The Essence of All Topics — The Topics of the Lord

Vidura and Maitreya

I have been reading, with rapt attention, from Volume One, of the Third Canto, of Srimad Bhagavatam, by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, each morning. As I was reading this morning the words “…all-inclusive welfare service for the entire human society”, just kinda jumped out at me, as did the words “…greatest welfare service for the world”. I am reminded of the importance of hearing Srimad Bhagavatam every day, and of our good fortune to be able to partake in this transcendental conversation (kṛṣṇa-kathā). There are many topics for different persons in different modes of material nature, but the essential topics are those in relationship with the Supreme Lord.

Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Vidura, the best amongst the Kuru dynasty, who was perfect in devotional service to the Lord, thus reached the source of the celestial Ganges River [Hardwar], where Maitreya, the great, fathomless learned sage of the world, was seated. Vidura, who was perfect in gentleness and satisfied in transcendence, inquired from him. (SB 3.5.1)

The great sage Maitreya Muni is described here as bhagavān because he surpassed all ordinary human beings in learning and experience. Thus his selection of the greatest welfare service for the world is considered authoritative. The all-inclusive welfare service for the entire human society is devotional service to the Lord, and, as requested by Vidura, the sage described the same very appropriately. (purport 3.5.17)

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam: Canto 3: “The Status Quo”
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
Canto Three, Chapter Five, Text 1-17

Vidura’s Talks with Maitreya


śrī-śuka uvāca

dvāri dyu-nadyā ṛṣabhaḥ kurūṇāṁ
maitreyam āsīnam agādha-bodham
papraccha sauśīlya-guṇābhitṛptaḥ

śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; dvāri—at the source of; dyu-nadyāḥ—the celestial River Ganges; ṛṣabhaḥ—the best of the Kurus; kurūṇām—of the Kurus; maitreyam—unto Maitreya; āsīnam—sitting; agādha-bodham—of unfathomed knowledge; kṣattā—Vidura; upasṛtya—having approached nearer; acyuta—the infallible Lord; bhāva—character; siddhaḥ—perfect; papraccha—inquired; sauśīlya—gentleness; guṇa-abhitṛptaḥ—satisfied in transcendental qualities.


Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Vidura, the best amongst the Kuru dynasty, who was perfect in devotional service to the Lord, thus reached the source of the celestial Ganges River [Hardwar], where Maitreya, the great, fathomless learned sage of the world, was seated. Vidura, who was perfect in gentleness and satisfied in transcendence, inquired from him.


Vidura was already perfect due to his unalloyed devotion to the infallible Lord. The Lord and the living entities are all qualitatively the same by nature, but the Lord is quantitatively much greater than any individual living entity. He is ever infallible, whereas the living entities are prone to fall under the illusory energy. Vidura had already surpassed the fallible nature of the living entity in conditional life due to his being acyuta-bhāva, or legitimately absorbed in the devotional service of the Lord. This stage of life is called acyuta-bhāva-siddha, or perfection by dint of devotional service. Anyone, therefore, who is absorbed in the devotional service of the Lord is a liberated soul and has all admirable qualities. The learned sage Maitreya was sitting in a solitary place on the bank of the Ganges at Hardwar, and Vidura, who was a perfect devotee of the Lord and possessed all good transcendental qualities, approached him for inquiry.


vidura uvāca

sukhāya karmāṇi karoti loko
na taiḥ sukhaṁ vānyad-upāramaṁ vā
vindeta bhūyas tata eva duḥkhaṁ
yad atra yuktaṁ bhagavān vaden naḥ

viduraḥ uvāca—Vidura said; sukhāya—for attaining happiness; karmāṇi—fruitive activities; karoti—everyone does so; lokaḥ—in this world; na—never; taiḥ—by those activities; sukham—any happiness; vā—or; anyat—differently; upāramam—satiation; vā—either; vindeta—achieves; bhūyaḥ—on the contrary; tataḥ—by such activities; eva—certainly; duḥkham—miseries; yat—that which; atra—under the circumstances; yuktam—right course; bhagavān—O great one; vadet—may kindly enlighten; naḥ—us.


Vidura said: O great sage, everyone in this world engages in fruitive activities to attain happiness, but one finds neither satiation nor the mitigation of distress. On the contrary, one is only aggravated by such activities. Please, therefore, give us directions on how one should live for real happiness.


