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Śrī Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta,
Volume 2
Śrī Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta of Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī,
Volume Two. Translated by Gopīparāṇadhana Dāsa.
Copyright Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, ©2008-2013.
The Glories of Goloka
BB 1. Vairāgya: Renunciation
1. Vairāgya: Renunciation
BB 2.1.1
śrī-janamejaya uvāca
satyaṁ sac-chāstra-vargārthasāraḥ saṅgṛhya durlabhaḥ
gūḍhaḥ sva-mātre pitrā me
kṛṣṇa-premṇā prakāśitaḥ
śrī-janamejayaḥ uvāca—Śrī Janamejaya said; satyam—truly; sat—transcendental; śāstravarga—of all scriptures; artha—of the meaning; sāraḥ—the essence; saṅgṛhya—having been
collected; durlabhaḥ—rare; gūḍhaḥ—confidential; sva-mātre—to his own mother; pitrā—by
the father; me—my; kṛṣṇa-premṇā—with love for Kṛṣṇa; prakāśitaḥ—revealed.
Śrī Janamejaya said: Truly, my father gleaned the essential meaning of all eternal scriptures,
and with great love for Kṛṣṇa he revealed to his mother that rare confidential truth.
Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī begins his commentary on the second part of Śrī Bṛhadbhāgavatāmṛta by offering his homage to Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Śrīla Sanātana writes,
“By taking shelter of Lord Caitanya’s gemlike beauty, even a dull person like me can be
inspired to dance wonderfully.” This second part of Śrī Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta reveals the
glories of the highest spiritual planet, Goloka, where pure devotees who have received the
essence of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s mercy enjoy the infinite ecstasy of playing with Kṛṣṇa forever. To
prepare us for hearing the superexcellent glories of Goloka, Kṛṣṇa’s personal abode, the seven
chapters in Part One of Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta were meant for gradually removing all
obstructing misconceptions. There the first chapter began a story, in answer to a question by
Uttarā, that first told of the glories of devotional service manifest on earth by depicting the
opulent, first-class worship offered to Kṛṣṇa by a learned brāhmaṇa who was master of a
village and by a mighty king.
To hear more of the discourse between Uttarā and her son, Parīkṣit, his son Janamejaya asks
Jaimini a question. Jaimini was Janamejaya’s spiritual master, and to please him Janamejaya
praises what he has heard thus far.
In Part One of Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta, Parīkṣit left aside everything superfluous and spoke to
his mother the essence of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the best of revealed scriptures. This rare
accomplishment required that he understand many scriptures, many sources of pure
knowledge, and carefully ascertain their confidential purport regarding unalloyed devotional
service to the Supreme Lord. By the word satyam, King Janamejaya confirms that he accepts
everything spoken in the first part as authoritative and true.
BB 2.1.2
śrīmad-bhāgavatāmbhodhipīyūṣam idam āpiban
na tṛpyāmi muni-śreṣṭha
śrīmat-bhāgavata—of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam; ambhaḥ-dhi—of the ocean; pīyūṣam—nectar;
idam—this; āpiban—deeply drinking; na tṛpyāmi—I am not satiated; muni-śreṣṭha—O best of
sages; tvat—your; mukha-ambhaḥ-ja—by the lotus mouth; vāsitam—scented.
O best of sages, I cannot drink enough of this nectarean ocean of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, its
fragrance enhanced by contact with your lotus mouth.
Although Janamejaya Mahārāja has already tasted perfect nectar in Part One, he still wants to
taste more. The Bhāgavatam and other scriptures that reveal the secrets of pure devotional
service are śrīmat, “full of beauty and riches.” These exceptional scriptures are like boundless
oceans, for the scriptures are vast not only in size but also in the scope of their ideas.
Just as the Ocean of Milk is the greatest ocean, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the greatest devotional
scripture, unfathomably deep. In the narration of Nārada’s search for the greatest object of Śrī
Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, Janamejaya has enthusiastically drunk the exquisitely sweet nectar of the
Bhāgavatam. Nonetheless, his thirst is not yet quenched. Because Jaimini has mixed into this
nectar the attractive fragrance emanating from his own lotus mouth, Janamejaya’s thirst to
hear has become so much stimulated that he cannot hear enough.
BB 2.1.3
tan mātā-putrayor vidvan
saṁvādaḥ kathyatāṁ tayoḥ
sudhā-sāra-mayo ’nyo ’pi
tat—therefore; mātā-putrayoḥ—of the mother and son; vidvan—O learned one; saṁvādaḥ—
discussion; kathyatām—please narrate; tayoḥ—of the two of them; sudhā—of nectar; sāramayaḥ—imbued with the essence; anyaḥ—other; api—also; kṛṣṇa—of Kṛṣṇa; pāda-abja—for
the lotus feet; lubdhayoḥ—who were greedy.
Therefore, O learned one, please tell me what other nectarean topics were discussed by the
mother and son, who were greedy to enjoy the taste of Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet.
Although the topics discussed by Uttarā and Parīkṣit involve privileged knowledge meant
only for pure devotees of the Lord, Jaimini Ṛṣi is also vidvān, a competent knower of those
BB 2.1.4
śrī-jaiminir uvāca
naitat sva-śaktito rājan
vaktuṁ jṣātuṁ ca śakyate
sarva-jṣānāṁ ca durjṣeyaṁ
brahmānubhavinām api
śrī-jaiminiḥ uvāca—Śrī Jaimini said; na—not; etat—this; sva-śaktitaḥ—by one’s strength;
rājan—O king; vaktum—to speak; jṣātum—to understand; ca—and; śakyate—is possible;
sarva-jṣānām—for the knowers of everything; ca—and; durjṣeyam—difficult to comprehend;
brahma-anubhavinām—who directly experience the Absolute Truth; api—even.
Śrī Jaimini said: O king, to understand or speak about these topics by one’s own strength is
impossible. Even all-knowing sages who directly perceive the Absolute Truth find them
difficult to comprehend.
The essence of the science of pure devotion to Kṛṣṇa is beyond the power of words to explain
or the mind to comprehend. Even mystics who can see past, present, and future, and even
liberated souls, whose minds are attuned to perceiving transcendental reality, fail to
understand the glories of Goloka revealed in the nectar ocean of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Much
more exalted than the spiritual reality of impersonal Brahman is the ultimate reality shared by
the Personality of Godhead and His devotees.
BB 2.1.5
prasādād bādarāyaṇeḥ
niviṣṭo ’śrauṣam aṣjasā
kṛṣṇa-bhakti—of Kṛṣṇa’s pure devotional service; rasa-ambhodheḥ—who is an ocean of the
rasas; prasādāt—by the mercy; bādarāyaṇeḥ—of Bādarāyaṇi (Śukadeva Gosvāmī); parīkṣituttarā—of Parīkṣit and Uttarā; pārśve—at the side; niviṣṭaḥ—sitting; aśrauṣam—I heard;
But Bādarāyaṇi is an ocean of the rasas of kṛṣṇa-bhakti, and by his mercy I sat near Parīkṣit
and Uttarā and directly heard their conversation.
If, as Jaimini says, Kṛṣṇa and His devotional service are beyond the mind and words, how was
Jaimini himself able to speak the sublime first part of Śrī Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta? Jaimini
answers that Śukadeva Gosvāmī, the son of Bādarāyaṇa, empowered him. Jaimini was expert
in many departments of Vedic knowledge and had deep realization of the Absolute Truth. But
he was unable to understand and describe Kṛṣṇa’s glories on the strength of these
qualifications alone; rather, he was empowered by the favor of the exalted Vaiṣṇava
Śukadeva. Knowing that Jaimini was the only person fit to repeat the conversation between
Parīkṣit and his mother, Śukadeva arranged for Jaimini to sit in a place that would be[out]
next to them so he could hear the Bhāgavatāmṛta. Since Jaimini heard it and was empowered
by Śukadeva Gosvāmī[out] to understand it properly, the book has the potency to capture the
serious attention of its readers. And because of having been transmitted by the mercy of
exalted devotees, Śrī Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta should be accepted as authentic revealed scripture.
BB 2.1.6
paraṁ gopyam api snigdhe
śiṣye vācyam iti śrutiḥ
tac chrūyatāṁ mahā-bhāga
param—most; gopyam—secret; api—even; snigdhe—loyal; śiṣye—to a disciple; vācyam—
may be spoken; iti—thus; śrutiḥ—revealed scripture; tat—therefore; śrūyatām—please hear;
mahā-bhāga—O most fortunate one; goloka-mahimā—the glories of Goloka; adhunā—now.
The Vedas say that to a loyal disciple one may speak even the most confidential secret.
Therefore, O most fortunate one, now please hear the glories of Goloka.
Although what Janamejaya asked Jaimini is confidential, Jaimini is willing to speak because
Janamejaya is fit to hear. This is implied by the epithet mahā-bhāga, “O most fortunate one.”
In Part One, Jaimini described the glories of the most intimate devotees of the Supreme Lord,
and now he will describe the glories of Goloka, the place dearest to the Lord. Because this
description glorifies the Lord and His devotees, it is fitting for the Bhāgavatāmṛta.
BB 2.1.7
śrutvābhūt paramānandapūrṇā tava pitāmahī
śrī-kṛṣṇa—of Śrī Kṛṣṇa; karuṇā-sāra—of the essence of the mercy; pātra—of the recipient;
nirdhāra—about the determination; sat-kathām—the sacred narration; śrutvā—having heard;
abhūt—was; parama-ānanda—with the highest bliss; pūrṇā—filled; tava—your; pitāmahī—
paternal grandmother.
After your grandmother heard the sacred narration about the search for the person most
favored by the essence of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, she was filled with the highest bliss.
BB 2.1.8-9
śrotuṁ phala-viśeṣaṁ tad
bhoga-sthānaṁ ca sat-tamam
vaikuṇṭhād api manvānā
vimṛśantī hṛdi svayam
tac cānākalayantī sā
papraccha śrī-parīkṣitam
tādṛk—of such; bhakti-viśeṣasya—exceptional devotion; gopī-kānta—of the lover of the
gopīs; pada-abjayoḥ—to the lotus feet; śrotum—to hear; phala-viśeṣam—the special fruit;
tat—of that; bhoga-sthānam—the place of enjoyment; ca—and; sat-tamam—superior;
vaikuṇṭhāt—to Vaikuṇṭha; api—even; manvānā—considering; vimṛśantī—wondering; hṛdi—
in her heart; svayam—on her own; tat—that; ca—and; anākalayantī—unable to conclude;
sā—she; papraccha—asked; śrī-parīkṣitam—Śrī Parīkṣit.
Exceptional devotion to the lotus feet of the Lord, the lover of the gopīs, has a special fruit,
and Uttarā was eager to hear about that fruit, and about the place where it is enjoyed, which
she thought must be higher than even Vaikuṇṭha. Wondering within her heart about these
topics, unable to conclude anything on her own, she inquired from Śrī Parīkṣit.
Mother Uttarā was uncertain about the identity of the place of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s intimate pleasure
pastimes, which she supposed must be more excellent than the majestic kingdom of God,
Vaikuṇṭha. Confident of her son’s ability to resolve her doubt, she unhesitatingly submitted to
him this question.
BB 2.1.10
kāmināṁ puṇya-kartčṇāṁ
trai-lokyaṁ gṛhiṇāṁ padam
agṛhāṇāṁ ca tasyordhvaṁ
sthitaṁ loka-catuṣṭayam
śrīmat-uttarā uvāca—Śrīmatī Uttarā said; kāminām—who have material desires; puṇyakartčṇām—and who perform auspicious duties; trai-lokyam—the three worlds; gṛhiṇām—for
householders; padam—the abode; agṛhāṇām—for those who have renounced their homes;
ca—and; tasya—than that; ūrdhvam—higher; sthitam—located; loka-catuṣṭayam—the four
Śrīmatī Uttarā said: By performing auspicious duties, householders with material desires can
achieve the three celestial worlds, and persons who have renounced their homes can reach the
four worlds still beyond those.
Uttarā has some doubts about the identity of the personal abode of Śrī Gopīnātha, but she does
understand that the devotees whose love is focused on Gopīnātha’s lotus feet deserve to be
elevated to the most excellent destination, a place better than all others. To express this
understanding to her son and properly establish the context for her inquiry, she speaks eleven
verses (texts 10 through 20) describing the various destinations of different grades of
progressive souls. First she mentions the destinations of persons involved in material work,
who are divided into two categories—the attached and unattached.
“Auspicious duties” are those prescribed by the Vedas; they include duties performed as
regular obligations (nitya-karma), duties stipulated for exceptional circumstances (naimittikakarma), and duties performed as optional work for the fulfillment of personal desires (kāmya-
karma). The performers of these material activities are generally in the gṛhastha-āśrama,
family men with many desires. The destinations for such regulated enjoyers of the fruits of
work are within the three planetary systems Bhūr, Bhuvar, and Svar. The karmīs being
described by Uttarā are not ordinary modern materialists; rather, these karmīs satisfy their
material desires through the auspicious ritual duties of the Vedas.
By virtue of strict celibacy, the perpetual brahmacārīs, the vānaprasthas, and the sannyāsīs are
qualified to reach the four highest material planets, namely Mahar, Janas, Tapas, and Satya.
As stated by[out] Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī states in the Second Canto of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam
pādās trayo bahiś cāsann
aprajānāṁ ya āśramāḥ
antas tri-lokyās tv aparo
gṛha-medho ’bṛhad-vrataḥ
“The spiritual world, which consists of three fourths of the Lord’s energy, is situated beyond
this material world and is especially meant for those who will never be reborn. Others, who
are attached to family life and who do not strictly follow celibacy vows, must live within the
three material worlds.” In other words, those who vow never to create offspring are granted
for their subtle enjoyment the worlds beyond the three systems Bhūr, Bhuvar, and Svar.
Everyone else is entangled in household life; instead of adhering to the “great vow” of
celibacy, they remain addicted to sex.
Householders who are free from material desires and whose only ambition is to execute their
prescribed duties can also reach the higher planets of Mahar and beyond, and those who
sufficiently purify their consciousness can even attain liberation. As Lord Rudra says in the
Fourth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (4.24.29):
sva-dharma-niṣṭhaḥ śata-janmabhiḥ pumān
viriṣcatām eti tataḥ paraṁ hi mām
avyākṛtaṁ bhāgavato ’tha vaiṣṇavaṁ
padaṁ yathāhaṁ vibudhāḥ kalātyaye
“A person who executes his occupational duty properly for one hundred births becomes
qualified to occupy the post of Brahmā, and if he becomes more qualified he can approach
me. But a person directly surrendered to Lord Kṛṣṇa, or Viṣṇu, in unalloyed devotional
service is at once promoted to the spiritual planets. I and other demigods attain those planets
after the destruction of the material world.”
BB 2.1.11
bhogānte muhur āvṛttim
ete sarve prayānti hi
mahar-ādi-gatāḥ kecin
mucyante brahmaṇā saha
bhoga—of enjoyment; ante—at the end; muhuḥ—again; āvṛttim—rebirth in the lower worlds;
ete—these; sarve—all; prayānti—they obtain; hi—certainly; mahaḥ-ādi—Mahar and beyond;
gatāḥ—who have reached; kecit—some; mucyante—are liberated; brahmaṇā saha—along
with Brahmā.
But when their enjoyment ends, all these persons must return to this mundane earth. Only a
select few of those who have reached the planets of Mahar and beyond are liberated along
with Brahmā.
Materially ambitious people must accept repeated births. Among them, persons dedicated
exclusively to prescribed Vedic duties can achieve liberation when they finish enjoying the
results of their good works. For persons whose renunciation is incomplete, one path of
gradual liberation is to enjoy subtle pleasures on the Mahar, Janas, Tapas, and Satya planets
for a long time and then become liberated along with Lord Brahmā when the universe is
finally destroyed. Another gradual path, described in the Upaniṣads and Vedānta-sūtra, is
known as Arcir-ādi. On this path the progressing candidate travels one last time through the
higher regions of the universe, enjoying in each of several intermediate stages in bodies more
and more subtle, until he attains liberation.
Karmīs who do not progress toward liberation enjoy heavenly pleasures temporarily and then
come back down to material endeavors on lower planets. As Śrī Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavadgītā (9.20–21):
trai-vidyā māṁ soma-pāḥ pūta-pāpā
yajṣair iṣṭvā svar-gatiṁ prārthayante
te puṇyam āsādya surendra-lokam
aśnanti divyān divi deva-bhogān
te taṁ bhuktvā svarga-lokaṁ viśālaṁ
kṣīṇe puṇye martya-lokaṁ viśanti
evaṁ trayī-dharmam anuprapannā
gatāgataṁ kāma-kāmā labhante
“Those who study the Vedas and drink the soma juice, seeking the heavenly planets, worship
Me indirectly. Purified of sinful reactions, they take birth on the pious, heavenly planet of
Indra, where they enjoy godly delights. When they have thus enjoyed vast heavenly sense
pleasure and the results of their pious activities are exhausted, they return to this mortal planet
again. Thus those who seek sense enjoyment by adhering to the principles of the three Vedas
achieve only repeated birth and death.”
Mere elevation to the highest planets in the universe cannot assure one liberation from birth
and death. One must give up all material desires. As Śrī Kṛṣṇa states in Bhagavad-gītā (8.16),
ā-brahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ/ punar-āvartino ’rjuna: “From the highest planet in the material
world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take
place.” Only persons fully dedicated to selfless work can join Lord Brahmā in attaining
brahmaṇā saha te sarve
samprāpte pratisaṣcare
parasyānte kṛtātmānaḥ
praviśanti paraṁ padam
“The fully successful transcendentalists enter the supreme abode along with Brahmā during
the final annihilation at the end of Brahmā’s life.”
BB 2.1.12
kecit krameṇa mucyante
bhogān bhuktvārcir-ādiṣu
labhante yatayaḥ sadyo
muktiṁ jṣāna-parā hi ye
kecit—some; krameṇa—in stages; mucyante—become liberated; bhogān—pleasures;
bhuktvā—enjoying; arciḥ-ādiṣu—in the realms of fire and so on; labhante—attain; yatayaḥ—
ascetics; sadyaḥ—quickly; muktim—liberation; jṣāna-parāḥ—devoted to spiritual knowledge;
hi—certainly; ye—who.
Some persons enjoy pleasures in upper regions like the realm of fire and attain liberation
gradually, in stages. And ascetics fully devoted to spiritual knowledge quickly obtain
Expert practitioners of yoga can follow the Arcir-ādi path. The first destination on this path is
Arcis, or the region ruled by the god of fire. Beyond Arcis are other regions, such as the circle
of Śiśumāra. In the Second Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam(2.2.24–31) Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī
elaborates on the yogī’s progress on the Arcir-ādi path:
vaiśvānaraṁ yāti vihāyasā gataḥ
suṣumṇayā brahma-pathena śociṣā
vidhūta-kalko ’tha harer udastāt
prayāti cakraṁ nṛpa śaiśumāram
“O king, when a mystic passes over the Milky Way by the illuminating Suṣumṇā to reach the
highest planet, Brahmaloka, he goes first to Vaiśvānara, the planet of the deity of fire, wherein
he becomes completely cleansed of all contaminations, and thereafter he still goes higher, to
the circle of Śiśumāra, to relate with Lord Hari, the Personality of Godhead.
tad viśva-nābhiṁ tv ativartya viṣṇor
aṇīyasā virajenātmanaikaḥ
namaskṛtaṁ brahma-vidām upaiti
kalpāyuṣo yad vibudhā ramante
“This Śiśumāra is the pivot for the turning of the complete universe, and it is called the navel
of Viṣṇu [Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu]. The yogī alone goes beyond this circle of Śiśumāra and
attains the planet [Maharloka] where purified saints like Bhṛgu enjoy a duration of life of
4,300,000,000 solar years. That planet is worshipable even for the saints who are
transcendentally situated.
atho anantasya mukhānalena
dandahyamānaṁ sa nirīkṣya viśvam
niryāti siddheśvara-juṣṭa-dhiṣṇyaṁ
yad dvai-parārdhyaṁ tad u pārameṣṭhyam
“At the time of the devastation of the universe, a flame of fire emanates from the mouth of
Ananta. The yogī sees all the planets of the universe burning to ashes, and thus he leaves for
Satyaloka by airplanes used by the great purified souls. The duration of life in Satyaloka is
calculated to be 15,480,000,000,000 years.
na yatra śoko na jarā na mṛtyur
nārtir na codvega ṛte kutaścit
yac cit tato ’daḥ kṛpayānidaṁ-vidāṁ
“On that planet of Satyaloka, there is neither bereavement nor old age nor death. There is no
pain of any kind, and therefore there are no anxieties, save that sometimes there is a feeling of
compassion for those unaware of the process of devotional service, who are subjected to
unsurpassable miseries in the material world.
tato viśeṣaṁ pratipadya nirbhayas
tenātmanāpo ’nala-mūrtir atvaran
jyotir-mayo vāyum upetya kāle
vāyv-ātmanā khaṁ bṛhad ātma-liṅgam
“After reaching Satyaloka, the devotee is specifically able to be incorporated fearlessly by the
subtle body in an identity similar to that of the gross body, and one after another he gradually
attains stages of existence from earthly to watery, to fiery, glowing and airy, until he reaches
the ethereal stage.
ghrāṇena gandhaṁ rasanena vai rasaṁ
rūpaṁ ca dṛṣṭyā śvasanaṁ tvacaiva
śrotreṇa copetya nabho-guṇatvaṁ
prāṇena cākūtim upaiti yogī
“The devotee thus surpasses the subtle objects of different senses like aroma by smelling, the
palate by tasting, vision by seeing forms, touch by contacting, the vibrations of the ear by
ethereal identification, and the sense organs by material activities.
sa bhūta-sūkṣmendriya-sannikarṣaṁ
mano-mayaṁ deva-mayaṁ vikāryam
saṁsādya gatyā saha tena yāti
vijṣāna-tattvaṁ guṇa-sannirodham
“The devotee, thus surpassing the gross and the subtle forms of coverings, enters the plane of
egoism. There he merges the material modes of nature [ignorance and passion] in that point of
neutralization and thus reaches egoism in goodness. After this, all egoism is merged in the
mahat-tattva, and he comes to the point of pure self-realization.
tenātmanātmānam upaiti śāntam
ānandam ānanda-mayo ’vasāne
etāṁ gatiṁ bhāgavatīṁ gato yaḥ
sa vai punar neha viṣajjate ’ṅga
“Only the purified soul can attain the perfection of associating with the Personality of
Godhead in complete bliss and satisfaction in his constitutional state. Whoever is able to reach
such devotional perfection is never again attracted by the material world, and he never
This is the gradual way of liberation. Paramahaṁsas, however, are liberated immediately at
the end of their current life.
BB 2.1.13
bhaktā bhagavato ye tu
sa-kāmāḥ svecchayākhilān
bhuṣjānāḥ sukha-bhogāṁs te
viśuddhā yānti tat-padam
bhaktāḥ—devotees; bhagavataḥ—of the Personality of Godhead; ye—who; tu—but; sakāmāḥ—with material desires; sva-icchayā—willfully; akhilān—all; bhuṣjānāḥ—indulging
in; sukha—enjoyable; bhogāḥ—pleasures; te—they; viśuddhāḥ—fully purified; yānti—go;
tat—to that; padam—abode.
But even the devotees of the Personality of Godhead who still have material desires can enjoy
the pleasures they wish and then become fully purified and go to the Lord’s abode.
Vaiṣṇava devotees are more elevated than nondevotee paramahaṁsas. Even a devotee
burdened by material desires is in a better position than an impersonalist free from such
desires. Still, just as both karmīs and jṣānīs are distinguished in terms of their relative freedom
from ulterior desires, so also are bhaktas. Most karmīs and jṣānīs can approach perfection
only gradually; only a few paramahaṁsa-jṣānīs achieve immediate liberation. Similarly,
though all Vaiṣṇavas are sure candidates for ultimate perfection, the sakāma-bhaktas, those
whose devotion to the Personality of Godhead is mixed with desires to control and enjoy,
must first become purified.
Still, although sakāma-bhaktas need further purification to qualify for entry into the kingdom
of God, they should never be considered subject to the laws of material nature like the karmīs
and jṣānīs. As stated here, sakāma-bhaktas live happily in this world, free from material
restraints (svecchayā). They are at liberty to visit all the regions of this world, including the
highest planets, beginning with Mahar, they can reach the subtlest stages on the Arcir-ādi
path, and they can attain the Vaikuṇṭha realms within this universe like Śvetadvīpa and
Ramāpriya. Avoiding frustration from the deficiencies and miseries that taint every material
situation, sakāma-bhaktas find happiness in this world (sukha-bhogān). Śrīla Sanātana
Gosvāmī uses the word bhuṣjānāḥ (“enjoying”) in a form of the present tense to indicate that
even while Vaiṣṇavas are finishing up their last enjoyment of the material world the power of
the Lord’s devotional service purifies them enough to demolish all obstacles in their hearts.
Their material business finished, they then achieve the Supreme Lord’s eternal abode.
BB 2.1.14
vaikuṇṭhaṁ durlabhaṁ muktaiḥ
niṣkāmā ye tu tad-bhaktā
labhante sadya eva tat
vaikuṇṭham—Vaikuṇṭha; durlabham—difficult to be achieved; muktaiḥ—by liberated souls;
sāndra—concentrated; ānanda—of ecstasy; cit—and pure consciousness; ātmakam—
consisting; niṣkāmāḥ—free from selfish desires; ye—who; tu—but; tat—of Him; bhaktāḥ—
the devotees; labhante—reach; sadyaḥ—quickly; eva—indeed; tat—that.
That abode, Vaikuṇṭha, is made of concentrated ecstasy and pure consciousness. Even for
liberated souls it is difficult to attain. But the Lord’s devotees who are free from selfish
desires reach it at once.
Mother Uttarā now tells her son, Parīkṣit, what she understands about the transcendental
nature of Vaikuṇṭha. Parīkṣit has heard similar general descriptions of the Vaikuṇṭha
atmosphere from Śukadeva Gosvāmī in the Second and Tenth Cantos of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:
na yatra kālo ’nimiṣāṁ paraḥ prabhuḥ
kuto nu devā jagatāṁ ya īśire
na yatra sattvaṁ na rajas tamaś ca
na vai vikāro na mahān pradhānam
paraṁ padaṁ vaiṣṇavam āmananti tad
yan neti netīty atad-utsisṛkṣavaḥ
visṛjya daurātmyam ananya-sauhṛdā
hṛdopaguhyārha-padaṁ pade pade
“What to speak of the celestial demigods empowered to rule over mundane creatures, in that
transcendental state there is no supremacy of devastating time, which controls even the
demigods themselves. Nor is there the mode of material goodness, nor passion, nor ignorance,
nor even the false ego, nor the material Causal Ocean, nor the material nature. The
transcendentalists desire to avoid everything godless, for they know that supreme situation in
which everything is related with the Supreme Lord Viṣṇu. Therefore a pure devotee in
absolute harmony with the Lord does not create perplexities, but worships the lotus feet of the
Lord at every moment, taking them into his heart.” (Bhāgavatam 2.2.17–18)
tasmai sva-lokaṁ bhagavān sabhājitaḥ
sandarśayām āsa paraṁ na yat-param
sva-dṛṣṭavadbhir puruṣair abhiṣṭutam
pravartate yatra rajas tamas tayoḥ
sattvaṁ ca miśraṁ na ca kāla-vikramaḥ
na yatra māyā kim utāpare harer
anuvratā yatra surāsurārcitāḥ
“Very much satisfied with the penance of Lord Brahmā, the Personality of Godhead was
pleased to manifest His personal abode, Vaikuṇṭha, the supreme planet above all others. That
transcendental abode of the Lord is adored by all self-realized persons freed from all miseries
and fear of illusory existence. In the spiritual world there is neither the mode of passion, nor
the mode of ignorance, nor a mixture of both, nor is there adulterated goodness, nor the
influence of time or Māyā itself. Only the pure devotees of the Lord, who are worshiped both
by demigods and by demons, reside in the spiritual world as the Lord’s associates.”
(Bhāgavatam 2.9.9–10)
iti saṣcintya bhagavān
mahā-kāruṇiko hariḥ
darśayām āsa lokaṁ svaṁ
gopānāṁ tamasaḥ param
satyaṁ jṣānam anantaṁ yad
brahma-jyotiḥ sanātanam
yad dhi paśyanti munayo
guṇāpāye samāhitāḥ
“After deeply considering, the all-merciful Supreme Personality of Godhead Hari revealed to
the cowherd men His abode, which is beyond material darkness. Lord Kṛṣṇa revealed the
indestructible spiritual effulgence, which is unlimited, conscious, and eternal. Sages see that
spiritual existence in trance, when their consciousness is free of the modes of material
nature.” (Bhāgavatam 10.28.14–15)
Now, in texts 14 through 19, Uttarā similarly explains in a general way the transcendental
existence of Vaikuṇṭha. The Lord’s impersonal effulgence faintly reflects the spiritual
atmosphere of Vaikuṇṭha, which is the fullest manifestation of the Absolute Truth.
Having reestablished a personal relationship with the Lord, pure Vaiṣṇavas attain Vaikuṇṭha.
Impersonalists, however, at best attain the brahma-jyotir effulgence, where they realize their
eternal existence without knowing their relationship with the Lord or the ecstatic pleasure that
comes from serving Him in that relationship. In other words, the Vaikuṇṭha atmosphere is a
super-intensified version of the brahma-jyotir sky, and thus the life enjoyed by the Lord’s
devotees in Vaikuṇṭha is much more wonderful than the comparatively insignificant pleasure
of merging into the brahma-jyotir.
BB 2.1.15
tatra śrī-kṛṣṇa-pādābjasākṣāt-sevā-sukhaṁ sadā
bahudhānubhavantas te
ramante dhik-kṛtāmṛtam
tatra—there; śrī-kṛṣṇa—of Śrī Kṛṣṇa; pāda-abja—at the lotus feet; sākṣāt—direct; sevā—of
service; sukham—the happiness; sadā—always; bahudhā—in many ways; anubhavantaḥ—
experiencing; te—they; ramante—enjoy; dhik-kṛta—condemned in which; amṛtam—the
nectar of immortality.
The pure devotees living in Vaikuṇṭha enjoy forever in varied ways the happiness of directly
serving Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet. In comparison, the nectar of liberation appears condemned.
For the residents of Vaikuṇṭha, God is not a distant abstraction. They see Him always and
serve Him directly. For them that service is never tedious or degrading, but is always sheer
BB 2.1.16
jṣāna-bhaktās tu teṣv eke
śuddha-bhaktāḥ pare ’pare
prema-bhaktāḥ pare premaparāḥ premāturāḥ pare
jṣāna-bhaktāḥ—devotees attached to knowledge; tu—but; teṣu—among them; eke—some;
śuddha-bhaktāḥ—pure devotees; pare—others; apare—still others; prema-bhaktāḥ—devotees
in love of God; pare—others; prema-parāḥ—devotees exclusively dedicated to love of God;
prema-āturāḥ—devotees painfully obsessed by love of God; pare—others.
Among the Supreme Lord’s devotees, some are devotees attached to knowledge, and others
are pure. Still others are situated in love of God, others are immersed in love of God, and yet
others are painfully overwhelmed by love of God.
Vaiṣṇavas develop their love of God to different extents and thus in any given lifetime attain
different destinations. Jṣāna-bhaktas cultivate devotional service mixed with the pursuit of
knowledge. Their interests focus on subjects such as the greatness of devotion to the lotus feet
of the Supreme Lord. For them devotional service consists of activities within the ninefold
practice of sādhana-bhakti. An example of such a Vaiṣṇava is Lord Ṛṣabhadeva’s son Bharata
Mahārāja. Next, śuddha-bhaktas want only devotional service to the Personality of Godhead,
without any mixture of fruitive work, knowledge, or renunciation. Ambarīṣa Mahārāja is a
typical śuddha-bhakta. Prema-bhaktas like Śrī Hanumān are endowed with mature ecstatic
love. They perpetually serve the Lord with full-hearted enthusiasm, being interested only in
the loving affection, intimate association, and opportunities for service that they find at the
lotus feet of their beloved supreme master. Still other devotees are prema-para-bhaktas, like
Śrīmān Arjuna and his brothers. They are not interested in the process of bhakti itself, but
only in prema, ecstatic love. By the causeless mercy of the Lord, entirely pure prema of the
highest quality has arisen in their hearts, binding them by ropes of eagerness to see the Lord
and enjoy friendly talks and other intimate dealings with Him. Finally, premātura-bhaktas,
such as the Yādavas, headed by Śrīmān Uddhava, are overwhelmed by the incessant bliss of
prema and the intense desire to relish all the transformations of that prema and its related
Although everyone in Vaikuṇṭha has prema, we must recognize different degrees of prema.
The natural perfection of śuddha-bhakti is prema-bhakti, which is higher because devotees
who have reached prema have special qualities not found in those who have attained only
śuddha-bhakti. And beyond prema-bhakti, the prema-para devotees are more elevated, and the
premātura devotees still more.
BB 2.1.17
tāratamyavatām eṣāṁ
phale sāmyaṁ na yujyate
tāratamyaṁ tu vaikuṇṭhe
kathaṣcid ghaṭate na hi
tāratamya-vatām—on different levels; teṣām—of these; phale—in results; sāmyam—
sameness; na yujyate—is not appropriate; tāratamyam—hierarchy; tu—however; vaikuṇṭhe—
in Vaikuṇṭha; kathaṣcit—in any way; ghaṭate na—does not take place; hi—certainly.
Since the levels of these devotees are various, it seems unfitting that the results they achieve
be the same. But in Vaikuṇṭha no hierarchies exist.
Without higher and higher levels of enjoyment and realization of the greatness of God, the
five different levels of bhakti would be incomplete. To award the same results to devotees of
differing levels of attraction would not befit the perfect and all-compassionate Personality of
Godhead. And how could all the Lord’s devotees be satisfied by only one kind of
reciprocation? Thus there is a need for hierarchy in the varieties of devotion and the
corresponding moods in which the Lord reciprocates. In Vaikuṇṭha, however, such a
hierarchy is impossible to find, because the atmosphere of that place is purely spiritual.
BB 2.1.18
paryavasyati sārūpyasāmīpyādau ca tulyatā
na śrūyate paraṁ prāpyaṁ
vaikuṇṭhād adhikaṁ kiyat
paryavasyati—the result comes; sārūpya—in the perfection of having a form like the Supreme
Lord’s; sāmīpya—in the perfection of living in close proximity to the Supreme Lord; ādau—
and so on; ca—and; tulyatā—equality; na śrūyate—is not heard of; param—another;
prāpyam—goal to be attained; vaikuṇṭhāt—than Vaikuṇṭha; adhikam—higher; kiyat—at all.
It follows that among devotees in Vaikuṇṭha there is equality even in the special Vaikuṇṭha
perfections, such as living near the Supreme Lord or attaining a form like His. And a goal
higher than Vaikuṇṭha is unheard of.
Someone might think that even though all devotees in Vaikuṇṭha share equally in the bliss of
serving the Personality of Godhead, some hierarchy of greater and lesser engagements can be
discerned. Indeed, it seems that in Vaikuṇṭha the Lord’s pastimes of supreme rulership and
opulence are manifest more fully to some devotees than to others, just as in the material world
the Lord is more intimately revealed to devotees who worship Him by brahma-satra (the
sacrifice of transcendental knowledge) than to those who worship Him at the grosser level of
karma-satra (mere ritual sacrifice). In Vaikuṇṭha some devotees, such as those stationed as
doorkeepers at the boundaries of the Lord’s kingdom, seem to be relative outsiders compared
to devotees who have more intimate services, such as massaging the Lord’s lotus feet.
Ultimately, however, in Vaikuṇṭha all these varieties of devotional service are equal,
displaying but minor variations in the mood of dāsya-rasa in reverence.
The many kinds of Vaikuṇṭha perfection are equal manifestations of the same basic servitude.
Those perfections include sārūpya (having a transcendental body with four arms and other
features like the Lord’s) and sāmīpya (living close to the Lord as one of His associates or
servants). There are also other such perfections. Those “others,” implied in this verse by the
ending -ādau in the word sāmīpyādau, are attainments such as being posted as commander of
the Lord’s army or as a personal servant massaging the Lord’s feet or dressing His hair. The
perfection of sāyujya, merging into the existence of God, is prized by impersonalists but is not
found in Vaikuṇṭha. Rather than a devotional perfection, sāyujya is a form of impersonal
liberation. Even demons who hate the Personality of Godhead are sometimes given sāyujya as
a reward for constantly meditating on the Lord as an enemy. But anyone who has tasted
devotional service to the Supreme Lord rejects sāyujya.
Someone might ask, “But can’t a devotee in Vaikuṇṭha achieve some special perfection by
virtue of being exceptionally qualified?” No, this verse replies. Since Vaikuṇṭha is a place in
which all desires are fulfilled, nothing there beyond the perfections already easily available
remains to be achieved.
BB 2.1.19
sarveṣām astu vā sukham
tat—of that (Vaikuṇṭha); pradeśa-viśeṣeṣu—in particular regions; sva-svabhāva—according
to their natures; viśeṣataḥ—individual; sva-sva-priya—dear to each one; viśeṣa—individual;
aptyā—by their achievements; sarveṣām—of all; astu vā—of course there is; sukham—
Of course, all the devotees in each distinct region of Vaikuṇṭha are completely happy, for they
have all achieved what by their own specific natures they desire.
Granting that devotees in select parts of Vaikuṇṭha are empowered to enjoy special privileges
according to their unique devotional moods, there may still remain doubt about where the
most confidential devotees of the Lord reside. Within the realm of Vaikuṇṭha a few special
places do exist, such as Ayodhyā and Dvārakā, where more intimate forms of pure devotional
service are manifest. For each replica abode of the Lord on earth there is an original abode in
Vaikuṇṭha. As stated in scripture,
yā yathā bhuvi vartante puryo bhagavataḥ priyāḥ
tās tathā santi vaikuṇṭhe tat-tal-līlārtham ādṛtāḥ
“On this earth there are many sacred cities dear to the Personality of Godhead, and all of them
also exist in Vaikuṇṭha, where they are revered for their importance in the Lord’s various
Mother Uttarā is speaking as if the liberated devotees of Vaikuṇṭha represent all five varieties
of Vaiṣṇavas—jṣāna-bhaktas, śuddha-bhaktas, prema-bhaktas, prema-para-bhaktas, and
premātura-bhaktas. In fact, however, she speaks without much conviction, because as far as
she understands, the devotees of Vaikuṇṭha are not divided into such categories.
BB 2.1.20
parāṁ kāṣṭhāṁ gataṁ tat-tadrasa-jātīyatocitam
athāpi rāsa-kṛt-tādṛgbhaktānām astu kā gatiḥ
parām—ultimate; kāṣṭhām—limit; gatam—attained; tat-tat—each individually; rasa—of
transcendental reciprocation; jātīyatā—according to the mode; ucitam—suitable; atha api—
nonetheless; rāsa-kṛt—of the performer of the rāsa dance (Kṛṣṇa); tādṛk—such; bhaktānām—
of the devotees; astu—there should be; kā—what; gatiḥ—destination.
They have all attained the ultimate limit of happiness, each in his own kind of ecstatic
reciprocation with the Lord. But what place is destined for the exceptional devotees of the
performer of the rāsa dance?
“Well,” someone might ask, “if there is a hierarchy of greater and lesser devotees in
Vaikuṇṭha, then only some of them are fully happy. Is that proper? Aren’t devotees of the
Supreme Lord, especially those who have attained Vaikuṇṭha, greater than mere liberated
souls? Don’t they enjoy the highest happiness, above that of liberation?”
The current verse clears this doubt. All the residents of Vaikuṇṭha enjoy incomparable
happiness, but some gradation of happiness still exists because each devotee relishes a
mixture of ecstasies that make up his individual devotional mood, or rasa. It is natural,
therefore, that according to a devotee’s sthāyi-bhāva, the predominating mood of his ecstatic
rasa, he receive a particular degree and kind of happiness. Nonetheless, each devotee thinks
that his happiness is perfect and complete, because it exactly suits his personality.
Having acknowledged this, Mother Uttarā next expresses her own doubt about the devotees of
Kṛṣṇa, whose spontaneous love for the Lord is greater than all other varieties of prema. In
Vaikuṇṭha is there a special place where those devotees can enjoy the supreme happiness they
Within Uttarā’s question are the following implications: The śuddha-bhaktas, in their worship
of the Supreme Lord, enjoy greater ecstasy than the jṣāna-bhaktas. But although the devotees
in Vaikuṇṭha find themselves in a hierarchy that would normally cause envy, quarrel, and
other kinds of conflict, those devotees are free from jealousy and other faults, which are the
root causes of pain and lamentation. Without this purity they could not reside in Vaikuṇṭha.
Being affectionately attached to one another in sublime prema, they all feel ever-increasing
happiness in their worship of the Lord.
As already mentioned, the śuddha-bhaktas, whose devotion to the Lord does not depend on
the pleasure of life in Vaikuṇṭha, are higher than the more conditional jṣāna-bhaktas. That
being so, what about the status of devotees still more elevated? What about the Lord’s best
servants, the prema-bhaktas, who are indifferent to all possible selfish concerns? What about
the Lord’s supreme friends, the prema-para-bhaktas, who receive His unconditional special
favor? And what about His closest loved ones, the premātura-bhaktas, who are bound by the
most intimate relationships with the Lord and who live only for His satisfaction? What special
place can be found in Vaikuṇṭha for those superexcellent devotees?
The Skanda Purāṇa explains that exceptional regions do exist in Vaikuṇṭha. Vaikuṇṭha has
transcendental cities such as Ayodhyā and Dvārakā, which, like their counterparts on earth,
are filled with the Supreme Lord’s personal associates and paraphernalia. In those supreme
places the Lord is always present in His most attractive forms. Thus, for example, in the
Ayodhyā region of Vaikuṇṭha devotees of the standard of Hanumān constantly see the Lord of
the Raghus, Lord Rāmacandra, attended by Śrī Sītā, Lakṣmaṇa, and the rest of His entourage.
Those devotees continue to enjoy the happiness of being His servants, just as they did while
present with the Lord during His pastimes on earth, and their ambitions are fulfilled in every
conceivable way. Similarly, in the Dvārakā of Vaikuṇṭha devotees like Śrī Yudhiṣṭhira and his
family worship Kṛṣṇa as the darling son of Devakī, the friend of Arjuna, the younger brother
of Balarāma, the beloved of Rukmiṇī and Satyabhāmā. The Pāṇḍavas continue to serve Kṛṣṇa
in their own homes with the same friendship as during His avatāra. And also in Dvārakā the
Yādavas, including exalted souls like Uddhava, worship and serve Kṛṣṇa as their own master,
regarding Him as more valuable than their wealth, their power, and their very lives. In the
endless manifold transformations of pure love, the Yādavas, their inner and outer
consciousness surcharged with bliss, enjoy as much happiness as they desire.
In Vaikuṇṭha these devotees enjoy life just as they did when present with their most dear Lord
on the earth, where they enjoyed the supreme good fortune of serving His lotus feet, receiving
His mercy, relishing pure love for Him, and sharing in His pastimes. That the Supreme Lord’s
earthly and Vaikuṇṭha pastimes have these features in common does not diminish the
greatness of the spiritual world, because whether in the material or the spiritual world, all the
Lord’s devotees are objects of His infinite compassion. Even if devotees occupy higher and
lower positions, the differences pale beside the inconceivably desirable, overwhelming
ecstasies of pure love of God.
Still, we should recognize a natural hierarchy in the varieties of devotional service. Because
jṣāna-bhaktas harbor some attachment to knowledge, the pure ecstasies of prema do not
develop in their hearts, even while they live in Vaikuṇṭha. The transcendental happiness they
deserve is confined mostly to their mental activities. Śuddha-bhaktas enjoy a greater
happiness, which enlivens all their senses through hearing and chanting about the Lord,
remembering Him, and so on. And prema-bhaktas feel even greater happiness through all
their internal and external senses, because while seeing the Lord and serving Him in various
ways they constantly meditate on Him with love. Prema-para-bhaktas cherish yet a higher
standard of happiness, which they taste in their friendly dealings with the Lord, in their
talking freely with Him, and in their intense moods of separation and meeting. That
transcendental happiness floods their entire being. And premātura-bhaktas know the ultimate
extreme of happiness; they are immersed in the unending and most intense loving expectation
of seeing the Lord, sharing pastimes with Him, and exchanging countless intimate dealings
with Him. Every fiber of their existence is surcharged with such happiness, which always
exceeds their greatest expectations.
Therefore, since various levels of sādhana bring various degrees of perfection, it is undeniable
that in Vaikuṇṭha, where happiness reaches its ultimate limits, some devotees enjoy more
happiness and some less. And in the final issue, those who practice the highest mode of the
Lord’s devotional service achieve one last extreme of perfection, the ecstasy known only by
those whose love focuses exclusively on the lotus feet of the divine paramour of the gopīs.
Relative to this, the position of all other devotees is inferior. The nature of Vaikuṇṭha, the
spiritual kingdom, is such that each devotee, regardless of his mood of devotion, feels that in
pursuing the tendencies of his heart in his own relationship with the Lord the happiness he
tastes is unsurpassable. Still, Uttarā wants to know what special destination awaits the Lord’s
most exceptional devotees, those overflowing with spontaneous love for the lotus feet of Śrī
BB 2.1.21
ye sarva-nairapekṣyeṇa
rādhā-dāsyecchavaḥ param
saṅkīrtayanti tan-nāma
ye—who; sarva—to everything; nairapekṣyeṇa—with indifference; rādhā-dāsya—servitude to
Śrī Rādhā; icchavaḥ—desiring; param—only; saṅkīrtayanti—they chant; tat—His; nāma—
name; tādṛśa—such; priyatā—with love; mayāḥ—full.
They chant His names and are full of unique love for Him. Indifferent to everything else, they
want only to become servants of Śrī Rādhā.
The devotees of Śrī Rādhā, who is the dearmost beloved of Lord Madana-gopāla, are not
impersonalists void of desires. They are fully confident that if Śrī Rādhikā accepts them as
Her servants, everything they desire will be achieved, and more. The privilege of serving Śrī
Rādhā is the rarest goal of life, and it is fitting that this privilege be attainable only by
executing the most excellent of sādhanas. That is to say, one can please Her Divine Grace
only by the sacrifice of purely chanting the names of Śrī Rāsa-rasika, the hero of the rāsa
dance. In sweet voices the servants of Śrī Rādhā always melodiously and loudly chant Kṛṣṇa’s
names. Such devotees are worthy to engage in such elevated service because their hearts are
filled with the supreme variety of spontaneous ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa.
BB 2.1.22
anyeṣām iva teṣāṁ ca
prāpyaṁ ced hṛn na tṛpyati
aho nanda-yaśodāder
na sahe tādṛśīṁ gatim
anyeṣām—of others; iva—like; teṣām—their; ca—and; prāpyam—the object of attainment;
cet—if; hṛt—my heart; na tṛpyati—will not be satisfied; aho—oh; nanda-yaśodā-ādeḥ—of
Nanda, Yaśodā, and others; na sahe—I cannot tolerate; tādṛśīm—such; gatim—a destination.
If those special devotees attain only the same perfection as others, my heart will be left
discontent. For such devotees as Nanda and Yaśodā to reach only the same destination—to
me the very thought is intolerable.
Someone might propose that Śrī Mathurā-purī, like Ayodhyā and Dvārakā, may be located in
Vaikuṇṭha. The devotees of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa may thus have their Vaikuṇṭha Gokula where
they can enjoy pastimes with the Lord and feel happiness greater than that of the Yādavas,
just as the Yādavas enjoy happiness greater than that of the Pāṇḍavas. Uttarā, however, is not
satisfied with this proposal. She cannot tolerate having the devotees of Gokula categorized
with other, ordinary Vaiṣṇavas.
BB 2.1.23
vividhānāṁ mahimnāṁ hi
yatra kāṣṭhāḥ parāḥ parāḥ
koṭīnāṁ paryavasyanti
samudre sarito yathā
vividhānām—of various; mahimnām—excellences; hi—indeed; yatra—in whom; kāṣṭhāḥ—
the limits; parāḥ parāḥ—most extreme; koṭīnām—millions; paryavasyanti—accumulate;
samudre—in the ocean; saritaḥ—rivers; yathā—as.
Varied and countless excellences flow into those devotees, like rivers into the ocean.
All varieties of perfection are fully manifest in the devotees of Gokula. Those devotees are
perfectly beautiful, charming, and graceful, and they are endowed with the valuable assets of
religious duty, economic development, sense gratification, renunciation, knowledge,
realization, devotion, and pure love of God. All these perfections are present within them to
the utmost degree possible for finite living beings. Whenever Śrī Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta
depicts the glories of devotees lesser than the residents of Gokula, its purpose is to highlight
the greater glories of the Gokula-vāsīs and demonstrate that all varieties of excellence flow
ultimately into the residents of Gokula, just as the waters of all rivers flow at last into the
BB 2.1.24
tad-artham ucitaṁ sthānam
ekaṁ vaikuṇṭhataḥ param
apekṣitam avaśyaṁ syāt
tat prakāśyoddharasva mām
tat-artham—for that reason; ucitam—appropriate; sthānam—place; ekam—one; vaikuṇṭhataḥ
param—beyond Vaikuṇṭha; apekṣitam—expected; avaśyam—certainly; syāt—there should
be; tat—that; prakāśya—by revealing; uddharasva—please deliver; mām—me.
Therefore a suitable place must surely exist for them, beyond Vaikuṇṭha. Please reveal it to
me and rescue me.
In this verse Mother Uttarā sums up her inquiry. She reasons that there must be some place
even greater than Vaikuṇṭha, a place suitable for the enjoyment of devotees like Śrī Nanda
and Yaśodā. That place should have certain qualifications. It should be devoid of thought that
the Lord is the supreme all-powerful controller (in other words, it should be free from awe
and reverence). It should be untainted by flaws that impede the growth of ecstatic love. It
should be invisible to those who are addicted to dry knowledge. And it should be
approachable only by those dearmost servants of the Lord who delight in being caught under
the sway of a prema untasted in this world or any other. That place should be the quintessence
of attractiveness, a place fully enriched with the unique, indescribable bliss of transcendental
rasa. It should be sweeter than the sweet, superior to the superior, describable only by great
saints who forever relish the taste of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet, saints like Nārada, for surely he
must sing the glories of that place with his vīṇā. “Such a unique place must certainly exist,”
Uttarā thinks, “but because it is most confidential and I am not very intelligent I am unable to
ascertain its identity.” Therefore, lost in an ocean of sadness, in waves of doubt, in deep
currents of confusion, she asks her son, Parīkṣit, to reveal that place to her by describing it in
words. By doing this he will lift her out of the ocean of sorrow.
Of course, the blessed district of Mathurā, the best of all places, is already manifest on earth
and can most certainly provide Śrī Nanda and others the exceptional happiness of taking part
in the Lord’s wonderful pastimes. But Uttarā has doubts because that Mathurā is within the
material world. Thus she is asking whether another transcendental location exists for the
pastimes of Kṛṣṇa and His favorite devotees. To external vision the modern residents of the
earthly Mathurā seem subject to the bodily transformations of disease, old age, and death and
so appear entangled in mundane illusion. Unlike the Lord’s abode in Vaikuṇṭha, the Mathurā
on earth does not seem to award immediate perfection to everyone who merely steps into it.
So Uttarā doubts whether the earthly Mathurā is in fact the ultimate goal of human endeavor.
And she suspects that at the time of the universal annihilation or of the partial annihilation of
the three middle planetary systems, the district of Mathurā may disappear.
This question raised by Mother Uttarā, although subtle and therefore difficult, will gradually
be answered by Parīkṣit through the story of Gopa-kumāra. First Parīkṣit will describe Śrī
Goloka in the spiritual world as the destination of Kṛṣṇa’s most intimate devotees, and then he
will speak about the pleasure pastimes Kṛṣṇa performs both there and in the Mathurā on earth.
Although the earthly Mathurā is located within the material realm, it remains untouched by
the influence of illusion, just as the Supreme Lord Himself, His devotees, and His pastimes
remain unaffected by illusion when they descend to the material world. As Śrī Nārada Muni
will state later in Śrī Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta (2.5.55):
nānā-vidhās tasya paricchadā ye
nāmāni līlāḥ priya-bhūmayaś ca
satyāni nityāny akhilāni tadvad
ekāny anekāni ca tāni viddhi
“All the paraphernalia of the Lord’s service, including His names, His pastimes, and His
favorite abodes, assume various forms. You should understand that just as each of these forms
is eternally real, each is simultaneously one and many.”
Yogamāyā, the spiritual energy of the Lord, arranges for the present-day residents of Mathurā
to appear to undergo material transformations. The Lord’s spiritual energy does this to delude
the nondevotees and satisfy the Lord’s devotees, just as she prevents nondevotees from
feeling ecstasy even after having personal audience of the Lord, the embodiment of highest
bliss. This subject will be explained later, in the narration of Gopa-kumāra’s sojourn in
That the glories of earthly Mathurā are hidden from ordinary eyes indicates the greatness of
that abode. Indeed, the earthly Mathurā and its glories are eternal; they are not destroyed even
when the universe is annihilated. Devotees who think that Mathurā may in the future
disappear are mistaken, because in fact Mathurā is beyond destruction, even by the Lord’s
ultimate divine weapon, the Sudarśana disc, which is the governing force underlying material
time, the destroyer of the worlds. All the same, Mother Uttarā is asking about some other
supreme place because the greatness of earthly Mathurā is not at once perceived and because
many people have not heard about the wonderful activities the Personality of Godhead
displays there.
In fact the glories of the earthly Mathurā in some ways surpass those of the spiritual planet
Goloka, and Śrī Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta, therefore, will describe how Gopa-kumāra, after
realizing the glories of Goloka, learned about this from Śrī Nārada. The original Personality
of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa descends to Mathurā in this world with all His beauty and other
attributes to exhibit unprecedented playful activities. And when the entire universe or the
three middle planetary systems are destroyed, the earthly Mathurā becomes invisible and
merges back into Śrī Goloka. In other words, Mathurā is not destroyed; it remains unchanged,
above the wheel of time. But because the Lord’s pastimes are then no longer perceivable in
Mathurā on earth, it seems that the Personality of Godhead continues to enjoy Himself only in
the corresponding spiritual realm, Goloka. And so Śrī Goloka is considered the ultimate
destination of spiritual endeavor.
Śrī Nārada may sometimes ascribe to Mathurā on earth glories even greater than those of
Goloka, but that is not contradictory. Since the two places are in essence nondifferent,
whatever is said about one of them is true of the other.
BB 2.1.25
śrī-jaiminir uvāca
mātur evaṁ mahā-ramyapraśnenānanditaḥ sutaḥ
tāṁ natvā sāśru-romāṣcam
ārebhe pratibhāṣitum
śrī-jaiminiḥ uvāca—Śrī Jaimini said; mātuḥ—of his mother; evam—thus; mahā-ramya—most
pleasing; praśnena—by the inquiry; ānanditaḥ—delighted; sutaḥ—the son; tām—to her;
natvā—bowing down; sa-aśru—with tears; roma-aṣcam—and bodily hairs standing on end;
ārebhe—began; pratibhāṣitum—to reply.
Śrī Jaimini said: Delighted by this most pleasing inquiry from Mother Uttarā, her son,
Parīkṣit, bowed down to her and began his reply. Tears poured from his eyes, and his bodily
hairs stood on end.
Parīkṣit will begin his reply by complimenting his mother for her excellent question and by
offering respects to his worshipable Lord.
BB 2.1.26
śrī-parīkṣid uvāca
śrī-kṛṣṇa-jīvite mātas
tavaiva yogyaḥ praśno ’yaṁ
na kṛto yaś ca kaiścana
śrī-parīkṣit uvāca—Śrī Parīkṣit said; śrī-kṛṣṇa—for Śrī Kṛṣṇa; jīvite—whose existence;
mātaḥ—my dear mother; tadīya—of Him; viraha—the separation; asahe—who cannot
tolerate; tava—your; eva—indeed; yogyaḥ—praiseworthy; praśnaḥ—question; ayam—this;
na—not; kṛtaḥ—made before; yaḥ—which; ca—and; kaiścana—by any persons.
Śrī Parīkṣit said: My dear mother, for you, who live only for Śrī Kṛṣṇa, separation from Him
is intolerable. This question of yours is most praiseworthy. No one has ever asked this
question before.
Parīkṣit wishes to encourage his mother so that her mind will easily focus on what he is about
to say. He calls her śrī-kṛṣṇa-jīvitā, which means either “one who lives only for Śrī Kṛṣṇa” or
“one whom Śrī Kṛṣṇa brought back to life,” the second meaning alluding to Kṛṣṇa’s saving
the life of Uttarā by stopping the brahmāstra of Aśvatthāmā. Uttarā is known for having
suffered greatly in separation from Kṛṣṇa. As Sūta Gosvāmī described in the First Canto of
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.10.9-10):
subhadrā draupadī kuntī
virāṭa-tanayā tathā
gāndhārī dhṛtarāṣṭraś ca
yuyutsur gautamo yamau
vṛkodaraś ca dhaumyaś ca
striyo matsya-sutādayaḥ
na sehire vimuhyanto
virahaṁ śārṅga-dhanvanaḥ
“Subhadrā, Draupadī, Kuntī, Uttarā, and Gāndhārī, and Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Yuyutsu, Kṛpācārya, and
Nakula and Sahadeva, and Bhīmasena and Dhaumya, and ladies such as the daughter of
Matsya all nearly fainted because it was impossible for them to bear separation from Lord
King Virāṭa, the father of Uttarā, was adopted along with his sister, Satyavatī, by a fisherman
(Matsya). Since Virāṭa was also called Matsya, the name Matsya-sutā (“daughter of a
fisherman”) can indicate either Satyavatī or her niece Uttarā. If we take the second of these
alternatives, Uttarā is mentioned twice in these two verses, indicating that she hankered for
Kṛṣṇa in separation even more intensely than the others. Therefore it is quite appropriate for
her to ask so confidentially about Kṛṣṇa’s devotional service. Tavaiva yogyaḥ praśnaḥ means
“The only relevant question is yours [tava eva].” Few other persons would have had the
proper devotional attitude to ask such a question.
BB 2.1.27
śrī-subhadrā-pater aham
yena pautratayā garbhe
tava saj-janma lambhitaḥ
nija—own; priya-sakhasya—of His dear friend (Arjuna); atra—here; śrī-subhadrā-pateḥ—of
the husband of Śrī Subhadrā; aham—I; yena—by whom; pautratayā—as a grandson;
garbhe—in the womb; tava—your; sat-janma—the auspicious birth; lambhitaḥ—obtained.
Kṛṣṇa Himself granted me the fortunate privilege to be born here, from your womb as a
grandson of His dear friend Arjuna, the husband of Śrī Subhadrā.
Parīkṣit realizes that only by the special mercy of Śrī Kṛṣṇa will he be able to answer his
mother’s question, and accordingly he offers his homage to Kṛṣṇa. In texts 27 through 31 he
first describes the favors Kṛṣṇa showed him throughout his life.
In this verse the word atra (“here”) has several related meanings: Parīkṣit was born in the
holy land of Bhārata-varṣa, in its most pious central region, in the human species, in a dynasty
of great kṣatriyas, and from the womb of Uttarā as the grandson of Kṛṣṇa’s friend Arjuna. His
birth was sat, auspicious, because it was connected with Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa protected Parīkṣit’s
unborn body from mutilation by the weapon of Aśvatthāmā. And Parīkṣit’s grandmother was
Subhadrā, Kṛṣṇa’s sister, not any other of Arjuna’s wives.
BB 2.1.28
garbhāntare ca dhṛta-cakra-gadena yena
brahmāstrato ’ham avitaḥ sahito bhavatyā
bālye nareṣu nija-rūpa-parīkṣaṇaṁ ca
nīto muhuḥ parama-bhāgavatocitaṁ yat
garbha-antare—within the womb; ca—and; dhṛta—holding; cakra—disc; gadena—and club;
yena—by whom; brahma-astrataḥ—from the brahmāstra weapon; aham—I; avitaḥ—
protected; sahitaḥ—together with; bhavatyā—your good self; bālye—in childhood; nareṣu—
among men; nija-rūpa—for His form; parīkṣaṇam—to the searching; ca—and; nītaḥ—led;
muhuḥ—repeatedly; parama-bhāgavata—of topmost Vaiṣṇavas; ucitam—worthy; yat—
To protect both me and you from the brahmāstra weapon, Kṛṣṇa appeared within your womb
holding His disc and club. In my childhood He led me to search constantly among men for
His own form, a meditation worthy of the most exalted Vaiṣṇavas.
When Lord Kṛṣṇa entered the womb of Uttarā to protect her embryo, He assumed His fourarmed form and used both His disc and His club to dispel the brahmāstra. This pastime is
described in the First and Tenth Cantos of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:
kṣatajākṣaṁ gadā-pāṇim
tmanaḥ sarvato diśam
paribhramantam ulkābhāṁ
bhrāmayantaṁ gadāṁ muhuḥ
“With four long, beautiful arms, earrings of fiery gold, eyes blood red with fury, and His club
constantly encircling Him like a shooting star, the Lord whirled about the child.”
(Bhāgavatam 1.12.9)
drauṇy-astra-vipluṣṭam idaṁ mad-aṅgaṁ
santāna-bījaṁ kuru-pāṇḍavānām
jugopa kukṣiṁ gata ātta-cakro
mātuś ca me yaḥ śaraṇaṁ gatāyāḥ
“Because my mother surrendered unto Lord Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet, the Lord, Sudarśana cakra in
hand, entered her womb and saved my body, the body of the last remaining descendant of the
Kurus and the Pāṇḍavas, which was almost destroyed by the fiery weapon of Aśvatthāmā.”
(Bhāgavatam 10.1.6)
The sight of the Lord’s beautiful form within his mother’s womb greatly impressed the
unborn Parīkṣit:
aṅguṣṭha-mātram amalaṁ
apīvya-darśanaṁ śyāmaṁ
taḍid vāsasam acyutam
“The Lord was only thumb high, but He was all transcendental. He had a beautiful, blackish,
infallible body, and He wore a dress of lightning yellow and a helmet of blazing gold. The
Lord was enriched with four hands and with earrings of molten gold. Thus He was seen by the
child.” (Bhāgavatam 1.12.8-9)
All through his childhood, Parīkṣit tried to find the same Lord he had seen in the womb.
Whenever he saw a similar-looking person he would ask himself, “Is this the same one?”
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.12.30) describes the origin of his name:
sa eṣa loke vikhyātaḥ
parīkṣid iti yat prabhuḥ
pūrvaṁ dṛṣṭam anudhyāyan
parīkṣeta nareṣv iha
“He would become famous in the world as Parīkṣit [examiner] because he would come to
examine all human beings in his search for that personality whom he saw before his birth.
Thus he would come to constantly contemplate the Lord.” In this way, even in early
childhood Parīkṣit always meditated on the all-attractive form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
BB 2.1.29
yenānuvartī mahatāṁ guṇaiḥ kṛto
vikhyāpito ’haṁ kali-nigraheṇa
sampādya rājya-śriyam adbhutāṁ tato
nirvedito bhūsura-śāpa-dāpanāt
yena—by which; anuvartī—attended; mahatām—of great saints; guṇaiḥ—with the qualities;
subsequently; nirveditaḥ—made to renounce; bhūsura—through the agency of a brāhmaṇa;
śāpa—of a curse; dāpanāt—by the causing to give.
By Him I was endowed with the qualities of great saints and made famous for subduing Kali.
By faithfully following Him I gained wonderful royal opulences. Then, through a brāhmaṇa’s
curse, He made me renounce everything.
By Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s blessings, Parīkṣit had many saintly qualities, like selfless care for the people,
respect for brahminical authority, and strict adherence to his promises. These qualities he
inherited from his ancestors, who were pious kings. As the brāhmaṇa astrologers told
Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja at the time of Parīkṣit’s birth:
pārtha prajāvitā sākṣād
ikṣvākur iva mānavaḥ
brahmaṇyaḥ satya-sandhaś ca
rāmo dāśarathir yathā
“O son of Pṛthā, this child will be exactly like King Ikṣvāku, son of Manu, in maintaining all
those who are born. And in following the brahminical principles, especially in being true to
his promise, he will be exactly like Rāma, the Personality of Godhead, the son of Mahārāja
eṣa dātā śaraṇyaś ca
yathā hy auśīnaraḥ śibiḥ
yaśo-vitanitā svānāṁ
dauṣyantir iva yajvanām
“This child will be a munificent donor of charity and protector of the surrendered, like the
famous King Śibi of the Uśīnara country. And he will expand the name and fame of his
family like Bharata, the son of Mahārāja Duṣyanta.
dhanvinām agraṇīr eṣa
tulyaś cārjunayor dvayoḥ
hutāśa iva durdharṣaḥ
samudra iva dustaraḥ
“Amongst great bowmen, he will be as good as the two Arjunas [Pāṇḍava Arjuna and
Kārtavīrya Arjuna]. He will be as irresistible as fire and as unsurpassable as the ocean.
mṛgendra iva vikrānto
niṣevyo himavān iva
titikṣur vasudhevāsau
sahiṣṇuḥ pitarāv iva
“He will be as strong as a lion, and as worthy a shelter as the Himālaya Mountains. He will be
forbearing like the earth, and as tolerant as his parents.
pitāmaha-samaḥ sāmye
prasāde giriśopamaḥ
āśrayaḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ
yathā devo ramāśrayaḥ
“In equanimity of mind he will be like his grandfather Yudhiṣṭhira or Brahmā. He will be
munificent like Śiva, the lord of the Kailāsa Hill. And he will be the resort of everyone, like
the Supreme Personality of Godhead Nārāyaṇa, who is even the shelter of the goddess of
eṣa kṛṣṇam anuvrataḥ
rantideva ivodār
yayātir iva dhārmikaḥ
“The child will be almost as good as Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa by following in His footsteps. In
magnanimity he will become as great as King Rantideva, and in religion like Mahārāja
dhṛtyā bali-samaḥ kṛṣṇe
prahrāda iva sad-grahaḥ
“He will be like Bali Mahārāja in patience and a staunch devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa like Prahlāda
Mahārāja.” (Bhāgavatam 1.12.19–25)
While on a victory tour of his kingdom, Parīkṣit came to Kurukṣetra, on the shore of the eastflowing Sarasvatī, and there confronted Kali, the personification of the modern age. Kali, in
the form of a śūdra, was committing violence against a cow and a bull, who were actually the
goddess Earth and personified Religion. Parīkṣit subdued Kali, and thus for the duration of his
own reign he limited the spread of Kali’s influence. For this accomplishment he became
By Kṛṣṇa’s grace Parīkṣit’s rule was a source of amazement to everyone. The kingdom was
free from disturbance and abundant in wealth. But Parīkṣit lost interest in his royal opulence
in a moment, when cursed by Śṛṅgi, the son of the sage Śamīka. The brāhmaṇa’s son cursed
the king thus:
iti laṅghita-maryādaṁ
takṣakaḥ saptame ’hani
daṅkṣyati sma kulāṅgāraṁ
codito me tata-druham
“On the seventh day from today a snake-bird will bite that most wretched member of the
dynasty because of his having broken the laws of etiquette by insulting my father.”
(Bhāgavatam 1.18.37)
Parīkṣit understood, however, that this curse was also Kṛṣṇa’s arrangement for his benefit;
otherwise, the king would never have committed such an offense against a pure sage, the
young son of the sage would never have cursed the king, or Kṛṣṇa would have empowered the
king to neutralize the curse. The immediate effect of the curse was to awaken Parīkṣit’s sense
of renunciation:
tasyaiva me ’ghasya parāvareśo
vyāsakta-cittasya gṛheṣv abhīkṣṇam
nirveda-mūlo dvija-śāpa-rūpo
yatra prasakto bhayam āśu dhatte
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the controller of both the transcendental and mundane
worlds, has graciously overtaken me in the form of a brāhmaṇa’s curse. Because of my being
too much attached to family life, the Lord, in order to save me, has appeared before me in
such a way that only out of fear I will detach myself from the world.” (Bhāgavatam 1.19.14)
Because Parīkṣit was engrossed in household obligations, he considered himself sinful. But he
was grateful that Śrī Kṛṣṇa, just to draw him close, appeared to him in the form of the
brāhmaṇa’s curse. When an attached person in family life receives such a curse, he naturally
becomes frightened. This is auspicious for the conditioned soul because fear can help inspire
renunciation and in renunciation Kṛṣṇa can be achieved. Therefore Kṛṣṇa arranged for the
brāhmaṇa boy to curse Parīkṣit.
BB 2.1.30
tac-chiṣya-rūpeṇa ca mat-priyaṁ taṁ
saṁśrāvya śāpaṁ nilayāndha-kūpāt
śrī-vāsudevena vikṛṣya nītaḥ
prāyopaveśāya matiṁ dyu-nadyām
tat—of him (the brāhmaṇa sage Śamīka); śiṣya-rūpeṇa—in the form of a disciple (his son
Śṛṅgi); ca—and; mat—to me; priyam—dear; tam—that; saṁśrāvya—being made to hear;
śāpam—the curse; nilaya—of home; andha-kūpāt—out of the blind well; śrī-vāsudevena—by
Śrī Vāsudeva (Kṛṣṇa); vikṛṣya—being pulled; nītaḥ—being led; prāya-upaveśāya—to fast till
death; matim—to the decision; dyu-nadyām—by the river of heaven (Śrī Gaṅgā).
When I heard of that curse, I took it as most welcome. Śrī Vāsudeva, in the form of a
brāhmaṇa’s disciple, was dragging me out of the blind well of family life and guiding me to
choose to fast till death on the shore of the celestial Gaṅgā.
By another fortunate circumstance, someone informed Parīkṣit that he was cursed to die in
seven days. Had Parīkṣit remained unaware of this news, he would never have gone to the
bank of the Gaṅgā to fast in preparation for death. Although Parīkṣit has poetically described
the brāhmaṇa’s curse as a cause of fear, the truth is that when Parīkṣit learned of the curse he
was unfearing and even pleased. He was already hoping for such a reaction to his offense.
Thus he says here, mat-priyaṁ tam: “I took it as most welcome.” In the last chapter of the
First Canto of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (1.19.2), just before hearing of the curse, Parīkṣit
expressed his mind:
dhruvaṁ tato me kṛta-deva-helanād
duratyayaṁ vyasanaṁ nāti-dīrghāt
tad astu kāmaṁ hy agha-niṣkṛtāya me
yathā na kuryāṁ punar evam addhā
“Due to neglecting the injunctions of the Supreme Lord, I must certainly expect some
difficulty to overcome me in the near future. I now desire without reservation that the
calamity come directly upon me at once, for in this way I may be freed of the sinful reaction
and not commit such an offense again.” He wanted the reaction to come immediately, without
delay (nāti-dīrghāt). And he wanted the punishment to fall directly on himself (addhā), rather
than on one of his sons or someone else.
Here Parīkṣit calls his family life a blind well, a well from which he was incapable of lifting
himself. Śrī Kṛṣṇa very kindly pulled him out of that well and brought him to the shore of the
celestial river Gaṅgā. Kṛṣṇa, as Lord Vāsudeva, the presiding Deity of consciousness, also
attracted Parīkṣit’s mind to the idea of fasting from food and drink until death. Because the
Lord personally took control of him, Parīkṣit did not remain in his palace and try to counteract
the curse by performing yajṣa (sacrifice) and prāyaścitta (atonement for an accidental fall into
sinful activity).
Kṛṣṇa is Vāsudeva, the Supersoul of all, and He is the son of Śrī Vasudeva, who is a reservoir
of supreme compassion and gentleness. Therefore it was only natural for Kṛṣṇa to favor His
dear devotee Parīkṣit by arranging such a circumstance.
BB 2.1.31
munīndra-goṣṭhyām upadeśya tattvaṁ
śukātmanā yena bhayaṁ nirasya
pramodya ca sva-priya-saṅga-dānāt
kathāmṛtaṁ samprati ca prapāyye
muni-indra—of most eminent sages; goṣṭhyām—in the assembly; upadeśya—being taught;
tattvam—the Supreme Truth; śuka-ātmanā—in the form of Śukadeva; yena—by whom;
bhayam—fear; nirasya—being dispelled; pramodya—being delighted; ca—and; sva-priya—
of His dear devotees; saṅga—of the association; dānāt—by the gift; kathā-amṛtam—the nectar
of His topics; samprati—now; ca—and; prapāyye—I shall help you drink.
In the assembly of most eminent sages, the Lord dispelled my fear by explaining the truth
through Śukadeva. And the Lord delighted me by granting the association of His dear
devotees. Now I shall help you drink the nectar of topics about the Lord.
Many eminent sages like Vasiṣṭha, Parāśara, Vyāsa, and Nārada assembled to witness
Parīkṣit’s passing away. The word goṣṭhyām, which sometimes means “in a discussion,”
indicates that first there was some debate among the sages, as described in Śrī Hari-bhaktisudhodaya:
tena te devatā-tattvaṁ
pṛṣṭā vādān vitenire
nānā-śāstra-vido viprā
mithaḥ sādhana-dūṣaṇaiḥ
harir daivaṁ śivo daivaṁ
bhāskaro daivam ity uta
kāla eva svabhāvas tu
karmaiveti pṛthag jaguḥ
“Having been asked the truth about the Supreme Lord, the sages, who were expert in many
scriptures, expounded a number of different theories. Each sage tried to refute the validity of
what the others recommended for spiritual practice. They made various opposing claims:
‘Hari is the Supreme Lord.’ ‘Śiva is the Supreme Lord.’ ‘The sun is the Supreme Lord.’
‘Time is the Supreme.’ ‘Man’s nature is supreme.’ ‘Karma is supreme.’ ”
The word goṣṭhyām can also mean “in the assembly.” Taken that way, it indicates that what
Śukadeva told Parīkṣit was irrefutably authoritative because the greatest sages of the universe
unanimously approved it. The philosophical disagreements ended with the arrival of
Śukadeva. Through Śukadeva, the son of Vyāsa, Kṛṣṇa Himself imparted to Parīkṣit the
essential spiritual instructions of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Śukadeva enlightened Parīkṣit in two
ways. By teaching the factual nature of the body and the soul, he removed Parīkṣit’s fear—his
fear of the bite of the snake-bird Takṣaka and of the cycle of birth and death. And by teaching
about transcendental topics such as the glories of devotional service to the Personality of
Godhead, Śukadeva filled Parīkṣit with joy.
By the time Parīkṣit spoke this verse to his mother, his divine spiritual master had already
gone away, and the time for death had arrived. But Kṛṣṇa continued to favor Parīkṣit by again
blessing him with the association of a saintly Vaiṣṇava, namely his own mother. Parīkṣit
therefore says to her, “Now let me serve you hari-kathāmṛta, the excellent nectarean topics of
the Lord.” To be able to drink hari-kathāmṛta in the company of the Lord’s beloved devotees
is the most desirable achievement in life.
BB 2.1.32
kṛṣṇaṁ praṇamya nirupādhi-kṛpākaraṁ tam
saṁvardhya vipra-vacanādarato gṛhītaṁ
svasyānta-kālam idam eka-manā bruve te
praśnottaraṁ sakala-vaiṣṇava-śāstra-sāram
kṛṣṇam—to Kṛṣṇa; praṇamya—paying my obeisances; nirupādhi—unconditional; kṛpā—of
mercy; ākaram—the reservoir; tam—to Him; saṁvardhya—being postponed; vipra—of the
brāhmaṇa; vacana—for the words; ādarataḥ—out of respect; gṛhītam—accepted; svasya—
my; anta—of the demise; kālam—the time; idam—this; eka-manāḥ—with one-pointed
attention; bruve—I shall speak; te—you; praśna—to the question; uttaram—the answer;
sakala—of all; vaiṣṇava-śāstra—Vaiṣṇava scriptures; sāram—the essence.
I bow down to Him, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the reservoir of causeless mercy. Out of respect for the words
of the brāhmaṇa, I have accepted the appointed time for my demise. That time being
momentarily delayed, I shall answer your question with one-pointed attention by describing
the essence of all Vaiṣṇava scriptures.
Someone might suggest it inappropriate for a saintly person like Parīkṣit Mahārāja to
advertise his own good qualities. Anticipating such a doubt, Parīkṣit explains that everything
praiseworthy he has said about himself is due only to the causeless mercy of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is
the source of all undeserved mercy; if we see a generous person act kindly to someone
undeserving, that kindness is but a small portion from the original, infinite repository of
causeless mercy. “Thus,” Parīkṣit submits, “even though I am the most fallen and unworthy
soul, devoid of good qualities, many excellences have appeared in me, and these are nothing
other than excellences of Kṛṣṇa. My speaking praise of myself, therefore, is faultless.”
These moments are supposed to be the last of King Parīkṣit’s life, but somehow they are being
extended so that he has time to satisfy his mother, who wants to hear the essence of the nectar
of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Parīkṣit thus intends to give full attention to his answer, even at the
cost of the yogic meditation he should perform while preparing for death.
BB 2.1.33
śruti-smṛtīnāṁ vākyāni
sākṣāt tātparyato ’py aham
vyākhyāya bodhayitvaitat
tvāṁ santoṣayituṁ kṣamaḥ
śruti—of śrutis; smṛtīnām—and of smṛtis; vākyāni—the statements; sākṣāt—literally;
tātparyataḥ—by the implication of their purports; api—also; aham—I; vyākhyāya—by
explaining; bodhayitvā—making you understand; etat—this; tvām—you; santoṣayitum—to
satisfy; kṣamaḥ—am capable.
I could satisfy your request by explaining to you the statements of the śrutis and smṛtis, both
in their literal meaning and in their implications.
One way to answer his mother’s inquiry would be to systematically explain the authoritative
philosophical statements of revealed scriptures. To do this, he would carefully have to discern
which scriptural passages should be accepted literally and which need to be interpreted
conditionally or figuratively to agree with what has already been established as real.
BB 2.1.34
tathāpi sva-guroḥ prāptaṁ
prasādāt saṁśaya-cchidam
atretihāsam ādau te
vyaktārthaṁ kathayāmy amum
tathā api—nonetheless; sva-guroḥ—of my spiritual master; prāptam—obtained; prasādāt—by
the mercy; saṁśaya—doubts; chidam—which destroys; atra—taking this opportunity;
itihāsam—a history; ādau—first; te—your; vyakta-artham—for the clarification; kathayāmi—
I shall tell; amum—this.
But I prefer to clarify this subject for you by first relating a history I learned by the mercy of
my spiritual master. This narration will dispel your doubts.
Vyāsa never formally initiated his son Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and Śukadeva never formally
initiated his student Parīkṣit. Nonetheless, the entire tradition of hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam
in the transcendental bhāgavata line of disciplic succession rests on the foundation of the
relationship between Śukadeva and Parīkṣit as guru and disciple.
Parīkṣit will recount in his own words the essence of what he heard from his guru, taking care
to present the literal facts in the most straightforward way. He does not want his mother to
suffer any confusion or doubt.
BB 2.1.35
vipro niṣkiṣcanaḥ kaścit
purā prāgjyotiṣe pure
vasann ajṣāta-śāstrārtho
vipraḥ—a brāhmaṇa; niṣkiṣcanaḥ—poor; kaścit—certain; purā—long ago; prāgjyotiṣe pure—
in the city of Prāgjyotiṣa; vasan—was living; ajṣāta—not knowing; śāstra-arthaḥ—the
meaning of the scriptures; bahu-draviṇa—after much wealth; kāmyayā—hankering.
Long ago in the city of Prāgjyotiṣa there lived a poor brāhmaṇa. He was ignorant of the
teachings of scripture, and he hankered after abundant wealth.
BB 2.1.36-37
TEXTS 36–37
tatratya-devīṁ kāmākhyāṁ
śraddhayānu-dinaṁ bhajan
tasyāḥ sakāśāt tuṣṭāyāḥ
svapne mantraṁ daśākṣaram
lebhe madana-gopālacaraṇāmbhoja-daivatam
sākṣād iva mahā-nidhim
tatratya—of that place; devīm—the goddess; kāma-ākhyām—Kāmākhyā; śraddhayā—
faithfully; anu-dinam—every day; bhajan—worshiping; tasyāḥ sakāśāt—from her; tuṣṭāyāḥ—
who was satisfied; svapne—in a dream; mantram—the mantra; daśa-akṣaram—of ten
syllables; lebhe—he received; madana-gopāla—of Madana-gopāla; caraṇa-ambhoja—the
lotus feet; daivatam—whose object of worship; tat—of that; dhyāna-ādi—for the meditation
and so on; vidhāna—with the prescriptions; āḍhyam—included; sākṣāt—directly; iva—as if;
mahā-nidhim—a great treasure.
Every day he would faithfully worship Kāmākhyā, the goddess of that place. And when she
became satisfied he received from her in a dream the ten-syllable mantra for worshiping the
lotus feet of Madana-gopāla. The goddess also gave him instructions on how to meditate upon
the mantra and perform various details of practice. The mantra manifested itself before him
like a valuable treasure-chest opened right before his eyes.
This brāhmaṇa lived in the northeast of India, in what is now the state of Assam. His city,
Prāgjyotiṣa, had been the capital of Bhaumāsura during the time of the advent of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
The brāhmaṇa had never studied the scriptures properly and had never heard a basic
explanation of their message from authorized teachers. That such an unfortunate fool achieved
all his ambitions is proof of the potency of the mantra he received.
The ten-syllable gopāla-mantra is defined in esoteric terms in the book Krama-dīpikā, an old
Vaiṣṇava tantra by Keśava Ācārya. Vedic and tantric mantras should be chanted only by
qualified persons who have received them through proper initiation. Therefore, when books
discuss these mantras, special efforts are made to disguise the exact syllables of the mantra.
Sometimes a few syllables are changed or inverted in the description, or sometimes, as in the
Krama-dīpikā’s presentation of this gopāla-mantra, the explanation is impossible to
understand by those who are unfamiliar with the cryptic code being used. Thus Krama-dīpikā
describes the ten-syllable gopāla-mantra as follows: śārṅgī sottara-dantaḥ śūro vāmākṣi-yugdvitīyo ’rṇaḥ, śūlī śaurir bālo balānuja-dvayam athākṣara-catuṣkam. “The holder of the bow
Śarṅga, the upper teeth, then Śūra, and the second letter conjoined with the goddess Vānākṣī,
then the bearer of the trident, and Śauri, and Bāla, and twice the younger brother of Bala, and
four more syllables.”
The Deity worshiped by this mantra is Śrī Madana-gopāla, who happens to be the worshipable
Deity of Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī. Kāmākhyā Devī gave the brāhmaṇa not only the mantra but
also the method for meditating on the mantra’s Deity; and, as implied by the word ādi (“and
so on”), she also told him how to touch one’s body to sanctify it with the syllables of the
mantra and how to worship the Deity through various means, including appropriate hand
How was the brāhmaṇa’s attention attracted away from his worship of Devī? The gopālamantra made such a vivid impression on him that he completely forgot his other religious
BB 2.1.38
devy-ādeśena taṁ mantraṁ
vivikte satataṁ japan
dhanecchāyā nivṛtto ’bhūl
lebhe ca hṛdi nirvṛtim
devī—of the goddess; ādeśena—on the order; tam—that; mantram—mantra; vivikte—in a
private place; satatam—constantly; japan—chanting; dhana—for wealth; icchāyāḥ—from the
desire; nivṛttaḥ—detached; abhūt—he became; lebhe—he obtained; ca—and; hṛdi—in his
heart; nirvṛtim—satisfaction.
On the order of the goddess, he chanted the mantra constantly to himself in a secluded place.
Gradually he gave up his desire for wealth, and his heart became satisfied.
The brāhmaṇa was so foolish that he ignored the advice of the goddess and dismissed the
mantra as the false creation of a dream. She then appeared to him in a second dream to repeat
her instructions.
BB 2.1.39
vastu-tattvānabhijṣo ’nyat
sa kiṣcit pāra-laukikam
sādhanaṁ kila sādhyaṁ ca
vartamānam amanyata
vastu-tattva—of the real facts; anabhijṣaḥ—ignorant; anyat—other; saḥ—he; kiṣcit—
something; pāra-laukikam—in the next world; sādhanam—the means; kila—indeed;
sādhyam—the goal; ca—and; vartamānam—existing; amanyata—thought.
Ignorant of the real facts, he thought that something other than this mantra, something in the
next life, must be his means of success and the goal of his endeavors.
Lacking discrimination, the brāhmaṇa was unable to recognize the value of the mantra
relative to other things in his life; his judgment of what to accept and what to reject was
impaired. But by the grace of the mantra, his mind, previously uninterested in the next life,
now began to turn in that direction. The goddess had withheld from him knowledge about the
full power of this mantra, and so he was imagining other goals and means of success. But as
we shall see later in this narration, the effectiveness of the gopāla-mantra, even when
knowledge about it is lacking, is evidence of its great potency. The mantra bestows all
benefits even when chanted without faith or understanding.
BB 2.1.40
gṛhādikaṁ parityajya
bhramaṁs tīrtheṣu bhikṣayā
gato nirvāhayan dehaṁ
gṛha-ādikam—his home and so on; parityajya—leaving; bhraman—wandering; tīrtheṣu—
among various pilgrimage places; bhikṣayā—by begging; gataḥ—he went; nirvāhayan—
maintaining; deham—his body; gaṅgā-sāgara—of the river Gaṅgā and the ocean;
saṅgamam—to the meeting place.
He left his home and other connections and began wandering among pilgrimage places,
maintaining his bodily needs by begging. And thus he traveled to the place where the Gaṅgā
meets the ocean.
The brāhmaṇa’s chanting gradually increasing its effect, he soon gave up sinful activities and
needless sense gratification and took up a renounced life.
BB 2.1.41
viprān gaṅgā-taṭe ’paśyat
prāyaśo gṛhiṇo bahūn
viprān—brāhmaṇas; gaṅgā-taṭe—on the shore of the Gaṅgā; apaśyat—he saw; sarva-vidyā—
in all fields of knowledge; viśāradān—proficient; sva-dharma-ācāra—in their prescribed
duties; niratān—fixed; prāyaśaḥ—for the most part; gṛhiṇaḥ—family men; bahūn—many.
There on the shore of the Gaṅgā he saw many brāhmaṇas, mostly family men, who were
expert in all fields of knowledge and devoted to performing their prescribed duties.
Since the tīrtha he was visiting, Gaṅgā-sāgara, was in southern Bengal at the confluence of the
Gaṅgā and the sea, the brāhmaṇas he met were Bengalis. They were expert in the fourteen
Vedic departments of learning enumerated in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (3.6.27):
aṅgāni vedāś catvāro
mīmāṁsā nyāya-vistaraḥ
dharma-śāstraṁ purāṇaṁ ca
vidyā hy etāś caturdaśa
“The four Vedas, their six supplements, the Purāṇas, the Dharma-śāstras, the Mīmāṁsā
interpretation of the Vedas, and the elaborate science of Nyāya logic—these are the fourteen
departments of learning.”
BB 2.1.42
tair varṇyamānam ācāraṁ
āvaśyakaṁ tathā kāmyaṁ
svargaṁ śuśrāva tat-phalam
taiḥ—by them; varṇyamānam—being described; ācāram—proper behavior; nitya—regular
duties; naimittika—occasional duties; ādikam—and so on; āvaśyakam—obligatory; tathā—
and; kāmyam—optional, for the fulfillment of personal desires; svargam—heaven; śuśrāva—
he heard; tat—of these; phalam—the fruit.
He heard them describe regular and occasional duties one is obliged to perform, optional
duties for particular desires, and the fruit of these acts—attainment of heaven.
Brāhmaṇas initiated into the Vedic rituals are expected to perform certain sacrifices regularly
as a matter of duty, sacrifices like the Agnihotra yajṣa, which must be done twice every day,
at sunrise and sunset. Such brāhmaṇas may also be obliged to execute other rituals because of
special circumstances in their lives, when, for example, they must perform the śrāddha
memorial on the anniversary of an elder’s death. Besides these obligatory nitya and naimittika
duties, a brāhmaṇa may also elect to undertake certain sacrifices and vows, called kāmya
rituals, to fulfill personal ambitions. Thus there are three kinds of duties for Vedic brāhmaṇas.
The brāhmaṇa from Prāgjyotiṣa-pura may have heard the local brāhmaṇas of Gaṅgā-sāgara
thus glorify the principles of dharma:
ācāra-prabhavo dharmo
dharmasya prabhur acyutaḥ
“Dharma arises from proper behavior, and the Lord of dharma is the infallible Personality of
sad-ācāravatā puṁsā
jitau lokāv ubhāv api
“A person who possesses good behavior has conquered both this world and the next.”
The local brāhmaṇas may have also glorified heaven as the fruit of dharma with such words
as these:
yan na duḥkhena sambhinnaṁ
na ca grastam anantaram
abhilāṣopanītaṁ ca
sukhaṁ tat svar
“The happiness of the residents of heaven is untainted, never consumed by misery, and it
comes to them just as they desire. .” (Vādārtha of Gadādhara Bhaṭṭa)
BB 2.1.43
nānā-saṅkalpa-vākyaiś ca
dṛṣṭvā tatrodita-śraddhaḥ
pravṛttaḥ śikṣitaḥ sa taiḥ
nānā—various; saṅkalpa-vākyaiḥ—with statements of firm intention; ca—and; tat—of these
(vows); anuṣṭhāna—for the performance; niṣṭhatām—the determination; dṛṣṭvā—seeing;
tatra—in this; udita—arose; śraddhaḥ—his faith; pravṛttaḥ—became engaged; śikṣitaḥ—
taught; saḥ—he; taiḥ—by them.
From the various words they spoke to express their determined vows, he saw how firm the
brāhmaṇas were in their intentions to perform these duties. His faith aroused, he began to
follow this process according to their instructions.
The brāhmaṇa not only heard the glories of dharma in theory but saw exemplars practicing
what they preached. He heard them declare their intentions (saṅkalpas) to perform such duties
as bathing daily in the Gaṅgā and then watched as they diligently carried these duties out.
Although in all his life he had received no useful spiritual education, these brāhmaṇas were
now carefully teaching him the principles of dharma according to their understanding.
BB 2.1.44
devy-ājṣādarato mantram
api nityaṁ raho japan
tat-prabhāvān na lebhe ’ntaḥ
santoṣaṁ teṣu karmasu
devī—of the goddess; ājṣā—for the order; ādarataḥ—out of respect; mantram—his mantra;
api—still; nityam—regularly; rahaḥ—in private; japan—chanting quietly; tat—of it;
prabhāvāt—by the influence; na lebhe—he did not obtain; antaḥ—inner; santoṣam—
satisfaction; teṣu—their; karmasu—in the ritual activities.
Out of respect for the goddess’s order, he regularly continued to chant his mantra quietly in
private. And by the influence of the mantra, he felt no inner satisfaction from those rituals.
Attraction to worshiping the Supreme Lord defeats attraction to lesser religious practices.
BB 2.1.45
sa nirvidya gataḥ kāśīṁ
dadarśa bahu-deśa-jān
yati-prāyān janāṁs tatrādvaita-vyākhyā-vivādinaḥ
saḥ—he; nirvidya—becoming uninterested; gataḥ—went; kāśīm—to Vārāṇasī; dadarśa—he
saw; bahu-deśa-jān—born in many different regions; yati—renounced sannyāsīs; prāyān—
janān—people; tatra—there; advaita—of strict
vyākhyā—of the
interpretation; vivādinaḥ—proponents.
He therefore lost interest and went to Kāśī, where he saw people from many different regions,
especially sannyāsīs propounding the theory of monism.
BB 2.1.46
viśveśvaraṁ praṇamyādau
gatvā prati-maṭhaṁ yatīn
natvā sambhāṣya viśrāmaṁ
teṣāṁ pārśve cakāra saḥ
viśva-īśvaram—to Lord Viśveśvara; praṇamya—offering obeisances; ādau—first; gatvā—
going; prati-maṭham—to each āśrama; yatīn—to the sannyāsīs; natvā—bowing down;
sambhāṣya—having discussions; viśrāmam—rest; teṣām—of them; pārśve—in the company;
cakāra—took; saḥ—he.
He first offered his obeisances to Lord Viśveśvara and then visited the various āśramas, where
he bowed down to the sannyāsīs, had discussions with them, and rested in their company.
As the deity Viśveśvara, Lord Śiva presides over his sacred abode of Kāśī, also known in
Sanskrit as Vārāṇasī and known popularly as Benares.
BB 2.1.47
vādeṣu śuddha-buddhīnāṁ
teṣāṁ pāṇi-tala-stha-vat
mokṣaṁ bodhayatāṁ vākyaiḥ
sāraṁ mene sa tan-matam
vādeṣu—in philosophical talks; śuddha-buddhīnām—whose intelligence was pure; teṣām—of
them; pāṇi-tala—in the palm of one’s hand; stha-vat—as if held; mokṣam—liberation;
bodhayatām—who were explaining; vākyaiḥ—by the words; sāram—essential; mene—
considered; saḥ—he; tat—their; matam—opinions.
The intelligence of these sannyāsīs was pure, or at least it seemed so from their philosophical
talks. Their words described liberation as something readily available, as if held in the palm of
one’s hand, and this inspired him to accept their opinions as perfect.
BB 2.1.40
TEXTS 48–49
śṛṇvann avirataṁ nyāsamokṣotkarṣa-parāṇi saḥ
tebhyo vedānta-vākyāni
maṇikarṇyāṁ samācaran
snānaṁ viśveśvaraṁ paśyaṁs
teṣāṁ saṅge ’prayāsataḥ
miṣṭeṣṭa-bhogān bhuṣjānaḥ
sannyāsaṁ kartum iṣṭavān
śṛṇvan—hearing; aviratam—without cease; nyāsa—to renunciation; mokṣa—of liberation;
utkarṣa—and to the excellence; parāṇi—dedicated; saḥ—he; tebhyaḥ—from them; vedāntavākyāni—statements of Vedānta; maṇikarṇyām—at the holy site Maṇikarṇikā; samācaran—
performing; snānam—his ritual bath; viśveśvaram—Lord Viśveśvara; paśyan—seeing;
teṣām—of them; saṅge—in the association; aprayāsataḥ—effortlessly; miṣṭa—palatable;
iṣṭa—to his taste; bhogān—food; bhuṣjānaḥ—partaking of; sannyāsam—the renounced order
of life; kartum—to take up; iṣṭavān—he began to desire.
He would constantly hear from them descriptions of the Vedānta doctrine, glorifying
renunciation and liberation. He would bathe at Maṇikarṇikā-ghāṭa and have darśana of Lord
Viśveśvara, and, without having to work for his meals, he would enjoy tasty food to his liking
in the company of the sannyāsīs. He thus developed the desire to become a sannyāsī himself.
BB 2.1.50
sva-japyaṁ gauravād devyās
atyajann ekadā svapne
’paśyat tan-mantra-devatām
sva-japyam—the chanting of his mantra; gauravāt—out of respect; devyāḥ—for the goddess;
tathā—and; antaḥ—inner; sukha—pleasure; lābhataḥ—because of obtaining; atyajan—not
giving up; ekadā—one day; svapne—in a dream; apaśyat—he saw; tat-mantra—of that
mantra; devatām—the Deity.
Still, out of respect for the goddess, and because it gave him pleasure within, he never gave up
chanting his mantra. And one day he saw the Deity of his mantra in a dream.
The Prāgjyotiṣa-pura brāhmaṇa’s faith was damaged by the impersonal propaganda he heard
in Kāśī, by which his hope to meet the Lord of the universe was replaced with a false hope to
merge into oneness. Nonetheless, he went on with his mantra-japa because he held the
goddess Kāmākhyā in awe and was unwilling to violate her order. Despite his weakened faith
in the mantra, it continued to exert its transcendental influence. His heart could derive no
substantial contentment from the promises of the Vedānta texts, because he spontaneously felt
more gratification from chanting Lord Gopāla’s mantra. Perhaps the brāhmaṇa’s attraction to
liberation could never have been dispelled had Śrī Gopāla, the Deity of his mantra, not
personally appeared in his dream. Or perhaps his hope for liberation would have dissipated
anyway by the power of the mantra. In any case, his heart changed.
BB 2.1.51
taj-japānya-pravṛttau hi
na lebhe sa mano-balam
tat—of Him (Śrī Gopāla); mahā—great; ramyatā—by the charm; ākṛṣṭaḥ—attracted; paramaānanda—the greatest ecstasy; gocaraḥ—experiencing; tat—of that (mantra); japa—than the
chanting; anya—other; pravṛttau—for engagements; hi—indeed; na lebhe—did not obtain;
saḥ—he; manaḥ—mental; balam—strength.
The charm of Śrī Gopāla attracted him and gave him the greatest ecstasy. And thereafter he
could no longer find the mental strength to engage in anything other than chanting his mantra.
He no longer felt any enthusiasm for sannyāsa or liberation, what to speak of sacred baths and
other rituals.
BB 2.1.52
dīnaḥ san svapnam āgataḥ
tayā devyā sahāgatya
tatrādiṣṭaḥ śivena saḥ
iti-kartavyatā—about specifically what he should do to fulfill his duties; mūḍhaḥ—confused;
dīnaḥ—depressed; san—becoming; svapnam—a dream; āgataḥ—he experienced; tayā—her;
devyā saha—along with the goddess; āgatya—who came; tatra—there; ādiṣṭaḥ—instructed;
śivena—by Lord Śiva; saḥ—he.
Confused about what he should do, he became depressed. Then, in another dream, Lord Śiva
came to him, along with the goddess, to instruct him.
His heart was drawn to Lord Gopāla, but his mind was in a dilemma: “Should I take sannyāsa
and strive for liberation, or should I just chant my mantra?” Such is the likely result of
fellowship with impersonalists: one’s determination becomes fickle, and one cannot choose
the right thing to do. In this third appearance in the brāhmaṇa’s dreams, the goddess
Kāmākhyā brought along her husband, the lord of Kāśī, to make her presentation more
BB 2.1.53
mā mūrkha kuru sannyāsaṁ
drutaṁ śrī-mathurāṁ vraja
tatra vṛndāvane ’vaśyaṁ
pūrṇārthas tvaṁ bhaviṣyasi
mā—do not; mūrkha—O foolish one; kuru—take; sannyāsam—the renounced order;
drutam—immediately; śrī-mathurām—to Śrī Mathurā; vraja—go; tatra—there; vṛndāvane—
in the Vṛndāvana forest; avaśyam—necessarily; pūrṇa-arthaḥ—fulfilled in all ambitions;
tvam—you; bhaviṣyasi—will become.
[Lord Śiva said:] Foolish man, don’t take sannyāsa! Go at once to Śrī Mathurā. There in the
Vṛndāvana forest you will surely fulfill all your desires.”
BB 2.1.54
sotkaṇṭho mathurāṁ gantuṁ
muhus tāṁ kīrtayaṁs tataḥ
sa tad-deśa-diśaṁ gacchan
prayāgaṁ prāpa vartmani
sa-utkaṇṭhaḥ—with eagerness; mathurām—to Mathurā; gantum—to go; muhuḥ—repeatedly;
tām—that (Mathurā); kīrtayan—glorifying; tataḥ—then; saḥ—he; tat-deśa—of that district;
vartmani—on the way.
Eager to go to Mathurā, the brāhmaṇa set off toward that district, all the while chanting its
glories. On the way he came to Prayāga.
The brāhmaṇa headed west, repeatedly chanting, “Mathurā! Mathurā!”.
BB 2.1.55
tasmil+ lasan-mādhava-pāda-padme
snānāya māghoṣasi tīrtha-rāje
prāptān sa sādhūn śataśo dadarśa
tasmin—there; lasat—shining; mādhava—of Lord Mādhava; pāda-padme—at the lotus feet;
gaṅgā-āśrita—sheltered in the Gaṅgā; śrī-yamunā—at the divine Yamunā; manaḥ-jṣe—
charming; snānāya—for taking a bath; māgha—in the month of Māgha (January-February);
ūṣasi—at dawn; tīrtha-rāje—at the king of holy places; prāptān—who had come; saḥ—he;
sādhūn—spiritual persons; śataśaḥ—by the hundreds; dadarśa—saw.
There at the king of holy places, by the charming Yamunā within the Gaṅgā, he found
hundreds of saints who had gathered near the effulgent lotus feet of Lord Mādhava to bathe at
dawn in the month of Māgha.
Prayāga is called the king of tīrthas because there one discovers one’s heart’s devotion for the
Personality of Godhead. At Prayāga the Gaṅga and Yamunā unite, and downstream from their
confluence the Yamunā is considered present on one side of the Gaṅga. This is “the Yamunā
within the Gaṅga.” Gaṅgā and Yamunā are not only physically united at Prayāga—they also
share an intimate bond of love for Kṛṣṇa.
BB 2.1.56
teṣāṁ sadā-gīta-nati-stavādibhiḥ
śrī-viṣṇu-pūjotsavam aikṣatābhitaḥ
premṇārta-nādai ruditaiś ca śobhitam
teṣām—of them; sadā—constant; gīta—with singing; nati—offering of obeisances; stavaādibhiḥ—prayers and so on; śrī-viṣṇu—Śrī Viṣṇu; pūjā—of worshiping; utsavam—a festival;
aikṣata—he saw; abhitaḥ—all around; tat—His; nāma-saṅkīrtana—with chanting of the holy
names; vādya—music; nartanaiḥ—and dancing; premṇā—in pure love; ārta-nādaiḥ—with
plaintive cries; ruditaiḥ—with sobbing; ca—and; śobhitam—attractive.
On every side before him, he saw them conducting a great festival of worship for Śrī Viṣṇu,
with expressions of joyous devotion like constant singing, offering of obeisances, and
recitation of prayers. The loud congregational chanting of the Lord’s names, along with
music, dancing, sobbing, and plaintive cries of love, was attractive.
In addition to what the verse specifically mentions, the brāhmaṇa saw the elaborate
arrangements for feeding and worshiping the Lord in His Deity form. This same Deity, Bindu
Mādhava, was seen by Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu when He visited Prāyaga.
BB 2.1.57
so ’budho vismayaṁ prāpto
vaiṣṇavān pṛcchati sma tān
he gāyakā vandino re
daṇḍa-vat pātino bhuvi
saḥ—he; abudhaḥ—innocent; vismayam—amazement; prāptaḥ—obtained; vaiṣṇavān—the
Vaiṣṇavas; pṛcchati sma—asked; tān—them; he gāyakāḥ—O singers; vandinaḥ re—O
offerers of prayers; daṇḍa-vat—like rods; pātinaḥ—O you who are falling; bhuvi—on the
Innocent, ignorant, and amazed, he said to those Vaiṣṇavas, “Excuse me, you singers, you
reciters of prayers, and you who are falling on the ground like rods.
Never before having seen such behavior or even heard of it, the brāhmaṇa didn’t know what
to think. He was unaware of Vaiṣṇava etiquette and unable to distinguish the Vaiṣṇavas from
ordinary stage performers and court reciters. And so he naively interrupted the saṅkīrtana and
addressed the Vaiṣṇavas disrespectfully. He could see only their external behavior but not
their internal spiritual status.
BB 2.1.58-59
TEXTS 58-59
bho vādakā nartakā re
rodakā ramya-tilakāś
cāru-mālā-dharā narāḥ
bhavataikaṁ kṣaṇaṁ svasthā
na kolāhalam arhatha
vadatedaṁ vidhaddhve kiṁ
kaṁ vārcayatha sādaram
bhoḥ vādakāḥ—O chanters; nartakāḥ re—O dancers; rāma—Rāma; kṛṣṇa—Kṛṣṇa; iti—thus;
vādinaḥ—O you who are saying; rodakāḥ—you who are crying; ramya—charming; tilakāḥ—
whose auspicious marks on the forehead; cāru—beautiful; mālā—garlands; dharāḥ—wearing;
narāḥ—men; bhavatā—you; ekam—one; kṣaṇam—for a moment; svasthāḥ—becoming calm;
na—not; kolāhalam—commotion; arhatha—you should make; vadata—please tell; idam—
this; vidhaddhve—you are performing; kim—what; kam—whom; vā—or; arcayatha—you are
worshiping; sa-ādaram—with respect.
“My dear musicians, dear chanters and dancers, loudly crying out ‘Rāma Kṛṣṇa,’ you men
adorned with beautiful tilaka and attractive garlands, please calm down for a moment and stop
making such a racket! What is this ceremony you are observing? Whom are you so reverently
He mistook some of the Vaiṣṇavas for ordinary musicians, dancers, and chanters of mundane
slogans, but at least he admired the beauty of their viṣṇu-tilaka, which resembled in form a
temple of Viṣṇu. Since he was unaware of the transcendental value of the sound of the
Supreme Lord’s names sung loudly in public congregation, he judged the saṅkīrtana to be
needless noise. He assumed that these people had meaningful work to do and wondered why
they were neglecting their duties to indulge in frivolity. Or, as he suggested in his questions,
he thought this might be some strange kind of ritual duty or even the unusual worship of some
BB 2.1.60
tac chrutvopahasanti sma
kecit taṁ kecid abruvan
re mūḍha tūṣṇīṁ tiṣṭheti
ke ’py ūcur dīna-vatsalāḥ
tat—that; śrutvā—hearing; upahasanti sma—laughed; kecit—some; tam—him; kecit—some;
abruvan—said; re mūḍha—O fool; tūṣṇīm—quiet; tiṣṭha—remain; iti—thus; ke api—others;
api—and; ūcuḥ—said; dīna-vatsalāḥ—compassionate to unfortunate persons.
Some of the Vaiṣṇavas simply laughed at hearing this. Others told him, “You fool, just be
quiet!” Yet others, compassionate to fallen souls, said to him something else.
Some participants in the saṅkīrtana festival who were newcomers to devotional service began
ridiculing the brāhmaṇa: “Oh, you are the best of sages, the most learned scholar! Yes, you
are right, we are all out of our wits, and this noise is a public nuisance.” Some of the
intermediate sādhakas in the group were angered by his comments. Others, the fully selfrealized devotees in the assembly, showed him the same compassion they felt for all living
beings. As real friends of the conditioned souls, they frankly told him what he needed to hear.
BB 2.1.61
śrī-vaiṣṇavā ūcuḥ
aye vipra-ja jānāsi
na kiṣcid bata mūḍha-dhīḥ
viṣṇu-bhaktān punar maivaṁ
sambodhaya na jalpa ca
śrī-vaiṣṇavāḥ ūcuḥ—the holy Vaiṣṇavas said; aye—hey; vipra-ja—O you who were born a
brāhmaṇa; jānāsi na—you do not understand; kiṣcit—anything; bata—indeed; mūḍha—
bewildered; dhīḥ—whose intelligence; viṣṇu-bhaktān—devotees of Viṣṇu; punaḥ—again;
mā—do not; evam—like this; sambodhaya—address; na—do not; jalpa—speak loosely; ca—
The holy Vaiṣṇavas said: Hey, bewildered son of a brāhmaṇa, don’t you understand anything?
Don’t ever again address devotees of Viṣṇu like that and speak to them such nonsense!
The paramahaṁsas were obviously disappointed that despite his birth in a brāhmaṇa family he
was such a fool. Out of kindness they advised him to refrain from treating Vaiṣṇavas like
materialistic people; he should never again ask them to stop making noise as if they were
ordinary singers and reciters.
BB 2.1.62
bhagavantam ime viṣṇuṁ
nityaṁ vayam upāsmahe
guror gṛhīta-dīkṣākā
yathā-mantraṁ yathā-vidhi
bhagavantam—the Supreme Lord; ime—these persons; viṣṇum—Viṣṇu; nityam—always;
vayam—we; upāsmahe—worship; guroḥ—from the spiritual master; gṛhīta-dīkṣākāḥ—having
taken initiation; yathā—according to; mantram—our mantras; yathā—according to; vidhi—
our methods.
Initiated by our gurus, we always worship the Supreme Lord Viṣṇu with the mantras and
methods they have given us.
What distinguished the saṅkīrtana devotees from the Prāgjyotiṣa-pura brāhmaṇa was that they
had accepted Vaiṣṇava initiation from authorized ācāryas and were practicing devotional
service according to the instructions of their spiritual masters. Because the brāhmaṇa lacked
the mercy of a pure devotee, his chanting of the gopāla-mantra was bearing undeveloped
results instead of mature fruit. Real spiritual knowledge had eluded him.
BB 2.1.63
śrī-nṛsiṁha-tanuṁ kecid
raghunāthaṁ tathāpare
eke gopālam ity evaṁ
nānā-rūpaṁ dvijottama
śrī-nṛsiṁha—of Śrī Nṛsiṁha; tanum—in the form; kecit—some; raghunātham—Lord
Rāmacandra; tathā—also; apare—others; eke—some; gopālam—Śrī Gopāla; iti—thus;
evam—in this way; nānā-rūpam—in various forms; dvija-uttama—O best of the brāhmaṇas.
O best of brāhmaṇas, we are worshiping the Lord in various forms. Some of us worship Him
in His feature as Nṛsiṁha, some as Lord Raghunātha, and others as Śrī Gopāla.
Having been initiated into various viṣṇu-mantras, the Vaiṣṇavas were worshiping the Lord in
various expansions, including four-armed Nārāyaṇa and His avatāras Matsya, Kūrma, Varāha,
and Vāmana.
BB 2.1.64
śrī-parīkṣid uvāca
tato ’sau lajjito vipro
’pṛcchat sa-praśrayaṁ mudā
kuto vasati kīdṛk sa
kiṁ vārthaṁ dātum īśvaraḥ
śrī-parīkṣit uvāca—Śrī Parīkṣit said; tataḥ—then; asau—he; lajjitaḥ—ashamed; vipraḥ—the
brāhmaṇa; apṛcchat—asked; sa-praśrayam—with humility; mudā—with pleasure; kutaḥ—
where; vasati—lives; kīdṛk—like what; saḥ—He; kim—what; vā—and; artham—benefit;
dātum—of giving; īśvaraḥ—capable.
Śrī Parīkṣit said: Hearing this made the brāhmaṇa feel ashamed. With great humility but with
joy he asked them, “Where does this Lord live? What is He like? What benefits is He able to
This Lord the devotees called Viṣṇu was unknown to the brāhmaṇa, who was curious whether
the Lord lived in a village, a city, or somewhere else. What god, human, or animal did His
form resemble? What special powers did He have, and what wealth could He give to His
BB 2.1.65
śrī-vaiṣṇavā ūcuḥ
sadā sarvatra vasati
bahiś cāntaś ca sa prabhuḥ
kaścin na sadṛśas tena
kathaṣcid vidyate kvacit
śrī-vaiṣṇavāḥ ūcuḥ—the holy Vaiṣṇavas said; sadā—always; sarvatra—everywhere; vasati—
lives; bahiḥ—outside; ca—and; antaḥ—inside; ca—and; saḥ—He; prabhuḥ—the Lord; kaścit
na—no one; sadṛśaḥ—comparable; tena—with Him; kathaṣcit—in any respect; vidyate—
exists; kvacit—anywhere.
The holy Vaiṣṇavas said: He is the supreme master, and He always lives everywhere, both
within and without. No one anywhere compares to Him in any respect.
In the material world, all things are limited in time, space, and substance. A person in a
particular body, for example, has only a certain life span. Before and after, he is absent from
that body. His bodily existence occupies but a small space within the universe; he may move
from one place to another, but only within strict limits. And his identity is separate from that
of any other person or thing. Lord Viṣṇu, however, is not an ordinary person limited in these
or other ways. He pervades all time and space, and all other individual people and things are
also part of Him. This answers the question “Where does He live?”
In reply to the question “What is He like?” the Vaiṣṇavas say that He is unique and
incomparable. No one’s beauty or other personal qualities are equal to His, neither within this
material world nor outside it.
BB 2.1.66
sarvāntar-ātmā jagad-īśvareśvaro
yaḥ sac-cid-ānanda-ghano mano-ramaḥ
vaikuṇṭha-loke prakaṭaḥ sadā vased
yaḥ sevakebhyaḥ svam api prayacchati
sarva—of all beings; antaḥ-ātmā—the inner self; jagat—of the universe; īśvara-īśvaraḥ—the
Lord of all lords; yaḥ—who; sat-cit-ānanda—of eternity, knowledge, and bliss; ghanaḥ—the
full embodiment; manaḥ-ramaḥ—attracting the mind; vaikuṇṭha-loke—in the world of
Vaikuṇṭha; prakaṭaḥ—visible; sadā—always; vaset—dwells; yaḥ—who; sevakebhyaḥ—to
His servants; svam—Himself; api—even; prayacchati—gives.
He is the Supersoul within the heart of every living being, the Lord of all lords of the
universe, the all-attractive concentrated embodiment of eternity, knowledge, and bliss. He
dwells in the world of Vaikuṇṭha, where He always can be seen. And to His servants He gives
His very self.
Ignorant of the many aspects of the Supreme Lord’s personality, the brāhmaṇa might doubt
how one could devote oneself to a person who has no particular identity or location. Here the
Vaiṣṇavas assure the brāhmaṇa that the Lord does have His own manifold identities and
locations. He is the Supersoul both of the entire universe and of each individual living being.
Thus His greatness manifests itself within and without. He is the ruler of all lords of the many
universes; whatever powers and assets other rulers possess He has also, but in quantity
without limit. He is the Supreme Absolute Truth in person, and His primary location is
Vaikuṇṭha. Even though as the indwelling Supersoul He is hidden, His opulences are fully
visible in His form as the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha, whom His devotees can see to their heart’s
delight. His beauty, charm, and countless other transcendental qualities are all-attractive. And
in answer to the question “What is He capable of giving?” the answer is “His own self.” By
this the Vaiṣṇavas imply that He can easily bestow pure devotion and eternal residence in
Vaikuṇṭha, what to speak of the four goals of material life. As expressed by the prefix pra- in
the verb prayacchati, He liberally gives all this plus Himself, which further implies that He
and His servants share a flood of boundless ecstasy.
BB 2.1.67
kenāsya mahimocyatām
tad atra vācyamānāni
purāṇāni muhuḥ śṛṇu
śruti—by the original revealed scriptures; smṛti—and by their supplements; stūyamānaḥ—
glorified; kena—by whom; asya—His; mahimā—the greatness; ucyatām—can be described;
tat—therefore; atra—here; vācyamānāni—which are being spoken; purāṇāni—the Purāṇas;
muhuḥ—profusely; śṛṇu—please hear.
The śrutis and smṛtis glorify Him. Who can describe His greatness? But while you are here,
please listen to the profuse histories spoken about Him from the Purāṇas.
This holy pilgrimage site Prayāga, the king of tīrthas, is a most suitable place for hearing the
glories of the Supreme Lord from the authoritative histories recorded in the Purāṇas.
BB 2.1.68
mādhavaṁ nama cālokya
pratirūpaṁ jagat-prabhoḥ
tato ’cirād idaṁ sarvaṁ
paraṁ ca jṣāsyasi svayam
mādhavam—to Lord Mādhava; nama—please bow down; ca—and; ālokya—looking at;
pratirūpam—the direct manifestation; jagat-prabhoḥ—of the Lord of the universe; tataḥ—
thus; acirāt—in a short time; idam—this; sarvam—all; param—more; ca—and; jṣāsyasi—you
will understand; svayam—yourself.
Just bow down to Lord Mādhava and behold Him, the direct manifestation of the Lord of the
universe. And soon you will understand for yourself all this and much more.
The Lord of Vaikuṇṭha can be seen directly in His image as Mādhava, the presiding Deity of
Daśāśvamedha-ghāṭa at Prayāga. In the short time the Vaiṣṇavas were speaking to the
Prāgjyotiṣa-pura brāhmaṇa, they could only hint at the glories of Lord Viṣṇu, but if the
brāhmaṇa were to follow their advice by hearing from them the Purāṇas, bowing down to
Lord Mādhava, and meditating on the Deity’s beautiful form, more realization would
automatically be revealed within his heart.
BB 2.1.69
śrī-parīkṣid uvāca
tataḥ śrī-mādhavaṁ vīkṣya
namaṁs tasmin vyacaṣṭa saḥ
sārūpyaṁ sva-jape cintyamāna-devasya kiṣcana
śrī-parīkṣit uvāca—Śrī Parīkṣit said; tataḥ—thus; śrī-mādhavam—at Śrī Mādhava; vīkṣya—
looking; naman—bowing down; tasmin—within Him; vyacaṣṭa—saw; saḥ—he; sārūpyam—
similarity in appearance; sva-jape—in the chanting of his mantra; cintyamāna—being
meditated on; devasya—with the Deity; kiṣcana—some.
Śrī Parīkṣit said: Thus, while looking at Śrī Mādhava and bowing down to Him, the brāhmaṇa
noticed some likeness in appearance between Śrī Mādhava and the Lord on whom he
meditated while chanting his mantra.
Just as the Vaiṣṇavas had predicted, by associating with Lord Mādhava the brāhmaṇa began
to realize transcendental knowledge. He noticed that certain features of the Deity, like the
shape of His mouth and eyes, were similar to the features of the Lord whom he sometimes
envisioned while chanting his mantra.
BB 2.1.70
tatra kiṣcit purāṇaṁ sa
śṛṇoti saha vaiṣṇavaiḥ
tair arcyamānā vividhā
viṣṇu-mūrtīś ca paśyati
tatra—there; kiṣcit—some; purāṇam—Purāṇas; saḥ—he; śṛṇoti—heard; saha vaiṣṇavaiḥ—
along with the Vaiṣṇavas; taiḥ—by them; arcyamānāḥ—worshiped; vividhā—various; viṣṇumūrtīḥ—Deities of Viṣṇu; ca—and; paśyati—saw.
