—all these pastimes are elaborately recounted.
In his Anubhāṣya, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura gives the following information about the Gopāla-campū. The Gopāla-campū is divided into two parts. The first part is called the eastern wave, and the second part is called the northern wave. In the first part there are thirty-three supplications and in the second part thirty-seven supplications. In the first part, completed in 1510 Śakābda (A.D. 1588), the following subject matters are discussed: (1) Vṛndāvana and Goloka; (2) the killing of the Pūtanā demon, the gopīs' returning home under the instructions of mother Yaśodā, the bathing of Lord Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, snigdha-kaṇṭha and madhu-kaṇṭha; (3) the dream of mother Yaśodā; (4) the Janmāṣṭamī ceremony; (5) the meeting between Nanda Mahārāja and Vasudeva, and the killing of the Pūtanā demon; (6) the pastimes of awakening from bed, the deliverance of the demon Śakaṭa, and the name-giving ceremony; (7) the killing of the Tṛṇāvarta demon, Lord Kṛṣṇa's eating dirt, Lord Kṛṣṇa's childish naughtiness, and Lord Kṛṣṇa as a thief; (8) churning of the yogurt, Kṛṣṇa's drinking from the breast of mother Yaśodā, the breaking of the yogurt pot, Kṛṣṇa bound with ropes, the deliverance of the two brothers (Yamalārjuna) and the lamentation of mother Yaśodā; (9) entering Śrī Vṛndāvana; (10) the killing of Vatsāsura, Bakāsura and Vyomāsura; (11) the killing of Aghāsura and the bewilderment of Lord Brahmā; (12) the tending of the cows in the forest; (13) taking care of the cows and chastising the Kāliya serpent; (14) the killing of Gardabhāsura (the ass demon), and the praise of Kṛṣṇa; (15) the previous attraction of the gopīs; (16) the killing of Pralambāsura and the eating of the forest fire; (17) the gopīs' attempt to approach Kṛṣṇa; (18) the lifting of Govardhana Hill; (19) bathing Kṛṣṇa with milk; (20) the return of Nanda Mahārāja from the custody of Varuṇa and the vision of Goloka Vṛndāvana by the gopas; (21) the performance of the rituals in Kātyāyanī-vrata and the worship of the goddess Durgā; (22) the begging of food from the wives of the brāhmaṇas performing sacrifices; (23) the meeting of Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs; (24) Kṛṣṇa's enjoying the company of the gopīs, the disappearance of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa from the scene, and the search for Them by the gopīs; (25) the reappearance of Kṛṣṇa; (26) the determination of the gopīs; (27) pastimes in the waters of the Yamunā; (28) the deliverance of Nanda Mahārāja from the clutches of the serpent; (29) various pastimes in solitary places; (30) the killing of Śaṅkhacūḍa and the Hori; (31) the killing of Ariṣṭāsura; (32) the killing of the Keśī demon; (33) the appearance of Śrī Nārada Muni and a description of the year in which the book was completed.
The Lord chanted:
Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! he
Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! he
Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! rakṣa mām
Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa! pāhi mām
That is, "O Lord Kṛṣṇa, please protect Me and maintain Me." He also chanted:
Rāma! Rāghava! Rāma! Rāghava! Rāma! Rāghava! rakṣa mām
Kṛṣṇa! Keśava! Kṛṣṇa! Keśava! Kṛṣṇa! Keśava! pāhi mām
That is, "O Lord Rāma, descendant of King Raghu, please protect Me. O Kṛṣṇa, O Keśava, killer of the Keśī demon, please maintain Me."
"O Lord Rāmacandra, descendant of Mahārāja Raghu, kindly protect me! O Lord Kṛṣṇa, killer of the Keśī demon, kindly protect me!"
Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Nectar of Devotion
In the Bhaviṣya Purāṇa there is a statement about observing different ceremonies celebrating the Lord's appearance (birthday) and other transcendental activities. It is said, "My Lord Janārdana (Kṛṣṇa), please let us know the date when Your mother Devakī-devī gave birth to You. If You kindly inform us about this, then we shall observe a great celebration on this date. O killer of Keśī, we are souls one-hundred-percent surrendered unto Your lotus feet, and we wish only to please You with our ceremonies."