Vidura asked Maitreya some common questions, which was not originally his intention. Uddhava asked Vidura to approach Maitreya Muni and inquire into all the truths concerning the Lord, His name, fame, quality, form, pastimes, entourage, etc., and thus when Vidura approached Maitreya, he should have asked only about the Lord. But out of natural humility he did not immediately ask about the Lord, but inquired into a subject which would be of great importance to the common man. A common man cannot understand the Lord. He must first know the real position of his life under the influence of the illusory energy. In illusion one thinks that he can be happy only by fruitive activities, but what actually happens is that one becomes more and more entangled in the network of action and reaction and does not find any solution to the problem of life. There is a nice song in this connection: “Because of a great desire to have all happiness in life, I built this house. But unfortunately the whole scheme has turned to ashes because the house was unexpectedly set on fire.” The law of nature is like that. Everyone tries to become happy by planning in the material world, but the law of nature is so cruel that it sets fire to one’s schemes; the fruitive worker is not happy in his schemes, nor is there any satiation of his continuous hankering for happiness.


janasya kṛṣṇād vimukhasya daivād
adharma-śīlasya suduḥkhitasya
anugrahāyeha caranti nūnaṁ
bhūtāni bhavyāni janārdanasya

janasya—of the common man; kṛṣṇāt—from the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa; vimukhasya—of the one who has turned his face against the Lord; daivāt—by the influence of external energy; adharma-śīlasya—of one who is engaged in irreligion; su-duḥkhitasya—of one who is always unhappy; anugrahāya—due to being compassionate towards them; iha—in this world; caranti—wander; nūnam—certainly; bhūtāni—persons; bhavyāni—great philanthropic souls; janārdanasya—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.


O my lord, great philanthropic souls travel on the earth on behalf of the Supreme Personality of Godhead to show compassion to the fallen souls who are averse to the sense of subordination to the Lord.


To be obedient to the wishes of the Supreme Lord is the natural position of every living entity. But due only to past misdeeds, a living being becomes averse to the sense of subordination to the Lord and suffers all the miseries of material existence. No one has anything to do but render devotional service to the Supreme Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Therefore any activity other than transcendental loving service to the Lord is more or less a rebellious action against the supreme will. All fruitive activity, empirical philosophy and mysticism are more or less against the sense of subordination to the Lord, and any living entity engaged in such rebellious activity is more or less condemned by the laws of material nature, which work under the subordination of the Lord. Great unalloyed devotees of the Lord are compassionate towards the fallen, and therefore they travel all over the world with the mission of bringing souls back to Godhead, back to home. Such pure devotees of the Lord carry the message of Godhead in order to deliver the fallen souls, and therefore the common man who is bewildered by the influence of the external energy of the Lord should avail himself of their association.


tat sādhu-varyādiśa vartma śaṁ naḥ
saṁrādhito bhagavān yena puṁsām
hṛdi sthito yacchati bhakti-pūte
jñānaṁ sa-tattvādhigamaṁ purāṇam

tat—therefore; sādhu-varya—O great one amongst the saints; ādiśa—please instruct; vartma—the path; śam—auspicious; naḥ—for us; saṁrādhitaḥ—being perfectly served; bhagavān—the Personality of Godhead; yena—by which; puṁsām—of the living entity; hṛdi sthitaḥ—residing in the heart; yacchati—awards; bhakti-pūte—unto the unalloyed devotee; jñānam—knowledge; sa—that; tattva—truth; adhigamam—by which one learns; purāṇam—authorized, old.


Therefore, O great sage, please give me instruction on the transcendental devotional service of the Lord, so that He who is situated in the heart of everyone can be pleased to impart, from within, knowledge of the Absolute Truth in terms of the ancient Vedic principles delivered only to those who are purified by the process of devotional service.


As already explained in the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the Absolute Truth is realized in three different phases—although they are one and the same—in terms of the knower’s capacity to understand. The most capable transcendentalist is the pure devotee of the Lord, who is without any tinge of fruitive actions or philosophical speculation. By devotional service only does one’s heart become completely purified from all material coverings like karma, jñāna and yoga. Only in such a purified stage does the Lord, who is seated in everyone’s heart with the individual soul, give instruction so that the devotee can reach the ultimate destination of going back home, back to Godhead. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (10.10): teṣāṁ satata-yuktānāṁ bhajatām. Only when the Lord is satisfied with the devotional service of the devotee does He impart knowledge, as He did for Arjuna and Uddhava.

The jñānīs, yogīs and karmīs cannot expect this direct cooperation of the Lord. They are not able to satisfy the Lord by transcendental loving service, nor do they believe in such service to the Lord. The bhakti process, as performed under the regulative principles of vaidhī-bhakti, or devotional service following the prescribed rules and regulations, is defined by the revealed scriptures and confirmed by great ācāryas. This practice can help the neophyte devotee to rise to the stage of rāga-bhakti, in which the Lord responds from within as the caitya-guru, or the spiritual master as Superconsciousness. All transcendentalists other than devotees make no distinction between the individual soul and the Supersoul because they miscalculate the Superconsciousness and the individual consciousness to be one and the same. Such miscalculation by the nondevotees makes them unfit to receive any direction from within, and therefore they are bereft of the direct cooperation of the Lord. After many, many births, when such a nondualist comes to sense that the Lord is worshipable and that the devotee is simultaneously one with and different from the Lord, then only can he surrender unto the Lord, Vāsudeva. Pure devotional service begins from that point. The process of understanding the Absolute Truth adopted by the misguided nondualist is very difficult, whereas the devotee’s way of understanding the Absolute Truth comes directly from the Lord, who is pleased by devotional service. On behalf of many neophyte devotees, Vidura, at the very first instance, inquired from Maitreya about the path of devotional service, by which the Lord, who is seated within the heart, can be pleased.


