story of the demon Madhu is disclosed in the Kalika Purana, the
Devi Bhagavata, and the Mahabharata. Srila Prabhupada briefly
mentions the story in his book Krishna (in the chapter “Prayers
of Akrura”) and in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.9.37, purport).
At the beginning of time, the spiritual world brought forth the
material universe, within which Lord Vishnu then reclined in
deep huge slumber on Sesha, His serpent bed. While Lord Vishnu
slept, a lotus stem grew from his navel. Atop of the stem was a
lotus flower, on which Brahma appeared, the first created being.
Lord Vishnu gave him the charge of creation, and he meditated on
how he would accomplish his God-given task.
It is said that as Brahma sat in deep meditation, “ear wax” (karna-shrotodbhava)
flowed from Vishnu’s ears. Two cruel demons, Madhu and Kaitabha,
were born out of that wax. They performed great penance for
thousands of years. Pleased by their penance, Lakshmi, the
Lord’s consort, appeared before them and granted them the boon
that they would die only when they so desired. Proud of their
newly acquired asset, the demons became abusively arrogant. They
attacked Brahma, still meditating on his lotus stem, and stole
from him the four Vedas. Though angry, Brahma was helpless in
the presence of such powerful adversaries. He rushed to his one
and only shelter, Vishnu, asking for help.
Vishnu, however, was in deep sleep and did not wake up, even
though Brahma tried his best to awaken him. Realizing that the
Lord slept for reasons of his own, Brahma decided to pray to
Yoga-nidra, who is none other than Goddess Lakshmi herself in a
special form to assist in the Lord’s yogic sleep. As Brahma had
hoped, she showed sympathy on him and awakened the Lord.
Brahma then told Lord Vishnu about the immoral deeds of Madhu
and Kaitabha and begged him to destroy them. Lord Vishnu
manifested as Hayagriva, the beautiful horse embodiment, and
fought with Madhu and Katabha, finally retrieving the Vedic
scriptures. But they could die only when they wanted to, as
their boon had stated. And so Vishnu cleverly told them that
just as Goddess Lakshmi had given them a boon, they should give
him one. After all, he told them, they were so powerful they
should show him the same courtesy that his feminine half, the
embodied form of his spiritual energy, had showed them.
In their arrogance, they fell for his ruse.“What boon do you
want from us?” they asked. “We will give you anything You
want.”“I want your death!” the Lord replied. And so Hayagriva
put an end to their nuisance once and for all.
Srila Prabhupada writes in Srimad-Bhagavatam : The Supreme
Personality of Godhead in his transcendental form is always
ready to give protection to his devotees. The Lord in the form
of Hayagriva killed two demons named Madhu and Kaitabha when
they attacked Lord Brahma. Modern demons think that there was no
life in the beginning of creation, but from Srimad-Bhagavatam we
understand that the first living creature created by the Supreme
Personality of Godhead was Lord Brahma, who is full of Vedic
understanding. Unfortunately, those entrusted with distributing
Vedic knowledge, such as the devotees engaged in spreading
Krishna awareness, may sometimes be attacked by demons, but they
must rest certain that demoniac attacks will not be able to harm
them, for the Lord is always prepared to give them protection.