Sacrificial Ceremonies Performed by Vasudeva
Among the women present at Kurukṣetra during the solar eclipse were Kuntī, Gāndhārī, Draupadī, Subhadrā and the queens of many other kings, as well as the gopīs from Vṛndāvana. When the different queens of Lord Kṛṣṇa were submitting their statements as to how they had been married and accepted by Lord Kṛṣṇa as His wives, all the female members of the Kuru dynasty were struck with wonder. They were filled with admiration at how all the queens of Kṛṣṇa were attached to Him with love and affection. When they heard about the queens’ intensity of love and affection for Kṛṣṇa, they could not check their eyes from filling with tears.
While the women were engaged in conversations among themselves and the men were similarly engaged in conversation, there arrived from all directions almost all the important sages and ascetics, who had come for the purpose of seeing Lord Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. Chief among the sages were Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa, the great sage Nārada, Cyavana, Devala, Asita, Viśvāmitra, Śatānanda, Bharadvāja, Gautama, Lord Paraśurāma (along with His disciples), Vasiṣṭha, Gālava, Bhṛgu, Pulastya, Kaśyapa, Atri, Mārkaṇḍeya, Bṛhaspati, Dvita, Trita, Ekata, the four Kumāra sons of Brahmā (Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanātana and Sanat-kumāra), Aṅgirā, Agastya, Yājñavalkya and Vāmadeva.
As soon as the sages and ascetics arrived, all the kings, including Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira and the other Pāṇḍavas and Lord Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, immediately got up from their seats and offered respects by bowing down to the universally respected sages. After this, the sages were properly welcomed by being offered seats and water for washing their feet. Palatable fruits, garlands of flowers, incense and sandalwood pulp were presented, and all the kings, led by Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, worshiped the sages according to the Vedic rules and regulations. When all the sages were comfortably seated, Lord Kṛṣṇa, who descended for the protection of religion, began to address them on behalf of all the kings. When Kṛṣṇa began to speak, all became silent, being eager to hear and understand His welcoming words to the sages.
Lord Kṛṣṇa spoke thus: “All glories to the assembled sages and ascetics! Today we all feel that our lives have become successful. Today we have achieved the desired goal of life because we now see face to face all the exalted, liberated sages and ascetics, whom even the great demigods in the heavens desire to see. Persons who are neophytes in devotional service and who simply offer their respectful obeisances to the Deity in the temple but cannot realize that the Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, and those who simply worship different demigods for fulfillment of their own lusty desires, are unable to understand the importance of these sages. They cannot take advantage of receiving these sages by seeing them with their eyes, by touching their lotus feet, by inquiring about their welfare or by diligently worshiping them.”
Neophyte devotees or religionists cannot understand the importance of great mahātmās. They go to the temple as a matter of formality and pay their respectful obeisances unto the Deity. But when one is promoted to the next platform of transcendental consciousness, one can understand the importance of mahātmās and devotees, and in that stage one tries to please them. Therefore, Lord Kṛṣṇa said that the neophyte cannot understand the importance of great sages, devotees or ascetics.
Lord Kṛṣṇa continued, “One cannot purify himself merely by traveling to holy places of pilgrimage and taking a bath there or by seeing the demigods’ forms in the temples. But if one happens to meet a great devotee, a mahātmā who is a representative of the Personality of Godhead, one is immediately purified. To become purified, one is enjoined to worship the fire, the sun, the moon, the earth, the water, the air, the sky and the mind. By worshiping all the elements and their predominating deities, one can gradually become free from the influence of envy, but all the sins of an envious person can be nullified immediately simply by serving a great soul.
“My dear revered sages and respectable kings, you can take it from Me that a person who accepts this material body made of three elements – mucus, bile and air – as his own self, who considers his family and relatives his own, who accepts material things as worshipable, or who visits holy places of pilgrimage just to take a bath there but never associates with great personalities, sages and mahātmās – such a person, even though in the form of a human being, is nothing but an animal like an ass.”
