Once upon a time, Sudyumna went on tour with his ministers. At the foot of the mountain Sumeru there is a forest named Sukumāra, and as soon as they entered that forest, they were all transformed into women. When Mahārāja Parīkṣit inquired from Śukadeva Gosvāmī about the reason for this transformation, Śukadeva Gosvāmī described how Sudyumna, being transformed into a woman, accepted Budha, the son of the moon, as her husband and had a son named Purūravā. By the grace of Lord Śiva, Sudyumna received the benediction that he would live one month as a woman and one month as a man. Thus he regained his kingdom and had three sons, named Utkala, Gaya and Vimala, who were all very religious. Thereafter, he entrusted his kingdom to Purūravā and took the order of vānaprastha life.
Inquire (SB cantos 9 - 12)
SB Canto 9
The King, after hearing the statement of his daughter, certainly told the great sage Cyavana Muni everything about how his daughter had ignorantly committed such an offense. The muni, however, inquired from the King whether the daughter was married. In this way, the King, understanding the purpose of the great sage Cyavana Muni (tad-abhiprāyam ājñāya), immediately gave the muni his daughter in charity and escaped the danger of being cursed. Thus with the permission of the great sage the King returned home.
Taking his own daughter, Revatī, Kakudmī went to Lord Brahmā in Brahmaloka, which is transcendental to the three modes of material nature, and inquired about a husband for her.
Nābhāga inquired, "My dear brothers, what have you given to me as my share of our father's property?" His elder brothers answered, "We have kept our father as your share." But when Nābhāga went to his father and said, "My dear father, my elder brothers have given you as my share of property," the father replied, "My dear son, do not rely upon their cheating words. I am not your property."
Nābhāga then said, "These riches belong to me. The great saintly persons have delivered them to me." When Nābhāga said this, the black-looking person replied, "Let us go to your father and ask him to settle our disagreement." In accordance with this, Nābhāga inquired from his father.
King Parīkṣit inquired: O great personality, Mahārāja Ambarīṣa was certainly most exalted and meritorious in character. I wish to hear about him. How surprising it is that the curse of a brāhmaṇa, which is insurmountable, could not act upon him.
When the brāhmaṇas got up from bed and saw the waterpot empty, they inquired who had done this work of drinking the water meant for begetting a child.
The son of Aśmaka was known as Bālika. He was protected from the curse of Paraśurāma because of being surrounded by many women, and therefore he is also known as Nārīkavaca. When the entire world was devoid of kṣatriyas, he became the original father of more kṣatriyas. He is therefore sometimes called Mūlaka. From Bālika, Daśaratha was born, from Daśaratha came Aiḍaviḍi, and from Aiḍaviḍi came Viśvasaha. The son of Viśvasaha was Mahārāja Khaṭvāṅga. Mahārāja Khaṭvāṅga joined the demigods in fighting the demons and was victorious, and the demigods therefore wanted to give him a benediction. But when the King inquired how long he would live and understood that his life would last only a few seconds more, he immediately left the heavenly planets and returned to his own abode by airplane. He could understand that everything in this material world is insignificant, and thus he fully engaged in worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari.
King Khaṭvāṅga was unconquerable in any fight. Requested by the demigods to join them in fighting the demons, he won victory, and the demigods, being very pleased, wanted to give him a benediction. The King inquired from them about the duration of his life and was informed that he had only one moment more. Thus he immediately left his palace and went to his own residence, where he engaged his mind fully on the lotus feet of the Lord.
"Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth." Unless one is tattva-darśī, in complete knowledge of the Absolute Truth, one cannot describe the activities of the Personality of Godhead. Therefore although there are many so-called Rāmāyaṇas, or histories of Lord Rāmacandra's activities, some of them are not actually authoritative. Sometimes Lord Rāmacandra's activities are described in terms of one's own imaginations, speculations or material sentiments. But the characteristics of Lord Rāmacandra should not be handled as something imaginary. While describing the history of Lord Rāmacandra, Śukadeva Gosvāmī told Mahārāja Parīkṣit, "You have already heard about the activities of Lord Rāmacandra."
Mahārāja Parīkṣit inquired from Śukadeva Gosvāmī: How did the Lord conduct Himself, and how did He behave in relationship with His brothers, who were expansions of His own self? And how did His brothers and the inhabitants of Ayodhyā treat Him?
King Parīkṣit inquired from Śukadeva Gosvāmī: What was the offense that the kṣatriyas who could not control their senses committed before Lord Paraśurāma, the incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for which the Lord annihilated the kṣatriya dynasty again and again?
Seeing the beautiful woman, the King was very much enlivened, and the fatigue of his hunting excursion was relieved. He was of course very much attracted because of lusty desires, and thus he inquired from her as follows, in a joking mood.
SB Canto 10.1 to 10.13
What did Kṛṣṇa do in Mathurā and Vṛndāvana, and why did He kill His maternal uncle Kaṁsa? For how many years did Kṛṣṇa reside in Dvārakā, and how many queens did He have? Mahārāja Parīkṣit asked Śukadeva Gosvāmī all these questions. He also requested Śukadeva Gosvāmī to describe other activities of Kṛṣṇa about which he could not inquire.
When Śukadeva Gosvāmī began to speak about Kṛṣṇa consciousness, Mahārāja Parīkṣit forgot the fatigue brought about by his fasting. Enthusiastic to describe Kṛṣṇa, Śukadeva Gosvāmī said, "Like the waters of the Ganges, descriptions of the activities of Kṛṣṇa can purify the entire universe. The speaker, the inquirer and the audience all become purified."
These are inquiries about the itinerary of Kṛṣṇa. Just after His birth in the house of Vasudeva in Mathurā, Kṛṣṇa transferred Himself to Gokula, on the other side of the Yamunā, and after some days He moved with His father, mother and other relatives to Nanda-grāma, Vṛndāvana. Mahārāja Parīkṣit was very much eager to hear about Kṛṣṇa's activities in Vṛndāvana. This entire canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is full of activities performed in Vṛndāvana and Dvārakā. The first forty chapters describe Kṛṣṇa's Vṛndāvana affairs, and the next fifty describe Kṛṣṇa's activities in Dvārakā. Mahārāja Parīkṣit, to fulfill his desire to hear about Kṛṣṇa, requested Śukadeva Gosvāmī to describe these activities in full detail.
O great sage, who know everything about Kṛṣṇa, please describe in detail all the activities of which I have inquired and also those of which I have not, for I have full faith and am very eager to hear of them.
The Ganges, emanating from the toe of Lord Viṣṇu, purifies the three worlds, the upper, middle and lower planetary systems. Similarly, when one asks questions about the pastimes and characteristics of Lord Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa, three varieties of men are purified: the speaker or preacher, he who inquires, and the people in general who listen.
"Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth." Vasudeva begot the Supreme Personality of Godhead, yet he was in full knowledge of how the Supreme Lord appears and disappears. He was therefore tattva-darśī, a seer of the truth, because he personally saw how the Supreme Absolute Truth appeared as his son. Vasudeva was not in ignorance, thinking that because the Supreme Godhead had appeared as his son, the Lord had become limited. The Lord is unlimitedly existing and all-pervading, inside and outside. Thus there is no question of His appearance or disappearance.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Third Canto, Fourth Chapter, verses 28 and 29, there is a description of Kṛṣṇa's leaving His body. Mahārāja Parīkṣit inquired from Śukadeva Gosvāmī, "When all the members of the Yadu dynasty met their end, Kṛṣṇa also put an end to Himself, and the only member of the family who remained alive was Uddhava. How was this possible?" Śukadeva Gosvāmī answered that Kṛṣṇa, by His own energy, destroyed the entire family and then thought of making His own body disappear. In this connection, Śukadeva Gosvāmī described how the Lord gave up His body. But this was not the destruction of Kṛṣṇa's body; rather, it was the disappearance of the Supreme Lord by His personal energy.
The word kālaḥ is significant. Although the child was born to kill Kaṁsa, Kaṁsa thought that this was the proper time to kill the child so that he himself would be saved. Kāla is actually another name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead when He appears only for the purpose of killing. When Arjuna inquired from Kṛṣṇa in His universal form, "Who are You?" the Lord presented Himself as kāla, death personified to kill. By nature's law, when there is an unwanted increase in population, kāla appears, and by some arrangement of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, people are killed wholesale in different ways, by war, pestilence, famine and so on. At that time, even atheistic political leaders go to a church, mosque or temple for protection by God or gods and submissively say, "God willing."
In Mathurā, Nanda Mahārāja met Vasudeva. Nanda Mahārāja and Vasudeva were brothers, and Vasudeva praised Nanda Mahārāja's good fortune because he knew that Kṛṣṇa had accepted Nanda Mahārāja as His father. When Vasudeva inquired from Nanda Mahārāja about the welfare of the child, Nanda Mahārāja informed him all about Vṛndāvana, and Vasudeva was very much satisfied by this, although he expressed his grief because Devakī's many children had been killed by Kaṁsa. Nanda Mahārāja consoled Vasudeva by saying that everything happens according to destiny and that one who knows this is not aggrieved. Expecting many disturbances in Gokula, Vasudeva then advised Nanda Mahārāja not to wait in Mathurā, but to return to Vṛndāvana as soon as possible. Thus Nanda Mahārāja took leave of Vasudeva and returned to Vṛndāvana with the other cowherd men on their bullock carts.
O Mahārāja Parīkṣit, having thus been received and welcomed by Nanda Mahārāja with honor, Vasudeva sat down very peacefully and inquired about his own two sons because of intense love for them.
At an advanced age one generally cannot beget a male child. If by chance one does beget a child at this age, the child is generally female. Thus Vasudeva indirectly asked Nanda Mahārāja whether he had actually begotten a male child or a female child. Vasudeva knew that Yaśodā had given birth to a female child, whom he had stolen and replaced with a male child. This was a great mystery, and Vasudeva wanted to determine whether this mystery was already known to Nanda Mahārāja. On inquiring, however, he was confident that the mystery of Kṛṣṇa's birth and His being placed in the care of Yaśodā was still hidden. There was no danger, since Kaṁsa at least could not learn what had already happened.
For human happiness, one must care for the animals, especially the cows. Vasudeva therefore inquired whether there was a good arrangement for the animals where Nanda Mahārāja lived. For the proper pursuit of human happiness, there must be arrangements for the protection of cows. This means that there must be forests and adequate pasturing grounds full of grass and water. If the animals are happy, there will be an ample supply of milk, from which human beings will benefit by deriving many milk products with which to live happily. As enjoined in Bhagavad-gītā (18.44), kṛṣi-go-rakṣya-vāṇijyaṁ vaiśya-karma-svabhāvajam. Without giving proper facilities to the animals, how can human society be happy? That people are raising cattle to send to the slaughterhouse is a great sin. By this demoniac enterprise, people are ruining their chance for a truly human life. Because they are not giving any importance to the instructions of Kṛṣṇa, the advancement of their so-called civilization resembles the crazy efforts of men in a lunatic asylum.
Having heard of the great fortune of mother Yaśodā, Parīkṣit Mahārāja inquired from Śukadeva Gosvāmī: O learned brāhmaṇa, mother Yaśodā's breast milk was sucked by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. What past auspicious activities did she and Nanda Mahārāja perform to achieve such perfection in ecstatic love?
As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (7.16), catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ janāḥ sukṛtino 'rjuna. Without sukṛti, or pious activities, no one can come to the shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Lord is approached by four kinds of pious men (ārto jijñāsur arthārthī jñānī ca), but here we see that Nanda Mahārāja and Yaśodā surpassed all of them. Therefore Parīkṣit Mahārāja naturally inquired, "What kind of pious activities did they perform in their past lives by which they achieved such a stage of perfection?" Of course, Nanda Mahārāja and Yaśodā are accepted as the father and mother of Kṛṣṇa, yet mother Yaśodā was more fortunate than Nanda Mahārāja, Kṛṣṇa's father, because Nanda Mahārāja was sometimes separated from Kṛṣṇa whereas Yaśodā, Kṛṣṇa's mother, was not separated from Kṛṣṇa at any moment. From Kṛṣṇa's babyhood to His childhood and from His childhood to His youth, mother Yaśodā was always in association with Kṛṣṇa. Even when Kṛṣṇa was grown up, He would go to Vṛndāvana and sit on the lap of mother Yaśodā. Therefore there is no comparison to the fortune of mother Yaśodā, and Parīkṣit Mahārāja naturally inquired, yaśodā ca mahā-bhāgā.
This means that whenever Kṛṣṇa descends, Nanda and Yaśodā, as well as Vasudeva and Devakī, also descend as the Lord's father and mother. Their personalities are expansions of Kṛṣṇa's personal body; they are not ordinary living beings. Mahārāja Parīkṣit knew this, but he was curious to know from Śukadeva Gosvāmī whether it is possible for an ordinary human being to come to this stage by sādhana-siddhi. There are two kinds of perfection—nitya-siddhi and sādhana-siddhi. A nitya-siddha is one who is eternally Kṛṣṇa's associate, an expansion of Kṛṣṇa's personal body, whereas a sādhana-siddha is an ordinary human being who, by executing pious activities and following regulative principles of devotional service, also comes to that stage. Thus the purpose of Mahārāja Parīkṣit's inquiry was to determine whether an ordinary human being can attain the position of mother Yaśodā and Nanda Mahārāja. Śukadeva Gosvāmī answered this question as follows.
King Parīkṣit inquired from Śukadeva Gosvāmī: O great and powerful saint, what was the cause of Nalakūvara's and Maṇigrīva's having been cursed by Nārada Muni? What did they do that was so abominable that even Nārada, the great sage, became angry at them? Kindly describe this to me.
When a sādhu chastises or punishes someone, he does not do so for revenge. Mahārāja Parīkṣit had inquired why Nārada Muni was subject to such a spirit of revenge (tamaḥ). But this was not tamaḥ, for Nārada Muni, in full knowledge of what was for the good of the two brothers, wisely thought of how to cure them. Vaiṣṇavas are good physicians. They know how to protect a person from material disease. Thus they are never in tamo-guṇa. Sa guṇān samatītyaitān brahma-bhūyāya kalpate (BG 14.26). Vaiṣṇavas are always situated on the transcendental platform, the Brahman platform. They cannot be subject to mistakes or the influence of the modes of material nature. Whatever they do, after full consideration, is meant just to lead everyone back home, back to Godhead.
When the yamala-arjuna trees fell, they made a tremendous sound, like that of falling thunderbolts. Being surprised, Kṛṣṇa's father, Nanda, and the other elderly inhabitants of Gokula went to the spot, where they saw the fallen trees and Kṛṣṇa standing between them, bound to the ulūkhala, the wooden mortar. They could find no cause for the trees' having fallen and Kṛṣṇa's being there. They thought this might be the work of some other asura who had met Kṛṣṇa on this spot, and they inquired from the playmates of Kṛṣṇa about how the whole incident had taken place. The children properly described how everything had happened, but the elderly persons could not believe the story. Some of them, however, thought that it might be true, since they had already seen many wonderful incidents in connection with Kṛṣṇa. Anyway, Nanda Mahārāja immediately released Kṛṣṇa from the ropes.
When this pastime was performed, Kṛṣṇa was only five years old. One year later, when He was six years old and He stepped into the paugaṇḍa age, this pastime was disclosed to the inhabitants of Vraja. Parīkṣit Mahārāja inquired, "Why is it that this pastime was disclosed only after one year and yet the inhabitants of Vraja thought that it had been performed that very day?" With this question, the Twelfth Chapter ends.
Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī said: O learned saints, the childhood pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa are very wonderful. Mahārāja Parīkṣit, after hearing about those pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, who had saved him in the womb of his mother, became steady in his mind and again inquired from Śukadeva Gosvāmī to hear about those pious activities.
Mahārāja Parīkṣit inquired: O great sage, how could things done in the past have been described as being done at the present? Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa performed this pastime of killing Aghāsura during His kaumāra age. How then, during His paugaṇḍa age, could the boys have described this incident as having happened recently?
Sūta Gosvāmī said: O Śaunaka, greatest of saints and devotees, when Mahārāja Parīkṣit inquired from Śukadeva Gosvāmī in this way, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, immediately remembering subject matters about Kṛṣṇa within the core of his heart, externally lost contact with the actions of his senses. Thereafter, with great difficulty, he revived his external sensory perception and began to speak to Mahārāja Parīkṣit about kṛṣṇa-kathā.