karoti karmāṇi kṛtāvatāro
yāny ātma-tantro bhagavāṁs tryadhīśaḥ
yathā sasarjāgra idaṁ nirīhaḥ
saṁsthāpya vṛttiṁ jagato vidhatte

karoti—does them; karmāṇi—transcendental activities; kṛta—by accepting; avatāraḥ—incarnations; yāni—all those; ātma-tantraḥ—Self-independent; bhagavān—the Personality of Godhead; tri-adhīśaḥ—the Lord of the three worlds; yathā—as much as; sasarja—created; agre—at first; idam—this cosmic manifestation; nirīhaḥ—although desireless; saṁsthāpya—by establishing; vṛttim—means of livelihood; jagataḥ—of the universes; vidhatte—as He regulates.


O great sage, kindly narrate how the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the independent, desireless Lord of the three worlds and the controller of all energies, accepts incarnations and creates the cosmic manifestation with perfectly arranged regulative principles for its maintenance.


Lord Kṛṣṇa is the original Personality of Godhead from whom the three creative incarnations, namely the puruṣa-avatāras—Kāraṇārṇavaśāyī Viṣṇu, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu and Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu—expand. The whole material creation is conducted by the three puruṣas in successive stages under the external energy of the Lord, and thus material nature is controlled by Him. Thinking material nature to be independent is like seeking milk from the nipplelike bags on the neck of a goat. The Lord is independent and desireless. He does not create the material world for His own satisfaction as we create our household affairs to fulfill our material desires. Actually the material world is created for the illusory enjoyment of the conditioned souls, who have been against the transcendental service of the Lord since time immemorial. But the material universes are full in themselves. There is no scarcity for maintenance in the material world. Because of their poor fund of knowledge, the materialists are disturbed when there is an apparent increase of population on the earth. Whenever there is a living being on the earth, however, his subsistence is immediately arranged by the Lord. The other species of living entities, who far outnumber human society, are never disturbed for maintenance; they are never seen dying of starvation. It is only human society that is disturbed about the food situation and, to cover up the real fact of administrative mismanagement, takes shelter in the plea that the population is excessively increasing. If there is any scarcity in the world, it is the scarcity of God consciousness, otherwise, by the grace of the Lord, there is no scarcity of anything.


yathā punaḥ sve kha idaṁ niveśya
śete guhāyāṁ sa nivṛtta-vṛttiḥ
yogeśvarādhīśvara eka etad
anupraviṣṭo bahudhā yathāsīt

yathā—as much as; punaḥ—again; sve—in His; khe—form of space (virāṭ-rūpa); idam—this; niveśya—entering into; śete—lies down; guhāyām—within the universe; saḥ—He (the Personality of Godhead); nivṛtta—without endeavor; vṛttiḥ—means of livelihood; yoga-īśvara—the master of all mystic powers; adhīśvaraḥ—proprietor of everything; ekaḥ—one without a second; etat—this; anupraviṣṭaḥ—entering afterwards; bahudhā—by innumerable; yathā—as much as; āsīt—exists.


He lies down on His own heart spread in the form of the sky, and thus placing the whole creation in that space, He expands Himself into many living entities, which are manifested as different species of life. He does not have to endeavor for His maintenance, because He is the master of all mystic powers and the proprietor of everything. Thus He is distinct from the living entities.


The questions regarding creation, maintenance and destruction, which are mentioned in many parts of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, are in relation to different millenniums (kalpas), and therefore they are differently described by different authorities when questioned by different students. There is no difference regarding the creative principles and the Lord’s control over them, yet there are some differences in the minute details because of different kalpas. The gigantic sky is the material body of the Lord, called the virāṭ-rūpa, and all material creations are resting on the sky, or the heart of the Lord. Therefore, beginning from the sky, the first material manifestation to the gross vision, down to the earth, everything is called Brahman. Sarvaṁ khalv idaṁ brahma: “There is nothing but the Lord, and He is one without a second.” The living entities are the superior energies, whereas matter is the inferior energy, and the combination of these energies brings about the manifestation of this material world, which is in the heart of the Lord.


krīḍan vidhatte dvija-go-surāṇāṁ
kṣemāya karmāṇy avatāra-bhedaiḥ
mano na tṛpyaty api śṛṇvatāṁ naḥ
suśloka-mauleś caritāmṛtāni

krīḍan—manifesting pastimes; vidhatte—He performs; dvija—twice-born; go—cows; surāṇām—of the demigods; kṣemāya—welfare; karmāṇi—transcendental activities; avatāra—incarnations; bhedaiḥ—differently; manaḥ—mind; na—never; tṛpyati—satisfies; api—in spite of; śṛṇvatām—continuously hearing; naḥ—our; su-śloka—auspicious; mauleḥ—of the Lord; carita—characteristics; amṛtāni—undying.


