Mahābhārata : Noble Characters & The Futility Of Materialistic Life

Mahābhārata : Noble Characters & The Futility Of Materialistic Life


Founder-Ācārya: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda

The following lecture on Mahabharata was given His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami in Iskcon Radhadesh, Belgium, on 2 August 2011.

Although the fisherman, the father of Satyavatī wanted his daughter’s son to become the king but by the force of destiny what happened? In course of time [inaudible] they were known as Citrāṅgada and Vicitravīrya. Citrāṅgada was extremely powerful. After Śāntanu’s death, Citrāṅgada became the king and he was very valiant and everybody was glorifying him. Everywhere people were praising him. He did this. He did that. Citrāṅgada is so wonderful.

Now there was a Gandharva king. His name also was Citrāṅgada and this Gandharva king could not tolerate that there is somebody with the same name and his glory is sung everywhere. They are glorifying Citrāṅgada but not him. So, he became envious. So, he came to Citrāṅgada and challenged him that, “come and fight”. Let’s fight. So that only one Citrāṅgada will be there. So, they went to Kuruksetra and there they fought a terrible fight, consisting for about 3 years and they fought and at the end Citrāṅgada, the son of Śāntanu succumbed. So, when Citrāṅgada died, Vicitravīrya, the younger brother became the king and the younger brother also died young. He got… tuberculosis, because of excessive indulgence with his wives. He was married to the daughters of Kāśīrāja. That also was another very wonderful anecdote, wonderful incident.

Bhīṣma, when Vicitravīrya became the king, Bhīṣma decided that he should get married now, because generally a king has to have a queen when he ascends the throne. So, Bhīṣma thought that the three daughters of King of Kāśī, modern day Benares, is a suitable match for his brother. They were celebrated for their- well known for their beauty and qualities. So, Bhīṣma – these three daughters were calling for a Svayaṁvara. Svayaṁvara is a kṣatriya way of getting married. Often the princess gets a choice to select her husband. And all the kings and eligible princes are invited to the …and they assemble and from the assembly the princess selects her husband. So, the assembly was arranged. All the kings practically from all over assembled there with their entourage, with their soldiers. And Bhīṣma arrived there riding on his chariot. And he announced who he was. Some even started to – some recognized Bhīṣma and some even started to mock at him: “Look at Bhīṣma, he also became enamoured by the beauty of these girls and he forgot about his vow of celibacy and he has come here to claim the girls.” But Bhīṣma announced that he is Bhīṣma, son of king Śāntanu and his brother Vicitravīrya has ascended the throne and for the sake of his brother, he is claiming these three girls of Kāśīrāja. So, this is also a kṣatriya way. One way a kṣatriya girl can select her husband and also a kṣatriya can forcibly take away the girl. That is also bona-fide.

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: That’s also authorized [Laughter]. So, Bhīṣma then picked up these three girls on his chariot. In the mean time, all these kings Bhīṣma challenged, if anybody is there who wants to stop him, they could give him a try.

Devotee: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: [Laughter]. So, all these kings jointly attacked Bhīṣma and Bhīṣma alone fought with them, defeated them. It was a terrible battle actually and it was kind of impossible the way they fought, one person fighting against a joint attack from all these kings and defeating. What kind of military expertise they had, those days! So, then Bhīṣma took the girls and brought them to Hastinapura, the capital and at that time, the eldest daughter Amba told Bhīṣma that, “Look! I already gave my heart to Śālva. And generally in the Vedic culture, the understanding is, for a woman, it’s just one man and like, even if someone offered her heart to somebody, it is forever. So, then Bhīṣma told her, “Why didn’t you tell me.” She said, “Well! There was no chance. You didn’t give me an opportunity. You just forcibly took me away. I was just about to offer my garland to Śālva.” And so, Bhīṣma said, “Okay.” Then he actually called the brāhmaṇas and consulted with them, asked their advice, what should I do? So, the brāhmaṇas said that since she has given her heart to him, she should be allowed to go to him. So, the girl was sent back to Śālva, but Śālva was already very inimical towards Bhīṣma and now he has been defeated by Bhīṣma. So, his animosity became even more enraged. So, Śālva then told her, “Do you think I am a beggar going to subsist on Bhīṣma’s alm, Bhīṣma’s donation. O, he can send something back to him as if… And he gave an example that a lion never touches the animal that has been killed by somebody else. So, kṣatriyas are like a lion. Either I will get her or I don’t want a charity. So, he said go back to Bhīṣma. He took you, so you marry him. So, she actually told that please accept me because I have given my heart to you. I can’t think of anybody else. That is the sign of, I mean that is the concern for my chastity. But Śālva would not accept.

