Vidura Inquired: My dear brāhmaṇa, please tell me how the Pracetas could meet Lord Shiva? Please tell me how the meeting happened, how Lord Shiva became very pleased with them and how he instructed them. These topics are certainly important, and I request that you mercifully describe then to me. O best of the brāhmaṇas, it is very difficult for living entities encaged within the material body to have personal contact with Lord Shiva. Even great sages who have no material attachments cannot meet him, despite their always being absorbed in meditation for this purpose. Lord Shiva, the most powerful demigod, second only to Lord Vishnu, is self-sufficient. Although he has nothing to aspire for in the material world, he is always engages himself in auspicious activities everywhere for the benefit of others. He is also accompanied by his dangerous energies like the goddesses Kali and Durga.
My dear Vidura, because of their pious nature, all the sons of Pracinabarhi very seriously accepted the words of their father. Keeping them in their hearts, they went toward the west to execute those instructions. While traveling, the Pracetas came across a great reservoir of water which seemed as big as the ocean. The water of this reservoir was so calm and quiet like the mind of a great soul. The aquatics living in that lake appeared very peaceful and happy in the shelter of such a reservoir. In that great lake there were different types of lotus flowers. Some of them were bluish, some red; some bloomed at night, some in the day, and some, like the indīvara lotus flower, in the evening. Together, the lotus flowers filled the lake so full that it appeared to be a great ocean of lotus flowers. Consequently, on the shores there were swans and cranes, cakravakas, karandavas and other beautiful water birds. On all sides of the lake, there were various trees and creepers, and intoxicated bumblebees hummed all around them. The trees appeared to be very jolly due to the sweet humming of the bumblebees, and the saffron from the lotus flowers, was blown around by the wind. All of this created a festive atmosphere.
The Pracetas became amazed when they heard the sound of kettledrums and other drums along with other pleasant musical sounds. They were very fortunate to see Lord Shiva, the chief of the demigods, as he emerged from the water with his associates. His bodily luster was like molten gold, his throat was bluish, and he had three eyes, with which he looked very mercifully upon his followers. He was accompanied by many musicians, glorifying him. As soon as the Pracetas saw Lord Shiva, they immediately offered their obeisance in great amazement and prostrated at his lotus feet. Lord Shiva
is known as the protector of gentle and pious persons.
Pleased with the Pracetas, he began to speak as follows :
Lord Shiva said: I know that you are the sons of King Pracinabarhi, and I wish all good fortune unto you. I also know your purpose in coming here, and I have appeared before you to give blessings. Any person who is surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna, the controller of everything – material nature as well as the living entity – is very dear to me.
sva-dharma-niṣṭhaḥ śata-janmabhiḥ pumān
viriṣcatām eti tataḥ paraṁ hi mām
avyākṛtaṁ bhāgavato ‘tha vaiṣṇavaṁ
padaṁ yathāhaṁ vibudhāḥ kalātyaye
A person who executes his occupational duty properly for one hundred births becomes qualified to occupy the post of Brahma; and if he becomes more qualified, he can approach Lord Shiva. A person who is surrendered to Lord Vishnu or Krishna and performs unalloyed devotional service to Him is immediately promoted to the spiritual planets unlike myself and other demigods who attain these planets only after the destruction of this material world. You are devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and as such, I appreciate that you are as respectable as the Lord Himself. I know that the devotees also respect me in this way and that I too am dear to them. Thus no one can be as dear to the devotees as I am. Now I shall chant one which is not only, pure, auspicious and transcendental but is also the best prayer for someone who is aspiring to attain the ultimate goal of
life. Please hear it carefully and attentively. Out of his causeless mercy, the exalted personality Lord Shiva, a great devotee of Lord Narayaṇa, continued to speak to the King’s sons, who were standing before him with folded hands.
