Kali purusha surrenders to Maharaj Parikshit
Lecture by Sri Chanchalapathi Dasa
Srimad Bhagavatam – 1.17.30
patitam padayor virah
krpaya dina vatsalah
saranyo navadhic chlokya
aha cedam hasann iva
Maharaja Parikshit, who was qualified to accept surrender and worthy of being sung in history, did not kill the poor surrendered and fallen Kali, but smiled compassionately, for he was kind to the poor.
Even an ordinary kshatriya does not kill a surrendered person, and what to speak of Maharaja Parikshit, who was by nature compassionate and kind to the poor. He was smiling because the artificially dressed Kali had disclosed his identity as a lower-class man, and he was thinking how ironic it was that although no one was saved from his sharp sword when he desired to kill, the poor lower-class Kali was spared by his timely surrender. Maharaja Parikshit's glory and kindness are therefore sung in history. He was a kind and compassionate emperor, fully worthy of accepting surrender even from his enemy. Thus the personality of Kali was saved by the will of Providence.
This verse describes the response of Parikshit when Kali purusha fell at his feet – patitam padayor. This verse describes some of the wonderful qualities of Parikshit Maharaj. He was virah, he was heroic, great king, at the same time he was krpaya – very compassionate, dina vatsalah – kind to the poor, and he was saranyo – he was fully competent and qualified to receive surrender and chlokya – he was glorified for his wonderful qualities. So when Parikshit saw Kali purusha, who had fallen at his feet – navavadhic – he did not kill him, and hasann iva, hasann edam aha – smiled, he was himself amused. I am a great king and when I draw the sword, I don’t spare anyone once I have decided to kill but now I am not killing. The poor lower class Kali was spared by his timely surrender.
Often we come across this question, why did Parikshit save Kali, he should have finished him. Then we wouldn’t have been in Kali yuga now, struggling for spiritual life. These are the qualities of a kshatriya, just like Krishna says in the Bhagavad gita –
sauryam tejo dhrtir daksyam
yuddhe capy apalayanam
danam isvara bhavas ca
ksatram karma svabhava jam
Krishna says, sauryam – great heroism and tejo – power, dhrtir – determination. Daksyam – and he is very resourceful, he knows how to solve complicated situations, because this is the quality of a leader, and yuddhe capy apalayanam – when he is challenged he will not palayanam means to run away. He is also very danam means very generous. When somebody surrenders, he will not kill him, which is also a characteristic of a kshatriya. So Kali purusha surrendered, so he did not kill. So still the question remains.
Okay, he was Kali purusha, not an ordinary enemy, after all he knew, he is going to perpetuate adharma in the society, why did he spare him? You cannot say it is etiquette, characteristic of a kshatriya to save somebody who surrenders. Prabhupada answers that question in the purport. Thus the personality of Kali was saved from the will of Providence. It was the Lord’s will that Kali purusha should be saved because Dvapara yuga was almost coming to an end and now Kali purusha by the will of the Lord had to enter the kingdom of Parikshit Maharaj and gradually expand his influence in the society. So it was perfectly according to the will of the Lord and so here Parikshit Maharaj was inspired from within by the Lord that he should not kill Kali purusha.
Patitam padayor – to fall at the feet, to bow down, generally that is an aspect of surrender and also an important aspect in devotional service, in bhakti. In the culture that Srila Prabhupada taught, the moment we see a Deity or a more advanced devotee we want to offer our respects, the moment we see the spiritual master it is said that we must immediately bow down. So bowing down is an important practice in bhakti because that helps one to develop that bhava of saranagati and that saranagati bhava can immediately invoke compassion and mercy in the person to whom we are bowing down to. We want to obviously invoke the mercy and compassion of Krishna and so we want to learn to bow down. That is why we come before the Deity and the first thing we do is to bow down. Unfortunately many people, even many religionists and some of the Vaishnava sampradayas also I have seen, they don’t have this culture that invokes the compassion of the Lord and that is an important aspect of bhakti.
In the Bhagavatam there is a very interesting instance of the pastime of the Lord when Narasimha deva appeared, He was so furious. You know when Krishna displays anything, He can display on an unlimited scale. So He was so angry at Hiranyakashipu, that after he was killed, all the devatas came there – Brahma, Shiva, Indra, deva ganas, rishi ganas – and they were all offering their prayers, glorifying all the wonderful qualities of Vishnu and Narasimha deva but He was unmoved by any of these. So Brahma thought that Lakshmi devi who is very close to the Lord, always at His lotus feet should come and offer prayers, even Lakshmi wouldn’t come forward.
When Brahma saw that all the prayers and glorifications had failed, he looked around and saw Prahlada and he gestured to him, you go and offer prayers. He was a small boy compared to all the deva ganas and rishi ganas who had assembled there. Any way Prahlada comes forward and falls at the lotus feet of Narasimha deva - sva-pada-mule patitam tam arbhakam – Bhagavatam describes that arbhakam means a very small boy. He came and – patitam pada patitam he fell at the feet of Narasimha dev. vilokya devah – then that was striking and then the Lord who was so angry looked at the small boy who had fallen at His feet – patitam tam arbhakam. vilokya devah krpaya pariplutah – there was an instant transformation in Narasimha deva’s demeanor. When Narasimha deva saw him, immediately krpaya pariplutah – he became ecstatic with compassion.
Usually we hear about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, so many bhaktas becoming ecstatic when they serve the Lord. Here the situation is the Lord is feeling ecstatic. This is what Baladeva Vidyabhushana comments in the Bhagavad gita. Krishna says, I am samo ham sarva bhutesu – I am equal to everyone, but for My devotee, I am always with him and he is always with Me, he is never lost. Krishna being the Lord, He has to be neutral, just like the government has to be neutral to all the citizens. But for His devotees Krishna says, just like devotees are devoted to Me, I am devoted to them. This is a very special quality of Krishna, a very important feature of bhakti.
So, Narasimha deva who was intensely angry, when he saw Prahlada falling at His feet, He also became - krpaya pariplutah - ecstatic with compassion for Prahlada. So this is the power of bowing down. Of course Prabhupada also warned that the act of bowing down, which means surrender, should not be just at the physical level, which is also important and that is sadhana bhakti but at the same time it should be from the heart. Prabhupada used the word dandavats here, there will be some disciples who will be dandavat – they will be paying obeisance again and again to the guru but when the guru gives an order, they don’t follow that order. He should be dandavat both in body and in mind and in words. Here we see the power of bowing down.
There was a young American, who came to meet Srila Prabhupada in one of the American temples. He saw devotees bowing down to Prabhupada and said my philosophy is that I don’t like to bow down. So then Prabhupada tried to reason with him; bowing down means surrendering, where do you work? He said I am working for so and so. So that means you are bowing down to your boss. No, I don’t bow down to my boss. We are all equal, my boss and I are equal and my philosophy in life is that I don’t have to bow down to anyone. And no one has to bow down to me. Then Prabhupada said - you see that is the disease, no one likes to bow down. But the truth is if you see analyze your own life, you are bowing down. The man said - where am I bowing down? Prabhupada said - you are a young man now, after some years gradually you will have to bow down to old age. Then you may have to bow down to disease, and finally you will have to bow down to death. That young man was hearing, and then Prabhupada said, so an intelligent man will understand, that anyway my position is to bow down, so where shall I bow down so that I will be happy - and that is Krishna.
So Prabhupada had a very interesting way of presenting these concepts of Krishna consciousness, we think that we are independent – I don’t have to surrender to anyone. But the fact is that material nature is such that it is forcing us, when we are under the influence of the external energy we have to bow. When the tongue and the senses are pulling us in different ways, we immediately surrender. So it is actually the position of the soul, every soul has to be constitutionally bowing down and surrendered to Krishna but it is just that the conditioned soul does not want to accept that position.
So Rupa Goswami says that one who does not bow down to forces of the tongue, the mind vaco vegam manasah krodha-vegam – when anger comes, it comes out like a force. So jihva-vegam – the urges of the tongue is to taste, manasah krodha-vegam – the urges of the mind, urges of anger, vaco vegam means the urge to talk. vacho vegam manasah krodha vegam jihva vegam udaropastha vegam – and the urge of the stomach that if you want to eat more in quantity even though we feel satisfied and udaropastha-vegam – the urges of the genitals which is a very powerful force in the body.
