83. Sacrificial Ceremonies Performed by Vasudeva

29 / Sacrificial Ceremonies Performed by Vasudeva
Among the women present at Kurukñetra during the solar eclipse were Kunté, Gändhäré, Draupadé, Subhadrä and the queens of many other kings, as well as the gopés from Våndävana. When the different queens of Lord Kåñëa were submitting their statements as to how they were married and accepted by Lord Kåñëa as His wives, all the female members of the Kuru dynasty were struck with wonder. They were filled with admiration at how all the queens of Kåñëa were attached to Him with love and affection. When they heard about the queens' intensity of love and affection for Kåñëa, they could not check their eyes from filling up with tears.
While the women were engaged in conversations among themselves and the men were similarly engaged in conversation, there arrived almost all the important sages and ascetics from all directions, who had come for the purpose of seeing Lord Kåñëa and Balaräma. Chief among the sages were Kåñëa-dvaipäyana Vyäsa, the great sage Närada, Cyavana, Devala, Asita, Viçvämitra, Çatänanda, Bharadväja, Gautama, and Lord Paraçuräma along with his disciples; Vasiñöha, Gälava, Bhågu, Pulastya, Kaçyapa, Atri, Märkaëòeya, Båhaspati, Dvita, Trita, Ekata; the four Kumära sons of Brahmä, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanätana and Sanatkumära; Aìgira and Agastya, Yäjïavalkya and Vämadeva.
As soon as the sages and ascetics arrived, all the kings, including Mahäräja Yudhiñöhira and the Päëòavas and Lord Kåñëa and Balaräma, immediately got up from their seats and offered their respects by bowing down to the universally respected sages. After this, the sages were properly welcomed by being offered seats and water for washing their feet. Palatable fruits, garlands of flowers, incense, and sandalwood pulp were presented, and all the kings, led by Kåñëa and Balaräma, worshiped the sages according to the Vedic rules and regulations. When all the sages were comfortably seated, Lord Kåñëa, who descended for the protection of religion, began to address them on behalf of all the kings. When Kåñëa began to speak, all became silent, being eager to hear and understand His welcoming words to the sages.
Lord Kåñëa spoke thus: "All glories to the assembled sages and ascetics! Today we are all feeling that our lives have become successful. Today we have achieved the desired goal of life, because we are now seeing face to face all the exalted liberated sages and ascetics whom even the great demigods in the heavens desire to see. Persons who are neophytes in devotional service and who simply offer their respectful obeisances to the Deity in the temple but cannot realize that the Lord is situated in everyone's heart, and those who simply worship different demigods for fulfillment of their own lusty desires, are unable to understand the importance of these sages. They cannot take advantage of receiving these sages by seeing them with their eyes, by touching their lotus feet, by inquiring about their welfare or by diligently worshiping them."
Neophyte devotees or religionists cannot understand the importance of great mahätmäs. They go to the temple as a matter of formality and pay their respectful obeisances unto the Deity. But when one is promoted to the next platform of transcendental consciousness, one can understand the importance of mahätmäs and devotees, and in that stage the devotee tries to please them. Therefore, Lord Kåñëa said that the neophyte cannot understand the importance of great sages, devotees or ascetics.
Kåñëa continued, "One cannot purify himself by traveling to holy places of pilgrimage and taking bath there or by seeing the Deities in the temples. But if one happens to meet a great devotee, a mahätmä who is representative of the Personality of Godhead, one becomes immediately purified. In order to become purified, there is the injunction to worship the fire, the sun, the moon, the earth, the water, the air, the sky and the mind. By worshiping all the elements and their predominating deities, one can become free from the influence of envy, but all the sins of an envious person can be nullified immediately simply by serving a great soul. My dear revered sages and respectable kings, you can take it from Me that a person who accepts this material body made of three elements--mucus, bile and air--as his own self, who considers his family and relatives as his own, and who accepts material things as worshipable, or who visits holy places of pilgrimage just to take a bath there, but never associates with great personalities, sages and mahätmäs--such a person, even in the form of a human being, is nothing but an animal, like an ass."
When the supreme authority, Lord Kåñëa, was thus speaking with great gravity, all the sages and ascetics remained in dead silence. They became amazed upon hearing Him speaking the absolute philosophy of life in such a concise way. Unless one is very much advanced in knowledge, one thinks his body to be his self, his family members to be his kith and kin, and the land of his birth to be worshipable. From this concept of life, the modern ideology of nationalism has sprung up. Lord Kåñëa condemned such ideas, and He also condemned persons who take the trouble to go to holy places of pilgrimage just to take a bath and come back without taking the opportunity to associate with the great devotees and mahätmäs living there. Such persons are compared to the most foolish animal, the ass. All those who heard considered the speech of Lord Kåñëa for some time, and they concluded that Lord Kåñëa was actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead, playing the role of an ordinary human being who is forced to take a certain type of body as a result of the reactions of his past deeds. He was assuming this pastime as an ordinary human simply to teach the people in general how they should live for perfection of the human mission.
Having concluded that Kåñëa was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the sages began to address Him thus: "Dear Lord, we, the leaders of human society, are supposed to possess the proper philosophy of life, and yet we are becoming bewildered by the spell of Your external energy. We are surprised to see Your behavior, which is just like that of an ordinary human being and which conceals Your real identity as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and we therefore consider Your pastimes to be all-wonderful.
"Our dear Lord, by Your own energy You are creating, maintaining and annihilating the whole cosmic manifestation of different names and forms, in the same way as the earth creates many forms of stone, trees and other varieties of names and forms and yet remains the same. Although You are creating varieties of manifestation through Your energy, You are unaffected by all those actions. Our dear Lord, we remain simply stunned by seeing Your wonderful actions. Although You are transcendental to this entire material creation and are the Supreme Lord and the Supersoul of all living entities, You nevertheless appear on this earth by Your internal potency to protect Your devotees and destroy the miscreants. By such appearance You reestablish the principles of eternal religion, which the human society forgets by long association with the material energy. Our dear Lord, You are the creator of the social orders and spiritual statuses of the human society according to quality and work, and when these orders are misguided by unscrupulous persons, You appear and set them right.
"Dear Lord, the Vedic knowledge is the representation of Your pure heart. Austerities, study of the Vedas, and meditative trances lead to different realizations of Your Self in Your manifested and nonmanifested aspects. The entire phenomenal world is a manifestation of Your impersonal energy, but You Yourself, as the original Personality of Godhead, are nonmanifested there. You are the Supreme Soul, the Supreme Brahman. Persons who are situated in brahminical culture, therefore, can understand the truth about Your transcendental form. Thus You always hold the brähmaëas in respect, and thus You are considered to be the topmost of all followers of brahminical culture. You are therefore known as brahmaëya-deva. Our dear Lord, You are the last word in good fortune and the last resort of all saintly persons; therefore we all consider that we have achieved the perfection of our life, education, austerity and acquisition of transcendental knowledge by meeting You. Factually, You are the ultimate goal of all transcendental achievements.
"Our dear Lord, there is no end to Your unlimited knowledge. Your form is transcendental, eternally existing in full bliss and knowledge. You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Supreme Brahman, the Supreme Soul. Being covered by the spell of Your internal potency, yogamäyä, You are now temporarily concealing Your unlimited potencies, but still we can understand Your exalted position, and therefore all of us offer You our respectful obeisances. Dear Lord, You are enjoying Your pastimes in the role of a human being, concealing Your real character of transcendental opulence; therefore, all the kings who are present here, even the members of the Yadu dynasty who are constantly mingling with You, eating with You, and sitting with You, cannot understand that You are the original cause of all causes, the soul of everyone, the original cause of all creation.
"When a person dreams at night, hallucinatory figures created by the dream are accepted as real, and the imaginary dream body is accepted as one's real body. For the time being one forgets that besides the body created in hallucination, there is another, real body in his awakened state. Similarly, in the awakened state also, the bewildered conditioned soul considers sense enjoyment to be real happiness.
"By the process of enjoyment of the senses of the material body, the spirit soul is covered, and his consciousness becomes materially contaminated. It is due to material consciousness that one cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kåñëa. All great mystic yogés endeavor to revive their Kåñëa consciousness by mature practice of the yoga system and thus understand Your lotus feet and meditate upon Your transcendental form. In this way the accumulated result of sinful activities is counteracted. It is said that the water of the Ganges can vanquish volumes of a person's sinful actions, but the Ganges water is glorious only due to Your lotus feet. The Ganges water is flowing as perspiration from the lotus feet of Your Lordship. And we are all so fortunate that today we have been able to directly see Your lotus feet. Dear Lord, we are all surrendered souls, devotees of Your Lordship; therefore, please be kind and bestow Your causeless mercy upon us. We know well that persons who have become liberated by constant engagement in Your devotional service are no longer contaminated by the material modes of nature; thus they have become eligible to be promoted to the kingdom of God in the spiritual world."
