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King Anga, Vena, and Prithu Maharaja.
From his very birth, Dhruva’s son, Utkala was a liberated soul. He was equipoised, for he could see everything resting in the Supreme Soul, and the Supreme Soul present within everyone’s heart. So that he could avoid most of material entanglement, Utkala remained like a foolish, deaf, dumb and blind person, something like a flameless fire covered by ashes. For this reason, the elderly family members and ministers considered Utkala to be stupid and mad and so they installed his younger brother, Vatsara upon the royal throne.
In the fifth generation after Dhruva appeared Chakshusha, who became the sixth Manu. Chakshusha begot twelve sons and the youngest, Ulmuka begot six sons, the eldest of whom was named Anga.
Once, King Anga performed an ashvamedha sacrifice, and yet even though the brahmanas were fully qualified and knew how to invite the demigods, none of the denizens of heaven appeared.
The priests then informed Anga, “O King, although we have properly offered the ghee in sacrifice, the demigods will not accept it. We know that you collected all of the sacrificial paraphernalia with great care, and certainly our chanting of the Vedic mantras was not deficient in any way. Therefore, we cannot understand why the demigods should feel insulted or neglected and thus refuse to accept their sacrificial shares.”
Upon hearing this, King Anga became very aggrieved. He took permission to break his silence and inquired, “My dear brahmanas, kindly tell what offense I committed so that the demigods refuse to come here and accept their shares of the sacrificial offerings.”
The head priest replied, “O King, you have not been the least bit sinful or offensive in this life, not even within your mind. But, in your previous life you performed sinful activities that have now rendered you sonless, in spite of your being otherwise qualified. Now, if you pray to the Supreme Lord for a son, and then perform a particular sacrifice for this purpose, your desire will certainly be fulfilled. When Lord Hari, who is the supreme enjoyer of all sacrifices, comes here to benedict you, then all of His servants (the demigods) will accompany Him, to accept their shares.”
Thereafter, when the priests offered oblations to Lord Vishnu, a person appeared from the sacrificial fire who was dressed in white and carried a golden pot filled with sweet-rice. After taking permission from the brahmanas, King Anga very respectfully received the pot of sweet-rice in his joined hands. Then, after smelling the preparation, the King offered a portion to his wife, Sunitha. After eating that food, which had the power to produce a male child, the Queen was impregnated by the King. Thereafter, in due course of time, Sunitha gave birth to a son named Vena, and because she was the daughter of death personified, the child was considered to be partially in the dynasty of Irreligion.
A daughter generally takes after her father, and a son takes after his mother. Therefore, Vena took after his grandfather, and so he grew up to be very irreligious. These circumstances are certainly very unusual, but the fact is that sometimes the Lord arranges an unfortunate wife or bad child for his devotee, so that he can become more easily detached from household life.
As a boy, Vena used to go to the forest and unnecessarily kill innocent deer with his bow and arrows. Indeed, his very appearance was frightening, and as soon as they would see him, the citizens would cry out, “Here comes that cruel Vena!”
The young Vena was so malicious that while playing with boys his own age, he would mercilessly kill them, as if they were animals meant for slaughter. King Anga used to punish his son in various ways, hoping to reform him, but in spite of all endeavors he was unable to bring Vena to the path of righteousness.
While grieving over his failure, King Anga thought, “Persons that have no son are certainly very fortunate. They must have worshiped the Supreme Lord in previous lives, so that now they do not have to suffer the unbearable misery of having a bad son. Of course, in one sense, a bad son is better than a good one, for he makes one’s life at home intolerable and thus does not allow attachment for house and family to develop the way a good son does. Indeed, a bad son makes the home so hellish that any intelligent man very easily becomes detached from such a family life.”
King Anga passed sleepless nights while absorbed in such thoughts, and thus he became completely indifferent to household life. Then, once, in the dead of night, he silently got up from bed while his wife was sleeping soundly. Unseen by others, he left his very opulent palace and proceeded to the forest.
The next morning, when it was understood what had happened; the king’s priests, ministers, friends, and relatives, as well as the ordinary citizens became highly alarmed. The people began to search for Anga all over the world, just as unqualified yogis try to find the Supreme Soul within. Finally, after failing to find their ruler, even though they had searched everywhere, the citizens returned home disappointed. Upon hearing of the emergency caused by the King’s absence, great sages headed by Bhrigu had assembled at the capital city and so the citizens informed them of their plight.
The rishis always thought of the welfare of people in general. They knew that in the absence of a king there would be no one to guide and protect the citizens, so that they would soon become unregulated and subject to exploitation. After coming to a positive conclusion, the sages called for Sunitha. Then, with her permission, they installed Vena upon the royal throne, in spite of the ministers’ disapproval. It was already well know that Vena was very harsh and cruel by nature, so that when all of the thieves and rogues within the kingdom heard of his coronation, they fearfully hid like rats that conceal themselves from snakes.
After ascending the throne, Vena became even more puffed-up due to his powerful position, and thus he began to think himself to be greater than anyone else. After mounting his chariot, King Vena travelled throughout his kingdom and forbade the brahmanas to perform any more sacrifices or give charity. After being ordered to refrain from performing all kinds of religious activities, the sages once again assembled, for they were very concerned about the great catastrophe that was certainly awaiting all of the subjects.
While consulting amongst themselves, the rishis spoke as follows: “Like ants caught in the middle of a log that is burning from both ends, the citizens are in danger due to an irresponsible king on one side, and rogues and thieves on the other. Although we had made the unqualified Vena the king during a political crisis, the people are now being threatened with an even greater disaster, for he has blocked the path to spiritual elevation.”
