Chapter Two
Hiraṇyakaśipu, King of the Demons
As described in this chapter, after the annihilation of Hiraṇyākṣa, Hiraṇyākṣa’s sons and his brother Hiraṇyakaśipu were very much aggrieved. Hiraṇyakaśipu reacted very sinfully by trying to diminish the religious activities of people in general. However, he instructed his nephews about a history just to diminish their aggrievement.
When the Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared as the boar and killed Hiraṇyakaśipu’s brother Hiraṇyākṣa, Hiraṇyakaśipu was very much aggrieved. In anger, he accused the Supreme Personality of Godhead of being partial to His devotees and derided the Lord’s appearance as Varāha to kill his brother. He began to agitate all the demons and Rākṣasas and disturb the ritualistic ceremonies of the peaceful sages and other inhabitants of earth. For want of the performance of yajña, sacrifice, the demigods began wandering unseen on earth.
After finishing the ritualistic funeral ceremonies of his brother, Hiraṇyakaśipu began speaking to his nephews, quoting from the śāstras about the truth of life. To pacify them, he spoke as follows: “My dear nephews, for heroes to die before the enemy is glorious. According to their different fruitive activities, living entities come together within this material world and are again separated by the laws of nature. We should always know, however, that the spirit soul, which is different from the body, is eternal, unadjustable, pure, all-pervading and aware of everything. When bound by the material energy, the soul takes birth in higher or lower species of life according to varying association and in this way receives various types of bodies in which to suffer or enjoy. One’s affliction by the conditions of material existence is the cause of happiness and distress; there are no other causes, and one should not be aggrieved upon seeing the superficial actions of karma.
Hiraṇyakaśipu then related a historical incident concerning a King Suyajña who resided in the country named Uśīnara. When the King was killed, his queens, overwhelmed with grief, received instructions, which Hiraṇyakaśipu quoted to his nephews. Hiraṇyakaśipu related an account of a kuliṅga bird pierced by the arrow of a hunter while lamenting for his wife, who had also been shot by the same hunter. By narrating these stories, Hiraṇyakaśipu pacified his nephews and other relatives and relieved them of lamentation. Thus having been pacified, Diti and Ruṣābhānu, Hiraṇyakaśipu’s mother and sister-in-law, engaged their minds in spiritual understanding.
śrī-nārada uvāca
bhrātary evaṁ vinihate
hariṇā kroḍa-mūrtinā
hiraṇyakaśipū rājan
paryatapyad ruṣā śucā
śrī-nāradaḥ uvāca—Śrī Nārada Muni said; bhrātari—when the brother (Hiraṇyākṣa); evam—thus; vinihate—was killed; hariṇā—by Hari; kroḍa-mūrtinā—in the form of the boar, Varāha; hiraṇyakaśipuḥ—Hiraṇyakaśipu; rājan—O King; paryatapyat—was afflicted; ruṣā—by anger; śucā—by grief.
Śrī Nārada Muni said: My dear King Yudhiṣṭhira, when Lord Viṣṇu, in the form of Varāha, the boar, killed Hiraṇyākṣa, Hiraṇyākṣa’s brother Hiraṇyakaśipu was extremely angry and began to lament.
Yudhiṣṭhira had inquired from Nārada Muni why Hiraṇyakaśipu was so envious of his own son Prahlāda. Nārada Muni began narrating the story by explaining how Hiraṇyakaśipu had become a staunch enemy of Lord Viṣṇu.
āha cedaṁ ruṣā pūrṇaḥ
kopojjvaladbhyāṁ cakṣurbhyāṁ
nirīkṣan dhūmram ambaram
āha—said; ca—and; idam—this; ruṣā—with anger; pūrṇaḥ—full; sandaṣṭa—bitten; daśana-chadaḥ—whose lips; kopa-ujjvaladbhyām—blazing with anger; cakṣurbhyām—with eyes; nirīkṣan—looking over; dhūmram—smoky; ambaram—the sky.
Filled with rage and biting his lips, Hiraṇyakaśipu gazed at the sky with eyes that blazed in anger, making the whole sky smoky. Thus he began to speak.
As usual, the demon is envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and inimical toward Him. These were Hiraṇyakaśipu’s external bodily features as he considered how to kill Lord Viṣṇu and devastate His kingdom, Vaikuṇṭhaloka.
śūlam udyamya sadasi
dānavān idam abravīt
karāla-daṁṣṭra—with terrible teeth; ugra-dṛṣṭyā—and fierce glance; duṣprekṣya—horrible to see; bhru-kuṭī—with frowning eyebrows; mukhaḥ—whose face; śūlam—trident; udyamya—raising; sadasi—in the assembly; dānavān—to the demons; idam—this; abravīt—spoke.
Exhibiting his terrible teeth, fierce glance and frowning eyebrows, terrible to see, he took up his weapon, a trident, and thus began speaking to his associates, the assembled demons.
bho bho dānava-daiteyā
dvimūrdhaṁs tryakṣa śambara
śatabāho hayagrīva
namuce pāka ilvala
vipracitte mama vacaḥ
puloman śakunādayaḥ
śṛṇutānantaraṁ sarve
kriyatām āśu mā ciram
bhoḥ—O; bhoḥ—O; dānava-daiteyāḥ—Dānavas and Daityas; dvi-mūrdhanDvimūrdha (two-headed); tri-akṣaTryakṣa (three-eyed); śambara—Śambara; śata-bāho—Śatabāhu (hundred-armed); hayagrīvaHayagrīva (horse-headed); namuceNamuci; pākaPāka; ilvalaIlvala; vipracitte—Vipracitti; mama—my; vacaḥ—words; pulomanPuloma; śakuna—Śakuna; ādayaḥ—and others; śṛṇuta—just hear; anantaram—after that; sarve—all; kriyatām—let it be done; āśu—quickly; —do not; ciram—delay.
O Dānavas and Daityas! O Dvimūrdha, Tryakṣa, Śambara and Śatabāhu ! O Hayagrīva, Namuci, Pāka and Ilvala! O Vipracitti, Puloman, Śakuna and other demons! All of you, kindly hear me attentively and then act according to my words without delay.
sapatnair ghātitaḥ kṣudrair
bhrātā me dayitaḥ suhṛt
pārṣṇi-grāheṇa hariṇā
samenāpy upadhāvanaiḥ
sapatnaiḥ—by the enemies; ghātitaḥ—killed; kṣudraiḥ—insignificant in power; bhrātā—brother; me—my; dayitaḥ—very dear; suhṛt—well-wisher; pārṣṇi-grāheṇa—attacking from the rear; hariṇā—by the Supreme Personality of Godhead; samena—equal to everyone (both the demigods and demons); api—although; upadhāvanaiḥ—by the worshipers, the demigods.
My insignificant enemies the demigods have combined to kill my very dear and obedient well-wisher, my brother Hiraṇyākṣa. Although the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu, is always equal to both of us—namely, the demigods and the demons—this time, being devoutly worshiped by the demigods, He has taken their side and helped them kill Hiraṇyākṣa.
As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (9.29), samo ’haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu: the Lord is equal to all living entities. Since the demigods and demons are both living entities, how is it possible that the Lord was partial to one class of living beings and opposed to another? Actually it is not possible for the Lord to be partial. Nonetheless, since the demigods, the devotees, always strictly follow the Supreme Lord’s orders, because of sincerity they are victorious over the demons, who know that the Supreme Lord is Viṣṇu but do not follow His instructions. Because of constantly remembering the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu, the demons generally attain sāyujya-mukti after death. The demon Hiraṇyakaśipu accused the Lord of being partial because the demigods worshiped Him, but in fact the Lord, like the government, is not partial at all. The government is not partial to any citizen, but if a citizen is law-abiding he receives abundant opportunities from the state laws to live peacefully and fulfill his real interests.
tasya tyakta-svabhāvasya
ghṛṇer māyā-vanaukasaḥ
bhajantaṁ bhajamānasya
bhūriṇā rudhireṇa vai
asṛk-priyaṁ tarpayiṣye
bhrātaraṁ me gata-vyathaḥ
tasya—of Him (the Supreme Personality of Godhead); tyakta-svabhāvasya—who has given up His natural position (of being equal to everyone); ghṛṇeḥ—most abominable; māyā—under the influence of the illusory energy; vana-okasaḥ—behaving exactly like an animal in the jungle; bhajantam—unto the devotee engaged in devotional service; bhajamānasya—being worshiped; bālasya—a child; iva—like; asthira-ātmanaḥ—who is always restless and changing; mat—my; śūla—by the trident; bhinna—separated; grīvasya—whose neck; bhūriṇā—profuse; rudhireṇa—by blood; vai—indeed; asṛk-priyam—who was fond of blood; tarpayiṣye—I shall please; bhrātaram—brother; me—my; gata-vyathaḥ—becoming peaceful myself.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead has given up His natural tendency of equality toward the demons and demigods. Although He is the Supreme Person, now, influenced by māyā, He has assumed the form of a boar to please His devotees, the demigods, just as a restless child leans toward someone. I shall therefore sever Lord Viṣṇu’s head from His trunk by my trident, and with the profuse blood from His body I shall please my brother Hiraṇyākṣa, who was so fond of sucking blood. Thus shall I too be peaceful.
The defect of the demoniac mentality is expressed in this verse very clearly. Hiraṇyakaśipu thought that Viṣṇu also becomes partial, like a child whose mind is not steady or resolute. The Lord can change His mind at any time, Hiraṇyakaśipu thought, and therefore His words and activities are like those of children. Actually, because the demons are ordinary human beings, their minds change, and being materially conditioned, they think that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is conditioned also. As the Lord says in Bhagavad-gītā (9.11), avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritam: “Fools deride Me when I descend in a human form.”
Demons always think that Viṣṇu can be killed. Therefore, being absorbed in thoughts of Viṣṇu’s form to kill Him, at least they have the opportunity to think of Viṣṇu unfavorably. Although they are not devotees, their thinking of Viṣṇu is effective, and thus they generally attain sāyujya-mukti. Because the demons consider the Supreme Lord an ordinary living being, they think that they can kill Lord Viṣṇu as one might kill an ordinary person. Another fact disclosed herein is that demons are very much fond of sucking blood. Indeed, all of them are meat-eaters and bloodsuckers.
Hiraṇyakaśipu accused the Supreme Lord of having a restless mind like that of a small child who can be induced to do anything if simply offered some cakes and lāḍḍus. Indirectly, this indicates the true position of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who says in Bhagavad-gītā (9.26):
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.” The Lord accepts the offerings of devotees because of their transcendental love. Because they are in love with the Supreme Lord, they do not eat anything without offering it first to the Lord. The Lord does not hanker for a small leaf or flower; He has enough to eat. Indeed, He is feeding all living entities. Nonetheless, because He is very merciful and is bhakta-vatsala, very favorable to the devotees, He certainly eats whatever they offer Him with love and devotion. This quality should not be misjudged to be childish. The highest quality of the Supreme Lord is that He is bhakta-vatsala; in other words, He is always extremely pleased with His devotees. As for the word māyā, when used in reference to the dealings of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His devotees, this word means “affection.” The actions of the Lord to favor His devotees are not disqualifications but signs of His natural affection.
As for rudhira, or the blood of Lord Viṣṇu, since there is no possibility of severing Lord Viṣṇu’s head from His body, there is no question of blood. But the garland that decorates Viṣṇu’s body is as red as blood. When the demons achieve sāyujya-mukti and leave behind their sinful activities, they are blessed by Viṣṇu’s garland, which is red like blood. After attaining sāyujya-mukti, the demons are sometimes promoted to the Vaikuṇṭha world, where they receive the reward of the Lord’s garland prasāda.
tasmin kūṭe ’hite naṣṭe
kṛtta-mūle vanas-patau
viṭapā iva śuṣyanti
viṣṇu-prāṇā divaukasaḥ
tasmin—when He; kūṭe—the most deceitful; ahite—enemy; naṣṭe—is finished; kṛtta-mūle—having its roots cut off; vanas-patau—a tree; viṭapāḥ—the branches and leaves; iva—like; śuṣyanti—dry up; viṣṇu-prāṇāḥ—whose life is Lord Viṣṇu; diva-okasaḥ—the demigods.