After first offering prayers to Lord Kåñëa, the assembled sages wanted to take permission from King Dhåtaräñöra and King Yudhiñöhira and then depart for their respective äçramas. At that time, however, Vasudeva, the father of Lord Kåñëa and the most celebrated of all pious men, approached the sages and with great humility offered his respects by falling down at their feet. Vasudeva said, "My dear great sages, you are more respected than the demigods. I therefore offer my respectful obeisances unto you. I wish that you will accept my one request, if you so desire. I shall consider it a great blessing if you kindly explain the supreme fruitive activity by which one can counteract the reactions of all other activities."
The great sage Närada was the leader of all the sages present there. Therefore he began to speak. "My dear sages," he said, "it is not very difficult to understand that because of his great goodness and simplicity, Vasudeva, who has become the father of the Personality of Godhead by accepting Kåñëa as his son, is inclined to ask us about his welfare. It is said that familiarity breeds contempt. As such, Vasudeva, having Kåñëa as his son, does not regard Kåñëa with awe and veneration. Sometimes it is seen that persons who are living on the bank of the Ganges do not consider the Ganges to be very important, and they go far away in order to take their baths at a place of pilgrimage. Being that Lord Kåñëa, whose knowledge is never second in any circumstances, is personally present, there is no need of Vasudeva's asking us for instruction.
Lord Kåñëa is not affected by the process of creation, maintenance and annihilation; His knowledge is never influenced by any agency beyond Himself. He is not agitated by the interaction of the material qualities, which changes things in the modes of time. His transcendental form is full of knowledge which never becomes agitated by ignorance, pride, attachment, envy or sense enjoyment. His knowledge is never subjected to the laws of karma regarding pious or impious activities; nor is it influenced by the three modes of material energy. No one is greater than or equal to Him, because He is the supreme authority, the Personality of Godhead.
"The ordinary conditioned human being may think the conditioned soul, who is covered by his materialistic senses, mind and intelligence, to be equal to Kåñëa, but Lord Kåñëa is just like the sun, which, although it sometimes may appear to be so, is never covered by the cloud, snow or fog or by other planets. When the eyes of less intelligent men are covered by such influences, they think the sun to be invisible. Similarly, persons influenced by the senses and addicted to material enjoyment cannot have a clear vision of the Supreme Personality of Godhead."
The sages present then began to address Vasudeva in the presence of Lord Kåñëa, Balaräma and many other kings, and, as requested by him, they gave their instructions: "To counteract the reaction of karma, or desires impelling one to fruitive activities, one must execute the prescribed sacrifices which are meant for worshiping Lord Viñëu with faith and devotion. Lord Viñëu is the beneficiary of the results of all sacrificial performances. Great personalities and sages who are sufficiently experienced to possess vision of the three phases of the time element, namely past, present and future, and those who are able to see everything clearly through the eyes of revealed scriptures, have unanimously recommended that to purify the dust of material contamination accumulated in the heart and to clear the path of liberation and thereby achieve transcendental bliss, one must please Lord Viñëu. For everyone in the different social orders (brähmaëa, kñatriya and vaiçya) who are living as householders, this worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Viñëu, who is known as Puruñottama, the original person, is recommended as the only auspicious path.
"All conditioned souls within this material world have deep-rooted desires to lord it over the resources of material nature. Everyone wants to accumulate riches, everyone wants to enjoy life to the greatest extent, everyone wants a wife, home and children, and everyone wants to become happy in this world and be elevated to the heavenly planets in the next life. But these desires are the causes of one's material bondage. Therefore, to get liberation from this bondage, one has to sacrifice his honestly earned riches for the satisfaction of Lord Viñëu.
