The satsang lecture was delivered by Sri Narayananji from Boston.
It is said that when the Lord wants to shower his grace upon us, the first indication is that he bestows one with a good satsang. It is the invisible hand of Lord Sri Hari to shower the grace on us.
So now, who gets a satsang? It is verily for those who have a quest to see the Lord. But then satsang becomes a difficult task for everyone isn’t it? None of us have a quest to see the Lord. Most of us pray to the Lord to satiate our mundane needs and not everyone offers prayers for bestowing his darshan.
If you have a little bit of qualities of a Bhagavata in our heart then the Lord showers His grace by bestowing us with satsang. Let’s see how compassionate the Lord is. It is said that there is an eternal struggle between the devotee and the Lord. The devotee always tries to run away from the Lord and the Lord is determined to take the devotee unto himself. It is the struggle between the ignorance of the devotee and the compassion of the Lord. The compassion of the Lord is so much that, even if we chant His Name in mockery or as an insinuation, He grants us Moksha:
“Sanketyam parihasyam vaa stohham helanam eva va.” Goes the verse.
What is the clear indication for a great Mahan to be in constant communion with the Lord? It is verily from the life-history [charithra] of the Mahans.
When one possesses good qualities like ‘satyam’ [truthfulness], ‘dharma’ [righteousness], ‘daya’ [compassion/mercy] and ‘shanthi’ [peace of mind], then the Lord verily desires to reside in our heart and the first indication is to bestow one with a satsang.
This is clearly shown in the life-history of King Parikshit. He did not have the desire to attain the holy feet of Lord Krishna. That was not even in the wildest of his dreams. But he indeed possessed the qualities of compassion and repentance in his heart. He realized the mistake that he had committed by putting a dead snake on a great Bhagavatha. He prayed earnestly to the Lord to give him all the punishment for doing this grave act. Since King Parikshit repented for the sin that he had committed, Lord Krishna looked at his heart and decided to reside in him even though King PArikshit had only seven days to live. The very moment King Parikshit came to know of the curse from Shringi, he relinquished everything, crowned his son Janameyjaya and headed straight to Ganges. He took a vow in Ganges to Ganga Devi and prayed to the Lord to be born in the family of a Bhagavatha in his next birth and also not to do any Bhagavatha Apachara.
Having born in the lineage of Pandavas, who have been cherished and nurtured by Lord Krishna, he felt terrible for committing such a mistake. The moment he went and sat on the banks of river Ganges, great Rishis from different corners of the world started to assemble. All of them tired to advocate different paths and requested King Parikshit to follow in his last seven days of his life. But he decided to spend his last seven days by listening to the glories of the Lord [Katha Sravana] and when the idea of satsang gets clarified, then is when Lord Sri Krishna points that soul to an Uttama guru. Sage Sukha arrived on the banks of Ganges river.
Srimad Bhagavatham describes the beautiful form of Sage Sukha arriving there –
“alakshya lingo nija laabha thushto vrutascha baalai avadootha veshaha”
A satsang is a group of like-minded people who have at least a tinge of the qualities of a Bhagavata in them and who incessantly listen and sing the glories of the Lord. Satsang is in the divine communion of an enlightened soul [A jeevan muktha], who is a Jnani by himself and being in such a company will itself bestow Jnana.
Uddhava was always in the company of Lord Krishna. The way Sri Sukha ushers Uddhava is absolutely stunning –
“Shakshaat Brihaspati Shishyah Uddhavo buddhi satamah”
Uddhava is considered as the most intelligent of all and his intellece level was pretty high. He was the disciple of the great Sage Brihaspathi, who is the guru for all the Devas themselves. Uddhava became the minister in Lord Krishna’s ministry and he was the only one who remained alive after the entire Yadava clan was destroyed. Uddhava kept on asking Lord Krishna on various topics. He requested Lord Krishna to enlighten him by clarifying his questions related to satsang, bhakti, sankhya yoga and Vanashrama Yoga. So Lord Krishna looked at him and patiently answered all his questions. He looked at Uddhava and asked him whether his concerns were all clarified and in reply Uddhava says “Oh Lord Krishna, what is there to understand and decipher from you? I derive all the happiness that I need by merely being in your company. Uddhava told Lord Krishna that he feels so happy that cannot be expressed in words and so I really don’t have the need to know the answers for the questions that I just asked, Uddhava said. So Lord Krishna was puzzled and asked him as to why he then asked him all the questions. Uddhava said,
“When you talk to me, it is so great to see your eyes focused on me and your lips moving in a great synchronous fashion, the excitement in you when you talk about the glory of satsang and the choking of your throat when you reminisce the gopis and the criss-cross leg posture of yours when you talk is all what I am looking and admiring,” Uddhava added.
Satsang is merely being in the divine communion of a great Sadhu/Mahan who is an enlightened soul. So who is a Jeevan Mukta? A Jeevan Mukta behave likes a normal human being but he is very different. One cannot identify a Jeevan mukta using his intellect. It is verily Mahans and Jeevan Muktas who can verily identify themselves and not normal mortals like us.
Srimad Bhagavatham very beautifully describes how the realized souls [Jnanis/Mahans] come in the garb of human-beings and yet they are so different.
When Vidura and Uddhava meet, Uddhava says –
“Dhurbhago bhata lokoyam yadavo nitharamapi”
“yae samvasantho na vidhurharim meena ivodupam” [3:2:8 in Srimad Bhagavatham]
Uddhava says, the Yadava clan did not realize the greatness of the Lord and presumed him to be a normal being. The people in Brindavan however knew the greatness of the Lord.
It is said that “Harim meena ivodupam”. Just like a fish swimming in water, when looking at a big boat/ship in water and unable to get full sight of the ship, thinks that the ship is yet another big fish compared to itself. There is a marked difference between ship and fish. If we take the fish from the water, the fish is bound to die. The very purport of the ship is to bring the people ashore. The Yadavas presumed that Lord Krishna is yet another Yadava but is indeed a smarter one. Hence he is a minister and a king. They never looked him as the very Lord. Akin to the boat are the Jeevan muktas. They come in the human garb to takes the Jivas ashore.
The Devas in Srimad Bhagavatham beautifully explain as to how the Jnanis take everyone ashore.
“Swayam samutheerya sudustharam dyuman
Bhavaarnavam bhima madapra sowhrudhah
Bhavatpadamboruha nama matasaye
ihaniyatha sadanugraho bhavaan
The Devas address the Lord and say that the Jeevan Muktas not only liberate themselves, but also liberate everyone [syudustaram] who are with them. They liberate everyone by offering the burden to the holy feet of the Lord and by sheer blessings of the Lord.
Srimad Bhagavatham says –
“Yaenae aRavindaksha vimukta maninah
Tvai yacha bhaava avishuddha bhudayah
Aruhya krucrena param padam thathah
Patanthyadho na drutha yushmad anghrayah”
Hey Aravindhaksha! People think of themselves as Jeevan Muktas [vimukta maninaha] and practice the spiritual austerities without having devotion unto the Holy Feet of the Lord.” And if we ponder on their destiny, they merely fall from great heights [Patanthydho na drutha yushmadanghrayah]. The crux of the above sloka is that true Jeevan Mukta liberate the souls from the transmigration by showing the path of Bhagavatha Dharma which comprises of bhakti and devotion.
It is important for one to identify if one is a Jeevan Mukta not his treatises and discourses but only from his life-history.
Let’s take some of the life-history of some great Mahans to substantiate this.
Namazhwar was a great Jeevan Mukta. He didn’t consume a drop of water or food all his life. He used to take seat under a tamarind tree and do meditation. What did he preach to all of us? To sing the divine names of the Lord and listen to his glories. There may be lot of Azhwars but Namazhwar was very significant. It was because, he was a Jeevan Mukta and a realized soul amongst the twelve Azhwars. It is said that all the Lords from the hundred and eight Divyadesams came to Namazhwar to give him darshan and requested him to sing the glories of the Lord. Such is the glory of a Jeevan Mukta.
Another classic example is from Srimad Bhagavatham, in the life-history of Jatabaratha. He had three births. In his first birth, he was born as Bharatha. He practiced meditation, Jnana Yoga and he fell for a deer. So, in his second birth he was born as a deer. In his third birth he was born as Jadabharatha, a Jeevan Mukta. How do we know that he was a realized soul? Is it by the Upadesha that he rendered to Raghugana? It is not by his discourses but through his life-history.
One day, some blood savaged people who were devotees of Lord Kali were about to sever Jadabharatha’s head. It is a known precept that the realized souls do not identify themselves with their body. Jadabharatha was calm and composed as he would always be and never perturbed. He took that as the god’s will and proceeded along with them. Even though he was calm, Goddess Kali, for whom he was going to be given as a sacrifice became angry and she killed her devotees who were going to slaughter Jadabharatha. The take away point here is that even the Lord respects a great saint [mahan].