“Being born from the womb of Sunitha, Vena is by nature mischievous. Therefore, our having supported him was just like giving milk to a serpent. We appointed Vena as the protector of the citizens, but now he has become the enemy of the people. Still, it is our duty to make one more attempt to rectify him, and if we can do so, we will be saved from becoming implicated in his sinful acts. However, if Vena refuses to listen to our good advice, we shall reduce him to ashes with our brahminical prowess.”
After making up their minds in this way, the sages went to King Vena. While concealing their anger, they addressed him very sweetly as follows: “My dear King, we have come here today to give you good advice, and so please hear us attentively. By doing so, your duration of life, opulence, strength, and reputation will all surely increase. Those who live according to religious principles are elevated to the heavenly kingdom, which is almost devoid of miseries and full of great happiness. For this reason, you should not spoil the religious life of the people in general. If you impede the spiritual progress of your subjects, you will certainly fall down from your opulent royal position very soon.”
“It is the duty of a king to give the subjects all protection. At the same time, he should engage them in the varnashram system so that they will worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead by the performance of their occupations. If the king sees that the Supreme Lord is worshiped by sacrificial performances, then not only does He become very pleased, but the demigods also become satisfied automatically. However, if the king stops sacrificial performances, then he disrespects the demigods, ruining his chances for heavenly elevation.”
Vena replied, “It is very regrettable that, due to being inexperienced, you are preaching irreligion in the name of religion. You are just like unchaste women that give up their real husband and maintainer to search for a paramour to worship. The king is the real Supreme Personality of Godhead. If, out of ignorance, one does not worship the king, he will never attain happiness in this life or the next.”
“You are so devoted to the demigods, but you should know that Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva, Indra, Vayu, Yamaraja, Surya, Kuvera, Varuna, Agni, and all of the rest are simply parts and parcels of the king’s body. For this reason, you should give up your enviousness and worship me by performing ritualistic ceremonies with all kinds of paraphernalia. If you are actually intelligent, then you will realize that there is no person superior to me who deserves to accept the first oblations that are offered in sacrifice.”
Due to sinful life, King Vena had lost all intelligence, and thus he could not appreciate the words of the sages.
Vena’s insulting words had greatly pained their hearts, and so the brahmanas cried out with great anger, “Kill this most dreadful and sinful person! If he continues to live, then the whole world will be destroyed in a short time! This impudent and shameless rascal has dared to insult the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Vishnu! Who else except the wicked Vena would do so?”
Thereafter, simply by uttering the sound “hum”, the brahmanas killed Vena, who was already as good as dead due to his having blasphemed the Supreme Lord. After the sages departed, Sunitha was so aggrieved because of her son’s death that she preserved Vena’s body by a certain process of applying various substances to it, while chanting the proper mantras. Then, some time later on, as the sages sat together on the banks of the River Sarasvati after having bathed and performed their routine sacrifices, they began to talk about the disturbances within society that had created a fearful situation for the citizens.
At this time, they could see a dust storm that had arisen due to the running of thieves and rogues who were engaged in plundering the subjects. By seeing this, the sages could understand just how much society had been thrown into chaos after the death of King Vena. The sages were powerful enough to subdue the disturbing elements, just as they had killed the king, but they did not consider this to be the duty of brahmanas. On the other hand, they knew that they could not neglect the poor citizens, for by doing so, their spiritual prowess would diminish, just as water that is kept in a cracked pot gradually leaks out.
The sages appreciated the fact that the semen of those in whose dynasty King Anga had appeared was very powerful, and thus the children produced tended to be godly. Thus concluding that Anga’s family line should not be stopped, they took King Vena’s dead body, and by churning it’s thighs very forcibly, a dwarfish person named Bahuka was produced. Bahuka had a complexion as black as a crow’s, and he had short limbs, a large jaw, reddish eyes, and copper-colored hair.
After his birth, Bahuka very submissively bowed to the sages and said, “My dear sirs, what shall I do?”
The sages replied, “Please sit down (nishida), and thus Bahuka received the name Nishada, and it was he who became the father of the Naishada race. Immediately after his birth, Nishada took charge of King Vena’s sinful reactions. For this reason, the Naishada class is always prone to sinful activities, such as stealing and hunting, and because of this they are only allowed to live in the hills and forests.
Thereafter, the sages churned the two arms of Vena’s purified body, and, as a result, a male and female couple were produced.
With great pleasure, the sages declared, “This male is an empowered incarnation of Lord Vishnu named Prithu, and the female is an expansion of the goddess of fortune named Archi. Prithu Maharaja will become the foremost of kings, and in the future, Archi will accept him as her husband.”
As the brahmanas praised King Prithu, the Gandharvas also began to sing of his glories while the Siddhas showered flowers from the sky and the Apsaras danced in ecstasy. The sounds of conch shells, bugles and drums resounded in the sky as the demigods, pitris and celestial rishis descended to earth from the higher planetary systems.
When Lord Brahma observed the lines of Lord Vishnu on Prithu’s right palm, and the marks of lotus flowers on the soles of his feet, he could understand him to be a partial representation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
While the brahmanas arranged for Prithu Maharaja’s coronation; the rivers, seas, hills, mountains, serpents, cows, birds, animals, heaven and earth, as well as all other living entities collected presentations according to their ability and offered them to the King.
Kuvera gave Prithu Maharaja a golden throne and Varuna gave him a brilliant royal umbrella that constantly sprayed fine particles of water. Vayu gave the king two chamaras, and Dharma presented a garland that would expand his fame. Indra gave King Prithu a valuable helmet, and Yamaraja gave him a scepter for ruling the world. Lord Brahma presented the king with a protective garment that was made of spiritual knowledge, and Lord Brahma’s wife, Sarasvati, who is also called Bharati, gave King Prithu a transcendental necklace.
