Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 2.1.1 , Los Angeles , 1970-06-30


varīyān eṣa te praśnaḥ
kṛto loka-hitam nṛpa
ātmavit-sammataḥ puṁsāṁ
śrotavyādiṣu yaḥ paraḥ

This is a verse, the first verse, the first chapter of Second Canto Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, spoken by Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Śukadeva Gosvāmī came to the scene when Mahārāja Parīkṣit was on the verge of his death. So he was perplexed what to do at the time of death. That is the critical position of our life: we may be very proud of our knowledge of our acquisitions—education, wealth, riches, so many things make your material acquisitions—but the critical time is death, because whatever you have acquired by dint of your bodily labor you have to leave them aside, and you have to open a second chapter of your life.

Therefore death is a critical point. People do not understand it, neither is there any educational system what is after death. That is the deficiency of the modern civilization: they do not know what is after death. Somebody will say that when this body is finished, everything is finished; there is no more life. Somebody will say, "Yes, there is life."

Now, taking these two statements as not identified, not verified, suppose if there is no life after death, that is all right. Then why you are so busy in this life for making provision? Why you are thinking of your family, why you're thinking of your state, of yourself? You are making good bank balance, making will so that "My sons and future generations will live peacefully..." If your this body is temporary and finished after death, then why are you so anxious about your nation, of your society, of your family? Why you are wasting your times? That is the question. But if you think that there is life after death, then what provision you are making for that? These are the questions.

So far Vedic knowledge is concerned, life is not a sport; it is continuation. We learn it, this rudimentary knowledge is given in the beginning of the Bhagavad-gītā, that na jāyate na mriyate vā kadācin [Bg. 2.20]: "My dear Arjuna, the living entity is never born, neither he dies." The death and birth is of this body, and your journey is continuously... Just like you change your dress, similarly you change your body; you get another body. Therefore if we follow the instruction of ācāryas, or authorities, then there is life after death.

And how to make provision for the next life? Because this life is preparation for the next life. There is a Bengali proverb, it is said, bhajan koro sādhan koro murte jānle haya. The purport is that you may be very proud of your advancement of knowledge, material or spiritual, but everything will be tested at the time of your death, because you are going to another stage.

So Parīkṣit Mahārāja was cursed by a brāhmaṇa. He offended the brāhmaṇa somehow or other. That was not an offense; an accident. Anyway, he was cursed by a brāhmaṇa boy that "Within seven days you will meet with death." So he left his kingdom and entrusted the whole state to his sons, and he came out of home. He sat down on the bank of the Ganges, and because he was emperor, so many great sages, saintly persons, all assembled there that the king was going to die within seven days, "So we must meet and give him words of solace." So the question was, "What is now my duty? So long I was not aware of my death..." Of course, everyone is aware of his death. Death is... "As sure as death." But under the influence of māyā, we think that we shall live.

That is another wonderful thing. Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira was asked by Yamarāja, "What is the most wonderful thing in this world?" So he replied, "The most wonderful thing is this, that every moment millions of living entities are dying, but one who is living, he thinks that 'I will not die.' " I will die. Everyone will die. but "I will not die. No." This is the most wonderful thing. But death is "As sure as death."

So Parīkṣit Mahārāja was given seven days' notice, that he will die within seven days. But so far we are concerned, we have no even seven minutes' notice. We do not know at any moment we can die; therefore how much careful we should be. That is real knowledge: how much we must care to be careful; what is our duty before the next death comes. Death will come.

Bhāgavata says that labdhvā su-durlabham idaṁ bahu-sambhavānte [SB 11.9.29]: "My dear human being, you have got this body after many many evolutionary changes, from aquatics up to this civilized form of body." Labdhvā su-durlabham idaṁ bahu-sambhavānte. "After many, many births you have got this valuable body, human form of body." Mānuṣyam artha-dam: this body, human body, can give you the highest profit. Highest. In other body you cannot have, but in this body you can profit very highly.

