Mahārāja Parīkṣit

This morning I was reading about Maharaja Pariksit and of his qualities and position in life. He was in a position to enjoy life to the fullest extent,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. He gave up everything to hear Sriman Bhagavatam from the lips of the pure devotee.

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 Pāṇḍu dynasty. Why did he give up everything to sit down on the bank of the Ganges and fast until death?

…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. Mahārāja Parīkṣit 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.

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
Canto One, Chapter 4, text 9-12

TEXT 9

abhimanyu-sutaṁ sūta
prāhur bhāgavatottamam
tasya janma mahāścaryaṁ
karmāṇi ca gṛṇīhi naḥ

abhimanyu-sutam—the son of Abhimanyu; sūta—O Sūta; prāhuḥ—is said to be; bhāgavata-uttamam—the first-class devotee of the Lord; tasya—his; janma—birth; mahā-āścaryam—very wonderful; karmāṇi—activities; ca—and; gṛṇīhi—please speak to; naḥ—us.

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

PURPORT

The birth of Mahārāja Parīkṣit is wonderful because in the womb of his mother he was protected by the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa. 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 Bhāgavatam, 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.

TEXT 10

sa samrāṭ kasya vā hetoḥ
pāṇḍūnāṁ māna-vardhanaḥ
prāyopaviṣṭo gaṅgāyām
anādṛtyādhirāṭ-śriyam

saḥ—he; samrāṭ—the Emperor; kasya—for what; vā—or; hetoḥ—reason; pāṇḍūnām—of the sons of Pāṇḍu; māna-vardhanaḥ—one who enriches the family; prāya-upaviṣṭaḥ—sitting and fasting; gaṅgāyām—on the bank of the Ganges; anādṛtya—neglecting; adhirāṭ—acquired kingdom; śriyam—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 Pāṇḍu dynasty. Why did he give up everything to sit down on the bank of the Ganges and fast until death?

PURPORT

Mahārāja Parīkṣit 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 Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira 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.

TEXT 11

namanti yat-pāda-niketam ātmanaḥ
śivāya hānīya dhanāni śatravaḥ
kathaṁ sa vīraḥ śriyam aṅga dustyajāṁ
yuvaiṣatotsraṣṭum aho sahāsubhiḥ

namanti—bow down; yat-pāda—whose feet; niketam—under; ātmanaḥ—own; śivāya—welfare; hānīya—used to bring about; dhanāni—wealth; śatravaḥ—enemies; katham—for what reason; saḥ—he; vīraḥ—the chivalrous; śriyam—opulences; aṅga—O; dustyajām—insuperable; yuvā—in full youth; aiṣata—desired; utsraṣṭum—to give up; aho—exclamation; saha—with; asubhiḥ—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?

PURPORT

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. Mahārāja Parīkṣit 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.

TEXT 12

śivāya lokasya bhavāya bhūtaye
ya uttama-śloka-parāyaṇā janāḥ
jīvanti nātmārtham asau parāśrayaṁ
mumoca nirvidya kutaḥ kalevaram

śivāya—welfare; lokasya—of all living beings; bhavāya—for flourishing; bhūtaye—for economic development; ye—one who is; uttama-śloka-parāyaṇāḥ—devoted to the cause of the Personality of Godhead; janāḥ—men; jīvanti—do live; na—but not; ātma-artham—selfish interest; asau—that; para-āśrayam—shelter for others; mumoca—gave up; nirvidya—being freed from all attachment; kutaḥ—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 [Parīkṣit] was free from all attachment to worldly possessions, how could he give up his mortal body, which was shelter for others?

PURPORT

Parīkṣit Mahārāja 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 Parīkṣit was a worthy king, and therefore all were happy during his reign.

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