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Maharaja Nimi meets the nine Yogendras.
Although Narada was obliged to travel frequently, he sometimes came to reside at Dvaraka because he was very eager to personally worship Lord Krishna. One such day, when Narada arrived at his house, Vasudeva worshiped him suitably and then had him comfortably seated.
After bowing down to offer respects, Vasudeva said, “O great soul, the purpose of your visit is to benefit all, even the most wretched. The demigods award happiness and distress upon the living beings, but the activities of great devotees like you result in happiness alone. The demigods reciprocate with living entities in accordance with their karma, whereas pure devotees are merciful to everyone.”
“O brahmana, I am satisfied just by seeing you. Still, I wish that you would discuss bhagavat dharma (religious principles meant for pleasing the Supreme Lord), because such topics award all mortals freedom from fear.”
“In a previous birth, I had worshiped the Supreme Lord with a desire to have a child, being bewildered by the external energy, maya. Now, please instruct me, so that I can free myself from the dangerous and fearful condition of material bondage.” (Knowing of Lord Krishna’s immanent departure from this world, Vasudeva lamented that he had desired to have Krishna as his son, in this world, rather than go back to Godhead to serve Him there.)
Narada was very pleased to hear questions that concerned topics regarding Lord Krishna. He replied, “It is quite suitable that you have inquired about bhagavat-dharma (duties in relation to the Supreme), because such devotional service is so potent that it can purify the entire universe. Simply by hearing about devotional service, or by praising the service of others, even persons implicated in sinful life can be immediately purified. The Supreme Lord is so auspicious that whoever hears or chants about Him becomes fully pious. To illustrate the truth of this, an ancient conversation between Maharaja Nimi and the nine Yogendras (sons of Rishabhadeva) is often cited.”
The nava-yogendras were Paramahansas that wandered over the Earth naked, and indeed, without impediment, to all the planets within the universe, for the purpose of spreading knowledge of the Absolute Truth. Paramahansas can actually see how the cosmic manifestation is nondifferent from the Supreme Lord, being an emanation from Him- and yet distinct from Him as well.
Once, while travelling over the Earth, the nine Yogendras came to Maharaja Nimi’s sacrificial arena. These great personalities were brilliant like the sun, and upon seeing them, everyone stood up to show respect, even the brahmanas and the sacrificial fires, themselves. Knowing the nava-yogendras to be narayana-parayana (unalloyed devotees), Maharaja Nimi joyfully worshiped them, just as one would worship the Supreme Lord.
After offering obeisances, King Videha (Nimi) said, “I think that you must be the Supreme Lord’s personal associates. You travel throughout the universe with no selfish interest, just to purify all of the conditioned souls. It is very difficult for the conditioned soul to achieve the human form of life. And, for human beings, it is very rare to gain the association of devotees like yourselves.”
“Please describe to me the highest good. I consider your association to be a priceless treasure! Please speak to me about bhagavat-dharma, the performance of which immediately satisfies the Supreme Lord, Who then gives His own Self to such a surrendered soul.”
The Nava-yogendras thanked Maharaja Nimi for his question, and then Kavi began to reply, while all in the sacrificial assembly listened.
Shri Kavi said, “The conditioned soul is always fearful because of identifying with the temporary material body. Real freedom from this fear can only be achieved by worshiping the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. One who accepts this path will never fall, even while running with his eyes closed (without proper knowledge of the revealed scriptures).”
“In accordance with his particular acquired nature, one should offer all that he does with his body, senses, mind, words, intelligence and purified consciousness, thinking, ‘This is for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord.’ While executing such devotional service, one should control his mind and give up all attachment to material objects. In this way, by being constantly engaged in chanting and hearing about the Supreme Lord, one eventually attains the perfection of love of God.”
“In addition, a devotee must train himself to see how everything is an expansion of the Supreme Lord’s energy, and thus, he should see nothing as separate from Him. This realization will enable a devotee to become free from all fear. For one who thus constantly engages in the devotional service of the Lord, unflinching devotion, detachment from all unfavorable things, and direct experience of the Lord results.”
Maharaja Nimi said, “Please tell me in greater detail about the devotees of the Lord. What are their characteristics, how do they speak, and what is it that makes them dear to the Supreme Lord?”
