Srimad- Bhagavatam, Canto 1: Creation: Chapter 8: Prayers by Queen Kunti and Pariksit Saved
This lecture is based on the verses from 18 to 43 of Canto 1, Chapter 8, prayers by Queen Kunti and Pariksit saved.
Women are very much honored in our Vedic culture. According to our scriptures there are 7 mothers. Birth mother, the wife of the spiritual master, the wife of a Brahmana, the wife of a king, a cow, a nurse and mother earth. A mother is an embodiment of virtue, sacrifices, a true well-wisher, giver of Knowledge. Like that way the qualities of a mother are endless. One of the mothers we can talk about from the scriptures is Queen Kunti.
Kunti Devi was a Queen, mother of the Pandavas, wife of a Great king Pandu, sister of Krishna’s father Vasudeva but within her heart she was a simple, chaste women who understood and taught us through her prayers to Krishna, that all our designations and external characteristics are less important, but what matters is how we devote ourselves to Lord Krishna. This shows that Queen Kunti Devi was situated on the highest platform of devotional service.
During the time of hardships, trials and illness Srila Prabupada meditated upon the heart-rending prayers of Queen Kunti glorifying Lord Krishna. In the early days of the movement, once Srila Prabupada was sick and that time he had only few handfuls of disciples who was so new that they did not know how to serve a Guru or the Parampara system. So, one of disciples asked Srila Prabupada what he can do for him so Srila Prabupada said that he wanted a newly completed painting of Sri Nrsimha Deva to be placed before him. Secondly, he wanted all his disciples to chant the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra and Nrsimha Mantra and third which surprised his disciples was when he asked them to read the prayers of Queen Kunti from Srimad Bhagavatham. Actually, Srila Prabhupad’s disciples did not know how to read those verses properly. Srila Prabupada had given multiple lectures on Queen Kunti’s prayers. So, we can see here that her prayers are recorded, recited, chanted and sung not only by Srila Prabupada but also by sages for thousands of years.
Duryodhana had been tormenting Kunti Devi and her sons, the Pandavas for years together. Once Bhima was administered poison in a cake, once they were put into the house made of shellac and set afire, and once Draupadi was dragged out, and attempts were made to insult her by stripping her naked in the vicious assembly of the Kuru’s. The Lord saved Draupadi by supplying an immeasurable length of cloth, and Duryodhana’s party failed to see her naked. Similarly, when they were exiled in the forest, Bhīma had to fight with the man-eater demon Hiḍimba Rakshasa. So, it was not finished there. After all these tribulations, there was the great Battle of Kurukshetra, and Arjuna had to meet such great generals as Droṇa, Bhīṣma and Karṇa, all powerful fighters. And at last, even when everything was done away with, there was the brahmāstra released by the son of Droṇācārya to kill the child within the womb of Uttara, the only surviving descendant of the Kuru’s, Maharaja Parīkṣit. Lord Krishna protected them from all calamities because the Pandavas was completely devoted to Krsna. Kṛṣṇa endows more favor to devotees who are in greater dangers. Sometimes He puts His pure devotees in such dangers because in that condition of helplessness the devotee becomes more attached to the Lord. The more the attachment is there for the Lord, the more success is there for the devotee. That is the lesson to be learned from Queen Kunti’s sufferings.
Queen Kunti was aware that Sri Krishna was the Supreme Personality of God head, although he was playing a part of her Nephew. She was not illusioned that Krishna is just her Nephew because she was such an Enlighted lady, she can never commit a mistake. She addresses Krishna as Original Purusha, which is beyond the material cosmos. She knew that we all are part and parcel of Krishna and Krishna is the Parmeshwar, he was present before her eyes and he was present within her heart and within everyone else and same time he protected Uttara’s baby too. This is very difficult for a common man to understand when Krishna is present before your eyes and how can he be present within everybody. The Lord had performed many wonderful activities which are humanly impossible. The entire tenth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam is filled with Lord’s past times like killing the Pūtanā witch, lifting the Govardhan Hill, just as a boy picks up a frog’s umbrella etc. In the Bhagavad Gita the Lord affirms that less intelligent persons mistake Him to be an ordinary man and hence deride Him. This is due to their poor fund of knowledge and partially due to their stubborn obstinacy, which results from various misdeeds in the past and present. The same is confirmed herein by Queen Kunti. In Bhagavad Gita chapter 15, verse 15 Krishna says that I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from me come remembrances, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas, I am to be known. Indeed, I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas. Krishna is invincible to our material eyes because we are controlled by Maya or illusion and the only way to overcome Maya is to focus on Krishna.
Queen Kunti specifically adores the incarnation or descent of Lord Kṛṣṇa above all other incarnations because in this particular incarnation he is more approachable. In the Rāma incarnation He remained a king’s son from His very childhood, but in the incarnation of Kṛṣṇa, although He was the son of a king, he at once left the shelter of his real father and mother (King Vasudeva and Queen Devaki) just after His appearance and went to the lap of Yaśodāmāyī to play the part of an ordinary cowherd boy in the blessed Vrajabhūmi, which is very sanctified because of His childhood pastimes. Therefore, Lord Kṛṣṇa is more merciful than Lord Rāma. He was undoubtedly very kind to Kunti’s brother Vasudeva and family. Had He not become the son of Vasudeva and Devaki, Queen Kunti could not claim Him to be her nephew and thus address Kṛṣṇa in parental affection. But Nanda and Yaśodā are more fortunate because they could relish the Lord’s childhood pastimes, which are more attractive than all other pastimes exhibited at Vrajabhūmi, which are replicas of His eternal affairs in the original Kṛṣṇaloka. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore confirmed that no one is as fortunate as the residents of Vrajabhūmi, and specifically the cowherd girls, who dedicated their everything for the satisfaction of the Lord. His pastimes with Nanda and Yaśodā and His pastimes with the cowherd men and especially with the cowherd boys and the cows have caused Him to be known as Govinda. Lord Kṛṣṇa as Govinda is more inclined to the Brahmanas and the cows, indicating thereby that human prosperity depends more on these two items, namely Brahminical culture and cow protection.
Queen Kunti adores the past times of Lord Krishna with Mother Yasoda. Seeing the rope in the hands of mother Yaśodā, the Lord bowed down his head and began to weep just like a child, and tears rolled down His cheeks, washing off the black ointment smeared on his beautiful eyes. He is feared often by fear personified, yet He is afraid of His mother, who wanted to punish Him just in an ordinary manner. Kunti Devi was conscious of the exalted position of Kṛṣṇa, whereas Yaśodā was not. Mother Yaśodā got the Lord as her child, and the Lord made her forget altogether that her child was the Lord Himself. If mother Yaśodā had been conscious of the exalted position of the Lord, she would certainly have hesitated to punish the Lord. But she was made to forget this situation because the Lord wanted to make a complete gesture of childishness before the affectionate Yaśodā. This exchange of love between the mother and the son was performed in a natural way, and Kunti, remembering the scene, was bewildered, and she could do nothing but praise the transcendental maternal love.
Once the battle of Kurukshetra was won, Yudhishthira was placed on the throne, Ashvamedha Yagna was conducted and Krishna was getting ready to leave to Dwarka. Queen Kunti became overwhelmed. She felt separation from Krishna is like a thunder bolt and offers prayers to the Lord not to thank him for saving them from all their sufferings and calamities in the past but praying for two things
- The calamities should happen again and again so that she could see the Lord face to face, for seeing the Lord means there will no longer repeated births and deaths.
- To sever the tie of affection for her Kinsmen, her son’s Pandavas and the Vrsnis. Because Queen Kunti fears that she might forget the Lord, since all their problems got solved now. So, she prays for more suffering. She says that how the Ganges river forever flows to the sea without hindrance, let my attraction constantly drawn unto you without being diverted to anyone else. This is the example of complete Surrender. A pure devotee cuts off the limited ties of affection for his family and widens his activities of devotional services.
But this is quite unnatural with the people of this material world. They never pray for calamities or distress to fall upon them but always pray to God to remove their distress. In distress they remember the Lord and, in their happiness, forget the Lord. They always get bewildered by the dualities of life.
Another example of complete surrender is from Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna did not want to fight the battle of Kurukshetra by killing his relatives, his Guru’s and his grandfather due to his attachments to his family members but when Krishna explained to him the message of Bhagavad Gita Arjuna decides to fight for the pleasure of Krishna, and because he did this act according to the instruction of Krishna he became the famous devotee of the Lord. It is said in scriptures Arjun attained spiritual perfection by devotional service to Krishna in the form of friendship. So, the fighting was there, friendship was there, Arjun was there, Krishna was there, but Arjun became a different person due to devotional service.
So, the Major takeaways from these verses are:
- In this material world we will have affections and attachments to our family, our friends and relatives etc. We cannot remove this affection completely. Scriptures say to cut out the tie of affection doesn’t mean complete annihilation of affection. It is not possible. A living being always needs the affection of others, otherwise life will be like a robot without any affection or emotion. The symptoms of life like anger, affection, desire, anchoring, feeling of attraction cannot be removed completely but it can be channelized to the right object, that is devotional service to the Lord so that service become unalloyed and the reciprocation from Krishna will be higher.
- We are born in this material world because we have to experience our past Karma. When we look back at our life, we can see that some moments are happy, some movement are troublesome, some in deep sorrow. So how to remain focused in the path of Krishna consciousness.We should free from the lamentations of the past and fear for our future and live in the Present movement because “Present” is a gift. Like how mother Ganges faces lots of obstacles on her way to the ocean, which is her ultimate destination we should not be distracted by the calamities of our life, but we have to stay focused on Krishna with undivided attention like that way perfection can be attained.