There at Daśāśvamedha-ghāṭa he heard some passages from the Purāṇas in the company of
the Vaiṣṇavas, and he saw various Deities of Viṣṇu they worshiped.
In the presence of Lord Mādhava he listened to discussions on such portions of the Purāṇas as
the Māgha-māhātmya of Śrī Padma Purāṇa (Uttara-khaṇḍa), which praises bathing at Prayāga
in the month of Māgha. By hearing in the company of pure devotees, he became affected by
their strong faith and ecstatic mood.
BB 2.1.71
tathāpi pratyabhijṣeyaṁ
tasya na syād acetasaḥ
mad-devo jagad-īśo ’yaṁ
mādhavo ’pi satāṁ prabhuḥ
tathā api—nonetheless; pratyabhijṣā—recognition; iyam—this; tasya—by him; na syāt—there
was not; acetasaḥ—who was ignorant; mat-devaḥ—my Lord; jagat-īśaḥ—ruler of the
universe; ayam—this; mādhavaḥ—Lord Mādhava; api—also; satām—of the saintly devotees;
prabhuḥ—the master.
Nonetheless he remained ignorant, unable to recognize his own worshipable Deity to be the
same Lord Mādhava, the ruler of the universe and master of the saintly devotees.
Anyone with good discrimination would have been able to deduce from the similarities
between Lord Mādhava and Lord Gopāla that the Deity of the brāhmaṇa’s mantra was the
very same Lord of the universe appearing at Daśāśvamedha-ghāṭa. The brāhmaṇa, however,
was too foolish.
BB 2.1.72
idaṁ sa vimṛśaty eṣām
upāsyo jagad-īśvaraḥ
sa eva mādhavaś cāyaṁ
mayānyaḥ ko ’py upāsyate
idam—this; saḥ—he; vimṛśati—thought; eṣām—of them; upāsyaḥ—the object of worship;
jagat-īśvaraḥ—the Lord of the universe; saḥ—He; eva—only; mādhavaḥ—Mādhava; ca—
and; ayam—this; mayā—by me; anyaḥ—another; kaḥ api—someone; upāsyate—is being
He continued to think that this Mādhava, the Lord of the universe, was the object of worship
for these Vaiṣṇavas, and that his object of worship was someone else.
The brāhmaṇa had enough trust in the words of the Vaiṣṇavas to be convinced that the Deity
of Mādhava was indeed the Supreme Lord, but he hadn’t accepted enough of their mercy to
understand that all along he had been worshiping with his mantra the same Lord.
BB 2.1.73
na mad-devas tataḥ kasmāt
pratīyeta sa mādhavaḥ
śaṅkha—with a conchshell; cakra—disc; gadā—club; padma—and lotus; vibhūṣita—
decorated; catuḥ-bhujaḥ—having four hands; na—not; mat—my; devaḥ—Deity; tataḥ—
therefore; kasmāt—why; pratīyeta—should be perceived; saḥ—He; mādhavaḥ—as Lord
“Lord Mādhava has four arms,” he thought, “and is decorated with a conchshell, disc, club,
and lotus. This is not my Deity. Why should my Lord look like this?
The Paṣcarātras describe the form of Lord Mādhava among the twenty-four vyūha expansions
of Nārāyaṇa. Gadā-śaṅkha-cakra-padmān bibhran mādhava ucyate: “When the Lord is
holding His club, conchshell, disc, and lotus [in that order, clockwise, from His lower right
hand], He is called Mādhava.”
BB 2.1.74
nāyaṁ narārdha-siṁhārdharūpa-dhārī ca mat-prabhuḥ
na vāmano ’py asau mīnakūrma-kolādi-rūpavān
na—not; ayam—this; nara-ardha—of half man; siṁha-ardha—half lion; rūpa-dhārī—taking
the form; ca—and; mat—my; prabhuḥ—Lord; na—nor; vāmanaḥ—a dwarf; api—either;
asau—He; mīna—of a fish; kūrma—a turtle; kola—a boar; ādi—and so on; rūpa-vān—having
the form.
“My Lord doesn’t appear as half man, half lion. He doesn’t become a dwarf or take the forms
of a fish, a turtle, a hog, and the like.
BB 2.1.75
nāpi kodaṇḍa-pāṇiḥ syād
rāghavo rāja-lakṣaṇaḥ
keṣāṣcid eṣāṁ pūjyena
gopālenāstu vā sadṛk
na api—nor; kodaṇḍa—a bow; pāṇiḥ—in whose hand; syāt—is; rāghavaḥ—the Lord of the
Raghus; rāja-lakṣaṇaḥ—marked with the signs of a king; keṣāṣcit—by some; eṣām—of these
persons; pūjyena—who is worshiped; gopālena—with Gopāla; astu vā—He may be; sadṛk—
“Nor does He become the Lord of the Raghus, with the signs of a king and a bow in His hand.
But maybe my Deity does somewhat resemble the Gopāla worshiped by some of these
The brāhmaṇa could not identify the Deity of His mantra with Lord Rāmacandra, who
appeared as a great king with the royal symbols of throne, cāmaras, and white umbrella.
BB 2.1.76
manye ’thāpi madīyo ’yaṁ
na bhavej jagad-īśvaraḥ
nāsti tal-lakṣaṇaṁ māghamāhātmyādau śrutaṁ hi yat
manye—I think; atha api—still; madīyaḥ—my; ayam—this; na bhavet—cannot be; jagatīśvaraḥ—the Lord of the universe; na asti—there are not; tat—of Him; lakṣaṇam—the
characteristics; māgha-māhātmya—in the descriptions of the glories of the month of Māgha;
ādau—and elsewhere; śrutam—heard from scripture; hi—certainly; yat—which.
“Still, I cannot imagine that my Deity is the Lord of the universe. My Deity doesn’t have the
characteristics I have heard described in ‘The Glorification of the Month of Māgha’ and other
scriptural texts.
Lord Mādhava of Prayāga is described in the story of Devadyuti, which is included in the
Māgha-māhātmya of the Padma Purāṇa (Uttara-khaṇḍa 128.202, 129.44):
taṁ dṛṣṭvā garuḍārūḍhaṁ
catur-bāhuṁ viśālākṣaṁ
“He saw the Lord seated on Garuḍa. The Lord’s complexion was the color of a new rain
cloud. He had four arms and broad eyes, and He was decorated with all kinds of ornaments.”
brahmādayaḥ surāḥ sarve
yoginaḥ sanakādayaḥ
tvāṁ sākṣāt-kartum icchanti
siddhāś ca kapilādayaḥ
“All the demigods led by Brahmā, the yogīs led by Sanaka, and the perfected mystics led by
Kapila want to see You in person.”
The current verse says that the brāhmaṇa heard from māgha-māhātmyādau, “the Māghamāhātmya and other texts.” Those other texts may have included the section of Śrī Skanda
Purāṇa that glorifies Prayāga-tīrtha.
BB 2.1.77
gopārbha-vargaiḥ sakhibhir vane sa gā
vaṁśī-mukho rakṣati vanya-bhūṣaṇaḥ
dharmaṁ satāṁ laṅghayatītaro yathā
gopa-arbha—of cowherd boys; vargaiḥ—with groups; sakhibhiḥ—who are His friends;
vane—in the forest; saḥ—He; gāḥ—cows; vaṁśī—a flute; mukhaḥ—at His mouth; rakṣati—
tends; vanya-bhūṣaṇaḥ—decorated with forest ornaments; gopa-aṅganā—of cowherd girls;
varga—with the groups; vilāsa—sports; lampaṭaḥ—greedy to enjoy; dharmam—the religious
principles; satām—of saintly persons; laṅghayati—He transgresses; itaraḥ—an ordinary
person; yathā—like.
“My Lord takes care of the cows in the forest along with His many cowherd friends. He holds
a flute to His mouth and is decorated with forest ornaments. Just like an ordinary person, He
transgresses the religious principles of saints, being always addicted to playful sports with all
the cowherd girls.
Arguing on the strength of the evidence he has gathered about his Gopāla from meditating on
the mantra, the brāhmaṇa here tries to prove that the Deity of his own mantra cannot be the
Lord of the universe. The brāhmaṇa’s worshipable Gopāla is always in the forest with His
friends, busy taking care of His cows. His flute is usually near His mouth because He very
much likes playing on it. He also likes to decorate Himself with forest items like peacock
feathers, garlands of kadamba flowers, red oxide tilaka for His forehead, and rings of guṣja
berries for His ears. Like a wayward materialist, He violates the laws of cultured behavior by
consorting with other men’s wives and behaving in other socially forbidden ways, none of
which suits the character of the Supreme Lord of the universe. Even if in some features the
brāhmaṇa’s Gopāla resembles the Gopāla worshiped by some of the local Vaiṣṇavas—the
Nārāyaṇa expansion called Gopāla—that Gopāla Nārāyaṇa cannot be the same person. Lord
Nārāyaṇa could hardly go wandering in the forest tending cows, nor habitually break the
principles of religion.
BB 2.1.78
devyāḥ prabhāvād ānandam
asyāpy ārādhane labhe
tan na jahyāṁ kadāpy enam
etan-mantra-japaṁ na ca
devyāḥ—of the goddess; prabhāvāt—by the power; ānandam—bliss; asya—His; api—and;
ārādhane—in the worship; labhe—I obtain; tat—therefore; na jahyām—I shall not abandon;
kadā api—ever; enam—Him; etat-mantra—of this mantra; japam—the chanting; na ca—nor.
“By the power of the goddess I have felt bliss in worshiping Him. Therefore I shall never
abandon Him or my chanting of His mantra.”
Vaiṣṇavas may question how one can realize ecstasy in worshiping anyone other than the
Supreme Lord, but the brāhmaṇa counters that it is possible by the potency of the goddess
Kāmākhyā. Since she ordered him to always chant this mantra and since he feels such
pleasure in chanting, why should he give it up?
BB 2.1.79
evaṁ sa pūrva-van mantraṁ
taṁ japan nirjane nijam
devaṁ sākṣād ivekṣeta
satāṁ saṅga-prabhāvataḥ
evam—thus; saḥ—he; pūrva-vat—as before; mantram—mantra; tam—that; japan—chanting;
nirjane—in seclusion; nijam—his own; devam—Lord; sākṣāt—in person; iva—as if; īkṣeta—
he would see; satām—of the saintly Vaiṣṇavas; saṅga—of the association; prabhāvataḥ—by
the power.
Thus the brāhmaṇa continued chanting his mantra in seclusion as before. And by the power of
the saintly company of the Vaiṣṇavas, he would see his Lord, as if directly in person.
Since the ignorant brāhmaṇa lacked the instructions and blessings of a pure devotee spiritual
master, he had not yet developed true knowledge and faith. But still he was reaping the
benefits of sādhu-saṅga in Prayāga. Even without the support of guru and śāstra, he was
making some advancement by associating favorably with Vaiṣṇavas. He kept chanting the
ten-syllable Gopāla mantra, renowned among all mantras as the most excellent, and as his
heart became more and more cleansed he entered into an intense meditation in which he saw
His Lord as vividly as if the Lord were physically present.
BB 2.1.80
vastu-svabhāvād ānandamūrchām āpnoti karhicit
vyutthāya japa-kālāpagamam ālakṣya śocati
vastu—of the object; svabhāvāt—because of the nature; ānanda—from ecstasy; mūrchām—
fainting; āpnoti—he experienced; karhicit—sometimes; vyutthāya—standing up; japa—for
chanting; kāla—of the time; apagamam—the expiration; ālakṣya—noticing; śocati—he would
Because of the nature of the object of his meditation, he sometimes fainted in ecstasy, and
when he woke up and noticed that the time for chanting his mantra had been lost he would
Sometimes the ecstasy of his meditation made all the external functions of his senses stop, as
if he had achieved samādhi. This symptom was but a superficial reflection of the advanced
conditions of bhāva and prema. It arose not from mature understanding of the object of
meditation but from the transcendental influence of the object Himself.
BB 2.1.81
upadravo ’yaṁ ko me ’nujāto vighno mahān kila
na samāpto japo me ’dyatano rātrīyam āgatā
upadravaḥ—disturbance; ayam—this; kaḥ—what; me—for me; anujātaḥ—arisen; vighnaḥ—
obstruction; mahān—great; kila—indeed; na—not; samāptaḥ—finished; japaḥ—chanting;
me—my; adyatanaḥ—for today; rātrī—night; iyam—this; āgatā—come.
“What is the cause of this disturbance? Now I am in great trouble! Night has fallen before I
could finish today’s chanting.
That night had come before he could finish his chanting was an upadrava, or cause of pain, as
well as a vighna, an obstruction to fulfilling his vow to chant a prescribed number of mantras
BB 2.1.82
kiṁ nidrābhibhavo ’yaṁ me
kiṁ bhūtābhibhavo ’tha vā
aho mad-duḥsvabhāvo yac
choka-sthāne ’pi hṛt-sukham
kim—whether; nidrā—by sleep; abhibhavaḥ—being overcome; ayam—this; me—my; kim—
whether; bhūta—by a ghost; abhibhavaḥ—being overcome; atha vā—or; aho—oh; mat—my;
duḥ-svabhāvaḥ—bad nature; yat—which; śoka—of sadness; sthāne—in a situation; api—
even; hṛt—in the heart; sukham—happiness.
“Have I fallen asleep? Or become haunted by a ghost? Oh, I am so wicked that even when I
have reason to be sad I feel happiness in my heart!”
Trying to answer his own question about the cause of the problem, the brāhmaṇa guessed that
he might have fallen asleep. But since he didn’t feel tired, he guessed again that something
else might have happened, like having been attacked by a ghost.
BB 2.1.83
ekadā tu tathaivāsau
śocann akṛta-bhojanaḥ
nidrāṇo mādhavenedaṁ
samādiṣṭaḥ sa-sāntvanam
ekadā—one day; tu—however; tathā eva—in this same way; asau—he; śocan—lamenting;
akṛta-bhojanaḥ—not having eaten; nidrāṇaḥ—sleepy; mādhavena—by Lord Mādhava;
idam—this; samādiṣṭaḥ—instructed; saḥ—he; sāntvanam—consolation.
One day, however, while lamenting in this way, as he began to feel drowsy from fasting he
saw Lord Mādhava, who consoled him and gave him this instruction:
Once again the brāhmaṇa had fallen into a trance of ecstasy and upon waking had become
upset with himself. This time he felt so discouraged that he finished the day without eating,
which made him feel sleepy. Lord Mādhava, the Deity of Daśāśvamedha-tīrtha, then appeared
to him in this sleeplike state and said something like this: “Why are you lamenting for no
good reason? And why are you causing distress to Me, your worshipable Deity? I assure you
that all your ambitions will soon be achieved.”
BB 2.1.84
vipra viśveśvarasyānusmara vākyam umā-pateḥ
tac chrī-vṛndāvanaṁ vraja
vipra—O brāhmaṇa; viśveśvarasya—of Viśveśvara; anusmara—just remember; vākyam—the
words; umā-pateḥ—the husband of Umā; yamunā—of the Yamunā; tīra—along the shore;
mārgeṇa—by the path; tat—to that; śrī-vṛndāvanam—Śrī Vṛndāvana; vraja—go.
“Dear brāhmaṇa, please remember the words of Viśveśvara, the husband of Umā. Go by the
path along the shore of the Yamunā to Śrī Vṛndāvana.
While reminding the brāhmaṇa of Lord Viśveśvara’s instruction, Lord Gopāla repeated it
from His own mouth and in His own words, thus making it His direct order also. Apart from
this, Viśveśvara (Lord Śiva) is the husband of the goddess Kāmākhyā, the spiritual authority
who gave the brāhmaṇa his mantra, so the brāhmaṇa should not neglect the instruction.
BB 2.1.85
tatrāsādhāraṇaṁ harṣaṁ
lapsyase mat-prasādataḥ
vilambaṁ pathi kutrāpi
mā kuruṣva kathaṣcana
tatra—there; asādhāraṇam—extraordinary; harṣam—pleasure; lapsyase—you will obtain;
mat—My; prasādataḥ—by the mercy; vilambam—delay; pathi—on the road; kutra api—
anywhere; mā kuruṣva—do not do; kathaṣcana—for any reason.
“By My mercy, there you will obtain extraordinary pleasure. Go, and don’t delay anywhere
on the road for any reason.”
The pleasure to be had in Śrī Vṛndāvana is incomparable, superior to all four kinds of success
in worldly endeavor—religiosity, economic development, sense gratification, and liberation.
The brāhmaṇa should be undistracted while on the road to Vṛndāvana. He shouldn’t stray
from devotional service onto the side roads of jṣāna and karma. Lord Mādhava here advises
the brāhmaṇa that good fortune will arise by His mercy alone, the Lord’s mercy, not that of
anyone else. But that mercy of Lord Mādhava will appear especially in certain places, at
certain times, and in certain company.
BB 2.1.86
tataḥ sa prātar utthāya
hṛṣṭaḥ san prasthitaḥ kramāt
śrīman-madhu-purīṁ prāptaḥ
snāto viśrānti-tīrthake
tataḥ—thus; saḥ—he; prātaḥ—early in the morning; utthāya—arising; hṛṣṭaḥ—happy; san—
feeling; prasthitaḥ—he set out; kramāt—gradually; śrīmat—blessed; madhu-purīm—at
Mathurā; prāptaḥ—arrived; snātaḥ—bathed; viśrānti-tīrthake—at Viśrānti-tīrtha.
Thus the brāhmaṇa arose early in the morning and happily set out on his journey. Gradually
he came to blessed Madhupurī and bathed at Viśrānti-tīrtha.
Obeying the Lord’s order, the brāhmaṇa at once started for Vṛndāvana. And when he entered
the holy dhāma, he came first to Mathurā City. Following the standard custom of pilgrims, he
first visited the bathing place on the Yamunā known as Viśrānti-tīrtha (Viśrāma-ghāṭa).
BB 2.1.87
gato vṛndāvanaṁ tatra
dhyāyamānaṁ nije jape
taṁ taṁ parikaraṁ prāyo
vīkṣyābhīkṣṇaṁ nananda saḥ
gataḥ—gone; vṛndāvanam—to Vṛndāvana; tatra—there; dhyāyamānam—meditated upon;
nije—his own; jape—in the chanting; tam tam—the various; parikaram—entourage and
paraphernalia; prāyaḥ—the greater part; vīkṣya—seeing; abhīkṣṇam—constantly; nananda—
rejoiced; saḥ—he.
He went on to Vṛndāvana and there felt enlivened at every moment, for while chanting his
mantra he saw in meditation most of the companions and surroundings from Kṛṣṇa’s
He saw Kṛṣṇa’s supremely beautiful cows, cowherds, kadamba trees, and so on, which,
although famous, are beyond the power of unqualified people to describe.
BB 2.1.88
tasmin go-bhūṣite ’paśyan
kam apītas tato bhraman
keśī-tīrthasya pūrvasyāṁ
diśi śuśrāva rodanam
tasmin—in that place; go-bhūṣite—decorated with cows; apaśyan—not seeing; kam api—
anyone; itaḥ tataḥ—here and there; bhraman—wandering; keśī-tīrthasya—of Keśī-tīrtha;
pūrvasyām—eastern; diśi—on the side; śuśrāva—he heard; rodanam—crying.
He wandered here and there in that cow-adorned land, without meeting any people. But at one
place on the eastern side of Keśī-tīrtha, he heard someone crying.
At the holy place where Kṛṣṇa had once killed the horse demon, Keśī, the brāhmaṇa met the
first human being he was to encounter in Vṛndāvana. This sacred place Keśī-tīrtha is
described in the Mathurā-māhātmya of the Varāha Purāṇa (152.30-31):
gaṅgā śata-guṇā proktā
māthure mama maṇḍale
yamunā viśrutā devi
nātra kāryā vicāraṇā
tasyāḥ śata-guṇā proktā
yatra keśī nipātitaḥ
keśyāḥ śata-guṇā proktā
yatra viśramito hariḥ
“One hundred times more sacred than the Gaṅgā, O goddess Earth, is the Yamunā in My own
abode, Mathurā. No one need doubt this. More sacred than Mathurā by a hundred times is the
place on the Yamunā where the Keśī demon fell, and one hundred times more sacred than that
Keśī-tīrtha is the spot nearby where Kṛṣṇa rested after the demon was killed.”
BB 2.1.89
tad-dig-bhāgaṁ gataḥ premṇā
nāma-saṅkīrtanair yutam
tad ākarṇya muhus tatra
taṁ manuṣyam amārgayat
tat—in that; dik-bhāgam—direction; gataḥ—going; premṇā—in pure love; nāmasaṅkīrtanaiḥ—with the sounds of nāma-saṅkīrtana; yutam—joined; tat—that; ākarṇya—
amārgayat—he looked.
Heading in the direction of that sound, he heard it mingled with constant nāma-saṅkīrtana
performed in pure love. And so he looked for the person chanting.
From a distance he recognized only the sound of crying, but as he approached he heard the
names of the Supreme Lord being sweetly chanted with great affection, with syllables drawn
out long and melodious, by someone whose heart seemed completely softened by love of
God. He became intent upon finding the person chanting.
BB 2.1.90
so ’paśyan kaṣcid unmukhaḥ
nirdhārya tad-dhvani-sthānaṁ
yamunā-tīram avrajat
ghana—dense; andhakāra—with darkness; araṇya—a forest; antaḥ—within; saḥ—he;
apaśyan—not seeing; kaṣcit—anyone; unmukhaḥ—eagerly turning toward; nirdhārya—
noticing; tat—of that; dhvani—sound; sthānam—the place; yamunā-tīram—to the bank of the
Yamunā; avrajat—he went.
He entered a dense, dark forest where he couldn’t see anyone. But he discerned the place from
which the sound came, and he eagerly went there, to the bank of the Yamunā.
So thick was the forest that the leaves of the trees left no space for the light of the sun to
enter. The brāhmaṇa saw no one but could still hear the sound of nāma-saṅkīrtana, which
drew him further on.
BB 2.1.91
tatra nīpa-nikuṣjāntar
kiśoraṁ su-kumārāṅgaṁ
sundaraṁ tam udaikṣata
tatra—there; nīpa—of kadamba trees; nikuṣja-antaḥ—in a grove; gopa—of a cowherd; veśa—
whose dress; paricchadam—and paraphernalia; kiśoram—a young man; su-kumāra—very
tender; aṅgam—whose body; sundaram—handsome; tam—him; udaikṣata—he saw.
There, in a grove of kadamba trees, he found a handsome young man whose body was very
tender, with the dress and accouterments of a cowherd.
The person the brāhmaṇa discovered was dressed like a cowherd boy, with a flute, buffalo
horn, and herding stick and with a peacock feather on his head. Every part of his body
appeared auspicious.
BB 2.1.92
gopāleti mahā-mudā
samāhvayan praṇāmāya
papāta bhuvi daṇḍa-vat
nija—for his own; iṣṭa-devatā—worshipable Deity; bhrāntyā—because of mistaking;
gopāla—O Gopāla!; iti—thus; mahā-mudā—with great joy; samāhvayan—calling out;
praṇāmāya—for offering respects; papāta—he fell; bhuvi—to the ground; daṇḍa-vat—like a
Mistaking this person for his worshipable Deity, the brāhmaṇa joyfully called out “O
Gopāla!” and fell to the ground like a rod to offer respects.
Because the cowherd sitting before the brāhmaṇa was dressed and ornamented just like
Madana-gopāla, the brāhmaṇa thought that this was the Deity in person. The brāhmaṇa
wanted to offer a fitting salutation, so he at once fell flat on the ground and with spontaneous
enthusiasm sweetly called out, “O Gopāla!” The offering of these three syllables go-pā-la was
his way of properly honoring the Lord.
BB 2.1.93-94
TEXTS 93–94
tato jāta-bahir-dṛṣṭiḥ
sa sarva-jṣa-śiromaṇiḥ
jṣātvā taṁ māthuraṁ vipraṁ
śrīman-madana-gopālopāsakaṁ ca samāgatam
niḥsṛtya kuṣjād utthāpya
natvāliṅgya nyaveśayat
tataḥ—then; jāta—appearing; bahiḥ-dṛṣṭiḥ—his external consciousness; saḥ—he; sarva-jṣa—
of knowers of everything; śiraḥ-maṇiḥ—the crest jewel; jṣātvā—knowing; tam—him;
māthuram—of Mathurā; vipram—a brāhmaṇa; kāmākhyā-deśa—in the land of the goddess
Kāmākhyā; vāsinam—a resident; śrīmat-madana-gopāla—of Śrīmān Madana-gopāla;
upāsakam—a worshiper; ca—and; samāgatam—arrived; niḥsṛtya—coming out; kuṣjāt—from
the grove; utthāpya—standing up to show respect; natvā—bowing down; āliṅgya—embracing
him; nyaveśayat—he made the brāhmaṇa sit down.
This young man was the crest jewel of those who know everything. As he regained external
consciousness, he recognized his visitor as a Mathurā brāhmaṇa living in the district of the
goddess Kāmākhyā and worshiping Śrīmān Madana-gopāla. The young cowherd stood up and
came out of the grove, bowed down to the brāhmaṇa and embraced him, and made him sit
The cowherd knew without being told that his guest was a brāhmaṇa who had traveled to
Vṛndāvana from a long distance. More specifically he knew that his visitor was the child of a
brāhmaṇa family of Mathurā who had moved to the Kāmarūpā district in Assam to worship
the presiding goddess Kāmākhyā. Furthermore, the young cowherd knew that this brāhmaṇa
was now worshiping the lotus feet of Śrīmān Madana-gopāla and had come for some special
purpose of the Lord’s. Actually, Śrī Rādhā-devī had ordered the cowherd to go to the grove
that morning. So he bowed down to his guest, raised him from the ground, embraced him, and
invited him to sit down.
BB 2.1.95
athātithyena santoṣya
viśvāsotpādanāya saḥ
kiṣcit tenānubhūtaṁ yad
vyaṣjayām āsa sa-smitam
atha—then; ātithyena—with hospitality; santoṣya—satisfying him; viśvāsa—his confidence;
utpādanāya—for generating; saḥ—he; kiṣcit—something; tena—by him; anubhūtam—
experienced; yat—which; vyaṣjayām āsa—revealed; sa-smitam—with a smile.
To further gain the brāhmaṇa’s confidence, the cowherd pleased him with hospitality and then
smiled and revealed something about the brāhmaṇa’s life.
The young cowherd, Gopa-kumāra, greeted his brāhmaṇa guest in a manner befitting the time
and place and then briefly recounted what had happened in the brāhmaṇa’s life, beginning
with his worship of the goddess Kāmākhyā and leading up to his coming to this place on the
shore of the Yamunā. The cowherd expertly revealed things hidden in the brāhmaṇa’s heart
that no one else could have known. Why did he do this? He wanted to win the brāhmaṇa’s
trust so that the brāhmaṇa would believe what he was about to be told. Otherwise, the
brāhmaṇa might be skeptical about Gopa-kumāra’s fantastic story.
BB 2.1.96
buddhvā gopa-kumāraṁ taṁ
labdhvevātma-priyaṁ mudā
viśvasto ’kathayat tasmin
sva-vṛttaṁ brāhmaṇo ’khilam
buddhvā—recognizing; gopa-kumāram—a young cowherd boy; tam—him; labdhvā—
accepting; iva—as if; ātma-priyam—a dear friend; mudā—happily; viśvastaḥ—trusting;
akathayat—he recounted; tasmin—to him (the cowherd); sva-vṛttam—his own story;
brāhmaṇaḥ—the brāhmaṇa; akhilam—entire.
The brāhmaṇa now understood that this was a young cowherd boy and accepted him as if the
boy were a dear friend. Happily trusting him, the brāhmaṇa then recounted his own entire life
When the brāhmaṇa understood that this was not his worshipable Lord but a cowherd with all
good qualities, the brāhmaṇa relaxed.
BB 2.1.97
sa-kārpaṇyam idaṁ cāsau
praśritaḥ punar abravīt
taṁ sarva-jṣa-varaṁ matvā
sat-tamaṁ gopa-nandanam
sa-kārpaṇyam—with humility; idam—the following; ca—and; asau—he (the brāhmaṇa);
praśritaḥ—submissive; punaḥ—further; abravīt—said; tam—to him (the cowherd); sarvajṣa—of knowers of everything; varam—the best; matvā—considering him; sat-tamam—the
most saintly; gopa-nandanam—young child of the cowherds.
Then with great humility, considering this young child of the cowherds the best of wise men
and a great saint, the brāhmaṇa submissively added an inquiry.
BB 2.1.98
śrī-brāhmaṇa uvāca
śrutvā bahu-vidhaṁ sādhyaṁ
sādhanaṁ ca tatas tataḥ
prāpyaṁ kṛtyaṁ ca nirṇetuṁ
na kiṣcic chakyate mayā
śrī-brāhmaṇaḥ uvāca—the brāhmaṇa said; śrutvā—having heard; bahu-vidham—of various
kinds; sādhyam—goals; sādhanam—methods of achievement; ca—and; tataḥ tataḥ—from
various sources; prāpyam—what is to be attained; kṛtyam—what is to be done; ca—and;
nirṇetum—to determine; na—not; kiṣcit—anything; śakyate—can be done; mayā—by me.
The brāhmaṇa said: From various sources I have heard of various goals and various methods
to achieve them, but still I cannot definitely decide what goal I should strive for and what I
should do to reach it.
On the bank of the Gaṅgā, at Kāśī and elsewhere, the brāhmaṇa had heard various kinds of
spiritual advice. He had heard in one place that heaven is the ultimate goal of life, and in
another that liberation from the cycle of birth and death is the goal. And as for means of
success he had heard claims that karma was the means, or jṣāna, or other methods. No wonder
he was confused.
BB 2.1.99
yac ca devy-ājṣayā kiṣcid
anutiṣṭhāmi nityaśaḥ
tasyāpi kiṁ phalaṁ tac ca
katamat karma vedmi na
yat—what; ca—and; devī—of the goddess; ājṣayā—by the order; kiṣcit—something;
anutiṣṭhāmi—I perform; nityaśaḥ—regularly; tasya—of that; api—even; kim—what;
phalam—result; tat—that; ca—and; katamat—of which kind; karma—activity; vedmi na—I
do not know.
Whatever the goddess ordered me, I regularly do. But I have no idea about the results of those
duties, or even what kind of acts they are.
If the brāhmaṇa did not know what the goal of his endeavor was and how he might achieve it,
why was he continuing to chant his mantra? He was doing so because he had respect for the
order of the goddess Kāmākhyā. The little she had asked him to do, namely chant this mantra,
was not much compared to the complex duties of householders and sannyāsīs that he had
learned about from others. He continued chanting out of reverence for the goddess, not
because he understood the essence of what he was doing. He was even unaware whether this
chanting belonged to the category of ritual duties, cultivation of knowledge, or devotional
service. Therefore, he thought, since his practice was not based on definite knowledge and
faith, it had no real value for his spiritual advancement.
BB 2.1.100
TEXT 100
tenedaṁ viphalaṁ janma
manvānaḥ kāmaye mṛtim
paraṁ jīvāmi kṛpayā
śivayor mādhavasya ca
tena—therefore; idam—this; viphalam—fruitless; janma—life; manvānaḥ—considering;
kāmaye—I long for; mṛtim—death; param—only; jīvāmi—I live; kṛpayā—by the mercy;
śivayoḥ—of Lord Śiva and his wife; mādhavasya—of Lord Mādhava; ca—and.
I therefore think my life worthless, and I simply want to die. I continue to live only by the
mercy of Lord Mādhava, and Lord Śiva and his wife.
It was at Prayāga that the brāhmaṇa had reached this point of crisis in his spiritual life. There
also, however, he had received the grace of Lord Viṣṇu in the form of Śrī Mādhava and of
Lord Viśveśvara and his wife Kāmākhyā-devī, who had all appeared in dreams to give him
BB 2.1.101
TEXT 101
tayaivātrādya sarva-jṣaṁ
dayāluṁ tvāṁ sva-deva-vat
prāpya hṛṣṭaḥ prasanno ’smi
kṛpaṇaṁ māṁ samuddhara
tayā—by that (mercy); eva—only; atra—here; adya—today; sarva-jṣam—all-knowing;
dayālum—compassionate; tvām—you; sva-deva-vat—just like my worshipable Deity;
prāpya—obtaining; hṛṣṭaḥ—happy; prasannaḥ—satisfied; asmi—I am; kṛpaṇam—wretched;
mām—me; samuddhara—please deliver.
Only by their mercy have I met you here today, a compassionate and all-knowing person. You
are just like my worshipable Deity, and I am very happy and satisfied to meet you. Now
please deliver this wretched soul.
At Prayāga the brāhmaṇa received the mercy of Śrī Mādhava, Viśveśvara, and Kāmākhyādevī, but only in Vṛndāvana could he understand the inestimable value of that mercy. Now he
is confident that Gopa-kumāra is as good as Lord Madana-gopāla; in other words, Gopakumāra’s transcendental instructions can easily lift him out of the ocean of his doubts and out
of the vast ocean of material existence.
BB 2.1.102
TEXT 102
śrī-parīkṣid uvāca
niśamya sādaraṁ tasya
vacanaṁ sa vyacintayat
etasya kṛta-kṛtyasya
jātā pūrṇārthatā kilav
śrī-parīkṣit uvāca—Śrī Parīkṣit said; niśamya—hearing; sa-ādaram—with respect; tasya—his;
vacanam—words; saḥ—he; vyacintayat—thought; etasya—of this person; kṛta-kṛtyasya—
who has done everything he needs to do; jātā—has arisen; pūrṇa-arthatā—complete success in
life; kila—indeed.
Śrī Parīkṣit said: Respectfully having heard the brāhmaṇa’s words, the young cowherd
thought, “This person has done everything he needs to do. Indeed, his life is a complete
The word ādara is usually understood to mean “respect,” but it can also mean “affection.”
With respect for the brāhmaṇa’s status as a Mathurā brāhmaṇa and with special affinity for
him as a fellow worshiper of Śrī Madana-gopāla, Gopa-kumāra heard him out. Texts 102
through 108 describe Gopa-kumāra’s thoughtful concern for the brāhmaṇa.
BB 2.1.103
TEXT 103
kevalaṁ tat-padāmbhojasākṣād-īkṣāvaśiṣyate
taj-jape ’rhati nāsaktiṁ
kintu tan-nāma-kīrtane
kevalam—only; tat—His; pada-ambhoja—of the lotus feet; sākṣāt—directly; īkṣā—seeing;
avaśiṣyate—remains; tat—His; jape—in the quiet chanting of the mantra; arhati—he requires;
na—not; āsaktim—attachment; kintu—rather; tat—His; nāma-kīrtane—in the nāmasaṅkīrtana.
“All that remains for him to achieve is to see directly the lotus feet of the Lord. He needs to
become attached not so much to the solitary chanting of the Lord’s mantra but to the
saṅkīrtana of His names.
When received by Paṣcarātric initiation in a Vaiṣṇava sampradāya, viṣṇu-mantras deliver the
chanter from illusion and provide him liberation and entrance into the divine life of devotional
service. But the highest standard of pure love of God is obtainable not by the pāṣcarātrikavidhi but by the bhāgavata-vidhi of nāma-saṅkīrtana, worship of Kṛṣṇa’s names without
material motives. The Prāgjyotiṣa-pura brāhmaṇa had been chanting the ten-syllable Gopāla
mantra for some time with good effect, but only after he heard the śuddha-nāma from Gopakumāra was he able to chant the same names of Lord Gopāla in the perfect consciousness of
saṅkīrtana. Offenseless saṅkīrtana with concentrated attention naturally develops into
spontaneous attraction to Kṛṣṇa and His loving service.
BB 2.1.104-105
TEXTS 104-105
śrīman-madana-gopālapādābjopāsanāt param
sampādyamānān nitarāṁ
kiṣcin nāsty eva sādhanam
śrīmat-madana-gopāla—of Śrīmān Madana-gopāla; pāda-abja—of the lotus feet; upāsanāt—
than the worship; param—higher; nāma-saṅkīrtana-prāyāt—consisting primarily of nāmasaṅkīrtana; vāṣchā-atīta—beyond expectations; phala—fruits; pradāt—which bestows; tat—
His; līlā—of the pastimes; sthala-pālīnām—of the many places; śraddhā—with faith;
sandarśana—seeing; ādaraiḥ—with respect; sampādyamānāt—being accomplished; nitarām—
fully; kiṣcit—any; na asti—there is not; eva—at all; sādhanam—method of practice.
“Certainly no means of perfection is superior to the worship of Śrīmān Madana-gopāla’s lotus
feet. That worship yields results far beyond what one could expect. It should be performed
mainly through nāma-saṅkīrtana, along with reverence and affection for the many places of
Śrī Gopāla’s pastimes, places one should regularly visit.
How then had the brāhmaṇa already made so much spiritual advancement? He had done so by
worshiping Śrī Kṛṣṇa, although irregularly. He had been worshiping without the complete
faith and understanding that come only from the special mercy of Kṛṣṇa’s pure devotees. But
any contact with Kṛṣṇa, the supreme goal of all existence, assures absolute perfection, and so
also does any contact with His names, for hearing and chanting of His names is the supreme
method for attaining kṛṣṇa-prema. Even offensive chanting of Kṛṣṇa’s names, if continued
long enough, will free one from disqualifications, and even nāmābhāsa, offenseless chanting
without real attachment, will quickly lead to liberation and the rise of transcendental
attachment and taste.
Thus for spiritual upliftment there is no better practice than worship of the divine lotus feet of
Lord Madana-gopāla. In this verse the Lord’s feet are described as śrīmān, indicating that they
fully possess all types of wealth and splendor. They have the potency to satisfy all the
heartfelt desires of a devotee and to delight him in ways unanticipated by his conscious, and
even subconscious, desires. The principal activity of this worship is saṅkīrtana, chanting out
loud in melodious song the Lord’s names, like Kṛṣṇa, Govinda and Gopāla.
Śrī Parīkṣit further suggests that the effects of hari-nāma-saṅkīrtana are enhanced by visiting
the sacred places in Vraja-bhūmi where Kṛṣṇa enjoyed pastimes with His gopas and gopīs. As
much as other obligations in devotional service allow, Vaiṣṇavas should wander about these
places and see them with their own eyes. If they do this with love and respect, their nāmabhajana will soon bear fruit.
BB 2.1.106
TEXT 106
saṣjāta-premakāc cāsmāc
anyat sādhyaṁ na kiṣcana
saṣjāta—manifest; premakāt—in which there is pure love; ca—and; asmāt—than that; catuḥvarga—the four goals of life; viḍambakāt—which ridicules; tat—His; pāda-abja—the lotus
feet; vaśī-kārāt—which brings under control; anyat—other; sādhyam—goal; na kiṣcana—
none at all.
“There is no other final goal than that in which pure love of God appears, mocking the four
lesser aims of life and bringing the Lord’s lotus feet under one’s control.
In comparison to kṛṣṇa-prema, the four goals religiosity, economic development, sense
gratification, and liberation appear insignificant. Only prema-bhakti can bring the Personality
of Godhead under control: śrī-kṛṣṇākarṣiṇī ca sā. (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.1.17)
BB 2.1.107
TEXT 107
iti bodhayituṁ cāsya
sva-vṛttam eva nikhilaṁ
nūnaṁ prāk pratipādaye
iti—thus; bodhayitum—to bring him to the realization; ca—and; asya—his; sarva—all;
saṁśaya—doubts; nodanam—which will dispel; sva—my own; vṛttam—history; eva—
indeed; nikhilam—complete; nūnam—certainly; prāk—first; pratipādaye—I should present.
“To bring him to this realization, first I must tell him my own history in full. That will clear
away all his doubts.
The brāhmaṇa needs to be informed that Kṛṣṇa is the goal of his endeavors and that nāmasaṅkīrtana is the means to achieve Kṛṣṇa. But if Gopa-kumāra were to say this from the start,
the brāhmaṇa, his mind ruled by doubts and misconceptions, might not grasp the full import
of the advice. Therefore, to win the brāhmaṇa’s trust, Gopa-kumāra first needs to describe his
own experiences, beginning from when he also received the same gopāla-mantra and
continuing up to the present moment. That will drive away the brāhmaṇa’s doubts and wrong
ideas. It will also allow the brāhmaṇa to drink the nectar of śrī-bhagavat-kathā, which will
render his heart pure enough to assimilate the transcendental knowledge he requires. In fact,
that knowledge should then manifest itself automatically, even without needing to be
explicitly stated.
BB 2.1.108
TEXT 108
svayam eva sva-māhātmyaṁ
kathyate yan na tat satām
sammataṁ syāt tathāpy asya
nānyākhyānād dhitaṁ bhavet
svayam—by oneself; eva—indeed; sva—of oneself; māhātmyam—the glorification;
kathyate—is spoken; yat—when; na—not; tat—that; satām—by saintly persons; sammatam—
approved; syāt—generally is; tathā api—nevertheless; asya—his; na—not; anya—of
something else; ākhyānāt—by the narration; hitam—benefit; bhavet—will come about.
“Describing one’s own glories is disapproved by spiritual authorities. But nothing else I could
tell will bring about his good fortune.”
As the saying goes, sva-praśaṁsā dhruvo mṛtyuḥ: “Self-praise is as good as death.” All the
same, Gopa-kumāra understands that nothing but his own story will dispel the brāhmaṇa’s
doubts and give him tattva-jṣāna. Because Gopa-kumāra used his mystic power to describe
the brāhmaṇa’s past, the brāhmaṇa is already inclined to believe him. So Gopa-kumāra should
not hesitate to tell his own story and thereby make the brāhmaṇa fortunate, since his own
story is very similar to that of the brāhmaṇa and will drive away all his doubts. Śrī Rādhā’s
order will then be quickly carried out, and what would ordinarily have been a breach of
etiquette will be perfectly acceptable behavior.
BB 2.1.109
TEXT 109
evaṁ viniścitya mahānubhāvo
gopātmajo ’sāv avadhāpya vipram
ātmānubhūtaṁ gadituṁ pravṛttaḥ
paurāṇiko yadvad ṛṣiḥ purāṇam
evam—thus; viniścitya—making up his mind; mahā-anubhāvaḥ—the great, thoughtful
devotee; gopa-ātma-jaḥ—son of the cowherds; asau—he; avadhāpya—calling the attention;
vipram—of the brāhmaṇa; ātma—by himself; anubhūtam—what was experienced; gaditum—
to speak of; pravṛttaḥ—began; paurāṇikaḥ—of the Purāṇas; yadvat—as; ṛṣiḥ—a sage;
purāṇam—a Purāṇa.
Thus the saintly son of the cowherds made up his mind. He asked the brāhmaṇa for his
attention and began to speak about his own life, just as a sage versed in the Purāṇas would
speak an epic.
Gopa-kumāra spoke with great authority; although he was just a young herdsman, anyone
listening to him would think he was an ancient speaker of the Purāṇas like Romaharṣaṇa Sūta
or his son Ugraśravā, or a seer of Vedic mantras like the ṛṣi Vāmadeva. His narration was as
authoritative as the Purāṇas and fully in accord with all śāstras.
The sage Devala has defined the characteristics of a ṛṣi:
ūrdhva-retās tapasy ugro
niyatāśī ca saṁyamī
śāpānugrahayoḥ śaktaḥ
satya-sandho bhaved ṛṣiḥ
“A ṛṣi is one whose semen flows upward, who is fierce in observing austere vows, who eats
moderately, controls his senses, is able to curse and bless, and adheres firmly to the truth.”
BB 2.1.110
TEXT 110
śrī-gopa-kumāra uvāca
atretihāsā bahavo
vidyante ’thāpi kathyate
sva-vṛttam evānusmṛtya
mohādāv api saṅgatam
śrī-gopa-kumāraḥ uvāca—Śrī Gopa-kumāra said; atra—here; itihāsāḥ—historical accounts;
bahavaḥ—many; vidyante—there are; atha api—nonetheless; kathyate—is going to be told;
sva-vṛttam—my own story; eva—only; anusmṛtya—recollecting; moha—during fits of
ecstasy; ādau—and so on; api—also; saṅgatam—what occurred.
Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: There are many historical accounts relevant to this topic, but I am
going to tell you my own story, including recollections of what occurred at times when I was
bewildered by ecstasy and other distractions.
There are many ancient historical accounts about what certain people did and said to one
another that may be useful in explaining how to determine the best goal of life and the means
to achieve it. These accounts are called Itihāsas:
itihāsaṁ pracakṣate
“A text that consists of narrations of past events and includes instructions about religiosity,
economic development, sense gratification, and liberation is called an Itihāsa.”
Gopa-kumāra’s plan, however, is to tell his own history instead. Of all forms of evidence for
establishing the truth, experience from one’s own life is the strongest. Thus when Gopakumāra frankly reveals the events of his life, the brāhmaṇa should be persuaded of the higher
truth that Gopa-kumāra has grasped.
On occasions Gopa-kumāra was unaware of what was going on around him because the
overflowing of his love for the Supreme Lord disturbed his external perception. Even so, by
virtue of his advanced self-realization he can now recollect even the details of events of which
he was unconscious when they occurred. Many of these personal events are also too
confidential to discuss freely in public, and Gopa-kumāra may be somewhat embarrassed to
mention them. He feels obliged, however, to do everything he can to help enlighten the
brāhmaṇa. As Gopa-kumāra will tell the brāhmaṇa in the last chapter of this book:
paśya yac cātmanas tasya
tadīyānām api dhruvam
vṛttaṁ parama-gopyaṁ tat
sarvaṁ te kathitaṁ mayā
“Just see. I have told you everything that happened to me, and everything done by the Lord
and His devotees, even that which is extremely confidential..” (Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta 2.7.4)
BB 2.1.111
TEXT 111
gopāla-vṛtter vaiśyasya
putro ’ham īdṛśo bālaḥ
purā gāś cārayan nijāḥ
gopāla—as a cowherd; vṛtteḥ—who made his living; vaiśyasya—of a vaiśya; govardhananivāsinaḥ—a resident of Govardhana; putraḥ—a son; aham—I; īdṛśaḥ—such; bālaḥ—a young
boy; purā—in the past; gāḥ—cows; cārayan—tending; nijāḥ—my own.
I am a son of a vaiśya of Govardhana who made his living as a cowherd. As a young boy of
that community, I used to tend my own cows.
BB 2.1.112
TEXT 112
tasmin govardhane kṛṣṇātīre vṛndāvane ’tra ca
māthure maṇḍale bālaiḥ
samaṁ vipra-vara sthitaḥ
tasmin—at that place; govardhane—Govardhana; kṛṣṇā—of the Yamunā; tīre—on the banks;
vṛndāvane—in the forest of Vṛndāvana; atra—here; ca—and; māthure maṇḍale—in the
Mathurā district; bālaiḥ—with boys; samam—together; vipra-vara—O best of brāhmaṇas;
O best of learned brāhmaṇas, I stayed in the company of other boys there at Govardhana, here
in Vṛndāvana, on the banks of the Yamunā, and at various other places in the district of
Now Gopa-kumāra begins his story, which will continue till the end of the sixth chapter. He
was born in a vaiśya community, in a family of cowherds. Many scriptures, including ŚrīmadBhāgavatam (10.24.21), describe that vaiśyas may engage in four occupations: trade, banking,
farming, and cow protection (kṛṣi-vāṇijya-go-rakṣā kusīdaṁ ca).
As this history unfolds, we shall find that although a long time has passed since Gopa-kumāra
was an innocent boy at Govardhana, he has not aged at all. As he explains later, this was due
to a blessing given him by his spiritual master:
tvam etasya prabhāveṇa
cira-jīvī bhavānv-aham
īdṛg-gopārbha-rūpaś ca
“By the potency of this mantra, may you live a long time, may you always have the form of a
cowherd boy, and may you develop the right mentality for tasting the mantra’s fruit.” (Bṛhadbhāgavatāmṛta 2.1.191)
Gopa-kumāra’s tending a herd of his own cows means that his family was relatively well-todo and independent. In the course of doing this work, he wandered over the area within the
twenty-yojana circumference of Mathurā-maṇḍala. Among the places he used for cow
herding, his special favorites were Govardhana, the forest of Vṛndāvana, and the shores of the
Yamunā. Sometimes he went to other locations in the dhāma, like Mahāvana, but according to
one transcendental opinion Vraja-bhūmi consists of nothing but Govardhana, Vṛndāvana, and
the Yamunā, since these three places pervade the entire dhāma. In any case, there is no place
outside Vraja-dhāma where a cowherd can get real benefit from his occupation.
Gopa-kumāra addresses his new student by saying “O best of learned brāhmaṇas” because the
student hails from the brāhmaṇa community of Mathurā.
BB 2.1.113
TEXT 113
vana-madhye ca paśyāmo
nityam ekaṁ dvijottamam
divya-mūrtiṁ virakty-āḍhyaṁ
paryaṭantam itas tataḥ
vana—of the forest; madhye—in the mist; ca—and; paśyāmaḥ—we would see; nityam—
regularly; ekam—one; dvija-uttamam—first-class brāhmaṇa; divya—divine; mūrtim—whose
bodily appearance; virakti—with renunciation; āḍhyam—endowed; paryaṭantam—wandering;
itaḥ tataḥ—here and there.
In the forest we regularly saw a certain first-class brāhmaṇa, wandering from place to place.
He was very renounced, and his body appeared like that of a god.
This person the boys frequently saw was in truth the best of brāhmaṇas. His body was golden
and very beautiful.
BB 2.1.114
TEXT 114
kīrtayantaṁ muhuḥ kṛṣṇaṁ
japa-dhyāna-rataṁ kvacit
nṛtyantaṁ kvāpi gāyantaṁ
kvāpi hāsa-paraṁ kvacit
kīrtayantam—chanting the glories; muhuḥ—always; kṛṣṇam—of Kṛṣṇa; japa—in chanting his
mantra; dhyāna—and meditation; ratam—absorbed; kvacit—sometimes; nṛtyantam—
dancing; kva api—sometimes; gāyantam—singing; kva api—sometimes; hāsa—to laughter;
param—giving his attention; kvacit—sometimes.
He was always chanting the glories of Kṛṣṇa. Sometimes he sang and sometimes danced.
Sometimes, absorbed in meditation, he chanted his mantra to himself, and sometimes he gave
himself to laughter.
The outstanding characteristic of this brāhmaṇa was that he always vibrated Kṛṣṇa’s glories,
either with the two-syllable name Kṛṣṇa or with other names of the Personality of Godhead.
He would sing these names sweetly in various ways. He sometimes appeared withdrawn into
his private japa and dhyāna, which he dutifully performed daily even though he was already
perfect in chanting the Lord’s holy names. As the tantras prescribe, even a person who has
perfected the chanting of his mantra should continue to perform regular worship through japa
and dhyāna to show gratitude to his spiritual benefactors:
siddha-mantro ’pi pūtātmā
tri-sandhyaṁ devam arcayet
niyamenaika-sandhyaṁ vā
japed aṣṭottaraṁ śatam
“Even if one has perfected his mantra and is completely pure in heart, he should still worship
the Lord at the three junctures of the day by the method prescribed. Or at least at one of these
three times he should do this worship, and 108 times he should chant japa of his mantra.”
When the brāhmaṇa seemed withdrawn, intent on his prescribed chanting and meditation, in
fact his outward senses were inactive not because he was controlling them out of duty but
because ecstatic love was swelling up within him.
BB 2.1.115
TEXT 115
vikrośantaṁ kvacid bhūmau
skhalantaṁ kvāpi matta-vat
luṭhantaṁ bhuvi kutrāpi
rudantaṁ kvacid uccakaiḥ
vikrośantam—shouting; kvacit—sometimes;
bhūmau—on the
stumbling; kva api—sometimes; matta-vat—like a madman; luṭhantam—rolling; bhuvi—on
the ground; kutra api—in some places; rudantam—sobbing; kvacit—sometimes; uccakaiḥ—
Sometimes he shouted, or loudly sobbed, or stumbled and fell to the ground, or rolled about
on the ground like a madman.
BB 2.1.116
TEXT 116
visaṁjṣaṁ patitaṁ kvāpi
paṅkayantaṁ gavāṁ vartmarajāṁsi mṛta-vat kvacit
visaṁjṣam—unconscious; patitam—fallen down; kva api—sometimes; śleṣma—of his
mucus; lāla—saliva; aśru—and tears; dhārayā—with the flood; paṅkayantam—turning into
mud; gavām—of the cows; vartma—on the path; rajāṁsi—the dust; mṛta-vat—like a corpse;
Sometimes he fell unconscious and lay still like a corpse, the flood of his mucus, saliva, and
tears turning the dust on the cow path into mud.
Because the brāhmaṇa was practicing such intense chanting of the Lord’s names, he would
sometimes feel joy so immense that he would lose outward consciousness. Sometimes he
would collapse without wetting the ground as described here, and then he would appear to
have died.
BB 2.1.117
TEXT 117
kautukena vayaṁ bālā
yāmo ’muṁ vīkṣituṁ sadā
sa tu gopa-kumārān no
labdhvā namati bhaktitaḥ
kautukena—curiously; vayam—we; bālāḥ—boys; yāmaḥ—would come; amum—at him;
vīkṣitum—to look; sadā—always; saḥ—he; tu—but; gopa-kumārān—young cowherd boys;
naḥ—us; labdhvā—obtaining; namati—would bow down; bhaktitaḥ—with devotion.
Out of curiosity we cowherd boys would often come look at him. But when he saw us in front
of him he would bow down to us with devotion.
He apparently had great respect for the boys, despite their having no special respect for him.
BB 2.1.118
TEXT 118
gāḍham āśliṣyati premṇā
sarvāṅgeṣu sa-cumbanam
parityaktuṁ na śaknoti
mādṛśān priya-bandhu-vat
gāḍham—deeply; āśliṣyati—he would embrace; premṇā—with love; sarva—on all; aṅgeṣu—
limbs; sa-cumbanam—with kissing; parityaktum—to give up; na śaknoti—he was not able;
mādṛśān—the likes of us; priya-bandhu-vat—as if his best friends.
He would heartily embrace us and affectionately cover us with kisses, as if we were his best
friends. He was unable to give up our company.
Immersed in kṛṣṇa-prema, this brāhmaṇa was attracted to these village boys because they
resembled young Kṛṣṇa and His cowherd friends. Priya-bandhu has several meanings: “best
friends,” “close relatives,” “most dear devotees of the Lord,” and “the Supreme Lord, who is
dear to His devotees.”
BB 2.1.119
TEXT 119
mayā go-rasa-dānādisevayāsau prasāditaḥ
ekadā yamunā-tīre
prāpyāliṅgya jagāda mām
mayā—by me; go-rasa—of milk products; dāna—with gifts; ādi—and so on; sevayā—by the
service; asau—he; prasāditaḥ—pleased; ekadā—one day; yamunā-tīre—on the shore of the
Yamunā; prāpya—meeting; āliṅgya—embracing; jagāda—he said; mām—to me.
He was pleased with my services like giving gifts of milk products. One day, meeting me on
the shore of the Yamunā, he embraced me and spoke in this way:
Gopa-kumāra gave his new friend presents of milk, yogurt, and other milk products and
would also carry his water pot and follow him around. This kind of voluntary service pleased
the great soul, who became disposed to give the boy his mercy.
BB 2.1.120
TEXT 120
vatsa tvaṁ sakalābhīṣṭasiddhim icchasi ced imam
prasādaṁ jagad-īśasya
snātvā keśyāṁ gṛhāṇa mat
vatsa—dear child; tvam—you; sakala—all; abhīṣṭa—of desires; siddhim—the fulfillment;
icchasi—you want; cet—if; imam—this; prasādam—mercy; jagat-īśasya—of the Lord of the
universe; snātvā—taking a bath; keśyām—at Keśī-ghāṭa; gṛhāṇa—please take it; mat—from
“My dear child, if you want to fulfill all your desires, please bathe at Keśī-ghāṭa and then
accept from Me this mercy of the Lord of the universe.”
Normally we consider the mercy of the Supreme Lord something intangible, but the saintly
brāhmaṇa called it “this mercy” as if it were a tangible object in front of them. He told Gopakumāra “Just take it from me” as if literally placing it in his hands.
BB 2.1.121
TEXT 121
evam etaṁ bhavan-mantraṁ
snātāyopadideśa me
pūrṇa-kāmo ’napekṣyo ’pi
sa dayālu-śiromaṇiḥ
evam—thus; etam—this; bhavat-mantram—your mantra; snātāya—who had bathed;
upadideśa—he imparted; me—to me; pūrṇa-kāmaḥ—fully satisfied in himself; anapekṣyaḥ—
indifferent; api—although; saḥ—he; dayālu—of compassionate persons; śiraḥ-maṇiḥ—the
crest jewel.
Thus, after I bathed, he imparted to me the same mantra you are chanting. Although he was
fully satisfied in himself and indifferent to material things, he was the crest jewel of all
compassionate souls.
Since Gopa-kumāra and his student have been initiated into the same mantra, their
relationship should become very friendly.
When Gopa-kumāra got his mantra he should not have thought that this was his guru’s way of
reciprocating the gifts of buttermilk and yogurt. His guru, being fully self-satisfied, did not
need the service. Only out of infinite compassion for the fallen souls did the guru show Gopakumāra his mercy.
BB 2.1.122
TEXT 122
pūjā-vidhiṁ śikṣayituṁ
dhyeyam uccārayan jape
premākulo gato mohaṁ
rudan virahiṇīva saḥ
pūjā—of worshiping; vidhim—the method; śikṣayitum—to instruct; dhyeyam—the object of
meditation; uccārayan—uttering; jape—in the chanting; prema—in pure love; ākulaḥ—
agitated; gataḥ moham—he became bewildered; rudan—crying; virahiṇī—a woman separated
from her lover; iva—as if; saḥ—he.
He was about to explain the method of worshiping with the mantra, but as soon as he
mentioned the object of meditation he was overcome by pure love of God, became confused,
and started crying like a woman separated from her lover.
Gopa-kumāra’s guru had the instructions for properly using the mantra just on the tip of his
tongue. He was about to tell Gopa-kumāra how to mark the body with the syllables of the
mantra, how to meditate systematically on the meaning of the mantra, and all the other details
for reciting the mantra in worship. But as soon as he started to describe the beautiful form of
Śrīmān Madana-gopāla a sudden ecstasy caught hold of him, and, crying like a lovesick
woman remembering her distant beloved, he lost his train of thought.
BB 2.1.123
TEXT 123
saṁjṣāṁ prāpto ’tha kiṣcin na
praṣṭuṁ śakto mayā bhiyā
utthāya vimanasko ’gāt
kvāpi prāptaḥ punar na saḥ
saṁjṣām—normal consciousness; prāptaḥ—obtaining; atha—then; kiṣcit—anything; na—not;
praṣṭum—to ask; śaktaḥ—was possible; mayā—by me; bhiyā—out of fear; utthāya—standing
up; vimanaskaḥ—distressed; agāt—he went; kva api—somewhere; prāptaḥ—found; punaḥ—
again; na—not; saḥ—he.
When he regained normal consciousness I was afraid to ask him anything. He stood up and
went away, distressed. And after that he was nowhere to be found.
Having just received initiation, Gopa-kumāra felt deep reverence for his spiritual master, and
without first being spoken to he dared not say anything. He feared he might have done
something offensive to upset his guru and thought that if he said anything wrong his guru
might start crying again. Why didn’t the saintly brāhmaṇa give the missing instructions
unasked? In his ecstatic mood he was unhappy and distracted, so he went away saying
nothing more. And because he had no fixed residence he was not to be found again.
BB 2.1.124
TEXT 124
mayā tu kim idaṁ labdhaṁ
kim asya phalam eva vā
mantraḥ kathaṁ sādhanīya
iti jṣātaṁ na kiṣcana
mayā—by me; tu—but; kim—what; idam—this; labdham—received; kim—what; asya—of
it; phalam—the fruit; eva—even; vā—or; mantraḥ—the mantra; katham—how; sādhanīyaḥ—
to be perfected; iti—thus; jṣātam—known; na—not; kiṣcana—at all.
I had no idea what this mantra was that I had received, what fruit its chanting would bear, or
even how the mantra was to be practiced.
Gopa-kumāra did not even know the name of this ten-syllable mantra. Was the mantra meant
to be sung out loud? Or chanted quietly? Or was it a mantra at all? If it was powerful, when
chanted perfectly what fruit would it bear? His guru had told him that the mantra would fulfill
all his desires, but that was vague. Until now Gopa-kumāra had never thought seriously about
his ultimate desires and goals.
BB 2.1.125
TEXT 125
mantraṁ taṁ kevalaṁ mukhe
kenāpy alakṣito ’jasraṁ
japeyaṁ kautukād iva
tat—his; vākya—for the words; gauraveṇa—out of respect; eva—only; mantram—the mantra;
tam—it; kevalam—only; mukhe—in my mouth; kena api—by anyone; alakṣitaḥ—not seen;
ajasram—constantly; japeyam—I would chant; kautukāt—out of curiosity; iva—as if.
Simply out of respect for the brāhmaṇa’s words, I constantly murmured this mantra in
secluded places, unseen by others. I chanted it just out of curiosity.
Gopa-kumāra, aware of his ignorance of the true nature of the mantra, was embarrassed to
chant it in public. But it certainly fascinated him.
BB 2.1.126
TEXT 126
prabhāvāt tādṛśena ca
japena citta-śuddhir me
tatra śraddhāpy ajāyata
tat—of that; mahā-puruṣasya—great person; eva—only; prabhāvāt—by the influence;
tādṛśena—by such; ca—even; japena—chanting; citta—of the mind; śuddhiḥ—purification;
me—my; tatra—in it; śraddhā—faith; api—also; ajāyata—developed.
By the influence of that great person, even such aimless chanting purified my mind, and I
developed faith in the mantra.
Without scientific knowledge of its practice and significance, the young sādhaka Gopakumāra could hardly have solid faith in the mantra. He was not firmly convinced of its
efficacy, nor was he affectionately attracted to it. Nonetheless, his naive chanting purified his
mind of lust, envy, and greed.
BB 2.1.127
TEXT 127
tad-vākyaṁ cānusandhāya
taṁ mantraṁ manyamāno ’haṁ
tuṣyan japa-paro ’bhavam
tat—his; vākyam—words; ca—and; anusandhāya—contemplating; jagat-īśvara—the Lord of
manyamānaḥ—considering; aham—I; tuṣyan—feeling satisfied; japa—in chanting the
mantra; paraḥ—absorbed; abhavam—I became.
Contemplating my guru’s words, I understood the mantra to be the means for achieving the
Lord of the universe. Thus I became satisfied and absorbed in chanting.
Gopa-kumāra’s guru had told him, “Accept the Supreme Lord’s mercy.” Remembering this,
Gopa-kumāra concluded that the mantra was meant for obtaining the favor of the Supreme
Lord. This was a satisfying reason to take enthusiastically to the chanting.
BB 2.1.128
TEXT 128
kīdṛśo jagad-īśo ’sau
kadā vā dṛśyatāṁ mayā
tad-eka-lālaso hitvā
gṛhādīn jāhnavīm agām
kīdṛśaḥ—like what; jagat-īśaḥ—Lord of the universe; asau—this; kadā—when; vā—and;
dṛśyatām—He might be seen; mayā—by me; tat—that; eka—only; lālasaḥ—my aspiration;
hitvā—abandoning; gṛha-ādīn—home and so on; jāhnavīm—to the Gaṅgā; agām—I went.
I became eager to know who this Lord of the universe was and when I might be able to see
Him. With this as my only aspiration I abandoned my home and other attachments and went
to the bank of the Gaṅgā.
Wanting to identify the Lord of the universe, Gopa-kumāra compared Him to familiar people
and things. But he could find no clue in the place where he had been brought up, so he left
home to wander in search of the Lord.
BB 2.1.129
TEXT 129
dūrāc chaṅkha-dhvaniṁ śrutvā
tat-padaṁ pulinaṁ gataḥ
vipraṁ vīkṣyānamaṁ tatra
dūrāt—from a distance; śaṅkha—of a conchshell; dhvanim—the sound; śrutvā—hearing;
tat—of that; padam—to the location; pulinam—a bank of the river; gataḥ—I went; vipram—a
brāhmaṇa; vīkṣya—seeing; anamam—I bowed down; tatra—there; śālagrāma-śilā—the
Śālagrāma-śilā; arcakam—who was worshiping.
Hearing the distant sound of a conchshell being blown, I followed that sound to its origin on a
sandy bank of the river. There I saw a learned brāhmaṇa worshiping a Śālagrāma-śilā, and I
bowed down.
BB 2.1.130
TEXT 130
kiṁ imaṁ yajasi svāminn
iti pṛṣṭo mayā hasan
so ’vadat kiṁ na jānāsi
bālāyaṁ jagad-īśvaraḥ
kim—what; imam—this; yajasi—you are worshiping; svāmin—O master; iti—thus; pṛṣṭaḥ—
asked; mayā—by me; hasan—laughing; saḥ—he; avadat—said; kim—whether; na jānāsi—
you do not know; bāla—dear boy; ayam—this; jagat-īśvaraḥ—the Lord of the universe.
I asked him, “Master, what are you worshiping?” Laughing, he replied, “Dear boy, don’t you
know that this is the Lord of the universe?”
The worshiper was surprised that anyone, even a child, would be ignorant that Śrī Śālagrāma
is a direct incarnation of the Lord of the universe.
BB 2.1.131
TEXT 131
tac chrutvāhaṁ su-samprāpto
nidhiṁ labdhveva nirdhanaḥ
naṣṭaṁ vā bāndhavo bandhuṁ
paramāṁ mudam āptavān
tat—that; śrutvā—hearing; aham—I; su-samprāptaḥ—welcoming; nidhim—a treasure;
labdhvā—obtaining; iva—like; nirdhanaḥ—a poor man; naṣṭam—lost; vā—or; bāndhavaḥ—a
family member; bandhum—his relative; paramām—supreme; mudam—happiness; āptavān—
I obtained.
Hearing this I felt unlimited happiness, like a poor man finding a welcome treasure, or a
family man reuniting with a long-lost relative.
BB 2.1.132
TEXT 132
jagad-īśaṁ muhuḥ paśyan
daṇḍa-vac chraddhayānamam
pādodakaṁ sa-nirmālyaṁ
viprasya kṛpayāpnuvam
jagat-īśam—at the Lord of the universe; muhuḥ—for a long time; paśyan—looking; daṇḍavat—like a rod; śraddhayā—with faith; anamam—I bowed down; pāda—from His feet;
udakam—the water; sa-nirmālyam—along with remnants of His food; viprasya—of the
brāhmaṇa; kṛpayā—by the mercy; āpnuvam—I obtained.
I gazed for a long time at the Lord of the universe and with faith bowed down to Him, my
whole body flat on the ground like a rod. By the brāhmaṇa’s mercy I received some water that
had washed the Lord’s feet, and some remnants of offerings to Him.
With newborn faith and affection for the Lord in His Śālagrāma form, Gopa-kumāra happily
accepted the Lord’s caraṇāmṛta, along with remnants of tulasī leaves and other items earlier
offered to the Lord.
BB 2.1.133
TEXT 133
udyatena gṛhaṁ gantuṁ
karaṇḍe tena śāyitam
jagad-īśaṁ vilokyārto
vyalapaṁ sāsram īdṛśam
udyatena—who was preparing; gṛham—to his home; gantum—to go; karaṇḍe—in a box;
tena—by him; śāyitam—laid to rest; jagat-īśam—the Lord of the universe; vilokya—seeing;
ārtaḥ—mentally pained; vyalapam—I complained; sa-asram—tearfully; īdṛśam—like this.
Then the brāhmaṇa, preparing to return home, lay the Lord of the universe to rest in a box.
Pained to see this, I tearfully complained in this way:
BB 2.1.134
TEXT 134
hā hā dhṛtaḥ karaṇḍāntar
asthāne parameśvaraḥ
kim apy asau na cābhuṅkta
nidrā tu kṣudhayā katham
hā hā—alas, alas; dhṛtaḥ—put; karaṇḍa-antaḥ—inside a box; asthāne—in an unsuitable place;
parama-īśvaraḥ—the Supreme Lord; kim api—even though; asau—He; na—not; ca—and;
abhuṅkta—has eaten; nidrā—sleep; tu—but; kṣudhayā—because of hunger; katham—how.
“My God, you are putting the Supreme Lord into a box—such an unfit place! And He hasn’t
even eaten! How will He sleep if He is hungry?”
Gopa-kumāra thought the little box an ill-chosen place for the Lord of the universe. Told that
being placed in such a box is what is done with the Deity after worship to Him is finished,
Gopa-kumāra replied that he had not seen the brāhmaṇa make an offering of food substantial
enough to satisfy the Lord’s appetite and that the Lord should not be forced to sleep without
first being fed.
BB 2.1.135
TEXT 135
prakṛtyaiva na jānāmi
asmād vilakṣaṇaḥ kaścit
kvāpy asti jagad-īśvaraḥ
prakṛtyā—by my conditioned nature; eva—indeed; na jānāmi—I did not understand;
māthura—from Mathurā; brāhmaṇa-uttama—O first-class brāhmaṇa; asmāt—from this
(world); vilakṣaṇaḥ—different; kaścit—someone; kva api—somewhere; asti—there is; jagatīśvaraḥ—the Lord of the universe.
O excellent brāhmaṇa from Mathurā, because of my material conditioning I was unaware that
the Lord of the universe is different from everyone and everything in this world.
Gopa-kumāra was ignorant of the Supreme Person’s transcendental nature. The Lord can
enjoy Himself everywhere simultaneously by expanding into an infinite number of forms.
There is no reason to worry that He will go hungry because of one devotee’s neglect. He may
seem to be a small stone trapped in a box, but in fact the Lord is unlimited.
BB 2.1.136
TEXT 136
ity akṛtrima-santāpaṁ
vilāpāturam abravīt
brāhmaṇaḥ sāntayitvā māṁ
hrīṇa-vad vinayānvitaḥ
iti—thus; akṛtrima—not artificial; santāpam—whose suffering; vilāpa—by lamentation;
āturam—who was agitated; abravīt—said; brāhmaṇaḥ—the brāhmaṇa; sāntayitvā—consoling;
mām—me; hrīṇa-vat—shyly; vinaya-anvitaḥ—full of humility.
As I complained and suffered in my uncontrived lamentation, the brāhmaṇa tried to console
me. Full of humility, he shyly spoke.
The saintly brāhmaṇa was ashamed of being too poor to feed even a human guest, what to
speak of the Supreme Lord. And in fact the place where he had now performed his worship
simply had no facilities for cooking. But the humility the brāhmaṇa felt was not caused by any
external circumstance; it was a natural ecstasy of his individual type of love of God.
BB 2.1.137
TEXT 137
nava-vaiṣṇava kiṁ kartuṁ
daridraḥ śaknuyāṁ param
arpayāmi sva-bhogyaṁ hi
jagad-īśāya kevalam
nava-vaiṣṇava—O new Vaiṣṇava; kim—what; kartum—to do; daridraḥ—a poor man;
śaknuyām—I can; param—more; arpayāmi—I offer; sva-bhogyam—the meals prepared for
myself; hi—indeed; jagat-īśāya—to the Lord of the universe; kevalam—only.
“O new Vaiṣṇava,” he said, “what more can this poor man do? I can offer to the Lord of the
universe only the meals I prepare for myself.
The brāhmaṇa who lived near the Gaṅgā thought, “If this cowherd boy has never seen a
brāhmaṇa like me worshiping Śālagrāma-śilā, he must be new to spiritual life.”
BB 2.1.138-139
TEXTS 138-139
yadi pūjotsavaṁ tasya
vaibhavaṁ ca didṛkṣase
mahā-sādhoḥ purīṁ yāhi
vartamānam adūrataḥ
tatra sākṣāt samīkṣasva
durdarśaṁ jagad-īśvaram
yadi—if; pūjā—of worship; utsavam—a great festival; tasya—His; vaibhavam—opulence;
ca—and; didṛkṣase—you are eager to see; tadā—then; etat—this; deśa-rājasya—of the ruler
of the country; viṣṇu-pūjā—to the worship of Lord Viṣṇu; anurāgiṇaḥ—who has loving
attraction; mahā-sādhoḥ—very saintly; purīm—to the capital city; yāhi—go; vartamānam—
present; adūrataḥ—not far away; tatra—there; sākṣāt—directly; samīkṣasva—just see;
durdarśam—very difficult to see; jagat-īśvaram—the Lord of the universe.
“If you are eager to see the Lord’s opulence and a great festival of His worship, please go to
the capital city of this country’s very saintly ruler. He is attached to the worship of Lord
Viṣṇu in great love. You will find his city not far away, and there you can behold the Lord of
the universe, who is so difficult to see.
The king of this district on the shore of the Gaṅgā was a sincere Vaiṣṇava, which made him a
greater saint than any karmī, jṣānī, or ordinary yogī. He worshiped the Deity of Lord Viṣṇu
with festive opulence. If Gopa-kumāra liked, he could go to the capital and see for himself
this king’s wonderful worship. He could see the Lord’s beauty, the rich offerings made to the
Lord, and His luxurious sleeping quarters. The opulences of the king’s Deity were much more
readily visible than those of the poor brāhmaṇa’s Śālagrāma-śilā.
BB 2.1.140
TEXT 140
hṛt-pūrakaṁ mahānandaṁ
idānīm etya mad-gehe
bhuṅkṣva viṣṇu-niveditam
hṛt—your heart; pūrakam—which will fill; mahā-ānandam—great ecstasy; sarvathā—in all
respects; anubhaviṣyasi—you will experience; idānīm—now; etya—coming; mat—my;
gehe—in the house; bhuṅkṣva—please eat; viṣṇu-niveditam—the remnants of food offered to
Lord Viṣṇu.
“You will feel great ecstasy, fulfilling all your heart’s desires. But for now please come have
lunch in my house from the remnants of what has been offered to Lord Viṣṇu.”
Gopa-kumāra will certainly feel bliss if he witnesses the opulence of the Viṣṇu Deity in the
royal city, hears the songs and prayers recited for the pleasure of the Lord, and tastes the
remnants of food offered to the Lord. The brāhmaṇa admits that devotees who have pure love
for the Lord prefer to see Him worshiped with suitable opulence, opulence that he, a poor
man, cannot provide for his own Deity. Gopa-kumāra should therefore at once go to the
capital, but before he goes he should have lunch at the brāhmaṇa’s house, where he can taste
what little rice and other items have been offered this morning to the brāhmaṇa’s Śālagrāma
BB 2.1.141
TEXT 141
tad-vācānandito ’gatvā
kṣudhito ’pi tad-ālayam
taṁ praṇamya tad-uddiṣṭavartmanā tāṁ purīm agām
tat—his; vācā—by the words; ānanditaḥ—delighted; agatvā—not going; kṣudhitaḥ—hungry;
api—although; tat—his; ālayam—to the house; tam—to him; praṇamya—bowing down; tat—
by him; uddiṣṭa—indicated; vartmanā—along the road; tām—to that; purīm—city; agām—I
Delighted by the brāhmaṇa’s words, I offered him my obeisances and without stopping at his
house (even though hungry), I set off for the capital by the road he pointed out.
Gopa-kumāra repeatedly prostrated himself before the brāhmaṇa with great devotion. He did
this partly to beg pardon for declining the brāhmaṇa’s invitation and partly to beg blessings
for an auspicious journey.
BB 2.1.142
TEXT 142
antaḥ-pure deva-kule
apūrvaṁ tumulaṁ dūrāc
chrutvāpṛccham amuṁ janān
antaḥ-pure—inside the inner city; deva-kule—in a temple; jagat-īśa—of the Lord of the
universe; arcana—of the worship of the Lord; dhvanim—the sound; apūrvam—
unprecedented; tumulam—a tumult; dūrāt—from a distance; śrutvā—hearing; apṛccham—I
asked; amum—about this; janān—from some people.
Within the inner precincts of the city, from a distance I heard the sound of temple worship of
the Lord of the universe. I had never heard such a tumult, so I asked about it from people
The noise Gopa-kumāra heard came from the Lord’s ārati ceremony in the royal temple,
where many devotees were chanting and playing musical instruments. The sound impressed
Gopa-kumāra as very wonderful.
BB 2.1.143
TEXT 143
vijṣāya tatra jagad-īśvaram īkṣituṁ taṁ
kenāpy avārita-gatiḥ sa-javaṁ praviśya
śrīmac-catur-bhujam apaśyam ahaṁ samakṣam
vijṣāya—being informed; tatra—there; jagat-īśvaram—the Lord of the universe; īkṣitum—to
see; tam—Him; kena api—by anyone; avārita—not stopped; gatiḥ—my movement; sajavam—quickly; praviśya—entering; śaṅkha—with conchshell; ari—disc; paṅkaja—lotus;
gadā—and club; vilasat—resplendent; kara-abjam—whose lotus hands; śrīmat—beautiful;
catuḥ-bhujam—with four arms; apaśyam—saw; aham—I; samakṣam—in front of me.
Learning that the Lord of the universe was being worshiped, I wanted to see Him. As I
approached, no one stopped me, so I quickly entered the temple, where in front of me I beheld
the beautiful four-armed form of the Lord, His hands resplendent with a conchshell, disc,
lotus, and club.
The guards at the door of the temple neither questioned Gopa-kumāra nor blocked his
entrance, so he eagerly ran inside. There he saw the Deity of Viṣṇu, whose beauty and
opulence more than fulfilled the brāhmaṇa’s predictions, and Gopa-kumāra’s own
expectations. The four arms of the Lord resembled the bodies of mighty serpents.
BB 2.1.144
TEXT 144
sarvāṅga-sundarataraṁ nava-megha-kāntiṁ
kauśeya-pīta-vasanaṁ vana-mālayāḍhyam
sauvarṇa-bhūṣaṇam avarṇya-kiśora-mūrtiṁ
pūrṇendu-vaktram amṛta-smitam abja-netram
sarva—all; aṅga—with His limbs; sundara-taram—most beautiful; nava—new; megha—of a
rain cloud; kāntim—whose complexion; kauśeya—of silk; pīta—yellow; vasanam—whose
garment; vana-mālayā—with a flower garland; āḍhyam—richly adorned; sauvarṇa—of gold;
bhūṣaṇam—with ornaments; avarṇya—indescribable; kiśora—youthful; mūrtim—whose
personal form; pūrṇa—full; indu—like the moon; vaktram—whose face; amṛta—nectarean;
smitam—whose smile; abja—resembling lotuses; netram—whose eyes.
All the parts of His body were exquisitely attractive, and His complexion resembled a new
rain cloud. Words can hardly describe his youthful body, dressed in yellow silk, ornamented
with gold, and garlanded with forest flowers that increased His beauty. His face, with its
sweet nectarean smile and lotuslike eyes, appeared like the full moon.
Beginning from His eyes and mouth, every part of Lord Viṣṇu’s body was enchanting. Gopakumāra could only compare His beauty to that of the most beautiful things he knew—a rain
cloud, the moon, and lotus flowers.
BB 2.1.145
TEXT 145
nṛtyādikaṁ ca purato ’nubhavantam ārāt
tiṣṭhantam āsana-vare su-paricchadaugham
sampūjita—who were worshiping; vividha—various; durlabha—rare; vastu-vargaiḥ—with
things; sevā—to His service; anuṣakta—who were fondly attached; paricāraka-vṛnda—by
many servants; juṣṭam—joined; nṛtya-ādikam—dancing and so on; ca—and; purataḥ—before
Him; anubhavantam—perceiving; ārāt—from some distance; tiṣṭhantam—standing; āsana—
on a seat; vare—excellent; su-paricchada—of excellent paraphernalia; ogham—having a great
While many attendants, fondly attached to serving Him, worshiped Him with various rare
items, He stood on an excellent throne and from a distance watched the dancing and other
entertainment presented before Him. Every sort of wonderful paraphernalia was being
engaged for His pleasure.
As the most precious items to be found were presented to the Lord, one after another, His
personal attendants waved cāmara fans intently and offered Him betel nut and other
refreshments. In the midst of all this, He stood on His throne instead of coming forward to
meet the crowd and acknowledged the entertainment going on further away by watching with
unblinking eyes.
BB 2.1.146
TEXT 146
paramānanda-pūrṇo ’haṁ
praṇaman daṇḍa-van muhuḥ
vyacintayam idaṁ svasyāpaśyam adya didṛkṣitam
parama-ānanda—with supreme bliss; pūrṇaḥ—filled; aham—I; praṇaman—bowing down;
daṇḍa-vat—like a rod; muhuḥ—repeatedly; vyacintayam—I thought; idam—this; svasya—
my; apaśyam—I have seen; adya—today; didṛkṣitam—what I always wanted to see.
Filled with supreme bliss, I repeatedly fell flat on the ground. “Today,” I thought, “I have
seen what I always wanted to see.
BB 2.1.147
TEXT 147
samprāpto janma-sāphalyaṁ
na gamiṣyāmy ataḥ kvacit
vaiṣṇavānāṁ ca kṛpayā
tatraiva nyavasaṁ sukham
gamiṣyāmi—I shall not go; ataḥ—from here; kvacit—ever; vaiṣṇavānām—of the Vaiṣṇavas;
ca—and; kṛpayā—by the mercy; tatra—there; eva—only; nyavasam—I resided; sukham—
“Now my life is a success. I shall never go away from this place.” And so, by the mercy of the
Vaiṣṇavas, I began to live there happily.
Gopa-kumāra had left his family and friends to wander in search of his worshipable Lord and
now had found Him. Although as a penniless beggar from a foreign country Gopa-kumāra
could hardly expect to be allowed to stay in the neighborhood of the royal palace and dine on
the remnants of the king’s Deity, the local Vaiṣṇavas were kind to him. They brought him
mahā-prasāda and did everything possible to encourage and protect him.
BB 2.1.148
TEXT 148
bhuṣjāno viṣṇu-naivedyaṁ
paśyan pūjā-mahotsavam
śṛṇvan pūjādi-māhātmyaṁ
yatnān mantraṁ raho japan
bhuṣjānaḥ—eating; viṣṇu-naivedyam—remnants of food offered to Viṣṇu; paśyan—seeing;
pūjā—of His worship; mahā-utsavam—the great festivals; śṛṇvan—hearing; pūjā-ādi—of His
worship and so on; māhātmyam—glories; yatnāt—carefully; mantram—my mantra; rahaḥ—
in private; japan—chanting.
I would eat remnants of food offered to Lord Viṣṇu, witness the great festivals of His
worship, and hear the glories of His worship and more, all the while carefully chanting my
mantra in private.
While residing with the Vaiṣṇavas who served the Deity of Lord Viṣṇu, Gopa-kumāra heard
from them the glories of worship of Viṣṇu, as described in various Purāṇas and other
scriptures. He heard that worshiping Viṣṇu is the highest activity for human beings, and he
heard specific instructions about various aspects of His worship. He also heard about the
glories of Lord Viṣṇu’s prasāda:
ṣaḍbhir māsopavāsais tu
yat phalaṁ parikīrtitam
viṣṇor naivedya-sikthānnaṁ
bhuṣjatāṁ tat kalau yuge
“All the benefits ascribed to the vow of fasting for six months are gained in Kali-yuga by
those who eat food mixed with the remnants of Lord Viṣṇu.”
From all these instructions, however, Gopa-kumāra did not receive a complete, systematic
spiritual education. No one told him, for example, about such basic matters as the existence of
higher planets, like the Svarga of Lord Indra. The Vaiṣṇavas were unaware that Gopa-kumāra,
despite his saintly qualities, had never had any training. Thus he remained naive about the
complexities of the material world.
BB 2.1.149
TEXT 149
asyās tu vraja-bhūmeḥ śrīr
gopa-krīḍā-sukhaṁ ca tat
kadācid api me brahman
hṛdayān nāpasarpati
asyāḥ—of this; tu—but; vraja-bhūmeḥ—Vraja-bhūmi; śrīḥ—the beauty; gopa—as a cowherd;
krīḍā—of playing; sukham—the happiness; ca—and; tat—that; kadācit eva—ever; me—my;
brahman—O brāhmaṇa; hṛdayāt—from the heart; na apasarpati—would not go away.
Yet my heart, O brāhmaṇa, never forgot the beauty of this Vraja-bhūmi and the joy of playing
here as a cowherd.
Gopa-kumāra’s indelible recollections of Vraja-dhāma, far from being just sentimental, were
a sign that by chanting his mantra he was reaping transcendental results. The public opulence
of Lord Viṣṇu’s worship did not attract him more than the simple happiness of wandering
about the fields of Vraja. While sleeping or awake, he could not forget Vraja. Even while he
took part in Lord Viṣṇu’s festivals, thoughts of Vraja-bhūmi lingered in his mind.
BB 2.1.150
TEXT 150
evaṁ dināni katicit
sānandaṁ tatra tiṣṭhataḥ
tādṛk-pūjā-vidhāne me
paramā lālasājani
evam—in this way; dināni—days; katicit—some; sa-ānandam—blissfully; tatra—there;
tiṣṭhataḥ—who remained; tādṛk—such; pūjā—of worship; vidhāne—in the method; me—my;
paramā—great; lālasā—eagerness; ajani—was born.
Remaining thus for some days in that place, I developed great eagerness to engage in that
method of worship.
Gopa-kumāra was eager to reciprocate in a personal way with the Lord of the universe, and
the opulent worship in Viṣṇu’s temple seemed such a way.
BB 2.1.151
TEXT 151
athāputraḥ sa rājā māṁ
vaideśikam api priyāt
su-śīlaṁ vīkṣya putratve
parikalpyācirān mṛtaḥ
atha—then; aputraḥ—sonless; saḥ—he; rājā—the king; mām—me; vaideśikam—a foreigner;
api—although; priyāt—out of affection; su-śīlam—of good character; vīkṣya—seeing;
putratve—as his son; parikalpya—adopting; acirāt—soon; mṛtaḥ—died.
The king of that country was sonless. And despite my being a foreigner, he noted my good
character, and he developed affection for me. But soon after finally adopting me as his son, he
BB 2.1.152
TEXT 152
mayā ca labdhvā tad-rājyaṁ
viṣṇu-pūjā mudādhikā
pravartitā tad-annaiś ca
bhojyante sādhavo ’nv-aham
mayā—by me; ca—and; labdhvā—being obtained; tat—his; rājyam—kingdom; viṣṇu-pūjā—
the worship of Viṣṇu; mudā—with delight; adhikā—more; pravartitā—promoted; tat—from
that; annaiḥ—with the food; ca—and; bhojyante—were fed; sādhavaḥ—saintly persons; anuaham—daily.
After inheriting his kingdom, I arranged even more elaborately the joyful worship of Lord
Viṣṇu. Every day, saintly persons were fed with remnants of food from this worship.
Simple soul that he was, Gopa-kumāra accepted his material elevation as a chance to increase
his devotional service. As king he saw to it that Lord Viṣṇu’s worship was improved and that
the Lord’s mercy was distributed as widely as possible.
BB 2.1.153
TEXT 153
svayaṁ ca kvacid āsaktim
akṛtvā pūrva-vad vasan
japaṁ nirvāhayan bhuṣje
prasādānnaṁ prabhoḥ param
svayam—myself; ca—and; kvacit—at any time; āsaktim—attachment; akṛtvā—not forming;
pūrva-vat—as before; vasan—living; japam—the quiet chanting of my mantra; nirvāhayan—
carrying out; bhuṣje—I ate; prasāda-annam—the remnants of food; prabhoḥ—of the Lord;
And always unattached to royal opulence, I continued living just as before. I quietly chanted
my mantra and ate only remnants of food left by the Lord as His mercy.
Gopa-kumāra’s mantra protected him from being corrupted by royal power. Thus he was
undistracted by sovereignty and wealth. Retaining his unassuming simplicity, he went on
chanting his mantra, satisfied with the gratification that his senses enjoyed from honoring
Lord Viṣṇu’s prasāda.
BB 2.1.154
TEXT 154
rājṣo ’sya parivārebhyaḥ
prādāṁ rājyaṁ vibhajya tat
tathāpi rājya-sambandhād
duḥkhaṁ me bahudhodbhavet
rājṣaḥ—of the king; asya—his; parivārebhyaḥ—to the family members and servants;
prādām—I gave; rājyam—the responsibilities of the kingdom; vibhajya—dividing; tat—it;
tathā api—nonetheless; rājya—with the kingdom; sambandhāt—because of my connection;
duḥkham—unhappiness; me—my; bahudhā—in various ways; udbhavet—would arise.
I divided the affairs of the kingdom and handed them over to the relatives and entourage of
the deceased king. But still I suffered in various ways due to my connection with the
To avoid being blamed for neglecting the kingdom while absorbed in private meditation,
Gopa-kumāra delegated the practical affairs of ruling to the previous king’s friends, ministers,
in-laws, and immediate family. He gave them the authority to make day-to-day decisions.
Nonetheless, various anxieties connected with the kingdom continued to be thrust upon him,
and so a crisis gradually arose. Discriminating Vaiṣṇavas may be better off uninvolved in the
management of kingdoms.
BB 2.1.155
TEXT 155
kadāpi para-rāṣṭrād bhīḥ
kadācic cakravartinaḥ
kadā api—sometimes; para—other; rāṣṭrāt—from kingdoms; bhīḥ—fear; kadācit—
sometimes; cakravartinaḥ—from the emperor; vividha—of various kinds; ādeśa—of
commands; sandoha—the abundance; pālanena—because of having to obey; asvatantratā—
lack of freedom.
Sometimes I feared neighboring kingdoms, and at other times the emperor. Having to obey
his various and abundant commands stifled my freedom.
Every king has enemies, including the unhappy citizens of his own state as well as the rulers
of rival kingdoms. If he is the vassal of a greater king, he must follow the overlord’s whims
and cannot act independently. Gopa-kumāra felt all these anxieties.
BB 2.1.156
TEXT 156
spṛṣṭam anyena kenacit
nītaṁ bahir vā sandigdho
na bhuṅkte ko ’pi saj-janaḥ
jagat-īśvara—of the Supreme Lord; naivedyam—the remnants of food; spṛṣṭam—touched;
anyena kenacit—by anyone else; nītam—carried; bahiḥ—outside; vā—or; sandigdhaḥ—
doubted; na bhuṅkte—does not eat; kaḥ api—any; sat-janaḥ—respectable person.
If the Supreme Lord’s remnants were touched by an outsider, or carried outside the temple, or
if for any other reason a doubt arose about the purity of the remnants, no respectable person
would eat them.
Gopa-kumāra certainly should have tolerated any trouble arising from serving the Lord, but
the serious obstructions that appeared in Gopa-kumāra’s devotional service provoked him
much more than the petty complications of royal politics. The brāhmaṇas of this region were
very strict about the food they accepted. They would not accept Lord Viṣṇu’s prasāda if it had
been touched by anyone other than appointed servants of the Deity or taken outside the sacred
area of the temple. These brāhmaṇas cited the tradition of cultured behavior as evidence to
support their scruples: their predecessors had never accepted prasāda that had in these ways
been contaminated. Real brāhmaṇas and Vaiṣṇavas, however, become unhappy to see such
behavior; for them it is difficult to live in a place where such disrespect of the Supreme Lord’s
prasāda is promoted. Furthermore, their opinion on this matter is supported in scriptures such
as Śrī Bṛhad-viṣṇu Purāṇa:
naivedyaṁ jagad-īśasya
anna-pānādikaṁ ca yat
bhakṣyābhakṣya-vicāras tu
nāsti tad-bhakṣaṇe dvija
brahma-van nirvikāraṁ hi
yathā viṣṇus tathaiva tat
vicāraṁ ye prakurvanti
bhakṣaṇe tad dvijātayaḥ
nirayaṁ yānti te viprā
yasmān nāvartate punaḥ
“O twice-born, one should never question whether remnants of food and drink offered to the
Lord of the universe are fit or unfit to eat. One should never make such distinctions. The
prasāda of the Lord is as incorruptible as the Vedic mantras and Lord Viṣṇu Himself. Those
who consider whether the Lord’s prasāda is eatable or uneatable will suffer leprosy. They will
lose their children and wives, O brāhmaṇa, and go to hell, never to return.”
BB 2.1.157
marma-śalyena caitena
nirvedo me mahān abhūt
neśe didṛkṣitaṁ sākṣāt
prāptaṁ tyaktuṁ ca tat-prabhum
marma—in a vital point of the body; śalyena—by the dart; ca—and; etena—this; nirvedaḥ—
disgust; me—my; mahān—great; abhūt—arose; na īśe—I did not want; didṛkṣitam—whom I
had wanted to see; sākṣāt—directly; prāptam—obtained; tyaktum—to leave; ca—and; tat—
that; prabhum—Lord.
Such darts, shot into my vital points, made me like giving everything up. But I had no desire
to leave the Lord, whom long I had hankered to see and whose personal contact I had now
To see the leaders of society refusing Viṣṇu’s prasāda was more painful to Gopa-kumāra than
the wounds of well-aimed arrows. One who is cut at a major juncture of the subtle channels
carrying prāṇa feels excruciating pain. But the pain of having to watch and tolerate aparādhas
in the service of Lord Viṣṇu was more painful for Gopa-kumāra than such a wound. He lost
whatever enthusiasm he had for continuing his involvement with ruling the kingdom, but he
could not leave Lord Viṣṇu.
BB 2.1.158
TEXT 158
etasmin eva samaye
tatra dakṣiṇa-deśataḥ
samāgataiḥ sādhu-varaiḥ
kathitaṁ tairthikair idam
etasmin—at this; eva—very; samaye—time; tatra—there; dakṣiṇa-deśataḥ—from the
southern country; samāgataiḥ—who had arrived; sādhu—by saints; varaiḥ—venerable;
kathitam—said; tairthikaiḥ—who were on pilgrimage; idam—this.
Just then, some venerable saints from the south arrived on pilgrimage and told me this:
The saintly pilgrims were Vaiṣṇavas from Jagannātha-purī. For a while they had left that holy
dhāma to see Lord Viṣṇu’s Deities and devotees elsewhere, mostly in the various tīrthas.
BB 2.1.159
TEXT 159
dāru-brahma jagan-nātho
bhagavān puruṣottame
kṣetre nīlācale kṣārārṇava-tīre virājate
dāru-brahma—the Absolute Truth in wood; jagan-nāthaḥ—Jagannātha, the Lord of the
universe; bhagavān—the Personality of Godhead; puruṣottame kṣetre—in the holy district
Puruṣottama; nīla-acale—on the blue mountain; kṣāra-arṇava—of the salt ocean; tīre—on the
shore; virājate—is present.
“At Puruṣottama-kṣetra, on the blue mountain on the shore of the salt ocean, Jagannātha, the
Lord of the universe, the Personality of Godhead, is present as the Absolute Truth manifest in
Within the holy dhāma called Puruṣottama on the shore of the salt ocean is a district called
Nīlācala, and there the Supreme Personality of Godhead is present as Lord Jagannātha. He is
called dāru-brahma because He is the Absolute Truth in wood (dāru), and because He
destroys (dāraṇāt) the miseries of material existence. He is described in a number of Purāṇas.
For example, in the Padma Purāṇa:
samudrasyottare tīre
āste śrī-puruṣottame
pūrṇānanda-mayaṁ brahma
“At Śrī Puruṣottama, on the northern shore of the ocean, resides the Supreme Absolute Truth.
Full of perfect ecstasy, He has assumed a transcendental body that appears wooden.”
And in the Bṛhad-viṣṇu Purāṇa:
nīlādrau cotkale deśe
kṣetre śrī-puruṣottame
dāruṇy āste cid-ānando
“In the land of Orissa, on the blue mountain at Śrī Puruṣottama-kṣetra, the ecstatic and allspiritual Lord is present in wood in His form known as Jagannātha.”
BB 2.1.160
TEXT 160
mahā-vibhūtimān rājyam
autkalaṁ pālayan svayam
vyaṣjayan nija-māhātmyaṁ
sadā sevaka-vatsalaḥ
mahā—great; vibhūti-mān—the possessor of opulences; rājyam—the kingdom; autkalam—of
māhātmyam—glories; sadā—always; sevaka—for His servants; vatsalaḥ—concerned like a
“With infinite opulence, that Lord Himself rules the kingdom of Utkala. He displays His
unique glories and always takes affectionate care of His devotees.
Utkala is another name for Orissa. Lord Jagannātha Himself rules this kingdom by issuing
various commands and guidelines for the citizens’ conduct of business and personal affairs.
As the Tattva-yāmala states:
bhārate cotkale deśe
bhū-svarge puruṣottame
dāru-rūpī jagannātho
bhaktānām abhaya-pradaḥ
nara-ceṣṭām upādāya
āste mokṣaika-kārakaḥ
“In the Utkala kingdom in Bhārata-varṣa lies the earthly heaven of Puruṣottama. There Lord
Jagannātha appears in a wooden form. Taking up humanlike activities, He bestows
fearlessness on His devotees. He is the only giver of liberation.”
Lord Jagannātha displays His own glories, such as His kind compassion on unfortunate souls.
Especially affectionate to His servants, He never takes their offenses seriously.
BB 2.1.161
TEXT 161
tasyānnaṁ pācitaṁ lakṣmyā
svayaṁ bhuktvā dayālunā
dattaṁ tena sva-bhaktebhyo
labhyate deva-durlabham
tasya—His; annam—food; pācitam—cooked; lakṣmyā—by His consort, the goddess of
fortune; svayam—Himself; bhuktvā—having eaten; dayālunā—the all-merciful; dattam—is
given; tena—by Him; sva-bhaktebhyaḥ—to His devotees; labhyate—is obtained; deva—by
the demigods; durlabham—rarely obtained.
“After eating food cooked for Him by His consort Lakṣmī, the all-merciful Lord distributes to
His devotees His own remnants, which are available in Nīlācala even though by demigods
they are rarely obtained.
The remnants from the plate of Lord Viṣṇu are extremely difficult to obtain. But in Nīlācala,
after the goddess Lakṣmī personally cooks for Lord Jagannātha, the Lord eats each
preparation and then freely distributes His remnants to His devotees. Being all-merciful, Lord
Jagannātha sees to it Himself that all His devotees obtain His prasāda. When everything
cooked for the Lord is offered before Him in many clay pots, sometimes He eats only a little
of each preparation, and sometimes He eats everything and then miraculously refills the pots.
BB 2.1.162
TEXT 162
mahā-prasāda-saṁjṣaṁ ca
tat spṛṣṭaṁ yena kenacit
yatra kutrāpi vā nītam
avicāreṇa bhujyate
mahā-prasāda-saṁjṣam—called mahā-prasāda; ca—and; tat—that; spṛṣṭam—touched; yena
kenacit—by anyone; yatra kutra api—anywhere; vā—or; nītam—brought; avicāreṇa—
without discrimination; bhujyate—is eaten.
“That food is called His mahā-prasāda. Be it touched by anyone or brought anywhere, without
discriminating the devotees eat it.
The mahā-prasāda of Lord Jagannātha is unique. Because it has been touched by His
nectarean lips, it can never be contaminated, even if touched by an unseeable or untouchable
person or if carried to an unclean place. No decent person ever refuses to eat Lord
Jagannātha’s mahā-prasāda, or complains that it might not be pure, or that the time is
improper to accept it. It is said:
yad annaṁ pācayet lakṣmīr
bhoktā ca puruṣottamaḥ
spṛṣṭāspṛṣṭaṁ na mantavyaṁ
yathā viṣṇus tathaiva tat
“The food that Lakṣmī cooks and Lord Puruṣottama eats should be accepted without
consideration of its being touched or untouched by anyone. It is as pure as Lord Viṣṇu
The Skanda Purāṇa adds:
cira-stham api saṁśuṣkaṁ
nītaṁ vā dūra-deśataḥ
yathāyathopabhuktaṁ sat
“Even if Lord Jagannātha’s prasāda has completely dried up from sitting for a long time or
has been carried to a far distant place, if eaten in the proper spirit it will surely drive away all
one’s sins.”
According to the Bhaviṣya Purāṇa:
antya-varṇair hīna-varṇaiḥ
saṅkara-prabhavair api
spṛṣṭaṁ jagat-pater annaṁ
bhuktaṁ sarvāgha-nāśanam
“Even if the food eaten by the Lord of the universe has been touched by outcastes, by those
with no caste, or by those born in mixed castes, still it has the power to destroy all sins.”
In the words of the Tattva-yāmala:
nāsti tatraiva rājendra
yasya saṁspṛṣṭa-mātreṇa
yānty amedhyāḥ pavitratām
“O best of kings, one should never be concerned whether someone has touched Lord
Jagannātha’s prasāda. If persons unfit to take part in Vedic sacrifices simply touch this
prasāda, they become completely sanctified.”
And according to the Garuḍa Purāṇa:
na kāla-niyamo viprā
vrate cāndrāyaṇe yathā
prāpta-mātreṇa bhuṣjīta
yadīcchen mokṣam ātmanaḥ
“O brāhmaṇa, there are no restrictions about when to accept this prasāda as there are in the
observance of vows like Cāndrāyaṇa. Whenever one receives Lord Jagannātha’s prasāda one
should eat it at once if one wants to attain liberation of the soul.”
BB 2.1.163
TEXT 163
aho tat-kṣetra-māhātmyaṁ
gardabho ’pi catur-bhujaḥ
yatra praveśa-mātreṇa
na kasyāpi punar-bhavaḥ
aho—oh; tat-kṣetra—of that holy district; māhātmyam—the greatness; gardabhaḥ—a donkey;
api—even; catuḥ-bhujaḥ—four-armed; yatra—there; praveśa—by entering; mātreṇa—simply;
na—not; kasya api—of anyone; punaḥ-bhavaḥ—rebirth.
“Oh, that holy kṣetra is so great that even the donkeys living there have four arms! Anyone
who simply enters that district will never take birth again.
Some may doubt the claim that Lord Jagannātha’s prasāda is so special. Those doubters
should be informed that Lord Jagannātha’s abode is even more special. Even lowly animals
like donkeys who live there are four-armed, for they have automatically achieved the
perfection of sārūpya, having bodily features just like the Lord’s. This is stated by Lord
Brahmā in the Brahma Purāṇa:
aho kṣetrasya māhātmyaṁ
samantād daśa yojanam
divi-ṣṭhā yatra paśyanti
sarvān eva catur-bhujāḥ
“Just see how great is this holy abode! The demigods in heaven see that in this kṣetra, for ten
yojanas on all sides, everyone has four arms.”
Śrī Veda-vyāsa says in the Garuḍa Purāṇa:
yatra sthitā janāḥ sarve
dṛśyante divi devāṁś ca
mohayanti muhur muhuḥ
“Everyone living there appears with hands holding a conchshell, disc, and lotus. The
demigods in heaven are constantly bewildered to see this.”
And Śrī Nārada says in the Bahvṛca-pariśiṣṭa:
catur-bhujā janāḥ sarve
dṛśyante yan-nivāsinaḥ
“All the residents there are seen to have four arms.”
Furthermore, simply by setting foot in Puruṣottama-kṣetra, any living being coming from
anywhere is freed from having to take another birth. This is confirmed by Śrī Veda-vyāsa in
the same Bahvṛca-pariśiṣṭa:
sparśanād eva tat kṣetraṁi
nṛṇāṁ mukti-pradāyakam
yatra sākṣāt paraṁ brahma
bhāti dārava-līlayā
api janma-śataiḥ sāgrair
kṣetre ’smin saṅga-mātreṇa
jāyate viṣṇunā saha
“This holy kṣetra, where the Supreme Truth is present in His pastime of having a wooden
form, bestows liberation upon all men who simply touch it. Even if someone has been
dedicated to sinful behavior for many hundreds of lives, by merely coming into contact with
this kṣetra he will take birth in the company of Lord Viṣṇu.”
BB 2.1.164
TEXT 164
tasminn evekṣite janeḥ
phalaṁ syād evam aśrauṣam
āścaryaṁ pūrvam aśrutam
praphulla—fully blossomed; puṇḍarīka—like lotuses; akṣe—whose eyes; tasmin—Him;
eva—just; īkṣite—being seen; janeḥ—of life; phalam—the ultimate goal; syāt—there is;
evam—thus; aśrauṣam—I heard; āścaryam—wonders; pūrvam—before; aśrutam—not heard.
“A mere glimpse of Him, whose eyes are like lotuses in full bloom, grants the ultimate goal of
life.” Such wonders I heard, which I had never heard before.
The Personality of Godhead may be visible elsewhere in other Deity forms, as indeed He is on
the shore of the Gaṅgā in the kingdom where Gopa-kumāra was now living. But the beauty of
Lord Jagannātha is unique. So exquisitely charming is His beauty that by seeing Him merely
once one feels relief from all miseries. That a glimpse of Lord Jagannātha is enough to perfect
one’s life is stated by Śrī Nārada in his talks with Śrī Prahlāda in the Padma Purāṇa:
śravaṇādyair upāyair yaḥ
kathaṣcid dṛśyate mahaḥ
nīlādri-śikhare bhāti
tam eva paramātmānaṁ
ye prapaśyanti mānavāḥ
te yānti bhavanaṁ viṣṇoḥ
kiṁ punar ye bhavādṛśaḥ
“The glories of the Lord, which are partly perceived by methods like hearing, are openly
visible on the peak of the blue mountain. Any human being who sees that Supreme Being will
go to the abode of Viṣṇu, what to speak of a great soul like you.”
As Gopa-kumāra heard from his visitors these glories of Puruṣottama-kṣetra, and more,
wonder arose in his heart because he had never before heard anything like those glories.
Although the form of the Lord that Gopa-kumāra was worshiping was the same Personality of
Godhead, Lord Śrī Jagannātha is the origin of all such incarnations of the Lord. From seeing
the source of all incarnations, especially at such an exceptional place as Puruṣottama-kṣetra,
one can gain greater benefit than from seeing a mere incarnation.
Gopa-kumāra had not heard such facts about the Lord in all the days he had been worshiping
Lord Viṣṇu on the shore of the Gaṅgā, nor had he developed firm attachment to worshiping
the Lord’s Deity. That this was the combined influence of his divine spiritual master and the
divine Personality of Godhead will be explained more clearly later in this narration. We shall
see how Gopa-kumāra’s guru and Gopa-kumāra’s worshipable Lord continually exert their
influence on his step-by-step spiritual progress.
BB 2.1.165
TEXT 165
tad-didṛkṣābhibhūto ’haṁ
sarvaṁ santyajya tat-kṣaṇe
saṅkīrtayan jagannātham
auḍhra-deśa-diśaṁ śritaḥ
tat—Him; didṛkṣā—by desire to see; abhibhūtaḥ—overcome; aham—I; sarvam—everything;
santyajya—abandoning; tat-kṣaṇe—at that moment; saṅkīrtayan—glorifying; jagannātham—
Lord Jagannātha; auḍhra-deśa—of Orissa; diśam—the direction; śritaḥ—I took to.
Overcome by desire to see Lord Jagannātha, in a moment I abandoned everything and set off
in the direction of Orissa, chanting Lord Jagannātha’s glories.
Gopa-kumāra was so inspired by the glories of Lord Jagannātha and the Lord’s kṣetra that he
gave up all external and internal affinity to the kingdom and everything related to it. He at
once began his journey to Jagannātha Purī, heading off in the general direction of Orissa.
While on the road he constantly chanted the four syllables of Lord Jagannātha’s name.
TEXT 166
tat kṣetram acirāt prāptas
tatratyān daṇḍa-van naman
antaḥ-puraṁ praviṣṭo ’haṁ
teṣāṁ karuṇayā satām
tat—that; kṣetram—holy district; acirāt—quickly; prāptaḥ—reached; tatratyān—to those who
dwell there; daṇḍa-vat—like a rod; naman—bowing down; antaḥ-puram—the inner city;
praviṣṭaḥ—entered; aham—I; teṣām—of those; karuṇayā—by the mercy; satām—saintly
I quickly reached that holy district of the Lord. Bowing down to all the residents, by the
mercy of those saintly persons I was able to enter the temple grounds.
Since Gopa-kumāra was a foreigner and no one knew what his business was, his sudden
appearance on the temple ground might have aroused suspicion. The pure Vaiṣṇavas of
Puruṣottama-kṣetra, however, welcomed him kindly; they recognized that he had come to
receive Lord Jagannātha’s mercy.
BB 2.1.167
TEXT 167
dūrād adarśi puruṣottama-vaktra-candro
bhrājad-viśāla-nayano maṇi-puṇḍra-bhālaḥ
snigdhābhra-kāntir aruṇādhara-dīpti-ramyo
dūrāt—from a distance; adarśi—was seen; puruṣottama—of Lord Jagannātha; vaktra—the
face; candraḥ—like the moon; bhrājat—shining; viśāla—broad; nayanaḥ—whose eyes;
maṇi—made of gems; puṇḍra—tilaka; bhālaḥ—on whose forehead; snigdha—full of rain;
abhra—like a cloud; kāntiḥ—whose effulgence; aruṇa—dawn-colored; adhara—whose lips;
dīpti—which effulgence; ramyaḥ—attractive; aśeṣa—unlimited; prasāda—satisfaction;
vikasat—radiating; smita—of His smile; candrikā—with the moonbeams; āḍhyaḥ—adorned.
From a distance I saw the moonlike face of Lord Puruṣottama, His broad eyes shining
brilliantly, His forehead decorated with tilaka made of gems. His complexion glowed like a
cloud full of rain, and the effulgence of His dawn-colored lips was all-attractive. Moonbeams
of unlimited satisfaction emanated from His smile, adding to His beauty.
The round face of Lord Jagannātha is easily recognizable, even from a distance. It gives joy to
everyone, just like the full moon. Gopa-kumāra had been meditating on the general features of
the Lord’s face even before seeing Him and now could see the details of the Lord’s beauty for
the first time.
BB 2.1.168
TEXT 168
tatrāgrato gantu-manāś ca neśe
premṇā hato vepathubhir niruddhaḥ
romāṣca-bhinno ’śru-vilupta-dṛṣṭiḥ
stambhaṁ suparṇasya kathaṣcid āptaḥ
tatra—there; agrataḥ—before Him; gantu-manāḥ—intending to come; ca—and; na īśe—I was
not able; premṇā—by ecstatic love; hataḥ—struck; vepathubhiḥ—by trembling in my body;
niruddhaḥ—impeded; roma-aṣca—by hair standing on end; bhinnaḥ—distinguished; aśru—by
tears; vilupta—obstructed; dṛṣṭiḥ—my vision; stambham—the column; suparṇasya—of
Garuḍa; kathaṣcit—somehow; āptaḥ—reached.
Struck by the ecstasy of pure love and impeded by trembling in my body, I was unable to go
forward despite my desire. But somehow I reached Garuḍa’s column, my hair standing on
end, my vision clouded by tears.
Gopa-kumāra was eager to enter Lord Jagannātha’s temple but had difficulty proceeding,
because his mind was overwhelmed by love and his body by the ecstasy of jāḍya, being
stunned. Unconscious of his own movements, only by the Lord’s mercy did Gopa-kumāra
reach the column on which Garuḍa sits before Lord Jagannātha’s altar.
BB 2.1.169-170
TEXTS 169-170
divyāmbarālaṅkaraṇa-srag-āvalīvyāptaṁ mano-locana-harṣa-vardhanam
siṁhāsanasyopari līlayā sthitaṁ
bhuktvā mahā-bhoga-gaṇān mano-harān
praṇāma-nṛtya-stuti-vādya-gītaparāṁs tu sa-prema vilokayantam
mahā-mahimnāṁ padam īkṣamāṇo
’pataṁ jagannātham ahaṁ vimuhya
divya—divine; ambara—garments; alaṅkaraṇa—jewelry; srak—of garlands; āvalī—and a
series; vyāptam—who was covered; manaḥ—of the mind; locana—of the eyes; harṣa—the
pleasure; vardhanam—who was increasing; siṁha-āsanasya—a lion throne; upari—upon;
līlayā—playfully; sthitam—situated; bhuktvā—eating; mahā—wonderful; bhoga-gaṇān—
varieties of food; manaḥ-harān—attractive; praṇāma—in bowing down; nṛtya—dancing;
stuti—offering prayers; vādya—playing music; gīta—and singing; parān—those who were
mahimnām—of supreme splendor; padam—the locus; īkṣamāṇaḥ—seeing; apatam—fell;
jagannātham—Lord Jagannātha; aham—I; vimuhya—fainting.
I saw Lord Jagannātha, bedecked with jewelry, divine garments, and flower garlands. The
sight of Him increased the pleasure of my eyes and mind. As He sat playfully on His lion
throne, He ate the wonderful varieties of attractive food being offered to Him. With love He
watched His devotees busily singing, dancing, playing music, offering prayers, and bowing
down to Him. Bewildered by seeing that supremely splendorous pageant, I fainted and fell to
the floor.
From his vantage point near the Garuḍa-stambha, Gopa-kumāra could see the details of Lord
Jagannātha’s beauty even more clearly. It proved too much for him to experience all at once.
BB 2.1.171
TEXT 171
saṁjṣāṁ labdhvā samunmīlya
locane lokayan punaḥ
unmatta iva taṁ dhartuṁ
sa-vego ’dhāvam agrataḥ
saṁjṣām—consciousness; labdhvā—obtaining; samunmīlya—opening completely; locane—
my eyes; lokayan—gazing; punaḥ—again; unmattaḥ—a madman; iva—as if; tam—Him;
dhartum—to catch hold of; sa-vegaḥ—quickly; adhāvam—I ran; agrataḥ—forward.
I came to my senses, opened my eyes, and gazed upon Him again. Like a madman I ran
forward quickly to catch hold of Him.
BB 2.1.172
TEXT 172
cirād didṛkṣito dṛṣṭo
jīvitaṁ jīvitaṁ mayā
prāpto ’dya jagad-īśo ’yaṁ
nija-prabhur iti bruvan
cirāt—after a long time; didṛkṣitaḥ—desired to be seen; dṛṣṭaḥ—seen; jīvitam—my life;
jīvitam—is a real life; mayā—by me; prāptaḥ—achieved; adya—today; jagat-īśaḥ—Lord of
the universe; ayam—this; nija—my own; prabhuḥ—master; iti—thus; bruvan—saying.
I cried out, “Now I am seeing what for so long I have wanted to see. From today my life is a
real life. I have obtained the Lord of the universe, my master!”
Previously Gopa-kumāra had never felt fully alive, but now, after seeing Lord Jagannātha, he
considered himself delivered from the living death of material existence. Repeating himself
out of sheer joy, he declared that now he had not only seen the Lord of the universe but come
into intimate contact with Him. In Lord Jagannātha he perceived for the first time all the
characteristics of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
BB 2.1.173
TEXT 173
sa-vetra-ghātaṁ pratihāribhis tadā
nivārito jāta-vicāra-lajjitaḥ
prabhoḥ kṛpāṁ tām anumānya nirgato
mahā-prasādānnam athāpnavaṁ bahiḥ
sa-vetra-ghātam—with blows of sticks; pratihāribhiḥ—by the guards; tadā—then; nivāritaḥ—
prevented; jāta—awakened; vicāra—by my discrimination; lajjitaḥ—embarrassed; prabhoḥ—
of the Lord; kṛpām—mercy; tām—that; anumānya—reasoning; nirgataḥ—having exited;
mahā-prasāda-annam—mahā-prasāda remnants; atha—then; āpnavam—I received; bahiḥ—
At that moment I was stopped by blows from the sticks of the guards. Realizing what I had
done I felt embarrassed. “This is the Lord’s mercy,” I reasoned, and went outside, where I
received remnants of His mahā-prasāda.
Being struck by the sticks of the doorkeepers brought Gopa-kumāra out of his trance. He
thought, “Here I am, an insignificant foreigner, behaving with such impudence! What am I
doing?” But despite some physical pain, Gopa-kumāra was not at all unhappy. He was still
overjoyed to be in the realm of Lord Jagannātha. The Lord was kind enough to arrange for the
guards to stop him, because had he embraced Lord Jagannātha as he had intended, he would
have committed a serious offense.
Calming himself down, Gopa-kumāra went outside, where a compassionate person gave him
mahā-prasāda from the Lord.
BB 2.1.174-175
TEXTS 174-175
tad bhuktvā satvaraṁ brahman
bhagavan-mandiraṁ punaḥ
praviśyāścarya-jātaṁ yan
mayā dṛṣṭaṁ mudāṁ padam
hṛdi kartuṁ na śakyate
tat kathaṁ kriyatāṁ mukhe
evaṁ tatra divā pūrṇaṁ
sthitvānando ’nubhūyate
tat—that; bhuktvā—eating; satvaram—immediately; brahman—O brāhmaṇa; bhagavat—of
the Supreme Lord; mandiram—the temple; punaḥ—again; praviśya—entering; āścarya—the
wonders; jātam—all; yat—which; mayā—by me; dṛṣṭam—seen; mudām—of all kinds of
happiness; padam—the reservoir; hṛdi—in the heart; kartum—to do; na śakyate—it is not
possible; tat—so; katham—how; kriyatām—it can be done; mukhe—in the mouth; evam—
thus; tatra—there; divā—the day; pūrṇam—entire; sthitvā—standing; ānandaḥ—ecstasy;
anubhūyate—was experienced.
O brāhmaṇa, after eating that mahā-prasāda I quickly reentered the Lord’s temple. From the
wonders I then saw, I felt a reservoir of happiness I am unable to understand in my heart, let
alone describe with my mouth. I simply stood there all day, relishing bliss.
Gopa-kumāra’s heart could not assimilate everything he was relishing—one amazing thing
after another without stop, and each wonder inconceivable. How, then, could he properly
describe what he saw? The power of speech is usually slower and more limited than the
power of the mind.
