Hari-katha by Paramadhyatama Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, spoken on 12 June 1996.
[Hari-katha of Nitya Lila Pravista Om Visnupada Astottara sata Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja who is referred to as Srila Gurudeva in the following transcription, which has been translated from Srila Gurudeva’s discourse in Hindi.]
First of all, I offer my unlimited obeisances unto the lotus feet of my most worshipable Gurudeva, Nitya Lila Pravista Om Visnupada Astottara sata Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja. I also offer my unlimited obeisances to the Srimad Bhagavatam and to the person who manifested this book, Srila Vyasadeva. I also offer my obeisances to the first person who discoursed on the Srimad Bhagavatam, Sri Sukadeva Gosvami. I live in Vrndavana. I had no desire to leave Vrndavana, but on the request of the devotees I came here to the Western countries. From today, I will speak on the Srimad Bhagavatam for four days. Although devotees also speak on the Bhagavatam for seven days, it would be better if they speak on the Bhagavatam for one month. It would be in the best self-interest of the listeners if the meaning is revealed and explained to them clearly. Thus, the listeners will read the Bhagavatam for their entire lives. And, they will live their lives accordingly. Srimad Bhagavatam contains the solutions for all kinds of problems. The Srimad Bhagavatam offers solutions to the problems that existed in the past and to the problems that exist currently. Even the problems of the future can be solved upon proper perusal of the Bhagavatam. The Srimad Bhagavatam never becomes old; the Bhagavatam is eternal and ever-new.
In India, there is a place called Naimisaranya. It is a very pure place. It is on the banks of the Gomati River. Thousands of years before, over 80,000 Rsis had assembled in that place. Kali Yuga was about to come; it had made its arrival immediately after Krsna left this world.
The Rsis anxiously thought, “Kali Yuga is going to come. It is a very frightening age.”
Kali means kalaham-lati; people will fight with each other for no reason. So, the Rsis thought, “What can be done?” Meanwhile, Suta Gosvami, the disciple of Sukadeva Gosvami came.
All the Rsis asked Suta Gosvami, “How can our auspiciousness be assured? What sould we do?”
Suta Gosvami replied, “Listen to the Srimad Bhagavatam and practice the teachings given therein. Establish your life in the teachings of the Bhagavatam. Follow those instructions and Kali Yuga will not trouble you.”
Thus, Suta Gosvami started speaking on the Bhagavatam to protect the Rsis from the faults of Kali Yuga. Presently, what is the main problem? Science has made so much advancement that even a new skull can be placed. We can go from one end of the earth to another within a very short time. Much advancement has been made from the kitchen to the development of atom bombs. It seems that earth can be held in one’s fist. If you want to go to India, then just sit in the airplane and you will reach by tomorrow morning. You can watch a cricket match or a football match in your house. All arrangements have been made. But these advancements have given birth to a problem that science is unable to solve.
How can a husband and wife love each other? Science has distanced their hearts; there is no love. A father and son do not love each other. Today, old houses are made for a person’s aged parents. Old people, who are neglected by their family members, stay in these old age homes. Why? A person can take care of a dog, but he cannot take care of his parents? So many such problems have come in this world. The bank balance of a wife is different from the husband’s. The bank balance of the children is different as well. Why is this? No one trusts each other. The qualities of the soul are disappearing. Man has now become like a machine. There is no peace and happiness in his heart.
When I go to Kolkata and Mumbai, I see that lakhs of people are on the streets. There is such a big crowd that people push each other and walk. But if one person falls on the ground, no one will pick him up. There is no love among people. Man has advanced so much; but where is the love? The main problem is that there is no love. If there was love, then this world would become Vaikuntha. But, it is very sad that there is no love between one another. People look after dogs because they trust dogs more than fellow humans. The dog will not betray them. If they call the dog, then wagging its tail, it will immediately come. But men don’t trust men. They don’t trust women also.
They think, “What if she leaves me and goes somewhere else?”
The women also think, “What if my husband leaves me and goes somewhere else?”
When a person cannot find solace anywhere, then he commits suicide. People don’t trust even God. This is the main problem of Kali Yuga. So, how will the Bhagavat help? The Bhagavat will help; just listen carefully. The Bhagavat will give what science cannot give. Science cannot answer the question, “Who am I?” Where does life go when the body becomes still and lifeless? Science does not have the answer to this question. If scientists become enlightened, then they will give the answer. The solutions to all forms of problems have been given in the Srimad Bhagavatam. The Bhagavat tells us how we can be happy and how we can love each other. Only by associating with each other in a loving manner, will we be happy in this world. Even donkeys and pigs eat food; but if there is no love, then all kinds of food will be tasteless.
