Somehow or other, as a result of his pious activities, King Nṛga had aspired to see the Lord. He continued: “My dear Lord, I had a great desire that someday I might be able to see You personally. I think that this great desire to see You, combined with my tendency to perform ritualistic and charitable activities, has enabled me to retain the memory of who I was in my former life, even though I became a lizard. [Such a person who remembers his past life is called jāti-smara. In modern times also there are instances of small children recalling many details of their past lives.] My dear Lord, You are the Supersoul seated in everyone’s heart. There are many great mystic yogīs who have the eyes to see You through the Vedas and Upaniṣads. To achieve the elevated position of realizing that they are equal in quality with You, they always meditate on You within their hearts. But although such exalted saintly persons may see You constantly within their hearts, they still cannot see You face to face. Therefore I am very much surprised that I am able to see You personally. I know that I was engaged in so many activities, especially as a king. Although I was in the midst of luxury and opulence and was subject to so much of the happiness and misery of material existence, I am so fortunate to be seeing You personally. As far as I know, when one becomes liberated from material existence, he can see You in this way.”
When King Nṛga elected to receive the results of his impious activities, he was given the body of a lizard because of the mistake in his pious activities; thus he could not be directly converted to a higher status of life like a great demigod. However, along with his pious activities, he thought of Kṛṣṇa, so he was quickly released from the body of a lizard and given the body of a demigod. By worshiping the Supreme Lord, those who desire material opulences are given the bodies of powerful demigods. Sometimes these demigods can see the Supreme Personality of Godhead face to face, but they are still not yet eligible to enter into the spiritual kingdom, the Vaikuṇṭha planets. However, if the demigods continue to be devotees of the Lord, the next chance they get they will enter into the Vaikuṇṭha planets.
Having attained the body of a demigod, King Nṛga, continuing to remember everything, said, “My dear Lord, You are the Supreme Lord and are worshiped by all the demigods. You are not one of the ordinary living entities; You are the Supreme Person, Puruṣottama. You are the source of all happiness for all living entities; therefore You are known as Govinda. You are the Lord of those living entities who have accepted material bodies and those who have not yet accepted material bodies. [Among the living entities who have not accepted material bodies are those who hover in the material world as evil spirits or live in the ghostly atmosphere. However, those who live in the spiritual kingdom, the Vaikuṇṭhalokas, have bodies not made of material elements.] You, my Lord, are infallible. You are the Supreme, the purest of all living entities. You live in everyone’s heart. You are the shelter of all living entities, Nārāyaṇa. Being seated in the heart of all living beings, You are the supreme director of everyone’s sensual activities; therefore, You are called Hṛṣīkeśa.
“My dear Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa, because You have given me this body of a demigod, I will have to go to some heavenly planet; so I am taking this opportunity to beg for Your mercy. I pray that I may have the benediction of never forgetting Your lotus feet, no matter to which form of life or planet I may be transferred. You are all-pervading, present everywhere as cause and effect. You are the cause of all causes, and Your power is unlimited. You are the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the Supreme Brahman. I therefore offer my respectful obeisances unto You again and again. My dear Lord, Your body is full of transcendental bliss and knowledge, and You are eternal. You are the master of all mystic powers; therefore You are known as Yogeśvara. Kindly accept me as an insignificant particle of dust at Your lotus feet.”
Before entering the heavenly planets, King Nṛga circumambulated the Lord, touched his helmet to the Lord’s lotus feet and bowed before Him. Seeing the airplane from the heavenly planets present before him, he was given permission by the Lord to board it. After the departure of King Nṛga, Lord Kṛṣṇa expressed His appreciation for the King’s devotion to the brāhmaṇas as well as his charitable disposition and his performance of Vedic rituals. Therefore, it is recommended that if one cannot directly become a devotee of the Lord, one should follow the Vedic principles of life. This will enable him, one day, to see the Lord by being promoted either directly to the spiritual kingdom or, indirectly, to the heavenly kingdom, where he has hope of being transferred to the spiritual planets.
At this time, Lord Kṛṣṇa was present among His relatives who were members of the kṣatriya class. To teach them through the exemplary character of King Nṛga, He said, “Even though a kṣatriya king may be as powerful as fire, it is not possible for him to usurp the property of a brāhmaṇa and utilize it for his own purpose. If this is so, how can ordinary kings, who falsely think themselves the most powerful beings within the material world, usurp a brāhmaṇa’s property? I do not think that taking poison is as dangerous as taking a brāhmaṇa’s property. For ordinary poison there is treatment—one can be relieved from its effects—but if one drinks the poison of taking a brāhmaṇa’s property, there is no remedy for the mistake. The perfect example is King Nṛga. He was very powerful and very pious, but due to the small mistake of unknowingly usurping a brāhmaṇa’s cow, he was condemned to the abominable life of a lizard. Ordinary poison affects only those who drink it, and ordinary fire can be extinguished simply by pouring water on it, but the araṇi fire ignited by the spiritual potency of a brāhmaṇa who is dissatisfied can burn to ashes the whole family of a person who provokes such a brāhmaṇa. [Formerly, the brāhmaṇas used to ignite the fire of sacrifice not with matches or any other external fire but with their powerful mantras, called araṇi.] If someone even touches a brāhmaṇa’s property, his family is ruined for three generations. However, if a brāhmaṇa’s property is forcibly taken away, the taker’s family for ten generations before him and ten generations after will be subject to ruination. On the other hand, if someone becomes a pure Vaiṣṇava, or devotee of the Lord, ten generations of his family before his birth and ten generations after will be liberated.”