We must know the present need of human society. And what is that need? Human society is no longer bounded by geographical limits to particular countries or communities. Human society is broader than in the Middle Ages, and the world tendency is toward one state or one human society. The ideals of spiritual communism, according to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, are based more or less on the oneness of the entire human society, nay, of the entire energy of living beings. The need is felt by great thinkers to make this a successful ideology. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam will fill this need in human society. It begins, therefore, with the aphorism of Vedānta philosophy (janmādy asya yataḥ) to establish the ideal of a common cause.
Human society, at the present moment, is not in the darkness of oblivion. It has made rapid progress in the field of material comforts, education and economic development throughout the entire world. But there is a pinprick somewhere in the social body at large, and therefore there are large-scale quarrels, even over less important issues. There is need of a clue as to how humanity can become one in peace, friendship and prosperity with a common cause. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam will fill this need, for it is a cultural presentation for the re-spiritualization of the entire human society.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam should be introduced also in the schools and colleges, for it is recommended by the great student devotee Prahlāda Mahārāja in order to change the demoniac face of society.
kaumāra ācaret prājño
dharmān bhāgavatān iha
durlabhaṁ mānuṣaṁ janma
tad apy adhruvam arthadam
Disparity in human society is due to lack of principles in a godless civilization. There is God, or the Almighty One, from whom everything emanates, by whom everything is maintained and in whom everything is merged to rest. Material science has tried to find the ultimate source of creation very insufficiently, but it is a fact that there is one ultimate source of everything that be. This ultimate source is explained rationally and authoritatively in the beautiful Bhāgavatam, or Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the transcendental science not only for knowing the ultimate source of everything but also for knowing our relation with Him and our duty toward perfection of the human society on the basis of this perfect knowledge. It is powerful reading matter in the Sanskrit language, and it is now rendered into English elaborately so that simply by a careful reading one will know God perfectly well, so much so that the reader will be sufficiently educated to defend himself from the onslaught of atheists. Over and above this, the reader will be able to convert others to accepting God as a concrete principle.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam begins with the definition of the ultimate source. It is a bona fide commentary on the Vedānta-sūtra by the same author, Śrīla Vyāsadeva, and gradually it develops into nine cantos up to the highest state of God realization. The only qualification one needs to study this great book of transcendental knowledge is to proceed step by step cautiously and not jump forward haphazardly like with an ordinary book. It should be gone through chapter by chapter, one after another. The reading matter is so arranged with its original Sanskrit text, its English transliteration, synonyms, translation and purports so that one is sure to become a God-realized soul at the end of finishing the first nine cantos.
The Tenth Canto is distinct from the first nine cantos, because it deals directly with the transcendental activities of the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa. One will be unable to capture the effects of the Tenth Canto without going through the first nine cantos. The book is complete in twelve cantos, each independent, but it is good for all to read them in small installments one after another.
I must admit my frailties in presenting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, but still I am hopeful of its good reception by the thinkers and leaders of society on the strength of the following statement of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
yasmin pratiślokam abaddhavaty api
nāmāny anantasya yaśo ‘ṅkitāni yac
gāyanti gṛṇanti sādhavaḥ
"On the other hand, that literature which is full with descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, form and pastimes of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a transcendental creation meant to bring about a revolution in the impious life of a misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though irregularly composed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest."
Oṁ tat sat
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
"This Bhāgavata Purāṇa is as brilliant as the sun, and it has arisen just after the departure of Lord Kṛṣṇa to His own abode, accompanied by religion, knowledge, etc. Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness of ignorance in the age of Kali shall get light from this Purāṇa." (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.3.43)
The timeless wisdom of India is expressed in the Vedas, ancient Sanskrit texts that touch upon all fields of human knowledge. Originally preserved through oral tradition, the Vedas were first put into writing five thousand years ago by Śrīla Vyāsadeva, the "literary incarnation of God". After compiling the Vedas, Vyāsadeva set forth their essence in the aphorisms known as Vedānta-sūtras. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is Vyāsadeva’s commentary on his own Vedānta-sūtras. It was written in the maturity of his spiritual life under the direction of Nārada Muni, his spiritual master. Referred to as "the ripened fruit of the tree of Vedic literature," Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the most complete and authoritative exposition of Vedic knowledge.
After compiling the BhāgavatamBhägavatam, Vyāsa imparted the synopsis of it to his son, the sage Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Śukadeva Gosvāmī subsequently recited the entire Bhāgavatam to Mahārāja Parīkṣit in an assembly of learned saints on the bank of the Ganges at Hastināpura (now Delhi). Mahārāja Parīkṣit was the emperor of the world and was a great rājarṣi (saintly king). Having received a warning that he would die within a week, he renounced his entire kingdom and retired to the bank of the Ganges to fast until death and receive spiritual enlightenment. The Bhāgavatam Bhägavabegins with Emperor Parīkṣit’s sober inquiry to Śukadeva Gosvāmī:
"You are the spiritual master of great saints and devotees. I am therefore begging you to show the way of perfection for all persons, and especially for one who is about to die. Please let me know what a man should hear, chant, remember and worship, and also what he should not do. Please explain all this to me."
Śukadeva Gosvāmī’s answer to this question, and numerous other questions posed by Mahārāja Parīkṣit, concerning everything from the nature of the self to the origin of the universe, held the assembled sages in rapt attention continuously for the seven days leading up to the King’s death. The sage Sūta Gosvāmī, who was present on the bank of the Ganges when Śukadeva Gosvāmī first recited Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, later repeated the Bhāgavatam before a gathering of sages in the forest of Naimiṣāraṇya. Those sages, concerned about the spiritual welfare of the people in general, had gathered to perform a long, continuous chain of sacrifices to counteract the degrading influence of the incipient age of Kali. In response to the sages’ request that he speak the essence of Vedic wisdom, Sūta Gosvāmī repeated from memory the entire eighteen thousand verses of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, as spoken by Śukadeva Gosvāmī to Mahārāja Parīkṣit.
The reader of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam hears Sūta Gosvāmī relate the questions of Mahārāja Parīkṣit and the answers of Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Also, Sūta Gosvāmī sometimes responds directly to the questions put by Śaunaka Ṛṣi, the spokesman for the sages gathered at Naimiṣāraṇya. One therefore simultaneously hears two dialogues: one between Mahārāja Parīkṣit and Śukadeva Gosvāmī on the bank of the Ganges, and another at Naimiṣāraṇya between Sūta Gosvāmī and the sages at Naimiṣāraṇya Forest, headed by Śaunaka Ṛṣi. Furthermore, while instructing King Parīkṣit, Śukadeva Gosvāmī often related historical episodes and gives accounts of lengthy philosophical discussions between such great souls as the saint Maitreya and his disciple Vidura. With this understanding of the history of the Bhāgavatam, the reader will easily be able to follow its intermingling of dialogues and events from various sources. Since philosophical wisdom, not chronological order, is most important in the text, one need only be attentive to the subject matter of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam to appreciate fully its profound message.
This edition of the Bhāgavatam is the first complete English translation of this important text with an elaborate commentary, and it is the first widely available to the English-speaking public. It is the product of the scholarly and devotional effort of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, the world’s most distinguished teacher of Indian religious and philosophical thought. His consummate Sanskrit scholarship and intimate familiarity with Vedic culture and thought as well as the modern way of life combine to reveal to the West a magnificent exposition of this important classic.
Readers will find this work of value for many reasons. For those interested in the classical roots of Indian civilization, it serves as a vast reservoir of detailed information on virtually every one of its aspects. For students of comparative philosophy and religion, the Bhāgavatam offers a penetrating view into the meaning of India’s profound spiritual heritage. To sociologists and anthropologists, the Bhāgavatam reveals the practical workings of a peaceful and scientifically organized Vedic culture, whose institutions were integrated on the basis of a highly developed spiritual world view. Students of literature will discover the Bhāgavatam to be a masterpiece of majestic poetry. For students of psychology, the text provides important perspectives on the nature of consciousness, human behavior and the philosophical study of identity. Finally, to those seeking spiritual insight, the Bhāgavatam offers simple and practical guidance for attainment of the highest self-knowledge and realization of the Absolute Truth. The entire multivolume text, presented by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, promises to occupy a significant place in the intellectual, cultural and spiritual life of modern man for a long time to come.
— The Publishers
This chapter describes how King Priyavrata enjoyed royal opulence and majesty and then returned to full knowledge. King Priyavrata was detached from worldly opulence, and then he became attached to his kingdom, but finally he again became detached from material enjoyment and thus achieved liberation. When King Parīkṣit heard about this, he was struck with wonder, but he was somewhat bewildered as to how a devotee with no attachment for material enjoyment could later become attached to it. Thus in astonishment he questioned Śukadeva Gosvāmī about this.
In response to the King’s inquiries, Śukadeva Gosvāmī said that devotional service, being transcendental, cannot be deviated by any material influences. Priyavrata had received transcendental knowledge from the instructions of Nārada, and therefore he did not want to enter a materialistic life of enjoyment in a kingdom. He accepted the kingdom, however, at the request of such superior demigods as Lord Brahmā and Lord Indra, the King of heaven.
Everything is under the control of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the supreme controller, and everyone must work accordingly. Just as a bull is controlled by a rope tied to its nose, so all conditioned souls are forced to work under the spells of the modes of nature. A civilized man, therefore, works according to the institution of varṇa and āśrama. Even in materialistic life, however, no one is free to act. Everyone is compelled to accept a certain type of body offered by the Supreme Lord and thus be allotted different grades of happiness and distress. Therefore even if one artificially leaves home and goes to the forest, he again becomes attached to materialistic life. Family life is compared to a fortress for practicing sense control. When the senses are controlled one may live either at home or in the forest; there is no difference.
When Mahārāja Priyavrata, following the instruction of Lord Brahmā, accepted the royal throne, his father, Manu, left home for the forest. Mahārāja Priyavrata then married Barhiṣmatī, the daughter of Viśvakarmā. In the womb of Barhiṣmatī he begot ten sons, named Āgnīdhra, Idhmajihva, Yajñabāhu, Mahāvīra, Hiraṇyaretā, Ghṛtapṛṣṭha, Savana, Medhātithi, Vītihotra and Kavi. He also begot one daughter, whose name was Ūrjasvatī. Mahārāja Priyavrata lived with his wife and family for many thousands of years. The impressions from the rims of Mahārāja Priyavrata’s chariot wheels created seven oceans and seven islands. Of the ten sons of Priyavrata, three sons named Kavi, Mahāvīra and Savana accepted sannyāsa, the fourth order of life, and the remaining seven sons became the rulers of the seven islands. Mahārāja Priyavrata also had a second wife, in whom he begot three sons named Uttama, Raivata and Tāmasa. All of them were elevated to the post of Manu. Śukadeva Gosvāmī thus described how Mahārāja Priyavrata achieved liberation.
ātmārāmaḥ kathaṁ mune
gṛhe ‘ramata yan-mūlaḥ
rājā uvāca—King Parīkṣit said; priya-vrataḥ—King Priyavrata; bhāgavataḥ—the great devotee; ātma-ārāmaḥ—who takes pleasure in self-realization; katham—why; mune—O great sage; gṛhe—at home; aramata—enjoyed; yat-mūlaḥ—having which as the root cause; karma-bandhaḥ—the bondage of fruitive activities; parābhavaḥ—the defeat of one’s human mission.
King Parīkṣit inquired from Śukadeva Gosvāmī: O great sage, why did King Priyavrata, who was a great, self-realized devotee of the Lord, remain in household life, which is the root cause of the bondage of karma [fruitive activities] and which defeats the mission of human life?
In the Fourth Canto, Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī explains that Nārada Muni perfectly instructed King Priyavrata about the mission of human life. The mission of human life is to realize one’s self and then gradually to go back home, back to Godhead. Since Nārada Muni instructed the King fully on this subject, why did he again enter household life, which is the main cause of material bondage? Mahārāja Parīkṣit was greatly astonished that King Priyavrata remained in household life, especially since he was not only a self-realized soul but also a first-class devotee of the Lord. A devotee actually has no attraction for household life, but surprisingly, King Priyavrata enjoyed household life very much. One may argue, "Why is it wrong to enjoy household life?" The reply is that in household life one becomes bound by the results of fruitive activities. The essence of household life is sense enjoyment, and as long as one engrosses his mind in working hard for sense enjoyment, one becomes bound by the reactions of fruitive activities. This ignorance of self-realization is the greatest defeat in human life. The human form of life is especially meant for getting out of the bondage of fruitive activities, but as long as one is forgetful of his life’s mission and acts like an ordinary animal—eating, sleeping, mating and defending—he must continue his conditioned life of material existence. Such a life is called svarūpa-vismṛti, forgetfulness of one’s real constitutional position. Therefore in Vedic civilization one is trained in the very beginning of life as a brahmacārī. A brahmacārī must execute austerities and refrain from sex indulgence. Therefore if one is completely trained in the principles of brahmacarya, he generally does not enter household life. He is then called a naiṣṭhika-brahmacārī, which indicates total celibacy. King Parīkṣit was thus astonished that the great King Priyavrata, although trained in the principles of naiṣṭhika-brahmacarya, entered household life.
The words bhāgavata ātmārāmaḥ are very significant in this verse. If one is self-satisfied as is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is called bhāgavata ātmārāmaḥ. There are different types of satisfaction. Karmīs are satisfied in their fruitive activities, jñānīs are satisfied to merge into the effulgence of Brahman, and devotees are satisfied to engage in the Lord’s service. The Lord is self-satisfied because He is fully opulent, and one who is satisfied by serving Him is called bhāgavata ātmārāmaḥ. Manuṣyāṇāṁ sahasreṣu: out of many thousands of persons, one may endeavor for liberation, and of many thousands of persons attempting to become liberated, one may achieve liberation from the anxieties of material existence and become self-satisfied. Even that satisfaction, however, is not the ultimate satisfaction. The jñānīs and the karmīs have desires, as do the yogīs, but devotees have no desires. Satisfaction in the service of the Lord is called akāma, freedom from desire, and this is the ultimate satisfaction. Therefore Mahārāja Parīkṣit inquired, "How could one who was fully satisfied on the highest platform be satisfied with family life?"
The word parābhavaḥ in this verse is also significant. When one is satisfied in family life, he is doomed because he must already have forgotten his relationship with the Lord. Prahlāda Mahārāja describes how the activities of family life implicate one more and more. Ātma-pātaṁ gṛham andha-kūpam: household life is like a dark well. If one falls into this well, his spiritual death is assured. How Priyavrata Mahārāja remained a liberated paramahaṁsa even within family life is described in the next verse.
na nūnaṁ mukta-saṅgānāṁ
gṛheṣv abhiniveśo ‘yaṁ
puṁsāṁ bhavitum arhati
na—not; nūnam—certainly; mukta-saṅgānām—who are free from attachment; tādṛśānām—such; dvija-ṛṣabha—O greatest of the brāhmaṇas; gṛheṣu—to family life; abhiniveśaḥ—excessive attachment; ayam—this; puṁsām—of persons; bhavitum—to be; arhati—is possible.
Devotees are certainly liberated persons. Therefore, O greatest of the brāhmaṇas, they cannot possibly be absorbed in family affairs.
In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu it is said that by executing devotional service to the Lord, one can understand the transcendental position of the living being and the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Supreme Personality of Godhead cannot be understood by any means except bhakti. The Lord confirms this in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.14.21). Bhaktyāham ekayā grāhyaḥ: "Only by executing devotional service can one appreciate Me." Similarly, in Bhagavad-gītā (18.55) Lord Kṛṣṇa says, bhaktyā mām abhijānāti: "Simply by discharging devotional service, one can understand Me." Thus for a bhakta to become attached to family affairs is impossible, since a bhakta and his associates are liberated. Everyone is searching after ānanda, or bliss, but in the material world there can never be any bliss. It is only possible in devotional service. Attachment for family affairs and devotional service are incompatible. Therefore Mahārāja Parīkṣit was somewhat surprised to hear that Mahārāja Priyavrata was simultaneously attached to devotional service and to family life.
mahatāṁ khalu viprarṣe
na kuṭumbe spṛhā-matiḥ
mahatām—of great devotees; khalu—certainly; vipra-ṛṣe—O great sage among the brāhmaṇas; uttama-śloka-pādayoḥ—of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; chāyā—by the shade; nirvṛta—satiated; cittānām—whose consciousness; na—never; kuṭumbe—to family members; spṛhā-matiḥ—consciousness with attachment.
Elevated mahātmās who have taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are fully satiated by the shade of those lotus feet. Their consciousness cannot possibly become attached to family members.
Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura has sung, nitāi pada-kamala, koṭī-candra suśītala, ye chāyāya jagat juḍāya. He describes the shade of the lotus feet of Lord Nityānanda as being so nice and cooling that all materialists, who are always in the blazing fire of material activities, may come under the shade of His lotus feet and be fully relieved and satiated. The distinction between family life and spiritual life can be experienced by any person who has undergone the tribulations of living with a family. One who comes under the shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord never becomes attracted by the activities of family life. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (2.59), paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate: one gives up lower engagements when he experiences a higher taste. Thus one becomes detached from family life as soon as he comes under the shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord.
saṁśayo ‘yaṁ mahān brahman
saktasya yat siddhir abhūt
kṛṣṇe ca matir acyutā
saṁśayaḥ—doubt; ayam—this; mahān—great; brahman—O brāhmaṇa; dāra—to the wife; āgāra—home; suta—children; ādiṣu—and so on; saktasya—of a person attached; yat—because; siddhiḥ—perfection; abhūt—became; kṛṣṇe—unto Kṛṣṇa; ca—also; matiḥ—attachment; acyutā—infallible.
The King continued: O great brāhmaṇa, this is my great doubt. How was it possible for a person like King Priyavrata, who was so attached to wife, children and home, to achieve the topmost infallible perfection in Kṛṣṇa consciousness?
King Parīkṣit wondered how a person so attached to wife, children and home could become so perfectly Kṛṣṇa conscious. Prahlāda Mahārāja has said:
matir na kṛṣṇe parataḥ
mitho ‘bhipadyeta gṛha-vratānām
A gṛhavrata, one who has taken a vow to execute family duties, has no chance to become Kṛṣṇa conscious. This is because most gṛhavratas are guided by sense gratification and therefore gradually glide down to the darkest regions of material existence (adānta-gobhir viśatāṁ tamisram). How can they possibly become perfect in Kṛṣṇa consciousness? Mahārāja Parīkṣit asked Śukadeva Gosvāmī to resolve this great doubt.
bāḍham uktaṁ bhagavata uttamaślokasya
caraṇāravinda-makaranda-rasa āveśita-cetaso bhāgavata-
paramahaṁsa-dayita-kathāṁ kiñcid antarāya-vihatāṁ svāṁ
śivatamāṁ padavīṁ na prāyeṇa hinvanti.
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; bāḍham—correct; uktam—what you have said; bhagavataḥ—of the Personality of Godhead; uttama-ślokasya—who is praised with excellent verses; śrīmat-caraṇa-aravinda—of the feet, which are just like the most beautiful fragrant lotus flowers; makaranda—honey; rase—in the nectar; āveśita—absorbed; cetasaḥ—whose hearts; bhāgavata—to the devotees; paramahaṁsa—liberated persons; dayita—pleasing; kathām—glorification; kiñcit—sometimes; antarāya—by impediments; vihatām—checked; svām—own; śiva-tamām—most exalted; padavīm—position; na—do not; prāyeṇa—almost always; hinvanti—give up.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: What you have said is correct. The glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is praised in eloquent, transcendental verses by such exalted personalities as Brahmā, are very pleasing to great devotees and liberated persons. One who is attached to the nectarean honey of the Lord’s lotus feet, and whose mind is always absorbed in His glories, may sometimes be checked by some impediment, but he still never gives up the exalted position he has acquired.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī accepted both of the King’s propositions—that a person who is advanced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot embrace materialistic life again and that one who has embraced materialistic life cannot take up Kṛṣṇa consciousness at any stage of his existence. Although accepting both these statements, Śukadeva Gosvāmī qualified them by saying that a person who has once absorbed his mind in the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead may sometimes be influenced by impediments, but he still does not give up his exalted devotional position.
According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, there are two kinds of impediments to devotional service. The first is an offense at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava. This is called vaiṣṇava-aparādha. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu warned His devotees not to commit vaiṣṇava-aparādha, which He described as the mad elephant offense. When a mad elephant enters a beautiful garden, it destroys everything, leaving a barren field. Similarly, the power of vaiṣṇava-aparādha is so great that even an advanced devotee becomes almost devoid of his spiritual assets if he commits it. Since Kṛṣṇa consciousness is eternal, it cannot be destroyed altogether, but advancement may be checked for the time being. Thus vaiṣṇava-aparādha is one kind of impediment to devotional service. Sometimes, however, the Supreme Personality of Godhead or His devotee desires to impede one’s devotional service. For example, Hiraṇyakaśipu and Hiraṇyākṣa were formerly Jaya and Vijaya, the gatekeepers in Vaikuṇṭha, but by the desire of the Lord, they became His enemies for three lives. Thus the desire of the Lord is another kind of impediment. But in both cases, the pure devotee, once advanced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, cannot be lost. Following the orders of his superiors (Svāyambhuva and Lord Brahmā), Priyavrata accepted family life, but this did not mean he lost his position in devotional service. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is perfect and eternal, and therefore it cannot be lost under any circumstances. Because the material world is full of obstructions to advancement in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, there may appear to be many impediments, yet Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, declares in Bhagavad-gītā (9.31), kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati: once one has taken shelter at the lotus feet of the Lord, he cannot be lost.
In this verse, the word śivatamām is very significant. Śivatamām means "the most auspicious." The devotional path is so auspicious that a devotee cannot be lost under any circumstances. This is described in the Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā by the Lord Himself. Pārtha naiveha nāmutra vināśas tasya vidyate: "My dear Arjuna, for a devotee there is no question of being lost, either in this life or in the next." (Bg. 6.40) In Bhagavad-gītā (6.43) the Lord clearly explains how this is so.
tatra taṁ buddhi-saṁyogaṁ
yatate ca tato bhūyaḥ
By the order of the Lord, a perfect devotee sometimes comes to this material world like an ordinary human being. Because of his previous practice, such a perfect devotee naturally becomes attached to devotional service, apparently without cause. Despite all kinds of impediments due to surrounding circumstances, he automatically perseveres in devotional service and gradually advances until he once again becomes perfect. Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura had been an advanced devotee in his previous life, but in his next life he became greatly fallen and was attached to a prostitute. Suddenly, however, his entire behavior was changed by the words of the very prostitute who had so much attracted him, and he became a great devotee. In the lives of exalted devotees, there are many such instances, proving that once one has taken to the shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord, he cannot be lost (kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati).
The fact is, however, that one becomes a devotee when he is completely freed from all reactions to sinful life. As Kṛṣṇa states in Bhagavad-gītā (7.28):
yeṣāṁ tv anta-gataṁ
bhajante māṁ dṛḍha-vratāḥ
"Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of illusion, engage themselves in My service with determination." On the other hand, as Prahlāda Mahārāja said:
matir na kṛṣṇe parataḥ
mitho ‘bhipadyeta gṛhavratānām
A person who is too attached to materialistic family life—home, family, wife, children and so on—cannot develop Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
These apparent contradictions are resolved in the life of a devotee by the grace of the Supreme Lord, and therefore a devotee is never bereft of his position on the path of liberation, which is described in this verse as śivatamāṁ padavīm.
yarhi vāva ha rājan sa rāja-putraḥ priyavrataḥ
nāradasya caraṇopasevayāñjasāvagata-paramārtha-satattvo brahma-
satreṇa dīkṣiṣyamāṇo ‘vani-tala-paripālanāyāmnāta-pravara-guṇa-
gaṇaikānta-bhājanatayā sva-pitropāmantrito bhagavati vāsudeva
kalāpo naivābhyanandad yadyapi tad apratyāmnātavyaṁ tad-
adhikaraṇa ātmano ‘nyasmād asato ‘pi parābhavam anvīkṣamāṇaḥ.
yarhi—because; vāva ha—indeed; rājan—O King; saḥ—he; rāja-putraḥ—the Prince; priyavrataḥ—Priyavrata; parama—supreme; bhāgavataḥ—devotee; nāradasya—of Nārada; caraṇa—the lotus feet; upasevayā—by serving; añjasā—quickly; avagata—became aware of; parama-artha—transcendental subject matter; sa-tattvaḥ—with all knowable facts; brahma-satreṇa—by continuous discussion of the Supreme; dīkṣiṣyamāṇaḥ—desiring to fully dedicate himself; avani-tala—the surface of the globe; paripālanāya—to rule over; āmnāta—directed in the revealed scriptures; pravara—highest; guṇa—of qualities; gaṇa—the sum total; ekānta—without deviation; bhājanatayā—because of his possessing; sva-pitrā—by his father; upāmantritaḥ—being asked; bhagavati—in the Supreme Personality of Godhead; vāsudeve—the all-pervading Lord; eva—certainly; avyavadhāna—without cessation; samādhi-yogena—by practicing yoga in complete absorption; samāveśita—completely dedicated; sakala—all; kāraka—senses; kriyā-kalāpaḥ—whose total activities; na—not; eva—thus; abhyanandat—welcomed; yadyapi—although; tat—that; apratyāmnātavyam—not to be rejected for any reason; tat-adhikaraṇe—in occupying that post; ātmanaḥ—of himself; anyasmāt—by other engagements; asataḥ—material; api—certainly; parābhavam—deterioration; anvīkṣamāṇaḥ—foreseeing.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: My dear King, Prince Priyavrata was a great devotee because he sought the lotus feet of Nārada, his spiritual master, and thus achieved the highest perfection in transcendental knowledge. With advanced knowledge, he always engaged in discussing spiritual subjects and did not divert his attention to anything else. The Prince’s father then asked him to take charge of ruling the world. He tried to convince Priyavrata that this was his duty as indicated in the revealed scriptures. Prince Priyavrata, however, was continuously practicing bhakti-yoga by constantly remembering the Supreme Personality of Godhead, thus engaging all his senses in the service of the Lord. Therefore, although the order of his father could not be rejected, the Prince did not welcome it. Thus he very conscientiously raised the question of whether he might be diverted from devotional service by accepting the responsibility of ruling over the world.
Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura has sung, chāḍiyā vaiṣṇava-sevā nistāra pāyeche kebā: "Without serving the lotus feet of a pure Vaiṣṇava or spiritual master, no one has ever attained perfect liberation from material bondage." Prince Priyavrata regularly served the lotus feet of Nārada, and thus the Prince perfectly understood transcendental subjects in truth (sa-tattvaḥ). The word sa-tattvaḥ means that Priyavrata knew all the facts about the spirit soul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the relationship between the spirit soul and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and he also knew all about this material world and the relationship of the spirit soul and the Supreme Lord within the material world. Thus the Prince decided to engage himself only in rendering service to the Lord.
When Priyavrata’s father, Svāyambhuva Manu, requested him to accept the responsibility of ruling over the world, he did not welcome the suggestion. This is the symptom of a great, liberated devotee. Even though engaged in worldly affairs, he does not take pleasure in them, but remains always absorbed in the Lord’s service. While thus serving the Lord, he deals externally with worldly affairs without being affected. For example, although he has no attraction for his children, he cares for them and educates them to become devotees. Similarly, he speaks to his wife with affectionate words, but he is not attached to her. By rendering devotional service, a devotee acquires all the good qualities of the Supreme Lord. Lord Kṛṣṇa had sixteen thousand wives, all of them very beautiful, and although He dealt with each of them as a beloved husband, He was not attracted or attached to any of them. In the same way, although a devotee may enter family life and act very affectionately toward his wife and children, he is never attached to these activities.
This verse states that by serving the lotus feet of his spiritual master, Prince Priyavrata very soon attained the perfectional stage of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is the only way to advance in spiritual life. As stated in the Vedas:
yasya deve parā bhaktir
yathā deve tathā gurau
tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ
"If one has unflinching faith in the Supreme Lord and the spiritual master, the essence of all Vedic knowledge is revealed to him. (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.23) A devotee always thinks of the Lord continuously. While chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, the words Kṛṣṇa and Hare immediately remind him of all the Lord’s activities. Since his entire life is engaged in the service of the Lord, a devotee cannot forget the Lord at any time. Just as an ordinary man always engages his mind in material activities, a devotee always engages his mind in spiritual activities. This is called brahma-satra, or meditating upon the Supreme Lord always. Prince Priyavrata was perfectly initiated into this practice by Śrī Nārada.
atha ha bhagavān ādi-deva etasya guṇa-visargasya
akhila-nigama-nija-gaṇa-pariveṣṭitaḥ sva-bhavanād avatatāra.
atha—thus; ha—indeed; bhagavān—the most powerful; ādi-devaḥ—the first demigod; etasya—of this universe; guṇa-visargasya—the creation of the three modes of material nature; paribṛṁhaṇa—the welfare; anudhyāna—always thinking of; vyavasita—known; sakala—whole; jagat—of the universe; abhiprāyaḥ—by whom the ultimate purpose; ātma—the Supreme Self; yoniḥ—whose source of birth; akhila—all; nigama—by the Vedas; nija-gaṇa—by personal associates; pariveṣṭitaḥ—being surrounded; sva-bhavanāt—from his own abode; avatatāra—descended.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: The first created being and most powerful demigod in this universe is Lord Brahmā, who is always responsible for developing universal affairs. Born directly from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he dedicates his activities to the welfare of the entire universe, for he knows the purpose of the universal creation. This supremely powerful Lord Brahmā, accompanied by his associates and the personified Vedas, left his own abode in the highest planetary system and descended to the place of Prince Priyavrata’s meditation.
Lord Viṣṇu, the Supreme Self (ātmā), is the source of everything, as explained in the Vedānta-sūtra: janmādy asya yataḥ. Because Brahmā was born directly from Lord Viṣṇu, he is called ātma-yoni. He is also called bhagavān, although generally bhagavān refers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead (Viṣṇu or Lord Kṛṣṇa). Sometimes great personalities—such as demigods like Lord Brahmā, Nārada or Lord Śiva—are also addressed as bhagavān because they carry out the purpose of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Brahmā is called bhagavān because he is the secondary creator of this universe. He is always thinking of how to improve the situation of the conditioned souls who have come to the material world to enjoy material activities. For this reason, he disseminates the Vedic knowledge throughout the universe for everyone’s guidance.
Vedic knowledge is divided into two parts: pravṛtti-mārga and nivṛtti-mārga. Nivṛtti-mārga is the path of negating sense enjoyment, and pravṛtti-mārga is the path by which the living entities are given a chance to enjoy and at the same time are directed in such a way that they can go back home, back to Godhead. Because ruling over this universe is a great responsibility, Brahmā must force many Manus in different ages to take charge of universal affairs. Under each Manu there are different kings who also execute the purpose of Lord Brahmā. It is understood from previous explanations that the father of Dhruva Mahārāja, King Uttānapāda, ruled over the universe because his elder brother, Priyavrata, practiced austerity from the very beginning of his life. Thus up to the point of the Pracetās, the kings of the universe were all descendants of Uttānapāda Mahārāja. Since there were no suitable kings after the Pracetās, Svāyambhuva Manu went to the Gandhamādana Hill to bring back his eldest son, Priyavrata, who was meditating there. Svāyambhuva Manu requested Priyavrata to rule over the universe. When he refused, Lord Brahmā descended from the supreme planetary system, known as Satyaloka, to request Priyavrata to accept the order. Lord Brahmā did not come alone. He came with other great sages like Marīci, Ātreya and Vasiṣṭha. To convince Priyavrata that it was necessary for him to follow the Vedic injunctions and accept the responsibility of ruling over the world, Lord Brahmā also brought with him the personified Vedas, his constant associates.
A significant word in this verse is sva-bhavanāt, indicating that Lord Brahmā descended from his own abode. Every demigod has his own abode. Indra, the King of the demigods, has his own abode, as do Candra, the lord of the moon planet, and Sūrya, the predominating deity of the sun planet. There are many millions of demigods, and the stars and planets are their respective homes. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā. Yānti deva-vratā devān: "Those who worship the demigods go to their different planetary systems." Lord Brahmā’s abode, the highest planetary system, is called Satyaloka or sometimes Brahmaloka. Brahmaloka usually refers to the spiritual world. The abode of Lord Brahmā is Satyaloka, but because Lord Brahmā resides there, it is also sometimes called Brahmaloka.
sa tatra tatra gagana-tala uḍu-patir iva
amara-parivṛḍhair abhipūjyamānaḥ pathi pathi ca varūthaśaḥ siddha-
gandharva-sādhya-cāraṇa-muni-gaṇair upagīyamāno gandha-
mādana-droṇīm avabhāsayann upasasarpa.
saḥ—he (Lord Brahmā); tatra tatra—here and there; gagana-tale—under the canopy of the sky; uḍu-patiḥ—the moon; iva—like; vimāna-āvalibhiḥ—in their different airplanes; anupatham—along the path; amara—of the demigods; parivṛḍhaiḥ—by the leaders; abhipūjyamānaḥ—being worshiped; pathi pathi—on the way, one after another; ca—also; varūthaśaḥ—in groups; siddha—by the residents of Siddhaloka; gandharva—by the residents of Gandharvaloka; sādhya—by the residents of Sādhyaloka; cāraṇa—by the residents of Cāraṇaloka; muni-gaṇaiḥ—and by great sages; upagīyamānaḥ—being worshiped; gandha-mādana—of the planet where the Gandhamādana Hill is found; droṇīm—the border; avabhāsayan—illuminating; upasasarpa—he approached.
As Lord Brahmā descended on his carrier, the great swan, all the residents of the planets named Siddhaloka, Gandharvaloka, Sādhyaloka and Cāraṇaloka, as well as great sages and demigods flying in their different airplanes, assembled within the canopy of the sky to receive Lord Brahmā and worship him. As he received respect and adoration from the residents of the various planets, Lord Brahmā appeared just like the full moon surrounded by illuminating stars. Lord Brahmā’s great swan then arrived at the border of Gandhamādana Hill and approached Prince Priyavrata, who was sitting there.
It appears from this description that there is regular interplanetary travel between the planets of the demigods. Another significant point is that there is a planet covered mostly by great mountains, one of which is Gandhamādana Hill. Three great personalities—Priyavrata, Nārada and Svāyambhuva Manu—were sitting on this hill. According to Brahmā-saṁhitā, each universe is filled with different planetary systems, and every system has a unique opulence. For example, on Siddhaloka, all the residents are very advanced in the powers of mystic yoga. They can fly from one planet to another without airplanes or other flying machines. Similarly, the residents of Gandharvaloka are expert in musical science, and those on Sādhyaloka are all great saints. The interplanetary system undoubtedly exists, and residents of different planets may go from one to another. On this earth, however, we have not invented any machine that can go directly from one planet to another, although an unsuccessful attempt has been made to go directly to the moon.
tatra ha vā enaṁ devarṣir haṁsa-yānena
hiraṇya-garbham upalabhamānaḥ sahasaivotthāyārhaṇena saha pitā-
putrābhyām avahitāñjalir upatasthe.
tatra—there; ha vā—certainly; enam—him; deva-ṛṣiḥ—the great saint Nārada; haṁsa-yānena—by the swan carrier; pitaram—his father; bhagavantam—most powerful; hiraṇya-garbham—Lord Brahmā; upalabhamānaḥ—understanding; sahasā eva—immediately; utthāya—having stood up; arhaṇena—with paraphernalia for worship; saha—accompanied; pitā-putrābhyām—by Priyavrata and his father, Svāyambhuva Manu; avahita-añjaliḥ—with respect and folded hands; upatasthe—worshiped.
Lord Brahmā, the father of Nārada Muni, is the supreme person within this universe. As soon as Nārada saw the great swan, he could understand that Lord Brahmā had arrived. Therefore he immediately stood up, along with Svāyambhuva Manu and his son Priyavrata, whom Nārada was instructing. Then they folded their hands and began to worship Lord Brahmā with great respect.
As stated in the previous verse, Lord Brahmā was accompanied by other demigods, but his specific carrier was the great swan. Therefore as soon as Nārada Muni saw the swan, he could understand that his father, Lord Brahmā, who is also known as Hiraṇyagarbha, was arriving. Thus he immediately stood up with Svāyambhuva Manu and his son Priyavrata to receive Lord Brahmā and offer him respect.
bhagavān api bhārata tad-upanītārhaṇaḥ
guṇa-gaṇāvatāra-sujayaḥ priyavratam ādi-puruṣas taṁ sadaya-
hāsāvaloka iti hovāca.
bhagavān—Lord Brahmā; api—moreover; bhārata—O King Parīkṣit; tat—by them; upanīta—brought forward; arhaṇaḥ—worshipable paraphernalia; sūkta—according to Vedic etiquette; vākena—by language; atitarām—highly; udita—praised; guṇa-gaṇa—qualities; avatāra—because of the descent; su-jayaḥ—whose glories; priyavratam—unto Priyavrata; ādi-puruṣaḥ—the original person; tam—unto him; sa-daya—with compassion; hāsa—smiling; avalokaḥ—whose looking; iti—thus; ha—certainly; uvāca—said.
My dear King Parīkṣit, because Lord Brahmā had finally descended from Satyaloka to Bhūloka, Nārada Muni, Prince Priyavrata and Svāyambhuva Manu came forward to offer him objects of worship and to praise him in highly qualified language, according to Vedic etiquette. At that time, Lord Brahmā, the original person of this universe, felt compassion for Priyavrata and, looking upon him with a smiling face, spoke to him as follows.
That Lord Brahmā descended from Satyaloka to see Priyavrata indicates that the matter was very serious. Nārada Muni had come to advise Priyavrata about the value of spiritual life, knowledge, renunciation and bhakti, and Lord Brahmā knew that Nārada’s instructions were very impressive. Therefore unless Lord Brahmā personally went to Gandhamādana Hill to request Priyavrata, Lord Brahmā knew that prince Priyavrata would not accept his father’s order. Brahmā’s purpose was to break Priyavrata’s determination. Therefore Brahmā first looked upon Priyavrata with compassion. His smile and compassionate features also indicated that although Brahmā would request Priyavrata to accept household life, Priyavrata would not be out of touch with devotional service. By the blessings of a Vaiṣṇava, everything is possible. This is described in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu as kṛpā-siddhi, or perfection attained simply by the blessings of a superior person. One usually becomes liberated and perfect by executing the regulative principles set down in the śāstras. Nonetheless, many persons have achieved perfection simply by the blessings of a spiritual master or superior.
Priyavrata was the grandson of Lord Brahmā, and as joking competition sometimes takes place between grandson and grandfather, in this case also Priyavrata was determined to remain in meditation, whereas Brahmā was determined that he rule the universe. Thus Lord Brahmā’s affectionate smile and glance meant, "My dear Priyavrata, you have decided not to accept household life, but I have decided to convince you that you must accept it." Actually, Brahmā had come to praise Priyavrata for his high standard of renunciation, austerity, penance and devotion so that he would not be deviated from devotional service, even though he would accept household life.
In this verse, one important word is sūkta-vākena (by Vedic hymns). In the Vedas, there is the following prayer to Lord Brahmā: hiraṇyagarbhaḥ samavartatāgre bhūtasya jātaḥ patir eka āsīt. Brahmā was received with the appropriate Vedic hymns, and because he was welcomed according to the Vedic etiquette, he was very pleased.
nibodha tātedam ṛtaṁ bravīmi
māsūyituṁ devam arhasy aprameyam
vayaṁ bhavas te tata eṣa maharṣir
vahāma sarve vivaśā yasya diṣṭam
śrī-bhagavān uvāca—the supreme person, Lord Brahmā, said; nibodha—kindly hear with attention; tata—my dear son; idam—this; ṛtam—true; bravīmi—I am speaking; mā—not; asūyitum—to be jealous of; devam—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; arhasi—you ought; aprameyam—who is beyond our experimental knowledge; vayam—we; bhavaḥ—Lord Śiva; te—your; tataḥ—father; eṣaḥ—this; mahā-ṛṣiḥ—Nārada; vahāmaḥ—carry out; sarve—all; vivaśāḥ—unable to deviate; yasya—of whom; diṣṭam—the order.
Lord Brahmā, the supreme person within this universe, said: My dear Priyavrata, kindly hear attentively what I shall say to you. Do not be jealous of the Supreme Lord, who is beyond our experimental measurements. All of us, including Lord Śiva, your father and the great sage Mahārṣi Nārada, must carry out the order of the Supreme. We cannot deviate from His order.
Of the twelve great authorities in devotional service, four—Lord Brahmā himself, his son Nārada, Svāyambhuva Manu and Lord Śiva—were present before Priyavrata. They were accompanied by many other authoritative sages. Brahmā first wanted to impress upon Priyavrata that although these great personalities are all authorities, they cannot possibly disobey the orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is described in this verse as deva, which means "always glorious." The power, glory and potencies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead can never be diminished. In the Īśopaniṣad, the Lord is described as apāpa-viddha, which indicates that He is never affected by anything materially considered sinful. Similarly, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam describes the Supreme Personality of Godhead as being so powerful that nothing we might consider abominable can affect Him. An example sometimes given to explain the position of the Supreme Lord is that of the sun, which evaporates urine from the earth but is never affected by contamination. The Supreme Lord can never be accused of doing anything wrong.
When Lord Brahmā went to induce Priyavrata to accept the responsibility for ruling the universe, he did not go whimsically; he was following the dictations of the Supreme Lord. Indeed, Brahmā and other genuine authorities never do anything without His permission. The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart. In the beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is said, tene brahma hṛdā ya ādi-kavaye: the Lord dictated Vedic knowledge to Brahmā through his heart. The more a living entity is purified by devotional service, the more he comes in direct contact with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as confirmed in Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā:
dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ
yena mām upayānti te
"To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me." (Bg. 10.10) Lord Brahmā, therefore, had not come to Priyavrata by his own whims: rather, it is understood that he had been ordered to persuade Priyavrata by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose activities cannot be understood by material senses and who is therefore described herein as aprameya. Thus Lord Brahmā first advised Priyavrata to hear his words with attention and without envy.
Why one is induced to perform certain acts despite his desire to do something else is indicated herein. One cannot disobey the orders of the Supreme Lord, even if one is as powerful as Lord Śiva. Lord Brahmā, Manu or the great sage Nārada. All these authorities are certainly very powerful, but they do not have the power to disobey the orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Since Lord Brahmā had come to Priyavrata in accordance with the orders of the Supreme Lord, he first wanted to dispel any suspicions that he might be acting as Priyavrata’s enemy. Lord Brahmā was following the orders of the Supreme Lord, and therefore it would be worthwhile for Priyavrata to accept Lord Brahmā’s order, as the Lord desired.
na tasya kaścit tapasā vidyayā vā
na yoga-vīryeṇa manīṣayā vā
naivārtha-dharmaiḥ parataḥ svato vā
kṛtaṁ vihantuṁ tanu-bhṛd vibhūyāt
na—never; tasya—His; kaścit—anyone; tapasā—by austerity; vidyayā—by education; vā—or; na—never; yoga—by power of mystic yoga; vīryeṇa—by personal strength; manīṣayā—by intelligence; vā—or; na—never; eva—certainly; artha—by material opulence; dharmaiḥ—by the power of religion; parataḥ—by any external power; svataḥ—by personal endeavor; vā—or; kṛtam—the order; vihantum—to avoid; tanu-bhṛt—a living entity who has accepted a material body; vibhūyāt—is able.
One cannot avoid the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, not by the strength of severe austerities, an exalted Vedic education, or the power of mystic yoga, physical prowess or intellectual activities. Nor can one use his power of religion, his material opulence or any other means, either by himself or with the help of others, to defy the orders of the Supreme Lord. That is not possible for any living being, from Brahmā down to the ant.
In the Garga Upaniṣad, Gargamuni says to his wife, etasya vā akṣarasya praśāsane gargi sūryā-candramasau vidhṛtau tiṣṭhataḥ: "My dear Gargī, everything is under the control of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Even the sun, the moon and other controllers and demigods like Lord Brahmā and King Indra are all under His control." An ordinary human being or animal who has accepted a material body cannot go beyond the jurisdiction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s control. A material body includes senses. However, the sense activities of so-called scientists who try to be free from God’s law or the laws of nature are useless. This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (7.14). Mama māyā duratyayā: it is impossible to surpass the control of material nature, for the Supreme Personality of Godhead is working behind it. Sometimes we are proud of our austerities, penances and mystic yogic powers, but it is clearly stated herein that one cannot surpass the laws and directions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, either by dint of mystic power, a scientific education, or austerities and penances. It is impossible.
The word manīṣayā ("by intelligence") is of special significance. Priyavrata might argue that Lord Brahmā was requesting him to accept family life and the responsibility for ruling a kingdom, although Nārada Muni had advised him not to enter household life and be entangled in material affairs. Whom to accept would be a puzzle for Priyavrata because both Lord Brahmā and Nārada Muni are authorities. Under the circumstances, the use of the word manīṣayā is very appropriate, for it indicates that since both Nārada Muni and Lord Brahmā are authorized to give instruction, Priyavrata should neglect neither of them but should use his intelligence to follow the advice of both. To solve such dilemmas, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has given a very clear conception of intelligence. He says:
yuktaṁ vairāgyam ucyate
Viṣayān, material affairs, should be accepted without attachment, and everything should be dovetailed with the service of the Lord. That is real intelligence (manīṣā). Becoming a family man or king in the material world is not harmful if one accepts everything for Kṛṣṇa’s service. That necessitates clear intelligence. Māyāvādī philosophers say, brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā: this material world is false, and only the Absolute Truth is real. However, an intelligent devotee in the line of Lord Brahmā and the great sage Nārada—or, in other words, in the Brahma-sampradāya—does not consider this world false. That which is created by the Supreme Personality of Godhead cannot be false, but using it for enjoyment is. Everything is meant to be enjoyed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (5.29). Bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ sarva-loka-maheśvaram: the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the supreme proprietor and enjoyer, and therefore everything should be dovetailed for His enjoyment and service. Regardless of one’s circumstances, favorable or unfavorable, one should use everything to serve the Supreme Lord. That is the perfect way to use one’s intelligence.
bhavāya nāśāya ca karma kartuṁ
śokāya mohāya sadā bhayāya
sukhāya duḥkhāya ca deha-yogam
avyakta-diṣṭaṁ janatāṅga dhatte
bhavāya—for birth; nāśāya—for death; ca—also; karma—activity; kartum—to do; śokāya—for bereavement; mohāya—for illusion; sadā—always; bhayāya—for fear; sukhāya—for happiness; duḥkhāya—for distress; ca—also; deha-yogam—connection with a material body; avyakta—by the Supreme Personality of Godhead; diṣṭam—directed; janatā—the living entities; aṅga—O Priyavrata; dhatte—accept.
My dear Priyavrata, by the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, all living entities accept different types of bodies for birth and death, activity, lamentation, illusion, fear of future dangers, and happiness and distress.
Every living entity who has come to this material world has come here for material enjoyment, but according to his own karma, activities, he must accept a certain type of body given to him by material nature under the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (3.27), prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ: everything is being done by prakṛti, material nature, under the direction of the Supreme Lord. Modern scientists do not know why there are varieties of bodies in 8,400,000 forms. The fact is that all these bodies are ordained for the living entities by the Supreme Personality of Godhead according to the living entities’ desires. He gives the living entities freedom to act as they like, but on the other hand they must accept a body according to the reactions of their activities. Thus there are different types of bodies. Some living entities have short durations of life, whereas others live for fantastic durations. Every one of them, however, from Brahmā down to the ant, acts according to the direction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is sitting in everyone’s heart. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (15.15):
sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi
mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca
"I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness." It is not a fact, however, that the Supreme Personality of Godhead gives direction to certain living entities in one way and other living entities in another way. The truth is that every living entity has a certain desire, and the Supreme Lord gives him a chance to fulfill it. The best course, therefore, is to surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead and act according to His desire. One who does so is liberated.
yad-vāci tantyāṁ guṇa-karma-dāmabhiḥ
sudustarair vatsa vayaṁ suyojitāḥ
sarve vahāmo balim īśvarāya
protā nasīva dvi-pade catuṣ-padaḥ
yat—of whom; vāci—in the form of Vedic instruction; tantyām—to a long rope; guṇa—of quality; karma—and work; dāmabhiḥ—by the ropes; su-dustaraiḥ—very difficult to avoid; vatsa—my dear boy; vayam—we; su-yojitāḥ—are engaged; sarve—all; vahāmaḥ—carry out; balim—orders to please Him; īśvarāya—unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead; protāḥ—being bound; nasi—in the nose; iva—like; dvi-pade—to the two-legged (driver); catuḥ-padaḥ—the four-legged (bulls).
My dear boy, all of us are bound by the Vedic injunctions to the divisions of varṇāśrama according to our qualities and work. These divisions are difficult to avoid because they are scientifically arranged. We must therefore carry out our duties of varṇāśrama-dharma, like bulls obliged to move according to the direction of a driver pulling on ropes knotted to their noses.
In this verse, the words tantyāṁ guṇa-karma-dāmabhiḥ are very important. We each get a body according to our association with the guṇas, the qualities or modes of material nature, and we act accordingly. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, the four orders of the social system—namely brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra—are arranged according to guṇa and karma, their qualities and work. There is some controversy about this, however, because some say that since one receives a body according to the guṇa and karma of his past life, it is one’s birth that determines his social status. Others say, however, that one’s birth according to the guṇa and karma of his past life is not the essential consideration, since one can change his guṇa and karma even in this life. Thus they say that the four divisions of the social order—brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra—should be arranged according to the guṇa and karma of this life. This version is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam by Nārada Muni. While instructing Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira about the symptoms of guṇa and karma, Nārada Muni said that these symptoms must govern the division of society. In other words, if a person born in the family of a brāhmaṇa has the symptoms of a śūdra, he should be designated as a śūdra. Similarly, if a śūdra has brahminical qualities, he should be designated a brāhmaṇa.
The varṇāśrama system is scientific. Therefore if we accept the divisions of varṇa and āśrama according to the Vedic instructions, our lives will be successful. Unless human society is thus divided and arranged, it cannot be perfect. As stated in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (3.8.9):
puruṣeṇa paraḥ pumān
viṣṇur ārādhyate panthā
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Viṣṇu, is worshiped by the proper execution of prescribed duties in the system of varṇa and āśrama. There is no other way to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One must be situated in the institution of the four varṇas and āśramas." All of human society is meant to worship Lord Viṣṇu. At the present moment, however, human society does not know that this is the ultimate goal or perfection of life. Therefore instead of worshiping Lord Viṣṇu, people have been educated to worship matter. According to the direction of modern society, men think they can advance in civilization by manipulating matter to build skyscrapers, big roads, automobiles and so on. Such a civilization must certainly be called materialistic because its people do not know the goal of life. The goal of life is to reach Viṣṇu, but instead of reaching Viṣṇu, people are bewildered by the external manifestation of the material energy. Therefore progress in material advancement is blind, and the leaders of such material advancement are also blind. They are leading their followers in the wrong way.
It is best, therefore, to accept the injunctions of the Vedas, which are mentioned in this verse as yad-vāci. In accordance with those injunctions, everyone should find out whether he is a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra and should thus be educated accordingly. Then his life will be successful. Otherwise, all of human society will be confused. If human society is divided scientifically according to varṇa and āśrama, and if the Vedic directions are followed, one’s life, regardless of his position, will be successful. It is not that brāhmaṇas will be elevated to the transcendental platform but not the śūdras. If the Vedic injunctions are followed, all of them—brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras—will be elevated to the transcendental platform, and their lives will be successful. The injunctions in the Vedas are explicit directions from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The example cited in this verse is that bulls tied by ropes in their nostrils move according to the direction of the driver. Similarly, if we move according to the instructions of the Vedas, the perfect paths for our lives will be set. Otherwise, if we do not move in that way but act according to our whimsical ideas, our lives will be spoiled by confusion and will end in despair. Actually, because people at the present moment are not following the instructions of the Vedas, they are all confused. We must therefore accept this instruction by Lord Brahmā to Priyavrata as the factual scientific direction leading to the success of life. This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (16.23):
yaḥ śāstra-vidhim utsṛjya
na sa siddhim avāpnoti
na sukhaṁ na parāṁ gatim
If we do not live according to the injunctions of the śāstras, the Vedas, we shall never achieve success in life, to say nothing of happiness or elevation to higher statuses of living.
īśābhisṛṣṭaṁ hy avarundhmahe ‘ṅga
duḥkhaṁ sukhaṁ vā guṇa-karma-saṅgāt
āsthāya tat tad yad ayuṅkta nāthaś
cakṣuṣmatāndhā iva nīyamānāḥ
īśa-abhisṛṣṭam—created or given by the Lord; hi—certainly; avarundhmahe—we have to accept; aṅga—my dear Priyavrata; duḥkham—distress; sukham—happiness; vā—or; guṇa-karma—with quality and work; saṅgāt—by association; āsthāya—being situated in; tat tat—that condition; yat—which body; ayuṅkta—He gave; nāthaḥ—the Supreme Lord; cakṣuṣmatā—by a person having eyes; andhāḥ—blind men; iva—like; nīyamānāḥ—being conducted.
My dear Priyavrata, according to our association with different modes of material nature, the Supreme Personality of Godhead gives us our specific bodies and the happiness and distress we achieve. One must therefore remain situated as he is and be conducted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, exactly as a blind man is led by a person who has eyes with which to see.
By material means, one cannot avoid the happiness and distress unique to his particular body. There are 8,400,000 bodily forms, each destined to enjoy and suffer a certain amount of happiness and distress. This we cannot change, for the happiness and distress are ordained by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in accordance with whose decision we have received our bodies. Since we cannot avoid the plan of the Supreme Godhead, we must agree to be directed by Him, just as a blind man is led by a person who has eyes. Under any circumstances, if we remain in the condition allotted to us by the Supreme Lord and follow His instructions, we will become perfect. The main purpose of life is to follow the instructions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is such instructions that constitute one’s religion or occupational duty.
In Bhagavad-gītā, therefore, Lord Kṛṣṇa says, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: "Give up all other engagements. Simply surrender unto Me and follow Me." (Bg. 18.66) This process of surrendering by following the instructions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is not meant for any particular caste or creed. A brāhmaṇa can surrender, and so can a kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra. Everyone can adopt this process. As stated in this verse, cakṣuṣmatāndhā iva nīyamānāḥ: one should follow the Lord the way a blind man follows a person who has eyes. If we follow the Supreme Personality of Godhead by following the directions He gives in the Vedas and Bhagavad-gītā, our lives will be successful. The Lord therefore says:
man-manā bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi satyaṁ te
pratijāne priyo ‘si me
"Always think of Me, become My devotee, and offer respect and obeisances unto Me. Then you will certainly come back home, back to Godhead. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend." (Bg. 18.65) This instruction is meant for everyone—brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra. If anyone, from any division of life, surrenders to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and follows His instructions, his life will be successful.
The previous verse has given the analogy of bulls moving under the direction of the driver of a bullock cart. The bulls, being completely surrendered to the driver, remain wherever he wants to place them and eat whatever he wants them to eat. Similarly, being completely surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we should not aspire for happiness, or regret distress; we must be satisfied with the position allotted to us by the Lord. We should follow the path of devotional service and not be dissatisfied with the happiness and distress He has given. People in the material modes of passion and ignorance generally cannot understand the plan of the Supreme Personality of Godhead with its 8,400,000 forms of life, but the human form affords one the special privilege to understand this plan, engage in devotional service and elevate oneself to the highest position of perfection by following the Lord’s instructions. The entire world is working under the influence of the modes of material nature, especially ignorance and passion, but if people engage in hearing and chanting about the glories of the Supreme Lord, their lives can be successful, and they can be elevated to the highest perfection. In the Bṛhan-nāradīya Purāṇa, therefore, it is said:
harer nāma harer nāma
harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva
nāsty eva gatir anyathā
"In this age of Kali, there is no other way, no other way, no other way for spiritual perfection than the holy name, the holy name, the holy name of the Lord." Everyone should be given the chance to hear the holy names of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for thus one will gradually come to understand his real position in life and be elevated to the transcendental position above the mode of goodness. Thus all impediments to his progress will be cut to pieces. In conclusion, therefore, we must be satisfied in whatever position we have been put into by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and we should try to engage ourselves in His devotional service. Then our lives will be successful.
mukto ‘pi tāvad bibhṛyāt sva-deham
ārabdham aśnann abhimāna-śūnyaḥ
kiṁ tv anya-dehāya guṇān na vṛṅkte
muktaḥ—a liberated person; api—even; tāvat—so long; bibhṛyāt—must maintain; sva-deham—his own body; ārabdham—obtained as a result of past activity; aśnan—accepting; abhimāna-śūnyaḥ—without erroneous conceptions; yathā—as; anubhūtam—what was perceived; pratiyāta-nidraḥ—one who has awakened from sleep; kim tu—but; anya-dehāya—for another material body; guṇān—the material qualities; na—never; vṛṅkte—enjoys.
Even if one is liberated, he nevertheless accepts the body he has received according to his past karma. Without misconceptions, however, he regards his enjoyment and suffering due to that karma the way an awakened person regards a dream he had while sleeping. He thus remains steadfast and never works to achieve another material body under the influence of the three modes of material nature.
The difference between a liberated and conditioned soul is that the conditioned soul is under the concept of bodily life, whereas a liberated person knows that he is not the body but a spirit, different from the body. Priyavrata might have thought that although a conditioned soul is forced to act according to the laws of nature, why should he, who was far advanced in spiritual understanding, accept the same kind of bondage and impediments to spiritual advancement? To answer this doubt, Lord Brahmā informed him that even those who are liberated do not resent accepting, in the present body, the results of their past activities. While sleeping, one dreams many unreal things, but when he awakens he disregards them and makes progress in factual life. Similarly, a liberated person—one who has completely understood that he is not the body but a spirit soul—disregards past activities performed in ignorance and performs his present activities in such a way that they produce no reactions. This is described in Bhagavad-gītā (3.9). Yajñārthāt karmaṇo ‘nyatra loko ‘yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ: if one performs activities for the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality, the yajña-puruṣa, his work does not produce reactions, whereas karmīs, who act for themselves, are bound by the reactions of their work. A liberated person, therefore, does not think about whatever he has ignorantly done in the past; instead, he acts in such a way that he will not produce another body by fruitive activities. As clearly mentioned in Bhagavad-gītā:
mām ca yo ‘vyabhicāreṇa
sa guṇān samatītyaitān
"One who engages in full devotional service, who does not fall down in any circumstance, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman." (Bg. 14.26) Regardless of what we have done in our past lives, if we engage ourselves in unalloyed devotional service to the Lord in this life, we will always be situated in the brahma-bhūta (liberated) state, free from reactions, and will not be obliged to accept another material body. Tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so ‘rjuna (Bg. 4.9). After giving up the body, one who has acted in that way does not accept another material body, but instead goes back home, back to Godhead.
bhayaṁ pramattasya vaneṣv api syād
yataḥ sa āste saha-ṣaṭ-sapatnaḥ
gṛhāśramaḥ kiṁ nu karoty avadyam
bhayam—fear; pramattasya—of one who is bewildered; vaneṣu—in forests; api—even; syāt—there must be; yataḥ—because; saḥ—he (one who is not self-controlled); āste—is existing; saha—with; ṣaṭ-sapatnaḥ—six co-wives; jita-indriyasya—for one who has already conquered the senses; ātma-rateḥ—self-satisfied; budhasya—for such a learned man; gṛha-āśramaḥ—household life; kim—what; nu—indeed; karoti—can do; avadyam—harm.
Even if he goes from forest to forest, one who is not self-controlled must always fear material bondage because he is living with six co-wives—the mind and knowledge-acquiring senses. Even householder life, however, cannot harm a self-satisfied, learned man who has conquered his senses.
Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura has sung, gṛhe vā vanete thāke, ‘hā gaurāṅga’ bale ḍāke: whether one is situated in the forest or at home, if he is engaged in the devotional service of Lord Caitanya, he is a liberated person. Here this is also repeated. For one who has not controlled his senses, going to the forest to become a so-called yogī is meaningless. Because his uncontrolled mind and senses are going with him, he cannot achieve anything, even by giving up household life and staying in the forest. Formerly many mercantile men from the up-country of India used to go to Bengal, and thus there is a familiar saying, "If you go to Bengal, your fortune will go with you." Our first concern, therefore, should be to control the senses, and since the senses cannot be controlled unless engaged in the devotional service of the Lord, our most important duty is to engage the senses in devotional service. Hṛṣīkeṇa hṛṣīkeśa-sevanaṁ bhaktir ucyate: bhakti means engagement of the purified senses in the service of the Lord.
Herein Lord Brahmā indicates that instead of going to the forest with uncontrolled senses, it is better and more secure to engage the senses in the service of the Lord. Even household life can do no harm to a self-controlled person acting in this way; it cannot force him into material bondage. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has further enunciated this position:
īhā yasya harer dāsye
karmaṇā manasā girā
nikhilāsv apy avasthāsu
jīvan-muktaḥ sa ucyate
"Regardless of one’s circumstances, if one fully engages his activities, mind and words in the devotional service of the Lord, he should be understood to be a liberated person." Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura was a responsible officer and a householder, yet his service to the cause of expanding the mission of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu is unique. Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura says, durdāntendriya-kāla-sarpa-paṭalī protkhāta-daṁṣṭrāyate. The sense organs are certainly our greatest enemies, and they are therefore compared to venomous serpents. However, if a venomous serpent is bereft of its poison fangs, it is no longer fearful. Similarly, if the senses are engaged in the service of the Lord, there is no need to fear their activities. The devotees in the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement move within this material world, but because their senses are fully engaged in the service of the Lord, they are always aloof from the material world. They are always living in a transcendental position.
yaḥ ṣaṭ sapatnān vijigīṣamāṇo
gṛheṣu nirviśya yateta pūrvam
atyeti durgāśrita ūrjitārīn
kṣīṇeṣu kāmaṁ vicared vipaścit
yaḥ—anyone who; ṣaṭ—six; sapatnān—adversaries; vijigīṣamāṇaḥ—desiring to conquer; gṛheṣu—in household life; nirviśya—having entered; yateta—must try; pūrvam—first; atyeti—conquers; durga-āśritaḥ—being in a fortified place; ūrjita-arīn—very strong enemies; kṣīṇeṣu—decreased; kāmam—lusty desires; vicaret—can go; vipaścit—the most experienced, learned.
One who is situated in household life and who systematically conquers his mind and five sense organs is like a king in his fortress who conquers his powerful enemies. After one has been trained in household life and his lusty desires have decreased, he can move anywhere without danger.
The Vedic system of four varṇas and four āśramas is very scientific, and its entire purpose is to enable one to control the senses. Before entering household life (gṛhastha-āśrama), a student is fully trained to become jitendriya, a conqueror of the senses. Such a mature student is allowed to become a householder, and because he was first trained in conquering his senses, he retires from household life and becomes vānaprastha as soon as the strong waves of youthful life are past and he reaches the verge of old age at fifty years or slightly more. Then, after being further trained, he accepts sannyāsa. He is then a fully learned and renounced person who can move anywhere and everywhere without fear of being captivated by material desires. The senses are considered very powerful enemies. As a king in a strong fortress can conquer powerful enemies, so a householder in gṛhastha-āśrama, household life, can conquer the lusty desires of youth and be very secure when he takes vānaprastha and sannyāsa.
tvaṁ tv abja-nābhāṅghri-saroja-kośa-
bhuṅkṣveha bhogān puruṣātidiṣṭān
vimukta-saṅgaḥ prakṛtiṁ bhajasva
tvam—yourself; tu—then; abja-nābha—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose navel is like a lotus flower; aṅghri—feet; saroja—lotus; kośa—hole; durga—the stronghold; āśritaḥ—taken shelter of; nirjita—conquered; ṣaṭ-sapatnaḥ—the six enemies (the mind and five senses); bhuṅkṣva—enjoy; iha—in this material world; bhogān—enjoyable things; puruṣa—by the Supreme person; atidiṣṭān—extraordinarily ordered; vimukta—liberated; saṅgaḥ—from material association; prakṛtim—constitutional position; bhajasva—enjoy.
Lord Brahmā continued: My dear Priyavrata, seek shelter inside the opening in the lotus of the feet of the Lord, whose navel is also like a lotus. Thus conquer the six sense organs [the mind and knowledge-acquiring senses]. Accept material enjoyment because the Lord, extraordinarily, has ordered you to do this. You will thus always be liberated from material association and be able to carry out the Lord’s orders in your constitutional position.
There are three kinds of men within this material world. Those who are trying to enjoy the senses to the utmost are called karmīs, above them are the jñānīs, who try to conquer the urges of the senses, and above them are the yogīs, who have already conquered the senses. None of them, however, are situated in a transcendental position. Only devotees, who belong to none of the above-mentioned groups, are transcendental. As explained in Bhagavad-gītā (14.26):
māṁ ca yo ‘vyabhicāreṇa
sa guṇān samatītyaitān
"One who engages in full devotional service, who does not fall down in any circumstance, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman." Lord Brahmā herein advises Priyavrata to remain transcendental in the fortress not of family life but of the lotus feet of the Lord (abja-nābhāṅghri-saroja). When a bumblebee enters the opening of a lotus flower and drinks its honey, it is fully protected by the petals of the lotus. The bee is undisturbed by sunshine and other external influences. Similarly, one who always seeks shelter at the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead is protected from all dangers. It is therefore said in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.58):
mahat-padaṁ puṇya-yaśo murāreḥ
bhavāmbudhir vatsa-padaṁ paraṁ padaṁ
padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām
For one who has taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord, everything becomes easier. Indeed, even crossing the great ocean of nescience (bhavāmbudhi) is exactly like crossing the hoofprint created by a calf (vatsa-padam). For such a devotee, there is no question of remaining in a place where every step is dangerous.
Our actual duty is to carry out the supreme order of the Personality of Godhead. If we are fixed in our determination to carry out the supreme order of the Lord, we are always secure, regardless of where we are situated, whether in hell or in heaven. Herein the words prakṛtiṁ bhajasva are very significant. Prakṛtim refers to one’s constitutional position. Every living entity has the constitutional position of being an eternal servant of God. Therefore Lord Brahmā advised Priyavrata, "Be situated in your original position as an eternal servant of the Lord. If you carry out His orders, you will never fall, even in the midst of material enjoyment." Material enjoyment achieved by dint of one’s fruitive activities differs from material enjoyment given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. A devotee sometimes appears to be in a very opulent position, but he accepts that position to follow the orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore a devotee is never affected by material influences. The devotees in the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement are preaching all over the world in accordance with the order of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. They have to meet many karmīs, but by the mercy of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, they are unaffected by material influences. He has blessed them, as described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 7.129):
kabhu nā bādhibe tomāra
punarapi ei ṭhāñi pābe mora saṅge
A sincere devotee who engages in the service of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu by preaching His cult all over the world will never be affected by viṣaya-taraṅga, material influences. On the contrary, in due course of time he will return to the shelter of the lotus feet of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and will thus have perpetual association with Him.
iti samabhihito mahā-bhāgavato bhagavatas
anuśāsanam ātmano laghutayāvanata-śirodharo bāḍham iti sabahu-
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; iti—thus; samabhihitaḥ—completely instructed; mahā-bhāgavataḥ—the great devotee; bhagavataḥ—of the most powerful Lord Brahmā; tri-bhuvana—of the three worlds; guroḥ—the spiritual master; anuśāsanam—the order; ātmanaḥ—of himself; laghutayā—because of inferiority; avanata—bowed down; śirodharaḥ—his head; bāḍham—yes, sir; iti—thus; sa-bahu-mānam—with great respect; uvāha—carried out.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: After thus being fully instructed by Lord Brahmā, who is the spiritual master of the three worlds, Priyavrata, his own position being inferior, offered obeisances, accepted the order and carried it out with great respect.
Śrī Priyavrata was the grandson of Lord Brahmā. Therefore according to social etiquette, his position was inferior. It is the duty of the inferior to carry out the order of the superior with great respect. Priyavrata therefore immediately said, "Yes, sir. I shall carry out your order." Priyavrata is described as a mahā-bhāgavata, a great devotee. The duty of a great devotee is to carry out the order of the spiritual master, or the spiritual master of the spiritual master in the paramparā system. As described in Bhagavad-gītā (4.2), evaṁ paramparā prāptam: one has to receive the instructions of the Supreme Lord through the disciplic chain of spiritual masters. A devotee of the Lord always considers himself a servant of the servant of the servant of the Lord.
bhagavān api manunā yathāvad upakalpitāpacitiḥ
nāradayor aviṣamam abhisamīkṣamāṇayor ātmasam avasthānam avāṅ-
manasaṁ kṣayam avyavahṛtaṁ pravartayann agamat.
bhagavān—the most powerful Lord Brahmā; api—also; manunā—by Manu; yathāvat—as deserved; upakalpita-apacitiḥ—being worshiped; priyavrata-nāradayoḥ—in the presence of Priyavrata and Nārada; aviṣamam—without aversion; abhisamīkṣamāṇayoḥ—looking on; ātmasam—just suitable for his position; avasthānam—to his abode; avāk-manasam—beyond the description of mind and words; kṣayam—the planet; avyavahṛtam—extraordinarily situated; pravartayan—departing; agamat—returned.
Lord Brahmā was then worshiped by Manu, who respectfully satisfied him as well as he could. Priyavrata and Nārada also looked upon Brahmā with no tinges of resentment. Having engaged Priyavrata in accepting his father’s request, Lord Brahmā returned to his abode, Satyaloka, which is indescribable by the endeavor of mundane mind or words.
Manu was certainly very satisfied that Lord Brahmā had persuaded his son Priyavrata to take the responsibility for ruling the world. Priyavrata and Nārada were also very satisfied. Although Brahmā had forced Priyavrata to accept the management of worldly affairs, thus breaking his vow to remain brahmacārī and completely engage in devotional service, Nārada and Priyavrata did not look upon Brahmā with resentment. Nārada was not at all sorry that he had been frustrated in making Priyavrata a disciple. Both Priyavrata and Nārada were exalted personalities who knew how to respect Lord Brahmā. Therefore instead of looking upon Brahmā with resentment, they very feelingly offered him their respect. Lord Brahmā then returned to his celestial abode, known as Satyaloka, which is described here as being impeccable and being unapproachable by words.
It is stated in this verse that Lord Brahmā returned to his residence, which is as important as his own personality. Lord Brahmā is the creator of this universe and the most exalted personality within it. His lifetime is described in Bhagavad-gītā (8.17). Sahasra-yuga-paryantam ahar yad brahmaṇo viduḥ. The total duration of the four yugas is 4,300,000 years, and when that is multiplied a thousand times, it equals twelve hours in the life of Brahmā. Therefore we cannot factually comprehend even twelve hours of Brahmā’s life, to say nothing of the one hundred years that constitute his entire lifetime. How, then, can we understand his abode? The Vedic literatures describe that in Satyaloka there is no birth, death, old age or disease. In other words, since Satyaloka is situated next to Brahmaloka, or the Brahman effulgence, it is almost as good as Vaikuṇṭhaloka. Lord Brahmā’s abode is practically indescribable from our present status. Therefore it has been described as avāṅ-manasa-gocara, or beyond the description of our words and the imagination of our minds. The Vedic literatures thus describe the abode of Lord Brahmā: yad vai parārdhyaṁ tad upārameṣṭhyaṁ na yatra śoko na jarā na mṛtyur nārtir na codvegaḥ. "In Satyaloka, which is situated many millions and billions of years away, there is no lamentation, nor is there old age, death, anxiety or the influence of enemies."
manur api pareṇaivaṁ pratisandhita-manorathaḥ
varānumatenātmajam akhila-dharā-maṇḍala-sthiti-guptaya āsthāpya
svayam ati-viṣama-viṣaya-viṣa-jalāśayāśāyā upararāma.
manuḥ—Svāyambhuva Manu; api—also; pareṇa—by Lord Brahmā; evam—thus; pratisandhita—executed; manaḥ-rathaḥ—his mental aspiration; sura-ṛṣi-vara—of the great sage Nārada; anumatena—by the permission; ātma-jam—his son; akhila—of the entire universe; dharā-maṇḍala—of planets; sthiti—maintenance; guptaye—for the protection; āsthāpya—establishing; svayam—personally; ati-viṣama—very dangerous; viṣaya—material affairs; viṣa—of poison; jala-āśaya—ocean; āśāyāḥ—from desires; upararāma—got relief.
Svāyambhuva Manu, with the assistance of Lord Brahmā, thus fulfilled his desires. With the permission of the great sage Nārada, he delivered to his son the governmental responsibility for maintaining and protecting all the planets of the universe. He thus achieved relief from the most dangerous, poisonous ocean of material desires.
Svāyambhuva Manu was practically hopeless because such a great personality as Nārada was instructing his son Priyavrata not to accept household life. Now he was very pleased that Lord Brahmā had interfered by inducing his son to accept the responsibility for ruling the government of the universe. From Bhagavad-gītā we get information that Vaivasvata Manu was the son of the sun-god and that his son, Mahārāja Ikṣvāku, ruled this planet earth. Svāyambhuva Manu, however, appears to have been in charge of the entire universe, and he entrusted to his son, Mahārāja Priyavrata, the responsibility for maintaining and protecting all the planetary systems. Dharā-maṇḍala means "planet." This earth, for instance, is called dharā-maṇḍala. Akhila, however, means "all" or "universal." It is therefore difficult to understand where Mahārāja Priyavrata was situated, but from this literature his position certainly appears greater than that of Vaivasvata Manu, for he was entrusted with all the planetary systems of the entire universe.
Another significant statement is that Svāyambhuva Manu took great satisfaction from abnegating the responsibility for ruling all the planetary systems of the universe. At present, politicians are very eager to take charge of the government, and they engage their men in canvassing from door to door to get votes to win the post of president or a similar exalted office. On the contrary, however, herein we find that King Priyavrata had to be persuaded by Lord Brahmā to accept the post of emperor of the entire universe. Similarly, his father, Svāyambhuva Manu, felt relieved to entrust the universal government to Priyavrata. Thus it is evident that the kings and executive heads of government in the Vedic age never accepted their positions for sense enjoyment. Such exalted kings, who were known as rājarṣis, ruled only to maintain and protect the kingdom for the welfare of the citizens. The history of Priyavrata and Svāyambhuva Manu describes how exemplary, responsible monarchs performed the duties of government with disinterest, keeping themselves always aloof from the contamination of material attachment.
Material affairs have herein been compared to an ocean of poison. They have been described in a similar way by Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura in one of his songs:
divā-niśi hiyā jvale,
juḍāite nā kainu upāya
"My heart is always burning in the fire of material existence, and I have made no provisions for getting out of it."
rati nā janmila kene tāya
"The only remedy is hari-nāma-saṅkīrtana, the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, which is imported from the spiritual world, Goloka Vṛndāvana. How unfortunate I am that I have no attraction for this." Manu wanted to seek shelter at the lotus feet of the Lord, and therefore when his son Priyavrata took charge of his worldly affairs, Manu was very relieved. That is the system of Vedic civilization. At the end of life, one must free himself from worldly affairs and completely engage in the service of the Lord.
The word surarṣi-vara-anumatena is also significant. Manu entrusted the government to his son with the permission of the great saint Nārada. This is particularly mentioned because although Nārada wanted Priyavrata to become free from all material affairs, when Priyavrata took charge of the universe by the request of Lord Brahmā and Manu, Nārada was also very pleased.
iti ha vāva sa jagatī-patir īśvarecchayādhiniveśita-karmādhikāro
‘khila-jagad-bandha-dhvaṁsana-parānubhāvasya bhagavata ādi-
kaṣāyāśayo ‘vadāto ‘pi māna-vardhano mahatāṁ mahītalam anuśaśāsa.
iti—thus; ha vāva—indeed; saḥ—he; jagatī-patiḥ—the emperor of the whole universe; īśvara-icchayā—by the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; adhiniveśita—completely engaged; karma-adhikāraḥ—in material affairs; akhila-jagat—of the entire universe; bandha—bondage; dhvaṁsana—destroying; para—transcendental; anubhāvasya—whose influence; bhagavataḥ—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; ādi-puruṣasya—the original person; aṅghri—on the lotus feet; yugala—two; anavarata—constant; dhyāna-anubhāvena—by meditation; parirandhita—destroyed; kaṣāya—all the dirty things; āśayaḥ—in his heart; avadātaḥ—completely pure; api—although; māna-vardhanaḥ—just to give honor; mahatām—to superiors; mahītalam—the material world; anuśaśāsa—ruled.
Following the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Mahārāja Priyavrata fully engaged in worldly affairs, yet he always thought of the lotus feet of the Lord, which are the cause of liberation from all material attachment. Although Priyavrata Mahārāja was completely freed from all material contamination, he ruled the material world just to honor the orders of his superiors.
