निवृत्तिमार्ग: कथित आदौ भगवता यथा ।
क्रमयोगोपलब्धेन ब्रह्मणा यदसंसृति: ॥ १ ॥
ādau bhagavatā yathā
brahmaṇā yad asaṁsṛtiḥ
śrī-parīkṣit uvāca — Mahārāja Parīkṣit said; nivṛtti-mārgaḥ — the path of liberation; kathitaḥ — described; ādau — in the beginning; bhagavatā — by Your Holiness; yathā — duly; krama — gradually; yoga-upalabdhena — obtained by the yoga process; brahmaṇā — along with Lord Brahmā (after reaching Brahmaloka); yat — by which way; asaṁsṛtiḥ — cessation of the repetition of birth and death.
Mahārāja Parīkṣit said: O my lord, O Śukadeva Gosvāmī, you have already described [in the Second Canto] the path of liberation [nivṛtti-mārga]. By following that path, one is certainly elevated gradually to the highest planetary system, Brahmaloka, from which one is promoted to the spiritual world along with Lord Brahmā. Thus one’s repetition of birth and death in the material world ceases.
Since Mahārāja Parīkṣit was a Vaiṣṇava, when he heard the description, at the end of the Fifth Canto, of the different hellish conditions of life, he was very much concerned with how to liberate the conditioned souls from the clutches of māyā and take them back home, back to Godhead. Therefore he reminded his spiritual master, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, about the nivṛtti-mārga, or path of liberation, which he had described in the Second Canto. Mahārāja Parīkṣit, who at the time of death was fortunate to have met Śukadeva Gosvāmī, inquired from Śukadeva Gosvāmī about the path of liberation at that crucial time. Śukadeva Gosvāmī very much appreciated his question and congratulated him by saying:
kṛto loka-hitaṁ nṛpa
śrotavyādiṣu yaḥ paraḥ
“My dear King, your question is glorious because it is very beneficial for all kinds of people. The answer to this question is the prime subject matter for hearing, and it is approved by all transcendentalists.” (Bhāg. 2.1.1)
Parīkṣit Mahārāja was astonished that the living entities in the conditional stage do not accept the path of liberation, devotional service, instead of suffering in so many hellish conditions. This is the symptom of a Vaiṣṇava. Vāñchā-kalpa-tarubhyaś ca kṛpā-sindhubhya eva ca: a Vaiṣṇava is an ocean of mercy. Para-duḥkha-duḥkhī: he is unhappy because of the unhappiness of others. Therefore Parīkṣit Mahārāja, being compassionate toward the conditioned souls suffering in hellish life, suggested that Śukadeva Gosvāmī continue describing the path of liberation, which he had explained in the beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The word asaṁsṛti is very important in this connection. Saṁsṛti refers to continuing on the path of birth and death. Asaṁsṛti, on the contrary, refers to nivṛtti-mārga, or the path of liberation, by which one’s birth and death cease and one gradually progresses to Brahmaloka, unless one is a pure devotee who does not care about going to the higher planetary systems, in which case one immediately returns home, back to Godhead, by executing devotional service (tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti). Parīkṣit Mahārāja, therefore, was very eager to hear from Śukadeva Gosvāmī about the path of liberation for the conditioned soul.
According to the opinion of the ācāryas, the word krama-yogopalabdhena indicates that by first performing karma-yoga and then jñāna-yoga and finally coming to the platform of bhakti-yoga, one can be liberated. Bhakti-yoga, however, is so powerful that it does not depend on karma-yoga or jñāna-yoga. Bhakti-yoga itself is so powerful that even an impious man with no assets in karma-yoga or an illiterate with no assets in jñāna-yoga can undoubtedly be elevated to the spiritual world if he simply adheres to bhakti-yoga. Mām evaiṣyasy asaṁśayaḥ. Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (8.7) that by the process of bhakti-yoga one undoubtedly goes back to Godhead, back home to the spiritual world. Yogīs, however, instead of going directly to the spiritual world, sometimes want to see other planetary systems, and therefore they ascend to the planetary system where Lord Brahmā lives, as indicated here by the word brahmaṇā. At the time of dissolution, Lord Brahmā, along with all the inhabitants of Brahmaloka, goes directly to the spiritual world. This is confirmed in the Vedas as follows:
praviśanti paraṁ padam
“Because of their exalted position, those who are on Brahmaloka at the time of dissolution go directly back home, back to Godhead, along with Lord Brahmā.”