Prabhupāda: Śukadeva Gosvāmī, śrī-śuka uvāca, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, the accepted spiritual master of King Parīkṣit, is replying to his inquiry, "What is the duty of a person who is going to die?" Parīkṣit Mahārāja was going to die within seven days. He was cursed by a brāhmaṇa boy to die within seven days. The reason is that the king was in the forest, engaged in hunting, and when he became tired he went to the cottage of a sage and asked him for water. But the sage was absorbed in meditation, could not hear him. So Parīkṣit Mahārāja, being thirsty, became angry, and there was a dead snake. So he, out of negligence, he took the dead snake and wrapped over the neck of the meditating sage. This news was spread, and his son, twelve years old only, he heard that his father was insulted. So immediately he cursed that this snake would bite him within seven days. So this news was brought, although the father, after his meditation was over, he was very sorry that such a great king has been cursed. So he was very, very sorry, but what can be done? The brāhmaṇa boy's curse must be effective. That because in those days brāhmaṇas, even by caste, was very, very strong in spiritual strength. So when Parīkṣit Mahārāja was informed that he was to die within seven days, he accepted the curse: "Yes, I was wrong to insult the sage." Otherwise, he could counteract; he was also very powerful. But he did not. So this is the history.
So immediately he left his kingdom, family, children, and went to the bank of the Ganges and sat down there, being prepared for the coming imminent death within seven days. So because he was emperor of the world... So he was going to die. This news was spread, and all big, big men, great saintly persons, even demigods, they also came to see him. And he was asking everyone, "What is my duty?" So at that time Śukadeva Gosvāmī also arrived there. Śukadeva Gosvāmī was young boy, but paramahaṁsa. So he was received in that big assembly as the great personality of knowledge. Even his father, Vyāsadeva, was present. So everyone stood up. His father also stood up to receive him, he was such a great personality. And then he was given nice seat, as is the custom, to give advice to Mahārāja Parīkṣit: "What was my duty?" But Parīkṣit Mahārāja was, from the beginning of his life, was a devotee himself, a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa. And he inquired, "Whether I shall devote or I shall absorb my mind with Kṛṣṇa consciousness?" because he was a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Many people gathered. They gave different advices: "Mahārāja, you do this at the time of death," and "Do that," "Do this." So there were many big, big persons. He was perplexed. But he was a devotee of Kṛṣṇa from the very beginning of his life, and thus he enquired, "Whether it is better to absorb the mind in Kṛṣṇa consciousness?" This was his question.
So in answer to his question, Śukadeva Gosvāmī replied, varīyān eṣa te praśnaḥ (SB 2.1.1): "My dear King..." Varīyān eṣa te praśnaḥ kṛto loka-hitaṁ nṛpa. Nṛpa, "the king," address. "My dear King, your inquiry is very glorified," varīyān eṣa te praśnaḥ kṛto loka-hitam, "because on account of this question, whatever I shall reply..." Means he knew. The reply is this Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Question was about Kṛṣṇa, and the reply is Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, eighteen thousand verses. And each and every verse is so important that if a serious student studies each and every verse, each verse will take at least one month to understand. And there are eighteen thousand verses, so for serious study of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, it will take eighteen thousand months. So eighteen thousand months meaning how many years? One thousand five hundred years. (laughter) It is such an important book, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Each verse is a new verse, not repetition of the same subject. And it is deeply thoughtful. And every verse is, as it is stated here, ātmavit-sammataḥ, approved by persons who are self-realized. Ātmavit. Ātmavit. Ātmā means self, and vit means one who knows, well aware of self-realization. They are called ātmavit.