Prime Duty of Life

Prime Duty of Life

Date
Author
Prasannalakshmi devi dasi and Gopalkrishna das

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,

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

Everyone in this material world has some duty to perform depending upon where they are placed in the varnashrama institution, whether one recognizes this institution or not or call it by some other modern name. Out of the many billions of human beings, some are attempting to perform their prescribed duty and out of the few who are attempting, only a few are conscious of what their prime duty is. In SB 2.1.13 Shukadeva Goswami narrates the following incident to Parikshit Maharaj about one such person who did not fail to perform his prime duty eventhough he was busy with so many other things all his life:

khatvaango naama raajarshir / jnaatveyattaam ihaayusha
muhurtaat sarvam utsrjya / gatavaan abhayam harim

"The saintly King Khatvaanga, after being informed that the duration of his life would be only a moment more, at once freed himself from all material activities and took shelter of the supreme safety, the Personality of Godhead."

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada, Srila Prabhupada ki jai!

A fully responsible man should always be conscious of the prime duty of the present human form of life. The activities to meet the immediate necessities of material life are not everything. One should always be alert in his duty for attainment of the best situation in the next life. Human life is meant for preparing ourselves for that prime duty. Maharaja Khatvaanga is mentioned herein as a saintly king because even within the responsibility of the state management, he was not at all forgetful of the prime duty of life. Such was the case with other raajarishis (saintly kings), like Maharaja Yudhisthira and Maharaja Parikshit. They were all exemplary personalities on account of their being alert in discharging their prime duty.

When the demigods invited Maharaja Khatvaanga to fight demons in the higher planets, he fought the battles to the full satisfaction of the demigods and when he was offered a benediction by them, the king, being very much alert to his prime duty, inquired from the demigods about his remaining duration of life. This means that he was not as anxious to accumulate some material benediction from the demigods as he was to prepare himself for the next life. When he came to know that it would last for one moment only, he immediately took shelter of Krishna. By reciting this pastime, the great Shukadeva Gosvami, inspired Parikshit Maharaj thateven though he had only seven days left in his life, he could execute the prime duty of hearing the glories of the Lord in the form of Srimad-Bhagavatam.Srila Prabhupada after concluding in the purport to this verse again repeats the same point in the purport to the next verse for the benefit of all and also to highlight that serious reading of Srimad Bhagavatam is not only for those who have come to know their balance duration of life. "In other words everyone can best prepare himself for the next life simply by hearing Srimad Bhagavatam as it was recited by Shukadeva Goswami to Maharaja Parikshit."

We as followers of the Krishna Conscious movement are fortunate to have taken shelter in this institution established by Srila Prabhupada who has made us aware of our prime duty. However, in the name of devotional service we are engaged in so many activities to cater to the subtle desires of our mind, which is deviating us from our prime duty. Basically we are not interested in engaging ourselves in serious study of Bhagavatam, which is reflected in the postings on Granthraj being confined to a few highly committed and sincere devotees only. Our Maharaj always remarks, "For writing, we have to study first. The reason we are not writing is because we are not consistent in our study." It is true that devotees are generally more fond of kirtans, honoring prasadam and performing other simpler services because they do not necessitate staying in the sattva guna platform all the time. Whereas more intense services like chanting and study demand sustained and determined effort in the sattva guna platform, which is quite challenging for us who are always looking for shortcuts to attain our goals. Somehow or other, if we develop a taste for relishing this great Srimad Bhagavatam, we will achieve the goal of life.

We pray to Gurudev for his mercy to help us remember this prime duty of human life and be able to set aside sometime every day to engage ourselves in the study of Srimad Bhagavatam. 

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Gurudev,
Prasannalakshmi devidasi and Gopalkrishna das
Chennai