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In this khanda, there is a description of the process of creation. This is nicely covered in the second canto of Shrimad-Bhagavatam, and so it will not be repeated here. Also, in this khanda, there are lengthy discriptions of numerous holy places. In the course of these discussions, the following story was told: There were once five Gandharva girls who were very good friends. They were all in the prime of youth, they were all very beautiful, and they were profient in singing and the art of playing musical instruments. Under the protection of their parents, they freely wandered about in Kuvera's abode.One day, after nicely decorating themselves with flowers, the five girls went to a lake, called Acchoda, for worshiping Goddess Parvati. After picking golden and blue lotus flowers from the lake, the girls fashioned a deity of the goddess Uma, and put her on an altar, decorated with flowers and jewels. Thereafter, the girls danced in front of the deity, while singing excellent songs, accompanied by musical in¬struments.At this time, the eldest son of a sage came there to bathe. He was very handsome, and his eyes were like two blooming lotus flowers. His chest was broad, his arms were very strong, and his complexion was dark. Indeed, he looked like a second Cupid. He was a brahmachari, and he was dressed in deerskin. Upon seeing him, the girls, full of curi¬osity and delight, decided to make the sage's son their welcome guest. Stopping their singing and dancing, and being pierced by Cupid's arrows, the girls appeared bewildered, as if worshiping the sage with their glances. They talked among themselves: "Is this the god of love/ Or is he one of the twin Asvins? Is he a Gandharva, Siddha, or Kinnara? Is he the son of a sage, or is he the best among men? Is he someone specially created for us by Brahma?"As the five girls were thus talking, the intelligent boy, having finished his bath, thought to himself, "What shall I do that is beneficial for me? Even great, meditating saints have been easily deluded by women. Who will not fall victim after being pierced by the lusty glances °f a beautiful girl? Only for as long as a man is not intoxicated by the glances of beautiful women, does his moral sense prevail. In such a person, there is fear of society. He is self-possessed, he has consideration for his family, and there is tranquility.""With their charming amorous gestures, women madden a passionate man. These girls are trying to bewilder me, but 1 am intent upon guarding my righteousness. Passionate men, with their minds deluded, imagine great charm to be present in the worthless and impure bodies of women- which are made of flesh, blood, bone, stool and urine-and thus they live with them. I hope that 1 can return home without these girls talking to me."Indeed, as the girls were approachig the sage, he suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. At this, the girls felt very disappointed. They prayed, "O charming one, give up your magical tricks. Present yourself to us quickly. Why then, did you show yourself at all? Why were you made by the Creator? Is your heart so cruel? Don't you feel any attrac¬tion for us? Are you trying to steal our minds? Don't you trust us? Are you testing us? Do you know the art of entering our hearts, but not the means of getting out? Have pity upon us."
After waiting a long time, the girls started for home. They were late, and they appeared very distracted, and so their mothers wondered about the cause. The girls gave some exuses, as girls always do, and their mothers were satisfied. But then, it was seen that the girls' behavior was not as before. They did not play with their pets, they did not do their household work, and did not talk and giggle, as usual.Indeed, the girls seems almost delirious, as if attacked by a high fever. It was only with great difficulty that they passed the night. The next morning, they again went to the lake and worshiped goddess Gauri. After that, the girls sang and danced, as before.Meanwhile, the brahmana also came to the Acchoda lake, from his father's hermitage. Upon seeing him, the girls were so delighted that their eyes expanded with joy, like lotuses at the end of night. Quickly, they came and surrounded him, making a chain by holding each other's hands, and they also grabbed hold of his hands. The girls said, "Dear one, yesterday, you left us, but today, you cannot do this. We have all chosen you as our beloved."The brahmana replied, "Your words are very pleasing, but they are meant for destroying my vow of celibacy. I have not yet completed my studies at the house of my guru. Therefore, I don't feel that I should get married yet."The girls eagerly said, "Prosperity (artha) is better than piety (dharma). Satisfaction of desires (kama) is superior to prosperity. The fruit of happiness is enjoyed only when desires are fulfilled. Now, kama is standing before you, as a result of your performance of dharma. There¬fore, you should enjoy with us here in this sacred place."The brahmana replied, "What you say is true, but I must fulfill my vow. I shall marry only with my preceptor's permission- not other¬wise."At this, the girls said, "Handsome one, you must be a great fool! Excellent girls, from good families, are very charming. When they have approached of their own accord, a wise man will enjoy their company without restraint. Nectar should be taken from a stock of poison, gold should be picked up even from a filthy place, knowledge should be ac¬cepted from a lowborn person, and a jewel of a woman should be ac¬cepted, even if she is from a low family.""Only a fortunate man obtains a girl of spotless character, born in a good family, whose heart is full of love, whose talk is very sweet, and who is beautiful to behold. You should accept us at once, by the Gandharva style of marriage, otherwise, we cannot continue living."
