nasy ota-gava iva yasya vase bhavanti
brahmadayas tanu-bhrto mithur ardyamanah
kalasya te prakrti-purusayoh parasya
sam nas tanotu caranah purusottamasya
You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the transcendental entity who is superior to both material nature and the enjoyer of nature. May Your lotus feet bestow transcendental pleasure upon us. All of the great demigods, beginning with Brahma, are embodied living entities. Struggling painfully with one another under the strict control of Your time factor, they are just like bulls dragged by ropes tied through their pierced noses.
Srila Sridhara Svami states: nanu yuddhe devasuradayah parasparam jayanti jiyante ca kim aham tatrety ata ahuh, nasiti: mithur mitho ’rdyamana yuddhadibhih pidyamana brahmadayo ’pi yasya tava vase bhavanti na tu jaye parajaye va svatantrah. “In the perpetual battles between the demigods, or devotees of the Lord, and the demons, or nondevotees, each side sometimes conquers and is sometimes apparently defeated. One may argue that all this has nothing to do with the Personality of Godhead since it is based on nothing more than the interaction of opposing living entities. But every living entity is, however, strictly under the control of the Personality of Godhead, and victory and defeat are always in the hands of the Lord.” This does not contradict the fact of the living entity’s free will, since the Lord awards victory and defeat according to the merit of the living entities. In a legal battle neither the prosecution nor the defense can act independently of the legal system presided over by the authorized judge. Victory and defeat in the court are awarded by the judge, but the judge is acting according to the laws, which do not favor or discriminate against either side.
Similarly, the Personality of Godhead is awarding us the results of our previous activities. In order to discredit God, materialists frequently give the argument that oftentimes innocent people suffer whereas impious rogues enjoy life unimpeded. The fact is, however, that the Personality of Godhead is not a fool, as are the materialistic persons who place such arguments. The Lord can see our many previous lives; therefore He may allow one to enjoy or suffer in this life not only as a result of one’s present activities, but also as a result of one’s previous activities. For example, by working very hard a man may accumulate a fortune. If such a newly rich man then gives up his work and takes to a degenerate life, his fortune does not immediately disappear. On the other hand, one who is destined to become rich may now be working very hard, with discipline and austerity, and yet be without spending money. So a superficial observer might well be confused upon seeing the moral, hard-working man without funds and the degenerate, lazy man in possession of riches. Similarly, a materialistic fool without knowledge of past, present and future is unable to understand the perfect justice of the Personality of Godhead.
The example given in this verse to explain Krsna’s controlling power is appropriate. Although a bull is extremely powerful, he is easily controlled by a slight tug on a rope strung through his pierced nose. Similarly, even the most powerful politicians, scholars, demigods, etc., may immediately be put into an unbearable situation by the omnipotent Personality of Godhead. Therefore the demigods have not come to Dvaraka to proudly display their universal political and intellectual powers but to humbly surrender at the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead.