King Citraketu’s Lamentation by Srila Sukadeva Goswami
King Pariksit inquired from Sukadeva Goswami: O learned brāhmaṇa, being obsessed with the modes of passion and ignorance, demons are generally sinful. How then, could Vrtrasura have attained such exalted love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana? Even demigods situated in the mode of goodness and great saints cleansed of the dirt like desire for material enjoyment hardly ever render pure devotional service at the lotus feet of Mukunda. [Therefore how could Vrtrasura have possibly become such a great devotee?] In this material world there are as many living entities as atoms. Among these living entities, very few are human beings, and among them, very few are interested in following religious principles. O best of the brāhmaṇa Sukadeva Goswami, out of many persons who follow religious principles, only a few desire liberation from the material world. Among many thousands who desire liberation, one may actually achieve it, giving up material attachment to society, friendship, love,
country, home, wife and children. And among many thousands of such liberated persons, one who can understand the true meaning of liberation is very rare. O great sage, among many millions who are liberated and perfect in knowledge of liberation, one may be a devotee of Lord Narayana, or Krishna. Such devotees, who are completely peaceful, are extremely rare. Vrtrasura was situated in the blazing fire of battle and was an infamous, sinful demon, always engaged in giving troubles and anxieties to others. How could such a demon become so greatly Krishna conscious? My dear lord Sukadeva Goswami, although Vrtrasura was a sinful demon, he showed the prowess of a most exalted kṣatriya and satisfied Lord Indra in battle. How could such a demon be a great devotee of Lord Krishna? These contradictions cause me great doubt, and they have made me eager to inquire about this from you.
Sri Suta Goswami said: After hearing MaharajaPariksit’s very intelligent question, the most powerful sage Sukadeva Goswami, began answering his disciple with great affection.
Sri Sukadeva Goswami said: O King, I shall speak to you the very same history I have heard from the mouths of Vyasadeva, Narada and Devala. Please listen with attention. O King Pariksit, in the province of Shurasena there was a king named Citraketu, who ruled the entire earth. During his reign, the earth produced all the necessities of life for his citizens. This Citraketu had ‘ten million‘ wives, but although he was capable of producing children, he did not receive a child from any of them. By chance, all his wives were barren. Citraketu, the husband of these millions of wives, was blessed with a beautiful personal form, magnanimity and youth. He was born in a high family, he had a complete education, and he was wealthy and opulent. Nevertheless, in spite of being endowed with all these assets, he was full of anxiety due to not having a son. His queens all had beautiful faces and attractive eyes, yet neither his opulence and his hundreds and thousands of queens, nor the lands of which he was the supreme proprietor were sources of happiness for him. Once, when the powerful sage named Angira was traveling all over the universe by his sweet will, without any specific engagement, he came to the palace of King Citraketu. Citraketu immediately stood up from his throne and offered him worship. He offered drinking water and eatables and in this way performed his duty as a host to an honourable guest. When the ṛṣi was seated very comfortably, the King, restraining his mind and senses, sat on the ground at the side of the ṛṣi’s feet. O King Pariksit, when Citraketu, bent low in humility, was seated at the lotus feet of the great Angira , the sage congratulated him for his humility and hospitality. He addressed Citraketu in the following words.
The great sage Angira said: My dear King, I hope that your body and mind and your royal associates and paraphernalia are well. When the seven properties of material nature [the total material energy, the ego and the five objects of sense gratification] are in proper order, the living entity within the material elements is happy. Without these seven elements one cannot exist. Similarly, a king is always protected by seven elements; his instructor (svāmī or guru), his ministers, his kingdom, his fort, his treasury, his royal order and his friends. O King, O lord of humanity, when a king directly depends upon his associates and follows their instructions, he is happy. Similarly, when his associates offer their gifts and activities to the king and follow his orders, they are also happy. O King, are your wives, citizens, secretaries and servants and the merchants who sell spices and oil under your control? Are you also in full control of ministers, the inhabitants of your palace, your provincial governors, your sons and your other dependents? If the king’s mind is fully controlled, all his family members and governmental officers are automatically subordinate to him. His provincial governors present taxes on time, without resistance, and what to speak of lesser servants? O King Citraketu, I can observe that your mind is not pleased. You seem not to have achieved your desired goal. Is this because of you yourself, or has it been caused by others? Your pale face reflects a deep anxiety.
