|Canto 4: Creation of the Fourth Order||Chapter 23: Mahārāja Pṛthu's Going Back Home|
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 4.23.27
teṣāḿ durāpaḿ kiḿ tv anyan
bhuvi lolāyuṣo ye vai
naiṣkarmyaḿ sādhayanty uta
teṣām — of them; durāpam — difficult to obtain; kim — what; tu — but; anyat — anything else; martyānām — of the human beings; bhagavat-padam — the kingdom of God; bhuvi — in the world; lola — flickering; āyuṣaḥ — span of life; ye — those; vai — certainly; naiṣkarmyam — the path of liberation; sādhayanti — execute; uta — exactly.
In this material world, every human being has a short span of life, but those who are engaged in devotional service go back home, back to Godhead, for they are actually on the path of liberation. For such persons, there is nothing which is not available.
In Bhagavad-gītā (9.33) Lord Kṛṣṇa says: anityam asukhaḿ lokam imaḿ prāpya bhajasva mām. The Lord here declares that this material world is full of miseries (asukham) and at the same time is very flickering (anityam). Therefore one's only duty is to engage himself in devotional service. This is the best end to which human life can be put. Those devotees who are constantly engaged in the service of the lotus feet of the Lord achieve not only all material benefits but also all spiritual benefits, for at the end of life they go back home, back to Godhead. Their destination is described in this verse as bhagavat-padam. The word padam means "abode," and bhagavat means "the Supreme Personality of Godhead." Thus the destination of the devotees is the abode of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In this verse the word naiṣkarmyam, which means "transcendental knowledge," is also significant. Unless one comes to the platform of transcendental knowledge and offers devotional service to the Lord, one is not perfect. Generally the processes of jñāna, yoga and karma are executed life after life before one gets a chance to render pure devotional service to the Lord. This chance is given by the grace of a pure devotee, and it is in this way only that one can actually attain liberation. In the context of this narration, the wives of the demigods repented because although they had the opportunity of a birth in a higher planetary system, a lifetime spanning millions of years and all material comforts, they were not as fortunate as Pṛthu Mahārāja and his wife, who were actually surpassing them. In other words, Pṛthu Mahārāja and his wife scorned promotion to the higher planetary systems and even to Brahmaloka because the position which they were attaining was incomparable. In Bhagavad-gītā (8.16) the Lord affirms, ābrahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ punar āvartino 'rjuna: "From the highest planet in the material world to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place." In other words, even if one goes to the highest planet, Brahmaloka, he has to return to the miseries of birth and death. In the Ninth Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā (9.21), Lord Kṛṣṇa also asserts:
te taḿ bhuktvā svarga-lokaḿ viśālaḿ
kṣīṇe puṇye martya-lokaḿ viśanti
"When they have thus enjoyed heavenly sense pleasure, they return to this mortal planet again." Thus after exhausting the results of pious activities, one has to come again to the lower planetary systems and begin a new chapter of pious activities. It is therefore said in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.5.12), naiṣkarmyam apy acyuta-bhāva-varjitam: "The path of liberation is not at all secure unless one attains the devotional service of the Lord." Even if one is promoted to the impersonal brahmajyoti, he runs every chance of falling down into this material world. If it is possible to fall down from the brahmajyoti, which is beyond the higher planetary systems in this material world, then what can be said of the ordinary yogīs and karmīs who can only be elevated to the higher material planets? Thus the wives of the denizens of the higher planetary systems did not very much appreciate the results of karma, jñāna and yoga.
Copyright © The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness