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In the Udyoga Parva of the Mahabharata, Krishna goes to Duryodhana on behalf of the Pandavas in order to try to negotiate peace and avert the Kurukshetra war. When he hears that Krishna is coming, Duryodhana hatches a plan to kidnap and imprison Krishna. But Vidura advises against it, because of how powerful Krishna is. He recounts Krishna's great deeds which demonstrate his might:

Seekest thou to seize that Kesava by force? While only a child, he slew Putana and two Asuras assuming the shape of birds, and O bull of Bharata's race, he held up the mountains of Govardhana (on his little finger) for protecting the kine (from a continuous rain). He hath also slain Aristha, and Dhenuka and Chanura of great strength, and Aswaraja, and Kansa, the doer of evil. He hath slain Jarasandha, and Vakra, and Sisupala of mighty energy, and Vana in battle, and numerous other kings also have been slain by him. Of immeasurable might, he vanquished king Varuna and also Pavaka (Agni), and on the occasion of bringing (down from the celestial regions) the (heavenly flower called) Parijata, he defeated the lord of Sachi himself.

My question is, when did Krishna fight Varuna (the ocean god) and Agni (the fire god)? As I discuss in this answer, there was an occasion in which Krishna and Arjuna helped Agni in fighting Indra and the gods, and on that occasion Varuna was also on their side, giving Arjuna the Gandiva bow and Krishna the Sudarshana Chakra.

But do Hindu scriptures describe any occasions where Krishna fought against Varuna and Agni?

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Krishna fighting with Agni and Varuna is described in Vishnu Parva of Harivamsa. These events happened at the time of Aniruddha marriage.

Fighting with Agni happened just when entering in the Shonitpur, the city of Banasur. It is described in Harivamsa, Vishnu Parva, Chapter - 122 as follows:

Then (bala)rAma spoke these words to kR^iShNa who is incomparable in battle:

(balarAma said:) O kR^iShNa! We have lost our splendor. How did this happen which never occurred before?

All of us are covered by a golden colour. There is no doubt. Tell us the reason why this is so? Are we going by the side of the meru mountain?

The auspicious lord (kR^iShNa) said: O the oppressor of foes (balarAma)! Understand that the city of bANa is certainly near. The fire has come out (of the city) blazing for protecting the city.

We are opposed all over by the splendor of the fire AhavanIya. O the one who has the plough as weapon (balarAma)! That is why the change of colour has occurred to us.

The auspicious (bala)rAma said:

If we are near the city and if we have lost our splendor, then think with your intellect and do the next according to your wish.

The auspicious lord (kR^iShNa) said:

O the son of vinatA (garuDa)! Do what is to be done here next. After you do what is to be done according to you, I shall do the best what is to be done.

vaishampAyana said:

(O janamejaya!) Hearing what was told by the son of vasudeva (kR^iShNa), the powerful garuDa who can take up any form as he desires, created thousands of faces.

Afterwards, the highly powerful son of vinatA (garuDa) went to the river ga~NgA. Jumping into the divine river AkAshaga~Nga, he drank lots of water.

The splendorous son of vinata (garuDa) showered water standing above. The son of vinata (garuDa), the one having intellect, extinguished the fire with water.

The fire AhavanIya was thus pacified.

After Ahavaniya defeated some other fires also fought. This is described as:

As the fire was subdued, the king of birds, garuDa proceeded further, making terrible and loud sounds by waving his wings powerfully.

Seeing them there, the followers of rudra (shiva), the fires wondered: Who are these men having different terrible forms, mounted on garuDa?

What purpose did they come here? Who are these three? Those fires of the mountain could not reach any decision.

Then the fires fought the battle with the three yAdava-s. While they were engaged in the battle, loud sounds were heard.

Hearing those loud sounds, similar to the roaring of lions, a~Ngiras, the one with intellect, sent his man (to find out).

(a~Ngiras said:) Go to the place where the battle is going on. Do not delay. See everything (the battle) and come back. Saying this, the man was sent quickly.

Saying let it be, the person went to see the battle between the son of vasudeva (kR^iShNa) and the fires in the great battle field.

All those fires, kalmASha, kusuma, dahana, shoShNa as also the highly powerful tapana,

those five fires are famous in the consecration by uttering svahA (while offering oblation to fire ).

There are other highly splendorous fires along with their armies, named piThara, pataga, svarNa, shvA, gAdha as well as bhrAja.

These five fires based on svadhA were also fighting there.

Two fires, great souls with the great splendor of jyotiShToma division and based on vaShaTkAra also fought there, mounted on the chariot of fire and holding sparkling arrows.

Among them the great sage a~Ngiras dazzled in the battle.

Seeing sage a~Ngiras releasing sharp arrows in the battle, kR^iShNa became angry. Smiling again and again, he said:

All of you fires! Halt! I shall create fear for you. Burning in the splendor of my arrows, you will run far away in all directions.

Then sage a~Ngiras came running with a sparkling trident, becoming angry to take away the life of kR^iShNa in the great battle.

kR^iShNa cut the sparkling trident with his crescent shaped sharp arrows similar to those of the god of death.

