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The sacrificial performance at the forest of Naimisharanya.
Once, about five thousand years ago, sometime after the disappearance of Lord Krishna, great sages, headed by Shaunaka Rishi, assembled at Naimisharanya to perform an extensive series of sacrifices. This most sacred place is the hub of a great wheel that had been contemplated by Lord Brahma to encompass the entire universe. Being very anxious to benefit the people who would be born during the forthcoming age of Kali, the sages had selected Naimisharanya because they understood that when sacrifice is performed there, the strength of demoniac persons becomes curtailed. Knowing that the only practical sacrifice during Kali-yuga is the sankirtana-yagya, the chanting and hearing of the holy name and glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the sages were prepared to hear Krishna-katha for one thousand years, just to set the example for the persons of this fallen age.
One day, after finishing their morning duties, including the performance of agnihotra sacrifices, the rishis very respectfully seated Shrila Suta Gosvami upon the vyasasana and then made the following six inquiries.
The sages said, “O Suta, being an ideal, submissive disciple, you have received full enlightenment by the mercy of your spiritual masters. Please explain to us what you have ascertained to be the absolute and ultimate good for the people in general. In this Kali-yuga, men have very short lives and they are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky, and above all, always disturbed. There are so many revealed scriptures, and they describe innumerable varieties of duties. Please select the essence of all these sacred texts and explain it to us for the good of all people so that their hearts may become fully satisfied.”
“O, Suta Gosvami, you know for what purpose the Supreme Lord appeared in the womb of Devaki and played the part of a human being. We are very eager to learn about Him and His incarnations and so please narrate to us the wonderful transcendental pastimes that He performs. Simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord, even unconsciously, one can immediately be delivered from the entanglement of birth and death. Therefore, great devotees such as Narada always chant the holy name and sing about the glories of the Supreme Lord. Persons who come in contact with such pure devotees can immediately become sanctified, whereas bathing in the Ganga purifies one gradually.”
“We never tire of hearing Krishna-katha, for those who have developed their transcendental relationship with the Lord relish hearing of His pastimes at every moment. Now that Lord Krishna has departed for His own abode, where can we find the true principles of religion? We desire to hear these teachings that were imparted by the previous acharyas, for such hearing and chanting is always uplifting. Who is there sincerely desiring to become delivered from the vices of this degraded age of quarrel that will not be willing to hear the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead?”
Suta Gosvami first offered his obeisances unto his spiritual master, Shrila Shukadeva Gosvami. Then he replied, “O sages, your questions are praiseworthy, and because they are in relationship with Lord Krishna, they are meant for the world’s welfare. The supreme duty or dharma for all humanity is engagement in the transcendental loving service of the Supreme Lord. However, such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self. Bhakti-yoga is the perfect and complete spiritual activity, and so one who is thus engaged automatically acquires causeless knowledge and detachment from this material world.”
“All kinds of endeavor are useless labor only if they do not invoke our dormant natural attraction for hearing the messages of the Supreme Lord, because human life is meant for self-realization. This valuable human form of life should never be utilized merely for accumulating material assets. And, whatever economic development one achieves should be employed in the service of the Supreme Lord, and not only for personal sense gratification.”
“Although the Absolute Truth is One, it is appreciated by transcendentalists and described in shastra as Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan, in terms of one’s progressive degree of realization. The highest goal of life is to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and for this reason an intelligent person should always hear about, glorify, remember and worship the Supreme Lord with single-minded attention. By taking up the sword of constant remembrance of the Lord, Shri Krishna, the devotees cut through the tight knot of bondage (karma). What sane man will avoid the submissive aural reception of Krishna-katha?”
“By rendering service unto the pure devotees, one gains an affinity for hearing about Krishna. Thereafter, when one very seriously takes to such hearing, Lord Krishna, as the Paramatma within his heart, cleanses one of all desires for material enjoyment. Because of this, the hearing of Krishna-katha is considered, in itself, to be the highest form of piety.”
“When all that is inauspicious within the heart becomes destroyed almost to nil, loving service unto the Supreme Lord comes into being as an irrevocable fact. At that time, the effects of the modes of passion and ignorance, such as lust and greed, disappear from the heart, and thus one becomes very happily situated on the platform of pure goodness. In this transcendental stage, the devotee is enlightened with scientific knowledge about the Supreme Personality of Godhead and he becomes liberated from all material association.”
“At this time, one can see his eternal self and understand his constitutional relationship with the Lord as His eternal servant. It is for this reason that all of the great souls since time immemorial have been rendering unalloyed devotional service unto Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although they respect the various demigods, such as Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva, Goddess Durga, etc. such persons reject the worship of any of these separated forms that are manifest under the influence of the material modes of nature. Those who are serious about liberation worship the forms of Vishnu-tattva, knowing that it is only Lord Vishnu who is the ultimate goal of all knowledge, sacrifice, yoga and austerities. There are innumerable incarnations of the Supreme Lord, such as Rama, Nrisingha, Varaha, Matsya, Kurma, etc. and all of these are His plenary portions or parts of the plenary portions. In other words, Lord Shri Krishna is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead.”