The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 780,972 words | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes Discourse of Narada which is chapter 13 of the English translation of the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas containing roughly 18,000 metrical verses. Topics include ancient Indian history, religion, philosophy, geography, mythology, etc. The text has been interpreted by various schools of philosophy. This is the thirteenth chapter of the First Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 13 - Discourse of Nārada

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

1. Having learnt the knowledge of the Soul[1] from Maitreya[2] during the course of his (Vidura’s) pilgrimage, Vidura[3] returned to Hastināpura as his desire for knowledge was satisfied.

2. While Vidura (Kṣattā) asked a number of questions to Maitreya (Kauṣārava), he certainly[4] desisted from them when complete, whole-minded devotion for Govinda (Kṛṣṇa) was generated in him.

3. Oh Brāhmaṇa! finding his relative arrive, Yudhiṣṭhira along with his younger brothers, Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Yuyutsu[5], Sañjaya, Kṛpa, Kuntī,

4. Gāndhārī, Draupadī, Subhadrā, Uttarā, Kṛpī[6], women of Pāṇḍu’s clan and other women, along with their children,

5. advanced to receive him with great joy, like the body animated by the re-entry of life in it. Having formally received him by duly embracing and saluting Vidura,

6. they who were distressed with anxious sorrow caused by separation from him, shed tears of affection. The king paid respects to Vidura when he occupied his seat.

7. When Vidura enjoyed his food, was relieved of fatigue and was seated comfortably in his seat, the king bowed him respectfully and asked him in the presence of his relatives who were listening.

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

8. “Do you remember us who grew up under the shadow of your wings (i.e. protection due to your partiality to us), who were saved along with our mother from a number of calamities like (the administration of) poison, (setting on) fire (the house of lac) and others.

9. In what way was your maintenance[7] (livelihood) carried on while you were travelling over the globe? What places of pilgrimage and important sacred places on this earth[8] were visited (lit. served) by you?

10. Oh self-controlled one (Vidura)! Devotees of the Lord (Viṣṇu) like you are themselves tīrthas (sacred places) incarnate. With the Holder of the Mace (God Viṣṇu) residing in the hearts, they sanctify the places of pilgrimage (and restore their original holiness by removing the sins of other persons accumulated in them).

11. Oh father (uncle), have you visited our well-wishers, and relatives whose god is Kṛṣṇa? Or have you heard that the Yādavas are living happily in their own city (Dvārakā)?”

12. Vidura, who was thus addressed by Dharmarāja (Yudhiṣṭhira), described fully everything that was experienced by him, in a serial order except the destruction of the Yadu- clan.

13. The compassionate (Vidura being) unable to see distressed persons, did not, of course, report the disagreeable (destruction of the Yādava clan) which (though) took place of itself, was very unbearable to men.

14. Then being received like a god, (Vidura) teaching philosophy (lit. giving instructions on truth) to his elder brother, and securing the love of all, stayed happily for some time, in the city of Hastināpura.

15. While Yama bore the curse[9] of (living) the life of a Śūdra for a hundred years, Aryaman (the 2nd Sun out of the twelve Suns) dispensed punishment to the sinners according to their (respective) sins.

16. With kingdom restored to him and with great royal splendour, Yudhiṣṭhira, having seen his grandson, the maintainer of his family, was happy with his brothers (who were) like the guardians of the quarters (of the world).

17. In this way, unendurable Time of the negligent (blundering people[10]) attached to households (domestic affairs) passed away inperceptibly, due to their desire (of enjoyment) of such pleasures.

18. Noticing the indications of the Time, Vidura spoke to Dhṛtarāṣṭra, “Oh king! look at the fear (fearful period); let your departure be quick.

19. Oh king, the mighty Time against which no defence can ever be made from any quarter in this world, has now arrived for us all.

20. And overpowered by whom, these people are instantly deprived of their dearest life—what of other things like wealth etc.

21. Your father (i.e. uncle Bhīṣma), brothers, friends and sons are killed. Youth has departed. Your body is overpowered by old age. Still you take shelter in the house of the enemy.

22. Oh! How wonderfully strong is the desire of a living being, for life, on account of which Your Honour accepts like a domestic dog, a lump of food scornfully given to you by Bhīma.

23. What value is to that life spared by them (Pāṇḍavas) who were put to fire, were administered poison and whose wife was insulted by you and whose lands, wealth and kingdom were also taken away (deprived by) you.

24. This body of a miserly man like you who wishes to live, becomes old by old age even though you do not wish it, like (the withering away of) your under and upper garments.[11]

25.[12] Certainly that person is called wise who being free from attachment to worldly objects and released from the bondage (of pride or ego) and departing in a mysterious way, leaves this body, free from (the desire of) glory etc.