The brahmana replied, "O lovely girls, should a man whose wealth is righteousness give it up? Since I have taken the vow of brahmacharya, I won't give it up at an improper time."Seeing the brahmana's determination, the girls let go of his hands. Then, one girl seized his feet, while two others grabbed his arms. An¬other embraced him and the last one kissed him on his face. And yet, the brahmana was undisturbed by lust. Becoming enraged, he then cursed the girls, saying, "Since you cling to me like demons, you shall be trans¬formed into demons!"At this, the girls angrily counter-cursed the brahmana, saying, You have cursed us, who only wanted to do good for you. For this, we curse you to also become a demon!"Thus, it came to be that they all became demons at that lake, and thereafter, spent their time wandering here and there, for food. Some time, much later on, the great sage Lomasa happened to come to the Accodha lake. Upon seeing the brahmana, all the demons, living in a group, ran towards him, desiring to eat him. But, they were burnt by the ascetic prowess of that sage, and thus could not stand before him. The male demon, who had formerly been a brahmana, then came and offered his obeisances unto Lomasa Rishi. He explained how he and the five Gandharva girls had cursed each other to become ghostly demons. He then begged the rishi to be merciful and enable them to regain their former positions.The compassionate rishi replied, "Let all of you attain righteous¬ness, so that your demoniac condition of life will soon end."
The former brahmana then asked Lomasa to prescribe acts of righteousness that would free them from their demoniac life.
In reply, Lomasa told them to bathe in the Narmada river. After hearing this, the demons quickly went and bathed in that holy river, for a long time. As a result, they soon became relieved of their curses.There lived in the city of Nishada, a merchant whose wealth resembled that of Kuvera. His name was Hemakundala. He was of high parentage, and was very pious. He had agricultural fields and also traded in many commodities. He raised cows and horses, he sold milk, milk products, fruit, wood, salt, vegetables, spices, metals and sugar. By working very hard throughout his life, the merchant amassed a huge fortune, consisting of crores of gold coins.When Hemakundala became old and grey, he began to think se¬riously about the temporary nature of material existence. As a result, he decided to engage one sixth of his wealth in the execution of pious activities.He built a temple of Lord Vishnu, and also one of Lord Shiva. He dug a lake, and constructed many wells. He planted many useful trees and set up stalls outside the city where travellers could drink cool wa¬ter. He also gave much in charity, as directed in the Puranas.Finally, after giving full responsibility for managing his business affairs to his two sons, Shrikundala and Vikundala, he retired to the forest, for a life of penance. With his mind always fixed upon the Su¬preme Lord, Vishnu, Hemakundala went to the abode of the Lord, Vaikuntha, after quitting his material body.Both of Hemakundala's sons were of bad character. They were young and handsome, but they were very proud of their inherited wealth-They soon became addicted to all kinds of bad habits, they did not observe any religious practices, and they did not obey their mother or' other elders. They refused to recognize their father's friends.The two boys passed their time by playing musical instruments and singing in the company of numerous prostitutes. They were sur¬rounded by flatterers and were very skilled in enjoying the company of beautiful women. They dressed very nicely and wore expensive jewelry. They became addicted to drinking wine and indulging in sexual rela¬tions with others' wives.
