“What benediction should I ask from you?” He said. “What would a wise person ask from a master who can fulfill any wish?”

Viṣṇu might suggest that he imagine the most wonderful thing in the world and ask for it, so Pṛthu explained, “I won’t ask for anything that exists in this world, for all such things are just transformations of the same material that the denizens of the hells experience.”

Viṣṇu might suggest that he ask for something beyond experience, so Pṛthu said, “You are the master of enlightenment, so maybe I should ask you to allow me to merge completely into consciousness itself, so that I never again experience anything except consciousness itself? But no, I do not want even that, my dear. I would never want to exist in a state in which I could not drink the experience of your lotus feet.”

Viṣṇu, in shyness, would run out of suggestions – so Pṛthu would speak his mind in all honesty. “The benediction I ask from you is this: give me infinite senses to experience you! Give me unlimited ears to hear what comes from the heart, through the mouth of the greatest souls.”

What sound comes from the heart of the greatest souls? Pṛthu explained, “The breeze of their breath carries the pollen of their love for you from the lotus of your feet, which they embrace in their hearts. It becomes honey as it passes through their vocal chords. The ear drinks this honey in the form of the supreme poetry. This nectar-honey grants every boon, even to we who are without spiritual discipline and have no idea about the paths of philosophy. Any other benediction is completely unnecessary!”

Viṣṇu might ask, “Wouldn’t you eventually become tired of drinking it? Even the sweetest honey eventually becomes tiresome. So, in the end, wouldn’t it be better to merge peacefully into pure consciousness?”

Pṛthu exclaimed, “If, somehow, someone even once winds up hearing attentively about your auspicious fame from those who really comprehend it, how would that person ever ‘get enough’ of it – unless they are like a dull animal who cannot appreciate the difference between fine food and common garbage? Even the Goddess of Fortune herself, Śrī, wants only this blessing!”

Viṣṇu might test Pṛthu by trying to discourage him. “You are a powerful man, emperor of the world! Why would you ask for the same thing that an emotional woman wants?”

Pṛthu declared, “I desire exactly what she wants! I want to become exactly like her, the Lotus-handed Goddess of Fortune! I want the same relationship with you that she has! I want to love you as the Supreme Male, the storehouse of all attractions and qualifications!”

Viṣṇu would test further. “I already have my wife! Taking you as a second might cause problems!”

Pṛthu explained, “She and I will not quarrel or compete over our shared husband – we will cooperate to serve your feet as one!”

Viṣṇu would ask, “But what if she doesn’t feel the same way?”

Pṛthu explained, “O Master of the Universe, I am dedicated to you, so I am not afraid of her! Even if the mother of the universe gets mad at me for my desire to share in her fortune by assisting her, I know that you will calm her down. I am nothing compared to her, but you especially love the lowly and you consider even their insignificant efforts to be great accomplishments.”

Viṣṇu was speechless. His heart stunned and bound in the ropes of emotion, he could not speak or wipe the tears that flowed from his beautiful eyes.

“By worshipping you,” Pṛthu concluded, “great souls dispel all confused fascination with the glamour of external existence. I know that they desire nothing from this worship except to constantly remember your All-Attractive feet.”

Then, in the great intimacy of love, Pṛthu chastised Viṣṇu. “When you say, ‘Ask me for a benediction,’ the whole world becomes deluded. Such words are like ropes that will only bind us to misery – for what can we possibly ask for except the ordinary, toilsome things that we are already so intoxicated with? We have divorced our identities from you and given ourselves to your external existence. We have no idea of our true identity. So, you should not ask us to choose our own benedictions! You should be like a father who does what he knows is best for his children.”

– Excerpt from an early draft of Part 4 of
Beautiful Tales of the All-Attractive
A translation of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam’s fourth canto
[4.20.23 – 31]
By Vraja Kishor
Parts 1, 2, and 3 of Beautiful Tales of the All Attractive
are available at VrajaKishor.com

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