When Mahārāja Parīkṣit heard this incident of Kālayavana’s being burned to ashes, he inquired about the sleeping man from Śukadeva Gosvāmī: “Who was he? Why was he sleeping there? How had he achieved so much power that instantly, by his glance, Kālayavana was burned to ashes? How did he happen to be lying down in the cave of the hill?” Many questions were put before Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and Śukadeva also answered, as follows.
“My dear King, this person was born in the very great family of King Ikṣvāku, in which Lord Rāmacandra was also born, and he happened to be the son of a great king known as Māndhātā. He himself was also a great soul and was known popularly as Mucukunda. King Mucukunda was a very strict follower of the Vedic principles of brahminical culture, and he was truthful to his promise. He was so powerful that even demigods like Indra and others used to ask him to please help in fighting with the demons, and as such, he often fought against the demons to protect the demigods.”
The commander-in-chief of the demigods, known as Kārttikeya, was satisfied with the fighting of King Mucukunda, but once he asked that the King, having taken too much trouble in fighting with the demons, retire from fighting and take rest. The commander-in-chief, Kārttikeya, addressed King Mucukunda, “My dear King, you have sacrificed everything for the sake of the demigods. You had a very nice kingdom undisturbed by any kind of enemy. You left that kingdom, you neglected your opulence and possessions, and you never cared for fulfillment of your personal ambition. Due to your long absence from your kingdom while fighting with the demons on behalf of the demigods, your family, your children, your relatives and your ministers have all passed away in due course of time. Time and tide wait for no living man. Now even if you retire to your home, you will find that no one is living there.”
Thus addressing Mucukunda, the demigods requested him to ask for any kind of benediction he might be pleased with, excepting the benediction of liberation. Liberation cannot be awarded by any living entity except the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu. Therefore another name of Lord Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa is Mukunda, He who can award liberation.
King Mucukunda had not slept for many, many years. He was engaged in the duty of fighting, and therefore he was very tired. So when the demigod offered benediction, Mucukunda simply thought of sleeping. He replied as follows: “My dear Kārttikeya, the best of the demigods, I want to sleep now, and I want from you the following benediction. Grant me the power to burn, by my mere glance, anyone to ashes who tries to disturb my sleeping and awakens me untimely. Please give me this benediction.” The demigod agreed and also gave him the benediction that he would be able to take complete rest. Then King Mucukunda entered the cave of the mountain.
On the strength of the benediction of Kārttikeya, Kālayavana was burnt into ashes simply by Mucukunda’s glancing at him. When the incident was over, Kṛṣṇa came before King Mucukunda. Kṛṣṇa had actually entered the cave to deliver King Mucukunda from his austerity, but He did not first appear before him. He arranged that first Kālayavana should come before him. That is the way of the activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; He does one thing in such a way that many other purposes are served. He wanted to deliver King Mucukunda, who was sleeping in the cave, and at the same time He wanted to kill Kālayavana, who had attacked Mathurā City. By this action He served all purposes.
When Lord Kṛṣṇa appeared before Mucukunda, the King saw Him dressed in a yellow garment, His chest marked with the symbol of Śrīvatsa, and the Kaustubha-maṇi hanging around His neck. Kṛṣṇa appeared before him with four hands, as Viṣṇu-mūrti, with a garland called vaijayantī hanging from His neck down to His knees. He was looking very lustrous, His face was very beautifully smiling, and He had nice jeweled earrings in both His ears. Kṛṣṇa appeared more beautiful than a human can conceive. Not only did He appear in this feature, but He glanced over Mucukunda with great splendor, attracting the King’s mind. Although He was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the oldest of all, He looked like a fresh young boy, and His movement was just like that of a free deer. He appeared extremely powerful; His excellence in power is so great that every human being should be afraid of Him.
When King Mucukunda saw Kṛṣṇa’s magnificent features, he wondered about His identity, and with great humility he began to inquire from the Lord, “My dear Lord, may I inquire how it is that You happened to be in the cave of this mountain? Who are You? I can see that Your feet are just like soft lotus flowers. How could You walk in this forest full of thorns and hedges? I am simply surprised to see this! Are You not, therefore, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the most powerful amongst the powerful? Are You not the original source of all illumination and fire? Can I consider You one of the great demigods, like the sun, the moon, or Indra, King of heaven? Or are You the predominating deity of any other planet?”
