“Shukadeva Gosvami imparted transcendental knowledge to Maharaja Parikshit during the remaining seven days of his life, and Maharaja Parikshit heard him properly, just like an ardent student. The effect of such a bona fide hearing and chanting of Shrimad-Bhagavatam was equally shared by both the hearer and the chanter. Both of them were benefited.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.12.3 Purport)
Friend1: The Bhagavata Purana, also known as the Shrimad Bhagavatam, is so glorious because it teaches both how to live and how to die.
Friend2: With living there is plenty of advice already available. If unsure, visit a bookstore or library and read the volumes of published works categorized as “self-help.”
Friend1: “How to be successful in business. The key things necessary for avoiding depression. What not to say to your spouse.” I’m making these titles up, but I’m sure there are similarities to actual works.
Friend2: For sure. Philosophy exists for this reason. Study the world around you. Reach conclusions on how to make the most out of an existence.
Friend1: Yet rarely do we get any information on how to die. If you only had a certain number of days left, describe the best way to spend the remaining time.
Friend2: From the Bhagavatam we see that King Parikshit took a curse as a blessing. He used the knowledge of death’s arrival as impetus for renouncing the kingdom and sitting on the banks of a sacred river.
Friend1: To listen to Krishna-katha. Active participation, as well. Not just enduring through a boring lecture, with the mind drifting here and there.
Friend2: A detailed explanation covering so many intriguing topics, too. Birth, death, life, misery, despair, chaos, tumult, the creation, the different species, the influence of time, the merging of elements to cover what is known as spirit, the source of everything and His different manifestations.
Friend1: Culminating with the lila of the Supreme Lord in the form of Shri Krishna.
Friend2: From Vraja to Mathura.
Friend1: And Dvaraka. From fighting bad guys as a child to leading a chariot placed in the middle of the greatest military conflict in history.
Friend2: Krishna on the consciousness while quitting the body assures the best end to life.
Friend1: Pleased you mentioned that. Listening to Krishna-katha or Hari-katha is a great way to finish off a set amount of time in a temporary body. We come to learn that doing the same while living is just as beneficial.
Friend2: Yes. You don’t have to wait until death to experience liberation. We are not investing everything in a hope and a prayer here. Not even one book, either. Know God the person. That is the purpose of the Bhagavatam.
Friend1: The thing is, life is uncertain. No one knows when tragedy will strike. The weather changes by the day. There is little financial security. You think the country is headed in the right direction, when suddenly the leader’s party does very poorly in the lower-ballot elections. Divided government. Nothing to really count on.
Friend2: Yes, this life is known to be miserable and temporary.
Friend1: Then shouldn’t every person follow Parikshit’s example?
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: Quit everything and move to a sacred place. I mean today; don’t wait for the uncertain future.
Friend2: Okay, but that is not necessary. The saintly person gets compared to a travelling tirtha for a reason. They bring the sacred places to others; extensive travel is not required.
Friend1: Alright, then take the same concept. I understand that the spotless nectar that Parikshit heard is today available in written form. Should not every person give up everything and simply read Shrimad Bhagavatam?
Friend1: You agree with me? I thought you would challenge that there is no need to abandon personal responsibilities.
Friend2: I’m not saying that anyone should, either, but definitely find a way to include Krishna-katha as part of the daily routine. If there is no routine, make one.
Friend1: Yes, a little bit of devotion is nice, but let’s get back to the uncertainty aspect. If I have to go to work or school, doesn’t that leave me vulnerable? What if something happens to me and I don’t remember the Supreme Lord?
Friend2: Live your life in such a way that you can remember. Put in enough time. There is something known as numerical strength. Parikshit had the special fortune of staying in shravanam, hearing, for seven straight days. You and I can do the same by listening regularly. Even better is to chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Repeat the mantra a set number of times each day. Don’t skip the routine. Develop strength through consistency. Augment the process with regular hearing. Then even if you are called away for some other duty, you won’t forget. Keep in mind, Arjuna fought on a battlefield having the same consciousness as one would hope to get through hearing Krishna-katha.
With consciousness the same,
As of from hearing holy name.
All while on battlefield fighting,
Tumult of arrows skies alighting.
Great indeed by Parikshit inspired,
But for today retire not required.
Just hear in way consistent,
Soon the transformation subsequent.