Bhagawatam 241: Pracetās begin penance; Maharishi Nārada visits King Barhiśat; story of Puranjana

Keshavāya namah

“Śreyasām iha sarveṣāṁ jñānaṁ niśreyasa param

Sukhaṁ tarati dupāraṁ jñāna-naur vyasanārṇavam

Obtaining Self-knowledge is the ultimate auspiciousness that can be obtained in this world! It is the highest and best! The person who seeks refuge in the boat called Self-knowledge will easily cross this ocean of sorrows which otherwise is impossible to cross.


Worshipping Srihari is not an easy task. Nevertheless, the person who, with absolute dedication, chants this hymn sung by me now will easily worship Srihari. By chanting this hymn he will accomplish the otherwise impossible task.

With an absolute firm mind I have chanted this hymn. Srihari is the repository of every form of auspiciousness. He will be extremely pleased with the person who extols him through this hymn. He will fulfill all the desires of such devotee.

Idaṁ yaḥ kalya utthāya prāñjaliḥ śraddhayānvita

Śṛṇuyāc chrāvayen martyo mucyate karma-bandhanaiḥ


The person who, soon upon waking up, folds his hands listens to this hymn with absolute dedication or explains it to others will be freed from these repeated cycles of births and deaths i.e. worldly bondages.

O princes! Srihari is the supreme Parabrahma. He resides within the individual in the form of the Self. Meditating upon this hymn sung now by me, undertake your austerities with absolute dedication and concentration. When your penance fructifies, Srihari will fulfill your desire” said Rudra.

With this the twenty fourth chapter of the fourth canto comes to an end.



Fourth Canto Chapter Twenty-five

In this chapter, in accordance to Rudra’s initiation the Pracetās get ready to undertake penance; Maharishi Nārada visits their father Prācinabarhi and Puranjanopākhyanam has been explained.

Maitreya Maharishi said to Vidura, “Lord Shiva thus initiated Pracetās, the sons of Emperor Barhiśat. As they were watching, he vanished from there.

Meditating upon the mantra taught to them by Shiva, Pracetās stood in the waters of the ocean for 10,000 years and worshipped Lord Srihari. Meanwhile the ever-compassionate Maharishi Nārada observed that their father Emperor Barhiśat was totally engrossed in performing fruitive actions. He decided that the king should undergo spiritual awakening.

The Self-realized Maharishi Nārada approached Emperor Barhiśat and preached as follows,

“O emperor! You are walking on the path of fruitive action. What is it that you seek as a result of your actions? The welfare of the person takes place only when sorrows are dispelled leading to a surge in happiness. Learned scholars do not agree with the theory that such welfare can be obtained through the path of action. Are you not aware of this fact?”

Emperor Barhiśat replied, “O great saint, I am actually fed up with performance of fruitive actions. Because of this total involvement in fruitive actions I have not actually understood about liberation. It is my great fortune that you have come here to bless me. Please initiate me into that knowledge which is free from every form of impurity and thereby please dispel my ignorance. Please relieve me from fruitive actions.

Gṛheṣu kūṭa-dharmeṣu putra-dāra-dhanārtha-dhīḥ

Na paraṁ vindate mūho bhrāmyan saṁsāra-vartmasu

A house-holder assumes that his wife, children property etc. are the only aims of life. Hence he sinks into the mire called delusion. Such person engages in performance of worthless fruitive actions which only further worldly bondages and lead to more re-births (samsāra). Thus he continues to endlessly rotate in this cycle of repeated births and deaths. Such person can never attain liberation from these re-births”.

Maharishi Nārada said, “O Prajāpati, you have conducted Yagnas without any compassion towards other living beings. For the purposes of these Yagnas you have killed and sacrificed innumerable goats and other animals. Recollect the various animal sacrifices you have performed so far.

All those animals remember the horrible treatment you have meted out to them. In great fury they are eagerly waiting for your death so that they can, with their iron horns, rip you apart. In this connection I will narrate to you the ancient story of Puranjana. Listen to me attentively.

O king, there lived a king in the ancient past who became famous by the name Puranjana. He had a dear friend named Avijnāta. Avijnāta means whose name is unknown or the secretive one. Just as the name indicated, Avijnāta’s activities were totally secretive.

King Puranjana once travelled across the entire earth searching a suitable residence. However, he could not find a suitable place that he liked. With this he was agitated. He felt dejected and depressed.

Although the earth was filled with innumerable towns and cities, this king, who had innumerable desires, could not find a suitable location. His desires were endless. None of the places he visited were adequately equipped to fulfill all his limitless sensory desires.

The king did not give up this search for a suitable residence. While he was thus travelling, once he came across a beautiful city located in the southern side of the Himalayas. With 9 gates and many other auspicious signs, this city was extraordinarily beautiful. It was glowing with exquisite gardens, boundary walls and towers. The tall buildings in this city, which resembled huge towers, were made of gold, silver and iron. Each house had many doors and windows.

Narayanaya namah

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