Then this girl Amba went to Bhīṣma and told him what happened. So, Bhīṣma told, “Tell me what can I do.” She said, “You marry me [Laughter] because no one else will accept me. On the other hand, you have – you took me by hand and dragged me to the chariot. So, that itself is a sign of accepting me as your wife.” So, Vedic culture is so subtle, that even such simple acts can be seen as a expression of…. She said that you have accepted me, you took me by my hand, by my right hand, no left hand. So, Bhīṣma said, Look I have taken a vow of celibacy and I cannot, I cannot marry you, I cannot accept you. So, she just kept on, when she failed to convince him, convince Bhīṣma, when she failed to convinced Bhīṣma, she actually went into the forest. And in the forest she came to a place where the sages lived. She went and told the sages about her plight and they were all very sad to see her situation and in that stay in the forest, her grandfather was there and he was also a king but he became an ascetic and was living in the forest. So, her grandfather told her that I am very close to Bhīṣma’s Guru, Parsurama and Paraśurāma is going to come here in a few days time. So, you just wait. I will request Paraśurāma to convince Bhīṣma. So, she was happy to hear that. Paraśurāma came and her grandfather told Paraśurāma about her plight. Then Paraśurāma said: “Okay, I will go and ask Bhīṣma. He is not going to refuse my request.” So, Paraśurāma went to Bhīṣma and told Bhīṣma: “You marry this girl.” Bhīṣma said, “Look, I have taken a vow of celibacy all my life.” He said, “Okay, I am your guru, I am telling you. It is alright. To break a vow on the order of the Guru is okay.” And then Bhīṣma said, “Look I cannot, I cannot break my promise.” Then Paraśurāma became very upset. He said, “I am your Guru, I am telling you.” Then Bhīṣma quoted a verse from the scripture saying if the Guru doesn’t know what to do and not to do and gives unbecoming advice not fitting in the scriptural understanding, that Guru should be rejected.” So, Paraśurāma who is already famous for his anger and fiery temper and his natural aversion towards the kṣatriyas said, “Okay, come and fight with me. I will kill you.” So, they again went to Kurusetra to fight. So, they fought for a long time. Paraśurāma couldn’t defeat Bhīṣma and Bhīṣma couldn’t defeat Paraśurāma. So, finally Bhīṣma took out a weapon, took out a weapon called prasavapastra, prasavapa. So, yes, and that weapon would be so devastating that the whole creation could be destroyed. So, he was, he became completely desperate in that battle. So, he pulled out that weapon. So, at that time all the demigods along with Lord Śiva and Brahmā came and begged to Bhīṣma. So, Bhīṣma said, “Okay, I can withdraw that weapon but you have to make him stop fighting.” So, they approached Paraśurāma and Paraśurāma stopped fighting. So, Paraśurāma told Amba, “Look, I tried my best [Laughter].”

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: It’s bad luck for you [Laughter].

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: This life you are not going to get married.” And so this is how this episode actually ended. But Amba did not give up and Amba went to the forest and performed great, great severe austerities and as a result of that Lord Śiva appeared to her and asked her what she wanted. And she said that she wanted to kill Bhīṣma.

Devotees: [laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Lord Śiva said, “See, you will succeed but not in this life but in your next life.” Another time we are getting the concept of next life. By the time we have accepted it. Right? That rebirth is a reality. So, so she was so desperate to kill Bhīṣma that she, right after Mahādeva left, she lit a fire and she entered into the fire desiring to kill Bhīṣma. So, she entered into the fire here and somewhere else she came out of the fire [inaudible], is not exactly fire. Somewhere else she appeared as the daughter of king Drupada and she was… First she was a girl but Drupada also had a boon from Mahādeva that he will get a boy. So, he was convinced that this must be a boy because Lord Śiva said. So his words are not going to go in vain. So he started to bring her up like a boy. It was announced that she was a boy.

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And, like, so later on she actually changed her sex and she became a male and that is Śikhaṇḍī. So, it is so beautifully woven. I mean, in material nature that is what is going to happen. Like this incidents are not fragmented happenings. All these incidents are rather interlinked, as if in a drama all the scenes are interwoven. So, Bhīṣma then, yes, so, in the meantime Vicitravīrya was married to the two daughters, two other daughters of king Kāśīrāja. What’s the name of these two other daughters?

Devotees: Ambikā and Ambālikā.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Ambikā and Ambālikā. And Vicitravīrya started to spend all his time with his wives and as a result of that he eventually got tuberculosis and he died. Now see another irony of fate. Now, father of Satyavatī wanted her daughter’s son to become the king. For that he practically made Bhīṣma to take a vow of lifelong celibacy. Now, yes his daughter’s sons became the kings but now they are dead. And can you imagine the dynasty came to an end. They didn’t have any children. They died without getting children. The only heir to the dynasty is Bhīṣma. Actually, in this way we can see Bhīṣma’s character is so pathetic actually, such a qualified person but has been deprived of kingdom. He was the rightful heir to the throne. He was the most qualified person. He had the most perfect understanding of the Vedas. He had the inconceivable skills in using weapons, the greatest warrior on the battlefield. The personality who is an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Śaktyāveśa avatar of the Lord, who wiped all the kṣatriyas from the surface of the earth twenty one times, he couldn’t defeat Bhīṣma. Such an extremely wonderfully personality, but in his life you can see, a person who is deprived of everything. Anyways, so, this is Mahābhārata that shows how noble the character can be and at the same time you can see the futility of materialistic way of life. In the material life, in the material world, we want to enjoy but what do we get? We get simply sufferings.

So, then Satyavatī approached Bhīṣma, “Bhīṣma what to do? How to maintain the family line?” In the Vedic culture there is a custom that the elder brother of a deceased husband can procreate in the womb of his widow which is called devarena sūtotpattim. But these thing, but this culture has been forbidden in the age of Kali. In the age of Kali five things have been forbidden aśvamedha, gaval lābhaṁ, pala paitṛkam, devarena sūtotpattiṁ kalau pañca vivarjayet That one is aśvamedhaṁ – horse sacrifice, aśvamedhaṁ, gaval lābhaṁ, cow sacrifice. Then sannyāsa, acceptance of sannyāsa, Then the question may arise Mahārāja is it so [Laughter]?

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: How come you are a sannyāsī? Prabhupāda explained that I actually asked Prabhupāda and Prabhupāda explained that the sannyāsa that has been forbidden in this age is ekadaṇḍa sannyāsa. The kind of sannyāsa through which one wants to merge in brahmajyoti and this is how achieve to the perfection of life. That sannyāsa has been rejected. But tridaṇḍī sannyāsa means devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and for the sake of serving the Supreme Lord one renounces everything. That sannyāsa is alright. So, in Iskcon everything is bonafide.

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Sannyāsaṁ, pala paitṛkam, pala means meat. Offering meat in the śraddhā ceremony of the forefathers. In other ages it was alright but in the age of Kali that also has been forbidden. Sannyāsa pala paitṛkam and devareṇa sutotpattiṁ, procreation for a widow through the brother of the husband. These five things have been rejected or five things have been vivarjayet, discarded or rejected in the age of Kali.

So, based on that, she requested: “Bhīṣma, you procreate in the womb of your brother’s wives just for the sake of maintaining the dynasty.” But Bhīṣma said no. She said, “Look I am your mother and it is for my sake that you took the vow. So I am telling you.” Bhīṣma said nothing doing [Laughter].

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: So, then they started to consider what to do. Then Bhīṣma said, “When Paraśurāma annihilated the kṣatriyas and all the kṣatriyas were eliminated, then it is through the brāhmaṇas that the widowed wives of the kṣatriyas received progeny. So, may be that you can consider. Some exalted saintly brāhmaṇa can produce in the wombs of your daughters in law.”

So, at that time Satyavatī narrated one incident to Bhīṣma that when she was a maiden, when she was unmarried, once Parāśara Muni came to the banks of the Ganges and while she was taking him across the river, Parāśara Muni desired to have her association. And at that time, Parāśara Muni with his mystic power created an island in the middle of the Ganges and covered it with mist and they had their union there. And as a result of that, a son was born and right after the birth, the son left and told her, that whenever she wanted him, she simply has to just desire for him to come back and he will come back. And an unusual child, right after his birth, he walked away. He was born practically as a full grown person and because he was born in an island, dvip he was known as dvapaina. His complexion was dark therefore he was known as Kṛṣṇa. And he had the perfect understanding of Vedas so his name was Vyāsa. So his name was Kṛṣṇa Dvapaina Vyāsa.

So, so Bhīṣma then said: “Why not call him?” Maybe he can procreate in the womb of these two queens. So Vyāsadeva was called and Vyāsadeva was requested by his mother and Vyāsadeva agreed. He said, “Okay, I will- for this one year let them perform austerities and penances and then only they will become qualified to receive me. So I will come back after one year.” But Satyavatī was so eager to have the child that she didn’t want to wait. She said, “No no you get the child now.” So, Vyāsadeva agreed. And when he came to Ambikā, just the sight of Vyāsadeva was so frightening that Ambikā closed her eyes. She couldn’t bear to look at him. So, when Satyavatī asked Vyāsadeva, “Was everything alright?” Vyāsadeva said, “Yes, a son will be born who will have the strength of ten thousand warriors but he will be blind because she closed her eyes.” So, Satyavatī then said: “Then have another child in the womb of Ambālikā.” So, when Ambālikā saw Vyāsadeva, she didn’t close her eyes but the -she somehow managed to keep her eyes open but her body became pale out of fear. So, then Vyāsadeva told Satyavatī that this child will be extremely powerful, extremely wise, extremely noble, but his bodily complexion will be pale. So, he wanted to have another son when the children are born but this time Ambikā didn’t wanted to go herself. So, she sent her maidservant another young youthful woman. And as a result of their union Vidura was born. In this way three children were born in the family from Vyāsadeva. The first one was Dhrtarastra who was blind. Therefore, although he was the elder brother, elder of the two but he couldn’t become the king. The Pāṇḍu, the second son, was pale in complexion. Therefore he was named as Pāṇḍu. Dhṛtarāṣṭra although he couldn’t become the king, he was so eager to hold on to his kingdom, that’s why he is Dhṛtarāṣṭra. The name Dhratarastra- Dhṛta is holding on to, rāṣṭra is kingdom. In this way the Sanskrit names are always meaningful, everything is meaningful. Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Pāṇḍu and Vidura these three children were born in this way. So, so should we continue or should we have a little break?

Devotees: Little break.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Little break. Okay. Ten minutes?

Devotees: Yes.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes. Or fifteen minutes?

Devotees: Ten minutes.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Okay, now it’s 12.30. At 12.40 we will meet.

BCS_Radhadesh_Retreat_Day-03_-_Mahābhārata_Part-02_-_2011_Radhadesh or zoom0029

Half the room disappeared. Okay. So, now in course of time, Pāṇḍu became the king and Pāṇḍu was an extremely powerful person. He was endowed with all good qualities and extremely valiant warrior and he was ruling over the entire earth planet and he was very fond of his elder brother also. And his elder brother Dhṛtarāṣṭra was also very fond of him. In this way they were enjoying their situation in the kingdom. Maybe I should have given fifteen minutes break.

Devotees: [Laughter]

Another devotee: Still it would have been late.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Then it would have been twenty minutes [Laughter]. So, but one day, Pāṇḍu was very fond of hunting, that’s one of the qualities of the kṣatriyas. They are very fond of fighting and they are fond of hunting. It’s a natural propensity of the kṣatriyas. And, then one day, Pāṇḍu was, while he was hunting, he accidentally killed a deer which was a sage. The sages with the mystic powers could transform themselves into different forms. So, for example here, this sage turned himself into a deer and he was in the act of union with his wife and at that time Pāṇḍu killed him. So while dying, the sage cursed Pāṇḍu that “If and when, rather when, you unite with your own wife, when you unite with any woman, you will leave your body, you will die.” So, being cursed in this way, Pāṇḍu actually decided not to return to the kingdom. Because, as I say, in the royal palace to be in the middle of such alluring environment, one naturally becomes attracted to sense gratification. So, that’s why Pāṇḍu decided to take vānaprastha and go into the forest, remain in the forest. But his wives Kuntī and Mādrī, they told him that they would also accompany him because in vānaprastha order one can accompany one can be with his wives although they don’t indulge. So this way, they all sent message to the kingdom, sent message to the capital, that they are not going to come back and this is what has happened and so they are going to remain in the forest.