Where will the soul go after leaving this body? Therefore, Suta Gosvami offered his obeisance to his Guru and started speaking on the Srimad Bhagavatam. Narada Rsi is a topmost sage. He knows past, present, and future. There is no place in the universe where he cannot go. He doesn’t need a spaceship to go from one planet to another. He can travel by his mind in less than a moment. He is omniscient; he knows what every person thinks. In the course of his travels, he reached Haridvara. Haridvara is a place that lies on the banks of the Ganga. It is the gateway to the Himalayas. Hence, it is called Haridvara. There, he met his elder brothers—Sanak, Sanat, Sanatana, and Sanandana Kumara. These sages are always five years of age. They are always naked. They don’t eat any food. They don’t need air to breathe also. They are always wandering and enlightening people. They are the repositories of transcendental knowledge. There is no such thing that they are not enlightened about. Just by their glance, a dead person will be brought back to life. Whatever they say is bound to happen.
When Narada met the four brothers, they asked him, “Oh Narada, why have come here? Your face has dried up? You seem engrossed in thought? Why is this? Why are you sad?”
Narada replied, “I am very sad.”
“Why? You are a great devotee and are very knowledgeable.”
“What can I do? After Krsna ended His Dvaraka lila, I was wandering on this earth. I saw many astonishing sights.”
“What did you see?”
“I see that the sadhus are not what they were. They speak the Bhagavat to earn money and not for the benefit of people. They do kirtan to earn money also. They want to build big palaces for themselves. But they don’t want to make people’s hearts into temples. Men have become very greedy. They have made women their maidservants. When they so desire, they make the woman leave home. They are only concerned with money. And how are the women? Women have love for their husbands, but it is little. They are only concerned with decorating their hair. There is no celibacy in this world. The King has become a dacoit. He is only engaged in daylight robbery. Even hari-katha seems empty.
“Thus, I went in all four directions and found myself becoming very sad. I then reached Vrndavana. There, I saw something very strange. I saw that there was a young lady who had two sons. These sons were very aged. Their hairs were white and they were lying on the ground unconscious. The young lady was crying bitterly. When I came to where they were, the mother became very happy on seeing me.
She asked, ‘Are you Naradaji? I am very sad.’
‘Why are you sad?’
‘I was born in South India. After taking birth I went to Karnataka. There, I gradually grew. After that, I came to Maharastra. Then I came to Gujarat. When I came there, I gradually became old. My hair turned white and my sons became old as well. All three of us became old.’
‘Why did this happen?’
‘We were wandering. Now my sons don’t speak. They are only sleeping. They don’t get up. I brought them along with me to Vrndavana. When I came to Vrndavana, I became a young lady. But my sons remain as they are. I have tried waking them up, but they refuse to wake up. I cannot understand why this is happening.’
‘All right. I will do something by which your sons will wake up.’
Bhakti-devi told me, ‘Don’t go anywhere. I feel so blissful in your presence. I cannot understand why I am so happy.’
‘I will make your sons healthy again,’ thus I became absorbed in thought on what could be done for Bhakti-devi’s sons.
I took her sons everywhere. I took them to Haridvara; I took them on the banks of the Ganga. I took them to Prayaga. I took them everywhere. I had them take bath at all holy places. On their behalf, I gave so much charity. I did everything. I took them to South India also. I had them bathe in the ocean at Kanya-kumari. I had them bathe in the Godavari also. But nothing happened. I took them to Gaya also, but nothing happened. So, what should I do my dear brothers?” Narada Rsi asked the Four Kumaras.
Previously, Narada Rsi had become absorbed in a meditative trance and remembered his Lord. An aerial voice told him, “You need only try and everything will be all right. Bhakti-devi’s sons will become young again.”
Narada told his brothers, “I know that they will become all right, but why am I not able to help them? What should I do? I am determined that I will become successful in my endeavors. So, I wandered everywhere and have now, come here to Haridvara. Seeing all of you, I am hopeful that you will show me the right way. Thus, these children will become young and happy again.”
The Four Kumaras told Narada, “You are a devotee; you know everything. You do know how the sons of Bhakti-devi will become all right. But, to increase our prestige, you are doing this. Okay. Listen to the essence of the Srimad Bhagavatam. By listening to the Bhagavatam for seven days, Bhakti-devi’s sons will become their younger selves again. And all her desires will be fulfilled.”
There is so much potency in the Bhagavat and in Bhagavan’s names. Even very notorious persons change. There is so much potency in the words of the Srimad Bhagavatam. The Four Kumaras started speaking on the Srimad Bhagavatam, and Bhakti-devi heard the recital for seven days. The form of Bhakti-devi became more effulgent and her two sons became normal again. They became youths and smiling, spoke to their mother.
