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Once, Narada Muni went to visit the Pandavas at the Kamya forest. The Pandavas were living in exile and they appeared to be emaciated with grief. After very respectfully greeting the Devarshi, Maha¬raja Yudhisthira inquired, "Do to what acts of ours have we fallen into this ocean of distress?Devarshi Narada replied, "O son of Pandu, give up your grief. What man can be happy in this material world, which is full of conditions that create alternating happiness and distress? Nobody is free from material miseries. Everyone must tolerate distress.Just consider- even the Sun is attacked by Rahu. Rahu's head was cut off by Lord Vishnu, even as he was enjoying nectar! And, Lord Vishnu Himself was thrown into the ocean by the brave Jalandhara. Yet, that demon was also killed- by Lord Shiva."
Upon hearing this, Maharaja Yudhisthira became very curious to hear about Jalandhara, and so Narada Muni narrated the story as follows:Once, Indra, surrounded by all the demigods, Apsaras and Gandharvas, went to see Lord Shiva at Kailash. When they arrived, the demigods were truly amazed to see Kailash's splendor and opulence. The trees were all kalpa-vrikshas (wish-fulfilling trees). The land was made of chintamani (touch-stone), and it also yeilded whatever might be desired. The mountain looked charming due to being adorned with champa, mango, ashoka, and numerous other flowering trees.There were lakes, having crystal staircases, which were full of lotuses that resembled gold, clinging to stalks that appeared like emarald.Indeed, the demigods saw Mount Kailash as more beautiful than heaven, as if it had been fashioned in a superior manner.Getting down from his airplane, Indra approached Nandi, expressing his ardent desire to see Mahadeva, while saying that he wished to dance for the lord. Nandi went and informed Lord Shiva of Indra's resence. Thus, the demigods were quickly ushered to the place where Lord Shiva was staying.The Apsaras began to dance, while others played upon musical instruments. Indra himself then performed a lovely dance. Lord Shiva was delighted and so asked the king of heaven to accept a benediction.Upon hearing this, Indra, who was very proud of his prowess,said, "My lord, I would like to have a chance to fight with someone who is a warrior as powerful as you. Kindly grant me such an opportunity.After obtaining his wish, Indra departed. Lord Shiva then told his attendants, "Just see how the king of heaven has become so proud!Indeed, Lord Shiva was very angry, so that his wrath manifested itself in a personal form and stood before him. Lord Shiva told that angry person, who was like dense darkness, "Go and conquer Indra!At that time, the River Ganga, due to the strength of her youthful energy, became excited with lust. Upon seeing her, the Ocean became infatuated, and as a result of their union, a mighty son was born. In fact, the boy was so powerful that upon his birth, the entire earth trembled. Even Lord Brahma's meditation became disturbed.At the urging of Inda, Lord Brahma mounted his swan carrier and went to see the Ocean. He inquired, "Ocean, why are you roaring so terribly?
The Ocean replied, "I am not roaring. What you hear is my mighty child. Please protect him.The Ocean's wife then brought her son, and Lord Brahma placed him upon his lap. At that time, the boy grabbed Lord Brhama's beard, and the grandsire was not able to free it. Upon seeing this, the Ocean laughingly took Lord Brahma's beard from his son's hand. Because of witnessing the boy's wonderful prowess, Lord Brahma gave him the name, Jalandhara, and also gave him a benediction, saying, "This boy will be unconquerable, even by the demigods. By my favor, he will enjoy the lordship of heaven.After saying this, Lord Brahma mounted his swan carrier and departed. Thereafter, as he grew up, Jalandhara frightened all crea¬tures- on the land, in the ocean, and in the sky. Indeed, the creatures within the ocean hid themselves. When the subterranean fire within the sea saw the ocean devoid of creatures, it became fearful and so went to stay in the Himalayas.After attaining youth, Jalandhara once requested his father, "Give me a very extensive place for my residence.The Ocean assured his son that he would get a very superior place to live. One day thereafter, the preceptor of the demons, Shukracharya came to visit the Ocean. After very respectfully seating him on a fine throne, the Ocean joined his hands and said, "It is my great fortune that you have come here. What service can I offer?Shukra replied, "What is the use of a son that simply robs her mother of her youth? Your son, however, due to his great prowess, will enjoy the kingdom of the three worlds.There is a tract of land in Jambudvipa that you have inundated. It was a place enjoyed by the female attendants of goddess Durga. Kindly give this place to your son.The Ocean happily complied and then called for Maya Danava. He said, "Make a city for Jalandhara at the place designated by Shukracharya.Thereafter, Maya Danava fashioned a wondeful city, full of valu¬able jewels- a city that fascinated the beholder with it's splendor. In¬deed, the golden palaces were so brilliant, like the sun, that the pea¬cocks would run away upon seeing them, fearing a fire.The Ocean, along with Shukra, and the presiding deities of the rivers, installed Jalandhara in that city. The Ocean also gave his son a formidable army, and Lord Brahma presented him with weapons.Thereafter, the demons, led by Kalanemi, who had been residing in the nether regions, came to see Jalandhara. An alliance was made and Shumbhasura became the commander-in-chief.Meanwhile, there was an Apsara named Shyarna. Due to connec¬tion with Krauncha, a daughter named Vrinda was born. It appeared that the Creator fashioned Vrinda's body by taking all kinds of beauty and assembling them in one place.Shukracharya then asked Krauncha for Vrinda's hand in mar¬riage, on Jalandhara's behalf. Thus it so happened that Vrinda married Jalandhara, according to the Gandharva style. Jalandhara remained a faithful husband, not longing for any other woman, and Vrinda gave up her childishness, so that she could dutifully serve her husband.One day, upon seeing Rahu's cut-off head, Jalandhara questioned Shukra.
The preceptor then told him all about the churning of the Milk Ocean and the battle that took place between the demigods and demons, on account of the nectar produced from it.Jalandhara then sent a messenger named Durvarana to Indra. ^ter being respectfully seated by the king of heaven, he said, "I am Jalandhara's envoy. Please hear his order: 'Why did you, by employing Mandara mountain as the rod, churn my uncle, the Milk Ocean. You then took away all the treasures produced from the Ocean,such as Lakshmi, Airavata, Ucchaishravas, and much more. Indra, give all these back to me and leave heaven at once, if you desire to continue living.Indra laughingly replied, "Messenger, hear the reason why I churned the Milk Ocean. The foolish Ocean, your master's father, is the resort of many demons, who are haters of Dharma. His brother always supplies milk, dahi and ghee to them. By thus taking away all the wealth from the Milk Ocean, we punished him.Durvarana then returned to Jalandhara and related to him all that had taken place. Upon hearing Indra's speech, Jalandhara became enraged and called for his army. By his order, all of the demons as¬sembled and then set out to fight. This caused a terrible fear to all creatures, in all directions. Indeed, some of the demons had faces re¬sembling horses, elephants, camels, cats, tigers, lions, and rats. Some had hair that resembled snakes, and eyes that sparkled like lightning.Jalandhara mounted his airplane, which was one hundred yojanas long, and was pulled by crores of swans. On the first, day, at noon, Jalandhara and his army reached Mount Mandara. On the second day, he reached Mount Meru.The demons then destroyed the Nandana garden, shattered the peaks of Mount Meru, and took the wives of the Siddhas by force.Finally, after destroying the abodes of the other Lokapalas, Jalandhara arrived at Amaravati, the capital of Indra. Many fearful omens became visible to the demigods, and Indra's thunderbolt fell from his hands. The king of heaven fearfully approached Brihaspati, who then advised, "You should take shelter of the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu, who eternally resides in Vaikuntha.
Thus it came to be that Vijaya, the gatekeeper at Vaikuntha, in¬formed Lord Vishnu of Indra's arrival. Lord Vishnu quickly mounted upon Garuda and went to where the demigods were waiting. Indra then informed Lord Vishnu of how Jalandhara had devastated heaven.After being given assurances by Lord Vishnu, the demigods set out to fight with the demons. Lord Vishnu, amidst all of the demigods, shone brightly. Indra, riding up a chariot driven by Matali, went in front of Lord Vishnu. Agni, mounted upon a ram, was by the Lord's side. Indra's son, Jayanta, was mounted upon Airavata. The twelve Adityas went in front of Indra. The Rudras, mounted upon bulls, went in front of the army.The two armies, that of Jalandhara and that of the devas, thus clashed, in the area between the Mandara and Meru mountains.Indra ordered the Samvartaka clouds to fight, and so they mounted upon large elephants. Yamaraja also fought by taking the form of nu¬merous diseases. Thus, a fierce battle took place between the demons and the diseases. Being struck by acute pain, the demons writhed upon the ground.
Some great demons lifted up the enemy chariots and then flew into the sky. They then threw the chariots, horses and drivers down to the ground. Some demons picked up two elephants, placing them on their two sides, and then put a third one on their bellies and a fourth on their heads.Lord Vishnu angrily attacked the demon, Kalanemi, while Rahu fought with the Sun and Moon. Brihaspati fought with Shukracharya. Lord Vishnu soon killed Kalanemi. After defeating the Sun, Rahu attacked the Moon. Striking the Moon with his fist, Rahu swallowed him and then again spat him out. Next, Rahu captured the horse, Uccaishravas, and took him to Jalandhara. Maya Danava tied up Yamaraja with nooses and presented him to Jalandhara, as well.Thereafter, Indra killed the great demon, Bala. This enraged Jalandhara, and so he violently attacked the king of heaven, making him faint upon the floor of his chariot. At this, the Ocean's son roared with delight.After regaining consciousness, Indra released his thunderbolt at Jalandhara. The demon avoided the thunderbolt, however, and after picking up a mountain crag, he rushed at Inra. Understanding that Jalandhara wanted to capture him, Indra got down from his chariot and ran away. At this, Jalandhara mounted Indra's chariot. Keeping Matali as the driver, the demon chased after the king of heaven.Seeing this, Lord Vishnu urged on Garuda, who could travel at the speed of mind, and He began to create a great slaughter of demons, causing the battlefield to become a river of hair, bones, intestines and blood. To retaliate, the leaders of the demons came and surrounded Lord Vishnu, showering their weapons upon Him, in torrents.Indeed, the shower of weapons was so dense that Lord Vishnu and Garuda became invisible. The demon, Shaiiaroma then rushed at Lord Vishnu. Vishnu's arrows bounced off the demons' body, and so the Lord took His sword and cut off his head. Still, the headless trunk came and seized Garuda by the wings. The demon's head then bounced up and stuck to his severed trunk, and upon seeing this, even Lord Vishnu appeared to be amazed.Garuda fell to the ground, and so Shaiiaroma picked up Lord Vishnu from His carrier's back. Lord Vishnu retaliated, however, by striking the demon with the palm of His hand, causing him to fall dead onto the ground. When he saw this, Jalandhara urged his charioteer to take him to where Lord Vishnu was stationed.Coming before Lord Vishnu, the Ocean's son said, "Kill me with¬out fear. I shall not kill you, Madhava.
Upon hearing this, the enraged Vishnu discharged numerous pow¬erful arrows. In return, Jalandhara sent streams of his own at Lord Vishnu and Garuda. Indeed, Garuda, pierced by hundreds of arrows, fell unconscious. At this time, Lord Vishnu thought of His chariot in Vaikuntha. Quickly, that chariot arrived. Garuda regained conscious¬ness and so Lord Vishnu had him become the driver. He then approached Jalandhara. Seeing this, the army of the demigods rallied, and a great slaughter of the demons ensued.Upon seeing how his army was being exterminated, Jalandhara went to Shukracarya and said, "Even in your presence, my army is being destroyed. What then is the use of ascetic prowess?Shukra replied, "O King, just see my brahminical might!" Saying this, Shukra touched water and recited a powerful man¬tra. After this, when Jalandhara discharged his weapons, the demigods fell to the ground in great numbers, their bodies shattered.Lord Vishnu then said to Brihaspati, "What is the use of your so-called prowess? Why are you not reviving our fallen warriors?Brihaspati replied, "My dear Lord, by means of medicinal herbs, I shall bring the demigods back to life.Brihaspati then went to the mountain, Drona, within the ocean, and took the proper herbs. By using them, he brought the slain demi¬gods back to life. Upon seeing this, Jalandhara said, "Shukra, how could they be revived in your presence?Shukra explained how Brihaspati had brought medicinal herbs from the Drona mountain. Jalandhara then went to the Milk Ocean and entered a divine mansion there, within the water. He entered the Milk Oceans's pleasure chamber, which was never too hot nor too cold. Darkness was never noticed there. Excellent women were seen, bearing the burden of heavy breasts, although having thin waists. They were dancing, casting amorous glances here and there, moving to and fro with fascinating movements, and smiling enchantingly.Jalandhara said, "Uncle, you must please inundate Brihaspati with your water, for he is siding with my enemies.The Ocean of Milk replied, "How can I inundate one who has taken shelter of me? Such an action would make me condemned by all respectable people.At this, Jalandhara angrily struck the Drona mountain with his foot. The personified Drona then came to Jalandhara and said, "I am surrendering to you, please protect me and consider me as your servant. If you like, I shall go to the nether regions and remain there with all the herbs, until the time when you rule the world.After the departure of Drona, Jalandhara returned to the battle¬field. Upon seeing Lord Vishnu, he challenged, "Wait in Your chariot until I have killed my other enemies.Upon seeing Jalandhara's renewed enthusiasm, the demigods sought the protection of Brihaspati. The preceptor of the demigods then went to the Milk Ocean. Whend he failed to see the Drona Moun¬tain, he anxiously returned to the battlefield and advised the demigods to retreat.
While Brihaspati was thus speaking, Jalandhara cut off his brahmana's thread and hair, with his arrows. Brihaspati hastily fled and the demigods followed. Jalandhara then approached Lord Vishnu, and a fierce battle ensued.
Being greatly harrassed by Vishnu's arrows, Jalandhara abandoned his chariot and rushed at the Lord. While tolerating the onslaught of arrows, Jalandhara took Garuda in one hand and Lord Vishnu's chariot in the other. After whirling them around, he threw them all the way to Svetadvipa. Lord Vishnu got freed Himself from the smashed chariot, however, and returned to the battlefield.A terrible duel ensued, but Lord Vishnu did not kill Jalandhara,having been forbidden to do so by Lakshmi. Finally, the Lord fell to the ground, having been struck by innumerable arrows. Jalandhara came and put Lord Vishnu upon his chariot. At that time, Lakshmi came there.Lakshmi, who had also been born from the Ocean, said, "My dear brother, you have performed a great feat by vanquishing Lord Vishnu. It is not proper to make your sister a widow.Upon hearing this, Jalandhara released Lord Vishnu, out of re¬spect for his sister. Lord Vishnu, being pleased, then offered Jalandhara a benediction. The demon requested the Lord to reside at his father's abode, along with Lakshmi. Saying, "Alright", the Lord remembered Garuda and then went to the Milk Ocean, along with Lakshmi. Since then, Lord Krishna has been living at his father-in-law's house, within the ocean.Having thus conquered the demigods, Jalandhara began to rule the universe, without any competition. Indeed, during his reign over the Earth, there was no death for human beings, and no one went to hell. There were no unfortunate or barren women. There were no ugly, wicked, distressed or notorious women to be seen. There were no wid¬ows, and no poor men, within his kingdom. Every house was endowed with young and beautiful women. Nobody was harrassed, and all were wealthy.The demigods, however, had to leave heaven, and their condition became quite miserable. Finally, the demigods approached Lord Brahma, who took them to Kailash. Lord Brahma and Indra praised Lord Shiva, seeking his refuge. After Lord Brahma explained everything about the demigods' calamity, Mahadeva replied, "All of the ancient weapons have proved futile against the demon, Jalandhara. Therefore, a new weapon must be fashioned, composed of my energy.Lord Brahma requested, "You should make this weapon, for only you know the limits of your own power.Lord Shiva then requested the demigods to discharge their effulgence, combined with their wrath. At this time, Lord Shiva thought of Lord Vishnu, who quickly came there. Lord Shiva then asked Him why He hadn't kill Jalandhara in the battle.Lord Vishnu explained, "If I had killed Jalandhara, how would I have been able to face Lakshmi? Therefore, husband of Parvati, you should kill the demon in battle.
At Lord Shiva's request, Lord Vishnu also donated His effulgence, combined with His anger. Since the others present, such as Vishvakarma, could not bear the strength of the combined effulgences, Lord Shiva danced upon that lustre. Indeed, from that dancing, he created a won¬derful chakra, having three hundred thousand spokes. Lord Shiva gave the chakra to Lord Brahma, but it burnt his beard. Seeing this, Lord Shiva laughed and quickly took it back and put it under his armpit.Narada Muni went to Jalandhara and informed him that Lord Shiva had vowed to kill him. Jalandhara asked Narada what Lord Shiva possessed, saying that there was no point in fighting without the desire to achieve something. In reply, Narada described that Lord Shiva pos¬sessed one wonderful thing- his exquisitely beautiful wife, Parvati. At this time, Narada Muni described Parvati as being far superior to Vrinda, the demon's wife.After saying this, Narada disappeared from view. Jalandhara then sent Rahu as a messenger to Kailash. Lord Vishnu had already left for the Milk Ocean. Rahu was brought by Nandi to Lord Shiva, and he delivered this message from Jalandhara: "I am the master of the three worlds, and you are also under my control.While Rahu was speaking, Kartikeya and Ganesha came there. At this time, Lord Shiva was massaging his body with his hands. Be¬cause of this, Vasuki fell from his neck, onto the ground. Vasuki caught the mouse-carrier of Ganesh by the tail. Ganesh told Vasuki to leave the mouse alone, and so the serpent again encircled Lord Shiva's neck. Rahu continued his message: "You are always engaged in restraint and meditation and yet you are seen to lust after Parvati. How is this? Now, give that woman to me. Take your sons with you, and with your begg ing bowl, go house to house, to maintain yourself.In this way, Rahu repeated Jalandhara's message. Lord Shiva re¬mained silent and so Rahu urged Nandi to rectify his master's behavior, lest he also be defeated in battle. Nandi then questioned Lord Shiva, and after understanding his indications, he sent Rahu back to Jalandhara. After hearing from Rahu all that had transpired, Jalandhara as¬sembled his army and began to march against Lord Shiva. From within the seven oceans, the Daityas and Danavas came to assist the great demon.
Jalandhara stopped to visit his father, the Ocean. The Ocean tried to dissuade his son from fighting with Lord Shiva, but due to a great desire to possess Parvati, Jalandhara ignored the advice.Vrinda then came to her husband and said, "Why do you long for that woman? Is Parvati superior to me? Give up all thoughts of her and enjoy wtih me.Jalandhara replied, "After hearing of Parvati's beauty, my mind cannot turn back. If I am killed by Lord Shiva in battle, always remem¬ber me.The demon proceeded toward Kailash. Upon arriving, he became astonished to see the wonderful beauty of the region. Not finding Lord Shiva, however, Jalandhara questioned Shukracharya. The preceptor then explained that Lord Shiva had gone to the north, to a place that is not normally perceivable.The demon, Jalandhara, went to the north. Lord Shiva first sent Nandi to fight, on a chariot pulled by thirty-two horses, having sixteen wheels, and which was thirty yojanas long. Kartikeya and Ganesh pro¬tected the wheels. In the great battle that took place, the demon Shumbha fought with Nandi.In that conflict, Ganesh's trunk was cut off and so his mouse-carrier entered a cave. Parvati then went to her husband and said, "Ganesh is being killed by the demons, and Kartikeya is also knocked down from his chariot. O lord, please protect your two sons and your attendants. Now is the time for you to fight.Upon hearing this, Lord Shiva told Virabhadra, "Quickly make ready my bull.After warning Parvati that Jalandhara had come with evil inten¬tions toward her, Lord Shiva set out. Virabhadra, mounted upon a lion, guarded the lord's left side. When they saw Lord Shiva approach, the demons roared loudly. Soon, the demons surrounded Lord Shiva on all sides, just as the senses surround the soul.Jalandhara came to attack Lord Shiva, but he was checked by Virabhadra. At this time, Manibhadra, another of Lord Shiva's chief associates, created a massacre within the demon ranks.Upon seeing the awesome prowess of Lord Shiva's army, Jalandhara became discouraged. He thought, "I have not yet seen Parvati, about whom Narada told me so much. First, I will see her, and then I will fight with Lord Shiva.Jalandhara then instructed Shumbha to take a form similar to his, and continue fighting.Saying this, Jalandhara gave Shumbha his armor, ornaments, chariot and weapons. He then secretly went to a cave and assumed a form just resembling Lord Shiva's. His servant, Durvarana, assumed the form of Nandi. The two, disguised as Shiva and Nandi, then climbed to the peak of the mountain where Parvati was staying with her friends. Seeing her "husband", who was pierced with arrows and smeared with blood, Parvati was surprised. When she saw that in his armpits were the heads of Ganesh and Kartikeya, Parvati wept grievously. Pick¬ing up the heads of her sons, Parvati lamented greatly.
