85. The Kidnapping of Subhadra and Lord Krsna's Visiting Srutadeva and Bahulasva
31 / The Kidnapping of Subhadrä and Lord Kåñëa's Visiting Çrutadeva and Bahuläçva
After hearing this incident, King Parékñit became more inquisitive to hear about Kåñëa and His pastimes, and thus he inquired from Çukadeva Gosvämé how his grandmother Subhadrä was kidnapped by his grandfather Arjuna at the instigation of Lord Kåñëa. King Parékñit was very much eager to learn about his grandfather's kidnapping and marriage of his grandmother.
Thus Çukadeva Gosvämé began to narrate the story as follows: "Once upon a time, your grandfather Arjuna, the great hero, was visiting several holy places of pilgrimage, and while he was thus traveling all over he happened to come to Prabhäsakñetra. In the Prabhäsakñetra he heard the news that Lord Balaräma was negotiating the marriage of Subhadrä, the daughter of Arjuna's maternal uncle, Vasudeva. Although her father, Vasudeva, and her brother, Kåñëa, were not in agreement with Him, Balaräma was in favor of marrying Subhadrä to Duryodhana. Arjuna, however, desired to gain the hand of Subhadrä."
As he thought of Subhadrä and her beauty, Arjuna became more and more captivated with the idea of marrying her, and with a plan in mind he dressed himself like a Vaiñëava sannyäsé, carrying a tridaëòa in his hand. The Mäyävädé sannyäsés take one daëòa, or one rod, whereas the Vaiñëava sannyäsés take three daëòa, or three rods. The three rods, or tridaëòa, indicate that a Vaiñëava sannyäsé vows to render service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead by his body, mind and words. The system of tridaëòa-sannyäsa has been in existence for a long time, and the Vaiñëava sannyäsés are called tridaëòés, or sometimes tridaëòi-svämés or tridaëòi-gosvämés.
Sannyäsés are generally meant to travel all over the country for preaching work, but during the four months of the rainy season in India, from September through December, they do not travel, but take shelter in one place and remain there without moving. This non-movement of the sannyäsé is called Cäturmäsya-vrata. When a sannyäsé stays in a place for four months, the local inhabitants of that place take advantage of his presence to become spiritually advanced.
Arjuna, in the dress of a tridaëòi-sannyäsé, remained in the city of Dvärakä four months, devising a plan whereby he could get Subhadrä as his wife. The inhabitants of Dvärakä as well as Lord Balaräma could not recognize the sannyäsé to be Arjuna; therefore all of them offered their respect and obeisances to the sannyäsé without knowing the actual situation.
One day Lord Balaräma invited this particular sannyäsé to lunch at His home. Balarämajé very respectfully offered him all kinds of palatable dishes, and the so-called sannyäsé was eating sumptuously. While eating at the home of Balarämajé, Arjuna was simply looking over beautiful Subhadrä, who was very enchanting even to the great heroes and kings. Out of love for her, Arjuna's eyes brightened, and he began to see her with glittering eyes. Arjuna decided that somehow or other he would achieve Subhadrä as his wife, and his mind became agitated on account of this strong desire.
Arjuna, the grandfather of Mahäräja Parékñit, was himself extraordinarily beautiful, and his bodily structure was very much attractive to Subhadrä. Subhadrä also decided within her mind that she would accept only Arjuna as her husband. As a simple girl, she was smiling with great pleasure, looking at Arjuna. Thus Arjuna also became more and more attracted by her. In this way, Subhadrä dedicated herself to Arjuna, and he resolved to marry her by any means. He then became absorbed twenty-four hours a day in the thought of how he could get Subhadrä as his wife. He was afflicted with the thought of getting Subhadrä, and he had not a moment's peace of mind.
Once upon a time, Subhadrä, seated on a chariot, came out of the palace fort to see the gods in the temple. Arjuna took this opportunity, and with the permission of Vasudeva and Devaké, he kidnapped her. After getting on Subhadrä's chariot, he prepared himself for a fight. Taking up his bow and holding off with his arrows the soldiers ordered to check him, Arjuna took Subhadrä away. While Subhadrä was being thus kidnapped by Arjuna, her relatives and family members began to cry, but still he took her, just as a lion takes his share and departs. When it was disclosed to Lord Balaräma that the so-called sannyäsé was Arjuna, and that he had planned such a device simply to take away Subhadrä and that he had actually taken her, He became very angry. Just as the waves of the ocean become agitated on a full moon day, Lord Balaräma became greatly disturbed.
Lord Kåñëa was in favor of Arjuna; therefore, along with other members of the family, He tried to pacify Balaräma by falling at His feet and begging Him to pardon Arjuna. Lord Balaräma was then convinced that Subhadrä was attached to Arjuna, and He became pleased to know that she wanted Arjuna as her husband. The matter was settled, and in order to please the newly married couple, Lord Balaräma arranged to send a dowry, consisting of an abundance of riches, elephants, chariots, horses, servants and maidservants.
Mahäräja Parékñit was very anxious to hear more about Kåñëa, and so, after finishing the narration of Arjuna's kidnapping Subhadrä, Çukadeva Gosvämé began to narrate another story, as follows.
There was a householder brähmaëa in the city of Mithilä, the capital of the kingdom of Videha. This brähmaëa, whose name was Çrutadeva, was a great devotee of Lord Kåñëa. Due to his being fully Kåñëa conscious and always engaged in the service of the Lord, he was completely peaceful in mind and detached from all material attraction. He was very learned and had no other desire than to be fully situated in Kåñëa consciousness. Although in the order of householder life, he never took great pains to earn anything for his livelihood; he was satisfied with whatever he could achieve without much endeavor, and somehow or other he lived in that way. Every day he would get necessities for life in just the quantity required, and not more. That was his destiny. The brähmaëa had no desire to get more than what he needed, and thus he was peacefully executing the regulative principles of a brähmaëa's life, as enjoined in the revealed scriptures.
Fortunately, the King of Mithilä was as good a devotee as the brähmaëa. The name of this famous King was Bahuläçva. He was very well established in his reputation as a good king, and he was not at all ambitious to extend his kingdom for the sake of sense gratification. As such, both the brähmaëa and King Bahuläçva remained pure devotees of Lord Kåñëa in Mithilä.
Since Lord Kåñëa was very merciful upon these two devotees, King Bahuläçva and the brähmaëa, Çrutadeva, He one day asked His driver, Däruka, to take His chariot into the capital city of Mithilä. Lord Kåñëa was accompanied by the great sages Närada, Vämadeva, Atri, Vyäsadeva, Paraçuräma, Asita, Aruëi, Båhaspati, Kaëva, Maitreya, Cyavana and others. Lord Kåñëa and the sages were passing through many villages and towns, and everywhere the citizens would receive them with great respect and offer them articles in worship. When the citizens came to see the Lord and all of them assembled together in one place, it seemed that the sun was present along with his various satellite planets. In that journey, Lord Kåñëa and the sages passed through the kingdoms of Änarta, Dhanva, Kuru-jäìgala, Kaìka, Matsya, Päïcäla, Kunti, Madhu, Kekaya, Koçala and Arëa, and thus all the citizens of these places, both men and women, could see Lord Kåñëa eye to eye. In this way they enjoyed celestial happiness, with open hearts full of love and affection for the Lord, and when they saw the face of the Lord, it seemed to them that they were drinking nectar through their eyes. When they saw Kåñëa, all the ignorant misconceptions of their lives dissipated. When the Lord passed through the various countries and the people came to visit Him, simply by glancing over them the Lord would bestow all good fortune upon them and liberate them from all kinds of ignorance. In some places, the demigods also would join with the human beings, and their glorification of the Lord would cleanse all directions of all inauspicious things. In this way, Lord Kåñëa slowly and gradually reached the kingdom of Videha.