26. He is the best of men in whom indifference to the world (worldly objects) is generated either from within or due to the advice of others and who has subdued his mind and who, with Hari in his heart[13], goes out of home as a recluse.

27. Let Your Honour proceed to the northern direction without the knowledge of your relatives. Mostly the coming period is destructive to the qualities of men.

28. In this way, the king of the Ajamīḍha[14] family, whose intellect was his sight (i.e. who was physically blind) and who was thus enlightened by his younger brother Vidura, firmly cut as under his bond of affection to his relatives and proceeded as per way directed by his brother.

29. The virtuous daughter of Subala[15] ever devoted to her husband, followed him to the Himālayas, (which is) a great delight of the recluses just as fighting (lit. hard blows in fight) is (enjoyable) to warriors[16].

30. When Yudhiṣṭhira (lit. the adversaryless king, enemy of none) after performing Sandhyā (prayer to the Sun) and offering oblations to fire, and having bowed to Brāhmaṇas by giving sesame seeds, cows, land and gold, entered the house (palace of Dhṛtarāṣṭra) for paying respects to the elders, he did not find his uncles and Gāndhārī (the daughter of Subala).

31.Agitated in mind, he asked Sañjaya who was sitting there, “Oh son of Gavalgaṇa[17], (Sañjaya) where is our father (uncle) who is stricken with age and blind in eyes?

32.Oh friend! Where has Mother (Gāndhāri) distressed due to the killing of her sons, gone (along with) friendly uncle (Vidura)? Has he (Dhṛtarāṣṭra), being aggrieved at the killing of his relatives and afraid of me (as) the guilty ignorant (person),[18] thrown himself in the Gaṅgā along with his wife?

33.Where have uncles who have protected all of us from dangers (difficulties) after the demise of our father Pāṇḍu, gone from this place?

Sūta said:

34.Not finding his master (Dhṛtarāṣṭra), the Sūta (Sañjaya) who, out of compassion and bewilderment due to his affection (for Dhṛtarāṣṭra). grew extremely distressed and emaciated, did not reply (for some time).

35.Wiping out tears by (his) hands and mustering courage (within himself), and remembering the feet of his master, he replied to Yudhiṣṭhira.

Sañjaya said:

36.‘Oh, son of a high family! I do not know the decisions (regarding the course of actions) of your uncles or that of Gāndhāri. Oh long-armed one, I am bereaved of the great- souled ones.’

37. At that time (there) arrived the great sage Nārada along with Tumburu[19]. He (Yudhiṣṭhira) along with his younger brothers, rose up, saluted them, received them in a way, and asked.

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

38. “Oh revered (sage), I do not know the movements of my uncles. Where have they gone from here? Or where has the poor mother afflicted with the killing of her sons, gone?

39. Oh illustrious one, you are like a helmsman who shows the coast beyond, in this boundless ocean (of worldly existence).”

Thereupon the great Nārada, the best of the sages, replied.

40. “Oh king, do not grieve for anybody as the whole world is under the control of the Almighty, the Controller (of the universe) whom all worlds along with their guardian deities worship,and who unites or separates the beings.

41. Just as bullocks with noses bored through with strings are bound in a row to a rope (carry the load of the master[20], persons bound by different designations[21] to the big cord in the from of the Veda, carry out the orders of (or perform the worship of) the controller of the universe.

42. Just as assembling and removal of articles of game are done according to the sweet will of the player, so is the union and separation of human beings (brought about) by the will of the Almighty.

43. Even if you consider the world as eteṛnal or noneternal or both, or neither (eternal and non-eternal) it does not behove you at all to lament for them (relatives) unless it be out of affection, a manifestation of delusion.

44. Therefore, dear sir, give up this grief caused by ignorance of your mind, (thinking) ‘How will they who are without protection and in a miserable condition, live without my protection?’

45. This body is composed of five elements and is subject to the (influence of) Time and (effects of) actions and attributes. How can (a person) save another, like one being swallowed by a serpent (is unable to save) others?

46. The handless (animals) are the means of sustenance (of life) to the beings possessed of hands (viz. human beings); the footless (i.e. grass) (is so) to the quadrupeds; the inferior are (the food) of the superior; (thus all less powerful) beings are the means of sustaining life to (all other more powerful) beings.

47. Oh king, this (universe) is, therefore, the self manifesting glorious Lord (himself). He is one, the soul of Souls. He shines (manifests) internally and externally (both as enjoyer and the objects of enjoyment). Look, He is manifold (in form) due to Māyā.[22]

48. Oh great king, the Supreme Lord, the creator of beings, has today come down on this earth as the Destroyer for exterminating the enemies of Gods.

