The twenty-ninth of October is a very auspicious day indeed. It is “Uttana ekadasi” and the thirtieth of October is Uttana Dvadasi. Generally one day of the Devas is one year of the humans. Uttarayana is the daytime for the Devas and Dakshinayana is the night time for the Devas and the Lord. It is said that the Lord goes to sleep during the day of Shayana Ekadasi [on the Utarayana Punyakala] and wakes up on the day of Uttana ekadasi. The Margarisa [margazhi in tamil] is the Brahma Muhurtha for the Lord. It is a very auspicious month to do any spiritual austerity. Following this is Thai month which is the sunrise for the Devas. We celebrate Makara Sankranti as it is on this day that Sun changes its direction and moves northwards. It is on the day of Uttana Dwadasi that Tulasi kalyanam, [the divine marriage between the Lord and Tulasi Devi] takes place.
Followed by the introductions, Narayananji lucidly talked about the greatness of Srimad Bhagavatam. The Lord Sri Hari is incomprehensible by the senses. He can for sure attained only by grace. The Lord has taken innumerable incarnations and out of all the incarnations, there is one incarnation that can be found everywhere. It is verily Srimad Bhagavatham. It is grace incarnate. But people do not understand the importance and greatness of Srimad Bhagavatham. It is verily the Lord in the form of a book. It is said that every line in Srimad Bhagavatham is Lord Krishna himself and every line translates to Radha Rani who is the epitome of Prema Bhakti. Just like how a word cannot be separated from its meaning, the Lord and Bhakti cannot be separated. If one follows the path of Bhakti, then one can attain the Lord. We know that Srimad Bhagavatham contains twelve chapters and eighteen thousand slokas. The first nine cantos merely act as a detergent to cleanse our mind to read the divine birth and glories of the Lord in the tenth canto. The tenth canto depicts the Ashraya quality which is verily the Lord himself.
“Dasamasya vishudyatham navanam iha lakshanam”
All the nine cantos cleanse one’s mind so that the Lord himself can come and reside in our hearts. Akin to how we dust the place before we take seat, the Lord resides in souls whose heart is clean.
The nine cantos extol the glories of the devotees of the Lord and by reminiscing the glories of the devotees of the Lord will instill bhakti in all. By reading the nine cantos, the negative qualities are absolved and the vacant spots created by the removal of these negative qualities are filled with bhakti.
“Yath bhagavatha mahathmyam bhagavat bhakti vardhanam” Only if our heart is filled with bhakti we can relish and enjoy the glories of the Lord and his divine pranks and plays. Now one may ask as to how the first nine cantos prepare one to read the glories of the Lord in the tenth canto. It is indeed very beautiful to see how. The first canto talks about Sage Narada who is the quintessence of Bhakti. One of the easiest ways to attain the holy of the Lord is to chant his divine names. Sage Narada’s life-history lucidly advices one not to do any other yoga but to be in the divine communion of a great Mahatma. Be a recipient of a Sadhu’s grace and constantly chant the Divine Names of the Lord and this is the crux of Sage Narada’s charithra. The fourth canto talks about little Dhruva. The determination that one should possess to reach the Lord is described in detail. A strong urge to attain the Lord will lead us to a guru is sung in Dhruva’s charithra. Srimad Bhagavatham then goes to say how one should meditate on the form of the Lord. It is described in Rudra Geetha. Lord Rudra himself describes that beautiful form that one should meditate upon.
Bhagavatham also talks about dispassion. Jadabahratha and Rishaba Yogishawara’s life histories lucidly talks about dispassion. One should start to inculcate dispassion with immense bhakti for the Lord. Dispassion is leaving everything to the wish and will of the Lord. This is shown in seventh canto in Prahlada charithra. Prahlada advised his friends to inculcate dispassion. Love for the Lord does not manifest as love for fellowmen. Seeing everything as the form of the Lord is the crux of Prahlada charithram.
In the eighth canto, surrender to the Lord is described in Gajendra charithra. Srimad Bhagavatham being a practical Grantha does not advice to surrender like Gajendra the elephant, but only asks us to think about Gajendra. That will verily help us think of the Lord in our last moments of life. This act is truly surrendering to the Lord.
There is one quality that one should never possess and the Lord will never come to us if we even have a tinge of that quality. Sage Sukha decided to remove that quality before the Lord comes to reside in our hearts, when we start to enjoy the glories and the divine plays of the Lord in the tenth canto. That quality is verily “Ego”. If we ponder on the definition of the word Vidwan, he is one who is not adept at scriptures, but he is one who has the realization of the Lord and yet very humble. Ambarisha charithra in the ninth canto shows us that if one does not possess humility, the Lord will never come to us.
Sage Shuka narrated the story of Nabaga and Naabaga. There was a king called Nabaga and his son was Naabaga. Naabaga was in the gurukula and in the due course of time all the siblings of Naabaga had swindled his father’s wealth. Upon his return from gurukula, his siblings asked him to care of their father who was his share of wealth. Naabaga was overjoyed when he heard it and conveyed the same to his father, who was very happy as well. His father adviced Naabaga to go and offer some help to some Brahmanas for a yagna and told his son that they would give some money for offering a helping hand. As ordained by his father, Naabaga went out to help out some Brahmanas and as predicted by his father, he acquired some wealth for his timely help. However, the wealth that he had just acquired belonged to Lord Shiva. When Lord Shiva [aka Rudra] told Naabaga that it was his wealth, he happily relinquished his wealth. This noble act of Naabaga propitiated Lord Shiva and he granted wealth and knowledge to Naabaga. It is said by Sage Sukha that one who gets to hear this story will be immensely blessed with Vedic knowledge and intelligence. When we acquire knowledge, our ego and pride immediately shoots up. So in order to teach humility, Sage Sukha narrated the story of Ambarisha.
Ambarisha Mahabhaga: sapthadweepavathim mahim |
Avyyayam cha shiyam labdva vibhavam chathulam bhuvi||
Menethi durlabham pumsam sarvam thath swapnasamsthutham |
Vidhwan vibhavanirvanam thamo vishathi yath puman ||
Ambarisha had inherited the seven divisions [continents] of the world and yet he did not attach any pride in him for this ownership. He considered it as a clod of earth and he fixed his mind exclusively on the lotus feet of the Lord. One contemporary example that our Sri Swamiji cites is as follows. We spend million dollars to buy an apartment in the fiftieth or sixtieth floor. When we jump a little hard our downstairs neighbor would bicker on us. We don’t have the same freedom to hit a nail on the floors. We don’t have any ownership on the walls and the roof but paid a million dollar for the air enclosing the apartment. This is akin to Ambarish’s propensity on his wealth.
Sa Vai Mana: krishnapadaravindayoho vachamsi vaikuntagunaanuvarnanae |
Karou harermandiramarjanaadishu shutim chakarachutasathkathodayae ||
Mukundalingalayadarshanae drushou thatbruthyagaatrasparsha angasangamam |
Granam cha thatpaadaarojasowrabae srimaththulasya rasanam thadarpithae||
Padou hare: kshetrapadanusarpanae shiro hrishkeshapadabivandanae|
Kamam cha dasyae na thu kamakamyaya yauthamashlokajanashraya rathi: ||
He was forever in the divine communion with the Lord. He didn’t spend much time in ruling his kingdom. His mind was forever set to the lotus feet of Lord Sri Krishna. He would eat only the Prasad [food that was offered] to the Lord. He would only wish to divine names and glories of the Lord and if he wanted to smell some good fragrance, he would take some tulsi leaves that were offered to the holy feet of the Lord. All the ten senses were dedicated for the service of the Lord. That is said to be the supreme way of bhakti. Our Guru Maharaj very beautifully says that if we expose all the sense organs to the Lord, and also employ them in his service, then the Lord will automatically will come to you. And yes, the Lord did come to Ambarisha.
When one surrendered himself to the Lord, it is the utmost responsibility of the Lord to take care of his devotees. The Lord’s Sudharshana chakra ruled over Ambarisha’s kingdom akin to how Lord Rama’s Padhuka ruled over Ayodhya. To substantiate surrender to the Lord, Bali’s life-history is another great example. When king Bali surrendered to the Lord, the Lord took care of him. Such is the compassionate nature of the Lord. Ambarisha’s wife was also a very devout person and helped him in his spiritual austerities. She had the same mind set as Ambarisha.
Ambarisha once decided to perform ekadasi fasting [vratha/upavasa] for a year. That fast ended on the Uttana ekadasi day in the month of karthikai. Ambarisha went to Madhuvana forest in Brindavan. Madhuvana is a very popular place amongst the bhagavathas as Lord Dhruva had performed penance in that forest. He decided to celebrate the three days [starting from Dasami till Dwadasi] with great pomp. In Brindavan it is not that all humans are indeed bhagavathas, but even the animals. He performed Nama Sankirtan on the day of Dasami and on the evening of ekadasi he performed Divya Nama Sankirtan. On the day of Uttana Dwadasi, the culminating day for his fast, he had invited everyone for a grand feast.
The Ekadasi Vratha bears fruit only if a guest [athithi] is invited home and is well-fed and offer the pranams and make him highly contended and then we consume food before the end of Dwadasi. Why is a guest called athithi? The term ‘thithi’, refers to a day [to be specific, it refers to the Dwadasi day]. It is on this day that we should visit other people’s homes. But a person who doesn’t mind whether it is a ‘Thithi’ or not, is indeed an ‘Athithi’!
Ambarisha fed all the guests [athithis ] to their hearts content and when there was a very little of the Dwadasi day left, a great Bhagavothama Durvasa, verily the form of the Lord arrived.
Thasya tharhyathiti shakshath dhurvasa bhagavanbhoothu
It is said that when the Lord gives darshan, he only bestows good blessings [anugraha]. But the Lord decided to test Ambarisha before he blessed him. Ambarisha was very happy to see Sage Dhurvasa and thought that the one year ekadasi vratha yielded fruit and he seated Dhurvasa and washed his holy feet following which the sage set out for the Yamuna river to complete his after-noon ablutions. When the sage entered the Yamuna river, he started to do penance and did not come out of the river. It was past afternoon and there was very little of the dwadasi muhurtha left and Ambarisha was in a fix [dharma shankata]. Dharma Shankata is when we have two dharmas in front of us and if we are in a fix as to which dharma should one follow given that both the dharmas are right and if both the dharmas are not followed we accrue sins.
Ambarisha was stranded between the two dharmas. The first dharma is that he had to finish his Ekadasi vratha by eating on the day of Dwadasi before the end of Dwadasi muhurtha. The second dharma is brahmana Athikramam. One cannot ill-treat a brahmana by inviting him home and not feeding him and eating before the guest is fed. When he was in such a turmoil, Ambarisha went and asked the elders for an advice. They advised him to take a sip of water. Consuming the water is equivalent to breaking the Ekadasi vratha and since it is not a full course of food, it cannot be considered as an ill treating a brahmana. Per the elder’s advice, Ambarisha offered a glass of water to the Lord and drank the water. Sage Dhurvasa immediately came to know of this by intuition and started to think that Ambarisha was ill-treating him. He went to Ambarisha and started to shout at him for breaking the fast without feeding the guest.
Dhurvaso Yamaunakoolath kruthavashyaka Aagathaha|
Ragnyabhinandhithasthasya bobodhae chaestitham dhiya||
Manyuna prachaldhagaathro brukutikutilananaha|
Bobukshithasya sutaram kruthanjalimabhashatha||
Aho asya brushamsasya Shiyonmathasya pashyatha|
In a rage, he told him not to call himself as a Bhakta of the Lord if he did not know to respect others and is not hospitable. He took a matted lock from his head and chanted some holy mantras and placed it on Ambarisha and from nowhere a demon appeared and pounced on him. If it for any normal person he would try to flee that scene. But Ambarisha just stood there. Since he had incurred the wrath of a Brahmin he was willing to accept whatever Amabrisha had for him.
Thamapathanthim jwalathimasihastham padha bhuvam|
Vepayanthim samudhvikshya na chachala padannrupaha||
Ambarisha did not even take a step back and stood there with his hands together. However the demon did not act on Ambarisha and was just standing there. The formidable Sudarshana chakra that was indeed ruling the kingdom could not tolerate this evil act on Ambarisha. It came and burned the demon and started to come near Dhurvasa. Unable to withstand the intense heat of the Sudarshana chakra, Sage Dhurvasa started to flee as fast as he could. A great sage who had relinquished all his desires and consumes only fruits and dried vegetables was trying to save himself from the Sudarshana chakra and whithersoever he fled, the chakra followed him. Ambarisha who on the other hand was leading a worldly life was just standing there with no fear. The sage reached Brahma loka and pleaded Lord Brahma to help. But he refused and to told him that he was unable to protect him from the Lord’s wrath. He advised him to seek Lord Shiva’s [bhavo] help but he also added that he might not be that potent to counter the Sudharshana chakra and instead asked him to surrender unto the Lord. Sage Dhurvasa went to Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva.
On seeing him, Lord Shiva told him that he was helpless just as what Lord Brahma had rightly said. He told Dhurvasa to not to knock other places as well.
Aham Sanatkumarascha narado bhagavanajaha|
Kapiloapantharathamo devalo dharma asurihi||
Marichipramukhaschanyae sidhaeshaha paradharshanahaha|
Vidama na vayam sarvae yanmayam mayayavruthaha||
Lord Shiva told Dhurvasa that it was not him who could not help him out but, the Sanatkumaras, Kapila, Sage Narada will not be able to help and instead enlightened the sage to surrender to the Lord.
Aahachyuthananda sadipsitha prabho krithagasam mava hi vishvabhavana |
Chanting the Divine Names of the Lord, Sage Dhurvasa reached the divine abode of Lord. The Lord was very pleased to see him chant his Divine Names. It is not surprising to see sage Dhurvasa chanting the Divine Names of the Lord, since he was coming from Ambarisha’s place who was a great bhagavatha. He pleaded to the Lord to subdue the overpowering sudharshana chakra. The Lord in reply to the sage’s request told him that the Sudarshana chakra is akin to Lord Rama’s Padhuka and it would not do any injustice. So he asked the sage if he committed any sin. The sage very shyly admitted his mistake. The Lord reprimanded him for his act and told him that he was also helpless since he was bound by the devotees who sing his name. But he told him that he can give some advice. [upayam katheshyami] . The Lord asked the sage to listen to him [ thava vipratha srunuswatath]. He asked him to go to Ambarisha for help.
Aham bhakthaparadheeno asvathantra iva dwija |
Sage Dhurvasa went to Ambarisha and prostrated unto him. This act of the sage really moved Ambarisha and he was in tears. His eyes caught sight of the Sudharshana chakra that was fast approaching the sage and immediately Ambarisha cried –
“Sudharshana namasthubhyam shasthratchachuyuthapriya|
Sarvasthragathin vipraya svasthi booya hidaspathae||
Oh Sudarshana, I prostrate unto you. If my ancestors have truly performed bhakti to you, and if my bhakti is also true, please don’t trouble this Brahmin. Hearing this, Sudharshana chakra went back and left Sage Dhurvasa unharmed.
Seeing this Sage Dhurvasa said –
Aho Ananthadasanam mahathvam drishamadhya mae|
Krithagasopi yath rajan mangalani samihasae||
Ambarisha, You are such a great Bhagavata! There is no one who can shake a Bjagavata!
And he further did Nama Siddantha –
Yannamashruthimatrena puman bhavathi nirmalaha|
Thasya theerthapada kim va dasanamavasishyathae||
Sri Bodendral requests everyone to sing the divine names of the Lord. If that is not possible due to whatever means, then listen to the divine names of the Lord.
Sage Dhurvasa too, performs a Nama Siddanta in which he proclaims that if one merely listens to the Divine Names of the Lord, their sins get absolved. Is there anything that the Bhagavathas cannot attain by singing the divine names of the Lord? By doing Nama sankirtan, one’s sins are obliterated and secondly they are bestowed with whatever they desire.
It was only to bring out Ambarisha’s great character that Sage Dhurvasa disguised in that form. He is known for his anger and Mahans tend it act in a peculiar way only to bring out the greatness of other Mahans.
This was narrated by Sage Shuka because he wanted to infuse the quality of humbleness [vinaya] before one started to embark into the Dasama Skandam. To attain the Lord, humility is one of the main requirements.
In one of our Guru Maharaj’s kirtan, he sings
“Anjalinam yaache premika varada
Abhayam dehi premika varada
Venu vilola Premika Varada
Vijaya gopala Premika Varada
Veda swaroopa Premika Varada
Vinayam dehi Premika Varada
Surrendering to the Lord by giving up our ego and seeking humility is the what one needs to desire in order to reach the holy feet of the Lord.
The 30th of October was Brindavana dwadasi and it was on this very day that this incident happened.
The satsang ended with Namasankirtan and prayers.