Lord Vishnu gave Prithu a Sudarshana chakra that embodied partial prowess of His original disc, and the wife of Lord Vishnu, the goddess of fortune, gave the king imperishable opulence. Lord Shiva presented him with a sword whose sheath was marked with ten moons, and the wife of Lord Shiva, the goddess Durga, presented King Prithu with a shield marked with one hundred moons. The moon-god presented horses that had been produced from nectar, and Vishvakarma gave the king a very beautiful chariot. Agni gave King Prithu a bow that had been made from the horn of goats and cows, and Surya gave him arrows that were as brilliant as sunshine. The predominating deity of Bhurloka presented slippers that were full of mystic powers, and other demigods gave the king the arts of music, song and drama, as well as the power called antardhana, whereby one can disappear at will. The Ocean offered Prithu Maharaja a conch shell; and the seas, rivers and mountains gave him space to drive his chariot without impediment.
When a suta (professional offerer of praises), a magadha (professional story teller), and a vandi (professional offerer of prayers) began glorifying him, King Prithu smilingly interrupted them in a voice that was as grave as the rumbling of clouds.
Prithu Maharaja said, “O reciters, the godly qualities that you have spoken of have not yet become manifest in me and so you should not yet praise me so highly. When, in due course of time, the qualities that you have spoken of are actually exhibited by me, then you can offer such prayers. One should never attribute the qualities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead to ordinary human beings that do not really have them. How could an intelligent man, who is competent enough to possess such exalted qualities, allow his followers to praise him when he has not yet developed them?”
“When one praises a man by saying, ‘If only you had become educated then you might have become a great scholar’, it is simply a cheating process. The foolish person who agrees to accept such praise does not know that these words simply insult him. Just as a person with a sense of honor does not like to hear about his abominable actions, so a person who is very famous and powerful does not actually enjoy hearing himself praised. I have not yet performed any praiseworthy activities and thus it is not befitting for you to glorify me so highly.”
This humble and nectar-like speech pleased the professional reciters very much, but they were not about to give up glorifying King Prithu. Having been instructed by the great rishis present there, they continued praising Prithu Maharaja because they were confident that he was a bona-fide incarnation of the Lord.
While describing Maharaja Prithu’s future activities, the reciters said, “Dear King, since you are an empowered incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is not possible for us to glorify you adequately. However, because we have a transcendental taste for doing so, we shall try to praise your character according to the instructions that we have received from the great Vedic authorities.”
“This King Prithu will be as powerful as the sun-god. Just as the sun-god distributes his sunshine to everyone, Prithu Maharaja will give his mercy equally to all. Just as the sun-god evaporates water for eight months during the year and then profusely sends it forth during the rainy season, King Prithu will exact taxes from the citizens and then return the wealth during times of need. Prithu Maharaja will always be tolerant and forgiving. When there is drought, this king will supply rainfall just like Indra.”
“The affectionate glances from his smiling, moonlike face will enhance everyone’s peaceful life. But, no one will be able to understand his policies or the condition his treasury, for his activities will be very confidential.”
“King Prithu will be able to see all of the internal and external activities of the citizens, but due to his piety, he will remain neutral when dealing with even his enemy or son. If an enemy is not guilty, Prithu Maharaja will not punish him, and if his son is guilty, then he will immediately punish him. Being pleased by his activities, the citizens will accept him as their ruling king with great satisfaction.
King Prithu will respect all women as if they were his own mother, and he will treat his wife as if she were the other half of his body. He will be just like an affectionate father to the citizens, and he will consider himself to be the most obedient servant of the brahmanas and devotees.”
The reciters went on to describe the prominent events in Maharaja Prithu’s upcoming life, and when they finished speaking, the king worshiped them very respectfully and rewarded them with gifts.
Prior to the appearance of King Prithu, there had been a great scarcity of food grains and thus the citizens had become emaciated due to starvation. At the time of Maharaja Prithu’s coronation, the subjects took the opportunity to approach him.
The people submitted this petition: “My dear King, just as a tree gradually dries up when there is a fire in the hollow of its trunk, so we are withering away due to the fire of hunger in our stomachs. You are the protector of surrendered souls, and so we have come to your shelter. Please give us occupational engagements and then satisfy our hunger by the proper distribution of food grains, lest we soon die of starvation.”
After hearing the citizens’ anxious pleas and seeing their pitiable condition, King Prithu contemplated the problem for a long time to see if he could find out the underlying causes. At last, Prithu Maharaja concluded that the lack of food was not caused by the peoples’ unwillingness to work, but rather it was due to the fact that the earth itself was not producing sufficient grains.
With this in mind, Prithu Maharaja took his bow and aimed a powerful arrow at the earth. When Bhumi, the goddess of the earth saw that King Prithu was prepared to kill her, she became so frightened that her entire body began to tremble. After taking the form of a cow, she quickly fled, and upon seeing this, King Prithu became so angry that his eyes began to glow like the rising sun.
After placing his arrow upon the bowstring, Prithu Maharaja began chasing the cow-shaped earth wherever she went. In this way, Bhumi ran here and there in the outer space between heaven and earth. Finally, however, when she found that there was no hope of escape from the son of Vena, she helplessly desisted.
With an aggrieved heart, Bhumi submitted to Prithu Maharaja and begged, “O King, you are the shelter of the surrendered souls. Please be merciful and spare me. Because I have not committed any sinful activities, I do not understand why you want to kill me. You are supposed to be the knower of religious principles. Why are you so envious of me that you are prepared to kill a helpless woman? Even if a woman commits some sinful act, she should not be punished by anyone, and so what to speak of you, who are so merciful to the poor and unfortunate.”
“My dear King, I am just like a strong boat because all of the living entities rest upon me. If you break me to pieces, then how will you be able to protect your citizens from drowning in the Garbhodaka Ocean?”