Sukadeva Goswami said: O King Pariksit, although the great sage Angira knew everything, he inquired from the King in this way. Thus King Citraketu, desiring a son, bent low in great humility and spoke to the great sage as follows.
King Citraketu said: O great lord Angira, because of austerity, knowledge and transcendental samādhi, you are freed from all the reactions of sinful life. Therefore, as a perfect yogi, you can understand everything external and internal regarding embodied, conditioned souls like ourselves. O great soul, you are aware of everything, yet you are asking me why I am full of anxiety. Therefore, in response to your inquiry, kindly allow me to disclose the cause. As a person aggrieved by hunger and thirst is not pleased by the external gratification of flower garlands or sandalwood pulp, I am not pleased with my empire, opulence or possessions, which are desirable even for great demigods, because I have no son. Therefore, O great sage, please save me and my forefathers, who are descending to the darkness of hell because I have no progeny. Kindly do something so that I may have a son to deliver us from hellish conditions.
In response to the request of Maharaja Citraketu, Angira Ṛṣi, who was born of Lord Brahma’s mind, was very merciful toward him. Because the sage was a greatly powerful personality, he performed a sacrifice by offering oblations of sweet rice to Tvasta. O Pariksit Maharaja, best of the Bharatas, the remnants of the food offered in the yajña were given by the great sage Angira to the first and most perfect among Citraketu’s millions of queens, whose name was Krtadyuti. Thereafter, the great sage told the King, “O great King, now you will have a son who will be the cause of both jubilation and lamentation.” The sage then left, without waiting for Citraketu’s response. As Krttikadevi, after receiving the semen of Lord Shiva from Agni, conceived a child named Skanda [Karttikeya], Krtadyuti, having received semen from Citraketu, became pregnant after eating remnants of food from the yajña performed by Angira. After receiving semen from Maharaja Citraketu, the King of Shurasena, Queen Krtadyuti gradually developed in her pregnancy, O King Pariksit, just as the moon develops during the bright fortnight. Thereafter, in due course of time, a son was born to the King. Hearing news of this, all the inhabitants of the state of Shurasena were extremely pleased.
King Citraketu himself was especially pleased. After purifying his body by bathing and by decorating himself with ornaments, he engaged learned brāhmaṇas in offering benedictions to the child and performing the birth ceremony. Unto the brāhmaṇas who took part in the ritualistic ceremony the King gave charity of gold, silver, garments, ornaments, villages, horses and elephants, as well as six hundred million cows. As a cloud indiscriminately pours water on the earth, to increase the reputation, opulence and longevity of his son, the beneficent King Citraketu distributed like rainfall all desirable things to everyone. When a poor man gets some money after great difficulty, his affection for the money increases daily. Similarly, when King Citraketu obtained a son after great difficulty, his affection for the son increased day after day. The mother’s attraction and attention to the son, like that of the child’s father, excessively increased. The other wives, seeing Krtadyuti’s son, became very agitated, as if afflicted by high fever, dueto desire to have sons. As King Citraketu fostered his son very carefully, his affection for Queen Krtadyuti increased, but gradually he lost affection for the other wives, who had no sons. The other queens were extremely unhappy due to their being sonless. Because of the King’s negligence toward them, they condemned themselves in self-loathing envy and lamented.
‘A wife who has no sons is neglected at home by her husband and dishonored by her cowives exactly like a maidservant. Certainly such a woman is condemned in every respect because of her former sinful life. Even maidservants who are constantly engaged in rendering service to their master are honored by him, and thus they have nothing for which to lament. Our position, however, is that we are maidservants of the maidservant. Therefore we are most unfortunate.