When the supreme authority, Lord Kṛṣṇa, was thus speaking with great gravity, all the sages and ascetics remained in dead silence. They were amazed upon hearing Him speak the absolute philosophy of life in such a concise way. Unless one is very much advanced in knowledge, one thinks his body to be his self, his family members to be his own, and the land of his birth to be worshipable. From this concept of life, the modern ideology of nationalism has sprung up. Lord Kṛṣṇa condemned such ideas, and He also condemned persons who take the trouble to go to holy places of pilgrimage just to take a bath and come back without taking the opportunity to associate with the great devotees and mahātmās living there. Such persons are compared to the most foolish animal, the ass. All those who heard considered the speech of Lord Kṛṣṇa for some time, and they concluded that Lord Kṛṣṇa was actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead playing the role of an ordinary human being, who is forced to take a certain type of body as a result of the reactions of his past deeds. He was assuming this pastime as an ordinary human simply to teach the people in general how they should live for perfection of the human mission.
Having concluded that Kṛṣṇa was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the sages addressed Him thus: “Dear Lord, we, the leaders of human society, are supposed to possess the proper philosophy of life, yet we are bewildered by the spell of Your external energy. We are surprised to see Your behavior, which is just like that of an ordinary human being and which conceals Your real identity as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and we therefore consider Your pastimes to be all-wonderful.
“Our dear Lord, by Your own energy You create, maintain and annihilate the whole cosmic manifestation of different names and forms, in the same way that the earth creates many forms of stone, trees and other varieties of names and forms and yet remains the same. Although You create varieties of manifestations through Your energy, You are unaffected by all those actions. Our dear Lord, we are simply stunned to see Your wonderful acts. Although You are transcendental to this entire material creation and are the Supreme Lord and the Supersoul of all living entities, You appear on this earth by Your internal potency to protect Your devotees and destroy the miscreants. By such an appearance You reestablish the principles of eternal religion, which human society forgets by long association with the material energy. Our dear Lord, You are the creator of the social orders and spiritual statuses of human society according to quality and work, and when these orders are misguided by unscrupulous persons, You appear and set them right.
“Dear Lord, the Vedic knowledge is the representation of Your pure heart. Austerities, study of the Vedas, and meditative trances lead to different realizations of Your Self in Your manifested and nonmanifested aspects. The entire phenomenal world is a manifestation of Your impersonal energy, but You Yourself, as the original Personality of Godhead, are not manifested there. You are the Supreme Soul, the Supreme Brahman. Persons who are situated in brahminical culture, therefore, can understand the truth about Your transcendental form. Thus You always hold the brāhmaṇas in respect, and You are considered to be the topmost of all followers of brahminical culture. You are therefore known as brahmaṇya-deva. Our dear Lord, You are the last word in good fortune and the last resort of all saintly persons; therefore we all consider that we have achieved the perfection of our life, education, austerity and acquisition of transcendental knowledge by meeting You. Factually, You are the ultimate goal of all transcendental achievements.
“Our dear Lord, there is no end to Your unlimited knowledge. Your form is transcendental, eternally existing in full bliss and knowledge. You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Supreme Brahman, the Supreme Soul. Being covered by the spell of Your internal potency, yogamāyā, You are now temporarily concealing Your unlimited potencies, but still we can understand Your exalted position, and therefore all of us offer You our respectful obeisances. Dear Lord, You are enjoying Your pastimes in the role of a human being, concealing Your real character of transcendental opulence; therefore, none of the kings present here, even the members of the Yadu dynasty, who constantly mingle with You, eat with You and sit with You, can understand that You are the original cause of all causes, the soul of everyone, the original cause of all creation.
“When a person dreams at night, hallucinatory figures created by the dream are accepted as real, and the imaginary dream body is accepted as one’s real body. For the time being, one forgets that besides the body created in hallucination, there is another, real body in his awakened state. Similarly, in the awakened state also, the bewildered conditioned soul considers sense enjoyment to be real happiness.
“By the process of enjoying the senses of the material body, the spirit soul is covered, and his consciousness becomes materially contaminated. It is due to material consciousness that one cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa. All great mystic yogīs endeavor to revive their Kṛṣṇa consciousness by mature practice of the yoga system just to understand Your lotus feet. They meditate upon Your transcendental form to counteract their accumulated sinful reactions. It is said that the water of the Ganges can vanquish volumes of a person’s sinful reactions, but the Ganges water is glorious only due to Your lotus feet. The Ganges water flows as perspiration from the lotus feet of Your Lordship. And we are all so fortunate that today we have been able to see Your lotus feet directly. Dear Lord, we are all surrendered souls, devotees of Your Lordship; therefore, please be kind and bestow Your causeless mercy upon us. We know well that persons who have become liberated by constant engagement in Your devotional service are no longer contaminated by the material modes of nature; thus they have become eligible to be promoted to the kingdom of God in the spiritual world.”
After first offering prayers to Lord Kṛṣṇa, the assembled sages wanted to take permission from King Dhṛtarāṣṭra and King Yudhiṣṭhira and then depart for their respective āśramas. At that time, however, Vasudeva, the father of Lord Kṛṣṇa and the most celebrated of all pious men, approached the sages and with great humility offered his respects by falling down at their feet. Vasudeva said, “My dear great sages, you are more respected than the demigods. I therefore offer my respectful obeisances unto you. I wish for you to accept my one request, if you so desire. I shall consider it a great blessing if you kindly explain the supreme fruitive activity by which one can counteract the reactions of all other activities.”
The great sage Nārada was the leader of all the sages present. Therefore he began to speak. “My dear sages,” he said, “it is not very difficult to understand that because of his great goodness and simplicity, Vasudeva, who has become the father of the Personality of Godhead by accepting Kṛṣṇa as his son, is inclined to ask us about his welfare. It is said that familiarity breeds contempt. As such, Vasudeva, having Kṛṣṇa as his son, does not regard Kṛṣṇa with awe and veneration. Sometimes it is seen that persons living on the bank of the Ganges do not consider the Ganges very important, and they go far away to take their baths at a place of pilgrimage. There is no need for Vasudeva to ask us for instruction when Lord Kṛṣṇa is personally present, because His knowledge is never second in any circumstance. His knowledge is not affected by the process of creation, maintenance and annihilation, nor is it ever influenced by any agency beyond Himself, nor is it agitated by the interactions of the material qualities or changed in the course of time. His transcendental form is full of knowledge which never becomes agitated by ignorance, pride, attachment, envy or sense enjoyment. His knowledge is never subject to the laws of karma regarding pious or impious activities, nor is it influenced by the three modes of material energy. No one is greater than or equal to Him, because He is the supreme authority, the Personality of Godhead.
“The ordinary conditioned human being may think that the conditioned soul, who is covered by his materialistic senses, mind and intelligence, is equal to Kṛṣṇa, but Lord Kṛṣṇa is just like the sun, which, although it sometimes may appear to be so, is never covered by the cloud, snow or fog, or by other planets during an eclipse. When the eyes of less intelligent men are covered by such influences, they think the sun to be invisible. Similarly, persons who are influenced by senses addicted to material enjoyment cannot have a clear vision of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
The sages present then began to address Vasudeva in the presence of Lord Kṛṣṇa, Balarāma and many other kings, and, as requested by him, they gave their instructions: “To counteract the reactions of fruitive activities and the desires impelling one to fruitive activities, one must with faith and devotion execute the prescribed sacrifices meant for worshiping Lord Viṣṇu. Lord Viṣṇu is the beneficiary of the results of all sacrificial performances. Great personalities and sages who are able to see everything clearly through the eyes of the revealed scriptures and possess vision of the three phases of the time element, namely past, present and future, have unanimously recommended that to purify the dust of material contamination accumulated in the heart and to clear the path of liberation and thereby achieve transcendental bliss, one must please Lord Viṣṇu. For everyone living as a householder in one of the higher social orders (brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya and vaiśya), this worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Viṣṇu, who is known as Puruṣottama, the original person, is recommended as the only auspicious path.
“All conditioned souls within this material world have deep-rooted desires to lord it over the resources of material nature. Everyone wants to accumulate riches, everyone wants to enjoy life to the greatest extent, everyone wants a wife, home and children, and everyone wants to become happy in this world and be elevated to the heavenly planets in the next life. But these desires are the causes of one’s material bondage. Therefore, to get liberation from this bondage, one has to sacrifice his honestly earned riches for the satisfaction of Lord Viṣṇu.
