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The Deliverance of Mucukunda

When Kṛṣṇa came out of the city, Kālayavana, who had never seen Kṛṣṇa before, saw Him to be extraordinarily beautiful, dressed in yellow garments. Passing through Kālayavana’s assembly of soldiers, Kṛṣṇa appeared like the moon in the sky passing through the assembled clouds. Kālayavana was fortunate enough to see the lines of Śrīvatsa, a particular impression on the chest of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and the Kaustubha jewel He was wearing. Kālayavana saw Him, however, in His Viṣṇu form, with a well-built body, four hands, and eyes like the petals of a newly blooming lotus. Kṛṣṇa appeared blissful, with a handsome forehead and beautiful smiling face, restless eyebrows and moving earrings. Before seeing Kṛṣṇa, Kālayavana had heard about Him from Nārada, and now the descriptions of Nārada were confirmed. Kālayavana noticed Kṛṣṇa’s specific marks and the jewels on His chest, His beautiful garland of lotus flowers, His lotuslike eyes and similar beautiful bodily features. He concluded that this beautiful personality must be Vāsudeva, for every description he had previously heard from Nārada was substantiated by the presence of Kṛṣṇa. Kālayavana was astonished to see Kṛṣṇa passing through his army without any weapon in His hands and without any chariot. He was simply walking on foot. Kālayavana had come to fight with Kṛṣṇa, and yet he had sufficient principles not to take up any kind of weapon. He decided to fight with Him hand to hand. Thus he prepared to capture Kṛṣṇa and fight.

Kṛṣṇa, however, went ahead without looking at Kālayavana. Kālayavana followed Him with a desire to capture Him, but in spite of his swift running, he could not capture Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa cannot be captured even by great yogīs traveling at the speed of the mind. He can be captured only by those who follow the path of devotional service, and Kālayavana was not practiced in devotional service. He wanted to capture Kṛṣṇa, and since he could not do so he followed Him from behind.

Kālayavana began running very fast, thinking, “Now I am nearer; I will capture Him,” but he could not. Kṛṣṇa led him far away and entered the cave of a hill. Kālayavana thought that Kṛṣṇa was trying to avoid fighting him and was therefore taking shelter of the cave. He rebuked Him with the following words: “O Kṛṣṇa! I heard that You are a great hero born in the dynasty of Yadu, but I see that You are running away from fighting, like a coward. It is not worthy of Your good name and family tradition.” Kālayavana was following, running very fast, but still he could not catch Kṛṣṇa because he was not freed from all contaminations of sinful life.

According to Vedic culture, anyone who does not follow the regulative principles observed by the higher castes (the brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas and vaiśyas) or even those observed by the laborer class (the śūdras) is called a mleccha or yavana. The Vedic social situation is so planned that persons accepted as śūdras can gradually be elevated to the position of brāhmaṇas by the cultural advancement known as saṁskāra, or the purificatory process. The verdict of the Vedic scriptures is that no one becomes a brāhmaṇa or a mleccha simply by birth; by birth everyone is accepted as a śūdra. One has to elevate himself by the purificatory process to the stage of brahminical life. If he doesn’t, if he degrades himself further, he is then called a mleccha or yavana. Kālayavana belonged to the class of mlecchas and yavanas. Contaminated by sinful activities, he could not approach Kṛṣṇa. The principles from which higher-class men are restricted, namely illicit sexual indulgence, meat-eating, gambling and intoxication, are an integral part of the lives of the mlecchas and yavanas. Being bound by such sinful activities, one cannot make any advancement in God realization. The Bhagavad-gītā confirms that only one who is completely freed from all sinful reactions can engage in devotional service, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

