Chapter One : Questions by the Sages O my Lord, Sri Krishna, son of Vasudeva, O all-pervading Personality of Godhead, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You. I meditate upon Lord Sri Krishna because He is the Absolute Truth and the primeval cause of all causes of the creation, sustenance and destruction of the manifested universes. He is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations, and He is independent because there is no other cause beyond Him. It is He only who first imparted the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahmaji, the original living being. By Him even the great sages and demigods are placed into illusion, as one is bewildered by the illusory representations of water seen in fire, or land seen on water. Only because of Him do the material universes, temporarily manifested by the reactions of the three modes of nature, appear factual, although they are unreal. I therefore meditate upon Him, Lord Sri Krishna, who is eternally existent in the transcendental abode, which is forever free from the illusory representations of the material world. I meditate upon Him, for He is the Absolute Truth. Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhagavata Purana propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are fully pure in heart. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all. Such truth uproots the threefold miseries. This beautiful Bhagavatam, compiled by the great sage Vyasadeva [in his maturity], is sufficient in itself for God realization. What is the need of any other scripture? As soon as one attentively and submissively hears the message of Bhagavatam, by this culture of knowledge the Supreme Lord is established within his heart. O expert and thoughtful men, relish Srimad-Bhagavatam, the mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literatures. It emanated from the lips of Sri Sukadeva Gosvami. Therefore this fruit has become even more tasteful, although its nectarean juice was already relishable for all, including liberated souls. Once, in a holy place in the forest of Naimisaranya, great sages headed by the sage Saunaka assembled to perform a great thousand-year sacrifice for the satisfaction of the Lord and His devotees. One day, after finishing their morning duties by burning a sacrificial fire and offering a seat of esteem to Srila Suta Gosvami, the great sages made inquiries, with great respect, about the following matters. The sages said: Respected Suta Gosvami, you are completely free from all vice. You are well versed in all the scriptures famous for religious life, and in the Puranas and the histories as well, for you have gone through them under proper guidance and have also explained them. Being the eldest learned Vedantist, O Suta Gosvami, you are acquainted with the knowledge of Vyasadeva, who is the incarnation of Godhead, and you also know other sages who are fully versed in all kinds of physical and metaphysical knowledge. And because you are submissive, your spiritual masters have endowed you with all the favors bestowed upon a gentle disciple. Therefore you can tell us all that you have scientifically learned from them. Please, therefore, being blessed with many years, explain to us, in an easily understandable way, what you have ascertained to be the absolute and ultimate good for the people in general. O learned one, in this iron age of Kali men have but short lives. They are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky and, above all, always disturbed. There are many varieties of scriptures, and in all of them there are many prescribed duties, which can be learned only after many years of study in their various divisions. Therefore, O sage, please select the essence of all these scriptures and explain it for the good of all living beings, that by such instruction their hearts may be fully satisfied. All blessings upon you, O Suta Gosvami. You know for what purpose the Personality of Godhead appeared in the womb of Devaki as the son of Vasudeva. O Suta Gosvami, we are eager to learn about the Personality of Godhead and His incarnations. Please explain to us those teachings imparted by previous masters [acaryas], for one is uplifted both by speaking them and by hearing them. Living beings who are entangled in the complicated meshes of birth and death can be freed immediately by even unconsciously chanting the holy name of Krishna, which is feared by fear personified. O Suta, those great sages who have completely taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord can at once sanctify those who come in touch with them, whereas the waters of the Ganges can sanctify only after prolonged use. Who is there, desiring deliverance from the vices of the age of quarrel, who is not willing to hear the virtuous glories of the Lord? His transcendental acts are magnificent and gracious, and great learned sages like Narada sing of them. Please, therefore, speak to us, who are eager to hear about the adventures He performs in His various incarnations. O wise Suta, please narrate to us the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Godhead's multi-incarnations. Such auspicious adventures and pastimes of the Lord, the supreme controller, are performed by His internal powers. We never tire of hearing the transcendental pastimes of the Personality of Godhead, who is glorified by hymns and prayers. Those who have developed a taste for transcendental relationships with Him relish hearing of His pastimes at every moment. Lord Sri Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, along with Balarama, played like a human being, and so masked He performed many superhuman acts. Knowing well that the age of Kali has already begun, we are assembled here in this holy place to hear at great length the transcendental message of Godhead and in this way perform sacrifice. We think that we have met Your Goodness by the will of providence, just so that we may accept you as captain of the ship for those who desire to cross the difficult ocean of Kali, which deteriorates all the good qualities of a human being. Since Sri Krishna, the Absolute Truth, the master of all mystic powers, has departed for His own abode, please tell us to whom the religious principles have now gone for shelter. Chapter Two : Divinity and Divine Service Ugrasrava [Suta Gosvami], the son of Romaharsana, being fully satisfied by the perfect questions of the brahmanas, thanked them and thus attempted to reply. Srila Suta Gosvami said: Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto that great sage [Sukadeva Gosvami] who can enter the hearts of all. When he went away to take up the renounced order of life [sannyasa], leaving home without undergoing reformation by the sacred thread or the ceremonies observed by the higher castes, his father, Vyasadeva, fearing separation from him, cried out, "O my son!" Indeed, only the trees, which were absorbed in the same feelings of separation, echoed in response to the begrieved father. Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto him [Suka], the spiritual master of all sages, the son of Vyasadeva, who, out of his great compassion for those gross materialists who struggle to cross over the darkest regions of material existence, spoke this most confidential supplement to the cream of Vedic knowledge, after having personally assimilated it by experience. Before reciting this Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is the very means of conquest, one should offer respectful obeisances unto the Personality of Godhead, Narayana, unto Nara-narayana Rsi, the supermost human being, unto mother Sarasvati, the goddess of learning, and unto Srila Vyasadeva, the author. O sages, I have been justly questioned by you. Your questions are worthy because they relate to Lord Krishna and so are of relevance to the world's welfare. Only questions of this sort are capable of completely satisfying the self. The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self. By rendering devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, one immediately acquires causeless knowledge and detachment from the world. The occupational activities a man performs according to his own position are only so much useless labor if they do not provoke attraction for the message of the Personality of Godhead. All occupational engagements are certainly meant for ultimate liberation. They should never be performed for material gain. Furthermore, according to sages, one who is engaged in the ultimate occupational service should never use material gain to cultivate sense gratification. Life's desires should never be directed toward sense gratification. One should desire only a healthy life, or self-preservation, since a human being is meant for inquiry about the Absolute Truth. Nothing else should be the goal of one's works. Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramatma or Bhagavan. The seriously inquisitive student or sage, well equipped with knowledge and detachment, realizes that Absolute Truth by rendering devotional service in terms of what he has heard from the Vedanta-sruti. O best among the twice-born, it is therefore concluded that the highest perfection one can achieve by discharging the duties prescribed for one's own occupation according to caste divisions and orders of life is to please the Personality of Godhead. Therefore, with one-pointed attention, one should constantly hear about, glorify, remember and worship the Personality of Godhead, who is the protector of the devotees. With sword in hand, intelligent men cut through the binding knots of reactionary work [karma] by remembering the Personality of Godhead. Therefore, who will not pay attention to His message? O twice-born sages, by serving those devotees who are completely freed from all vice, great service is done. By such service, one gains affinity for hearing the messages of Vasudeva. Sri Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone's heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who has developed the urge to hear His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted. By regular attendance in classes on the Bhagavatam and by rendering of service to the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is almost completely destroyed, and loving service unto the Personality of Godhead, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact. As soon as irrevocable loving service is established in the heart, the effects of nature's modes of passion and ignorance, such as lust, desire and hankering, disappear from the heart. Then the devotee is established in goodness, and he becomes completely happy. Thus established in the mode of unalloyed goodness, the man whose mind has been enlivened by contact with devotional service to the Lord gains positive scientific knowledge of the Personality of Godhead in the stage of liberation from all material association. Thus the knot in the heart is pierced, and all misgivings are cut to pieces. The chain of fruitive actions is terminated when one sees the self as master. Certainly, therefore, since time immemorial, all transcendentalists have been rendering devotional service to Lord Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, with great delight, because such devotional service is enlivening to the self. The transcendental Personality of Godhead is indirectly associated with the three modes of material nature, namely passion, goodness and ignorance, and just for the material world's creation, maintenance and destruction He accepts the three qualitative forms of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Of these three, all human beings can derive ultimate benefit from Vishnu, the form of the quality of goodness. Firewood is a transformation of earth, but smoke is better than the raw wood. And fire is still better, for by fire we can derive the benefits of superior knowledge [through Vedic sacrifices]. Similarly, passion [rajas] is better than ignorance [tamas], but goodness [sattva] is best because by goodness one can come to realize the Absolute Truth. Previously all the great sages rendered service unto the Personality of Godhead due to His existence above the three modes of material nature. They worshiped Him to become free from material conditions and thus derive the ultimate benefit. Whoever follows such great authorities is also eligible for liberation from the material world. Those who are serious about liberation are certainly nonenvious, and they respect all. Yet they reject the horrible and ghastly forms of the demigods and worship only the all-blissful forms of Lord Vishnu and His plenary portions. Those who are in the modes of passion and ignorance worship the forefathers, other living beings and the demigods who are in charge of cosmic activities, for they are urged by a desire to be materially benefited with women, wealth, power and progeny. In the revealed scriptures, the ultimate object of knowledge is Sri Krishna, the Personality of Godhead. The purpose of performing sacrifice is to please Him. Yoga is for realizing Him. All fruitive activities are ultimately rewarded by Him only. He is supreme knowledge, and all severe austerities are performed to know Him. Religion [dharma] is rendering loving service unto Him. He is the supreme goal of life. In the beginning of the material creation, that Absolute Personality of Godhead [Vasudeva], in His transcendental position, created the energies of cause and effect by His own internal energy. After creating the material substance, the Lord [Vasudeva] expands Himself and enters into it. And although He is within the material modes of nature and appears to be; one of the created beings, He is always fully enlightened in His transcendental position. The Lord, as Supersoul, pervades all things, just as fire permeates wood, and so He appears to be of many varieties, though He is the absolute one without a second. The Supersoul enters into the bodies of the created beings who are influenced by the modes of material nature and causes them to enjoy the effects of these modes by the subtle mind. Thus the Lord of the universes maintains all planets inhabited by demigods, men and lower animals. Assuming the roles of incarnations, He performs pastimes to reclaim those in the mode of pure goodness. Chapter Three : Krishna Is the Source of All Incarnations Suta said: In the beginning of the creation, the Lord first expanded Himself in the universal form of the purusa incarnation and manifested all the ingredients for the material creation. And thus at first there was the creation of the sixteen principles of material action. This was for the purpose of creating the material universe. A part of the purusa lies down within the water of the universe, from the navel lake of His body sprouts a lotus stem, and from the lotus flower atop this stem, Brahma, the master of all engineers in the universe, becomes manifest. It is believed that all the universal planetary systems are situated on the extensive body of the purusa, but He has nothing to do with the created material ingredients. His body is eternally in spiritual existence par excellence. The devotees, with their perfect eyes, see the transcendental form of the purusa who has thousands of legs, thighs, arms and faces--all extraordinary. In that body there are thousands of heads, ears, eyes and noses. They are decorated with thousands of helmets and glowing earrings and are adorned with garlands. This form [the second manifestation of the purusa] is the source and indestructible seed of multifarious incarnations within the universe. From the particles and portions of this form, different living entities, like demigods, men and others, are created. First of all, in the beginning of creation, there were the four unmarried sons of Brahma [the Kumaras], who, being situated in a vow of celibacy, underwent severe austerities for realization of the Absolute Truth. The supreme enjoyer of all sacrifices accepted the incarnation of a boar [the second incarnation], and for the welfare of the earth He lifted the earth from the nether regions of the universe. In the millennium of the rsis, the Personality of Godhead accepted the third empowered incarnation in the form of Devarsi Narada, who is a great sage among the demigods. He collected expositions of the Vedas which deal with devotional service and which inspire nonfruitive action. In the fourth incarnation, the Lord became Nara and Narayana, the twin sons of the wife of King Dharma. Thus He undertook severe and exemplary penances to control the senses. The fifth incarnation, named Lord Kapila, is foremost among perfected beings. He gave an exposition of the creative elements and metaphysics to Asuri Brahmana, for in course of time this knowledge had been lost. The sixth incarnation of the purusa was the son of the sage Atri. He was born from the womb of Anasuya, who prayed for an incarnation. He spoke on the subject of transcendence to Alarka, Prahlada and others [Yadu, Haihaya, etc.]. The seventh incarnation was Yajna, the son of Prajapati Ruci and his wife Akuti. He controlled the period during the change of the Svayambhuva Manu and was assisted by demigods such as His son Yama. The eighth incarnation was King Rsabha, son of King Nabhi and his wife Merudevi. In this incarnation the Lord showed the path of perfection, which is followed by those who have fully controlled their senses and who are honored by all orders of life. O brahmanas, in the ninth incarnation, the Lord, prayed for by sages, accepted the body of a king [Prthu] who cultivated the land to yield various produces, and for that reason the earth was beautiful and attractive. When there was a complete inundation after the period of the Caksusa Manu and the whole world was deep within water, the Lord accepted the form of a fish and protected Vaivasvata Manu, keeping him up on a boat. The eleventh incarnation of the Lord took the form of a tortoise whose shell served as a pivot for the Mandaracala Hill, which was being used as a churning rod by the theists and atheists of the universe. In the twelfth incarnation, the Lord appeared as Dhanvantari, and in the thirteenth He allured the atheists by the charming beauty of a woman and gave nectar to the demigods to drink. In the fourteenth incarnation, the Lord appeared as Nrsimha and bifurcated the strong body of the atheist Hiranyakasipu with His nails, just as a carpenter pierces cane. In the fifteenth incarnation, the Lord assumed the form of a dwarf-brahmana [Vamana] and visited the arena of sacrifice arranged by Maharaja Bali. Although at heart He was willing to regain the kingdom of the three planetary systems, He simply asked for a donation of three steps of land. In the sixteenth incarnation of the Godhead, the Lord [as Bhrgupati] annihilated the administrative class [ksatriyas] twenty-one times, being angry with them because of their rebellion against the brahmanas [the intelligent class]. Thereafter, in the seventeenth incarnation of Godhead, Sri Vyasadeva appeared in the womb of Satyavati through Parasara Muni, and he divided the one Veda into several branches and subbranches, seeing that the people in general were less intelligent. In the eighteenth incarnation, the Lord appeared as King Rama. In order to perform some pleasing work for the demigods, He exhibited superhuman powers by controlling the Indian Ocean and then killing the atheist King Ravana, who was on the other side of the sea. In the nineteenth and twentieth incarnations, the Lord advented Himself as Lord Balarama and Lord Krishna in the family of Vrsni [the Yadu dynasty], and by so doing He removed the burden of the world. Then, in the beginning of Kali-yuga, the Lord will appear as Lord Buddha, the son of Anjana, in the province of Gaya, just for the purpose of deluding those who are envious of the faithful theist. Thereafter, at the conjunction of two yugas, the Lord of the creation will take His birth as the Kalki incarnation and become the son of Vishnu Yasa. At this time the rulers of the earth will have degenerated into plunderers. O brahmanas, the incarnations of the Lord are innumerable, like rivulets flowing from inexhaustible sources of water. All the rsis, Manus, demigods and descendants of Manu, who are especially powerful, are plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord. This also includes the Prajapatis. All of the above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead. All of them appear on planets whenever there is a disturbance created by the atheists. The Lord incarnates to protect the theists. Whoever carefully recites the mysterious appearances of the Lord, with devotion in the morning and in the evening, gets relief from all miseries of life. The conception of the virat universal form of the Lord, as appearing in the material world, is imaginary. It is to enable the less intelligent [and neophytes] to adjust to the idea of the Lord's having form. But factually the Lord has no material form. Clouds and dust are carried by the air, but less intelligent persons say that the sky is cloudy and the air is dirty. Similarly, they also implant material bodily conceptions on the spirit self. Beyond this gross conception of form is another, subtle conception of form which is without formal shape and is unseen, unheard and unmanifest. The living being has his form beyond this subtlety, otherwise he could not have repeated births. Whenever a person experiences, by self-realization, that both the gross and subtle bodies have nothing to do with the pure self, at that time he sees himself as well as the Lord. If the illusory energy subsides and the living entity becomes fully enriched with knowledge by the grace of the Lord, then he becomes at once enlightened with self-realization and thus becomes situated in his own glory. Thus learned men describe the births and activities of the unborn and inactive, which is undiscoverable even in the Vedic literatures. He is the Lord of the heart. The Lord, whose activities are always spotless, is the master of the six senses and is fully omnipotent with six opulences. He creates the manifested universes, maintains them and annihilates them without being in the least affected. He is within every living being and is always independent. The foolish with a poor fund of knowledge cannot know the transcendental nature of the forms, names and activities of the Lord, who is playing like an actor in a drama. Nor can they express such things, neither in their speculations nor in their words. Only those who render unreserved, uninterrupted, favorable service unto the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, who carries the wheel of the chariot in His hand, can know the creator of the universe in His full glory, power and transcendence. Only by making such inquiries in this world can one be successful and perfectly cognizant, for such inquiries invoke transcendental ecstatic love unto the Personality of Godhead, who is the proprietor of all the universes, and guarantee cent-percent immunity from the dreadful repetition of birth and death. This Srimad-Bhagavatam is the literary incarnation of God, and it is compiled by Srila Vyasadeva, the incarnation of God. It is meant for the ultimate good of all people, and it is all-successful, all-blissful and all-perfect. Sri Vyasadeva delivered it to his son, who is the most respected among the self- realized, after extracting the cream of all Vedic literatures and histories of the universe. Sukadeva Gosvami, the son of Vyasadeva, in his turn delivered the Bhagavatam to the great Emperor Pariksit, who sat surrounded by sages on the bank of the Ganges, awaiting death without taking food or drink. This Bhagavata Purana is as brilliant as the sun, and it has arisen just after the departure of Lord Krishna to His own abode, accompanied by religion, knowledge, etc. Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness of ignorance in the age of Kali shall get light from this Purana. O learned brahmanas, when Sukadeva Gosvami recited Bhagavatam there [in the presence of Emperor Pariksit], I heard him with rapt attention, and thus, by his mercy, I learned the Bhagavatam from that great and powerful sage. Now I shall try to make you hear the very same thing as I learned it from him and as I have realized it. Chapter Four : The Appearance of Sri Narada On hearing Suta Gosvami speak thus, Saunaka Muni, who was the elderly, learned leader of all the rsis engaged in that prolonged sacrificial ceremony, congratulated Suta Gosvami by addressing him as follows. Saunaka said: O Suta Gosvami, you are the most fortunate and respected of all those who can speak and recite. Please relate the pious message of Srimad- Bhagavatam, which was spoken by the great and powerful sage Sukadeva Gosvami. In what period and at what place was this first begun, and why was this taken up? From where did Krishna-dvaipayana Vyasa, the great sage, get the inspiration to compile this literature? His [Vyasadeva's] son was a great devotee, an equibalanced monist, whose mind was always concentrated in monism. He was transcendental to mundane activities, but being unexposed, he appeared like an ignorant person. While Sri Vyasadeva was following his son, beautiful young damsels who were bathing naked covered their bodies with cloth, although Sri Vyasadeva himself was not naked. But they had not done so when his son had passed. The sage inquired about this, and the young ladies replied that his son was purified and when looking at them made no distinction between male and female. But the sage made such distinctions. How was he [Srila Sukadeva, the son of Vyasa] recognized by the citizens when he entered the city of Hastinapura [now Delhi], after wandering in the provinces of Kuru and Jangala, appearing like a madman, dumb and retarded? How did it so happen that King Pariksit met this great sage, making it possible for this great transcendental essence of the Vedas [Bhagavatam] to be sung to him? He [Sukadeva Gosvami] was accustomed to stay at the door of a householder only long enough for a cow to be milked. And he did this just to sanctify the residence. It is said that Maharaja Pariksit is a great first-class devotee of the Lord and that his birth and activities are all wonderful. Please tell us about him. He was a great emperor and possessed all the opulences of his acquired kingdom. He was so exalted that he was increasing the prestige of the Pandu dynasty. Why did he give up everything to sit down on the bank of the Ganges and fast until death? He was such a great emperor that all his enemies would come and bow down at his feet and surrender all their wealth for their own benefit. He was full of youth and strength, and he possessed insuperable kingly opulences. Why did he want to give up everything, including his life? Those who are devoted to the cause of the Personality of Godhead live only for the welfare, development and happiness of others. They do not live for any selfish interest. So even though the Emperor [Pariksit] was free from all attachment to worldly possessions, how could he give up his mortal body, which was shelter for others? We know that you are expert in the meaning of all subjects, except some portions of the Vedas, and thus you can clearly explain the answers to all the questions we have just put to you. Suta Gosvami said: When the second millennium overlapped the third, the great sage [Vyasadeva] was born to Parasara in the womb of Satyavati, the daughter of Vasu. Once upon a time he [Vyasadeva], as the sun rose, took his morning ablution in the waters of the Sarasvati and sat alone to concentrate. The great sage Vyasadeva saw anomalies in the duties of the millennium. This happens on the earth in different ages, due to unseen forces in the course of time. The great sage, who was fully equipped in knowledge, could see, through his transcendental vision, the deterioration of everything material, due to the influence of the age. He could also see that the faithless people in general would be reduced in duration of life and would be impatient due to lack of goodness. Thus he contemplated for the welfare of men in all statuses and orders of life. He saw that the sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas were means by which the people's occupations could be purified. And to simplify the process he divided the one Veda into four, in order to expand them among men. The four divisions of the original sources of knowledge [the Vedas] were made separately. But the historical facts and authentic stories mentioned in the Puranas are called the fifth Veda. After the Vedas were divided into four divisions, Paila Rsi became the professor of the Rg Veda, Jaimini the professor of the Sama Veda, and Vaisampayana alone became glorified by the Yajur Veda. The Sumantu Muni Angira, who was very devotedly engaged, was entrusted with the Atharva Veda. And my father, Romaharsana, was entrusted with the Puranas and historical record All these learned scholars, in their turn, rendered their entrusted Vedas unto their many disciples, grand-disciples and great grand-disciples, and thus the respective branches of the followers of the Vedas came into being. Thus the great sage Vyasadeva, who is very kind to the ignorant masses, edited the Vedas so they might be assimilated by less intellectual men. Out of compassion, the great sage thought it wise that this would enable men to achieve the ultimate goal of life. Thus he compiled the great historical narration called the Mahabharata for women, laborers and friends of the twice- born. O twice-born brahmanas, still his mind was not satisfied, although he engaged himself in working for the total welfare of all people. Thus the sage, being dissatisfied at heart, at once began to reflect, because he knew the essence of religion, and he said within himself: I have, under strict disciplinary vows, unpretentiously worshiped the Vedas, the spiritual master and the altar of sacrifice. I have also abided by the rulings and have shown the import of disciplic succession through the explanation of the Mahabharata, by which even women, sudras and others [friends of the twice-born] can see the path of religion. I am feeling incomplete, though I myself am fully equipped with everything required by the Vedas. This may be because I did not specifically point out the devotional service of the Lord, which is dear both to perfect beings and to the infallible Lord. As mentioned before, Narada reached the cottage of Krishnadvaipayana Vyasa on the banks of the Sarasvati just as Vyasadeva was regretting his defects. At the auspicious arrival of Sri Narada, Sri Vyasadeva got up respectfully and worshiped him, giving him veneration equal to that given to Brahmaji, the creator. Chapter Five : Narada's Instructions on Srimad-Bhagavatam for Vyasadeva Suta Gosvami said: Thus the sage amongst the gods [Narada], comfortably seated and apparently smiling, addressed the rsi amongst the brahmanas [Vedavyasa]. Addressing Vyasadeva, the son of Parasara, Narada inquired: Are you satisfied by identifying with the body or the mind as objects of self-realization? Your inquiries were full and your studies were also well fulfilled, and there is no doubt that you have prepared a great and wonderful work, the Mahabharata, which is full of all kinds of Vedic sequences elaborately explained. You have fully delineated the subject of impersonal Brahman as well as the knowledge derived therefrom. Why should you be despondent in spite of all this, thinking that you are undone, my dear prabhu? Sri Vyasadeva said: All you have said about me is perfectly correct. Despite all this, I am not pacified. I therefore question you about the root cause of my dissatisfaction, for you are a man of unlimited knowledge due to your being the offspring of one [Brahma] who is self-born [without mundane father and mother]. My lord! Everything that is mysterious is known to you because you worship the creator and destroyer of the material world and the maintainer of the spiritual world, the original Personality of Godhead, who is transcendental to the three modes of material nature. Like the sun, Your Goodness can travel everywhere in the three worlds, and like the air you can penetrate the internal region of everyone. As such, you are as good as the all-pervasive Supersoul. Please, therefore, find out the deficiency in me, despite my being absorbed in transcendence under disciplinary regulations and vows. Sri Narada said: You have not actually broadcast the sublime and spotless glories of the Personality of Godhead. That philosophy which does not satisfy the transcendental senses of the Lord is considered worthless. Although, great sage, you have very broadly described the four principles beginning with religious performances, you have not described the glories of the Supreme Personality, Vasudeva. Those words which do not describe the glories of the Lord, who alone can sanctify the atmosphere of the whole universe, are considered by saintly persons to be like unto a place of pilgrimage for crows. Since the all-perfect persons are inhabitants of the transcendental abode, they do not derive any pleasure there. On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world's misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest. Knowledge of self-realization, even though free from all material affinity, does not look well if devoid of a conception of the Infallible [God]. What, then, is the use of fruitive activities, which are naturally painful from the very beginning and transient by nature, if they are not utilized for the devotional service of the Lord? O Vyasadeva, your vision is completely perfect. Your good fame is spotless. You are firm in vow and situated in truthfulness. And thus you can think of the pastimes of the Lord in trance for the liberation of the people in general from all material bondage. Whatever you desire to describe that is separate in vision from the Lord simply reacts, with different forms, names and results, to agitate the mind as the wind agitates a boat which has no resting place. The people in general are naturally inclined to enjoy, and you have encouraged them in that way in the name of religion. This is verily condemned and is quite unreasonable. Because they are guided under your instructions, they will accept such activities in the name of religion and will hardly care for prohibitions. The Supreme Lord is unlimited. Only a very expert personality, retired from the activities of material happiness, deserves to understand this knowledge of spiritual values. Therefore those who are not so well situated, due to material attachment, should be shown the ways of transcendental realization, by Your Goodness, through descriptions of the transcendental activities of the Supreme Lord. One who has forsaken his material occupations to engage in the devotional service of the Lord may sometimes fall down while in an immature stage, yet there is no danger of his being unsuccessful. On the other hand, a nondevotee, though fully engaged in occupational duties, does not gain anything. Persons who are actually intelligent and philosophically inclined should endeavor only for that purposeful end which is not obtainable even by wandering from the topmost planet [Brahmaloka] down to the lowest planet [Patala]. As far as happiness derived from sense enjoyment is concerned, it can be obtained automatically in course of time, just as in course of time we obtain miseries even though we do not desire them. My dear Vyasa, even though a devotee of Lord Krishna sometimes falls down somehow or other, he certainly does not undergo material existence like others [fruitive workers, etc.] because a person who has once relished the taste of the lotus feet of the Lord can do nothing but remember that ecstasy again and again. The Supreme Lord Personality of Godhead is Himself this cosmos, and still He is aloof from it. From Him only has this cosmic manifestation emanated, in Him it rests, and unto Him it enters after annihilation. Your good self knows all about this. I have given only a synopsis. Your Goodness has perfect vision. You yourself can know the Supersoul Personality of Godhead because you are present as the plenary portion of the Lord. Although you are birthless, you have appeared on this earth for the well- being of all people. Please, therefore, describe the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna more vividly. Learned circles have positively concluded that the infallible purpose of the advancement of knowledge, namely austerities, study of the Vedas, sacrifice, chanting of hymns and charity, culminates in the transcendental descriptions of the Lord, who is defined in choice poetry. O muni, in the last millennium I was born as the son of a certain maidservant engaged in the service of brahmanas who were following the principles of Vedanta. When they were living together during the four months of the rainy season, I was engaged in their personal service. Although they were impartial by nature, those followers of the Vedanta blessed me with their causeless mercy. As far as I was concerned, I was self-controlled and had no attachment for sports, even though I was a boy. In addition, I was not naughty, and I did not speak more than required. Once only, by their permission, I took the remnants of their food, and by so doing all my sins were at once eradicated. Thus being engaged, I became purified in heart, and at that time the very nature of the transcendentalist became attractive to me. O Vyasadeva, in that association and by the mercy of those great Vedantists, I could hear them describe the attractive activities of Lord Krishna And thus listening attentively, my taste for hearing of the Personality of Godhead increased at every step. O great sage, as soon as I got a taste for the Personality of Godhead, my attention to hear of the Lord was unflinching. And as my taste developed, I could realize that it was only in my ignorance that I had accepted gross and subtle coverings, for both the Lord and I are transcendental. Thus during two seasons--the rainy season and autumn--I had the opportunity to hear these great-souled sages constantly chant the unadulterated glories of the Lord Hari. As the flow of my devotional service began, the coverings of the modes of passion and ignorance vanished. I was very much attached to those sages. I was gentle in behavior, and all my sins were eradicated in their service. In my heart I had strong faith in them. I had subjugated the senses, and I was strictly following them with body and mind. As they were leaving, those bhakti-vedantas, who are very kind to poor-hearted souls, instructed me in that most confidential subject which is instructed by the Personality of Godhead Himself. By that confidential knowledge, I could understand clearly the influence of the energy of Lord Sri Krishna, the creator, maintainer and annihilator of everything. By knowing that, one can return to Him and personally meet Him. O Brahmana Vyasadeva, it is decided by the learned that the best remedial measure for removing all troubles and miseries is to dedicate one's activities to the service of the Supreme Lord Personality of Godhead [Sri Krishna]. O good soul, does not a thing, applied therapeutically, cure a disease which was caused by that very same thing? Thus when all a man's activities are dedicated to the service of the Lord, those very activities which caused his perpetual bondage become the destroyer of the tree of work. Whatever work is done here in this life for the satisfaction of the mission of the Lord is called bhakti-yoga, or transcendental loving service to the Lord, and what is called knowledge becomes a concomitant factor. While performing duties according to the order of Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one constantly remembers Him, His names and His qualities. Let us all chant the glories of Vasudeva along with His plenary expansions Pradyumna, Aniruddha and Sankarsana. Thus he is the actual seer who worships, in the form of transcendental sound representation, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu, who has no material form. O brahmana, thus by the Supreme Lord Krishna I was endowed first with the transcendental knowledge of the Lord as inculcated in the confidential parts of the Vedas, then with the spiritual opulences, and then with His intimate loving service. Please, therefore, describe the Almighty Lord's activities which you have learned by your vast knowledge of the Vedas, for that will satisfy the hankerings of great learned men and at the same time mitigate the miseries of the masses of common people who are always suffering from material pangs. Indeed, there is no other way to get out of such miseries. Chapter Six : Conversation Between Narada and Vyasadeva Suta said: O brahmanas, thus hearing all about Sri Narada's birth and activities, Vyasadeva, the incarnation of God and son of Satyavati, inquired as follows. Sri Vyasadeva said: What did you [Narada] do after the departure of the great sages who had instructed you in scientific transcendental knowledge before the beginning of your present birth? O son of Brahma, how did you pass your life after initiation, and how did you attain this body, having quit your old one in due course? O great sage, time annihilates everything in due course, so how is it that this subject matter, which happened prior to this day of Brahma, is still fresh in your memory, undisturbed by time? Sri Narada said: The great sages, who had imparted scientific knowledge of transcendence to me, departed for other places, and I had to pass my life in this way. I was the only son of my mother, who was not only a simple woman but a maidservant as well. Since I was her only offspring, she had no other alternative for protection: she bound me with the tie of affection. She wanted to look after my maintenance properly, but because she was not independent, she was not able to do anything for me. The world is under the full control of the Supreme Lord; therefore everyone is like a wooden doll in the hands of a puppet master. When I was a mere child of five years, I lived in a brahmana school. I was dependent on my mother's affection and had no experience of different lands. Once upon a time, my poor mother, when going out one night to milk a cow, was bitten on the leg by a serpent, influenced by supreme time. I took this as the special mercy of the Lord, who always desires benediction for His devotees, and so thinking, I started for the north. After my departure, I passed through many flourishing metropolises, towns, villages, animal farms, mines, agricultural lands, valleys, flower gardens, nursery gardens and natural forests. I passed through hills and mountains full of reservoirs of various minerals like gold, silver and copper, and through tracts of land with reservoirs of water filled with beautiful lotus flowers, fit for the denizens of heaven, decorated with bewildered bees and singing birds. I then passed alone through many forests of rushes, bamboo, reeds, sharp grass, weeds and caves, which were very difficult to go through alone. I visited deep, dark and dangerously fearful forests, which were the play yards of snakes, owls and jackals. Thus traveling, I felt tired, both bodily and mentally, and I was both thirsty and hungry. So I took a bath in a river lake and also drank water. By contacting water, I got relief from my exhaustion. After that, under the shadow of a banyan tree in an uninhabited forest I began to meditate upon the Supersoul situated within, using my intelligence, as I had learned from liberated souls. As soon as I began to meditate upon the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead with my mind transformed in transcendental love, tears rolled down my eyes, and without delay the Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna appeared on the lotus of my heart. O Vyasadeva, at that time, being exceedingly overpowered by feelings of happiness, every part of my body became separately enlivened. Being absorbed in an ocean of ecstasy, I could not see both myself and the Lord. The transcendental form of the Lord, as it is, satisfies the mind's desire and at once erases all mental incongruities. Upon losing that form, I suddenly got up, being perturbed, as is usual when one loses that which is desirable. I desired to see again that transcendental form of the Lord, but despite my attempts to concentrate upon the heart with eagerness to view the form again, I could not see Him any more, and thus dissatisfied, I was very much aggrieved. Seeing my attempts in that lonely place, the Personality of Godhead, who is transcendental to all mundane description, spoke to me with gravity and pleasing words, just to mitigate my grief. O Narada [the Lord spoke], I regret that during this lifetime you will not be able to see Me anymore. Those who are incomplete in service and who are not completely free from all material taints can hardly see Me. O virtuous one, you have only once seen My person, and this is just to increase your desire for Me, because the more you hanker for Me, the more you will be freed from all material desires. By service of the Absolute Truth, even for a few days, a devotee attains firm and fixed intelligence in Me. Consequently he goes on to become My associate in the transcendental world after giving up the present deplorable material worlds. Intelligence engaged in My devotion cannot be thwarted at any time. Even at the time of creation, as well as at the time of annihilation, your remembrance will continue by My mercy. Then that supreme authority, personified by sound and unseen by eyes, but most wonderful, stopped speaking. Feeling a sense of gratitude, I offered my obeisances unto Him, bowing my head. Thus I began chanting the holy name and fame of the Lord by repeated recitation, ignoring all the formalities of the material world. Such chanting and remembering of the transcendental pastimes of the Lord are benedictory. So doing, I traveled all over the earth, fully satisfied, humble and unenvious. And so, O Brahmana Vyasadeva, in due course of time I, who