The words māna-vardhano mahatām ("just to show honor to superiors") are very significant. Although Mahārāja Priyavrata was already a liberated person and had no attraction for material things, he engaged himself fully in governmental affairs just to show respect to Lord Brahmā. Arjuna had also acted in the same way. Arjuna had no desire to participate in political affairs or the fighting at Kurukṣetra, but when ordered to do so by the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, he executed those duties very nicely. One who always thinks of the lotus feet of the Lord is certainly above all the contamination of the material world. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā:
yoginām api sarveṣāṁ
śraddhāvān bhajate yo māṁ
sa me yuktatamo mataḥ
"Of all yogīs, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all." (Bg. 6.47) Mahārāja Priyavrata, therefore, was a liberated person and was among the highest of yogīs, yet superficially he became the emperor of the universe in accordance with the order of Lord Brahmā. Showing respect to his superior in this way was another of his extraordinary qualifications. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.17.28):
na kutaścana bibhyati
A devotee who is actually advanced is not afraid of anything, provided be has the opportunity to execute the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is the proper explanation of why Priyavrata engaged in worldly affairs although he was a liberated person. Also, only because of this principle does a mahā-bhāgavata, who has nothing to do with the material world, come down to the second platform of devotional service to preach the glories of the Lord all over the world.
atha ca duhitaraṁ prajāpater viśvakarmaṇa
nāma tasyām u ha vāva ātmajān ātma-samāna-śīla-guṇa-karma-rūpa-
vīryodārān daśa bhāvayām babhūva kanyāṁ ca yavīyasīm ūrjasvatīṁ
atha—thereafter; ca—also; duhitaram—the daughter; prajāpateḥ—of one of the prajāpatis entrusted with increasing population; viśvakarmaṇaḥ—named Viśvakarmā; upayeme—married; barhiṣmatīm—Barhiṣmatī; nāma—named; tasyām—in her; u ha—as it is celebrated; vāva—wonderful; ātma-jān—sons; ātma-samāna—exactly equal to him; śīla—character; guṇa—quality; karma—activities; rūpa—beauty; vīrya—prowess; udārān—whose magnanimity; daśa—ten; bhāvayām babhūva—he begot; kanyām—daughter; ca—also; yavīyasīm—the youngest of all; ūrjasvatīm—Ūrjasvatī; nāma—named.
Thereafter, Mahārāja Priyavrata married Barhiṣmatī, the daughter of the prajāpati named Viśvakarmā. In her he begot ten sons equal to him in beauty, character, magnanimity and other qualities. He also begot a daughter, the youngest of all, named Ūrjasvatī.
Mahārāja Priyavrata not only carried out the order of Lord Brahmā by accepting the duties of government, but also married Barhiṣmatī, the daughter of Viśvakarmā, one of the prajāpatis. Since Mahārāja Priyavrata was fully trained in transcendental knowledge, he could have returned home and conducted the business of government as a brahmacārī. Instead, however, when he returned to household life, he accepted a wife also. The principle is that when one becomes a gṛhastha, he must live perfectly in that order, which means he must live peacefully with a wife and children. When Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s first wife died, His mother requested Him to marry for a second time. He was twenty years old and was going to take sannyāsa at the age of twenty-four, yet by the request of His mother, He married. "As long as I am in household life," He told His mother, "I must have a wife, for household life does not mean staying in a house. Real household life means living in a house with a wife."
Three words in this verse are very significant—u ha vāva. These words are used to express wonder. Priyavrata Mahārāja had taken a vow of renunciation, but accepting a wife and begetting children have nothing to do with the path of renunciation; these are activities on the path of enjoyment. It was a source of great wonder, therefore, that Priyavrata Mahārāja, who had followed the path of renunciation, had now accepted the path of enjoyment.
Sometimes we are criticized because although I am a sannyāsī, I have taken part in the marriage ceremonies of my disciples. It must be explained, however, that since we have started a Kṛṣṇa conscious society and since a human society must also have ideal marriages, to correctly establish an ideal society we must take part in marrying some of its members, although we have taken to the path of renunciation. This may be astonishing to persons who are not very interested in establishing daiva-varṇāśrama, the transcendental system of four social orders and four spiritual orders. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, however, wanted to reestablish daiva-varṇāśrama. In daiva-varṇāśrama there cannot be acknowledgement of social status according to birthright because in Bhagavad-gītā it is said that the determining considerations are guṇa and karma, one’s qualities and work. It is this daiva-varṇāśrama that should be established all over the world to continue a perfect society for Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This may be astonishing to foolish critics, but it is one of the functions of a Kṛṣṇa conscious society.
savana-medhātithi-vītihotra-kavaya iti sarva evāgni-nāmānaḥ.
āgnīdhra—Āgnīdhra; idhma-jihva—Idhmajihva; yajña-bāhu—Yajñabāhu; mahā-vīra—Mahāvīra; hiraṇya-retaḥ—Hiraṇyaretā; ghṛtapṛṣṭha—Ghṛtapṛṣṭha; savana—Savana; medhā-tithi—Medhātithi; vītihotra—Vītihotra; kavayaḥ—and Kavi; iti—thus; sarve—all these; eva—certainly; agni—of the demigod controlling fire; nāmānaḥ—names.
The ten sons of Mahārāja Priyavrata were named Āgnīdhra, Idhmajihva, Yajñabāhu, Mahāvīra, Hiraṇyaretā, Ghṛtapṛṣṭha, Savana, Medhātithi, Vītihotra and Kavi. These are also names of Agni, the fire-god.
eteṣāṁ kavir mahāvīraḥ savana iti
traya āsann ūrdhva-retasas ta ātma-
vidyāyām arbha-bhāvād ārabhya kṛta-paricayāḥ pāramahaṁsyam
eteṣām—of these; kaviḥ—Kavi; mahāvīraḥ—Mahāvīra; savanaḥ—Savana; iti—thus; trayaḥ—three; āsan—were; ūrdhva-retasaḥ—completely celibate; te—they; ātma-vidyāyām—in transcendental knowledge; arbha-bhāvāt—from childhood; ārabhya—beginning; kṛta-paricayāḥ—very well versed; pāramahaṁsyam—of the highest spiritual perfection of human life; eva—certainly; āśramam—the order; abhajan—executed.
Three among these ten—namely Kavi, Mahāvīra and Savana—lived in complete celibacy. Thus trained in brahmacārī life from the beginning of childhood, they were very conversant with the highest perfection, known as the paramahaṁsa-āśrama.
The word ūrdhva-retasaḥ in this verse is very significant. Ūrdhva-retaḥ refers to one who can control sex life and who instead of wasting semina by discharging it, can use this most important substance accumulated in the body to enrich the brain. One who can completely control sex life is able to work wonderfully with his brain, especially in remembering. Thus students who simply hear Vedic instructions once from their teacher could remember them verbatim without needing to read books, which therefore did not exist in former times.
Another significant word is arbha-bhāvāt, which means "from very childhood." Another meaning is "from being very affectionate to children." In other words, paramahaṁsa life is dedicated for the benefit of others. Just as a father sacrifices many things out of affection for his son, great saintly persons sacrifice all kinds of bodily comforts for the benefit of human society. In this connection there is a verse concerning the six Gosvāmīs:
tyaktvā tūrṇam aśeṣa-maṇḍala-pati-śreṇīṁ
bhūtvā dīna-gaṇeśakau karuṇayā kaupīna-kanthāśritau
Because of their compassion for the poor fallen souls, the six Gosvāmīs gave up their exalted positions as ministers and took vows as mendicants. Thus minimizing their bodily wants as far as possible, they each accepted only a loincloth and a begging bowl. Thus they remained in Vṛndāvana to execute the orders of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu by compiling and publishing various Vaiṣṇava literatures.
tasminn u ha vā upaśama-śīlāḥ
nikāyāvāsasya bhagavato vāsudevasya bhītānāṁ śaraṇa-bhūtasya
bhāvena paribhāvitāntar-hṛdayādhigate bhagavati sarveṣāṁ bhūtānām
ātma-bhūte pratyag-ātmany evātmanas tādātmyam aviśeṣeṇa samīyuḥ.
tasmin—in that paramahaṁsa-āśrama; u—certainly; ha—so celebrated; vā—indeed; upaśama-śīlāḥ—in the renounced order of life; parama-ṛṣayaḥ—the great sages; sakala—all; jīva—of living entities; nikāya—in total; āvāsasya—the residence; bhagavataḥ—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; vāsudevasya—Lord Vāsudeva; bhītānām—of those afraid of material existence; śaraṇa-bhūtasya—the one who is the only shelter; śrīmat—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; caraṇa-aravinda—the lotus feet; avirata—constantly; smaraṇa—remembering; avigalita—completely uncontaminated; parama—supreme; bhakti-yoga—of mystic devotional service; anubhāvena—by the prowess; paribhāvita—purified; antaḥ—within; hṛdaya—the heart; adhigate—perceived; bhagavati—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; sarveṣām—of all; bhūtānām—living entities; ātma-bhūte—situated within the body; pratyak—directly; ātmani—with the Supreme Supersoul; eva—certainly; ātmanaḥ—of the self; tādātmyam—qualitative equality; aviśeṣeṇa—without differences; samīyuḥ—realized.
Thus situated in the renounced order from the beginning of their lives, all three of them completely controlled the activities of their senses and thus became great saints. They concentrated their minds always upon the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the resting place of the totality of living entities and who is therefore celebrated as Vāsudeva. Lord Vāsudeva is the only shelter of those who are actually afraid of material existence. By constantly thinking of His lotus feet, these three sons of Mahārāja Priyavrata became advanced in pure devotional service. By the prowess of their devotional service, they could directly perceive the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is situated in everyone’s heart as the Supersoul, and realize that there was qualitatively no difference between themselves and Him.
The paramahaṁsa stage is the topmost position in renounced life. In sannyāsa, the renounced order, there are four stages—kuṭīcaka, bahūdaka, parivrājakācārya and paramahaṁsa. According to the Vedic system, when one accepts the renounced order, he stays outside his village in a cottage, and his necessities, especially his food, are supplied from home. This is called the kuṭīcaka stage. When a sannyāsī advances further, he no longer accepts anything from home: instead, he collects his necessities, especially his food, from many places. This system is called mādhukarī, which literally means "the profession of the bumblebees." As bumblebees collect honey from many flowers, a little from each, so a sannyāsī should beg from door to door but not accept very much food from any particular house; he should collect a little bit from every house. This is called the bahūdaka stage. When a sannyāsī is still more experienced, he travels all over the world to preach the glories of Lord Vāsudeva. He is then known as parivrājakācārya. The sannyāsī reaches the paramahaṁsa stage when he finishes his preaching work and sits down in one place, strictly for the sake of advancing in spiritual life. An actual paramahaṁsa is one who completely controls his senses and engages in the unalloyed service of the Lord. Therefore all three of these sons of Priyavrata, namely Kavi, Mahāvīra and Savana, were situated in the paramahaṁsa stage from the very beginning. Their senses could not disturb them, for their senses were completely engaged in serving the Lord. Therefore the three brothers are described in this verse as upaśama-śīlāḥ. Upaśama means "completely subdued." Because they completely subdued their senses, they are understood to have been great sages and saints.
After subduing their senses, the three brothers concentrated their minds upon the lotus feet of Vāsudeva, Lord Kṛṣṇa. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (7.19), vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti. The lotus feet of Vāsudeva are everything. Lord Vāsudeva is the reservoir of all living entities. When this cosmic manifestation is dissolved, all living entities enter the supreme body of the Lord, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, who merges within the body of Mahā-Viṣṇu. Both of these viṣṇu-tattvas are vāsudeva-tattvas, and therefore the great sages Kavi, Mahāvīra and Savana concentrated always upon the lotus feet of Lord Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa. In this way they could understand that the Supersoul within the heart is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and they could recognize their identity with Him. The complete description of this realization is that simply by discharging the unalloyed form of devotional service, one can realize his self completely. The parama-bhakti-yoga mentioned in this verse means that a living entity, by dint of unalloyed devotional service, has no other interest than the service of the Lord, as described in Bhagavad-gītā (vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti). By parama-bhakti-yoga, by elevating oneself to the highest platform of loving service, one can automatically be relieved from the bodily concept of life and see the Supreme Personality of Godhead face to face. As confirmed in Brahma-saṁhitā:
santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti
yaṁ śyāmasundaram acintya-guṇa-svarūpaṁ
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
An advanced devotee, who is known as a sat, or saint, can always see within his heart the Supreme Personality of Godhead, face to face. Kṛṣṇa, Śyāmasundara, expands Himself by His plenary portion, and thus a devotee can always see Him within his heart.
anyasyām api jāyāyāṁ trayaḥ
putrā āsann uttamas tāmaso raivata iti
anyasyām—other; api—also; jāyāyām—in the wife; trayaḥ—three; putrāḥ—sons; āsan—there were; uttamaḥ tāmasaḥ raivataḥ—Uttama, Tāmasa and Raivata; iti—thus; manu-antara—of the manvantara millennium; adhipatayaḥ—rulers.
In his other wife, Mahārāja Priyavrata begot three sons, named Uttama, Tāmasa and Raivata. All of them later took charge of manvantara millenniums.
In every day of Brahmā there are fourteen manvantaras. The duration of one manvantara, the lifespan of one Manu, is seventy-one yugas, and each yuga is 4,320,000 years. Almost all the Manus selected to rule the manvantaras came from the family of Mahārāja Priyavrata. Three of them are particularly mentioned herein, namely Uttama, Tāmasa and Raivata.
evam upaśamāyaneṣu sva-tanayeṣv atha
arbudāny ekādaśa parivatsarāṇām avyāhatākhila-puruṣa-kāra-sāra-
dharma-pratipakṣo barhiṣmatyāś cānudinam edhamāna-pramoda-
parābhūyamāna-viveka ivānavabudhyamāna iva mahāmanā bubhuje.
evam—thus; upaśama-ayaneṣu—all well qualified; sva-tanayeṣu—his own sons; atha—thereafter; jagatī-patiḥ—the master of the universe; jagatīm—the universe; arbudāni—arbudas (one arbuda equals 100,000,000); ekādaśa—eleven; parivatsarāṇām—of years; avyāhata—without being interrupted; akhila—universal; puruṣa-kāra—prowess; sāra—strength; sambhṛta—endowed with; doḥ-daṇḍaḥ—of powerful arms; yugala—by the pair; āpīḍita—being drawn; maurvī-guṇa—of the bowstring; stanita—by the loud sound; viramita—defeated; dharma—religious principles; pratipakṣaḥ—those who are against; barhiṣmatyāḥ—of his wife Barhiṣmatī; ca—and; anudinam—daily; edhamāna—increasing; pramoda—pleasing intercourse; prasaraṇa—amiability; yauṣiṇya—feminine behavior; vrīḍā—by shyness; pramuṣita—held back; hāsa—laughing; avaloka—glancing; rucira—pleasing; kṣveli-ādibhiḥ—by exchanges of loving propensities; parābhūyamāna—being defeated; vivekaḥ—his true knowledge; iva—like; anavabudhyamānaḥ—a less intelligent person; iva—like; mahā-manāḥ—the great soul; bubhuje—ruled.
After Kavi, Mahāvīra and Savana were completely trained in the paramahaṁsa stage of life, Mahārāja Priyavrata ruled the universe for eleven arbudas of years. Whenever he was determined to fix his arrow upon his bowstring with his two powerful arms, all opponents of the regulative principles of religious life would flee from his presence in fear of the unparalleled prowess he displayed in ruling the universe. He greatly loved his wife Barhiṣmatī, and with the increase of days, their exchange of nuptial love also increased. By her feminine behavior as she dressed herself, walked, got up, smiled, laughed, and glanced about, Queen Barhiṣmatī increased his energy. Thus although he was a great soul, he appeared lost in the feminine conduct of his wife. He behaved with her just like an ordinary man, but actually he was a great soul.
In this verse, the word dharma-pratipakṣaḥ ("opponents of religious principles") refers not to a particular faith, but to varṇāśrama-dharma, the division of society, socially and spiritually, into four varṇas (brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra) and four āśramas (brahmacarya, gṛhastha, vānaprastha and sannyāsa). To maintain proper social order and help the citizens gradually progress toward the goal of life—namely spiritual understanding—the principles of varṇāśrama-dharma must be accepted. From this verse, Mahārāja Priyavrata appears to have been so strict in maintaining this institution of varṇāśrama-dharma that anyone neglecting it would immediately flee from his presence as soon as the King warned him by fighting or administering light punishment. Indeed, Mahārāja Priyavrata would not have to fight, for simply because of his strong determination, they dared not disobey the rules and regulations of varṇāśrama-dharma. It is said that unless human society is regulated by varṇāśrama-dharma, it is no better than a bestial society of cats and dogs. Mahārāja Priyavrata, therefore, strictly maintained varṇāśrama-dharma by his extraordinary, unparalleled prowess.
To maintain such a life of strict vigilance, one needs encouragement from his wife. In the varṇāśrama-dharma system, certain classes, such as the brāhmaṇas and sannyāsīs, do not need encouragement from the opposite sex. Kṣatriyas and gṛhasthas, however, actually need the encouragement of their wives in order to execute their duties. Indeed, a gṛhastha or kṣatriya cannot properly execute his responsibilities without the association of his wife. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu personally admitted that a gṛhastha must live with a wife. Kṣatriyas were even allowed to have many wives to encourage them in discharging the duties of government. The association of a good wife is necessary in a life of karma and political affairs. To execute his duties properly, therefore, Mahārāja Priyavrata took advantage of his good wife Barhiṣmatī, who was always very expert in pleasing her great husband by properly dressing herself, smiling, and exhibiting her feminine bodily features. Queen Barhiṣmatī always kept Mahārāja Priyavrata very encouraged, and thus he executed his governmental duty very properly. In this verse iva has twice been used to indicate that Mahārāja Priyavrata acted exactly like a henpecked husband and thereby seemed to have lost his sense of human responsibility. Actually, however, he was fully conscious of his position as a spirit soul, although he seemingly behaved like an acquiescent karmī husband. Mahārāja Priyavrata thus ruled the universe for eleven arbudas of years. One arbuda consists of 100,000,000 years, and Mahārāja Priyavrata ruled the universe for eleven such arbudas.
yāvad avabhāsayati sura-girim anuparikrāman
vasudhā-talam ardhenaiva pratapaty ardhenāvacchādayati tadā hi
bhagavad-upāsanopacitāti-puruṣa-prabhāvas tad anabhinandan
samajavena rathena jyotirmayena rajanīm api dinaṁ kariṣyāmīti sapta-
kṛt vastaraṇim anuparyakrāmad dvitīya iva pataṅgaḥ.
yāvat—so long; avabhāsayati—illuminates; sura-girim—the Sumeru Hill; anuparikrāman—by circumambulating; bhagavān—the most powerful; ādityaḥ—sun-god; vasudhā-talam—the lower planetary system; ardhena—by half; eva—certainly; pratapati—makes dazzling; ardhena—by half; avacchādayati—covers with darkness; tadā—at that time; hi—certainly; bhagavat-upāsanā—by worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead; upacita—by satisfying Him perfectly; ati-puruṣa—superhuman; prabhāvaḥ—influence; tat—that; anabhinandan—without appreciating; samajavena—by equally powerful; rathena—on a chariot; jyotiḥ-mayena—dazzling; rajanīm—night; api—also; dinam—day; kariṣyāmi—I shall make it; iti—thus; sapta-kṛt—seven times; vastaraṇim—exactly following the orbit of the sun; anuparyakrāmat—circumambulated; dvitīyaḥ—second; iva—like; pataṅgaḥ—sun.
While so excellently ruling the universe, King Priyavrata once became dissatisfied with the circumambulation of the most powerful sun-god. Encircling Sumeru Hill on his chariot, the sun-god illuminates all the surrounding planetary systems. However, when the sun is on the northern side of the hill, the south receives less light, and when the sun is in the south, the north receives less. King Priyavrata disliked this situation and therefore decided to make daylight in the part of the universe where there was night. He followed the orbit of the sun-god on a brilliant chariot and thus fulfilled his desire. He could perform such wonderful activities because of the power he had achieved by worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
There is a Bengali saying which describes that someone is so powerful that he can make the night day and the day night. That saying is current because of the prowess of Priyavrata. His activities demonstrate how powerful he became by worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Kṛṣṇa is known as Yogeśvara, the master of all mystic powers. In Bhagavad-gītā (18.78) it is said wherever there is the master of all mystic powers (yatra yogeśvaraḥ kṛṣṇaḥ), victory, fortune and all other opulences are present. Devotional service is so powerful. When a devotee achieves what he wants to accomplish, it is not by his own mystic power but by the grace of the master of mystic power. Lord Kṛṣṇa: by His grace, a devotee can accomplish wonderful things unimaginable even to the most powerful scientist.
From the description in this verse, it appears that the sun moves. According to modern astronomers, the sun is fixed in one place, surrounded by the solar system, but here we find that the sun is not stationary; it is rotating in a prescribed orbit. This fact is corroborated by Brahma-saṁhitā (5.52). Yasyājñayā bhramati saṁbhṛta-kāla-cakraḥ: the sun is rotating in its fixed orbit in accordance with the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. According to Jyotir Veda, the science of astronomy in the Vedic literature, the sun moves for six months on the northern side of the Sumeru Hill and for six months on the southern side. We have practical experience on this planet that when there is summer in the north there is winter in the south and vice versa. Modern materialistic scientists sometimes present themselves as knowing all the ingredients of the sun, yet they are unable to offer a second sun like Mahārāja Priyavrata’s.
Although Mahārāja Priyavrata devised a very powerful chariot as brilliant as the sun, he had no desire to compete with the sun-god, for a Vaiṣṇava never wants to supersede another Vaiṣṇava. His purpose was to give abundant benefits in material existence. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura remarks that in the months of April and May the rays of Mahārāja Priyavrata’s brilliant sun were as pleasing as the rays of the moon, and in October and November, both morning and evening, that sun provided more warmth than the sunshine. In short, Mahārāja Priyavrata was extremely powerful, and his actions extended his power in all directions.
ye vā u ha tad-ratha-caraṇa-nemi-kṛta-parikhātās
te sapta sindhava
āsan yata eva kṛtāḥ sapta bhuvo dvīpāḥ.
ye—that; vā u ha—certainly; tat-ratha—of his chariot; caraṇa—of the wheels; nemi—by the rims; kṛta—made; parikhātāḥ—trenches; te—those; sapta—seven; sindhavaḥ—oceans; āsan—became; yataḥ—because of which; eva—certainly; kṛtāḥ—were made; sapta—seven; bhuvaḥ—of the Bhū-maṇḍala; dvīpāḥ—islands.
When Priyavrata drove his chariot behind the sun, the rims of his chariot wheels created impressions that later became seven oceans, dividing the planetary system known as Bhū-maṇḍala into seven islands.
Sometimes the planets in outer space are called islands. We have experience of various types of islands in the ocean, and similarly the various planets, divided into fourteen lokas, are islands in the ocean of space. As Priyavrata drove his chariot behind the sun, he created seven different types of oceans and planetary systems, which altogether are known as Bhū-maṇḍala, or Bhūloka. In the Gāyatrī mantra, we chant, oṁ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ tat savitur vareṇyam. Above the Bhuloka planetary system is Bhuvarloka, and above that is Svargaloka, the heavenly planetary system. All these planetary systems are controlled by Savitā, the sun-god. By chanting the Gāyatrī mantra just after rising early in the morning, one worships the sun-god.
parimāṇaṁ pūrvasmāt pūrvasmād uttara uttaro yathā-saṅkhyaṁ dvi-
guṇa-mānena bahiḥ samantata upakḷptāḥ.
jambū—Jambū; plakṣa—Plakṣa; śālmali—Śālmali; kuśa—Kuśa; krauñca—Krauñca; śāka—Śāka; puṣkara—Puṣkara; saṁjñāḥ—known as; teṣām—of them; parimāṇam—measurement; pūrvasmāt pūrvasmāt—from the former; uttaraḥ uttaraḥ—the following; yathā—according to; saṅkhyam—number; dvi-guṇa—twice as much; mānena—with a measure; bahiḥ—outside; samantataḥ—all around; upakḷptāḥ—produced.
The names of the islands are Jambū, Plakṣa, Śālmali, Kuśa, Krauñca, Śāka and Puṣkara. Each island is twice as large as the one preceding it, and each is surrounded by a liquid substance, beyond which is the next island.
The ocean in each planetary system has a different type of liquid. How they are situated is explained in the next verse.
sapta jaladhayaḥ sapta dvīpa-parikhā ivābhyantara-dvīpa-samānā
ekaikaśyena yathānupūrvaṁ saptasv api bahir dvīpeṣu pṛthak parita
upakalpitās teṣu jambv-ādiṣu barhiṣmatī-patir anuvratānātmajān
vītihotra-saṁjñān yathā-saṅkhyenaikaikasminn ekam evādhi-patiṁ
kṣāra—salt; uda—water; ikṣu-rasa—the liquid extract from sugarcane; uda—water; surā—liquor; uda—water; ghṛta—clarified butter; uda—water; kṣīra—milk; uda—water; dadhi-maṇḍa—emulsified yogurt; uda—water; śuddha-udāḥ—and drinking water; sapta—seven; jala-dhayaḥ—oceans; sapta—seven; dvīpa—islands; parikhāḥ—trenches; iva—like; abhyantara—internal; dvīpa—islands; samānāḥ—equal to; eka-ekaśyena—one after another; yathā-anupūrvam—in chronological order; saptasu—seven; api—although; bahiḥ—outside; dvīpeṣu—in islands; pṛthak—separate; paritaḥ—all around; upakalpitāḥ—situated; teṣu—within them; jambū-ādiṣu—beginning with Jambū; barhiṣmatī—of Barhiṣmatī; patiḥ—the husband; anuvratān—who were actually followers of the father’s principles; ātma-jān—sons; āgnīdhra-idhmajihva-yajñabāhu-hiraṇyaretaḥ-ghṛtapṛṣṭha-medhātithi-vītihotra-saṁjñān—named Āgnīḍhra, Idhmajihva, Yajñabāhu, Hiraṇyaretā, Ghṛtapṛṣṭha, Medhātithi and Vītihotra; yathā-saṅkhyena—by the same number; eka-ekasmin—in each island; ekam—one; eva—certainly; adhi-patim—king; vidadhe—he made.
The seven oceans respectively contain salt water, sugarcane juice, liquor, clarified butter, milk, emulsified yogurt, and sweet drinking water. All the islands are completely surrounded by these oceans, and each ocean is equal in breadth to the island it surrounds. Mahārāja Priyavrata, the husband of Queen Barhiṣmatī, gave sovereignty over these islands to his respective sons, namely Āgnīdhra, Idhmajihva, Yajñabāhu, Hiraṇyaretā, Ghṛtapṛṣṭha, Medhātithi and Vītihotra. Thus they all became kings by the order of their father.
It is to be understood that all the dvīpas, or islands, are surrounded by different types of oceans, and it is said herein that the breadth of each ocean is the same as that of the island it surrounds. The length of the oceans, however, cannot equal the length of the islands. According to Vīrarāghava Ācārya, the breadth of the first island is 100,000 yojanas. One yojana equals eight miles, and therefore the breadth of the first island is calculated to be 800,000 miles. The water surrounding it must have the same breadth, but its length must be different.
duhitaraṁ corjasvatīṁ nāmośanase
prāyacchad yasyām āsīd devayānī
duhitaram—the daughter; ca—also; ūrjasvatīm—Ūrjasvatī; nāma—named; uśanase—unto the great sage Uśanā (Śukrācārya); prāyacchat—he gave; yasyām—unto whom; āsīt—there was; devayānī—Devayānī; nāma—named; kāvya-sutā—the daughter of Śukrācārya.
King Priyavrata then gave his daughter, Ūrjasvatī, in marriage to Śukrācārya, who begot in her a daughter named Devayānī.
naivaṁ-vidhaḥ puruṣa-kāra urukramasya
puṁsāṁ tad-aṅghri-rajasā jita-ṣaḍ-guṇānām
citraṁ vidūra-vigataḥ sakṛd ādadīta
yan-nāmadheyam adhunā sa jahāti bandham
na—not; evam-vidhaḥ—like that; puruṣa-kāraḥ—personal influence; uru-kramasya—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; puṁsām—of the devotees; tat-aṅghri—of His lotus feet; rajasā—by the dust; jita-ṣaṭ-guṇānām—who have conquered the influence of the six kinds of material whips; citram—wonderful; vidūra-vigataḥ—the fifth-grade person, or the untouchable; sakṛt—only once; ādadīta—if he utters; yat—whose; nāmadheyam—holy name; adhunā—immediately; saḥ—he; jahāti—gives up; bandham—material bondage.
My dear King, a devotee who has taken shelter of the dust from the lotus feet of the Lord can transcend the influence of the six material whips—namely hunger, thirst, lamentation, illusion, old age and death—and he can conquer the mind and five senses. However, this is not very wonderful for a pure devotee of the Lord because even a person beyond the jurisdiction of the four castes—in other words, an untouchable—is immediately relieved of bondage to material existence if he utters the holy name of the Lord even once.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī was speaking to Mahārāja Parīkṣit about the activities of King Priyavrata, and since the King might have had doubts about these wonderful, uncommon activities, Śukadeva Gosvāmī reassured him. "My dear King," he said, "don’t be doubtful about the wonderful activities of Priyavrata. For a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, everything is possible because the Lord is also known as Urukrama." Urukrama is a name for Lord Vāmanadeva, who performed the wonderful act of occupying the three worlds with three footsteps. Lord Vāmanadeva requested three paces of land from Mahārāja Bali, and when Mahārāja Bali agreed to grant them, the Lord immediately covered the entire world with two footsteps, and for His third step He placed His foot upon Bali Mahārāja’s head. Śrī Jayadeva Gosvāmī says:
chalayasi vikramaṇe balim
keśava dhṛta-vamāna-rūpa jaya jagadīśa hare
"All glories to Lord Keśava, who assumed the form of a dwarf. O Lord of the universe, who takes away everything inauspicious for the devotees! O wonderful Vāmanadeva! You tricked the great demon Bali Mahārāja by Your steps. The water that touched the nails of Your lotus feet when You pierced through the covering of the universe purifies all living entities in the form of the River Ganges."
Since the Supreme Lord is all-powerful, He can do things that seem wonderful for a common man. Similarly, a devotee who has taken shelter at the lotus feet of the Lord can also do wonderful things, unimaginable to a common man, by the grace of the dust of those lotus feet. Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore teaches us to take shelter of the Lord’s lotus feet:
ayi nanda-tanuja kiṅkaraṁ
patitaṁ māṁ viṣame bhavāṁbudhau
kṛpayā tava pāda-paṅkaja-
"O son of Nanda Mahārāja, I am Your eternal servant, yet somehow or other I have fallen into the ocean of birth and death. Please pick me up from this ocean of death and place me as one of the atoms of Your lotus feet." Lord Caitanya teaches us to come in touch with the dust of the Lord’s lotus feet, for then there will undoubtedly be all success.
Because of the material body, every living entity in material existence is always disturbed by sad-guṇa, six whips—hunger, thirst, lamentation, illusion, invalidity and death. Furthermore, another sad-guṇa are the mind and five sense organs. Not to speak of a sanctified devotee, even a caṇḍāla, an outcaste, who is untouchable, is immediately freed from material bondage if he utters the holy name of the Lord even once. Sometimes caste brāhmaṇas argue that unless one changes his body he cannot be accepted as a brāhmaṇa, for since the present body is obtained as a result of past actions, one who has in the past acted as a brāhmaṇa takes birth in a brāhmaṇa family. Therefore, they contend, without such a brahminical body, one cannot be accepted as a brāhmaṇa. Herein it is said, however, that even vidūra-vigata, a caṇḍāla—a fifth-class untouchable—is freed if he utters the holy name even once. Being freed means that he immediately changes his body. Sanātana Gosvāmī confirms this:
dvijatvaṁ jāyate nṛṇām
When a person, even though a caṇḍāla, is initiated by a pure devotee into chanting the holy name of the Lord, his body changes as he follows the instructions of the spiritual master. Although one cannot see how his body has changed, we must accept, on the grounds of the authoritative statements of the śāstras, that he changes his body. This is to be understood without arguments. This verse clearly says, sa jahāti bandham: "He gives up his material bondage." The body is a symbolic representation of material bondage according to one’s karma. Although sometimes we cannot see the gross body changing, chanting the holy name of the Supreme Lord immediately changes the subtle body, and because the subtle body changes, the living entity is immediately freed from material bondage. After all, changes of the gross body are conducted by the subtle body. After the destruction of the gross body, the subtle body takes the living entity from his present gross body to another. In the subtle body, the mind is predominant, and therefore if one’s mind is always absorbed in remembering the activities or the lotus feet of the Lord, he is to be understood to have already changed his present body and become purified. Therefore it is irrefutable that a caṇḍāla, or any fallen or lowborn person, can become a brāhmaṇa simply by the method of bona fide initiation.
sa evam aparimita-bala-parākrama ekadā tu devarṣi-
ivātmānaṁ manyamāna ātma-nirveda idam āha.
saḥ—he (Mahārāja Priyavrata); evam—thus; aparimita—unparalleled; bala—strength; parākramaḥ—whose influence; ekadā—once upon a time; tu—then; deva-ṛṣi—of the great saint Nārada; caraṇa-anuśayana—surrendering unto the lotus feet; anu—thereafter; patita—fallen down; guṇa-visarga—with material affairs (created by the three material modes of nature); saṁsargeṇa—by connection; anirvṛtam—not satisfied; iva—like; ātmānam—himself; manyamānaḥ—thinking like that; ātma—self; nirvedaḥ—possessing renunciation; idam—this; āha—said.
While enjoying his material opulences with full strength and influence, Mahārāja Priyavrata once began to consider that although he had fully surrendered to the great saint Nārada and was actually on the path of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he had somehow become again entangled in material activities. Thus his mind now became restless, and he began to speak in a spirit of renunciation.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.5.17) it is said:
tyaktvā sva-dharmaṁ caraṇāmbujaṁ
bhajann apakvo ‘tha patet tato yadi
yatra kva vābhadram abhūd amuṣya kiṁ
ko vārtha āpto ‘bhajatāṁ sva-dharmataḥ
"One who has forsaken his material occupations to engage in the devotional service of the Lord may sometimes fall down while in an immature stage, yet there is no danger of his being unsuccessful. On the other hand, a nondevotee, though fully engaged in occupational duties, does not gain anything." If one somehow or other comes to the shelter of a great Vaiṣṇava, takes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness because of sentiment or realization, but in course of time falls down because of immature understanding, he is not actually fallen, for his having engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is a permanent asset. If one falls down, therefore, his progress might be checked for a certain time, but it will again become manifest at an opportune moment. Although Priyavrata Mahārāja was serving according to the instructions of Nārada Muni meant for going back home, back to Godhead, he returned to material affairs at the request of his father. In due course of time, however, his consciousness for serving Kṛṣṇa reawakened by the grace of his spiritual master, Nārada.
As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (6.41), śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe yoga-bhraṣṭo ‘bhijāyate. One who falls down from the process of bhakti-yoga is again offered the opulence of the demigods, and after enjoying such material opulence, he is given a chance to take birth in a noble family of a pure brāhmaṇa, or in a rich family, to be given the chance to revive his Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This actually happened in the life of Priyavrata; he is a most glorious example of this truth. In due course of time, he no longer wanted to enjoy his material opulences and his wife, kingdom and sons; instead, he wanted to renounce them all. Therefore, after having described the material opulences of Mahārāja Priyavrata, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, in this verse, describes his tendency for renunciation.
The words devarṣi-caraṇānuśayana indicate that Mahārāja Priyavrata, having fully surrendered to the great sage Devarṣi Nārada, was strictly following all the devotional processes and regulative principles under his direction. In regard to strictly following the regulative principles, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura says; daṇḍavat-praṇāmās tān anupatitaḥ. By immediately offering obeisances (daṇḍavat) unto the spiritual master and by strictly following his directions, the student becomes advanced. Mahārāja Priyavrata was doing all these things regularly.
As long as one is in the material world, he has to be under the influence of the modes of material nature (guṇa-visarga). It is not that Mahārāja Priyavrata was freed from material influence because he possessed all material opulences. In this material world, both the very poor man and the very rich man are under material influences, for both wealth and poverty are creations of the modes of material nature. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (3.27), prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ. According to the modes of material nature we acquire, the material nature gives us facility for material enjoyment.
aho asādhv anuṣṭhitaṁ yad abhiniveśito
‘ham indriyair avidyā-racita-
viṣama-viṣayāndha-kūpe tad alam alam amuṣyā vanitāyā vinoda-
mṛgaṁ māṁ dhig dhig iti garhayāṁ cakāra.
aho—alas; asādhu—not good; anuṣṭhitam—executed; yat—because; abhiniveśitaḥ—being completely absorbed; aham—I; indriyaiḥ—for sense gratification; avidyā—by nescience; racita—made; viṣama—causing distress; viṣaya—sense gratification; andha-kūpe—in the dark well; tat—that; alam—insignificant; alam—of no importance; amuṣyāḥ—of that; vanitāyāḥ—wife; vinoda-mṛgam—just like a dancing monkey; mām—unto me; dhik—all condemnation; dhik—all condemnation; iti—thus; garhayām—criticism; cakāra—he did.
The King thus began criticizing himself: Alas, how condemned I have become because of my sense gratification! I have now fallen into material enjoyment, which is exactly like a covered well. I have had enough! I am not going to enjoy any more. Just see how I have become like a dancing monkey in the hands of my wife. Because of this, I am condemned.
How condemned is the advancement of material knowledge can be understood from the behavior of Mahārāja Priyavrata. He performed such wonderful acts as creating another sun, which shined during the night, and creating a chariot so great that its wheels formed vast oceans. These activities are so great that modern scientists cannot even imagine how such things can be done. Mahārāja Priyavrata acted very wonderfully in the material field of activities, but because he was dealing in sense gratification—ruling his kingdom and dancing to the indications of his beautiful wife—he personally condemned himself. When we think about this example of Mahārāja Priyavrata, we can just consider how degraded is the modern civilization of materialistic advancement. Modern so-called scientists and other materialists are very satisfied because they can construct great bridges, roads and machines, but such activities are nothing comparable to those of Mahārāja Priyavrata. If Mahārāja Priyavrata could condemn himself in spite of his wonderful activities, how condemned we are in our so-called advancement of material civilization. We can conclude that such advancement has nothing to do with the problems of the living entity entangled within this material world. Unfortunately, modern man does not understand his entanglement and how condemned he is, nor does he know what kind of body he is going to have in the next life. From a spiritual point of view, a great kingdom, beautiful wife and wonderful material activities are all impediments to spiritual advancement. Mahārāja Priyavrata had served the great sage Nārada sincerely. Therefore even though he had accepted material opulences, he could not be deviated from his own task. He again became Kṛṣṇa conscious. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā:
pratyavāyo na vidyate
svalpam apy asya dharmasya
trāyate mahato bhayāt
"In devotional service there is no loss or diminution, and even a small service rendered in devotional life is sufficient to save one from the greatest danger." (Bg. 2.40) Such renunciation as Mahārāja Priyavrata’s is possible only by the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Generally when people are powerful or when they have a beautiful wife, a beautiful home and material popularity, they become more and more entangled. Priyavrata Mahārāja, however, having been completely trained by the great sage Nārada, revived his Kṛṣṇa consciousness in spite of all impediments.
putrebhya imāṁ yathā-dāyaṁ vibhajya bhukta-bhogāṁ ca mahiṣīṁ
mṛtakam iva saha mahā-vibhūtim apahāya svayaṁ nihita-nirvedo hṛdi
gṛhīta-hari-vihārānubhāvo bhagavato nāradasya padavīṁ punar
para-devatā—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; prasāda—by the mercy; adhigata—obtained; ātma-pratyavamarśena—by self-realization; anupravṛttebhyaḥ—who exactly follow his path; putrebhyaḥ—unto his sons; imām—this earth; yathā-dāyam—exactly according to the inheritance; vibhajya—dividing; bhukta-bhogām—whom he enjoyed in so many ways; ca—also; mahiṣīm—the Queen; mṛtakam iva—exactly like a dead body; saha—with; mahā-vibhūtim—great opulence; apahāya—giving up; svayam—himself; nihita—perfectly taken to; nirvedaḥ—renunciation; hṛdi—in the heart; gṛhīta—accepted; hari—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; vihāra—pastimes; anubhāvaḥ—in such an attitude; bhagavataḥ—of the great saintly person; nāradasya—of Saint Nārada; padavīm—position; punaḥ—again; eva—certainly; anusasāra—began to follow.