Shri Havi replied by describing the three classes of devotees: “The most advanced devotees see the Supreme Lord within everything and see how everything is situated within the Lord. The intermediate devotee offers his love to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is a friend to all devotees, shows mercy to the ignorant and avoids those who are envious of God. The neophyte or materialistic devotee fully engages in worship of the Lord in the temple, but he does not behave properly with other devotees and people in general.”
Although neophyte and intermediate devotees can accept disciples, their students cannot advance very well. For this reason, one should be very careful to accept an uttama-adhikari as his spiritual master. Such an elevated devotee sees the entire world as the energy of the Supreme Lord, and so he does not rejoice in gain and lament in loss. He remains aloof from material miseries by always remembering the Supreme Personality of Godhead. His mind no longer entertains plans for enjoying sex, earning money or gaining prestige. Even if he is very highly placed in society or executes great austerities, a pure devotee does not feel even a tinge of pride within himself. Giving up all sense of proprietorship and all concern about sensual pleasure, the bhagavatottama becomes fully peaceful and satisfied. Indeed, the first-class devotee would not give up his shelter at the Lord’s lotus feet for a moment, even in exchange for the opportunity to enjoy the opulence of the entire universe.
The Lord’s beautiful toenails resemble valuable jewels, and the effulgence emanating from them, like cooling moonshine, relieves all of the suffering within the heart of a pure devotee. The Lord is so kind to the conditioned souls that if someone chants His holy name, even unintentionally, He is inclined to destroy innumerable sinful reactions within the chanter’s heart. When a devotee takes shelter at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord and chants His glories with love- the Lord, in return, can never leave that devotee’s heart. One who has thus captured the Lord within his heart is called bhagavata-pradhan. This is the essence of a pure devotee’s qualifications.
Maharaja Nimi requested, “Please tell me about maya, the illusory potency of Lord Vishnu, which bewilders even great yogis. Krishna-katha is very palatable, and my thirst for it is not yet satiated. Such hearing is the actual medicine for the conditioned souls who are tormented by the three-fold miseries of material existence. Such hearing is relished even more by those who are liberated souls.”
Shri Antariksha said, “The material nature is gunamayi (consisting of three modes), and it becomes activated after the Paramatma enters into it. The conditioned soul is awarded a body from one of three classes- demigod, human, or sub-human. Then, impelled by deep-rooted desires, he engages in fruitive activities.”
“When it is time for the Supreme Lord (in His form of eternal Time) to annihilate the manifested cosmos, a terrible drought takes place on the earth as the heat of the sun gradually increases. A fire then emanates from the mouth of Lord Sankarshana in Patalaloka, and as it rises, being driven by strong winds, the entire three worlds become scorched. Thereafter, for one hundred years, Samvartaka clouds pour torrents of raindrops, each as long as an elephant’s trunk, submerging the entire universe. Then, Vairaja Brahma, the soul of the Universal Form (the totality of individual conditioned souls) gives up that gigantic body and enters into the unmanifested (avyaktam).”
Shri Antariksha then asked, “O King, what more do you wish to hear?”
Maharaja Nimi replied, “O great rishi, please tell me how even a very foolish materialist can easily free himself from the influence of maya, which is insurmountable for those who are not self-controlled.”
Shri Prabuddha said, “In the hopes of achieving happiness and relief from distress, the conditioned souls take shelter of sexual relationships. This simultaneously entails surrender to the hard labor of fruitive activities. Conditioned souls always desire to somehow become the greatest. While interacting with others, conditioned souls compete with equals and burn with envy when they see those who are superior. Whatever it may be, though, one’s material situation is always temporary, and real happiness remains forever elusive. When a person truly understands the futility of material existence and sincerely desires his real welfare, then he should take shelter of a bona-fide spiritual master.”
“There is futility in both earthly and heavenly sense gratification. Earthly sense gratification is very short-lived, it is accompanied by so many miseries, and it depends upon a terribly fragile material body. Heavenly sense gratification is prolonged, but it is accompanied by rivalry and enviousness. And, it ends when one’s stock of pious results becomes exhausted. One should accept the bona-fide spiritual master as one’s life and soul and worshipful deity, and he should execute all of the principles of pure devotional service under his direction.”