You may narrate also about the auspicious characteristics of the Lord in His different incarnations for the welfare of the twice-born, the cows and the demigods. Our minds are never satisfied completely, although we continuously hear of His transcendental activities.


The Lord appears in this universe in different incarnations like Matsya, Kūrma, Varāha and Nṛsiṁha, and He manifests His different transcendental activities for the welfare of the twice-born, the cows and the demigods. The Lord is directly concerned with the twice-born or civilized men. A civilized man is one who has taken his birth twice. A living entity takes birth in this mundane world due to the union of male and female. A human being is born due to union of the father and mother, but a civilized human being has another birth by contact with a spiritual master, who becomes the actual father. The father and mother of the material body are so only in one birth, and in the next birth the father and mother may be a different couple. But the bona fide spiritual master, as the representative of the Lord, is the eternal father because the spiritual master has the responsibility to lead the disciple to spiritual salvation, or the ultimate goal of life. Therefore, a civilized man must be twice-born, otherwise he is no more than the lower animals.

The cow is the most important animal for developing the human body to perfection. The body can be maintained by any kind of foodstuff, but cow’s milk is particularly essential for developing the finer tissues of the human brain so that one can understand the intricacies of transcendental knowledge. A civilized man is expected to live on foodstuffs comprising fruits, vegetables, grains, sugar and milk. The bull helps in the agricultural process of producing grain, etc., and thus in one sense the bull is the father of humankind, whereas the cow is the mother, for she supplies milk to human society. A civilized man is therefore expected to give all protection to the bulls and cows.

The demigods, or the living entities who live in the higher planets, are far superior to human beings. Since they have better arrangements for living conditions, they live far more luxuriously than human beings, yet they are all devotees of the Lord. The Lord incarnates in different forms, such as those of a fish, a tortoise, a hog, and a combined lion and man, just to give protection to civilized man, the cow and the demigods, who are directly responsible for the regulative life of progressive self-realization. The whole system of the material creation is planned so that the conditioned souls may have the opportunity for self-realization. One who takes advantage of such an arrangement is called a demigod or civilized man. The cow is meant to help maintain such a high standard of living.

The Lord’s pastimes for the protection of the twice-born civilized men, the cows and the demigods are all transcendental. A human being is inclined to hear good narrations and stories, and therefore there are so many books, magazines and newspapers on the market to satisfy the interests of the developed soul. But the pleasure in such literature, after it is read once, becomes stale, and people do not take any interest in reading such literature repeatedly. In fact, newspapers are read for less than an hour and then thrown in the dustbins as rubbish. The case is similar with all other mundane literatures. But the beauty of transcendental literatures like Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is that they never become old. They have been read in the world by civilized man for the last five thousand years, and they have never become old. They are ever fresh to the learned scholars and devotees, and even by daily repetition of the verses of Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, there is no satiation for devotees like Vidura. Vidura might have heard the pastimes of the Lord many, many times before he met Maitreya, but still he wanted the same narrations to be repeated because he was never satiated by hearing them. That is the transcendental nature of the Lord’s glorious pastimes.


yais tattva-bhedair adhiloka-nātho
lokān alokān saha lokapālān
acīkḷpad yatra hi sarva-sattva-
nikāya-bhedo ’dhikṛtaḥ pratītaḥ

yaiḥ—by whom; tattva—truth; bhedaiḥ—by differentiation; adhiloka-nāthaḥ—the King of the kings; lokān—planets; alokān—planets of the lower region; saha—along with; loka-pālān—respective kings; acīkḷpat—planned; yatra—wherein; hi—certainly; sarva—all; sattva—existence; nikāya—living entities; bhedaḥ—difference; adhikṛtaḥ—occupied; pratītaḥ—it so appears.


The Supreme King of all kings has created different planets and places of habitation where living entities are situated in terms of the modes of nature and work, and He has created their different kings and rulers.


Lord Kṛṣṇa is the chief King of all kings, and He has created different planets for all kinds of living entities. Even on this planet there are different places for inhabitation by different types of men. There are places like deserts, ice lands, and valleys in mountainous countries, and in each of them there are different kinds of men born of different modes of nature according to their past deeds. There are people in the Arabian deserts and in the valleys of the Himalayan Mountains, and the inhabitants of these two places differ from one another, just as the inhabitants of the ice lands also differ from them. Similarly, there are also different planets. The planets below the earth down to the Pātāla planet are full of various kinds of living beings; no planet is vacant, as wrongly imagined by the modern so-called scientist. In Bhagavad-gītā we find it said by the Lord that the living entities are sarva-gata, or present in every sphere of life. So there is no doubt that on other planets there are also inhabitants like us, sometimes with greater intelligence and greater opulence. The living conditions for those of greater intelligence are more luxurious than on this earth. There are also planets where no sunlight reaches, and there are living entities who must live there due to their past deeds. All such plans for living conditions are made by the Supreme Lord, and Vidura requested Maitreya to describe this for the sake of further enlightenment.


yena prajānām uta ātma-karma-
rūpābhidhānāṁ ca bhidāṁ vyadhatta
nārāyaṇo viśvasṛg ātma-yonir
etac ca no varṇaya vipra-varya

yena—by which; prajānām—of those who are born; uta—as also; ātma-karma—destined engagement; rūpa—form and feature; abhidhānām—endeavors; ca—also; bhidām—differentiation; vyadhatta—dispersed; nārāyaṇaḥ—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; viśvasṛk—the creator of the universe; ātma-yoniḥ—self-sufficient; etat—all these; ca—also; naḥ—unto us; varṇaya—describe; vipra-varya—O chief amongst the brāhmaṇas.


