Srimad Bhagavatam Class at Mayapur

By Radhanath Swami - 2.3 2018

Transcription by Madhumathi Pattabiraman

Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.20.13

samaḥ samanottama-madhyamadhamaḥ

sukhe ca duḥkhe ca jitendriyasayaḥ


vidhatsva virakhila-loka-raksaṇam


My dear heroic King, please keep yourself always equipoised and treat people equally, whether they are greater than you, in the intermediate stage or lower than you. Do not be disturbed by temporary distress or happiness. Fully control your mind and senses. In this transcendental position, try to execute your duty as king in whatever condition of life you may be posted by My arrangement, for your only duty here is to give protection to the citizens of your kingdom.


Here is an example of receiving direct instruction from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Viṣṇu. One has to execute the order of Lord Viṣṇu, whether receiving it directly from Him or from His bona fide representative, the spiritual master. Arjuna fought the Battle of Kurukṣetra under the direct order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa. Similarly, here Pṛthu Mahārāja is also being given orders by Lord Viṣṇu regarding the execution of his duty. We have to stick to the principles stated in the Bhagavad-gītā.Vyavasāyātmikābuddhiḥ: every man’s duty is to receive orders from Lord Kṛṣṇa or from His bona fide representative and take these orders as his life and soul, without personal considerations. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura states that one should not care very much whether he is going to be liberated or not, but he should simply execute the direct order received from the spiritual master. If one sticks to the principle of abiding by the order of the spiritual master, he will always remain in a liberated position. A common man must execute the rules and regulations of varṇāśrama–dharma by working in his prescribed duty according to the caste system (brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra) and the spiritual-order system (brahmacarya, gṛhastha, vānaprastha and sannyāsa). If one simply executes regularly and strictly the injunctions given for the different divisions of life, then one satisfies Lord Viṣṇu.

As a king, Pṛthu Mahārāja was ordered by Lord Viṣṇu to keep himself always aloof from the activities of the bodily situation and to engage always in the service of the Lord and thus keep himself in the liberated stage. The word baddha–sauhṛdāḥ in the previous verse is explained herewith. One can fully remain in intimate connection with the Supreme Lord directly or receive orders from His bona fide representative the spiritual master and execute the orders sincerely when one keeps aloof from the activities of the body. The Lord helps us by giving us directions how to act in devotional service and thus advance on the path back home, back to Godhead. He instructs us outwardly in the form of the spiritual master. Therefore, one should not accept the spiritual master as an ordinary human being. The Lord says, ācāryaṁmāṁ vijānīyān nāva–manyetakarhicit: one should not treat the spiritual master as an ordinary human being, for he is the substitute for the Supreme Personality of Godhead (Bhāg. 11.17.27). One should treat the spiritual master as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and never be envious of him or consider him to be an ordinary human being. If we follow the instruction of the spiritual master and execute devotional service to the Lord, we will remain always free from the contamination of bodily and material activities, and our life will be successful.

_ _ _

Hare Krishna.

It is my honor and my fortune to try to serve you by trying to speak something today.

This particular verse was chosen by the higher powers of the ILS for me to speak today. The chapter is entitled “Lord Visnu’s Appearance in the Sacrificial Arena”.

“My dear heroic King, please keep yourself always equipoised and treat people equally, whether they are greater than you, in the intermediate stage or lower than you. Do not be disturbed by temporary distress or happiness. Fully control your mind and senses. In this transcendental position, try to execute your duty as king in whatever condition of life you may be posted by My arrangement, for your only duty here is to give protection to the citizens of your kingdom.”

These words are spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Visnu, to Prithu Maharaja. This particular principle of how to treat everyone equally is repeated in many places by Srila Prabhupada, by our acaryas, and in our scriptures.

Narada Muni, in his instructions to Dhruva Maharaja, he gave him a simple formula: If you want to be happy, transcend the influence of the suffering modes of nature, do three things. For those who are in a higher or superior position to you, whether it be by their accomplishments, by their position, by people’s appreciation, you should be happy. You should be very happy for their good fortune.