Jalandhara, in the guise of Lord Shiva, then told Parvati, "Dar¬ling, protect me now by giving me contact with your body in sexual union.Upon hearing these inappropriate words, Parvati replied, "You are speaking improperly. The wise say that sexual union should be avoided when there is grief, when there is a cause of fear, at the time of meditation, and in the vicinity of elders. How can you solicit me in this way at a time when I am very aggrieved on account of my sons' deaths?" The false Shiva replied, "Those wives who do not give sexual pleasure to their afflicted husbands surely fall down into hell. Beauti¬ful one, if you do not gratify me, I shall leave this place and give up my life. You can also go wherever you like.Upon hearing this, Parvati remained momentarily silent, being aggrieved and bewildered. At this time, Lord Vishnu, lying within the ocean, became disturbed at heart. Suddenly, His eyes became filled with! tears. Getting up from the bed of Shesha, He thought of Garuda, who immediately came and stood before Him with folded hands.Lord Vishnu said, "Suparna, go to the battlefield and see whether Jalandhara has been killed, or whether he has bewildered Lord Shiva, ^ee the condition of Parvati and then return to Me.Garuda quickly went to the battlefield. By Lord Vishnu's mercy, ">e was not subject to any kind of illusion, and so he quickly understood bat Jalandhara was masquerading as Lord Shiva.After seeing this, Garuda returned and informed Lord Vishnu of everything. He then suggested that Lord Vishnu go and kidnap Vrinda, Jalandhara's wife. Lord Vishnu dismissed Garuda, and then covered the sleeping Lakshmi with a cloth, so that He could leave undetected. Indeed, the Lord assumed another form. Shesha then came and said, "Let me go with You. Tell me, what is Your mission?Thus, Vishnu and Shesha went to the forest, in the garb of ascet¬ics, having matted hair and wearing tree bark. They constructed an ashram, and filled it with disciples and grand-disciples.Lord Vishnu then used the potency of his Maya to attract Vrinda, thus causing a great longing in her heart. That night, Vrinda saw the severed head of her husband in a dream, and it's eyes had been plucked out by a vulture. The goddess Kali held the severed head in her hand.The next morning, she called some brahmanas and explained her dream to them. The brahmanas sprinkled holy water on the queen and advised her to give them charity.Later in the day, while sitting in her palace, Vrinda was attracted by Lord Vishnu's mystic power, and thus she had to get up and enter the forest. With her friend driving the chariot, Vrinda roamed from forest to forest until she came to a fearful jungle. There, just before her, stood a demon having three feet, five arms and seven eyes. His face was like that of a lion. Covering her eyes with her hands, Vrinda trembled with fear.
The demon came and lifted up the chariot, whirling it around, so that Vrinda fell to the ground. The demon then devoured all the fe¬male mules that had pulled the chariot. After doing so, he grabbed Vrinda by the hand and said, "I have heard that your husband has been killed by Lord Shiva in battle. If you desire to live, then accept me as your husband.Upon hearing this, Vrinda practically fainted. Just then, Lord Vishnu and Shesha, in the guise of mendicants, arrived there. Lord Vishnu said to the terrified Vrinda, "Do not be afraid. We have come to protect you. Why have you come to this terrible forest?After comforting Vrinda, Lord Vishnu told the demon, "Leave this auspicious lady. By killing her, you will make the world void ot Cupid's pride.The demon angrily replied, "If you are able to, then make me let this lady go.Then, just by his angry glance, Lord Vishnu reduced that demon to ashtes. Vrinda, who was under he influence of Lord Vishnu's Maya, said, '"Who are you, that have protected me? Dear ascetic, I shall prac¬tice peenance with you in your aslram.Iord Vishnu replied, "I am Devasharman, the son of Bharadvaja.My deiar, if you desire to practice austerities with Me, then go along that pgath. My ashram is not far f"om here.While going, a fearful hunter, having loathsome features, chased Vrindai and her friend.Fiinally, after running and running, they arrived at a charming forest, ;and within was the ascetic's ashram. It was wonderful to be¬hold. Vrinda saw birds having golden bodies. In the river, which was full of rmilk, she saw golden lotuses. The trees dripped with honey. There were he:aps of sweets, here and the'e.In a small cottage, Vrinda saw a very handsome ascetic, sitting on a tiger sskin. Vrinda said, "O sage, kindly protect me from this sinful hunter.'"
Jus.t then, that wicked hunter arrived there. Being terrified, Vrinda embraced Vishnu around His neck. Lord Vishu, disguised as the ascetic, said, "By,' means of your touch, your husband's head has once again become attached to his body. Go in:o the next room.Vrimda laid down on a fine bee1, and it so happened that a person appearinjg just like Jalandhara appeared there. When Vrinda inquired about thee battle, the illusory Jalanchara explained, "Lord Shiva had cut off rmy head with His disc, but now, by dint of your prowess, I have been reviwed.Being very lusty, Vrinda happily embraced her husband and kissed him. In tlhis way, Lord Vishnu enjoyed Vrinda's loving affection. In¬deed, Lord Vishnu seemed to lose all attraction for Lakshmi, being de¬lighted by Vrinda's charm.
Them, in that forest, Vrinda expanded herself as Tulasi. After enjoying Vrinda's company for a few days, Lord Vishnu remembered His mission to help Lord Shiva. Vrinda could understand that it was not really Iher husband with whom she was enjoying amorous delights. When questioned about this, the Lord admitted, "I am Vishnu. Your husband hiad gone to fight with Shiva, hoping to take possession of Parvati, buit now he is dead. Therefore, you can remain with Me.After hearing this, Vrinda angrily replied, "Is it proper for you to kidnap the young wife of he who had bound You and then released You? How can one who is known as the master of righteousness dally with the wife of another? Since You have disguised Yourself as an as¬cetic, to delude me, it will so happen that someone else will similarly disguise himself and take away Your young wife.Having thus been cursed, Lord Vishnu suddenly disappeared. In¬deed, the bed, the ashram and everything else vanished, so that Vrinda found herself in a desolate forest. Vrinda and her friend then went to the shore of a lake, sat down in the padmasana, and performed austeri¬ties, withering their bodies.Some Apsaras then came to Vrinda and asked her to ascend to heaven. Vrinda dismissed the Apsaras, however, saying that she wanted to obtain an immortal state of being by dint of her own prowess.Later on, Vrinda gave up her body while performing austerities. Vrinda's friend burnt her body and then threw the ashes in the Ganga. In this way, Vrinda ascended to heaven. That place where she had performed austerities was Vrindavana, near Govardhana Hill.Meanwhile, after being solicited by Jalandhara, in the form of Lord Shiva, Parvati went to bathe in the Ganga. Parvati, suspecting that it was not really her husband who was seeking her embraces, then told her friend Jaya to assume her form. Parvati said, "Go to him and ascertain the truth- whether he is Lord Shiva or not. If he embraces you and kisses you, without understanding your true identity, then know for certain that it is the demon, resorting to deception.When Jaya approached, Jalandhara took her to be Parvati and so quickly embraced her. Then, after entering her, the demon ejaculated prematurely so that his genital once again became small. Jaya said, "Demon, you cannot be Rudra.You are impotent and of wicked behavior.I am not Parvati I am her friend.Saying this, Jaya assumed her real form, saying, "Due to this sin of yours, you shall be killed by Lord Shiva.Jaya then went and informed Parvati, "That one is Jalandhara,and not your husband.Being afraid, Parvati entered a lotus, and her friends became fe¬male bees.Meanwhile, Jalandhara was informed that his wife had been kid¬napped by Lord Vishnu.Hearing this, the enraged demon gave up his illusory form and proceeded to the battlefield, saying, "An intelligent man should never trust a son-in-law, living in the same house.
A wise man should dismiss him, after giving him his daughter in marriage. One should never keep a son-in-law in his house, for he will gradually take away one's wealth and wife.Durvarana said,You had come to kidnap Parvati, but instead, your young wife has been taken away by Vishnu.Jalandhara then wondered whether he should first attack Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu. Durvarana advised, "If you go to attack Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva will strike you from behind. Therefore, you should fight with Shiva first.Arriving at the battlefield, Jalandhara saw Lord Shiva, mounted upon a bull. Thereafter, the two fought fiercely, covering one another with thousands of arrows. When Virabhadra fought with Jalandhara, he was soon knocked from his chariot. Manibhadra then came and caught Jalandhara by the feet and dragged him from his chariot. Still, the demon struck Manibhadra with his foot, making him fall to the ground.Finally, seeing that his men were very afflicted by the demons, Lord Shiva came to fight with the Ocean's son. After being struck in the forehead by an arrow, Lord Shiva released a powerful shaft that penetrated Jalandhara's chest, making him fall from the chariot onto the ground. Seeing their leader unconscious, the demons wailed with grief.Regaining consciousness, Jalandhara remembered his preceptor, Shukracharya. Quickly arriving there, Shukra asked, "What should I do for you?Jalandhara honored his guru and requested, "Bring back to life all of the slain demons.Thereafter, Shukracharya sprinkled the bodies of the slain de¬mons with holy water, thus bringing them back to life. Upon seeing this, Lord Shiva made up his mind to kill Shukra. Understanding this,the preceptor of the demons came to Lord Shiva and said, "How is it that you are thinking of killing a rahmana?"
Lord Shiva then decided not to kill Shukra but instead, curb his activities by placing him in the vagina of a woman. While Lord Shiva as thinking this, a female deity manifested from his third eye.
She was naked and very fierce in appearance. Her hair was scattered and her belly was big. Her large breasts hung down and her eyes, fangs and vagina were fearful.As she awaited the lord's order, Shiva said, "Kritya, quickly put this wicked-minded guru in your vagina. Keep him there until I kill the demon, Jalandhara.Kritya then ran to Shukra and embraced him. When she put him into her vagina, the demons prepared to attack her, and so she suddenly disappeared.jalandhara once again challenged Lord Shiva so that a great carnage took place. Jalandhara then fashioned an illusory form of Jaya and sent her to Lord Shiva. Jaya said, "O lord, Parvati has been kid¬napped by the Ocean's son .In this way, Lord Shiva became dejected. Then, by means of another illusion, Jalandhara came near to Lord Shiva on his chariot, and seated by his side was Parvati. Being deceived by the enemy, Lord Shiva greatly lamented.Jalandhara then released Parvati. When Lord Shiva went to pick her up, the demon, Shumbha grabbed her and rose up into the sky. Shiva hurled a terrible spear at the demon, who then dropped the illusory Parvati so that she fell to the ground, pierced by that weapon.Upon seeing the illusory Parvati dead, Lord Shiva's grief knew no bounds, and he fainted. After regaining consciousness, he cursed the demons, saying, "Parvati will kill you.Lord Shiva lamented, "O dear one, you had given up your life at Daksha's sacrifice, but then again you were obtained by me. How are you abandoning me once more?At this time, understanding Shiva's delusion, Lord Brahma appeared there and said, "You are accepted by the sages as beyond the dualities of material existence. How then has this delusion come upon you? Now, give up the illusion created by Jalandhara. Parvati has taken shelter within a lotus. Fight, and kill your enemy.By hearing Brahma's words, Shiva's illusion was dispelled. Thereafter, he created a great slaughter among the ranks of the demons. At this, Jalandhara manifest new illusions, so that it appeared as if he had millions of arms. He then made the Earth appear as if it were decorated with many nice temples and crowded with dancing girls, more lovely than Menaka.
Upon seeing this, Lord Shiva became distracted and gave up fighting. Lord Vishnu then spoke to Shiva, urging him to give up his delusion and instead, pick up his chakra, to kill the enemy.Thus, Lord Shiva resumed fighting after assuming a fierce form. In the duel that followed, Lord Shiva struck Jalandhara on the chest with a spear. From the demons' mouth, Jvara emerged, having the head of a lion. In response, Lord Shiva made a sound like "hum", producing Sharabha.Jalandhara came and seized Nandi by the tail. Whirling him around, the demon hurled him into the sky. Jalandhara came and encircled Shiva in his arms. The demon struck Shiva violently in the chest, causing him to vomit the Sudarshana chakra.Lord Shiva angrily picked up the chakra, whose brilliance ex¬ceeded millions of suns, and then used it to cut off Jalandhara's head. Indeed, that head flew into the sky, a distance of one hundred yojanas. After coursing through the sky, as the severed head came close by, Lord Shiva used the chakra again to cut it in half.The cut head then fell upon the Himalaya mountains, and finally,entered into Shiva's existence.The trunk of Jalandhara's body continued to dance, while umerous demons sprang from it's throat. Lord Shiva repeatedly killed these demons with his chakra. At last, from the slain body of Jalandhara, the spiritual spark emerged and entered the body of Lord Shiva.
Nandi then came to Lord Shiva, carrying Parvati on his back. At this time, there was a nice discussion of the merit obtained by worship¬ing Lord Vishnu, and the excellence of Lord Krishna's devotees. Shrila Prabhupada often quoted the following verse:
aradhananam sarvesam I visnor aradhanam param
tasmat parataram devi / tadiyanam samarcanam
In the Padma Purana Lord Siva explains to his wife, Parvati, the goddess Durga, that the highest goal of life is to satisfy Lord Visnu, who can be satisfied only when His servant is satisfied. 'Of all types of worship, worship of Lord Visnu is best, and better than the worship of Lord Visnu is the worship of His devotee, the Vaisnava.Formerly, in the Krita-yuga, there was a demon named Mura. He was very fierce, and he tormented all of the demigods. Indeed, being driven out of heaven by Mura, the demigods wandered over the Earth. Finally, they approached Lord Shiva and explained to him their plight. Lord Shiva then advised the demigods to take sheter of Lord Vishnu.Thus is was that the demigods, headed by Indra, went to where Lord Vishnu was sleeping in yoga-nidra, within the Ocean of Milk. The demigods offered their prayers and asked the Lord to protect them from the demon, Mura.In response, Lord Vishnu asked, "What kind of demon is he? What is his form? What is his strength?Indra replied, "There was a great demon named Talajangha, born in the family of Brahma. His son is Mura, who is feared by all of the demigods. He has expelled us from heaven and installed another Indra, Agni, Vayu, Varuna, Sun, and Moon. Indeed, he has taken possession of everything and made the world bereft of holy places.Upon hearing this, Lord Vishnu became enraged, saying, I shall kill that wicked demon!Lord Vishnu then took the demigods and attacked Mura's city, Chandravati. Quickly, the demigods were vanquished by Mura, how¬ever. They were seen fleeing in all directions. Then, seeing Lord Vishnu, the demon said, "Wait. Wait.The Lord replied, "O demon of bad conduct, just see the power of My arms!Lord Vishnu proceeded to slaughter all of the demons, except one, Mura. Indeed, Mura fought so valiantly that, after a duel that lasted one thousand celestial years, Lord Vishnu fled to Badarikashrama. There, He entered a cave named Simhavati, and slept. Mura had followed Lord Vishnu, and so he also entered the cave. Seeing Lord Vishnu asleep there, the demon felt delighted, thinking, "Now it will be easy to kill Him.Just then, a girl manifested from Lord Vishnu's body. She was beautiful, very auspicious and she possessed divine weapons. Being very powerful, she had manifested from a portion of the Lord's bodily effulgence.She then challenged Mura and fought with him. Quickly, he was reduced to ashes, simply by her uttering the sound, "hum".
After the demon was killed, Lord Vishnu woke up. Upon seeing Mura slain, the Lord was surprised, wondering, "Who has killed my very fierce and cruel enemy? Someone has done a very heroic deed, being compassionate upon Me.The girl said, "Upon seeing how this demon was chasing You, I thought, 'He will destroy the three worlds, as Lord Vishnu sleeps.Lord Vishnu asked, "How could you kill this demon, who had defeated Me?The girl, Ekadashi, replied, "I was able to kill him by Your mercy.The Lord then said, "The demigods are delighted by your heroic act. Just tell Me what you desire and I shall fulfill it.Ekadashi said, "My Lord, if You are pleased, this is what I would like. Let those who fast on my day receive all kinds of benefit, even liberation from the vicious cycle of repeated birth and death.Lord Vishnu granted this wish, saying, "My devotees who observe the Ekadashi vow and worship me in Karttika, will certainly obtain liberation.Next, each of the twentyfive Ekadashis are described. How each can be best observed is told about, in detail. After that, there is a de¬scription of Chaturmasya. Then, there is a discussion of the one thou¬sand names of Lord Vishnu.Once, Narada Muni went to the peak of Mount Sumeru, to in¬quire from his father, Lord Brahma. Narada Muni said, "O lord of the universe, describe to me the potency of the Supreme Lord's holy names." Lord Brahma replied, "Listen, my child. In the age of Kali, wor¬ship of the Supreme Lord is primarily performed by the chanting of His holy names. Knowing all else to be temporary and therefore useless, a man who recites the names of Lord Vishnu becomes freed from all sinful reactions and ultimately, attains the Supreme Lord's abode."There is a tremendous difference between going to heaven (which entails returning to the cycle of repeated birth and death) and chant-•ng the holy names of the Lord, which ultimatley awards one salvation. There is no doubt that if even a chandala mutters, 'Rama, Rama, Rama', his mind becomes purified.The next verse is quoted and translated by Shrila Prabupada, as follows: "A similar verse is found in the Padma Purana (Uttara-khanda 72.25):"
dhyayan krte yajan yajnais I tretayam dvapare 'rcayan
yad apnoti tad apnoti / kalau sankirtya kesavam
Whatever is achieved by meditation in Satya-yuga, by the performance of sacrifice in Treta-yuga, and by the worship of Lord Krsna's lotus feet in Dvapara-yuga is obtained in the age of Kali simply by glorifying the name of Lord Kesava.Narada Muni was very pleased to hear this description of the Lord's holy names. He then asked Lord Brahma to recite the thousand names of Lord Vishnu. Lord Brahma said that he did not properly know them, and so he told Narada to approach Lord Shiva.Thus it was that Narada went to Kailash and met Lord Shiva. In the course of their conversation, Lord Shiva described to Narada how he had previously taught the thousand names of Lord Vishnu to his wife, Parvati. As Lord Shiva continued to describe his talks with Parvati, he explained how Lord Narayana had ordered him to incarnate in the Kali-yuga, for the purpose of diverting the people from the Vedic culture.Shrila Prabhupada often quoted this conversation as follows: "In this regard, it is stated in the Padma Purana that Lord Siva appeared as a brahmana in the age of Kali to preach the Mayavada philosophy, which is nothing but a type of Buddhist philosophy. It is stated in Padma Purana:
mayavadam asac-chastram / pracchannam bauddham ucyate
mayaiva vihitam devi I kalau brahmana-murtina
Lord Siva, speaking to Parvati-devi, foretold that he would spread the Mayavada philosophy in the guise of a sannyasi brahmana just to eradicate Buddhist philosophy.This sannyasi was Sripada Sankaracrya. In order to overcome the effects of Buddhist philosophy and spread Vedanta philosophy, Sripada Sankaracarya had to make some compromise with the Buddhist philosophy, and as such he preached the phi¬losophy of monism, for it was required at that time.
svagamaih kalpitais tvam ca / janan mad-vimukhan kuru
mam ca gopaya yena syat I srstir esottarottara
TRANSLATION: "[Addressing Lord Siva, the Supreme Personal ity of Godhead said:] 'Please make the general populace averse to Me by imagining your own interpretation of the Vedas. Also, cover Me in
such a way that people will take more interest in advancing material civilization just to propagate a population bereft of spiritual knowledge.
