The All Munificent Purushottama - Part 12

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

This is in continuation of the previous offering titled, "The All Munificient Purushottama" wherein we were meditating on the various incarnations of the Lord and how specifically the Lord manifested His quality of being a Purushottama. Herein we continue the glorious quality of Lord Krishna as Purushottama.

When the Mahabharata war happened, Bhishma was leading the army for first 10 days. Duryodhana criticized Bhīṣmadeva, alleging that he was reluctant to kill Arjuna because of paternal affection. Bhīṣmadeva therefore promised that the next day he would kill all five Pāṇḍavas with special weapons made for the purpose. Duryodhana kept the arrows with him for the next day fight. By tricks, Arjuna took the arrows from Duryodhana, and Bhīṣmadeva could understand that this was the trick of Lord Kṛṣṇa. So he took a vow that the next day Kṛṣṇa would have to take up weapons Himself, otherwise His friend Arjuna would die. In the next day’s fighting Bhīṣmadeva fought so violently that both Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa were in trouble. Arjuna was almost defeated; the situation was so tense that he was about to be killed by Bhīṣmadeva the very next moment. At that time Lord Kṛṣṇa wanted to please His devotee, Bhīṣma, by keeping Bhīṣma’s promise, which was more important than His own. Seemingly He broke His own promise. He promised before the beginning of the Battle of Kurukṣetra that He would remain without weapons and would not use His strength for either of the parties. But to protect Arjuna He got down from the chariot, took up the wheel of the chariot and hurriedly rushed at Bhīṣmadeva in an angry mood. Bhīṣmadeva at once gave up his weapons and stood to be killed by Kṛṣṇa, his beloved Lord and offered Him beautiful prayers.  At that time, Arjuna caught hold of the the Lord’s feet and pleaded Him to spare Bhishma. The Mahabharata states (06.102.63,66,67) as follows. 

jagāma cainam ādāya vegena puruottama
nivartasva mahābāho nānṛ
ta kartum arhasi
yat tvayā kathita
pūrva na yotsyāmīti keśava
mithyāvādīti lokas tvā
kathayiyati mādhava

“That Purushottama moved with great speed towards Bhishma, dragging Arjuna who said O Keshava with great arms, please stop. It does not befit You to falsify the words You spoke earlier “I will not fight”. O Madhav, people will say You are a liar. “

Then Arjuna said “I promise to You Kesava, I will slay Bhishma by my weapons” and only then Lord Krishna dropped the wheel. Here we see that Vyasa states the Lord as Purushottama. This is because the Lord was willing to break His promise for the sake of His two great devotees Arjuna and Bhishmacharya. He saved His dear devotee Arjuna from the wrath of Bhishma. Also Bhīṣmadeva wanted to see Lord Kṛṣṇa take up some weapon to save His friend. So the Lord created this situation and He stood before Bhīṣmadeva to show him that his promise was fulfilled and that He had taken up the wheel. Since He gave up His promise and got the name of liar for the sake of His two devotees, He is called Purushottama in the above sloka.

While lying on the bed of arrows, Bhishma lovingly recollected this pastime and was enthralled by remembering it as follows in Srimad Bhagavatam 1.9.37

sva-nigamam apahāya mat-pratijñām
ṛtam adhikartum avapluto rathastha

dhta-ratha-carao ’bhyayāc caladgur
harir iva hantum ibhaṁ

Fulfilling my vow and sacrificing His own promise, He got down from the chariot, took up its wheel, and ran towards me hurriedly, just as a lion goes to kill an elephant. He even dropped His outer garment on the way.

Also Bhishma offered glorious prayers called Bhishma stava raja (King of prayers) in Mahabharata while lying on the bed of arrows. Bhishma recollected all the pastimes of the Lord where the Lord exhibited His quality as Purushottama (He lowered Himself and became a messenger for Pandavas, He became chariot drive for Arjuna and He broke His promise for the sake of Arjuna and Bhishma) and hence before glorifying the Lord, He first seeks the blessings of  Purushottama as follows (Mahabharata 12.47.10).

ārirādhayiu kṛṣṇa vāca jigamiāmi yām
tayā vyāsasamāsinyā prīyatā

To worship Lord Krishna, whatever I speak to glorify Him elaborately and briefly, may that Purushottama accept those prayers and become pleased with me.

Krishna willing we shall see more incarnations in the ensuing offerings.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Narahari Krishna das

Moderator's Note:  Wishing you all a very blissful Sri Krishna Janmashtami. Our prayers at the lotus feet of Sri Guru, Srila Prabhupada and Sri Gauranga so that Lord Sri Purushottama keep us always engaged in His service.