Vrtrasuras Glorious Death by Srila Sukadeva Goswami
Sukadeva Goswami said: Due to his desire to give up his body, Vrtrasura considered death in the battle preferable to victory over his enemy. O King Pariksit, just as Kaitabha had forcefully attacked the Supreme Personality of Godhead when the universe was inundated, with great force Vrtrasura attacked Lord Indra, the King of heaven. Vrtrasura, the prominent hero of the demons, whirled his trident, which had points like the flames of the blazing fire at the end of the millennium.
Roaring and exclaiming loudly, “O sinful one, thus shall I kill you!”, he hurled that weapon at Indra with formidable power due to his blazing rage, As it flew in the sky, Vrtrasura’s trident resembled a brilliant meteor. Although the blazing weapon was difficult to even look upon, King Indra, was undaunted and , cut it to pieces with his thunderbolt. Simultaneously, he cut off one of Vrtrasura’s arms, which was as thick as the body of Vasuki, the King of the serpents. Although one of his arms was severed from his body, Vrtrasura angrily approached King Indra and struck him on the jaw with an iron mace. He also struck the elephant that carried Indra. As a result of this attack Indra dropped the thunderbolt from his hand.
The denizens of various planets, like the demigods, demons, Caranas and Siddhas, praised Vrtrasura’s deed, but when they observed that Indra was in great danger, they lamented, “Alas! Alas!” Having dropped the thunderbolt from his hand in the presence of his enemy, Indra was practically defeated and felt greatly ashamed. He did not dare recover his weapon. Vrtrasura, however, encouraged him, saying, “Take up your thunderbolt and kill your enemy. This is not the time to lament your fate.”
Vrtrasura continued: O Indra, no one but the original enjoyer, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan is guaranteed of being always victorious. He alone is the cause of creation, maintenance and annihilation, and He knows everything. Being dependent and being obliged to accept material bodies, His belligerent subordinates- we ordinary living entitiesare sometimes victorious and sometimes defeated. All living beings in all the planets of this universe, including the presiding deities of the planets themselves, are fully under the control of the Lord. They act like birds caught in a net, who cannot move independently. Our sensory prowess, mental power, bodily strength, living force, immortality and mortality are all subject to the superintendence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Not knowing this, foolish people think their dull material body to be the cause of their activities.
O King Indra, as a wooden doll that looks like a woman or as an animal made of grass and leaves cannot move or dance independently, but depend fully on the person who handles it, all of us dance according to the desire of the supreme controller, the Personality of Godhead. No one is independent. The three puruṣas Karanodaksayi-Visnu, Garbhodakasayi Visnu and Ksirodakasayi-Visnu the material nature, the total material energy, the false ego, the five material elements, the material senses, the mind, the intelligence and consciousness cannot create the material manifestation without the direction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. A foolish, senseless person cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although always dependent, he falsely thinks himself the Supreme. If one thinks, “According to one’s previous fruitive actions, one’s material body is created by the father and mother, and the same body is annihilated by another agent, as another animal is devoured by a tiger,” this is not a correct understanding. The Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself creates and devours the living beings through other living beings. Just as a person not inclined to die must nonetheless give up his longevity, opulence, fame and everything else at the time of death, so, at the appointed time of victory, one can gain all these when the Supreme Lord awards them by His mercy. Since everything is dependent on the supreme will of the Personality of Godhead, one should be equipoised in dualities like fame and infamy, victory and defeat, life and death. When experiencing the effects of these dualities represented as happiness and distress, one should maintain oneself in equilibrium, without anxiety.
One who knows that the three qualitative modes of goodness, passion and ignorance are not qualities of the soul but rather the qualities of material nature, and who knows that the pure soul is simply an observer of the actions and reactions of these qualities, should be understood to be a liberated person. He is not bound by these material qualities. O my enemy, just look at me. I have already been defeated, for my weapon and arm have been cut to pieces. You have already overwhelmed me, but nonetheless, with a desire to defeat and kill you, I am still trying my best to fight. I am not at all morose, even under such adverse conditions. Therefore you should give up your moroseness and continue fighting.