- This material world is certified by the Lord in the Bhagavad Gita as a dangerous place full of calamities. Less intelligent persons prepare plans for the future, adjust to those calamities without knowing that the nature of this place is itself full of calamities. They have no information of the abode of the Lord, which is full of bliss and without trace of calamity. The duty of a person therefore, is to be undisturbed by worldly calamities, which are sure to happen in all circumstances. Suffering all sorts of unavoidable misfortunes, one should make progress in spiritual realization because that is the mission of human life.
- The tie of affection to our family, is due to Maya or illusion of material energy. Relations of the soul, established in relation with the Supreme Soul, are factual relations. When Kuntīdevī wanted to cut off the family relation, she meant to cut off the relation of the skin. The skin relation is the cause of material bondage, but the relation of the soul is the cause of freedom. Seeing in the darkness is not seeing. But seeing by the light of the sun means to see the sun and everything else which was unseen in the darkness. That is the way of devotional service.
- Lord Krishna is also called as “Hari” one who takes away anything and everything. Sometimes in our life we will get what we desire but sometime we don’t get it but we should not be disappointed because of this. Because Krishna has more intelligence and he is master planner, he knows what is best for us. For example) Srila Prabupada business was going on well and one time everything got collapsed because there was bigger purpose for him to achieve something. Coming to the West and teaching the Krishna conscious philosophy and thereby saving millions of fallen souls. That is why all our Acharya’s pray to the Lord that in happiness and distress in pleasure and pain I only have you as my Lord Krishna. So always put Krishna in center of all our activities not anyone else.
- We believe that we come empty handed and leave empty handed but that is not always true. We come with our Bhagya or good fortune, that is why we see some are born in wealthy and well to do families, good countries, and have all material opulence’s etc. but when we leave this world we will leave with our Karma in our hand. So, it is very important how we utilize our time: is it to gain material benefits or to attain spiritual benefits. We should understand that the “Eternal time “the Paramatma, situated in our heart is our constant companion and witness to all our actions: good/ bad, about our past, present and future, and thus resultant reactions are destined by Him. So, we have to channelize our thoughts, our actions in a right way, in the service of the Lord so at the time of death by his mercy we will be able to remember the Lord and save ourselves from the cycles of birth and death.
- Always live in complete surrender by the will of the Lord, never deviate and be grateful to every situation in our life
- Be obedient to Guru and Krishna, have firm faith and trust in the instructions of Guru, because Krishna uses a Guru as a medium to teach us. So, a Guru’s words are actually Krishna’s words, respect all Vaishnavas and follow all the etiquettes.
- Love your family, friends and relatives only in relationship with Krishna. If they are going to be barriers in the path of our Krishna consciousness then that love is illusion or will cause bondage. But the same love can be a strength if all our relations are diverted to Krishna.
- The four principles of material advancement, namely (1) high parentage, (2) good wealth, (3) high education and (4) attractive beauty, are disqualifications for progress on the path of spiritual advancement so we should not focus much on these things instead decrease the degree of material intoxication which leads one to be more illusioned about the aim of life and entangles the living beings in the bondage of a material body followed by all sorts of material miseries.
- The Lord, however, out of His causeless mercy, appears before the suffering soul and renovates the principles of devotional service comprised of hearing, chanting, remembering, serving, worshiping, praying, cooperating and surrendering unto Him. Contact with the Lord by any one of the nine devotional services is always a forward step on the path going back to Godhead. This particular type of mercy is bestowed upon the living being by the Lord in the form of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
- The Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa cannot be seen by our present conditional vision. In order to see Him, one has to change his present vision by developing a different condition of life full of spontaneous love of Godhead
- Lord appears for the welfare of all people of the world and to vanquish the demons. When the Lord saw that there was no time for the Pāṇḍavas to counteract the brahmāstra of Aśvatthāmā, He took up His weapon even at the risk of breaking His own vow. Although the Battle of Kurukṣetra was almost finished, still, according to His vow, He should not have taken up His own weapon. But the emergency was more important than the vow. He is better known as the bhakta-vatsala, or the lover of His devotee, and thus He preferred to continue as bhakta-vatsala than to be a worldly moralist who never breaks his solemn vow.
- The Lord is bound by the love of his pure devotees not by their material possessions. Example Mother Yasoda binding Krishna on a wooden mortar in Damodara Lila pastimes
- In this age of kali congregation chanting and association with devotees is more powerful to attain the love of God head
- During chanting if the mind wanders, bring it under our control through resilient practice. When we focus on our chanting sincerely all our anarthas and misgiving goes away and our heart will be cleansed
- Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender to Krishna, he will surely deliver us from all sinful reaction, fear and anxieties of our life
- Devotees of the Lord do not care for any material benefits, they always like to mediate upon the Lord at all times and love the Lord unconditionally. They are so compassionate, they are even willing to take risk even at the cost of their life, to assist in God’s mission.