SB 10.84: The Sages’ Teachings at Kurukṣetra

This chapter describes the arrival of great sages at Kurukṣetra to observe the auspicious occasion of a solar eclipse, the sages’ glorification of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and Vasudeva’s enthusiastic performance of sacrifices.

On the occasion of a solar eclipse at Kurukṣetra, exalted ladies like Kuntī, Draupadī and Subhadrā got the chance to associate with Lord Kṛṣṇa’s queens. Seeing how much the Lord’s consorts loved their husband, the ladies were struck with wonder. As the women talked among themselves, and the men did likewise, great sages headed by Nārada and Vyāsadeva arrived there, desiring to see Lord Kṛṣṇa. The various kings and other leading personalities who were sitting at their leisure, including the Pāṇḍavas, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, stood up as soon as they saw the sages. The leaders all bowed down to the great souls, inquired about their well-being and worshiped them by offering them sitting places, water and so on. Lord Kṛṣṇa then said, “Now our lives are successful, for we have obtained the goal of life: the audience of great sages and yoga masters, which even demigods only rarely obtain. The water at a holy place of pilgrimage and the deity forms of the gods can purify one only after a long time, but saintly sages purify just by being seen. Those who identify themselves with their bodies and neglect to honor transcendental sages like you are no better than asses.”

After hearing Lord Kṛṣṇa speak these words in the mood of a mere mortal, the sages remained silent for some time, bewildered. Then they said, “How amazing our Lord is! He covers His true identity with humanlike activities and pretends to be subject to superior control. Surely He has spoken in this way only to enlighten the general populace. Such behavior of His is indeed inconceivable.” The sages continued to glorify the Lord as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Supersoul, and the friend and worshiper of the brāhmaṇas.

After the sages had praised Him, Lord Kṛṣṇa offered them His obeisances, and they begged His permission to return to their hermitages. But just then Vasudeva came forward, bowed to the sages and asked, “What activities can one perform to be freed from the bondage of fruitive work?” The sages replied, “By worshiping the Supreme Lord, Hari, through the performance of Vedic sacrifices, you will become free from the bondage of fruitive work.” Vasudeva then requested the sages to act as his priests, and he arranged for Vedic sacrifices to be performed with superexcellent paraphernalia. Afterward, Vasudeva presented the priests with valuable gifts of cows and jewelry, and also with marriageable brāhmaṇa girls. He then performed the ritual bath marking the end of the sacrifice and fed everyone sumptuously, even the village dogs. Next he gave ample gifts to his relatives, the various kings and others, who all took Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s leave and returned to their own homes.

Unable to depart because of his intense affection for his relatives, Nanda Mahārāja remained at Kurukṣetra for three months, served with reverence by the Yādavas. On one occasion, Vasudeva began to describe the deep friendship Nanda had shown him, shedding tears openly. At the end of three months, Nanda left for Mathurā with the fond farewells of all the Yādavas. When the Yādavas finally saw that the rainy season was about to begin, they returned to Dvārakā, where they related all that had happened at Kurukṣetra to the residents of their capital.

SB 10.84.1

śrī-śuka uvāca
śrutvā pṛthā subala-putry atha yājñasenī
 mādhavy atha kṣitipa-patnya uta sva-gopyaḥ
kṛṣṇe ’khilātmani harau praṇayānubandhaṁ
 sarvā visismyur alam aśru-kalākulākṣyaḥ
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca — Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; śrutvā — hearing; pṛthā — Kuntī; subala-putrī — Gāndhārī, the daughter of King Subala; atha — and; yājñasenī — Draupadī; mādhavī — Subhadrā; atha — and; kṣiti-pa — of the kings; patnyaḥ — the wives; uta — also; sva — (Lord Kṛṣṇa’s) own; gopyaḥ — gopīs; kṛṣṇe — to Kṛṣṇa; akhila — of all; ātmani — the Soul; harau — the Supreme Lord Hari; praṇaya — loving; anubandham — attachment; sarvāḥ — all of them; visismyuḥ — became amazed; alam — greatly; aśru-kala — with tears; ākula — filling; akṣyaḥ — whose eyes.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Pṛthā, Gāndhārī, Draupadī, Subhadrā, the wives of other kings and the Lord’s cowherd girīfriends were all amazed to hear of the queens’ deep love for Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and Soul of all beings, and their eyes filled with tears.

Draupadī is the chief hearer in this assembly of exalted women, since, as explained by Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī, she had asked the question that Lord Kṛṣṇa’s queens answered by relating their respective stories. Since Gāndhārī and the other ladies named here were not even mentioned in the previous chapter as having been present, Ācārya Śrīdhara concludes that they must have heard the queens’ narrations only secondhand. Indeed, Draupadī would never have spoken so freely in the presence of Pṛthā and Gāndhārī, her elders, or before the gopīs, whose attitude toward the queens of Dvārakā was not particularly sympathetic. Even though the gopīs joined in shedding tears, it was more because of their being reminded of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes than because of any loving affinity between them and the queens.

We should remember, of course, that there is always perfect harmony on the spiritual platform. Apparent conflict between pure devotees is nothing like mundane envy and strife. The jealousy of the gopīs was more show than substance, being exhibited by them as an ecstatic symptom of their overflowing love for Kṛṣṇa. Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmipāda further analyzes the phrase sva-gopyaḥ as implying that these gopīs were the queens’ sva-svarūpa, the original prototypes of whom the queens were specific expansions.

SB 10.84.2-5

iti sambhāṣamāṇāsu
 strībhiḥ strīṣu nṛbhir nṛṣu
āyayur munayas tatra
dvaipāyano nāradaś ca
 cyavano devalo ’sitaḥ
viśvāmitraḥ śatānando
 bharadvājo ’tha gautamaḥ
rāmaḥ sa-śiṣyo bhagavān
 vasiṣṭho gālavo bhṛguḥ
pulastyaḥ kaśyapo ’triś ca
 mārkaṇḍeyo bṛhaspatiḥ
dvitas tritaś caikataś ca
 brahma-putrās tathāṅgirāḥ
agastyo yājñavalkyaś ca
 vāmadevādayo ’pare
iti — thus; sambhāṣamāṇāsu — as they were conversing; strībhiḥ — with women; strīṣu — women; nṛbhiḥ — with men; nṛṣu — men; āyayuḥ — arrived; munayaḥ — great sages; tatra — at that place; kṛṣṇa-rāma — Lord Kṛṣṇa and Lord Balarāma; didṛkṣayā — with the desire to see; dvaipāyanaḥ — Dvaipāyana Vedavyāsa; nāradaḥ — Nārada; ca — and; cyavanaḥ devalaḥ asitaḥ — Cyavana, Devala and Asita; viśvāmitraḥ śatānandaḥ — Viśvāmitra and Śatānanda; bharadvājaḥ atha gautamaḥ — Bharadvāja and Gautama; rāmaḥ — Paraśurāma; sa — with; śiṣyaḥ — his disciples; bhagavān — the incarnation of the Supreme Lord; vasiṣṭhaḥ gālavaḥ bhṛguḥ — Vasiṣṭha, Gālava and Bhṛgu; pulastyaḥ kaśyapaḥ atriḥ ca — Pulastya, Kaśyapa and Atri; mārkaṇḍeyaḥ bṛhaspatiḥ — Mārkaṇḍeya and Bṛhaspati; dvitaḥ tritaḥ ca ekataḥ ca — Dvita, Trita and Ekata; brahma-putrāḥ — sons of Lord Brahmā (Sanaka, Sanat, Sananda and Sanātana); tathā — and also; aṅgirāḥ — Aṅgirā; agastyaḥ yājñavalkyaḥ ca — Agastya and Yājñavalkya; vāmadeva-ādayaḥ — led by Vāmadeva; apare — others.
As the women thus talked among themselves and the men among themselves, a number of great sages arrived there, all of them eager to see Lord Kṛṣṇa and Lord Balarāma. They included Dvaipāyana, Nārada, Cyavana, Devala and Asita, Viśvāmitra, Śatānanda, Bharadvāja and Gautama, Lord Paraśurāma and his disciples, Vasiṣṭha, Gālava, Bhṛgu, Pulastya and Kaśyapa, Atri, Mārkaṇḍeya and Bṛhaspati, Dvita, Trita, Ekata and the four Kumāras, and Aṅgirā, Agastya, Yājñavalkya and Vāmadeva.

SB 10.84.6

tān dṛṣṭvā sahasotthāya
 prāg āsīnā nṛpādayaḥ
pāṇḍavāḥ kṛṣṇa-rāmau ca
 praṇemur viśva-vanditān
tān — them; dṛṣṭvā — seeing; sahasā — immediately; utthāya — standing up; prāk — until now; āsīnāḥ — seated; nṛpa-ādayaḥ — the kings and others; pāṇḍavāḥ — the Pāṇḍavas; kṛṣṇa-rāmau — Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma; ca — also; praṇemuḥ — bowed down; viśva — by the whole universe; vanditān — to them who are honored.
As soon as they saw the sages approaching, the kings and other gentlemen who had been seated immediately stood up, including the Pāṇḍava brothers and Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. They all then bowed down to the sages, who are honored throughout the universe.

SB 10.84.7

tān ānarcur yathā sarve
 saha-rāmo ’cyuto ’rcayat
tān — them; ānarcuḥ — they worshiped; yathā — properly; sarve — all of them; saha-rāma — including Lord Balarāma; acyutaḥ — and Lord Kṛṣṇa; arcayat — worshiped them; sv-āgata — with greetings; āsana — sitting places; pādya — water to wash the feet; arghya — water to drink; mālya — flower garlands; dhūpa — incense; anulepanaiḥ — and sandalwood paste.
Lord Kṛṣṇa, Lord Balarāma and the other kings and leaders properly worshiped the sages by offering them words of greeting, sitting places, water for washing their feet, drinking water, flower garlands, incense and sandalwood paste.

