42. The Killing of the Elephant Kuvalayapida
42 / The Killing of the Elephant Kuvalayäpéòa
After taking Their baths and finishing all other morning duties, Kåñëa and Balaräma could hear the beating of the kettledrums in the wrestling camp. They immediately prepared Themselves to proceed to the spot to see the fun. When Kåñëa and Balaräma reached the gate of the wrestling camp, They saw a big elephant of the name Kuvalayäpéòa being tended by a caretaker. The caretaker was deliberately blocking Their entrance by keeping the elephant in front of the gateway. Kåñëa could understand the purpose of the caretaker, and He prepared Himself by tightening His dress before combating the elephant. He began to address the caretaker in a very grave voice, as resounding as a cloud: "You miscreant caretaker, give way and let Me pass through the gate. If you block My way, I shall send you and your elephant to the house of death personified."
The caretaker, being thus insulted by Kåñëa, became very angry, and in order to challenge Kåñëa, as was previously planned, he provoked the elephant to attack. The elephant then moved before Kåñëa like inevitable death. It rushed towards Him and tried to catch Him with its trunk, but Kåñëa very dexterously moved behind the elephant. Being able to see only to the end of its nose, the elephant could not see Kåñëa hiding behind its legs, but it tried to capture Him with its trunk. Kåñëa again very quickly escaped capture, and He again ran behind the elephant and caught its tail. Holding the elephant by its tail, Kåñëa began to pull it, and with very great strength He dragged it for at least twenty-five yards, just as Garuòa drags an insignificant snake. Kåñëa pulled the elephant from this side to that, from right to left, just as He used to pull the tail of a calf in His childhood. After this, Kåñëa went in front of the elephant and gave it a strong slap. He then slipped away from the elephant's view and ran to its back. Then, falling down on the ground, Kåñëa placed Himself in front of the elephant's two legs and caused it to trip and fall. Kåñëa immediately got up, but the elephant, thinking that He was still lying down, tried to push an ivory tusk through the body of Kåñëa by forcibly stabbing it into the ground. Although the elephant was harassed and angry, the caretaker riding on its head tried to provoke it further. The elephant then rushed madly towards Kåñëa. As soon as it came within reach, Kåñëa caught hold of the trunk and pulled the elephant down. When the elephant and caretaker fell, Kåñëa jumped up on the elephant's back and broke it and killed the caretaker also. After killing the elephant, Kåñëa took an ivory tusk on His shoulder. Decorated with drops of perspiration and sprinkled with the blood of the elephant, He felt very blissful, and thus He began to proceed towards the wrestling camp. Lord Balaräma took the other tusk of the elephant on His shoulder. Accompanied by Their cowherd boy friends, They entered the arena.
When Kåñëa entered the wrestling arena with Balaräma and Their friends, He appeared differently to different people according to their different relationships (rasas) with Him. Kåñëa is the reservoir of all pleasure and all kinds of rasas, both favorable and unfavorable. He appeared to the wrestlers exactly like a thunderbolt. To the people in general He appeared as the most beautiful personality. To the females He appeared to be the most attractive male, Cupid personified, and thus increased their lust. The cowherd men who were present there looked upon Kåñëa as their own kinsman, coming from the same village of Våndävana. The kñatriya kings who were present saw Him as the strongest ruler. To the parents of Kåñëa, Nanda and Yaçodä, He appeared to be the most loving child. To Kaàsa, the king of the Bhoja dynasty, He appeared to be death personified. To the unintelligent, He appeared to be an incapable personality. To the yogés present, He appeared to be the Supersoul. To the members of the Våñëi dynasty He appeared to be the most celebrated descendant. Thus appreciated differently by different kinds of men present, Kåñëa entered the wrestling arena with Balaräma and His cowherd boy friends. Having heard that Kåñëa had already killed the elephant, Kuvalayäpéòa, Kaàsa knew beyond doubt that Kåñëa was formidable. He thus became very much afraid of Him. Kåñëa and Balaräma had long hands. They were beautifully dressed, and They were attractive to all the people assembled there. They were dressed as if They were going to act on a dramatic stage, and They drew the attention of all people.
