Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.4.25

Montreal, June 20, 1968
om ajnana-timirandhasya
caksur-unmilitam yena
tasmai sri-gurave namah
[I offer my respectful obeisances unto my spiritual master, who with the torchlight of knowledge has opened my eyes, which were blinded by the darkness of ignorance.]
[When will Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada, who has established within this material world the mission to fulfill the desire of Lord Caitanya, give me shelter under his lotus feet?]
[O my dear Krsna, ocean of mercy, You are the friend of the distressed and the source of creation. You are the master of the cowherdmen and the lover of the gopis, especially Radharani. I offer my respectful obeisances unto You.]
Today I shall speak before you about Maharaja Pariksit. The hero of Srimad-Bhagvatam is King Pariksit as the hero of Mahabharata, the great history of India, Mahabharata. Now, this Bharata I have several times explained. Bharata means this planet, and Mahabharata means the complete history of the whole world. Nowadays, at the present moment, history means a chronological record, but previously, history means only the important incidences at different times, they were recorded. Therefore, in Mahabharata or any other Purana also... Puranas are also history. We don't find any chronological incidences one after another. But the most important selected incidences, especially in connection with God realization, they are recorded.
So this Mahabharata is also history, and as history is liked by common man, so Mahabharata was written by Vyasadeva for understanding of the most common men. Stri-sudra-dvijabandhunam trayi na sruti-gocara [SB 1.4.25]. The Vyasadeva has given explanation why he compiled Mahabharata, the great history of this Bharata. Now it is called India, but the planet was called Bharata, Bharata-varsa. So he has given explanation that "The Vedic principle, Vedic instructions, they are not directly understandable by commen men and women.'' Stri-sudra-dvijabandhunam. Who are common men? Women class, as a class, and sudra, laborer class, working class, and Stri-sudra-dvijabandhunam. And dvija means twice-born, the higher caste. The higher caste means they must be twice-born. How is that? One birth is father and mother, real father and mother, and the next birth is spiritual master and the Vedas. That means when one is trained up in the matter of real knowledge—Veda means real knowledge—by the guidance of the spiritual master, he is supposed to be twice-born. So dvija-bandhu. Twice-born means cultural society. Those who have Vedic cultured, those who have followed the Vedic principles rigidly, it doesn't matter whether he is a householder or a brahmacari or a sannyasi. There are eight divisions of human society: four divisions social structure, and four divisions for spiritual enlightenment. So unless the eight divisions are properly managed, that is not human society. Human society is distinct from animal society by culture. What is that culture? Vedic culture, knowledge. Vedic means knowledge. One must be equipped with full knowledge. "So this Vedic culture,'' Vyasadeva says, "or the Vedic principles, are not very easily understood by women class, by worker class, and dvija-bandhu.'' Dvija-bandhu means the boys who have taken birth in the family who are supposed to be very cultured, but their habit is different. They are called dvija-bandhu. In every country, that deterioration of social structure has already begun. They are called varna-sankara. Varna-sankara factually means that those who are illiterate. So for them it is very difficult to understand the Vedic principles. Therefore the same knowledge is described in stories just like Mahabharata, Puranas, and for understanding of all men, all women. So Mahabharata is especially written for such class of men and women. And the hero of Mahabharata is Arjuna. Similarly, the hero of Srimad-Bhagavatam is Arjuna's grandson, Maharaja Pariksit, King Pariksit.
Now the history of Srimad-Bhagavatam is like this, that Pariksit Maharaja was a great king, emperor of the world, very pious devotee, all qualified. So sometimes he went to the forest for hunting. The hunting is allowed to the ksatriyas, kings, royal kings. Why? Because a king has to look after administration of the society; therefore sometimes he has to order to kill some men, "Hang this man." Or sometimes he will take the sword in his own hand and kill the culprit, criminal, immediately. So therefore the killing practice was allowed to the ksatriyas, royal family. Therefore sometimes the king would go into the forest and kill some animals to practice. Just like in the medical laboratory, physiological laboratory, some animals are tested to see the physiological condition of the body, similarly, always these experiments are made on the animals. So Maharaja Pariksit went to the forest for hunting. So he was very tired. He was very tired, and he entered the cottage of one hermitage. He was at that time in meditation. So Pariksit Maharaja was very much thirsty and hungry, and because he was king, he can order anyone, royal order, so he entered the cottage and asked the hermitage, that muni, that "Please give me something to eat. I am very hungry," or "Give me some drinking water." But he was in meditation. By chance he could not hear Maharaja Pariksit. He was silent. But because he was king, king, royal power, he little became agitated, although he was very nice king, "Oh, he is disordering, er, disobeying my orders?" then he became disgusted. And there was a dead serpent lying there. So he took that dead serpent and put it on the neck of the hermitage and went away.
