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gita maya tava nrpadbhutam isvarasya
sthulam vapuh sakala-jiva-nikaya-dhama
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
My dear King, I have now described for you this planet earth, other planetary systems, and their lands [varsas], rivers and mountains. I have also described the sky, the oceans, the lower planetary systems, the directions, the hellish planetary systems and the stars. These constitute the virat-rupa, the gigantic material form of the Lord, on which all living entities repose. Thus I have explained the wonderful expanse of the external body of the Lord.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Fifth Canto, Twenty-sixth Chapter, of Srimad-Bhagavatam, entitled “A Description of the Hellish Planets.”
— Completed in the Honolulu temple of the Pañca-tattva, June 5, 1995.
There is a supplementary note written by His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja Prabhupada in his Gaudiya-bhasya. Its translation is as follows. Learned scholars who have full knowledge of all the Vedic scriptures agree that the incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are innumerable. These incarnations are classified into two divisions, called prabhava and vaibhava. According to the scriptures, prabhava incarnations are also classified in two divisions — those which are called eternal and those which are not vividly described. In this Fifth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, in Chapters Three through Six, there is a description of Rsabhadeva, but there is not an expanded description of His spiritual activities. Therefore He is considered to belong to the second group of prabhava incarnations. In Srimad-Bhagavatam, First Canto, Chapter Three, verse 13, it is said:
astame merudevyam tu
nabher jata urukramah
darsayan vartma dhiranam
“Lord Visnu appeared in the eighth incarnation as the son of Maharaja Nabhi [the son of Agnidhra] and his wife Merudevi. He showed the path of perfection, the paramahamsa stage of life, which is worshiped by all the followers of varnasrama-dharma.” Rsabhadeva is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His body is spiritual (sac-cid-ananda-vigraha). Therefore one might ask how it might be possible that he passed stool and urine. The Gaudiya vedanta acarya Baladeva Vidyabhusana has replied to this question in his book known as Siddhanta-ratna (First Portion, texts 65-68). Imperfect men call attention to Rsabhadeva’s passing stool and urine as a subject matter for the study of nondevotees, who do not understand the spiritual position of a transcendental body. In this Fifth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam (5.6.11) the illusioned and bewildered state of the materialists of this age is fully described. Elsewhere in Fifth Canto (5.5.19) Rsabhadeva stated, idam sariram mama durvibhavyam: “This body of Mine is inconceivable for materialists.” This is also confirmed by Lord Krsna in Bhagavad-gita (9.11):
avajananti mam mudha
manusim tanum asritam
param bhavam ajananto
“Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be.” The human form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is extremely difficult to understand, and, in fact, for a common man it is inconceivable. Therefore Rsabhadeva has directly explained that His own body belongs to the spiritual platform. This being so, Rsabhadeva did not actually pass stool and urine. Even though He superficially seemed to pass stool and urine, that was also transcendental and cannot be imitated by any common man. It is also stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam that the stool and urine of Rsabhadeva were full of transcendental fragrance. One may imitate Rsabhadeva, but he cannot imitate Him by passing stool that is fragrant.
The activities of Rsabhadeva, therefore, do not support the claims of a certain class of men known as arhat, who sometimes advertise that they are followers of Rsabhadeva. How can they be followers of Rsabhadeva while they act against the Vedic principles? Sukadeva Gosvami has related that after hearing about the characteristics of Lord Rsabhadeva, the King of Konka, Venka and Kutaka initiated a system of religious principles known as arhat. These principles were not in accord with Vedic principles, and therefore they are called pasanda-dharma. The members of the arhat community considered Rsabhadeva’s activities material. However, Rsabhadeva is an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore He is on the transcendental platform, and no one can compare to Him.
Rsabhadeva personally exhibited the activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (5.6.8), davanalas tad vanam alelihanah saha tena dadaha: at the conclusion of Rsabhadeva’s pastimes, an entire forest and the Lord’s body were burned to ashes in a great forest fire. In the same way, Rsabhadeva burned people’s ignorance to ashes. He exhibited the characteristics of a paramahamsa in His instructions to His sons. The principles of the arhat community, however, do not correspond to the teachings of Rsabhadeva.
Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana remarks that in the Eighth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam there is another description of Rsabhadeva, but that Rsabhadeva is different from the one described in this canto.
END OF THE FIFTH CANTO