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When the great sage Nārada heard that Lord Kṛṣṇa had married sixteen thousand wives after He had killed the demon Narakāsura, sometimes called Bhaumāsura, he was astonished that Lord Kṛṣṇa had expanded Himself into sixteen thousand forms and married these wives simultaneously in different palaces. Being inquisitive as to how Kṛṣṇa was managing His household affairs with so many wives, Nārada, desiring to see these pastimes, set out to visit Kṛṣṇa’s different homes. When Nārada arrived in Dvārakā, he saw gardens and parks full of various flowers of different colors, and also orchards overloaded with a variety of fruits. Beautiful birds were chirping, and peacocks crowed delightfully. There were ponds full of blue and red lotus flowers, and some of these tanks were filled with varieties of lilies. The lakes were full of nice swans and cranes, and the voices of these birds resounded everywhere. In the city there were as many as 900,000 great palaces built of first-class marble, with gates and doors made of silver. The pillars of the houses and palaces were bedecked with jewels such as touchstone, sapphire and emerald, and the floors gave off a beautiful luster. The highways, lanes, streets, crossings and marketplaces were all beautifully decorated. The whole city was full of residential homes, assembly houses and temples, all of different architectural beauty. All of this made Dvārakā a glowing city. The big avenues, crossings, lanes and streets, and also the thresholds of every residential house, were very clean. On both sides of every path there were bushes, and at regular intervals there were large trees that shaded the avenues so that the sunshine would not bother the passersby.
In this greatly beautiful city of Dvārakā, Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, had many residential quarters. The great kings and princes of the world used to visit these palaces just to worship Him. The architectural plans were made personally by Viśvakarmā, the engineer of the demigods, and in the construction of the palaces he exhibited all of his talents and ingenuity. These residential quarters numbered more than sixteen thousand, and a different queen of Lord Kṛṣṇa resided in each of them. The great sage Nārada entered one of these houses and saw that the pillars were made of coral and the ceilings were bedecked with jewels. The walls as well as the arches between the pillars glowed from the decorations of different kinds of sapphires. Throughout the palace were many canopies made by Viśvakarmā that were decorated with strings of pearls. The chairs and other furniture were made of ivory and bedecked with gold and diamonds, and jeweled lamps dissipated the darkness within the palace. There was so much incense and fragrant gum burning that the scented fumes were coming out of the windows. The peacocks sitting on the steps became illusioned by the fumes, mistaking them for clouds, and began dancing jubilantly. There were many maidservants, all of whom were decorated with gold necklaces, bangles and beautiful saris. There were also many menservants, nicely dressed in cloaks and turbans and jeweled earrings. Beautiful as they were, the servants were all engaged in different household duties.
Nārada saw that Lord Kṛṣṇa was sitting with Rukmiṇīdevī, the mistress of that particular palace, who was holding the handle of a cāmara whisk. Even though there were many thousands of maidservants equally beautiful and qualified and of the same age, Rukmiṇīdevī personally was engaged in fanning Lord Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, worshiped even by Nārada, yet as soon as Kṛṣṇa saw Nārada enter the palace, He got down immediately from Rukmiṇī’s bedstead and stood up to honor him. Lord Kṛṣṇa is the teacher of the whole world, and in order to instruct everyone how to respect a saintly person like Nārada Muni, He bowed down, touching His helmet to the ground. Not only did Kṛṣṇa bow down, but He also touched the feet of Nārada and with folded hands requested him to sit on His chair. Lord Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality, worshiped by all devotees. He is the most worshipable spiritual master of everyone. The Ganges water, which emanates from His feet, sanctifies the three worlds. All qualified brāhmaṇas worship Him, and therefore He is called brahmaṇya-deva.