PURPORT: "This is a quotation from the Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda (62.31).After hearing the thousand names of Lord Vishnu, Parvati asked, "If I am unable to recite every day these thousand names, please tell me one name that will award me the fruit of having chanted all thou¬sand.Lord Shiva's reply is quoted by Shrila Prabhupada, as follows:
rama rameti rameti / rame rame manorame
sahasra-namabhis tulyam I rama-nama varanane
TRANSLATION: "[Lord Siva addressed his wife, Durga:] 'O Varanana, 'I chant the holy name of Rama, Rama, Rama and thus enjoy this beautiful sound. This holy name of Ramacandra is equal to one thousand holy names of Lord Visnu.
PURPORT: This is a verse from the Brhad-visnu-sahasranama-stotra in the Uttara-khanda of the Padma Purana (72.335).Once, Narada went to see Lord Krishna at Dvaraka, taking with him many flowers of the Parijata tree from the heavenly planets. The Devarshi was very respectfully received by the Lord, and offered water to wash his feet. Lord Krishna very much appreciated the offering of flowers and He distributed them to His wives, but neglected to give any to Satyabhama.At this, Satyabhama entered the sulking chamber. Lord Krishna then went and consoled His dear wife, and mentally summoned Garuda. Simply by being remembered, Garuda quickly appeared before the Lord. As Krishna and Satyabhama mounted upon Garuda, He assured her that He would take a Parijata tree from heaven and plant it in her courtyard.Thereafter, when Lord Krishna asked Indra to give Him a Parijata tree, the king of heaven refused, saying that such a request was not Proper. At this, Lord Krishna uprooted a Parijata tree and placed it upon the back of Garuda. Indra then released his thunderbolt, striking Garuda, while ordering him to put the tree back. Out of respect for that weapon, Garuda shed a single feather.Krishna returned to Dvaraka and planted the tree at Satyabhama's palace. Narada then came there and Satyabhama honored him greatly. At this time, she inquired, "O sage, kindly tell me how I can get such a tree as this, and such a husband as Krishna, in each of my future births." In reply, Narada explained, "Satyabhama, the Lord is obtained by means of the gift called tulapurusha.This gift is given by placing Krishna on one side of a scale and gifts on the other, until the weight of the Lord is matched. Thus, Satyabhama put Krishna on a scale, and then gave various articles to Narada, which she put on the other side until it equaled the Lord's weight. Narada took all these things and departed.Later, as they were conversing, Satyabhama asked Lord Krishna, "In my last life, what gift did I give, what penance did I perform, what vow did I observe, so that now, I am your dear wife? Whose daughter was I?
Lord Krishna replied, "At the end of the Krita-yuga, at a place called Mayapuri, there was a brahmana descendent of Atri named Devasharman. He was a master of the Vedas. Every day he worshiped the Sungod. He had no son, and his daughter was Gunavati. He then gave her hand in marriage to his disciple, Chandrasharman."One day, the two men went to the forest to collect wood and kusha grass. While wandering at the foot of the Himalayas, they were attacked by a demon and killed. My servants, the Vishnudutas, took them to Vaikuntha, as a result of their devotional activities."When Gunavati learned of the death of her husband and father, she lamented grievously. Thereafter, she sold all of her household ar¬ticles and began a life of penance. Being greatly devoted to Lord Vishnu, she performed two vows throughout her entire life- that of Ekadashi and that of Karttika."One day, when she was old and emaciated, Gunavati went to bathe in the Ganga. There, she saw an airplane approach, occupied by four-armed residents of Vaikuntha. In this way, she reached My su¬preme abode.Lord Krishna concluded by saying, "Your father became reborn as Satrajit, and your husband became Akrura. My dear Satyabhama, y°u are that very same Gunavati. You should know that among all the months, Karttika is the best, and among all the days, the best is Ekadashi.Satyabhama then said, "You are Time personified, and so, for You, all parts of time are equal. How then is it that Ekadashi is the best day and Karttika the best month?In reply, the Lord related this story: Formerly, there was a great demon named Shankha, the son of the Ocean. After vanquishing the demigods, Shankha drove them out of heaven and so they took shelter within a cave of Mount Meru. Still, the demon was dissatisfied because he knew that the demigods still possessed the power of Vedic mantras. Thus, he decided to steal the Vedas, so that the demigods would be bereft of all power.
Thinking that Lord Vishnu was asleep within the Ocean of Milk, Shankha went and attempted to take away the Vedas from Satyaloka. The Vedas then fearfully hid within the ocean. Thereafter, Shankha wandered throughout the ocean, looking for the Vedas, but he could not find them.Lord Brahma then took the demigods to the shelter of Lord Vishnu. They performed worship of Lord Vishnu, along with singing and musi¬cal accompaniment. In this way, Lord Vishnu got up from his yoga-nidra (mystic slumber).After the demigods fell to the ground and offered their obeisances, Lord Vishnu said, "I am pleased by your worship. Since you have awoke Me on the day of Ekadashi, this day will always be the most pleasing to Me. Men will follow your exampe, by engaging in glorifying Me with singing and dancing on this day.The Vedas are staying within the water. After killing the Ocean's son, I shall bring them back. From this time onward, may the Vedas rest within the water for the month of Karttika, every year. Those men who properly observe the vow of Karttika, will surely return to My abode after death.Once, the Supreme Lord assumed the form of a small fish and appeared in the cupped hands of the great sage, Kashyapa. Out of kind¬ness, the sage put the fish in his waterpot. The fish quickly expanded in size, however, and so the Muni put him into a well. Thereafter, he put him into a lake and then finally, into the sea. Still, the fish continued to grow. Lord Vishnu, in the form of a fish, then killed the demon, Shankha. Taking the body of the slain demon with Him, the Lord ^ent to Badari and ordered the sages residing there, "Take the Vedas out of the water, for they have fallen there. After you accomplish this, 1 shall remain at Prayaga, along with all the demigods.The sages went and lifted the Vedas out of the water, and then journeyed to Prayaga. There, they presented the Vedas to Lord Vishnu, who was seated along with Lord Brahma. The demigods then performed a orse-sacrifice, and afterwards, they requested Lord Vishnu to grant their wish: "Let this place always be the best on Earth. May it free one of all sins and grant the fulfillment of all desires.Lord Krishna gave His assent, saying that, in the future, a king of the Surya-vamsha would bring the Ganga there, uniting it with the River Yamuna. Lord Krishna said, "This place will become known as Tirtha-raja- the king of holy places.Formerly, in the city of Karavira, there lived a brahmana named Dharmadatta. He was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. Once, in the month of Karttika, he went to a temple of Lord Vishnu so that he could remain awake there all night.Late in the night, as he was collecting paraphernalia for worship¬ing the Lord, a terrible demoness came there. Here face was ghastly and her tongue hung down from her mouth. She was naked and appeared emaciated.
Panicking, Dharmadatta struck the ghost with the articles meant for worship. Thus, water with tulasi touched her body, and she heard the Lord's holy name being chanted by the brahmana. As a result, she became freed from all sinful reactions, and she remembered her past life.The demoness, Kalaha, said, "O brahmana, I had been degraded because of my past actions. What can I now do to regain an auspicious condition of life?The astonished brahmana replied, "Who are you? What did you do in your last life so as to become like this?Kalaha related the story as follows: In a city of Saurashtra was a brahmana named Bhikshu. In her last life, Kalaha was his first wife-She was very cruel and her name was also Kalaha. She never obeyed her husband, and she always quarreled with him.Because of this, Bhiksha thought of marrying a second time. Fi¬nally, Kalaha took poison, committing suicide. She was brought before Yamaraja, who then inquired from Chitragupta.Chitragupta explained, "This woman has not performed any good act at all. She used to eat very nice food, but not give any to her hus¬band. Let her be born as a cockroach in her own stool! After that, let her be born as a female pig, eating more stool.Since she always ate from the cooking pot, let her be born as a female cat who eats her own children. Because she killed her own self, let her become a ghost. After these births, she can once again have the chance to do auspicious activities.Kalaha then said to the brahmana, Dharmadatta, "Thus, I re¬mained as a ghost for five hundred years. Every day, I was oppressed by hunger and thirst. Thereafter, I entered the body of a merchant, at the confluence of the Krishna and Veni rivers in South India. But then, the servants of Lord Shiva cast me out of that body and now, I have come here.
O best of brahmanas, how can I become free from this ghostly existence?Dharmadatta said, "Although visits to holy places, gifts given in charity, and vows all give wonderful results, a ghost does not benefit by such performances. I am very sad to see your miserable condition. Therefore, I will donate to you one-half of the merit I have attained by following the Karttika vow since my childhood.
After saying this, Dharmadatta sprinkled water mixed with Tulasi on Kalaha, while chanting the holy names of the Lord. At once, she became free of her ghostly form and assumed an effulgent, divine form that was very beautiful. She then prostrated herself before the brahmana and said, "Due to your mercy, 1 have been freed from hell. You have saved me from drowning in the ocean of sin.
An airplane carrying Vishnudutas then appeared there, and Kalaha boarded it. Being astonished, Dharmadatta offered his obeisances.The Vishnudutas addressed Dharmadatta, saying, "O best of brahmanas, you have delivered this woman as a result of your having worshiped Lord Vishnu very devotedly, and by your donating the merit obtained by following the Karttika vow."Later on, you will born as King Dasharatha, in the dynasty of the Sungod. This woman will become your wife, along with two others, •or she has shared half of your merit obtained by following the Karttika vow. Lord Vishnu will then appear as your son, for the purpose of executing a mission on behalf of the demigods.When Dharmadatta asked the Vishnudhutas to describe in more detail, the benefit of worshiping Loid Vishnu, they narrated this story: Long ago, in Kantipura, there lived an emperor named Chola.Once, the king went to worship Lord Vishnu, as He slept upon Shesha-naga. Chola proceeded to worship the Lord in great opulence-offering pearls, jewels and celestial flowers. At the end, he fell to the ground like a rod, to offer obeisances.A brahmana named Vishnudasa then came there and worshiped Lord Vishnu very simply, by offering water containing Tulasi leaves and buds. Seeing how his opulent worship became covered by the water and Tulasi leaves, Chola became angry, saying, "Vishnudasa, you have covered my beautiful worship with water and Tulasi leaves. I think that you do not know what is actually devotion to the Lord.Upon hearing this, Vishnudasa also became angry and replied, "You are proud of your wealth. You do not know what is the meaning of liberation from material existence! Tell me what acts of devotion you had previously performed.Chola laughed heartily and said, "O brahmana, you are so proud, trying to teach me about devotion. What sacrifices have you performed? What charity have you given? What temples have you built? Today, I shall have direct perception of Lord Vishnu, thus ending our argument, once and for all!Chola returned to his palace. Making Mudgala the preceptor, he began preparations for a grand sacrifice in honor of Lord Vishnu. Brahmanas from all over came to attend, and they were given profuse gifts.Vishnudasa witnessed all this, while remaining at a temple of Lord Vishnu, observing the Karttika vow, maintaining a Tulasi garden, and chanting the holy names of the Lord. He worshiped the Deity very nicely, and chanted and danced in the temple. Viewing all living beings equally, Vishnudasa remembered the Lord constantly.
As Chola and Vishnudasa were thus worshiping the Lord,a long time passed. One day, after Vishudasa had cooked,someone came and took the food. being unnoticed by anyone. Being afraid of violating his vow, the brahmana did not cook again.The next day, after cooking, when Vishnudasa was about to offer the food to Lord Vishnu, again someone stole it. In this way, for seven days, the brahmana found his food to be missing. Vishnudasa won¬dered, "Who is taking my food? I cannot fast forever. Today, I will guard my food carefully.After cooking, Vishnudasa hid and waited. Then, he saw a chandala come there to steal his food. The chandala was hungry and emaciated, so that he looked like a bag of skin and bones. Upon seeing him, Vishnudasa felt compassion and so said, "Wait. Don't eat this dry food. Take some ghee.Upon hearing this, the chandala became frightened and ran away. But then, he dropped to the ground, unconscious. Vishnudasa quickly came and fanned him with his cloth. Miraculously, Vishnudasa saw that the person before him, getting up, was not a chandala, but was Lord Vishnu- holding the conch, disc, mace and lotus- having the mark of Shrivatsa on His chest, as well as the Kaustubha jeweland wearing yellow garments.Vishnudasa became stunned, so that he could not say anything or offer obeisances. The demigods, headed by Indra, then came there, and the Gandharvas sang while the Apsaras danced.After embracing Vishnudasa, the Lord took him to Vaikuntha. This was seen by Emperor Chola, who was seated in the sacrificial arena. He quickly called his preceptor, Mudgala, and said, "That brahmana, who I was competing with, has attained a four-armed form and is travelling to Vaikuntha with Lord Vishnu! What is the use of sacrifices and charity? It is devotion alone that is pleasing to Lord Vishnu!Thereafter, Chola installed his sister's son upon the throne, since he was without any son. Then, returning to the place of sacrifice, he stood before the sacred fire and offered prayers to Lord Vishnu.Sud¬denly, as all were watching, Chola jumped into the fire. At that mo¬ment, Lord Vishnu appeared within the fire and embraced Chola. The Lord then put him onto His airplane and went back to His abode, Vaikuntha.Lord Vishnu made these two devotees gatekeepers of Vaikuntha. vishnudasa became the gatekeeper, Punyashila. Chola became the gatekeeper, Sushila.
Once, Parvati said, "O lord, an eagerness to hear about Lord Krishna has arisen in me. Among all the Puranas, the Bhagavata is said to be the best, for every word contains very grave meaning. Please describe to me it's greatness in truth.Lord Shiva replied, "I shall tell you what Shaunaka Rishi for¬merly said to Suta Gosvami, at Naimisharanya.Shaunaka said, "Please narrate to us hrimad-Bhagavatam, which destroys the darkness of ignorance. In the age of Kali, men have almost come to the status of demons. How can they be purified of this afflic¬tion?Suta Gosvami said, "O best of brahmanas, I am pleased with you. In the age of Kali, there is no text superior to Shrimad-Bhagavatam. Indeed, Shrimad-Bhagavatam is non-different from Lord Krishna. Those who are pious should every day drink the nectar of Shrimad-Bhagavatam, which describes the pastimes of Lord Krishna.Once, the four Kumaras, having arrived at the banks of the river Vishala, happened to see Narada Muni sitting there, as if dejected.The Kumaras said, "Dear brother, what are you thinking about? It is not proper for you, who are always associated with transcendental bliss, to be depressed. Please tell us the cause.Narada replied, "This Earth is the best of all places, being deco¬rated with innumerable holy tirthas. I visited all of the auspicious places of pilgrimage, such as Pushkara, Shriranga, Setubandha, Kurukshetra, Prayaga and Kashi, but nowhere did 1 find happiness. Now that the Earth is afflicted by Kali- truthfulness, purity, austerity, and charity are nowhere to be found. People are selfish, miserable and full of fal¬sity. They are lazy, dull-headed and they elect atheists as their leaders." "Men attach more importance to women than other men. Brahmacharis do not even follow the regulative principles, and sannyasis are found in the big cities, enjoying life very nicely. Temples are mostly neglected, and holy dhamas are filled with low-class people."One day, I came to Vrindavana, on the banks of the Yamuna, where Lord Krishna had formerly exhibited His transcendental pas¬times. Listen to the wonderful thing I saw there. I came upon a young woman sitting, as though dejected. Two old men lay next to her, and they were unconscious. While crying, she was trying to revive them. Having seen her from the distance, I approached her out of curiosity."
When she saw me, that young lady got up and said, 'O good man, kindly relieve my anxiety. It is due to my former good deeds that I am able to see you now.Narada replied, "O good lady, who are you? Who are these two men? Please tell me the cause of your grief.The young lady said, "My name is Bhakti (Devotion) and these two are my excellent sons, Jnana (Knowledge) and Vairagya (Detach¬ment). Due to destiny, they are now suffering."O Narada, listen to my story. I was born in Dravida (South In¬dia) and raised in Karnata. For awhile I lived in Maharashtra and then spent my old age in Gujara. There, due to contact with blasphemers, I lost my strength.By good fortune, I at last reached Vrindavana, and because of this, I have regained my youth. The minds of my two sons are greatly afflicted. I cannot leave them because they are very old.Great sage, you are the knower of everything. Tell me how it is that I have become young, and my sons have become old.After thinking for a moment, Narada replied, "By introspection, I am able to understand what has happened to you. Don't worry. Lord Vishnu will take care of you."This is the age of Kali, which destroys all good qualities. Sinful men, who are dishonest and cruel, become deities in this age. The good become very afflicted with grief, while the wicked are delighted at heart. This Earth, now burdened by evil men, is no longer fit to be touched or seen. That is to say, this world is no longer a fit place for a gentleman!" "Beautiful lady, no one wants to see you or your sons in this age. Because materialistic men have abandoned you, you have become in¬firm. It is due to your contact with Vrindavana that you have become youthful once more. Thus, Vrindavana is a very wonderful place. But, these two, for want of people having interest in them, remain old.Bhakti said, "How could Maharaja Parikshit have installed this Kali? How could Lord Krishna, the friend of the distressed, ignore this impiety? Please continue speaking, for I am happy to hear your words." Narada said, "From the very day of Lord Krishna's return to His own abode, Kali has been able to exert his influence. In Kali-yuga, a man gets more religious merit by narrating the Lord's transcendental Pastimes- than by meditation, penance, or any other such practice.
This is a great fortune for common people and so the age of Kali is accepted by Lord Vishnu. This age is certainly an ocean of faults, but still you can acheive good fortune.Bhaktidevi said, "O sage, kindly advise me now as to how 1 can act for my welfare.Narada said, "Do not lament in vain. Having placed your mind in your heart, engage yourself in remembering Lord Krishna's lotus feet. In this way, you will obtain happiness."My dear Bhakti, you are more dear to the Lord than His own self. Being called by you, He will come to the houses of even low-class people. It is you alone that allows a person, in the Kali-yuga, to get freed from material existence, and thus regain his original position in the spiritual world.Long ago, in Vaikuntha, you stood before the Lord with joined hands, asking, 'What shall I do?' The Lord replied, 'Nourish My devo¬tees.' You accepted this order and so the Lord was pleased. He then awarded you Mukti as your maidservant and Jnana and Vairagya as
your sons.Later, you descended to the Earth, accompanied by your sons and maidservant. But, when the age of Kali arrived, Mukti became emaciated and so you had her return to Vaikuntha. Upon being re¬membered by you, however, she will quickly return to this world.Being ignored in this age of Kali, these two sons of yours appear old and lifeless. Still, you should give up your anxiety, for I shall think of a means for reviving them. I will arrange some means whereby you will become known in every house. If I cannot do this, then I am not Lord Krishna's servant!In this age, even sinful persons who are empowered by you be¬come fearless and in the end, go back to Godhead. Indeed, those de¬voted to you do not have to see the abode of Yamaraja, even in a dream. An evil spirit or demon is not even capable of seeing or touch¬ing those whose minds are full with devotion.The Lord is not obtained by means of austerity, Vedic knowledge or other religious acts. He is obtained by devotion alone.Bhakti was very pleased to hear Narada's words. She then asked the Devarshi to revive her two sons. Out of compassion, Narada touched them with his hand and recited the Vedas in their ears. Still, they simply opened their eyes, looked at Narada, and then went back to sleep.
