Tag Archives: Śuka

Enlightened by Krishna’s Kiss

I have finished the first draft of Chapter Four of Beautiful Tales of the All Attractive, Volume 2. I will celebrate by explaining a little bit about this chapter, and quoting you one of my favorite ślokas from it.

radha_and_krishna_love_and_longing_be53The Fourth Chapter of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam’s Second “Canto” is mainly about this:

King Parīkṣit asked Śukadeva Goswāmī to answer a question, “What is the most important thing to do, especially since I am about to die?” Śuka answered that in the first three chapters in such a complete and thorough manner that Parīkṣit and all who were listening were astonished. Parīkṣit did not want the discussion to end, even though his question had been completely satisfied, so he asked more questions.

Since Śuka had told him that he had enough time left in his life to be systematic and sequential in his approach to hearing about Krishna, Parīkṣit began by asking questions that are not inherently “intimate” or “advanced” yet nonetheless are fascinating, delightful, and essential for properly understanding the essential nature of Krishna. He asked several specific questions about how the universe exists, and admitted that it is basically impossible for anyone to answer such questions.

Śuka would then ask how he could be expected to reply properly, so Parikṣit explained that those who are intimately connected with the All-Attractive by the link of heartfelt devotion can comprehend the incomprehensible due to their direct proximity to the Divine.

Accepting this, Śuka set out to answer Parikṣit’s questions. He began by evoking his proximity to the Divine by glorifying Krishna and confirming that divine knowledge comes from his favor alone. One śloka he spoke towards the very end of the chapter (śloka 24) is a particular favorite of mine. I would like to share it with you.

My respects to the All-Attractive Son of Vasudeva. The affectionate souls who drink the delicate taste emanating from his lotus-like lips become full of knowledge and can create the Veda.

Śrīla Prabhupāda quotes Viśvanātha Cakravartī when explaining this śloka: On one level it refers to Vyāsa, Śuka’s father. On another level it can refer to Brahmā. On still another level it refers to the Gopīs, who become full of all artistic excellence and knowledge simply by receiving the kiss of Krishna.

Knowledge comes from the divine. It emanates from the mouth of the All-Attractive. Generally we think of words emanating from the mouth – and this is how Brahmā and Vyāsa received comprehension of the incomprehensible: by hearing the words spoken from the mouth of the All-Attractive. They then became capable of creating books of true knowledge: the Veda. But words are not all that emanates from the mouth. Kisses also come from there. The gopīs enjoy Krishna’s kisses, and thus they become infinitely surcharged with extremely powerful and abundant knowledge and expertise in all subjects – from philosophy to sciences to arts such as dance, music, cooking, poetry, cosmetics, fashion, etc.

We who are very low and ordinary souls also have the chance to taste Krishna’s kisses and become thus surcharged. But, in our thick stupidity we tend to ignore this opportunity or not pay much attention to it. How can we fools taste Krishna’s kisses? It is very simple – chant Krishna’s names, and Krishna then comes in contact with your lips. You are kissing Krishna!

Be aware of this intimatcy and you will become fully enlightened, like Vyāsa, Brahmā and the Gopīs.

“Hare Krishna”


Krishna-less = The Walking Dead

To celebrate completing the first draft of chapter 3, Beautiful Tales of the All Attractive, Vol. 2, I am posting an excerpt spoken by Śaunaka Ṛṣi.

20-24

“O Sūta, when we do not hear about the heroism of the Hero, our ear canals are just like snake holes. When we do not sing about the One Worth Singing About, we might as well have the tongues of frogs. When our head does not bow to the Liberator, it is nothing but a heavy burden, even if it is decorated with a silken crown. When our hands do not serve Hari, they are the hands of a corpse – even if decorated with glittering golden bracelets. When we do not look upon the forms of Viṣṇu our eyes are like the eyes of a peacock feather. When our legs do not move us to Hari’s sacred places, how are they any better than the legs of trees? If we mortals never touch the dust from the feet of the blessed devotees, we are like the walking dead. When we do not smell the scent of Tulasī from the beautiful feet of Viṣṇu we are nothing but a breathing corpse.

“Worst of all is an iron-clad heart that cannot be melted by all this. Even when it takes firm hold of Hari’s name, nothing happens. It does not melt and send forth emotions like tears in the eyes or hairs standing on end.”


