“When the horse was dead, his mouth became loose and Krishna could extract His hand without difficulty. He did not feel any surprise that the Keshi demon was killed so easily, but the demigods were amazed, and out of their great appreciation they offered Krishna greetings by showering flowers.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 36)
This passage describes the conclusion of an incident where a demon had assumed the form of a horse and attacked Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The original Lord of mankind, the one and only God, descended to earth in His original, transcendental, and blissful body around five thousand years ago in Vrindavana. Especially during His childhood, this original form of Godhead, known by the name of Krishna, took to killing demons that attacked the innocent. A learned man may question the need for God to fight demons. After all, if He is the Supreme Lord, He is most certainly in charge of creating every circumstance and every favorable and unfavorable condition in the world. Therefore the initial attack of any demon must be caused by Krishna in the first place, so why would He want to create such a situation? Is He simply after praise from others? Normally, such a personality trait would be considered a defect, but with the Supreme Lord it isn’t. The praise offered to Krishna actually purifies those who offer it, rather than Krishna Himself. The Lord is the Supreme Pure, atmarama, so He is in need of nothing.
“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion-at that time I descend Myself.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.7)
The Bhagavad-gita, the most concise and complete exposition on the original theistic doctrine put in place for all of mankind, states that the Supreme Absolute Truth, the original Personality of Godhead possessing a full form, descends to earth whenever and wherever there is a steep decline in religious practice and the prominent rise of irreligion. Religion can be thought of as any set of guidelines and procedures which enable one to remain connected with God. Irreligion is thus anything which leads to the opposite condition. When there is a rise in irreligion, it means that the practice of activities which keep one separate from God rise to prominence. This situation certainly isn’t favorable for anyone, including those who espouse the belief in a formless God or the absence of an almighty creator. Regardless of the motivations behind irreligious activities, the actions themselves can never lead to any beneficial condition. Since religion is derived from the pure, transcendental, and blissful relationship that exists between the liberated living entities and their supreme object of pleasure, God, religious activities, when practiced properly, automatically keep one in a blissful state. Activities of irreligion, therefore, must inevitably lead to unhappiness since they ensure that the link to the transcendental realm remains broken.
If the irreligionists rise to any sort of prominence, naturally society’s chances for reconnecting with the Supreme Spirit will diminish. Therefore in extreme circumstances, the Supreme Lord personally descends to earth. He takes on the greatest enemies of the theists, thus giving protection to the devotees who aim to remain in God consciousness. One such descent of the Divine took place around five thousand years ago. Lord Krishna, who is God in His original form and possesses all attractiveness and beauty, appeared from the womb of Mother Devaki in Mathura, but was then subsequently transferred to the nearby town of Vrindavana. It was in Vrindavana that Krishna enacted the pastimes which devotees relish the most. The king of Mathura at the time, Kamsa, sent demon after demon to kill Krishna in Vrindavana. Since Krishna is God, these demons didn’t stand a chance when facing Him.
In the above referenced passage, Lord Krishna has just finished killing a demon named Keshi. This demon assumed the form of a horse, and at the behest of Kamsa, went to Vrindavana to attack Krishna and His cowherd friends. Vrindavana was a farm community, so Lord Krishna decided to fit into the society by playing the role of a cowherd boy. Since Krishna is so attractive, He was the center of attention in Vrindavana. The Lord had many friends who would go out to the pasturing grounds with Him on a regular basis. It was during these outings that the demons would usually choose to attack. Krishna appeared to be an ordinary child to the demons, so they didn’t think they would have any trouble taking on the Lord or any of His childhood friends. This Keshi demon charged at Krishna, but the Lord easily caught hold of him and threw him to the ground. Regaining his senses, the horse charged at Krishna again, but this time the Lord forced His hand into Keshi’s mouth. While in the horse’s mouth, Krishna’s hand began to gradually increase in size. The demon couldn’t take the pain and eventually died as a result.
Upon the death of the demon, the demigods in the sky showered flowers in praise of Krishna. Narada Muni, the great saint, was also on hand to offer kind prayers to Krishna, praising the Lord for His wonderful feats. These demons were very powerful, so it was quite astonishing to see someone in the form of a child killing them so easily. Demigods are known as celestials; they are elevated living entities who reside in the heavenly planets. Since they are devotees of Krishna, they are also known as suras. Since demons are enemies of Krishna and the demigods, they are known as asuras.
