Srimad Bhagavatam – Episode 44

 

Life force (prāṇa) rightfully belongs to death and hence death will take it away it one day or the other. Hence vigilance in this matter is extremely important! Different persons have been allotted different life-spans, nevertheless one day or the other everyone will have to be caught by death. We do not have to put in any effort in that direction as death will come on its own and carry us away. In the form of disease, accident or some other form, it will suddenly attack and take us away even before we realize. Do not think that it is liberation. Hence we have to be extremely alert when we are living. There is a Harikatha artist who sings beautifully, “Do not wait till death. Begin to chant ‘Datta, Rama’, now itself!”

A human being is exceptionally attached of his life-force (prāna)! But when death strikes, he has no choice but to part even with it. Thus, when we have no choice but to distance ourselves from even this life-force towards which we are exceptionally attached, why should we worry about wealth, relatives and other worldly attachments which anyway are lesser in importance to it?

Vidura said to Dhritarāṣṭra, “Your fathers, brothers and other relatives are already dead. Your sons died in the battle. Dhritarashtra, why then are you still holding on tightly to this samsara? You have completed the major portion of your life. Due to your arrogance and foolishness, you have lost everyone who was dear to you. What is it that is left for you now? Where is your kingdom? Even that is gone.

Have you observed your body which, due to old age, has become invalid and infirm? Neither can you get up nor can you sit peacefully due to this invalid body. Added to it, you continue to live in the house that belongs to another. Don’t you feel disgusted to live in another’s home? Don’t you feel ashamed? Your attitude surprises me. I have travelled the entire world seeking God but nowhere have I come across a person with a mind-set like that of yours. You are strange. It is not that I disrespect you. I personally hold you in high esteem, but I dislike the fact that you seek to continue to live in another’s home. Why do you still seek to cling to these afflictions and bondages? How long do you think is the longevity of a living being born on earth?

Like a pet dog you live and guard this house surviving the alms that Bhima brings and offers. Do you realize this? Don’t you feel ashamed? These were the people whom you had poisoned earlier. Those whom you had poisoned earlier, feed you today. I fail to understand how you are able to eat such food and live at their mercy.

Previously you had attempted to burn your nephews alive. They were poisoned too. Another time their wife was insulted. Is there any limit to the atrocities that you committed towards them? In order to get rid of them, you experimented upon them every bad thought that arose in your mind. You usurped their kingdom and their wealth in totality. You cheated them in every possible manner. But even then, these compassionate Pandavas, allowed you to live. If these Pandavas had even a trace of your treacherous nature, by now they would have somehow or the other killed you. Their magnanimity is the reason for your existence today.

Although I have attained higher stages in detachment, I am annoyed to see you clinging on to your life. How many more years do you seek to live? You have lived a very long life. You have gone through so much in your life. You assess for yourself the value that is to be given to your life. Frankly, what is it that is left for you now? Yet you seek to cling to that life-force (prana). Does it have any value? What is it that you, who are helpless and invalid, seek to accomplish now in this life?

Life should be free of any burdens. There should be no troubles. One should never be dependent on another. Such life we should aspire to live. Have you ever thought in these lines? Although many times in the past I had explained this you never heeded my advice. In many direct and indirect ways, I have tried to instruct these important principles to you. Is there some anger left behind within you? Living on their food are you trying to harm these Pandavas?

Do you know that, whether you like it or not, this old invalid body of yours is like a tattered, old piece of cloth? It is despicable.

He who attains dispassion giving up infatuation in totality and who without even disclosing his identity gives up this useless body that does not have the capacity to even undertake righteous deeds, is a truly courageous man (dhira)! This is what our elders state”.

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Srimad Bhagavatam – Episode 43

Vidura continued, “I can see death approaching us shortly. Right now we are endowed with proper knowledge. We also have the capacity to withstand. Therefore this is the right time. Let go of everything and exit from these worldly bondages. As of now you are deeply tied down in this trap called worldly bondages and afflictions. By the time you are loosening one of its knots, you are getting tied down by another. When you seek to escape from this new knot, another few knots are entangling themselves around you. Trying to loosen these knots has become your only task”.

Swamiji explains: Anyway one day or the other all of us have to leave this world. It is inevitable! Even under such circumstances none in this world is inclined to do that one good deed or earn that good name and fame before leaving this body. Previously at least one in a lakh entertained that desire. Now probably its one in a million. In future it could be one in 10 million. Who knows, after that perhaps there would be none left on earth who would be inclined towards good deeds.