King Prithu replied, “My dear earth, you have disobeyed my orders. As one of the demigods, you have accepted your share of the sacrificial offerings, but in return you have not produced sufficient food grains. Although you are eating green grass daily, you are not filling your udders so that we can utilize your milk.”
“You have willfully committed this offense and so I must kill you. You have lost your good intelligence and so, despite my order, you do not deliver the seeds of herbs and grains that had been created by Lord Brahma and are now being hidden within you. Because of this, I will take my arrows, and after cutting you to pieces, I will satisfy the hungry citizens with your flesh.”
“Any cruel person who has no compassion for others and thus is only interested in his personal maintenance- whether he be a man, woman or eunuch, deserves to be killed by the king. Because you have become so proud, I will cut you into small pieces like grain and then uphold the entire population by the strength of my personal mystic prowess.”
As he spoke, King Prithu looked just like Yamaraja because of his great anger. After hearing his words, Dhara, the earth, who was still trembling due to fear replied as follows, “My dear lord, I am one of the parts and parcels of your gigantic universal body. You have created me as a resting place for the living entities, and so I am perplexed as to why you now want to kill me. Previously, in the form of Varaha, you rescued me from the depths of the Garbhodaka Ocean, and for this reason, you received the name Dharadhara. Now, however, you are prepared to kill me with your sharp arrows, and thus I am bewildered by your activities.”
Even after hearing the earth’s prayers, Maharaja Prithu was not pacified, and thus his lips trembled with rage. When she saw this, the earth continued speaking: “My lord, please suppress your anger and hear what I have to say, for a learned person will take the essence of knowledge from anyone, just as a bumblebee collects honey from each and every flower.”
“My dear King, the seeds, roots, herbs and grains that had been created by Lord Brahma were being utilized by the non-devotees, as was my very self. Because there was no proper king to punish these rascals and thieves that were utilizing the food grains for their sense gratification, instead of the performance of sacrifice, I hid them within me. Due to being stored for a long time, these seeds have certainly deteriorated and so you should immediately arrange to retrieve them for utilization as recommended by shastra and the previous acharyas.”
“O great hero, if you desire to supply sufficient grains and other food to the citizens, then you should arrange for a suitable calf, pot and milkman. Due to the great affection that I will feel for my calf, you will be able to take from me as much of the necessities of life as you like. In addition, if you level my surface, that will also help in the production of food by increasing the retention of water, even if there is sometimes less rainfall.”
King Prithu accepted this and thus he became pacified. Thereafter, he transformed Svayambhuva Manu into a calf and milked all of the herbs and grains from the cow-shaped earth, keeping them within his cupped hands. Then, following in King Prithu’s footsteps, other intelligent beings proceeded to milk the earth, to obtain whatever they desired.
The great rishis transformed Brihaspati into a calf and made the senses into a pot. In this way, they milked the earth of all kinds of Vedic knowledge for the purpose of purifying everyone’s mind, words and hearing. The demigods transformed Indra into a calf and milked the earth of the soma beverage, which they kept in a golden pot. Due to drinking soma-rasa, the demigods became very powerful in terms of bodily, sensual and mental strength.
The Daityas transformed Prahlada into a calf and then extracted various kinds of liquor and beer, which they kept in an iron pot. The Gandharvas and Apsaras transformed Vishvavasu into a calf and drew out milk in the form of sweet music and heavenly beauty, putting it into a lotus flower pot. The inhabitants of Pitriloka made Aryama into a calf and then milked the earth of kavya, which is food offered to the ancestors, and they put it into an unbaked earthen pot.
Thereafter, the Siddhas and Vidyadharas transformed the great sage Kapila into a calf and milked the earth of mystic powers, which they placed in a pot that had been made out of the entire sky. Others, such as the Kimpurushas made the demon Maya into a calf and milked the power of appearing and disappearing at will, called antardhana.
Next, the Yakshas, Rakshasas, Bhutas (ghosts), and Pisachas (witches), who are all accustomed to eating flesh, transformed the Rudra incarnation of Lord Shiva into a calf and milked beverages made from blood, which they placed into a pot made of skulls. Then, cobras and other snakes that are without hoods, as well as scorpions and other poisonous animals transformed Takshaka into a calf and took poison from the earth, and kept it within their snake holes.
The four-legged animals made Nandi, the bull-carrier of Lord Shiva into a calf and thus they got green grass that they put into a pot made from the forest. Ferocious animals made a calf from a lion and were thus able to get flesh from the earth. The birds made Garuda into a calf and then took from the earth various moving insects and non-moving plants and grasses. The trees made a calf out of a banyan tree and thus they derived milk in the form of many delicious juices. The mountains transformed the Himalayas into a calf and then milked varieties of minerals from the earth and placed them into a pot that had been made from the peaks of hills.
Thus, during the reign of King Prithu, the earth supplied all the necessities of life to every living creature. Because of this, Maharaja Prithu became very satisfied with the earth and developed affection for her just as if she were his own daughter. The king leveled the surface of the earth by breaking up the hills with his powerful bow, and after doing so, he divided the land into various types of residential quarters. These sections were then allotted for different purposes, and thus Prithu Maharaja established numerous towns, villages, agricultural fields and mining areas. Before the era of Prithu Maharaja, there were no planned cities, villages, farms or pasturing grounds, for everyone had simply constructed their residences according to their own convenience.
Some time thereafter, Prithu Maharaja initiated the performance of one hundred horse sacrifices at the place known as Brahmavarta, where the River Sarasvati flows toward the east. During this great sacrificial performance, the entire earth became like a kama-dhenu, and thus all kinds of necessities of life were produced in abundance. The oceans were full of pearls and jewels, and the mountains contained ample minerals, which were washed down by the rivers to fertilize the land. The cows supplied profuse milk, the trees gave abundant honey and fruit, and all of the demigods and men who attended the sacrifice presented various gifts to King Prithu.