So, they went up in the Himalayas where the sages lived in the āśrama. And one day Pāṇḍu was discussing with his wives especially with Kuntī that, somehow the family line has to be maintained. In the Vedic culture this custom is very prevalent that the family line should be maintained. That is because the children perform sacrifice, children perform śrāddha ceremony. After death the rituals to help one in his journey after death, this ceremony is called śrāddha and it is important that this śrāddha for the sake of performing śrāddha one has to have a son. So, and in the kṣatriya culture or in Vedic culture those days, it was, it was a accepted or it was authorized that if one cannot produce children himself then on his behalf a very exalted personality could actually produce children, mainly the brāhmaṇas. Then again this culture has been forbidden in this age. So, Pāṇḍu suggested that why not Kuntī accept some sages to have a child. Kuntī, just the thought of it, she was completely disgusted. There is no question of me accepting anyone but you. But then Kuntī narrated one incident in her young days that once Durvāsā Muni came to her father’s house, father’s palace, Kuntibhoja’s palace. And Durvāsā Muni is famous for his short temper and quick cursing. He would get upset and he would give curse. And these curses could be quite destructive like once Durvāsā cursed the demigods, cursed Indra and as a result of that curse, Lakṣmī Devī left, that means the demigods lost all their wealth and the demons defeated them and they were driven out of their heavenly planet. Such a powerful personality! So, Durvāsā came to the palace of Kuntibhoja, Kuntī’s father and at that time, Kuntī’s father appointed Kuntī, designated Kuntī to take care of Durvāsā. And Durvāsā stayed in the house, stayed in the palace of Kuntibhoja for one year and Kuntī took care of him so nicely, that Durvāsā what to speak of becoming angry or giving curse, becoming so satisfied and gave her the boon or the way or means or mantra to call any demigod at her will. But what Kuntī could not understand at that time, was that when she called the demigod, that would mean the demigod would come to embrace her and as a result of that there would be a child born. So when Kuntī got this boon, she to try it out, she called Sungod, Sūryadeva and Sūryadeva appeared. And as a result of that, Sūryadeva’s appearance, Kuntī gave birth to a son but this son was floated away in a raft, in a box, in the river next to the palace. The palace was next to Gaṅgā, Jamunā actually in Delhi, Hastināpura. So, that son is Karṇa. So, Kuntī told Pāṇḍu about this boon that she can call a demigod. And the demigods existence is so subtle, that it does not affects one’s purity. So Kuntī then – so Pāṇḍu then told Kuntī to call Dharmarāja, Yamarāja who is the person in charge of justice, ‘dharma’. And as a result of that Yuddhistira Mahārāja was born and then Pāṇḍu said “Get another son who will be extremely powerful because this son is noble and he will be gentle but in order to protect- he will be an ideal king but in order to protect and give him support, we need a powerful individual. So, get Vāyu to come, Pavandeva.” And as a result of that Bhīma was born. Then he wanted another son. And he said, “This time call Indradeva.” And as a result of that Arjuna was born. So at that time Kuntī said, “Three is enough.”

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: But Pāṇḍu said that look your- you will have the son and Mādrī if she doesn’t have children, then she will feel disappointed. So, also teach her the mantra. So, on his request, Kuntī taught Mādrī the mantra and Mādrī called the Aśvinī – Kumāras, the twin demigod, the celestial who are known for their beauty, handsome features. So, as a result of that, she got two sons Nakula and Sahadeva. So, these are the five brothers or Pāṇḍavas, three from Kuntī, two from Mādrī.

And they were growing up in that divine atmosphere of the hermitage inhabit by the most exalted sages and. But one day it was spring time and the spring time is the time when people generally become afflicted with lusty desires. So, Pāṇḍu was there with Mādrī and this was spring time. In India the spring time is a very special season where the flowers bloom and the wind carries the beautiful fragrance of those flowers. The cuckoo birds, you hear them cooing and the gentle breeze blows. The sun becomes so mild and like as if radiating golden beams. And the whole atmosphere becomes so pleasing that Pāṇḍu became affected by that and seeing Mādrī, he couldn’t just resist his lusty desires. He, although Mādrī tried to stop him, but she could not and at that time Pāṇḍu left his body according to the curse of that muni. Then Pandu- Mādrī started to cry. Then Kuntī came running and saw Pāṇḍu’s dead body. Mādrī explained everything to Kuntī actually what happened. Then it was decided that while Pāṇḍu’s body will be cremated, they both actually wanted to go along with Pāṇḍu, saham- mṛtyu becoming satī going along with the husband, departed husband, entering into the fire. That’s also another aspect of Vedic culture which may appear to be very cruel but actually it is very natural, that when the relationship is so intense between the husband and wife, that when the husband leaves the planet, wife feels that she cannot continue alone without him now. So she voluntarily enters into the fire. So, it was decided then Kuntī and Mādrī considered that one of them have to stay back. Because if both of them left then who would take care of the children. Although Kuntī gave her claim that she is the elder, she is the first wife, therefore, she should accompany him but Mādrī reasoned with two- three very, very valid salient points. One is that it is because of her that Pāṇḍu left his body. He left and with his unfulfilled, with his desire unfulfilled. Therefore Mādrī should go along with him. Another reason Mādrī gave is: because Kuntī has three sons whereas Mādrī has two, therefore it is appropriate that Kuntī would stay back because her responsibility is more towards the children than Mādrī’s. And because Kuntī is the elder, she should take the earthly responsibilities more than the [unclear, 17:01 ] responsibilities of next life. Anyways, so then Kuntī agreed and Mādrī is the one who entered into the funeral pyre of her husband. And after that the children were brought to Hastināpura with the remains of Pāṇḍu’s body and the whole city was submerged in the ocean of sorrow hearing the news. Then they performed Pāṇḍu’s śrāddha ceremony and they started to grow up, the five Pāṇḍavas started to grow up in Hastināpura, in the palace of the Kauravas. In the mean time Yuddhistira gave birth to hundred sons and one daughter. That also happened..

