Srimad Bhagavatam

SB 1.10 - The golden rule of King Yudhiṣṭhira

During the reign of Yudhiṣṭhira, the clouds showered all the water people needed, and the earth produced all the necessities of man in profusion. Due to its fatty milk bags and cheerful attitude, the cow used to moisten the grazing ground with milk. The basic principle of economic development is centered on land and cows. The necessities of human society are food grains, fruits, milk, minerals, clothing, wood etc. With these one can fulfill the needs of the body. During the regime of Yudhiṣṭhira there were regulated rainfalls, which are not under the control of human beings. When the Lord is obeyed by the king, there are regulated rains, which cause all varieties of production on the land. Grains and vegetables can sumptuously feed men and animals, and a fatty cow delivers enough milk that supplies vigor and vitality. When there are enough of these natural resources, there is no need for artificial luxuries like cinemas, cars etc. Thus in contrast with the modern form of government, an autocracy like Yudhiṣṭhira’s is far superior to a so-called democracy in which animals are killed. Human civilizations should depend on the production of material nature without attempting economic development to turn the world into a chaos of artificial greed and power.

The rivers, oceans, hills, mountains etc paid their tax quota to the king in profusion since the king was under the protection of the Lord. Without the Lord’s sanction, nothing can be possible. The rivers, oceans, forests and mountains are not creations of man but are creations of the Lord. So one is allowed to make use of the property of the Lord for the service of the Lord. If the Lord is pleased every part of nature will be pleased. The river will flow profusely to fertilize the land; the oceans will supply sufficient quantities of minerals, pearls and jewels; the forest will supply sufficient wood, drugs and vegetables, and the seasonal changes will effectively help produce flowers and fruits in profuse quantity.

King Yudhiṣṭhira had no enemy and because of this the living beings were not disturbed by mental agonies, diseases or excessive heat or cold. Thus they were free from anxieties caused by nature, by other living beings or by themselves. In this age innocent animals are being killed and therefore the poor creatures are always anxious. This reaction is being forced on human society and thus there is always the threat of wars. But Yudhiṣṭhira kept all his citizens free from anxiety, diseases and excessive heat and cold. They were economically well to do and undisturbed by supernatural power, by enmity from other living beings and by disturbance of bodily and mental agonies. This was all possible because the king was pious and obedient to the Lord and sages, and so the citizens were also directly protected by the Lord and His authorized agents.

SB 1.10 - Kṛṣṇa prepares to depart for Dvārakā

Kṛṣṇa resided at Hastināpura for a few months to pacify His relatives and please His sister, Subhadrā. After the battle of Kurukṣetra, Kṛṣṇa was to start for Dvārakā but to oblige Yudhiṣṭhira and to show mercy to Bhīṣma, He stayed at Hastināpura. He stayed there to pacify the aggrieved king and to please Subhadrā, who had lost her son Abhimanyu.

After the king gave permission to depart, the Lord offered Yudhiṣṭhira respects by bowing down at his feet, embraced Bhīma and Arjuna who were of the same age as He, and received obeisances from Nakula and Sahadeva, who were younger than Him. The Lord takes pleasure when His devotees accept Him as less important in terms of love. At that time Subhadrā, Draupadī, Gāndhārī, Dhṛtarāṣṭra and others nearly fainted because it was impossible for them to bear separation from Lord Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is very attractive to all living beings and especially to His devotees. When He left Vraja, all the Vrajavāsīs felt great shock throughout their lives. All devotees of the Lord who have contacted Him by direct communion or otherwise can never leave Him for a moment. That is the attitude of the pure devotee.

SB 1.10 - Associating with the Lord

The intelligent, who have understood the Lord in association with pure devotees and have become freed from bad association, can never avoid hearing the glories of the Lord, even though they have heard them only once. How, then, could the Pāṇḍavas tolerate His separation, for they had been intimately associated with His person, seeing Him, touching Him, conversing with Him, and sleeping, sitting and dining with Him? The living being tirelessly serves the dictates of illusory energy without being satisfied. Thus he becomes entangled. He can be released only by association with pure devotees. He then understands that his eternal position is to serve the Lord and not the different forms of lust like society, friends, country, family etc. Without the association of devotees the bad qualities will not disappear, and without their disappearance, a person will not become strongly attached to the pleasing qualities of the Lord. Hearing about the Lord in the association of devotees, attachment for material enjoyment becomes slackened, and one goes on hearing about the Lord without stoppage. The Lord is so attractive that even those who are self satisfied and are liberated also become devotees. The Pāṇḍavas were constant companions of the Lord and they could not even imagine separation from the Lord. By associating with pure devotees, one is never out of contact with the Lord even for a moment.

The heart of the Pāṇḍavas melted for Kṛṣṇa on the pot of attraction. They looked at Him without blinking and moved hither and thither in perplexity. They followed the Lord wherever He went. By reviving one’s eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa, one can obtain permanent peace and prosperity. The association of the Lord can be had not only by personal contact but also by association with His name, fame, form and quality. Fearing that crying would cause misfortune at the time of departure, the ladies stopped their tears with great difficulty. These ladies who were the wives and daughters-in-law of those who died in the battle never came in direct contact with the Lord. But all of them had heard of Him, and thus they thought of Him, talked of Him, His name, fame etc., and became affectionate toward Him. We can also revive our relation with Kṛṣṇa by our talking, hearing and remembrance of Him.

SB 1.10 - The Lord honored

While the Lord was departing from Hastināpura, different types of instruments all sounded together to show Him honor. Out of a loving desire to see the Lord, the royal ladies got up on top of the palace and showered flowers upon Him. These ladies did not come out but out of shyness went up to on the top of the palace. There was restricted mixing of women and men. The beauty of any person is due to the presence of the spiritual spark within the body, for no one is attracted to a dead body. Because we are in ignorance, Vedic civilization allows very restricted mixing of women and men, and shyness is a check to the unrestricted mixing. This is what the royal ladies followed.

At that time Arjuna took up an umbrella which had a handle of jewels and was embroidered with lace and pearls. Uddhava and Sātyaki fanned the Lord and the Lord, seated on scattered flowers, commanded them along the road. The benedictions being paid to Kṛṣṇa were neither befitting nor unbefitting because they were all for the Absolute (nirguṇasya), who was now playing the part of a human being (guṇa-ātmanaḥ). They were fitting in the sense that the Lord was playing the part of a human being but they were also unfitting because He is absolute and has nothing to do with material affairs. The Lord is full of transcendental qualities and there are no contradictions in Him. He is worshiped as a thief (mākhana-cora) and also as the Supreme Lord. For one without material qualities, blessings such as ‘Be happy’ are inappropriate. From the point of view of sweetness, the same blessings are appropriate for the Lord who has spiritual qualities such as being controlled by the devotee’s prema and being devoted to the brāhmaṇas. Since Kṛṣṇa is both the viṣaya (object) and āśraya (shelter) of dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya and mādhurya rasa, He is actually filled with spiritual qualities of happiness and distress arising from meeting and separating from His devotees. Thus the benedictions applied to the Absolute person lose all contradictions and become transcendental.

SB 1.10 - The glorification of the Lord by the ladies

Absorbed in the thought of the transcendental qualities of the Lord, the ladies began to talk of Him which was more attractive than the hymns of the Vedas. In all Vedic literatures the goal is Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The glories of the Lord are depicted in the Vedas, Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata. Anything sung in praise of the Lord is Śruti-mantra. The Upaniṣads glorify the Lord indirectly but the talks of the ladies were directly spoken of the Lord and thus they were more pleasing to the heart. Their talks appeared to be more valuable than the learned brāhmaṇas’ benedictions. Their conversations were the embodiment of the Upaniṣads and so the śrutis were happy with that.