Now, that hermitage had one boy, a ten years, twelve years old, and that boy had some playmates. They were playing, and some of the boys informed the son of that hermitage that "Your father has been insulted by the king. He is garlanded with a dead snake." So that boy, the son of that hermitage became very angry, and he cursed him. That one point is here to see, that a child of a brahmana, a son of a brahmana, was so powerful that he could curse a great king like Maharaja Pariksit that "You have insulted my father. So that snake will bite you within seven days, and you will die." This was the version. Now the boy came back home and saw the father was garlanded with the dead snake, and he began to cry, began to cry. He felt so much that his father was insulted. His father was brahmana. He was brahmana. "Oh, brahmana has been insulted by the ksatriya?" So he felt too much. He began to cry. So by his crying, that hermitage came to his senses and asked the boy, "Why you are crying?" "Oh, father, you do not know. You have been insulted by the king in this way, and I have cursed him." Oh, his father became astonished. "Oh, you have cursed Maharaja Pariksit? Oh, you have done the greatest blunder. Oh, such a nice king. Depending on him, the subject, the citizens, are sleeping very peacefully. There is no danger. And you have cursed him?" Oh, he became very much sorry. And that description is there. Next day we shall explain how he was sorry. But after all, the cursing was already there.
So he sent information to the king that "My dear king, this accident is already done. So you prepare yourself for death." That information was given. So Pariksit Maharaja was also very sorry, that "I insulted a brahmana, which I should not have done," and he welcomed the cursing, that "It is good for me that I have been cursed, so that in future I shall not dare to act like that." He was such a nice king. Anyway, he was young man. He was not old man. He was within thirties. So immediately he entrusted the whole kingdom to his young boy, and he left home, left home and went to the Ganges side. The kingdom of Maharaja Pariksit was supposed to be situated somewhere in New Delhi, and there is a river called Yamuna. So Yamuna, Ganges, practically it is coming out from the same source. And that is according to Jiva Gosvami. But Yamuna is supposed to be more sacred than the Ganges, because in the Yamuna Lord Krsna enjoyed. So in the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated that Maharaja Pariksit went to the bank of the Ganges. But near New Delhi side there is no Ganges; there is Yamuna. So it is to be taken that he went to the side of the Yamuna. Anyway, the news spread all over the world that "The great king has been cursed, and he is going to die within seven days."
So all great sages, saintly persons, scholars, kings, they went to see him at the Ganges side. There was great assembly. And Pariksit Maharaja inquired from everyone that "Now it is settled that I am going to die. The time is fixed already. Within a week, I shall be dying. Now what is my duty?" The thing is that before death we must prepare ourself. The present nonsense civilization, they don't prepare. They simply accept the flash life as all in all. The other day I was corresponding with one gentleman in London, Mr. Webb(?). He is little atheistic. He said that "There is no life, next. Just like a flower. A flower is bloomed and finished." So I have replied that "No, it is not finished. How it can be finished? The seed of the flower remains." Seed of the flower remains. So, so long the seed of the flower will remain, there will be many thousands and millions of manifestation of the flower. Similarly, this body may be finished, but the seed of the body, the soul, that is eternal. It will develop another body. That is a fact. Just like in this very life every one of us experiencing that because I, I am the seed of this body... Seed. Just try to understand this word seed. Just like you have got idea: a small seed of a banyan tree. It is smaller than even a mustard grain, but in that seed there is potency of a big tree, so high, hundred stories high. In your country I see so many big trees very high. There are many other big trees in other planets. So..., but that big tree means that seed. Within that seed, there is so much potency. That we do not understand. Actually, the materialist scientists, they cannot produce such seed. That if you want the tree, you have to sow one seed. If you have to produce a child, you have to sow. The man has to sow the seed in the womb of the woman. This is a practical.
