Category Archives: 1.18 Pariksit and Suka

Defining the Unlimited

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Sūta said:

Oh! My unusual birth has now become meaningful, for I have this opportunity to serve the learned elders.  To speak intimately with great souls quickly purifies the faults and sufferings one is born into.

What is Sūta’s “unusual birth”? It may be literal, since the word sūta also refers to an unusual caste in which the father is a warrior (kṣatriya) and the mother an intellectual (brāhmaṇa). Members of this caste usually became bards and poets. Another reason Sūta’s birth is “unusual” and “faulty” is that his father, Romaharsana, insulted Krishna’s brother, Balarāma. He sees this opportunity to glorify Krishna and Balarāma the ideal way to atone for this undesirable element in his ancestry. Finally, everyone’s birth is “unusual” and “faulty” – for the soul ought not repeatedly change identities! Everyone’s misfortune in this regard will be quickly purified by discussing the stories we are about to tell.

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Why? Because then one will proclaim the name of the singular refuge of those great souls, who is called “Unlimited” because his all-attractive potencies and excellent qualities are unlimited!?

Why is heart-to-heart conversation with great souls so spiritually purifying? It is because the topic of discussion invariably turns towards the Unlimited All-Attractive.

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So how can anyone define the immeasurable qualities of he who rests upon the unlimited? The divine goddess ignores all those who petition her and, unrequested, serves the dust of his feet.

The potencies and qualities of the All-Attractive are unlimited. When we hear that “he rests upon the unlimited,” we envision Viṣṇu beyond the borders of the universe reclining on the sea-dragon named Ananta (“unlimited”). It is an image which communicates the fact that his very being exists on the foundation of infinity.

So how can anyone define or delimit Viṣṇu and his qualities by conversation? Still one is hopelessly attracted to the effort, much like the supreme goddesses, who ignore those who bring her presents and prayers, and instead flock unrequested to attend upon the outskirts of such discussions.

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The water flowing from his toenails is collected by the creator (Brahmā), who uses it to honorably purify the destroyer (Śiva). Who else in the world besides the Lotus-Face could be worthy of the name and position of “All-Attractive”?

There are, truly, so many amazing people among humans and gods and others. But who is worthy of the title “All-Attractive”? It is only he whose face is like the most beautiful flower, whom the goddess flock to, whom the gods worship. We will hear a story much later in this tale, that Viṣṇu once took three cosmic strides. The third created a fracture in the shell of the universe, and the water from the ocean of causality streamed down from the polestar, through the Milky Way, and eventually onto the earth as the Ganges river. This is the water that “flows from his toenails.”

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Those in love with him suddenly become very deep. Going beyond the embrace of their bodies they attain the highest perfections, in which nonviolence and tranquility are natural.

The purifying power of devotion of the All-Attractive is powerful and uniquely swift, “sudden.” Without such devotion one toils with great delay to develop good qualities like non-violence and tranquility.

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You are like Aryamān, so whatever you ask I will grant. I will speak as far as my knowledge will allow. Birds fly as high as they can into the sky, like the learned towards Viṣṇu.

Aryamān is the Vedic god who empowers a man to ask a father for his daughter in marriage. It is a very difficult request to accept, because a father very dearly loves his daughter and feels very reluctant to entrust her care to anyone else. Therefore the would-be groom must appeal to Aryamān for divine help. One should give whatever is asked for in the name and with the sanction of Aryamān. Sūta considered the sages to be representatives of Aryamān, because their inquiries were so blessed and divine. Therefore he felt honor-bound to give them what they had asked for.

The sages, headed by the elderly Śaunaka, requested Sūta to tell them all about the All-Attractive son of Vasudeva, Krishna. Sūta says that it is impossible to properly describe Krishna because he is naturally unlimited in qualities and nature. He is All-Attractive. Our efforts to describe and comprehend Krishna are like the effort of a bird to fly in the sky. It is natural for the bird, and delightful – but still it is impossible for a bird to reach the limit of the sky.

The tales of the All-Attractive told by Sūta in this beautiful book, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam are sublime. They represent the intimate vision and realization of the most highly elevated souls. Still, Sūta admits that this book cannot define or delimit the Unlimited. This book will point our attention towards Krishna. Our consciousness then will absorb the downpour of blissful and enlightened energy radiating from him and thus become empowered to directly and impossibly comprehend the tangible reality of Śrī Krishna.

As a lightning rod attracts lightning, without creating or containing the it, this book attracts our consciousness to the All-Attractive. It is the greatest blessing of Indian thought. May we dive into it with wild joy and abandon.

This ends the introduction to Srimad Bhagavatam. From here the book itself begins, so we shall consider this the end of the first part, although traditionally that division is made one chapter after this.

Krishna and the gopis, from a Bhagavata Purana...

Krishna and the gopis, from a Bhagavata Purana manuscript c. 1760 . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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We Want to Hear About All-Attractive Krishna!