In this spirit, serve them with appreciation for those who you know are lower position than ourselves. We should be compassionate and do everything we can to lift them up to a higher place and for those who are in an equal position we should become their intimate friends and well- wishers. Srila Prabhupada’s purport elaborates that the material tendency is when people are in a higher and more successful positon than ourselves we become envious. We want them to come down so we can be above them. Srila Prabhupada, many times, he defines a Vaishnava as one who has no envy. If someone is more successful, there is this tendency to be envious…. to become depressed.

We should calculate that what pleases Krsna is when we are happy for them, that we are happy to serve them.

When someone is in a lower position, the nature is to become arrogant, condescending, thinking of ourselves superior. A Vaisnava is compassionate, wants to uplift them and serve them in that way.

Srila Prabhupada tells that for equals the tendency is to boast about our own accomplishments. But we serve our equals by truly being their well-wishers and befriending them in that way.

The next part of this verse, Prithu Maharaja is given the instruction to not be disturbed by happiness or distress.

matra-sparsas tu kaunteya sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah

Krsna tells in Bhagavad-Gita, the non-permanent appearance of happiness and distress, all these dualities, pleasure-pain, health-disease, they are coming and going like the winter and summer seasons. One should learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.

Srila Prabhupada explains without being disturbed means our service is not disturbed. The integrity and character in which we perform our service is stable, despite what may come or what may not come.

A wonderful example of this particular verse is found in the in the Ninth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. The king, Rantideva, how did he rule his citizens? This example is coming just before we learn about Krsna’s advent and pastimes in the Tenth Canto because to understand this spirit of a Vaisnava, this character, is necessary before we can actually be able to open our hearts to receive the message of Krsna’s pastimes.

Rantideva, being the king, was greatly powerful, but he lived for his citizens, every one of them. Srila Prabhupada explains, a leader, in the role of a king, sees everyone subordinate as praja, just like a father or mother cares for their own children. Rantideva understood that in order to bring about real spiritual as well as material prosperity to his citizens, he had to please Krsna.

Yajnarthat karmano nyatra lokoyam karma bandana

That we please Krsna by performing yajna. So his particular yajna, he went to a lonely place with his family, fasted without food or water for forty-eight days, until he was on the verge of death. This is how much he cared.

At that time, a wonderful, large feast of prasad was brought to him in this secluded place. He sat down with his family to eat and a Brahmana appeared. The Brahmana cried out, “O King, I am very hungry. Please feed me.”

The king fed the Brahmana to his full satisfaction, then sat down and served out his whole family. When he was just about to eat, a sudra came. The sudra said, “I am hungry. Do you have any food?”

He fed this person to his full satisfaction. He sat down again, trembling with hunger and thirst.

At that moment, another person came. He said, “I am very hungry. Please feed me. And I am surrounded by dogs. They are hungry, too. Feed them.”

Rantideva fed the human and every dog to their full satisfaction. And dogs can eat a lot sometimes.

All that was left was one cup of water, just enough to save his life until some more food may have come. When he was just about to drink that water, a person just came out of the jungle. He had no caste. He has no social position. He had no education. Nobody knew who he was. He said, “Do you have water? I am thirsty.”

Now this was life or death and he knew it.

At that moment, Rantideva folded his hands together and offered a prayer, “I do not pray to the Supreme Personality of Godhead for the eight mystic siddhis. I do not pray for mukti, liberation. My only prayer is I may take birth among all living entities and endure suffering to help them be free of suffering. By giving this man my water, which is my life, I will never again experience thirst or hunger or moroseness, lamentation.” Then he took that water and gave it to this person coming out of the jungle.

At that moment, Brahma, Siva and other devatas appeared and they told him, “Actually we appeared in these people that were coming. We wanted to show the world what a great person truly is.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam, in relation to Lord Siva drinking all that poison out of compassion, it describes, the service that pleases the supreme Lord more than anything is to endure difficulties in compassion for others.

yad yad acarati sresṭhas, tat tad evetaro janah

Krsna tells in Bhagavad-gita that what leaders do, common men follow.

Rantideva and his entire kingdom were devotees, devotees of Visnu. They all followed in his footsteps. That was the standard, the standard of actually enduring difficulties, understanding we are not this body, but Krsna is within the heart of every living being and living accordingly.

The context of today’s verse very much focuses on this principle.