Narada wondered what to do. He meditated upon Lord Govinda and then heard a divine voice: "O sage, do not be dejected. Your exer¬tion will become fruitful. Good people will come and tell you a good deed to perform, and this will revive Jnana and Vairagya.Narada was still confused, wondering what that good deed might be. Thereafter, Narada left Vrindavana and wherever he went, he ex¬plained to the brahmanas about the divine voice. Still, none of the brahmanas could help Narada. Finally, the Devarshi came to Badari, desiring to perform austerities, and there he met the four Kumaras.Narada said, "It is my great fortune to meet you here! Because you are constantly merged within the ocean of the Lord's pastimes, Old Age, the daughter of Time, does not approach you. Even though you are the most ancient, you appear like five-year-old boys."Kindly explain to me the meaning intended by the divine voice. How can Bhakti, Jnana and Vairagya attain happiness?The Kumaras replied, "Do not be anxious. There is a way that you can attain the fulfillment of your desire. The good act indicated by the divine voice is jnana-yajna, the sacrifice of knowledge. What is that sacrifice of knowledge? It is the recitation of Shrimad-Bhagavatam. That alone will give happiness to Bhakti, Jnana and Vairagya. All the sins of the age of Kali run away, being afraid of the sound of Shrimad-Bhagavatam, just as wolves run away at the sound of a lion's roar.Being delighted, Narada said, "Jnana and Vairagya did not get up, even when I recited the Vedas and Bhagavad-gita. How will they be revived by hearing Shrimad-Bhagavatam? Please remove this doubt from my mind.The Kumaras replied,The Bhagavata Purana is the essence of all the Vedas and Upanishads.The Shrimad-Bhagavatam is pure, tran¬scendental pleasure. Sweetness is present in all parts of sugarcane, but when sugar is extracted, it is pure sweetness. Similarly, Shrimad-Bhagavatam is the essence of nectar- it is the ripened fruit of the de¬sire-tree of Vedic knowledge. Although he had compiled all the other Vedic literatures, Shrila Vyasadeva was depressed. Then, only after composing Shrimad-Bhagavatam did he attain satisfaction.In great ecstasy, Narada clasped the lotus feet of the four Kumaras.
He then asked them where he should begin recitation of Shrimad-Bhagavatam. The Kumaras told Narada that he should go to Gangadvara. Indeed, they accompanied the Devarshi, and upon hearing that there would be a recitation of Shrimad-Bhgavatam, great sages from all over the universe arrived there. The demigods, situated in their airplanes, showered flowers upon the assembly.The Kumaras then said, "Shrimad-Bhagavatam contains 18,000 verses in twelve cantos. It is spoken by Shukadeva Gosvami to Maha¬raja Parikshit. As long as the narration of Shrimad-Bhagavatam does not enter the ears of a man, he, being deluded by ignorance, remains within mundane existence. The houses of those men who always recite Shrimad-Bhagavatam are holy places capable of destroying all sins. Thousands of horse-sacrifices and hundreds of Rajasuya sacrifices are not equal to a sixteenth part of the Bhagavatam."When Lord Krishna was about to leave the Earth, Uddhava ap¬proached Him and said, 'O Lord, having accomplished Your mission, You are preparing to return to Your abode. For this reason, I am very afraid of the impending separation from You. Kindly remove this fear.'" "Lord Krishna then gave Uddhava Shrimad-Bhagavatam, after investing it with His own potency.Thereafter, the Kumaras began reciting Bhagavatam, in the pres¬ence of Narada and other great sages. Immediatley, Bhakti appeared there, holding the hands of her two sons. As the sages were wondering about her identity, the Kumaras explained, "She has manifested out of the very contents of this Bhagavata Purana.Bhakti said, "Although I was perishing, you have revived me by means of this recitation of Bhagavatam.Formerly, m the city of Kohala, which was situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra river, there lived a brahmana named Atmadeva. His wife was Dhundhuli. She was born in a good family and was very beautiful, and yet she was cruel and quarrelsome. Although childless, the couple became elderly, and for this reason, they were unhappy.Previously, in the hopes of receiving a child, they had given cows, gold and cloth to the brahmanas. But, due to their past deeds, they did not receive a child.One day, feeling very depressed due to not having a child, Atmadeva left home and went to the forest. While wandering here and there, he became very hungry and thirsty, and at last, he luckily came to a lake. After drinking the water, Atmadeva sat down in the shade of a tree. A Siddha also happened to come there and drink from the lake. Atmadeva went and touched the Siddha's feet, and thereafter, the two sat and engaged in amicable conversation.Understanding that his companion was suffering from some grief, the Siddha inquired, "What is troubling you?Atmadeva replied, "I am without any children, and so I have come here to give up my miserable life. Even a cow under my care becomes barren. Even a tree planted by me gives no fruit. What is the use of my life?"
Saying this, Atmadeva broke down and cried. Being able to un¬derstand past, present and future, the Siddha said, "It will not be until seven births from this one that you will be blessed with a child. Give up your grief. Destiny is very strong!"Atmadeva said, "By dint of your prowess, grant me a son right away- otherwise, I shall give up my life!The Siddha responded, "Just think of Chitraketu. He obtained misery by trying to overstep his destiny.Still, Atmadeva persisted in his lamentation. At last, the Siddha gave him a piece of fruit, saying, "This will enable you to have a son. Give it to your wife. For one year, your wife should keep a vow of truthfulness, purity, kindness and charity, and she should only eat once in a day. If she does this, her son will be similarly pure.The Siddha departed and Atmadeva returned home. He gave his wife the fruit, and told her all that the Siddha had said.The wife, Dhundhuli, then told her friend, "If I do as the Siddha said, what kind of life will that be? I would be able to eat only a little, so that I won't have the strength to do my household chores. How could I, who am so delicate, be able to bear the pain of childbirth? What should I do?Dhundhuli's friend, for fear of offending her, smilingly replied, "You are right!Thus it came to be that Dhundhuli did not even eat the fruit. When her husband asked, "Did you eat the fruit that I gave you?", she replied, "Yes.One day, Dhundhuli's sister came to visit. After Dhundhuli explained everything to her, she said, "Don't worry. I am pregnant, and after the delivery, I shall give the baby to you. In the meantime, just pretend that you are pregnant. Why not give the fruit that was given by the Siddha to your cow, just to test it's efficacy?Dhundhuli's sister departed, and later on, after the delivery of her child, she returned. Dhundhuli then told her husband, "You have re¬ceived a son!Atmadeva performed the birth ceremony, and gave gifts to the brahmanas. In his house, there were the auspicious sounds of sining and musical instruments. Dhundhuli then told him, "There is no milk in my breasts. How shall I nourish the child? My sister also recently had a baby, but it died. Let her stay here and breast-feed my son.
Atmadeva agreed to this arrangement. The mother named the child, Dhundhukari. After three months, the cow gave birth to a beau¬tiful human son, having a golden lustre. Atmadeva was very pleased, and whoever came to see the cow's son was amazed.Nobody knew the secret, however. Because the boy had ears like that of a cow, he was named Gokarna. When they grew up, Dhundhukari became very wicked, whereas Gokarna became learned and wise.Dhundhukari was a theif, he was always angry, and he hated people. He used to forcibly seize children and throw them into a well. Becoming addicted to the company of prostitutes, Dhundhukari spent all of his father's money.Thus, Atmadeva lamented, "It is childless people who are happy. What is more miserable than a bad son? The Siddha was right! What should 1 now do? I shall throw myself from a cliff, drown myself or enter afire!Seeing his father so distraught, the wise Gokarna came and said, "Dear father, this temporary material existence has no intrinsic value. Who is a wife, and who is a son? What is wealth? Only a detached mendicant can experience true satisfaction. Give up these attachments. Rise above the dualities of material nature. Go and retire to the for¬est.Atmadeva said, "What should I do, while living in the forest?Give me more instructions that will free me from my bondage.Gokarna explained, "Give up identification with your temporary,material body, which is after all, just a collection of flesh and bones. Engage your mind in hearing the wonderful pastimes of the Supreme Lord, Vishnu.
Having become more than sixty years old, Atmadeva left home and went to live in the forest, in the association of Krishna conscious sages. Thus, at the end, he was able to go back home, back to Godhead. After his father left home, the wicked Dhundhukari went to his mother and threatened, "Tell me where all your wealth is. If you do not do so, I shall kill you!Being very frightened, she went out that night and fell into a well and died. Gokarna then retrieved the dead body, with the help of some neighbors. After that, Gokarna went on a tour of holy places.Dhundhukari remained at home, surrounded by prostitutes.When these low-minded women demanded that Dhundhukari provide them with nice clothes and jewelry, he could not do so, because he had squandered all of his father's money. The prostitutes told him, "If you cannot provide for us nicely, we will leave you and go live in another man's house.Being addicted to the pleasures of sensual enjoyment, Dhundhukari went out that night and stole from someone's house much clothing and jewelry. He then gave these things to the prostitutes living with him. These women thought, "He has surely obtained all this by stealing. Certainly, the king will arrest him, taking all this away. Better we kill Dhundhukari and then take this wealth and go somewhere else.
That night, the prostitutes went to Dhundhukari as he slept. Af¬ter tying strong cloth around his neck, they tried to strangle him, but he did not die. They then placed hot coals on his face, and in this way, he died. The women threw his body in a ditch.The next morning, when people asked about Dhundhukari's where¬abouts, they said, "He has gone far away. After earning much wealth, he will return. But, that will be after a long time.The Kumaras, who were narrating this story, then said, "There¬fore, a learned man should not trust women. They invariably hurt a ^an who places his faith in them, for they always search for newer and newer friends. The speech of a woman may be very sweet, thus attracting the interest of a lusty man, but her heart is as sharp as a razor. Who is actually dear to a woman?The prostitutes then went to another village. Dhundhukari be¬came a ghost and could not find happiness anywhere. Later on, under¬standing that his father had died, Gokarna performed the Shraddha ceremony at Gaya, while on pilgrimage. Thereafter, he returned to his village.One night, knowing that Gokarna was sleeping in the yard of his house, Dhundhukari came there in his fierce form. Indeed, the ghost could change his form at will, and upon seeing this, Gokarna thought, "Who is this, reduced to such a miserable condition?Feeling compassion, Gokarna said, "Who are you, that has come to frighten me? How did you become degraded to this condition? What can I do to help you?Hearing this, Dhundhukari wept. Being a ghost, however, he could not speak. Being thirsty, he made signs that he wanted to drink water. Gokarna then took water in his cupped hands and threw it on the ghost.This gave relief to Dhundhukari, who then said, "I am your brother. Due to my sinful acts, I have been reduced to this horrible condition. My mother, being terrified by me, has died. I stole money so that I could satisfy prostitutes, and still, they killed me and took everything. Because of the water sprinkled on me by you, I have somewhat re¬gained my normal condition. Please free me from my ghostly life.Gokarna replied, "I heard that you had died and so I offered pinda at Gaya. This should have been sufficient to liberate you from your miserable condition.Dhundhukari said, "Then, think of some other means for my sal¬vation.Gokarna told his brother that he would carefully consider what should be done. Dhundhukari went to live in a tree at the cremation ground. The next morning, Gokarna explained everything to a learned brahmana, who then began worshiping the Sun.
After hearing the brahmana's prayers, Surya spoke to him: "I will tell you the means for delivering Dhundhukari from his sinful life-Gokarna will liberate him by reciting Shrimad-Bhagavatam for seven
days.Gokarna then went to the banks of the River Tungabhadra and recited Shrimad-Bhgavatam to the sages there. The ghost came there,and in his invisible form, he entered a bamboo having seven knots. In this way, he also listened to the recitation of Shrimad-Bhagavatam.
At the end of the first day's recitation, a knot of the bamboo burst. At the end of the second day, another knot burst. When the seventh knot burst, the ghost attained a divine form, adorned with a flower garland and Tulasi leaves. Offering his respects to his brother, he said, "My dear Gokarna, you have so kindly freed me from my sinful condition. Such is the power of reciting hrimad-Bhagavatam! Those who live without ever hearing Shrimad-Bhagavatam, have been born simply to die, like bubbles being formed on the water and then bursting the next minute.As Dhundhukari was speaking, an effulgent airplane arrived from Vaikuntha, to take him to the Lord's supreme abode.The brahmanas inquried, "We have all been listening to the Bhagavatam. Why has only your brother gone to Vaikuntha?Gokarna said, "You should all listen to the Bhagavatam for a week, while observing a fast, and with your minds concentrated upon Lord Krishna. If you do so, all of you will attain Goloka Vrindavana.The brahmanas continued to listen to the recitation of Shrimad-Bhagavatam, and at the end of a week, Lord Krishna personally ap-eared there. Being delighted, the sages offered thier prayers and obei-ances. In turn, the Lord blew upon His conchshell with great pleasure. ' t that time, many airplanes came from Vaikuntha. Lord Vishnu em-raced Gokarna, so that he immediately attained a four-armed aikuntha form. Then, by Lord Krishna's order, all the assembled sages boarded the airplanes and ascended to His eternal abode, Vaikuntha. After relating this story, the Kumaras glorified the Bhagavat-saptha, the seven day recitation of Shrimad-Bhagavatam. Narada Muni ec¬statically praised the Kumaras, and at that time, Shukadeva Gosvami arrived there. After the son of Vyasa was comfortably seated, Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva with Parvati, and Lord Brahma also arrived, just to see him. The demigods, with Indra at their head, also arrived in their celestial airplanes, crowding the sky.A great kirtana commenced, with Prahlada keeping time, Narada playing his vina, Indra played the tampura, and Uddhava playing the karatals. Bhakti, Jnana and Vairagya danced in the middle.Being very pleased, Lord Vishnu said, "My dear devotees, I request you to ask Me for a benediction.
The Kumaras said, "O Lord, may You always become very satis¬fied by the seven day recitation of Shrimad-Bhagavatam. This is the benediction we desire.Lord Vishnu responded, saying, "So be it" and then vanished from sight.Suta Gosvami said, "Shukadeva commenced his narration of Shrimad-Bhagavatam three hundred years after the disappearance of Lord Krishna. Gokarna had recited the Bhagavatam two hundred years after Shukadeva. Now, one thousand years have passed since the onset of Kali-yuga, and so our sacrifice has reached it's conclusion.Once, Maharaja Yudhisthira went to see Saubhari Muni. He in¬quired, "Of all the places on the River Yamuna, which is considered to be the best?Saubhari replied, "Once, the two great sages, Narada and Parvata, came to the Khandava forest, on the banks of the River Kalindi. After resting awhile, they bathed in the river. King Shibi, the son of Ushinara, was hunting in the forest nearby, and he happened to see the two sages. Having seen thousands of golden sacrificial posts there, Shibi asked, "O sages, whose sacrifice was performed here? What is the merit of this place that made him choose it, passing by such places as Kashi?"
Narada said, "Long ago, Lord Nrsimhadeva killed Hiranyakashipu and then returned the rule of heaven to Indra. At this time, Indra approached Brihaspati and said, "I wish to worship Lord Vishnu by the performance of sacrifice. Tell me where 1 should do so.Brihaspati replied, "You should go to the charming Khandava for¬est, by the side of the River Yamuna. If you truly desire your welfare, then perform sacrifices at this place.Indra went to the Khandava forest, with Brihaspati, and taking with him all of the necessary paraphernalia. At his preceptor's prompting, Indra appointed the seven great sages, the sons of Brahma, as his priests.Being pleased, Lord Vishnu appeared at that sacrificial arena, along with Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva. Indra washed their feet and sprinkled the water on his head. He then offered suitable prayers.The sages praised Indra's devotion to Lord Vishnu, advising, "Do not ask anything in return from the Lord, Then you will surely be blessed.Lord Vishnu then spoke to the king of heaven, telling him how to perform the sacrifice. He said, "At every sacrifice, you should give in charity many prasthas (a measure) of jewels. This place will thus come to be called Indraprastha.After the completion of the sacrifices, the brahmanas told Indra, "Without any desire, you have worshiped Lord Vishnu. Later on, after falling from your position, you will be born as the best of brahmanas. Then, also, you will worship Lord Vishnu. After leaving home, you will return to this very place, and leave your body here, going back home, back to Godhead.Thereafter, Indra returned to heaven, but when his religious merit became exhausted, he was born on Earth.There was a brahmana named Shivasharman. His wife was named Gunavati. Their son was formerly Indra, the king of heaven. After his religious merit had become exhausted, Indra returned to Earth, being born in this family of brahmanas, at Hastinapura.It is a fact that one reaches heaven by performing pious activities. But, when the results of those pious activities become exhausted, one must again fall down to Earth. This is nicely explained in the ninth chapter of Bhagavad-gita:
Verse 19: trai-vidya mam soma-pah puta-papa
yajnair ishtva svar-gatim prarthayante
te punyam asadya surendra-lokam
ashnanti divyan divi deva-bhogan
Those who study the Vedas and drink the soma juice, seeking the heavenly planets, worship Me indirectly. Purified of sinful reactions, they take birth on the pious, heavenly planet of Indra, where they enjoy godly delights.
Verse 20: te tarn bhuktva svarga-lokam vishalam
kshine punye martya-lokam vishanti
evam trayi-dharmam anuprapanna
gatagatam kama-kama labhante
When they have thus enjoyed vast heavenly sense pleasure and the results of their pious activities are exhausted, they return to this Mortal planet again. Thus those who seek sense enjoyment by adhering to the principles of the three Vedas achieve only repeated birth and death.After the birth of his son, Shivasharman called some astrologers. They predicted, "Your boy will be very dear to Lord Vishnu. Indeed, he will liberate your entire family. He will marry at the age of thirteen. After producing a good son, he will renounce materialistic life. Wan¬dering to the holy places, he will practice the life of an ascetic. He will die by the side of a river at Khandavavana.Upon hearing this, Shivasharman named his son Vishnusharman.After dismissing the astrologers and giving them sufficient wealth, Shivasharman thought to himself, "I am very fortunate to have a son who will be a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. And, he will die in a holy place. Who could be more fortunate than me?When his son became eight, Shivasharman had the sacred thread ceremony performed. After educating him thoroughly, he got his son married at the age of thirteen. Thereafter, when Vishnusharman re¬ceived a son, he decided to give up all kinds of sense enjoyment and travel to the holy places of pilgrimage.He approached his father and said, "I want to adopt the vanaprastha order of life. In the association of sainly persons, I shall worship Lord Vishnu. After all- wife, house, children, wealth, and friends are all perishable. They exist for some time only, like bubbles on the water, and so a wise man is not attached to them. Having studied the Vedas and produced a son, I have paid off my debt to the sages and forefathers. Now, I wish to reside in a holy place and perform devo¬tional service to Lord Vishnu.The intelligent father, remembering the words of the astrologers, replied, "Now is the time for me to accept the renounced order of life, sannyasa. Having already abandoned the objects of the senses, as if they were poison, I wish to take shelter of Lord Vishnu. Now, in my old age, my mind does not take delight in my home, just as an elephant brought from the forest does not like to be tied. Your younger brother, Susharman, will maintain the family after we leave. Your mother, be¬ing a faithful wife, would follow us, so we should go without telling anyone.Thus it was that the two left home at night while everyone else was sleeping. After wandering about, when they came to Shakraprastha, Vishnusharman saw the sacrificial posts that he himself had formely placed there as Indra. Indeed, just by seeing the sacrificial stakes, he remembered his previous life and so he told his father, "Formerly, I was Indra, the king of heaven. With a desire to please Lord Vishnu, I per¬formed sacrifices here. By my devotion, I pleased the Lord.
The sages assured me that after dying at this place in my next birth, I would go to the spiritual world.Shivasharma then said, "How can I believe that formerly you were the king of the demigods? How can I know that you really performed sacrifices here? You had never before left our house, and you were taught everything you know by me. How then could you learn about your former birth?