Indra, who is known as shata-kratu, due to having performed one hundred ashvamedha-yagyas, could not tolerate the idea that Prithu Maharaja might exceed his religious performances, and so he became very envious. Thus, while Maharaja Prithu was performing the last of his one hundred ashvamedha-yagyas, Indra appeared there invisibly and stole the sacrificial horse. The great sage Atri could see Indra fleeing through outer space, and so he informed Prithu Maharaja’s son about the theft. The heroic prince immediately picked up his bow and gave chase to the King of heaven, and as he did so, he angrily challenged him by calling out, “Wait! Wait!”
Then, when King Prithu’s son saw that Indra was wearing the saffron-colored dress of a sannyasi, had ashes smeared over his body, and hair that was knotted on top of his head, he refrained from releasing his arrows, considering him to be a saintly person. Thereafter, when Prithu’s son returned to the sacrificial arena, after having been deceived by Indra, Atri ordered him by saying, “Kill the King of heaven, for he has become the worst of demigods by impending your father’s sacrifice.”
Once again Prithu’s son gave chase, and upon seeing this, Indra fearfully let go of the sacrificial horse, gave up his false dress, and made himself once again invisible. When the great sages saw King Prithu’s son return with the sacrificial horse, they greatly appreciated his wonderful prowess, and so gave him the name Vijitashva.
Soon after, the powerful Indra created dense darkness that began to engulf the entire sacrificial arena. Then, taking advantage of the confusion that followed, Indra released the horse from the golden shackles that had kept it bound up near to the wooden instrument used for sacrificing animals. Once again, Atri pointed out to Vijitashva, Indra fleeing through the sky. When the son of Prithu Maharaja gave chase, this time he saw that Indra was dressed as a sannyasi who carries a skull on the end of his staff. At first, Vijitashva was reluctant to attack the “saintly person”, but finally, at Atri’s insistence, he angrily placed an arrow on his bowstring. When Indra saw this, he immediately let go of the sacrificial horse and after giving up his false dress, he became invisible.
Again and again Indra attempted to steal King Prithu’s sacrificial horse, and while doing so, he became the originator of various false sannyasa orders, such as those who go naked, and others who call themselves Kapalika. Whatever forms Indra assumed should be recognized as symbols of atheistic philosophy, and although they may be very much appreciated by sinful men, those who adopt them are adherents of religion in dress only.
At last, King Prithu personally picked up his bow and arrows to kill Indra for having introduced so many bogus sannyasa orders. When the priests saw how the enraged Prithu was prepared to kill the King of heaven, they requested, “O King, do not slay Indra, for only animals are allowed to be sacrificed according to the directions of shastra. By trying to impede your sacrifice, Indra has already diminished his power. By utilizing certain mantras, we will call for him, and thus cast your enemy into the sacrificial fire.”
The sacrificial priests began summoning Indra in a very angry mood. Just as they were going to pour the oblations into the fire, however, Lord Brahma appeared there and forbade them.
Lord Brahma said, “My dear brahmanas, you should know that Indra is one of the most powerful assistants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. You are trying to satisfy the demigods by the performance of this yagya, but you should understand that they are all parts and parcels of Indra. How then can you think of killing the king of heaven? To impede King Prithu’s great sacrifice, Indra has already adopted many false orders of sannyasa that will destroy the clear path of religious life in the future. If you oppose him any further, he will continue to misuse his power, and thus introduce even more bogus systems of religion. Therefore, my dear brahmanas, I request that there be only 99 horse sacrifices performed by Maharaja Prithu.”
Then, turning to Prithu Maharaja, Lord Brahma said, “O King, since you are a great devotee, and thus thoroughly aware of the path of liberation, what is the use in performing any more sacrifices? Let there be good fortune for both you and King Indra, for you are both part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Since Indra is not different from you in that sense, you should not become angry with him.”
“My dear King, do not become agitated because your sacrifices were impeded by providence. We should always remember that if something happens by providential arrangement, then the more we try to rectify such reversals, the more we enter into the darkest regions of materialistic thought. Also, please consider the purpose of your incarnation. Because the irreligious principles created by Indra will become the mothers of so many unwanted pseudo-religions, I request you to put a stop to your sacrifices immediately.”
After receiving this advice, King Prithu abandoned his eagerness for performing sacrifices. Then he took his avabhritha bath, marking the completion of the yagya. At this time, Lord Vishnu, who was very satisfied with Maharaja Prithu’s performance of 99 ashvamedha-yagyas, appeared at the sacrificial arena, accompanied by King Indra and all of the demigods, great sages, and His personal associates, headed by Nanda and Sunanda.
Addressing Maharaja Prithu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead said, “My dear King, Indra, who had disturbed the execution of your one hundred horse sacrifices, has come here with Me to be forgiven by you. Therefore, you should excuse him. One who is advanced in intelligence becomes eager to perform welfare activities for others, and so he is considered to be the best among human beings. By always remembering that the material body is different from the soul, such persons are never malicious toward others.”
“My dear King Prithu, the devotee who is connected with Me in a relationship of intense friendship and affection, and thus is liberated from all material contamination, is fully satisfied. Due to his perfect knowledge and equal vision, such a devotee never becomes agitated by material happiness or distress. Therefore, please keep yourself always equipoised, and treat others equally while executing your duties as a king. If you continue to protect your subjects according to the teachings of the acharyas in disciplic succession, they will become very happy and love you without reservation.”
“My dear king, you will very soon attain the good fortune of meeting the great liberated sages, the four Kumaras. Now, because I am very pleased with your elevated qualities, I request you to ask Me for a benediction that will fulfill your desire.”
Indra was standing nearby, and when he heard Lord Vishnu’s speech, he became very ashamed to think how abominably he had acted. With great repentance, he fell down before Maharaja Prithu, to touch his lotus feet. Being a magnanimous Vaishnava, King Prithu had already given up all malice, and so he quickly picked up Indra and embraced him with great affection.
Thereafter, Prithu Maharaja very reverently worshiped the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu, and as he did so, his devotional ecstasy increased. Although the Lord was preparing to depart, He did not immediately do so, because of being greatly attracted by the pure behavior of his unalloyed devotee. King Prithu’s eyes were full of tears, and his voice faltered due to ecstasy, and thus he could not see the Lord very distinctly, nor could he properly speak. Therefore, he simply embraced the Lord within his heart while standing before Him with folded hands.
Lord Vishnu resides upon one of the planets within the universe, and at first did not allow His feet to touch the ground, due to playing the part of one of the demigods. However, after becoming fully satisfied with King Prithu’s behavior and character, the Lord at last placed His feet upon the earth. It appeared that Lord Vishnu had to rest His hand upon Garuda’s shoulder to keep His balance, as if unaccustomed to standing upon earthly ground. Maharaja Prithu could understand that the Lord acted in this way due to affection for him, and thus, while contemplating his great fortune, various ecstatic symptoms became manifest in his body.
Finally, after wiping away the tears from his eyes, King Prithu prayed as follows: “My dear Lord, You are capable of bestowing all kinds of benedictions upon Your worshipers. Therefore, why should an actually learned person ask You for the benefits that are enjoyed by the bewildered conditioned souls, or even the liberation of merging into Your existence, where there is no chance to receive the nectar of Your lotus feet? Instead, I wish to have the benediction of possessing at least one million ears, so that I may be able to properly hear about Your glories from the mouths of pure devotees.”
“My dear Lord, if one hears of Your glories even once in the assembly of pure devotees, he will never leave that association, unless he is no better than an animal. My only desire is to engage in the devotional service of Your lotus feet, just as the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi does. My only fear is that she and I may sometimes quarrel, due to our both being engaged in the same service, for even in the spiritual world there is competition, although it is certainly without malice.”
“My dear Lord, if Lakshmi happens to become angry with me for intruding upon her service, I hope that You will support me, since You are very much inclined to help the poor. Even if Lakshmi goes away due to anger, I think that there will be no harm, because You are self-sufficient and so You can easily do without her.”
“My dear Lord, I am Your unalloyed devotee, and so it is very bewildering that You are trying to allure me with facilities for material enjoyment. Only those persons who are bewildered by Your illusory energy, and thus have forgotten their real position, desire material happiness in terms of society, friendship and love. Such benedictions cannot be suitable for a pure devotee. Therefore, as the supreme father, please bestow upon me whatever You actually consider to be in my best interest.”
The Lord was very pleased that Prithu Maharaja did not ask for any material benediction, and so He congratulated him by saying, “My dear King, may you always remain blessed by constant engagement in My devotional service. As you have already very intelligently explained, it is only by such purity of purpose that one can cross over the insurmountable illusory energy, maya. You should always be very careful to painstakingly execute My orders, for anyone who faithfully carries out My instructions will meet with good fortune in all circumstances.”
Thereafter, King Prithu worshiped all of the demigods, great sages, and other living entities who had come to his sacrificial arena, by offering them sweet words and as much wealth as possible. Finally, after Maharaja Prithu once again worshiped Lord Vishnu with great respect, the Lord took His leave, and then returned to His own abode, after having captivated the minds of everyone, especially the king and all of the priests. After the Lord’s departure, King Prithu offered his obeisances and then returned to his capital, which had been very lavishly decorated to receive him.
Water that was scented with Sandalwood and aguru had been sprinkled all over, and throughout the city, there were decorations of unbroken fruit, flowers, wetted grains, minerals, and lamps. At every crossing, there were pillars made of banana trees and betel nut branches. As the king entered the city gate, the citizens received him with auspicious articles, such as lamps, flowers, and yogurt. He was also greeted by many beautiful, unmarried girls that were decorated with very costly ornaments.
As Maharaja Prithu entered his royal palace, the priests chanted the Vedic mantras while conch shells and drums sounded, and professional reciters offered prayers. Both the important and common citizens welcomed the king, and in return, he blessed them according to their desires. And yet, in spite of such an opulent reception, the king was affected in the least. Thus, with an equipoised mind, he continued ruling the earth, consisting of seven islands, without rival, and only the brahmanas and members of the achyuta-gotra (descendents of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or in other words, the devotees) could disobey his irrevocable orders.
Maharaja Prithu resided in the land between the Ganga and the Yamuna, and due to his incomparable opulence, it appeared as if he were enjoying his destined fortune so as to diminish the results of his past pious activities.
Sometime later on, Maharaja Prithu began the performance of a great sacrifice in which all of the foremost rishis, demigods, and saintly kings assembled. After having worshiped all of the respectable guests according to their respective positions, when King Prithu stood up in the midst of the assembly, it appeared as if the full moon had arisen amongst the stars.
Maharaja Prithu’s body was very tall and sturdy, and his complexion was fair. His eyes were as bright as the rising sun, and his teeth were set beautifully in his smiling face. His black hair was very fine and curly, and his neck was marked with auspicious lines like those on a conch shell.
After being initiated into the performance of the sacrifice, King Prithu took off his royal dress and put on black deerskin. Then, just to encourage them, King Prithu glanced over all of the assembled persons, and addressed them in a very grave voice. His speech was very pleasing and poetic, and the meaning, although very deep, was clearly understandable. As Maharaja Prithu spoke, it appeared that he was expressing his personal realization of the Absolute Truth, for the benefit of all present.