By the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Mahārāja Priyavrata reawakened to his senses. He divided all his earthly possessions among his obedient sons. He gave up everything, including his wife, with whom he had enjoyed so much sense gratification, and his great and opulent kingdom, and he completely renounced all attachment. His heart, having been cleansed, became a place of pastimes for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus he was able to return to the path of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, spiritual life, and resume the position he had attained by the grace of the great saint Nārada.
As enunciated by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in His Śikṣāṣṭaka, ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanaṁ bhava-mahā-dāvāgni-nirvāpaṇam: as soon as one’s heart is cleansed, the blazing fire of material existence is immediately extinguished. Our hearts are meant for the pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This means that one should be fully Kṛṣṇa conscious, thinking of Kṛṣṇa, as He Himself advises (man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru). This should be our only business. One whose heart is not clean cannot think of the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Lord, but if one can once again place the Supreme Personality of Godhead in his heart, he very easily becomes qualified to renounce material attachment. Māyāvādī philosophers, yogīs and jñānīs try to give up this material world simply by saying, brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā: "This world is false. There is no use of it. Let us take to Brahman." Such theoretical knowledge will not help us. If we believe that Brahman is the real truth, we have to place within our hearts the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, as Mahārāja Ambarīṣa did (sa vai manaḥ kṛṣṇa-padāravindayoḥ). One has to fix the lotus feet of the Lord within his heart. Then he gets the strength to be freed from material entanglement.
Mahārāja Priyavrata was able to give up his opulent kingdom, and he also gave up the association of his beautiful wife as if she were a dead body. However beautiful one’s wife and however attractive her bodily features, one is no longer interested in her when her body is dead. We praise a beautiful woman for her body, but that same body, when bereft of a spirit soul, is no longer interesting to any lusty man. Mahārāja Priyavrata was so strong, by the grace of the Lord, that even though his beautiful wife was alive, he could give up her association exactly like one who is forced to give up the association of a dead wife. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said:
na dhanaṁ na janaṁ na
kavitāṁ vā jagadīśa kāmaye
mama janmani janmanīśvare
bhavatād bhaktir ahaitukī tvayi
"O almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor do I desire beautiful women, nor do I want any number of followers. I only want Your causeless devotional service birth after birth." For one who desires to advance in spiritual life, attachment to material opulence and attachment to a beautiful wile are two great impediments. Such attachments are condemned even more than suicide. Therefore anyone desiring to cross beyond material nescience must, by the grace of Kṛṣṇa, be freed from attachment to women and money. When Mahārāja Priyavrata became completely free from these attachments, he could again peacefully follow the principles instructed by the great sage Nārada.
tasya ha vā ete ślokāḥ—
ko nu kuryād vineśvaram
yo nemi-nimnair akaroc
chāyāṁ ghnan sapta vāridhīn
tasya—his; ha vā—certainly; ete—all these; ślokāḥ—verses; priyavrata—by King Priyavrata; kṛtam—done; karma—activities; kaḥ—who; nu—then; kuryāt—can execute; vinā—without; īśvaram—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; yaḥ—one who; nemi—of the rim of the wheels of his chariot; nimnaiḥ—by the depressions; akarot—made; chāyām—darkness; ghnan—dissipating; sapta—seven; vāridhīn—oceans.
There are many famous verses regarding Mahārāja Priyavrata’s activities:
"No one but the Supreme Personality of Godhead could do what Mahārāja Priyavrata has done. Mahārāja Priyavrata dissipated the darkness of night, and with the rims of his great chariot, he excavated seven oceans."
There are many excellent verses, famous all over the world, concerning the activities of Mahārāja Priyavrata. He is so celebrated that his activities are compared to those of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sometimes a sincere servant and devotee of the Lord is also called bhagavān. Śrī Nārada is called bhagavān, and Lord Śiva and Vyāsadeva are also sometimes called bhagavān. This designation, bhagavān, is sometimes conferred upon a pure devotee by the grace of the Lord so that he will be very highly esteemed. Mahārāja Priyavrata was such a devotee.
bhū-saṁsthānaṁ kṛtaṁ yena
sīmā ca bhūta-nirvṛtyai
dvīpe dvīpe vibhāgaśaḥ
bhū-saṁsthānam—the situation of the earth; kṛtam—done; yena—by whom; sarit—by rivers; giri—by hills and mountains; vana-ādibhiḥ—by forests and so on; sīmā—boundaries; ca—also; bhūta—of different nations; nirvṛtyai—to stop fighting; dvīpe dvīpe—on the various islands; vibhāgaśaḥ—separately.
"To stop the quarreling among different peoples, Mahārāja Priyavrata marked boundaries at rivers and at the edges of mountains and forests so that no one would trespass upon another’s property."
The example set by Mahārāja Priyavrata in marking off different states is still followed. As indicated here, different classes of men are destined to live in different areas, and therefore the boundaries of various tracts of land, which are described here as islands, should be defined by different rivers, forests and hills. This is also mentioned in relation to Mahārāja Pṛthu, who was born from the dead body of his father by the manipulation of great sages. Mahārāja Pṛthu’s father was very sinful, and therefore a black man called Niṣāda was first born from his dead body. The Naiṣāda race was given a place in the forest because by nature they are thieves and rogues. As animals are given places in various forests and hills, men who are like animals are also destined to live there. One cannot be promoted to civilized life unless one comes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, for by nature one is destined to live in a particular situation according to one’s karma and association with the modes of nature. If men want to live in harmony and peace, they must take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, for they cannot achieve the highest standard while absorbed in the bodily concept of life. Mahārāja Priyavrata divided the surface of the globe into different islands so that each class of men would live peacefully and not clash with the others. The modern idea of nationhood has gradually developed from the divisions made by Mahārāja Priyavrata.
bhaumaṁ divyaṁ mānuṣaṁ ca
yaś cakre nirayaupamyaṁ
bhaumam—of the lower planets; divyam—heavenly; mānuṣam—of human beings; ca—also; mahitvam—all opulences; karma—by fruitive activities; yoga—by mystic power; jam—born; yaḥ—one who; cakre—did; niraya—with hell; aupamyam—comparison or equality; puruṣa—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; anujana—to the devotee; priyaḥ—most dear.
"As a great follower and devotee of the sage Nārada, Mahārāja Priyavrata considered hellish the opulences he had achieved by dint of fruitive activities and mystic power, whether in the lower or heavenly planetary systems or in human society."
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has said that the position of a devotee is so superexcellent that a devotee does not consider any material opulence worth having. There are different types of opulences on earth, in the heavenly planets and even in the lower planetary system, known as Pātāla. A devotee, however, knows that they are all material, and consequently he is not at all interested in them. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate. Sometimes yogīs and jñānīs voluntarily give up all material opulences to practice their system of liberation and taste spiritual bliss. However, they frequently fall down because artificial renunciation of material opulences cannot endure. One must have a superior taste in spiritual life; then he can give up material opulence. Mahārāja Priyavrata had already tasted spiritual bliss, and therefore he had no interest in any of the material achievements available in the lower, higher or middle planetary systems.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports to the Fifth Canto, First Chapter, of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled "The Activities of Mahārāja Priyavrata."
In this chapter, the character of Mahārāja Āgnīdhra is described. When Mahārāja Priyavrata went off for spiritual realization, his son Āgnīdhra became the ruler of Jambūdvīpa, in accordance with Mahārāja Priyavrata’s instructions, and maintained its residents with the same affection a father feels for his sons. Once Mahārāja Āgnīdhra desired to have a son, and therefore he entered a cave of Mandara Mountain to practice austerity. Understanding his desire, Lord Brahmā sent a celestial girl named Pūrvacitti to Āgnīdhra’s hermitage. After dressing herself very attractively, she presented herself before him with various feminine movements, and Āgnīdhra was naturally attracted to her. The girl’s actions, expressions, smile, sweet words and moving eyes were fascinating to him. Āgnīdhra was expert in flattery. Thus he attracted the celestial girl, who was pleased to accept him as her husband because of his mellifluous words. She enjoyed royal happiness with Āgnīdhra for many years before returning to her abode in the heavenly planets. In her womb Āgnīdhra begot nine sons-Nābhi, Kiṁpuruṣa, Harivarṣa, Ilāvṛta, Ramyaka, Hiraṇmaya, Kuru, Bhadrāśva and Ketumāla. He gave them nine islands with names corresponding to theirs. Āgnīdhra, however, his senses unsatisfied, was always thinking of his celestial wife, and therefore in his next life he was born in her celestial planet. After the death of Āgnīdhra, his nine sons married nine daughters of Meru named Merudevī, Pratirūpā, Ugradaṁṣṭrī, Latā, Ramyā, Śyāmā, Nārī, Bhadrā and Devavīti.
evaṁ pitari sampravṛtte tad-anuśāsane
jambūdvīpaukasaḥ prajā aurasavad dharmāvekṣamāṇaḥ paryagopāyat.
śrī-śukaḥ—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī; uvāca—said; evam—thus; pitari—when his father; sampravṛtte—took to the path of liberation; tat-anuśāsane—according to his order; vartamānaḥ—situated; āgnīdhraḥ—King Āgnīdhra; jambū-dvīpa-okasaḥ—the inhabitants of Jambūdvīpa; prajāḥ—citizens; aurasa-vat—as if they were his sons; dharma—religious principles; avekṣamāṇaḥ—strictly observing; paryagopāyat—completely protected.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: After his father, Mahārāja Priyavrata, departed to follow the path of spiritual life by undergoing austerities, King Āgnīdhra completely obeyed his order. Strictly observing the principles of religion, he gave full protection to the inhabitants of Jambūdvīpa as if they were his own begotten sons.
Following the instruction of his father, Mahārāja Priyavrata, Mahārāja Āgnīdhra ruled the inhabitants of Jambūdvīpa according to religious principles. These principles are exactly contrary to the modern principles of faithlessness. As clearly stated here, the King protected the citizens the way a father protects his begotten children. How he ruled the citizens is also described here—dharmāvekṣamāṇaḥ, strictly according to religious principles. It is the duty of the executive head of a state to see that the citizens strictly follow religious principles. The Vedic religious principles begin with varṇāśrama-dharma, the duties of the four varṇas and four āśramas. Dharma refers to principles given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The first principle of dharma, or religion, is to observe the duties of the four orders as enjoined by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. According to people’s qualities and activities, society should be divided into brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras and then again into brahmacārīs, gṛhasthas, vānaprasthas and sannyāsīs. These are religious principles, and it is the duty of the head of state to see that his citizens strictly follow them. He should not merely act officially; he should be like a father who is always a well-wisher of his sons. Such a father strictly observes whether his sons are performing their duties, and sometimes he also punishes them.
Just contrary to the principles mentioned here, the presidents and chief executives in the age of Kali are simply tax collectors who do not care whether religious principles are observed. Indeed, the chief executives of the present day introduce all kinds of sinful activity, especially illicit sex, intoxication, animal killing and gambling. These sinful activities are now very prominently manifested in India. Although a hundred years ago these four principles of sinful life were strictly prohibited in the families of India, they have now been introduced into every Indian family; therefore they cannot follow religious principles. In contrast to the principles of the kings of old, the modern state is concerned only with propaganda for levying taxes and is no longer responsible for the spiritual welfare of the citizens. The state is now callous to religious principles. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam predicts that in Kali-yuga the government will be entrusted with dasyu-dharma, which means the occupational duty of rogues and thieves. Modern heads of state are rogues and thieves who plunder the citizens instead of giving them protection. Rogues and thieves plunder without regard for law, but in this age of Kali, as stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the lawmakers themselves plunder the citizens. The next prediction to be fulfilled, which is already coming to pass, is that because of the sinful activities of the citizens and the government, rain will become increasingly scarce. Gradually there will be complete drought and no production of food grains. People will be reduced to eating flesh and seeds, and many good, spiritually inclined people will have to forsake their homes because they will be too harassed by drought, taxation and famine. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is the only hope to save the world from such devastation. It is the most scientific and authorized movement for the actual welfare of the whole human society.
sa ca kadācit pitṛloka-kāmaḥ
bhagavantaṁ viśva-sṛjāṁ patim ābhṛta-paricaryopakaraṇa
ātmaikāgryeṇa tapasvy ārādhayāṁ babhūva.
saḥ—he (King Āgnīdhra); ca—also; kadācit—once upon a time; pitṛloka—the Pitṛloka planet; kāmaḥ—desiring; sura-vara—of the great demigods; vanitā—the women; ākrīḍā—the place of pastimes; acala-droṇyām—in one valley of the Mandara Hill; bhagavantam—unto the most powerful (Lord Brahmā); viśva-sṛjām—of personalities who have created this universe; patim—the master; ābhṛta—having collected; paricaryā-upakaraṇaḥ—ingredients for worship; ātma—of the mind; eka-agryeṇa—with full attention; tapasvī—one who executes austerity; ārādhayām babhūva—became engaged in worshiping.
Desiring to get a perfect son and become an inhabitant of Pitṛloka, Mahārāja Āgnīdhra once worshiped Lord Brahmā, the master of those in charge of material creation. He went to a valley of Mandara Hill, where the damsels of the heavenly planets come down to stroll. There he collected garden flowers and other necessary paraphernalia and then engaged in severe austerities and worship.
The King became pitṛloka-kāma, or desirous of being transferred to the planet named Pitṛloka. Pitṛloka is mentioned in Bhagavad-gītā (yānti deva-vratā devān pitṝn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ). To go to this planet, one needs very good sons who can make offerings to Lord Viṣṇu and then offer the remnants to their forefathers. The purpose of the śrāddha ceremony is to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Viṣṇu, so that after pleasing Him one may offer prasāda to one’s forefathers and in this way make them happy. The inhabitants of Pitṛloka are generally men of the karma-kāṇḍīya, or fruitive activities category, who have been transferred there because of their pious activities. They can stay there as long as their descendants offer them viṣṇu-prasādam. Everyone in heavenly planets such as Pitṛloka, however, must return to earth after exhausting the effects of his pious acts. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (9.21), kṣīṇe puṇye martya-lokaṁ viśanti: persons who perform pious acts are transferred to higher planets, but when the effects of their pious acts are over, they are again transferred to earth.
Since Mahārāja Priyavrata was a great devotee, how could he have begotten a son who desired to be transferred to Pitṛloka? Lord Kṛṣṇa says, pitṝn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ: persons who desire to go to Pitṛloka are transferred there. Similarly, yānti mad-yājino ‘pi mām: persons who desire to be transferred to the spiritual planets, Vaikuṇṭhalokas, can also go there. Since Mahārāja Āgnīdhra was the son of a Vaiṣṇava, he should have desired to be transferred to the spiritual world, Vaikuṇṭhaloka. Why, then, did he desire to be transferred to Pitṛloka? In answer to this, Gosvāmī Giridhara, one of the Bhāgavatam commentators, remarks that Āgnīdhra was born when Mahārāja Priyavrata was infatuated by lusty desires. This may be accepted as a fact because sons are begotten with different mentalities according to the time of their conception. According to the Vedic system, therefore, before a child is conceived, the garbhādhāna-saṁskāra is performed. This ceremony molds the mentality of the father in such a way that when he plants his seed in the womb of his wife, he will beget a child whose mind will be completely saturated with a devotional attitude. At the present moment, however, there are no such garbhādhāna-saṁskāras, and therefore people generally have a lusty attitude when they beget children. Especially in this age of Kali, there are no garbhādhāna ceremonies; everyone enjoys sex with his wife like a cat or dog. Therefore according to śāstric injunctions, almost all the people of this age belong to the śūdra category. Of course, although Mahārāja Āgnīdhra had a desire to be transferred to Pitṛloka, this does not mean that his mentality was that of a śūdra; he was a kṣatriya.
Mahārāja Āgnīdhra desired to be transferred to Pitṛloka, and therefore he needed a wife because anyone desiring to be transferred to Pitṛloka must leave behind a good son to offer yearly piṇḍa, or prasāda from Lord Viṣṇu. To have a good son, Mahārāja Āgnīdhra wanted a wife from a family of demigods. Therefore he went to Mandara Hill, where the women of the demigods generally come, to worship Lord Brahmā. In Bhagavad-gītā (4.12) it is said, kāṅkṣantaḥ karmaṇāṁ siddhiṁ yajanta iha devatāḥ: materialists who want quick results in the material world worship demigods. This is also confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Śrī-aiśvarya-prajepsavaḥ: those who desire beautiful wives, substantial wealth and many sons worship the demigods, but an intelligent devotee, instead of being entangled by the happiness of this material world in the form of a beautiful wife, material opulence and children, desires to be immediately transferred back home, back to Godhead. Thus he worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu.
tad upalabhya bhagavān ādi-puruṣaḥ sadasi
nāmāpsarasam abhiyāpayām āsa.
tat—that; upalabhya—understanding; bhagavān—the most powerful; ādi-puruṣaḥ—the first created being within this universe; sadasi—in his assembly; gāyantīm—dancing girl; pūrvacittim—Pūrvacitti; nāma—named; apsarasam—the heavenly dancing girl; abhiyāpayām āsa—sent down.
Understanding King Āgnīdhra’s desire, the first and most powerful created being of this universe, Lord Brahmā, selected the best of the dancing girls in his assembly, whose name was Pūrvacitti, and sent her to the King.
In this verse, the words bhagavān ādi-puruṣaḥ are significant. Bhagavān ādi-puruṣaḥ is Lord Kṛṣṇa. Govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi. Lord Kṛṣṇa is the original person. In Bhagavad-gītā, He is also addressed by Arjuna as puruṣam ādyam, the original person, and He is called Bhagavān. In this verse, however, we see that Lord Brahmā is described as bhagavān ādi-puruṣaḥ. The reason he is called bhagavān is that he fully represents the Supreme Personality of Godhead and is the first-born creature in this universe. Lord Brahmā could understand Mahārāja Āgnīdhra’s desire because he is as powerful as Lord Viṣṇu. As Lord Viṣṇu, situated as Paramātmā, can understand the desire of the living entity, so Lord Brahmā can also understand the living entity’s desire, for Viṣṇu, as a via medium, informs him. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.1.1), tene brahma hṛdā ya ādi-kavaye: Lord Viṣṇu informs Lord Brahmā of everything from within his heart. Because Mahārāja Āgnīdhra specifically worshiped Lord Brahmā, Lord Brahmā was pleased, and he sent Pūrvacitti, the Apsarā, to satisfy him.
sā ca tad-āśramopavanam ati-ramaṇīyaṁ
kalahaṁsādibhir vicitram upakūjitāmala-jalāśaya-kamalākaram
sā—she (Pūrvacitti); ca—also; tat—of Mahārāja Āgnīdhra; āśrama—of the place of meditation; upavanam—the park; ati—very; ramaṇīyam—beautiful; vividha—varieties of; nibiḍa—dense; viṭapi—trees; viṭapa—of branches and twigs; nikara—masses; saṁśliṣṭa—attached; puraṭa—golden; latā—with creepers; ārūḍha—going high; sthala-vihaṅgama—of land birds; mithunaiḥ—with pairs; procyamāna—vibrating; śrutibhiḥ—pleasing sounds; pratibodhyamāna—responding; salila-kukkuṭa—water fowl; kāraṇḍava—ducks; kala-haṁsa—with various kinds of swans; ādibhiḥ—and so on; vicitram—variegated; upakūjita—resounding with the vibration; amala—clear; jala-āśaya—in the lake; kamala-ākaram—the source of lotus flowers; upababhrāma—began to walk in.
The Apsarā sent by Lord Brahmā began strolling in a beautiful park near the place where the King was meditating and worshiping. The park was beautiful because of its dense green foliage and golden creepers. There were pairs of varied birds such as peacocks, and in a lake there were ducks and swans, all vibrating very sweet sounds. Thus the park was magnificently beautiful because of the foliage, the clear water, the lotus flowers and the sweet singing of various kinds of birds.
yugalam īṣad vikacayya vyacaṣṭa.
tasyāḥ—of her (Pūrvacitti); sulalita—in a very beautiful; gamana—movements; pada-vinyāsa—with styles of walking; gati—in the progression; vilāsāyāḥ—whose pastime; ca—also; anupadam—with every step; khaṇa-khaṇāyamāna—making a tinkling sound; rucira—very pleasing; caraṇa-ābharaṇa—of the ornaments on the feet; svanam—the sound; upākarṇya—hearing; naradeva-kumāraḥ—the Prince; samādhi—in ecstasy; yogena—by controlling the senses; āmīlita—half-open; nayana—eyes; nalina—of lotus; mukula—buds; yugalam—like a pair; īṣat—slightly; vikacayya—opening; vyacaṣṭa—saw.
As Pūrvacitti passed by on the road in a very beautiful style and mood of her own, the pleasing ornaments on her ankles tinkled with her every step. Although Prince Āgnīdhra was controlling his senses, practicing yoga with half-open eyes, he could see her with his lotuslike eyes, and when he heard the sweet tinkling of her bangles, he opened his eyes slightly more and could see that she was just nearby.
It is said that yogīs always think of the Supreme Personality of Godhead within their hearts. Dhyānāvasthita-tad-gatena manasā paśyanti yaṁ yoginaḥ (Bhāg. 12.13.1). The Supreme Personality of Godhead is always observed by yogīs who practice controlling the venomous senses. As recommended in Bhagavad-gītā, yogīs should practice samprekṣya nāsikāgram, keeping their eyes half-open. If the eyes are closed completely, there will be a tendency to sleep. So-called yogīs sometimes practice a fashionable form of yoga by closing their eyes and meditating, but we have actually seen such so-called yogīs sleeping and snoring while meditating. This is not the practice of yoga. To actually practice yoga, one should keep his eyes half-open and gaze at the tip of his nose.
Although Āgnīdhra, the son of Priyavrata, was practicing mystic yoga and trying to control his senses, the tinkling sound of Pūrvacitti’s ankle bells disturbed his practice. Yoga indriya-saṁyamaḥ: actual yoga practice means controlling the senses. One must practice mystic yoga, to control the senses, but the sense control of a devotee who fully engages in the service of the Lord with his purified senses (hṛṣīkeṇa hṛṣīkeśa-sevanam) can never be disturbed. Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī therefore stated, durdāntendriya-kāla-sarpa-paṭalī protkhāta-daṁṣṭra-yate (Caitanya-candrāmṛta 5). The practice of yoga is undoubtedly good because it controls the senses, which are like venomous serpents. When one engages in devotional service, however, completely employing all the activities of the senses in the service of the Lord, the venomous quality of the senses is completely nullified. It is explained that a serpent is to be feared because of its poison fangs, but if those fangs are broken, the serpent, although it seems fearsome, is not at all dangerous. Devotees, therefore, may see hundreds and thousands of beautiful women with fascinating bodily movements and gestures but not be allured, whereas such women would make ordinary yogīs fall. Even the advanced yogī Viśvāmitra broke his mystic practice to unite with Menakā and beget a child known as Śakuntalā. The practice of mystic yoga, therefore, is not sufficiently strong to control the senses. Another example is Prince Āgnīdhra, whose attention was drawn to the movements of Pūrvacitti, the Apsarā, simply because he heard the tinkling of her ankle bells. In the same way that Viśvāmitra Muni was attracted by the tinkling bangles of Menakā, Prince Āgnīdhra, upon hearing the tinkling bangles of Pūrvacitti, immediately opened his eyes to see her beautiful movements as she walked. The prince was also very handsome. As described herein, his eyes were just like the buds of lotus flowers. As he opened his lotuslike eyes, he could immediately see that the Apsarā was present by his side.
tām evāvidūre madhukarīm iva sumanasa
susvarākṣarāvayavair manasi nṛṇāṁ kusumāyudhasya vidadhatīṁ
madāndha-madhukara-nikaroparodhena druta-pada-vinyāsena valgu-
spandana-stana-kalaśa-kabara-bhāra-raśanāṁ devīṁ tad-avalokanena
vivṛtāvasarasya bhagavato makara-dhvajasya vaśam upanīto jaḍavad iti
tām—to her; eva—indeed; avidūre—nearby; madhukarīm iva—like a honeybee; sumanasaḥ—beautiful flowers; upajighrantīm—smelling; divi-ja—of those born in the heavenly planets; manu-ja—of those born in human society; manaḥ—mind; nayana—for the eyes; āhlāda—pleasure; dughaiḥ—producing; gati—by her movement; vihāra—by pastimes; vrīḍā—by shyness; vinaya—by humility; avaloka—by glancing; su-svara-akṣara—by her sweet voice; avayavaiḥ—and by the limbs of the body; manasi—in the mind; nṛṇām—of men; kusuma-āyudhasya—of Cupid, who has a flower arrow in his hand; vidadhatīm—making; vivaram—aural reception; nija-mukha—from her own mouth; vigalita—pouring out; amṛta-āsava—nectar like honey; sa-hāsa—in her smiling; bhāṣaṇa—and talking; āmoda—by the pleasure; mada-andha—blinded by intoxication; madhukara—of bees; nikara—by groups; uparodhena—because of being surrounded; druta—hasty; pada—of feet; vinyāsena—by stylish stepping; valgu—a little; spandana—moving; stana—breasts; kalaśa—like waterpots; kabara—of her braids of hair; bhāra—weight; raśanām—the belt upon the hips; devīm—the goddess; tat-avalokanena—simply by seeing her; vivṛta-avasarasya—taking the opportunity of; bhagavataḥ—of the greatly powerful; makara-dhvajasya—of Cupid; vaśam—under the control; upanītaḥ—being brought in; jaḍa-vat—as if stunned; iti—thus; ha—certainly; uvāca—he said.
Like a honeybee, the Apsarā smelled the beautiful and attractive flowers. She could attract the minds and vision of both humans and demigods by her playful movements, her shyness and humility, her glances, the very pleasing sounds that poured from her mouth as she spoke, and the motion of her limbs. By all these qualities, she opened for Cupid, who bears an arrow of flowers, a path of aural reception into the minds of men. When she spoke, nectar seemed to flow from her mouth. As she breathed, the bees, mad for the taste of her breath, tried to hover about her beautiful lotuslike eyes. Disturbed by the bees, she tried to move hastily, but as she raised her feet to walk quickly, her hair, the belt on her hips, and her breasts, which were like water jugs, also moved in a way that made her extremely beautiful and attractive. Indeed, she seemed to be making a path for the entrance of Cupid, who is most powerful. Therefore the prince, completely subdued by seeing her, spoke to her as follows.
How a beautiful woman’s movements and gestures, her hair and the structure of her breasts, hips and other bodily features attract the minds not only of men but of demigods also is very finely described in this statement. The words divija and manuja specifically emphasize that the attraction of feminine gestures is powerful everywhere within this material world, both on this planet and in the higher planetary systems. It is said that the standard of living in the higher planetary systems is thousands and thousands of times higher than the standard of living on this planet. Therefore the beautiful bodily features of the women there are also thousands and thousands of times more attractive than the features of the women on earth. The creator has constructed women in such a way that their beautiful voices and movements and the beautiful features of their hips, their breasts, and the other parts of their bodies attract the members of the opposite sex, both on earth and on other planets, and awaken their lusty desires. When one is controlled by Cupid or the beauty of women, he becomes stunned like matter such as stone. Captivated by the material movements of women, he wants to remain in this material world. Thus one’s promotion to the spiritual world is checked simply by seeing the beautiful bodily structure and movements of women. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has therefore warned all devotees to beware of the attraction of beautiful women and materialistic civilization. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu even refused to see Pratāparudra Mahārāja because he was a very opulent person in the material world. Lord Caitanya said in this connection, niṣkiñcanasya bhagavad-bhajanonmukhasya: those who are engaged in the devotional service of the Lord because they are very serious about going back home, back to Godhead, should be very careful to avoid seeing the beautiful gestures of women and should also avoid seeing persons who are very rich.
pāraṁ paraṁ jigamiṣor bhava-sāgarasya
sandarśanaṁ viṣayiṇām atha yoṣitāṁ ca
hā hanta hanta viṣa-bhakṣaṇato ‘py asādhu
"Alas, for a person who is seriously desiring to cross the material ocean and engage in the transcendental loving service of the Lord without material motives, seeing a materialist engaged in sense gratification or seeing a woman who is similarly interested is more abominable than drinking poison willingly." (Cc. Madhya 11.8) One who is serious about going back home, back to Godhead, should not contemplate the attractive features of women and the opulence of rich men. Such contemplation will check one’s advancement in spiritual life. Once a devotee is fixed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, however, these attractions will not agitate his mind.
kā tvaṁ cikīrṣasi ca kiṁ muni-varya śaile
māyāsi kāpi bhagavat-para-devatāyāḥ
vijye bibharṣi dhanuṣī suhṛd-ātmano ‘rthe
kiṁ vā mṛgān mṛgayase vipine pramattān
kā—who; tvam—are you; cikīrṣasi—are you trying to do; ca—also; kim—what; muni-varya—O best of munis; śaile—on this hill; māyā—illusory potency; asi—are you; kāpi—some; bhagavat—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; para-devatāyāḥ—of the transcendental Lord; vijye—without strings; bibharṣi—you are carrying; dhanuṣī—two bows; suhṛt—of a friend; ātmanaḥ—of yourself; arthe—for the sake; kim vā—or; mṛgān—forest animals; mṛgayase—are you trying to hunt; vipine—in this forest; pramattān—who are materially maddened.
The Prince mistakenly addressed the Apsarā: O best of saintly persons, who are you? Why are you on this hill, and what do you want to do? Are you one of the illusory potencies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead? You seem to be carrying two bows without strings, What is the reason you carry these bows? Is it for some purpose of your own or for the sake of a friend? Perhaps you carry them to kill the mad animals in this forest.
While undergoing severe penances in the forest, Āgnīdhra was captivated by the movements of Pūrvacitti, the girl sent by Lord Brahmā. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, kāmais tais tair hṛta jñānāḥ: when one becomes lusty, he loses his intelligence. Therefore Āgnīdhra, having lost his intelligence, could not distinguish whether Pūrvacitti was male or female. He mistook her for a muni-putra, the son of a saintly person in the forest, and addressed her as muni-varya. Because of her personal beauty, however, he could not believe her to be a boy. He therefore began studying her features. First he saw her two eyebrows, which were so expressive that he wondered whether he or she might be the māyā of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The words used in this connection are bhagavat-para-devatāyāḥ. Devatāḥ, the demigods, all belong to this material world, whereas Bhagavān, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is always beyond this material world and is therefore known as para-devatā. The material world is certainly created by māyā, but it is created under the direction of para-devatā, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate sa-carācaram), māyā is not the ultimate authority for the creation of this material world. Māyā acts on behalf of Kṛṣṇa.
Pūrvacitti’s eyebrows were so beautiful that Āgnīdhra compared them to bows without strings. He therefore asked her whether they were to be used for her own purposes or for the sake of someone else. Her eyebrows were like bows meant to kill animals in the forest. This material world is like a great forest, and its inhabitants are like forest animals such as deer and tigers meant to be killed. The killers are the eyebrows of beautiful women. Captivated by the beauty of the fair sex, all the men of the world are killed by bows without strings, but cannot see how they are killed by māyā. It is a fact, however, that they are being killed (bhūtvā bhūtvā pralīyate). By dint of his tapasya, Āgnīdhra could understand how māyā acts under the direction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The word pramattān is also significant. Pramatta refers to one who cannot control his senses. The entire material world is being exploited by people who are pramatta, or vimūḍha. Prahlāda Mahārāja therefore said:
śoce tato vimukha-cetasa
māyā-sukhāya bharam udvahato vimūḍhān
"They are rotting in material activities for transient material pleasure and spoiling their lives toiling all day and night simply for sense gratification, with no attachment for love of Godhead. I am simply lamenting for them and devising various plans to deliver them from the clutches of māyā." (Bhāg. 7.9.43) Karmīs who act very seriously for sense gratification are always referred to in the śāstras by such terms as pramatta, vimukha and vimūḍha. They are killed by māyā. However, one who is apramatta, a sane, sober person, a dhīra, knows very well that a human being’s primary duty is to render service to the Supreme Person. Māyā is always ready to kill those who are pramatta with her invisible bows and arrows. Āgnīdhra questioned Pūrvacitti about this.
bāṇāv imau bhagavataḥ śata-patra-patrau
śāntāv apuṅkha-rucirāv ati-tigma-dantau
kasmai yuyuṅkṣasi vane vicaran na vidmaḥ
kṣemāya no jaḍa-dhiyāṁ tava vikramo ‘stu
bāṇau—two arrows; imau—these; bhagavataḥ—of you, the most powerful; śata-patra-patrau—having feathers like the petals of a lotus flower; śāntau—peaceful; apuṅkha—without a shaft; rucirau—very beautiful; ati-tigma-dantau—having a very sharp point; kasmai—whom; yuyuṅkṣasi—you want to pierce; vane—in the forest; vicaran—loitering; na vidmaḥ—we cannot understand; kṣemāya—for welfare; naḥ—of us; jaḍa-dhiyām—who are dull-headed; tava—your; vikramaḥ—prowess; astu—may be.
Then Āgnīdhra observed the glancing eyes of Pūrvacitti and said: My dear friend, you have two very powerful arrows, namely your glancing eyes. Those arrows have feathers like the petals of a lotus flower. Although they have no shafts, they are very beautiful, and they have very sharp, piercing points. They appear very peaceful, and thus it seems that they will not be shot at anyone. You must be loitering in this forest to shoot those arrows at someone, but I cannot understand whom. My intelligence is dull, and I cannot combat you. Indeed, no one can equal you in prowess, and therefore I pray that your prowess will be for my good fortune.
Āgnīdhra thus began appreciating Pūrvacitti’s powerful glance upon him. He compared her glancing eyes to very sharp arrows. Although her eyes were as beautiful as lotuses, they were simultaneously like shaftless arrows, and Āgnīdhra was therefore afraid of them. He hoped that her glances upon him would be favorable because he was already captivated, and the more captivated he became, the more impossible it would be for him to remain without her. Āgnīdhra therefore prayed to Pūrvacitti that her glances at him would be auspicious, not futile. In other words, he prayed that she would become his wife.
śiṣyā ime bhagavataḥ paritaḥ paṭhanti
gāyanti sāma sarahasyam ajasram īśam
yuṣmac-chikhā-vilulitāḥ sumano ‘bhivṛṣṭīḥ
sarve bhajanty ṛṣi-gaṇā iva veda-śākhāḥ
śiṣyāḥ—disciples, followers; ime—these; bhagavataḥ—of your worshipable self; paritaḥ—surrounding; paṭhanti—are reciting; gāyanti—are singing; sāma—the Sāma Veda; sa-rahasyam—with the confidential portion; ajasram—incessantly; īśam—unto the Lord; yuṣmat—your; śikhā—from bunches of hair; vilulitāḥ—fallen; sumanaḥ—of flowers; abhivṛṣṭīḥ—showers; sarve—all; bhajanti—enjoy, resort to; ṛṣi-gaṇāḥ—sages; iva—like; veda-śākhāḥ—branches of Vedic literature.
Seeing the bumblebees following Pūrvacitti, Mahārāja Āgnīdhra said: My dear Lord, the bumblebees surrounding your body are like disciples surrounding your worshipable self. They are incessantly chanting the mantras of the Sāma Veda and the Upaniṣads, thus offering prayers to you. Just as great sages resort to the branches of Vedic literatures, the bumblebees are enjoying the showers of flowers falling from your hair.
vācaṁ paraṁ caraṇa-pañjara-tittirīṇāṁ
brahmann arūpa-mukharāṁ śṛṇavāma tubhyam
labdhā kadamba-rucir aṅka-viṭaṅka-bimbe
yasyām alāta-paridhiḥ kva ca valkalaṁ te
vācam—the resounding vibration; param—only; caraṇa-pañjara—of the ankle bells; tittirīṇām—of the tittiri birds; brahman—O brāhmaṇa; arūpa—without form; mukharām—able to be very distinctly heard; śṛṇavāma—I hear; tubhyam—your; labdhā—gotten; kadamba—like the kadamba flower; ruciḥ—lovely color; aṅka-viṭaṅka-bimbe—on the beautiful circular hips; yasyām—on which; alāta-paridhiḥ—encirclement of burning cinders; kva—where; ca—also; valkalam—covering cloth; te—your.
O brāhmaṇa, I can simply hear the tinkling of your ankle bells. Within those bells, tittiri birds seem to be chirping among themselves. Although I do not see their forms, I can hear how they are chirping. When I look at your beautiful circular hips, I see they are the lovely color of kadamba flowers, and your waist is encircled by a belt of burning cinders. Indeed, you seem to have forgotten to dress yourself.
With lusty desires to see Pūrvacitti, Āgnīdhra especially gazed upon the girl’s attractive hips and waist. When a man looks upon a woman with such lusty desires, he is captivated by her face, her breasts and her waist, for a woman first attracts a man to fulfill his sexual desires by the beautiful features of her face, by the beautiful slope of her breasts and also by her waist. Pūrvacitti was dressed in fine yellow silk, and therefore her hips looked like kadamba flowers. Because of her belt, her waist seemed to be encircled by burning cinders. She was fully dressed, but Āgnīdhra had become so lusty that he asked, "Why have you come naked?"
kiṁ sambhṛtaṁ rucirayor dvija śṛṅgayos te
madhye kṛśo vahasi yatra dṛśiḥ śritā me
paṅko ‘ruṇaḥ surabhīr ātma-viṣāṇa īdṛg
yenāśramaṁ subhaga me surabhī-karoṣi
kim—what; sambhṛtam—filled; rucirayoḥ—very beautiful; dvija—O brāhmaṇa; śṛṅgayoḥ—within two horns; te—your; madhye—in the middle; kṛśaḥ—thin; vahasi—you are carrying; yatra—wherein; dṛśiḥ—eyes; śritā—attached; me—my; paṅkaḥ—powder; aruṇaḥ—red; surabhiḥ—fragrant; ātma-viṣāṇe—on the two horns; īdṛk—such; yena—by which; āśramam—place of residence; su-bhaga—O most fortunate one; me—my; surabhī-karoṣi—you are perfuming.
Āgnīdhra then praised Pūrvacitti’s raised breasts. He said: My dear brāhmaṇa your waist is very thin, yet with great difficulty you are carefully carrying two horns, to which my eyes have become attracted. What is filling those two beautiful horns? You seem to have spread fragrant red powder upon them, powder that is like the rising morning sun. O most fortunate one, I beg to inquire where you have gotten this fragrant powder that is perfuming my āśrama, my place of residence.