Mucukunda knew well that every higher planetary system has a predominating deity. He was not ignorant like modern men who consider that this earthly planet is full of living entities and all others are vacant. The inquiry from Mucukunda about Kṛṣṇa’s being the predominating deity of a planet unknown to him is quite appropriate. Because he was a pure devotee of the Lord, King Mucukunda could immediately understand that Lord Kṛṣṇa, who had appeared before him in such an opulent feature, could not be one of the predominating deities in the material planets. He must be the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, who has His many Viṣṇu forms. He therefore took Him to be Puruṣottama, Lord Viṣṇu. He could see also that the dense darkness within the mountain cave had already been dissipated due to the Lord’s presence; therefore He could not be other than the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He knew very well that wherever the Lord is personally present by His transcendental name, quality, form, etc., there cannot be any darkness of ignorance. He is like a lamp placed in the darkness; He immediately illuminates a dark place.
King Mucukunda became very much anxious to know about the identity of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and therefore he said, “O best of human beings, if You think that I am fit to know about Your identity, then kindly tell me who You are. What is Your parentage? What is Your occupational duty, and what is Your family tradition?” King Mucukunda thought it wise, however, to identify himself to the Lord; otherwise he had no right to ask the Lord’s identity. Etiquette is such that a person of less importance cannot ask the identity of a person of higher importance without first disclosing his own identity. King Mucukunda therefore informed Lord Kṛṣṇa, “My dear Lord, I must inform You of my identitification. I belong to the most celebrated dynasty of King Ikṣvāku, but personally I am not as great as my forefather. My name is Mucukunda. My father’s name was Māndhātā, and my grandfather’s name was Yuvanāśva, the great king. I was very much fatigued due to not resting for many thousands of years, and because of this all my bodily limbs were flattened and almost incapable of acting. In order to revive my energy, I was taking rest in this solitary cave, but I have been awakened by some unknown man who has forced me to wake up although I was not willing to do so. For such an offensive act, this person has been burnt into ashes simply by my glancing over him. Fortunately, now I can see You in Your grand and beautiful features. I think, therefore, that You are the cause of killing my enemy. My dear Lord, I must admit that due to the effulgence of Your body, unbearable to my eyes, I cannot see You properly. I can fully realize that by the influence of Your effulgence my powerful potency has been diminished. I can understand that You are quite fit for being worshiped by all living entities.”
Seeing King Mucukunda so anxious to know about His identity, Lord Kṛṣṇa began to answer smilingly, as follows: “My dear King, it is practically impossible to tell about My birth, appearance, disappearance and activities. Perhaps you know that My incarnation Anantadeva has unlimited mouths, and for an unlimited time He has been trying to narrate fully about My name, fame, qualities, activities, appearance, disappearance and incarnation, but still He has not been able to finish. Therefore, it is not possible to know exactly how many names and forms I possess. It may be possible for a material scientist to estimate the number of atomic particles which make up this earthly planet, but the scientist cannot enumerate My unlimited names, forms and activities. There are many great sages and saintly persons who are trying to make a list of My different forms and activities, yet they have failed to make a complete list. But since you are so anxious to know about Me, I may inform you that presently I have appeared on this planet just to annihilate the demoniac principles of the people in general and to reestablish the religious principles enjoined in the Vedas. I have been invited for this purpose by Brahmā, the superintending deity of this universe, and thus I have now appeared in the dynasty of the Yadus as one of their family members. I have specifically taken My birth as the son of Vasudeva in the Yadu dynasty, and people therefore know Me as Vāsudeva, the son of Vasudeva. You may also know that I have killed Kaṁsa, who was in a previous life was known as Kālanemi, as well as Pralambāsura and many other demons. They have acted as My enemies and have been killed by Me. The demon who was present before you also acted as My enemy, and you have very kindly burned him into ashes by glancing over him. My dear King Mucukunda, you are My great devotee, and just to show you My causeless mercy, I have appeared in this form. I am very affectionately inclined toward My devotees, and in your previous life, before your present condition, you acted as My great devotee and prayed for My causeless mercy. I have, therefore, come to see you to fulfill your desire. Now you can see Me to your heart’s content. My dear King, now you can ask from Me any benediction that you wish, and I am prepared to fulfill your desire. It is My eternal principle that anyone who comes under My shelter must have all his desires fulfilled by My grace.”
