Canto 10: “The Summum Bonum”
King Pariksit said: My dear lord, you have elaborately described the
dynasties of both the moon-god and the sun-god, with the exalted and wonderful
character of their kings.
yados ca dharma-silasya
visnor viryani samsa nah
O best of munis, you have also described the descendants of Yadu, who were
very pious and strictly adherent to religious principles. Now, if you will,
kindly describe the wonderful, glorious activities of Lord Visnu, or Krsna, who
appeared in that Yadu dynasty with Baladeva, His plenary expansion.
avatirya yador vamse
krtavan yani visvatma
tani no vada vistarat
The Supersoul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, the cause of
the cosmic manifestation, appeared in the dynasty of Yadu. Please tell me
elaborately about His glorious activities and character, from the beginning to
the end of His life.
puman virajyeta vina pasughnat
Glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is performed in the
parampara system; that is, it is conveyed from spiritual master to disciple.
Such glorification is relished by those no longer interested in the false,
temporary glorification of this cosmic manifestation. Descriptions of the Lord
are the right medicine for the conditioned soul undergoing repeated birth and
death. Therefore, who will cease hearing such glorification of the Lord except a
butcher or one who is killing his own self?
pitamaha me samare ‘maranjayair
krtvataran vatsa-padam sma yat-plavah
drauny-astra-viplustam idam mad-angam
jugopa kuksim gata atta-cakro
matus ca me yah saranam gatayah
antar bahih purusa-kala-rupaih
prayacchato mrtyum utamrtam ca
maya-manusyasya vadasva vidvan
Taking the boat of Krsna’s lotus feet, my grandfather Arjuna and others
crossed the ocean of the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, in which such commanders as
Bhismadeva resembled great fish that could very easily have swallowed them. By
the mercy of Lord Krsna, my grandfathers crossed this ocean, which was very
difficult to cross, as easily as one steps over the hoofprint of a calf. Because
my mother surrendered unto Lord Krsna’s lotus feet, the Lord, Sudarsana-cakra in
hand, entered her womb and saved my body, the body of the last remaining
descendant of the Kurus and the Pandavas, which was almost destroyed by the
fiery weapon of Asvatthama. Lord Sri Krsna, appearing within and outside of all
materially embodied living beings by His own potency in the forms of eternal
time–that is, as Paramatma and as virat-rupa–gave liberation to everyone,
either as cruel death or as life. Kindly enlighten me by describing His
rohinyas tanayah prokto
ramah sankarsanas tvaya
kuto dehantaram vina
My dear Sukadeva Gosvami, you have already explained that Sankarsana, who
belongs to the second quadruple, appeared as the son of Rohini named Balarama.
If Balarama was not transferred from one body to another, how is it possible
that He was first in the womb of Devaki and then in the womb of Rohini? Kindly
explain this to me.
kasman mukundo bhagavan
pitur gehad vrajam gatah
kva vasam jnatibhih sardham
krtavan satvatam patih
Why did Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, leave the house of His
father, Vasudeva, and transfer Himself to the house of Nanda in Vrndavana? Where
did the Lord, the master of the Yadu dynasty, live with His relatives in
vraje vasan kim akaron
madhupuryam ca kesavah
bhrataram cavadhit kamsam
Lord Krsna lived both in Vrndavana and in Mathura. What did He do there? Why
did He kill Kamsa, His mother’s brother? Such killing is not at all sanctioned
in the sastras.
deham manusam asritya
kati varsani vrsnibhih
patnyah katy abhavan prabhoh
Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has no material body, yet He
appears as a human being. For how many years did He live with the descendants of
Vrsni? How many wives did He marry, and for how many years did He live in
etad anyac ca sarvam me
vaktum arhasi sarvajna
O great sage, who know everything about Krsna, please describe in detail all
the activities of which I have inquired and also those of which I have not, for
I have full faith and am very eager to hear of them.
naisatiduhsaha ksun mam
tyaktodam api badhate
Because of my vow on the verge of death, I have given up even drinking water,
yet because I am drinking the nectar of topics about Krsna, which is flowing
from the lotus mouth of Your Lordship, my hunger and thirst, which are extremely
difficult to bear, cannot hinder me.
