tvayi me ‘nanya-visaya matir madhu-pate ‘sakrt
ratim udvahatad addha gangevaugham udanvati
O Lord of Madhu, as the Ganges forever flows to the sea without hindrance, let my attraction be constantly drawn unto you without being diverted to anyone else.
Perfection of pure devotional service is attained when all attention is diverted towards the transcendental loving service of the Lord. To cut off the tie of all other affections does not mean complete negation of the finer elements, like affection for someone else. This is not possible. A living being, whoever he may be, must have this feeling of affection for others because this is a symptom of life. The symptoms of Life such as desire, anger, hankerings, feelings of attraction, etc., cannot be annihilated. Only the objective has to be changed. Desire cannot be negated, but in devotional service the desire is changed only for the service of the Lord in place of desire for sense gratification. The so-called affection for family, society, country, etc., consists of different phases of sense gratification. When this desire is changed for the satisfaction of the Lord, it is called devotional service.
In the Bhagavad-gita we can see that Arjuna desired not to fight with his brothers and relations just to satisfy his own personal desires. But when he heard the message of the Lord, Srimad Bhagavad-gita, he changed his decision and served the Lord. And for his doing so, he became a famous devotee of the Lord, for it is declared in all the scriptures that Arjuna attained spiritual perfection by devotional service to the Lord in friendship. The fighting was there, the friendship was there, Arjuna was there, and Krsna was there, but Arjuna became a different person by devotional service. Therefore, the prayers of Kunti also indicate the same categorical changes in activities. Srimati Kunti wanted to serve the Lord without diversion, and that was her prayer. This unalloyed devotion is the ultimate goal of life. Our attention is usually diverted to the service of something which is nongodly or not in the program of the Lord. When the program is changed into the service of the Lord, that is to say when the senses are purified in relation with the service of the Lord, it is called pure unalloyed devotional service. Srimati Kunti Devi wanted that perfection and prayed for it from the Lord. Her affection for the Pandavas and the Vrsnis is not out of the range of devotional service because the service of the Lord and the service of the devotees are identical. Sometimes service to the devotee is more valuable than service to the Lord. But here the affection of Kunti Devi for the Pandavas and the Vrsnis was due to family relation. This tie of affection in terms of material relation is the relation of maya because the relations of the body or the mind are due to the influence of the external energy. Relations of the soul, established in relation with the Supreme Soul, are factual relations. When Kunti Devi wanted to cut off the family relation, she meant to cut off the relation of the skin. The skin relation is the cause of material bondage, but the relation of the soul is the cause of freedom. This relation of the soul to the soul can be established via the medium of the relation with the Super soul. Seeing in the darkness is not seeing. But seeing by the light of the sun means to see the sun and everything else which was unseen in the darkness. That is the way of devotional service.
Queen Kunti as a child:
Queen Kunti has served as a guiding light for innumerable aspiring devotees and great Paramhamsas for the past thousands of years. In this particular place, in the Bhagavatam, it is about what Kunti has gone through in life previous to offering these prayers. We read in the Mahabharat that when she was just a child, she was so loving, so charming, in all her mannerisms so much anxious to serve and to please even though she was a princess at that time. She was the sister of Vasudev, the daughter of Suryasen, but Suryasen had a very close friendship with one king by the name Kuntibhoj, who had no daughter. So Suryasen handed over his daughter to this king to take care of and love and protect as his own. Her name was Prtha but due to living in the palace of Kuntibhoja she became known also as Kunti. Even though she had such immense riches, so many servants, she always remained in a very menial service attitude even from her child hood. This is culture. Culture is when we learn how to be loving servants, how to be always trying to please especially great souls, generally we find that children are very selfish and very disobedient and very much self centered. They want to keep things they want to possess and they fight over them. They want attention. So Queen Kunti prayed in such spiritual atmosphere that she was simply aspiring for the loving service of her father, of her friends and especially of the great sadhus that came to their home. And one who pleases the lord’s devotees, one who pleases the great souls they are given the greatest fortune. In fact the greatest fortune is in that service itself. We should aspire for nothing else.
Benediction of a child:
So when Durvasa Muni came to visit the king, in her usual self she served him with such love and such kindness and such humility that she melted his heart. So he gave her a benediction that with this mantra any demigod you call will come. So one day, early in the morning when the sun was rising, she saw the beautiful glory of Surya’s manifestation so she called the sun god with this mantra, not really knowing how serious this was to call the sun god. So he came and she offered her respectful obeisance’s and served him with great love and devotion. She was a child and he said now I want to give you a benediction and she said, “I really do not want any benediction. I just chanted the mantra and now you are here and having your darsan is very nice.” He said, “No, I want to give you the benediction of having a child”. “Having a child? But I am not even married. I am just a young girl. What people will say and if a young girl loses her chastity, what respectful man will ever want to marry her?” He said, “No, I will give you a child and preserve your chastity. For the demigods this is no problem. You will have it within few minutes. No one will ever know.” So in this way soon she had a child.
Birth of five Pandu Sons:
You know the story when she was thinking what to do with this child. “I love this child more than I love my life. But what will be the reputation of my father? What will be reputation of the whole kingdom? What will be the consequences of all the citizens if they lose faith in the ruler and his family?” So she didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t consult anyone. She was only a child. It was a tremendous responsibility. She put the child in a basket and put it along the Ganges. In her heart she was always remembering the child. Her first born who is meant to be the king, but God knows where he has gone. Later on she married King Pandu. Pandu was a very very great chivalrous king and a very great devotee of the Lord. But in this world, things rarely go the way we want them to go. In fact if everything is going the way we want them to go, we must be doing something wrong. This is the way a devotee thinks. A materialist thinks we must be doing something right. A devotee thinks we must be doing something wrong. Because if everything goes the way you want there is no need for God in your life. So Queen Kunti, she had a husband, Pandu, somehow or the other while he was hunting he shot, I believe it was a deer. He thought it was a deer but it was actually a Brahmin, who was just about to have a child with his wife. So his wife became very angry. “For what you have done I give you a curse that, if you ever go to touch your wife to have a child, you will die”. So this was very terrible news for Queen Kunti. She had a co-wife Madri. Here they were young princesses and they were not allowed to have children with their husband. But Queen Kunti told her husband I have this benediction you know. I can call demigods. King Pandu said, “Then you can call demigods and have children with them”. She said, “No, how can I have children with anyone but you?” But he said, “No it is my order”. So out of utter obedience she called Dharmaraj, then Vayu, then Indra and the Aswini-kumaras. In this way, she had five children; Yudhistira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadev. The day Pandu approached Madri, to embrace her and he died. Then Madri entered the fire. So here is this young lady Kunti, who has five children, they were living in the forest together and husband is gone, dead. She was not allowed to enter the fire with him. She wanted but the sages in the forest said, “You must take care of the children. They are young.” She knew that her children were the heirs to the throne.
Kunti’s eldest son:
However Duryodhana and Dhrtarashtra were always conspiring to kill them, to persecute them, to torture them, to humiliate them. They sent them to a house in Vrnataka, so called vacation just to burn them. Kunti was there. They had to hide and escape underground through tunnels. Later on there were great championships match through which Dronacarya wanted to showcase the powers of all his students. During this match, Arjuna totally defeated everyone by his great craftsmanship with his bows and arrows. Just then arrows started flying upon the stage and performing such miraculous mystical powers that they completely overshadowed Arjuna’s and everyone were thinking, who is this person? And then he came in. He had the kavac and kundal of Vivasvana’s son. And Kunti recognized him to be her eldest son. Arjuna was very angry with him. They became instant worst enemies, her beloved child and her other most beloved child. Duryodhana saw that here was someone who could destroy the Pandavas, so he made alliance. Kunti was watching that her eldest son who is actually the most beloved of all her children had joined with the enemy and is bitterly against her other five beloved children. But she could not say anything to anyone. She could only faint and become unconscious. Many years she had to pass in this secrecy, being tormented from within and without by the terrible persecution upon her beloved children.
When the battle of Kuruksetra was about to be fought, it is described what Karna would do. Although he did not know who his father was he had very natural love and devotion towards Vivasvan, the sun God. So every day, just at sunrise he would do the puja and offer worship to the sun god. And he made a vow that whoever asks anything at that time he will give them. So Indra knew that there is only one person on earth who can defeat and kill Arjuna. And that was Karna. Also he couldn’t be defeated as long as he had his kavac and kundal. He is indestructible. So he disguised himself as a Brahmin to beg charity at that auspicious time in the morning. But Surya appeared to him in a mystical way and said, “A Brahmin will come tomorrow, it’s really Indra. He is going to want to take from you what makes you indestructible. Don’t give it to him.” Karna said, “I have made it a vow, I cannot break my vow.” So Indra came. “Ah! You have come at the time of charity. What do you want?” “I want your kavac and kundal.” “But it is part of my body, how can you take it?” He said, “But you have made this vow. You must give it.” Because he was the son of Prtha, the son of Kunti, he had such high sense of honor that with his sword, with an arrow he cut from his chest and his ears what he was born with and offered them to Indra. Then he realized he had become a fallible man. But for the sense of truth he was willing to be so.
Queen Kunti reveals the truth to Karna:
Some days later Queen Kunti came at that auspicious time. He never knew who his mother was. He longed throughout his life to know his mother, to love his mother. Throughout his life he was rejected by all society for being of a lower caste. He was never accepted within the arena of other ksatriyas because of his lower birth. Although by nature, he was the most powerful and greatest of all the ksatriyas, it was only Duryodhana the first person in his life who was kind to him besides his own step mother, his adopted mother. So Kunti came to him at that time and she begged him. First she wanted to reveal to him who she was. She explained to him the whole story. When he heard these words, his heart filled with love for her and he began to embrace her. You can imagine Kunti after so many years of depriving this child of even knowing what his birth was or who she was what an intimate exchange it was for both of them! And then she explained to him that he was the eldest son. She also told him that, “When Yudhistira receives this news he will gladly hand over the whole throne to you. He and all the other brothers will be your servants throughout their lives. Do not fight against your beloved brothers. Don’t kill them. Take the side of the Pandavas and the throne will be yours. This is the benediction I ask”.
He said, “My dear mother, now that I am with you, my life’s great desire has been fulfilled. Now that I know that the Pandavas are my brothers, I love them even more than I love my very life. But still I have made a vow to Duryodhana. I would never betray him. Therefore I cannot. When you, my brothers and everyone in this world rejected me, he was the only one to stand at my side. And if I take the other side he will be defeated. And if I take his side, I will die. That is for sure because Krishna is on the side of the Pandavas. And Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And anyone against Krishna will be vanquished. Yudhistira will be king. The Pandavas will win the war. I have given my word to him. I cannot reverse that.” Kunti pleaded with him, “How can you fight against your own brothers?” So he resolved in his mind he would not fight on this battle of Kuruksetra. So he had a good plan. He and Bhisma never got along because Bhisma, Vidura and Kunti were the only ones who knew his true identity. How did Bhisma and Vidura know? Because when he just came into the assembly, Kunti fainted. They were so clever and intelligent they could understand why she must have fainted. And to honor her they never told anyone. So Bhisma who understood the glories of the Pandavas, being such great devotees of Lord Krishna, he was always very much in a loving mood, chastising Karna for being against his brothers without telling him why. So when Bhisma was made the Commander-in-chief of the Kuru army, Karna said, “If he is commander-in-chief, I cannot get along with him. If Bhisma is not there or he cannot fight only then will I come.” So Duryodhana was thinking with Bhisma what do I need anyone else for. Of course after several days of the battle by the will of Bhisma himself he instructed the Pandavas how he would be immobilized and put into a bed of arrows. At that time Karna was requested by Duryodhana and he had to fight. She begged him, “Please do not kill my children because you have the power to kill them all.” He said, “I vow to you, I will not kill Yudhistira, I will not kill Bhima and I will not kill Nakula and Sahadev. But I cannot vow to not kill Arjuna.”
Battle of Kuruksetra:
So in various times of this war, he completely defeated Yudhistira, Bhima, Nakula and Sahadev. And he practically put the arrow right through their heads where he had them in an utterly helpless condition, ready to kill them and then he let them go. They couldn’t understand why. He is our worst enemy. He could have killed us. Why did he let us go? It was a great mystery for them. It was incomprehensible and of course during the fight with Arjuna, Arjuna could not kill him himself. Only with the help of Krishna, when he was unarmed, unprepared, Krishna told Arjuna to kill him. Now who suffered the most? Queen Kunti was hearing all the news. Her eldest son, her beloved Karna was killed by her other beloved son Arjuna. Can you imagine how much that broke her heart? How much she suffered? And after the whole battle was finished Yudhistira Maharaj was performing the last rites for all of his relatives who had died in the battlefield. At the time Queen Kunti, Yudhistira and his brothers were ready to leave and go back to Hastinapur, she could not keep silent any longer. In her heart she was feeling, I have deprived my dearest my most beloved eldest child for all these years. Now he is dead. I have deprived him throughout his life. He has no relatives. He has no family. He has no one to perform his last rites. I cannot deny him now.
The last rites:
She asked Maharaj Yudhistira to perform the last rites for a dear relative that he had forgotten. Maharaj Yudhistira, he was a very thorough and complete manager. He said, “Mother you are wrong. I have very specifically and very thoroughly seen to the last rites of every one of our descendants and every one of our forefathers and all of the relatives”. She said, “No there is one more”. He said, “Not possible. You show me this one more”. She said, “You come with me”. Yudhistira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadev they were completely perplexed. Has our mother gone crazy? There is no one else who is related to us in this battlefield. So they followed her. They walked a long distance and they came to the place where Karna was laying with a severed head. Queen Kunti with her voiced choked up said, “This is your brother”. And Yudhistira looked. He said, “This is our worst enemy. This is a suta putra. This is a low class son of a carpenter. What are you talking? Have you gone mad?” And all of them, the Pandavas, could not believe what she was saying. What was going through Yudhistira’s mind? Yudhistira knew that without Arjuna, they could not win this war. And Yudhistira knew that only Karna could kill him. Therefore throughout the entire battle Yudhistira’s burning desire was that Karna be killed, no matter how much victory or success was coming in the daily battles. His mind was almost constantly disturbed at the thought that Karna will kill Arjuna. Not only Yudhistira, but all the Pandavas at the back of their minds constantly thought that Karna must be killed. It was the fulfillment of their greatest desire that Arjuna be liberated from, the possibilities of this man’s mighty arrows. He was their worst and most feared enemy in the entire world. And Kunti was saying that they should perform the last rites for him. They were shocked. Queen Kunti would not even speak. Tears were flowing from her lotus eyes upon seeing the slain body of Karna, her sons were looking, why she is crying so much for him? She has not cried so much for any of our close relatives and friends, whom we performed the last rites for.
Queen Kunti reveals Karna’s identity to the Pandavas:
And then she spoke and she told them the whole story. There was complete silence. They were listening to this narration, of how their eldest brother, the first and most illustrious of all the children of Queen Kunti was Karna. When the Pandavas heard this they could not believe it. They began to weep. Tears flowing profusely, their hearts were broken that their own beloved brother was hated throughout their life and ultimately they killed him, completely unfairly. Yudhistira and his brothers all claimed that all the debt of all the millions of soldiers who had been killed on this battlefield and all the grief and lamentation they felt for all of them is not even a drop compared to the ocean of grief they were feeling now at the death of their brother. “Why, why mother did you never tell us this?” And then Yudhistira asked the question, which was the most heart breaking question. And the answer to the question devastated their hearts. He asked her, “You kept this a secret from us. Therefore we hated him vengefully. And simply prayed and aspired to kill him. But did he know that we were his brothers?” She replied, “Throughout his entire life he never knew. But on that fateful day when I came to him, when he was offering his worship to Suryadeva, I revealed who I was to him. And then he told me that it was the happiest, the only joyful moment he ever experienced in his entire life, to come together with his loving mother. And he told me that after hearing this news and after experiencing the embrace of my love, that he loved you five children of mine more than he loved his own life. He told me that it would be impossible for him to fight with any anger or hate towards any of you because of his love for you. I begged him, come join your brothers. You will be the emperor of the entire world and you will live lovingly, intimately with all if us for the rest of your life. Radheya (Karna) told me that they are on the side of Krishna. They will be victorious; I will be killed in that war. But I promise you one thing. I will not kill them. But I have made my vow and better death than breaking that vow”. Then the Pandavas began to remember how Karna had them all in helpless conditions, ready to kill them, but he did not. “Now we understood why, that although we were fighting in that battle hating him and wanting to kill him, he was always compassionate and loving toward us. And ultimately we killed him”. And they all sat down utterly grief stricken. And who was the most grief stricken? Queen Kunti. She had to see the condition of her five sons. She never put them in that misery. But she had to in order for the last rites to be performed for her eldest. So Yudhistira performed the last rites and then in solemn silence they returned to Hastinapur, not at all joyous that they had won the war. There was no celebration. There was no festival for victory. There were only broken hearts.