When the root of a tree is cut and the tree falls down, its branches and twigs automatically dry up. Similarly, when I have killed this diplomatic Viṣṇu, the demigods, for whom Lord Viṣṇu is the life and soul, will lose the source of their life and wither away.
The difference between the demigods and the demons is here explained. The demigods always follow the instructions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whereas the demons simply plan to disturb or kill Him. Nevertheless, sometimes the demons very much appreciate the full dependence of the demigods upon the mercy of the Lord. This is indirect glorification of the demigods by the demons.
tāvad yāta bhuvaṁ yūyaṁ
sūdayadhvaṁ tapo-yajña-
tāvat—as long as (I am engaged in the matter of killing Viṣṇu); yāta—go; bhuvam—to the planet earth; yūyam—all of you; brahma-kṣatra—of the brāhmaṇas and kṣatriyas; samedhitām—made prosperous by the activities (brahminical culture and Vedic government); sūdayadhvam—just destroy; tapaḥ—the performers of austerities; yajña—sacrifices; svādhyāya—study of Vedic knowledge; vrata—the regulative vows; dāninaḥ—and those giving charity.
While I am engaged in the business of killing Lord Viṣṇu, go down to the planet earth, which is flourishing due to brahminical culture and a kṣatriya government. These people engage in austerity, sacrifice, Vedic study, regulative vows, and charity. Destroy all the people thus engaged!
Hiraṇyakaśipu’s main purpose was to disturb the demigods. He planned first to kill Lord Viṣṇu so that with Lord Viṣṇu’s death the demigods would automatically weaken and die. Another of his plans was to disturb the residents of the planet earth. The peace and prosperity of the residents of earth, and all the other planets, were maintained by the brāhmaṇas and kṣatriyas. The Lord says in Bhagavad-gītā (4.13), cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ: “According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me.” On all the planets there are different types of residents, but the Lord recommends, referring especially to the planet earth, which is inhabited by human beings, that society be divided into four varṇas—brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra. Before the advent of Lord Kṛṣṇa on this earth, it is understood that the earth was managed by the brāhmaṇas and kṣatriyas. The duty of the brāhmaṇas is to cultivate śamaḥ (peacefulness), damaḥ (self-control), titikṣā (tolerance), satyam (truthfulness), śaucam (cleanliness) and ārjavam (simplicity), and then to advise the kṣatriya kings how to rule the country or planet. Following the instructions of the brāhmaṇas, the kṣatriyas should engage the populace in austerity, sacrifices, Vedic study and adherence to the rules and regulations established by Vedic principles. They should also arrange for charity to be given to the brāhmaṇas, sannyāsīs and temples. This is the godly arrangement of brahminical culture.
People are inclined to offer yajña because unless sacrifices are offered there will be insufficient rain (yajñād bhavati parjanyaḥ [Bg. 3.14]), which will hamper agricultural activities (parjanyād anna-sambhavaḥ). By introducing brahminical culture, therefore, a kṣatriya government should engage people in performing yajña, studying the Vedas and giving charity. Thus the people will receive their necessities for life very easily, and there will be no disturbances in society. In this regard, Lord Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (3.12):
“In charge of the various necessities of life, the demigods, being satisfied by the performance of yajña [sacrifice], supply all necessities to man. But he who enjoys these gifts, without offering them to the demigods in return, is certainly a thief.”
The demigods are authorized supplying agents who act on behalf of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu. Therefore, they must be satisfied by the performance of prescribed yajñas. In the Vedas, there are different kinds of yajñas prescribed for different kinds of demigods, but all are ultimately offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. For one who cannot understand what the Personality of Godhead is, sacrifice to the demigods is recommended. According to the different material qualities of the persons concerned, different types of yajñas are recommended in the Vedas. Worship of different demigods is also on the same basis—namely, according to different qualities. For example, the meat-eaters are recommended to worship the goddess Kālī, the ghastly form of material nature, and before the goddess the sacrifice of animals is recommended. But for those in the mode of goodness, the transcendental worship of Viṣṇu is recommended. Ultimately, all yajñas are meant for gradual promotion to the transcendental position. For ordinary men, at least five yajñas, known as pañca-mahāyajña, are necessary.
One should know, however, that all the necessities of life that human society requires are supplied by the demigod agents of the Lord. No one can manufacture anything. Consider, for example, all the eatables of human society. These eatables include grains, fruits, vegetables, milk and sugar for persons in the mode of goodness, and also eatables for the nonvegetarians, such as meats, none of which can be manufactured by men. Then again, take for example, heat, light, water and air, which are also necessities of life—none of them can be manufactured by human society. Without the Supreme Lord, there can be no profuse sunlight, moonlight, rainfall or breeze, without which no one can live. Obviously, our life is dependent on supplies from the Lord. Even for our manufacturing enterprises, we require so many raw materials like metal, sulphur, mercury, manganese and so many essentials—all of which are supplied by the agents of the Lord, with the purpose that we should make proper use of them to keep ourselves fit and healthy for the purpose of self-realization, leading to the ultimate goal of life, namely, liberation from the material struggle for existence. This aim of life is attained by performance of yajñas. If we forget the purpose of human life and simply take supplies from the agents of the Lord for sense gratification and become more and more entangled in material existence, which is not the purpose of creation, certainly we become thieves, and therefore we are punished by the laws of material nature. A society of thieves can never be happy, for they have no aim in life. The gross materialist thieves have no ultimate goal of life. They are simply directed to sense gratification; nor do they have knowledge of how to perform yajñas. Lord Caitanya, however, inaugurated the easiest performance of yajña, namely the saṅkīrtana-yajña, which can be performed by anyone in the world who accepts the principles of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Hiraṇyakaśipu planned to kill the inhabitants of earth so that yajña would stop and the demigods, being disturbed, would die automatically when Lord Viṣṇu, the yajñeśvara, was killed. These were the demoniac plans of Hiraṇyakaśipu, who was expert in such activities.
viṣṇur dvija-kriyā-mūlo
yajño dharmamayaḥ pumān
dharmasya ca parāyaṇam
viṣṇuḥ—Lord Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead; dvija—of the brāhmaṇas and kṣatriyas; kriyā-mūlaḥ—whose root is the performance of yajña and the ritualistic ceremonies mentioned in the Vedas; yajñaḥ—personified yajña (Lord Viṣṇu, who is known as the yajña-puruṣa); dharma-mayaḥ—full of religious principles; pumān—the Supreme Person; deva-ṛṣi—of the demigods and great ṛṣis like Vyāsadeva and Nārada; pitṛ—of the forefathers; bhūtānām—and of all other living entities; dharmasya—of the religious principles; ca—also; parāyaṇam—the shelter.
The basic principle of brahminical culture is to satisfy Lord Viṣṇu, the personification of sacrificial and ritualistic ceremonies. Lord Viṣṇu is the personified reservoir of all religious principles, and He is the shelter of all the demigods, the great pitās, and the people in general. When the brāhmaṇas are killed, no one will exist to encourage the kṣatriyas to perform yajñas, and thus the demigods, not being appeased by yajña, will automatically die.
Since Viṣṇu is the central point of brahminical culture, Hiraṇyakaśipu’s plan was to kill Viṣṇu, for if Viṣṇu were killed, naturally the brahminical culture would also be lost. With brahminical culture lost, yajña would no longer be performed, and for want of yajña the regular distribution of rainfall would cease (yajñād bhavati parjanyaḥ [Bg. 3.14]). Thus there would be disturbances all over the world, and naturally the demigods would be defeated. From this verse we get a clear indication of how human society is disturbed when the Vedic Āryan civilization is killed and the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies performed by the brāhmaṇas are stopped. Kalau śūdra-sambhavaḥ: because the population of the modern world consists mostly of śūdras, the brahminical culture is now lost and is extremely difficult to reestablish in a proper way. Therefore Lord Caitanya has recommended the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, which will revive brahminical culture very easily.
harer nāma harer nāma
harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva
nāsty eva gatir anyathā
[Adi 17.21]
Because of the increment in demoniac population, people have lost brahminical culture. Nor is there a kṣatriya government. Instead, the government is a democracy in which any śūdra can be voted into taking up the governmental reigns and capture the power to rule. Because of the poisonous effects of Kali-yuga, the śāstra (Bhāg. 12.2.13) says, dasyu-prāyeṣu rājasu: the government will adopt the policies of dasyus, or plunderers. Thus there will be no instructions from the brāhmaṇas, and even if there are brahminical instructions, there will be no kṣatriya rulers who can follow them. Aside from Satya-yuga, even formerly, in the days when demons were flourishing, Hiraṇyakaśipu planned to destroy the brahminical culture and the kṣatriya government and thus create chaos all over the world. Although in Satya-yuga this plan was very difficult to execute, in Kali-yuga, which is full of śūdras and demons, the brahminical culture is lost and can be revived only by the chanting of the mahā-mantra. Therefore the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, or the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement, has been inaugurated to revive brahminical culture very easily so that people may become happy and peaceful in this life and prepare for elevation in the next. In this regard, Śrīla Madhvācārya quotes this verse from the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa:
vipra-yajñādi-mūlaṁ tu
harir ity āsuraṁ matam
harir eva hi sarvasya
mūlaṁ samyaṅ mato nṛpa
“O King, the demons think that Hari, Lord Viṣṇu, exists because of the brāhmaṇas and yajña, but factually Hari is the cause of everything including the brāhmaṇas and yajña.” Therefore, through the popularizing of hari-kīrtana, or the saṅkīrtana movement, the brahminical culture and kṣatriya government will automatically come back, and people will be extremely happy.
yatra yatra dvijā gāvo
vedā varṇāśrama-kriyāḥ
taṁ taṁ janapadaṁ yāta
sandīpayata vṛścata
yatra yatra—wherever; dvijāḥ—the brāhmaṇas; gāvaḥ—the protected cows; vedāḥ—the Vedic culture; varṇa-āśrama—of the Āryan civilization of four varṇas and four āśramas; kriyāḥ—the activities; tam tam—that; jana-padam—to the city or town; yāta—go; sandīpayata—set fire; vṛścata—cut down (all the trees).
Immediately go wherever there is good protection for the cows and brāhmaṇas and wherever the Vedas are studied in terms of the varṇāśrama principles. Set fire to those places and cut from the roots the trees there, which are the source of life.
The picture of a proper human civilization is indirectly described here. In a perfect human civilization there must be a class of men fully trained as perfect brāhmaṇas. Similarly, there must be kṣatriyas to rule the country very nicely according to the injunctions of the śāstras, and there must be vaiśyas who can protect the cows. The word gāvaḥ indicates that cows should be given protection. Because the Vedic civilization is lost, cows are not protected, but instead indiscriminately killed in slaughterhouses. Such are the acts of demons. Therefore this is a demoniac civilization. The varṇāśrama-dharma mentioned here is essential for human civilization. Unless there is a brāhmaṇa to guide, a kṣatriya to rule perfectly, and a perfect vaiśya to produce food and protect the cows, how will people live peacefully? It is impossible.
Another point is that trees also should be given protection. During its lifetime, a tree should not be cut for industrial enterprises. In Kali-yuga, trees are indiscriminately and unnecessarily cut for industry, in particular for paper mills that manufacture a profuse quantity of paper for the publication of demoniac propaganda, nonsensical literature, huge quantities of newspapers and many other paper products. This is a sign of a demoniac civilization. The cutting of trees is prohibited unless necessary for the service of Lord Viṣṇu. Yajñārthāt karmaṇo’nyatra loko’yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ: [Bg. 3.9]) “work done as a sacrifice for Lord Viṣṇu must be performed, otherwise work binds one to this material world.” But if the paper mills stop producing paper, one may argue, how can our ISKCON literature be published? The answer is that the paper mills should manufacture paper only for the publication of ISKCON literature because ISKCON literature is published for the service of Lord Viṣṇu. This literature clarifies our relationship with Lord Viṣṇu, and therefore the publication of ISKCON literature is the performance of yajña. Yajñārthāt karmaṇo ’nyatra loko ’yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ [Bg. 3.9]). Yajña must be performed, as indicated by the superior authorities. The cutting of trees simply to manufacture paper for the publication of unwanted literature is the greatest sinful act.
iti te bhartṛ-nirdeśam
ādāya śirasādṛtāḥ
tathā prajānāṁ kadanaṁ
vidadhuḥ kadana-priyāḥ
iti—thus; te—they; bhartṛ—of the master; nirdeśam—the direction; ādāya—receiving; śirasā—with their heads; ādṛtāḥ—respecting; tathā—so also; prajānām—of all the citizens; kadanam—persecution; vidadhuḥ—executed; kadana-priyāḥ—who are expert in persecuting others.
Thus the demons, being fond of disastrous activities, took Hiraṇyakaśipu’s instructions on their heads with great respect and offered him obeisances. According to his directions, they engaged in envious activities directed against all living beings.
The followers of demoniac principles, as described here, are thoroughly envious of the general populace. In the present day, scientific advancement exemplifies such envy. The discovery of nuclear energy has been disastrous to people in general because demons all over the world are manufacturing nuclear weapons. The word kadana-priyāḥ is very significant in this regard. The demoniac persons who want to kill the Vedic culture are extremely envious of the feeble citizens, and they act in such a way that ultimately their discoveries will be inauspicious for everyone (jagato ’hitāḥ). The Sixteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā fully explains how the demons engage in sinful activities for the destruction of the populace.
kheṭa-kharvaṭa-ghoṣāṁś ca
dadahuḥ pattanāni ca
pura—cities and towns; grāma—villages; vraja—pasturing grounds; udyāna—gardens; kṣetra—agricultural fields; ārāma—natural forests; āśrama—hermitages of saintly persons; ākarān—and mines (that produce valuable metals to maintain brahminical culture); kheṭa—farm villages; kharvaṭa—mountain villages; ghoṣān—the little villages of cowherds; ca—and; dadahuḥ—they burned; pattanāni—the capitals; ca—also.
The demons set fire to the cities, villages, pasturing grounds, cowpens, gardens, agricultural fields and natural forests. They burned the hermitages of the saintly persons, the important mines that produced valuable metals, the residential quarters of the agriculturalists, the mountain villages, and the villages of the cow protectors, the cowherd men. They also burned the government capitals.
The word udyāna refers to places where trees are especially grown to produce fruits and flowers, which are most important for human civilization. Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (9.26):
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.” Fruits and flowers are very much pleasing to the Lord. If one wants to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he can simply offer fruits and flowers, and the Lord will be pleased to accept them. Our only duty is to please the Supreme Godhead (saṁsiddhir hari-toṣaṇam [SB 1.2.13]). Whatever we do and whatever our occupation, our main purpose should be to please the Supreme Lord. All the paraphernalia mentioned in this verse is especially meant for the satisfaction of the Lord, not the satisfaction of one’s senses. The government—indeed, the entire society—should be structured in such a way that everyone can be trained to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But unfortunately, especially in this age, na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇum: [SB 7.5.31] people do not know that the highest goal of human life is to please Lord Viṣṇu. On the contrary, like demons, they simply plan to kill Viṣṇu and be happy by sense gratification.
kecit khanitrair bibhiduḥ
ājīvyāṁś cicchidur vṛkṣān
kecit paraśu-pāṇayaḥ
prādahañ śaraṇāny eke
prajānāṁ jvalitolmukaiḥ
kecit—some of the demons; khanitraiḥ—with digging instruments; bibhiduḥ—broke to pieces; setu—bridges; prākāra—protective walls; gopurān—city gates; ājīvyān—the source of livelihood; cicchiduḥ—cut down; vṛkṣān—trees; kecit—some; paraśu-pāṇayaḥ—taking axes in hand; prādahan—burned down; śaraṇāni—the dwellings; eke—other demons; prajānām—of the citizens; jvalita—blazing; ulmukaiḥ—with firebrands.
Some of the demons took digging instruments and broke down the bridges, the protective walls and the gates [gopuras] of the cities. Some took axes and began cutting the important trees that produced mango, jackfruit and other sources of food. Some of the demons took firebrands and set fire to the residential quarters of the citizens.
The cutting of trees is generally prohibited. In particular, trees that produce nice fruit for the maintenance of human society should not be cut. In different countries there are different types of fruit trees. In India the mango and jackfruit trees are prominent, and in other places there are mango trees, jackfruit trees, coconut trees and berry trees. Any tree that produces nice fruit for the maintenance of the people should not be cut at all. This is a śāstric injunction.
evaṁ viprakṛte loke
daityendrānucarair muhuḥ
divaṁ devāḥ parityajya
bhuvi cerur alakṣitāḥ
evam—thus; viprakṛte—being disturbed; loke—when all the people; daitya-indra-anucaraiḥ—by the followers of Hiraṇyakaśipu, the King of the Daityas; muhuḥ—again and again; divam—the heavenly planets; devāḥ—the demigods; parityajya—giving up; bhuvi—on the planet earth; ceruḥ—wandered (to see the extent of the disturbances); alakṣitāḥ—unseen by the demons.
Thus disturbed again and again by the unnatural occurrences caused by the followers of Hiraṇyakaśipu, all the people had to cease the activities of Vedic culture. Not receiving the results of yajña, the demigods also became disturbed. They left their residential quarters in the heavenly planets and, unobserved by the demons, began wandering on the planet earth to see the disasters.
As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, the performance of yajña brings reciprocal good fortune for both the human beings and the demigods. When the performances of yajña were stopped by the disturbances of the demons, the demigods were naturally bereft of the results of yajña and hampered in executing their respective duties. Therefore they came down to the planet earth to see how people had become disturbed and to consider what to do.
hiraṇyakaśipur bhrātuḥ
samparetasya duḥkhitaḥ
kṛtvā kaṭodakādīni
bhrātṛ-putrān asāntvayat
hiraṇyakaśipuḥ—Hiraṇyakaśipu; bhrātuḥ—of the brother; samparetasya—deceased; duḥkhitaḥ—being very much distressed; kṛtvā—performing; kaṭodaka-ādīni—ceremonies observed after a death; bhrātṛ-putrān—the sons of his brother; asāntvayat—pacified.
After performing the ritualistic observances for the death of his brother, Hiraṇyakaśipu, being extremely unhappy, tried to pacify his nephews.
TEXTS 18–19
śakuniṁ śambaraṁ dhṛṣṭiṁ
bhūtasantāpanaṁ vṛkam
kālanābhaṁ mahānābhaṁ
hariśmaśrum athotkacam
tan-mātaraṁ ruṣābhānuṁ
ditiṁ ca jananīṁ girā
ślakṣṇayā deśa-kāla-jña
idam āha janeśvara
śakunim—Śakuni; śambaram—Śambara; dhṛṣṭim—Dhṛṣṭi; bhūtasantāpanam—Bhūtasantāpana; vṛkamVṛka; kālanābham—Kālanābha; mahānābham—Mahānābha; hariśmaśrum—Hariśmaśru; atha—as well as; utkacamUtkaca; tat-mātaram—their mother; ruṣābhānum—Ruṣābhānu; ditimDiti; ca—and; jananīm—his own mother; girā—by words; ślakṣṇayā—very sweet; deśa-kāla-jñaḥ—who was expert in understanding the time and situation; idam—this; āha—said; jana-īśvara—O King.
O King, Hiraṇyakaśipu was extremely angry, but since he was a great politician, he knew how to act according to the time and situation. With sweet words he began pacifying his nephews, whose names were Śakuni, Śambara, Dhṛṣṭi, Bhūtasantāpana, Vṛka, Kālanābha, Mahānābha, Hariśmaśru and Utkaca. He also consoled their mother, his sister-in-law, Ruṣābhānu, as well as his own mother, Diti. He spoke to them all as follows.
śrī-hiraṇyakaśipur uvāca
ambāmba he vadhūḥ putrā
vīraṁ mārhatha śocitum
ripor abhimukhe ślāghyaḥ
śūrāṇāṁ vadha īpsitaḥ
śrī-hiraṇyakaśipuḥ uvāca—Hiraṇyakaśipu said; amba amba—my mother, my mother; he—O; vadhūḥ—my sister-in-law; putrāḥ—O sons of my brother; vīram—the hero; —not; arhatha—you deserve; śocitum—to lament about; ripoḥ—of the enemy; abhimukhe—in front; ślāghyaḥ—glorious; śūrāṇām—of those who are actually great; vadhaḥ—killing; īpsitaḥ—desired.
Hiraṇyakaśipu said: My dear mother, sister-in-law and nephews, you should not lament for the death of the great hero, for a hero’s death in front of his enemy is glorious and desirable.
bhūtānām iha saṁvāsaḥ
prapāyām iva suvrate
daivenaikatra nītānām
unnītānāṁ sva-karmabhiḥ
bhūtānām—of all living entities; iha—in this material world; saṁvāsaḥ—the living together; prapāyām—in a place for drinking cold water; iva—like; su-vrate—O my gentle mother; daivena—by the superior arrangement; ekatra—in one place; nītānām—of those brought; unnītānām—of those led apart; sva-karmabhiḥ—by their own reactions.
My dear mother, in a restaurant or place for drinking cold water, many travelers are brought together, and after drinking water they continue to their respective destinations. Similarly, living entities join together in a family, and later, as a result of their own actions, they are led apart to their destinations.
“The bewildered soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Bg. 3.27) All living entities act exactly according to the directions of prakṛti, material nature, because in the material world we are fully under a higher control. All the living entities in this material world have come here only because they wanted to be equal to Kṛṣṇa in enjoyment and have thus been sent here to be conditioned by material nature in different degrees. In the material world a so-called family is a combination of several persons in one home to fulfill the terms of their imprisonment. As criminal prisoners scatter as soon as their terms are over and they are released, all of us who have temporarily assembled as family members will continue to our respective destinations. Another example given is that family members are like straws carried together by the waves of a river. Sometimes such straws mix together in whirlpools, and later, dispersed again by the same waves, they float alone in the water.
Although Hiraṇyakaśipu was a demon, he had Vedic knowledge and understanding. Thus the advice given to his family members—his sister-in-law, mother and nephews—was quite sound. The demons are considered highly elevated in knowledge, but because they do not use their good intelligence for the service of the Lord, they are called demons. The demigods, however, act very intelligently to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.13) as follows:
“O best among the twice-born, it is therefore concluded that the highest perfection one can achieve, by discharging his prescribed duties [dharma] according to caste divisions and orders of life, is to please the Lord Hari.” To become a demigod or to become godly, whatever one’s occupation, one must satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
nitya ātmāvyayaḥ śuddhaḥ
sarvagaḥ sarva-vit paraḥ
dhatte ’sāv ātmano liṅgaṁ
māyayā visṛjan guṇān
nityaḥ—eternal; ātmā—spirit soul; avyayaḥ—inexhaustible; śuddhaḥ—with no material tinge; sarva-gaḥ—qualified to go anywhere in the material or spiritual worlds; sarva-vit—full of knowledge; paraḥ—transcendental to material conditions; dhatte—accepts; asau—that ātmā, or living being; ātmanaḥ—of the self; liṅgam—a body; māyayā—by the material energy; visṛjan—creating; guṇān—various material qualities.
The spirit soul, the living entity, has no death, for he is eternal and inexhaustible. Being free from material contamination, he can go anywhere in the material or spiritual worlds. He is fully aware and completely different from the material body, but because of being misled by misuse of his slight independence, he is obliged to accept subtle and gross bodies created by the material energy and thus be subjected to so-called material happiness and distress. Therefore, no one should lament for the passing of the spirit soul from the body.
Hiraṇyakaśipu very intelligently described the position of the soul. The soul is never the body, but is always completely different from the body. Being eternal and inexhaustible, the soul has no death, but when the same pure soul desires to enjoy the material world independently, he is placed under the conditions of material nature and must therefore accept a certain type of body and suffer the pains and pleasures thereof. This is also described by Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad-gītā (13.22). Kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo ’sya sad-asad-yoni janmasu: the living entity is born in different families or species of life because of being infected by the modes of material nature. When conditioned by material nature, the living entity must accept a certain type of body, which is offered by nature under the direction of the Supreme Lord.
“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.” (Bg. 18.61) The body is just like a machine, and according to the living entity’s karma, he is offered a particular type of machine to move here and there under the control of material nature. This continues until he surrenders to the Supreme Personality of Godhead (mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te [Bg. 7.14]). Until he surrenders, the conditioned soul is carried from life to life by the arrangement of material nature.
yathāmbhasā pracalatā
taravo ’pi calā iva
cakṣuṣā bhrāmyamāṇena
dṛśyate calatīva bhūḥ
yathā—just as; ambhasā—by water; pracalatā—moving; taravaḥ—the trees (on the bank of the river); api—also; calāḥ—moving; iva—as if; cakṣuṣā—by the eye; bhrāmyamāṇena—moving; dṛśyate—is seen; calatī—moving; iva—as if; bhūḥ—the ground.
Because of the movements of the water, the trees on the bank of a river, when reflected on the water, seem to move. Similarly, when the eyes move because of some mental derangement, the land appears to move also.
Sometimes, because of mental derangement, the land appears to be moving. A drunkard, for example, or a person with heart disease, sometimes feels that the land is moving. Similarly, the reflections of trees in a flowing river also appear to move. These are the actions of māyā. Actually the living entity does not move (sthāṇur acalo ’yam). The living entity does not take birth or accept death, but because of the transient subtle and gross bodies, the living entity appears to move from one place to another or be dead and gone forever. As the great Bengali Vaiṣṇava poet, Jagadānanda Paṇḍita, has said:
According to this statement from the Prema-vivarta, when a living entity is conditioned by material nature, he is exactly like a person haunted by a ghost. One should therefore understand the fixed position of the spirit soul and how he is carried away by the waves of material nature to different bodies and different situations under lamentation and hankering. One achieves the success of life when he understands the constitutional position of his self and is undisturbed by the conditions created by material nature (prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ [Bg. 3.27]).
evaṁ guṇair bhrāmyamāṇe
manasy avikalaḥ pumān
yāti tat-sāmyatāṁ bhadre
hy aliṅgo liṅgavān iva
evam—in this way; guṇaiḥ—by the modes of material nature; bhrāmyamāṇe—when shaken; manasi—the mind; avikalaḥ—changeless; pumān—the living entity; yāti—approaches; tat-sāmyatām—the same condition of agitation as the mind; bhadre—O my gentle mother; hi—indeed; aliṅgaḥ—without a subtle or gross body; liṅga-vān—possessing a material body; iva—as if.
In the same way, O my gentle mother, when the mind is agitated by the movements of the modes of material nature, the living entity, although freed from all the different phases of the subtle and gross bodies, thinks that he has changed from one condition to another.
As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.84.13):
yasyātma-buddhiḥ kuṇape tri-dhātuke
sva-dhīḥ kalatrādiṣu bhauma-ijya-dhīḥ
yat-tīrtha-buddhiḥ salile na karhicij
janeṣv abhijñeṣu sa eva go-kharaḥ
“A human being who identifies the body made of three elements as the self, who considers the by-products of the body to be his kinsmen, who considers the land of his birth worshipable, and who goes to a place of pilgrimage simply to bathe rather than to meet men of transcendental knowledge there, is to be considered like a cow or an ass.” Although Hiraṇyakaśipu was a great demon, he was not as foolish as the population of the modern world. Hiraṇyakaśipu had clear knowledge of the spirit soul and the subtle and gross bodies, but now we are so degraded that everyone, including the exalted scientists, philosophers and other leaders, is under the bodily conception of life, which is condemned in the śāstras. Sa eva go-kharaḥ: [SB 10.84.13] such persons are nothing but cows and asses.
Hiraṇyakaśipu advised his family members that although the gross body of his brother Hiraṇyākṣa was dead and they were aggrieved because of this, they should not lament for the great soul of Hiraṇyākṣa, who had already attained his next destination. Ātmā, the spirit soul, is always unchanged (avikalaḥ pumān). We are spirit souls, but when carried away by mental activities (manodharma), we suffer from so-called material conditions of life. This generally happens to nondevotees. Harāv abhaktasya kuto mahad-guṇāḥ: nondevotees may possess exalted material qualities, but because they are foolish they have no good qualifications. The designations of the conditioned soul in the material world are decorations of the dead body. The conditioned soul has no information of the spirit and its exalted existence beyond the effects of the material condition.
TEXTS 25–26
eṣa ātma-viparyāso
hy aliṅge liṅga-bhāvanā
eṣa priyāpriyair yogo
viyogaḥ karma-saṁsṛtiḥ
sambhavaś ca vināśaś ca
śokaś ca vividhaḥ smṛtaḥ
avivekaś ca cintā ca
vivekāsmṛtir eva ca
eṣaḥ—this; ātma-viparyāsaḥ—bewilderment of the living being; hi—indeed; aliṅge—in that which does not possess a material body; liṅga-bhāvanā—accepting the material body to be the self; eṣaḥ—this; priya—with those who are very dear; apriyaiḥ—and with those who are not dear (enemies, those not in the family, etc.); yogaḥ—connection; viyogaḥ—separation; karma—the fruits of action; saṁsṛtiḥ—the material condition of life; sambhavaḥ—accepting birth; ca—and; vināśaḥ—accepting death; ca—and; śokaḥ—lamentation; ca—and; vividhaḥ—varieties; smṛtaḥ—mentioned in scripture; avivekaḥ—lack of discrimination; ca—and; cintā—anxiety; ca—also; viveka—of proper discrimination; asmṛtiḥ—forgetfulness; eva—indeed; ca—also.
In his bewildered state, the living entity, accepting the body and mind to be the self, considers some people to be his kinsmen and others to be outsiders. Because of this misconception, he suffers. Indeed, the accumulation of such concocted material ideas is the cause of suffering and so-called happiness in the material world. The conditioned soul thus situated must take birth in different species and work in various types of consciousness, thus creating new bodies. This continued material life is called saṁsāra. Birth, death, lamentation, foolishness and anxiety are due to such material considerations. Thus we sometimes come to a proper understanding and sometimes fall again to a wrong conception of life.
atrāpy udāharantīmam
itihāsaṁ purātanam
yamasya preta-bandhūnāṁ
saṁvādaṁ taṁ nibodhata
atra—in this connection; api—indeed; udāharanti—they cite; imam—this; itihāsam—history; purātanam—very old; yamasya—of Yamarāja, the superintendent of death, who gives judgment after death; preta-bandhūnām—of the friends of a dead man; saṁvādam—discussion; tam—that; nibodhata—try to understand.
In this regard, an example is given from an old history. This involves a discourse between Yamarāja and the friends of a dead person. Please hear it attentively.
The words itihāsaṁ purātanam mean “an old history.” The Purāṇas are not chronologically recorded, but the incidents mentioned in the Purāṇas are actual histories of bygone ages. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the Mahā-Purāṇa, the essence of all the Purāṇas. The Māyāvādī scholars do not accept the Purāṇas, but Śrīla Madhvācārya and all other authorities accept them as the authoritative histories of the world.
uśīnareṣv abhūd rājā
suyajña iti viśrutaḥ
sapatnair nihato yuddhe
jñātayas tam upāsata
uśīnareṣu—in the state known as Uśīnara; abhūt—there was; rājā—a king; suyajñaḥ—Suyajña; iti—thus; viśrutaḥ—celebrated; sapatnaiḥ—by enemies; nihataḥ—killed; yuddhe—in war; jñātayaḥ—the kinsmen; tam—him; upāsatasat around.
In the state known as Uśīnara there was a celebrated King named Suyajña. When the King was killed in battle by his enemies, his kinsmen sat down around the dead body and began to lament the death of their friend.
TEXTS 29–31
śayānam asṛg-āvilam
prakīrṇa-keśaṁ dhvastākṣaṁ
rabhasā daṣṭa-dacchadam
chinnāyudha-bhujaṁ mṛdhe
uśīnarendraṁ vidhinā tathā kṛtaṁ
patiṁ mahiṣyaḥ prasamīkṣya duḥkhitāḥ
hatāḥ sma nātheti karair uro bhṛśaṁ
ghnantyo muhus tat-padayor upāpatan
viśīrṇa—scattered here and there; ratna—made of jewels; kavacam—protective armor; vibhraṣṭa—fallen off; ābharaṇa—ornaments; srajam—garlands; śara-nirbhinna—pierced by arrows; hṛdayam—the heart; śayānam—lying down; asṛk-āvilam—smeared with blood; prakīrṇa-keśam—his hair loosened and scattered; dhvasta-akṣam—his eyes obscured; rabhasā—with anger; daṣṭa—bitten; dacchadam—his lips; rajaḥ-kuṇṭha—covered with dust; mukha-ambhojam—his face, which had formerly resembled a lotus flower; chinna—cut off; āyudha-bhujam—his arms and weapons; mṛdhe—on the battlefield; uśīnara-indram—the master of the state of Uśīnara; vidhinā—by providence; tathā—thus; kṛtam—forced into this position; patim—the husband; mahiṣyaḥ—the queens; prasamīkṣya—seeing; duḥkhitāḥ—very much aggrieved; hatāḥ—killed; sma—certainly; nātha—O husband; iti—thus; karaiḥ—with the hands; uraḥ—the breast; bhṛśam—constantly; ghnantyaḥ—pounding; muhuḥ—again and again; tat-padayoḥ—at the feet of the King; upāpatan—fell down.
His golden, bejeweled armor smashed, his ornaments and garlands fallen from their places, his hair scattered and his eyes lusterless, the slain King lay on the battlefield, his entire body smeared with blood, his heart pierced by the arrows of the enemy. When he died he had wanted to show his prowess, and thus he had bitten his lips, and his teeth remained in that position. His beautiful lotuslike face was now black and covered with dust from the battlefield. His arms, with his sword and other weapons, were cut and broken. When the queens of the King of Uśīnara saw their husband lying in that position, they began crying, “O lord, now that you have been killed, we also have been killed.” Repeating these words again and again, they fell down, pounding their breasts, at the feet of the dead King.
As stated here, rabhasā daṣṭa-dacchadam: the dead King, while fighting in anger, bit his lips to show his prowess, but nonetheless he was killed by providence (vidhinā). This proves that we are controlled by higher authorities; our personal power or endeavor is not always supreme. We must therefore accept the position offered to us by the order of the Supreme.
rudatya uccair dayitāṅghri-paṅkajaṁ
siñcantya asraiḥ kuca-kuṅkumāruṇaiḥ
visrasta-keśābharaṇāḥ śucaṁ nṛṇāṁ
sṛjantya ākrandanayā vilepire
rudatyaḥ—crying; uccaiḥ—very loudly; dayita—of their beloved husband; aṅghri-paṅkajam—the lotus feet; siñcantyaḥ—moistening; asraiḥ—with tears; kuca-kuṅkuma-aruṇaiḥ—which were red from the kuṅkuma covering their breasts; visrasta—scattered; keśa—hair; ābharaṇāḥ—and ornaments; śucam—grief; nṛṇām—of the people in general; sṛjantyaḥ—creating; ākrandanayā—by crying very pitiably; vilepire—began to lament.
As the queens loudly cried, their tears glided down their breasts, becoming reddened by kuṅkuma powder, and fell upon the lotus feet of their husband. Their hair became disarrayed, their ornaments fell, and in a way that evoked sympathy from the hearts of others, the queens began lamenting their husband’s death.
aho vidhātrākaruṇena naḥ prabho
bhavān praṇīto dṛg-agocarāṁ daśām
uśīnarāṇām asi vṛttidaḥ purā
kṛto ’dhunā yena śucāṁ vivardhanaḥ
aho—alas; vidhātrā—by providence; akaruṇena—who is merciless; naḥ—our; prabho—O lord; bhavān—Your Lordship; praṇītaḥ—taken away; dṛk—of sight; agocarām—beyond the range; daśām—to a state; uśīnarāṇām—to the inhabitants of the state of Uśīnara; asi—you were; vṛtti-daḥ—giving livelihood; purā—formerly; kṛtaḥ—finished; adhunā—now; yena—by whom; śucām—of lamentation; vivardhanaḥ—increasing.
O lord, you have now been removed by cruel providence to a state beyond our sight. You had previously sustained the livelihood of the inhabitants of Uśīnara, and thus they were happy, but your condition now is the cause of their unhappiness.
tvayā kṛtajñena vayaṁ mahī-pate
kathaṁ vinā syāma suhṛttamena te
tatrānuyānaṁ tava vīra pādayoḥ
śuśrūṣatīnāṁ diśa yatra yāsyasi
tvayā—you; kṛtajñena—a most grateful personality; vayam—we; mahī-pate—O King; katham—how; vinā—without; syāma—shall exist; suhṛt-tamena—the best of our friends; te—of you; tatra—there; anuyānam—the following; tava—of you; vīra—O hero; pādayoḥ—of the lotus feet; śuśrūṣatīnām—of those engaging in the service; diśa—please order; yatra—where; yāsyasi—you will go.
O King, O hero, you were a very grateful husband and the most sincere friend of all of us. How shall we exist without you? O hero, wherever you are going, please direct us there so that we may follow in your footsteps and engage again in your service. Let us go along with you!
Formerly, a kṣatriya king was generally the husband of many wives, and after the death of the king, especially in the battlefield, all the queens would agree to accept saha-māraṇa, dying with the husband who was their life. When Pāṇḍu Mahārāja, the father of the Pāṇḍavas, died, his two wives—namely, the mother of Yudhiṣṭhira, Bhīma and Arjuna and the mother of Nakula and Sahadeva—were both ready to die in the fire with their husband. Later, after a compromise was arranged, Kuntī stayed alive to care for the little children, and the other wife, Mādrī, was allowed to die with her husband. This system of saha-māraṇa continued in India even until the time of British rule, but later it was discouraged, since the attitude of wives gradually changed with the advancement of Kali-yuga. Thus the system of saha-māraṇa has practically been abolished. Nevertheless, within the past fifty years I have seen the wife of a medical practitioner voluntarily accept death immediately when her husband died. Both the husband and wife were taken in procession in the mourning cart. Such intense love of a chaste wife for her husband is a special case.
evaṁ vilapatīnāṁ vai
parigṛhya mṛtaṁ patim
anicchatīnāṁ nirhāram
arko ’staṁ sannyavartata
evam—thus; vilapatīnām—of the lamenting queens; vai—indeed; parigṛhya—taking on their laps; mṛtam—the dead; patim—husband; anicchatīnām—not desiring; nirhāram—the carrying out of the body for the funeral ceremony; arkaḥ—the sun; astam—the setting position; sannyavartata—passed away.
The time was appropriate for the body to be burned, but the queens, not allowing it to be taken away, continued lamenting for the dead body, which they kept on their laps. In the meantime, the sun completed its movements for setting in the west.
According to the Vedic system, if a person dies during the daytime it is customary for his funeral ceremony to be performed before the sun sets, regardless of whether he is burned or buried, and if he dies at night the funeral must be completed before the next sunrise. Apparently the queens continued lamenting for the dead body, the lump of matter, and would not allow it to be taken away for burning. This illustrates the strong grip of illusion among foolish persons who consider the body the self. Women are generally considered less intelligent. Because of ignorance only, the queens thought of the dead body as their husband and somehow or other thought that if the body were kept their husband would remain with them. Such a conception of the self is certainly for go-khara—cows and asses. We have actually seen that sometimes when a cow’s calf has died the milkman cheats the cow by presenting before her the dead body of her calf. Thus the cow, who would not otherwise allow milking, licks the dead body of the calf and allows herself to be milked. This substantiates the description of the śāstra that a foolish man in the bodily concept of life is like a cow. Not only do foolish men and women consider the body the self, but we have even seen that the dead body of a so-called yogī was kept for days by his disciples, who thought that their guru was in samādhi. When decomposition began and a bad smell unfortunately began to overwhelm the yogic power, the disciples allowed the dead body of the so-called yogī to be burned. Thus the bodily concept of life is extremely strong among foolish persons, who are compared to cows and asses. Nowadays, great scientists are trying to freeze dead bodies so that in the future these frozen bodies may again be brought to life. The incident narrated by Hiraṇyakaśipu from history must have taken place millions of years ago because Hiraṇyakaśipu lived millions of years ago and was even then quoting from history. Thus the incident occurred before Hiraṇyakaśipu’s lifetime, but the same ignorance in the bodily concept of life is still prevalent, not only among laymen but even among scientists who think they will be able to revive frozen corpses.
Apparently the queens did not want to deliver the dead body for burning because they were afraid of dying with the dead body of their husband.
tatra ha preta-bandhūnām
āśrutya paridevitam
āha tān bālako bhūtvā
yamaḥ svayam upāgataḥ
tatra—there; ha—certainly; preta-bandhūnām—of the friends and relatives of the dead King; āśrutya—hearing; paridevitam—the loud lamentation (so loud that it could be heard from the planet of Yamarāja); āha—said; tān—unto them (the lamenting queens); bālakaḥ—a boy; bhūtvā—becoming; yamaḥ—Yamarāja, the superintendent of death; svayam—personally; upāgataḥ—after coming.
While the queens were lamenting for the dead body of the King, their loud cries were heard even from the abode of Yamarāja. Assuming the body of a boy, Yamarāja personally approached the relatives of the dead body and advised them as follows.
Sometimes the living entity is forced to give up his body and enter another one according to the judgment of Yamarāja. It is difficult, however, for the conditioned soul to enter another body unless the present dead body is annihilated through cremation or some other means. The living being has attachment for the present body and does not want to enter another, and thus in the interim he remains a ghost. If a living being who has already left his body has been pious, Yamarāja, just to give him relief, will give him another body. Since the living being in the body of the King had some attachment to his body, he was hovering as a ghost, and therefore Yamarāja, as a special consideration, approached the lamenting relatives to instruct them personally. Yamarāja approached them as a child because a child is not restricted but is granted admittance anywhere, even to the palace of a king. Besides this, the child was speaking philosophy. People are very much interested in hearing philosophy when it is spoken by a child.
śrī-yama uvāca
aho amīṣāṁ vayasādhikānāṁ
vipaśyatāṁ loka-vidhiṁ vimohaḥ
yatrāgatas tatra gataṁ manuṣyaṁ
svayaṁ sadharmā api śocanty apārtham
śrī-yamaḥ uvāca—Śrī Yamarāja said; aho—alas; amīṣām—of these; vayasā—by age; adhikānām—of those advanced; vipaśyatām—seeing every day; loka-vidhim—the law of nature (that everyone dies); vimohaḥ—the bewilderment; yatra—from where; āgataḥ—came; tatra—there; gatam—returned; manuṣyam—the man; svayam—themselves; sa-dharmāḥ—similar in nature (prone to die); api—although; śocanti—they lament; apārtham—uselessly.
Śrī Yamarāja said: Alas, how amazing it is! These persons, who are older than me, have full experience that hundreds and thousands of living entities have taken birth and died. Thus they should understand that they also are apt to die, yet still they are bewildered. The conditioned soul comes from an unknown place and returns after death to that same unknown place. There is no exception to this rule, which is conducted by material nature. Knowing this, why do they uselessly lament?
The Lord says in Bhagavad-gītā (2.28):
“All created beings are unmanifest in their beginning, manifest in their interim state, and unmanifest again when they are annihilated. So what need is there for lamentation?”
Accepting that there are two classes of philosophers, one believing in the existence of the soul and the other not believing in its existence, there is no cause for lamentation in either case. Nonbelievers in the existence of the soul are called atheists by followers of Vedic wisdom. Yet even if for argument’s sake we accept the atheistic theory, there is still no cause for lamentation. Apart from the separate existence of the soul, the material elements remain unmanifested before creation. From this subtle state of unmanifestation comes manifestation, just as from ether, air is generated; from air, fire is generated; from fire, water is generated; and from water, earth becomes manifested. From the earth, many varieties of manifestations take place. For example, a big skyscraper is manifested from the earth. When it is dismantled, the manifestation becomes again unmanifested and remains as atoms in the ultimate stage. The law of conservation of energy remains, but in the course of time things are manifested and unmanifested—that is the difference. Then what cause is there for lamentation, in either manifestation or unmanifestation? Somehow or other, even in the unmanifested stage, things are not lost. Both at the beginning and at the end, all elements remain unmanifested, and this does not make any real material difference.
If we accept the Vedic conclusion as stated in the Bhagavad-gītā (antavanta ime dehāḥ) that these material bodies are perishable in due course of time (nityasyoktāḥ śarīriṇaḥ) but that the soul is eternal, then we must remember always that the body is like a dress; therefore why lament the changing of a dress? The material body has no factual existence in relation to the eternal soul. It is something like a dream. In a dream we may think of flying in the sky or sitting on a chariot as a king, but when we wake up we can see that we are neither in the sky nor seated on the chariot. The Vedic wisdom encourages self-realization on the basis of the nonexistence of the material body. Therefore, in either case, whether one believes in the existence of the soul or one does not believe in the existence of the soul, there is no cause for lamentation for loss of the body.
In the Mahābhārata it is said, adarśanād ihāyātaḥ punaś cādarśanaṁ gataḥ. This statement could support the theory of the atheistic scientist that the child in the womb of the mother has no life but is simply a lump of matter. To follow this theory, if the lump of matter is aborted by a surgical operation, no life is killed; the body of a child is like a tumor, and if a tumor is operated upon and thrown away, no sin is involved. The same argument could be put forward in regard to the King and his queens. The body of the King was manifested from an unmanifested source, and again it became unmanifested from manifestation. Since the manifestation exists only in the middle—between the two points of unmanifestation—why should one cry for the body manifested in the interim?
aho vayaṁ dhanyatamā yad atra
tyaktāḥ pitṛbhyāṁ na vicintayāmaḥ
abhakṣyamāṇā abalā vṛkādibhiḥ
sa rakṣitā rakṣati yo hi garbhe
aho—alas; vayam—we; dhanya-tamāḥ—most fortunate; yat—because; atra—at the present moment; tyaktāḥ—left alone, without protection; pitṛbhyām—by both father and mother; na—not; vicintayāmaḥ—worry; abhakṣyamāṇāḥ—not being eaten; abalāḥ—very weak; vṛka-ādibhiḥ—by tigers and other ferocious animals; saḥ—He (the Supreme Personality of Godhead); rakṣitā—will protect; rakṣati—has protected; yaḥ—who; hi—indeed; garbhe—within the womb.
It is wonderful that these elderly women do not have a higher sense of life than we do. Indeed, we are most fortunate, for although we are children and have been left to struggle in material life, unprotected by father and mother, and although we are very weak, we have not been vanquished or eaten by ferocious animals. Thus we have a firm belief that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has given us protection even in the womb of the mother, will protect us everywhere.
As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (18.61), īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe ’rjuna tiṣṭhati: the Lord is present in the core of everyone’s heart. Thus the Lord gives protection to everyone and gives the different types of bodies the living entity wants to enjoy. Everything is done by the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore one should not lament the birth and death of a living being, which have been arranged by the Supreme Lord. Lord Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (15.15), sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca: “I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness.” One must act according to the direction of the Lord within the heart, but because the conditioned soul wants to act independently, the Lord gives him the facility to act and experience the reactions. The Lord says, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: [Bg. 18.66] “Give up all other duties and simply surrender unto Me.” One who does not abide by the orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is given the facility to enjoy this material world. Instead of restricting him, the Lord gives the conditioned soul the opportunity to enjoy so that by mature experience, after many, many births (bahūnāṁ janmanām ante [Bg. 7.19]), he will understand that surrender to the lotus feet of Vāsudeva is the only duty of all living beings.
ya icchayeśaḥ sṛjatīdam avyayo
ya eva rakṣaty avalumpate ca yaḥ
tasyābalāḥ krīḍanam āhur īśituś
carācaraṁ nigraha-saṅgrahe prabhuḥ
yaḥ—who; icchayā—by His will (without being forced by anyone); īśaḥ—the supreme controller; sṛjati—creates; idam—this (material world); avyayaḥ—remaining as He is (not having lost His own existence because of having created so many material manifestations); yaḥ—who; eva—indeed; rakṣati—maintains; avalumpate—annihilates; ca—also; yaḥ—who; tasya—of Him; abalāḥ—O poor women; krīḍanam—the playing; āhuḥ—they say; īśituḥ—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; cara-acaram—moving and not moving; nigraha—in destruction; saṅgrahe—or in protection; prabhuḥ—fully able.
The boy addressed the women: O weak women! Only by the will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is never diminished, is the entire world created, maintained and again annihilated. This is the verdict of the Vedic knowledge. This material creation, consisting of the moving and nonmoving, is exactly like His plaything. Being the Supreme Lord, He is completely competent to destroy and protect.
In this regard the queens might argue, “If our husband was protected by the Supreme Personality of Godhead when in the womb, why has he not been given protection now?” To this question the answer is, ya icchayeśaḥ sṛjatīdam avyayo ya eva rakṣaty avalumpate ca yaḥ. One cannot argue with the activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Lord is always free, and therefore He can protect and can also annihilate. He is not our order carrier; whatever He likes He will do. Therefore He is the Supreme Lord. The Lord does not create this material world at anyone’s request, and therefore He can annihilate everything merely by His will. That is His supremacy. If one argues, “Why does He act in this way?” the answer is that He can do so because He is supreme. No one can question His activities. If one argues, “What is the purpose of this sinful creation and annihilation?” the answer is that to prove His omnipotence He can do anything, and no one can question Him. If He were answerable to us concerning why He does something and why He does not, His supremacy would be curtailed.
pathi cyutaṁ tiṣṭhati diṣṭa-rakṣitaṁ
gṛhe sthitaṁ tad-vihataṁ vinaśyati
jīvaty anātho ’pi tad-īkṣito vane
gṛhe ’bhigupto ’sya hato na jīvati
pathi—on the public road; cyutam—some possession dropped; tiṣṭhati—it remains; diṣṭa-rakṣitam—protected by destiny; gṛhe—at home; sthitam—although situated; tat-vihatam—struck by the will of the Supreme; vinaśyati—it is lost; jīvati—remains alive; anāthaḥ api—although without a protector; tat-īkṣitaḥ—being protected by the Lord; vane—in the forest; gṛhe—at home; abhiguptaḥ—well hidden and protected; asya—of this one; hataḥ—struck; na—not; jīvati—lives.
Sometimes one loses his money on a public street, where everyone can see it, and yet his money is protected by destiny and not seen by others. Thus the man who lost it gets it back. On the other hand, if the Lord does not give protection, even money maintained very securely at home is lost. If the Supreme Lord gives one protection, even though one has no protector and is in the jungle, one remains alive, whereas a person well protected at home by relatives and others sometimes dies, no one being able to protect him.
These are examples of the supremacy of the Lord. Our plans to protect or annihilate do not act, but whatever He thinks of doing actually happens. The examples given in this regard are practical. Everyone has had such practical experiences, and there are also many other clear examples. For instance, Prahlāda Mahārāja said that a child is certainly dependent on his father and mother, but in spite of their presence, the child is harassed in many ways. Sometimes, in spite of a supply of good medicine and an experienced physician, a patient does not survive. Therefore, since everything is dependent on the free will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, our only duty is to surrender unto Him and seek His protection.
bhūtāni tais tair nija-yoni-karmabhir
bhavanti kāle na bhavanti sarvaśaḥ
na tatra hātmā prakṛtāv api sthitas
tasyā guṇair anyatamo hi badhyate
bhūtāni—all the bodies of the living entities; taiḥ taiḥ—their own respective; nija-yoni—causing their own bodies; karmabhiḥ—by past activities; bhavanti—appear; kāle—in due course of time; na bhavanti—disappear; sarvaśaḥ—in all respects; na—not; tatra—there; ha—indeed; ātmā—the soul; prakṛtau—within this material world; api—although; sthitaḥ—situated; tasyāḥ—of her (the material energy); guṇaiḥ—by different modes; anya-tamaḥ—most different; hi—indeed; badhyate—is bound.
Every conditioned soul receives a different type of body according to his work, and when the engagement is finished the body is finished. Although the spirit soul is situated in subtle and gross material bodies in different forms of life, he is not bound by them, for he is always understood to be completely different from the manifested body.
Here it is very plainly explained that God is not responsible for the living entity’s accepting different types of bodies. One has to accept a body according to the laws of nature and one’s own karma. Therefore the Vedic injunction is that a person engaged in material activities should be given directions by which he can intelligently apply his activities to the service of the Lord to become free from the material bondage of repeated birth and death (sva-karmaṇā tam abhyarcya siddhiṁ vindati mānavaḥ). The Lord is always ready to give directions. Indeed, His directions are elaborately given in Bhagavad-gītā. If we take advantage of these directions, then in spite of our being conditioned by the laws of material nature, we shall become free to attain our original constitution (mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te [Bg. 7.14]). We should have firm faith that the Lord is supreme and that if we surrender to Him, He will take charge of us and indicate how we can get out of material life and return home, back to Godhead. Without such surrender, one is obliged to accept a certain type of body according to his karma, sometimes as an animal, sometimes a demigod and so on. Although the body is obtained and lost in due course of time, the spirit soul does not actually mix with the body, but is subjugated by the particular modes of nature with which he is sinfully associated. Spiritual education changes one’s consciousness so that one simply carries out the orders of the Supreme Lord and becomes free from the influence of the modes of material nature.
idaṁ śarīraṁ puruṣasya mohajaṁ
yathā pṛthag bhautikam īyate gṛham
yathaudakaiḥ pārthiva-taijasair janaḥ
kālena jāto vikṛto vinaśyati
idam—this; śarīram—body; puruṣasya—of the conditioned soul; moha-jam—born of ignorance; yathā—just as; pṛthak—separate; bhautikam—material; īyate—is seen; gṛham—a house; yathā—just as; udakaiḥ—with water; pārthiva—with earth; taijasaiḥ—and with fire; janaḥ—the conditioned soul; kālena—in due course of time; jātaḥ—born; vikṛtaḥ—transformed; vinaśyati—is vanquished.
Just as a householder, although different from the identity of his house, thinks his house to be identical with him, so the conditioned soul, due to ignorance, accepts the body to be himself, although the body is actually different from the soul. This body is obtained through a combination of portions of earth, water and fire, and when the earth, water and fire are transformed in the course of time, the body is vanquished. The soul has nothing to do with this creation and dissolution of the body.
We transmigrate from one body to another in bodies that are products of our illusion, but as spirit souls we always exist separately from material, conditional life. The example given here is that a house or car is always different from its owner, but because of attachment the conditioned soul thinks it to be identical with him. A car or house is actually made of material elements; as long as the material elements combine together properly, the car or house exists, and when they are disassembled the house or the car is disassembled. The spirit soul, however, always remains as he is.
yathānalo dāruṣu bhinna īyate
yathānilo deha-gataḥ pṛthak sthitaḥ
yathā nabhaḥ sarva-gataṁ na sajjate
tathā pumān sarva-guṇāśrayaḥ paraḥ
yathā—just as; analaḥ—the fire; dāruṣu—in wood; bhinnaḥ—separate; īyate—is perceived; yathā—just as; anilaḥ—the air; deha-gataḥ—within the body; pṛthak—separate; sthitaḥ—situated; yathā—just as; nabhaḥ—the sky; sarva-gatam—all-pervading; na—not; sajjate—mix; tathā—similarly; pumān—the living entity; sarva-guṇa-āśrayaḥ—although now the shelter of the modes of material nature; paraḥ—transcendental to material contamination.
As fire, although situated in wood, is perceived to be different from the wood, as air, although situated within the mouth and nostrils, is perceived to be separate, and as the sky, although all-pervading, never mixes with anything, so the living entity, although now encaged within the material body, of which it is the source, is separate from it.
In Bhagavad-gītā the Supreme Personality of Godhead has explained that the material energy and spiritual energy both emanate from Him. The material energy is described as me bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā, the eight separated energies of the Lord. But although the eight gross and subtle material energies—namely, earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego—are stated to be bhinnā, separate from the Lord, actually they are not. As fire appears separate from wood and as the air flowing through the nostrils and mouth of the body appear separate from the body, so the Paramātmā, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appears separate from the living being but is actually separate and not separate simultaneously. This is the philosophy of propounded by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. According to the reactions of karma, the living being appears separate from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but actually he is very intimately related with the Lord. Consequently, even though we now seem neglected by the Lord, He is actually always alert to our activities. Under all circumstances, therefore, we should simply depend on the supremacy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and thus revive our intimate relationship with Him. We must depend upon the authority and control of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
suyajño nanv ayaṁ śete
mūḍhā yam anuśocatha
yaḥ śrotā yo ’nuvakteha
sa na dṛśyeta karhicit
suyajñaḥ—the king named Suyajña; nanu—indeed; ayam—this; śete—lies; mūḍhāḥ—O foolish people; yam—whom; anuśocatha—you cry for; yaḥ—he who; śrotā—the hearer; yaḥ—he who; anuvaktā—the speaker; iha—in this world; saḥ—he; na—not; dṛśyeta—is visible; karhicit—at any time.
Yamarāja continued: O lamenters, you are all fools! The person named Suyajña, for whom you lament, is still lying before you and has not gone anywhere. Then what is the cause for your lamentation? Previously he heard you and replied to you, but now, not finding him, you are lamenting. This is contradictory behavior, for you have never actually seen the person within the body who heard you and replied. There is no need for your lamentation, for the body you have always seen is lying here.
This instruction by Yamarāja in the form of a boy is understandable even for a common man. A common man who considers the body the self is certainly comparable to an animal (yasyātma-buddhiḥ kuṇape tri-dhātuke. .. sa eva go-kharaḥ [SB 10.84.13]). But even a common man can understand that after death a person is gone. Although the body is still there, a dead man’s relatives lament that the person has gone away, for a common man sees the body but cannot see the soul. As described in Bhagavad-gītā, dehino ’smin yathā dehe: [Bg. 2.13] the soul, the proprietor of the body, is within. After death, when the breath within the nostrils has stopped, one can understand that the person within the body, who was hearing and replying, has now gone. Therefore, in effect, the common man concludes that actually the spirit soul was different from the body and has now gone away. Thus even a common man, coming to his senses, can know that the real person who was within the body and was hearing and replying was never seen. For that which was never seen, what is the need of lamentation?
na śrotā nānuvaktāyaṁ
mukhyo ’py atra mahān asuḥ
yas tv ihendriyavān ātmā
sa cānyaḥ prāṇa-dehayoḥ
na—not; śrotā—the listener; na—not; anuvaktā—the speaker; ayam—this; mukhyaḥ—chief; api—although; atra—in this body; mahān—the great; asuḥ—life air; yaḥ—he who; tu—but; iha—in this body; indriya-vān—possessing all the sense organs; ātmā—the soul; saḥ—he; ca—and; anyaḥ—different; prāṇa-dehayoḥ—from the life air and the material body.
In the body the most important substance is the life air, but that also is neither the listener nor the speaker. Beyond even the life air, the soul also can do nothing, for the Supersoul is actually the director, in cooperation with the individual soul. The Supersoul conducting the activities of the body is different from the body and living force.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead distinctly says in Bhagavad-gītā (15.15), sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca: “I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness.” Although the ātmā, or soul, is present in every material body (dehino ’smin yathā dehe [Bg. 2.13]), he is not actually the chief person acting through the senses, mind and so on. The soul can merely act in cooperation with the Supersoul because it is the Supersoul who gives him directions to act or not to act (mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca [Bg. 15.15]). One cannot act without His sanction, for the Supersoul is upadraṣṭā and anumantā, the witness and sanctioner. One who studies carefully, under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master, can understand the real knowledge that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is actually the conductor of all the activities of the individual soul, and the controller of their results as well. Although the individual soul possesses the indriyas, or senses, he is not actually the proprietor, for the proprietor is the Supersoul. Consequently the Supersoul is called Hṛṣīkeśa, and the individual soul is advised by the direction of the Supersoul to surrender to Him and thus be happy (sama-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja). Thus he can become immortal and be transferred to the spiritual kingdom, where he will achieve the highest success of an eternal, blissful life of knowledge. In conclusion, the individual soul is different from the body, senses, living force and the airs within the body, and above him is the Supersoul, who gives the individual soul all facilities. The individual soul who renders everything to the Supersoul lives very happily within the body.
dehān uccāvacān vibhuḥ
bhajaty utsṛjati hy anyas
tac cāpi svena tejasā
bhūta—by the five material elements; indriya—the ten senses; manaḥ—and the mind; liṅgān—characterized; dehān—gross material bodies; ucca-avacān—high class and low class; vibhuḥ—the individual soul, which is the lord of the body and senses; bhajati—achieves; utsṛjati—gives up; hi—indeed; anyaḥ—being different; tat—that; ca—also; api—indeed; svena—by his own; tejasā—power of advanced knowledge.
The five material elements, the ten senses and the mind all combine to form the various parts of the gross and subtle bodies. The living entity comes in contact with his material bodies, whether high or low, and later gives them up by his personal prowess. This strength can be perceived in a living entity’s personal power to possess different types of bodies.
The conditioned soul has knowledge, and if he wants to fully utilize the gross and subtle bodies for his real advancement in life, he can do so. It is therefore said here that by his high intelligence (svena tejasā), by the superior power of superior knowledge achieved from the right source—the spiritual master, or ācārya—he can give up his conditional life in a material body and return home, back to Godhead. However, if he wants to keep himself in the darkness of this material world, he can do so. The Lord confirms this as follows in Bhagavad-gītā (9.25):
“Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors; and those who worship Me will live with Me.”
The human form of body is valuable. One can use this body to go to the higher planetary systems, to Pitṛloka, or he can remain in this lower planetary system, but if one tries he can also return home, back to Godhead. This prowess is given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the Supersoul. Therefore the Lord says, mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca: [Bg. 15.15] “From Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness.” If one wants to receive real knowledge from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one can become free from bondage to repeated acceptance of material bodies. If one takes to the devotional service of the Lord and surrenders unto Him, the Lord is prepared to give one directions by which to return home, back to Godhead, but if one foolishly wants to keep himself in darkness, he can continue in a life of material existence.
yāval liṅgānvito hy ātmā
tāvat karma-nibandhanam
tato viparyayaḥ kleśo
māyā-yogo ’nuvartate
yāvat—as long as; liṅga-anvitaḥ—covered by the subtle body; hi—indeed; ātmā—the soul; tāvat—that long; karma—of fruitive activities; nibandhanam—bondage; tataḥ—from that; viparyayaḥ—reversal (wrongly thinking the body to be the self); kleśaḥ—misery; māyā-yogaḥ—a strong relationship with the external, illusory energy; anuvartate—follows.
As long as the spirit soul is covered by the subtle body, consisting of the mind, intelligence and false ego, he is bound to the results of his fruitive activities. Because of this covering, the spirit soul is connected with the material energy and must accordingly suffer material conditions and reversals, continually, life after life.
The living entity is bound by the subtle body, consisting of the mind, intelligence and false ego. At the time of death, therefore, the position of the mind becomes the cause for the next body. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (8.6), yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ tyajaty ante kalevaram: at the time of death the mind sets the criteria for the spirit soul’s being carried to another type of body. If a living being resists the dictation of the mind and engages the mind in the loving service of the Lord, the mind cannot degrade him. The duty of all human beings, therefore, is to keep the mind always engaged at the lotus feet of the Lord (sa vai manaḥ kṛṣṇa-padāravindayoḥ). When the mind is engaged at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, the intelligence is purified, and then the intelligence gets inspiration from the Supersoul (dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ tam). Thus the living entity makes progress toward liberation from material bondage. The individual living soul is subject to the laws of fruitive activity, but the Supersoul, Paramātmā, is not affected by the fruitive activities of the individual soul. As confirmed in the Vedic Upaniṣad, the Paramātmā and the jīvātmā, who are likened to two birds, are sitting in the body. The jīvātmā is enjoying or suffering by eating the fruits of the bodily activities, but the Paramātmā, who is free from such bondage, witnesses and sanctions the activities of the individual soul as the individual soul desires.
vitathābhiniveśo ’yaṁ
yad guṇeṣv artha-dṛg-vacaḥ
yathā manorathaḥ svapnaḥ
sarvam aindriyakaṁ mṛṣā
vitatha—fruitless; abhiniveśaḥ—the conception; ayam—this; yat—which; guṇeṣu—in the modes of material nature; artha—as a fact; dṛk-vacaḥ—the seeing and talking of; yathā—just as; manorathaḥ—a mental concoction (daydream); svapnaḥ—a dream; sarvam—everything; aindriyakam—produced by the senses; mṛṣā—false.
It is fruitless to see and talk of the material modes of nature and their resultant so-called happiness and distress as if they were factual. When the mind wanders during the day and a man begins to think himself extremely important, or when he dreams at night and sees a beautiful woman enjoying with him, these are merely false dreams. Similarly, the happiness and distress caused by the material senses should be understood to be meaningless.
The happiness and distress derived from the activities of the material senses are not actual happiness and distress. Therefore Bhagavad-gītā speaks of happiness that is transcendental to the material conception of life (sukham ātyantikaṁ yat tad buddhi-grāhyam atīndriyam). When our senses are purified of material contamination, they become atīndriya, transcendental senses, and when the transcendental senses are engaged in the service of the master of the senses, Hṛṣīkeśa, one can derive real transcendental pleasure. Whatever distress or happiness we manufacture by mental concoction through the subtle mind has no reality, but is simply a mental concoction. One should therefore not imagine so-called happiness through mental concoction. Rather, the best course is to engage the mind in the service of the Lord, Hṛṣīkeśa, and thus feel real blissful life.
There is a Vedic statement apāma-somam amṛtā abhūma apsarobhir viharāma. With reference to such a conception, one wants to go to the heavenly planets to enjoy with the young girls there and drink soma-rasa. Such imaginary pleasure, however, has no value. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (7.23), antavat tu phalaṁ teṣāṁ tad bhavaty alpa-medhasām: “Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary.” Even if by fruitive activity or worship of the demigods one is elevated to the higher planetary systems for sense enjoyment, his situation is condemned in Bhagavad-gītā as antavat, perishable. The happiness one enjoys in this way is like the pleasure of embracing a young woman in a dream; for some time it may be pleasing, but actually the basic principle is false. The mental concoctions of happiness and distress in this material world are compared to dreams because of their falseness. All thoughts of obtaining happiness by using the material senses have a false background and therefore have no meaning.
atha nityam anityaṁ vā
neha śocanti tad-vidaḥ
nānyathā śakyate kartuṁ
sva-bhāvaḥ śocatām iti
atha—therefore; nityam—the eternal spirit soul; anityam—the temporary material body; —or; na—not; iha—in this world; śocanti—they lament for; tat-vidaḥ—those who are advanced in knowledge of the body and soul; na—not; anyathā—otherwise; śakyate—is able; kartum—to do; sva-bhāvaḥ—the nature; śocatām—of those prone to lamentation; iti—thus.
Those who have full knowledge of self-realization, who know very well that the spirit soul is eternal whereas the body is perishable, are not overwhelmed by lamentation. But persons who lack knowledge of self-realization certainly lament. Therefore it is difficult to educate a person in illusion.
According to the mīmāṁsā philosophers, everything is eternal, nitya, and according to the Sāṅkhya philosophers everything is mithyā, or anitya—impermanent. Nonetheless, without real knowledge of ātma-, the soul, such philosophers must be bewildered and must continue to lament as śūdras. Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī therefore said to Parīkṣit Mahārāja:
“Those who are materially engrossed, being blind to knowledge of the ultimate truth, have many subjects for hearing in human society, O Emperor.” (Bhāg. 2.1.2) For ordinary persons engaged in material activities there are many, many subject matters to understand because such persons do not understand self-realization. One must therefore be educated in self-realization so that under any circumstances in life he will remain steady in his vows.
lubdhako vipine kaścit
pakṣiṇāṁ nirmito ’ntakaḥ
vitatya jālaṁ vidadhe
tatra tatra pralobhayan
lubdhakaḥ—hunter; vipine—in the forest; kaścit—some; pakṣiṇām—of birds; nirmitaḥ—appointed; antakaḥ—killer; vitatya—spreading; jālam—a net; vidadhe—captured; tatra tatra—here and there; pralobhayan—luring with food.
There was once a hunter who lured birds with food and captured them after spreading a net. He lived as if appointed by death personified as the killer of the birds.
This is another incident from the histories.
kuliṅga-mithunaṁ tatra
vicarat samadṛśyata
tayoḥ kuliṅgī sahasā
lubdhakena pralobhitā
kuliṅga-mithunam—a pair of (male and female) birds known as kuliṅga; tatra—there (where the hunter was hunting); vicarat—wandering; samadṛśyata—he saw; tayoḥ—of the pair; kuliṅgī—the female bird; sahasā—suddenly; lubdhakena—by the hunter; pralobhitā—allured.
While wandering in the forest, the hunter saw a pair of kuliṅga birds. Of the two, the female was captivated by the hunter’s lure.
sāsajjata sicas tantryāṁ
mahiṣyaḥ kāla-yantritā
kuliṅgas tāṁ tathāpannāṁ
nirīkṣya bhṛśa-duḥkhitaḥ
snehād akalpaḥ kṛpaṇaḥ
kṛpaṇāṁ paryadevayat
—the female bird; asajjata—trapped; sicaḥ—of the net; tantryām—in the rope; mahiṣyaḥ—O queens; kāla-yantritā—being forced by time; kuliṅgaḥ—the male kuliṅga bird; tām—her; tathā—in that condition; āpannām—captured; nirīkṣya—seeing; bhṛśa-duḥkhitaḥ—very unhappy; snehāt—out of affection; akalpaḥ—unable to do anything; kṛpaṇaḥ—the poor bird; kṛpaṇām—the poor wife; paryadevayat—began to lament for.
O queens of Suyajña, the male kuliṅga bird, seeing his wife put into the greatest danger in the grip of Providence, became very unhappy. Because of affection, the poor bird, being unable to release her, began to lament for his wife.
aho akaruṇo devaḥ
striyākaruṇayā vibhuḥ
kṛpaṇaṁ mām anuśocantyā
dīnayā kiṁ kariṣyati
aho—alas; akaruṇaḥ—most unkind; devaḥ—providence; striyā—with my wife; ākaruṇayā—who is fully compassionate; vibhuḥ—the Supreme Lord; kṛpaṇam—poor; mām—me; anuśocantyā—lamenting for; dīnayā—poor; kim—what; kariṣyati—shall do.
Alas, how merciless is Providence! My wife, unable to be helped by anyone, is in such an awkward position and lamenting for me. What will Providence gain by taking away this poor bird? What will be the profit?
kāmaṁ nayatu māṁ devaḥ
kim ardhenātmano hi me
dīnena jīvatā duḥkham
anena vidhurāyuṣā
kāmam—as He likes; nayatu—let Him take away; mām—me; devaḥ—the Supreme Lord; kim—what use; ardhena—with half; ātmanaḥ—of the body; hi—indeed; me—my; dīnena—poor; jīvatā—living; duḥkham—in suffering; anena—this; vidhura-āyuṣā—having a lifetime full of affliction.
If unkind Providence takes away my wife, who is half my body, why should He not take me also? What is the use of my living with half of my body, bereaved by loss of my wife? What shall I gain in this way?
kathaṁ tv ajāta-pakṣāṁs tān
mātṛ-hīnān bibharmy aham
manda-bhāgyāḥ pratīkṣante
nīḍe me mātaraṁ prajāḥ
katham—how; tu—but; ajāta-pakṣān—who have not grown wings to fly; tān—them; mātṛ-hīnān—bereft of their mother; bibharmi—shall maintain; aham—I; manda-bhāgyāḥ—very unfortunate; pratīkṣante—they await; nīḍe—in the nest; me—my; mātaram—their mother; prajāḥ—baby birds.
The unfortunate baby birds, bereft of their mother, are waiting in the nest for her to feed them. They are still very small and have not yet grown their wings. How shall I be able to maintain them?
The bird is lamenting for the mother of his children because the mother naturally maintains and cares for the children. Yamarāja, however, in the guise of a small boy, has already explained that although his mother left him uncared for and wandering in the forest, the tigers and other ferocious animals had not eaten him. The real fact is that if the Supreme Personality of Godhead protects one, even though one be motherless and fatherless, one can be maintained by the good will of the Lord. Otherwise, if the Supreme Lord does not give one protection, one must suffer in spite of the presence of his father and mother. Another example is that sometimes a patient dies in spite of a good physician and good medicine. Thus without the protection of the Lord one cannot live, with or without parents.
Another point in this verse is that fathers and mothers have protective feelings for their children even in bird and beast society, not to speak of human society. Kali-yuga, however, is so degraded that a father and mother even kill their children in the womb on the plea of their scientific knowledge that within the womb the child has no life. Prestigious medical practitioners give this opinion, and therefore the father and mother of this day kill their children within the womb. How degraded human society has become! Their scientific knowledge is so advanced that they think that within the egg and the embryo there is no life. Now these so-called scientists are receiving Nobel Prizes for advancing the theory of chemical evolution. But if chemical combinations are the source of life, why don’t the scientists manufacture something like an egg through chemistry and put it in an incubator so that a chicken will come out? What is their answer? With their scientific knowledge they are unable to create even an egg. Such scientists are described in Bhagavad-gītā as māyayāpahṛta jñānāḥ, fools whose real knowledge has been taken away. They are not men of knowledge, but they pose as scientists and philosophers, although their so-called theoretical knowledge cannot produce practical results.
evaṁ kuliṅgaṁ vilapantam ārāt
priyā-viyogāturam aśru-kaṇṭham
sa eva taṁ śākunikaḥ śareṇa
vivyādha kāla-prahito vilīnaḥ
evam—thus; kuliṅgam—the bird; vilapantam—while lamenting; ārāt—from a distance; priyā-viyoga—because of the loss of his wife; āturam—very aggrieved; aśru-kaṇṭham—with tears in the eyes; saḥ—he (that hunter); eva—indeed; tam—him (the male bird); śākunikaḥ—who could kill even a vulture; śareṇa—by an arrow; vivyādha—pierced; kāla-prahitaḥ—being moved by time; vilīnaḥ—hidden.
Because of the loss of his wife, the kuliṅga bird lamented with tears in his eyes. Meanwhile, following the dictations of mature time, the hunter, who was very carefully hidden in the distance, released his arrow, which pierced the body of the kuliṅga bird and killed him.
evaṁ yūyam apaśyantya
ātmāpāyam abuddhayaḥ
nainaṁ prāpsyatha śocantyaḥ
patiṁ varṣa-śatair api
evam—thus; yūyam—you; apaśyantyaḥ—not seeing; ātma-apāyam—own death; abuddhayaḥ—O ignorant ones; na—not; enam—him; prāpsyatha—you will obtain; śocantyaḥ—lamenting for; patim—your husband; varṣa-śataiḥ—for a hundred years; api—even.
Thus Yamarāja, in the guise of a small boy, told all the queens: You are all so foolish that you lament but do not see your own death. Afflicted by a poor fund of knowledge, you do not know that even if you lament for your dead husband for hundreds of years, you will never get him back alive, and in the meantime your lives will be finished.
Yamarāja once asked Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, “What is the most wonderful thing within this world?” Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira replied (Mahābhārata, Vana-parva 313.116):
ahany ahani bhūtāni
gacchantīha yamālayam
śeṣāḥ sthāvaram icchanti
kim āścaryam ataḥ param
Hundreds and thousands of living entities meet death at every moment, but a foolish living being nonetheless thinks himself deathless and does not prepare for death. This is the most wonderful thing in this world. Everyone has to die because everyone is fully under the control of material nature, yet everyone thinks that he is independent, that whatever he likes he can do, that he will never meet death but live forever, and so on. So-called scientists are making various plans by which living entities in the future can live forever, but while they are thus pursuing such scientific knowledge, Yamarāja, in due course of time, will take them away from their business of so-called research.
śrī-hiraṇyakaśipur uvāca
bāla evaṁ pravadati
sarve vismita-cetasaḥ
jñātayo menire sarvam
anityam ayathotthitam
śrī-hiraṇyakaśipuḥ uvāca—Śrī Hiraṇyakaśipu said; bāle—while Yamarāja in the form of a boy; evam—thus; pravadati—was speaking very philosophically; sarve—all; vismita—struck with wonder; cetasaḥ—their hearts; jñātayaḥ—the relatives; menire—they thought; sarvam—everything material; anityam—temporary; ayathā-utthitam—arisen from temporary phenomena.
Hiraṇyakaśipu said: While Yamarāja, in the form of a small boy, was instructing all the relatives surrounding the dead body of Suyajña, everyone was struck with wonder by his philosophical words. They could understand that everything material is temporary, not continuing to exist.
This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (2.18). Antavanta ime dehā nityasyoktāḥ śarīriṇaḥ: the body is perishable, but the soul within the body is imperishable. Therefore the duty of those advanced in knowledge in human society is to study the constitutional position of the imperishable soul and not waste the valuable time of human life in merely maintaining the body and not considering life’s real responsibility. Every human being should try to understand how the spirit soul can be happy and where he can attain an eternal, blissful life of knowledge. Human beings are meant to study these subject matters, not to be absorbed in caring for the temporary body, which is sure to change. No one knows whether he will receive a human body again; there is no guarantee, for according to one’s work one may get any body, from that of a demigod to that of a dog. In this regard, Śrīla Madhvācārya comments:
ahaṁ mamābhimānādi-
tva-yathottham anityakam
mahadādi yathotthaṁ ca
nityā cāpi yathotthitā
asvatantraiva prakṛtiḥ
sva-tantro nitya eva ca
yathārtha-bhūtaś ca para
eka eva janārdanaḥ
Only Janārdana, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is ever existing, but His creation, the material world, is temporary. Therefore everyone who is captivated by the material energy and absorbed in thinking “I am this body, and everything belonging to this body is mine” is in illusion. One should think only of being eternally a part of Janārdana, and one’s endeavor in this material world, especially in this human form of life, should be to attain the association of Janārdana by going back home, back to Godhead.
yama etad upākhyāya
jñātayo hi suyajñasya
cakrur yat sāmparāyikam
yamaḥ—Yamarāja in the form of a boy; etat—this; upākhyāya—instructing; tatra—there; eva—indeed; antaradhīyata—disappeared; jñātayaḥ—the relatives; hi—indeed; suyajñasya—of King Suyajña; cakruḥ—performed; yat—which is; sāmparāyikam—the funeral ceremony.
After instructing all the foolish relatives of Suyajña, Yamarāja, in the form of a boy, disappeared from their vision. Then the relatives of King Suyajña performed the ritualistic funeral ceremonies.
ataḥ śocata mā yūyaṁ
paraṁ cātmānam eva vā
ka ātmā kaḥ paro vātra
svīyaḥ pārakya eva vā
vinājñānena dehinām
ataḥ—therefore; śocata—lament for; —do not; yūyam—all of you; param—another; ca—and; ātmānam—yourself; eva—certainly; —or; kaḥ—who; ātmā—self; kaḥ—who; paraḥ—other; —or; atra—in this material world; svīyaḥ—one’s own; pārakyaḥ—for others; eva—indeed; —or; sva-para-abhiniveśena—consisting of absorption in the bodily concept of oneself and others; vinā—besides; ajñānena—the lack of knowledge; dehinām—of all the embodied living entities.
Therefore none of you should be aggrieved for the loss of the body—whether your own or those of others. Only in ignorance does one make bodily distinctions, thinking “Who am I? Who are the others? What is mine? What is for others?”
In this material world, the conception of self-preservation is the first law of nature. According to this conception, one should be interested in his personal safety and should then consider society, friendship, love, nationality, community and so on, which have all developed because of the bodily conception of life and a lack of knowledge of the spirit soul. This is called ajñāna. As long as human society is in darkness and ignorance, men will continue to make huge arrangements in the bodily conception of life. This is described by Prahlāda Mahārāja as bharam. In the materialistic conception, modern civilization makes enormous arrangements for huge roads, houses, mills and factories, and this is man’s conception of the advancement of civilization. People do not know, however, that at any time they themselves may be kicked out of the scene and forced to accept bodies that have nothing to do with these enormous houses, palaces, roads and automobiles. Therefore when Arjuna was thinking in terms of his bodily relationships with his kinsmen, Kṛṣṇa immediately chastised him, saying, kutas tvā kaśmalam idaṁ viṣame samupasthitam anārya juṣṭam: “This bodily conception of life is befitting the anāryas, the non-Āryans, who are not advanced in knowledge.” An Āryan civilization is a civilization advanced in spiritual knowledge. Not merely by stamping oneself an Āryan does one become an Āryan. To keep oneself in the deepest darkness concerning spiritual knowledge and at the same time claim to be an Āryan is a non-Āryan position. In this connection, Śrīla Madhvācārya quotes as follows from the Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇa:
ka ātmā kaḥ para iti dehādy-apekṣayā
na hi dehādir ātmā syān
na ca śatrur udīritaḥ
ato daihika-vṛddhau
kṣaye kiṁ prayojanam
dehādi-vyatiriktau tu
jīveśau pratijānatā
ata ātma-vivṛddhis tu
vāsudeve ratiḥ sthirā
śatru-nāśas tathājñāna-
nāśo nānyaḥ kathañcana
The purport is that as long as we are in this human form of body, our duty is to understand the soul within the body. The body is not the self; we are different from the body, and therefore there is no question of friends, enemies or responsibilities in terms of the bodily conception of life. One should not be very anxious about the body’s changing from childhood to boyhood, from boyhood to old age and then to apparent annihilation. Rather, one should be very seriously concerned about the soul within the body and how to release the soul from the material clutches. The living entity within the body is never annihilated; therefore one should surely know that whether one has many friends or many enemies, his friends cannot help him, and his enemies cannot do him any harm. One should know that he is a spirit soul () and that the constitutional position of the soul is unaffected by the changes of the body. In all circumstances, everyone, as a spirit soul, must be a devotee of Lord Viṣṇu and should not be concerned with bodily relationships, whether with friends or with enemies. One should know that neither we ourselves nor our enemies in the bodily conception of life are ever killed.
śrī-nārada uvāca
iti daitya-pater vākyaṁ
ditir ākarṇya sasnuṣā
putra-śokaṁ kṣaṇāt tyaktvā
tattve cittam adhārayat
śrī-nāradaḥ uvāca—Śrī Nārada Muni said; iti—thus; daitya-pateḥ—of the King of the demons; vākyam—the speech; ditiḥDiti, the mother of Hiraṇyakaśipu and Hiraṇyākṣa; ākarṇya—hearing; sa-snuṣā—with the wife of Hiraṇyākṣa; putra-śokam—the great bereavement for her son, Hiraṇyākṣa; kṣaṇāt—immediately; tyaktvā—giving up; tattve—in the real philosophy of life; cittam—heart; adhārayat—engaged.
Śrī Nārada Muni continued: Diti, the mother of Hiraṇyakaśipu and Hiraṇyākṣa, heard the instructions of Hiraṇyakaśipu along with her daughter-in-law, Ruṣābhānu, Hiraṇyākṣa’s wife. She then forgot her grief over her son’s death and thus engaged her mind and attention in understanding the real philosophy of life.
When a relative dies one certainly becomes very much interested in philosophy, but when the funeral ceremony is over one again becomes attentive to materialism. Even Daityas, who are materialistic persons, sometimes think of philosophy when some relative meets death. The technical term for this attitude of the materialistic person is śmaśāna-vairāgya, or detachment in a cemetery or place of cremation. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā, four classes of men receive an understanding of spiritual life and God—ārta (the distressed), jijñāsu (the inquisitive), arthārthī (one who desires material gains) and jñānī (one who is searching for knowledge). Especially when one is very much distressed by material conditions, one becomes interested in God. Therefore Kuntīdevī said in her prayers to Kṛṣṇa that she preferred distress to a happy mood of life. In the material world, one who is happy forgets Kṛṣṇa, or God, but sometimes, if one is actually pious but in distress, he remembers Kṛṣṇa. Queen Kuntīdevī therefore preferred distress because it is an opportunity for remembering Kṛṣṇa. When Kṛṣṇa was leaving Kuntīdevī for His own country, Kuntīdevī regretfully said that she was better off in distress because Kṛṣṇa was always present, whereas now that the Pāṇḍavas were situated in their kingdom, Kṛṣṇa was going away. For a devotee, distress is an opportunity to remember the Supreme Personality of Godhead constantly.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Seventh Canto, Second Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled “Hiraṇyakaśipu, King of the Demons.”

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