Just prior to Visnu coming, Prithu Maharaja was also the king of the world. He is performing yajnas, not for himself, but for all his citizens. The more we have, the more we can give. The yajna is to please Lord Visnu. In those days, it was asmavedha yajna. He performed ninety-nine such sacrifices. Very difficult. At that time, Indra was very disturbed because Indra is famous throughout the universe as Satakratu, which means the only person ever lived who has performed 100 of these yajnas, the world record, the universal record.

He is very attached to that fame, that prestige, that accomplishment. Indra’s a devotee in a very high position, but somehow or other, he became envious of Prithu Maharaja because he knew that Prithu Maharaja could do not only a hundred, but even more.

So in that envy, his intelligence was so covered over that he became invisible and stole the horse.

When Prithu Maharaja’s son saw that the horse was stolen, he followed and there was Indra. When Indra saw him coming, he disguised himself as a holy man in the renounced order of life. The son of Prithu, he offered obeisances because kings are supposed to serve great brahmanas and holy men.

Atri Rsi knew exactly what happened, he said, “No, it’s Indra, he is cheating you.”

They were about to do the yajna again and again Indra stole the horse. Again the son of Prithu chased after him. Again he disguised himself as a holy man. He gave the horse back. He kept stealing the horse again and again and each time he would disguise himself as a different lineage of holy people pretending himself to be religious, as a facade for his envy.

Eventually, because Prithu Maharaja was considering the wellbeing of all his citizens, “Why should Indra cause so much disturbance to everyone?”He himself picked up his bow and arrow to punish Indra.

Indra now did not have a chance. Prithu Maharaja is a saktyavesa avatara. The brahmanas of the yajna, they told Prithu Maharaja, “It is not auspicious if you sacrifice Indra like this. We will do it ourselves. We will chant mantras that will force Indra to fall into the fire and burn.”

So Prithu agreed.

They were doing their yajna and they were just about to offer this final oblation with the name of Indra. At that moment, Lord Brahma appeared. Brahma is the guru. He is original guru of the universe.

Brahma said, “Do not kill Indra. “It is not good for anyone. We have to resolve this by a higher principle.” Brahma told Prithu Maharaja, “Let there be ninety-nine yajnas. Let there be good fortune for you and for Indra and for everyone else.”

Now, from a sociological, rational perspective, Indra being the king, he was totally justified to kill Indra. But Brahma was speaking a higher principle. That higher principle, because Indra is a leader, and he, due to envy, he has disguised his envy behind all these religious forms, therefore, the common people from now on are going to follow him.

That’s the responsibility of a leader. You must set the example that people can follow according to the higher principle of samsiddhir-hari-tosanam, what pleases the Supreme Lord.

It’s interesting that this tendency is there that we have envy in our hearts, we have arrogance in our hearts, and the ego infected mind disguises our envy as dharma. And yes, I can criticize, I can blaspheme, I can do so many terrible thigs to others and it is in the name of dharma. It is representing the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Any of us can think like that. That is the nature of the false ego and that is exactly what Indra did. In his heart, he obviously justified that what he was doing was dharmic, it was for his service to the universe. That is why we need to submissively hear from the higher authorities. Even Prithu Maharaja is saktyavesa avatara and he is the king, he submitted to the higher wisdom of Lord Brahma. The higher principle was to create unity in this situation.

Srimad-Bhagavatam tells that Prithu Maharaja, with great affection, followed Brahma’s order. It wasn’t, “I want to do this. I need to do this. I have to do this. Brahma is telling me I can’t do this, so I surrender.” That’s not the way Vaisnavas do things. With great happiness and affection, “Yes, if this is what pleases Brahma, this what I will do.”

And he gave all forgiveness to Indira and never did another yajna after that ninety-nine.

For materialistic people, who are interested in materialistic accomplishments and universal, world records, Indra got the better part of this pastime. He is still the only one with one hundred yajnas. But those who are devotees, they understand Prithu was victorious. We are celebrating Prithu even though Indra won materially. Indra was victorious in his purpose. We see him as an example of what not to do, what never to do.

Prithu Maharaja lost materially but we see him mahajano yena, as a mahajana, we want to follow this. This is the path back home, back to Godhead.