And what is that profit? Niḥśreyasāya. The Bhāgavata says that you try in this body for your highest benefit. Don't be encumbered by the present necessities of body. You just try for the highest benefit of your life. In many places these descriptions are there. In another place it is stated,

tasyaiva hetoḥ prayateta kovido
na labhyate yad bhramatām upary adhaḥ
[SB 1.5.18]

You are trying to go up and down. You're trying to go to the moon planet, sun planet, very high, or you may try to go down. But there is one thing that you cannot get by simply traveling up and down, bhramatām upary adhaḥ. You should try for that thing: tasyaiva hetoḥ prayateta kovido, na labhyate yad bhramatām upary adhaḥ. Simply by traveling up and down you cannot get that. And what is that? Niḥśreyasāya, the highest benefit. And what is that highest benefit? The highest benefit is to stop your birth and death and to go back to home, back to God. That is wanted.

Devotees: Jaya.

Prabhupāda: That you can have in this life. So therefore Parīkṣit Mahārāja, he was learned, very highly elevated king, very pious king, so he called for all the sages to assemble and give him advice, "Now what is my duty? I am now at the point of death."

So somebody recommended something, somebody recommended something else. There are many opinions in this world. Similarly, amongst the philosophers, amongst the religionists, amongst the transcendentalists there are many opinions. But by chance Śukadeva Gosvāmī was present, so everyone agreed that "Whatever Śukadeva Gosvāmī will recommend, my dear King, you accept, because he is liberated person."

So Parīkṣit Mahārāja enquired from Śukadeva Gosvāmī because Parīkṣit Mahārāja belonged to the families of the Pāṇḍavas. He is the grandson of Arjuna; therefore they are Kṛṣṇa conscious, naturally they are Kṛṣṇa conscious family. So he enquired from Śukadeva Gosvāmī that "Is it not my duty to hear about Kṛṣṇa only at the present moment?" He enquired. He was confident that "My duty is now to concentrate my mind fully on Kṛṣṇa. At least I have got this chance of seven days' living. So long I was engaged in state management, kingdom management, family affairs, society, so many things, but at this point of death I think I should fully concentrate my mind in Kṛṣṇa."

So when he said like that, Śukadeva Gosvāmī was very glad, because he is also Vaiṣṇava, he knows the science of Kṛṣṇa. So he thanked him and he eulogized him, and therefore he says this verse: varīyān eṣa te praśnaḥ kṛto loka-hitam nṛpa [SB 2.1.1], "My dear King, your question is very nice," varīyān. Varīyān means excellent, superexcellent. Varīyān eṣa te praśnaḥ. "Your question...," praśnaḥ means question, "superexcellent, and you have done it for the benefit of the whole human society, because you have made this question and I shall answer, so in future the human society will hear and they will be benefited."

So similarly, this answer which will be given by Śukadeva Gosvāmī, that is not meant for only Parīkṣit Mahārāja, who was on the verge of death; it is meant for everyone, because every one of us is on the verge of death. That you should know. We do not know when the death overcoming us, so everyone, even a child. Don't think that "Oh, I am young man. I am only twenty years old. I have nothing to do about Kṛṣṇa." No. You are also needed..., you must always know that death is just like waiting upon your head; at any moment you can be finished.

That is the instruction of Cāṇakya Paṇḍita. Cāṇakya Paṇḍita says that if you want to be a karmī, then you should always think that "I shall live forever." But if you want to be a transcendentalist, a seeker of perfection of knowledge in spiritual understanding, then you should always think that "I am going to death next moment." "I am going to die next moment." If a karmī thinks like that, that "I shall die," then he will be discouraged. "Then why am I working so hard?" Eh? Just like Arjuna said. Arjuna took the position of a karmī when he was advised by Kṛṣṇa to fight. He saw that "I have to fight with my brothers and my grandfather and my nephews. Then after killing them, if I get the victory and get the kingdom, then what do I profit?"