“The only process to counteract all sorts of material desires is to engage oneself in the devotional service of Lord Viṣṇu. In this way a self-controlled person, even while remaining in householder life, should give up the three kinds of material desires, namely the desire for the acquisition of material opulences, for the enjoyment of wife and children, and for elevation to higher planets. Eventually he should give up householder life and accept the renounced order, engaging himself completely in the devotional service of the Lord. Everyone, even if born in a higher status as a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya or vaiśya, is certainly indebted to the demigods, to the sages, to the forefathers and to other living entities, and in order to liquidate all these debts, one has to perform sacrifices, study the Vedic literature and generate children in religious householder life. If somehow one accepts the renounced order of life without liquidating these debts, he certainly falls down from his position. Today you have already liquidated your debts to your forefathers and the sages. Now, by performing sacrifices, you can free yourself from indebtedness to the demigods and thus take complete shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. My dear Vasudeva, certainly you have already performed many pious activities in your previous lives. Otherwise, how could you be the father of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, the Supreme Personality of Godhead?”
Saintly Vasudeva, after hearing all the sages, offered his respectful obeisances unto their lotus feet. In this way he pleased the sages, and then he requested them to perform the yajñas. When the sages were selected as priests of the sacrifices, they in turn induced Vasudeva to collect the required paraphernalia for executing the yajñas in that place of pilgrimage. When Vasudeva was thus persuaded to start to perform the yajñas, all the members of the Yadu dynasty took their baths, dressed themselves very nicely, decorated themselves beautifully and garlanded themselves with lotus flowers. Vasudeva’s wives, dressed with nice garments and ornaments and golden necklaces, approached the arena of sacrifice carrying in their hands the required articles to offer in the sacrifice.
When everything was complete, there was heard the vibration of mṛdaṅgas, conch shells, kettledrums and other musical instruments. Professional dancers, both male and female, began to dance. The sūtas and māgadhas, who were professional singers, began to offer prayers by singing. And the Gandharvas and their wives, whose voices were very sweet, began to sing many auspicious songs. Vasudeva anointed his eyes with black cosmetic, smeared butter over his body and then, along with his eighteen wives, headed by Devakī, sat before the priests to be purified by the abhiṣeka ceremony. While the ceremony was being observed strictly according to the principles of the scriptures, Vasudeva resembled the moon encircled by stars. Because he was being initiated for the sacrifice, he was dressed in a deerskin, but all his wives were dressed with very nice saris, bangles, necklaces, ankle bells, earrings and many other ornaments. Vasudeva looked very beautiful surrounded by his wives, exactly like the king of heaven when he performs such sacrifices.
At that time, when Lord Kṛṣṇa and Lord Balarāma, along with Their wives, children and relatives, sat down in that great sacrificial arena, it appeared that the Supreme Personality of Godhead was present along with all the living entities and multienergies that are part of Him. We have heard from the śāstras that Lord Kṛṣṇa has multienergies and parts and parcels, but now, in that sacrificial arena, all could actually experience how the Supreme Personality of Godhead eternally exists with His different energies. At that time, Lord Kṛṣṇa appeared as Lord Nārāyaṇa, and Lord Balarāma appeared as Saṅkarṣaṇa, the reservoir of all living entities.
Vasudeva satisfied Lord Viṣṇu by performing different kinds of sacrifices, such as Jyotiṣṭoma and Darśa-pūrṇamāsa. Some of these yajñas are called prākṛta, and some of them are known as śaurya-satra or vaikṛta. Thereafter, the other sacrifices, known as Agnihotra, were also performed, and the prescribed articles were offered in the proper way. Thus Lord Viṣṇu was pleased. The ultimate purpose of offering oblations in sacrifice is to please Lord Viṣṇu. But in this Age of Kali it is very difficult to collect the different articles required for offering sacrifices. People have neither the means to collect the required paraphernalia nor the necessary knowledge or tendency to offer such sacrifices. Therefore, in this Age of Kali, when people are mostly unfortunate, full of anxieties and disturbed by various kinds of calamities, the only sacrifice recommended is the performance of saṅkīrtana-yajña. Worshiping Lord Caitanya by the saṅkīrtana-yajña is the only recommended process in this age.
After the performance of the different sacrifices, Vasudeva offered ample riches, clothing, ornaments, cows, land and maidservants to the priests. Thereafter, all the wives of Vasudeva took their avabhṛtha baths and performed the part of the sacrificial duties known as patnī-saṁyāja. After finishing the offering with all the required paraphernalia, they all took their baths together in the lakes constructed by Paraśurāma, which are known as the Rāma-hrada. After Vasudeva and his wives took their baths, all the garments and ornaments they had worn were distributed to the subordinate persons engaged in singing, dancing and similar activities. We may note that the performance of sacrifice necessitates the profuse distribution of riches. Charity is offered to the priests and the brāhmaṇas in the beginning, and used garments and ornaments are offered in charity to the subordinate assistants after the performance of the sacrifice.
