Srimad Bhagavatam

SB 1.9 - Bhīṣma's recollection of the Pāṇḍavas' suffering

Bhīṣma congratulated the Pāṇḍavas, and overwhelmed by love and affection, he shed tears of ecstasy. Bhīṣma recollected the terrible sufferings and injustices the Pāṇḍavas underwent for being the sons of religion personified. They managed to survive being protected by vipra (brāhmaṇas), dharma (religion) and acyuta (God). Thus Yudhiṣṭhira should not regret the great massacre of the battle. As long as a person is fully in cooperation with the wishes of the Lord, guided by the brāhmaṇas and Vaiṣṇavas and strictly following the religious principles, one has no cause for despondency, however trying the circumstances of life. Bhīṣma said that the king should not live his life in suffering since that is dangerous and improper. If others lived like that, that was their concern. The improper situation had arisen because of Viṣṇu, the mover and maintainer of the whole universe.

SB 1.9 - The influence of inevitable time

Upon Pāṇḍu’s death, Kuntī became a widow with many children and thus suffered greatly. And when the children grew up, she continued to suffer because of their actions. This means Kuntī was destined to suffer by providence. This was all due to inevitable time, under whose control everyone in every planet is carried, just as the clouds are carried by the wind. Speaking the words of the common people, Bhīṣma said that it was due to time that the Pāṇḍavas suffered. Yudhiṣṭhira was well known as the direct incarnation of dharma. If he had prārabdha karmas how could he have had any sense of dharma? Therefore the cause was not karma but time, which cannot be countered and cannot be explained. Everything is controlled by the supreme kāla, a forceful representative of the Lord within the material world. Thus Yudhiṣṭhira should not be sorry for the inconceivable action of time. Even the most pious has to suffer the condition of material nature including Brahmā. One should be faithful to the Lord being guided by the devotees following the religious principles. Therefore, one should not grudge being controlled by time despite being a true follower of religious principles.

The influence of time is wonderful and irreversible. Otherwise how could there have been reverses in the presence of Yudhiṣṭhira, the son of religion; Bhīma, the great fighter; the great bowman Arjuna with his mighty Gāṇḍīva; and above all, the Lord, the direct well wisher of the Pāṇḍavas? Materially the Pāṇḍavas were well equipped with two great warriors, namely Bhīma and Arjuna. Spiritually the king himself was the symbol of religion, and Kṛṣṇa was also present. Still the Pāṇḍavas suffered so many reverses which can only be explained due to inevitable time. The wheel of time does not afflict the devotees according to SB 3.25.38. Thus it was most astonishing that time could attack the Pāṇḍavas who were filled with dāsya, sakhya and vātsalya for Kṛṣṇa. Kāla is identical with the Lord, and thus the influence of kāla indicates the inexplicable wish of the Lord Himself. Śrīdhara Svāmī says that Bhīṣma pointed his finger at Kṛṣṇa saying that all events happened by His desire.

SB 1.9 - The inconceivable plan of the Lord

Bhīṣma confirms that no one can know the plan of the Lord and even though great philosophers and demigods like Brahmā and Śiva inquire exhaustively, they are still bewildered. It is best to simply abide by the orders of the Lord than to uselessly inquire about His plans. The Lord has to execute the plan of establishing the kingdom of virtue, and therefore His devotees suffered temporarily. Bhīṣma was satisfied to see the triumph of virtue. Even though he was a great devotee but he chose to fight against the Pāṇḍavas by the will of the Lord because the Lord wanted to show that even a great fighter like Bhīṣma cannot win on the wrong side.

No one may be aware of the plan of the Lord. Did he want to give the Pāṇḍavas suffering? It cannot be because then His quality of being affectionate to His devotee would be canceled. Did He want to give them joy? It cannot be because they had not seen any happiness. Did He want to give suffering and happiness? It cannot be because that would be a contradiction to His kind nature. So one cannot solve the problem by inquiry. Thus even those who use their intelligence to discriminate and those who use knowledge of scripture are bewildered by inquiry.

Bhīṣma asked Yudhiṣṭhira to accept the inconceivable plan of the Lord and take care of the subjects who had been rendered helpless. How can one not know the plan of the Lord when they could have asked the Lord, who was present at the moment right in front of them? In reply, Bhīṣma said that the Lord bewilders them with His energy. Even if asked by Bhīṣma, the Lord would not speak but instead evade him by answering ‘Am I so intelligent?’. Even if He said something, He would still bewilder everyone. Therefore His plan was to be followed and not subject to inquiry.