This is karmī's view. They want some profit to enjoy personally; therefore if they think that "I am going to die next moment," then their karmī activities will be stopped. Therefore Cāṇakya Paṇḍita says that "You think that you shall live forever," although it is false, just to give him impetus. But those who are transcendentalist, those who are after going back to home, back to Godhead, they should be serious, and they should know that "I am going to die at any moment."

So, varīyān eṣa te praśnaḥ, Parīkṣit Mahārāja is the [indistinct] by Śukadeva Gosvāmī, that "My dear King, you have put a nice question," and loka-hitam, loka hitam, "it is very beneficial to the human society." Ātmavit-sammataḥ. Why it is beneficial to the human society? Because this kind of praśnaḥ, or question, is approved by the ātmavit. Ātmavit, the self-realized person.

There are many questions and many answers, but the question and answer put by the self-realized person, that is first class. Therefore he says that "Your question is ātmavit-sammataḥ, approved by the self-realized persons," and puṁsāṁśrotavyādiṣu yaḥ paraḥ, "and it is the sublime subject matter for hearing." Sublime, the highest, the topmost, the supermost subject matter, because there are...

We are always hearing. You have come here to hear something. Or if you go to some other political organization, there also you will hear. If you go to some scientific organization, there also you will hear. If you go to your school, your college, you will hear, because hearing is our process to acquire knowledge. Ah. So he says, śrotavyādiṣu yaḥ paraḥ: there are many subject matters for hearing, but this kind of hearing is the supermost, and it is approved by the self-realized person, and it is beneficial to the human society.

Then he said,

śrotavyādīni rājendra
nṛṇāṁ santi sahasraśaḥ
apaśyatām ātma-tattvaṁ
gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām

This each and every word of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is full of meaning. If one word is explained, it will take three hours. That much time we haven't got. We have to describe everything very shortly. So he says, "My dear King, there are many subject matters for hearing, and..." But he says that many subject matters for hearing for whom? Apaśyatām ātma-tattvaṁ: those who are blind for self-realization.

For them there are many things, subject matter for hearing, ātma-tattvaṁ apaśyatām. Ātma-tattvaṁ means the subject matter of self-realization. Apaśyatām, one who has not seen the difference between Kṛṣṇa conscious person and ordinary person, is that the ordinary person does not see what is the aim of his life, but a Kṛṣṇa conscious person knows what is the aim of his life. That is the difference.

Na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇuṁ [SB 7.5.31], that is also explained. Ordinary person, they do not know what is actual their self-interest. Everyone is busy, self-interested. Either individually or socially or communally or nationally, everyone is self-interested. Without self-interest, nobody works. But what is that self-interest the human society does not know.

That is explained in the Bhāgavatam: na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇuṁ. They have lost the view of their self-interest. Why? Durāśayā ye bahir-artha-māninaḥ: they have got a false idea of becoming happy in this material world. They cannot be happy, but still they are hoping, hoping against hope [indistinct].

So many organizations are being manufactured, even the highest organization, the United Nation, to make the human society happy, but they have failed, because they do not know what is the aim of human life. Na te viduḥ, they do not know, svārtha-gatiṁ, self-interested way. Why? Durāśayā. Durāśayā means an expectation which will never be fulfilled. They do not know it.

They are all after searching for peace and prosperity, but there is no possibility of peace without Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That they do not know. There is no possibility, definitely. Any man can come, and we can challenge that there is no possibility of peace and prosperity without Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That they do not know. Therefore it is said durāśayā, the expectation, the hope which will never be fulfilled.

Bahir-artha-māninaḥ: attracted by the external feature. This material world is the external features of God. It is called māyā, illusion. It is compared with the mirage in the desert. Just like in the desert the animal sees there is water and he runs after the water. And as he runs, the water also advances, the animal also advances, and at the time when he becomes fatigued and tired, he dies. So similarly, by material advancement of knowledge we are simply after that mirage water in the desert. Where is water in the desert? It is simply illusion.

