Saubhari Rishi was a great rishi mentioned esp in the Srimad Bhagavatam 9th canto chapter 6. This is the beginning of the pastime of Saubhari Rishi. According to Vishvanatha Cakravarti T?hakura, Mandhata was the king of Mathura, and Saubhari Rishi was engaged in austerity while submerged deep within the River Yamuna. “When the Rishi felt sexual desire, he emerged from the water and went to King Mandhata to ask that one of the King’s daughters become his wife.
Saubhari Muni thought: I am now feeble because of old age. My hair has become grey, my skin is slack, and my head always trembles. Besides, I am a yogi. Therefore women do not like me. Since the King has thus rejected me, I shall reform my body in such a way as to be desirable even to celestial women, what to speak of the daughters of worldly kings. Thereafter, when Saubhari Muni became quite a young and beautiful person, the messenger of the palace took him inside the residential quarters of the princesses, which were extremely opulent. All fifty princesses then accepted him as their husband, although he was only one man. Thereafter, the princesses, being attracted by Saubhari Muni, gave up their sisterly relationship and quarrelled among themselves, each one of them contending, “This man is just suitable for me, and not for you.” In this way there ensued a great disagreement. Because Saubhari Muni was expert in chanting mantras perfectly, his severe austerities resulted in an opulent home, with garments, ornaments, properly dressed and decorated maidservants and manservants, and varieties of parks with clear-water lakes and gardens. In the gardens, fragrant with varieties of flowers, birds chirped and bees hummed, surrounded by professional singers. Saubhari Muni’s home was amply provided with valuable beds, seats, ornaments, and arrangements for bathing, and there were varieties of sandalwood creams, flower garlands, and palatable dishes. Thus surrounded by opulent paraphernalia, the muni engaged in family affairs with his numerous wives. In this way, Saubhari Muni enjoyed sense gratification in the material world, but he was not at all satisfied, just as a fire never ceases blazing if constantly supplied with drops of fat.
Thereafter, one day while Saubhari Muni, who was expert in chanting mantras, was sitting in a secluded place, he thought to himself about the cause of his falldown, which was simply that he had associated himself with the sexual affairs of the fish. Alas! While practising austerity, even within the depths of the water, and while observing all the rules and regulations practised by saintly persons, I lost the results of my long austerities simply by association with the sexual affairs of fish. Everyone should observe this fall down and learn from it. When Saubhari Muni, who was quite conversant with the self, went to the forest, he performed severe penances.
In this way, in the fire at the time of death, he ultimately engaged himself in the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura remarks that Saubhari Muni had fallen from his austerity because of a vais?n?ava-aparadha. The pastime is that when Garud?a wanted to eat fish, Saubhari Muni unnecessarily gave the fish shelter under his care. Because Garud?a’s plans for eating were disappointed, Saubhari Muni certainly committed a great offence to a Vaishnava. Because of this vaishnava-aparadha, an offence at the lotus feet of a Vaishnava, Saubhari Muni fell from his exalted position of mystic tapasya. One should not, therefore, impede the activities of a Vaishnava.
This is the lesson we must learn from this incident concerning Saubhari Muni. Saubhari Rishi was a great yogi. Yogic perfection makes available eight material opulences — an?ima, laghima, mahima, praapti, praakaamya, ishitva, vashitva and kaamaavasaayitaa. Saubhari Muni exhibited super-excellence in material enjoyment by dint of his yogic perfection. The word bahv-richa means “expert in chanting mantras.” As material opulence can be achieved by ordinary material means, it can also be achieved by subtle means through mantras. By chanting mantras, Saubhari Muni arranged for material opulence, but this was not perfection in life. As will be seen, Saubhari Muni became very dissatisfied with material opulence and thus left everything and reentered the forest in the vanaprastha order and achieved final success. Those who are not atma-tattva-vit, who do not know the spiritual value of life, can be satisfied with external material opulences, but those who are atma-tattva-vit are not inspired by material opulence. This is the instruction we can derive from the life and activities of Saubhari Muni.