Queen Kunti’s Prayers:
So then Lord Sri Krishna in Hastinapur arranged for coronation of Maharaj Yudhistira. Now all enemies, all adversaries to the Pandavas were annihilated, now the whole world worshipped them and accepted them as kings. Now their rightful position in Hastinapur had been returned to them. After Krishna so mercifully protected the principles of dharma and protected his devotees against all odds, He was ready to leave for Dwarka. At this time Queen Kunti approaches Krishna. She is not praying, thank you for relieving me of all these sufferings. She is praying, “My dear Lord, I am feeling more fearful now than ever before because when everything was going terrible I had nowhere else to turn to, except your lotus feet. I had no other shelter, no other refuge. But now that everything is very nice, the tendency will be very strong that I will forget you. That I will superficially, offer my prayers and puja to you. Not with a helpless heart seeking shelter. Therefore let there be calamities, let there be problems, let there be sufferings again and again and again. Because in the face of them, I am always remembering you. And in remembrance of you, there is no birth or death. She is praying, please Krishna sever all material affections for even my family members, if they divert my attention anywhere away from you. You are the only object of love. You are the only object of refuge; you are the only goal in life. Please my lord, as the Ganges forever flows to the sea, without hindrance let my attraction constantly be drawn unto you, without being diverted to anyone else”. Srila Narottama Das Thakur has prayed, in happiness and distress in pleasure and pain, I only have you my Lord Sri Krishna, I have nothing else. And Bhaktivinoda prays, I have seen all the 14 worlds, and my conclusion is without you Krishna, there is no one or nothing that can save me. This is the path of bhakti, to put no one before Krishna in our life. In the Bible, one of the Ten Commandments is to put no other God before the supreme God. That anyone in this world that we put between ourselves and God, that we give importance to before God, in our lives we put that person before God as the Supreme God, whether it be our business or our family members. If we give more importance to anyone or anything before our love and devotion to the Lord Krishna, He will never reveal himself to you.
Most important knowledge delivered by Krishna via Queen Kunti:
Bhisma explained on the bed of arrows that, “Love means to repose all our affection in one object, Krishna. You are the only object that can be the reciprocator of all of our affection.” So Srila Prabhupada is explaining in this purport that it is natural to have affection. After all Queen Kunti had so much affection for her children. How she cried, how she wept in various circumstances. But those natural human emotions never allowed her heart to deviate even the slightest bit, from her loving service to the lord. For her complete surrender and obedience to the will of the lord, she was grateful for any situation in life. Seeing the beauty of God’s love behind it all and therefore being grateful does not mean you do not express the human emotions. Queen Kunti, in her hearts of hearts, she is praying let my attraction be constantly drawn unto you, without being diverted to anyone or anything else. The Ganges from Gangotri to the Bay of Bengal is thousands of miles. The current of the Ganges never stops. Nothing can stop the current of the Ganges, no problem, no situation, no attachment, should stop her flow of affection toward Krishna. In essence, this is what the final teachings of Gita means. Sarva dharma……. to perform your worldly duties in dharma, Krishna explains, “Abandon all varieties of religion and surrender to me”. What is surrender? Surrender is on an external platform, obedience to the order of Guru and Krishna. But Krishna, His words, His love all are coming through the spiritual master and the great Vaisnavas. But the internal quality of surrender is the direction in which the river of affection flows from our heart. Therefore a devotee loves his family members. A devotee loves his friends, only in its relationship with Krishna. Without the connection with Krishna the devotee has absolutely no regard for anything or anyone. If it is the will of Krishna to take care of these people out of love for him, I will love them and care for him. But it will all be as an act of surrender to his lotus feet. What do I love about them? Only the presence of Krishna within their hearts, outside of that it is all an illusion. It is all maya. It is all bondage. Ultimately it is all the cause for suffering. These celebrated prayers of Queen Kunti, Krishna spoke this most sublime and important philosophy through the mouth of a mother. Not a great scholar. Not a great pundit, not a sanyasi, but a woman, simple lady, a mother. He wanted to show the world that it is this quality of faith and trust and one pointed love in his service. That is the most glorious attribute and the only means of attaining to the heart of Krishna. Just like Krishna spoke Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna. The prayers of Kunti are perhaps the most important prayers for all the Vaisnavas to hear and chant. They are spoken by a woman, a mother, a housewife, in one sense. This is very important to understand. And even the great scholars of the Vedanta and even the great Paramhamsas sanyasi rejected everything for the loving service of the lord. These prayers are their life and soul.
Severing the tie of Illusion
She prays in the previous verse, “O lord of the universe, please sever my ties of affection for my kinsmen the Pandavas and the Vrsnis”. What does it mean? She did not leave her family and take sannyas but she is praying to sever her ties of affection from her kinsmen the Pandavas and Vrsnis. She wanted to sever that tie of illusion of I and mine within the heart, that this is my children, this is my family, this is my dynasty, this is my caste. This is all an illusion and one cannot love you as long as one is caught up in the evils of illusion. Let me love them only because they are part and parcel of you my Lord. If I love you let me love all your parts and parcels only because of their relationship with you and for no external reason of designations. Because as long as we are attached to any of these external designations, we cannot love Krishna. This is Krishna Consciousness. She has to develop that one pointed love and affection to Sri Krishna. Queen Kunti explains that by keeping our consciousness with him there are 9 processes of devotional service by which we can keep our consciousness connected to Krishna.
And through that association naturally love for Krishna awakens. By coming to the temple, by associating with Krishna’s devotees. Why do we associate? We understand that the devotees are Krishna’s representatives. Love for them is love for Krishna. Love for Guru is love for Krishna. As long as Krishna is always in the center of our relationships, love for our family members is love for Krishna. As long as Krishna is in the center of all of our interactions and the service to Krishna is the object of our relationship, then the love for them is love for Krishna. But if our affection for them diverts us from the will of Guru and Krishna then our so called love for them is only lust, which is the cause of bondage. So in every situation of life we could learn how to love one another. How to repose that natural affection, that is our nature, amongst each other by keeping Krishna in the center. And Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has explained, there is no process that is more powerful in bringing the love of people’s hearts in the flow of Krishna Consciousness than the congregational chanting of his holy names, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
Queen Kunti is praying let my heart’s love be like the Ganges flowing only to you to be represented to the sea. If every devotee is aspiring in this direction, when we come together it is a massive confluence just like at Prayag, the Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati they all meet. It is such a holy place. But wherever the congregational chanting in the holy name takes place it’s far more purifying that place far more holy than even Prayaga. But you have several hundred Ganges of people’s hearts all making a confluence all meeting together at the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha Gopinath. In this confluence, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu explains of the love of the devotees, coming together for the congregational chanting of the holy name. If it is done sincerely it can flood the whole universe with the love of God. And that is our goal. That is the mission of Guru Maharaj, to flood the whole world with the nectar of the love of God. And this is the process they have given us. By simply learning how to sincerely come together to chant the holy names and to keep our consciousness on Krishna. And keep our lives always directed according to these beautiful prayers of Kunti. We can flood the world with love of God. Thank you very much!