The whole concept of yajna is to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is no other purpose to a yajna. It is not how we technically perform the yajna, but it is the spirit of our hearts, whether it is going to please the Lord.

yajnah sankirtana-prayair

In this age of Kali, the greatest yajna is sankirtana, the chanting of the holy names of the Lord.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave us a simple principle:

trinad api sunicena, taror api sahisnuna

amanina manadena, kirtaniyah sada harih

We must be very attentive. We must be disciplined. We must be regulated in how we perform this yajna of chanting God’s names. But at the same time, Lord Caitanya gave us this verse. To the degree we are following these principles of humility and tolerance and respect to others, to that degree he is going to be pleased with our chanting.

How we treat each other is going to very much determine if Krsna is going to be pleased to reveal himself in the chanting of the holy names.

Srila Prabhupada, there were many instances where if something was technically correct or incorrect, he would teach the devotees to respect the higher principle – what will please Him.

Ramayana. Jayatu. He was an old bird, a vulture at that. Ravana, he kind of followed in the footsteps of Indra, too. In order to kidnap Sita, he took the form of a holy man to deceive her. Sita trusted him and was vulnerable to him abducting her.

He was flying in the sky with Sita on his chariot. And Jatayu, in a place near Pancavati, Nasik, he saw Sita being dragged away by Ravana. She was crying out for help. When she saw Jatayu, she said, “You are too old. You cannot fight against Ravana.”

Now he was in his original ten-headed raksasa form. She said, “Just tell Rama what happened, where I am going.”

But Jatayu, even though he really didn’t have a chance, he was really old, he practically didn’t move for years, he was just sitting there, he could not tolerate this. He called out to Ravana and he attacked. There was a good fight. Jatayu was so enthusiastic, so determined. He was winning. But after some time, he became tired. And seeing that he didn’t have a chance, Ravana took his sword, “Pfft pfft pfft” [sounds effects], he cut off the two wings and legs of Jatayu.

Jatayu fell to the ground profusely bleeding. Sita, seeing how this devotee willingly gave up his life for her, she embraced Jatayu. She was weeping, crying, “No one is more dear to me than you.”

Then Ravana grabbed her and took her away.

A little later, Rama came there and saw Jatayu lying on the ground with his own blood surrounding him. When Krsna wants to test us, he knows thoroughly how to test us. Rama said to Laksmana, “Just see, this demon ate Sita. This is her blood all around. Now I will send him to the court of Yamaraja.”

aslisya va pada-ratam pinastu mam

adarsanan marma-hatam karotu va

yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato

mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparah

The Lord can treat us in any way.

Jatayu, with tears in his eyes, said, “Rama, I am Jatayu. I tried to help Sita.”

When Rama manifested his awareness of what happened, he placed Jatayu’s head on his hap and told Jatayu, “On this very day, I am sending you to my eternal abode of Vaikuntha to be my associate.”

Gazing, Jatayu went back home, back to Godhead.

So, question: Who won the battle? Ravana won the battle. Who won the war? Jatayu.

We cannot, as devotees, just calculate on the basis of the external appearances. Yes, Ravana defeated him materially, but ultimately, Ravana was destroyed along with his whole dynasty and Jatayu is forever famous for sacrificing his life in the service of Sita. Ravana is forever hated, at least his example and character, for his arrogance, his envy, his greed.

In Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s pastimes, there is a similar example. When Sripada Madhavendra Puri was on his death bed, he was crying out in feelings of separation from Krsna, “O Lord of Mathura, where have you gone? How will I live without you? It was the same mood that Srimati Radharani was experiencing, and the gopis, when Akrura took Krsna to Mathura.

One disciple, Ramacandra Puri, he was a sannaysi, he was a great scholar, academically. He said, “Guru Maharaja, if you are not seeing Krsna, then mediate on Brahman.”

Madhavendra Puri was so unhappy. He said, “Get out from here! I do not want to see your face! I am feeling separation from Krsna, longing for Krsna, and you are telling me to mediate on Brahman? Out from here!”

At the same time, Isvara Puri, he was also a sannyasi. He was so humbly serving his guru. He was a scholar, renounced order of life, but his greatest treasure was cleaning the body of Madhavendra Puri with his own hands, the stool and urine, because Madhavendra Puri was in a lila where he could not move. Isvara Puri was constantly chanting for Madhavendra Puri’s pleasure, the names, the pastimes, the glories of Krsna.