After offering the used articles to the singers and reciters, Vasudeva and his wives, dressed with new ornaments and garments, fed everyone very sumptuously, from the brāhmaṇas down to the dogs. After this, all the friends, family members, wives and children of Vasudeva assembled together, along with all the kings and members of the Vidarbha, Kośala, Kuru, Kāśī, Kekaya and Sṛñjaya dynasties. The priests, the demigods, the people in general, the forefathers, the ghosts and the Cāraṇas were all sufficiently remunerated by being offered ample gifts and respectful honor. Then all the persons assembled there took permission from Lord Kṛṣṇa, the husband of the goddess of fortune, and while glorifying the perfection of the sacrifice made by Vasudeva, they departed to their respective homes.
At that time, when King Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Vidura, Yudhiṣṭhira, Bhīma, Arjuna, Bhīṣmadeva, Droṇācārya, Kuntī, Nakula, Sahadeva, Nārada, Lord Vyāsadeva and many other relatives and kinsmen were about to depart, they felt separation and therefore embraced each and every member of the Yadu dynasty with great feeling. Many others who were assembled in that sacrificial arena also departed. After this, Lord Kṛṣṇa and Lord Balarāma, along with King Ugrasena, satisfied the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana, headed by Mahārāja Nanda and the cowherd men, by profusely offering all kinds of gifts to worship them and please them. Out of their great feelings of friendship, the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana remained there for a considerable time with the members of the Yadu dynasty.
After performing this sacrifice, Vasudeva felt so satisfied that there was no limit to his happiness. All the members of his family were with him, and in their presence he caught hold of the hands of Nanda Mahārāja and addressed him thus: “My dear brother, the Supreme Personality of Godhead has created a great tie of bondage known as the bondage of love and affection. I think that it is a very difficult job for even the great sages and saintly persons to cut such a tie of love. My dear brother, you have exhibited feelings of love for me that I was not able to return. I think, therefore, that I am ungrateful. You have behaved exactly as is characteristic of saintly persons, but I shall never be able to repay you. I have no means to repay you for your friendly dealings. Nevertheless I am confident that our tie of love will never break. Our friendship must ever continue, in spite of my inability to repay you. I hope you will excuse me for this inability.
“My dear brother, in the beginning, due to my being imprisoned, I could never serve you as a friend, and although at the present moment I am very opulent, because of my material prosperity I have become blind. I therefore cannot satisfy you properly even at this time. My dear brother, you are so nice and gentle that you offer all respect to others but don’t care for any respect for yourself. A person seeking auspicious progress in life must avoid possessing too much material opulence so that he will not become blind and puffed up, and he should take care of his friends and relatives.”
When Vasudeva was speaking to Nanda Mahārāja in this way, he was influenced by a great feeling for the friendship of Nanda Mahārāja and the beneficial activities executed by King Nanda on his behalf. As such, his eyes filled with tears, and he began to cry. Nanda Mahārāja, desiring to please his friend Vasudeva and being affectionately bound with love for Lord Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, passed three months in their association. At the end of this time, all the members of the Yadu dynasty tried to please the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana to their hearts’ content. The members of the Yadu dynasty tried to satisfy Nanda Mahārāja and his associates by offering them clothing, ornaments and many other valuable articles, and they all became fully satisfied. Vasudeva, Ugrasena, Lord Kṛṣṇa, Lord Balarāma, Uddhava and all other members of the Yadu dynasty presented their individual gifts to Nanda Mahārāja and his associates. After Nanda Mahārāja received these farewell presentations, he, along with his associates, started for Vrajabhūmi, Vṛndāvana. The minds of the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana remained, however, with Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, and therefore all of them started for Vṛndāvana without their minds.
When the members of the Vṛṣṇi family saw all their friends and visitors departing, they observed that the rainy season was approaching, and thus they decided to return to Dvārakā. They were fully satisfied, for they regarded Kṛṣṇa as everything. When they returned to Dvārakā, they described with great satisfaction the sacrifice performed by Vasudeva, their meeting with various friends and well-wishers, and various other incidents that had occurred during their travels in the places of pilgrimage.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the eighty-fourth chapter of Kṛṣṇa, “Sacrificial Ceremonies Performed by Vasudeva.”