After satisfying Kṛṣṇa in this way, King Yudhiṣṭhira arranged to perform the Rājasūya sacrifice. He invited all the qualified brāhmaṇas and sages to take part and appointed them to different positions as priests in charge of the sacrificial arena. He invited the most expert brāhmaṇas and sages, whose names are as follows: Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsadeva, Bharadvāja, Sumantu, Gautama, Asita, Vasiṣṭha, Cyavana, Kaṇva, Maitreya, Kavaṣa, Trita, Viśvāmitra, Vāmadeva, Sumati, Jaimini, Kratu, Paila, Parāśara, Garga, Vaiśampāyana, Atharvā, Kaśyapa, Dhaumya, Paraśurāma, Śukrācārya, Āsuri, Vītihotra, Madhucchandā, Vīrasena and Akṛtavraṇa. Besides all these brāhmaṇas and sages, he invited such respectable old men as Droṇācārya, Bhīṣma (the grandfather of the Kurus), Kṛpācārya and Dhṛtarāṣṭra. He also invited all the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, headed by Duryodhana, and also the great devotee Vidura. Kings from different parts of the world, along with their ministers and secretaries, were also invited to see the great sacrifice performed by King Yudhiṣṭhira, and the citizens, comprising learned brāhmaṇas, chivalrous kṣatriyas, well-to-do vaiśyas and faithful śūdras, all visited the ceremony.
The brāhmaṇa priests and sages in charge of the sacrificial ceremony constructed the sacrificial arena as usual with a plow of gold, and they initiated King Yudhiṣṭhira as the performer of the great sacrifice, in accordance with Vedic rituals. Long years ago, when Varuṇa performed a similar sacrifice, all the sacrificial utensils were made of gold. Similarly, in the Rājasūya sacrifice of King Yudhiṣṭhira, all the utensils required for the sacrifice were golden.
Present by the invitation of King Yudhiṣṭhira to participate in the great sacrifice were all the exalted demigods, including Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and Indra, the King of heaven, accompanied by their associates, as well as the predominating deities of the higher planetary systems, including Gandharvaloka, Siddhaloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka, Nāgaloka, Yakṣaloka, Rākṣasaloka, Pakṣiloka and Cāraṇaloka, as well as famous kings and their queens. All the respectable sages, kings and demigods who assembled there agreed unanimously that King Yudhiṣṭhira was quite competent to take the responsibility of performing the Rājasūya sacrifice; no one was in disagreement on this fact. Everyone thoroughly knew the position of King Yudhiṣṭhira; because he was a great devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa, no accomplishment was extraordinary for him. The learned brāhmaṇas and priests saw to it that the sacrifice by Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira was performed in exactly the same way as it had been in bygone ages by the demigod Varuṇa. According to the Vedic system, whenever there is an arrangement for sacrifice, the members participating are offered the juice of the soma plant, which is a kind of life-giving beverage. On the day for extracting the soma juice, King Yudhiṣṭhira very respectfully received the special priest who had been engaged to detect any mistake in the formalities of the sacrificial procedure. The idea is that the Vedic mantras must be enunciated perfectly and chanted with the proper accent; if the priests who are engaged in this business commit any mistake, the checker, or referee priest, immediately corrects the procedure, and thus the ritualistic performances are perfectly executed. Unless perfectly executed, a sacrifice cannot yield the desired result. In this Age of Kali there is no such learned brāhmaṇa or priest available; therefore, all such sacrifices are forbidden. The only sacrifice recommended in the śāstras is the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra.
Another important procedure is that the most exalted personality in the assembly of such a sacrificial ceremony is first offered worship. After all arrangements were made for Yudhiṣṭhira’s sacrifice, the next consideration was who should be worshiped first in the ceremony. This particular ceremony is called Agra-pūjā. Agra means “first,” and pūjā means “worship.” This Agra-pūjā is similar to the election of a president. In the sacrificial assembly, all the members were very exalted. Some proposed to elect one person as the perfect candidate for accepting Agra-pūjā, and others proposed someone else.
When the matter remained undecided, Sahadeva began to speak in favor of Lord Kṛṣṇa. He said, “Lord Kṛṣṇa, the best amongst the members of the Yadu dynasty and the protector of His devotees, is the most exalted personality in this assembly. Therefore I think that He should without any objection be offered the honor of being worshiped first. Although demigods such as Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, Indra and many other exalted personalities are present in this assembly, no one can be equal to or greater than Kṛṣṇa in terms of time, space, riches, strength, reputation, wisdom, renunciation or any other consideration. Anything considered an opulence is fully present in Kṛṣṇa. As an individual soul is the basic principle of the growth of his material body, Kṛṣṇa is the Supersoul of this cosmic manifestation. All Vedic ritualistic ceremonies, such as the performance of sacrifices, the offering of oblations into the fire, the chanting of the Vedic hymns and the practice of mystic yoga, are meant for realizing Kṛṣṇa. Whether one follows the path of fruitive activities or the path of philosophical speculation, the ultimate destination is Kṛṣṇa; all bona fide methods of self-realization are meant for understanding Kṛṣṇa. Ladies and gentlemen, it is superfluous to speak about Kṛṣṇa, because every one of you exalted personalities knows the Supreme Brahman, Lord Kṛṣṇa, for whom there are no material differences between body and soul, between energy and the energetic, or between one part of the body and another. Since everyone is part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, there is no qualitative difference between Kṛṣṇa and all living entities. Everything is an emanation of Kṛṣṇa’s energies, material and spiritual. Kṛṣṇa’s energies are like the heat and light of fire; there is no difference between the quality of heat and light and the fire itself.