evam nisamya bhrgu-nandana sadhu-vadam
vaiyasakih sa bhagavan atha visnu-ratam
pratyarcya krsna-caritam kali-kalmasa-ghnam
vyahartum arabhata bhagavata-pradhanah
Suta Gosvami said: O son of Bhrgu [Saunaka Rsi], after Sukadeva Gosvami, the
most respectable devotee, the son of Vyasadeva, heard the pious questions of
Maharaja Pariksit, he thanked the King with great respect. Then he began to
discourse on topics concerning Krsna, which are the remedy for all sufferings in
this age of Kali.
samyag vyavasita buddhis
yaj jata naisthiki ratih
Srila Sukadeva Gosvami said: O Your Majesty, best of all saintly kings,
because you are greatly attracted to topics of Vasudeva, it is certain that your
intelligence is firmly fixed in spiritual understanding, which is the only true
goal for humanity. Because that attraction is unceasing, it is certainly
purusams trin punati hi
vaktaram pracchakam srotrms
The Ganges, emanating from the toe of Lord Visnu, purifies the three worlds,
the upper, middle and lower planetary systems. Similarly, when one asks
questions about the pastimes and characteristics of Lord Vasudeva, Krsna, three
varieties of men are purified: the speaker or preacher, he who inquires, and the
people in general who listen.
brahmanam saranam yayau
Once when mother earth was overburdened by hundreds of thousands of military
phalanxes of various conceited demons dressed like kings, she approached Lord
Brahma for relief.
gaur bhutvasru-mukhi khinna
krandanti karunam vibhoh
Mother earth assumed the form of a cow. Very much distressed, with tears in
her eyes, she appeared before Lord Brahma and told him about her misfortune.
saha devais taya saha
Thereafter, having heard of the distress of mother earth, Lord Brahma, with
mother earth, Lord Siva and all the other demigods, approached the shore of the
ocean of milk.
tatra gatva jagannatham
After reaching the shore of the ocean of milk, the demigods worshiped the
Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Visnu, the master of the whole universe,
the supreme God of all gods, who provides for everyone and diminishes everyone’s
suffering. With great attention, they worshiped Lord Visnu, who lies on the
ocean of milk, by reciting the Vedic mantras known as the Purusa-sukta.
giram samadhau gagane samiritam
nisamya vedhas tridasan uvaca ha
gam paurusim me srnutamarah punar
vidhiyatam asu tathaiva ma ciram
While in trance, Lord Brahma heard the words of Lord Visnu vibrating in the
sky. Thus he told the demigods: O demigods, hear from me the order of
Ksirodakasayi Visnu, the Supreme Person, and execute it attentively without
puraiva pumsavadhrto dhara-jvaro
bhavadbhir amsair yadusupajanyatam
sa yavad urvya bharam isvaresvarah
sva-kala-saktya ksapayams cared bhuvi
Lord Brahma informed the demigods: Before we submitted our petition to the
Lord, He was already aware of the distress on earth. Consequently, for as long
as the Lord moves on earth to diminish its burden by His own potency in the form
of time, all of you demigods should appear through plenary portions as sons and
grandsons in the family of the Yadus.
bhagavan purusah parah
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, who has full potency, will
personally appear as the son of Vasudeva. Therefore all the wives of the
demigods should also appear in order to satisfy Him.
agrato bhavita devo
The foremost manifestation of Krsna is Sankarsana, who is known as Ananta. He
is the origin of all incarnations within this material world. Previous to the
appearance of Lord Krsna, this original Sankarsana will appear as Baladeva, just
to please the Supreme Lord Krsna in His transcendental pastimes.
visnor maya bhagavati
yaya sammohitam jagat
The potency of the Lord, known as visnu-maya, who is as good as the Supreme
Personality of Godhead, will also appear with Lord Krsna. This potency, acting
in different capacities, captivates all the worlds, both material and spiritual.
