The commander in chief of the demigods, known as Kārttikeya, was satisfied with the fighting of King Mucukunda, but once he asked that the King, having taken too much trouble in fighting the demons, retire from fighting and take rest. Kārttikeya addressed King Mucukunda, “My dear King, you have sacrificed everything for the sake of the demigods. You had a very nice kingdom, undisturbed by any kind of enemy. But you left that kingdom, neglected your opulence and possessions, and never cared for fulfillment of your personal ambitions. Due to your long absence from your kingdom while fighting the demons on behalf of the demigods, your queen, your children, your relatives and your ministers have all passed away in due course of time. Time and tide wait for no man. Now even if you return to your home, you will find no one living there. The influence of time is very strong. Time is so powerful because it is a representation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; time is therefore stronger than the strongest. The influence of time can effect changes in subtle things without difficulty. No one can check the progess of time. As an animal tamer tames animals according to his will, time also adjusts things according to its own will. No one can supersede the arrangement made by supreme time.”
Thus addressing Mucukunda, the demigod requested him to ask any benediction he might be pleased with, except the benediction of liberation. Liberation cannot be awarded by any living entity but the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu. Therefore another name of Lord Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa is Mukunda, “He who can award liberation.”
King Mucukunda had not slept for many, many years. He was engaged in the duty of fighting, and therefore he was very tired. So when the demigod offered a benediction, Mucukunda simply thought of sleeping. He replied as follows: “My dear Kārttikeya, best of the demigods, I want to sleep now, and I want from you the following benediction. Grant me the power to burn to ashes, by my mere glance, anyone who disturbs my sleeping and awakens me untimely. Please give me this benediction.” The demigod agreed and also gave him the benediction that he would be able to take complete rest. Then King Mucukunda entered the cave of the mountain.
On the strength of the benediction of Kārttikeya, Mucukunda burned Kālayavana to ashes simply by glancing at him. When the incident was over, Kṛṣṇa came before King Mucukunda. Kṛṣṇa had actually entered the cave to deliver King Mucukunda because of his austerity, but Kṛṣṇa did not appear before him first. He arranged that first Kālayavana should come before him. That is the way of the activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead: He does one thing in such a way that many other purposes are served. He wanted to deliver King Mucukunda, who was sleeping in the cave, and at the same time He wanted to kill Kālayavana, who had attacked Mathurā City. By this action He served all purposes.
When Lord Kṛṣṇa appeared before Mucukunda, the King saw Him dressed in a yellow garment, His chest marked with the symbol of Śrīvatsa, and the Kaustubha-maṇi jewel hanging around His neck. Kṛṣṇa appeared before him with four hands, as viṣṇu-mūrti, with a garland called Vaijayantī hanging from His neck down to His knees. He looked lustrous, His face was beautifully smiling, and He wore nice jeweled earrings on His ears. Kṛṣṇa appeared more beautiful than a human can conceive. Not only did He appear in this feature, but He glanced over Mucukunda with great affection, attracting the King’s mind. Although He was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the oldest of all, He looked like a fresh young boy, and His movements were just like those of a free deer. Still, He appeared extremely powerful; His influence and vast power are so great that every human being should be afraid of Him.
When King Mucukunda saw Kṛṣṇa’s magnificent features, he wondered about His identity, and with great humility he asked the Lord, “My dear Lord, may I inquire how it is that You happened to be in the cave of this mountain? Who are You? I can see that Your feet are just like soft lotus flowers. How could You walk in the forest, full of thorns and pebbles? I am simply surprised to see this! Are You not, therefore, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the most powerful amongst the powerful? Are You not the original source of all illumination and fire? Can I consider You one of the great demigods, like the sun-god, the moon-god or Indra, King of heaven? Or are You the predominating deity of some other planet?”