“As the director of different kinds of clouds, Indra called for the samvartaka. This cloud is invited when there is a need to devastate the whole cosmic manifestation. The samvartaka was ordered by Indra to go over Vrindavana and inundate the whole area with an extensive flood. Demonically, Indra thought himself to be the all-powerful supreme personality.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 25)
“I know this is not necessarily your area of expertise. You focus on bhakti-yoga, explained as the science of self-realization. More than just blind faith. More than just another religion to be placed in the basket with others.
“Dharma is that characteristic which never leaves the individual. Whether high or low, moving or nonmoving, on earth or in land, with the ability to fly or standing tall for thousands of years – dharma is the same. It cannot be removed from the component object without the existence itself eliminated.
“But perhaps you can help me with a seemingly contradictory proposal from some other popular faiths. I am sure you are aware of the concept of Satan. He is the anti-God. There is the Almighty, who represents principles in piety, who is the object of worship.
“Then there is this adversary, who competes for the attention of the individual. Satan is the devil. He instigates trouble. A person sells their soul to him, in the matter of compromising long-term benefit for short-term gain. This is never a wise proposition; hence the negative connotation.
“What I don’t understand is why God would allow for a Satan. Is the Almighty not the source of everything? How, then, could there be an equal with whom to contend? Is there an analogous concept in the teachings of sanatana-dharma? Could we say that the illusory energy of maya is Satan, but just described differently?”
Some less intelligent speculators, in the guise of spiritual leaders, will opine as such, but the associated implication is incompatible. The Supreme Lord is known by so many Sanskrit names; each an attempt to facilitate understanding. We are born in the darkness of illusion, so we require assistance in learning higher concepts.
One of those names is Ajita. This means “unconquerable.” No one is able to defeat God. This means that the Supreme has no true rival. For sure, the challengers are too many to count. They have been mounting opposition since before anyone can remember. Failure does not deter them, as with Ravana failing to lift the bow in the contest in Janaka’s kingdom.
बानु बानु जिमि गयौ गवहिं दसकन्धरू |
को अवनी तल इन सम बीर धुरन्धरू ||
bānu bānu jimi gayau gavahiṃ dasakandharū |
ko avanī tala ina sama bīra dhurandharū ||
“Like an arrow Banasura and Ravana came to the bow and then went. Who on this earth is as heroic as them?” (Janaki Mangala, 92)
Maya is not an adversary; she is actually a devotee. She works under God’s direction. Her appearance is due to our own desire. As the tired adult employee looks for escape through purchasing a seat in a theater hall, so the producers, actors and directors work to facilitate those desires. Their objective is to put on the best possible show, to provide the experience in illusion.
Maya operates in a similar manner. It is indeed illusion, which means that falling for maya’s tricks will not benefit us in the long-term. When the present lifetime reaches completion, there is the repeat experience in the next birth. It is something like spinning on a wheel of suffering, samsara-chakra.
It could be speculated that maya is like Satan in that she punishes, and so God institutes this opposing force as a way to deliver justice. In truth, the laws of nature already account for everything necessary. Bhagavan, which is a more descriptive name for the Supreme Lord, does not need to personally intervene to punish the wrongdoers.
If there is an analogous concept to Satan and good and evil, we can look to the perennial conflict between the suras and the asuras. In the simplest terms, these are the good guys and the bad guys. They have been at odds since before anyone can remember.
The suras are supposed to be on the side of good. They align with the principles of dharma. The asuras get their name based on the negation of godly qualities. They live off duplicity, dishonesty, unnecessary violence, and satisfying the senses at all costs.
Since both suras and asuras appear in the material world, there is the potential to rise to the highest extent possible in strength. This potential is there for both sides to avail. The suras live in the heavenly region, svarga-loka, but sometimes the asuras gain in strength to the point that they can conquer the suras.
Moreover, the suras are not immune to exhibiting bad qualities. Case in point the first Govardhana Puja. Taking place in Vrindavana, the worship was innocent enough. The people skipped the annual Indra-yajna in favor of the nearby hill, which was dear to the cows. More importantly, it was dear to Krishna.
Indra could not tolerate this insult. The envy was so strong that he forgot why Krishna was there. It was the suras who had petitioned Lord Vishnu, the personal God, to descend to earth in order to lighten the burden caused by the rise of the asura class. Krishna had Indra’s back, so to speak.
Nevertheless, the king of heaven unleashed a fury of nature set to wash everyone away. This proves that even someone who is supposedly on the side of good, the opposite of Satan, can challenge God, in an attempt to measure their strength.
No one ever stacks up to that all-attractive son of Yashoda, who effortlessly lifted Govardhana Hill. This provided the necessary protection from Indra’s falling rain. The king of heaven started by thinking he was a worthy adversary. He finished an embarrassed and utterly defeated leader of a region that supposedly has so much going for it.
This means that the association of the personal God is more important. Krishna can defeat any force that should attack, even if it be friendly-fire from a previously supportive well-wisher.
From someone considered a friend,
Now devastating rain to send.
For Vrindavana itself to end,
Nothing this revenge could mend.
But Krishna thwarting the attack,
Though a child nothing to lack.
Providing not an equal adversary,
Even heaven’s king to him secondary.