At the request of her master, she will appear with her different potencies in
order to execute the work of the Lord.
asvasya ca mahim girbhih
sva-dhama paramam yayau
Sukadeva Gosvami continued: After thus advising the demigods and pacifying
mother earth, the very powerful Lord Brahma, who is the master of all other
Prajapatis and is therefore known as Prajapati-pati, returned to his own abode,
mathuram avasan purim
mathuran churasenams ca
visayan bubhuje pura
Formerly, Surasena, the chief of the Yadu dynasty, had gone to live in the
city of Mathura. There he enjoyed the places known as Mathura and Surasena.
rajadhani tatah sabhut
mathura bhagavan yatra
nityam sannihito harih
Since that time, the city of Mathura had been the capital of all the kings of
the Yadu dynasty. The city and district of Mathura are very intimately connected
with Krsna, for Lord Krsna lives there eternally.
tasyam tu karhicic chaurir
devakya suryaya sardham
prayane ratham aruhat
Some time ago, Vasudeva, who belonged to the demigod family [or to the Sura
dynasty], married Devaki. After the marriage, he mounted his chariot to return
home with his newly married wife.
rasmin hayanam jagraha
raukmai ratha-satair vrtah
Kamsa, the son of King Ugrasena, in order to please his sister Devaki on the
occasion of her marriage, took charge of the reins of the horses and became the
chariot driver. He was surrounded by hundreds of golden chariots.
asvanam ayutam sardham
rathanam ca tri-sat-satam
dve sate samalankrte
duhitre devakah pradad
Devaki’s father, King Devaka, was very much affectionate to his daughter.
Therefore, while she and her husband were leaving home, he gave her a dowry of
four hundred elephants nicely decorated with golden garlands. He also gave ten
thousand horses, eighteen hundred chariots, and two hundred very beautiful young
maidservants, fully decorated with ornaments.
nedur dundubhayah samam
O beloved son, Maharaja Pariksit, when the bride and bridegroom were ready to
start, conchshells, bugles, drums and kettledrums all vibrated in concert for
their auspicious departure.
pathi pragrahinam kamsam
asyas tvam astamo garbho
hanta yam vahase ‘budha
While Kamsa, controlling the reins of the horses, was driving the chariot
along the way, an unembodied voice addressed him, “You foolish rascal, the
eighth child of the woman you are carrying will kill you!”
ity uktah sa khalah papo
bhaginim hantum arabdham
khadga-panih kace ‘grahit
Kamsa was a condemned personality in the Bhoja dynasty because he was envious
and sinful. Therefore, upon hearing this omen from the sky, he caught hold of
his sister’s hair with his left hand and took up his sword with his right hand
to sever her head from her body.
Wanting to pacify Kamsa, who was so cruel and envious that he was shamelessly
ready to kill his sister, the great soul Vasudeva, who was to be the father of
Krsna, spoke to him in the following words.
sa katham bhaginim hanyat
Vasudeva said: My dear brother-in-law Kamsa, you are the pride of your
family, the Bhoja dynasty, and great heroes praise your qualities. How could
such a qualified person as you kill a woman, your own sister, especially on the
occasion of her marriage?
mrtyur janmavatam vira
dehena saha jayate
adya vabda-satante va
mrtyur vai praninam dhruvah
O great hero, one who takes birth is sure to die, for death is born with the
body. One may die today or after hundreds of years, but death is sure for every
dehe pancatvam apanne
dehi karmanugo ‘vasah
praktanam tyajate vapuh
When the present body turns to dust and is again reduced to five elements–
earth, water, fire, air and ether–the proprietor of the body, the living being,
automatically receives another body of material elements according to his
fruitive activities. When the next body is obtained, he gives up the present
vrajams tisthan padaikena
dehi karma-gatim gatah
Just as a person traveling on the road rests one foot on the ground and then
lifts the other, or as a worm on a vegetable transfers itself to one leaf and
then gives up the previous one, the conditioned soul takes shelter of another
body and then gives up the one he had before.
svapne yatha pasyati deham idrsam
prapadyate tat kim api hy apasmrtih
Having experienced a situation by seeing or hearing about it, one
contemplates and speculates about that situation, and thus one surrenders to it,
not considering his present body. Similarly, by mental adjustments one dreams at
night of living under different circumstances, in different bodies, and forgets
his actual position. Under this same process, one gives up his present body and
accepts another [tatha dehantara-praptih].
yato yato dhavati daiva-coditam
mano vikaratmakam apa pancasu
gunesu maya-rocitesu dehy asau
prapadyamanah saha tena jayate
At the time of death, according to the thinking, feeling and willing of the
mind, which is involved in fruitive activities, one receives a particular body.
In other words, the body develops according to the activities of the mind.
Changes of body are due to the flickering of the mind, for otherwise the soul
could remain in its original, spiritual body.
jyotir yathaivodaka-parthivesv adah
evam sva-maya-racitesv asau puman
gunesu raganugato vimuhyati
When the luminaries in the sky, such as the moon, the sun and the stars, are
reflected in liquids like oil or water, they appear to be of different shapes–
sometimes round, sometimes long, and so on–because of the movements of the
wind. Similarly, when the living entity, the soul, is absorbed in materialistic
thoughts, he accepts various manifestations as his own identity because of
ignorance. In other words, one is bewildered by mental concoctions because of
agitation from the material modes of nature.
tasman na kasyacid droham
acaret sa tatha-vidhah
atmanah ksemam anvicchan
drogdhur vai parato bhayam
Therefore, since envious, impious activities cause a body in which one
suffers in the next life, why should one act impiously? Considering one’s
welfare, one should not envy anyone, for an envious person must always fear harm
from his enemies, either in this life or in the next.
esa tavanuja bala
hantum narhasi kalyanim
imam tvam dina-vatsalah
As your younger sister, this poor girl Devaki is like your own daughter and
deserves to be affectionately maintained. You are merciful, and therefore you
should not kill her. Indeed, she deserves your affection.
evam sa samabhir bhedair
bodhyamano ‘pi darunah
na nyavartata kauravya
Sukadeva Gosvami continued: O best of the Kuru dynasty, Kamsa was fiercely
cruel and was actually a follower of the Raksasas. Therefore he could be neither
pacified nor terrified by the good instructions given by Vasudeva. He did not
care about the results of sinful activities, either in this life or in the next.
nirbandham tasya tam jnatva
praptam kalam prativyodhum
When Vasudeva saw that Kamsa was determined to kill his sister Devaki, he
thought to himself very deeply. Considering the imminent danger of death, he
thought of another plan to stop Kamsa.
yady asau na nivarteta
naparadho ‘sti dehinah
As long as he has intelligence and bodily strength, an intelligent person
must try to avoid death. This is the duty of every embodied person. But if death
cannot be avoided in spite of one’s endeavors, a person facing death commits no
pradaya mrtyave putran
mocaye krpanam imam
suta me yadi jayeran
mrtyur va na mriyeta cet
viparyayo va kim na syad
gatir dhatur duratyaya
nivrttah punar apatet
Vasudeva considered: By delivering all my sons to Kamsa, who is death
personified, I shall save the life of Devaki. Perhaps Kamsa will die before my
sons take birth, or, since he is already destined to die at the hands of my son,
one of my sons may kill him. For the time being, let me promise to hand over my
sons so that Kamsa will give up this immediate threat, and if in due course of
time Kamsa dies, I shall have nothing to fear.
agner yatha daru-viyoga-yogayor
adrstato ‘nyan na nimittam asti
evam hi jantor api durvibhavyah
When a fire, for some unseen reason, leaps over one piece of wood and sets
fire to the next, the reason is destiny. Similarly, when a living being accepts
one kind of body and leaves aside another, there is no other reason than unseen
evam vimrsya tam papam
pujayam asa vai saurir
After thus considering the matter as far as his knowledge would allow,
Vasudeva submitted his proposal to the sinful Kamsa with great respect.
vihasann idam abravit
Vasudeva’s mind was full of anxiety because his wife was facing danger, but
in order to please the cruel, shameless and sinful Kamsa, he externally smiled
and spoke to him as follows.
na hy asyas te bhayam saumya
yad vai sahasarira-vak
putran samarpayisye ‘sya
yatas te bhayam utthitam
Vasudeva said: O best of the sober, you have nothing to fear from your sister
Devaki because of what you have heard from the unseen omen. The cause of death
will be her sons. Therefore I promise that when she gives birth to the sons from
whom your fear has arisen, I shall deliver them all unto your hands.
