THE FIRST BOOK Chapter XVI On Sûkas desiring to go to Mithilâ to see Janaka Vyâsa spoke :-- Then the Devî Mahâ Laksmî, seeing the Deva Janârdana lying on a banyan leaf and surprised, spoke to him, smiling :-- O Visnu! Why are you becoming so much astonished? Before this, since times immemorial (without any beginning) there had been many dissolutions (Pralayas); and many Sristis (creations); and at the beginning of every creation You came first into existence and every time I was united with You; but now You have forgotten me under the spell of that Mahâ S'akti. That Highest Mahâ S'akti is transcendent of all the Gunas; but you and I are with Gunas. Know me as the Sakti, all of Sattva Guna who is widely known as Mahâ Laksmî. After this the Prajâpati Brahmâ, full of Rajo Gunas, the creator of all the Lokas, will come into existence from your navel lotus and will create the three worlds. Then he will perform severe tapasyâ and acquire the excellent power to create, and will create the three worlds by his Rajo Guna. That highly intelligent Prajâpati will create first, the five Mahâ bhûtas (great elements), all endowed with Gunas and then create mind with sensory organs and the presiding deities of the senses, and thus with all the ingredients, fit for creation, will create all the worlds. Therefore He is denominated by all as the Creator of Brahmânda. O highly fortunate one! You will be the Preserver of this Universe. When the Prajâpati Brahmâ will be angry at the beginning of the creation on his four mind-born sons, Rudra Deva will appear. He will appear then from the centre of his eye brows. On being born this Rudra Deva will practise very severe tapasyâ and will get the Samhâra Sakti, who is all of Tamo Guna and at the end of the Kalpa will destroy all this universe of five elements. O highly intelligent one! So I have come to you for this work of creation, etc. So take me to you as your Vaisnavî Sakti full of Sattva Guna. O Madhusûdana! I will take refuge at your breast and will remain always with you. Hearing all this, Bhagavân Visnu spoke :-- O beautiful Devî! The half stanza was ere long heard by me, in clear words; by whom was that spoken? Kindly speak to me on this great auspicious secret first. For a great doubt has come and possessed my mind. What more shall I say than this that as a poor man always thinks of wealth, so I am thinking of that again and again. Hearing these words of Visnu, the Devî Mahâ Laksmî smilingly said, with great affection :-- O Strong and Energetic one! I am now speaking in detail on this; listen. O Four-armed one! It is because I have come to you with form and endowed with Gunas that you have come to know me; but you have not known that Âdya Sakti, the Prime force, transcending all the Gunas, though She is the substratum of all the Gunas. O highly fortunate one! That Devî Bhâgavatî, transcendant of all the Gunas, uttered that all auspicious, highly sanctifying semistanza, the essence of all the Vedas. O destroyer of the enemies! I think that there is the highest grace of that Highest Sakti on you, that She spoke the greatest secret to you for your benefit. O one performing good vows! know those words uttered by Mahâvidyâ, as the essence of all the Sâstra. So firmly retain them within your heart; never forget them. There is no other thing, save that, worth being known in earnest. Because you are most beloved by the Devî! that She has spoken this to you. Hearing the words of the Devî Mahâ Laksmî, the four-armed Bhagavân took that semi stanza as a Mantra to be repeated in right earnest within his mind and cherished that for ever within his heart. After some time, Brahmâ born of the lotus of the navel of Visnu, became afraid of the two Daityâs Madhu and Kaitabha, took refuge of Bhagavân Visnu; Visnu killed the two demons and began to do distinctly the japam of the semi-stanza. Brahmâ, born of the lotus, then asked Visnu with a gladdened heart :-- O Lord of the Devas! what japam are you doing? Lotus eyed! Is there any other body more powerful than you? O Lord of the Universe! whom do you think and thus feel yourself so happy? Hearing Brahmâ, Bhagavân Hari said :-- O highly fortunate one! Think out yourself once of the Primordial Force, the auspicious Bhâgavatî Âdya Sakti who is reigning everywhere as the cause and effect and you will be able to understand everything. My presiding Deity is that immeasurable eternal Mahâ Sakti Brahmamyî; on whose Sakti, as a receptacle with form on this ocean rests the whole Universe; I am thinking of that, by which is created (often and often) this entire Universe, moving and non-moving. When the Devî Bhâgavatî, the giver of boons, become graciously pleased, the human beings become freed of this bondage of Samsâra; and again that highest Eternal Wisdom, the cause of Mukti, becomes the source of bondage to this world, of those who are deluded by Her. She is the Îs'varî of the Îs'varas of this universe. O Brahmâ! You, I and all other things of the entire Universe are born of the Chit Sakti (the power of consciousness) of Her and Her alone; there is no manner of doubt in this. The semi-stanza by which She has sown within me the seed of Bhâgavata will get expanded by the beginning of the Dvâpara Yuga. While Bhagavân Brahmâ was resting on the navel lotus of Visnu, He got the seed of Bhâgavata. Then He gave it to His own son Nârada, the best of the Munis. Nârada gave it to me and I have expanded that