SB 1.9 - Kṛṣṇa is the Original Personality of Godhead

The Lord teaches the world by teaching the devotee. The devotee need not learn anything new from the Lord because he is taught by the Lord from within. Whenever, therefore, a show is made to teach the devotee, as in the case of Bhagavad-gītā, it is for teaching the less intelligent men. A devotee’s duty therefore is to ungrudgingly accept tribulations from the Lord as a benediction. Since the Lord is absolute there is no difference between the tribulations and the favors given by Him. The poor subjects were without protection due to the battle of Kurukṣetra and thus Bhīṣma asked Yudhiṣṭhira to accept the responsibility of administration without hesitation.

This Kṛṣṇa (whose inconceivable plan should be accepted without grudge) is none other than the Original Personality of Godhead (sākṣād bhagavān). He is the first or original Nārāyaṇa (ādyo Nārāyaṇa), the supreme enjoyer. But He moved among the Vṛṣṇis just as an ordinary person and bewildered everyone with His māyā. Bhīṣma was a great authority who spoke about Kṛṣṇa. The way to receive transcendental knowledge is to accept the authority of disciplic succession. People have no hesitation believing whatever the scientists say but they foolishly deny the authority of the Vedas. Bhīṣma, one of the 12 mahājanas, confirms Kṛṣṇa being the Original Personality of Godhead. Kṛṣṇa is the original Nārāyaṇa. From Kṛṣṇa all other expansions of viṣṇu-tattva come. He is the creator of the material world as well. Thus His movements among the human beings is a bewilderment. Only the foolish consider Him to be one of the humans. This is due to the influence of māyā.

SB 1.9 - The knowers of glories of the Lord

Lord Śiva, Nārada and Kapila know very confidentially about Kṛṣṇa’s glories thru direct contact but not His intentions. These three are among the 12 mahājanas – Brahmā, Kumāra, Manu, Prahlāda, Bhīṣma, Janaka, Śuka, Bali and Yama. Viśvanātha Cakravartī explains that anubhāva, or the glory of the Lord, is first appreciated by the devotee in ecstasy (devotee in bhāva bhakti) manifesting the symptoms of perspiring, trembling, weeping etc, which are further enhanced by the steady understanding of the glories of the Lord. Such bhāvas are exchanged between Yaśodā and the Lord (binding Him by ropes) and in the chariot driving by the Lord in His exchange of love with Arjuna. These glories of the Lord are exhibited in His being subordinate to His devotees.

Śiva and others know those actions of Kṛṣṇa which He chooses to reveal (anubhāvam) but not His intentions, His real form or His real powers. The knower of rasa-śāstras knows first of all anubhāvas (glories) and sāttvika-bhāvas – paralysis, perspiration etc. By that he can understand the sthāyi-bhāva (steady or permanent emotion). By the particular qualities and intensity of the anubhāvas, he can understand the particular qualities and intensity of the sthāyi-bhāva. The knower of rasa-śāstras knows the anubhāva of Kṛṣṇa being tied by a rope by Yaśodā, and the dependent anubhāva of Kṛṣṇa being the charioteer for Arjuna, Yudhiṣṭhira and Ugrasena. The knower of rasa then infers that there exists something special in these cases which controls and melts the heart of even the Supreme Lord. That object, which melts the hearts of the viṣaya (Kṛṣṇa) and āśraya (devotee), which has many varieties and which brings both parties under the control of the other is called prema. Seeing that Kṛṣṇa is controlled more when He sees His devotees, who generate prema in Him, the knower of rasa infers that there is intense prema in the siddha and sādhaka devotees. He then concludes that Kṛṣṇa is the cause of difficulties for devotees, in order to increase their devotion to that level. Śiva, Nārada and Kapila know this. One sees an increase in prema in Draupadī and others when their difficulties increase. Śiva and Nārada know the anubhāvas or symptoms in the Lord. Other foolish people do not know them, like Kṛṣṇa allowing Himself to be tied up. They explain it as some sort of fake display.

SB 1.9 - The meaning of surrender

Śuka and the Kumāras, although situated in transcendence, became converted by another feature of bhāva and turned into pure devotees. Tribulations imposed upon the devotees by the Lord constitute another exchange of bhāva between the Lord and the devotees. Placing the devotees into material troubles delivers the devotee from illusory material relations. The difficulties the devotees experience are not prārabdha-karmas since they are given by the Lord alone. When material resources, the basis of material enjoyment, are withdrawn by the Lord, the devotee becomes fully attracted toward the transcendental loving service of the Lord. Thus the Lord snatches the fallen soul from the mire of material existence. Sometimes the Lord increases His devotee’s bhakti without giving problems to him. Thus it is said that no one knows the plan of the Lord. What stops one from being distraught in this world is unshakeable faith in Kṛṣṇa as one’s personal shelter, which is what śaraṇāgati means.

