näbhägäd ambaréño ‘bhün
näspåçad brahma-çäpo ‘pi
yaà na pratihataù kvacit
From Näbhäga, Mahäräja Ambaréña took birth. Mahäräja Ambaréña was an exalted devotee, celebrated for his great merits. Although he was cursed by an infallible brähmaëa, the curse could not touch him.
bhagavaï chrotum icchämi
räjarñes tasya dhémataù
na präbhüd yatra nirmukto
King Parékñit inquired: O great personality, Mahäräja Ambaréña was certainly most exalted and meritorious in character. I wish to hear about him. How surprising it is that the curse of a brähmaëa, which is insurmountable, could not act upon him.
avyayäà ca çriyaà labdhvä
vibhavaà cätulaà bhuvi
mene ‘tidurlabhaà puàsäà
sarvaà tat svapna-saàstutam
tamo viçati yat pumän
Çukadeva Gosvämé said: Mahäräja Ambaréña, the most fortunate personality, achieved the rule of the entire world, consisting of seven islands, and achieved inexhaustible, unlimited opulence and prosperity on earth. Although such a position is rarely obtained, Mahäräja Ambaréña did not care for it at all, for he knew very well that all such opulence is material. Like that which is imagined in a dream, such opulence will ultimately be destroyed. The King knew that any nondevotee who attains such opulence merges increasingly into material nature’s mode of darkness.
Purport by H.D.G.A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
For a devotee material opulence is insignificant, whereas for a nondevotee material opulence is the cause of increasing bondage, for a devotee knows that anything material is temporary, whereas a nondevotee regards the temporary so-called happiness as everything and forgets the path of self-realization. Thus for the nondevotee material opulence is a disqualification for spiritual advancement.
It is very easy for one to appear to be detached when one has nothing. Just like there is a famous story of the man who had a beautiful offering of rice that he prepared for his own personal sense gratification and then a strong wind came and the rice went flying in the air and he knew that he had no power to control keeping that rice. It was gone in the wind. At that time he folded his palms and said, ‘Sri Krsna, I offer this to you.’ So this type of renunciation is not very difficult.
But when one by the grace of God has so much but uses nothing for his own sense gratification but rather sees that all is God’s property, all is meant for His enjoyment and if I touch even one particle of it for my own sense enjoyment then the noose of material bondage will tighten around my neck and I will suffer. Therefore such a person has no attraction for that which is temporary and even if he does have attraction, with his good intelligence and by the mercy of the sadhus, he sees that to enjoy anything of this world is like drinking poison. Manusya janama paya radha krsna na bhajiya. Narottam das Thakur has sung like this. saàsära-biñänale, dibä-niçi hiyä jwale, juräite nä koinu upäy. That here I am in this material existence which is like a blazing fire and I have attained by some great, great fortune this human form of life and in this human form of life at every moment I am given the most wonderful opportunity by which I can serve Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha and Krsna. But still I am so attached to ignorance that I continually aspire for sense gratification and therefore willingly moment after moment I am drinking the most deadly poison.
The glory of Ambarish Maharaj
Here we read about Ambarish Maharaj. He was the most fortunate personality. Why is Sukadev Goswami considering him so fortunate? Sukadev Goswami was a renunciate of the first class order. He was so renounced that he would not even accept one thread of clothing for his body. And of course he was living sometimes in the mountains, sometimes in the jungles, sometimes in Himalaya. Burning hot summers, freezing cold winters. He did not concern himself with these temporary pleasures and pains of the body. He would drink one cup of milk per day and he never touched anything else his whole life through. He wandered through the jungles naked. No clothing. And just so that people would not honour him as being very great and very austere, he pretended to be a mad man so that everyone would only insult him, ridicule him, make fun of him and give him no honour what so ever. You see sometimes people become very renounced just so that they can enjoy the adoration of being renounced. That is just another type of sense gratification. Some people like very gross, gross, gross sense gratification. Some people have a higher taste for something more subtle. But Sukadev Goswami spit at the thought of both gross and subtle sense gratification. Not only was he living according to the highest principles of material renunciation, but he arranged his life so that he will only be insulted, ridiculed, and condemned for it. And here Sukadev Goswami who has such a high realization of tapasya, nirmama, that nothing is mine, he is glorifying as the most fortunate – Maharaj Ambarish – who had more prosperity than any man in history, according to this shloka. He had unlimited opulence and prosperity on earth. He had most magnificent palaces. He had ruled the entire world. You know how much these ego maniac like rulers of the earth today want to conquer some little section of the earth. How much sense enjoyment they get from that? They have one country, they can get one more little country then another little country then ‘Ah! Just see how powerful I am!’ Ultimately they want to conquer the whole world. But in our modern history we have never seen any of these eccentric imitation gods conquer even a very large portion of the earth. But Ambarish Maharaj had the complete earth planet under his control. Everyone bowed their heads before him. And yet Sukadev Goswami is glorifying such a person.
The glory of Sukadev Goswami
Sukadev Goswami’s position was he was on a highest level of celibacy. His father Veda Vyas in order to carry on the good name of the family was very anxious to marry him so that he could have children. That means Veda Vyas Maharaj would have grand children. Sukadev Goswami’s other name is Veda Vyas priya. Is it not? Isn’t it the name of Sukadev Goswami? What is ..What is Veda Vyasa Priya mean? (Some voice in the audience.. not audible..)…that is Sukadeva Goswami. What? Krsna. That is also Sukadev Goswami. Are you saying Sukadev was not dear to his father? One name can have many meanings. Just like Krsna means all attractive and Krsna also means black. Ah! Ya ya ya of course. So Sukadev Goswami was very dear to his father. He was the only child, the only son. But Sukadev Goswami was so completely against the thought of having a family, in getting entangled in all this messy business of having children and everything else, that he just walked out. 16 years old he came out of the womb of his mother, he just walked out. His father was chasing behind him. Even before that, he wasn’t even willing to come out. Veda Vyas had to go to Dwaraka to get Krsna to come back and convince the child to come out of the womb. He was so against any material entanglement. And then when he came out, he just walked away and his father was chasing after him. No you cannot renounce the world. You must come home. You must live with the family. You must get married. You must have children. What is this renunciation? Does that sound familiar? Anyone who wants to follow in the footsteps of Sukadev Goswami; guaranteed that your parents are not going to be very happy about it. But Sukadev Goswami just kept walking and his father relentlessly would not give up. So finally, Sukadev Goswami decided ‘Alright. By Krsna’s grace, He has given me some mystic power’. So he created another illusory person that looked exactly identical to him. And Vyasdev thought ‘Oh! Now I have nice son and he has agreed to come home’. And then that illusory false Sukadev Goswami created by his mystic potency went home, got married, had children. This is explained in the Bhagavatam by Sukadev Goswami. And then the real Sukadev Goswami just wandered into the wilderness.
Ashrams based on service
So, sometimes brahmacaris think ‘Oh Grhastas! Look at them. They have wives, families. How can they make any spiritual advancement?’ But here Sukadev Goswami is praising and glorifying Ambarish Maharaj as the most fortunate of all personalities. And he is about to, in several chapters of the Bhagavatam, with his heart and soul, glorify this personality who was living in a big palace, who had a wife, who had children. Ah! Why is this? Does this seem like a contradiction? Those who are superficially conceptualizing spiritual advancement based on one ashram or another are in great illusion. Real detachment, Rupa Goswami explains, is that whatever we have, whatever position we have, we utilize all facilities, all energy for the pleasure and the service of guru and Krsna. Ambarish Maharaj, because it was the need of his devotional service to be a king, because there was a need for him to be married, for the need for having family, need for living in palace, need for conquering other lands, he did it. He accepted it. But he had no attachment for any of these things. He lovingly brought up and served his family. But he didn’t consider ever that it was for my sense enjoyment. It was as a service, as a care taker of Krsna. Therefore even the greatest of all renunciates, Sukadev Goswami is practically bowing his head at the feet of this king. Because whatever he did was for Krsna.
In Lord Caitanya Mahaprabu’s lila, we have a very similar example. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabu had the most beautiful and chaste of all wives. He had the most loving, caring of all mothers. He was living in a very simple but really the most opulent situation. Such sweet friends and associates all around, nice home. But because he saw the great need for preaching in the renounced order of life, he gave it all up and lived in the austere ashram of sannyas. And of course Rupa Goswami, Sananta Goswami, they were living in opulent circumstances. Raghunath Das Goswami, he had a beautiful wife who was as charming and as devoted as an angel. He had the wealth inherited from his father which is equivalent to a multi, multi billionaire and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ordered them to give up everything to live in the forests of Vrindavan only wearing a loin cloth and begging for a little dry bread once very few days but always immersed in the transcendental loving service of Radha and Krsna. And on the other hand, we have such great souls as Sivananda Sen, Maharaj Prataparudra, Advaita Acarya. Nityananda was living the life of a renunciate. There is no record that He ever took sannyas but He was living as a brahmacari. And He was a Avadhuta. He had no consideration of material conditions of life. He was simply immersed in the glorification of Krishna’s name. But in Jagannatha Puri, one day Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Nityananda sat under a tree and spoke for a long time in private. And just after that Lord Nityananda went back toBengaland married two wives. Vasudhi and Jahnavi, the two daughters of Surya Das. So it is understood and explained by the great acaryas that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ordered him to marry because it would be the best thing for preaching for him. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was preaching to one sector of society who could only be reached by those in the renounced order. But those in the renounced order had many limitations and restrictions of who they can contact.
