“Hiranyaksha and his brother, Madhu and the very strong Kaitabha – the one who slayed them, Bhagavan, the ocean of mercy, has descended as an avatara.” (Dohavali, 115)
hiranyācca bhrātā sahita madhu kai।tabha balavāna |
jehiṃ māre soi avatareu k।rpāsindhu bhagavāna ||
Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, dharma. Correspondingly, the rise of irreligion, adharma. These conditions trigger the periodic appearances, which to the limited vision look like a janma, or birth, but are not really. The form is described as an avatara, or one who descends. This means that the external is not material, despite what common assessment says.
The avatara descends from the spiritual world for these purposes, and then there are two primary functions carried out. Protecting the pious, the sadhus. These are saintly people, who typically don’t keep attention on defense. There shouldn’t be much concern in this area, as there aren’t many possessions. If need be, the sadhu can take residence inside of a remote cave, sit down in front of a tulasi plant, and all day chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
The second function relates to the first. The avatara annihilates the miscreants. The Sanskrit word is dushkritam, those who are interested only in impious work. The miscreants love to harass the saints, and rather than take up weapons and get distracted from their primary business of God consciousness and worship of the Divine, the Supreme Lord Himself takes up the task of defense on their behalf.
He is already everywhere through the expansion known as Supersoul. The material nature works at His direction. While that energy is typically neutral, for the devotees an exception is made. The sadhu comes under the direct supervision of the most intelligent mind. This is because the devotees are considered to be His friends.
“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)
How exactly does Bhagavan annihilate the miscreants? Should not the material nature handle the responsibility? The avataras are paired with some of the most powerful miscreants in the world. Again, the purpose is twofold. One is to show just how high a person can climb in material advancement. In one sense, the sky is the limit. People like Hiranyakashipu were so powerful that even the demigods were helpless against him.
The other purpose is to show that no matter how advanced a person becomes materially, in any of the different areas of opulence, they are still no match for Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Goswami Tulsidas mentions four different times Bhagavan took on such miscreants to describe how God again descended as the avatara named Rama.
The bad guys have been around just as long as the good guys have. The original good guy is Lord Brahma, who is also known as the creator. Both the suras and asuras trace their lineage back to him. In fact, Brahma is the original father of every species.
“In the beginning of creation, Lord Brahma was attacked by two demons—Madhu and Kaitabha—but Krishna saved him. Therefore Krishna is addressed as madhu-kaitabha-hantri.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.3.13 Purport)
A long time ago Brahma was attacked by two people named Madhu and Kaitabha. Bhagavan was there to protect. The different avataras that offer this protection are of the same identity, that is to say they are the same person. Therefore Bhagavan is also known by such names as Vishnu, Rama, Krishna, Narasimha and Varaha.
The Varaha avatara was in the transcendental form of a boar. He defeated the very powerful demon named Hiranyaksha. The brother of the slain victim later vowed to get revenge on Vishnu. His name was Hiranyakashipu and he was defeated by the avatar named Narasimha, who was a half-man/half-lion.
Tulsidas worships the avatara named Rama, who is in a human-like body. The poet gives the background description so that no one will be confused. Rama is the same person who previously slayed Kaitabha, Madhu, and other powerful characters. After His appearance in Ayodhya, Rama would go on to rid the world of even more bad people.
Today the primary avatara is in the form of the holy name itself. This powerful sound cuts through the miscreant known as illusion. Therefore the saints take shelter of this protection, making sure it is always around by constantly producing the sound and allowing others to hear it as well.
Now avatara of Rama the name,
By whom previously demons slain.
Like Madhu and Kaitabha attacking,
Wicked characters of piety lacking.
Hiranyaksha against Varaha the boar,
Whose brother hoping revenge in store.
For the saintly Bhagavan ready to stand,
Now same with Ravana’s fate in hand.
Categories: dohavali 81-120