Devotee: Dhṛtarāṣṭra

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: I am sorry. I am sorry. Dhṛtarāṣṭra. So, Dhṛtarāṣṭra also gave birth to hundred sons and one daughter. That also happened in a strange way.

When the news came that Pāṇḍu gave birth to Yuddhistira Mahārāja, the first born, at that time Gāndhārī was pregnant and they had a hope. that maybe her children would be older. That way her children, her child, the first born will have claim over the throne but the news came that, Pāṇḍu’s son was born. In the mean time Gāndhārī was blessed by Vyāsadeva she would give birth to hundred very, very powerful sons and being blessed by Vyāsadeva in this way, she was expecting that she would give birth to at least one illustrious son and the rest will come in course of time. But after two years of pregnancy, she didn’t give birth and the news came now that Yuddhistir was born. So, in total desperation she just struck her womb with her fist. The kṣatriya women were very powerful. So, when she struck her womb in this way, a lump of flesh like a ball came out of her womb which was like hard solid and iron ball. And so, she started to lament that Vyāsadeva blessed me that I will have hundred children, but look what happened. So, at that time Vyāsadeva appeared there and Vyāsadeva told them not to worry and said: “Get hundred pots, hundred and one pots with ghee, filled with ghee.” And then he sprinkle water on to that lump of flesh and then the flesh disintegrated into hundred and one pieces. And he put the pieces on to each pot and told them to keep it covered for three years. And so, as a result of that from this hundred and one pots, hundred sons appeared after two years. And one daughter appeared. So, these sons were headed by Duryodhana. Duryodhana forcasted all kinds of ominous signs, when he appeared. The donkeys began to brey; The sky started to pass puss and blood and all kinds of inauspicious signs started to display. And so, seeing that, Vidura could foresee that this child is the cause of destruction of this family. So, Vidura told Yuddhistira at that time: “I am sorry, Dhṛtarāṣṭra, get rid of this son of yours, because he will be the cause of destruction of this family.” But Dhṛtarāṣṭra was so attached to his son that he couldn’t listen to Vidura’s advice. He just, although Vidura advised him, Dhṛtarāṣṭra just indicated to the nurse to take the baby, totally disregarding Vidura’s suggestion. Take the baby to the inside of the house. So, this way there were hundred sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra and five sons of Pāṇḍu.

They started to grow up together. Now I will try to go quickly through the first episode called the sabhā parva, the first chapter. Okay, so they started to grow up together but they were very, very inimical towards the Pāṇḍavas mainly because Bhīma was so powerful, that nobody could match him. He was like, when the children play, they unconsciously, unknowingly, unintentionally, they cause some harm to the others. Like, for example, playfully they would harass and harm them. Like for example when Duryodhana and his brothers would climb a tree Bhīma would start to shake the tree.

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And as a result of that they would fall from the tree.

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: when they would be doing, in the water they would be sporting Bhīma would hold on, get two or three of them, hold them together and dunk them under water and keep them there like that [Laughter].

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And this is how Bhīma used to harass them and Bhīma became more and more envious. So, they became, although they were children Duryodhana was so vicious that he decided to kill Bhīṣma. So, one day when they went on picnic on the bank of the river Jāmuna, they, Duryodhana offered Bhīma, ladhus, sweets which was actually mixed with snakes of king Cobra. This is a deadly poison called ‘kālakūṭa’ and Bhīma was extremely fond of eating and especially when something is so delicious, Bhīma just kept on eating and eating and eating and Duryodhana kept on offering him. Take this my dear brother, eat more.

It has been described that Duryodhana had the tongue of nectar and the heart full of poison. That was Duryodhana’s nature. He spoke very sweetly but his heart was filled with envy. So, and after a while when they were sporting, Bhīma became tired. Actually the poison started to work and Bhīma, then when he became unconscious, Duryodhana and his brothers tied him up by  hands and feet and drowned him in the river. So, Bhīma’s body sank at the bottom of the river and it went to the Nāgaloka, the region of the snakes. And there Bhīma’s body fell on the snakes who were playing and the snakes started to, being angry they started to bite Bhīma. Now he had the snake poison and the snake started to bite. So what happened? It acted as, those snakes bite acted as antidote to snake’s poison. So, Bhīma came back to his senses and when Bhīma came back to his senses, he found that the snakes were biting him, so he became very upset. So, with a tug, he just broke open his hands and feet off the ropes and he started to kill the snakes. The news reached to the king of the snakes, Vāsuki. And he came with his minister, Aśvapati. And anyway, Bhīma started to kill them and when he came with his minister and saw Bhīma, his minister actually recognized Bhīma as his great, great grandfather. So, his daughter was married in that family at one point and so he then took Bhīma to the palace of the snake king and there they offered him to drink the nectar, the nectar of the snakes. They also have the nectar as the demigods have nectar, they also have, the snakes also have nectar the naga [unclear]. And although one drop of nectar, this nectar can make one practically immortal, Bhīma drank eight pots of this nectar.

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And after drinking this nectar he felt asleep for eight days. In the mean time, they were naturally very worried about him and they could understand that it must have been the act of Duryodhana and Duryodhana somehow succeeded in killing Bhīma. But after eight days Bhīma came back. But this time he got the strength, because of the nectar he drank, he got the strength of ten thousand elephants. So, he became even more, even more powerful. So, anyway, so, Duryodhana was always worried about them. How to get rid of them. So then Duryodhana made an arrangement to burn them alive. He made a house of inflammable objects like shellac, house of shellac, yadugrha. And the Pāṇḍavas were requested to go there and have a wonderful time in that beautiful city, beautiful place. And so, Pāṇḍavas rather innocently went to that place with Kuntī but the idea was that after some time Purochana, Duryodhana’s minister would set the house on fire and kill them. Now, Vidura could find that out. So, Vidura warned Yuddhistira Mahārāja about that and Yuddhistira Mahārāja, he told, it has been described in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam also that Vidura spoke that to Yuddhistir Mahārāja in a mleccha language, that means he spoke English [Laughter] and Yuddhistira Mahārāja also could understand the language. So, when afterwards Kuntī asked what actually, what did he say? So, then Yuddhistira Mahārāja told her, this is what he said. This is: “Vidura said to be careful of fire and the way to escape the danger of fire is by digging a tunnel.” Because when there is fire, the only way you can escape is, underground. So, and become acquainted with the vicinity surrounding places, so that when you escape from there, you know where to go to. So, anyway, so and then, Vidura also sent an expert tunnel digger. So, during the day they used to walk around. They are getting acquainted with the surrounding area, and at night they used to dig the tunnel. And when the tunnel was complete, then they invited, they threw a feast, and invited all the citizens of that area, all the residents of the area and at night they set the house in fire and escaped through the tunnel.

Now, one coincidence actually took place. When they fed so much, there were one aborigines woman, one aborigine woman came with her five children to the feast and they ate so much in the feast that they fell asleep in the house itself. So, in the morning, when the people- when the house was on fire, people came but the house was made of shellac, so they found that it was impossible to extinguish the fire. In the morning when the fire was extinguished, from that they found the body of Purochana, the evil minister of Duryodhana and there was a body of a woman with five men, five boys. So, they thought that this is Kuntī and the five Pāṇḍavas, they died. In the mean time the Pāṇḍavas came out of that house and went to the river and went across the river in a boat that Vidura arranged to send for them and they went to the dense forest on the other side of the river.

So, in that forest, when they all were resting and Bhīma was guarding them, one rākṣasa called Hiḍimba, he became very happy. That now some human flesh has become available. For the rākṣasas, the human flesh is a delicacy. So, he saw that five – six such human beings have come. So, he thought that now we are now going to have a feast. So, he sent his sister Hiḍimbā to kill them and bring them to him. But when Hiḍimbā came there and saw Bhīma, she just fell in love with him. So, she assumed a very beautiful form and she approached Bhīma and told that she is actually a rākṣasī and her brother sent her to kill them and take them for his food. So, Bhīma and she said you all please run away from here right now. But Bhīma said, “Look, Bhīma never runs away out of fear of anybody. “ So, in the meantime when Hiḍimba found that his sister Hiḍimbā is taking so much time to come back after killing them, he impatiently came out and he saw that his sister is having an affair with, is having a love talk with this man, who is supposed to be his food. So, he became very angry and said that “You are not my sister. You are my enemy. I am going to kill you.” And at that time Bhīma confronted him. So they fought. Bhīma had his way of killing the rākṣasas or his opponents. Like, he would fight and when they would become weak, when the opponent would become weak, then Bhīma would pick him up and he would hold him overhead and spin him hundred times or more and as a result of that, that person would become unconscious being spun around like that. And he would then throw him on the ground and kill him. So, this is how Bhīma killed Hiḍimba.

And so, they started to go. When they were walking away, then they found that Hiḍimbā is following them, that rākṣasī. They said, “Look go away. Go back to your home.” Then Hiḍimbā appealed to Kuntī that, “Look as a woman you understand the woman’s heart. Like my heart has been given to the son of yours. So, I can’t live without him.” So then, Kuntī consulted with Yuddhistir Mahārāja and decided that let him get married to Hiḍimbā. And the condition was, that during the day Hiḍimbā and Bhīma would sport, and at night Hiḍimbā would return Bhīma to them. And until the son is born, Bhīma would be with Hiḍimbā and as soon as the son is born, then Hiḍimbā will go away with the son, releasing Bhīma.

In course of time a son was born and his name was Ghatotkaca. In course of time we will see that Ghatotkaca actually was an arrangement of Indra. During the battle of Kurusetra to protect Arjuna, Indra actually made this arrangement of Ghatotkaca. Anyway, Gatotkacha was born and then Vyāsadeva came and told them to go to the village called Ekacakra. So, they went to Ekacakra and they were staying in the house of a brāhmaṇa and in the house of the brāhmaṇa, they were staying as brāhmaṇas. During the day time, the Pāṇḍavas used to go out begging alms and in the evening they would come home and whatever they have brought, they would share among themselves. The sharing was the half of it would go to Bhīma

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And the remaining half [Laughter] was for the other five. And in this way they were spending their time. One day they found that the brāhmaṇa family was in great distress. They were talking among themselves in great anxiety. They could hear the sound of crying. So, they went to – Kuntī was there with Bhīma. That day Bhīma didn’t go to beg. So, Kuntī went and asked them, what happened? And the brāhmaṇa told there is a demon called Baka, a rākṣasa called Baka. And Baka was indiscriminately killing people in the village, in that town and eating them up. So, that’s why the king of this place made an arrangement that on a particular day, Baka would be offered some food in the form of a cart load of food and one human being. And it was the responsibility of different families, in turn. That means they have to sacrifice one man from the family, one person from the family. So, now this is their turn to become the food of  Baka, to arrange for the food of Baka rākṣasa. So, then Kuntī said, “Don’t worry my son will go.” They said, “How can we allow a guest to offer himself because our business is to protect the guest, not to sacrifice the guest.” Kuntī said, “Look, don’t worry. My son is extremely powerful. He will take care of Baka.” Then they said, they started to tell how powerful Baka was. Then Kuntī said, “Don’t worry. And then finally she convinced, look I am the mother. If I was not completely confident of my son, I would not allow him to go because which mother wants her son to be killed. So, don’t worry my son will take care of this rākṣasa.” So, the next morning Bhīma went early, early morning with a cart full of food meant for Baka and drawn by two buffaloes. But when Bhīma came to the mountain top where the food is supposed to be kept for Baka and Baka would come and eat the food along with the person who brought the food, Bhīma himself started to eat the food.