Krishna, as God, is deserving of praise and adoration at all times, regardless of the circumstance. Yet it is certainly interesting to see that during His childhood, the Lord would accept all of the praise that came to Him as a result of situations that He was technically responsible for creating. For instance, the demons that came to Vrindavana were only there to kill Krishna. They only came to kill Krishna because Kamsa had asked them to. Kamsa only wanted Krishna dead because a prophecy had stated that the king would die at the hands of Devaki’s eighth son. If Krishna had not appeared as Devaki’s child, Kamsa would have had no need to try to kill him. The inhabitants of Vrindavana would have been spared the attacks of the demons if Krishna had not been born.
So does this mean that Lord Krishna, God Himself, simply came to earth to receive praise? Is He so petty that He needs to be loved and adored by everyone in order to feel happy? To answer these questions, let’s first review how similar situations play out in ordinary dealings. Young children and spouses serve as good examples in this regard. A typical child will ask for toys, games, and money from time to time. A good parent will hold back in these situations, not wanting to spoil the child. If a child is given whatever they want, whenever they want, they won’t learn the value of money and hard work. When they grow older, they will start to expect others to meet their needs and thus have a difficult time in life.
But as we all know, sometimes parents just can’t help it. Their child will desperately want something, like a bike or a state of the art video game system, and the parent will budge and purchase the item, usually giving it as a gift for Christmas or a birthday. When the child receives the gift, the reaction will be quite predictable. “Oh Dad, I love you so much! I can’t believe you bought this for me. You’re the best dad in the whole world!” Naturally this will make the parent feel quite happy and satisfied. In these situations, the parents will hardly remember that the toy itself was the impetus for the love and affection shown to them. The child was made happy, and the parent was satisfied at the same time. The psychological reasons for such an exchange of emotion are not taken into account.
Husbands and wives have similar experiences. Valentine’s Day, the wedding anniversary, and the birthday are the three most important days of each year that the husband must make sure to not forget about. From the wife’s perspective, there is usually an expectation of receiving a gift on these special days. A good husband will not only remember these occasions, but he will go above and beyond the call of duty to try to meet or surpass the expectations of the wife. If he comes through with the perfect gift, the wife will surely be happy. “Oh honey, I love you so much. I can’t believe you put so much thought into my gift. I love it, and I love you.” The same cause-and-effect is seen when the wife buys a gift for the husband. If the wife purchases a new electronic device, tickets to a popular sporting event, or cooks an elaborate meal, surely the husband will be very pleased. He, in turn, will offer similar loving sentiments back to the wife as a way of thanking her.
In this paradigm, the loving sentiments directed at the spouse have a root cause, namely the elaborate, thoughtful, and well-timed gift. Ideally, the husband and wife should already love each other completely and without motive. The exchange of loving sentiments shouldn’t be dependent on the giving of gifts. But these situations are commonplace nonetheless. Just as with the giving of gifts to children, the root cause of the resulting happiness and love is ignored, for all the giver cares about is seeing their beloved happy.
This same principle can be applied to the devotees who offer praise to the Lord. Regardless of whether or not the Lord created the perilous situation for His own satisfaction, the wonderful activities He performed as a result are certainly worthy of praise. More importantly, the offering of praise from the devotee serves to purify their consciousness. It is this purified consciousness, when adopted and maintained permanently up until the time of death, that allows a conditioned soul to become liberated.
Liberation results in the end of the cycle of birth and death. The conditioned soul is meant to always reside with Krishna, but upon taking birth in the material world, it looks for association with anything except Krishna. Therefore, the real purpose behind Krishna’s appearances on earth is to allow the lost souls a chance to reconnect with Him. By witnessing the Lord’s wonderful activities and transcendental pastimes, the living entities become inspired to offer praise to their supreme object of pleasure. In this way we see that Lord Krishna performs a great service for all of humanity by creating situations where He can protect the innocent from the attacks of demons.
If the Lord didn’t create these situations, our praise would be misdirected towards ordinary human beings. These people may possess great attributes and personality traits, but worshiping them doesn’t really advance the plight of the soul. The only living entities actually deserving of praise are those who take to praising Krishna at all times. Therefore great devotees like Narada Muni and the demigods in heaven serve as objects of worship. They constantly praise Krishna for His exploits, thus setting a good example for the rest of society. Their association helps us in the long run.
We should take advantage of the accounts of Krishna’s activities found in Vedic texts such as the Shrimad Bhagavatam and Ramayana. The calamitous situations, and their subsequent resolutions brought about by Krishna’s transcendental activities, described within these books were created for our benefit. God is self-satisfied, so He is lacking nothing. Rather, it is the conditioned souls who are in need of something; an ultimate object of worship, a hero that will never let them down. That hero is Lord Krishna.