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shrutva dharman asheshena
pavanani ca sarvashah
After hearing the description of all the rules of religion and all the purifying places of pilgrimage, Yudhishthira gain enquired from Bhishma, the son of Maharaja Shantanu.
kim ekam daivatam loke
kim vapy ekam parayanam
stuvantah kam kam arcantah
prapnyuyr manavah shubham
Yudhishthira said: Please tell me who isthe Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate controller of the universe? Who is thye ultimate destination of all living beings? Whom should men glorify and worship in order to attain auspiciousness?
ko dharmah sarva-dharmanam
bhavatah paramo matah
kim japan mucyate jantur
What do you consider the best of all religious processes? What mantra should one chant to become free from the bondage of repeated birth and death?
Bhishma said: The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the controller of all moving and non-moving beings within the universe, and He is the worshipable master of all the demigods. His transcendental forms and qualities are all unlimited, and He is the best of persons. One should always enthusiastically glorify Him by chanting the Vishnu-sahasra-nama (Thousand names of Lord Vishnu).
tam eva carcayan nityam
bhaktya prursham avyayam
dhyayan stuvan namasyamsh ca
yajamanas tam eva ca
With great faith, the devotee should worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna, whose forms, qualities, opulences and pastimes are all eternal and transcendental. The devotee should glorify Him, continually meditate on His transcendental form, and offer obeisances by bowing down before Him.
lokadhyaksham stuvan nityam
There was never a time when Lord Vishnu first came into existance, and there is no time in the future when He will cease to exist. He is the supreme master of all planets, all living entities, and all the demigods who control the universe. He is the all-pervading, all-knowing witness who sees everything. A person who regularly glorifies Him becomes free from all material miseries, and in that liberated condition becomes full of transcendental bliss.
Note: In his commentary, Shrila Baladeva Vidyabhushana quotes the following verses to describe the immense potency of the glorification of Lord Krishna.
sakrid uccaritam yena
harir ity aksharam dvayam
baddhah parikaras tena
mokshaya gamanam prati
"If one chants the two syllables Ha-ri, even once, he becomes free from all material bondage."
sakrid eva parigitam
shriaddhaya helaya va
"O best of the Bhrigu dynasty, if one even once speaks the holy name of Lord Krishna, either with faith, or even casually, or with contempt, the holy name will liberate that chanter from all material bondage."
Lord Vishnu is the protector and well-wisher of the brahmanas, aware of all principles of religion, the Lord who expands the glory of His devotees, the supreme monarch of all planetary systems, full of all opulences, and the original father of Brahma, Shiva and all living entities.
Note: Shrila Baladeva Vidyabhushana quotes the following verses from Mahabharata, where Krishna explains that He is the source of all living beings.
prajapatim ca rudram capy
aham eva shrijami vai
tau hi mam na vijanito
"The patriarchs, Shiva and others are created by Me, though they do not know that are created by Me, because they are deluded by My illusory energy."*
esha me sarva-dharmanam
dharmo 'dhikatamo matah
yad bhaktya pundarikaksham
stavair arcan narah sada
I think that the best of all spiritual activites is tocontinuously and devotedly worship lotus-eyed Lord Krishna by reciting prayers glorifying Him and describing His holy names.
Note: In his commentary, Shrila Baladeva Vidyabhushana quotes the following verses from the Vedic literatures to describe the glories of the chanting of Lord Krishna's holy names.
The Shruti-mantra explains:
asya jananto nama cid-vivaktana-mahas te vishno sumatim bhajamahe om tat sat
"O Lord Vishnu, we worship You, and we are fully conscious of the spiritual nature of Your holy names."
The Padma Purana explains:
nama cintamahih krishnash
purnah shuddho nitya-mukto
"The holy name of Krishna is transcendentally blissful. It bestows all spiritual benedictions, for it is Krishna Himself, the reservoir of all pleasrue. Krishna's name is complete, and it is the form of all transcendental mellows. It is not a material name under any condition, and it is no less powerful than Krishna Himself. Since Krishna's name is not contaminated by the material qualities, there is no question of it being involved with maya. Krishna's name is always liberated and spiritual; it is never conditioned by the laws of material nature. This is because the name of Krishna and Krishna Himself are identical."*
paramam yo mahat-tejah
paramam yo mahat-tapah
paramam yo mahad brahma
paramam yah parayanam
Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is supremely powerful and splendid, and it is from Him that the sun and other luminaries derive their splendor and heat. He is the ultimate shelter of all living entities. He is partially manifested as the Brahman effulgence.
Note: Shrila Baladeva Vidyabhushana comments that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the demigods are all His order-carriers. In this connection, He quotes the following verse from the smriti-shastra.
yad-bhisha vatah pavate bhishodeti suryah
bhishasmad agnish candrash ca mrityur dhavati
"Out of fear of the Supreme Personality of Godhead the wind blows, and out of fear of Him the sun rises. Out of fear of Him fire, the moon, and death, all perform their respective duties."
pavitranam pavitram yo
mangalanam ca mangalam
daivatam devatanam ca
bhutanam yo 'vyayah pita
Lord Krishna is the most purifying of all purifiers, and it is He who gives the power to remove sinful reactions to the Ganges and other places of pilgrimage. He is the most auspicious of all auspicious personalities, and it is He who gives to Ganesha and others the power to remove obstacles. He is the most worshipable person, superior to Brahma and all the demigods. He is the eternal, original father of all living entities.
yatah sarvani bhutani
yasmimsh ca pralayam yanti
punar eva yuga-kshaye
All living beings come from Lord Krishna at the beginning of creation. They are maintained by Lord Krishna while the creation is manifested, and they enter into Him again when the creation is destroyed.
Note: Shrila Baladeva Vidyabhushana notes that the the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the source of the entire creation. He quotes the authoritative statement of Vedanta-sutra (1.1.2) janmady asya yatah (The Absolute Truth is He from whom everything emanates).
vishnor nama-sahasram me
Please hear from me the one-thousand holy names of Lord Vishnu, the supreme master and controller of the universe. These holy names of the Lord destroy the fearful reactions of past sinful deeds.
yani namani gaunani
tani vakshyami bhutaye
In order to attain the supreme goal of life, I shall now chant the celebrated holy names of Lord Vishnu. Great sages glorify these holy names, which describe the Lord's transcendental qualities and pastimes.
Note: Shrila Baladeva Vidyabhushana notes that Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, although He appears in a multitude of forms, just as the vaidurya stone remains a single jem, although it appears to change colors. The Gopala Tapani Upanishad explains:
eko vashi sarvagah krishna idya
eko 'pi san bahudha yo 'vabhati
Lord Krishna is the omnipotent, all-pervading worshipable Personality of Godhead. Although He is one, He has manifested in many forms."
The Shrimad-Bhagavatam (1.3.28) also explains:
krishnas tu bhagavan svayam
"All of the above mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions, or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Shri Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead."*
Shrila Baladeva Vidyabhushana says: Manifesting in innumerable forms, the Lord sometimes displays all His potencies, and sometimes He displays only a part of His potencies. Appearing as Lord Narayana, He displays all His potencies. Appearing in His kala (partial) expansions, He reveals only part of His potency. He appears as Lord Vasudeva, who has no contact with the material world, and again He appears as Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. He appears as Karanodakashayi Vishnu, Garbhodadashayi Vishnu and Kshirodakashayi Vishnu, who are completely spiritual manifestations free from any trace of matter, and who are known as the purusha-avataras. From Lord Garbhodakashayi Vishnu Lord Kurma and the other lila-avataras (pastime incarnations), as well as the manvantara-avataras (incarnations during the period of Manu) and Yuga-avatara (incarnations for the millenium) appear. All these incarnations are glorified in the verses of the Puranas.
Conscious that Lord Krishna is the original form from whom the other forms of the Personality of Godhead emanate, Bhishma now describes the holy names that describe Lord Krishna's various forms and pastimes.