The Activities Of Maharaja Priyavrata Conversation between Sukadeva Goswami and Maharaja Pariksit
Sukadeva Goswami said: O best of kings [King Pariksit], I have now finished telling about the descendants of the first son of Svayambhuva Manu, Uttanapada. Now I shall relate the activities of the descendants of Priyavrata, the second son of Svayambhuva Manu. Please hear about them attentively. Although Maharaja Priyavrata received instructions from the great sage Narada, he still went on to rule the earth. After fully enjoying material possessions, he divided his property among his sons. By this renunciation He attained a position from which he could return home, back to Godhead.
Maharaja Pariksit inquired: King Priyavrata was a great, self-realized devotee of the Lord. Why then did he, remain in household life, which is the root cause of the bondage of karma [fruitive activities] and which defeats the mission of human life? Devotees are certainly liberated persons. Therefore, O greatest of the brāhmaṇas, they cannot possibly become absorbed in family affairs. Elevated mahātmās who have taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are fully satiated by the shade of those lotus feet. Their consciousness cannot possibly become attached to family members. O great brāhmaṇa, this is my doubt: How was it possible for a person like King Priyavrata, who was so attached to wife, children and home, to achieve the topmost and infallible perfection in Krishna consciousness?
Glories Of King Priyavrata
Sri Sukadeva Goswami said: O king, what you have said is quite correct. The glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is praised in eloquent, transcendental verses by such exalted personalities as Brahma, are very pleasing to elevated devotees and liberated persons. One who is attached to the nectarean honey from the Lord’s lotus feet, and whose mind is always absorbed in His glories, may sometimes be checked by some impediment, but still he never gives up the exalted position he has acquired. Prince Priyavrata was a great devotee because he sought shelter at the lotus feet of Narada, his spiritual master, and thus achieved the highest perfection in transcendental knowledge. Due to his advanced knowledge, he always engaged in discussing spiritual subjects and never directed his attention to anything else. The Prince’s father then asked him to take charge of ruling the world. He tried to convince Priyavrata that this was his duty indicated in the revealed scriptures. Prince Priyavrata, however, was continuously
practicing bhakti-yoga by always remembering the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and engaging all his senses in His service. Therefore, although the order of his father could not be rejected, the Prince did not welcome it. Thus he very conscientiously raised the question of whether he might be distracted from devotional service by accepting the responsibility of ruling over the world.
The first created being and most powerful demigod in this universe is Lord Brahma, who is responsible for developing universal affairs. Born directly from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he dedicates his activities to the welfare of the entire universe, for he knows the purpose of the universal creation. This supremely powerful Lord Brahma, accompanied by his associates and the personified Vedas, left his abode in the highest planetary system and descended to the place where Prince Priyavrata’s was in meditation. As Lord Brahma descended on his carrier, the great swan, all the residents of the planets named Siddhaloka, Gandharvaloka, Sadhyaloka and Caranaloka, as well as great sages and demigods flying in their different airplanes, assembled to receive and duly worship Lord Brahma. As he received their respect and adoration, Lord Brahma appeared just like the full moon surrounded by illuminating stars. Lord Brahma’s great swan then arrived at Gandhamadana Hill and approached Prince Priyavrata, who was sitting there. Lord Brahma, the father of Narada Muni, is the supreme person within this universe. As soon as Narada saw the great swan, he could understand that Lord Brahma had arrived. Therefore he immediately stood up, along with Svayambhuva Manu and his son Priyavrata, whom Narada was instructing. Then they all folded their hands and began to worship Lord Brahma with great respect. Because Lord Brahma had descended from Satyaloka to Bhuloka, Narada Muni, Prince Priyavrata and Svayambhuva Manu came forward to offer him objects of worship and to praise him in highly eloquent language, in accordance with Vedic etiquette. At that time, Lord Brahma, the original person of this universe, felt compassion for Priyavrata and, looking upon him with a smiling face, spoke to
him as follows.
Lord Brahma, the supreme person within this universe, said: My dear Priyavrata, kindly hear attentively what I shall say to you. Do not be jealous of the Supreme Lord, who is beyond our experimental measurements. All of us, including Lord Shiva, your father and the great sage Mahārṣi Narada, must carry out the order of the Supreme. We cannot deviate from His order. One cannot avoid the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in any manner not by the strength of severe austerities, an exalted Vedic education, or the power of mystic yoga, physical prowess or intellectual activities. Nor can one use his power of religion, his material opulence or any other means, either by himself or with the help of others, to defy the orders of the Supreme Lord. That is not possible for any living being, from Brahma down to the tiny ant. My dear Priyavrata, by the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, all living entities accept different types of bodies for birth and death, activity, lamentation, illusion, fear of future dangers, and happiness and distress. My dear boy, all of us are bound by the Vedic injunctions to the divisions of varṇāśrama according to our qualities and work. These divisions are difficult to avoid because they are scientifically arranged. We must therefore carry out our duties of varṇāśrama-dharma, like bulls obliged to move according to the direction of a driver pulling on ropes knotted to their noses. My dear Priyavrata, according to our association with different modes of material nature, the Supreme Personality of Godhead gives us our specific bodies and the happiness and distress we achieve. One must therefore remain situated as he is and be conducted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, exactly as a blind man is led by a person who has eyesight.
— Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavata Purāṇa) » Canto 5: The Creative Impetus » Chapter 1: The Activities of Maharaja Priyavrata » Verses: 1-41.