When the news of the Lord's arrival was received by the citizens, they all felt unlimited happiness and came to welcome Him, taking gifts in their hands to offer. As soon as they saw Lord Kåñëa, their hearts immediately blossomed in transcendental bliss, just as a lotus flower blooms on the rising of the sun. Previously they had simply heard the names of the great sages, but had never seen them. Now, by the mercy of Lord Kåñëa, they had the opportunity of seeing both the great sages and the Lord Himself.
King Bahuläçva, as well as the brähmaëa, Çrutadeva, knowing well that the Lord had come there just to grace them with favor, immediately fell at the Lord's lotus feet and offered their respects. With folded hands, the King and the brähmaëa each simultaneously invited Lord Kåñëa and all the sages to his home. In order to please both of them, Lord Kåñëa expanded Himself into two and went to the houses of each one of them; yet neither the King nor the brähmaëa could understand that the Lord had gone to the house of the other. Both thought that the Lord had gone only to his own house. That He and His companions were present in both houses, although both the brähmaëa and the King thought He was present in his house only, is another opulence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This opulence is described in the revealed scriptures as vaibhava-prakäça. Similarly, when Lord Kåñëa married sixteen thousand wives, He also expanded Himself into sixteen thousand forms, each one of them as powerful as He Himself. Similarly, in Våndävana, when Brahmä stole away Kåñëa's cows, calves and cowherd boys, Kåñëa expanded Himself into many new cows, calves and cowherd boys.
Bahuläçva, the King of Videha, was very intelligent and was a perfect gentleman. He was astonished that so many great sages, along with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, were personally present in his home. He knew perfectly well that the conditioned soul, especially when engaged in worldly affairs, cannot be a hundred percent pure, whereas the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His pure devotees are always transcendental to worldly contamination. Therefore, when he found that the Supreme Personality of Godhead Kåñëa and all the great sages were at his home, he was astonished, and he began to thank Lord Kåñëa for His causeless mercy.
Feeling very much obliged and wanting to receive his guests to the best of his capacity, he called for nice chairs and cushions, and Lord Kåñëa, along with all the sages, sat down very comfortably. At that time, King Bahuläçva's mind was very restless, not because of any problems, but because of great ecstasy of love and devotion. His heart was filled with love and affection for the Lord and His associates, and his eyes were filled with tears of ecstasy. He arranged to wash the feet of his divine guests, and after washing them he and his family members sprinkled the water on their own heads. After this, he offered to the guests nice flower garlands, sandalwood pulp, incense, new garments, ornaments, lamps, cows and bulls. In a manner just befitting his royal position, he worshiped each one of them in this way. When all had been fed sumptuously and were sitting very comfortably, Bahuläçva came before Lord Kåñëa and caught His lotus feet. He placed them on his lap and, while massaging the feet with his hands, began to speak about the glories of the Lord in a sweet voice.
"My dear Lord, You are the Supersoul of all living entities and as witness within the heart are cognizant of everyone's activities. As such, being duty-bound, we always think of Your lotus feet so that we can remain in a secure position without deviating from Your eternal service. As a result of our continuous remembrance of Your lotus feet, You have kindly visited my place personally to favor me with Your causeless mercy. We have heard, my dear Lord, that by Your various statements You confirm Your pure devotees to be more dear to You than Lord Balaräma or Your constant servitor the goddess of fortune. Your devotees are dearer to You than Your first son, Lord Brahmä, and I am sure that You have so kindly visited my place in order to prove Your divine statement. I cannot imagine how people can be godless and demoniac even after knowing of Your causeless mercy and affection for Your devotees who are constantly engaged in Kåñëa consciousness. How can they forget Your lotus feet?
"My dear Lord, it is known to us that You are so kind and liberal that when a person leaves everything just to engage in Kåñëa consciousness, You sometimes give Yourself in exchange for that unalloyed service. You have appeared in the Yadu dynasty to fulfill Your mission of reclaiming all conditioned souls rotting in the sinful activities of material existence, and this appearance is already famous all over the world. My dear Lord, You are the ocean of unlimited mercy, love and affection. Your transcendental form is full of bliss, knowledge and eternity. You can attract everyone's heart by Your beautiful form as Çyämasundara, Kåñëa. Your knowledge is unlimited, and to teach all people how to execute devotional service You have sent Your incarnation Nara-Näräyaëa, who is engaged in severe austerities and penances at Badarénäräyaëa. Kindly, therefore, accept my humble obeisances at Your lotus feet. My dear Lord, I beg to request You and Your companions, the great sages and brähmaëas, to remain at my place so that this family of the famous King Nimi may be sanctified by the dust of Your lotus feet at least for a few days." Lord Kåñëa could not refuse the request of His devotee, and thus He remained there for a few days along with the sages in order to sanctify the city of Mithilä and all its citizens.
Meanwhile, the brähmaëa, simultaneously receiving Lord Kåñëa and His associates at his home, became transcendentally overwhelmed with joy. After offering his guests nice sitting places, the brähmaëa began to dance, throwing his wrap around his body. Çrutadeva, being not at all rich, offered only mattresses, wooden planks, straw carpets, etc., to his distinguished guests, Lord Kåñëa and the sages, but he welcomed them to his best capacity. He began to speak very highly of the Lord and the sages, and he and his wife washed the feet of each one of them. After this, he took the water and sprinkled it over all the members of his family, and although it appeared that the brähmaëa was very poor, he was at that time most fortunate. While Çrutadeva was welcoming Lord Kåñëa and His associates, he simply forgot himself in transcendental joy. After welcoming the Lord and His companions, according to his capacity he brought fruits, incense, scented water, scented clay, tulasé leaves, kuça straw and lotus flowers. They were not very costly items and could be secured very easily, but because they were offered with devotional love, Lord Kåñëa and His associates accepted them very gladly. The brähmaëa's wife cooked very simple foods like rice and dhal, and Lord Kåñëa and His followers were very pleased to accept them because they were offered in devotional love. When Lord Kåñëa and His associates were fed in this way, the brähmaëa Çrutadeva was thinking thus: "I am fallen into the deep, dark well of householder life and am the most unfortunate person. How has it become possible that Lord Kåñëa, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His associates, the great sages, whose very presence makes a place as sanctified as a pilgrimage site, have agreed to come to my place?" While the brähmaëa was thinking in this way, the guests finished their lunch and sat back very comfortably. At that time, the brähmaëa, Çrutadeva, and his wife, children and other relatives, appeared there to render service to the distinguished guests. While touching the lotus feet of Lord Kåñëa, the brähmaëa began to speak.
"My dear Lord," he said, "You are the Supreme Person, Puruñottama, situated transcendentally to the manifested and unmanifested material creation. The activities of this material world and of the conditioned souls have nothing to do with Your position. We can appreciate that it is not only today You have given me Your audience. You are associating with all the living entities as Paramätmä since the beginning of creation."
This statement of the brähmaëa is very instructive. It is a fact that the Supreme Lord Personality of Godhead in His Paramätmä feature entered the creation of this material world as Mahä-Viñëu, Garbhodakaçäyé Viñëu and Kñérodakaçäyé Viñëu, and in a very friendly attitude the Lord is sitting along with the conditioned soul in the body. Therefore, every living entity has the Lord with him from the very beginning, but due to his mistaken consciousness of life, the living entity cannot understand this. When his consciousness is, however, changed into Kåñëa consciousness, he can immediately understand how Kåñëa is trying to assist the conditioned souls to get out of the material entanglement.
