King Pariksit Hears from Sukadev Goswami


Nov 3, USA (SUN)

"From different parts of the universe there arrived great sages like Atri, Cyavana, Saradvan, Aristanemi, Bhrgu, Vasistha, Parasara, Visvamitra, Angira, Parasurama, Utathya, Indrapramada, Idhmavahu, Medhatithi, Devala, Arstisena, Bharadvaja, Gautama, Pippalada, Maitreya, Aurva, Kavasa, Kumbhayoni, Dvaipayana and the great personality Narada."
Srimad-Bhagavatam, 1:19:9-10

This super-excellent miniature painting from the Kishangarh School depicts one of the most transcendental gatherings described in all the Vedas. The great Acarya, Sukadeva Gosvami, is seated on the vyasasana, with King Pariksit at his feet listening intently to the Gosvami's discourse on Srimad-Bhagavatam.

    "Maharaja Pariksit met Sukadeva Gosvami just a week before his death, and the King was perplexed as to what should be done before he was to pass on. Many other sages also arrived there, but no one could give him the proper direction. Sukadeva Gosvami, however, gave this direction to him as follows: "My dear King, if you want to be fearless in meeting your death next week (for actually everyone is afraid at the point of death), then you must immediately begin the process of hearing and chanting and remembering God." If one can chant and hear Hare Krsna and always remember Lord Krsna, then he is sure to become fearless of death, which may come at any moment."
    Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 2

A relatively small number of classical artworks can be found which illustrate this famous scene. Of those we're familiar with, this miniature Kishangarh painting on paper is one of the most compelling and exquisite. In addition to Narada Muni and the Four Kumaras, the artist has shown sixteen transcendentalists in various poses. The sages are seen chanting on beads and sitting in yogic postures. While all listen intently, two of the personalities particularly appear to be in samadhi. The Kumaras and several others exhibit hand mudras, and one holds a flute.

The artist has characterized Sukadev Gosvami's audience as being very diverse, including individuals who are obviously from different Vaisnava sects. This is evident in the various styles of dress, hair and paraphernalia. While we can easily identify the Kumaras and Narada Muni, it is difficult to match the names of sages given above in Srimad Bhagavatam with the personalities shown here. Most importantly, the painting expresses the absolute nature of perfect chanting and hearing as manifested by Maharaja Pariksit and Sukadev Gosvami.

    "The position of Maharaja Pariksit and Sukadeva Gosvami is unique. Maharaja Pariksit is the right person to hear about the transcendental pastimes of Krsna, and Sukadeva Gosvami is the right person to describe them. If such a fortunate combination is made possible, then krsna-katha immediately becomes revealed, and people may benefit to the highest possible degree from such a conversation.

    This narration was presented by Sukadeva Gosvami when Maharaja Pariksit was prepared to give up his body, fasting on the bank of the Ganges. In order to assure Sukadeva Gosvami that by hearing krsna-katha he would not feel tired, Maharaja Pariksit expressed himself very frankly: "Hunger and thirst may give trouble to ordinary persons or to me, but the topics of Krsna are so nice that one can continue to hear about them without feeling tired because such hearing situates one in the transcendental position." It is understood that one must be very fortunate to hear about krsna-katha seriously, like Maharaja Pariksit. He was especially intent on the subject matter because he was expecting death at any moment. Every one of us should be conscious of death at every moment. This life is not at all assured; at any time one can die. It does not matter whether one is a young man or an old man. So before death takes place, we must be fully Krsna conscious.

    At the point of his death, King Pariksit was hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam from Sukadeva Gosvami. When King Pariksit expressed his untiring desire to hear about Krsna, Sukadeva Gosvami was very pleased. Sukadeva was the greatest of all Bhagavata reciters, and thus he began to speak about Krsna's pastimes, which destroy all inauspiciousness in this Age of Kali. Sukadeva Gosvami thanked the King for his eagerness to hear about Krsna, and he encouraged him by saying, "My dear King, your intelligence is very keen because you are so eager to hear about the pastimes of Krsna." He informed Maharaja Pariksit that hearing and chanting of the pastimes of Krsna are so auspicious that the processes purifies the three varieties of men involved: he who recites the transcendental topics of Krsna, he who hears such topics, and he who inquires about Him. These pastimes are just like the Ganges water which flows from the toe of Lord Visnu: they purify the three worlds, the upper, middle and lower planetary systems."
    Krsna Book, Introduction
    Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.

Kishangarh painting is one the numerous Rajasthani schools, which also includes the Ajmer, Bundi, Jodhpur, Kotah, Mathura, Mewar, Nathhdwara and Raghogarh schools of art. The Rajputs arrived in India around the 8th century AD, and Rajput painters became famous for court paintings that were increasingly influenced by the Mughals. Rajput paintings often depicted Sri Krishna and Srimati Radharama. In the 17th century, the Ragamala ("garland of melodies") paintings became very popular. The particular Kishangarh style in which the above painting was done is certainly one the most pleasing to the devotees because of the detailed expression of devotional mood expressed throughout the scene.

Click for a large format version of the painting

For more information:

The Sages Gather to Hear Srimad-Bhagavatam

Maharaj Pariksit - The Personification of Hearing


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