The Nama Sankirtan was lead by the Gopas and Gopis of the Gopa Kuteeram in Houston.
June 6th marked the Aradhana of Sri Alangudi Periyava, a saint whose breath was verily Srimad Bhagavatam. June 7th was the Jayanti of Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamigal of Kanchi. The same day is also the thiru nakshatra of Sri Nammazhwar. Swati Nakshatra that falls on June 5th is our Guru Maharaj’s Janma Nakshatra. This weekend is certainly very propitious to be in a Satsang and chant the Divine Names.
In Srimad Bhagavatam, Lord Prahalada, while counseling his fellow-students gives various advices on Bhagavata Dharma and Bhakti. In one such parley, he urges them to inculcate Bhakti at a very young age. Half of the 100 years that is destined for man is spent sleeping. A part of it is lost in young age, where we lack knowledge, and a part of the rest is spent in old-age where our body no more cooperates. We hardly get anytime to think about God. So Prahlada says that one should be inculcated into Bhakti at a young age.
Our Guru Maharaj also urges parents in our satsang to inculcate bhakti and good spiritual and moral values in the kids as early as possible. With that goal in mind, “Gopa Kuteeram” has come into inception. It is a retreat for kids in order for them to get exposed to Bhagavata Dharma. A 2-day program tightly packed with fun and spiritual activities for young minds. More about the retreat can be read here.
Following this, one of the Gopas from Houston – Shivam, talked on Shiva Bhakti and the significance of Guru, by quoting excerpts from the Uttara Kanda of Ramacharithmanas. He talked about the ill-effects incurred by disrespecting a guru, the extreme compassionate nature of a guru and also talked about Lord Shiva who is the Adi Guru. He talked about a great devotee of Lord Rama, by name Kagabhusundhi.
In his previous birth, Kagabhusundhi was born in the holy city of Ayodhya. Even though he was born in the birth place of Lord Rama, he was a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva and was hostile to all other forms, including Lord Rama. In the later years, he moved to Ujjain where he continued to worship Lord Shiva in a temple. In that temple he met a very devout Brahmin who was also a devotee of lord Shiva. Unlike Bhusundhi, the Brahmin was devoid of any arrogance. When he saw him showing disrespect to Lord Vishnu, he admonished him and advised him to worship both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.
“Siva seva kara phala suta soi, Abirala bhagati rama pada hoi
Ramahi bhajahi taata siva daata, nara pavara kei ketika baata”
There is only one path of devotion to Lord Shiva. That path is continued devotion to Lord Rama. Lord Shiva himself worships Lord Rama, then what to speak of ordinary human beings? It is said that Lord Shiva does incessant chanting of Rama Nama.
One day when Bhusundi was worshipping the Lord in the temple, his guru walked in. Having known his traits, he ignored his guru and did not seek his blessings. The Guru who was compassion-personified ignored his disrespect. However, Lord Shiva, being the AdiGuru could not stand this and he spoke vehemently through an asarira-vaak.
“Tadapi sapa satha daihahu tohi, niti birodha sohai nahi mohi
je satha guru san irisha karahi, raurava naraka koti juga parahi
baitha rahasi ajagara iva papi, sarpa hohi khala mala mati byapi”
Lord Shiva expressed his displeasure with Bhusundhi for the act of disrespecting his guru. He said a person who harbors ill-doings and disrespect to a guru will be thrown in hell for millions of years. And since he sat like a snake when his guru arrived, Lord shiva cursed Bhusundhi to take birth as a virulent snake. The guru however could not see this horrible thing happening to his disciple even though he deserved it.
Suni binati sarbagya siva dekhi bipra anuraga,
puni mandira nabhabani bhai dvijabara baru maga
Tava maya basa jiva jada santata phirai bhulana
tehi para krodha na karia prabhu krip sindhu bhagavana
Sankara dinadayala aba ehi para hou kripala
sapa anugraha hoi jehi natha thorehi kala
Bhusundi’s preceptor could not stand the curse on his disciple. This clearly shows his compassionate nature. He cried to Lord Shiva and he sang praises of Lord Shiva called Rudrashtakam to nullify the curse and instead turn this into a blessing.
In this Stuti, Lord Shiva is praised in many different forms. He is described as the ruler of the universe and as the Veda swaroopam (the manifestation of the Vedas). He is described as Bhakta Vatsala (an act of being gracious to his devotees). He is extolled as the lord of the mountains and the devourer of death and whose abode is beyond the universe. He is like the Himalayan snow and as beautiful as innumerable cupids and his head sparkles with Ganga with a crescent moon adorning him and with coiled snakes around his neck. It is said in the Stuti that if he is not worshipped there is no happiness, peace or freedom from suffering not just in the present birth but in all subsequent births.
After having listened to this wonderful Stuthi, Lord Shiva replied to the Brahmin, “Even though Bhusundhi had sinned, just because of your prayer, I shall be benevolent to him”. Bhusundhi will go through cycles of births and deaths but he will not feel the pain. The lord told the brahmin that,” Bhusundhi having been born in the holy land of Ayodhya, his devotion to me (Lord Shiva), and his association with a pious soul like you, Hari Bhakti will be born in his heart”. Having said this, he also gave a very important piece of advice to Bhusundhi. “Never insult a saint. Rather consider them equal to God.” Thus due to the Lord’s curse he took countless births and in the course of which he became a great devotee of Lord Rama. In his final birth, he was born as a crow. He was blessed by a saint to remain the favorite of Lord Rama. When Lord Shiva appeared on the earth, Kagabhusundhi was a playmate for Lord Rama and he also astounded Ramayana to Garuda, the celestial vehicle of Lord Vishnu. He became a great devotee of Lord Rama only because of the grace of a Guru.
Thus we can clearly see that no good can out by disrespecting a guru and that a mere association with Sadhus and being in a satsang can alleviate the Jivas.
The Satsang concluded with prayers with Nama Sankirtan.