Second Chapter, Second Canto – Finished

To celebrate finishing the presentation of the Second Chapter of the Second Canto – here is an excerpt, one of my favorite śloka from this chapter

35

Parīkṣit: These yogīs you described, how do they love the All-Attractive?

Śuka: They experience All-Attractive Hari by his qualities present within the core of all living beings.

Parīkṣit: What qualities?

Śuka: The qualities of consciousness. Yogīs know that they are conscious – they can see, experience, and comprehend. Everything they see, experience and comprehend also has this divine quality, consciousness. Thus they inferentially experience the All-Attractive divine everywhere.

krishna - the all attractive one


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.

6

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.

7

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.

8

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.

9

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.

10

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.


Cheating Kali

SB 1.17.42

The world prospers when we encourage well rounded and thoughtful restoration of the Bull’s three broken legs: simplicity, purity, and kindness.

In contrast to the previous verse, anyone who wishes to prosper should strive for simplicity, purity and kindness by all ways and means.

Parīkṣit gave Kali a few domains to control, but then encouraged his citizens to shy away from such places – thus cheating Kali of the opportunity to gain power.

43

He nobly rules from the throne passed to him by his grandfather when that king wanted to retire to the forests.

44

The fame of that glorious ruler of the world, the philosopher-king, the foremost of the Kuru family, spreads through the opulent capitol city.

45

You can initiate this sacrifice because of the expert administration and protection of that King, Abhimanyu’s son.

“Abhimanyu’s son” is Parīkṣit. In one sense, the sages were able to perform a Vedic sacrifice only because the king’s administration provided materials and sponsorship to the hundreds of sages involved, and kept the forests free of persons and creatures of ill intent. In another sense, the sages gathered here are in the initial stages of participating in a spiritual function that represents the culmination of all knowledge and religion: they are about to engage in a deep and detailed discussion of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. If it were not for Parīkṣit this would not be possible, because without him the Bhāgavatam in the wonderful form they will hear it would never have been spoken by Śuka.


Seeing Krishna in the Womb

1.12.1-3

Śaunaka asked:

The Controller kept Uttarā’s womb viable and safe from the terrible power of Aśvatthāmā’s ultimate weapon. Please tell us of about the birth of that very wise child, and the life of that great soul, and his death, and of course how he achieved his next destination. We are eager and enthusiastic to know about this, for he is the one to whom Śuka gave knowledge.

If you consider how the story line developed just now, you’ll see that Sūta got carried away and drawn off topic due to his strong emotional affinity for speaking directly about Kṛṣṇa. Several chapters ago he began discussing the birth of Parīkṣit, but got drawn instead into describing Kṛṣṇa in detail. Since that story line had reached a conclusion by Kṛṣṇa being reunited with his intimate queens, Sūta is ready to return to his original topic: the birth of Parīkṣit. He required prodding from Śaunaka to do so, however, for his mind was still reminiscing on the previous topics.

4

Sūta said:

The moral king governed just like his father, and all the citizens were happy. He had no trace of personal ambitions or desires because he always wanted to be useful to Kṛṣṇa’s feet.

Sūta returns to the original storyline by picking up with a recap of King Yudhiṣṭhira’s reign.

Feet are a prevalent motif in Vedic symbolism. They are the lowest part of a person. So by saying “he always wanted to be useful to Kṛṣṇa’s feet” it indicated that the King so valued Kṛṣṇa that being useful to him even in the lowest and smallest manner was his only aspiration. Because the King therefore had no personal ambitions, he was completely free from the tenacious tendency towards exploitation. His actions as a leader were motivated only by philanthropic desire to care for the citizens. Thus his kingdom was extremely prosperous and happy.

5-6

His wealth, rituals, queens, brothers, kingdom and sovereignty over the earth was famous throughout the three skies. The gods themselves hanker and lust for what he had, but the king’s mind was full of Lotus-Faced (Mukuṇḍa), so there could never be any hunger for such things.

A hungry belly wants to eat, but a very full belly will turn away even from the most delicious treats. When the mind and heart is saturated with the All-Attractive, there is no hunger for anything else.

