[delivered as a lecture by
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
before the International Society for
Krishna Consciousness in
Boston, December 22, 1969]
I’m pleased that you are doing things just to my satisfaction. Stick to this principle, and Krsna will bless you. Our line of action is not difficult: chanting sixteen rounds regularly, trying to follow the four restrictive principles, taking prasadam, reading the books, speaking, discussing about the subject matter of devotional service. This is the process.
I am speaking tonight about Pariksit Maharaj, of whom I have spoken several times before. As you know, he had only seven days to meet his death. He was a young man, but somehow or other he was cursed by a brahmana boy that he would meet death within seven days. According to Vedic culture one should prepare very nicely before death for going back to Godhead. This is Vedic culture. In the modern civilization, they do not know what is going to happen after death. But our Vedic culture is not so blind. Vedic culture is based on the aim of human life, not aimless life. Aimless life is animal life. They are governed by the laws of nature. They are going on, transforming from one body to another; and ultimately they are coming, by the evolutionary process, to the human form of life. Especially this civilized human form of life is very responsible. One has to make his choice whether he wants to continue his materialistic way of life and change bodies one after another. That is a very risky job. We should always remember that in our next body we may be given a body of a tree. Just see, in this part of the world, what a condemned life they are leading—forced to stand in the snowfall. You have a house; you can protect yourself. They cannot even move. So there is possibility of getting such life. We should be very responsible about how to avoid such laws of nature. We can enter any form of life out of 8,400,000 species that are evolving. We should always remember that if by chance we slip down to one of them, then we have wasted our time. This is responsibility.
Labdhva sudurlabham idam bahu sambhavante. Bahu sambhavante means after many, many appearances. This present body is one of the appearances—it will never appear again. You or I may have to appear again in a different body, but this human form of life is a great opportunity. Bahu sambhavante. Bahu means many, and sambhavante means appearances. Then, labdhva sudurlabham. Su means very costly, and durlabham means to gain with very great difficulty. This responsibility must be there in the human form of life. “After many, many appearances one can achieve this human form of body, and can achieve a great success in this life.” This is the hint given. Therefore, for that great success, everyone should try his best. One must not think, “Now that we are young men, young boys and girls, let us enjoy life.” That facility is very easy to obtain in your country. In the schools, colleges, in society, the young boys and girls have ample facility for enjoying material life. Material life means sex life. But the Srimad-Bhagavatam says you should immediately try for the ultimate success of your life. Don’t spoil your life. If we become absorbed in the course of the materialistic way of enjoyment, then naturally we have to take birth again in another body, not necessarily of human form. The Bhagavatam says that unless we purify our mind and consciousness, we must accept a material body and again accept all miserable conditions that we are undergoing with this body. This is not a pessimistic view of life. This is a fact.
Only responsible persons can understand. Sanatana Gosvami and Rupa Gosvami were ministers of government. Their society was very aristocratic, and they were very rich. But wealth and aristocratic society could not satisfy their desire. They left their enjoyable posts and followed Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu for the ultimate solution of life. The examples are many. Lord Caitanya’s direct disciples are all very important men. For example, Svarupa Damodara, Lord Caitanya’s secretary, was a very learned man, a Vedantist. And the Gosvamis—Sanatana Gosvami, Rupa Gosvami, Raghunathadasa Gosvami—were very important and rich men of that time. Raghunathadasa Gosvami happened to he the son of a very big landlord or zamindar. In those days, five hundred years ago, his father’s income was 1,200,000 rupees. He was the only son of his father and uncle, but he did not like to enjoy the father’s property. He joined Caitanya Mahaprabhu and is known as Raghunathadasa Gosvami. Gopala Bhatta Gosvami and Jiva Gosvami (a very learned scholar and philosopher, the nephew of Rupa Gosvami) were all very important men of society. They joined Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu to make their lives successful, and we should take their example for our own success. The successful life means to change our consciousness to Krsna consciousness. That is success. All you young boys and girls, you are fortunate. I’m not bluffing you; actually you are fortunate. You have come to the right place where you can learn Krsna consciousness. This is the greatest boon of life. The sastras say that you should try very quickly to face this business. Pariksit Maharaj was aware that he was going to live for seven days, but we do not know whether our life will last for seven days or seven minutes. It may end at any moment; there is no guarantee. Don’t think that we shall take up this business of Krsna consciousness in old age. From the example of Pariksit Maharaj, we can take the lesson that we do not know when we shall die. But before death we have to become competent in Krsna consciousness. What is the competence? To be twenty-four hours a day, always thinking of Krsna. This is Krsna consciousness.