was fully absorbed in thinking of Krishna and who therefore had no attachments, being completely freed from all material taints, met with death, as lightning and illumination occur simultaneously. Having been awarded a transcendental body befitting an associate of the Personality of Godhead, I quit the body made of five material elements, and thus all acquired fruitive results of work [karma] stopped. At the end of the millennium, when the Personality of Godhead Lord Narayana lay down within the water of devastation, Brahma began to enter into Him along with all creative elements, and I also entered through His breathing. After 4,300,000,000 solar years, when Brahma awoke to create again by the will of the Lord, all the rsis like Marici, Angira, Atri and so on were created from the transcendental body of the Lord, and I also appeared along with them. Since then, by the grace of the almighty Vishnu, I travel everywhere without restriction both in the transcendental world and in the three divisions of the material world. This is because I am fixed in unbroken devotional service of the Lord. And thus I travel, constantly singing the transcendental message of the glories of the Lord, vibrating this instrument called a vina, which is charged with transcendental sound and which was given to me by Lord Krishna. The Supreme Lord Sri Krishna, whose glories and activities are pleasing to hear, at once appears on the seat of my heart, as if called for, as soon as I begin to chant His holy activities. It is personally experienced by me that those who are always full of cares and anxieties due to desiring contact of the senses with their objects can cross the ocean of nescience on a most suitable boat--the constant chanting of the transcendental activities of the Personality of Godhead. It is true that by practicing restraint of the senses by the yoga system one can get relief from the disturbances of desire and lust, but this is not sufficient to give satisfaction to the soul, for this [satisfaction] is derived from devotional service to the Personality of Godhead. O Vyasadeva, you are freed from all sins. Thus I have explained my birth and activities for self-realization, as you asked. All this will be conducive for your personal satisfaction also. Suta Gosvami said: Thus addressing Vyasadeva, Srila Narada Muni took leave of him, and vibrating on his vina instrument, he left to wander at his free will. All glory and success to Srila Narada Muni because he glorifies the activities of the Personality of Godhead, and so doing he himself takes pleasure and also enlivens all the distressed souls of the universe. Chapter Seven : The Son of Drona Punished Rsi Saunaka asked: O Suta, the great and transcendentally powerful Vyasadeva heard everything from Sri Narada Muni. So after Narada's departure, what did Vyasadeva do? Sri Suta said: On the western bank of the River Sarasvati, which is intimately related with the Vedas, there is a cottage for meditation at Samyaprasa which enlivens the transcendental activities of the sages. In that place, Srila Vyasadeva, in his own asrama, which was surrounded by berry trees, sat down to meditate after touching water for purification. Thus he fixed his mind, perfectly engaging it by linking it in devotional service [bhakti-yoga] without any tinge of materialism, and thus he saw the Absolute Personality of Godhead along with His external energy, which was under full control. Due to this external energy, the living entity, although transcendental to the three modes of material nature, thinks of himself as a material product and thus undergoes the reactions of material miseries. The material miseries of the living entity, which are superfluous to him, can be directly mitigated by the linking process of devotional service. But the mass of people do not know this, and therefore the learned Vyasadeva compiled this Vedic literature, which is in relation to the Supreme Truth. Simply by giving aural reception to this Vedic literature, the feeling for loving devotional service to Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, sprouts up at once to extinguish the fire of lamentation, illusion and fearfulness. The great sage Vyasadeva, after compiling the Srimad-Bhagavatam and revising it, taught it to his own son, Sri Sukadeva Gosvami, who was already engaged in self- realization. Sri Saunaka asked Suta Gosvami: Sri Sukadeva Gosvami was already on the path of self-realization, and thus he was pleased with his own self. So why did he take the trouble to undergo the study of such a vast literature? All different varieties of atmaramas [those who take pleasure in atma, or spirit self], especially those established on the path of self-realization, though freed from all kinds of material bondage, desire to render unalloyed devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead. This means that the Lord possesses transcendental qualities and therefore can attract everyone, including liberated souls. Srila Sukadeva Gosvami, son of Srila Vyasadeva, was not only transcendentally powerful. He was also very dear to the devotees of the Lord. Thus he underwent the study of this great narration [Srimad-Bhagavatam]. Suta Gosvami thus addressed the rsis headed by Saunaka: Now I shall begin the transcendental narration of the Lord Sri Krishna and topics of the birth, activities and deliverance of King Pariksit, the sage amongst kings, as well as topics of the renunciation of the worldly order by the sons of Pandu. When the respective warriors of both camps, namely the Kauravas and the Pandavas, were killed on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra and the dead warriors obtained their deserved destinations, and when the son of Dhrtarastra fell down lamenting, his spine broken, being beaten by the club of Bhimasena, the son of Dronacarya [Asvatthama] beheaded the five sleeping sons of Draupadi and delivered them as a prize to his master, foolishly thinking that he would be pleased. Duryodhana, however, disapproved of the heinous act, and he was not pleased in the least. Draupadi, the mother of the five children of the Pandavas, after hearing of the massacre of her sons, began to cry in distress with eyes full of tears. Trying to pacify her in her great loss, Arjuna spoke to her thus: O gentle lady, when I present you with the head of that brahmana, after beheading him with arrows from my Gandiva bow, I shall then wipe the tears from your eyes and pacify you. Then, after burning your sons' bodies, you can take your bath standing on his head. Arjuna, who is guided by the infallible Lord as friend and driver, thus satisfied the dear lady by such statements. Then he dressed in armor and armed himself with furious weapons, and getting into his chariot, he set out to follow Asvatthama, the son of his martial teacher. Asvatthama, the murderer of the princes, seeing from a great distance Arjuna coming at him with great speed, fled in his chariot, panic stricken, just to save his life, as Brahma fled in fear from Shiva. When the son of the brahmana [Asvatthama] saw that his horses were tired, he considered that there was no alternative for protection outside of his using the ultimate weapon, the brahmastra [nuclear weapon]. Since his life was in danger, he touched water in sanctity and concentrated upon the chanting of the hymns for throwing nuclear weapons, although he did not know how to withdraw such weapons. Thereupon a glaring light spread in all directions. It was so fierce that Arjuna thought his own life in danger, and so he began to address Lord Sri Krishna. Arjuna said: O my Lord Sri Krishna, You are the almighty Personality of Godhead. There is no limit to Your different energies. Therefore only You are competent to instill fearlessness in the hearts of Your devotees. Everyone in the flames of material miseries can find the path of liberation in You only. You are the original Personality of Godhead who expands Himself all over the creations and is transcendental to material energy. You have cast away the effects of the material energy by dint of Your spiritual potency. You are always situated in eternal bliss and transcendental knowledge. And yet, though You are beyond the purview of the material energy, You execute the four principles of liberation characterized by religion and so on for the ultimate good of the conditioned souls. Thus You descend as an incarnation to remove the burden of the world and to benefit Your friends, especially those who are Your exclusive devotees and are rapt in meditation upon You. O Lord of lords, how is it that this dangerous effulgence is spreading all around? Where does it come from? I do not understand it. The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Know from Me that this is the act of the son of Drona. He has thrown the hymns of nuclear energy [brahmastra], and he does not know how to retract the glare. He has helplessly done this, being afraid of imminent death. O Arjuna, only another brahmastra can counteract this weapon. Since you are expert in the military science, subdue this weapon's glare with the power of your own weapon. Sri Suta Gosvami said: Hearing this from the Personality of Godhead, Arjuna touched water for purification, and after circumambulating Lord Sri Krishna, he cast his brahmastra weapon to counteract the other one. When the rays of the two brahmastras combined, a great circle of fire, like the disc of the sun, covered all outer space and the whole firmament of planets. All the population of the three worlds was scorched by the combined heat of the weapons. Everyone was reminded of the samvartaka fire which takes place at the time of annihilation. Thus seeing the disturbance of the general populace and the imminent destruction of the planets, Arjuna at once retracted both brahmastra weapons, as Lord Sri Krishna desired. Arjuna, his eyes blazing in anger like two red balls of copper, dexterously arrested the son of Gautami and bound him with ropes like an animal. After binding Asvatthama, Arjuna wanted to take him to the military camp. The Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna, looking on with His lotus eyes, spoke to angry Arjuna. Lord Sri Krishna said: O Arjuna, you should not show mercy by releasing this relative of a brahmana [brahma-bandhu], for he has killed innocent boys in their sleep. A person who knows the principles of religion does not kill an enemy who is careless, intoxicated, insane, asleep, afraid or devoid of his chariot. Nor does he kill a boy, a woman, a foolish creature or a surrendered soul. A cruel and wretched person who maintains his existence at the cost of others' lives deserves to be killed for his own well-being, otherwise he will go down by his own actions. Furthermore, I have personally heard you promise Draupadi that you would bring forth the head of the killer of her sons. This man is an assassin and murderer of your own family members. Not only that, but he has also dissatisfied his master. He is but the burnt remnants of his family. Kill him immediately. Suta Gosvami said: Although Krishna, who was examining Arjuna in religion, encouraged Arjuna to kill the son of Dronacarya, Arjuna, a great soul, did not like the idea of killing him, although Asvatthama was a heinous murderer of Arjuna's family members. After reaching his own camp, Arjuna, along with his dear friend and charioteer [Sri Krishna], entrusted the murderer unto his dear wife, who was lamenting for her murdered sons. Sri Suta Gosvami said: Draupadi then saw Asvatthama, who was bound with ropes like an animal and silent for having enacted the most inglorious murder. Due to her female nature, and due to her being naturally good and well-behaved, she showed him due respects as a brahmana. She could not tolerate Asvatthama's being bound by ropes, and being a devoted lady, she said: Release him, for he is a brahmana, our spiritual master. It was by Dronacarya's mercy that you learned the military art of throwing arrows and the confidential art of controlling weapons. He [Dronacarya] is certainly still existing, being represented by his son. His wife Krpi did not undergo a sati with him because she had a son. O most fortunate one who knows the principles of religion, it is not good for you to cause grief to glorious family members who are always respectable and worshipful. My lord, do not make the wife of Dronacarya cry like me. I am aggrieved for the death of my sons. She need not cry constantly like me. If the kingly administrative order, being unrestricted in sense control, offends the brahmana order and enrages them, then the fire of that rage burns up the whole body of the royal family and brings grief upon all. Suta Gosvami said: O brahmanas, King Yudhisthira fully supported the statements of the Queen, which were in accordance with the principles of religion and were justified, glorious, full of mercy and equity, and without duplicity. Nakula and Sahadeva [the younger brothers of the King] and also Satyaki, Arjuna, the Personality of Godhead Lord Sri Krishna, son of Devaki, and the ladies and others all unanimously agreed with the King. Bhima, however, disagreed with them and recommended killing this culprit who, in an angry mood, had murdered sleeping children for no purpose and for neither his nor his master's interest. Caturbhuja [the four-armed one], or the Personality of Godhead, after hearing the words of Bhima, Draupadi and others, saw the face of His dear friend Arjuna, and He began to speak as if smiling. The Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna said: A friend of a brahmana is not to be killed, but if he is an aggressor he must be killed. All these rulings are in the scriptures, and you should act accordingly. You have to fulfill your promise to your wife, and you must also act to the satisfaction of Bhimasena and Me. Just then Arjuna could understand the motive of the Lord by His equivocal orders, and thus with his sword he severed both hair and jewel from the head of Asvatthama. He [Asvatthama] had already lost his bodily luster due to infanticide, and now, moreover, having lost the jewel from his head, he lost even more strength. Thus he was unbound and driven out of the camp. Cutting the hair from his head, depriving him of his wealth and driving him from his residence are the prescribed punishments for the relative of a brahmana. There is no injunction for killing the body. Thereafter, the sons of Pandu and Draupadi, overwhelmed with grief, performed the proper rituals for the dead bodies of their relatives. Chapter Eight : Prayers by Queen Kunti and Pariksit Saved Suta Gosvami said: Thereafter the Pandavas, desiring to deliver water to the dead relatives who had desired it, went to the Ganges with Draupadi. The ladies walked in front. Having lamented over them and sufficiently offered Ganges water, they bathed in the Ganges, whose water is sanctified due to being mixed with the dust of the lotus feet of the Lord. There sat the King of the Kurus, Maharaja Yudhisthira, along with his younger brothers and Dhrtarastra, Gandhari, Kunti and Draupadi, all overwhelmed with grief. Lord Krishna was also there. Citing the stringent laws of the Almighty and their reactions upon living beings, Lord Sri Krishna and the munis began to pacify those who were shocked and affected. The clever Duryodhana and his party cunningly usurped the kingdom of Yudhisthira, who had no enemy. By the grace of the Lord, the recovery was executed, and the unscrupulous kings who joined with Duryodhana were killed by Him. Others also died, their duration of life having decreased for their rough handling of the hair of Queen Draupadi. Lord Sri Krishna caused three well-performed Asvamedha-yajnas [horse sacrifices] to be conducted by Maharaja Yudhisthira and thus caused his virtuous fame to be glorified in all directions, like that of Indra, who had performed one hundred such sacrifices. Lord Sri Krishna then prepared for His departure. He invited the sons of Pandu, after having been worshiped by the brahmanas, headed by Srila Vyasadeva. The Lord also reciprocated greetings. As soon as He seated Himself on the chariot to start for Dvaraka, He saw Uttara hurrying toward Him in fear. Uttara said: O Lord of lords, Lord of the universe! You are the greatest of mystics. Please protect me, for there is no one else who can save me from the clutches of death in this world of duality. O my Lord, You are all-powerful. A fiery iron arrow is coming towards me fast. My Lord, let it burn me personally, if You so desire, but please do not let it burn and abort my embryo. Please do me this favor, my Lord. Suta Gosvami said: Having patiently heard her words, Lord Sri Krishna, who is always very affectionate to His devotees, could at once understand that Asvatthama, the son of Dronacarya, had thrown the brahmastra to finish the last life in the Pandava family. O foremost among the great thinkers [munis] [Saunaka], seeing the glaring brahmastra proceeding towards them, the Pandavas took up their five respective weapons. The almighty Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, having observed that a great danger was befalling His unalloyed devotees, who were fully surrendered souls, at once took up His Sudarsana disc to protect them. The Lord of supreme mysticism, Sri Krishna, resides within everyone's heart as the Paramatma. As such, just to protect the progeny of the Kuru dynasty, He covered the embryo of Uttara by His personal energy. O Saunaka, although the supreme brahmastra weapon released by Asvatthama was irresistible and without check or counteraction, it was neutralized and foiled when confronted by the strength of Vishnu [Lord Krishna]. O brahmanas, do not think this to be especially wonderful in the activities of the mysterious and infallible Personality of Godhead. By His own transcendental energy, He maintains and annihilates all material things, although He Himself is unborn. Thus saved from the radiation of the brahmastra, Kunti, the chaste devotee of the Lord, and her five sons and Draupadi addressed Lord Krishna as He started for home. Srimati Kunti said: O Krishna, I offer my obeisances unto You because You are the original personality and are unaffected by the qualities of the material world. You are existing both within and without everything, yet You are invisible to all. Being beyond the range of limited sense perception, You are the eternally irreproachable factor covered by the curtain of deluding energy. You are invisible to the foolish observer, exactly as an actor dressed as a player is not recognized. You Yourself descend to propagate the transcendental science of devotional service unto the hearts of the advanced transcendentalists and mental speculators, who are purified by being able to discriminate between matter and spirit. How, then, can we women know You perfectly? Let me therefore offer my respectful obeisances unto the Lord, who has become the son of Vasudeva, the pleasure of Devaki, the boy of Nanda and the other cowherd men of Vrndavana, and the enlivener of the cows and the senses. My respectful obeisances are unto You, O Lord, whose abdomen is marked with a depression like a lotus flower, who are always decorated with garlands of lotus flowers, whose glance is as cool as the lotus and whose feet are engraved with lotuses. O Hrsikesa, master of the senses and Lord of lords, You have released Your mother, Devaki, who was long imprisoned and distressed by the envious King Kamsa, and me and my children from a series of constant dangers. My dear Krishna, Your Lordship has protected us from a poisoned cake, from a great fire, from cannibals, from the vicious assembly, from sufferings during our exile in the forest and from the battle where great generals fought. And now You have saved us from the weapon of Asvatthama. I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer see repeated births and deaths. My Lord, Your Lordship can easily be approached, but only by those who are materially exhausted. One who is on the path of [material] progress, trying to improve himself with respectable parentage, great opulence, high education and bodily beauty, cannot approach You with sincere feeling. My obeisances are unto You, who are the property of the materially impoverished. You have nothing to do with the actions and reactions of the material modes of nature. You are self-satisfied, and therefore You are the most gentle and are master of the monists. My Lord, I consider Your Lordship to be eternal time, the supreme controller, without beginning and end, the all-pervasive one. In distributing Your mercy, You are equal to everyone. The dissensions between living beings are due to social intercourse. O Lord, no one can understand Your transcendental pastimes, which appear to be human and are so misleading. You have no specific object of favor, nor do You have any object of envy. People only imagine that You are partial. Of course it is bewildering, O soul of the universe, that You work, though You are inactive, and that You take birth, though You are the vital force and the unborn. You Yourself descend amongst animals, men, sages and aquatics. Verily, this is bewildering. My dear Krishna, Yasoda took up a rope to bind You when You committed an offense, and Your perturbed eyes overflooded with tears, which washed the mascara from Your eyes. And You were afraid, though fear personified is afraid of You. This sight is bewildering to me. Some say that the Unborn is born for the glorification of pious kings, and others say that He is born to please King Yadu, one of Your dearest devotees. You appear in his family as sandalwood appears in the Malaya hills. Others say that since both Vasudeva and Devaki prayed for You, You have taken Your birth as their son. Undoubtedly You are unborn, yet You take Your birth for their welfare and to kill those who are envious of the demigods. Others say that the world, being overburdened like a boat at sea, is much aggrieved, and that Brahma, who is Your son, prayed for You, and so You have appeared to diminish the trouble. And yet others say that You appeared to rejuvenate the devotional service of hearing, remembering, worshiping and so on in order that the conditioned souls suffering from material pangs might take advantage and gain liberation. O Krishna, those who continuously hear, chant and repeat Your transcendental activities, or take pleasure in others' doing so, certainly see Your lotus feet, which alone can stop the repetition of birth and death. O my Lord, You have executed all duties Yourself. Are you leaving us today, though we are completely dependent on Your mercy and have no one else to protect us, now when all kings are at enmity with us? As the name and fame of a particular body is finished with the disappearance of the living spirit, similarly if You do not look upon us, all our fame and activities, along with the Pandavas and Yadus, will end at once. O Gadadhara [Krishna], our kingdom is now being marked by the impressions of Your feet, and therefore it appears beautiful. But when You leave, it will no longer be so. All these cities and villages are flourishing in all respects because the herbs and grains are in abundance, the trees are full of fruits, the rivers are flowing, the hills are full of minerals and the oceans full of wealth. And this is all due to Your glancing over them. O Lord of the universe, soul of the universe, O personality of the form of the universe, please, therefore, sever my tie of affection for my kinsmen, the Pandavas and the Vrsnis. O Lord of Madhu, as the Ganges forever flows to the sea without hindrance, let my attraction be constantly drawn unto You without being diverted to anyone else. O Krishna, O friend of Arjuna, O chief amongst the descendants of Vrsni, You are the destroyer of those political parties which are disturbing elements on this earth. Your prowess never deteriorates. You are the proprietor of the transcendental abode, and You descend to relieve the distresses of the cows, the brahmanas and the devotees. You possess all mystic powers, and You are the preceptor of the entire universe. You are the almighty God, and I offer You my respectful obeisances. Suta Gosvami said: The Lord, thus hearing the prayers of Kuntidevi, composed in choice words for His glorification, mildly smiled. That smile was as enchanting as His mystic power. Thus accepting the prayers of Srimati Kuntidevi, the Lord subsequently informed other ladies of His departure by entering the palace of Hastinapura. But upon preparing to leave, He was stopped by King Yudhisthira, who implored Him lovingly. King Yudhisthira, who was much aggrieved, could not be convinced, despite instructions by great sages headed by Vyasa and the Lord Krishna Himself, the performer of superhuman feats, and despite all historical evidence. King Yudhisthira, son of Dharma, overwhelmed by the death of his friends, was aggrieved just like a common, materialistic man. O sages, thus deluded by affection, he began to speak. King Yudhisthira said: O my lot! I am the most sinful man! Just see my heart, which is full of ignorance! This body, which is ultimately meant for others, has killed many, many phalanxes of men. I have killed many boys, brahmanas, well-wishers, friends, parents, preceptors and brothers. Though I live millions of years, I will not be relieved from the hell that awaits me for all these sins. There is no sin for a king who kills for the right cause, who is engaged in maintaining his citizens. But this injunction is not applicable to me. I have killed many friends of women, and I have thus caused enmity to such an extent that it is not possible to undo it by material welfare work. As it is not possible to filter muddy water through mud, or purify a wine- stained pot with wine, it is not possible to counteract the killing of men by sacrificing animals. Chapter Nine : The Passing Away of Bhismadeva in the Presence of Lord Krishna Suta Gosvami said: Being afraid for having killed so many subjects on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, Maharaja Yudhisthira went to the scene of the massacre. There, Bhismadeva was lying on a bed of arrows, about to pass away. At that time all his brothers followed him on beautiful chariots drawn by first- class horses decorated with gold ornaments. With them were Vyasa and rsis like Dhaumya [the learned priest of the Pandavas] and others. O sage amongst the brahmanas, Lord Sri Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, also followed, seated on a chariot with Arjuna. Thus King Yudhisthira appeared very aristocratic, like Kuvera surrounded by his companions [the Guhyakas]. Seeing him [Bhisma] lying on the ground, like a demigod fallen from the sky, the Pandava King Yudhisthira, along with his younger brothers and Lord Krishna, bowed down before him. Just to see the chief of the descendants of King Bharata [Bhisma], all the great souls in the universe, namely the rsis amongst the demigods, brahmanas and kings, all situated in the quality of goodness, were assembled there. All the sages like Parvata Muni, Narada, Dhaumya, Vyasa the incarnation of God, Brhadasva, Bharadvaja and Parasurama and disciples, Vasistha, Indrapramada, Trita, Grtsamada, Asita, Kaksivan, Gautama, Atri, Kausika and Sudarsana were present. And many others like Sukadeva Gosvami and other purified souls, Kasyapa and Angirasa and others, all accompanied by their respective disciples, arrived there. Bhismadeva, who was the best amongst the eight Vasus, received and welcomed all the great and powerful rsis who were assembled there, for he knew perfectly all the religious principles according to time and place. Lord Sri Krishna is situated in everyone's heart, yet He manifests His transcendental form by His internal potency. This very Lord was sitting before Bhismadeva, and since Bhismadeva knew of His glories, he worshiped Him duly. The sons of Maharaja Pandu were sitting silently nearby, overtaken with affection for their dying grandfather. Seeing this, Bhismadeva congratulated them with feeling. There were tears of ecstasy in his eyes, for he was overwhelmed by love and affection. Bhismadeva said: Oh, what terrible sufferings and what terrible injustices you good souls suffer for being the sons of religion personified. You did not deserve to remain alive under those tribulations, yet you were protected by the brahmanas, God and religion. As far as my daughter-in-law Kunti is concerned, upon the great General Pandu's death, she became a widow with many children, and therefore she suffered greatly. And when you were grown up she suffered a great deal also because of your actions. In my opinion, this is all due to inevitable time, under whose control everyone in every planet is carried, just as the clouds are carried by the wind. O how wonderful is the influence of inevitable time. It is irreversible-- otherwise, how can there be reverses in the presence of King Yudhisthira, the son of the demigod controlling religion; Bhima, the great fighter with a club; the great bowman Arjuna with his mighty weapon Gandiva; and above all, the Lord, the direct well-wisher of the Pandavas? O King, no one can know the plan of the Lord [Sri Krishna]. Even though great philosophers inquire exhaustively, they are bewildered. O best among the descendants of Bharata [Yudhisthira], I maintain, therefore, that all this is within the plan of the Lord. Accepting the inconceivable plan of the Lord, you must follow it. You are now the appointed administrative head, and, my lord, you should now take care of those subjects who are now rendered helpless. This Sri Krishna is no other than the inconceivable, original Personality of Godhead. He is the first Narayana, the supreme enjoyer. But He is moving amongst the descendants of King Vrsni just like one of us and He is bewildering us with His self-created energy. O King, Lord Shiva, Narada the sage amongst the demigods, and Kapila, the incarnation of Godhead, all know very confidentially about His glories through direct contact. O King, that personality whom, out of ignorance only, you thought to be your maternal cousin, your very dear friend, well-wisher, counselor, messenger, benefactor, etc., is that very Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna. Being the Absolute Personality of Godhead, He is present in everyone's heart. He is equally kind to everyone, and He is free from the false ego of differentiation. Therefore whatever He does is free from material inebriety. He is equibalanced. Yet, despite His being equally kind to everyone, He has graciously come before me while I am ending my life, for I am His unflinching servitor. The Personality of Godhead, who appears in the mind of the devotee by attentive devotion and meditation and by chanting of the holy name, releases the devotee from the bondage of fruitive activities at the time of his quitting the material body. May my Lord, who is four-handed and whose beautifully decorated lotus face, with eyes as red as the rising sun, is smiling, kindly await me at that moment when I quit this material body. Suta Gosvami said: Maharaja Yudhisthira, after hearing Bhismadeva speak in that appealing tone, asked him, in the presence of all the great rsis, about the essential principles of various religious duties. At Maharaja Yudhisthira's inquiry, Bhismadeva first defined all the classifications of castes and orders of life in terms of the individual's qualifications. Then he systematically, in twofold divisions, described counteraction by detachment and interaction by attachment. He then explained, by divisions, acts of charity, the pragmatic activities of a king and activities for salvation. Then he described the duties of women and devotees, both briefly and extensively. Then he described the occupational duties of different orders and statuses of life, citing instances from history, for he was himself well acquainted with the truth. While Bhismadeva was describing occupational duties, the sun's course ran into the northern hemisphere. This period is desired by mystics who die at their will. Thereupon that man who spoke on different subjects with thousands of meanings and who fought on thousands of battlefields and protected thousands of men, stopped speaking and, being completely freed from all bondage, withdrew his mind from everything else and fixed his wide-open eyes upon the original Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, who stood before him, four-handed, dressed in yellow garments that glittered and shined. By pure meditation, looking at Lord Sri Krishna, he at once was freed from all material inauspiciousness and was relieved of all bodily pains caused by the arrow wounds. Thus all the external activities of his senses at once stopped, and he prayed transcendentally to the controller of all living beings while quitting his material body. Bhismadeva said: Let me now invest my thinking, feeling and willing, which were so long engaged in different subjects and occupational duties, in the all- powerful Lord Sri Krishna. He is always self-satisfied, but sometimes, being the leader of the devotees, He enjoys transcendental pleasure by descending on the material world, although from Him only the material world is created. Sri Krishna is the intimate friend of Arjuna. He has appeared on this earth in His transcendental body, which resembles the bluish color of the tamala tree. His body attracts everyone in the three planetary systems [upper, middle and lower]. May His glittering yellow dress and His lotus face, covered with paintings of sandalwood pulp, be the object of my attraction, and may I not desire fruitive results. On the battlefield [where Sri Krishna attended Arjuna out of friendship], the flowing hair of Lord Krishna turned ashen due to the dust raised by the hoofs of the horses. And because of His labor, beads of sweat wetted His face. All these decorations, intensified by the wounds dealt by my sharp arrows, were enjoyed by Him. Let my mind thus go unto Sri Krishna. In obedience to the command of His friend, Lord Sri Krishna entered the arena of the Battlefield of Kuruksetra between the soldiers of Arjuna and Duryodhana, and while there He shortened the life spans of the opposite party by His merciful glance. This was done simply by His looking at the enemy. Let my mind be fixed upon that Krishna. When Arjuna was seemingly polluted by ignorance upon observing the soldiers and commanders before him on the battlefield, the Lord eradicated his ignorance by delivering transcendental knowledge. May His lotus feet always remain the object of my attraction. Fulfilling my desire and sacrificing His own promise, He got down from the chariot, took up its wheel, and ran towards me hurriedly, just as a lion goes to kill an elephant. He even dropped His outer garment on the way. May He, Lord Sri Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, who awards salvation, be my ultimate destination. On the battlefield He charged me, as if angry because of the wounds dealt by my sharp arrows. His shield was scattered, and His body was smeared with blood due to the wounds. At the moment of death, let my ultimate attraction be to Sri Krishna, the Personality of Godhead. I concentrate my mind upon the chariot driver of Arjuna who stood with a whip in His right hand and a bridle rope in His left, who was very careful to give protection to Arjuna's chariot by all means. Those who saw Him on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra attained their original forms after death. Let my mind be fixed upon Lord Sri Krishna, whose motions and smiles of love attracted the damsels of Vrajadhama [the gopis]. The damsels imitated the characteristic movements of the Lord [after His disappearance from the rasa dance]. At the Rajasuya-yajna [sacrifice] performed by Maharaja Yudhisthira, there was the greatest assembly of all the elite men of the world, the royal and learned orders, and in that great assembly Lord Sri Krishna was worshiped by one and all as the most exalted Personality of Godhead. This happened during my presence, and I remembered the incident in order to keep my mind upon the Lord. Now I can meditate with full concentration upon that one Lord, Sri Krishna, now present before me because now I have transcended the misconceptions of duality in regard to His presence in everyone's heart, even in the hearts of the mental speculators. He is in everyone's heart. The sun may be perceived differently, but the sun is one. Suta Gosvami said: Thus Bhismadeva merged himself in the Supersoul, Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, with his mind, speech, sight and actions, and thus he became silent, and his breathing stopped. Knowing that Bhismadeva had merged into the unlimited eternity of the Supreme Absolute, all present there became silent like birds at the end of the day. Thereafter, both men and demigods sounded drums in honor, and the honest royal order commenced demonstrations of honor and respect. And from the sky fell showers of flowers. O descendant of Bhrgu [Saunaka], after performing funeral rituals for the dead body of Bhismadeva, Maharaja Yudhisthira was momentarily overtaken with grief. All the great sages then glorified Lord Sri Krishna, who was present there, by confidential Vedic hymns. Then all of them returned to their respective hermitages, bearing always Lord Krishna within their hearts. Thereafter, Maharaja Yudhisthira at once went to his capital, Hastinapura, accompanied by Lord Sri Krishna, and there he consoled his uncle and aunt Gandhari, who was an ascetic. After this, the great religious King, Maharaja Yudhisthira, executed the royal power in the kingdom strictly according to the codes and royal principles approved by his uncle and confirmed by Lord Sri Krishna. Chapter Ten : Departure of Lord Krishna for Dvaraka Saunaka Muni asked: After killing his enemies who desired to usurp his rightful inheritance, how did the greatest of all religious men, Maharaja Yudhisthira, assisted by his brothers, rule his subjects? Surely he could not freely enjoy his kingdom with unrestricted consciousness. Suta Gosvami said: Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the maintainer of the world, became pleased after reestablishing Maharaja Yudhisthira in his own kingdom and after restoring the Kuru dynasty, which had been exhausted by the bamboo fire of anger. Maharaja Yudhisthira, after being enlightened by what was spoken by Bhismadeva and Lord Sri Krishna, the infallible, engaged himself in matters of perfect knowledge because all his misgivings were eradicated. Thus he ruled over the earth and seas and was followed by his younger brothers. During the reign of Maharaja Yudhisthira, the clouds showered all the water that people needed, and the earth produced all the necessities of man in profusion. Due to its fatty milk bag and cheerful attitude, the cow used to moisten the grazing ground with milk. The rivers, oceans, hills, mountains, forests, creepers and active drugs, in every season, paid their tax quota to the King in profusion. Because of the King's having no enemy, the living beings were not at any time disturbed by mental agonies, diseases, or excessive heat or cold. Sri Hari, Lord Sri Krishna, resided at Hastinapura for a few months to pacify His relatives and please His own sister [Subhadra]. Afterwards, when the Lord asked permission to depart and the King gave it, the Lord offered His respects to Maharaja Yudhisthira by bowing down at his feet, and the King embraced Him. After this the Lord, being embraced by others and receiving their obeisances, got into His chariot. At that time Subhadra, Draupadi, Kunti, Uttara, Gandhari, Dhrtarastra, Yuyutsu, Krpacarya, Nakula, Sahadeva, Bhimasena, Dhaumya and Satyavati all nearly fainted because it was impossible for them to bear separation from Lord Krishna. The intelligent, who have understood the Supreme Lord in association with pure devotees and have become freed from bad materialistic association, can never avoid hearing the glories of the Lord, even though they have heard them only once. How, then, could the Pandavas tolerate His separation, for they had been intimately associated with His person, seeing Him face to face, touching Him, conversing with Him, and sleeping, sitting and dining with Him? All their hearts were melting for Him on the pot of attraction. They looked at Him without blinking their eyes, and they moved hither and thither in perplexity. The female relatives, whose eyes were flooded with tears out of anxiety for Krishna, came out of the palace. They could stop their tears only with great difficulty. They feared that tears would cause misfortune at the time of departure. While the Lord was departing from the palace of Hastinapura, different types of drums --like the mrdanga, dhola, nagra, dhundhuri and dundubhi--and flutes of different types, the vina, gomukha and bheri, all sounded together to show Him honor. Out of a loving desire to see the Lord, the royal ladies of the Kurus got up on top of the palace, and smiling with affection and shyness, they showered flowers upon the Lord. At that time Arjuna, the great warrior and conqueror of sleep, who is the intimate friend of the most beloved Supreme Lord, took up an umbrella which had a handle of jewels and was embroidered with lace and pearls. Uddhava and Satyaki began to fan the Lord with decorated fans, and the Lord, as the master of Madhu, seated on scattered flowers, commanded them along the road. It was being heard here and there that the benedictions being paid to Krishna were neither befitting nor unbefitting because they were all for the Absolute, who was now playing the part of a human being. Absorbed in the thought of the transcendental qualities of the Lord, who is glorified in select poetry, the ladies on the roofs of all the houses of Hastinapura began to talk of Him. This talk was more attractive than the hymns of the Vedas. They said: Here He is, the original Personality of Godhead as we definitely remember Him. He alone existed before the manifested creation of the modes of nature, and in Him only, because He is the Supreme Lord, all living beings merge, as if sleeping at night, their energy suspended. The Personality of Godhead, again desiring to give names and forms to His parts and parcels, the living entities, placed them under the guidance of material nature. By His own potency, material nature is empowered to re-create. Here is the same Supreme Personality of Godhead whose transcendental form is experienced by the great devotees who are completely cleansed of material consciousness by dint of rigid devotional service and full control of life and the senses. And that is the only way to purify existence. O dear friends, here is that very Personality of Godhead whose attractive and confidential pastimes are described in the confidential parts of Vedic literature by His great devotees. It is He only who creates, maintains and annihilates the material world and yet remains unaffected. Whenever there are kings and administrators living like animals in the lowest modes of existence, the Lord in His transcendental form manifests His supreme power, the Truth Positive, shows special mercy to the faithful, performs wonderful activities and manifests various transcendental forms as is necessary in different periods and ages. Oh, how supremely glorified is the dynasty of King Yadu, and how virtuous is the land of Mathura, where the supreme leader of all living beings, the husband of the goddess of fortune, has taken His birth and wandered in His childhood. Undoubtedly it is wonderful that Dvaraka has defeated the glories of the heavenly planets and has enhanced the celebrity of the earth. The inhabitants of Dvaraka are always seeing the soul of all living beings [Krishna] in His loving feature. He glances at them and favors them with sweet smiles. O friends, just think of His wives, whose hands He has accepted. How they must have undergone vows, baths, fire sacrifices and perfect worship of the Lord of the universe to constantly relish now the nectar from His lips [by kissing]. The damsels of Vrajabhumi would often faint just by expecting such favors. The children of these ladies are Pradyumna, Samba, Amba, etc: Ladies like Rukmini, Satyabhama and Jambavati were forcibly taken away by Him from their svayamvara ceremonies after He defeated many powerful kings, headed by Sisupala. And other ladies were also forcibly taken away by Him after He killed Bhaumasura and thousands of his assistants. All of these ladies are glorious. All these women auspiciously glorified their lives despite their being without individuality and without purity. Their husband, the lotus-eyed Personality of Godhead, never left them alone at home. He always pleased their hearts by making valuable presentations. While the ladies of the capital of Hastinapura were greeting Him and talking in this way, the Lord, smiling, accepted their good greetings, and casting the grace of His glance over them, He departed from the city. Maharaja Yudhisthira, although no one's enemy, engaged four divisions of defense [horse, elephant, chariot and army] to accompany Lord Krishna, the enemy of the asuras [demons]. The Maharaja did this because of the enemy, and also out of affection for the Lord. Out of profound affection for Lord Krishna, the Pandavas, who were of the Kuru dynasty, accompanied Him a considerable distance to see Him off. They were overwhelmed with the thought of future separation. The Lord, however, persuaded them to return home, and He proceeded towards Dvaraka with His dear companions. O Saunaka, the Lord then proceeded towards Kurujangala, Pancala, Surasena, the land on the bank of the River Yamuna, Brahmavarta, Kuruksetra, Matsya, Sarasvata, the province of the desert and the land of scanty water. After crossing these provinces He gradually reached the Sauvira and Abhira provinces, then west of these, reached Dvaraka at last. On His journey through these provinces He was welcomed, worshiped and given various presentations. In the evening, in all places, the Lord suspended His journey to perform evening rites. This was regularly observed after sunset. Chapter Eleven : Lord Krishna's Entrance into Dvaraka Suta Gosvami said: Upon reaching the border of His most prosperous metropolis, known as the country of the Anartas [Dvaraka], the Lord sounded His auspicious conchshell, heralding His arrival and apparently pacifying the dejection of the inhabitants. The white and fat-boweled conchshell, being gripped by the hand of Lord Krishna and sounded by Him, appeared to be reddened by the touch of His transcendental lips. It seemed that a white swan was playing in the stems of red lotus flowers. The citizens of Dvaraka, having heard that sound which threatens fear personified in the material world, began to run towards Him fast, just to have a long desired audience with the Lord, who is the protector of all devotees. The citizens arrived before the Lord with their respective presentations, offering them to the fully satisfied and self-sufficient one, who, by His own potency, incessantly supplies others. These presentations were like the offering of a lamp to the sun. Yet the citizens began to speak in ecstatic language to receive the Lord, just as wards welcome their guardian and father. The citizens said: O Lord, You are worshiped by all demigods like Brahma, the four Sanas and even the King of heaven. You are the ultimate rest for those who are really aspiring to achieve the highest benefit of life. You are the supreme transcendental Lord, and inevitable time cannot exert its influence upon You. O creator of the universe, You are our mother, well-wisher, Lord, father, spiritual master and worshipable Deity. By following in Your footsteps we have become successful in every respect. We pray, therefore, that You continue to bless us with Your mercy. Oh, it is our good luck that we have come again today under Your protection by Your presence, for Your Lordship rarely visits even the denizens of heaven. Now it is possible for us to look into Your smiling face, which is full of affectionate glances. We can now see Your transcendental form, full of all auspiciousness. O lotus-eyed Lord, whenever You go away to Mathura, Vrndavana or Hastinapura to meet Your friends and relatives, every moment of Your absence seems like a million years. O infallible one, at that time our eyes become useless, as if bereft of sun. O master, if You live abroad all the time, then we cannot look at Your attractive face, whose smiles vanquish all our sufferings. How can we exist without Your presence? Upon hearing their speeches, the Lord, who is very kind to the citizens and the devotees, entered the city of Dvaraka and acknowledged all their greetings by casting His transcendental glance over them. As Bhogavati, the capital of Nagaloka, is protected by the Nagas, so was Dvaraka protected by the descendants of Vrsni--Bhoja, Madhu, Dasarha, Arha, Kukura, Andhaka, etc.