BB 2.1.176
TEXT 176
rātrau mahotsave vṛtte
nirgamyate tu nirvṛtte
rātrau—at night; mahā-utsave—when a great festival; vṛtte—occurred; bṛhat-śṛṅgāra—
opulent ornamentation; sambhave—which involved; nirgamyate—had to leave; tu—but;
nirvṛtte—when completed; puṣpa-aṣjali—with offerings of palmfuls of flowers; mahāutsave—the great ceremony.
At night there was a great festival, with the Lord dressed and ornamented in elaborate
splendor. But finally, after a great ceremony with offerings of palmfuls of flowers, it was time
to leave the temple.
BB 2.1.177
TEXT 177
netthaṁ jṣātaḥ satāṁ saṅge
kālo nava-navotsavaiḥ
tadaivāsyā vraja-bhuvaḥ
śoko me niragād iva
na—not; ittham—in this way; jṣātaḥ—noticed; satām—of saintly devotees; saṅge—in the
company; kālaḥ—time; nava-nava—ever new; utsavaiḥ—with festivals; tadā—then; eva—
indeed; asyāḥ—from this; vraja-bhuvaḥ—land of Vraja; śokaḥ—sorrow; me—my; niragāt—
went away; iva—as if.
As I thus enjoyed ever-new festivals in the company of saintly devotees, time passed
unnoticed. I seemed to forget the sorrow of my separation from this land of Vraja.
The pain Gopa-kumāra had been feeling from being outside Vraja subsided in the presence of
Lord Jagannātha, but it was never uprooted completely from his heart.
BB 2.1.178
TEXT 178
sevakeṣu kṛpottamā
vividhājṣā ca sarvatra
śrūyate ’py anubhūyate
śrī-jagannātha-devasya—of Śrī Jagannātha-deva; sevakeṣu—on the servants; kṛpā—the
mercy; uttamā—supreme; vividha—various; ājṣā—His commands; ca—and; sarvatra—
everywhere; śrūyate—were heard of; api—and; anubhūyate—were directly experienced.
Everywhere, I heard about and saw for myself the most exalted mercy of Lord Śrī Jagannātha
on His servants and perceived the various commands He gave them.
In reciprocating with His devotees, Lord Jagannātha often went out of His way to fulfill their
various desires and would issue commands so as to give them opportunities for service. Gopa-
kumāra not only heard about this mercy from numerous sources but saw examples of it with
his own eyes.
BB 2.1.179
TEXT 179
nānyat kim api roceta
jagannāthasya darśanāt
purāṇato ’sya māhātmyaśuśrūṣāpi nivartate
na—not; anyat—other; kim api—anything; roceta—would attract; jagannāthasya—of Lord
Jagannātha; darśanāt—than the sight; purāṇataḥ—from the Purāṇas; asya—His; māhātmya—
about the glories; śuśrūṣā—the desire to hear; api—even; nivartate—ceased.
Nothing other than the sight of Lord Jagannātha attracted me. I even lost interest in hearing
about His glories from the Purāṇas.
At first Gopa-kumāra was quite interested in the recitations by Purāṇic experts in the temple,
in which the glories of Lord Jagannātha were read from the Brahma Purāṇa and other
scriptures. But as he became more and more attracted to the beauty of Lord Jagannātha’s lotus
face, he could no longer pay attention to those recitations. That is one reason he remained
ignorant about such basic facts as the existence of the heavenly planets.
BB 2.1.180
TEXT 180
śārīraṁ mānasaṁ vā syāt
kiṣcid duḥkhaṁ kadācana
tac ca śrī-puṇḍarīkākṣe
dṛṣṭe sadyo vinaśyati
śārīram—bodily; mānasam—mental; vā—or; syāt—if there might be; kiṣcit—some;
duḥkham—distress; kadācana—sometimes; tat—that; ca—and; śrī-puṇḍarīka-akṣe—of the
divine lotus-eyed Lord; dṛṣṭe—at the sight; sadyaḥ—at once; vinaśyati—would disappear.
And even if I sometimes underwent some physical or mental distress, as soon as I saw the
lotus-eyed Lord the pain disappeared.
It is to be expected that any embodied soul will often be distracted from the ecstasy of seeing
Lord Jagannātha’s lotus face by unavoidable physical and mental disturbances. Diseases
constantly threaten the bodies of conditioned souls, and all kinds of desires and vexations
constantly pass through their minds. Gopa-kumāra also felt these natural disturbances, but
they at once disappeared whenever he came before Lord Jagannātha. The bliss he felt from
seeing the Lord made him forget his troubles and gradually diminished them almost to nil.
BB 2.1.181
TEXT 181
phalaṁ labdhaṁ japasyeti
matvodāse sma tatra ca
evaṁ cira-dinaṁ tatra
nyavasaṁ paramaiḥ sukhaiḥ
phalam—the result; labdham—attained; japasya—of my chanting; iti—thus; matvā—
thinking; udāse sma—I became indifferent; tatra—to it; ca—and; evam—thus; cira-dinam—
for many days; tatra—there; nyavasam—I resided; paramaiḥ—perfect; sukhaiḥ—with all
kinds of happiness.
Thus, thinking I had attained the final result of my chanting, I became indifferent even to
chanting. For many days I lived in the city of Lord Jagannātha in such perfect happiness.
BB 2.1.182
TEXT 182
atha tasyāntarīṇāyāṁ
sevāyāṁ karhicit prabhoḥ
jātā rucir me tāpo ’pi
tasyā aghaṭanān mahān
atha—then; tasya—His; āntarīṇāyām—of the intimate servants; sevāyām—in service;
karhicit—at some time; prabhoḥ—of the Lord; jātā—developed; ruciḥ—taste; me—my;
tāpaḥ—discomfort; api—also; tasyāḥ—of that; aghaṭanāt—because of the nonfulfillment;
Then I began to feel the urge for more intimate service to the Lord. But this desire also
brought me great pain because it remained unfulfilled.
Just living in Jagannātha Purī was a source of great bliss, but Gopa-kumāra began to feel
attracted to the even greater bliss of rendering personal service to Lord Jagannātha. This urge,
first felt as a vague discomfort, gradually became a conscious desire. Gopa-kumāra wanted to
enter the inner rooms of the temple and approach the Lord as one of His personal attendants.
One might wonder whether this desire was no more practical than wanting to touch the moon
with one’s hand, but Gopa-kumāra refers to Lord Jagannātha as prabhu, indicating that the
Lord can do anything.
BB 2.1.183-184
TEXTS 183-184
yaś cakravartī tatratyaḥ
sa prabhor mukhya-sevakaḥ
śrī-mukhaṁ vīkṣituṁ kṣetre
yadā yāti mahotsave
saj-janopadravodyānabhaṅgādau vārite ’py atha
mādṛśo ’kiṣcanāḥ svairaṁ
prabhuṁ draṣṭuṁ na śaknuyuḥ
yaḥ—who; cakravartī—the great king; tatratyaḥ—of that place; saḥ—he; prabhoḥ—of the
Lord; mukhya—the chief; sevakaḥ—servant; śrī-mukham—His transcendental face;
vīkṣitum—to see; kṣetre—to the holy city; yadā—when; yāti—he would come; mahāutsave—during a festival; sat-jana—to respectable gentlemen; upadrava—disturbance;
udyāna—to gardens; bhaṅga—damage; ādau—and so on; vārite—being prevented; api—
even; atha—then; mādṛśaḥ—like me; akiṣcanāḥ—unimportant people; svairam—freely;
prabhum—the Lord; draṣṭum—to see; na śaknuyuḥ—were not able.
On special festival days the Lord’s chief servant, the mighty king who ruled that country,
came to the holy city to see the Lord’s transcendental face. To prevent problems like
disturbances to respectable people and damage to the Lord’s gardens, unimportant people like
me were then forbidden to freely see the Lord.
By the special mercy of Lord Jagannātha, the king of Purī at that time was a cakravartī, an
overlord of several other kings. By the privilege of his royal position he was officially the
principal worshiper of the Lord. His capital was elsewhere, but for major festivals like the
Ratha-yātrā he would come to Śrī Jagannātha Purī. On those occasions common people like
Gopa-kumāra, without status and entourage, would be restricted from freely coming to see the
Lord. This prohibition was not offensive on the part of the king, who was a saintly devotee,
because it was necessary to protect the Lord’s property and service. If everyone were allowed
into the temple while the king was present, he and the respectable people with him would
have difficulty taking darśana, and the Lord’s flower gardens could be damaged or His ponds
polluted by unruly mobs. At the very least, the Lord’s privacy would be threatened if too
many people were allowed to converge on the temple.
Thus the poor people in the city had to tolerate having their movements restricted, and then
too they were harassed by the presence of the king’s large army, with its elephants, chariots,
horsemen, and infantry soldiers.
BB 2.1.185
TEXT 185
evam udbhūta-hṛd-rogo
’drākṣaṁ sva-gurum ekadā
evam—in this way; udbhūta—having appeared; hṛt—of the heart; rogaḥ—disease;
adrākṣam—I saw; sva-gurum—my guru; ekadā—one day; śrī-jagannātha-deva—of Śrī
Jagannātha-deva; agre—in front; parama—supreme; prema—by ecstatic love; vihvalam—
One day when I thus felt sick at heart, I saw my spiritual master standing in front of Śrī
Jagannātha-deva, overwhelmed by the highest ecstatic love of God.
Somehow the same great soul who had given Gopa-kumāra his mantra in Śrī Vṛndāvana was
now in Purī, taking darśana of Lord Jagannātha.
BB 2.1.186
TEXT 186
na sa sambhāṣituṁ śakto
mayā tarhi gataḥ kvacit
alakṣito jagannāthaśrī-mukhākṛṣṭa-cetasā
na—not; saḥ—he; sambhāṣitum—to speak with; śaktaḥ—possible; mayā—by me; tarhi—
then; gataḥ—gone away; kvacit—somewhere; alakṣitaḥ—unnoticed; jagannātha—of Lord
Jagannātha; śrī-mukha—by the beautiful face; ākṛṣṭa—attracted; cetasā—whose mind.
But before I could speak with him, he left to go somewhere, and my mind was so attracted to
the beautiful face of Lord Jagannātha that I didn’t notice which way my guru went.
Gopa-kumāra made a serious mistake by neglecting to follow his guru and meet him, but it
was not offensive because he had innocently fallen victim to Lord Jagannātha’s beauty.
BB 2.1.187
TEXT 187
itas tato ’mṛgyatāsau
dine ’nyasmiṁs taṭe ’mbudheḥ
nṛtyal+ labdho mayaikalaḥ
itaḥ tataḥ—here and there; amṛgyata—was searched for; asau—he; dine—on the day;
anyasmin—other; taṭe—on the shore; ambu-dheḥ—of the ocean; nāma-saṅkīrtana—of nāmasaṅkīrtana; ānandaiḥ—in the varieties of bliss; nṛtyan—dancing; labdhaḥ—found; mayā—by
me; ekalaḥ—alone.
After searching here and there, the next day I found him on the shore of the ocean, dancing
alone in the ecstasies of nāma-saṅkīrtana.
BB 2.1.188
TEXT 188
daṇḍa-vat praṇamantaṁ māṁ
āśliṣyājṣāpayām āsa
sarva-jṣo ’nugrahād idam
daṇḍa-vat—like a rod; praṇamantam—who was bowing down; mām—me; dṛṣṭvā—seeing;
āśīḥ-vāda-pūrvakam—after giving his blessings; āśliṣya—embracing; ājṣāpayām āsa—he
told; sarva-jṣaḥ—the knower of everything; anugrahāt—out of mercy; idam—this.
Seeing me prostrating myself like a rod on the ground, my all-knowing master gave me his
blessings. Then he embraced me and mercifully told me this:
If Gopa-kumāra’s guru knew everything, then surely he knew, without being told, the desires
Gopa-kumāra held in his heart.
BB 2.1.189
TEXT 189
yad yat saṅkalpya bho vatsa
nijaṁ mantraṁ japiṣyasi
tat-prabhāveṇa tat sarvaṁ
vāṣchātītaṁ ca setsyati
yat yat—whatever; saṅkalpya—intending; bhoḥ vatsa—my dear boy; nijam—your own;
mantram—mantra; japiṣyasi—you will chant; tat-prabhāveṇa—by its power; tat—that;
sarvam—all; vāṣchā—your desire; atītam—what exceeds; ca—and; setsyati—you will
“My dear boy, whatever you desire while chanting your mantra, by its power you will fully
achieve. Indeed, you will attain more than you desire.
Before performing any religious ritual, including the chanting of mantras, one should
solemnly formulate one’s saṅkalpa (“intention”), either verbally or mentally. In most Vedic
sacrifices one can expect one’s saṅkalpa to be fulfilled only in the indefinite future, most
likely in the next life. But by the blessing of his guru, Gopa-kumāra’s specific saṅkalpas
would all be quickly realized, as we shall see as his story continues.
BB 2.1.190
TEXT 190
sevā-rūpaṁ ca viddhi tam
evaṁ matvā ca viśvasya
na kadācij japaṁ tyajeḥ
śrī-jagannātha-devasya—of Śrī Jagannātha-deva; sevā—of the service; rūpam—a form; ca—
and; viddhi—please know; tam—this; evam—thus; matvā—understanding; ca—and;
viśvasya—being confident; na kadācit—never; japam—your chanting; tyajeḥ—you should
give up.
“This chanting, please understand, is another form of service to Lord Śrī Jagannātha. Have
faith in this and never give up your japa.
Even if Gopa-kumāra has no other desire than to render personal service to Lord Jagannātha,
he is here told to understand that chanting his mantra is intimate service to the Lord. Gopakumāra may not have seen this for himself, but he should accept it out of confidence in the
words of his guru. Aware of Gopa-kumāra’s intense desire to serve Jagannātha, the allknowing guru also perceives that Gopa-kumāra is neglecting his mantra and so is helping him
achieve his desire by correcting his neglect.
BB 2.1.191
TEXT 191
tvam etasya prabhāveṇa
cira-jīvī bhavānv-aham
īdṛg-gopārbha-rūpaś ca
tvam—you; etasya—of this (mantra); prabhāveṇa—by the potency; cira-jīvī—long-lived;
bhava—may be; anu-aham—always; īdṛk—such; gopa-arbha—of a cowherd boy; rūpaḥ—
having the form; ca—and; tat—of this (chanting); phala—of the fruit; āpti—for realizing;
arha—suitable; mānasaḥ—mentality.
“By the potency of this mantra, may you live a long time, may you always have the form of a
cowherd boy, and may you develop the right mentality for tasting the mantra’s fruit.
To help Gopa-kumāra take advantage of the benediction that his mantra will fulfill all his
desires, his guru gives him three more blessings. First, Gopa-kumāra will live long enough to
enjoy whatever he may desire, even if that involves traveling to higher planets, where life is
much longer than on earth. Second, he will avoid old age and its ailments, staying always a
young cowherd boy. In other words, throughout his life he will keep the same age and dress
he has now, regardless of where he goes, be it Lord Brahmā’s planet or Vaikuṇṭha. Third, his
mind will not become confused or agitated by the immediate fulfillment of his desires,
because the mantra will keep his intelligence fixed on the final goal—to see with his own eyes
Lord Madana-gopāla and join in the Lord’s sporting pastimes. And as a side result of this
third benediction, even when Gopa-kumāra achieves the posts of an emperor and of Lord
Indra he will remain ignorant of the planets he has not yet seen—Svarga-loka, Mahar-loka,
and so on. This so-called ignorance will help him progress toward ultimate happiness, as Śrī
Nārada will later explain at the end of Chapter Five.
BB 2.1.192
TEXT 192
māṁ drakṣyasi kadāpy atra
vṛndāraṇye kadācana
evaṁ sa mām anujṣāpya
kutrāpi sahasāgamat
mām—me; drakṣyasi—you will see; kadā api—sometimes; atra—here; vṛndāraṇye—in
Vṛndāvana; kadācana—sometimes; evam—thus; saḥ—he; mām—to me; anujṣāpya—giving
instructions; kutra api—somewhere; sahasā—suddenly; agamat—he went.
“Sometimes you will see me here, and sometimes in Vṛndāvana.” Having thus instructed me,
my guru suddenly left to go elsewhere.
Gopa-kumāra has still not received complete instructions on how to chant his mantra, but in
his guru’s opinion the time and place are not proper for divulging that information. Instead,
the guru promises that Gopa-kumāra will meet him again a few more times. If Gopa-kumāra
were to be given complete information about his sādhana, he might reach perfection quickly,
but as fate would have it, he must first do some traveling around the universe.
BB 2.1.193
TEXT 193
tad-viyogena dīnaḥ san
śrī-jagannātham īkṣitum
gataḥ śāntim ahaṁ prāpto
yatnaṁ cākaravaṁ jape
tat—from him; viyogena—because of the separation; dīnaḥ—miserable; san—becoming; śrījagannātham—Śrī Jagannātha; īkṣitum—to see; gataḥ—went; śāntim—peace; aham—I;
prāptaḥ—obtained; yatnam—effort; ca—and; akaravam—I made; jape—in chanting my
Separated from my guru I felt very much aggrieved, but when I went to see Lord Jagannātha I
regained my peace of mind and made a great endeavor to chant my japa.
The unfortunate can become free of distress simply by taking shelter of Śrī Jagannātha-deva;
they need not resort to any other remedy. And if they fail to see Lord Jagannātha, they can
expect neither relief from suffering nor real happiness.
BB 2.1.194-195
TEXTS 194-195
yadāsyā darśanotkaṇṭhā
vraja-bhūmer abhūt-tarām
tadā tu śrī-jagannātha-
mahimnā sphurati sma me
yamunātvena nīlādribhāgo govardhanātmanā
yadā—when; asyāḥ—this; darśana—to see; utkaṇṭhā—intense eagerness; vraja-bhūmeḥ—
Vraja-bhūmi; abhūt-tarām—became very much; tadā—then; tu—however; śrī-jagannātha—of
Śrī Jagannātha; mahimnā—by the glories; sphurati sma—would become manifest; me—to
vṛndāraṇyatayā—appearing as the Vṛndāvana forest; arṇavaḥ—the sea; yamunātvena—as
being the Yamunā; nīlādri—of Nīlādri Hill; bhāgaḥ—the slope; govardhana-ātmanā—as
Whenever my eagerness to see Vraja-bhūmi became intense, on the strength of Śrī
Jagannātha’s glories the many gardens of His abode would appear to me as Vṛndāvana, its sea
as the Yamunā, and the slope of Nīlādri Hill as Govardhana.
The first result Gopa-kumāra noticed after reviving the serious chanting of his mantra was
that he saw certain special opulences of Lord Jagannātha. In particular, he became aware of
various ways in which Lord Jagannātha’s abode, Puruṣottama-kṣetra, is nondifferent from
Kṛṣṇa’s abode, Vraja-bhūmi. Lord Jagannātha’s various pleasure gardens reminded Gopakumāra of the Vṛndāvana forest, the shore of the salt ocean reminded him of the Yamunā
River, and the portion of Nīlādri Hill near the western side of Lord Jagannātha’s temple
reminded him of Govardhana. Thus he was not as miserable as he would have been had he not
been able to see Kṛṣṇa’s abode.
BB 2.1.196
TEXT 196
evaṁ vasan sukhaṁ tatra
bhagavad-darśanād anu
guru-pādājṣayā nityaṁ
japāmi sveṣṭa-siddhaye
evam—in this way; vasan—living; sukham—happily; tatra—there; bhagavat-darśanāt anu—
after taking darśana of the Lord; guru-pāda—of my worshipable guru; ājṣayā—on the order;
nityam—every day; japāmi—I chanted my mantra; sva-iṣṭa—of my desire; siddhaye—for the
In this way I continued living there happily. Every day after taking darśana of the Lord, I
chanted my mantra, following the order of my worshipable guru and hoping to achieve my
desired perfection.
Each morning, after visiting Lord Jagannātha in His temple, Gopa-kumāra would return to his
residence and sit in a quiet place to chant his mantra. He was meditating on the specific
saṅkalpa of being allowed to join the temple service of Jagannātha. As this verse indicates, he
was no longer so obsessed with seeing Lord Jagannātha that he neglected his mantra, and he
was beginning to develop both genuine devotion for his spiritual master and faith in the
transcendental goal of life.
BB 2.1.197
TEXT 197
atha tasmin mahā-rāje
kālaṁ prāpte ’sya sūnunā
rājyam aṅgī-kṛtaṁ na tat
atha—then; tasmin—that; mahā-rāje—king; kālam—the time of his demise; prāptaḥ—
reaching; asya—his; sūnunā—by the son; jyeṣṭhena—eldest; ati-viraktena—who was very
renounced; rājyam—the kingdom; aṅgī-kṛtam—accepted; na—not; tat—that.
Then the king of Purī passed away, and his eldest son, who was very renounced, refused to
accept the kingdom.
Gopa-kumāra’s guru had promised that the mantra would readily fulfill all of Gopa-kumāra’s
desires, and now the first of those desires was about to be realized. Texts 197 through 202
describe how Gopa-kumāra became king of Purī and was able to enter Lord Jagannātha’s
intimate service. The crown prince declined the throne because he wanted only to continue
taking darśana of Lord Jagannātha’s lotus face; he did not even want the privileged services
granted to the king.
BB 2.1.198
TEXT 198
tatrābhiṣiktaḥ pṛṣṭasyānujṣayā jagad-īśituḥ
samparīkṣya mahā-rājacihnāni sacivair aham
permission; jagat-īśituḥ—of the Lord of the universe; samparīkṣya—observing; mahā-rāja—
of a great king; cihnāni—the signs; sacivaiḥ—by the ministers; aham—I.
The ministers consulted the Lord of the universe and took His command, and after observing
in me the signs of a mahārāja they anointed me king.
Assembled before Lord Jagannātha, the ministers humbly submitted, “The eldest prince is so
attached to seeing Your lotus face that he has no interest in ruling. And as a matter of
principle, none of the younger princes should assume the throne as long as the eldest is alive.
None of the king’s other family members display the character of a great ruler. But if no one
becomes king, law and order in the country cannot be maintained even for a short time. Please
tell us whom we should place on the throne.”
In reply Lord Jagannātha commanded them, “One of My devotees, a young cowherd born at
Śrī Govardhana, has come here. You should crown him.” Or else He told them, “Crown
whomever you find has the signs of a mahārāja.” In this way the Supreme Lord, the
compassionate friend of the wretched, the most clever maker of all arrangements, ordered the
ministers to look for a person with kingly symptoms, symptoms they duly found in Gopakumāra. Thus neither the princes nor others had an opportunity to become envious of him.
Some of the marks of royalty are mentioned in reference to Emperor Bharata, the son of
Śakuntalā, in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (9.20.24). Cakraṁ dakṣiṇa-haste ’sya/ padma-kośo ’sya
pādayoḥ: “He had the mark of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s disc on the palm of his right hand and the mark
of a lotus whorl on the soles of his feet.”
BB 2.1.199
TEXT 199
vividhā vardhitās tasya
mayā pūjā mahotsavāḥ
viśeṣato mahā-yātrā
dvādaśātrāpi guṇḍicā
vividhāḥ—various; vardhitāḥ—improved; tasya—His; mayā—by me; pūjā—ceremonies of
worship; mahā-utsavāḥ—and festivals; viśeṣataḥ—especially; mahā-yātrāḥ—the major
festivals; dvādaśa—twelve; atra—among them; api—also; guṇḍicā—the Guṇḍicā festival.
I tried to improve the worship and various festivals of Lord Jagannātha in Purī, especially His
twelve major festivals, most important among them the Guṇḍicā Ratha-yātrā.
In each of the twelve months, beginning with Phālguna, Lord Jagannātha enjoys a major
festival in His temple, such as His swing festival, candana festival, bathing festival, Rathayātrā, and damanaka, “the festival of breaking the damanaka tree.” As King of Purī, Gopakumāra increased the opulence of all these celebrations. He gave the most attention to
improving Lord Jagannātha’s Ratha-yātrā to the Guṇḍicā temple.
BB 2.1.200
TEXT 200
pṛthivyāḥ sādhavaḥ sarve
militā yatra vargaśaḥ
premṇonmattā ivekṣyante
pṛthivyāḥ—of the world; sādhavaḥ—saintly persons; sarve—all; militāḥ—gathered; yatra—
during which; vargaśaḥ—in groups; premṇā—with pure love of God; unmattāḥ—insane;
iva—as if; īkṣyante—they would be seen; nṛtya—in dancing; gīta-ādi—singing and so on; tatparāḥ—absorbed.
For these festivals, saintly persons gathered in groups from around the world. Absorbed in
dancing, singing, and so on, they appeared as if insane with love of God.
The sādhus who visited Puruṣottama-kṣetra belonged to many different sampradāyas, but they
would all assemble happily, in their own saṅkīrtana groups, for Lord Jagannātha’s festivals.
BB 2.1.201
TEXT 201
rājyaṁ rājopabhogyaṁ ca
sevāṁ kurve nijecchayā
rājyam—the kingdom; rāja—royal; upabhogyam—facilities for enjoyment; ca—and;
jagannātha—of Lord Jagannātha; pada-abjayoḥ—at the lotus feet; samarpya—offering;
akiṣcanatvena—in the mood of having no possessions; sevām—service; kurve—I did; nijaicchayā—as I liked.
I offered the kingdom, with all its royal enjoyments, at the lotus feet of Jagannātha. In a
completely dependent mood, I took my pleasure in simply serving the Lord.
Even as King of Purī, Gopa-kumāra retained his innocence. He remained simple-hearted, as
he had always been; but because he was the ultimate authority among the servants of Lord
Jagannātha, he could serve the Lord whenever and however he wanted.
BB 2.1.202
TEXT 202
nijaiḥ priya-tamair nityasevakaiḥ saha sa prabhuḥ
narma-goṣṭhīḥ vitanute
prema-krīḍāṁ ca karhicit
nijaiḥ—His own; priya-tamaiḥ—dearest; nitya—permanent; sevakaiḥ—the servants; saha—
along with; saḥ—He; prabhuḥ—the Lord; narma-goṣṭhīḥ—confidential talks; vitanute—
would exhibit; prema-krīḍām—loving pastimes; ca—and; karhicit—sometimes.
With His dearest permanent servants, the Lord enjoyed confidential talks and sometimes
displayed intimate loving pastimes.
Now wanting Gopa-kumāra to make another change in his life, Lord Jagannātha arranged for
a seed of discontent to be planted in his heart. Texts 202 through 205 thus describe how
Gopa-kumāra began to feel jealous of the hereditary Orissan servants of Jagannātha, to whom
the Lord extended special privileges.
BB 2.1.203
TEXT 203
yadā vā līlayā sthāṇubhāvaṁ bhajati kautukī
prīṇanty athāpi sāścaryās
te tal-līlānusāriṇaḥ
yadā—when; vā—or; līlayā—as His pastime; sthāṇu—of being immobile; bhāvam—the
mood; bhajati—He would assume; kautukī—playful; prīṇanti—were delighted; atha api—
nonetheless; sa-āścaryāḥ—amazed; te—they; tat—such; līlā—of the pastimes; anusāriṇaḥ—
following in the mood.
Or even when the playful Lord Jagannātha stood still as His pastime, His closest devotees
gave themselves to His intimate mood, amazed at His greatness and delighted in love.
In the private company of the Orissan pūjārīs, Lord Jagannātha would sometimes talk and
engage in various personal exchanges. But even when He remained motionless and silent on
the altar, those most intimate devotees still had very special relationships with Him. The Lord
is not a lifeless log; He only pretends to be like that. Every chance He gets, He indulges in all
sorts of sports and tricks with His devotees. The pūjārīs were astonished to see how Lord
Jagannātha at one moment acts like a naughty child and the next poses as an immobile Deity.
But rather than become morose when Jagannātha was not active and speaking to them, the
pūjārīs were happy to go along with whatever pastime the Lord was playing at the moment, be
it active or passive.
BB 2.1.204
TEXT 204
mamāpi tatra tatrāśā
syād athāgantuko ’smy aham
tad-eka-niṣṭho nāpi syāṁ
kathaṁ tat-tat-prasāda-bhāk
mama—my; api—though; tatra tatra—for those (special reciprocations); āśā—hope; syāt—
there would be; atha—however; āgantukaḥ—recently arrived; asmi—am; aham—I; tat—to
Him; eka-niṣṭhaḥ—exclusively devoted; na—not; api—also; syām—can I be; katham—how;
tat-tat—in those particular forms; prasāda—of the mercy; bhāk—a recipient.
I also wanted to join in those special pastimes, but being just a newcomer, without exclusive
devotion to Lord Jagannātha, how could I receive His mercy in those special ways?
Gopa-kumāra thought himself unfit even to desire to join in Lord Jagannātha’s intimate talks
and pastimes with His servants. In fact, he thought that the very desire arose in his heart from
jealousy. No wonder, therefore, he felt distressed. He had only recently entered Jagannātha’s
service and was not one of the hereditary pūjārīs. Nor did he have fixed, unalloyed devotion
to the Lord of Nīlācala, because his heart was still attracted to Śrī Vṛndāvana forest and the
other places of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes in Vraja-bhūmi.
BB 2.1.205
TEXT 205
tathāpy utkala-bhaktānāṁ
saṣjanyamānayā tat-tadāśayādhiḥ kilodbhavet
tathā api—even so; utkala-bhaktānām—of the Orissan devotees; tat-tat—that varied;
saubhāgya—of good fortune; bhāvanaiḥ—by my thoughts; saṣjanyamānayā—which
appeared; tat-tat—various; āśayā—by the desires; ādhiḥ—mental pain; kila—indeed;
udbhavet—would arise.
Even so, I went through anguish when I thought of the kinds of good fortune the Orissan
devotees enjoyed and when I reflected in various ways on my desire to be like those devotees.
BB 2.1.206
TEXT 206
nāma-saṅkīrtana-stotragītāni bhagavat-puraḥ
śrūyamāṇāni dunvanti
mathurā-smārakāṇi mām
nāma-saṅkīrtana—congregational chanting of the Lord’s names; stotra—prayers; gītāni—and
songs; bhagavat-puraḥ—in front of the Lord; śrūyamāṇāni—being heard; dunvanti—would
disturb; mathurā—of Mathurā; smārakāṇi—causes of remembering; mām—me.
When I heard the songs, prayers, and congregational chanting of the Lord’s names in front of
Lord Jagannātha, I was disturbed because they reminded me of Mathurā.
In the presence of Lord Jagannātha, devotees would chant names of the Lord like Mathurānātha, Vṛndāvana-candra, and Govardhanoddhāraṇa. They would recite ancient prayers from
the Purāṇas and prayers by modern authors. They would sing properly composed songs, with
suitable melody and rhythm. Hearing those auspicious sounds troubled Gopa-kumāra’s mind
because they made him more vividly remember Mathurā and started him thinking about going
BB 2.1.207
TEXT 207
sādhu-saṅga-balād gatvā
dṛṣṭe rājīva-locane
sarvaḥ śoko vilīyeta
na syāj jigamiṣā kvacit
sādhu-saṅga—of the association of saintly devotees; balāt—on the strength; gatvā—going;
dṛṣṭe—being seen; rājīva-locane—the lotus-eyed Lord; sarvaḥ—all; śokaḥ—sorrow;
vilīyeta—would dissipate; na syāt—there would not be; jigamiṣā—desire to go; kvacit—
Blessed by the strength of my closeness with saintly devotees, I was able to go see the lotuseyed Lord, and whenever I went to see Him all my sorrow would dissolve. Thus I never
wanted to go anywhere else.
BB 2.1.208
TEXT 208
tathāpi mama sāmrājyasamparkeṇa hṛdi svataḥ
samyaṅ nodeti pūrva-vat
tathā api—nonetheless; mama—my; sāmrājya—with ruling the kingdom; samparkeṇa—
because of the connection; hṛdi—in my heart; svataḥ—spontaneously; bhagavat—of the Lord;
darśana—from seeing; ānandaḥ—ecstasy; samyak—complete; na udeti—would not arise;
pūrva-vat—like before.
But because of my involvement with ruling the kingdom, my heart could never feel the
complete spontaneous ecstasy it used to feel from seeing the Lord.
By the mercy of the great devotees of Purī, Gopa-kumāra got repeated darśana of the allblissful Lord Jagannātha, and every visit destroyed his sorrow. Only by the powerful mercy of
the devotees was he able to relish the beauty of the Lord; on the strength of his own spiritual
accomplishments alone he would never have overcome his distress. Yet his happiness was
never as full as before, because he was entangled in the management of the kingdom. Despite
having officially offered the kingdom at the feet of Lord Jagannātha, he was still burdened by
the many anxieties of a king.
BB 2.1.209
TEXT 209
yātrā-mahotsavāṁś cāham
āvṛto rāja-maṇḍalaiḥ
sukhaṁ kalayituṁ neśe
svecchayā bahudhā bhajan
yātrā—at the Ratha-yātrā; mahā-utsavān—and big festivals; ca—and; aham—I; āvṛtaḥ—
surrounded; rāja-maṇḍalaiḥ—by the royal entourage; sukham—freely; kalayitum—to spend
the time; na īśe—I was not able; sva-icchayā—according to my free desire; bahudhā—in
various ways; bhajan—worshiping.
At the Ratha-yātrā and other big festivals, I was surrounded by my royal entourage and unable
to spend time enjoying the occasions. And I could no longer worship Lord Jagannātha
according to my own desire in the various ways I had before.
As king, Gopa-kumāra had opportunities to sweep the road in front of Lord Jagannātha’s cart,
wipe the Lord’s face, and offer betel nut to His mouth, but the pleasure he felt from these
services was constrained by the presence of the crowds.
BB 2.1.210
TEXT 210
rājṣo ’patyeṣv amātyeṣu
bandhuṣv api samarpya tam
rājya-bhāraṁ svayaṁ prāg-vad
udāsīnatayā sthitaḥ
rājṣaḥ—of the king; apatyeṣu—among the children; amātyeṣu—ministers; bandhuṣu—
relatives; api—also; samarpya—offering; tam—that; rājya—of ruling the kingdom; bhāram—
the burden; svayam—alone; prāk-vat—as before; udāsīnatayā—as uninvolved; sthitaḥ—
So I handed over the burden of ruling the kingdom to the sons, ministers, and relatives of the
previous king, and as before I became uninvolved and aloof.
At last he abdicated the throne.
BB 2.1.211
TEXT 211
sukhaṁ raho japaṁ kurvan
samīpe svecchayā sevām
ācarann avasaṁ tataḥ
sukham—happily; rahaḥ—in private; japam—the chanting of my mantra; kurvan—
performing; jagannātha—of Lord Jagannātha; pada-abjayoḥ—the lotus feet; samīpe—nearby;
sva-icchayā—as I liked; sevām—service; ācaran—performing; avasam—I resided; tataḥ—
from that time.
I continued living nearby, happily chanting my mantra in private and offering service at the
lotus feet of Lord Jagannātha as I liked.
BB 2.1.212
TEXT 212
tathāpi loka-sammānādaratas tādṛśaṁ sukham
na labheya vinirviṇṇamanās tatrābhavaṁ sthitau
tathā api—still; loka—from the populace; sammāna—because of the honor; ādarataḥ—and
respect; tādṛśam—such; sukham—happiness; na labheya—I could not obtain; vinirviṇṇa—
uninterested; manāḥ—in my mind; tatra—there; abhavam—I became; sthitau—in remaining.
But because of the honor and respect I received from the populace, I could no longer feel
happiness in Purī. And so I lost interest in staying there.
Gopa-kumāra tried to refuse formal worship from his former subjects, but even when they
obliged him, dispensing with formalities, they still treated him with great respect.
BB 2.1.213
TEXT 213
gantuṁ vṛndāvanaṁ prātar
ājṣārthaṁ purataḥ prabhoḥ
gataḥ śrīman-mukhaṁ paśyan
sarvaṁ tad vismarāmy aho
gantum—to go; vṛndāvanam—to Vṛndāvana; prātaḥ—early in the morning; ājṣā-artham—in
order to ask permission; purataḥ—in front; prabhoḥ—of Lord Jagannātha; gataḥ—having
gone; śrīmat-mukham—His beautiful face; paśyan—seeing; sarvam—all; tat—that;
vismarāmi—I would forget; aho—oh.
Early in the morning, I went before Lord Jagannātha to ask His permission to leave for
Vṛndāvana; but oh, when I saw His beautiful face I forgot all my plans.
Gopa-kumāra reasoned like this: “The Lord of the universe, for whose sake I left Vrajabhūmi, I have obtained directly here. How is it right for me to abandon Him, and how can I
find the power to do such a thing? And even if the same Lord wants to bring me back to His
favorite playground Vṛndāvana to show me some special mercy, I still cannot go away from
here without first getting His express permission.” But when Gopa-kumāra went before Lord
Jagannātha in the temple, as soon as he saw the Lord’s divine face he forgot everything—his
mental pain, the remembrance of Vṛndāvana that caused the pain, and his intention to ask the
Lord’s permission to go. This pattern occurred day after day.
BB 2.1.214
TEXT 214
evaṁ saṁvatsare jāte
mayā tatraikadā śrutam
mathurāyāḥ prāyātebhyo
’tratya-vṛttaṁ viśeṣataḥ
evam—thus; saṁvatsare—a year; jāte—having passed; mayā—by me; tatra—there; ekadā—
once; śrutam—heard; mathurāyāḥ—from Mathurā; prāyātebhyaḥ—from persons who had
come; atratya—of this place; vṛttam—news; viśeṣataḥ—in detail.
Thus one year passed, and then one day I heard some detailed news of Mathurā from visitors
who had come from there.
Gopa-kumāra heard these visitors describe the splendor of the cows, cowherds, birds, trees,
forest animals, and other residents of such neighborhoods as Śrī Vṛndāvana and Govardhana.
BB 2.1.215
TEXT 215
śoka-duḥkhāturaṁ rātrau
śayānaṁ māṁ mahā-prabhuḥ
idam ājṣāpayām āsa
para-duḥkhena kātaraḥ
śoka—by sorrow; duḥkha—and pain;~~ āturam—tormented; rātrau—at night; śayānam—
who was lying in bed; mām—me; mahā-prabhuḥ—the Supreme Lord Jagannātha; idam—this;
ājṣāpayām āsa—ordered; para—of others; duḥkhena—by the suffering; kātaraḥ—who is
That night as I was lying in bed, tormented by sorrow and pain, the Supreme Lord Jagannātha,
who is pained by the suffering of others, gave me the following command.
BB 2.1.216
TEXT 216
bho gopa-nandana kṣetram
idaṁ mama yathā priyam
tathā śrī-mathurā ’thāsau
janma-bhūmir viśeṣataḥ
bhoḥ gopa-nandana—O son of a cowherd; kṣetram—holy city; idam—this; mama—My;
yathā—as; priyam—dear; tathā—so; śrī-mathurā—Śrī Mathurā; atha—thus; asau—this;
janma-bhūmiḥ—birthplace; viśeṣataḥ—especially.
“As dear as this holy city is to Me, O son of a cowherd, My birthplace, Śrī Mathurā, is even
more dear.
By calling His devotee gopa-nandana, Lord Jagannātha subtly hinted that it was fitting for
him to live in Vraja-bhūmi.
BB 2.1.217
TEXT 217
bālya-līlā-sthalībhiś ca
tābhis tābhir alaṅkṛtā
nivasāmi yathātrāhaṁ
tathā tatrāpi vibhraman
bālya-līlā—of childhood pastimes; sthalībhiḥ—with sites; ca—and; tābhiḥ—various;
alaṅkṛtā—decorated; nivasāmi—live; yathā—as; atra—here; aham—I; tathā—so; tatra—
there; api—also; vibhraman—wandering.
“Mathurā is adorned with the various sites of My childhood pastimes. Just as I live always
here in Purī, wandering about everywhere, so do I in Mathurā.
Mathurā is even more dear to the Personality of Godhead than Puruṣottama-kṣetra because in
Mathurā He displayed His birth and childhood pastimes. Childhood technically means the
years before maturity, which are divided into the three phases called kaumāra, paugaṇḍa, and
kaiśora. Many scriptural statements describe human life as passing through birth, youth, and
old age. For example:
janma bālyaṁ tataḥ sar
jantuḥ prāpnoti yauvana
avyāhataiva bhavati
tato ’nu-divasaṁ jarā
“Every creature is born, is then a child, and then a youth. And if his life is not interrupted
prematurely, he daily approaches old age.”
Gopa-kumāra might object that here in Purī the Lord is visible whereas in Mathurā He is not.
But Lord Jagannātha here answers that He certainly lives in Mathurā, wandering about and
enjoying with His devotees.
BB 2.1.218
TEXT 218
sadā dolāyamānātmā
kathaṁ tad anutapyase
tatraiva gaccha kāle māṁ
tad-rūpaṁ drakṣyasi dhruvam
sadā—constantly; dolāyamāna—equivocating; ātmā—your mind; katham—why; tat—
therefore; anutapyase—do you lament; tatra—there; eva—only; gaccha—go; kāle—in due
course of time; mām—Me; tat-rūpam—in that form; drakṣyasi—you will see; dhruvam—with
“Why constantly lament, wavering between one decision and another? Just go to Mathurā,
and in time you will surely see Me in the form you desire.”
The form of the Lord that Gopa-kumāra cherishes in his meditation is that of Śrī Madanagopāla-deva. Lord Jagannātha assures Gopa-kumāra, “You will see Me in that form at the
proper time in Mathurā-bhūmi. Thereafter, you will never again suffer sorrow or discontent.”
BB 2.1.219
TEXT 219
ājṣā-mālāṁ prātar ādāya pūjāviprair vāse me samāgatya dattām
kaṇṭhe baddhvā prasthito vīkṣya cakraṁ
natvāthāpto māthuraṁ deśam etam
ājṣā—indicating the order; mālām—a garland; prātaḥ—in the early morning; ādāya—
receiving; pūjā-vipraiḥ—by the brāhmaṇas who worshiped the Lord; vāse—at the residence;
me—my; samāgatya—who came; dattām—given; kaṇṭhe—on my neck; baddhvā—placing it;
prasthitaḥ—departed; vīkṣya—seeing; cakram—the disc; natvā—bowing down; atha—then;
āptaḥ—reached; māthuram—of Mathurā; deśam—the land; etam—this.
Early that morning at my residence I received a flower garland from some pūjārī brāhmaṇas,
indicating the Lord’s command. I placed the garland on my neck and departed, bowing down
to the cakra on top of the temple as I saw it for the last time. And in that way I came to this
land of Mathurā.
Just in case Gopa-kumāra might judge his dream false, Lord Jagannātha sent a garland from
His morning pūjā as a sign of His approval. This confirmed that the Lord wanted him to go to
Mathurā. Lord Jagannātha appeared on earth mainly to display His pastime of accepting
formal worship in His temple, and His brāhmaṇa pūjārīs shared in this pastime. The Lord
ordered His pūjārīs to take the garland off His neck and bring it to Gopa-kumāra. And rather
than go to the temple to see the Lord’s lotus face, Gopa-kumāra left at once for Mathurā.
Thus ends the First Chapter of Part Two of Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī’s Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta,
entitled “Vairāgya: Renunciation.”
BB 2. Jṣāna: Knowledge
2. Jṣāna: Knowledge
BB 2.2.1
śrī-gopa-kumāra uvāca
māthurottama viśrāntau
snātvā vṛndāvanaṁ gataḥ
atra govardhanādau ca
yathā-kāmaṁ paribhraman
śrī-gopa-kumāraḥ uvāca—Śrī Gopa-kumāra said; māthura—of the Mathurā brāhmaṇas;
uttama—O best; viśrāntau—at Viśrānti-ghāṭa; snātvā—after bathing; vṛndāvanam—to
Vṛndāvana; gataḥ—came; atra—here; govardhana-ādau—in such places as Govardhana; ca—
and; yathā-kāmam—as I desired; paribhraman—wandering.
Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: O best of the Mathurā brāhmaṇas, after bathing at Viśrānti-ghāṭa I
came to Vṛndāvana. Here I wandered freely in such places as Govardhana.
This second chapter describes the glories of Svargaloka and the other higher planets in the
universe. It compares inward meditation on the Supreme Lord with external vision of Him,
and devotional service with liberation.
Viśrānti-ghāṭa (Viśrāma-ghāṭa) is the principal holy site in Mathurā City. Pilgrims usually
begin their visits to Mathurā with a bath at Viśrāma-ghāṭa.
BB 2.2.2
pibaṁś ca go-rasaṁ pūrvabāndhavais tair alakṣitaḥ
bhajan sva-japyam anayaṁ
dināni katicit sukham
piban—drinking; ca—and; go-rasam—the nectar from the cows; pūrva—previous;
bāndhavaiḥ—with my friends; taiḥ—by them; alakṣitaḥ—unnoticed; bhajan—worshiping;
sva-japyam—the mantra I was supposed to chant; anayam—I passed; dināni—days; katicit—
several; sukham—happily.
Unnoticed by my former friends, in their company I drank the nectar from the cows and
happily passed a number of days worshiping my mantra.
Gopa-kumāra’s former friends did not recognize him, because he was dressed like a foreigner.
Thus his association with them at this time was not very close.
BB 2.2.3
atha sandarśanotkaṇṭhā
jagad-īśasya sājani
yayedaṁ śūnya-vad vīkṣya
puruṣottamam asmaram
atha—then; sandarśana—for seeing in person; utkaṇṭhā—hankering; jagat-īśasya—the Lord
of the universe; sā—that; ajani—appeared; yayā—by which; idam—this; śūnya-vat—as if
empty; vīkṣya—seeing; puruṣottamam—Puruṣottama-kṣetra; asmaram—I remembered.
But then a hankering to see the Lord of the universe arose in me that made this land of
Mathurā seem vacant. I remembered Puruṣottama-kṣetra.
To Gopa-kumāra’s eyes his worshipable Lord seemed absent from Mathurā-bhūmi, but this
perception was false. In fact, as implied here by the suffix -vat (“as if”) in śūnya-vat (“as if
empty”), the Lord of the universe is eternally present in the holy land of Mathurā. ŚrīmadBhāgavatam repeatedly confirms this truth.
For example, in the Fourth Canto (4.8.42) we find:
puṇyaṁ madhu-vanaṁ yatra
sānnidhyaṁ nityadā hareḥ
“The forest Madhuvana is most auspicious because there the Personality of Godhead Hari is
always present.”
Similarly in the Tenth Canto (10.1.28):
mathurā bhagavān yatra
nityaṁ sannihito hariḥ
“In Mathurā Lord Hari is always present.”
And also in the Tenth Canto (10.44.13):
puṇyā bata vraja-bhuvo yad ayaṁ nṛ-liṅg
gūḍhaḥ purāṇa-puruṣo vana-citra-mālyaḥgāḥ
pālayan saha-balaḥ kvaṇayaṁś ca veṇuṁ
vikrīḍayāṣcati giritra-ramārcitāṅghriḥ
“How pious are the tracts of land in Vraja, for there the primeval Personality of Godhead,
disguising Himself with human traits, wanders about, enacting His many pastimes! Adorned
with wonderfully variegated forest garlands, He whose feet are worshiped by Lord Śiva and
the goddess Ramā vibrates His flute as He tends the cows in the company of Balarāma.” In
the last line of this verse, the verb aṣcati (“He wanders”) is in the present tense, indicating that
when this verse was spoken by the women of Mathurā City, after Kṛṣṇa had been brought
there by Akrūra, Kṛṣṇa was still present in Vraja. The conclusion is that Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes of
tending the cows and playing with His friends in the forests of Vraja are eternal.
Gopa-kumāra, however, had not yet developed the spiritual eyes to see Kṛṣṇa’s presence in
Vraja. So he was thinking about going back to Jagannātha Purī, where the Lord is always
visible to everyone. Because he had not yet gained Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s special favor, he lacked the
taste of vraja-bhāva and wanted to go elsewhere. Even after he visited various places of
Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes in Vraja and felt something special, his realizations were somehow covered,
and he felt dissatisfied at not seeing his Lord. But eventually he will achieve the perfection of
all his desires in Vṛndāvana, where he will remain permanently, with perfect faith and
BB 2.2.4
ārtas tatra jagannāthaṁ
draṣṭum oḍhrān punar vrajan
pathi gaṅgā-taṭe ’paśyaṁ
dharmācāra-parān dvijān
ārtaḥ—distressed; tatra—there; jagannātham—Lord Jagannātha; draṣṭum—to see; oḍhrān—to
Orissa; punaḥ—again; vrajan—traveling; pathi—on the path; gaṅgā-taṭe—on the shore of the
Gaṅgā; apaśyam—I saw; dharma-ācāra—to the execution of religious duties; parān—
dedicated; dvijān—brāhmaṇas.
In great anxiety I set off once more for Orissa to see Lord Jagannātha. And on the path along
the shore of the Gaṅgā I met some brāhmaṇas who were fixed in their religious duties.
Gopa-kumāra was anxious to see Lord Jagannātha and also unhappy about leaving Vraja.
BB 2.2.5
tebhyaś cāśrauṣam adbhutam
svargo nāmordhva-deśe ’sti
deva-loko ’ntarīkṣataḥ
vicitra—various; śāstra—in scriptures; vijṣebhyaḥ—who were learned; tebhyaḥ—from them;
ca—and; aśrauṣam—I heard; adbhutam—amazing; svargaḥ nāma—called Svarga; ūrdhvadeśe—in the region above; asti—there is; deva—of the demigods; lokaḥ—the world;
antarīkṣataḥ—above the upper atmosphere.
From those brāhmaṇas, who were learned in various kinds of scripture, I heard something
amazing—that above the upper atmosphere there is a world of demigods called Svarga.
Having never received a proper education, Gopa-kumāra did not even know that there are
upper regions of the universe populated by superhuman civilizations. Almost everyone born
in India hears about heaven and other wonders of the universe, because even the popular
culture is based on the authority of the Vedic scriptures. But Gopa-kumāra, in his simple life
as a cowherd at Govardhana, had heard nothing about these things. Now he met some
brāhmaṇas on the road who were not only well versed in the śrutis, smṛtis, epics, Purāṇas, and
philosophical texts but were glad to share what they knew. Texts 5 through 11 describe what
those brāhmaṇas told him.
BB 2.2.6
vimānāvalibhiḥ śrīmān
nirbhayo duḥkha-varjitaḥ
vimāna—of airplanes; āvalibhiḥ—with rows; śrīmān—splendid; nirbhayaḥ—fearless;
duḥkha—of misery; varjitaḥ—devoid; jarā—old age; maraṇa—death; roga-ādi—disease and
so on; doṣa-varga—all kinds of defects; bahiḥ-kṛtaḥ—excluding.
That world is splendid with formations of celestial airplanes. It is a fearless place, devoid of
misery and impervious to faults like disease, old age, and death.
The demigods who reside on Svargaloka travel at will on airplanes propelled by the wind, and
they fear neither disease nor old age nor death, which always threaten and overcome the
residents of the lower worlds.
BB 2.2.7
mahā-sukha-mayo labhyaḥ
puṇyair atrottamaiḥ kṛtaiḥ
yasya śakro ’dhipo jyāyān
bhrātā śrī-jagad-īśituḥ
mahā-sukha—with the greatest happiness; mayaḥ—filled; labhyaḥ—obtainable; puṇyaiḥ—by
pious persons; atra—in this world; uttamaiḥ—most excellent; kṛtaiḥ—by acts; yasya—whose;
śakraḥ—Indra; adhipaḥ—the ruler; jyāyān—elder; bhrātā—the brother; śrī-jagat-īśituḥ—of
the divine Lord of the universe.
That Svarga, pervaded by the greatest happiness, one can attain by the highest acts of piety in
this world. Its ruler is Śakra [Indra], the elder brother of the Lord of the universe.
Svargaloka is glorious because the life enjoyed there is of superior quality; because only by
exceptional efforts can one achieve it; and because its ruler is the great Indra. Lord Viṣṇu in
His form of Vāmanadeva is the younger brother of King Indra.
BB 2.2.8-9
yady apy asti bila-svargo
bhauma-svargaś ca tad-dvīpavarṣādiṣu pade pade
tathāpy ūrdhva-taro loko
divyas tābhyāṁ viśiṣyate
yadi api—although; asti—there is; bila-svargaḥ—the subterranean heaven; viṣṇu—by Lord
Viṣṇu; śeṣa-ādi—Ananta Śeṣa and others; alaṅkṛtaḥ—adorned; bhauma-svargaḥ—the earthly
heaven; ca—and; tat—of that region; dvīpa-varṣa-ādiṣu—of dvīpas, varṣas, and so on; pade
pade—in various locations; vicitra—various; rūpa—in forms; śrī-kṛṣṇa—of Śrī Kṛṣṇa; pūjāutsava—with festive worship; virājitaḥ—resplendent; tathā api—nonetheless; ūrdhva-taraḥ—
higher; lokaḥ—the world; divyaḥ—of heaven; tābhyām—to both of these; viśiṣyate—is
Of course, there are subterranean heavens, adorned with the presence of incarnations like
Lord Viṣṇu and Ananta Śeṣa, and there are heavens on earth in various dvīpas, varṣas, and
other regions, heavens resplendent with the festive worship of Śrī Kṛṣṇa in various forms.
Nonetheless, the heavenly world in the higher realms is still superior.
The Fifth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam gives information of heavens, called Bila-svargas,
below the earthly planetary system and tells of heavens on the earthly system itself. In the
subterranean heavens, Viṣṇu is present on Sutala-loka as the doorkeeper of Bali Mahārāja and
on Pātāla-loka as Śeṣa, the superintendent of the seventh region below the earth. The word ādi
(“and so on”) in the phrase viṣṇu-śeṣādy-alaṅkṛtaḥ indicates that in the Bila-svargas there are
other appearances of Viṣṇu as well. Thus we find in Ṛṣi Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa that Śrī Kapila,
who broke Rāvaṇa’s intoxicated pride, resides on Atala-loka, and that Lord Śiva, as Śrī
Rudra, resides on Vitala.
According to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the earthly planetary system, Bhū-maṇḍala, consists of
various dvīpas, or islands, and their subdivisions, tracts of land known as varṣas. On these
dvīpas and varṣas the Lord is worshiped in various incarnations. For example, on Plakṣadvīpa the Supreme Lord is worshiped as Sūryadeva, on Ilāvṛta-varṣa as Śrī Saṅkarṣaṇa, and
on Bhadrāśva-varṣa as Śrī Hayagrīva. The Lord is also worshiped in the Milk Ocean and other
special places.
Yet despite this varied worship of the Lord in the earthly and subterranean heavens, the
Svargaloka in the upper part of the universe holds a special position. It is ūrdhva-tara, superior
to the other heavens and physically higher. And it is divya, the home of the very powerful
devas. Gopa-kumāra need not think about going to any other heavenly planet.
BB 2.2.10
yasmin śrī-jagad-īśo ’sti
sākṣād aditi-nandanaḥ
tasyopendrasya vārtā ca
śrī-viṣṇor adbhutā śrutā
yasmin—in which; śrī-jagat-īśaḥ—the divine Lord of the universe; asti—is present; sākṣāt—
personally; aditi-nandanaḥ—the darling son of Aditi; tasya—of Him; upendrasya—as
Upendra; vārtā—accounts; ca—and; śrī-viṣṇoḥ—of Śrī Viṣṇu; adbhutā—wonderful; śrutā—
In that heaven the Lord of the universe is present in person as the darling son of Aditi. I heard
about that wonderful appearance of Śrī Viṣṇu as Upendra.
The name Upendra literally means “He who comes after Indra,” or in other words, Indra’s
younger brother. Or, understanding the prefix upa to mean “above,” Upendra may also mean
“greater than Indra.” Indra himself gives this interpretation in Śrī Hari-vaṁśa (2.19.46):
mamopari yathendras tvaṁ
sthāpito gobhir īśvaraḥ
upendra iti kṛṣṇa tvāṁ
gāsyanti divi devatāḥ
“Because the cows have established You as the Indra above me, the supreme controller, the
demigods in heaven, O Kṛṣṇa, will call You Upendra.”
BB 2.2.11
āruhya pakṣīndram itas tato ’sau
krīḍan vinighnann asurān mano-jṣaiḥ
līlā-vacobhī ramayann ajasraṁ
devān nija-bhrātṛtayārcyate taiḥ
āruhya—mounting; pakṣi-indram—the king of birds, Garuḍa; itaḥ tataḥ—here and there;
asau—His; krīḍan—sporting; vinighnan—killing; asurān—demons; manaḥ-jṣaiḥ—charming;
līlā—with pastimes; vacobhiḥ—and with words; ramayan—pleasing; ajasram—completely;
devān—the demigods; nija—their own; bhrātṛtayā—as the brother; arcyate—He is worshiped;
taiḥ—by them.
Mounting the king of birds, He goes here and there to kill demons as a sport. With His
wonderful pastimes and pleasing words He completely satisfies the demigods. They worship
Him as their own brother.
Gopa-kumāra has not witnessed such wonderful pastimes of the Personality of Godhead in
any of the places he has gone to thus far. In Svargaloka he will be able to see Lord Vāmana
flying on His carrier, Garuḍa, traveling to display pastimes in various places.
BB 2.2.12
tad-darśane jāta-manorathākulaḥ
saṅkalpa-pūrvaṁ sva-japaṁ samācaran
sv-alpena kālena vimānam āgataṁ
mudāham āruhya gatas tri-piṣṭapam
tat—of Him; darśane—for the seeing; jāta—developed; manaḥ-ratha—because of the desire;
ākulaḥ—anxious; saṅkalpa-pūrvam—with this intention; sva-japam—the chanting of my
vimānam—a celestial airplane; āgatam—arrived; mudā—with joy; aham—I; āruhya—
mounting; gataḥ—went; tri-piṣṭapam—to the heavenly kingdom.
Eager to see Him, I chanted my mantra specifically for that purpose. In a very short time a
celestial airplane arrived. I climbed aboard and joyfully flew to the heavenly kingdom.
Having an intense desire to fulfill, Gopa-kumāra now felt inspired to chant with special
attention, correctly following all the rules for worship with the mantra. And so his desire to go
to Svargaloka was quickly achieved.
BB 2.2.13
pūrvaṁ gaṅgā-taṭa-nṛpa-gṛhe yasya dṛṣṭā pratiṣṭhā
taṁ śrī-viṣṇuṁ sura-gaṇa-vṛtaṁ sac-cid-ānanda-sāndram
tatrāpaśyaṁ rucira-garuḍa-skandha-siṁhāsana-sthaṁ
vīṇā-gītaṁ madhura-madhuraṁ nāradasyārcayantam
pūrvam—previously; gaṅgā-taṭa—on the shore of the Gaṅgā; nṛpa—of the king; gṛhe—in the
palace; yasya—whose; dṛṣṭā—seen; pratiṣṭhā—the established worship; tam—Him; śrīviṣṇum—Śrī Viṣṇu; sura-gaṇa—by groups of demigods; vṛtam—surrounded; sat-cit-
ānanda—of eternity, knowledge, and bliss; sāndram—the embodiment; tatra—there;
apaśyam—I saw; rucira—attractive; garuḍa-skandha—of the shoulder of Garuḍa; siṁhaāsana—on the royal throne; stham—situated; vīṇā-gītam—the music of the vīṇā; madhuramadhuram—very sweet; nāradasya—of Nārada; arcayantam—praising.
There I saw the same Śrī Viṣṇu whom earlier I had seen worshiped in the king’s palace on the
shore of the Gaṅgā. That Lord, the concentrated embodiment of eternity, knowledge, and
bliss, was seated on His royal throne—the attractive shoulders of Garuḍa. Surrounded by
hosts of demigods, the Lord praised the very sweet music of Nārada’s vīṇā.
It seemed to Gopa-kumāra that the Deity he had seen before in the king’s palace on earth was
a very faithful image of the Lord he was seeing now in person. The Lord carried the same
conchshell, disc, and other weapons in His four hands, and He had the same śyāma
complexion and youthful age. Yet in Svargaloka He appeared even more beautiful and
charming. And unlike the Deity on earth, here the Lord was surrounded by many demigods.
Gopa-kumāra recognized Him as the eternal Truth, the embodiment of knowledge and
wonderful bliss, the Absolute Truth in its concentrated essence, more brilliant than the sun. As
the greatest of kings, the Lord took His royal seat on the shoulders of Garuḍa and gracefully
acknowledged the songs of Nārada.
BB 2.2.14
prāpya prāpyaṁ draṣṭum iṣṭaṁ ca dṛṣṭvā
tatrātmānaṁ manyamānaḥ kṛtārtham
dūrād bhūyo daṇḍa-vad vandamānas
tenāhūto ’nugraha-snigdha-vācā
prāpya—attaining; prāpyam—the object of attainment; draṣṭum—to see; iṣṭam—the object of
desire; ca—and; dṛṣṭvā—seeing; tatra—there; ātmānam—myself; manyamānaḥ—considering;
kṛta-artham—fully successful; dūrāt—from a distance; bhūyaḥ—repeatedly; daṇḍa-vat—like
a stick; vandamānaḥ—reciting praises; tena—by Him; āhūtaḥ—called out to; anugraha—with
compassion; snigdha—mellow; vācā—with a voice.
Thus I attained the goal of my endeavors and saw the object I had hankered to see. I now
considered my life perfected. From a distance I again and again offered prostrate obeisances
and recited prayers. Lord Viṣṇu then called out to me in a voice mellow with compassion.
BB 2.2.15
diṣṭyā diṣṭyāgato ’si tvam
atra śrī-gopa-nandana
alaṁ daṇḍa-praṇāmair me
nikaṭe ’nusarābhayam
diṣṭyā—by good fortune; diṣṭyā—by good fortune; āgataḥ—arrived; asi—are; tvam—you;
atra—here; śrī-gopa-nandana—dear son of a cowherd; alam—enough; daṇḍa—like a stick;
praṇāmaiḥ—with obeisances; me—to Me; nikaṭe—close; anusara—come; abhayam—
“What great, great fortune, dear son of a cowherd, that you have come here! Enough with this
bowing on the ground! Don’t be afraid to come close to Me.”
Gopa-kumāra has long been eager to meet His Lord, and His Lord to meet him. Lord Viṣṇu is
delighted that His dear devotee has somehow come to Svargaloka and is now by His side.
And so, although Gopa-kumāra, because of a sense of protocol, fears to approach the Lord,
the Lord wants him to leave that protocol behind.
BB 2.2.16
tasyājṣayā mahendreṇa
preritais tri-daśair aham
agrataḥ sādaraṁ nītvā
prayatnād upaveśitaḥ
tasya—His; ājṣayā—following the order; mahā-indreṇa—by great Indra; preritaiḥ—sent; tridaśaiḥ—by demigods; aham—I; agrataḥ—in front; sa-ādaram—respectfully; nītvā—being
brought; prayatnāt—with effort; upaveśitaḥ—given a seat.
By the Supreme Lord’s order, the great Indra had some of the demigods respectfully bring me
forward and induce me to take a seat.
BB 2.2.17
divyair dravyais tarpito nandanākhye
’raṇye vāsaṁ prāpito ’gāṁ praharṣam
vīkṣe kācit tatra bhīr nāsti śoko
rogo mṛtyur glānir ārtir jarā ca
experienced; praharṣam—delight; vīkṣe—I saw; kācit—any; tatra—there; bhīḥ—fear; na
asti—there is not; śokaḥ—sorrow; rogaḥ—disease; mṛtyuḥ—death; glāniḥ—fatigue; ārtiḥ—
pain; jarā—old age; ca—and.
They satisfied me by offerings of heavenly pleasures and a residence in the Nandana forest. I
felt delighted. Here, I saw, there was no pain, no fear, no death, no sorrow, no disease,
fatigue, or old age.
Lord Viṣṇu told the demigods to escort Gopa-kumāra respectfully into His presence, honor
Gopa-kumāra with a seat, offer him choice heavenly items, and give him a place to stay in
Indra’s pleasure gardens. The demigods followed this order carefully, greeting the cowherd
boy with a cup of the nectar of immortality and various tokens of honor.
Gopa-kumāra’s perception that in Svargaloka most of the constraints of earthly life were
absent was more than just a first impression; it lasted for all the time he was there.
BB 2.2.18
santu vā katicid doṣās
tān ahaṁ gaṇayāmi na
tādṛśaṁ jagad-īśasya
sandarśana-sukhaṁ bhajan
santu—there were; vā—however; katicit—a few; doṣāḥ—faults; tān—them; aham—I;
gaṇayāmi na—did not take into account; tādṛśam—such; jagat-īśasya—of the Lord of the
universe; sandarśana—in seeing directly; sukham—happiness; bhajan—experiencing.
There were a few flaws in heaven, but I didn’t take them into account, because I felt
enormous joy in freely seeing the Lord of the universe.
Sometimes the demigods in heaven quarreled among themselves, but to Gopa-kumāra this
seemed insignificant. On earth he had never seen the Supreme Lord so fully display His
BB 2.2.19
mahendreṇārcyate svargavibhūtibhir asau prabhuḥ
śaraṇatvena cānv-aham
mahā-indreṇa—by Mahendra; arcyate—was worshiped; svarga—of heaven; vibhūtibhiḥ—
with the opulences; asau—He; prabhuḥ—the Supreme Lord; bhrātṛtvena—as brother;
īśvaratvena—as Lord; śaraṇatvena—as shelter; ca—and; anu-aham—every day.
Every day, the great Indra worshiped that Supreme Lord with heavenly opulence, regarding
the Lord as his brother, his master, and his shelter.
Offering the special gifts of heaven like amṛta and the pārijāta flower, Indra worshiped Lord
Vāmana, whom he treated as his brother with intense affection, as his Lord with great
reverence, and as his shelter with heartfelt gratitude.
BB 2.2.20-21
TEXTS 20–21
manasy akaravaṁ caitad
aho dhanyaḥ śatakratuḥ
yo hi śrī-viṣṇunā dattaṁ
sādhayitvā nirākulam
trai-lokyaiśvaryam āsādya
bhagavantam imaṁ mudā
upahāra-cayair divyair
gṛhyamāṇaiḥ svayaṁ yajet
śatakratuḥ—Indra; yaḥ—who; hi—indeed; śrī-viṣṇunā—by Śrī Viṣṇu; dattam—given;
sādhayitvā—gaining; nirākulam—without
anxiety; trai-lokya—of the three worlds;
aiśvaryam—the opulences; āsādya—securing; bhagavantam—Supreme Lord; imam—this;
mudā—with joy; upahāra-cayaiḥ—with many offerings; divyaiḥ—heavenly; gṛhyamāṇaiḥ—
being accepted; svayam—personally; yajet—he worships.
I thought to myself, “Oh, how fortunate is Indra! He has gained the opulence of the three
worlds promised him by Śrī Viṣṇu and enjoys them without anxiety. And he has gained the
Supreme Lord Himself, whom he now worships with many kinds of heavenly offerings,
which the Lord graciously accepts.”
The Lord had a secret plan to give Gopa-kumāra a special role in Indra’s kingdom, and to
attract him toward this the Lord arranged for Gopa-kumāra to become appreciative of Indra’s
opulence. Lord Viṣṇu had helped Indra subdue the demons and take hold of sovereignty. With
the demons defeated, no serious threats to Indra’s rule remained. Indra enjoys the liberty to
worship Lord Viṣṇu with all the riches at his disposal, and the Lord accepts Indra’s offerings
with His own hands.
BB 2.2.22
evaṁ mamāpi bhagavān
ayaṁ kiṁ kṛpayiṣyati
iti tatrāvasaṁ kurvan
sva-saṅkalpaṁ nijaṁ japam
evam—thus; mama—to me; api—also; bhagavān—Personality of Godhead; ayam—this;
kim—whether; kṛpayiṣyati—will show His mercy; iti—thus; tatra—there; avasam—I resided;
kurvan—performing; sva-saṅkalpam—maintaining the desire; nijam—my; japam—chanting
of the mantra.
I thought, “Will this Personality of Godhead show me the same mercy?” Maintaining that
desire, I resided there and chanted my japa.
Without a clue as to how he could worship Lord Viṣṇu with the same standard of opulence as
Indra, Gopa-kumāra still hoped against hope to be allowed to do so. He thought that since the
Lord is bhagavān, the possessor of inconceivable powers, and also the most merciful person,
somehow the Lord could make it possible. With this meditation Gopa-kumāra focused even
more intensely on his japa.
BB 2.2.23
athaikasya munīndrasya
dūṣayitvā priyāṁ balāt
lajjayā śāpa-bhītyā ca
śakraḥ kutrāpy alīyata
atha—then; ekasya—of one; muni-indrasya—powerful sage; dūṣayitvā—violating the
chastity; priyām—of the dear wife; balāt—forcibly; lajjayā—out of shame; śāpa—of being
cursed; bhītyā—out of fear; ca—and; śakraḥ—Indra; kutra api—somewhere; alīyata—hid.
Then it once happened that Indra forcibly violated the dear wife of an exalted sage. And out
of shame and fear of being cursed, Indra hid somewhere.
Gopa-kumāra soon achieved his desire. As Indra had previously abused the wives of
Devaśarmā and Gautama Ṛṣi, now he kidnapped the wife of another sage and forced himself
upon her. And as under similar circumstances he had hidden himself in the filaments of a
lotus flower in the Mānasa-sarovara, he again found a hiding place that no one would
BB 2.2.24
daivair anviṣya bahudhā
sa na prāpto yadā tataḥ
arājakatvāt trai-lokyam
abhibhūtam upadravaiḥ
daivaiḥ—by the demigods; anviṣya—being searched for; bahudhā—by many means; saḥ—he;
na—not; prāptaḥ—found; yadā—when; tataḥ—then; arājakatvāt—because of there being no
The demigods searched for him everywhere, but were unable to find him by any means. And
with no one ruling heaven, disturbances overwhelmed the three worlds.
With Indra in hiding, the Daityas, whom he had subdued, again felt bold enough to harass the
BB 2.2.25
śrī-viṣṇor ājṣayā devair
guruṇā preritair atha
aindre pade ’bhiṣikto ’ham
śrī-viṣṇoḥ—of Śrī Viṣṇu; ājṣayā—on the order; devaiḥ—by the demigods; guruṇā—by their
spiritual master; preritaiḥ—urged; atha—then; aindre—of Indra; pade—in the position;
abhiṣiktaḥ—anointed; aham—I; aditi-ādi—by Aditi and others; anumoditaḥ—approved.
Then the demigods, so ordered by Śrī Viṣṇu and advised by their spiritual master, installed me
in the position of Indra. Aditi and the others approved.
Indra’s mother, Aditi, assented to having Indra’s throne granted to this newcomer because
Lord Viṣṇu desired it. And because she approved, so also did Indra’s wife, Śacī, and all of
Indra’s well-wishers.
BB 2.2.26
tato ’ditiṁ śacīṁ jīvaṁ
brāhmaṇān api mānayan
trai-lokye vaiṣṇavīṁ bhaktiṁ
pūrṇāṁ prāvartayaṁ sadā
tataḥ—thereupon; aditim—to Aditi (Indra’s mother); śacīm—Śacī (Indra’s wife); jīvam—
Bṛhaspati (Indra’s guru); brāhmaṇān—to the brāhmaṇas; api—also; mānayan—showing
respect; trai-lokye—in the three worlds; vaiṣṇavīm—to Lord Viṣṇu; bhaktim—devotional
service; pūrṇām—full; prāvartayam—I promoted; sadā—always.
Thereupon, with proper respect for Śacī, Aditi, Bṛhaspati, and the brāhmaṇas, I started
constantly promoting full devotional service to Lord Viṣṇu throughout the three worlds.
Gopa-kumāra properly honored Indra’s guru, Bṛhaspati (also called Jīva), and honored the
brāhmaṇas who visited heaven, such as Agastya and Gautama. Gaining control over the three
worlds did not inflate Gopa-kumāra’s pride or lead him to offend others, as it had led to pride
and offensiveness in Nahuṣa, who also once took the role of substitute for Indra. Rather,
Gopa-kumāra used the resources of Indra’s position to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness throughout
the planets within his domain. This implies that the real Indra, son of Aditi, was not as much
interested in preaching pure Kṛṣṇa consciousness. What is specified here is pūrṇa-bhakti, “full
devotional service.” Devotional service in full consists of nine methods, culminating in
unconditional self-surrender. In another sense, bhakti is considered pūrṇa, or full, when
untainted by material motives.
Later in this chapter we shall read about Gopa-kumāra’s residing on Brahmaloka and
witnessing the partial destruction of the universe at the end of Brahma’s day. Taking this into
account, we can understand that Gopa-kumāra’s adventure on Indra’s planet must have
occurred not in the era of the current Manu (the Vaivasvata-manvantara of the Varāha-kalpa)
but at the end of a previous kalpa or day of Brahmā. Even so, there is nothing inconsistent in
the history of Gopa-kumāra, since many times in each kalpa various persons take up the posts
of Indra and the other demigods and sages, with powers and entourages similar to those the
posts conferred before. As Śrī Viṣṇu Purāṇa (1.15.86) explains:
yuge yuge bhavanty et
edakṣādyā muni-sattama
punaś caiva nirudhyante
vidvāṁs tatra na muhyati
“In each and every age, O best of sages, persons like Dakṣa come into being and later
disappear. This does not bewilder one who is learned.” And in the words of Śrī Hari-bhaktisudhodaya:
sarva-kalpeṣu cāpy evaṁ
“Thus in every day of Brahmā there is creation, maintenance, and destruction.”
BB 2.2.27
svayaṁ tasyāḥ prabhāveṇa
svārājye ’pi yathā purā
sadākiṣcana-rūpe ’haṁ
nyavasaṁ nandane vane
svayam—myself; tasyāḥ—of it (devotional service); prabhāveṇa—by the potency; svārājye—
in a position of absolute authority; api—although; yathā—as; purā—earlier; sadā—always;
akiṣcana—of someone who possesses nothing; rūpe—in the form; aham—I; nyavasam—
dwelled; nandane vane—in the Nandana forest.
Even while I ruled with complete authority, by the potency of that devotional service I
dwelled in the Nandana forest in the same humble style in which I had always lived.
Despite wielding such absolute power and spiritual influence, Gopa-kumāra did not become
arrogant. Remaining as simple-hearted as ever, he preferred to live away from the city rather
than in Indra’s palace or the Sudharmā assembly hall.
BB 2.2.28
atyajaṁś ca japaṁ svīyam
vismartuṁ naiva śaknomi
vraja-bhūmim imāṁ kvacit
atyajan—not giving up; ca—and; japam—chanting; svīyam—my own; akṛta-jṣatva—of being
ungrateful; śaṅkayā—out of fear; vismartum—to forget; na—not; eva—indeed; śaknomi—I
was able; vraja-bhūmim—Vraja-bhūmi; imām—this; kvacit—ever.
For fear of being ungrateful, I never gave up my japa, nor for a moment was I able to forget
this Vraja-bhūmi.
From Gopa-kumāra’s point of view, the life of tending cows in Vṛndāvana was more
attractive than any other circumstance, including residence in the Nandana-vana. As long as
he continued chanting his mantra, this attitude could not be covered by illusion, because the
natural effect of Śrī Madana-gopāla’s mantra was to attract the heart to the Lord’s sports in
Vṛndāvana. Wanting to avoid being ungrateful, Gopa-kumāra never stopped chanting. He
might justify abandoning the mantra only after attaining its final goal. If he were to stop
chanting before then, he would not discover the mantra’s full benefits. Thus, to stop the
chanting prematurely would amount to ingratitude, for without having bothered to receive all
the mantra’s benefits, how could he properly acknowledge them?
BB 2.2.29
tac-choka-duḥkhair anutapyamānaḥ
śuṣkānano ’haṁ jagad-īśvareṇa
saṁlakṣya toṣyeya muhuḥ karābjasparśena citrair vacanāmṛtaiś ca
tat—that; śoka—by the sorrow; duḥkhaiḥ—and pain; anutapyamānaḥ—being tormented;
śuṣka—dried up; ānanaḥ—my face; aham—I; jagat-īśvareṇa—by the Lord of the universe;
saṁlakṣya—being noticed; toṣyeya—I would be placated; muhuḥ—again and again; kara-
abja—of His lotus hands; sparśena—by the touch; citraiḥ—fascinating; vacana—by His
words; amṛtaiḥ—nectarean; ca—and.
I was tormented by the pain of separation from Vraja, my face drying up. But when the Lord
of the universe noticed this, He consoled me again and again with His fascinating nectarean
words and the touch of His lotus hands.
Gopa-kumāra was unable to forget Vṛndāvana, but this constant remembrance was painful for
BB 2.2.30
iva pālayatā svayam
mat-toṣaṇāya mad-dattaṁ
bhogyam ādāya bhujyate
jyeṣṭha—older; sodara—of a brother; sambandham—the relationship; iva—as if; pālayatā—
observing; svayam—personally; mat-toṣaṇāya—for my satisfaction; mat-dattam—given by
me; bhogyam—food; ādāya—accepting; bhujyate—He would eat.
As if obliged to keep the etiquette for dealing with an elder brother, the Lord would directly
accept and eat the food I gave Him, just to please me.
Gopa-kumāra was sitting on Indra’s throne only temporarily, and Lord Vāmana was not his
real brother. Nonetheless, the Lord was happy to accept Gopa-kumāra’s offerings in a
brotherly mood.
BB 2.2.31
tena vismṛtya tad duḥkhaṁ
prīṇayan sneha-bhāvāttaṁ
lālayeyaṁ kaniṣṭha-vat
tena—thus; vismṛtya—forgetting; tat—that; duḥkham—distress; pūjayā—with worship;
apūrva—unprecedented; vṛttayā—of a style; prīṇayan—showing my affection; sneha—
loving; bhāva—with a mood; āttam—filled; lālayeyam—I would pamper; kaniṣṭha-vat—like
a younger brother.
And so I would forget my distress. I would then show my affection by worshiping Him
lovingly in an unprecedented style, pampering Him like my younger brother.
Lord Vāmana, accepting offerings from His substitute brother, would sometimes touch Gopakumāra’s hands or show affection in other ways. In return, Gopa-kumāra would touch the
hands of Lord Vāmana, the Lord of the universe, and embrace Him. This was not improper,
because both their hearts were overflowing with ecstasy.
BB 2.2.32
evaṁ māṁ svāsthyam āpādya
sva-sthāne kutracid gataḥ
upendro vasati śrīmān
na labhyeta sadekṣitum
evam—thus; mām—me; svāsthyam—to a normal condition; āpādya—restoring; sva-sthāne—
to His own place; kutracit—somewhere; gataḥ—went; upendraḥ—Lord Upendra; vasati—
lived; śrī-mān—the husband of the goddess of fortune; na labhyeta—was not available;
sadā—always; īkṣitum—to be seen.
After restoring me to normal in this way, He would go back to His own place somewhere else.
Thus although I lived with Śrīmān Upendra, I was not always able to see Him.
Since Gopa-kumāra was destined to enjoy even more of the Lord’s mercy elsewhere,
circumstances changed so that he became less interested in staying in Svargaloka. Lord
Vāmana had shown him various kinds of affection, protected him from false pride, allowed
him to worship in grand opulence with all the riches of the three worlds, and empowered him
to preach pure devotional service throughout those worlds. Thus Lord Vāmana had eased
Gopa-kumāra’s distress. But after making Gopa-kumāra happy and peaceful in these ways,
the Lord went elsewhere, perhaps to Śvetadvīpa or Dhruvaloka—exactly where, Gopakumāra never knew. As the word śrīmān here indicates, the Lord’s consort Lakṣmī
accompanied Him, and so Gopa-kumāra was unable see her either. Even though the Supreme
Lord is all-pervading, when He was away from Svargaloka Gopa-kumāra could no longer see
Him. The Lord would return occasionally, but for Gopa-kumāra that was not enough.
BB 2.2.33
tato yo jāyate śokas
tena nīlācala-prabhum
draṣṭum iccheyam etya tam
tataḥ—therefore; yaḥ—which; jāyate—would arise; śokaḥ—unhappiness; tena—by that;
nīlācala—of Purī; prabhum—the Lord, Jagannātha; acala—unwavering; āśrita—to those who
take shelter; vātsalyam—whose affection; draṣṭum—to see; iccheyam—would want; etya—
going; tam—Him.
And so the distress I felt would make me want to go back to see the Lord of Nīlācala, whose
affection for those who take shelter of Him never wavers.
Gopa-kumāra naturally wanted to lessen the pain he was feeling. And he thought that Lord
Jagannātha’s love for His devotees was more certain than Lord Viṣṇu’s in Svarga because in
Nīlācala Lord Jagannātha is always visible. Jagannātha’s mercy is as firm as Mount Meru.
BB 2.2.34
prādurbhūtasya viṣṇos tu
tasya tādṛk-kṛpā-bharaiḥ
ādhiḥ sarvo vilīyeta
pāścātyo ’pi tad-āśayā
prādurbhūtasya—becoming visible; viṣṇoḥ—of Viṣṇu; tu—but; tasya—His; tādṛk—such;
kṛpā—of mercy; bharaiḥ—by the abundance; ādhiḥ—mental distress; sarvaḥ—all; vilīyeta—
would dissolve; pāścātyaḥ—later; api—even; tat—of Him; āśayā—by the thought.
Still, when Viṣṇu would again become visible, His unique mercy in many forms would fill
my heart with thoughts of Him and dissolve all my mental pain, even the pain I might feel
later when I could no longer see Him.
Gopa-kumāra could not simply leave heaven to come down to earth and Puruṣottama-kṣetra,
because in Svarga he had special exchanges of love with Lord Viṣṇu that with Lord
Jagannātha he had never known. Lord Viṣṇu, as Vāmanadeva, accepted with His own hands
what Gopa-kumāra offered in worship. And the Lord displayed exceptional sweetness,
enacted various charming pastimes, and spoke nectarean words to console His devotees. All
this vanquished the mental pain Gopa-kumāra felt within from not seeing the Lord and from
remembering Vraja-bhūmi. Even the pain he might feel later at the inevitable departure of
Lord Viṣṇu would be overshadowed by the joy from the association he was having now.
Gopa-kumāra also hoped that although Lord Viṣṇu might go away for a while, He would
always return.
BB 2.2.35
evaṁ nivasatā tatra
śakratvam adhikurvatā
brahman saṁvatsaro divyo
mayaiko gamitaḥ sukham
evam—thus; nivasatā—who was residing; tatra—there; śakratvam—the post of Indra;
adhikurvatā—administering; brahman—O brāhmaṇa; saṁvatsaraḥ—year; divyaḥ—of the
demigods; mayā—by me; ekaḥ—one; gamitaḥ—spent; sukham—happily.
O brāhmaṇa, thus I lived in Svarga, ruling in the post of Indra, and happily spent one celestial
Indra’s duties include the dispensing of rain, the propagation of sacrifices and other Vedic
rituals, and the maintenance and protection of the three planetary systems. For one year in the
measurement of Svargaloka—equal to 360 years on earth—Gopa-kumāra carried out these
BB 2.2.36
akasmād āgatās tatra
bhṛgu-mukhyā maharṣayaḥ
padbhyāṁ pāvayituṁ yāntas
tīrthāṇi kṛpayā bhuvi
akasmāt—unexpectedly; āgatāḥ—came; tatra—there; bhṛgu-mukhyāḥ—headed by Bhṛgu;
mahā-ṛṣayaḥ—great sages; padbhyām—with their feet; pāvayitum—to purify; yāntaḥ—going;
tīrthāṇi—the holy places; kṛpayā—out of mercy; bhuvi—on the earth.
Once some great sages arrived unexpectedly, headed by Bhṛgu. Out of mercy they were on
their way to purify with their feet the holy places on earth.
It was difficult to tell why these sages, headed by Bhṛgu, Atri, Marīci, Aṅgirā, Pulaha, and
Pulastya, stopped at Svargaloka on their way to earth. Moreover, before they arrived Gopakumāra had not even known that such sages exist. Although Marīci, not Bhṛgu, is the eldest of
the seven sons born from the mind of Brahmā, here Gopa-kumāra gives the first honor to
Bhṛgu because Bhṛgu is a great Vaiṣṇava and sometimes the father of the goddess Lakṣmī.
Bhṛgu is often considered an empowered representative of the Supreme Lord, and he is
mentioned as such by Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself in the Bhagavad-gītā (10.25). Maharṣīṇāṁ bhṛgur
aham: “Among the principal sages I am Bhṛgu.” In the Third Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam
(3.11.30), Maitreya Muni also mentions Bhṛgu as the first of sages:
tri-lokyāṁ dahyamānāyāṁ
śaktyā saṅkarṣaṇāgninā
yānty ūṣmaṇā mahar-lokāj
janaṁ bhṛgv-ādayo ’rditāḥ
“When devastation takes place due to the fire emanating from the mouth of Saṅkarṣaṇa, the
great sages, headed by Bhṛgu, transport themselves from Maharloka to Janaloka, being
distressed by the heat of the blazing fire that rages through the three worlds below.”
Why had these residents of a region higher than Svargaloka now descended to heaven? They
were traveling to earth to purify the Gaṅgā and other holy places from the contamination
brought about by contact with sinful visitors. The sages wanted to sanctify the holy places on
earth with the touch of their own feet. Even though the sages, by the power of their influential
words, could have sanctified the earth without leaving Maharloka, the sight and touch of their
feet would further benefit all the inhabitants of the earth.
BB 2.2.37
sa-sambhramaṁ suraiḥ sarvair
ṛṣibhir guruṇā svayam
viṣṇunā cārcyamānās te
mayā dṛṣṭāḥ sa-vismayam
sa-sambhramam—reverently; suraiḥ—by the demigods; sarvaiḥ—all; ṛṣibhiḥ—by the sages;
guruṇā—by their spiritual master; svayam—Himself; viṣṇunā—by Lord Viṣṇu; ca—and;
arcyamānāḥ—being worshiped; te—they; mayā—by me; dṛṣṭāḥ—seen; sa-vismayam—with
With amazement I looked on as all the demigods and celestial sages, and even their spiritual
master and Lord Viṣṇu Himself, worshiped those sages reverently.
The chief among the sages who offered respect was Nārada. He of course showed respect to
his elder brother Bhṛgu. Lord Viṣṇu also honored the great sages led by Bhṛgu because Lord
Viṣṇu is brahmaṇya-deva, the Lord who always serves the brāhmaṇas.
BB 2.2.38
ahaṁ cābhinavo viṣṇusevānanda-hṛtāntaraḥ
na jāne tān atha svīyaiḥ
preritas tair apūjayam
aham—I; ca—and; abhinavaḥ—a new resident; viṣṇu-sevā—of serving Lord Viṣṇu; ānanda—
by the bliss; hṛta—swept away; antaraḥ—whose heart; na jāne—I did not recognize; tān—
them (the sages); atha—then; svīyaiḥ—by my companions; preritaḥ—urged; taiḥ—by them
(my companions); apūjayam—I worshiped them.
I was a new resident of Svarga, my heart distracted by the bliss of serving Lord Viṣṇu, so I
failed to recognize the sages. But at the urging of my companions I too worshiped them.
Despite occupying the post of Indra, Gopa-kumāra at first neglected to come forward to
worship his venerable guests, because he did not know who they were. He wondered whether
they were some demigods or devarṣis of Svargaloka he had not seen before, or visitors from
some other world. Gopa-kumāra explains his own ignorance by calling himself a newcomer.
Though he had already been living in Svarga for a year of the demigods, he had been too
much absorbed in the joy of devotional service to Lord Viṣṇu to become interested in learning
about anything else. Normally, devotional service bestows knowledge automatically, even
upon devotees not inquisitive, but Gopa-kumāra’s case was special. As Śrī Nārada will
explain at the end of the fifth chapter, Gopa-kumāra, thanks to a special blessing from his
spiritual master, remained forever naive about the ways of the world.
BB 2.2.39
abhinandya śubhāśīrbhir
māṁ te ’gacchan yathā-sukham
tirobhavad upendro ’pi
mayā pṛṣṭās tadāmarāḥ
abhinandya—greeting; śubha—auspicious; āśīrbhiḥ—with blessings; mām—me; te—they;
agacchan—went; yathā-sukham—according to their pleasure; tiraḥ-abhavat—disappeared;
upendraḥ—Lord Vāmana; api—also; mayā—by me; pṛṣṭāḥ—asked; tadā—then; amarāḥ—the
immortals of Svarga-loka.
The sages greeted me with auspicious blessings and happily went on their way. And at that
moment Lord Upendra also disappeared. I then inquired from the immortals of heaven.
Apparently the sages visiting Maharloka felt no offense at being neglected by the cowherd
Indra, since they happily offered him their blessings. But they moved on, and at the same time
Lord Vāmana also disappeared. This was necessary for Gopa-kumāra’s benefit. In front of the
Lord he would have been unable to inquire about the sages, for in the Lord’s presence
devotional etiquette forbids conversations that do not involve Him. And as long as Lord
Vāmana was to be seen, Gopa-kumāra, distracted by ecstasy, would have been unable to think
about leaving Svargaloka.
BB 2.2.40
pūjyā devā nṛṇāṁ pūjyā
devānām apy amī tu ke
kiṁ-māhātmyā mahā-tejomayāḥ kutra vasanti vā
pūjyāḥ—to be worshiped; devāḥ—the demigods; nṛṇām—by men; pūjyāḥ—to be worshiped;
devānām—by the demigods; api—even; amī—these; tu—but; ke—who; kim—what;
māhātmyāḥ—their greatness; mahā-tejaḥ—with great effulgence; mayāḥ—filled; kutra—
where; vasanti—do they live; vā—or.
“The demigods are worshiped by men, but who were those persons worshiped even by the
demigods? What makes them so great? Where do those effulgent persons live?”
Gopa-kumāra knew from his limited experience that a father, though honored by his sons, still
honors his own father. Thus he surmised that there must be some natural reason for the sages
who had visited to be treated as superiors. Simply from their glowing appearance he could
understand that they must have come from somewhere above Svargaloka. He wondered where
they came from and whom they worshiped. He became curious to visit that place and to see
their Lord.
BB 2.2.41
mahābhimānibhir devair
lajjayeva na tad-vṛttam
uktaṁ gurur athābravīt
mahā-abhimānibhiḥ—very proud; devaiḥ—by the demigods; matsara—by jealousy;
ākrānta—affected; mānasaiḥ—whose minds; lajjayā—out of shame; iva—as if; na—not; tat—
about them; vṛttam—information; uktam—spoken; guruḥ—our spiritual master, Bṛhaspati;
atha—then; abravīt—said.
Jealous and proud, the demigods were embarrassed to tell me. But our guru then spoke.
Matsara (“jealousy”) means intolerance of another person’s excellence. The demigods were
jealous of the great sages and proud of their own positions, and in response to Gopa-kumāra’s
questions these two emotions gave rise to embarrassment and silence. The exact words used
here are lajjayā iva, “as if ashamed,” because these negative feelings were only a shadow of
the gross envy and other such emotions felt on lower planets. Bṛhaspati, however, was more
sober than the demigods. And his duty as Gopa-kumāra’s guru was to answer the reasonable
questions of the disciple.
BB 2.2.42
śrī-bṛhaspatir uvāca
ata ūrdhvaṁ mahar-loko
rājate karmabhiḥ śubhaiḥ
prāpyo mahadbhir yo naśyet
trai-lokya-pralaye ’pi na
śrī-bṛhaspatiḥ uvāca—Śrī Bṛhaspati said; ataḥ—than this place; ūrdhvam—higher; mahaḥlokaḥ—Maharloka;
prāpyaḥ—attainable; mahadbhiḥ—the best; yaḥ—which; naśyet—is destroyed; trai-lokya—of
the three worlds; pralaye—during the annihilation; api—even; na—not.
Śrī Bṛhaspati said: Above this realm shines the world called Maharloka, attainable through the
best of pious works. Even when the three worlds are annihilated, that world is not destroyed.
As difficult as it is for ordinary mortals to enter heaven, the requirements for entering
Maharloka are even more stringent. An aspirant must complete ritual sacrifices and yoga
meditation of a lofty standard, uncorrupted by lower motives. Only then might he be accepted
for elevation to Maharloka, which survives the dissolution of the three worlds Bhūr, Bhuvar,
and Svar. Because most of the residents of Maharloka are candidates for liberation, the planet
exists as long as that of Lord Brahmā.
BB 2.2.43
yathā hi koṭi-guṇitaṁ
sāmrājyāt sukham aindrikam
tat-koṭi-guṇitaṁ tatra
prājāpatyaṁ sukhaṁ matam
yathā—as; hi—certainly; koṭi-guṇitam—millions of times greater; sāmrājyāt—than that of a
ruler of the earth; sukham—the happiness; aindrikam—of Indra; tat—compared with that;
koṭi-guṇitam—millions of times greater; tatra—there;
prājāpatyam—of the Prajāpatis;
sukham—the happiness; matam—considered.
As the happiness of Indra is considered millions of times greater than that of a ruler on earth,
the happiness of a Prajāpati is millions of times greater than Indra’s.
The sages living on Maharloka are the Prajāpatis, the original forefathers of the population of
the universe. They are the first authorities on the Vedic path of karma.
BB 2.2.44
tenāmī sevitās tatra
nivasanti mahā-sukhaiḥ
yajṣeśvaraṁ prabhuṁ sākṣāt
pūjayantaḥ pade pade
tena—by that (happiness); amī—these persons; sevitāḥ—served; tatra—there; nivasanti—
live; mahā-sukhaiḥ—with great facilities for happiness; yajṣa-īśvaram—the Lord of sacrifice;
prabhum—their master; sākṣāt—directly; pūjayantaḥ—worshiping; pade pade—in various
Endowed with such happiness, the Prajāpatis live on Maharloka enjoying the greatest
pleasures and directly worshiping in various places the Lord of sacrifice, who is there in
person as their master.
The Prajāpatis leave Maharloka only occasionally, when they have a specific reason to visit
other planets. For worshiping the Supreme Lord with wonderful sacrifices, the Prajāpatis have
much better resources than even those available on Svargaloka.
BB 2.2.45
śrī-gopa-kumāra uvāca
tac chrutvaindra-pade sadyo
nirvidyaicchaṁ tam īkṣitum
pūjya-pūjyair mahadbhis taiḥ
pūjyamānaṁ mahā-prabhum
śrī-gopa-kumāraḥ uvāca—Śrī Gopa-kumāra said; tat—that; śrutvā—hearing; aindra—of
Indra; pade—in the position; sadyaḥ—immediately; nirvidya—losing interest; aiccham—I
wanted; tam—Him; īkṣitum—to see; pūjya—for the worshipable; pūjyaiḥ—who are
worshipable; mahadbhiḥ—by the great souls; taiḥ—them; pūjyamānam—being worshiped;
mahā-prabhum—the Supreme Lord.
Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: Upon hearing this, I at once lost my attachment to the post of Indra
and wanted to go see that Supreme Lord being worshiped by the great souls who are
worshiped by those who are worshiped.
Gopa-kumāra had seen that compared to the worship of the Supreme Lord on earth, the
worship on Svargaloka is much more charming and opulent. And if Maharloka is worshipable
by the residents of Svarga, the worship of the Lord on Maharloka must be still more glorious.
To see Lord Viṣṇu being worshiped on Maharloka was certainly worth a trip.
BB 2.2.46
tat saṅkalpya japaṁ kurvann
acirād ūrdhvam utthitaḥ
vyoma-yānena taṁ prāpto
lokaṁ tatra vyalokayam
tat—that; saṅkalpya—making the conscious intention; japam—the chanting of my mantra;
kurvan—doing; acirāt—soon; ūrdhvam—upward; utthitaḥ—lifted; vyoma-yānena—by a
celestial airplane; tam—that; prāptaḥ—obtained; lokam—planet; tatra—there; vyalokayam—I
I made this my intention and chanted my mantra. And soon a celestial airplane picked me up,
and I found myself transported to Maharloka.
Chanting his japa with the conscious desire “I want to see the Lord of sacrifice on Maharloka”
soon brought Gopa-kumāra to Ṛṣi Bhṛgu’s abode on the Mahar planet, where the sages had
returned after finishing their short excursion.
BB 2.2.47
trai-lokye yat sukhaṁ nāsti
vaibhavaṁ bhajanaṁ tathā
nirdoṣaṁ tatra tat sarvam
asty anirvācyam āśu tat
trai-lokye—in the three worlds; yat—which; sukham—happiness; na asti—there is not;
vaibhavam—opulence; bhajanam—worship; tathā—such; nirdoṣam—faultless; tatra—there;
tat—that; sarvam—all; asti—there is; anirvācyam—indescribable; āśu—easily; tat—that.
Such happiness, opulence, and worship of the Lord as found nowhere in the three worlds—
it’s all there perfectly, indescribable in words.
The residents of Maharloka never quarrel among themselves, never suffer mundane miseries,
and never fear the annihilation at the nightfall of Brahmā. On Maharloka, rivalry and quarrel
are nonexistent because everyone worships the Supreme Lord without selfish motives and
therefore material assets are always on hand without deficiency or surplus. The conditions of
such a subtle, exclusive environment can hardly be described in words—they can be
understood only by direct experience. Nonetheless, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī kindly gives us a
rare glimpse into a world we otherwise know little about.
BB 2.2.48
vitāyamāneṣu mahā-makheṣu tair
maharṣibhir bhakti-paraiḥ sahasraśaḥ
makhāgni-madhye prabhur utthitaḥ sphuran
makheśvaraḥ krīḍati yajṣa-bhāga-bhuk
vitāyamāneṣu—being performed in all detail; mahā-makheṣu—grand sacrifices; taiḥ—by
those; mahā-ṛṣibhiḥ—great sages; bhakti-paraiḥ—endowed with pure devotion; sahasraśaḥ—
by the thousands; makha-agni—of the oblation fires; madhye—from the midst; prabhuḥ—the
Lord; utthitaḥ—risen; sphuran—glowing; makha—of sacrifices; īśvaraḥ—the supreme
controller; krīḍati—played; yajṣa-bhāga—of sacrificial offerings; bhuk—the enjoyer.
While the great sages, endowed with pure devotion, offered thousands of grand sacrifices, I
saw the Lord of sacrifice, the supreme controller, stand up brilliantly from amidst the fires of
oblation and delight in His pastimes as the enjoyer of sacrificial offerings.
The form of Lord Viṣṇu appearing from the sacrificial fires made an especially vivid
impression on Gopa-kumāra’s mind, so he briefly describes that form in this and the
following two verses. Bhṛgu and his brothers are niṣkāma Vaiṣṇavas who have no other
master than Lord Viṣṇu. Therefore the Lord reciprocated their worship by appearing in person
on the sacrificial altar. He was sphuran, glowing even more brilliantly than the ritual fires.
BB 2.2.49
sa yajṣa-mūrtī ravi-koṭi-tejā
prasārya hastāṁś carum ādadāno
varān priyān yacchati yājakebhyaḥ
saḥ—He; yajṣa-mūrtiḥ—the personification of sacrifice; ravi-koṭi—like millions of suns;
tejāḥ—whose radiance; jagat—of the world; manaḥ-hāri—enchanting; mahā—mighty;
pratīkaḥ—whose form; prasārya—reaching out; hastān—His hands; carum—the caru
offering; ādadānaḥ—accepting; varān—benedictions; priyān—desirable; yacchati—granted;
yājakebhyaḥ—to the sacrificers.
That Lord, sacrifice personified, radiant as millions of suns, His mighty form enchanting to
the world, reached out His hands, accepted the caru offering, and granted the sacrificers
pleasing benedictions.
This verse paints an even more vivid picture of the Lord of sacrifice. He is called the Lord of
sacrifice because it is He who through sacrifice receives worship. And the Vedic sacrifices, or
yajṣas, including their physical ingredients and the mantras and rules for their performance,
emanate from Him. Holding in His hands the implements of sacrifice—including the sruk and
sruva ladles—He appears as sacrifice personified. As we find in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam
(3.13.35–36) in the description of Yajṣa-varāha, the boar incarnation of the Lord, the various
parts of the Lord’s divine body symbolize all the aspects of yajṣa:
rūpaṁ tavaitan nanu duṣkṛtātmanāṁ
durdarśanaṁ deva yad adhvarātmakam
chandāṁsi yasya tvaci barhi-romasv
ājyaṁ dṛśi tv aṅghriṣu cātur-hotram
“O Lord, Your form is to be worshiped by performance of sacrifice, but souls who are simply
miscreants are unable to see that form. All the Vedic hymns, Gāyatrī and others, are in the
touch of Your skin. In Your bodily hairs is the kuśa grass, in Your eyes is the clarified butter,
and in Your four legs are the four kinds of fruitive acts.
sruk tuṇḍa āsīt sruva īśa nāsayor
iḍodare camasāḥ karṇa-randhre
prāśitram āsye grasane grahās tu te
yac carvaṇaṁ te bhagavann agni-hotram
“O Lord, in Your tongue is the sruk, in Your nostril the sruva, and in Your abdomen the plate
for eating. In the holes of Your ears is the cup called camasa. In Your mouth is the Brahmā
plate, in Your throat are the soma vessels, and in whatever You chew is the oblation to the
When Lord Viṣṇu appears on Maharloka as Yajṣeśvara, all the parts of His body are
universally attractive—His head, mouth, neck, chest, arms, legs, and so on. As Gopa-kumāra
watched, the Lord playfully accepted the offering of caru, a standard oblation of rice, barley,
dāl, and butter, mixed and boiled in milk. Not even Lord Vāmana on Svargaloka was this
BB 2.2.50
harṣān namaskāra-parāya mahyam
datto nijocchiṣṭa-mahā-prasādas
tena sva-hastena dayārdra-vācā
tat—of Him; darśana—by the sight; ujjṛmbhita—inspired; sambhramāya—whose awe;
harṣāt—out of joy; namaḥ-kāra—bowing down; parāya—intent on; mahyam—to me;
dattaḥ—given; nija—His own; ucchiṣṭa—of the remnants; mahā-prasādaḥ—the especially
sanctified prasāda; tena—by Him; sva-hastena—with His own hand; dayā—with compassion;
ārdra—drenched; vācā—with words.
With words drenched in compassion, He gave me with His own hand the mahā-prasāda of His
remnants. Awestruck by the sight of Him, out of sheer joy I felt compelled to bow down.
Seeing the Lord of sacrifice made Gopa-kumāra more eager than ever to discover how he
could serve the Lord in some personal way. In response to this enthusiasm, Lord Yajṣeśvara
encouraged him even more by saying such things as “My dear Gopa-kumāra, please come
here and accept My hospitality.”
BB 2.2.51
apūrva-labdham ānandaṁ
paramaṁ prāpnuvaṁs tataḥ
kāruṇyātiśayāt tasya
prāpnuvan—receiving; tataḥ—from that; kāruṇya—of mercy; atiśayāt—excess; tasya—His;
saṁsiddha—attained; aśeṣa—all; vāṣchitaḥ—desires.
By that Lord’s abundant mercy, I attained an exceptional bliss I had never known before, and
all my desires were fulfilled.
On earth and in heaven, Gopa-kumāra had felt bliss in devotional service, but nothing like
what he was relishing on Maharloka. Now, as never before, he was satisfying his deepest
desires to see the Lord of the universe and share personal exchanges with Him.
BB 2.2.52
dayālūnāṁ maharṣīṇāṁ
saṅgatyetas tato bhraman
praty-āvāsaṁ tathaivāham
adrākṣaṁ jagad-īśvaram
dayālūnām—compassionate; mahā-ṛṣīṇām—of the great sages; saṅgatyā—in the company;
itaḥ tataḥ—here and there; bhraman—wandering; prati-āvāsam—in each residence; tathā
eva—appearing in the same way; aham—I; adrākṣam—saw; jagat-īśvaram—the Lord of the
I wandered here and there in the company of the great compassionate sages, and in every
dwelling I saw the Lord of the universe present in the same way.
No matter where Gopa-kumāra went on Maharloka, he found everyone performing Vedic
sacrifices, and the Lord of sacrifice appearing in order to eat the offerings.
BB 2.2.53
tataḥ kṛtārthatā-niṣṭhāṁ
manvānaḥ svasya sarvathā
sānandaṁ nivasaṁs tatra
prokto ’haṁ tair maharṣibhiḥ
tataḥ—then; kṛta-arthatā—of full success; niṣṭhām—the stage; manvānaḥ—considering;
svasya—of myself; sarvathā—in all regards; sa-ānandam—happily; nivasan—residing;
tatra—there; proktaḥ—addressed; aham—I; taiḥ—by those; mahā-ṛṣibhiḥ—great sages.
Thinking myself in every respect fully successful, I happily took up residence on Maharloka.
Once, the great sages spoke to me as follows.
On Maharloka, not only was Lord Yajṣeśvara visible in every residence, but in each place His
features were different. Now that Gopa-kumāra was obtaining to his satisfaction the darśana
of the Lord, along with a generous amount of His mercy, Gopa-kumāra felt that his life in
general and his mantra-japa in particular had reached fruition.
BB 2.2.54
śrī-maharṣaya ūcuḥ
bho gopa-vaiśya-putra tvam
pradīyamānam asmābhir
vipratvaṁ svī-kuru drutam
śrī-mahā-ṛṣayaḥ ūcuḥ—the great sages said; bhoḥ—O; gopa-vaiśya—of a cowherd vaiśya;
pradīyamānam—being offered; asmābhiḥ—by us; vipratvam—the status of a brāhmaṇa; svīkuru—please accept; drutam—right now.
The great sages said: O son of a cowherd vaiśya, we are offering you the brahminical status
natural for a resident of this planet. Please accept it at once.
Some vaiśyas farm and tend cows, and others do business, but according to the Dharmaśāstras they all belong to a twice-born class. In other words, vaiśyas, along with brāhmaṇas
and kṣatriyas, receive Vedic initiation and education. But in Gopa-kumāra’s simple
Govardhana village, the vaiśyas didn’t maintain these Vedic standards, and so he remained
illiterate and uninitiated into the Brahma-gāyatrī. How then, when even as a vaiśya he wasn’t
properly initiated, could he become a brāhmaṇa? It was possible because the powerful sages
were offering him that status and emphatically asking him to accept it. They wanted him to
change his external dress and behavior to conform with the way of life on Maharloka.
BB 2.2.55
maharṣīṇām ekatamo
bhūtvā tvam api pūjaya
jagad-īśam imaṁ yajṣaiś
ciram ātma-didṛkṣitam
mahā-ṛṣīṇām—of the great sages; ekatamaḥ—one; bhūtvā—becoming; tvam—you; api—
also; pūjaya—should worship; jagat-īśam—Lord of the universe; imam—this; yajṣaiḥ—with
sacrifices; ciram—for a long time; ātma—of your heart; didṛkṣitam—the desired goal of sight.
Become one of the exalted sages, so that you too may worship with sacrifice this Lord of the
universe, who for so long has been the desired goal of your heart.
BB 2.2.56
śrī-gopa-kumāra uvāca
tac chrutvācintayaṁ brahman
vaiśyatve syāt sukhaṁ mahat
prabhor eṣāṁ ca viprāṇāṁ
tad-bhaktānām upāsanāt
śrī-gopa-kumāraḥ uvāca—Śrī Gopa-kumāra said; tat—this; śrutvā—hearing; acintayam—I
thought; brahman—O brāhmaṇa; vaiśyatve—in being a vaiśya; syāt—there would be;
sukham—happiness; mahat—greater; prabhoḥ—of the Lord; eṣām—of these; ca—and;
viprāṇām—brāhmaṇas; tat—His; bhaktānām—devotees; upāsanāt—by worshiping.
Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: Hearing this, O brāhmaṇa, I thought I would be much happier staying
a vaiśya, for then I could keep worshiping both the Supreme Lord and those brāhmaṇas, His
Gopa-kumāra thought, “If I become a brāhmaṇa I will lose the fortune of being a simple
servant. Then I will be unable to humbly assist the brāhmaṇa sages. But if I stay a vaiśya, to
my heart’s content I can keep serving these Vaiṣṇavas and their worshipable Lord
BB 2.2.57
eṣāṁ yajṣaika-niṣṭhānām
aikyenāvaśyake nije
jape ca sad-gurūddiṣṭe
māndyaṁ syād dṛṣṭa-sat-phale
eṣām—of them; yajṣa—the performance of sacrifice; eka—only; niṣṭhānām—with whose
interest in life; aikyena—due to oneness; āvaśyake—obligatory; nije—my own; jape—in the
chanting of the mantra; ca—and; sat-guru—by my divine guru; uddiṣṭe—taught; māndyam—
laxness; syāt—there would be; dṛṣṭa—seen already; sat—good; phale—its results.
“For these brāhmaṇas,” I thought, “performing sacrifice is the only interest in life. If I were to
become one of them, surely I would become lax in the chanting I am duty-bound to continue.
My divine guru taught me to worship this mantra, and besides, I have already seen its good
The ten-syllable Gopāla mantra had already proven its efficacy by elevating Gopa-kumāra to
the positions of a king on earth, Indra on Svargaloka, and a resident of Maharloka.
BB 2.2.58
tatas tān anumānyāham
anaṅgī-kṛtya vipratām
tatrāvasaṁ svato jātaprājāpatya-mahā-sukhaiḥ
tataḥ—therefore; tān—to them; anumānya—showing respect; aham—I; anaṅgī-kṛtya—
declining; vipratām—brahmanhood; tatra—there; avasam—I lived; svataḥ—automatically;
jāta—manifest; prājāpatya—of the Prajāpatis; mahā-sukhaiḥ—with the varieties of exalted
Therefore, while showing respect to the sages, I declined the status of a brāhmaṇa. But I
stayed on Maharloka, enjoying the exalted pleasures that automatically appear in the world of
the Prajāpatis.
BB 2.2.59
na doṣās tatra śoko vā
śaṅkā vā kāpi vidyate
nānyac ca kiṣcid yajṣeśaprītyai yajṣotsavān ṛte
na—no; doṣāḥ—defects; tatra—there; śokaḥ—sorrow; vā—or; śaṅkā—apprehension; vā—or;
kā api—any; vidyate—exists; na—not; anyat—other; ca—and; kiṣcit—anything; yajṣa-īśa—
of the Lord of sacrifice; prītyai—for the pleasure; yajṣa-utsavān—festivals of sacrifice; ṛte—
On Maharloka there were no faults, nor was there sorrow, nor apprehensiveness. There was
nothing but festivals of sacrifice for the pleasure of the Lord of sacrifice.
On Svargaloka Gopa-kumāra detected subtle signs of lust, envy, anger, rivalry, and false
pride. But on Maharloka these faults were nonexistent. There was no sorrow from defeat by
opponents or from any other cause. There was no fear of the destruction of the world or fear
of individual degradation. Without these distractions, the residents of Maharloka gave
themselves fully to worshiping the Supreme Lord with festive Vedic sacrifices. The residents
were completely uninterested in mundane sense gratification.
BB 2.2.60
kintu yajṣa-samāptau syād
duḥkham antarhite prabhau
vṛtte yajṣāntare cāsya
prādurbhāvāt punaḥ sukham
kintu—however; yajṣa—of a sacrifice; samāptau—at the end; syāt—there would be;
duḥkham—unhappiness; antarhite—when He disappeared; prabhau—the Lord; vṛtte—when it
was started; yajṣa-antare—another sacrifice; ca—and; asya—His; prādurbhāvāt—by the
appearance; punaḥ—again; sukham—happiness.
But at the end of each sacrifice, unhappiness would arise when the Lord disappeared; and
when the Lord reappeared at the start of another sacrifice, happiness would begin again.
At the end of a sacrifice Lord Yajṣeśvara would disappear, but because He was controlled by
the love shown by His servants, He would not stay invisible for long. Still, this brief cause of
discontent was enough to plant in Gopa-kumāra’s heart a seed of desire to find an even better
BB 2.2.61
tatratyaika-dinasya hi
ante trai-lokya-dāhena
jana-loko ’dhigamyate
catuḥ-yuga—cycles of four ages; sahasrasya—of a thousand; tatratya—of that place; ekadinasya—of one day; hi—indeed; ante—at the end; trai-lokya—of the three worlds; dāhena—
with the conflagration; jana-lokaḥ—Janaloka; adhigamyate—is resorted to.
At the end of one thousand cycles of ages—for that place, one day—the conflagration of the
three worlds forced us to take refuge on Janaloka.
Maharloka exists for the same duration as the planet of Lord Brahmā, but because Maharloka
is adjacent to Svarga its inhabitants are forced to evacuate by the heat created during the fire
of annihilation that burns the lower worlds. After Maharloka, Janaloka is the next higher
planetary system.
BB 2.2.62
rajanyām iva jātāyāṁ
yajṣābhāvena tatra tu
yajṣeśādarśanena syād
dāhas tad-dāhato ’dhikaḥ
rajanyām—nighttime; iva—as if; jātāyām—arising; yajṣa—of sacrifices; abhāvena—with the
nonperformance; tatra—there; tu—but; yajṣa-īśa—the Lord of sacrifice; adarśanena—because
of not seeing; syāt—there would be; dāhaḥ—burning; tat—that; dāhataḥ—than the burning;
On Janaloka, as if it were nighttime, no sacrifices were being performed. And the pain of not
seeing the Lord of sacrifice burned more greatly than the burning of the three worlds.
There is no literal nighttime in self-effulgent Janaloka; but when Brahmā goes to sleep along
with Lord Garbhodaka-śāyī Viṣṇu the lower planets merge into one vast ocean, and
throughout the universe both sacrificial and ordinary activities come to an end. When no
sacrifices are performed on the planets of the sages, Lord Yajṣeśvara no longer appears there.
And for Gopa-kumāra the pain of the Lord’s absence was worse than the scorching fire of
annihilation blasting from the mouth of Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa.
BB 2.2.63
tato ’kṣaya-vaṭa-cchāye
kṣetre śrī-puruṣottame
āgatya śrī-jagannāthaṁ
paśyeyam iti rocate
tataḥ—then; akṣaya—infallible; vaṭa—of the banyan tree; chāye—in the shade; kṣetre—to the
holy district; śrī-puruṣottame—Śrī Puruṣottama; āgatya—going; śrī-jagannātham—Śrī
Jagannātha; paśyeyam—I should see; iti—thus; rocate—would seem desirable.
Then I thought it would be better to go see Lord Jagannātha in Śrī Puruṣottama-kṣetra, in the
shade of the infallible banyan tree.
Lord Jagannātha’s abode, Puruṣottama-kṣetra, is protected by the shade of an indestructible
banyan tree. Even when earth, sky, and heaven are destroyed, Jagannātha-purī remains
BB 2.2.64
mahar-loke gate ’py ātmajapād rahasi pūrva-vat
sampādyamānāc chokaḥ syād
asyā bhūmer didṛkṣayā
mahaḥ-loke—to Maharloka; gate—when I would return; api—furthermore; ātma-japāt—from
the chanting of my mantra; rahasi—in private; pūrva-vat—as before; sampādyamānāt—being
performed; śokaḥ—sorrow; syāt—there would be; asyāḥ—of this; bhūmeḥ—land (Vraja);
didṛkṣayā—by the desire to see.
When I returned to Maharloka, I chanted my japa in seclusion as before. The chanting made
me morose with desire to see again this land of Vraja.
Gopa-kumāra refers to “this” land of Vraja because he is speaking to the Mathurā brāhmaṇa
in Vraja itself. The separation from Lord Yajṣeśvara that Gopa-kumāra suffered during the
partial pralaya was relatively short, but his constant remembrance of Vraja-bhūmi more
seriously threatened his happiness in Maharloka. He might have forgotten his urge to go to
Lord Jagannātha, but not his attraction to Vraja, which was much greater.
BB 2.2.65
prādurbhūto ’tha bhagavān
ijyamāno dayā-nidhiḥ
yadā mām āhvayet prītyā
man-nītaṁ līlayātti ca
prādurbhūtaḥ—manifest; atha—then; bhagavān—the Supreme Lord; ijyamānaḥ—the object
of sacrificial worship; dayā—of mercy; nidhiḥ—the ocean; yadā—when; mām—me;
āhvayet—He would address; prītyā—with love; mat—by me; nītam—brought; līlayā—
sportingly; atti—He would eat; ca—and.
But then the Supreme Lord would appear, the object of sacrificial worship, the ocean of
mercy. He would call me with love and sportingly eat what I brought before Him.
BB 2.2.66
tadānīyeta sarvārtis
tamaḥ sūryodaye yathā
rātrāv api tad-ekāśābaddho neśe kvacid gatau
tadā—then; ānīyeta—He would take away; sarva—all; ārtiḥ—distress; tamaḥ—darkness;
sūrya-udaye—the sunrise; yathā—as; rātrau—during the night; api—and; tat—for Him; eka—
one; āśā—by the hope; baddhaḥ—bound; na īśe—I had no desire; kvacit—anywhere; gatau—
for going.
He would then dispel all my distress, just as the rising sun drives away darkness. Bound by
the one hope of being with Him, I could go nowhere else, even at night.
To be sure, being unable to see Lord Yajṣeśvara during the night was painful; but Gopakumāra was so absorbed in thought of the Lord that he was oblivious to that pain. And during
the days, he forgot the urge to go elsewhere, because of the ecstasies of seeing Lord
Yajṣeśvara, taking part in the festivals to worship Him, and obtaining His abundant mercy.
Even during Lord Brahmā’s night, Gopa-kumāra’s expectations—of soon enjoying this sight,
this worship, and this mercy—continued unbroken, binding him with a chain of hopes.
BB 2.2.67
tatraikadā mahā-tejaḥpuṣja-rūpo dig-ambaraḥ
ko ’py āgād ūrdhva-lokataḥ
tatra—there; ekadā—one day; mahā-tejaḥ—of great brilliance; puṣja—like a mass; rūpaḥ—
whose form; dik—the directions; ambaraḥ—whose dress; pāṣca-ṣa— five or six; ābdika—of
years; bāla—as a boy; ābhaḥ—whose appearance; kaḥ api—someone; āgāt—arrived;
ūrdhva—higher; lokataḥ—from a planet.