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: [Laughter] Bhīma was very fond of eating. So, he started to eat the food. So, when Baka came and saw that Bhīma is eating the food, he became furious. So, and Bhīma said, “Just wait. Let me first finish my food, finish my meal, then I will deal with you.” And so then, Baka came with an uprooted tree. So, Bhīma also took an uprooted tree. And they started to fight. This way they fought for a long time and then finally as Bhīma as I told you, how Bhīma used to kill his opponent? Spinning overhead and then smashing on the ground and Baka was dead. So, Bhīma took Baka’s dead body and kept it at the city’s entrance. In the morning everyone found that Baka’s dead body. So, they were very, very surprised. So, they went to the house of the brāhmaṇa to find out what actually happened. So, the brāhmaṇa said, “Look, one Gandharva actually came and he told me that he would take care of Baka and he carried the food that day and now you can see what happened. It must have been the Gandharva who killed him.” Kuntī told them not to disclose their identity that they killed, that Bhīma killed Baka. That place Ekacakra is still there. It’s about three hours drive from Māyāpura, drive from Māyāpura and you can go there and that place is still there. There is the place where Baka fought with Bhīma and Bhīma killed Baka. We also have a temple there, Iskcon temple in Ekacakra village. That is the place where Nityānanda Prabhu actually appeared. So, this is how Baka was killed.

Then one day Vyāsadeva came and informed that Drupada’s daughter, yajña-seniyajña-seni because she appeared from the fire sacrifice, from the sacrificial fire this girl appeared. Her name is Kṛṣṇa and she is the most beautiful in the planet. And so, she is getting married in a svayaṁvara. She would select her own husband. But about selecting her husband there is a condition, anyway. So, hearing about that they also became interested and they decided to go there. No, it was not Vyāsadeva, it was one brāhmaṇa, one wandering brāhmaṇa who gave them this news. So, they decided to go and participate in that celebration, queen’s the daughter princess getting married. So, they went there and all the kings and princes came there and the condition actually was: that high up on the high on the ceiling…

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: on the above there was a fish and underneath the fish, there was a disc with one hole. And the disc was moving. And from below not even looking up but looking at the reflection on a pool of water, pot of water, one had to pierce the fish. Now, see what a difficult task it is! The arrow had to pass through the hole and hit the target. So, many, many kings and princes tried. They all failed and finally Drstadyumna, Drupada’s son who also appeared from the sacrificial fire along with Draupadī. Drstadyumna was actually- Drstadyumna appeared to kill Droṇācārya. So, Drstadyumna announced, Draupadī’s elder brother: now that the kṣatriyas have failed, is there any brāhmaṇa who would like to give it a try. So, when that announcement was made, Arjuna stood up. And many brāhmaṇas started to shout. This brāhmaṇa has become crazy seeing the beauty of the princess. When all the kṣatriya kings failed, this brāhmaṇa dares to hit the target. But some other said, “That brāhmaṇas are superior to the kṣatriyas. When the kṣatriyas fail and if a brāhmaṇa succeeds it’s natural. So, in this way and then finally being encouraged and enlivened by other brāhmaṇas, Arjuna then went to the arena. He picked up the bow. Many of them couldn’t even pick up the bow. Most of them failed even to string the bow. But Arjuna very easily picked up the bow, strung the bow, pulled up the arrow, set it on the goal, looking at the pot of water and the rotating disc above, he released his arrow. And in no time the fish being struck by the arrow fell on the ground. So, Draupadī then came to offer him the garland on to Arjuna.

So, at that time all the kings being upset with Drupada decided to attack Drupada. They said this person has invited us to insult us in this way. So, then Drupada, although very powerful person, he was meek in his nature. So, he went and took shelter of the brāhmaṇas. So, seeing him in such distress and seeing how this enemies, how these kings were attacking, Arjuna and Bhīma took their stand. Bhīma just pulled up a tree. That is his favourite weapon [Laughter]. Pulled up a tree, broke the branches and the leaves and made it into a stick, huge stick and he started to fight with them. Karṇa confronted Arjuna but was defeated. At that time he asked, Karṇa asked, “Who are you. Are you Paraśurāma?” And then Arjuna said, “ No, I am an ordinary brāhmaṇa, but I have brahmāstra. So, be careful in dealing with me.” So, hearing that, Karṇa gave up. And so all the kings gave up and the girl was taken to Kuntī. They were staying in the house of a potter. And, so they came to Kuntī and said, “Today mother we have a very special object we got by begging.” So, Kuntī from inside the house without knowing what actually happened said, “Okay, you five brothers share it.”

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: So, this is also another thing about Vedic culture. The words of the superior were taken with absolute sincerity. Mother said you all five brothers share, so now they decided to marry all these four, all five brothers to marry Draupadī. Anyway, then the next, in the mean time, Drupada also send his spy with Drstadyumna and when Drstadyumna went back and said that these are not brāhmaṇas. These are kṣatriyas. At night when they were talking among themselves when lying on their bed, they were not talking about scriptures, they were talking about weapons and how to use those weapons. So, and I suspected these are the Pāṇḍavas.