--who were as strong as Lord Krishna. The city of Dvarakapuri was filled with the opulences of all seasons. There were hermitages, orchards, flower gardens, parks and reservoirs of water breeding lotus flowers all over. The city gateway, the household doors and festooned arches along the roads were all nicely decorated with festive signs like plantain trees and mango leaves, all to welcome the Lord. Flags, garlands and painted signs and slogans all combined to shade the sunshine. The highways, subways, lanes, markets and public meeting places were all thoroughly cleansed and then moistened with scented water. And to welcome the Lord, fruits, flowers and unbroken seeds were strewn everywhere. In each and every door of the residential houses, auspicious things like curd, unbroken fruits, sugarcane and full waterpots with articles for worship, incense and candles were all displayed. On hearing that the most dear Krishna was approaching Dvarakadhama, magnanimous Vasudeva, Akrura, Ugrasena, Balarama (the superhumanly powerful), Pradyumna, Carudesna and Samba the son of Jambavati, all extremely happy, abandoned resting, sitting and dining. They hastened toward the Lord on chariots with brahmanas bearing flowers. Before them were elephants, emblems of good fortune. Conchshells and bugles were sounded, and Vedic hymns were chanted. Thus they offered their respects, which were saturated with affection. At the same time, many hundreds of well-known prostitutes began to proceed on various vehicles. They were all very eager to meet the Lord, and their beautiful faces were decorated with dazzling earrings, which enhanced the beauty of their foreheads. Expert dramatists, artists, dancers, singers, historians, genealogists and learned speakers all gave their respective contributions, being inspired by the superhuman pastimes of the Lord. Thus they proceeded on and on. Lord Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, approached them and offered due honor and respect to each and every one of the friends, relatives, citizens and all others who came to receive and welcome Him. The Almighty Lord greeted everyone present by bowing His head, exchanging greetings, embracing, shaking hands, looking and smiling, giving assurances and awarding benedictions, even to the lowest in rank. Then the Lord personally entered the city accompanied by elderly relatives and invalid brahmanas with their wives, all offering benedictions and singing the glories of the Lord. Others also praised the glories of the Lord. When Lord Krishna passed over the public roads, all the ladies from the respectable families of Dvaraka went up to the roofs of their palaces just to have a look at the Lord. They considered this to be the greatest festival. The inhabitants of Dvaraka were regularly accustomed to look upon the reservoir of all beauty, the infallible Lord, yet they were never satiated. The Lord's chest is the abode of the goddess of fortune. His moonlike face is the drinking vessel for eyes which hanker after all that is beautiful. His arms are the resting places for the administrative demigods. And His lotus feet are the refuge of pure devotees who never talk or sing of any subject except His Lordship. As the Lord passed along the public road of Dvaraka, His head was protected from the sunshine by a white umbrella. White feathered fans moved in semicircles, and showers of flowers fell upon the road. His yellow garments and garlands of flowers made it appear as if a dark cloud were surrounded simultaneously by sun, moon, lightning and rainbows. After entering the house of His father, He was embraced by the mothers present, and the Lord offered His obeisances unto them by placing His head at their feet. The mothers were headed by Devaki [His real mother]. The mothers, after embracing their son, sat Him on their laps. Due to pure affection, milk sprang from their breasts. They were overwhelmed with delight, and the tears from their eyes wetted the Lord. Thereafter, the Lord entered His palaces, which were perfect to the fullest extent. His wives lived in them, and they numbered over sixteen thousand. The queens of Lord Sri Krishna rejoiced within their minds to see their husband home after a long period abroad. The queens got up at once from their seats and meditations. As was socially customary, they covered their faces shyly and looked about coyly. The insuperable ecstasy was so strong that the queens, who were shy, first embraced the Lord in the innermost recesses of their hearts. Then they embraced Him visually, and then they sent their sons to embrace Him [which is equal to personal embracing]. But, O chief amongst the Bhrgus, though they tried to restrain their feelings, they inadvertently shed tears. Although Lord Sri Krishna was constantly by their sides, as well as exclusively alone, His feet appeared to them to be newer and newer. The goddess of fortune, although by nature always restless and moving, could not quit the Lord's feet. So what woman can be detached from those feet, having once taken shelter of them? The Lord was pacified after killing those kings who were burdensome to the earth. They were puffed up with their military strength, their horses, elephants, chariots, infantry, etc. He Himself was not a party in the fight. He simply created hostility between the powerful administrators, and they fought amongst themselves. He was like the wind which causes friction between bamboos and so sparks a fire. That Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna, out of His causeless mercy, appeared on this planet by His internal potency and enjoyed Himself amongst competent women as if He were engaging in mundane affairs. Although the queens' beautiful smiles and furtive glances were all spotless and exciting, and although they could conquer Cupid himself by making him give up his bow in frustration, and although even the tolerant Shiva could fall victim to them, still, despite all their magical feats and attractions, they could not agitate the senses of the Lord. The common materialistic conditioned souls speculate that the Lord is one of them. Out of their ignorance they think that the Lord is affected by matter, although He is unattached. This is the divinity of the Personality of Godhead: He is not affected by the qualities of material nature, even though He is in contact with them. Similarly, the devotees who have taken shelter of the Lord do not become influenced by the material qualities. The simple and delicate women truly thought that Lord Sri Krishna, their beloved husband, followed them and was dominated by them. They were unaware of the extent of the glories of their husband, as the atheists are unaware of Him as the supreme controller. Chapter Twelve : Birth of Emperor Pariksit The sage Saunaka said: The womb of Uttara, mother of Maharaja Pariksit, was spoiled by the dreadful and invincible brahmastra weapon released by Asvatthama. But Maharaja Pariksit was saved by the Supreme Lord. How was the great emperor Pariksit, who was a highly intelligent and great devotee, born in that womb? How did his death take place, and what did he achieve after his death? We all respectfully want to hear about him [Maharaja Pariksit] to whom Sukadeva Gosvami imparted transcendental knowledge. Please speak on this matter. Sri Suta Gosvami said: Emperor Yudhisthira administered generously to everyone during his reign. He was exactly like his father. He had no personal ambition and was freed from all sorts of sense gratification because of his continuous service unto the lotus feet of the Lord Sri Krishna. News even reached the celestial planets about Maharaja Yudhisthira's worldly possessions, the sacrifices by which he would attain a better destination, his queen, his stalwart brothers, his extensive land, his sovereignty over the planet earth, and his fame, etc. O brahmanas, the opulence of the King was so enchanting that the denizens of heaven aspired for it. But because he was absorbed in the service of the Lord, nothing could satisfy him except the Lord's service. O son of Bhrgu [Saunaka], when the child Pariksit, the great fighter, was in the womb of his mother, Uttara, and was suffering from the burning heat of the brahmastra [thrown by Asvatthama], he could observe the Supreme Lord coming to him. He [the Lord] was only thumb high, but He was all transcendental. He had a very beautiful, blackish, infallible body, and He wore a dress of lightning yellow and a helmet of blazing gold. Thus He was seen by the child. The Lord was enriched with four hands, earrings of molten gold and eyes blood red with fury. As He loitered about, His club constantly encircled Him like a shooting star. The Lord was thus engaged in vanquishing the radiation of the brahmastra, just as the sun evaporates a drop of dew. He was observed by the child, who thought about who He was. While thus being observed by the child, the Supreme Lord Personality of Godhead, the Supersoul of everyone and the protector of the righteous, who stretches in all directions and who is unlimited by time and space, disappeared at once. Thereupon, when all the good signs of the zodiac gradually evolved, the heir apparent of Pandu, who would be exactly like him in prowess, took birth. King Yudhisthira, who was very satisfied with the birth of Maharaja Pariksit, had the purificatory process of birth performed. Learned brahmanas, headed by Dhaumya and Krpa, recited auspicious hymns. Upon the birth of a son, the King, who knew how, where and when charity should be given, gave gold, land, villages, elephants, horses and good food grains to the brahmanas. The learned brahmanas, who were very satisfied with the charities of the King, addressed him as the chief amongst the Purus and informed him that his son was certainly in the line of descent from the Purus. The brahmanas said: This spotless son has been restored by the all-powerful and all-pervasive Lord Vishnu, the Personality of Godhead, in order to oblige you. He was saved when he was doomed to be destroyed by an irresistible supernatural weapon. For this reason this child will be well known in the world as one who is protected by the Personality of Godhead. O most fortunate one, there is no doubt that this child will become a first-class devotee and will be qualified with all good qualities. The good King [Yudhisthira] inquired: O great souls, will he become as saintly a king, as pious in his very name and as famous and glorified in his achievements, as others who appeared in this great royal family? The learned brahmanas said: O son of Prtha, this child shall be exactly like King Iksvaku, son of Manu, in maintaining all those who are born. And as for following the brahminical principles, especially in being true to his promise, he shall be exactly like Rama, the Personality of Godhead, the son of Maharaja Dasaratha. This child will be a munificent donor of charity and protector of the surrendered, like the famous King Sibi of the Usinara country. And he will expand the name and fame of his family like Bharata, the son of Maharaja Dusyanta. Amongst great bowmen, this child will be as good as Arjuna. He will be as irresistible as fire and as unsurpassable as the ocean. This child will be as strong as a lion, and as worthy a shelter as the Himalaya Mountains. He will be forbearing like the earth, and as tolerant as his parents. This child will be like his grandfather Yudhisthira or Brahma in equanimity of mind. He will be munificent like the lord of the Kailasa Hill, Shiva. And he will be the resort of everyone, like the Supreme Personality of Godhead Narayana, who is even the shelter of the goddess of fortune. This child will be almost as good as Lord Sri Krishna by following in His footsteps. In magnanimity he will become as great as King Rantideva. And in religion he will be like Maharaja Yayati. This child will be like Bali Maharaja in patience, a staunch devotee of Lord Krishna like Prahlada Maharaja, a performer of many Asvamedha [horse] sacrifices and a follower of the old and experienced men. This child will be the father of kings who will be like sages. For world peace and for the sake of religion, he will be the chastiser of the upstarts and the quarrelsome. After hearing about his death, which will be caused by the bite of a snake-bird sent by a son of a brahmana, he will get himself freed from all material attachment and surrender unto the Personality of Godhead, taking shelter of Him. After inquiring about proper self-knowledge from the son of Vyasadeva, who will be a great philosopher, he will renounce all material attachment and achieve a life of fearlessness. Thus those who were expert in astrological knowledge and in performance of the birth ceremony instructed King Yudhisthira about the future history of his child. Then, being sumptuously remunerated, they all returned to their respective homes. So his son would become famous in the world as Pariksit [examiner] because he would come to examine all human beings in his search after that personality whom he saw before his birth. Thus he would come to constantly contemplate Him. As the moon, in its waxing fortnight, develops day after day, so the royal prince [Pariksit] very soon developed luxuriantly under the care and full facilities of his guardian grandfathers. Just at this time, King Yudhisthira was considering performing a horse sacrifice to get freed from sins incurred from fighting with kinsmen. But he became anxious to get some wealth, for there were no surplus funds outside of fines and tax collection. Understanding the hearty wishes of the King, his brothers, as advised by the infallible Lord Krishna, collected sufficient riches from the North [left by King Marutta]. By those riches, the King could procure the ingredients for three horse sacrifices. Thus the pious King Yudhisthira, who was very fearful after the Battle of Kuruksetra, pleased Lord Hari, the Personality of Godhead. Lord Sri Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, being invited to the sacrifices by Maharaja Yudhisthira, saw to it that they were performed by qualified [twice- born] brahmanas. After that, for the pleasure of the relatives, the Lord remained a few months. O Saunaka, thereafter the Lord, having bade farewell to King Yudhisthira, Draupadi and other relatives, started for the city of Dvaraka, accompanied by Arjuna and other members of the Yadu dynasty. Chapter Thirteen : Dhrtarastra Quits Home Sri Suta Gosvami said: While traveling on a pilgrimage, Vidura received knowledge of the destination of the self from the great sage Maitreya and then returned to Hastinapura. He became as well versed in the subject as he desired. After asking various questions and becoming established in the transcendental loving service of Lord Krishna, Vidura retired from putting questions to Maitreya Muni. When they saw Vidura return to the palace, all the inhabitants--Maharaja Yudhisthira, his younger brothers, Dhrtarastra, Satyaki, Sanjaya, Krpacarya, Kunti, Gandhari, Draupadi, Subhadra, Uttara, Krpi, many other wives of the Kauravas, and other ladies with children--all hurried to him in great delight. It so appeared that they had regained their consciousness after a long period. With great delight they all approached him, as if life had returned to their bodies. They exchanged obeisances and welcomed each other with embraces. Due to anxieties and long separation, they all cried out of affection. King Yudhisthira then arranged to offer sitting accommodations and a reception. After Vidura ate sumptuously and took sufficient rest, he was comfortably seated. Then the King began to speak to him, and all who were present there listened. Maharaja Yudhisthira said: My uncle, do you remember how you always protected us, along with our mother, from all sorts of calamities? Your partiality, like the wings of a bird, saved us from poisoning and arson. While traveling on the surface of the earth, how did you maintain your livelihood? At which holy places and pilgrimage sites did you render service? My Lord, devotees like your good self are verily holy places personified. Because you carry the Personality of Godhead within your heart, you turn all places into places of pilgrimage. My uncle, you must have visited Dvaraka. In that holy place are our friends and well-wishers, the descendants of Yadu, who are always rapt in the service of the Lord Sri Krishna. You might have seen them or heard about them. Are they all living happily in their abodes? Thus being questioned by Maharaja Yudhisthira, Mahatma Vidura gradually described everything he had personally experienced, except news of the annihilation of the Yadu dynasty. Compassionate Mahatma Vidura could not stand to see the Pandavas distressed at any time. Therefore he did not disclose this unpalatable and unbearable incident because calamities come of their own accord. Thus Mahatma Vidura, being treated just like a godly person by his kinsmen, remained there for a certain period just to rectify the mentality of his eldest brother and in this way bring happiness to all the others. As long as Vidura played the part of a sudra, being cursed by Manduka Muni, Aryama officiated at the post of Yamaraja to punish those who committed sinful acts. Having won his kingdom and observed the birth of one grandson competent to continue the noble tradition of his family, Maharaja Yudhisthira reigned peacefully and enjoyed uncommon opulence in cooperation with his younger brothers, who were all expert administrators to the common people. Insurmountable, eternal time imperceptibly overcomes those who are too much attached to family affairs and are always engrossed in their thought. Mahatma Vidura knew all this, and therefore he addressed Dhrtarastra, saying: My dear King, please get out of here immediately. Do not delay. Just see how fear has overtaken you. This frightful situation cannot be remedied by any person in this material world. My lord, it is the Supreme Personality of Godhead as eternal time [kala] that has approached us all. Whoever is under the influence of supreme kala [eternal time] must surrender his most dear life, and what to speak of other things, such as wealth, honor, children, land and home. Your father, brother, well-wishers and sons are all dead and passed away. You yourself have expended the major portion of your life, your body is now overtaken by invalidity, and you are living in the home of another. You have been blind from your very birth, and recently you have become hard of hearing. Your memory is shortened, and your intelligence is disturbed. Your teeth are loose, your liver is defective, and you are coughing up mucus. Alas, how powerful are the hopes of a living being to continue his life. Verily, you are living just like a household dog and are eating remnants of food given by Bhima. There is no need to live a degraded life and subsist on the charity of those whom you tried to kill by arson and poisoning. You also insulted one of their wives and usurped their kingdom and wealth. Despite your unwillingness to die and your desire to live even at the cost of honor and prestige, your miserly body will certainly dwindle and deteriorate like an old garment. He is called undisturbed who goes to an unknown, remote place and, freed from all obligations, quits his material body when it has become useless. He is certainly a first-class man who awakens and understands, either by himself or from others, the falsity and misery of this material world and thus leaves home and depends fully on the Personality of Godhead residing within his heart. Please, therefore, leave for the North immediately, without letting your relatives know, for soon that time will approach which will diminish the good qualities of men. Thus Maharaja Dhrtarastra, the scion of the family of Ajamidha, firmly convinced by introspective knowledge [prajna], broke at once the strong network of familial affection by his resolute determination. Thus he immediately left home to set out on the path of liberation, as directed by his younger brother Vidura. The gentle and chaste Gandhari, who was the daughter of King Subala of Kandahar [or Gandhara], followed her husband, seeing that he was going to the Himalaya Mountains, which are the delight of those who have accepted the staff of the