O chief amongst the brāhmaṇas, please also describe how Nārāyaṇa, the creator of the universe and the self-sufficient Lord, has differently created the natures, activities, forms, features and names of the different living creatures.


Every living being is under the plan of his natural inclinations in terms of the modes of material nature. His work is manifested in terms of the nature of the three modes, his form and bodily features are designed according to his work, and his name is designated according to his bodily features. For example, the higher classes of men are white (śukla), and the lower classes of men are black. This division of white and black is in terms of one’s white and black duties of life. Pious acts lead one to take birth in a good and highly placed family, to become rich, to become learned, and to acquire beautiful bodily features. Impious acts lead one to become poor by parentage, to be always in want, to become a fool or illiterate and to acquire ugly bodily features. Vidura requested Maitreya to explain these differences between all the living creatures made by Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.


parāvareṣāṁ bhagavan vratāni
śrutāni me vyāsa-mukhād abhīkṣṇam
atṛpnuma kṣulla-sukhāvahānāṁ
teṣām ṛte kṛṣṇa-kathāmṛtaughāt

para—higher; avareṣām—of these lower; bhagavan—O my lord, O great one; vratāni—occupations; śrutāni—heard; me—by me; vyāsa—Vyāsa; mukhāt—from the mouth; abhīkṣṇam—repeatedly; atṛpnuma—I am satisfied; kṣulla—little; sukha-āvahānām—that which causes happiness; teṣām—out of that; ṛte—without; kṛṣṇa-kathā—talks about the Personality of Godhead, Lord Kṛṣṇa; amṛta-oghāt—from the nectar.


O my lord, I have repeatedly heard about these higher and lower statuses of human society from the mouth of Vyāsadeva, and I am quite satiated with all these lesser subject matters and their happiness. They have not satisfied me with the nectar of topics about Kṛṣṇa.


Because people are very much interested in hearing social and historical presentations, Śrīla Vyāsadeva has compiled many books such as the Purāṇas and Mahābhārata. These books are reading matter for the mass of people, and they were compiled with a view to reviving their God consciousness, now forgotten in the conditional life of material existence. The real purpose of such literatures is not so much to present topics of historical references, but to revive the people’s sense of God consciousness. For example, Mahābhārata is the history of the Battle of Kurukṣetra, and common people read it because it is full of topics regarding the social, political and economic problems of human society. But factually the most important part of Mahābhārata is Bhagavad-gītā, which is automatically taught to readers along with the historical narrations of the Battle of Kurukṣetra.

Vidura explained to Maitreya his position of being fully satiated with the knowledge of mundane social and political topics and having no more interest in them. He was anxious to hear transcendental topics regarding Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Because there were insufficient topics directly concerning Kṛṣṇa in the Purāṇas, Mahābhārata, etc., he was not satisfied and wanted to know more about Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa-kathā, or topics regarding Kṛṣṇa, are transcendental, and there is no satiation in hearing such topics. Bhagavad-gītā is important on account of its being kṛṣṇa-kathā, or speeches delivered by Lord Kṛṣṇa. The story of the Battle of Kurukṣetra may be interesting for the mass of people, but to a person like Vidura, who is highly advanced in devotional service, only kṛṣṇa-kathā and that which is dovetailed with kṛṣṇa-kathā is interesting. Vidura wanted to hear of everything from Maitreya, and so he inquired from him, but he desired that all the topics be in relationship with Kṛṣṇa. As fire is never satisfied in its consumption of firewood, so a pure devotee of the Lord never hears enough about Kṛṣṇa. Historical events and other narrations concerning social and political incidents all become transcendental as soon as they are in relationship with Kṛṣṇa. That is the way to transform mundane things into spiritual identity. The whole world can be transformed into Vaikuṇṭha if all worldly activities are dovetailed with kṛṣṇa-kathā.

There are two important kṛṣṇa-kathās current in the world—Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Bhagavad-gītā is kṛṣṇa-kathā because it is spoken by Kṛṣṇa, whereas Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is kṛṣṇa-kathā because it narrates about Kṛṣṇa. Lord Caitanya advised all His disciples to preach kṛṣṇa-kathā all over the world without discrimination because the transcendental value of kṛṣṇa-kathā can purify one and all from material contamination.


kas tṛpnuyāt tīrtha-pado ’bhidhānāt
satreṣu vaḥ sūribhir īḍyamānāt
yaḥ karṇa-nāḍīṁ puruṣasya yāto
bhava-pradāṁ geha-ratiṁ chinatti

kaḥ—who is that man; tṛpnuyāt—that can be satisfied; tīrtha-padaḥ—whose lotus feet are all the places of pilgrimage; abhidhānāt—from the talks of; satreṣu—in human society; vaḥ—one who is; sūribhiḥ—by great devotees; īḍyamānāt—one who is so worshiped; yaḥ—who; karṇa-nāḍīm—in the holes of the ears; puruṣasya—of a man; yātaḥ—entering; bhava-pradām—that which awards births and deaths; geha-ratim—family affection; chinatti—is cut off.