Lord Shiva addressed the Supreme Personality of Godhead with the following prayer:
jitaṁ ta ātma-vid-varyasvastaye
svastir astu me
sarvasmā ātmane namaḥ
O Supreme Personality of Godhead, all glories unto You. You are the most exalted of all self-realized souls. Since You are always auspicious for even the self-realized, I wish that You bestow auspiciousness unto me. You are worshipable by virtue of the all-perfect instructions You give. You are the Supersoul; therefore I offer my obeisances unto You as the supreme living being.
My Lord, You are the origin of the creation by virtue of the lotus flower which sprouts from Your navel. You are the supreme controller of the senses and the sense objects, and You are also the all-pervading Vasudeva. You are most peaceful, and because of Your self-illuminated existence, You are not disturbed by the six bodily transformations. My dear Lord, You are the origin of the subtle material ingredients, the master of all integration as well as the master of all disintegration, the predominating Deity named Sankarsana, and the master of all intelligence, known as the Pradyumna. Therefore, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You. My Lord, as the supreme directing Deity known as Aniruddha, You are the master of the senses and the mind. I therefore offer my obeisance unto You again and again. You are known as Ananta and Sankarsana because of Your ability to destroy the entire creation by the fire blazing from Your mouth.
My Lord, O Aniruddha, You are the authority by whom the doors to the higher planetary systems and liberation are opened. You are always within the pure heart of the living entity. Therefore, I offer my obeisance unto You. You are the possessor of semen which is like gold, and thus, in the form of fire, You help the Vedic sacrifices, beginning with cātur-hotra. Therefore, I offer my obeisance unto You. My Lord, You are the provider for the Pitṛs and all the demigods. You are the predominating deity of the moon and the master of all three Vedas. I offer my respectful obeisance unto You because You are the original source of satisfaction for all living entities. My dear Lord, You are the gigantic universal form which contains all the individual bodies of the living entities. You are the maintainer of the three worlds, and as such You maintain the mind, senses, body, and air of life within them. I therefore offer my respectful obeisance unto You. My dear Lord, by expanding Your transcendental vibrations, You reveal the actual meaning of everything. You are the all-pervading sky within and without, and You are the ultimate goal of pious activities executed both within this material world and beyond it. I therefore offer my respectful obeisance again and again unto You.
My dear Lord, You are the viewer of the results of pious activities. You are inclination, disinclination and their resultant activities. You are the cause of the miserable conditions of life caused by irreligion, and therefore You are death. I offer You my respectful obeisance. My dear Lord, You are the topmost bestower of all benedictions, the original and supreme enjoyer amongst all enjoyers. You are the master of all the worlds’ metaphysical philosophy, for You are the supreme cause of all causes, Lord Sri Krishna. You are the greatest of all religious principles, the supreme mind, and You have a brain which is never limited by anything. Therefore, I repeatedly offer my obeisance unto You. My dear Lord, You are the supreme controller of the worker, sense activities and results of sense activities [karma].
Therefore, You are the controller of the body, mind and senses. You are also the supreme controller of ego, known as Rudra. You are the source of knowledge and the activities of the Vedic injunctions. My dear Lord, I wish to see Your form that Your very dear devotees worship. You have many other forms, but I especially wish to see this form. Please be merciful upon me and show me that form, for only that form which is worshiped by the devotees can perfectly satisfy the senses. The Lord’s beauty resembles a dark cloud during the rainy season. As the rainfall glistens, His bodily features also glisten. Indeed, He is the sum total of all beauty. The Lord has four arms and an exquisitely beautiful face with eyes like lotus petals, a highly raised nose, an enchanting smile, an attractive forehead and fully ornamented ears. The Lord is super excellently beautiful on account of His wide, benevolent smile and His sidelong glances upon His devotees. His hair is dark and curly, and His yellow garments, swaying in the breeze, appear like saffron pollen wafting from lotus flowers. His glittering earrings, shining helmet, bangles, garland, ankle bells, waist belt and various other ornaments together with the conchshell, disc, club and lotus flower increase the natural beauty of the Kaustubha pearl on His chest. The Lord has shoulders like a lion.
On His shoulders are glittering garlands, necklaces and epaulets. Besides these, there is the beauty of the Kaustubha-maṇi, and on the dark chest of the Lord there are streaks named Śrīvatsa, which are the insignia of the goddess of fortune. The glittering of these streaks excels the beauty of the golden lines on a gold-testing stone. Round shaped like a Banyan leaf, the Lord’s abdomen is beautiful due to its three ripples. When He inhales and
exhales, the movement of those ripples appears very, very beautiful. The coiled navel of the Lord is so deep that it appears as if the entire universe sprouted from it and yet wishes to go back. The lower part of the Lord’s dark waist is covered with yellow garments and a golden embroidered belt. His symmetrical lotus feet and the calves, thighs and knees of His legs are extraordinarily beautiful. Indeed, the Lord’s entire body is exquisitely
My dear Lord, Your lotus feet are so beautiful that they are like the petals of a lotus flower blossoming in autumn. From the nails of Your lotus feet emanate a great effulgence which immediately dissipates the darkness in the heart of a conditioned soul. My dear Lord, kindly show me that form of Yours which always eradicates all darkness in the heart of Your devotee. You are the supreme spiritual master of everyone; therefore all conditioned souls covered with the darkness of ignorance are enlightened by You as the spiritual master.
My dear Lord, those who desire to purify their existence must always meditate on these lotus feet of Yours. Those who are serious about executing their occupational duties and who want freedom from fear must take to this process of bhakti-yoga. My dear Lord, the king of the heaven is also desirous of obtaining the ultimate goal of life – devotional service. Similarly, You are the ultimate destination of those who identify themselves with You [ahaṁ brahmāsmi]. However, it is very difficult for them to attain You, whereas a devotee can very easily attain Your Lordship. My dear Lord,
pure devotional service is even difficult for liberated persons to discharge, but devotional service alone can satisfy You. Which person, serious about the perfection of life, will take to other processes of self-realization?
Simply by expansion of His eyebrows, invincible time personified can immediately vanquish the entire universe. However, formidable time himself does not approach the devotee who has completely taken shelter at Your lotus feet. If one by chance associates with a devotee, even for a fraction of a moment, he no longer attracted by the results of karma or jñāna. What interest then can he have in the benedictions of the demigods, who are themselves subject to the laws of birth and death? My dear Lord, Your lotus feet are the cause of everything auspicious and the destroyer of all the contamination of sin. I therefore beg Your Lordship to bless me by the association of Your devotees, who are completely purified by worshiping Your lotus feet and who naturally show mercy to the conditioned souls. I think that Your real benediction will be to allow me to associate with such
devotees. The devotee whose heart has been completely cleansed by the process of devotional service, who is favored by Bhaktidevi, does not become bewildered by the external energy, which is like a dark well. Being completely cleansed of all material contamination in this way, a devotee is able to joyfully understandY our name, fame, form, activities, etc. My dear Lord, the impersonal Brahman spreads everywhere, like the sunshine or
the sky. And that impersonal Brahman, which spreads throughout the universe and in which the entire universe is manifested, is You.
My dear Lord, You have manifold energies, and these energies are manifested in manifold forms. With such energies You have also created this cosmic manifestation, and although You maintain it as if it were permanent, You ultimately annihilate it. Although You are never bewildered by such changes and alterations, the living entities become bewildered, and therefore they find the cosmic manifestation to be different to or separated from You. My Lord, You are always independent; I can clearly see this fact. My dear Lord, Your universal form consists of the five elements, the senses, mind, intelligence, false ego (which is material) and the Paramātmā, Your partial expansion, who is the director of everything. Yogis other than Your devotees, namely the karma-yogī and jñānayogī worship You by their respective actions in their respective positions. It is stated both in the Vedas and in the Vedic corollary śāstras, and indeed everywhere, that it is only You who are to be worshiped. That is the expert version of all the Vedas.