into twelve Skandhas. Therefore, O Mahâbhâga! You now study this Bhâgavata Purâna, equal to the Vedas and endowed with five characteristics. In this the wonderful glorious deeds and life of the Devî Bhâgavatî, the hidden meanings of the Vedas and the wisdom, the truth are all described; hence this is the best of all the Purânas and sanctifying like the Dharma Sâstra. It is the substratum of Brahmâ Vidyâ; therefore if men study this, they will easily cross this sea of world; and those that are stupid and deluded get pleasure in hearing the death of Vritrâsura and many other narrations that are interspersed in this book. Therefore, O Mahâbhâga! hear this sanctifying Bhâgavata Purânam and retain it firmly within your heart. O best of persons! You are the foremost of those that are intelligent; so you are worthy to read this Purâna. Eighteen thousand S'lokas are in that Purâna and you better get them by heart; for if anybody reads or bears this Purâna, fit to be praised in every way, all-auspicious, capable to increase posterity by the addition of sons and grandsons, giving long life, happiness and peace, he sees the Sun of Wisdom, resting in his breast and dispelling all darkness of ignorance. Thus speaking to his son Sûka Deva, Krisna Dvaipâyan, my Guru, studied us the Purâna and thought it was voluminous. I got the whole of it by heart. S'ûka studied the Purâna and stayed in Vyâsa's Âs'rama. But he was naturally dispassionate like Sanat Kumâra, etc., the mind-born sons of Brahmâ; therefore he could not get peace in studying the contents of the Purâna which deal with Karma-Kânda (actions) fit for the house-holders. He remained in a solitary place, his heart being troubled very much. He appeared, as if, with his heart void. He did not mind much for his food and he did not fast also. Once Vyâsa Deva seeing his son S'ûkdeva so thoughtful, said :-- O Son! What do you think constantly? And why are you troubling yourself so much? Like an impoverished man, entangled in debt, you are always disturbed by your thoughts. O child! When I your father is living, what for do you care? Leave aside your inmost sorrows and be happy. Cast off all other thoughts and think of the wisdom contained in the Sâstras and try your best to acquire Vijñâna, the essence of wisdom. O Suvrata! If you do not get peace by my words then go, at my word to Mithilâ, the city of the King Janaka. O Mahâbhâga! That king Janaka, who is liberated while living, whose soul is religious and who is the ocean of truth will cut asunder the net of your delusion. O Son! Go to the king and question him on Varnâs'ram Dharma (Dharma relating to caste and stages of life) and remove your doubts. That royal sage Janaka, the greatest Yogi, the knower of Brahmâ and liberated while living, is of pure soul, truthspeaking, of a calm and quiet heart and always fond of Yoga. Hearing these words of Vyâsa Deva, the highly spirited Sûka deva of unrivalled energy replied :-- O virtuous one! Your word can never turn out false; but when I hear that the king Janaka is gladly governing his kingdom still he is liberated while living, and disembodied while he has body -- this your word appears to me quite contradictory like light and darkness at one and the same place and time, and seems that these two epithets simply indicate vanity and nothing else. O Father! This is my greatest doubt how can the royal sage Janaka govern his kingdom, being disembodied. It appears that your word about Janaka is quite false as the son of a barren woman. O Father! I have now got a desire to see the disembodied king Janaka; for my mind is plunged in great doubt how can he remain in samsâra unattached like a lotus leaf in water? O Greatest Orator! Is the liberation of Janaka according to Buddhistic doctrines or like the opinions of the materialistic Chârvâkas! O highly intelligent one! How can the royal sage Janaka, in spite of his being a householder, quit the usages of his senses? I cannot comprehend this. How can the things enjoyed by him appear to him, as if, unenjoyed and and how can his doings be his non-doings? How can the ideas of mother, wife, son, sister, prostitutes and various persons having different relations, arising within him vanish again altogether? And if that be not the case, how can his Jivanmuktahood be possible? If his taste be present of pungent, sour, astringent, bitter, and sweet things, then it is clear that he is enjoying all the most excellent things, O Father! This is my greatest wonder and doubt, that if he has got the sense of heat and cold, pleasure and pain, how can he be a Jivanmukta? That king is thoroughly expert in reigning his kingdom; how then the ideas of enemy, friend, taste and distaste, remaining absent in him, he can govern his state? How can he look with the same eyes a thief and an ascetic? And if he makes any distinction, how then is his liberation effected? I have never seen such a man, that is liberated while living and at the same time an expert king in governing his subjects. For these reasons, great doubt has arisen in me. I cannot understand how can the king Janaka be liberated, while he is remaining in his house? Whatever it be, I desire now greatly to see him after his Jivanmuktahood; so I desire to go to Mithilâ to solve my doubts. Thus ends the Sixteenth Chapter of the first Skandha on Sûka's desiring to go to Mithilâ to see Janaka, in the Mahâpurâna Srîmad Devî Bhâgavatam of 18,000 verses.