Who in human society can be satisfied without hearing sufficient talk of the Lord, whose lotus feet are the sum total of all places of pilgrimage and who is worshiped by great sages and devotees? Such topics can cut off one’s bondage to family affection simply by entering the holes of one’s ears.


Kṛṣṇa-kathā is so powerful that simply by entering into a person’s ear it can at once give deliverance from the bondage of family affection. Family affection is an illusory manifestation of the external energy, and it is the only impetus for all mundane activities. As long as there is mundane activity and the mind is absorbed in such engagement, one has to undergo the repetition of birth and death in the current material nescience. People are most influenced by the mode of ignorance, and some are influenced by the passionate mode of material nature, and under the spell of these two modes a living being is actuated by the material conception of life. The mundane qualities do not allow a living entity to understand his real position. The qualities of both ignorance and passion strongly bind one to the illusory bodily conception of the self. The best among the fools who are thus deluded are those who engage in altruistic activities under the spell of the material mode of passion. Bhagavad-gītā, which is direct kṛṣṇa-kathā, gives humanity the elementary lesson that the body is perishable and that the consciousness which is spread throughout the body is imperishable. The conscious being, the imperishable self, is eternally existent and cannot be killed under any circumstances, even after the dissolution of the body. Anyone who misunderstands this perishable body to be the self and who works for it in the name of sociology, politics, philanthropy, altruism, nationalism or internationalism, under the false plea of the bodily conception of life, is certainly a fool and does not know the implications of reality and unreality. Some of them are above the modes of ignorance and passion and are situated in the mode of goodness, but mundane goodness is always contaminated by tinges of ignorance and passion. Mundane goodness can enlighten one that the body and the self are different, and one in goodness is concerned with the self and not the body. But due to being contaminated, those in mundane goodness cannot understand the real nature of the self as a person. Their impersonal conception of the self as distinct from the body keeps them in the mode of goodness within material nature, and unless they are attracted by kṛṣṇa-kathā, they will never be liberated from the bondage of material existence. Kṛṣṇa-kathā is the only remedy for all people of the world because it can situate one in pure consciousness of the self and liberate one from material bondage. To preach kṛṣṇa-kathā all over the world, as recommended by Lord Caitanya, is the greatest missionary activity, and all sensible men and women of the world may join in this great movement started by Lord Caitanya.


munir vivakṣur bhagavad-guṇānāṁ
sakhāpi te bhāratam āha kṛṣṇaḥ
yasmin nṛṇāṁ grāmya-sukhānuvādair
matir gṛhītā nu hareḥ kathāyām

muniḥ—the sage; vivakṣuḥ—described; bhagavat—of the Personality of Godhead; guṇānām—transcendental qualities; sakhā—friend; api—also; te—your; bhāratam—the Mahābhārata; āha—has described; kṛṣṇaḥ—Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa; yasmin—in which; nṛṇām—of the people; grāmya—worldly; sukha-anuvādaiḥ—pleasure derived from mundane topics; matiḥ—attention; gṛhītā nu—just to draw towards; hareḥ—of the Lord; kathāyām—speeches of (Bhagavad-gītā).


Your friend the great sage Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa has already described the transcendental qualities of the Lord in his great work the Mahābhārata. But the whole idea is to draw the attention of the mass of people to kṛṣṇa-kathā [Bhagavad-gītā] through their strong affinity for hearing mundane topics.


The great sage Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa is the author of all Vedic literature, of which his works Vedānta-sūtra, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Mahābhārata are very popular readings. As stated in Bhāgavatam (1.4.25), Śrīla Vyāsadeva compiled the Mahābhārata for the less intelligent class of men, who take more interest in mundane topics than in the philosophy of life. The Vedānta-sūtra was compiled for persons already above the mundane topics, who might already have tasted the bitterness of the so-called happiness of mundane affairs. The first aphorism of Vedānta-sūtra is athāto brahma jijñāsā, i.e., only when one has finished the business of mundane inquiries in the marketplace of sense gratification can one make relevant inquiries regarding Brahman, the Transcendence. Those persons who are busy with the mundane inquiries which fill the newspapers and other such literatures are classified as strī-śūdra-dvija-bandhus, or women, the laborer class and unworthy sons of the higher classes (brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya and vaiśya). Such less intelligent men cannot understand the purpose of Vedānta-sūtra, although they may make a show of studying the sūtras in a perverted way. The real purpose of Vedānta-sūtra is explained by the author himself in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and anyone trying to understand Vedānta-sūtra without reference to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is certainly misguided. Such misguided persons, who are interested in the mundane affairs of philanthropic and altruistic work under the misconception of the body as the self, could better take advantage of the Mahābhārata, which was specifically compiled by Śrīla Vyāsadeva for their benefit. The great author has compiled the Mahābhārata in such a way that the less intelligent class of men, who are more interested in mundane topics, may read the Mahābhārata with great relish and in the course of such mundane happiness can also take advantage of Bhagavad-gītā, the preliminary study of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam or the Vedānta-sūtra. Śrīla Vyāsadeva had no interest in writing a history of mundane activities other than to give less intelligent persons a chance for transcendental realization through Bhagavad-gītā. Vidura’s reference to the Mahābhārata indicates that he had heard of the Mahābhārata from Vyāsadeva, his real father, while he was away from home and was touring the places of pilgrimage.


