Once upon a time, in Dwapara Yuga, a brahmana's wife gave birth to a child. Unfortunately, however, just after being born and touching the ground, the child immediately died. The brahmana father took the dead child and went directly to Dwaraka to the palace of the King. The brahmana was very upset because of the untimely death of the child in the presence of his young father and mother. Thus his mind became very disturbed. Formerly, when there were responsible kings, up to the time of Dwapara-yuga, when Lord Krishna was present, the king was liable to be blamed for the untimely death of a child in the presence of his parents. Similarly, such responsibility was there during the time of Lord Ramachandra.
The king was so responsible for the comforts of the citizens that he was to see that there was not even excessive heat or cold. Although there was no fault on the part of the King, the brahmana whose child had died immediately went to the palace door and began to accuse the King as follows.
"The present King, Ugrasena, is envious of the brahmanas!" The exact word used in this connection is brahma-dvisah. One who is envious of the Vedas or one who is envious of a qualified brahmana or the brahmana caste is called brahma-dvit. So the King was accused of being brahma-dvit. He was also accused of being satha-dhi, falsely intelligent. The executive head of a state must be very intelligent to see to the comforts of the citizens, but, according to the brahmana the King was not at all intelligent, although he was occupying the royal throne. Therefore, he also called him lubdha, which means greedy. In other words, a king or an executive head of state should not occupy the exalted post of presidency or kingship if he is greedy and self-interested. But it is natural that an executive head becomes self-interested when he is attached to material enjoyment. Therefore, another word used here is visayatmanah.
The brahmana also accused the King of being kshatra-bandhu, which refers to a person born in the family of kshatriyas or the royal order who is without the qualifications of a royal personality. A king should protect brahminical culture and should be very alert to the welfare of his citizens; he should not be greedy due to attachment to material enjoyment. If a person with no qualifications represents himself as a kshatriya of the royal order, he is not called a kshatriya, but a ksatra-bandhu. Similarly, if a person is born of a brahmana father but has no brahminical qualification, he is called brahma-bandhu or [dvija-bandhu]. This means that a brahmana or a kshatriya is not accepted simply by birth. One has to qualify himself for the particular position; only then is he accepted as a brahmana or a kshatriya.
Thus the brahmana accused the King that his newly born baby was dead due to the disqualifications of the King. The brahmana took it most unnaturally, and therefore he held the King to be responsible.
The brahmana therefore said, "No one should offer respects or worship to a king whose only business is envy. Such a king spends his time either hunting and killing animals in the forest or killing citizens for criminal acts. He has no self-control and possesses bad character. If such a king is worshiped or honored by the citizens, the citizens will never be happy. They will always remain poor, full of anxieties and aggrievement, and always unhappy." Although in modern politics the post of monarch is abolished, the president is not held responsible for the comforts of the citizens. In this age of Kali, the executive head of a state somehow or other gets votes and is elected to an exalted post, but the condition of the citizens continues to be full of anxiety, distress, unhappiness, and dissatisfaction.
The brahmana's second child was also born dead, and the third also. He had nine children, and each of them was born dead, and each time he came to the gate of the palace to accuse the King. When the brahmana came to accuse the King of Dvaraka for the ninth time, Arjuna happened to be present with Krishna. On hearing that a brahmana was accusing the King of not properly protecting him, Arjuna became inquisitive and approached the brahmana. He said, "My dear brahmana, why do you say that there are no proper kshatriyas to protect the citizens of your country? Is there not even someone who can pretend to be a kshatriya, who can carry a bow and arrow at least to make a show of protection? Do you think that all the royal personalities in this country simply engage in performing sacrifices with the brahmanaskshatriyas should not sit back comfortably and engage only in performing Vedic rituals. Rather, they must be very chivalrous in protecting the citizens. Brahmanas, being engaged in spiritual activities, are not expected to do anything which requires physical endeavor. Therefore, they need to be protected by the kshatriyas so that they will not be disturbed in the execution of their higher occupational duties. but have no chivalrous power?" Thus Arjuna indicated that "If the brahmanas feel unwanted separation from their wives and children," Arjuna continued, "and the kshatriya kings do not take care of them, then such kshatriyas are to be considered no more than stage players. In dramatic performances in the theater, an actor may play the part of a king, but no one expects any benefits from such a make-believe king. Similarly, if the king or the executive head of a state cannot give protection to the head of the social structure, he is considered merely a bluffer. Such executive heads simply live for their own livelihood while occupying exalted posts as chiefs of state. My lord, I promise that I shall give protection to your children, and if I am unable to do so, then I shall enter into blazing fire so that the sinful contamination which has infected me will be counteracted."
