Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 4: Chapter 31: Verses 1-15
The story of the Pracetas
Maitreya continued : After that (i.e., after enjoying earthly and celestial pleasures for a million years-vide verse 17 of the last discourse) when wisdom dawned on the Pracetas, they remembered the words of Lord Visnu and, leaving their wife (Marisa) to the care of their son (Daksa), immediately quitted their home (byway of renunciation). On the seashore in the west, where (the celebrated sage) Jajali had attained perfection (in the form of God-Realization) they took a vow of enquiry into the Supreme Spirit, which culminates in the realization of the same as the one animating principle permeating all life. The sage Narada; who deserves the praise of gods and demons (alike), saw (called on) the Pracetas, who had fully controlled their breath, mind, speech and sight, who could remain squatting in a particular posture as long as they would, keeping their body absolutely motionless and straight, and had concentrated their mind on the transcendent Brahma untainted by May. Seeing him come, they rose (from their seat), fell prostrate at his feet, welcomed him and worshipped him with due ceremony. And when he was comfortably seated they spoke to him (as follows).
The Pracetas said : Welcome is your visit (to this place) today, O celestial sage ! Thank God that you have appeared before us. Your going about (from place to place), like the revolution of the sun, 0 holy one, brings fearlessness (to the world). What was taught (to us) by Lord Siva and Bhagavan Visnu (who is beyond sense-perception) has almost been forgotten (by us), strongly attached as we were to our home, O master. Therefore, kindle (once more) in us the light of spiritual wisdom, revealing the truth of things, whereby we may easily cross the ocean of mundane existence, which is so difficult to cross.Maitreya went on : Requested thus by the Pracetas, the divine sage Narada, whose
mind had entered the most glorious Lord, addressed those rulers of men (as follows). Narada said : That birth, those actions, that period of life, that mind and that speech alone of human beings are worth anything in this world, through which Sri Hari, the almighty Lord and the Soul of the universe, is resorted to. Of what avail to a man in this world are the threefold birth-viz., through good parentage, through investiture with the sacred thread and through consecration (as a preparation for the performance of a sacrifice)-duties enjoined by the three Vedas, or even a span of life extending to the life-time of a god ? Again, of what use is learning or asceticism or flowery speech, or the (unique) faculty of attending to a number of things at one and the same time? Or, what benefit shall a man derive from a penetrating intellect, strength of body or the keenness of the senses? Or what shall a man gain by (the eight forms of) Yoga (such as Pranayama), Sankhya (the knowledge of the Spirit as being distinct from the body etc.), Samnyasa (renunciation), or a study of the Vedas? And what benefit will flow to him from other means to the attainment of salvation (such as sacred observances and dispassion) if all these are not employed in the service of Sri Hari, who bestows His very Self (on His devotees)? Truly speaking, (the realization of) the Self is the culmination of all blessings. And Sri Hari (alone) is the beloved Self of all living beings and it is He who enables the Jiva to realize its true character. Even as the stem, boughs and side-branches of a tree are nourished by watering its roots and just as all the Indriyas (the senses of perception as well as the organs of action) are nourished by sustaining life through food, so by offering worship to the immortal Lord all are worshipped. Even as water (in the form of rain-drops) emanates from (the rays of) the sun during the rainy season and returns to the same source in the dry season and just as (the physical bodies of all) mobile and immobile creatures evolve from the earth and return to the earth, so does this animate and inanimate creation (which is product of Matter) proceeds from Sri Hari and returns to Him.