etad veditum icchamah
sandeho ’tra mahan hi nah
viruddha bhajatam gatih
We wish to properly understand this matter, which greatly puzzles us. Indeed, the results attained by the worshipers of these two lords of opposite characters are contrary to what one would expect.
The preceding chapter ended with the recommendation that one should always meditate on Lord Hari, the bestower of liberation. In this regard Maharaja Pariksit here expresses a common fear among ordinary people that by becoming a devotee of Lord Visnu one will lose his wealth and social status. For the benefit of such persons of little faith, King Pariksit requests Srila Sukadeva Gosvami to explain an apparent paradox: Lord Siva, who lives like a beggar, without even a house to call his own, makes his devotees rich and powerful, while Lord Visnu, the omnipotent possessor of all that exists, often reduces His servants to abject poverty. Sukadeva Gosvami will respond with reasoned explanations and an ancient account concerning the demon Vrka.