When Kṛṣṇa entered the cave of the hill, Kālayavana followed, chastising Him with various harsh words. Kṛṣṇa suddenly disappeared from the demon’s sight, but Kālayavana followed and also entered the cave. The first thing he saw was a man lying down asleep within the cave. Kālayavana was eager to fight with Kṛṣṇa, and when he could not see Kṛṣṇa but instead saw only a man lying down, he thought that Kṛṣṇa was sleeping within this cave. Kālayavana was very much puffed up and proud of his strength, and he thought Kṛṣṇa was avoiding the fight. Therefore, he strongly kicked the sleeping man, thinking him to be Kṛṣṇa. The sleeping man had been lying down for a very long time. When awakened by the kicking of Kālayavana, he immediately opened his eyes and began to look around in all directions. At last he saw Kālayavana standing nearby. The man had been untimely awakened and was therefore very angry, and when he looked upon Kālayavana in his angry mood, rays of fire emanated from his eyes, and Kālayavana burned to ashes within a moment.

When Mahārāja Parīkṣit heard this incident of Kālayavana’s being burned to ashes, he inquired about the sleeping man from Śukadeva Gosvāmī: “Who was he? Why was he sleeping there? How had he achieved so much power that instantly, by his glance, Kālayavana was burned to ashes? How did he happen to be lying down in the cave of the hill?” He put many questions before Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and Śukadeva answered as follows.

“My dear king, this person was born in the very great family of King Ikṣvāku, in which Lord Rāmacandra was also born, and he happened to be the son of a great king known as Māndhātā. He himself was also a great soul and was known popularly as Mucukunda. King Mucukunda was a strict follower of the Vedic principles of brahminical culture, and he was truthful to his promise. He was so powerful that even demigods like Indra used to ask him to help in fighting the demons, and as such he often fought against the demons to protect the demigods.”

The commander in chief of the demigods, known as Kārttikeya, was satisfied with the fighting of King Mucukunda, but once he asked that the king, having taken too much trouble in fighting the demons, retire from fighting and take rest. Kārttikeya addressed King Mucukunda: “My dear king, you have sacrificed everything for the sake of the demigods. You had a very nice kingdom, undisturbed by any kind of enemy. But you left that kingdom, neglected your opulence and possessions, and never cared for fulfillment of your personal ambitions. Due to your long absence from your kingdom while fighting the demons on behalf of the demigods, your queen, your children, your relatives and your ministers have all passed away in due course of time. Time and tide wait for no man. Now even if you return to your home, you will find no one living there. The influence of time is very strong. Time is so powerful because it is a representation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; time is therefore stronger than the strongest. The influence of time can effect changes in subtle things without difficulty. No one can check the progress of time. As an animal tamer tames animals according to his will, time also adjusts things according to its own will. No one can supersede the arrangement made by supreme time.”

Thus addressing Mucukunda, the demigod requested him to ask any benediction he might be pleased with, except the benediction of liberation. Liberation cannot be awarded by any living entity but the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu. Therefore another name of Lord Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa is Mukunda, “He who can award liberation.”

King Mucukunda had not slept for many, many years. He was engaged in the duty of fighting, and therefore he was very tired. So when the demigod offered a benediction, Mucukunda simply thought of sleeping. He replied as follows: “My dear Kārttikeya, best of the demigods, I want to sleep now, and I want from you the following benediction. Grant me the power to burn to ashes, by my mere glance, anyone who disturbs my sleep and awakens me untimely. Please give me this benediction.” The demigod agreed and also gave him the benediction that he would be able to take complete rest. Then King Mucukunda entered the cave of the mountain.

On the strength of the benediction of Kārttikeya, Mucukunda burned Kālayavana to ashes simply by glancing at him. When the incident was over, Kṛṣṇa came before King Mucukunda. Kṛṣṇa had actually entered the cave to deliver King Mucukunda because of his austerity, but Kṛṣṇa did not appear before him first. He arranged that first Kālayavana should come before him. That is the way of the activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead: He does one thing in such a way that many other purposes are served. He wanted to deliver King Mucukunda, who was sleeping in the cave, and at the same time He wanted to kill Kālayavana, who had attacked Mathurā City. By this action He served all purposes.

When Lord Kṛṣṇa appeared before Mucukunda, the king saw Him dressed in a yellow garment, His chest marked with the symbol of Śrīvatsa, and the Kaustubha jewel hanging around His neck. Kṛṣṇa appeared before him with four hands, as viṣṇu-mūrti, with a garland called Vaijayantī hanging from His neck down to His knees. He looked lustrous, His face was beautifully smiling, and He wore nice jeweled earrings on His ears. Kṛṣṇa appeared more beautiful than a human can conceive. Not only did He appear in this feature, but He glanced over Mucukunda with great affection, attracting the king’s mind. Although He was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the oldest of all, He looked like a fresh young boy, and His movements were just like those of a free deer. Still, He appeared extremely powerful; His influence and vast power are so great that every human being should be afraid of Him.

When King Mucukunda saw Kṛṣṇa’s magnificent features, he wondered about His identity, and with great humility he asked the Lord, “My dear Lord, may I inquire how it is that You happened to be in the cave of this mountain? Who are You? I can see that Your feet are just like soft lotus flowers. How could You walk in the forest, full of thorns and pebbles? I am simply surprised to see this! Are You not, therefore, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the most powerful amongst the powerful? Are You not the original source of all illumination and fire? Can I consider You one of the great demigods, like the sun god, the moon god or Indra, king of heaven? Or are You the predominating deity of some other planet?”

Mucukunda knew well that every higher planetary system has a predominating deity. He was not ignorant like modern men who think that this planet earth is full of living entities and all others are vacant. The inquiry from Mucukunda about Kṛṣṇa’s being the predominating deity of a planet unknown to him is quite appropriate. Because he was a pure devotee of the Lord, King Mucukunda could immediately understand that Lord Kṛṣṇa, who had appeared before him in such an opulent feature, could not be one of the predominating deities of the material planets. He must be the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, who has many Viṣṇu forms. Mucukunda therefore took Him to be Puruṣottama, Lord Viṣṇu. He could see also that the dense darkness within the mountain cave had been dissipated by the Lord’s presence; therefore He could not be other than the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Mucukunda knew very well that wherever the Lord is personally present by His transcendental name, qualities, form and so on, there cannot be any darkness of ignorance. He is like a lamp placed in the darkness; He immediately illuminates a dark place.

King Mucukunda was eager to know the identity of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and therefore he said, “O best of human beings, if You think I am fit to know Your identity, kindly tell me who You are. What is Your parentage? What is Your occupational duty, and what is Your family tradition?” King Mucukunda thought it wise, however, to identify himself to the Lord first; otherwise he had no right to ask the Lord’s identity. Etiquette is such that a person of less importance cannot ask the identity of a person of higher importance without first disclosing his own identity. King Mucukunda therefore told Lord Kṛṣṇa, “My dear Lord, let me first inform You of my identity. I belong to the most celebrated dynasty of King Ikṣvāku, but personally I am not as great as my forefather. My name is Mucukunda. My father’s name was Māndhātā, and my grandfather was the great king Yuvanāśva. I was very much fatigued due to not resting for many thousands of years, and because of this all my bodily limbs were slack and almost incapable of acting. To revive my energy, I was taking rest in this solitary cave, but I have been awakened by some unknown man who has forced me to wake up although I was not willing to do so. For such an offensive act, I have burned this person to ashes simply by glancing over him. Fortunately, now I can see You in this grand and beautiful feature. I think, therefore, that You are the cause of my killing my enemy. My dear Lord, I must admit that due to Your bodily effulgence, unbearable to my eyes, I cannot see You properly. I can fully realize that the influence of Your effulgence has diminished my power. I can understand that You are quite fit for being worshiped by all living entities.”