Once, someone arrived from a higher planet. His form surrounded by brilliant light, he was
dressed by the directions only. He appeared to be a five- or six-year-old boy.
Since the residents of Maharloka frequently travel to Janaloka, the two planets are practically
a single system. The one difference between them is that on Janaloka the fire of annihilation
from below is far enough away that there is no need to flee. Gopa-kumāra knew all this from
experience. The next world for him to see was Tapoloka, so now he is being introduced to its
greatness. Having never heard of Tapoloka, Gopa-kumāra here refers to it as “a higher
The unknown person who suddenly arrived from the higher regions looked like a small child
and was naked. To go naked is normal for five-year-old children, at least in the natural Vedic
BB 2.2.68
vihāya yajṣa-karmāṇi
bhaktyotthāya maharṣibhiḥ
praṇamya dhyāna-niṣṭho ’sau
yajṣeśvara-vad arcitaḥ
vihāya—putting aside; yajṣa-karmāṇi—their sacrificial rituals; bhaktyā—with devotion;
utthāya—who stood up; mahā-ṛṣibhiḥ—by the great sages; praṇamya—being bowed down to;
dhyāna—in meditation; niṣṭhaḥ—absorbed; asau—he; yajṣa-īśvara-vat—like the Lord of
sacrifice; arcitaḥ—worshiped.
The great sages put aside their sacrificial rituals, stood up with devotion, bowed down to the
boy, who was absorbed in meditation, and worshiped him as if he were the Lord of sacrifice
Bhṛgu and the others honored the little boy, who remained silent.
BB 2.2.69
yathā-kāmaṁ gate tasmin
mayā pṛṣṭā maharṣayaḥ
kutratyaḥ katamo vāyaṁ
bhavadbhir vārcitaḥ katham
yathā-kāmam—by his free will; gate—having gone; tasmin—he; mayā—by me; pṛṣṭāḥ—
asked; mahā-ṛṣayaḥ—the great sages; kutratyaḥ—wherefrom; katamaḥ—what kind of person;
vā—or; ayam—this; bhavadbhiḥ—by your good selves; vā—and; arcitaḥ—worshiped;
After that person, as it pleased him, went away, I inquired from the maharṣis, “Who was that,
and where did he come from? Why is it that you great souls worshiped him?”
The boy was so exalted that no force could impede him from going wherever he wanted. By
his own sweet will, he left as suddenly as he had come. Seeing this puzzled Gopa-kumāra.
The sages of Maharloka were worshipable for the demigods. Living in a realm above all other
creatures, the sages enjoyed worshiping the Lord of sacrifice in person. Who other than the
Lord could command their respect? And why had they interrupted their sacrifices to honor
that visitor?
BB 2.2.70
śrī-maharṣaya ūcuḥ
jyeṣṭho ’smākaṁ mahat-tamaḥ
ādyācāryo bṛhad-vrataḥ
śrī-mahā-ṛṣayaḥ ūcuḥ—the great sages said; sanat-kumāra—Sanat-kumāra; nāmā—of the
name; ayam—he; jyeṣṭhaḥ—the eldest; asmākam—of us; mahat-tamaḥ—the greatest; ātmaārāma—of self-contented sages; āpta-kāmānām—whose desires are always fulfilled; ādya—
the first; ācāryaḥ—preceptor; bṛhat-vrataḥ—a lifelong celibate.
The maharṣis said: That person is Sanat-kumāra, the eldest among us, and the greatest. He is
the first preceptor of the self-contented sages, whose desires are always fulfilled, and he is a
lifelong celibate.
The chief residents of Maharloka are sons of Brahmā, and Sanat-kumāra is their brother, the
eldest of Brahmā’s sons. He is better than the other sages because unlike them he never
entered f.aily life, even on Brahmā’s request. This answers the question “Who was that?”
BB 2.2.71
ita ūrdhva-tare loke
tapaḥ-saṁjṣe vasaty asau
bhrātṛbhis tribhir anyaiś ca
yogīndraiḥ sva-samaiḥ saha
itaḥ—than this place; ūrdhva-tare—much higher; loke—in the world; tapaḥ-saṁjṣe—known
as Tapas; vasati—lives; asau—he; bhrātṛbhiḥ—with his brothers; tribhiḥ—three; anyaiḥ—
other; ca—and; yogī-indraiḥ—with master yogīs; sva-samaiḥ—equal to himself; saha—
He lives in the world above ours, called Tapoloka, with his three brothers and with other great
mystics who, like him, are masters of yoga.
Here the sages answer the question “Where did he come from?” He is not the only one of his
kind, for he has three brothers just as great as he—Sanaka, Sanandana, and Sanātana. These
four brothers live on Tapoloka, along with other great mystics, including Kavi, Havis,
Antarikṣa, Prabuddha, and Pippalāyana.
BB 2.2.72
bṛhad-vrataika-labhyo yaḥ
kṣemaṁ yasmin sadā sukham
prājāpatyāt sukhāt koṭiguṇitaṁ cordhva-retasam
kṣemam—security; yasmin—where; sadā—constant; sukham—happiness; prājāpatyāt—of
the progenitors of the universe; sukhāt—than the happiness; koṭi-guṇitam—millions of times
greater; ca—and; ūrdhva-retasam—of those whose semen moves upward.
That world is attainable only by unbroken celibacy. Its residents, their semen retained flowing
upward, feel a constant peace and happiness millions of times greater than enjoyed by the
progenitors of the universe.
Bṛhad-vrata is the “great vow” of lifelong restraint from sex. One may begin observing
celibacy after years of indulgence, or one may practice strict celibacy as a brahmacārī for the
years of one’s studies and then enter regulated married life. Both kinds of celibacy are very
beneficial, but only the rare person with exceptional determination to refrain from all forms of
sex for his entire life is allowed to become a resident of Tapoloka.
Life on Tapoloka is all-auspicious. There is no trouble from the heat of periodic annihilations
and no need to migrate to a higher region. On Tapoloka the cataclysms at the annihilation of
the three worlds go unnoticed. The yogeśvaras on Tapoloka enjoy undisturbed peace and
BB 2.2.73
yathā yajṣeśvaraḥ pūjyas
tathāyaṁ ca viśeṣataḥ
gṛha-sthānām ivāsmākaṁ
sva-kṛtya-tyāgato ’pi ca
yathā—as; yajṣa-īśvaraḥ—the Lord of sacrifice; pūjyaḥ—worshipable; tathā—so; ayam—he;
ca—also; viśeṣataḥ—especially; gṛha-sthānām—for family men; iva—like; asmākam—us;
sva-kṛtya—prescribed ritual duties; tyāgataḥ—because of his renunciation; api—indeed; ca—
Especially for householders like us, that person is worthy of worship, as much as the Lord of
sacrifice Himself, for he has renounced all material duties.
Here the sages answer the question “Why did you great souls worship him?” Sanat-kumāra is
honored throughout the universe because he is a direct representative of the Personality of
Godhead. Learned authorities consider him an empowered incarnation of the Lord, and he is
also a preeminent Vaiṣṇava. The Prajāpatis of Maharloka especially revered him because he
was their honored guest and a renounced brahmacārī. The position of one who adheres to
strict celibacy is generally considered superior to that of gṛhasthas. But as the word iva in this
verse implies, the sages of Maharloka are not ordinary householders. They have very little
attachment to home, property, or other material things.
BB 2.2.74
śrī-gopa-kumāra uvāca
tato ’karṣam ahaṁ citte
tatrāho kīdṛśaṁ sukham
īdṛśāḥ kati vānye syur
eṣāṁ pūjyaś ca kīdṛśaḥ
śrī-gopa-kumāraḥ uvāca—Śrī Gopa-kumāra said; tataḥ—then; akarṣam—pondered; aham—I;
citte—in my mind; tatra—there (on Tapoloka); aho—oh; kīdṛśam—what kind of; sukham—
happiness; īdṛśāḥ—such persons; kati—how many; vā—and; anye—others; syuḥ—there must
be; eṣām—by them; pūjyaḥ—worshiped; ca—and; kīdṛśaḥ—what kind of person.
Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: I then wondered, “Indeed, what kind of happiness do they enjoy on
Tapoloka? How many more are there like him? And what kind of Lord do they worship?”
Hearing the answers of the sages was enough to inspire Gopa-kumāra to go to Tapoloka. Even
though his main interest in life was to see the Lord of the universe, he did not consider such a
journey inappropriate. He reasoned that if this wonderful person and the others on his planet
like him possess opulences like those of God, whatever form of God they worship must be
even more wonderful and opulent than they.
BB 2.2.75
evaṁ tāṣ ca didṛkṣuḥ san
samāhita-manā japan
bhūtvā parama-tejasvī
taṁ lokaṁ vegato ’gamam
evam—thus; tān—all of them; ca—and; didṛkṣuḥ—eager to see; san—being; samāhita—
concentrated; manāḥ—with mind; japan—chanting; bhūtvā—becoming; parama—very;
tejasvī—powerful; tam—to that; lokam—world; vegataḥ—swiftly; agamam—I went.
Eager to see all those persons for myself, I chanted my mantra with fixed attention. Thus
gaining great potency, I quickly traveled to that world.
Gopa-kumāra wanted to see Sanat and his brothers on their own planet and see their
worshipable Lord. He focused his mind intensely on this single aim, turning his attention
inward in imitation of Sanat-kumāra, whom he had seen absorbed in deep meditation. By the
power of the mantra, he soon became infused with the same subtle strength as the Kumāra
brothers and was quickly able to rise to their exalted planet.
BB 2.2.76
tatra dṛṣṭo mayā śrīmān
sanako ’tha sanandanaḥ
asau sanat-kumāro ’pi
caturthaś ca sanātanaḥ
tatra—there; dṛṣṭaḥ—seen; mayā—by me; śrīmān sanakaḥ—the blessed Sanaka; atha—and;
caturthaḥ—the fourth; ca—and; sanātanaḥ—Sanātana.
There I saw that same Sanat-kumāra, and the blessed Sanaka, and Sanandana, and the fourth
brother, Sanātana.
BB 2.2.77
sammanyamānās tatratyais
tādṛśair eva te mithaḥ
sukha-goṣṭhīṁ vitanvānāḥ
santy agamyāṁ hi mādṛśaiḥ
sammanyamānāḥ—being honored with reverence; tatratyaiḥ—by the residents of that place;
tādṛśaiḥ—who were similar to them; eva—indeed; te—they; mithaḥ—among one another;
sukha-goṣṭhīm—an enjoyable discussion; vitanvānāḥ—conducting; santi—they were;
agamyām—incomprehensible; hi—certainly; mādṛśaiḥ—to persons like me.
The residents of Tapoloka, who appeared similar to the Kumāras, were honoring the four
brothers. The Kumāras were enjoying among themselves a long discussion incomprehensible
to persons like me.
The other residents of Tapoloka are also worshipable, simply because they resemble, in bodily
appearance as well as character, the four Kumāras, who are directly empowered avatāras of
the Supreme Lord. When Gopa-kumāra first saw these four brothers, they were elaborately
discussing among themselves matters such as those narrated in Chapter 87 of ŚrīmadBhāgavatam, Tenth Canto, “Prayers by the Personified Vedas.” Gopa-kumāra understood
little of what they were talking about because he was uneducated about liberation and
devotional service.
BB 2.2.78
bhagaval-lakṣaṇaṁ teṣu
tādṛṅ nāsti tathāpy abhūt
teṣāṁ sandarśanāt tatra
mahān modo mama svataḥ
bhagavat—of the Personality of Godhead; lakṣaṇam—the marks; teṣu—in them; tādṛk—such;
na asti—there were not; tathā api—but nevertheless; abhūt—there arose; teṣām—of them;
sandarśanāt—from seeing; tatra—there (on Tapoloka); mahān—great; modaḥ—joy; mama—
my; svataḥ—spontaneously.
Though they did not have the distinguishing attributes of God, from seeing those brothers on
Tapoloka I felt an intense spontaneous joy.
Gopa-kumāra usually derived his happiness only from seeing the Lord of the universe, but he
was delighted to see the Kumāras because of their intimate connection with the Lord, even
though they did not have four arms like Lord Viṣṇu or display His infinite powers. Because of
the greatness of Tapoloka, seeing Sanat-kumāra and his brothers there was more blissful for
Gopa-kumāra than seeing Sanat on Maharloka. In general, a situation is glorious when the
place and time are glorious, as well as the persons involved.
BB 2.2.79
yathā-sthānaṁ prayāteṣu
dhyāna-niṣṭheṣu teṣv atha
draṣṭuṁ bhramāmi sambhāvya
pūrva-vaj jagad-īśvaram
yathā-sthānam—each to his own place; prayāteṣu—having gone away; dhyāna—in
meditation; niṣṭheṣu—absorbed; teṣu—they; atha—then; draṣṭum—to see; bhramāmi—I
began to wander; sambhāvya—searching for; pūrva-vat—as before; jagat-īśvaram—the Lord
of the universe.
When they went off to their respective places to absorb themselves in meditation, I started
wandering, searching as always for the Lord of the universe.
The assembly finished, the Kumāras and their associates disappeared from the spot and
returned to their individual places of meditation. Gopa-kumāra, left to himself, turned his
mind to his favorite topic, the Lord of universe. He conjectured that since the Lord was visible
on Svargaloka and Maharloka, the Lord must be visible here as well. With that idea in mind,
Gopa-kumāra began searching. Why didn’t he just ask someone where to find the Lord? He
had no time to ask anything, because at first the four Kumāras had been receiving the worship
of a large crowd of sages and immediately afterwards everyone reverted into trance.
BB 2.2.80
itas tato na dṛṣṭvā tam
apṛcchaṁ tān mahā-munīn
na te stuvantaṁ mām agre
namantaṁ lokayanty api
itaḥ tataḥ—here and there; na dṛṣṭvā—not seeing; tam—Him; apṛccham—I asked; tān—them;
mahā-munīn—the great sages; na—not; te—they; stuvantam—who was offering praise;
mām—me; agre—in front of them; namantam—bowing down; lokayanti—they looked at;
Not seeing Him anywhere, I tried to inquire of the great sages, but as I stood before them
offering prayers and obeisances they did not even look at me.
BB 2.2.81
prāyaḥ sarve samādhi-sthā
naiṣṭhikā ūrdhva-retasaḥ
svātmārāmāḥ pūrṇa-kāmāḥ
sevyamānāś ca siddhibhiḥ
prāyaḥ—virtually; sarve—everyone; samādhi-sthāḥ—fixed in trance; naiṣṭhikāḥ—lifelong
celibates; ūrdhva-retasaḥ—whose semen flowed upward; sva-ātma—in their own selves only;
ārāmāḥ—taking pleasure; pūrṇa-kāmāḥ—full with achievement of all desires; sevyamānāḥ—
served; ca—and; siddhibhiḥ—by mystic perfections.
Virtually everyone there was fixed in samādhi. They were all self-satisfied lifelong celibates,
full in the achievement of all desires and served by mystic perfections.
Occasionally the residents of Tapoloka have philosophical meetings or worship the Supreme,
but otherwise they remain externally disengaged. Nothing in the outside world attracts them.
BB 2.2.82
bhagavad-darśanāśā ca
mahatī phalitā na me
utābhūd viramantīva
teṣāṁ saṅga-svabhāvataḥ
bhagavat—the Supreme Lord; darśana—to see; āśā—desire; ca—and; mahatī—great;
phalitā—gratified; na—not; me—my; uta—indeed; abhūt—became; viramantī—ceasing;
iva—as if; teṣām—their; saṅga—of the association; svabhāvataḥ—by the influence.
This time my constant desire to see the Supreme Lord was ungratified,and indeed by the
influence of the company of the sages it seemed to dwindle almost to nil.
BB 2.2.83
tatrāthāpy avasaṁ teṣāṁ
guru-vāg-gauravād dṛṣṭa-
phalatvāc cātyajan japam
tatra—there; atha api—still; avasam—I remained; teṣām—their; prabhāva—of power;
bhara—the abundance; darśanāt—due to seeing; guru—of my spiritual master; vāk—for the
words; gauravāt—out of respect; dṛṣṭa—having seen; phalatvāt—the effectiveness; ca—and;
atyajan—not abandoning; japam—the chanting of my mantra.
Nonetheless, I stayed there for some time, attracted by the display of great power. Out of
respect for my guru’s order, and because I had seen how effective my mantra was, I kept on
The atmosphere of Tapoloka weakened Gopa-kumāra’s resolve to see the Lord, but still he
persevered in chanting his japa. His guru had ordered him never to stop chanting, and Gopakumāra did not want to be ungrateful by disobeying.
BB 2.2.84
sthāna-svabhāva-jāc cittaprasādānandato ’dhikam
tena sampadyamānena
sā didṛkṣā vivardhitā
sthāna—of that place; svabhāva-jāt—natural to; citta-prasāda—of my peaceful heart;
ānandataḥ—because of the bliss; adhikam—even more; tena—thus; sampadyamānena—being
realized; sā—that; didṛkṣā—the desire to see; vivardhitā—increased.
Thanks to the peaceful bliss in my heart that the nature of that place inspired, I chanted my
mantra even more attentively than before. Thus my desire to see the Lord actually increased.
At first the refined atmosphere of Tapoloka seemed to affect Gopa-kumāra negatively. The
pervasive mood of self-satisfaction seemed to reduce his desire to have the company of the
Supreme Lord. But that same peace of mind characteristic of Tapoloka gradually helped him
improve his chanting, and then the mantra exerted its own influence. As ghee poured on a fire
seems momentarily to extinguish the fire but then gives it new life, the atmosphere of
Tapoloka only briefly decreased Gopa-kumāra’s desire to see the Lord of the universe.
BB 2.2.85
sadā nīlācale rājajjagannātha-didṛkṣayā
yiyāsuṁ tatra saṁlakṣyābravīn māṁ pippalāyanaḥ
sadā—always; nīlācale—in Nīlācala; rājat—resplendent; jagannātha—Lord Jagannātha;
didṛkṣayā—with eagerness to see; yiyāsum—wanting to go; tatra—there; saṁlakṣya—
noticing; abravīt—spoke; mām—to me; pippalāyanaḥ—the sage Pippalāyana.
The sage Pippalāyana noticed that I eagerly desired to go to Nīlācala to see Lord Jagannātha,
who lives there always resplendent. The sage then spoke to me.
The thought of returning to Jagannātha Purī kept resurfacing in Gopa-kumāra’s heart, first in
Svarga, then on Maharloka, and now here on Tapoloka, for Lord Jagannātha did not manifest
Himself on the planets of the demigods and sages.
Pippalāyana Ṛṣi, the middle son of nine self-realized sons of Lord Ṛṣabhadeva, observed
Gopa-kumāra wandering aimlessly, a sad, discouraged look on his face. Śrī Pippalāyana was
practically omniscient, so he could easily understand the symptoms of Gopa-kumāra’s
BB 2.2.86
śrī-pippalāyana uvāca
idaṁ mahat padaṁ hitvā
katham anyad yiyāsasi
kathaṁ vā bhramasi draṣṭuṁ
dṛgbhyāṁ taṁ parameśvaram
śrī-pippalāyanaḥ uvāca—Śrī Pippalāyana said; idam—this; mahat—exalted; padam—place;
hitvā—leaving; katham—why; anyat—to another; yiyāsasi—you want to go; katham—why;
vā—and; bhramasi—you are wandering; draṣṭum—to see; dṛgbhyām—with your two eyes;
tam—Him; parama-īśvaram—the Supreme Lord.
Śrī Pippalāyana said: Why do you want to leave this exalted place for another? And why are
you wandering around to see the Supreme Lord with your eyes?
In Pippalāyana’s opinion, the attempt to see the Supreme with one’s eyes is useless, because
the Lord is imperceptible to the material senses. Tapoloka is the planet of the greatest masters
of yoga, who have completely controlled their sex urge. And the happiness enjoyed on
Tapoloka is millions of times greater than that of the Prajāpatis. Where else could Gopakumāra want to go?
BB 2.2.87
samādhatsva manaḥ svīyaṁ
tato drakṣyasi taṁ svataḥ
sarvatra bahir antaś ca
sadā sākṣād iva sthitam
drakṣyasi—you will see; tam—Him; svataḥ—automatically; sarvatra—everywhere; bahiḥ—
outside; antaḥ—inside; ca—and; sadā—always; sākṣāt—in person; iva—as if; sthitam—
You should concentrate your mind in meditation. Then you will automatically see the Lord
everywhere, within and without, as if always before you in person.
Gopa-kumāra might ask why he shouldn’t go where he can directly see the Supreme Lord.
But Pippalāyana advises him instead to focus his attention within. When one fully cultivates
meditation and reaches the stage of samādhi, the form of the Lord will manifest itself on its
own strength, without one’s separate endeavor, just as a person’s face appears in a clean
mirror. If Gopa-kumāra follows the recommended yoga process, he will see the Supreme
within and without, or at least seemingly so (sākṣād iva), since in fact the Supreme cannot be
viewed with the external eyes. There is no use wandering around to find Him.
BB 2.2.88
paramātmā vāsudevaḥ
nitāntaṁ śodhite citte
sphuraty eṣa na cānyataḥ
parama-ātmā—the Supreme Soul; vāsudevaḥ—Lord Vāsudeva; sat-cit-ānanda—of eternity,
knowledge, and bliss; vigrahaḥ—the embodiment; nitāntam—completely; śodhite—purified;
citte—in a heart; sphurati—manifests; eṣaḥ—He; na—not; ca—and; anyataḥ—otherwise.
Lord Vāsudeva, the Supreme Soul, the embodiment of eternity, knowledge, and bliss, reveals
Himself in a thoroughly purified heart, and nowhere else.
Śrī Vāsudeva, the presiding Lord of consciousness, reveals Himself only within citta, the
heart, the subtle seat of awareness, more subtle than the mind. That is mentioned by Lord Śiva
in the Fourth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (4.3.23):
sattvaṁ viśuddhaṁ vasudeva-śabditaṁ
yad īyate tatra pumān apāvṛtaḥ
sattve ca tasmin bhagavān vāsudevo
hy adhokṣajo me namasā vidhīyate
“The state of pure consciousness, Kṛṣṇa consciousness, in which the Supreme Personality of
Godhead is revealed with no covering, is called vasudeva. In that pure state, I always offer
obeisances to Him, the Supreme Godhead, known as Vāsudeva, who is beyond the material
When one’s consciousness is completely pure, meaning that it reflects nothing but the
Supreme, then and only then does Lord Vāsudeva reveal Himself within the heart. Because
He is the personal essence of the Supreme Truth, self-manifesting and indivisible, the external
senses cannot perceive Him.
BB 2.2.89
tadānīṁ ca mano-vṛtty-antarābhāvāt su-sidhyati
cetasā khalu yat sākṣāc
cakṣuṣā darśanaṁ hareḥ
tadānīm—at that time; ca—and; manaḥ-vṛtti—activities of the mind; antara—other;
abhāvāt—because of there not being; su-sidhyati—becomes fully realized; cetasā—in the
heart; khalu—indeed; yat—which; sākṣāt—direct; cakṣuṣā—with the eyes; darśanam—
vision; hareḥ—of Lord Hari.
Then, with nothing else going in the mind, direct vision of Lord Hari with one’s eyes takes
place in the heart.
Here Pippalāyana anticipates Gopa-kumāra’s doubt: Is the meditation Pippalāyana is
describing as valid as direct perception with one’s eyes? Pippalāyana argues here that when
one seems to be seeing Lord Hari with one’s eyes, the source of that perception is actually
one’s heart. Only after the mind puts aside all other objects of perception does the Lord reveal
Himself in the heart. It is the mind that then performs the work of visualizing the Lord, though
the perceiver does not consciously analyze, “I am seeing the Personality of Godhead not with
my eyes but my mind.” According to Pippalāyana, one’s realization of the Supreme Lord
becomes vividly concrete (su-sidhyati) by the power of the mind, not the eyes, which with
their limited scope can neither comprehend the limbs of the Lord all at once nor fully
recognize His enchanting beauty.
BB 2.2.90
manaḥ-sukhe ’ntar bhavati
sarvendriya-sukhaṁ svataḥ
tad-vṛttiṣv api vāk-cakṣuḥśruty-ādīndriya-vṛttayaḥ
manaḥ—of the mind; sukhe—in the happiness; antaḥ—within; bhavati—is; sarva-indriya—of
all the senses; sukham—the happiness; svataḥ—naturally; tat—of it (the mind); vṛttiṣu—
within the functions; api—and; vāk—of speech; cakṣuḥ—vision; śruti—hearing; ādi—and so
on; indriya—senses; vṛttayaḥ—the functions.
When the mind is happy, all the senses are automatically happy, for the functions of speech,
vision, hearing, and the other senses are included within the functions of the mind.
Gopa-kumāra might prefer the tangible pleasure of seeing with his eyes to the abstract
enjoyment of the mind. But here Pippalāyana tells him that happiness of mind extends not
only to the eyes but to all one’s senses. Indeed, when the mind is distressed the senses will
surely not perceive happiness, because the senses will not even be invoked to contact their
objects. The correlation between happiness of mind and happiness for the senses is natural
and automatic, since all the senses are rooted in the mind. Just as the branches and leaves of a
tree are nourished when the tree is watered at the root, when the mind is satisfied so too are
senses, with no need for them to make separate efforts.
Still, Gopa-kumāra might say that what the mind does when one remembers falls short of
what the organs like those of speech and vision do when, for example, one chants and sees. In
other words, don’t the senses, being many and varied, enjoy greater pleasure than the mind?
Pippalāyana answers that the functions of all the senses are included in the functions of the
mind. Chanting the Lord’s names, seeing His Deity, and all other sensory activities are made
possible by the action of the mind.
BB 2.2.91
mano-vṛttiṁ vinā sarvendriyāṇāṁ vṛttayo ’phalāḥ
kṛtāpīhākṛteva syād
ātmany anupalabdhitaḥ
manaḥ-vṛttim—the functioning of the mind; vinā—without; sarva-indriyāṇām—of all the
senses; vṛttayaḥ—the functions; aphalāḥ—useless; kṛtāḥ—made; api—even; īhā—an
endeavor; akṛtā—not done; iva—as if; syāt—will be; ātmani—in the self; anupalabdhitaḥ—
because of not being perceived.
Without the functions of the mind, the functions of all the senses are useless, for even if one
acts, one’s deeds will be as if never performed, because the self will be unable to perceive
The same point is reargued here, but by negative logic. When the mind is inattentive, the
senses may be active, but they cannot establish real contact with their objects. Each sense has
its own proper object—form for the sense of sight, texture for touch, and so on. The purpose
of the senses is achieved when they contact their objects and perception occurs. Perception,
however, requires the active participation of two other agents as well—the mind and the
living soul. If the mind is not focused on a sense receiving input from an object, no sensation
will reach the self, and no conscious perception will arise.
This explanation from everyday life, anyone can understand. By extension, Pippalāyana
argues, one’s “seeing” the Personality of Godhead is in reality the Lord’s manifesting Himself
through the functions of one’s purified consciousness. It is not direct perception through the
eyes, because the Supreme Lord stands outside the scope of the activity of the senses.
BB 2.2.92
kadācid bhakta-vātsalyād
yāti ced dṛśyatāṁ dṛśoḥ
jṣāna-dṛṣṭyaiva taj jātam
abhimānaḥ paraṁ dṛśoḥ
kadācit—sometimes; bhakta—for His devotees; vātsalyāt—out of His compassion; yāti—He
becomes; cet—if; dṛśyatām—visible; dṛśoḥ—to the eyes; jṣāna—of knowledge; dṛṣṭyā—by
the vision; eva—only; tat—this; jātam—occurs; abhimānaḥ—false identification; param—
only; dṛśoḥ—of the eyes.
If the Lord, out of compassion for His devotees, sometimes reveals Himself to their eyes, that
vision actually occurs by the power of the mind; one only imagines the eyes to be the seers.
But didn’t devotees like Dhruva and Prahlāda see the Supreme Lord directly with their eyes?
Aren’t those devotees famous for having seen the Lord in person? Yes, the Lord made
Himself visible to those great devotees out of fatherly affection, to fulfill the purpose of their
eyes. But in fact, Pippalāyana says, the devotees beheld those revelations through pure
consciousness, not through the physical eyes. Because the scope of our physical sight is
narrow, with our eyes we are unable to perceive an object that has no limits. Why then are
Dhruva, Prahlāda, and others famous for having had the Lord’s darśana? And why is He
famous as bhakta-vatsala, He who shows affection for His devotees? It is because in each case
the devotee, the jīva soul, identifying with his own senses, presumed, “I am seeing the Lord
directly with my eyes.” That those devotees thought that way is evidence that the Personality
of Godhead was kind to them. And that the sense of sight fails to perceive what is beyond its
scope does not mean that the eyes are utterly useless.
BB 2.2.93
tasya kāruṇya-śaktyā vā
dṛśyo ’stv api bahir-dṛśoḥ
tathāpi darśanānandaḥ
sva-yonau jāyate hṛdi
tasya—His; kāruṇya—of mercy; śaktyā—by the potency; vā—or; dṛśyaḥ—visible; astu—He
may be; api—also; bahiḥ-dṛśoḥ—to the external eyes; tathā api—nonetheless; darśana—of
seeing; ānandaḥ—the bliss; sva-yonau—in its source; jāyate—is generated; hṛdi—in the heart.
And even if by the power of His mercy He becomes visible to external eyes, the bliss that
arises from seeing Him has its natural source in the heart.
But isn’t the Supreme Lord, by His personal energies, free to do anything He wants? Yes, but
miracles are for the ultimate benefit of the conscious soul, rather than for the soul’s inert
senses. The power of the Lord’s compassion could indeed make the physical eyes able to
perceive Him, if He so desired; but the fruit of that perception, the pleasure felt from it, would
still come from where pleasure, pain, and anxiety are always born—the mind.
BB 2.2.94
anantaraṁ ca tatraiva
vilasan paryavasyati
mana eva mahā-pātraṁ
anantaram—subsequently; ca—and; tatra eva—in that very place; vilasan—sporting;
paryavasyati—continues; manaḥ—the mind; eva—only; mahā-pātram—the worthy recipient;
tat—from Him; sukha—of happiness; grahaṇa—for taking; ucitam—fit.
That bliss later continues in the heart even after the Lord is no longer visible to the eyes. Thus
the worthy receiver of that bliss is the mind alone.
After an audience with the Lord, when He is no longer visible to the eyes, the pleasure of
having seen Him lingers in the heart: “Oh, with my own eyes I saw the Personality of
Godhead! I saw Him right before me!” That the ecstasy of seeing the Lord continues in the
heart after the eyes can no longer perceive Him indicates that the ecstasy resided only in the
heart all along. Why, then, presume the eyes to be the seers?
On the other hand, sight is one of the knowledge-acquiring senses. So why should it be unable
to generate and sustain pleasure? The answer, according to self-realized authorities, is that the
most suitable agent to receive the pleasure of seeing the Supreme Lord is the mind. The mind
is analogous to the most reliable minister of a king, a minister who alone in the king’s
entourage can be entrusted with the care of a most precious object.
BB 2.2.95
tat-prasādodayād yāvat
sukhaṁ vardheta mānasam
tāvad vardhitum īśīta
na cānyad bāhyam indriyam
tat—in that mind; prasāda—of calmness; udayāt—from the appearance; yāvat—as much as;
vardhitum—to increase; īśīta—is capable; na—not; ca—and; anyat—other; bāhyam—
external; indriyam—sense.
As much as the mind becomes peaceful, to that extent its pleasure grows. No external sense
can feel such expanding pleasure.
Commentary It may be argued that the mind is limited in scope, like the other senses. That is
true, but when the mind becomes cleared of contamination, the Lord, being satisfied, is
prepared to bestow His full mercy. The soul’s pure consciousness, reflected in the mind, is
then able to sustain the image of the Supreme Lord. The external senses are unable to do this.
BB 2.2.96
antar-dhyānena dṛṣṭo ’pi
sākṣād dṛṣṭa iva prabhuḥ
kṛpā-viśeṣaṁ tanute
pramāṇaṁ tatra padmajaḥ
antaḥ—within; dhyānena—by meditation; dṛṣṭaḥ—seen; api—indeed; sākṣāt—before one’s
eyes; dṛṣṭaḥ—seen; iva—as if; prabhuḥ—the Lord; kṛpā—His mercy; viśeṣam—special;
tanute—expands; pramāṇam—evidence; tatra—of this; padma-jaḥ—lotus-born Brahmā.
When the Lord expands His special mercy, one sees the Lord within by meditation as if
directly with the eyes. This we can understand from what happened to lotus-born Brahmā.
Out of respect for the sage Pippalāyana, we may theoretically accept that one derives more
happiness from meditating on the Supreme than from trying to see Him with one’s physical
eyes. But isn’t it also well known that by seeing the Lord directly one gains the special
happiness of receiving benedictions from Him, speaking with Him, and having other personal
interactions? That may be true, the sage answers, but when the Lord is seen within He
mercifully provides all those same benefits. He reveals Himself within the heart so that He
can give boons, speak with His devotee, touch him, and so on. He can do this from within the
heart because He is the almighty Lord (prabhu), who has special energies that easily arrange
for Him all these wonderful things.
As a concrete historical example, Pippalāyana cites the case of Lord Brahmā. The epithet
“lotus-born” (padma-ja) implies that when Brahmā was first born he found himself sitting on
a lotus. As described in the Second Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Brahmā, surrounded by the
darkness of annihilation, did not know how to proceed in re-creating the universe. A
mysterious voice then told him to meditate, and when he did, the Supreme revealed Himself
and His abode:
tasmai sva-lokaṁ bhagavān sabhājitaḥ
sandarśayām āsa paraṁ na yat-param
sva-dṛṣṭavadbhir puruṣair abhiṣṭutam
“Very much satisfied with the penance of Lord Brahmā, the Personality of Godhead was
pleased to manifest His personal abode, Vaikuṇṭha, the supreme planet above all others. That
transcendental abode of the Lord is adored by the self-realized persons freed from all miseries
and all fear of illusory existence.” (Bhāgavatam 2.9.9)
In Vaikuṇṭha, Brahmā saw the Personality of Godhead Nārāyaṇa:
dadarśa tatrākhila-sātvatāṁ patiṁ
śriyaḥ patiṁ yajṣa-patiṁ jagat-patim
sva-pārṣadāgraiḥ parisevitaṁ vibhum
bhṛtya-prasādābhimukhaṁ dṛg-āsavaṁ
kirīṭinaṁ kuṇḍalinaṁ catur-bhujaṁ
pītāṁśukaṁ vakṣasi lakṣitaṁ śriyā
“Lord Brahmā saw in the Vaikuṇṭha planets the Personality of Godhead, who is the Lord of
the entire devotee community, the Lord of the goddess of fortune, the Lord of all sacrifices,
and the Lord of the universe. The Lord was being served by His foremost immediate
associates, His loving servitors like Nanda, Sunanda, Prabala, and Arhaṇa. He was leaning
favorably towards them, His very sight intoxicating and attractive, His smiling face decorated
with an enchanting reddish hue, and He appeared very much satisfied. He was dressed in
yellow robes and wore earrings and a helmet on His head. He had four hands, and His chest
was marked with the lines of the goddess of fortune.” (Bhāgavatam 2.9.15–16)
Brahmā not only saw the amazing form of the Lord but also had an intimate personal
exchange with Him:
hṛṣyat-tanuḥ prema-bharāśru-locanaḥ
nanāma pādāmbujam asya viśva-sṛg
yat pāramahaṁsyena pathādhigamyate
taṁ prīyamāṇaṁ samupasthitaṁ kaviṁ
prajā-visarge nija-śāsanārhaṇam
babhāṣa īṣat-smita-śociṣā girā
priyaḥ priyaṁ prīta-manāḥ kare spṛśan
“Lord Brahmā, thus seeing the Personality of Godhead in His fullness, was overwhelmed with
joy within his heart, and in full transcendental love and ecstasy his eyes filled with tears. He
thus bowed down before the Lord. That is the way of the highest perfection for the living
being. And the Lord, seeing Brahmā present before Him, accepted him as worthy to create
living beings to be controlled as the Lord desired. Thus being very much satisfied with
Brahmā, the Lord shook hands with him and, slightly smiling, addressed him.” (Bhāgavatam
When Lord Nārāyaṇa spoke to Brahmā in a way that encouraged him to ask a boon, Brahmā
asked for instructions on how to create the universe for the conditioned living entities, and the
Lord responded by imparting to him the four-verse encapsulation of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
Then Lord Nārāyaṇa disappeared from Brahmā’s sight:
sampradiśyaivam ajano
janānāṁ parameṣṭhinam
paśyatas tasya tad rūpam
ātmano nyaruṇad dhariḥ
“After the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, seen in His transcendental form, instructed
Brahmājī, the leader of the living entities, the Lord disappeared.” (Bhāgavatam 2.9.38)
As these passages clearly show, Brahmā meditated on the Supreme Lord in his heart, and then
the Lord mercifully appeared, offered him boons, spoke with him, and touched him. These
events arose out of Brahmā’s inner meditation.
The Third Canto gives a similar description:
kālena so ’jaḥ puruṣāyuṣābhipravṛtta-yogena virūḍha-bodhaḥ
svayaṁ tad antar-hṛdaye ’vabhātam
apaśyatāpaśyata yan na pūrvam
mṛṇāla-gaurāyata-śeṣa-bhogaparyaṅka ekaṁ puruṣaṁ śayānam
phaṇātapatrāyuta-mūrdha-ratnadyubhir hata-dhvānta-yugānta-toye
“At the end of Brahmā’s one hundred years, when his meditation was complete, he developed
the required knowledge, and as a result he could see the Supreme within himself, whom he
could not see before with the greatest endeavor. Brahmā saw on the water a gigantic lotuslike
white bedstead, the body of Śeṣa Nāga, on which the Personality of Godhead was lying alone.
The whole atmosphere was illuminated by the rays of the jewels bedecking the hood of Śeṣa
Nāga, dissipating all the darkness of those regions.” (Bhāgavatam 3.8.22–23)
sa karma-bījaṁ rajasoparaktaḥ
prajāḥ sisṛkṣann iyad eva dṛṣṭvā
astaud visargābhimukhas tam īḍyam
avyakta-vartmany abhiveśitātmā
“Lord Brahmā, thus surcharged with the mode of passion, became inclined to create, and after
seeing the five causes of creation indicated by the Personality of Godhead, he offered
respectful prayers on the path of the creative mentality.” (Bhāgavatam 3.8.33)
After Brahmā offered his prayers, Lord Nārāyaṇa responded:
mā veda-garbha gās tandrīṁ
sarga udyamam āvaha
tan mayāpāditaṁ hy agre
yan māṁ prārthayate bhavān
“O Brahmā, O depth of Vedic wisdom, be neither depressed nor anxious about undertaking
the creation. What you are begging from Me has already been granted.” (Bhāgavatam 3.9.29)
prīto ’ham astu bhadraṁ te
lokānāṁ vijayecchayā
yad astauṣīr guṇa-mayaṁ
nirguṇaṁ mānuvarṇayan
“I am very much pleased by your description of Me in terms of My transcendental qualities,
which appear mundane to the mundaners. I grant you all benedictions in your desire to glorify
the planets by your acts.” (Bhāgavatam 3.9.39)
BB 2.2.97
sākṣād darśanam apy asya
bhaktānām eva harṣa-dam
sākṣāt—direct; darśanam—vision; api—indeed; asya—His; bhaktānām—for the devotees;
eva—only; harṣa-dam—giving joy; kaṁsa-duryodhana-ādīnām—for Kaṁsa, Duryodhana,
and others; bhaya—in terms of fear; doṣa—other faulty emotions; ādinā—and so on; ucyate—
is described.
It is said that seeing the Lord in person gives joy to His devotees but causes fear and other
hard emotions for others, like Duryodhana and Kaṁsa.
Isn’t seeing the Lord in person the most ecstatic form of His mercy, and isn’t it the perfection
of devotional meditation? Yes, but only for the Lord’s surrendered devotees, not for His
enemies. As the historical accounts of scripture tell us, when demons saw Him they felt only
troublesome emotions like anger, envy, remorse, and sorrow.
BB 2.2.98-99
TEXTS 98–99
parānanda-ghanaṁ śrīmat
nārāyaṇasya rūpaṁ tat
sākṣāt sampaśyatām api
asurāṇāṁ durātmanām
na līno duṣṭa-bhāvo ’pi
sarva-pīḍā-karo hi yaḥ
para-ānanda—of supreme ecstasy; ghanam—the concentrated essence; śrīmat—endowed with
all splendor and opulence; sarva-indriya—of all the senses; guṇa—for the functions;
aṣjanam—a medicinal ointment; nārāyaṇasya—of Lord Nārāyaṇa; rūpam—personal form;
tat—that; sākṣāt—directly; sampaśyatām—who were seeing; api—even; madhu-kaiṭabha—
Madhu and Kaiṭabha; mukhyānām—the chief of whom; asurāṇām—of demons;
durātmanām—evil-minded; na—not; līnaḥ—dissolved; duṣṭa—evil; bhāvaḥ—the disposition;
api—even; sarva—to all persons; pīḍā—distress; karaḥ—causing; hi—indeed; yaḥ—which.
The beautiful, all-opulent form of Lord Nārāyaṇa, the concentrated essence of supreme bliss,
refines the functions of all the senses. Yet demons like Madhu and Kaiṭabha, even after seeing
the Lord in person, did not lose their evil disposition, distressing to all.
Kaṁsa and Duryodhana were mentioned by name in the previous verse, and other enemies of
the Supreme Lord were indicated by the word ādi (“and so on”). Here Kaṁsa and
Duryodhana are left out, and instead the names of two other demons, Madhu and Kaiṭabha,
are cited. As Gopa-kumāra narrates his own history, he does not want to introduce the glories
of Śrī Kṛṣṇa until his student is properly prepared to hear them. Therefore he does not follow
up the mention of Kaṁsa and Duryodhana with further details of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes; that will
come later.
In the ancient past, millions of years before Kṛṣṇa’s appearance, great demons like Madhu,
Kaiṭabha, Maya, Tāraka, and Kālanemi had ample opportunities to see the Personality of
Godhead in person and without obstruction. Yet those demons did not achieve bliss from
seeing the Lord, and their wicked mentality never changed. They were durātmās, meaning
that their intelligence (ātmā) remained always impure, either because they had no devotion for
the Supreme Lord or because, by their demonic nature (ātmā), they were inimical rivals of the
The Lord’s beauty is the concentrated essence of all divine ecstasy (parānanda-ghanam). It is
endowed with all splendor and opulence (śrīmat), and therefore by manifesting His charm,
sweetness, and other unique characteristics, it gives pleasure to all the senses (sarvendriyaguṇāṣjanam). His beauty also pleases the senses by encouraging them to indulge in
transcendental gratification. Yet despite the all-attractive qualities of His beautiful form,
demons continue to hate the Lord even after they see Him.
Gopa-kumāra does not elaborate here on what Kaṁsa and Duryodhana felt when they saw
Kṛṣṇa, but we do have information about this from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other sources.
When Śrī Nanda-nandana was present in the tournament arena in Mathurā, His moonlike face
increased the love of His dear devotees, headed by Nanda Mahārāja, to the size of a vast
ocean. But King Kaṁsa, although born in the same Yadu dynasty as the cowherds of Vraja,
did not become joyful when he saw Kṛṣṇa in the arena; rather, as his heart filled with fear,
anger, and other painful emotions, it burned with agony. Again, in the assembly of the Kurus,
when Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s devotees like Vidura and Bhīṣma heard Kṛṣṇa’s nectarean words they were
delighted. But although Duryodhana and his friends of the Pūru dynasty were all relatives of
Kṛṣṇa who talked and sat with Him and had connections with Him by marriage, they felt no
pleasure from His presence; in fact, they were unable to give up their offensive hatred of
Kṛṣṇa’s dear devotees. In the minds of those demons, there was a conflagration of anguish,
kindled by perpetual anger, envy, pride, and hundreds of other faults, and not for an instant
did that fire cease to burn.
BB 2.2.100
TEXT 100
ānandaka-svabhāvo ’pi
bhaktān harṣayituṁ kuryād
durghaṭaṁ ca sa īśvaraḥ
ānandaka—bestowing ecstasy; svabhāvaḥ—whose nature; api—also; bhakti—of devotional
māhātmya—the greatness; darśanāt—by showing;
bhaktān—His devotees;
harṣayitum—to delight; kuryāt—He would create; durghaṭam—unlikely situations; ca—and;
saḥ—He; īśvaraḥ—the Supreme Lord.
The Supreme Lord, by nature the bestower of ecstasy, creates such unlikely situations to
delight His devotees by showing them the greatness of devotional service.
When the finite self has been perceived in its true form, someone may argue, there remains no
opportunity for mistakes and suffering. So when the concentrated embodiment of the Supreme
Truth, the infinite Personality of Godhead, has been perceived, how can faults and
unhappiness possibly continue unabated? In the current verse the sage Pippalāyana clears this
doubt. The Supreme Lord Nārāyaṇa can do what is supposed to be impossible. Just as He can
perform such a miracle as causing fire to give up its nature of emanating heat, He can hide His
nature of giving joy to the entire universe. His reason for doing this is to demonstrate a
particular feature of the glories of devotional service: Although bhakti, like the Lord Himself,
naturally emanates ecstasy without fail, only the Lord’s devotees relish bliss; the nondevotees
taste the opposite feelings. When the Lord reveals this aspect of the glory of devotional
service, those who are dedicated to Him become enlivened, because they know that such
examples will ultimately attract everyone to the bhakti process.
How can the Lord make the essential character of His devotional service disappear? After all,
fire can never stop giving heat. That may be true, but the Personality of Godhead has
manifold, inconceivable energies. And by their arrangement, even when the Supreme Lord
becomes visible, only persons endowed with pure devotion taste ecstasy. Others cannot
perceive it.
Thus we find that sometimes very advanced devotees express their approval of the fear, pain,
and other such emotions suffered by nondevotees. As Śrī Yudhiṣṭhira said in connection with
Śiśupāla and Dantavakra:
śapator asakṛd viṣṇuṁ
yad brahma param avyayam
śvitro na jāto jihvāyāṁ
nāndhaṁ viviśatus tamaḥ
“Although these two men repeatedly blasphemed the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord
Viṣṇu [Kṛṣṇa], the Supreme Brahman, they were quite healthy. Indeed, their tongues were not
attacked by white leprosy, nor did these men enter the darkest region of hellish life. We are
certainly most surprised by this.” (Bhāgavatam 7.1.19) Devotees like Yudhiṣṭhira approve of
severe punishment for enemies of the Lord who indulge in criticizing and abusing the Lord,
because the terrible fear and agony the offenders suffer in reaction serve as effective
counteraction (prāyaścitta) for their egregious sins and in the end the offenders gain the
highest benefit by becoming devotees.
BB 2.2.101
TEXT 101
bhaktau nava-vidhāyāṁ ca
mukhyaṁ smaraṇam eva hi
tat samagrendriya-śreṣṭhamano-vṛtti-samarpaṇam
bhaktau—in devotional service; nava-vidhāyām—of nine kinds; ca—and; mukhyam—the
principal; smaraṇam—remembrance; eva—only; hi—indeed; tat—that; samagra—all;
indriya—of the senses; śreṣṭha—which is the most important; manaḥ-vṛtti—of the activity of
the mind; samarpaṇam—the offering.
Of the nine kinds of devotional service, remembrance is the chief. It is an offering of the
activity of the mind, the most important of all the senses.
The sage’s idea is that remembrance (smaraṇa) is superior to other devotional processes, like
hearing and chanting (śravaṇa and kīrtana), because remembrance involves absorbing the
mind in thoughts of the Personality of Godhead whereas hearing and chanting engage only the
senses of hearing and speech, which are subordinate to the mind and therefore less important.
BB 2.2.102
TEXT 102
antar-aṅgāntar-aṅgāṁ tu
prema-bhaktiṁ yathā-ruci
dātum arhaty aviśrāmaṁ
mana eva samāhitam
antaḥ-aṅga—of everything confidential; antaḥ-aṅgām—the most confidential; tu—and;
prema-bhaktim—loving devotional service; yathā-ruci—according to one’s taste; dātum—to
give; arhati—is able; aviśrāmam—without cessation; manaḥ—the mind; eva—only;
samāhitam—fixed in meditation.
Only the mind fixed in meditation can unceasingly offer the Lord that offering which is the
most confidential: loving devotional service that follows one’s natural taste.
The sage Pippalāyana reasons that although jṣāna and vairāgya bring one close to the
Absolute Truth, only devotional service in prema brings one into the most intimate proximity.
And prema can develop only by full concentration of the mind. Since only the mind, the
superintendent of all the senses, can properly engage each sense with its objects, devotional
service rendered with the mind is secure, for it is unlikely to become disrupted.
BB 2.2.103-105
TEXTS 103–105
aśeṣa-sādhanaiḥ sādhyaḥ
yo vaśī-karaṇe gāḍhopāyo bhagavato ’dvayaḥ
tat-prasādaika-labhyo yas
padārthaḥ prema-saṁjṣakaḥ
pariṇāma-viśeṣe hi
ceto-vṛtter udeti saḥ
aśeṣa—all; sādhanaiḥ—by disciplines; sādhyaḥ—the goal to be aimed at; samasta-artha—of
all achievements; adhika-adhikaḥ—the topmost; yaḥ—which; vaśī-karaṇe—for bringing
under control; gāḍha—the potent; upāyaḥ—means; bhagavataḥ—of the Supreme Lord;
advayaḥ—without a second; tat—His; prasāda—by the mercy; eka—only; labhyaḥ—
obtainable; yaḥ—which; tat—His; bhakta—of the devotees; eka—only; mahā-nidhiḥ—rare
treasure; vicitra—of various kinds; parama-ānanda—of transcendental ecstasy; mādhurya—
and of sweetness; bhara—with an abundance; pūritaḥ—endowed; mahā—very much;
saṁjṣakaḥ—called prema; pariṇāma—in transformations; viśeṣe—special; hi—indeed;
cetaḥ—of the mind; vṛtteḥ—from the functions; udeti—arises; saḥ—it.
There is one goal of all disciplines, one highest attainment of all, the one potent means to
bring the Supreme Lord under one’s control. Only by the mercy of the Lord can it be gained.
It is the rare, exclusive treasure of His devotees, a treasure rich with every sort of
transcendental ecstasy and sweetness. Its wonderful glories are beyond the power to describe.
That attainment is called prema. It arises from special transformations of the functions of the
To uphold and further explain the statement of the previous verse, texts 103 through 105
describe seven characteristics of love of God. First, prema is the goal of all such disciplines as
karma, jṣāna, and vairāgya. It is the ultimate goal of existence. So even though worship of the
Supreme Lord is superior to religiosity, economic development, sense gratification, and
liberation, prema is superior to formal worship. Prema, in fact, is the very goal of worship.
Second, prema is the only sure means to bring the absolutely independent Lord under control.
It is the chain with which the Lord’s dearest devotees bind His lotus feet to subdue Him, as
one would subdue a mad elephant. Third, prema is attained only by the favor of the Supreme
Person, never by one’s own strength. Fourth, prema is the greatest treasure of the Lord’s
devotees—indeed, their only treasure—for it easily fulfills all their desires. Fifth, it is full to
overflowing with varieties of transcendental bliss so attractive that they ridicule the so-called
ecstasy found in impersonal realization of the Supreme. And therefore, sixth, its infinite
glories are beyond description. Finally, seventh, prema arises from the activity of the mind.
From the sixth of these traits of prema we can deduce another, too confidential for
Pippalāyana Ṛṣi to mention: Devotees established in prema join the Supreme Lord in His
pleasure pastimes. We will hear about this from the Lord’s personal associates in later
chapters, but on Tapoloka, where meditation is predominant, the topic is not befitting to
BB 2.2.106-107
TEXTS 106–107
manaso hi samādhānaṁ
manyase duṣkaraṁ yadi
cakṣuḥ-sāphalya-kāmo vā
bhagavantaṁ didṛkṣase
tad gaccha bhārataṁ varṣaṁ
tatra no ’tratyam īśvaram
nārāyaṇaṁ nara-sakhaṁ
paśyādrau gandhamādane
manasaḥ—of the mind; hi—certainly; samādhānam—the concentration; manyase—you think;
duṣkaram—difficult to do; yadi—if; cakṣuḥ—of the eyes; sāphalya—fulfilling the purpose;
kāmaḥ—desiring; vā—or; bhagavantam—the Personality of Godhead; didṛkṣase—you are
eager to see; tat—then; gaccha—go; bhāratam-varṣam—to the earth; tatra—there; naḥ—our;
atratyam—who resides there; īśvaram—the Supreme Lord; nārāyaṇam—Nārāyaṇa; narasakham—the friend of Nara; paśya—go see; adrau—at the mountain; gandhamādane—
If you think that focusing the mind in meditation is too difficult, or if you are eager to see the
Personality of Godhead to fulfill the purpose of your eyes, then go to Bhārata-varṣa. There
you will find our Lord residing on Gandhamādana Mountain as Nārāyaṇa, the friend of Nara.
Perhaps Gopa-kumāra feels himself unfit to achieve samādhi by yoga meditation. Or perhaps
he thinks that although samādhi may be easily available by the natural influence of Tapoloka
or by the power of his mantra, that samādhi will satisfy only his mind and not his eyes. In that
case, he can gratify his eyes by going to see Lord Nara-Nārāyaṇa on the earth.
BB 2.2.108
TEXT 108
antar bahiś ca paśyāmas
taṁ samādhi-parāyaṇāḥ
nāto viccheda-duḥkhaṁ syād
ity agāt tatra sa prabhuḥ
antaḥ—inside; bahiḥ—outside; ca—and; paśyāmaḥ—we see; tam—Him; samādhi—in
meditative trance; parāyaṇāḥ—being fixed; na—not; ataḥ—from Him; viccheda—because of
separation; duḥkham—suffering; syāt—there can be; iti—thus; agāt—went; tatra—there;
saḥ—He; prabhuḥ—the Lord.
We devotees of yoga-samādhi see Lord Nara-Nārāyaṇa both within ourselves and without.
And so, there being no danger of our suffering pain due to separation from the Lord, He went
to Gandhamādana.
The sages on Tapoloka need go nowhere else to see the forms of the Lord they worship. They
see the Lord within their hearts on the strength of their meditation, and that inner vision
presents itself externally wherever they look.
BB 2.2.109
TEXT 109
loka-śikṣā-hitārthaṁ tu
kurvann āste mahat tapaḥ
dhanur-vidyā-gurur brahmacāri-veśo jaṭā-dharaḥ
loka—of the world; śikṣā—by instruction; hita—of benefit; artham—for the sake; tu—and;
kurvan—performing; āste—He is present; mahat—great; tapaḥ—austerities; dhanuḥ-vidyā—
of the science of weaponry; guruḥ—a teacher; brahmacāri-veśaḥ—dressed as a brahmacārī;
jaṭā-dharaḥ—wearing matted locks.
Living there as a guru in the science of weaponry, He dresses as a brahmacārī, His hair in
matted locks, and performs severe austerities as an instruction for the benefit of the world.
Lord Nara-Nārāyaṇa teaches the world how to perform austerities for spiritual advancement.
He carries a bow and is expert in its use.
BB 2.2.110
TEXT 110
śrī-gopa-kumāra uvāca
tatraiva gantu-kāmaṁ māṁ
catvāraḥ sanakādayaḥ
paśyātraiva tam ity uktvā
bahu-rūpāṇy adarśayan
śrī-gopa-kumāraḥ uvāca—Śrī Gopa-kumāra said; tatra—there; eva—indeed; gantu-kāmam—
eager to go; mām—to me; catvāraḥ—the four; sanaka-ādayaḥ—Sanaka and the others;
paśya—just see; atra eva—right here; tam—Him; iti—thus; uktvā—saying; bahu—many;
rūpāṇi—forms; adarśayan—they showed.
Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: Observing that I was eager to go there, the four brothers headed by
Sanaka told me, “Just see, He is right here!” and showed me many forms of the Lord.
BB 2.2.111
TEXT 111
eko nārāyaṇo vṛtto
viṣṇu-rūpo ’paro ’bhavat
anyo yajṣeśa-rūpo ’bhūt
paro vividha-rūpavān
ekaḥ—one of them; nārāyaṇaḥ—Nārāyaṇa; vṛttaḥ—became; viṣṇu-rūpaḥ—in the form of
Viṣṇu; aparaḥ—another; abhavat—became; anyaḥ—other; yajṣa-īśa-rūpaḥ—in the form of
the Lord of sacrifice; abhūt—became; paraḥ—the other; vividha-rūpa-vān—assuming various
One brother assumed the form of Nārāyaṇa, another Viṣṇu, another the Lord of sacrifice, and
the last assumed several different forms.
The first brother, Sanaka, turned himself into the form of Lord Nara-Nārāyaṇa. His other
brothers showed Lord Viṣṇu’s forms as Vāmanadeva, as Lord Nṛsiṁha, as Lord Yajṣeśvara
(who appears on Maharloka), and as several other avatāras of Viṣṇu.
BB 2.2.112
TEXT 112
bhayena vepamānas tān
avocaṁ sāṣjalir naman
aparāddhaṁ mayā bāḍhaṁ
kṣamadhvaṁ dīna-vatsalāḥ
bhayena—with fear; vepamānaḥ—trembling; tān—to them; avocam—I said; sa-aṣjaliḥ—with
palms joined; naman—bowing down; aparāddham—offense has been committed; mayā—by
me; bāḍham—certainly; kṣamadhvam—please excuse me; dīna-vatsalāḥ—O friends of the
Trembling with fear, I joined my palms, bowed down and said, “I have surely offended you.
O kind friends of the fallen, please forgive me!”
BB 2.2.113
TEXT 113
spṛṣṭo ’haṁ tair mūrdhni labdhvā samādhiṁ
dṛṣṭāni prāk tāni rūpāṇy apaśyam
vyutthāne ’pi dhyāna-vegāt kadācit
pratyakṣāṇīvānupaśyeyam ārāt
spṛṣṭaḥ—touched; aham—I; taiḥ—by them; mūrdhni—on the head; labdhvā—attaining;
samādhim—meditative trance; dṛṣṭāni—seen; prāk—directly; tāni—those; rūpāṇi—forms;
apaśyam—I saw; vyutthāne—after I got up; api—and; dhyāna—of my meditation; vegāt—
from the momentum; kadācit—sometimes; pratyakṣāṇi—directly visible; iva—as if;
anupaśyeyam—I continued to see; ārāt—nearby.
They touched my head, and I attained a meditative trance, in which I directly saw those
various forms of the Lord. And even after I got up from meditating, by the momentum of my
trance I would sometimes behold, as if nearby, those same forms of God.
Gopa-kumāra, his mind nearly perfect in concentration, needed only this additional blessing
from the Kumāras to behold the fruit of samādhi. Although the japa meditation he had
performed in various places had been naive and without scientific understanding of yoga
practice, it was equivalent to many years of strict practice of meditation in the elevated
atmosphere of Tapoloka.
BB 2.2.114
TEXT 114
tato jape ’pi me niṣṭhām
avindata sukhaṁ svataḥ
kintv asyā mādhurī bhūmer
vyākulī-kurute manaḥ
tataḥ—then; jape—in the chanting of my mantra; api—also; me—my; niṣṭhām—
determination; avindata—achieved; sukham—joyful; svataḥ—spontaneously; kintu—but;
asyāḥ—of this; mādhurī—the sweetness; bhūmeḥ—of the land (Vraja); vyākulī-kurute—
would be agitated; manaḥ—my mind.
Then my japa easily improved in quality and became more joyful. But my mind was still
agitated by thoughts of this sweet land of Vraja.
Again the time came for Gopa-kumāra to move on. Texts 114 through 117 describe the
circumstances under which he lost his attachment for remaining in Tapoloka. He was chanting
his mantra better thanks to his concentration of mind and his visions of the Supreme Lord, but
the more intensely he chanted the more he remembered Śrī Vṛndāvana forest and his other
favorite places in Vraja-bhūmi. And these thoughts in separation from Vraja were painful.
BB 2.2.115
TEXT 115
suṣuptir iva kācin me
kadācij jāyate daśā
tayā jape ’ntarāyaḥ syāt
tat-tad-rūpekṣaṇe tathā
suṣuptiḥ—deep sleep; iva—as if; kācit—some; me—in me; kadācit—sometimes; jāyate—
manifest; daśā—a state; tayā—by this; jape—in my chanting; antarāyaḥ—interruption; syāt—
there would be; tat-tat—various; rūpa—of the Lord’s forms; īkṣaṇe—and in my seeing;
Sometimes my chanting and my visualizing of the Lord’s various forms would be disrupted
when I fell into a state resembling deep sleep.
As a secondary effect of samādhi, all mental and sensory activity may temporarily cease, and
one may enter a kind of void state similar to the deep sleep everyone goes through at night. In
that state, Gopa-kumāra was unable to chant his mantra or see the Lord’s personal forms.
BB 2.2.116
TEXT 116
vilapāmi tato nīlācalaṁ jigamiṣāmi ca
tatratyais tais tu tad-vṛttaṁ
pṛccheyāhaṁ sa-sāntvanam
vilapāmi—I would lament; tataḥ—then; nīlācalam—to Jagannātha Purī; jigamiṣāmi—I would
desire to go; ca—and; tatratyaiḥ—by the residents of that place; taiḥ—them; tu—but; tat—of
that (lamentation); vṛttam—the experience; pṛccheya—would be asked; aham—I; sasāntvanam—along with consolation.
I would lament over this and consider going to Nīlācala. The residents of Tapoloka would
console me and ask what I was going through.
After passing through these voidlike states, Gopa-kumāra would say to himself, “How
unfortunate I am! What is this unexpected disturbance?” He would then want to go see Lord
Jagannātha in Nīlācala, where he had never had to deal with such obstacles to his service.
Pippalāyana and the other Tapoloka-vāsīs tried to pacify him with sweet words and asked him
what was going on in his mind.
BB 2.2.117
TEXT 117
sa-śokaṁ kathyamānā sā
śrutvāmībhiḥ praśasyate
mayā tathā na budhyeta
duḥkham evānumanyate
amībhiḥ—by them; praśasyate—would be praised; mayā—by me; tathā—and; na budhyeta—
was not understood; duḥkham—troublesome; eva—only; anumanyate—I considered it.
Hearing my lamentful description, the sages would praise my state. I could not understand
their praise, because I thought what I was going through was troublesome.
Hearing Gopa-kumāra describe his predicament, the sages were impressed that he had very
quickly attained a rare state of pure trance. But either out of ignorance or because of his
natural devotional attitude, he was unable to understand what was so wonderful about his
lapses of consciousness.
BB 2.2.118
TEXT 118
bahiś ca jagad-īśvaram
tat-tad-rūpeṇa paśyāmi
pratyakṣam iva sarvataḥ
atha—then; abhyāsa—of practice; balena—by the strength; antaḥ—within; bahiḥ—without;
ca—and; jagat-īśvaram—the Lord of the universe; tat-tat-rūpeṇa—in His various forms;
paśyāmi—I would see; pratyakṣam—present before my eyes; iva—as if; sarvataḥ—
By the power of yoga practice I would then see the Lord of the universe all around me. I saw
Him within and without in His various forms, as if He were present everywhere before my
BB 2.2.119
TEXT 119
kadācit sanakādīṁś ca
dhyāna-niṣṭhā-vaśaṁ gatān
vindatas tāni rūpāṇi
dṛṣṭvāpnomi parāṁ mudam
kadācit—sometimes; sanaka-ādīn—Sanaka and the others; ca—and; dhyāna—in meditation;
niṣṭhā-vaśaṁ gatān—absorbed; vindataḥ—assuming; tāni—those; rūpāṇi—forms; dṛṣṭvā—
seeing; āpnomi—I would relish; parām—extreme; mudam—pleasure.
Sometimes when Sanaka and his brothers were absorbed in meditation they would assume
those forms of the Lord. Seeing this, I would relish extreme pleasure.
The Kumāra brothers would often be so absorbed in meditating on particular forms of Lord
Viṣṇu that their own bodies would take on the appearance of those forms of the Lord. This
was the special quality of meditation on Tapoloka; it resembled the intense meditation of the
small insect that is attacked and killed by a peśaskṛt bee and in the next life becomes a bee.
BB 2.2.120
TEXT 120
tat-tad-rahita-kāle ’pi
na sīdāmi tad-āśayā
itthaṁ cira-dinaṁ tatra
sukhenevāvasaṁ sadā
tat-tat—of such realizations; rahita—bereft; kāle—at the times; api—even; na sīdāmi—I
would not lament; tat—of Him; āśayā—by thought; ittham—in this way; cira-dinam—for
many days; tatra—there; sukhena—happily; iva—for the most part; avasam—I resided;
Even when bereft of such encounters, I remained conscious of the Lord’s personal forms and
so had no reason to lament. In this way I lived there a long time, for the most part always
Gopa-kumāra says that he resided on Tapoloka happily (sukhena), but he qualifies this with
the word iva. Sometimes he was less than completely satisfied, as when he remembered
BB 2.2.121
TEXT 121
kadācit puṣkara-dvīpe
sva-bhaktān kṛpayekṣitum
prasthito haṁsam ārūḍhas
tatrāyātaś catur-mukhaḥ
kadācit—once; puṣkara-dvīpe—on Puṣkara-dvīpa; sva-bhaktān—his devotees; kṛpayā—
mercifully; īkṣitum—to see; prasthitaḥ—on a trip; haṁsam—on his swan; ārūḍhaḥ—
mounted; tatra—there; āyātaḥ—came; catuḥ-mukhaḥ—four-headed Brahmā.
Once, four-headed Brahmā came to Tapoloka, riding on his swan. He was on his way to
Puṣkara-dvīpa to grace his devotees with a visit.
In texts 121 through 128 Gopa-kumāra relates how he was convinced to go to Satyaloka. He
tells how he first got an idea of the glories of Satyaloka by seeing in person that planet’s ruler,
Lord Brahmā. On Puṣkara-dvīpa, within the Bhū-maṇḍala system, Lord Brahmā is worshiped
as a representative of the Personality of Godhead. Gopa-kumāra, who knew nothing about
Lord Brahmā’s existence, simply describes what he physically saw.
BB 2.2.122
TEXT 122
sa vṛddhaḥ sanakādibhiḥ
sa-sambhramaṁ praṇamyābhi-
pūjito bhakti-namritaiḥ
parama-aiśvarya—with supreme opulences; sampannaḥ—endowed; saḥ—he; vṛddhaḥ—the
venerable personage; sanaka-ādibhiḥ—by Sanaka and his brothers; sa-sambhramam—
reverently; praṇamya—being bowed down to; abhipūjitaḥ—worshiped; bhakti—due to pure
devotion; namritaiḥ—who were feeling humble.
That venerable personage, endowed with supreme opulences, was reverently worshiped by
Sanaka and his brothers. Feeling humble, they bowed down to him in pure devotion.
Caturmukha Brahmā is the most exalted person in this material universe. His possessions and
entourage are superior to those of everyone else. The word vṛddha here means “venerable,”
not “overcome by old age.” Because Brahmā is an empowered incarnation of the Supreme
Lord, his body is a spiritual product of pure existence, knowledge, and bliss. He never grows
old. He is the “eldest” in the sense that he is the most reliable of all authorities, and as a sign
of his seniority he wears a long white beard on each of his faces.
BB 2.2.123
TEXT 123
āśīrbhir vardhayitvā tān
snehenāghrāya mūrdhasu
kiṣcit samanuśiṣyāsau
taṁ dvīpaṁ vegato ’gamat
āśīrbhiḥ—with blessings; vardhayitvā—encouraging; tān—them; snehena—with affection;
āghrāya—smelling them; mūrdhasu—on the heads; kiṣcit—something; samanuśiṣya—
instructing; asau—he; tam—that; dvīpam—to the dvīpa; vegataḥ—quickly; agamat—went.
He increased the good fortune of the Kumāras by his blessings and affectionately smelled
their heads. Then, after giving them some good instructions, he quickly went off to the dvīpa
he was on his way to visit.
Unable to understand what Brahmā had told the four brothers, Gopa-kumāra only mentioned
the conversation but did not describe the details. We can presume that Brahmā told Sanaka
and his brothers something about the intimate aspects of devotional service to the Supreme
Lord. The word anuśiṣya indicates that Brahmā repeated his instructions a few times to ensure
that the Kumāras would assimilate them. Then he continued on to Puṣkara-dvīpa.
BB 2.2.124
TEXT 124
tat-tattva-vṛttaṁ sampṛṣṭā
mayāvocan vihasya te
gopa-bālaka vetsi na
tat—of Him; tattva—about the identity; vṛttam—for an explanation; sampṛṣṭāḥ—asked;
mayā—by me; avocan—said; vihasya—laughing; te—they; atra—here; āgatya—having
come; adhunā—now; api—even; imam—this person; gopa-bālaka—O cowherd boy; vetsi
na—you do not know.
When I asked the Kumāras to explain who he was, they laughed and said, “Dear cowherd boy,
even after reaching this planet you still don’t know who this person is?
Laughing at Gopa-kumāra, Sanaka and the others reminded him that he was just a simple
cowherd. Even after Gopa-kumāra had been residing for so long on Tapoloka, where
everyone is virtually omniscient, could he still know nothing about the universally famous
Lord Brahmā?
BB 2.2.125
TEXT 125
prajāpati-patir brahmā
sraṣṭā viśvasya naḥ pitā
svayam-bhūḥ parame-ṣṭhy eṣa
jagat pāty anuśāsty api
prajāpati—of the progenitors of the universal population; patiḥ—the lord; brahmā—Brahmā;
sraṣṭā—the creator; viśvasya—of the universe; naḥ—our; pitā—father; svayam-bhūḥ—self-
born; parame-ṣṭhī—seated as the highest authority; eṣaḥ—this person; jagat—the universe;
pāti—he maintains; anuśāsti—he guides; api—also.
“That was Brahmā, the lord of all lords of the living beings. He is our father, the creator of the
universe. Self-born, he sits on the highest seat of authority. He maintains and guides the
created world.
There are many Prajāpatis like Bhṛgu who populate the universe and then engage their
progeny in prescribed Vedic duties. Brahmā is the master and protector of those Prajāpatis.
Since the Prajāpatis are brothers of the Kumāras, when the Kumāras refer to Brahmā as “our
father” this implies that Brahmā is the father of them all. Brahmā’s father, however, is not of
this world. Brahmā is born from the lotus growing from the navel of the Supreme Lord and is
therefore called Svayambhū, or one who is born without father and mother. He occupies the
highest post of authority, maintains the living entities of the universe by giving them their
occupational duties, and guides them by initiating the study of the Vedas, which teach the
principles of progressive civilized life.
BB 2.2.126
TEXT 126
asya lokas tu satyākhyaḥ
sarvopari virājate
śata-janma-kṛtaiḥ śuddhaiḥ
sva-dharmair labhyate hi yaḥ
asya—his; lokaḥ—planet; tu—and; satya-ākhyaḥ—called Satya; sarva-upari—above all;
virājate—stands; śata-janma—for one hundred lifetimes; kṛtaiḥ—executed; śuddhaiḥ—pure;
sva-dharmaiḥ—by prescribed duties; labhyate—is achieved; hi—indeed; yaḥ—which.
“His planet, called Satyaloka, stands above all others. It is achieved by persons who have
done their prescribed duties purely for one hundred lifetimes.
As Lord Śiva states in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (4.24.29), sva-dharma-niṣṭhaḥ śata-janmabhiḥ
pumān/ viriṣcatām eti: “By remaining fixed in one’s prescribed dharma, in a hundred lifetimes
one can become Brahmā or else achieve his planet.”
BB 2.2.127
TEXT 127
tatra vaikuṇṭha-loko ’sti
yasmin śrī-jagad-īśvaraḥ
sahasra-śīrṣā varteta
sa mahā-puruṣaḥ sadā
tatra—there; vaikuṇṭha-lokaḥ—a Vaikuṇṭha planet; asti—is; yasmin—where; śrī-jagatīśvaraḥ—the divine Lord of the universe; sahasra-śīrṣā—with thousands of heads; varteta—is
present; saḥ—He; mahā-puruṣaḥ—the Mahāpuruṣa; sadā—always.
“Within Satyaloka is a Vaikuṇṭha planet where the thousand-headed divine Lord of the
universe is always present as the Mahāpuruṣa.
Within the realm of Satyaloka is a spiritual planet, named Vaikuṇṭha, which is actually an
enclave of Vaikuṇṭha the spiritual world. That the inconceivable Mahāpuruṣa lives there
should interest Gopa-kumāra because that is where Gopa-kumāra can expect to fulfill his
BB 2.2.128
TEXT 128
tasya putra iva brahmā
śrūyate na ca bhidyate
brahmaiva līlayā tatra
mūrtibhyāṁ bhāti no matam
tasya—His; putraḥ—son; iva—as if; brahmā—Brahmā; śrūyate—is said to be; na—not; ca—
and; bhidyate—is different; brahma—the Absolute Truth; eva—thus; līlayā—as His pastime;
tatra—there; mūrtibhyām—in both forms; bhāti—is visible; naḥ—our; matam—opinion.
“Although said to be the son of the Mahāpuruṣa, Brahmā is nondifferent from Him. In our
opinion, the one Absolute Truth assumes both these forms as a pastime.”
How can Lord Brahmā be considered the master of his own planet, and the highest authority
in the universe, if the Supreme Lord of the universe also lives on the same planet? The
Kumāras here explain that Brahmā is the highest authority of the material world because he is
the son of the Supreme Lord. As implied by the word iva (“as if”), Brahmā is not a son in
exactly the same way as normally understood in material life; still, he is the first-born of all
created beings. This relationship between Brahmā and Viṣṇu can be understood only by
hearing from the Vedas, not by empirical perception, because everyone in the universe is born
from Brahmā, and thus all his descendants are too young to have seen Brahmā’s birth.
If Brahmā is Lord Viṣṇu’s son, then like most sons he must be inferior in quality to his father;
and thus the basic difference between Brahmā and Viṣṇu—that one is the worshiper and the
other the worshiped—must be true. Nevertheless, the Kumāras offer their opinion that fourheaded Brahmā and the thousand-headed Mahāpuruṣa are not completely different persons;
on Satyaloka the same Absolute Truth manifests Himself as both of them. The Kumāras see
Brahmā and the Mahāpuruṣa to be nondifferent in the sense that Brahmā shares many of the
personal qualities of the Lord of the universe.
BB 2.2.129
TEXT 129
śrī-gopa-kumāra uvāca
tac chrutvā tatra gatvā taṁ
mahā-puruṣam īkṣitum
japaṁ kurvaṁs tapo-loke
niviṣṭo ’ntaḥ-samādhinā
śrī-gopa-kumāraḥ uvāca—Śrī Gopa-kumāra said; tat—that; śrutvā—hearing; tatra—there;
gatvā—intending to go; tam—Him; mahā-puruṣam—the Mahāpuruṣa; īkṣitum—to see;
japam—my japa; kurvan—doing; tapaḥ-loke—on Tapoloka; niviṣṭaḥ—situated; antaḥ—
internal; samādhinā—by trance.
Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: Hearing this, I wanted to go to that planet and see the Mahāpuruṣa.
Seated on Tapoloka, I chanted my mantra and focused my attention in samādhi.
BB 2.2.130
TEXT 130
muhūrtānantaraṁ dṛṣṭī
samunmīlya vyalokayam
brahma-lokāptam ātmānaṁ
taṁ ca śrī-jagad-īśvaram
muhūrta-anantaram—after a moment; dṛṣṭī—my eyes; samunmīlya—opening; vyalokayam—
I saw; brahma-loka—Brahmaloka; āptam—having reached; ātmānam—myself; tam—Him;
ca—and; śrī-jagat-īśvaram—the blessed Lord of the universe.
After a moment, I opened my eyes to find that I had reached Brahmaloka. And before me was
the blessed Lord of the universe.
BB 2.2.131
TEXT 131
śrīmat-sahasra-bhuja-śīrṣa-padaṁ mahāntaṁ
nīlāmbudābham anurūpa-vibhūṣaṇāḍhyam
tejo-nidhiṁ kamala-nābham ananta-bhogatalpe śayānam akhilākṣi-mano-’bhirāmam
śrīmat—divine; sahasra—thousands; bhuja—whose arms; śīrṣa—heads; padam—and feet;
mahāntam—huge; nīla—blue; ambuda—a cloud; ābham—resembling; anurūpa—suitable;
vibhūṣaṇa—with ornaments; āḍhyam—richly adorned; tejaḥ—of brilliant effulgence;
nidhim—like a treasure chest; kamala—like a lotus; nābham—whose navel; ananta-bhoga—
of the serpent Ananta; talpe—on the bed; śayānam—lying; akhila—of all; akṣi—the eyes;
manaḥ—and minds; abhirāmam—enchanting.
He was huge, with thousands of divine arms, heads, and feet. He resembled a dark-blue cloud
and was richly adorned with suitable ornaments. He was an ocean of brilliant effulgence. His
navel was beautiful like a lotus. Lying on the bed of Ananta Śeṣa, He enchanted everyone’s
eyes and minds.
It is said that Lord Mahāpuruṣa has thousands of arms, heads, and feet; but that is just a
figurative way of saying that He has an uncountable number of limbs. And although He is
huge and formidable, His beauty is supremely attractive.
BB 2.2.132
TEXT 132
saṁvāhyamāna-caraṇaṁ ramayā suparṇe
baddhāṣjalau kṛta-dṛśaṁ vidhinārcyamānam
bhūyo vibhūtibhir amuṁ bahu lālayantaṁ
śrī-nārada-praṇaya-bhaktiṣu datta-cittam
saṁvāhyamāna—being massaged; caraṇam—His feet; ramayā—by the goddess of fortune;
suparṇe—toward Garuḍa; baddha—joined; aṣjalau—whose palms; kṛta—directed; dṛśam—
His sight; vidhinā—by Brahmā; arcyamānam—being worshiped; bhūyaḥ—profuse;
vibhūtibhiḥ—with opulences; amum—him; bahu—amply; lālayantam—gratifying; śrīnārada—of Śrī Nārada; praṇaya-bhaktiṣu—to the displays of loving devotion; datta—given;
cittam—His attention.
As the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī, massaged His feet, He glanced at Garuḍa, who stood
before Him with joined palms. Lord Brahmā worshiped the Lord with opulent offerings, and
in turn the Lord amply gratified him. Lord Mahāpuruṣa was also attentive to Śrī Nārada’s
displays of loving devotion.
The Lord responded to Brahmā’s worship by touching him with His hand and showing other
signs of affection. The Lord also acknowledged Nārada’s offerings of devotional songs and
BB 2.2.133
TEXT 133
mahā-rahasyaṁ nigamārtha-tattvaṁ
sva-bhakti-mārgaṁ kamalāsanāya
śanair vivṛtyopadiśantam antar
nijālayendrasya virājamānam
mahā-rahasyam—very confidential; nigama—of the revealed scriptures; artha-tattvam—the
essential truth; sva—to Himself; bhakti—of devotional service; mārgam—the path; kamalaāsanāya—to Brahmā, whose seat was a lotus; śanaiḥ—patiently; vivṛtya—explaining;
upadiśantam—instructing; antaḥ—inside; nija—His own; ālaya-indrasya—king of residences;
virājamānam—shining forth.
The resplendent Lord Mahāpuruṣa, within His own most excellent residence, instructed
Brahmā, who sat on the lotus beside Him. The Lord patiently explained to Brahmā, step by
step, the greatest of mysteries, the essential truth of the revealed scriptures, the path of
devotional service to Himself.
After the Supreme Lord received worship from His servants, He went to His splendid palace
on the Vaikuṇṭha planet within Satyaloka. There Brahmā joined him and sat next to Him on
the lotus that had sprouted from the navel of the Lord in His form as Garbhodaka-śāyī Viṣṇu.
In that intimate setting, Lord Mahāpuruṣa spoke directly into Brahmā’s ears about the path of
pure devotion. The details of this science should be spoken only to persons ready to
appreciate them.
BB 2.2.134
TEXT 134
atho tad ākarṇya catur-mukhaṁ ca
anūdya nīcair anumodamānaṁ
muhus tad-aṅghrīn abhivandamānam
atha u—then; tat—that; ākarṇya—hearing; catuḥ-mukham—four-headed Brahmā; ca—and;
pramoda—of joy; sampat—by the vast treasure; vivaśī—overwhelmed; bhavantam—
repeatedly; tat—His; aṅghrīn—to the feet; abhivandamānam—offering respects.
Hearing these matters, four-headed Brahmā, overwhelmed by a vast treasure of transcendental
joy, quietly repeated and agreed with each point he was taught, and then offered his respects
again and again at the feet of the Lord.
After relishing the wonder of the Supreme Lord speaking intimate instructions to His devotee,
Gopa-kumāra turned his attention to Brahmā, whom he saw was receiving the lesson with
great ecstasy. To show understanding of the Lord’s words, Brahmā dutifully repeated each
point, and confirmed that he agreed completely, before the Lord continued with the next.
When the lesson was over, Brahmā profusely thanked the Lord. For Brahmā to bow down
while sitting on his lotus seat would have been difficult, but at least he showed his respects
with his words and joined palms.
BB 2.2.135
TEXT 135
pramoda-vegāt patitaṁ visaṁjṣaṁ
vilokya sā mām abhigamya lakṣmīḥ
nināya saṁjṣāṁ bahu lālayitvā
sva-bāla-vat pārśvam uta sva-bhartuḥ
pramoda—of joy; vegāt—by the force; patitam—fallen down; visaṁjṣam—unconscious;
vilokya—observing; sā—she; mām—me; abhigamya—coming toward; lakṣmīḥ—the goddess
Lakṣmī; nināya—bringing back; saṁjṣām—to consciousness; bahu—much; lālayitvā—
coddling; sva-bāla-vat—like her own child; pārśvam—to the side; uta—indeed; svabhartuḥ—of her husband.
Lakṣmī saw that by the force of ecstasy I had fallen into a swoon. So she coddled me like her
own son to restore me to consciousness and then brought me to the side of her husband.
Now Gopa-kumāra speaks of himself. When the Supreme Lord’s devoted wife noticed him,
she knew he had fainted in ecstatic devotion for her husband, so she treated him like a son.
She touched him with her cooling hand and sprinkled him with water to bring him back to
BB 2.2.136
TEXT 136
bhagavantaṁ muhuḥ paśyan
praṇamann avadaṁ manaḥ
nijepsitāntam adyāgā
niścalaṁ tvaṁ mudaṁ bhaja
bhagavantam—at the Supreme Lord; muhuḥ—repeatedly; paśyan—looking; praṇaman—
bowing down; avadam—I told; manaḥ—my mind; nija—your; īpsita—of the desires;
antam—the ultimate fulfillment; adya—today; agāḥ—you have attained; niścalam—being
steady; tvam—you; mudam—joy; bhaja—please experience.
Gazing at the Supreme Lord and repeatedly bowing down before Him, I told my mind:
“Today you have attained the ultimate fulfillment of all your desires! Be steady and joyful.
In texts 136 through 140, while offering repeated obeisances, Gopa-kumāra preaches to his
own mind.
BB 2.2.137
TEXT 137
aśeṣa-śoka-santrāsaduḥkha-hīnam idaṁ padam
paramarddhi-parānandanicitaṁ jagad-arcitam
aśeṣa—all; śoka—of sorrow; santrāsa—fear; duḥkha—and pain; hīnam—devoid; idam—this;
padam—abode; parama—supreme; ṛddhi—with riches; para—and supreme; ānanda—with
bliss; nicitam—filled; jagat—by the entire world; arcitam—worshiped.
“This abode, free from all sorrow, fear, and pain, is worshiped by the entire world. It is filled
with the greatest opulence and bliss.
Satyaloka is the highest material abode, filled with inconceivable wealth and a happiness
unequaled by any other sensory experience in this universe. Greater than any other place in
the universe, Satyaloka is honored everywhere.
BB 2.2.138
TEXT 138
yādṛśaḥ sambhaved bhrātar
jagad-īśaś ca tādṛśaḥ
bhāty aśeṣa-mahattāyāḥ
parāṁ kāṣṭhāṁ gataḥ sphuṭam
yādṛśaḥ—as; sambhavet—is; bhrātaḥ—dear brother; jagat-īśaḥ—the Lord of the universe;
ca—and; tādṛśaḥ—so; bhāti—it is manifest; aśeṣa—all; mahattāyāḥ—of excellence; parām—
extreme; kāṣṭhām—to the limit; gataḥ—gone; sphuṭam—visibly.
“Dear brother, this planet shines forth with as much perfection as the Lord of the universe
Himself. It displays the final limit of complete excellence.
In the material world, persons and things have varieties of relative excellence. One person has
a well-proportioned body, another is charming, another virtuous, another powerful. But the
world of Satyaloka manifests all kinds of excellence to the greatest degree possible in the
material universe. No other place is in any way as great.
BB 2.2.139
TEXT 139
sneham anvabhavo lakṣmyā
dṛgbhyāṁ paśyādhunā prabhum
yiyāsāṁ cānyato jahi
sneham—affection; anvabhavaḥ—you have experienced; lakṣmyāḥ—of the goddess Lakṣmī;
dṛgbhyām—with your two eyes; paśya—see; adhunā—now; prabhum—the Lord; māthura—
in the district of Mathurā; vraja-bhū—because of the land of Vraja; śokam—your
lamentation; yiyāsām—your desire to go; ca—and; anyataḥ—somewhere else; jahi—please
give up.
“You have felt the affection of Lakṣmī. Now see with your eyes her Lord. Give up your
thoughts of going away from here and give up your grieving over the cow pastures of Vraja in
BB 2.2.140
TEXT 140
jagad-īśād vidhāteva
lālanaṁ ced abhīpsasi
tan mahā-puruṣādiṣṭamantra-śaktyā phaliṣyati
jagat-īśāt—from the Lord of the universe; vidhātā—Brahmā; iva—like; lālanam—pampering;
cet—if; abhīpsasi—you desire; tat—that; mahā-puruṣa—by the great soul; ādiṣṭa—taught;
mantra—of the mantra; śaktyā—by the power; phaliṣyati—will be achieved.
“If you want to be pampered like Brahmā by the Lord of the universe, that also you can
achieve by the power of the mantra taught to you by the great soul.”
The Personality of Godhead is present in Brahmaloka as Lord Mahāpuruṣa, but in
Govardhana Gopa-kumāra had met another mahā-puruṣa, the great devotee who had initiated
him into the chanting of the Gopāla mantra.
For Gopa-kumāra to be as familiar as Brahmā with Lord Mahāpuruṣa will be difficult, but we
shall see how an arrangement is made for him.
BB 2.2.141
TEXT 141
nidrā-līlāṁ prabhur bheje
loka-padme ’sya nābhi-je
sṛṣṭi-rītiṁ vidhir vīkṣya
sva-kṛtyāyābhavad bahiḥ
nidrā—of sleep; līlām—His pastime; prabhuḥ—the Supreme Lord; bheje—took to; lokapadme—in the universal lotus; asya—His; nābhi-je—born from the navel; sṛṣṭi—of creation;
rītim—the business; vidhiḥ—Brahmā; vīkṣya—noting; sva-kṛtyāya—for doing his duties;
abhavat bahiḥ—came outside.
The Supreme Lord turned to His pastime of sleep. And Brahmā, sitting on the universal lotus
born from the Lord’s navel, realized what he had to do to re-create the universe, and so came
outside to do his work.
The transcendental Lord never sleeps, but He enjoys His pastime of pretending to sleep.
Brahmā’s seat is the lotus that grows from the navel of Garbhodaka-śāyī Viṣṇu and bears the
original subtle forms of the fourteen created worlds. While sitting on that lotus, Brahmā could
see within it the entire plan for creating the universe. Without wasting time, he studied it
thoroughly and then came out to discharge his responsibility. He got down from the lotus, left
Lord Mahāpuruṣa’s residence, and went to his own.
BB 2.2.142
TEXT 142
paśyan prabho rūpam ado mahādbhutaṁ
tan-nābhi-padme yugapat tathā jagat
gūḍhopadeśa-śravaṇāc catur-mukhaprema-pravāhaṁ ca sukhaṁ tato ’vasam
paśyan—seeing; prabhoḥ—of the Lord; rūpam—form; adaḥ—that; mahā-adbhutam—very
wonderful; tat—His; nābhi—from the navel; padme—within the lotus; yugapat—at the same
śravaṇāt—due to hearing; catuḥ-mukha—of Brahmā; prema—of love; pravāham—the flood;
ca—and; sukham—happily; tataḥ—then; avasam—I lived.
I lived there happily for some time, seeing the very wonderful form of the Lord, observing the
universe within the lotus grown from His navel, and witnessing the waves of love flowing
over Brahmā as he heard confidential instructions from the Lord.
Gopa-kumāra was even more satisfied on Satyaloka than on Svargaloka and the planets of the
BB 2.2.143
TEXT 143
kṛtsne loka-traye naṣṭe
rātrāv ekārṇave sati
śeṣopari sukhaṁ śete
bhagavān brahmaṇā samam
kṛtsne—entire; loka-traye—the three worlds; naṣṭe—when they are destroyed; rātrau—during
the night; eka-arṇave—a single ocean; sati—being; śeṣa-upari—on Śeṣa Nāga; sukham—
comfortably; śete—lies; bhagavān—the Personality of Godhead; brahmaṇā—with Brahmā;
During the dark of night, when the three worlds are totally destroyed and the universe
becomes a single ocean, the Personality of Godhead lies comfortably on Śeṣa Nāga, together
with Brahmā.
After each cycle of a thousand yugas, Brahmā’s day ends, and Brahmā joins the thousandheaded Mahāpuruṣa in going to sleep.
BB 2.2.144
TEXT 144
stūyate citra-vākyaiḥ sa
tan mahā-kautukaṁ vīkṣye
stūyate—is praised; citra—choice; vākyaiḥ—with words; saḥ—He; jana-loka-ādi—of
Janaloka and other planets; vāsibhiḥ—by the residents; tat—those; mahā-kautukam—most
curious events; vīkṣye—I saw; brahma-loka—of Brahmaloka; prabhāvataḥ—by the influence.
The residents of Janaloka and other higher planets praise the Personality of Godhead with
choice words. I saw these fascinating events by the powerful influence of Brahmaloka.
While Lord Mahāpuruṣa sleeps, sages from Janaloka, Tapoloka, and Satyaloka come to recite
His glories. Gopa-kumāra’s previous encounters with the nighttimes of Brahmā on the planets
Mahar, Jana, and Tapas had been less pleasant than this; he had been unaware of how Lord
Mahāpuruṣa and Brahmā enjoy their sleep.
BB 2.2.145
TEXT 145
antardhāya kadācic cet
kutrāpi bhagavān vrajet
śokaḥ syād āgate cāsmin
sa-mūlaḥ kṣīyate sa naḥ
antardhāya—disappearing; kadācit—sometimes; cet—if; kutra api—somewhere; bhagavān—
the Lord; vrajet—would go; śokaḥ—unhappiness; syāt—there would be; āgate—upon
returning; ca—and; asmin—He; sa-mūlaḥ—to the root; kṣīyate—would be cut; saḥ—that;
When the Lord sometimes went elsewhere, He would disappear, and I would be unhappy. But
that painful feeling would be cut to the root as soon as He returned.
Unaware of where the Lord was going, Gopa-kumāra was distressed by the Lord’s absence.
But when the Lord would return after a short while, Gopa-kumāra would at once forget his
distress, and even forget that the Lord had left him. Thus his feelings of unhappiness on
Satyaloka were of little account. The one small reason for unhappiness that sometimes arose
was short-lived and so did not affect his overall mood.
BB 2.2.146
TEXT 146
ittham ahnāṁ katipaye
prayāte prātar ekadā
kautukād brahmaṇā spṛṣṭaḥ
pheṇa-puṣjo ’suro ’bhavat
ittham—in this way; ahnām—days; katipaye—several; prayāte—being spent; prātaḥ—in the
morning; ekadā—one day; kautukāt—out of curiosity; brahmaṇā—by Brahmā; spṛṣṭaḥ—
touched; pheṇa—of foam; puṣjaḥ—a mass; asuraḥ—a demon; abhavat—became.
After I had spent some days in this way, early one morning, out of curiosity, Brahmā touched
a mass of foam, and it turned into a demon.
Gopa-kumāra was harboring the desire to become Brahmā so that he could enjoy Brahmā’s
special relationship with the Lord of the universe. He thought of this desire while chanting his
japa, and thus, after only a few of Brahmā’s days, Gopa-kumāra was given what he wanted. A
large residue of foam was left from the previous ocean of devastation, and Brahmā touched it,
unmindful of any serious consequence. The foam turned into a terrible demon, huge and
extremely strong due to being born from the vast water of devastation.
BB 2.2.147
TEXT 147
tad-bhītyālīyata brahmā
daityo bhagavatā hataḥ
bhayākrānto vidhir naiti
tat-pade ’yuṅkta māṁ prabhuḥ
tat—of him; bhītyā—out of fear; alīyata—fled; brahmā—Brahmā; daityaḥ—the demon;
bhagavatā—by the Personality of Godhead; hataḥ—was killed; bhaya—by fear; ākrāntaḥ—
overcome; vidhiḥ—Brahmā; na eti—did not come back; tat—his; pade—in the post;
ayuṅkta—appointed; mām—me; prabhuḥ—the Supreme Lord.
Terrified of him, Brahmā fled. The Personality of Godhead killed the demon, but Brahmā,
overcome by fear, did not come back, and the Lord assigned me to his post.
Brahmā hid in a place where no one could find him. His fear prevented him from returning,
even after Lord Nārāyaṇa had killed the demon.
BB 2.2.148
TEXT 148
ahaṁ tu vaiṣṇavān eva
sṛjaṁs tad-bhakti-vṛddhaye
nyayuṣjam adhikāreṣu
vaiṣṇavān eva sarvataḥ
aham—I; tu—and; vaiṣṇavān—Vaiṣṇavas; eva—indeed; sṛjan—sending forth; tat—His;
adhikāreṣu—in various positions of responsibility; vaiṣṇavān—Vaiṣṇavas; eva—only;
I sent Vaiṣṇavas into the creation to increase devotional service to the Lord. Indeed, I engaged
only Vaiṣṇavas everywhere, in all responsibilities.
Material creation is called sṛṣṭi because the world and the living entities, rather than being
created from nothing, are “sent forth” (sṛjan) in each new creation. When Gopa-kumāra took
up the position of creator, he brought many advanced Vaiṣṇavas into his universe and
assigned them to the posts of Indra, Sūrya, Candra, the Prajāpatis, and other demigods.
BB 2.2.149
TEXT 149
itas tato mahā-yajṣair
aśvamedhādibhir vibhum
sampūjayan mudāṁ pūrair
brahmāṇḍaṁ samapūrayam
itaḥ tataḥ—here and there; mahā-yajṣaiḥ—with great sacrifices; aśvamedha-ādibhiḥ—the
Aśvamedha and others; vibhum—the almighty Lord; sampūjayan—worshiping; mudām—of
joy; pūraiḥ—with floods; brahmāṇḍam—the universe; samapūrayam—I filled.
Arranging for the almighty Lord to be worshiped in all directions with great sacrifices like the
Aśvamedha, I flooded the universe with joy.
Lord Brahmā is responsible for creating the worlds and the bodies of all the species of life and
for teaching the living beings in each class their proper work according to the injunctions of
the Vedas. Gopa-kumāra enthusiastically promoted Vedic sacrifices for the pleasure of the
Personality of Godhead.
BB 2.2.150-151
TEXTS 150–151
pārameṣṭhyena saṁruddho
vedair mūrti-dharair makhaiḥ
purāṇair itihāsaiś cāgamais tīrthair maharṣibhiḥ
brahmarṣibhiś ca bahudhā
stūyamāno mahā-madaiḥ
grasyamāno ’pi muṣcāmi
na smākiṣcanatāṁ nijām
pārameṣṭhyena—with the supreme position of authority; saṁruddhaḥ—encumbered; vedaiḥ—
by the Vedas; mūrti-dharaiḥ—in their personal forms; makhaiḥ—by the sacrifices;
purāṇaiḥ—the Purāṇas; itihāsaiḥ—the Itihāsa epics; ca—and; āgamaiḥ—the Āgamas
(Paṣcarātras); tīrthaiḥ—the pilgrimage places; mahā-ṛṣibhiḥ—the great sages; brahmaṛṣibhiḥ—the sages among the brāhmaṇas; ca—and; bahudhā—in various ways; stūyamānaḥ—
being glorified; mahā-madaiḥ—by great delights; grasyamānaḥ—being seized; api—
although; muṣcāmi na sma—I did not give up; akiṣcanatām—my simplicity; nijām—natural.
Even though I was encumbered with the post of the supreme authority in the universe, even
though I was glorified in various ways by the maharṣis, the brahmarṣis, and the personified
Vedas, Āgamas, Purāṇas, Itihāsas, sacrifices, and pilgrimage sites, and even though I was
surrounded by great sources of delight, I did not give up my natural simplicity.
Without the strong spiritual qualifications of true humility and devotion to the Supreme, no
one could avoid becoming intoxicated by the material power and facility for enjoyment given
to Gopa-kumāra. He now had the highest position in the universe, with seemingly unlimited
opulences. The greatest sages and the revealed scriptures and the sacrifices personified all
attended him in his court, singing his praises and presenting themselves for service at his
pleasure. Nonetheless, he did not think of himself as someone special, as anything other than
a humble devotee of the Lord of the universe, Śrī Madana-gopāla.
BB 2.2.152
TEXT 152
tathāpi brāhmya-kṛtyābdhibhaṅga-magno na pūrva-vat
lebhe bhagavato bhaktisukhaṁ cintāturāntaraḥ
tathā api—nonetheless; brāhmya—of Brahmā; kṛtya—of the duties; abdhi—of an ocean;
bhaṅga—in the waves; magnaḥ—immersed; na—not; pūrva-vat—as before; lebhe—I
obtained; bhagavataḥ—of the Lord; bhakti—of the devotional service; sukham—the
enjoyment; cintā—with anxieties; ātura—disturbed; antaraḥ—my mind.
Even so, I was immersed in the waves of the ocean of Brahmā’s duties, and therefore unable
to enjoy devotional service to the Lord as I had before. My mind was too disturbed by anxious
Once again Gopa-kumāra encountered circumstances that awakened within him a desire to go
to an even better place. With so much responsibility on his shoulders, life on Satyaloka was
troublesome. Brahmā’s unavoidable duties were unlimited and deep like an ocean, and Gopakumāra felt himself drowning in the churning waves.
BB 2.2.153
TEXT 153
dvi-parārdhāyuṣi svasya
śrūyamāṇe ’pi kālataḥ
bhayaṁ syāt kriyamāṇe ca
jape bhūr iyam ārti-dā
dvi-parārdha—consisting of two very long periods of time; āyuṣi—the life span; svasya—my;
śrūyamāṇe—being heard of; api—and; kālataḥ—of time; bhayam—fear; syāt—there would
be; kriyamāṇe—while being done; ca—and; jape—the chanting of my mantra; bhūḥ—Vrajabhūmi; iyam—this; ārti-dā—giving distress.
Hearing that I would die at the end of a life span of two parārdhas, I was afraid. And as I
chanted my mantra, remembrance of this Vraja-bhūmi gave me more distress.
To avoid being frightened by thinking about his imminent death, Gopa-kumāra Brahmā relied
on his mantra. But chanting only stirred memories of Vraja, giving him a different kind of
BB 2.2.154
TEXT 154
jagad-īśvarataḥ putralālanaṁ tu mahā-sukham
mamānubhavataś cittavaikalyaṁ tad vinaśyati
jagat-īśvarataḥ—by the Lord of the universe; putra—like a son; lālanan—being pampered;
tu—however; mahā-sukham—a source of great happiness; mama—of me; anubhavataḥ—who
was experiencing; citta—of the mind; vaikalyam—the agitation; tat—that; vinaśyati—would
be destroyed.
But I would derive great happiness from being pampered like a son by the Lord of the
universe, and thus the mental agitation I was going through would be dispelled.
Satyaloka is such a pure place that unhappiness cannot persist for long. Lord Mahāpuruṣa
Himself would see to this; by showering affection on His devotee, He would wash away
distress in a flood of bliss.
BB 2.2.155
TEXT 155
pitṛ-buddhyā ca sevayā
kadāpy āgāṁsi jātāni
mṛṣyante prabhuṇā mama
atyanta—too much; sannikarṣeṇa—because of proximity; pitṛ—like a father; buddhyā—
because of considering Him; ca—and; sevayā—by serving; kadā api—sometimes; āgāṁsi—
offenses; jātāni—came about; mṛṣyante—they were tolerated; prabhuṇā—by the Lord;
Because of being too close to the Lord and serving Him as if He were my father, I would
sometimes commit offenses against Him, but He tolerated all those offenses.
Staying close to a great person for an extended time can be dangerous. As the saying goes,
“Familiarity breeds contempt.” For Gopa-kumāra in the role of Brahmā, this danger was
compounded by his thinking himself the son of Lord Viṣṇu. Often a son has no fear of
dissatisfying his father, because he knows that his father loves him too much to reject him.
Indeed, Lord Mahāpuruṣa acted like a doting father, tolerating the childish offenses of Gopakumāra.
BB 2.2.156
TEXT 156
tathāpy antar-mahodvegaḥ
syāt tato vyaṣjite śriyā
snehe mātreva hṛṣṭaḥ syām
evaṁ tatrāvasaṁ ciram
tathā api—still; antaḥ—within; mahā-udvegaḥ—great distress; syāt—there would be; tataḥ—
then; vyaṣjite—being manifest; śriyā—by the goddess of fortune; snehe—affection; mātrā—
by a mother; iva—as if; hṛṣṭaḥ—joyful; syām—I would become; evam—thus; tatra—there;
avasam—I lived; ciram—for a long time.
Still, at times I felt great distress in my mind. But when the goddess Lakṣmī showed me
motherly affection, I would again become joyful. Thus I lived there a long time.
Although the Lord showed no sign of taking offense, Gopa-kumāra, realizing that he was not
serving with the proper attitude, sometimes became disturbed. Embarrassed by his own
behavior toward his father, he would be consoled by his mother, Lakṣmī. Thus he lived
happily in Satyaloka, even when facing causes of distress.
BB 2.2.157
TEXT 157
ekadā muktim atrāptam
ekaṁ tal-loka-vāsibhiḥ
saṁślāghyamānam ākarṇya
tān apṛcchaṁ tad adbhutam
ekadā—once; muktim—liberation; atra—here; āptam—obtained; ekam—someone; tat-loka—
of that planet; vāsibhiḥ—by the residents; saṁślāghyamānam—being praised; ākarṇya—
hearing; tān—from them; apṛccham—I inquired; tat—about that; adbhutam—amazing thing.
Once, hearing the residents of Brahmaloka glorify someone who had attained liberation here
on earth, I asked them about that amazing event.
In texts 157 through 230, Gopa-kumāra describes in depth the immediate cause for his leaving
Satyaloka. The sages on Satyaloka were talking about someone who had achieved mokṣa—
mukti, or liberation—while living in Bhārata-varṣa. As they were praising that person, and the
process of devotional service by which he had gained mokṣa, Gopa-kumāra, who had never
heard of mokṣa, asked the sages, “What is this mokṣa? Why are you glorifying someone so
much for attaining it?”
BB 2.2.158
TEXT 158
mukteḥ paramam utkarṣaṁ
daurlabhyaṁ ca niśamya tān
sarva-jṣān punar aprākṣaṁ
tad-upāyaṁ tad-īpsayā
mukteḥ—of liberation; paramam—supreme; utkarṣam—the excellence; daurlabhyam—the
difficulty of obtaining; ca—and; niśamya—hearing; tān—them; sarva-jṣān—knowers of
everything; punaḥ—again; aprākṣam—I asked; tat—of that; upāyam—the means of
achieving; tat—for that; īpsayā—with the desire.
I heard from those all-knowing sages about the superexcellence and rareness of liberation,
and so I desired it myself. I then asked them how liberation could be attained.
Among the sages from whom Gopa-kumāra was inquiring were the personified Vedas, who
surely were capable of giving him authoritative answers. And Gopa-kumāra’s newly acquired
eagerness to become liberated qualified him as a fit candidate to hear from the Vedas about
the means of attaining liberation.
BB 2.2.159
TEXT 159
śruti-smṛtibhir anvitāḥ
ūcur ekena sādhyo ’sau
mokṣo jṣānena nānyathā
bahula—many; upaniṣat—of the Upaniṣads; devyaḥ—the goddesses; śruti-smṛtibhiḥ—by
śrutis and smṛtis; anvitāḥ—joined; ūcuḥ—said; ekena—only; sādhyaḥ—achievable; asau—
this; mokṣaḥ—liberation; jṣānena—by knowledge; na—not; anyathā—by other means.
Many of the presiding goddesses of the Upaniṣads answered, joined by śrutis and smṛtis. They
said that only by knowledge is liberation achieved, and by no other means.
The Upaniṣads are the essential philosophical portion of the śrutis, or Vedas. They are
described here as devyaḥ, which means both “presiding deities” and “brilliantly effulgent.”
Thus the Upaniṣads were present in person in Brahmā’s assembly along with other revealed
scriptures. The śrutis mentioned separately here are other sections of the Vedas, particularly
the Saṁhitās, Brāhmaṇas, and Āraṇyakas. The smṛtis are the Dharma-śāstras, Purāṇas,
Āgamas, and so on. The majority of Upaniṣads, śrutis, and smṛtis declared that mokṣa, the
most excellent and rarely obtained goal, can be achieved only by knowledge. In the words of
the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (3.8):
tam eva viditvāti mṛtyum eti
nānyaḥ panthā vidyate ’yanāya
“Knowing Him, one transcends death. There is no other path for attaining this goal.”
Gopa-kumāra’s narration will later reveal that the knowledge leading to liberation arises only
from devotional service; in fact, the cultivation of knowledge of the Supreme Person and His
energies is itself a kind of devotional service. As long as knowledge remains impersonal, it
cannot lead to true liberation.
BB 2.2.160
TEXT 160
kaiścid uktaṁ sa-gāmbhīryaṁ
purāṇair āgamair api
janyate bhagavad-bhaktyā
sukhaṁ jṣānaṁ su-durghaṭam
kaiścit—by some; uktam—said; sa-gāmbhīryam—with gravity; purāṇaiḥ—by Purāṇas;
āgamaiḥ—and Āgamas; api—also; janyate—it is generated; bhagavat—to the Personality of
Godhead; bhaktyā—by devotional service; sukham—easily; jṣānam—knowledge; sudurghaṭam—difficult to obtain.
But some Purāṇas and Āgamas said gravely that this knowledge, difficult to obtain, is easily
acquired by devotional service to the Personality of Godhead.
The Āgamas are tantras, textbooks on the methods of devotional worship. Prominent among
them are the Paṣcarātras. Some of the Āgamas and Purāṇas teach the methods of pure
devotional service very effectively, and these are the scriptures who at this juncture spoke up
with unshaking conviction.
BB 2.2.161
TEXT 161
kiṁ vānuṣṭhitayā samyak
tayaiva su-labho ’sti saḥ
śruti-smṛtīnāṁ kāsāṣcit
sammatis tatra lakṣitā
kim vā—or else; anuṣṭhitayā—being executed; samyak—properly; tayā—by it (devotional
service); eva—only; su-labhaḥ—easily achieved; asti—is; saḥ—it (liberation, and not merely
knowledge); śruti-smṛtīnām—of the śrutis and smṛtis; kāsāṣcit—some; sammatiḥ—
agreement; tatra—with that idea; lakṣitā—indirectly indicated.
Some other śrutis and smṛtis indirectly showed agreement among themselves that by
devotional service alone, properly done, liberation is easy to attain.
In the opinion of the Vaiṣṇava Purāṇas and Āgamas, liberation is attained with special ease by
devotional service that is free from material desires and properly executed in all essential
details. Such pure devotional service by itself (tayaiva) leads to liberation, without help from
anything else. As stated in the Bṛhan-nāradīya Purāṇa (32.6, 4.30):
bhaktir dṛḍhā bhaved yasya
deva-deve janārdane
śreyāṁsi tasya sidhyanti
bhakti-manto ’dhikās tataḥ
“By one whose devotion is steadfast in Janārdana, the Lord of lords, all superior benefits are
gained. Such is the excellence of the Lord’s devotees.”
jīvanti jantavaḥ sarve
yathā mātaram āśritāḥ
tathā bhaktiṁ samāśritya
sarvā jīvanti siddhayaḥ
“Just as all living beings live under the shelter of their mothers, all perfections live under the
complete shelter of devotional service.” The “benefits” and “perfections” mentioned in these
verses include liberation; though the verses do not specify this, it is implied.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa also says in the Bhagavad-gītā (11.54):
bhaktyā tv anyayā śakya
aham evaṁ-vidho ’rjuna
jṣātuṁ draṣṭuṁ ca tattvena
praveṣṭuṁ ca parantapa
“My dear Arjuna, only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, standing
before you, and can thus be seen directly. Only in this way can you enter into My existence.”
“Entering into the existence” of the Personality of Godhead—that is, entering His
association—by its very nature includes liberation.
The theistic śrutis and smṛtis (among them some of the Dharma-śāstras) are in agreement
about this understanding, and they indicated this by movements of their heads and by other
subtle signs. These scriptures do not promote pure devotional service explicitly, but one may
discover the importance of bhakti in their purports.
Thus we read in the Padma Purāṇa (Pātāla-khaṇḍa 92.26):
apatyaṁ draviṇaṁ dārā
hārā harmyaṁ hayā gajāḥ
sukhāni svarga-mokṣau ca
na dūre hari-bhaktitaḥ
“Wife, children, precious necklaces and wealth, home, horses, elephants—all happiness, and
moreover the attainment of heaven and liberation—when devotional service to Lord Hari is
present, none of these are difficult to obtain.”
BB 2.2.162
TEXT 162
vyaktaṁ tāsāṁ vaco ’śrutvā
kruddhāḥ svair āgamādibhiḥ
mahopaniṣadaḥ kāścid
anvamodanta tat sphuṭam
vyaktam—openly; tāsām—from those śrutis and smṛtis; vacaḥ—statements; aśrutvā—not
hearing; kruddhāḥ—becoming angry; svaiḥ—that are related to them (the great Upaniṣads);
āgama-ādibhiḥ—with the Paṣcarātras and other scriptures; mahā-upaniṣadaḥ—great
Upaniṣads; kāścit—some; anvamodanta—declared approval; tat—of that opinion; sphuṭam—
Angry at not hearing those śrutis and smṛtis speak up, some of the great Upaniṣads—and
scriptures like the Āgamas who follow in their footsteps—openly affirmed that devotional
service is an independent cause of liberation.
The more devotional of the Upaniṣads were angry at the other devotional scriptures who
weren’t bold enough to say what they knew, and so were certain Vaiṣṇava Āgamas and
Purāṇas who took shelter of those Upaniṣads. Together, therefore, these Upaniṣads, Āgamas,
and Purāṇas declared in no uncertain terms that liberation is effortlessly achieved by
unalloyed devotional service to the Supreme Lord. As stated in the Bṛhan-nāradīya Purāṇa
puruṣārthā dvijottamāḥ
hari-bhakti-parāṇāṁ vai
sampadyante na saṁśayaḥ
“O best of brāhmaṇas, there is no doubt that those who are dedicated to Lord Hari’s
devotional service achieve all the goals of life, known as religiosity, economic development,
sense gratification, and liberation.” And in a prayer to the Personality of Godhead, we read in
Śrī Viṣṇu Purāṇa (1.20.27):
dharmārtha-kāmaiḥ kiṁ tasya
muktis tasya kare sthitā
samasta-jagatāṁ mūle
yasya bhaktiḥ sthirā tvayi
“What is the value of religiosity, economic development, and sense gratification to one who
has firm devotion for You, the root of all the worlds? Liberation sits in the palm of his hand.”
BB 2.2.163
TEXT 163
gūḍhopaniṣadaḥ kāścit
kaiścid gūḍhair mahāgamaiḥ
samaṁ mahā-purāṇaiś ca
tūṣṇīm āsan kṛta-smitāḥ
gūḍha—confidential; upaniṣadaḥ—Upaniṣads; kāścit—some; kaiścit—with some; gūḍhaiḥ—
confidential; mahā-āgamaiḥ—major Āgamas; samam—together; mahā-purāṇaiḥ—with major
Purāṇas; ca—and; tūṣṇīm—silent; āsan—were; kṛta-smitāḥ—smiling.
A few confidential Upaniṣads smiled and kept silent, along with some confidential major
Āgamas and Purāṇas.
The little-known most confidential Upaniṣads, like the Gopāla-tāpanī, smiled but said
nothing, and so did certain Vaiṣṇava Āgamas, like the Sātvata-siddhānta, and a few Purāṇas,
like Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Some were thinking, “Just see the power of the Supreme Lord’s
illusory energy, which makes the essential meaning of scripture, which should be obvious,
incomprehensible to vastly learned authorities.” Others were thinking scornfully, “Who are
these śāstras to presume that merely bestowing liberation is the true glory of bhakti?” This
second group saw no purpose in arguing with scriptures whose outlook was so dissimilar from
their own, and even thought it improper that these intimate topics be discussed in public.
Granted, these scriptures thought, karma, jṣāna, and mokṣa make up the ladder ascending to
bhakti, devotional service, and so the glories of Vedic rituals, knowledge, and liberation
culminate in the glories of bhakti. Nonetheless, when the main focus of discussion is on lesser
spiritual methods, the importance of bhakti can only be hinted at; in such contexts, its
superexcellence cannot be properly revealed. With these thoughts in mind, the Bhāgavatam
and a few other scriptures, following the lead of the confidential Upaniṣads, kept quiet.
BB 2.2.164-165
TEXTS 164–165
mokṣo ’nu bhagavan-mantrajapa-mātrāt su-sidhyati
na veti kaiścid āmnāyapurāṇādibhir ulbaṇaḥ
āgamānāṁ vivādo ’bhūt
tam asoḍhvā bahir gatāḥ
te purāṇāgamāḥ karṇau
mokṣaḥ—liberation; anu—subsequently; bhagavat—of the Personality of Godhead; mantrajapa—by chanting the mantra; mātrāt—merely; su-sidhyati—is easily achieved; na vā—or
not; iti—thus; kaiścit—by some; āmnāya—with śrutis; purāṇa-ādibhiḥ—and Purāṇas and
other scriptures; ulbaṇaḥ—fierce; āgamānām—by the Āgamas; vivādaḥ—a debate; abhūt—
began; tam—that; asoḍhvā—not tolerating; bahiḥ—outside; gatāḥ—went; te—those; purāṇaāgamāḥ—Purāṇas and Āgamas; karṇau—their ears; pidhāya—covering; upaniṣat-yutāḥ—
together with Upaniṣads.
A fierce debate then arose—between the Āgamas on one side and scriptures like certain śrutis
and Purāṇas on the other—about whether or not liberation is achieved merely by chanting
mantras that worship the Personality of Godhead. Unable to tolerate the debate, the Purāṇas,
Āgamas, and Upaniṣads who had been silent covered their ears and left.
Āmnāya means the original Vedic texts, or śrutis, and in the phrase āmnāya-purāṇādibhiḥ the
suffix -ādibhiḥ (“and so on”) indicates scriptures such as the Dharma-śāstras and epic
histories. As the previous discussions were left behind and a debate began on a new topic, the
śāstras who were unable to tolerate hearing it, or the doubt on which it was based, left the
assembly in disgust. They covered their ears to avoid the offense of even hearing doubts that
the Supreme Lord’s mantras have the power to give liberation. These śāstras, in their own
pages, never entertain even a hint of doubts of this sort. Moments before, the confidential
Upaniṣads had taken the lead in keeping quiet, followed by the Bhāgavatam and other
confidential Mahā-purāṇas. Now, in boycotting the debate, the Bhāgavatam and its colleagues
took the lead.
BB 2.2.166
TEXT 166
tato mahā-purāṇānāṁ
mahopaniṣadāṁ tathā
mādhya-sthyād āgamānāṁ tu
jayo jāto mama priyaḥ
tataḥ—then; mahā-purāṇānām—the major Purāṇas; mahā-upaniṣadām—the major Upaniṣads;
tathā—and; mādhya-sthyāt—because of their being arbitrators; āgamānām—of the Āgamas;
tu—but; jayaḥ—victory; jātaḥ—ensued; mama—to me; priyaḥ—pleasing.
Then the major Purāṇas and Upaniṣads became arbitrators, and so victory went to the
Āgamas. That pleased me very much.
Now that the most advanced Purāṇas, Upaniṣads, and Āgamas had walked out on the debate,
they were able to give impartial consideration to both sides. And they deemed correct the
claim made by the Āgamas—that liberation is easily achieved simply by chanting mantras
worshiping the Personality of Godhead. As stated in Śrī Viṣṇu Purāṇa (1.6.40):
gatvā gatvā nivartante
candra-sūryādayo grahāḥ
adyāpi na nivartante
“Even the moon, sun, and other planets are created and destroyed again and again. But
persons who have meditated on the twelve-syllable viṣṇu-mantra have never had to return,
even till the present day.” And Śrī Padma Purāṇa gives this opinion:
japena devatā nityaṁ
stūyamānā prasīdati
prasannā vipulān bhogān
dadyān muktiṁ ca śāśvatīm
“The Supreme Lord is always satisfied when praised by the chanting of His mantras. And so
He awards abundant enjoyment, as well as eternal liberation.”
