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krtva daitya-vadham krsnah
sa-ramo yadubhir vrtah
bhuvo ’vatarayad bharam
javistham janayan kalim
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said: Lord Sri Krsna, accompanied by Balarama and surrounded by the Yadu dynasty, executed the killing of many demons. Then, further to remove the burden of the earth, the Lord arranged for the great Battle of Kuruksetra, which suddenly erupted in violence between the Kurus and the Pandavas.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
The Eleventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam begins with a reference to the pastimes executed by Lord Sri Krsna in the Tenth Canto. The beginning of the Tenth Canto describes that when the earth was overburdened by demoniac rulers, the personified earth, Bhumi, approached Lord Brahma with tears in her eyes, begging for relief, and Brahma immediately went with the demigods to approach the Supreme Lord in His form of Ksirodakasayi Visnu. As the demigods waited respectfully on the shore of the Milk Ocean, the Supreme Lord announced through Brahma that He would soon incarnate on earth and that the demigods should also descend to assist in His pastimes. Thus from the very beginning of Lord Krsna’s appearance it was understood that He would descend to the earth to remove the demons.
As Srila Prabhupada states in his commentary to Bhagavad-gita (16.6), those who agree to obey the injunctions of revealed scriptures are known as demigods, whereas those who defy the orders of Vedic scriptures are known as asuras, or demons. The Vedic literatures are presented within the universe for the guidance of the conditioned souls, who are trapped under the three modes of material nature and who are therefore rotating in a continuous cycle of birth and death. By strictly adhering to the Vedic injunctions, we can easily satisfy our material needs and at the same time make tangible progress on the path back home, back to Godhead. Thus we can achieve an eternal life of bliss and knowledge in the Lord’s own abode simply by obeying the Lord’s instructions as they are presented in Vedic literatures such as Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. The demons, however, minimize or even mock the absolute authority of the Supreme Lord and His teachings. Because these asuras envy the sovereign status of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they minimize the importance of the Vedic scriptures, which emanate directly from the breathing of the Lord. The demons establish a society governed by their own concocted whims and inevitably create chaos and misery, especially for pious living entities who sincerely desire to follow the will of God.
Lord Sri Krsna states in Bhagavad-gita that when there is a predominance of such chaotic, irreligious societies on the earth, He personally descends to rectify the imbalance. Thus from the very beginning of His transcendental infancy, Krsna systematically killed the powerful asuras, or demons, who were an intolerable burden for the earth. Lord Sri Krsna was assisted by His brother, Balarama, who is also the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although God is one, He can expand Himself to enjoy in many forms at once. That is His omnipotence. And the first such expansion is Balarama, or Baladeva. Balarama killed many noteworthy demons, including Dhenukasura, Dvivida and the envious Rukmi. Krsna was also accompanied by the members of the Yadu dynasty, many of whom were demigods who had descended to assist the Lord.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, however, has revealed that although many demigods had taken birth in the Yadu dynasty to assist the Lord, some members of the Yadu dynasty were actually inimical toward Krsna. Because of their mundane vision of the Lord, they considered themselves to be on the same level as Krsna. Having taken birth in the family of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, they had inconceivable strength, and thus they misunderstood Krsna’s supreme position. Having forgotten that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they would constitute a great burden, and consequently it was necessary for Krsna to remove them from the earth. There is a popular saying that familiarity breeds contempt. To destroy the contemptuous members of His own dynasty, the Lord caused a quarrel among them. For this purpose, He arranged for Narada and other sages to display anger against the Karsnas, the members of His family. Although many Yadus who were devoted to Krsna were apparently killed in this fratricidal war, Lord Krsna actually returned them to their original positions as universal directors, or demigods. It is the Lord’s promise in Bhagavad-gita that He will always protect those who are favorable to His service.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, in his commentary on this verse, has given a summary of the entire Eleventh Canto as follows. Chapter One describes the beginning of the mausala-lila, or the prelude to the destruction of the Yadu dynasty. Chapters Two through Five describe the conversations between the nine Yogendras and King Nimi. Chapter Six describes the prayers of Brahma, Siva and other residents of heaven. Chapters Seven through Twenty-nine present the conversation between Krsna and Uddhava that is known as the Uddhava-gita. Chapter Thirty describes the withdrawal of the Yadu dynasty from the earth. The final chapter describes the disappearance of Lord Krsna.