Seeing King Mucukunda eager to know about His identity, Lord Kṛṣṇa answered smilingly as follows: “My dear king, it is practically impossible to tell about My birth, appearance, disappearance and activities. Perhaps you know that My incarnation Anantadeva has unlimited mouths, and for an unlimited time He has been trying to narrate fully about My name, fame, qualities, activities, appearance, disappearance and incarnations, but still He has not been able to finish. Therefore, it is not possible to know exactly how many names and forms I possess. It may be possible for a material scientist to estimate the number of atomic particles which make up this earthly planet, but the scientist cannot enumerate My unlimited names, forms and activities. Many great sages and saintly persons have tried to list My different forms and activities, yet they have failed to make a complete list. But since you are so eager to know about Me, I may inform you that I have now appeared on this planet just to annihilate the demoniac principles of the people in general and reestablish the religious principles enjoined in the Vedas. I have been invited for this purpose by Brahmā, the superintending deity of this universe, and thus I have now appeared in the dynasty of the Yadus as one of their family members. I have specifically taken My birth as the son of Vasudeva in the Yadu dynasty, and people therefore know Me as Vāsudeva, the son of Vasudeva. You may also know that I have killed Kaṁsa, who in a previous life was known as Kālanemi, as well as Pralambāsura and many other demons. They have acted as My enemies, and I have killed them. The demon who was present before you also acted as My enemy, and you have very kindly burned him to ashes by glancing over him. My dear King Mucukunda, you are My great devotee, and just to show you My causeless mercy I have appeared in this cave. I am very affectionately inclined toward My devotees, and in your previous life, before your present condition, you acted as My great devotee and prayed for My causeless mercy. I have therefore come to see you to fulfill your desire. Now you can see Me to your heart’s content. My dear king, now you may ask from Me any benediction you wish, and I am prepared to fulfill your desire. It is My eternal principle that anyone who comes under My shelter must have all his desires fulfilled by My grace.”

When Lord Kṛṣṇa ordered King Mucukunda to ask a benediction from Him, the king was joyful, and he immediately remembered the prediction of Garga Muni, who had foretold long before that in the twenty-eighth millennium of Vaivasvata Manu, Lord Kṛṣṇa would appear on this planet. As soon as he remembered this prediction, he understood that the Supreme Person, Nārāyaṇa, was present before Him as Lord Kṛṣṇa. He immediately fell down at His lotus feet and began to pray as follows.

“My dear Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, I can understand that all living entities on this planet are illusioned by Your external energy and enamored of the illusory satisfaction of sense gratification. Being fully engaged in illusory activities, they are reluctant to worship Your lotus feet, and because they are unaware of the benefits of surrendering unto Your lotus feet, they are subjected to various miserable conditions of material existence. They are foolishly attached to so-called society, friendship and love, which merely produce different kinds of miseries. Illusioned by Your external energy, everyone, whether man or woman, is attached to this material existence, and all are engaged in cheating one another in a great society of the cheaters and the cheated. These foolish persons, not knowing how fortunate they are to have obtained this human form of life, are reluctant to worship Your lotus feet. By the influence of Your external energy, they are attached to the glare of material activities, to so-called society, friendship and love, like dumb animals that have fallen into a dark well.” The example of a dark well is given because in the fields there are many wells, unused for years and covered over by grass, and poor animals, not knowing of them, fall into them, and unless rescued they die. Being captivated by a few blades of grass, the animals fall into a dark well and meet death. Similarly, foolish persons, without knowing the importance of the human form of life, spoil it simply for sense gratification and die without any useful purpose.

“My dear Lord, I am not an exception to this universal law of material nature. I am also a foolish person who has wasted his time for nothing. And my position is especially difficult. On account of my being situated in the royal order, I was more puffed up than ordinary persons. An ordinary man thinks he is the proprietor of his body or his family, but I began to think in that way on a larger scale. I wanted to be the master of the whole world, and as I became puffed up with ideas of sense gratification, my bodily concept of life became stronger and stronger. My attachment for home, wife and children, for money and supremacy over the world, became more and more acute; in fact, it was limitless. So I remained always attached to thoughts of my material living conditions.

“Therefore, my dear Lord, I wasted so much of my valuable lifetime with no benefit. As my misconception of life intensified, I began to think of this material body, which is just a bag of flesh and bones, as the all in all, and in my vanity I believed I had become the king of human society. In this misconception of bodily life I traveled all over the world, accompanied by my military strength – soldiers, charioteers, elephants and horses. Assisted by many commanders and puffed up by power, I could not trace out Your Lordship, who always sit within my heart as the most intimate friend. I did not care for You, and this was the fault of my so-called exalted material condition. I think that, like me, all living creatures are careless about spiritual realization and are always full of anxieties, thinking, ‘What is to be done? What is next?’ But because we are strongly bound by material desires, we continue to remain in craziness.