Na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇuṁ. Therefore those who are not searching after Viṣṇu, or those who are not serious about becoming Kṛṣṇa conscious, or God conscious, they are simply after like that, mirage water in the desert. Na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇuṁ durāśayā ye bahir-artha-māninaḥ andhā yathāndhair upanīyamānās. Then what about these leaders? Everyone has got some leader—this political leader, that political leader; that religious leader, that philosophical leader, scientist leader—so many. They are leading common men.

So Bhāgavata says, andhā yathāndhair upanīyamānās te 'pīśa-tantryām uru-dāmni baddhāḥ [SB 7.5.31]. These leaders, they are blind, and they are trying to lead other blind men. So what is the result? If your eyes are opened, then you can talk of other blind men, "Please come along with me. I shall cross the road." But if you are yourself blind, then how you can lead other blind? So the leaders, the blind men leaders, they are leading other blind men, andhā yathāndhair upanīyamānās te 'pīśa-tantryām uru-dāmni baddhāḥ, although the leaders and the led, both are tightly knot by the laws of nature. This is the position.

Therefore here it is specifically said that subject matter for hearing, there are many. Many for whom? Apaśyatām ātma-tattvaṁ, those who are blind for self-realization, gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām. Gṛheṣu means in household affairs, and gṛha-medhinām. Gṛhamedhī... There are two words in the Vedic literature: one is called gṛhamedhī, and another is called gṛhastha. Gṛhastha means householder, and gṛhamedhī means living in the house, but his aim is sense gratification. And gṛhastha means... Gṛhastha is also an āśrama.

According to Vedic civilization there are four..., eight divisions, varṇāśrama: four varṇas and four āśramas. Four varṇas means division of social order: the brāhmaṇas, the kṣatriyas, the vaiśyas and the śūdras. Similarly, there are four orders of spiritual advancement: brahmacārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha, sannyāsa. The spiritual advancement division is called āśrama. So gṛhastha āśrama means one will live with family—husband, wife, children—but their aim is Viṣṇu. So he is gṛhastha. It doesn't matter, sannyāsa āśrama, just like we have accepted sannyāsa āśrama, so aim is Kṛṣṇa. Similarly, if one lives as gṛhastha with family living...

It depends on one's choice. If you like, if you think that accepting sannyāsa āśrama you will be better to advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then you accept it. Don't accept it is simply to make a show. But if you think that "If I live within family members, oh, that will help me more in Kṛṣṇa consciousness," then live in that way. There is no obligation that you have to become a sannyāsī or you have to become a brahmacārī, then you can realize. No. Any platform, if your aim is Kṛṣṇa and Viṣṇu, that is your self-interest.

Guest: [indistinct]

Prabhupāda: That is your self-interest. But they do not know what is their self-interest. So either he becomes a sannyāsī or a gṛhastha, it is all useless, because his aim is missing. Therefore we should have the aim. What is the aim? The aim is Viṣṇu, and one who has accepted this fact, that "My life will be perfect when I become fully Kṛṣṇa conscious," they are called ātmavit, one who knows the importance of himself.

So here... [break] ...that is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā:

vyavasāyātmikā buddhir
ekeha kuru-nandana
bahu-śākhā hy anantāś ca
buddhayo 'vyavasāyinām

Those who are fixed up... One who is fixed up that "This is the aim of my life," his business is one, ekā. And one who is not fixed up, avyavasāyinām, one who has no definite aim of life, bahu-śākhā hy anantāś ca, he is manufacturing different types of knowledge: "This knowledge will satisfy this, this knowledge will satisfy this, this knowledge will satisfy..." No. No knowledge will satisfy you so long you are blind to see your self-interest.