"The only process to counteract all sorts of material desire is to engage oneself in the devotional service of Lord Viñëu. In this way a self-controlled person, even while remaining in householder life, should give up the three kinds of material desires, namely desire for the acquisition of material opulences, the enjoyment of wife and children, and elevation to higher planets. Eventually he may give up householder life and accept the renounced order of life, engaging himself completely in the devotional service of the Lord. Everyone, even if born in a higher status of life as brähmaëa, kñatriya, or vaiçya, is certainly indebted to the demigods, to the sages, to the forefathers, to living entities and so on, and in order to liquidate all these debts, one has to perform sacrifices, study the Vedic literature and generate children in religious householder life. If somehow one accepts the renounced order of life without fulfilling this debt, certainly he falls down from his position. Today you have already liquidated your debts to your forefathers and the sages. Now, by performing sacrifices, you can free yourself from indebtedness to the demigods and thus take complete shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. My dear Vasudeva, certainly you have already performed many pious activities in your previous lives. Otherwise, how could you be the father of Kåñëa and Balaräma, the Supreme Personality of Godhead?"
Saintly Vasudeva, after hearing all the sages, offered his respectful obeisances unto their lotus feet. In this way he pleased the sages, and then he elected for them to perform the yajïas. When the sages were elected as priests of the sacrifices, they also in turn induced Vasudeva to collect the required paraphernalia for executing the yajïas in that place of pilgrimage. Thus Vasudeva was persuaded to start to perform the yajïas, and all the members of the Yadu dynasty took their baths, dressed themselves very nicely, and decorated themselves beautifully and garlanded themselves with lotus flowers. Vasudeva's wives, dressed with nice garments and ornaments and golden necklaces, approached the arena of sacrifice carrying in their hands the required articles to offer in the sacrifice.
When everything was complete, there was heard the vibration of mådaìgas, conchshells, kettledrums and other musical instruments. Professional dancers, both male and female, began to dance. The sütas and mägadhas, who were professional singers, began to offer prayers by singing. The Gandharvas and their wives, whose voices were very sweet, began to sing many auspicious songs. Vasudeva anointed his eyes with collyrium, smeared butter over his body, and then, along with his eighteen wives, headed by Devaké, sat before the priests to be purified by the abhiñeka ceremony. All such ceremonies were observed strictly according to the principles of scriptures, as was done formerly in the case of the moon with the stars. Vasudeva, because he was being initiated for the sacrifice, was dressed in deerskin, but all his wives were dressed with very nice saris, bangles, necklaces, ankle bells, earrings and many other ornaments. Vasudeva looked very beautiful surrounded by his wives, exactly like the King of heaven when he performs such sacrifices.
At that time, when Lord Kåñëa and Lord Balaräma, along with Their wives, children and relatives, sat down in that great sacrificial arena, it appeared that the Supreme Personality of Godhead was present along with all His part and parcel living entities and multi-energies. We have heard from the çästras that Lord Kåñëa has multi-energies and parts and parcels, but now in that sacrificial arena all could actually experience how the Supreme Personality of Godhead eternally exists along with His different energies. At that time, Lord Kåñëa appeared as Lord Näräyaëa, and Lord Balaräma appeared as Saìkarñaëa, the reservoir of all living entities.
Vasudeva satisfied Lord Viñëu by performing different kinds of sacrifices, such as jyotiñöoma, darña and pürëamäsa. Some of these yajïas are called präkåta, and some of them are known as sauryasatra or vaikåta. Thereafter, the other sacrifices, known as agnihotra, were also performed, and the prescribed articles were offered in the proper way. In this way Lord Viñëu became pleased. The ultimate purpose of offering oblations in sacrifice is to please Lord Viñëu. But in this age of Kali it is very difficult to collect the different articles required for offering sacrifices. People have neither the means to collect the required paraphernalia nor the necessary knowledge or tendency to offer such sacrifices. Therefore, in this age of Kali, when people are mostly unfortunate, full of anxieties and disturbed by various kinds of calamities, the only sacrifice recommended is the performance of saìkértana-yajïa. Worshiping Lord Caitanya by this saìkértana-yajïa is the only recommended process in this age.
After the performance of the different sacrifices, Vasudeva offered ample riches, clothing, ornaments, cows, land and maidservants to the priests. Thereafter, all the wives of Vasudeva took their avabhåtha baths and performed the part of the sacrificial duties known as patnésaàyäja. After finishing the offering with all the required paraphernalia, they all took their baths together in the lakes constructed by Paraçuräma, which are known as the Räma-hrada. After Vasudeva and his wives took their baths, all the garments and ornaments which they wore were distributed to the subordinate persons who were engaged in singing, dancing and similar activities. We may note that the performance of sacrifice necessitates the profuse distribution of riches. Charity is offered to the priests and the brähmaëas in the beginning, and used garments and ornaments are offered in charity to the subordinate assistants after the performance of the sacrifice.