There should be total conformity between what is spoken, what is thought and what is done. In other words, only when thoughts, words and deeds are aligned perfectly, a person begins to take the first steps in the path towards God.

“Therefore my dear brother, listen to me. Time is running out. In this world there is absolutely no mechanism by which a living being can escape death. Be extremely alert! The moment when death holds the human being in its grip, he has to distance himself from his life-force (prana) which he treasured the most throughout his life”.

In this world what is most dear to a person? At a broader level, it includes all acquaintances and friends. Getting a step closer we can say that near and dear relatives are even closer than these friends. Spouse is definitely more cherished when compared to other relatives. Children assume greater prominence than even the spouse. However, the wealth acquired by the person is to him more important than even his children; and more important than one’s wealth is one’s own body! A person attaches most importance to his body. He adores his sense organs and his intelligence. And finally, even if he is willing to part with all of these, there is one more secretive thing that is most dear to him. That is his life-force (prāna)!

“When this prāna itself is leaving him and going away, of what use are all other worldly attachments? Prana and he are one and the same. When that flame itself dies down, what else is left? A person can own a golden lamp, he perhaps can afford to use ghee (clarified butter), perhaps even the wicks could be of expensive thread, but of what use are all these when the flame itself dies down? It is because of the flame that we are able to see things. We exist purely because of that light”.

That flame was supported by the wick. The wick was supported by the oil/ ghee which in turn is supported by the lamp base. In this manner the flame expanded its territory and spread everywhere. We at the human level believe, “I am the one who lit the lamp”, “this is mine” etc . The root however was the flame. In this world, the person is able to understand everything else apart from the flame. This flame is the life force! This life force is given by God. All other connections in this world have emerged only because of this life force. Wealth, family and relatives exist only because life force exists! No matter however much you could be attached to your wealth, relatives or to your body, you have to part from them one day!

Narayana! Datta Narayana!

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Srimad Bhagavatam – Episode 42

A person who is passing by a street accidently hears God’s names ‘Krishna! Krishna! Govinda!’ and with this, he become pure.  It is his sheer luck. Likewise when Vidura bathed in the rivers and ponds, they acquired merit.

Yudhisthira continued, “Yadavas, who have Srikrishna as their Lord, are not only our friends but also our dear relatives. Did you by chance meet any of them? Have you at least heard about any of them? Are they living happily in their cities?”

In response to these questions, Vidura explained about his entire pilgrimage in detail as he had experienced. However he did not mention about the destruction of the entire Yadu lineage which had already been eliminated by then.

The ever compassionate Vidura, who could not see others grieving, did not disclose the news of this destruction of Yadu lineage, which was unbearable to ordinary folks and also because these destructions come by themselves automatically. In this infinite universe and among the infinite plays of that Supreme Lord, this destruction had come on its own accord. He did not disclose this news as the Yadu lineage was very dear to the Pandavas and they would be unable to withstand it.

When we meet our people after a very long period of time, it is incorrect to disclose sorrowful news immediately. Here after many years Vidura had returned home and his relatives were joyfully celebrating his return. At such a time it was incorrect to give them this unbearable news.

This act of Vidura cannot be equated to speaking falsehood. Protecting and ensuring the safety of these people was also his dharma. If the news of departed beings is told and in shock these people give up their life, then it is wrong, isn’t it? Such news should be gradually shared with them.

Yudhisthira considered Vidura at par with God and treated him in a befitting manner. Vidura stayed there for some time and preached the supreme essence (tattva) to his elder brother Dhritarashtra and thus caused his well-being. He continued to cause happiness to all of them there.

Cursed by Maharishi Manḍava, Lord Yama (Lord of death) had been born as Vidura. He was born a Shudra (lowest caste) and lived for 100 years. During that period, āryama was appointed as the Lord of death. Bound by dharma, āryama righteously completed his task of punishing the wicked.

Vidura has a very special place in Mahabharata. Vidura Neeti is a very sacred scripture in Mahabharata. Even greatest scholars worship this sacred text and place it on their head in reverence. Even though by birth Vidura was born in the lowest caste, this text is of immense greatness.

It is knowledge that gives value to a human being, not the caste into which he is born! This is our ancient Indian doctrine! Always bear this in mind!