In this way, they squandered all of their father's money. Indeed, they liberally gave charity to whores, rogues, actors, wrestlers, and sing¬ers. They never gave anything to the devotees of Lord Vishnu and the brahmanas. They never engaged in the worship of Lord Vishnu.When their wealth was completely exhausted, they became ex¬tremely unhappy. Indeed, they became oppressed by hunger and grief. Because of their poverty, all of their friends, relatives and kinsmen left them. At last, they resorted to stealing. Then, being afraid of the king, they left the city and resided in the forest. They maintained them¬selves by hunting animals and eating them. After some time, they sepa¬rated. One lived in the mountains and the other lived in the forest. Finally, the elder son died, being killed by a tiger, and the younger one died due to snakbite.They were then bound by the Yamadutas and taken to Yamaraja's abode. After they were brought before him, Yama.consulted Chitragupta, who has a record of everyone's sinful and pious activities. Yamaraja told his assistants, "One should be taken to hell and tortured, while the other will go to heaven for enjoyment."The Yamadutas promptly threw Shrikundala into the hell called Raurava. Then, Vikundala was escorted to heaven. Being astonished and curious, Vikundala asked the messenger accompanying him, "For what reason am I going to heaven while my brother goes to hell? We were born in the same family and performed similar activities. We both met with miserable deaths. I can see no reason why I should go to heaven."The divine messenger of heaven replied, "One receives a mother, atner and brother, etc. as a result of his past activities. They are like "e gathering of birds in a tree. A man always attains the fruit of his ctivities. Your brother has gone to hell because of his very sinful acts.Because of your piety, you are ascending to heaven."
Vikundala said, "From my very childhood, I was interested in sin¬ful acts and not pious ones. I know that I have committed many sinful activities. I cannot remember doing anything pious. If there is some pious act of mine that I forget, please tell me of about it."The divine messenger said, "There was a brahmana named Sumitra, the son of Harimitra. He had mastered the Vedas in his ashram, situ¬ated on the banks of the Yamuna. While living in the forest, you be¬friended him. Due to his association, you had bathed in the River Yamuna, during the month of Magha, for two consecutive years. It is this act that relieved you of all sins. Actually, one month of bathing removed all of your sinful reactions, and the second month of bathing awarded you heaven. You will enjoy godly delights, while your brother suffers terribly in hell."Feeling sorry for his poor brother, Vikundala inquired about the acts that would send one to heavan, as well as those that would send one to hell. In response, the divine messenger talked on this subject for a long time. While doing so, he said, "For one who drinks the water of the Yamuna, what is the necessity of partaking of the five products of the cow (milk, yogurt, ghee, dung and urine), even thousands of times?""I had heard from Lomasa Rishi that if a man, even by accident, fasts on Ekadashi, he will not undergo punishment by Yamaraja. There is nothing else as purifying in the three worlds. For as long as one does not observe a fast on Ekadashi (the day sacred to Lord Vishnu), sin will live in his body. All of the sins committed by the eleven senses, perishes if one fasts on the eleventh day (Ekadashi).""The devotees of Lord Vishnu never see the abode of Yamaraja. Indeed, Yamaraja has repeatedly told his servants, "You must spare the devotees of Lord Vishnu. They are not within my jurisdiction.""For the most sinful persons to cross over the ocean of hell, there is no other means than devotion to Lord Vishnu."Vikundala said, "I feel very pleased after hearing your words. Now, kindly tell me, how can I save my poor brother from the torments of hell?"After thinking for a moment, the divine messenger said, "If you want your brother to also go to heaven then you should donate to him the piety that you performed in the eigth birth prior to this one." Vikundala asked, "What pious acts had I performed in that birth? What was I, in that former existence?"