sā śraddadhānasya vivardhamānā
viraktim anyatra karoti puṁsaḥ
hareḥ padānusmṛti-nirvṛtasya
samasta-duḥkhāpyayam āśu dhatte

sā—those topics of Kṛṣṇa, or kṛṣṇa-kathā; śraddadhānasya—of one who is anxious to hear; vivardhamānā—gradually increasing; viraktim—indifference; anyatra—in other things (than such topics); karoti—does; puṁsaḥ—of one who is so engaged; hareḥ—of the Lord; pada-anusmṛti—constant remembrance of the lotus feet of the Lord; nirvṛtasya—one who has achieved such transcendental bliss; samasta-duḥkha—all miseries; apyayam—vanquished; āśu—without delay; dhatte—executes.


For one who is anxious to engage constantly in hearing such topics, kṛṣṇa-kathā gradually increases his indifference towards all other things. Such constant remembrance of the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa by the devotee who has achieved transcendental bliss vanquishes all his miseries without delay.


We must certainly know that on the absolute plane kṛṣṇa-kathā and Kṛṣṇa are one and the same. The Lord is the Absolute Truth, and therefore His name, form, quality, etc., which are all understood to be kṛṣṇa-kathā, are nondifferent from Him. Bhagavad-gītā, being spoken by the Lord, is as good as the Lord Himself. When a sincere devotee reads Bhagavad-gītā, this is as good as seeing the Lord face to face in his personal presence, but this is not so for the mundane wrangler. All the potencies of the Lord are there when one reads Bhagavad-gītā, provided it is read in the way recommended in the Gītā by the Lord Himself. One cannot foolishly manufacture an interpretation of Bhagavad-gītā and still bring about transcendental benefit. Anyone who tries to squeeze some artificial meaning or interpretation from Bhagavad-gītā for an ulterior motive is not śraddadhāna-puṁsaḥ (one engaged anxiously in bona fide hearing of kṛṣṇa-kathā). Such a person cannot derive any benefit from reading Bhagavad-gīta, however great a scholar he may be in the estimation of a layman. The śraddadhāna, or faithful devotee, can actually derive all the benefits of Bhagavad-gītā because by the omnipotency of the Lord he achieves the transcendental bliss which vanquishes attachment and nullifies all concomitant material miseries. Only the devotee, by his factual experience, can understand the import of this verse spoken by Vidura. The pure devotee of the Lord enjoys life by constantly remembering the lotus feet of the Lord by hearing kṛṣṇa-kathā. For such a devotee there is no such thing as material existence, and the much advertised bliss of brahmānanda is like a fig for the devotee who is in the midst of the transcendental ocean of bliss.


tāñ chocya-śocyān avido ’nuśoce
hareḥ kathāyāṁ vimukhān aghena
kṣiṇoti devo ’nimiṣas tu yeṣām
āyur vṛthā-vāda-gati-smṛtīnām

tān—all those; śocya—pitiable; śocyān—of the pitiable; avidaḥ—ignorant; anuśoce—I pity; hareḥ—of the Lord; kathāyām—to the topics of; vimukhān—averse; aghena—because of sinful activities; kṣiṇoti—decaying; devaḥ—the Lord; animiṣaḥ—eternal time; tu—but; yeṣām—of whom; āyuḥ—duration of life; vṛthā—uselessly; vāda—philosophical speculations; gati—ultimate goal; smṛtīnām—of those following different rituals.


O sage, persons who because of their sinful activities are averse to the topics of Transcendence and thus ignorant of the purpose of the Mahābhārata [Bhagavad-gītā] are pitied by the pitiable. I also pity them because I see how their duration of life is spoiled by eternal time while they involve themselves in presentations of philosophical speculation, theoretical ultimate goals of life, and different modes of ritual.


