“One friend challenged Krishna thus: ‘My dear friend Damodara, You are an expert only in eating. You have defeated Subala only because he is weak and You adopted cheating means. Don’t advertise Yourself to be a great fighter by such action. You have advertised Yourself as a serpent, and I am the peacock who will now defeat You.’ The peacock is the ablest enemy of the serpent.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 46)
Friend1: I find it interesting that the items in Krishna’s apparel ensemble seem to be as important as Krishna Himself.
Friend2: Who is Krishna and what items are you referring to?
Friend1: The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan.
Friend2: God has associated apparel?
Friend1: It is a contributing factor to the superiority of the saguna form. Both nirguna and saguna are the same, as God does not change. It’s sort of like knowing that I exist based on things that I have built versus seeing me in person.
Friend2: Interesting concept. Please elaborate.
Friend1: If someone never met me but wanted to know who I was, they could enter a house that I had built. Perhaps they purchased it. At first they might not really care about how the construction was completed.
Friend2: Right. Most people are more interested in the price, the square footage, the location, the heating and cooling elements, etc.
Friend1: One day the homeowner learns that I built the house with my own hands. This is their introduction to me. They get an idea of who I am.
Friend2: There is a hint of knowledge. Indirect association through appreciation of accomplishments.
Friend1: Doesn’t even have to be appreciation. Any sort of interaction. They could be upset with me based on a perceived error. Regardless, they will know me better if they meet me in person. I do not change in either instance. How they choose to associate is up to them. I am the same individual in either case.
Friend2: True, but I see what you are saying about the saguna aspect.
Friend1: With the Supreme Lord, the inclusion of the word guna is a little misleading. “With or without gunas” is from our perspective. For Krishna gunas always refer to transcendental features or glories.
Friend2: Instead of “material qualities,” which is the commonly used definition.
Friend1: The saguna form has apparel. In the manifestation of Vishnu, Bhagavan has four hands and corresponding items to hold. As Rama, He carries the bow and arrow.
Friend2: Back to your original point, the idea is that Rama’s bow is as important as Rama Himself?
Friend1: Importance applying to the worshipers. That is how they see the prince of Ayodhya. Valmiki Muni says that the pure devotees don’t mind where they reside, heaven or hell, since they always have Rama standing with His bow and arrow in the heart.
Friend2: That is nice.
Friend1: With Krishna there are many items of association, with one being the peacock feather.
Friend2: For sure. Goswami Tulsidas mentions that the peacock doesn’t have estimable qualities otherwise.
Friend1: You mean that it is a lower animal?
Friend2: Not lower or higher, but certainly not one to go out of your way to appreciate. Yet ever since the peacock’s feather became associated with Krishna, people refer to it as mora.
तनु बिचित्र कायर बचन अहि अहार मन घोर |
तुलसी हरि भए पच्धर ताते कह सब मोर ||
tanu bicitra kāyara bacana ahi ahāra mana ghora |
tulasī hari bhae pacdhara tāte kaha saba mora ||
“The peacock has a strange body, speaks in a cowardly way, eats snakes for food, and has a ghastly mind. Tulsi says that Shri Hari still uses its feathers to adorn the head, and therefore everyone now says, ‘mine.’” (Dohavali, 107)
Friend1: That’s the Sanskrit word for peacock?
Friend2: Hindi, I think, and it also means “mine.” To use the same word means that there is some affection, and the only cause is the association to Krishna.
Friend1: Here is a question. Why the peacock? Why not wear some other kind of feather?
Friend2: You have a problem here? You know, there is some similarity in behavior to Krishna.
Friend1: What do you mean? In addition to wearing the peacock feather, the Supreme Lord has some other association?
Friend2: The peacock is known to be a great enemy to snakes. One of Krishna’s friends made a joke in this area, saying that Krishna is like a serpent who will be defeated by the peacock-like friend.
Friend1: Interesting. But isn’t Garuda known to be the enemy to snakes?
Friend2: The bird-carrier of Lord Vishnu. Yes, and that is another cause for association. The peacock and Garuda have something in common, and Garuda is directly associated with Bhagavan.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: In the pastime with Kaliya, Krishna is the enemy to snakes.
Friend1: That’s right! Krishna danced on his hoods, leaving the imprint of His lotus feet.
Friend2: An easier way to apply tilaka. Anyway, we can try to speculate as to the cause for this item or that, but there is nothing to change the situation. It is what it is. The peacock feather brings to mind Shri Krishna and His all-attractiveness, so the peacock gets some auspiciousness as a result. If you can remember Krishna while seeing a snake, all the better, as consciousness is the key to making progress in the human birth.
When dealing with Kaliya the snake,
Imprints of lotus feet to make.
So also as enemy to scorn,
Like with peacock whose feather worn.
Which ever since on Krishna’s head,
By image to transcendence led.
With Vishnu’s flower and Rama’s bow,
Same as personal association so.