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.
mādhavy atha kṣitipa-patnya uta sva-gopyaḥ
kṛṣṇe ’khilātmani harau praṇayānubandhaṁ
sarvā visismyur alam aśru-kalākulākṣyaḥ
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.
strībhiḥ strīṣu nṛbhir nṛṣu
āyayur munayas tatra
cyavano devalo ’sitaḥ
bharadvājo ’tha gautamaḥ
vasiṣṭho gālavo bhṛguḥ
pulastyaḥ kaśyapo ’triś ca
agastyo yājñavalkyaś ca
prāg āsīnā nṛpādayaḥ
pāṇḍavāḥ kṛṣṇa-rāmau ca
saha-rāmo ’cyuto ’rcayat
sadasas tasya mahato
labdhaṁ kārtsnyena tat-phalam
devānām api duṣprāpaṁ
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.
na devā mṛc-chilā-mayāḥ
te punanty uru-kālena
darśanād eva sādhavaḥ
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,
tīṛtha-bhūtāḥ svayaṁ vibho
“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)
na bhūr jalaṁ khaṁ śvasano ’tha vāṅ manaḥ
upāsitā bheda-kṛto haranty aghaṁ
vipaścito ghnanti muhūrta-sevayā
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.
sva-dhīḥ kalatrādiṣu bhauma ijya-dhīḥ
yat-tīrtha-buddhiḥ salile na karhicij
janeṣv abhijñeṣu sa eva go-kharaḥ
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
“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.
vaco duranvayaṁ viprās
tūṣṇīm āsan bhramad-dhiyaḥ
jana-saṅgraha ity ūcuḥ
smayantas taṁ jagad-gurum
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.
vimohitā viśva-sṛjām adhīśvarāḥ
yad īśitavyāyati gūḍha īhayā
aho vicitram bhagavad-viceṣṭitam
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.
sṛjaty avaty atti na badhyate yathā
bhaumair hi bhūmir bahu-nāma-rūpiṇī
aho vibhūmnaś caritaṁ viḍambanam
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.”
bibharṣi sattvaṁ khala-nigrahāya ca
sva-līlayā veda-pathaṁ sanātanaṁ
varṇāśramātmā puruṣaḥ paro bhavān
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.
yatropalabdhaṁ sad vyaktam
avyaktaṁ ca tataḥ param
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.
śāstra-yones tvam ātmanaḥ
sabhājayasi sad dhāma
tad brahmaṇyāgraṇīr bhavān
vidyāyās tapaso dṛśaḥ
tvayā saṅgamya sad-gatyā
yad antaḥ śreyasāṁ paraḥ
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.
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
“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)
ekārāmāś ca vṛṣṇayaḥ
ātmānaṁ kālam īśvaram
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.
na veda rahitaṁ param
na veda smṛty-upaplavāt
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
na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ
na ca mat-sthāni bhūtāni
paśya me yogam aiśvaram
bhūta-bhṛn na ca bhūta-stho
“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)
tīrthāspadaṁ hṛdi kṛtaṁ su-vipakva-yogaiḥ
āpur bhavad-gatim athānugṛhāna bhaktān
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.”
rājarṣe svāśramān gantuṁ
munayo dadhire manaḥ
ṛṣayaḥ śrotum arhatha
yathā syān nas tad ucyatām
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.”
kṛṣṇam matvārbhakaṁ yan naḥ
pṛcchati śreya ātmanaḥ
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.
gāṅgaṁ hitvā yathānyāmbhas
tatratyo yāti śuddhaye
svato ’nyasmāc ca guṇato
na kutaścana riṣyati
avyāhatānubhavam īśvaram advitīyam
prāṇādibhiḥ sva-vibhavair upagūḍham anyo
manyeta sūryam iva megha-himoparāgaiḥ
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.
sarveṣāṁ śṛṇvatāṁ rājñāṁ
yac chraddhayā yajed viṣṇuṁ
darśitaḥ su-gamo yogo
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.
kālena visṛjed budhaḥ
grāme tyaktaiṣaṇāḥ sarve
yayur dhīrās tapo-vanam
anistīrya tyajan patet
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.”
yajñair devarṇam unmucya
nirṛṇo ’śaraṇo bhava
bhaktyā paramayā harim
jagatām īśvaraṁ prārcaḥ
sa yad vāṁ putratāṁ gataḥ
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,
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)
tān ṛṣīn ṛtvijo vavre
mūrdhnānamya prasādya ca
vṛtā dharmeṇa dhārmikam
tasminn ayājayan kṣetre
snātāḥ su-vāsaso rājan
jaguḥ su-kaṇṭhyo gandharvyaḥ
aktam abhyaktam ṛtvijaḥ
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
devavān upadevaś ca
teṣāṁ svasāraḥ saptāsan
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, 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)
sa-sadasyā virejus te
yathā vṛtra-haṇo ’dhvare
svaiḥ svair bandhubhir anvitau
rejatuḥ sva-sutair dārair
prākṛtair vaikṛtair yajñair
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.”
yathāmnātaṁ sa dakṣiṇāḥ
caritvā te maharṣayaḥ
sasnū rāma-hrade viprā
vandibhyo ’dāt tathā striyaḥ
tataḥ sv-alaṅkṛto varṇān
ā-śvabhyo ’nnena pūjayat
śaṁsantaḥ prayayuḥ kratum
bhīṣmo droṇaḥ pṛthā yamau
nārado bhagavān vyāsaḥ
sva-deśāṁś cāpare janāḥ
nandam āha kare spṛśan
nṛnāṁ yaḥ sneha-saṁjñitaḥ
taṁ dustyajam ahaṁ manye
śūrāṇām api yoginām
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.
yat kṛtājñeṣu sattamaiḥ
maitry arpitāphalā cāpi
na nivarteta karhicit
bhrātar vo nācarāma hi
na paśyāmaḥ puraḥ sataḥ
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.
sva-janān uta bandhūn vā
na paśyati yayāndha-dṛk
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
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)
ruroda tat-kṛtāṁ maitrīṁ
adya śva iti māsāṁs trīn
yadubhir mānito ’vasat
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.
dattam ādāya pāribarhaṁ
yāpito yadubhir yayau
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.
manaḥ kṣiptaṁ punar hartum
anīśā mathurāṁ yayuḥ
vīkṣya prāvṛṣam āsannād
yayur dvāravatīṁ punaḥ
yad āsīt tīrtha-yātrāyāṁ
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.”