Vishnusharman replied, "The sages had given me the benediction that I would be able to recall the events of my last life. If you bathe here, you will also recollect your former existence.Just then, as Shivasharman was ready to plunge into the water, a tribal man came running, being chased by a lion. This man was a thief who robbed merchants. He was short, his body was black and his hair was reddish. His eyes were like those of a cat. He carried a spear in his hand, and his appearance was frightening.Upon seeing the man being chased by a lion, the father and son quickly climbed a tree, saying, "O Krishna, please save us!As the jungle man tried to climb a tree, the lion knocked him to the ground and then mounted upon him. The man pierced the lion in the belly with his spear, so that its intestines came out, full of blood. The lion smashed the man's head, so that he instantly died.Thus, both the man and the lion gave up their lives. Two celestial airplanes then appeared overhead. Due to the influence of that holy place, the Vishnudutas came for both the lion and the thief.After mounting the airplances, the lion and thief inquired, "O Vishnudutas, in our lives there was not a trace of pious activity. We were meat eaters and we were cruel. We caused fear by our very sight. JJue to what religious merit are we now seeing you?The Vishnudutas replied, "You are seeing us as the result of dying at a very holy place.Saying this, they ascended to Lord Vishnu's eternal abode. The •ather and son then got down from the tree, being highly astonished. Shivasharman said, "That robber and lion easily attained the supreme destination, which is very difficult even for brahmanas who practice severe penance! Just see the greatness of this holy place!""Just consider the great difference between Lord Brahma and that thief. And yet, Brahma will one day fall from his position, whereas the man of the jungle has gone to the Lord's eternal abode, from which having gone, one never returns to this material world." This is stated in Bhagavad-gita, as follows:
mam upetya punar janma/duhkhalayam ashashvatam
napnuvanti mahatmanah/samsiddhim paramam gatah
"After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogis in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.Shivasharman then bathed in the Yamuna, used the clay on the banks to mark his forehead with tilak, and offered nice prayers to the Lord. He then told his son, "Your words were not false, for I can re¬member the deeds of my former existence. In my last life, I was the son of a merchant named Sharabha, who lived in Kanyakubja."Sharabha became old, and yet had not gotten a son. He lamented, 'My wealth, even though it is great, is useless because I don't have a son.One day, as he was thinking like this, the sage Devala came to him. After worshiping the sage, Sharabha said, "I hope that your per¬formances are free from all obstacles. Your travelling over the surface of the Earth is of great benefit to us householders. Kindly inform me of the purpose of your arrival.Devala said, "Pious merchant, you have righteously collected much wealth. A man gets respect in the King's assembly when he possesses wealth. A householder becomes prosperous due to wealth, just as a bull becomes nourished when the grains are harvested. Relatives and friends do not leave wealthy persons, just as bees do not abandon a tree full of flowers. Without wealth, householders are reduced to feebleness, just like a lake without water in the summer."Dear merchant, there is ample wealth in your house. Why then do you appear morose? Please tell me, if it is not a secret.The merchant replied, "What should be concealed from one lite you, who are like our father? My only unhappiness is that I have no son. Now I am becoming old. I am afraid of being unable to repay my debt to my ancestors (by begetting a son). O sage, kindly tell me the means whereby I can have a son. For persons like you, nothing is im¬possible.Devala closed his eyes, as if in meditation. By dint of his intro¬spection, he could see the obstacle to Sharabha's having a child. He then said, "Previosuly, your wife had worshiped Parvati, for the purpose of having a nice son. She promised the goddess that if she became pregnant, she would perform very opulent worship in her honor.It so happened that your pious and faithful wife became preg¬nant that very month. She then informed you that she desired to per¬form very opulent worship of the goddess Gauri. You happily supplied all the requried paraphernalia and then she gave these things to her friends, saying, 'I cannot go personally to the temple because it is our family tradition that a pregnant woman should not leave the house.' Thus, your wife's friends went to the temple of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati and performed the puja as directed."And yet, the deity gave no reply to the worshipers, and indeed, she seemed displeased. When her friends informed her of this, your wife felt that it must be due to the fact that she had not gone person¬ally to the temple. She then promised the goddess that after giving birth to her child, she would go herself and offer worship.The merchant inquired, "Why was the goddess displeased? She knew very well the cause of my wife's not personally going to the temple." Devala said, "I shall tell you why the goddess was displeased, and thus destroyed the foetus. As your wife's friends returned home, after worhsiping in the temple, Vijaya had asked Gauri, "These ladies de¬voutly made offerings to you. Why then are you not pleased?
Parvati said, "O friend, I know the reason why the merchant's wife didn't come out of her house. However, the fact is that deities like nie do not accept offerings made by the hands of others. If her husband had come in her place, that would have been alright.If a lady makes a vow that she herself cannot fulfill, but her husband does so, that will fructify. Or, with the husband's permission, she could have a qualified brahmana fulfill her vow. She did not do eithar of these, however, and so I caused her to have a miscarriage. If again, the couple comes here and worships me, they will get a son." The sage, Devala, then suggested, "Sharabha, you should now worship the goddess Parvati, along with your wife. I am sure that she will become pleased in this way, and thus grant you a son.After saying this, Devala departed. Sharabha then collected the materials for performing puja, and along wtih his wife, went to the temple of goddess Chandika. After being worshiped for seven days, the deity of Parvati spoke as follows: "O merchant, I am pleased with your devotion and so 1 shall award you a son. Go now to the Khandava forest. There, you will find the excellent place called Indraprastha, which fulfills all desires. Desiring to have a son, you should bathe in the River Yamuna at that place. By bathing there, you will obtain your son, just as 1 had obtained Skanda after bathing there.Thereafter, Sharabha and his wife went to the Khandava forest and remained there for seven days. They gave cows in charity to the brahmanas, and then returned home. That month, Sharabha's wife became pregnant, and as a result, a son was born (Shivasharman, in his last life).Shivasharman continued speaking to his son, Vishnusharman: "I heard all about this from my father, when 1 was twenty years old. Then, one day, seeing me mature enough to handle the household af¬fairs, my father handed over everything to me. His mind fully attached to the lotus feet of Govinda, he said to me, 'Now I have become old and my hair is grey. In this world, everyone is bewildered by Maya, and thus does not know what is to be done and what is not to be done. But, when one's activities are dedicated to the service of the Supreme Lord, they no longer produce material reactions, just as seeds do not fructify after being burnt.'" 'Salvation is obtained when all reactions to fruitive activities are finished. For this reason, I want to give up my materialistic life and travel to the holy places of pilgrimage, performing only acts in devo¬tional service to the Lord.Shivasharman (in his last life) replied to his father, "Pleople are very critical. They will say that you left home just because you were unhappy with your worthless family. In this way, they will criticise us.Here we are living near the Ganga, which is the giver of salvation. What is the need of going somewhere else?After hearing this, Sharabha remained at home. He bathed in the Ganga three times daily. He visited those houses in which the Puranas
were being recited.
There, he heard of the greatness of Yamuna-tirtha. Then, one night, being unnoticed by others, he left home and came to the Khandava forest, on the banks of the River Yamuna.There, he engaged in devotional service to Lord Vishnu and bathed in the Yamuna three times daily.After a few months, he got a high fever and lost consciousness. For awhile, he remained in a coma. Later, when he egained conscious¬ness, he thought, "O, what misery has befallen me! My very intelligent son would help me, but he is far away. If he were to come here, I would give him the wealth that I had hidden in my house." While he was thinking in this way, a traveller came there, afflicted by rain, hunger and cold.Seeing Sharabha asleep in his cottage, the traveller offered obei¬sances and said, "O sage, why are you sleeping. The sun is about to set. This is not the right time to sleep.Sharabha, his body hot with fever, managed to reply, "O traveller, I am a merchant and my house is in Kanyakubja. Against the wishes of my family, I left home and came to this sacred place. Now I am suffer¬ing from fever. Indeed, I had almost died. I went and saw Yamaraja's abode but then came back because some portion of my life still remains. Please take me to my house. I will reward you with much wealth.Shivasharman continued speaking to his son: "Upon hearing this, the wicked-minded traveller, addicted to sensual pleasure and thus greedy for wealth, agreed to take my father home. Sharabha then gave him some gold coins, so that he could bring a palanquin.The traveller went to the city of Lavana and then returned with a palanquin and carriers. Thereafter, they set out for Kanyakubja. While going, a fierce demon, Vikata, saw them. Being oppressed by hunger, the demon grabbed the traveller by the testicles and whirled him around as he flew through the sky. He then dropped him to the ground and did the same with the palanquin carriers. The demon ate their flesh and drank blood from their testicles. When the demon came to devour Sharabha, the merchant threw water from the Yamuna upon him. In¬stantly, the demon remembered his past life, and the circumstances that caused him to become degraded.He said to Sharabha, "Who are you? From what excellent holy Place did this water come? It has the power of giving one remembrance of his past lives!"
Sharabha said, "I am a merchant from Kanyakubja. Having gone to Indraprastha, I suffered from high fever. This traveller, eaten by you, was escorting me home. This water is from the Yamuna at that place, Indraprastha. What sin did you commit so that you now have become a demon?"The demon replied, "Formerly, I was a brahmana, proficient in the Vedas. Still, I was wicked and sinful. By gambling with dice, I lost much money belonging to my father. Finally, my father kicked me out of the house.1 went to a nearby village and stayed with my friend, Devaka, who was also a brahmana. He respected me and so allowed me to re¬main comfortably in his house for a long time.Then, once, when my friend had gone away for some work, 1 forcibly raped his beautiful wife, being very afflicted by lust. That lady then took poison and died. When 1 saw this, I ran away. Upon seeing me flee, the king's officers arrested me and then cut off my head."The Yarnadutas threw me into the terrible hell called Raurava, where I was tortured for 60,000 years. After that, 1 became a demon, and have remained like this for the last one hundred years.When the demon finished speaking, Sharabha saw the traveller and palanquin carriers, having celestial bodies, situated in the sky, in airplanes. They said, "O merchant, although we died untimely, we ob¬tained divine forms due to drinking water from the River Yamuna. For this, we are highly indebted to you. Go with this demon to Indraprastha, so that you can liberate him also.Sharabha told the demon, "Quickly, let's go. But, I am too weak to walk, and there is no one but you to help me.The demon then put the merchant on his shoulders and quickly went to the Khandava forest. After bathing in the River Yamuna, they remained there. When his son, Shivasharman (in his last life), heard about his father's whereabouts, he went to see him.After offering his respects to his father and the demon, when Shivasharman bathed in the river, he remembered his past life-Shivasharman then decided to remain with his father until he recov¬ered from his fever. But, on the tenth day, Sharabha gave up his life. At that time, Lord Vishnu arrived there with Lakshmi, seated on the back of Garuda. The Lord was surrounded by all the demigods, headed by Brahma.Sharabha attained a four-armed Vaikuntha form, and Lord Vishnu had him seated upon Garuda. Shivasharman then thought, "This is truly due to the greatness of this holy place. I shall remain here through¬out my life, along with the demon, Vikata.One day thereafter, the demon saw that a cow had sunk deep into a pool of mud. He entered the mud to take her out, thinking, "There is great religious merit to be had in protecting a cow.Just then, a crocodile seized the demon, dragging him down into the water. In this way, the demon drowned. Immediately, he attained a celestial form and boarded a celestial airplane, sent by Indra.
Thus, Shivasharman (in his last life) continued to live alone at the holy place, absorbed in thoughts of Lord Vishnu.Vishnusharman then asked, "While remaining at that holy place, you at last gave up your material body. How then were you born again? This is my doubt. The traveller, the palanquin carriers and the demon all attained heaven. There is no rebirth for one who dies here.Shivasharman explained, "I will tell you the cause of my rebirth. Once, as I was engaged in meditation upon Lord Vishnu, in my cottage, Durvasa Muni came there. Being unaware of his arrival, I continued chanting the holy names of the Lord, for a long time. As Durvasa Muni stood there unwelcomed, he angrily spoke as follows: 'I am Atri's son and a partial incarnation of Lord Shiva! Still, I am being neglected by this insignificant man! For this, he must be punished!"Thinking like this, he roused me from my meditation and angrily cursed me, saying, 'What you hope to gain by your meditation, will not come into being.'"I fell at Durvasa's feet, begging forgiveness. Becoming pacified, ne assured me that I would be delivered in the near future.Shivasharman concluded his talks: "I went home and informed tny mother about the death of her husband, Sharabha. I remained at home, by the side of the Ganga, and thereafter, gave up my life when the time allotted to me became exhausted. Due to Durvasa's curse, I was then born in a family of Lord Vishnu's devotees.In this way, father and son (Shivasharman and Vishnusharman) conversed about their former lives. They remained at Indraprastha, on
the banks of the River Yamuna.Within the kingdom of Kampilya, there was a certain brahmana who was like an embodiment of Cupid. He thus attracted the hearts of all the women in that place. He was a good musician and his voice was as sweet as the cuckoo's.One day, while singing, he roamed about the city streets. Upon hearing him and seeing his handsome features, all the wives aban¬doned their household duties and went out to follow him. Indeed, being fascinated by his beautiful form, the women could not tolerate the force of lust that oppressed them.Women are fickle by nature. Even chaste ones are unable to con¬trol themselves when agitated by lust.
Upon seeing how their wives were following the brahmana, the husbands came and threatened him. They then went to their king and complained. The king called the brahmana and asked, "By what charm are you able to fascinate all the women of our city. Tell me your secret and I will give you much wealth. Otherwise, I will drive you out of my kingdom."The brahmana replied, "1 am just a beggar. I have no magic charm or herb. All the women of this place have no control over their senses. They cannot remain undisturbed after seeing a handsome man. What can I do? What is my fault?The citizens then came and said, "This brahmana has fascinated our wives. They do not stay at home. If he remains here, then we will go somewhere else. Piety, wealth and house all depend upon the wife-and a man also depends upon her. If she goes, what is our position?The wives then came before the king. They talked among them¬selves: "Our hearts become agitated upon seeing this brahmana. Let us take him by force. Only in this way shall we become satisfied.The women then grabbed the brahmana, as their husbands were watching. They said, "Quickly come to our houses and pacify our tor¬mented hearts. We cannot remain without you.The brahmana replied, "I am your son. You are all my mothers. Why have you left your homes? Go and please your husbands. When the husband is pleased, what is difficult for the wife to obtain? That woman who forsakes her husband and takes shelter of another man, becomes ridiculed in this life and then goes to hell. After suffering in hell for a long time, she enters the state of an inanimate object. After many births, she comes to the platform of animal existence. Finally, she attains the human form, as a cripple. Knowing this to be the result of your actions, turn away from lust.Upon hearing this, while looking at the faces of their husbands, the women hung their heads down in shame. Indeed, the fire of lust was extinguished by the cold water of the brahmana's words. While condemning Cupid, the women got up and returned home.In fact, the women condemned themselves and praised the brahmana. Soon thereafter, The king of Karusha attacked the kingdom of Kampilya and a great battle was fought. The king of Kampilya was killed, and the entire city was ransacked. The women took poison and died, so as to avoid being kidnapped. Because they had not atoned for their sin, they were born as female Rakshashas at Lanka and were then killed by Hanuman. After that, they became female demons in another placeTherefore, women should never resort to another lover, even in her speech or mind. Women desiring auspiciousness should never desert their husbands, even though they may be diseased, stupid, poor or blind. There was a brahmana named Vimala, living in a valley of the Himalayas. He was fully absorbed in worshiping Lord Vishnu's lotus feet. In his old age, he received a son, by the grace of Lord Vishnu, and so he named him Haridatta (given by Lord Hari). After studying from his guru, Haridatta took directly to the renounced order of life.When she learned of this, Haridatta's mother wept pitiably, say¬ing, "My dear one. how can you leave me, who am old and helpless. Fortunate was King Dasharatha, for he died in separation from his son.
The woman's friends went and informed Vimala, "Your son, Haridatta, after giving his guru his fee, has renounced the world. Due to grief, your wife has fallen to the ground, bereft of consciousness."
Vimala went and consoled his wife, saying, "Get up. Your son is very fortunate, for he has taken shelter at Lord Vishnu's lotus feet. You are also fortunate to have such a son. He will undoubtedly liberate our whole family.Vimala's wife got up and spoke as follows: "I understand very well all that you have said. For a woman, a good son is the best of holyplaces. I wish to have another son, so please approach Lord Brahma on my behalf.The brahmana, Vimala, said, "I shall go to Brahmaksetra, Prayaga." Vimala set out. After going to Haridvara, he arrived at Indraprastha, on the banks of the Yamuna. After bathed in the river he slept on the shore. As Vimala was sleeping, Lord Brahma came there. Awakening the brahmana, the lord said, "I know the desire that is hidden in your heart. There is no way to fulfill it, however, and I shall tell you the reason why.""Once, all the demigods gathered at the peak of Mount Meru, for the purpose of worshiping Lord Vishnu. Being very plesed, Lord Vishnu appeared there and asked the devas to accept a benediction."Lord Brahma continued, "I asked the Lord for the benediction that my holy place, Prayaga, give all desired objects. The Lord gave His consent and explained, 'If a man resorts to any holy place of pilgrim¬age, ignoring My aobde, Dvaraka, he will not achieve the desired fruit.' After saying this, the Lord disappeared from that place. 1 then returned to Brahmaloka.Lord Brahma advised Vimala, "Worship of the Lord at Dvaraka will give you a son." After saying this, Lord Brahma vanished from sight.Vimala bathed and then mentally offered worship to the Lord at Dvaraka. As he was thus engaged, a divine voice spoke to him: "Due to the glory of this place, you will receive a son, for the continuance of your family. Return home without delay.While returning home, Vimala met his friend, who was coming home from a tour of holy places. Vimala told him about his conversa¬tion with Lord Brahma. After hearing this, the friend was astonished. He then urged Vimala to accompany him to Dvaraka.Thus, the two set out, and in due course of time, they arrived at Dvaraka. While they were bathing, once again the divine voice spoke: "This is the holy abode of Lord Vishnu. By the grace of this place, you will obtain pure devotion to the Lord, causing you to abandon your strong infatuation with Maya."
The two said to one another, "This is certainly Lord Vishnu's mercy!"
Finally, they parted ways, while returning home. While walking along, Vimala's friend reached a place devoid of water, where the fe¬male demons mentioned previously resided. The brahmana was carry¬ing a pot full of water from Dvaraka.Upon seeing him, one demoness said to another, "There is a trav¬eller, holding a pot of water in his hand. Our hunger and thirst will at least be partially satiated. Let's eat him and drink the water from the pot.One of the female demons said, "After eating his liver, I will drink his blood.Another said, "How much meat does he have? It does not even seem enough for me.One demoness said, "I shall make a belt from his intestines." Another said, "I will play dice, after making them from his teeth." They all ran at the brahmana with their mouths wide open and arms outstretched.The brahmana, although afraid, began to protect himself by re¬citing mantras, as instructed in the Vedas. As a result, the demonesses could not approach him.They said, "Who are you? We want to offer you respect. Kindly place your feet in our hands.The brahmana said, "I am on a tour of holy places. What do you ant? If I am able to give it, I shall do so.The female demons said, "Tell us about the places you have vis-ted. Please liberate us from this terrible condition. We suffer greatly from hunger and thirst.The brahmana described in detail his pilgrim's journey, up to the point of meeting Vimala and visiting Dvaraka with him. He then sprinkled them with water from Dvaraka, which he had brought in his pot. Due to the touch of that water, the female demons remember their Past lives. Then, giving up their bodies as demonesses, they obtained celesial forms as Apsaras , while boarding an airplane that had come for them. After offering their respects to the brahmana, they departed for heaven.There was a sinful barber, named Chandaka, who lived in Koshala, °n the banks of the River Chandrabhaga. He used to steal the wealth °f others. He killed travellers and robbed them of their possessions. He was always engaged in gambling, drinking liquor, and hankering after others' wives. He broke the walls of temples and sold the stones.
Near to him lived a brahmana named Mukunda. One night, as Mukunda slept peacefully in the arms of his young wife, after having enjoyed with her, Chandaka entered his house, sword in hand, desiring to steal his jewelry and other valuable things.First, the barber stole the things in the sleeping couple's room. Then, he went to take the jewerly from their bodies. Being awakened by the thief's touch, Mukunda opened his eyes. Being afraid, however, he remained silent, and then closed his eyes. Finally, when the theif turned to depart, Mukunda got up and grabbed him from behind. The thief turned around and struck Mukunda with his sword. His stomach pierced, the brahmana cried out, "O father!, O mother!"Upon hearing these shouts, people came running. When they saw Mukunda with his intestines coming out of his body, smeared with blood, they asked, "Who has done this?"With great difficulty, Mukunda replied, "This is the result of my past deeds, done in a previous birth. Nothing else gives one pleasure or pain."While saying this, the brahmana died. His mother then came and cried, keeping the head of her son on her lap. After lamenting bitterly, she fainted. The wife then took her husband's head upon her lap. She also lameted with grief.Shortly thereafter, Mukunda's preceptor, named Vedayana, hap¬pened to arrive there. Not seeing his disciple, he inquired from a female servant. She explained, "Some thief killed my master at night and took away all his wealth. His body is lying at the top of the house. His wife and mother are weeping."Vedayana went and saw the body of his disciple. Desiring to re¬lieve his wife and mother of their grief, he explained the them the nature of the soul, and the temporary material body. He said, "Birth and death are only seen by those who think that the body is the self-One who understands the Supreme Soul, never laments for the tempo¬rary change of body."Vedayana performed the funeral ceremonies. He forbade the preg¬nant wife from entering the fire, thus following her husband. He then went to the Ganga, along with Mukunda's brother and other relatives. As the party slept that night by the side of the Ganga, a dog came
and ate their cooked food. Indeed, the dog repeatedly licked the cooking pots. Finally, being struck on the head by someone, like a henpecked husband being hit by his wife but unable to retaliate, the dog ran away.