My dear Lord, You are the only Supreme Person, the cause of all causes. Before the creation of this material world, Your material energy remains in a dormant condition. When Your material energy is agitated, the three qualities namely goodness, passion and ignorance become active. As a result the total material energy – egotism, ether, air, fire, water, earth and all the various demigods and saintly persons – becomes manifest. Thus the material world is created. My dear Lord, after creating by Your own potencies, You enter within the creation in four kinds of forms. Situating Yourself in the hearts of the living entities, You know them and know how they are utilising their senses. The so called happiness in this material creation is like the bees’ enjoyment of honey after it has been collected in the honeycomb. My dear Lord, Your absolute authority cannot be directly experienced, but one can guess by seeing the activities of the world that everything is being destroyed in due course of time. The force of time is very strong, and everything is being destroyed by something else as one animal is eaten by another animal. Time scatters everything, as the wind scatters clouds in the sky. My
dear Lord, all living entities within this material world are mad after planning for things, and they are always blindly busy with their desires to do something or other. This is due to an uncontrollable greed for material enjoyment which is always existing in the heart of a living entity. However Your Lordship is always alert, and in due course of time You grab them, as a snake very easily seizes a mouse and swallows him. My dear Lord, any learned person knows that unless he worships You, his entire life is spoiled. Knowing this, how could anyone give up worshiping Your lotus feet? Even our father and spiritual master, Lord Brahma, unhesitatingly worshiped You. The fourteen Manus followed in his footsteps. My dear Lord, all actually learned persons know You as the Supreme Brahman and the Supersoul. Although the entire universe is afraid of Lord Rudra, who ultimately
annihilates everything, the learned devotees become free from fear by accepting Your lotus feet as the final destination.
My dear sons of the King, please execute your occupational duty as kings with a pure heart. Fixing your mind on the lotus feet of the Lord, recite this prayer. The Lord will be very much pleased, and that will bring you all good fortune. O sons of the King, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, is situated in everyone’s heart. He is also within your hearts. Therefore, chant the glories of the Lord and always meditate upon Him continuously. My dear princes, in the form of a prayer I have delineated the yoga system of chanting the holy name. All of you should keep this important stotra within
your minds and thus become great sages. Maintaining silence like a sage and giving it great attention and reverence you should practice this method. This prayer was first spoken to us by Lord Brahma, the master of all creators. The subsequent creators, headed by Bhrigu, were instructed in these prayers prior to their executing their duties. When all the Prajapatis were ordered to create by Lord Brahma, we chanted these prayers in praise
of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and became completely free from all ignorance. Thus we were able to create different types of living entities.
A devotee of Lord Krishna whose mind is always absorbed in Him, who with great attention and reverence chants this stotra [prayer], will achieve the greatest perfection of life without delay. In this material world there are different types of achievement, but of all of them the achievement of knowledge is considered to be the highest. This is because one can cross only the insuperable ocean of nescience on the boat of knowledge. Although rendering devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and worshiping Him are very difficult, if one vibrates or simply reads this stotra [prayer] composed and sung by me, he will very easily be able to invoke His mercy. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the dearmost objective of all auspicious benedictions. A human being who sings this song sung by me will certainly please Him. Such a devotee, being fixed in the Lord’s devotional service, can acquire whatever he wants.
A devotee who rises early in the morning and with folded hands chants these prayers sung by Lord Shiva, or one who facilitates others hearing them, certainly becomes free from all bondage to fruitive activities. My dear sons of the King, the prayers I have recited to you are meant for pleasing the Supersoul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I advise you to recite these prayers, which are as effective as great austerities. In this way, when you are mature, your life will be successful, and you will certainly achieve all your desired objectives without fail.
—Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavata Purāṇa) » Canto 4: The Creation of the Fourth Order » SB 4.24: Chanting the Song Sung by Lord Shiva» Verse: 16-72.