Çrutadeva continued, "My dear Lord, You have entered this material world as if in a sleeping condition. A conditioned soul, while sleeping, creates false or temporary worlds in his mind; he becomes busy in many illusory activities--sometimes becoming a king, sometimes being murdered or sometimes going to an unknown city--and all these are simply temporary affairs. Similarly, Your Lordship, apparently also in a sleeping condition, enters this material world to create a temporary manifestation, not for Your personal necessities, but for the conditioned soul who wants to imitate Your Lordship as enjoyer. The conditioned soul's enjoyment in the material world is temporary and illusory. And yet the conditioned soul is by himself unable to create such a temporary situation for his illusory enjoyment. In order to fulfill his desires, although they are temporary and illusory, You enter in this temporary manifestation to help him. Thus, from the beginning of the conditioned soul's entering into the material world, You are his constant companion. When, therefore, the conditioned soul comes in contact with a pure devotee and takes to devotional service, beginning from the process of hearing Your transcendental pastimes, glorifying Your transcendental activities, worshiping Your eternal form in the temple, offering prayers to You and engaging in discussion to understand Your transcendental position, he then gradually becomes freed from the contamination of material existence. His heart becomes cleansed of all material dust, and thus gradually You become visible in the heart of the devotee. Although You are constantly with the conditioned soul, only when he becomes purified by devotional service do You become revealed to him. Others, who are bewildered by fruitive activities, either by Vedic injunction or customary dealings, and who do not take to devotional service, become captivated by the external happiness of the bodily concept of life. You are not revealed to such persons. Rather, You remain far, far away from them. But for one who, being engaged in Your devotional service, has purified his heart by constant chanting of Your holy name, You become very easily understood as his eternal constant companion.
"It is said that Your Lordship, sitting in the heart of a devotee, gives him direction by which he can very quickly come back to home, back to You. This direct dictation by You reveals Your existence within the heart of the devotee. Only a devotee can immediately appreciate Your existence within his heart, whereas for a person who has only a bodily conception of life and is engaged in sense gratification You always remain covered by the curtain of yogamäyä. Such a person cannot realize that You are very near, sitting within his heart. For a nondevotee, You are appreciated only as ultimate death. The difference is like the difference between a cat's carrying its kittens in its mouth and cat's carrying a rat in its mouth. In the mouth of the cat, the rat feels its death, whereas the kittens in the mouth of the cat feel motherly affection. Similarly, You are present to everyone, but the nondevotee feels You as ultimate cruel death, whereas for a devotee You are the supreme instructor and philosopher. The atheist, therefore, understands the presence of God as death, but the devotee understands the presence of God always within his heart, takes dictation from You and lives transcendentally, not being affected by the contamination of the material world.
"You are the supreme controller and superintendent of the material nature's activities. The atheistic class of men simply observe the activities of material nature, but cannot find You as the original background. A devotee, however, can immediately see Your hand in every movement of material nature. The curtain of yogamäyä cannot cover the eyes of the devotee of Your Lordship, but it can cover the eyes of the nondevotee. The nondevotee is unable to see You eye to eye, just as a person whose eyes are interrupted by the covering of a cloud cannot see the sun, although persons who are flying above the cloud can see the sunshine brilliantly, as it is. My dear Lord, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You. My dear self-effulgent Lord, I am Your eternal servitor. Therefore, kindly order me--what can I do for You? The conditioned soul feels the pangs of material contamination as threefold miseries as long as You are not visible to him. And as soon as You are visible by development of Kåñëa consciousness, all miseries of material existence simultaneously become vanquished."
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kåñëa, is naturally very much affectionately inclined to His devotees. When He heard Çrutadeva's prayers of pure devotion, He was very much pleased and immediately caught his hands and began to address him thus: "My dear Çrutadeva, all these great sages and saintly persons have been very kind to you by personally coming here to see you. You should consider this opportunity to be a great fortune for you. They are so kind that they are traveling with Me, and wherever they go they immediately make the whole atmosphere as pure as transcendence simply by the touch of the dust of their feet. People are accustomed to go to the temples of God. They also visit holy places of pilgrimage, and after prolonged association with such activities, for many days by touch and by worship, gradually they become purified. But the influence of great sages and saintly persons is so great that by seeing them one immediately becomes completely purified.
