1. The Activities of Mahäräja Priyavrata :
This chapter describes how King Priyavrata enjoyed royal opulence and
majesty and then returned to full knowledge. King Priyavrata was detached
from worldly opulence, and then he became attached to his kingdom, but
finally he again became detached from material enjoyment and thus achieved
liberation. When King Parékñit heard about this, he was struck with wonder,
but he was somewhat bewildered as to how a devotee with no attachment for
material enjoyment could later become attached to it. Thus in astonishment
he questioned Çukadeva Gosvämé about this.
In response to the King's inquiries, Çukadeva Gosvämé said that devotional
service, being transcendental, cannot be deviated by any material influences.
Priyavrata had received transcendental knowledge from the instructions of
Närada, and therefore he did not want to enter a materialistic life of
enjoyment in a kingdom. He accepted the kingdom, however, at the request of
such superior demigods as Lord Brahmä and Lord Indra, the King of heaven.
Everything is under the control of the Supreme Personality of Godhead,
the supreme controller, and everyone must work accordingly. Just as a bull is
controlled by a rope tied to its nose, so all conditioned souls are forced to work
under the spells of the modes of nature. A civilized man, therefore, works
according to the institution of varëa and äçrama. Even in materialistic life,
however, no one is free to act. Everyone is compelled to accept a certain type
of body offered by the Supreme Lord and thus be allotted different grades of
happiness and distress. Therefore even if one artificially leaves home and goes
to the forest, he again becomes attached to materialistic life. Family life is
compared to a fortress for practicing sense control. When the senses are
controlled. one may live either at home or in the forest; there is no difference.
When Mahäräja Priyavrata, following the instruction of Lord Brahmä.
accepted the royal throne, his father, Manu, left home for the forest. Mahäräja
Priyavrata then married Barhiñmaté, the daughter of Viçvakarmä. In the womb
of Barhiñmaté he begot ten sons, named Ägnédhra, Idhmajihva, Yajïabähu,
Mahävéra, Hiraëyaretä, Ghåtapåñöha, Savana, Medhätithi, Vétihotra and Kavi.
He also begot one daughter, whose name was Ürjasvaté. Mahäräja Priyavrata
lived with his wife and family for many thousands of years. The impressions
from the rims of Mahäräja Priyavrata's chariot wheels created seven oceans
and seven islands. Of the ten sons of Priyavrata, three sons named Kavi,
Mahävéra and Savana accepted sannyäsa, the fourth order of life, and the
remaining seven sons became the rulers of the seven islands. Mahäräja
Priyavrata also had a second wife, in whom he begot three sons named
Uttama, Raivata and Tämasa. All of them were elevated to the post of Manu.
Çukadeva Gosvämé thus described how Mahäräja Priyavrata achieved
In the Fourth Skandham, Çréla Çukadeva Gosvämé explains that Närada Muni
perfectly instructed King Priyavrata about the mission of human life. The
mission of human life is to realize one's self and then gradually to go back
home, back to Godhead. Since Närada Muni instructed the King fully on this
subject, why did he again enter household life, which is the main cause of
material bondage? Mahäräja Parékñit was greatly astonished that King
Priyavrata remained in household life, especially since he was not only a
self-realized soul but also a first-class devotee of the Lord. A devotee actually
has no attraction for household life, but surprisingly, King Priyavrata enjoyed
household life very much. One may argue, "Why is it wrong to enjoy household
life?" The reply is that in household life one becomes bound by the results of
fruitive activities. The essence of household life is sense enjoyment, and as
long as one engrosses his mind in working hard for sense enjoyment, one
becomes bound by the reactions of fruitive activities. This ignorance of
self-realization is the greatest defeat in human life. The human form of life is
especially meant for getting out of the bondage of fruitive activities, but as
long as one is forgetful of his life's mission and acts like an ordinary
animal—eating, sleeping, mating and defending—he must continue his
conditioned life of material existence. Such a life is called svarüpa-vismåti,
forgetfulness of one's real constitutional position. Therefore in Vedic
civilization one is trained in the very beginning of life as a brahmacäré. A
brahmacäré must execute austerities and refrain from sex indulgence.
Therefore if one is completely trained in the principles of brahmacarya, he
generally does not enter household life. He is then called a
naiñöhika-brahmacäré, which indicates total celibacy. King Parékñit was thus
astonished that the great King Priyavrata, although trained in the principles of
naiñöhika-brahmacarya, entered household life.
The words bhägavata ätmärämaù are very significant in this verse. If one is
self-satisfied as is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is called bhägavata
ätmärämaù. There are different types of satisfaction. Karmés are satisfied in
their fruitive activities, jïänés are satisfied to merge into the effulgence of
Brahman, and devotees are satisfied to engage in the Lord's service. The Lord
is self-satisfied because He is fully opulent, and one who is satisfied by serving
Him is called bhägavata ätmärämaù. Manuñyäëäà sahasreñu: [Bg. 7.3] out of
many thousands of persons, one may endeavor for liberation, and of many
thousands of persons attempting to become liberated, one may achieve
liberation from the anxieties of material existence and become self-satisfied.
Even that satisfaction, however, is not the ultimate satisfaction. The jïänés
and the karmés have desires, as do the yogés, but devotees have no desires.
Satisfaction in the service of the Lord is called akäma, freedom from desire,
and this is the ultimate satisfaction. Therefore Mahäräja Parékñit inquired,
"How could one who was fully satisfied on the highest platform be satisfied
with family life?"
The word paräbhavaù in this verse is also significant. When one is satisfied
in family life, he is doomed because he must already have forgotten his
relationship with the Lord. Prahläda Mahäräja describes how the activities of
family life implicate one more and more. Ätma-pätaà gåham andha-küpam:
household life is like a dark well. If one falls into this well, his spiritual death is
assured. How Priyavrata Mahäräja remained a liberated paramahaàsa even
within family life is described in the next verse.