Episode 5: Conversation between Maharishi Sounaka and Maharishi Suta

During the period of this Satra Yāga, one morning, the saints completed the morning yāga rituals and then approaching Maharishi Suta, offered obeisance to Him, seated Him reverentially and with total devotion enquired, “O meritorious sinless being! Not only have you studied all the historical records, purāṇās, dharma- shastras (scriptures pertaining to righteousness), but in addition you have also authored commentaries about them.

Due to the grace of Maharishi Vedavyasa, the most supreme amongst all greatest scholars of Vedas and Vedangas (limbs of Vedas), everything is known to You. Please decisively teach us that knowledge, which contains the essence of all the scriptures and which causes utmost welfare”.

They beseeched in this manner because it is said- brūyuḥ snigdhasya shiśyasya guravo-guhyamapyuta, which means- due to love towards devotees who are extremely devoted towards them, Gurus impart even the most secretive knowledge.

“In this Kali-yuga most people are lazy, misguided, dull-witted, unlucky, having short span of life and above all are suffering due to diseases and many related factors. Vedas and Shastras explain the greatness of karma (action). Even listening to a small fraction of that however becomes very difficult. Therefore, with your wise intellect, please squeeze the essence of all these scriptures and impart that knowledge to us.

What is it that will cause the welfare of this world? What is it that will bestow contentment to our inner mind (antaḥkaraṇa)? Please teach us that knowledge.

O Suta Maharishi! You are all knowing. Devakyāṁ vasudevasya jāto yasya cikīrṣayā – What was the intention with which the Lord of all Lords, the Supreme Lord Sriman Nārāyaṇa, who protects devotees in the form of their leader and who is an embodiment of all good traits, took birth from the womb of Devaki as the son of Vasudeva? We are desirous of listening to this tale. Please be kind enough to teach us in detail. The Supreme Lord incarnates solely for the welfare of all beings.

Āpannaḥ saṁsṛtiṁ ghorāṁ yan-nāma vivaśo gṛṇan

Tataḥ sadyo vimucyeta yad bibheti svayaṁ bhayam

Meaning: By uttering the divine names of that Supreme Lord, fear runs away and frees the helpless living beings who are caught in this extremely fearful samsara (repeated cycle of births and deaths).

Fear is afraid of God and runs away. Simply by associating with great Maharishis who have totally controlled their mind and placed it at the feet of the Lord, living being instantaneously becomes pure!Purification from drinking the water of Ganga can be attained only after some time. But association with holy souls bestows instant purity.

Can any living being who is desirous of purifying his inner mind, not be desirous of listening to the wondrous glories of that Supreme Lord whose fame is unlimited and who is extolled profusely by his devotees? Listening to His glorious tales instantaneously washes away all sins of this Kali Yuga. Learned souls eternally sing the specialities of His incarnations. We seek to hear them. Please be kind enough to teach us.

The Lord with his own power of illusion (māya śakti), and out of his own will, sports incarnations. Please explain to us the details of these incarnations. We are not satisfied in the aspect of hearing divine stories. Those who delight in listening to divine stories find every word in that story as nectarous. Every word will be sweet and delicious in taste. In the guise of a human being, the Supreme Lord, together with Balarama, accomplished innumerable deeds that are far beyond the capacity of human beings.

Coming to know that Kali-yuga (the fourth eon) has begun, we are frightened and hence have begun this very long Satra Yāga in Naimiśāranya forest, a place very dear to Lord Vishnu. O Maharishi Suta! Our meritorious deeds have turned fruitful. We are blessed with your divine darshan. We have been blessed with this chance to listen to the glories of that Supreme Lord. It is very difficult to cross this Kali-yuga which robs the mind of purity and energy. Just as a person desirous of crossing the ocean seeks the help of a boatman, the Divine Lord has, in order to help us cross this ocean of samsara, shown You as our guide.

In whom did righteousness (dharma) seek shelter after Śri Krishna, the Lord of Yoga and who like a shield zealously protected righteousness, left this human body and returned to his original form? You alone are capable of teaching us this.” In this manner Śounaka and other saints beseeched Maharishi Suta.

From the questions of Śounaka and other saints it is clear that by that time, Sri Krishna had completed his incarnation and returned to his divine abode.

With this the first chapter of the first Canto comes to an end. In this chapter the greatness of that Supreme Lord, the reasons for His incarnation and the qualities of a supreme devotee, the method of questioning are clearly brought out. It is also clarified that if we have the deep inclination, Gurus impart to us even the most secretive knowledge. 

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