Srimad Bhagavatam is our life-line of our satsang. There is no detail that goes unexplained in Srimad Bhagavatham says our Guru Maharaj. There are different ways to attain the Lord. All the different margas the path of self enquiry, the path of meditation, the path of controlling the senses, the path of bhakti right from Kamya bhakti to Prema Bhakti to name a few are clearly elucidated in Srimad Bhagavatham. Sage Suka narrated Srimad Bhagavatam to King Parikshit who was ordained to die in the next seven days. Even though he listened to all the paths for attaining the Lord, he did not get a chance to practice them. But it is said that he attained the holy feet of the Lord by merely listening to Srimad Bhagavatam. So our Guru maharaj says that kathashravanam is the path shown by Srimad Bhagavatam. Even if we want to look it in a philosophical perspective, King Parikshit is the jeevatma and the Karma that a Jeevatma performed is to garland a snake on Shamika Maharishi. He is then cursed to death by the sting of a snake. We only know that it as a snake all through Srimad Bhagavatam, but in the last chapter of Srimad Bhagavatam, Suta says that it is not a snake. It is samsara that has disguised in the form of a snake!
So because of the karma we have been doing, we are stung by a snake called samsara. The panacea to get out of this samsara is to have the association with a great sage like Sage Suka who is a devotee [bhakta] of the Lord and rasika and also adhere to what He says.
Followed by a quick round of introductions, Sriramji from Houston lucidly talked about the significance of a Guru with reference to the Nava Yogi charitra. Srimad Bhagavatham is a rare [guhya] purana. It is not easy and accessible for everyone to enjoy it. It is sheer grace personification that Srimad Bhagavatam has come to our hands. It has to be said that certain portions of Srimad Bhagavatam are indeed very rare. Sriramji reminisced on the eleventh canto. Eleventh canto talks about the Nava Yogi Charitra and Uddhava Gita.
Vasudeva asked Sage Narada to expound on Bhagavata Dharma. It is very nice to see how Srimad Bhagavatam is structured.
There was a king who ruled the kingdom of Videha and his name was King Nimi. One day he was doing a sacrifice. When one is performing a sacrifice, there are some positive signs that indicate that the Lord has ratified the sacrifice. Similarly when King Nimi was performing the sacrifice, all of a sudden came Nine Yogis, who are all great Yogishwaras and are in an elevated state, Jeevan Muktas started to expound on Bhagavata Dharma.
The Nine Yogis are –
“Kavirhariantharikshaha prabuddha pipalayana |
“Aavirhotrotha drumilaschamasaha karabhajana||”
Kavi, Hari, Anthariksha, Prabuddha, Pipalayana, Avirhotra, Drumila, Chamasaa, Karabhajana.
The first Yogi Kavi, in a succinct way conveyed the beautiful precept that if one desires to cross the ocean of samsara, he needs to take refuge[Ashreya], onto the holy feet of a Sadguru. He explained the Bhagavad Shastras in seven slokas.The next Yogi Hari, elucidated the characteristics [lakshanas] of a Bhagavatotama. He explains as to who really is a Bhagavathotama and how to identify a Bhagavatotama.
After the two Yogis, Kavi and Hari left the stage, and then came Antharikshar. He started to expound on Maya [the divine illusion] to Videha Maharaj, King Nimi. He conveyed the fact that Maya is the power of Lord himself. The Lord uses Maya as an instrument to create this universe, sustain his creation and also use Maya for destroying the universe. Everything happens through Maya.
Daivi hyesa gunamayi Mama Maya duratyaya |
Mameva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te|| [Srimad Bhagavat Gita 7.14]
In the above sloka, the Lord says that this divine illusion [Maya] is very difficult to transcend and he conveyed the beautiful fact that one who surrender onto him can only surmount this barrier and overcome this eternal ignorance.
So what is Maya? It can be defined as temptations that dwell in jivas that make them drown in this mundane world. One needs discriminative powers [viveka] to overcome Maya to attain the holy feet of the Lord. Mahatmas say that it is indeed very rare to have that discrimination.
If we delve into this, at the end of the day, everything has to be destroyed. Every living/non-living being right from an elephant to ant to human dies and eventually becomes part of the soil [mannodu mannaga]. If we take a handful of soil and put it in a cup of water, it gets easily dissolved. When we expand this concept, the soil gets dissolved in the pralaya [dissolution of the world]. When the eternal cycle ends, the soil gets dissolved in the pralaya waters and it in turn gets dissolved in the pralaya agni [fire]. The pralaya agni is blown away by the pralaya wind and the wind is consumed by the space. The space eventually gets merged in the Maya and it becomes one with the Brahman and the Brahman finally becomes one with the Paramatma. This depicts the completion of the cycle. When one cycle completes, the Lord’s creation starts again. This is a scientific way of explaining the creation, sustenance and destruction. Sage Anthariksha discoursed this to King Nimi.
One may ask as to why the Lord is doing all this? It is actually a Leela for him, but why should the living and non-living beings go through this struggle. The Lord’s true wish is not to make the jivas go through this struggle. His true wish is to bestow everyone with moksha. But if we grant us moksha instantly, then we don’t accept it and we are skeptical about it. Isn’t it? He gives us another way to enjoy the worldly life and throws the seeds of happiness and sorrow which are transitory in nature. If we don’t have sorrows, then we don’t worry about moksha. The element of sorrow is sowed in so that the Lord gives back a free will.
Our Swamiji beautifully defines the definition of Maaya. One needs to know if he possesses the free will or not. If we think about Maaya and understand this concept, then it makes us think that the only free will we have is to go towards the Lord or not. That is the choice we have to make and when we make the choice from the bottom of our heart, then the Lord bestows us with satsang which puts one in the path of Moksha Sadhana. Hence the main intention of the Lord is to grant everyone Moksha.
When Sage Suka expounded on the different infernal regions to King Parikshit, his first question to Sage Suka was how not to get into these hells. Sage Suka replied that chanting the Divine Names of the Lord was the only solution and substantiated his reply with Ajamila charitra.
Similarly, King Nimi requested Sage Anthariksha for means to get out of this Maaya [infatuation]. He beautifully said that one who is sleeping cannot awaken others. One who has already woken up can awaken others. Similarly one who has already crossed the ocean of samsara and has defeated Maaya can only take the jivas ashore and make them cross the dreaded ocean of samsara.
“Thasmath gurum prapadhyetha jignyasuhu shreya utthamam|
Shaabde pare cha nishnatham brahmanyupashamashayam || [11.3.21]
Thatra bhagavathan dharman shikshed guruvathma daivathaha |
Amaayayanuvruthaya Yaithushyai dhathmathmido harihi|| [11.3.22]
Prabudha is the next Yogi to give discourse to King Nimi. He started by elucidating the beautiful precept that everyone must attain a Guru and only then will one be blessed with Paramaatma Labham, which is life beyond this earth. In order to reach the Holy Feet of the Lord, one needs to attain a Sadguru and completely surrender unto his Holy Feet. Guru Krupa can bestow one with anything and everything we seek in this worldly life.
Narayana Theerthar was a highly realized soul. His composition “krishna leela tharangani” is all famous. There lived a devotee, a poor brahmin who used to cook food for his Guru, Sri Narayana Theerthar and delivered the biksha [food] to him every day without fail. His Guru did not want to trouble him and politely kept on refusing the food on a daily basis. One day he decided to sit on the other side of the river Kollidam from his ashram. The devotee came to know this and started running to the other side of the river since it was already past the meal time for his guru. The love [prem] that he had for his guru was immense. It was a very hot day and was scorching heat and in spite of the heat, the devotee made sure he served the food to his guru. Seeing his devotee, Sri Narayana Thirtha was moved to tears. The devotee spotted some heat boils on his Guru’s foot and enquired about it. Upon enquiry he came to know that when the devotee came running in the scorching heat, the Guru absorbed the heat from his devotee and protected his devotee when he came to feed lunch for his guru. Such is the compassion of Jeevan Muktas. Pleased with his disciple’s devout nature, he requested his disciple to ask him for a boon. He wished for his poverty to be destroyed. His Guru pointed him to a tree which had medicinal values which can cure any disease. It is the for the word of the guru that transformed the tree into a siddha medicine.
Days passed by and the king fell ill with a deadly disease which was very difficult to find an elixir. All the doctors gave up and somehow Narayana Thirtha’s disciple’s name was referred and the king summoned this brahmin. This disciple treated the king with a few leaves from the tree that his guru had earlier shown him. The king was cured and was very happy. The king enquired about his guru and later went to meet Sri Narayana Thirtha. He requested him to build a temple for Lord Krishna in Varagur and the king built the temple.
If we see in the life-history of Sant Namadev, the Lord Panduranga used to play and converse with Namdev. But when came to attaining Jnana, the Lord sent him to a Guru. Such is the greatness of a Guru. It is only Guru Krupa that can bestow one with all goodness.
One more example is from the life-history of Thotakacharya. He was an ardent devotee of Sri Adi Shankara. He was considered dumb by the fellow devotees and Thotakacharya used to wash the clothes of Sri Adi Shankara and lead a life by just serving his Guru.
One day all the disciples of Adi Shankara were waiting to listen to their Guru’s discourse. Thotakacharya was not to be found and his Guru enquired about him. He spotted him in the backyard where he was hanging out the clothes, and suddenly Adi Shankara poured an overwhelming compassion on Thotakacharya and he started to experience horripilations and was bestowed Jnana by Guru Kataksham.
He came in and started to sing –
“viditakila sastra sudha jalathe..”
“Guruhoho anugraihivena puman purnaha prashantayae”- Says Srimad Bhagavatham. A man attains the state of completeness only by the grace of his Guru’s grace and blessings.
Lord Krishna himself has clearly shown that one needs to seek a Guru and went to Sandeepani and learnt the vidhyas and the sixty four arts
The mano vyadi can be cured only by a Guru.
Sareeram suroopam thadha va kalathram,
Yasacharu chithram dhanam meru thulyam,
manaschenna lagnam guror anghri padme,
tatah kim tatah kim tatah kim tatah kim |
One may be blessed with a beautiful mien, a pretty wife, more wealth and fame. But what is the use if your mind and heart does not bow to the Sadguru.
The satsang ended with prayers and Namasankirtan.