Later on, the dog returned and took away the cloth parcel con¬taining Mukunda's ashes and bones. After tearing open the parcel, the dog threw the fleshless bones into the Ganga. As soon as this was done, Mukunda was seen, seated upon a celestial chariot. Seeing his guru and younger brother asleep, Mukunda gently awakened them. In his divine form, he offered respect to his preceptor.
Being astonished, Vedayana asked, "Mukunda, tell me the truth. After death, where did you go? What is life like there?"Mukunda said, "I shall tell you what happened after my death. When the wicked Chandaka killed me, the Yamadutas came to take me. As they dragged me along the path of heated sand, beating me with iron hammers, I felt very aggrieved. They told me, 'It is because of your offense to your preceptor that you died prematurely.' Soon, I reached Samyamani, the abode of Yamaraja.""Yamaraja then said, 'When I was appointed to this post, Lord Brahma told me, "Especially you should punish these two- one who does not support his parents, and he who offends his preceptor. Do not show any compassion to these.' Thereafter, the Yamadutas threw me into various hells. On the thirty-first day of my torment, my bones were thrown into the Ganga, and so I was delivered instantly and went to live in heaven.""The inhabitants of Yama's city cause fear to sinners but are pleasing to the pious. When I first came, I saw that even the young girls have faces like animals, with fangs. They have fat bellies and other grotesque features. But, when I became freed from all sins, I saw that these same people had divine features. Now, kindly allow me to go to the planet of Indra."Vedayana inquired, "I always remember how you served me so faithfully, from your very childhood. I cannot understand- what of¬fense did you commit?"Mukunda said, "I never disobeyed my parents. I served my mother-in-law and father-in-law like a menial servant. I never disobeyed you, either. But, I did offend the family priest. This is the long-standing rule of our family: When a son is born, the umbilical cord is cut only after a cow or something of similar value is given to the family priest. When my son was born, I foolishly did not perform this ritual. In this way, I offended our family priest. Now, please allow me to go to heaven."Vedayana asked, "By what act of religious merit did it happen that your bones were deposited in the Ganga, thus freeing you from hell?":
Mukunda said, "One evening, a brahmana came to my house. 1 welcomed him nicely, gave him sumptuous food and then offered him a bed for sleeping that night. But, that night he had a terrible fever. He could not sleep, and in the morning, he died. I performed his funeral rites and afterwards, deposited his bones and ashes in the Ganga. It is for this reason that I was similarly favored."After saying this, the brahmana ascended to heaven. Meanwhile, after Chandaka, the barber, killed Mukunda, the citi¬zens heard the news and reported the matter to the king. The king then angrily ordered his minister to bring the culprit. The king said, "A king in whose country his subjects are harrassed by thieves, and who does not protect them- surely goes to hell.The minister mounted his horse and took a hundred soldiers to Mukunda's house. He asked the relatives, "Who killed Mukunda? They replied, "Mukunda was killed by Chandaka, the barber. His young wife saw him.The minister quickly went to Chandaka's house. Going inside, he saw the barber asleep. The soldiers seized Chandaka by the hair and picked him up from his bed. Opening his eyes and saying, "What is this?" Chandaka remembered his crime and felt as if the Yamadutas had come for him.The minister took Chandaka to the king and said, "Here is the killer of the brahmana. What is your order?"The king replied, "One who dies here, by the side of the pious River Chandrabhaga, goes to heaven. Therefore, take this sinner some¬where else, so that he will go to hell.The minister then had chandalas take the barber far away and cut off his head. In his next life, Chandaka became a poisonous snake who lived in the hollow of a tree. Because of the snake's poison, the tree dried up. Indeed, the whole area eventually became barren.One day, a caravan passed that way, headed for Badari, the abode of Lord Narayana. A brahmana had joined the caravan. On his shoul¬ders he carried a wooden box containing the bones of his parents. He wanted to put his parents' remains in the Ganga.
When the caravan stopped at that barren place, the brahmana kept the box somewhere. The snake then came and opened the box with his hood. When the box was partially opened, the snake slithered inside and again closed the lid. The next morning, the caravan resumed it's journey and the brahmana picked up the box with the snake inside. After some time, the caravan reached Koshala and halted. There was a blanket around the box. Feeling cold, the brahmana removed the blanket, causing the box to open slightly. The snake then came out, and this frightened all the people. The snake slithered away, while the people threw stones at it. Indeed, hit by some stones, the snake gave up it's life. Being released from the snake body, he attained a divine form and ascended a celestial airplane.The serpent said to the people: "Formerly, 1 was a barber named Chandaka, who killed a brahmana. Due to this great sin, I became a serpent. But now, by the potency of this holy place, I have become freed.The former serpent then ascended to heaven. The brahmana put his parents' remains in the river at that place, having understood it's true glory. As soon as the bones fell into the Ganga, the parents could be seen, seated upon a celestial chariot.There once was, in the kingdom of Magadha, a truthful brahmana named Devadasa. His chaste wife was named Uttama. They had two children. The elder child was a son named Angada, and his sister was named Valaya. When they grew up, Devadasa got his children married. After Valaya went to the house of her father-in-law, Devadasa, seeing that his son had matured sufficiently, called his wife and said, "I have become old. Before I become invalid, we should do that which is for our eternal benefit. After all, family members, wealth and home are all perishable. I want to wander over the Earth, visiting all the holy places of Lord Vishnu. Indeed, I want to cast off my body in a holy place."Uttama said, "What sane person would leave aside the worship of Lord Vishnu, taking delight in this perishable mundane existence? O lord, take me with you so that I can also get freed from the cycle of repeated birth and death. Our son is now old enough to maintain the household. His wife will help him."The couple called thier son and said, "Angada, our bodies have become weak because of old age. We want to retire to a holy place, so that we can engage in Krishna consciousness without disturbance. Plac¬ing the burden of family maintenance upon your shoulders, we want to depart on a tour of holy places."The pious son replied, "Your acts will serve to liberate your entire family. I also will accompany you, acting as your servant."
Angada accompanied his parents for some distance and then was convinced by them to return home. Thereafter, while going, the brahmana, Devadasa, and his wife met a Siddha. After offering their respects, they inquired from him about his travels. The siddha replied, "I live at Kalpagrama. I am now coming from Indraprastha. There, I saw the great Siddha named Kapila, and 1 learned Sankhya philosophy from him.""Once, my preceptor went to Badari, to bathe in the River Yamuna. At that time, a wild buffalo that was oppressed by thirst also entered the water. After drinking, the buffalo remembered his past life. He quickly came out of the river and offered obeisances to my guru, Kapila. I was also present there."The buffalo said, "O best of the Siddhas, what is the name of this wonderful holy place? Just by the touch of the water, I gained recollec¬tion of my past existence!"Kapila laughed and said, "O buffalo, who were you in your last life? What did you do that made you become a disgusting animal?"The buffalo said, "Formerly, I was the king of Kalinga. Deluded by passion, I made no distinction between my wife and the wives of others. I fearlessly wandered throughout the city at night and would enter a house where 1 saw a beautiful woman. Enjoying with her as I liked, I would take the wealth from that house and then return home." "In my assembly, I would make young men fight. I would then kill the one who was defeated, after taking away all his wealth. Upon witnessing my sinful behavior, many of the citizens left the kingdom, taking up residence elsewhere."
"One day, Durvasa Muni came there. All the citizens assembled and approached him, complaining about my behavior. They said, "Res¬cue us from the misery caused by our king transgressing his limits. He steals all our wealth and has spoiled many chaste ladies. He has also killed many children.""Durvasa made up his mind that I must be punished. Naked and dirty, he entered my royal assembly. I ordered the guards, 'Stop this one, who is like a buffalo, smeared over with dust!' Then, just by uttering the syllable 'hum' Durvasa Muni reduced the guards to ashes. Seeing this, I got up to leave. The Muni cursed me, saying, 'Sinful man. Now become a buffalo in the forest.' "
"I gave up my life and took birth as a buffalo. Now, due to the pious acts that I had previously performed, I hve come to this place. Merely by the touch of the water, I have remembered my past life. Tell me, great sage, how I can become freed from this miserable existence." Kapila said, "This holy place is called Badari. Bathe here and you will become freed from the Muni's curse."
The buffalo entered the water. After bathing, when he came out of the river, Indra arrived from heaven. The king of heaven said, "Give up your buffalo body and receive a divine form, fit for residence in heaven.After ascending Airavata, the former king of Kalinga praised Kapila before going to Indraloka.The Siddha told Devadasa, "While accompanying my preceptor, I saw this wonder at Badarikashrama. In all the three worlds, there is no superior holy place. If you desire your highest welfare, go there, along with your wife."In Kurukshetra, there once lived a sinful chandala named Kalinga. He used to take young boys into the jungle and kill them, so that he could steal their gold and silver jewelry. At night, he entered houses to steal whatever he could find. He would accost travellers in the forest, robbing and killing them.Once, a caravan of merchants travelled to Kurukshetra, for the occasion of a solar eclipse. After bathng, one of the merchants pro¬ceeded toward his home, taking twenty soldiers with him. Kalinga, the chandala, followed him, hoping to steal his wealth. But, there was no chance, because the merchant was well-guarded.After going some distance, the chandala became impatient. At night, he entered the camp. One of the guards saw him, though, and grabbed his legs as he passed by. The nosie awakened the others. The chandala ran away after beating the one who had grabbed his feet. One of the soldiers then shot an arrow that pierced the fleeing Kalinga, killing him. Before dying, however, the chandala had managed to kill two of his pursuers..
Just then it was seen that the three were stationed in the sky, sitting upon excellent vehicles. Kalinga and the two soldiers said, "This Haridvara is a very auspicious holy place. We three, after dying here,
are now going to heaven."In the morning, the merchant cremated the bodies of the two slain soldiers. At that time, the two returned from heaven and said, "Because our remains were immersed in the Ganga, we have attained the abode of Brahma. Because the thief s remains stayed upon the dry land, he went to Svarga. Find his body and then throw the remains in the water, so that he will also attain Satyaloka. Good men should always act for the welfare of others."After saying this, the two former soldiers departed. The merchant looked for the thief's body, but could not find it. Thereafter, he re¬turned home.Meanwhile, in the kingdom of Vidarbha there lived a brahmana named Malava, who was highly devoted to Lord Vishnu. Once, he went to bathe in the River Godavari, taking with him a lot of gold to offer in charity to the brahmanas. While walking, he thought, "I will call for my sister's son, Pundarika, and give him half the gold. The rest 1 will give to other brahmanas."After Malava arrivied at the Godavari, Pundarika joined him. They bathed on a holy day, and then Malava gave half of his gold to Pundarika. Pundarika then gave one fourth of that gold to other brahmanas.
As Pundarika was returning home, he came upon his younger brother, Bharata, lying upon the ground, his body smeared with blood from his wounds. Crying aloud, Pundarkia asked, "What happened?
Why did you come here?"just at that time, Bharata died. Although he had committed sins, Bharata was placed upon a celestial chariot. He said, "Pundarika, due to the grace of this holy place, Pushkara, 1 am going to heaven. Let me tell you what sinful act I had performed. I used to enjoy with a prosti¬tute name Prabhavati, and I spent much money on liquor in her house. Whatever money I got by stealing, I spent in that way.""My dear brother, after you left for the Godavari, I heard that you were given a lot of gold by your uncle. I thus made up my mind to kill you and take the gold, so that I could please Prabhavati, and also gamble."
"However, as I was on my way to kill you, I met a caravan of merchants and slept with them that night. A thief came there but was caught. As he ran away, the guards chased him. I also ran after the thief, hoping to steal the wealth that he had taken from the mer¬chants. But, it so happened that one of the guards injured me, mistak¬ing me to be the thief. It is in that condition that you came and saw me."My dear brother, now I have told you my reason for coming here, and the cause of my premature death.Pundarika asked, "What pious act did you perform, so that you could die at this holy place?Bharata explained, "Once, after stealing some wealth, while re¬turning home, I saw a dead child in the market. Putting the body on my head, I went to the Ganga, performed the funeral ceremonies, burned the body, and then threw the ashes in the water. It is because of this that I have died in a holy place."Thereafter, Pundarika performed devotional service with the ex¬pectation that Lord Vishnu would come and dwell at his house, during the month of Magha. Pundarika celebrated a great festival, thinking that Lord Vishnu would come the next day. He fed two hundred brahmanas and satisfied them with nice gifts.That night, Pundarika stayed up all night, with his relatives, sing¬ing the glories of the Lord, to the accompaniment of musical instru¬ments. In the morning, he dismissed the musicians and waited for Lord Vishnu's arrival.It so happened that Lord Vishnu then came to Pundarika's house, just to fulfill the desire of His pure devotee. Pundarika quickly got up from his seat and offered his obeisances. Then, he worshiped the Lord very nicely. Afterwards, Pundarika offered prayers to the Lord. Indeed, the brahmana passed the entire month of Magha, worshiping Lord Vishnu. Finally, on the ful-moon day, he saw Garuda, who had come upon being remembered by the Lord.Lord Vishnu invited Pundarika to come with Him to Pushkara. Thus Lord Vishnu and Pundarika mounted upon Garuda and quickly travelled to that holy place. Immediately upon their arrival, a flash of light went out of Pundarika's body, along with his life-air, and entered the Lord's existence.
Meanwhile, on the bank of the River Narmada, in the city of Mahishmati, there lived a wealthy prostitute named Mohini. She was young and beautiful and very adept in the arts of singing and dancing. Being greedy for wealth, Mohini committed many sins. Indeed, she killed seven brahmanas and performed many abortions.But, as happens, old age finally overcame her. Thus her desire for sensual enjoyment declined, and she no longer hankered after the asso¬ciation of young men. And they also no longer longed for her.One night, Mohini thought to herself, "Whose wealth will this be after I am dead? My maidservants and their husbands will enjoy it, that's for sure. Better I now make good use of it."Thinking like this, Mohini made up her mind to do righteous acts. She then constructed gardens, lakes, wells and temples. She made a place where travellers would get food and water. Near to her house, she made a guesthouse where travellers could stay.She then thought, "I have become old, and still much of my wealth remains. I had better give charity to the brahmanas.The brahmanas were afraid of accepting gifts from a prostitute, however, and so Mohini finally gave her wealth to her maidservants and even strangers. In this way, she became destitute. At this time, her maidservants abandoned her and then she got a high fever. By fasting, she finally was cured. There was one remaining maidservant, named jaradgava, who served Mohini very nicely. After recovering from her disease, she ate at Jaradgava's house. She felt ashamed to do this, however. Thinking, "I had lived happily here, but now that I'm poor, life is miserable", Mohini left home and entered the forest.The thieves of the city considered, "Mohini must be carrynig a lot of wealth." Thus they attacked her in the forest. But, finding nothing of value, they left her lying there, injured. At this time, a mendicant came tbere, carrying a pot full of water from Prayaga.
Upon seeing the wounded woman, who was signaling him to give some water, the mendicant asked, "Who are you? What happened to you? Why did you come to this remote forest? Being unable to speak, Mohini simply opened her mouth, hoping to get water. At this time, she desired, "May I next become a queen.When the water from Prayaga was put into her mouth, at that very moment, she gave up her life. As a result, she was next born as the daughter of the king of Kerala. Because of her golden complexion, her father named her Hemangi. When she grew up, she became the wife of King Viravarman.Once, Queen Hemangi went to the house of her friend, Kala, the daughter of the king's minister. While there, Hemangi requested, "Show me the most wonderful thing in your house."
Kala then brought a golden box saying, "Inside is a very wonder¬ful book that has many nice pictures. Open it up and see."Hemangi opened the box and took out the book. In it, she saw wonderful pictures of Lord Vishnu's incarnations. Then, she saw a map of the universe. She saw the seven islands, surrounded by seven seas. She saw the Lokaloka mountain, dividing the light part of the universe from the dark. She then saw Bharata-varsha, and within- the Ganga, Yamuna, and numerous holy places.At this time, Hemangi remembered the acts of her former birth. Having seen Vrindavana, on the banks of the River Yamuna, and then Prayaga, she thought to herself, "I will fast until I can leave for that holy place."Hemangi quickly returned home and told her husband, Viravarman, "Formerly, I was a prostitute and committed many sins. When I became impoverished, I went to the forest and there, I was killed by robbers. As I lay wounded, a mendicant came and put water from the Ganga into my mouth. While dying, I desired to become a queen in my next life, and for this reason, I am now your wife. I want to go with you to Prayaga. I have vowed not to eat any food until that journey has be¬gun."The King asked, "How do I know that what you say is true?" Just then, a voice spoke from the sky: "O king, your wife has spoken the truth. If you go to Prayaga and bathe there, you will receive
the fulfillment of your desires.
Hearing this, the king fell to the ground to offer obeisances. Then, calling his minister, he ordered his chariot to be made ready. The king and his wife then went to Prayaga and bathed there. Just at that time, Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu arrived. The king offered his prayers and then his wife offered hers, saying, "If You favor me, who has a cruel heart, then help me to cross over this ocean of mundane existence. By the grace of this holy place, I became a queen. Now, I have seen You, who are very difficult to behold.After assuring Hemangi that she and her husband would be liber¬ated, Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu departed.Formerly, in the Krita-yuga, there was a tree called Shimshapa in Kashi. A crow had made his nest in that tree, and below, in a hollow of the tree, lived a big snake. Once, the crow's wife laid two eggs and then went somewhere. She did not come back to the nest, and so the male crow took care of the eggs.One night, there was a terrible storm, knocking down the Shimshapa tree. It so happened that when this occured, both the crow and the serpent were crushed to death. The tree, crow and snake then recieved transcendental forms and ascended to Vaikuntha.
Narada Muni was telling this story to King Shibi. The king asked, "By what religious merit were they able to reach Vaikuntha? Who were the three in their last lives?In response, Narada related the story as follows: There was a brahmana named Shravana who lived in the kingdom of Kurujangala. His wife was named Kunda, and his brother was Kurantaka.Once, Shravana ate some sweets, without having bathed. Due to that sin, he was later born as a village crow. His brother, Kurantaka was a staunch atheist. He often blasphemed the Lord. For that offense, he was later born as a deadly serpent. Shravana's wife, Kunda, shared the sins of her husband and brother-in-law. As a result, she became the Shimshapa tree.Once, while the three were returning home from another village, they saw that someone's cow had fallen into a well. Being urged by that person, the three rescued the cow from the well. It is because of this pious act that the three met with death at Kashi.