According to the modes of material nature, there are three kinds of relationships between human beings and the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Those who are in the modes of ignorance and passion are averse to the existence of God, or else they formally accept the existence of God in the capacity of an order supplier. Above them are those who are in the mode of goodness. This second class of men believe the Supreme Brahman to be impersonal. They accept the cult of bhakti, in which hearing of kṛṣṇa-kathā is the first item, as a means and not the end. Above them are those who are pure devotees. They are situated in the transcendental stage above the mode of material goodness. Such persons are decidedly convinced that the name, form, fame, qualities, etc., of the Personality of Godhead are non different from one another on the absolute plane. For them, hearing of the topics of Kṛṣṇa is equal to meeting with Him face to face. According to this class of men, who are situated in pure devotional service to the Lord, the highest goal of human life is puruṣārtha, devotional service to the Lord, the real mission of life. The impersonalists, because they engage in mental speculation and have no faith in the Personality of Godhead, have no business hearing the topics of Kṛṣṇa. Such persons are pitiable for the first-class pure devotees of the Lord. The pitiable impersonalists pity those who are influenced by the modes of ignorance and passion, but the pure devotees of the Lord take pity on them both because both waste their most valuable time in the human form of life in false pursuits, sense enjoyment and mental speculative presentations of different theories and goals of life.


tad asya kauṣārava śarma-dātur
hareḥ kathām eva kathāsu sāram
uddhṛtya puṣpebhya ivārta-bandho
śivāya naḥ kīrtaya tīrtha-kīrteḥ

tat—therefore; asya—His; kauṣārava—O Maitreya; śarma-dātuḥ—of one who awards good fortune; hareḥ—of the Lord; kathām—topics; eva—only; kathāsu—of all topics; sāram—the essence; uddhṛtya—by quoting; puṣpebhyaḥ—from the flowers; iva—like that; ārta-bandho—O friend of the distressed; śivāya—for welfare; naḥ—of us; kīrtaya—kindly describe; tīrtha—pilgrimage; kīrteḥ—of glorious.


O Maitreya, O friend of the distressed, the glories of the Supreme Lord can alone do good for people all over the world. Therefore, just as bees collect honey from flowers, kindly describe the essence of all topics—the topics of the Lord.


There are many topics for different persons in different modes of material nature, but the essential topics are those in relationship with the Supreme Lord. Unfortunately, materially affected conditioned souls are all more or less averse to topics of the Supreme Lord because some of them do not believe in the existence of God and some of them believe only in the impersonal feature of the Lord. In both cases there is nothing for them to say of God. Both the nonbelievers and the impersonalists deny the essence of all topics; therefore, they engage in topics of relativity in various ways, either in sense gratification or in mental speculation. For the pure devotees like Vidura, the topics of both the mundaners and the mental speculators are useless in all respects. Thus Vidura requested Maitreya to talk of the essence only, the talks of Kṛṣṇa, and nothing else.


sa viśva-janma-sthiti-saṁyamārthe
kṛtāvatāraḥ pragṛhīta-śaktiḥ
cakāra karmāṇy atipūruṣāṇi
yānīśvaraḥ kīrtaya tāni mahyam

saḥ—the Personality of Godhead; viśva—universe; janma—creation; sthiti—maintenance; saṁyama-arthe—with a view to perfect control; kṛta—accepted; avatāraḥ—incarnation; pragṛhīta—accomplished with; śaktiḥ—potency; cakāra—performed; karmāṇi—transcendental activities; ati-pūruṣāṇi—superhuman; yāni—all those; īśvaraḥ—the Lord; kīrtaya—please chant; tāni—all those; mahyam—unto me.


Kindly chant all those superhuman transcendental activities of the supreme controller, the Personality of Godhead, who accepted incarnations fully equipped with all potency for the full manifestation and maintenance of the cosmic creation.


Vidura was undoubtedly very eager to hear about Lord Kṛṣṇa in particular, but he was overwhelmed because Lord Kṛṣṇa had just passed away from the visible world. He therefore wanted to hear about Him in His puruṣa incarnations, which He manifests with full potencies for the creation and maintenance of the cosmic world. The activities of the puruṣa incarnations are but an extension of the activities of the Lord. This hint was given by Vidura to Maitreya because Maitreya could not decide which part of the activities of Lord Kṛṣṇa should he chanted.


śrī-śuka uvāca

sa evaṁ bhagavān pṛṣṭaḥ
kṣattrā kauṣāravo muniḥ
puṁsāṁ niḥśreyasārthena
tam āha bahu-mānayan

śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; saḥ—he; evam—thus; bhagavān—the great sage; pṛṣṭaḥ—being requested; kṣattrā—by Vidura; kauṣāravaḥ—Maitreya; muniḥ—the great sage; puṁsām—for all people; niḥśreyasa—for the greatest welfare; arthena—for that; tam—unto him; āha—narrated; bahu—greatly; mānayan—honoring.


Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: The great sage Maitreya Muni, after honoring Vidura very greatly, began to speak, at Vidura’s request, for the greatest welfare of all people.


The great sage Maitreya Muni is described here as bhagavān because he surpassed all ordinary human beings in learning and experience. Thus his selection of the greatest welfare service for the world is considered authoritative. The all-inclusive welfare service for the entire human society is devotional service to the Lord, and, as requested by Vidura, the sage described the same very appropriately.

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