So Parīkṣit Mahārāja…, er, Śukadeva Gosvāmī says, apaśyatām gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām. Here he has used this very word gṛhamedhī. Gṛhamedhī means just like in the ordinary sense, at the present day a householder means his aim is that "I should have a nice apartment, I should have a nice car, and I should have a nice bank balance. My wife should be very nicely dressed, my children should be nicely educated, and...," oh, in this way simply. But what is the aim of life he does not know. He is called gṛhamedhī.

But one who knows that "The dressing of my children or my wife, or having a good apartment or having a car, these are superfluous. My aim is how to achieve the highest perfection of life and becoming Kṛṣṇa conscious," that is gṛhastha. He may be had with family and children, but his aim being fixed up on Viṣṇu, he is gṛhastha, gṛhastha āśrama. That family life is also āśrama.

Just like this temple, you can call it is āśrama, similarly, any person living with family but the aim is how to understand Kṛṣṇa, he is a gṛhastha. And one who is missing that point, simply thinking how to materially become happy—that is not possible, but he is after that; that māyā, illusion—he is called gṛhamedhī. Therefore that very word is used here, gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām.

So what is the business of gṛhamedhī? That is explained here:

nidrayā hriyate naktaṁ
vyavāyena ca vā vayaḥ
divā cārthehayā rājan
kuṭumba-bharaṇena vā

[indistinct]. Those who are blind to their self-interest, or those who have not taken to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, those who do not know what is the aim of life, their business is like this. What is that? The business is that nidrayā hriyate naktaṁ. At night they sleep or have sex pleasure. That's all. This is night's business. Because there are two things: day and night. So night's business is sleeping and sex enjoyment, and vyava, vyavāyena ca vā vayaḥ, and daytime, "Where is money? Where is money? Where is money?"

Guest: [indistinct]

Prabhupāda: Fly your motorcar this way, this way and that way; find out where is money. All right, get this money, then stop. "No," he says. Divā cārthehayā rājan kuṭumba-bharaṇena vā. And as soon as he gets money, then immediately there is list for to purchase for my wife or to purchase for my children for to purchase for this, store, going to the store.

So this is day's business and night's business; then where is the opportunity for self-realization? If you spoil your day and night like this, then where is the possibility of self-realization? Where you get time? This is the business of gṛhamedhī.

But a gṛhastha, who is Kṛṣṇa conscious from the very beginning of his life, even from the death, at four o'clock he is anxious how to perform maṅgala-ārati. You see? And immediately he goes to the Deity room with children, with husband or wife, and cleanses the Deity room very nicely and changes the dress of the Deity and offers flowers, because at six o'clock there will be immediately kīrtana. So just after rising from the bed his business becomes Kṛṣṇa, and the whole day and night, up to 10 o'clock, he is engaged in this way. So what he will dream at night: simply Kṛṣṇa.

Devotees: Haribol! Haribol!

Prabhupāda: Therefore his business is twenty-four hours Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and the gṛhamedhī is simply engaged in day and night how to satisfy the senses. That is the difference between gṛhamedhī and gṛhastha. Just try to understand these two words. Gṛha means house. House, what is house? These four walls and a ceiling. That's all. So we are also we are also living. This room is now called sanctuary, because you are talking about Kṛṣṇa, and you can make it a drinking club also. The room is the same, but when the business is different it is called sanctuary, and when the business is different it is called a brothel.

So to remain as gṛhastha, as householder, is not condemned, but it should be Kṛṣṇa conscious. Just like in our Society there are..., some of them are gṛhasthas, some of them are brahmacārī, some of them... Like that. There are four āśramas. There is nothing condemned, because the aim is Kṛṣṇa. If the aim is Kṛṣṇa, then your life, your interest is all right. If the aim is not Kṛṣṇa, then you're losing the opportunity of this human form of life.

Thank you very much.

Devotees: Jaya Prabhupāda! [end]