SB 10.84.8

uvāca sukham āsīnān
 bhagavān dharma-gup-tanuḥ
sadasas tasya mahato
 yata-vāco ’nuśṛṇvataḥ
uvāca — said; sukham — comfortably; āsīnān — to them who were seated; bhagavān — the Supreme Lord; dharma — of religion; gup — the means of protection; tanuḥ — whose body; sadasaḥ — in the assembly; tasya — that; mahataḥ — to the great souls; yata — subdued; vācaḥ — whose speech; anuśṛṇvataḥ — as they listened carefully.
After the sages were comfortably seated, the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa, whose transcendental body protects religious principles, addressed them in the midst of that great assembly. Everyone listened silently with rapt attention.

SB 10.84.9

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
aho vayaṁ janma-bhṛto
 labdhaṁ kārtsnyena tat-phalam
devānām api duṣprāpaṁ
 yad yogeśvara-darśanam
śrī-bhagavān uvāca — the Supreme Lord said; aho — ah; vayam — we; janma-bhṛtaḥ — having taken birth successfully; labdham — obtained; kārtsnyena — altogether; tat — of it (one’s birth); phalam — the fruit; devānām — for demigods; api — even; duṣprāpam — rarely obtained; yat — which; yoga-īśvara — of masters of yoga; darśanam — the sight.
The Supreme Lord said: Now our lives are indeed successful, for we have obtained life’s ultimate goal: the audience of great yoga masters, which even demigods only rarely obtain.

Despite the great privileges the demigods enjoy as administrators of the universe, they rarely see such sages as Nārada and Vyāsadeva. How much rarer, then, must it be for earthly kings and mere cowherds to see them. Here Lord Kṛṣṇa, identifying Himself with all the kings and others who had assembled at Samanta-pañcaka, speaks on their behalf.

SB 10.84.10

kiṁ svalpa-tapasāṁ nṝṇām
 arcāyāṁ deva-cakṣuṣām
kim — whether; su-alpa — very meager; tapasām — whose austerities; nṝṇām — for human beings; arcāyām — in the Deity in the temple; deva — God; cakṣuṣām — whose perception; darśana — seeing; sparśana — touching; praśna — asking questions; prahva — bowing down; pāda-arcana — worshiping the feet; ādikam — and so on.
How is it that people who are not very austere and who recognize God only in His Deity form in the temple can now see you, touch you, inquire from you, bow down to you, worship your feet and serve you in other ways?

SB 10.84.11

na hy am-mayāni tīrthāni
 na devā mṛc-chilā-mayāḥ
te punanty uru-kālena
 darśanād eva sādhavaḥ
na — not; hi — indeed; ap — of water; mayāni — composed; tīrthāni — holy places; na — not; devāḥ — deities; mṛt — of earth; śilā — and stone; mayāḥ — composed; te — they; punanti — purify; uru-kālena — after a long time; darśanāt — by being seen; eva — only; sādhavaḥ — saints.
Mere bodies of water are not the real sacred places of pilgrimage, nor are mere images of earth and stone the true worshipable deities. These purify one only after a long time, but saintly sages purify one immediately upon being seen.

Because the Personality of Godhead is absolute — the Supreme Spirit — any representation of Him, whether manifested in stone, paint, sound or any other authorized medium, is nondifferent from His original form in the topmost spiritual planet, Goloka Vṛndāvana. But ordinary demigods are not absolute, being infinitesimal spirit souls, and thus representations of the demigods are not identical with them. Worship of demigods or ritual bathing in a sanctified place gives only limited benefit to those who lack transcendental faith in the Supreme Lord.

On the other hand, great Vaiṣṇava saints like Vyāsadeva, Nārada and the four Kumāras are always absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and thus they are veritable moving tīrthas, places of pilgrimage. Even a moment’s association with them, especially by hearing their glorification of the Lord, can deliver one from all material entanglement. As King Yudhiṣṭhira said to Vidura,

bhavad-vidhā bhāgavatās
 tīṛtha-bhūtāḥ svayaṁ vibho
tīrthī-kurvanti tīrthāni
 svāntaḥ-sthena gadābhṛtā

“My Lord, devotees like your good self are verily holy places personified. Because you carry the Personality of Godhead within your heart, you turn all places into places of pilgrimage.” (Bhāg. 1.13.10)

SB 10.84.12

nāgnir na sūryo na ca candra-tārakā
 na bhūr jalaṁ khaṁ śvasano ’tha vāṅ manaḥ
upāsitā bheda-kṛto haranty aghaṁ
 vipaścito ghnanti muhūrta-sevayā
na — not; agniḥ — fire; na — not; sūryaḥ — the sun; na — not; ca — and; candra — the moon; tārakāḥ — and stars; na — not; bhūḥ — earth; jalam — water; kham — ether; śvasanaḥ — breath; atha — or; vāk — speech; manaḥ — and the mind; upāsitāḥ — worshiped; bheda — differences (between himself and other living beings); kṛtaḥ — of one who creates; haranti — they take away; agham — the sins; vipaścitaḥ — wise men; ghnanti — destroy; muhūrta — for a span of minutes; sevayā — by service.
Neither the demigods controlling fire, the sun, the moon and the stars nor those in charge of earth, water, ether, air, speech and mind actually remove the sins of their worshipers, who continue to see in terms of dualities. But wise sages destroy one’s sins when respectfully served for even a few moments.

An immature devotee of the Supreme Lord may accept only the Deity of the Lord as divine and see everything else as material — even the Lord’s confidential servants. Nonetheless, because he recognizes Lord Viṣṇu’s supreme position, such a devotee is better situated than materialistic worshipers of the demigods, and he thus deserves a degree of respect.

Association with advanced sages, either directly or by hearing their instructions, is recommended in this verse for one who wishes to advance beyond the lowest stages of devotional life. A neophyte devotee may be free from the more obvious sins of violence against innocent creatures and against his own body and mind, but until he becomes very advanced on the devotional path, he must always contend with the subtler contaminations of false pride, disrespect toward respectable Vaiṣṇavas and lack of compassion for suffering creatures. The best remedy for these symptoms of immaturity is to hear from and honor pure Vaiṣṇavas and to assist them in working to deliver the fallen, conditioned souls.

SB 10.84.13

yasyātma-buddhiḥ kuṇape tri-dhātuke
 sva-dhīḥ kalatrādiṣu bhauma ijya-dhīḥ
yat-tīrtha-buddhiḥ salile na karhicij
 janeṣv abhijñeṣu sa eva go-kharaḥ
yasya — whose; ātma — as his self; buddhiḥ — idea; kuṇape — in a corpselike body; tri-dhātuke — made of three basic elements; sva — as his own; dhīḥ — idea; kalatra-ādiṣu — in wife and so on; bhaume — in earth; ijya — as worshipable; dhīḥ — idea; yat — whose; tīrtha — as a place of pilgrimage; buddhiḥ — idea; salile — in water; na karhicit — never; janeṣu — in men; abhijñeṣu — wise; saḥ — he; eva — indeed; gaḥ — a cow; kharaḥ — or an ass.
One who identifies his self as the inert body composed of mucus, bile and air, who assumes his wife and family are permanently his own, who thinks an earthen image or the land of his birth is worshipable, or who sees a place of pilgrimage as merely the water there, but who never identifies himself with, feels kinship with, worships or even visits those who are wise in spiritual truth — such a person is no better than a cow or an ass.

True intelligence is shown by one’s freedom from false identification of the self. As stated in the Bṛhaspati-saṁhitā:

narās te go-khara jñeyā
 api bhū-pāla-vanditāḥ

“Men who do not know the principles of devotional service to the Supreme Lord should be known as cows and asses, even if they are expert in technically analyzing Vedic mantras and are adored by world leaders.”

An imperfect Vaiṣṇava advancing toward the second-class platform identifies himself with the sages who have established the true spiritual path, even while he still may have some inferior material attachments to body, family and so on. Such a devotee of the Lord is not a foolish cow or stubborn ass like the majority of materialists. But most excellent is the Vaiṣṇava who has gained the special mercy of the Lord and broken free from the bondage of illusory attachments altogether.

According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī, the words bhauma ijya-dhīḥ, “who thinks an image made of earth is worshipable,” refer not to the Deity form of the Supreme Lord in His temple but to deities of demigods, and the words yat-tīrtha-buddhiḥ salile, “who sees a place of pilgrimage as merely the water there,” refer not to sacred rivers like the Ganges or Yamunā but to lesser rivers.

SB 10.84.14

śrī-śuka uvāca
niśamyetthaṁ bhagavataḥ
vaco duranvayaṁ viprās
 tūṣṇīm āsan bhramad-dhiyaḥ
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca — Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; niśamya — hearing; ittham — such; bhagavataḥ — of the Supreme Lord; kṛṣṇasya — Kṛṣṇa; akuṇṭha — unrestricted; medhasaḥ — whose wisdom; vacaḥ — the words; duranvayam — difficult to comprehend; viprāḥ — the learned brāhmaṇas; tūṣṇīm — silent; āsan — were; bhramat — unsteady; dhiyaḥ — their minds.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Hearing such unfathomable words from the unlimitedly wise Lord Kṛṣṇa, the learned brāhmaṇas remained silent, their minds bewildered.

SB 10.84.15

ciraṁ vimṛśya munaya
jana-saṅgraha ity ūcuḥ
 smayantas taṁ jagad-gurum
ciram — for some time; vimṛśya — thinking; munayaḥ — the sages; īśvarasya — of the supreme controller; īśitavyatām — the status of being controlled; jana-saṅgrahaḥ — the enlightenment of the people in general; iti — thus (concluding); ūcuḥ — they said; smayantaḥ — smiling; tam — to Him; jagat — of the universe; gurum — the spiritual master.
For some time the sages pondered the Supreme Lord’s behavior, which resembled that of a subordinate living being. They concluded that He was acting this way to instruct the people in general. Thus they smiled and spoke to Him, the spiritual master of the universe.

Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī explains the word īśitavyatā as referring to one’s not being a controller, or in other words, to being under the law of karma, obliged to work and experience the results of one’s work. While addressing the sages, Lord Kṛṣṇa accepted the role of a subordinate living being to emphasize the importance of hearing and serving saintly Vaiṣṇavas. The Personality of Godhead is also the supreme teacher of spiritual surrender.

SB 10.84.16

śrī-munaya ūcuḥ
yan-māyayā tattva-vid-uttamā vayaṁ
 vimohitā viśva-sṛjām adhīśvarāḥ
yad īśitavyāyati gūḍha īhayā
 aho vicitram bhagavad-viceṣṭitam
śrī-munayaḥ ūcuḥ — the great sages said; yat — whose; māyayā — by the power of illusion; tattva — of the truth; vit — knowers; uttamāḥ — best; vayam — we; vimohitāḥ — confused; viśva — of the universe; sṛjām — of creators; adhīśvaraḥ — chief; yat — the fact that; īśitavyāyati — (the Supreme Lord) pretends to be subject to higher control; gūḍhaḥ — hidden; īhayā — by His activities; aho — ah; vicitram — amazing; bhagavat — of the Supreme Lord; viceṣṭitam — the activity.
The great sages said: Your power of illusion has totally bewildered us, the most exalted knowers of the truth and leaders among the universal creators. Ah, how amazing is the behavior of the Supreme Lord! He covers Himself with His humanlike activities and pretends to be subject to superior control.

The sages have characterized the Lord’s statements as inscrutable (duranvayam). How this is so is stated here: His words and activities bewilder even the most learned when He plays at subordinating Himself to His own servants.

SB 10.84.17

anīha etad bahudhaika ātmanā
 sṛjaty avaty atti na badhyate yathā
bhaumair hi bhūmir bahu-nāma-rūpiṇī
 aho vibhūmnaś caritaṁ viḍambanam
anīhaḥ — exerting no endeavor; etat — this (universe); bahudhā — manifold; ekaḥ — alone; ātmanā — by Himself; sṛjati — He creates; avati — maintains; atti — annihilates; na badhyate — is not bound up; yathā — as; bhaumaiḥ — by the transformations of earth; hi — indeed; bhūmiḥ — earth; bahu — many; nāma-rūpiṇī — having names and forms; aho — ah; vibhūmnaḥ — of the almighty Lord; caritam — the activities; viḍambanam — a pretense.
Indeed, the humanlike pastimes of the Almighty are simply a pretense! Effortlessly, He alone sends forth from His Self this variegated creation, maintains it and then swallows it up again, all without becoming entangled, just as the element earth takes on many names and forms in its various transformations.

The one Supreme expands Himself as many without diminishing His completeness. He does this effortlessly, without depending on anyone or anything else. This mystic process of the Lord’s self-expansion is incomprehensible to all but Himself, but the example of the substance earth and its manifold products bears enough resemblance to provide some idea. The same example is also presented in an often-cited passage of the Chāndogya Upaniṣad (6.1), vācārambhaṇaṁ vikāro nāmadheyaṁ mṛttikety eva satyam: “Earth’s transformations are merely verbal creations of the process of naming; the substance earth itself is alone real.”

Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī suggests that this verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam answers a possible objection on the part of Lord Kṛṣṇa: “How can I create, maintain and destroy the universe if I am Vasudeva’s son?” The answer is given by the words aho vibhūmnaś caritaṁ viḍambanam: “You are the perfectly complete whole, and Your birth and pastimes are only an imitation of ordinary persons’ activities in the material world. You simply pretend to be under higher control.”

SB 10.84.18

athāpi kāle sva-janābhiguptaye
 bibharṣi sattvaṁ khala-nigrahāya ca
sva-līlayā veda-pathaṁ sanātanaṁ
 varṇāśramātmā puruṣaḥ paro bhavān
atha api — nonetheless; kāle — at the correct time; sva-jana — of Your devotees; abhiguptaye — for the protection; bibharṣi — You assume; sattvam — the mode of goodness; khala — of the wicked; nigrahāya — for the punishment; ca — and; sva — Your; līlayā — by the pastimes; veda-patham — the path of the Vedas; sanātanam — eternal; varṇa-āśrama — of the divine system of occupational and spiritual divisions of society; ātmā — the Soul; puruṣaḥ — the Personality of Godhead; paraḥ — Supreme; bhavān — Your good self.
Nonetheless, at suitable times You assume the pure mode of goodness to protect Your devotees and punish the wicked. Thus You, the Soul of the varṇāśrama social order, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, maintain the eternal path of the Vedas by enjoying Your pleasure pastimes.

This verse describes the Lord’s enlightening people in general (jana-saṅgraha) and His imitation of worldly behavior. Because the Personality of Godhead remains always perfect, the body He manifests when He comes to this world is not touched by material goodness; rather, it is a manifestation of the pure goodness known as viśuddha-sattva, the same spiritual substance that constitutes His original form.

SB 10.84.19

brahma te hṛdayaṁ śuklaṁ
yatropalabdhaṁ sad vyaktam
 avyaktaṁ ca tataḥ param
brahma — the Vedas; te — Your; hṛdayam — heart; śuklam — pure; tapaḥ — by austerities; svādhyāya — study; saṁyamaiḥ — and self-control; yatra — in which; upalabdham — perceived; sat — pure spiritual existence; vyaktam — the manifest (products of material creation); avyaktam — the unmanifest (subtle causes of creation); ca — and; tataḥ — to that; param — transcendental.
The Vedas are Your spotless heart, and through them one can perceive — by means of austerity, study and self-control — the manifest, the unmanifest and the pure existence transcendental to both.

Vyakta, “the manifest,” consists of the visible things of this world, and avyakta consists of the subtle, underlying causes of cosmic creation. The Vedas point toward the transcendental realm of Brahman, which lies beyond all material cause and effect.

SB 10.84.20

tasmād brahma-kulaṁ brahman
 śāstra-yones tvam ātmanaḥ
sabhājayasi sad dhāma
 tad brahmaṇyāgraṇīr bhavān
tasmāt — therefore; brahma — of brāhmaṇas; kulam — to the community; brahman — O Absolute Truth; śāstra — the revealed scriptures; yoneḥ — whose means of realization; tvam — You; ātmanaḥ — of Yourself; sabhājayasi — show honor; sat — perfect; dhāma — the abode; tat — consequently; brahmaṇya — of those who respect brahminical culture; agranīḥ — the leader; bhavān — You.
Therefore, O Supreme Brahman, You honor the members of the brahminical community, for they are the perfect agents by which one can realize You through the evidence of the Vedas. For that very reason You are the foremost worshiper of the brāhmaṇas.

SB 10.84.21

adya no janma-sāphalyaṁ
 vidyāyās tapaso dṛśaḥ
tvayā saṅgamya sad-gatyā
 yad antaḥ śreyasāṁ paraḥ
adya — today; naḥ — our; janma — of the birth; sāphalyam — fruition; vidyāyāḥ — of the education; tapasaḥ — of the austerities; dṛśaḥ — of the power of sight; tvayā — with You; saṅgamya — obtaining association; sat — of saintly persons; gatyā — who are the goal; yat — because; antaḥ — the limit; śreyasām — of benefits; paraḥ — ultimate.
Today our birth, education, austerity and vision have all become perfect because we have been able to associate with You, the goal of all saintly persons. Indeed, You Yourself are the ultimate, supreme blessing.

The sages here contrast their respect for the Lord with His reciprocal worship of them. Lord Kṛṣṇa honors brāhmaṇas as a means of instructing less intelligent men, whereas He is in fact absolutely independent. The brāhmaṇas who worship Him, on the other hand, benefit themselves more than they can imagine.

SB 10.84.22

namas tasmai bhagavate
 mahimne paramātmane
namaḥ — obeisances; tasmai — to Him; bhagavate — the Supreme Lord; kṛṣṇāya — Kṛṣṇa; akuṇṭha — unrestricted; medhase — whose wisdom; sva — His own; yoga-māyayā — by the internal illusory potency; ācchanna — covered; mahimne — whose glories; parama-ātmane — the Supersoul.
Let us offer obeisances unto that Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Kṛṣṇa, the infinitely intelligent Supersoul, who has disguised His greatness through His mystic Yoga-māyā.

Apart from any future profit to be obtained from worshiping the Supreme Lord, it is every person’s most essential obligation to bow down to Him as an acknowledgement of one’s dependence and servitude. Lord Kṛṣṇa recommends,

man-manā bhava mad-bhakto
 mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi yuktvaivam
 ātmānaṁ mat-parāyaṇaḥ

“Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances to Me and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.” (Bg. 9.34)

SB 10.84.23

na yaṁ vidanty amī bhū-pā
 ekārāmāś ca vṛṣṇayaḥ
 ātmānaṁ kālam īśvaram
na — not; yam — whom; vidanti — know; amī — these; bhū-pāḥ — kings; eka — together; ārāmāḥ — who enjoy; ca — and; vṛṣṇayaḥ — the Vṛṣṇis; māyā — of the divine power of illusion; javanikā — by the curtain; ācchannam — covered; ātmānam — the Supreme Soul; kālam — time; īśvaram — the supreme controller.
Neither these kings nor even the Vṛṣṇis, who enjoy Your intimate association, know You as the Soul of all existence, the force of time and the supreme controller. For them You are covered by the curtain of Māyā.

Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī explains that Lord Kṛṣṇa’s family, the Vṛṣṇis, were too familiar with Him to realize that He is the Supersoul residing in the heart of every created being. And those kings at Kurukṣetra who were not devotees of Kṛṣṇa could not recognize Him as time, the annihilator of everything. Devotees and nondevotees are both covered by Māyā, but in different ways. For the materialists Māyā is illusion, but for the Vaiṣṇavas she acts as Yoga-māyā, the internal potency who covers their awareness of the Supreme Lord’s majesty and engages them in His eternal pleasure pastimes.

SB 10.84.24-25

yathā śayānaḥ puruṣa
 ātmānaṁ guṇa-tattva-dṛk
 na veda rahitaṁ param
evaṁ tvā nāma-mātreṣu
 viṣayeṣv indriyehayā
māyayā vibhramac-citto
 na veda smṛty-upaplavāt
yathā — as; śayānaḥ — sleeping; puruṣaḥ — a person; ātmānam — himself; guṇa — secondary; tattva — of reality; dṛk — whose vision; nāma — with names; mātra — and forms; indriya — through his mind; ābhātam — manifest; na veda — he does not know; rahitam — separate; param — rather; evam — similarly; tvā — You; nāma-mātreṣu — having names and forms; viṣayeṣu — in objects of material perception; indriya — of the senses; īhayā — by the activity; māyayā — because of the influence of Your illusory energy; vibhramat — becoming bewildered; cittaḥ — whose consciousness; na veda — one does not know; smṛti — of his memory; upaplavāt — due to the disruption.
A sleeping person imagines an alternative reality for himself and, seeing himself as having various names and forms, forgets his waking identity, which is distinct from the dream. Similarly, the senses of one whose consciousness is bewildered by illusion perceive only the names and forms of material objects. Thus such a person loses his memory and cannot know You.

Just as a person’s dream is a secondary reality created from the stock of his memories and desires, so this universe exists as the inferior creation of the Supreme Lord, in no real way separate from Him. And just as the person who awakens from sleep experiences the higher reality of his waking life, so the Supreme Lord also has His distinct, higher reality beyond everything we know of this world. In His own words,

mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ
 jagad avyakta-mūrtinā
mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni
 na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ

na ca mat-sthāni bhūtāni
 paśya me yogam aiśvaram
bhūta-bhṛn na ca bhūta-stho
 mamātmā bhūta-bhāvanaḥ

“By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them. And yet everything that is created does not rest in Me. Behold My mystic opulence! Although I am the maintainer of all living entities and although I am everything, I am not part of this cosmic manifestation, for My Self is the very source of creation.” (Bg. 9.4-5)

SB 10.84.26

tasyādya te dadṛśimāṅghrim aghaugha-marṣa-
 tīrthāspadaṁ hṛdi kṛtaṁ su-vipakva-yogaiḥ
utsikta-bhakty-upahatāśaya jīva-kośā
 āpur bhavad-gatim athānugṛhāna bhaktān
tasya — His; adya — today; te — Your; dadṛśima — we have seen; aṅghrim — the feet; agha — of sins; ogha — floods; marṣa — which undo; tīrtha — of the holy pilgrimage site (the Ganges); āspadam — the source; hṛdi — in the heart; kṛtam — placed; su — well; vipakva — matured; yogaiḥ — by those whose practice of yoga; utsikta — fully developed; bhakti — by devotional service; upahata — destroyed; āśaya — the material mentality; jīva — of the individual soul; kośāḥ — whose external covering; āpuḥ — they attained; bhavat — Your; gatim — destination; atha — therefore; anugṛhāṇa — please show mercy; bhaktān — to Your devotees.
Today we have directly seen Your feet, the source of the holy Ganges, which washes away volumes of sins. Perfected yogīs can at best meditate upon Your feet within their hearts. But only those who render You wholehearted devotional service and in this way vanquish the soul’s covering — the material mind — attain You as their final destination. Therefore kindly show mercy to us, Your devotees.

The holy river Ganges has the power to destroy all sorts of sinful reactions because she originates at the Lord’s lotus feet and thus contains the dust of His feet. Explaining this verse, Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī says, “If the Lord might advise the sages that they need not concern themselves with devotional practices because they are already far advanced in spiritual knowledge and austerity, they hereby respectfully decline such a suggestion, pointing out that only those yogīs who have destroyed their material mind and ego by surrendering to Kṛṣṇa in pure devotional service can attain full perfection. They conclude by praying to the Lord that He favor them in the most merciful way by making them His devotees.”

SB 10.84.27

śrī-śuka uvāca
ity anujñāpya dāśārhaṁ
 dhṛtarāṣṭraṁ yudhiṣṭhiram
rājarṣe svāśramān gantuṁ
 munayo dadhire manaḥ
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca — Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; iti — thus speaking; anujñāpya — taking permission to leave; dāśārham — of Lord Kṛṣṇa, the descendant of Mahārāja Daśārha; dhṛtarāṣṭram — of Dhṛtarāṣṭra; yudhiṣṭhiram — of Yudhiṣṭhira; rāja — among kings; ṛṣe — O sage; sva — their own; āśramān — to the hermitages; gantum — to going; munayaḥ — the sages; dadhire — turned; manaḥ — their minds.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Having thus spoken, O wise king, the sages then took leave of Lord Dāśārha, Dhṛtarāṣṭra and Yudhiṣṭhira and prepared to depart for their āśramas.

SB 10.84.28

tad vīkṣya tān upavrajya
 vasudevo mahā-yaśāḥ
praṇamya copasaṅgṛhya
 babhāṣedaṁ su-yantritaḥ
tat — this; vīkṣya — seeing; tān — them; upavrajya — approaching; vasudevaḥ — Vasudeva; mahā — great; yaśāḥ — whose fame; praṇamya — bowing down; ca — and; upasaṅgṛhya — taking hold of their feet; babhāṣa — he said; idam — this; su — very; yantritaḥ — carefully composed.
Seeing that they were about to leave, the renowned Vasudeva approached the sages. After bowing down to them and touching their feet, he spoke to them with carefully chosen words.

SB 10.84.29

śrī-vasudeva uvāca
namo vaḥ sarva-devebhya
 ṛṣayaḥ śrotum arhatha
karmaṇā karma-nirhāro
 yathā syān nas tad ucyatām
śrī-vasudevaḥ uvāca — Śrī Vasudeva said; namaḥ — obeisances; vaḥ — to you; sarva — all; devebhyaḥ — (who comprise) the demigods; ṛṣayaḥ — O sages; śrotum arhatha — please listen; karmaṇā — by material work; karma — of (previous) work; nirhāraḥ — the purging; yathā — how; syāt — there may be; naḥ — to us; tat — that; ucyatām — please say.
Śrī Vasudeva said: Obeisances to you, the residence of all the demigods. Please hear me, O sages. Kindly tell us how the reactions of one’s work can be counteracted by further work.

Here Vasudeva addresses the sages as “the residence of all the demigods.” His statement is confirmed in the authoritative śruti-mantras, which declare, yāvatīr vai devatās tāḥ sarvā veda-vidi brāhmaṇe vasanti: “Whatever demigods exist, all reside in a brāhmaṇa who knows the Veda.

SB 10.84.30

śrī-nārada uvāca
nāti-citram idaṁ viprā
 vasudevo bubhutsayā
kṛṣṇam matvārbhakaṁ yan naḥ
 pṛcchati śreya ātmanaḥ
śrī-nāradaḥ uvāca — Śrī Nārada said; na — not; ati — very; citram — wonderful; idam — this; viprāḥ — O brāhmaṇas; vasudevaḥ — Vasudeva; bubhutsayā — with the desire of learning; kṛṣṇam — Lord Kṛṣṇa; matvā — thinking; arbhakam — a boy; yat — the fact that; naḥ — from us; pṛcchati — he asks; śreyaḥ — about the highest good; ātmanaḥ — for himself.
Śrī Nārada Muni said: O brāhmaṇas, it is not so amazing that in his eagerness to know, Vasudeva has asked us about his ultimate benefit, for he considers Kṛṣṇa a mere boy.

Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī relates Nārada’s thoughts: Śrī Nārada understood how Vasudeva, in line with his mood of pretending to be an ordinary householder, asked the sages about karma-yoga, although he had already attained spiritual goals even great yogīs and ṛṣis cannot achieve. But Nārada was still concerned that Vasudeva might create an awkward mood by treating Lord Kṛṣṇa as a mere child in the presence of all the sages. Nārada and the other sages felt obliged to maintain their attitude of reverence toward Lord Kṛṣṇa, so how could they ignore Him and presume to answer Vasudeva themselves? To avoid this embarrassment, Nārada took this opportunity to remind everyone present of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s absolute supremacy.

SB 10.84.31

sannikarṣo ’tra martyānām
gāṅgaṁ hitvā yathānyāmbhas
 tatratyo yāti śuddhaye
sannikarṣaḥ — proximity; atra — here (in this world); martyānām — for mortals; anādaraṇa — of disregard; kāraṇam — a cause; gāṅgam — (the water) of the Ganges; hitvā — leaving; yathā — as; anya — other; ambhaḥ — to water; tatratyaḥ — one who lives near it; yāti — goes; śuddhaye — for purification.
In this world familiarity breeds contempt. For example, one who lives on the banks of the Ganges might travel to some other body of water to be purified.

SB 10.84.32-33

yasyānubhūtiḥ kālena
 layotpatty-ādināsya vai
svato ’nyasmāc ca guṇato
 na kutaścana riṣyati
taṁ kleśa-karma-paripāka-guṇa-pravāhair
 avyāhatānubhavam īśvaram advitīyam
prāṇādibhiḥ sva-vibhavair upagūḍham anyo
 manyeta sūryam iva megha-himoparāgaiḥ
yasya — whose; anubhūtiḥ — awareness; kālena — caused by time; laya — by the destruction; utpatti — creation; ādinā — and so on; asya — of this (universe); vai — indeed; svataḥ — on its own; anyasmāt — due to some other agency; ca — or; guṇataḥ — in terms of its qualities; na — not; kutaścana — for any reason; riṣyati — becomes disrupted; tam — Him; kleśa — by material distresses; karma — material activities; paripāka — their consequences; guṇa — of the modes of nature; pravāhaiḥ — and by the constant flow; avyāhata — unaffected; anubhavam — whose consciousness; īśvaram — the supreme controller; advitīyam — who has no second; prāṇa — by the vital air; ādibhiḥ — and other (elements of the material body); sva — His own; vibhavaiḥ — expansions; upagūḍham — disguised; anyaḥ — someone else; manyeta — considers; sūryam iva — like the sun; megha — by clouds; hima — snow; uparāgaiḥ — and eclipses.
The Supreme Lord’s awareness is never disturbed by time, by the creation and destruction of the universe, by changes in its own qualities, or by anything else, whether self-caused or external. But although the consciousness of the Personality of Godhead, who is the supreme one without a second, is never affected by material distress, by the reactions of material work or by the constant flow of nature’s modes, ordinary persons nonetheless think that the Lord is covered by His own creations of prāṇa and other material elements, just as one may think that the sun is covered by clouds, snow or an eclipse.

Things of this world are inevitably destroyed by one means or another. Time itself causes the eventual decay of every created being — a fruit, for instance, which may grow ripe but then must either rot or be eaten. Some things, like lightning, destroy themselves as soon as they are manifested, while others are destroyed suddenly by external agents, as a clay pot is by a hammer. Even in living bodies and other things whose existence continues for some time, there is a constant flux of various qualities that are destroyed and replaced by others.

In contrast to all of this, the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s awareness is never disrupted by anything. Only out of ignorance could one imagine Him to be an ordinary human being subject to material conditions. Mortal beings are covered by their entanglement in fruitive activities and their consequent happiness and distress, but the Supreme Lord cannot be covered by what are in fact His own expansions. Analogously, the immense sun is the source of the relatively insignificant phenomena of clouds, snow and eclipses, and so it cannot be covered by them, though the ordinary observer may think that it is.

SB 10.84.34

athocur munayo rājann
sarveṣāṁ śṛṇvatāṁ rājñāṁ
atha — then; ūcuḥ — said; munayaḥ — the sages; rājan — O King (Parīkṣit); ābhāṣya — speaking; ānaka-dundubhim — to Vasudeva; sarveṣām — all; śṛṇvatām — as they listened; rājñām — the kings; tathā eva — also; acyuta-rāmayoḥ — Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma.
[Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued:] The sages then spoke again, O King, addressing Vasudeva while all the kings, along with Lord Acyuta and Lord Rāma, listened.

SB 10.84.35

karmaṇā karma-nirhāra
 eṣa sādhu-nirūpitaḥ
yac chraddhayā yajed viṣṇuṁ
 sarva-yajñeśvaraṁ makhaiḥ
karmaṇā — by activity; karma — of the reactions of past actions; nirhāraḥ — the counteraction; eṣaḥ — this; sādhu — correctly; nirūpitaḥ — ascertained; yat — that; śraddhayā — with faith; yajet — one should worship; viṣṇum — Viṣṇu; sarva — of all; yajña — sacrifices; īśvaram — the Lord; makhaiḥ — by Vedic fire rituals.
[The sages said:] It has been definitely concluded that work is counteracted by further work when one executes Vedic sacrifices as a means of worshiping Viṣṇu, the Lord of all sacrifices, with sincere faith.

SB 10.84.36

cittasyopaśamo ’yaṁ vai
 kavibhiḥ śāstra-cakṣusā
darśitaḥ su-gamo yogo
 dharmaś cātma-mud-āvahaḥ
cittasya — of the mind; upaśamaḥ — the pacification; ayam — this; vai — indeed; kavibhiḥ — by learned scholars; śāstra — of scripture; cakṣuṣā — with the eye; darśitaḥ — shown; su-gamaḥ — easily performed; yogaḥ — means of attaining liberation; dharmaḥ — religious duty; ca — and; ātma — to the heart; mut — pleasure; āvahaḥ — which brings.
Learned authorities who see through the eye of scripture have demonstrated that this is the easiest method of subduing the agitated mind and attaining liberation, and that it is a sacred duty which brings joy to the heart.

SB 10.84.37

ayaṁ svasty-ayanaḥ panthā
 dvi-jāter gṛha-medhinaḥ
yac chraddhayāpta-vittena
 śuklenejyeta pūruṣaḥ
ayam — this; svasti — auspiciousness; ayanaḥ — bringing; panthā — the path; dvi-jāteḥ — for one who is twice-born (being a member of one of the three higher social orders); gṛha — at home; medhinaḥ — who performs sacrifices; yat — that; śraddhayā — selflessly; āpta — obtained by just means; vittena — with his possessions; śuklena — untainted; ījyeta — should be worshiped; pūruṣaḥ — the Personality of Godhead.
This is the most auspicious path for a religious householder of the twice-born orders — to selflessly worship the Personality of Godhead with wealth honestly obtained.

Both Śrīdhara Svāmī and Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī here agree that the ritual karma of Vedic sacrifices is particularly meant for attached householders. Those who are already renounced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, like Vasudeva himself, need only cultivate their faith in the Lord’s devotees, His Deity form, His name, the remnants of His food and His teachings, as given in Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

SB 10.84.38

vittaiṣaṇāṁ yajña-dānair
 gṛhair dāra-sutaiṣaṇām
ātma-lokaiṣaṇāṁ deva
 kālena visṛjed budhaḥ
grāme tyaktaiṣaṇāḥ sarve
 yayur dhīrās tapo-vanam
vitta — for wealth; eṣaṇām — the desire; yajña — by sacrifices; dānaiḥ — and by charity; gṛhaiḥ — by engagement in household affairs; dāra — for wife; suta — and children; eṣaṇām — the desire; ātma — for oneself; loka — for an exalted planet (in the next life); eṣaṇām — the desire; deva — O saintly Vasudeva; kālena — because of time; visṛjet — one should renounce; budhaḥ — who is intelligent; grāme — for household life; tyakta — who renounced; eṣaṇāḥ — their desires; sarve — all; yayuḥ — they went; dhīrāḥ — sober sages; tapaḥ — of austerities; vanam — to the forest.
An intelligent person should learn to renounce his desire for wealth by performing sacrifices and acts of charity. He should learn to renounce his desire for wife and children by experiencing family life. And he should learn to renounce his desire for promotion to a higher planet in his next life, O saintly Vasudeva, by studying the effects of time. Self-controlled sages who have thus renounced their attachment to household life go to the forest to perform austerities.

SB 10.84.39

ṛṇais tribhir dvijo jāto
 devarṣi-pitṝṇāṁ prabho
yajñādhyayana-putrais tāny
 anistīrya tyajan patet
ṛṇaiḥ — with debts; tribhiḥ — three; dvi-jaḥ — a member of the twice-born classes; jātaḥ — is born; deva — to the demigods; ṛṣi — sages; pitṝṇām — and forefathers; prabho — O master (Vasudeva); yajña — by sacrifice; adhyayana — study of scripture; putraiḥ — and (begetting) children; tāni — these (debts); anistīrya — not liquidating; tyajan — leaving (his body); patet — he falls down.
Dear Prabhu, a member of the twice-born classes is born with three kinds of debts — those owed to the demigods, to the sages and to his forefathers. If he leaves his body without first liquidating these debts by performing sacrifice, studying the scriptures and begetting children, he will fall down into a hellish condition.

Concerning the special obligations of a brāhmaṇa, the śruti states, jāyamāno vai brāhmaṇas tribhir ṛṇavāñ jāyate brahmacaryeṇa ṛṣibhyo yajñena devebhyaḥ prajayā pitṛbhyaḥ: “Whenever a brāhmaṇa takes birth, three debts are born along with him. He can pay his debt to the sages by celibacy, his debt to the demigods by sacrifice, and his debt to his forefathers by begetting children.”

SB 10.84.40

tvaṁ tv adya mukto dvābhyāṁ vai
 ṛṣi-pitror mahā-mate
yajñair devarṇam unmucya
 nirṛṇo ’śaraṇo bhava
tvam — you; tu — but; adya — now; muktaḥ — freed; dvābhyām — from two (of the debts); vai — certainly; ṛṣi — to the sages; pitroḥ — and to the forefathers; mahā-mate — O generous one; yajñaiḥ — by Vedic sacrifices; deva — to the demigods; ṛṇam — from the debt; unmucya — relieving yourself; nirṛṇaḥ — without debt; aśaraṇaḥ — without material shelter; bhava — become.
But you, O magnanimous soul, are already free from two of your debts — those to the sages and the forefathers. Now absolve yourself of your debt to the demigods by executing Vedic sacrifices, and in this way free yourself completely of debt and renounce all material shelter.

SB 10.84.41

vasudeva bhavān nūnaṁ
 bhaktyā paramayā harim
jagatām īśvaraṁ prārcaḥ
 sa yad vāṁ putratāṁ gataḥ
vasudeva — O Vasudeva; bhavān — your good self; nūnam — doubtlessly; bhaktyā — with devotion; paramayā — supreme; harim — Lord Kṛṣṇa; jagatām — of all the worlds; īśvaram — the supreme controller; prārcaḥ — have worshiped thoroughly; saḥ — He; yat — inasmuch; vām — of both of you (Vasudeva and Devakī); putratām — the role of son; gataḥ — has taken on.
O Vasudeva, without doubt you must have previously worshiped Lord Hari, the master of all worlds. Both you and your wife must have perfectly worshiped Him with supreme devotion, since He has accepted the role of your son.

Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī paraphrases the sages’ mood as follows: “We have answered you, who questioned us in the manner of ordinary discourse, in the same ordinary way. In truth, however, since you are the eternally liberated father of the Supreme Lord, neither worldly customs nor the injunctions of scripture have any authority over you.”

According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī, the very name Vasudeva indicates that Vasudeva manifests brilliantly (dīvyati) the superexcellent wealth (vasu) of pure devotional service. In the Eleventh Canto Nārada will again meet with Vasudeva and at that time remind him,

devarṣi-bhūtāpta-nṛṇāṁ pitṝṇāṁ
 na kiṅkaro nāyam ṛṇī ca rājan
sarvātmanā yaḥ śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyaṁ
 gato mukundaṁ parihṛtya kartam

“O King, one who has given up all material duties and has taken full shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, who offers shelter to all, is not indebted to the demigods, great sages, ordinary living beings, relatives, friends, mankind or even his forefathers who have passed away. Since all such classes of living entities are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, one who has surrendered to the Lord’s service has no need to serve such persons separately.” (Bhāg. 11.5.41)

SB 10.84.42

śrī-śuka uvāca
iti tad-vacanaṁ śrutvā
 vasudevo mahā-manāḥ
tān ṛṣīn ṛtvijo vavre
 mūrdhnānamya prasādya ca
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca — Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; iti — thus spoken; tat — their; vacanam — words; śrutvā — having heard; vasudevaḥ — Vasudeva; mahā-manāḥ — generous; tān — them; ṛṣīn — the sages; ṛtvijaḥ — as priests; vavre — chose; mūrdhnā — with his head; ānamya — bowing down; prasādya — gratifying them; ca — also.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: After hearing these statements of the sages, generous Vasudeva bowed his head to the ground and, praising them, requested them to become his priests.

