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yat parokṣa-priyo devo
There are many similar stories in the Purāṇas for self-realization. As stated in the Vedas, parokṣa-priyā iva hi devāḥ. There are many stories in the Purāṇas that are intended to interest ordinary men in transcendental subjects, but actually these refer to real facts. They are not to be considered stories without a transcendental purpose. Some of them refer to real historical facts. One should be interested, however, in the real purport of the story. Indirect instruction is quickly understandable for a common man. Factually the path of bhakti-yoga is the path of hearing directly about the pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ), but those who are not interested in hearing directly about the activities of the Lord, or who cannot understand them, can very effectively hear such stories and fables as this one narrated by Nārada Muni.
The following is a glossary of some of the important words in this chapter.
Ādeśa-kārī. The actions resulting from sinful activities.
Agastya. The mind.
Amātya. The governor of the senses, the mind.
Arbuda-arbuda. Various types of śravaṇa and kīrtana of the Supreme Lord’s name, quality, form and so on.
Ari. Impediments like disease.
Bhoga. Enjoyment. Herein this word refers to real enjoyment in spiritual life.
Bhṛtya. The servants of the body, namely the senses.
Draviḍa-rāja. Devotional service or a person eligible to act in devotional service.
Dvāra. The doors of the body, such as the eyes and ears.
Gṛha. Home. For spiritual cultivation one requires an undisturbed place or the good association of devotees.
Idhmavāha. The devotee who approaches the spiritual master. Idhma refers to wood that is taken to burn as fuel for a fire. A brahmacārī is supposed to take this idhma to ignite the fire used in performing sacrifices. By spiritual instruction a brahmacāri is trained to ignite a fire and offer oblations in the morning. He is supposed to go to the spiritual master to take lessons on transcendental subject matter, and the Vedic injunction is that when approaching the spiritual master one must carry with him fuel to perform yajñas, or sacrifices. The exact Vedic injunction is as follows:
tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet
samit-pāṇiḥ śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham
“To learn transcendental subject matter, one must approach the spiritual master. In doing so, he should carry fuel to burn in sacrifice. The symptom of such a spiritual master is that he is expert in understanding the Vedic conclusion, and therefore he constantly engages in the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.2.12) By serving such a bona fide spiritual master, gradually a conditioned soul becomes detached from material enjoyment and invariably makes progress in spiritual realization under the direction of the spiritual master. Those who are misled by the illusory energy are never interested in approaching a spiritual master to make life successful.
Jīrṇa-sarpa. The fatigued air of life.
Kālakanyā. The invalidity of old age.
Kāma. A high fever.
Kulācala. The place where there is no disturbance.
Madirekṣaṇā. Madirekṣaṇā refers to one whose eyes are so attractive that one who observes them becomes maddened by her. In other words, madirekṣaṇā means a very beautiful young girl. According to Jīva Gosvāmī, madirekṣaṇā means the personified deity of bhakti. If one is attracted by the bhakti cult, he becomes engaged in the service of the Lord and the spiritual master, and thus his life becomes successful. Vaidarbhī, the woman, became a follower of her husband. As she left her comfortable home for the service of her husband, a serious student of spiritual understanding must give up everything for the service of the spiritual master. As stated by Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādaḥ: if one wants actual success in life, he must strictly follow the instructions of the spiritual master. By following such instructions, one is sure to make rapid progress in spiritual life. This statement by Viśvanātha Cakravartī is in pursuance of the following injunction from the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (6.23):
yasya deve parā bhaktir
yathā deve tathā gurau
tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ
“Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed.” In the Chāndogya Upaniṣad it is said, ācāryavān puruṣo veda: “One who approaches a bona fide spiritual master can understand everything about spiritual realization.”
Malayadhvaja. A nice devotee who is like sandalwood.
Pañcāla. The five sense objects.
Paricchada. The total aggregate of the senses.
Paura-jana. The seven elements that constitute the body.
Pautra. Patience and gravity.
Prajvāra. A kind of fever called viṣṇu-jvāra.
Pratikriyā. Counteracting agents such as mantras and medicines.
Pura-pālaka. The life air.
Sainika. The condition of threefold miseries.
Sapta-suta. The seven sons, namely hearing, chanting, remembering, offering prayers, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, worshiping the Deity and becoming a servant of the Lord.
Suta. The son of Vaidarbhī, or, in other words, one who is somewhat advanced in fruitive activities and who comes in contact with a devotee spiritual master. Such a person becomes interested in the subject matter of devotional service.
Vaidarbhī. The woman who was formerly a man but took birth as a woman in his next life because of too much attachment to woman. Darbha means kuśa grass. In fruitive activities, or karma-kāṇḍīya ceremonies, one requires kuśa grass. Thus vaidarbhī refers to one who takes birth in a family of karma-kāṇḍīya understanding. However, if by karma-kāṇḍa activities one by chance comes in contact with a devotee, as Vaidarbhī did when she married Malayadhvaja, his life becomes successful. He then pursues the devotional service of the Lord. The conditioned soul becomes liberated simply by following the instructions of the bona fide spiritual master.
Vidarbha-rājasiṁha. The best of persons who are expert in fruitive activities.
Vīrya. One who has mercy.
Yavana. The servant of Yamarāja.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Fourth Canto, Twenty-eighth Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled “Purañjana Becomes a Woman in the Next Life.”