When Lord Kṛṣṇa ordered King Mucukunda to ask a benediction from Him, the King became very joyful, and he immediately remembered the prediction of Gargamuni, who had foretold long before that in the twenty-eighth millennium of Vaivasvata Manu, Lord Kṛṣṇa would appear on this planet. As soon as he remembered this prediction, he began to understand that the Supreme Person, Nārāyaṇa, was present before Him as Lord Kṛṣṇa. He immediately fell down at His lotus feet and began to pray as follows.
“My dear Lord, I pray that I may simply be engaged in rendering transcendental loving service unto Your lotus feet, which is the ambition of the pure devotees who are freed from all kinds of material contamination. You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and You can offer me anything I want, including liberation. But who is such a foolish person that after pleasing You he would ask from You something which might be the cause of entanglement in this material world? I do not think any sane man would ask such a benediction from You. I therefore surrender unto You. I do not wish to enjoy this material world, nor do I wish to take advantage of merging into Your spiritual effulgence, nor do I wish to meditate upon Your localized aspect of Paramātmā, for I know that simply by taking shelter of You, I shall become completely peaceful and undisturbed.”
On hearing this statement of King Mucukunda, Lord Kṛṣṇa replied, “My dear King, I am very much pleased with your statement. You have been the king of all the lands on this planet, but I am surprised to find that your mind is now freed from all material contamination. You are now fit to execute devotional service. I am most pleased to see that although I offered you the opportunity of asking from Me any kind of benediction, you did not take advantage of asking for material benefit. I can understand that your mind is now fixed in Me, and it is not disturbed by any material fault.”
“My dear King, I offered to give you any kind of benediction, just to test how much you have advanced in devotional service. Now I can see that you are on the platform of the pure devotees because your mind is not disturbed by any kind of greedy or lusty desires of this material world. The yogīs who are trying to elevate themselves by controlling the senses and who meditate upon Me by practicing the breathing exercises of prāṇāyāma are not so thoroughly freed from material desires. It has been seen in several cases that as soon as there is allurement, such yogīs again come down to the material platform.”
The vivid example verifying this statement is Viśvāmitra Muni. Viśvāmitra Muni was a great yogī who practiced prāṇāyāma, a breathing exercise, but still when he was visited by Menakā, a society woman of the heavenly planet, he lost all control and begot in her a daughter named Śakuntalā. But the pure devotee Haridāsa Ṭhākur was never disturbed, even when all such allurements were offered by the prostitutes.
“My dear King,” Lord Kṛṣṇa continued, “I therefore give you the special benediction that you will always think of Me. Thus you will be able to traverse this material world freely, without being contaminated by the qualities.” This statement of the Lord confirms that a person in true Kṛṣṇa consciousness, engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord under the direction of the spiritual master, is never subjected to the contamination of material qualities.
“My dear King,” the Lord said, “because you are a kṣatriya, you have committed the offense of slaughtering animals, both in hunting and in political engagements. To become purified, just engage yourself in bhakti-yoga practice and always keep your mind absorbed in Me. Very soon you will be freed from all reactions to such sordid activities.” In this statement it appears that although the kṣatriyas are allowed to kill animals in the hunting process, they are not freed from the contamination of other sinful reactions. Therefore it does not matter whether one is a kṣatriya, vaiśya, or brāhmaṇa; everyone is recommended to take sannyāsa at the end of life, to engage himself completely in the service of the Lord and thus become freed from all sinful reactions of his past life.
The Lord then assured King Mucukunda, “In your next life you will take your birth as a first-class Vaiṣṇava, the best of brāhmaṇas, and in that life your only business will be to engage yourself in My transcendental service.” The Vaiṣṇava is the first-class brāhmaṇa, because one who has not acquired the qualification of a bona fide brāhmaṇa cannot come to the platform of a Vaiṣṇava. When one comes to the platform of a Vaiṣṇava, he is completely engaged in welfare activities for all living entities. The highest welfare activity for living entities is the preaching of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is stated herein that those who are specifically favored by the Lord can become absolutely Kṛṣṇa conscious and be engaged in the preaching work of the Vaiṣṇava philosophy.
Ref >> Srila Prabhupada Vani.