When Kṛṣṇa was unable to find the calves and boys, He could understand that this was a trick performed by Brahmā. Then the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the cause of all causes, in order to please Lord Brahmā, as well as His own associates and their mothers, expanded Himself to become the calves and boys, exactly as they were before. In this way, He discovered another pastime. A special feature of this pastime was that the mothers of the cowherd boys thus became more attached to their respective sons, and the cows became more attached to their calves. After nearly a year, Baladeva observed that all the cowherd boys and calves were expansions of Kṛṣṇa. Thus He inquired from Kṛṣṇa and was informed of what had happened.
Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: O best of devotees, most fortunate Parīkṣit, you have inquired very nicely, for although constantly hearing the pastimes of the Lord, you are perceiving His activities to be newer and newer.
The cows had younger calves who had started sucking milk from their mothers, and some of the cows had newly given birth, but now, because of love, the cows enthusiastically showed their affection for the older calves, which had left off milking. These calves were grown up, but still the mothers wanted to feed them. Therefore Balarāma was a little surprised, and He wanted to inquire from Kṛṣṇa about the reason for their behavior. The mothers were actually more anxious to feed the older calves, although the new calves were present, because the older calves were expansions of Kṛṣṇa. These surprising events were taking place by the manipulation of yogamāyā. There are two māyās working under the direction of Kṛṣṇa-mahāmāyā, the energy of the material world, and yogamāyā, the energy of the spiritual world. These uncommon events were taking place because of the influence of yogamāyā. From the very day on which Brahmā stole the calves and boys, yogamāyā acted in such a way that the residents of Vṛndāvana, including even Lord Balarāma, could not understand how yogamāyā was working and causing such uncommon things to happen. But as yogamāyā gradually acted, Balarāma in particular was able to understand what was happening, and therefore He inquired from Kṛṣṇa.
This increase of affection was not māyā; rather, because Kṛṣṇa had expanded Himself as everything and because the whole life of everyone in Vṛndāvana was meant for Kṛṣṇa, the cows, because of affection for Kṛṣṇa, had more affection for the older calves than for the new calves, and the men increased in their affection for their sons. Balarāma was astonished to see all the residents of Vṛndāvana so affectionate toward their own children, exactly as they had been for Kṛṣṇa. Similarly, the cows had grown affectionate toward their calves—as much as toward Kṛṣṇa. Balarāma was surprised to see the acts of yogamāyā. Therefore He inquired from Kṛṣṇa, "What is happening here? What is this mystery?"
Inquiring from Kṛṣṇa about the actual situation, Lord Balarāma said, "My dear Kṛṣṇa, in the beginning I thought that all these cows, calves and cowherd boys were either great sages and saintly persons or demigods, but at the present it appears that they are actually Your expansions. They are all You; You Yourself are playing as the calves and cows and boys. What is the mystery of this situation? Where have those other calves and cows and boys gone? And why are You expanding Yourself as the cows, calves and boys? Will You kindly tell Me what is the cause?" At the request of Balarāma, Kṛṣṇa briefly explained the whole situation: how the calves and boys were stolen by Brahmā and how He was concealing the incident by expanding Himself so that people would not know that the original cows, calves and boys were missing. Balarāma understood, therefore, that this was not māyā but Kṛṣṇa's opulence. Kṛṣṇa has all opulences, and this was but another opulence of Kṛṣṇa.
"At first," Lord Balarāma said, "I thought that these boys and calves were a display of the power of great sages like Nārada, but now I see that all these boys and calves are You." After inquiring from Kṛṣṇa, Lord Balarāma understood that Kṛṣṇa Himself had become many.
On the day when Lord Brahmā had first come, Baladeva could not go with Kṛṣṇa and the cowherd boys, for it was His birthday, and His mother had kept Him back for the proper ceremonial bath, called śāntika-snāna. Therefore Lord Baladeva was not taken by Brahmā at that time. Now, one year later, Brahmā returned, and because he returned on exactly the same day, Baladeva was again kept at home for His birthday. Therefore, although this verse mentions that Brahmā saw Kṛṣṇa and all the cowherd boys, Baladeva is not mentioned. It was five or six days earlier that Baladeva had inquired from Kṛṣṇa about the extraordinary affection of the cows and cowherd men, but now, when Brahmā returned, Brahmā saw all the calves and cowherd boys playing with Kṛṣṇa as expansions of Kṛṣṇa, but he did not see Baladeva. As in the previous year, Lord Baladeva did not go to the woods on the day Lord Brahmā appeared there.