Whosoever he may be, if he is teaching something valuable or sharing some good knowledge, if he brings about the positive realization in others, if he persuades others to perform meritorious good deeds, he is to be respected! When we are listening to a lesson through the mike, all that matters to us is that the lesson should be audible and we should get the message. Why should we bother about the manufacturing brand of the mike? Likewise to us all those who teach us valuable lessons are devotees of that Supreme Lord Krishna.

Yudhisthira, in addition to raising his grandson the heir-apparent Parikshit, ruled the country wisely together with his younger brothers, who were like guardians of the world. He enjoyed the kingly luxuries and lived happily.

In this way totally involved in administrative matters, palatial luxuries and wealth, the Pandavas lost track of time. Their longevity was coming to an end. Death, which is absolutely unconquerable, neared them.

Every being has to meet death. This is the final maha-prasada that Paramātma gives us. We should not fear death. But yet, with the fear that death will overtake us someday, it is said that we should try to realize Godhead. On the other hand, without worrying about death if a person joyfully and eagerly strives to learn about God, then definitely he will attain the supreme knowledge!

If a person is worried about the impending death and therefore hurries to attain this knowledge, of what use is it? It is nothing but another disguise the mind takes, that’s all. Apart from that there is no benefit. The intellect would have undergone some transformation, but the mind situated deep within would not have been transformed. “I will complete all my charitable activities quickly as it is time for me to depart”. Of what use is this? It is said that during every act of charity, the person should participate whole-heartedly. 

It is said that death is an unimaginably huge well into which every being inevitably falls! There is no escape. Neither can we swim nor can we jump across it. When the time arrives, it simply strikes. Without fearing death, it is important to engage the mind in the service of the Lord.

Death approached even these mighty Pandavas. Vidura, who could foresee this, said to Dhritarashtra, “O great king! Realize that death is arriving to overpower you. Quickly try to get out of this trap called worldly bondages and seek vanaprasta”.

Dispassion (vairagya) should be acquired when the person has the total knowledge (jnana) about it! Of what use is that dispassion which comes when there is half baked knowledge? Trying to acquire dispassion during extreme old age serves no purpose. When the person is healthy and alert he should attain dispassion. Even before death strikes he should perform charitable deeds. This is one way to learn about God! 

“Hence leave for the forest immediately. Give away everything you possess and be detached. Either leave it for your grandchildren or give it away to those who have abided by you. Give away your wealth for the welfare of the world. Be quick. No being in this world can escape death. There is no means for any escape. Such death is now nearing us” warned Vidura to Dhritarashtra.

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Srimad Bhagavatam- Episode 41

First Canto Chapter Thirteen

In this chapter, Dhritarashtra together with Gāndhāri goes into the forest for Vānaprastha, upon the advice of Vidura.

Vidura, who had gone on a pilgrimage, was initiated into the knowledge of the Self (atma jnana) by Maitreya Maharishi. He returned to Hastinapura, well versed in this subject.

Vidura had asked many questions to Maharishi Maitreya. But after listening to just one or two answers, he developed absolute exclusive devotion towards Lord Govinda. With this he stopped further questioning.

Every question has only one answer, and that is ‘Understanding or realizing God!’ Every question, every research, every form of penance or every other effort culminates only in this answer. Always remember this! This is the final result. This is the end! Once this fact is understood, there are no more questions and answers. The person who understands, ‘God is everything; He is the answer to all my questions; for all forms, for all sensible and insensible topics, for Veda in totality, for all its essence, in fact for all knowledge, the final result is obtained only by understanding Him’- will no longer have any questions to ask.

Seeing their relative Vidura who had returned home, Dhritarashtra, Yudhisthira along with his younger brothers, Kripacharya, Sanjaya, Gāndhāri, Kunti, Draupadi, Subhadra, Kripi, Uttara and all other relatives, their spouses and their children were immensely overjoyed. They felt as if they had regained their lost life (prāṇa) once again!

They rushed and warmly welcomed Vidura. Embracing him, offering him obeisance and greeting him profusely, they shed tears of joy. They recollected the war events. In future in detail we will talk about the greatness of Vidura.

Yudhisthira seated Vidura comfortably and honoured him. Vidura then had his food and relaxed for a little while. Thereafter again when he was seated comfortably, Yudhisthira offered obeisance to him and in the presence of everyone, he enquired, “O Mahatma Vidura! We have grown up under your protection. You offered us shelter. You saved us, as well as our mother, from many terrible unfortunate calamities. You saved us from dangers of fire, water and poison. Do you remember us?