svasur vadhan nivavrte
vasudevo ‘pi tam pritah
prasasya pravisad grham
Srila Sukadeva Gosvami continued: Kamsa agreed to the logical arguments of
Vasudeva, and, having full faith in Vasudeva’s words, he refrained from killing
his sister. Vasudeva, being pleased with Kamsa, pacified him further and entered
his own house.
atha kala upavrtte
putran prasusuve castau
Each year thereafter, in due course of time, Devaki, the mother of God and
all the demigods, gave birth to a child. Thus she bore eight sons, one after
another, and a daughter named Subhadra.
arpayam asa krcchrena
so ‘nrtad ativihvalah
Vasudeva was very much disturbed by fear of becoming a liar by breaking his
promise. Thus with great pain he delivered his first-born son, named Kirtiman,
into the hands of Kamsa.
kim duhsaham nu sadhunam
vidusam kim apeksitam
kim akaryam kadaryanam
dustyajam kim dhrtatmanam
What is painful for saintly persons who strictly adhere to the truth? How
could there not be independence for pure devotees who know the Supreme Lord as
the substance? What deeds are forbidden for persons of the lowest character? And
what cannot be given up for the sake of Lord Krsna by those who have fully
surrendered at His lotus feet?
drstva samatvam tac chaureh
satye caiva vyavasthitim
kamsas tusta-mana rajan
prahasann idam abravit
My dear King Pariksit, when Kamsa saw that Vasudeva, being situated in
truthfulness, was completely equipoised in giving him the child, he was very
happy. Therefore, with a smiling face, he spoke as follows.
pratiyatu kumaro ‘yam
na hy asmad asti me bhayam
astamad yuvayor garbhan
mrtyur me vihitah kila
O Vasudeva, you may take back your child and go home. I have no fear of your
first child. It is the eighth child of you and Devaki I am concerned with
because that is the child by whom I am destined to be killed.
tatheti sutam adaya
Vasudeva agreed and took his child back home, but because Kamsa had no
character and no self-control, Vasudeva knew that he could not rely on Kamsa’s
nandadya ye vraje gopa
yas camisam ca yositah
sarve vai devata-praya
ubhayor api bharata
ye ca kamsam anuvratah
The inhabitants of Vrndavana, headed by Nanda Maharaja and including his
associate cowherd men and their wives, were none but denizens of the heavenly
planets, O Maharaja Pariksit, best of the descendants of Bharata, and so too
were the descendants of the Vrsni dynasty, headed by Vasudeva, and Devaki and
the other women of the dynasty of Yadu. The friends, relatives and well-wishers
of both Nanda Maharaja and Vasudeva and even those who externally appeared to be
followers of Kamsa were all demigods.
etat kamsaya bhagavan
daityanam ca vadhodyamam
Once the great saint Narada approached Kamsa and informed him of how the
demoniac persons who were a great burden on the earth were going to be killed.
Thus Kamsa was placed into great fear and doubt.
rser vinirgame kamso
yadun matva suran iti
visnum ca sva-vadham prati
devakim vasudevam ca
nigrhya nigadair grhe
jatam jatam ahan putram
After the departure of the great saint Narada, Kamsa thought that all the
members of the Yadu dynasty were demigods and that any of the children born from
the womb of Devaki might be Visnu. Fearing his death, Kamsa arrested Vasudeva
and Devaki and chained them with iron shackles. Suspecting each of the children
to be Visnu, Kamsa killed them one after another because of the prophecy that
Visnu would kill him.
mataram pitaram bhratrn
sarvams ca suhrdas tatha
ghnanti hy asutrpo lubdha
rajanah prayaso bhuvi
Kings greedy for sense gratification on this earth almost always kill their
enemies indiscriminately. To satisfy their own whims, they may kill anyone, even
their mothers, fathers, brothers or friends.
atmanam iha sanjatam
janan prag visnuna hatam
yadubhih sa vyarudhyata
In his previous birth, Kamsa had been a great demon named Kalanemi and been
killed by Visnu. Upon learning this information from Narada, Kamsa became
envious of everyone connected with the Yadu dynasty.
ugrasenam ca pitaram
svayam nigrhya bubhuje
Kamsa, the most powerful son of Ugrasena, even imprisoned his own father, the
King of the Yadu, Bhoja and Andhaka dynasties, and personally ruled the states
known as Surasena.