So the seed is eternal. That we get information from Vedic literatures. Bijo 'ham sarva-bhutanam [Bg 7.10]. Na hanyate hanyamane sarire [Bg. 2.20]. That bija, that seed, does not, I mean to say, annihilate because the body is annihilated. This is the basic principle of understanding for making progress in spiritual life. One who does not understand this basic principle, that the spirit soul, the seed, is eternal, and it is transmigrating different bodies... And factually we know that "My father gave the seed in the womb of my mother, that seed. And from that seed developed this body. But I am... When my body was just like, as small, just like a pea, I was there. And I have become so big. I am there. So many bodily changes have taken place, but I am there." Similarly, tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati [Bg. 2.13]. Similarly, when we change this body finally and take another body, so one who knows the fact or the science of birth and death, he is not disturbed. He is not disturbed. Dhiras tatra na muhyati. Dhira means intelligent, cool-headed, not rascal. So this very word is used, dhira. Dhira means cool-headed, not disturbed. Na muhyati: "He is not bewildered." He's just changing this body. So now the business is that before changing this body, "What kind of other body I am going to get?" That is my business. That we can get according to as I deserve. Just like as you educate yourself in your childhood, so you get a particular type of post when you are businessman or working man. If you have got sufficient education, you could get good post, good salary. And if you are a nonsense, then you have to work like ordinary man, no good post. Just we have got, we get different types of post according to our culture or education, similarly this body, this human body, is the preparation ground for the next type of body. If you neglect that, then we are getting..., we are taking the risk.
So Pariksit Maharaja, he was not a fool. He was a learned king. So all the great sages and saintly persons assembled there. He asked them, "My dear sirs, you are so kind that you have come here at the time of my death. So kindly let me know what is my duty at the present moment." So there were different kinds of authorities. Different kinds of authorities means some were in favor of fruitive activities, karma-kanda, pious activities; some were in favor of yoga principles; some were in favor of philosophical speculation; and some were in favor of devotional service of bhakti. So fortunately, Sukadeva Gosvami, a boy of sixteen years old, but he was highly elevated in spiritual knowledge, the son of Vyasadeva, he was wandering all over the world, naked and without any care for his body or social convention. Of course, he did not come into the cities, but he heard that Pariksit Maharaja was going to die. "He is in need of some spiritual instruction." So he also came there in that meeting. And when he was coming, because he was a naked boy, sixteen-years-old boy, the street boys were throwing stone upon him. Somebody was fighting just like a madman. But when he entered the assembly, everyone stood up. Then the rascal creatures who were annoying him, they fled away: "Oh, he is important man, that so many sages and saintly person has stood up." Anyway, when he reached there, Pariksit Maharaja received him that "It is my good fortune that at this time you have come, because it is very rarely you go to anyone's house, but Krsna has sent you. Now what is my duty?" Pariksit Maharaja was, from the very beginning... Because the whole family, Pandava family, they were devotees of Lord Krsna, so naturally he was devotee of Lord Krsna. And when he was child, he was playing with the doll of Krsna. These are described here. So he asked, "What is my duty? Shall I continue my talks on Krsna, because naturally I am inclined to Krsna? So what is your advice?"
So in answer to that, Sukadeva Gosvami... Now, one thing we should note in this connection, that Pariksit Maharaja, he was a powerful king. He was equipped with all, everything, but he did not counteract the curse. He could counteract that curse. He was so powerful, but he accepted: "All right. I am cursed. I shall give up my life within seven days." That means he took it as an opportunity that "I am going to death within seven days. That is certain. And I must prepare myself fully so that my next life I can approach Krsna." So this is a good opportunity, that "I have got seven days' time." We haven't got seven seconds' time. We do not know. Nobody has served me notice. We find by practical experience that we are walking on the street—all of a sudden there is some accident, and we die. There is possibility. So the important point is that Maharaja Pariksit was fortunate enough to get seven days' time before his death. But we do not know how much time is there for our death. So how much serious we shall be. Canakya Pandita says that "If you want to make spiritual advancement, then you should always think that "Death is next moment. Death is next moment." Because there is no guarantee when death is coming. If I think that death is next moment, that is not any utopian. The next moment may be my death. And Canakya Pandita says, "But if you want to be materially happy, you should always think that 'I shall never die,' " although it is false idea. Everyone will die. So Pariksit Maharaja, he was preparing. How he was preparing? He did not take seven days even a drop of water. He sat down tight on the bank of the Ganges, and the Sukadeva Gosvami narrated this Srimad-Bhagavatam, and he heard, and at the end of seven days, at the particular time, he was bitten by a snake and he left this world.
