Transcription - SB Canto 3

Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 3, Chapter 24, The Renunciation Of Kardama Muni,Text 38


gachha kamam mayaprsto
mayi sannyasta-karmana
jitva sudurjayam mrtyum
amrtatvaya mam bhaja


gaccha — go; kamam — as you wish; maya — by Me; aprstah — sanctioned; mayi — to Me; sannyasta — completely surrendered; karmana — with your activities; jitva — having conquered; sudurjayam — insurmountable; mrtyum — death; amrtatvaya — for eternal life; mam — unto Me; bhaja — engage in devotional service.


Now, being sanctioned by Me, go as you desire, surrendering all your activities to Me. Conquering insurmountable death, worship Me for eternal life.


The purpose of Sankhya philosophy is stated herein. If anyone wants real, eternal life, he has to engage himself in devotional service, or Krishna consciousness. To become free from birth and death is not an easy task. Birth and death are natural to this material body. Sudurjayam means “very, very difficult to overcome.” The modern so-called scientists do not have sufficient means to understand the process of victory over birth and death. Therefore, they set aside the question of birth and death; they do not consider it. They simply engage in the problems of the material body, which is transient and sure to end.

Actually, human life is meant for conquering the insurmountable process of birth and death. That can be done as stated here. Mam bhaja: one must engage in the devotional service of the Lord. In Bhagavad-gita also the Lord says, man-mana bhava mad-bhaktah: “Just become My devotee. Just worship Me.” But foolish so-called scholars say that it is not Krishna whom we must worship and to whom we must surrender; it is something else. Without Krishna mercy, therefore, no one can understand the Sankhya philosophy or any philosophy which is especially meant for liberation. Vedic knowledge confirms that one becomes entangled in this material life because of ignorance and that one can become free from material embarrassment by becoming situated in factual knowledge. Sankhya means that factual knowledge by which one can get out of the material entanglement.

[End of Purport]

gachha kamam mayaprsto

mayi sannyasta-karmana

jitva sudurjayam mrtyum

amrtatvaya mam bhaja

Now, being sanctioned by Me, go as you desire, surrendering all your activities to Me. Conquering insurmountable death, worship Me for eternal life.

Worship Me for eternal life. Amrtatvaya mam bhaja. Amrtatvaya means for the sake of amrta. For the sake of amrta means to get eternal life. Amrtatvaya, for the sake of attaining eternal life, mam bhaja, worship Me. So who is saying this? Whose words are these? [audience: Lord Kapila] Lord Kapiladeva. To whom is He saying this? [audience: Kardama Muni] To Kardama Muni. So He is instructing His father. Normally that does not happen. The son does not instruct the father but here, who is Kapila Muni? Kapila Muni is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So He is speaking like the Supreme Personality of Godhead to a desirous living entity. A living entity who is desirous of achieving the perfection of life. So here He is telling the process of perfection of life, process to achieve the perfection of life.

So this verse is actually giving that description. He is saying gaccha kamam mayaprstam. Gaccha kamam, do what you want. Go to fulfill your desire. What was Kardama Muni’s desire? Kardama Muni’s desire was to retire from home and go to the forest. In a way it is kind of unusual. Why? When the Supreme Personality of Godhead has appeared to him in his house, in his home as his son, why he is leaving his home? The purpose of going to the forest is to reestablish the relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Now, here he is fortunate enough to have the Supreme Personality of Godhead as his son. So why is he going there? Prabhupada has explained that point by saying that one must abide by the instructions of the Vedas. It’s the duty of a person to follow the instructions of the Vedas. Kapila Muni also mentioned that before him that, “Sometimes I give the instructions directly and sometimes I give the instructions through the Vedas. And both the instructions are perfect.”

So the Vedic injunction is pancasordhvam vanam vrajet, after the age of fifty one should retire from family life and accept the order of vanaprastha. That’s why Kardama Muni decided to do that. And for a devotee whether he stays with the Lord or away from the Lord is the same. If you are serving somebody does it matter whether you are serving his body or serving him indirectly? Does it matter? Like, you are serving somebody. You can serve the person personally or you can cook for the person. When you are cooking for him that service is not directly related to the body. Not directly, but is it less important? Is cooking less important than massaging his feet? Sometimes cooking is more important than massaging his feet.[laughs] So service is rendered according to the need of the moment. What service means? What the person wants, act according to that. Defining this point Prabhupada gave the example if somebody wants a glass of water and if you take a glass of milk, thinking that milk is better than water, will you do service to him? He wants water so give him water, not milk. What he needs, do that.

Now here is the consideration of setting the right example. In Bhagavad Gita there is the instruction yad yad acarati shresthas. How many of you know that verse? Okay, very good.

yad yad acarati sresthas
tat tad evetaro janah
sa yat pramanam kurute
lokas tad anuvartate

[Bg 3.21]

Sa yat pramanam kurute, the standard that he establishes people follow that. Just the way a, yad acarati shresthas, shrestha means? Great person. The way a great person acts, yad yad acarati shresthas tat tad evetaro janah, eva itarah janah. Itarah means inferior person. Superior person, inferior person. So the way the superior people act inferior people follow, meaning the way the leaders act accordingly the people or the mass follow. And the standard that he establishes, sa yat pramanam kurute lokas tad anuvartante. That loka is, people in general follow that standard. So that’s why great personalities like Kardama Muni, being very concerned about setting the right example, being very concerned about the example that has sets, he decided to go to the forest. Do you remember this verse, which verse, the purport. I think it is the purport of thirty five.

[Translation of SB 3.24.35:] The Personality of Godhead Kapila said: Whatever I speak, whether directly or in the scriptures, is authoritative in all respects for the people of the world. O Muni, because I told you before that I would become your son, I have descended to fulfill this truth.

That is the text thirty five and in that text, yeah, Prabhupada is explaining that point. Prabhupada is saying at the beginning:

Kardama Muni was to leave his family life to completely engage in the service of the Lord. But since he knew that the Lord Himself, as Kapila, had taken birth in his home as his own son, why was he preparing to leave home to search out self-realization or God realization? God Himself was present in his home—why should he leave home? Such a question may certainly arise. But here it is said that whatever is spoken in the Vedas and whatever is practiced in accordance with the injunctions of the Vedas is to be accepted as authoritative in society. Vedic authority says that a householder must leave home after his fiftieth year. Pancasordhvam vanam vrajet: one must leave his family life and enter the forest after the age of fifty.

So that is text thirty five of this chapter and the purport of Srila Prabhupada. So that is why Kardama Muni desired to leave. Kapiladeva therefore is telling gaccha, go! Gaccha means go. Kamam, kamam means according to your wish. Gaccha kamam mayapristah. Mayapristah means, maya means ‘by Me’ and pristah means ‘sanctioned’. “It has been approved by Me. It has been sanctioned by Me. You wanted to go to the forest, okay, I am approving of it. Go to the forest.”

And then He is pointing out what should he do in the forest. One should achieve the ultimate goal of life. Mayi sannyasta-karmana. Mayi, unto Me, and sannyasta-karmana, surrendering all your activities unto Me. Just don’t go to the forest. Prabhupada sometimes used to give the example the monkeys also live in a forest. And in a way monkey’s life is quite a keen to a sannyasi’s life in the forest. Monkey also lives naked. Monkey also eats fruits and roots, vegetarian, leaves. Just to live in the forest, without any possession and eating fruits and roots, is that the goal of life? The monkeys also do that.

So what is the purpose of going to the forest? That is the consideration. The purpose of going to the forest is to become completely absorbed in the meditation on the Supreme Personality of Godhead so that there is no other interruption, no other disturbance. Mind is completely fixed in the thoughts of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Mayi sannyasta-karmana, “All your activities should be surrendered unto Me.” These activities are threefold. Activities are karmana, manasa, girah. Karmana, activities, actions. Manasa, the thoughts of the mind, the body, mind. And girah, girah means words. So that means when they go to the forest what do they do? They either remain silent or they simply chant the glory of the Lord. These are the activities of the sannyasi in the forest.

But sannyasa had been banned in the age of Kali. Four things have been banned in this age:

asvamedham gavalambham

sannyasam palapaitrikam

devarena sutotpattim

kalau panca vivarjayet

[CC Adi 17.164]


Five activities, panca, five activities have been vivarjayet, discarded, has not been authorized in the age of Kali. Kalau panca vivarjayet. What are those five activities? Asvamedham, asvamedha yajna. Gavalambham, gomedha yajna. Sannyasam, acceptance of sannyasa. Pala paitrikam, offering meat in the Shraddha ceremony of the departed forefathers, departed souls. And deverena sutotpattim. When the brother dies without having any offspring there is a custom in the Vedic culture that the elder brother can procreate in the womb of the departed younger brother’s wife’s womb.

The example of that is Vyasadeva. When Vicitravirya died without having any child then the whole dynasty was about to come to an end, the Kuru dynasty. Bhishma was the only one alive but Bhishma already took a vow that he will remain a lifelong brahmacari. Satyavati first requested Bhishma to get married. Bhishma said, “I have taken a vow of lifelong celibacy.” Satyavati said, “Because of me you have taken that vow and I am asking you to do that.”