renounced order like fighters who have accepted a good lashing from the enemy. Maharaja Yudhisthira, whose enemy was never born, performed his daily morning duties by praying, offering fire sacrifice to the sun-god, and offering obeisances, grains, cows, land and gold to the brahmanas. He then entered the palace to pay respects to the elderly. However, he could not find his uncles or aunt, the daughter of King Subala. Maharaja Yudhisthira, full of anxiety, turned to Sanjaya, who was sitting there, and said: O Sanjaya, where is our uncle, who is old and blind? Where is my well-wisher, uncle Vidura, and mother Gandhari, who is very afflicted due to all her sons' demise? My uncle Dhrtarastra was also very mortified due to the death of all his sons and grandsons. Undoubtedly I am very ungrateful. Did he, therefore, take my offenses very seriously and, along with his wife, drown himself in the Ganges? When my father, Pandu, fell down and we were all small children, these two uncles gave us protection from all kinds of calamities. They were always our good well-wishers. Alas, where have they gone from here? Suta Gosvami said: Because of compassion and mental agitation, Sanjaya, not having seen his own master, Dhrtarastra, was aggrieved and could not properly reply to Maharaja Yudhisthira. First he slowly pacified his mind by intelligence, and wiping away his tears and thinking of the feet of his master, Dhrtarastra, he began to reply to Maharaja Yudhisthira. Sanjaya said: My dear descendant of the Kuru dynasty, I have no information of the determination of your two uncles and Gandhari. O King, I have been cheated by those great souls. While Sanjaya was thus speaking, Sri Narada, the powerful devotee of the Lord, appeared on the scene carrying his tumburu. Maharaja Yudhisthira and his brothers received him properly by getting up from their seats and offering obeisances. Maharaja Yudhisthira said: O godly personality, I do not know where my two uncles have gone. Nor can I find my ascetic aunt who is grief-stricken by the loss of all her sons. You are like a captain of a ship in a great ocean and you can direct us to our destination. Thus addressed, the godly personality, Devarsi Narada, greatest of the philosopher devotees, began to speak. Sri Narada said: O pious King, do not lament for anyone, for everyone is under the control of the Supreme Lord. Therefore all living beings and their leaders carry on worship to be well protected. It is He only who brings them together and disperses them. As a cow, bound through the nose by a long rope, is conditioned, so also human beings are bound by different Vedic injunctions and are conditioned to obey the orders of the Supreme. As a player sets up and disperses his playthings according to his own sweet will, so the supreme will of the Lord brings men together and separates them. O King, in all circumstances, whether you consider the soul to be an eternal principle, or the material body to be perishable, or everything to exist in the impersonal Absolute Truth, or everything to be an inexplicable combination of matter and spirit, feelings of separation are due only to illusory affection and nothing more. Therefore give up your anxiety due to ignorance of the self. You are now thinking of how they, who are helpless poor creatures, will exist without you. This gross material body made of five elements is already under the control of eternal time [kala], action [karma] and the modes of material nature [guna]. How, then, can it, being already in the jaws of the serpent, protect others? Those who are devoid of hands are prey for those who have hands; those devoid of legs are prey for the four-legged. The weak are the subsistence of the strong, and the general rule holds that one living being is food for another. Therefore, O King, you should look to the Supreme Lord only, who is one without a second and who manifests Himself by different energies and is both within and without. That Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna, in the guise of all- devouring time [kala-rupa] has now descended on earth to eliminate the envious from the world. The Lord has already performed His duties to help the demigods, and He is awaiting the rest. You Pandavas may wait as long as the Lord is here on earth. O King, your uncle Dhrtarastra, his brother Vidura and his wife Gandhari have gone to the southern side of the Himalaya Mountains, where there are shelters of the great sages. The place is called Saptasrota ["divided by seven"] because there the waters of the sacred Ganges were divided into seven branches. This was done for the satisfaction of the seven great rsis. On the banks at Saptasrota, Dhrtarastra is now engaged in beginning astanga-yoga by bathing three times daily, in the morning, noon and evening, by performing the Agni-hotra sacrifice with fire and by drinking only water. This helps one control the mind and the senses and frees one completely from thoughts of familial affection. One who has controlled the sitting postures [the yogic asanas] and the breathing process can turn the senses toward the Absolute Personality of Godhead and thus become immune to the contaminations of the modes of material nature, namely mundane goodness, passion and ignorance. Dhrtarastra will have to amalgamate his pure identity with intelligence and then merge into the Supreme Being with knowledge of his qualitative oneness, as a living entity, with the Supreme Brahman. Being freed from the blocked sky, he will have to rise to the spiritual sky. He will have to suspend all the actions of the senses, even from the outside, and will have to be impervious to interactions of the senses, which are influenced by the modes of material nature. After renouncing all material duties, he must become immovably established, beyond all sources of hindrances on the path. O King, he will quit his body, most probably on the fifth day from today. And his body will turn to ashes. While outside observing her husband, who will burn in the fire of mystic power along with his thatched cottage, his chaste wife will enter the fire with rapt attention. Vidura, being affected with delight and grief, will then leave that place of sacred pilgrimage. Having spoken thus, the great sage Narada, along with his vina, ascended into outer space. Yudhisthira kept his instruction in his heart and so was able to get rid of all lamentations. Chapter Fourteen : The Disappearance of Lord Krishna Sri Suta Gosvami said: Arjuna went to Dvaraka to see Lord Sri Krishna and other friends and also to learn from the Lord of His next activities. A few months passed, and Arjuna did not return. Maharaja Yudhisthira then began to observe some inauspicious omens, which were fearful in themselves. He saw that the direction of eternal time had changed, and this was very fearful. There were disruptions in the seasonal regularities. The people in general had become very greedy, angry and deceitful. And he saw that they were adopting foul means of livelihood. All ordinary transactions and dealings became polluted with cheating, even between friends. And in familial affairs, there was always misunderstanding between fathers, mothers and sons, between well-wishers, and between brothers. Even between husband and wife there was always strain and quarrel. In course of time it came to pass that people in general became accustomed to greed, anger, pride, etc. Maharaja Yudhisthira, observing all these omens, spoke to his younger brother. Maharaja Yudhisthira said to his younger brother Bhimasena, I sent Arjuna to Dvaraka to meet his friends and to learn from the Personality of Godhead Krishna of His program of work. Since he departed, seven months have passed, yet he has not returned. I do not know factually how things are going there. Is He going to quit His earthly pastimes, as Devarsi Narada indicated? Has that time already arrived? From Him only, all our kingly opulence, good wives, lives, progeny, control over our subjects, victory over our enemies, and future accommodations in higher planets have become possible. All this is due to His causeless mercy upon us. Just see, O man with a tiger's strength, how many miseries due to celestial influences, earthly reactions and bodily pains--all very dangerous in themselves--are foreboding danger in the near future by deluding our intelligence. The left side of my body, my thighs, arms and eyes are all quivering again and again. I am having heart palpitations due to fear. All this indicates undesirable happenings. Just see, O Bhima, how the she jackal cries at the rising sun and vomits fire, and how the dog barks at me fearlessly. O Bhimasena, tiger amongst men, now useful animals like cows are passing me on my left side, and lower animals like the asses are circumambulating me. My horses appear to weep upon seeing me. Just see! This pigeon is like a messenger of death. The shrieks of the owls and their rival crows make my heart tremble. It appears that they want to make a void of the whole universe. Just see how the smoke encircles the sky. It appears that the earth and mountains are throbbing. Just hear the cloudless thunder and see the bolts from the blue. The wind blows violently, blasting dust everywhere and creating darkness. Clouds are raining everywhere with bloody disasters. The rays of the sun are declining, and the stars appear to be fighting amongst themselves. Confused living entities appear to be ablaze and weeping. Rivers, tributaries, ponds, reservoirs and the mind are all perturbed. Butter no longer ignites fire. What is this extraordinary time? What is going to happen? The calves do not suck the teats of the cows, nor do the cows give milk. They are standing, crying, tears in their eyes, and the bulls take no pleasure in the pasturing grounds. The Deities seem to be crying in the temple, lamenting and perspiring. They seem about to leave. All the cities, villages, towns, gardens, mines and hermitages are now devoid of beauty and bereft of all happiness. I do not know what sort of calamities are now awaiting us. I think that all these earthly disturbances indicate some greater loss to the good fortune of the world. The world was fortunate to have been marked with the footprints of the lotus feet of the Lord. These signs indicate that this will no longer be. O Brahmana Saunaka, while Maharaja Yudhisthira, observing the inauspicious signs on the earth at that time, was thus thinking to himself, Arjuna came back from the city of the Yadus [Dvaraka]. When he bowed at his feet, the King saw that his dejection was unprecedented. His head was down, and tears glided from his lotus eyes. Seeing Arjuna pale due to heartfelt anxieties, the King, remembering the indications of the sage Narada, questioned him in the midst of friends. Maharaja Yudhisthira said: My dear brother, please tell me whether our friends and relatives, such as Madhu, Bhoja, Dasarha, Arha, Satvata, Andhaka and the members of the Yadu family are all passing their days in happiness. Is my respectable grandfather Surasena in a happy mood? And are my maternal uncle Vasudeva and his younger brothers all doing well? His seven wives, headed by Devaki, are all sisters. Are they and their sons and daughters-in-law all happy? Are Ugrasena, whose son was the mischievous Kamsa, and his younger brother still living? Are Hrdika and his son Krtavarma happy? Are Akrura, Jayanta, Gada, Sarana and Satrujit all happy? How is Balarama, the Personality of Godhead and the protector of devotees? How is Pradyumna, the great general of the Vrsni family? Is He happy? And is Aniruddha, the plenary expansion of the Personality of Godhead, faring well? Are all the chieftain sons of Lord Krishna, such as Susena, Carudesna, Samba the son of Jambavati, and Rsabha, along with their sons, all doing well? Also, Srutadeva, Uddhava and others, Nanda, Sunanda and other leaders of liberated souls who are constant companions of the Lord are protected by Lord Balarama and Krishna. Are they all doing well in their respective functions? Do they, who are all eternally bound in friendship with us, remember our welfare? Is Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who gives pleasure to the cows, the senses and the brahmanas, who is very affectionate towards His devotees, enjoying the pious assembly at Dvaraka Puri surrounded by friends? The original Personality of Godhead, the enjoyer, and Balarama, the primeval Lord Ananta, are staying in the ocean of the Yadu dynasty for the welfare, protection and general progress of the entire universe. And the members of the Yadu dynasty, being protected by the arms of the Lord, are enjoying life like the residents of the spiritual sky. Simply by administering comforts at the lotus feet of the Lord, which is the most important of all services, the queens at Dvaraka, headed by Satyabhama, induced the Lord to conquer the demigods. Thus the queens enjoy things which are prerogatives of the wives of the controller of thunderbolts. The great heroes of the Yadu dynasty, being protected by the arms of Lord Sri Krishna, always remain fearless in every respect. And therefore their feet trample over the Sudharma assembly house, which the best demigods deserved but which was taken away from them. My brother Arjuna, please tell me whether your health is all right. You appear to have lost your bodily luster. Is this due to others disrespecting and neglecting you because of your long stay at Dvaraka? Has someone addressed you with unfriendly words or threatened you? Could you not give charity to one who asked, or could you not keep your promise to someone? You are always the protector of the deserving living beings, such as brahmanas, children, cows, women and the diseased. Could you not give them protection when they approached you for shelter? Have you contacted a woman of impeachable character, or have you not properly treated a deserving woman? Or have you been defeated on the way by someone who is inferior or equal to you? Have you not taken care of old men and boys who deserve to dine with you? Have you left them and taken your meals alone? Have you committed some unpardonable mistake which is considered to be abominable? Or is it that you are feeling empty for all time because you might have lost your most intimate friend, Lord Krishna? O my brother Arjuna, I can think of no other reason for your becoming so dejected. Chapter Fifteen : The Pandavas Retire Timely Suta Gosvami said: Arjuna, the celebrated friend of Lord Krishna, was grief- stricken because of his strong feeling of separation from Krishna, over and above all Maharaja Yudhisthira's speculative inquiries. Due to grief, Arjuna's mouth and lotuslike heart had dried up. Therefore his body lost all luster. Now, remembering the Supreme Lord, he could hardly utter a word in reply. With great difficulty he checked the tears of grief that smeared his eyes. He was very distressed because Lord Krishna was out of his sight, and he increasingly felt affection for Him. Remembering Lord Krishna and His well-wishes, benefactions, intimate familial relations and His chariot driving, Arjuna, overwhelmed and breathing very heavily, began to speak. Arjuna said: O King! The Supreme Personality of Godhead Hari, who treated me exactly like an intimate friend, has left me alone. Thus my astounding power, which astonished even the demigods, is no longer with me. I have just lost Him whose separation for a moment would render all the universes unfavorable and void, like bodies without life. Only by His merciful strength was I able to vanquish all the lusty princes assembled at the palace of King Drupada for the selection of the bridegroom. With my bow and arrow I could pierce the fish target and thereby gain the hand of Draupadi. Because He was near me, it was possible for me to conquer with great dexterity the powerful King of heaven, Indradeva, along with his demigod associates and thus enable the fire-god to devastate the Khandava Forest. And only by His grace was the demon named Maya saved from the blazing Khandava Forest, and thus we could build our assembly house of wonderful architectural workmanship, where all the princes assembled during the performance of Rajasuya-yajna and paid you tributes. Your respectable younger brother, who possesses the strength of ten thousand elephants, killed, by His grace, Jarasandha, whose feet were worshiped by many kings. These kings had been brought for sacrifice in Jarasandha's Mahabhairava- yajna, but they were thus released. Later they paid tribute to Your Majesty. It was He only who loosened the hair of all the wives of the miscreants who dared open the cluster of your Queen's hair, which had been nicely dressed and sanctified for the great Rajasuya sacrificial ceremony. At that time she fell down at the feet of Lord Krishna with tears in her eyes. During our exile, Durvasa Muni, who eats with his ten thousand disciples, intrigued with our enemies to put us in dangerous trouble. At that time He [Lord Krishna], simply by accepting the remnants of food, saved us. By His accepting food thus, the assembly of munis, while bathing in the river, felt sumptuously fed. And all the three worlds were also satisfied. It was by His influence only that in a fight I was able to astonish the personality of god Lord Shiva and his wife, the daughter of Mount Himalaya. Thus he [Lord Shiva] became pleased with me and awarded me his own weapon. Other demigods also delivered their respective weapons to me, and in addition I was able to reach the heavenly planets in this present body and was allowed a half- elevated seat. When I stayed for some days as a guest in the heavenly planets, all the heavenly demigods, including King Indradeva, took shelter of my arms, which were marked with the Gandiva bow, to kill the demon named Nivatakavaca. O King, descendant of Ajamidha, at the present moment I am bereft of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by whose influence I was so powerful. The military strength of the Kauravas was like an ocean in which there dwelled many invincible existences, and thus it was insurmountable. But because of His friendship, I, seated on the chariot, was able to cross over it. And only by His grace was I able to regain the cows and also collect by force many helmets of the kings which were bedecked with jewels that were sources of all brilliance. It was He only who withdrew the duration of life from everyone and who, in the battlefield, withdrew the speculative power and strength of enthusiasm from the great military phalanx made by the Kauravas, headed by Bhisma, Karna, Drona, Salya, etc. Their arrangement was expert and more than adequate, but He [Lord Sri Krishna], while going forward, did all this. Great generals like Bhisma, Drona, Karna, Bhurisrava, Susarma, Salya, Jayadratha, and Bahlika all directed their invincible weapons against me. But by His [Lord Krishna's] grace they could not even touch a hair on my head. Similarly, Prahlada Maharaja, the supreme devotee of Lord Nrsimhadeva, was unaffected by the weapons the demons used against him. It was by His mercy only that my enemies neglected to kill me when I descended from my chariot to get water for my thirsty horses. And it was due to my lack of esteem for my Lord that I dared engage Him as my chariot driver, for He is worshiped and offered services by the best men to attain salvation. O King! His jokings and frank talks were pleasing and beautifully decorated with smiles. His addresses unto me as "O son of Prtha, O friend, O son of the Kuru dynasty," and all such heartiness are now remembered by me, and thus I am overwhelmed. Generally both of us used to live together and sleep, sit and loiter together. And at the time of advertising oneself for acts of chivalry, sometimes, if there were any irregularity, I used to reproach Him by saying, "My friend, You are very truthful." Even in those hours when His value was minimized, He, being the Supreme Soul, used to tolerate all those utterings of mine, excusing me exactly as a true friend excuses his true friend, or a father excuses his son. O Emperor, now I am separated from my friend and dearmost well-wisher, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore my heart appears to be void of everything. In His absence I have been defeated by a number of infidel cowherd men while I was guarding the bodies of all the wives of Krishna. I have the very same Gandiva bow, the same arrows, the same chariot drawn by the same horses, and I use them as the same Arjuna to whom all the kings offered their due respects. But in the absence of Lord Krishna, all of them, at a moment's notice, have become null and void. It is exactly like offering clarified butter on ashes, accumulating money with a magic wand or sowing seeds on barren land. O King, since you have asked me about our friends and relatives in the city of Dvaraka, I will inform you that all of them were cursed by the brahmanas, and as a result they all became intoxicated with wine made of putrefied rice and fought among themselves with sticks, not even recognizing one another. Now all but four or five of them are dead and gone. Factually this is all due to the supreme will of the Lord, the Personality of Godhead. Sometimes people kill one another, and at other times they protect one another. O King, as in the ocean the bigger and stronger aquatics swallow up the smaller and weaker ones, so also the Supreme Personality of Godhead, to lighten the burden of the earth, has engaged the stronger Yadu to kill the weaker, and the bigger Yadu to kill the smaller. Now I am attracted to those instructions imparted to me by the Personality of Godhead [Govinda] because they are impregnated with instructions for relieving the burning heart in all circumstances of time and space. Suta Gosvami said: Thus being deeply absorbed in thinking of the instructions of the Lord, which were imparted in the great intimacy of friendship, and in thinking of His lotus feet, Arjuna's mind became pacified and free from all material contamination. Arjuna's constant remembrance of the lotus feet of Lord Sri Krishna rapidly increased his devotion, and as a result all the trash in his thoughts subsided. Because of the Lord's pastimes and activities and because of His absence, it appeared that Arjuna forgot the instructions left by the Personality of Godhead. But factually this was not the case, and again he became lord of his senses. Because of his possessing spiritual assets, the doubts of duality were completely cut off. Thus he was freed from the three modes of material nature and placed in transcendence. There was no longer any chance of his becoming entangled in birth and death, for he was freed from material form. Upon hearing of Lord Krishna's returning to His abode, and upon understanding the end of the Yadu dynasty's earthly manifestation, Maharaja Yudhisthira decided to go back home, back to Godhead. Kunti, after overhearing Arjuna's telling of the end of the Yadu dynasty and disappearance of Lord Krishna, engaged in the devotional service of the transcendental Personality of Godhead with full