49. The work to be done for Gods is (practically) completed, (only some) balance is expected to be completed. You wait for some time, till the God (Lord Kṛṣṇa) is here (on this earth).

50. Dhṛtarāṣṭra, accompanied by his consort Gāndhārī and (his) brother (Viḍura) has gone to the ḥermitage of sages, by the southern side of the Himālayas.

51. (The hermitage) is called Saptasrota (the shrine of seven streams) as verily the divine Ganges with her seven currents branches itself off into seven separate streams for the satisfaction of the seven sages.[23]

52. Taking bath three times a day (as per twilights), and offering libations to the fire according to the prescribed religious rules, he who lives on water only, stays with a quiet Soul, free from earthly desires.

53. With mastery over (Yogic) posture and control over breath and restraint of six organs [five sense organs+mind, the internal organ], he (Dhṛtarāṣṭra) has washed off (lit. shattered) the dirt of the three attributes (viz. sattva, rajas and tamas) by his concentration on Hari (Lord Kṛṣṇa).

54. Having withdrawn mind (ātman associated with Ego-ahaṃkāra—) from the gross body and merged it with intelligence (buddhi or Vijñānātma) and that with Soul (kṣetrajña) and the Soul with Brahman, the basis of all, just as the Vacuum (space) within a jar merges in the bigger Space.

55. One who has destroyed the resultant of the attributes of the Illusion (māyā) and restrained mind (the essence i.e. controller of the mind) and one who has abstained from eating altogether, he (Dhṛtarāṣṭra) sits motionless like a pillar. You should not become an obstacle to him who has given up all actions.

56. He will verily give up his own mortal frame on the fifth day from today and it will be reduced to ashes.

57. When the body of the husband (Dhṛtarāṣṭra) will be burnt by fires along with the hut (hermitage), the virtuous wife (Gāndhārī) standing outside will enter that very fire.

58. Oh son of the Kuru family, having seen that miracle, Vidura with a mixed feeling of joy (at Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s liberation) and sorrow (for his brother’s demise) will go on a pilgrimage to sacred places.”

59. Having told this, Nārada, along with Tumburu, ascended to heaven. Yudhiṣṭhira, bearing his words in mind, gave up sorrow.

Footnotes and references:


ātmanogatim—(i) The Lord Hari, (who is the highest goal of achievement)—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā

(ii) Knowledge about the real nature of Śrī KṛṣṇaBhāvārtha-dīpikā-prakāśa

(iii) Devotion to Hari—Kramasandarbha., Bhāvārtha-dīpikā-prakāśa

(iv) Knowledge about the Supreme SpiritBhāgavata Candrikā, Padaratnāvalī

(v) Knowledge about heaven, hell etc. to which the individual soul goes (after death)—Padaratnāvalī

(vi) The diversions or the workings of the Lord (Kṛṣṇa), the (Supreme) Soul—Subodhinī


Maitreya—Also Kauṣārava, a siddha who under instructions from Kṛṣṇa explained the science of the Supreme Soul (ātmavidyā) to Vidura. The conversation between Vidura and Maitreya is given in BH. P. Skandha III and IV. (P.I. 2.739-40.)


Vidura—A son of Vyāsa by a maid-servant. She was sent by Ambikā, the widowed queen of Vicitravīrya, to Vyāsa when she (the queen) was pressed by her mother-in-law Satyavatī to submit to Vyāsa. Vidura is called a kṣattṛ (vide the next verse) which is normally applied to a child born of a Śūḍra man and Kṣatriya woman (ASDP. 384). He was however treated as a step-brother of Dhṛtarāṣṭra. He was well disposed to Pāṇḍavas and warned them of the evil designs of Duryoḍhana. According to Mahābhārata, Vidura left Hastināpura finally along with Dhṛtarāṣṭra and Gāndhārī for penance. He then went away to perform austere penance alone in the forest. When Yudhiṣṭhira contacted him in a lonely place, Vidura, by his Yogic power, gave up his body and entered the person of Yudhiṣṭhira (Mahābhārata Āśrama 26.20.33).—Mahābharāta Nāmānukramaṇikā 309-12.


ha—This particle shows ‘complete satisfaction’—Padaratnāvalī


Yuyutsu—Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s son from of a Vaiśya woman. He was a partisan of Pāṇḍavas.


KṛpīDroṇa’s wife, sister of Kṛpa, Aśvatthāman’s mother.


Subodhinī explains that here the genitive case (vaḥ) is used, as Vidura was unattached and actively disinterested in his life. Hence the instrumental case is not used. Padaratnāvalī states that Yudhiṣṭhira wanted to know whether Vidura observed vows like eating once a day etc. during his pilgrimage.