So, this is how the next morning they were invited to the palace of Drupada and in the palace their identity was disclosed as five Pāṇḍavas. But Drupada’s desire was that he would- that Draupadī would be married to Arjuna that way and that’s why he made this arrangement. Something Arjuna, only Arjuna could fit, that only Arjuna could accomplish. And he was very pleased that Arjuna is still alive and Arjuna is becoming Draupadī’s husband. But then the news came that [Laughter] the five brothers are going to marry Draupadī. Drupada said, “How is it possible? It’s not done. One man can have many wives, but a woman cannot have many husbands.” So, at that time Vyāsadeva came and told about certain happenings that this particular girl Draupadī in her previous life, in order to get the husband, she was the daughter of a ṛṣi and in order to get her husband, she was performing austerity and as a result of her severe austerity, Lord Śiva appeared to her and Lord Śiva asked her, “What do you want?” And she told that she wants a husband who is extremely unusual. She wanted a husband who is extremely powerful. She wanted a husband who is extremely handsome. In this way she told five times [laughter] that she wanted a husband. So, Lord Śiva told “Okay, since you told, since you asked five times for a husband, you will get five husbands [Laughter].”

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And then Vyāsadeva also gave Drupada the sight through which he could see that these five Pāṇḍavas are actually five demigods. They are not ordinary warriors. So, in this way, the Pāṇḍavas were married to Draupadī and then the news reached Hastināpura. Dhṛtarāṣṭra pretended that he is very happy to hear that the Pāṇḍavas are still alive. But internally he was extremely disappointed [Laughter] to receive the news. And so, this way Pāṇḍavas came back and they got their kingdom back. And then upon Bhīṣma’s and Droṇācārya’s advice, half of the kingdom was given to them but the kingdom, the good part of the kingdom Dhṛtarāṣṭra kept for his son, whereas the barren part of the land, Khandavaprastha was given to the Pāṇḍavas. But it so happened when the Pāṇḍavas decided to go there and have it as their kingdom, then all the brāhmaṇas wanted to accompany them. And the brāhmaṇas went there. Vyāsadeva himself actually designed the city. He did the vastu calculation. Vyāsadeva designed the city and the city was built and the brāhmaṇas came. The kṣatriya warriors came to settle there. And when the brāhmaṇas and kṣatriyas were there, vaiśyas also went there to, with the prospect of doing their business. And in no time the city which was known as Indraprastha, the land of Indraprastha became very prosperous.

And, the architect of the demons whose name is Mayadanava. Mayadanava being pleased with Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa approached them. Actually, Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa did him some favour. As a result of that favour, Māyā wanted to do something, but Arjuna said, “No, there is no need. Whatever we have done, we have done out of our duty. We don’t want anything in return.” But Mayadanava was adamanent. He wanted to do something. And as a result of that, finally they said: “Okay, you can build a court house, sabhā gṛhasabhā ghar, a court house for Yuddhistira Mahārāja. And Māyā built such a court, such a assembly hall for the Pāṇḍavas.  For Yuddhistira Mahārāja that was not seen anywhere in the planet. As a matter of fact when he was asked, when Nārada Muni was asked whether there has been any such palace, any such assembly hall? Nārada Muni said, “In the earth planet there is none. But Indra’s palace is comparable to this; Kubera’s palace is comparable to this.” In this way Indra’s, Brahmā’s, Kubera’s, Varuṇa’s and Sūrya’s palaces were comparable to that, comparable to that. So, this is how they started to reside there, in the new part of their kingdom, which was given to them as just a barren piece of land but due to their pious deeds, the place became extremely prosperous.

Okay, so I will end now. Thank you all very much. All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda. Hare Kṛṣṇa.

I don’t know whether you all have questions but if you have questions, today its already quite late, tomorrow I will make the classes shorter so that there is be room for question and answers. How many of you would like to have a question and answers session like that? Okay. So if you have any question now, write it down and tomorrow I will try to answer them. I know lots of questions naturally come up. I will try to answer them tomorrow.

Thank you very much. All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda. Gaur premānande Hari Hari bol. Should we do the mahaprasade govinde also now?

Devotees: Yes.

Mahārāja recite and devotees repeat the prasādam prayers.

mahā-prasāde govinde
svalpa-puṇya-vatāṁ rājan
viśvāso naiva jāyate

Śarīra abidyā-jāl, joḍendriya tāhe kal,
jīva phele viṣaya-sāgore
ta’ra madhye jihwā ati, lobhamoy sudurmati,
ta’ke jetā kaṭhina saṁsāre

kṛṣṇa baro doyāmoy, koribāre jihwā jay,
swa-prasād-anna dilo bhāi
sei annamrita pāo, rādhā-kṛṣṇa-guṇa gāo,
preme ḍāko caitanya-nitāi

Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare. Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare.

Jaya Mahaprasad ki jaya

Jaya Śrī Śrī Radhagopinath ki jaya.

Jaya Śrī Śrī Jagannath Baladeva Subhadrā Mahārāṇī ki jaya

Jaya Śrī Śrī Gaur Nitāi ki jaya.

Jaya jagad Guru Śrīla Prabhupāda ki jaya

Samavetā bhakta vṛndā ki jaya

Gaur premānande Hari Hari bol

namo oṁ vishnu paḍaya krishna preṣṭhāya bhūtale
śrīmate bhaktivedanta swami iti nāmine

namaste sārasvate deve gaura vāṇī pracāriṇe
nirviśeṣa śūnyavādi pāścātya deśa tāriṇe


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Transcription: Anonymous Helper

Editing : Rāmānanda Rāya Dāsa