The Vishnu Parva of the Harivamsha Purana and the 10th Skanda of Srimadbhagavata narrate a very interesting incident from the pastimes of Sri Krishna.
Usha, who was the daughter of Banasura, once had a dream of uniting with Aniruddha, the grandson of Sri Krishna (son of Pradyumna). Aniruddha was an extremely handsome man, and Usha desired to have his company in real life too. Usha had a friend called Chitralekha who had the extra-ordinary skill of painting peoples faces just by hearing their description. Based on Usha’s description of her dream, Chitralekha drew the painting of all famous princes of that era. Soon they identified that the person who had appeared in Usha’s dream was Aniruddha.
Usha sent Chitralekha herself to bring Aniruddha. Chitralekha also had the maya shakti to fetch people. She used the same and brought Aniruddha to Usha’s palace.
The two of them got married as per the Gandharva Vivaha custom and stayed together for four months. Their getting together, however, was kept a secret. Soon the attendants of Banasura got to know of this development and relayed the news to Banasura himself. The furious father of Usha sent his guards to arrest Aniruddha but he managed to defeat them. Banasura then turned up in person and, using the Naagastra in the end, managed to arrest Aniruddha.
Upon hearing this news, Sri Krishna was enraged. He, along with Balarama and Pradyumna, reached Banasura’s palace. Banasura had the boon of Shiva and therefore the backing of several devata shaktis. Sri Krishna was faced with the arrows and weapons of Agni and Aangirasa (a son of Agni). After a brief battle he defeated them both. Then several ‘ganas’ who were the attendants of Shiva challenged Sri Krishna. They too, however, met the same fate.
At this point, a fierce ‘fever’ called as “Jwara” came in front. This was a creation of Shiva, and hence the Harivamsha and Bhagavata call it the “Shaiva Jwara”. This Jwara was the very personification of fever. The Harivamsha describes it as having three heads, three legs, six hands and nine eyes.
The Jwara first attacked Balarama fiercely. After a brief battle between the two, the Jwara overpowered Balarama by throwing fever inducing ash at him. Soon Balarama showed symptoms of high fever, along with shortage of breath, burning eyes and extreme yawning. Balarama requested Sri Krishna for help.
The protector of the world embraced Balarama which caused the Jwara to immediately leave his body.
Sri Krishna then challenged the Jwara to engage with him directly. Once again, a fierce battle ensued and the lord of the Universe Sri Krishna, for a brief period, acted as if he too was getting affected by the Jwara by appearing to be breathing heavily and being unsteady. This show, however, ended very quickly.
In order to answer the Shaiva Jwara in an appropriate manner, Sri Krishna created a Vaishnava Jwara (anti-fever) of his own. He hurled this Vaishnava Jwara at the Shaiva Jwara.
This Vaishnava Jwara neutralized the effects of the Shaiva Jwara and Sri Krishna then lifted the personified Jwara and started swirling it. The Jwara gave up at this point and begged Sri Krishna for mercy. Sri Krishna, the all-merciful, released it from his clutches and allowed it to take a boon from him. The Shaiva Jwara requested that it should be the only Jwara in the world (in other words, the abhimani daitya for this Jwara shall be the only one and no other daitya shall be made abhimani for fevers).
Sri Krishna granted this boon to the Shaiva Jwara and rescinded his own creation i.e. the Vaishnava Jwara. Sri Krishna then gave instructions to the Jwara on the limits of its operation.
He said that the Jwara shall be of three parts. One part shall take effect only on quadrapeds, while the second part will be effective on stationery jivas (such as plants and trees). The third part of the Jwara shall be operative on human beings.
Out of the third part, a quarter of the same shall be reserved for birds.
The fever shall affect plants and trees by causing the shrinkage of leaves and shall be known as sankochapatraka. It shall also cause paling of the leaves and be known as pandupatraka. In fruits, the fever shall be known as Atura and in water it shall be called as neelika. In peacocks (and in general birds) the fever shall be known as shikodbheda and in flowers as hima. When it affects the earth, the same shall be known as ushara.
The fever shall be known as apasmara and khoraka when it affects cattle.
दर्शनात्स्पर्षनाच्छापि प्राणिनां वधमेश्यसि
Sri Krishna then granted the boon that the fever shall take effect due to close contact and touching. He also stated that the fever shall subside and end only amongst devas and human beings.
Finally, Sri Krishna instructed that those who take refuge in him through devotion must be spared of the ill-effects of the fever. He revealed the following two shlokas and declared that those who chant them shall be freed from the effects of the Jwara.
त्रिपाद् भस्मप्रहरणस्त्रिशिरा नवलोचनः |
स मे प्रीतः सुखं दद्यात् सर्वामयपतिर्ज्वरः ||
आद्यन्तवन्तः कवयः पुराणाः
सूक्ष्मा बृहन्तोsप्यनुशासितारः |
सर्वान् ज्वरान् घ्नन्तु ममानिरुद्ध
प्रद्युम्न संकर्षण वासुदेवाः ||
(Hari Vamsha – Vishnu Parva – Chapter 123 – Shlokas 36,37)
Sri Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya, Chapter 22
Hari Vamsha Purana, Vishnu Parva, Chapters 122, 123
Srimadbhagavata, Skanda 10, Chapter 78