Brahmaṇya means one who fully possesses the brahminical qualifications, which are said to be as follows: truthfulness, self-control, purity, mastery of the senses, simplicity, full knowledge by practical application, and engagement in devotional service. Lord Kṛṣṇa possesses all these qualities, and He is worshiped by persons who themselves possess such qualities. There are thousands and millions of names of Lord Kṛṣṇa—Viṣṇu-sahasra-nāma—and all of them are given to Him because of His transcendental qualities.
Lord Kṛṣṇa in Dvārakā enjoyed the pastimes of a perfect human being. Therefore, when He washed the feet of the sage Nārada and took the water on His head, Nārada did not object, knowing well that the Lord did so to teach everyone how to respect saintly persons. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, who is the original Nārāyaṇa and eternal friend of all living entities, thus worshiped the sage Nārada according to Vedic regulative principles. Welcoming him with sweet, nectarean words, He addressed Nārada as bhagavān, or one who is self-sufficient, possessing all knowledge, renunciation, strength, fame, beauty and other, similar opulences. He particularly asked Nārada, "What can I do in your service?"
Nārada replied, "My dear Lord, this kind of behavior by Your Lordship is not at all astonishing, for You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead and master of all species of living entities. You are the supreme friend of all living entities, but at the same time You are the supreme chastiser of the miscreants and the envious. I know that Your Lordship has descended to this earth for the proper maintenance of the whole universe. Your appearance, therefore, is not forced by any other agency. By Your sweet will only, You agree to appear and disappear. It is my great fortune that I have been able to see Your lotus feet today. Anyone who becomes attached to Your lotus feet is elevated to the supreme position of neutrality and is uncontaminated by the material modes of nature. My Lord, You are unlimited—there is no limit to Your opulences. Great demigods like Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva are always busy placing You within their hearts and meditating upon You. The conditioned souls, who have now been put into the blind well of material existence, can get out of this eternal captivity only by accepting Your lotus feet. Thus, You are the only shelter of all conditioned souls. My dear Lord, You have very kindly asked what You can do for me. In answer to this I simply request that I may not forget Your lotus feet at any time. I do not care where I may be, but I pray that I constantly be allowed to remember Your lotus feet."
By asking this benediction from the Lord, the sage Nārada showed the ideal prayer of all pure devotees. A pure devotee never asks for any kind of material or spiritual benediction from the Lord; his only prayer is that he may not forget the lotus feet of the Lord in any condition of life. A pure devotee does not care whether he is put into heaven or hell; he is satisfied anywhere, provided he can constantly remember the lotus feet of the Lord. Lord Caitanya taught this same process of prayer in His Śikṣāṣṭaka, in which He clearly stated that all He wanted was devotional service, birth after birth. A pure devotee does not even want to stop the repetition of birth and death. To a pure devotee, it does not matter whether he has to take birth again in the various species of life. His only ambition is that he not forget the lotus feet of the Lord in any condition of life.
After departing from the palace of Rukmiṇī, Nāradajī wanted to see further activities of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s internal potency, yogamāyā; thus he entered the palace of another queen. There he saw Lord Kṛṣṇa engaged in playing chess with His dear wife and Uddhava. The Lord immediately got up from His personal seat and invited Nārada Muni to sit there. The Lord again worshiped him with as much paraphernalia for reception as He had used in the palace of Rukmiṇī. After worshiping him properly, Lord Kṛṣṇa acted as if He did not know what had happened in the palace of Rukmiṇī. He therefore told Nārada, "My dear sage, when Your Holiness comes here, you are full in yourself. Although We are householders and are always in need, you don’t require anyone’s help, for you are self-satisfied. Under the circumstances, what reception can We offer you, and what can We possibly give you? Yet, since Your Holiness is a brāhmaṇa, it is Our duty to offer you something as far as possible. Therefore, I beg you to please order Me. What can I do for you?"
