This book, Kṛṣṇa, which is filled with kṛṣṇa-kathā, will thus appeal equally to the liberated souls and to persons who are trying to be liberated, as well as to the gross, conditioned materialist. According to the statement of Mahārāja Parīkṣit, who heard about Kṛṣṇa from Śukadeva Gosvāmī, kṛṣṇa-kathā is equally applicable to every human being, whatever condition of life he is in. Surely everyone will appreciate it to the highest magnitude. But Mahārāja Parīkṣit also warned that persons who are simply engaged in killing animals and in killing themselves may not be very much attracted to kṛṣṇa-kathā. In other words, ordinary persons who are following the regulative moral principles of scriptures, no matter in what condition they are found, will certainly be attracted, but not persons who are killing themselves. The exact word used in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is paśu-ghna, which means killing animals or killing oneself. Persons who are not self-realized and who are not interested in spiritual realization are killing themselves; they are committing suicide. Because this human form of life is especially meant for self-realization, by neglecting this important part of his activities one simply wastes his time like the animals. So he is paśu-ghna. The other meaning of the word refers to those who are actually killing animals. This means persons who are animal-eaters (even dog-eaters), for they are all engaged in killing animals in so many ways, such as hunting and opening slaughterhouses. Such persons cannot be interested in kṛṣṇa-kathā.
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.