King Prithu said, “O gentle members of the assembly, may all good fortune be yours! By the grace of the Supreme Lord, I have been appointed the king of this planet, and I think that by the proper execution of my duties, I will be able to attain the supreme goal of my life. Any king who does not engage his subjects according to the system of varnashram, but instead, simply exacts taxes from them, is liable to suffer for their impious activities. Therefore, my dear citizens, please execute your duties properly, while thinking of the Supreme Personality of Godhead within your hearts, so that you will mercifully benefit your king in this life, as well as after death.”
“Please accept my proposal, because after death, the result of an action is shared equally by its doer, its director, and its supporter. It is not that the spectacular variety of living conditions that we see have come about by chance- there is a supreme director behind these arrangements, and this is confirmed by all authoritative scriptures. By possessing the inclination to serve the lotus feet of that supreme controller, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, suffering humanity can immediately cleanse the dirt that has accumulated in their minds over the span of innumerable births.”
“My dear citizens, you should enthusiastically render devotional service unto the Supreme Lord by engaging your minds, your words, your bodies, as well as the results of your occupational duties. You should know that the Supreme Personality of Godhead becomes especially pleased with those devotees who follow in His footsteps by engaging in the service of the brahmanas and Vaishnavas, without reservation, for they are always dear to Him, just as He is dear to them. Although the Supreme Lord certainly eats those offerings that are made into the sacrificial fire, He takes more pleasure in accepting the offerings made through the mouths of the brahmanas and pure devotees.”
“O respectable persons present here, I beg to receive your blessings so that I may perpetually carry upon my crown the dust from the lotus feet of such brahmanas and Vaishnavas. Whoever does so, acquires the qualities of those pure brahmanas, whose only wealth is their good behavior, and thus he receives all kinds of opulence without difficulty.”
After hearing Maharaja Prithu’s excellent speech, the members of the assembly heartily congratulated him as follows: “My dear King, the Vedic conclusion that one can conquer heaven as the result of the activities of a good son has been practically demonstrated by you. The most sinful King Vena has been delivered from the darkest regions of hell by you, his son- just as Hiranyakashipu had formerly been rescued by his son, Prahlada.”
“O dear King, since you are preaching the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we feel ourselves to be very fortunate, as if we are living directly under His merciful protection. Today you have opened our eyes and revealed the means for crossing to the other side of the ocean of darkness, in which we are immersed.”
As the citizens were offering their prayers in glorification of King Prithu, the four Kumaras arrived there, and they appeared as effulgent as the sun. Being very anxious to welcome the great sages, King Prithu immediately stood up with folded hands, along with his ministers.
After being worshiped with great respect, the four Kumaras took their seats upon a golden throne, and thus they appeared just like a blazing fire on an altar of sacrifice.
After bowing down and washing the sages’ feet, Maharaja Prithu took the water and sprinkled it over his head, just to show how one should receive a spiritually advanced personality.
Then, while displaying great gentleness and humility, King Prithu said, “My dear great sages, it is very difficult for even mystic yogis to see you, and so I do not know what kind of pious activity I had previously performed so that now you are gracing me by your presence. For one who pleases great brahmanas and Vaishnavas like yourselves, there is no difficulty in achieving anything in this world, or after death, for he automatically becomes favored by the Supreme Lord.”
“My dear sages, please describe to me how persons who are entangled in the dangerous condition of material existence, and thus whose only aim in life is sense gratification, can become blessed with good fortune? I am convinced that personalities such as yourselves are the only friends of those who are suffering in the blazing fire of material existence, and so I have inquired from you how they can very soon achieve life’s ultimate goal.”
After hearing Maharaja Prithu’s speech, which was meaningful and appropriate, Sanat-kumara smiled with satisfaction and replied, “My dear King, I have been very nicely questioned by you, for you are inquiring about the welfare of all living beings. In spite of already knowing everything, you are asking these questions because that is the natural behavior of saintly persons.”
“My dear Prithu Maharaja, it has been conclusively decided in shastra, after due consideration, that the ultimate welfare of human society is to gain detachment from the bodily concept of life, and to increase attachment for the Supreme Lord, who is beyond the influence of the modes of material nature. This attachment for the Supreme is attained by the execution of bhakti-yoga, beginning with hearing and chanting the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One should mold his life in such a way that he cannot live in peace for a moment without drinking the nectar of the glorification of the Lord. Only in this way can one lose his long-cherished taste for material sense gratification.”
“Such a devotee should lead a very simple life, and while carefully following the regulative principles, he should not blaspheme others. One should not associate with persons who are simply interested in making money and enjoying sense gratification, for when one’s mind and senses become attracted to sense objects for the purpose of enjoyment, the mind becomes very agitated. As a result, one’s real consciousness becomes covered and lost, just like the water in a lake that is gradually sucked up by the tall grass on its banks. There is no stronger obstruction to one’s self-interest than thinking that other subject matters are more pleasing than self-realization.”
“When one becomes completely devoid of spiritual knowledge, he gradually sinks down to the level of trees and stones. Therefore, my dear King, please try to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is living in the heart of everyone’s body, along with the individual soul, for it is unto Him alone that one must surrender.”
After thus being enlightened by Sanat-kumara, the son of Lord Brahma, King Prithu replied, “O brahmana, Lord Vishnu had formerly indicated that I would be favored by your appearance, and so to confirm this blessing, you have come here. Because it is my duty to offer you something, I hereby place my life, family members, palace, possessions, and indeed, my entire kingdom and treasury at your disposal, although I hesitate to do so because these things are the remnants left by others. I had received all of my opulence by the mercy of the brahmanas, and thus it is they who are actually the proprietors. We, the other three classes, simply accept whatever they leave for us as remnants. Great personalities, such as yourselves, cannot be properly repaid for their words of enlightenment, and thus I request you to be satisfied with your own exalted activities.”