There was once a very fierce tribal man named Karkata. His wife was named Jara. She had killed her previous five husbands. She then mixed poison in a sweet, thinking to kill her sixth husband, Karkata. But it so happened that Karkata's sister informed him of this evil plan. So, Karkata decided to kill his wife instead.When he approached Kala with sword in hand, she ran away into the forest. Finally, at Gokarna, Karkata seized his wife by her hair and cut off her head. After doing this, he threw the body into the water. As a result, she next became an associate of Parvati at Kailash. Once, Parvati said to her husband, "My dear Shiva, please de¬scribe to me about devotion to Lord Vishnu, which gives salvation to all human beings. Those who attain the abode of Lord Vishnu never have to return to this material world. Please describe those acts which enable one to reach that supreme destination."Lord Mahadeva said, "O goddess, your questions indicate that you desire the welfare of all people. You are certainly blessed. I am always pleased with your good character and beauty. Lord Vishnu is the highest truth. He is the Supreme Soul and the Supreme Brahman. He is all-pervading and thus the witness of everything. He is the Supreme Lord of the created beings. He is the Lord of sacrifice.""Those devotees of Lord Vishnu, having Tulasi beads around thier necks and chanting beads made of Tulasi, who have the mark of vaishnava tilak on their forehead (Urdhvapundra, consisting of two vertical lines), quickly purify the whole world."Next, Lord Shiva explained that if one has received a mantra of Lord Vishnu from a non-vaishnava, he should again receive it from a devotee of Lord Vishnu. The following verse was often quoted by Shira Prabhupada, as follows:"A Vaisnava is already a brahmana, although a brahmana may not be a Vaisnava. The Padma Purana says:
sat-karma-nipuno vipro / mantra-tantra-visaradah
avaisnavo gurur na syad I vaisnavah sva-paco guruh
One may be a brahmana in terms of his culture and family and may be expert in Vedic knowledge (mantra-tantra-visaradah), but if he is not a Vaisnava, he cannot be a guru. This means that an expert
brahmana may not be a Vaisnava, but a Vaisnava is already a brahmana. A millionaire may very easily possess hundreds and thousands of dol¬lars, but a person with hundreds and thousands of dollars is not neces¬sarily a millionaire. Vitrasura was a perfect Vaisnava, and therefore he was also a brahmana."Lord Shiva then described to Parvati the Vedic mantra, om. This verse was also quoted by Shirla Prabhupada as follows:"As pointed out by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti, all living beings are in fact servants of the Lord. The acarya quotes the following verse from the Padma Purana to elucidate:"
a-karenocyate visnuh / srir u-karena kathyate
ma-karas tu tayor dasah / panca-vimsah prakirtitah
In the mantra om] the letter a signifies Lord Visnu, the letter u signifies the goddess Sri, and the letter m refers to their servant, who is the twenty-fifth element.' The twenty-fifth element is the jiva, the living being."Lord Shiva then said, "The creation of the material world is made possible by the external energy of the Lord, known as Avidya (igno¬rance), Prakriti (energy), Maya (illusion), Gunatrayamayi (consisting of three modes- sattva, rajas and tamas), and Sanatani (eternal energy)."On the boundary of the material nature is the Viraja river. On one side is the material nature, and on the other side is the spiritual nature, which is called Tripada-vibhuti."The verses about the Viraja river are quoted by Shrila Prabhupada as follows:
pradhana-parama-vyomnor / antare viraja nadi
vedanga-sveda-janitais I toyaih prasravita shubha
TRANSLATION: "'Between the spiritual and the material world is a body of water known as the river Viraja. This water is generated from the bodily perspiration of the Supreme Personality of Godhead,
who is known as Vedanga. Thus the river flows."
PURPORT: "This verse and the following verse are from the Padma Purana."
tasyah pare para-vyoma/ tri-pad-bhutah sanatanam
amritah shashvatah nityam / anantah paramah padam
TRANSLATION: "'Beyond the river Viraja is the spiritual na¬ture, which is indestructible, eternal, inexhaustible and unlimited. It is the supreme abode, consisting of three fourths of the Lord's opulences. It is known as paravyoma, the spiritual sky."
PURPORT: "In the spiritual sky there is neither anxiety nor fear. It is eternally existing, and it consists of three fourths of the Lord's energy. The material world is an exhibition of only one fourth of the Lord's energy. Therefore it is called eka-pad-vibhuti."This verse, describing tripad-vibhuti is also mentioned by Shrila Prabhupada in his commentary to the second canto of Shrimad-Bhagavatam, as follows:"The glories of the Lord, in the transcendental seventy-five per¬cent of the Lord's internal potency, are stated in the Padma Purana (Uttara-khanda). It is said there that those planets in the spiritual sky, which comprises the seventy-five percent expansion of the internal potency of the Lord, are far, far greater than those planets in the total universes composed of the external potency of the Lord."Lord Shiva continued, "In Lord Vishnu's highest abode, there are numerous cows, and the Lord Himself appears as a cowherd boy. That highest abode is pervaded by a golden effulgence, so that there is no need of sun, moon or electricity. In that abode, the Supreme Lord ap¬pears as a young boy, with dark complexion like the blue lotus."He has delicate lotus-like feet, His eyes are like full-blown lo¬tuses, and his lotus-like face bears a charming smile. His face is framed by dark, curly hair- which is decorated with mandara and parijata flowers.""His large shoulders are like that of a lion, and His arms are long. His broad chest is decorated with the Kaustubha jewel, which shines like millions of suns. He has a lovely navel, which is the source of the creator (Brahma). His yellow garments resemble the morning sunshine. The nails on His fingers and toes resemble moons with soothing light. Indeed, His beauty exceeds that of millions of Cupids.Repeatedly, Lord Shiva emphasizes to Parvati that Lord Vishnu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and all others are His eternal• servants. Shrila Prabhupada often quoted these verses as follows:"Shrila Jiva Gosvami also quotes another common passage, which is found in three Puranas, namely the Padma Purana, Skanda Purana and Linga Purana. It runs as follows:"
alodya sarva-shastrani/vicarya ca punah punah
idam ekam sunispannam / dhyeyo narayanam sada
By scrutinizingly reviewing all the revealed scriptures and judg¬ing them again and again, it is now concluded that Lord Narayana is the Supreme Absolute Truth, and thus He alone should be worshiped."
aradhananam sarvesam / visnor aradhanam param
tasmat parataram devi I tadiyanam samarcanam
In the Padma Purana Lord Siva explains to his wife, Parvati, the goddess Durga, that the highest goal of life is to satisfy Lord Visnu, who can be satisfied only when His servant is satisfied. 'Of all types of worship, worship of Lord Visnu is best, and better than the worship of Lord Visnu is the worship of His devotee, the Vaisnava.' "
vyamohaya caracarasya jagatas te te puranagamas
tah tarn eva hi devatah paramikah jalpantu kalpavadhi
siddhante punar eka eva bhagavan vishnuh samastagama-
vyapareshu vivecana-vyatikarah nltesu nischyate
TRANSLATION: "There are many types of Vedic literatures and supplementary Puranas. In each of them there are particular demigods who are spoken of as the chief demigods. This is just to create an illu¬sion for moving and nonmoving living entities. Let them perpetually engage in such imaginations. However, when one analytically studies all these Vedic literatures collectively, he comes to the conclusion that Lord Visnu is the one and only Supreme Personality of Godhead.
PURPORT: "This is a verse from the Padma Purana.
Parvati said, "O lord, you have told me that one should avoid talk¬ing to those people who are adverse to devotional service to Lord Vishnu. Tell me more about such people. What are their characteristics?"Lord Shiva replied, "Those who, deluded by ignorance, describe any other deity as being equal to or superior to Lord Vishnu, are said to be offenders (pashandis)."Those brahmanas who are not devotees of Lord Vishnu, should never be talked to and should never even be seen."Shilra Prabhupada often quoted a verse from this section, as follows: "Quoting the following verse from the Padma Purana, SrilaSanatana Gosvami forbids us to sing any song not sung by authorized devotees."
avaisnava-mukhodgirnam / putam hari-kathamrtam
sravanam naiva kartavyam I sarpocchistam yatha payah
The words or songs of a person not fixed in Vaisnava behavior, not strictly following the rules and regulations and chanting the Hare Krishna mantra should not be accepted by pure devotees.Parvati said, "O lord, O best of the demigods, I am asking you something very confidential. Through love for me, please explain this, for there is a doubt in my mind. The shastras condemn the wearing of skulls, applying ash to the body, and dressing in animal skins. You do all of these things and so, why are these practices condemned in shastra.7 Being a foolish woman, I am asking this. Please pardon my question." Lord Shiva said, "O goddess, I will tell you about this, but you should not speak of it to others. Long ago, there were very powerful demons who were all devoted to Lord Vishnu and thus sinless. Being fearful, Indra and the devas approached Lord Vishnu, saying, 'O Keshava, you alone can conquer these great demons, who are freed from sin by dint of their penance.' After hearing this, Lord Vishnu told me to de¬lude the enemies of the devas by imparting unto them lessons that would divert them from the Vedic path.Lord Vishnu said, "Teach these false doctines to some brahmanas, for they will spread the false ideas all over the universe. You should also wear animal skins, skulls, ashes and bones. In this way, you will fully delude the atheisitic population, leading them away from the Vedic path. They will also wear ashes and bones and describe you as the highest truth. In this way, the demons will become averse to Me, caus¬ing them to fall down. Even in My various incarnations, I will worship you, just to delude the vicious demons.Lord Shiva continued speaking to Parvati, "I felt depressed upon receiving this order but Lord Vishnu consoled me, saying, 'Installing Me Within your heart, constantly chant My glories. In this way, all the inauspiciousness created by your wearing bones and smearing your body with ashes will be destroyed.' After saying this, Lord Vishnu dismissed all the demigods."O Devi, I have told you all that you asked, what else would you like to hear?"
Parvati inquired further about Lord Shiva's sometimes confusing activities. One very important mission of Lord Shiva is here explained, and these verses were quoted by Shrila Prabhupada many times, for they indicate the appearance of Shankaracharya, who seemed to preach impersonalism. Shrila Prabhupada writes:"In this regard, it is stated in the Padma Purana that Lord Siva appeared as a brahmana in the age of Kali to preach the Mayavada philosophy, which is nothing but a type of Buddhist philosophy. It is stated in Padma Purana:
mayavadam asac-chastram I pracchannam bauddham ucyate
mayaiva vihitam devi I kalau brahmana-murtina
Lord Siva, speaking to Parvati-devi, foretold that he would spread the Mayavada philosophy in the guise of a sannyasi brahmana just to eradicate Buddhist philosophy. This sannyasi was Sripada Sankaracrya. In order to overcome the effects of Buddhist philosophy and spread Vedanta philosophy, Sripada Sankaracarya had to make some compro¬mise with the Buddhist philosophy, and as such he preached the phi¬losophy of monism, for it was required at that time."svagamaih kalpitais tvam ca I janan mad-vimukhan kuru mam ca gopaya yena syat I srstir esottarottara TRANSLATION: "[Addressing Lord Siva, the Supreme Personal¬ity of Godhead said:] 'Please make the general populace averse to Me by imagining your own interpretation of the Vedas. Also, cover Me in such a way that people will take more interest in advancing material civilization just to propagate a population bereft of spiritual knowl¬edge.
PURPORT: "This is a quotation from the Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda (62.31).
Lord Shiva said, "In this way, I try to show that the Vedic texts are mengingless. I preach that the only true religion is to give up one soccupational duty and become inactive. In this philosophy, I proclaim that the Supreme Soul and the individual souls are one and the same. I define Brahman as being qualitiless. By propounding this philosophy, I delude people in the age of Kali."By my order, Jaimini taught Mimamsa, Gautama propounded Nyaya, Kapila taught Samkhya, and Charvaka expounded atheism. Know that all these vicious doctrines have sprung from me.Thereafter, the pastimes of the Lord in His various incarnations are narrated. Because these pastimes of Matsya-avatara, Varaha-avatara, Nrisimhadeva and Lord Ramachandra are nicely described in Shrimad-Bhagavatam and Ramayana, I will not repeat them here.In his Shri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Shrila Prabhupada quotes from Padma Purana about the incarnations of Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shattughna as follows:
"The Padma Purana describes that Ramacandra is Narayana and that Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna are respectively Shesha, Chakra and Shankha (the conchshell in the hand of Narayana).After hearing from her husband at great length about the pas¬times of Lord Ramachandra, Parvati said, "O lord, you have very well told the story of Lord Rama. Having heard it, by your grace, I am very happy. Now, I desire to hear that great narration which destroys all sins- the pastimes of Lord Krishna, the son of Vasudeva.Lord Shiva responded with the following narration: In the Yadu dynasty was born Vasudeva, the son of Devamidha. He was the best among the knowers of dharma. Vasudeva married Devaki, the daughter of Devaka, who was Ugrasena's brother. Kansa was the very powerful son of Ugrasena.While Kansa was driving his cousin-sister and her husband in his chariot, on the day of their marriage, a voice from the sky announced, "Kansa, your sister's eighth child will kill you!"
Kansa immediately prepared to kill Devaki, but Vasudeva con¬vinced him to desist, promising to deliver their children, so that he could do as he wished with them.Kansa then arrested Vasudeva and Devaki and meanwhile, the Earth went to see Lord Brahma. She complained, "I cannot support the burden of demons upon my surfface. Previously, I was able to support People because of their good practices. Now, however, all men are deriving their strength from unrighteousness. For this reason, I can no longer support the world."
After hearing this, Lord Brahma took the demigods to the shore of the Milk Ocean. Lord Brahma pleased the Lord by his prayers, and so He asked, "O devas, for what purpose have you come here?"
Lord Brahma explained how the Earth was oppressed by uncon¬querable demons. Lord Vishnu then said, "Descending in the family of Yadus, I shall remove the burden of the Earth.After the departure of the demigods, Lord Vishnu said to Yogamaya, "Taking the six sons of Hiranyaksha, place them in the womb of Devaki, the wife of Vasudeva. The seventh child of Devaki will be Shesha. You must transer Him into the womb of Rohini, her co-wife. After that, I will appear as Devaki's eighth child. At that time, your expansion, Mahanidra, will be born to Yashoda, the wife of Nanda.Thereafter, Mahamaya put the sons of Hiranyaksha into Devaki's womb, one by one. Kansa killed them as soon as they were born. The seventh embryo was a portion of Shesha, and Yogamaya transferred Him to the womb of Rohini. He was born as Sankarshana. Then, Lord Vishnu appeared as the eighth child of Devaki.At the request of Vasudeva, Lord Vishnu withdrew His four-armed form and appeared as a two-armed baby. Being deluded by maya, all the guards were fast asleep. Vasudeva took the baby out of Mathura and, because it was raining heavily, Lord Ananta covered him with His thousands of hoods. Miraculously, the raging River Yamuna became calm and shallow when Vasudeva entered her water.Vasudeva went to the house of Nanda in Vraja and replaced the daughter born to Yashoda with his son. Taking the baby girl, he re¬turned to Mathura. Later, the guards informed Kansa about the child's birth, and so he quickly came and seized the girl, throwing her down upon the stone floor. And yet, the girl rose up into the sky, after placing her foot on Kansa's head, where she appeared as the eight-armed god¬dess, Durga.The goddess said, "Dull-headed Kansa, why did you try to kill me? He who will kill you has alreadly been born elsewhere."After saying this, the goddess departed. Kansa felt depressed and so he called for his demon associates and ordered them to kill all chil¬dren that were recently born. He then freed Vasudeva and Devaki.
Vasudeva then went and delivered his son, Balarama, to Nanda's care. He said to Yashoda, "Mother, please protect Him as your own son, this son of mine born from Rohini. I am afraid of Kansa."
Later on, Gargamuni came and performed the birth ceremonies for Krishna and Balarama. Then, at night, Kansa sent Putana, the killer of many children. She smeard her breast with poison, hoping to kill Krishna, but the Lord sucked out her milk and her very life as well. Thus, Putana fell down dead, making a loud crashing sound. The cow¬herd men and women were relieved to see baby Krishna playing upon her breast.After Krishna had killed numerous demons, and delivered the twin Arjuna trees, the cowherds thought it best to move to the forest of Vrindavana, on the banks of the River Yamuna.When Krishna and Balarama grew up a little, They were given charge of the calves. At that time, the demon, Baka, in the form of a great bird, came to kill Krishna. However, the demon was killed by Krishna. Then once, Lord Brahma came and saw that Krishna and Balarama were sleeping, and so he took away Their cows, calves and friends When Krishna awoke, He understood that this was the work of Brahma, and so He created duplicate boys, cows and calves. Thus, for one year, these expansions of Lord Krishna were accepted by the cow¬herds and cows as their children. Lord Brahma then came and fearfully prayed to Krishna, saying, "It was a great offense that I stole Your cows. O You, who are affectionate to those who take shelter of You, please forgive me.Thereafter, Krishna subdued the serpent, Kaliya, and then killed numerous other demons, including Keshi and Dhenukasura.Upon seeing the spledorous beauty of Krishna, all of the cowherd girls became attracted. Shrila Prabhupada quotes the next verse, in Shrimad-Bhagavatam, tenth canto:"We find evidence for this in the Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda:
drstva ramam harim tatra / bhoktum aicchan su-vigraham
te sarve stritvam apannah / samudbhutas ca gokule
harih samprapya kamena I tato mukta bhavarnavat
This verse says that upon seeing Lord Ramacandra, the sages in the Dandaka forest desired to enjoy Lord Hari (Krishna). In other words, the sight of Lord Rama's beauty reminded them of Lord Hari, Gopala, their personal object of worship, and they then wanted to enjoy with Him. But out of embarrassment they did not act on that desire, where¬upon Lord Sri Rama, who is like a desire tree, gave His mercy to them, even though they had not voiced their request. Thus their desire was fulfilled, as stated by the words beginning te sarve. By means of their lusty attraction they became freed from the ocean of material exist¬ence, the cycle of birth and death, and coincidentally they got the association of Hari in conjugal love.After hearing the sound of Krishna's flute at night, the gopis (wives of the cowherd men) got up from their beds and left their husbands, sons and other relatives, as well as the sense of shame, and came to see the Lord. Approaching Krishna, the gopis embraced Him and enjoyed kissing Him.Parvati inquried, "How is it that Janardana, who descends upon the Earth for the protection of dharma, enjoys with others' wives?Lord Shiva replied, "Lord Krishna does not distinguish between His own body and the bodies of others, because the entire creation is His body! Indeed, there is nothing in existence that is separate from Lord Krishna."Thereafter, Lord Krishna lifted Govardhana Hill. Narada Muni then went to see King Kansa at Mathura. Being honored by him, Narada proceeded to disclose everything about Lord Krisha's appearance in Vrindavana. Thereafter, Narada Muni returned to Brahmaloka.After deliberating over the matter for some time, Kansa sent Akrura to Vrindavana, to summon Krishna and Balarama. When Akrura came to Vrindavana, he saw Lord Krishna, surrounded by the gopis. He then went and placed Lord Krishna's lotus feet upon his head.Akrura then saw Lord Balarama, and offered Him obeisances. Krishna and Balarama embraced Akrura and took him to Their home. Akrura said, "Kansa hopes to kill Krishna and Balarama by means of intoxicated elephants or wrestlers. He has imprisoned Vasudeva and Devaki. The king has invited all the cowherd men of Vraja to attend his great festival tomorrow. There is no doubt in my mind that the wicked Kansa will be killed by Krishna."
The next morning, Akrura put Krishna and Balarama on his chariot and started for Mathura. Later in the day, while bathing in the River Yamuna, Akrura saw Krishna and Balarama in the water. Then, after coming out of the river, the astonished Akrura saw Them again seated upon the chariot, as before.Upon arriving at Mathura, Akrura left Krishna and Balarama at the gate, and then went to inform the king of Their arrival. In the evening, Krishna and Balarama entered Mathura. There, they met a washerman, carrying garments for the king. When They requested the washerman to give them some clothes, he refused. Krishna struck the washerman with the palm of His hand and then He and Balarama took whatever garments They desired.When Krishna and Balarama came to the house of a flowerman, that fortunate devotee offered the Lords his best garlands. Later, as They were walking, Krishna and Balarama met a hunchbacked girl carrying sandalwood paste for the king. When They asked for the san¬dalwood, the girl smilingly offered it. For this, she was rewarded with a most beautiful body.Upon coming to the sacrificial arena, Lord Krishna saw the deco¬rated celestial bow. Easily, He picked it up, and while stinging it, He broke it into two. Upon seeing this, Kansa became very perturbed. He then instructed his best wrestlers to kill Krishna and Balarama, the next morning. He put intoxicated elephants at all the gates.Krishna and Balarama spent the night in the sacrificial arena. At the gate to Kansa's palace, Krishna saw the elephant, Kuvalayapida. He went there and challenged the elephant. While fighting, Krishna grabbed him by the trunk, whilred him around and threw him to the ground, forcing him to give up his life. Krishna and Balarama pulled out the elephant's tusks, and then entered the arena to fight with the wrestlers. Thereafter, at Kansa's urging, Chanura fought with Krishna and Mushtika fought with Balarama. After a long duel, Krishna crushed Chanura's body, making him renounce his life. Then,Balarama struck Mushtika in the chest with His fists, breaking his ribs and making him fall down dead.Seeing this, Kansa became very frightened. Krishna and Balarama then jumped onto the king's dias. With a kick, Krishna knocked Kansa to the ground. Krishna then killed His maternal uncle with His fists,while Balarama killed Kansa's younger brother, Sunaman.Krishna and Balarama then approached Their parents, Vasudeva and Devaki, who repeatedly embraced Them. Krishna then freed His maternal grandfather, Ugrasena, from prison, and installed him as the ruler at Mathura.