In the arena of Kaṁsa, when Kṛṣṇa was attacked by big elephants, all of the ladies present began to address Him in this way: "My dear boy—please leave this place immediately! Please leave this place immediately! Don't You see the big elephants coming to attack You? Your innocent gazing upon them is causing us too much perturbation!" Kṛṣṇa then told mother Yaśodā, "My dear mother, don't be perturbed by the appearance of the elephants and horses that are so forcibly coming and raising dust, causing blindness to these lotus-eyed women. Let even the Keśī demon come before Me; My arms will still be adequate for victory. So please don't be perturbed."
When the Keśī demon was assassinated by Kṛṣṇa, Kaṁsa became hopeless. He said, "Keśī-daitya was as dear to me as my own life, but he has been killed by some cowherd boy who is crude, uneducated and ignorant in fighting. Even though I have defeated the King of heaven without difficulty, still I do not know the value of life." Because this hopelessness has a slight touch of attraction for Kṛṣṇa, it is considered to be a reflection of ecstatic love in hopelessness.
When the Keśī demon was causing disturbances in Vṛndāvana by assuming a large horse's body that was so big that he could jump over the trees, mother Yaśodā told her husband, Nanda Mahārāja, "Our child is very restless, so we had better keep Him locked up within the house. I have been very worried about the recent disturbances of the Keśī demon, who has been assuming the form of a giant horse." When it was learned that the demon was entering Gokula in an angry mood, mother Yaśodā became so anxious to protect her child that her face dried up and there were tears in her eyes. These are some of the signs of the ecstasy of dread in devotional service, caused by seeing and hearing something that is dangerous to Kṛṣṇa.
Nanda Mahārāja told his wife, "My dear Yaśodā, although your son, Kṛṣṇa, is as delicate and soft as the mallikā flower, He has gone to kill the Keśī demon, who is as strong as a mountain. Therefore I have become a little disturbed. But never mind, all auspiciousness to my son! I shall raise this hand, which is as strong as a pillar, and I shall kill the Keśī demon, just to give freedom from all anxieties to the inhabitants of Vraja-maṇḍala!" In this statement there are two kinds of mellows: chivalry and dread. Both of them, however, improve the position of parental love, and therefore there is no incompatibility.
Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead
King Kaṁsa not only occupied the kingdoms of the Yadu, Bhoja and Andhaka dynasties and the kingdom of Śūrasena, but he also made alliances with all the other demoniac kings, as follows: the demon Pralamba, demon Baka, demon Cāṇūra, demon Tṛṇāvarta, demon Aghāsura, demon Muṣṭika, demon Ariṣṭa, demon Dvivida, demon Pūtanā, demon Keśī and demon Dhenuka. At that time, Jarāsandha was the king of Magadha Province (known at present as Bihar State). Thus by his diplomatic policy, Kaṁsa consolidated the most powerful kingdom of his time, under the protection of Jarāsandha. He made further alliances with such kings as Bāṇāsura and Bhaumāsura, until he was the strongest. Then he began to behave most inimically toward the Yadu dynasty, into which Kṛṣṇa was to take His birth.
