Glories of King Rantideva

Glories of King Rantideva

Sudarshana devi dasi

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Mathajis,

Please accept my humble pranams. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Gurudev.

Srimad Bhagvatam presents not only the glories of Lord, but also His dear devotees from time immemorial. In Canto 9, Chpater 21, while explaining the desecendants in the dynasty of King Bharata, Sukadeva Goswami describes the glorious life of King Rantideva to Maharaj Parikshit. King Rantideva was liberal for hospitality and distribution of prasadam. Even Lord Shri Krishna praised his acts of charity and hospitality. Although a kshatriya by birth, he never ate flesh in his life.

Once after 48 days of fasting, he and his family were about to break their fast and have prasadam when a brahmana came to their place and requested for food. The King offered him a portion of the meal and after that, a shudra came. King was samadarshi and hence offered prasadam to shudra with the same respect and manner in which he had treated the brahmana. After that there was a guest with few dogs to whom he gave the remaining prasadam. Since there was no prasad, the King and His family decided to break the fast by drinking water - but at that momemt a poor candala came and begged for water. Though the King was on the verge of death due to thirst, he offered water to the candala very lovingly by uttering the following nectarean words.

na kaamaye aham gatim ishvaraat paraam / ashtarddhi-yuktaam apunar-bhavam vaa
aartim prapadye 'khila-deha-bhaajaam / antah-sthito yena bhavanty aduhkhaah

"I do not pray to the Supreme Personality of Godhead for the eight perfections of mystic yoga, nor for salvation from repeated birth and death. I want only to stay among all the living entities and suffer all distresses on their behalf, so that they may be freed from suffering."

As soon as he offered water, the demi-gods, Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva appeared before him and revealed the truth that they were the ones who had come to his house disguised as guests. Even when they were ready to offer him benedictions, King Rantideva offered them obeisances but did not hanker for bendeictions from them for his mind was fully surrendered to Supreme Lord.

Srila Prabhupada glorifying the hospitable nature of the King has mentioned in the purport to verse  9.21.11 - "Maharaja Rantideva's words were like amrta, or nectar, and therefore, aside from rendering bodily service to an aggrieved person, by his words alone the King could save the life of anyone who might hear him."  Prabhupada also says that, "This was all ordained by the Supreme Personality of Godhead just to glorify His devotee and show how tolerant a devotee is in rendering service to the Lord. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, being extremely pleased with Rantideva, entrusted him with very confidential service. The special power to render the most confidential service is entrusted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead to a pure devotee, not to ordinary devotees."

In Bible there is a famous quote which goes as follows -"It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."  Yet we could see that in case of King Rantideva, even a king, the richest man, can enter into God's kingdom if he acts in a way that pleases the Lord. 

Thankyou very much,
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Gurudev,
Sudarshana devi dasi.