Prthu Maharaja - The Personification of Temple Service
Prthu Maharaja Receiving the Four Kumaras
Feb 8, CANADA (SUN) Transcendental personalities who personify the nine devotional practices.
"Prthu Maharaja was the ideal Vaisnava king; therefore he taught others by his personal behavior how to receive and respect saintly persons like the Kumaras. When a saintly person comes to one's home, it is the Vedic custom first to wash his feet with water and then sprinkle this water over the heads of oneself and one's family. Prthu Maharaja did this, for he was an exemplary teacher of the people in general."
"In this connection, there is a statement in the Fourth Canto, Twenty-first Chapter, verse 31, of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, wherein King Prthu says to his subjects, "My dear citizens, please note that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, is actually the deliverer of all fallen, conditioned souls. No demigod can perform this act of delivering the conditioned souls, because the demigods themselves are conditioned. A conditioned soul cannot deliver another conditioned soul. Only Krsna or His bona fide representative can deliver him. The Ganges water which is flowing down from the toe of Lord Visnu falls upon the earthly planet and other planets and thereby delivers all the conditioned sinful living entities. So what need is there to speak of the deliverance of persons who are always engaged in the service of the Lord? There is no doubt about their liberation, even if they have stocks of sinful activities from many, many births." In other words, a person who is engaged in the worship of the Deities can minimize his stock of sinful reactions coming from many, many previous births. This process of worshiping the Deity has already been described, and one should try to follow these rules and regulations seriously."
Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 9
"In his personal behavior, Prthu Maharaja exhibited all good qualities, and in spiritual knowledge he was exactly like Brhaspati. In self-control he was like the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. As far as his devotional service was concerned, he was a great follower of devotees who were attached to cow protection and the rendering of all service to the spiritual master and the brahmanas. He was perfect in his shyness and in his gentle behavior, and when he engaged in some philanthropic activity, he worked as if he were working for his own personal self.
Purport: When Lord Caitanya talked to Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, the Lord honored him as the incarnation of Brhaspati. Brhaspati is the chief priest of the heavenly kingdom, and he is a follower of the philosophy known as brahma-vada, or Mayavada. Brhaspati is also a great logician. It appears from this statement that Maharaja Prthu, although a great devotee constantly engaged in the loving service of the Lord, could defeat all kinds of impersonalists and Mayavadis by his profound knowledge of Vedic scriptures. We should learn from Maharaja Prthu that a Vaisnava, or devotee, must not only be fixed in the service of the Lord, but, if required, must be prepared to argue with the impersonalist Mayavadis with all logic and philosophy and defeat their contention that the Absolute Truth is impersonal.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the ideal self-controller or brahmacari. When Krsna was elected to be president of the Rajasuya yajna performed by Maharaja Yudhisthira, Grandfather Bhismadeva praised Lord Krsna as the greatest brahmacari. Because Grandfather Bhismadeva was a brahmacari, he was quite fit to distinguish a brahmacari from a vyabhicari. Although Prthu Maharaja was a householder and father of five children, he was still considered to be most controlled. One who begets Krsna conscious children for the benefit of humanity is actually a brahmacari. One who simply begets children like cats and dogs is not a proper father. The word brahmacari also refers to one who acts on the platform of Brahman, or devotional service. In the impersonal Brahman conception, there is no activity, yet when one performs activities in connection with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is to be known as brahmacari. Thus Prthu Maharaja was an ideal brahmacari and grhastha simultaneously. Visvaksenanuvartisu refers to those devotees who are constantly engaged in the service of the Lord. Other devotees must follow in their footsteps. Srila Narottama dasa Thakura said, ei chaya gosani yara, mui tara dasa. He is prepared to become the disciple of anyone who follows in the footsteps of the six Gosvamis.
Also, like all Vaisnavas, Maharaja Prthu was devoted to cow protection, spiritual masters and qualified brahmanas. Prthu Maharaja was also very humble, meek and gentle, and whenever he performed any philanthropic work or welfare activity for the general public, he would labor exactly as if he were tending to his own personal necessities. In other words, his philanthropic activities were not for the sake of show but were performed out of personal feeling and commitment. All philanthropic activities should be thus performed."
"My dear Lord of the universe, the goddess of fortune, Laksmi, is the mother of the universe, and yet I think that she may be angry with me because of my intruding upon her service and acting on that very platform to which she is so much attached. Yet I am hopeful that even though there is some misunderstanding, You will take my part, for You are very much inclined to the poor and You always magnify even insignificant service unto You. Therefore even though she becomes angry, I think that there is no harm for You, because You are so self-sufficient that You can do without her.
Purport: Mother Laksmiji, the goddess of fortune, is well known for always massaging the lotus feet of Lord Narayana. She is an ideal wife because she takes care of Lord Narayana in every detail. She takes care not only of His lotus feet but of the household affairs of the Lord as well. She cooks nice foods for Him, fans Him while He eats, smoothes sandalwood pulp on His face and sets His bed and sitting places in the right order. In this way she is always engaged in the service of the Lord, and there is hardly any opportunity for any other devotee to intrude upon His daily activities. Prthu Maharaja was therefore almost certain that his intrusion into the service of the goddess of fortune would irritate her and cause her to become angry with him. But why should mother Laksmi, the mother of the universe, be angry with an insignificant devotee like Prthu Maharaja? All this was not very likely. Yet Prthu Maharaja, just for his personal protection, appealed to the Lord to take his part. Prthu Maharaja was engaged in performing the ordinary Vedic rituals and sacrifices according to karma-kanda, or fruitive activities, but the Lord, being so kind and magnanimous, was ready to award Prthu Maharaja the highest perfectional stage of life, namely devotional service.
When a person performs Vedic rituals and sacrifices, he does so to elevate himself to the heavenly planets. No one can become qualified to go back home, back to Godhead, by means of such sacrifices. But the Lord is so kind that He accepts a little insignificant service, and therefore it is stated in the Visnu purana that by following the principles of varnasrama-dharma one can satisfy the Supreme Lord. When the Lord is satisfied, the performer of sacrifices is elevated to the platform of devotional service. Prthu Maharaja therefore expected that his insignificant service to the Lord would be accepted by Him as being greater than that of Laksmiji. The goddess of fortune is called cancala ("restless") because she is very restless and is always coming and going. So Prthu Maharaja indicated that even though she might go away out of anger, there would be no harm for Lord Visnu, because He is self-sufficient and can do anything and everything without the help of Laksmiji. For example, when Garbhodakasayi Visnu begot Lord Brahma from His navel, He did not take any help from Laksmi, who was just sitting by Him and massaging His lotus feet. Generally if a son is to be begotten, the husband impregnates the wife, and in due course of time the son is born. But in the case of Lord Brahma's birth, Garbhodakasayi Visnu did not impregnate Laksmiji. Being self-sufficient, the Lord begot Brahma from His own navel. Therefore, Prthu Maharaja was confident that even if the goddess of fortune became angry with him there would be no harm, neither to the Lord nor to himself."
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.