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The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, [1840], at

p. 593


Báńa solicits Śiva for war: finds Aniruddha in the palace, and makes him prisoner. Krishńa, Balaráma, and Pradyumna come to his rescue Śiva and Skanda aid Báńa: the former is disabled; the latter put to flight. Báńa encounters Krishńa, who cuts off all his arms, and is about to put him to death. Śiva intercedes, and Krishńa a spares his life. Vishńu and Śiva are the same.

BEFORE this took place, Báńa had been engaged in the adoration of the three-eyed god, and had thus prayed to him: "I am humiliated, O lord, by the possession of a thousand arms in a state of peace; let some hostilities ensue, in which I may derive some advantage from their possession. Without war, what is the use of these arms? they are but a burden to me." Śankara replied, "When thy peacock banner shall be broken, thou shalt have war, the delight of the evil spirits that feast on the flesh of man." Báńa, pleased by this promise, proffered his thanks to Śambhu, and returned to his palace, where he found his standard broken; at which his joy was increased.

At that time the nymph Chitralekhá returned from Dwáraká, and by the exercise of her magic power brought Aniruddha along with her. The guards of the inner apartments discovering him there with Ushá, reported it to the king who immediately sent a body of his followers to seize the prince; but the valiant youth, taking up an iron club, slew his assailants: on which Báńa mounted his car, advanced against him, and endeavoured to put him to death. Finding, however, that Aniruddha was not to be subdued by prowess, he followed the counsel of his minister, and brought his magical faculties into the conflict, by which he succeeded in capturing the Yadu prince, and binding him in serpent bonds.

When Aniruddha was missed from Dwáravatí, and the Yádavas were inquiring of one another whither he had gone, Nárada came to them, and told them that he was the prisoner of Báńa, having been conveyed by a female, possessed of magic faculties, to Śońitapura 1 When they heard

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this, they were satisfied; for they had imagined he had been taken away by the gods (in reprisal for the Párijáta tree). Krishńa therefore immediately summoned Garud́a, who came with a wish; and mounting upon him, along with Bala and Pradyumna, he set off for the city of Báńa. On their approach to the city they were opposed by the spirits who attend on Rudra, but these were soon destroyed by Hari, and he and his companions reached the vicinity of the town. Here mighty Fever, an emanation from Maheśwara, having three feet and three heads 2, fought desperately with Vishńu in defence of Báńa. Baladeva, upon whom his ashes were scattered, was seized with burning heat, and his eyelids trembled: but he obtained relief by clinging to the body of Krishńa. Contending thus with the divine holder of the bow, the Fever emanating from Śiva was quickly expelled from the person of Krishńa by Fever which he himself engendered. Brahmá beholding the impersonated malady bewildered by the beating inflicted by the arms of the deity, entreated the latter to desist; and the foe of Madhu refrained, and absorbed into himself the fever he had created. The rival Fever then departed, saying to Krishńa, "Those men who call to memory the combat between us shall be ever exempt from febrile disease."

Next Vishńu overcame and demolished the five fires 3, and with perfect ease annihilated the army of the Dánavas. Then the son of Bali (Báńa),

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with the whole of the Daitya host, assisted by Śankara and Kártikeya, fought with Śauri. A fierce combat took place between Hari and Śankara; all the regions shook, scorched by their flaming weapons, and the celestials felt assured that the end of the universe was at hand. Govinda, with the weapon of yawning, set Śankara a-gape; and then the demons and the demigods attendant upon Śiva were destroyed on every side; for Hara, overcome with incessant gaping, sat down in his car, and was unable longer to contend with Krishńa, whom no acts affect. The deity of war, Kártikeya, wounded in the arm by Garud́a, struck by the weapons of Pradyumna, and disarmed by the shout of Hari, took to flight. Báńa, when he saw Śankara disabled, the Daityas destroyed, Guha fled, and Śiva's followers slain, advanced on his vast car, the horses of which were harnessed by Nandíśa, to encounter Krishńa and his associates Bala and Pradyumna. The valiant Balabhadra, attacking the host of Báńa, wounded them in many ways with his arrows, and put them to a shameful rout; and their sovereign beheld them dragged about by Ráma with his ploughshare, or beaten by him with his club, or pierced by Krishńa with his arrows: he therefore attacked Krishńa, and a fight took place between them: they cast at each other fiery shafts, that pierced through their armour; but Krishńa intercepted with his arrows those of Báńa, and cut them to pieces. Báńa nevertheless wounded Keśava, and the wielder of the discus wounded Báńa; and both desirous of victory, and seeking enraged the death of his antagonist, hurled various missiles at each other. When an infinite number of arrows had been cut to pieces, and the weapons began to be exhausted, Krishńa resolved to put Báńa to death. The destroyer of the demon host therefore took up his discus Sudarśana, blazing with the radiance of a hundred suns. As he was in the act of casting it, the mystical goddess Kot́aví, the magic lore of the demons, stood naked before him 4. Seeing her before him, Krishńa, with unclosed eyes, cast

