Srimad-Bhagavatam: Canto 1: “Creation”
by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Chapter Four

The Appearance of Sri Narada



vyasa uvaca

iti bruvanam samstuya

muninam dirgha-satrinam

vrddhah kula-patih sutam

bahvrcah saunako ’bravit


vyasah—Vyasadeva; uvaca—said; iti—thus; bruvanam—speaking; samstuya—congratulating; muninam—of the great sages; dirgha—prolonged; satrinam—of those engaged in the performance of sacrifice; vrddhah—elderly; kula-patih—head of the assembly; sutam—unto Suta Gosvami; bahu-rcah—learned; saunakah—of the name Saunaka; abravit—addressed.


On hearing Suta Gosvami speak thus, Saunaka Muni, who was the elderly, learned leader of all the rsis engaged in that prolonged sacrificial ceremony, congratulated Suta Gosvami by addressing him as follows.


In a meeting of learned men, when there are congratulations or addresses for the speaker, the qualifications of the congratulator should be as follows. He must be the leader of the house and an elderly man. He must be vastly learned also. Sri Saunaka Rsi had all these qualifications, and thus he stood up to congratulate Sri Suta Gosvami when he expressed his desire to present Srimad-Bhagavatam exactly as he heard it from Sukadeva Gosvami and also realized it personally. Personal realization does not mean that one should, out of vanity, attempt to show one’s own learning by trying to surpass the previous acarya. He must have full confidence in the previous acarya, and at the same time he must realize the subject matter so nicely that he can present the matter for the particular circumstances in a suitable manner. The original purpose of the text must be maintained. No obscure meaning should be screwed out of it, yet it should be presented in an interesting manner for the understanding of the audience. This is called realization. The leader of the assembly, Saunaka, could estimate the value of the speaker, Sri Suta Gosvami, simply by his uttering yathadhitam and yatha-mati, and therefore he was very glad to congratulate him in ecstasy. No learned man should be willing to hear a person who does not represent the original acarya. So the speaker and the audience were bona fide in this meeting where Bhagavatam was being recited for the second time. That should be the standard of recitation of Bhagavatam, so that the real purpose can be served without difficulty. Unless this situation is created, Bhagavatam recitation for extraneous purposes is useless labor both for the speaker and for the audience.



saunaka uvaca

suta suta maha-bhaga

vada no vadatam vara

katham bhagavatim punyam

yad aha bhagavan chukah


saunakah—Saunaka; uvaca—said; suta suta—O Suta Gosvami; maha-bhaga—the most fortunate; vada—please speak; nah—unto us; vadatam—of those who can speak; vara—respected; katham—message; bhagavatim—of the Bhagavatam; punyam—pious; yat—which; aha—said; bhagavan—greatly powerful; sukah—Sri Sukadeva Gosvami.


Saunaka said: O Suta Gosvami, you are the most fortunate and respected of all those who can speak and recite. Please relate the pious message of Srimad-Bhagavatam, which was spoken by the great and powerful sage Sukadeva Gosvami.


Suta Gosvami is twice addressed herein by Saunaka Gosvami out of great joy because he and the members of the assembly were eager to hear the text of Bhagavatam uttered by Sukadeva Gosvami. They were not interested in hearing it from a bogus person who would interpret in his own way to suit his own purpose. Generally the so-called Bhagavatam reciters are either professional readers or so-called learned impersonalists who cannot enter into the transcendental personal activities of the Supreme Person. Such impersonalists twist some meanings out of Bhagavatam to suit and support impersonalist views, and the professional readers at once go to the Tenth Canto to misexplain the most confidential part of the Lord’s pastimes. Neither of these reciters are bona fide persons to recite Bhagavatam. Only one who is prepared to present Bhagavatam in the light of Sukadeva Gosvami and only those who are prepared to hear Sukadeva Gosvami and his representative are bona fide participants in the transcendental discussion of Srimad-Bhagavatam.



kasmin yuge pravrtteyam

sthane va kena hetuna

kutah sancoditah krsnah

krtavan samhitam munih


kasmin—in which; yuge—period; pravrtta—was begun; iyam—this; sthane—in the place; va—or; kena—on what; hetuna—ground; kutah—wherefrom; sancoditah—inspired by; krsnah—Krsna-dvaipayana Vyasa; krtavan—compiled; samhitam—Vedic literature; munih—the learned.


In what period and at what place was this first begun, and why was this taken up? From where did Krsna-dvaipayana Vyasa, the great sage, get the inspiration to compile this literature?


Because Srimad-Bhagavatam is the special contribution of Srila Vyasadeva, there are so many inquiries by the learned Saunaka Muni. It was known to them that Srila Vyasadeva had already explained the text of the Vedas in various ways up to the Mahabharata for the understanding of less intelligent women, sudras and fallen members of the family of twice-born men. Srimad-Bhagavatam is transcendental to all of them because it has nothing to do with anything mundane. So the inquiries are very intelligent and relevant.



tasya putro maha-yogi

sama-drn nirvikalpakah

ekanta-matir unnidro

gudho mudha iveyate


tasya—his; putrah—son; maha-yogi—a great devotee; sama-drk—equibalanced; nirvikalpakah—absolute monist; ekanta-matih—fixed in monism or oneness of mind; unnidrah—surpassed nescience; gudhah—not exposed; mudhah—stunted; iva—like; iyate—appears like.


His [Vyasadeva’s] son was a great devotee, an equibalanced monist, whose mind was always concentrated in monism. He was transcendental to mundane activities, but being unexposed, he appeared like an ignorant person.


Srila Sukadeva Gosvami was a liberated soul, and thus he remained always alert not to be trapped by the illusory energy. In the Bhagavad-gita this alertness is very lucidly explained. The liberated soul and the conditioned soul have different engagements. The liberated soul is always engaged in the progressive path of spiritual attainment, which is something like a dream for the conditioned soul. The conditioned soul cannot imagine the actual engagements of the liberated soul. While the conditioned soul thus dreams about spiritual engagements, the liberated soul is awake. Similarly, the engagement of a conditioned soul appears to be a dream for the liberated soul. A conditioned soul and a liberated soul may apparently be on the same platform, but factually they are differently engaged, and their attention is always alert, either in sense enjoyment or in self-realization. The conditioned soul is absorbed in matter, whereas the liberated soul is completely indifferent to matter. This indifference is explained as follows.



drstvanuyantam rsim atmajam apy anagnam

devyo hriya paridadhur na sutasya citram

tad viksya prcchati munau jagadus tavasti

stri-pum-bhida na tu sutasya vivikta-drsteh


drstva—by seeing; anuyantam—following; rsim—the sage; atmajam—his son; api—in spite of; anagnam—not naked; devyah—beautiful damsels; hriya—out of shyness; paridadhuh—covered the body; na—not; sutasya—of the son; citram—astonishing; tat viksya—by seeing that; prcchati—asking; munau—unto the muni (Vyasa); jagaduh—replied; tava—your; asti—there are; stri-pum—male and female; bhida—differences; na—not; tu—but; sutasya—of the son; vivikta—purified; drsteh—of one who looks.


While Sri Vyasadeva was following his son, beautiful young damsels who were bathing naked covered their bodies with cloth, although Sri Vyasadeva himself was not naked. But they had not done so when his son had passed. The sage inquired about this, and the young ladies replied that his son was purified and when looking at them made no distinction between male and female. But the sage made such distinctions.


In the Bhagavad-gita (5.18) it is said that a learned sage looks equally on a learned and gentle brahmana, a candala (dog-eater), a dog or a cow due to his spiritual vision. Srila Sukadeva Gosvami attained that stage. Thus he did not see a male or female; he saw all living entities in different dress. The ladies who were bathing could understand the mind of a man simply by studying his demeanor, just as by looking at a child one can understand how innocent he is. Sukadeva Gosvami was a young boy sixteen years old, and therefore all the parts of his body were developed. He was naked also, and so were the ladies. But because Sukadeva Gosvami was transcendental to sex relations, he appeared very innocent. The ladies, by their special qualifications, could sense this at once, and therefore they were not very concerned about him. But when his father passed, the ladies quickly dressed. The ladies were exactly like his children or grandchildren, yet they reacted to the presence of Vyasadeva according to the social custom because Srila Vyasadeva played the part of a householder. A householder has to distinguish between a male and female, otherwise he cannot be a householder. One should, therefore, attempt to know the distinction between spirit soul without any attachment for male and female. As long as such distinction is there, one should not try to become a sannyasi like Sukadeva Gosvami. At least theoretically one must be convinced that a living entity is neither male nor female. The outward dress is made of matter by material nature to attract the opposite sex and thus keep one entangled in material existence. A liberated soul is above this perverted distinction. He does not distinguish between one living being and another. For him they are all one and the same spirit. The perfection of this spiritual vision is the liberated stage, and Srila Sukadeva Gosvami attained that stage. Srila Vyasadeva was also in the transcendental stage, but because he was in the householder’s life, he did not pretend to be a liberated soul, as a matter of custom.



katham alaksitah pauraih

sampraptah kuru-jangalan


vicaran gaja-sahvaye


katham—how; alaksitah—recognized; pauraih—by the citizens; sampraptah—reaching; kuru-jangalan—the Kuru-jangala provinces; unmatta—mad; muka—dumb; jadavat—stunted; vicaran—wandering; gaja-sahvaye—Hastinapura.


How was he [Srila Sukadeva, the son of Vyasa] recognized by the citizens when he entered the city of Hastinapura [now Delhi], after wandering in the provinces of Kuru and Jangala, appearing like a madman, dumb and retarded?


The present city of Delhi was formerly known as Hastinapura because it was first established by King Hasti. Gosvami Sukadeva, after leaving his paternal home, was roaming like a madman, and therefore it was very difficult for the citizens to recognize him in his exalted position. A sage is not, therefore, recognized by sight, but by hearing. One should approach a sadhu or great sage not to see but to hear him. If one is not prepared to hear the words of a sadhu, there is no profit. Sukadeva Gosvami was a sadhu who could speak on the transcendental activities of the Lord. He did not satisfy the whims of ordinary citizens. He was recognized when he spoke on the subject of Bhagavatam, and he never attempted jugglery like a magician. Outwardly he appeared to be a retarded, dumb madman, but in fact he was the most elevated transcendental personality.



katham va pandaveyasya

rajarser munina saha

samvadah samabhut tata

yatraisa satvati srutih


katham—how is it; va—also; pandaveyasya—of the descendant of Pandu (Pariksit); rajarseh—of the king who was a sage; munina—with the muni; saha—with; samvadah—discussion; samabhut—took place; tata—O darling; yatra—whereupon; esa—like this; satvati—transcendental; srutih—essence of the Vedas.


How did it so happen that King Pariksit met this great sage, making it possible for this great transcendental essence of the Vedas [Bhagavatam] to be sung to him?


Srimad-Bhagavatam is stated here as the essence of the Vedas. It is not an imaginary story as it is sometimes considered by unauthorized men. It is also called Suka-samhita, or the Vedic hymn spoken by Sri Sukadeva Gosvami, the great liberated sage.



sa go-dohana-matram hi

grhesu grha-medhinam

aveksate maha-bhagas

tirthi-kurvams tad asramam


sah—he (Sukadeva Gosvami); go-dohana-matram—only for the time of milking the cow; hi—certainly; grhesu—in the house; grha-medhinam—of the householders; aveksate—waits; maha-bhagah—the most fortunate; tirthi—pilgrimage; kurvan—transforming; tat asramam—the residence.


He [Sukadeva Gosvami] was accustomed to stay at the door of a householder only long enough for a cow to be milked. And he did this just to sanctify the residence.


Sukadeva Gosvami met Emperor Pariksit and explained the text of Srimad-Bhagavatam. He was not accustomed to stay at any householder’s residence for more than half an hour (at the time of milking the cow), and he would just take alms from the fortunate householder. That was to sanctify the residence by his auspicious presence. Therefore Sukadeva Gosvami is an ideal preacher established in the transcendental position. From his activities, those who are in the renounced order of life and dedicated to the mission of preaching the message of Godhead should learn that they have no business with householders save and except to enlighten them in transcendental knowledge. Such asking for alms from the householder should be for the purpose of sanctifying his home. One who is in the renounced order of life should not be allured by the glamor of the householder’s worldly possessions and thus become subservient to worldly men. For one who is in the renounced order of life, this is much more dangerous than drinking poison and committing suicide.



abhimanyu-sutam suta

prahur bhagavatottamam

tasya janma mahascaryam

karmani ca grnihi nah


abhimanyu-sutam—the son of Abhimanyu; suta—O Suta; prahuh—is said to be; bhagavata-uttamam—the first-class devotee of the Lord; tasya—his; janma—birth; maha-ascaryam—very wonderful; karmani—activities; ca—and; grnihi—please speak to; nah—us.


It is said that Maharaja Pariksit is a great first-class devotee of the Lord and that his birth and activities are all wonderful. Please tell us about him.


