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.
This narration was presented by Śukadeva Gosvāmī when Mahārāja Parīkṣit was prepared to give up his body, fasting on the bank of the Ganges. In order to assure Śukadeva Gosvāmī that by hearing kṛṣṇa-kathā he would not feel tired, Mahārāja Parīkṣit expressed himself very frankly: “Hunger and thirst may give trouble to ordinary persons or to me, but the topics of Kṛṣṇa are so nice that one can continue to hear them without feeling tired because such hearing situates one in the transcendental position.” It is understood that one must be very fortunate to hear kṛṣṇa-kathā as seriously as Mahārāja Parīkṣit did. He was especially intent on the subject matter because he was expecting death at any moment. Every one of us should be conscious of death at every moment. This life is not at all assured; at any time one can die. It does not matter whether one is a young man or an old man. So before death takes place, we must be fully Kṛṣṇa conscious.
At the point of his death, King Parīkṣit was hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from Śukadeva Gosvāmī. When King Parīkṣit expressed his untiring desire to hear about Kṛṣṇa, Śukadeva Gosvāmī was very much pleased. Śukadeva was the greatest of all Bhāgavata reciters, and thus he began to speak about Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, which destroy all inauspiciousness in this Age of Kali. Śukadeva Gosvāmī thanked the King for his eagerness to hear about Kṛṣṇa, and he encouraged him by saying, “My dear King, your intelligence is very keen because you are so eager to hear about the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa.” He informed Mahārāja Parīkṣit that hearing and chanting the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa are so auspicious that the processes purify the three varieties of men involved: he who recites the transcendental topics of Kṛṣṇa, he who hears such topics, and he who inquires about Him. These pastimes are just like the Ganges water, which flows from the toe of Lord Viṣṇu: they purify the three worlds, the upper, middle and lower planetary systems.