Maharaja Parikshit, the great king of the entire world, who was accidentally cursed by a brahmana to meet death from the bite of a serpent within seven days. The brahmana who cursed him was only a boy, yet he was very powerful, and because he did not know the importance of the great king, the boy foolishly cursed him to meet death within seven days. This was later lamented by the boy's father, whom the king had offended. When the king was informed of the unfortunate curse, he at once left his palatial home and went to the bank of the Ganges, which was near his capital, to prepare for his impending death. Because he was a great king, almost all the great sages and learned scholars assembled at the place where the king was fasting prior to leaving his mortal body. At last, Shukadeva Gosvami, the youngest contemporary saint, also arrived there, and he was unanimously accepted to preside at that meeting, although his great father was also present. The king respectfully offered Shukadeva Gosvami the principal seat of esteem and asked him relevant questions regarding his passing from the mortal world, which was to take place on the seventh day thenceforward. The great king, as a worthy descendant of the Pandavas, who were all great devotees, placed the following relevant inquiries before the great sage Shukadeva . "My dear sir, you are the greatest of the great transcendentalists, and therefore I submissively beg to ask you about my duties at this moment. I am just on the verge of my death. Therefore, what should I do at this critical hour? Please tell me, my lord--what should I hear, what should I worship, or whom should I remember now? A great sage like you does not stay at the home of a householder more than necessary, and therefore it is my good fortune that you have kindly come here at the time of my death. Please, therefore, give me your directions at this critical hour."
The great sage, having thus been pleasingly requested by the king, answered his questions authoritatively, for the sage was a great transcendental scholar and was also well equipped with godly qualities, since he was the worthy son of Badarayana, or Vyasadeva, the original compiler of the Vedic literature.
Shukadeva Gosvami said, "My dear king, your inquiry is very much relevant, and it is also beneficial for all people of all times. Such inquiries, which are the highest of all, are relevant because they are confirmed by the teachings of the vedanta-darshana, the conclusion of the Vedic knowledge, and are atmavit-sammatah; in other words, liberated souls, who have full knowledge of their spiritual identity, put forward such relevant inquiries in order to elucidate further information about the Transcendence." Nonetheless, all such gentlemen present themselves as great leaders of the people."
Maharaja Parikshit is the right person to hear about the transcendental pastimes of Krishna, and Shukadeva Gosvami is the right person to describe them. If such a fortunate combination is made possible, then Bhagwat-katha immediately becomes revealed, and people may benefit to the highest possible degree from such a conversation.
This narration was presented by Shukadeva Gosvami when Maharaja Parikshit was prepared to give up his body, fasting on the bank of the Holy river Ganga. Then the nectar of Srimad Bhagavatam came flowing from the lotus lips of Shukadev Goswami.
Shukadeva Gosvami imparted transcendental knowledge to Maharaja Parikshit during the remaining seven days of his life, and Maharaja Parikshit heard him properly, just like an ardent student. The effect of such a bona fide hearing and chanting of Srimad-Bhagavatam was equally shared by both the hearer and the chanter. Both of them were benefited. Out of the nine different transcendental means of devotional service to the Lord prescribed in the Bhagavatam, either all of them, or some of them or even one of them are equally beneficial if properly discharged.