King Parīkṣit was especially interested in hearing kṛṣṇa-kathā because he knew that his forefathers, particularly his grandfather, Arjuna, were victorious in the great Battle of Kurukṣetra only because of Kṛṣṇa. We may also take this material world as a Battlefield of Kurukṣetra. Everyone is struggling hard for existence on this battlefield, and at every step there is danger. According to Mahārāja Parīkṣit, the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra was just like a vast ocean full of dangerous animals. His grandfather Arjuna had to fight with such great heroes as Bhīṣma, Droṇa, Karṇa and many others who were not ordinary fighters. Such warriors have been compared to the timiṅgila fish in the ocean. The timiṅgila fish can very easily swallow up big whales. The great fighters on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra could swallow many, many Arjunas very easily, but simply due to Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, Arjuna was able to kill all of them. Just as one can cross with no exertion over the little bit of water contained in the hoofprint of a calf, so Arjuna, by the grace of Kṛṣṇa, was able to very easily jump over the ocean of the Battle of Kurukṣetra.
Mahārāja Parīkṣit very much appreciated Kṛṣṇa’s activities for many other reasons. Not only was his grandfather saved by Kṛṣṇa, but he himself also was saved by Kṛṣṇa. By the end of the Battle of Kurukṣetra, all the members of the Kuru dynasty, both the sons and grandsons on the side of Dhṛtarāṣṭra and those on the side of the Pāṇḍavas, had died in the fighting. Except the five Pāṇḍava brothers, everyone died on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra. Mahārāja Parīkṣit was at that time within the womb of his mother. His father, Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna, also died on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra, and so Mahārāja Parīkṣit was a posthumous child. When he was in the womb of his mother, a brahmāstra weapon was released by Aśvatthāmā to kill the child. When Parīkṣit Mahārāja’s mother, Uttarā, approached Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, seeing the danger of abortion, entered her womb as the Supersoul and saved Mahārāja Parīkṣit. Mahārāja Parīkṣit’s other name is Viṣṇurāta because he was saved by Lord Viṣṇu Himself while still within the womb.
Thus everyone, in any condition of life, should be interested in hearing about Kṛṣṇa and His activities because He is the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead. He is all-pervading: inside He is living within everyone’s heart, and outside He is living as His universal form. And yet, as described in the Bhagavad-gītā, He appears as He is in the human society just to invite everyone to His transcendental abode, back home, back to Godhead. Everyone should be interested in knowing about Kṛṣṇa, and this book is presented with this purpose: that people may know about Kṛṣṇa and be perfectly benefited in this human form of life.
In the Ninth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Śrī Baladeva is described as the son of Rohiṇī, a wife of Vasudeva. Vasudeva, the father of Kṛṣṇa, had sixteen wives, and one of them was Rohiṇī, the mother of Baladeva. But Baladeva is also described as the son of Devakī, so how could He be the son of both Devakī and Rohiṇī? This was one of the questions put by Mahārāja Parīkṣit to Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and it will be answered in due course. Mahārāja Parīkṣit also asked Śukadeva Gosvāmī why Śrī Kṛṣṇa, just after His appearance as the son of Vasudeva, was immediately carried to the house of Nanda Mahārāja in Vṛndāvana, Gokula. He also wanted to know what the activities of Lord Kṛṣṇa were while He was in Vṛndāvana and while He was in Mathurā. Besides that, he was especially inquisitive to know why Kṛṣṇa killed His maternal uncle, Kaṁsa. Kaṁsa, being the brother of His mother, was a very intimate superior to Kṛṣṇa, so how was it that He killed Kaṁsa? Also, Mahārāja Parīkṣit asked how many years Lord Kṛṣṇa remained in human society, how many years He reigned over the kingdom of Dvārakā, and how many wives He accepted there. A kṣatriya king is generally accustomed to accept more than one wife; therefore Mahārāja Parīkṣit also inquired about His number of wives. The subject matter of this book is Śukadeva Gosvāmī’s answering of these and other questions asked by Mahārāja Parīkṣit.
The position of Mahārāja Parīkṣit and Śukadeva Gosvāmī is unique. Mahārāja Parīkṣit is the right person to hear about the transcendental pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, and Śukadeva Gosvāmī is the right person to describe them. If such a fortunate combination is made possible, then kṛṣṇa-kathā immediately becomes revealed, and people may benefit to the highest possible degree from such a conversation.