SB5.8.1 śrī-śuka uvāca
ekadā tu mahā-nadyāḿ kṛtābhiṣeka-naiyamikāvaśyako brahmākṣaram abhigṛṇāno muhūrta-trayam udakānta upaviveśa
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: My dear King, one day, after finishing his morning duties — evacuating, urinating and bathing — Mahārāja Bharata sat down on the bank of the River Gaṇḍakī for a few minutes and began chanting his mantra, beginning with oḿkāra.
5.8.2 tatra tadā rājan hariṇī pipāsayā jalāśayābhyāśam ekaivopajagāma
O King, while Bharata Mahārāja was sitting on the bank of that river, a doe, being very thirsty, came there to drink.
5.8.3 tayā pepīyamāna udake tāvad evāvidūreṇa nadato mṛga-pater unnādo loka-bhayańkara udapatat
While the doe was drinking with great satisfaction, a lion, which was very close, roared very loudly. This was frightful to every living entity, and it was heard by the doe.
5.8.4 tam upaśrutya sā mṛga-vadhūḥ prakṛti-viklavā cakita-nirīkṣaṇā sutarām api hari-bhayābhiniveśa-vyagra-hṛdayā pāriplava-dṛṣṭir agata-tṛṣā bhayāt sahasaivoccakrāma
By nature the doe was always afraid of being killed by others, and it was always looking about suspiciously. When it heard the lion’s tumultuous roar, it became very agitated. Looking here and there with disturbed eyes, the doe, although it had not fully satisfied itself by drinking water, suddenly leaped across the river.
5.8.5 tasyā utpatantyā antarvatnyā uru-bhayāvagalito yoni-nirgato garbhaḥ srotasi nipapāta
The doe was pregnant, and when it jumped out of fear, the baby deer fell from its womb into the flowing waters of the river.
PURPORT:There is every chance of a woman’s having a miscarriage if she experiences some ecstatic emotion or is frightened. Pregnant women should therefore be spared all these external influences.
5.8.6 tat-prasavotsarpaṇa-bhaya-khedāturā sva-gaṇena viyujyamānā kasyāñcid daryāḿ kṛṣṇa-sārasatī nipapātātha ca mamāra
Being separated from its flock and distressed by its miscarriage, the black doe, having crossed the river, was very much distressed. Indeed, it fell down in a cave and died immediately.
5.8.7 taḿ tv eṇa-kuṇakaḿ kṛpaṇaḿ srotasānūhyamānam abhivīkṣyāpaviddhaḿ bandhur ivānukampayā rājarṣir bharata ādāya mṛta-mātaram ity āśrama-padam anayat
The great King Bharata, while sitting on the bank of the river, saw the small deer, bereft of its mother, floating down the river. Seeing this, he felt great compassion. Like a sincere friend, he lifted the infant deer from the waves, and, knowing it to be motherless, brought it to his āśrama.
PURPORT: The laws of nature work in subtle ways unknown to us. Mahārāja Bharata was a great king very advanced in devotional service. He had almost reached the point of loving service to the Supreme Lord, but even from that platform he could fall down onto the material platform. In Bhagavad-gītā we are therefore warned:
yaḿ hi na vyathayanty ete
so ‘mṛtatvāya kalpate
“O best among men [Arjuna], the person who is not disturbed by happiness and distress and is steady in both is certainly eligible for liberation.” (Bg. 2.15)
Spiritual salvation and liberation from material bondage must be worked out with great caution, otherwise a little discrepancy will cause one to fall down again into material existence. By studying the activities of Mahārāja Bharata, we can learn the art of becoming completely freed from all material attachment. As it will be revealed in later verses, Bharata Mahārāja had to accept the body of a deer due to being overly compassionate for this infant deer. We should be compassionate by raising one from the material platform to the spiritual platform; otherwise at any moment our spiritual advancement may be spoiled, and we may fall down onto the material platform. Mahārāja Bharata’s compassion for the deer was the beginning of his falldown into the material world.
HH KKS: So Maharaja Bharata somehow or other became caught in the circumstances which were brought about by the three modes of material nature and in the course of the current of events this whole episode came about where in the little deer somehow or other fell into the river practically right in front of him. So what was he meant to do? Should he have simply let the deer drown and say this is destiny, this is the karma of the living entity? It is said that this living being is so much caught up in suffering here in the material realm but now it is caught up in the body of the deer, which means in the mode of ignorance, it is not able to understand transcendental knowledge, what can I do? Should he have mercifully called out Hare Krishna and let the little deer float along on the waves?…He pulled out the deer out of the water which is a natural thing to do, an act of compassion. Who is so stonehearted to let a tiny helpless creature like a deer, basically an innocent animal, right, not harming anyone but rather an innocent animal. So he pulled out the innocent animal of the water naturally so, subsequently what to do? Now, it had to be fed ….it had no mother, right.. so what to do? From one thing came another..once he had taken the deer out of the water, he was obliged to arrange for the sustenance and the maintenance of that deer and that became somewhat of a task….and in due course of time he became very much absorbed in taking care of this deer …and so again I shall ask the question to all of you: Should he have just left that deer float in the water and just chant the Holy Name? Should he have somehow or other prayed for the deer but not become involved with the deer?… This is the dilemma …and what would we do in that case? And therefore I would like to hear from all of you …What you would think you’re going to do with the deer?….any volunteers?………..pause…….We have to resolve this issue or otherwise how are we going to continue with this chapter…we’ll never get the right conclusion ….Maharaja Bharata made a mistake it said…..Alright..but…. What was the mistake? So let us begin with the beginning …where did it start the mistake? In pulling the deer out of the water or not?…That is my question?…(More in part 2)