There was a demigoddess named Koṭarā who was worshiped by Bāṇāsura, and their relationship was as mother and son. Mother Koṭarā was upset that Bāṇāsura’s life was in danger, so she appeared on the scene. With naked body and scattered hair, she stood before Lord Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Kṛṣṇa did not like the sight of this naked woman, and to avoid seeing her He turned His face. Bāṇāsura, getting this chance to escape Kṛṣṇa’s attack, left the battlefield. All the strings of his bows had been broken, and there was no chariot or driver, so he had no alternative but to return to his city. He lost everything in the battle.
Being greatly harassed by the arrows of Kṛṣṇa, all the associates of Lord Śiva—the hobgoblins and ghostly Bhūtas, Pretas and kṣatriyas—left the battlefield. Lord Śiva then took to his last resort. He released his greatest death weapon, known as Śiva-jvara, which destroys by excessive temperature. It is said that at the end of creation the sun becomes twelve times more scorching than usual. This twelve-times-hotter temperature is called Śiva-jvara. When the Śiva-jvara personified was released, he had three heads and three legs, and as he came toward Kṛṣṇa it appeared that he was burning everything to ashes. He was so powerful that he made blazing fire appear in all directions, and Kṛṣṇa observed that he was specifically coming toward Him.
As there is a Śiva-jvara weapon, there is also a Nārāyaṇa-jvara weapon, which is represented by excessive cold. When there is excessive heat, one can somehow or other tolerate it, but when there is excessive cold, everything collapses. This is actually experienced by a person at the time of death. At the time of death, the temperature of the body first of all increases to 107 degrees Fahrenheit, and then the whole body collapses and immediately becomes as cold as ice. To counteract the scorching heat of the Śiva-jvara, there is no other weapon but the Nārāyaṇa-jvara.
Therefore, when Lord Kṛṣṇa saw that the Śiva-jvara had been released by Lord Śiva, He had no recourse other than to release the Nārāyaṇa-jvara. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the original Nārāyaṇa and the controller of the Nārāyaṇa-jvara weapon. When the Nārāyaṇa-jvara was released, there was a great fight between the two jvaras. When excessive heat is counteracted by extreme cold, it is natural for the hot temperature to gradually reduce, and this is what occurred in the fight between the Śiva-jvara and the Nārāyaṇa-jvara. Gradually, the Śiva-jvara’s temperature diminished, and the Śiva-jvara began to cry for help from Lord Śiva, but Lord Śiva was unable to help him in the presence of the Nārāyaṇa-jvara. Unable to get any help from Lord Śiva, the Śiva-jvara could understand that he had no means of escape outside of surrendering unto Nārāyaṇa, Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself. Lord Śiva, the greatest of the demigods, could not help him, what to speak of the lesser demigods, and therefore the Śiva-jvara ultimately surrendered unto Kṛṣṇa, bowing before Him and offering a prayer so that the Lord might be pleased and give him protection.
This incident of the fight between the ultimate weapons of Lord Śiva and Lord Kṛṣṇa proves that if Kṛṣṇa gives someone protection, no one can kill him, and if Kṛṣṇa does not give one protection, no one can save him. Lord Śiva is called Mahādeva, the greatest of all the demigods, although sometimes Lord Brahmā is considered the greatest of all the demigods because he can create. However, Lord Śiva can annihilate the creations of Brahmā. Still, both Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva act only in one capacity: Lord Brahmā can create, and Lord Śiva can annihilate. But neither of them can maintain. Lord Viṣṇu, however, not only maintains but creates and annihilates also. Factually, the creation is not effected by Brahmā, because Brahmā himself is created by Lord Viṣṇu. And Lord Śiva is created, or born, of Brahmā. The Śiva-jvara thus understood that without Kṛṣṇa, or Nārāyaṇa, no one could help him. He therefore rightly took shelter of Lord Kṛṣṇa and, with folded hands, began to pray as follows.
“My dear Lord, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You because You have unlimited potencies. No one can surpass Your potencies, and thus You are the Lord of everyone. Generally people consider Lord Śiva the most powerful personality in the material world, but Lord Śiva is not all-powerful; You are all-powerful. This is factual. You are the original consciousness, or knowledge. Without knowledge, or consciousness, nothing can be powerful. A material thing may be very powerful, but without the touch of consciousness it cannot act. A material machine may be gigantic and wonderful, but without the touch of someone conscious and in knowledge, the material machine is useless for all purposes. My Lord, You are complete knowledge, and there is not a pinch of material contamination in Your personality. Lord Śiva may be a powerful demigod because of his specific power to annihilate the whole creation, and, similarly, Lord Brahmā may be very powerful because he can create the entire universe, but actually neither Brahmā nor Lord Śiva is the original cause of this cosmic manifestation. You are the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Brahman, and You are the original cause. The original cause of the cosmic manifestation is not the impersonal Brahman effulgence. That impersonal Brahman effulgence rests on Your personality.” As confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā, the cause of the impersonal Brahman is Lord Kṛṣṇa. This Brahman effulgence is likened to the sunshine, which emanates from the sun globe. Therefore, impersonal Brahman is not the ultimate cause. The ultimate cause of everything is the supreme eternal form of Kṛṣṇa. All material actions and reactions take place in the impersonal Brahman, but in the personal Brahman, the eternal form of Kṛṣṇa, there is no action and reaction.