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SB 5.7: The Activities of King Bharata
In this chapter, the activities of King Bharata Mahārāja, the emperor of the whole world, are described. Bharata Mahārāja performed various ritualistic ceremonies (Vedic yajñas) and satisfied the Supreme Lord by his different modes of worship. In due course of time, he left home and resided in Hardwar and passed his days in devotional activities. Being ordered by his father, Lord Ṛṣabhadeva, Bharata Mahārāja married Pañcajanī, the daughter of Viśvarūpa. After this, he ruled the whole world peacefully. Formerly this planet was known as Ajanābha, and after the reign of Bharata Mahārāja it became known as Bhārata-varṣa. Bharata Mahārāja begot five sons in the womb of Pañcajanī, and he named the sons Sumati, Rāṣṭrabhṛta, Sudarśana, Āvaraṇa and Dhūmraketu. Bharata Mahārāja was very rigid in executing religious principles and following in the footsteps of his father. He therefore ruled the citizens very successfully. Because he performed various yajñas to satisfy the Supreme Lord, he was personally very satisfied. Being of undisturbed mind, he increased his devotional activities unto Lord Vāsudeva. Bharata Mahārāja was competent in understanding the principles of saintly persons like Nārada, and he followed in the footsteps of the sages. He also kept Lord Vāsudeva constantly within his heart. After finishing his kingly duties, he divided his kingdom among his five sons. He then left home and went to the place of Pulaha known as Pulahāśrama. There he ate forest vegetables and fruits, and worshiped Lord Vāsudeva with everything available. Thus he increased his devotion toward Vāsudeva, and he automatically began to realize further his transcendental, blissful life. Due to his highly advanced spiritual position, there were sometimes visible in his body the aṣṭa-sāttvika transformations, such as ecstatic crying and bodily trembling, which are symptoms of love of Godhead. It is understood that Mahārāja Bharata worshiped the Supreme Lord with the mantras mentioned in the Ṛg Veda, generally known as Gāyatrī mantra, which aim at the Supreme Nārāyaṇa situated within the sun.
This planet was formerly known as Ajanābha because of the reign of King Nābhi. After Bharata Mahārāja ruled the planet, it became celebrated as Bhārata-varṣa.
It is most important that the chief executive rule the citizens by keeping them fully engaged in their respective occupational duties. Some of the citizens were brāhmaṇas, some were kṣatriyas, and some were vaiśyas and śūdras. It is the duty of the government to see that the citizens act according to these material divisions for their spiritual advancement. No one should remain unemployed or unoccupied in any way. One must work as a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra on the material path, and on the spiritual path, everyone should act as a brahmacārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha or sannyāsī. Although formerly the government was a monarchy, all the kings were very affectionate toward the citizens, and they strictly kept them engaged in their respective duties. Therefore society was very smoothly conducted.
Animals like horses and cows were offered in sacrifice to test the proper execution of the sacrifice. Otherwise, there was no purpose in killing the animal. Actually the animal was offered in the sacrificial fire to get a rejuvenated life. Generally an old animal was sacrificed in the fire, and it would come out again in a youthful body. Some of the rituals however, did not require animal sacrifice. In the present age, animal sacrifices are forbidden. As stated by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu:
kalau pañca vivarjayet
“In this Age of Kali, five acts are forbidden: the offering of a horse in sacrifice, the offering of a cow in sacrifice, the acceptance of the order of sannyāsa, the offering of oblations of flesh to the forefathers, and a man’s begetting children in his brother’s wife.” (Cc. Ādi 17.164) Such sacrifices are impossible in this age due to the scarcity of expert brāhmaṇas or ṛtvijaḥ who are able to take the responsibility. In the absence of these, the saṅkīrtana-yajña is recommended. Yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyair yajanti hi sumedhasaḥ (Bhāg. 11.5.32). After all, sacrifices are executed to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Yajñārtha-karma: such activities should be carried out for the Supreme Lord’s pleasure. In this Age of Kali, the Supreme Lord in His incarnation of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu should be worshiped with His associates by performance of saṅkīrtana-yajña, the congregational chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. This process is accepted by intelligent men. Yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyair yajanti hi sumedhasaḥ. The word sumedhasaḥ refers to intelligent men who possess very good brain substance.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead says that as long as one does not develop the pure devotional service of śravaṇaṁ kīrtanam, hearing and chanting, one must carry out his prescribed duties. Since Bharata Mahārāja was a great devotee, one may ask why he performed so many sacrifices that are actually meant for karmīs. The fact is that he was simply following the orders of Vāsudeva. As Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā, sarva dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me.” (Bg. 18.66) Whatever we do, we should constantly remember Vāsudeva. People are generally addicted to offering obeisances to various demigods, but Bharata Mahārāja simply wanted to please Lord Vāsudeva. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā: bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ sarva-loka-maheśvaram (Bg. 5.29). A yajña may be carried out to satisfy a particular demigod, but when the yajña is offered to the yajña-puruṣa, Nārāyaṇa, the demigods are satisfied. The purpose of performing different yajñas is to satisfy the Supreme Lord. One may perform them in the name of different demigods or directly. If we directly offer oblations to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the demigods are automatically satisfied. If we water the root of a tree, the branches, twigs, fruits and flowers are automatically satisfied. When one offers sacrifices to different demigods, one should remember that the demigods are simply parts of the body of the Supreme. If we worship the hand of a person, we intend to satisfy the person himself. If we massage a person’s legs, we do not really serve the legs but the person who possesses the legs. All the demigods are different parts of the Lord, and if we offer service to them, we actually serve the Lord Himself. Demigod worship is mentioned in Brahma-saṁhitā, but actually the ślokas advocate worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda. For instance, worship of the goddess Durgā is mentioned this way in Brahma-saṁhitā (5.44):
chāyeva yasya bhuvanāni bibharti durgā
icchānurūpam api yasya ca ceṣṭate sā
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
Following the orders of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the goddess Durgā creates, maintains and annihilates. Śrī Kṛṣṇa also confirms this statement in Bhagavad-gītā. Mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate sa-carācaram: “This material nature is working under My direction, O son of Kuntī, and it is producing all moving and unmoving beings.” (Bg. 9.10)
We should worship the demigods in that spirit. Because the goddess Durgā satisfies Kṛṣṇa, we should therefore offer respects to Goddess Durgā. Because Lord Śiva is nothing but Kṛṣṇa’s functional body, we should therefore offer respects to Lord Śiva. Similarly, we should offer respects to Brahmā, Agni and Sūrya. There are many offerings to different demigods, and one should always remember that these offerings are usually meant to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Bharata Mahārāja did not aspire to receive some benediction from demigods. His aim was to please the Supreme Lord. In the Mahābhārata, among the thousand names of Viṣṇu, it is said yajña-bhug yajña-kṛd yajñaḥ. The enjoyer of yajña, the performer of yajña and yajña itself are the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord is the performer of everything, but out of ignorance the living entity thinks that he is the actor. As long as we think we are the actors, we bring about karma-bandha (bondage to activity). If we act for yajña, for Kṛṣṇa, there is no karma-bandha. Yajñārthāt karmaṇo ’nyatra loko ’yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ: “Work done as a sacrifice for Viṣṇu has to be performed; otherwise work binds one to this material world.” (Bg. 3.9)
Following the instructions of Bharata Mahārāja, we should act not for our personal satisfaction but for the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In Bhagavad-gītā (17.28) it is also stated:
aśraddhayā hutaṁ dattaṁ
tapas taptaṁ kṛtaṁ ca yat
asad ity ucyate pārtha
na ca tat pretya no iha
Sacrifices, austerities and charities performed without faith in the Supreme Personality of Godhead are nonpermanent. Regardless of whatever rituals are performed, they are called asat, nonpermanent. They are therefore useless both in this life and the next.
Kings like Mahārāja Ambarīṣa and many other rājarṣis who were pure devotees of the Lord simply passed their time in the service of the Supreme Lord. When a pure devotee executes some service through the agency of another person, he should not be criticized, for his activities are meant for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. A devotee may have a priest perform some karma-kāṇḍa, and the priest may not be a pure Vaiṣṇava, but because the devotee wants to please the Supreme Lord, he should not be criticized. The word apūrva is very significant. The resultant actions of karma are called apūrva. When we act piously or impiously, immediate results do not ensue. We therefore wait for the results, which are called apūrva. The results are manifest in the future. Even the smārtas accept this apūrva. Pure devotees simply act for the pleasure of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; therefore the results of their activities are spiritual, or permanent. They are not like those of the karmīs, which are nonpermanent. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (4.23):
“The work of a man who is unattached to the modes of material nature and who is fully situated in transcendental knowledge merges entirely into transcendence.”
A devotee is always free from material contamination. He is fully situated in knowledge, and therefore his sacrifices are intended for the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Lord Vāsudeva, or Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the son of Vasudeva, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is manifest within the hearts of yogīs in His Paramātmā feature, and He is worshiped as impersonal Brahman by jñānīs. The Paramātmā feature is described in the śāstras as having four hands, holding disc, conchshell, lotus flower and club. As confirmed in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.2.8):
prādeśa-mātraṁ puruṣaṁ vasantam
gadā-dharaṁ dhāraṇayā smaranti
Paramātmā is situated in the hearts of all living beings. He has four hands, which hold four symbolic weapons. All devotees who think of the Paramātmā within the heart worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the temple Deity. They also understand the impersonal features of the Lord and His bodily rays, the Brahman effulgence.
