Breaking of Sacrificial Bow

Srimad Bhagavatam 10.42.15-38 - Breaking of Sacrificial Bow (download mp3) , (download flv) and (download mp4)
by Gaur Krishna Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty

SB 10.42.15
tatah pauran prcchamano
 dhanusah sthanam acyutah
tasmin pravisto dadrse
 dhanur aindram ivadbhutam

Lord Krsna then asked the local people where the arena was in which the bow sacrifice would take place. When He went there He saw the amazing bow, which resembled Lord Indra’s.

SB 10.42.16
purusair bahubhir guptam
 arcitam paramarddhimat
varyamano nrbhih krsnah
 prasahya dhanur adade

That most opulent bow was guarded by a large company of men, who were respectfully worshiping it. Krsna pushed His way forward and, despite the guards’ attempts to stop Him, picked it up.

SB 10.42.17
karena vamena sa-lilam uddhrtam
 sajyam ca krtva nimisena pasyatam
nrnam vikrsya prababhañja madhyato
 yatheksu-dandam mada-kary urukramah

Easily lifting the bow with His left hand, Lord Urukrama strung it in a fraction of a second as the King’s guards looked on. He then powerfully pulled the string and snapped the bow in half, just as an excited elephant might break a stalk of sugar cane.

SB 10.42.18
dhanuso bhajyamanasya
 sabdah kham rodasi disah
purayam asa yam srutva
 kamsas trasam upagamat

The sound of the bow’s breaking filled the earth and sky in all directions. Upon hearing it, Kamsa was struck with terror.

SB 10.42.19
tad-raksinah sanucaram
 kupita atatayinah
grhitu-kama avavrur
 grhyatam vadhyatam iti

The enraged guards then took up their weapons and, wanting to seize Krsna and His companions, surrounded them and shouted, “Grab Him! Kill Him!”

SB 10.42.20
atha tan durabhiprayan
 vilokya bala-kesavau
kruddhau dhanvana adaya
 sakale tams ca jaghnatuh

Seeing the guards coming upon Them with evil intent, Balarama and Kesava took up the two halves of the bow and began striking them down.

SB 10.42.21
balam ca kamsa-prahitam
 hatva sala-mukhat tatah
niskramya ceratur hrstau
 niriksya pura-sampadah

After also killing a contingent of soldiers sent by Kamsa, Krsna and Balarama left the sacrificial arena by its main gate and continued Their walk about the city, happily looking at the opulent sights.

SB 10.42.22
tayos tad adbhutam viryam
 nisamya pura-vasinah
tejah pragalbhyam rupam ca
 menire vibudhottamau

Having witnessed the amazing deed Krsna and Balarama had performed, and seeing Their strength, boldness and beauty, the people of the city thought They must be two prominent demigods.

SB 10.42.23
tayor vicaratoh svairam
 adityo ’stam upeyivan
krsna-ramau vrtau gopaih
 purac chakatam iyatuh

As They strolled about at will, the sun began to set, so They left the city with the cowherd boys and returned to the cowherds’ wagon encampment.

SB 10.42.24
gopyo mukunda-vigame virahatura ya
 asasatasisa rta madhu-pury abhuvan
sampasyatam purusa-bhusana-gatra-laksmim
 hitvetaran nu bhajatas cakame ’yanam srih

At the time of Mukunda’s [Krsna’s] departure from Vrndavana, the gopis had foretold that the residents of Mathura would enjoy many benedictions, and now the gopis’ predictions were coming true, for those residents were gazing upon the beauty of Krsna, the jewel among men. Indeed, the goddess of fortune desired the shelter of that beauty so much that she abandoned many other men, although they worshiped her.

SB 10.42.25
 bhuktva ksiropasecanam
usatus tam sukham ratrim
 jñatva kamsa-cikirsitam

After Krsna’s and Balarama’s feet were bathed, the two Lords ate rice with milk. Then, although knowing what Kamsa intended to do, They spent the night there comfortably.