Because Gopa-kumāra was absorbed in chanting a mantra addressed to the Supreme Lord and
had no interest in other spiritual practices, he was extremely pleased by the conclusion of the
BB 2.2.167
TEXT 167
mayābhipretya tad-bhāvaṁ
te purāṇāgamādayaḥ
anunīya sabhā-madhyam
ānītāḥ stuti-pāṭavaiḥ
mayā—by me; abhipretya—being discerned; tat—their; bhāvam—mood; te—they; purāṇaāgama-ādayaḥ—of the Purāṇas, Āgamas, and other scriptures; anunīya—being placated;
sabhā-madhyam—inside the assembly; ānītāḥ—brought back; stuti—in offering praise;
pāṭavaiḥ—by expertise.
Discerning the inner mood of the Purāṇas, Āgamas, and other scriptures who had left the
debate, I pacified them with tactful praise and brought them back to the assembly.
Gopa-kumāra had noted the grave smiles on the faces of the Bhāgavatam, Sātvata-siddhānta,
and other scriptures who left the assembly. Those signs led him to believe that these few
śāstras, among all the others, best understood the truth. With humility and adroit praise he
managed to bring them back.
BB 2.2.168
TEXT 168
tat tattvaṁ sādaraṁ pṛṣṭās
te śrī-bhāgavatādayaḥ
ūcuḥ sātvata-siddhāntādyāgamāḥ śruti-maulibhiḥ
tat—about that (liberation); tattvam—the truth; sa-ādaram—respectfully; pṛṣṭāḥ—questioned;
te—they; śrī-bhāgavata-ādayaḥ—Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and the other scriptures; ūcuḥ—said;
maulibhiḥ—along with the foremost śrutis.
From those scriptures—the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the Sātvata-siddhānta and other Āgamas,
and the foremost śrutis—I respectfully asked about the truth of the matter, and they replied.
With great respect, Gopa-kumāra asked the Bhāgavatam and other devotional scriptures about
the true nature of liberation. He also inquired why they had responded to the discussion the
way they had—first by smiling silently, then by covering their ears and leaving the assembly.
BB 2.2.169
TEXT 169
śrī-bhakti-śāstrāṇy ūcuḥ
mahā-gopyaṁ nidher api
ākhyāmo mukharī-kṛtāḥ
śrī-bhakti-śāstrāṇi ūcuḥ—the devotional scriptures said; labdha—O you who have achieved;
brahma-adhikāra—the position of Brahmā; idam—this; mahā-gopyam—more secret;
nidheḥ—than a rare treasure; api—even; bhavat—of your good self; sat-guṇa—of good
qualities; sandohaiḥ—because of the multitude; ākhyāmaḥ—we shall explain; mukharīkṛtāḥ—induced to speak freely.
The devotional scriptures said: O dear one who have achieved the post of Brahmā, this topic
is more secret than a rare treasure. But we shall explain it to you, because your abundant good
qualities inspire us to speak freely.
In texts 169 through 230, the bhakti-śāstras answer. Since Gopa-kumāra holds the post of
Lord Brahmā, he is worthy of the privilege to hear such elevated topics. One might argue that
the secrets of devotional service should not be freely divulged to anyone, not even the lord of
an entire universe, unless he is fully surrendered to the Supreme Lord and His devotees. But
then Gopa-kumāra’s personal qualifications should be taken into account, especially his
eagerness to engage in the Supreme Lord’s service.
BB 2.2.170
TEXT 170
kvacit prastūyate ’smābhir
mokṣas tyājayituṁ samyag
vinindya sa-paricchadaḥ
kvacit—sometimes; prastūyate—is discussed; asmābhiḥ—by us; bhagavat-bhakti—to the
Supreme Lord’s devotional service; tat-paraiḥ—who are dedicated; mokṣaḥ—liberation;
tyājayitum—in order to encourage its rejection; samyak—completely; vinindya—
condemning; sa-paricchadaḥ—along with everything associated with it.
We who are dedicated to the Personality of Godhead’s devotional service may sometimes
discuss liberation, but only to encourage people to reject it completely. When we speak of
liberation we condemn it, and everything that goes with it.
The bhakti-śāstras have no business promoting liberation. But sometimes they do describe it,
because people generally cannot give up attachment to something unless scientifically taught
why it is undesirable. When the bhakti-śāstras speak of liberation, they criticize attachment to
liberation for its own sake, and attachment to jṣāna and the other impersonal means of striving
for liberation.
BB 2.2.171
TEXT 171
nirvaktuṁ bhakti-māhātmyaṁ
kathyate ’syāpi tat kvacit
na tu sādhya-phalatvena
sukha-gandho ’pi nāsti yat
nirvaktum—to describe; bhakti—of devotional service; māhātmyam—the glories; kathyate—
are described; asya—of it (liberation); api—also; tat—those; kvacit—sometimes; na—not;
tu—but; sādhya—of the goal; phalatvena—as the perfection; sukha—of happiness;
gandhaḥ—a trace; api—even; na asti—there is not; yat—which.
To describe the ultimate glories of devotional service, we may sometimes speak highly of
mokṣa, liberation. But we do not intend to acclaim mokṣa the final goal of spiritual discipline,
because in mokṣa there is not even a trace of real happiness.
In some passages of the bhakti-śāstras, the joy found in liberation is described as being greater
than any happiness in material life. The śāstras provide this information to contrast the joy of
liberation with the joy of pure devotional service, which is billions of times more intense.
Other than the joy of liberation, nothing can be meaningfully compared with the joy of bhakti.
Properly speaking, however, the concept of “joy” in liberation is only a theoretical creation of
the impersonalists. As the bhakti-śāstras declare in this verse, in liberation there is not even a
trace of real happiness.
BB 2.2.172
TEXT 172
yathārogye suṣuptau ca
sukhaṁ mokṣe ’pi kalpyate
paraṁ tv ajṣāna-saṁjṣo ’yam
yathā—as; ārogye—in not being sick; suṣuptau—in deep sleep; ca—and; sukham—
happiness; mokṣe—in liberation; api—also; kalpyate—is imagined; param—only; tu—but;
ajṣāna—of illusion; saṁjṣaḥ—a designation; ayam—this; anabhijṣa—to ignorant people;
The so-called happiness of liberation may be compared to the happiness of not being sick or
the enjoyment of deep sleep. In fact, the very term “liberation” is a misnomer created by
illusion, and it appeals only to the ignorant.
As the scriptures like to do, they here support their proposition with analogies. Simply being
free from the pain of disease is not positive happiness. Nor is there happiness in deep sleep,
which is nothing but a condition of ignorance. One only imagines that in deep sleep one is
happy because in that sleep one is free for a while from the mind’s flights of fancy, and from
dreams and other agitations. One thinks, “I slept happily, unaware of anything.”
In the same way, one only imagines that there is happiness in liberation, a state of apparent
voidness in which birth, death, and the other pains of material existence are not perceived.
People praise liberation only because they are unaware of the facts. The very term “liberation”
is a misnomer, as Lord Brahmā states in the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.26):
ajṣāna-saṁjṣau bhava-bandha-mokṣau
dvau nāma nānyau sta ṛta-jṣa-bhāvāt
ajasra-city ātmani kevale pare
vicāryamāṇe taraṇāv ivāhanī
“The conception of material bondage and that of liberation are both signs of ignorance. They
lie outside the scope of true knowledge. They cease to exist when one correctly knows that the
pure spirit soul is distinct from matter and always fully conscious. Bondage and liberation
then no longer have any meaning, just as day and night mean nothing for the sun.”
BB 2.2.173
TEXT 173
kathaṣcid bhagavan-nāmābhāsasyāpi sa sidhyati
sakṛd uccāra-mātreṇa
kiṁ vā karṇa-praveśataḥ
kathaṣcit—somehow; bhagavat-nāma—of the names of the Supreme Lord; ābhāsasya—from
a shadow; api—even; saḥ—it (liberation); sidhyati—is attained; sakṛt—once; uccāramātreṇa—merely by uttering; kim vā—or else; karṇa—the ears; praveśataḥ—by entering.
From even a shadow of the Lord’s names—if one somehow chants them but once, or merely
if they enter the ears—liberation is easily attained.
If even after hearing how the previous verse defines liberation one still wants to know the
means to attain it, from the present statement one can learn that devotees of the Personality of
Godhead achieve liberation without separate endeavor, as a mere by-product of the practice of
bhakti. Furthermore, one’s service to the holy names of the Lord need not even be pure;
simply nāmābhāsa, the “shadow” of chanting the Lord’s names, earns one liberation.
Nāmābhāsa resembles the shadow of a real object in the world. It is the unintentional
uttering—in jest, contempt, or other moods of neglect—of sounds that contain the same
syllables as Lord Viṣṇu’s names. Chanting or hearing nāmābhāsa even once results in
liberation. This is stated in the Sixth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.3.24):
etāvatālam agha-nirharaṇāya puṁsāṁ
saṅkīrtanaṁ bhagavato guṇa-karma-nāmnām
vikruśya putram aghavān yad ajāmilo ’pi
nārāyaṇeti mriyamāṇa iyāya muktim
“It should therefore be understood that one is easily relieved from all sinful reactions by
chanting the holy name of the Lord and chanting of His qualities and activities. This is the
only process recommended for relief from sinful reactions. Even if one chants the holy name
of the Lord with improper pronunciation, he will achieve relief from material bondage if he
chants without offenses. Ajāmila, for example, was extremely sinful, but while dying he
merely chanted the holy name, and although calling his son, he achieved complete liberation
because he remembered the name of Nārāyaṇa.” Also, at the beginning of the history of
Satyatapā, Śrī Varāha Purāṇa (38.20) tells of a tiger that once approached a brāhmaṇa who
was busy chanting japa while standing in water. The tiger wanted to eat the brāhmaṇa, but at
that very moment the tiger was killed by a hunter. And because of hearing the names of the
Supreme Lord from the mouth of the brāhmaṇa, the tiger was liberated.
BB 2.2.174
TEXT 174
mokṣo ’yam avadhāryatām
teṣāṁ veda-purāṇādiśāstrāṇāṁ hi yathā-matam
vicāra—in discriminating reason; acāturī—to those who are not competent; ramyaḥ—
attractive; mokṣaḥ—liberation; ayam—this; avadhāryatām—please understand; teṣām—of
these; veda-purāṇa-ādi—Vedas, Purāṇas, and so on; śāstrāṇām—scriptures; hi—certainly;
yathā-matam—according to the opinions.
Liberation, please understand, is attractive to those whose discrimination is poor. This is
evident even from the opinions of the same Vedas, Purāṇas, and other scriptures that the
proponents of liberation accept as authorities.
In philosophical debates, opposing sides from different schools of thought unavoidably base
their opinions on their own assumptions. Buddhists, for example, assume that everything is
but momentary and thus unreal, while the logicians of the Gautama school assume that
whatever has perceivable qualities is real. A debate is effective when each side, rather than
fight over these assumptions, accepts for the sake of argument the assumptions of the other
side and works out their own arguments from that starting point. It is in this sense that the
bhakti-śāstras accept the scriptural statements yogīs cite in support of their conviction that
impersonal liberation is the final goal of life.
BB 2.2.175
TEXT 175
so ’śeṣa-duḥkha-dhvaṁso vā-
vidyā-karma-kṣayo ’tha vā
māyā-kṛtānyathā-rūpatyāgāt svānubhavo ’pi vā
saḥ—it (mokṣa); aśeṣa-duḥkha—of all misery; dhvaṁsaḥ—the elimination; vā—or; avidyā—
in ignorance; karma—of material activity; kṣayaḥ—the destruction; atha vā—or else; māyākṛta—created by Māyā; anyathā-rūpa—of false identity; tyāgāt—by abandoning; svaanubhavaḥ—realization of one’s real nature; api vā—or else.
Mokṣa, liberation, is the removal of all misery, or the stopping of illusory activities, or the
self-realization that comes from abandoning the false identities created by Māyā.
These three alternative definitions of mokṣa, taken from various śāstras, are adhered to by
those who strive for liberation. The logicians of Gautama’s Nyāya school hold that liberation
is the removal of all kinds of misery, which they count as twenty-one. As the followers of
Gautama say, ātyantikī duḥkha-nivṛttir muktiḥ: “Liberation is the complete stoppage of
suffering.” A section of the Vedānta school says that liberation is the ceasing of illusion and
thus of activity. And another party of impersonal Vedāntists, the “illusionists” (Vivartavādīs), define liberation as rejecting the false identity produced by the power of illusion and
thus realizing oneself to be one with Brahman. The Vivarta-vādīs further describe the false
identity of the illusioned soul in terms of dualities and the cycle of life and death. These
impersonalists sometimes cite Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.10.6) as the source of their definition.
Muktir hitvānyathā-rūpaṁ svarūpeṇa vyavasthitiḥ: “Liberation means to give up other
identities and assume one’s true essential identity.”
BB 2.2.176
TEXT 176
syāt tādṛk sukham alpakam
jīva—of the finite individual soul; svarūpa-bhūtasya—which is his true identity; sat-citānanda—eternally full of knowledge and bliss; vastunaḥ—who is an entity; sākṣāt—direct;
anubhavena—by experience; api—even; syāt—can be; tādṛk—such; sukham—the happiness;
alpakam—only meager.
The happiness that arises from directly perceiving the true identity of the jīva soul—the entity
composed of eternity, knowledge, and bliss—is actually meager.
The mokṣa, or liberation, conceived in the first two ideas cited above—mokṣa as the end of
misery or as the end of the causes of misery—affords no positive happiness. This was not
difficult to show. Furthermore, the happiness of self-realization presumed in the third theory
of mokṣa, that of vivarta, is actually meager, as the bhakti-śāstras, in texts 176 through 196,
now set out to prove. Compared to the bliss of performing pure devotional service and
realizing the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead, who embodies all the perfections of
Brahman, realizing the identity of the jīva soul brings very little happiness. In fact, this socalled happiness of self-realization is nothing more than the negation of suffering; the
scriptures refer to it as happiness only as a concession to the foolish. But at least the
“happiness” of perceiving the jīva soul serves as a standard of comparison by which to think
of the joy of pure devotional service to the Supreme Lord.
BB 2.2.177
TEXT 177
śuddhātma-tattvaṁ yad vastu
tad eva brahma kathyate
nirguṇaṁ tac ca niḥsaṅgaṁ
nirvikāraṁ nirīhitam
śuddha-ātma—of the pure self; tattvam—the reality; yat—which; vastu—entity; tat—that;
eva—indeed; brahma—Brahman; kathyate—is called; nirguṇam—devoid of qualities; tat—
that; ca—and; niḥsaṅgam—free from attachment; nirvikāram—unchanging; nirīhitam—
That entity—the reality of pure self—is called Brahman. It is devoid of qualities, free from
attachment, unchanging, and inactive.
The impersonalists might now suggest that, in contrast to the small happiness of realizing the
minute jīva, the relish of perceiving the impersonal Supreme in liberation is unlimited.
However, the bhakti-śāstras here point out that the Vivarta-vādīs’ own definition of the
Supreme leaves little room in Brahman realization for happiness. According to them,
Brahman is devoid of qualities such as compassion. It has no attachment to anything or
anyone, including the pure Vaiṣṇavas. It undergoes no changes, such as the transformations of
a heart melting in the ecstasy of love, and displays none of the dynamic varieties of opulence
and sweetness shown by the Supreme Lord in His personal form. It is also inactive, which
implies that it has no wonderful all-attractive pastimes. Thus the happiness of realizing
Brahman cannot transcend the limits of impersonalism.
BB 2.2.178
TEXT 178
bhagavāṁs tu paraṁ brahma
parātmā parameśvaraḥ
su-sāndra-sac-cid-ānandavigraho mahimārṇavaḥ
bhagavān—the Personality of Godhead; tu—however; param brahma—the Supreme
Brahman; para-ātmā—the Supersoul; parama-īśvaraḥ—the absolute controller of everything;
su-sāndra—very concentrated; sat-cit-ānanda—of eternity, knowledge and bliss; vigrahaḥ—
whose personal form; mahimā—of greatness; arṇavaḥ—ocean.
But the Personality of Godhead is the Supreme Brahman, the Supersoul, the absolute
controller of everything. His body is the concentrated essence of eternity, knowledge, and
bliss. He is an ocean of superlative qualities.
Substantial happiness is not to be found in the impersonal conception of the Supreme, but
rather in pure devotional service to the Personality of Godhead. He is the complete Absolute
Truth, paraṁ brahma. He is also the Supreme Soul, the indwelling controller who regulates
everyone’s consciousness. As such, He is the ultimate controller of everything, the ruler of
even Brahmā and all the other demigods. And as the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha He is the most
concentrated manifestation of eternity, knowledge, and bliss, which constitute His
transcendental body. He is an ocean—steady, deep, and infinitely wide—of countless
inconceivable and amazing perfections.
When the bhakti-śāstras refer to the full personal concept of the Absolute Truth, the term
normally used is Para-brahman or paraṁ brahma, as in Bhagavad-gītā (10.12): paraṁ brahma
paraṁ dhāma pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān (“You are the Supreme Brahman, the supreme
abode, the supreme purifier”). When the spiritual reality is indicated in a more generic sense,
it is usually called simply Brahman, as again in Bhagavad-gītā (14.27): brahmaṇo ’hi pratiṣṭho
’ham (“I am the foundation of the Absolute”). Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.87.1) also says:
brahman brahmaṇy anirdeśye
nirguṇe guṇa-vṛttayaḥ
kathaṁ caranti śrutayaḥ
sākṣāt sad-asataḥ pare
“How can the Vedas directly describe the Supreme Absolute Truth, who cannot be described
in words? O brāhmaṇa, the Vedas are limited to describing the qualities of material nature, but
the Supreme is devoid of those qualities, being transcendental to all material manifestations
and their causes.”
When the adjective param is seen with the term brahma, it may occasionally be intended to
distinguish brahma the Supreme Truth from Vedic sound, which is also called brahma.
BB 2.2.179
TEXT 179
saguṇatvāguṇatvādivirodhāḥ praviśanti tam
mahā-vibhūtir brahmāsya
prasiddhetthaṁ tayor bhidā
saguṇatva—having qualities; aguṇatva—having no qualities; ādi—and so on; virodhāḥ—
contrary natures; praviśanti—enter; tam—Him; mahā-vibhūtiḥ—infinite opulence; brahma—
the impersonal aspect of the Supreme; asya—of Him; prasiddhā—well established; ittham—
thus; tayoḥ—of them; bhidā—the difference.
Contrary natures, like having qualities and having no qualities, conjoin in Him. Since
impersonal Brahman is an infinite opulence of the Personality of Godhead, the difference
between Him and Brahman is well established.
As rivers merge into an ocean, many opposite qualities converge in the Supreme Person. The
word ādi after saguṇatva and aguṇatva indicates more opposites—detachment and association,
changelessness and change, inactivity and endeavor, oneness and multiplicity, nonduality and
specific qualities. Conceived as impersonal Brahman, the Supreme is devoid of qualities and
other dualities. Conceived as Paramātmā and Parameśvara, the Supreme displays
characteristics such as having relationships with other living beings, possessing wonderful
qualities, and so on. Thus in truth the Supreme is full of qualities, many of them apparently
contradictory. Śāstra may sometimes say that the Supreme cannot be described in words and
that He has no name, but the literal construction of these statements is refuted by the
aprasiddhes tad-guṇānām
anāmāsau prakīrtitaḥ
aprākṛtatvād rūpasyāpy
arūpo ’yaṁ pracakṣate
“Because His qualities are not well known, He is said to have no name. And because His form
is not material, He is said to have no form.”
Māyāvādīs argue that the Personality of Godhead may have qualities but as products of Māyā
those qualities are illusory. Thus they want to reconcile His having qualities with their idea of
reality, that the Supreme actually has no qualities. In fact, however, the supreme powers of the
Absolute Truth are eternal and real, not illusory like the material creation. And therefore when
the personal feature of the Supreme, Bhagavān, is said to be nirguṇa, like Brahman, the sense
is different, namely that Bhagavān transcends all material qualities. At the same time, like the
material world, He has many different qualities, and so He is also said to be saguṇa. This
seems contradictory, but it is possible by His inconceivable, amazing potencies.
The Supreme Person is indeed mahimārṇava, the ocean in which all perfections converge.
This is confirmed in many śāstras. In the words of the Mokṣa-dharma (Mahābhārata, Śāntiparva 335.10–11):
yat kiṣcid iha loke vai
deha-bandhaṁ viśām-pate
sarvaṁ paṣcabhir āviṣṭaṁ
bhūtair īśvara-buddhi-jaiḥ
īśvaro hi mahad bhūtaṁ
prabhur nārāyaṇo viṛāṭ
bhūtāntar-ātmā vijṣeyaḥ
saguṇo nirguṇo ’pi saḥ
“O ruler of the people, whatever you see in this world in connection with the material bodies
of the living entities, whatever you see composed of the five elements born from the
intelligence of the Supreme Lord—know all that to be the Supreme Lord Himself. Both
possessing qualities and having none, He is the ultimate element of all creation, the supreme
master, the body of the universe, Lord Nārāyaṇa. Try to understand Him to be the inner Self
of all creatures.” In the Kūrma Purāṇa:
asthūlaś cānaṇuś caiva
sthūlo ’ṇuś caiva sarvataḥ
avarṇaḥ sarvataḥ proktaḥ
śyāmo raktānta-locanaḥ
aiśvarya-yogād bhagavān
viruddhārtho ’bhidhīyate
tathāpi doṣāḥ parame
naivāhāryāḥ kathaṣcana
guṇā viruddhā api tu
samāhāryāś ca sarvataḥ
“He is neither large nor infinitesimal; yet He is larger and smaller than everything else. He is
said to be devoid of color; yet He is dark blue, and the corners of His eyes are reddish. By the
play of His personal powers, the Supreme Lord is known by contradictory designations. Yet
He is the Supreme, and faults should never be ascribed to Him. In Him all contrary qualities
combine.” And in the Viṣṇu-dharmottara Purāṇa:
guṇāḥ sarve ’pi yujyante
hy aiśvaryāt puruṣottame
doṣāḥ kathaṣcin naivātra
yujyante paramo hi saḥ
guṇa-doṣau māyayaiva
kecid āhur apaṇḍitāḥ
na tatra māyā māyī vā
tadīyau tau kuto hy ataḥ
tasmān na māyayā sarvaṁ
sarvaiśvaryasya sambhavam
amāyo hīśvaro yasmāt
tasmāt taṁ paramaṁ viduḥ
“All qualities join together in the Supreme Person by virtue of His transcendental powers. Yet
no faults ever enter Him, for He is the Absolute. Some persons who are not truly learned say
that good qualities and faults exist in the Supreme Lord by the force of Māyā. But in Him
there is no Māyā, nor any agent who could possess Māyā. How then could He have illusory
good qualities and faults that Māyā could produce? The opulences of the Supreme Lord are
not, therefore, generated by the force of illusion. The Lord transcends Māyā, and so He is
known as the Supreme.” All this will be more elaborately explained later on.
Although impersonal Brahman and the Personality of Godhead are but different conceptions
of the same Absolute Truth, some think otherwise; they think that Brahman, the Lord’s
formless aspect, worshiped by yogīs, is one entity, and that His form, possessing personal
qualities and worshiped by His devotees, is a different entity. But although the Māyāvādīs
think that saguṇa Brahman is not as real as nirguṇa Brahman, they still have to admit that the
saguṇa aspect of the Supreme is the concentrated eternal essence of pure existence (śuddhasattva). Therefore, even in their opinion the saguṇa form of the Lord is superior to everything
else that has form.
That personal form is realized by the Lord’s unalloyed devotees, but remains invisible to
persons striving to realize impersonal Brahman. In addition, the personal aspect of the
Supreme has special unique excellences, such as His distributing the topmost ecstasy of
prema. This is shown in a narrative in the Śrī Nārāyaṇīya of the Mokṣa-dharma where
Uparicara Vasu performs a sacrifice in which he—but not Bṛhaspati and others—is able to see
the Personality of Godhead accepting His share of the offerings. Another vivid example
appears in the history of Brahmā’s sons Ekata, Dvita, and Trita, all great yogīs, who went to
Śvetadvīpa to see the Supreme Lord. Even after intense endeavor they were unable to have
His audience. But when Śrī Sanaka and his brothers, who constantly perceived Brahman and
were the most elevated of self-contented sages, visited Śrī Vaikuṇṭha, they did see the
Personality of Godhead, and the ecstasy they felt was so powerful that various
transformations became manifest in them. This same incident is described in the Third Canto
of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.15.43):
tasyāravinda-nayanasya padāravindakiṣjalka-miśra-tulasī-makaranda-vāyuḥ
antar-gataḥ sva-vivareṇa cakāra teṣāṁ
saṅkṣobham akṣara-juṣām api citta-tanvoḥ
“When the breeze carrying the aroma of tulasī leaves from the toes of the lotus feet of the
Personality of Godhead entered the nostrils of those sages, they experienced a change both in
body and in mind, even though they were attached to the impersonal Brahman
The conclusion is that the Supreme’s features of Brahman and the jīva soul are two of the
Personality of Godhead’s opulent expansions, as many authoritative sources confirm.
For example, according to one saying by saintly devotees, parāt-paraṁ brahma ca te
vibhūtayaḥ: “The Supreme Truth, Brahman, is also one of Your vibhūtis, O Lord.” In
Bhagavad-gītā (10.20) Śrī Kṛṣṇa includes the soul as one of His vibhūtis.
Aham ātmā
guḍākeśa/ sarva-bhūtāśaya-sthitaḥ: “O conqueror of sleep, I am the soul situated in the hearts
of all living beings.” Śrī Brahma-saṁhitā (5.40) also states:
yasya prabhā prabhavato jagad-aṇḍa-koṭikoṭiṣv aśeṣa-vasudhādi-vibhūti-bhinnam
tad brahma niṣkalam anantam aśeṣa-bhūtaṁ
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is endowed with great power. The glowing
effulgence of His transcendental form is the impersonal Brahman, which is absolute,
complete, and unlimited and which displays the varieties of countless planets, with their
different opulences, in millions and millions of universes.” In other words, Brahman is the
Supreme Person’s partial expansion. And as stated elsewhere:
anārambhaṁ tamo yānti
parādhīnaś ca baddhaś ca
svalpa-jṣāna-sukhe sthitaḥ
alpa-śaktiḥ sa-doṣaś ca
jīvātmā nedṛśaḥ paraḥ
vadatā tu tayor aikyaṁ
kiṁ tair na duṣkṛtaṁ kṛtam
“Those who blaspheme the Supreme Soul go to darkness that has no beginning or end. The
jīva soul is subordinate, bound, weak, full of faults, and absorbed in very insignificant
awareness and enjoyment; but the Supreme has just the opposite qualities. What wickedness
does one not commit by saying that the jīva soul and the Supreme Soul are the same?
vacanānīha yāni hi
tāni dṛṣṭvā bhramantīha
durātmāno ’lpa-cetasaḥ
asy asmi tvam ahaṁ svātmety
abhidhā gocaro yataḥ
sarvāntaratvāt puruṣas
tv antar-yāmī bhidām ayan
“When fools and rascals read the scriptural statements that describe the oneness of the soul
and the Supersoul, they become bewildered. These statements inspire them to tell one another,
‘I am you, and you are me, my own self.’ But actually the Supreme Person is the indwelling
regulator, the Soul within everyone, and so He is different from the individual soul.
ato bhramanti vacanair
asurā moha-tatparaiḥ
tan-mohane parā prītir
devānāṁ paramasya ca
ato mahāndha-tamasi
narake yānty abhedataḥ
“In this way, demons are bewildered by statements intended to confuse them. And that
bewilderment is pleasing to the demigods and to the Supreme Lord Himself. For thinking that
the soul and Supersoul are one and the same, the demons go to the hell called Mahāndhatamas.”
BB 2.2.180
TEXT 180
ataḥ sāndra-sukhaṁ tasya
bhaktyānubhavatāṁ sāndraṁ
sukhaṁ sampadyate dhruvam
ataḥ—therefore; sāndra—concentrated; sukham—the essence of happiness; tasya—His;
śrīmat—beautiful; pāda-ambuja—of lotus feet; dvayam—the pair; bhaktyā—with pure
devotion; anubhavatām—for those who are realizing; sāndram—concentrated; sukham—
happiness; sampadyate—is obtained; dhruvam—certainly.
His two beautiful lotus feet, therefore, embody the concentrated essence of happiness. Those
who realize Him through pure devotion surely attain that intense bliss.
The happiness of the devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is much greater than
the happiness of persons who meditate on impersonal Brahman. The two lotus feet of the
Personality of Godhead are śrīmat, endowed with all splendor. As the sage Parāśara explains
in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (1.22.53):
jyotsnā vistāriṇī yathā
parasya brahmaṇaḥ śaktis
tathedam akhilaṁ jagat
“Just as the light of a fire situated in one place spreads in every direction, the energies of the
Supreme Personality of Godhead, Para-brahman, spread all over the universe.” And Śrī Kṛṣṇa
says in the Bhagavad-gītā (14.27), brahmaṇo hi pratiṣṭhāham/ amṛtasyāvyayasya ca: “I am the
foundation of Brahman, the immortal and infallible.”
The Supreme Lord’s lotus feet are pure spirit, perfect in eternity, knowledge, and bliss. Their
effulgence is like the combined radiance of the sun and moon, and the worshipers of those
feet naturally relish intense pleasure. In contrast, the pleasure of realizing the Brahman feature
of the Supreme is minuscule. The jīvas are of the nature of this Brahman, and even though the
individual effulgence of each of them is small, because the jīvas are found everywhere their
combined effulgence pervades the entire universe. The pleasure of realizing Brahman and the
jīva is not material, but it is inferior to the bliss gained by realizing the lotus feet of the Lord.
The individual jīvas may be compared to solar and lunar rays. The atomic quanta of light
shining forth from the sun and moon are expansions of the sun and moon and nondifferent
from them, but although the rays of the sun and moon have many sunlike and moonlike
qualities, such as brilliance, the rays each bear but a small part of solar and lunar power.
All this notwithstanding, when we compare both Brahman and the jīvas with the material
cosmos, we find that matter is not sac-cid-ānanda; and so, properly speaking, matter is not an
aṁśa (“nondifferent part”) of Para-brahman but is one of His śaktis (“energies”).
BB 2.2.181
TEXT 181
sukha-rūpaṁ sukhādhāraḥ
śarkarā-piṇḍa-van matam
sukhaṁ brahma tu kevalam
sukha—of joy; rūpam—the manifestation; sukha—of joy; ādhāraḥ—the source; śarkarā—of
sugar; piṇḍa-vat—like a piece; matam—considered; śrī-kṛṣṇa—of Śrī Kṛṣṇa; caraṇadvandvam—the two feet; sukham—joyful; brahma—Brahman; tu—but; kevalam—only.
The two feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa are considered like a piece of sugar because they are joyful and are
a source of all joy. Brahman, however, is only joyful.
Lord Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet are sukha-rūpa, the essence of joy itself, and sukha-ādhāra, the object
of love in which His devotees taste countless varieties of joy. His feet are like a sugar lump,
which is in essence nothing but sweetness but is also a particular object that supplies
sweetness. Brahman, in its essence, is bliss, but Brahman cannot be considered a source of
bliss, because that would involve a duality, a difference between Brahman and its bliss. By
definition, after all, Brahman is supposed to be free of duality. The concept of the Personality
of Godhead, however, is not limited in that way; He is the fathomless reservoir of wonders,
deeper than millions of oceans. Just as various rivers enter an ocean, many contrary qualities
like oneness and duality enter and mingle within Him.
BB 2.2.182
TEXT 182
jīva-svarūpaṁ yad vastu
paraṁ brahma tad eva cet
tad eva sac-cid-ānandaghanaṁ śrī-bhagavāṁś ca tat
jīva—of the finite self; svarūpam—the identity; yat—which; vastu—entity; param brahma—
the Supreme Brahman; tat—that; eva—only; cet—if; tat—that; eva—only; sat-cit-ānanda—of
eternity, knowledge and bliss; ghanam—the embodiment; śrī-bhagavān—the divine
Personality of Godhead; ca—and; tat—that.
If the identity of the jīva, the individual self, were the same as that of the Supreme Brahman,
then the jīva would be the full embodiment of eternity, knowledge, and bliss. He would be the
Personality of Godhead Himself.
Some philosophers think that God is nothing else than impersonal Brahman, which pervades
the creation with consciousness like the moon illuminating the sky with its rays. These
philosophers may even take support for their idea from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.11), in
which it is said, brahmeti paramātmeti bhagavān iti śabdyate: “The same one Absolute is
called Brahman, Paramātmā, and Bhagavān.” But this impersonal view does not allow the
conscious self, the jīva, any real individual existence apart from Brahman. And as the bhaktiśāstras explain in texts 182 through 188, not much happiness can be derived from the socalled liberation of identifying the jīva with Brahman, the Supreme.
BB 2.2.183
TEXT 183
tathāpi jīva-tattvāni
tasyāṁśā eva sammatāḥ
tejo-jālaṁ yathā raveḥ
tathā api—nonetheless; jīva-tattvāni—the individual souls; tasya—of Him; aṁśāḥ—partial
samūhasya—of a mass; tejaḥ-jālam—the network of effulgence; yathā—as; raveḥ—of the
But the jīvas are recognized as integral parts of the Personality of Godhead. They are like the
network of light that shines forth from the dense mass of light called the sun.
Parāśara and other saintly authorities are of the opinion that the jīvas are small, partial
expansions of the Supreme Person. He is the ghana-tejas, the dense source of light, and they
are small particles of light spreading out from Him. Because there are so many jīvas, they
pervade the entire universe, just as the rays from the sun provide light and heat for the entire
universe, even though the sun globe is in one place, far away.
BB 2.2.184
TEXT 184
nitya-siddhās tato jīvā
bhinnā eva yathā raveḥ
aṁśavo visphuliṅgāś ca
vahner bhaṅgāś ca vāridheḥ
nitya-siddhāḥ—eternally existing; tataḥ—therefore; jīvāḥ—the finite living beings; bhinnāḥ—
different; eva—indeed; yathā—like; raveḥ—of the sun; aṁśavaḥ—the rays; visphuliṅgāḥ—
the sparks; ca—and; vahneḥ—of a fire; bhaṅgāḥ—the waves; ca—and; vāri-dheḥ—of the
In relation to the Supreme Lord, the eternally existing jīvas are distinct, like the rays of the
sun, the sparks of a fire, or the waves of an ocean.
Someone may propose that the jīvas appear distinct and many by the power of illusion, an
illusion dispelled when liberation is achieved and only pure nondifference remains. This idea
is refuted in this verse and the next. Those who acknowledge that all the Lord’s energies are
real look upon the jīvas not as illusions created by Māyā but as separated expansions of the
Supreme Brahman,. each with its own autonomous existence.
BB 2.2.185
TEXT 185
anādi-siddhayā śaktyā
mahā-yogākhyayā tasya
sadā te bheditās tataḥ
anādi—since time immemorial; siddhayā—existing; śaktyā—by the potency; cit-vilāsa—of
the Lord’s spiritual enjoyment; svarūpayā—whose essential being; mahā-yogā-ākhyayā—
called Mahāyogā; tasya—His; sadā—always; te—they; bheditāḥ—separated; tataḥ—thus.
By the Supreme Lord’s eternally existing potency called Mahāyogā, who is an aspect of His
spiritual splendor, these jīvas always stand separate from Him.
If the illusory Māyā does not create duality, then from where does it arise? It arises from the
Supreme Lord’s personal energy, who has always been acting on His behalf. By that energy
the jīvas have their separate existence, not as an illusion but in fact. Furthermore, since the
power that maintains the separate identities of the jīvas is an eternal energy of the Lord, the
jīvas themselves are also eternal. That energy is called Mahāyogā or Yogamāyā, meaning that
she can make the impossible possible, as she does when she manifests the distinction between
the whole and the parts of the indivisible Supreme. She is an expansion of the Lord’s internal
energy, and thus she is not a creator of unreality. Śrī Kṛṣṇa describes her in the Bhagavad-gītā
(7.25). Nāhaṁ prakāśaḥ sarvasya / yogamāyā-samāvṛtaḥ: “I am not manifest to everyone, for
I am covered by My Yogamāyā.”
BB 2.2.186
TEXT 186
atas tasmād abhinnās te
bhinnā api satāṁ matāḥ
muktau satyām api prāyo
bhedas tiṣṭhed ato hi saḥ
ataḥ—therefore; tasmāt—from Him; abhinnāḥ—nondifferent; te—they; bhinnāḥ—different;
liberation; satyām—occurs; api—even; prāyaḥ—as a rule; bhedaḥ—difference; tiṣṭhet—
remains; ataḥ—therefore; hi—certainly; saḥ—it.
Therefore saintly authorities consider the jīvas both different and nondifferent from the
Supreme. As a rule, even when the jīvas are liberated the difference endures.
The jīvas are nondifferent from Brahman in that they share with Him the nature of being pure
spirit—eternal, conscious, and blissful. Simultaneously, being parts of Him and having other
distinct qualities, they are different from Him. As illustrated in the examples given in Text
184, the parts of a whole, such as the rays of the sun, the sparks of fire, and the waves of an
ocean, are nondifferent from the whole because they partake of the qualities of the whole; yet
they differ from the whole by virtue of being separate, many, and diminutive. The parts and
the whole always remain separate. Thus even Śrī Śaṅkarācārya has said, muktā api līlayā
vigrahaṁ kṛtvā bhagavantaṁ bhajanti: “Even the liberated accept new bodies as their pastime
to worship the Supreme Lord.”
This idea is also consistent with statements of the Mahā-purāṇas and other scriptures. For
example, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.14.5) states:
muktānām api siddhānāṁ
su-durlabhaḥ praśāntātmā
koṭiṣv api mahā-mune
“O great sage, among many millions who are liberated and perfect in knowledge of liberation,
one may be a devotee of Lord Nārāyaṇa, or Kṛṣṇa. Such devotees, who are fully peaceful, are
extremely rare.”
If upon attaining liberation a person were to merge as one with Brahman, who would remain
to take on a new body for pastimes? Or what liberated soul would engage in bhakti as a
devotee of Lord Nārāyaṇa? Having no individual existence separate from Brahman would
disallow the liberated ātmā from doing any of this. Nor can we explain away the cited
statements by saying that they refer to persons who are jīvan-mukta, who have earned
liberation but are still living in material bodies. Such persons already have bodies and
therefore need not assume bodies for pastimes.
The Sixth Canto verse cited above states that some liberated souls worship Nārāyaṇa. The
Kārtika-māhātmya section of the Padma Purāṇa tells of an advanced sage in a human body
who merged into the Supreme Lord and then later obtained a form similar in appearance to
that of Lord Nārāyaṇa. Similarly, in a discourse about fasting on Nṛsiṁha-caturdaśī, the
Bṛhan-nṛsiṁha Purāṇa relates how a fallen brāhmaṇa and a prostitute merged into the
Supreme and then again took birth as Prahlāda Mahārāja and his wife. Many histories like
these serve as evidence that the jīva continues its individual existence after liberation. Only as
a concession does the current verse use the word prāyaḥ (“as a general rule”) to indicate that
in certain cases the Lord may, by His sweet will, allow someone to attain sāyujya, the nirvāṇa
of entering His body.
BB 2.2.187
TEXT 187
jīvānāṁ kṛṣṇa-māyayā
anādy-avidyayā tattvavismṛtyā saṁsṛtir bhramaḥ
sat-cit-ānanda—composed of eternity, knowledge, and bliss; rūpāṇām—whose real forms;
jīvānām—of the individual living beings; kṛṣṇa-māyayā—by Kṛṣṇa’s material energy;
anādi—beginningless; avidyayā—by illusion; tattva—of their true identity; vismṛtyā—by
forgetting; saṁsṛtiḥ—the cycle of birth and death; bhramaḥ—delusion.
The original forms of the jīvas are made of eternity, knowledge, and bliss, but by the
beginningless illusion of Kṛṣṇa’s Māyā the jīvas forget their true identities and wander
deluded in the cycle of birth and death.
This verse and the next answer the following doubt: If the separate individual existence of the
jīva continues even in the liberated state, what do the many lifetimes of effort for liberation
actually accomplish?
As explained here, the material energy of the Personality of Godhead Kṛṣṇa creates for the
jīvas an illusion that for all practical purposes is without beginning, an illusion that makes
them forget their essential identity as parts of Him and begin wandering in material life. It is
this deluded, aimless life that is unreal, because in truth the jīvas do not belong to the world of
birth and death.
BB 2.2.188
TEXT 188
muktau sva-tattva-jṣānena
māyāpagamato hi saḥ
nivartate ghanānandabrahmāṁśānubhavo bhavet
muktau—in liberation; sva-tattva—of one’s true identity; jṣānena—by knowledge; māyā—of
illusion; apagamataḥ—by the cessation; hi—indeed; saḥ—that (delusion); nivartate—is
eradicated; ghana-ānanda—full of bliss; brahma—of the Supreme; aṁśa—as a portion;
anubhavaḥ—realization; bhavet—there is.
When a jīva is liberated by knowledge of his true self, Māyā ceases to act on him, and his
wandering comes to an end. He then perceives himself to be full of bliss as a small portion of
the Supreme.
The jīva is liberated when he attains knowledge of his own real identity as pure spirit. The
spiritual self-knowledge one gains in the preliminary stage gives only partial spiritual
happiness, but that stage of liberation can then lead to the full self-realization of Kṛṣṇa
consciousness, in which one finds full ecstasy. Devotees of the Personality of Godhead are
superior to persons who are merely liberated, for though the devotees and the merely liberated
share the same spiritual identity as jīvas, the devotees enjoy the special happiness of bhakti in
their worship of the Lord and their realization of His lotus feet.
BB 2.2.189
TEXT 189
sva-sādhanānurūpaṁ hi
phalaṁ sarvatra sidhyati
ataḥ svarūpa-jṣānena
sādhye mokṣe ’lpakaṁ phalam
sva-sādhana—the discipline one has performed; anurūpam—according to; hi—certainly;
phalam—result; sarvatra—everywhere; sidhyati—is achieved; ataḥ—thus; svarūpa—of one’s
true identity; jṣānena—by knowledge; sādhye—in the perfection; mokṣe—liberation;
alpakam—insignificant; phalam—the result.
In all spheres of activity, the results one achieves match the discipline one has practiced. Thus
in the liberation attained by knowledge of one’s own self the result is meager.
To clarify their point, the bhakti-śāstras here introduce the general principle that results come
according to the means one employs. This rule applies to both ordinary and transcendental
life. Scissors cannot do the job of an ax. Nor can methods aimed merely at realizing the jīva
soul yield the same result as methods for realizing the Supreme Soul. The sādhana of
acquiring knowledge of the jīva soul, who is but a small part of Brahman, gives but a partial,
insignificant result in liberation because the sādhana itself is only partial.
BB 2.2.190
TEXT 190
rasa-hīnair mumukṣubhiḥ
bahudhā stūyate mokṣo
yathā dyauḥ svarga-kāmibhiḥ
saṁsāra—in the cycle of birth and death; yātanā—by the torments; udvignaiḥ—who are
disturbed; rasa—spiritual taste; hīnaiḥ—who lack; mumukṣubhiḥ—by those who aspire for
liberation; bahudhā—elaborately; stūyate—is praised; mokṣaḥ—liberation; yathā—as;
dyauḥ—heaven; svarga-kāmibhiḥ—by those who want to go to heaven.
Suffering the torments of material existence, and lacking the taste for loving exchanges in true
spiritual life, seekers of liberation profusely glorify liberation, just as persons aspiring for
heaven praise heaven.
Why do some transcendentalists describe the happiness of liberation as supreme? Because
they are frustrated with material life and they misunderstand real spiritual life. Their minds
are disturbed by the pains of birth, death, and the other torments of this world, and so they
cannot taste rasa, that special heart-melting spiritual nectar of love that pure devotees have for
the Supreme Lord. In that deprived condition, such frustrated nondevotees develop the desire
to attain liberation. They glorify liberation in many ways, but their words do nothing to make
liberation more than it actually is.
The example given here is that of persons unaware of the faults of Svargaloka, heaven, and
therefore eager to achieve it. They praise heaven profusely, citing such words as these:
yan na duḥkhena sambhinnaṁ
na ca grastam anantaram
abhilāṣopanītaṁ ca
sukhaṁ tat svarga-vāsinām
“The happiness of the residents of heaven comes just as desired, stays untainted by misery,
and is not overtaken by misery at the end.” (Vādārtha of Gadādhara Bhaṭṭa)
Sense enjoyers are unmindful that the residents of Svargaloka quarrel, that they fear losing
their positions, and that their enjoyment of heaven is temporary and tarnished by various
kinds of discomfort.
BB 2.2.191
TEXT 191
sukhasya tu parā kāṣṭhā
bhaktāv eva svato bhavet
tan-maya-śrī-padāmbhojasevināṁ sādhanocitā
sukhasya—of happiness; tu—however; parā kāṣṭhā—the highest degree; bhaktau—in
devotional service; eva—only; svataḥ—automatically; bhavet—arises; tat-maya—full of that
(happiness); śrī-pada-ambhoja—the blessed lotus feet; sevinām—for those who serve;
sādhana—to the discipline; ucitā—suitably corresponding.
But only in devotional service does the highest degree of happiness naturally arise. That
happiness is the right reward for those who practice serving the Supreme Lord’s all-blissful
lotus feet.
BB 2.2.192
TEXT 192
paramātiśaya-prāptamahattā-bodhanāya hi
parā kāṣṭheti śabdyeta
tasyānantasya nāvadhiḥ
parama—ultimate; atiśaya—the peak; prāpta—that has reached; mahattā—greatness;
bodhanāya—to make known; hi—indeed; parā kāṣṭhā—the highest degree; iti—thus;
śabdyeta—is termed; tasya—of it; anantasya—endless; na—there is no; avadhiḥ—limit.
“The highest degree” indicates greatness that has reached its ultimate peak. But in fact that
endless happiness has no limit.
The glories of devotional service are difficult to describe without straining the capacity of
words. The phrase parā kāṣṭhā (“highest degree”) implies that no higher degree exists. But the
happiness of pure devotional service never reaches a final peak. It keeps on increasing
forever. Calling it the parā kāṣṭhā of happiness is only a poetic attempt to do it justice with
words available in human language.
BB 2.2.193
TEXT 193
tat sukhaṁ vardhate ’bhīkṣṇam
anantaṁ paramaṁ mahat
na tu brahma-sukhaṁ muktau
vardhate sīmavad yataḥ
tat—that; sukham—happiness; vardhate—increases; abhīkṣṇam—constantly; anantam—
endless; paramam mahat—supremely great; na—not; tu—but; brahma-sukham—the
happiness of impersonal Brahman realization; muktau—in liberation; vardhate—increases;
sīma-vat—limited; yataḥ—because.
That happiness increases endlessly. It is limitless and supremely great. In contrast, the
happiness of Brahman found in liberation never increases, because it is limited.
The bhakti-śāstras here explicitly confirm that the happiness of bhakti increases constantly,
and to dispel any misconception that this increase may eventually come to an end, they further
qualify it as ananta, endless. At every moment, pure devotees experience bhakti-rasa as newer
and newer, sweeter and sweeter, and more and more intense. Because Brahman cannot
develop or transform in any way, the happiness of realizing Brahman is static. When
impersonalists call their brahma-sukha the parā kāṣṭhā of happiness, they mean that it has
virtually reached a peak, beyond which it can progress no further.
BB 2.2.194
TEXT 194
paramātmā para-brahma
sa eva parameśvaraḥ
ity evam eṣām aikyena
sajātīya-bhidā hatā
parama-ātmā—the Supreme Soul; para-brahma—the Supreme Brahman; saḥ—He; eva—
alone; parama-īśvaraḥ—the Supreme Lord; iti evam—this being so; eṣām—among them;
aikyena—because of the oneness; sajātīya-bhidā—difference of things belonging to the same
category; hatā—refuted.
The Supreme Lord is also the Supreme Soul and the Supreme Brahman. That these three are
one leaves no chance of sajātīya difference in the Supreme.
The Vedas are accepted as perfect authority both by impersonalists and by devotees of the
Supreme Lord. But when the Vedic Upaniṣads declare that there is no duality in the Supreme,
the personalists and the impersonalists understand this in opposite ways. For the Advaita-vādī
impersonalists, the oneness of Brahman means that all form and variety are illusion. For the
Vaiṣṇavas, however, the Supreme, although one, is full of variety. How this can be so, the
Vedas now begin to explain to Gopa-kumāra, starting with two verses discussing the absence
of difference in the Supreme. Differences can be analyzed as being of two kinds—sajātīya and
vijātīya. Similar things, like two men, will differ as individuals. This is called sajātīya-bheda,
the difference between members of the same category. Dissimilar things, like a man and a
cow, differ by vijātīya-bheda, the difference between members of separate categories.
Now, because the jīvas are manifestations of Brahman, and because in earlier verses we heard
that the jīvas are always distinct as individuals, someone may object that we here find
ourselves facing a Brahman in which there are sajātīya differences. That is, Brahman now
seems to consist of members of one category who differ from one another. But this makes no
sense, because it would contradict the very nature of Brahman, which by the definition of the
authoritative Upaniṣads is ekam (absolutely one) and advayam (allowing of no differences
Point taken. But how, as expressed by the formula ekam advayam, the Supreme is free of all
dualities—sajātīya and vijātīya—is shown in a different way, in this verse and the next.
Despite our being surrounded by a world full of apparent variety, the impersonalists construe
ekam advayam in its most strictly literal sense, saying that there are absolutely no dualities at
all. But what the Vedas actually mean by these words fits much more sensibly with our
common experience.
How Brahman is ekam—that is, free from sajātīya differences—is best understood in the
following way. The impersonal Absolute (para-brahma), the indwelling controller of the jīvas
(paramātmā), and the Supreme Personality of Godhead (parameśvara) are one Absolute Truth.
There is no difference between the three. When that Supreme Absolute, as the Personality of
Godhead, further expands into countless forms—guṇa-avatāras, līlā-avatāras, and so on—
these avatāras may seem different from one another, but in reality they are one and the same
person. In all His plenary manifestations, He never becomes any less than His full self, in
spite of external appearances. Thus any attempt to analyze the plenary expansions of Godhead
as different members of one category is doomed to fail. Brahman does, however, have
expansions of His energy in the form of the finite living beings, as discussed in the next verse.
BB 2.2.195
TEXT 195
sadā vaijātyam āptānāṁ
jīvānām api tattvataḥ
aṁśatvenāpy abhinnatvād
vijātīya-bhidā mṛtā
sadā—always; vaijātyam—nonmembership in the same category; āptānām—who achieve;
jīvānām—of the finite souls; api—however; tattvataḥ—factually; aṁśatvena—because of
being minute parts of the Supreme; api—although; abhinnatvāt—due to their nondifference;
vijātīya—of members of different categories; bhidā—the difference; mṛtā—is eliminated.
The jīvas always have their own identities, different from that of the Supreme. But they are
parts of the Supreme and cannot exist separate from Him, and this rules out the difference
called vijātīya.
This verse establishes the actual way that Brahman is advayam, free from all dualities. The
jīvas, it is true, belong to categories other than Brahman, such as the category of things that
have finite size. In that sense they are different from Brahman. But in other respects they are
nondifferent from Him: They are expansions of the same creative living force of which
Brahman’s own supreme personality consists, and they are His integral parts, naturally
sharing many of His qualities. Thus although they are individuals and eternally remain so,
they are not entirely separate from the Absolute, Brahman, the Supreme Person.
BB 2.2.196
TEXT 196
asmin hi bhedābhedākhye
siddhānte ’smat-su-sammate
yuktyāvatārite sarvaṁ
niravadyaṁ dhruvaṁ bhavet
asmin—in this; hi—indeed; bheda-abheda-ākhye—called bhedābheda, “difference and
nondifference”; siddhānte—philosophical doctrine; asmat—by us; su-sammate—completely
approved; yuktyā—by logical argument; avatārite—introduced; sarvam—everything;
niravadyam—irrefutable; dhruvam—certain; bhavet—becomes.
We fully approve of this philosophical doctrine, called bhedābheda. Indeed, when it is
presented with logical argument, everything about it is certain and irrefutable.
The scriptures dedicated solely to propounding pure devotional service agree with the concept
of bhedābheda and with its logical supporting arguments. With the help of this philosophical
framework for understanding the identities, relationships, and purposes of all things that exist,
the bhakti-śāstras faultlessly explain the path of devotional service and reconcile all possible
doubts and contradictions, both spoken and unspoken. Thus the presentation of the bhaktiśāstras is definitive (dhruvam).
The impersonalists say that since the jīvas come into being from Brahman and are again
absorbed back into Brahman they are altogether nondifferent from Brahman. But even
according to this theory the happiness of impersonal liberation is meager, because that
liberation rules out perception of the totality of Brahman. Waves do arise in one part of an
ocean and dissolve in another, on the ocean’s shore, and since the waves and the ocean consist
of the same water they are nondifferent. Yet even though the waves, when they dissolve,
again become one with the ocean in the sense that their separate existence is no longer visible,
the waves don’t have the same depth as the ocean, nor can they generate precious jewels, so
the waves and the ocean are also different.
Applying the metaphor of the ocean and the waves, one formulation of impersonalist theory
would have it that when jīvas attain liberation by merging back into the individual portions of
Brahman from which they originated they again become one with Brahman. But the bhaktiśāstras respond that because the jīvas are by their very nature separate and finite they cannot
become the undivided Supreme and enjoy all of His unlimited bliss. On the contrary, even
according to the theory, they continue to exist separately in liberation, retaining their
individuality even in union with the Supreme. This implies that although they are nondifferent
from Brahman they are also in some ways different from Him.
The scriptures accordingly describe that sometimes, by the Supreme Lord’s special mercy, a
liberated soul merged into oneness with Brahman becomes eager for the joys of bhakti and
once again assumes his distinct identity so that he can have a spiritual body with which to
serve the Lord. On this point Śrī Śaṅkarācārya-pāda has said:
saty api bhedāpagame nātha
tavāhaṁ na māmakīnas tvam
sāmudro hi taraṅgaḥ kva-
ca na samudras tāraṅgaḥ
“My Lord, even when all difference is gone, I am still Yours, though You are not mine. A
wave belongs to the ocean, but surely the ocean does not belong to the wave.” (Prārthanāṣaṭpadī 3) This statement by Ācārya Śaṅkara, expressing the basic idea of the bhedābheda
philosophy, is very much to the point. Even after the jīva’s illusory difference from the Lord
is destroyed his real difference of belonging to the Lord remains. If this were not so, there
would be no meaning to the words nātha tavāham (“Lord, I am Yours”).
The separate river waters cannot literally become the ocean, which has qualities the rivers do
not possess, like the ability to produce gems. The rivers are only said to become one with the
ocean because after they flow into the ocean their separate existence is no longer visible. But
in fact that oneness is unreal. In the same way, liberation as impersonally conceived is unreal,
for it implies that liberation equals nonexistence, like that of an extinguished flame. Again, if
the liberated self has become completely one with Brahman, he has no scope for happiness,
since the liberated self is not supposed to keep the mind and the other faculties of individual
consciousness with which happiness could be tasted.
Even when liberated, the soul remains individual. Thus when the standard scriptures consider
the four kinds of annihilation—the constant degradation of matter, the partial destruction of
the universe at the end of Brahmā’s day, the total destruction of the universe at the end of
Brahmā’s life, and the liberation of individual souls—the scriptures distinguish between
liberation and total annihilation.
BB 2.2.197
TEXT 197
sadā pramāṇa-bhūtānām
asmākaṁ mahatāṁ tathā
vākyāni vyavahārāś ca
pramāṇaṁ khalu sarvathā
sadā—always; pramāṇa-bhūtānām—who are authoritative; asmākam—of us; mahatām—great
pramāṇam—standard evidence; khalu—certainly; sarvathā—in all situations.
We scriptures are always accepted as authoritative. Our words, and the words and behavior of
great souls, are standard evidence in all circumstances.
In the opinion of some transcendentalists, the Absolute Truth, eternally one without a second,
becomes differentiated only by the superficial covering of illusion, which makes the one
Absolute falsely appear as many jīvas. And when, by knowledge of reality, that false
appearance is stripped away, only the Absolute Truth remains, manifest alone. Thus when
illusion is dispelled—the illusion that arises when circumstantial designations make the jīvas
seem to separately exist—one attains mukti, in which one perceives, as before, the intense
bliss of one’s true identity as Brahman. And so, by this reasoning, Brahman realization does
constitute substantial happiness. In mukti, furthermore, according to this view, there is no
longer attraction to the false ego, even in its most subtle forms. Indeed, even the very person
who once relished false happiness from false ego no longer exists. Thus in mukti real
happiness is known, the happiness that comes from realizing the true identity of the self. The
proponents of devotion to the Personality of Godhead may believe that when the personal
identity of Śrī Bhagavān, the embodiment of sac-cid-ānanda, is constantly revealed they can
enjoy the most sublime and concentrated bliss, greater than that of liberation, and so they may
claim that bhakti is greater than mukti. But these beliefs are incorrect; the bliss of Brahman is
perfect and complete.
Such are the views of impersonalists. And in texts 197 through 204 the bhakti-śāstras refute
such views. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other bhakti-śāstras offer many statements in refutation
of the impersonalistic outlook. Here are but a few examples:
ātmārāmāś ca munayo
nirgranthā apy urukrame
kurvanty ahaitukīṁ bhaktim
ittham-bhūta-guṇo hariḥ
“Even those who are self-satisfied and unattracted by external, material desires are attracted to
the loving service of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, whose qualities are transcendental and whose activities are
wonderful. Hari, the Personality of Godhead, is called Kṛṣṇa because He has such
transcendentally attractive features.” (Bhāgavatam 1.7.10)
devānāṁ guṇa-liṅgānām
sattva evaika-manaso
vṛttiḥ svābhāvikī tu yā
animittā bhāgavatī
bhaktiḥ siddher garīyasī
“The senses, being symbolic representations of the demigods, are naturally inclined to work
as directed by the Vedic injunctions. And as the senses represent the demigods, so the mind
represents the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The mind’s natural duty is to serve. When
that service spirit is engaged in service to the Personality of Godhead, without any motive,
that devotional service is far better even than salvation [siddhi].” (Bhāgavatam 3.25.32)
nārāyaṇa-parāḥ sarve
na kutaścana bibhyati
api tulyārtha-darśinaḥ
“Devotees solely engaged in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead,
Nārāyaṇa, never fear any condition of life. For them the heavenly planets, liberation, and the
hellish planets are all the same, for such devotees are interested only in the service of the
Lord.” (Bhāgavatam 6.17.28)
duravagamātma-tattva-nigamāya tavātta-tanoś
na parilaṣanti kecid apavargam apīśvara te
“My Lord, some fortunate souls have gotten relief from the fatigue of material life by diving
into the vast nectar ocean of Your pastimes, which You enact when You manifest Your
personal forms to make known the unfathomable science of the self. These rare souls,
indifferent even to liberation, renounce the happiness of home and family because of
association with devotees who are like flocks of swans enjoying at the lotus of Your feet.”
(Bhāgavatam 10.87.21)
mahatāṁ madhudviṭ-sevānurakta-manasām abhavo ’pi phalguḥ
“Indeed, even liberation is insignificant for those whose minds are attracted to the loving
service of Lord Madhudviṭ.” (Bhāgavatam 5.14.44)
These authoritative statements of the Bhāgavatam and other bhakti-śāstras are supported by
thousands and thousands of recorded statements by great saintly persons. Vaiṣṇavas like Śrī
Nārada, Prahlāda, and Hanumān have expressed themselves unequivocally on this topic. For
example, in Śrī Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.49) Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī refers to this wellknown statement by Hanumān:
bhava-bandha-cchide tasmai
spṛhayāmi na muktaye
bhavān prabhur ahaṁ dāsa
iti yatra vilupyate
“Even though liberation destroys the bondage of material existence, I have no desire for
liberation in which I would forget that You are the master and I am Your servant.”
Recent authorities have spoken the same way. For example, the all-knowing commentator on
the important śrutis the paramahaṁsa Śrī Śaṅkarācārya Bhagavatpāda has said, muktā api
līlayā vigrahaṁ kṛtvā bhagavantaṁ bhajanti: “For pastimes, even those who are liberated
accept new bodies to worship the Supreme Lord.” This accords with the Vedānta-sūtra
(1.3.2), which says that Brahman is “approached for shelter by persons who are liberated”
(muktopasṛpya-vyapadeśāt). Śrī Śukadeva, the four Kumāras, and others like them were
attracted to narrations of the pastimes of the Personality of Godhead. And Prahlāda,
Hanumān, and others refused to accept mokṣa, even from the Lord Himself.
This evidence from scripture and the words and behavior of saintly persons is authoritative in
all circumstances (sarvathā) and at all times (sadā). It should never be dismissed as what in
Vedic terms is called artha-vāda, mere sectarian verve. The statements of the bhakti-śāstras
like Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and of great devotees like Nārada, Hanumān, and Śukadeva need no
authentication from other evidence; they are always perfect.
BB 2.2.198
TEXT 198
purā-vṛttāni santi ca
naiva saṅgacchate tasmād
tathā—furthermore; etat—these; anukūlāni—supporting faithfully; purā-vṛttāni—accounts of
past history; santi—there are; ca—and; na—not; eva—indeed; saṅgacchate—is reasonable;
tasmāt—therefore; artha-vādatva—of being exaggerated praise; kalpanā—the presumption.
And many historical accounts support these statements we have made. To presume, therefore,
that our words are merely overstated praise is certainly unreasonable.
That devotional service is vastly superior to mere liberation is not an idea one should dismiss
as artha-vāda, exaggeration, for it has been factually established by ancient histories recorded
in the Purāṇas and other scriptures. The consensus indicated by thousands of accounts from
varied sources is too strong to disregard.
One such account concerns a brāhmaṇa resident of Dvārakā whose sons had all died at birth.
Unaware that in fact they had been taken away by Lord Mahā-viṣṇu to the abode of liberation,
the brāhmaṇa complained to Kṛṣṇa, and Arjuna offered to protect the son born next. But in
spite of Arjuna’s utmost efforts, that infant mysteriously disappeared soon after birth. Bitterly
reviled by the brāhmaṇa for this failure, Arjuna was about to kill himself in shame, but Kṛṣṇa
brought him to the abode of liberation where they found the sons, whom they then brought to
Dvārakā, the abode of devotional service.
In another incident, the three sages Ekata, Dvita, and Trita went to Śvetadvīpa and made a
great effort to achieve darśana of the Personality of Godhead. But even though they were
fixed in a level of Brahman realization virtually equal to that of the four Kumāras, they were
unable to see the Lord. They were qualified for mukti but not bhakti.
The Fourth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam describes how Lord Viṣṇu visited King Pṛthu, the
incarnation of the Lord’s power of rulership. When the Lord urged the king to choose the best
benediction, Pṛthu Mahārāja extolled the Lord with excellent prayers and then said:
tvan-māyayāddhā jana īśa khaṇḍito
yad anyad āśāsta ṛtātmano ’budhaḥ
yathā cared bāla-hitaṁ pitā svayaṁ
tathā tvam evārhasi naḥ samīhitum
“My Lord, due to Your illusory energy, all living beings in this material world have forgotten
their real constitutional position, and out of ignorance they always desire the material
happiness of society, friendship, and love. Therefore, please do not ask me to take some
material benefits from You. Rather, as a father, not waiting for the son’s demand, does
everything for the benefit of the son, please bestow upon me whatever You think best.” The
narration continues:
ity ādi-rājena nutaḥ sa viśva-dṛk
tam āha rājan mayi bhaktir astu te
diṣṭyedṛśī dhīr mayi te kṛtā yayā
māyāṁ madīyāṁ tarati sma dustyajām
“After hearing Pṛthu Mahārāja’s prayer, the Lord, the seer of the universe, said to the king:
‘My dear king, may you always be blessed by engaging in My devotional service. As you
yourself very intelligently express, only by such purity of purpose can one cross over the
insurmountable illusory energy of Māyā.’” (Bhāgavatam 4.20.31–32)
BB 2.2.199
TEXT 199
athāpy ācaryamāṇā sā
nāstikatvaṁ vitanvatī
kṣipet kalpayitāraṁ taṁ
dustare narakotkare
atha api—nonetheless; ācaryamāṇā—being carried out in action; sā—that (presumption);
nāstikatvam—faithlessness; vitanvatī—expanding; kṣipet—will cast; kalpayitāram—the
theorizer; tam—him; dustare—insurmountable; naraka—of hells; utkare—into a long series.
If a theory-maker acts with such a presumption nonetheless, it will fill him with atheistic
delusions and cast him into hells, one after another, from which he will not be able to escape.
If one refuses to take seriously the words and behavior of elevated persons and one acts as if
the glories of devotional service were mere exaggerations, he will become an atheist. He will
lose faith in the authority of the Vedic śāstras, become more and more proud of his own
scholarship, and concoct theories about artha-vāda that will earn him hellish punishments
from which he will long be unable to escape. As the Nārada Purāṇa warns:
purāṇeṣu dvija-śreṣṭhāḥ
pravadanty artha-vādatvaṁ
ye te naraka-bhājanāḥ
“O best of brāhmaṇas, the Purāṇas authoritatively teach all aspects of religious life. Those
who say that these Purāṇic teachings are mere artha-vāda are sure to suffer in hell.”
Such statements are meant to tell proud logicians they must give up their groundless, arrogant
theories and accept that devotional service to the Supreme Lord is even greater than
liberation. Speculators who refuse will fall into the punishments of hell. The philosophy they
should accept has been set forth above, in texts 178 through 181.
To attain liberation by the practices set forth in Vedic scriptures may take many lifetimes.
Most so-called transcendentalists who aim at liberation encounter nothing but frustration.
Therefore, one should understand the endeavor for impersonal liberation to be fruitlessness
and put it aside.
BB 2.2.200
TEXT 200
aho ślāghyaḥ kathaṁ mokṣo
daityānām api dṛśyate
tair eva śāstrair nindyante
ye go-viprādi-ghātinaḥ
aho—oh; ślāghyaḥ—praiseworthy; katham—why; mokṣaḥ—liberation; daityānām—of
demons; api—even; dṛśyate—it is seen; taiḥ—by those; eva—same; śāstraiḥ—scriptures;
nindyante—are condemned; ye—who; go-vipra-ādi—of cows, brāhmaṇas and others;
Indeed, how can the scriptures glorify liberation, the liberation outright demons are seen to
achieve, demons those same scriptures condemn, killers even of cows and brāhmaṇas?
Here is another easily understood argument. Since we see from scriptural histories that
demons like Kaṁsa and Aghāsura achieved liberation, persons of the opposite nature should
not aspire for it. Even scriptures that promote liberation condemn demons who kill cows and
brāhmaṇas and who blaspheme the Vedas and Vedic sacrifices. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.4.40)
portrays this demonic mentality in the advice of King Kaṁsa’s ministers:
tasmāt sarvātmanā rājan
brāhmaṇān brahma-vādinaḥ
tapasvino yajṣa-śīlān
gāś ca hanmo havir-dughāḥ
“O king, we your adherents in all respects shall therefore kill the Vedic brāhmaṇas, the
persons engaged in offering sacrifices and austerities, and the cows that supply milk, which
gives clarified butter for sacrifice.”
Demons perform many such atrocities. Therefore the destination they attain should also be
considered abominable.
BB 2.2.210
TEXT 201
sarvathā pratiyogitvaṁ
yat sādhutvāsuratvayoḥ
tat sādhaneṣu sādhye ca
vaiparītyaṁ kilocitam
sarvathā—in all respects; pratiyogitvam—contrariness; yat—which; sādhutva—of being
saintly; asuratvayoḥ—and of being a demon; tat—that; sādhaneṣu—in the disciplines;
sādhye—in the goal; ca—and; vaiparītyam—opposite nature; kila—indeed; ucitam—
Saints and demons are in all respects opposite in nature. It is therefore only fitting that they be
opposite in their disciplines and goals.
In personal character and behavior, devotees of the Supreme Lord completely differ from His
enemies. And so the goal of their lives and the disciplines they practice to achieve that goal
also completely differ. Devotees practice worshiping the Personality of Godhead and
meditating on His lotus feet, and demons practice just the opposite—they cultivate the
understanding that their own self is one with the Supreme. The goal of the devotees is premabhakti; the goal of the demons, mukti.
Granted, the bhakti-śāstras sometimes equate devotional service and hatred of the Lord
because they both give spiritual results. For example, we find in the Tenth Canto of ŚrīmadBhāgavatam (10.87.23):
nibhṛta-marun-mano-’kṣa-dṛḍha-yoga-yujo hṛdi yan
munaya upāsate tad arayo ’pi yayuḥ smaraṇāt
striya uragendra-bhoga-bhuja-daṇḍa-viṣakta-dhiyo
vayam api te samāḥ sama-dṛśo ’ṅghri-saroja-sudhāḥ
“Simply by always thinking of the Lord, His enemies attained the same Supreme Truth whom
sages worship, fixed in yoga, by controlling their breath, mind, and senses. Similarly, we
śrutis, who generally see You as all-pervading, will achieve from Your lotus feet the same
nectar Your consorts relish by their loving attraction to Your mighty serpentine arms, for You
look upon us and Your consorts in the same way.” And in the Seventh Canto [SB 7.1.30]
Nārada Muni says:
kāmād dveṣād bhayāt snehād yathā bhaktyeśvare manaḥ
āveśya tad-aghaṁ hitvā bahavas tad-gatiṁ gatāḥ
“Whether by lust, enmity, fear, affection, or devotional service, many, many persons have
attained liberation simply by thinking of Kṛṣṇa with great attention and giving up sinful acts.”
The real message of these verses, however, is that loving the Supreme Lord and hating Him
are equal only in the sense that they both release one from the material cycle of birth and
death and they both demonstrate the potency of remembering the Supreme Lord, seeing Him,
and receiving His mercy.
At one point in the Seventh Canto (7.1.27) Nārada even seems to glorify hatred of the Lord:
yathā vairānubandhenar
martyas tan-mayatām iyātna tathā bhakti-yogena
iti me niścitā matiḥ
“By devotional service one cannot achieve such intense absorption in thought of the Supreme
Personality of Godhead as one can through enmity toward Him. That is my opinion.”
According to Sanātana Gosvāmī, however, this is just Nārada’s clever way of expressing the
natural satisfaction he feels in the devotional service of the Lord and the depth and boldness
of his pure love for the Lord. Otherwise how could he have spoken thus in the royal assembly
of a great Vaiṣṇava like Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja and in the presence of Śrī Kṛṣṇadeva, the
supreme teacher and eager connoisseur of the rasas of devotional service?
Another explanation of Nārada’s peculiar praise of hatred toward the Supreme Lord is that he
is subtly ridiculing the impersonal liberation of sāyujya, merging into the existence of the
Supreme. What he is actually saying, then, is that by being inimical to the Lord one achieves
only the worthless state of becoming one with the Lord (tan-mayatā).
BB 2.2.202
TEXT 202
kṛṣṇa-bhaktyaiva sādhutvaṁ
sādhanaṁ paramaṁ hi sā
tayā sādhyaṁ tad-aṅghry-abjayugalaṁ paramaṁ phalam
kṛṣṇa-bhaktyā—by devotion to Kṛṣṇa; eva—only; sādhutvam—sainthood; sādhanam—the
discipline; paramam—highest; hi—certainly; sā—it; tayā—by it; sādhyam—the goal; tat—
His; aṅghri-abja—of lotus feet; yugalam—the pair; paramam—the highest; phalam—goal.
One becomes saintly only by devotion to Kṛṣṇa. That is the highest means of spiritual
attainment, and it brings one to the highest goal—Lord Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet.
Persons who adhere to prescribed ritual duties and those who cultivate Vedic knowledge may
be considered serious spiritual practitioners by the general public, but confidential devotees
know that only devotional service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa is fully spiritual and that all other practices are
only of relative value. Thus the real sādhus are Kṛṣṇa’s pure devotees. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam
(9.4.63, 68), after Durvāsā Muni suffers embarrassment in his encounter with the great
devotee Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, Lord Viṣṇu Himself says to Durvāsā:
ahaṁ bhakta-parādhīnor
hy asvatantra iva dvija
sādhubhir grasta-hṛdayor
bhaktair bhakta-jana-priyaḥ
“I am completely under the control of My devotees. Indeed, I am not at all independent.
Because My devotees are completely devoid of material desires, I sit only within the cores of
their hearts. What to speak of My devotees, even the devotees of My devotees are very dear to
sādhavo hṛdayaṁ mahyaṁ
sādhūnāṁ hṛdayaṁ tv aham
mad-anyat te na jānanti
nāhaṁ tebhyo manāg api
“The pure devotee is always within the core of My heart, and I am always in the heart of the
pure devotee. My devotees do not know anyone but Me, and I do not know anyone but them.”
Devotional service to Kṛṣṇa is the best spiritual practice because it leads to the attainment of
Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet. Other practices, like karma, jṣāna, and vairāgya, are of value only when
they play a subordinate role by helping one develop pure bhakti. Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet are the
supreme goal of life, unequaled by any other achievement, including realization of Brahman.
BB 2.2.203
TEXT 203
tad-bhakti-rasikānāṁ tu
mahatāṁ tattva-vedinām
sādhyā tac-caraṇāmbhojamakarandātmikaiva sā
tat—His; bhakti—for the pure devotional service; rasikānām—of those who have a real taste;
tu—but; mahatām—who are great souls; tattva-vedinām—and who have systematic
knowledge of the truth; sādhyā—the goal; tat—His; caraṇa-ambhoja—at the lotus feet;
makaranda—the nectar; ātmikā—consisting of; eva—only; sā—it (bhakti).
And for those great souls who know the truth and have a taste for the nectar of pure
devotional service, that nectar of serving at Lord Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet is itself the goal.
Although one may easily understand that devotional service is greater than impersonal
liberation and is therefore the ultimate goal of life, one might still ask how it can also be the
means (sādhana) to attain that goal. This verse points out that the intimate devotees of Kṛṣṇa
enjoy the taste of transcendental rasas, loving exchanges, which are described as fragrant,
cool honey exuding from His lotus feet. The rare souls who are greedy to taste such rasas
know a pleasure far superior to any other. Even the ecstasy derived from seeing the Supreme
Lord in person seems pale compared to the ecstasy of serving Him in one’s eternal
relationship with Him. This will be explained more elaborately later on in Śrī Bṛhadbhāgavatāmṛta.
Those who aspire to realize the impersonal Brahman may achieve realization in various ways.
They may become ātmārāma (joyful in the self) and jīvan-mukta (liberated even within this
life). Nonetheless, even the most perfect impersonalist actually knows only the cessation of
material pain. But Vaiṣṇava devotees, whether they have attained Vaikuṇṭha or still live in
material bodies, by the mercy of the Lord enjoy the most intense and positive spiritual
BB 2.2.204
TEXT 204
sā karma-jṣāna-vairāgyāpekṣakasya na sidhyati
paraṁ śrī-kṛṣṇa-kṛpayā
tan-mātrāpekṣakasya hi
sā—that (goal of life); karma—on fruitive work; jṣāna—knowledge; vairāgya—and
renunciation; apekṣakasya—for one who depends; na sidhyati—is not achieved; param—
only; śrī-kṛṣṇa—of Śrī Kṛṣṇa; kṛpayā—by the mercy; tat—on that (devotional service);
mātra—only; apekṣakasya—for one who depends; hi—indeed.
By one who cares for knowledge, renunciation, or material success, that goal cannot be
achieved. It is only for one who by Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s mercy depends on Kṛṣṇa’s devotional service
and nothing else.
To further clarify how to achieve pure devotional service, in this verse the bhakti-śāstras say
that devotees of the Lord are uninterested in karma, jṣāna, vairāgya, and other methods of
advancement. Karma here means acting according to one’s prescribed duty, jṣāna means
understanding the difference between spirit and matter (ātmā and anātmā), and vairāgya
means aloofness from sense gratification and other material attractions. A person who relies
on karma, jṣāna, vairāgya, or any other such method cannot achieve bhakti, because bhakti is
achieved only by Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s mercy.
But then, since Śrī Kṛṣṇa is naturally compassionate to every soul, why doesn’t everyone
obtain pure devotional service? The bhakti-śāstras answer that the special mercy of devotional
service acts only when a candidate has no interest in karma, jṣāna, or anything other than
bhakti. Only such a person will be receptive to Kṛṣṇa’s special mercy. As Lord Brahmā says
in the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.8):
tat te ’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo
bhuṣjāna evātma-kṛtaṁ vipākam
hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jīveta yo mukti-pade sa dāya-bhāk
“My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him,
and all the while patiently suffers the reactions of his past misdeeds, offering You respectful
obeisances with his body, words, and heart, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become
his rightful claim.”
In this verse the phrase mukti-pade, which tells the goal for which one is eligible, should be
correctly understood. The phrase can be explained in several ways. In one sense it indicates
the place (pada) where the highest ecstasy is manifest, namely Śrī Vaikuṇṭha. In another sense
pada means “fruit,” so mukti-pada means the ultimate fruit of liberation—in other words, pure
devotional service. In yet another sense, pada means “feet,” so mukti-pada means “that which
has liberation at its feet”—again, the path of devotional practice, because bhakti conquers and
subjugates mukti. And in still another sense, according to an established convention, the idea
of mukti, cessation of material existence, should be understood to refer directly to bhakti
itself. Following this last meaning, the word apavarga—synonymous with mukti—is used as
follows in the Fifth Canto of the Bhāgavatam (5.19.19–20):
…apavargaś ca bhavati. yo ’sau bhagavati sarva-bhūtātmany anātmye ’nirukte ’nilayane
paramātmani vāsudeve ’nanya-nimitta-bhakti-yoga-lakṣaṇo nānā-gati-nimittāvidyā-granthirandhana-dvāreṇa yadā hi mahā-puruṣa-puruṣa-prasaṅgaḥ.
“One may also achieve apavarga. After many, many births, when the results of one’s pious
activities mature, one gets an opportunity to associate with pure devotees. Then one is able to
cut the knot of bondage to ignorance, which bound him because of varied fruitive activities.
As a result of associating with devotees, one gradually renders service to Lord Vāsudeva, who
is transcendental, free from attachment to the material world, beyond the mind and words, and
independent of everything else. That devotional service to Lord Vāsudeva (bhakti-yoga) is the
real path of liberation.” Lord Vāsudeva is anātmya (devoid of the attachment and other faults
that arise in the conditioned self). He is also anirukta (beyond the scope of words) and
anilayana (independent of any other shelter). Pure devotion for Him without ulterior motives
is true mukti.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.20.35) Lord Kṛṣṇa confirms in His own words that renunciation of
material motives is a prerequisite for bhakti:
nairapekṣyaṁ paraṁ prāhur
niḥśreyasam analpakam
tasmān nirāśiṣo bhaktir
nirapekṣasya me bhavet
“Complete detachment, it is said, is the highest stage of liberation. Therefore, one who is
detached and does not pursue personal rewards can achieve loving devotional service unto
Me.” Here Kṛṣṇa indicates that the highest goal, or the only real goal of life, is indifference to
sense gratification and everything else material. Or, to put it another way, the highest good
can be achieved by the person who becomes indifferent to material things. That highest good
is called liberation. But a person who is completely detached is indifferent even to liberation
and the means of achieving it—knowledge, detachment, and so on. Therefore, such a person
can achieve pure devotional service to Kṛṣṇa.
In Śrī Viṣṇu Purāṇa (3.8.9), Aurva Ṛṣi tells King Sagara:
puruṣeṇa paraḥ pumān
viṣṇur ārādhyate panthār
nānyat tat-toṣa-kāraṇam
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Viṣṇu, is worshiped by the proper execution of
prescribed duties in the system of varṇa and āśrama. There is no other way to satisfy the
Lord.” One who adheres to this varṇāśrama-dharma does not cease from all activity, thinking
his life’s work complete. Yet he does nothing else (nānyat) than worship Lord Viṣṇu.
This statement from the Viṣṇu Purāṇa clearly implies that worship of Lord Viṣṇu is the
summit of all varṇāśrama duties. Other than worship of Lord Viṣṇu, no path (panthāḥ)—
neither karma, nor jṣāna, nor any other process—is a cause of the Lord’s satisfaction (tat-toṣakāraṇam). These other methods have no independent power to satisfy Lord Viṣṇu. Therefore
unless they are engaged in the service of bhakti they are useless.
Nevertheless, the Lord enjoins that varṇāśrama duties should not be given up:
śruti-smṛtī mamaivājṣer
yas te ullaṅghya vartate
ājṣā-cchedī mama drohīr
mad-bhakto ’pi na vaiṣṇavaḥ
“The śruti and smṛti comprise My orders. If someone violates these scriptures, he breaks My
commands and thus becomes My opponent. Even if he professes to be My devotee he is not a
The Lord says this because performing varṇāśrama duties can help one progress toward the
path of devotional service. At least in the lower stages of spiritual development, one should
not abandon one’s prescribed duties. The duties of varṇāśrama must be maintained, especially
by persons who are on the pravṛtti-mārga, the path of material development, and who lack
faith in the transcendental process of bhakti.
The Supreme Lord makes statements like these to encourage people to adhere strictly to their
prescribed religious duties. However, many other statements throughout the revealed
scriptures also say that the scope of obligatory material duties is limited. Such duties, limited
also in their benefits, may be ignored without harm when they conflict with more important
spiritual responsibilities. Thus devotees dedicated to the path of bhakti are not considered
fallen if they fail to carry out some of their karmic commitments. As declared by the
Personality of Godhead in Śrī Padma Purāṇa:
mat-karma kurvatāṁ puṁsāṁ
kriyā-lopo bhaved yadi
teṣāṁ karmāṇi kurvanti
tisraḥ koṭyo maharṣayaḥ
“If persons doing My work fail to execute some other karmic duties, thirty million exalted
sages carry out those commitments on their behalf.” Similarly, in the same Purāṇa, Devadyuti
yasmin jṣāte na kurvanti
karma caiva śrutīritam
nireṣaṇā jagan-mitrāḥ
śuddhaṁ brahma namāmi tam
“Persons who know this pure Supreme cease performing the duties enjoined by the śrutis, lose
all ambitions, and become friends of the whole world. To Him I bow down.”
If devotees abandon their karmic duties merely by learning theoretically about the Supreme
Lord, what then of those who take full shelter of Him and engage in His personal service?
Thus Lord Kṛṣṇa says in the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.20.9):
tāvat karmāṇi kurvīta
na nirvidyeta yāvatā
mat-kathā-śravaṇādau vā
śraddhā yāvan na jāyate
“As long as one is not satiated by fruitive activity and has not awakened his taste for the
methods of devotional service, such as hearing topics about Me, one has to act according to
the regulative principles of the Vedic injunctions.” This implies that one who does develop a
taste for devotional service is no longer bound to the Vedic regulations for mundane karmic
life. As expressed here by the emphatic word vā, devotees attracted to hearing and chanting
about the Supreme Lord are not interested in anything else.
mahāntas te sama-cittāḥ praśāntā
vimanyavaḥ suhṛdaḥ sādhavo ye
“The mahātmās are equipoised. They see no difference between one living entity and another.
They are very peaceful, fully engaged in devotional service, devoid of anger, and friendly to
all. They do not behave in any abominable way.
ye vā mayīśe kṛta-sauhṛdārthā
janeṣu dehambhara-vārtikeṣu
gṛheṣu jāyātmaja-rāti-matsu
na prīti-yuktā yāvad-arthāś ca loke
“Concerned only with reviving Kṛṣṇa consciousness and increasing their love of Godhead,
they do not like to do anything unrelated to Kṛṣṇa. They are not interested in mingling with
people who are busy maintaining their bodies, eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. They
are not attached to their homes, although they may be householders. Nor are they attached to
wives, children, friends, or wealth. Yet they are not indifferent to the execution of their duties.
Such people collect only enough money to keep the body and soul together.” (Bhāgavatam
Vaiṣṇavas are free from the good and bad karmic reactions to obeying or violating the Vedic
na mayy ekānta-bhaktānāṁ
guṇa-doṣodbhavā guṇāḥ
sādhūnāṁ sama-cittānāṁ
buddheḥ param upeyuṣām
“Material piety and sin, which arise from the good and evil of this world, cannot exist within
My unalloyed devotees. Such devotees, free from material hankering, maintain steady
spiritual consciousness in all circumstances, for they have achieved Me, the Supreme Lord,
who am beyond anything that can be conceived by material intelligence.” (Bhāgavatam
In the Padma Purāṇa (Uttara 71.100), Lord Śiva has summed up the essence of all Vedic
duties in these famous words:
smartavyaḥ satataṁ viṣṇur
vismartavyo na jātu cit
sarve vidhi-niṣedhāḥ syur
etayor api kiṅkarāḥ
“Lord Viṣṇu should always be remembered and never forgotten. All injunctions and
prohibitions are servants of these two rules.” When one remembers Lord Viṣṇu one has
fulfilled all Vedic injunctions, because remembering Him awakens all auspiciousness. And
when one forgets Him one has violated all prohibitions, because all sins are born from that
forgetfulness. Thus, rather than strive for anything else, everyone should endeavor to follow
these two rules.
BB 2.2.205
TEXT 205
karma vikṣepakaṁ tasyā
vairāgyaṁ rasa-śoṣakam
jṣānaṁ hāni-karaṁ tat tac
chodhitaṁ tv anuyāti tām
karma—ritual duties; vikṣepakam—a distraction; tasyāḥ—to that (devotional service);
vairāgyam—renunciation; rasa—the transcendental taste; śoṣakam—causing to dry up;
jṣānam—knowledge; hāni-karam—harmful; tat tat—each of these; śodhitam—rectified; tu—
but; anuyāti—faithfully serves; tām—her.
Ritual duties distract one from devotional service, renunciation dries up one’s transcendental
taste for her, and knowledge can do her harm. But these three, when purified, faithfully serve
Serious Vaiṣṇavas should give up whatever does not serve the purpose of pure devotional
service. The karma-kāṇḍa injunctions of the Vedas obscure the path of devotion with
hundreds of obligatory rituals, and practicing detachment from all worldly things dries up the
attractive taste of devotional practice. The indifference recommended in devotional service,
however, is distinct from the renunciation undertaken by impersonalists, because devotional
renunciation selectively turns away only those things that cannot be used in the Lord’s
service. This is described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.2.42). Bhaktiḥ pareśānubhavo viraktir/
anyatra caiṣa trika eka-kālaḥ: “Devotion, direct experience of the Supreme Lord, and
detachment from other things—these three occur simultaneously for one who has taken
shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” The pursuit of knowledge weakens bhakti
because realizing such truths as the divine nature of the self gives one a feeling of selfsatisfaction that quells the strong urge needed to enter the Supreme Lord’s service.
Thus the transcendental Lord has said in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.20.31–33):
tasmān mad-bhakti-yuktasya
yogino vai mad-ātmanaḥ
na jṣānaṁ na ca vairāgyaṁ
prāyaḥ śreyo bhaved iha
yat karmabhir yat tapasā
jṣāna-vairāgyataś ca yat
yogena dāna-dharmeṇa
śreyobhir itarair api
sarvaṁ mad-bhakti-yogena
mad-bhakto labhate ’ṣjasā
svargāpavargaṁ mad-dhāma
kathaṣcid yadi vāṣchati
“And so, for a devotee engaged in My loving service, with mind fixed on Me, the cultivation
of knowledge and renunciation is generally not the means of achieving the highest perfection
within this world. Whatever can be achieved by fruitive activities, or penance, or knowledge,
or detachment, mystic yoga, charity, religious duties, or other means of perfecting life—all
this My devotee easily achieves through loving service unto Me. If somehow My devotee
desires promotion to heaven, or liberation, or residence in My abode, he easily achieves such
In the first of these verses from the Eleventh Canto, the word prāyaḥ (“for the most part”)
indicates that duties, knowledge, and detachment may sometimes help to some extent. Thus
the bhakti-śāstras here state that karma, jṣāna, and vairāgya may be useful if subordinate to
the purpose of bhakti. Purified of their faults, they can serve devotional service, especially as
initial aids to devotional practice. As stated in the Yoga-vāsiṣṭha-rāmāyaṇa:
narāṇāṁ kṣīṇa-pāpānāṁ
kṛṣṇe bhaktiḥ prajāyate
“Devotion to Kṛṣṇa arises in persons whose sinful reactions have been diminished by
austerities, charity, and meditation performed in thousands of consecutive births.” When
karma, vairāgya, and jṣāna are suitably purified, they can each assist in preparing a spiritual
aspirant for the practice of bhakti. Thus karma purified of desire for the fruits of endeavor
becomes work done only for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord; vairāgya, developed to the
stage of indifference to liberation, becomes a stimulant for the eagerness to serve the Lord;
and jṣāna, freed from the conception of total oneness, becomes transformed into
contemplation of oneself as belonging to the Lord and into meditation on the glories of
devotional service.
BB 2.2.206
TEXT 206
ātmārāmāś ca bhagavatkṛpayā bhakta-saṅgataḥ
santyajya brahma-niṣṭhatvaṁ
bhakti-mārgaṁ viśanty ataḥ
ātma-ārāmāḥ—self-satisfied sages; ca—and; bhagavat—of the Personality of Godhead;
kṛpayā—by the mercy; bhakta—of His devotees; saṅgataḥ—by the association; santyajya—
giving up; brahma—to impersonalism; niṣṭhatvam—attachment; bhakti—of devotional
service; mārgam—the path; viśanti—they enter; ataḥ—then.
By the mercy of the Personality of Godhead and by company with His devotees, sages who
take pleasure in the self can give up their attachment to the impersonal Supreme and enter the
path of devotional service.
Because bhakti is vastly superior to mukti, impersonalists who have actually realized the
Lord’s Brahman feature sometimes give up their meditation on the formless to engage in
devotional service. In a prayer to Lord Kṛṣṇa in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.29.3) Śrī Uddhava
confirms that the swanlike men who are already liberated can make further progress by
entering the path of devotional service:
athāta ānanda-dughaṁ padāmbujaṁ
haṁsāḥ śrayerann aravinda-locana
sukhaṁ nu viśveśvara yoga-karmabhis
tvan-māyayāmī vihatā na māninaḥ
“Therefore, O lotus-eyed Lord of the universe, swanlike men happily take shelter of Your
lotus feet, the source of all transcendental ecstasy. But men who take pride in their
accomplishments in yoga and karma fail to take shelter of You and are defeated by Your
illusory energy.”
How can impersonalists be elevated to the Lord’s devotional service? Only by the mercy of
the Lord. Because the Personality of Godhead is eager to display the greatness of His
devotees and His devotional service, He sometimes blesses self-contented impersonalists by
arranging opportunities for them to associate favorably with His devotees. Then the
impersonalists, their discrimination refined by the influence of the devotees, can recognize
just how insignificant is liberation. They then give up their hopes for liberation, give up all the
trouble it entails, become attracted to the Supreme Lord’s glories, and enter the path of bhakti
to serve the Lord in various ways.
BB 2.2.207
TEXT 207
muktāś cāsya tayā śaktyā
prāpitās te bhajante taṁ
tādṛśaiḥ karaṇair harim
muktāḥ—liberated souls; ca—and; asya—His; tayā—by that; śaktyā—potency; sat-citānanda—of eternity, knowledge and bliss; dehitām—possession of bodies; prāpitāḥ—
attaining; te—they; bhajante—worship; tam—Him; tādṛśaiḥ—with such; karaṇaiḥ—senses;
harim—Lord Hari.
The Lord’s personal energy grants those liberated souls spiritual bodies of eternity,
knowledge, and bliss. And with the spiritual senses thus acquired, those souls worship Lord
Impersonalists who are jīvan-mukta, liberated even in this life, can be elevated to devotional
service because they are still living in material bodies. But what of those who have attained
complete liberation and no longer have material bodies? Without a body and senses, how is it
possible to serve the Supreme Lord by the devotional methods like hearing, chanting,
worshiping, and offering prayers?
To clear this doubt, the bhakti-śāstras here indicate that even the liberated souls who have
“merged” into Brahman continue to exist as individual persons, even though they may be
called mukta and siddha. Using these two words, Mahārāja Parīkṣit states in the Sixth Canto
of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.14.5):
muktānām api siddhānāṁ
su-durlabhaḥ praśāntātmā
koṭiṣv api mahā-mune
“O great sage, among many millions who are liberated and perfect in knowledge of liberation,
one may be a devotee of Lord Nārāyaṇa, or Kṛṣṇa. Such devotees, who are fully peaceful, are
extremely rare.” Impersonalists generally imagine themselves perfect and liberated, and
among them a very few may actually attain impersonal liberation. But those rare souls, like all
others, are eternal servants of Hari, the all-attractive Lord. Out of millions of such rare
liberated impersonalists, one very fortunate soul may realize this natural fact. Since
intelligence is dormant in the “merged” soul, it can be reawakened. Even the liberated souls
who have merged into the formless divine light of the spiritual sky retain their eternal spiritual
bodies, complete with spiritual mind and senses. Nothing, even liberation, can ever deprive a
jīva of these assets. Thus when a liberated soul gains the favor of the Supreme Lord’s
personal energy, his spiritual body and senses are reawakened for hearing and chanting the
glories of Lord Hari and acting in other ways for the Lord’s pleasure.
BB 2.2.208
TEXT 208
svārāmatā tv ahaṅkāratyāga-mātreṇa sidhyati
su-karo ’tīva tat-tyāgo
matas tat-tattva-vedibhiḥ
sva-ārāmatā—the state of satisfaction in the self; tu—but; ahaṅkāra—of false ego; tyāga—by
the abandonment; mātreṇa—merely; sidhyati—is achieved; su-karaḥ—easy to do; atīva—
very; tat—of that (false ego); tyāgaḥ—abandonment; mataḥ—is considered; tat—about Him;
tattva—the scientific truth; vedibhiḥ—by those who understand.
One can attain the state of satisfaction in the self merely by abandoning false ego. Those who
understand the Supreme Lord in scientific truth think this very easy to do.
According to the impersonalists, the satisfaction found in realizing one’s identity with the
Supreme is the final goal of existence. Vaiṣṇavas are naive, the impersonalists think, to insist
that devotion to the personal aspect of the Supreme is a higher goal than the perfect
satisfaction of the self. The impersonalists, therefore, criticize the Vaiṣṇavas as follows: “You
devotees of Bhagavān believe that one cannot achieve anything of spiritual worth unless one
has performed at least a little devotional service to the Supreme Lord. In your view, unless
one first earns some devotional credits one cannot obtain even the material opulences found
on the various planets up to Brahmaloka, what to speak of ultimately realizing Brahman and
becoming fully satisfied in the self.
“How, then, can one possibly attain the satisfaction of the self? If you say ‘By having first
performed some devotional service,’ you contradict yourselves, because that would render
meaningless the scriptural statement you have cited—‘Even liberated sages become devotees
and perform devotional service.’ One cannot start in the future something one has already
“One feasible explanation of that statement is that even if by performing some devotional
service one has achieved the ultimate goal of life—the satisfaction of the self—attraction to
devotional service may still persist, just as subtle remnants of desire for sense gratification
may persist for some time even after one has earned liberation. Even though a liberated
person has nothing more to achieve, he may still like to continue doing devotional service
simply because he is attracted to the Supreme Lord’s personal qualities. The persistent urge
for reciprocation with a personal Lord is the only reason for such behavior. Eventually this
devotional conditioning will also subside, and the fully matured soul will finally realize
himself to be absolutely one with the Supreme.
“You Vaiṣṇavas certainly place great faith in the attractive power of a personal God and His
qualities. According to your Vaiṣṇava doctrine, liberation is only a minor by-product of
devotional service, whose main result is the attainment of love for the Supreme Lord’s lotus
feet. So you imagine that by the supposed mercy of the Personality of Godhead and the good
association of His devotees, even after one has achieved the final goal of life—satisfaction in
the self—one will decide that this goal is of little value and reject it in favor of devotional
service. But for you to acknowledge that devotional service leads to satisfaction in the self is
logically inconsistent. In this way you are negating the real importance of life’s goal.”
In texts 208 through 211 the bhakti-śāstras dispel these doubts. First they point out that one
can easily achieve satisfaction in the self merely by giving up false ego; no engagement in
devotional service is required. But how can one give up false ego without having performed
any devotional service? The bhakti-śāstras cite the opinions of authorities like Śrī Vasiṣṭha,
who know the nature of false ego. According to such authorities, abandoning false ego is
easy. The Yoga-vāsiṣṭha-rāmāyaṇa states:
api puṣpāvadalanād
api netra-nimīlanāt
su-karo ’haṅkṛti-tyāgo
matas tat-tattva-vedibhiḥ
“In the opinion of those who factually understand false ego, giving it up is easier than picking
a flower or closing one’s eyes.”
A nondevotee may ask, “Since devotional service is a type of activity and all activities are
driven by ego, how can devotional service develop after ego has been left aside?” This
question comes from a misunderstanding of the Supreme Lord’s personal energies. Just as one
of His special energies provides liberated Vaiṣṇavas with spiritual bodies, another gives them
a transcendental ego, the attitude that “I am His servant.” With this spiritual ego, pure
devotional service is easily obtained.
BB 2.2.209
TEXT 209
avāntara-phalaṁ bhakter
eva mokṣādi yady api
tathāpi nātmārāmatvaṁ
grāhyaṁ prema-virodhi yat
avāntara—intermediate; phalam—fruits; bhakteḥ—of devotional service; eva—indeed;
mokṣa-ādi—liberation and so on; yadi api—even though; tathā api—still; na—not; ātmaārāmatvam—self-satisfaction; grāhyam—worth accepting; prema—pure love of God;
virodhi—obstructing; yat—which.
Even though liberation and its effects are natural by-products of devotional service, devotees
do not regard satisfaction in the self as worth taking, for it obstructs pure love of God.
Aren’t Vaiṣṇavas also joyful in the self? Don’t they also have full knowledge and the mystic
perfections of yoga? Yes, their practices of hearing and chanting about the Lord and serving
Him bring them these benefits automatically as intermediate results, just as a fire lit for
cooking will first dispel darkness and cold. The self-delight of impersonal liberation,
however, is not recommended for devotees of the Lord; they should avoid it even though they
have it easily available. Devotees should reject anything that obstructs or slows their progress
toward pure love of God.
BB 2.2.210
TEXT 210
bhakteḥ phalaṁ paraṁ prema
avāntara-phaleṣv etad
ati-heyaṁ satāṁ matam
bhakteḥ—of devotional service; phalam—the fruit; param—ultimate; prema—pure love;
intermediate; phaleṣu—among the fruits; etat—this (self-satisfaction); ati-heyam—very
undesirable; satām—by saintly authorities; matam—considered.
The final fruit of devotional service is prema, in which, by its nature, one will never be
satiated. Saintly authorities deem self-satisfaction the most unwanted secondary fruit of
A devotee who relishes prema is never satisfied with himself but always wants to surrender
more and more for the satisfaction of his Lord. Thus experts in the science of devotional
ecstasies condemn self-satisfaction as the most harmful impediment to bhakti. Of all the
secondary fruits available to advancing Vaiṣṇavas, self-satisfaction is the one they should
most carefully avoid. There is room for only very few exceptions. For example, satisfaction in
the self may be all right for some time for a person trying to take shelter of the Supreme Lord
but unable to give up hankering for liberation. Or the offerings of self-satisfaction and other
perfections that come with the attainment of Brahman may entice an ignorant nondevotee to
begin devotional service. These perfections are in fact opulences of the Supreme Person, and
so they can attract certain kinds of persons toward Him.
BB 2.2.211
TEXT 211
bhaktiṁ vināpi tat-siddhāv
asantoṣo bhaven na tat
mate sa hi guṇo mahān
bhaktim—devotion; vinā—without; api—even; tat—of that (self-satisfaction); siddhau—in
the achievement; asantoṣaḥ—dissatisfaction; bhavet na—there need not be; tat—that; śrīmatbhāgavata—of the blessed Vaiṣṇavas; indrāṇām—of the leaders; mate—in the opinion; saḥ—
that; hi—indeed; guṇaḥ—a good quality; mahān—considerable.
There is no reason to be unhappy if someone attains self-satisfaction without devotion to the
Supreme Lord. The leaders of the saintly Vaiṣṇavas consider such an occurrence very good.
What is wrong if something so useless and contemptible as ātmārāmatā, satisfaction in the
self, arises when devotional service has not been performed? Bhakti is a precious jewel,
ātmārāmatā but a piece of straw. Wise devotees, therefore, are not bothered if satisfaction in
the self is achieved without devotional service. Compared to the magic touchstone of devotion
for the Personality of Godhead’s lotus feet, impersonal satisfaction in the self is abominable, a
cause of misery only, like life in hell. The great authorities in the science of devotional service
are pleased to see this contrast between the rare treasure of bhakti and the worthless
attainment of ātmārāmatā because it highlights the superexcellence of pure devotion. And if
someone foolishly strives for mukti but fails, that also is very good.
BB 2.2.212
TEXT 212
tad-dhetuś citta-śuddhir vā
bāhyāyās tv alpakaṁ bhakter
āntaryāḥ su-mahat phalaṁ
tat—of that (self-satisfaction); hetuḥ—the cause; citta—of the heart; śuddhiḥ—purification;
vā—or; sva-dharma—one’s prescribed duties; ācāra—of executing; bhaktitaḥ—from the
devotional service; bāhyāyāḥ—external; tu—but; alpakam—insignificant; bhakteḥ—from
devotional service; āntaryāḥ—from the internal; su-mahat—greatest; phalam—the result.
Or, from another point of view: Purity of heart, which is the cause of satisfaction in the self,
may come about from performing one’s prescribed duties—and this, after all, is a kind of
devotional service. Thus, the result that comes from the external form of devotional service is
paltry, and from the internal form sublime.
After all this discussion, some Vaiṣṇavas may still insist on the principle that nothing at all
can be achieved without at least a touch of bhakti. To satisfy them, the bhakti-śāstras here
look at the topic from another angle, as indicated by the word vā (“or else”). The selfsatisfaction aspired for by impersonalists arises from purified consciousness, which one may
achieve by fulfilling one’s duties within the varṇāśrama system. And since performing such
duties is a type of devotional service mixed with karma, it is true that even for an
impersonalist success depends on bhakti.
In case someone objects that the fruit of devotional service cannot be satisfaction in the self
but only love of God and nothing else, the bhakti-śāstras further say that following one’s
Vedic obligations is only devotional service in an external form. As such it results in mere
self-satisfaction, whereas the essential form of devotional service—through hearing and
chanting about the Lord, remembering Him, and so on—bears the most desirable fruit, that of
BB 2.2.213
TEXT 213
bhajatāṁ tat-padāmbujam
nirvighnam acirāt sidhyed
nija—one’s own; ātma-ārāmatā—self-satisfaction; paścāt—after; bhajatām—for those who
worship; tat—His; pada-ambujam—lotus feet; nirvighnam—without obstacles; acirāt—
quickly; sidhyet—can be obtained; bhakti—in pure devotional service; niṣṭhā—of firm
conviction; mahā-sukham—the great happiness.
After achieving impersonal self-satisfaction, some begin worshiping the Lord’s lotus feet, and
without hardship they quickly obtain the abundant happiness of being fixed in devotional
Of those who achieve satisfaction in the self, a rare few somehow particularly favored by the
Supreme Lord give up their self-satisfaction to worship Him. They quickly reach the highest
perfection. Ordinary people, entangled in various miseries of material life, cannot at once
succeed in devotional practice. But self-satisfied impersonalists have already transcended the
small-minded miserable existence of material life, so they can progress to joyful bhakti
without delay. They quickly comprehend that what they knew before as the unnameable
essence of liberated life—the reality of full eternity, knowledge, and bliss—is actually the allattractive Personality of Godhead.
Some philosophers even hold that self-contented impersonalists are excellent candidates
(uttama-adhikārīs) for bhakti. Indeed, no one is disallowed from entering devotional service.
As the saying goes, gaṅgā-snāna iva bhagavad-bhaktau sarve ’py adhikāriṇaḥ: “Just as for
bathing in the Gaṅgā, everyone is a fit candidate for the Supreme Lord’s devotional service.”
Nonetheless, in the opinion of Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī and his sampradāya, no material
opulence, such as the ability to follow all the rules of varṇāśrama, can qualify one for
beginning the process of pure bhakti. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.8) Lord Brahmā confirms
that pure devotion is easily attained simply by depending on the mercy of the Supreme
Personality of Godhead (tat te ’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇaḥ). There is no other means to
attain it. By the Supreme Lord’s mercy, one who practices bhakti, depending only on Him
will surely achieve complete happiness. Devotion in practice gives birth to devotion in
BB 2.2.214
TEXT 214
tatrānubhavitā so ’nubhavanīyo ’nubhūtayaḥ
vṛttayaḥ karaṇānāṁ ca
bahudhā prasphuranti hi
tatra—in that (happiness); anubhavitā—the one who is perceiving; saḥ—he; anubhavanīyaḥ—
the one who is being perceived; anubhūtayaḥ—the perceptions; vṛttayaḥ—the functions;
karaṇānām—of the senses; ca—and; bahudhā—in various ways; prasphuranti—they manifest
themselves; hi—certainly.
In that devotional happiness, the person who is perceiving, the person perceived, the varied
perceptions, and the sensory functions that serve in those perceptions all manifest themselves
in various ways.
The bhakti-śāstras have already proven that the bliss of devotional service to the Supreme
Lord is much greater and much more sublime than the shadow of happiness found in the
meditation of self-contented impersonalists. Now the śāstras reconfirm this conclusion with
yet another logical argument. In the bliss of devotional service all components of personal
experience are vividly manifest—the devotee who is perceiving the joy of devotional service,
the Personality of Godhead who is the object of this perception, the particular exchanges
involving the two of them, and the sensory activities that foster the perceptions. The devotee
realizes, “I am the Lord’s servant,” and more specifically he identifies himself with particular
services like massaging the Lord’s lotus feet. The Lord who engages the devotee’s attention
displays many wonderfully attractive characteristics of bodily beauty, charming behavior, and
so on. The devotee’s sensory functions manifest themselves variously through hearing,
chanting, and other modes of service. And all these contributors to the devotional experience
display infinite varieties and sub-varieties. Thus the happiness of pure devotion includes
limitless variety; no other taste can equal it.
It is a poor argument to say that a devotee’s awareness of himself and his own senses impedes
his blissful awareness of the Lord’s lotus feet. A pure devotee’s self-awareness is an integral
part of his awareness of the Lord. He sees himself not as a separate being but as a person
having an intimate relationship with the Lord. There is no natural law against simultaneously
knowing the Supreme Lord and oneself, nor is self-awareness obscured by awareness of the
Supreme. Consciousness of one’s subordinate role as the Lord’s servant is perfectly consistent
with awareness of the Lord and His all-attractive qualities. If a person in God consciousness
were oblivious of his own existence, he might as well no longer exist at all, just as a jewel one
has completely forgotten might as well not be on one’s neck. Therefore, in describing selfrealization, the authorized scriptures the authorized scriptures constantly use such words as
anubhūti (“perception”), as in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.12.11): itthaṁ satāṁ brahmasukhānubhūtyā.
BB 2.2.215
TEXT 215
paraṁ samādhau sukham ekam asphuṭaṁ
vṛtter abhāvān manaso na cātatam
vṛttau sphurad vastu tad eva bhāsate
’dhikaṁ yathaiva sphaṭikācale mahaḥ
param—plain; samādhau—in samādhi; sukham—the happiness; ekam—isolated; asphuṭam—
vague; vṛtteḥ—of the functions; abhāvāt—because of the absence; manasaḥ—of the mind;
na—not; ca—and; ātatam—extensive; vṛttau—in the active functions; sphurat—manifest;
vastu—object; tat—that; eva—indeed; bhāsate—appears; adhikam—more; yathā—like;
eva—indeed; sphaṭika—of crystal glass; acale—in a mountain; mahaḥ—brilliant light.
The happiness felt in impersonal samādhi is plain, isolated, vague, and limited because in that
samādhi the functions of the mind have ceased. But when the object of meditation appears in
the active mind, that object is more vividly manifest, like sunlight reflected on a crystal
While the impersonalists are in meditative trance, their egos and their external senses no
longer act. Since the personality then ceases to function, real perception can no longer take
place. The supposed happiness of impersonal samādhi is therefore devoid of content. We are
told that in samādhi the mind stops functioning, which implies that all the external and
internal senses stop also, because all the senses depend on the mind. Thus if in impersonal
samādhi any happiness is tasted, that happiness must be monotonous and undeveloped, so
vague as to be virtually nonexistent. Considering this, in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.87.29) the
personified Vedas praise the Supreme Person as the original Brahman in this way:
na hi paramasya kaścid aparo na paraś ca bhaved
viyata ivāpadasya tava śūnya-tulāṁ dadhataḥ
“You, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, see no one as an intimate friend and no one as a
stranger, just as the ethereal sky has no connection with perceptible qualities. In this sense
You resemble a void.”
Impersonalists may respond to this by saying that in samādhi the experience of Brahman is
hardly void, because Brahman is self-manifest as the fountainhead of all existence, always
and everywhere. Although this defense may be true, in samādhi the meditator’s senses no
longer function, so what he goes through is as good as nothing. And although the impersonal
Brahman is present always and everywhere, for all practical purposes it is nothing because the
living beings are unable to perceive it; otherwise, since Brahman is present always and
everywhere, why hasn’t everyone perceived it and become liberated? Vaiṣṇavas therefore
claim the right to question the value of impersonal self-realization:
sadā sarvatrāste nanu vimalam ādyaṁ tava padaṁ
tathāpy ekaṁ stokaṁ na hi bhava-taroḥ patram abhinat
kṣaṇaṁ jihvā-grastaṁ tava tu bhagavan nāma nikhilaṁ
sa-mūlaṁ saṁsāraṁ kaṣati katarat sevyam anayoḥ
“Your original pure existence is eternally all-pervading, yet that all-pervading existence does
not break off even a small piece of one leaf of the tree of material illusion. But if Your name,
O almighty Lord, is seized by one’s tongue for even a moment, the tree of material life is
destroyed down to its roots. So which deserves our attention—Your all-pervading existence or
Your holy name?”
In impersonal samādhi one is unable to free oneself from the illusion of material existence
because while absorbed in that samādhi one has no power to act. But serving the Supreme
Lord through methods like the devotional meditation of chanting His names is performed with
the voice and other active senses. In that superior, devotional samādhi the inner and outer
senses enjoy varieties of reciprocation with the Supreme Lord that constantly increase, with
wonderful ecstasies arising one after another. Thus the same object of meditation that is
unclear to the consciousness of the impersonalist is vividly clear to the meditating devotee.
Here the bhakti-śāstras introduce an analogy: When the light of the sun and other luminaries
shines on a mountain of crystal glass, the reflected radiance is more brilliant than the light in
the sky itself. Similarly, when the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord appear in the meditation of a
reflective devotee, the ever-fresh varieties the devotee experiences at every moment, through
all his internal and external senses, provides infinitely more pleasure than the void of
impersonal samādhi.
When a Vaiṣṇava has attained pure love of God, we may observe that his entire body may
sometimes cease to function, or some of the limbs or one or more of the senses may stop
working. His senses may seem unable to make contact with their objects. We should then
understand that the functions of his senses have merged into his inner consciousness. Or his
external senses may have merged into their inner counterparts, or into the mind, or else into
the intelligence or ego. Or the functions of some of his external senses may have merged into
one another; that is, his hearing, sight, taste, speech, and touch may have merged into one,
two, three, or more of his external senses or may have crossed over from one sense to another.
In this intricate situation the functions of his senses may seem intermixed. This is possible
because internally the living being has a spiritual mind and a full set of senses, which underlie
the material mind. From within the material mind these spiritual faculties, when awakened,
can subtly perform all the functions of the external senses.
BB 2.2.216
TEXT 216
itthaṁ samādhi-jān mokṣāt
sukhaṁ bhaktau paraṁ mahat
tad bhakta-vatsalasyāsya
ittham—thus; samādhi-jāt—born out of samādhi; mokṣāt—than liberation; sukham—the
happiness; bhaktau—in devotional service; param—much; mahat—greater; tat—that; bhaktavatsalasya—who is very affectionate to His devotees; asya—of Him; kṛpā—by the mercy;
mādhurya—and sweetness; jṛmbhitam—expanded.
Thus in devotional service the happiness found is much greater than in the liberation born of
samādhi. And by the mercy and sweetness of the Lord, affectionate to His devotees, that
devotional happiness expands.
The Personality of Godhead is always enjoying His infinitely varied pastimes, and He likes to
share His enjoyment as much as possible. Because the Lord is very kind, and so exceedingly
attractive, His devotee feels transcendental ecstasy. The spiritual potency of the soul is
limited. Although he is sac-cid-ānanda (eternal, conscious, and blissful), simply to realize
those qualities provides merely a static, monotonous kind of spiritual existence. But when the
soul goes beyond mere self-realization to realize his relationship with the all-compassionate
Lord, the Lord’s divine energies bestow upon him incomparable happiness.
BB 2.2.217
TEXT 217
sadaika-rūpaṁ bahu-rūpam adbhutaṁ
vimukti-saukhyāt pratiyogi tat sukham
harer mahā-bhakti-vilāsa-mādhurībharātmakaṁ tarkyam atad-vidāṁ na hi
sadā—always; eka-rūpam—in one and the same form; bahu-rūpam—in many forms;
adbhutam—wonderful; vimukti—of liberation; saukhyāt—to the happiness; pratiyogi—
standing in contrast; tat—that; sukham—happiness; hareḥ—of Lord Hari; mahā—great;
bhakti—in pure devotion; vilāsa—of the sporting pastimes; mādhurī—of sweetness; bhara—
an abundance; ātmakam—consisting of; tarkyam—conceivable; atat-vidām—by those who
are ignorant of it; na—not; hi—indeed.
That extraordinary happiness is always one, yet it assumes many features. It stands in contrast
to the happiness of impersonal liberation. Devotional happiness is made of the intense
sweetness of sporting pastimes in the highest devotional service to the Lord. Persons
unfamiliar with this pleasure cannot even imagine what it is like.
The experience of bhakti includes Brahman realization, so the bhakti experience shares the
nondual nature of sac-cid-ānanda. But because bhakti is also a special opulence of the
Personality of Godhead, it is blissful in a way that merging into the Supreme can never be. In
the happiness of impersonal liberation, one and unchanging, the liberated soul attains a limit,
in which he thinks himself fully satisfied. The ecstasies of devotional service, however, in
their many different features, never reach a point beyond which they cannot further increase,
and so they destroy the limited feeling of self-satisfaction.
In an apparently contradictory way, the bliss of devotion is uniformly sac-cid-ānanda yet
always increasing in manifold varieties, newer and newer, sweeter and sweeter at every
moment. Such is the glory of the Lord’s devotional service: It is irrepressibly attractive and
therefore has the power to do what seems impossible. These contradictions coexisting in the
bliss of bhakti—that it is always one yet full of variety, limitless yet constantly growing—can
never be understood by those who have not tasted it for themselves.
BB 2.2.218
TEXT 218
sadaika-rūpo ’pi sa viṣṇur ātmanas
tathā sva-bhakter janayaty anu-kṣaṇam
vicitra-mādhurya-śataṁ navaṁ navaṁ
tayā sva-śaktyetara-durvitarkyayā
sadā—always; eka-rūpaḥ—in one and the same form; api—although; saḥ—He; viṣṇuḥ—Lord
Viṣṇu; ātmanaḥ—of Himself; tathā—and; sva-bhakteḥ—of His devotional service; janayati—
generates; anu-kṣaṇam—at every moment; vicitra—of various kinds; mādhurya—charms;
śatam—by the hundreds; navam navam—newer and newer; tayā—by this; sva-śaktyā—His
personal energy; itara—to other persons; durvitarkyayā—inconceivable.
Although Lord Viṣṇu is always one and unchanging, at every moment He brings forth
hundreds of newer and newer varieties of transcendental charm, both in Himself and in His
devotional service. He does this by His personal energy, inconceivable to everyone else.
Texts 218 through 220 establish beyond a doubt that although the Supreme Lord, as the
personal embodiment of the Absolute Truth, is unchanging in His sac-cid-ānanda existence,
He and His activities (and His devotees and theirs) are full of variety that is real, not created
by illusion. Nondevotees can never discover this sublime truth by conjecture. They can never
understand the Lord’s pastimes with His devotees.
BB 2.2.219
TEXT 219
pāra-brāhmyaṁ madhura-madhuraṁ pārameśyaṁ ca tad vai
bhakteṣv eṣa pravara-karuṇā-prānta-sīmā-prakāśaḥ
teṣāṁ caiṣā niviḍa-madhurānanda-pūrānubhūter
antyāvasthā prakṛtir uditā dhik-kṛta-brāhma-saukhyā
pāra-brāhmyam—the supremacy of the Absolute Truth; madhura-madhuram—sweeter than
the sweetest; pārama-aiśyam—His absolute authority; ca—and; tat—that; vai—certainly;
compassion; prānta-sīmā—of the extreme limit; prakāśaḥ—the display; teṣām—of them (the
devotees); ca—and; eṣā—this; niviḍa—intense; madhura—of charm; ānanda—and bliss;
pūra—of floods; anubhūteḥ—of experience; antya-avasthā—the ultimate stage; prakṛtiḥ—His
nature; uditā—manifested; dhik-kṛta—ridiculing; brāhma-saukhyā—the pleasure of Brahman
This manifold charm, sweeter than the sweetest, is found in Śrī Viṣṇu’s supremacy as Parabrahman and His Lordship over all that be. His charm displays the very limit of His most
excellent compassion toward His devotees. For them His charm lifts to the highest stage their
experience of deep oceans of sweet ecstasy, ecstasy that ridicules the pleasure derived from
realization of impersonal Brahman.