After offering the used articles to the singers and reciters, Vasudeva and his wives, dressed with new ornaments and dresses, fed everyone very sumptuously, beginning from the brähmaëas down to the dogs. After this, all the friends, family members, wives and children of Vasudeva, along with all the kings and members of the Vidarbha, Koçala, Kuru, Käçé, Kekaya and Såïjaya dynasties, assembled together. The priests, the demigods, the people in general, the forefathers, the ghosts and the Cäraëas were all sufficiently remunerated by being offered ample gifts and respectful honor. Then all the persons assembled there took permission from Lord Kåñëa, the husband of the goddess of fortune, and while glorifying the perfection of the sacrifice made by Vasudeva, they departed to their respective homes.
At that time, when King Dhåtaräñöra, Vidura, Yudhiñöhira, Bhéma, Arjuna, Bhéñmadeva, Droëäcärya, Kunté, Nakula, Sahadeva, Närada, Lord Vyäsadeva and many other relatives and kinsmen were about to part, they felt separation and therefore embraced each and every member of the Yadu dynasty with great feeling. Many others who were assembled in that sacrificial arena also departed. After this, Lord Kåñëa and Lord Balaräma, along with King Ugrasena, satisfied the inhabitants of Våndävana, headed by Mahäräja Nanda and the cowherd men, by profusely offering all kinds of gifts in order to worship them and please them. Out of their great feelings of friendship, the inhabitants of Våndävana remained there for a considerable time along with the members of the Yadu dynasty.
After performing this sacrifice, Vasudeva felt so satisfied that there was no limit to his happiness. All the members of his family were with him, and in their presence he caught hold of the hands of Nanda Mahäräja and addressed him thus: "My dear brother, the Supreme Personality of Godhead has created a great tie of bondage which is known as the bondage of love and affection. I think it is a very difficult job for even the great sages and saintly persons to cut such a tie of love. My dear brother, you have exhibited feelings of love for me, which I was not able to return. I think, therefore, that I am ungrateful. You have behaved exactly as is characteristic of saintly persons, but I shall never be able to repay you. I have no means to repay you for your friendly dealings. Nevertheless I am confident that our tie of love will never break. Our relationship of friendship must ever continue, in spite of my inability to repay you. I hope you will excuse me for this inability.
"My dear brother, in the beginning, due to my being imprisoned, I could never serve you as a friend, and although at the present moment I am very opulent, because of my material prosperity I have become blind. I therefore cannot satisfy you properly even at this time. My dear brother, you are so nice and gentle that you offer all respect to others, but you don't care for any respect for yourself. A person seeking for auspicious progress in life must not possess too much material opulence with which to become blind and puffed up, but he should take care of his friends and relatives."
When Vasudeva was speaking to Nanda Mahäräja in this way, he was influenced by a great feeling for the friendship of Nanda Mahäräja and the beneficial activities executed by King Nanda on his behalf. As such, his eyes filled with tears, and he began to cry. Desiring to please his friend Vasudeva and being affectionately bound with love for Lord Kåñëa and Balaräma, Nanda Mahäräja passed three months in their association. At the end of this time, all the members of the Yadu dynasty tried to please the inhabitants of Våndävana to their hearts' content. The members of the Yadu dynasty tried to satisfy Nanda Mahäräja and his associates by offering them clothing, ornaments, and many other valuable articles, and they all became fully satisfied. Vasudeva, Ugrasena, Lord Kåñëa, Lord Balaräma, Uddhava and all other members of the Yadu dynasty presented their individual gifts to Nanda Mahäräja and his associates. After Nanda Mahäräja received these farewell presentations, he, along with his associates, started for Vrajabhümi, Våndävana. The minds of the inhabitants of Våndävana remained, however, with Kåñëa and Balaräma, and therefore all of them started for Våndävana without their minds.
When the members of the Våñëi family saw all their friends and visitors departing, they observed that the rainy season was approaching, and thus they decided to return to Dvärakä. They were fully satisfied, for they regarded Kåñëa as everything. When they returned to Dvärakä, they began with great satisfaction to describe the sacrifice performed by Vasudeva, their meeting with various friends and well-wishers, and various other incidents which occurred during their travels in the places of pilgrimage.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Second Volume, Twenty-ninth Chapter, of Kåñëa, "Sacrificial Ceremonies Performed by Vasudeva."

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