7-10

O Bhṛgu’s Son, when that heroic child was in the womb, he saw someone else with him as he began to suffer from the blast of the weapon. He was very pleasing to behold, with black complexion like a dark cloud surrounded by lightning-like yellow clothes and a blazing golden crown; very pure and only a digit in size. He had four beautifully long arms and earrings of purest gold. His eyes were red with anger and there was a mace in his hand. He moved like a shooting star, encircling the child and constantly swinging the mace to dissipate the blast of the weapon, just as the sun evaporates fog. The child thought, “Who is this?”

11

When All-Attractive Hari, who is the soul of all and protector of morality, was seen purifying all directions of danger, he immediately retreated to the inner recesses.

Hari emerged from the inner recesses of reality to protect the child from the weapon’s radiation. But when the child saw him doing so, Hari again disappeared into the inner recesses of reality.


The Beauty of the All Attractive

1.7.8

Having conceived of and polished that godly treatise, he taught it to his learned and renounced son, Śuka.

9

Śaunaka asked: He was dedicated to giving up everything, completely uninterested in acquiring anything. So why would a learned soul already immersed in spiritual bliss bother to take up such a vast study?

10

Sūta answered: From those immersed in spiritual bliss to those who are scholars and even to those who are lawless, everyone wants pure, unmotivated divine love. The qualities of Hari are that wonderful.

11

The thoughts of godly Badarāyaṇa’s son were enraptured by those qualities of Hari. Therefore he eagerly took up the study of that which is dear to those dedicated to Viṣṇu.

This section clarifies how Vyāsa passed the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam on to his son, Śuka. It is a topic of question because Śuka left home immediately upon being born with a fully developed youthful body. Vyāsa followed the boy calling for him to return home, but his calls were replied to only by their own echoes. Śuka had no interest in associating with Vyāsa and did not remain in his company for a moment. So how and when could Vyāsa have passed Śrīmad Bhāgavatam to Śuka?

In the current section, Śaunaka raises this very question: “We know Śuka was completely uninterested in anything his father Vyāsa had to say or offer, so how could he have learned Śrīmad Bhāgavatam from him?”

The answer is: The birth of Śuka took place before Vyāsa met Nārada. After Vyāsa learned about divine love from Nārada he deeply meditated upon it and personally realized it. Thereafter he composed the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. He then went out in search of his son. Upon hearing the change in his father’s level of realization, Śuka understood that Vyāsa had now come to fully appreciate divine love and therefore happily agreed to sit and learn Śrīmad Bhāgavatam from him.

The tenth text in particular is an extreme favorite of the great exemplar of divine love, Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya. He personally explained this text to a handful of fortunate people bringing out dozens of facets within it. The essence of all of them is that everyone is attracted to divine love. It doesn’t matter if you are learned or illiterate, self-realized or self-ignorant, saintly or sinful. The wonderful attributes of Hari are so delightful that everyone is attracted.

Hari is a name describing the All-Attractive as a being so captivating that he steals the heart and mind. Hari is All-Attractive to everyone, but especially to those who are pure, selfless and free from illusion, such as Śuka. Thus Śuka was even more powerfully attracted than anyone else would be to the proposition of learning Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, the Beautiful Exposition of the All-Attractive. Therefore he eagerly and attentively devoted himself to studying it under Vyāsa.


The People Behind the Bhagavatam

 [1.4.1]

Elderly Śaunaka, leader of the sages at the prolonged sacrifice, congratulated and encouraged Sūta.

In this section the head of the sages stood up to congratulate Sūta for his plan to retell the Bhāgavatam, and in excitement inquires about the three most important people responsible for creating the Bhāgavatam: Vyāsa, who conceived of it, Śuka, who put it into words, and Parīkṣit, who inspired Śuka to do so.

[2]

“O Sūta! O greatly blessed Sūta!!! O greatest speaker among speakers, speak to us! Tell us the purifying messages of the All-Attractive, which you learned from blessedly powerful Śuka.

 [3]

A portrayal of Vyasa, who classified the Vedas...

Dark Complexioned Vyasa

“When, where and why was The Black inspired to create this book?

“The Black” is a name for Vyāsa, whose complexion was black. He is therefore also called Kṛṣṇa (“black”), as a short form of his full name: Kṛṣṇa-Dvaipāyana-Vyāsa.

[4]

“His son was a great mystic who saw everything as the same, had no ulterior motives, and was of one mind, fully-awakened; but kept it hidden by appearing to be a fool.

