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Deliverance of the yamala-arjuna trees.
Maharaja Parikshit wanted to know what abominable thing the sons of Kuvera had done that made Narada so angry and curse them. In response, Shukadeva Gosvami related the following ancient history.
Being great devotees of Lord Shiva, the two sons of Kuvera had become his personal associates, and they were very proud of this. Being permitted to roam in the gardens surrounding Mount Kailash, on the banks of the Mandakini River, they used to drink a kind of liquor called Varuni. In the association of many women, they wandered in the gardens, their eyes always rolling in intoxication.
Within the water of the Mandakini Ganga, which was filled with lotus flowers, the sons of Kuvera enjoyed the company of young girls. By chance, the great devarshi Narada happened to pass by, and by looking at the sons of Kuvera, he could understand the situation very well. Because they were naked, when the young demigod girls saw Narada, they became very ashamed. Being afraid of his curse, they quickly covered their bodies with their clothes.
The sons of Kuvera were not ashamed, however, and without caring for Narada, they remained naked. Upon seeing the two sons of Kuvera naked and intoxicated, not only by wine but by false prestige, Narada decided to award them a special curse, as a manifestation of his mercy.
Narada Muni said, “Among all the attractions of material enjoyment, the attraction of wealth bewilders one’s intelligence more than having beautiful bodily features, taking birth in an aristocratic family, and being learned. When one is uneducated, but falsely proud of his wealth, his uses his money to enjoy wine, women and gambling.”
“Rascals who are falsely proud of their wealth, or aristocratic birth, are so cruel that for the sake of their perishable bodies, they kill poor animals without mercy. Indeed, sometimes they kill animals simply for entertainment. One may be very proud of his body, thinking himself to be a very important man, a president, or a demigod. But, whatever he may be, after death, that body will transform into worms, stool or ashes.”
“To whom does this body actually belong? After all, it is produced from material nature, and after death it once again merges into the elements. Therefore, it is the common property of everyone. Who else then but a rascal would maintain his body by the sinful act of killing animals?”
“Fools who are proud of their wealth can never see things as they are. Therefore, returning to poverty is the proper treatment to restore their vision of reality. A poverty-stricken man can at least realize the miseries of material existence, and so not wish such a painful condition for others. One who had been pricked by a pin knows the pain of others who are being pinpricked. Realizing that such pain is the same for everyone, he does not want others to suffer in that way. But one who has never been pricked by a pin cannot understand this.”
“A poverty-stricken man has to work hard to maintain himself, and he becomes satisfied with whatever comes by the mercy of providence. His austere life actually purifies him and frees him of false pride and false ego. Being hungry for want of sufficient food, the poor man becomes weak and his senses become pacified. Therefore he is less inclined to perform harmful, envious activities. (In Kali-yuga there is an unnecessary increase in economic development, resulting in more and more slaughterhouses, liquor shops and brothels.)”
“Saintly persons can very easily associate with those who are poor, but it is difficult to approach the rich. Thus, a poverty-stricken person may very easily become disinterested in material desires, and take to spiritual life.”
Narada then said, “Because Nalakuvara and Manigriva have become so fallen that they are already living like trees (being naked), they should actually get the bodies of trees. This will be a proper punishment. Still, by my mercy, they will have the remembrance of their past sinful activities. Moreover, by my special favor, after the expiry of one hundred years of the demigods, they will be able to see the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva, face to face, and thus revive their real position as devotees.”
Actually, Narada cursed the sons of Kuvera not simply to punish them, but to cure their disease of material blindness. After speaking, Narada returned to his ashram, which is known as Narayana-ashram, and Nalakuvara and Manigriva became twin arjuna trees.
Lord Krishna began slowly dragging the wooden grinding mortar to which he was bound, and while going, He said, “Although I have nothing to do with these sons of Kuvera, Devarishi Narada is My very dear devotee. Because he wanted Me to come face to face with them, I must do so for their deliverance.”
From this it can be very well understood that if one seeks the favor of a pure devotee, it is much more effective than trying to achieve Lord Krishna’s favor directly.
Krishna entered between the two arjuna trees, making the big mortar turn sideways and become stuck. With the rope tied around His belly, Krishna began to pull with such great force that the two trees became uprooted and fell to the ground with a great crashing sound. (This pastime is known as damodara-lila, and so one of Krishna’s names is Damodara.)
Immediately, two effulgent personalities came out from the trees, illuminating all directions. Bowing their heads, they offered obeisances to Krishna, and with folded hands they said, “My dear Lord, You are the supreme controller, and it is You who exist before the creation. Therefore, who, trapped inside a body of material qualities in this world can understand You? We simply offer our respectful obeisances unto You.” (Instead of trying to understand Krishna in detail, it is better to offer our respectful obeisances unto Him.)
“O supreme form, we are always servants of Your servants, especially Narada Muni. Now, give us permission to return to our home. It is by the grace of Narada Muni that we have been able to see You face to face. Henceforward, may all our words describe Your pastimes, may our ears engage in listening to Your glories, may our hands and legs perform actions that are pleasing to You, and may our minds always think of Your lotus feet.”
Still being bound by the ropes of the gopis, Krishna broadly smiled and replied, “The great saint Narada is very merciful. By his curse, he has shown you the greatest favor. I knew of all these events from the very beginning. When a person is face to face with the sun, there is no longer any darkness. Similarly, when one is face to face with a devotee who is fully surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is no longer subject to material bondage.” (Nevertheless, persons who are too offensive will have to take some time before being rectified.)”
“O Nalakuvara and Manigriva, you may now return home. Because you desire to always be absorbed in My devotional service, that desire will be fulfilled, and you will never again fall from that platform.”
The sons of Kuvera circumambulated Lord Krishna and offered obeisances, and after taking His permission, they departed.