Nāradajī knew everything about the pastimes of the Lord, so without further discussion he simply left the palace silently, in great astonishment over the Lord’s activities. He then entered another palace. This time Nāradajī saw that Lord Kṛṣṇa was engaged as an affectionate father petting His small children. From there he entered another palace and saw Lord Kṛṣṇa preparing to take His bath. In this way, Saint Nārada entered each and every one of the sixteen thousand residential palaces of the queens of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and in each of them he found Kṛṣṇa engaged in different ways.
In one palace he found Kṛṣṇa offering oblations to the sacrificial fire and performing the ritualistic ceremonies of the Vedas as enjoined for householders. In another palace he found Kṛṣṇa performing the pañca-yajña sacrifice, which is compulsory for a householder. This yajña is also known as pañca-sūnā. Knowingly or unknowingly, everyone, especially the householder, commits five kinds of sinful activities. When we receive water from a water pitcher, we kill many germs that are in it. Similarly, when we use a grinding machine or eat food, we kill many germs. When sweeping a floor or igniting a fire we kill many germs, and when we walk on the street we kill many ants and other insects. Consciously or unconsciously, in all our different activities, we are killing. Therefore, it is incumbent upon every householder to perform the pañca-sūnā sacrifice to rid himself of the reactions to such sinful activities.
In one palace Nārada found Lord Kṛṣṇa feeding brāhmaṇas after performing ritualistic yajñas. In another palace Nārada found Kṛṣṇa silently chanting the Gāyatrī mantra, and in a third he found Him practicing fighting with a sword and shield. In some palaces Lord Kṛṣṇa was found riding on horses, elephants or chariots and wandering hither and thither. Elsewhere He was found lying down on His bedstead taking rest, and somewhere else He was found sitting in His chair, being praised by the prayers of His different devotees. In some of the palaces He was found consulting with ministers like Uddhava on important matters of business. In one palace He was found surrounded by many young society girls, enjoying in a swimming pool. In another palace He was found giving well-decorated cows in charity to the brāhmaṇas, and in another palace He was found hearing the narrations of the Purāṇas and of histories such as the Mahābhārata, which are supplementary scriptures for disseminating Vedic knowledge to common people by narrating important instances in the history of the universe. Somewhere Lord Kṛṣṇa was found enjoying the company of a particular wife by exchanging joking words with her. Somewhere else He was found engaged with His wife in religious ritualistic functions. Since it is necessary for householders to increase their financial assets for various expenditures, Kṛṣṇa was found somewhere engaged in matters of economic development. Somewhere else He was found enjoying family life according to the regulative principles of the śāstras.
In one palace He was found sitting in meditation as if concentrating His mind on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is beyond these material universes. Meditation, as recommended in authorized scripture, is meant for concentrating one’s mind on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu. Lord Kṛṣṇa is Himself the original Viṣṇu, but because He played the part of a human being, He taught us definitely by His personal behavior what is meant by meditation. Somewhere Lord Kṛṣṇa was found satisfying elderly superiors by supplying them things they needed. Somewhere else Nāradajī found that Lord Kṛṣṇa was engaged in discussing topics of fighting, and somewhere else in making peace with enemies. Somewhere Lord Kṛṣṇa was found discussing the ultimate auspicious activity for the entire human society with His elder brother, Lord Balarāma. Nārada saw Lord Kṛṣṇa engaged in getting His sons and daughters married with suitable brides and bridegrooms in due course of time, and the marriage ceremonies were being performed with great pomp. In one palace the Lord was found bidding farewell to His daughters, and in another He was found receiving a daughter-in-law. People throughout the whole city were astonished to see such pomp and ceremonies.