The citizens of Mathurä City who saw Kåñëa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, became very pleased and began to look on His face with insatiable glances, as if they were drinking the nectar of heaven. Seeing Kåñëa gave them so much pleasure that it appeared that they were not only drinking the nectar of seeing His face, but were smelling the aroma and licking up the taste of His body and were embracing Him and Balaräma with their arms. They began to talk among themselves about the two transcendental brothers. For a long time they had heard of the beauty and activities of Kåñëa and Balaräma, but now they were personally seeing Them face to face. They thought that Kåñëa and Balaräma were two plenary incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Näräyaëa, who had appeared in Våndävana.
The citizens of Mathurä began to recite Kåñëa's pastimes, His birth as the son of Vasudeva, His being taken into the care of Nanda Mahäräja and his wife in Gokula, and all those events leading to His coming to Mathurä. They spoke of the killing of the demon Pütanä, as well as the killing of Tåëävarta, who came as a whirlwind. They also recalled the deliverance of the twin brothers from within the yamala arjuna trees. The citizens of Mathurä spoke among themselves: "Çaìkhäsura, Keçé, Dhenukäsura and many other demons were killed by Kåñëa and Balaräma in Våndävana. Kåñëa also saved all the cowherd men of Våndävana from devastating fire. He chastised the Käliya snake in the water of Yamunä, and He curbed the false pride of the heavenly King, Indra. Kåñëa 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 windstorm." They also began to remember other enlivening activities: "The damsels of Våndävana were so pleased by seeing Kåñëa's beauty and participating in His activities that they forgot the purpose of material existence. By seeing and thinking of Kåñëa, they forgot all sorts of material fatigue." The Mathurä citizens discussed the dynasty of Yadu, saying that because of Kåñëa's appearance in this dynasty, the Yadus would remain the most celebrated family in the whole universe. While they were thus talking about the activities of Kåñëa and Balaräma, they heard the vibrations of different bands announcing the wrestling match.
The famous wrestler Cäëüra then began to talk with Kåñëa and Balaräma. "My dear Kåñëa and Balaräma," he said, "we have heard about Your past activities. You are great heroes, and therefore the King has called You. We have heard that Your arms are very strong. The King and all the people present here desire to see a display of Your wrestling abilities. A citizen should be obedient and please the mind of the ruling king; acting in that way, the citizen attains all kinds of good fortune. One who does not care to act obediently is made unhappy because of the king's anger. You are cowherd boys, and we have heard that while tending Your cows in the forest, You enjoy wrestling with each other. We wish, therefore, for You to join with us in wrestling so that all the people present here, along with the King, will be pleased."
Kåñëa immediately understood the purpose of Cäëüra's statements, and He prepared to wrestle with him. But according to the time and circumstances, He spoke as follows: "You are the subject of the King of Bhoja, and you live in the jungle. We are also indirectly his subjects, and We try to please him as far as possible. This offer of wrestling is a great favor of his, but the fact is that We are simply boys. We sometimes play in the forest of Våndävana with Our friends who are Our own age. We think that to combat persons of equal age and strength is good for Us, but to fight great wrestlers like you would not be good for the audience. It would contradict their religious principles." Kåñëa thus indicated that the celebrated, strong wrestlers should not challenge Kåñëa and Balaräma to fight.
In reply to this, Cäëüra said, "My dear Kåñëa, we can understand that You are neither a child nor a young man. You are transcendental to everyone, as is Your big brother, Balaräma. You have already killed the elephant Kuvalayäpéòa, who was capable of fighting and defeating other elephants. You have killed him in a wonderful way. Because of Your strength, it behooves You to compete with the stronger wrestlers amongst us. I therefore wish to wrestle with You, and Your elder brother, Balaräma, will wrestle with Muñöika."
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Forty-second Chapter of Kåñëa, "The Killing of the Elephant Kuvalayäpéòa."