After being instructed by Kaṁsa, the demon Keśī assumed the form of a terrible horse. He entered the area of Vṛndāvana with the speed of the mind, his great mane flying and his hooves digging up the earth. He began to whinny and terrify the whole forest. Kṛṣṇa saw that the demon was terrifying all the residents of Vṛndāvana with his whinnying and his tail wheeling in the sky like a big cloud. Kṛṣṇa could understand that the horse was challenging Him to fight. The Lord accepted his challenge and stood before the Keśī demon, calling him to fight. The horse then ran toward Kṛṣṇa, making a horrible sound like a roaring lion, his jaws spread wide open as if to swallow the whole sky. Keśī rushed toward the Lord with great speed and tried to trample Him with his legs, which were strong, forceful and as hard as stone. Kṛṣṇa, however, immediately caught hold of his legs and thus baffled him. Kṛṣṇa was somewhat angry, and thus He began to whirl the horse around. After a few rounds, He contemptuously threw him a hundred yards away, just as Garuḍa throws a big snake. Thrown by Kṛṣṇa, the horse immediately passed out, but after a little while he regained consciousness and with great anger and force again rushed toward Kṛṣṇa with his mouth open. As soon as Keśī reached Him, Kṛṣṇa pushed His left arm within the horse's mouth, and it looked as though a big snake had entered a hole in the field. The horse felt great pain because Kṛṣṇa's arm felt to him like a hot iron rod. Immediately his teeth fell out. Kṛṣṇa's arm within the mouth of the horse at once began to expand, and Keśī’s throat choked up. As the great horse suffocated, perspiration appeared on his body, and he threw his legs hither and thither. As his last breath came, his eyeballs bulged in their sockets and he passed stool and urine simultaneously. Thus the vital force of his life expired. When the horse was dead, his mouth became loose, and Kṛṣṇa could extract His arm without difficulty. He did not feel any surprise that the Keśī demon was killed so easily, but the demigods in the sky were amazed, and out of their great appreciation they offered Kṛṣṇa greetings by showering flowers.
After He had killed the Keśī demon, Kṛṣṇa returned to tending the cows with His friends in the forest as though nothing had happened. Thus Kṛṣṇa is eternally engaged in His transcendental activities in Vṛndāvana with His friends, the cowherd boys and gopīs, but sometimes He exhibits the extraordinary prowess of the Supreme Personality of Godhead by killing different types of demons.
Nārada Muni did not mention Kṛṣṇa's killing Vyomāsura, which means that he was killed on the same day as the Keśī demon. The Keśī demon was killed in the early morning, and after that the boys went to tend the cows on Govardhana Hill, and it was there that Vyomāsura was killed. Both demons were killed in the morning. Akrūra was requested by Kaṁsa to arrive in Vṛndāvana by evening. After receiving instruction from Kaṁsa, Akrūra started the next morning via chariot for Vṛndāvana. Because Akrūra himself was a great devotee of the Lord, while going to Vṛndāvana he began to pray to the Lord. Devotees are always absorbed in thoughts of Kṛṣṇa, and Akrūra was constantly thinking of Lord Kṛṣṇa's lotus eyes.
The citizens of Mathurā began to recite Kṛṣṇa's pastimes—His birth as the son of Vasudeva, His being taken into the care of Nanda Mahārāja and his wife in Gokula, and all those events leading to His coming to Mathurā to favor them. They spoke of the killing of the demon Pūtanā, as well as the killing of Tṛṇāvarta, who came as a whirlwind. They also recalled the deliverance of the twin brothers from within the yamala-arjuna trees. The citizens of Mathurā spoke among themselves: "Śaṅkhacūḍa, Keśī, Dhenukāsura and many other demons were killed by Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma in Vṛndāvana. Kṛṣṇa also saved all the cowherd men of Vṛndāvana from a devastating fire. He chastised the Kāliya snake in the water of the Yamunā, and He curbed the false pride of the heavenly king, Indra. Kṛṣṇa held up the great Govardhana Hill in one hand for seven continuous days and saved all the people of Gokula from incessant rain, hurricane and hailstorm." They also began to remember other enlivening activities: "The damsels of Vṛndāvana were so much pleased by seeing Kṛṣṇa's beauty and participating in His activities that they forgot the troubles of material existence. By seeing Kṛṣṇa and thinking of Him, they forgot all sorts of fatigue." The Mathurā citizens discussed the dynasty of Yadu, saying that because of Kṛṣṇa's appearance in this dynasty the Yadus would remain the most celebrated family in the whole universe. The citizens of Mathurā then began to talk about Balarāma. They spoke of His very beautiful lotus-petal eyes, and they remarked of Him, "This boy has killed the Pralamba demon and many others also." While they were thus talking about the activities of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, they heard the vibrations of different bands announcing the wrestling match.