The four Kumaras were very satisfied with Maharaja Prithu’s reception, and so with great pleasure they ascended into the sky to praise his character within everyone’s hearing. After the departure of the Kumaras, Maharaja Prithu continued to rule his kingdom, his only aim being to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. King Prithu begot five sons by his wife, Archi, and their names were Vijitashva, Dhumrakesha, Haryaksha, Dravina, and Vrika.
Maharaja Prithu was as strong as Indra, the King of heaven, and at the same time, he was as tolerant as the earth. Just as rainfall satisfies everyone’s desires, Maharaja Prithu distributed his mercy to all, and while engaged in executing some philanthropic work, he endeavored just as if he were working for his own self. He was like the sea in that no one could understand his depths, and like Mount Meru, he was fixed in his purpose. Maharaja Prithu’s opulence was compared with the Himalayan Mountains, where all kinds of valuable metals and jewels are stocked. Like the wind, his influence was felt everywhere. In terms of bodily beauty, he was just like Cupid; in thoughtfulness he was like a lion; and in terms of self-control he seemed to rival the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Maharaja Prithu’s reputation was loudly declared throughout the entire universe, and the ladies and devotees who heard of him found his character and activities to be as pleasing as Lord Ramachandra’s.
Finally, when Maharaja Prithu saw that he was getting old, he divided his wealth by giving pensions to all kinds of living entities, and then he handed over the rule of the earth to his sons. While surrounded by the citizens, who were shedding tears of grief due to impending separation, King Prithu departed from his palace and proceeded to the forest, along with his wife, to perform austerities.
While living in the forest, King Prithu sometimes ate the roots of trees, and sometimes he ate fruit and dry leaves. Sometimes, for weeks together, he would only drink water, and at last, he subsisted by simply breathing air. During the summer, Maharaja Prithu sat under the hot sun, while keeping himself surrounded on all four sides with blazing fires. During the rainy season, he exposed himself to the harsh weather; and in the winter, he entered the river and stood with water up to his neck. The king would lie down on the bare floor at night, he completely refrained from discharging semen, and he performed many other austerities meant for controlling the senses and life-air.
Because it was Satya-yuga, Maharaja Prithu practiced ashtanga-yoga as a means of performing devotional service, and as a result, he developed unflinching love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By constantly thinking of the lotus feet of the Lord, King Prithu became completely detached from the material conception of life, and thus was released from the clutches of false ego. At that time, he could directly see the Lord as Paramatma, seated within his heart. Due to having attained the perfect platform of being able to receive instructions directly from the Supreme Lord, King Prithu gave up the mechanical practice of yoga.
Finally, desiring to give up his body without waiting for a natural death, Maharaja Prithu sat down in a particular yoga posture whereby he blocked his anus with his ankles. By utilizing the knowledge of yoga that he had formerly acquired, the king gradually raised his life-air to the navel, then the heart, the throat, and then a position in between the eyebrows. From there, Maharaja Prithu raised his life-air to the skull’s brahma-randhra, at which time he began amalgamating the various elements within his body into the totality of those elements. This is accomplished by meditating inversely upon the creative process, step by step, up to the point of amalgamating the false ego with the mahat-tattva. By this method, Prithu Maharaja gave up his material body and then mounted the chariot that had come before him to take him back to Vaikuntha.
Queen Archi had followed her husband in his life of austerity, although her body was very delicate. She was not at all accustomed to the hardships of forest life, and so because of lying on the bare ground and eating only fruits, flowers and leaves, she became very lean and weak. Still, because of the pleasure that she derived from serving her husband, she did not feel even the slightest difficulty. When Queen Archi could perceive that her husband’s body no longer showed any sign of life, she lamented for only a little while, for she was a great wife of an exalted personality.
Without further ado, she built a funeral pyre on top of a hill, and then placed her husband’s body upon it so that it could be consumed in the blazing fire. Thereafter, Queen Archi executed all of the necessary religious rituals, and while bathing in the river, she offered oblations of water, as was customary. Finally, after offering her obeisances unto the demigods, Queen Archi circumambulated King Prithu’s body and then entered into the fire, while thinking of her husband’s lotus feet.
After observing this brave act, thousands of demigods and their wives, who were seated on top of Mount Mandara, showered flowers upon the funeral pyre as a token of honor.
With great satisfaction, the wives of the demigods glorified Queen Archi by talking amongst themselves as follows: “All glories to the wife of King Prithu, for she always served Lord Vishnu. Just see how the chaste Queen Archi is still following her husband upwards, as far as we can see. Although the lifespan of human beings is very short, they can easily go back to Godhead by engaging in the devotional service of the Lord. Therefore, anyone who has attained the rare human birth, and yet misuses the opportunity by laboring hard by performing fruitive activities, must be considered as cheated and envious of his own self.”
While the wives of the demigods were talking among themselves in this way, the airplane containing Queen Archi reached the Vaikuntha planet that her husband had attained.
Maitreya concludes this narration by declaring, “Anyone who reads, hears or describes the wonderful characteristics of Maharaja Prithu with faith and determination will also go to Vaikuntha. Anyone who hears this narration with great respect will become the father of many children if he is without any, and the richest of men even if he has no money. Whoever hears this narration three times will become very reputed within society, and even if he is illiterate, he will become a great scholar. In other words, hearing about Maharaja Prithu is so auspicious that it drives away all kinds of bad luck. Even if a pure devotee is situated in the transcendental position, due to being completely absorbed in Krishna consciousness, it is his duty to hear, and induce others to hear about the character and life of King Prithu. Whoever regularly reads this great history will certainly increase his faith and attraction for the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, which are the boat whereby one can cross over the ocean of nescience.”