In Srimad Bhagavatam, the tenth canto starts with King Parikshit requesting Sage Shuka to expound on the exploits of Lord Krishna. Suka being enthralled by King Parikshit’s request confers on him the title of “Rajarshi” and embarked on the discourse of Krishna Leela. If we see how the Tenth Canto ends it is indeed very beautiful. The festival of Holi is talked about in the Tenth Canto. The Lord is “sthiracharavrijinagnaka”. He is all powerful and His Names can destroy all misfortunes [yannaamamangalaghnam] and the Divine Names of the Lord can destroy the sins of all living being [‘sthira’ and ‘chara’]. His Divine Names and explois are all powerful and will absolve the sins of everyone. One should do incessant chanting of his Divine Names and listen to His glories. The Tenth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam closes with this beautiful message.
Nishaji from Houston beautifully delivered a lecture on Nava Yogi Charithra from the eleventh canto. The eleventh canto is an important canto since it talks about the greatness and importance of Bhagavata Dharma. Srimad Bhagavatam is just not the work of Sage Veda Vyasa. It is verily Lord Krishna himself. –
“Srimad Bhagavthakyoyam prathyakshah Krishna eva hi”
The various cantos of Srimad Bhagavatam can be visualized as different parts of Lord Krishna. The eleventh canto is the crown of Lord Krishna’s head. One of the reasons for the eleventh canto to be known as the crown is because of the innumerable discourses and Upadeshas which are embedded in the eleventh canto. Swami Vallabacharya beautifully expounds the uniqueness of this canto. He lucidly explains that the eleventh canto talks about liberation to both the Lord and the common people [jivas]. The Lord became Srimad Bhagavatam to play in the hands of normal mortals and in the due course liberate the jivas. The Yadava clan who represent the jivas also attain liberation as shown in the eleventh canto. The eleventh canto lucidly delineated on Bhagavata Dharma for normal mortals. It starts off with a curse that was cast on the Yadava clan which is elucidated in the first chapter of eleventh canto. From second chapter onwards Sage Sukha embarks on the journey of expounding Bhagavata Dharma. Mahans explain great precepts referencing another Bhagavata. In this context, Sage Shuka elaborated on Bhagavata Dharma by narrating the discussion between Sage Narada and Vasudeva. Sage Narada used to frequent Dwaraka. During one such visit, Vasudeva confided to Sage Narada and told him that even though he was living with the Lord, the Supreme Being of the universe, Vasudeva admitted that he was deluded by Maya. He added that even though he knew the Lord in his previous three births, he asked for a boon to bestow him with a child, instead of requesting for emancipation and liberation.
So the Lord granted his wish and the Lord became Vasudeva and Devaki’s son. The Lord only maintained a father-son relationship and did become a guru to Vasudeva. He sent Sage Narada to give Upadesha and in the process free him from Samsara. Vasudeva took refuge in Sage Narada and earnestly requested him to elaborate on Bhagavata Dharma. After having heard the request put forth by Vasudeva, Sage Narada was immensely pleased since when somebody speaks about Bhagavata Dharma, the Lord is very happy. So sage Narada was very happy since he now had a chance to make the Lord happy. He started to explain Bhagavata Dharma by reproducing the dialogue between King Nimi of Videha Desha and the Nava Yogis, who are the sons of Rishabha Yogishawara who is verily the incarnation of the Lord. The nine sons were Kavi, Hari, Prabuddha, Anthariksha, Pippalayana, Avirhotra, Drumila,Chamasa and Karabhajana. The nine yogis are great Mahans and devotees of the highest order. They have completely won over the Lord and hence simply roam around without any limitations. They once arrived at a place where a sacrifice [spiritual austerities] was being performed by King Nimi. When the king saw the nine yogis, he was overjoyed and extended a warm welcome with all the paraphernalia. After having seated the guests, he put forth a set of questions to them.
He said that the human birth is indeed very rare and even if one is bestowed with a human life it is very short. Having said this, rarer than human birth is satsang amidst great devotees of the Lord. He was so pleased with the Nava Yogis presence and thought that he was indeed blessed by their visit and hence requested them to elaborate on Bhagavata Dharma.
The Yogis were very excited on hearing King Nimi’s request and each one of them started their parlance on different aspects of Bhagavata Dharma.
The first Yogi, Kavi started off his discourse. His upadesha which contains eleven slokas contains the entire quintessence of the scriptures. Mahans lucidly convey the beautiful precept that the fruit that one reaps by reading these eleven slokas by Kavi Yogishwara is equivalent to that of reading the entire Bhagavad Gita.
Kavi Yogi embarked on his discourse.
“manyaekuthaschithbayamachyuthasya padambhujopasanamaatra nithyam |
Udvignabudhaerasamathmabhavadhvishwathmana yatra nivarthathae bihi ||” [11.2.33]
Here go the maxims of Kavi yogi. The only way to free oneself from the fear of samsara is take refuge in the Lord’s lotus feet. Whatever actions one performs, one has to finally take shelter in the Lord’s lotus feet. This is verily the crux of Bhagavata Dharma. Kavi added that when one follows the path of Bhagavata Dharma, all the obstacles in the path of the devotee will be absolved. He goes one step further and said that even when one follows the path of Bhagavata Dharma in a blind-folded manner, he will be taken to the lotus feet of the Lord even if he is devoid of any knowledge in the scriptures. Kavi Yogi also elucidated as to how one should follow the path of Bhagavata Dharma. One does not need to renounce his family, friends and can continue to do what he was doing. The one and only thing that one needs to modify is one’s mental outlook [mano bhava].
Kavi says –
“Kayena Vacaha manasendriyaiva bhudyathmana vaanusruthasvabhavath|
Karothi yaad yath sakalam parasmai narayanayaethi samarpayaethat||” [11.2.36]
Whatever one does with his mind, whatever one does utters with his mouth, all the actions emanating due to one’s senses [vasanas] which manifests itself as one’s swabhava should all be offered unto the holy feet of the Lord. The result of any action should be offered to the Lord. One should clearly come to terms with the fact that it is verily the Lord who is behind every action and everything in this world has the Lord in it. With this precept well understood one should then realize that whatever deed one performs does not matter as long as one offers the fruit of that action to the Lord. When one thus performs actions with a feeling of service mindedness [Seva Buddhi], it instills more dedication and as a result one derives happiness in doing whatever work one does. Seva Buddhi is verily viewing every action as the work of the Lord and that everyone has the Lord in them. This mentality will dawn in one only if he offers the result of his actions unto the holy feet of the Lord. This beautiful precept is called Karma Yoga. It can also be paraphrased as offering the fruits of one’s actions to the holy feet of the Lord.
By adhering to the path of Karma Yoga, it will instill the taste of Bhagavata Dharma and then one starts to enjoy the paths of Shravanam and Keerthanam which are the direct paths to reach the holy feet of the Lord. So Kavi Yogi says, –
“Shrunvan subhadraani rathangapanaerjaanmaani karmaani cha yaani lokae|
Geethani naamani thadarthakaani gaayan vilajo vicharethasangahah||” [11.2.39]
In Prahalada charithra, Prahalada expounds on the nine different ways to perform bhakti. Kavi Yogi picks only Shravanam and Keerthanam out of the nine different paths because the other seven paths might require extraneous sources to aid that path. To substantiate, archanam might need flowers. The path of Atma nivedanam cannot be practiced by one and all. Only people who have completely surrendered to the holy feet are indeed eligible. In the age of Kali, there is lot of predicament in following the other seven paths. So Kavi Yogi picks the two easiest ways – Shravanam and Keerthanam. Our Guru Maharaj very beautifully conveys a fact that by following the path of Shravanam and Keerthanam, the other seven paths of bhakti will be bestowed on us. The other seven paths are artifacts of Shravanam and Keerthanam.
The path of Keerthanam is easier than Shravanam. Keerthanam is verily calling out the Lord’s name without any inhibition. Nama Sankirtan is singing aloud the Lord’s names and Nama Japam is doing penance on the Lord’s name. By incessantly complying in the path of Nama Sankirtan and Nama Japa, one will reach the exalted state of Nama Smaranam where the Divine Names of the Lord reverberates in one without any effort and that is bound to take one unto the holy feet of the Lord.
kalau kalmasHa chittAnAm pApadravyOpa jIvinAm |
vidhikriyA vihInAnAm gathir gOvinda kIrtanam ||
In this Age of Kali, where the mind is impure and where living by prescribed rules is difficult, the only way to liberation is singing the Holy Name of God!
It is a fact that the Lord grants liberation [mukti] to one and all, but instills bhakti for only a chosen few. The only way for the Lord to bestow bhakti on one is to follow the path of Namasankirtan.
SO Kavi says,
“Evamvratha svapriyanamakeerthya jaathanuraago druthachitha uchaihi |
Hasathyatho roditi routhi gaayathi unmaadavannruthyathi lokabhahyaha||” [11.2.40]
Kavi Yogi requests one and all that if one chant the name of the Lord in a mechanical manner akin to the path of vratha, that will take one to the epitome of prema bhakti. A prema bhakta’s mind will melt away when he hears the divine names of the Lord and will have tears rolling over his eyes and also experience horripilation. There is only one eye through which one can see the Lord. It is verily the eye of bhakti.
When the Lord incarnated as Rama and Krishna, everyone had a chance to see the Lord. But the key take away is nobody viewed Lord Krishna in the way Gopis of Brindavan did. It is not important if the normal mortals got a chance to see the Lord, but it is the vice versa. It is only through the path of Nama Sankirtan that will make the Lord see his devotees. When one reaches that epitome of prema bhakti, then one will see the Lord everywhere says Kavi.
“Kam Vaayumagnim salilam mahim cha jyotimshi sathvaani dhisho dhrumadin|
Sarithsamudhramcha hareha shariram yath kincha bootham pranamedhananyaha||” [11.2.41]
One will see the Lord in all the five elements of the universe [sky, wind, water, agni and land] and by reaching this state of bhakti, one will automatically be relieved from the fear of samsara.
Kavi Yogi thus expounded on the Bhagavata Dharma in a succinct manner. To summarize, one should offer all the results of our actions to the holy feet of the Lord. By doing this, it will instill the taste of Bhagavata dharma in one which will eventually bestow the path of the divine name chanting in one. By practicing the path of Nama Sankirtan, that will take one to the highest state which is the state of viewing everyone and everything as an embodiment of the Lord. One we reach this state, the fear of samsara is absolved and one will remain in the joyful state forever.
The satsang ended with prayers and Nama Sankirtan.