Somewhere the Lord was seen performing different types of sacrifices to satisfy the demigods, who are only His qualitative expansions. Somewhere He was seen engaged in public welfare activities, establishing deep wells for the water supply, rest houses and gardens for unknown guests, and great monasteries and temples for saintly persons. These are some of the duties enjoined in the Vedas for householders for fulfillment of their material desires. Somewhere Kṛṣṇa was found as a kṣatriya king engaged in hunting animals in the forest and riding on a very beautiful Sindhī horse. According to Vedic regulations, the kṣatriyas were allowed to kill prescribed animals on certain occasions, either to maintain peace in the forests or to offer the animals in the sacrificial fire. Kṣatriyas are allowed to practice this killing art because they have to kill their enemies mercilessly to maintain peace in society. In one situation the great sage Nārada saw Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and master of mystic powers, acting as a spy by changing His usual dress in order to understand the motives of different citizens in the city and the palaces.
Saint Nārada saw all these activities of the Lord, who is the Supersoul of all living entities but who played the role of an ordinary human being to manifest the activities of His internal potency. Smiling within himself, Nārada addressed the Lord as follows: "My dear Lord of all mystic powers, object of the meditation of great mystics, the extent of Your mystic power is certainly inconceivable, even to mystics like Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva. But by Your mercy, because of my being always engaged in the transcendental loving service of Your lotus feet, Your Lordship has very kindly revealed to me the actions of Your internal potency. My dear Lord, You are worshipable by all, and demigods and predominating deities of all fourteen planetary systems are completely aware of Your transcendental fame. Now please give me Your blessings so that I may be able to travel all over the universes singing the glories of Your transcendental activities."
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Kṛṣṇa, replied to Nārada as follows: "My dear Nārada, O sage among the demigods, you know that I am the supreme instructor and perfect follower of all religious principles, as well as the supreme enforcer of such principles. I am therefore personally executing such religious principles in order to teach the whole world how to act. My dear son, it is My desire that you not be bewildered by such demonstrations of My internal energy."
The Supreme Personality of Godhead was engaged in His so-called household affairs in order to teach people how one can sanctify one’s household life although one may be attached to the imprisonment of material existence. Actually, one is obliged to continue the term of material existence because of household life. But the Lord, being very kind upon householders, demonstrated the path of sanctifying ordinary household life. Because Kṛṣṇa is the center of all activities, the life of a Kṛṣṇa conscious householder is transcendental to Vedic injunctions and is automatically sanctified.
Thus Nārada saw one single Kṛṣṇa living in sixteen thousand palaces by His plenary expansions. Due to His inconceivable energy, He was visible in the palace of each and every individual queen. Lord Kṛṣṇa has unlimited power, and Nārada’s astonishment was boundless upon observing again and again the demonstration of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s internal energy. Lord Kṛṣṇa behaved by His personal example as if He were very much attached to the four principles of civilized life, namely religion, economic development, sense gratification and salvation. These four principles of material existence are necessary for the spiritual advancement of human society, and although Lord Kṛṣṇa had no need to do so, He exhibited His household activities so that people might follow in His footsteps for their own interest. Lord Kṛṣṇa satisfied the sage Nārada in every way. Nārada was very much pleased by seeing the Lord’s activities in Dvārakā, and thus he departed.
In narrating the activities of Lord Kṛṣṇa in Dvārakā, Śukadeva Gosvāmī explained to King Parīkṣit how Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, descends to this material universe by the agency of His internal potency and personally exhibits the principles which, if followed, can lead one to achieve the ultimate goal of life. All the queens in Dvārakā, more than sixteen thousand in number, engaged their feminine attractive features in the transcendental service of the Lord by smiling and serving, and the Lord was pleased to behave with them exactly like a perfect husband enjoying household life. One should know definitely that such pastimes cannot be performed by anyone but Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is the original cause of the creation, maintenance and dissolution of the whole cosmic manifestation. Anyone who attentively hears the narrations of the Lord’s pastimes in Dvārakā or supports a preacher of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement will certainly find it very easy to traverse the path of liberation and taste the nectar of the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa. And thus he will be engaged in Lord Kṛṣṇa’s devotional service.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Sixty-ninth Chapter of Kṛṣṇa, "The Great Sage Nārada Visits the Different Homes of Lord Kṛṣṇa."