"Moreover, the very purifying potency of pilgrimages or worship of different demigods is also achieved by the grace of saintly persons. A pilgrimage site becomes a holy place because of the presence of the saintly persons there. My dear Çrutadeva, when a person is born as a brähmaëa, he immediately becomes the best of all human beings. And if such a brähmaëa, remaining self-satisfied, practices austerities, studies the Vedas and engages in My devotional service, as is the duty of the brähmaëa--or in other words, if a brähmaëa becomes a Vaiñëava--how wonderful is his greatness! My feature of four-handed Näräyaëa is not so pleasing or dear to Me as is a brähmaëa Vaiñëava. Brähmaëa means 'one well conversant with Vedic knowledge'; a brähmaëa is the insignia of perfect knowledge, and I am the full-fledged manifestation of all gods. The less intelligent class of men do not understand Me as the highest knowledge, nor do they understand the influence of the brähmaëa Vaiñëava. They are influenced by the three modes of material nature and thus dare to criticize Me and My pure devotees. A brähmaëa Vaiñëava, or a devotee already on the brahminical platform, can realize Me within his heart, and therefore he definitely concludes that the whole cosmic manifestation and its different features are effects of different energies of the Lord. Thus he has a clear conception of the whole material nature and the total material energy, and in every action such a devotee sees Me only, and nothing else.
"My dear Çrutadeva, you may therefore accept all these great saintly persons, brähmaëas and sages as My bona fide representatives. By worshiping them faithfully, you will be worshiping Me more diligently. I consider worship of My devotees to be better than direct worship of Me. If someone attempts to worship Me directly without worshiping My devotees, I do not accept such worship, even though it may be presented with great opulence."
In this way both the brähmaëa, Çrutadeva, and the King of Mithilä, under the direction of the Lord, worshiped both Kåñëa and His followers, the great sages and saintly brähmaëas, on an equal level of spiritual importance. Both brähmaëa and King ultimately achieved the supreme goal of being transferred to the spiritual world. The devotee does not know anyone except Lord Kåñëa, and Kåñëa is most affectionate to His devotee. Lord Kåñëa remained in Mithilä both at the house of the brähmaëa Çrutadeva and at the palace of King Bahuläçva. And after favoring them lavishly by His transcendental instructions, He went back to His capital city, Dvärakä.
The instruction we receive from this incident is that King Bahuläçva and Çrutadeva the brähmaëa were accepted by the Lord on the same level because both were pure devotees. This is the real qualification for being recognized by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Because it has become the fashion of this age to become falsely proud of having taken birth in the family of a kñatriya or of a brähmaëa, we see persons without any qualification other than birth claiming to be a brähmaëa or kñatriya or vaiçya. But as it is stated in the scriptures, kalau çüdra- sambhava: "In this age of Kali, everyone is a çüdra." This is because there is no performance of the purificatory processes known as saàskäras, which begin from the time of the mother's pregnancy and continue up to the point of the individual's death. No one can be classified as a member of a particular caste, especially of a higher caste--brähmaëa, kñatriya or vaiçya--simply by birthright. If one is not purified by the process of the seed-giving ceremony, or Garbhädhäna-saàskära, he is immediately classified amongst the çüdras, because only the çüdras do not undergo this purificatory process. Sex life without the purificatory process of Kåñëa consciousness is merely the seed-giving process of the çüdras or the animals. But Kåñëa consciousness is the highest perfection, by which everyone can come to the platform of a Vaiñëava. This includes having all the qualifications of a brähmaëa. The Vaiñëavas are trained to become freed from the four kinds of sinful activities--illicit sex, indulgence in intoxicants, gambling, and eating animal foodstuffs. No one can be on the brahminical platform without having these preliminary qualifications, and without becoming a qualified brähmaëa, one cannot become a pure devotee.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Second Volume, Thirty-first Chapter, of Kåñëa, "The Kidnapping of Subhadrä and Lord Kåñëa's Visiting Çrutadeva and Bahuläçva."