The divine messenger explained, "Long ago, there lived a sage named Shakuni, in Madhuvana. He had nine sons. Four of these were completely detached from materialistic life, and so they didn't enter household life, but instead, accepted the renounced order. They en¬gaged their time in meditation upon Lord Vishnu, and they had no possessions. In this way, they wandered over the Earth, without per¬forming any act for personal gain.""One day, being oppressed by hunger and thirst, these four sannyasis came to your house, in your eighth previous birth. You were a brahmana. Upon seeing them in your courtyard, you went and offered your obei¬sances, along with words of glorification. You then fed the sannyasis and let them sleep in your house that night."The divine messenger concluded by saying, "I could not describe with even a thousand mouths the religious merit that you earned by giving hospitality to those sannyasis. Now, if you give that merit to your brother, he will be delivered from hell."Upon hearing this, Vikalpana quickly donated his merit to his brother, causing him to be immediately liberated from hell. Thus it came to be that together, the two brothers went to heaven.
After describing the duties of the four varnas and four ashramas, Suta Gosvami made this statement: "O brahmanas, these duties of varnashrama, as described by me to you, do not constitute even one-sixteenth part of devotional service to Lord Vishnu. Especially in Kali-yuga, devotion for Lord Vishnu is the only desirable objective of life. In other ages, the rules governing varnashrama must be followed, but in Kali-yuga, only the rules and regulations of devotional service to Lord Vishnu need be accepted."
"There is no doubt that one who has devotion to Lord Vishnu has conquered the three worlds. It is Lord Hari alone who should be wor¬shiped. The demon of sin immediately perishes as soon as one chants the great mantra for deliverance, the holy names of the Lord.""That pure-hearted devotee who circumambulates the Deity of Lord Vishnu, even once, gets the result of bathing in all the holy places. Indeed, simply by seeing the Deity of Lord Vishnu, one receives the same benefit that one gets by visiting all the holy places of pilgrimage."Shrila Prabhupada quotes the next vetse in his Nectai of Devo¬tion, as follows: "There is this specific statement in the Padma Purana: "A person who honors the prasada and regularly eats it, not exactly in front of the Deity, along with charanamrita [the water offered to the lotus feet of the Lord, which is mixed with seeds of the tulasi tree], immediately can achieve the results of pious activities which are ob¬tained through ten thousand performances of sacrificial rites."Suta Gosvami continued, "By chanting the holy names of the Lord, one receives the benefit of chanting all the Vedic mantras. A devotee who smells the tulasi leaves offered to Lord Vishnu will not have to see the face of Yamaraja.""A devotee who has offered his obeisances to Lord Vishnu, even once, will not again have to drink his mother's milk (he will not be born again in this world). Even low-born men, such as chandalas, mlecchas and yavanas, are worthy of being worship, if they are unal¬loyed devotees of Lord Vishnu. What then to speak of the brahmanas and great sages?""A devotee who loudly chants the holy names of the Lord purifies the entire world, as does water from the Ganga. There is no doubt that one who chants the holy name of the Lord, and touches the lotus feet of the Deit.y is freed from all sins, even the killing of a brahmana."
"O sages, the holy name of Lord Vishnu is the best of holy places. Indeed, those who chant the holy names of the Lord make the entire world a holy place. Therefore, there is nothing more meritorious than the chanting of the holy names of Lord Krishna. Lord Vishnu has put His own potency into His holy names."The following verse was often quoted by Shrila Prabhupada, as folllows: "There is no difference between the Lord and His variously presented energies. This is also confirmed in the Padma Purana:" noma cintamanih krsnash I caitanya-rasa-vigrahah purnah suddho nitya-mukto I 'bhinnatvan nama-naminoh "The holy name of the Lord is fully identical with the Lord, not partially. The word purna means 'complete.' The Lord is omnipotent and omniscient, and similarly, His name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and everything pertaining to Him are complete, pure, eternal and free from material contamination."Suta Gosvami continued, "One who considers any other deity to be equal to Lord Vishnu will go to a terrible hell. The name of Lord Vishnu is a greatly destructive weapon, for it is like a thunderbolt smash¬ing a mountain of sins.""That head which bows down before the Deity of Lord Vishnu is the best part of one's body. That tongue is only really a tongue when it glorifies the Lord. Those who, even though possessed of a tongue, do not chant the holy names of the Lord, surely fall down, even while attempting to traverse the path of liberation. Therefore, O sages, you should always worship Lord Krishna, and continuously chant His holy names."
