Srimad Bhagavatam 01.19.04 - From right and wrong to appropriate and inappropriate (download mp3)
by Nand Dulal Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
sa cintayann ittham athāśṛṇod yathā
muneḥ sutokto nirṛtis takṣakākhyaḥ
sa sādhu mene na cireṇa takṣakā-
nalaṁ prasaktasya virakti-kāraṇam
While the King was thus repenting, he received news of his imminent death, which would be due to the bite of a snake-bird, occasioned by the curse spoken by the sage’s son. The King accepted this as good news, for it would be the cause of his indifference toward worldly things.
Real happiness is achieved by spiritual existence or by cessation of the repetition of birth and death. One can stop the repetition of birth and death only by going back to Godhead. In the material world, even by attaining the topmost planet (Brahmaloka), one cannot get rid of the conditions of repeated birth and death, but still we do not accept the path of attaining perfection. The path of perfection frees one from all material attachments, and thus one becomes fit to enter into the spiritual kingdom. Therefore, those who are materially poverty-stricken are better candidates than those who are materially prosperous. Mahārāja Parīkṣit was a great devotee of the Lord and a bona fide candidate for entering into the kingdom of God, but even though he was so, his material assets as the Emperor of the world were setbacks to perfect attainment of his rightful status as one of the associates of the Lord in the spiritual sky. As a devotee of the Lord, he could understand that the cursing of the brāhmaṇa boy, although unwise, was a blessing upon him, being the cause of detachment from worldly affairs, both political and social. Śamīka Muni also, after regretting the incident, conveyed the news to the King as a matter of duty so that the King would be able to prepare himself to go back to Godhead. Śamīka Muni sent news to the King that foolish Śṛṅgi, his son, although a powerful brāhmaṇa boy, unfortunately had misused his spiritual power by cursing the King unwarrantedly. The incident of the King’s garlanding the muni was not sufficient cause for being cursed to death, but since there was no way to retract the curse, the King was informed to prepare for death within a week. Both Śamīka Muni and the King were self-realized souls. Śamīka Muni was a mystic, and Mahārāja Parīkṣit was a devotee. Therefore there was no difference between them in self-realization. Neither of them was afraid of meeting death. Mahārāja Parīkṣit could have gone to the muni to beg his pardon, but the news of imminent death was conveyed to the King with so much regret by the muni that the King did not want to shame the muni further by his presence there. He decided to prepare himself for his imminent death and find out the way to go back to Godhead.
The life of a human being is a chance to prepare oneself to go back to Godhead, or to get rid of the material existence, the repetition of birth and death. Thus in the system of varṇāśrama-dharma every man and woman is trained for this purpose. In other words, the system of varṇāśrama-dharma is known also as sanātana-dharma, or the eternal occupation. The system of varṇāśrama-dharma prepares a man for going back to Godhead, and thus a householder is ordered to go to the forest as a vānaprastha to acquire complete knowledge and then to take sannyāsa prior to his inevitable death. Parīkṣit Mahārāja was fortunate to get a seven-day notice to meet his inevitable death. But for the common man there is no definite notice, although death is inevitable for all. Foolish men forget this sure fact of death and neglect the duty of preparing themselves for going back to Godhead. They spoil their lives in animal propensities to eat, drink, be merry and enjoy. Such an irresponsible life is adopted by the people in the Age of Kali because of a sinful desire to condemn brahminical culture, God consciousness and cow protection, for which the state is responsible. The state must employ revenue to advance these three items and thus educate the populace to prepare for death. The state which does so is the real welfare state. The state of India should better follow the examples of Mahārāja Parīkṣit, the ideal executive head, than to imitate other materialistic states which have no idea of the kingdom of Godhead, the ultimate goal of human life. Deterioration of the ideals of Indian civilization has brought about the deterioration of civic life, not only in India but also abroad.