Vyāsa’s son is Śuka. Next, Śaunaka will illustrate the above qualities with an incident he heard about:

[5]

“When naked Śuka passed a group of beautiful bathing women they felt no shyness at all. When his father, Vyāsa came following close behind, however, they scrambled to cover their bodies. Astonished, Vyāsa inquired from the ladies, who told the sage, ‘You see differences between men and women, but your son does not. His sight is pure.’

It is extremely astonishing that a naked young man could pass a group of naked young women bathing without either parties minding or even significantly noticing one another. This is a powerful tribute to the depth of spiritual realization attained by Śuka. True realization is obvious to everyone, you can “sense” it. The women were fully aware that Śuka did not see them as naked women, but as spiritual entities. Therefore they did not mind or even respond at all when the naked young man passed them.

What does this say about Vyāsa’s level of realization? Is it inferior to his son’s?

In a sense, yes, that is what the sage is trying to convey. “Śuka is so great, even superior to Vyāsa.” Although Vyāsa had the same deep realization as his son, the practicalities of his lifestyle were not on that level, and thus his vision was not accustomed to operate on a par with his true realization. Vyāsa was a family man involved in having children, etc. Therefore in practice Vyāsa had to, as a duty, differentiate on a material level between things like male and female. Śuka, however, immediately renounced any type of normal lifestyle and existed on the platform of his pure realization without compromise. Therefore his functional vision was even superior to his father, the revered Vyāsa.

The quality of complete indifference to the male-female polarity in nature is a deep and inimitable trademark of the “equal-vision” which accompanies deep spiritual understanding. It is important to remember that our tendency to see and treat men and women differently is an embarrassment, albeit an embarrassment that is required to keep normal affairs functioning.

[6]

“When he reached the city of Gaja Sāhvage looking wild, deaf and dumb coming out of the Kuru Jungle, how did the citizens appreciate him?

Gaja Sāhvage is another name for Hastināpura, which has now become Delhi.

[7]

“My dear boy, how did he meet the Pandava King – thus setting the stage for this pure discussion of wisdom?

[8]

“He lingers in a worldly home only as long as it takes them to milk a cow. Thus the house becomes a most blessed holy ashram.

Śaunaka had no interest in possessions or food. On the rare occasion that he needed to beg from a common home, he would only accept milk, and would only stay for as long as it took them to get the milk. By his short presence in a home, the character of the place would transform with a spiritually enlivened atmosphere. That was his true purpose in occasionally begging something trifling from the worldly.

[9]

“O Sūta, Abhimanyu’s Son is said to be a topmost blessed lover of Godhead. Please tell us about his greatly wondrous life and deeds!

“Abhimanyu’s Son” is the emperor, Parīkṣit. The leader of the sages, Śaunaka, now turns his appreciations and inquiries to Parīkṣit.

[10]

“He was an emperor in the extremely wealthy Pāṇḍu dynasty. Why would he discard his power and opulence to sit and fast by the Ganges?

The emperor took a vow to fast until death. The sages are astonished about this.

[11]

“Even his enemies would bow down, placing their wealth at his feet for their own best interest. Oh why would such a powerful, opulent, beautiful, young, unconquerable man want to give up his life?

[12]

“People who live to please The Subject of Topmost Poetry live not for their own interest, but for the welfare, growth and prosperity of the world. Why then did he want to give up all connection with his mortal life, which protected so many people?

“The Subject of Topmost Poetry” is another name for Godhead.

Śaunaka surmises that probably Emperor Parīkṣit would easily give up worldly things like power and opulence due to natural lack of interest in them, since he was a greatly elevated lover of Godhead. Devotees of God do not seek annihilation, they always wish to exist to please Godhead; living vigorously for the welfare of Gods energies – the creation and all the people in it. As an emperor, the welfare of many, many people rested upon Parīkṣit. So Śaunaka has to ask Sūta to explain why this emperor was willing to give up his life.

 [13]

“We ask you all these questions because, although you do not practice rituals, we think you are fully acquainted with all subjects and the language used to describe them. Therefore you can clearly explain all of this to us.”