Now, the beginning of the Second Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam is the answer, sri-suka uvaca: "Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said." Because in the previous chapter the questions were put by Maharaja Pariksit, that "What is my duty? What is my duty?" So he says... Because he wanted to know about Krsna, so Sukadeva Gosvami is approving his very nice prasna, question:
"My dear King Pariksit, you have put very nice question. And to hear about Krsna is the topmost subject of hearing." Srotavyadisu yah parah. Parah means topmost, the highest. "So your question, whether to hear about Krsna, is welcome." Variyan esa te prasnah krto loka-hitam nrpa: [SB 2.1.1] "This prasna, this question, is very much beneficial to the people in general," loka-hitam. Because Pariksit Maharaja was questioning, and Sukadeva Gosvami was answering, but there were many other persons. Although the questions and answers were only for Pariksit Maharaja, not for others, but everyone expected that because Sukadeva Gosvami was speaking to the king, that speaking must be very important to everyone. So all the great sages... Even the father of Sukadeva Gosvami, Vyasadeva, who is the compiler of so many Vedic literatures, he also came there to hear his sixteen-years-old boy. He was so elevated. It does not matter whether a man is old or young; it is the question of knowledge. So Sukadeva Gosvami was so elevated that so many persons assembled there. And the Suta Gosvami, who spoke the Srimad-Bhagavatam for the second time amongst the sages of Naimisaranya, he was also present in that meeting, and he heard from Sukadeva Gosvami, and he repeated to the sages of Naimisaranya. So sri-krsna-sravanadhi-prayena parama-prasna krta esa tu variyan. Sukadeva Gosvami is congratulating Maharaja Pariksit, that "You have raised the question of Krsna, understanding Krsna. It is very welcome." Yah prasno 'pi srotavyadisu param: "Such kind of question is the topmost question, topmost question. There is no more better question than this." In other words, when you become inquisitive to understand the Krsna consciousness, then that very questions will elevate you to the highest perfectional stage.
So, srotavyadisu yah para, yasya prasna syapi sravanadau paramah purusarthah. Now, Sukadeva Gosvami says that "The question put by you and the answers which I shall give to you, even the general persons who are assembled here, they do not understand it rightly, but simply hearing that mantra, or the answers, will give him the highest quality benefit.'' In another place it is stated, srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah punya-sravana-kirtanah [SB 1.2.17]. Now, this the classes which we hold here We invite everyone, but those who are fortunate, they come here. But even those who are coming here, they do not understand the philosophy, but simply by hearing the vibration of Hare Krsna or the sound vibration, just like I am speaking to you, they will be benefited, even without understanding. It is such a nice thing. Srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah punya-sravana-kirtanah. That Krsna, description of Krsna, is itself a pious activity, punya-sravana. Because it is pious, so anyone who is speaking or anyone who is hearing, both of them are benefited. How they are benefited?
Krsna is situated in everyone's heart. It is not that because I am a sannyasi, Krsna is sitting within my heart. No. Krsna is sitting in everyone's heart. Isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese 'rjuna tisthati [Bg. 18.61]. And He is sentient. He is perfect in knowledge. So this very act, that one is trying to understand Krsna, that makes Krsna very pleased. Because he has kindly come here, so Krsna is within you, and because you are giving your patient hearing, He is already pleased. He is already pleased with you. And the effect will be that srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah punya-sravana-kirtanah, hrdy antah-stho hy abhadrani. Abhadra means the nasty things which we have accumulated within our heart since time immemorial. The beginning is that "I am this body," this conception. This is animal conception, "I am this body." So due to this misconception of our life, we have accumulated many dirty and dusty things within our heart. So if we hear Srimad-Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-gita, even if we do not understand it, the action will be there. The action will be there. Just like if you touch fire, either you understand it or not understand it, that fire is fire. It will burn your finger. Just like if a child, he does not understand what is fire, but if he touches fire, his fingers or hand will be burned immediately. There is no mercy: "Oh, here is an innocent child. He does not know." No. the law of nature will act. Similarly, krsna-katha, punya-sravana-kirtana, it is so pious and it is so spiritual that anyone who will hear it, either by understanding or without understanding, the action will be there like fire. So variyan esa te prasnah [SB 2.1.1].
So it is now quarter past, ten past eight. Now, we shall discuss this meeting of Pariksit Maharaja and Sukadeva Gosvami continually, so you please come, even if you do not understand. You can understand because we invite questions and answers. So any human being can understand. But even if you do not understand, the action of hearing will be there. [break] They are purified or attracted simply by this sound vibration. It is so nice. So if we simply give our aural reception to this transcendental sound, then there is immense profit, immense profit. So we invite everyone to come here and take this advantage. Thank you very much. Any question.
Devotee (1): Who is the author of Mahabharata?
Prabhupada: Mahabharata author is Vyasadeva. Author means it is not an imaginary story. It is historical fact. History anyone can write. So if you mean by author that something original, just like at the present moment there are so many authors of some fiction, novel, and fictitious, it is not like that. The historical incidences were there, and it was put forward by Vyasadeva. In that sense he is author.
Guest (2): When was it written, the Bhagavad-gita?