Āgnīdhra appreciated Pūrvacitti’s raised breasts. After seeing the girl’s breasts, he became almost mad. Nevertheless, he could not recognize whether Pūrvacitti was a boy or a girl, for as a result of his austerity, he saw no distinction between the two. He therefore addressed her with the word dvija, "O brāhmaṇa." Yet why should a dvija, a brāhmaṇa boy, have horns on his chest? Because the boy’s waist was thin, Āgnīdhra thought, he was carrying the horns with great difficulty, and therefore they must be filled with something very valuable. Otherwise why would he carry them? When a woman’s waist is thin and her breasts are full, she looks very attractive. Āgnīdhra, his eyes attracted, contemplated the heavy breasts on the girl’s thin body and imagined how her back must sustain them. Āgnīdhra imagined that her raised breasts were two horns she had covered with cloth so that others would not see the valuables within them. Āgnīdhra, however, was very anxious to see them. Therefore he requested, "Please uncover them so that I can see what you are carrying. Rest assured that I shall not take it away. If you feel an inconvenience in removing the covering, I can help you; I myself can uncover them to see what valuable things those raised horns contain." He was also surprised to see the red dust of perfumed kuṅkuma spread over her breasts. Nevertheless, still considering Pūrvacitti a boy, Āgnīdhra addressed her as subhaga, most fortunate muni. The boy must have been fortunate; otherwise how simply by standing there could he perfume Āgnīdhra’s entire āśrama?
lokaṁ pradarśaya suhṛttama tāvakaṁ me
yatratya ittham urasāvayavāv apūrvau
asmad-vidhasya mana-unnayanau bibharti
bahv adbhutaṁ sarasa-rāsa-sudhādi vaktre
lokam—residential place; pradarśaya—please show; suhṛt-tama—O best of friends; tāvakam—your; me—unto me; yatratyaḥ—a person born wherein; ittham—like this; urasā—by the chest; avayavau—two limbs (breasts); apūrvau—wonderful; asmat-vidhasya—of a person like me; manaḥ-unnayanau—very agitating to the mind; bibharti—sustains; bahu—many; adbhutam—wonderful; sarasa—sweet words; rāsa—amorous gestures like smiling; sudhā-ādi—such as nectar; vaktre—in the mouth.
O best friend, will you kindly show me the place where you reside? I cannot imagine how the residents of that place have gotten such wonderful bodily features as your raised breasts, which agitate the mind and eyes of a person like me who sees them. Judging by the sweet speech and kind smiles of those residents, I think that their mouths must contain nectar.
Still bewildered, Āgnīdhra wanted to see the place from which the brāhmaṇa boy had come, where the men had such raised breasts. Such attractive features, he thought, must be due to the severe austerities performed there. Āgnīdhra addressed the girl as suhṛttama, the best friend, so that she would not refuse to take him there. Not only was Āgnīdhra captivated by the girl’s raised breasts; he was also attracted by her sweet speech. Nectar seemed to emanate from her mouth, and therefore he was increasingly surprised.
kā vātma-vṛttir adanād dhavir aṅga vāti
viṣṇoḥ kalāsy animiṣonmakarau ca karṇau
āsanna-bhṛṅga-nikaraṁ sara in mukhaṁ te
kā—what; vā—and; ātma-vṛttiḥ—food for maintenance of the body; adanāt—by the chewing (of betel); haviḥ—pure sacrificial ingredients; aṅga—my dear friend; vāti—emanate; viṣṇoḥ—of Lord Viṣṇu; kalā—expansion of the body; asi—you are; animiṣa—without blinking; unmakarau—two brilliant sharks; ca—also; karṇau—two ears; udvigna—restless; mīna-yugalam—possessing two fish; dvija-paṅkti—of lines of teeth; śociḥ—beauty; āsanna—nearby; bhṛṅga-nikaram—possessing swarms of bumblebees; saraḥ it—like a lake; mukham—face; te—your.
My dear friend, what do you eat to maintain your body? Because you are chewing betel, a pleasing scent is emanating from your mouth. This proves that you always eat the remnants of food offered to Viṣṇu. Indeed, you must also be an expansion of Lord Viṣṇu’s body. Your face is as beautiful as a pleasing lake. Your jeweled earrings resemble two brilliant sharks with unblinking eyes like those of Viṣṇu, and your own eyes resemble two restless fish. Simultaneously, therefore, two sharks and two restless fish are swimming in the lake of your face. Besides them, the white rows of your teeth seem like rows of very beautiful swans in the water, and your scattered hair resembles swarms of bumblebees following the beauty of your face.
The devotees of Lord Viṣṇu are also His expansions. They are called vibhinnāṁśa. Lord Viṣṇu is offered all kinds of sacrificial ingredients, and because devotees always eat prasāda, the remnants of His food, the scent of sacrificial ingredients emanates not only from Viṣṇu but also from the devotees who eat the remnants of His food or the food of His devotees. Āgnīdhra considered Pūrvacitti an expansion of Lord Viṣṇu because of the pleasing scent of her body. Aside from that, because of her jeweled earrings, shaped like sharks, because of her scattered hair, resembling bumblebees mad after the scent of her body, and because of the white rows of her teeth, which resembled swans, Āgnīdhra compared Pūrvacitti’s face to a beautiful lake decorated with lotus flowers, fish, swans and bumblebees.
yo ‘sau tvayā kara-saroja-hataḥ pataṅgo
dikṣu bhraman bhramata ejayate ‘kṣiṇī me
muktaṁ na te smarasi vakra-jaṭā-varūthaṁ
kaṣṭo ‘nilo harati lampaṭa eṣa nīvīm
yaḥ—which; asau—that; tvayā—by you; kara-saroja—with the lotus palm; hataḥ—struck; pataṅgaḥ—the ball; dikṣu—in all directions; bhraman—moving; bhramataḥ—restless; ejayate—disturbs; akṣiṇī—eyes; me—of me; muktam—scattered; na—not; te—your; smarasi—are you mindful of; vakra—curling; jaṭā—of hair; varūtham—bunches; kaṣṭaḥ—giving trouble; anilaḥ—wind; harati—takes away; lampaṭaḥ—like a man attached to women; eṣaḥ—this; nīvīm—lower garment.
My mind is already restless, and by playing with a ball, moving it all about with your lotuslike palm, you are also agitating my eyes. Your curling black hair is now scattered, but you are not attentive to arranging it. Are you not going to arrange it? Like a man attached to women, the most cunning wind is trying to take off your lower garment. Are you not mindful of it?
The girl Pūrvacitti was playing with a ball in her hand, and the ball seemed like nothing but another lotus flower captured by her lotuslike palm. Because of her movements, her hair was loose, and the belt holding her cloth was giving way, as if the cunning wind were trying to make her naked. Yet she paid no attention to arranging her hair or fixing her dress. As Āgnīdhra tried to see the girl’s naked beauty, his eyes were very agitated by her movements.
rūpaṁ tapodhana tapaś caratāṁ tapoghnaṁ
hy etat tu kena tapasā bhavatopalabdham
cartuṁ tapo ‘rhasi mayā saha mitra mahyaṁ
kiṁ vā prasīdati sa vai bhava-bhāvano me
rūpam—beauty; tapaḥ-dhana—O best of the sages performing austerity; tapaḥ caratām—of persons engaged in executing austerities and penances; tapaḥ-ghnam—which dismantles the austerities; hi—certainly; etat—this; tu—indeed; kena—by what; tapasā—austerity; bhavatā—by you; upalabdham—achieved; cartum—to execute; tapaḥ—austerity; arhasi—you ought; mayā saha—with me; mitra—my dear friend; mahyam—unto me; kim vā—or maybe; prasīdati—is pleased; saḥ—he; vai—certainly; bhava-bhāvanaḥ—the creator of this universe; me—with me.
O best among those performing austerities, where did you get this wonderful beauty that dismantles the austerities performed by others? Where have you learned this art? What austerity have you undergone to achieve this beauty, my dear friend? I desire that you join me to perform austerity and penance, for it may be that the creator of the universe, Lord Brahmā, being pleased with me, has sent you to become my wife.
Āgnīdhra appreciated the wonderful beauty of Pūrvacitti. Indeed, he was surprised to see such exceptional beauty, which must have been the result of past austerities and penances. He therefore asked the girl whether she had achieved such beauty just to break the penances and austerities of others. He thought that Lord Brahmā, the creator of the universe, might have been pleased with him and might therefore have sent her to become his wife. He requested Pūrvacitti to become his wife so that together they could perform austerities and penances in family life. In other words, a suitable wife helps her husband perform penances and austerities in household life if both of them are on the same elevated platform of spiritual understanding. Without spiritual understanding, husband and wife cannot be equally situated. Lord Brahmā, the creator of the universe, is interested in good progeny. Therefore unless he is pleased, one cannot get a suitable wife. In fact, Lord Brahmā is worshiped in marriage ceremonies. In India even today, wedding invitations are still issued with a picture of Lord Brahmā on the face of the card.
na tvāṁ tyajāmi dayitaṁ dvija-deva-dattaṁ
yasmin mano dṛg api no na viyāti lagnam
māṁ cāru-śṛṅgy arhasi netum anuvrataṁ te
cittaṁ yataḥ pratisarantu śivāḥ sacivyaḥ
na—not; tvām—you; tyajāmi—I shall give up; dayitam—very dear; dvija-deva—by Lord Brahmā, the demigod worshiped by the brāhmaṇas; dattam—given; yasmin—unto whom; manaḥ—mind; dṛk—eyes; api—also; naḥ—my; na viyāti—do not go away; lagnam—tightly attached; mām—me; cāru-śṛṅgi—O woman with beautiful raised breasts; arhasi—you ought; netum—to lead; anuvratam—follower; te—your; cittam—desire; yataḥ—wherever; pratisarantu—may follow; śivāḥ—favorable; sacivyaḥ—friends.
Lord Brahmā, who is worshiped by the brāhmaṇas, has very mercifully given you to me, and that is why I have met you. I do not want to give up your company, for my mind and eyes are fixed upon you and cannot be drawn away. O woman with beautiful raised breasts, I am your follower. You may take me wherever you like, and your friends may also follow me.
Now Āgnīdhra frankly admits his weakness. He was attracted to Pūrvacitti, and therefore before she could say, "But I have no business with you," he expressed his desire to be united with her. He was so attracted that he was ready to go anywhere, hell or heaven, in her company. When one is absorbed in lust and the influence of sex, one surrenders to the feet of a woman without reservations. Śrīla Madhvācārya remarks in this connection that when one engages in joking and talking like a crazy person, one may say anything and everything, but his words will be meaningless.
grāmya-vaidagdhyayā paribhāṣayā tāṁ
vibudha-vadhūṁ vibudha-matir adhisabhājayām āsa.
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; iti—thus; lalanā—women; anunaya—in winning over; ati-viśāradaḥ—very expert; grāmya-vaidagdhyayā—expert in fulfilling one’s material desires; paribhāṣayā—by selected words; tām—her; vibudha-vadhūm—the celestial girl; vibudha-matiḥ—Āgnīdhra, who possessed intelligence like that of the demigods; adhisabhājayām āsa—gained the favor of.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: Mahārāja Āgnīdhra, whose intelligence was like that of a demigod, knew the art of flattering women to win them to his side. He therefore pleased that celestial girl with his lusty words and gained her favor.
Since King Āgnīdhra was a devotee, he actually had no attraction for material enjoyment, but because he wanted a wife for progeny and Lord Brahmā had sent Pūrvacitti for this purpose, he expertly pleased her with flattering words. Women are attracted by a man’s flattering words. One who is expert in this art of flattery is called vidagdha.
sā ca tatas tasya vīra-yūtha-pater
śriyaudāryeṇa parākṣipta-manās tena sahāyutāyuta-
parivatsaropalakṣaṇaṁ kālaṁ jambūdvīpa-patinā bhauma-svarga-
sā—she; ca—also; tataḥ—thereafter; tasya—of him; vīra-yūtha-pateḥ—the master of heroes; buddhi—by the intelligence; śīla—behavior; rūpa—beauty; vayaḥ—youth; śriyā—opulence; audāryeṇa—and by the magnanimity; parākṣipta—attracted; manāḥ—her mind; tena saha—with him; ayuta—ten thousand; ayuta—ten thousand; parivatsara—years; upalakṣaṇam—extending; kālam—time; jambūdvīpa-patinā—with the King of Jambūdvīpa; bhauma—earthly; svarga—heavenly; bhogān—pleasures; bubhuje—enjoyed.
Attracted by the intelligence, learning, youth, beauty, behavior, opulence and magnanimity of Āgnīdhra, the King of Jambūdvīpa and master of all heroes, Pūrvacitti lived with him for many thousands of years and luxuriously enjoyed both worldly and heavenly happiness.
By the grace of Lord Brahmā, King Āgnīdhra and the heavenly girl. Pūrvacitti, found their union quite suitable. Thus they enjoyed worldly and heavenly happiness for many thousands of years.
tasyām u ha vā ātmajān sa rāja-vara
saṁjñān nava putrān ajanayat.
tasyām—in her; u ha vā—certainly; ātma-jān—sons; saḥ—he; rāja-varaḥ—the best of kings; āgnīdhraḥ—Āgnīdhra; nābhi—Nābhi; kiṁpuruṣa—Kiṁpuruṣa; hari-varṣa—Harivarṣa; ilāvṛta—Ilāvṛta; ramyaka—Ramyaka; hiraṇmaya—Hiraṇmaya; kuru—Kuru; bhadrāśva—Bhadrāśva; ketu-māla—Ketumāla; saṁjñān—named; nava—nine; putrān—sons; ajanayat—begot.
In the womb of Pūrvacitti, Mahārāja Āgnīdhra, the best of kings, begot nine sons, named Nābhi, Kiṁpuruṣa, Harivarṣa, Ilāvṛta, Ramyaka, Hiraṇmaya, Kuru, Bhadrāśva and Ketumāla.
sā sūtvātha sutān navānuvatsaraṁ gṛha
evāpahāya pūrvacittir bhūya
evājaṁ devam upatasthe.
sā—she; sūtvā—after giving birth to; atha—thereafter; sutān—sons; nava—nine; anuvatsaram—year after year; gṛhe—at home; eva—certainly; apahāya—leaving; pūrvacittiḥ—Pūrvacitti; bhūyaḥ—again; eva—certainly; ajam—Lord Brahmā; devam—the demigod; upatasthe—approached.
Pūrvacitti gave birth to these nine sons, one each year, but after they grew up, she left them at home and again approached Lord Brahmā to worship him.
There are many instances in which Apsarās, heavenly angels, have descended to this earth by the order of a superior demigod like Lord Brahmā or Lord Indra, have followed the demigod’s order by marrying someone and giving birth to children, and have then returned to their celestial homes. For example, after Menakā, the celestial woman who had come to delude Viśvāmitra Muni, gave birth to the child Śakuntalā, she left both the child and her husband and returned to the heavenly planets. Pūrvacitti did not remain permanently with Mahārāja Āgnīdhra. After cooperating in his household affairs, she left Mahārāja Āgnīdhra and all nine sons and returned to Brahmā to worship him.
āgnīdhra-sutās te mātur anugrahād
balopetāḥ pitrā vibhaktā ātma-tulya-nāmāni yathā-bhāgaṁ
āgnīdhra-sutāḥ—the sons of Mahārāja Āgnīdhra; te—they; mātuḥ—of the mother; anugrahāt—by the mercy or by drinking the breast milk; autpattikena—naturally; eva—certainly; saṁhanana—well-built body; bala—strength; upetāḥ—obtained; pitrā—by the father; vibhaktāḥ—divided; ātma-tulya—following their own; nāmāni—possessing names; yathā-bhāgam—divided properly; jambūdvīpa-varṣāṇi—different parts of Jambūdvīpa (probably Asia and Europe combined together); bubhujuḥ—ruled.
Because of drinking the breast milk of their mother, the nine sons of Āgnīdhra naturally had strong, well-built bodies. Their father gave them each a kingdom in a different part of Jambūdvīpa. The kingdoms were named according to the names of the sons. Thus the sons of Āgnīdhra ruled the kingdoms they received from their father.
The ācāryas specifically mention that in this verse the words mātuḥ anugrahāt ("by the mercy of their mother") refer to the breast milk of their mother. In India it is a common belief that if a baby is fed his mother’s milk for at least six months, his body will be very strong. Besides that, it is mentioned herein that all the sons of Āgnīdhra were endowed with the nature of their mother. Bhagavad-gītā (1.40) also declares, strīṣu duṣṭāsu vārṣṇeya jāyate varṇa-saṅkaraḥ: when women are polluted, varṇa-saṅkara, unqualified children, are generated, and when the varṇa-saṅkara population increases, the entire world becomes hellish. Therefore, according to Manu-saṁhitā, a woman needs a great deal of protection in order to remain pure and chaste so that her children can be fully engaged for the benefit of human society.
kāmānām apsarasam evānudinam adhi-
manyamānas tasyāḥ salokatāṁ śrutibhir avārundha yatra pitaro
āgnīdhraḥ—Āgnīdhra; rājā—the King; atṛptaḥ—not satisfied; kāmānām—with sense gratification; apsarasam—the celestial woman (Pūrvacitti); eva—certainly; anudinam—day after day; adhi—exceedingly; manyamānaḥ—thinking of; tasyāḥ—of her; sa-lokatām—promotion to the same planet; śrutibhiḥ—by the Vedas; avārundha—got; yatra—where; pitaraḥ—the forefathers; mādayante—take pleasure.
After Pūrvacitti’s departure, King Āgnīdhra, his lusty desires not at all satisfied, always thought of her. Therefore, in accordance with the Vedic injunctions, the King, after his death, was promoted to the same planet as his celestial wife. That planet, which is called Pitṛloka, is where the pitās, the forefathers, live in great delight.
If one always thinks of something, he certainly gets a related body after death. Mahārāja Āgnīdhra was always thinking of Pitṛloka, the place where his wife had returned. Therefore after his death he achieved that same planet, probably to live with her again. Bhagavad-gītā also says:
yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran
tyajaty ante kalevaram
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya
"Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail." (Bg. 8.6) We can naturally conclude that if we always think of Kṛṣṇa or become fully Kṛṣṇa conscious, we can be promoted to the planet of Goloka Vṛndāvana, where Kṛṣṇa eternally lives.
samparete pitari nava bhrātaro meru-duhitṝr
ugradaṁṣṭrīṁ latāṁ ramyāṁ śyāmāṁ nārīṁ bhadrāṁ devavītim iti
samparete pitari—after the departure of their father; nava—nine; bhrātaraḥ—brothers; meru-duhitṝḥ—the daughters of Meru; merudevīm—Merudevī; prati-rūpām—Pratirūpā; ugra-daṁṣṭrīm—Ugradaṁṣṭrī; latām—Latā; ramyām—Ramyā; śyāmām—Śyāmā; nārīm—Nārī; bhadrām—Bhadrā; deva-vītim—Devavīti; iti—thus; saṁjñāḥ—the names; nava—nine; udavahan—married.
After the departure of their father, the nine brothers married the nine daughters of Meru named Merudevī, Pratirūpā, Ugradaṁṣṭrī, Latā, Ramyā, Śyāmā, Nārī, Bhadrā and Devavīti.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Fifth Canto, Second Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled "The Activities of Mahārāja Āgnīdhra."
In this chapter the spotless character of King Nābhi, the oldest son of Āgnīdhra, is described. Wanting to have sons, Mahārāja Nābhi underwent severe austerities and penances. He performed many sacrifices along with his wife and worshiped Lord Viṣṇu, master of all sacrifices. Being very kind to His devotees, the Supreme Personality of Godhead was very pleased with the austerities of Mahārāja Nābhi. He personally appeared before the King in His four-handed feature, and the priests, who were performing the sacrifices, began to offer their prayers unto Him. They prayed for a son like the Lord, and Lord Viṣṇu agreed to take birth in the womb of Merudevī, the wife of King Nābhi, and incarnate as King Ṛṣabhadeva.
nābhir apatya-kāmo ‘prajayā merudevyā
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; nābhiḥ—the son of Mahārāja Āgnīdhra; apatya-kāmaḥ—desiring to have sons; aprajayā—who had not given birth to any children; merudevyā—with Merudevī; bhagavantam—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; yajña-puruṣam—Lord Viṣṇu, the master and enjoyer of all performances of sacrifice; avahita-ātmā—with great attention; ayajata—offered prayers and worshiped.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued to speak: Mahārāja Nābhi, the son of Āgnīdhra, wished to have sons, and therefore he attentively began to offer prayers and worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Viṣṇu, the master and enjoyer of all sacrifices. Mahārāja Nābhi’s wife, Merudevī, who had not given birth to any children at that time, also worshiped Lord Viṣṇu along with her husband.
tasya ha vāva śraddhayā viśuddha-bhāvena
yogopapattyā duradhigamo ‘pi bhagavān bhāgavata-vātsalyatayā
supratīka ātmānam aparājitaṁ nija-janābhipretārtha-vidhitsayā gṛhīta-
hṛdayo hṛdayaṅgamaṁ mano-nayanānandanāvayavābhirāmam
tasya—when he (Nābhi); ha vāva—certainly; śraddhayā—with great faith and devotion; viśuddha-bhāvena—with a pure, uncontaminated mind; yajataḥ—was worshiping; pravargyeṣu—while the fruitive activities called pravargya; pracaratsu—were being performed; dravya—the ingredients; deśa—place; kāla—time; mantra—hymns; ṛtvik—priests conducting the ceremony; dakṣiṇā—gifts to the priests; vidhāna—regulative principles; yoga—and of the means; upapattyā—by the performance; duradhigamaḥ—not obtainable; api—although; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; bhāgavata-vātsalyatayā—because of His being very affectionate to His devotee; su-pratīkaḥ—possessing a very beautiful form; ātmānam—Himself; aparājitam—not to be conquered by anyone; nija-jana—of His devotee; abhipreta-artha—the desire; vidhitsayā—to fulfill; gṛhīta-hṛdayaḥ—His heart being attracted; hṛdayaṅgamam—captivating; manaḥ-nayana-ānandana—pleasing to the mind and eyes; avayava—by the limbs; abhirāmam—beautiful; āviścakāra—manifested.
In the performance of a sacrifice, there are seven transcendental means to obtain the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead: (1) by sacrificing valuable things or eatables, (2) by acting in terms of place, (3) by acting in terms of time, (4) by offering hymns, (5) by going through the priest, (6) by offering gifts to the priests and (7) by observing the regulative principles. However, one cannot always obtain the Supreme Lord through this paraphernalia. Nonetheless, the Lord is affectionate to His devotee; therefore when Mahārāja Nābhi, who was a devotee, worshiped and offered prayers to the Lord with great faith and devotion and with a pure uncontaminated mind, superficially performing some yajña in the line of pravargya, the kind Supreme Personality of Godhead, due to His affection for His devotees, appeared before King Nābhi in His unconquerable and captivating form with four hands. In this way, to fulfill the desire of His devotee, the Supreme Personality of Godhead manifested Himself in His beautiful body before His devotee. This body pleases the mind and eyes of the devotees.
In Bhagavad-gītā it is clearly said:
yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ
tato māṁ tattvato jñātvā
"One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God." (18.55)
One can understand and see the Supreme Personality of Godhead through the process of devotional service, and not in any other way. Although Mahārāja Nābhi performed prescribed duties and sacrifices, it should still be considered that the Lord appeared before him not due to his sacrifices but because of his devotional service. It was for this reason that the Lord agreed to appear before him in His beautiful bodily features. As stated in Brahma-saṁhitā (5.30), the Supreme Lord in His original nature is very beautiful. Veṇuṁ kvaṇantam aravinda-dalāyatākṣaṁ barhāvataṁsam asitāmbuda-sundarāṅgam: the Supreme Personality of Godhead, although blackish, is very, very beautiful.
atha ha tam āviṣkṛta-bhuja-yugala-dvayaṁ
viśeṣaṁ kapiśa-kauśeyāmbara-dharam urasi vilasac-chrīvatsa-lalāmaṁ
gṛha-patayo ‘dhanā ivottama-dhanam upalabhya sabahu-mānam
atha—thereafter; ha—certainly; tam—Him; āviṣkṛta-bhuja-yugala-dvayam—who manifested Himself with four arms; hiraṇmayam—very bright; puruṣa-viśeṣam—the topmost of all living beings, Puruṣottama; kapiśa-kauśeya-ambara-dharam—wearing a yellow silk garment; urasi—on the chest; vilasat—beautiful; śrīvatsa—called Śrīvatsa; lalāmam—possessing the mark; dara-vara—by a conchshell; vana-ruha—lotus flower; vana-mālā—garland of forest flowers; acchūri—disc; amṛta-maṇi—the Kaustubha gem; gadā-ādibhiḥ—and by a club and other symbols; upalakṣitam—symptomized; sphuṭa-kiraṇa—radiant; pravara—excellent; mukuṭa—helmet; kuṇḍala—earrings; kaṭaka—bracelets; kaṭi-sūtra—girdle; hāra—necklace; keyūra—armlets; nūpura—ankle bells; ādi—and so on; aṅga—of the body; bhūṣaṇa—with ornaments; vibhūṣitam—decorated; ṛtvik—the priests; sadasya—associates; gṛha-patayaḥ—and King Nābhi; adhanāḥ—poor persons; iva—like; uttama-dhanam—a great treasure; upalabhya—having achieved; sa-bahu-mānam—with great regard; arhaṇena—with ingredients for worship; avanata—bent; śīrṣāṇaḥ—their heads; upatasthuḥ—worshiped.
Lord Viṣṇu appeared before King Nābhi with four arms. He was very bright, and He appeared to be the best of all personalities. Around the lower portion of His body, He wore a yellow silken garment. On His chest was the mark of Śrīvatsa, which always displays beauty. He carried a conchshell, lotus flower, disc and club, and He wore a garland of forest flowers and the Kaustubha gem. He was beautifully decorated with a helmet, earrings, bangles, belt, pearl necklace, armlets, ankle bells and other bodily ornaments bedecked with radiant jewels. Seeing the Lord present before them, King Nābhi and his priests and associates felt just like poor people who have suddenly attained great riches. They received the Lord and respectfully bent their heads and offered Him things in worship.
It is distinctly mentioned here that the Supreme Personality of Godhead did not appear as an ordinary human being. He appeared before King Nābhi and his associates as the best of all personalities (Puruṣottama). As stated in the Vedas: Nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is also a living being, but He is the supreme living being. In Bhagavad-gītā (7.7), Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself says, mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya: "O conqueror of wealth [Arjuna], there is no truth superior to Me." No one is more attractive or more authoritative than Lord Kṛṣṇa. That is one of the differences between God and an ordinary living being. According to this description of the transcendental body of Lord Viṣṇu, the Lord can easily be distinguished from all other living beings. Consequently Mahārāja Nābhi and his priests and associates all offered the Lord obeisances and began to worship Him with various things. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (6.22), yaṁ labdhvā cāparaṁ lābhaṁ manyate nādhikaṁ tataḥ. That is, "Upon gaining this, one thinks that there is no greater gain." When one realizes God and sees the Lord face to face, one certainly thinks that he has gained the best of all things. Raso ‘py asya paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate: when one experiences a higher taste, his consciousness is fixed. After seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one ceases to be attracted by anything material. One then remains steady in his worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
arhasi muhur arhattamārhaṇam asmākam
nama ity etāvat sad-upaśikṣitaṁ ko ‘rhati pumān prakṛti-guṇa-
vyatikara-matir anīśa īśvarasya parasya prakṛti-puruṣayor
arvāktanābhir nāma-rūpākṛtibhī rūpa-nirūpaṇam; sakala-jana-
ṛtvijaḥ ūcuḥ—the priests said; arhasi—please (accept); muhuḥ—again and again; arhat-tama—O most exalted, worshipable person; arhaṇam—offering of worship; asmākam—of us; anupathānām—who are Your servants; namaḥ—respectful obeisances; namaḥ—respectful obeisances; iti—thus; etāvat—so far; sat—by exalted personalities; upaśikṣitam—instructed; kaḥ—what; arhati—is able (to make); pumān—man; prakṛti—of material nature; guṇa—of the modes; vyatikara—in the transformations; matiḥ—whose mind (is absorbed); anīśaḥ—who is most incapable; īśvarasya—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; parasya—beyond; prakṛti-puruṣayoḥ—the jurisdiction of the three modes of material nature; arvāktanābhiḥ—which do not reach up to, or which are of this material world; nāma-rūpa-ākṛtibhiḥ—by names, forms and qualities; rūpa—of Your nature or position; nirūpaṇam—ascertainment, perception; sakala—all; jana-nikāya—of mankind; vṛjina—sinful actions; nirasana—which wipe out; śivatama—most auspicious; pravara—excellent; guṇa-gaṇa—of the transcendental qualities; eka-deśa—one part; kathanāt—by speaking; ṛte—except.
The priests began to offer prayers to the Lord, saying: O most worshipable one, we are simply Your servants. Although You are full in Yourself, please, out of Your causeless mercy, accept a little service from us, Your eternal servants. We are not actually aware of Your transcendental form, but we can simply offer our respectful obeisances again and again, as instructed by the Vedic literatures and authorized ācāryas. Materialistic living entities are very much attracted to the modes of material nature, and therefore they are never perfect, but You are above the jurisdiction of all material conceptions. Your name, form and qualities are all transcendental and beyond the conception of experimental knowledge. Indeed, who can conceive of You? In the material world we can perceive only material names and qualities. We have no other power than to offer our respectful obeisances and prayers unto You, the transcendental person. The chanting of Your auspicious transcendental qualities will wipe out the sins of all mankind. That is the most auspicious activity for us, and we can thus partially understand Your supernatural position.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead has nothing to do with material perception. Even the impersonalist Śaṅkarācārya says, nārāyaṇaḥ paro ‘vyaktāt: "Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is beyond the material conception." We cannot concoct the form and attributes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We must simply accept the description given in Vedic literatures about the Lord’s form and activities. As stated in Brahma-saṁhitā (5.29):
lakṣāvṛteṣu surabhīr abhipālayantam
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
"I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, the first progenitor, who is tending the cows, yielding all desires, in abodes built with spiritual gems and surrounded by millions of purpose trees. He is always served with great reverence and affection by hundreds and thousands of goddesses of fortune." We can have some conception of the Absolute Truth, His form and His attributes simply by reading the descriptions given in Vedic literatures and authoritative statements given by exalted personalities like Brahmā, Nārada, Śukadeva Gosvāmī and others. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī says, ataḥ śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāmādi na bhaved grāhyam indriyaiḥ: "We cannot conceive the name, form and qualities of Śrī Kṛṣṇa through our material senses." Because of this, other names for the Lord are adhokṣaja and aprākṛta, which indicate that He is beyond any material senses. Out of His causeless mercy upon His devotees, the Lord appeared before Mahārāja Nābhi. Similarly, when we are engaged in the Lord’s devotional service, the Lord reveals Himself to us. Sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ. This is the only way to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā, bhaktyā mām abhijānāti yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ: one can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead through devotional service. There is no other way. We have to hear from the authorities and from the śāstras and consider the Supreme Lord in terms of their statements. We cannot imagine or concoct forms and attributes of the Lord.
dūrvāṅkurair api sambhṛtayā saparyayā kila parama parituṣyasi.
parijana—by Your servants; anurāga—in great ecstasy; viracita—executed; śabala—with a faltering voice; saṁśabda—with prayers; salila—water; sita-kisalaya—twigs bearing new leaves; tulasikā—tulasī leaves; dūrvā-aṅkuraiḥ—and with newly grown grass; api—also; sambhṛtayā—performed; saparyayā—by worship; kila—indeed; parama—O Supreme Lord; parituṣyasi—You become satisfied.
O Supreme Lord, You are full in every respect. You are certainly very satisfied when Your devotees offer You prayers with faltering voices and in ecstasy bring You tulasī leaves, water, twigs bearing new leaves, and newly grown grass. This surely makes You satisfied.
One does not need great wealth, education or opulence to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If one is fully absorbed in love and ecstasy, he need offer only a flower and a little water. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ yo me bhaktyā prayacchati: "If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it." (Bg. 9.26)
The Supreme Lord can be pleased only by devotional service: therefore it is said here that the Lord is surely satisfied by devotion and nothing else. Quoting from the Gautamīya-tantra, the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa states:
jalasya culukena vā
vikrīṇīte svam ātmānaṁ
"Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is very affectionate toward His devotees, sells Himself to a devotee who offers merely a tulasī leaf and a palmful of water." The Supreme Lord is causelessly merciful upon His devotee, so much so that even the poorest of men can offer Him a little water and a flower in devotion and thus please Him. This is due to His affectionate dealings with His devotees.
athānayāpi na bhavata ijyayoru-bhāra-bharayā
atha—otherwise; anayā—this; api—even; na—not; bhavataḥ—of Your exalted personality; ijyayā—by performance of sacrifice; urubhāra-bharayā—encumbered by much paraphernalia; samucitam—required; artham—use; iha—here; upalabhāmahe—we can see.
We have engaged in Your worship with many things and have offered sacrifices unto You, but we think that there is no need for so many arrangements to please Your Lordship.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī says that if one is offered varied foods but has no appetite, the offering has no value. In a big sacrificial ceremony there may be many things accumulated to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but if there is no devotion, attachment or love for the Lord, the arrangement is useless. The Lord is complete in Himself, and He does not need anything from us. However, if we offer Him a little water, a flower and a tulasi leaf, He will accept them. Bhakti, devotional service, is the main way to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is not a question of arranging huge sacrifices. The priests were regretful, thinking that they were not on the path of devotional service and that their sacrifice was not pleasing to the Lord.
ātmana evānusavanam añjasāvyatirekeṇa
puruṣārtha-svarūpasya kintu nāthāśiṣa āśāsānānām etad
abhisaṁrādhana-mātraṁ bhavitum arhati.
ātmanaḥ—self-sufficiently; eva—certainly; anusavanam—at every moment; añjasā—directly; avyatirekeṇa—without stopping; bobhūyamāna—increasing; aśeṣa—unlimitedly; puruṣa-artha—the goals of life; sva-rūpasya—Your actual identity; kintu—but; nātha—O Lord; āśiṣaḥ—benedictions for material enjoyment; āśāsānānām—of us, who are always desiring; etat—this; abhisaṁrādhana—for getting Your mercy; mātram—only; bhavitum arhati—can be.
All of life’s goals and opulences are directly, self-sufficiently, unceasingly and unlimitedly increasing in You at every moment. Indeed, You are unlimited enjoyment and blissful existence itself. As far as we are concerned, O Lord, we are always after material enjoyment. You do not need all these sacrificial arrangements, but they are meant for us so that we may be benedicted by Your Lordship. All these sacrifices are performed for our fruitive results, and they are not actually needed by You.
Being self-sufficient, the Supreme Lord does not need huge sacrifices. Fruitive activity for a more opulent life is for those who desire such material opulence for their interest. Yajñārthāt karmaṇo ‘nyatra loko ‘yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ: if we do not act to satisfy the Supreme Lord, we engage in māyā’s activities. We may construct a gorgeous temple and spend thousands of dollars, but such a temple is not required by the Lord. The Lord has many millions of temples for His residence, and He does not need our attempt. He does not require opulent activity at all. Such engagement is meant for our benefit. If we engage our money in constructing a gorgeous temple, we are freed from the reactions of our endeavors. This is for our benefit. In addition, if we attempt to do something nice for the Supreme Lord, He is pleased with us and gives us His benediction. In conclusion, the gorgeous arrangements are not for the Lord’s sake but for our own. If we somehow or other receive blessings and benedictions from the Lord, our consciousness can be purified and we can become eligible to return home, back to Godhead.
tad yathā bāliśānāṁ svayam
ātmanaḥ śreyaḥ param aviduṣāṁ parama-
parama-puruṣa prakarṣa-karuṇayā sva-mahimānaṁ cāpavargākhyam
upakalpayiṣyan svayaṁ nāpacita evetaravad ihopalakṣitaḥ.
tat—that; yathā—as; bāliśānām—of the fools; svayam—by Yourself; ātmanaḥ—own; śreyaḥ—welfare; param—ultimate; aviduṣām—of persons who do not know; parama-parama-puruṣa—O Lord of lords; prakarṣa-karuṇayā—by abundant causeless mercy; sva-mahimānam—Your personal glory; ca—and; apavarga-ākhyam—called apavarga (liberation); upakalpayiṣyan—desiring to give; svayam—personally; na apacitaḥ—not properly worshiped; eva—although; itara-vat—like an ordinary person; iha—here; upalakṣitaḥ—(You are) present and seen (by us).
O Lord of lords, we are completely ignorant of the execution of dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa, the process of liberation, because we do not actually know the goal of life. You have appeared personally before us like a person soliciting worship, but actually You are present here just so we can see You. You have come out of Your abundant and causeless mercy in order to serve our purpose, our interest, and give us the benefit of Your personal glory called apavarga, liberation. You have come, although You are not properly worshiped by us due to our ignorance.
Lord Viṣṇu was personally present at the sacrificial arena, but this does not mean that He had any interest in His own personal benefit. Similarly, the arcā-vigraha, the Deity in the temple, is present for the same purpose. Out of His causeless mercy, the Supreme Personality of Godhead presents Himself before us so that we can see Him. Since we have no transcendental vision, we cannot see the spiritual sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha of the Lord; therefore, out of His causeless mercy He comes in a form we can see. We can only see material things like stone and wood, and therefore He accepts a form of stone and wood and thus accepts our service in the temple. This is an exhibition of the Lord’s causeless mercy. Although He has no interest in such things, in order to receive our loving service, He agrees to act as He does. We cannot actually offer suitable paraphernalia for the Lord’s worship because we are completely ignorant. It was out of His causeless mercy that the Lord appeared in the sacrificial arena of Mahārāja Nābhi.
athāyam eva varo hy arhattama yarhi barhiṣi rājarṣer
bhavān nija-puruṣekṣaṇa-viṣaya āsīt.
atha—then; ayam—this; eva—certainly; varaḥ—benediction; hi—indeed; arhat-tama—O most worshipable of the worshipable; yarhi—because; barhiṣi—in the sacrifice; rāja-ṛṣeḥ—of King Nābhi; varada-ṛṣabhaḥ—the best of the benefactors; bhavān—Your Lordship; nija-puruṣa—of Your devotees; īkṣaṇa-viṣayaḥ—the object of the sight; āsīt—has become.
O most worshipable of all, You are the best of all benefactors, and Your appearance at saintly King Nābhi’s sacrificial arena is meant for our benediction. Because You have been seen by us, You have bestowed upon us the most valuable benediction.
Nija-puruṣa-īkṣaṇa-viṣaya. In Bhagavad-gītā (9.29) Kṛṣṇa says, samo ‘haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu: "I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him."