Upon hearing Arjuna speak in this way, the brahmana replied, "My dear Arjuna, Lord Balarama is present, but He could not give protection to my children. Lord Krishna is also present, but He also could not give them protection. There are also many other heroes, such as Pradyumna and Aniruddha, carrying bows and arrows, but they could not protect my children." The brahmana directly hinted that Arjuna could not do that which was impossible for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He felt that Arjuna was promising something beyond his power. The brahmana said, "I consider your promise to be like that of an inexperienced child. I cannot put my faith in your promise." The brahmana's wife delivered a male child, and as usual the child began to cry. But suddenly, within a few minutes, both the child and Arjuna's arrows disappeared in the sky. It appeared that the brahmana's house was near Krishna's residence and that Lord Krishna was enjoying everything that was taking place apparently in defiance of His authority. It was He who played the trick of taking away the brahmana's baby as well as the arrows, including the one given by Lord Siva, of which Arjuna was so proud. Tad bhavaty alpa-medhasam: less intelligent men take shelter of the demigods due to bewilderment and are satisfied with the benefits they award.
In the presence of Lord Krishna and others, the brahmana began to accuse Arjuna: "Everyone see my foolishness! I put my faith in the words of Arjuna, who is impotent and who is expert only in false promises. How foolish I was to believe Arjuna. He promised to protect my child when even Pradyumna, Aniruddha, Lord Balarama and Lord Krishna failed. If such great personalities could not protect my child, then who can do so? I therefore condemn Arjuna for his false promise, and I also condemn his celebrated bow Gandiva and his impudency in declaring himself greater than Lord Balarama, Lord Krishna, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. No one can save my child, for he has already been transferred to another planet. Due to sheer foolishness only, Arjuna thought that he could bring back my child from another planet."
Thus condemned by the brahmana, Arjuna empowered himself with a mystic yoga perfection so that he could travel to any planet to find the brahmana's baby. It seems that Arjuna had mastered the mystic yogic power by which yogis can travel to any planet they desire. He first of all went to the planet known as Yamaloka, where the superintendent of death, Yamaraja, lives. There he searched for the brahmana's baby. By the grace of Lord Krishna, Arjuna had that power, and he went above the heavenly planets to Brahmaloka. When he was unable to find the baby even after searching all possible planets, he then attempted to throw himself into a fire, as he had promised the brahmana if unable to bring back his baby. Lord Krishna, however, was very kind toward Arjuna because Arjuna happened to be the most intimate friend of the Lord. Lord Krishna persuaded Arjuna not to enter the fire in disgrace. Krishna indicated that since Arjuna was His friend, if he were to enter the fire in hopelessness, indirectly it would be a blemish on Him. Lord Krishna therefore checked Arjuna, assuring him that He would find the baby. He told Arjuna, "Do not foolishly commit suicide." He then immediately went to the planet where the King of heaven, Indra, lives. When he was unable to find the baby there, he went to the planets of the fire demigods, Nairrti, and then to the moon planet. Then he went to Vayu and to Varunaloka. When he was unable to find the baby in those planets, he went down to the Rasatala planet, the lowest of the planetary systems. After traveling to all these different planets, he finally went to Brahmaloka, where even the mystic After addressing Arjuna in this way, Lord Krishna called for His transcendental chariot. He mounted it along with Arjuna and began to proceed north. Lord Krishna, the all-powerful Personality of Godhead, could have brought the child back without effort, but we should always remember that He was playing the part of a human being. As a human being has to endeavor to achieve certain results, so Lord Krishna, like an ordinary human being, or like His friend Arjuna, left Dvaraka to bring back the brahmana's baby. By appearing in human society and exhibiting His pastimes as a human being, Krishna definitely showed that there was not a single personality greater than He. "God is great." That is the definition of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So at least within this material world, while He was present, Krishna proved that there was no greater personality within the universe.