SB 10.42.26-27
kamsas tu dhanuso bhangam
 raksinam sva-balasya ca
vadham nisamya govinda-
 rama-vikriditam param
dirgha-prajagaro bhito
 durnimittani durmatih
bahuny acastobhayatha
 mrtyor dautya-karani ca

Wicked King Kamsa, on the other hand, was terrified, having heard how Krsna and Balarama had broken the bow and killed his guards and soldiers, all simply as a game. He remained awake for a long time, and both while awake and while dreaming he saw many bad omens, messengers of death.

SB 10.42.28-31
adarsanam sva-sirasah
 pratirupe ca saty api
asaty api dvitiye ca
 dvai-rupyam jyotisam tatha
chidra-pratitis chayayam
svarna-pratitir vrksesu
 sva-padanam adarsanam
svapne preta-parisvangah
 khara-yanam visadanam
yayan nalada-maly ekas
 tailabhyakto dig-ambarah
anyani cettham-bhutani
 svapna-jagaritani ca
pasyan marana-santrasto
 nidram lebhe na cintaya

When he looked at his reflection he could not see his head; for no reason the moon and stars appeared double; he saw a hole in his shadow; he could not hear the sound of his life air; trees seemed covered with a golden hue; and he could not see his footprints. He dreamt that he was being embraced by ghosts, riding a donkey and drinking poison, and also that a naked man smeared with oil was passing by wearing a garland of nalada flowers. Seeing these and other such omens both while dreaming and while awake, Kamsa was terrified by the prospect of death, and out of anxiety he could not sleep.

SB 10.42.32
vyustayam nisi kauravya
 surye cadbhyah samutthite
karayam asa vai kamso

When the night had finally passed and the sun rose up again from the water, Kamsa set about arranging for the grand wrestling festival.

SB 10.42.33
anarcuh purusa rangam
 turya-bheryas ca jaghnire
mañcas calankrtah sragbhih

The King’s men performed the ritual worship of the wrestling arena, sounded their drums and other instruments and decorated the viewing galleries with garlands, flags, ribbons and arches.

SB 10.42.34
tesu paura janapada
yathopajosam vivisu
 rajanas ca krtasanah

The city-dwellers and residents of the outlying districts, led by brahmanas and ksatriyas, came and sat down comfortably in the galleries. The royal guests received special seats.

SB 10.42.35
kamsah parivrto ’matyai
 raja-mañca upavisat
 hrdayena viduyata

Surrounded by his ministers, Kamsa took his seat on the imperial dais. But even as he sat amidst his various provincial rulers, his heart trembled.

SB 10.42.36
vadyamanesu turyesu
 malla-talottaresu ca
mallah sv-alankrtah drptah
 sopadhyayah samasata

While the musical instruments loudly played in the rhythmic meters appropriate for wrestling matches, the lavishly ornamented wrestlers proudly entered the arena with their coaches and sat down.

SB 10.42.37
canuro mustikah kutah
 salas tosala eva ca
ta asedur upasthanam

Enthused by the pleasing music, Canura, Mustika, Kuta, Sala and Tosala sat down on the wrestling mat.

SB 10.42.38
nanda-gopadayo gopa
niveditopayanas ta
 ekasmin mañca avisan
Nanda Maharaja and the other cowherds, summoned by the King of the Bhojas, presented him with their offerings and then took their seats in one of the galleries.


According to Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti, the word samahutah indicates that King Kamsa respectfully called the leaders of Vraja forward so that they could make their offerings to the central government. According to the acarya, Kamsa assured Nanda as follows: “My dear King of Vraja, you are the most important of my village rulers. Yet even though you have come to Mathura from your cowherd village, you have not come to visit me. Is that because you are frightened? Don’t think that your two sons are bad because They broke the bow. I invited Them here because I heard They were extremely powerful, and I’ve arranged this wrestling match as a test of Their strength. So please come forward without hesitation. Don’t be afraid.”

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti further states that Nanda Maharaja noticed his two sons were not present. Apparently, out of disrespect for King Kamsa’s order, They had taken the morning off and gone elsewhere.

Thus Kamsa delegated some cowherd men to go look for Them and advise Them to behave properly and come back to the wrestling arena. The acarya also states that the reason Nanda and the other cowherd men sat in the galleries was that they could not find any sitting places on the royal dais.

Thus end the purports of the humble servants of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to the Tenth Canto, Forty-second Chapter, of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, entitled “The Breaking of the Sacrificial Bow.”