SB 1.10 - The Lord exists before creation and after dissolution

The ladies of Hastināpura speaking with reverence in śānta rati said that Kṛṣṇa is the Original Person (puruṣa purātanaḥ), who alone existed before the material creation, and in whom all living beings merge at the time of dissolution. There are two types of dissolution of the cosmos: one at the end of Brahmā’s day (4,320,000,000 years) and the other at the end of Brahmā’s life (8,640,000,000 x 30 x 12 x 100 years). In both periods both the material energy called the mahat-tattva and the marginal energy called jīva-tattva merge in the person of the Lord. The living beings remain asleep, their energy suspended, in the body of the Lord until there is another creation of the material world. The living entities do not lose their identities when they are merged in the body of the Lord, for they awaken when there is another creation. The Lord alone exists in His svarūpa at the time of dissolution and no others.

The material creation is effected by the interaction of the three modes of material nature set in action by the Lord, who existed before the modes were set into motion. Thus the Lord is not a product of the material energy and His body is completely spiritual. In the Śruti it is said only Mahā-Viṣṇu existed before creation and by His breathing all the universes are generated in seeds and gradually develop into gigantic forms. This Mahā-Viṣṇu is the plenary portion of Kṛṣṇa. The ladies must have heard all these truths from authoritative sources like Vyāsa.

SB 1.10 - The Lord's desire to give names and forms

Having spoken of the Lord’s situation during the devastation and before the creation, they describe another pastime involving His expansion at the beginning of creation. The Lord, after manifesting the scriptures, desiring to give names and forms to His parts and parcels placed them under the guidance of material nature. By His own potency, material nature is empowered to re-create. The process of creation, maintenance and annihilation goes on perpetually conducted by the external energy of the Lord. The nitya-baddha living beings are under the control of the external energy and at the end of creation all their plans and the plan makers themselves are annihilated. The nitya muktas are eternally liberated souls and are always engaged in the service of the Lord.

Mahā-viṣṇu manifesting the Vedas at the first moment of His breathing followed prakṛti. But this does not mean He is dependent on prakṛti. Engaged in activity under His control, prakṛti is the controller of the jīva, who are also His energies. He follows prakṛti because He desired to make names and forms such as demigods, humans and animals for the jīvas with no names and forms, by creating gross and subtle bodies and imposing them on the jīvas. In order to accomplish performance of karma, jñāna, yoga and bhakti, the Lord created the scriptures before following prakṛti.

By following the Vedic scriptures the conditioned living beings can also get free from the repeated creation and annihilation of the material body and material world. In order to fulfill their desire to lord it over the material energy of material forms and names, the living beings are given a chance for such false enjoyment. The foolish and forgetful living being is always busy with false names and false forms. Modern nationalism is the culmination of such false names and forms. The form of body obtained under certain conditions is taken up as factual, and the name also taken bewilders the conditioned soul into misusing the energy in the name of so many “isms”. People have no interest in the scriptures that offer guidance to come out of the clutches of false names and forms.

SB 1.10 - The Lord's form can be experienced by bhakti alone

The ladies said that the Supreme Lord’s form is experienced by great devotees who are completely cleansed of material consciousness by dint of rigid devotional service and full control of life and the senses. That is the only way to purify one’s existence. The Lord can be known only by pure devotional service. If one controls the life air, one can control the senses. Then by intelligence purified by bhakti one can see the form of the Lord. One cannot artificially suppress the active senses but by giving them better engagement, one can bring them under control. Devotional service necessitates engaging the senses in the service of the Lord. Anything done in the service of the Lord becomes at once purified of its material nature. The material conception is due to ignorance only. There is nothing beyond Vāsudeva, whose conception gradually develops in the heart of the learned soul. By the grace of the Lord, all factual knowledge becomes revealed in the heart of a devotee due to dictation by the Lord from within. It is He and not yoga or other processes who can purify completely the intelligence. This implies that the sages ability to conquer the senses and life air is accomplished by bhakti alone, not by prāṇāyama or other processes.