But if a grihasta bends some of the rules too much, nobody really minds. So, therefore he told Lord Nityananda to marry. And after Lord Nityananda married, Caitanya Mahaprabu explained that this Lord Nityananda, if He is seen in a brothel, in a bar, with an unchaste low class woman, I will only glorify Him because I know that it’s for Krsna’s service. Whatever he does. So Lord Nityananda, He accepted the grihasta ashram under the order of the topmost of all renunciates. Why? Because it was the best way he could serve Krsna. There was no question of even a trace of material attachment. When Sivananda Sen met with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabu after sometime, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabu who had given up all material entanglements of association with women and so forth, He asked Sivananda Sen, ‘How is your wife? I heard you had a new baby. Where is this baby?’ He brought this baby and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabu played with the baby by putting His toe in the baby’s mouth and the baby started sucking the Lord’s toes. Because Sri Caitanya Mahaprabu understood that Sivananda Sen is doing as much service as any of the Goswamis and he is as dear to me as any of the Goswamis. He told Raghunath Das Goswami, ‘Get out of this household life. It is like living in a pit where people pass stool and you are like a worm living in that stool. Get out.’ And He told Sivananda Sen, ‘Oh! How is your nice wife and children? Very nice. You are pleasing me very much.’ It is not that one is better than the other. They were both engaging in their particular occupations as an act of service.
Becoming a humble servant
So here Sukadev Goswami is praising and glorifying this great, great king. And Sukadev Goswami in his humility is never thinking himself better than anyone else. The nature of a great devotee is that all other devotees are more fortunate than himself. Sukadev Goswami is explaining here that despite the king having more facility for sense gratification than anyone in the whole earth, he did not care for it at all. For he knew very well that all such opulence is material like that which is imagined in a dream. Such opulence will ultimately be destroyed. The king knew that any non-devotee who attains such opulence merges increasingly into material nature’s mode of darkness. So this is the great, great importance of associating with saintly persons and very carefully hearing from them the truth, which is that I am eternally Krsna’s servant and everything is meant for His purpose. That is the perfection of life. Caitanya Mahaprabu explained (CC Madya 13.80):
nähaà vipro na ca nara-patir näpi vaiçyo na çüdro
nähaà varëé na ca gåha-patir no vanastho yatir vä
gopé-bhartuù pada-kamalayor däsa-däsänudäsaù
I am not aspiring for being sansyasi nor grihasta nor vanaprasta nor brahmacari. I am none of these things. Nor am I a brahmana, kshatriya, a vaysya or a sudra. I only have one position. All these designations are temporary and illusory. There is only one true position to aspire for – becoming the servant of the servant of the servant. Anu means atomic in size. Insignificantly small. Servant of all the servants of the Lord. Gopi bhartur means more or less Gopinath. Lord Caitanya was talking about Gopinath. He aspired to be the servant of the servant of the servant of Gopinath. Bhartur means husband or Lord. Nath also means husband or Lord. So just see how fortunate we are. That very Lord that Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanya aspired to be the servant of has appeared right within our own lives, within our own temple. This was His goal. This was His ambition. And we are about to read the wonderful, wonderful story which illustrates the unparalleled and celebrated detachment, humility and devotion of Maharaj Ambarish as explained by Srila Sukadev Goswami. Is there any questions?
Question : (Not audible)
Maharaj : Why did he behave in that way? Because you see, he was not attached to the slightest. But it was his service to Krsna to convince his son to carry on what he was doing. Sukadev Goswami had his service. Vyasadev had his service. They were both purely thinking in terms of how to fulfil their responsibilities in Krsna’s service in life. And by the arrangement of Krsna they were both satisfied.
After all, Dashrath Maharaj was a liberated soul but he could not live without Ram. That was not a defect. That was his love. Lord Nityananda, Hadai Pandit, his father, after He left this world to accept the renounced life of a mendicant, within days His father died of separation. Is that a disqualification? It was his glory. He had so much love for the Lord. The inhabitants of Vrindavan simply cried for the rest of their lives after Krsna left Braja. That is not a material attachment. You see that Vedavyas, he understood his service to the Lord and he understood his son to be a great celebrated, liberated associate of Sri Krsna. So actually this story further glorifies Vyasadev for those who understand the inner meaning behind it.
Is there any other question?
Question : (Not audible)
Maharaj : That is in the 9th canto. Yes. Maharaj Parikshit asked him. Sukadev Goswami was explaining a particular dynasty and he said Sukadev was a son of Vyasadev and then he explained the son of Sukadev. Maharaj Parikshit said, ‘Wait a minute. How can there be a son of Sukadev, who is the son of Vyasadev?’ And then Sukadev Goswami explained this pastime to him. We can show you. It is in the 9th canto of the Bhagavatam.
Thank you very much.