One day, great sage Vyasa was deeply perturbed and selecting an isolated place on the banks of the ever pure River Saraswati, began reflecting within himself in the following manner:
‘I have, with strict discipline and total dedication, worshipped the Vedas, Gurus and Agni (fire) and have abided by their orders. In addition, I have also offered to the world, Mahabharata which explains the entire essence of the Vedas. Through this Mahabharata, even ladies and shudras can understand the rules of righteousness (dharma). With this deed, every being has now attained the eligibility to understand the sacred rules.
Even after so many deeds, why does the inner being within me feel incomplete, when I am totally complete? Why does it appear as if it is ignorant when it is all-knowing? Why does this vacuum envelop me? Why am I blank? Why is it that I cannot see anything?
From this it is to be understood that I have not primarily explained about those dharmas that take a being towards Godhead. May be I have not clearly elaborated upon the path that leads to Paramātma. Perhaps I myself do not know about it. May be this is the cause for my dissatisfaction. This is because the dharmas that are extremely dear to the all-knowing supreme saints are also exceptionally dear to the Supreme Lord Maha-Vishnu.’ In this way the great sage lamented.
At this juncture, when the saint considering himself an incomplete being, was lamenting due to dissatisfaction, Maharishi Nārada paid him a visit. Noticing the arrival of Maharishi Narada, Maharishi Vyasa got up and welcomed him warmly. With due respect and reverence, he worshipped the great saint.
With this the 4th sub-chapter of the first canto comes to an end.
First Canto Fifth Chapter
This chapter contains the conversation between saints Nārada and Vyasa, the greatness of extolling the deeds and traits of the Supreme Lord as well as the story of Nārada’s previous birth as told by Nārada to Vyasa.
Maharishi Suta said, “Maharishi Nārada, who is of limitless fame, who holds a Veena in his hand and who is eternally at peace, seated himself comfortably and then smilingly addressed Maharishi Vyasa who was seated by his side, as follows:
‘O Mahatma, are you blissful and happy? Are your body, mind, senses, atma (Self) eternally blissful in contemplation of the Supreme Lord? Not only have you understood all the rules of righteousness (dharma) but you have also put them perfectly into practice. You have composed the Mahabharata, which is totally replete with dharma and which is wondrous composition. Mahabharata contains the complete essence of all sacred texts. You have contemplated on the eternal principle of Brahma (Brahma tattva) and have attained Self-realization. Even after all these deeds, it appears as if you are dejected. Why is this so? Why are you unhappy? Why do you feel as if there is a vacuum within you and as if you have not accomplished anything?’
To this Maharishi Vyasa replied, “O Brahmarishi Nārada! O great saint! What you have spoken until now was undoubtedly the truth. I do agree with all that you had mentioned now. Nevertheless, my mind is unhappy. I am unable to figure out the reason behind this. O all-knowing saint, you possess unlimited knowledge. I beseech you to tell me the reason behind this dissatisfaction that I am experiencing.
O great Maharishi Nārada, you have worshipped the non-dual Supreme Lord. You will be aware of the hidden reason behind this sorrow of mine. Akin to the Sun you travel across all the three planes. With the strength of Yoga, like the wind you are able to enter into all beings and watch all the activities of their mind as a witness.
In matters pertaining to Parabrahma, I have righteously adhered to strict disciplines and total dedication and have become well versed in it. Why then am I experiencing these feelings of incompleteness? Why this sorrow? Why am I having this dissatisfaction?”
Maharishi Nārada replied, “O Maharishi! It can be said that you have not elaborated upon the greatest accomplishment/ glories of the Supreme God, isn’t it? In my opinion, that knowledge which does not cause happiness to the Supreme Lord is always an incomplete knowledge. You have given limitless knowledge undoubtedly to the world. But in that, is there anything that speaks about divine glories or that which helps understand His essence? Life attains fulfillment only when that knowledge, which causes great happiness to the Lord and which bestows the person with divine vision, is obtained.
O Vyasa, you have not explained the glorious deeds of Lord Vāsudeva as elaborately as you have explained dharmas and puruśarthas (four goals of life). Saints consider those words, which, even after containing essence (rasa) and decoration (alamkara), cannot sanctify the universe and which do not explain the glorious deeds of the Lord, as akin to a place that is meant for enjoyment of crows. In other words a place meant for people who seek sensuous enjoyments. Saints, men who possess a very pure mind and those who are like swans can never be happy in such a place.
Poetic verses that glorify the Supreme Lord and which contain divine names that extol His limitless divine deeds are the very best, for they destroy the sins of people, even if they contain grammatical errors or incorrect words!
Saints and pure hearted persons enjoy listening to these names of the Lord being recited by anyone! If there is no one to sing these divine glories, they themselves sing these divine names.
Being established in the supreme truth (Brahma niṣṭa) while being free from all karmic bondages, leads the person towards that knowledge which is essential for liberation. But this same supreme knowledge does not bestow the same results, if it is unaccompanied by devotion to Lord Hari. This is my opinion. This being the case, what more needs to be said about those actions performed for the fulfillment of selfish desires and hence which are not surrendered to the Lord?
Therefore O great Saint! For this reason, you, who are steadfast in truthfulness as well as in your vows, in order to destroy all your bondages and to obtain peace of mind, should recollect all the well known glories of that infinite Supreme Lord Hari who possesses unlimited capacities.
On the other hand, a person who tries to describe something apart from the glories of that Supreme Lord cannot rest peacefully and with stability at any given place. Such intellect which has lost its balance due to focusing on the creations of that Lord instead of on Him, is like a boat that is troubled due to high winds.
By nature a person is inclined towards materialistic comforts and enjoyments. In the name of adherence to dharma, you have taught them performance of frutitive actions (actions expecting some results). This is not fair. You have taught them to increase their actions (karma) and to enjoy the resultant fruits of those actions. ‘This karma will shower good results. That good deed will bless you will abundant money and materialistic comforts. This particular action will lead to good progeny. With completion of this good deed you will be blessed with emperorship over a vast kingdom’. This is what you have taught them. But nowhere have you taught them about attaining liberation.
Om Namo Narayana