While describing the glories of devotional service to Lord Vishnu, Suta Gosvami warned of obstacles on the path. One obstacle is the association of persons who are inimical to the devotional service of the Lord. The other obstacle is the association of women.Suta Gosvami said, "The command given by the glance of a woman cannot be overruled even by the demigods. One who has overcome the tendency to become the menial servant of a woman is called a devotee f Lord Vishnu in this world.""Even sages who long for the association of women become mad. at devotion for Lord Vishnu can be present in a man who is fond of omen? Actually, women are demonesses, moving in the guise of beau-iful women, for they constantly eat up the minds of men. As long as here are no glances of fickle-minded women, knowedge can be ac¬quired, the intellect can grasp sacred texts, chanting of the holy name is possible, the guru can be served, the desire to cross over the ocean of material existence can remain, discrimination is possible, there is liking for the association of devotees, and there is a desire to hear the Puranas." "For those who are favored with even a little taste of the nectar of Lord Krishna's lotus feet, the glancing of women will not become an obstacle. Those who have rendered devotional service to Lord Vishnu ror many, many births, have become detached from the allurement of women.""What is actually the beauty of a woman? Her body is made of Pus, urine, stool, blood, skin, flesh, bone, marrow and fat. Still, the body °' a woman is considered to be beautiful by a man. What condition ^en have fallen into, by misfortune, so that they consider that a person who doesn't have breasts is a man, and a person who has breasts is a woman!""A good man should avoid women at all costs. Who on this Earth has attained success after meeting a woman? A man should not only avoid contact with women, but also with men who have contact with women. A woman's association is actually hell."
"While coming out of his mother's vagina, a living entity almost dies of pain. And yet, later on, that same living entity finds delight in another woman's vagina. Indeed, men take delight in that thing from which urine comes out every day.""In this world, the combination of a man and woman simply brings about great misery. Oh, the shamelessness of men who take de¬light in sexual intercourse, again and again! A wise man should con¬template deeply the many faults of women. Due to sex, there is loss of strength. After sexual indulgence, one is easily conquered by sleep. In¬deed, too much sex shortens one's duration of life. Therefore, a wise man should look at a woman as the form of death.""Instead of taking delight in the association of women, one should take pleasure in meditating upon the lotus feet of Lord Krishna. What great fool would leave aside devotional service at the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu, which gives great pleasure in this world and the next, so that he can engage in the service of the feet of a woman? Devotion for the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu brings about liberation from the vicious cycle of repeated birth and death. On the other hand, service to a woman's vagina will send him into the womb of his next mother, so that he can experience further suffering. Repeatedly, such a man is tortured within one woman's womb and then longs for another woman after birth.""Raising my hands over my head, 1 am speaking to you. Please listen to my words, which are full of profound meaning,and which are meant for your benefit. Place your heart into the service of Lord Vishnu, and not into a woman's vagina. The devotee who lives by avoiding the association of women obtains the result of performing a horse-sacrifice at every step. There is no doubt that the Lord is pleased with a devotee who has married a pious woman, belonging to a noble family, and avoids having sexual intercourse with her after the birth of a son. When there is yoga (union) with a woman, yoga with the Lord is not pos¬sible.""Unalloyed devotion for Lord Vishnu is rarely achieved, but one who possesses it, is happy. Indeed, human life, without devotion for the Lord, is fruitless. Even Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva worship Lord Vishnu, in the hopes of pleasing Him. Who then would not engage in the Supreme Lord's service?'