According to the law of dāya-bhāk, when one inherits an estate he must hand it over to the next generation. Bharata Mahārāja did this properly. First he enjoyed his paternal property for one thousand times ten thousand years. At the time of his retirement, he divided this property among his sons and left for Pulaha-āśrama.
The Lord always exists in different transcendental forms. As stated in Brahma-saṁhitā (5.39):
rāmādi-mūrtiṣu kalā-niyamena tiṣṭhan
nānāvatāram akarod bhuvaneṣu kintu
kṛṣṇaḥ svayaṁ samabhavat paramaḥ pumān yo
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
The Lord is situated as Himself, Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He is accompanied by His expansions like Lord Rāma, Baladeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Nārāyaṇa, Mahā-Viṣṇu and so forth. The devotees worship all these forms according to their liking, and the Lord, out of His affection, presents Himself as arcā-vigraha. He sometimes presents Himself personally before the devotee out of reciprocation or affection. A devotee is always fully surrendered to the loving service of the Lord, and the Lord is visible to the devotee according to the devotee’s desires. He may be present in the form of Lord Rāma, Lord Kṛṣṇa, Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva and so on. Such is the exchange of love between the Lord and His devotees.
Śālagrāma-śilā refers to pebbles that appear like stones with circles marked up and down. These are available in the river known as Gaṇḍakī-nadī. Wherever the waters of this river flow, the place becomes immediately sanctified.
Everyone is searching after peace of mind. This is obtainable only when one is completely freed from the desire for material sense gratification and is engaged in the devotional service of the Lord. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā: patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ yo me bhaktyā prayacchati. Worship of the Lord is not at all expensive. One can offer the Lord a leaf, a flower, a little fruit and some water. The Supreme Lord accepts these offerings when they are offered with love and devotion. In this way, one can become freed from material desires. As long as one maintains material desires, he cannot be happy. As soon as one engages in the devotional service of the Lord, his mind is purified of all material desires. Then one becomes fully satisfied.
sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhokṣaje
janayaty āśu vairāgyaṁ
jñānaṁ ca yad ahaitukam
“The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted in order to completely satisfy the self. By rendering devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, one immediately acquires causeless knowledge and detachment from the world.” (Bhāg. 1.2.6-7)
These are the instructions given in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the supreme Vedic literature. One may not be able to go to Pulaha-āśrama, but wherever one is one can happily render devotional service to the Lord by adopting the processes mentioned above.
When one is actually advanced in ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa, eight transcendental, blissful symptoms are manifest in the body. Those are the symptoms of perfection arising from loving service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Since Mahārāja Bharata was constantly engaged in devotional service, all the symptoms of ecstatic love were manifest in his body.
The predominating Deity within the sun is Hiraṇmaya, Lord Nārāyaṇa. He is worshiped by the Gāyatrī mantra: om bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ tat savitur vareṇyaṁ bhargo devasya dhīmahi. He is also worshiped by other hymns mentioned in the Ṛg Veda, for instance: dhyeyaḥ sadā savitṛ-maṇḍala-madhya-vartī. Within the sun, Lord Nārāyaṇa is situated, and He has a golden hue.
devasya bhargo manasedaṁ jajāna
suretasādaḥ punar āviśya caṣṭe
haṁsaṁ gṛdhrāṇaṁ nṛṣad-riṅgirām imaḥ
The predominating Deity of the sun is another expansion of Nārāyaṇa, who is illuminating the entire universe. The Lord enters the hearts of all living entities as the Supersoul, and He gives them intelligence and fulfills their material desires. This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā. Sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭaḥ. “I am sitting in everyone’s heart.” (Bg. 15.15)
As the Supersoul, the Lord enters the hearts of all living entities. As stated in Brahma-saṁhitā (5.35), aṇḍāntara-stha-paramāṇu-cayāntara-stham: “He enters the universe and the atom as well.” In the Ṛg Veda, the predominating Deity of the sun is worshiped by this mantra: dhyeyaḥ sadā savitṛ-maṇḍala-madhya-vartī nārāyaṇaḥ sarasijāsana-sanniviṣṭaḥ. Nārāyaṇa sits on His lotus flower within the sun. By reciting this mantra, every living entity should take shelter of Nārāyaṇa just as the sun rises. According to modern scientists, the material world rests on the sun’s effulgence. Due to the sunshine, all planets are rotating and vegetables are growing. We also have information that the moonshine helps vegetables and herbs grow. Actually Nārāyaṇa within the sun is maintaining the entire universe; therefore Nārāyaṇa should be worshiped by the Gāyatrī mantra or the Ṛg mantra.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Fifth Canto, Seventh Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled “The Activities of King Bharata.”