There is another history regarding the recital of Srimad Bhagavatam. During ancient times, there lived a poor Brahmin named Atmadeva in South India. He did not have a son. He prayed to Sankaraji and being pleased, Sankaraji appeared and told the Brahmin, “I will give you something. Take it and have your wife eat it. You will soon be blessed with a very beautiful, intelligent son. He will respect his parents and he will also do Bhagavan’s bhakti.”
Atmadeva took the blessed food and told his wife, “You should eat this prasadam and then, you will give birth to a very beautiful son. We are more than fifty years of age and in some time, we will become old. We will be so fortunate if we obtain a son. He will offer oblations to us after we die and he will continue our lineage. A house in which a baby doesn’t cry is compared to a cemetery.”
The wife thought, “If I eat this food, then I will have to bear a child. My stomach will become very heavy and I will not be able to walk. I will have to undergo so much trouble. Also, I will not be able to eat what I want. I don’t want to carry a baby in my stomach for nine or ten months. This is not possible for me.”
The wife of Atmadeva then fed the prasadam to a cow. Her younger sister was already pregnant. She gave her some money and asked for the child. She told her sister, “When you beget a son, give him to me.”
The younger sister agreed and she was given a substantial amount of money. Atmadeva’s wife kept her sister in her house. Shortly, the cow gave birth to a baby and so did the sister of Atmadeva’s wife. The cow ate the food given by Sankara, so the cow gave birth to a very beautiful baby. He was very attractive but his ears resembled the ears of a cow. So, his name was, “Gokarna,” which means he who has the ears of a cow. And, the son born to the sister of Atmadeva’s wife was very notorious. He would always fight and do bad things. From his childhood, he was of bad character. He would kill people; he would drink alcohol. He would lie and steal from others. He was a dacoit.
He told his father, “Give me money; I want to gamble and drink alcohol.”
Out of fear of his son, Atmadeva left home and went to the forest. Soon after, he fell in a well and died. Gokarnaji left home and went on a pilgrimage. Dundukari, the other son, now started beating his mother. Unable to tolerate being beaten by her son, she left home and also died somewhere. Dundukari was such a bad person. Dundukari means a person who causes trouble. He would fight with people without any prior reason. After some days, he spent all the money he had. He would call prostitutes to his house. He would drink alcohol and continue to kill people for money. But when he called the prostitutes, there was no money in his house. One day, he stole much money and golden ornaments from someone. He kept his loot in the house when the prostitutes were also with him.
The prostitutes thought, “He will give us money and gold; but he will take it back tomorrow.”
So, all the prostitutes caught Dundukari and beat him with a burning log of wood. Beating him severely, they killed him. They dug a hole and put his body there. The prostitutes then took all the money and gold. After dying, Dundukari became a very fearsome ghost.
He would always cry out, “Someone is killing me! My body is burning!”
He would threaten the passer-by’s and throw stones at them. He would not let anyone come near. It is true that ghosts exist; it is not a lie. But they don’t come near devotees and pure people.
jatasya hi dhruvo mrtyur
dhruvam janma mrtasya ca
—Bhagavad Gita 2.27
[One who has taken his birth is sure to die, and after death one is sure to take birth again.]
A person will have to repeatedly take birth and die. He will also have to become old. This is the theory of the Gita; this is the theory of all the sastras. So, Dundukari died and became a ghost. He caused much nuisance. Meanwhile, Gokarna returned home after visiting all the tirthas.
The villagers told him, “Don’t go to your house. There is a ghost there, which will kill you.”
Gokarna replied, “I don’t fear anyone.”
Chanting Bhagavan’s names, he went inside the house. Now, Dundukari appeared in many terrible forms and tried scaring Gokarna. He repeatedly threatened Gokarna and tried throwing stones at him. But, Gokarna was absorbed in chanting Bhagavan’s names. At the end, Gokarna sprinkled some water, uttered some mantras and asked, “Who are you?”
The ghost replied, “I am your brother. My name is Dundukari. Some prostitutes killed me and threw my body in this pit. Now I have become a ghost. You should rescue me as soon as possible. I feel very hungry and thirsty. I am in so much distress. There is no one to rescue me.”
Gokarna said, “I offered oblations on your behalf at Gaya. Didn’t you receive it?”
“I also offered oblations at Haridvara. Didn’t you receive this as well?”
“I did everything.”
“Please rescue me by any means brother.”
“Okay. Stay where you are. I will think of a means to deliver you.”
Gokarna then became absorbed in deep contemplation. He worshiped the sun-god and the sun-god appeared. He told Gokarna, “Recite the Bhagavatam. Invite the ghost to listen to the Bhagavatam.”
Gokarna returned and organized a seven day recital of the Bhagavatam. He had seven pieces of dry bamboo arranged. As he began to speak on the Bhagavatam, thousands of people gathered to listen to him. Thus, Gokarna started speaking on the Bhagavatam to deliver his brother who had become a ghost. He spoke the Bhagavat that Sukadeva Gosvami spoke to Pariksit Maharaja. We will now discuss this self-same Bhagavat. The Bhagavat is very powerful. As each day of the Bhagavat recital ended, one piece of the bamboo opened with a sound. Hence, after seven days, the Bhagavatam ended and all the seven pieces of bamboos opened. The people saw that a golden throne was brought from Vaikuntha by Lord Visnu’s messengers and they seated Dundukari on it and took him to Vaikuntha.
Gokarnaji asked the divine messengers, “Brothers, I spoke the Bhagavat and these thousands of people listened along with Dundukari. But, only Dundukari’s sins were dispelled and he is now going to Vaikuntha while we are just sitting here.”
The messengers replied, “The Bhagavatam should be spoken with faith and must be listened to with faith as well. You did not speak with faith and neither did the members of the audience listen with faith. You should explain the Bhagavatam clearly and the audience must also understand with faith. Then, all of you will surely go to Vaikuntha as well.”
Gokarna then spoke the Bhagavatam again and all the members of the audience listened with faith. This time, everyone left their bodies and having four-handed forms, they ascended to Vaikuntha Dhama. So, the Bhagavat should not be heard superficially. You should not say, “This is mythology.” The Bhagavat is not mythology. Before Sitaji was kidnapped, Marici came in the form of a golden deer and started roaming in front of Sitaji.
Sitaji told Ramacandra, “Oh Prananatha, I want this golden deer. I will take this golden deer to Ayodhya and give it as a gift to Maharani Kaikeyi if it is brought alive. If the deer is killed, then I will give its golden skin to Bharata. So, I want this deer.”
On Ravana’s order, Marici had become a golden deer so that Sitaji could be stolen. When Marici was struck by Rama’s arrow, he called out, “Ha Laksmana!” three times. At that time, Sitaji said, “Laksmana, You should go immediately to help Your brother. Some calamity has befallen on Ramacandra.”
Laksmana replied, “No. I know that nothing bad can happen to Ramacandra.”
Sitaji said, “Bharata has sent You as a spy here. When Ramacandraji will be killed, You will marry me. I will never be Your wife even if my life leaves me. You should understand this. You are an evil person.”
Sita started scolding Laksmana and He became very sad. He told Sita, “I consider you to be My mother. I will use my arrow to create a protective circle around you. Please never take one step outside of this circle. Always stay carefully within this circle.”
Meanwhile, Ravana came and said, “Bhiksam dehi! Bhiksam dehi! Bhiksam dehi!”
Sitaji took something and came to give it to Ravana. Ravana said, “Please step out of this line and give me alms. I don’t take anything from inside.”
Why did Ravana say this? When he tried stepping on the circle, he was jolted by electricity. He tried to go past the circle many times, but was unable to. What was in the circle that prevented Ravana from entering? Ravana was a very powerful scientist; but he could not go past this circle. There was something in the circle. Before meeting Narada, Valmiki was a dacoit. He had killed lakhs of people. But, in the association of Naradaji, he was made to chant the name of Rama in a reverse manner.
He chanted, “Marama. Marama.”
ulta-nama japata jagajana
valmiki paya brahma-samana
What was in the name? Valmiki chanted the name in a reverse manner and he became comparable to Brahma i.e. whatever he would say would become true. He became omniscient. He knew past, present, and future. He composed the Ramayana even before Rama’s advent. How did he do so? This was by the influence of the holy name. Thus, Laksmana had chanted the name of Rama and drew the circle around Sita-Rama’s cottage. Valmiki chanted, “Mara, Mara,” and ultimately chanted the name given to him by Naradaji i.e. the name of Rama. He then chanted, “Rama. Rama.”
All of you must have heard the name of Agastya Rsi. Once, a bird’s eggs fell into the ocean and the waves took the eggs many miles inside the ocean. The small bird started crying. The bird told the ocean, “Please return my eggs.” But the ocean did not comply. Agastya Rsi’s asrama was nearby and the bird asked the sage for help.
The Rsi told the ocean, “You should return the eggs to the bird.”
The ocean did not listen. Agastya Rsi chanted Rama’s name and swallowed the entire ocean. How is this possible? Science has not advanced so much. Science cannot understand why the body becomes lifeless after an entity leaves it. Science cannot tell us how everyone should love each other. The scientist himself doesn’t know when he will die. How can peace and happiness be had? How can old age be stopped? The scientist cannot say anything. Even a million scientists cannot answer these questions. This is realized science. The holy name and mantra have such inconceivable power; the Bhagavat has such inconceivable power. I have full faith in this; I have practiced chanting the holy names since sixty years. In some time I will become eighty years old. I am experiencing the glories of the holy name. If you don’t believe me, then chant the holy names for only ten days. You will realize that all bad qualities are leaving you. You will experience the topmost bliss and happiness. If you continue chanting, you will see that all your desires are being fulfilled. Gradually, you will attain knowledge of the soul and the Supersoul.
punarapi jananam punarapi maranam
punarapi janani jatare gamanam
You will not have to enter another mother’s womb. This is an unchallengeable truth. Hence, there are innumerable glories of the Srimad Bhagavatam. The instructions of the Srimad Bhagavatam are so beautiful that if a person just listens to them, then regardless of him following or not; yet, he will become pure. And, if a person listens to these instructions attentively and practically applies them in his life, then he will become a very exalted person. He will become liberated and he will attain the lotus feet of the Lord. He will eternally be with the Lord.
Now, I will speak on one of the earliest histories of the Bhagavatam. The disciple of Sukadeva Gosvami was Suta Gosvami. He was speaking to the assembled sages at Naimisaranya. First of all, he offered pranama and spoke this sloka:
janmady asya yato ‘nvayad itaratas carthesv abhijnah svarat
tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye muhyanti yat surayah
tejo-vari-mrdam yatha vinimayo yatra tri-sargo ‘mrsa
dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam satyam param dhimahi
—Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.1
[O my Lord, Sri Krsna, son of Vasudeva, O all-pervading Personality of Godhead, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You. I meditate upon Lord Sri Krsna because He is the Absolute Truth and the primeval cause of all causes of the creation, sustenance and destruction of the manifested universes. He is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations, and He is independent because there is no other cause beyond Him. It is He only who first imparted the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahmaji, the original living being. By Him even the great sages and demigods are placed into illusion, as one is bewildered by the illusory representations of water seen in fire, or land seen on water. Only because of Him do the material universes, temporarily manifested by the reactions of the three modes of nature, appear factual, although they are unreal. I therefore meditate upon Him, Lord Sri Krsna, who is eternally existent in the transcendental abode, which is forever free from the illusory representations of the material world. I meditate upon Him, for He is the Absolute Truth.]
Suta Gosvami said, “I meditate on the topmost truth. He delivers everyone in the world and makes their lives auspicious. May He make my life auspicious as well by delivering me.”
Who is this? Janmady asya yato—He creates this world by His desire. By His desire, He maintains innumerable universes. A person may say, “How does He maintain me as well? My parents look after me.”
“But who looked after your parents? Who looked after you while you were in your mother’s womb? How did you enter your mother’s womb? How did you grow and come of age? Any scientist or doctor has not done this. Your mother ate rice and capattis and this was turned into milk. Who did this?”
Where did the child’s intelligence come from? How is a baby born healthy? Therefore, Bhagavan looks after everyone. He also takes care of insects, trees, plants, and creepers. He gives birth to everyone. At the end, everyone enters in Him and a new creation is initiated. So, Suta Gosvami did pranama to this personality. Who is this? This personality is Krsna. Demigods and sages become bewildered when they try understanding Krsna. Krsna manifested inconceivable knowledge in the heart of Brahmaji and Sukadeva Gosvami. Thus, they could always see Him. He is eternal. We know that we will become old; we know that we will become miserable; we know that our sons will not listen to us and we will ultimately die; but still, Krsna’s maya is so powerful that she doesn’t allow us to become renounced and to engage in His bhajan. This is the nature of maya.
So, Suta Gosvami says, “I offer my pranama unto this personality—to whom maya belongs to.”
Another sloka is:
dharmah projjhita-kaitavo ‘tra paramo nirmatsaranam satam
vedyam vastavam atra vastu sivadam tapa-trayonmulanam
srimad-bhagavate maha-muni-krte kim va parair isvarah
sadyo hrdy avarudhyate ‘tra krtibhih susrusubhis tat-ksanat
—Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.2
[Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhagavata Purana propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are fully pure in heart. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all. Such truth uproots the threefold miseries. This beautiful Bhagavatam, compiled by the great sage Vyasadeva [in his maturity], is sufficient in itself for God realization. What is the need of any other scripture? As soon as one attentively and submissively hears the message of Bhagavatam, by this culture of knowledge the Supreme Lord is established within his heart.]
There are various types of dharma that are prevalent in this world. The dharma that doesn’t explain atma-dharma and the dharma of bhajan to Bhagavan is a useless dharma. In the name of dharma, people fight with each other. This is not dharma. Real dharma can never be forsaken. Therefore, what is our real dharma? We are not Hindus, Muslims, Christians, or Sikhs. What are we? We are the part and parcel of Krsna. Isvara amsa jiva abhinasi. This is also stated in the Gita.
Krsna says, “All the souls are My part and parcels. Everyone is My servant.”
So, the prema we have for Krsna is our real dharma regardless of us being Hindus, Muslims, or Christians. Is there any person in this world who doesn’t want happiness? Even a fly wants happiness. Anything we do is for happiness. We want to end our miseries and strive for this happiness.
duhkha-hatyai sukhaya ca
—Srimad Bhagavatam 11.3.18
Why do we do karma? A fly doesn’t sleep at night. It is always going here and there. Why? It is on the lookout for some food. Why do we work? People become merchants, business men, and are ready to serve others. But what is the reason? They want money. They think that money will give them happiness. If I were to ask anyone, “Why do you eat and why do you earn money,” then the answer will be, “To eat and drink.”
“What will happen by eating and drinking?”
“If I don’t eat, I will die.”
“Why do you want to remain alive?”
People will not be able to answer this question. Why does a person want to remain alive?
Rather than answering this question, people will say, “We have never heard of such a strange question.” Why do we want to remain alive? Are we alive only to eat, drink, and roam on the cycle? No, brother we are not meant for this. The svarupa, the intrinsic nature of the jivatma is bliss. Krsna is ananda-maya; He is sat-cit-ananda—composed of eternity, knowledge and bliss.
Krsna is the embodiment of bliss. You should clearly understand that until you meet Krsna, you will not be happy and peaceful. You should understand by an example. If you throw a stone high in the sky, where will it fall? It will fall on the ground. Why? The ground has gravitational force. If you light up a fire, then where will the flames of the fire go? They will go up in the sky. Why doesn’t the earth pull the flames with its gravitational force? Where will a balloon go? It will go up in the sky. Why doesn’t earth pull the balloon to its surface? These objects will only meet with their original source. One drop of water will flow to the ocean. It will become vapour and meet the ocean. The rivers meet the ocean and water becomes vaporized and falls from the clouds as rain. This is the cycle. Even one drop of water will not be wasted. In the same way, we are the part and parcel of Krsna. We will not be happy until we meet Him and love Him. We may try in a million ways to be happy by other means; but we will not be happy. Nothing of this world will go with you.
Hence, prema is our dharma. To love Krsna is our dharma. Have love and affection for everyone. A lion or a tiger will kill an elephant or other animals; but will it kill its mate or cubs? It will eat the meat of everyone and drink their blood. But, it will always love its cub.
Notorious dacoits kill everyone; but will the dacoits kill their wives? They kill their victims and give their belongings to their wives. Thus, they love their wives. So, there is no animal that is not greedy for happiness and that does not have the tendency to love. This Prema is the dharma, the constitutional nature of every soul or jiva. Sanatana-dharma is related to the soul. The soul is eternal and immutable. The love that the soul has for Krsna is eternal. The Hindu-dharma is closely related to Sanatana-dharma. This dharma tells us to speak the truth and to respect our parents. It tells us to believe in Bhagavan. The Gita, Bhagavat, and other scriptures are part of the Hindu-dharma; so it is near Sanatana-dharma. That dharma, which is devoid of prema and which doesn’t speak of Bhagavan is not a dharma. Therefore, our real dharma is prema. The Gita and Bhagavat give only this siksa, instruction.
mam ekam saranam vraja
—Bhagavad Gita 18.66
[“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me.]
Krsna says, “Surrender to Me.”
Therefore, the Srimad Bhagavatam is aptly described in the following sloka:
nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam
pibata bhagavatam rasam alayam
muhur aho rasika bhuvi bhavukah
—Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.3
[O expert and thoughtful men, relish Srimad-Bhagavatam, the mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literatures. It emanated from the lips of Sri Sukadeva Gosvami. Therefore this fruit has become even more tasteful, although its nectarean juice was already relishable for all, including liberated souls.]
“O rasik and bhavuka devotees; if you want your auspiciousness, then listen to the Bhagavatam.”
Why? The Srimad Bhagavatam doesn’t belong to this earth. When Sukadeva Gosvami spoke the Bhagavatam to Pariksita Maharaja, he enlightened him on atma-jnana, bhakti, vairagya, and everything else.
Who is the atma? Who is the paramatma? Who is Bhagavan? How can He be obtained? How can we develop our prema? How can we be happy and peaceful in life? How can we become happy and peaceful within one lifetime? The methods to achieve this goal have been told. Those, who followed these methods eventually attained their goal. Therefore it is said:
nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam
When Sukadeva Gosvami was about to start speaking on the Bhagavatam, the demigods came. They brought a pot full of nectar. They told Sukadeva Gosvami, “Please give this pot to Pariksit Maharaja. He will become immortal by drinking this nectar. In return, you may speak the Bhagavatam to us.”
Sukadeva Gosvami started laughing at the demigods’ proposition. He said, “Oh fools! Indra drinks this nectar; yet, why is he miserable? Why does he run after Ahalya? He ran away in fear of demons like Hiranyakasipu. Once, he hid himself in a pond by taking shelter of the stem of a lotus. He stayed there for lakhs of years. Why did he do this?”
This Bhagavatam is not about samsara. It does not describe the love between a man and a woman. The Bhagavatam describes the pure love shared between the liberated souls and Krsna. By listening to the Bhagavatam, the listener will become immortal like Pariksit Maharaja. He will always be happy and he will enter the spiritual world after quitting his body. You should understand this clearly. I will explain the glories of the Srimad Bhagavatam. Forsake the illusion that you are this body. You will have to leave this body one day or another. Familial relationships only last for a couple of days.
Suta Gosvami told the Rsis, “Who is Sukadeva Gosvami? He has brought this Bhagavat-katha from Goloka Vrndavana that lies above Vaikuntha.”
Nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam
The Vedas, Upanisads, Vedanta, the Gita, and the other scriptures are called nigama. Nigama is likened to a tree. The fruit of this tree is Srimad Bhagavatam. This fruit is only made of rasa. There are no seeds in the fruit and the fruit is skinless. The fruit is only pervaded by rasa. It is a very sweet fruit. The Vedas and Upanisads are the most ancient scriptures. So, why didn’t the sons of Bhakti-devi become young again by listening to the Vedas and Upanisads? They listened but Bhakti-devi remained old and her sons also remained old. They were made to the listen to the Vedas, Vedanta, and all the scriptures. But, how did the sons become their normal selves after listening to the Bhagavatam? If you take a ripe mango and taste it, then how sweet will it be? It will be very sweet and beautiful. As for anything else, you will only taste it and throw it away. But what will you do with the peel of this mango? You will taste it again and again while relishing the sweetness. You will not find the peel to be tasteless; you will taste it again and again. You will not do the same with any other fruit; you will only taste it once and throw the peel away. The mango is very sweet. But where did this fruit come from? The seed of a mango grew into a tree and this tree gave many mangoes in turn. Will you get rasa by tasting the roots of a mango tree? The taste of the roots will be very bland. Are the branches of this tree tasteful? No. Are the leaves of this tree tasteful? No. But all the rasa of the tree is in the ripe mango, which is very sweet. The roots, branches, and leaves of the tree are not sweet like the mango. Why is this so? After all, the rasa of the tree, branches, and leaves is present in the fruit.
Therefore, by listening to Veda-Vedanta, the sweetness that is obtained by listening to the Srimad Bhagavatam will not be obtained. Consider one more example: Ghee is present in the milk. But, how can this ghee be seen? It cannot be seen by the eyes. You have to make the milk into curd and by churning this curd, butter will be obtained. By heating this butter, all the impurities will go away and ghee will be obtained. By heating this ghee, a nice fragrance will be produced. The sages use this ghee to perform fire sacrifices and they also eat this ghee by mixing it with food. There is oil already in the mustard seeds. But this oil cannot be seen. But by pressing these mustard seeds, oil will be obtained.
Hence, the essence of all the Vedas, Upanisads, Gita, and all Vedic scriptures is present in the Srimad Bhagavatam. The essence of the Gita is also there in the Bhagavatam. So, we will listen to the Bhagavatam very attentively. Who is Sukadeva Gosvami? He is the beloved parrot of Srimati Radhika. When the pastimes of Radha-Krsna were manifest, Sukadeva Gosvami was the parrot of Srimati Radhika when She was in Varsana. She would make this parrot sit on Her hand.
She would say, “Oh Suka, chant ‘Krsna Krsna.’”
The parrot would then chant Krsna’s name while resembling the exact voice of Srimati Radhika. The voice of the parrot was sweeter than Krsna’s flute. Srimati Radhika would feed the parrot pomegranate seeds and sweet rice. She would take care of the parrot with great love. One day, the parrot flew away from Srimati Radhika’s hand and went to Nandagaon. There, Krsna was talking with Madhumangala under the branches of the Tamal tree.
The parrot started to chant, “Krsna Krsna.”
Krsna thought, “Who is saying My name? Is Radhika here and calling out My name? How is this possible? This is the voice of Srimati Radhika.” Krsna looked up and saw a parrot sitting on the branch. The parrot thought, “I am very dear to Srimati Radhika, She loves me very much and nourishes me. Sometimes She gently strokes my back with Her beautiful hands and long fingers. She would always feed pomegranate seeds to me and She has so much affection towards me. But I am not worthy of Her love and affection; I am an ungrateful bird. I flew from Her and came to Nandagaon, and now I repent that I shouldn’t have left my mistress, who was so lovely and beautiful. I have left Her, so I want to die.” This way, the parrot lamented time and again. Krsna enticingly called the bird, “Oh come on, come on!” He called the bird to Him in an alluring way, employing His sweet words. Anyone who hears the words of Krsna cannot but be spellbound; they will be charmed at once. The animals in the forest, like the deer, birds, cuckoo birds, serpents; they are all charmed by the words of Krsna.
Exhibiting His charming demeanor, face, and crooked eyes, Krsna caught the parrot’s attention, and said, “Come on, come on.” The parrot flew and sat on the shoulder of Krsna. Taking the parrot on His hand, Krsna asked it, “What did you just say? Can you repeat what you just said?”
The parrot called out, “Krsna! Krsna!” Krsna became exceedingly pleased and He began to caress the parrot like how Srimati Radhika would. Krsna asked the parrot to chant His name again and again, and the parrot chanted as told. The parrot said, “My master is Srimati Radhika, and She would nourish me so affectionately, giving me so many things. But being an ungrateful creature, I left Her and came here.” Saying so, the parrot began to cry. Krsna was moved by the parrot’s sweet speech and He decided, “I will never give this parrot up. I will keep him with Me forever.” If Krsna sees anything or anyone that is beautiful, melodious, soft, fragrant, He at once takes.
So Krsna cheated this parrot, and He was giving so much honor and affection to the parrot. In the meantime, two girls came running from Varsana; they were Lalita and Visaka. They told Krsna, “Oh Vrajendra-nandana, return our parrot, it is very much loved and held dear by our sakhi (Srimati Radhika). Our sakhi cannot live without this parrot, so return the parrot at once!”
Krsna replied, “I have not bound this parrot, he is free to act as he wishes. He is contently seated on My hand, so call him, and if he comes, you can take him.” The sakhis called to the parrot, but the parrot did not go to them.
Krsna said, “You can take the parrot if he comes willingly to you, but I will not let you take the parrot forcibly.”
Lalita and Visaka replied, “If our sakhi Srimati Radhika was here, and if She had called the parrot, it would leave You, and at once fly to Srimati Radhika. But She is not present here, so the parrot is not coming to us. So please return him to us.”
Krsna replied, “I cannot return him. You can only take him, if he is willing.”
Lalita and Visaka went to mother Yasoda and said, “Krsna has taken the parrot of Srimati Radhika. Oh mother! Please have the parrot returned to us.” But Krsna was determined to not let the parrot go, anything that comes to Krsna will not be returned, only if Srimati Radhika is present, will it be returned, and not otherwise.
Mother Yasoda told Lalita and Visaka, “Wait a little, I’m going to Krsna.” She came to Krsna and saw how Krsna was enraptured by the parrot’s sweet movements. Krsna told the parrot, “Please repeat what you have just said, please repeat!” Being immersed in the parrot’s sweet voice, Krsna forgot all His senses.
Meanwhile, Yasoda came and said, “Oh You have become like an animal! Do You only wish to play with animals and birds? This is wrong!” Chastising her son this way, Yasoda gently took the parrot away from Krsna’s hands and handed him over to the sakhis. Yasoda told Krsna, “If You continue Your play with the animals, I will give You a tight slap and Your ears will be twisted!” [Laughter from audience] “You are always playing with animals; sometimes with dogs, and sometimes with serpents. Your father is hungry and it is time for Maha-prasada. Bhoga has been offered to the Deities, so You should come along with me.” Mother Yasoda held Krsna by His hand and dragged Him to the house.
Yasoda requested her servants, “Please arrange for Krsna to be bathed.” So Krsna was unable to do anything. And the parrot was given back to Lalita and Visaka, who then joyfully handed over the parrot to Srimati Radhika. So by this incident, you can see how the parrot was loved so much by Sri Radha and Krsna. The parrot would serve Radha and Krsna day and night. Even in solitary kunjas (groves), where Radhika and Krsna would sleep, the parrot’s services would continue without cessation. When Krsna’s pastimes were over, and Krsna returned to His aprakata-lila (unmanifest pastimes) in Goloka Vrndavana with all His associates; Krsna and Srimati Radhika ordered Sukadeva Gosvami (the parrot), “You should live in this world. We are going, but you should preach Hari-bhakti to all, and so many important tasks will be done by you. So you should please stay back.”
The parrot began to cry and bitterly weep. He said, “I cannot live without You both.”
Pacifying the parrot, Krsna said, “You will be re-united with Us, but for some time you have to be here in this mortal realm. Because We are all going, the world will be empty, so you should help all others.”
[Audio file ends]
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