This is the difference between the impersonal Supreme and the Personality of Godhead,
between liberated impersonalists and pure devotees of the Lord, between liberation and
devotional service. Lord Viṣṇu is the original Brahman, the one without a second, but His
attractive qualities are evolving constantly with ever-new freshness. He is the Supreme
Person, the controller of everything that exists. His personal beauty and wonderful playful
activities are universally attractive.
BB 2.2.220
TEXT 220
sva-bhaktānāṁ tat-tad-vividha-madhurānanda-laharīsadā-sampatty-arthaṁ bahutara-viśeṣaṁ vitanute
yathā svasmiṁs tat-tat-prakṛti-rahite ’pi dhruva-taraṁ
tathā teṣāṁ citrākhila-karaṇa-vṛtty-ādi-vibhavam
sva-bhaktānām—of His devotees; tat-tat—various; vividha—of many kinds; madhuraānanda—of sweet ecstasy; laharī—of the waves; sadā—always; sampatti-artham—for the
sake of the enrichment; bahu-tara—manifold; viśeṣam—variety; vitanute—He expands;
yathā—as; svasmin—in Himself; tat-tat—these various kinds; prakṛti—of nature; rahite—
who is devoid; api—although; dhruva-taram—solidly established; tathā—so; teṣām—of them
(the devotees); citra—wonderful; akhila—of all; karaṇa—senses; vṛtti—of the functions;
ādi—and so on; vibhavam—great strength.
The Lord expands abundant variety to enrich His devotees forever with enjoyment in these
exuberant waves of sweet ecstasy. And just as, even though He is devoid of every kind of
material quality, there is firm and constant variety in Him, so in His devotees there is a strong
and varied and wonderful experience in all the functions of the senses.
Why does the Supreme Lord expand the diverseness of His personality? He does so for the
pleasure of His devotees. The Lord’s attractive qualities expand infinitely, giving the
devotees, who are equally spiritual beings, many different kinds of opportunities to serve Him
by activities like hearing and chanting. This spiritual variety in devotional service expands
perpetually, with no beginning or end. It manifests itself in the Lord and also in His devotees,
enhancing their beauty, effulgence, and enjoyment and enlivening and empowering their
Because fire is always hot, it can never become cold. So how can the supreme spiritual truth,
eternally and changelessly one, paradoxically exhibit so much diversity? The second half of
this verse answers that doubt. Although the Supreme Lord is untouched by material dualities,
His transcendental nature creates in Him profuse diversity, which constantly expands,
unlimited by time or space. Although the Lord, the Supreme Brahman, is nirviśeṣa, free from
duality, He displays infinite variety by appearing as innumerable avatāras, as the Supersoul in
every heart, and also in His limited expansions—the jīvas and the material energy. He also
expands the countless forms of devotional service—hearing and chanting about Him, seeing
Him, conversing with Him, embracing Him—and these completely enchant His devotees with
endless varieties of pleasure, newer and newer at every moment.
By employing His personal energies, the Lord expands Himself with ever-fresh variety to
give His devotees special happiness far exceeding the happiness of realizing the self as one
with Him. He similarly offers an infinite variety of engagement for the external and internal
senses of His devotees, to add spice to their transcendental pleasure. Thus in spiritual life
there is nondifference within difference, and difference within nondifference. Without a
doubt, the happiness of liberation is paltry compared to the supreme happiness of devotional
service. We need not elaborate on this point any further.
BB 2.2.221
TEXT 221
nityaiśvaryo nitya-nānā-viśeṣo
nitya-śrīko nitya-bhṛtya-prasaṅgaḥ
nityopāstir nitya-loke ’vatu tvāṁ
nityādvaita-brahma-rūpo ’pi kṛṣṇaḥ
nitya—eternal; aiśvaryaḥ—whose opulent power; nitya—eternal; nānā—manifold; viśeṣaḥ—
whose variety; nitya—eternal; śrīkaḥ—whose beauty; nitya—eternal; bhṛtya—with His
servants; prasaṅgaḥ—whose association; nitya—eternal; upāstiḥ—whose worship; nitya—
eternal; loke—in the world; avatu—may He protect; tvām—you; nitya—eternal; advaita—one
without a second; brahma—of the Absolute; rūpaḥ—the personal form; api—also; kṛṣṇaḥ—
May Kṛṣṇa protect you. His opulent power is eternal, and eternal are His infinite varieties, and
His beauty, and His worship, and His companionship with His servants. He is the personal
form of the eternal Absolute, the one without a second, who lives in the eternal world.
In response to Gopa-kumāra’s inquiry, the bhakti-śāstras have described the glories of the
Personality of Godhead’s devotional service. They now conclude their instructions by
ecstatically offering Gopa-kumāra their blessings. The impersonal, undifferentiated Brahman
is actually a feature of the Supreme Lord. Because the Personality of Godhead manifests an
all-attractive form, He is the concentrated essence of the Supreme. His body is the Supreme
Brahman. Thus, although He is the eternal, unchanging Supreme, He also has eternal
opulences, wonderful qualities that never fail Him. Since He is the eternal and infallible
Godhead, His many varieties of beauty, splendor, and charm are eternal, and His qualities and
activities are eternal as well. His consort Lakṣmī is also eternal, because she always resides on
His chest. And as one further aspect of His eternal opulences, He always enjoys the sublime
association of His devoted servants. This means that not only the Lord’s attendants in
Vaikuṇṭha but even His aspiring devotees in the material world are eternal. Eternally graced
by His mercy, they have no reason ever to fear destruction. This is affirmed by the Lord
Himself in Bhagavad-gītā (9.31). Kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati: “O son of
Kuntī, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.” The Lord’s worship, the process of
devotional service, is also eternal. The activities in the practice of bhakti—hearing, chanting,
and so on—are not merely functions of the material senses, but are manifestations of the
Lord’s direct mercy upon each sensory function. This will be explained more fully later on.
The bhakti-śāstras offer Gopa-kumāra their blessing that Kṛṣṇa, whose abode in the spiritual
world is eternal, may protect him, especially from obstacles to devotional service such as
distraction by the desire to be liberated.
BB 2.2.222
TEXT 222
mahā-rase ’smin na budhaiḥ prayujyate
su-komale karkaśa-tarka-kaṇṭakam
tathāpi nirvāṇa-rata-pravṛttaye
navīna-bhakta-pramude pradarśitam
mahā—supreme; rase—in the nectar of spiritual reciprocations; asmin—this; na—not;
budhaiḥ—by intelligent persons; prayujyate—is used; su-komale—which is very gentle;
karkaśa—harsh; tarka—of logic; kaṇṭakam—the thorn; tathā api—nonetheless; nirvāṇa—to
impersonal liberation; rata—those who are attached; pravṛttaye—in order to motivate;
navīna—new; bhakta—devotees; pramude—for the pleasure; pradarśitam—exhibited.
In this very gentle, supreme nectar of devotional service, the intelligent find no use for harsh
and thornlike logic. Still, we have spoken this discourse to induce those who are attached to
impersonal liberation to begin devotional service, and we have spoken to give pleasure to the
neophyte devotees of the Lord.
Using the four standard forms of evidence—direct perception, logic, the opinions of reputable
authorities, and analogy—the bhakti-śāstras could give many more proofs of the superiority of
bhakti over mokṣa, but here they present only a small sample of those arguments. The bhaktiśāstras refrain from giving more, because cold-hearted critical philosophy disturbs like a thorn
one’s relishing the sublime rasas of devotional service. Intelligent devotees avoid
overindulgence in philosophical debates. But for the benefit of impersonalists and neophyte
devotees, the bhakti-śāstras have taken the trouble to demonstrate by logic the superiority of
bhakti. They have presented their arguments to induce persons attracted to the selfannihilation of merging into the Supreme to turn instead to the process of bhakti.
Without strong logical proofs, impersonalists will never be convinced to give up aspiring for
liberation. Thus, following the logic given in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.15.34) of removing one
thorn with another (kaṇṭakaṁ kaṇṭakeneva), the bhakti-śāstras have used the sharp thorn of
logic to remove the thorn of the desire for liberation, which pierces the hearts of the
impersonalists. This discourse also helps neophyte Vaiṣṇavas, whose faith is not fixed. By
hearing how much greater than mokṣa is bhakti, their hearts become filled with joy. And with
their hearts thus freed from thorns of doubt, they become fit to receive the eternal treasure of
pure devotion.
The dualistic textbooks of the Nyāya school of philosophy give many hard-headed arguments
based on the four types of evidence. In contrast, the monistic school of Vedānta philosophy
presents fewer complex philosophical arguments, relying more on the one evidence of
personal experience. In other words, the Nyāya presentation is harsh (karkaśa), and the
Vedānta presentation soft (komala). And the presentation of the scriptures that teach bhakti is
even softer (su-komala). The bhakti scriptures seldom digress into philosophical argument.
Such digression tends to agitate the mind and delay the maturing of pure bhakti-rasa, so
intelligent devotees use logical argument sparingly.
BB 2.2.223-224
TEXTS 223–224
bhavāṁs tu yadi mokṣasya
tucchatvānubhavena hi
viśuddha-bhagavad-bhaktiniṣṭhā-sampattim icchati
tadā nijaṁ mahā-mantraṁ
tam eva bhajatāṁ param
atrāpīdaṁ mahā-gūḍhaṁ
śṛṇotu hṛdayaṅ-gamam
bhavān—your good self; tu—but; yadi—if; mokṣasya—of liberation; tucchatva—the
pettiness; anubhavena—by realizing; hi—indeed; viśuddha—pure; bhagavat-bhakti—in
devotional service; niṣṭhā—of firm faith; sampattim—the treasure; icchati—wants; tadā—
bhajatām—you should worship; param—supreme; atra—in this regard; api—also; idam—
this; mahā-gūḍham—great secret; śṛṇotu—please hear; hṛdayam-gamam—pleasing to the
If you have indeed realized the pettiness of liberation and want to attain the treasure of firm
faith in pure devotional service to the Lord, then simply worship your transcendental mantra.
And please hear this great secret, which is pleasing to the heart:
With the help of the bhakti-śāstras, Gopa-kumāra, like many before him, has now realized the
insignificance of impersonal liberation. He is now ready to dedicate himself exclusively to
pure devotional service and has set as his goal the highest ideals of bhakti. For this purpose,
the bhakti-śāstras advise that he need only continue serving the mantra given him by his
exalted spiritual master. That mantra will surely fulfill whatever desires he may have,
including the desire for pure devotion.
It may be true that the words and conduct of great spiritual persons should be accepted as
authoritative, but without direct perception one will be unable to realize the truths that great
souls represent. Without first developing tattva-jṣāna, scientific knowledge, one cannot
acquire this experience; nor without tattva-jṣāna can one who aspires for prema-bhakti gain
the strength to give up inferior attachments. Therefore Gopa-kumāra should faithfully chant
his mantra so that first he may achieve liberation (mokṣa) and then reach the final perfection.
As the bhakti-śāstras are about to reveal, the liberation Gopa-kumāra achieves will be
personal. Thus he should not be repelled by the word mokṣa.
BB 2.2.225
TEXT 225
brahmāṇḍāt koṭi-paṣcāśadyojana-pramitād bahiḥ
yathottaraṁ daśa-guṇāny
aṣṭāv āvaraṇāni hi
brahma-aṇḍāt—of the egg of the universe; koṭi-paṣcāśat—five hundred million; yojana—
yojanas; pramitāt—whose extent; bahiḥ—outside; yathā-uttaram—one after the other; daśaguṇāni—ten times larger; aṣṭau—eight; āvaraṇāni—covering shells; hi—indeed.
Outside the egg of the universe, which extends for five hundred million yojanas, are eight
covering shells, each ten times thicker than the one before.
The eight shells covering the universe consist of earth, water, fire, air, ether, ego, mahat, and
pradhāna. These layers form the stock of subtle causal ingredients from which all things in
material existence are produced. Some philosophers consider the covering of earth to be part
of the internal structure of the universe and so recognize only seven shells. That idea,
however, conflicts with the measurement for the diameter of the universe as five hundred
million yojanas, and it also leaves the transformations of earth within the universe with no
identifiable primary source.
BB 2.2.226
TEXT 226
tāny atikramya labhyeta
tan nirvāṇa-padam dhruvam
mahā-kāla-purākhyaṁ yat
tāni—these; atikramya—crossing; labhyeta—is reached; tat—that; nirvāṇa-padam—abode
where material existence ceases; dhruvam—permanent; mahā-kāla—of Lord Mahākāla;
pura—the city; ākhyam—named; yat—which; kārya—of causes; kāraṇa—and effects;
kālanāt—because of the eradication.
By crossing beyond those shells one reaches the abode of Lord Mahākāla, the imperishable
abode where material existence disappears. It is called Mahākāla-pura because there all
material causes and effects are nonexistent.
Mahākāla-pura, famous as the place to which Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna made their way to retrieve the
sons of the Dvārakā brāhmaṇa, is the location and the essential identity of nirvāṇa, or sāyujya,
the liberation of becoming one with the Supreme. Of course, from the absolute point of view,
liberation is not confined to some specific location. Nonetheless, in spatial terms it is
conceived as being outside the coverings of the material cosmos. This same conception
should be applied to the various spiritual locations Gopa-kumāra will visit later.
The material creation consists of gross and subtle causes (kāryas)—such as the five basic
elements—and gross and subtle products (kāraṇas), like the bodies and senses of the living
entities. In the realm of Mahākāla-pura these kāryas and kāraṇas are not to be found.
BB 2.2.227
TEXT 227
tat-svarūpam anirvācyaṁ
kathaṣcid varṇyate budhaiḥ
sākāraṁ ca nirākāraṁ
varṇyate—is described; budhaiḥ—by wise men; sa-ākāram—with form; ca—and;
nirākāram—without form; yathā-mati—various mentalities; anusārataḥ—according to.
Lord Mahākāla’s personality cannot be described, but wise sages somehow describe Him. He
appears with form or without, in accord with the various mentalities of His worshipers.
The real identity of Lord Mahākāla is beyond the power of words to describe, but
transcendental scholars somehow attempt to describe Him. Na śītaṁ na coṣṇaṁ
suvarṇāvadātaṁ / prasannaṁ sadānanda-saṁvit-svarūpam: “He is neither cold nor hot, but is
brilliant like gold. He is the perfectly satisfied Self of perpetual bliss and awareness.” Those
who have no better evidence to depend on than theoretical knowledge perceive Him as best
they can, some seeing Him with personal form and others as formless. In Śrī Hari-vaṁśa
(2.113.25), Arjuna tells how, according to his ability, he saw Lord Mahākāla:
tatas tejaḥ prajvalitam
apaśyaṁ tat tadāmbare
sarva-lokaṁ samāviśya
sthitaṁ puruṣa-vigraham
“Then I saw in the ether a brilliant light. It pervaded the entire cosmos yet was situated in one
place in a personal form.” The Supreme Lord is always a person, but those attached to dry
knowledge think of Him as formless and impersonal. Be that as it may, the devotees of the
Lord can always discern His personal form.
BB 2.2.228
TEXT 228
bhagavat-sevakais tatra
gataiś ca svecchayā param
hṛdy ākāraṁ ghanī-bhūtaṁ
brahma-rūpaṁ tad īkṣyate
bhagavat—of the Personality of Godhead; sevakaiḥ—by the servants; tatra—there; gataiḥ—
who have gone; ca—and; sva-icchayā—by their own desire; param—the Supreme; hṛdi—in
their hearts; ākāram—in personal form; ghanī-bhūtam—concentrated; brahma-rūpam—the
Absolute Truth; tat—that; īkṣyate—is seen.
The Lord’s servants whose desires bring them to Mahākāla-pura see Him there in their hearts
as the concentrated form of the Absolute Truth.
Liberated Vaiṣṇavas are free in all their movements. If they travel to Mahākāla-pura it is only
because they want to see the Lord there as Brahman in person.
BB 2.2.229
TEXT 229
atas tatrāpi bhavato
sākṣāt sampatsyate svīyamahā-mantra-prabhāvataḥ
sampatsyate—you will achieve; svīya—your own; mahā-mantra—of the transcendental
mantra; prabhāvataḥ—by the power.
And so, by the potency of your transcendental mantra, there you will directly achieve the
complete fulfillment of your long-cherished desires.
Though Gopa-kumāra has long hankered to see the Lord he has been worshiping by his
mantra, he doubts his own qualification to achieve this, because he knows that to see the Lord
in person one must be His fully surrendered servant. But the bhakti-śāstras remind him that
his ten-syllable mantra to Śrī Madana-gopāla is all-powerful.
BB 2.2.230
TEXT 230
bahu-kāla-vilambaṁ ca
bhavān nāpekṣate ’tra cet
tadā śrī-mathurāyās tāṁ
vraja-bhūmiṁ nijāṁ vraja
bahu-kāla—lasting a long time; vilambam—delay; ca—and; bhavān—your good self; na
apekṣate—does not desire; atra—here (in Brahmaloka); cet—if; tadā—then; śrīmathurāyāḥ—of Mathurā District; tām—that; vraja-bhūmim—to Vraja-bhūmi; nijām—your;
If you do not wish to spend a long time here, then just go to your Vraja-bhūmi in Śrī Mathurā.
Some residents of Lord Brahmā’s planet are completely free from material desires, and some
are not. At the end of Brahmā’s life, those who still have material desires return to lower
planets, and those who are desireless attain liberation along with Brahmā. Brahmā’s life,
however, lasts for two parārdhas—the very lifetime of the universe—and Gopa-kumāra may
not want to wait that long to graduate from the material world. The supreme material powers
and enjoyment available on Brahmaloka delay the attainment of the Supreme Lord’s
kingdom. But if Gopa-kumāra descends from Brahmaloka to the places on earth where Śrī
Kṛṣṇa sports—Śrī Vṛndāvana, Govardhana, and so on—all his desires will be quickly
BB 2.2.231
TEXT 231
śrī-gopa-kumāra uvāca
teṣām etair vacobhir me
bhaktir vṛddhiṁ gatā prabhau
vicāraś caiṣa hṛdaye
’jani māthura-bhūsura
śrī-gopa-kumāraḥ uvāca—Śrī Gopa-kumāra said; teṣām—their; etaiḥ—these; vacobhiḥ—by
the words; me—my; bhaktiḥ—devotion; vṛddhim gatā—increased; prabhau—for the Supreme
Lord; vicāraḥ—thought; ca—and; eṣaḥ—this; hṛdaye—in my heart; ajani—was born;
māthura—of Mathurā; bhū-sura—O brāhmaṇa.
Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: O Mathurā brāhmaṇa, these words of the scriptures greatly
strengthened my devotion for the Supreme Lord, and this thought was born in my heart:
BB 2.2.232
TEXT 232
bhaktir yasyedṛśī so ’tra
sākṣāt prāpto mayā pitā
taṁ parityajya gantavyam
anyatra bata kiṁ-kṛte
bhaktiḥ—devotion; yasya—for whom; īdṛśī—such; saḥ—He; atra—here; sākṣāt—in person;
prāptaḥ—obtained; mayā—by me; pitā—father; tam—Him; parityajya—abandoning;
gantavyam—I should go; anyatra—elsewhere; bata—indeed; kim-kṛte—why.
“Here I have gained in person, as my own father, the Lord whose devotional service is so
great. Why, indeed, should I abandon Him to go elsewhere?”
Gopa-kumāra now understands that mukti is bhakti’s maidservant and that bhakti offers
inconceivable bliss. On Brahmaloka, Lord Mahāpuruṣa, the object of devotional service, has
been caring for Gopa-kumāra as a father indulges a son. Thus it is difficult for Gopa-kumāra
to leave Him.
BB 2.2.233
TEXT 233
ittham udvigna-cittaṁ māṁ
bhagavān sa kṛpākaraḥ
samādiśad idaṁ svayam
ittham—thus; udvigna-cittam—who was disturbed in my mind; mām—to me; bhagavān—the
Supreme Lord; saḥ—He; kṛpā—of mercy; ākaraḥ—the reservoir; sarva—of everyone; antaḥātma—of the hearts; vṛtti—the movements; jṣaḥ—the knower; samādiśat—instructed; idam—
this; svayam—Himself.
When my mind was thus perturbed, that Supreme Lord Himself, the reservoir of mercy, who
knows what takes place in everyone’s heart, visited me and spoke.
Lord Mahāpuruṣa, the ruling Deity of Brahmaloka, knows everything that takes place in every
creature’s heart, so He knew of Gopa-kumāra’s conflict over wanting to go to Vraja-bhūmi
and not wanting to leave Him. To settle Gopa-kumāra’s mind, the Lord came to speak words
from His own divine mouth to comfort him.
BB 2.2.234
TEXT 234
śrī-bhagavān uvāca
nija-priya-tamāṁ yāhi
māthurīṁ tāṁ vraja-kṣitim
śrī-bhagavān uvāca—the Supreme Lord said; nija—your own; priya-tamām—most dear;
yāhi—go; māthurīm—of Mathurā; tām—to those; vraja-kṣitim—the pasturing grounds; tattat—various; mat—My; parama—supreme; krīḍā—of the pastimes; sthalī—of places; āvali—
with many; vibhūṣitām—decorated.
The blessed Lord said: Go to Mathurā, to your dearest pasturing grounds, to the land adorned
with many places of My varied supreme pastimes.
The rāsa dance and the other pastimes Śrī Kṛṣṇa performs in Vraja are the most exalted of the
Supreme Lord’s activities. Those pastimes take place in Vraja on earth, and therefore Vraja is
much greater than Brahmaloka.
BB 2.2.235
TEXT 235
yasyāṁ śrī-brahmaṇāpy ātmatṛṇa-janmābhiyācyate
parivṛtte ’pi yā dīrghakāle rājati tādṛśī
yasyām—in which place; śrī-brahmaṇā—by Śrī Brahmā; api—even; ātma—for himself;
tṛṇa—as a blade of grass; janma—a birth; abhiyācyate—was prayed for; parivṛtte—passed;
api—although; yā—which (Vraja); dīrgha-kāle—a long time; rājati—appears; tādṛśī—the
Though a long time has passed since Lord Brahmā himself prayed for birth as a blade of grass
in Vraja, that land now appears the same as then.
Gopa-kumāra may doubt whether he should leave Lord Mahāpuruṣa after having attained
Him in Brahmaloka, the highest destination in this world. The Lord answers that to gain the
unique ecstasy of meeting Him in a special place, going elsewhere is right. Brahmā himself
prayed to be born in Vraja, even as a blade of grass. Residing in Vraja is therefore even better
than holding the position of Brahmā, the highest seat of universal authority. But Gopa-kumāra
may have a further doubt: In the time he has been living on the higher planets, where one year
equals many lifetimes on earth, Vraja may have changed so much that it may no longer be
attractive. The Lord assures him, however, that Vraja is the same as when he saw it last.
Being unaffected by the decaying power of time is another way that Vraja is greater than
BB 2.2.236
TEXT 236
tatra mat-parama-preṣṭhaṁ
lapsyase sva-guruṁ punaḥ
sarvaṁ tasyaiva kṛpayā
nitarāṁ jṣāsyasi svayam
tatra—there; mat—to Me; parama-preṣṭham—most beloved; lapsyase—you will meet; svagurum—your guru; punaḥ—again; sarvam—everything; tasya—his; eva—indeed; kṛpayā—
by the mercy; nitarām—completely; jṣāsyasi—will be able to understand; svayam—yourself.
There you will again meet your guru, most dear to Me. And by his mercy you will be
empowered to understand everything in full.
Gopa-kumāra may object that in Vraja-bhūmi there will be no one to advise him whereas here
on Brahmaloka Lord Mahāpuruṣa is at his side to mercifully inform him of everything he
should do. But the Lord assures him that in Vraja he will meet again the great Vaiṣṇava who
initiated him into the chanting of his mantra. Because that guru is a very dear devotee of the
Lord, Gopa-kumāra can expect to learn from the guru even more about devotional service
than from the Lord Himself. Thus Lord Mahāpuruṣa emphatically uses the words sarvam
(“everything”), nitarām (“completely”), and svayam (“by your own power”).
BB 2.2.237
TEXT 237
mahā-kāla-pure samyag
mām eva drakṣyasi drutam
tatrāpi paramānandaṁ
prāpsyasi sva-manoramam
mahā-kāla-pure—in the city of Lord Mahākāla; samyak—properly; mām—Me; eva—indeed;
drakṣyasi—you will see; drutam—soon; tatra—there; api—also; parama-ānandam—supreme
bliss; prāpsyasi—you will attain; sva—your; manaḥ-ramam—pleasing to the heart.
Indeed, you will soon come see Me in person in Mahākāla-pura. There you will attain extreme
bliss that will enchant your heart.
Mahākāla-pura, the abode of mukti, is also the residence of Lord Mahākāla. But Lord
Mahāpuruṣa on Brahmaloka is nondifferent from Lord Mahākāla. Why, then, even bother to
go? Why not just stay on Brahmaloka? The answer given here is that in Mahākāla-pura Gopakumāra will realize his Lord even more fully and his heart will be filled with even greater
BB 2.2.238
TEXT 238
yathā-kāmam itas tataḥ
bhramitvā paramāścaryaśatāny anubhaviṣyasi
mat-prasāda—of My favor; prabhāveṇa—by the power; yathā-kāmam—as you desire; itaḥ
tataḥ—here and there; bhramitvā—wandering; parama-āścarya—most amazing things;
śatāni—hundreds; anubhaviṣyasi—you will experience.
By the power of My mercy, you will wander about freely and enter into hundreds of amazing
Gopa-kumāra wants simply to enjoy with his Lord in Śrī Vṛndāvana. But as Lord Mahāpuruṣa
is about to explain, that will happen in due course. Meanwhile, after a brief visit to Vraja,
Gopa-kumāra will continue his journey through the eight coverings of the universe, to the
abode of liberation, and to Śrī Vaikuṇṭha, and beyond, fulfilling his various desires.
BB 2.2.239
TEXT 239
kālena kiyatā putra
vṛndāvane mayā sārdhaṁ
krīḍiṣyasi nijecchayā
kālena—after time; kiyatā—some; putra—My dear son; paripūrṇa—fulfilled; akhila—all;
arthakaḥ—your desires; vṛndāvane—in Vṛndāvana; mayā sārdham—along with Me;
krīḍiṣyasi—you will play; nija-icchayā—according to your desire.
After some time, dear son, all your ambitions will be satisfied, and you will play with Me as
you like in Vṛndāvana.
Gopa-kumāra need not worry that these wanderings will continue for long. Soon enough he
will reach his final destination. As expressed by the word putra (“dear son”), the Lord is
affectionate to him and will ensure that everything promised comes true. Gopa-kumāra will at
last achieve the association of Śrī Madana-gopāla-deva in Goloka Vṛndāvana, both on earth
and in the spiritual world.
BB 2.2.240
TEXT 240
śrī-gopa-kumāra uvāca
evaṁ tad-ājṣayā harṣaśokāviṣṭo ’ham āgataḥ
etad vṛndāvanaṁ śrīmat
tat-kṣaṇān manaseva hi
śrī-gopa-kumāraḥ uvāca—Śrī Gopa-kumāra said; evam—thus; tat—His; ājṣayā—by the
order; harṣa—with joy; śoka—and sorrow; āviṣṭaḥ—overcome; aham—I; āgataḥ—came;
manasā—by my mind; iva—as if; hi—indeed.
Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: Thus, overcome with both joy and sorrow at the Lord’s command, by
the power of my mind I at once came to this beautiful Vṛndāvana.
Gopa-kumāra uses the phrase etad vṛndāvanam (“this Vṛndāvana”) because Śrī Vṛndāvana is
where he is speaking to his student, the Mathurā brāhmaṇa. Gopa-kumāra reached that most
beautiful place quickly, traveling at the speed of the mind. He felt joyful that eventually he
would play with His Lord in Śrī Vṛndāvana, but also unhappy that for some time he would
have to keep tolerating the pain of separation from Him.
Thus ends the Second Chapter of Part Two of Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī’s Bṛhadbhāgavatāmṛta, entitled “Jṣāna: Knowledge.”
BB 3. Bhajana: Worship
3. Bhajana: Worship
BB 2.3.1
śrī-gopa-kumāra uvāca
brahma-lokād imāṁ pṛthvīm
āgacchan dṛṣṭavān aham
pūrvaṁ yatra yadāsīt tadgandho ’py asti na kutracit
śrī-gopa-kumāraḥ uvāca—Śrī Gopa-kumāra said; brahma-lokāt—from Brahmaloka; imām—
this; pṛthvīm—to earth; āgacchan—coming; dṛṣṭavān—saw; aham—I; pūrvam—before;
yatra—where; yadā—when; āsīt—was; tat—of that; gandhaḥ—a small fragrance; api—even;
asti na—there was not; kutracit—anywhere.
Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: When I came from Brahmaloka to this earth, I saw that nowhere was
there even a hint of the way things had been before.
In this third chapter, Gopa-kumāra crosses the eight coverings of the universe and enters the
abode of mukti, liberation. There, in the presence of Lord Śiva, servants of the Lord of
Vaikuṇṭha explain to him the characteristics of pure devotional service.
Gopa-kumāra first returns to Mathurā-maṇḍala, where the truth of the Supreme Lord’s words
is shown to him. The Lord had declared that Śrī Mathurā is never disturbed by the influence
of time, and now Gopa-kumāra sees this for himself. While he had been away on the higher
planets, the rest of the earth had completely changed, and not a trace remained of the
demigods, humans, and other creatures who had been there before.
BB 2.3.2
paraṁ śrī-mathurā tādṛgvanādri-sarid-anvitā
virājate yathā-pūrvaṁ
tādṛśair jaṅgamair vṛtā
param—only; śrī-mathurā—the district of Śrī Mathurā; tādṛk—the same way; vana—forests;
adri—mountains; sarit—rivers; anvitā—endowed with; virājate—appeared; yathā—as;
pūrvam—previously; tādṛśaiḥ—with the same; jaṅgamaiḥ—moving creatures; vṛtā—filled.
Only Śrī Mathurā District looked just as it had, with the same forests, mountains, and rivers,
filled with the same moving creatures.
The forests of Mathurā appeared as always, with the same kinds of trees, bushes and creepers,
the same mountains, such as Śrī Govardhana, the same rivers, like Śrī Kālindī, and the same
kinds of moving creatures—birds, animals, and humans beings.
BB 2.3.3
ājṣāṁ bhagavataḥ smṛtvā
bhraman vṛndāvanāntare
anviṣya kuṣje ’trāpaśyaṁ
sva-guruṁ prema-mūrchitam
ājṣām—the order; bhagavataḥ—of the Supreme Lord; smṛtvā—remembering; bhraman—
wandering; vṛndāvana-antare—within Vṛndāvana; anviṣya—entering; kuṣje—in the grove;
atra—here; apaśyam—I saw; sva-gurum—my spiritual master; prema—from ecstatic love;
Remembering the Supreme Lord’s order, I wandered throughout Vṛndāvana. When I entered
this very same grove, I saw my spiritual master, unconscious in a trance of ecstatic love.
Gopa-kumāra remembered what the Personality of Godhead had told him: “Go to Vṛndāvana.
There you will find your beloved spiritual master.”
BB 2.3.4
prayāsair bahubhiḥ svāsthyaṁ
nīto ’sau vīkṣya māṁ natam
parirebhe ’tha sarva-jṣo
bubudhe man-manoratham
prayāsaiḥ—with efforts; bahubhiḥ—great; svāsthyam—to a normal condition; nītaḥ—
brought; asau—he; vīkṣya—seeing; mām—me; natam—bowed down; parirebhe—embraced;
atha—then; sarva-jṣaḥ—knowing everything; bubudhe—he understood; mat—my; manaḥratham—desire.
With great endeavor I brought that all-knowing sage back to normal, and when he saw me
bowing down before him he embraced me, at once understanding the desire in my heart.
By such means as sprinkling him with water, Gopa-kumāra brought his spiritual master out of
trance. The spiritual master understood, without being told, that Gopa-kumāra wanted to
know how to reach the abode of liberation.
BB 2.3.5
snātvā sva-datta-mantrasya
dhyānādi-vidhim uddiśan
kiṣcin mukhena kiṣcic ca
snātvā—bathing; sva-datta—given by him; mantrasya—of the mantra; dhyāna-ādi—of the
meditation and so on; vidhim—the rules; uddiśan—instructing; kiṣcit—some; mukhena—
verbally; kiṣcit—some; ca—and; saṅketena—by gesture; abhyavedayat—he informed.
He bathed, and then taught me various rules for worshiping and meditating on the mantra he
had given. Some of these instructions he spoke, and others he gave me through gestures.
Because the guru had been in a deep trance of overflowing prema, his face was soiled with
saliva, mucus, and tears. He therefore went to the Yamunā to purify himself. Then he gave
Gopa-kumāra instructions on how to worship the mantra, teachings for which there had not
been time in their previous meetings. Besides the basic method for meditating, the guru also
taught Gopa-kumāra how to apply the syllables of the mantra to the parts of one’s body by
touching the body and chanting, how to use appropriate hand gestures, and other details of
worship. Certain methods he taught verbally, such as touching the body while chanting. Other
methods, such as how to meditate on the Lord’s personal form, he taught by pointing and
giving indications. He gave some of the lessons nonverbally because giving explicit
descriptions might have evoked a remembrance of the Lord’s form so vivid as to again ignite
his own prema, thus overwhelming his composure.
BB 2.3.6
jagāda ca nijaṁ sarvam
idaṁ preṣṭhāya te ’dadām
sarvam etat-prabhāveṇa
svayaṁ jṣāsyasi lapsyase
jagāda—he said; ca—and; nijam—my own; sarvam—everything; idam—this; preṣṭḥāya—
who are very dear; te—to you; adadām—I have given; sarvam— everything; etat—of this;
prabhāveṇa—by the power; svayam—on your own; jṣāsyasi—you will understand;
lapsyase—you will attain.
He then said, “Because you are very dear to me, I have now given you everything I possess.
By the power of this mantra, you will understand and attain everything on your own.”
We should not doubt that the guru, simply by a few words and gestures, could teach Gopakumāra everything there was to know. Though true spiritual knowledge cannot be achieved
merely by collecting information, it can be gained by the mercy of one’s spiritual master,
which awakens transcendental knowledge naturally in one’s heart. As the guru indicates here,
Gopa-kumāra, by the power of the mantra, will comprehend everything—not only what he
has just learned but also things yet to be learned.
BB 2.3.7
harṣeṇa mahatā tasya
pādayoḥ patite mayi
so ’ntarhita ivāgacchad
yatra kutrāpy alakṣitam
harṣeṇa—with joy; mahatā—great; tasya—his; pādayoḥ—at the feet; patite—falling; mayi—
I; saḥ—he; antarhitaḥ—vanished; iva—as if; agacchat—went; yatra kutra api—somewhere;
With great joy I fell at his feet, and then all at once he was gone. He had gone elsewhere,
BB 2.3.8
ahaṁ ca tad-viyogārtaṁ
mano viṣṭabhya yatnataḥ
yathādeśaṁ sva-mantraṁ taṁ
pravṛtto japtum ādarāt
aham—I; ca—and; tat—from him; viyoga—due to the separation; ārtam—pained; manaḥ—
my mind; viṣṭabhya—calming; yatnataḥ—with difficulty; yathā-ādeśam—as I had been
instructed; sva-mantram—my mantra; tam—that; pravṛttaḥ—began; japtum—to chant;
ādarāt—with reverence.
I tried hard to calm my mind, which was pained by his departure, and I reverently began to
chant my mantra as instructed.
Chanting of a mantra that worships the Supreme Lord should result in liberation even if the
chanting is done irregularly. Still, if one wants to reach liberation easily, without delay, one
should chant according to the rules and regulations given by the spiritual master.
BB 2.3.9
sva-dehaṁ kalayan raveḥ
nirbhidya maṇḍalaṁ gacchann
ūrdhvaṁ lokān vyalokayam
pāṣca-bhautikatā—being made of the five material elements; atītam—beyond; sva-deham—
my own body; kalayan—observing; raveḥ—of the sun; nirbhidya—breaking through;
maṇḍalam—the sphere; gacchan—going; ūrdhvam—upward; lokān—planetary systems;
vyalokayam—I saw.
I then saw my body change into a form transcendental to the five material elements. And as I
traveled upward, breaking through the sphere of the sun, I saw all the planetary systems.
Gopa-kumāra saw his own body change from a product of the material elements into a
transcendental body. To achieve this perfection, he was not forced to die, to give up one body
in exchange for another. Rather, his body became refined so that he was able to travel through
the coverings of the universe and enter the abode of liberation.
The doorway to liberation is the sun, which accomplished celibates and Vaiṣṇavas pass
through on their way out of the material world. Gopa-kumāra broke through the sphere of the
sun and traveled upward, seeing all fourteen worlds as he passed beyond them.
BB 2.3.10
dūṣitān bahu-doṣeṇa
sukhābhāsena bhūṣitān
māyā-mayān mano-rājyasvapna-dṛṣṭārtha-sammitān
dūṣitān—tainted; bahu—many; doṣeṇa—with faults; sukha—of happiness; ābhāsena—with a
shadow; bhūṣitān—decorated; māyā-mayān—products of illusion; manaḥ-rājya—in flights of
fancy; svapna—and dreams; dṛṣṭa—to what is seen; artha—in significance; sammitān—equal.
I saw that these planets, tainted by many faults, adorned with mere reflections of happiness,
were but products of illusion, no better than what one sees in a flight of fancy or a dream.
The attractions one sees in a day dream or night dream exist only in one’s own mind, and
even that private existence is brief. And the reality one sees while awake is shared and
persistent. Yet within the material universe, all the worlds are dreamlike shadows of spiritual
reality, their happiness but a shadow of real happiness.
BB 2.3.11
pūrvaṁ ye bahu-kālena
samprāptāḥ kramaśo ’dhunā
sarve nimeṣataḥ krāntā
yugapan manaseva te
pūrvam—earlier; ye—which; bahu-kālena—over a long time; samprāptāḥ—achieved;
kramaśaḥ—one by one; adhunā—now; sarve—all; nimeṣataḥ—in the blink of an eye;
krāntāḥ—passed; yugapat—at once; manasā—by the mind; iva—as if; te—they.
The planets I had earlier attained one by one, over a long period of time, I now crossed in the
blink of an eye, as if by the power of my mind alone.
Gopa-kumāra had visited Svarga, Mahar, Tapas, and Satya and stayed for a while on each of
these planets. Now he was passing over these same planets at the speed of the mind. It might
be said that since these planets are nothing more substantial than assemblages of the guṇas of
material nature, they no longer appear independently real to someone who has subdued his
mind; and so, in this sense, passing out of this universe is but an effort of the mind. But since
Gopa-kumāra physically broke through the sphere the sun, he did have to exert himself.
Therefore the qualification iva (“as if”) is here added to the word manasā (“by the mind”).
BB 2.3.12
brahma-lokāt sukhaiḥ koṭiguṇitair uttarottaram
vaibhavaiś ca mahiṣṭhāni
prāpto ’smy āvaraṇāny atha
brahma-lokāt—than Brahmaloka; sukhaiḥ—with enjoyments; koṭi-guṇitaiḥ—millions of
mahiṣṭhāni—magnificent; prāptaḥ asmi—I reached; āvaraṇāni—coverings; atha—then.
Next I reached the coverings of the universe. Each of them, more so than the one before, was
rich with enjoyments and opulences millions of times greater than on Brahmaloka.
Each covering of the universe is ten times greater than the one before it and millions of times
greater in enjoyment and opulence.
BB 2.3.13-14
TEXTS 13–14
kāryopādhim atikrāntaiḥ
liṅgākhyaṁ kāraṇopādhim
atikramitum ātmabhiḥ
praviśya tat-tad-rūpeṇa
bhujyamānāni kāmataḥ
tat-tad-udbhava-niḥśeṣasukha-sāra-mayāni hi
kārya—of created things; upādhim—the false attributes; atikrāntaiḥ—who have passed
beyond; prāptavya—to be attained by whom; krama-muktikaiḥ—gradual liberation; liṅgaākhyam—known as the subtle body; kāraṇa—of the elements which are the causes of
creation; upādhim—the designations; atikramitum—to pass beyond; ātmabhiḥ—by finite
souls; praviśya—entering; tat-tat—of each (element); rūpeṇa—in a form; bhujyamānāni—
which are enjoyed; kāmataḥ—as one desires; tat-tat—in each; udbhava—generated; niḥśeṣa—
entire; sukha-sāra—essence of pleasure; mayāni—comprising; hi—certainly.
Souls who have transcended the false attributes of created things and who aspire for gradual
liberation strive also to go beyond the causative elements of creation, elements found again as
false attributes, in what is known as the subtle body. To do this they enter the shell formed of
each element. They enter in a body composed of that element and enjoy to their full desire the
essence of the pleasure to be had there.
When a jīva on his way out of the material universe passes through its coverings (āvaraṇas),
he is provided a body made of the subtle element he is passing through. Otherwise, mere
proximity to these concentrated masses of elemental energy would destroy his body at once.
In each successive covering the jīva finds wonderful opportunities for more refined material
enjoyment. Since the material creation exists mainly for the jīva’s enjoyment, these original
reservoirs of the material elements brim with resources for pleasure. The grosser objects
produced from the causal elements—earth, water, fire, and so on—are great sources of sense
gratification for conditioned living beings, and the superior, subtle forms of matter afford
even better sense enjoyment. In the covering formed of each element, pleasures from
combinations of all the elements are available, just as inside the universe, but in the covering
formed of a particular element that element predominates. In each of the coverings more
happiness is found than on Brahmaloka, and each consecutive covering offers more happiness
than the one before.
BB 2.3.15-16
TEXTS 15–16
pṛthivy-āvaraṇaṁ teṣu
prathamaṁ gatavān aham
dharaṇyā pūjitaṁ prabhum
brahmāṇḍa-durlabhair dravyair
apaśyaṁ prati-romāntabhramad-brahmāṇḍa-vaibhavam
pṛthivī—of earth; āvaraṇam—the covering; teṣu—among them; prathamam—the first;
tat—of that
aiśvarya—of the
adhikāriṇyā—by the presiding deity; dharaṇyā—the goddess Earth (Bhūmi); pūjitam—
worshiped; prabhum—the Lord; brahmāṇḍa—in the material universe; durlabhaiḥ—
unobtainable; dravyaiḥ—with items; mahā-śūkara-rūpiṇam—in the form of a great boar;
apaśyam—I saw; prati-roma—each pore; anta—within; bhramat—rotating; brahmāṇḍa—of
the universe; vaibhavam—the opulences.
The first covering I entered was that of earth. There I saw the Supreme Lord in the form of a
great boar being worshiped by the goddess Earth, the deity presiding over that covering and
its wealth. She worshiped Him with riches not to be obtained within the universe itself, while
all the opulences of the universe whirled within every pore on His body.
Even when seeing Lord Mahāpuruṣa on Brahmaloka, Gopa-kumāra did not see all the
opulences of the fourteen worlds in every pore of the Lord’s body, as he was seeing them
now. Each higher world is closer to spiritual perfection, so in each successive world the Lord
reveals more of His infinite glories. The presiding ruler of each higher planet is more elevated
than the ruler of the planet below, and still more elevated are the presiding deities of the
subtle coverings, so the goddess Earth in the subtle covering of earth stands above Lord
BB 2.3.17
tasyāṁ kāraṇa-rūpāyāṁ
kārya-rūpam idaṁ jagat
tad-upādānakaṁ sarvaṁ
sphūritaṁ ca vyalokayam
tasyām—within her; kāraṇa-rūpāyām—who embodies the subtle causes of creation; kāryarūpam—which embodies the created products; idam—this; jagat—world; tat—of it;
upādānakam—the ingredients; sarvam—all; sphūritam—manifested; ca—and; vyalokayam—
I saw.
Within the goddess Earth, who embodies the subtle causes of creation, I saw the creation
itself, with all its ingredients.
As clay is the ingredient cause of a pot, the elements presided over by the deities of the
āvaraṇas are the ingredient causes of the universe. Since earth is the most prominent
ingredient within the material universe, the goddess Bhūmi appears to be the source of all
BB 2.3.18
vidhāya bhagavat-pūjāṁ
tayātithyena sat-kṛtaḥ
dināni katicit tatra
bhogārtham aham arthitaḥ
vidhāya—having been performed; bhagavat-pūjām—worship of the Supreme Lord; tayā—by
her; ātithyena—as a guest; sat-kṛtaḥ—honored; dināni—for days; katicit—some; tatra—there;
bhoga-artham—to enjoy; aham—I; arthitaḥ—was asked.
After she finished worshiping the Lord, the goddess honored me as her guest and begged me
to remain there to enjoy for a few days.
BB 2.3.19
tām anujṣāpya kenāpy ākṛṣyamāṇa ivāśu tat
atītyāvaraṇaṁ prāptaḥ
parāṇy āvaraṇāni ṣaṭ
tām—from her; anujṣāpya—taking leave; kena api—by something; ākṛṣyamāṇaḥ—being
pulled; iva—as if; āśu—quickly; tat—that; atītya—crossing; āvaraṇam—covering; prāptaḥ—
reached; parāṇi—other; āvaraṇāni—coverings; ṣaṭ—six.
Taking her leave, I quickly crossed beyond that covering, as if pulled by some force, and
reached the other six.
Although the goddess Bhūmi, a first-class Vaiṣṇava, encouraged Gopa-kumāra to stay longer
in her domain, he couldn’t tarry, because the force of his sādhana was impelling him toward
the abode of mukti.
BB 2.3.20-21
TEXTS 20–21
mahā-rūpa-dharair vāritejo-vāyv-ambarais tathā
ahaṅkāra-mahadbhyāṁ ca
sva-svāvaraṇato ’rcitam
krameṇa matsyaṁ sūryaṁ ca
pradyumnam aniruddhakam
saṅkarṣaṇaṁ vāsudevaṁ
bhagavantam alokayam
mahā-rūpa—expansive forms; dharaiḥ—assuming; vāri—by water; tejaḥ—fire; vāyu—air;
ambaraiḥ—and ether; tathā—also; ahaṅkāra—by false ego; mahadbhyām—and the mahat;
ca—and; sva-sva—each their own; āvaraṇataḥ—using the covering; arcitam—worshiped;
krameṇa—one after another; matsyam—Matsya; sūryam—Sūrya; ca—and; pradyumnam—
Pradyumna; aniruddhakam—Aniruddha; saṅkarṣaṇam—Saṅkarṣaṇa; vāsudevam—Vāsudeva;
bhagavantam—the Supreme Lord; alokayam—I saw.
One after another, I saw Lords Matsya, Sūrya, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, Saṅkarṣaṇa, and
Vāsudeva, each with one of the great manifested deities of those coverings woshiping Him
with the element over which that deity presided—water, fire, air, ether, ego, or mahat.
Gopa-kumāra discovered Lord Matsya in the covering of water, Lord Sūrya-nārāyaṇa in the
covering of fire, and so on.
BB 2.3.22
sva-kāryāt pūrva-pūrvasmāt
kāraṇaṁ cottarottaram
sva-kāryāt—than its own product; pūrva-pūrvasmāt—one before another; kāraṇam—cause;
ca—and; uttara-uttaram—one after another; pūjya—of the object of worship; pūjaka—
worshiper; bhoga—enjoyment; śrī—opulence;
adhikam—greater and greater.
mahattvena—and importance; adhika-
Each covering was the subtle cause of the one before it, and had a greater object of worship, a
greater worshiper, and greater sense gratification, opulence, and importance.
Because the covering made of water is closer to spiritual existence than the previous covering,
that of earth, in the watery covering the Supreme Lord manifests Himself more fully, in the
form of Matsya-deva. Thus the demigod presiding over the watery covering is greater than the
demigoddess of earth, and the watery enjoyments and opulences surpass the earthly ones. This
hierarchy holds true for all the coverings, one after another.
BB 2.3.23
pūrva-vat tāny atikramya
prakṛty-āvaraṇaṁ gataḥ
mahā-tamo-mayaṁ sāndraśyāmikākṣi-manoharam
pūrva-vat—as before; tāni—these; atikramya—crossing over; prakṛti—of material nature;
āvaraṇam—the covering; gataḥ—reaching; mahā-tamaḥ-maya—consisting of primordial
ignorance; sāndra-śyāmika—dark blue; akṣi-manaḥ-haram—attractive to the eyes and mind.
As before, I crossed over each of these coverings, and finally came to the covering made of
primordial nature. Composed of the most subtle form of ignorance, it was dark blue, and
attractive to the eyes and mind.
“As before” implies that at each stage of his journey Gopa-kumāra was greeted as a welcome
guest by the presiding deity, who requested him to stay and partake of the pleasures of that
realm, which Gopa-kumāra politely declined, taking his host’s permission to travel on. Finally
he arrived at the covering of prakṛti, the source from which all the other coverings evolve.
This covering, the original reservoir of tamo-guṇa, appears dark and yet attractive. As
described by Arjuna in Śrī Hari-vaṁśa (2.113.21–22):
paṅka-bhūtaṁ hi timiraṁ
sparśād vijṣāyate ghanāḥ
“I perceived a darkness as dense as mud, so concentrated that I could feel its touch.
atha parvata-bhūtaṁ tu
timiraṁ samapadyata
“Then I reached a darkness that was dense like a mountain.” And again in the Tenth Canto of
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.89.47–49):
sapta dvīpān sa-sindhūṁś ca
sapta sapta girīn atha
lokālokaṁ tathātītya
viveśa su-mahat tamaḥ
tatrāśvāḥ śaibya-sugrīvameghapuṣpa-balāhakāḥ
tamasi bhraṣṭa-gatayo
babhūvur bharatarṣabha
tān dṛṣṭvā bhagavān kṛṣṇo
sva-cakraṁ prāhiṇot puraḥ
“The Lord’s chariot passed over the seven islands of the middle universe, each with its ocean
and its seven principal mountains. Then it crossed the Lokāloka boundary and entered the vast
region of total darkness. In that darkness the chariot’s horses—Śaibya, Sugrīva, Meghapuṣpa,
and Balāhaka—lost their way. O best of the Bhāratas, when Lord Kṛṣṇa, the supreme master
of all masters of yoga, saw the horses in this condition, He sent His Sudarśana disc before the
chariot. That disc shone like thousands of suns.”
BB 2.3.24
tasmin nijeṣṭa-devasya
varṇa-sādṛśyam ātate
dṛṣṭvāhaṁ nitarāṁ hṛṣṭo
naicchaṁ gantuṁ tato ’grataḥ
tasmin—in this; nija—my own; iṣṭa-devasya—of the worshipable Lord; varṇa—to the color;
sādṛśyam—similarity; ātate—spread; dṛṣṭvā—seeing; aham—I; nitarām—extremely; hṛṣṭaḥ—
delighted; na aiccham—did not want; gantum—to go; tataḥ—from there; agrataḥ—further.
Seeing spread everywhere a color like that of my worshipable Lord, I was very much
delighted. I had no desire to go further.
The beautiful śyāma color of the prakṛti region seemed just like the color of Gopa-kumāra’s
Deity, Śrī Madana-gopāla. Since the total dimensions of prakṛti cannot be measured by any
material means, this attractive effulgence seemed to extend infinitely. Gopa-kumāra was so
charmed by that color that he felt no impulse to move on.
BB 2.3.25
śrī-mohinī-mūrti-dharasya tatra
vibhrājamānasya nijeśvarasya
pūjāṁ samāpya prakṛtiḥ prakṛṣṭamūrtiḥ sapady eva samabhyayān mām
śrī-mohinī—of Śrī Mohinī; mūrti—the form; dharasya—who was assuming; tatra—there;
vibhrājamānasya—effulgent; nija-īśvarasya—of her worshipable Lord; pūjām—worship;
samāpya—having finished; prakṛtiḥ—the goddess Prakṛti; prakṛṣṭa—excellent; mūrtiḥ—in
her form; sapadi eva—at once; samabhyayāt—approached; mām—me.
As I arrived, the goddess Prakṛti had just finished the worship of her Lord, the Lord of that
region, the effulgent Śrī Mohinī-mūrti. The goddess at once approached me in her own
superlative form.
Māyā, material nature, was worshiping the Supreme Lord in His female disguise as Mohinīmūrti, which implies that Śrī Mohinī-mūrti is much more attractive than Māyā herself.
BB 2.3.26
upānayan mahā-siddhīr
aṇimādyā mamāgrataḥ
yayāce ca pṛthivy-ādivat tatra mad-avasthitim
upānayat—she offered as gifts; mahā-siddhīḥ—yogic powers; aṇima-ādyāḥ—perfections such
as aṇimā; mama—me; agrataḥ—before; yayāce—requested; ca—and; pṛthivī—the goddess
Earth; ādi—and the others; vat—like; tatra—there; mat—my; avasthitim—staying.
She offered me gifts such as aṇimā-siddhi and other great yogic powers. And like the goddess
Earth and the other deities, she asked me to stay.
BB 2.3.27
sa-snehaṁ ca jagādedaṁ
yadi tvaṁ muktim icchasi
tadāpy anugṛhāṇemāṁ
māṁ tasyāḥ pratihāriṇīm
sa-sneham—sweetly; ca—and; jagāda—she said; idam—this; yadi—if; tvam—you;
muktim—liberation; icchasi—want; tadā api—then; anugṛhāṇa—please favor; imām—this
person; mām—me; tasyāḥ—of it (liberation); pratihāriṇīm—the bestower.
She sweetly told me, “If you want to achieve your goal of liberation, then please be kind to
me, because I am the bestower of liberation.
One would normally think that to attain liberation one must reject material nature; but in fact
one achieves liberation when material nature chooses to release one.
BB 2.3.28
bhaktim icchasi vā viṣṇos
tathāpy etasya ceṭikām
bhaginīṁ śakti-rūpāṁ māṁ
kṛpayā bhaja bhakti-dām
bhaktim—devotion; icchasi—you want; vā—or; viṣṇoḥ—to Lord Viṣṇu; tathā api—all the
same; etasya—His; ceṭikām—maidservant; bhaginīm—sister; śakti-rūpām—and personified
energy; mām—me; kṛpayā—please; bhaja—worship; bhakti-dām—the giver of devotion.
“Or if you want devotion to Viṣṇu, still you should be kind and worship me, the giver of
devotion, for I am His maidservant, His sister, and the embodiment of His energy.”
Pure Vaiṣṇavas do not care for liberation, but still they respect Prakṛti for other reasons. She
is Lord’s Viṣṇu’s humble servant and sister, born as Subhadrā from the womb of Yaśodā, and
she helps Lord Viṣṇu’s devotees make progress in devotional service. Although Māyā is not
identical with Lord Viṣṇu’s internal energy (antaraṅga-śakti), she is the expansion of that
energy, embodied in the external elements. Thus she is nondifferent from the original energy,
just as a person’s shadow is nondifferent from the person.
BB 2.3.29
śrī-gopa-kumāra uvāca
tad aśeṣam anādṛtya
viṣṇu-śakti-dhiyā param
tāṁ natvāvaraṇaṁ ramyavarṇaṁ tad draṣṭum abhramam
śrī-gopa-kumāraḥ uvāca—Śrī Gopa-kumāra said; tat—that; aśeṣam—altogether; anādṛtya—
declining; viṣṇu-śakti—as the potency of Lord Viṣṇu; dhiyā—considering; param—simply;
tām—to her; natvā—bowing down; āvaraṇam—the covering; ramya-varṇam—beautifulcolored; tat—that; draṣṭum—to see; abhramam—I wandered.
Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: Declining all these enticements, understanding them to be the potency
of Lord Viṣṇu, I bowed down to the goddess and then wandered for a while to see that
beautiful-colored region.
Gopa-kumāra had the discretion to reject the gifts offered by Prakṛti, and her proposal that he
stay in her domain, but the atmosphere of that place was pleasing to his mind and senses, so
he wanted to stay a little longer to examine its wonders more closely.
BB 2.3.30
prādhānikair jīva-saṅghair
bhujyamānaṁ mano-ramam
sarvataḥ sarva-māhātmyādhikyena vilasat svayam
prādhānikaiḥ—made of primordial matter; jīva-saṅghaiḥ—by many living entities;
bhujyamānam—being enjoyed; manaḥ-ramam—attractive; sarvataḥ—superior to everything
else; sarva—all; māhātmya—excellence; ādhikyena—with the most; vilasat—radiant;
svayam—by its own power.
Splendid with the most excellent wonders, that place was delightful, shining on its own,
multitudes of living entities enjoying it, their bodies made of primodrial matter.
Pradhāna is the most subtle material energy, from which all other subtle and gross
manifestations evolve. The beings Gopa-kumāra saw had bodies of pradhāna, transcendental
to the limited names and forms of manifest creation. Pradhāna hides the spiritual reality from
conditioned souls, but still she is described here as self-luminous (vilasat svayam) because
when the conditioned souls are enlightened by transcendental knowledge her darkness
dissolves into spiritual effulgence.
BB 2.3.31
bahu-rūpaṁ durvibhāvyaṁ
sevyamānaṁ jagan-mayam
completely enchanting; vaibhavam—whose opulence; kārya—of gross constituents; kāraṇa—
and subtle causes; saṅghātaiḥ—by the totality; sevyamānam—being served; jagat-mayam—
comprising the entire material creation.
It was inconceivable, utterly enchanting in opulence, and many in its forms all at once. The
whole of material creation dwelt within it, with all the elements of creation, subtle and gross.
Being the root cause of all material transformations, pradhāna naturally displays countless
forms within herself, producing wonders powerfully attractive to the conditioned souls. How
she works cannot be described in words or comprehended by the material mind. She
comprises the entire created world, with its perceivable objects and their unseen causes. The
most subtle of these causes of material existence are the five tan-mātras, the abstract forms of
raw perception. Though these are not explicitly mentioned here, we can assume that during
Gopa-kumāra’s travels in the covering region of prakṛti, he passed through the sub-regions of
each tan-mātra, for without having crossed them he could not have become fully eligible for
BB 2.3.32
durantaṁ tad ghanaṁ tamaḥ
tejaḥ-puṣjam apaśyantaṁ
atha—then; īśvara—of the Supreme Lord; icchayā—by the desire; atītya—crossing beyond;
durantam—vast; tat—that; ghanam—dense; tamaḥ—ignorance; tejaḥ-puṣjam—a flood of
light; apaśyan—not seeing; tam—that; dṛk—of the eyes; nimīlana—the closing; kārakam—
By the desire of the Lord, I then crossed beyond that vast region of dense ignorance and came
to a place flooded with a light so brilliant, so unbearably beyond seeing, that it forced me to
close my eyes.
Attracted by the beauty of the covering formed of prakṛti, Gopa-kumāra had no desire to
leave, but the Personality of Godhead, wanting him to reach the abode of liberation, inspired
Gopa-kumāra to journey on.
BB 2.3.33
bhaktyā paramayā yatnād
agre dṛṣṭī prasārayan
apaśyaṁ parameśvaram
bhaktyā—with devotion; paramayā—utmost; yatnāt—with effort; agre—forward; dṛṣṭī—my
effulgence; apaśyam—I saw; parama-īśvaram—the Supreme Lord.
With utmost devotion I struggled to look ahead. And then I saw the Supreme Lord, effulgent
like millions of suns.
BB 2.3.34
mano-dṛg-ānanda-vivardhanaṁ vibhuṁ
sphurat-para-brahma-mayaṁ mahādbhutam
manaḥ—of the mind; dṛk—and eyes; ānanda—the ecstasy; vivardhanam—increasing;
vibhum—all-powerful; vicitra—varied; mādhurya—with charming features; vibhūṣaṇa—and
ornaments; ācitam—decorated; samagra—fully; sat-puruṣa—of an exalted person; lakṣaṇa—
the symptoms; anvitam—bearing; sphurat—visible; para-brahma—the Supreme Truth;
mayam—comprising; mahā-adbhutam—most amazing.
Ever increasing the ecstasy of my mind and eyes, that all-powerful Lord, adorned with many
ornaments and sweet features and bearing all the signs of an exalted person, revealed Himself
as the most wondrous form of the Supreme Truth.
Even though the Supreme Lord’s effulgence shone brighter than millions of suns, this
appearance of the Lord was delightful to Gopa-kumāra’s mind and eyes. A most exalted
person should have thirty-two special marks of perfection on his body—red palms, red soles,
and so on—and Gopā-kumāra could see all of these in the body of the Lord. Now that Gopakumāra had left behind the covering darkness of prakṛti, the Supreme Lord revealed Himself
in all His glory, more completely and vividly than Gopa-kumāra had ever seen.
BB 2.3.35
sadā guṇātītam aśeṣa-sad-guṇaṁ
nirākṛtiṁ loka-manoramākṛtim
prakṛtyādhiṣṭhātṛtayā vilāsinaṁ
tadīya-sambandha-vihīnam acyutam
sadā—always; guṇa-atītam—beyond material qualities; aśeṣa—with all; sat-guṇam—spiritual
qualities; nirākṛtim—having no form; loka—to all people; manaḥ-rama—attractive; ākṛtim—
whose form; prakṛtyā—with material nature; adhiṣṭhātṛtayā—as her Lord; vilāsinam—
performing pastimes; tadīya—with her; sambandha—connection; vihīnam—not having;
acyutam—the infallible Supreme Person.
Though always beyond material qualities, in spiritual qualities He is full; though formless, in
form attractive to all. Though never directly connected with Prakṛti, that infallible Lord
appears resplendent in her company as she performs her pastimes under His shelter.
In the paradoxical ways mentioned here, the Personality of Godhead is unique. Untouched by
the qualities of matter, He has His own countless transcendental qualities, beginning with His
affectionate concern for His devotees. He is said to have no form because He never assumes
material forms; all material forms, after all, derive from dualities (“this and not that”), with
which the Absolute Truth never has any connection. In the previous chapter Lord Mahāpuruṣa
was described as Prakṛti’s ruler, but the form of the Lord whom Gopa-kumāra is seeing now
is not her ruler but only the shelter in which she acts out her playful pastimes. He is the
Supreme Brahman, the presiding Deity of the abode of liberation, and has no contact with
material nature. Thus He is called Acyuta, the Lord whose spiritual glory is never diminished.
BB 2.3.36
tadā kiṁ karavāṇīti
jṣātuṁ neśe kathaṣcana
mahā—great; sambhrama—of reverence; santrāsa—fear; pramoda—and joy; bhara—by an
excess; vihvalaḥ—overcome; tadā—then; kim—what; karavāṇi—I should do; iti—thus;
jṣātum—to know; na īśe—I was not able; kathaṣcana—in any way.
A flood of reverence, fear, and joy overwhelmed me. At that moment I simply didn’t know
what to do.
BB 2.3.37
yady api sva-prakāśo ’sāv
paraṁ sākṣāt samīkṣyate
yadi api—although; sva-prakāśaḥ—self-manifest; asau—He; atīta—beyond; indriya—of the
senses; vṛttikaḥ—the functions; tat—His; kāruṇya—of the mercy; prabhāveṇa—by the power;
param—only; sākṣāt—directly; samīkṣyate—He is seen.
That self-manifest Lord is beyond the scope of the senses, but one can see Him directly by the
power of His mercy. There is no other way.
Only the Lord’s grace can empower one to perceive His beauty and the features of His
BB 2.3.38
naitan niścetum īśe ’yaṁ
dṛgbhyāṁ cittena vekṣyate
kiṁ vātikramya tat sarvam
ātma-bhāvena kenacit
na—not; etat—this; niścetum—to understand; īśe—I was able; ayam—He; dṛgbhyām—with
my eyes; cittena—with my mind; vā—or; īkṣyate—was being seen; kim vā—or else;
atikramya—transcending; tat—that; sarvam—all; ātma-bhāvena—by a power of the soul;
I was unable to understand whether I was seeing Him with my eyes, with my mind, or with a
power of the soul that transcended both.
BB 2.3.39
kṣaṇān nirākāram ivāvalokayan
smarāmi nīlādri-pater anugraham
kṣaṇāc ca sākāram udīkṣya pūrva-van
mahā-mahaḥ-puṣjam amuṁ labhe mudam
kṣaṇāt—at one moment; nirākāram—formless; iva—as if; avalokayan—seeing; smarāmi—I
remembered; nīlādri-pateḥ—of the Lord of Nīlādri (Jagannātha); anugraham—the mercy;
kṣaṇāt—at one moment; ca—and; sa-ākāram—with personal form; udīkṣya—seeing; pūrvavat—as before; mahā—vast; mahaḥ—of effulgence; puṣjam—mass; amum—Him; labhe—I
obtained; mudam—joy.
Although at one moment I saw Him as formless, I remembered the mercy of the Lord of
Nīlādri, and at the next moment I saw Him again in His personal form, vastly effulgent, and I
was full of joy.
The Supreme Lord whom Gopa-kumāra was perceiving did not actually become impersonal,
but when His effulgence intensified, Gopa-kumāra could see nothing but that effulgence. This
is one characteristic of the abode of liberation, that individual distinctions tend to become
obscured by the all-pervading divine light from the transcendental body of the Lord. In this
instance, however, Gopa-kumāra remembered Lord Jagannātha, who was similarly effulgent,
like a brilliant dark-blue mountain. Remembering Lord Jagannātha’s compassion, Gopakumāra thought that no one else could be as merciful as He. Then, when the Lord’s personal
form again became visible past His effulgence, Gopa-kumāra’s ecstasy increased even more.
The verbs in the Sanskrit text of this verse and the verses that follow are in the present tense
even though the verse describes a past event. This is to indicate that Gopa-kumāra spent a
long time in Mahākāla-pura, the abode of liberation.
BB 2.3.40
kadāpi tasminn evāhaṁ
līyamāno ’nukampayā
rakṣeya nija-pādābjanakhāṁśu-sparśato ’munā
kadā api—sometimes; tasmin—in that; eva—indeed; aham—I; līyamānaḥ—merging;
anukampayā—by His mercy; rakṣeya—I was saved; nija—His; pāda-abja—of the lotus feet;
nakha—from the nails; aṁśu—by the beams of light; sparśataḥ—due to the touch; amunā—
by Him.
Sometimes I would begin to merge into the Lord’s effulgence, but He mercifully saved Me
with the touch of the rays from the nails of His lotus feet.
The reddish nails of Lord Viṣṇu’s toes are like brilliant gems. They are so attractive to His
devotees that the devotees never think of giving up their personal relationships with Him to
dissolve themselves into oneness. Of course, everything about the Lord is supremely
attractive, not only His toes, but Vaiṣṇavas generally honor the Lord by beginning their
worship from His feet.
BB 2.3.41
bhinnābhinnair mahā-siddhaiḥ
sūkṣmaiḥ sūryam ivāṁśubhiḥ
vṛtaṁ bhaktair ivālokya
kadāpi prīyate manaḥ
bhinna—different; abhinnaiḥ—and nondifferent; mahā-siddhaiḥ—by perfected beings;
sūkṣmaiḥ—subtle; sūryam—the sun; iva—as if; aṁśubhiḥ—by its rays; vṛtam—surrounded;
bhaktaiḥ—by devotees; iva—as if; ālokya—seeing; kadā api—sometimes; prīyate—felt
satisfaction; manaḥ—my mind.
Sometimes my mind felt special pleasure in beholding Him surrounded by the great perfected
beings who were His devotees, at once different and nondifferent from Him. They surrounded
Him in subtle spiritual forms, like beams of light around the sun.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead always invites His part-and-parcel jīvas to share loving
reciprocations with Him, even in the abode of liberation. He kindly considers the liberated
souls who surround Him there His bhaktas, but actually they are hardly interested in personal
service. The only bhakti they offer the Lord is to decorate Him as particles of His effulgence.
Although they are eternal, indissolvable individuals, their separate personalities are now
dormant and invisible. Like all other jīvas, they are both different and nondifferent from the
Supreme, like the rays of light shining from the sun. In spiritual substance they are one with
the Lord, but they have autonomous identities, with their own consciousness, their own
bodies, and their own small capacity to control.
BB 2.3.42
ittham ānanda-sandoham
anuvindan nimagna-dhīḥ
ātmārāma ivābhūvaṁ
pūrṇa-kāma ivātha vā
ittham—thus; ānanda—of ecstasy; sandoham—an abundance; anuvindan—experiencing;
nimagna—being drowned; dhīḥ—my consciousness; ātma-ārāmaḥ—a self-satisfied sage;
iva—as if; abhūvam—I became; pūrṇa—full; kāmaḥ—in all ambitions; iva—as if; atha vā—
The huge treasure of ecstasy I in this way obtained inundated my mind. I became like a selfcontented sage or like a man whose ambitions have all been fulfilled.
Gopa-kumāra became “like” a self-contented sage or a materialist, not one in fact. Had he
actually been contented with himself and his situation, he would no longer have been driven
by the urge to seek his worshipable Lord.
BB 2.3.43
idam eva paraṁ padam
parāṁ kāṣṭhāṁ gataṁ caitad
amaṁsi paramaṁ phalam
tarka—by speculative logic; arcita—honored; vicāra-oghaiḥ—by many thoughts; idam—this;
eva—only; param padam—the supreme destination; parām—to its supreme; kāṣṭhām—limit;
gatam—gone; ca—and; etat—this; amaṁsi—I considered; paramam phalam—the ultimate
A flood of thoughts, upheld by logic, made me conclude I had reached the supreme
destination, the highest perfection of life.
BB 2.3.44
citte tad-anya-sva-prāpyajṣānam antardadhāv iva
pada—of the abode; svābhāvika—intrinsic; ānanda—of ecstasy; taraṅga—of the waves;
kṣobha—by the agitation; vihvale—which was overwhelmed; citte—in my mind; tat—than
that; anya—other; sva—my own; prāpya—of the goal; jṣānam—awareness; antardadhau—
disappeared; iva—as if.
Tossed by the waves of ecstasy intrinsic to that abode, my mind was overwhelmed, as if the
awareness of my goal had vanished.
Having worshiped Śrī Madana-gopāla for a long time, in all sorts of places, Gopa-kumāra was
familiar with Lord Madana-gopāla’s unique beauty. Why did Gopa-kumāra now think that
Mahākāla-pura and its Lord were the final goal of his life? As explained here, the powerful
influence of that realm confused him, temporarily diverting to another form of the Lord his
determination to worship Madana-gopāla.
BB 2.3.45
san-mantra-sevā-balato na kevalam
līnā kadācin nija-pūjya-devatāpādābja-sākṣād-avaloka-lālasā
śrīmat—divine; mahā-bhāgavata—of the saintly devotee; upadeśataḥ—by the instructions;
sat-mantra—of my transcendental mantra; sevā-balataḥ—on the strength of serving; na—not;
kevalam—completely; līnā—dissolved; kadācit—ever; nija—my; pūjya—worshipable;
devatā—of the Deity; pāda-abja—the lotus feet; sākṣāt—directly; avaloka—to see; lālasā—
Yet because of following the divine instructions of the great saintly devotee, and because of
the strength of my service to the transcendental mantra, my hankering to see with my own
eyes the lotus feet of my worshipable Deity never fully disappeared.
By the mercy of his divine spiritual master, Gopa-kumāra never lost his eagerness to see with
his own eyes the lotus feet of Śrī Madana-gopāla. And this eagerness was what impelled him
to travel higher and higher in search of his Lord, never wanting to stay in any place where
Madana-gopāla was absent.
BB 2.3.46
utāsya tejo-maya-pūruṣasya
cirāvalokena vivardhito ’bhūt
smṛteḥ sṛtiṁ nīta iva prakarṣāt
uta—rather; asya—at Him; tejaḥ-maya—effulgent; pūruṣasya—the Supreme Person; cira—
for a long time; avalokena—by looking; vivardhitaḥ—increased; abhūt—was; nija-iṣṭa—my
worshipable Deity; sandarśana—for seeing; dīrgha—long maintained; lobhaḥ—the greed;
smṛteḥ—of remembrance; sṛtim—to the path; nītaḥ—brought; iva—as if; prakarṣāt—being
pulled by force.
Rather, the more I looked at the effulgent Lord Mahākāla, the stronger rose my long-standing
greed to see the object of my worship. The Deity I worshiped seemed pulled by force onto the
path of my remembrance.
If Gopa-kumāra were truly interested only in Śrī Madana-gopāla, what was the value of being
in a place more exalted than Brahmaloka? The answer given here is that his vivid and
extended darśana of Lord Mahākāla intensified his remembrance of Madana-gopāla and his
hankering to see the Lord in person, not just in his heart. In other words, Gopa-kumāra was
not satisfied to worship his Lord only by passive meditation.
BB 2.3.47
tena taṁ prakaṭaṁ paśyann
api prīye na pūrva-vat
sīdāmy atha layaṁ svasya
śaṅkamānaḥ svayam-bhavam
tena—because of that (increased greed); tam—Him; prakaṭam—directly visible; paśyan—
seeing; api—although; prīye na—I did not feel satisfied; pūrva-vat—as before; sīdāmi—I felt
disturbed; atha—then; layam—dissolution; svasya—of myself; śaṅkamānaḥ—fearing;
Because of that greed, even though I beheld the Supreme Lord right before me, I could not
feel as satisfied as before. I was disturbed by the fear that I might merge into Him, as was
likely to happen in that abode.
Even though the presence of Lord Mahākāla greatly intensified Gopa-kumāra’s greed to see
Lord Madana-gopāla, Gopa-kumāra did not feel as happy here as on the other planets he had
visited. The various forms of the Supreme Lord he had seen elsewhere had not inspired a
remembrance of Madana-gopāla as intense as in Mahākāla-pura, but at least on those other
planets Gopa-kumāra had been in no danger of merging into the object of his meditation. If he
were to merge and forget his separate existence, he would also forget his desire to join Śrī
Madana-gopāla’s pastimes.
BB 2.3.48
vraja-bhūmāv ihāgatya
sādhaye ’haṁ sva-vāṣchitam
vimṛśann evam aśrauṣaṁ
vraja-bhūmau—to Vraja-bhūmi; iha—this; āgatya—returning; sādhaye—will achieve;
aham—I; sva-vāṣchitam—my desire; vimṛśan—thinking; evam—thus; aśrauṣam—I heard;
gīta—of song; vādya—and instrumental music; adbhuta—wonderful; dhvanim—the sound.
I was thinking that if I returned to this Vraja-bhūmi I would fulfill my desires. And then I
heard some wonderful singing and music.
BB 2.3.49
hṛṣṭo ’haṁ paritaḥ paśyan
vṛṣārūḍhaṁ vyalokayam
kam apy ūrdhva-padāt tatrāyāntaṁ sarva-vilakṣaṇam
hṛṣṭaḥ—enlivened; aham—I; paritaḥ—around; paśyan—looking; vṛṣa—on a bull; ārūḍham—
mounted; vyalokayam—I saw; kam api—someone; ūrdhva-padāt—from a higher region;
tatra—there; āyāntam—arriving; sarva—from everyone else; vilakṣaṇam—different.
Enlivened, looking all around, I saw someone riding on a bull—a unique person, arriving
from a higher region.
BB 2.3.50
karpūra-gauraṁ tri-dṛśaṁ dig-ambaraṁ
candrārdha-mauliṁ lalitaṁ tri-śūlinam
bhasmāṅga-rāgaṁ rucirāsthi-mālinam
karpūra—like camphor; gauram—white; tri-dṛśam—having three eyes; dik-ambaram—
dressed by the directions (naked); candra-ardha—the half moon; maulim—on his head;
lalitam—exquisite; tri-śūlinam—holding a trident; gaṅgā-jala—with water of the Gaṅgā;
amlāna—brilliant; jaṭā-āvalī—rows of matted locks; dharam—wearing; bhasma—with ashes;
aṅga—of his body; rāgam—coloring; rucira—charming; asthi—made from bones; mālinam—
wearing a garland.
Three-eyed, white like camphor, dressed only by the sky, that exquisitely beautiful person
carried a trident and bore the half moon on his head, his matted locks brilliantly adorned by
the Gaṅgā. His body was smeared with ashes and graced by a charming garland of bones.
Lord Śiva’s garland of bones was in fact auspicious and beautiful because it was made from
the bones of departed Vaiṣṇavas.
BB 2.3.51
gauryā nijāṅkāśritayānuraṣjitaṁ
divyāti-divyaiḥ kalitaṁ paricchadaiḥ
ātmānurūpaiḥ parivāra-saṣcayaiḥ
saṁsevyamānaṁ rucirākṛtīhitaiḥ
gauryā—by a woman of fair complexion; nija-aṅka—on his lap; āśritayā—who takes shelter;
anuraṣjitam—delighted; divya—than those of heaven; ati-divyaiḥ—more heavenly; kalitam—
provided; paricchadaiḥ—with paraphernalia; ātma—for him; anurūpaiḥ—suitable; parivāra—
of associates; saṣcayaiḥ—by a multitude; saṁsevyamānam—attended; rucira—attractive;
ākṛti—whose forms; īhitaiḥ—and behavior.
Sitting on his lap, a woman of fair complexion affectionately served him. Divine regalia
surrounded him, more heavenly than the riches of heaven. And many followers attended him,
their attractive forms and behavior just fitting for his service.
Upon first seeing him, Gopa-kumāra was unaware of who Lord Śiva was and so describes
him as kam api, “someone.” And although Gopa-kumāra knew nothing about Lord Śiva’s
transcendental relationship with his wife, he describes her as gaurī, since he could see with his
own eyes her beautiful golden complexion. At first sight Gopa-kumāra could recognize that
the royal umbrella, cāmara fans, and other personal accoutrements of Lord Śiva were more
excellent than those of the demigods. And suitably exalted attendants, with great devotion,
carried that umbrella, fanned Lord Śiva with the cāmaras, and performed other services for
him and his consort. The associates of Lord Śiva appeared very handsome, including Śrī
Gaṇeśa, with his large abdomen and elephant’s head. And they all conducted themselves in an
attractive manner.
By worship of Gaṇeśa or other demigods one may attain a form with, for example, a
protuberant belly and an elephant’s head, can achieve this by worshiping Gaṇeśa. But those
who worship Lord Śiva understanding that he is nondifferent from Śrī Kṛṣṇa attain beautiful
bodily forms on Lord Śiva’s planet. This is affirmed in the narration of Lord Śiva’s battle with
Andhaka in Śrī Vāmana Purāṇa, Chapter fifty-nine.
BB 2.3.52
paramaṁ vismayaṁ prāpto
harṣaṁ caitad acintayam
ko nv ayaṁ pārivārāḍhyo
bhāti mukti-padopari
paramam—great; vismayam—surprise; prāptaḥ—obtaining; harṣam—delight; ca—and;
etat—this; acintayam—I thought; kaḥ—who; nu—indeed; ayam—this; pārivāra—with such
an entourage; āḍhyaḥ—endowed; bhāti—shines; mukti-pada—the abode of liberation;
upari—from above.
Feeling the greatest surprise and delight, I thought, “Who is this, accompanied by such an
entourage, and appearing from above the abode of liberation?
BB 2.3.53
mukta-vargādhiko ’pi san
lakṣyate ’ti-sad-ācāro
mahā-viṣayavān iva
jagat—from the entire world; vilakṣaṇa—distinct; aiśvaryaḥ—whose ruling power; muktavarga—of all groups of liberated persons; adhikaḥ—the chief; api—although; san—being;
lakṣyate—he seems to be; ati—violating; sat-ācāraḥ—the rules of civilized behavior; mahā—
great; viṣaya-vān—a sense-gratifier; iva—as if.
“He looks more powerful than anyone in the material world, more excellent than all liberated
souls, yet he seems to violate the rules of civilized behavior, like a great sense-gratifier.”
It struck Gopa-kumāra as strange that even though this unique person appeared to be the
supreme ruler of the material world, the defender of religious principles, he was ignoring the
rules of proper behavior—by traveling naked, embracing his wife in public, and so on—
enjoying all kinds of sense gratification even though he seemed a fully liberated
BB 2.3.54
parānanda-bharākrāntacetās tad-darśanād aham
naman sa-parivāraṁ taṁ
kṛpayālokito ’munā
para-ānanda—of supreme ecstasy; bhara—by the weight; ākrānta—overcome; cetāḥ—my
mind; tat—him; darśanāt—from seeing; aham—I; naman—bowing down; sa-parivāram—
with his associates; tam—to him; kṛpayā—mercifully; ālokitaḥ—glanced at; amunā—by him.
My mind was overcome by the weight of the supreme ecstasy I felt from seeing him. I bowed
down to him and those who stay with him, and he gave me a compassionate glance.
BB 2.3.55
harṣa-vegād upavrajya
apṛcchaṁ tad-gaṇādhyakṣaṁ
tad-vṛttāntaṁ viśeṣataḥ
harṣa—of joy; vegāt—impelled by the force; upavrajya—approaching; śrīmat-nandīśvara—
Śrī Nandīśvara; āhvayam—named; apṛccham—I asked; tat—his; gaṇa—of the associates;
adhyakṣam—the chief; tat—of him; vṛttāntam—about the activity; viśeṣataḥ—in detail.
Impelled by joy, I approached the leader of his companions, named Śrī Nandīśvara, and asked
him in detail about this person and what he was doing.
Altogether unfamiliar with Lord Śiva, Gopa-kumāra asked Śrī Nandīśvara, “Who is this?
Where is his residence? Where is he going now?”
BB 2.3.56
sa sa-hāsam avocan māṁ
gopa-bāla na jānīṣe
śrī-śivaṁ jagad-īśvaram
saḥ—he; sa-hāsam—with laughter; avocat—told; mām—me; gopāla-upāsanā—to the worship
of Gopāla; para—who are devoted; gopa-bāla—O cowherd boy; na jānīṣe—you do not
recognize; śrī-śivam—Śrī Śiva; jagat-īśvaram—the lord of the universe.
Nandīśvara laughed and said to me, “O cowherd boy, devoted worshiper of Gopāla, don’t you
recognize Lord Śiva, the lord of the universe?
Nandīśvara found it amusing that a devotee of Lord Gopāla could be ignorant of the identity
of Lord Śiva. But since Gopa-kumāra was a simple cowherd boy, Nandīśvara thought, “He
might be so poorly informed.” By calling Lord Śiva the lord of the universe, Nandīśvara
tactfully told Gopa-kumāra that since Lord Śiva is independent he can apparently violate the
laws of civilized behavior without blame.
BB 2.3.57
bhukter mukteś ca dātāyaṁ
muktānām api sampūjyo
vaiṣṇavānāṁ ca vallabhaḥ
bhukteḥ—of enjoyment; mukteḥ—of liberation; ca—and; dātā—the giver; ayam—he;
to the
of Godhead;
muktānām—for the liberated souls; api—even; sampūjyaḥ—worshipable; vaiṣṇavānām—to
the Vaiṣṇavas; ca—and; vallabhaḥ—very dear.
“He is the giver of material enjoyment and liberation, and he expands devotion to the
Personality of Godhead. He is worshiped even by the liberated and is dear to the Vaiṣṇavas.
Lord Śiva is bhagavad-bhakti-vardhana in more than one sense. By showing a loving attitude
toward the Supreme Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Lord Śiva increases the Supreme Lord’s reciprocal love
for him. And apart from this, Lord Śiva is himself a great lord (bhagavān) who promotes the
process of devotional service to Viṣṇu. He teaches his own devotees that bhagavad-bhakti is
the supreme goal of life, greater than all others. The essential meaning of Lord Śiva’s being
bhagavad-bhakti-vardhana is that by his very words and behavior he increases for the
inhabitants of the universe their devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And so he
is very dear to the devotees of Lord Viṣṇu, who aspire for his association.
BB 2.3.58-59
TEXTS 58–59
śiva-kṛṣṇāpṛthag-dṛṣṭibhakti-labhyāt sva-lokataḥ
svānurūpāt kuverasya
sakhyur bhakti-vaśī-kṛtaḥ
kailāsādrim alaṅkartuṁ
pārvatyā priyayānayā
samaṁ parimitair yāti
priyaiḥ parivṛtair vṛtaḥ
śiva-kṛṣṇa—of Lord Śiva and Lord Kṛṣṇa; apṛthak—as nondifferent; dṛṣṭi—with the vision;
bhakti—by devotional service; labhyāt—which is obtainable; sva-lokataḥ—from his own
planet; sva-anurūpāt—which suits his nature; kuverasya—of Kuvera; sakhyuḥ—his friend;
bhakti—by the devotion; vaśī-kṛtaḥ—controlled; kailāsa-adrim—the mountain Kailāsa;
alaṅkartum—to decorate; pārvatyā—by Pārvatī; priyayā—his beloved; anayā—her; samam—
accompanied; parimitaiḥ—who are gentle; yāti—he goes; priyaiḥ—dear; parivṛtaiḥ—by
associates; vṛtaḥ—surrounded.
“Drawn by the devotion of his friend Kuvera, he is traveling with his beloved Pārvatī and
dear gentle companions to grace Mount Kailāsa with his presence. He came from his own
planet, as transcendental as he, an abode reached through devotion by those who see him and
Lord Kṛṣṇa as nondifferent.”
Here Nandīśvara explains where Lord Śiva comes from and where is he is going. Lord Śiva’s
own planet, beyond the coverings of the material universe, is attainable by those who worship
him and Lord Viṣṇu on the same level. That transcendental world is suitable for Lord Śiva’s
pleasure, equipped as it is with all kinds of eternal and unlimited opulence. Yet Lord Śiva
gracefully accepts the friendship of the demigod Kuvera, the original proprietor of Mount
Kailāsa, and submits himself to Kuvera’s devotion. And so Lord Śiva is on his way to visit
Kailāsa in the company of Pārvatī, his consort. Since Pārvatī, the mother of the universe, is
Lord Śiva’s supreme energy, Gopa-kumāra should not be shocked to see her sitting on his lap
in public. But why is Lord Śiva traveling with such a small entourage? Although on his own
planet he has many more devotees, for this trip he has chosen only his dearmost associates
because the Kailāsa within the material world can accommodate only some of his opulence
and entourage.
BB 2.3.60
śrī-gopa-kumāra uvāca
tad ākarṇya prahṛṣṭo ’ham
aicchaṁ tasmān maheśvarāt
prasādaṁ kam api prāptum
ātmano hṛdayaṅ-gamam
śrī-gopa-kumāraḥ uvāca—Śrī Gopa-kumāra said; tat—that; ākarṇya—hearing; prahṛṣṭaḥ—
delighted; aham—I; aiccham—wanted; tasmāt—from him; maheśvarāt—Lord Maheśvara;
prasādam—favor; kam api—a certain; prāptum—to obtain; ātmanaḥ—my; hṛdayamgamam—cherished.
Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: Delighted to hear this, I was eager to obtain Lord Śiva’s grace and
fulfill a long-cherished desire.
Gopa-kumāra was eager to understand how Lord Śiva is nondifferent from Śrī Madanagopāla-deva. Although Gopa-kumāra’s natural inclination was toward the lotus feet of
Madana-gopāla, he also found himself unavoidably attracted to this amazing person Lord
Śiva, whom he was seeing for the first time. Gopa-kumāra would be grateful if Lord Śiva
were to enlighten him about how Lord Śiva and Lord Kṛṣṇa are nondifferent.
BB 2.3.61
jṣātvā bhagavatā tena
dṛṣṭyādiṣṭasya nandinaḥ
upadeśena śuddhena
svayaṁ me ’sphurad aṣjasā
jṣātvā—being understood; bhagavatā—by the lord; tena—him; dṛṣṭyā—with a glance;
ādiṣṭasya—who was ordered; nandinaḥ—of Nandīśvara; upadeśena—by the advice;
śuddhena—pure; svayam—automatically; me—to me; asphurat—were revealed; aṣjasā—
Lord Śiva, reading my thoughts, ordered Nandīśvara with a knowing glance, and through
Nandīśvara’s pure guidance the facts easily revealed themselves to me.
Lord Śiva, the best of mystics, knew at once what Gopa-kumāra was thinking and simply by
glancing at Nandīśvara conveyed his desire that Nandīśvara explain the matter. Śrīla Sanātana
Gosvāmī says in his commentary to this verse that nandinaḥ can refer to Nandīśvara, the
principal attendant of Lord Śiva, or else to the bull Nandī, Lord Śiva’s carrier, who was born
from a partial expansion of the Supreme Lord.
BB 2.3.62
abhinnaḥ śrī-maheśo ’yam
uta tad-bhāva-vardhanaḥ
śrīmat-madana-gopālāt—from Śrīmān Madana-gopāla; nija—my; prāṇa—like the life air;
iṣṭa—worshipable; daivatāt—the Deity; abhinnaḥ—nondifferent; śrī-maheśaḥ—Śrī Śiva
Maheśa; ayam—he; uta—indeed; tat—for Him (Madana-gopāla); bhāva—love; vardhanaḥ—
who increases.
This Lord Śiva, I realized, is nondifferent from Madana-gopāla, the Deity I worship, the Lord
more dear to me than life itself. Lord Śiva serves the cause of love for my Lord by promoting
it everywhere.
There is nothing wrong with being attracted to Lord Śiva. Since he is nondifferent from Lord
Kṛṣṇa, devotion offered to him is also devotion to Kṛṣṇa. More precisely, when one satisfies
Lord Śiva by pure devotion to him, Lord Śiva helps one become more devoted to Kṛṣṇa.
BB 2.3.63
sukhaṁ tad-gaṇa-madhye ’haṁ
praviṣṭaḥ prīṇito ’khilaiḥ
śaivaiḥ śrī-nandino ’śrauṣaṁ
vṛttam etad vilakṣaṇam
sukham—happily; tat—of him (Lord Śiva); gaṇa—of the company of associates; madhye—in
the midst; aham—I; praviṣṭaḥ—entered; prīṇitaḥ—treated with affection; akhilaiḥ—by all;
śaivaiḥ—the devotees of Lord Śiva; śrī-nandinaḥ—from Śrī Nandīśvara; aśrauṣam—I heard;
vṛttam—information; etat—this; vilakṣaṇam—unique.
I happily entered among Lord Śiva’s companions and was treated with affection by all his
devotees. From Śrī Nandīśvara I heard these unique facts:
BB 2.3.64
sadaika-rūpo bhagavān śivo ’yaṁ
vasan sva-loke prakaṭaḥ sadaiva
vilokyate tatra nivāsa-tuṣṭais
tad-eka-niṣṭhaiḥ satataṁ nijeṣṭaiḥ
sadā—always; eka-rūpaḥ—in one and the same form; bhagavān śivaḥ—Lord Śiva; ayam—
he; vasan—living; sva-loke—on his own planet; prakaṭaḥ—visible; sadā—always; eva—
indeed; vilokyate—is seen; tatra—there; nivāsa—with residence; tuṣṭaiḥ—who are fully
satisfied; tat—to him; eka—exclusively; niṣṭhaiḥ—dedicated; satatam—always; nija-iṣṭaiḥ—
by his worshipers.
The great Lord Śiva has one eternal transcendental form. Dwelling in his own abode, he is
always visible to his exclusive worshipers, who are pleased to live there.
According to Śrī Nandīśvara, Lord Śiva remains always in one form, meaning that he is not
like Lord Mahākāla, sometimes formless and sometimes having a personal form, nor does he
expand himself as Lord Viṣṇu does, into the different forms of a fish, a tortoise, and so on. In
the pastimes Lord Śiva performs for the pleasure of his devotees, he sometimes appears
disguised as a hunter or a fisherman, but he does not transform into different species of life.
Because Lord Śiva’s followers can rest assured he is not going to change his appearance, they
are always satisfied. He is always visible on his planet, not like Lord Viṣṇu, who often leaves
His abodes to visit other places. Lord Śiva’s dear devotees can always see their lord, unlike
the devotees of Śrī Viṣṇu, Śrī Yajṣeśvara, and the other incarnations of the Personality of
Godhead on Svargaloka, Maharloka, Tapoloka, and Satyaloka.
This is the explanation given by Śrī Nandīśvara, but more precisely Lord Śiva is always in the
same form in the sense that his body is always purely spiritual, sac-cid-ānanda, and never
subject to change. He is always present in his own abode, beyond the material creation, and so
is always visible in that abode for the pleasure of his devotees.
BB 2.3.65
svābhinna-bhagavad-bhaktilāmpaṭyaṁ grāhayann iva
sadā ramayati svīyān
sva—from himself; abhinna—as nondifferent; bhagavat—to the Supreme Lord; bhakti—for
devotional service; lāmpaṭyam—greediness; grāhayan—inducing; iva—as if; sadā—always;
ramayati—he gives pleasure; svīyān—to his associates; nṛtya—of dancing; gīta—singing;
ādi—and so on; kautukaiḥ—with festivals.
With festivals of singing, dancing, and so on, he always gives pleasure to his companions, as
if to make them greedy for the Supreme Lord’s devotional service, in which they see that he
and Lord Viṣṇu are nondifferent.
Lord Śiva’s festivals resound with congregational chanting of Lord Viṣṇu’s names, and his
devotees can be heard crying out in great reverence and love for Lord Viṣṇu. It appears that
Lord Śiva holds such festivals for the benefit of others, to induce them to take up worship of
Lord Viṣṇu as nondifferent from himself, but in fact Lord Śiva is himself fully absorbed in
viṣṇu-bhakti because like Nārada Muni he is a bhaktāvatāra, an empowered incarnation of the
Lord in the role of the Lord’s devotee.
BB 2.3.66
bhagavantaṁ sahasrāsyaṁ
śeṣa-mūrtiṁ nija-priyam
nityam arcayati premṇā
dāsa-vaj jagad-īśvaraḥ
bhagavantam—the Supreme Lord; sahasra-āsyam—thousand-faced; śeṣa-mūrtim—in the
form of Śeṣa; nija-priyam—his favorite; nityam—constantly; arcayati—he worships;
premṇā—with love; dāsa-vat—like a servant; jagat-īśvaraḥ—the lord of the universe.
Although he is the lord of the universe, he always lovingly worships his favorite form of the
Supreme Lord, Śeṣa, He of a thousand faces, as if a humble servant.
Lord Śiva feels a special affinity with the Ananta Śeṣa expansion of Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa because
both Lord Śiva and Śeṣa are presiding lords of the mode of ignorance. This is depicted in the
Fifth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (5.17.16), in the account of how Lord Viṣṇu is worshiped
on Ilāvṛta-varṣa:
bhavānī-nāthaiḥ strī-gaṇārbuda-sahasrair avarudhyamāno bhagavataś catur-mūrter mahāpuruṣasya turīyāṁ tāmasīṁ mūrtiṁ prakṛtim ātmanaḥ saṅkarṣaṇa-saṁjṣām ātma-samādhirūpeṇa sannidhāpyaitad abhigṛṇan bhava upadhāvati.
“In Ilāvṛta-varṣa, Lord Śiva is always encircled by ten billion maidservants of Goddess Durgā,
who minister to him. The quadruple expansion of the Supreme Lord consists of Vāsudeva,
Pradyumna, Aniruddha, and Saṅkarṣaṇa. Saṅkarṣaṇa, the fourth expansion, is certainly
transcendental, but because His activities of destruction in the material world are in the mode
of ignorance, He is known as tāmasī, the Lord’s form in the mode of ignorance. Lord Śiva,
knowing that the original cause of his own existence is Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa, always meditates
upon Saṅkarṣaṇa in trance by chanting the following mantra.”
As stated by Lord Śiva in his prayers in the Fifth Canto, the manifestation of Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa
as Ananta Śeṣa has thousands of hoods. And so this form is different in appearance from the
form of Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa worshiped in the covering shell of ahaṅkāra, false ego. In Lord
Śiva’s abode, the region of ahaṅkāra, Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa has four arms, like Śrī Pradyumna and
Aniruddha. Lord Śiva’s abode is thus a very special place.
BB 2.3.67
jṣātvemaṁ śiva-lokasya
viśeṣaṁ sarvato ’dhikam
pramodaṁ paramaṁ prāpto
’py apūrṇaṁ hṛd alakṣayam
paramam—utmost; prāptaḥ—attaining; api—although; apūrṇam—not complete; hṛt—my
heart; alakṣayam—I noticed.
Learning about this unique excellence of Śivaloka, I felt exceedingly happy. Yet my heart, I
knew, was not full.
Hearing all this made Gopa-kumāra eager to see Śivaloka, but his persistent desire to find Śrī
Madana-gopāla constrained him.
BB 2.3.68
tan-nidānam anāsādya
sadyo ’jṣāsiṣam āmṛśan
tat—of that; nidānam—the cause; anāsādya—not discerning; sadyaḥ—quickly; ajṣāsiṣam—I
understood; āmṛśan—after reflection; śrīmat-guru—of my divine spiritual master; prasāda—
by the mercy; āpta—received; vastu—to the object; sevā—of service; prabhāvataḥ—by the
I couldn’t discern the cause of that feeling, but by the mercy of my divine spiritual master I
had received the transcendental mantra, and by the power of my service to the mantra, after
some reflection I quickly understood.
By virtue of constantly meditating with full sincerity on the ten-syllable gopāla-mantra, Gopakumāra could understand in a moment the essence of his predicament.
BB 2.3.69
mām ayaṁ bādhate kila
śrīmat-madana-gopāla-deva—of Śrīmān Madana-gopāla-deva; pāda-sarojayoḥ—of the two
lotus feet; līlā-ādi—of the pastimes and so on; anubhava—of experience; abhāvaḥ—the
absence; mām—me; ayam—this; bādhate—was troubling; kila—indeed.
I was disturbed because of forgetting the lotus feet of Śrīmān Madana-gopāla, and His
pastimes and other attractive features.
In this circumstance Gopa-kumāra was unable to focus his mind on Śrī Madana-gopāla’s
pastimes, beauty, sweetness, and compassion.
BB 2.3.70
abodhayaṁ mano ’nena
maheśenaiva sā khalu
kṛtā mūrti-viśeṣataḥ
abodhayam—I informed; manaḥ—my mind; anena—by him; maheśena—Lord Maheśa;
eva—himself; sā—these; khalu—indeed; līlā—of pastimes; viśeṣa-vaicitrī—special varieties;
kṛtā—has performed; mūrti-viśeṣataḥ—in a special form.
I told my mind that it is Lord Śiva himself who performs these wonderfully varied pastimes in
the special form of Lord Gopāla.
BB 2.3.71
tathāpy asvastham ālakṣya
sva-cittam idam abruvam
yady asmin nānubhūyeta
sā tad-rūpādi-mādhurī
tathā api—still; asva-stham—unsettled; ālakṣya—seeing; sva-cittam—my mind; idam—this;
abruvam—I said; yadi—if; asmin—in him (Lord Śiva); na—not; anubhūyeta—is perceived;
sā—it; tat—His; rūpa-ādi—of the beauty and so on; mādhurī—the sweetness.
But seeing my mind still unsettled, I told it, “If you fail to perceive something in Lord Śiva , it
must be the rare sweetness of Gopāla’s beauty and His other such qualities.
BB 2.3.72
tathāpi dīrgha-vāṣchā te
’nugrahād asya setsyati
acirād iti manyasva
tathā api—nonetheless; dīrgha—long-held; vāṣchā—desire; te—your; anugrahāt—by the
mercy; asya—his (Śiva’s); setsyati—will be achieved; acirāt—soon; iti—thus; manyasva—
please know; sva—for you; prasāda—by his favor; viśeṣataḥ—special.
“Nonetheless, by Lord Śiva’s mercy your long-held desire will soon be fulfilled. By his
special favor toward you, be assured, this will be so.”
BB 2.3.73
evaṁ tuṣṭa-manās tasya
tatra kenāpi hetunā
viśrāntasya maheśasya
pārśve ’tiṣṭhaṁ kṣaṇaṁ sukham
evam—thus; tuṣṭa—pacified; manāḥ—my mind; tasya—of him (Lord Śiva); tatra—there;
kena api—for some; hetunā—reason; viśrāntasya—who was resting; maheśasya—of Lord
Maheśa; pārśve—by the side; atiṣṭham—I stayed; kṣaṇam—for a short time; sukham—
My mind was thus appeased, and I was happy to stay awhile by the side of Lord Śiva, who for
some reason chose to take rest before going on with his journey.
Why Lord Śiva rested in Mahākāla-pura before proceeding to Kailāsa is disclosed in the next
BB 2.3.74
tarhy eva bhagavan dūre
keṣām api mahātmanām
saṅgīta-dhvanir atyantamadhuraḥ kaścid udgataḥ
tarhi eva—just then; bhagavan—my lord; dūre—from a distance; keṣām api—of some;
mahā-ātmanām—great souls; saṅgīta—of singing; dhvaniḥ—the sound; atyanta—extremely;
madhuraḥ—sweet; kaścit—certain; udgataḥ—arose.
Just then, my lord, I heard from a distance the extremely sweet melodies of the singing of
great souls.
Gopa-kumāra calls his disciple bhagavān, showing deep respect, because the disciple is a
Mathurā brāhmaṇa and is now blessed with the supreme good fortune of being engaged in the
worship of Lord Madana-gopāla.
BB 2.3.75
taṁ śrutvā paramānandasindhau magno maheśvaraḥ
pravṛtto nartituṁ svayam
tam—that; śrutvā—hearing; parama-ānanda—of great ecstasy; sindhau—in an ocean;
magnaḥ—drowning; maheśvaraḥ—Lord Maheśvara; mahā-prema—of elevated love of God;
vikāra—transformations; āttaḥ—assuming; pravṛttaḥ—began; nartitum—to dance; svayam—
Hearing that sound, Lord Śiva was swept away in an ocean of great ecstasy. Under the spell of
intense love of God, he began to dance, alone.
Whatever this sound was, it at once caused transcendental symptoms in the body of Lord
Śiva, symptoms of profound transformations in his mind—trembling, perspiration, choking
of the voice, standing of the bodily hair on end, falling to the ground, and more. These
appeared spontaneously, beyond his conscious control. He then started to dance, though no
one around him was dancing.
BB 2.3.76
pati-vratottamā sā tu
devī nandy-ādibhiḥ saha
prabhum utsāhayām āsa
pati-vratā—of wives who are faithful to their husbands; uttamā—the greatest; sā—she; tu—
and; devī—Devī; nandī—by Nandīśvara; ādibhiḥ—and others; saha—joined; prabhum—the
lord; utsāhayām āsa—encouraged; vādya—with musical accompaniment; saṅkīrtana—
chanting of the Supreme Lord’s names; ādibhiḥ—and so on.
His most faithful wife, Devī, and his companions headed by Nandīśvara added to the
enthusiasm of their lord by playing music, chanting the Supreme Lord’s names, and so on.
Far from resenting her husband’s losing his composure, the goddess Pārvatī, the most faithful
of chaste wives, encouraged him, following his lead. Even while still sitting on his lap, before
he stood up to dance, she began to accompany him with music.
BB 2.3.77
sadya evāgatāṁs tatrādrākṣaṁ cāru-catur-bhujān
sadyaḥ eva—suddenly; āgatān—who had arrived; tatra—there; adrākṣam—I saw; cāru—
attractive; catuḥ-bhujān—persons with four arms; śrīmat—of good fortune; kaiśora—youth;
saundarya—beauty; mādhurya—and charm; vibhava—with the assets; ācitān—adorned.
Then suddenly I saw a group of attractive four-armed persons arrive, adorned with all the
opulences of youth, charm, beauty, and good fortune.
Some of the attendants who sang at Lord Śiva’s side as he danced had four arms also, but the
newly arrived four-armed persons were exceptionally beautiful.
BB 2.3.78
bhūṣā—their ornaments; bhūṣaṇa—ornamenting; gātra—of their limbs; aṁśu—of rays of
effulgence; chaṭā—by the mass; ācchādita—obscured; śaivakān—the Śaivites; nija-īśvara—of
their Lord; mahā-kīrti—the sublime glories; gāna—of singing; ānanda—blissful; rasa—in the
taste; āplutān—immersed.
Their limbs so effulgent as to decorate their very ornaments and make the Śaivites seem
invisible, those four-armed persons were immersed in the blissful rasa of singing the sublime
glories of their Lord.
BB 2.3.79
anirvācya-tamāṁś cetohāri-sarva-paricchadān
saṅgatān pūrva-dṛṣṭais taiś
caturbhiḥ sanakādibhiḥ
anirvācya-tamān—most indescribable; cetaḥ-hāri—enchanting; sarva—all; paricchadān—
whose paraphernalia; saṅgatān—accompanied; pūrva—before; dṛṣṭaiḥ—who had been seen;
taiḥ—by those; caturbhiḥ—four; sanaka-ādibhiḥ—led by Sanaka.
All their ornaments and accoutrements were beautiful beyond words. And in the company of
those persons were the four brothers I had seen before, led by Sanaka.
Although Sanaka and his brothers reside on Tapoloka, where Gopa-kumāra had met them
before, they are as exalted as residents of Brahmaloka and regions even higher, because they
are empowered incarnations of the Supreme Lord.
BB 2.3.80
nājṣāsiṣaṁ kim apy antar
bahiś cānyan nija-priyam
tat—them; darśana—from seeing; svabhāva—spontaneously; uttha—derived; praharṣa—by
joy; ākṛṣṭa—attracted; mānasaḥ—my mind; na ajṣāsiṣam—I was not aware; kim api—of
anything; antaḥ—internally; bahiḥ—externally; ca—and; anyat—other; nija—to myself;
So attracted was my mind by the spontaneous joy of seeing them that I was aware of nothing
but them, internally or externally, not even things most dear to me.
BB 2.3.81
kṣaṇāt svastho ’py aho teṣāṁ
dāsatvam api cetasā
nāśakaṁ yācituṁ bhītyā
lajjayā ca su-durghaṭam
kṣaṇāt—after a moment; sva-sthaḥ—returned to normal consciousness; api—although; aho—
oh; teṣām—of them; dāsatvam—for becoming a servant; api—even; cetasā—mentally; na
aśakam—I was not able; yācitum—to ask; bhītyā—out of fear; lajjayā—out of
embarrassment; ca—and; su-durghaṭam—most improbable.
After a moment I came back to normal consciousness. But, oh, I couldn’t bring myself to ask
them to make me their servant. I felt too afraid and embarrassed to ask such an unlikely
blessing, even silently within my mind.
Gopa-kumāra thought it would be offensive for such an insignificant person as he to ask for
the exalted position of a servant of the Vaikuṇṭha messengers. So he couldn’t summon the
courage to submit his request.
BB 2.3.82-83
TEXTS 82–83
eṣā hi lālasā nūnaṁ
kṛpaṇaṁ mām abādhata
sambhāṣerann ime kiṁ māṁ
śivasya kṛpayā sakṛt
kutratyāḥ katame vaite
kṛpāpāṅgena pāntu mām
yān āliṅgya bhṛśaṁ rudraḥ
prema-mūrcchām ayaṁ vrajet
eṣā—this; hi—indeed; lālasā—hankering; nūnam—certainly; kṛpaṇam—wretched; mām—
me; abādhata—troubled; sambhāṣeran—might speak; ime—these persons; kim—whether;
mām—to me; śivasya—of Lord Śiva; kṛpayā—by the mercy; sakṛt—one time; kutratyāḥ—
somewhere; katame—some; vā—or; ete—of them; kṛpā—of mercy; apāṅgena—with a
sidelong glance; pāntu—they might save; mām—me; yān—whom; āliṅgya—embracing;
bhṛśam—suddenly; rudraḥ—Lord Śiva; prema—of pure love; mūrcchām—into a swoon;
ayam—he; vrajet—could go.
Simply by embracing them Lord Śiva could suddenly go into a swoon of prema. And in my
wretchedness a certain longing troubled me—a longing that just once, by the mercy of Lord
Śiva, these persons might somehow talk to me, or on some pretext might save me by the
mercy of their sidelong glance.
Gopa-kumāra thought that only the mercy of these wonderful persons would save him from
dying untimely out of frustration. Without even knowing who they were and from where they
had come, he was convinced they were great souls.
BB 2.3.84
jṣātvā devyomayeritaḥ
gaṇeśo ’kathayac chanaiḥ
iti—this; ādi—and so on; mat—my; manaḥ—of the mind; vṛttam—the activity; jṣātvā—
understanding; devyā—by the goddess; umayā—Umā; īritaḥ—moved; śiva—of Lord Śiva;
akathayat—addressed; śanaiḥ—gently.
The goddess Umā, who always acts in accord with Lord Śiva’s heart, understood what I was
thinking. She then had Gaṇeśa gently address me.
Gaṇeśa spoke to Gopa-kumāra in a quiet voice because what he was about to say was too
confidential for all the companions of Lord Śiva to hear. Lord Śiva’s consort Pārvatī, or Umā,
always present in her husband’s heart, acts only with his sanction.
BB 2.3.85
śrī-gaṇeśa uvāca
ete vaikuṇṭha-nāthasya
śrī-kṛṣṇasya mahā-prabhoḥ
pārṣadāḥ prāpta-sārūpyā
vaikuṇṭhād āgatāḥ kila
śrī-gaṇeśaḥ uvāca—Śrī Gaṇeśa said; ete—these; vaikuṇṭha-nāthasya—of the ruler of
Vaikuṇṭha; śrī-kṛṣṇasya—Śrī Kṛṣṇa; mahā-prabhoḥ—the Supreme Lord; pārṣadāḥ—
associates; prāpta—who have attained; sārūpyāḥ—transcendental forms similar to the Lord’s;
vaikuṇṭhāt—from Vaikuṇṭha; āgatāḥ—come; kila—indeed.
Śrī Gaṇeśa said: These are associates of the ruler of Vaikuṇṭha, the Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
They have attained bodily forms similar to His and have come here from Vaikuṇṭha itself.
Here the word kila means “Certainly this is true. You should not doubt that they have come
from the spiritual world.”
BB 2.3.86-87
TEXTS 86–87
paśyeme ’py apare yānti
brahmaṇo ’dhikṛte ’lpake
brahmāṇḍe catur-āsyasya
tathāmī dūrataḥ pare
amī cāṣṭa-mukhasyaitaddvi-guṇe yānti vegataḥ
amī tu ṣoḍaśāsyasya
brahmāṇḍe dvi-guṇe tataḥ
paśya—just see; ime—these; api—also; apare—others; yānti—are going; brahmaṇaḥ—by
Brahmā; adhikṛte—presided over; alpake—small; brahmāṇḍe—in the universe; catuḥāsyasya—who has four heads; tathā—also; amī—these; dūrataḥ—further away; pare—others;
amī—they; ca—and; aṣṭa-mukhasya—of an eight-headed Brahmā; etat—than him; dviguṇe—in a universe twice bigger; yānti—are going; vegataḥ—swiftly; amī—these; tu—and;
ṣoḍaśa-āsyasya—of a sixteen-headed Brahmā; brahmāṇḍe—in the universe; dvi-guṇe—twice
bigger; tataḥ—than that.
Just see these other Vaikuṇṭha companions of the Lord, traveling in this small universe ruled
by four-headed Brahmā. And further away those others, moving swiftly in the universe of an
eight-headed Brahmā, a world twice as large. And those others in the world of a Brahmā with
sixteen heads, a world twice as large again.
To show that these visitors from Vaikuṇṭha were indeed extraordinary, Śrī Gaṇeśa pointed out
more of them entering the other side of the universe, a great distance away, on some other
mission. And beyond this relatively small universe of four-headed Brahmā, still other
Vaikuṇṭha messengers were visiting the world of an eight-headed Brahmā, which was twice
as big as this one, or one billion yojanas in diameter. They were traveling swiftly (vegataḥ)
because that universe is so large. Gaṇeśa further showed the same thing happening in
universes still larger.
BB 2.3.88-89
TEXTS 88–89
ity evaṁ koṭi-koṭīnāṁ
brahmaṇāṁ mahatāṁ kramāt
gacchato līlayā tat-tadanurūpa-paricchadān
gaṇeśo ’darśayat tān māṁ
bahuśo dṛṅ-manoharān
iti evam—thus; koṭi-koṭīnām—millions and billions; brahmaṇām—of Brahmās; mahatām—
huge; kramāt—one after another; koṭi-koṭi—millions and billions; mukha-abjānām—with
lotus faces; tādṛk—such; brahmāṇḍa—in universes; koṭiṣu—millions; gacchataḥ—moving;
līlayā—playfully; tat-tat—for each one; anurūpa—suitable; paricchadān—whose equipment;
gaṇeśaḥ—Lord Ganeśa; adarśayat—showed; tān—them; mām—to me; bahuśaḥ—many;
dṛk—to the eyes; manaḥ—and mind; harān—attractive.
In this way Gaṇeśa showed me many Vaikuṇṭha companions of the Lord traveling with ease
in the millions and billions of universes of multitudes of huge Brahmās, who had millions and
billions of lotus faces. The Vaikuṇṭha devotees, attractive to the eyes and mind, all had
suitable bodies and were suitably equipped for the universes they were visiting.
One after another, Gaṇeśa pointed out messengers from Vaikuṇṭha in the universes of a
Brahmā with 32 heads, 64 heads, 128 heads, and so on. Gopa-kumāra could perceive no end
to these countless universes.
That there are in fact material universes beyond counting is stated in scriptures such as
kvāhaṁ tamo-mahad-ahaṁ-kha-carāgni-vār-bhūsaṁveṣṭitāṇḍa-ghaṭa-sapta-vitasti-kāyaḥ
kvedṛg-vidhāvigaṇitāṇḍa-parāṇu-caryāvātādhva-roma-vivarasya ca te mahitvam
“What am I, a small creature measuring seven spans of my own hand? I am enclosed in a
potlike universe composed of material nature, the total material energy, false ego, ether, air,
water, and earth. And what is Your glory? Unlimited universes pass through the pores of Your
body just as particles of dust pass through the openings of a screened window.” (Bhāgavatam
dyu-pataya eva te na yayur antam anantaayā
tvam api yad-antarāṇḍa-nicayā nanu sāvaraṇāḥ
kha iva rajāṁsi vānti vayasā saha yac chrutayas
tvayi hi phalanty atan-nirasanena bhavan-nidhanāḥ
“Because You are unlimited, neither the lords of heaven nor even You Yourself can ever
reach the end of Your glories. The countless universes, each enveloped in its shell, are
compelled by the wheel of time to wander within You, like particles of dust blowing about in
the sky. And the śrutis, following their method of eliminating everything separate from the
Supreme, become successful by revealing You as their final conclusion.” (Bhāgavatam
kṣity-ādibhir eṣa kilāvṛtaḥ
saptabhir daśa-guṇottarair aṇḍa-kośaḥ
yatra pataty aṇu-kalpaḥ
sahāṇḍa-koṭi-koṭibhis tad anantaḥ
“Every universe is covered by seven layers—earth, water, fire, air, sky, the total energy, and
false ego—each ten times greater than the one previous. Besides our universe there are
innumerable others, and although unlimitedly large they move about like atoms in You.
Therefore You are called unlimited [ananta].” (Bhāgavatam 6.16.37)
Gopa-kumāra could easily see into all the material universes from where he stood in the abode
of liberation because that realm is free from any covering of material energy. In each
universe, he saw, the Vaikuṇṭha messengers had assumed forms with a different size and
showed potencies just suitable for that universe. Had the visitors from Vaikuṇṭha not made
themselves appear similar in size and form to the inhabitants of the universe they were
visiting, those inhabitants would not receive them with the respect deserved by representatives
of Lord Nārāyaṇa.
BB 2.3.90-91
TEXTS 90–91
ete hi mṛtyu-kāle ’pi
jihvāgre śrotra-vartma vā
kathaṣcit sakṛd-āptena
nāmābhāsena ca prabhoḥ
bhaktān kṛtsna-bhayāt pāntas
tanvanto bhaktim ujjvalām
sarvatra vicaranty ātmecchayā bhakty-eka-vallabhāḥ
ete—they; hi—certainly; mṛtyu—of death; kāle—at the time; api—even; jihvā—of the
tongue; agre—on the tip; śrotra—of the sense of hearing; vartma—on the path; vā—or;
kathaṣcit—somehow; sakṛt—once; āptena—obtained; nāma-ābhāsena—by a shadow of the
holy name; ca—and; prabhoḥ—of the Lord; bhaktān—devotees; kṛtsna—all; bhayāt—from
fear; pāntaḥ—protecting; tanvantaḥ—spreading; bhaktim—devotional service; ujjvalām—
most excellent; sarvatra—everywhere; vicaranti—they travel; ātma-icchayā—as they desire;
bhakti—to devotional service; eka—only; vallabhāḥ—dedicated.
Śrī Gaṇeśa continued: These persons cherish only devotional service to the Lord. They travel
as they please, spreading pure devotion everywhere. They save the Lord’s devotees from all
fears, even at the time of death, if those devotees have but once had even a reflection of the
Lord’s name on the tip of their tongues or the path to their ears.
Here Śrī Gaṇeśa explains why the messengers of Vaikuṇṭha visit all the universes. Acting on
their own initiative, they travel everywhere to spread devotional service to the Supreme Lord,
eager to distribute fearlessness to the Lord’s devotees. Even though Vaiṣṇavas have nothing
to fear from anything material, they still fear obstructions to their bhakti. The Vaikuṇṭha-vāsīs
always endeavor to help Vaiṣṇavas everywhere overcome impediments to devotional
progress. They protect anyone who has at least once chanted or heard the holy name of Lord
Viṣṇu, or even a shadow of His name uttered neglectfully or in jest, contempt, or pain.
BB 2.3.92
bhaktāvatārās tasyaite
catvāro naiṣṭhikottamāḥ
paribhramanti lokānāṁ
hitārthaṁ pārṣadā iva
bhakta-avatārāḥ—incarnations as devotees; tasya—of Him; ete—these; catvāraḥ—four;
naiṣṭhika—of lifelong celibates; uttamāḥ—the best; paribhramanti—they wander; lokānām—
of the worlds; hita-artham—for the benefit; pārṣadāḥ—personal associates; iva—like.
And these four brothers, the best of lifelong celibates, are the Supreme Lord’s incarnations as
devotees. They wander for the benefit of all the worlds, just like the Lord’s Vaikuṇṭha
BB 2.3.93
vasanti ca tapo-loke
prabhuṁ nārāyaṇaṁ vinā
anāthānām iva kṣemaṁ
vahantas tan-nivāsinām
vasanti—they live; ca—and; tapaḥ-loke—on Tapoloka; prabhum—their Lord; nārāyaṇam—
Nārāyaṇa; vinā—without; anāthānām—who have no master; iva—as if; kṣemam—security;
vahantaḥ—bring; tat—there; nivāsinām—to those who live.
They live on Tapoloka, where they give reassurance and security to the residents, who at
times feel as if helpless in the absence of their Lord Nārāyaṇa.
Gopa-kumāra might wonder why the self-contented Kumāra sages had accompanied the
benevolent visitors from Vaikuṇṭha. To answer this doubt, Śrī Gaṇeśa speaks texts 92 through
95. The messengers of Vaikuṇṭha are servants of Lord Vaikuṇṭha-nātha, and the four Kumāras
are empowered śakty-āveśa avatāras of the same Lord. By personal example, therefore, the
Kumāras promote the cause of Lord Nārāyaṇa’s devotional service wherever they go. They
spend most of their time on Tapoloka because the celibate masters of yoga who reside there
depend on their guidance. The Kumāras teach them the paths of yoga and also create for them
the highest good fortune by speaking about the Supreme Lord and engaging them in
congregational chanting of His glories. As expressed in this verse by the word iva, when Lord
Viṣṇu is absent from Tapoloka the residents suffer as if they lose contact with Him, but in
their meditation they always see Him.
BB 2.3.94-95
TEXTS 94–95
gatvā samprati vaikuṇṭhe
bhagavantaṁ tam ālokya
saṁyojyātmānam āgatāḥ
pibanto bhakta-saṅgatyā
harer bhaktyā mahā-rasam
gatvā—having gone; samprati—now; vaikuṇṭhe—to Vaikuṇṭha; sarva-ākarṣaka—allattractive; sat-guṇam—whose transcendental qualities; bhagavantam—the Supreme Lord;
tam—Him; ālokya—seeing; mokṣa—of liberation; ānanda—the bliss; viḍambinā—which
ridicules; nirbhara—extreme; ānanda—of bliss; pūreṇa—with a flood; saṁyojya—filling;
ātmānam—themselves; āgatāḥ—having come; pibantaḥ—drinking; bhakta—of the devotees;
saṅgatyā—in the association; hareḥ—of Lord Hari; bhaktyāḥ—of devotional service; mahārasam—the sublime nectar.
These brothers have just gone to Vaikuṇṭha and seen the Supreme Lord, whose transcendental
qualities are all-attractive. They filled themselves with a limitless flood of ecstasy that
ridicules the bliss of liberation, and they drank the sublime nectar of pure devotion to Lord
Hari in the company of His devotees.
Sanaka-kumāra and his brothers were traveling with the messengers of Vaikuṇṭha because the
four brothers had just been there themselves and were returning from their visit. They are
ātmārāmas, self-satisfied sages, but the transcendental qualities of Lord Viṣṇu attract
everyone, even the ātmārāmas. In Vaikuṇṭha the Kumāras had seen the Supreme Lord in
person and felt ecstasy that belittled the happiness of impersonal liberation. They had chanted
the Lord’s glories along with the Vaikuṇṭha devotees and enjoyed the wonderful nectar of
BB 2.3.96-97
TEXTS 96–97
nityāparicchinna-mahā-sukhāntyakāṣṭhāvatas tādṛśa-vaibhavasya
tat-prema-bhaktaiḥ su-labhasya vaktuṁ
vaikuṇṭha-lokasya paraṁ kim īśe
advaita-durvāsanayā mumukṣāviddhātmanāṁ hṛdy api durlabhasya
nitya—eternal; aparicchinna—unbounded; mahā—supreme; sukha—of happiness; antya—
final; kāṣṭhā-vataḥ—attaining the limit; tādṛśa—such; vaibhavasya—of the opulence;
sākṣāt—directly; ramā-nātha—of the Lord of the goddess of fortune; pada-aravinda—of the
krīḍā—of the
vibhūṣitasya—decorated; tat—His; prema-bhaktaiḥ—by the loving devotees; su-labhasya—
easily obtained; vaktum—to speak; vaikuṇṭha-lokasya—of Vaikuṇṭha-loka; param—more;
kim—what; īśe—am I able; advaita—of monism; durvāsanayā—with the misconceptions;
mumukṣā—by the desire for liberation; āviddha—infected; ātmanām—whose intelligence;
hṛdi—in the heart; api—even; durlabhasya—difficult to achieve.
What more can I say about Vaikuṇṭha-loka? With its opulence it displays the final limit of
eternal unlimited joy. It is blessed abundantly by the ever-visible pastimes of the lotus feet of
the Lord, the husband of the goddess of fortune. The Lord’s loving devotees easily gain that
Vaikuṇṭha, but persons with minds tarnished by the blunder of complete oneness and the
yearning for liberation can hardly hope to achieve it even in their dreams.
Returning from his digression about why the four Kumāras are present, Śrī Gaṇeśa here
summarizes his glorification of Vaikuṇṭha. He feels he has now said enough, since his words
are not capable of adequately describing the greatness of Lord Nārāyaṇa’s abode. Vaiṣṇavas
who have pure love for the Lord can easily enter Vaikuṇṭha, but the impersonalists who prefer
the oneness of mukti to the reciprocations of devotional service have little hope of being
admitted. Many śāstras confirm this. For example the Yoga-vāsiṣṭha-rāmāyaṇa states:
sarvaṁ brahmeti yo vadet
tenaiva viniyojitaḥ
“An ignorant, half-awake person who likes to say ‘Everything is Brahman’ earns, by this,
entanglement in a network of terrible hells.”
The Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇa also says:
brahmāham iti yo vadet
narake sa tu pacyate
“A person full of attachment for sense gratification who likes to say ‘I am Brahman’ will burn
in hell for billions of kalpas.”
And in another Purāṇa:
brahmāham iti vādinam
taṁ tyajed antyajaṁ yathā
“A person stuck in worldly enjoyment who says ‘I am Brahman’ has fallen both from Vedic
duties and from Brahman realization. He should be rejected like an outcaste.”
Since materialists who identify themselves with Brahman are said to fall into hell, surely
those who imagine themselves identical with Para-brahman, the Personality of Godhead, are
even more condemned.
BB 2.3.98
yady asya mat-pituḥ samyak
karuṇā syān tadā tvayā
śroṣyate mahimā tasya
gatvā cānubhaviṣyate
yadi—if; asya—of him; mat-pituḥ—my father; samyak—complete; karuṇā—the mercy;
syāt—there is; tadā—then; tvayā—by you; śroṣyate—will be heard; mahimā—the glories;
tasya—of that (Vaikuṇṭha); gatvā—going; ca—and; anubhaviṣyate—it will be experienced.
If you receive the full mercy of my father, you will hear the glories of Vaikuṇṭha and go there
to see them for yourself.
Rather than try to present more of the glories of Vaikuṇṭha in his own words, Gaṇeśa here
directs Gopa-kumāra to see them for himself. Since Gopa-kumāra has already been granted
Lord Śiva’s personal audience, Lord Śiva’s complete mercy should not be difficult for him to
obtain. Receiving the full mercy of Lord Śiva results not in attaining Śivaloka but in reaching
Vaikuṇṭha to serve Lord Viṣṇu in pure devotional service.
BB 2.3.99
śrī-gopa-kumāra uvāca
brahmaṁs tat-prāptaye jātamahā-lālasayā bhṛśam
ahaṁ cintārṇavāpāra-
bhaṅga-raṅge pranartitaḥ
śrī-gopa-kumāraḥ uvāca—Śrī Gopa-kumāra said; brahman—O brāhmaṇa; tat—that place;
prāptaye—to reach; jāta—born; mahā—great; lālasayā—with eagerness; bhṛśam—quickly;
aham—I; cintā—of anxious thoughts; arṇava—of an ocean; apāra—vast; bhaṅga—of the
waves; raṅge—on the stage; pranartitaḥ—made to dance wildly.
Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: O brāhmaṇa, I quickly became ardent to reach that place. And that
feeling made me dance wildly on a stage made of waves of a vast ocean of anxiety.
Gopa-kumāra’s eagerness made him anxious about whether he would reach Vaikuṇṭha.
BB 2.3.100
TEXT 100
vicāra-jātataḥ svasya
sambhāvya tad-ayogyatām
prarudan śoka-vegena
mohaṁ prāpyāpataṁ kṣaṇāt
vicāra—of thoughts; jātataḥ—from a multitude; svasya—my; sambhāvya—concluding; tat—
for that; ayogyatām—unworthiness; prarudan—crying profusely; śoka—of sorrow; vegena—
by the force; moham prāpya—fainting; apatam—I fell; kṣaṇāt—suddenly.
From the many thoughts flashing through my mind I concluded I was unfit to go. I cried
profusely, and the force of my sorrow made me faint and suddenly fall to the ground.
BB 2.3.101
TEXT 101
utthāpyāśvāsya bhāṣitaḥ
mahā-dayālunā—most mercuful; anena—by him (Lord Śiva); para-duḥkha—the distress of
others; asahiṣṇunā—who cannot tolerate; vaiṣṇava—of the Vaiṣṇavas; eka-priyeṇa—by the
best friend; aham—I; utthāpya—being picked up; āśvāsya—being consoled; bhāṣitaḥ—
spoken to.
That most merciful of great souls, the one best friend of the Vaiṣṇavas, Lord Śiva, who cannot
tolerate the distress of others, picked me up and spoke to console me.
Lord Śiva Mahādeva was ready to give his full mercy to Gopa-kumāra.
BB 2.3.102
TEXT 102
śrī-mahādeva uvāca
he śrī-vaiṣṇava pārvatyā
sahāham api kāmaye
tasmin vaikuṇṭha-loke tu
sadā vāsaṁ bhavān iva
śrī-mahādevaḥ uvāca—Śrī Mahādeva said; he—O; śrī-vaiṣṇava—dear Vaiṣṇava; pārvatyā
saha—together with Pārvatī; aham—I; api—also; kāmaye—desire; tasmin—in that;
bhavān—your good self; iva—like.
Śrī Mahādeva said: My dear Vaiṣṇava, both Pārvatī and I, just like you, want to live forever in
that Vaikuṇṭha-loka.
Lord Śiva notes that the same desire harbored by him and his wife has developed in Gopakumāra. Because Lord Śiva and Gopa-kumāra share the same interest, it is implied, perhaps
Gopa-kumāra should come to Lord Śiva’s planet and stay happily with him there for some
BB 2.3.103
TEXT 103
so ’tīva-durlabho lokaḥ
prārthyo muktair api dhruvam
sādhyo brahma-sutānāṁ hi
brahmaṇaś ca mamāpi saḥ
saḥ—that; atīva—extremely; durlabhaḥ—difficult to achieve; lokaḥ—world; prārthyaḥ—is
prayed for; muktaiḥ—by liberated souls; api—even; dhruvam—certainly; sādhyaḥ—the
object of endeavor; brahma-sutānām—of the sons of Brahmā; hi—indeed; brahmaṇaḥ—of
Brahmā; ca—and; mama—of me; api—also; saḥ—it.
But that world is exceedingly difficult to attain. Indeed, even liberated souls pray to achieve
it. Brahmā’s sons and yet again Brahmā himself strive for it, and so even do I.
For the liberated impersonalists and for demigods such as Śiva, Brahmā, and sons of Brahmā
like Bhṛgu, the spiritual world Vaikuṇṭha is sādhya, the goal to be attained, but not yet
sādhita, actually obtained.
BB 2.3.104
TEXT 104
niṣkāmeṣu viśuddheṣu
sva-dharmeṣu hi yaḥ pumān
parāṁ niṣṭhāṁ gatas tasmin
yā kṛpā śrī-harer bhavet
niṣkāmeṣu—without selfish motives; viśuddheṣu—completely pure; sva-dharmeṣu—in his
own religious duties; hi—certainly; yaḥ—which; pumān—man; parām—the best; niṣṭhām—
faith; gataḥ—attaining; tasmin—for him; yā—which; kṛpā—mercy; śrī-hareḥ—of Śrī Hari;
bhavet—can be.
Only one who has completely perfected his religious duties, who is pure, who is done with
selfish motives, can achieve the mercy of Śrī Hari.
BB 2.3.105
TEXT 105
tasyāḥ śata-guṇā cet syād
brahmatvaṁ labhate tadā
tasyāḥ śata-guṇāyāṁ ca
satyāṁ mad-bhāvam ṛcchati
tasyāḥ—than that (mercy); śata-guṇā—multiplied one hundred times; cet—if; syāt—there is;
brahmatvam—the position of Brahmā; labhate—one obtains; tadā—then; tasyāḥ—than that;
śata-guṇāyām—one hundred times more; ca—and; satyām—becoming; mat—my; bhāvam—
nature; ṛcchati—one attains.
If that mercy is multiplied a hundred times, one attains the post of Brahmā. And if a hundred
times again, one can become like me.
BB 2.3.106
TEXT 106
śrīmad-bhagavatas tasya
mayi yāvān anugrahaḥ
tasmāc chata-guṇottāne
jāte vaikuṇṭham eti tam
śrīmat-bhagavataḥ—of the divine Personality of Godhead; tasya—Him; mayi—for me;
yāvān—as much; anugrahaḥ—mercy; tasmāt—than that; śata-guṇa—one hundred times
more; uttāne—the extension; jāte—if it occurs; vaikuṇṭham—to Vaikuṇṭha; eti—one goes;
And if one obtains from the divine Personality of Godhead more mercy than I—a hundred
times more—one can go to Vaikuṇṭha.
This is how difficult it is to achieve entrance into Vaikuṇṭha. Lord Śiva also described this in
his instructions to the Pracetās in the Fourth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (4.24.29):
sva-dharma-niṣṭhaḥ śata-janmabhiḥ pumān
viriṣcatām eti tataḥ paraṁ hi mām
avyākṛtaṁ bhāgavato ’tha vaiṣṇavaṁ
padaṁ yathāhaṁ vibudhāḥ kalātyaye
“A person who executes his occupational duty properly for one hundred births becomes
qualified to occupy the post of Brahmā, and if he becomes more qualified he can approach
me. But a person directly surrendered to Lord Kṛṣṇa, or Viṣṇu, in unalloyed devotional
service is at once promoted to the spiritual planets. I and other demigods attain those planets
after the destruction of this material world.”
Some demigods, including Lord Śiva, are qualified for promotion to Vaikuṇṭha, but only after
they complete their long appointments as universal rulers and after their subtle bodies are
dissolved by the attainment of liberation. But pure devotees graced with a sufficient portion of
Lord Viṣṇu’s mercy need not serve such long terms as demigods; they can achieve Vaikuṇṭha
much more quickly. We read in the Itihāsa-sammucaya, in the narration about Mudgala:
brahmaṇaḥ sadanād ūrdhvaṁ
tad viṣṇoḥ paramaṁ padam
śuddhaṁ sanātanaṁ jyotiḥ
para-brahmeti yad viduḥ
nirmamā nirahaṅkārā
nirdvandvā ye jitendriyāḥ
dhyāna-yoga-parāś caiva
tatra gacchanti sādhavaḥ
ye ’rcayanti hariṁ viṣṇuṁ
kṛṣṇaṁ jiṣṇuṁ sanātanam
nārāyaṇam ajaṁ kṛṣṇaṁ
viṣvaksenaṁ catur-bhujam
dhyāyanti puruṣaṁ divyam
acyutaṁ ca smaranti ye
labhante te ’cyutaṁ sthānaṁ
śrutir eṣā sanātanī
“Above the domain of impersonal Brahman is that supreme abode of Lord Viṣṇu. It is the
pure, eternal sky known as Para-brahma. Saintly persons who are free from possessiveness
and ego, who are beyond dualities, who have controlled their senses, and who are fixed in
meditational yoga go to that abode. The eternal unborn Lord Hari, or Kṛṣṇa, is variously
known as Viṣṇu, Kṛṣṇa, Jiṣṇu, Viṣvaksena, and the four-armed Lord Nārāyaṇa. Those who
worship that Supreme Lord, meditating on Him as the supreme transcendental person,
remembering Him as the infallible Lord, achieve His infallible abode. Such is the eternal
proclamation of revealed scripture.”
In the context of this verse of the Itihāsa-sammucaya, the words brahmaṇaḥ sadanād ūrdhvam
should be understood to refer not to Lord Brahmā’s planet but to Mahākāla-pura, the abode of
liberation. In that mukti-pada, liberated souls merge into sāyujya in intense meditation on
Brahman. Vaikuṇṭha is superior both to this mukti-pada and to Maheśa-dhāma, the abode of
Lord Śiva.
Because Lord Śiva, though an incarnation of the Supreme Lord, plays the role of a devotee, he
humbly compares himself unfavorably with the residents of Vaikuṇṭha, but in reality even the
personal associates of Lord Nārāyaṇa worship Lord Śiva as an incarnation of Nārāyaṇa.
Those associates have similar respect for all of Lord Nārāyaṇa’s incarnations, even the jīvas
who are śakty-āveśa avatāras. The apparent hierarchy among these expansions of Godhead
rests not on their actual relative superiority but merely on how each avatāra shows himself,
either as a portion of God or as God’s devotee. This will be explained more clearly later on, in
the instructions given by Nārada Muni.
BB 2.3.107
TEXT 107
athāpi govardhana-gopa-putras
tam arhasi tvaṁ mathureśa-bhaktaḥ
tadīya-tan-mantra-paro ’nuraktaḥ
atha api—however; govardhana—from Govardhana; gopa-putraḥ—the son of a cowherd;
tam—that; arhasi—deserve; tvam—you; mathurā-īśa—of the Lord of Mathurā; bhaktaḥ—a
devotee; tat—for Him; eka-bhakti—for the exclusive devotional service; priya—having
affinity; vipra—of a brāhmaṇa; śiṣyaḥ—disciple; tadīya—which is addressed to that Lord; tatmantra—to that mantra; paraḥ—dedicated; anuraktaḥ—faithful.
But you deserve to go to Vaikuṇṭha, O son of a Govardhana cowherd, for you are a devotee of
the Lord of Mathurā; a disciple of a brāhmaṇa attached only to the Lord’s devotional service;
a soul dedicated to the Lord’s mantra given you by your guru; and faithful in your service to
the Lord.
Although Śrī Vaikuṇṭha-loka is extremely difficult to achieve, Gopa-kumāra is fit to go there.
Lord Śiva merely mentions the ten-syllable gopāla-mantra, with great respect, as tadīya-tan-
mantra (“that mantra of His”) because further words could not adequately express the glories
of the mantra and the extent of its potency. For Gopa-kumāra, chanting this mantra is not a
mechanical exercise but the means for awakening his intimate loving reciprocation with Lord
BB 2.3.108-110
TEXTS 108–110
catur-vidheṣu mokṣeṣu
sāyujyasya padaṁ tv idam
prāpyaṁ yatīnām advaitabhāvanā-bhāvitātmanām
asāra-grāhiṇām antaḥsārāsārāvivekinām
mayaiva kṛṣṇasyādeśāt
patitānāṁ bhramārṇave
nija-pādāmbuja-premabhakti-saṅgopakasya hi
catuḥ-vidheṣu—of the four kinds; mokṣeṣu—of liberation; sāyujyasya—of merging into the
existence of the Supreme; padam—the abode; tu—indeed; idam—this; prāpyam—obtainable;
yatīnām—by renunciants; advaita-bhāvanā—with the concept of absolute oneness; bhāvita—
imbued; ātmanām—whose minds; mahā—vast; saṁsāra—of material existence; duḥkha—of
miseries; agni—of the fire; jvālā—by the flames; saṁśuṣka—dried up; cetasām—whose
hearts; asāra—what is nonessential; grāhiṇām—who pursue; antaḥ—within themselves;
sāra—substance; asāra—and nonsubstance; avivekinām—who cannot discriminate; mayā—
by me; eva—indeed; kṛṣṇasya—of Kṛṣṇa; ādeśāt—by the order; patitānām—of those who
have fallen; bhrama—of delusion; arṇave—into the ocean; nija—His own; pāda-ambuja—of
the lotus feet; prema-bhakti—pure loving devotional service; saṅgopakasya—who wanted to
hide; hi—indeed.
Here is the abode of sāyujya, one of the four kinds of liberation. Here indeed is the goal of
renunciants whose minds are fixed on the thought of absolute oneness, whose hearts have
dried up in the blazing fire of material miseries, who pursue the worthless as if it were real,
unable within themselves to discriminate between what has value and what does not. I make
them fall into the ocean of bewilderment by the order of Kṛṣṇa, who wants to hide from them
the secret of prema-bhakti to His lotus feet.
BB 2.3.111
TEXT 111
bhagavad-bhajanānandarasaikāpekṣakair janaiḥ
upekṣitam idaṁ viddhi
padaṁ vighna-samaṁ tyaja
bhagavat—the Supreme Lord; bhajana—of worshiping; ānanda—of the ecstasy; rasa—for the
taste; eka—only; apekṣakaiḥ—who aspire; janaiḥ—by people; upekṣitam—neglected; idam—
this; viddhi—you should know; padam—place; vighna—an obstacle; samam—equivalent to;
tyaja—please leave.
Devotees who care only for the ecstasy of worshiping the Supreme Lord neglect this
impersonal abode. Knowing this, you too should reject it as an obstacle to your progress.
The abode of liberation is a fitting place for impersonalists keen on sāyujya-mukti but not for
a cowherd worshiper of Madana-gopāla. In Śrī Hari-vaṁśa (Viṣṇu-parva 114.9–12), Lord
Kṛṣṇa describes Mahākāla-pura to Arjuna as follows:
brahma-tejo-mayaṁ divyaṁ
mahad yad dṛṣṭavān asi
ahaṁ sa bharata-śreṣṭha
mat-tejas tat sanātanam
prakṛtiḥ sā mama parā
vyaktāvyaktā sanātanī
tāṁ praviśya bhavantīha
muktā yoga-vid-uttamāḥ
sā sāṅkhyānāṁ gatiḥ pārtha
yogināṁ ca tapasvinām
tat paraṁ paramaṁ brahma
sarvaṁ vibhajate jagat
mamaiva tad ghanaṁ tejo
jṣātum arhasi bhārata
“This vast expanse of divine Brahman effulgence you see, O best of the Bharatas—I Myself
am that. This infinite light is eternal. It is My superior, eternal nature, both manifest and
unmanifest. The most expert knowers of yoga enter it and become liberated. O Pārtha, it is the
goal of the Sāṅkhya philosophers and austere yogīs, the supreme transcendental Brahman,
pervading the entire universe. Descendant of Bharata, know this to be My concentrated
The Mahākāla-pura described in this passage of Śrī Hari-vaṁśa is the same region Gopakumāra saw outside the coverings of the universe. Both Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Hari-vaṁśa
mention that Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, while traveling to Mahākāla-pura, passed Lokāloka. Some
take this to mean that the Mahākāla-pura they visited was a place inside the egg of the
universe, in the outer region where sunlight does not reach. Crossing Lokāloka can also be
understood, however, to mean passing beyond the fourteen worlds that exist in the realm of
light (loka) and also beyond the rest of the outer universe, which lies in complete darkness
Mahākāla-pura is a suitable destination for impersonalist sannyāsīs for the reasons Lord Śiva
mentions in texts 108 through 111. Nondevotee sannyāsīs lack real spiritual knowledge and
are incapable of discerning the spiritual essence of things. As Lord Brahmā states in ŚrīmadBhāgavatam (10.14.4), sthūla-tuṣāvaghātinām: they are just beating the empty husks of grains
already threshed. They are in this pitiful condition because Lord Śiva has cast them into the
ocean of material bewilderment, as he himself explains in the Uttara-khaṇḍa (236.7, 10) of Śrī
Padma Purāṇa:
māyā-vādam asac-chāstraṁ
pracchannaṁ bauddham ucyate
mayaiva vakṣyate devi
kalau brāhmaṇa-rūpiṇā
“The Māyāvāda philosophy is a false interpretation of the revealed scriptures. It is considered
no more than a covered form of Buddhism. O Devī, I shall appear as a brāhmaṇa in the Age of
Kali to teach this philosophy.”
brahmaṇaś cāparaṁ rūpaṁ
nirguṇaṁ vakṣyate mayā
sarvasya jagato ’py asya
mohanārthaṁ kalau yuge
“I shall describe the Absolute Truth in a contrary way as devoid of qualities, just to bewilder
the entire universe in the Age of Kali.”
Lord Śiva performs this thankless task on the direct order of Lord Kṛṣṇa, as recorded in the
Bṛhat-sahasra-nāma-stotra (Padma Purāṇa, Uttara 42.105):
svāgamaiḥ kalpitais tvaṁ ca
janān mad-vimukhān kuru
“By concocting your own doctrines, turn the general populace against Me.”
Because Śrī Kṛṣṇa wanted to keep His pure devotional service confidential, He requested
Lord Śiva to create this confusion. But Vaiṣṇavas whose only serious ambition in life is to
achieve the blissful rasa of worshiping Kṛṣṇa reject impersonal liberation. Gopa-kumāra, Lord
Śiva advises, should reject it also, like any obstacle to his practice of bhagavad-bhakti.
BB 2.3.112
TEXT 112
ito nītāḥ sutās tatra
dvārakā-vāsi—residing in Dvārakā; vipreṇa—by the brāhmaṇa; kṛṣṇa-bhakti—of devotional
service to Kṛṣṇa; rasa—for the taste; arthinā—who was hankering; itaḥ—from here; nītāḥ—
brought; sutāḥ—the sons; tatra—there; sa-cāturya—with cleverness; viśeṣataḥ—special.
Very cleverly, the brāhmaṇa residing in Dvārakā who wanted to taste the rasa of kṛṣṇa-bhakti
brought his sons from here to Dvārakā.
Besides scripture, the behavior of respectable persons also proves that sāyujya-mukti is
undesirable for Vaiṣṇavas. The motive of the Dvārakā brāhmaṇa who came to Kṛṣṇa
complaining about the untimely death of his newborn sons was actually to bring his sons back
from the abode of liberation. The residents of Dvārakā during Kṛṣṇa’s appearance all had
spiritual sac-cid-ānanda bodies, and on the strength of their loving service to the lotus feet of
Śrī Devakī-nandana they felt contempt for the happiness of impersonal liberation.
Some persons, in their attempt to explain the Purāṇic histories, say that the residents of
Dvārakā were only human beings with bodies made of the five material elements, because the
historical accounts describe their births and deaths. Even in material bodies, these Purāṇic
scholars say, the residents of Dvārakā obtained intimate relationships with Kṛṣṇa because of
their unique devotion to Him in pure love.
These commentators, however, have to concede that the Dvārakā-vāsīs only pretended to act
like ordinary materially embodied human beings. If that is what they actually were they would
have been unfit to join in the various pleasure pastimes of the Personality of Godhead, whose
bodily form is pure sac-cid-ānanda. Moreover, it is an established fact that by the power of
bhagavad-bhakti one’s body becomes completely spiritual, and this principle should certainly
apply to the pure devotees of Dvārakā.
The scholars may retort that if the devotees of Dvārakā only pretended to have material
bodies, then the Lord’s having assumed a human form and behaved like a human being must
also have been only a pretense. But this, they say, cannot be so, because after the narration of
the brāhmaṇa’s complaint the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam says that every one of the Supreme Lord’s
personal forms is eternally real and all-pervading.
Now, what the scholars say should on its surface be granted true. Certainly the Personality of
Godhead’s appearances are never false imitations of material life, since all of them are eternal
and He reveals Himself perpetually in those very forms to His various worshipers.
Furthermore, again supporting the scholars’ view, authoritative scriptures describe that the
residents of the Lord’s abodes like Dvārakā sometimes abandon their imitation human
appearance and assume their purely spiritual sac-cid-ānanda forms. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam
(10.29.9–11) describes, for example, that some of the gopīs who could not join the rāsa dance
gave up their human bodies and at once obtained their sac-cid-ānanda bodies:
antar-gṛha-gatāḥ kāścid
gopyo ’labdha-vinirgamāḥ
kṛṣṇaṁ tad-bhāvanā-yuktā
dadhyur mīlita-locanāḥ
dhyāna-prāptācyutāśleṣanirvṛtyā kṣīṇa-maṅgalāḥ
tam eva paramātmānaṁ
jāra-buddhyāpi saṅgatāḥ
jahur guṇa-mayaṁ dehaṁ
sadyaḥ prakṣīṇa-bandhanāḥ
“Some of the gopīs, unable to get out of their houses, instead remained home with eyes
closed, meditating upon Lord Kṛṣṇa in pure love. For those gopīs, intolerable separation from
their beloved caused an intense agony that burned away all impious karma. By meditating
upon Him they realized His embrace, and their ecstasy exhausted their material piety.
Although Lord Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Soul, these girls simply thought of Him as their male
lover and associated with Him in that intimate mood. Thus their karmic bondage was nullified
and they abandoned their gross material bodies.” By giving up their human bodies, these
gopīs were able to join the Personality of Godhead in their original forms and enjoy with Him
the pleasure pastimes that most attracted them.
Here it seems that that the gopīs regained their spiritual bodies, bodies eternal, blissful, and
full of knowledge, bodies just like that of the Lord. It was in this way that the gopīs were able
to be saṅgatāḥ—more intimately associated with Kṛṣṇa.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.47.37), in the message Uddhava carried to Vṛndāvana, the Lord
told of the same incident in a similar way:
yā mayā krīḍatā rātryāṁ
vane ’smin vraja āsthitāḥ
alabdha-rāsāḥ kalyāṇyo
māpur mad-vīrya-cintayā
“Although some gopīs had to stay in the cowherd village and were unable to join the rāsa
dance to sport with Me at night in the forest, they were fortunate nonetheless, for they attained
Me by thinking of My potent pastimes.”
Similar to this regaining of spiritual identity by the gopīs was the liberation of Śiśupāla and
Dantavakra. When these former gatekeepers of Lord Nārāyaṇa’s kingdom were killed by Śrī
Kṛṣṇa, the curse against them by Sanaka and his brothers ended, and the souls of the former
gatekeepers were seen to merge into Kṛṣṇa’s effulgence. This apparent merging, however,
was not actually sāyujya-mukti, because for these two persons, who were devotees of the
Supreme Lord, and even residents of Vaikuṇṭha, impersonal liberation would have been the
worst misfortune. In the Bhāgavatam (7.1.47), Nārada Muni describes what really happened
to Śiśupāla and Dantavakra:
nītau punar hareḥ pārśvaṁ
jagmatur viṣṇu-pārṣadau
“These two associates of Lord Viṣṇu—Jaya and Vijaya—maintained a feeling of enmity for a
very long time. Because of always thinking of Kṛṣṇa in this way, they regained the shelter of
the Lord, having returned home, back to Godhead.” This fulfilled the word of Lord Viṣṇu.
When Jaya and Vijaya, cursed by the four Kumāras, were about to fall from their home in
Vaikuṇṭha, Lord Viṣṇu assured them they would return to His abode after only three lifetimes.
And so Jaya and Vijaya gave up their material bodies to resume their posts, in their spiritual
bodies, as eternal servants of the Lord.
Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī has thus entertained the theoretical possibility that devotees who live
in the Lord’s abode during His appearance sometimes have material bodies. His own opinion,
however, is different. He firmly holds that just as the Lord’s appearance, even as a human
being within the world of mortals, is always purely transcendental, so also are the “human”
bodies of the devotees who take part in His pastimes. When those devotees appear or
disappear, they are either responding to the needs of the pastimes of their beloved Lord or
expressing the ecstasies of their fully blossomed prema. This is the way we should understand
such phrases as “putting aside their bodies,” which are used in the Purāṇas to describe the
disappearance of devotees from this world.
The three verses cited above about the gopīs who could not join the rāsa dance (Bhāgavatam
10.29.9–11) can thus be elucidated as follows: Those gopīs at once gave up their bodies,
although those bodies were guṇa-maya, full of all excellent spiritual qualities, and this means
that as a pastime those gopīs disappeared from the sight of this world. As stated, those
particular gopīs were especially qualified, for they had fully achieved the Supreme Soul,
having gained His association in the mood of His paramours. This, indeed, is in all instances
the prime cause of the gopīs’ perfection.
Therefore, when the Bhāgavatam (10.29.11) uses the word prakṣīṇa-bandhanāḥ, this indicates
not that the gopīs confined to their homes were released from karma and freed from material
bodies but that they achieved the special mercy of the Personality of Godhead, thereby
gaining release from bondage to the duties and prohibitions of the Vedas. In the same line of
thought, Śrī Nārada states in the Fourth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (4.29.46):
yadā yasyānugṛhṇāti
bhagavān ātma-bhāvitaḥ
sa jahāti matiṁ loke
vede ca pariniṣṭhitām
“When a person is fully engaged in devotional service, he is favored by the Lord, who
bestows His causeless mercy. At such a time, the awakened devotee gives up all material
activities and ritualistic performances mentioned in the Vedas.”
In speaking of the gopīs locked up in their homes during the rāsa dance, the Bhāgavatam says,
nirvṛtyā kṣīna-maṅgalāḥ, which in its most obvious sense means “By their joy their pious
karma was destroyed.” But Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, dividing the words differently, says that
Kṛṣṇa’s embrace within their meditation gave them such exceptional joy that their
auspiciousness, symbolized by their marks of tilaka, never faded (akṣīṇa-maṅgalāḥ). Or else,
Śrīla Sanātana suggests, taking a different meaning of akṣīṇa-maṅgalāḥ, their pious credits
and their all-auspicious practice of devotional service were made unshakeable. And the phrase
dhutāśubhāḥ, meaning that their impious karma was removed, may also be taken to mean,
instead, that even in such a fortunate condition the intolerable agony of separation from their
beloved destroyed quickly (āśu) their effulgence (bhā). Or, alternatively, they were spared the
future misfortune (aśubha) of suffering separation from Kṛṣṇa upon His departure from
Vṛndāvana for Mathurā.
These gopīs had earned Kṛṣṇa’s intimate association by considering Him their paramour.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī does not further elaborate on that subject in these verses, because the topic
is too confidential to discuss in an open assembly. The pārakīya mood of the gopīs is told of
in detail in various verses of Śrī Gīta-govinda, such as the one beginning nibhṛta-nikuṣjagṛhaṁ gatayā (2.11–12).
Śukadeva Gosvāmī mentions that these gopīs meditated on Kṛṣṇa mīlita-locanāḥ—that is,
with their eyes half-closed like those of yogīs practicing dhyāna. Or, understanding this
figuratively, they had closed the two eyes of śruti and smṛti. According to the statement śrutismṛtī ubhe netre, the Vedic scriptures in the forms of śruti and smṛti are the eyes of
knowledge for conditioned souls. The fully realized gopīs had no more use for scriptural
directions. Thus they closed their eyes to everything external and simply focused their hearts
on Kṛṣṇa. Then, because they were not allowed to leave their homes to join Him in the rāsa
dance, they gave up their bodies.
BB 2.3.113
TEXT 113
atrāpi bhagavantaṁ yad
dṛṣṭavān asi tādṛśam
sad-guroḥ kṛpayā kṛṣṇadidṛkṣā-bhara-kāritam
atra—here; api—also; bhagavantam—the Supreme Lord; yat—the fact that; dṛṣṭavān asi—
you have seen; tādṛśam—in this form; sat-guroḥ—of your divine spiritual master; kṛpayā—by
the mercy; kṛṣṇa-didṛkṣā—of your desire to see Kṛṣṇa; bhara—by the intensity; kāritam—
Yet even here you have seen the Supreme Lord in this form because your divine guru gave
you his mercy. That mercy created in you the strong desire to see Kṛṣṇa, which impelled
Kṛṣṇa to reveal Himself.
In Mahākāla-pura, the same place where many come to experience impersonal liberation,
Gopa-kumāra had darśana of the beauty of Lord Mahākāla Viṣṇu. If by the mercy of guru and
the Vaiṣṇavas one is eager to see the Supreme Person, nothing can stand in the way of
BB 2.3.114
TEXT 114
śrī-gopa-kumāra uvāca
parānanda-bharaṁ gataḥ
kiṣcid icchann api brahman
nāśakaṁ vadituṁ hriyā
śrī-gopa-kumāraḥ uvāca—Śrī Gopa-kumāra said; tat—that; śaṅkara—of Lord Śiva;
prasādena—by the mercy; para-ānanda—of the greatest ecstasy; bharam gataḥ—feeling an
excess; kiṣcit—something; icchan—wanting; api—although; brahman—O brāhmaṇa; na
aśakam—I was not able; vaditum—to say; hriyā—due to shyness.
Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: O brāhmaṇa, Lord Śiva’s mercy filled me with the greatest ecstasy. I
wanted to say something, but was unable because I felt too shy.
Gopa-kumāra wanted to inquire from the Vaikuṇṭha messengers, but he couldn’t say
BB 2.3.115
TEXT 115
bhagavat-pārṣadāḥ śrutvā
tāṁ tāṁ vācam umā-pateḥ
praṇamya sādaraṁ prītyā
tam ūcur vinayānvitāḥ
bhagavat—of the Supreme Lord; pārṣadāḥ—the associates; śrutvā—hearing; tām tām—those
various; vācam—words; umā-pateḥ—of the husband of Umā (Lord Śiva); praṇamya—bowing
down; sa-ādaram—with respect; prītyā—and with pleasure; tam—to him; ūcuḥ—they said;
vinaya—with humility; anvitāḥ—filled.
Upon hearing Lord Śiva’s words, the associates of the Supreme Lord bowed respectfully
before him, and addressed him with great pleasure and humility.
Before explaining their reason for having come, the visitors from Vaikuṇṭha first wanted to
say something to ease Gopa-kumāra’s sorrow. This accomplished, they could then awaken
Gopa-kumāra’s love of God, by which he would automatically forget his anxiety.
BB 2.3.116
TEXT 116
śrī-bhagavat-pārṣadā ūcuḥ
tena vaikuṇṭha-nāthena
samaṁ ko ’pi na vidyate
bhagavan bhavato bhedo
gauryāś ca ramayā saha
śrī-bhagavat-pārṣadāḥ ūcuḥ—the associates of the Supreme Lord said; tena—this; vaikuṇṭhanāthena—Lord of Vaikuṇṭha; samam—with; kaḥ api—any; na vidyate—is not known;
bhagavan—O lord; bhavataḥ—with your good self; bhedaḥ—difference; gauryāḥ—with
Gaurī; ca—and; ramayā—Ramā; saha—in comparison.
The associates of the Supreme Lord said: O Lord Śiva, there is no difference between you and
the Supreme Lord, the master of Vaikuṇṭha, nor between Gaurī and Ramā.
Just as Lord Śiva is an incarnation of Lord Vaikuṇṭha-nātha, the goddess Gaurī is a parallel
incarnation of Ramā (Lakṣmī).
BB 2.3.117
TEXT 117
tal-loke bhavato vāso
devyāś ca kila yujyate
khyātaḥ priya-tamas tasyāvatāraś ca bhavān mahān
tat—His; loke—in the abode; bhavataḥ—your; vāsaḥ—residence; devyāḥ—of the goddess
Devī; ca—and; kila—indeed; yujyate—is fitting; khyātaḥ—are known; priya-tamaḥ—the
dearest; tasya—His; avatāraḥ—incarnation; ca—and; bhavān—you; mahān—great.
Indeed, it is fitting for you and the goddess Gaurī to reside in Lord Viṣṇu’s abode, for you are
renowned as His dearest friend and His exalted incarnation.
BB 2.3.118
TEXT 118
tathāpi yad idaṁ kiṣcid
bhāṣitaṁ bhavatādhunā
svabhāvo bhagavat-preṣṭhatamataupayiko hy ayam
tathā api—nonetheless; yat—what; idam—this; kiṣcit—something; bhāṣitam—spoken;
bhavatā—by you; adhunā—now; svabhāvaḥ—the mood; bhagavat—of the Supreme Lord;
preṣṭha-tama—for a dearmost devotee; aupayikaḥ—appropriate; hi—certainly; ayam—this.
Yet what you have just spoken suits perfectly the mood of a dearmost devotee of the Lord.
Glorifying Vaikuṇṭha, Lord Śiva had said that Brahmā, Brahmā’s sons, and he himself all
strive to attain it. This sentiment is fitting for a humble Vaiṣṇava, even if not exactly true.
Lord Śiva and his wife can enter Vaikuṇṭha any time they want.
BB 2.3.119
TEXT 119
tad-bhakti-rasa-kallolagrāhako vaiṣṇaveḍitaḥ
ataḥ sarvāvatārebhyo
bhavato mahimādhikaḥ
tat—to Him; bhakti—of devotional service; rasa-kallola—the waves of the rasas; grāhakaḥ—
which (mood) makes others take to; vaiṣṇava—by the devotees of Lord Viṣṇu; īḍitaḥ—
praised; ataḥ—therefore; sarva—of all; avatārebhyaḥ—His incarnations; bhavataḥ—your;
mahimā—greatness; adhikaḥ—most.
You are praised by the Vaiṣṇavas, for your mood inspires others to take toHis devotional
service, with its waves of rasas. Among all His incarnations, therefore, you are the greatest.
BB 2.3.120
TEXT 120
śrī-gopa-kumāra uvāca
nija-stutyā tayā tasmin
hriyā tūṣṇīṁ sthite prabhau
bhagavat-pārṣadās te mām
āśliṣyocuḥ suhṛd-varāḥ
śrī-gopa-kumāraḥ uvāca—Śrī Gopa-kumāra said; nija—his own; stutyā—by the glorification;
tayā—that; tasmin—of him; hriyā—out of humility; tūṣṇīm—silent; sthite—who remained;
prabhau—Lord Śiva; bhagavat-pārṣadāḥ—associates of the Supreme Lord; te—they; mām—
me; āśliṣya—embracing; ūcuḥ—said; suhṛt-varāḥ—dearmost friends.
Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: Abashed at hearing himself praised, Lord Śiva remained silent. Then
the associates of Lord Viṣṇu, who were Lord Śiva’s dearmost friends, embraced me and
Saintly persons do not like to hear themselves praised, and Lord Śiva is the most saintly and
cultured person. Another quality of saintly persons is unconditional compassion, which the
Vaikuṇṭha messengers showed toward Gopa-kumāra.
BB 2.3.121
TEXT 121
śrī-bhagavat-pārṣadā ūcuḥ
gopa-nandana bhakteṣu
bhavantaṁ gaṇayema hi
śrī-bhagavat-pārṣadāḥ ūcuḥ—the associates of the Supreme Lord said; asmat—our; īśvara—
of Lord; sat-mantra—of the transcendental mantra; upāsaka—O worshiper; umā-pati—of the
husband of Umā; priya—O beloved; gopa-nandana—O son of a cowherd; bhakteṣu—among
the devotees; bhavantam—you; gaṇayema—we count; hi—certainly.
The associates of the Supreme Lord said: O worshiper of the transcendental mantra of our
Lord, O beloved of the husband of Umā, O son of a cowherd, indeed we count you amongst
the Lord’s devotees.
With these kind words the Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas assured Gopa-kumāra that he too was fit to enter
Vaikuṇṭha. In general, those who properly worship the authentic viṣṇu-mantras become pure
Vaiṣṇavas, and pure Vaiṣṇavas can reside in Vaikuṇṭha.
BB 2.3.122
TEXT 122
gauḍe gaṅgā-taṭe jāto
jayanta-nāmā kṛṣṇasyā-
vatāras te mahān guruḥ
gauḍe—in western Bengal; gaṅgā-taṭe—on the banks of the Gaṅgā; jātaḥ—born; māthura—of
Mathurā; brāhmaṇa—a brāhmaṇa; uttamaḥ—first-class; jayanta-nāmā—named Jayanta;
kṛṣṇasya—of Kṛṣṇa; avatāraḥ—an incarnation; te—your; mahān—exalted; guruḥ—spiritual
Born in the country of Gauḍa on the banks of the Gaṅgā was a first-class Mathurā brāhmaṇa
named Jayanta. He is an incarnation of Kṛṣṇa and is your exalted spiritual master.
BB 2.3.123
TEXT 123
satyaṁ pratīhi vayam atra bhavan-nimittam
evāgatāḥ śṛṇu hitaṁ nija-kṛtyam etat
vaikuṇṭham icchasi yadi pravihāya sarvaṁ
sa-prema bhaktim anutiṣṭha nava-prakārām
satyam—as true; pratīhi—you should accept; vayam—we; atra—here; bhavat-nimittam—for
your sake; eva—only; āgatāḥ—have come; śṛṇu—please listen; hitam—benefit; nija—your
own; kṛtyam—advisable to be done; etat—this; vaikuṇṭham—Vaikuṇṭha; icchasi—you want;
yadi—if; pravihāya—completely giving up; sarvam—everything; sa-prema—with pure love;
bhaktim—devotional service; anutiṣṭha—cultivate; nava-prakārām—ninefold.
Accept as true that we have come here only for your sake. And please hear what is beneficial
for you to do. If you want to reach Vaikuṇṭha, then give up everything and with pure love
practice the nine forms of devotional service.
When the messengers told Gopa-kumāra to “give up everything,” they meant that he should
be ready to leave Mahākāla-pura and that he should give up attachment to his formal mantra
chanting. His chanting out of duty should transform into ecstatic nāma-saṅkīrtana, in which
the enthusiasm of his love for Madana-gopāla-deva would be directed into the nine methods
of pure bhakti.
BB 2.3.124
TEXT 124
taj-jṣāpakaṁ ca bhaja bhāgavatādi-śāstraṁ
līlā-kathā bhagavataḥ śṛṇu tatra nityam
tā eva karṇa-vivaraṁ praṇayāt praviṣṭāḥ
sadyaḥ padaṁ bhagavataḥ prabhavanti dātum
tat—that; jṣāpakam—which explain; ca—and; bhaja—worship; bhāgavata-ādi—ŚrīmadBhāgavatam and so on; śāstram—scriptures; līlā—of the pastimes; kathāḥ—to discussions;
bhagavataḥ—of the Supreme Lord; śṛṇu—listen; tatra—from them; nityam—regularly; tāḥ—
those (discussions); eva—indeed; karṇa—of the ears; vivaram—the holes; praṇayāt—with
love; praviṣṭāḥ—entering; sadyaḥ—at once; padam—the abode; bhagavataḥ—of the Lord;
prabhavanti—they have the power; dātum—to give.
Honor the Bhāgavatam and other scriptures that tell of this devotional service. Hear from
them regularly about the Lord’s pastimes. For when those narrations enter the holes of your
ears and you relish them with love, they will swiftly award you the Lord’s abode.
Because Gopa-kumāra is not familiar with the nine methods of devotional service, the
Vaikuṇṭha messengers inform him first about the method of śravaṇa, hearing. Of all the
authorized forms of śravaṇa, hearing the pastimes of the Supreme Lord, especially from
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, is recommended as the most effective. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam often
reiterates this recommendation:
saṁsāra-sindhum ati-dustaram uttitīrṣor
nānyaḥ plavo bhagavataḥ puruṣottamasya
līlā-kathā-rasa-niṣevaṇam antareṇa
puṁso bhaved vividha-duḥkha-davārditasya
“For a person who is suffering in the fire of countless miseries and who desires to cross the
insurmountable ocean of material existence, there is no suitable boat except that of cultivating
devotion to the transcendental taste for the narrations of the Supreme Personality of
Godhead’s pastimes.” (Bhāgavatam 12.4.40)
pibanti ye bhagavata ātmanaḥ satāṁ
kathāmṛtaṁ śravaṇa-puṭeṣu sambhṛtam
punanti te viṣaya-vidūṣitāśayaṁ
vrajanti tac-caraṇa-saroruhāntikam
“Those who drink through aural reception, their ears fully filled with the nectarean message of
Lord Kṛṣṇa, the beloved of the devotees, purify themselves of the polluted aim of life known
as material enjoyment and thus go back to Godhead, back to the Lord’s lotus feet.”
(Bhāgavatam 2.2.37)
BB 2.3.125
TEXT 125
teṣāṁ nava-prakārāṇām
ekenaiva su-sidhyati
vaikuṇṭhaḥ sādhya-sattamaḥ
teṣām—of those; nava-prakārāṇām—nine forms; ekena—by one; eva—even; su-sidhyati—is
perfectly achieved; sarva—of all; sādhana—spiritual disciplines; varyeṇa—which is the best;
vaikuṇṭhaḥ—Vaikuṇṭha; sādhya—of goals; sat-tamaḥ—the ultimate.
Devotional service, in any one of its nine forms, is the best possible spiritual discipline and
can easily award you the ultimate goal, Vaikuṇṭha.
Pure devotional service is superior to all other spiritual disciplines—jṣāna, karma, and so
on—and therefore the goal achieved by bhakti is better than liberation, material enjoyment,
and the results of any other method. The fruit matches the quality of the tree.
As stated in the scriptures:
dīkṣā-mātreṇa kṛṣṇasya
narā mokṣaṁ vrajanti vai
kiṁ punar ye sadā bhaktyā
pūjayanty acyutaṁ narāḥ
“Persons simply initiated into the chanting of Kṛṣṇa’s names certainly attain liberation, what
to speak of those who constantly worship Lord Acyuta with pure devotion.” (Brahma Purāṇa
śāṭhyenāpi narā nityaṁ
ye smaranti janārdanam
te ’pi yānti tanuṁ tyaktvā
viṣṇu-lokam anāmayam
“People who always remember Lord Janārdana, even with dishonest intentions, upon leaving
their bodies will go to the faultless world of Viṣṇu.”
BB 2.3.126
TEXT 126
mahat-tamatayā śrūyamāṇā api pare ’khilāḥ
tucchā mahad-anādṛtāḥ
mahat-tamatayā—as supremely great; śrūyamāṇāḥ—described; api—even; pare—other;
akhilāḥ—all; phala-vrāta—numerous benefits; avicāreṇa—without discriminating; tucchāḥ—
insignificant; mahat—by advanced souls; anādṛtāḥ—disregarded.
All other benefits, even those praised in scripture as supremely great, advanced souls
disregard as trifling, thinking nothing of them.
The desire tree of Vedic scripture can grant whatever benefits people aspire for. Thus those
who are less fortunate, who do not appreciate the value of Vaikuṇṭha-loka, approach the
Vedas for lesser rewards and are granted them. But because the great wise souls know how to
discriminate between what is essential and what is useless, they are not enticed by inferior
achievements offered in the Vedas; rather, those great souls are attracted to bhakti-rasa, the
transcendental tastes of Lord Viṣṇu’s devotional service.
BB 2.3.127
TEXT 127
tathāpi tad-rasa-jṣaiḥ sā
bhaktir nava-vidhāṣjasā
sampādyate vicitraitadrasa-mādhurya-labdhaye
tathā api—nonetheless; tat—of that (devotional service); rasa—the transcendental tastes;
jṣaiḥ—by those who understand; sā—that; bhaktiḥ—devotional service; nava-vidhā—in nine
varieties; aṣjasā—easily; sampādyate—is practiced; vicitra—varied; etat—of this (bhakti);
rasa—of the tastes; mādhurya—the sweetness; labdhaye—for obtaining.
Yet devotees who understand the rasas of devotional service may practice all nine forms of
bhakti to easily obtain the sweetness of its diverse tastes.
Although devotees can attain Vaikuṇṭha by any one of the nine practices of bhakti, they often
like to engage in all nine to enjoy the supreme, indescribably blissful taste of those
transcendental activities. Each of the practices, beginning with śravaṇa and kīrtana, gives a
sweet satisfaction of its own.
BB 2.3.128
TEXT 128
teṣāṁ kasmiṁścid ekasmin
śraddhayānuṣṭhite sati
svayam āvirbhavet premā
teṣām—of these (forms of bhakti); kasmiṁścit—any; ekasmin—one; śraddhayā—with faith;
anuṣṭhite—engaged in; sati—if it is; svayam—automatically; āvirbhavet—there manifests;
premā—pure love; śrīmat-kṛṣṇa—of Śrī Kṛṣṇa; pada-abjayoḥ—at the lotus feet.
When one engages with faith in even one of these forms of bhakti, pure love for the lotus feet
of Śrī Kṛṣṇa automatically arises.
As explained by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī in Śrī Caitanyacaritāmṛta (Madhya 22.62), śraddhā, or faith, is properly understood in terms of “trust”
(viśvāsa) in the efficacy of the devotional process:
‘śraddhā’-śabde——viśvāsa kahe sudṛḍha niścaya
kṛṣṇe bhakti kaile sarva-karma kṛta haya
“ ‘By rendering transcendental loving service to Kṛṣṇa, one automatically performs all
subsidiary activities.’ This confident, firm faith, favorable to the discharge of devotional
service, is called śraddhā.”
BB 2.3.129
TEXT 129
tathāpi kāryā premṇaiva
parihārāya hṛd-rujaḥ
phalāntareṣu kāmasya
tathā api—even so; kāryā—to be practiced; premṇā—with pure love; eva—only;
parihārāya—for avoiding; hṛt—in the heart; rujaḥ—the disease; phala-antareṣu—for other
goals; kāmasya—desire; vaikuṇṭha-āpti—to the attainment of Vaikuṇṭha; virodhinaḥ—which
Even so, the disease of aspiring for other goals may hinder devotees from attaining
Vaikuṇṭha. To keep their hearts free of this, devotees should with pure love continue
practicing devotional service.
Prema, pure love of God, is never tainted by desires for selfish benefits. Such ambitions cause
all sorts of anxieties, which burn the diseased heart. A devotee who wants to experience the
higher reality of prema must cure himself of this heart disease; otherwise, entanglements will
hamper his progress toward Vaikuṇṭha as he fulfills his ulterior desires. Selfish desires cause
misfortune in this world and obstruct one’s endeavors to attain the spiritual world beyond. But
when one’s prema is finally awakened these harmful desires vanish, and the sanctified
devotee knows only perfect happiness in this life and the next.
BB 2.3.130-131
TEXTS 130–131
yady apy etādṛśī bhaktir
yatra yatropapadyate
tat tat sthānaṁ hi vaikuṇṭhas
tatra tatraiva sa prabhuḥ
tathāpi sarvadā sākṣād
anyatra bhagavāṁs tathā
na dṛśyeteti vaikuṇṭho
’vaśyaṁ bhaktair apekṣyate
yadi api—although; etādṛśī—such; bhaktiḥ—devotional service; yatra yatra—wherever;
upapadyate—appears; tat tat—that; sthānam—place; hi—certainly; vaikuṇṭhaḥ—Vaikuṇṭha;
tatra tatra—there; eva—indeed; saḥ—He; prabhuḥ—the Supreme Lord; tathā api—
bhagavān—the Supreme Lord; tathā—so; na dṛśyeta—cannot be seen; iti—thus;
vaikuṇṭhaḥ—Vaikuṇṭha; avaśyam—necessarily; bhaktaiḥ—by the devotees; apekṣyate—
should be regarded as important.
Although wherever there is such devotional service the Supreme Lord surely appears, and
indeed that place is Vaikuṇṭha, devotees must still have special regard for the Vaikuṇṭha
world because nowhere else is the Personality of Godhead always directly to be seen.
A question may arise: Since prema-bhakti ridicules the happiness of Brahman realization,
includes all sweet varieties of supreme ecstasy, and is available here in this world, what need
is there to go to elsewhere? In the Padma Purāṇa the Lord Himself says that He can be found
wherever His devotees remember Him:
nāhaṁ vasāmi vaikuṇṭhe
yogināṁ hṛdaye na ca
mad-bhaktā yatra gāyanti
tatra tiṣṭhāmi nārada
“I do not live in Vaikuṇṭha, nor in the hearts of the yogīs. I stay instead, O Nārada, in that
place where My devotees sing My glories.”
The Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas point out that there is one reason why Vaikuṇṭha-loka is a more
desirable place for devotees than the material universe: Only in the transcendental world,
Vaikuṇṭha, is the Supreme Lord always visible with all His variegated charm, beauty,
pastimes, and personal qualities.
BB 2.3.132
TEXT 132
sarva-prakārikā bhaktis
tādṛśī ca sadānyataḥ
na sampadyeta nirvighnā
tan-niṣṭhair bahubhiḥ saha
sarva-prakārikā—in all its forms; bhaktiḥ—devotional service; tādṛśī—such; ca—and; sadā—
disturbance; tat—to Him; niṣṭhaiḥ—who are dedicated; bahubhiḥ saha—in the company of
many devotees.
Nowhere else can such bhakti to Him, in all its forms, be realized forever, without
disturbance, and in the company of so many surrendered devotees.
The devotional service in Vaikuṇṭha is unmixed with material tendencies; it is motivated
solely by pure prema. Because in Vaikuṇṭha there are none of the frustrations imposed by
time and physical limitations, the Vaiṣṇavas who live there in their spiritual bodies can enjoy
the rasas of prema-bhakti with full freedom available nowhere else. All Vaiṣṇavas, therefore,
should give Śrī Vaikuṇṭha-loka the honor it deserves.
BB 2.3.133
TEXT 133
nijendriya-manaḥ-kāyaceṣṭā-rūpāṁ na viddhi tām
nitya-satya-ghanānandarūpā sā hi guṇātigā
nija—of one’s own; indriya—senses; manaḥ—mind; kāya—and body; ceṣṭā—of activity;
rūpām—having the form; na viddhi—you should not consider; tām—it; nitya—eternal;
satya—absolute; ghana—intense; ānanda—of ecstasy; rūpā—having the form; sā— it; hi—
indeed; guṇa—the material modes; atigā—beyond.
You should not consider devotional service merely an activity of the body, senses, and mind.
It is in fact the eternal absolute reality, manifesting itself as the most intense ecstasy, beyond
the material modes.
In Text 123, where the Vaikuṇṭha messengers advised Gopa-kumāra to practice devotional
service (bhaktim anutiṣṭha), this might be mistaken to mean that bhakti is a ritualistic practice,
something to
be accomplished
human endeavor.
To correct
this potential
misunderstanding, they here explain that pure bhakti is never approached by material senses.
Even though hearing is done with the ears, chanting with the tongue, remembering with the
mind, and praying and other activities with the limbs of the body, these activities are not
material; they are spiritual activities that can be performed only by a devotee’s awakened
spiritual senses.
BB 2.3.134
TEXT 134
nirguṇe sac-cid-ānandātmani kṛṣṇa-prasādataḥ
sphurantī vilasaty ātmabhaktānāṁ bahudhā mude
nirguṇe—free from the material modes; sat-cit-ānanda—on the spiritual platform of eternity,
knowledge, and bliss; ātmani—in the hearts; kṛṣṇa-prasādataḥ—by Kṛṣṇa’s mercy;
sphurantī—revealing itself; vilasati—it is present; ātma—His; bhaktānām—of the devotees;
bahudhā—in many varieties; mude—happily.
By Lord Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, His devotees happily realize this devotional service in many
varieties. It reveals itself to them in their hearts, which are free from the material modes and
immersed in eternity, knowledge, and bliss.
If devotional service can be performed only with spiritual senses, how can conditioned souls
ever qualify to engage in it? They can be purified sufficiently to begin transcendental hearing
and chanting of the glories of the Lord only by Kṛṣṇa’s causeless mercy. As devotees mature
in their practice, their individual tastes gradually appear, and on the higher levels of
advancement their reciprocations with Kṛṣṇa become increasingly precise, diverse, and
BB 2.3.135
TEXT 135
viśuddhe tu vivekena
saty ātmani hareḥ padam
gate ’py aprākṛtaṁ bhaktividhayo vilasanti hi
viśuddhe—completely pure; tu—and; vivekena—by discrimination; sati—becoming;
ātmani—the heart; hareḥ—of Hari; padam—abode; gate—being attained; api—also;
aprākṛtam—transcendental; bhakti—of devotional service; vidhayaḥ—varieties; vilasanti—
become manifest; hi—certainly.
When by spiritual discrimination a devotee becomes completely pure in heart and attains the
transcendental abode of the Lord, he realizes the wonderful varieties of devotional service.
The argument for how an aspiring Vaiṣṇava becomes spiritualized is presented positively in
this verse and negatively in the next. By learning to discern spirit from matter, a devotee
gradually frees his consciousness from entanglement with the material body, its senses, and
the things of this world. In Bhagavad-gītā (5.9) Śrī Kṛṣṇa describes this kind of discrimination
to Arjuna. Indriyāṇyīndriyārtheṣu vartanta iti dhārayan: “One becomes aware that the senses
are simply interacting with their objects.” When one is finally free from all material contact,
one can enter Vaikuṇṭha, the realm of Lord Hari, where there is also no connection with
matter. There one can enjoy the real varieties of life.
BB 2.3.136
TEXT 136
anyathetara-karmāṇīvaite ’pi syur na saṅgatāḥ
jṣānenātmani śodhite
anyathā—otherwise; itara—here; karmāṇi—activities; iva—just like; ete—these; api—also;
syuḥ—would be; na saṅgatāḥ—inappropriate; kāya—of the body; indriya—senses; ātma—
and mind; ceṣṭātaḥ—from the activities; jṣānena—by transcendental knowledge; ātmani—in a
heart; śodhite—which has been purified.
Otherwise, for one whose heart has by transcendental knowledge been freed from the material
endeavors of the body, senses, and mind, the activities of devotional service would be no
more suitable than ordinary affairs.
If devotional service consisted of actions of the material senses upon material objects, it
would be no more spiritual than any other activity. No purified person who has given up
material activities would want to engage in it. After having struggled to put aside the
obligations of Vedic duties, nitya and naimittika (regular and occasional), why would one
accept new karmic entanglement? The advanced soul would judge the activities of Vaiṣṇavas
unfavorably, applying to them the principle that “only the senses are involved with their
BB 2.3.137
TEXT 137
anyebhya iva karmabhyo
viviktaḥ san kathaṁ yātu
vaikuṇṭhaṁ muktim arhati
anyebhyaḥ—from other; iva—as if; karmabhyaḥ—activities; bhagavat-bhakti—of devotional
service to the Supreme Person; karmataḥ—from the activity; viviktaḥ—renounced; sat—
being; katham—why; yātu—one should go; vaikuṇṭham—to Vaikuṇṭha; muktim—liberation;
arhati—he deserves.
Why should one who renounces the acts of devotion to the Supreme Lord, as if these were
like other activities, go to Vaikuṇṭha? He should obtain only liberation.
Impersonalists who consider devotional activity to be material have failed to receive even a
touch of mercy from devotional service. If they have actually attained naiṣkarmya, relief from
attachment to the results of material work, they can have liberation, but without bhakti they
can never enter Vaikuṇṭha. To attain Vaikuṇṭha one must be favored with the blessings of
bhakti. Thus the spiritual nature of devotional service is proven by both positive and negative
BB 2.3.138
TEXT 138
na hy anya-karma-vad bhaktir
api karmeti manyatām
bahir-dṛṣṭyaiva jalpyeta
bhakta-dehādi-vat kvacit
na—not; hi—indeed; anya—other; karma—activities; vat—like; bhaktiḥ—devotional service;
api—yet; karma—material activity; iti—thus; manyatām—let it be considered; bahiḥ—
external; dṛṣṭyā—by vision; eva—only; jalpyeta—let it be said casually; bhakta—of the
devotees; deha-ādi—the bodies and so on; vat—like; kvacit—sometimes.
Even if persons whose vision is limited and materialistic think devotional service just another
kind of karma, it is not at all. Let them think that way and let them talk on in that way, as they
do when they dismiss as material the bodies and personal qualities of the Lord’s devotees.
Technically speaking, active devotional service is also a kind of disciplined work, like the
duties of persons following the varṇāśrama system. In this sense bhakti may also be called a
variety of karma. The Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas themselves used the word bhakti-karma in the
previous verse. But even though this concession may be granted to appease those not devoted
to the Lord, bhakti should still not be regarded as karma in the sense of being a function of the
material body.
Some schools of thought, for example Jaimini’s Karma-mīmāṁsā philosophy, regard
bhagavad-bhakti as the best of the various kinds of good karma that can purify the mind. But
they think like this only because their point of view is mundane. The same word body may be
applied both to material bodies made of the five elements and to the sac-cid-ānanda forms of
the residents of Vaikuṇṭha. Or the word jewel may be used to refer to glass ornaments or to
the Vaikuṇṭha cintāmaṇi gems. Or the Sanskrit word sattva may be used to indicate either one
of the three modes of material nature or the transcendental nature of the Supreme Truth, the
source of all existence and all goodness. It is in this second sense that the word is used in
scriptural texts like this one from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.2.35):
sattvaṁ na ced dhātar idaṁ nijaṁ bhaved
vijṣānam ajṣāna-bhidāpamārjanam
“O Lord, cause of all causes, if Your transcendental body were not beyond the modes of
material nature, one could not understand the difference between matter and transcendence.”
Only those whose vision is external can identify matter with spirit or use the one word karma
to equate worldly duties with pure devotional service.
BB 2.3.139
TEXT 139
bhaktānāṁ sac-cid-ānandarūpeṣv aṅgendriyātmasu
ghaṭate svānurūpeṣu
vaikuṇṭhe ’nyatra ca svataḥ
bhaktānām—of devotees; sat-cit-ānanda—eternal, full of knowledge, and blissful; rūpeṣu—in
the bodies; aṅga—of limbs; indriya—and senses; ātmasu—which consist; ghaṭate—it
manifests; sva-anurūpeṣu—which (bodies) are suitable for them; vaikuṇṭhe—in Vaikuṇṭha;
anyatra—elsewhere; ca—and; svataḥ—spontaneously.
In Vaikuṇṭha and elsewhere, the transcendental nature of devotional activity spontaneously
shows itself in the suitably formed sac-cid-ānanda bodies of the Lord’s devotees, bodies
composed of limbs and senses.
Devotional service is thus established as transcendental activity that naturally manifests itself
in the purified hearts of the devotees; it is not material. Still, someone might question how
self-manifesting bhakti could appear in devotees as such activities as hearing and chanting,
which involve the body and its senses. To clear this doubt, we need to understand that
devotees of the Supreme Lord, both in Vaikuṇṭha and elsewhere, perform bhakti with spiritual
bodies and senses. There is no discrepancy in this conception, because the limbs and senses of
the pure Vaiṣṇavas are equal in spiritual quality with pure devotional service. Even devotees
who still live in this world in bodies made of material energy can engage in pure bhakti
because the appearance of bhakti transforms their bodies. Either their bodies become literally
sac-cid-ānanda, or bhakti enters their material bodies by the potency of the Supreme Lord’s
special mercy, or else their bodies and senses become suitable for performing bhakti by some
God-given potency inherent in the jīvas themselves.
BB 2.3.140
TEXT 140
vayam atra pramāṇaṁ smo
’niśaṁ vaikuṇṭha-pārṣadāḥ
tanvanto bahudhā bhaktim
aspṛṣṭāḥ prākṛtair guṇaiḥ
vayam—we; atra—in this matter; pramāṇam—evidence; smaḥ—are; aniśam—constantly;
vaikuṇṭha—of the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha; pārṣadāḥ—associates; tanvantaḥ—disseminating;
bahudhā—in many ways; bhaktim—devotional service; aspṛṣṭāḥ—untouched; prākṛtaiḥ—of
material nature; guṇaiḥ—by the modes.
We ourselves are evidence of this truth. As associates of the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha, we constantly
spread devotional service in many ways and yet are untouched by the material modes.
The Vaikuṇṭha messengers themselves are proof that devotional service is completely
nonmaterial and that those who have attained a spiritual body in Vaikuṇṭha engage in the
various activities of devotional service, beginning with hearing and chanting. The bodies of
the Vaikuṇṭha residents are untouched by the twenty-three elements of matter. As King
Yudhiṣṭhira confirms in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.1.35), dehendriyāsu-hīnānāṁ/ vaikuṇṭhapura-vāsinām: “The bodies of the inhabitants of Vaikuṇṭha are completely spiritual, having
nothing to do with the material body, senses, or life air.”
BB 2.3.141
TEXT 141
navīna-sevakānāṁ tu
prītyā samyak-pravṛttaye
nijendriyādi-vyāpāratayaiva pratibhāti sā
navīna—new; sevakānām—of servants; tu—and; prītyā—with relish; samyak—correctly;
pravṛttaye—in order to engage; nija—their own; indriya-ādi—of the senses and so on;
vyāpāratayā—as functions; eva—only; pratibhāti—appears; sā—it (devotional service).
Devotional service appears to new servants of the Lord to be a function of their own senses,
body, and mind so that neophytes can engage in devotional service with relish, as they should.
When one undertakes devotional service, one perceives one’s devotional activities to be
external functions of the material body. Why should such direct perception be denied? It
should be denied because such perception is only the experience of beginners in devotional
practice. Bhakti encourages those who are new to the Lord’s service to think “Oh, my own
tongue is vibrating the names of God, and my own ears are hearing them!” In this way the
faith of the neophytes is evoked, since otherwise they would have difficulty making the effort
required to surrender their independence.
BB 2.3.142
TEXT 142
mahadbhir bhakti-niṣṭhaiś ca
na svādhīneti manyate
prabhor ity anubhūyate
mahadbhiḥ—by the great devotees; bhakti-niṣṭhaiḥ—who are well established in bhakti; ca—
and; na—not; sva-adhīnaḥ—under one’s control; iti—thus; manyate—is considered; mahāprasāda—of supreme mercy; rūpā—as a manifestation; iyam—it; prabhoḥ—of the Supreme
Lord; iti—thus; anubhūyate—is perceived.
But great devotees fixed in devotional service do not think the services they do to be actions
under their own control but expressions of the Lord’s supreme mercy.
BB 2.3.143
TEXT 143
tvarā ced vidyate śrīmadvaikuṇṭhālokane tava
tāṁ śrī-vraja-bhuvaṁ vraja
tvarā—haste; cet—if; vidyate—there is; śrīmat—divine; vaikuṇṭha—Vaikuṇṭha; ālokane—in
seeing; tava—your; sarva—all; abhīṣṭa—ambitions; prada—of places which fulfill;
śreṣṭhām—the best; tām—there; śrī-vraja—of Śrī Vraja; bhuvam—to the land; vraja—go.
If you are in a hurry to see the divine world of Vaikuṇṭha, then go to Śrī Vraja-bhūmi, the
place that can best award the fulfillment of all your ambitions.
Having received the mercy of Lord Maheśvara, Gopa-kumāra is sure to achieve Vaikuṇṭha.
Meanwhile he can proceed to Śivaloka, from which he will be able to approach Vaikuṇṭha in
due time. But as the Vaikuṇṭha messengers know, Gopa-kumāra is anxious to reach
Vaikuṇṭha as quickly as possible. So after describing various related topics, the messengers
now give the essence of their instruction: Gopa-kumāra should return to Vraja on earth and
there practice pure bhakti to fulfill his ambitions.
BB 2.3.144
TEXT 144
paraṁ śrīmat-padāmbhojasadāsaṅgaty-apekṣayā
viśuddhāṁ bhaktim ācara
param—simply; śrīmat—divine; pada-ambhoja—of His lotus feet; sadā—eternal; āsaṅgati—
for the association; apekṣayā—with the hope; nāma-saṅkīrtana—in the form of loudly
chanting the Lord’s names; prāyām—mostly; viśuddhām—pure; bhaktim—devotional
service; ācara—you should practice.
Simply practice pure devotional service, mainly in the form of nāma-saṅkīrtana, with the hope
of gaining the eternal contact of the Lord’s divine lotus feet.
Bhagavan-nāma-saṅkīrtana, loud chanting of the holy name of the Lord, is the most effective
way to achieve Vaikuṇṭha, or whatever else one may desire. But the chanting must be
practiced in pure devotion, unmixed with motives of karma and jṣāna.
BB 2.3.145
TEXT 145
tayāśu tādṛśī premasampad utpādayiṣyate
yayā sukhaṁ te bhavitā
vaikuṇṭhe kṛṣṇa-darśanam
tayā—by that (devotional service); āśu—quickly; tādṛśī—such; prema—of pure love;
sampat—the treasure; utpādayiṣyate—will be realized; yayā—by which; sukham—easily;
te—for you; bhavitā—there will be; vaikuṇṭhe—in Vaikuṇṭha; kṛṣṇa-darśanam—the sight of
By that devotional service you will soon realize the treasure of prema, and you will easily see
Kṛṣṇa in Vaikuṇṭha.
Pure love of God is the most sublime wealth. As Lord Brahmā says in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam
(3.15.25) while describing his own vision of Vaikuṇṭha:
yac ca vrajanty animiṣām ṛṣabhānuvṛttyā
dūre yamā hy upari naḥ spṛhaṇīya-śīlāḥ
bhartur mithaḥ su-yaśasaḥ kathanānurāgavaiklavya-bāṣpa-kalayā pulakī-kṛtāṅgāḥ
“Persons whose bodily features change in ecstasy and who breathe heavily and perspire due to
hearing the glories of the Lord are promoted to the kingdom of God, even though they do not
care for meditation and other austerities. The kingdom of God is above the material universes,
and it is desired by me and other demigods.”
BB 2.3.146
TEXT 146
premṇo ’ntar-aṅgaṁ kila sādhanottamaṁ
manyeta kaiścit smaraṇaṁ na kīrtanam
ekendriye vāci vicetane sukhaṁ
bhaktiḥ sphuraty āśu hi kīrtanātmikā
premṇaḥ—of pure love; antaḥ-aṅgam—essential; kila—indeed; sādhana-uttamam—the
highest means of achievement; manyeta—is thought; kaiścit—by some; smaraṇam—
remembering; na—not; kīrtanam—chanting; eka-indriye—in the single sense; vāci—speech;
vicetane—unconscious; sukham—with ease; bhaktiḥ—devotional service; sphurati—appears;
āśu—quickly; hi—indeed; kīrtana-ātmikā—in the form of chanting.
Some think that remembering, rather than chanting, is the essential means of devotional
practice, the means that most effectively leads to prema, for bhakti in the form of chanting
appears quickly and easily, and in only one sense,that of speech, which is not itself alive and
This was the opinion expressed by the masters of yoga on Tapoloka, that of all the forms of
devotional service the best is smaraṇa, remembering. Pippalāyana and others insisted that
remembering the Lord, rather than chanting His names, is the most essential means of
achieving prema. They reasoned that kīrtana involves only one sense, that of speech, which is
one of the karmendriyas, an unconcious material entity. And since the kīrtana process is
perfected very quickly, its result must be less than that of smaraṇa.
BB 2.3.147
TEXT 147
bhaktiḥ prakṛṣṭā smaraṇātmikāsmin
sarvendriyāṇām adhipe vilole
ghore baliṣṭhe manasi prayāsair
nīte vaśaṁ bhāti viśodhite yā
remembering; asmin—in this; sarva-indriyāṇām—of all the senses; adhipe—the chief;
vilole—turbulent; ghore—frightful; baliṣṭhe—mighty; manasi—the mind; prayāsaiḥ—by
great efforts; nīte—brought; vaśam—under control; bhāti—it manifests; viśodhite—which
has become completely purified; yā—which (bhakti).
Superior bhakti in the form of remembering, they think, appears within the mind—that
turbulent, frightful, and mighty chief of all the senses—when by serious efforts the mind has
been brought under control and fully purified.
Everyone has experience that the mind is difficult to control. To subdue and purify it is a great
achievement. Because the mind is the ruler of the senses, when the mind is controlled the
functions of the senses, including kīrtana, are also controlled. In the words of the mendicant
from Avantī in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.23.47, 45):
mano-vaśe ’nye hy abhavan sma devā
manaś ca nānyasya vaśaṁ sameti
bhīṣmo hi devaḥ sahasaḥ sahīyān
yuṣjyād vaśe taṁ sa hi deva-devaḥ
“All the senses have been under the control of the mind since time immemorial, and the mind
himself never comes under the sway of any other sense. He is stronger than the strongest, and
his godlike power is fearsome. Therefore, anyone who can bring the mind under control
becomes the master of all the senses.”
dānaṁ sva-dharmo niyamo yamaś ca
śrutaṁ ca karmāṇi ca sad-vratāni
sarve mano-nigraha-lakṣaṇāntāḥ
paro hi yogo manasaḥ samādhiḥ
“Charity, prescribed duties, observing major and minor regulative principles, hearing from
scripture, performing pious works, and observing purifying vows all finally aim at subduing
the mind. Indeed, concentration of the mind on the Supreme is the highest yoga.”
Therefore, in the opinion of the residents of Tapoloka, one achieves the highest perfection by
controlling one’s mind and engaging it in remembrance of the Supreme Lord.
BB 2.3.148
TEXT 148
manyāmahe kīrtanam eva sat-tamaṁ
lolātmakaika-sva-hṛdi sphurat-smṛteḥ
vāci sva-yukte manasi śrutau tathā
dīvyat parān apy upakurvad ātmya-vat
manyāmahe—we consider; kīrtanam—chanting; eva—only; sat-tamam—most excellent; lolaātmaka—unsteady; eka—only; sva-hṛdi—in one’s heart; sphurat—manifesting; smṛteḥ—than
remembering; vāci—in the faculty of speech; sva—in it (chanting); yukte—which is engaged;
manasi—in the mind; śrutau—in the sense of hearing; tathā—also; dīvyat—sporting; parān—
others; api—also; upakurvat—it helps; ātmya-vat—like oneself.
But we consider chanting to be alone the most excellent form of bhakti, better than
remembering, which appears only in one’s own turbulent heart. For chanting harnesses not
only the faculty of speech, which it engages directly, but also the mind and sense of hearing.
And chanting helps not only the person practicing it but others as well.
This is the Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas’ own opinion. Smaraṇa is purely an internal function, but kīrtana,
which actively employs one’s power of speech, affects both one’s internal and external
environments. Kīrtana also acts on the mind, bringing it subconsciously into contact with all
spiritual sensory functions. If this subtle contact were not established, the spirit soul could not
awaken to his real life. The transcendental sound of kīrtana enters the ears on its own strength,
without any effort by the hearer and thus it benefits not only the chanter but everyone who
hears it, treating them all as its subservient dependents. The process of remembrance does not
have such power. In fact, as long as the mind’s fickle character has not changed, smaraṇa
cannot manifest itself fully. When we realistically consider the relative value of smaraṇa and
kīrtana, we find, therefore, that the difficulty of performing smaraṇa does not make smaraṇa
more important. In the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (6.8.57) the sage Parāśara has said:
yasmin nyasta-matir na yāti narakaṁ svargo ’pi yac-cintane
vighno yatra niveśitātma-manaso brāhmo ’pi loko ’lpakaḥ
muktiṁ cetasi yaḥ sthito ’mala-dhiyāṁ puṁsāṁ dadāty avyayaḥ
kiṁ citraṁ yad aghaḥ prayāti vilayaṁ tatrācyute kīrtite
“One who fixes his mind on Lord Acyuta will never go to hell. Indeed, by thinking about Him
one will attain heaven. For one whose mind is fully absorbed in thought of Him, even the
world of Brahmā is but an insignificant obstruction on the path. The infallible Lord bestows
liberation on those pure souls in whose hearts He is present. Is it any wonder, then, that when
Lord Acyuta’s glories are chanted all sins are destroyed?”
By the kīrtana of Lord Viṣṇu’s names even the sinful Ajāmila, who could not remember the
Lord at all, attained liberation. The beneficial results of meditation, sacrifice, and worship are
all automatically obtained in the process of kīrtana, especially in the present age:
dhyāyan kṛte yajan yajṣais
tretāyāṁ dvāpare ’rcayan
yad āpnoti tad āpnoti
kalau saṅkīrtya keśavam
“What was accomplished in the Kṛta Age by meditation, in Tretā by ritual sacrifices, and in
Dvāpara by worship of the Deity of the Lord, in this Kali Age is accomplished by loud
chanting of the names of Keśava.” (Viṣṇu Purāṇa 6.2.17) The claim made in this statement
and others about the potency of hari-nāma-saṅkīrtana is not merely rhetoric; it is proven by
the life histories of many successful Vaiṣṇavas.
BB 2.3.149
TEXT 149
vāg-indriyaṁ syād yadi saṁyataṁ sadā
cittaṁ sthiraṁ sad-bhagavat-smṛtau tadā
samyak pravarteta tataḥ smṛtiḥ phalam
bāhya—external; āntara—and internal; aśeṣa—all; hṛṣīka—senses; cālakam—which moves;
vāk-indriyam—the sense of speech; syāt—is; yadi—if; saṁyatam—brought under control;
sadā—constantly; cittam—the mind; sthiram—steady; sat—transcendental; bhagavat—of the
Supreme Lord; smṛtau—in remembrance; tadā—then; samyak—properly; pravarteta—
develops; tataḥ—then; smṛtiḥ—remembrance; phalam—as the fruit.
If the sense of speech, which sets all the external and internal senses in motion, is brought
under constant control, then the mind becomes stable and can properly engage in
transcendental remembrance of the Lord. Remembrance thus develops as the fruit of chanting.
BB 2.3.150
TEXT 150
evaṁ prabhor dhyāna-ratair mataḥ ced
buddhyedṛśaṁ tatra vivecanīyam
dhyānaṁ parisphūrti-viśeṣa-niṣṭhā
sambandha-mātraṁ manasā smṛtir hi
evam—thus; prabhoḥ—of the Lord; dhyāna-rataiḥ—by those attached to meditation; mataḥ—
considered; cet—if; buddhyā—with their intelligence; īdṛśam—in this way; tatra—in that
regard; vivecanīyam—should
be discriminated; dhyānam—meditation; parisphūrti—
manifestation; viśeṣa—with particular qualities; niṣṭhā—involving; sambandha—coming in
contact; mātram—merely; manasā—by the mind; smṛtiḥ—remembrance; hi—certainly.
If those attached to meditation on the Lord still insist that remembering is of greater
importance, with their intelligence they should make the following distinction: In meditation
the Lord reveals Himself fully with His particular qualities, but in remembrance the mind
merely comes in contact with the Lord.
Some sincere and intelligent Vaiṣṇavas are firmly convinced that meditation on the Lord is
the best form of devotional service. Since they perceive an authentic spiritual taste from their
meditation, their opinion must be honored; but as the Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas here suggest, this
opinion should be adjusted to make it exactly correct.
The advocates of the meditational process think as follows: The faculty of speech has the
power to mobilize all the senses, both external (like the ears) and internal (like the mind). If a
person steadies his mind by controlling his speech, either through silence or through
bhagavat-kīrtana, he can begin the practice of remembering the Supreme Lord. So kīrtana is
the means to the goal of smaraṇa. Scriptures may say that in Kali-yuga the perfection of
kīrtana is in itself the goal and automatically includes the results of smaraṇa—but that is only
in reference to the special situation of the modern age. It may also be said that the exceptional
faults of Kali-yuga can be counteracted only by the very powerful process of kīrtana, not by
meditation alone or any other means, but actually there is no absolute rule that meditation on
the Lord is less than enough to wash away the contamination of the modern age. Rather,
hundreds of convincing statements of scripture confirm that simply remembering the
Personality of Godhead destroys one’s sinful reactions. Thus meditation is the best form of
devotional service.
The Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas accept this opinion, as long as it is qualified by the understanding that
true meditation on the Supreme Lord is a very mature stage of devotional development. In
meditation the devotee realizes the Lord in the heart and directly perceives many details of the
Lord’s exquisite beauty and charm, from His feet to the hair on His head. But in the more
usual smṛti, or remembrance, the mind only comes in contact with the Lord, as when one
thinks “God exists” or “I am the Supreme Lord’s servant.”
BB 2.3.151
TEXT 151
ced dhyāna-vegāt khalu citta-vṛttāv
antar-bhavantīndriya-vṛttayas tāḥ
dhyānaṁ tadā kīrtanato ’stu varyam
cet—if; dhyāna—of meditation; vegāt—by the force; khalu—indeed; citta-vṛttau—into the
function of the mind; antaḥ-bhavanti—become absorbed; indriya-vṛttayaḥ—the functions of
the senses; tāḥ—they; saṅkīrtana— chanting; sparśana—touching; darśana-ādyāḥ—seeing
and so on; dhyānam—meditation; tadā—then; kīrtanataḥ—than chanting; astu—let it be;
If by the force of one’s meditation all the functions of the senses—including saṅkīrtana of the
Lord, physical contact with Him, seeing Him, and so on—become absorbed into the function
of the mind, that meditation may be accepted as better than chanting out loud.
If a devotee becomes so proficient in dhyāna (meditation on the Lord) that the devotional
practices he earlier performed with his speech, touch, eyes, and other senses become
spontaneous activities of his mind, then of course for that devotee meditation has become the
most suitable practice. He can inwardly continue his śravaṇa, kīrtana, and so on, with or
without the participation of his external senses.
BB 2.3.152
TEXT 152
prītir yato yasya sukhaṁ ca yena
samyag bhavet tad rasikasya tasya
tat sādhanaṁ śreṣṭha-tamaṁ su-sevyaṁ
sadbhir mataṁ praty uta sādhya-rūpam
prītiḥ—satisfaction; yataḥ—from which; yasya—whose; sukham—happiness; ca—and;
yena—by which; samyak—complete; bhavet—is; tat—that; rasikasya—of a devotee with true
spiritual taste; tasya—his; tat—that; sādhanam—devotional practice; śreṣṭha-tamam—best;
su-sevyam—most fit to be followed; sadbhiḥ—by saintly authorities; matam—considered;
prati uta—rather; sādhya-rūpam—as the aim of endeavor.
Whatever the devotional method by which a man with true spiritual taste feels satisfaction and
complete joy, that is the method saintly authorities deem most excellent and effective for him.
It is not only the best of methods but the very aim of his endeavor.
How should we regard the meditation in which a Vaiṣṇava does not experience the sensory
functions of saṅkīrtana, touching the Lord, and so on, but merely contemplates the Lord’s
form? That style of devotional service should also be accepted as perfect for the devotee who
derives pleasure from it. When a devotee feels eager attraction to any of the nine kinds of
service, that devotional method becomes the means for him to quickly fulfill all his desires.
Moreover, his practice will gradually evolve into prema, the final goal of devotional life.
BB 2.3.153
TEXT 153
saṅkīrtanād dhyāna-sukhaṁ vivardhate
dhyānāc ca saṅkīrtana-mādhurī-sukhaṁ
’smābhis tayos tad dvayam ekam eva tat
saṅkīrtanāt—from saṅkīrtana; dhyāna—of meditation; sukham—the happiness; vivardhate—
increases; dhyānāt—from meditation; ca—and; saṅkīrtana—of saṅkīrtana; mādhurī—from the
sweetness; sukham—the joy; anyonya—mutual; saṁvardhakatā—the quality of fortifying;
anubhūyate—is experienced; asmābhiḥ—by us; tayoḥ—of the two; tat—thus; dvayam—the
two; ekam—one; eva—verily; tat—that.
By saṅkīrtana the joy of meditation grows, and by meditation the sweet joy of saṅkīrtana. In
our own experience, the two methods fortify one another and are therefore actually one.
The Vaikuṇṭha messengers’ own opinion is that both meditation and saṅkīrtana are
advantageous. The two methods support one another, and because one or the other may be
more suitable in different times, places, and circumstances, their mutual dependence should
not be a cause of confusion. Either may be done separately, but neither, in the end, is
complete without the other. Regardless of which serves as the cause and which the effect, the
two are essentially nondifferent.
BB 2.3.154
TEXT 154
dhyānaṁ ca saṅkīrtana-vat sukha-pradaṁ
yad vastuno ’bhīṣṭa-tarasya kasyacit
citte ’nubhūtyāpi yatheccham udbhavec
chāntis tad-ekāpti-viṣakta-cetasām
dhyānam—meditation; ca—and; saṅkīrtana-vat—like chanting; sukha-pradam—bestowing
happiness; yat—as; vastunaḥ—of an object; abhīṣṭa-tarasya—most desired; kasyacit—certain;
citte—in the heart; anubhūtyā—by perceiving; api—indeed; yathā-iccham—according to
one’s desire; udbhavet—one attains; śāntiḥ—peace; tat—so; eka—on one only; āpti—goal of
attainment; viṣakta—intent; cetasām—of those whose hearts.
Meditation bestows the same joy as saṅkīrtana when a meditating devotee directly sees the
object of his heart’s desire. Such a devotee, intent only on reaching that one desired object he
worships, is sure to find spiritual peace.
BB 2.3.155-156
TEXTS 155–156
yathā jvara-rujārtānāṁ
manaḥ-pānād api truṭyet
tṛḍ-vaikalyaṁ sukhaṁ bhavet
tathā syād yadi śakyate
satām atha vivikte ’pi
lajjā syāt svaira-kīrtane
yathā—as; jvara—feverish; rujā—from a disease; ārtānām—for those who are suffering;
śītala—cool; amṛta—nectarlike; pāthasaḥ—of water; manaḥ—with the mind; pānāt—by
drinking; api—even; truṭyet—is eradicated; tṛṭ—of thirst; vaikalyam—the agitation;
saṅkīrtanena—by chanting the glories; api—even; tathā—so; syāt—is; yadi—if; śakyate—is
possible; satām—by saintly persons; atha—and; vivikte—in seclusion; api—even; lajjā—
embarrassment; syāt—occurs; svaira—uninhibitedly; kīrtane—while chanting.
As by drinking cool, nectarean water, even if only within the mind, a diseased person stricken
by fever enjoys happiness as the distress of his thirst is quenched, so simply by chanting the
glories of the object one worships one can attain peace. Yet when saintly persons chant
without inhibition they may feel embarrassed, even in a secluded place.
In general, the tongue cannot fully describe everything going on in the mind. This is
especially so in the ecstasy of hari-nāma-saṅkīrtana. Vaiṣṇavas engaged in saṅkīrtana may
sometimes feel the urge to describe what is happening within their hearts and, although these
matters are confidential, may sometimes, by their words and bodily expressions, disclose what
should remain private. And this may leave them embarrassed, even when there are no
BB 2.3.157
TEXT 157
ekākitvena tu dhyānaṁ
vivikte khalu sidhyati
saṅkīrtanaṁ vivikte ’pi
bahūnāṁ saṅgato ’pi ca
ekākitvena—alone; tu—but; dhyānam—meditation; vivikte—in seclusion; khalu—indeed;
sidhyati—is successfully performed; saṅkīrtanam—saṅkīrtana; vivikte—in seclusion; api—
also; bahūnām—of many; saṅgataḥ—in the company; api—also; ca—and.
Meditation one can successfully perform alone in a secluded place but saṅkīrtana either in
seclusion or in the company of many others.
The Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas have great respect for the process of devotional meditation, yet their
own favorite process is saṅkīrtana. Meditation is limited because to perform it one must be in
isolation, so as not to be distracted.
BB 2.3.158
TEXT 158
kṛṣṇasya nānā-vidha-kīrtaneṣu
tan-nāma-saṅkīrtanam eva mukhyam
tat-prema-sampaj-janane svayaṁ drāk
śaktaṁ tataḥ śreṣṭha-tamaṁ mataṁ tat
kṛṣṇasya—of Kṛṣṇa; nānā-vidha—among the various kinds; kīrtaneṣu—of chanting; tat—His;
nāma-saṅkīrtanam—chanting of the holy names; eva—indeed; mukhyam—chief; tat—for
Him; prema—of pure love; sampat—the treasure; janane—of generating; svayam—by itself;
drāk—at once; śaktam—capable; tataḥ—therefore; śreṣṭha-tamam—the most excellent;
matam—considered; tat—that.
Of the many ways to chant Kṛṣṇa’s glories, foremost is His nāma-saṅkīrtana. It is deemed the
best because it can evoke at once the treasure of pure love for Kṛṣṇa.
Besides nāma-saṅkīrtana, chanting of the Lord’s names, there are other ways of performing
kīrtana, such as reciting the Vedas and Purāṇas, speaking one’s own narrations of pastimes of
the Lord, singing devotional songs, and offering prayers. Nāma-saṅkīrtana, however, is the
best of all, because it can at once independently awaken love of God in the heart. Lord
Viṣṇu’s messengers are personally convinced of this, and as implied by the unspecific
expression matam (“it is considered”), this is also the opinion of many other spiritual
BB 2.3.159
TEXT 159
śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāmāmṛtam ātma-hṛdyaṁ
premṇā samāsvādana-bhaṅgi-pūrvam
yat sevyate jihvikayāvirāmaṁ
tasyātulaṁ jalpatu ko mahattvam
śrī-kṛṣṇa—of Śrī Kṛṣṇa; nāma-amṛtam—the nectar of the name; ātma-hṛdyam—pleasing to
the heart; premṇā—with love; samāsvādana—of thoroughly relishing; bhaṅgi-pūrvam—with
the many varieties; yat—which; sevyate—is served; jihvikayā—with the tongue; avirāmam—
incessantly; tasya—of it; atulam—unequal; jalpatu—can describe; kaḥ—who; mahattvam—
the excellence.
When relished with love in countless ways through service rendered constantly by the tongue,
the nectar of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s name delights the heart. Who can describe the unequaled excellence
of that nectar of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s holy name?
BB 2.3.160
TEXT 160
sarveṣāṁ bhagavan-nāmnāṁ
samāno mahimāpi cet
tathāpi sva-priyeṇāśu
svārtha-siddhiḥ sukhaṁ bhavet
sarveṣām—of all; bhagavat—of the Supreme Lord; nāmnām—of the names; samānaḥ—equal;
mahimā—greatness; api cet—although; tathā api—nonetheless; sva-priyeṇa—by the one that
is dear to oneself; āśu—quickly; sva-artha—of one’s goals; siddhiḥ—fulfillment; sukham—
easily; bhavet—will be.
Though all names of the Lord are equally great, a devotee most quickly, most easily achieves
his goals by chanting the name he himself holds most dear.
Since the Supreme Lord’s names are all infinite in their glories, one name cannot be greater
than another. Cintāmaṇi stones may appear in different forms, but they all have the same
power; any cintāmaṇi can produce whatever a person wants. Nonetheless, if a devotee is
especially attracted to a particular name, that name will most quickly and easily carry him to
perfection. Thus the devotees who favor the name Rāma like to cite the declaration by Lord
Śiva sahasra-nāmabhis tulyaṁ/ rāma-nāma varānane: “My dear beautiful wife, the name
Rāma is equal to one thousand names of Viṣṇu.” (Padma Purāṇa, Uttara 72.335)
BB 2.3.161
TEXT 161
kramāt sarveṣu nāmasu
priyatā-sambhavāt tāni
sarvāṇi syuḥ priyāṇi hi
vicitra—varied; ruci—whose taste; lokānām—of people; kramāt—by turns; sarveṣu—for all;
nāmasu—the names; priyatā—of affinity; sambhavāt—due to the possibility; tāni—those;
sarvāṇi—all; syuḥ—are; priyāṇi—dear; hi—indeed.
Since people differ in their likings, each name of the Lord is dear to one person or another.
All the names of the Lord are therefore dear.
A doubting person might ask whether only some of the Lord’s names are worshiped and
others neglected. In fact, however, every name of the Lord has its devotees. The word hi in
this verse indicates that this is certainly true. Some Vaiṣṇavas prefer one particular name of
the Personality of Godhead, and some are attracted to two names, three, or several.
BB 2.3.162
TEXT 162
ekasminn indriye prādurbhūtaṁ nāmāmṛtaṁ rasaiḥ
āplāvayati sarvāṇīndriyāṇi madhurair nijaiḥ
ekasmin—in one; indriye—sense; prādurbhūtam—manifest; nāma-amṛtam—the nectar of the
Lord’s name; rasaiḥ—by transcendental tastes; āplāvayati—are flooded; sarvāṇi—all;
indriyāṇi—the senses; madhuraiḥ—sweet; nijaiḥ—own.
When the nectar of the Lord’s name appears in just one sense, all the senses are flooded with
their own sweet tastes.
In this way, every enjoyment possible is derived from nāma-saṅkīrtana.
BB 2.3.163
TEXT 163
mukhyo vāg-indriye tasyo-
dayaḥ sva-para-harṣa-daḥ
tat prabhor dhyānato ’pi syān
nāma-saṅkīrtanaṁ varam
mukhyaḥ—principal; vāk—of speech; indriye—in the sense; tasya—of it (the Lord’s name);
udayaḥ—the appearance; sva—to oneself; para—and others; harṣa-daḥ—giving pleasure;
tat—thus; prabhoḥ—on the Lord; dhyānataḥ—than meditation; api—even; syāt—becomes;
nāma-saṅkīrtanam—chanting of His names out loud; varam—greater.
Appearing mainly in the sense of speech, the Lord’s name gives pleasure to the chanter and to
others. So even greater than meditation on the Lord is His nāma-saṅkīrtana.
BB 2.3.164
TEXT 164
nāma-saṅkīrtanaṁ proktaṁ
kṛṣṇasya prema-sampadi
baliṣṭhaṁ sādhanaṁ śreṣṭhaṁ
nāma-saṅkīrtanam—the saṅkīrtana of the names; proktam—is said; kṛṣṇasya—Kṛṣṇa’s;
prema—of pure love of God; sampadi—for the treasure; baliṣṭham—most powerful;
sādhanam—the means of attainment; śreṣṭham—best; parama—supreme; ākarṣa—which has
power to attract; mantra-vat—like an incantation.
The saṅkīrtana of Kṛṣṇa’s names is praised as the best and most powerful means to attain the
treasure of kṛṣṇa-prema. It is like a potent mantra that can attract precious objects from a
If one wants the ultimate success in spiritual life, one must take shelter of nāma-saṅkīrtana, as
the Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas proclaim exuberantly in this verse. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.2.39–40)
describes how nāma-saṅkīrtana nourishes the devotee:
śṛṇvan su-bhadrāṇi rathāṅga-pāṇer
janmāni karmāṇi ca yāni loke
gītāni nāmāni tad-arthakāni
gāyan vilajjo vicared asaṅgaḥ
“An intelligent person who has controlled his mind and conquered fear should give up all
attachment to material objects such as wife, family, and nation and should wander freely
without embarrassment, hearing and chanting the holy names of the Lord, the bearer of the
chariot wheel. The holy names of Kṛṣṇa are all-auspicious because they describe His
transcendental birth and activities, which He performs within this world for the salvation of
the conditioned souls. Thus the holy names of the Lord are sung throughout the world.
evaṁ-vrataḥ sva-priya-nāma-kīrtyā
jātānurāgo druta-citta uccaiḥ
hasaty atho roditi rauti gāyaty
unmāda-van nṛtyati loka-bāhyaḥ
“By chanting the holy name of the Supreme Lord, one comes to the stage of love of Godhead.
Then, fixed in one’s vow as an eternal servant of the Lord, one gradually becomes very much
attached to a particular name and form of the Lord. As one’s heart melts with ecstatic love
one laughs very loudly or cries or shouts. Sometimes one sings and dances like a madman, for
one is indifferent to public opinion.”
BB 2.3.165
TEXT 165
tad eva manyate bhakteḥ
phalaṁ tad-rasikair janaiḥ
tat—this; eva—indeed; manyate—is considered; bhakteḥ—of devotional service; phalam—
the fruit; tat—of that (devotional service); rasikaiḥ—who are connoissuers; janaiḥ—by
people; bhagavat-prema—of pure love for the Supreme Lord; sampattau—with the treasure;
sadā eva—always; avyabhicārataḥ—because of invariable connection.
Because nāma-saṅkīrtana invariably leads to the treasure of pure love for the Lord, true
connoisseurs of devotional service consider nāma-saṅkīrtana the very fruit of bhakti.
According to many pure devotees, nāma-saṅkīrtana is not only the best means of devotional
service but the final perfection itself. Of course, prema is the final goal of bhakti, but nāma-
saṅkīrtana so quickly and infallibly leads to prema that the two are considered virtually
identical. Wherever prema is seen to have developed, one can presume that nāma-saṅkīrtana
must have been performed. Nāma-saṅkīrtana is the necessary and sufficient cause of prema.
BB 2.3.166
TEXT 166
sal-lakṣaṇaṁ prema-bharasya kṛṣṇe
kaiścid rasa-jṣair uta kathyate tat
premṇo bhareṇaiva nijeṣṭa-nāmasaṅkīrtanaṁ hi sphurati sphuṭārtyā
sat—real; lakṣaṇam—the symptom; prema-bharasya—of being fully in love; kṛṣṇe—for
Kṛṣṇa; kaiścit—by some; rasa-jṣaiḥ—knowers of rasa; uta—indeed; kathyate—is said; tat—
that; premṇaḥ—of love; bhareṇa—by the weight; eva—indeed; nija—by one’s own self;
iṣṭa—preferred; nāma—of the name; saṅkīrtanam—the chanting; hi—certainly; sphurati—
manifests; sphuṭa—openly shown; ārtyā—with distress.
According to some knowers of rasa, the real sign of a person full of prema is this: As he
performs saṅkīrtana of the name he worships, the full force of spiritual agony erupts in him by
the weight of his own love.
Other expert Vaiṣṇavas consider saṅkīrtana and prema to be altogether the same. They are
mutually the cause of one another and therefore nondifferent.
BB 2.3.167
TEXT 167
nāmnāṁ tu saṅkīrtanam ārti-bhārān
meghaṁ vinā prāvṛṣi cātakānām
rātrau viyogāt sva-pate rathāṅgīvargasya cākrośana-vat pratīhi
nāmnām—of the names; tu—and; saṅkīrtanam—the saṅkīrtana; ārti—of distress; bhārāt—by
the burden; megham—a cloud; vinā—without; prāvṛṣi—during the rainy season;
cātakānām—of the sparrows; rātrau—at night; viyogāt—because of separation; sva-pateḥ—
from their husbands; rathāṅgī—of cakravākī birds; vargasya—of a flock; ca—and; ākrośanavat—like the distressful crying; pratīhi—you should understand.
Like the distressed crying of the cātaka birds on a cloudless day of the rainy season, or the
lamenting of a flock of cakravākī birds when parted from their husbands at night, the
saṅkīrtana of the Lord’s names arises when one is burdened by too much pain.
Nāma-saṅkīrtana in fact appears only when prema has been enhanced in a special way. Prema
enriched with transcendental hankering results in saṅkīrtana. To help us understand, the
Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas mention, by way of analogy, the cātaka and cakravākī birds. The plaintive
call of the cātakas, sounding like priya priya (“my dear one, my dear one!”), resounds on
cloudless days of the rainy season. And the lament of the cakravākīs fills the sky when their
husbands are absent at night. In such a way, nāma-saṅkīrtana arises when one feels separation
from the Lord in pure love of God. The true way of doing bhagavan-nāma-saṅkīrtana is to call
out to one’s beloved Lord in agony, expressing one’s feelings in various sweet songs to attract
Him. As the philosophical maxim states, siddhasya lakṣaṇaṁ yat syāt/ sādhanaṁ sādhakasya
tat: “The practitioner and the means of practice should be in accord with their goal.”
BB 2.3.168
TEXT 168
prabhor vicitrāt sphuritāt prasādāt
vicitra-saṅkīrtana-mādhurī sā
na tu sva-yatnād iti sādhu sidhyet
vicitra—variegated; līlā—of pastimes; rasa—of the spiritual tastes; sāgarasya—who is the
ocean; prabhoḥ—of the Supreme Lord; vicitrāt—variously; sphuritāt—displayed; prasādāt—
by the mercy; vicitra—various; saṅkīrtana—of chanting; mādhurī—the sweetness; sā—it;
na—not; tu—but; sva-yatnāt—by one’s own endeavor; iti—thus; sādhu—adequately;
sidhyet—is achieved.
The wonderfully varied sweetness of saṅkīrtana emerges only by the mercy shown in various
wonderful ways by the Lord, the wonderful ocean of the varied rasas of pastimes. This
sweetness one can never truly achieve by one’s own endeavor.
The devotees who prefer meditation to saṅkīrtana might argue that chanting in full view of the
public is risky in several ways: envious people may try to interfere, one may succumb to the
allurement of popularity, one may not have the required physical strength, or one may be too
sick to chant properly. These dangers do not arise when a devotee simply concentrates on the
Supreme Lord in a secluded place. In answer to this objection, the Vaikuṇṭha messengers say
that nāma-saṅkīrtana cannot be disrupted by obstacles, for it develops by the mercy of the
Lord, not by one’s own endeavor. No one can take away that which a devotee has gained as a
gift from the Lord. This is true not only for saṅkīrtana but for all the nine methods of bhakti.
BB 2.3.169
TEXT 169
icchā-vaśāt pāpam upāsakānāṁ
kṣīyeta bhogonmukham apy amuṣmāt
prārabdha-mātraṁ bhavatītareṣāṁ
karmāvaśiṣṭaṁ tad avaśya-bhogyam
icchā-vaśāt—according to desire; pāpam—the sinful reaction; upāsakānām—of worshipers;
kṣīyeta—is diminished; bhoga-unmukham—about to be suffered; api—even; amuṣmāt—by
that (nāma-saṅkīrtana); prārabdha—already manifest; mātram—only; bhavati—there is;
itareṣām—for other people; karma-avaśiṣṭam—remnant of karmic reaction; tat—that;
avaśya—necessarily; bhogyam—to be suffered.
As the worshipers of the Lord desire, by the chanting of His holy names they see their sinful
reactions dwindle to nothing, even the reactions they are about to suffer. And when other
people somehow chant His names, they need suffer only that part of their karma already
This explains why devotees engaged in the all-powerful process of nāma-saṅkīrtana may
sometimes still feel unhappy. In the beginning of their practice, they may carry some
remnants of their past sinful karma. But the Lord’s names very soon clean those remnants
away, including the reactions about to be suffered and even those already manifest
(prārabdha) in the body and mind. Only if devotees for some reason want to keep their karma
is that karma not removed. As the Lord says in Śrī Hari-bhakti-sudhodhaya:
karma-cakraṁ tu yat proktam
avilaṅghyaṁ surāsuraiḥ
mad-bhakti-prabalair martyair
viddhi laṅghitam eva tat
“The cycle of karma I have described is insurmountable for the demigods and the demons.
But know that mortals empowered by My devotional service have already escaped it.”
Sometimes nondevotees chant the Lord’s holy names in nāmābhāsa—that is, casually or
unintentionally. If they somehow avoid offenses in their chanting, they too are absolved of
their sinful reactions, except for their prārabdha-karma, the reactions already manifest. These
they must suffer, and by that suffering their prārabdha-karma also is depleted.
BB 2.3.170
TEXT 170
mahāśayā ye hari-nāma-sevakāḥ
su-gopya-tad-bhakti-mahā-nidheḥ svayam
prakāśa-bhītyā vyavahāra-bhaṅgibhiḥ
sva-doṣa-duḥkhāny anudarśayanti te
mahā-āśayāḥ—great souls; ye—who; hari-nāma—of Lord Hari’s names; sevakāḥ—servants;
su-gopya—very confidential; tat—to Him; bhakti—of devotional service; mahā-nidheḥ—of
the great treasure; svayam—spontaneous; prakāśa—of the revealing; bhītyā—out of fear;
vyavahāra—of behavior; bhaṅgibhiḥ—by peculiarities; sva-doṣa—their own faults;
duḥkhāni—and miseries; anudarśayanti—show; te—they.
The great souls who spontaneously serve the names of Lord Hari fear to reveal the vast
treasure of His confidential devotional service. So they behave in peculiar ways to show their
own faults and unhappiness.
What about advanced worshipers like Bharata Mahārāja whose impending sinful reactions
apparently kept going on? We should understand that when saintly devotees like Bharata,
deeply absorbed in the moods of loving service to the Lord, seem to exhibit material
attachment (as when Bharata became obsessed with the care of an infant deer) and when they
seem to fall into bad association and miserable conditions (as when Bharata took his next
birth as an animal), they are only pretending to be materially affected, in order to keep the
confidential moods of devotional service hidden from public view. Such devotees would
rather be treated with undeserved contempt than honored and worshiped.
BB 2.3.171
TEXT 171
tan-nāma-saṅkīrtana-mātrato ’khilā
bhaktā hareḥ syur hata-duḥkha-dūṣaṇāḥ
kecit tathāpi prabhu-vat kṛpākulā
lokān sad-ācāram imaṁ praśāsati
tat—His; nāma-saṅkīrtana—by the chanting of the holy names; mātrataḥ—simply; akhilāḥ—
all; bhaktāḥ—devotees; hareḥ—of Lord Hari; syuḥ—are; hata—freed; duḥkha—from misery;
dūṣaṇāḥ—and contamination; kecit—some; tathā api—nonetheless; prabhu-vat—like the
Lord Himself; kṛpā—by compassion; ākulāḥ—disturbed; lokān—to the people in general; satācāram—civilized behavior; imam—this; praśāsati—teach.
All the devotees of the Lord are freed from contamination and misery simply by the
saṅkīrtana of His names. Yet some devotees, as disturbed by compassion as the Lord Himself,
act in these ways to teach people civilized behavior.
Shouldn’t advanced devotees, in order to deliver the world from ignorance, let everyone see
their greatness? Yes, but the so-called anomalous behavior of Vaiṣṇvas like Bharata Mahāraja
is in fact their way of teaching sad-ācāra, civilized human behavior. By the examples of their
own lives they show the consequences of violating the laws of God and material nature, for if
people fail to learn how to act according to civilized standards their hearts will remain
contaminated by sinful desires and they will never become inclined toward the Lord’s
devotional service.
BB 2.3.172
TEXT 172
duḥsaṅga-doṣaṁ bharatādayo yathā
durdyūta-doṣaṁ ca yudhiṣṭhirādayaḥ
brahma-sva-bhītiṁ ca nṛgādayo ’malāḥ
prādarśayan sva-vyavahārato janān
duḥsaṅga—of bad asociation; doṣam—the fault; bharata-ādayaḥ—Mahārāja Bharata and
others; yathā—as; durdyūta—of gambling; doṣam—the fault; ca—and; yudhiṣṭhira-ādayaḥ—
Yudhiṣṭhira and others; brahma—of a brāhmaṇa; sva—for the property; bhītim—fear; ca—
and; nṛga-ādayaḥ—Mahārāja Nṛga and others; amalāḥ—pure; prādarśayan—they showed;
sva—their own; vyavahārataḥ—by the behavior; janān—the people.
As Bharata and others showed the fault of bad association, Yudhiṣṭhira and others the fault of
gambling, and Nṛga and others the fear caused by taking a brāhmaṇa’s property, pure souls
generally use their own behavior to teach the people.
Bharata Mahārāja showed by his own life the danger of wrong association. Although almost
perfectly devoted and renounced, he was distracted into caring for a newborn deer and
therefore had to suffer birth as a deer. A similar case is that of Saubhari Ṛṣi, who was
deviated from meditation by seeing two fish engaged in sex. In the opinion of the Vaikuṇṭhadūtas, however, in reality these elevated souls were faultless.
BB 2.3.173
TEXT 173
bhakti-prabhāveṇa vicāra-jātaiḥ
saṣjāyamānena sadedṛśais tvam
vighnāti-vighnān kila jeṣyasīha
sarvatra te hanta vayaṁ sahāyāḥ
bhakti—of pure devotional service; prabhāveṇa—by the power; vicāra-jātaiḥ—by many
realizations; saṣjāyamānena—arising; sadā—always; īdṛśaiḥ—by such; tvam—you; vighnaati-vighnān—the worst obstacles; kila—indeed; jeṣyasi—you will conquer; iha—here;
sarvatra—everywhere; te—they; hanta—indeed; vayam—we; sahāyāḥ—helpers.
By the power of bhakti you will have many realizations, time and again, and for certain you
will conquer your most formidable obstacles. In all circumstances, be assured, we are your
Since devotees may have to endure formidable tests while practicing nāma-saṅkīrtana, Gopakumāra may doubt his own fitness to take up the process. The visitors from Vaikuṇṭha assure
him, therefore, that he should not be doubtful and hesitant, but should begin nāma-saṅkīrtana
with all confidence. If he is worried that he cannot expect to succeed without the blessings of
pure devotees, he should rest assured that the Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas will always be there to help
him wherever he goes. If he needs to understand anything philosophically or has any
difficulties to overcome, they will give him the support he needs.
BB 2.3.174
TEXT 174
śrī-kṛṣṇa-candrasya mahānukampāsmābhiḥ sthirā tvayy avadhāritāsti
līnā na sākṣād-bhagavad-didṛkṣā
tvattas tapo-loka-nivāsi-vākyaiḥ
śrī-kṛṣṇa-candrasya—of Śrī Kṛṣṇa-candra; mahā-anukampā—the greatest mercy; asmābhiḥ—
by us; sthirā—firmly established; tvayi—in you; avadhāritā—ascertained; asti—there is;
līnā—dissolved; na—not; sākṣāt—directly; bhagavat—the Supreme Lord; didṛkṣā—eagerness
to see; tvattaḥ—from you; tapaḥ-loka-nivāsi—of the residents of Tapoloka; vākyaiḥ—by the
The greatest mercy of Śrī Kṛṣṇa-candra, we have found, is firmly established in you, because
even the arguments of the residents of Tapoloka could not dissolve your eagerness to see in
person the Supreme Lord.
BB 2.3.175
TEXT 175
rūpaṁ satyaṁ khalu bhagavataḥ sac-cid-ānanda-sāndraṁ
yogyair gāhyaṁ bhavati karaṇaiḥ sac-cid-ānanda-rūpaṁ
māṁsākṣibhyāṁ tad api ghaṭate tasya kāruṇya-śaktyā
sadyo labdhyā tad-ucita-gater darśanaṁ svehayā vā
rūpam—the form; satyam—absolutely real; khalu—indeed; bhagavataḥ—of the Supreme
Lord; sat-cit-ānanda—of eternity, knowledge, and bliss; sāndram—the concentrated essence;
yogyaiḥ—which are fit; gāhyam—perceivable; bhavati—is; karaṇaiḥ—by senses; sat-citānanda-rūpam—the sac-cid-ānanda form; māṁsa—of flesh; akṣibhyām—by eyes; tat—that;
api—also; ghaṭate—occurs; tasya—His; kāruṇya—of the mercy; śaktyā—by the power;
sadyaḥ—at once; labdhyā—by achieving; tat—for that; ucita—suitable; gateḥ—of the object;
darśanam—vision; sva-īhayā—by one’s endeavor; vā—or.
The form of the Personality of Godhead, absolutely real, is the concentrated essence of
eternity, knowledge, and bliss. Only with senses that are fit can one perceive that sac-cidānanda form. Yet by the power of the Lord’s mercy, even with the present eyes, quickly one
can see it. Thus one beholds the object most suitable for one’s vision. One achieves this by the
Lord’s mercy, or even by one’s own endeavor.
This verse and the next summarize the opinions of Pippalāyana Ṛṣi, who on Tapoloka had
recommended meditation to Gopa-kūmara as the best method of realizing the Supreme Lord.
Only with senses that are fit can one perceive the Lord, he had said, but the Lord’s mercy can
transform the limited senses of a conditioned soul, making them fit to perceive the unlimited.
By the Lord’s mercy potency (kāruṇya-śakti), His personal form is revealed to a fortunate
soul, or that soul may be empowered to discover the Lord even with his own senses. No
material conditions can limit the influence of the Supreme Lord’s kāruṇya-śakti.
BB 2.3.176
TEXT 176
tad-darśane jṣāna-dṛśaiva jāyamāne ’pi paśyāmy aham eṣa dṛgbhyām
māno bhavet kṛṣṇa-kṛpā-prabhāvavijṣāpako harṣa-viśeṣa-vṛddhyai
tat—of Him; darśane—vision; jṣāna—of knowledge; dṛśā—by the eye; eva—indeed;
jāyamāne—when it arises; api—even; paśyāmi—see; aham eṣaḥ—I myself; dṛgbhyām—by
my two eyes; mānaḥ—the presumption; bhavet—there may be; kṛṣṇa-kṛpā—of Kṛṣṇa’s
mercy; prabhāva—by the power; vijṣāpakaḥ—an indicator; harṣa-viśeṣa—special joy;
vṛddhyai—for increasing.
Even though one’s vision of the Lord has its origin in the eye of knowledge, one may think, “I
am seeing Him with my own two eyes.” This simply indicates the power of Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, by
which the devotee feels his own special joy unfurl.
Some less devotional thinkers would argue to Pippalāyana that one can behold the Supreme
Lord only with the eye of knowledge, not with external senses. If the Supreme were an object
of material vision, they would say, He could not be transcendentally self-manifest.
Pippalāyana would respond that even if this is true, a special ecstasy is available only to one
who presumes that he sees the Lord with his own eyes. And even if devotees only imagine
themselves to be seeing the Personality of Godhead with their eyes, the ecstasy they
experience is real. That ecstasy itself is proof that the potency of the Lord’s special mercy has
descended upon them, making them rejoice with wonder: “The Supreme is impossible to see,
but now I am seeing Him right before me!”
BB 2.3.177
TEXT 177
prabhoḥ kṛpā-pūra-balena bhakteḥ
prabhāvato vā khalu darśanaṁ syāt
ataḥ paricchinna-dṛśāpi sidhyen
nirantaraṁ tan manaseva samyak
prabhoḥ—of the Lord; kṛpā—of mercy; pūra—of the flood; balena—on the strength;
bhakteḥ—of bhakti; prabhāvataḥ—by the influence; vā—or; khalu—indeed; darśanam—
vision; syāt—can occur; ataḥ—thus; paricchinna—limited; dṛśā—by sight; api—even;
sidhyet—can be achieved; nirantaram—constant; tat—that (vision); manasā—by the mind;
eva—only; samyak—directly.
By the force of the vast mercy of the Lord or by the natural influence of devotional service,
one can see Him. So even with the limited eyes one can achieve the constant vision one may
have with the mind in meditation.
