In contemplation about Supreme Brahman, he was like Brihaspati. In sense-control he was exactly like Srihari. In devotion, disciplines, humility and good behavior shown towards cows, Gurus, Vedic scholars and devotees of Lord Srihari, Prithu was unrivaled. In helping other living beings, he could be compared only with himself.
His fame spread across all the three worlds. Just as Srirama enters into the hearts of noble saints, his glories which were sung loudly by the inhabitants of all the three worlds entered into the hearts of the ladies engaged in household chores.
With this the twenty second chapter of the fourth canto comes to an end.
Fourth Canto Chapter Twenty-three
In this chapter, Prithu’s accession to heaven is explained.
Vena’s son Prithu was supremely courageous. He ruled righteously and wisely. He established settlements known as villages and ensured their prosperity. He provided livelihood for all moving and non-moving entities. He protected the dharma of noble beings. The purpose for which he had incarnated upon earth was duly completed.
To Prithu, Earth was a daughter. He realized that his time on earth was coming to an end. He felt as if Earth was crying due to imminent separation from him. He entrusted the kingdom to his sons and together with his wife went into the forests for penance. All these years the king had attendants to serve him. When he left behind these attendants and got ready to leave for the forests, the citizens grieved profusely.
In the forest, Prithu took great precautions to ensure that his disciplines remain unbroken. He undertook severe austerities which are loved by Vanaprasthas. His resolve towards intense austerities was at par with the resolve that he had used in the past to conquer and maintain the entire earth.
The couple Arci and Prithu, survived on roots and fruits. At times, they ate only dried leaves. For some months they lived only on water. After this for some period of time they lived only on air. Prithu continued his austerities sincerely.
Prithu perfectly executed the Vanaprastha dharmas. In summer, he withstood intense heat and continued his austerities. During rainy season, he withstood the torrential rainfall but continued his austerities relentlessly. During winter, he stood neck-deep in waters and undertook his austerities. He would sleep on the bare floor.
Due to his perfection in sense-control he could withstand the dualities of heat and cold alike. He controlled his speech. He adhered to rules of celibacy and practiced Pranayama. Desiring to worship Lord Srikrishna, he performed supreme penance. The penance gradually fructified. All his subtle impressions were cleansed and his mind was rendered totally pure.
Through the process of Pranayama, he perfectly controlled the senses and mind. He was totally liberated from worldly bondages. The venerable Maharishi Sanat-kumāra had imparted to Prithu the ultimate Supreme Knowledge, which is the best of all forms of knowledge. With this, the spiritual aspirant becomes inward facing and sees the Lord who resides within in the form of the Self.
Through this Yoga Emperor Prithu, the foremost amongst all human beings, served the Supreme Lord. Being a noble person, he sought only to worship the Lord at every moment. With this dedication, he continued his austerities.
He was established in supreme devotion towards Srihari which was unconnected to this world and its bondages. Due to offering devotional service to the Lord, his mind turned completely pure. Due to endlessly contemplating upon the Lord, his devotion surged enormously. Due to this devotion he developed total detachment and obtained Self-knowledge.
Due to Self-knowledge, he could destroy the illusion known as body, mind, life, intelligence and egoism (sense of I-ness). He cut the knot called worldly bondages. All his doubts were totally destroyed. These doubts, after all, emerge only because of the deluded feeling – ‘I am an individual being’.
The moment Self-knowledge arose, feelings of duality was totally washed away. Desires were destroyed in totality. At that moment, he discarded even the spiritual knowledge which dissolves feelings of ‘I-ness’ in the person.
The spiritual aspirant cannot give up inclination towards mystical powers (siddhi) until and unless the mind totally establishes in listening to divine glories. As Prithu was totally desirous of listening to divine stories, he was not inclined towards Yogic accomplishments.
In this way Emperor Prithu, the most supreme among the valourous persons, fixed his buddhi totally upon the Self and became liberated (Brahmi-bhuta).
When it was time to depart from earth, he left behind this strong sturdy body. With the sole of his feet he pressed the anus, which is located near the Mooladhara chakra. He gradually lifted the life-force upwards. He pushed the life-force upwards through Swādhisthāna chakra which is located near the intestines, Manipura Chakra which is located near the navel, Anahata chakra which is located near the chest, Viśuddha chakra located near the lower neck region and the Ajna chakra which is located in between the eyebrows. He then took it up into the Brahmarandhra, located at the top of the head.
He was now absolutely devoid of any desire. He merged the earth, wind and fire that existed within his body into the total earth, total air and total fire respectively. Here it means he gave up individual existence.
He merged the senses into space (mahākāśa). He merged the various liquids within the body with the total waters. He merged earth into earth, water into water, fire into fire, wind into wind and space into space. Thus he merged the five bodily elements into their respective principles however the merger was exactly in the opposite direction of their birth.