At the last stage of his life Pariksit Maharaj got the association of a big Krsna conscious personality, Sukadeva Gosvami. He asked him, “My dear sir, I’m now going to die; what is my duty? Please tell me.” Pariksit Maharaj was born in the family of the Pandus. He is the grandson of Arjuna. Arjuna’s son, Abhimanyu, died in the battlefield of Kuruksetra, He was a sixteen-year-old boy at that time, but he was married. Fortunately, when he died, his wife was pregnant. Pariksit Maharaj was the posthumous child. He was born after the death of his father; he never saw his father. His grandfather raised him. All the Pandava boys died in the battlefield. Of the whole family, only the five brothers remained alive, and this child who was in the womb of his mother. Otherwise, all the members of the whole Kuru family died in the battle—it was such a big fight. This child was also hit by atomic energy, or brahmastra, but Krsna saved him. Krsna wanted the descendant of His devotee to live on. The Pandavas are a very good Krsna conscious family. Krsna wants to give protection to the Krsna conscious men and families. That you know from the Bhagavad-gita. So the child was saved, even in the womb of his mother, by Krsna. Krsna could also have saved him from the curse by a brahmana boy, but Pariksit Maharaj did not like the idea. He took it very seriously: “I have offended the brahmana and he has cursed me. That’s nice.” How liberal he was! He accepted and immediately prepared for death. After all, he was a great devotee. In his childhood he was playing with Radha-Krsna Deity. Just like our child-devotee, Dvarakadish das. He is playing with Jagannatha. That is very nice. My father also gave me Deities in my childhood, and I had the opportunity to serve Radha-Krsna from childhood. Pariksit Maharaj asked Sukadeva Gosvami to recite to him about Krsna. Although he was very anxious to know about his duty, he was thinking that his only duty was to think of Krsna at the last stage. Therefore, he asked his spiritual master if he could hear about Krsna at this last point of his life. Sukadeva Gosvami was ,very glad that the King was already anxious Sukadeva was just going to advise him to think of Krsna, but he found that he was already anxious to think of Krsna. He was always thinking of Krsna, and even from childhood he was playing with Radha-Krsna Deities. From the womb of his mother he saw Krsna. After his birth he was searching after that figure who saved him. Therefore, his name was Pariksit, or “Examiner.” Many people were present after his birth, and he was looking all around thinking, “Where is that form of Krsna?” Therefore his name is Pariksit. When he inquired from Sukadeva Gosvami if he could hear about Krsna, Sukadeva Gosvami replied: variyan esa te prasnah krto loka-hitam nrpa atmavit-sammatah pumsam srotavyadisu yah parah. My dear King, you are very fortunate. Your question about Krsna is welcome. You are inquiring about Krsna, so this very question is very important. And this is not only good for you, it is good for all the human society. Because you have questioned, I shall reply. Questions and answers about Krsna are so important that in the future these questions and answers will be discussed in the human society.” Actually it is being done now. We are discussing the same incidence. And he said, “This question is so authorized that those who are interested in self realization will approve it.” Sukadeva is saying, “Yes, this is a nice question. It is not a bogus question. This type of question should be inquired.”
The whole world is full with questions and answers, these questions and answers about Krsna are approved by those who are self realized; they are not appreciated by the bodily realized. There are two classes of men. The bodily realized make up 99.9 percent of the population—always thinking of the body And there is another class called atmavit, self realized Krsna conscious persons. There are many kinds of subject matter for hearing, but this is the sublime subject for hearing, questions and answers about Krsna. Parah means sublime, and srotavya means worthwhile hearing. Why is it sublime? Sukadeva said: Srotavyadini rajendra nrnam santi sahasrasah apasyatam atma-tattvam grhesu grha-medhinam. This matter of Srimad-Bhagavatam is such exalted transcendental knowledge that there are 18,000 verses and you can realize great transcendental importance in each verse and each word. This Bhagavat Puranam, this old history of the world, is spotless. Srimad-Bhagavatam is also history. Pariksit Maharaj was cursed by a brahmana. He was a king, Emperor of the world, and we are hearing how he met his death. These things are described in the history. But it is not ordinary history, not what we generally mean by chronological history. It is the history of the most important, or at least one of the most important kings of the world. This history of his life and death is historical fact.