SB 10.84.43

ta enam ṛṣayo rājan
 vṛtā dharmeṇa dhārmikam
tasminn ayājayan kṣetre
 makhair uttama-kalpakaiḥ
te — they; enam — him; ṛṣayaḥ — the sages; rājan — O King (Parīkṣit); vṛtāḥ — chosen; dharmeṇa — according to religious principles; dhārmikam — who was religious; tasmin — in that; ayājayan — they engaged in executing sacrifices; kṣetre — holy field (of Kurukṣetra); makhaiḥ — with fire rituals; uttama — superexcellent; kalpakaiḥ — whose arrangements.
Thus requested by him, O King, the sages engaged the pious Vasudeva in performing fire sacrifices at that holy place of Kurukṣetra according to strict religious principles and with most excellent ritual arrangements.

SB 10.84.44-45

tad-dīkṣāyāṁ pravṛttāyāṁ
 vṛṣṇayaḥ puṣkara-srajaḥ
snātāḥ su-vāsaso rājan
 rājānaḥ suṣṭhv-alaṅkṛtāḥ
tan-mahiṣyaś ca muditā
 niṣka-kaṇṭhyaḥ su-vāsasaḥ
dīkṣā-śālām upājagmur
 āliptā vastu-pāṇayaḥ
tat — of him (Vasudeva); dīkṣāyām — the initiation for the sacrifice; pravṛttāyām — when it was about to begin; vṛṣṇayaḥ — the Vṛṣṇis; puṣkara — of lotuses; srajaḥ — wearing garlands; snātāḥ — bathed; suvāsasaḥ — well dressed; rājan — O King; rājānaḥ — (other) kings; suṣṭhu — elaborately; alaṅkṛtāḥ — ornamented; tat — their; mahiṣyaḥ — queens; ca — and; muditāḥ — joyful; niṣka — jeweled lockets; kaṇṭhyaḥ — on whose necks; su-vāsasaḥ — well dressed; dīkṣā — of initiation; śālām — the pavilion; upājagmuḥ — they approached; āliptāḥ — anointed; vastu — with auspicious items; pāṇayaḥ — in whose hands.
When Mahārāja Vasudeva was about to be initiated for the sacrifice, O King, the Vṛṣṇis came to the initiation pavilion after bathing and putting on fine clothes and garlands of lotuses. The other kings also came, elaborately ornamented, as well as all their joyful queens, who wore jeweled lockets around their necks and were also clad in fine garments. The royal wives were anointed with sandalwood paste and carried auspicious items for the worship.

SB 10.84.46

nedur mṛdaṅga-paṭaha-
nanṛtur naṭa-nartakyas
 tuṣṭuvuḥ sūta-māgadhāḥ
jaguḥ su-kaṇṭhyo gandharvyaḥ
 saṅgītaṁ saha-bhartṛkāḥ
neduḥ — sounded; mṛdaṅga-paṭaha — mṛdaṅga and paṭaha drums; śaṅkha — conchshells; bherī-ānaka — bherī and ānaka drums; ādayaḥ — and other instruments; nanṛtuḥ — danced; naṭa-nartakyaḥ — male and female dancers; tuṣṭuvuḥ — recited praise; sūta-māgadhāḥ — sūta and māgadha bards; jaguḥ — sang; su-kaṇṭhyaḥ — sweet-voiced; gandharvyaḥ — female Gandharvas; saṅgītam — songs; saha — along with; bhartṛkāḥ — their husbands.
Mṛdaṅgas, paṭahas, conchshells, bherīs, ānakas and other instruments resounded, male and female dancers danced, and sūtas and māgadhas recited glorifications. Sweet-voiced Gandharvīs sang, accompanied by their husbands.

SB 10.84.47

tam abhyaṣiñcan vidhi-vad
 aktam abhyaktam ṛtvijaḥ
patnībhir aṣṭā-daśabhiḥ
 soma-rājam ivoḍubhiḥ
tam — him; abhyaṣiñcan — they sprinkled with sacred water; vidhivat — according to scriptural rules; aktam — his eyes decorated with mascara; abhyaktam — his body smeared with newly churned butter; ṛtvijaḥ — the priests; patnībhiḥ — along with his wives; aṣṭā-daśabhiḥ — eighteen; soma-rājam — the kingly; iva — as if; uḍubhiḥ — with stars.
After Vasudeva’s eyes had been decorated with black cosmetic and his body smeared with fresh butter, the priests initiated him according to scriptural rules by sprinkling him and his eighteen wives with sacred water. Encircled by his wives, he resembled the regal moon encircled by stars.

Devakī was Vasudeva’s principal wife, but she had several co-wives, including her six sisters. This fact is recorded in the Ninth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:

devakaś cograsenaś ca
 catvāro devakātmajāḥ
devavān upadevaś ca
 sudevo devavardhanaḥ

teṣāṁ svasāraḥ saptāsan
 dhṛtadevādayo nṛpa
śāntidevopadevā ca
 śrīdevā devarakṣitā
sahadevā devakī ca
 vasudeva uvāha tāḥ

“Āhuka had two sons, named Devaka and Ugrasena. Devaka had four sons, named Devavān, Upadeva, Sudeva and Devavardhana, and he also had seven daughters, named Śāntidevā, Upadevā, Śrīdevā, Devarakṣitā, Sahadevā, Devakī and Dhṛtadevā. Dhṛtadevā was the eldest. Vasudeva, the father of Kṛṣṇa, married all these sisters.” (Bhāg. 9.24.21-23)

Some of Vasudeva’s other wives are mentioned a few verses later:

pauravī rohiṇī bhadrā
 madirā rocanā ilā
devakī-pramukhāś cāsan
 patnya ānakadundubheḥ

“Devakī, Pauravī, Rohiṇī, Bhadrā, Madirā, Rocanā, Ilā and others were all wives of Ānakadundubhi [Vasudeva]. Among them all, Devakī was the chief.” (Bhāg. 9.24.45)

SB 10.84.48

tābhir dukūla-valayair
sv-alaṅkṛtābhir vibabhau
 dīkṣito ’jina-saṁvṛtaḥ
tābhiḥ — with them; dukūla — with silk saris; valayaiḥ — and bangles; hāra — wearing necklaces; nūpura — ankle bells; kuṇḍalaiḥ — and earrings; su — finely; alaṅkṛtābhiḥ — decorated; vibabhau — he shone brilliantly; dīkṣitaḥ — having been initiated; ajina — by a deerskin; saṁvṛtaḥ — enwrapped.
Vasudeva received initiation along with his wives, who wore silk saris and were adorned with bangles, necklaces, ankle bells and earrings. With his body wrapped in a deerskin, Vasudeva shone splendidly.

SB 10.84.49

tasyartvijo mahā-rāja
sa-sadasyā virejus te
 yathā vṛtra-haṇo ’dhvare
tasya — his; ṛtvijaḥ — priests; mahā-rāja — O great king (Parīkṣit); ratna — with jewels; kauśeya — silk; vāsasaḥ — and garments; sa — along with; sadasyāḥ — the officiating members of the assembly; virejuḥ — appeared effulgent; te — they; yathā — as if; vṛtra-haṇaḥ — of Lord Indra, the killer of Vṛtra; adhvare — in the sacrifice.
My dear Mahārāja Parīkṣit, Vasudeva’s priests and the officiating members of the assembly, dressed in silk dhotīs and jeweled ornaments, looked so effulgent that they seemed to be standing in the sacrificial arena of Indra, the killer of Vṛtra.

SB 10.84.50

tadā rāmaś ca kṛṣṇaś ca
 svaiḥ svair bandhubhir anvitau
rejatuḥ sva-sutair dārair
 jīveśau sva-vibhūtibhiḥ
tadā — at that time; rāmaḥ — Lord Balarāma; ca — and; kṛṣṇaḥ — Lord Kṛṣṇa; ca — also; svaiḥ svaiḥ — each by His own; bandhubhiḥ — relatives; anvitau — accompanied; rejatuḥ — appeared brilliant; sva — with His own; sutaiḥ — sons; dāraiḥ — and wives; jīva — of all living entities; īśau — the two Lords; sva-vibhūtibhiḥ — with the expansions of Their own opulences.
At that time Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa, the Lords of all living entities, shone forth with great majesty in the company of Their respective sons, wives and other family members, who were expansions of Their opulences.

SB 10.84.51

īje ’nu-yajñaṁ vidhinā
prākṛtair vaikṛtair yajñair
īje — he worshiped; anu-yajñam — with each kind of sacrifice; vidhinā — by the proper regulations; agni-hotra — by offering oblations into the sacred fire; ādi — and so on; lakṣaṇaiḥ — characterized; prākṛtaiḥ — unmodified, completely specified by śruti injunctions; vaikṛtaiḥ — modified, adjusted according to the indications of other sources; yajñaiḥ — with sacrifices; dravya — of the sacrificial paraphernalia; jñāna — of the knowledge of mantras; kriyā — and of the rituals; īśvaram — the Lord.
Performing various kinds of Vedic sacrifice according to the proper regulations, Vasudeva worshiped the Lord of all sacrificial paraphernalia, mantras and rituals. He executed both primary and secondary sacrifices, offering oblations to the sacred fire and carrying out other aspects of sacrificial worship.

There are numerous kinds of Vedic fire sacrifice, each of which involves several elaborate rituals. The Brāhmaṇa portion of the Vedic śruti specifies the complete step-by-step procedure of only a few prototype sacrifices, such as the Jyotiṣṭoma and Darśa-pūrṇamāsa. These are called the prākṛta, or original, yajñas; the details of other yajñas must be extrapolated from the patterns of these prākṛta injunctions according to the strict rules of the Mīmāṁsā-śāstra. Since other yajñas are thus known by derivation from the prototype sacrifices, they are called vaikṛta, or “changed.”

