So this Parīkṣit Mahārāja was hunting, and when he became tired and thirsty he entered in the hermitage home of a sage. Because in those days in the jungles there were many hermitages. Those who wanted to live secluded life in the jungle, in the forest, they would have their home, very small cottage, and their means of living was milk and fruit. They would get fruits from the trees, and the kings would sometimes contribute some cows. So that was sufficient for them. To have some milk from the cow and get the fruits from the trees in the jungle, that was sufficient. That is sufficient still. Anywhere, any part of the world, you can live without any economic problem, provided... There is no question of "provided." Anywhere, you can keep a cow. There is no expenditure. The cow will go out and eat some vegetables and grass, so you haven't got to spend anything for the cow. And when she returns, she gives you milk, nice milk. We are trying to introduce this system in our New Vrindaban scheme. We are keeping there cows, and that place is in Virginia, Moundsville. It is about three miles away from any city or any citizen approach. But they are living very nicely, depending on some vegetables, fruits, and cow's milk. So actually, a man can live very peacefully and healthy life. Not only peacefully. If you are healthy, if your mind is equilibrium, then naturally you are peaceful. So that was a system for the sages and hermitages, hermits, that they used to live on cow's milk and fruits.
So this king, being tired, being thirsty, entered the home of a sage, and he was in meditation. So the king called him. Because he was king, so he is habituated to order. A king is not supposed to submit, although they submitted to great sages and brāhmaṇas. But generally, their spirit is ordering, commanding spirit. So he commanded, "Give me a glass of water. I am very thirsty." So that sage, who was in meditation, could not hear him. The king became little angry, that "I am your guest. I am king. I am asking you water, and you are not hearing me. You are in your meditation." So he became little disgusted, and there was a dead snake. So he took that dead snake and got it round about the neck of the sage and went away in disgust, that "This sage did not offer me even a glass of water." Because, according to Vedic system, if somebody comes in your home, even if he is enemy, it is the injunction of the Vedas: gṛhaṁ śatrum api prāptaṁ viśvastam akuto 'bhayam. When a person comes at your home, never mind even if he's enemy... Friend is welcome, that's all right. But even an enemy comes, they are not forbidden. Not that in the gate there is, oh, "Beware of dog," "No trespasser allowed." No. There was no restriction. Even enemy was admitted, "Come on." So gṛhaṁ śatrum api prāptaṁ viśvastam akuto 'bhayam. Even an enemy enters your house, you'll receive him in such a friendly way that he will forget that you are his enemy. That was the system. So because Mahārāja Parīkṣit was king, he saw that there is negligence of this disciplinary action. "I became... I was king, and I was thirsty. I became his guest, I came..." Athiti. This guest is called athiti. Athiti means there are some guests who give notice before, prior to coming there, and some guests come without any notice. So the guest who comes without any notice, he's called athiti. So according to Hindu custom, the householder is to keep always some foodstuff for athiti guest. Somebody may come without notice, so some foodstuff is already in the stock. That is called athiti food. And a gṛhastha, the householder, is ordered that before eating, a householder was to see in the members of the family, first the children must be fed, then diseased person must be fed, then elderly, old person must be fed. In this way, when everything is finished, then the proprietor of the household, he will take his meals, and before taking his meals, he will stand outdoors and call loudly, "If somebody is hungry, please come. Still there is food here." And if there is no response, then he'll take. This is the system of Vedic civilization.
So when Mahārāja Parīkṣit saw that "This sage, although he's sage, he's to be ideal man, he did not hear me. I am thirsty, I asked him water, and..." The injunction is, when you receive somebody, even if you are very poor man, you should offer the guests a comfortable seat and a glass of water. That is not expensive. You can offer anyone a seat: "Please come and sit down here and take a glass of water." And if you can provide, you can give him nice foodstuff, but even if you have got nothing at your home, this thing you can offer without any expenditure, without any botheration: to receive him, "Please come on, come here, sit down. Take a glass of water." That is the system still. In Indian villages... Just like we are sannyāsī, renounced order. There is no problem. You sit down underneath a tree and so many residents will come: "My dear sannyāsī, will you please come and take prasādam?" So many people invite. When Caitanya Mahāprabhu was traveling alone, wherever He goes, He was invited. That system is still there. A sannyāsī is never hungry. So many people will provide him. And it is the injunction of the śāstra that a sannyāsī, a brahmacārī, are sons of the society. As you take care of your children at home, similarly, you are also required to take care of the sannyāsīs and the brahmacārīs. Because their life is dedicated for the social welfare work. Without any charge. This our Kṛṣṇa consciousness society is giving the most valuable thing, chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa, without any charge. Without any... They are canvassing, "Please take it. You'll be happy. Please take." So people should know how much valuable service they are rendering. How much valuable.
Saṁsāra-dāvānala-līḍha-loka **. This world is just like blazing fire. People realize it. And when they do not find any solution, they become frustrated, they become confused, they take to intoxication to forget the blazing condition of life. So actually everyone in this material world is burning in the blazing fire of material consciousness. That's a fact. Somebody is trying to solve by forgetting it through the influence of intoxication or something else artificially. That is not the solution. The real solution is to come to the original consciousness. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Actually, what is the real fact of our existence? Real fact of our existence is this consciousness. Either an animal or a man or a superman or an aquatic or a tree or a plant—any living entity—what is the ultimate stand? The ultimate stand is consciousness. The animal body is animal body so long there is consciousness. The human body is human body so long there is consciousness. Therefore, in the Bhagavad-gītā you'll find this verse, avinaśi tu tad viddhi yena sarvam idaṁ tatam. Avinaśi tu tad viddhi. Just try to understand. Just try to understand that thing. What is that? Just try to understand that thing as imperishable. What is that thing? Yena sarvam idaṁ tatam. That thing which is pervading all over your body. And what is that thing? That is consciousness. So long there is consciousness, you feel either from this part of this body or this part of the body or this part of the..., anywhere you pinch, because the consciousness is there, you feel, "Oh, it is painful," or it is pleasure. There are two kinds of feelings: painful or pleasure. And that is due to consciousness. And this consciousness is there in every body, but they are in degrees. That is, the consciousness in tree is very lower. Therefore if you cut a tree, it does not respond. It responds... According to modern science... Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, he has invented a machine that when you cut a tree or take out the fruit or the leaves or the branches, he feels, and that feeling is recorded in a machine. I do not know exactly the machine name, but there is a machine. It immediately...
So the consciousness is there in the trees also. But that has been known by the scientific apparatus, but according to our Vedic injunction, that is already mentioned in the śāstras, that the trees have consciousness. They are also living entities. Don't say that they are without life. They have got life. And therefore the system is... Just like we pick up flowers from the trees for offering to Kṛṣṇa, but the injunction is that after evening you should not touch the tree. The idea is that they are sleeping, don't disturb. So the consciousness of the trees are admitted in the Vedic literature. Similarly, the consciousness is developed from tree to worms, microbes, worms, germs—their consciousness is little more higher. Then birds, their consciousness is little more higher; then beasts, their consciousness is little more higher. This is development, gradual process of evolution. Gradual process of evolution means gradual process of developing the status, the state of consciousness. In this way the consciousness in human form of body is further developed, very nicely developed. And similarly, there are other elevated living condition in higher planets. They are called demigods. They are far advanced, very more and more intelligent. Their standard of living, their everything, is far, far above than all these planets, thousands and thousands of times. Just like we can discriminate here, even on this planet. Your standard of living, from materialistic point of view... Just like to get a motorcar in this country is ordinary thing, but in our country, in India, if somebody has got a motorcar, he's considered to be very rich man. Here even a worker goes on motorcar, but in India only a person who is very rich, he can have a motorcar. As there is difference of standard of living from one country to another, similarly, there is difference of standard of living, standard of duration of life, standard of intelligence, standard of developed consciousness, everything different.