Adi Shankara Bhagavath Pada was a great saint. Everyone revered him as a great saint not because of his great treatises on the Dasopanishad and Bhagavath Gita, but it was solely due to the fact that he had the darshan of the Lord [Brahma Shatshatkara], which is clearly depicted in his life-history [charithra]. One day when he was in Kashmir, some devotees of Lordess Durga came and approached Adi Shankrara to give up his human body [shariram] which they can offer to their deity in order to acquire some supernatural power. Hearing this Adi Shankara was overjoyed. He said, “Till now I was thinking that this body was of no use to me. Please go ahead and take away my body”. He did not call out to the Lord to save him. One of the ardent devotees of Adi Shankara, Padmapadar who was witnessing this scene, became very agitated [infact Lord Narasimha merged into Padmapadar] and slaughtered all of them. At that instant of time, he composed verses called as Narasimha Karavalamba [stotras] on Lord Narasimha. Kara means ‘hand’ and avalamba means ‘catch’. In those verses, he didn’t praise the Lord for saving his life, instead he questioned the Lord as to why he saved him. The point to be noted is that Adi Shankara did not hesitate to give his human body.
There was another great saint, Sadasiva Brahmendra. He was in total communion with the Lord. He was the then pontiff of the Kanchi Mutt. He is also known as “Dikambara Sanyasi”. These sages don’t wear any clothes to cover their body. The four directions [east, west, north and south ] are indeed their clothing.
Sadasiva Brahmendra was once walking in the streets of a village. He was not clad in any clothing and this sight agitated many of the village folks. One villager went out and cut brahmendra’s hand. Brahmendra was oblivious to what was happening and he continued walking along the street. But the person who cut his hand on seeing Brahmendra, became petrified and told him that he had cut his hand. It was only then that Brahmendra saw that his hand out cut out. He immediately took his broken arm and placed it in its original spot and continued walking. This incident made the villagers realize that he was indeed a great saint and they all fell at his feet. This is another example to show the affinity great saints had for their human body.
A true realized soul can be easily identified only from his behavior and not through his discourses.
There is a mention about a great Yogeshwara called Sri Rishabha Yogeshwara in Srimad Bhagavatam. He was a complete renunciate – rid of all body consciousness and is often referred to as Avadhoota in the Scripture. The twenty-four Gurus that Bhagavatam shows, was an Upadesha of this great Jivan Mukta.
There is a great precept that all these Jeevan muktas show us. They spread the sweetness of Bhagavatha Dharma to everyone. We can clearly see that from Namazhwar where he preached everyone to sing the divine names of the Lord and hear his glories. Jadabharatha gave the same precept to Raghugana as well. He says to Raghugana “Nothing can lead you to the path of liberation except that of being in the divine communion with a Jeevan Mukta” [Vina mahat Pada Rajobhishekam].
Surrendering unto the Holy feet of a Realized soul and taking bath in the dust of his holy feet again and again will lead to liberation. Satsang is verily a place where there is incessant chanting of the divine names of the Lord and to reminisce on the divine glories of the Lord.
Lord Adi Shankara says “Bhaja Govindam Bhaja Govindam Muda matae”. He desires to be born in the banks of river Yamuna so that he perform prayers to Lord Krishna all the time.
Sadasiva Brahmendra sings “Pibarae Rama Rasam” which translates to keep chanting the names of Lord Rama.
“Manasa sanchararae Brahmani mathasikhi pincha alankrutha chikurae”.
In the above verse, he says, “Oh Mind please meditates on Lord Krishna and listen to his glories.”
Ramayana also advocates the path of Bhagavatha Dharma. Rama is the Lord. Lakshmana relinquished everything and was in the communion with him all the time. Bharatha was not able to be with Lord Rama all the time. But he followed all his orders and followed Lord Rama’s order. Shatrugna served Bharatha. In Valmiki Ramayana, it is said that Shatrugna was blemish less.
Govindaraja was a great Mahatma and has written various commentaries on Ramayana. He says that Shatrugna did not have the sin of Rama Bhakti. If we look into this, is devotion to Lord Rama a sin? This only refers to Shatrugna because for him, Bharatha was his world and he was his Guru and hence he was blemishless.
The crux of this is that whatever Shatrugna did is what all of us can do. Doing service and being in the vicinity of a Mahatma will lead to liberation.
If we take the life-history of Hanumanji from Ramayana, whether he was with Lord Rama or away from the Lord, he was incessantly chanting His Divine Names and always reminisce the glories of Lord Rama. That is the essence of Bhagavatha Dharma that Ramayana also advocates.
The beautiful satsang ended with prayers and Nama Sankirtan.