SB 10.84.52

athartvigbhyo ’dadāt kāle
 yathāmnātaṁ sa dakṣiṇāḥ
sv-alaṅkṛtebhyo ’laṅkṛtya
 go-bhū-kanyā mahā-dhanāḥ
atha — then; ṛtvigbhyaḥ — to the priests; adadāt — gave; kāle — at the appropriate time; yathā-āmnātam — as stipulated in the scriptures; saḥ — he; dakṣiṇāḥ — gifts of thanks; su-alaṅkṛtebhyaḥ — who were richly adorned; alaṅkṛtya — decorating them even more elaborately; go — cows; bhū — land; kanyāḥ — and marriageable girls; mahā — greatly; dhanāḥ — valuable.
Then, at the appropriate time and according to scripture, Vasudeva remunerated the priests by decorating them with precious ornaments, though they were already richly adorned, and offering them valuable gifts of cows, land and marriageable girls.

SB 10.84.53

 caritvā te maharṣayaḥ
sasnū rāma-hrade viprā
patnī-saṁyāja — the ritual in which the sponsor of the sacrifice offers oblations together with his wife; avabhṛthyaiḥ — and the final rituals, known as avabhṛthya; caritvā — having executed; te — they; mahāṛṣayaḥ — the great sages; sasnuḥ — bathed; rāma — of Lord Paraśurāma; hrade — in the lake; viprāḥ — brāhmaṇas; yajamāna — the sponsor of the sacrifice (Vasudeva); puraḥ-sarāḥ — placing in front.
After supervising the patnī-saṁyāja and avabhṛthya rituals, the great brāhmaṇa sages bathed in Lord Paraśurāma’s lake with the sponsor of the sacrifice, Vasudeva, who led them.

SB 10.84.54

snāto ’laṅkāra-vāsāṁsi
 vandibhyo ’dāt tathā striyaḥ
tataḥ sv-alaṅkṛto varṇān
 ā-śvabhyo ’nnena pūjayat
snātaḥ — bathed; alaṅkāra — jewelry; vāsāṁsi — and clothing; vandibhyaḥ — to the bards; adāt — gave; tathā — also; striyaḥ — the women; tataḥ — then; su-alaṅkṛtaḥ — well ornamented; varṇān — all classes of people; ā — extending; śvabhyaḥ — to the dogs; annena — with food; pūjayat — he honored.
His sacred bath complete, Vasudeva joined with his wives in giving the jewelry and clothes they had been wearing to the professional reciters. Vasudeva then put on new garments, after which he honored all classes of people by feeding everyone, even the dogs.

SB 10.84.55-56

bandhūn sa-dārān sa-sutān
 pāribarheṇa bhūyasā
śrī-niketam anujñāpya
 śaṁsantaḥ prayayuḥ kratum
bandhūn — his relatives; sa-dārān — with their wives; sa-sutān — with their children; pāribarheṇa — with gifts; bhūyasā — opulent; vidarbha-kośala-kurūn — the leaders of the Vidarbha, Kośala and Kuru clans; kāśi-kekaya-sṛñjayān — also the Kāśīs, Kekayas and Sṛñjayas; sadasya — the officials of the sacrificial assembly; ṛtvik — the priests; sura-gaṇān — the various classes of demigods; nṛ — the humans; bhūta — ghostly spirits; pitṛ — forefathers; cāraṇān — and Cāraṇas, members of a class of minor demigods; śrī-niketam — from Lord Kṛṣṇa, the abode of the goddess of fortune; anujñāpya — taking leave; śaṁsantaḥ — praising; prayayuḥ — they departed; kratum — the sacrificial performance.
With opulent gifts he honored his relatives, including all their wives and children; the royalty of the Vidarbha, Kosala, Kuru, Kāśī, Kekaya and Sṛñjaya kingdoms; the officiating members of the assembly; and also the priests, witnessing demigods, humans, spirits, forefathers and Cāraṇas. Then, taking permission from Lord Kṛṣṇa, the shelter of the goddess of fortune, the various guests departed as they all chanted the glories of Vasudeva’s sacrifice.

SB 10.84.57-58

dhṛtarāṣṭro ’nujaḥ pārthā
 bhīṣmo droṇaḥ pṛthā yamau
nārado bhagavān vyāsaḥ
bandhūn pariṣvajya yadūn
yayur viraha-kṛcchreṇa
 sva-deśāṁś cāpare janāḥ
dhṛtarāṣṭraḥ — Dhṛtarāṣṭra; anujaḥ — (Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s) younger brother (Vidura); pārthāḥ — the sons of Pṛthā (Yudhiṣṭhira, Bhīma and Arjuna); bhīṣmaḥ — Bhīṣma; droṇaḥ — Droṇa; pṛthā — Kuntī; yamau — the twins (Nakula and Sahadeva); nāradaḥ — Nārada; bhagavān vyāsaḥ — the Personality of Godhead Vyāsadeva; suhṛt — friends; sambandhi — immediate family members; bāndhavāḥ — and other relatives; bandhūn — their relatives and friends; pariṣvajya — embracing; yadūn — the Yadus; sauhṛda — out of feelings of friendship; āklinna — melting; cetasaḥ — their hearts; yayuḥ — they went; viraha — because of becoming separated; kṛcchreṇa — with difficulty; sva — to their respective; deśān — kingdoms; ca — also; apare — the other; janāḥ — people.
The Yadus were all embraced by their friends, close family members and other relatives, including Dhṛtarāṣṭra and his younger brother, Vidura; Pṛthā and her sons; Bhīṣma; Droṇa; the twins Nakula and Sahadeva; Nārada; and Vedavyāsa, the Personality of Godhead. Their hearts melting with affection, these and the other guests left for their kingdoms, their progress slowed by the pain of separation.

SB 10.84.59

nandas tu saha gopālair
 bṛhatyā pūjayārcitaḥ
 nyavātsīd bandhu-vatsalaḥ
nandaḥ — Nanda Mahārāja; tu — and; saha — together with; gopālaiḥ — the cowherds; bṛhatyā — especially opulent; pūjayā — with worship; arcitaḥ — honored; kṛṣṇa-rāma-ugrasena-ādyaiḥ — by Kṛṣṇa, Balarāma, Ugrasena and the others; nyavātsīt — stayed; bandhu — to his relatives; vatsalaḥ — affectionate.
Nanda Mahārāja showed his affection for his relatives, the Yadus, by remaining with them a little longer, together with his cowherds. During his stay, Kṛṣṇa, Balarāma, Ugrasena and the others honored him with especially opulent worship.

SB 10.84.60

vasudevo ’ñjasottīrya
suhṛd-vṛtaḥ prīta-manā
 nandam āha kare spṛśan
vasudevaḥ — Vasudeva; añjasā — easily; uttīrya — having crossed over; manaḥ-ratha — of his desires (to perform Vedic sacrifices); mahā — great; arṇavam — the ocean; suhṛt — by his well-wishers; vṛtaḥ — surrounded; prīta — pleased; manāḥ — in his mind; nandam — to Nanda; āha — he spoke; kare — his hand; spṛśan — touching.
Having so easily crossed over the vast ocean of his ambition, Vasudeva felt fully satisfied. In the company of his many well-wishers, he took Nanda by the hand and addressed him as follows.

SB 10.84.61

śrī-vasudeva uvāca
bhrātar īśa-kṛtaḥ pāśo
 nṛnāṁ yaḥ sneha-saṁjñitaḥ
taṁ dustyajam ahaṁ manye
 śūrāṇām api yoginām
śrī-vasudevaḥ uvāca — Śrī Vasudeva said; bhrātaḥ — O brother; īśa — by the Supreme Lord; kṛtaḥ — made; pāśaḥ — the noose; nṛṇām — of men; yaḥ — which; sneha — affection; saṁjñitaḥ — named; tam — it; dustyajam — difficult to free oneself from; aham — I; manye — think; śūrāṇām — for heroes; api — even; yoginām — and for yogīs.
Śrī Vasudeva said: My dear brother, God Himself has tied the knot called affection, which tightly binds human beings together. It seems to me that even great heroes and mystics find it very difficult to free themselves from it.

Heroic leaders of men try to transcend their petty attachments by force of will, while introspective yogīs pursue knowledge for the same purpose. But the Lord’s illusory energy, Māyā, is much stronger than any conditioned soul. Only by taking shelter of Kṛṣṇa, the Lord of Māyā, can one become immune to her influence.

SB 10.84.62

asmāsv apratikalpeyaṁ
 yat kṛtājñeṣu sattamaiḥ
maitry arpitāphalā cāpi
 na nivarteta karhicit
asmāsu — to us; apratikalpā — incomparable; iyam — this; yat — since; kṛta-ajñeṣu — who are oblivious of the mercy that has been shown them; sat-tamaiḥ — by those who are most saintly; maitrī — friendship; arpitā — offered; aphalā — unreciprocated; ca api — even though; na nivarteta — it does not cease; karhicit — ever.
Indeed, the Supreme Lord must have created the bonds of affection, for such exalted saints as you have never stopped showing matchless friendship toward us ingrates, although it has never been properly reciprocated.

SB 10.84.63

prāg akalpāc ca kuśalaṁ
 bhrātar vo nācarāma hi
adhunā śrī-madāndhākṣā
 na paśyāmaḥ puraḥ sataḥ
prāk — previously; akalpāt — because of incapacity; ca — and; kuśalam — welfare; bhrātaḥ — O brother; vaḥ — your; na ācarāma — we did not carry out; hi — indeed; adhunā — now; śrī — with opulence; mada — due to the intoxication; andha — blinded; akṣāḥ — whose eyes; na paśyāmaḥ — we fail to see; puraḥ — in front; sataḥ — present.
Previously, dear brother, we did nothing to benefit you because we were unable to, yet even now that you are present before us, our eyes are so blinded by the intoxication of material good fortune that we continue to ignore you.

While living under the tyranny of Kaṁsa, Vasudeva was unable to do anything to help Nanda and his subjects defend themselves against the many demons sent from Mathurā to kill Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma.