“Yet in spite of our being so absorbed in material thought, inevitable time, which is only a form of Yourself, is always careful about its duty, and as soon as the allotted time is over, Your Lordship immediately ends all the activities of our material dreams. As the time factor, You end all our activities, as a hungry black snake swiftly swallows up a small rat without leniency. Due to the action of cruel time, the royal body which was always decorated with golden ornaments during life and which moved on a chariot drawn by beautiful horses or on the back of an elephant nicely decorated with golden ornaments, and which was advertised as the king of human society – that same royal body decomposes under the influence of inevitable time and becomes fit for being eaten by worms and insects or being turned into ashes or the stool of an animal. This beautiful body may be recognized as a royal body while in the living condition, but after death the body of even a king is eaten by an animal and therefore turned into stool or is cremated in a crematorium and turned into ashes or is put into an earthly grave, where different kinds of worms and insects are produced of it.

“My dear Lord, we come under the full control of this inevitable time not only after death but also, in a different way, while living. For example, I may be a powerful king, and yet when I come home after conquering the world I become subjected to many material conditions. When I come back victorious, all subordinate kings may come and offer their respects, but as soon as I enter the inner section of my palace, I myself become an instrument in the hands of the queens, and for sense gratification I have to fall down at the feet of women. The material way of life is so complicated that before taking the enjoyment of material life one has to work so hard that there is scarcely an opportunity for peacefully enjoying. And to attain all material facilities one has to undergo severe austerities and penances and be elevated to the heavenly planets. If one gets the opportunity to take birth in a very rich or royal family, even then he is always anxious to maintain the status quo and prepare for the next life by performing various sacrifices and distributing charity. Even in royal life one is full of anxieties, not only because of political administration but also in regard to being elevated to the heavenly planets.

“It is therefore very difficult to get out of material entanglement, but if one is somehow or other favored by You, by Your mercy alone he is given the opportunity to associate with a pure devotee. That is the beginning of liberation from the entanglement of material, conditioned life. My dear Lord, only by the association of pure devotees is one able to approach Your Lordship, who are the controller of both the material and the spiritual existences. You are the supreme goal of all pure devotees, and by association with pure devotees one can develop his dormant love for You. Therefore, development of Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the association of pure devotees is the cause of liberation from this material entanglement.

“My dear Lord, You are so merciful that in spite of my being reluctant to associate with Your pure devotees, You have shown Your extreme mercy upon me as a result of my slight contact with such a pure devotee as Garga Muni. By Your causeless mercy only have I lost all my material opulences, my kingdom and my family. I do not think I could have gotten rid of all these entanglements without Your causeless mercy. Kings and emperors sometimes accept the life of an ascetic to forget their royal life, but by Your special causeless mercy I have already been bereft of royalty. I do not need to become a mendicant or practice renunciation.

“My dear Lord, I therefore pray that I may simply be engaged in rendering transcendental loving service unto Your lotus feet. This is the ambition of pure devotees, who are freed from all material contamination. You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and You can offer me anything I want, including liberation. But who is such a fool that after pleasing You he would ask from You something which might cause entanglement in this material world? I do not think any sane man would ask such a benediction from You. I therefore surrender unto You because You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, You are the Supersoul living in everyone’s heart, and You are the impersonal Brahman effulgence. Moreover, You are also this material world, because this material world is only the manifestation of Your external energy. Therefore, from any angle of vision, You are the supreme shelter for everyone. Whether on the material plane or the spiritual plane, everyone must take shelter under Your lotus feet. I therefore submit unto You, my Lord.

