SB Canto 1
After gaining victory in the Battle of Kurukṣetra, Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, the Emperor of the world, performed the Rājasūya sacrificial ceremony. The emperor, in those days, upon his ascendance to the throne, would send a challenge horse all over the world to declare his supremacy, and any ruling prince or king was at liberty to accept the challenge and express his tacit willingness either to obey or to disobey the supremacy of the particular emperor. One who accepted the challenge had to fight with the emperor and establish his own supremacy by victory. The defeated challenger would have to sacrifice his life, making a place for another king or ruler. So Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira also dispatched such challenging horses all over the world, and every ruling prince and king all over the world accepted Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira's leadership as the Emperor of the world. After this, all rulers of the world under the regime of Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira were invited to participate in the great sacrificial ceremony of Rājasūya. Such performances required hundreds of millions of dollars, and it was not an easy job for a petty king. Such a sacrificial ceremony, being too expensive and also difficult to perform under present circumstances, is now impossible in this age of Kali. Nor can anyone secure the required expert priesthood to take charge of the ceremony.
Having spoken thus, the great sage Nārada, along with his vīṇā, ascended into outer space. Yudhiṣṭhira kept his instruction in his heart and so was able to get rid of all lamentations.
Śrī Nāradajī is an eternal spaceman, having been endowed with a spiritual body by the grace of the Lord. He can travel in the outer spaces of both the material and spiritual worlds without restriction and can approach any planet in unlimited space within no time. We have already discussed his previous life as the son of a maidservant. Because of his association with pure devotees, he was elevated to the position of an eternal spaceman and thus had freedom of movement. One should therefore try to follow in the footsteps of Nārada Muni and not make a futile effort to reach other planets by mechanical means. Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira was a pious king, and therefore he could see Nārada Muni occasionally; anyone who desires to see Nārada Muni must first be pious and follow in the footsteps of Nārada Muni.
Once, when Mahārāja Parīkṣit was on his way to conquer the world, he saw the master of Kali-yuga, who was lower than a śūdra, disguised as a king and hurting the legs of a cow and bull. The King at once caught hold of him to deal sufficient punishment.
The purpose of a king's going out to conquer the world is not for self-aggrandizement. Mahārāja Parīkṣit went out to conquer the world after his ascendance to the throne, but this was not for the purpose of aggression on other states. He was the Emperor of the world, and all small states were already under his regime. His purpose in going out was to see how things were going on in terms of the godly state. The king, being the representative of the Lord, has to execute the will of the Lord duly. There is no question of self-aggrandizement. Thus as soon as Mahārāja Parīkṣit saw that a lower-class man in the dress of a king was hurting the legs of a cow and a bull, at once he arrested and punished him.
SB Canto 3
By hearing these topics from the sage (Nārada), the son of King Uttānapāda (Dhruva) was enlightened regarding the Personality of Godhead, and he ascended to the abode of the Lord, placing his feet over the head of death.
While quitting his body, Mahārāja Dhruva, the son of King Uttānapāda, was attended by personalities like Sunanda and others, who received him in the kingdom of God. He left this world at an early age, as a young boy, although he had attained the throne of his father and had several children of his own. Because he was due to quit this world, death was waiting for him. He did not care for death, however, and even with his present body he boarded a spiritual airplane and went directly to the planet of Viṣṇu because of his association with the great sage Nārada, who had spoken to him the narration of the pastimes of the Lord.
In one sense, absolute transcendental variegatedness is meant only for the devotees, not for others, because this distinct feature of transcendental variegatedness can be understood only by the mercy of the Supreme Lord and not by mental speculation or the ascending process. It is said that one can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead when one is even slightly favored by Him; otherwise, without His mercy, a man may speculate for thousands of years and not understand what is actually the Absolute Truth. This mercy can be perceived by the devotee when he is completely freed from contamination. It is stated, therefore, that only when all contamination is rooted out and the devotee is completely detached from material attractions can he receive this mercy of the Lord.
One may be very proud of his material advancement in knowledge, but he cannot be immune to the four principles of material existence, namely birth, death, old age and disease. It was the Lord's plan to teach people that even Hiraṇyakaśipu, who was so powerful and strongly built, could not live more than his destined duration of life. One may become as strong and puffed up as Hiraṇyakaśipu and bring under his control all the three worlds, but there is no possibility of continuing life eternally or keeping the conquered booty forever. So many emperors have ascended to power, and they are now lost in oblivion; that is the history of the world.
The woman, created by the Lord, is the representation of māyā, and one who associates with such māyā by accepting services must certainly know that this is the way of death, just like a blind well covered with grass.