attention and thus gained release from the course of material existence. The supreme unborn, Lord Sri Krishna, caused the members of the Yadu dynasty to relinquish their bodies, and thus He relieved the burden of the world. This action was like picking out a thorn with a thorn, though both are the same to the controller. The Supreme Lord relinquished the body which He manifested to diminish the burden of the earth. Just like a magician, He relinquishes one body to accept different ones, like the fish incarnation and others. When the Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna, left this earthly planet in His selfsame form, from that very day Kali, who had already partially appeared, became fully manifest to create inauspicious conditions for those who are endowed with a poor fund of knowledge. Maharaja Yudhisthira was intelligent enough to understand the influence of the age of Kali, characterized by increasing avarice, falsehood, cheating and violence throughout the capital, state, home and among individuals. So he wisely prepared himself to leave home, and he dressed accordingly. Thereafter, in the capital of Hastinapura, he enthroned his grandson, who was trained and equally qualified, as the emperor and master of all land bordered by the seas. Then he posted Vajra, the son of Aniruddha [grandson of Lord Krishna], at Mathura as the King of Surasena. Afterwards Maharaja Yudhisthira performed a Prajapatya sacrifice and placed in himself the fire for quitting household life. Maharaja Yudhisthira at once relinquished all his garments, belt and ornaments of the royal order and became completely disinterested and unattached to everything. Then he amalgamated all the sense organs into the mind, then the mind into life, life into breathing, his total existence into the embodiment of the five elements, and his body into death. Then, as pure self, he became free from the material conception of life. Thus annihilating the gross body of five elements into the three qualitative modes of material nature, he merged them in one nescience and then absorbed that nescience in the self, Brahman, which is inexhaustible in all circumstances. After that, Maharaja Yudhisthira dressed himself in torn clothing, gave up eating all solid foods, voluntarily became dumb and let his hair hang loose. All this combined to make him look like an urchin or madman with no occupation. He did not depend on his brothers for anything. And, just like a deaf man, he heard nothing. He then started towards the north, treading the path accepted by his forefathers and great men, to devote himself completely to the thought of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And he lived in that way wherever he went. The younger brothers of Maharaja Yudhisthira observed that the age of Kali had already arrived throughout the world and that the citizens of the kingdom were already affected by irreligious practice. Therefore they decided to follow in the footsteps of their elder brother. They all had performed all the principles of religion and as a result rightly decided that the lotus feet of the Lord Sri Krishna are the supreme goal of all. Therefore they meditated upon His feet without interruption. Thus by pure consciousness due to constant devotional remembrance, they attained the spiritual sky, which is ruled over by the Supreme Narayana, Lord Krishna. This is attained only by those who meditate upon the one Supreme Lord without deviation. This abode of the Lord Sri Krishna, known as Goloka Vrndavana, cannot be attained by persons who are absorbed in the material conception of life. But the Pandavas, being completely washed of all material contamination, attained that abode in their very same bodies. Vidura, while on pilgrimage, left his body at Prabhasa. Because he was absorbed in thought of Lord Krishna, he was received by the denizens of Pitrloka planet, where he returned to his original post. Draupadi also saw that her husbands, without caring for her, were leaving home. She knew well about Lord Vasudeva, Krishna, the Personality of Godhead. Both she and Subhadra became absorbed in thoughts of Krishna and attained the same results as their husbands. The subject of the departure of the sons of Pandu for the ultimate goal of life, back to Godhead, is fully auspicious and is perfectly pure. Therefore anyone who hears this narration with devotional faith certainly gains the devotional service of the Lord, the highest perfection of life. Chapter Sixteen : How Pariksit Received the Age of Kali Suta Gosvami said: O learned brahmanas, Maharaja Pariksit then began to rule over the world as a great devotee of the Lord under the instructions of the best of the twice-born brahmanas. He ruled by those great qualities which were foretold by expert astrologers at the time of his birth. King Pariksit married the daughter of King Uttara and begot four sons, headed by Maharaja Janamejaya. Maharaja Pariksit, after having selected Krpacarya for guidance as his spiritual master, performed three horse sacrifices on the banks of the Ganges. These were executed with sufficient rewards for the attendants. And at these sacrifices, even the common man could see demigods. Once, when Maharaja Pariksit was on his way to conquer the world, he saw the master of Kali-yuga, who was lower than a sudra, disguised as a king and hurting the legs of a cow and bull. The King at once caught hold of him to deal sufficient punishment. Saunaka Rsi inquired: Why did Maharaja Pariksit simply punish him, since he was the lowest of the sudras, having dressed as a king and having struck a cow on the leg? Please describe all these incidents if they relate to the topics of Lord Krishna. The devotees of the Lord are accustomed to licking up the honey available from the lotus feet of the Lord. What is the use of topics which simply waste one's valuable life? O Suta Gosvami, there are those amongst men who desire freedom from death and get eternal life. They escape the slaughtering process by calling the controller of death, Yamaraja. As long as Yamaraja, who causes everyone's death, is present here, no one shall meet with death. The great sages have invited the controller of death, Yamaraja, who is the representative of the Lord. Living beings who are under his grip should take advantage by hearing the deathless nectar in the form of this narration of the transcendental pastimes of the Lord. Lazy human beings with paltry intelligence and a short duration of life pass the night sleeping and the day performing activities that are for naught. Suta Gosvami said: While Maharaja Pariksit was residing in the capital of the Kuru empire, the symptoms of the age of Kali began to infiltrate within the jurisdiction of his state. When he learned about this, he did not think the matter very palatable. This did, however, give him a chance to fight. He took up his bow and arrows and prepared himself for military activities. Maharaja Pariksit sat on a chariot drawn by black horses. His flag was marked with the sign of a lion. Being so decorated and surrounded by charioteers, cavalry, elephants and infantry soldiers, he left the capital to conquer in all directions. Maharaja Pariksit then conquered all parts of the earthly planet--Bhadrasva, Ketumala, Bharata, the northern Kuru, Kimpurusa, etc.--and exacted tributes from their respective rulers. Wherever the King visited, he continuously heard the glories of his great forefathers, who were all devotees of the Lord, and also of the glorious acts of Lord Krishna. He also heard how he himself had been protected by the Lord from the powerful heat of the weapon of Asvatthama. People also mentioned the great affection between the descendants of Vrsni and Prtha due to the latter's great devotion to Lord Kesava. The King, being very pleased with the singers of such glories, opened his eyes in great satisfaction. Out of magnanimity he was pleased to award them very valuable necklaces and clothing. Maharaja Pariksit heard that out of His causeless mercy Lord Krishna [Vishnu], who is universally obeyed, rendered all kinds of service to the malleable sons of Pandu by accepting posts ranging from chariot driver to president to messenger, friend, night watchman, etc., according to the will of the Pandavas, obeying them like a servant and offering obeisances like one younger in years. When he heard this, Maharaja Pariksit became overwhelmed with devotion to the lotus feet of the Lord. Now you may hear from me of what happened while Maharaja Pariksit was passing his days hearing of the good occupations of his forefathers and being absorbed in thought of them. The personality of religious principles, Dharma, was wandering about in the form of a bull. And he met the personality of earth in the form of a cow who appeared to grieve like a mother who had lost her child. She had tears in her eyes, and the beauty of her body was lost. Thus Dharma questioned the earth as follows. Dharma [in the form of a bull] asked: Madam, are you not hale and hearty? Why are you covered with the shadow of grief? It appears by your face that you have become black. Are you suffering from some internal disease, or are you thinking of some relative who is away in a distant place? I have lost my three legs and am now standing on one only. Are you lamenting for my state of existence? Or are you in great anxiety because henceforward the unlawful meat-eaters will exploit you? Or are you in a sorry plight because the demigods are now bereft of their share of sacrificial offerings because no sacrifices are being performed at present? Or are you grieving for living beings because of their sufferings due to famine and drought? Are you feeling compunction for the unhappy women and children who are left forlorn by unscrupulous persons? Or are you unhappy because the goddess of learning is being handled by brahmanas addicted to acts against the principles of religion? Or are you sorry to see that the brahmanas have taken shelter of administrative families that do not respect brahminical culture? The so-called administrators are now bewildered by the influence of this age of Kali, and thus they have put all state affairs into disorder. Are you now lamenting this disorder? Now the general populace does not follow the rules and regulations for eating, sleeping, drinking, mating, etc., and they are inclined to perform such anywhere and everywhere. Are you unhappy because of this? O mother earth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, incarnated Himself as Lord Sri Krishna just to unload your heavy burden. All His activities here are transcendental, and they cement the path of liberation. You are now bereft of His presence. You are probably now thinking of those activities and feeling sorry in their absence. Mother, you are the reservoir of all riches. Please inform me of the root cause of your tribulations by which you have been reduced to such a weak state. I think that the powerful influence of time, which conquers the most powerful, might have forcibly taken away all your fortune, which was adored even by the demigods. The earthly deity [in the form of a cow] thus replied to the personality of religious principles [in the form of a bull]: O Dharma, whatever you have inquired from me shall be known to you. I shall try to reply to all those questions. Once you too were maintained by your four legs, and you increased happiness all over the universe by the mercy of the Lord. In Him reside (1) truthfulness, (2) cleanliness, (3) intolerance of another's unhappiness, (4) the power to control anger, (5) self-satisfaction, (6) straightforwardness, (7) steadiness of mind, (8) control of the sense organs, (9) responsibility, (10) equality, (11) tolerance, (12) equanimity, (13) faithfulness, (14) knowledge, (15) absence of sense enjoyment, (16) leadership, (17) chivalry, (18) influence, (19) the power to make everything possible, (20) the discharge of proper duty, (21) complete independence, (22) dexterity, (23) fullness of all beauty, (24) serenity, (25) kindheartedness, (26) ingenuity, (27) gentility, (28) magnanimity, (29) determination, (30) perfection in all knowledge, (31) proper execution, (32) possession of all objects of enjoyment, (33) joyfulness, (34) immovability, (35) fidelity, (36) fame, (37) worship, (38) pridelessness, (39) being (as the Personality of Godhead), (40) eternity, and many other transcendental qualities which are eternally present and never to be separated from Him. That Personality of Godhead, the reservoir of all goodness and beauty, Lord Sri Krishna, has now closed His transcendental pastimes on the face of the earth. In His absence the age of Kali has spread its influence everywhere, so I am sorry to see this condition of existence. I am thinking about myself and also, O best amongst the demigods, about you, as well as about all the demigods, sages, denizens of Pitrloka, devotees of the Lord and all men obedient to the system of varna and asrama in human society. Laksmiji, the goddess of fortune, whose glance of grace was sought by demigods like Brahma and for whom they surrendered many a day unto the Personality of Godhead, gave up her own abode in the forest of lotus flowers and engaged herself in the service of the lotus feet of the Lord. I was endowed with specific powers to supersede the fortune of all the three planetary systems by being decorated with the impressions of the flag, thunderbolt, elephant-driving rod and lotus flower, which are signs of the lotus feet of the Lord. But at the end, when I felt I was so fortunate, the Lord left me. O personality of religion, I was greatly overburdened by the undue military phalanxes arranged by atheistic kings, and I was relieved by the grace of the Personality of Godhead. Similarly you were also in a distressed condition, weakened in your standing strength, and thus He also incarnated by His internal energy in the family of the Yadus to relieve you. Who, therefore, can tolerate the pangs of separation from that Supreme Personality of Godhead? He could conquer the gravity and passionate wrath of His sweethearts like Satyabhama by His sweet smile of love, pleasing glance and hearty appeals. When He traversed my [earth's] surface, I would be immersed in the dust of His lotus feet and thus would be sumptuously covered with grass which appeared like hairs standing on me out of pleasure. While the earth and the personality of religion were thus engaged in conversation, the saintly King Pariksit reached the shore of the Sarasvati River, which flowed towards the east. Chapter Seventeen : Punishment and Reward of Kali Suta Gosvami said: After reaching that place, Maharaja Pariksit observed that a lower-caste sudra, dressed like a king, was beating a cow and a bull with a club, as if they had no owner. The bull was as white as a white lotus flower. He was terrified of the sudra who was beating him, and he was so afraid that he was standing on one leg, trembling and urinating. Although the cow is beneficial because one can draw religious principles from her, she was now rendered poor and calfless. Her legs were being beaten by a sudra. There were tears in her eyes, and she was distressed and weak. She was hankering after some grass in the field. Maharaja Pariksit, well equipped with arrows and bow and seated on a gold- embossed chariot, spoke to him [the sudra] with a deep voice sounding like thunder. Oh, who are you? You appear to be strong and yet you dare kill, within my protection, those who are helpless! By your dress you pose yourself to be a godly man [king], but by your deeds you are opposing the principles of the twice-born ksatriyas. You rogue, do you dare beat an innocent cow because Lord Krishna and Arjuna, the carrier of the Gandiva bow, are out of sight? Since you are beating the innocent in a secluded place, you are considered a culprit and therefore deserve to be killed. Then he [Maharaja Pariksit] asked the bull: Oh, who are you? Are you a bull as white as a white lotus, or are you a demigod? You have lost three of your legs and are moving on only one. Are you some demigod causing us grief in the form of a bull? Now for the first time in a kingdom well protected by the arms of the kings of the Kuru dynasty, I see you grieving with tears in your eyes. Up till now no one on earth has ever shed tears because of royal negligence. O son of Surabhi, you need lament no longer now. There is no need to fear this low-class sudra. And, O mother cow, as long as I am living as the ruler and subduer of all envious men, there is no cause for you to cry. Everything will be good for you. O chaste one, the king's good name, duration of life and good rebirth vanish when all kinds of living beings are terrified by miscreants in his kingdom. It is certainly the prime duty of the king to subdue first the sufferings of those who suffer. Therefore I must kill this most wretched man because he is violent against other living beings. He [Maharaja Pariksit] repeatedly addressed and questioned the bull thus: O son of Surabhi, who has cut off your three legs? In the state of the kings who are obedient to the laws of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, there is no one as unhappy as you. O bull, you are offenseless and thoroughly honest; therefore I wish all good to you. Please tell me of the perpetrator of these mutilations, which blackmail the reputation of the sons of Prtha. Whoever causes offenseless living beings to suffer must fear me anywhere and everywhere in the world. By curbing dishonest miscreants, one automatically benefits the offenseless. An upstart living being who commits offenses by torturing those who are offenseless shall be directly uprooted by me, even though he be a denizen of heaven with armor and decorations. The supreme duty of the ruling king is to give all protection to law-abiding persons and to chastise those who stray from the ordinances of the scriptures in ordinary times, when there is no emergency. The personality of religion said: These words just spoken by you befit a person of the Pandava dynasty. Captivated by the devotional qualities of the Pandavas, even Lord Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, performed duties as a messenger. O greatest among human beings, it is very difficult to ascertain the particular miscreant who has caused our sufferings, because we are bewildered by all the different opinions of theoretical philosophers. Some of the philosophers, who deny all sorts of duality, declare that one's own self is responsible for his personal happiness and distress. Others say that superhuman powers are responsible, while yet others say that activity is responsible, and the gross materialists maintain that nature is the ultimate cause. There are also some thinkers who believe that no one can ascertain the cause of distress by argumentation, nor know it by imagination, nor express it by words. O sage amongst kings, judge for yourself by thinking over all this with your own intelligence. Suta Gosvami said: O best among the brahmanas, the Emperor Pariksit, thus hearing the personality of religion speak, was fully satisfied, and without mistake or regret he gave his reply. The King said: O you, who are in the form of a bull! You know the truth of religion, and you are speaking according to the principle that the destination intended for the perpetrator of irreligious acts is also intended for one who identifies the perpetrator. You are no other than the personality of religion. Thus it is concluded that the Lord's energies are inconceivable. No one can estimate them by mental speculation or by word jugglery. In the age of Satya [truthfulness] your four legs were established by the four principles of austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness. But it appears that three of your legs are broken due to rampant irreligion in the form of pride, lust for women, and intoxication. You are now standing on one leg only, which is your truthfulness, and you are somehow or other hobbling along. But quarrel personified [Kali], flourishing by deceit, is also trying to destroy that leg. The burden of the earth was certainly diminished by the Personality of Godhead and by others as well. When He was present as an incarnation, all good was performed because of His auspicious footprints. Now she, the chaste one, being unfortunately forsaken by the Personality of Godhead, laments her future with tears in her eyes, for now she is being ruled and enjoyed by lower-class men who pose as rulers. Maharaja Pariksit, who could fight one thousand enemies singlehandedly, thus pacified the personality of religion and the earth. Then he took up his sharp sword to kill the personality of Kali, who is the cause of all irreligion. When the personality of Kali understood that the King was willing to kill him, he at once abandoned the dress of a king and, under pressure of fear, completely surrendered to him, bowing his head. Maharaja Pariksit, who was qualified to accept surrender and worthy of being sung in history, did not kill the poor surrendered and fallen Kali, but smiled compassionately, for he was kind to the poor. The King thus said: We have inherited the fame of Arjuna; therefore since you have surrendered yourself with folded hands you need not fear for your life. But you cannot remain in my kingdom, for you are the friend of irreligion. If the personality of Kali, irreligion, is allowed to act as a man-god or an executive head, certainly irreligious principles like greed, falsehood, robbery, incivility, treachery, misfortune, cheating, quarrel and vanity will abound. Therefore, O friend of irreligion, you do not deserve to remain in a place where experts perform sacrifices according to truth and religious principles for the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In all sacrificial ceremonies, although sometimes a demigod is worshiped, the Supreme Lord Personality of Godhead is worshiped because He is the Supersoul of everyone, and exists both inside and outside like the air. Thus it is He only who awards all welfare to the worshiper. Sri Suta Gosvami said: The personality of Kali, thus being ordered by Maharaja Pariksit, began to tremble in fear. Seeing the King before him like Yamaraja, ready to Kill him, Kali spoke to the King as follows. O Your Majesty, though I may live anywhere and everywhere under your order, I shall but see you with bow and arrows wherever I look. Therefore, O chief amongst the protectors of religion, please fix some place for me where I can live permanently under the protection of your government. Suta Gosvami said: Maharaja Pariksit, thus being petitioned by the personality of Kali, gave him permission to reside in places where gambling, drinking, prostitution and animal slaughter were performed. The personality of Kali asked for something more, and because of his begging, the King gave him permission to live where there is gold because wherever there is gold there is also falsity, intoxication, lust, envy and enmity. Thus the personality of Kali, by the directions of Maharaja Pariksit, the son of Uttara, was