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[paragraph continues] Sudarśana, to cut off the arms of Báńa. The discus, dreaded in its flight by the whole of the weapons of the demons, lopped off successively the numerous arms of the Asura. Beholding Krishńa with the discus again in his hand, and preparing to launch it once more, for the total demolition of Báńa, the foe of Tripura (Śiva) respectfully addressed him. The husband of Umá, seeing the blood streaming from the dissevered arms of Báńa, approached Govinda, to solicit a suspension of hostilities, and said to him, "Krishńa, Krishńa, lord of the world, I know thee, first of spirits, the supreme lord, infinite felicity, without beginning or end, and beyond all things. This sport of universal being, in which thou takest the persons of god, animals, and men, is a subordinate attribute of thy energy. Be propitious therefore, O lord, unto me. I have given Báńa assurance of safety; do not thou falsify that which I have spoken. He has grown old in devotion to me; let him not incur thy displeasure. The Daitya has received a boon from me, and therefore I deprecate thy wrath." When he had concluded, Govinda, dismissing his resentment against the Asura, looked graciously on the lord of Umá, the wielder of the trident, and said to him, "Since you, Śankara, have given a boon unto Báńa, let him live: from respect to your promises, my discus is arrested: the assurance of safety granted by you is granted also by me. You are fit to apprehend that you are not distinct from me. That which I am, thou art; and that also is this world, with its gods, demons, and mankind. Men contemplate distinctions, because they are stupified by ignorance." So saying, Krishńa went to the place where the son of Pradyumna was confined. The snakes that bound him were destroyed, being blasted by the breath of Garud́a: and Krishńa, placing him, along with his wife, upon the celestial bird, returned with Pradyumna and Ráma to Dwáraká 4.


593:1 The synonymes of Śońitapura in the Trikáńd́a Śesha are Devikot́a, Báńapur, Kot́ívarsham, and Ushávana. The first is usually considered to be the modern Devicotta in the Carnatic, which is commonly believed to be the scene of Báńa's defeat. The name, however, occurs in other parts of India; in the Dekhin, on p. 594 the banks of the Godávarí, according to Wilford the capital of Munja (As. Res. IX. 199); and in Asam, near Gwalpára, as the city of the Daityas. As. Res. XIV. 443 Hamilton notices the remains of a city so called in Dinajpur. In the Káliká P., Báńa is described as the friend, and apparently neighbour, of Naraka, king of Pragjyotish or Asam.

594:2 Alluding to the three stages of febrile paroxysms, or to the recurrence of tertian ague. A contest with this enemy, in the course of military operations, is an allegory which the British armies in India too often illustrate.

594:3 The Áhavaniya, Gárhapatya, Dakshińa, Sabhya, and Ávasathya, are the five fires; of which the three first have a religious, and the other two a secular character. The first is a fire prepared for oblations at an occasional sacrifice: the second is the household fire, to be perpetually maintained: the third is a sacrificial fire, in the centre of the other two, and placed to the south: the Sabhya is a fire lighted to warm a party: and the Ávasatthya the common domestic or culinary fire. Manu, III. too, 185, and Kullúka Bhat́t́a's explanation.

595:4 Kot́aví is said to be an eighth portion of Rudráńí, and the tutelary goddess of the Daityas, composed of incantations. The Hari V. calls her also Lambá, and intimates her being the mother of Báńa, and as identical with Durgá. The word in the lexicons designates a naked woman, and is thence applicable to Durgá, in some of her forms.

596:4 There can be little doubt that this legend describes a serious struggle between the Śaivas and Vaishńavas, in which the latter, according to their own report, were victorious; and the Śaivas, although they attempt to make out a sort of compromise between Rudra and Krishńa, are obliged to admit his having the worst of the conflict, and his inability to protect his votary. The Bhágavata tells the story much as the text. The Hari V. amplifies even more than usual, the narrative occupying nearly seventy pages of the French translation. The legend is to be found to the same purport, but in various degrees of detail, in the Agni P., Kúrma P., Padma P. (Uttara Khańd́a), Vámana P., and Brahma Vaivartta P. (Krishńa Janma Khańd́a).

Next: Chapter XXXIV