Sometimes it happens that a rejected well is covered by grass, and an unwary traveler who does not know of the existence of the well falls down, and his death is assured. Similarly, association with a woman begins when one accepts service from her, because woman is especially created by the Lord to give service to man. By accepting her service, a man is entrapped. If he is not intelligent enough to know that she is the gateway to hellish life, he may indulge in her association very liberally. This is restricted for those who aspire to ascend to the transcendental platform. Even fifty years ago in Hindu society, such association was restricted. A wife could not see her husband during the daytime. Householders even had different residential quarters. The internal quarters of a residential house were for the woman, and the external quarters were for the man. Acceptance of service rendered by a woman may appear very pleasing, but one should be very cautious in accepting such service because it is clearly said that woman is the gateway to death, or forgetfulness of one's self. She blocks the path of spiritual realization.
A woman is generally fond of household prosperity, ornaments, furniture and dresses. She is satisfied when the husband supplies all these things sufficiently. The relationship between man and woman is very complicated, but the substance is that one who aspires to ascend to the transcendental stage of spiritual realization should be very careful in accepting the association of a woman. In the stage of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, however, such restriction of association may be slackened because if a man's and woman's attachment is not to each other but to Kṛṣṇa, then both of them are equally eligible to get out of the material entanglement and reach the abode of Kṛṣṇa. As it is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā, anyone who seriously takes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness—whether in the lowest species of life or a woman or of the less intelligent classes, such as the mercantile or laborer class—will go back home, back to Godhead, and reach the abode of Kṛṣṇa. A man should not be attached to a woman, nor should a woman be attached to a man. Both man and woman should be attached to the service of the Lord. Then there is the possibility of liberation from material entanglement for both of them.
SB Canto 4
If you at all desire to rise to the throne of the King, then you have to undergo severe austerities. First of all you must satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa, and then, when you are favored by Him because of such worship, you shall have to take your next birth from my womb.
Suruci was so envious of Dhruva Mahārāja that she indirectly asked him to change his body. According to her, first of all he had to die, then take his next body in her womb, and only then would it be possible for Dhruva Mahārāja to ascend the throne of his father.
The cause of all causes, the Absolute Truth, can be known from the Absolute Truth Himself, and not by our ascending process to reach Him. When the sun is not visible at night or when it is covered by a cloud in the day, it is not possible to uncover it, either by bodily or mental strength or by scientific instruments, although the sun is there in the sky. No one can say that he has discovered a torchlight so powerful that if one goes on a roof and focuses the torchlight on the night sky, the sun will then be seen. There is no such torchlight, nor is it possible.
When Dhruva Mahārāja was attempting to get on the transcendental plane, he saw death personified approach him. Not caring for death, however, he took advantage of the opportunity to put his feet on the head of death, and thus he got up on the airplane, which was as big as a house.
To take the passing away of a devotee and the passing away of a nondevotee as one and the same is completely misleading. While ascending the transcendental airplane, Dhruva Mahārāja suddenly saw death personified before him, but he was not afraid. Instead of death's giving him trouble, Dhruva Mahārāja took advantage of death's presence and put his feet on the head of death.
After observing the glories of Dhruva Mahārāja, the great sage Nārada, playing his vīṇā, went to the sacrificial arena of the Pracetās and very happily chanted the following three verses.
The great sage Nārada was the spiritual master of Dhruva Mahārāja. Certainly he was very glad to see Dhruva's glories. As a father is very happy to see the son's advancement in every respect, so the spiritual master is very happy to observe the ascendancy of his disciple.
It was already known that Vena was very severe and cruel; therefore, as soon as all the thieves and rogues in the state heard of his ascendance to the royal throne, they became very much afraid of him. Indeed, they hid themselves here and there as rats hide themselves from snakes.
When the government is very weak, rogues and thieves flourish. Similarly, when the government is very strong, all the thieves and rogues disappear or hide themselves. Of course Vena was not a very good king, but he was known to be cruel and severe. Thus the state at least became freed from thieves and rogues.
When the King ascended to the throne, he became all-powerful with eight kinds of opulences. Consequently he became too proud. By virtue of his false prestige, he considered himself to be greater than anyone. Thus he began to insult great personalities.
In this verse the word aṣṭa-vibhūtibhiḥ, meaning "by eight opulences," is very important. The king is supposed to possess eight kinds of opulences. By dint of mystic yoga practice, kings generally acquired these eight opulences. These kings were called rājarṣis, kings who were also great sages. By practicing mystic yoga, a rājarṣi could become smaller than the smallest, greater than the greatest, and could get whatever he desired. A rājarṣi could also create a kingdom, bring everyone under his control and rule everyone. These were some of the opulences of a king. King Vena, however, was not practiced in yoga, but he became very proud of his royal position nonetheless. Because he was not very considerate, he began to misuse his power and insult great personalities.