O my enemy, consider this battle a gambling match in which our lives are the stakes, the arrows are the dice, and the animals acting as carriers are the game board. No one can understand who will be defeated and who will be victorious. It all depends on all-powerful providence.
Sukadeva Goswami said: Hearing the straightforward, instructive words of Vrtrasura, King Indra praised him and again took up the thunderbolt. Without bewilderment or duplicity, he then smiled and spoke to Vrtrasura as follows.
Indra said: O great demon, I can understand by your discrimination and endurance in devotional service, in spite your being in a dangerous position, that you are certainly a perfect devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Supersoul and friend of everyone. You have surmounted the powerful illusory energy of Lord Visnu, and because of achieving this liberation, you have given up the demoniac mentality and have attained the position of an exalted devotee. O Vrtrasura, demons are generally conducted by the mode of passion. Therefore, it is simply wondrous that although you are a demon, you have adopted the pure mentality of a devotee and have fixed your mind on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva, who is always situated in pure goodness. A person firmly established in the devotional service of the Supreme Lord, Hari, the Lord of the highest auspiciousness, swims in an ocean of nectar. For him what is the use of the scant water found in small ditches?
Sri Sukadeva Goswami said: Vrtrasura and King Indra spoke about devotional service even on the battlefield, and then as a matter of duty they again began fighting. My dear King, both of them were great fighters and were equally powerful. O Maharaja Pariksit, Vrtrasura, who was competant to subdue his enemies, took his iron club, whirled it , aimed it at Indra and then hurled it at him with his left hand. With his thunderbolt named Shataparvan, Indra simultaneously cut to pieces Vrtrasura’s club and his remaining arm. Vrtrasura, now bleeding profusely, his two arms cut off at their roots, looked very beautiful, like a flying mountain whose wings have been cut to pieces by Indra. Being very powerful in physical strength and influence Vrtrasura then placed his lower part of jaw on the ground and his upper jaw in the air. His expanded mouth became very deep, like the sky itself, and his tongue appeared like a large serpent. With fearful, deadly teeth, he seemed to be trying to devour the entire universe. Thus assuming a gigantic body, the great demon Vrtrasura shook even the mountains and began crushing the surface of the earth under his feet, as if he were the Himalayas walking about.
He came before Indra and swallowed him and Airavata, his elephantine carrier, just as a monstrous python might swallow an elephant. When the demigods, along with Brahma, his prajāpatis and other great saintly persons, saw that Indra had been swallowed by the demon, they became morose. “Alas,” they lamented. “What a calamity! What a calamity!” The protective armor of Narayana which Indra now wore, was identical with, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana Himself. Protected by that armor and by his own mystic power, King Indra, although swallowed by Vrtrasura, did not perish within the demon’s belly. Using his thunderbolt, King Indra, who was also extremely powerful, pierced through Vrtrasura’s abdomen and emerged. Indra, the killer of the demon Bala, then immediately began to cut off Vrtrasura’s head, which was as high as the peak of a mountain. Although the thunderbolt revolved around Vrtrasura’s neck with great speed, separating his head from his body took one complete year (360 days), the time in which the sun, moon and other luminaries complete a northern and southern journey. Then, at the suitable time for Vrtrasura to die, his head fell to the ground. When Vrtrasura was killed, the Gandharvas and Siddhas in the heavenly planets played kettledrums in jubilation. They celebrated the prowess of Indra, the killer of Vrtrasura, with Vedic hymns praising him and showering flowers upon his head with great pleasure. O King Pariksit, subduer of enemies, the living spark then came forth from Vrtrasura’s body and returned home, back to Godhead. While all the demigods looked on, he gloriously entered the transcendental world to become an associate of Lord Sankarsana.
— Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavata Purāṇa) » Canto 6: Prescribed Duties for Mankind » SB 6.12: Vrtrasura’s Glorious Death » Verse: 1-35.