Actually the condition was, Satyavati’s father, Dhivara Raja, the leader of the fishermen, the king of fishermen, made the condition to Shantanu who wanted to marry Satyavati. Satyavati was an extremely beautiful woman. So when Shantanu saw her he fell in love with her. The king wanted to marry this daughter of the fisherman. Actually she was not the daughter of the fisherman. She was the daughter of a very exalted personality, Uparicara Vasu, but somehow she came into the custody of this fisherman so she was brought up by him. Just as Karna. Karna was actually the son of Suryadeva and Kunti but he was brought up by Adhiratha Suta. Suta, the charioteer, chariot driver. So in the history things happened like that, in the past.


Anyway, so Shantanu wanted to marry Satyavati and Satyavati’s father told that the astrologers told about my daughter that her son will become a king. So you can marry her only on the condition that her son will become the king. Shantanu said, “No, I can’t accept that because I have already a son and he is already very, very qualified. And he has already been coronated as the crown prince.” So then Dhivara Raja, Satyavati’s father said, “Okay, you can’t get married to her.” Shantanu went back but he was feeling very morose. Bhishma then found out what was the cause of his depression so Bhishma went to this Dhivara Raja and told that, “Please, why aren’t you allowing your daughter to get married to the king? It’s her good fortune that your daughter is getting married to the king of the entire Bharatavarsa, entire earth planet.” So father told the whole story. So then Bhishma said, “If that is the case then okay, I denounce my claim over the throne. I won’t have any claim over it.” Then Satyavati’s father said, “Okay, you may give up your claim over the throne, but what about your children? Then my daughter’s children and your children will have a feud, will have a conflict and that is not desirable.” So at that Bhishma said, “Okay, in that case I won’t get married. I’ll remain a brahmacari all my life.”


This is also another very important thing that we understand from the scriptures, from the Vedic scriptures that how man proposes and destiny disposes. Man proposes God disposes. Man wants things in a certain way and the course of destiny arranges things in another way. Like here we see that the whole struggle was to be the king, that her children could become the king. Her son became the king but died young and he didn’t have any children. So the royal lineage has to continue. It was told that Bhishma promised that he won’t get married, just to let Shantanu and Satyavati’s son become the king and their line continue without any hindrance.  But here we are seeing Vicitravirya died, before that Chitrangada died before, the elder brother. Shantanu had two sons through Satyavati: Chitrangada and Vicitravirya. And Chitrangada was older and he died. He died young. There was a Gandharva king also with the same name, Chitrangada, and when he heard that on the earth planet there is a very glorious, famous person called Chitrangada, a human being, he challenged him that, “There can’t be two Chitrangada’s. You fight with me. Whoever wins he will survive and he will have the fame.” And for a long time they fought and after that long battle, Chitrangada, the son of Satyavati died. Then Vicitravirya became the king and Bhishma got him married to two wives, Ambika and Ambalika, two daughters of Kashi raja (the king of Kashi). But unfortunately Vicitravirya also died at a young age. There was no one to succeed the throne. So Satyavati told Bhishma to get married. Bhishma was unwavered, undaunted. So then Satyavati considered that if Bhishma is not going to, Bhishma actually was very angry when Satyavati proposed that.


Bhishma’s life is actually a very pathetic life. He was such a qualified person, the son of Gangadevi, Mother Ganga, a celestial being. Actually, she is not only a celestial personality, she was Krishna’s eternal consort. Ganga got married to Shantanu and Bhishma was born as the eighth son. And after the birth Ganga left Shantanu and took that son to the heavenly planet. And she trained him up to become the successor to the royal dynasty. He learned the military art from Parashurama, an incarnation of the Lord in the military art. And he studied Veda under Brihaspati, the guru of the demigods. And he was endowed with all good qualities, trained up, such a qualified person. But eventually he was deprived of the kingdom, then the line, it was so…

The Kuru dynasty was so unfortunate actually at that time. Like, Vicitravirya died, Chitrangada died, and no child. Then one child was born. Vyasadeva was called. As I was saying devarena sutotpatti. It is customary, it could have been, when the young brother died without any offspring then the older brother could procreate just to maintain the line. So then Satyavati told that she had a son, that was Vyasadeva, through Parasara Muni. She begot a son before she got married to Shantanu. So Vyasadeva was called to procreate in the womb of Ambika but the son that was born was blind, Dhritarashtra. Then another son was born from Ambalika. That is Pandu. And a third son was born through a maid servant, Vidura. Dhritarashtra was blind. Pandu also died young. And then there was this struggle between Dhritarashtra’s sons, Duryodhana and his ninety nine brothers (hundred sons of Dhritarashtra) and the five sons of Pandu which eventually led to the battle of Kurukshetra. Everybody tried to avoid that battle but it didn’t happen.