Prabhupada: Five thousand years before. It was after the Battle of Kuruksetra. The Battle of Kuruksetra was fought about five thousand years ago, and the Srimad-Bhagavatam was written after writing Mahabharata. When Vyasadeva was not satisfied in his heart even by writing Mahabharata and Vedanta-sutra, he was sitting morose, and he was thinking that "I have written so many nice literatures. Why I am not happy?" At that time his spiritual master Narada came, and he instructed him that "You have written the history of Mahabharata. It is very nice. But there is some idea of Krsna, or God, but not absolute. You write some book in which simply, absolutely about Krsna is there." So under his instruction he wrote the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Pradyumna: Did some time lapse between the actual, Vyasa's conception of the Srimad-Bhagavatam and the actual writing down of the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Was it passed orally, or was written down by Vyasa Krsna himself?
Prabhupada: That doesn't matter. If you know something, if you write after some years, what is the difference? That is not very important thing. It was written for the persons... Formerly there was no written literatures. Simply by hearing from the spiritual master, their memory was so sharp that they would grasp. But in this age, the memory is not such sharp. Therefore written records are... So these written records were made by Vyasadeva. All Vedic literatures. Formerly, before Vyasadeva, there was no written literatures. Simply... This is called sruti. Sruti means simply by hearing. The student should learn simply by hearing. Their memory was so sharp. But at the present age so many things are reducing gradually. The memory is reducing, the duration of life is reducing, the strength is reducing, and the mercy is reducing. So many things are reducing. We are thinking that we are making progress, but actually we are reducing. This is called maya. We are making progress on the wrong side. That means reducing. Everyone, you know that people are not so much merciful at the present moment. If a man is attacked by some rogue, nobody is going to help him. If a man's apartment is, there is a burglar, thief, nobody is going to help him. Or if a man is very poor, nobody is going to help him. It is dwindling. It is decreasing. Similarly, duration of life. Your grandfather, your forefathers, they were living up to hundred years or more than that. And nowadays hardly they are living sixty or seventy years. Similarly, memory. The memory is also reducing. Knowledge is also reducing. This is the symptom of this age. Things will be reduced. Therefore Lord Caitanya is the most magnanimous. He knows that "People will not be very much alert in accepting spiritual knowledge after undergoing so much austerities and penances. Let them chant Hare Krsna and take everything.(?)" That is the special gift of Lord Caitanya. And Rupa Gosvami therefore prayed Him, namo maha-vadanyaya: "You are the greatest munificent incarnation." Krsna prema-pradaya te: [Cc. Madhya 19.53] "You are the greatest munificent incarnation." Krsna prema-pradaya te: "You are distributing love of Krsna." So unfortunately, we are not ready to accept His benediction. Any other question?
Woman (3): The stories of Krsna's pastimes in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, are they found in the Vedas also?
Prabhupada: Yes.
Woman (3): All the Vedic literatures? Why would they be written down?
Prabhupada: Written? Nothing was written. Vedas was also not written. They were heard from disciplic succession. The first writing business was done by Vyasadeva. Before that, there was nothing in writing. All Vedic scriptures, they were learned by simply hearing. That's all. The brahmacaris will live in the direction of the spiritual master and hear the class, and they will learn. That's all, no written book, neither there was notebook. Everything was heard by students. There was no need of writing. Therefore this whole Vedic literature is called sruti. Sruti means simply hearing. There was... Even in recent years there was a learned pandita in Calcutta. There were some... In the British days there was some quarrel between two Britishers, and one of them complained to the magistrate, and the magistrate inquired, "Who is your witness?" Then one of them said that "Well, there was nobody else. But there was a pandita. He was worshiping in that bank of the Ganges. So we had some quarrel. He has heard it." So he was called. So he stated that "I do not know what they talked because they were talking in English language, but I can produce what they talked." So he produced the whole thing verbatim, that "He talked like this. He talked like this. He talked like this. He talked like this." Just like record, tape record. Just see. Even some hundred years before, the memory was so sharp. Just like tape recorder, it is recorded. This is mechanical. But by nature we have got such nice brain. Just like we remember so many things of our past life. That is recorded. Actually it is recorded. Everything is recorded. How you are getting this television? Because it is recorded in the atmosphere. It is being simply transferred. Everything is recorded. But we have deteriorated in our even physical condition that we cannot produce the recorded version. So we are making ourself dull, duller, dullest. Just like Sir George Bernard Shaw, he also stated that "You are what you eat." So by eating process, we are making our brain dull. So there is need of nice eating, nice talking, nice thinking, nice behavior. The our brain is sharp. It requires training. It is not that you can do whatever you like and all nonsense, and your brain will be sharp. What is the difference between crazy and sane man? They keep nice behavior. Therefore they are sane man. And if you put to you nonsense behavior, then you become crazy. This is a fact. All right. Chant. (end)

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