The word nāthāḥ, which refers to Lord Brahmā, is plural because there are innumerable universes and innumerable Brahmās. Brahmā is but a tiny force. This was exhibited in Dvārakā when Kṛṣṇa called for Brahmā. One day when Brahmā came to see Kṛṣṇa at Dvārakā, the doorman, at Lord Kṛṣṇa's request, asked, "Which Brahmā are you?" Later, when Brahmā inquired from Kṛṣṇa whether this meant that there was more than one Brahmā, Kṛṣṇa smiled and at once called for many Brahmās from many universes. The four-headed Brahmā of this universe then saw innumerable other Brahmās coming to see Kṛṣṇa and offer their respects. Some of them had ten heads, some had twenty, some had a hundred and some had a million heads. Upon seeing this wonderful exhibition, the four-headed Brahmā became nervous and began to think of himself as no more than a mosquito in the midst of many elephants. Therefore, what can Brahmā do to bewilder Kṛṣṇa?
SB Cantos 10.14 to 12 (Translations Only)
Since you inquired from me, I have fully described to you those activities of Lord Hari that were performed in His fifth year but not celebrated until His sixth.
King Parīkṣit inquired: O learned sage, please explain how the Supreme Personality of Godhead chastised the serpent Kāliya within the unfathomable waters of the Yamunā, and how it was that Kāliya had been living there for so many ages.
(Having thus heard how Lord Kṛṣṇa chastised Kāliya,) King Parīkṣit inquired: Why did Kāliya leave Ramaṇaka Island, the abode of the serpents, and why did Garuḍa become so antagonistic toward him alone?
Being the omniscient Supersoul, the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa already understood the situation, yet He still humbly inquired from the elders, headed by His father, Nanda Mahārāja.
And then Lord Kṛṣṇa's elder brother, the foremost of the Yadus, will grasp my joined hands while I am still standing with my head bowed, and after embracing me He will take me to His house. There He will honor me with all items of ritual welcome and inquire from me about how Kaṁsa has been treating His family members.
As Akrūra stood with his head bowed, Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa (Balarāma) grasped his joined hands, and then Balarāma took him to His house in the company of Lord Kṛṣṇa. After inquiring from Akrūra whether his trip had been comfortable, Balarāma offered him a first-class seat, bathed his feet in accordance with the injunctions of scripture and respectfully served him milk with honey.
Honored by Nanda Mahārāja with these true and pleasing words of inquiry, Akrūra forgot the fatigue of his journey.
ukadeva Gosvāmī said: As He walked down the King's road, Lord Mādhava then saw a young hunchback woman with an attractive face, who carried a tray of fragrant ointments as she walked along. The bestower of the ecstasy of love smiled and inquired from her as follows.
After Uddhava had eaten first-class food, been seated comfortably on a bed and been relieved of his fatigue by a foot massage and other means, Nanda inquired from him as follows.
Noting the brāhmaṇa's joyful face and serene movements, saintly Rukmiṇī, who could expertly interpret such symptoms, inquired from him with a pure smile.
Mahārāja Parīkṣit inquired: O brāhmaṇa, what did King Satrājit do to offend Lord Kṛṣṇa? Where did he get the Syamantaka jewel, and why did he give his daughter to the Supreme Lord?
The Lord then went to see His aunt, Queen Kuntī. He bowed down to her and she embraced Him, her eyes moist with great affection. Lord Kṛṣṇa inquired from her and her daughter-in-law, Draupadī, about their welfare, and they in turn questioned Him at length about His relatives (in Dvārakā).
Sent by his friend, Arjuna approached the exceptional young woman, who possessed beautiful hips, fine teeth and a lovely face, and inquired from her as follows.
Bāṇāsura had a minister named Kumbhāṇḍa, whose daughter was Citralekhā. A companion of Ūṣā's, she was filled with curiosity, and thus she inquired from her friend.