Sukadeva Gosvami said, “My dear King, srotavyadini rajendra nrnam santi sahasrasah. For ordinary men there are many, many subject matters for hearing.” Just as in the newspapers there are many varieties of news, but they are meant—for whom?—for ordinary men. They are not meant for us; we don’t care for what is happening in the newspapers. Although, early in the morning, everyone else is anxious to read them, the boys and girls of the Hare Krsna movement do not care for the newspapers. This is the very fact which is stated by Sukadeva. What is the newspaper? The Sanskrit word is srotavyadini. Srotavya means that thing which is to be heard. Unless there is some news, what will you hear? So this word srotavyadini means subject of news. He addressed the King: “Dear Emperor, there are many varieties of subject matters for hearing by the human being.” But what class of human being? There are many different kinds of knowledge for those who are fools and rascals without any self realization. They are called blind. They have eyes, but they have no introspection for the value of life. Therefore, he says they have eyes like the eyes of the peacock feather. They have no introspection. Therefore, Vedic culture says you should see through sastra (scripture). Don’t try to see by these eyes. These are only valueless eyes. They are conditioned in so many ways, so don’t believe the eyes. See through the sastra. See through the spiritual master and through the sastra. Try to see through these—this is perfection.
The subject matter for hearing for the ordinary person means for those who are engaged in family matters. But does it mean to become a family man is bad? No, it doesn’t. But if you become grhamedhi, that is particularly mentioned as bad. In family life there are also two classes of men, grhastha and grhamedhi. Therefore, we can see that each and every word of Srimad-Bhagavatam has new, enlightening meaning. There is a difference between grhastha and grhamedhi. Grhamedhi means ordinary persons Whose household life and home have been made the center of the householder’s existence. Earlier tonight I was seeing the rooms of our grhastha householders, our boys and girls, and their things are scattered. If you go to another person’s home, you will find his apartment nicely decorated with chairs, cushions and sitting pads. But they have no vision about self. Here, we see their household affairs and their resting places are not so nicely decorated, but their aim is Krsna. That is the difference between grhamedhi and grhastha. Grhamedhi means they simply want to decorate their apartment and children and wife; that is their aim of life. They have no other business. They are blind to the value of life; whereas a grhastha is not blind about the value of his life. He’s simply looking forward, how to become successful in Krsna consciousness. Those who are blind to the point of self realization have thousands of subject matters of hearing in the newspapers. The ordinary householders have made their aim of life to decorate the apartment, that’s all—work day and night and have good dress, good apartment, that’s all. They think that this is successful. For them there are many thousands of news items. Why do they have thousands of varieties of news? What is their mode of life? This will be explained. Sukadeva Gosvami is describing their mode of life: Nidraya hriyate naktam vyavayena ca va vayah diva carthehaya rajan kutumba-bharanena va. “At night they are wasting their duration of life either by sleeping or by sex life.” That’s all. This is their business at night. Then at daytime, what is their business? In daytime they are always busy: “Where is money, where is money, where is money?” Then they are getting money. And as soon as there is money, they immediately have a program of how to spend it perfectly. They will spend thousands of dollars for family and relatives, but if you ask a dollar for Krsna consciousness they will say, “I do not have any.” So for these persons, there are varieties of material nature. This is the program for their life: at night either sleeping or going to the night club or dancing club, sex life, that’s all. Not that these things are new. These are old things. People are long accustomed to all these things; it is human nature. And yet they are thinking, “We are in the modern days.” What do they mean by modern days? Nothing has changed by putting the old wine in new bottles. Practically this is going on. So the question is why are they wasting their life? That is answered also.