The distinction between Tīrtha and Kṣetra is as follows:

Tīrthas are generally connected with water like sanctified rivers as the Ganges, lakes, like Puṣkara, Mānasa etc. Kṣetra is originally a limited sacred tract of land e.g, Kurukṣetra, Jagannātha Purī. Later on, they came to mean ‘holy places’ in general.


The sage Māṇḍavya was wrongly sentenced to be impaled as he was mistakenly arrested along with the thieves. When the king came to know of the truth, he went to the sage Māṇḍavya, got him down from the stake of impalement and sincerely apologised. Māṇḍavya went to Yama and demanded of him the reason of impalement despite his innocence. Yama explained to him that it was due to his transfixment of an insect during his childhood. He cursed Yama to be born as a Śūdra for giving him such a disproportionately heavy retributory punishment for a comparatively light offence committed during infancy, due to ignorance.


Kramasandarbha., VC., Bhāvārtha-dīpikā-prakāśa exempt Pāṇḍavas from this category, as according to BH. P. 1.12.6 Yudhiṣṭhira (and others) were unattached to enjoyment due to their devotion to Kṛṣṇa. Kramasandarbha. specifically states that Vidura gave the advice only to Yudhiṣṭhira and not to Pāṇḍavas. Bhāgavata Candrikā states that the time or period ordained for worldly enjoyment of Pāṇḍavas had passed.


Padaratnāvalī,VC. and Bhāvārtha-dīpikā-prakāśa explain that the upper and inner garments signify gross and subtle bodies. Wrinkles, baldness mark the oldness of the gross body and blindness, deafness etc. of the subtle body.


Bhāgavata Candrikā interprets as follows:

A person who being desireless (about his body etc.), free from the worldly bondages (of merits and sins). whose passing away is not known (to his relatives), quits this body from which objectives of worldly life (puruṣārthas) are expected, is called a Yogin.

Padaratnāvalī gives a different interpretation, which may be summarised as follows:—A person, free from the (pride of his) body, the object of which is the achievement of happiness here and hereafter and thereby liberated from the bonds (of love for one’s wife and others) and whose movements (i.e. departure to forest etc.) are not known, is called wise and should by penance make his body fulfil its objective (viz. liberation).


Subodhinī is strongly against even spiritual suicide. One should know the Lord, concentrate on him in his heart, give up the idea of quitting his body. He should continue to recite mentally the most valuable name of God and leave his house as it would come in his way of spiritual progress.


Ajamīḍha—A son of Hastin. Had three queens of Kuru line. One branch of his descendants, e.g. Priyamedha and others became Brāhmaṇas while another branch, e.g. Bṛhadiṣu and others, was Kṣattriyā—Bhāratīya Paurāṇika Kośa 6, Purāṇa Index. 1.30.


Subala—King of Gāndhāra; father of Gāndhārī, Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s queen.


v.l. sat-samprahāra [samprahāram]: Just as a severe battle in which hard blows are given, is liked by the brave, the Himālayas though cold and full of hardships (due to its mountaneous nature) are liked by ascetics.


Gavalgaṇa—A sage like learned Sūta, father of the famous Sūta Sañjaya of Dhṛtarāṣṭra.


āśaṃsamānaḥ śamalam—Various conjectures are given by the commentators in explaining these words. For example:

(1) Yudhiṣṭhira has not spared a single son. What is the propriety of living now?—VC.

(2) Yudhiṣṭhira has killed his brothers, usurped their kingdom anḍ expelled me. Has he not become so evil-minded?—Padaratnāvalī

(3) ‘Let the sin of my death also be visited on his head’. With this desire Dhṛtarāṣṭra threw himself in the Ganges.—Kramasandarbha.

It can also be translated: “apprehensive of an offence from me, a dull-witted person.”


Tumburu—A Gandharva disciple of Nārada, expert in divine music; accompanied Nārada at the time of this visit to Yudhiṣṭhira and returned with him to heaven. Sang the praise of Kṛṣṇa when he held the Govardhana. His two daughters Manovatī and Sukeśā reside in the Sun’s chariot in the months of Caitra and Madhu.—Purāṇa Index. 2.29


Though no words in the text of this verse support this these words are added in this translation on the authority of eminent commentators like Bhāvāratha Dīpikā, Padaratnāvalī, Siddhāntapradīpa, Bālaprabodhini


Designations such as Brāhmaṇa, Kṣatriya or of stages in life, e.g. Brahmacārin, Gṛhastha.


I have mainly followed Bhāvāratha Dīpikā in this literal interpretation, though as usual commentators of non-Śaṅkara Schools stress their viewpoints as ‘tātparyārtha’.


The usual list of seven sages is Marīci, Atri, Aṅgiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu and Vasiṣṭha.

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