Sri Sukadeva Goswami continued: Being neglected by their husband and seeing Krtadyuti’s opulence in possessing a son, Krtadyuti’s co-wives always burned in envy, which became extremely strong. As their envy increased, they lost their intelligence. Being extremely hardhearted and unable to tolerate royal neglect, they finally poisoned to the King’s son. Unaware of the poisoning of her son by her co-wives, Queen Krtadyuti strolled in her house, thinking that the child son was sleeping deeply. She did not understand that he was dead. Thinking that her child had been asleep for a long time, Queen Krtadyuti, who was certainly very intelligent, ordered the nurse, “My dear friend, please bring my son here.” When the maidservant approached the child, who was lying on his back, she saw that his eyes were turned upward. All his senses having ceased to function, there were no signs of life in the boy, and she could understand that the child was dead. Seeing this, she immediately cried, “Now I am doomed,” and fell to the ground.
In great agitation, the maidservant struck her breast with both hands and cried loudly in regretful words. Hearing her loud voice, the Queen immediately came, and when she approached her son, she immediately saw that he was dead. In great lamentation, her hair and dress in disarray, the Queen fell to the ground unconscious. O King Pariksit, hearing the loud crying, all the inhabitants of the palace both men and women came. Being equally aggrieved, they also began to cry. The queens who had administered the poison also cried pretentiously, knowing full well their offense. When King Citraketu heard of his son’s death from unknown causes, he became almost blind. Because of his great affection for his son, his lamentation grew like a blazing fire, and as he went to see the dead child, he kept slipping and falling on the ground. Surrounded by his ministers and other officers and the learned brāhmaṇas present, the King approached and fell unconscious at the child’s feet, his hair and dress scattered. When the King, breathing heavily, regained consciousness, his eyes were tearful, and he could not speak. When the Queen saw her husband, King Citraketu, merged in great lamentation and saw the dead child, who was the only son in the family, she lamented in various ways. This increased the pain in the cores of the hearts of all the inhabitants of the palace, the ministers and all the brāhmaṇas. The garland of flowers decorating the Queen’s head fell, and her hair scattered. Falling tears melted the cosmetic collyrium under her eyes and moistened her breasts, which were covered with red kuṅkuma powder. As she lamented the loss of her son, her loud crying resembled the sweet sound of a kurari bird (osprey). Alas, O Providence, O Creator, You are certainly inexperienced in creation, for during the lifetime of a father You have caused the death of his son, thus acting in opposition to Your creative laws. If You are determined to contradict these laws, You are certainly the enemy of living entities and are never merciful.
My Lord, You may say that there is no law that a father must die in the lifetime of his son and that a son must be born in the lifetime of his father, since everyone lives and dies according to his own fruitive activity. However, if fruitive activity is so strong that birth and death depend upon it, there is no need of a controller, or God. Again, if You say that a controller is needed because the material energy does not have the power to act, one may answer that if the bonds of affection You have created are disturbed by fruitive action, no one will raise children with affection; instead, everyone will cruelly neglect his children. Since You have cut the bonds of affection that compel a parent to raise his child, You appear inexperienced and unintelligent. My dear son, I am helpless and very much aggrieved. You should not give up my company. Just look at your lamenting father. We are helpless because without a son we shall have to suffer the distress of going to the darkest hellish regions. You are the only hope by which we can get out of these dark regions. Therefore I request you not to go any further with the merciless Yama. My dear son, you have slept a long time. Now please get up. Your playmates are calling you to play. Since you must be very hungry, please get up, take my milk and dissipate our lamentation.
My dear son, I am certainly most unfortunate, for I can no longer see your mild smiling. You have closed your eyes forever. I therefore conclude that you have been taken from this planet to another, from which you will not return. My dear son, I can no longer hear your pleasing voice.
Sri Sukadeva Goswami continued: Accompanied by his wife, who was thus lamenting for her deceased son, King Citraketu began crying loudly with an open mouth, greatly aggrieved. As the King and Queen lamented, all their male and female followers joined them in crying. Because of the sudden accident, all the citizens of the kingdom were almost unconscious in grief. When the great sage Angira understood that the King was almost dead in an ocean of lamentation, he went there with Narada Ṛṣi.
— Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam » Canto 6: Prescribed Duties for Mankind » Chapter 14: King Citraketu’s Lamentation » Verses 1-61.