Srimad Bhagavatam - day 259
There are significant differences between the earlier four cantos and the future ones. In the past four cantos the subject matter was tough to digest. In the form of stories Self-knowledge was repeatedly taught. At one place we were discussing the conversation between Maharishi Śuka and Parikshit; at other places between Maharishis Suta and Śounaka, at other junctions between Maitreya Maharishi and Vidura and so on. It was like climbing up and sliding down repeatedly. The subject appeared easy and at the same time difficult to comprehend. We got lost in the process at places. Nevertheless if these Cantos are repeatedly heard, surely the subject matter will be grasped. Each of these episodes should be heard a minimum of 2 or 3 times for proper understanding of the subject.
We now enter the fifth canto. Sri Krishna Parabrahmane namah
This Canto is said to be the navel for the Supreme Lord as it contains supreme worthy topics. The story of Emperor Priyavrata who, totally established in the Self’s bliss, continued to lead a house-holder’s life is explained. Stories of Emperor Agnidhruva, Bharata, Jadabharata and many other treasured stories, the description of the various worlds and many other important topics are covered.
These topics enhance both theoretical and experiential knowledge in the person. Let us therefore enter into this Fifth Canto, absorb the initiation given therein and fulfill the goal of life. Let us become worthy of obtaining the Lord’s grace.
Fifth Canto Chapter One
Emperor Parikshit was supremely knowledgeable. He had unsurpassed love towards the Lord. He deeply contemplated upon the following questions, ‘How does the Lord uplift his devotees? What is His contribution towards ensuring the welfare of His devotees? How does He ensure they walk the path prescribed by Him?’ He then asked Maharishi Śuka,
“O Maharishi! O supreme among the knowers of the Self! You had said that Priyavrata was an ardent devotee of the Lord and was eternally immersed in Self’s bliss. Why did this supreme person continue to lead a house-holder’s life? How did he live?
Those who are deeply desirous of material and sensory pleasures get totally immersed into a house-holder’s way of life. In this process they completely forget their original Self and get totally bound by frutitive activities. On the other hand, those who have no desire towards sensory pleasures do not seek the house-holder’s life.
Mahatāṁ khalu viprarṣe uttamaśloka-pādayoḥ
Chāyā-nirvṛta-cittānāṁ na kuṭumbe spṛhā-matiḥ
O saint who knows the essence of all the Vedas! The mind of Mahatmas who have sought shelter under the lotus feet of Lord Srihari, who is of great renown, is eternally at peace. They have no inclination towards these worldly bondages such as wife, sons, wealth, house etc. How could Emperor Priyavrata, who lived amidst these bondages, develop unflinching faith towards Srikrishna? How did Self-knowledge emerge in him? Please dispel these doubts of mine”.
Maharishi Śuka replied, “O emperor! Your question is truly laudable. Those who have tasted the nectar from the lotus feet of Lord Srihari and whose mind is totally fixed upon them only can think in this manner. Such persons consider Srihari’s transcendental glories to be their sadhana and are totally immersed in them. Self-realized persons see Srihari as their own Self! For this reason, even if obstacles come on their glorious path, they relentlessly pursue it.
Prince Priyavrata was one such supreme devotee! He obtained initiation from Maharishi Narada and through this was able to understand the true form of the Supreme Lord. He was determined to dedicate his entire life-span for perfection in this Self-knowledge.
However, all kingly qualities that are described in the Scriptures existed completely in him. For this reason, his father ordered him to rule the kingdom. Priyavrata was aware that it was improper to go against the orders of his father. However his mind was fixed exclusively upon Lord Srikrishna. He had offered all the activities of the senses i.e. seeing, hearing, etc., to the Lord. For this reason he believed that by accepting the responsibility of the kingdom, he would be disrespecting his original Self. Hence he did not welcome his father’s command.
Although kingdom and other material activities are illusory in nature, they have great ability to completely veil the original Self. This entire universe has emerged due to the imbalances within the trigunas, which belong to Nature (Prakriti). Lord Brahma always thinks about the welfare of this creation. He knows the opinions of all the living entities in the creation.
One day, Lord Brahma accompanied by the Vedas and by his attendants left his abode in Satya-loka and arrived on earth. At various places en-route the Devatas who were seated in their celestial airplanes worshipped Lord Brahma. All through the path hordes of accomplished Siddhas, Gandharvas, Maharishis, Cāraṇas sang his glories.
Just like the pleasant Moon he arrived at the base of Mountain Gandhamādhana and approached Priyavrata. At that moment Priyavrata’s father Swāyambhuva Manu and Maharishi Narada were also present there. Seeing Lord Brahma who, seated on his swan, was descending towards them, Maharishi Narada, Manu and Priyavrata stood up reverentially. Thereafter they worshipped Lord Brahma, extolled his special qualities and the significances of his incarnation.
Lord Brahma, who was very pleased, looked at Priyavrata with a charming smile and said, “My dear son, I speak the truth. Remember that Srihari can never ever be understood through direct visible proofs. It is incorrect to look at Him accusingly. Neither Shiva, myself, your father Manu nor Maharishi Narada are independent entities. We simply abide by the orders of Lord Srihari. We cannot disobey”.