SB 10.84.64

mā rājya-śrīr abhūt puṁsaḥ
 śreyas-kāmasya māna-da
sva-janān uta bandhūn vā
 na paśyati yayāndha-dṛk
— may not; rājya — royal; śrīḥ — fortune; abhūt — arise; puṁsaḥ — for a person; śreyaḥ — the real benefit of life; kāmasya — who desires; māna-da — O giver of respect; sva-janān — his kinsmen; uta — even; bandhūn — his friends; — or; na paśyati — he does not see; yayā — by which (opulence); andha — blinded; dṛk — whose vision.
O most respectful one, may a person who wants the highest benefit in life never gain kingly opulence, for it leaves him blind to the needs of his own family and friends.

It is, of course, out of his deep humility that Vasudeva is berating himself, but his condemnation of opulence is in general valid. Earlier in this canto Nārada Muni delivered a stinging criticism of Nalakūvara and Maṇigrīva, two wealthy sons of Kuvera, the treasurer of heaven. Intoxicated by both pride and liquor, the two had failed to offer proper respects to Nārada when he happened upon them as they sported naked in the Mandākinī River with some young women. Seeing them in their shameful condition, Nārada said,

na hy anyo juṣato joṣyān
 buddhi-bhraṁśo rajo-guṇaḥ
śrī-madād ābhijātyādir
 yatra strī dyūtam āsavaḥ

“Among all the attractions of material enjoyment, the attraction of riches bewilders one’s intelligence more than having beautiful bodily features, taking birth in an aristocratic family, and being learned. When one is uneducated but falsely puffed up by wealth, the result is that one engages his wealth in enjoying wine, women and gambling.” (Bhāg. 10.10.8)

SB 10.84.65

śrī-śuka uvāca
evaṁ sauhṛda-śaithilya-
 citta ānakadundubhiḥ
ruroda tat-kṛtāṁ maitrīṁ
 smarann aśru-vilocanaḥ
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca — Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; evam — thus; sauhṛda — by intimate sympathy; śaithilya — made soft; cittaḥ — whose heart; ānakadundubhiḥ — Vasudeva; ruroda — cried; tat — by him (Nanda); kṛtām — done; maitrīm — the acts of friendship; smaran — remembering; aśru — tears; vilocanaḥ — in whose eyes.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: His heart softened by feelings of intimate sympathy, Vasudeva wept. His eyes brimmed with tears as he remembered the friendship Nanda had shown him.

SB 10.84.66

nandas tu sakhyuḥ priya-kṛt
 premṇā govinda-rāmayoḥ
adya śva iti māsāṁs trīn
 yadubhir mānito ’vasat
nandaḥ — Nanda; tu — and; sakhyuḥ — to his friend; priya — affection; kṛt — who showed; premṇā — out of his love; govinda-rāmayoḥ — for Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma; adya — (I will go later) today; śvaḥ — (I will go) tomorrow; iti — thus saying; māsān — months; trīn — three; yadubhiḥ — by the Yadus; mānitaḥ — honored; avasat — he remained.
And on his part, Nanda was also full of affection for his friend Vasudeva. Thus during the following days Nanda would repeatedly announce, “I will be leaving later today” and “I will be leaving tomorrow.” But out of love for Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma he remained there for three more months, honored by all the Yadus.

After settling that he would leave first thing in the morning, Nanda would then decide, “I’ll go later today,” and then, when the afternoon came, he would say, “I’ll just stay until tomorrow.” Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī suggests one possible reason for his procrastination: Nanda secretly intended to bring Kṛṣṇa back with him to Vraja but did not want to break Vasudeva’s heart. Thus his indecision continued for three months.

SB 10.84.67-68

tataḥ kāmaiḥ pūryamāṇaḥ
 sa-vrajaḥ saha-bāndhavaḥ
dattam ādāya pāribarhaṁ
 yāpito yadubhir yayau
tataḥ — then; kāmaiḥ — with desirable objects; pūryamāṇaḥ — satiated; sa-vrajaḥ — with the people of Vraja; saha-bāndhavaḥ — with his family members; para — extremely; ardhya — valuable; ābharaṇa — with ornaments; kṣauma — fine linen; nānā — various; anarghya — priceless; paricchadaiḥ — and household furnishings; vasudeva-ugrasenābhyām — by Vasudeva and Ugrasena; kṛṣṇa-uddhava-bala-ādibhiḥ — and by Kṛṣṇa, Uddhava, Balarāma and others; dattam — given; ādāya — taking; pāribarham — the gifts; yāpitaḥ — seen off; yadubhiḥ — by the Yadus; yayau — he departed.
Then, after Vasudeva, Ugrasena, Kṛṣṇa, Uddhava, Balarāma and others had fulfilled his desires and presented him with precious ornaments, fine linen and varieties of priceless household furnishings, Nanda Mahārāja accepted all these gifts and took his leave. Seen off by all the Yadus, he departed with his family members and the residents of Vraja.

According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī, at the end of the three months Mahārāja Nanda approached Kṛṣṇa and told Him, “My dear son, for one drop of perspiration from Your divine face I am ready to give up countless lives. Let us leave now for Vraja; I cannot spend any more time here.” Then he went to Vasudeva and told him, “My dear friend, please send Kṛṣṇa to Vraja,” and of King Ugrasena he requested, “Please order my friend to do this. If you refuse, I will have to drown myself here in Lord Paraśurāma’s lake. Just watch, if you do not believe me! We people of Vraja came to this holy place not to gain some piety on the occasion of the solar eclipse, but to get Kṛṣṇa back or die.” Hearing these desperate words from Nanda, Vasudeva and the others tried to pacify him with valuable gifts.

Well-versed in the arts of diplomacy, Vasudeva consulted with his most trustworthy advisors and then satisfied Śrī Nanda by telling him, “My dearest friend, O King of Vraja, it is of course true that none of you can live without Kṛṣṇa. And how can we allow you to kill yourselves? Therefore, by all means I must send Kṛṣṇa back to Vraja. I will do so right after we accompany Him and His relatives and friends — among them many helpless women — back to Dvārakā. Then, the very next day, without trying to obstruct Him in any way, I will let Him leave for Vraja at an auspicious time of the day. This I swear to you a thousand times over. After all, how can we who came here with Kṛṣṇa go home without Him? What will people say about us? You are a great scholar in all matters, so please forgive me for making this request of you.”

Next Ugrasena addressed Nanda Mahārāja: “My dear master of Vraja, I bear witness to Vasudeva’s statement and take this solemn vow: I will send Kṛṣṇa back to Vraja even if I have to do it by force.”

Then Lord Kṛṣṇa, joined by Uddhava and Balarāma, spoke to Nanda in private. He said, “Dear father, if I go directly to Vraja today, leaving aside all these Vṛṣṇis, they will die from the pain of separation from Me. Then many thousands of enemies more powerful than even Keśī and Ariṣṭa will come to annihilate all these kings.

“Since I am omniscient, I know what is inevitably going to happen to Me. Listen and I will describe it to you. After returning to Dvārakā, I will receive an invitation from Yudhiṣṭhira and will go to Indraprastha to participate in his Rājasūya sacrifice. There I will kill Śiśupāla, after which I will again return to Dvārakā and kill Śālva. Next I will travel to a place just south of Mathurā to save you by killing Dantavakra. I will then go back to Vraja, see all My old friends and again sit in your lap with great pleasure. Indeed, with great happiness I will spend the rest of My life with you. God has written this fate on My forehead, and it has been written on your foreheads that until the day I return you must tolerate separation from Me. Neither of our destinies can possibly be changed, so please find the courage to leave Me here for now and go home to Vraja.

“And if, in the meantime, you, My dear parents, and you, My beloved friends, are distressed by the unavoidable fate written on our foreheads, then whenever you wish to feed Me some delicacy or play some game with Me or simply see Me, just close your eyes and I will appear before you to turn your torment into sky-flowers and fulfill all your desires. I promise you this, and the young friends of Mine whose lives I saved in a forest fire can vouch for it.”

Convinced by all these arguments that his son’s happiness was of prime importance, Nanda accepted the gifts offered him and took his leave, accompanied by the Yadus’ large army.

SB 10.84.69

nando gopās’ ca gopyaś ca
manaḥ kṣiptaṁ punar hartum
 anīśā mathurāṁ yayuḥ
nandaḥ — Nanda; gopāḥ — the cowherd men; ca — and; gopyaḥ — the cowherd women; ca — also; govinda — of Kṛṣṇa; caraṇa-ambuje — at the lotus feet; manaḥ — their minds; kṣiptam — cast; punaḥ — again; hartum — to remove; anīśāḥ — incapable; mathurām — to Mathurā; yayuḥ — they went.
Unable to withdraw their minds from Lord Govinda’s lotus feet, where they had surrendered them, Nanda and the cowherd men and women returned to Mathurā.

SB 10.84.70

bandhuṣu pratiyāteṣu
 vṛṣṇayaḥ kṛṣṇa-devatāḥ
vīkṣya prāvṛṣam āsannād
 yayur dvāravatīṁ punaḥ
bandhuṣu — their relatives; pratiyāteṣu — having departed; vṛṣṇayaḥ — the Vṛṣṇis; kṛṣṇa-devatāḥ — whose worshipable Deity was Kṛṣṇa; vīkṣya — seeing; prāvṛṣam — the rainy season; āsannāt — imminent; yayuḥ — went; dvāravatīm — to Dvārakā; punaḥ — again.
Their relatives having thus departed, and seeing that the rainy season was approaching, the Vṛṣṇis, whose only Lord was Kṛṣṇa, went back to Dvārakā.

SB 10.84.71

janebhyaḥ kathayāṁ cakrur
yad āsīt tīrtha-yātrāyāṁ
janebhyaḥ — to the people; kathayām cakruḥ — they related; yadu-deva — of the lord of the Yadus, Vasudeva; mahā-utsavam — the great festivity; yat — what; āsīt — occurred; tīrtha-yātrāyām — during their pilgrimage; suhṛt — of their well-wishing friends; sandarśana — the seeing; ādikam — and so on.
They told the people of the city about the festive sacrifices performed by Vasudeva, lord of the Yadus, and about everything else that had happened during their pilgrimage, especially how they had met with all their loved ones.

Thus end the purports of the humble servants of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda to the Tenth Canto, Eighty-fourth Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled “The Sages’ Teachings at Kurukṣetra.”