Shri Prabuddha described devotional service to the Supreme Lord in great detail. He then said, “A devotee should make friends with other devotees, so that they can engage in glorifying the Supreme Lord together. By developing their friendship in this way, and encouraging one another, the devotees will become fixed in devotional service. This very much pleases the Supreme Lord, who then takes away all inauspiciousness from within their hearts. In this way, the devotees feel satisfied at heart, and gradually, love of Godhead will awaken. As this love intensifies, the devotees’ spiritualized bodies will exhibit the symptoms of transcendental ecstasy. By such complete engagement in the devotional service of the Lord, the devotees easily cross over the illusory energy, maya.”
Maharaja Nimi then said, “Please explain to me the position of the Supreme Lord, Narayana, Who is Himself, Paramatma and Brahman. You are able to describe all of this because you are most expert in the understanding of transcendental knowledge.”
Shri Pippalayana said, “Although the Supreme Lord is the cause of creation, maintenance and destruction, He Himself has no cause. Brahman and Paramatma are both subordinate features of the Absolute Truth. In His feature as Paramatma, the Supreme Lord glances over the material nature and thereafter enters within it, to enliven the creation and the living entities. The material nature and the living entities are all expansions of the Supreme Brahman. Although the three features of Bhagavan, Paramatma and Brahman may be discussed separately, it should be understood that they are all one and the same Absolute Truth.”
Maharaja Nimi said, “Please tell me now about karma-yoga, for by dedicating one’s work to the Supreme, a person can free himself from all reactions to work. Once, previously, in the presence of my father, Maharaja Ikshvaku, I questioned the four Kumaras about this, but they refused to reply. Why was this?”
Shri Avirhotra replied, “Karma, vikarma and akarma must be understood from the Vedic literatures, for they are non-different from the Lord Himself. The Vedas often prescribe fruitive ritualistic performances, even though the ultimate goal of the Vedas is to become free from such activities. This can be compared to a father who promises his child that he will give him a sweet if he will take some medicine. Actually, it is the medicine that the father intends to administer, but just to induce the child, he appears to give great importance to the sweet. Also, it is a fact that if materialistic persons do not adhere to the Vedic injunctions, then they will surely engage in sinful activities. “
If a person who has not yet controlled him mind and senses does not rise early in the morning, bathe, chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and perform other disciplined devotional activities, he will surely fall victim to illicit activities and become just like an animal. The Vedic injunctions regulate sensual enjoyment, so that the conditioned soul who cannot give up all bodily pleasures immediately is given a chance to give them up gradually. When a person executes such regulated activities without attachment, offering the results to the Supreme Lord, then he attains freedom from fruitive reactions. However, the root of all material entanglement, the hridaya-granthi (knot of false ego in the heart) can quickly be cut off by the execution of pure devotional service.
In conclusion, Shri Avihotra described in detail the process of Deity worship. He stressed that a devotee should worship the form of the Lord that he finds most attractive. While worshiping the Deity, a devotee must always carefully consider himself to be the eternal servant of the Supreme Lord.
Maharaja Nimi then said, “The Supreme Lord descends into this material world according to His own desire. Please describe His various forms and pastimes so that I can understand which form most inspires my love for Him.”
In reply, Shri Drumila first of all described how the Supreme Lord expands as the Purusha-avataras, for the purpose of material creation. Next, he described the guna-avataras, and then he related an ancient history regarding Nara-Narayana.
Once, King Indra became very afraid that by performing severe austerities, Nara-Narayana Rishi would be able to forcibly seize his heavenly kingdom. Being ignorant of the Lord’s transcendental glories, Indra sent Kamadeva (Cupid) to Badarikashrama, along with an entourage. Thereafter, as spring breezes created a very sensuous atmosphere, Kamadeva began to attack Nara-Narayana Rishi with his arrows, which were in the form of irresistible glances of beautiful women.
Nara-narayana Rishi was not at all allured, however. Understanding Indra’s intentions very well, the Lord then spoke to Kamadeva and his followers, who were fearfully standing before Him. The Lord said, “Do not fear, Madana, Vayu and wives of the devas. Please accept My offerings and thus sanctify My ashrama.”