allowed to live in those five places. Therefore, whoever desires progressive well-being, especially kings, religionists, public leaders, brahmanas and sannyasis, should never come in contact with the four above-mentioned irreligious principles. Thereafter the King reestablished the lost legs of the personality of religion [the bull], and by encouraging activities he sufficiently improved the condition of the earth. The most fortunate Emperor Maharaja Pariksit, who was entrusted with the kingdom of Hastinapura by Maharaja Yudhisthira when he desired to retire to the forest, is now ruling the world with great success due to his being glorified by the deeds of the kings of the Kuru dynasty. Maharaja Pariksit, the son of Abhimanyu, is so experienced that by dint of his expert administration and patronage, it has been possible for you to perform a sacrifice such as this. Chapter Eighteen : Maharaja Pariksit Cursed by a Brahmana Boy Sri Suta Gosvami said: Due to the mercy of the Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, who acts wonderfully, Maharaja Pariksit, though struck by the weapon of the son of Drona in his mother's womb, could not be burned. Furthermore, Maharaja Pariksit was always consciously surrendered to the Personality of Godhead, and therefore he was neither afraid nor overwhelmed by fear due to a snake-bird which was to bite him because of the fury of a brahmana boy. Furthermore, after leaving all his associates, the King surrendered himself as a disciple to the son of Vyasa [Sukadeva Gosvami], and thus he was able to understand the actual position of the Personality of Godhead. This was so because those who have dedicated their lives to the transcendental topics of the Personality of Godhead, of whom the Vedic hymns sing, and who are constantly engaged in remembering the lotus feet of the Lord, do not run the risk of having misconceptions even at the last moment of their lives. As long as the great, powerful son of Abhimanyu remains the Emperor of the world, there is no chance that the personality of Kali will flourish. The very day and moment the Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna, left this earth, the personality of Kali, who promotes all kinds of irreligious activities, came into this world. Maharaja Pariksit was a realist, like the bees who only accept the essence [of a flower]. He knew perfectly well that in this age of Kali, auspicious things produce good effects immediately, whereas inauspicious acts must be actually performed [to render effects]. So he was never envious of the personality of Kali. Maharaja Pariksit considered that less intelligent men might find the personality of Kali to be very powerful, but that those who are self-controlled would have nothing to fear. The King was powerful like a tiger and took care for the foolish, careless persons. O sages, as you did ask me, now I have described almost everything regarding the narrations about Lord Krishna in connection with the history of the pious Maharaja Pariksit. Those who are desirous of achieving complete perfection in life must submissively hear all topics that are connected with the transcendental activities and qualities of the Personality of Godhead, who acts wonderfully. The good sages said: O grave Suta Gosvami! May you live many years and have eternal fame, for you are speaking very nicely about the activities of Lord Krishna, the Personality of Godhead. This is just like nectar for mortal beings like us. We have just begun the performance of this fruitive activity, a sacrificial fire, without certainty of its result due to the many imperfections in our action. Our bodies have become black from the smoke, but we are factually pleased by the nectar of the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead, Govinda, which you are distributing. The value of a moment's association with the devotee of the Lord cannot even be compared to the attainment of heavenly planets or liberation from matter, and what to speak of worldly benedictions in the form of material prosperity, which are for those who are meant for death. The Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna [Govinda], is the exclusive shelter for all great living beings, and His transcendental attributes cannot even be measured by such masters of mystic powers as Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma. Can anyone who is expert in relishing nectar [rasa] ever be fully satiated by hearing topics about Him? O Suta Gosvami, you are a learned and pure devotee of the Lord because the Personality of Godhead is your chief object of service. Therefore please describe to us the pastimes of the Lord, which are above all material conception, for we are anxious to receive such messages. O Suta Gosvami, please describe those topics of the Lord by which Maharaja Pariksit, whose intelligence was fixed on liberation, attained the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of Garuda, the king of birds. Those topics were vibrated by the son of Vyasa [Srila Sukadeva]. Thus please narrate to us the narrations of the Unlimited, for they are purifying and supreme. They were spoken to Maharaja Pariksit, and they are very dear to the pure devotees, being full of bhakti-yoga. Sri Suta Gosvami said: O God, although we are born in a mixed caste, we are still promoted in birthright simply by serving and following the great who are advanced in knowledge. Even by conversing with such great souls, one can without delay cleanse oneself of all disqualifications resulting from lower births. And what to speak of those who are under the direction of the great devotees, chanting the holy name of the Unlimited, who has unlimited potency? The Personality of Godhead, unlimited in potency and transcendental by attributes, is called the ananta [Unlimited]. It is now ascertained that He [the Personality of Godhead] is unlimited and there is none equal to Him. Consequently no one can speak of Him adequately. Great demigods cannot obtain the favor of the goddess of fortune even by prayers, but this very goddess renders service unto the Lord, although He is unwilling to have such service. Who can be worthy of the name of the Supreme Lord but the Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna? Brahmaji collected the water emanating from the nails of His feet in order to award it to Lord Shiva as a worshipful welcome. This very water [the Ganges] is purifying the whole universe, including Lord Shiva. Self-controlled persons who are attached to the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna can all of a sudden give up the world of material attachment, including the gross body and subtle mind, and go away to attain the highest perfection of the renounced order of life, by which nonviolence and renunciation are consequential. O rsis, who are as powerfully pure as the sun, I shall try to describe to you the transcendental pastimes of Vishnu as far as my knowledge is concerned. As the birds fly in the sky as far as their capacity allows, so do the learned devotees describe the Lord as far as their realization allows. Once upon a time Maharaja Pariksit, while engaged in hunting in the forest with bow and arrows, became extremely fatigued, hungry and thirsty while following the stags. While searching for a reservoir of water, he entered the hermitage of the well-known Samika Rsi and saw the sage sitting silently with closed eyes. The muni's sense organs, breath, mind and intelligence were all restrained from material activities, and he was situated in a trance apart from the three [wakefulness, dream and unconsciousness], having achieved a transcendental position qualitatively equal with the Supreme Absolute. The sage, in meditation, was covered by the skin of a stag, and long, compressed hair was scattered all over him. The King, whose palate was dry from thirst, asked him for water. The King, not received by any formal welcome by means of being offered a seat, place, water and sweet addresses, considered himself neglected, and so thinking he became angry. O brahmanas, the King's anger and envy, directed toward the brahmana sage, were unprecedented, being that circumstances had made him hungry and thirsty. While leaving, the King, being so insulted, picked up a lifeless snake with his bow and angrily placed it on the shoulder of the sage. Then he returned to his palace. Upon returning, he began to contemplate and argue within himself whether the sage had actually been in meditation, with senses concentrated and eyes closed, or whether he had just been feigning trance just to avoid receiving a lower ksatriya. The sage had a son who was very powerful, being a brahmana's son. While he was playing with inexperienced boys, he heard of his father's distress, which was occasioned by the King. Then and there the boy spoke as follows. [The brahmana's son, Srngi, said:] O just look at the sins of the rulers who, like crows and watchdogs at the door, perpetrate sins against their masters, contrary to the principles governing servants. The descendants of the kingly orders are definitely designated as watchdogs, and they must keep themselves at the door. On what grounds can dogs enter the house and claim to dine with the master on the same plate? After the departure of Lord Sri Krishna, the Personality of Godhead and supreme ruler of everyone, these upstarts have flourished, our protector being gone. Therefore I myself shall take up this matter and punish them. Just witness my power. The son of the rsi, his eyes red-hot with anger, touched the water of the River Kausika while speaking to his playmates and discharged the following thunderbolt of words. The brahmana's son cursed the King thus: On the seventh day from today a snake- bird will bite the most wretched one of that dynasty [Maharaja Pariksit] because of his having broken the laws of etiquette by insulting my father. Thereafter, when the boy returned to the hermitage, he saw a snake on his father's shoulder, and out of his grief he cried very loudly. O brahmanas, the rsi, who was born in the family of Angira Muni, hearing his son crying, gradually opened his eyes and saw the dead snake around his neck. He threw the dead snake aside and asked his son why he was crying, whether anyone had done him harm. On hearing this, the son explained to him what had happened. The father heard from his son that the King had been cursed, although he should never have been condemned, for he was the best amongst all human beings. The rsi did not congratulate his son, but, on the contrary, began to repent, saying: Alas! What a great sinful act was performed by my son. He has awarded heavy punishment for an insignificant offense. O my boy, your intelligence is immature, and therefore you have no knowledge that the king, who is the best amongst human beings, is as good as the Personality of Godhead. He is never to be placed on an equal footing with common men. The citizens of the state live in prosperity, being protected by his unsurpassable prowess. My dear boy, the Lord, who carries the wheel of a chariot, is represented by the monarchical regime, and when this regime is abolished the whole world becomes filled with thieves, who then at once vanquish the unprotected subjects like scattered lambs. Due to the termination of the monarchical regimes and the plundering of the people's wealth by rogues and thieves, there will be great social disruptions. People will be killed and injured, and animals and women will be stolen. And for all these sins we shall be responsible. At that time the people in general will fall systematically from the path of a progressive civilization in respect to the qualitative engagements of the castes and the orders of society and the Vedic injunctions. Thus they will be more attracted to economic development for sense gratification, and as a result there will be an unwanted population on the level of dogs and monkeys. The Emperor Pariksit is a pious king. He is highly celebrated and is a first- class devotee of the Personality of Godhead. He is a saint amongst royalty, and he has performed many horse sacrifices. When such a king is tired and fatigued, being stricken with hunger and thirst, he does not at all deserve to be cursed. Then the rsi prayed to the all-pervading Personality of Godhead to pardon his immature boy, who had no intelligence and who committed the great sin of cursing a person who was completely free from all sins, who was subordinate and who deserved to be protected. The devotees of the Lord are so forbearng that even though they are defamed, cheated, cursed, disturbed, neglected or even killed, they are never inclined to avenge themselves. The sage thus regretted the sin committed by his own son. He did not take the insult paid by the King very seriously. Generally the transcendentalists, even though engaged by others in the dualities of the material world, are not distressed. Nor do they take pleasure [in worldly things], for they are transcendentally engaged. Chapter Nineteen : The Appearance of Sukadeva Gosvami Sri Suta Gosvami said: While returning home, the King [Maharaja Pariksit] felt that the act he had committed against the faultless and powerful brahmana was heinous and uncivilized. Consequently he was distressed. [King Pariksit thought:] Due to my neglecting the injunctions of the Supreme Lord I must certainly expect some difficulty to overcome me in the near future. I now desire without reservation that the calamity come now, for in this way I may be freed of the sinful action and not commit such an offense again. I am uncivilized and sinful due to my neglect of brahminical culture, God consciousness and cow protection. Therefore I wish that my kingdom, strength and riches burn up immediately by the fire of the brahmana's wrath so that in the future I may not be guided by such inauspicious attitudes. While the King was thus repenting, he received news of his imminent death, which would be due to the bite of a snake-bird, occasioned by the curse spoken by the sage's son. The King accepted this as good news, for it would be the cause of his indifference toward worldly things. Maharaja Pariksit sat down firmly on the banks of the Ganges to concentrate his mind in Krishna consciousness, rejecting all other practices of self- realization, because transcendental loving service to Krishna is the greatest achievement, superseding all other methods. The river [Ganges, by which the King sat to fast] carries the most auspicious water, which is mixed with the dust of the lotus feet of the Lord and tulasi leaves. Therefore that water sanctifies the three worlds inside and outside and even sanctifies Lord Shiva and other demigods. Consequently everyone who is destined to die must take shelter of this river. Thus the King, the worthy descendant of the Pandavas, decided once and for all and sat on the Ganges' bank to fast until death and give himself up to the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, who alone is able to award liberation. So, freeing himself from all kinds of associations and attachments, he accepted the vows of a sage. At that time all the great minds and thinkers, accompanied by their disciples, and sages who could verily sanctify a place of pilgrimage just by their presence, arrived there on the plea of making a pilgrim's journey. From different parts of the universe there arrived great sages like Atri, Cyavana, Saradvan, Aristanemi, Bhrgu, Vasistha, Parasara, Visvamitra, Angira, Parasurama, Utathya, Indrapramada, Idhmavahu, Medhatithi, Devala, Arstisena, Bharadvaja, Gautama, Pippalada, Maitreya, Aurva, Kavasa, Kumbhayoni, Dvaipayana and the great personality Narada. There were also many other saintly demigods, kings and special royal orders called arunadayas [a special rank of rajarsis] from different dynasties of sages. When they all assembled together to meet the Emperor [Pariksit], he received them properly and bowed his head to the ground. After all the rsis and others had seated themselves comfortably, the King, humbly standing before them with folded hands, told them of his decision to fast until death. The fortunate King said: Indeed, we are the most grateful of all the kings who are trained to get favors from the great souls. Generally you [sages] consider royalty as refuse to be rejected and left in a distant place. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the controller of both the transcendental and mundane worlds, has graciously overtaken me in the form of a brahmana's curse. Due to my being too much attached to family life, the Lord, in order to save me, has appeared before me in such a way that only out of fear I will detach myself from the world. O brahmanas, just accept me as a completely surrendered soul, and let mother Ganges, the representative of the Lord, also accept me in that way, for I have already taken the lotus feet of the Lord into my heart. Let the snake-bird--or whatever magical thing the brahmana created--bite me at once. I only desire that you all continue singing the deeds of Lord Vishnu. Again, offering obeisances unto all you brahmanas, I pray that if I should again take my birth in the material world I will have complete attachment to the unlimited Lord Krishna, association with His devotees and friendly relations with all living beings. In perfect self-control, Maharaja Pariksit sat down on a seat of straw, with straw-roots facing the east, placed on the southern bank of the Ganges, and he himself faced the north. Just previously he had given charge of his kingdom over to his son. Thus the King, Maharaja Pariksit, sat to fast until death. All the demigods of the higher planets praised the King's actions and in pleasure continually scattered flowers over the earth and beat celestial drums. All the great sages who were assembled there also praised the decision of Maharaja Pariksit and they expressed their approval by saying, "Very good." Naturally the sages are inclined to do good to common men, for they have all the qualitative powers of the Supreme Lord. Therefore they were very much pleased to see Maharaja Pariksit, a devotee of the Lord, and they spoke as follows. [The sages said:] O chief of all the saintly kings of the Pandu dynasty who are strictly in the line of Lord Sri Krishna! It is not at all astonishing that you give up your throne, which is decorated with the helmets of many kings, to achieve eternal association with the Personality of Godhead. We shall all wait here until the foremost devotee of the Lord, Maharaja Pariksit, returns to the supreme planet, which is completely free from all mundane contamination and all kinds of lamentation. All that was spoken by the great sages was very sweet to hear, full of meaning and appropriately presented as perfectly true. So after hearing them, Maharaja Pariksit, desiring to hear of the activities of Lord Sri Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, congratulated the great sages. The King said: O great sages, you have all very kindly assembled here, having come from all parts of the universe. You are all as good as supreme knowledge personified, who resides in the planet above the three worlds [Satyaloka]. Consequently you are naturally inclined to do good to others, and but for this you have no interest, either in this life or in the next. O trustworthy brahmanas, I now ask you about my immediate duty. Please, after proper deliberation, tell me of the unalloyed duty of everyone in all circumstances, and specifically of those who are just about to die. At that moment there appeared the powerful son of Vyasadeva, who traveled over the earth disinterested and satisfied with himself. He did not manifest any symptoms of belonging to any social order or status of life. He was surrounded with women and children, and he dressed as if others had neglected him. This son of Vyasadeva was only sixteen years old. His legs, hands, thighs, arms, shoulders, forehead and the other parts of his body were all delicately formed. His eyes were beautifully wide, and his nose and ears were highly raised. He had a very attractive face, and his neck was well formed and beautiful like a conchshell. His collarbone was fleshy, his chest broad and thick, his navel deep and his abdomen beautifully striped. His arms were long, and curly hair was strewn over his beautiful face. He was naked, and the hue of his body reflected that of Lord Krishna. He was blackish and very beautiful due to his youth. Because of the glamor of his body and his attractive smiles, he was pleasing to women. Though he tried to cover his natural glories, the great sages present there were all expert in the art of physiognomy, and so they honored him by rising from their seats. Maharaja Pariksit, who is also known as Vishnurata [one who is always protected by Vishnu], bowed his head to receive the chief guest, Sukadeva Gosvami. At that time all the ignorant women and boys ceased following Srila Sukadeva. Receiving respect from all, Sukadeva Gosvami took his exalted seat. Sukadeva Gosvami was then surrounded by saintly sages and demigods just as the moon is surrounded by stars, planets and other heavenly bodies. His presence was gorgeous, and he was respected by all. The sage Sri Sukadeva Gosvami sat perfectly pacified, intelligent and ready to answer any question without hesitation. The great devotee, Maharaja Pariksit, approached him, offered his respects by bowing before him, and politely inquired with sweet words and folded hands. The fortunate King Pariksit said: O brahmana, by your mercy only, you have sanctified us, making us like unto places of pilgrimage, all by your presence here as my guest. By your mercy, we, who are but unworthy royalty, become eligible to serve the devotee. Simply by our remembering you, our houses become instantly sanctified. And what to speak of seeing you, touching you, washing your holy feet and offering you a seat in our home? Just as the atheist cannot remain in the presence of the Personality of Godhead, so also the invulnerable sins of a man are immediately vanquished in your presence, O saint! O great mystic! Lord Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, who is very dear to the sons of King Pandu, has accepted me as one of those relatives just to please His great cousins and brothers. Otherwise [without being inspired by Lord Krishna] how is it that you have voluntarily appeared here, though you are moving incognito to the common man and are not visible to us who are on the verge of death? You are the spiritual master of great saints and devotees. I am therefore begging you to show the way of perfection for all persons, and especially for one who is about to die. Please let me know what a man should hear, chant, remember and worship, and also what he should not do. Please explain all this to me. O powerful brahmana, it is said that you hardly stay in the houses of men long enough to milk a cow. Sri Suta Gosvami said: The King thus spoke and questioned the sage, using sweet language. Then the great and powerful personality, the son of Vyasadeva, who knew the principles of religion, began his reply.