Actually if we analyze our life of a conditioned soul it is simply bowing down to all these forces. You may study biographies of many people in the world - this leader, that leader you can analyze how he was responding to all these different urges and sometimes he was successful, sometimes he was failing and that is considered the life of a great man. So this a completely a different kind of an analysis that Srila Prabhupada presents in his teachings that constantly we are bowing down to these forces of the body and that’s our position and as a result of bowing down to these forces what is happening? It is simply resulting in more and more suffering. This is not an easy conclusion to come to, people think that struggle itself is success in life; look at that man - may be failed 100 times still he kept struggling, that is great about him. So on the other hand, from the Vedic perspective, we see that whether he failed or succeeded, finally death came and conquered him. Ultimately all these kinds of struggle end in failure.
In 1947 the average life of an Indian was 60 years, today after independence the government has worked so well, health care, research, technology all that has improved and it has been pushed to 75-80 years. So they say that how successful we are, from 60 years we have moved it to 80 years. From a spiritual perspective it’s simply ridiculous; just by pushing 20 more years what have we achieved? Actually we are a spirit soul who is eternal, did we find a solution where we can realize our eternal nature? 60 to 70, 70 to 80, 80 to 100 even if you make it 200 it is meaningless when compared to the infinite, anantha existence that the jiva is supposed to have. We are not saying science, technology is all bogus, and we recognize its value, when we get sick we also take advantage of the good health care facilities. But when we are analyzing in a philosophical manner to understand the truth, we must recognize that how all of these are very trivial successes because ultimately what we are entitled to is eternal life. Instead of it if we are promised 20 more years and then die - it may be an achievement from a material point of view but from a spiritual point of view who understands eternality we consider that a trifling.
So this is an important message of the Vedic culture that how eternality of the soul, of our existence, when compared to these material things are actually trivial. We have to come to the spiritual platform of understanding where we can experience our true nature. So that is the principle, but when we are in the material world, this body has these very powerful forces. Interestingly Krishna mentions in the Bhagavad gita we usually talk about how the mind has got the vega. Krishna analyses in yet another way, He says, this is important for us because as spiritualists we want to control the mind, improve our consciousness. Krishna says even the senses have these forces -
yatato hy api kaunteya
haranti prasabham manah
Krishna's instruction about the senses is that even the indriyas are pramathini. Prabhupada translates very nicely, he uses three words to explain the concept that Krishna is talking about. These indriyas are pramathini means they are stimulated. One translation Prabhupada uses is that the senses are stimulated, into greater and greater action; that is the nature of the senses. So we have to know the nature of the senses that we are trying to control. Senses can become stimulated in the presence of sense objects. That is the meaning of the words indriyani pramathini. The second meaning that Prabhupada uses is, they are impetuous, and they can suddenly come into action when they come in contact with the sense objects. And the third word Prabhupada uses to explain indriyani pramathini is they are very strong.
Soon after talking all these things, Krishna begins to say dhyayato visayan pumsah sangas tesupajayate - so the senses are very powerful when they come into contact with the sense objects and they are very strong - indriyani pramathini haranti prasabham manah - it can forcefully - prasabham manah - take away the mind, of whom? yatato hy api kaunteya purusasya vipascitah - even the mind of a vipascitah a man who is having very discriminating sense, not ordinary people, Krishna is saying even vipascitah, who is yatatah who is endeavoring to control. Even such a person, his mind can be carried away by the senses, because the senses are pramathihi.
Prabhupada explains extensively that Kali yuga’s influence in this human society is that we don’t realize the importance of sense control, there are innumerable opportunities created for the common, gullible living entities - how to agitate their senses. When senses become agitated, they become adhira - they cannot be controlled. Unless one becomes a dhira, we will not be able to appreciate spiritual concepts when our senses are not controlled and that is what has happened in the Kali yuga population.
So this is all the effect of influence of Kali and we see here how Kali made his first entrance into human society and was trying to spread his irreligion. He surrendered when Parikshit Maharaj was about to kill him. As Parikshit Maharaj was kind and compassionate, he did not kill him.