How did you sustain your life during the period of your pilgrimage, when you travelled throughout the entire earth? In which all sacred places and sacred rivers did you offer service?

bhavad-vidhā bhāgavatās tīrtha-bhūtāḥ svaya vibho

tīrthī-kurvanti tīrthāni svāntaḥ-sthena gadābhtā

This is because ardent devotees of Lord like you are nothing but forms of the holy sacred places! As Lord Krishna who holds the mace eternally lives in your heart, you cause sacredness to the sacred pilgrim centres themselves! Every river you bathe in acquires sacredness! It becomes pure totally!

You may perhaps wonder, how can a river attain purity? A river is said to be so pure that it washes away the impurities of those who bathe in it. How then can someone bestow purity upon it? Yes. The river attains purity when an absolutely pure person bathes in it! These are the ardent devotees of the Lord. They have fixed their minds permanently upon the Supreme Lord! These are people who have willingly understood and realized God! Through knowledge (jnana) they have attained God! Through penance they have realized God! Through meritorious deeds of many births they have understood God! They are the holy persons in whom an aspect of Paramatma exists. They are Avadhootas. They are great Mahatmas.

It is not enough to add the title Avadhoota to one’s name. Many persons call themselves Mr. Avadhoota. Of what use is it? Just because a person is named Krishna, does he become the Supreme God Krishna? By taking on the name Rama, one does not become Rama, the Supreme Lord. Keeping Rama’s name is to remind the person that he should develop the noble qualities like Rama. It is a way to recollect Lord Rama time and again. It is for the benefit of parents, friends and acquaintances who need to call him. They too should earn some merit (punya) isn’t it? By repeated chanting the name ‘Rama or Krishna’, they definitely are acquiring lot of merit.

But the one who has been named Krishna is not earning any merit. This is because he indulges totally in unnecessary criminal deeds. None of his deeds are considered meritorious, such is his life. How then can be become Krishna? One should understand the good qualities of Krishna and imitate those qualities. What is the use of understanding His acts wrongly and trying to imitate them? Krishna swallowed fire. Can you swallow fire? He created this entire universe. Can you do so?

Imitating His ordinary deeds is not great. Krishna came like an ordinary being into the universe and performed extraordinary deeds. You are reducing him to an ordinary person and trying to imitate his ordinary deeds. Is it right? Even in the Puranas there are many such stories. There are instances of people holding a discus in their hand, wearing long flower garlands and a golden crown like him. By imitating his dressing style, can a person become Krishna, the Supreme Lord? It will at best be compared to a dramatic performance. No one will say, “Oh, Krishna has descended to earth for our benefit”. They will say, “He enacted Krishna’s role today”. They will further talk amongst themselves, “Do you recognize him? He is my neighbor Bhimarao. What make up! Have you heard his dialogues?” Irrespective of perfection in actions, disguise and behavior people still continue to accept that he is enacting the role of Krishna. They may say, “He acts superbly”. But none will say that “Oh, Krishna has come down for us again”.

Similarly, a person who externally displays the characteristics of an Avadhoota, cannot become a real Avadhoota. Just by looking into the heart of a person whom you accost, you will understand whether he is an Avadhoota or not. When he arrives it will be as if Lord Dattatreya himself is actually arriving!

Yudhisthira continued, “As Krishna eternally lives in your heart, you bestow auspiciousness and purity to the rivers themselves.”

When pure persons bathe in the river, it is as if Paramatma himself has bathed in it. Hence the river attains purity. When ordinary persons who have some accumulation of sin in them and who do not think about God bathe in these rivers, they obtain the purity from the river.

When you are passing by a street and accidently God’s names fall on your ears, you become pure.  Likewise the person who was chanting that name also gets benefit when he chants:

Krishna! Krishna! Govinda! Krishna Govinda! Datta Krishna! Govinda!

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Srimad Bhagavatam – Episode 40

In response to this question, the eminent Brahmins replied, “O Emperor Yudhisthira! In the future period of time, this boy will develop deep affection towards those who have experienced Godhead (Brahma vētta)!”

