Bhagawatam 214: Vena, the unrighteous king, insults the Maharishis who advise him

The Maharishis thought, “We appointed Vena as the king. Instead of protecting the citizens he is harming them. But still, let us give him another chance. We will go and advise him. By doing so, we will at least be untouched by the sins being committed by him. Although we were aware that he was wicked, we appointed him the king. He is treading the path of unrighteousness. Let us try to advise him and get him onto the right track”.

Suppose we come to know that an acquaintance of ours is involved in a sinful/ wrong deed. If we do not correct him fearing rebuke or if we allow him to tread the wrong path so as to fulfill our own selfish desires we are committing a mistake. By doing so, a share from his sins get transferred to the persons who did not try to reform him.  Instead if they muster courage and advise him, or setting aside their selfish desires they try to reform him, then his sins do not get transferred to them. This is a dharma Shastra.

Here the sages felt the same. They agreed that by merely watching him go ahead with his atrocious deeds their sins increased. Hence, they decided to advise him and be absolved of these sins.

“As people have deserted him, he is as good as dead” they thought. “Hence if he pays a deaf ear to our advice, we shall use our radiance and reduce him to ashes” they concluded.

In great sages, their anger is always hidden. Having come to a conclusion, they collectively approached Vena. Without revealing their anger, they at first pleased him with delightful words. Thereafter they said,

“O Emperor! We are here to make a small request. If you abide by our advice, your longevity, fame, strength and prosperity shall multiply. Hence please listen attentively.

Dharma ācaritaḥ puṁsāṁ vāṅ-mana-kāya-buddhibhi

Lokān viśokān vitaraty athānantyam asaṅginām

Using his intelligence, the person should decisively understand the principles of righteousness (dharma). With total purity of mind, body and speech he should diligently abide by them. The person who strictly follows this will not face any grief either in this world or in the next. In addition, dharma takes persons who are unattached to materialistic comforts and who adopt a selfless attitude towards liberation!

O valiant king! The satisfaction and security enjoyed by the citizens is a proof of the degree of righteousness being adhered to by the king. May such dharma never get depleted in you! The king who does not abide by this dharma will lose all his power and wealth and will fall down.

While protecting the citizens from dacoits and from evil-minded ministers, the king should righteously recover taxes from them. The king who follows this principle will enjoy comforts not only in this world but also in the next.

The King should ensure that not only in the capital city but also in other towns and cities, the citizens abide by their own applicable dharma (swadharma), that they diligently complete their allocated duties and that they engage in worshipping Lord Srihari who is the embodiment of Yagna. The king who successfully accomplishes this would have followed the orders of the Lord.

Srihari, the ruler of all living beings, resides as the Self in every heart. Lord Srihari will be supremely pleased with the king who has dutifully abided by His orders. Srihari is the Lord for all the worlds. He is also the Lord for the Guardian-deities of all these worlds. When such Supreme Lord Srihari is pleased, there is nothing that the devotee cannot achieve. This is because all living beings, including the Guardian-deities, devotionally offer worship to this Lord Srihari. For this reason, when He is happy anything and everything can be achieved.

O King! Srihari who is the embodiment of Vedas and who is extensively extolled in the Vedas, regulates all the worlds, the Guardian-deities of the worlds and the Yagna activities which bestow fruits upon the performer. This Lord exists in the form of all Yagna ingredients. Penance too is His form!

O king, you were born only because people worshipped Lord Srihari, through innumerable Yagnas. He is the cause for your prosperity. Therefore, like your countrymen you too should adore that Lord. O king, please ensure that His Yagnas are widely conducted throughout your empire. It will bless you with auspiciousness.

O valiant one! In your empire, Brahmins who are well-versed in Vedas are, through the process of Yagna diligently worshipping the Devatas who are none other than incarnations of the Supreme Lord Srihari. Satisfied with their prayers, the Devatas are fulfilling your desires. Hence it is wrong on your part to despise Srihari or the Devatas” said the saints.

Vena then replied, “How strange! You consider unrighteousness to be righteous. Undoubtedly all of you are foolish. I organize your livelihoods. I fill your stomachs. Discarded me, you are now praising another ruler. Like the woman who deserts her husband who has been looking after her needs and searches for a paramour, discarding me you are serving another leader.  All I can say is that you are foolish.

You have rejected me, your Lord, who is seated before you as the king. As such you will never obtain any auspiciousness, either in this world or in the next. You will never be happy. Who is this Lord, the embodiment of Yagna, that you speak about?

Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Indra, Vāyu, Sun, Clouds, Moon, Kubera, earth, fire, water and other Gods are capable of showering boons or hurling curses. Do you realize that these Gods reside within the body of a king? For this reason, the king is the embodiment of all deities. King is Parabrahma. O Vedic scholars, having understood this, set aside your jealousy and from now on worship me through all your actions. I am Srihari. I am the Lord of everything.”

Thus Vena, who was unintelligent, insulted not only the saints but also the Supreme Lord who exists in the form of Yagna.

Aniruddhāya namah

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