SB 1.9 - There is nothing but Kṛṣṇa

Bhīṣma said the Personality, who the king thought to be his maternal cousin, dear friend, well wisher, counselor, messenger etc, is that very Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. This shows the anubhāvas or actions performed by Kṛṣṇa out of deep love. The Lord, out of His causeless mercy, performs all kinds of service but still retains His position as the Absolute Person. To think of Him as an ordinary person is the grossest type of ignorance. His actions like being a messenger are not a deviation of His mind. Being the Absolute Lord, He is present in everyone’s heart. He is equally kind to everyone and is free from the false ego of differentiation. Therefore, whatever He does is free from material inebriety. Being the soul of everyone, there is nothing but Kṛṣṇa. Everything and everyone is the manifestation of His energy, and thus He is present everywhere by His energy, being non different from it. The sun is identified with its rays. Similarly the Lord is distributed by His different energies. Because there is no one else, He has no pride.

He is the supreme guidance of all, being situated in everyone’s hearts, and thus He is already the chariot driver and counsel of all living beings. There is no superior or inferior action because of His absolute spiritual identity, and so He does not feel inferior by becoming the chariot driver of His pure devotee. Even though He is the Supersoul and thus equal to all, and because everything that exists is His potency, still being controlled by the love of His devotees, Kṛṣṇa thinks He is their friend or kinsman. A devotee being filled with prema, does not consider his suffering caused by sinful acts that he alone has performed, to be suffering because of his prema. Thus the Lord who is full of all powers and is bliss personified can have no suffering from His actions of prema

SB 1.9 - Kṛṣṇa's affection for His devotees

Despite His being equally kind to everyone, Kṛṣṇa graciously came before Bhīṣma, while Bhīṣma was ending his life, for Bhīṣma was His unflinching servitor. This is another of His anubhāvas, for it was actually to show mercy to Yudhiṣṭhira that He came before Bhīṣma. Having unflinching faith in the Supreme Lord as one’s protector, friend and master is the natural condition of eternal life. A living entity is so made by the will of the Almighty that he is most happy when placing himself in a condition of absolute dependence. But when the living entity tries to lord it over, he falls down. Bhīṣma had no bodily relation to the Lord, and so his attraction to the Lord was due to the intimate relation of the soul. Yet because the relation of the body is very pleasing and natural, the Lord is more pleased when He is addressed as the son of Nanda, the son of Yaśodā, the lover of Rādhārāṇī. This affinity by bodily relation with the Lord is another feature of reciprocating loving service with the Lord. Bhīṣma, being aware of this, addressed the Lord as Vijaya-sakhe, Pārtha-sakhe etc. The best way to establish our relation in transcendental sweetness is to approach Him thru His recognized devotees.

SB 1.9 - The devotee yogī's liberation

Kṛṣṇa, who appears in the mind of the devotee by attentive devotion and meditation and by chanting of the holy name, releases the devotee (yogī) from the bondage of fruitive activities at the time of death. Yoga means concentration of the mind detached from all other subject matter. Such concentration is samādhi. A yogī devotee engages himself 24 hours daily in the nine fold devotional service of the Lord namely hearing, chanting, remembering, becoming a voluntary servant, worshiping, praying, carrying out orders, establishing a friendly relationship or offering all that one may possess. Such a perfect yogī is enabled by the grace of the Lord to concentrate his mind upon the Lord with perfect consciousness, and thus by chanting the holy name before quitting the body the yogī is at once transferred by the internal energy of the Lord to one of the eternal planets where there are no material miseries. Material life is produced by material desires where one has to endure the threefold miseries. Devotional service does not kill the natural desires of the living being but they are applied in the right cause of devotional service. Bhīṣma is referring to bhakti yoga here and he was fortunate to have the Lord directly in his presence before he quit his material body.

SB 1.9 - Bhīṣma's worshipable Deity

Bhīṣma prayed that his Lord, who is four-handed and who has a beautifully decorated lotus face, with eyes as red as the rising sun, await him at the moment he quit his body. Bhīṣma knew that Kṛṣṇa is the original Nārāyaṇa, but his worshipable Deity was four-handed Nārāyaṇa. It was the form of Kṛṣṇa mentioned in the mantra he used during meditation. Although it was sure that Bhīṣma would attain Vaikuṇṭha, still as a humble Vaiṣṇava he desired to see the face of the Lord, for he thought he would not see the Lord any more after quitting his body. A pure devotee is never anxious to go back to the kingdom of God. He entirely depends on the goodwill of the Lord. His only desire is to be in rapt attention thinking of the lotus feet of the Lord.