Bhagawatam 235: Arci follows her husband Prithu to heaven

Thereafter Prithu merged earth into water; water into fire; fire into wind and wind into space. He now merged the mind into the senses. The senses were merged into the five sensory perceptions (subtle elements). These were merged into ahamkara (egoism). Ahamkara was merged into Mahat tattva (cosmic intelligence). He then merged it into the Supreme Lord who takes on illusion (maya) as His carrier.

Previously, due to the existence of the subtle body, he had the feelings ‘I am an individual’. Now as he had attained dispassion and Supreme Knowledge, he was situated in his original Self. As such he discarded even the carrier known as subtle body.

His wife Arci, was a very famous queen. She was so delicate that her legs would ache when she placed them on the ground. Such queen had walked behind her husband when he went into the forest. While Prithu was engaged in severe austerities, Arci served him. She lived a quiet ascetic life in the forests, along with him.

By living exclusively on leaves, fruits and roots, she became lean and emaciated. Even then she was very happy to serve her husband. She was never sorrowful or dejected.

Arci, the chaste wife, saw her husband and realized that there were no signs of life in him. She lamented for a while. Then she arranged a pyre on top of the mountain and arranged her husband’s body upon it.

She lit the pyre and then bathed in the river. She gave the necessary water oblations to her husband. She then offered her obeisance to the Devatas who reside in heaven. She circumambulated thrice around the fire and then meditating exclusively upon her husband’s lotus feet, she too entered the fire. In this way this chaste woman, followed her husband.

Thousands of Devatas together with their wives witnessed this brave act of Arci. They praised her profusely. Beating celestial drums they assembled at the top of the Mandara Mountain. From there they showered flowers upon her. They then discussed amongst themselves as follows:

“How astonishing are the deeds of this chaste woman! She is truly fortunate. Her husband was the leader of all the kings of the world. Just as devout Goddess Lakshmi serves her husband Srihari, who is the embodiment of Yagna, this lady served her husband in mind, word and speech.

The services that she offered to her husband are beyond imagination. She is now following him as he travels. She is crossing us and is travelling to higher planes.

Even though the inhabitants of earth have a short existence, they understand that the Self is devoid of action. With the intention of obtaining liberation, they adhere to the moksha dharma (path of liberation) and merge into Him. Is there anything that such human beings cannot accomplish?

Sa vañcito batātma-dhruk kṛcchrea mahatā bhuvi

Labdhvāpavargyaṁ mānuyaṁ viṣayeu viajjate

Human birth is the birth that grants liberation! The person who, after having obtained this precious human birth with great difficulty, gets trapped in sensory pleasures will be cheated by them. It should be understood that he has harmed himself”.

While the celestial women-folk were thus praising her, Arci arrived in that supreme divine plane where her husband had reached.

Srihari is the foremost amongst the Self-realized. He is permanent. By fixing his mind steadily upon Him, Prithu obtained the most supreme plane. Arci who served her husband also obtained the same plane as her husband.

Prithu possessed supreme opulence. His prowess was super-natural. I have narrated to you his entire story in great detail” said Maharishi Maitreya.

Ya idaṁ sumahat puṇyaṁ śraddhayāvahitaḥ pahet

Śrāvayec chṛṇuyād vāpi sa pṛtho padavīm iyāt

This story of Prithu is supreme. It is very pure. The person who chants this with utmost dedication and devotion, who narrates it to others and the person who listens attentively to it will obtain the supreme plane which Prithu reached.

The Brahmin who recites this story will obtain divine splendor. The warrior (Kshatriya) who recites this will become a supreme emperor. The trader (Vysya) will become the leader for the entire community of traders. The Shudra will become the most supreme amongst all persons of his caste.

Any man or woman who listens to this story thrice with devotion will become fortunate. Childless couples who listen to this will obtain many worthy progeny. The poor who listen to this will become one of the richest in the land. The person with no fame will obtain supreme fame. A fool will turn into a learned scholar.

Idaṁ svasty-ayanaṁ puṁsām amaṅgalya-nivāraṇam

Dhanyaṁ yaśasyam āyuṣyaṁ svargyaṁ kali-malāpaham

This story of Prithu drives away all ill-luck. It drives away sorrows and blesses the person with wealth, fame, longevity. It washes away the Kali-dosham (impurities of Kali) and blesses with accession to heaven.

Persons who wish to accomplish all the four-fold aims of life (puruśārthas) should listen to this story daily from the mouth of a learned Pundit. Among the tools that help in accomplishing the four-fold aims of life, this story is the most supreme.

When Prithu travelled through any kingdom, the king of that land would come forward and accost him with various tributes. Therefore, the king who wants to conquer lands by undertaking victory-tour should read this story before setting off on his tour. Then the kings of those lands through which he travels will come forward and offer him tributes.

The spiritual aspirant should give up inclination towards other materialistic objects. He should develop selfless and pure love towards the Supreme Lord. With such devotion he should listen or chant the story of Prithu or should narrate this story to others.

O Vidura I have narrated to you this story which explains the glory of Srihari. The person who is devoted towards this story will obtain the highest planes that Prithu obtained.

Krishnāya namah.

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