Lord Kṛṣṇa understood the situation, but to inform people in general He inquired as follows: "Who are you, O greatly fortunate one? Seeing your excellent form, I think you must surely be an exalted demigod.
After both parties had heard that their relatives were doing well and both had inquired into each other's welfare and health, Lord Balarāma forthrightly spoke to the Kurus as follows.
They all then offered obeisances to their elders and received respect in turn from their younger relatives. After inquiring from one another about the comfort of their trip and their well-being, they proceeded to talk about Kṛṣṇa.
The Supreme Lord approached the gopīs in a secluded place as they stood in their ecstatic trance. After embracing each of them and inquiring about their well-being, He laughed and spoke as follows.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Thus Lord Kṛṣṇa, the spiritual master of the gopīs and the very purpose of their life, showed them His mercy. He then met with Yudhiṣṭhira and all His other relatives and inquired from them about their welfare.
Feeling greatly honored, King Yudhiṣṭhira and the others, freed of all sinful reactions by seeing the feet of the Lord of the universe, gladly answered His inquiries.
How is it that people who are not very austere and who recognize God only in His Deity form in the temple can now see you, touch you, inquire from you, bow down to you, worship your feet and serve you in other ways?
King Parīkṣit inquired: How could the brāhmaṇas curse the Vṛṣṇis, who were always respectful to the brāhmaṇas, charitable, and inclined to serve senior and exalted personalities and whose minds were always fully absorbed in thought of Lord Kṛṣṇa?
King Parīkṣit continued inquiring: What was the motive for this curse? What did it consist of, O purest of the twice-born? And how could such a disagreement have arisen among the Yadus, who all shared the same goal of life? Please tell me all these things.
To that holy place, the young boys of the Yadu dynasty had brought Sāmba, son of Jāmbavatī, dressed in woman's garb. Playfully approaching the great sages gathered there, the boys grabbed hold of the sages' feet and impudently asked them with feigned humility, "O learned brāhmaṇas, this black-eyed pregnant woman has something to ask you. She is too embarrassed to inquire for herself. She is just about to give birth and is very desirous of having a son. Since all of you are great sages with infallible vision, please tell us whether her child will be a boy or a girl."
O brāhmaṇa, although I am satisfied simply by seeing you, I still wish to inquire about those duties which give pleasure to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Any mortal who faithfully hears about them is freed from all kinds of fear.
Śrī Nārada said: O Vasudeva, when Mahārāja Nimi had thus inquired from the nine Yogendras about devotional service to the Lord, those best of saintly persons sincerely thanked the King for his questions and spoke to him with affection in the presence of the members of the sacrificial assembly and the brāhmaṇa priests.
King Nimi inquired: Please explain to me the transcendental situation of the Supreme Lord, Nārāyaṇa, who is Himself the Absolute Truth and the Supersoul of everyone. You can explain this to me, because you are all most expert in transcendental knowledge.
King Nimi further inquired: My dear Yogendras, all of you are most perfect in knowledge of the science of the self. Therefore, kindly explain to me the destination of those who for the most part never worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, who are unable to quench their material desires and who are not in control of their own selves.
King Nimi inquired: In what colors and forms does the Supreme Personality of Godhead appear in each of the different ages, and with what names and by what types of regulative principles is the Lord worshiped in human society?
Mahārāja Yadu once observed a certain brāhmaṇa avadhūta, who appeared to be quite young and learned, wandering about fearlessly. Being himself most learned in spiritual science, the King took the opportunity and inquired from him as follows.
O brāhmaṇa, we see that you are devoid of any contact with material enjoyment and that you are traveling alone, without any companions or family members. Therefore, because we are sincerely inquiring from you, please tell us the cause of the great ecstasy that you are feeling within yourself.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Once, the mental sons of Lord Brahmā, namely, the sages headed by Sanaka, inquired from their father about the difficult subject matter of the supreme goal of yoga.
My dear Uddhava, the sages, being eager to understand the ultimate truth of the yoga system, thus inquired from Me. Now please hear as I explain that which I spoke unto the sages.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O best of those who know how to inquire, on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra, Arjuna, desiring to fight with his rivals, asked Me the same question that you are now posing.