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is equal to everyone. In that sense, He has no enemies and no friends. Everyone is enjoying the fruitive reactions of his own work, and the Lord, within everyone’s heart, is observing and giving everyone the desired result. However, just as the devotees are always anxious to see the Supreme Lord satisfied in every way, similarly the Supreme Lord is very anxious to present Himself before His devotees. Śrī Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (4.8):
vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām
sambhavāmi yuge yuge
"To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium."
Thus Kṛṣṇa’s appearance is for the deliverance and satisfaction of His devotees. Actually He does not advent Himself simply to kill the demons, for that can be done by His agents. Lord Viṣṇu’s appearance at the sacrificial arena of Mahārāja Nābhi was just to please the King and his assistants. Otherwise there was no reason for His being present there.
ātmārāmāṇāṁ munīnām anavarata-pariguṇita-guṇa-gaṇa parama-
asaṅga—by detachment; niśita—strengthened; jñāna—of knowledge; anala—by the fire; vidhūta—removed; aśeṣa—unlimited; malānām—whose dirty things; bhavat-svabhāvānām—who have attained Your qualities; ātma-ārāmāṇām—who are self-satisfied; munīnām—of great sages; anavarata—incessantly; pariguṇita—recounted; guṇa-gaṇa—O Lord, whose spiritual qualities; parama-maṅgala—supreme bliss; āyana—produces; guṇa-gaṇa-kathanaḥ—He, the chanting of whose attributes; asi—You are.
Dear Lord, all the great sages who are thoughtful and saintly persons incessantly recount Your spiritual qualities. These sages have already burned up all the unlimited dirty things and, by the fire of knowledge, strengthened their detachment from the material world. Thus they have attained Your qualities and are self-satisfied. Yet even for those who feel spiritual bliss in chanting Your attributes, Your personal presence is very rare.
The priests in Mahārāja Nābhi’s sacrificial arena appreciated the personal presence of the Supreme Lord Viṣṇu, and they considered themselves very much obliged. The Lord’s appearance is rare even for great saintly persons who have become completely detached from this material world and whose hearts are clean due to constantly chanting the glories of the Lord. Such people are satisfied by chanting the transcendental qualities of the Lord. The Lord’s personal presence is not actually required. The priests are pointing out that the Lord’s personal presence is very rare even for such elevated sages but that He was so kind to them that now He was personally present. Therefore the priests were very much obliged.
atha kathañcit skhalana-kṣut-patana-jṛmbhaṇa-duravasthānādiṣu
vivaśānāṁ naḥ smaraṇāya jvara-maraṇa-daśāyām api sakala-kaśmala-
nirasanāni tava guṇa-kṛta-nāmadheyāni vacana-gocarāṇi bhavantu.
atha—still; kathañcit—somehow or other; skhalana—stumbling; kṣut—hunger; patana—falling down; jṛmbhaṇa—yawning; duravasthāna—because of being placed in an undesirable position; ādiṣu—and so on; vivaśānām—unable; naḥ—of ourselves; smaraṇāya—to remember; jvara-maraṇa-daśāyām—in the case of having a high fever at the time of death; api—also; sakala—all; kaśmala—sins; nirasanāni—which can dispel; tava—Your; guṇa—attributes; kṛta—activities; nāmadheyāni—names; vacana-gocarāṇi—possible to be uttered; bhavantu—let them become.
Dear Lord, we may not be able to remember Your name, form and qualities due to stumbling, hunger, falling down, yawning or being in a miserable diseased condition at the time of death when there is a high fever. We therefore pray unto You, O Lord, for You are very affectionate to Your devotees. Please help us remember You and utter Your holy names, attributes and activities, which can dispel all the reactions of our sinful lives.
The real success in life is ante nārāyaṇa-smṛti—remembering the holy name, attributes, activities and form of the Lord at the time of death. Although we may be engaged in the Lord’s devotional service in the temple, material conditions are so tough and inevitable that we may forget the Lord at the time of death due to a diseased condition or mental derangement. Therefore we should pray to the Lord to be able to remember His lotus feet without fail at the time of death, when we are in such a precarious condition. In this regard, one may also see Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.2.9-10 and 14-15).
kiñcāyaṁ rājarṣir apatya-kāmaḥ
prajāṁ bhavādṛśīm āśāsāna
īśvaram āśiṣāṁ svargāpavargayor api bhavantam upadhāvati prajāyām
artha-pratyayo dhanadam ivādhanaḥ phalīkaraṇam.
kiñca—moreover; ayam—this; rāja-ṛṣiḥ—pious King (Nābhi); apatya-kāmaḥ—desiring offspring; prajām—a son; bhavādṛśīm—exactly like You; āśāsānaḥ—hoping for; īśvaram—the supreme controller; āśiṣām—of benedictions; svarga-apavargayoḥ—of the heavenly planets and liberation; api—although; bhavantam—You; upadhāvati—worships; prajāyām—children; artha-pratyayaḥ—regarding as the ultimate goal of life; dhana-dam—unto a person who can give immense wealth as charity; iva—like; adhanaḥ—a poor man; phalīkaraṇam—a little husk.
Dear Lord, here is the great King Nābhi, whose ultimate goal in life is to have a son like You. Your Lordship, his position is like that of a person approaching a very rich man and begging for a little grain. Mahārāja Nābhi is so desirous of having a son that he is worshiping You for a son, although You can offer him any exalted position, including elevation to the heavenly planets or liberation back to Godhead.
The priests were a little ashamed that King Nābhi was performing a great sacrifice just to ask the Lord’s benediction for a son. The Lord could offer him promotion to the heavenly planets or the Vaikuṇṭha planets. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has taught us how to approach the Supreme Lord and ask Him for the ultimate benediction. He said: na dhanaṁ na janaṁ na sundarīṁ kavitāṁ vā jagad-īśa kāmaye. He did not want to ask the Supreme Lord for anything material. Material opulence means riches, a nice family, a good wife and many followers, but an intelligent devotee doesn’t ask the Supreme Lord for anything material. His only prayer is: mama janmani janmanīśvare bhavatād bhaktir ahaitukī tvayi. He wants to be engaged perpetually in the loving service of the Lord. He does not want promotion to the heavenly planets or mukti, liberation from material bondage. If this were the case, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu would not have said, mama janmani janmani. It doesn’t matter to a devotee whether or not he takes birth life after life, as long as he remains a devotee. Actually eternal liberty means returning home, back to Godhead. A devotee is never concerned about anything material. Although Nābhi Mahārāja wanted a son like Viṣṇu, wanting a son like God is also a form of sense gratification. A pure devotee wants only to engage in the Lord’s loving service.
ko vā iha te ‘parājito ‘parājitayā
kaḥ vā—who is that person; iha—within this material world; te—of Your Lordship; aparājitaḥ—not conquered; aparājitayā—by the unconquerable; māyayā—illusory energy; anavasita-padavya—whose path cannot be ascertained; anāvṛta-matiḥ—whose intelligence is not bewildered; viṣaya-viṣa—of material enjoyment, which is like poison; raya—by the course; anāvṛta—not covered; prakṛtiḥ—whose nature; anupāsita—without worshiping; mahat-caraṇaḥ—the lotus feet of great devotees.
Dear Lord, unless one worships the lotus feet of great devotees, one will be conquered by the illusory energy, and his intelligence will be bewildered. Indeed, who has not been carried away by the waves of material enjoyment, which are like poison? Your illusory energy is unconquerable. No one can see the path of this material energy or tell how it is working.
Mahārāja Nābhi was inclined to performing great sacrifices for begetting a son. The son might be as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but such a material desire—be it great or insignificant—is brought about by the influence of māyā. A devotee does not at all desire anything for sense gratification. Devotion is therefore explained as devoid of material desires (anyābhilāṣitā-śūnya). Everyone is subjected to the influence of māyā and entangled in all kinds of material desire, and Mahārāja Nābhi was no exception. Freedom from māyā’s influence is possible when one engages in the service of the great devotees (mahac-caraṇa-sevā). Without worshiping the lotus feet of a great devotee, one cannot be freed from māyā’s influence. Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura therefore says, chāḍiyā vaiṣṇava-sevā nistāra pāyeche kebā: "Who has been freed from māyā’s clutches without serving the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava?" Māyā is aparājita, and her influence is also aparājita. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (7.14):
daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī
mama māyā duratyayā
"This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome."
Only a devotee can surpass māyā’s great influence. It was no fault on Mahārāja Nābhi’s part that he wanted a son. He wanted a son like the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the best of all sons. By the association of the Lord’s devotee, one no longer desires material opulence. This is confirmed in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.54):
"sādhu-saṅga" sarva-śāstre kaya
lava-mātra sādhu-saṅge sarva-siddhi haya
and Madhya 22.51:
mahat-kṛpā vinā kona
karme ‘bhakti’ naya
kṛṣṇa-bhakti dūre rahu, saṁsāra nahe kṣaya
If one is serious about escaping māyā’s influence and returning home, back to Godhead, one must associate with a sādhu (devotee). That is the verdict of all scriptures. By the slight association of a devotee, one can be freed from the clutches of māyā. Without the mercy of the pure devotee, one cannot get freedom by any means. Certainly a pure devotee’s association is necessary in order to obtain the loving service of the Lord. One cannot be freed from māyā’s clutches without sādhu-saṅga, the benediction of a great devotee. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.5.32) Prahlāda Mahārāja says:
naiṣāṁ matis tāvad
spṛśaty anarthāpagamo yad arthaḥ
niṣkiñcanānāṁ na vṛṇīta yāvat
One cannot become the Lord’s pure devotee without taking the dust of a great devotee on his head (pāda-rajo-’bhiṣekam). A pure devotee is niṣkiñcana; he has no material desire to enjoy the material world. One has to take shelter of such a pure devotee in order to attain his qualities. The pure devotee is always free from the clutches of māyā and her influence.
yad u ha vāva tava punar adabhra-kartar iha
dhiyāṁ mandānāṁ nas tad yad deva-helanaṁ deva-devārhasi sāmyena
sarvān prativoḍhum aviduṣām.
yat—because; u ha vāva—indeed; tava—Your; punaḥ—again; adabhra-kartaḥ—O Lord, who performs many activities; iha—here, in this arena of sacrifice; samāhūtaḥ—invited; tatra—therefore; artha-dhiyām—who aspire to fulfill material desires; mandānām—not very intelligent; naḥ—of us; tat—that; yat—which; deva-helanam—disrespect of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; deva-deva—Lord of lords; arhasi—please; sāmyena—because of Your equipoised position; sarvān—everything; prativoḍhum—tolerate; aviduṣām—of us, who are all ignorant.
O Lord, You perform many wonderful activities. Our only aim was to acquire a son by performing this great sacrifice; therefore our intelligence is not very sharp. We are not experienced in ascertaining life’s goal. By inviting You to this negligible sacrifice for some material motive, we have certainly committed a great offense at Your lotus feet. Therefore, O Lord of lords, please excuse our offense because of Your causeless mercy and equal mind.
The priests were certainly unhappy to have called the Supreme Lord from Vaikuṇṭha for such an insignificant reason. A pure devotee never wants to see the Lord unnecessarily. The Lord is engaged in various activities, and the pure devotee does not want to see Him whimsically, for his own sense gratification. The pure devotee simply depends on the Lord’s mercy, and when the Lord is pleased, he can see Him face to face. The Lord is unseen even by demigods like Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva. By calling on the Supreme Lord, the priests of Nābhi Mahārāja proved themselves unintelligent; nonetheless, the Lord came out of His causeless mercy. All of them therefore wanted to be excused by the Lord.
Worship of the Supreme Lord for material gain is not approved by authorities. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (7.16):
catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ
janāḥ sukṛtino ‘rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī
jñānī ca bharatarṣabha
"O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me—the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute."
Initiation into bhakti begins when one is in a distressed condition or in want of money, or when one is inquisitive to understand the Absolute Truth. Nonetheless, people who approach the Supreme Lord in this way are not actually devotees. They are accepted as pious (sukṛtinaḥ) due to their inquiring about the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Not knowing the various activities and engagements of the Lord, such people unnecessarily disturb the Lord for material gain. However, the Lord is so kind that even though disturbed, He fulfills the desires of such beggars. The pure devotee is anyābhilāṣitā-śūnya; he has no motive behind his worship. He is not conducted by the influence of māyā in the form of karma or jñāna. The pure devotee is always prepared to execute the order of the Lord without personal consideration. The ṛtvijaḥ, the priests at the sacrifice, knew very well the distinction between karma and bhakti, and because they considered themselves under the influence of karma, fruitive activity, they begged the Lord’s pardon. They knew that the Lord had been invited to come for some paltry reason.
iti nigadenābhiṣṭūyamāno bhagavān
dharābhivāditābhivandita-caraṇaḥ sadayam idam āha.
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; iti—thus; nigadena—by prayers in prose; abhiṣṭūyamānaḥ—being worshiped; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; animiṣa-ṛṣabhaḥ—the chief of all the demigods; varṣa-dhara—by King Nābhi, the Emperor of Bhārata-varṣa; abhivādita—worshiped; abhivandita—were bowed down to; caraṇaḥ—whose feet; sadayam—kindly; idam—this; āha—said.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: The priests, who were even worshiped by King Nābhi, the Emperor of Bhārata-varṣa, offered prayers in prose [generally they were in poetry] and bowed down at the Lord’s lotus feet. The Lord of lords, the ruler of the demigods, was very pleased with them, and He began to speak as follows.
aho batāham ṛṣayo bhavadbhir
avitatha-gīrbhir varam asulabham
abhiyācito yad amuṣyātmajo mayā sadṛśo bhūyād iti mamāham
evābhirūpaḥ kaivalyād athāpi brahma-vādo na mṛṣā bhavitum arhati
mamaiva hi mukhaṁ yad dvija-deva-kulam.
śrī-bhagavān uvāca—the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; aho—alas; bata—certainly I am pleased; aham—I; ṛṣayaḥ—O great sages; bhavadbhiḥ—by you; avitatha-gīrbhiḥ—whose words are all true; varam—for a benediction; asulabham—very difficult to achieve; abhiyācitaḥ—have been requested; yat—that; amuṣya—of King Nābhi; ātma-jaḥ—a son; mayā sadṛśaḥ—like Me; bhūyāt—there may be; iti—thus; mama—My; aham—I; eva—only; abhirūpaḥ—equal; kaivalyāt—because of being without a second; athāpi—nevertheless; brahma-vādaḥ—the words spoken by exalted brāhmaṇas; na—not; mṛṣā—false; bhavitum—to become; arhati—ought; mama—My; eva—certainly; hi—because; mukham—mouth; yat—that; dvija-deva-kulam—the class of pure brāhmaṇas.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead replied: O great sages, I am certainly very pleased with your prayers. You are all truthful. You have prayed for the benediction of a son like Me for King Nābhi, but this is very difficult to obtain. Since I am the Supreme Person without a second and since no one is equal to Me, another personality like Me is not possible to find. In any case, because you are all qualified brāhmaṇas, your vibrations should not prove untrue. I consider the brāhmaṇas who are well qualified with brahminical qualities to be as good as My own mouth.
The word avitatha-gīrbhiḥ means "they whose spoken vibrations cannot be nullified." The brāhmaṇas (dvija, the twice-born), are given a chance by the śāstric regulations to become almost as powerful as the Supreme Lord. Whatever a brāhmaṇa speaks cannot be nullified or changed in any circumstance. According to the Vedic injunctions, a brāhmaṇa is the mouth of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; therefore in all rituals a brāhmaṇa is offered food (brāhmaṇa-bhojana) because when a brāhmaṇa eats, it is considered that the Supreme Lord Himself eats. Similarly, whatever a brāhmaṇa speaks cannot be changed. It must act. The learned sages who were priests at Mahārāja Nābhi’s sacrifice were not only brāhmaṇas but were so qualified that they were like devas, demigods, or God Himself. If this were not the case, how could they invite Lord Viṣṇu to come to the sacrificial arena? God is one, and God does not belong to this or that religion. In Kali-yuga, different religious sects consider their God to be different from the God of others, but that is not possible. God is one, and He is appreciated according to different angles of vision. In this verse the word kaivalyāt means that God has no competitor. There is only one God. In the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (6.8) it is said, na tat-samaś cābhyadhikaś ca dṛśyate: "No one is found to be equal to Him or greater than Him." That is the definition of God.
tata āgnīdhrīye ‘ṁśa-kalayāvatariṣyāmy
tataḥ—therefore; āgnīdhrīye—in the wife of Nābhi, the son of Āgnīdhra; aṁśa-kalayā—by an expansion of My personal form; avatariṣyāmi—I shall advent Myself; ātma-tulyam—My equal; anupalabhamānaḥ—not finding.
Since I cannot find anyone equal to Me, I shall personally expand Myself into a plenary portion and thus advent Myself in the womb of Merudevī, the wife of Mahārāja Nābhi, the son of Āgnīdhra.
This is an example of the omnipotence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although He is one without a second, He expands Himself by svāṁśa, His personal expansion, and sometimes by vibhinnāṁśa, or His separated expansion. Lord Viṣṇu herein agrees to send His personal expansion as the son of Merudevī, the wife of Mahārāja Nābhi, who is the son of Āgnīdhra. The ṛtvijaḥ, the priests, knew that God is one, yet they prayed for the Supreme Lord to become the son of Mahārāja Nābhi to let the world know that the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is one without a second. When He incarnates, He expands Himself in different potencies.
iti niśāmayantyā merudevyāḥ patim abhidhāyāntardadhe bhagavān.
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; iti—thus; niśāmayantyāḥ—who was listening; merudevyāḥ—in the presence of Merudevī; patim—unto her husband; abhidhāya—having spoken; antardadhe—disappeared; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: After saying this, the Lord disappeared. The wife of King Nābhi, Queen Merudevī, was sitting by the side of her husband, and consequently she could hear everything the Supreme Lord had spoken.
According to the Vedic injunctions, one should perform sacrifices in the company of one’s own wife. Sapatnīko dharmam ācaret: religious rituals should be performed with one’s wife; therefore Mahārāja Nābhi conducted his great sacrifice with his wife by his side.
barhiṣi tasminn eva viṣṇudatta bhagavān
nābheḥ priya-cikīrṣayā tad-avarodhāyane merudevyāṁ dharmān
darśayitu-kāmo vāta-raśanānāṁ śramaṇānām ṛṣīṇām ūrdhva-
manthināṁ śuklayā tanuvāvatatāra.
barhiṣi—in the arena of sacrifice; tasmin—that; eva—in this way; viṣṇu-datta—O Mahārāja Parīkṣit; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; parama-ṛṣibhiḥ—by the great ṛṣis; prasāditaḥ—being pleased; nābheḥ priya-cikīrṣayā—to please King Nābhi; tat-avarodhāyane—in his wife; merudevyām—Merudevī; dharmān—the principles of religion; darśayitu-kāmaḥ—desiring to exhibit how to perform; vāta-raśanānām—of the sannyāsīs (who have almost no cloth); śramaṇānām—of the vānaprasthas; ṛṣīṇām—of the great sages; ūrdhva-manthinām—of the brahmacārīs; śuklayā tanuvā—in His original spiritual form, which is above the modes of material nature; avatatāra—appeared as an incarnation.
O Viṣṇudatta, Parīkṣit Mahārāja, the Supreme Personality of Godhead was pleased by the great sages at that sacrifice. Consequently the Lord decided to personally exhibit the method of executing religious principles [as observed by brahmacārīs, sannyāsīs, vānaprasthas and gṛhasthas engaged in rituals] and also satisfy Mahārāja Nābhi’s desire. Consequently He appeared as the son of Merudevī in His original spiritual form, which is above the modes of material nature.
When the Supreme Lord appears or descends as an incarnation within this material world, He does not accept a body made of the three modes of material nature (sattva-guṇa, rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa). Māyāvādī philosophers say that the impersonal God appears in this material world by accepting a body in the sattva-guṇa. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī states that the word śukla means "consisting of śuddha-sattva." Lord Viṣṇu descends in His śuddha-sattva form. Śuddha-sattva refers to the sattva-guṇa which is never contaminated. In this material world, even the mode of goodness (sattva-guṇa) is contaminated by tinges of rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa. When sattva-guṇa is never contaminated by rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa, it is called śuddha-sattva. Sattvaṁ viśuddhaṁ vasudeva-śabditam (Bhāg. 4.3.23). That is the platform of vasudeva, whereby the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vāsudeva, can be experienced. In Bhagavad-gītā (4.7) Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself says:
yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham
"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself."
Unlike ordinary living entities, the Supreme Lord is not forced by the modes of material nature to appear. He appears dharmān darśayitu-kāma—to show how to execute the functions of a human being. The word dharma is meant for human beings and is never used in connection with beings inferior to human beings, such as animals. Unfortunately, without being guided by the Supreme Lord, human beings sometimes manufacture a process of dharma by concoction. Actually dharma cannot be made by man. Dharmaṁ tu sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītam. (Bhāg. 6.3.19) Dharma is given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, just as the law is given by the state government. Man-made dharma has no meaning. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam refers to man-made dharma as kaitava-dharma, cheating religion. The Supreme Lord sends an avatāra (incarnation) to teach human society the proper way to execute religious principles. Such religious principles are bhakti-mārga. As the Supreme Lord Himself says in Bhagavad-gītā: sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja. The son of Mahārāja Nābhi, Ṛṣabhadeva, appeared on this earth to preach the principles of religion. That will be explained in the Fifth Chapter of this Fifth Canto.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Fifth Canto, Third Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled "Ṛṣabhadeva’s Appearance in the Womb of Merudevī, the wife of King Nābhi."
In this chapter, Ṛṣabhadeva, the son of Mahārāja Nābhi, begot a hundred sons, and during the reign of those sons the world was very happy in all respects. When Ṛṣabhadeva appeared as the son of Mahārāja Nābhi, He was appreciated by the people as the most exalted and beautiful personality of that age. His poise, influence, strength, enthusiasm, bodily luster and other transcendental qualities were beyond compare. The word ṛṣabha refers to the best, or the supreme. Due to the superexcellent attributes of the son of Mahārāja Nābhi, the King named his son Ṛṣabha, or "the best." His influence was incomparable. Although there was a scarcity of rain, Ṛṣabhadeva did not care for Indra, the King of heaven, who is in charge of supplying rain. Through His own potency, Ṛṣabhadeva sumptuously covered Ajanābha with ample rain. Upon receiving Ṛṣabhadeva, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as his son, King Nābhi began to raise Him very carefully. After that, he entrusted the ruling power to Him and, retiring from family life, lived at Badarikāśrama completely engaged in the worship of Vāsudeva, the Supreme Lord. To follow social customs, Lord Ṛṣabhadeva for a while became a student in the gurukula, and after returning, He followed the orders of His guru and accepted a wife named Jayantī, who had been given to Him by the King of heaven, Indra. He begot a hundred sons in the womb of Jayantī. Of these hundred sons, the eldest was known as Bharata. Since the reign of Mahārāja Bharata, this planet has been called Bhārata-varṣa. Ṛṣabhadeva’s other sons were headed by Kuśāvarta, Ilāvarta, Brahmāvarta, Malaya, Ketu, Bhadrasena, Indraspṛk, Vidarbha and Kīkaṭa. There were also other sons named Kavi, Havi, Antarikṣa, Prabuddha, Pippalāyana, Āvirhotra, Drumila, Camasa and Karabhājana. Instead of ruling the kingdom, these nine became mendicant preachers of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, following the religious precepts of the Bhāgavatam. Their characteristics and activities are described in the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam during the talks between Vasudeva and Nārada at Kurukṣetra. To teach the general populace, King Ṛṣabhadeva performed many sacrifices and taught His sons how to rule the citizens.
atha ha tam utpattyaivābhivyajyamāna-bhagaval-lakṣaṇaṁ
edhamānānubhāvaṁ prakṛtayaḥ prajā brāhmaṇā devatāś cāvani-tala-
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; atha ha—thus (after the Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared); tam—Him; utpattyā—from the beginning of His appearance; eva—even; abhivyajyamāna—distinctly manifested; bhagavat-lakṣaṇam—possessing the symptoms of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; sāmya—equal to everyone; upaśama—completely peaceful, in control of the senses and mind; vairāgya—renunciation; aiśvarya—opulences; mahā-vibhūtibhiḥ—with great attributes; anudinam—day after day; edhamāna—increasing; anubhāvam—His power; prakṛtayaḥ—the ministers; prajāḥ—the citizens; brāhmaṇāḥ—the learned scholars in full knowledge of Brahman; devatāḥ—the demigods; ca—and; avani-tala—the surface of the globe; samavanāya—to rule; atitarām—greatly; jagṛdhuḥ—desired.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: As soon as the Lord was born as the son of Mahārāja Nābhi, He manifested symptoms of the Supreme Lord, such as marks on the bottoms of His feet [the flag, thunderbolt, etc.]. This son was equal to everyone and very peaceful. He could control His senses and His mind, and, possessing all opulence, He did not hanker for material enjoyment. Endowed with all these attributes, the son of Mahārāja Nābhi became more powerful day after day. Due to this, the citizens, learned brāhmaṇas, demigods and ministers wanted Ṛṣabhadeva to be appointed ruler of the earth.
In these days of cheap incarnations, it is very interesting to note the bodily symptoms found in an incarnation. From the very beginning of His birth, it was observed that Ṛṣabhadeva’s feet were marked with the transcendental signs (a flag, thunderbolt, lotus flower, etc.). In addition to this, as the Lord began to grow, He became very prominent. He was equal to everyone. He did not favor one person and neglect another. An incarnation of God must have the six opulences—wealth, strength, knowledge, beauty, fame and renunciation. It is said that although Ṛṣabhadeva was endowed with all opulences, He was not at all attached to material enjoyment. He was self-controlled and therefore liked by everyone. Due to His superexcellent qualities, everyone wanted Him to rule the earth. An incarnation of God has to be accepted by experienced people and by the symptoms described in the śāstras. An incarnation is not accepted simply by the adulation of foolish people.
tasya ha vā itthaṁ varṣmaṇā
varīyasā bṛhac-chlokena caujasā balena
śriyā yaśasā vīrya-śauryābhyāṁ ca pitā ṛṣabha itīdaṁ nāma cakāra.
tasya—of Him; ha vā—certainly; ittham—thus; varṣmaṇā—by the bodily features; varīyasā—most exalted; bṛhat-ślokena—decorated with all the high qualities described by poets; ca—also; ojasā—by prowess; balena—by strength; śriyā—by beauty; yaśasā—by fame; vīrya-śauryābhyām—by influence and heroism; ca—and; pitā—the father (Mahārāja Nābhi); ṛṣabhaḥ—the best; iti—thus; idam—this; nāma—name; cakāra—gave.
When the son of Mahārāja Nābhi became visible, He evinced all good qualities described by the great poets—namely, a well-built body with all the symptoms of the Godhead, prowess, strength, beauty, name, fame, influence and enthusiasm. When the father, Mahārāja Nābhi, saw all these qualities, he thought his son to be the best of human beings or the supreme being. Therefore he gave Him the name Ṛṣabha.
To accept someone as God or an incarnation of God, one must observe the symptoms of God in his body. All the symptoms were found in the body of Mahārāja Nābhi’s extraordinarily powerful son. His body was well structured, and He displayed all the transcendental qualities. He showed great influence, and He could control His mind and senses. Consequently He was named Ṛṣabha, which indicates that He was the supreme living being.
yasya hīndraḥ spardhamāno bhagavān varṣe
na vavarṣa tad
avadhārya bhagavān ṛṣabhadevo yogeśvaraḥ prahasyātma-
yogamāyayā sva-varṣam ajanābhaṁ nāmābhyavarṣat.
yasya—of whom; hi—indeed; indraḥ—King Indra of heaven; spardhamānaḥ—being envious; bhagavān—very opulent; varṣe—on Bhārata-varṣa; na vavarṣa—did not pour water; tat—that; avadhārya—knowing; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; ṛṣabhadevaḥ—Ṛṣabhadeva; yoga-īśvaraḥ—the master of all mystic power; prahasya—smiling; ātma-yoga-māyayā—by His own spiritual potency; sva-varṣam—on His place; ajanābham—Ajanābha; nāma—named; abhyavarṣat—He poured water.
Indra, the King of heaven, who is very materially opulent, became envious of King Ṛṣabhadeva. Consequently he stopped pouring water on the planet known as Bhārata-varṣa. At that time the Supreme Lord, Ṛṣabhadeva, the master of all mystic power, understood King Indra’s purpose and smiled a little. Then, by His own prowess, through yogamāyā [His internal potency], He profusely poured water upon His own place, which was known as Ajanābha.
We find the word bhagavān used twice in this verse. Both King Indra and Ṛṣabhadeva, the incarnation of the Supreme Lord, are described as bhagavān. Sometimes Nārada and Lord Brahmā are also addressed as bhagavān. The word bhagavān means that one is a very opulent and powerful person like Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, Nārada or Indra. They are all addressed as bhagavān due to their extraordinary opulence. King Ṛṣabhadeva is an incarnation of the Supreme Lord, and therefore He was the original Bhagavān. Consequently He is described herein as yogeśvara, which indicates that He has the most powerful spiritual potency. He is not dependent on King Indra for water. He can supply water Himself, and He did so in this case. In Bhagavad-gītā, it is stated: yajñād bhavati parjanyaḥ. Due to the performance of yajña, clouds of water are manifest in the sky. Clouds and rainfall are under the management of Indra, the heavenly King, but when Indra is neglectful, the Supreme Lord Himself, who is also known as yajña or yajña-pati, takes the task upon Himself. Consequently there was sufficient rainfall in the place named Ajanābha. When yajña-pati wants to, He can do anything without the help of any subordinate. Therefore the Supreme Lord is known as almighty. In the present age of Kali there will eventually be a great scarcity of water (anāvṛṣṭi), for the general populace, due to ignorance and the scarcity of yajñic ingredients, will neglect to perform yajñas. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam therefore advises: yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyaiḥ yajanti hi sumedhasaḥ. After all, yajña is meant to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In this age of Kali, there is great scarcity and ignorance; nonetheless, everyone can perform saṅkīrtana-yajña. Every family in every society can conduct saṅkīrtana-yajña at least every evening. In this way there will be no disturbance or scarcity of rain. It is essential for the people in this age to perform the saṅkīrtana-yajña in order to be materially happy and to advance spiritually.
nābhis tu yathābhilaṣitaṁ suprajastvam
vihvalo gadgadākṣarayā girā svairaṁ gṛhīta-naraloka-sadharmaṁ
bhagavantaṁ purāṇa-puruṣaṁ māyā-vilasita-matir vatsa tāteti
sānurāgam upalālayan parāṁ nirvṛtim upagataḥ.
nābhiḥ—King Nābhi; tu—certainly; yathā-abhilaṣitam—according to his desire; su-prajastvam—the most beautiful son; avarudhya—getting; ati-pramoda—of great jubilation; bhara—by an excess; vihvalaḥ—being overwhelmed; gadgada-akṣarayā—faltering in ecstasy; girā—with a voice; svairam—by His independent will; gṛhīta—accepted; nara-loka-sadharmam—acting as if a human being; bhagavantam—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; purāṇa-puruṣam—the oldest among living beings; māyā—by yogamāyā; vilasita—bewildered; matiḥ—his mentality; vatsa—my dear son; tāta—my darling; iti—thus; sa-anurāgam—with great affection; upalālayan—raising; parām—transcendental; nirvṛtim—bliss; upagataḥ—achieved.
Due to getting a perfect son according to his desire, King Nābhi was always overwhelmed with transcendental bliss and was very affectionate to his son. It was with ecstasy and a faltering voice that he addressed Him, "My dear son, my darling." This mentality was brought about by yogamāyā, whereby he accepted the Supreme Lord, the supreme father, as his own son. Out of His supreme good will, the Lord became his son and dealt with everyone as if He were an ordinary human being. Thus King Nābhi began to raise his transcendental son with great affection, and he was overwhelmed with transcendental bliss, joy and devotion.
The word māyā is used in the sense of illusion. Considering the Supreme Personality of Godhead to be his own son, Mahārāja Nābhi was certainly in illusion, but this was transcendental illusion. This illusion is required; otherwise how can one accept the supreme father as his own son? The Supreme Lord appears as the son of one of His devotees, just as Lord Kṛṣṇa appeared as the son of Yaśodā and Nanda Mahārāja. These devotees could never think of their son as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for such appreciation would hamper their relationship of paternal love.
viditānurāgam āpaura-prakṛti jana-pado
rājā nābhir ātmajaṁ
samaya-setu-rakṣāyām abhiṣicya brāhmaṇeṣūpanidhāya saha
merudevyā viśālāyāṁ prasanna-nipuṇena tapasā samādhi-yogena
nara-nārāyaṇākhyaṁ bhagavantaṁ vāsudevam upāsīnaḥ kālena tan-
vidita—known very well; anurāgam—popularity; āpaura-prakṛti—among all the citizens and government officers; jana-padaḥ—desiring to serve the people in general; rājā—the King; nābhiḥ—Nābhi; ātmajam—his son; samaya-setu-rakṣāyām—to protect the people strictly according to the Vedic principles of religious life; abhiṣicya—enthroning; brāhmaṇeṣu—to the learned brāhmaṇas; upanidhāya—entrusting; saha—with; merudevyā—his wife. Merudevī; viśālāyām—in Badarikāśrama; prasanna-nipuṇena—performed with great satisfaction and expertise; tapasā—by austerities and penances; samādhi-yogena—by full samādhi; nara-nārāyaṇa-ākhyam—named Nara-Nārāyaṇa; bhagavantam—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; vāsudevam—Kṛṣṇa; upāsīnaḥ—worshiping; kālena—in due course of time; tat-mahimānam—His glorious abode, the spiritual world, Vaikuṇṭha; avāpa—achieved.
King Nābhi understood that his son, Ṛṣabhadeva, was very popular among the citizens and among government officers and ministers. Understanding the popularity of his son, Mahārāja Nābhi enthroned Him as the emperor of the world to give protection to the general populace in terms of the Vedic religious system. To do this, he entrusted Him into the hands of learned brāhmaṇas, who would guide Him in administrating the government. Then Mahārāja Nābhi and his wife, Merudevī, went to Badarikāśrama in the Himalaya Mountains, where the King engaged Himself very expertly in austerities and penances with great jubilation. In full samādhi he worshiped the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nara-Nārāyaṇa, who is Kṛṣṇa in His plenary expansion. By doing so, in course of time Mahārāja Nābhi was elevated to the spiritual world known as Vaikuṇṭha.
When Mahārāja Nābhi saw that his son Ṛṣabhadeva was popular with the general populace and the governmental servants, he chose to install Him on the imperial throne. In addition, he wanted to entrust his son into the hands of the learned brāhmaṇas. This means that a monarch was supposed to govern strictly according to Vedic principles under the guidance of learned brāhmaṇas, who could advise Him according to the standard Vedic scriptures like Manu-smṛti and similar śāstras. It is the duty of the king to rule the citizens according to Vedic principles. According to Vedic principles, society is divided into four categories—brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra. Cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ. After dividing society in this way, it is the king’s duty to see that everyone executes Vedic principles according to his caste. A brāhmaṇa must perform the duty of a brāhmaṇa without cheating the public. It is not that one attains the name of a brāhmaṇa without the qualifications. It is the king’s duty to see that everyone engages in his occupational duty according to Vedic principles. In addition, retirement at the end of life is compulsory. Mahārāja Nābhi, although still a king, retired from family life and went with his wife to a place called Badarikāśrama in the Himalayas, where the Deity Nara-Nārāyaṇa is worshiped. The words prasanna-nipuṇena tapasā indicate that the King accepted all kinds of austerity very expertly and jubilantly. He did not at all mind leaving his comfortable life at home, although he was the emperor. Despite undergoing severe austerities and penances, he felt very pleased at Badarikāśrama, and he did everything there expertly. In this way, being fully absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness (samādhi-yoga), always thinking of Kṛṣṇa, Vāsudeva, Mahārāja Nābhi attained success at the end of his life and was promoted to the spiritual world, Vaikuṇṭhaloka.
This is the way of Vedic life. One must stop the process of repeated birth and death and return home, back to Godhead. The words tan-mahimānam avāpa are significant in this regard. Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī says that mahimā means liberation in this life. We should act in such a way in this life that after giving up this body, we will become liberated from the bondage of repeated birth and death. This is called jīvan-mukti. Śrīla Vīrarāghava Ācārya states that in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad there are eight symptoms of a jīvan-mukta, a person who is already liberated even when living in this body. The first symptom of one so liberated is that he is freed from all sinful activity (apahata-pāpa). As long as one is under the clutches of māyā in the material energy, one has to engage in sinful activity. Bhagavad-gītā describes such people as duṣkṛtinaḥ, which indicates that they are always engaged in sinful activity. One who is liberated in this life does not commit any sinful activities. Sinful activity involves illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication and gambling. Another symptom of a liberated person is vijara, which indicates that he is not subjected to the miseries of old age. Another symptom is vimṛtyu. A liberated person prepares himself in such a way that he does not take on any more material bodies, which are destined to die. In other words, he does not fall down again to repeat birth and death. Another symptom is viśoka, which indicates that he is callous to material distress and happiness. Another is vijighatsa, which indicates that he no longer desires material enjoyment. Another symptom is apipātā, which means that he has no desire other than to engage in the devotional service of Kṛṣṇa, his dearmost pursuable Lord. A further symptom is satya-kāma, which indicates that all his desires are directed to the Supreme Truth, Kṛṣṇa. He does not want anything else. He is satya-saṅkalpa. Whatever he desires is fulfilled by the grace of Kṛṣṇa. First of all, he does not desire anything for his material benefit, and secondly if he desires anything at all, he simply desires to serve the Supreme Lord. That desire is fulfilled by the Lord’s grace. That is called satya-saṅkalpa. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī points out that the word mahimā means returning to the spiritual world, back home, back to Vaikuṇṭha. Śrī Śukadeva says that the word mahimā means that the devotee attains the qualities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called sadharma, or "the same quality." Just as Kṛṣṇa is never born and never dies, His devotees who return to Godhead never die and never take birth within the material world.
yasya ha pāṇḍaveya ślokāv udāharanti—
ko nu tat karma rājarṣer
nābher anv ācaret pumān
apatyatām agād yasya
hariḥ śuddhena karmaṇā
yasya—of whom; ha—indeed; pāṇḍaveya—O Mahārāja Parīkṣit; ślokau—two verses; udāharanti—recite; kaḥ—who; nu—then; tat—that; karma—work; rāja-ṛṣeḥ—of the pious King; nābheḥ—Nābhi; anu—following; ācaret—could execute; pumān—a man; apatyatām—sonhood; agāt—accepted; yasya—whose; hariḥ—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; śuddhena—pure, executed in devotional service; karmaṇā—by activities.
O Mahārāja Parīkṣit, to glorify Mahārāja Nābhi, the old sages composed two verses. One of them is this: "Who can attain the perfection of Mahārāja Nābhi? Who can attain his activities? Because of his devotional service, the Supreme Personality of Godhead agreed to become his son."
The words śuddhena karmaṇā are significant in this verse. If work is not carried out in devotional service, it is contaminated by the modes of material nature. That is explained in Bhagavad-gītā: yajñārthāt karmaṇo ‘nyatra loko ‘yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ. Activities performed only for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord are pure and are not contaminated by the modes of material nature. All other activities are contaminated by the modes of ignorance and passion, as well as goodness. All material activities meant for satisfying the senses are contaminated, and Mahārāja Nābhi did not perform anything contaminated. He simply executed his transcendental activities even when performing yajña. Consequently he obtained the Supreme Lord as his son.
brahmaṇyo ‘nyaḥ kuto nābher
yasya barhiṣi yajñeśaṁ
darśayām āsur ojasā
brahmaṇyaḥ—a devotee of the brāhmaṇas; anyaḥ—any other; kutaḥ—where is; nābheḥ—besides Mahārāja Nābhi; viprāḥ—the brāhmaṇas; maṅgala-pūjitāḥ—well worshiped and satisfied; yasya—of whom; barhiṣi—in the sacrificial arena; yajña-īśam—the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the enjoyer of all sacrificial ceremonies; darśayām āsuḥ—showed; ojasā—by their brahminical prowess.
[The second prayer is this.] "Who is a better worshiper of brāhmaṇas than Mahārāja Nābhi? Because he worshiped the qualified brāhmaṇas to their full satisfaction, the brāhmaṇas, by their brahminical prowess, showed Mahārāja Nābhi the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa, in person."
The brāhmaṇas engaged as priests in the sacrificial ceremony were not ordinary brāhmaṇas. They were so powerful that they could bring forth the Supreme Personality of Godhead by their prayers. Thus Mahārāja Nābhi was able to see the Lord face to face. Unless one is a Vaiṣṇava, he cannot call forth the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Lord does not accept an invitation unless one is a Vaiṣṇava. Therefore it is said in Padma Purāṇa:
avaiṣṇavo gurur na syād
vaiṣṇavaḥ śva-paco guruḥ
"A scholarly brāhmaṇa expert in all subjects of Vedic knowledge is unfit to become a spiritual master without being a Vaiṣṇava, but a person born in a family of a lower caste can become a spiritual master if he is a Vaiṣṇava." These brāhmaṇas were certainly very expert in chanting the Vedic mantras. They were competent in the performance of the Vedic rituals, and over and above this they were Vaiṣṇavas. Therefore by their spiritual powers they could call on the Supreme Personality of Godhead and enable their disciple, Mahārāja Nābhi, to see the Lord face to face. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura comments that the word ojasā means "by dint of devotional service."
atha ha bhagavān ṛṣabhadevaḥ sva-varṣaṁ
anumanyamānaḥ pradarśita-gurukula-vāso labdha-varair gurubhir
anujñāto gṛhamedhināṁ dharmān anuśikṣamāṇo jayantyām indra-dattāyām
ubhaya-lakṣaṇaṁ karma samāmnāyāmnātam abhiyuñjann
ātmajānām ātma-samānānāṁ śataṁ janayām āsa.
atha—thereupon (after the departure of his father); ha—indeed; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; ṛṣabha-devaḥ—Ṛṣabhadeva; sva—His own; varṣam—kingdom; karma-kṣetram—the field of activities; anumanyamānaḥ—accepting as; pradarśita—shown as an example; guru-kula-vāsaḥ—lived at the gurukula; labdha—having achieved; varaiḥ—gifts; gurubhiḥ—by the spiritual masters; anujñātaḥ—being ordered; gṛha-medhinām—of the householders; dharmān—duties; anuśikṣamāṇaḥ—teaching by example; jayantyām—in His wife, Jayantī; indra-dattāyām—offered by Lord Indra; ubhaya-lakṣaṇam—of both types; karma—activities; samāmnāyāmnātam—mentioned in the scriptures; abhiyuñjan—performing; ātmajānām—sons; ātma-samānānām—exactly like Himself; śatam—one hundred; janayām āsa—begot.
After Nābhi Mahārāja departed for Badarikāśrama, the Supreme Lord, Ṛṣabhadeva, understood that His kingdom was His field of activities. He therefore showed Himself as an example and taught the duties of a householder by first accepting brahmacarya under the direction of spiritual masters. He also went to live at the spiritual masters’ place, gurukula. After His education was finished, He gave gifts (guru-dakṣiṇā) to His spiritual masters and then accepted the life of a householder. He took a wife named Jayantī and begot one hundred sons who were as powerful and qualified as He Himself. His wife Jayantī had been offered to Him by Indra, the King of heaven. Ṛṣabhadeva and Jayantī performed householder life in an exemplary way, carrying out ritualistic activities ordained by the śruti and smṛti śāstra.
Being an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Ṛṣabhadeva had nothing to do with material affairs. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām: the purpose of an incarnation is to liberate His devotees and to stop the demoniac activities of nondevotees. These are the two functions of the Supreme Lord when He incarnates. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has said that in order to preach, one must live a practical life and show people how to do things. Āpani ācari’ bhakti śikhāimu sabāre. One cannot teach others unless he behaves the same way himself. Ṛṣabhadeva was an ideal king, and He took His education in the gurukula, although He was already educated because the Supreme Lord is omniscient. Although Ṛṣabhadeva had nothing to learn from gurukula, He went there just to teach the people in general how to take an education from the right source, from Vedic teachers. He then entered householder life and lived according to the principles of Vedic knowledge—śruti and smṛti. In his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.10) Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, quoting the Skanda Purāṇa, states:
aikāntikī harer bhaktir
Human society must follow the instructions received from śruti and smṛti, Vedic literature. Practically applied in life this is worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead according to the pāñcarātrika-vidhi. Every human being must advance his spiritual life and at the end return home, back to Godhead. Mahārāja Ṛṣabhadeva strictly followed all these principles. He remained an ideal gṛhastha and taught His sons how to become perfect in spiritual life. These are some examples of how He ruled the earth and completed His mission as an incarnation.
yeṣāṁ khalu mahā-yogī bharato jyeṣṭhaḥ
śreṣṭha-guṇa āsīd yenedaṁ
varṣaṁ bhāratam iti vyapadiśanti.
yeṣām—of whom; khalu—indeed; mahā-yogī—a very highly exalted devotee of the Lord; bharataḥ—Bharata; jyeṣṭhaḥ—the eldest; śreṣṭha-guṇaḥ—qualified with the best attributes; āsīt—was; yena—by whom; idam—this; varṣam—planet; bhāratam—Bhārata; iti—thus; vyapadiśanti—people call.
Of Ṛṣabhadeva’s one hundred sons, the eldest, named Bharata, was a great, exalted devotee qualified with the best attributes. In his honor, this planet has become known as Bhārata-varṣa.
This planet known as Bhārata-varṣa is also called puṇya-bhūmi, the pious land. At the present moment Bhārata-bhūmi, or Bhārata-varṣa, is a small piece of land extending from the Himalaya Mountains to Cape Comorin. Sometimes this peninsula is called puṇya-bhūmi. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has given special importance to the people of this land.
bhārata-bhūmite haila manuṣya-janma
janma sārthaka kari’ kara para-upakāra
"One who has taken his birth as a human being in the land of India (Bhārata-varṣa) should make his life successful and work for the benefit of all other people." (Cc. Ādi 9.41) The inhabitants of this piece of land are very fortunate. They can purify their existence by accepting this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement and go outside Bhārata-bhūmi (India) and preach this cult to benefit the whole world.
tam anu kuśāvarta ilāvarto brahmāvarto malayaḥ
indraspṛg vidarbhaḥ kīkaṭa iti nava navati pradhānāḥ.
tam—him; anu—following; kuśāvarta—Kuśāvarta; ilāvartaḥ—Ilāvarta; brahmāvartaḥ—Brahmāvarta; malayaḥ—Malaya; ketuḥ—Ketu; bhadra-senaḥ—Bhadrasena; indra-spṛk—Indraspṛk; vidarbhaḥ—Vidarbha; kīkaṭaḥ—Kīkaṭa; iti—thus; nava—nine; navati—ninety; pradhānāḥ—older than.
Following Bharata, there were ninety-nine other sons. Among these were nine elderly sons, named Kuśāvarta, Ilāvarta, Brahmāvarta, Malaya, Ketu, Bhadrasena, Indraspṛk, Vidarbha and Kīkaṭa.
kavir havir antarikṣaḥ
āvirhotro ‘tha drumilaś
iti bhāgavata-dharma-darśanā nava mahā-bhagavatās teṣām
sucaritam bhagavan-mahimopabṛṁhitam vasudeva-nārada-samvādam
upaśamāyanam upariṣṭād varṇayiṣyāmaḥ.
kaviḥ—Kavi; haviḥ—Havi; antarikṣaḥ—Antarikṣa; prabuddhaḥ—Prabuddha; pippalāyanaḥ—Pippalāyana; āvirhotraḥ—Avirhotra; atha—also; drumilaḥ—Drumila; camasaḥ—Camasa; karabhājanaḥ—Karabhājana; iti—thus; bhāgavata-dharma-darśanāḥ—authorized preachers of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam; nava—nine; mahā-bhāgavatāḥ—highly advanced devotees; teṣām—of them; sucaritam—good characteristics; bhagavat-mahimā-upabṛṁhitam—accompanied by the glories of the Supreme Lord; vasudeva-nārada-saṁvādam—within the conversation between Vasudeva and Nārada; upaśamāyanam—which gives full satisfaction to the mind; upariṣṭāt—hereafter (in the Eleventh Canto); varṇayiṣyāmaḥ—I shall vividly explain.
In addition to these sons were Kavi, Havi, Antarikṣa, Prabuddha, Pippalāyana, Āvirhotra, Drumila, Camasa and Karabhājana. These were all very exalted, advanced devotees and authorized preachers of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. These devotees were glorified due to their strong devotion to Vāsudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore they were very exalted. To satisfy the mind perfectly, I [Śukadeva Gosvāmī] shall hereafter describe the characteristics of these nine devotees when I discuss the conversation between Nārada and Vasudeva.
jāyanteyāḥ pitur ādeśakarā
śrotriyā yajña-śīlāḥ karma-viśuddhā brāhmaṇā babhūvuḥ.
yavīyāṁsaḥ—younger; ekāśītiḥ—numbering eighty-one; jāyanteyāḥ—the sons of Jayantī, the wife of Ṛṣabhadeva; pituḥ—of their father; ādeśakarāḥ—following the order; mahā-śālīnāḥ—well behaved, well cultured; mahā-śrotriyāḥ—extremely learned in Vedic knowledge; yajña-śīlāḥ—expert in performing ritualistic ceremonies; karma-viśuddhāḥ—very pure in their activities; brāhmaṇāḥ—qualified brāhmaṇas; babhūvuḥ—became.
In addition to these nineteen sons mentioned above, there were eighty-one younger ones, all born of Ṛṣabhadeva and Jayantī. According to the order of their father, they became well cultured, well behaved, very pure in their activities and expert in Vedic knowledge and the performance of Vedic rituals. Thus they all became perfectly qualified brāhmaṇas.
From this verse we have good information of how the castes are qualified according to quality and work. Ṛṣabhadeva, a king, was certainly a kṣatriya. He had a hundred sons, and out of these, ten were engaged as kṣatriyas and ruled the planet. Nine sons became good preachers of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (mahā-bhāgavatas), and this indicates that they were above the position of brāhmaṇas. The other eighty-one sons became highly qualified brāhmaṇas. These are some practical examples of how one can become fit for a certain type of activity by qualification, not by birth. All the sons of Mahārāja Ṛṣabhadeva were kṣatriyas by birth, but by quality some of them became kṣatriyas, and some became brāhmaṇas. Nine became preachers of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (bhāgavata-dharma-darśanāḥ), which means that they were above the categories of kṣatriya and brāhmaṇa.
bhagavān ṛṣabha-saṁjña ātma-tantraḥ
paramparaḥ kevalānandānubhava īśvara eva viparītavat karmāṇy
ārabhamāṇaḥ kālenānugataṁ dharmam ācaraṇenopaśikṣayann atad-
vidāṁ sama upaśānto maitraḥ kāruṇiko dharmārtha-yaśaḥ-
prajānandāmṛtāvarodhena gṛheṣu lokaṁ niyamayat.
bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; ṛṣabha—Ṛṣabha; saṁjñaḥ—named; ātma-tantraḥ—fully independent; svayam—personally; nitya—eternally; nivṛtta—free from; anartha—of things not wanted (birth, old age, disease and death); paramparaḥ—the continual succession, one after another; kevala—only; ānanda-anubhavaḥ—full of transcendental bliss; īśvaraḥ—the Supreme Lord, the controller; eva—indeed; viparīta-vat—just like the opposite; karmāṇi—material activities; ārabhamāṇaḥ—performing; kālena—in course of time; anugatam—neglected; dharmam—the varṇāśrama-dharma; ācaraṇena—by executing; upaśikṣayan—teaching; a-tat-vidām—persons who are in ignorance; samaḥ—equipoised; upaśāntaḥ—undisturbed by the material senses; maitraḥ—very friendly to everyone; kāruṇikaḥ—very merciful to all; dharma—religious principles; artha—economic development; yaśaḥ—reputation; prajā—sons and daughters; ānanda—material pleasure; amṛta—eternal life; avarodhena—for achieving; gṛheṣu—in household life; lokam—the people in general; niyamayat—He regulated.
Being an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Ṛṣabhadeva was fully independent because His form was spiritual, eternal and full of transcendental bliss. He eternally had nothing to do with the four principles of material misery [birth, death, old age and disease]. Nor was He materially attached. He was always equipoised, and He saw everyone on the same level. He was unhappy to see others unhappy, and He was the well-wisher of all living entities. Although He was a perfect personality, the Supreme Lord and controller of all, He nonetheless acted as if He were an ordinary conditioned soul. Therefore He strictly followed the principles of varṇāśrama-dharma and acted accordingly. In due course of time, the principles of varṇāśrama-dharma had become neglected; therefore through His personal characteristics and behavior, He taught the ignorant public how to perform duties within the varṇāśrama-dharma. In this way He regulated the general populace in householder life, enabling them to develop religion and economic well-being and to attain reputations, sons and daughters, material pleasure and finally eternal life. By His instructions, He showed how people could remain householders and at the same time become perfect by following the principles of varṇāśrama-dharma.
The varṇāśrama-dharma is meant for imperfect, conditioned souls. It trains them to become spiritually advanced in order to return home, back to Godhead. A civilization that does not know the highest aim of life is no better than an animal society. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam: na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇum. A human society is meant for elevation to spiritual knowledge so that all of the people can be freed from the clutches of birth, death, old age and disease. The varṇāśrama-dharma enables human society to become perfectly fit for getting out of the clutches of māyā, and by following the regulative principles of varṇāśrama-dharma, one can become successful. In this regard, see Bhagavad-gītā (3.21-24).
yad yac chīrṣaṇyācaritaṁ tat tad anuvartate lokaḥ.
yat yat—whatever; śīrṣaṇya—by the leading personalities; ācaritam—performed; tat tat—that; anuvartate—follow; lokaḥ—the people in general.
Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow.
A similar verse is also found in Bhagavad-gītā (3.21). It is essential for human society to have a section of men perfectly trained as qualified brāhmaṇas according to the instructions of Vedic knowledge. Those below the brahminical qualification—administrators, merchants and workers—should take instructions from those ideal people who are considered to be intellectuals. In this way, everyone can be elevated to the highest transcendental position and be freed from material attachment. The material world is described by Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself as duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam, a temporary place of misery. No one can stay here, even if he makes a compromise with misery. One has to give up this body and accept another, which may not even be a human body. As soon as one gets a material body, he becomes deha-bhṛt, or dehī. In other words, he is subjected to all the material conditions. The leaders of society must be so ideal that by following them one can be relieved from the clutches of material existence.
yadyapi sva-viditaṁ sakala-dharmaṁ brāhmaṁ
darśita-mārgeṇa sāmādibhir upāyair janatām anuśaśāsa.
yadyapi—although; sva-viditam—known by Him; sakala-dharmam—which includes all different types of occupational duties; brāhmam—Vedic instruction; guhyam—very confidential; brāhmaṇaiḥ—by the brāhmaṇas; darśita-mārgeṇa—by the path showed; sāma-ādibhiḥ—sāma, dama, titikṣā (controlling the mind, controlling the senses, practicing tolerance) and so on; upāyaiḥ—by the means; janatām—the people in general; anuśaśāsa—he ruled over.
Although Lord Ṛṣabhadeva knew everything about confidential Vedic knowledge, which includes information about all types of occupational duties, He still maintained Himself as a kṣatriya and followed the instructions of the brāhmaṇas as they related to mind control, sense control, tolerance and so forth. Thus He ruled the people according to the system of varṇāśrama-dharma, which enjoins that the brāhmaṇas instruct the kṣatriyas and the kṣatriyas administer to the state through the vaiśyas and śūdras.
Although Ṛṣabhadeva knew all the Vedic instructions perfectly well, He nonetheless followed the instructions of the brāhmaṇas in order to perfectly maintain the social order. The brāhmaṇas would give advice according to the śāstras, and all the other castes would follow. The word brahma means "perfect knowledge of all activities," and this knowledge is very confidentially described in the Vedic literatures. Men trained perfectly as brāhmaṇas should know all Vedic literature, and the benefit derived from this literature should be distributed to the general populace. The general populace should follow the perfect brāhmaṇa. In this way, one can learn how to control the mind and senses and thus gradually advance to spiritual perfection.
kratubhir yathopadeśaṁ śata-kṛtva iyāja.
dravya—the ingredients for performing yajña; deśa—the particular place, a holy place or a temple; kāla—the suitable time, such as springtime; vayaḥ—the age, especially youth; śraddhā—faith in goodness, not in passion and ignorance; ṛtvik—the priests; vividha-uddeśa—worshiping different demigods for different purposes; upacitaiḥ—enriched by; sarvaiḥ—all kinds of; api—certainly; kratubhiḥ—by sacrificial ceremonies; yathā-upadeśam—according to the instruction; śata-kṛtvaḥ—one hundred times; iyāja—He worshiped.
Lord Ṛṣabhadeva performed all kinds of sacrifices one hundred times according to the instructions of the Vedic literatures. Thus He satisfied Lord Viṣṇu in every respect. All the rituals were enriched by first-class ingredients. They were executed in holy places according to the proper time by priests who were all young and faithful. In this way Lord Viṣṇu was worshiped, and the prasāda was offered to all the demigods. Thus the functions and festivals were all successful.
It is said, kaumāra ācaret prājño dharmān bhāgavatān iha (Bhāg. 7.6.1). A ritual should be performed by young men, even boys, at a tender age in order for the ritual to be performed successfully. From childhood, people should be trained in Vedic culture, especially in devotional service. In this way, one can perfect one’s life. A Vaiṣṇava does not disrespect the demigods, but on the other hand he is not so foolish that he accepts each and every demigod as the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord is master of all demigods; therefore the demigods are His servants. The Vaiṣṇava accepts them as servants of the Supreme Lord, and he worships them directly. In the Brahma-saṁhitā, the important demigods—Lord Śiva, Lord Brahmā and even the incarnations and expansions of Lord Kṛṣṇa like Mahā-Viṣṇu, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu and all the other viṣṇu-tattvas, as well as the śakti-tattvas like Durgādevī—are all worshiped by the process of worshiping Govinda with the words govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi. A Vaiṣṇava worships the demigods in relation to Govinda, not independently. Vaiṣṇavas are not so foolish that they consider the demigods independent of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is confirmed in Caitanya-caritāmṛta. Ekale īśvara kṛṣṇa, āra saba bhṛtya: the supreme master is Kṛṣṇa, and all others are His servants.
etasmin varṣe na kaścana puruṣo
vāñchaty avidyamānam ivātmano ‘nyasmāt kathañcana kimapi
karhicid avekṣate bhartary anusavanaṁ vijṛmbhita-snehātiśayam antareṇa.
bhagavatā—by the Supreme Personality of Godhead; ṛṣabheṇa—King Ṛṣabha; parirakṣyamāṇe—being protected; etasmin—on this; varṣe—planet; na—not; kaścana—anyone; puruṣaḥ—even a common man; vāñchati—desires; avidyamānam—not existing in reality; iva—as if; ātmanaḥ—for himself; anyasmāt—from anyone else; kathañcana—by any means; kimapi—anything; karhicit—at any time; avekṣate—does care to see; bhartari—toward the master; anusavanam—always; vijṛmbhita—expanding; sneha-atiśayam—very great affection; antareṇa—within one’s self.
No one likes to possess anything that is like a will-o’-the-wisp or a flower in the sky, for everyone knows very well that such things do not exist. When Lord Ṛṣabhadeva ruled this planet of Bhāratavarṣa, even common men did not want to ask for anything, at any time or by any means. No one ever asks for a will-o’-the-wisp. In other words, everyone was completely satisfied, and therefore there was no chance of anyone’s asking for anything. The people were absorbed in great affection for the King. Since this affection was always expanding, they were not inclined to ask for anything.
In Bengal the word ghoḍā-ḍimba is used, which means "the egg of a horse." Since a horse never lays an egg, the word ghoḍā-ḍimba actually has no meaning. In Sanskrit there is a word kha-puṣpa, which means "the flower in the sky." No flower grows in the sky; therefore no one is interested in asking for kha-puṣpa or ghoḍā-ḍimba. During the reign of Mahārāja Ṛṣabhadeva, people were so well equipped that they did not want to ask for anything. They were immensely supplied with all necessities for life due to King Ṛṣabhadeva’s good government. Consequently everyone felt full satisfaction and did not want anything. This is the perfection of government. If the citizens are unhappy due to bad government, the heads of government are condemned. During these democratic days, monarchy is disliked by the people, but here is an example of how an emperor of the whole world kept all the citizens fully satisfied by supplying the necessities of life and following the Vedic principles. Thus everyone was happy during the reign of Mahārāja Ṛṣabhadeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
sa kadācid aṭamāno bhagavān ṛṣabho
pravara-sabhāyāṁ prajānāṁ niśāmayantīnām ātmajān avahitātmanaḥ
praśraya-praṇaya-bhara-suyantritān apy upaśikṣayann iti hovāca.
saḥ—He; kadācit—once; aṭamānaḥ—while on tour; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; ṛṣabhaḥ—Lord Ṛṣabha; brahmāvarta-gataḥ—when He reached the place known as Brahmāvarta (identified by some as Burma and by others as a place near Kanpura, Uttar Pradesh); brahma-ṛṣi-pravara-sabhāyām—in a meeting of first-class brāhmaṇas; prajānām—while the citizens; niśāmayantīnām—were hearing; ātmajān—His sons; avahita-ātmanaḥ—attentive; praśraya—of good behavior; praṇaya—of devotion; bhara—by an abundance; su-yantritān—well controlled; api—although; upaśikṣayan—teaching; iti—thus; ha—certainly; uvāca—said.
Once while touring the world, Lord Ṛṣabhadeva, the Supreme Lord, reached a place known as Brahmāvarta. There was a great conference of learned brāhmaṇas at that place, and all the King’s sons attentively heard the instructions of the brāhmaṇas there. At that assembly, within the hearing of the citizens, Ṛṣabhadeva instructed His sons, although they were already very well behaved, devoted and qualified. He instructed them so that in the future they could rule the world very perfectly. Thus he spoke as follows.
The instructions of Lord Ṛṣabhadeva to His sons are very valuable if one wants to live peacefully within this world, which is full of miseries. In the next chapter, Lord Ṛṣabhadeva gives His sons these valuable instructions.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Fifth Canto, Fourth Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled "The Characteristics of Ṛṣabhadeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead."
In this chapter there is a description of bhāgavata-dharma, religious principles in devotional service that transcend religious principles for liberation and the mitigation of material misery. It is stated in this chapter that a human being should not work hard like dogs and hogs for sense gratification. The human life is especially meant for the revival of our relationship with the Supreme Lord, and to this end all kinds of austerities and penances should be accepted. By austere activities, one’s heart can be cleansed of material contamination, and as a result one can be situated on the spiritual platform. To attain this perfection, one has to take shelter of a devotee and serve him. Then the door of liberation will be open. Those who are materially attached to women and sense gratification gradually become entangled in material consciousness and suffer the miseries of birth, old age, disease and death. Those who are engaged in the general welfare of all and who are not attached to children and family are called mahātmās. Those who are engaged in sense gratification, who act piously or impiously, cannot understand the purpose of the soul. Therefore they should approach a highly elevated devotee and accept him as a spiritual master. By his association, one will be able to understand the purpose of life. Under the instructions of such a spiritual master, one can attain devotional service to the Lord, detachment from material things, and tolerance of material misery and distress. One can then see all living entities equally, and one becomes very eager to know about transcendental subject matters. Endeavoring persistently for the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa, one becomes detached from wife, children and home. He is not interested in wasting time. In this way one becomes self-realized. A person advanced in spiritual knowledge does not engage anyone in material activity. And one who cannot deliver another person by instructing him in devotional service should not become a spiritual master, father, mother, demigod or husband. Instructing His one hundred sons, Lord Ṛṣabhadeva advised them to accept their eldest brother, Bharata, as their guide and lord, and thereby serve him. Of all living entities, the brāhmaṇas are the best, and above the brāhmaṇas the Vaiṣṇavas are situated in an even better position. Serving a Vaiṣṇava means serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus Śukadeva Gosvāmī describes the characteristics of Bharata Mahārāja and the sacrificial performance executed by Lord Ṛṣabhadeva for the instruction of the general populace.
nāyaṁ deho deha-bhājāṁ nṛloke
kaṣṭān kāmān arhate viḍ-bhujāṁ ye
tapo divyaṁ putrakā yena sattvaṁ
śuddhyed yasmād brahma-saukhyaṁ tv anantam
ṛṣabhaḥ uvāca—Lord Ṛṣabhadeva said; na—not; ayam—this; dehaḥ—body; deha-bhājām—of all living entities who have accepted material bodies; nṛ-loke—in this world; kaṣṭān—troublesome; kāmān—sense gratification; arhate—deserves; viṭ-bhujām—of stool-eaters; ye—which; tapaḥ—austerities and penances; divyam—divine; putrakāḥ—My dear sons; yena—by which; sattvam—the heart; śuddhyet—becomes purified; yasmāt—from which; brahma-saukhyam—spiritual happiness; tu—certainly; anantam—unending.
Lord Ṛṣabhadeva told His sons: My dear boys, of all the living entities who have accepted material bodies in this world, one who has been awarded this human form should not work hard day and night simply for sense gratification, which is available even for dogs and hogs that eat stool. One should engage in penance and austerity to attain the divine position of devotional service. By such activity, one’s heart is purified, and when one attains this position, he attains eternal, blissful life, which is transcendental to material happiness and which continues forever.
In this verse Lord Ṛṣabhadeva tells His sons about the importance of human life. The word deha-bhāk refers to anyone who accepts a material body, but the living entity who is awarded the human form must act differently from animals. Animals like dogs and hogs enjoy sense gratification by eating stool. After undergoing severe hardships all day, human beings are trying to enjoy themselves at night by eating, drinking, having sex and sleeping. At the same time, they have to properly defend themselves. However, this is not human civilization. Human life means voluntarily practicing suffering for the advancement of spiritual life. There is, of course, suffering in the lives of animals and plants, which are suffering due to their past misdeeds. However, human beings should voluntarily accept suffering in the form of austerities and penances in order to attain the divine life. After attaining the divine life, one can enjoy happiness eternally. After all, every living entity is trying to enjoy happiness, but as long as one is encaged in the material body, he has to suffer different kinds of misery. A higher sense is present in the human form. We should act according to superior advice in order to attain eternal happiness and go back to Godhead.
It is significant in this verse that the government and the natural guardian, the father, should educate subordinates and raise them to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Devoid of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, every living being suffers in this cycle of birth and death perpetually. To relieve them from this bondage and enable them to become blissful and happy, bhakti-yoga should be taught. A foolish civilization neglects to teach people how to rise to the platform of bhakti-yoga. Without Kṛṣṇa consciousness, a person is no better than a hog or dog. The instructions of Ṛṣabhadeva are very essential at the present moment. People are being educated and trained to work very hard for sense gratification, and there is no sublime aim in life. A man travels to earn his livelihood, leaving home early in the morning, catching a local train and being packed in a compartment. He has to stand for an hour or two in order to reach his place of business. Then again he takes a bus to get to the office. At the office he works hard from nine to five; then he takes two or three hours to return home. After eating, he has sex and goes to sleep. For all this hardship, his only happiness is a little sex. Yan maithunādi-gṛhamedhi-sukhaṁ hi tuccham (Bhāg. 7.9.45). Ṛṣabhadeva clearly states that human life is not meant for this kind of existence, which is enjoyed even by dogs and hogs. Indeed, dogs and hogs do not have to work so hard for sex. A human being should try to live in a different way and should not try to imitate dogs and hogs. The alternative is mentioned. Human life is meant for tapasya, austerity and penance. By tapasya, one can get out of the material clutches. When one is situated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, devotional service, his happiness is guaranteed eternally. By taking to bhakti-yoga, devotional service, one’s existence is purified. The living entity is seeking happiness life after life, but he can make a solution to all his problems simply by practicing bhakti-yoga. Then he immediately becomes eligible to return home, back to Godhead. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (4.9):
janma karma ca me divyam
evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ
tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma
naiti mām eti so ‘rjuna
"One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna."
mahat-sevāṁ dvāram āhur vimuktes
tamo-dvāraṁ yoṣitāṁ saṅgi-saṅgam
mahāntas te sama-cittāḥ praśāntā
vimanyavaḥ suhṛdaḥ sādhavo ye
mahat-sevām—service to the spiritually advanced persons called mahātmās; dvāram—the way; āhuḥ—they say; vimukteḥ—of liberation; tamaḥ-dvāram—the way to the dungeon of a dark, hellish condition of life; yoṣitām—of women; saṅgi—of associates; saṅgam—association; mahāntaḥ—highly advanced in spiritual understanding; te—they; sama-cittāḥ—persons who see everyone in a spiritual identity; praśāntāḥ—very peaceful, situated in Brahman or Bhagavān; vimanyavaḥ—without anger (one must distribute Kṛṣṇa consciousness to persons who are hostile without becoming angry at them); suhṛdaḥ—well-wishers of everyone; sādhavaḥ—qualified devotees, without abominable behavior; ye—they who.
One can attain the path of liberation from material bondage only by rendering service to highly advanced spiritual personalities. These personalities are impersonalists and devotees. Whether one wants to merge into the Lord’s existence or wants to associate with the Personality of Godhead, one should render service to the mahātmās. For those who are not interested in such activities, who associate with people fond of women and sex, the path to hell is wide open. The mahātmās are equipoised. They do not see any difference between one living entity and another. They are very peaceful and are fully engaged in devotional service. They are devoid of anger, and they work for the benefit of everyone. They do not behave in any abominable way. Such people are known as mahātmās.
The human body is like a junction. One may either take the path of liberation or the path leading to a hellish condition. How one can take these paths is described herein. On the path of liberation, one associates with mahātmās, and on the path of bondage one associates with those attached to sense gratification and women. There are two types of mahātmās—the impersonalist and the devotee. Although their ultimate goal is different, the process of emancipation is almost the same. Both want eternal happiness. One seeks happiness in impersonal Brahman, and the other seeks happiness in the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As described in the first verse: brahma-saukhyam. Brahman means spiritual or eternal; both the impersonalist and the devotee seek eternal blissful life. In any case, it is advised that one become perfect. In the words of Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.87):
‘strī-saṅgī’—eka asādhu, ‘kṛṣṇābhakta’ āra
To remain unattached to the modes of material nature, one should avoid associating with those who are asat, materialistic. There are two kinds of materialists. One is attached to women and sense gratification, and the other is simply a nondevotee. On the positive side is association with mahātmās, and on the negative side is the avoidance of nondevotees and women-hunters.
ye vā mayīśe kṛta-sauhṛdārthā
na prīti-yuktā yāvad-arthāś ca loke
ye—those who; vā—or; mayi—unto Me; īśe—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; kṛta-sauhṛda-arthāḥ—very eager to develop love (in a relationship of dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya or mādhurya); janeṣu—to people; dehambhara-vārtikeṣu—who are interested only in maintaining the body, not in spiritual salvation; gṛheṣu—to the home; jāyā—wife; ātma-ja—children; rāti—wealth or friends; matsu—consisting of; na—not; prīti-yuktāḥ—very attached; yāvat-arthāḥ—who live by collecting only as much as required; ca—and; loke—in the material world.
Those who are interested in reviving Kṛṣṇa consciousness and increasing their love of Godhead do not like to do anything that is not related to Kṛṣṇa. They are not interested in mingling with people who are busy maintaining their bodies, eating, sleeping, mating and defending. They are not attached to their homes, although they may be householders. Nor are they attached to wives, children, friends or wealth. At the same time, they are not indifferent to the execution of their duties. Such people are interested in collecting only enough money to keep the body and soul together.
Whether he is an impersonalist or a devotee, one who is actually interested in advancing spiritually should not mingle with those who are simply interested in maintaining the body by means of the so-called advancement of civilization. Those who are interested in spiritual life should not be attached to homely comforts in the company of wife, children, friends and so forth. Even if one is a gṛhastha and has to earn his livelihood, he should be satisfied by collecting only enough money to maintain body and soul together. One should not have more than that nor less than that. As indicated herein, a householder should endeavor to earn money for the execution of bhakti-yoga-śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam/ arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam. A householder should lead such a life that he gets full opportunity to hear and chant. He should worship the Deity at home, observe festivals, invite friends in and give them prasāda. A householder should earn money for this purpose, not for sense gratification.
nūnaṁ pramattaḥ kurute vikarma
yad indriya-prītaya āpṛṇoti
na sādhu manye yata ātmano ‘yam
asann api kleśada āsa dehaḥ
nūnam—indeed; pramattaḥ—mad; kurute—performs; vikarma—sinful activities forbidden in the scriptures; yat—when; indriya-prītaye—for sense gratification; āpṛṇoti—engages; na—not; sādhu—befitting; manye—I think; yataḥ—by which; ātmanaḥ—of the soul; ayam—this; asan—being temporary; api—although; kleśa-daḥ—giving misery; āsa—became possible; dehaḥ—the body.
When a person considers sense gratification the aim of life, he certainly becomes mad after materialistic living and engages in all kinds of sinful activity. He does not know that due to his past misdeeds he has already received a body which, although temporary, is the cause of his misery. Actually the living entity should not have taken on a material body, but he has been awarded the material body for sense gratification. Therefore I think it not befitting an intelligent man to involve himself again in the activities of sense gratification by which he perpetually gets material bodies one after another.
Begging, borrowing and stealing to live for sense gratification is condemned in this verse because such consciousness leads one to a dark, hellish condition. The four sinful activities are illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication and gambling. These are the means by which one gets another material body that is full of miseries. In the Vedas it is said: asaṅgo hy ayaṁ puruṣaḥ. The living entity is not really connected with this material world, but due to his tendency to enjoy the material senses, he is put into the material condition. One should perfect his life by associating with devotees. He should not become further implicated in the material body.
parābhavas tāvad abodha-jāto
yāvan na jijñāsata ātma-tattvam
yāvat kriyās tāvad idaṁ mano vai
karmātmakaṁ yena śarīra-bandhaḥ
parābhavaḥ—defeat, misery; tāvat—so long; abodha-jātaḥ—produced from ignorance; yāvat—as long as; na—not; jijñāsate—inquires about; ātma-tattvam—the truth of the self; yāvat—as long as; kriyāḥ—fruitive activities; tāvat—so long; idam—this; manaḥ—mind; vai—indeed; karma-ātmakam—absorbed in material activities; yena—by which; śarīra-bandhaḥ—bondage in this material body.
As long as one does not inquire about the spiritual values of life, one is defeated and subjected to miseries arising from ignorance. Be it sinful or pious, karma has its resultant actions. If a person is engaged in any kind of karma, his mind is called karmātmaka, colored with fruitive activity. As long as the mind is impure, consciousness is unclear, and as long as one is absorbed in fruitive activity, he has to accept a material body.
Generally people think that one should act very piously in order to be relieved from misery, but this is not a fact. Even though one engages in pious activity and speculation, he is nonetheless defeated. His only aim should be emancipation from the clutches of māyā and all material activities. Speculative knowledge and pious activity do not solve the problems of material life. One should be inquisitive to understand his spiritual position. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (4.37):
yathaidhāṁsi samiddho ‘gnir
bhasmasāt kurute ‘rjuna
bhasmasāt kurute tathā
"As a blazing fire turns firewood to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge burn to ashes all reactions to material activities."
Unless one understands the self and its activities, one has to be considered in material bondage. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.2.32) it is also said: ye ‘nye ‘ravindākṣa vimukta-māninas tvayy asta-bhāvād aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ. A person who doesn’t have knowledge of devotional service may think himself liberated, but actually he is not. Āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ patanty adho ‘nādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ: such people may approach the impersonal Brahman effulgence, but they fall down again into material enjoyment because they have no knowledge of devotional service. As long as one is interested in karma and jñāna, he continues enduring the miseries of material life—birth, old age, disease and death. Karmīs certainly take on one body after another. As far as jñānīs are concerned, unless they are promoted to the topmost understanding, they must return to the material world. As explained in Bhagavad-gītā (7.19): bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate. The point is to know Kṛṣṇa, Vāsudeva, as everything and surrender unto Him. Karmīs do not know this, but a devotee who is one hundred percent engaged in the devotional service of the Lord knows fully what is karma and jñāna; therefore a pure devotee is no longer interested in karma or jñāna. Anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam. The real bhakta is untouched by any tinge of karma and jñāna. His only purpose in life is to serve the Lord.
evaṁ manaḥ karma-vaśaṁ prayuṅkte
prītir na yāvan mayi vāsudeve
na mucyate deha-yogena tāvat
evam—thus; manaḥ—the mind; karma-vaśam—subjugated by fruitive activities; prayuṅkte—acts; avidyayā—by ignorance; ātmani—when the living entity; upadhīyamāne—is covered; prītiḥ—love; na—not; yāvat—as long as; mayi—unto Me; vāsudeve—Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa; na—not; mucyate—is delivered; deha-yogena—from contact with the material body; tāvat—so long.
When the living entity is covered by the mode of ignorance, he does not understand the individual living being and the supreme living being, and his mind is subjugated to fruitive activity. Therefore, until one has love for Lord Vāsudeva, who is none other than Myself, he is certainly not delivered from having to accept a material body again and again.
