“It does not take even a moment for the Lord to kill any powerful demon, including Hiranyaksha. The Lord could have killed him long before, but He allowed the demon to display the full extent of his magical feats. One may know that by magical feats, by scientific advancement of knowledge or by material power one cannot become the equal of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. His one signal is sufficient to destroy all our attempts.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.19.26 Purport)Download this episode (right click and save)
“This is it. We better get the job done tonight. We don’t want to go to a deciding game tomorrow. We are up in the series today. Though we are down going into the bottom of the ninth inning, we have to make a rally. Otherwise we will have to face their top pitcher again tomorrow. In this best of seven games series, thus far we have lost only twice. Through five games, we have won three, so we are on the verge of clinching.
“The only two games we have lost were against the same starting pitcher. He will likely win the award for best pitcher of the year after the playoffs are over. We couldn’t figure out where his pitches were going. We thought that perhaps he was cheating. We asked the umpire to check the baseballs that he was throwing. For sure he was scuffing the ball, which gives the pitches more movement, and in his case allowed his pitches to sink even further. A batter in baseball has to make a read very quickly. In a split second they have to determine what kind of pitch is thrown by looking at the stitches on the baseball. Then they have to guess where the ball will end up. After processing all this in a matter of a moment, they must then decide whether or not they want to swing.
“This one pitcher keeps fooling us. We think he is throwing one kind of pitch, but then it is actually something else. We think the ball will end up in the strike zone, but then at the last second it dips. Therefore he strikes us out constantly. This gets to us mentally. If we feel intimidated, how will we succeed? Thankfully, in baseball the starting pitcher cannot go out every single day. The toll on the arm is too much; a starting pitcher requires rest of typically four days. In the playoffs the ace might toughen up a bit and use only three days’ rest, thereby pitching potentially three games in a seven game series. This is what faces us today if we don’t succeed in game six. We HAVE to win today.”
Indeed, this is the nature of competition, extending beyond sports as well. When we apply for a job, we don’t poll the community to see if there are other worthy candidates. There may be many others who are more fit for the position, but if they don’t seize the opportunity to apply, our chances for getting hired increase.
In some cases there is only a vacancy because the previous employee left the scene. Perhaps they got into an argument with the boss. Perhaps they were offered more money elsewhere. Whatever the case, their loss becomes our gain.
We don’t necessarily wait until all others have given it their best shot. The other side doesn’t play with this attitude, so why should we? At the same time, this does show a defect. It reveals a flaw in every individual. Man has four defects, with one of them being the tendency to cheat. Cheating is required because man is imperfect; he cannot always get what he wants. He cannot always “win.” Therefore he has to look for an edge from time to time.
This is not the case with the Supreme Lord. One way to understand Him is to know that He is the only being who has no tendency to cheat [though if He does decide to cheat for fun, He is the best at it]. He does not have imperfect senses. He is never illusioned and He never makes mistakes. This makes Him different from every other living entity and also superior to them. As the Supreme Lord is the smartest, He can find the most opportune moment for victory without expending much effort. If He wants to defeat us in something, He can just wait until our guard is down and then pounce. And yet that is not how He behaves. He allows us to display our full range of ability, to engage our complete arsenal. Only then does He give us our defeat, illustrating our inferior nature.
The typical lifecycle of the human being is itself an example of this fact. We try our best to prolong life. We try to eat the right foods and in the right amounts. “Today I will give up carbs. Tomorrow I’ll do the low-fat diet. Next week will be the feast or famine diet. Then tomorrow I must exercise as well. I need to cut down on sweets; they’re making my pants fit too tight.” These are innocent attempts at finding a healthy condition, but they are subtle challenges to the laws of nature. Man ventures into outer space looking for eternal life filled with happiness. He makes scientific advancements in order to do the same. He puts the best brains in society in charge of researching the gross body. The covering of the soul always changes, but with enough treatment the hope is to preserve that covering for as long as possible.
But despite the best effort made, there is always defeat. In Sanskrit the victorious force is known as kalah. This translates to both time and death. Time is what destroys. Though today we may be perfectly healthy, as time passes the body will start to deteriorate. Simply taking a walk will cause soreness in the hip and joints. Eating past a certain hour of the night will lead to bad dreams and hours of tossing and turning. Eventually the body is discarded, like the shedding of clothes. This is all due to kalah, which has yet to lose.
“As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.22)
By allowing us to use everything in our power to try to win over time, the Supreme Lord remains above suspicion. During infancy we are helpless. Someone else could easily destroy us. If our parents don’t protect us, we may not live for very long. Indeed, even with all the protection in the world, there is the chance that we might not make it into adulthood; such are the ways of karma. Still, in the challenge to God, the living entities get independence. They are given the chance to try to win against God. If this weren’t the case, there would be no such thing as scientific advancement. There would be no such thing as medicine.
Without having to interfere, the Supreme Lord still emerges victorious. When all the weapons are used against Him and He still wins easily, His superior status is solidified. One time He fought against a very powerful demon named Hiranyaksha. The Lord at the time was in His transcendental form of a boar. Varahadeva held up the earth after it had been immersed in water. While holding up the earth He was harassed by the demon Hiranyaksha. The demon thought that he was more powerful than God.
Illustrating the cheating tendency in man, Hiranyaksha verbally attacked while Varahadeva was occupied in a higher task. The demon tried to earn a cheap victory. Varahadeva then allowed Hiranyaksha to use every weapon in his arsenal. Every ability and strength the demon was proud of was on the table. There was nothing Varahadeva was afraid of. After absorbing every possible attack from the demon, Varahadeva finally killed him.
As the original proprietor of this and every other land, the Supreme Lord has every right to choose other moments to attack. As Shri Ramachandra He once shot a powerful fighter in the back while he was engaged in a conflict with someone else. Vali was upset at this attack from the Lord, but Ramachandra did it for the benefit of His devotee and friend Sugriva. Still, in most cases the challengers are allowed to exhibit their abilities they are most proud of. In their subsequent defeat, the world learns how futile the challenge to the laws of nature is. The surrendered soul has the protection of that same undefeated fighter, who has no need to wait for any moment to achieve victory. Therefore the surrendered soul is always in a better position than the doubting and challenging soul.
“So much strength you have got,
Chance for your defeat there is not.
With everything you have come,
I’ll let you fight until you’ve won.”
Supreme Lord to asura this chance gave,
Hiranyaksha no weapons to save.
Despite all effort, Varahadeva to stand tall,
Always victorious, God superior to all.