Śaunaka indicates that the ritualistic facets of the Vedas (or of any culture) are inconsequential and it is not important for anyone’s spiritual progress to be well acquainted with them. What is important is to deeply understand complicated subjects and the subtleties of the words sages use to explain them. Śaunaka and the sages felt that Sūta was fully conversant in these topics, and that is why they put so many questions to him, with such eagerness.


History of the Bhagavatam & Qualities of True Teachers

Suta gave a list of important incarnations of Godhead. Then there was a question, “Isn’t God limited by taking incarnations and having form?” – Suta explained that God’s form is beyond form, and the individual’s soul is similar. He then stated bluntly that no one can grasp what this truly means by their logic and intellect alone. To understand such infinite subjects one must be empowered by the infinite Godhead. Thus one must approach the topics of Godhead in a devotional mood.

Suta intends to deliver the topics of Godhead in a devotional mood, by explaining Śrīmad Bhāgavatam to them.

[1.3.40]

This Purāṇa named “Bhāgavatam” is nothing but pure spirit. It is full of the activities of he who inspires the ultimate poetry. It was compiled by the Sage Incarnation especially for the ultimate good of the world. In it reside blessedness, auspiciousness, and greatness!

The term “Sage Incarnation” (bhagavān ṛṣi) is a reference to Vyāsa, the incarnation who recompiled knowledge into more readily understandable formats.

[41-42]

He extracted the essence of the essence of all knowledge and history and put it in the care of his great, self-realized son. It was his son who actually gave it shape by explaining it to Emperor Parīkṣit, who was fasting until his end, surrounded by exalted sages on the Ganges’ shore.

Suka's Bhagavatam Kirtan

The Kirtan of Suka and Pariksit

Vyāsa’s constant task is to extract the essence of the abstracts of knowledge and explain it in more graspable ways. This requires utilization of analogy, metaphor and stories. Thus Vyāsa does not merely extract the essence of philosophy but also of art, presentation, and history. He combines the essence of philosophy with the essence of such subjects to create a presentation that can deliver deep understanding of spiritual concepts not just to dedicated sages living in a forest, but to blue collar workers as well.

He is not primarily a historian or an artist. His primary aim is to communicate knowledge, and he employs the essence of arts and histories to that end, as he deems appropriate.

His work came to a culmination due to the guidance of Narada. He then composed the Srimad Bhagavatam and taught it to his son, Suka. Suka then gave it fuller form by explaining it to Emperor Pariksit.

[43]

Krishna has returned to his own realm, and morality and knowledge have gone with him. The Age of Darkness has ruined the vision of everyone who remains. But now arises the new sun of this Purāṇa!

This is Suta’s direct answer to one of the earlier questions from the Sages, “How can morality and knowledge be protected now that Krishna has left our world?” They will be protected by the Bhāgavata Purāṇa.

[44]

O scholars, I was also in the kirtan of that greatly empowered sage of scholars. By his kindness I could concentrate upon it clearly and understand it. Now I will pass those words on to you, as far as my ability might allow.

A summary of the Bhāgavatam’s history: It was conceived of by Vyāsa as the perfected essence of the essence of his efforts to make true knowledge available. Vyāsa’s son, Śuka, presented it to an audience for the first time – during his kīrtana with the Emporer on the banks of the Ganges. Suta was present there and will now pass on what he learned to the sages of the forest.

Suta exemplifies the qualities of a truly valuable spiritual teacher.

The first quality is to attend to “kīrtana.” Kīrtana means audible glorification. Sometimes it is spoken, sometimes it is sung. Sometimes it is prose, sometimes it is poetry, and sometimes it is merely an important, meaningful word or name repeated with attention and devotion. The greatest “spiritual lottery” one could win would be to attend the kirtan of highly realized speakers and singers, as Suta did by attending the Kirtan of Śuka and Parīkṣit.

The second quality is appreciativeness. Understanding the topics of that exalted kīrtana, Suta did not become proud or arrogant. Instead, he felt so grateful to Śuka for kindly making the effort to explain the topics so easily and thoroughly.

The third quality of a truly valuable spiritual teacher is humility. The true teacher is appreciative towards his or her own teachers and humble before his students. Suta does not consider himself a superman. He admits natural limitations and does his best to communicate what he learned in a manner both relevant and intact.

One who attends kīrtana with full appreciation and who conducts kīrtana with full humility becomes a rising sun of spiritual blessing, dispelling the darkness of the Age of Quarrel.