Feeling ashamed, the demigods bowed their heads and replied in such as way as to invoke the Lord’s compassion. They said, “O Lord, You are forever changeless and transcendental. In spite of our great offense, you are compassionate toward us. This is not at all surprising, however, because innumerable great sages who are self-satisfied and free from false pride and anger bow down at Your lotus feet. Demigods frequently try to impede those who are on the path of going back home, back to Godhead, whereas worshipers of the demigods encounter no such obstacles. Still, You always protect Your devotees, and so they easily overcome all such obstacles.”
While the demigods were thus speaking, Nara-Narayana Rishi suddenly manifested numerous women who were astonishingly beautiful and were all faithfully engaged in the Lord’s service. When Kamadeva and his associates saw the fascinating beauty of these women and smelled the fragrance of their bodies, they became bewildered and felt truly humbled.
The Supreme Lord then smiled slightly and said, as the demigods bowed before Him, “Please choose one of these women, who you find most suitable, and let her become the ornament of the heavenly planets.”
After vibrating the sacred syllable “om”, the followers of Cupid selected Urvashi, the best of the Apsaras. Then, while keeping her in front, they returned to the heavenly kingdom. Upon arriving at the assembly of Indra, they described the supreme prowess of Nara-Narayana Rishi, while all of the demigods listened. When Indra heard about the pastimes of Nara-Narayana, however, he became both astonished and frightened, because he was conscious of his great offense.
Maharaja Nimi said, “My dear Yogendras, please describe to me the destination of those who never worship the Supreme Lord, who are always disturbed by material desires, and who are not in control of their own selves.”
Shri Chamasa replied, “The brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaishyas and shudras are born from the face, arms, thighs and feet, respectively, of the Universal Form of the Supreme Lord, according to their situation under the three modes of material nature. The four spiritual orders of brahmacharya, grihastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa are similarly created. Anyone, from any of the four varnas or ashramas, who fails to worship the Supreme Lord, will surely fall down. “
“Women, shudras and fallen members of the higher varnas often have little chance to hear about the glories of the Supreme Lord, because saintly persons generally avoid them. Those who are actually enlightened should try to be merciful to them, though.
There are two classes of persons who do not worship the Supreme Lord- those who are simply ignorant, and those who are aware of the Lord but still ridicule Him. There are foolish members of the three higher classes who are attached only to the karma-kanda sections of the Vedas, which prescribe sacrifices for the attainment of heavenly sense pleasures. Such persons simply dream of drinking soma-rasa to become immortal and thereafter enjoy with the Apsaras in the Nandana gardens. Being materialistic, they ignore the supreme proprietorship of the Supreme Lord, while always endeavoring to maintain their status as exalted followers of the Vedas. Being so inclined, they take shelter of atheistic scholars and thus become offenders at the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such persons gradually become overpowered by lust and anger. Being overly proud, sinful and deceitful- they mock those who are actually devotees of the Supreme Lord. The intelligence of such cruel-minded persons is clouded by their false pride, caused by great wealth, high birth, physical strength, beauty, and successful performance of Vedic sacrifices.”
“The Supreme Lord is the source of everything, and He is the absolute controller. Thus, He is the supreme worshipable object. He is glorified in the Vedic literatures, but those who are bereft of intelligence do not like to hear about Him. The karma-kanda sections of the Vedas give concessions to materialistic persons who are inclined to enjoy illicit sex, intoxication and meat eating.”
“Sex is allowed in marriage and drinking and meat eating are allowed in some sacrificial performances. Amassing wealth is also allowed, but the Vedas instruct that it should be used for advancing in religious life, and not simply for the improvement of one’s family situation. Obviously, the purpose of such concessions is not to encourage over-indulgence. Persons who follow these Vedic directions are saved from performing grossly sinful acts because their harmful propensities are disciplined. And, by cultivating a respect for the Vedic path, such persons may be gradually lead to an attraction for the Supreme Lord.”
“Those who have actually turned away from the Supreme Lord are eventually forced to give up their homes, families and friends, and then enter, against their will, into the darkest regions of the universe.”