Now the Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas, willing to go along no further with Pippalāyana’s thinking, refute
one of his ideas. Pippalāyana might say, “Seeing the Supreme Lord with one’s own eyes is
imperfect because by nature external perception is imperfect. Interruptions and obstacles will
inevitably impede one’s external vision of the Lord. The mind, however, is extremely subtle;
it can reach everywhere and enjoy undisturbed darśana of the Lord in all circumstances.”
Although this is not one of the things Pippalāyana told Gopa-kumāra on Tapoloka, the
Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas refute it in this verse. By the Supreme Lord’s infinite mercy, even external
eyes can see Him in all His splendor. This is further evidence of the great efficacy of
devotional service.
BB 2.3.178
TEXT 178
na cet kathaṣcin na manasy api syāt
svayam-prabhasyekṣaṇam īśvarasya
ghanaṁ sukhaṁ saṣjanayet kathaṣcid
upāsitaḥ sāndra-sukhātmako ’sau
na—not; cet—if; kathaṣcit—somehow; na—not; manasi—in the mind; api—even; syāt—
could occur; svayam-prabhasya—of the self-effulgent; īkṣaṇam—the sight; īśvarasya—of the
kathaṣcit—in any manner; upāsitaḥ—worshiped; sāndra—concentrated; sukha-ātmakaḥ—the
embodiment of happiness; asau—He.
If this were not so, by no means would one be able to see the self-effulgent supreme
controller, even within the mind. When the Lord is worshiped in any manner, He bestows
intense happiness, for He is the very embodiment of such happiness.
If the Lord’s special mercy and the potency of devotional service were not the true causes of
realizing Him, even a mental vision of Him would be impossible, for He is self-manifesting,
never an object of sensory or mental perception. Because He is the completely independent
controller of everyone, no one can force Him to reveal Himself. A proponent of inner
meditation may argue that by perceiving the Lord internally the mind with its unlimited scope
enjoys unlimited bliss, whereas the limited eyes can perceive only a small fraction of such
pleasure. But the Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas reply that when devotees worship the Personality of
Godhead by any of the methods of devotional service—whether by mental meditation or by
the direct perception and activity of the external senses—the Lord bestows intense happiness.
In fact, according to the Taittirīya Upaniṣad (2.7), boundless pleasure is the very nature of the
Supreme. Raso vai saḥ, rasaṁ hy evāyaṁ labdhvānandī bhavati: “The Supreme is rasa itself.
When a living being obtains this rasa, he becomes blissful.”
BB 2.3.179
TEXT 179
dṛgbhyāṁ prabhor darśanato hi sarvatas
tat-tat-prasādāvali-labdhir īkṣyate
sarvādhikaṁ sāndra-sukhaṁ ca jāyate
sādhyaṁ tad eva śravaṇādi-bhaktitaḥ
dṛgbhyām—by one’s two eyes; prabhoḥ—of the Lord; darśanataḥ—from seeing; hi—indeed;
sarvataḥ—everywhere; tat-tat—various; prasāda—of mercy; āvali—of an abundance;
labdhiḥ—the achievement; īkṣyate—is seen; sarva—to all; adhikam—superior; sāndra—
concentrated; sukham—happiness; ca—and; jāyate—develops; sādhyam—the goal; tat—that;
eva—indeed; śravaṇa—from hearing; ādi—and so on; bhaktitaḥ—the devotional practices.
We everywhere find that by seeing the Lord with the eyes one achieves His mercy in all its
forms, and the most intense and excellent joy. Indeed, to see Him is the goal of hearing and of
all the other ways of devotional practice.
Superior to the fruits of realizing the Lord inwardly are the fruits of seeing the Lord with
one’s own eyes. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other Purāṇas record how Vaiṣṇavas like Kardama
and Prahlāda received abundant mercy from the Supreme Lord when they met Him in person.
On Tapoloka, the sage Pippalāyana told Gopa-kumāra about Śrī Brahmā’s attaining similar
mercy from the Lord through meditation, but that kind of success from meditation occurs in
only a few instances, for a rare, fortunate person like Brahmā. And the Vaikuṇṭha messengers
declare, besides, that the joy felt from directly perceiving the Personality of Godhead with
one’s senses is unequaled. This complete vision, gained by devotional service in the forms of
hearing, chanting, remembering, and so on, is also the ultimate fruit of the devotional service
performed by inward meditation.
BB 2.3.180
TEXT 180
sarveṣāṁ sādhanānāṁ tat-
sākṣāt-kāro hi sat phalam
tadaivā-mūlato māyā
naśyet premāpi vardhate
sarveṣām—of all; sādhanānām—spiritual disciplines; tat—of Him; sākṣāt-kāraḥ—direct
vision; hi—indeed; sat—true; phalam—the benefit; tadā—then; eva—alone; ā-mūlataḥ—
down to the root; māyā—illusion; naśyet—is destroyed; premā—pure love of God; api—and;
By all methods of spiritual discipline, seeing the Lord in person is the true reward to be
attained. That alone destroys illusion down to the root, so that pure love of God may flourish.
The direct vision of Lord Viṣṇu, being the supreme fruit of all endeavors, is preferable even to
realization of the Lord by meditation. In fact, when one sees the Lord directly one’s
forgetfulness of Him, which is the root of all illusion, is destroyed. This is described in the
First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.21):
bhidyate hṛdaya-granthiś
chidyante sarva-saṁśayāḥ
kṣīyante cāsya karmāṇi
dṛṣṭa evātmanīśvare
“Thus the knot in the heart is pierced, and all misgivings are cut to pieces. The chain of
fruitive actions is terminated when one sees the Lord as master.” The entanglements of
material work, the doubts and confusions of material consciousness, and the knots of material
desire all encumber the conditioned soul, but when he again finds his dearmost friend, the
Supreme Soul, he transcends all these anomalies.
When one perceives the beauty and charm of prema for Lord Viṣṇu, the natural urge of pure
love spontaneously arises in one’s heart.
BB 2.3.181
TEXT 181
kāyādhavāder hṛdi paśyato ’pi
prabhuṁ sadākṣṇā kila tad-didṛkṣā
tatra pramāṇaṁ hi tathāvalokanād
anantaraṁ bhāva-viśeṣa-lābhaḥ
kāyādhava—of the son of Kayādhu (Prahlāda); ādeḥ—and others; hṛdi—in the heart;
paśyataḥ—who were seeing; api—although; prabhum—the Lord; sadā—always; akṣṇā—with
their eyes; kila—indeed; tat—Him; didṛkṣā—the desire to see; tatra—in this matter;
pramāṇam—evidence; hi—indeed; tathā—thus; avalokanāt—seeing; anantaram—after;
bhāva-viśeṣa—of special ecstasies; lābhaḥ—the experience.
Although devotees like Prahlāda, the son of Kayādhu, saw the Lord in their hearts, they
always yearned to see Him with their eyes. For this the proof is that when they finally saw
Him they felt special ecstasies.
The experiences of Prahlāda and other great devotees should be taken seriously because sadācāra, the behavior of elevated persons, is important evidence for judging what is of true
value. According to Śrī Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya, it was after Prahlāda first saw Lord Nṛsiṁha
that Prahlāda’s pure love fully blossomed.
BB 2.3.182
TEXT 182
kṛṣṇasya sākṣād api jāyate yat
keṣāṣcid akṣi-dvaya-mīlanādi
dhyānaṁ na tat kintu mudāṁ bhareṇa
kampādi-vat prema-vikāra eṣaḥ
kṛṣṇasya—of Kṛṣṇa; sākṣāt—directly; api—though; jāyate—occurs; yat—which; keṣāṣcit—of
some persons; akṣi-dvaya—of the eyes; mīlana-ādi—closing and so on; dhyānam—
meditation; na—not; tat—that; kintu—rather; mudām—of joy; bhareṇa—by the excess;
kampa-ādi—trembling and other symptoms of ecstasy; vat—similar to; prema—of pure love;
vikāraḥ—a transformation; eṣaḥ—this.
When some devotees, even while seeing Kṛṣṇa in person, close their eyes and appear to
withdraw into their minds, this may seem to be meditation, but in fact it is not. Rather, it is a
transformation brought on by excessive joy, like the trembling and other signs of ecstasy in
devotees in pure love.
This verse answers the possible objection that when Sanaka-kumāra and his brothers met the
Lord of Vaikuṇṭha they went into a trance of meditation. As described by Maitreya Muni in
the Third Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.15.44):
te vā amuṣya vadanāsita-padma-kośam
udvīkṣya sundaratarādhara-kunda-hāsam
labdhāśiṣaḥ punar avekṣya tadīyam aṅghridvandvaṁ nakhāruṇa-maṇi-śrayaṇaṁ nidadhyuḥ
“The Lord’s beautiful face appeared to them like the inside of a blue lotus, and the Lord’s
smile appeared like a blossoming jasmine. After seeing the face of the Lord, the sages were
fully satisfied, and when they wanted to see Him further they looked upon the nails of His
lotus feet, which resembled rubies. Thus they viewed the Lord’s transcendental body again
and again, and so they finally achieved meditation on the Lord’s personal feature.”
In this verse the word nidadhyuḥ, from the verb nidhyai, “to meditate deeply,” seems to
indicate that when the Kumāras saw the Lord they passively withdrew into meditative
contemplation. But as the Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas point out, we should not judge simply from the
outward appearance of these symptoms. Closing of the eyes and ceasing from bodily
movements need not be signs of meditative trance; they may instead be physical expressions
of bhāvas, devotional ecstasies, similar to other physical signs of ecstasy like trembling,
perspiration, and standing up of the bodily hair. Maitreya Muni described the ecstasy of the
Kumāras as “meditation” only because it seemed so externally. Therefore the superiority of
directly seeing the Lord with one’s own eyes stands undefeated.
BB 2.3.183
TEXT 183
dhyānaṁ parokṣe yujyeta
na tu sākṣān mahā-prabhoḥ
aparokṣe parokṣe ’pi
yuktaṁ saṅkīrtanaṁ sadā
dhyānam—meditation; parokṣe—when He is invisible; yujyeta—is appropriate; na—not; tu—
but; sākṣāt—being visible; mahā-prabhoḥ—the Supreme Lord; aparokṣe—when He is
invisible; parokṣe—when He is visible; api—also; yuktam—suitable; saṅkīrtanam—chanting
of His names; sadā—always.
Meditation makes sense when the Supreme Lord cannot be seen, not when He is directly
present; but saṅkīrtana is always befitting, whether the Lord is visible or not.
Drawing the argument to a close on an especially sweet note (madhureṇa samāpayet), the
messengers of Vaikuṇṭha reiterate the importance of nāma-saṅkīrtana. Seeing the Supreme
Lord with one’s own eyes is more desirable than merely seeing Him in meditation, and the
best means of achieving direct vision of Him is to chant His holy names. The behavior of all
kinds of devotees of the Lord gives ample evidence that in every situation saṅkīrtana is
appropriate. For example, as described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.33.7), the gopīs of
Vṛndāvana chanted His names while dancing with Him in their rāsa-līlā:
pāda-nyāsair bhuja-vidhutibhiḥ sa-smitair bhrū-vilāsair
bhajyan madhyaiś cala-kuca-paṭaiḥ kuṇḍalair gaṇḍa-lolaiḥ
svidyan-mukhyaḥ kavara-rasanāgranthayaḥ kṛṣṇa-vadhvo
gāyantyas taṁ taḍita iva tā megha-cakre virejuḥ
“As the gopīs sang in praise of Kṛṣṇa, their feet danced, their hands gestured, and their
eyebrows moved with playful smiles. With their braids and belts tied tight, their waists
bending, their faces perspiring, the garments on their breasts moving this way and that, and
their earrings swinging on their cheeks, Lord Kṛṣṇa’s young consorts shone like streaks of
lightning in a mass of clouds.”
This is also described in Śrī Viṣṇu Purāṇa (5.13.52, 56):
kṛṣṇaḥ śarac-candramasaṁ
jagau gopī-janas tv ekaṁ
kṛṣṇa-nāma punaḥ punaḥ
“Kṛṣṇa sang about the glories of the autumn moon, whose beams awaken the night-blooming
lotuses. Meanwhile, the gopīs simply chanted Kṛṣṇa’s name over and over again.”
rāsa-geyaṁ jagau kṛṣṇo
yāvat tārāyata-dhvaniḥ
sādhu kṛṣṇeti kṛṣṇeti
tāvat tā dvi-guṇaṁ jaguḥ
“Kṛṣṇa sang a rāsa-līlā song, His voice becoming louder and louder. In response, the gopīs
sang twice as loud, ‘Wonderful, O Kṛṣṇa! O Kṛṣṇa!’”
The Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam tells of several instances in which devotees chant
Kṛṣṇa’s glories in His absence, as in the prayers sung by the gopīs before the rāsa dance, and
after Kṛṣṇa disappeared from the dance, and later during Uddhava’s visit to Vṛndāvana.
BB 2.3.184
TEXT 184
śrīman-nāma prabhos tasya
śrī-mūrter apy ati-priyam
jagad-dhitaṁ sukhopāsyaṁ
sa-rasaṁ tat-samaṁ na hi
śrīmat-nāma—the holy name; prabhoḥ—of the Lord; tasya—His; śrī-mūrteḥ—than the divine
form; api—even; ati-priyam—more dear; jagat—for the whole world; hitam—beneficial;
sukha—easily; upāsyam—worshipable; sa-rasam—full of rasa; tat—to that; samam—equal;
na—nothing; hi—indeed.
Dearer to the Lord than even His own beautiful form, His easily worshiped holy name
benefits the entire world. Indeed, nothing is as full of nectar as the holy name of the Lord.
In conclusion, the Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas say that they seize every opportunity to glorify śrībhagavan-nāma-saṅkīrtana. Saṅkīrtana is all-attractive, full with all power, beauty, and
opulence. It exerts its powerful influence over anyone who takes part in it, anywhere and
anytime. The Lord of Vaikuṇṭha Himself is more attracted to His holy name than to His own
supreme beauty.
The Supreme Lord may indeed regard something as more dear than His own transcendental
form. For example, in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.14.15) Kṛṣṇa told Uddhava:
na tathā me priya-tama
ātma-yonir na śaṅkaraḥ
na ca saṅkarṣaṇo na śrīr
naivātmā ca yathā bhavān
“Neither Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa, the goddess of fortune nor indeed My
own self is as dear to Me as you.”
The holy name of the Lord is incomparable; nothing else can equal or surpass it. The holy
name is the Lord’s supreme blessing for the world’s welfare, benefiting everyone—properly
qualified or not—who serves it with any of the senses. It is easily worshiped, requiring only
some movement of the tip of the tongue. And it is sa-rasa, “full of rasa,” a term that can be
understood in several ways.
Sa-rasa can mean “very gentle,” since the holy names consist of sweet-sounding syllables. It
can also mean “composed of pure spiritual substance, sac-cid-ānanda.” Or it can mean that the
holy names are accompanied by all the various devotional relationships, the nine rasas,
headed by śrṅgāra (mādhurya-rasa). In the pure chanting of the holy names, all these varieties
of prema-rasa are manifest, in the moods of both separation (viraha) and meeting (saṅga).
Rasa also means “attraction to Kṛṣṇa” (rāga), which devotees performing saṅkīrtana
unavoidably experience as their kṛṣṇa-prema is rapidly evoked by the holy names. In other
words, the Lord’s saṅkīrtana inspires His servants and everyone else to become attracted to
the Lord.
Rasa also means “special potency” (vīrya-viśeṣa); the chanting of the holy names is extremely
powerful. And rasa can mean “exceptional quality” (guṇa-viśeṣa), indicating in the present
context that nāma-saṅkīrtana has the power to deliver the most fallen persons in the world.
Rasa also means “exceptional happiness” (sukha-viśeṣa); hari-nāma is the most concentrated
essence of happiness. And it also means “exceptional sweetness” (mādhurya-viśeṣa). Nāmasaṅkīrtana is often glorified for its sweetness, as in this famous verse from the Prabhāsakhaṇḍa of the Skanda Purāṇa:
madhura-madhuram etan maṅgalaṁ maṅgalānāṁ
sakala-nigama-vallī-sat-phalaṁ cit-svarūpam
sakṛd api parigītaṁ śraddhayā helayā vā
bhṛgu-vara nara-mātraṁ tārayet kṛṣṇa-nāma
“O best of the Bhṛgu dynasty, the holy name of Kṛṣṇa is the sweetest of the sweet, the most
auspicious of the auspicious. This transcendental fruit of all the Vedas is purely spiritual.
Whoever chants it but once, whether with faith or with contempt, is liberated.”
Even more meanings of the word rasa could be applied to interpreting this verse, but the
above examples give at least some understanding of the greatness of saṅkīrtana.
BB 2.3.185
TEXT 185
tan mānayaṣ chivasyājṣām
ito niḥsara satvaram
kṛṣṇa-priya tamāṁ śrīman-
mathurāṁ tvāṁ namāma tām
tat—therefore; mānayan—respecting; śivasya—of Lord Śiva; ājṣām—the order; itaḥ—from
here; niḥsara—go; satvaram—quickly; kṛṣṇa-priya-tamām—most dear to Kṛṣṇa; śrīmatmathurām—to divine Mathurā; tvām—to you; namāma—we bow down; tām—to that.
Therefore, honoring the order of Lord Śiva, you should leave this place at once. Go to divine
Mathurā, the place most dear to Kṛṣṇa. O Mathurā, we bow down to you!
Lord Śiva has already advised Gopa-kumāra to leave Mahākāla-pura and go to Mathurā on
the earth. Now the Vaikuṇṭha messengers encourage him to do this at once. The very reason
they came down from Vaikuṇṭha was to make Gopa-kumāra return to Bhauma-vṛndāvana. In
case Gopa-kumāra, having traveled so far to reach the abode of liberation, questions why he
should go back to where he started from, the Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas assure him that Śrī Mathurā,
Kṛṣṇa’s favorite place, will shower him with the fulfillment of all his ambitions without delay.
BB 2.3.186
TEXT 186
śrī-gopa-kumāra uvāca
nipīya hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanaṁ tat
pramoda-bhāreṇa bhṛto namaṁs tān
śivau ca sadyo vraja-bhūmim etāṁ
taiḥ prāpito ’haṁ bata mugdha-buddhiḥ
śrī-gopa-kumāraḥ uvāca—Śrī Gopa-kumāra said; nipīya—drinking; hṛt—for the heart;
karṇa—and ear; rasa-ayanam—tonic; tat—that; pramoda—of delight; bhāreṇa—with an
abundance; bhṛtaḥ—filled; naman—offering obeisances; tān—to them; śivau—to Lord Śiva
and his wife; ca—and; sadyaḥ—at once; vraja-bhūmim—to the land of Vraja; etām—this;
taiḥ—by them; prāpitaḥ—made to reach; aham—I; bata—oh; mugdha—stunned; buddhiḥ—
my intelligence.
Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: Upon drinking this invigorating tonic for the ears and heart, I was
filled with delight. I bowed down to the messengers from Vaikuṇṭha and to Lord Śiva and his
wife, and by their grace I was swept at once to this Vraja-bhūmi. Oh, how my mind was
A moment before, Gopa-kumāra had been offering prostrate obeisances, and now when he
looked up he suddenly found himself in Vraja-bhūmi. This left him bewildered.
Thus ends the Third Chapter of Part Two of Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī’s Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta,
entitled “Bhajana: Worship.”
BB 4. Vaikuṇṭha: The Spiritual Kingdom
4. Vaikuṇṭha: The Spiritual Kingdom
BB 2.4.1
ekākinātra bhramatā mayāsyā
bhūmeḥ śriyaṁ kutracid apy adṛṣṭām
sampaśyatā saṁvasatā vanāntaḥ
sarvaṁ vimohād iva vismṛtaṁ tat
ekākinā—alone; atra—here; bhramatā—wandering; mayā—by me; asyāḥ—of this; bhūmeḥ—
earth; śriyam—the splendor; kutracit api—anywhere; adṛṣṭām—not seen; sampaśyatā—
observing; saṁvasatā—taking up residence; vana-antaḥ—in a forest; sarvam—all; vimohāt—
due to delusion; iva—as if; vismṛtam—forgotten; tat—that.
I wandered alone, observing on the earth a splendor I had never seen anywhere. Taking up
residence in a forest, as if in a daze I forgot everything from before.
This Fourth Chapter describes the transcendental reality of Vaikuṇṭha and the appearance and
qualities of its inhabitants. The chapter glorifies the Deity forms of the Supreme Lord and
extols the position of Ayodhyā above Vaikuṇṭha, and of Dvārakā above Ayodhyā.
The first part of the chapter shows that Śrī Vraja-bhūmi in Mathurā District is superior to
every other place in the material universe and even to the abode of liberation. When Gopakumāra returned to the earth where he was born, he could see with his own eyes the special
beauty of Vṛndāvana forest and the rest of Vraja-bhūmi. Nowhere else inside or outside this
universe had he seen such splendor. Taking up residence again in the various forests of Vraja,
Gopa-kumāra was so enchanted that he forgot everything the associates of Lord Nārāyaṇa had
told him about how to attain the spiritual kingdom of Vaikuṇṭha. The very name of this
district, Mathurā, implies that it charms and agitates—literally, “churns” (mathnāti)—the
mind of everyone who goes there.
BB 2.4.2
śrīman-madhu-purīṁ krīḍābhramaṇa-kramato gataḥ
tatra māthura-viprebhyo
’śrauṣaṁ bhāgavatādikam
śrīmat-madhu-purīm—to Śrī Mathurā; krīḍā-bhramaṇa—of playful wandering; kramataḥ—in
the course; gataḥ—come; tatra—there; māthura—of Mathurā; viprebhyaḥ—from the
brāhmaṇas; aśrauṣam—I heard; bhāgavata-ādikam—the Bhāgavatam and other scriptures.
In the course of my playful wandering, I came to Mathurā, Śrī Madhupurī. There I heard the
Bhāgavatam and other scriptures from the local brāhmaṇas.
By the grace of the Lord of Mathurā, Gopa-kumāra obtained everything he desired. Following
the regular parikrama path, he eventually arrived in Mathurā City. Then the devoted and
learned brāhmaṇas of Mathurā taught him the essence of the revealed scriptures, primarily as
given in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and a few other texts that faithfully follow the Bhāgavatam on
the science of bhagavad-bhakti.
BB 2.4.3
bhaktiṁ nava-vidhāṁ samyag
jṣātvedaṁ vanam āgataḥ
apaśyaṁ sahasaivātra
śrīmad-guru-varaṁ nijam
understanding; idam—this; vanam—to the forest; āgataḥ—come; apaśyam—I saw; sahasā
eva—at once; atra—here; śrīmat-guru—divine spiritual master; varam—best; nijam—my.
After rightly understanding the meaning of devotional service in its nine forms, I came to this
forest. And as soon as I arrived I met my divine spiritual master.
By hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from the qualified Mathurā brāhmaṇas, at last Gopa-kumāra
systematically learned the science of devotional service. He learned what is favorable and
unfavorable to bhakti, or in other words what a devotee should accept and what he should
reject. This knowledge of bhāgavata-dharma enabled him to properly value the association of
Śrī Vṛndāvana-dhāma and of that special resident of Vṛndāvana his spiritual master.
BB 2.4.4
pūrva-vad rājamāno ’sau
dṛṣṭvā māṁ praṇataṁ mudā
sāśīr-vādaṁ samāliṅgya
sarva-jṣo ’kṛpayat-tarām
pūrva-vat—as before; rājamānaḥ—appearing splendid; asau—he; dṛṣṭvā—seeing; mām—me;
praṇatam—who was offering obeisances; mudā—joyfully; sa-āśīḥ-vādam—with blessings;
samāliṅgya—embracing; sarva-jṣaḥ—all-knowing; akṛpayat—showed
He appeared splendid just as before. And when he saw me lying prostrate before him, he
joyfully embraced me and offered his blessings. Thus my all-knowing master showed me his
extreme mercy.
In all the time that Gopa-kumāra had been away on higher planets, his spiritual master had not
changed, so it was easy for Gopa-kumāra to accept that the spiritual master was both an
incarnation of the Supreme Lord and a rasika expert in the unique mood of Vraja-bhūmi. The
spiritual master showed Gopa-kumāra complete mercy by teaching him enough about
devotional service to lead him through the entire process, up to the stage of full realization.
Being omniscient, the spiritual master was competent to perform this service.
BB 2.4.5
tasya prasādam āsādya
anvatiṣṭhaṁ yathādiṣṭaṁ
bhakti-yogam anāratam
tasya—his; prasādam—grace; āsādya—receiving; mahā—the greatest; gūḍha—secrets;
prakāśakam—revealing; anvatiṣṭham—I followed; yathā—as; ādiṣṭam—instructed; bhaktiyogam—devotional service; anāratam—without interruption.
Receiving his grace, which revealed to me the most confidential secrets, I followed his
instructions by practicing bhakti-yoga without interruption.
Devotional service is the highest form of yoga because it is the means for attaining the world
of Vaikuṇṭha and, even more important, reestablishing one’s own connection with the
Personality of Godhead’s lotus feet. Gopa-kumāra now endeavored with all sincerity to follow
this process systematically, according to his guru’s instructions.
BB 2.4.6-7
saṣjātenācirāt premapūreṇa vivaśo ’bhavam
na kartum aśakaṁ kiṣcit
paraṁ taṁ samakīrtayam
śrī-kṛṣṇa gopāla hare mukunda
govinda he nanda-kiśora kṛṣṇa
hā śrī-yaśodā-tanaya prasīda
śrī-ballavī-jīvana rādhikeśa
saṣjātena—awakened; acirāt—quickly; prema-pūreṇa—by the flood of love; vivaśaḥ—beside
myself; abhavam—I became; na—not; kartum—to do; aśakam—I was able; kiṣcit—anything;
param—else; tam—Him; samakīrtayam—I glorified loudly; śrī-kṛṣṇa—Śrī Kṛṣṇa; gopāla—O
Gopāla; hare—Hari; mukunda—Mukunda; govinda—Govinda; he—O; nanda-kiśora—
Nanda-kiśora; kṛṣṇa—Kṛṣṇa; hā—alas; śrī-yaśodā-tanaya—O darling son of Śrī Yaśodā;
prasīda—please be satisfied; śrī-ballavī-jīvana—O life of the gopīs; rādhikā-īśa—O Lord of
Such a flood of pure love of God so quickly awakened within me that I lost control of myself.
I was unable to do anything but chant the Lord’s glories: “O Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Gopāla, Hari,
Mukunda! Govinda! O Nanda-kiśora! Kṛṣṇa! O darling son of Śrī Yaśodā, please show me
Your favor! O life of the divine cowherd girls, O Lord of Rādhikā!”
On this visit to Vraja-bhūmi, Gopa-kumāra quickly achieved the perfection of prema-bhakti.
This prema so overwhelmed him that he was unable to do anything but sing the Lord’s
glories; he could not even perform proper worship. To show his student how he was
performing nāma-saṅkīrtana, Gopa-kumāra here chants a few of the Supreme Lord’s favorite
BB 2.4.8
evaṁ sa-gānaṁ bahudhāhvayaṁs taṁ
kṣaṇaṁ pranṛtyan kṣaṇam udrudaṁś ca
unmatta-vat kāmam itas tato ’haṁ
bhramāmi dehādikam asmaran svam
evam—thus; sa-gānam—with singing; bahudhā—in various ways; āhvayan—calling out;
tam—to Him; kṣaṇam—one moment; pranṛtyan—dancing exuberantly; kṣaṇam—one
moment; udrudan—sobbing loudly; ca—and; unmatta-vat—like a madman; kāmam—as I
want; itaḥ tataḥ—here and there; aham—I; bhramāmi—wandered; deha-ādikam—body and
so on; asmaran—not remembering; svam—my.
Thus I called out to Kṛṣṇa and sang His glories in various ways. At one moment I danced
exuberantly, at another sobbed out loud. Like a madman I wandered here and there according
to my whims, forgetting my own body and everything else.
Caught up in this state of pure love, Gopa-kumāra completely disregarded external conditions.
He wandered aimlessly like a madman, expressing his transcendental agitation by calling out
such things as “Where are You, where are You, O mighty-armed one?”
BB 2.4.9
ekadā taṁ nija-prāṇanāthaṁ paśyann ivāgrataḥ
dhartuṁ dhāvan gato mohaṁ
nyapataṁ prema-vihvalaḥ
ekadā—one day; tam—Him; nija—own; prāṇa-nātham—Lord of my life; paśyan—seeing;
iva—as if; agrataḥ—before me; dhartum—to take hold; dhāvan—running; gataḥ moham—
fainting; nyapatam—I fell to the ground; prema-vihvalaḥ—overwhelmed by love.
Once I thought I saw the Lord of my life standing before me, and I ran to take hold of Him.
Overwhelmed by love, I fainted and fell to the ground.
The phrase prema-vihvalaḥ, “overwhelmed by love,” explains why Gopa-kumāra was
behaving so strangely.
BB 2.4.10-11
TEXTS 10–11
tāvat taiḥ pārṣadair etya
vaikuṇṭhaṁ netum ātmanaḥ
yānam āropitaḥ sadyo
vyutthāyācālayaṁ dṛśau
sarvam anyādṛśaṁ dṛṣṭvā
vismitaḥ svasthatāṁ gataḥ
pārśve ’paśyaṁ purā dṛṣṭāṁs
tān evātma-priyaṁ-karān
tāvat—just then; taiḥ—by those; pārṣadaiḥ—associates; etya—coming; vaikuṇṭham—to
Vaikuṇṭha; netum—to bring; ātmanaḥ—me; yānam—a vehicle; āropitaḥ—taken aboard;
sadyaḥ—at once; vyutthāya—raising; acālayam—I moved; dṛśau—my eyes; sarvam—all;
gataḥ—obtained; pārśve—at my side; apaśyam—I saw; purā—before; dṛṣṭāḥ—seen; tān—
them; eva—indeed; ātma—of me; priyam-karān—benefactors.
At that moment the associates of the Lord arrived in an airplane to take me to Vaikuṇṭha.
They at once put me on that plane and carried me away, and when I opened my eyes I saw
that everything was different. Shocked, I returned to full consciousness and saw them beside
me, the same benefactors I had met before.
Just as Gopa-kumāra’s pure love reached its peak, the messengers of Vaikuṇṭha came to bring
him to their Lord’s kingdom. They took Gopa-kumāra unconscious onto their Vaikuṇṭha
vehicle, and while in flight he woke up. Opening his eyes and looking around, he was
astonished to find himself in unfamiliar surroundings. He was certainly no longer in Vrajabhūmi. The Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas, Gopa-kumāra’s instructors, had previously evoked in him the
desire to see Vaikuṇṭha and had taught him the specific methods for approaching Vaikuṇṭha.
Now, by carrying him there, they were personally awarding him the success of his endeavors.
BB 2.4.12
mahā-tejasvināṁ tejo
muṣṇato ’nupamaṁ varam
vimānaṁ yogyam ārūḍhān
anirūpyaṁ su-rūpa-vat
mahā-tejasvinām—of the most powerful luminaries; tejaḥ—the brilliance; muṣṇataḥ—
eclipsing; anupamam—unequalled; varam—excellent; vimānam—on the airplane; yogyam—
suitable; ārūḍhān—riding; anirūpyam—incomparable; surūpa-vat—very beautiful.
The plane upon which they rode was wonderful, incomparable, indescribably beautiful,
excelling in brilliance the most powerful luminaries.
The airplane from Vaikuṇṭha glowed more brilliantly than the sun. In the material world,
airplanes (vimānas) also transport the demigods through outer space, but those material
airplanes are nothing like the one Gopa-kumāra and his escorts were riding. It was certainly
yogya, a suitable conveyance for Gopa-kumāra. Words could not describe how elegantly it
was built, since it was manifested from the pure substance of the spiritual world.
BB 2.4.13
sambhramāt praṇamantaṁ mām
āśliṣyāśvāsayan muhuḥ
aicchan sva-sadṛśaṁ rūpaṁ
dātuṁ yukti-śatena te
sambhramāt—reverently; praṇamantam—who was offering obeisances; mām—me; āśliṣya—
embracing; āśvāsayan—reassuring;
sadṛśam—similar to their own; rūpam—a bodily form; dātum—to give; yukti—of arguments;
śatena—with hundreds; te—they.
As I reverently offered obeisances, those associates of the Lord embraced me and reassured
me again and again. Putting forward hundreds of arguments, they wished to give me a bodily
form like theirs.
The associates of Nārāyaṇa assured Gopa-kumāra that he need not be so surprised and should
not treat them with such reverence. They were his friends, they told him, and were now
bringing him to Vaikuṇṭha. They furthermore tried to convince him to accept a Vaikuṇṭha
body like theirs, with four arms. His human body, they argued, was not suitable for living in
Vaikuṇṭha; it would not be adequate for fully enjoying Vaikuṇṭha life.
BB 2.4.14
tad asvī-kṛtya tu svīyaṁ
govardhana-bhuvaṁ vapuḥ
teṣāṁ prabhāvatas tādṛgguṇa-rūpādy alambhayam
tat—that; asvī-kṛtya—refusing; tu—but; svīyam—my own; govardhana-bhuvan—born in
Govardhana; vapuḥ—body; teṣām—their; prabhāvataḥ—by the influence; tādṛk—similar;
guṇa—qualities; rūpa—beauty; ādi—and so on; alambhayam—I assumed.
But I refused their offer, and instead, by their influence, my own body born in Govardhana
assumed qualities and beauty like theirs.
Gopa-kumāra did not want to accept sārūpya-mukti, the form of liberation in which one’s
body is virtually indistinguishable from that of Lord Nārāyaṇa. He was satisfied with the body
of a resident of Govardhana. Nonetheless, his hosts blessed his body with qualities like theirs,
making it eternal, purely spiritual, and effulgent. In addition, Gopa-kumāra gained the mystic
powers to do whatever he might want, powers that all residents of Vaikuṇṭha naturally
BB 2.4.15
durvitarkyeṇa vartmanā
vaikuṇṭhaṁ taiḥ saha vrajan
parama-ānanda—with supreme bliss; yuktena—endowed; durvitarkyeṇa—inconceivable;
vartmanā—by the path; jagat—from the entire world; vilakṣaṇena—distinct; aham—I;
vaikuṇṭham—to Vaikuṇṭha; taiḥ saha—in their company; vrajan—going.
In their company I traveled along the path to Vaikuṇṭha, a path inconceivable, supremely
blissful, and distinct from everything in this world.
BB 2.4.16-17
TEXTS 16–17
teṣu lokeṣv alokeṣvāvaraṇeṣv api sarvataḥ
dṛṣṭi-pāte ’pi lajjeyaṁ
pūjye tad-adhikāribhiḥ
loka-pālādibhiś cordhvamukhaiḥ sāṣjali-mastakaiḥ
vegād utkṣipyamāṇābhiḥ
teṣu—among those; lokeṣu—worlds; alokeṣu—and otherworldly regions; āvaraṇeṣu—shells
of the universe; api—and; sarvataḥ—on all sides; dṛṣṭi-pāte—due to my glancing; api—
adhikāribhiḥ—presiding; loka-pāla—by the rulers of the planets; ādibhiḥ—and others; ca—
also; ūrdhva—facing upwards; mukhaiḥ—whose faces; sa-aṣjali—with joined palms;
mastakaiḥ—on whose heads; vegāt—vigorously; utkṣipyamāṇābhiḥ—being thrown upwards;
puṣpa—of flowers; lāja—parched rice; ādi—and so on; vṛṣṭibhiḥ—by showers.
My eyes fell upon all those worlds, cosmic regions, and coverings of the universe I had
visited before, and I felt ashamed. The residents and presiding rulers of those places were
honoring me. Faces upraised, palms joined above their heads, they vigorously showered
flowers, parched rice, and other auspicious offerings upwards toward me.
Gopa-kumāra had previously traveled to the abode of liberation by passing through the sphere
of the sun, but the path of the present journey to Vaikuṇṭha was even more exceptional. This
was the path the pure devotees traverse when they leave this material world for the spiritual
world. Unlike tiresome material roads, this path is supremely blissful, and it leads to the realm
of Vaikuṇṭha, a realm superior even to the abode of liberation. The same worlds Gopa-kumāra
had previously reached with great labor within the fourteen planetary systems and beyond, he
now easily passed through one after another. He passed the planets encircled by the Lokāloka
Mountain and entered the part of the universe where sunlight cannot reach. Then he went
again through each of the eight covering shells of the universe.
On his first trip to Mahākāla-pura, the abode of liberation, Gopa-kumāra had known well that
the regions through which he was passing were all creations of material illusion. On the
present journey, however, his realization was more advanced; he now understood that
liberation itself is of little value, so he was ashamed even to look at the material attractions he
had once found of interest. As he passed by all the planets, he had to tolerate the respectful
greetings of Indra and the other rulers.
BB 2.4.18
taiḥ stūyamāno jaya-śabda-pūrvakaṁ
praṇamyamānaś ca pade pade calan
tucchaṁ puro mukti-padaṁ ca locayan
ūrdhvaṁ tataḥ śrī-śiva-lokam avrajam
taiḥ—by them; stūyamānaḥ—being praised; jaya-śabda-pūrvakam—with the sound “Jaya”;
praṇamyamānaḥ—being offered obeisances; ca—and; pade pade—at every step; calan—
moving; tuccham—insignificant; puraḥ—before me; mukti—of liberation; padam—the
abode; ca—and; locayan—seeing; ūrdhvam—upward; tataḥ—from there; śrī-śiva-lokam—to
the abode of Lord Śiva; avrajam—I traveled.
Praised by cries of “Victory!” and offered obeisances at every step, I moved on, and before
my eyes I saw the abode of liberation and how trifling it was. And traveling upward from
there, I came to the world of Lord Śiva.
BB 2.4.19
somaṁ śivaṁ tatra mudā praṇamya
ānandito vākya-mano-durāpamāhātmya-mālaṁ tam agāṁ vikuṇṭham
sa-umam—along with Umā; śivam—to Lord Śiva; tatra—there; mudā—joyfully; praṇamya—
bowing down; tena—by him; ādara—with respect; prema—and love; sat-ukti—of gracious
words; jālaiḥ—with a flood; ānanditaḥ—made to feel blissful; vākya—by words; manaḥ—
and the mind; durāpa—hardly approachable; māhātmya—of kinds of greatness; mālam—
whose series; tam—him; agām—I went; vikuṇṭham—to Vaikuṇṭha.
There I bowed down to Lord Śiva and Umā with great pleasure, and he made me feel blissful
with a flood of gracious words, filled with love and respect. And then I went on, to that place
whose garland of glories cannot be touched by words or by the mind—Vaikuṇṭha.
BB 2.4.20
pārṣadair idam ukto ’haṁ
tvaṁ tiṣṭheha kṣaṇaṁ bahiḥ
vijṣāpya prabhum asmābhiḥ
purīṁ yāvat pravekṣyase
pārṣadaiḥ—by the associates; idam—this; uktaḥ—told; aham—I; tvam—you; tiṣṭha—please
wait; iha—here; kṣaṇam—for a moment; bahiḥ—outside; vijṣāpya—being informed;
prabhum—the Lord; asmābhiḥ—by us; purīm—the city; yāvat—until; pravekṣyase—you will
be brought inside.
The associates of the Lord told me: You please wait here for a moment outside. We should
take permission from our Lord before bringing you into His city.
The Vaikuṇṭha-dūtas asked Gopa-kumāra to stay behind in the gateway while they went
inside Vaikuṇṭha to secure permission for his entrance. This is the standard etiquette for
introducing someone to the supreme opulence of Vaikuṇṭha: specific permission should be
obtained for him either from Lord Vaikuṇṭhanātha directly or from a proper deputized
BB 2.4.21
netrābhyāṁ gaṇaya sthiraḥ
atra—here; adṛṣṭa—never seen; aśruta—never heard of; āścarya—of wonders; samudra—of
the ocean; ūrmi—of waves; paramparām—the endless sequence; bhagavat-bhakti—with
devotion to the Supreme Lord; dīptābhyām—which are illumined; netrābhyām—with your
two eyes; gaṇaya—please count; sthiraḥ—calm.
Stay calm, and with your eyes illumined by devotion for the Lord count the waves of the vast
ocean of wonders that flow here, each after the next, wonders you have never seen or heard of
Gopa-kumāra’s escorts could see he was feeling distress from being kept apart from his Lord.
So they gave him this lighthearted advice to console him and keep his mind calm and his eyes
busy with the work of counting the wonders that would pass before him. From the many
amazing things he would see during his short wait in the gopura of Vaikuṇṭha, he would learn
something about the unique glories of Lord Vaikuṇṭha-nātha, and that would strengthen his
eagerness to have the Lord’s darśana. He would learn about the methods of worshiping the
Supreme Lord in awe and reverence. And moreover the experience he would gain while
waiting would teach him something about the many benefits of becoming a servant of Lord
Nārāyaṇa. Thus his short time in the gateway would be productive. Gopa-kumāra’s hosts were
joking when they told him to count the wonderful things he would see, a task no easier than
counting the waves in the ocean. “How will my eyes have the power to do this?” Gopakumāra might ask. Anticipating this question, the Vaikuṇṭha messengers told him that his eyes
would be illumined by bhagavad-bhakti.
BB 2.4.22
śrī-gopa-kumāra uvāca
teṣu cāntaḥ praviṣṭeṣu
dvāra-prānte bahiḥ sthitaḥ
apaśyam ekam āyāntaṁ
praviśantaṁ ca tāṁ purīm
śrī-gopa-kumāraḥ uvāca—Śrī Gopa-kumāra said; teṣu—they; ca—and; antaḥ—inside;
praviṣṭeṣu—having entered; dvāra—of the entrance gate; prānte—in the pavilion; bahiḥ—
outside; sthitaḥ—standing; apaśyam—I saw; ekam—one person; āyāntam—coming;
praviśantam—entering; ca—and; tām—that; purīm—city.
Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: They went in, and I stood outside in the pavilion of the entrance gate. I
then beheld someone coming and entering that great city.
BB 2.4.23
brahmāṇḍa-śata-bhūty-āḍhyasad-yānārūḍham adbhutaiḥ
gītādibhir mudāviṣṭaṁ
kāntādyaiḥ sadṛśaṁ prabhoḥ
brahmāṇḍa—of universes; śata—hundreds; bhūti—with the opulences; āḍhya—endowed;
sat—transcendental; yāna—on a vehicle; ārūḍham—riding; adbhutaiḥ—wonderful; gītaādibhiḥ—by songs and so on; mudā—with delight; āviṣṭam—filled; kānta-ādyaiḥ—in bodily
luster and so on; sadṛśam—similar; prabhoḥ—to the Lord.
He rode on a transcendental vehicle endowed with the opulence of hundreds of universes.
Music and other entertainment filled him with delight. He resembled the Supreme Lord in
luster and beauty.
The person Gopa-kumāra saw entering on a Vaikuṇṭha airplane was absorbed in ecstasy. He
was surrounded by his own entourage like the Supreme Lord and by riches greater than
hundreds of material universes, he was dressed and ornamented just like the Lord, and his
companions were chanting his praises as if he were the Lord.
BB 2.4.24
taṁ matvā śrī-hariṁ nātha
pāhīti muhur ālapan
naman karṇau pidhāyāhaṁ
saṁjṣayānena vāritaḥ
tam—him; matvā—considering; śrī-harim—Śrī Hari; nātha—O master; pāhi—protect; iti—
thus; muhuḥ—repeatedly; ālapan—crying; naman—bowing down; karṇau—his two ears;
pidhāya—covering; aham—I; saṁjṣayā—with gestures; anena—by him; vāritaḥ—stopped.
I thought he was Śrī Hari, and I cried out again and again, “O Lord, protect me!” and bowed
down to him. But he covered both his ears and gestured for me to stop.
This returning resident of Vaikuṇṭha was shocked to hear himself addressed as the Lord of
Vaikuṇṭha. Covering his ears with his hands and sticking out his tongue, he waved another
hand at Gopa-kumāra to stop him.
BB 2.4.25
dāso ’smi dāsa-dāso ’smīty
uktvā tasmin gate ’ntaram
anyaḥ ko ’py āgato ’muṣmān
mahīyān vaibhavādibhiḥ
dāsaḥ—a servant; asmi—I am; dāsa—of the servants; dāsaḥ—a servant; asmi—I am; iti—
thus; uktvā—saying; tasmin—there; gate—going; antaram—inside; anyaḥ—another; kaḥ
api—someone; āgataḥ—coming; amuṣmāt—than the other; mahīyān—more splendid;
vaibhava-ādibhiḥ—with opulence and so on.
“I am a servant,” he told me, “a servant of the servants,” and he moved on into the city. A
short while later another person came by, splendid with even more power and opulence.
BB 2.4.26
taṁ dṛṣṭvā sarvathāmaṁsi
jagad-īśam ahaṁ purīm
praviśantaṁ nijām etya
gatvā kutrāpi līlayā
tam—at him; dṛṣṭvā—looking; sarvathā—in all regards; amaṁsi—I considered; jagat-īśam—
the Lord of the universe; aham—I; purīm—abode; praviśantam—entering; nijām—His own;
etya—coming; gatvā—having gone; kutra api—somewhere; līlayā—as a pastime.
I looked at him and thought, “Surely this must be the Lord of the universe. He must have gone
somewhere as a pastime, and now He is entering His own abode.”
Gopa-kumāra was awestruck and not thinking clearly. He should have known that because his
escorts had gone inside to inform Lord Nārāyaṇa of his arrival, the Lord must be in
Vaikuṇṭha, not returning from elsewhere. But perhaps Gopa-kumāra’s escorts were simply
unaware that the Lord had gone out on a short excursion.
BB 2.4.27
sambhramaiḥ praṇamantaṁ māṁ
pūrva-vat stuti-pūrvakam
dṛṣṭvā so ’pi tathaivoktvā
sa-snehaṁ prāviśat purīm
sambhramaiḥ—with gestures of reverence; praṇamantam—who was bowing down; mām—to
me; pūrva-vat—as before; stuti-pūrvakam—with offering of prayers; dṛṣṭvā—seeing; saḥ—
he; api—also; tathā eva—in the same way; uktvā—speaking; sa-sneham—affectionately;
prāviśat—entered; purīm—the city.
When the person saw me bowing down with gestures of reverence and offering him prayers,
as I had honored the one before, he affectionately spoke to me the same way, and entered the
Even more convinced that this second person was the Supreme Lord, Gopa-kumāra offered
him prayers with all sincerity. But just as the other returning Vaikuṇṭha-vāsī had done, this
one told Gopa-kumāra, “I am just a servant of the Lord,” and hurried inside the city.
BB 2.4.28
ke ’py ekaśo dvandvaśo ’nye
yugapad bahuśo ’pare
praviśanti purīṁ prabhoḥ
ke api—some; ekaśaḥ—alone; dvandvaśaḥ—in pairs; anye—others; yugapat—together;
bahuśaḥ—in large groups; apare—others; pūrva-pūrva—than each previous one; adhika—
greater; śrīkāḥ—whose splendor; praviśanti—they entered; purīm—the city; prabhoḥ—of the
Many others came—some alone, others in pairs, and yet others together in larger groups—and
all of them, each more splendid than the last, entered the city of the Lord.
BB 2.4.29
tāṁś ca paśyan purevāhaṁ
majjan sambhrama-sāgare
naman stuvan nivārye taiḥ
snigdha-vāg-amṛtais tathā
tān—them; ca—and; paśyan—seeing; purā—as before; iva—as if; aham—I; majjan—
drowning; sambhrama—of awe; sāgare—in an ocean; naman—bowing down; stuvan—
offering prayers; nivārye—I was stopped; taiḥ—by them; snigdha-vāk—of loving words;
amṛtaiḥ—by the nectar; tathā—also.
Seeing them as they passed by, I was immersed, as before, in an ocean of awe. Again and
again I bowed down and offered prayers, and each time again they stopped me with nectarean
affectionate words.
These Vaikuṇṭha residents whom Gopa-kumāra saw entering the gateway last were army
commanders and other important authorities, returning late because they had been busy with
various responsibilities outside. The residents who had first passed Gopa-kumāra had been in
a hurry, so intent on their business that their opulence had little chance to show. So the
residents he now saw going by seemed more and more opulent, one after another. Gopa-
kumāra, submerged in an ocean of reverence, failed to reason that these different persons
could not all be Lord Nārāyaṇa. Each of them was in fact supremely attractive, so even when
Gopa-kumāra finally realized that these were servants of God, not God Himself, they still
impressed him as such great personages that he spontaneously wanted to worship them.
BB 2.4.30
teṣu sva-sevā-sāmagrīṁ
gṛhītvā ke ’pi kām api
dhāvanti purataḥ kecin
mattā bhakti-sudhā-rasaiḥ
teṣu—among them; sva-sevā—for their own service; sāmagrīm—items; gṛhītvā—carrying; ke
api—some (devotees); kām api—some (items); dhāvanti—they ran; purataḥ—forward;
kecit—some; mattāḥ—intoxicated; bhakti—of devotional service; sudhā—of the nectar;
rasaiḥ—by the tastes.
Some of them carried various items for performing their service, and others simply hurried
foward, intoxicated by the tastes of the nectar of devotion.
Some of these servants of Lord Nārāyaṇa were carrying paraphernalia for His worship—
cāmara fans and other objects—apparently for their individual services. Others weren’t
carrying anything, but were simply running in a frenzy of devotion, as if their only service
was to be mad in love of God. In the following verses, Gopa-kumāra elaborates on how these
Vaikuṇṭha-vāsīs were engaged in various kinds of service.
BB 2.4.31
evam ātmātma-sevāsu
evam—only; ātma-ātma—each in their own; sevāsu—services; vyagra—absorbed; antaḥkaraṇa—their mind; indriyāḥ—and senses; vicitra—various; bhajana—in worship; ānanda—
from the ecstasy; vinoda—of pleasure; bhara—by the great weight; bhūṣitāḥ—decorated.
All had their minds and senses busily absorbed, each in his own service, and all were
decorated with a myriad of pleasures from ecstatic worship of the Lord.
BB 2.4.32
praṇamantaḥ stuvantaś ca
kurvāṇāś citram īhitam
bhūṣa—of their ornaments; bhūṣaṇa—ornamenting; sarva—all; aṅgāḥ—their limbs; nija—
their own; prabhu-vara—for the worshipable Lord; ucitāḥ—suitable; praṇamantaḥ—offering
obeisances; stuvantaḥ—reciting prayers; ca—and; kurvāṇāḥ—performing; citram—various;
Offering obeisances, reciting prayers, and doing all sorts of wonderful things, those devotees,
their every limb lending grace to their ornaments, looked fit to appear before their
worshipable Lord.
BB 2.4.33
vitanvato mahā-līlākautukaṁ cakravarti-vat
lakṣmī-pater bhagavataś
vitanvataḥ—expounding; mahā—great; līlā—of the pastimes; kautukam—the wonder;
cakravarti-vat—like a king; lakṣmī-pateḥ—of the husband of the goddess of fortune;
bhagavataḥ—the Supreme Lord; caraṇa-abja—the lotus feet; didṛkṣavaḥ—eager to see.
They extolled the wonder of the great pastimes of the Lord, the husband of Lakṣmī, as if His
pastimes were those of some all-victorious king. And they were eager to see the Lord’s lotus
Gopa-kumāra was amazed at how these persons conducted themselves. They sang and danced
without inhibition, expressing the glories of their victorious Lord. They told one another how
their Lord favored His responsible servants by providing suitable homes and fine food and
drink. Indeed, because Lord Nārāyaṇa is the husband of the goddess Lakṣmī, it is only fitting
that He display His sovereignty with such opulence, and that His servants share in it.
BB 2.4.34
kecit sa-parivārās te
kecic ca sa-paricchadāḥ
kecid bahir-dhṛta-svīyaparivāra-paricchadāḥ
kecit—some; sa-parivārāḥ—with their families; te—they; kecit—some; ca—and; saparicchadāḥ—with their paraphernalia; kecit—some; bahiḥ—outside; dhṛta—leaving; svīya—
their; parivāra—families; paricchadāḥ—and paraphernalia.
Some were with their families, some with an array of things, and others had left their families
and things outside.
Some Vaikuṇṭha-vāsīs were entering the Lord’s kingdom with their children, wives, and
servants. Some rode in their own vehicles and carried their own umbrellas, cāmaras, and
weapons. Others chose to keep their families and baggage outside the gate of Vaikuṇṭha.
BB 2.4.35
svasminn eva vilāpyaike
kṛtsnaṁ parikaraṁ nijam
akiṣcanā ivaikākitayā dhyāna-rasāplutāḥ
svasmin—in themselves; eva—indeed; vilāpya—absorbing; eke—some; kṛtsnam—all;
parikaram—paraphernalia; nijam—own; akiṣcanāḥ—persons with no possessions; iva—as if;
ekākitayā—alone; dhyāna—of meditation; rasa—in the moods; āplutāḥ—immersed.
Some had absorbed all that they had into themselves, and like beggars without possessions
they came alone, immersed in the moods of devotional meditation.
The Vaikuṇṭha devotees who preferred a more meditative mood of service hid, within their
own transcendental bodies, the families and property Lord Nārāyaṇa had awarded them. So
the devotees arriving in Vaikuṇṭha were full in all powers and showed the full range of
devotional variegatedness in their pastimes of worshiping the Supreme Lord in perfect
BB 2.4.36
kecid vicitra-rūpāṇi
dhṛtvā dhṛtvā muhur muhuḥ
vicitra-bhūṣaṇākāravihārāḍhyā mano-harāḥ
kecit—some; vicitra—various; rūpāṇi—forms; dhṛtvā—assuming; dhṛtvā—assuming; muhuḥ
muhuḥ—again and again; vicitra—various; bhūṣaṇa—with ornaments; ākāra—bodily
configurations; vihāra—and ways of playing; āḍhyāḥ—adorned; manaḥ-harāḥ—very
Some assumed different forms at different times, with all kinds of ornaments, bodily features,
and ways of acting, all exceedingly attractive.
The Vaikuṇṭha devotees not only acted in many different ways but also assumed many
differing forms, including even those of animals, birds, and trees. Some devotees would show
one form for some time and then change into another.
BB 2.4.37
kecin narā vānarāś ca
devā daityās tatharṣayaḥ
pare varṇāśramācāradīkṣā-lakṣaṇa-dhāriṇaḥ
kecit—some; narāḥ—humans; vānarāḥ—monkeys; ca—and; devāḥ—demigods; daityāḥ—
demons; tathā—also; ṛṣayaḥ—sages; pare—others; varṇa-āśrama—of the social and spiritual
orders of society; ācāra—into the activities; dīkṣā—of initiation; lakṣaṇa—the signs;
Some appeared as humans, some as monkeys, demigods, demons, or sages. And some bore
the signs of persons initiated into the behavior of the varṇāśrama system.
The residents of Vaikuṇṭha are in fact purely transcendental persons. The substance of their
bodies is unalloyed sac-cid-ānanda, so these residents never belong to the human or any other
material species, nor to the limited designations of varṇas and āśramas. Still, for the Supreme
Lord’s pleasure they may assume or relinquish any form at any time. Some of them, therefore,
appeared before Gopa-kumāra like members of Vedic society, wearing the signs of particular
āśramas and varṇas. Some wore sacred threads like initiated brāhmaṇas, indicating that they
chanted mantras for worshiping the Lord, and they carried kuśa grass and kamaṇḍalus in their
hands, wore tulasī-mālās on their necks, and had tilaka on their foreheads.
BB 2.4.38
tri-netrāś catur-ānanāḥ
catur-bhujāḥ sahasrāsyāḥ
kecid aṣṭa-bhujās tathā
indra—to Indra; candra—Candra; ādi—and so on; sadṛśāḥ—similar; tri-netrāḥ—having three
eyes; catuḥ-ānanāḥ—having four faces; catuḥ-bhujāḥ—having four arms; sahasra-āsyāḥ—
having a thousand faces; kecit—some; aṣṭa-bhujāḥ—having eight arms; tathā—also.
Some looked like Indra, Candra, or other demigods. Some had three eyes, or four heads, or
four arms, or eight—or a thousand faces.
Some of the Vaikuṇṭha residents looked like the king of heaven, Indra, with a thousand eyes
on their bodies and thunderbolt weapons in their hands. Others appeared like the gods of the
moon, sun, fire, and wind. These demigods headed by Indra are not actually incarnations of
the Supreme Lord like Śiva and Brahmā, who are especially empowered guṇa-avatāras. If
required for service to Lord Nārāyaṇa, the Vaikuṇṭha-vāsīs can assume the exact forms of
ordinary demigods; but empowered incarnations and direct expansions of Nārāyaṇa, such as
Ananta Śeṣa, the Vaikuṇṭha-vāsīs can only emulate, to the extent of copying certain of their
bodily features.
BB 2.4.39
etat-parama-vaicitrīhetuṁ vakṣyāmi te ’grataḥ
kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasāsvādavatāṁ kiṁ syān na sundaram
etat—of this; parama—great; vaicitrī—variegatedness; hetum—the reason; vakṣyāmi—I shall
say; te—to you; agrataḥ—later; kṛṣṇa-bhakti—of devotion to Lord Kṛṣṇa; rasa—the taste;
āsvāda-vatām—for those who relish; kim—what; syāt—is; na—not; sundaram—beautiful.
Later I shall explain to you the reason for this extreme variety of appearances. For those who
enjoy the moods of devotion to Kṛṣṇa, is there anything not beautiful?
In Vaikuṇṭha the liberation of sārūpya, having a form similar to that of the Supreme Lord, is
available to everyone. We may reasonably expect, therefore, that all the Vaikuṇṭha residents
should have four arms and look like Lord Nārāyaṇa. Why then did some of them look like
humans, monkeys, and all sorts of other forms of life? Gopa-kumāra later heard from Nārada
Muni the definitive philosophical explanation for this variety, and in the course of the present
narration Gopa-kumāra will relate that to his own student. But even granting that there is a
reason for varieties of bodies in Vaikuṇṭha, why should Lord Nārāyaṇa’s devotees assume
ugly bodies like those of monkeys? In response it may be said that we know from common
worldly experience that anyone who has intense attraction to something cannot help but see
that thing as beautiful, no matter what it is. This is also true on the spiritual level, otherwise
why would the Supreme Lord and His devotees be so attracted to persons like Hanumān and
BB 2.4.40-41
TEXTS 40–41
teṣāṁ vaikuṇṭha-vāsinām
tasya vaikuṇṭha-lokasya
tasya tan-nāyakasya ca
tāni māhātmya-jātāni
prapaṣcāntar-gataiḥ kila
dṛṣṭāntair nopayujyante
na śakyante ca bhāṣitum
vaikuṇṭha-vāsinām—residents of Vaikuṇṭha; tasya—of that; vaikuṇṭha-lokasya—Vaikuṇṭhaloka; tasya—of Him; tat—of that world; nāyakasya—the master; ca—and; tāni—those;
māhātmya-jātāni—many kinds of glories; prapaṣca—the material creation; antaḥ-gataiḥ—by
those who are located; kila—indeed; dṛṣṭāntaiḥ—by analogies; na upayujyante—is not
appropriate; na śakyante—is not possible; ca—and; bhāṣitum—to say.
The residents of Vaikuṇṭha transcend everything material. For persons within the material
creation, the manifold glories of those residents and the glories of the Vaikuṇṭha world and its
master are beyond analogy and beyond the power of words to describe.
Normally the varieties of life forms in any realm indicate a vast hierarchy of relative
superiority and inferiority, as Gopa-kumāra saw among the residents of heaven. Such a
hierarchy might seem out of place in Vaikuṇṭha, where everyone should be equal on the
platform of sac-cid-ānanda. Gopa-kumāra wants to explain carefully to his student the real
situation but is afraid of committing offenses by applying material examples to the
transcendental reality of Vaikuṇṭha. Therefore he first gives a disclaimer: Comparisons to
things of the known world may help neophytes begin to understand the spiritual world but can
never do full justice to that higher reality. Since the categories of spiritual existence are totally
different from those of the material world, spiritually immature intelligence has no power to
comprehend them directly.
BB 2.4.42-43
TEXTS 42–43
tathāpi bhavato brahman
prapaṣcāntar-gatasya hi
tat tat syād bodhitaṁ sukham
tathety ucyeta yat kiṣcit
tad āgaḥ kṣamatāṁ hariḥ
tathā api—nonetheless; bhavataḥ—of your good self; brahman—O brāhmaṇa; prapaṣcaantaḥ—into the material creation; gatasya—who have come; hi—indeed; prapaṣca—material;
parivāra—the environment; antaḥ—within; dṛṣṭi—by the vision; garbhita—confined;
cetasaḥ—whose intelligence; tat—of that (material environment); dṛṣṭānta—by examples;
ākulena—agitated; eva—only; tat tat—the various facts; syāt—may be; bodhitam—
understood; sukham—easily; tathā—so; iti—thus; ucyeta—may be said; yat—what; kiṣcit—
something; tat—that; āgaḥ—offense; kṣamatām—may He forgive; hariḥ—Lord Hari.
Nonetheless, my dear brāhmaṇa, you are a resident of the material world, and your
intelligence is confined because all you can see is what is material. So I say “It is like this” so
that by material examples you might understand various things more easily. May Lord Hari
forgive this offense.
An attempt to describe spiritual existence in material terms is, strictly speaking, inappropriate
and impossible, yet if a conditioned soul can be even a little attracted by words evoking some
of the glories of Vaikuṇṭha, and if he can be encouraged to take up the task of spiritual
development, the impossible can indeed become possible. Any honest attempt to enlighten the
conditioned soul with Vaikuṇṭha consciousness is worthwhile and praiseworthy. Even though
our thinking may now be covered by concepts of matter and conditioned life, pure Vaiṣṇavas
can guide us gradually to transcendental understanding. We know from ordinary experience
what a king is, so if we can further appreciate the Personality of Godhead as the supreme
king, we have begun to understand His glories.
BB 2.4.44
tatratyānāṁ ca sarveṣāṁ
teṣāṁ sāmyaṁ parasparam
tāratamyaṁ ca lakṣyeta
na virodhas tathāpi ca
tatratyānām—of the residents of that place; ca—and; sarveṣām—all; teṣām—of them;
sāmyam—equality; parasparam—mutual; tāratamyam—a hierarchy; ca—and; lakṣyeta—
there seems to be; na—no; virodhaḥ—contradiction; tathā api—nonetheless; ca—and.
Though there seem to be hierarchies in Vaikuṇṭha, its residents all enjoy equality among
themselves. In this there is no contradiction.
The residents of Vaikuṇṭha are equal because all of them can do anything they want. That
some of them appear greater than others is not contradictory, because all these devotees show
their natural opulence and power in different degrees by their own free choice.
BB 2.4.45
na mātsaryādayo doṣāḥ
santi kasyāpi teṣu hi
guṇāḥ svābhāvikā bhānti
nityāḥ satyāḥ sahasraśaḥ
na—no; mātsarya-ādayaḥ—envy and so on; doṣāḥ—faults; santi—are; kasya api—of anyone;
teṣu—among them; hi—certainly; guṇāḥ—qualities; svābhāvikāḥ—innate; bhānti—shine;
nityāḥ—constant; satyāḥ—good; sahasraśaḥ—by the thousands.
Absent among them are faults like envy. And their innate good qualities shine forth forever by
the thousands.
The superficial appearance of superior and inferior classes among the residents of Vaikuṇṭha
cannot cause dissatisfaction there, because the Vaikuṇṭha-vāsīs are all faultless. They are
never affected by jealousy, the inability to tolerate the superiority of others. They never
quarrel and never disrespect anyone. Rather, they are eternally full in all good qualities,
including friendship, humility, and respect. Material qualities may also be considered eternal
in the sense that material nature herself is eternal, but the qualities of the residents of
Vaikuṇṭha are not only eternal (nityāḥ) but also real (satyāḥ); they are not products of Māyā.
The qualities of the Vaikuṇṭha-vāsīs are svābhāvikāḥ, the natural, spontaneous expressions of
spiritual personality.
As Lord Brahmā describes in the Third Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.15.18–19):
pārāvatānyabhṛta-sārasa-cakravākadātyūha-haṁsa-śuka-tittiri-barhiṇāṁ yaḥ
kolāhalo viramate ’cira-mātram uccair
bhṛṅgādhipe hari-kathām iva gāyamāne
“When the king of bees hums in a high pitch, singing the glories of the Lord, there is a
temporary lull in the noise of the pigeon and the cuckoo, the crane and the cakravāka, the
swan, the parrot, the partridge, and the peacock. Such transcendental birds stop their own
singing simply to hear the glories of the Lord.
gandhe ’rcite tulasikābharaṇena tasyā
yasmiṁs tapaḥ sumanaso bahu mānayanti
“Although flowering plants like the mandāra, kunda, kurabaka, and utpala, the campaka, arṇa,
and punnāga, the nāgakeśara, bakula, lily, and pārijāta are full of transcendental fragrance,
they are still conscious of the austerities performed by tulasī, for tulasī is given special
preference by the Lord, who garlands Himself with tulasī leaves.”
Gopa-kumāra’s further description of his own experience of Vaikuṇṭha will establish that the
pigeons and other creatures mentioned by Brahmā are all personal associates of Lord
BB 2.4.46
prapaṣcāntar-gatā bhogaparā viṣayiṇo yathā
bahir-dṛṣṭyā tathekṣyante
te hi muktārcitāṅghrayaḥ
prapaṣca—the material realm; antaḥ-gatāḥ—who entered; bhoga—to sense gratification;
parāḥ—dedicated; viṣayiṇaḥ—materialists; yathā—like; bahiḥ—external; dṛṣṭyā—from a
viewpoint; tathā—so; īkṣyante—are seen; te—they; hi—in fact; mukta—by liberated souls;
arcita—worshiped; aṅghrayaḥ—whose feet.
Superficially those residents of Vaikuṇṭha may appear like sense enjoyers of the material
realm, but in fact their feet are worshiped by liberated souls.
Because the devotees of Vaikuṇṭha enjoy their senses in wonderful ways, living a life full of
song and dance, one might judge them to be no better than the selfish materialists of the world
of Māyā. The truth is, however, that the feet of the Vaikuṇṭha-vāsīs are worshiped by elevated
souls who have transcended the limits of matter, given up the attractions of sense pleasure,
and dedicated themselves fully to the service of the Supreme Lord. There is no valid reason to
suspect that the devotees of Vaikuṇṭha are ever addicted to the paltry enjoyment provided by
material senses. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.15.17, 20), Lord Brahmā also points this out in his
description of Vaikuṇṭha:
vaimānikāḥ sa-lalanāś caritāni śaśvad
gāyanti yatra śamala-kṣapaṇāni bhartuḥ
antar-jale ’nuvikasan-madhu-mādhavīnāṁ
gandhena khaṇḍita-dhiyo ’py anilaṁ kṣipantaḥ
“In the Vaikuṇṭha planets the inhabitants fly in their airplanes, accompanied by their wives ,
and eternally sing of the character and activities of the Lord, which are always devoid of all
inauspicious qualities. While singing the glories of the Lord, they deride even the presence in
the water of blossoming mādhavī flowers, which are fragrant and laden with honey.” In other
words, even while enjoying wonderfully, the devotees in Vaikuṇṭha are always absorbed in
the ecstasy of worshiping the Personality of Godhead. The mādhavī flower blooms during the
spring, when the attraction of sense pleasures reaches a peak. Yet even though such
attractions may stimulate the senses of the devotees, this does not at all distract them from
their devotional service.
yat saṅkulaṁ hari-padānati-mātra-dṛṣṭair
vaidūrya-mārakata-hema-mayair vimānaiḥ
yeṣāṁ bṛhat-kaṭi-taṭāḥ smita-śobhi-mukhyaḥ
kṛṣṇātmanāṁ na raja ādadhur utsmayādyaiḥ
“Vaikuṇṭha is full of devotees who seem never to do anything but bow down at the feet of
Lord Hari. Although while traveling in their airplanes made of lapis lazuli, emerald, and gold
they are crowded by their consorts, who have large hips and beautiful smiling faces, those
Vaikuṇṭha residents cannot be stimulated to passion by such mirth and beautiful charms.”
Karmīs, jṣānīs, and yogīs cannot hope to obtain anything for sense gratification like what the
devotees of Vaikuṇṭha enjoy. All this enjoyment, however, never degrades the Vaikuṇṭha
devotees from the mode of pure goodness, because they are perfectly fixed in the loving
service of Lord Nārāyaṇa.
BB 2.4.47
te nirvikāratā-prāntasīmāṁ prāptāś ca tanvate
vikārāl līlayā citrān
te—they; nirvikāratā—of changelessness; prānta-sīmām—the extreme limit; prāptāḥ—having
attained; ca—and; tanvate—display; vikārān—transformations; līlayā—playfully; citrān—
variegated; prabhu—of the Supreme Lord; līlā—the pastimes; anusāriṇaḥ—in accordance
Those devotees have attained the absolute limit of changelessness, yet they playfully show all
kinds of transformations while taking part in their Lord’s pastimes.
In both types of the Supreme Lord’s pastimes—those predominated by the mood of opulence
and those predominated by sweetness—the devotees who take part pretend to undergo
transformations just to create the varieties that give the Lord pleasure. In Vaikuṇṭha there are
no forces of nature to impel anyone to do anything he doesn’t want to. The only force
impelling the devotees is pure love, which makes them act exclusively for the pleasure of
Lord Nārāyaṇa.
BB 2.4.48
atas te ’nyonyam ekatvaṁ
gatā api pṛthag-vidhāḥ
tat sthānaṁ sa vimānaughas
tatratyaṁ sarvam īdṛśam
ataḥ—thus; te—they; anyonyam—with one other; ekatvam—equality; gatāḥ—achieving;
api—although; pṛthak-vidhāḥ—of various types; tat—that; sthānam—place; saḥ—that;
vimāna-oghaḥ—profusion of airplanes; tatratyam—located there; sarvam—everything;
īdṛśam—like this.
Thus, although equals, they manifest individual variety. In that place everything is so,
including the profusion of airplanes.
Because the Personality of Godhead wants to enjoy varied pastimes, His devotees, who are all
essentially equal on the platform of pure spiritual existence, assume different forms and
positions in His service. Even the apparently inanimate things of Vaikuṇṭha are of the same
transcendental nature. Thus the airplanes, trees, houses, and so on are all perfect living beings,
qualitatively one with the Supreme Lord and with all other living persons, and they appear in
whatever forms the Lord requires for His pleasure.
BB 2.4.49
kadācit svarṇa-ratnādimayaṁ tat tat pratīyate
kadācic ca ghanī-bhūtacandra-jyotsneva kakkhaṭī
kadācit—sometimes; svarṇa—gold; ratna—jewels; ādi—and so on; mayam—full of; tat tat—
the various aspects; pratīyate—appear; kadācit—sometimes; ca—and; ghanī-bhūta—densely
concentrated; candra-jyotsnā—moonlight; iva—as if; kakkhaṭī—like chalk.
Sometimes that place appears full of riches like gold and jewels, and sometimes its
atmosphere appears chalk-white, like a thick condensation of moonlight.
Gold, jewels, and moonlight are among the greatest fascinations in the material world. Yet
they only dimly reflect the infinitely varied attractions of the Vaikuṇṭha atmosphere.
BB 2.4.50
kathaṣcit tat-prabhāveṇa
vijṣātaṁ syān na cānyathā
grahītuṁ kila tad-rūpaṁ
manasāpi na śakyate
kathaṣcit—somehow; tat—of that place; prabhāveṇa—by the influence; vijṣātam—
understood; syāt—can be; na—not; ca—and; anyathā—otherwise; grahītum—to grasp; kila—
indeed; tat—of that; rūpam—the form; manasā—by the mind; api—even; na śakyate—it is
not possible.
Vaikuṇṭha may be somehow understood only by its own spiritual influence, and not
otherwise. Indeed, even the mind cannot grasp its form.
One can understand the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha and know the various locations of His pastimes
only when He reveals Himself by His special potencies such as kāruṇya (mercy). Devotees
favored by the Lord can use their spiritual intelligence to infer something about the nature of
Vaikuṇṭha by comparison with things they have seen, touched, and otherwise encountered in
the material world. And devotees fully purified can perceive Vaikuṇṭha directly. The external
mind and senses, however, can never discern the spiritual existence. One therefore has no
right to speak as an authority on that existence unless one has been granted insight by the
Lord’s mercy potency.
BB 2.4.51
na kaścit prabhaved boddhuṁ
samyak svānubhavaṁ vinā
etan-mātraṁ hi śakyeta
nirūpayitum aṣjasā
na kaścit—no one; prabhavet—is able; boddhum—to understand; samyak—properly; svaanubhavam—personal experience; vinā—without; etat-mātram—only this much; hi—indeed;
śakyeta—it is possible; nirūpayitum—to describe; aṣjasā—accurately.
Except by direct experience, no one can rightly understand Vaikuṇṭha. No more than this can
I accurately describe.
A conditioned soul may discover the transcendental world of Vaikuṇṭha, but only if he sees
that higher reality for himself. By hearing from someone who has seen Vaikuṇṭha one may
gain only a glimmer of understanding. Nonetheless, when a devotee aspiring for the Lord’s
service hears the pure instructions of his self-realized spiritual master and faithfully practices
the disciplines such a guru recommends, the devotee gradually becomes pure in heart. And
when his faith sufficiently matures, he can see the spiritual world. Only by that direct
perception does knowledge become perfect. Casual hearing, even from those who have seen
the truth, is not enough. One must become a disciple of such an authority and accept the
disciplines that lead to self-realization.
BB 2.4.52
teṣu vai dṛśyamāneṣu
tad brahmānubhave sukham
gacchat su-tucchatāṁ sadyo
hriyeva viramet svayam
teṣu—when these; vai—indeed; dṛśyamāneṣu—are seen; tat—that; brahma-anubhave—in
insignificant; sadyaḥ—at once; hriyā—out of embarrassment; iva—as if; viramet—it
disappears; svayam—on its own.
When one sees those splendors of Vaikuṇṭha, the happiness realized in Brahman at once
seems empty, and as if from sheer embarrassment, on its own it disappears.
After a purified Vaiṣṇava has realized the glories of Vaikuṇṭha and its inhabitants, the
prospect of impersonal realization loses all attraction. It simply disappears, like the stars at
BB 2.4.53-54
TEXTS 53–54
svārāmāḥ pūrṇa-kāmā ye
jṣātaṁ prāptaṁ nijaṁ kṛtsnaṁ
tyaktvā vaiṣṇava-saṅgataḥ
bhakti-mārgaṁ viśanti yat
tad-dhetus tatra yātenānubhūto dārḍhyato mayā
sva-ārāmāḥ—self-satisfied; pūrṇa—full; kāmāḥ—in all desires; ye—who; sarva—all;
apekṣā—from concerns; vivarjitāḥ—free; jṣātam—known; prāptam—obtained; nijam—their
own; kṛtsnam—all; tyaktvā—having abandoned; vaiṣṇava—with devotees of the Supreme
Lord; saṅgataḥ—by association; sāra—of the essential; asāra—and the nonessential; vicāra—
discrimination; āptyā—by developing; bhakti-mārgam—the path of devotional service;
viśanti—they enter; yat—which; tat—of that; hetuḥ—the reason; tatra—there; yātena—who
went; anubhūtaḥ—experienced; dārḍhyataḥ—definitively; mayā—by me.
Those who are self-satisfied, fulfilled in all desires, and free from all material concerns, who
have renounced everything they know and possess, who have associated with Vaiṣṇavas and
have thus acquired the power to discern between the essential and the nonessential—it is they
who enter the path of devotional service. When I went to Vaikuṇṭha, that is what I vividly
Even though Gopa-kumāra’s student has been told that only direct perception can give him
true understanding of the nature of Vaikuṇṭha, he may still be anxious to have some other
means to gain the special faith that the discipline of bhakti-yoga demands. Anticipating this
anxiety, Gopa-kumāra here describes the logic by which one can know theoretically the
superexcellent happiness of Vaikuṇṭha. Advanced mystics who have realized the Supreme
Truth in its impersonal aspect sometimes abandon the happiness of Brahman for the
opportunity to realize Vaikuṇṭha. They leave aside both their knowledge and their perfectly
developed realization to enter the path of devotional service. Once they experience the bliss of
Vaikuṇṭha life, they condemn what they formerly considered happiness in impersonal
realization. This is evidence of the wonder of Vaikuṇṭha.
BB 2.4.55
gacchad-āgacchato ’haṁ tān
paśyann idam acintayam
īdṛśāḥ sevakā yasya
sa prabhur nāma kīdṛśaḥ
gacchat—who were going; āgacchataḥ—and coming; aham—I; tān—them; paśyan—
watching; idam—this; acintayam—I thought; īdṛśāḥ—such; sevakāḥ—servants; yasya—
whose; saḥ—that; prabhuḥ—Lord; nāma—indeed; kīdṛśaḥ—like what.
As I watched those persons come and go, I thought, “What kind of Lord must it be who has
such servants!”
After seeing such beautiful and opulent servants of Lord Nārāyaṇa come and go through the
gateway of Vaikuṇṭha, Gopa-kumāra could not help but imagine how beautiful and opulent
must be Lord Nārāyaṇa Himself. Certainly a proper master should be superior in all respects
to his servants.
BB 2.4.56-57
TEXTS 56–57
itthaṁ harṣa-prakarṣeṇottiṣṭhann upaviśan bhṛśam
gopure vartamāno ’haṁ
tair javenaitya pārṣadaiḥ
antaḥ praveśyamāno yat
dṛṣṭavān adbhutādbhutam
vaktuṁ tad dvi-parārdhena
sahasrāsyo ’pi na kṣamaḥ
ittham—in this way; harṣa—of happiness; prakarṣeṇa—due to the excess; uttiṣṭhan—standing
up; upaviśan—and sitting down; bhṛśam—excitedly; gopure—in the gateway; vartamānaḥ—
present; aham—I; taiḥ—those; javena—quickly; etya—coming; pārṣadaiḥ—by the associates;
antaḥ—inside; praveśyamānaḥ—made to enter; yat—what; dṛṣṭavān—I saw; adbhuta—than
what is wonderful; adbhutam—more wonderful; vaktum—to describe; tat—that; dviparārdhena—in a lifetime of Brahmā; sahasra-āsyaḥ—thousand-headed Ananta Śeṣa; api—
even; na—not; kṣamaḥ—capable.
Thus I thrilled with delight as I waited in the gateway to Vaikuṇṭha. I excitedly stood up and
sat down, stood up and sat down, till the associates of the Lord returned, rushing back, and
escorted me inside. The amazing things I then saw, more wonderful than wonderful, even the
thousand-headed Ananta Śeṣa would be unable to describe, even in a lifetime of Brahmā.
The escorts who had gone inside the city to announce Gopa-kumāra’s arrival now came
running back, because their Lord did not want him to have to wait outside any longer. As soon
as Gopa-kumāra entered the actual realm of Vaikuṇṭha, he saw more wonders than he could
ever describe to a conditioned soul. His student would have to be satisfied with a brief outline
of this experience.
BB 2.4.58
dvāre dvāre dvāra-pālās
tādṛśā eva māṁ gatam
praveśayanti vijṣāpya
vijṣāpyeva nijādhipam
dvāre dvāre—at each gate; dvāra-pālāḥ—the doorkeepers; tādṛśāḥ—similar; eva—indeed;
mām—me; gatam—arrived; praveśayanti—allowed to enter; vijṣāpya vijṣāpya—after
announcing, one after another; iva—indeed; nija—to their own; adhipam—superior.
I arrived at several more gates, one after another, and at each I was met by similar
doorkeepers, who allowed me to enter only after announcing my arrival to their immediate
BB 2.4.59-60
TEXTS 59–60
prati-dvārāntare gatvā
gatvā tat-pratihāribhiḥ
praṇamyamāno yo yo hi
dṛśyate sa sa manyeta
jagad-īśo mayā kila
pūrva-vat sambhramāveśāt
namyate stūyate muhuḥ
prati-dvāra—each gateway; antare—within; gatvā gatvā—going one after another; tat—of
that (gate); pratihāribhiḥ—by the guards; praṇamyamānaḥ—being bowed down; yaḥ yaḥ—
who in each case; hi—indeed; tat—of that; pradeśa—locality; adhikāra-vān—the authority;
dṛśyate—was seen; saḥ saḥ—each of them; manyeta—was considered; jagat-īśaḥ—the Lord
of the universe; mayā—by me; kila—indeed; pūrva-vat—as before; sambhrama—by
reverence; āveśāt—because of being overwhelmed; namyate—was paid obeisances to;
stūyate—and offered prayers; muhuḥ—repeatedly.
As I entered each gate, I saw the guards offer obeisances to the local superintendent, so I
assumed that he was the Lord of the universe. Overwhelmed with reverence just as before, I
repeatedly bowed down and recited prayers.
Gopa-kumāra was so eager to see the Lord that he mistook the Lord’s glorious devotees for
the Lord Himself. As Gopa-kumāra passed through each gateway with his escorts, they were
met by the local manager, whose relatively greater opulence astonished him. He was
becoming more and more eager to see Lord Nārāyaṇa.
BB 2.4.61
atha taiḥ pārṣadaiḥ snigdhair
prabhor vijṣāpito ’haṁ ca
śikṣitaḥ stavanādikam
atha—then; taiḥ—by those; pārṣadaiḥ—associates of the Lord; snigdhaiḥ—compassionate;
asādhāraṇa—unique; lakṣaṇam—the signs; prabhoḥ—of the Supreme Lord; vijṣāpitaḥ—
informed; aham—I; ca—and; śikṣitaḥ—taught; stavana-ādikam—how to recite prayers and so
Finally the Supreme Lord’s compassionate men who were guiding me told me the special
signs by which to recognize the Lord. They also taught me what prayers to recite and what
etiquette to observe.
Gopa-kumāra’s escorts informed him of the unique visible signs of Lord Nārāyaṇa, like the
Śrīvatsa mark on His chest. Apart from these few special features, the Lord in Vaikuṇṭha is
indistinguishable from His devotees who show the perfection of sārūpya. Out of genuine
sympathy for Gopa-kumāra, his guides taught him how to behave in front of Lord Nārāyaṇa—
first to bow down and then stand some distance aside, palms joined, look down at the Lord’s
lotus feet, refrain from moving or displaying bodily transformations, and so on.
BB 2.4.62-63
TEXTS 62–63
mahā-mahā-citra-vicitra-gehadvāra-pradeśān atigamya vegāt
śrīman-mahalla-pravarasya madhye
prāsāda-vargaiḥ pariṣevitāṅghrim
prāsādam ekaṁ vividhair mahattāpūrair viśiṣṭaṁ para-sīma-yātaiḥ
prāpto ’ham āditya-sudhāṁśu-koṭikāntiṁ mano-locana-vṛtti-coram
mahā—very; mahā—very; citra—wonderful; vicitra—various; geha—with residences;
dvāra—and gates; pradeśān—districts; atigamya—passing; vegāt—rapidly; śrīmat—beautiful;
mahalla—of a neighborhood; pravarasya—excellent; madhye—in the middle; prāsādavargaiḥ—by many palaces; pariṣevita—served; aṅghrim—whose feet; prāsādam—palace;
ekam—one; vividhaiḥ—of various kinds; mahattā—of greatness; pūraiḥ—with floods;
viśiṣṭam—distinguished; para-sīma—to the extreme limit; yātaiḥ—gone; prāptaḥ—reaching;
aham—I; āditya—of suns; sudhā-aṁśu—and moons; koṭi—millions; kāntim—with the luster;
manaḥ—of the mind; locana—and eye; vṛtti—of the activity; coram—a thief.
I passed rapidly through many districts, wonderfully splendid, with all kinds of houses and
gates, and then I entered the most excellent transcendental neighborhood. There I came to one
palace at whose feet many others stood in attendance, a palace distinct, overflowing in
greatness, where excellence seemed to reach its highest limit. Radiant like millions of suns
and moons, it captured my mind and my eyes.
Smaller palaces on all sides faced that grand one, like servants surrounding their master. That
palace, diverse in effulgence like millions of suns and moons, lured Gopa-kumāra’s eyes and
mind into captivity, enslaving their functions in reverence to the Lord’s opulence.
BB 2.4.64-65
TEXTS 64–65
tad-antare ratna-varāvalī-lasatsuvarṇa-siṁhāsana-rāja-mūrdhani
sujāta-kāntāmala-haṁsa-tūlikopari prasannākṛśa-candra-sundaram
mṛdūpadhānaṁ nija-vāma-kakṣa-
kaphoṇinākramya sukhopaviṣṭam
vaikuṇṭha-nāthaṁ bhagavantam ārād
apaśyam agre nava-yauvaneśam
tat—that; antare—inside; ratna-vara—of the best of jewels; āvalī—with strings; lasat—
glowing; suvarṇa—golden; siṁha-āsana—of thrones; rāja—the king; mūrdhani—upon;
sujāta—fine; kānta—attractive; amala—spotless; haṁsa—like a swan; tūlika—a pillow;
upari—above; prasanna—satisfied; akṛśa—plump; candra—like the moon; sundaram—
beautiful; mṛdu—soft; upadhānam—a pillow; nija—His; vāma—left; kakṣa—with the armpit;
elbow; ākramya—crossing;
vaikuṇṭha-nātham—the master of Vaikuṇṭha; bhagavantam—the Supreme Lord; ārāt—from a
distance; apaśyam—I saw; agre—in front; nava—new; yauvana—of youth; īśam—the
presiding Lord.
Within that palace I saw before me at a distance the Personality of Godhead, Lord of
Vaikuṇṭha. He sat at leisure on the best of royal thrones, a golden throne shimmering with the
glow of many jewels. The cushion on which He sat was of swan-white cotton, fine, attractive,
spotlessly clean, and the soft, handsome bolster on which He leaned His left elbow and upper
arm appeared like the full moon cleansed of its spots. He was the presiding Lord of
blossoming youth.
Since the entrance hall of Lord Nārāyaṇa’s palace stretched a long way, Gopa-kumāra’s first
glimpse of the Lord was from a distance. But there the Lord was, sitting happily right in front
of him, on a throne with cushions white as a full moon washed of its spots. Although He is the
original person, He seemed ageless, as if in the prime of youth. He displays His opulences
however He chooses and so forever displays a youthful beauty that is among the most
attractive of His opulences.
BB 2.4.66
nūtnāmbuda-śrī-harayā sphurantyā
ratnācita-svarṇa-vibhūṣita-sragvastrānulepādi vibhūṣayantam
saundarya—beauty; mādhurya—and sweetness; maya—full of; aṅga—of His limbs; kāntyā—
by the effulgence; nūtna—new; ambuda—of rain clouds; śrī—the splendor; harayā—which
robs; sphurantyā—glowing; ratna—with jewels; ācita—bedecked; svarṇa—gold; vibhūṣita—
decorated with; srak—His garlands; vastra—clothes; anulepa—cosmetics; ādi—and so on;
The brilliant effulgence of His sweet, attractive limbs defeated the splendor of new rain
clouds. That effulgence lent further grace to His garlands, cosmetics, and garments, already
graced by jewelry made of gold bedecked with gems.
Every part of Lord Nārāyaṇa’s body was beautifully formed, with youthful charm that
enamored whoever saw Him. On His head, neck, arms, chest, and ankles He wore golden,
gem-bedecked jewelry, which enhanced the beauty of His vaijayantī flower garland, His
yellow dress, and His sandalwood paste and other cosmetics.
BB 2.4.67
kaṅkaṇa—of His bangles; aṅgada—and armlets; vibhūṣaṇa—which were the ornaments;
āyata—long; sthūla—and stout; vṛtta—rounded; vilasat—shining; catuḥ-bhujam—four arms;
pīta—yellow; paṭṭa—silk; vasana—of garments; dvaya—with a pair; aṣcitam—wrapped;
cāru—beautiful; kuṇḍala—with earrings; kapola—cheeks; maṇḍalam—round.
His four shining arms, long and well built, enhanced the beauty of His bangles and armlets.
Two yellow silk garments dressed His body, and charming earrings set off His rounded
Lord Nārāyaṇa’s arms appear like the shining bodies of celestial serpents. His dhotī and upper
cloth are yellow like the rays of the sun.
BB 2.4.68
sasmitāmṛta-mukhendum adbhutaprekṣaṇollasita-locanāmbujam
kaustubha-ābharaṇa—the Kaustubha jewel; pīna—broad; vakṣasam—on whose chest;
kambu—resembling a conchshell; kaṇṭha—on whose neck; dhṛta—worn; mauktika-āvalim—
a string of pearls; sa-smita—smiling; amṛta—nectarean; mukha—whose face; indum—
moonlike; adbhuta—surprising; prekṣaṇa—with glances; ullasita—sporting; locana—whose
eyes; ambujam—like lotuses.
On His broad chest was the Kaustubha jewel, on His conch-shell neck a string of pearls, and
on His moonlike face a nectarean smile. His lotus eyes were alive with playful glances.
The moon is famous as the source of the heavenly soma nectar, the rare sacrificial offering
enjoyed by a few select demigods like Indra. Lord Nārāyaṇa’s face is another moon and also
full of nectar. The charming gestures of His lotus eyes are beyond compare.
BB 2.4.69
sva-vāma-pārśve sthitayātma-yogyayā
nivedyamānaṁ ramayā sa-vibhramaṁ
pragṛhya tāmbūlam adantam uttamam
kṛpā—of His mercy; bhara—by the burden; udyat—rising; vara—beautiful; cilli—of whose
eyebrows; nartanam—dancing; sva—of Him; vāma—left; pārśve—on the side; sthitayā—
who stood; ātma—for Him; yogyayā—suitable; nivedyamānam—being offered; ramayā—by
the goddess of fortune; sa-vibhramam—with reverence; pragṛhya—accepting; tāmbūlam—
betel nut; adantam—eating; uttamam—excellent.
The great compassion He felt made His beautiful eyebrows dance. Ramā, His ideally
matching consort, standing by His left side, reverently offered Him excellent pān to chew,
which He accepted.
The goddess of fortune would personally prepare Lord Nārāyaṇa’s betel nut and offer it to
Him with her own hand. Pleased with her service and the excellent quality of the pān, Lord
Nārāyaṇa would gracefully accept it with the tips of His right thumb and first finger, place it
in His mouth, and chew it contentedly. The goddess of fortune Śrī Ramā is the suitable
consort for Lord Nārāyaṇa because she is the best of all women. She equals Him in beauty
and other good qualities. We should understand that the Lord’s other consort, Bhūmi, was
also serving Him, from His right side.
BB 2.4.70
tat—of that (betel nut); rāga—with the color; kānta—attractive; adhara—of whose lips;
bimba—like bimba fruits; kānti—by the luster; sambhinna—reflected upon; kunda—like
kunda flowers; amala—spotless; danta—of the teeth; paṅktyoḥ—of the two rows; dīpti—of
the effulgence; prakāśa—by the illumination; ujjvala—shining; hāsa—whose smile; rāsam—
playful; narma-ukti—by His amusing words; bhaṅgī—and gestures; hṛta—stolen away;
bhakta—of His devotees; cittam—the hearts.
The color of that pān made His bimba-fruit lips even more attractive, and their luster reflected
on His teeth, two rows of spotless kunda flowers. Illumined by the glow of those flowers, His
playful smile shone splendidly. His amusing words and gestures stole away the hearts of His
The bimba is a bright-red fruit whose brilliant color resembles that of the Supreme Lord’s
lips. The kunda flower is a small pure-white jasmine.
BB 2.4.71
kare patad-grāha-bhṛtā dharaṇyā
kaṭākṣa-bhaṅgyā muhur arcyamānam
sudarśanādyair vara-mūrtimadbhiḥ
śira-stha-cihnaiḥ pariṣevyamāṇam
kare—in her hand; patat—falling; grāha—for catching; bhṛtā—who held; dharaṇyā—by the
goddess Dharaṇī; kaṭā-akṣa—of sidelong glances; bhaṅgyā—with gestures; muhuḥ—
constantly; arcyamānam—being worshiped; sudarśana-ādyaiḥ—by the Sudarśana disc and
others; vara—excellent; mūrti-madbhiḥ—in personified forms; śira—on their heads; stha—
situated; cihnaiḥ—with signs; pariṣevyamāṇam—being served.
The goddess Dharaṇī, in her hand a vessel to catch the remnants of betel nut, constantly
worshiped the Lord with messages in sidelong glances. And the Lord’s excellent weapons like
Sudarśana served Him in beautiful personified forms, their identities marked by symbols on
their heads.
Dharaṇī, or Bhūmi, is the second goddess of fortune, whose expansion is the presiding deity
of the earth. While Ramā served Lord Nārāyaṇa His pān, Dharaṇī stood by to receive the
remnants He would spit into a vessel meant for that purpose.
BB 2.4.72
sevakaiḥ sva-sadṛśair avasthitair
āvṛtaṁ paricaradbhir ādarāt
cāmara—yak-tail; vyajana—fans; pāduka—slippers; ādika—and so on; śrī—transcendental;
paricchada—of paraphernalia for worship; gaṇa—with groups; ullasat—beautified; karaiḥ—
whose hands; sevakaiḥ—by servants; sva-sadṛśaiḥ—similar to Him; avasthitaiḥ—standing;
āvṛtam—surrounded; paricaradbhiḥ—who were rendering personal services; ādarāt—
Servants stood about Him, surrounding Him and worshiping Him with great respect, their
appearance like His, their hands beautified by transcendental items for His service, like
slippers and yak-tail fans.
BB 2.4.73
bhaktyā nataiḥ śeṣa-suparṇa-viṣvaksenādibhiḥ pārṣada-varga-mukhyaiḥ
kṛtvāṣjaliṁ mūrdhny avatiṣṭhamānair
agre vicitroktibhir īḍyamānam
viṣvaksena—Viṣvaksena; ādibhiḥ—and others; pārṣada—of associates; varga—groups;
mukhyaiḥ—chief; kṛtvā—making; aṣjalim—joined palms; mūrdhni—on their heads;
īḍyamānam—being praised.
Śeṣa, Garuḍa, Viṣvaksena, and the other leaders of His many groups of attendants bowed
down before Him with devotion, stood before Him with palms joined above their heads, and
praised Him in wonderful poetic language.
Along with Śeṣa, Garuḍa, and Viṣvaksena, other main servants of Nārāyaṇa were present,
such as Nanda and Sunanda, Jaya and Vijaya, and Bala and Prabala. All of them together,
Śeṣa and the others, are called the gaṇādhyakṣas, or leaders of the various groups of the
Lord’s servants. The Eighth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (8.21.16–17) confirms:
nandaḥ sunando ’tha jayo
vijayaḥ prabalo balaḥ
kumudaḥ kumudākṣaś ca
viṣvaksenaḥ patattrirāṭ
jayantaḥ śrutadevaś ca
puṣpadanto ’tha sātvataḥ
“Nanda and Sunanda, Jaya and Vijaya, Bala and Prabala, Kumuda and Kumudākṣa are all
associates of Lord Viṣṇu, and so also are Viṣvaksena, Patattrirāṭ [Garuḍa], Jayanta, Śrutadeva,
Puṣpadanta, and Sātvata.”
BB 2.4.74
tābhyāṁ priyābhyāṁ kamalā-dharābhyāṁ
sārdhaṁ kadācid vihasantam uccaiḥ
śrī-nāradasya—of Śrī Nārada; adbhuta—wonderful; nṛtya—of the dancing; vīṇā—playing of
the vīṇā; gīta—singing; ādi—and so on; bhaṅgī-maya—entertaining; cāturībhiḥ—by the
cleverness; tābhyām—with the two; priyābhyām—beloved consorts; kamalā-dharābhyām—
Kamalā and Dharā; sārdham—together; kadācit—sometimes; vihasantam—laughing;
Śrī Nārada’s dancing and his expert singing and vīṇā playing created such clever
entertainment that the Lord and His two consorts, Ramā and Dharaṇī, sometimes laughed out
Lakṣmī, or Ramā, is also called Kamalā, and Dharaṇī is also called Dharā.
BB 2.4.75
sva-bhakta-vargasya tad-eka-cetasaḥ
kadācid ānanda-viśeṣa-vṛddhaye
prasārya pādāmbuja-yugmam ātmanaḥ
samarpaṇenaiva lasantam adbhutam
sva—His; bhakta-vargasya—of the many devotees; tat—fixed on Him; eka—only; cetasaḥ—
whose hearts; kadācit—sometimes; ānanda—of ecstasy; viśeṣa—special; vṛddhaye—for
increasing; prasārya—extending; pāda-ambuja—of lotus feet; yugmam—the pair; ātmanaḥ—
of Himself; samarpaṇena—as an offering; eva—indeed; lasantam—appearing splendid;
To add to the special ecstasy of His devotees, whose hearts are fixed only on Him, from time
to time the Lord extended both His lotus feet as a way of offering Himself. In this way He
exhibited His splendor.
In this verse the word ātmanaḥ (“of Himself”) can indicate either that He offered His devotees
His feet or that He offered Himself. Of course, the Lord cannot literally give His feet away,
but His feet are the property of the Vaiṣṇavas. This is described by Lord Brahmā in the Third
Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.8.26):
puṁsāṁ sva-kāmāya vivikta-mārgair
abhyarcatāṁ kāma-dughāṅghri-padmam
pradarśayantaṁ kṛpayā nakhendumayūkha-bhinnāṅguli-cāru-patram
“The Lord showed His lotus feet by raising them. His lotus feet are the source of all awards
achieved by devotional service free from material contamination. Such awards are for those
who worship Him in pure devotion. The splendor of the transcendental rays from His
moonlike toenails and fingernails appeared like the petals of a flower.” For those who worship
the Lord’s lotus feet with the desire to obtain them as their own possession, and who follow
the methods of pure devotional service, beginning with hearing and chanting, the Lord kindly
reveals His feet by raising them slightly. He takes the trouble to do this because He cannot
help but think of how to benefit His devotees.
BB 2.4.76
tad-darśanānanda-bhareṇa teṣāṁ
vismṛtya śikṣāṁ bata pārṣadānām
gopāla he jīvitam ity abhīkṣṇaṁ
krośann adhāvaṁ parirambhaṇāya
tat—that; darśana—from seeing; ānanda—of bliss; bhareṇa—by the weight; teṣām—of them;
associates; gopāla—Gopāla; he—O; jīvitam—life; iti—thus; abhīkṣṇam—repeatedly;
krośan—shouting; adhāvam—I ran; parirambhaṇāya—to embrace.
The fullness of the ecstasy this sight brought on made me forget what the attendants of the
Lord had instructed me. I cried out again and again, “O Gopāla, my life and soul!” and I ran
forward to embrace the Lord.
Having chanted the ten-syllable mantra of Lord Gopāla for so long, Gopa-kumāra was used to
worshiping the Lord with natural spontaneity, and now he impulsively expressed his love in a
way unusual for Vaikuṇṭha. Forgetful of all ideas of awe and reverence, he ran forward with
open arms to embrace his Lord.
BB 2.4.77
pṛṣṭhe sthitair vijṣa-varair dhṛtas tair
dīno mahā-kāku-kulaṁ prakurvan
premātirekeṇa vinirjito ’haṁ
samprāpya mohaṁ nyapataṁ tad-agre
pṛṣṭhe—at His side; sthitaiḥ—who were standing; vijṣa—of wise persons; varaiḥ—by the
best; dhṛtaḥ—held back; taiḥ—by them; dīnaḥ—morose; mahā—great; kāku—of cries of
distress; kulam—a series; prakurvan—making; prema—of love; atirekeṇa—by an excess;
vinirjitaḥ—defeated; aham—I; samprāpya moham—becoming unconscious; nyapatam—I
fell; tat—of Him; agre—in front.
Some discerning attendants who were standing at the Lord’s side held me back, and I was
heartbroken. I cried out in helpless distress again and again, overcome by my own excessive
love, and fell unconscious in front of the Lord.
BB 2.4.78
utthāpya tair eva balāc cireṇa
saṁjṣāṁ praṇīto ’śru-nipāta-vighnam
sammārjanenābhibhavan karābhyāṁ
netre prayatnād udamīlayaṁ dve
utthāpya—being raised; taiḥ—by them; eva—indeed; balāt—with effort; cireṇa—after some
time; saṁjṣām—to consciousness; praṇītaḥ—brought back; aśru—of tears; nipāta—of the
falling; vighnam—the obstruction; sammārjanena—by wiping off; abhibhavan—subduing;
karābhyām—with my two hands; netre—my eyes; prayatnāt—with difficulty; udamīlayam—I
opened; dve—two.
With some effort, those attendants lifted me up, and after some time I regained my
consciousness. I wiped away with my hands the flood of tears that blocked my sight, and with
difficulty I finally opened my eyes.
BB 2.4.79
tāvad dayālu-pravareṇa tena
snehena gambhīra-mṛdu-svareṇa
svastho bhavāgaccha javena vatsetyādy ucyamānaṁ śrutavān vaco ’ham
tāvat—just then; dayālu—of merciful persons; pravareṇa—by the greatest; tena—Him;
snehena—affectionately; gambhīra—deep; mṛdu—and gentle; svareṇa—with a voice;
svasthaḥ—restored to a good condition; bhava—please be; āgaccha—come here; javena—
quickly; vatsa—dear boy; iti-ādi—like this and so on; ucyamānam—being spoken;
śrutavān—heard; vacaḥ—the words; aham—I.
Then I heard the Lord, that best of merciful persons, tell me in a deep, gentle voice, “Please
come back to your senses. Dear boy, come here quickly!”
From the moment Gopa-kumāra fell unconscious Lord Nārāyaṇa had been calling to him, but
Gopa-kumāra was able to hear Him only after regaining consciousness. The Lord also told
him, “Please give up this reverence for Me. Let’s talk together as friends.”
BB 2.4.80
harṣasya kāṣṭhāṁ paramāṁ tato gato
nṛtyan mahonmāda-gṛhīta-van muhuḥ
bhraśyann amībhiḥ parama-prayāsataḥ
samprāpitaḥ sthairyam atha prabodhitaḥ
harṣasya—of joy; kāṣṭhām—the limit; paramām—highest; tataḥ—then; gataḥ—obtaining;
nṛtyan—dancing; maha-unmāda—by great insanity; gṛhīta-vat—as if seized; muhuḥ—
repeatedly; bhraśyan—stumbling; amībhiḥ—by them; parama—supreme; prayāsataḥ—with
endeavor; samprāpitaḥ—attained; sthairyam—a sober condition; atha—then; prabodhitaḥ—
I then felt the highest limit of joy. I danced all around as if seized by madness, and stumbled
about. But with great endeavor the Lord’s servants calmed me down, and at last I awakened
from that trance.
Hearing those words from Lord Nārāyaṇa drove Gopa-kumāra apparently insane. In truth,
however, this “insanity” was the perfection of clear consciousness, in which the one who
suffers feels the ultimate extreme of happiness.
BB 2.4.81
śrī-bhagavān uvāca
svāgataṁ svāgataṁ vatsa
diṣṭyā diṣṭyā bhavān mayā
saṅgato ’tra tvad-īkṣāyāṁ
ciram utkaṇṭhitena hi
śrī-bhagavān uvāca—the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; su-āgatam su-āgatam—
welcome, welcome; vatsa—dear son; diṣṭyā diṣṭyā—by good fortune, by good fortune;
bhavān—your good self; mayā—by Me; saṅgataḥ—met; atra—here; tvat—you; īkṣāyām—to
see; ciram—for a long time; utkaṇṭhitena—who was anxious; hi—certainly.
The Supreme Lord said: Welcome, welcome, my dear boy! I am fortunate—most fortunate—
to meet you here. For so long I have been eager to see you!
Hoping to calm Gopa-kumāra, the most compassionate Lord greeted him as a welcome guest.
The Lord stated honestly that He had been waiting a long time for Gopa-kumāra to come to
BB 2.4.82
bahūni gamitāny aṅga
janmāni bhavatā sakhe
kathaṣcid api mayy ābhimukhyaṁ kiṣcid akāri na
bahūni—many; gamitāni—passed; aṅga—dear one; janmāni—births; bhavatā—by you;
sakhe—O friend; kathaṣcit api—somehow; mayā—by Me; ābhimukhyam—turning the face
toward; kiṣcit—any; akāri—was done; na—not.
My dear friend, you have passed many lifetimes without paying any attention to Me at all.
BB 2.4.83
asminn asminn ihehaiva
bhave bhāvī mad-unmukhaḥ
ity āśayā tavātyantaṁ
nartito ’smi sadājṣa-vat
asmin—in this one; asmin—in this one; iha—in this; iha—in this; eva—just; bhave—birth;
bhāvī—he will be; mat—Me; unmukhaḥ—with face turned towards; iti-āśayā—with this
hope; tava—your; atyantam—completely; nartitaḥ—made to dance; asmi—I have been;
sadā—always; ajṣa-vat—like a fool.
For so long, hope had me dancing like a fool, thinking, “Perhaps in this lifetime, or this, or
this, or this, he will finally turn his face towards Me.”
Even though Gopa-kumāra had forgotten his Lord for many lifetimes, the Lord had never
forgotten him. The Lord wanted Gopa-kumāra to know this, and also to know how eager the
Lord had always been to regain the association of His devotee.
BB 2.4.84
chalaṁ ca na labhe kiṣcid
yenādyaṁ paripālayan
nibandhaṁ sva-kṛtaṁ bhrātar
ānayāmy ātmanaḥ padam
chalam—pretext; ca—and; na labhe—I did not find; kiṣcit—any; yena—by which; ādyam—
original; paripālayan—observing; nibandham—the restriction; sva—by Myself; kṛtam—
created; bhrātaḥ—O brother; ānayāmi—I could bring; ātmanaḥ—My; padam—to the abode.
But I could find no pretext on which to bring you to My abode, dear brother, and still follow
the timeless laws that I Myself have created.
Since the Supreme Lord is all-powerful, why didn’t He simply find a way to bring Gopakumāra to Him sooner? The Lord establishes the laws of the universe, which are enunciated in
the Vedas and other scriptures, and He chooses to adhere to His own restrictions. As long as
living entities want to control and enjoy their own world, He does not interfere. Only when
they show, by calling out His names, that they want to return to Him does He again reveal
Himself. In previous lives, Gopa-kumāra had never chanted the names of Lord Nārāyaṇa,
even unintentionally or in jest. Had he at least vibrated a shadow of the Lord’s name, he could
have been delivered, like Ajāmila. In any case, now Gopa-kumāra is finally returning home.
BB 2.4.85
tat te mayy akṛpāṁ vīkṣya
vyagro ’nugraha-kātaraḥ
anādiṁ setum ullaṅghya
tvaj-janmedam akārayam
tat—that; te—your; mayi—on Me; akṛpām—lack of mercy; vīkṣya—considering; vyagraḥ—
impatient; anugraha—to receive mercy; kātaraḥ—anxious; anādim—beginningless; setum—
the code of behavior; ullaṅghya—transgressing; tvat—your; janma—birth; idam—this;
akārayam—I caused.
You showed Me no mercy, and as I considered this I grew impatient, full of anxiety to receive
your favor. So I transgressed My eternal code of conduct and arranged for you to take your
current birth.
BB 2.4.86
śrīmad-govardhane tasmin
svayam evābhavaṁ tāta
jayantākhyaḥ sa te guruḥ
śrīmat—divine; govardhane—in Govardhana; tasmin—that; nija—My; priya-tama—most
beloved; āspade—abode; svayam—Myself; eva—indeed; abhavam—I became; tāta—dear
boy; jayanta-ākhyaḥ—named Jayanta; saḥ—he; te—your; guruḥ—spiritual master.
Dear boy, in that divine district of Govardhana, My most beloved abode, I Myself became
your guru, known by the name Jayanta.
The Lord does not interfere with the independence of the rebellious jīvas. He mostly leaves
the responsibility for reforming them to the Vedas and Vaiṣṇavas. But ultimately it is His
mercy that saves the conditioned souls. The Supreme Lord interfered with Gopa-kumāra’s
karma by making Gopa-kumāra take birth at Govardhana Hill. In the words of Lord Brahmā,
yeṣāṁ sa eṣa bhagavān dayayed anantaḥ
sarvātmanāśrita-pado yadi nirvyalīkam
te dustarām atitaranti ca deva-māyāṁ
naiṣāṁ mamāham iti dhīḥ śva-śṛgāla-bhakṣye
“Anyone specifically favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead due to unalloyed
surrender unto His service can overcome the insurmountable ocean of illusion and understand
Him. But those who are attached to the body, which is meant to be eaten at the end by dogs
and jackals, cannot do so.” (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 2.7.42) Only when the Personality of
Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa grants His unconditional kindness can one take wholehearted refuge of the
Lord’s lotus feet and cross beyond the ocean of illusion, otherwise impossible to cross. In this
verse from the Second Canto, the verb atitaranti (“they cross beyond”) is followed by the
word ca (“and”), which implies that besides liberation the surrendered devotees of the Lord
also achieve Śrī Vaikuṇṭha, an attainment that makes liberation seem unimportant. Thus,
Vaikuṇṭha can be attained by those whose self-identification resides not in the material body,
fated to be eaten by dogs and jackals, but in the company of the Supreme Lord’s dedicated
BB 2.4.87
kāmaṁ dīrgha-tamaṁ me ’dya
cirāt tvaṁ samapūrayaḥ
svasya me ’pi sukhaṁ puṣṇann
atraiva nivasa sthiraḥ
kāmam—the desire; dīrgha-tamam—long-held; me—My; adya—today; cirāt—after a long
time; tvam—you; samapūrayaḥ—have fulfilled; svasya—your own; me—My; api—also;
sukham—happiness; puṣṇan—nourishing; atra—here; eva—only; nivasa—please reside;
Today you have at last fulfilled the desire I have harbored for so long. Please nourish your
happiness and Mine by staying here forever.
Here the Lord says in all humility, “What good have I ever done for you? But you have done
the greatest good for Me by coming here.” The Lord hopes that Gopa-kumāra will forget the
discontentment that has impelled him to wander from one place to another and will instead
choose to remain in Vaikuṇṭha.
BB 2.4.88
śrī-gopa-kumāra uvāca
matto ’haṁ nāśakaṁ stotuṁ
kartuṁ jṣātuṁ ca kiṣcana
śrī-gopa-kumāraḥ uvāca—Śrī Gopa-kumāra said; etat—these; śrī-bhagavat—of the Supreme
Lord; vākya—of the words; mahā-pīyūṣa—the very intoxicating beverage; pānataḥ—by
drinking; mattaḥ—maddened; aham—I; na aśakam—was not able; stotum—to offer praise;
kartum—to do; jṣātum—to understand; ca—and; kiṣcana—anything.
Śrī Gopa-kumāra said: Maddened by drinking the beverage of the Supreme Lord’s words, so
intoxicating, I was unable to offer Him praise, or to understand or do anything.
BB 2.4.89
agre sthitā tasya tu veṇu-vādakā
gopārbha-veśāḥ katicin mayā samāḥ
āśvāsya viśvāsya ca veṇu-vādane
prāvartayan snigdha-tarā vikṛṣya mām
agre—in front; sthitāḥ—situated; tasya—of Him; tu—and; veṇu-vādakāḥ—flute players;
gopa-arbha—of cowherd boys; veśāḥ—with dress; katicit—a few; mayā samāḥ—together
with me; āśvāsya—encouraging; viśvāsya—gaining the trust; ca—and; veṇu—of flutes;
vādane—in the playing; prāvartayan—making begin; snigdha-tarāḥ—very affectionately;
vikṛṣya—pulling; mām—me.
Just in front of us appeared a number of flute players dressed as cowherds like me. They very
affectionately encouraged me, gained my trust, pulled me into their midst, and urged me to
play my flute.
BB 2.4.90
etāṁ sva-vaṁśīṁ bahudhā ninādayan
govardhanādri-prabhavāṁ mahā-priyām
śrī-mādhavaṁ taṁ samatoṣayaṁ mahā-
vaidagdhya-sindhuṁ sa-gaṇaṁ kṛpā-nidhim
etām—this; sva—my; vaṁśīm—flute; bahudhā—in various ways; ninādayan—playing;
govardhana-adri—on Govardhana Hill; prabhavām—born; mahā-priyām—very dear; śrīmādhavam—Śrī
vaidagdhya—of skillfulness; sindhum—the ocean; sa-gaṇam—along with His associates;
kṛpā—of mercy; nidhim—the reservoir.
In various styles I played this very dear flute of mine, born on Govardhana Hill, and in this
way I satisfied the ocean of all skillful arts, the reservoir of all mercy, Śrī Mādhava, along
with His associates.
Gopa-kumāra refers to “this” flute because he is holding it in his hand even while instructing
his student in Bhauma Vṛndāvana. This implies that his flute, born a bamboo on Govardhana
Hill, is imperishable. Because the flute came from Govardhana, Gopa-kumāra’s home, it is
very dear to him. His playing pleased the Supreme Lord, and as indicated by the name Śrī
Mādhava (“the husband of the goddess of fortune”), when the Lord was pleased mother
Lakṣmī was also pleased. Though Lord Nārāyaṇa is full in knowledge of all fine arts,
including flute playing, He is also the reservoir of all mercy, so rather than proudly refuse to
be entertained just because He is God, He kindly showed satisfaction with Gopa-kumāra’s
BB 2.4.91
yathā-kālaṁ tataḥ sarve
niḥsaranto mahā-śriyaḥ
ājṣayā nirgamānicchuṁ
yuktyā māṁ bahir ānayan
yathā-kālam—at the appropriate time; tataḥ—then; sarve—all; niḥsarantaḥ—exiting; mahāśriyaḥ—of the supreme goddess of fortune; ājṣayā—on the request; nirgama—to leave;
anicchum—not wanting; yuktyā—by persuasion; mām—me; bahiḥ—outside; ānayan—they
When the time came to stop, everyone, on the request of Lakṣmīdevī, started to leave, but I
didn’t want to go. The devotees had to persuade me to let them escort me outside.
Śrī Lakṣmīdevī told the devotees to leave because it was time for Lord Nārāyaṇa’s lunch and
for other important business. Only she remains with the Lord during His meals. Like every
housewife, Lakṣmī manages the household affairs. And Lakṣmī displays her supreme
opulences to provide the enjoyable comforts of Vaikuṇṭha life for the pleasure of her husband.
BB 2.4.92
tatrāparasyeva mahā-vibhūtīr
upasthitās tāḥ parihṛtya dūre
svayaṁ satīr ātmani cāprakāśya
gopārbha-rūpo nyavasaṁ pureva
tatra—there; aparasya iva—as for another; mahā-vibhūtīḥ—transcendental opulences;
upasthitāḥ—which approached; tāḥ—them; parihṛtya—keeping away; dūre—far; svayam—
themselves; satīḥ—appearing; ātmani—in me; ca—and; aprakāśya—not exhibiting; gopaarbha—of a cowherd boy; rūpaḥ—in the form; nyavasam—I resided; purā—before; iva—as.
Though in Vaikuṇṭha I was approached, like everyone else, by transcendental opulences, I
avoided them. I refused to show even the splendors that spontaneously appeared within me. I
resided there in the same form I had always had, that of a cowherd boy.
Simply because he was living in Vaikuṇṭha, special powers appeared within him. But he
avoided exploiting them or even letting others see them.
BB 2.4.93
sac-cid-ānanda-rūpās tāḥ
sarvās tatra vibhūtayaḥ
svādhīnā hi yathā-kāmaṁ
bhaveyuḥ samprakāśitāḥ
sat-cit-ānanda—of eternity, knowledge, and bliss; rūpāḥ—whose forms; tāḥ—they; sarvāḥ—
all; tatra—there; vibhūtayaḥ—opulences; sva-adhīnāḥ—under one’s control; hi—indeed;
yathā-kāmam—as one desires; bhaveyuḥ—they become present; samprakāśitāḥ—appearing.
In Vaikuṇṭha all opulences are purely spiritual, full in eternity, knowledge, and bliss.
Appearing whenever one desires, they willingly submit themselves to one’s control.
The infinite varieties of the spiritual kingdom all share a common grounding in sac-cidānanda existence. But since the expression of opulence there depends on the desires of the
individual residents, one encounters immeasurable variety. Personal powers there are purely
spiritual, so the residents use them faultlessly, without the selfish manipulations employed to
enjoy one’s senses in the material world.
BB 2.4.94
itthaṁ tu vaibhavābhāve
vaibhavaṁ vaibhave ’pi ca
akiṣcanatvaṁ ghaṭate
vaikuṇṭhe tat-svabhāvataḥ
ittham—thus; tu—but; vaibhava—of opulence; abhāve—in the absence; vaibhavam—
opulence; vaibhave—in opulence; api ca—also; akiṣcanatvam—the quality of possessing
nothing; ghaṭate—occurs; vaikuṇṭhe—in Vaikuṇṭha; tat—of that place; svabhāvataḥ—by the
special nature.
Thus there is opulence even in what seems like its absence. And when opulence is visible, the
devotees still feel as if they possess nothing. That is the special nature of Vaikuṇṭha.
Every Vaikuṇṭha-vāsī has access to personal control over infinite energies, whether he
chooses to display them or not. Yet even when devotees in Vaikuṇṭha use their ability to
manifest wonderful things, they still feel meek and humble because they are just sparks of the
Supreme, from whom the sac-cid-ānanda opulences of Vaikuṇṭha all expand. The devotees in
Vaikuṇṭha are free from the tendency to exploit other people and things for their own selfish
interests. This is the nature of Vaikuṇṭha—it is free from the constraints (kuṇṭha) of material
bondage. As already stated, in that divine realm the all-pervasive spiritual nature coexists with
the infinite variety of ways to serve the Personality of Godhead.
BB 2.4.95
tathāpi pūrvābhyāsasya
balena mahatā prabhoḥ
bhajanaṁ khalu manye ’haṁ
dīna-vṛttyā sad