When the mind is polluted by fruitive activity, the living entity wants to be elevated from one material position to another. Generally everyone is involved in working hard day and night to improve his economic condition. Even when one understands the Vedic rituals, he becomes interested in promotion to heavenly planets, not knowing that one’s real interest lies in returning home, back to Godhead. By acting on the platform of fruitive activity, one wanders throughout the universe in different species and forms. Unless he comes in contact with a devotee of the Lord, a guru, he does not become attached to the service of Lord Vāsudeva. Knowledge of Vāsudeva requires many births to understand. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (7.19): vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ. After struggling for existence for many births, one may take shelter at the lotus feet of Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa. When this happens, one actually becomes wise and surrenders unto Him. That is the only way to stop the repetition of birth and death. This is confirmed in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 19.151) in the instructions given by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī at Daśāśvamedha-ghāṭa.
brahmāṇḍa bhramite kona
guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja
The living entity wanders throughout different planets in different forms and bodies, but if by chance he comes in contact with a bona fide spiritual master, by the grace of the spiritual master he receives Lord Kṛṣṇa’s shelter, and his devotional life begins.
yadā na paśyaty ayathā guṇehāṁ
svārthe pramattaḥ sahasā vipaścit
gata-smṛtir vindati tatra tāpān
āsādya maithunyam agāram ajñaḥ
yadā—when; na—not; paśyati—sees; ayathā—unnecessary; guṇa-īhām—endeavor to satisfy the senses; sva-arthe—in self-interest; pramattaḥ—mad; sahasā—very soon; vipaścit—even one advanced in knowledge; gata-smṛtiḥ—being forgetful; vindati—gets; tatra—there; tāpān—material miseries; āsādya—getting; maithunyam—based on sexual intercourse; agāram—a home; ajñaḥ—being foolish.
Even though one may be very learned and wise, he is mad if he does not understand that the endeavor for sense gratification is a useless waste of time. Being forgetful of his own interest, he tries to be happy in the material world, centering his interests around his home, which is based on sexual intercourse and which brings him all kinds of material miseries. In this way one is no better than a foolish animal.
In the lowest stage of devotional life, one is not an unalloyed devotee. Anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam: to be an unalloyed devotee, one must be freed from all material desires and untouched by fruitive activity and speculative knowledge. On the lower platform, one may sometimes be interested in philosophical speculation with a tinge of devotion. However, at that stage one is still interested in sense gratification and is contaminated by the modes of material nature. The influence of māyā is so strong that even a person advanced in knowledge actually forgets that he is Kṛṣṇa’s eternal servant. Therefore he remains satisfied in his householder life, which is centered around sexual intercourse. Conceding to a life of sex, he agrees to suffer all kinds of material miseries. Due to ignorance, one is thus bound by the chain of material laws.
puṁsaḥ striyā mithunī-bhāvam etaṁ
tayor mitho hṛdaya-granthim āhuḥ
janasya moho ‘yam ahaṁ mameti
puṁsaḥ—of a male; striyāḥ—of a female; mithunī-bhāvam—attraction for sexual life; etam—this; tayoḥ—of both of them; mithaḥ—between one another; hṛdaya-granthim—the knot of the hearts; āhuḥ—they call; ataḥ—thereafter; gṛha—by home; kṣetra—field; suta—children; āpta—relatives; vittaiḥ—and by wealth; janasya—of the living being; mohaḥ—illusion; ayam—this; aham—I; mama—mine; iti—thus.
The attraction between male and female is the basic principle of material existence. On the basis of this misconception, which ties together the hearts of the male and female, one becomes attracted to his body, home, property, children, relatives and wealth. In this way one increases life’s illusions and thinks in terms of "I and mine."
Sex serves as the natural attraction between man and woman, and when they are married, their relationship becomes more involved. Due to the entangling relationship between man and woman, there is a sense of illusion whereby one thinks, "This man is my husband," or "This woman is my wife." This is called hṛdaya-granthi, "the hard knot in the heart." This knot is very difficult to undo, even though a man and woman separate either for the principles of varṇāśrama or simply to get a divorce. In any case, the man always thinks of the woman, and the woman always thinks of the man. Thus a person becomes materially attached to family, property and children, although all of these are temporary. The possessor unfortunately identifies with his property and wealth. Sometimes, even after renunciation, one becomes attached to a temple or to the few things that constitute the property of a sannyāsī, but such attachment is not as strong as family attachment. The attachment to the family is the strongest illusion. In the Satya-saṁhitā, it is stated:
viśeṣam ca vido viduḥ
Sometimes it is found among exalted personalities like Lord Brahmā that the wife and children are not a cause of bondage. On the contrary, the wife actually helps further spiritual life and liberation. Nonetheless, most people are bound by the knots of the marital relationship, and consequently they forget their relationship with Kṛṣṇa.
yadā mano-hṛdaya-granthir asya
karmānubaddho dṛḍha āślatheta
tadā janaḥ samparivartate ‘smād
muktaḥ paraṁ yāty atihāya hetum
yadā—when; manaḥ—the mind; hṛdaya-granthiḥ—the knot in the heart; asya—of this person; karma-anubaddhaḥ—bound by the results of his past deeds; dṛḍhaḥ—very strong; āślatheta—becomes slackened; tadā—at that time; janaḥ—the conditioned soul; samparivartate—turns away; asmāt—from this attachment for sex life; muktaḥ—liberated; param—to the transcendental world; yāti—goes; atihāya—giving up; hetum—the original cause.
When the strong knot in the heart of a person implicated in material life due to the results of past action is slackened, one turns away from his attachment to home, wife and children. In this way, one gives up the basic principle of illusion [I and mine] and becomes liberated. Thus one goes to the transcendental world.
When, by associating with sādhus and engaging in devotional service, one is gradually freed from the material conception due to knowledge, practice and detachment, the knot of attachment in the heart is slackened. Thus one can get freed from conditional life and become eligible to return home, back to Godhead.
haṁse gurau mayi bhaktyānuvṛtyā
vitṛṣṇayā dvandva-titikṣayā ca
sarvatra jantor vyasanāvagatyā
mat-karmabhir mat-kathayā ca nityaṁ
mad-deva-saṅgād guṇa-kīrtanān me
sac-chraddhayā brahmacaryeṇa śaśvad
asampramādena yamena vācām
liṅgaṁ vyapohet kuśalo ‘ham-ākhyam
haṁse—who is a paramahaṁsa, or the most exalted, spiritually advanced person; gurau—to the spiritual master; mayi—unto Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead; bhaktyā—by devotional service; anuvṛtyā—by following; vitṛṣṇayā—by detachment from sense gratification; dvandva—of the dualities of the material world; titikṣayā—by tolerance; ca—also; sarvatra—everywhere; jantoḥ—of the living entity; vyasana—the miserable condition of life; avagatyā—by realizing; jijñāsayā—by inquiring about the truth; tapasā—by practicing austerities and penances; īhā-nivṛttyā—by giving up the endeavor for sense enjoyment; mat-karmabhiḥ—by working for Me; mat-kathayā—by hearing topics about Me; ca—also; nityam—always; mat-deva-saṅgāt—by association with My devotees; guṇa-kīrtanāt me—by chanting and glorifying My transcendental qualities; nirvaira—being without enmity; sāmya—seeing everyone equally by spiritual understanding; upaśamena—by subduing anger, lamentation and so on; putrāḥ—O sons; jihāsayā—by desiring to give up; deha—with the body; geha—with the home; ātma-buddheḥ—identification of the self; adhyātma-yogena—by study of the revealed scriptures; vivikta-sevayā—by living in a solitary place; prāṇa—the life air; indriya—the senses; ātma—the mind; abhijayena—by controlling; sadhryak—completely; sat-śraddhayā—by developing faith in the scriptures; brahmacaryeṇa—by observing celibacy; śaśvat—always; asampramādena—by not being bewildered; yamena—by restraint; vācām—of words; sarvatra—everywhere; mat-bhāva—thinking of Me; vicakṣaṇena—by observing; jñānena—by development of knowledge; vijñāna—by practical application of knowledge; virājitena—illumined; yogena—by practice of bhakti-yoga; dhṛti—patience; udyama—enthusiasm; sattva—discretion; yuktaḥ—endowed with; liṅgam—the cause of material bondage; vyapohet—one can give up; kuśalaḥ—in full auspiciousness; aham-ākhyam—false ego, false identification with the material world.
O My sons, you should accept a highly elevated paramahaṁsa, a spiritually advanced spiritual master. In this way, you should place your faith and love in Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. You should detest sense gratification and tolerate the duality of pleasure and pain, which are like the seasonal changes of summer and winter. Try to realize the miserable condition of living entities, who are miserable even in the higher planetary systems. Philosophically inquire about the truth. Then undergo all kinds of austerities and penances for the sake of devotional service. Give up the endeavor for sense enjoyment and engage in the service of the Lord. Listen to discussions about the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and always associate with devotees. Chant about and glorify the Supreme Lord, and look upon everyone equally on the spiritual platform. Give up enmity and subdue anger and lamentation. Abandon identifying the self with the body and the home, and practice reading the revealed scriptures. Live in a secluded place and practice the process by which you can completely control your life air, mind and senses. Have full faith in the revealed scriptures, the Vedic literatures, and always observe celibacy. Perform your prescribed duties and avoid unnecessary talks. Always thinking of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, acquire knowledge from the right source. Thus practicing bhakti-yoga, you will patiently and enthusiastically be elevated in knowledge and will be able to give up the false ego.
In these four verses, Ṛṣabhadeva tells His sons how they can be freed from the false identification arising from false ego and material conditional life. One gradually becomes liberated by practicing as mentioned above. All these prescribed methods enable one to give up the material body (liṅgaṁ vyapohet) and be situated in his original spiritual body. First of all one has to accept a bona fide spiritual master. This is advocated by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī in his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu: śrī-guru-pādāśrayaḥ. To be freed from the entanglement of the material world, one has to approach a spiritual master. Tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet. By questioning the spiritual master and by serving him, one can advance in spiritual life. When one engages in devotional service, naturally the attraction for personal comfort—for eating, sleeping and dressing—is reduced. By associating with the devotee, a spiritual standard is maintained. The word mad-deva-saṅgāt is very important. There are many so-called religions devoted to the worship of various demigods, but here good association means association with one who simply accepts Kṛṣṇa as his worshipable Deity.
Another important item is dvandva-titikṣā. As long as one is situated in the material world, there must be pleasure and pain arising from the material body. As Kṛṣṇa advises in Bhagavad-gītā, tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata. One has to learn how to tolerate the temporary pains and pleasures of this material world. One must also be detached from his family and practice celibacy. Sex with one’s wife according to the scriptural injunctions is also accepted as brahmacarya (celibacy), but illicit sex is opposed to religious principles, and it hampers advancement in spiritual consciousness. Another important word is vijñāna-virājita. Everything should be done very scientifically and consciously. One should be a realized soul. In this way, one can give up the entanglement of material bondage.
As Śrī Madhvācārya points out, the sum and substance of these four ślokas is that one should refrain from acting out of a desire for sense gratification and should instead always engage in the Lord’s loving service. In other words, bhakti-yoga is the acknowledged path of liberation. Śrīla Madhvācārya quotes from the Adhyātma:
ātmano ‘vihitaṁ karma
kāmasya ca parityāgo
nirīhety āhur uttamāḥ
One should perform activities only for the benefit of the soul; any other activity should be given up. When a person is situated in this way, he is said to be desireless. Actually a living entity cannot be totally desireless, but when he desires the benefit of the soul and nothing else, he is said to be desireless.
Spiritual knowledge is jñāna-vijñāna-samanvitam. When one is fully equipped with jñāna and vijñāna, he is perfect. Jñāna means that one understands the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu, to be the Supreme Being. Vijñāna refers to the activities that liberate one from the ignorance of material existence. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.9.31): jñānaṁ parama-guhyaṁ me yad vijñāna-samanvitam. Knowledge of the Supreme Lord is very confidential, and the supreme knowledge by which one understands Him furthers the liberation of all living entities. This knowledge is vijñāna. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (4.9):
janma karma ca me divyam
evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ
tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma
naiti mām eti so ‘rjuna
"One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna."
anena yogena yathopadeśaṁ
samyag vyapohyoparameta yogāt
karma-āśayam—the desire for fruitive activities; hṛdaya-granthi—the knot in the heart; bandham—bondage; avidyayā—because of ignorance; āsāditam—brought about; apramattaḥ—not being covered by ignorance or illusion, very careful; anena—by this; yogena—practice of yoga; yathā-upadeśam—as advised; samyak—completely; vyapohya—becoming free from; uparameta—one should desist; yogāt—from the practice of yoga, the means of liberation.
As I have advised you, My dear sons, you should act accordingly. Be very careful. By these means you will be freed from the ignorance of the desire for fruitive activity, and the knot of bondage in the heart will be completely severed. For further advancement, you should also give up the means. That is, you should not become attached to the process of liberation itself.
The process of liberation is brahma jijñāsā, the search for the Absolute Truth. Generally brahma jijñāsā is called neti neti, the process by which one analyzes existence to search out the Absolute Truth. This method continues as long as one is not situated in his spiritual life. Spiritual life is brahma-bhūta, the self-realized state. In the words of Bhagavad-gītā (18.54):
na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām
"One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state, he attains pure devotional service unto Me."
The idea is to enter into the parā bhakti, the transcendental devotional service of the Supreme Lord. To attain this, one must analyze ones existence, but when one is actually engaged in devotional service, he should not bother seeking out knowledge. By simply engaging in devotional service undeviatingly, one will always remain in the liberated condition.
ca yo ‘vyabhicāreṇa
sa guṇān samatītyaitān
The unflinching execution of devotional service is in itself brahma-bhūta. Another important feature in this connection is anena yogena yathopadeśam. The instructions received from the spiritual master must be followed immediately. One should not deviate from or surpass the instructions of the spiritual master. One should not be simply intent on consulting books but should simultaneously execute the spiritual master’s order (yathopadeśam). Mystic power should be achieved to enable one to give up the material conception, but when one actually engages in devotional service, one does not need to practice the mystic yoga system. The point is that one can give up the practice of yoga, but devotional service cannot be given up. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.7.10):
nirgranthā apy urukrame
kurvanty ahaitukīṁ bhaktim
Even those who are liberated (ātmārāma) must always engage in devotional service. One may give up the practice of yoga when one is self-realized, but at no stage can one give up devotional service. All other activities for self-realization, including yoga and philosophical speculation, may be given up, but devotional service must be retained at all times.
putrāṁś ca śiṣyāṁś ca nṛpo gurur vā
itthaṁ vimanyur anuśiṣyād ataj-jñān
na yojayet karmasu karma-mūḍhān
kaṁ yojayan manujo ‘rthaṁ labheta
nipātayan naṣṭa-dṛśaṁ hi garte
putrān—the sons; ca—and; śiṣyān—the disciples; ca—and; nṛpaḥ—the king; guruḥ—the spiritual master; vā—or; mat-loka-kāmaḥ—desiring to go to My abode; mat-anugraha-arthaḥ—thinking that to achieve My mercy is the aim of life; ittham—in this manner; vimanyuḥ—free from anger; anuśiṣyāt—should instruct; a-tat-jñān—bereft of spiritual knowledge; na—not; yojayet—should engage; karmasu—in fruitive activities; karma-mūḍhān—simply engaged in pious or impious activities; kam—what; yojayan—engaging; manu-jaḥ—a man; artham—benefit; labheta—can achieve; nipātayan—causing to fall; naṣṭa-dṛśam—one who is already bereft of his transcendental sight; hi—indeed; garte—in the hole.
If one is serious about going back home, back to Godhead, he must consider the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead the summum bonum and chief aim of life. If he is a father instructing his sons, a spiritual master instructing his disciples, or a king instructing his citizens, he must instruct them as I have advised. Without being angry, he should continue giving instructions, even if his disciple, son or citizen is sometimes unable to follow his order. Ignorant people who engage in pious and impious activities should be engaged in devotional service by all means. They should always avoid fruitive activity. If one puts into the bondage of karmic activity his disciple, son or citizen who is bereft of transcendental vision, how will one profit? It is like leading a blind man to a dark well and causing him to fall in.
It is stated in Bhagavad-gītā (3.26):
na buddhi-bhedaṁ janayed
vidvān yuktaḥ samācaran
"Let not the wise disrupt the minds of the ignorant who are attached to fruitive action. They should be encouraged not to refrain from work, but to work in the spirit of devotion."
lokaḥ svayaṁ śreyasi naṣṭa-dṛṣṭir
yo ‘rthān samīheta nikāma-kāmaḥ
ananta-duḥkhaṁ ca na veda mūḍhaḥ
lokaḥ—people; svayam—personally; śreyasi—of the path of auspiciousness; naṣṭa-dṛṣṭiḥ—who have lost sight; yaḥ—who; arthān—things meant for sense gratification; samīheta—desire; nikāma-kāmaḥ—having too many lusty desires for sense enjoyment; anyonya-vairaḥ—being envious of one another; sukha-leśa-hetoḥ—simply for temporary material happiness; ananta-duḥkham—unlimited sufferings; ca—also; na—do not; veda—know; mūḍhaḥ—foolish.
Due to ignorance, the materialistic person does not know anything about his real self-interest, the auspicious path in life. He is simply bound to material enjoyment by lusty desires, and all his plans are made for this purpose. For temporary sense gratification, such a person creates a society of envy, and due to this mentality, he plunges into the ocean of suffering. Such a foolish person does not even know about this.
The word naṣṭa-dṛṣṭiḥ, meaning "one who has no eyes to see the future," is very significant in this verse. Life goes on from one body to another, and the activities performed in this life are enjoyed or suffered in the next life, if not later in this life. One who is unintelligent, who has no eyes to see the future, simply creates enmity and fights with others for sense gratification. As a result, one suffers in the next life, but due to being like a blind man, he continues to act in such a way that he suffers unlimitedly. Such a person is a mūḍha, one who simply wastes his time and does not understand the Lord’s devotional service. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (7.25):
mūḍho ‘yaṁ nābhijānāti
loko mām ajam avyayam
"I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by My eternal creative potency [yogamāyā]; and so the deluded world knows Me not, who am unborn and infallible."
In the Kaṭha Upaniṣad it is also said: avidyāyām antare vartamānāḥ svayaṁ dhīrāḥ paṇḍitaṁ manyamānāḥ. Although ignorant, people still go to other blind men for leadership. As a result, both are subjected to miserable conditions. The blind lead the blind into the ditch.
kas taṁ svayaṁ tad-abhijño vipaścid
avidyāyām antare vartamānam
dṛṣṭvā punas taṁ saghṛṇaḥ kubuddhiṁ
prayojayed utpathagaṁ yathāndham
kaḥ—who is that person; tam—him; svayam—personally; tat-abhijñaḥ—knowing spiritual knowledge; vipaścit—a learned scholar; avidyāyām antare—in ignorance; vartamānam—existing; dṛṣṭvā—seeing; punaḥ—again; tam—him; sa-ghṛṇaḥ—very merciful; ku-buddhim—who is addicted to the path of saṁsāra; prayojayet—would engage; utpatha-gam—who is proceeding on the wrong path; yathā—like; andham—a blind man.
If someone is ignorant and addicted to the path of saṁsāra, how can one who is actually learned, merciful and advanced in spiritual knowledge engage him in fruitive activity and thus further entangle him in material existence? If a blind man is walking down the wrong path, how can a gentleman allow him to continue on his way to danger? How can he approve this method? No wise or kind man can allow this.
gurur na sa syāt sva-jano na sa syāt
pitā na sa syāj jananī na sā syāt
daivaṁ na tat syān na patiś ca sa syān
na mocayed yaḥ samupeta-mṛtyum
guruḥ—a spiritual master; na—not; saḥ—he; syāt—should become; sva-janaḥ—a relative; na—not; saḥ—such a person; syāt—should become; pitā—a father; na—not; saḥ—he; syāt—should become; jananī—a mother; na—not; sā—she; syāt—should become; daivam—the worshipable deity; na—not; tat—that; syāt—should become; na—not; patiḥ—a husband; ca—also; saḥ—he; syāt—should become; na—not; mocayet—can deliver; yaḥ—who; samupeta-mṛtyum—one who is on the path of repeated birth and death.
"One who cannot deliver his dependents from the path of repeated birth and death should never become a spiritual master, a father, a husband, a mother or a worshipable demigod.
There are many spiritual masters, but Ṛṣabhadeva advises that one should not become a spiritual master if he is unable to save his disciple from the path of birth and death. Unless one is a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa, he cannot save himself from the path of repeated birth and death. Tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so’rjuna. One can stop birth and death only by returning home, back to Godhead. However, who can go back to Godhead unless he understands the Supreme Lord in truth? Janma karma ca me divyam evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ.
We have many instances in history illustrating Ṛṣabhadeva’s instructions. Śukrācārya was rejected by Bali Mahārāja due to his inability to save Bali Mahārāja from the path of repeated birth and death. Śukrācārya was not a pure devotee, he was more or less inclined to fruitive activity, and he objected when Bali Mahārāja promised to give everything to Lord Viṣṇu. Actually one is supposed to give everything to the Lord because everything belongs to the Lord. Consequently, the Supreme Lord advises in Bhagavad-gītā (9.27):
yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi
yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam
"O son of Kuntī, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me." This is bhakti. Unless one is devoted, he cannot give everything to the Supreme Lord. Unless one can do so, he cannot become a spiritual master, husband, father or mother. Similarly, the wives of the brāhmaṇas who were performing sacrifices gave up their relatives just to satisfy Kṛṣṇa. This is an example of a wife rejecting a husband who cannot deliver her from the impending dangers of birth and death. Similarly, Prahlāda Mahārāja rejected his father, and Bharata Mahārāja rejected his mother (jananī na sā syāt). The word daivam indicates a demigod or one who accepts worship from a dependent. Ordinarily, the spiritual master, husband, father, mother or superior relative accepts worship from an inferior relative, but here Ṛṣabhadeva forbids this. First the father, spiritual master or husband must be able to release the dependent from repeated birth and death. If he cannot do this, he plunges himself into the ocean of reproachment for his unlawful activities. Everyone should be very responsible and take charge of his dependents just as a spiritual master takes charge of his disciple or a father takes charge of his son. All these responsibilities cannot be discharged honestly unless one can save the dependent from repeated birth and death.
idaṁ śarīraṁ mama durvibhāvyaṁ
sattvaṁ hi me hṛdayaṁ yatra dharmaḥ
pṛṣṭhe kṛto me yad adharma ārād
ato hi mām ṛṣabhaṁ prāhur āryāḥ
idam—this; śarīram—transcendental body, sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha; mama—My; durvibhāvyam—inconceivable; sattvam—with no tinge of the material modes of nature; hi—indeed; me—My; hṛdayam—heart; yatra—wherein; dharmaḥ—the real platform of religion, bhakti-yoga; pṛṣṭhe—on the back; kṛtaḥ—made; me—by Me; yat—because; adharmaḥ—irreligion; ārāt—far away; ataḥ—therefore; hi—indeed; mām—Me; ṛṣabham—the best of the living beings; prāhuḥ—call; āryāḥ—those who are advanced in spiritual life, or the respectable superiors.
My transcendental body [sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha] looks exactly like a human form, but it is not a material human body. It is inconceivable. I am not forced by nature to accept a particular type of body; I take on a body by My own sweet will. My heart is also spiritual, and I always think of the welfare of My devotees. Therefore within My heart can be found the process of devotional service, which is meant for the devotees. Far from My heart have I abandoned irreligion [adharma] and nondevotional activities. They do not appeal to Me. Due to all these transcendental qualities, people generally pray to Me as Ṛṣabhadeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the best of all living entities.
In this verse the words idaṁ śarīraṁ mama durvibhāvyam are very significant. Generally we experience two energies—material energy and spiritual energy. We have some experience of the material energy (earth, water, air, fire, ether, mind, intelligence and ego) because in the material world everyone’s body is composed of these elements. Within the material body is the spirit soul, but we cannot see it with the material eyes. When we see a body full of spiritual energy, it is very difficult for us to understand how the spiritual energy can have a body. It is said that Lord Ṛṣabhadeva’s body is completely spiritual; therefore for a materialistic person, it is very difficult to understand. For a materialistic person, the completely spiritual body is inconceivable. We have to accept the version of the Vedas when our experimental perception cannot understand a subject. As stated in Brahma-saṁhitā: īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ. The Supreme Lord has a body with form, but that body is not composed of material elements. It is made of spiritual bliss, eternity and living force. By the inconceivable energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord can appear before us in His original spiritual body, but because we have no experience of the spiritual body, we are sometimes bewildered and see the form of the Lord as material. The Māyāvādī philosophers are completely unable to conceive of a spiritual body. They say that the spirit is always impersonal, and whenever they see something personal, they take it for granted that it is material. In Bhagavad-gītā (9.11) it is said:
avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā
mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritam
paraṁ bhāvam ajānanto
"Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be."
Unintelligent people think that the Supreme Lord accepts a body composed of the material energy. We can easily understand the material body, but we cannot understand the spiritual body. Therefore Ṛṣabhadeva says: idaṁ śarīraṁ mama durvibhāvyam. In the spiritual world, everyone has a spiritual body. There is no conception of material existence there. In the spiritual world there is only service and the receiving of service. There is only sevya, sevā, and sevaka—the person served, the process of service and the servant. These three items are completely spiritual, and therefore the spiritual world is called absolute. There is no tinge of material contamination there. Being completely transcendental to the material conception, Lord Ṛṣabhadeva states that His heart is composed of dharma. Dharma is explained in Bhagavad-gītā (18.66): sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja. In the spiritual world, every living entity is surrendered to the Supreme Lord and is completely on the spiritual platform. Although there are servitors, the served and service, all are spiritual and variegated. At the present moment, due to our material conception, everything is durvibhāvya, inconceivable. Being the Supreme, the Lord is called Ṛṣabha, the best. In terms of the Vedic language, nityo nityānām. We are also spiritual, but we are subordinate. Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Lord, is the foremost living entity. The word ṛṣabha means "the chief," or "the supreme," and indicates the Supreme Being, or God Himself.
tasmād bhavanto hṛdayena jātāḥ
sarve mahīyāṁsam amuṁ sanābham
akliṣṭa-buddhyā bharataṁ bhajadhvaṁ
śuśrūṣaṇaṁ tad bharaṇaṁ prajānām
tasmāt—therefore (because I am the Supreme); bhavantaḥ—you; hṛdayena—from My heart; jātāḥ—born; sarve—all; mahīyāṁsam—the best; amum—that; sa-nābham—brother; akliṣṭa-buddhyā—with your intelligence, without material contamination; bharatam—Bharata; bhajadhvam—just try to serve; śuśrūṣaṇam—service; tat—that; bharaṇam prajānām—ruling over the citizens.
My dear boys, you are all born of My heart, which is the seat of all spiritual qualities. Therefore you should not be like materialistic and envious men. You should accept your eldest brother, Bharata, who is exalted in devotional service. If you engage yourselves in Bharata’s service, your service to him will include My service, and you will rule the citizens automatically.
In this verse the word hṛdaya indicates the heart, which is also called uraḥ, the chest. The heart is situated within the chest, and although instrumentally the son is born with the aid of the genitals, he is actually born from within the heart. According to the heart’s situation, the semina takes the form of a body. Therefore according to the Vedic system, when one begets a child his heart should be purified through the ritualistic ceremony known as garbhādhāna. Ṛṣabhadeva’s heart was always uncontaminated and spiritual. Consequently all the sons born from the heart of Ṛṣabhadeva were spiritually inclined. Nonetheless, Ṛṣabhadeva suggested that His eldest son was superior, and He advised the others to serve him. All the brothers of Bharata Mahārāja were advised by Ṛṣabhadeva to adhere to Bharata’s service. The question may be asked why one should be attached to family members, for in the beginning it was advised that one should not be attached to home and family. However, it is also advised, mahīyasām pāda-rajo-’bhiṣeka—one has to serve the mahīyān, one who is very spiritually advanced. Mahat-sevāṁ dvāram āhur vimukteḥ: by serving the mahat, the exalted devotee, one’s path for liberation is open. The family of Ṛṣabhadeva should not be compared to an ordinary materialistic family. Bharata Mahārāja, Ṛṣabhadeva’s eldest son, was specifically very exalted. For this reason the other sons were advised to serve him for his pleasure. That was to be their duty.
The Supreme Lord was advising Bharata Mahārāja to be the chief ruler of the planet. This is the real plan of the Supreme Lord. In the Battle of Kurukṣetra, we find that Lord Kṛṣṇa wanted Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira to be the supreme emperor of this planet. He never wanted Duryodhana to take the post. As stated in the previous verse, Lord Ṛṣabhadeva’s heart is hṛdayaṁ yatra dharmaḥ. The characteristic dharma is also explained in Bhagavad-gītā: surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. To protect dharma (paritrāṇāya sādhūnām), the Lord always wants the ruler of the earth to be a devotee. Then everything goes on nicely for the benefit of everyone. As soon as a demon rules the earth, everything becomes chaotic. At the present moment, the world is inclined toward the democratic process, but the people in general are all contaminated by the modes of passion and ignorance. Consequently they cannot select the right person to head the government. The president is selected by the votes of ignorant śūdras; therefore another śūdra is elected, and immediately the entire government becomes polluted. If people strictly followed the principles of Bhagavad-gītā, they would elect a person who is the Lord’s devotee. Then automatically there would be good government. Ṛṣabhadeva therefore recommended Bharata Mahārāja as the emperor of this planet. Serving a devotee means serving the Supreme Lord, for a devotee always represents the Lord. When a devotee is in charge, the government is always congenial and beneficial for everyone.
bhūteṣu vīrudbhya uduttamā ye
sarīsṛpās teṣu sabodha-niṣṭhāḥ
tato manuṣyāḥ pramathās tato ‘pi
gandharva-siddhā vibudhānugā ye
dakṣādayo brahma-sutās tu teṣām
bhavaḥ paraḥ so ‘tha viriñca-vīryaḥ
sa mat-paro ‘haṁ dvija-deva-devaḥ
bhūteṣu—among things generated (with and without symptoms of life); vīrudbhyaḥ—than the plants; uduttamāḥ—far superior; ye—those who; sarīsṛpāḥ—moving entities like worms and snakes; teṣu—of them; sa-bodha-niṣṭhāḥ—those who have developed intelligence; tataḥ—than them; manuṣyāḥ—the human beings; pramathāḥ—the ghostly spirits; tataḥ api—better than them; gandharva—the inhabitants of Gandharvaloka (appointed singers in the planets of the demigods); siddhāḥ—the inhabitants of Siddhaloka, who have all mystic powers; vibudha-anugāḥ—the Kinnaras; ye—those who; deva—the demigods; asurebhyaḥ—than the asuras; maghavat-pradhānāḥ—headed by Indra; dakṣa-ādayaḥ—beginning with Dakṣa; brahma-sutāḥ—the direct sons of Brahmā; tu—then; teṣām—of them; bhavaḥ—Lord Śiva; paraḥ—the best; saḥ—he (Lord Śiva); atha—moreover; viriñca-vīryaḥ—producing from Lord Brahmā; saḥ—he (Brahmā); mat-paraḥ—My devotee; aham—I; dvija-deva-devaḥ—a worshiper of the brāhmaṇas, or the Lord of the brāhmaṇas.
Of the two energies manifest [spirit and dull matter], beings possessing living force [vegetables, grass, trees and plants] are superior to dull matter [stone, earth, etc.]. Superior to nonmoving plants and vegetables are worms and snakes, which can move. Superior to worms and snakes are animals that have developed intelligence. Superior to animals are human beings, and superior to human beings are ghosts because they have no material bodies. Superior to ghosts are the Gandharvas, and superior to them are the Siddhas. Superior to the Siddhas are the Kinnaras, and superior to them are the asuras. Superior to the asuras are the demigods, and of the demigods, Indra, the King of heaven, is supreme. Superior to Indra are the direct sons of Lord Brahmā, sons like King Dakṣa, and supreme among Brahmā’s sons is Lord Śiva. Since Lord Śiva is the son of Lord Brahmā, Brahmā is considered superior, but Brahmā is also subordinate to Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Because I am inclined to the brāhmaṇas, the brāhmaṇas are best of all.
In this verse the brāhmaṇas are given a position superior to that of the Supreme Lord. The idea is that the government should be conducted under the guidance of the brāhmaṇas. Although Ṛṣabhadeva recommended His eldest son, Bharata, as emperor of the earth, he still had to follow the instructions of the brāhmaṇas in order to govern the world perfectly. The Lord is worshiped as brahmaṇya-deva. The Lord is very fond of devotees, or brāhmaṇas. This does not refer to so-called caste brāhmaṇas, but to qualified brāhmaṇas. A brāhmaṇa should be qualified with the eight qualities mentioned in text 24, such as śama, dama, satya and titikṣā. The brāhmaṇas should always be worshiped, and under their guidance the ruler should discharge his duty and rule the citizens. Unfortunately, in this age of Kali, the executive is not selected by very intelligent people, nor is he guided by qualified brāhmaṇas. Consequently, chaos results. The mass of people should be educated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness so that according to the democratic process they can select a first-class devotee like Bharata Mahārāja to head the government. If the head of the state is headed by qualified brāhmaṇas, everything is completely perfect.
In this verse, the evolutionary process is indirectly mentioned. The modern theory that life evolves from matter is to some extent supported in this verse because it is stated, bhūteṣu vīrudbhyaḥ. That is, the living entities evolve from vegetables, grass, plants and trees, which are superior to dull matter. In other words, matter also has the potency to manifest living entities in the form of vegetables. In this sense, life comes out of matter, but matter also comes out of life. As Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (10.8), ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate: "I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me."
There are two energies—material and spiritual—and both originally come from Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is the supreme living being. Although it may be said that in the material world a living force is generated from matter, it must be admitted that originally matter is generated from the supreme living being. Nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām. The conclusion is that everything, both material and spiritual, is generated from the Supreme Being. From the evolutionary point of view, perfection is reached when the living entity attains the platform of a brāhmaṇa. A brāhmaṇa is a worshiper of the Supreme Brahman, and the Supreme Brahman worships the brāhmaṇa. In other words, the devotee is subordinate to the Supreme Lord, and the Lord is inclined to see to the satisfaction of His devotee. A brāhmaṇa is called dvija-deva, and the Lord is called dvija-deva-deva. He is the Lord of brāhmaṇas.
The evolutionary process is also explained in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya, Chapter Nineteen), wherein it is said that there are two types of living entities—moving and nonmoving. Among moving entities, there are birds, beasts, aquatics, human beings and so on. Of these, the human beings are supposed to be the best, but they are few. Of these small numbers of human beings, there are many low-class human beings like mlecchas, Pulindas, bauddhas and śabaras. The human being elevated enough to accept the Vedic principles is superior. Among those who accept the Vedic principles generally known as varṇāśrama (presently known as the Hindu system), few actually follow these principles. Of those who actually follow the Vedic principles, most perform fruitive activity or pious activity for elevation to a high position. Manuṣyāṇāṁ sahasreṣu kaścid yatati siddhaye: out of many attached to fruitive activity, one may be a jñānī—that is, one philosophically inclined and superior to the karmīs. Yatatām api siddhānāṁ kaścin māṁ vetti tattvataḥ: out of many jñānīs, one may be liberated from material bondage, and out of many millions of liberated jñānīs, one may become a devotee of Kṛṣṇa.
na brāhmaṇais tulaye bhūtam anyat
paśyāmi viprāḥ kim ataḥ paraṁ tu
yasmin nṛbhiḥ prahutaṁ śraddhayāham
aśnāmi kāmaṁ na tathāgni-hotre
na—not; brāhmaṇaiḥ—with the brāhmaṇas; tulaye—I count as equal; bhūtam—entity; anyat—other; paśyāmi—I can see; viprāḥ—O assembled brāhmaṇas; kim—anything; ataḥ—to the brāhmaṇas; param—superior; tu—certainly; yasmin—through whom; nṛbhiḥ—by people; prahutam—food offered after ritualistic ceremonies are properly performed; śraddhayā—with faith and love; aham—I; aśnāmi—eat; kāmam—with full satisfaction; na—not; tathā—in that way; agni-hotre—in the fire sacrifice.
O respectful brāhmaṇas, as far as I am concerned, no one is equal or superior to the brāhmaṇas in this world. I do not find anyone comparable to them. When people know My motive after performing rituals according to the Vedic principles, they offer food to Me with faith and love through the mouth of a brāhmaṇa. When food is thus offered unto Me, I eat it with full satisfaction. Indeed, I derive more pleasure from food offered in that way than from the food offered in the sacrificial fire.
According to the Vedic system, after the sacrificial ceremony the brāhmaṇas are invited to eat the remnants of the offered food. When the brāhmaṇas eat the food, it is to be considered directly eaten by the Supreme Lord. Thus no one can be compared to qualified brāhmaṇas. The perfection of evolution is to be situated on the brahminical platform. Any civilization not based on brahminical culture or guided by brāhmaṇas is certainly a condemned civilization. Presently human civilization is based on sense gratification, and consequently more and more people are becoming addicted to different types of things. No one respects brahminical culture. Demoniac civilization is attached to ugra-karma, horrible activities, and big industries are created to satisfy unfathomable lusty desires. Consequently the people are greatly harassed by governmental taxation. The people are irreligious and do not perform the sacrifices recommended in Bhagavad-gītā. Yajñād bhavati parjanyaḥ: by the performance of sacrifice, clouds form and rain falls. Due to sufficient rainfall, there is sufficient production of food. Guided by the brāhmaṇas, society should follow the principles of Bhagavad-gītā. Then people will become very happy. Annād bhavanti bhūtāni: when animals and man are sufficiently fed with grains, they become stronger, their hearts become tranquil and their brains peaceful. They can then advance in spiritual life, life’s ultimate destination.
dhṛtā tanūr uśatī me purāṇī
yeneha sattvaṁ paramaṁ pavitram
śamo damaḥ satyam anugrahaś ca
tapas titikṣānubhavaś ca yatra
dhṛtā—maintained by transcendental education; tanūḥ—body; uśatī—free from material contamination; me—My; purāṇī—eternal; yena—by whom; iha—in this material world; sattvam—the mode of goodness; paramam—supreme; pavitram—purified; śamaḥ—control of the mind; damaḥ—control of the senses; satyam—truthfulness; anugrahaḥ—mercy; ca—and; tapaḥ—austerity; titikṣā—tolerance; anubhavaḥ—realization of God and the living entity; ca—and; yatra—wherein.
The Vedas are My eternal transcendental sound incarnation. Therefore the Vedas are śabda-brahma. In this world, the brāhmaṇas thoroughly study all the Vedas, and because they assimilate the Vedic conclusions, they are also to be considered the Vedas personified. The brāhmaṇas are situated in the supreme transcendental mode of nature-sattva-guṇa. Because of this, they are fixed in mind control [śama], sense control [dama], and truthfulness [satya]. They describe the Vedas in their original sense, and out of mercy [anugraha] they preach the purpose of the Vedas to all conditioned souls. They practice penance [tapasya] and tolerance [titikṣā], and they realize the position of the living entity and the Supreme Lord [anubhava]. These are the eight qualifications of the brāhmaṇas. Therefore among all living entities, no one is superior to the brāhmaṇas.
This is a true description of a brāhmaṇa. A brāhmaṇa is one who has assimilated the Vedic conclusions by practicing mind and sense control. He speaks the true version of all the Vedas. As confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā (15.15): vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyaḥ. By studying all the Vedas, one should come to understand the transcende