Vraja Bihari Das

Demon and devotee redefined

One of the ancient, classic stories in the Vedic scriptures is that of Vritrasura- the demon who rose from a sacrificial fire and created havoc in the army of the demi-gods. The legendary fight between Indra, the king of demi-gods, and Vritrasura has been mentioned even in the Rig Veda- the oldest of the Vedas. Still, in the Srimad Bhagavatam, we approach the pastime differently. Although it’s Indra who’s the hero and Vritrasura the villain in every other Vedic literature, here it’s the other way round- Vritrasura appears as a hero whose pure intent and love for the Lord shines forth, just moments before his death.

Traditionally the party of demons was anti-God whereas the demi-gods are favorably disposed towards the Supreme Lord. However, some individuals within the party of demons could be pure devotees like in the instance of Vritrasura, little Prahalad, or King Bali. The ancient origin of the two-party system – demons and demi-gods- in the cosmic affairs carries feuds over many generations. Sometimes a person may sympathize with the demons’ causes and hold the demi-gods as unjust in their dealings. Even the higher planets aren’t spared of complicated political rivalry or relationship issues. As a result of intricate twists and turns in a person’s fortune, one individual may officially fight for the cause of the demons whereas, on a personal note, like in the case of Vritrasura or Bali Maharaj, he could be a pure devotee of Lord Krishna.

Life in the material world is fraught with misunderstandings and conflicts at every step and to condemn a person as a demon based on our apparent, distorted vision could be a severe error of judgment. The examples of Bhisma and Vritrasura graphically drive home this point. Vritrasura was on the verge of being killed by his enemy Indra who had acquired a weapon by the grace of Supreme Lord. What’s astonishing about this pastime is it’s the demon Vritrasura who is a pure devotee of Krishna, and not the one favored by the Lord. What could be a greater irony than this? Srimad Bhagavatam thus challenges us to look at situations from another perspective- from Krishna’s vision.

To be continued….


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