SB 1.18.11

The sages said:

Sūta, may your life be smooth, gracious, unending and brilliantly famous! Your glorification of Krishna is just like the nectar of immortality for us mortals.

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Smoke permeated us, body and mind, and confused our duties. But you are giving us the delicious honey made from the nectar of the lotus flower of Govinda’s feet.

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What to speak of any mortal desire, not even paradise or enlightenment can compare to a moment’s intimacy with those who are intimate with the All-Attractive.

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How could anyone who truly understands pleasure ever get enough of discussing he who is the singular haven of the greatest among the great souls? Even the masters of yoga, headed by Śiva and lotus-born Brahmā, cannot comprehend the endless qualities of he who is beyond quality.

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You are among the greatest of the great souls whose singular haven is the foremost All-Attractive. You possess the knowledge to explain the completely pure and exalted activities of Hari. We are very eager to hear this!

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Tell us the knowledge spoken by Vyāsa’s son, by which the great devotee Parīkṣit fixed his intellect upon liberation and was carried to the soles of the feet that are adored by the king of birds, Garuḍa.

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Tell us every meaning of those utterly purifying words, wondrously establishing divine union, brimming with the activities of the Infinite, which magnify the bliss of devotees like Parīkṣit.


How to Make Kali-Yuga the BEST of All the Ages

SB 1.18.5

While the kingdom of Abhimanyu’s superexcellent son remained intact, Kali could not expand and flourish anywhere.

Abhimanyu’s superexcellent son is King Pariksit.

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But certainly Kali’s immorality began to flourish the instant he left the world, following the All-Attractive.

Parīkṣit gave Kali’s immorality five places of shelter in the world. But while Parīkṣit was king the world remained very disinterested in those five, and therefore Kali could not spread. The second he left the earth to join All-Attractive Śrī Krishna, however, the population began to wander towards the immoral bases of Kali’s influence, and thus the degradations of this age began to gain a foothold.

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The King never hated Kali, because he was like a honey bee who takes the essence of a flower to produce wondrous honey. [In this age] Good deeds bear fruit quickly, and bad deeds are not taken very seriously.

Most of us are very superficial. Parīkṣit was not. His deep vision saw through the superficial degradations of Kali-yuga. He saw that even though it appears bad, there are good things about it. For example, any good deed done in this age has a magnified effect, while any bad thing is minimized. There is a logical psychological principle behind this; It is not a random statement. Sūta explains the logic in the next text.

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The powerful do not fear the strong; The sober do not fear Kali. A wise person amongst the insane is like a tiger among men.

This explains why good deeds are amplified and bad deeds minimized during Kali-yuga. To be wise when everyone around you is in an insane panic is very noteworthy and makes one extremely great, like a tiger among men. If the environment around you is full of violence, you will not be criticized highly if you have to punch someone, but you will be praised greatly if you can accomplish something peaceful. Similarly if the environment around you is very peaceful and loving it is not so outstanding if you also do something peaceful, but you will be greatly condemned if you punch someone. In Kali Yuga immorality and madness is everywhere. Therefore no one should be harshly condemned for being immoral or bewildered, but if anyone does anything slightly good or gains any clarity whatsoever, it is extremely praiseworthy and potent.

So there is no need to fear Kali yuga. If one has the strength to go against the grain, Kali Yuga becomes the most advantageous epoch for spiritual progress.

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I’ve said what I can in answer to your wonderful questions about Parīkṣit’s relationship with this discussion of Vasudeva’s son.

Sūta has said everything he can think of saying in response to the questions from the sages. They wanted to know about the participants in the story of Vasudeva’s son (Krishna). The story of Vasudeva’s son is this book, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. The main participants creating the book are Vyāsa, Śuka, and Parīkṣit. Several chapters ago Sūta finished answering the sages’ questions about Vyāsa. Now he feels that he is finished answering their questions about Parīkṣit as well.

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Anyone who really wants the best for themselves should listen carefully whenever and wherever there is discussion of the All-Attractive, glorifying his amazing deeds that arise from his good qualities.

This cannot be overstated. And to understate this principle is to miss the entire point of what true sadhana (spiritual practice) is.


Death is not Frightening

SB 1.18.1

Sūta said:

By the kindness of All-Attractive Krishna, whose deeds are amazing, Parīkṣit certainly could not be killed in the womb by the blast from the weapon of Droṇa’s son.

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But, rising from the anger of a priest, the Takṣaka dragon would take his life. He was never overcome by terrible fear, because his intentions were always fixed upon the All-Attractive.

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Casting off all connections with the world, he attained realization of the true position of the Unconquerable. He left his body near the Ganges, as a student of Vyāsa’s son.

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Those who delight upon the nourishment of discussing the Subject of Topmost Poetry shall never be confused when their time has come to an end. They will certainly remember his lotus-like feet.