At that time I enlightened Arjuna, the tiger among men, with logical arguments, and thus in the front of the battle Arjuna addressed Me with questions in the same way that you are now inquiring.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Śrī Uddhava, the best of devotees, thus inquired from the Lord. Hearing his question, the Personality of Godhead, śrī Kṛṣṇa, was pleased and for the welfare of all conditioned souls spoke those religious principles that are eternal.
My dear saintly Uddhava, I have now described to you, just as you inquired, the means by which My devotee, perfectly engaged in his prescribed duty, can come back to Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Uddhava, just as you are now inquiring from Me, similarly, in the past King Yudhiṣṭhira, who considered no one his enemy, inquired from the greatest of the upholders of religious principles, Bhīṣma, while all of us were carefully listening.
When the great Battle of Kurukṣetra had ended, King Yudhiṣṭhira was overwhelmed by the death of many beloved well-wishers, and thus, after listening to instructions about many religious principles, he finally inquired about the path of liberation.
Actual opulence is My own nature as the Personality of Godhead, through which I exhibit the six unlimited opulences. The supreme gain in life is devotional service to Me, and actual education is nullifying the false perception of duality within the soul. Real modesty is to be disgusted with improper activities, and beauty is to possess good qualities such as detachment. Real happiness is to transcend material happiness and unhappiness, and real misery is to be implicated in searching for sex pleasure. A wise man is one who knows the process of freedom from bondage, and a fool is one who identifies with his material body and mind. The real path in life is that which leads to Me, and the wrong path is sense gratification, by which consciousness is bewildered. Actual heaven is the predominance of the mode of goodness, whereas hell is the predominance of ignorance. I am everyone's true friend, acting as the spiritual master of the entire universe, and one's home is the human body. My dear friend Uddhava, one who is enriched with good qualities is actually said to be rich, and one who is unsatisfied in life is actually poor. A wretched person is one who cannot control his senses, whereas one who is not attached to sense gratification is a real controller. One who attaches himself to sense gratification is the opposite, a slave. Thus, Uddhava, I have elucidated all of the matters about which you inquired. There is no need for a more elaborate description of these good and bad qualities, since to constantly see good and bad is itself a bad quality. The best quality is to transcend material good and evil.
Uddhava inquired: My dear Lord, O master of the universe, how many different elements of creation have been enumerated by the great sages? I have heard You personally describe a total of twenty-eight—God, the jīva soul, the mahat-tattva, false ego, the five gross elements, the ten senses, the mind, the five subtle objects of perception and the three modes of nature. But some authorities say that there are twenty-six elements, while others cite twenty-five or else seven, nine, six, four or eleven, and even others say that there are seventeen, sixteen or thirteen. What did each of these sages have in mind when he calculated the creative elements in such different ways? O supreme eternal, kindly explain this to me.
Śrī Uddhava inquired: Although nature and the living entity are constitutionally distinct, O Lord Kṛṣṇa, there appears to be no difference between them, because they are found residing within one another. Thus the soul appears to be within nature and nature within the soul.
When the cloud originally produced from the sun is torn apart, the eye can see the actual form of the sun. Similarly, when the spirit soul destroys his material covering of false ego by inquiring into the transcendental science, he regains his original spiritual awareness.
Beloved King Parīkṣit, I have narrated to you the topics you originally inquired about—the pastimes of Lord Hari, the Supreme Soul of the universe. Now, what more do you wish to hear?
Śrī Śaunaka said: O Sūta, you are the best of learned men and a great devotee of the Supreme Lord. Therefore we now inquire from you about the definitive conclusion of all tantra scriptures.
O great sages, I have narrated to you the wonderful pastimes of Lord Viṣṇu, as you inquired about them from me. Hearing such narrations is the suitable engagement for a person who is actually a human being.
This scripture also relates the discussions Vidura had with Uddhava and with Maitreya, inquiries about the subject matter of this Purāṇa, and the winding up of creation within the body of the Supreme Lord at the time of annihilation.
Thus, O best of the brāhmaṇas, I have explained herein what you have inquired from me. This literature has glorified in full detail the activities of the Lord's pastime incarnations.