The birth of Maharaja Pariksit is wonderful because in the womb of his mother he was protected by the Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna. His activities are also wonderful because he chastised Kali, who was attempting to kill a cow. To kill cows means to end human civilization. He wanted to protect the cow from being killed by the great representative of sin. His death is also wonderful because he got previous notice of his death, which is wonderful for any mortal being, and thus he prepared himself for passing away by sitting down on the bank of the Ganges and hearing the transcendental activities of the Lord. During all the days he heard Bhagavatam, he did not take food or drink, nor did he sleep a moment. So everything about him is wonderful, and his activities are worth hearing attentively. Desire is expressed herein to hear about him in detail.



sa samrat kasya va hetoh

pandunam mana-vardhanah

prayopavisto gangayam



sah—he; samrat—the Emperor; kasya—for what; va—or; hetoh—reason; pandunam—of the sons of Pandu; mana-vardhanah—one who enriches the family; praya-upavistah—sitting and fasting; gangayam—on the bank of the Ganges; anadrtya—neglecting; adhirat—acquired kingdom; sriyam—opulences.


He was a great emperor and possessed all the opulences of his acquired kingdom. He was so exalted that he was increasing the prestige of the Pandu dynasty. Why did he give up everything to sit down on the bank of the Ganges and fast until death?


Maharaja Pariksit was the Emperor of the world and all the seas and oceans, and he did not have to take the trouble to acquire such a kingdom by his own effort. He inherited it from his grandfathers Maharaja Yudhisthira and brothers. Besides that, he was doing well in the administration and was worthy of the good names of his forefathers. Consequently there was nothing undesirable in his opulence and administration. Then why should he give up all these favorable circumstances and sit down on the bank of the Ganges, fasting till death? This is astonishing, and therefore all were eager to know the cause.



namanti yat-pada-niketam atmanah

sivaya haniya dhanani satravah

katham sa virah sriyam anga dustyajam

yuvaisatotsrastum aho sahasubhih


namanti—bow down; yat-pada—whose feet; niketam—under; atmanah—own; sivaya—welfare; haniya—used to bring about; dhanani—wealth; satravah—enemies; katham—for what reason; sah—he; virah—the chivalrous; sriyam—opulences; anga—O; dustyajam—insuperable; yuva—in full youth; aisata—desired; utsrastum—to give up; aho—exclamation; saha—with; asubhih—life.


He was such a great emperor that all his enemies would come and bow down at his feet and surrender all their wealth for their own benefit. He was full of youth and strength, and he possessed insuperable kingly opulences. Why did he want to give up everything, including his life?


There was nothing undesirable in his life. He was quite a young man and could enjoy life with power and opulence. So there was no question of retiring from active life. There was no difficulty in collecting the state taxes because he was so powerful and chivalrous that even his enemies would come to him and bow down at his feet and surrender all wealth for their own benefit. Maharaja Pariksit was a pious king. He conquered his enemies, and therefore the kingdom was full of prosperity. There was enough milk, grains and metals, and all the rivers and mountains were full of potency. So materially everything was satisfactory. Therefore, there was no question of untimely giving up his kingdom and life. The sages were eager to hear about all this.



sivaya lokasya bhavaya bhutaye

ya uttama-sloka-parayana janah

jivanti natmartham asau parasrayam

mumoca nirvidya kutah kalevaram


sivaya—welfare; lokasya—of all living beings; bhavaya—for flourishing; bhutaye—for economic development; ye—one who is; uttama-sloka-parayanah—devoted to the cause of the Personality of Godhead; janah—men; jivanti—do live; na—but not; atma-artham—selfish interest; asau—that; para-asrayam—shelter for others; mumoca—gave up; nirvidya—being freed from all attachment; kutah—for what reason; kalevaram—mortal body.


Those who are devoted to the cause of the Personality of Godhead live only for the welfare, development and happiness of others. They do not live for any selfish interest. So even though the Emperor [Pariksit] was free from all attachment to worldly possessions, how could he give up his mortal body, which was shelter for others?


Pariksit Maharaja was an ideal king and householder because he was a devotee of the Personality of Godhead. A devotee of the Lord automatically has all good qualifications. And the Emperor was a typical example of this. Personally he had no attachment for all the worldly opulences in his possession. But since he was king for the all-around welfare of his citizens, he was always busy in the welfare work of the public, not only for this life, but also for the next. He would not allow slaughterhouses or killing of cows. He was not a foolish and partial administrator who would arrange for the protection of one living being and allow another to be killed. Because he was a devotee of the Lord, he knew perfectly well how to conduct his administration for everyone’s happiness—men, animals, plants and all living creatures. He was not selfishly interested. Selfishness is either self-centered or self-extended. He was neither. His interest was to please the Supreme Truth, Personality of Godhead. The king is the representative of the Supreme Lord, and therefore the king’s interest must be identical with that of the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord wants all living beings to be obedient to Him and thereby become happy. Therefore the king’s interest is to guide all subjects back to the kingdom of God. Hence the activities of the citizens should be so coordinated that they can at the end go back home, back to Godhead. Under the administration of a representative king, the kingdom is full of opulence. At that time, human beings need not eat animals. There are ample food grains, milk, fruit and vegetables so that the human beings as well as the animals can eat sumptuously and to their heart’s content. If all living beings are satisfied with food and shelter and obey the prescribed rules, there cannot be any disturbance between one living being and another. Emperor Pariksit was a worthy king, and therefore all were happy during his reign.