Saintly persons are generally aloof from social activities and the materialistic way of life. King Vena was supported by the saintly persons just to protect the citizens from the hands of rogues and thieves, but after his ascendance to the throne, he became a source of trouble to the sages. Saintly people are especially interested in performing sacrifices and austerities for the advancement of spiritual life, but Vena, instead of being obliged because of the saints' mercy, turned out to be their enemy because he prohibited them from executing their ordinary duties. A serpent who is maintained with milk and bananas simply stores poison in his teeth and awaits the day to bite his master.
SB Canto 5
When one is fully interested in the service of the Lord, he does not need to follow all the regulative principles enunciated in the Vedas. Of course, for an ordinary man, the Vedic principles are imperative. No one can avoid them. But when one has attained the perfection of devotional service, it is not very important to follow the Vedic principles. Lord Kṛṣṇa advised Arjuna to ascend to the platform of nistraiguṇya, the transcendental position above the Vedic principles.
- traiguṇya-viṣayā vedā
- nistraiguṇyo bhavārjuna
- nirdvandvo nitya-sattva-stho
- niryoga-kṣema ātmavān
"The Vedas mainly deal with the subject of the three modes of material nature. Rise above these modes, O Arjuna. Be transcendental to all of them. Be free from all dualities and from all anxieties for gain and safety, and be established in the Self." (BG 2.45)
SB Canto 6
Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (8.7) that by the process of bhakti-yoga one undoubtedly goes back to Godhead, back home to the spiritual world. Yogīs, however, instead of going directly to the spiritual world, sometimes want to see other planetary systems, and therefore they ascend to the planetary system where Lord Brahmā lives, as indicated here by the word brahmaṇā. At the time of dissolution, Lord Brahmā, along with all the inhabitants of Brahmaloka, goes directly to the spiritual world.
SB Canto 7
"One who engages in full devotional service, who does not fall down under any circumstance, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman." Thus a devotee's position is secure. A devotee is at once elevated to the spiritual platform. Others, such as jñānīs and haṭha-yogīs, can only gradually ascend to the spiritual platform by nullifying their material discrimination on the platform of psychology and nullifying the false ego, by which one thinks, "I am this body, a product of matter." One must merge the false ego into the total material energy and merge the total material energy into the supreme energetic. This is the process of becoming free from material attraction.
When those who follow the pravṛtti-mārga have enjoyed heavenly sense pleasure, they return to this mortal planet again. Thus, through the Vedic principles, they achieve only flickering happiness." Following the pravṛtti-mārga, the living entity who desires to be promoted to the higher planetary systems performs sacrifices regularly, and how he goes up and comes down again is described here in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, as well as in Bhagavad-gītā. It is also said, traiguṇya-viṣayā vedāḥ: "The Vedas deal mainly with the three modes of material nature." The Vedas, especially three Vedas, namely Sāma, Yajur and Ṛk, vividly describe this process of ascending to the higher planets and returning. But Kṛṣṇa advises Arjuna, traiguṇya-viṣayā vedā nistraiguṇyo bhavārjuna: one has to transcend these three modes of material nature, and then one will be released from the cycle of birth and death.
SB Canto 8
Those fools and rascals who want to ascend to the upper planetary system by mystic power or mechanical means, or who endeavor to cross even the upper planets and achieve the spiritual world or liberation, I cause to be sent to the lowest region of the universe.
There are undoubtedly different planetary systems for different persons. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (14.18), ūrdhvaṁ gacchanti sattva-sthāḥ: persons in the mode of goodness can go to the upper planets. Those in the modes of darkness and passion, however, are not allowed to enter the higher planets. The word divam refers to the higher planetary system known as Svargaloka. Indra, King of the higher planetary system, has the power to push down any conditioned soul attempting to go from the lower to the higher planets without proper qualifications. The modern attempt to go to the moon is also an attempt by inferior men to go to Svargaloka by artificial, mechanical means. This attempt cannot be successful. From this statement of Indra it appears that anyone attempting to go to the higher planetary systems by mechanical means, which are here called māyā, is condemned to go the hellish planets in the lower portion of the universe. To go to the higher planetary system, one needs sufficient good qualities. A sinful person situated in the mode of ignorance and addicted to drinking, meat-eating and illicit sex will never enter the higher planets by mechanical means.
SB Cantos 10.14 to 12 (Translations Only)
As the ladies of Vraja loudly sang the glories of lotus-eyed Kṛṣṇa, their songs blended with the sound of their churning, ascended to the sky and dissipated all inauspiciousness in every direction.
If the brahmacārī student desires to ascend to the Maharloka or Brahmaloka planets, then he should completely surrender his activities to the spiritual master and, observing the powerful vow of perpetual celibacy, dedicate himself to superior Vedic studies.