So, Bhishma’s life is actually a very pathetic life. Such a great person but the course of his life was so disappointing. Anyway, we will have a seminar on Mahabharata. [laughter] Actually, Mahabharata is very important to understand what we are studying. We read Bhagavad Gita without actually understanding. We just get the philosophy without getting background. Mahabharata actually gives us the background. Actually, Gita is a part of the Mahabharata. Through Mahabharata we understand Bhagavad Gita and through Srimad Bhagavatam we understand Mahabharata. Mahabharata can be quite confusing at times because Mahabharata is basically dealing with Karma Kanda. But only when we read Srimad Bhagavatam and after that we read the Mahabharata then we understand how it is. Actually, Mahabharata is projecting pure devotional service to Krishna but indirectly. Not directly. Bhagavatam is giving the direct understanding of the goal of life as it is said here. What is the purpose of Sankhya philosophy? To become a devotee of Krishna. What is the goal of life, time and time again. And through Mahabharata how do you understand that? In Mahabharata we understand it in an indirect way. That is

yatra yogesvarah krishno

yatra partho dhanur-dharah

tatra srir vijayo bhutir

dhruva nitir matir mama

[Bg 18.78]

So wherever there is Krishna and Arjuna victory is bound to be there. Actually, it seems that in Mahabharata the battle of Kurukshetra, it was impossible for the Pandavas to win the battle. First of all, their army was much less, much weaker. Duryodhana had eleven akshauhini and they had seven akshauhini and that is two third. The Pandava army is two third of the Kaurava army. And who is on the side of Kaurava? Bhishma. He was not only a very, very accomplished warrior but he had the benediction that he will never die unless he wanted to die. Unless he wanted to die nobody could kill him. Then Dronacarya, another personality who was invincible. Nobody could defeat him in a battle. As long as he had a weapon in hand nobody could defeat him. Then Karna, Kripa, Ashvatthama, Somadatta, Bhurisrava. These are all very, very powerful personalities. That’s why Duryodhana was so confident that he was going to win the battle. But eventually what do we see? The Pandavas won. Now what does it prove? That side with Krishna and you will win. So what should be the goal of life? Is the goal of life to lose or to win? [audience: win] You want to win? The winning is the goal of life? So what is the best way to win? [audience: side with Krishna] Side with Krishna! And how do you side with Krishna? Surrender to Him, become His devotee. A very simple truth, a very simple extraction.


Hare Krishna! Gaura Premanande Hari Haribol!


Does anybody have any question? Yes, Radharani?


Devotee: Guru Maharaja, how is it that Satyavati and Parasara Muni had Vyasadeva without being married?

BCS: Sometimes it happens that a very great personality in other ages produced children without getting married. Because they are so exalted that they could bring a deserving soul to get an appropriate body in this way. Just like Brahma can create from his mind these great personalities could also generate, produce offspring in this way. Many of these personalities are like that. They are born out of wedlock. Like Vyasadeva. Yeah, it is beyond us.

Devotee: I have three questions.

BCS: Three?! Okay.

Devotee: [inaudible]

BCS: The rishi is Yajnavalkya and the woman is Maitreyi.

Devotee: The ashrama of vanaprastha in ISKCON, what does it mean? How is it executed and is it relevant to…

BCS: In ISKCON vanaprastha means, first of all, ISKCON is Vrindavana. It’s a forest. [laughter] So after fifty just join ISKCON. So retire from your family life and become a full time devotee.

Devotee: People take vanaprastha in ISKCON. I don’t understand what it actually means.

BCS: They are already in that situation, transcendental situation, therefore there is no other consideration of vanaprastha for them. But if they want they can officially establish that order. It happens. Some devotee they officially take the vanaprastha order. That means the man, even though they are husband and wife, even though they are married but the man wears saffron. It happened in many cases. But when husband and wife are together then they don’t wear saffron.

What is the next question? These were the three questions? Okay. Yes, Nitai Candra?

Devotee: [paraphrased] Shantanu was the ruler of the entire Bharatavarsa but we see other kingdoms were also there, like Magadha raja was also there.

BCS: But they were subordinate. They were subordinate to that other king. Other kings were there but they were the Eka Chhatra Samrata. You see, the structure is like that. There are subordinate kings, then they are leading kings, and in this way the ultimate one, who is one person under whom all the other kings are ruling so they are called the Sarvabhauma raja, the Eka Chhatra Samrata.

Devotee: [inaudible]

BCS: Yeah, you see, that’s the thing, to establish their sovereignty the king performs a Rajasuya yajna or Ashvamedha yajna. So Yudhisthira Maharaja was about to, he wanted to perform the Rajasuya yajna and that’s why Krishna told him to first kill Jarasandha. Because if Jarasandha was on his way it would be difficult for him to perform the Rajasuya yajna. So he got rid of Jarasandha.

Okay, any other question? Very good. Thank you. No more questions. Hare Krishna! All glories to Srila Prabhupada.


Transcription : Her Grace Ranga Radhika Mataji
Editing : Ramananda Raya Dasa
Audio reference: click here