When Kṛṣṇa came out of the city, Kālayavana, who had never seen Kṛṣṇa before, saw Him to be extraordinarily beautiful, dressed in yellow garments. Passing through Kālayavana’s assembly of soldiers, Kṛṣṇa appeared like the moon in the sky passing through the assembled clouds. Kālayavana was fortunate enough to see the lines of Śrīvatsa, a particular impression on the chest of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and the Kaustubha jewel He was wearing. Kālayavana saw Him, however, in His Viṣṇu form, with a well-built body, four hands, and eyes like the petals of a newly blooming lotus. Kṛṣṇa appeared blissful, with a handsome forehead and beautiful smiling face, restless eyebrows and moving earrings. Before seeing Kṛṣṇa, Kālayavana had heard about Him from Nārada, and now the descriptions of Nārada were confirmed. Kālayavana noticed Kṛṣṇa’s specific marks and the jewels on His chest, His beautiful garland of lotus flowers, His lotuslike eyes and similar beautiful bodily features. He concluded that this beautiful personality must be Vāsudeva, for every description he had previously heard from Nārada was substantiated by the presence of Kṛṣṇa. Kālayavana was astonished to see Kṛṣṇa passing through his army without any weapon in His hands and without any chariot. He was simply walking on foot. Kālayavana had come to fight with Kṛṣṇa, and yet he had sufficient principles not to take up any kind of weapon. He decided to fight with Him hand to hand. Thus he prepared to capture Kṛṣṇa and fight.
Kṛṣṇa, however, went ahead without looking at Kālayavana. Kālayavana followed Him with a desire to capture Him, but in spite of his swift running, he could not capture Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa cannot be captured even by great yogīs traveling at the speed of the mind. He can be captured only by those who follow the path of devotional service, and Kālayavana was not practiced in devotional service. He wanted to capture Kṛṣṇa, and since he could not do so he followed Him from behind.
Kālayavana began running very fast, thinking, “Now I am nearer; I will capture Him,” but he could not. Kṛṣṇa led him far away and entered the cave of a hill. Kālayavana thought that Kṛṣṇa was trying to avoid fighting him and was therefore taking shelter of the cave. He rebuked Him with the following words: “O Kṛṣṇa! I heard that You are a great hero born in the dynasty of Yadu, but I see that You are running away from fighting, like a coward. It is not worthy of Your good name and family tradition.” Kālayavana was following, running very fast, but still he could not catch Kṛṣṇa because he was not freed from all contaminations of sinful life.
According to Vedic culture, anyone who does not follow the regulative principles observed by the higher castes (the brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas and vaiśyas) or even those observed by the laborer class (the śūdras) is called a mleccha or yavana. The Vedic social situation is so planned that persons accepted as śūdras can gradually be elevated to the position of brāhmaṇas by the cultural advancement known as saṁskāra, or the purificatory process. The verdict of the Vedic scriptures is that no one becomes a brāhmaṇa or a mleccha simply by birth; by birth everyone is accepted as a śūdra. One has to elevate himself by the purificatory process to the stage of brahminical life. If he doesn’t, if he degrades himself further, he is then called a mleccha or yavana. Kālayavana belonged to the class of mlecchas and yavanas. Contaminated by sinful activities, he could not approach Kṛṣṇa. The principles from which higher-class men are restricted, namely illicit sexual indulgence, meat-eating, gambling and intoxication, are an integral part of the lives of the mlecchas and yavanas. Being bound by such sinful activities, one cannot make any advancement in God realization. The Bhagavad-gītā confirms that only one who is completely freed from all sinful reactions can engage in devotional service, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness.