Chapter Five
Durvāsā Muni’s Life Spared
In this chapter we find Mahārāja Ambarīṣa offering prayers to the Sudarśana cakra and we find how the Sudarśana cakra became merciful to Durvāsā Muni.
By the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu, Durvāsā Muni immediately went to Mahārāja Ambarīṣa and fell at his lotus feet. Mahārāja Ambarīṣa, being naturally very humble and meek, felt shy and ashamed because Durvāsā Muni had fallen at his feet, and thus he began to offer prayers to the Sudarśana cakra just to save Durvāsā. What is this Sudarśana cakra? The Sudarśana cakra is the glance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead by which He creates the entire material world. Sa aikṣata, sa asṛjata. This is the Vedic version. The Sudarśana cakra, which is the origin of creation and is most dear to the Lord, has thousands of spokes. This Sudarśana cakra is the killer of the prowess of all other weapons, the killer of darkness, and the manifester of the prowess of devotional service; it is the means of establishing religious principles, and it is the killer of all irreligious activities. Without his mercy, the universe cannot be maintained, and therefore the Sudarśana cakra is employed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When Mahārāja Ambarīṣa thus prayed that the Sudarśana cakra be merciful, the Sudarśana cakra, being appeased, refrained from killing Durvāsā Muni, who thus achieved the Sudarśana cakra’s mercy. Durvāsā Muni thus learned to give up the nasty idea of considering a Vaiṣṇava an ordinary person (vaiṣṇave jāti-buddhi). Mahārāja Ambarīṣa belonged to the kṣatriya group, and therefore Durvāsā Muni considered him lower than the brāhmaṇas and wanted to exercise brahminical power against him. By this incident, everyone should learn how to stop mischievous ideas of neglecting Vaiṣṇavas. After this incident, Mahārāja Ambarīṣa gave Durvāsā Muni sumptuous food to eat, and then the King, who had been standing in the same place for one year without eating anything, also took prasāda. Mahārāja Ambarīṣa later divided his property among his sons and went to the bank of the Mānasa-sarovara to execute devotional meditation.
śrī-śuka uvāca
evaṁ bhagavatādiṣṭo
durvāsāś cakra-tāpitaḥ
ambarīṣam upāvṛtya
tat-pādau duḥkhito ’grahīt
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; evam—in this way; bhagavatā ādiṣṭaḥ—being ordered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead; durvāsāḥ—the great mystic yogī named Durvāsā; cakra-tāpitaḥ—being very much harassed by the Sudarśana cakra; ambarīṣam—unto Mahārāja Ambarīṣa; upāvṛtya—approaching; tat-pādau—at his lotus feet; duḥkhitaḥ—being very much aggrieved; agrahīt—he caught.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: When thus advised by Lord Viṣṇu, Durvāsā Muni, who was very much harassed by the Sudarśana cakra, immediately approached Mahārāja Ambarīṣa. Being very much aggrieved, the muni fell down and clasped the King’s lotus feet.
tasya sodyamam āvīkṣya
astāvīt tad dharer astraṁ
kṛpayā pīḍito bhṛśam
tasya—of Durvāsā; saḥ—he, Mahārāja Ambarīṣa; udyamam—the endeavor; āvīkṣya—after seeing; pāda-sparśa-vilajjitaḥ—being ashamed because Durvāsā was touching his lotus feet; astāvīt—offered prayers; tat—to that; hareḥ astram—weapon of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; kṛpayā—with mercy; pīḍitaḥ—aggrieved; bhṛśam—very much.
When Durvāsā touched his lotus feet, Mahārāja Ambarīṣa was very much ashamed, and when he saw Durvāsā attempting to offer prayers, because of mercy he was aggrieved even more. Thus he immediately began offering prayers to the great weapon of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
ambarīṣa uvāca
tvam agnir bhagavān sūryas
tvaṁ somo jyotiṣāṁ patiḥ
tvam āpas tvaṁ kṣitir vyoma
vāyur mātrendriyāṇi ca
ambarīṣaḥMahārāja Ambarīṣa; uvāca—said; tvam—you (are); agniḥ—the fire; bhagavān—the most powerful; sūryaḥ—the sun; tvam—you (are); somaḥ—the moon; jyotiṣām—of all the luminaries; patiḥ—the master; tvam—you (are); āpaḥ—water; tvam—you (are); kṣitiḥ—earth; vyoma—sky; vāyuḥ—the air; mātra—the objects of the senses; indriyāṇi—and the senses; ca—also.
Mahārāja Ambarīṣa said: O Sudarśana cakra, you are fire, you are the most powerful sun, and you are the moon, the master of all luminaries. You are water, earth and sky, you are the air, you are the five sense objects [sound, touch, form, taste and smell], and you are the senses also.
sudarśana namas tubhyaṁ
sarvāstra-ghātin viprāya
svasti bhūyā iḍaspate
sudarśana—O original vision of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; namaḥ—respectful obeisances; tubhyam—unto you; sahasra-ara—O you who have thousands of spokes; acyuta-priya—O most favorite of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Acyuta; sarva-astra-ghātin—O destroyer of all weapons; viprāya—unto this brāhmaṇa; svasti—very auspicious; bhūyāḥ—just become; iḍaspate—O master of the material world.
O most favorite of Acyuta, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, you have thousands of spokes. O master of the material world, destroyer of all weapons, original vision of the Personality of Godhead, I offer my respectful obeisances unto you. Kindly give shelter and be auspicious to this brāhmaṇa.
tvaṁ dharmas tvam ṛtaṁ satyaṁ
tvaṁ yajño ’khila-yajña-bhuk
tvaṁ loka-pālaḥ sarvātmā
tvaṁ tejaḥ pauruṣaṁ param
tvam—you; dharmaḥ—religion; tvam—you; ṛtam—encouraging statements; satyam—the ultimate truth; tvam—you; yajñaḥ—sacrifice; akhila—universal; yajña-bhuk—the enjoyer of the fruits resulting from sacrifice; tvam—you; loka-pālaḥ—the maintainer of the various planets; sarva-ātmā—all-pervading; tvam—you; tejaḥ—prowess; pauruṣam—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; param—transcendental.
O Sudarśana wheel, you are religion, you are truth, you are encouraging statements, you are sacrifice, and you are the enjoyer of the fruits of sacrifice. You are the maintainer of the entire universe, and you are the supreme transcendental prowess in the hands of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. You are the original vision of the Lord, and therefore you are known as Sudarśana. Everything has been created by your activities, and therefore you are all-pervading.
The word sudarśana means “auspicious vision.” From Vedic instructions we understand that this material world is created by the glance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (sa aikṣata, sa asṛjata). The Supreme Personality of Godhead glanced over the mahat-tattva, or the total material energy, and when it was agitated, everything came into existence. Western philosophers sometimes think that the original cause of creation was a chunk that exploded. If one thinks of this chunk as the total material energy, the mahat-tattva, one can understand that the chunk was agitated by the glance of the Lord, and thus the Lord’s glance is the original cause of material creation.
namaḥ sunābhākhila-dharma-setave
hy adharma-śīlāsura-dhūma-ketave
trailokya-gopāya viśuddha-varcase
mano-javāyādbhuta-karmaṇe gṛṇe
namaḥ—all respectful obeisances unto you; su-nābha—O you who have an auspicious hub; akhila-dharma-setave—whose spokes are considered to be a breech of the entire universe; hi—indeed; adharma-śīla—who are irreligious; asura—for the demons; dhūma-ketave—unto you who are like fire or an inauspicious comet; trailokya—of the three material worlds; gopāya—the maintainer; viśuddha—transcendental; varcase—whose effulgence; manaḥ-javāya—as speedy as the mind; adbhuta—wonderful; karmaṇe—so active; gṛṇe—I simply utter.
O Sudarśana, you have a very auspicious hub, and therefore you are the upholder of all religion. You are just like an inauspicious comet for the irreligious demons. Indeed, you are the maintainer of the three worlds, you are full of transcendental effulgence, you are as quick as the mind, and you are able to work wonders. I can simply utter the word namaḥ, offering all obeisances unto you.
The disc of the Lord is called Sudarśana because he does not discriminate between high and low criminals or demons. Durvāsā Muni was certainly a powerful brāhmaṇa, but his acts against the pure devotee Mahārāja Ambarīṣa were no better than the activities of asuras. As stated in the śāstras, dharmaṁ tu sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītam: [SB 6.3.19] the word dharma refers to the orders or laws given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: [Bg. 18.66] real dharma is surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore real dharma means bhakti, or devotional service to the Lord. The Sudarśana cakra is here addressed as dharma-setave, the protector of dharma. Mahārāja Ambarīṣa was a truly religious person, and consequently for his protection the Sudarśana cakra was ready to punish even such a strict brāhmaṇa as Durvāsā Muni because he had acted like a demon. There are demons even in the form of brāhmaṇas. Therefore the Sudarśana cakra does not discriminate between brāhmaṇa demons and śūdra demons. Anyone against the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His devotees is called a demon. In the śāstras we find many brāhmaṇas and kṣatriyas who acted as demons and have been described as demons. According to the verdict of the śāstras, one has to be understood according to his symptoms. If one is born of a brāhmaṇa father but his symptoms are demoniac, he is regarded as a demon. The Sudarśana cakra is always concerned with annihilating the demons. Therefore he is described as adharma-śīlāsura-dhūma-ketave. Those who are not devotees are called adharma-śīla. The Sudarśana cakra is just like an inauspicious comet for all such demons.
tvat-tejasā dharma-mayena saṁhṛtaṁ
tamaḥ prakāśaś ca dṛśo mahātmanām
duratyayas te mahimā girāṁ pate
tvad-rūpam etat sad-asat parāvaram
tvat-tejasā—by your effulgence; dharma-mayena—which is full of religious principles; saṁhṛtam—dissipated; tamaḥ—darkness; prakāśaḥ ca—illumination also; dṛśaḥ—of all directions; mahā-ātmanām—of great, learned personalities; duratyayaḥ—insurmountable; te—your; mahimā—glories; girām pate—O master of speech; tvat-rūpam—your manifestation; etat—this; sat-asat—manifested and unmanifested; para-avaram—superior and inferior.
O master of speech, by your effulgence, full of religious principles, the darkness of the world is dissipated, and the knowledge of learned persons or great souls is manifested. Indeed, no one can surpass your effulgence, for all things, manifested and unmanifested, gross and subtle, superior and inferior, are but various forms of you that are manifested by your effulgence.
Without illumination, nothing can be seen, especially in this material world. The illumination in this world emanates from the effulgence of Sudarśana, the original vision of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The illuminating principles of the sun, the moon and fire emanate from Sudarśana. Similarly, illumination by knowledge also comes from Sudarśana because with the illumination of Sudarśana one can distinguish one thing from another, the superior from the inferior. Generally people accept a powerful yogi like Durvāsā Muni as wonderfully superior, but if such a person is chased by the Sudarśana cakra, we can see his real identity and understand how inferior he is because of his dealings with devotees.
yadā visṛṣṭas tvam anañjanena vai
balaṁ praviṣṭo ’jita daitya-dānavam
vṛścann ajasraṁ pradhane virājase
yadā—when; visṛṣṭaḥ—sent; tvam—your good self; anañjanena—by the transcendental Supreme Personality of Godhead; vai—indeed; balam—the soldiers; praviṣṭaḥ—entering among; ajita—O indefatigable and unconquerable one; daitya-dānavam—of the Daityas and Dānavas, the demons; bāhu—arms; udara—bellies; ūru—thighs; aṅghri—legs; śiraḥ-dharāṇi—necks; vṛścan—separating; ajasram—incessantly; pradhane—in the battlefield; virājase—you stay.
O indefatigable one, when you are sent by the Supreme Personality of Godhead to enter among the soldiers of the Daityas and the Dānavas, you stay on the battlefield and unendingly separate their arms, bellies, thighs, legs and heads.
sa tvaṁ jagat-trāṇa khala-prahāṇaye
nirūpitaḥ sarva-saho gadā-bhṛtā
viprasya cāsmat-kula-daiva-hetave
vidhehi bhadraṁ tad anugraho hi naḥ
saḥ—that person; tvam—your good self; jagat-trāṇa—O protector of the whole universe; khala-prahāṇaye—in killing the envious enemies; nirūpitaḥ—are engaged; sarva-sahaḥ—all-powerful; gadā-bhṛtā—by the Supreme Personality of Godhead; viprasya—of this brāhmaṇa; ca—also; asmat—our; kula-daiva-hetave—for the good fortune of the dynasty; vidhehi—kindly do; bhadram—all-good; tat—that; anugrahaḥ—favor; hi—indeed; naḥ—our.
O protector of the universe, you are engaged by the Supreme Personality of Godhead as His all-powerful weapon in killing the envious enemies. For the benefit of our entire dynasty, kindly favor this poor brāhmaṇa. This will certainly be a favor for all of us.
yady asti dattam iṣṭaṁ vā
sva-dharmo vā svanuṣṭhitaḥ
kulaṁ no vipra-daivaṁ ced
dvijo bhavatu vijvaraḥ
yadi—if; asti—there is; dattam—charity; iṣṭam—worshiping the Deity; —either; sva-dharmaḥ—occupational duty; —either; su-anuṣṭhitaḥ—perfectly performed; kulam—dynasty; naḥ—our; vipra-daivam—favored by the brāhmaṇas; cet—if so; dvijaḥ—this brāhmaṇa; bhavatu—may become; vijvaraḥ—without a burning (from the Sudarśana cakra).
If our family has given charity to the proper persons, if we have performed ritualistic ceremonies and sacrifices, if we have properly carried out our occupational duties, and if we have been guided by learned brāhmaṇas, I wish, in exchange, that this brāhmaṇa be freed from the burning caused by the Sudarśana cakra.
yadi no bhagavān prīta
ekaḥ sarva-guṇāśrayaḥ
dvijo bhavatu vijvaraḥ
yadi—if; naḥ—unto us; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; prītaḥ—is satisfied; ekaḥ—without any duplicate; sarva-guṇa-āśrayaḥ—the reservoir of all transcendental qualities; sarva-bhūta-ātma-bhāvena—by a merciful attitude toward all living entities; dvijaḥ—this brāhmaṇa; bhavatu—may become; vijvaraḥ—freed from all burning.
If the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is one without a second, who is the reservoir of all transcendental qualities, and who is the life and soul of all living entities, is pleased with us, we wish that this brāhmaṇa, Durvāsā Muni, be freed from the pain of being burned.
śrī-śuka uvāca
iti saṁstuvato rājño
viṣṇu-cakraṁ sudarśanam
aśāmyat sarvato vipraṁ
pradahad rāja-yācñayā
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; iti—thus; saṁstuvataḥ—being prayed to; rājñaḥ—by the King; viṣṇu-cakram—the disc weapon of Lord Viṣṇu; sudarśanam—of the name Sudarśana cakra; aśāmyat—became no longer disturbing; sarvataḥ—in every respect; vipram—unto the brāhmaṇa; pradahat—causing to burn; rāja—of the King; yācñayā—by the begging.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: When the King offered prayers to the Sudarśana cakra and Lord Viṣṇu, because of his prayers the Sudarśana cakra became peaceful and stopped burning the brāhmaṇa known as Durvāsā Muni.
sa mukto ’strāgni-tāpena
durvāsāḥ svastimāṁs tataḥ
praśaśaṁsa tam urvīśaṁ
yuñjānaḥ paramāśiṣaḥ
saḥ—he, Durvāsā Muni; muktaḥ—being freed; astra-agni-tāpena—from the heat of the fire of the Sudarśana cakra; durvāsāḥ—the great mystic Durvāsā; svastimān—fully satisfied, relieved of the burning; tataḥ—then; praśaśaṁsa—offered praise; tam—unto him; urvī-īśam—the King; yuñjānaḥ—performing; parama-āśiṣaḥ—the highest benedictions.
Durvāsā Muni, the greatly powerful mystic, was indeed satisfied when freed from the fire of the Sudarśana cakra. Thus he praised the qualities of Mahārāja Ambarīṣa and offered him the highest benedictions.
durvāsā uvāca
aho ananta-dāsānāṁ
mahattvaṁ dṛṣṭam adya me
kṛtāgaso ’pi yad rājan
maṅgalāni samīhase
durvāsāḥ uvāca—Durvāsā Muni said; aho—alas; ananta-dāsānām—of the servants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; mahattvam—greatness; dṛṣṭam—seen; adya—today; me—by me; kṛta-āgasaḥ api—although I was an offender; yat—still; rājan—O King; maṅgalāni—good fortune; samīhase—you are praying for.
Durvāsā Muni said: My dear King, today I have experienced the greatness of devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for although I have committed an offense, you have prayed for my good fortune.
duṣkaraḥ ko nu sādhūnāṁ
dustyajo vā mahātmanām
yaiḥ saṅgṛhīto bhagavān
sātvatām ṛṣabho hariḥ
duṣkaraḥ—difficult to do; kaḥ—what; nu—indeed; sādhūnām—of the devotees; dustyajaḥ—impossible to give up; —either; mahā-ātmanām—of the great persons; yaiḥ—by which persons; saṅgṛhītaḥ—achieved (by devotional service); bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; sātvatām—of the pure devotees; ṛṣabhaḥ—the leader; hariḥ—the Lord.
For those who have achieved the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of the pure devotees, what is impossible to do, and what is impossible to give up?
pumān bhavati nirmalaḥ
tasya tīrtha-padaḥ kiṁ vā
dāsānām avaśiṣyate
yat-nāma—the holy name of the Lord; śruti-mātreṇa—simply by hearing; pumān—a person; bhavati—becomes; nirmalaḥ—purified; tasya—of Him; tīrtha-padaḥ—the Lord, at whose feet are the holy places; kim —what; dāsānām—by the servants; avaśiṣyate—remains to be done.
What is impossible for the servants of the Lord? By the very hearing of His holy name one is purified.
rājann anugṛhīto ’haṁ
mad-aghaṁ pṛṣṭhataḥ kṛtvā
prāṇā yan me ’bhirakṣitāḥ
rājan—O King; anugṛhītaḥ—very much favored; aham—I (am); tvayā—by you; ati-karuṇa-ātmanā—because of your being extremely merciful; mat-agham—my offenses; pṛṣṭhataḥ—to the back; kṛtvā—doing so; prāṇāḥ—life; yat—that; me—my; abhirakṣitāḥ—saved.
O King, overlooking my offenses, you have saved my life. Thus I am very much obliged to you because you are so merciful.
rājā tam akṛtāhāraḥ
caraṇāv upasaṅgṛhya
prasādya samabhojayat
rājā—the King; tam—unto him, Durvāsā Muni; akṛta-āhāraḥ—who refrained from taking food; pratyāgamana—returning; kāṅkṣayā—desiring; caraṇau—the feet; upasaṅgṛhya—approaching; prasādya—pleasing in all respects; samabhojayat—fed sumptuously.
Expecting the return of Durvāsā Muni, the King had not taken his food. Therefore, when the sage returned, the King fell at his lotus feet, pleasing him in all respects, and fed him sumptuously.
so ’śitvādṛtam ānītam
ātithyaṁ sārva-kāmikam
tṛptātmā nṛpatiṁ prāha
bhujyatām iti sādaram
saḥ—he (Durvāsā); aśitvā—after eating sumptuously; ādṛtam—with great respect; ānītam—received; ātithyam—offered different varieties of food; sārva-kāmikam—fulfilling all kinds of tastes; tṛpta-ātmā—thus being fully satisfied; nṛpatim—unto the King; prāha—said; bhujyatām—my dear King, you eat also; iti—in this way; sa-ādaram—with great respect.
Thus the King respectfully received Durvāsā Muni, who after eating varieties of palatable food was so satisfied that with great affection he requested the King to eat also, saying, “Please take your meal.”
prīto ’smy anugṛhīto ’smi
tava bhāgavatasya vai
prītaḥ—very much satisfied; asmi—I am; anugṛhītaḥ—very much favored; asmi—I am; tava—your; bhāgavatasya—because of your being a pure devotee; vai—indeed; darśana—by seeing you; sparśana—and touching your feet; ālāpaiḥ—by talking with you; ātithyena—by your hospitality; ātma-medhasā—by my own intelligence.
Durvāsā Muni said: I am very pleased with you, my dear King. At first I thought of you as an ordinary human being and accepted your hospitality, but later I could understand, by my own intelligence, that you are the most exalted devotee of the Lord. Therefore, simply by seeing you, touching your feet and talking with you, I have been pleased and have become obliged to you.
It is said, vaiṣṇavera kriyā mudrā vijñeha bujhaya: even a very intelligent man cannot understand the activities of a pure Vaiṣṇava. Therefore, because Durvāsā Muni was a great mystic yogī, he first mistook Mahārāja Ambarīṣa for an ordinary human being and wanted to punish him. Such is the mistaken observation of a Vaiṣṇava. When Durvāsā Muni was persecuted by the Sudarśana cakra, however, his intelligence developed. Therefore the word ātma-medhasā is used to indicate that by his personal experience he would understand how great a Vaiṣṇava the King was. When Durvāsā Muni was chased by the Sudarśana cakra, he wanted to take shelter of Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, and he was even able to go to the spiritual world, meet the Personality of Godhead and talk with Him face to face, yet he was unable to be rescued from the attack of the Sudarśana cakra. Thus he could understand the influence of a Vaiṣṇava by personal experience. Durvāsā Muni was certainly a great yogī and a very learned brāhmaṇa, but despite his being a real yogī he was unable to understand the influence of a Vaiṣṇava. Therefore it is said, vaiṣṇavera kriyā mudrā vijñeha bujhaya: even the most learned person cannot understand the value of a Vaiṣṇava. There is always a possibility for so-called jñānīs and yogīs to be mistaken when studying the character of a Vaiṣṇava. A Vaiṣṇava can be understood by how much he is favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead in terms of his inconceivable activities.
karmāvadātam etat te
gāyanti svaḥ-striyo muhuḥ
kīrtiṁ parama-puṇyāṁ ca
kīrtayiṣyati bhūr iyam
karma—activity; avadātam—without any tinge; etat—all this; te—your; gāyanti—will sing; svaḥ-striyaḥ—women from the heavenly planets; muhuḥ—always; kīrtim—glories; parama-puṇyām—highly glorified and pious; ca—also; kīrtayiṣyati—will continuously chant; bhūḥ—the whole world; iyam—this.
All the blessed women in the heavenly planets will continuously chant about your spotless character at every moment, and the people of this world will also chant your glories continuously.
śrī-śuka uvāca
evaṁ saṅkīrtya rājānaṁ
durvāsāḥ paritoṣitaḥ
yayau vihāyasāmantrya
brahmalokam ahaitukam
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; evam—thus; saṅkīrtya—glorifying; rājānam—the King; durvāsāḥ—the great mystic yogī Durvāsā Muni; paritoṣitaḥ—being satisfied in all respects; yayau—left that place; vihāyasā—by the spaceways; āmantrya—taking permission; brahmalokam—to the topmost planet of this universe; ahaitukam—where there is no dry philosophical speculation.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: Thus being satisfied in all respects, the great mystic yogī Durvāsā took permission and left, continuously glorifying the King. Through the skyways, he went to Brahmaloka, which is devoid of agnostics and dry philosophical speculators.
Although Durvāsā Muni went back to Brahmaloka through the spaceways, he did not need an airplane, for great mystic yogīs can transport themselves from any planet to any other without any machine. There is a planet named Siddhaloka whose inhabitants can go to any other planet because they naturally have all the perfection of yoga practice. Thus Durvāsā Muni, the great mystic yogī, could go through the skyways to any planet, even to Brahmaloka. In Brahmaloka, everyone is self-realized, and thus there is no need of philosophical speculation to come to the conclusion of the Absolute Truth. Durvāsā Muni’s purpose in going to Brahmaloka was apparently to speak to the residents of Brahmaloka about how powerful a devotee is and how a devotee can surpass every living entity within this material world. The so-called jñānīs and yogīs cannot compare to a devotee.
saṁvatsaro ’tyagāt tāvad
yāvatā nāgato gataḥ
munis tad-darśanākāṅkṣo
rājāb-bhakṣo babhūva ha
saṁvatsaraḥ—one complete year; atyagāt—passed; tāvat—as long as; yāvatā—so long; na—not; āgataḥ—returned; gataḥ—Durvāsā Muni, who had left that place; muniḥ—the great sage; tat-darśana-ākāṅkṣaḥ—desiring to see him again; rājā—the King; ap-bhakṣaḥ—taking only water; babhūva—remained; ha—indeed.
Durvāsā Muni had left the place of Mahārāja Ambarīṣa, and as long as he had not returned—for one complete year—the King had fasted, maintaining himself simply by drinking water.
gate ’tha durvāsasi so ’mbarīṣo
dvijopayogātipavitram āharat
ṛṣer vimokṣaṁ vyasanaṁ ca vīkṣya
mene sva-vīryaṁ ca parānubhāvam
gate—on his return; atha—then; durvāsasi—the great mystic yogī Durvāsā; saḥ—he, the King; ambarīṣaḥMahārāja Ambarīṣa; dvija-upayoga—most suitable for a pure brāhmaṇa; ati-pavitram—very pure food; āharat—gave him to eat and he also ate; ṛṣeḥ—of the great sage; vimokṣam—release; vyasanam—from the great danger of being burned by the Sudarśana cakra; ca—and; vīkṣya—seeing; mene—considered; sva-vīryam—about his own power; ca—also; para-anubhāvam—because of his pure devotion to the Supreme Lord.
After one year, when Durvāsā Muni had returned, King Ambarīṣa sumptuously fed him all varieties of pure food, and then he himself also ate. When the King saw that the brāhmaṇa Durvāsā had been released from the great danger of being burned, he could understand that by the grace of the Lord he himself was also powerful, but he did not take any credit, for everything had been done by the Lord.
A devotee like Mahārāja Ambarīṣa is certainly always busy in many activities. Of course, this material world is full of dangers that one has to meet, but a devotee, because of his full dependence on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is never disturbed. The vivid example is Mahārāja Ambarīṣa. He was the emperor of the entire world and had many duties to perform, and in the course of these duties there were many disturbances created by persons like Durvāsā Muni, but the King tolerated everything, patiently depending fully on the mercy of the Lord. The Lord, however, is situated in everyone’s heart (sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭaḥ), and He manages things as He desires. Thus although Mahārāja Ambarīṣa was faced with many disturbances, the Lord, being merciful to him, managed things so nicely that in the end Durvāsā Muni and Mahārāja Ambarīṣa became great friends and parted cordially on the basis of bhakti-yoga. After all, Durvāsā Muni was convinced of the power of bhakti-yoga, although he himself was a great mystic yogī. Therefore, as stated by Lord Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad-gītā (6.47):
“Of all yogīs, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all.” Thus it is a fact that a devotee is the topmost yogī, as proved in the dealings of Mahārāja Ambarīṣa with Durvāsā Muni.
evaṁ vidhāneka-guṇaḥ sa rājā
parātmani brahmaṇi vāsudeve
kriyā-kalāpaiḥ samuvāha bhaktiṁ
yayāviriñcyān nirayāṁś cakāra
evam—in this way; vidhā-aneka-guṇaḥ—endowed with varieties of good qualities; saḥ—he, Mahārāja Ambarīṣa; rājā—the King; para-ātmani—unto the Supersoul; brahmaṇi—unto Brahman; vāsudeve—unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, Vāsudeva; kriyā-kalāpaiḥ—by practical activities; samuvāha—executed; bhaktim—devotional service; yayā—by such activities; āviriñcyān—beginning from the topmost planet; nirayān—down to the hellish planets; cakāra—he experienced that there is danger everywhere.
In this way, because of devotional service, Mahārāja Ambarīṣa, who was endowed with varieties of transcendental qualities, was completely aware of Brahman, Paramātmā and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and thus he executed devotional service perfectly. Because of his devotion, he thought even the topmost planet of this material world no better than the hellish planets.
An exalted and pure devotee like Mahārāja Ambarīṣa is in full awareness of Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān; in other words, a devotee of Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa, is in full knowledge of the other features of the Absolute Truth. The Absolute Truth is realized in three features—Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān (brahmeti paramātmeti bhagavān iti śabdyate). A devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vāsudeva, knows everything (vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti [Bg. 7.19]) because Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa, includes both Paramātmā and Brahman. One does not have to realize Paramātmā by the yoga system, for the devotee always thinking of Vāsudeva is the topmost yogī (yoginām api sarveṣām [Bg. 6.47]). And as far as jñāna is concerned, if one is a perfect devotee of Vāsudeva, he is the greatest mahātmā (vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ [Bg. 7.19]). A mahātmā is one who has full knowledge of the Absolute Truth. Thus Mahārāja Ambarīṣa, being a devotee of the personality of Godhead, was in full awareness of Paramātmā, Brahman, māyā, the material world, the spiritual world, and how things are going on everywhere. Everything was known to him. Yasmin vijñāte sarvam evaṁ vijñātaṁ bhavati. Because the devotee knows Vāsudeva, he knows everything within the creation of Vāsudeva (vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ [Bg. 7.19]). Such a devotee does not give much value to the highest standard of happiness within this material world.
nārāyaṇa-parāḥ sarve
na kutaścana bibhyati
api tulyārtha-darśinaḥ
(Bhāg. 6.17.28)
Because he is fixed in devotional service, a devotee does not regard any position in the material world as important. Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī has therefore written (Caitanya-candrāmṛta 5):
kaivalyaṁ narakāyate tri-daśa-pūr ākāśa-puṣpāyate
durdāntendriya-kāla-sarpa-paṭalī protkhāta-daṁṣṭrāyate
viśvaṁ pūrṇa-sukhāyate vidhi-mahendrādiś ca kīṭāyate
yat-kāruṇya-katākṣa-vaibhavavatāṁ taṁ gauram eva stumaḥ
For one who becomes a pure devotee through devotional service to great personalities like Caitanya Mahāprabhu, kaivalya, or merging into Brahman, appears no better than hell. As far as the heavenly planets are concerned, to a devotee they are like a phantasmagoria or will-o’-the-wisp, and as far as yogic perfection is concerned, a devotee does not care a fig for such perfection, since the purpose of yogic perfection is achieved automatically by the devotee. This is all possible when one becomes a devotee of the Lord through the medium of Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s instructions.
śrī-śuka uvāca
athāmbarīṣas tanayeṣu rājyaṁ
samāna-śīleṣu visṛjya dhīraḥ
vanaṁ viveśātmani vāsudeve
mano dadhad dhvasta-guṇa-pravāhaḥ
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; atha—in this way; ambarīṣaḥ—King Ambarīṣa; tanayeṣu—unto his sons; rājyam—the kingdom; samāna-śīleṣu—who were equally as qualified as their father; visṛjya—dividing; dhīraḥ—the most learned person, Mahārāja Ambarīṣa; vanam—into the forest; viveśa—entered; ātmani—unto the Supreme Lord; vāsudeve—Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is known as Vāsudeva; manaḥ—mind; dadhat—concentrating; dhvasta—vanquished; guṇa-pravāhaḥ—the waves of the material modes of nature.
Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: Thereafter, because of his advanced position in devotional life, Mahārāja Ambarīṣa, who no longer desired to live with material things, retired from active family life. He divided his property among his sons, who were equally as qualified, and he himself took the order of vānaprastha and went to the forest to concentrate his mind fully upon Lord Vāsudeva.
As a pure devotee, Mahārāja Ambarīṣa was liberated in any condition of life because, as enunciated by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, a devotee is always liberated.
In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī thus instructs that if one’s only desire is service to the Lord, he is liberated in any condition of life. Mahārāja Ambarīṣa was undoubtedly liberated in any condition, but as an ideal king he accepted the vānaprastha order of retirement from family life. It is essential for one to renounce family responsibilities and fully concentrate on the lotus feet of Vāsudeva. Therefore Mahārāja Ambarīṣa divided the kingdom among his sons and retired from family life.
ity etat puṇyam ākhyānam
ambarīṣasya bhūpate
saṅkīrtayann anudhyāyan
bhakto bhagavato bhavet
iti—thus; etat—this; puṇyam ākhyānam—most pious activity in history; ambarīṣasya—of Mahārāja Ambarīṣa; bhūpate—O King (Mahārāja Parīkṣit); saṅkīrtayan—by chanting, repeating; anudhyāyan—or by meditating upon; bhaktaḥ—a devotee; bhagavataḥ—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; bhavet—one can become.
Anyone who chants this narration or even thinks of this narration about the activities of Mahārāja Ambarīṣa certainly becomes a pure devotee of the Lord.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura herein gives a very good example. When one is very eager for more and more money, he is not satisfied even when he is a millionaire or a multimillionaire, but wants to earn more and more money by any means. The same mentality is present in a devotee. The devotee is never satisfied, thinking, “This is the limit of my devotional service.” The more he engages in the service of the Lord, the more service he wants to give. This is the position of a devotee. Mahārāja Ambarīṣa, in his family life, was certainly a pure devotee, complete in every respect, because his mind and all his senses were engaged in devotional service (sa vai manaḥ kṛṣṇa-padāravindayor vacāṁsi vaikuṇṭha-guṇānuvarṇane). Mahārāja Ambarīṣa was self-satisfied because all of his senses were engaged in devotional service (sarvopādhi-vinirmuktaṁ tat-paratvena nirmalam/ hṛṣīkeṇa hṛṣīkeśa-sevanaṁ bhaktir ucyate [Cc. Madhya 19.170]). Nonetheless, although Mahārāja Ambarīṣa had engaged all his senses in devotional service, he left his home and went to the forest to concentrate his mind fully at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, exactly as a mercantile man, even though complete in wealth, tries to earn more and more. This mentality of getting more and more engaged in devotional service puts one in the most exalted position. Whereas on the karma platform the mercantile man who wants more and more money becomes increasingly bound and entangled, the devotee becomes increasingly liberated.
ambarīṣasya caritaṁ
ye śṛṇvanti mahātmanaḥ
muktiṁ prayānti te sarve
bhaktyā viṣṇoḥ prasādataḥ
ambarīṣasya—of Mahārāja Ambarīṣa; caritam—character; ye—persons who; śṛṇvanti—hear; mahā-ātmanaḥ—of the great personality, the great devotee; muktim—liberation; prayānti—certainly they attain; te—such persons; sarve—all of them; bhaktyā—simply by devotional service; viṣṇoḥ—of Lord Viṣṇu; prasādataḥ—by the mercy.
By the grace of the Lord, those who hear about the activities of Mahārāja Ambarīṣa, the great devotee, certainly become liberated or become devotees without delay.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Ninth Canto, Fifth Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled “Durvāsā Muni’s Life Spared.”

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