Vasudeva had the sacred thread ceremony for Krishna and Balarama performed by Gargamuni. Thereafter, They went to live at the ashram of Sandipani Muni. After studying from Their preceptor, Krishna and Balarama remunerated him by bringing back to life his dead son- and then They returned to Mathura.Thereafter, Kansa's father-in-law, Jarasandha, attacked Mathura, desiring revenge. Upon being remembered by the Lord, Daruka arrived with His chariot, named Sugrivapushpaka, which was drawn by four horses. These horses are mentioned here, as quoted by Shrila Prabhupada as follows:
"Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti quotes the following text of the Padma Purana describing Lord Krsna's chariot horses:
saibyas tu suka-patrabhah I sugrivo hema-pingalah
meghapuspas tu meghabhah / panduro hi balahakah
Saibya was green like a parrot's wings, Sugriva yellow-gold, Meghapuspa the color of a cloud, and Balahaka whitish.In a short while, Lord Krishna killed Jarasandha's entire army. A fierce duel was then fought between Balarama and Jarasandha. When Balarama smashed Jarasandha's chariot and then was ready to kill him, Lord Krishna came and told Him not to do so. Lord Balarama thus let Jarasandha go.Later, when Jarasandha described to Kalayavana the prowess of Lord Krishna, the barbarian came to attack Mathura, along with mil¬lions of Mlecchas. Thinking of the welfare of the citizens, Krishna asked the Ocean for some land, and thus Dvaraka was created. The next verses were quoted by Shrila Prabhupada, as follows:"Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti quotes the following verses from Sri Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda, to describe how Lord Krsna trans¬ferred the citizens from Mathura to Dvaraka:"
suauptan mathurayan tu I paurams tatra janardanah
uddhrtya sahasa ratrau j dvarakayam nyavesayat
prabuddhas te janah sarve / putra-dara-samanvitah
haima-harmya-tale vista / vismayam paramam yayuh
In the middle of the night, as the citizens of Mathura slept, Lord Janardana suddenly removed them from that city and placed them in Dvaraka. When the men awoke, they were all amazed to find them¬selves, their children and their wives sitting inside palaces made of gold.Krishna and Balarama came out of the city to fight with Kalayavana. Upon seeing his army being slaughtered, Kalayavana rushed at Krishna, weilding his mace. Seeing him, Krishna left the battlefield, while Kalayavana followed, calling out, "Wait, wait".Lord Krishna then entered a cave, wherein Muchukunda was sleep¬ing. Seeing this king, Kalayavana mistook him for Krishna and so kicked him harshly. Muchukunda awoke and his angry glance burnt Kalayavana to ashes.King Muchukunda then saw Lord Krishna before him, and thus felt as if the goal of his life had been achieved. Lord Krishna went out of the cave, and thereafter, Jarasandha returned home, considering Krishna and Balarama to be unconquerable.After returning to Dvaraka, Balarama married Revati, and Krishna kidnapped Rukmini. After returning to Dvaraka, Krishna and Rukmini were married with great pomp. Nanda and Yashoda, along with many other cowherds, attended.Thereafter, Krishna married other wives. Satyabhama was an expansion of the Earth. Kalindi was the daughter of the Sun.There was a king named Satrajit, who possessed the Shyamantaka jewel, which produced a large quantity of gold, daily. Once, Lord Krishna went hunting in the forest with many of the Yadus, including Satrajit's younger brother, Prasena. Prasena wore the Shyamantaka jewel around his neck. He went off alone and was killed by a lion. The lion was then killed by Jambavan, who took the jewel and entered a cave.Later, when Lord Krishna returned to Dvaraka, a rumor quickly spread that Krishna had killed Prasena, so that he could take the Shyamantaka jewel. In fact, previously, the Lord had asked Prasena to give Him the jewel. Prasena had refused and had spoken very rudely at that time. Thus, the citizens thought that Krishnahad used hunting as an excuse to lure Prasena into the forest and kill him.
After hearing about this rumor, Krishna took the citizens into the forest and showed them how Prasena had been killed by a lion. Krishna then entered Jambavan's cave and saw that a maidservant had placed his son on a swing, while the child was playing with the gem.Lord Krishna blew His conchshell and Jambavan came out of his house. For ten days and nights, the two fought a fierce battle. When Jambavan tired, he could understand that his opponent was none other than his master, Lord Ramachandra, again appearing for the protec¬tion of dharma.Jambavan then gave Krishna the Shyamantaka jewel, as well as h;s daughter, Jambavati. After returning to Dvaraka, Krishna returned the Shyamantaka jewel to Satrajit.Thereafter, Lord Krishna married the three daughters of the king of Madra- named Sulakshmana, Nagnajiti, and Sushila.There was a powerful demon named Naraka, who was the son of the Earth. He forcibly stole Aditi's earrings, as well as Airavata, Ucchaihshravas, and many celestial girls. The demigods fearfully took refuge of Lord Krishna. The Lord then mounted Garuda, along with Satyabhama, and went to Naraka's abode.There was a fierce battle in which many demons were killed. Krishna blew His conchshell, the Panchajanya, and so Naraka came out to fight, mounted upon his chariot. After a tremendous duel, Krishna struck Naraka in the chest with His arrow, making him fall to the ground, fatally wounded.Krishna approached Naraka and requested him to take a benedic¬tion. Naraka replied, "O Lord of all beings, who removes all fear from His devotees, may it be that those who bathe at a sacred place, on this day of my death, will not have to enter hell."The Lord consented and then Narakasura gave up his life. Krishna returned to Indra his mother's earrings- as well as the elephant, Airavata, and the horse, Ucchaihshravas.Naraka had kidnapped 16,000 girls after conquering various kings of the earth. He kept all of them locked up in his palace. When these girls saw Lord Krishna, they accepted Him as their husband.One day thereafter, while mounted upon Garuda, Krishna and Satyabhama went to heaven, to see Aditi. At this time, Satyabhama went to see Indra's wife, Shachi. While they were conversing, Shachi's maidservants brought Satyabhama some Parijata flowers. Indra's wife tied all the flowers in her hair, thus neglecting Satyabhama.Indeed, she thought, "This human female does not deserve these auspicious flowers, which are only fit for the devas.
When Krishna and Satyabhama were leaving, Satyabhama an¬grily told Him what had happened. Upon hearing this, Krishna up¬rooted a Parijata tree, placed it upon Garuda's back, and started the return journey to Dvaraka. When he heard about what had happened, Indra angrily mounted upon Airavata and, accompanied by the demi¬gods, set out to fight with Krishna.In the battle that ensued, Indra released his thunderbolt, hoping to kill Krishna. But, Krishna easily caught the thunderbolt with one hand. Upon seeing this wonderful feat, Indra fearfully got down from Airavata and surrendered to the Lord.Indra said, "This tree is meant for the demigods. How can it stay in the world of humans?"Lord Krishna said, "Your wife should have offered Satyabhama some of the flowers. Because she did not do so, My wife was insulted. Now, I have promised Satyabhama that I will plant this tree at her palace. When I return to My eternal abode, after completing My pas¬times in this world, you can take the Parijata tree back to heaven." While saying this, Krishna returned the thunderbolt to Indra. Krishna and Rukmini's son was Pradyumna, an expansion of Cupid. Pradyumna married Rukmi's daughter, and their son was Aniruddha. Aniruddha married Bana's daughter, Usha.King Paundraka Vasudeva, of Kashi, had performed austerities while worshiping Lord Shiva. Being pleased, Mahadeva offered Paundraka a benediction. The king said, "I would like to have a form similar to that of Lord Krishna.Thus it so happened that Paundraka came to have four arms-holding a conch, disc, club and lotus flower. His bodily beauty also resembled Lord Krishna's. In fact, Paundraka had asked Lord Shiva to give him the Kaustubha jewel, and the lord had granted his wish. Thus, it came to be that Paundraka deluded people saying, "I am Vasudeva." Once, Narada Muni came to see the proud and haughty king, saying, "You cannot be accepted as being on a level with Krishna unless you defeat Him in battle."
After hearing this, Paundraka mounted a chariot having a flag of Garuda, and travelled to Dvaraka with a large army. Upon reaching Dvarka, Paundraka sent a message to Lord Krishna: "I, Vasudeva, am waiting in my golden chariot outside the city gate. I have come to fight with You. Without conquering me, you cannot claim to be the real Vasudeva.Krishna quickly mounted upon Garuda and came out to fight. After destroying Paundraka's army, Krishna cut off his four symbols with just one arrow each. Then, with His Sudarshana chakra, Krishna cut off Paundraka's head, making it fall into the city of Kashi.
Being instructed by his mother- Paundraka's son, Dandapani, per¬formed a sacrifice for the satisfaction of Mahadeva. Being pleased, Lord Shiva gave Dandapani a female demon named Kritya. Her body appeared to be full of flames, she had a blazing mass of hair, and her face was effulgent and fierce. She carried a trident in her hand, her bdoy was smeared with ashes, and she was decorated with a garland of human heads.Being ordered by Lord Shiva, Kritya rushed toward Dvaraka, caus¬ing great fear to all beings. This was reported to Krishna and so He invoked His Sudarshana chakra. Kritya saw the chakra coming, and it reduced her own effulgence to nil. While crying aloud, she quickly re¬turned to Varanasi (Kashi). Sudarshana, following close behind, then reduced Dandapani to a pile of ashes, as well as the entire city of Kashi. After this, the Sudarshana chakra returned to Lord Krishna's hands.Thereafter, Krishna, Bhima and Arjuna disguised themselves as brahmanas and went to see Jarasandha. Thus, Bhima and Jarasandha fought for twenty-five days. Finally, at Krishna's prompting, Bhima split Jarasandha's body into two parts.Maharaja Yudhisthira then performed the Rajasuya sacrifice. At this time, Sishupala was killed by Lord Krishna. When Dantavakra heard that his brother's head had been severed by Krishna's Sudarshana chakra, he came to Mathura to fight with the Lord. Learning of this, Krishna mounted His chariot and went to Mathura. There, on the bank of the River Yamuna, the two fought for a day and night. Finally, Krishna killed Dantavakra with His mace.
Krishna then crossed the Yamuna and went to console His old parents. While there, the Lord constantly enjoyed pastimes with the gopis. Indeed, He remained at Vrindavana for a couple of months. At that time, all of the cowherd men, headed by Nanda, as well as their children and wives, and even the animals and birds, attained divine forms and returned home, back to Godhead.Krishna then returned to Dvaraka. At this time, Sudama Vipra came to visit Krishna, bringing with him a palmful of chipped flatrice. When the Lord ate the rice, Sudama, although very poor, immediately became enriched with all kinds of opulence.While leaving Dvaraka, Sudama thought, "I didn't receive even a small piece of cloth from the Lord."But, when he entered his village, he saw that it had been trans¬formed into Vaikuntha.Meanwhile, Duryodhana cheated Yudhisthira at gambling and thus the Pandavas were exiled to the forest. After spending twelve years in the forest, and one more year at the kingdom of Virata, incognito, the Pandavas fought a great war with the Kauravas at Kurukshetra.Lord Krishna, while acting as Arjuna's charioteer, caused all of the opposing warriors to be killed, thus enabling Yudhisthira to regain his kingdom. After thus removing the burden of the Earth, Lord Krishna returned to Dvaraka.One day, a brahmana came to the royal court, carrying the body of his five-year-old son. Addressing Lord Krishna, he said, "This is the sixth of my children to die. If you cannot restore this boy's life, I will kill myself here at Your gate."
Krishna remained silent and so Arjuna assured the brahmana that he would restore the life of his son. Failing to do so, Arjuna said that he would enter fire. At this time, Lord Krishna took Arjuna on the back of Garuda and travelled to the abode of Lord Narayana. After being welcomed, Lord Krishna asked Narayana to return the brhamana's six sons.Lord Krishna put these boys on the back of Garuda and then returned to Dvaraka, giving the sons back to the brahmana.From His 16,108 wives, Lord Krishna begot innumerable children and grandchildren, so that the Earth became covered with the members of the Yadu dynasty. Fearing that this would constitute a great burden on the Earth, Lord Krishna decided to destroy the Yadu dynasty, on thepretext of a sage's curse.Once, as the Yadu boys were playing on the banks of the Narmada, they saw the great sage, Kanva, performing austerities there. Dressing Samba as a woman, they put an iron lump under her clothes, by her belly, so that it appeared as if she (he) were pregnant. Approaching the sage, they requested, "Tell us whether her child will be a boy or a girl.By dint of his introspection, the sage knew everything, and so he angrily cursed the boys, saying, "You will be killed by this lump of iron.The boys then reported the matter to Lord Krishna. That lump of iron was then ground into powder and thrown into the ocean. From it grew grass that was as strong as a thunderbolt. One part of the iron could not be powdered, and that was swallowed by a fish. When that fish was caught, the fisherman used the piece of iron to make an arrowhead.Once thereafter, all of the Yadavas became intoxicated by drink¬ing a kind of liquor sent by Indra. They began fighting and as a result, they perished. Being tired of fighting, Krishna sat beneath a banyan tree. Actually, all this was taking place by His will. Krishna sat with his lotus foot resting upon his knee.A hunter came nearby. Seeing Lord Krishna's reddish lotus foot, he pierced it with his arrow. When he recognized that it was Krishna whom he had shot, the hunter came and pleaded that his sin be nullified. Lord Krishna assured the hunter that he had not committed any fault, and indeed would go back to the eternal, spiritual world.At that moment, Lord Krishna gave up His human-like form and, ascended to His supreme abode.Previously, Krishna had ordered Daruka to summon Arjuna. Thus, just before the Lord's departure, Arjuna arrived. As Arjuna stood before Him with joined hands, Lord Krishna said, "I am now returning to My abode. You should go to Dvaraka and take charge of My wives.
After Krishna ascended to Vaikuntha- Arjuna went to Dvaraka and informed Krishna's wives, as well as Vasudeva and Ugrasena- about the Lord's disappearance. Then, as they all left Dvaraka, it became submerged within the ocean.As Arjuna was taking Krishna's wives to Indraprastha, the women were kidnapped by a gang of cowherds. Formerly, the wives of the demi¬gods and Gandharvas had laughed at the great sage, Ashtavakra, be¬cause of his awkward appearance. He then cursed them, saying, "You will become prostitutes."When the women begged him to retract his curse, Ashtavakra ordained that, after getting Lord Krishna as their husband, they would fall into the hands of the demigods' enemies.Being vanquished in battle, Arjuna felt terribly aggieved, think¬ing, "The strength of my arms has departed, along with My Lord."Lord Shiva then concluded his discussion of Krishna by telling Parvati, "O goddess, there may be many other incarnations, but the pastimes of Lord Krishna are the most wonderful. The hearing of Lord Krishna's pastimes is always auspicious. I have told you them in brief. Even one who has committed terrible atrocities becomes freed from sinful reactions by listening to Lord Krishna's pastimes.""The Lord assumes various forms for the protection of the demi¬gods and pious persons of this world. With a desire to kill Tripura, 1 had worshiped Lord Vishnu. Taking the form of Buddha, the Lord deluded His enemies, making them give up all religious practices. Lord Vishnu, descending in a brahmana's house at the end of Kali-yuga, wil kill all the cruel Mlecchas.Once, upon the slopes of Mount Mandara, Svayambhuva Manu performed a prolonged series of sacrifices. One day, the many sag^s assembled there conversed among themselves. The topic was, "Which deity should be most honored by the brahmanas? Who- Brahma, Vishnu or Shiva- being worshiped, grants liberation to men? The remnants of whose food should be accepted?Some sages said, "Rudra alone is fit to be worshiped.Others said, "Brahma is the one who should be worshiped."Some sages said that worship of the Sungod should be performed. Other brahmanas said, "Lord Vishnu is the supreme truth. He, best among all deities, should be worshiped."Svayambhuva Manu said, "The lotus-eyed lord of Lakshmi, the Supreme Brahman, is the only Lord to be adored by brahmanas. Other gods, mixed with vice and passion, are not fit to be worshiped."The sages then requested Bhrigu Muni to approach Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and observe them closely, to see which is full of pure sattva (goodness), and thus worthy of worship.Bhrigu Muni first went to Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva. Seeing the fierce Nandi at the entrace, spear in hand, Bhrigu said, "I havecome to see Hara. Please announce my arrival.Nandi harshly replied, "The lord is not here. He is enjoying pas¬times with Parvati. Go back if you desire to live."
Bhrigu remained at the entrance for many days. Finally, he said, "Because Lord Shiva has become arrogant, due to the company of a woman, he neglects me. For this, he will have the form of a genital! Overcome by lust, he slights me, a brahmana. Lord Shiva will not be adored by the brahmanas any more. All food, water and flowers offered to him will be rendered useless!"Having thus cursed Lord Shiva, Bhrigu Muni said to Nandi, "May Shiva's devotees- covering themselves with ashes and bones, and worshiping a genital- become out of the Vedic fold!"Bhrigu Muni next went to Brahmaloka. Bhrigu respectfully approached Lord Brahma with joined hands. But, in return, Lord Brahma, possessed of passion, did not show him any respect. He did not get up from his seat, nor did he speak any agreeable words.Bhrigu Muni said, "Since you are predominated by passion (rajo-guna) and are slighting me, you will no longer be honored in the world of human beings."After thus cursing Brahma, Bhrigu Muni went to the abode of Lord Vishnu, near the northern shore of the Milk Ocean. Being unimpeded by the guards, Bhrigu Muni entered the Lord's inner chambers. There, he saw Lord Vishnu lying upon Shesha Naga. His lotus feet were being massaged by Lakshmi.Immediately, Bhrigu Muni went and kicked Lord Vishnu's chest wtih his left foot. The Lord quickly got up and said, "I am very fortunate." He then massaged Bhrigu Muni's feet, saying, "O brahmana, due to contact with your feet, My body has become auspicious. May the dust particles from your feet- which are the cause of all affluence- and which are the bridge crossing the boundless ocean of material existence- purify Me."Along with Lakshmi, Lord Vishnu honored Bhrigu Muni with presentations of garlands, sandalwood and other pleasing articles. The Lord then seated the brahmana upon the best of seats, and it could be seen that His eyes were full of tears of joy.Joining his hands, Bhrigu Muni said, "What patience! What tol¬erance! What compassion! Such qualities that I see here are not present in other gods!"
"O Lord, You are the Supreme Brahman. You alone are the Lord of the brahmanas. One who worships someone other than You is impious! Brahma, Rudra, and others, who are mixed with rajas and tamas, are not fit to be worshiped. You alone are pure sattva. The food that is left by you should be eaten, and not what is left by others."Bhrigu Muni glorified Lord Vishnu at great length and with boundless enthusiasm. Thereafter, he returned to the assembly of sages. He told them, "Brahma and Shiva have a preponderance of passion and ignorance. Indeed, they were cursed by me. They are not fit to be wor¬shiped by brahmanas. Lord Vishnu, full of pure goodness, is the ocean of all auspicious qualities. He is the Supreme Brahman! Even sinful persons get liberation, simply by remembering Lord Krishna.""Let all your doubts be removed. O best of brahmanas, leaving aside all other gods, diligently worship, for as long as you live, the primedial Lord Vishnu."The sages offered their obeisances to Bhrigu Muni and said, "You have removed all of our doubts."Thereafter, those brahmanas fully engaged in worshiping Lord Vishnu with undivided attention.