tat sarvam nah samacaksva

prsto yad iha kincana

manye tvam visaye vacam

snatam anyatra chandasat


tat—that; sarvam—all; nah—unto us; samacaksva—clearly explain; prstah—questioned; yat iha—herein; kincana—all that; manye—we think; tvam—you; visaye—in all subjects; vacam—meanings of words; snatam—fully acquainted; anyatra—except; chandasat—portion of the Vedas.


We know that you are expert in the meaning of all subjects, except some portions of the Vedas, and thus you can clearly explain the answers to all the questions we have just put to you.


The difference between the Vedas and the Puranas is like that between the brahmanas and the parivrajakas. The brahmanas are meant to administer some fruitive sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas, but the parivrajakacaryas, or learned preachers, are meant to disseminate transcendental knowledge to one and all. As such, the parivrajakacaryas are not always expert in pronouncing the Vedic mantras, which are practiced systematically by accent and meter by the brahmanas who are meant for administering Vedic rites. Yet it should not be considered that the brahmanas are more important than the itinerant preachers. They are one and different simultaneously because they are meant for the same end, in different ways.

There is no difference also between the Vedic mantras and what is explained in the Puranas and Itihasa. According to Srila Jiva Gosvami, it is mentioned in the Madhyandina-sruti that all the Vedas, namely the Sama, Atharva, Rg, Yajur, Puranas, Itihasas, Upanisads, etc., are emanations from the breathing of the Supreme Being. The only difference is that the Vedic mantras are mostly begun with pranava omkara, and it requires some training to practice the metric pronunciation of the Vedic mantras. But that does not mean that Srimad-Bhagavatam is of less importance than the Vedic mantras. On the contrary, it is the ripened fruit of all the Vedas, as stated before. Besides that, the most perfectly liberated soul, Srila Sukadeva Gosvami, is absorbed in the studies of the Bhagavatam, although he is already self-realized. Srila Suta Gosvami is following his footsteps, and therefore his position is not the least less important because he was not expert in chanting Vedic mantras with metric pronunciation, which depends more on practice than actual realization. Realization is more important than parrotlike chanting.



suta uvaca

dvapare samanuprapte

trtiye yuga-paryaye

jatah parasarad yogi

vasavyam kalaya hareh


sutah—Suta Gosvami; uvaca—said; dvapare—in the second millennium; samanuprapte—on the advent of; trtiye—third; yuga—millennium; paryaye—in the place of; jatah—was begotten; parasarat—by Parasara; yogi—the great sage; vasavyam—in the womb of the daughter of Vasu; kalaya—in the plenary portion; hareh—of the Personality of Godhead.


Suta Gosvami said: When the second millennium overlapped the third, the great sage [Vyasadeva] was born to Parasara in the womb of Satyavati, the daughter of Vasu.


There is a chronological order of the four millenniums, namely Satya, Dvapara, Treta and Kali. But sometimes there is overlapping. During the regime of Vaivasvata Manu, there was an overlapping of the twenty-eighth round of the four millenniums, and the third millennium appeared prior to the second. In that particular millennium, Lord Sri Krsna also descends, and because of this there was some particular alteration. The mother of the great sage was Satyavati the daughter of the Vasu (fisherman), and the father was the great Parasara Muni. That is the history of Vyasadeva’s birth. Every millennium is divided into three periods, and each period is called a sandhya. Vyasadeva appeared in the third sandhya of that particular age.



sa kadacit sarasvatya

upasprsya jalam sucih

vivikta eka asina

udite ravi-mandale


sah—he; kadacit—once; sarasvatyah—on the bank of the Sarasvati; upasprsya—after finishing morning ablutions; jalam—water; sucih—being purified; vivikte—concentration; ekah—alone; asinah—being thus seated; udite—on the rise; ravi-mandale—of the sun disc.


Once upon a time he [Vyasadeva], as the sun rose, took his morning ablution in the waters of the Sarasvati and sat alone to concentrate.


The River Sarasvati is flowing in the Badarikasrama area of the Himalayas. So the place indicated here is Samyaprasa in Badarikasrama, where Sri Vyasadeva is residing.

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