When such sweet words fall upon our ears, how blissful and delightful we feel! They are so soothing to the ears. They continued, “In addition, he will be firmly dedicated towards the Supreme Truth (satya nishta, truthfulness)!”

In these two words, satya nishta and Brahma vetta, the entire future story of Parikshit, the grandson of Yudhisthira, is contained!

“In protecting the citizens, he will be like Srirama, the son of Dasharatha”.

Aha, what a delightful and superb horoscope it was!

“In terms of charity, this boy will be at par with Śibi, the emperor of Uśinara kingdom. He will be supremely generous. He will, at all times, offer protection to the needy. Just like Bharata, the son of King Dushyanta, he will not only enhance the glory of his family, but also will enhance the fame of all those who engage in performing sacrificial rituals (Yagnas)”.

In the future we will be covering the stories of Emperor Śibi, Lord Śrirama and of Bharata, son of Dushyanta.

“In terms of archery, he will be at par with Arjuna and Kartaviryarjuna!”

Even the greatness of Arjuna and Kartaviryarjuna we will cover as we go ahead.

“He will be unconquerable like the God of Fire, Agni deva”.

Who is this Agni? What is fire? We shall discuss these in detail later.

“He will possess in depth character and will be as profound as the ocean. In valour he will be like a lion! Just as they serve Himavanta, noble beings (satpurusha) will serve and seek shelter under him”. We shall also discuss about Himavan later.

“In patience he will be like earth.” What is the greatness of earth? We shall discuss this.

“Like the earth he will be exceedingly tolerant towards his citizens. Like Lord Brahma, he will have feelings of equanimity towards everyone”. What is the meaning of equanimity like Lord Brahma? We will delve into it later.

“In kindness or in showering favours, he will be like Lord Shiva”. Let us also discuss about Shiva later on.

“In offering protection to all living creatures, he will be equal to Vishnu, the husband of Goddess Lakshmi”. Anyway we are discussing the story of Krishna. We will be going in-depth into that story.

“He will be an ardent devotee of Lord Srikrishna. In generosity and other noble traits, he will be akin to King Rantideva.” Who is this Rantideva? Why is his generosity appreciable? We shall also discuss this.

“In adherence to righteousness (dharma) he will be like Yayati”. We shall discuss about Yayati too.

“In courage he will be equal to Bali Chakravarti.” We will be discussing the story of Bali too.

“Like Prahlada he will possess supremely dedicated devotion towards Srikrishna”. Who is Prahlada? We shall be discussing this.

“He will possess deep reverence towards his elders. He will perform many Ashwamed Yāgas. He will be like a father to kings who have saintly characteristics (raja rishi). He will punish the wicked. In order to establish dharma on this earth, he will restrain Kali Puruśa (the Lord of Kali yuga).

Upon hearing from the son of a saint that he is to meet death due to snake bite, he will develop deep dispassion towards this materialistic world and will attain Vaikunṭha (abode of Lord Mahavishnu). From Maharishi Śuka, son of Maharishi Vyasa, he will obtain Self-knowledge. On the banks of River Ganga he will shed this physical body and attain that state of liberation where fear does not exist. This is the ultimate truth!”

In this manner, the exponents in astrology explained in detail the horoscope of the infant to Yudhisthira. They accepted the gifts given by him and went to their respective homes.

In order to be freed from the sin of killing kinsmen, Yudhisthira decided to perform Ashwamedha Yāga. But he did not have with him the wealth that was needed for this purpose. Understanding his desire, his younger brothers based on the valuable advice of Lord Srikrishna, travelled north and locating the golden plates and other riches that were previously left behind by King Marutt, brought it back to the kingdom.

The government has the right over such wealth which has been left behind by someone. Hence they could get it. Using this wealth, Yudhisthira, who was afraid of the sin incurred due to killing kinsmen, obtained the needed materials for the yāga. He performed three Ashwamedha yaagas.

Lord Krishna, accepting Yudhisthira’s invitation, attended the yagna and ensured that with the help of the learned Vedic scholars Yudhisthira completed it rightfully. In order to bring happiness to the Pandavas, he stayed there for many months.

Thereafter, Krishna took permission from Yudhisthira and accompanied by Draupadi, Arjuna, their other relatives left for Dwaraka along with members of his Yadu clan.

With this the 12th chapter of the first canto comes to an end.

All of you have heard about the yagna. As you recollect and listen to it again and again, you will understand better.

Sriman Nārāyaṇa!

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