The Bhagavatam says: dehapatya-kalatradisv atma-sainyesv asatsv api tesam pramatto nidhanam pasyann api na pasyati. Deha means this body. Apatya means his children. Kalatra means wife. Just as the nation thinks it is well-protected when it has good defense measures, so an ordinary man thinks that if he has a strongly built body and a very faithful wife, nice children, good bank balance, some property, securities, these things will give him protection. “Yes,” he believes, “they will give me protection. I have nice children, I have nice wife, I have a good bank balance, I have so many properties, so why shall I go to Krsna consciousness? I am well-protected. These boys and girls have no bank balance, they have no home; therefore they should go.” But actually they are blind. How are they blind? They are thinking that these things will give them protection. Pramatta means crazy. Their craziness is thinking that these things will give them protection. No. tesam pramatto nidhanam pasyann api na pasyati. Because he is crazy, he does not see the destruction of these things, although he is seeing others destroyed at every moment. “My father has died, naturally I shall die, naturally my sons also will die,”—so why are you so anxious for protecting this family? Everyone will die. They can see daily that the things they are working so hard for will be destroyed; but still they do not see, although it has been destroyed previously in history. Many empires have been destroyed previously in history. Many empires have been destroyed. The British empire, the Roman empire, the Egyptian Empire—all have been destroyed. Also, the Indian empire is now gone where formerly Pariksit Maharaj was the emperor of the world. They see that these things cannot give one protection when he is called for death.
Pariksit Maharaj was preparing. It was not that his good soldiers, children, wife, country, or bank balance could protect him. No. Nobody can give any protection. For example, when you fly in the sky you have to protect yourself. And if you are crashing in the airplane, nobody—neither the birds or other airplanes—can save you. You have to come down. Similarly when death will come, nobody will be able to give You protection. You cannot say, “My good state, good family or bank balance or this or that will protect me.” No. That’s all. Finished. Sukadeva Gosvami is giving right instructions to Pariksit Maharaj. The rascaldom news of ordinary persons is not meant for hearing.
Therefore he concludes: Tasmad bharata sarvatma bhagavan isvaro harih srotavyah kirtitavyas ca smartavyas cecchatabhayam. Cecchata abhayam. If one is actually expecting that he shall be protected, there should be no more fearfulness. Sukadeva Gosvami is instructing that if you simply divert your attention to the varieties of newspaper or any other information of this world, which is for the grhamedhi, whose business is to sleep at night and work hard at daytime, that will not give you protection. What you have to do is hear about Bhagavan, hari isvara.
Sukadeva addresses Pariksit Maharaj as the descendant of Bharata. Pariksit Maharaj happened to be descendant of the Kuru dvnasty, which was begun from King Bharata. There are two or three Bharatas in the history of the Vedic literature. One Bharata is Lord Ramacandra’s younger brother. Bharat’s mother wanted to make him King. Therefore, by palace diplomacy, Ramacandra was sent to the forest. He was faithful to his brother, but by his mother’s diplomacy Lord Ramacandra was sent to the forest. This is one celebrated Bharata. Another Bharata is the forefather of the Kuru dynasty. And another Bharata was the son of Rsabhadeva, by whose name this whole planet is called Bharatavarsa. Sukadeva is addressing Pariksit Maharaj as the descendant of King Bharata. He says, “You have to talk and hear about sarvatma, the supersoul sitting in everyone’s heart. He is called Bhagavan, the Personality of Godhead, full with all opulences.” Bhagavan, this word, every word of Srimad-Bhagavatam suggests volumes of meaning. And He is called Hari, which means He who can take away all your sufferings. And He’s isvara, the supreme controller.
So instead of diverting your attention to the varieties of news of this world, you must always hear about Him. Hear, and then preach. After hearing, the next thing is spreading. Therefore, we have our disciples like Kirtanananda Maharaj who will preach. Pushing out the news of Krsna. First of all hearing, then spreading and thinking. Always be thinking, or else what will you preach? You hear, you think of it, you preach; this is the business. Those who are actually seeking protection in the bank balance, or in this or that—they will never succeed. Pariksit Maharaj was advised by Sukadeva Gosvami, “This is your business—become Krsna conscious.” He was at the point of death. But you cannot take to this business all of a sudden. Even if it is advised. You must practice it. You cannot become a good soldier on the battlefield. You have to receive military training before going to the battle. So this Krsna consciousness movement is training, for when you ultimately meet death.