Seated on His chariot with Arjuna, Krishna began to proceed north, crossing over many planetary systems. These are described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam as sapta-dvipa. Dvipa means island. All these planets, are sometimes described in the Vedic literature as dvipas. The planet on which we are living is called Jambudvipa. Outer space is taken as a great ocean of air, and within that great ocean of air there are many islands, which are the different planets. In each and every planet there are oceans also. In some of the planets, the oceans are of salt water, and in some of them there are oceans of milk. In others there are oceans of liquor, and in others there are oceans of ghee or oil. There are different kinds of mountains also. Each and every planet has a different type of atmosphere.
Krishna passed over all these planets and reached the covering of the universe. This covering is described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam as great darkness. This material world as a whole is described as dark. In the open space there is sunlight, and therefore it is illuminated, but in the covering, because of the absence of sunlight, it is naturally dark. When Krishna approached the covering layer of this universe, the four horses which were drawing His chariot—Saibya, Sugriva, Meghapuspa and Balahaka—all appeared to hesitate to enter the darkness. This hesitation is also a part of the pastimes of Lord Krishna because the horses of Krishna are not ordinary. It is not possible for ordinary horses to go all over the universe and then enter into its outer covering layers. As Krishna is transcendental, similarly His chariot and His horses and everything about Him are also transcendental, beyond the qualities of this material world. We should always remember that Krishna was playing the part of an ordinary human being, and His horses also, by the will of Krishna, played the parts of ordinary horses in hesitating to enter the darkness. Krishna is known as Yogesvara, as is stated in the last portion of Bhagavad-gita. Yogesvaro harih: all mystic powers are under His control. In our experience, we can see many human beings who have yogic mystic power. Sometimes they perform very wonderful acts, but Krishna is understood to be the master of all mystic power. Therefore, when He saw that His horses were hesitant to proceed into the darkness, He immediately released His disc, known as the Sudarsana cakra, which illuminated the sky a thousand times brighter than sunlight. The darkness of the covering of the universe is also a creation of Krishna's, and the Sudarsana cakra is Krishna's constant companion. Thus the darkness was penetrated by His keeping the Sudarsana cakra in front. The Srimad-Bhagavatam states that the Sudarsana cakraSu means very nice, and darsana means observation; by the grace of Lord Krishna's disc, Sudarsana, everything can be seen very nicely, and nothing can remain in darkness. Thus Lord Krishna and Arjuna crossed over the great region of darkness covering the material universes. penetrated the darkness just as an arrow released from the Sarnga bow of Lord Ramachandra penetrated the army of Ravana. Arjuna then saw the effulgence of light known as the brahmajyoti. The brahmajyoti is situated outside the covering of the material universes, and because it cannot be seen with our present eyes, this brahmajyoti is sometimes called avyakta. This spiritual effulgence is the ultimate destination of the impersonalists known as Vedantists. The brahmajyoti is also described as anantaparam, unlimited and unfathomed. When Lord Krishna and Arjuna reached this region of the brahmajyoti, Arjuna could not tolerate the glaring effulgence, and he closed his eyes. Lord Krishna's and Arjuna's reaching the brahmajyoti region is described in Harivamsa. In that portion of the Vedic literature, Krishna informed Arjuna, "My dear Arjuna, the glaring effulgence, the transcendental light which you are seeing, is My bodily rays. O chief of the descendants of Bharata, this brahmajyoti is Myself." As the sun disc and the sunshine cannot be separated, similarly Krishna and His bodily rays, the brahmajyoti, cannot be separated. Thus Krishna claimed that the brahmajyoti is He Himself. This is clearly stated in the Harivamsa, when Krishna says, "aham sah." The brahmajyoti is a combination of the minute particles known as spiritual sparks, or the living entities known as chitkana. The Vedic word so'ham, or "I am the brahmajyoti," can also be applied to the living entities, who can also claim to belong to the brahmajyoti. In the Harivamsa, Krishna further explains, "This brahmajyoti is an expansion of My spiritual energy."