SB 1.10 - The Lord appears for the welfare of the world

The Personality of Godhead’s pastimes are described in the confidential parts of the Vedas by His great devotees. It is He only who creates, maintains and annihilates the material world and yet remains unaffected. The Lord is described throughout the Vedas but in the Bhāgavatam the confidential parts of His activities are described by the confidential devotee, Śukadeva Gosvāmī. In the Vedānta and Upaniṣads there is only a hint of the confidential parts of His pastimes. There the Lord is simply distinguished from the mundane conception of existence, and the less intelligent concludes He is impersonal. But factually He is the Supreme Person, Bhagavān.

When the rulers live like animals following adharma, the Lord manifests Himself and performs wonderful activities in transcendental forms as necessary in different periods and ages. He accepts forms for the welfare of the world in Vraja, Mathurā and Dvārakā in every day of Brahmā and displays His six powers, truth, pleasing words, mercy and good qualities. Everything in existence is the property of the Lord. The living beings are the parts and parcels of the Lord and have a right to live at the mercy of the Lord to execute their prescribed work. The king is the representative of the Lord to look after the management of the Lord’s will. Such kings have full responsibility and knowledge from authorities about the administration of the world.

But at times, due to influence of the mode of ignorance, the kings become irresponsible and live like animals for the sake of their own personal interest. This causes disturbances in society and the devotees of the Lord are also persecuted. At such times the Lord appears in His transcendental form to keep His creation in a normal condition. The material world is created to satisfy the whims of the conditioned souls. But when the souls exploit the resources of nature unlawfully, the Lord appears to chastise them and to protect the faithful. The Lord performs wonderful activities such as bridging the Indian ocean when He came as Rāma, killing powerful demons and marrying 16108 wives when He came as Kṛṣṇa and so on.

SB 1.10 - The eternal nature of Kṛṣṇa's pastimes

Having spoken about the time of His appearance, the ladies next speak about the place of His appearance. The dynasty of Yadu and the land of Mathurā are glorious because the husband of the goddess of fortune by taking birth there is wandering in His childhood. The Lord’s appearance and disappearance are transcendental and is like the rising and setting of the sun. The sun is ever present in the solar system but becomes visible and invisible at a scheduled time. Similarly the Lord appears and disappears at certain times but He exists at all times and at every place. One who knows this truth in terms of the statements of revealed scriptures becomes liberated, which is otherwise very difficult to attain. But one who thinks that the birth and activities of the Lord are similar to those of ordinary living beings cannot get liberation. If simply by knowing the transcendental birth and activities of the Lord one can get liberation easily, we can just imagine the good fortune of those who actually enjoyed the company of the Lord. They must have attained something more than what is known as liberation.

By using the present tense when the ladies say that Kṛṣṇa by taking birth in Mathurā and moving about (cañcati) and performing pastimes, they indicate that the birth and activities of Kṛṣṇa are eternal. Their intention can be understood by comparing their first statement describing the pastime of creation in the past tense ya eka āsīt (1.10.21) and the vision of the sages in the present tense (1.10.23). How can the birth and activities be eternal? Since the Lord has unlimited forms at all times, He has unlimited manifestations. Because of that He has unlimited pastimes of birth and activities. And thus He has unlimited manifestations of places and associates in this world and the spiritual world for those pastimes. Thus though there are beginnings and endings of His birth and activities for each of these manifested forms in each of these places, the moment a portion of the birth or activities ends or even before it ends, the birth and activities begin in other places. Because there is no lack of continuity in the Lord, His birth and activities are eternal. Sometimes the birth and activities take place in a slightly different manner and sometimes in exactly the same manner because of difference or oneness of different conditions. And as well one form becomes many for performing different actions at once. At that time it should be understood that Kṛṣṇa has different identities in each of these different active forms because they perform different actions. And there is a particular appearance of rasa caused by the particular pastime in the particular place.

Kṛṣṇa’s birth and pastimes together are eternal. Thus it is recommended to perform meditation on the pastimes which took place previously since they are eternal. Though the Lord disappears, He is still recommended as the best object of worship. The Lord’s birth is different from our material birth. Some say that the pastimes as well as the devotees and dhāmas are called eternal because there are many manifestations of His birth and activities in infinite, eternal dhāmas in the material world.