“For many, many births I have been suffering from the threefold miseries of this material existence, and I am now tired of it. I have been impelled only by my senses, and I was never satisfied. I therefore take shelter of Your lotus feet, which are the source of all peaceful life and which can eradicate all lamentation caused by material contamination. My dear Lord, You are the Supersoul of everyone, and You can understand everything. Now I am free from all contamination of material desire. I do not wish to enjoy this material world, nor do I wish to take advantage of merging into Your spiritual effulgence, nor do I wish to meditate upon Your localized aspect of Paramātmā, for I know that simply by taking shelter of You, I shall become completely peaceful and undisturbed.”

On hearing this statement by King Mucukunda, Lord Kṛṣṇa replied, “My dear king, I am very much pleased with your statement. You have been the king of all the lands on this planet, but I am surprised to find that your mind is now freed from all material contamination. You are now fit to execute devotional service. I am most pleased to see that although I offered you the opportunity to ask from Me any kind of benediction, you did not take advantage of asking for material benefits. I can understand that your mind is now fixed in Me, and it is not disturbed by any material quality.”

The material qualities are three, namely goodness, passion and ignorance. When one is placed into the mixed material qualities of passion and ignorance, various kinds of greed and lusty desires impel him to try to find comfort in this material world. When situated in the material quality of goodness, one tries to purify himself by performing various penances and austerities. When one reaches the platform of a real brāhmaṇa, he aspires to merge into the existence of the Lord. But when one desires only to render service unto the lotus feet of the Lord, he is transcendental to all these three qualities. The pure Kṛṣṇa conscious person is therefore always free from all material qualities.

“My dear king,” Lord Kṛṣṇa continued, “I offered to give you any kind of benediction just to test how much you have advanced in devotional service. Now I can see that you are on the platform of the pure devotees, for your mind is not disturbed by any greedy or lusty desires of this material world. The yogīs who try to elevate themselves by controlling the senses and who meditate upon Me by practicing the breathing exercise of prāṇāyāma are not so thoroughly freed from material desires. It has been seen in several cases that as soon as there is allurement, such yogīs again come down to the material platform.”

The vivid example verifying this statement is Viśvāmitra Muni. Viśvāmitra Muni was a great yogī who practiced prāṇāyāma, a breathing exercise, but when he was visited by Menakā, a society woman of the heavenly planets, he lost all control and begot in her a daughter named Śakuntalā. But the pure devotee Haridāsa Ṭhākura was never disturbed, even when all such allurements were offered by a prostitute.

“My dear king,” Lord Kṛṣṇa continued, “I therefore give you the special benediction that you will always think of Me. Thus you will be able to traverse this material world freely, without being contaminated by the material qualities.” This statement by the Lord confirms that a person in true Kṛṣṇa consciousness, engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord under the direction of the spiritual master, is never subject to the contamination of material qualities.

“My dear king,” the Lord said, “because you are a kṣatriya, you have committed the offense of slaughtering animals, both in hunting and in political engagements. To become purified, just engage yourself in the practice of bhakti-yoga and always keep your mind absorbed in Me. Very soon you will be freed from all reactions to such sordid activities.” In this statement it appears that although kṣatriyas are allowed to kill animals in hunting, they are not freed from the resultant contamination of sinful reactions. Therefore, whether one is a kṣatriya, vaiśya or brāhmaṇa, one is recommended to take sannyāsa at the end of life, to engage himself completely in the service of the Lord and thus become freed from all sinful reactions of his past life.

The Lord then assured King Mucukunda, “In your next life you will take your birth as a first-class Vaiṣṇava, the best of brāhmaṇas, and in that life your only business will be to engage yourself in My transcendental service.” A Vaiṣṇava is a first-class brāhmaṇa because one who has not acquired the qualification of a bona fide brāhmaṇa cannot come to the platform of a Vaiṣṇava. When one becomes a Vaiṣṇava, he is completely engaged in welfare activities for all living entities. The highest welfare activity for living entities is the preaching of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is stated herein that those who are specifically favored by the Lord can become absolutely Kṛṣṇa conscious and be engaged in the work of preaching the Vaiṣṇava philosophy.

Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the fifty-first chapter of Kṛṣṇa, “The Deliverance of Mucukunda.”

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