Then the great soul kR^iShNa split the chest of sage a~Ngiras with sparkling arrows named sthUNakarNa, equal to those of the god of death.

a~Ngiras was distressed with blood flowing from his body. He suddenly fell down on earth with his stunned body.

All the remaining fires, the four sons of brahmA ran away quickly to the city of bANa.

And the fighting between Krishna and Varuna happened just after the marriage of Aniruddha as described in Harivamsa, Vishnu Parva, Chapter - 127:

Travelling through the sky, they reached the place of varuNa. The great souls saw thousands of the cows yielding divine milk, having many colours, moving in the forest near the ocean.

Knowing about the cows, depending on the words of kumbhANDa, kR^iShNa, the best among strikers and also the expert who knows the truth,

ecognizing them as the cows of bANa, decided to have them. The one who is foremost in the world, the one who does not have any decline, kR^iShNa, seated on garuDa, said:

The auspicious lord kR^iShNa said:

O the son of vinatA (garuDa)! Proceed to the place where the wealth of cows of bANa is. It is said that immortality is achieved by drinking their milk.

satyabhAma told me: Bring the cows of bANa for me. By drinking their milk, the great demons do not become old.

Living beings (it is said), discarding decay, will become unaffected by old age (by drinking their milk). If right conduct is not compromised, bring the cows. Let there be good to you.

Otherwise, if any compromise is to be done in your work, do not keep your mind on this. Thus satyA (satyabhAmA) told me. I have recognized the cows.

garuDa said:

These cows see me. Seeing me, all of them begin to enter the residence of varuNa immediately. Do what is to be done here.

(vaishampAyana continued: O janamejaya!) Saying this, garuDa agitating the ocean by generating winds by fanning his wings, entered the residence of varuNa.

Seeing that garuDa has entered the residence of varuNa, all the beings of the ocean became confused and started moving.

Then the army of varuNa, most difficult to conquer, knowing this, arrived there, taking various weapons, in front of the son of vasudeva (kR^iShNa).

Then there was a terrible battle between the beings of the ocean and the enemy of serpents (garuDa).

After Garuda has defeated the being of ocean, Varuna himself appeared with his army.

The lord of water, highly furious, along with his sons, grandsons and army, shook his great bow, as though he was challenging for battle.

lord varuNa, arrived there immediately, blowing his conch. The angry lord, varuNa shot a group of arrows at hari (kR^iShNa) as if he was hara (shiva).

Then the one who agitates people, kR^iShNa, blew his conch pA~nchajanyaM, born from water (obtained from ocean). The highly powerful kR^iShNa covered all directions with groups of arrows.

Then varuNa was oppressed by a pure group of arrows in the battle. varuNa battled with kR^iShNa smiling.

Invoking the terrible weapon vaiShNava in the battle, the son of vasudeva (kR^iShNa)spoke as follows to the one with intellect (varuNa).

(kR^iShNa said) I have taken this highly terrible weapon, vaiShNava, the killer of enemies, for killing you. Now you shall stop.

Aiming the vaiShNava arrow at lord varuNa, lord kR^iShNa readied himself. The highly powerful varuNa took up the weapon vAruNa and roared.

Water jets emerged from the weapon of varuNa. The one who wins battles, (kR^iShNa) prepared to shoot the vaiShNava weapon to control the same.

The water jets shot by varuNa began to boil. The vAruNa weapon was burned as the vaiShNava weapon blazed again.

As the highly powerful vaiShNava arrow blazed, all of them ran away in all directions.

After this Varuna praised Krishna and seek forgiveness.

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When Krishna and his friends were trapped in the forest during the forest fire, Krishna saved them all by swallowing the fire wholly. This is his defeat of Agni. It is described here: http://vedabase.com/en/sb/10/19

And when the servant of Varuna dragged Nanda Maharaja to his court, Krishna rescued him from Varuna, thereby defeating Varuna. This is described here: http://vedabase.com/en/sb/10/28

  • Welcome to Hinduism.SE! Thank you for attempting to answer my question, but unfortunately I don't think this is correct. First of all, Vidura is listing Krishna's deeds in chronological order, so this would have happened when he was an adult, not in childhood like the two incidents you mentioned. Second of all, the sentence is about physical might, so the incident would have to be about Krishna literally defeating Varuna and Agni in battle, not metaphorically "defeating" them like swallowing up fire or telling Varuna to do something. – Keshav Srinivasan Oct 26 '14 at 13:33
  • Apparently this was before I had an account here... I gave this answer because that is what Narayana Bhattatiri states in his Narayaniyam. – Surya Oct 24 '15 at 17:36
  • There IS another reference in Harivamsa, which I will check and answer. – Surya Oct 24 '15 at 17:37
  • @Surya Oh, the Narayaniyam says that Vidura's statement refers to these two incidents? – Keshav Srinivasan Oct 24 '15 at 20:39
  • @Surya By the way, you can combine your two accounts; see here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/help/merging-accounts – Keshav Srinivasan Oct 24 '15 at 20:46

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