Madhavendra Puri was so happy with him, he blessed him. He said, “My child, I bless that you will become a great devotee and lover of Krsna.”

Of all the great acaryas of the world and all the great disciples of Madhavendra Puri, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu chose Isvara Puri to be his guru. He went to Gaya and personally served his guru. He massaged his feet. He massaged his legs. He cooked for him. He cleaned for him. He accepted initiation from him.

And he did not start his sankirtan movement. He was living here in Navadvipa for about eighteen years. He was Nimai Pandit, the great scholar. But when his guru, Isvara Puri, gave him instruction, “Chant Krsna’s holy names and spread love of Krsna throughout the world, through the sankirtana movement, it was only then that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came and established the harinama sankirtana movement for the higher principle of showing us we need to actually understand how to please our gurus, how to please the Supreme Lord through pleasing, in our movement, Srila Prabhupada.

Similarly, Nityananda Prabhu, who is Balarama himself, he traveled for twenty years and during his whole pilgrimage, he never preached, but when Caitanya Mahaprabhu told him and Haridasa Thakur, “Go to every house, whoever you meet, wherever you are, give this simple message: Chant Krsna’s names! Krsna is your mother! Krsna is your father! Krsna is your real wealth! Krsna is your very life and soul!”

Nityananda Prabhu and Haridasa, how enthusiastically they preached when they receive that order, to teach us the importance of this character in whatever we do, we are always servants trying to please our guru and our parampara.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, gave the same exact instruction that Lord Caitanya gave to Lord Nityananda and Isvara Puri gave to Lord Caitaya. The last instruction and the first instruction, “Spread Lord Caitanya’s message, the harinama sankirtana movement, through the world in the English language. You will benefit and the world will benefit.”

vyavasayatmika buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana

Srila Prabhupada took that instruction as his life and soul. When we read Srila Prabhupada’s books, that is where we are getting all this information from, from the treasure house of Srila Prabhupada’s books. To receive means to read, to hear; book distribution, thorough the books, thorough our temples, through our culture.

Srila Prabhupada took this order as his life and soul and throughout his time, he never said, “I have done.” He would say, “I am simply trying to please my Guru Maharaja. I am simply executing the order of my Guru Maharaja.”

That is the principle. To be a leader is not a sociological role. In Krsna consciousness, to be a leader is to actually take this responsibility to heart, to have this character, to have this culture, to have this aspiration that “Nothing is mine, everything belongs to Krsna. The only way to please Krsna is to put the order of my Guru Maharaja, in ISKCON, our Founder-Acarya, Srila Prabhupada, what pleases him is our life and soul. “

Srila Prabhupada gives elaborate purports on this beautiful story of Indra and Prithu. They are both devotees. They are both successful. But this story is very important. Are we going to be living, sacrificing to please our guru, the higher principle, or are we going to disguise our envy or our arrogance behind dharma and our knowledge?

Srila Prabhupada repeatedly told us that we must be sincere and serious. In fact, in one place, he said, “Pure devotional service is very rare but Krsna gives it very easily for one who is sincere and serious and does not have ulterior motives.” We have to be very sincere and serious.

nasta-prayeṣv abhadreṣu, nityam bhagavata-sevaya

Regularly hearing Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita so we actually understand, “Is this my envy, is this my arrogance, is this my selfishness, or this is actually what pleases Srila Prabhupada?”

In the association of devotees, we need this. There are always going to be conflicts in the association of devotees. Prithu was convinced that Indra must be thrown into the fire. And Indra was convinced, “I must do this in my service.”

Ultimately, because Prithu Maharaja accepted the higher principle of Brahma’s instruction, the next thing that happened, Visnu was so pleased, he personally came. Because Prithu accepted the higher principle of Brahma’s instruction, Visnu appeared.

You know what Visnu did? He brought Indra with him. Visnu knows what a rascal Indra was being. Still, Visnu told Prithu Maharaja, “Pease forgive him. Work together. Serve together.”

This is what Srila Prabhupada is teaching us. According to time, place, and circumstance, Srila Prabhupada was sometimes stronger than a thunderbolt or softer than a rose. What will please Srila Prabhupada, let us make that our life and soul, and then together, as a worldwide community, we will be empowered to spread love for Krsna though the congregational chanting of the Holy Names.

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!

Thank you very much.