Maharaja Nimi said, “Please describe the colors, names and forms of the Supreme Lord as He appears in the different ages. Also, please describe the regulative principles by which He is worshiped.”
Shri Karabhajana said, “The Supreme Lord appears in each of the four yugas- Krita, Treta, Dvapara and Kali. In Satya-yuga, He appears as a four-armed brahmachari of white complexion. His hair is matted, He dresses in black deerskin, He wears a sacred thread and He carries chanting beads made of aksha seeds and a water pot called kamandalu. The people of Satya-yuga are peaceful, nonenvious, friendly to all creatures, and steady in all situations. They worship the Supreme Lord, Hansa-avatara, by a process of very austere meditation.”
“In Treta-yuga, the Lord appears in a four-armed form possessing reddish complexion and golden hair. Because He introduces the process of sacrifice (yagya), His personal ornaments are the instruments of sacrifice, such as the shruk and shruva, which are used for pouring ghee. His many names include Yagya and Prishnigarbha, the son of Prishni-devi and Prajapati Sutapa.”
“In Dvapara-yuga, the Supreme Lord appears with a dark complexion (shyama) and He is dressed in yellow garments. His transcendental body is marked with Shrivatsa and other ornaments. In this age, the Lord is worshiped in the mood of honoring a great king.”
“In Kali-yuga, intelligent persons perform sankirtana to worship the Supreme Lord. This form is directly Lord Krishna, Himself, but He appears with a golden complexion and constantly chants the holy name of Lord Krishna.”
Those who simply bow down with reverence at the lotus feet of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu will be given all protection in life. The lotus feet of the Supreme Lord are the suitable boat for crossing the material ocean of birth and death. For this reason, the lotus feet of the Lord are sought after by Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva.
Shastra only very discreetly mentions Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s appearance because, if it were widely proclaimed, then innumerable imposters or imitation Chaitanya Mahaprabhus would plague the earth.
In spite of it’s degradation, Kali-yuga is appreciated by enlightened persons as being the best age of all because simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord, one can very easily achieve all perfection. Even Kali-yuga’s miserable conditions can prove advantageous, because it allows a devotee to more easily cry out for the Lord’s mercy in a mood of utter helplessness. After giving up all material duties and surrendering fully at the lotus feet of Mukunda, a devotee is no longer indebted to the demigods, forefathers, or any other living beings.
In this way, Narada concluded narrating the discussions between Maharaja Nimi and the nine Yogendras, who were sons of Rishabhadeva and his wife, Jayanti. Maharaja Nimi, the king of Mithila, was extremely satisfied to have heard about the science of devotional service, and along with his sacrificial priests, he worshiped the nava-yogendras very respectfully.
Narada said, “O greatly fortunate Vasudeva, by faithfully applying all that you have heard from me, you shall attain the Supreme without fail. Indeed, both you and your wife, Devaki, are undoubtedly already perfect, because the Supreme Lord has appeared as your son. By always seeing Him, embracing Him, resting with Him and eating with Him, you have come to manifest wonderful love for Him.”
Vasudeva is actually a nitya-siddha devotee, an eternal associate of the Lord, but due to great humility, he felt himself to be an ordinary conditioned soul. Accepting this sentiment, Narada had first given Vasudeva suitable instructions, but at the end, he revealed his real position.
Narada then said, “Enemies like Sishupala, Paundraka and Shalva were also always thinking of Krishna in a mood of enviousness- even while eating or resting. Being thus absorbed in Krishna, they attained the Lord’s personal abode after death. What then can be said of the benedictions that are offered to those who fix their minds on the Lord in a favorable, loving mood?”
Vasudeva naturally thought of Krishna as his son and so the Lord reciprocated accordingly. But this made Vasudeva fearful about the fate of the Yadu dynasty, on account of the brahmanas’ curse. Vasudeva also was afraid of the consequences that he would have to face because of the fatherly discipline that he had meted out to the Lord. Understanding this, Narada assured Vasudeva that Krishna is truly the Supreme Personality of Godhead and so there should be no anxiety about the destination of any of the Lord’s associates. After hearing Narada’s talks, Vasudeva and Devaki became highly astonished, and they gave up all anxiety and illusion.