The eleventh canto of Srimad Bhagavatam is known as the crown of Bhagavatha Purusha who is verily Lord Krishna. In the previous lectures we enjoyed the first two Nava Yogis Kavi and Hari Discourses to the king of Videha, King Nimi. The first Yogi, Kavi in his concise discourse of eleven slokas, conveyed the beautiful precept that the path of Bhakti Yoga. He expounded the Bhakti yoga in simple terms which is chanting the divine names of the Lord and listening to the glories of the Lord and that will indeed lead one to the holy feet of the Lord. He gave the essence of Srimad Bhagavad Gita in just eleven slokas. After the discourse of Kavi Yogi, Hari Yogi started to discourse on the characteristics of Bhagavatotamas. Who are Bhagavatotamas? They are verily the devotees of the highest order. Prahalada, Hanuman, Azhwars to name a few are Bhagavatotamas. People in general can be classified into three categories on any level of comparison. We have seen earlier that the devotees of the Lord are classified into Uttama, Madhyama and Prakruthas. Another way of classifying the devotees is by the gunas, namely Sathvikas, Rajasika and Tamasika based on the deity they worship. That will lucidly show the qualities they possess. People who possess the tamas quality mainly perform sacrifices [bali]. People who adhere to the path of Rajasika path follow the Karma Anushtanas and worship the fore-fathers [pitrus] and perform vedic austerities. Devotees of the Lord who worship the Lord with sheer love and perform bhkati with unconditional love possess the sattvika quality in them.
In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Sri Krishna talks about yet another way of classifying the devotees of the Lord.
chaturvidha bhajante mam janah sukrtino ‘rjuna
arto jijnasur-artharthi jnani cha bharatarshabha
Four kinds of virtuous men worship Me, O Arjuna, and they are the distressed, the seeker of knowledge, the seeker of wealth, and the wise, O, greatest of the Bharata lineage.
The first of the kind is Arthis. They are the ones who are distressed in lives and have some afflictions. They pray to the Lord to absolve all their problems. The second clan of people is the Jijnasus. They are the ones who always have a quest to learn. They offer their ablutions to the Lord to bestow them with more jnana. The third factions of people [Artharthis] are the ones who are not contended with their wealth and pray to the Lord to be bestowed with more riches. The fourth class of people is indeed the rarest of all. They are the Mahans [jnanis]. They have realized that there is nothing outside the Lord and everything is verily the Lord. They offer unconditional love and perform bhakti because they derive happiness by doing bhakti. They are verily the Bhagavatotamas like the Gopis of Brindavan who had immense love for Lord Sri Krishna. One great quality of Bhagavatotamas is that they perceive a great misfortune to be a blessing of the Lord. A fitting example is one of the incidents from Sage Narada’s life. He had lost his parents when he was five years old. In spite of doing service to great Bhagavatotamas he lost his mother to a snake bite. One who wonder how cruel was the Lord. But Sage Narada only took that has a benediction. Our Guru Maharaj beautifully says “Dukkam varuvathum iraivanin arulalae virakthi varavae undi para”. He lucidly says that it when one is in deep misery or misfortune, it is also an indication of the Lord’s grace to make one dispassionate and turn his focus unto the Lotus Feet of the Lord. When one is in grieving about a materialistic loss and he feels depressed, then that is a clear indication that the Bhakti that he performs to the Lord is not enough. On the other hand, if the Lord thinks about his devotee then that it is a hint that the devotee’s Bhakti on the Lord is complete.
Na yasya janmakarmabhayam na varnashramajaathibih |
Sajjathaesminahambhavo daehae vai sa harehae priyaha || [11.2.51]
A great quality of the Bhagavatotamas is that they are devoid of any ego in them. They are not affected by the religion they belong and they are least bothered about the money they earn to make a living. They see the Lord in everything. A fitting example to substantiate this fact is from the life-history of Tiruppan Azhwar, a famous azhwar from the southern part of India. He hailed from a town known as Uraiyur. This town is famous for the Goddess Mahalakshmi fondly called as Uraiyur Nachiyar. Tiruppan Azhwar was from a lower caste in the society. They are known as Panchamar. People born in the Panchamar caste were not allowed to go inside the temples. Tiruppan Azhwar never had the darshan of Lord Ranganatha. He was however a very devout person and was in constant reminiscence of the Lord. One fine morning, he was lost in the deep thoughts of Lord Ranganatha on the riverside of Cauvery. At that very moment, pundits from the temple came down to the riverside to take fresh water to wake up the Lord. Since panchamars were not allowed to come in sight of these pundits, they requested him to move out but he was oblivious to their requests. One of the pundits then pelted a stone on the forehead of Tiruppan Azhwar and that is when he realized where he was. He started to bleed profusely and sat on the road feeling bad for his actions. He felt remorseful for not being pelted by stone, but for making the pundits irritated. It was however no fault of his. Humility, that is verily one of the great qualities of Bhagavatotamas.
The pundits then proceeded straight to the temple carrying pots of fresh water from the riverside to wake the Lord, Sri Ranganatha. As they went inside the temple and looked at Lord Ranganatha, they were shocked to see the Lord’s face bleeding in the same spot where they pelted a stone on Tiruppan Azhwar . Lord Ranganatha came out of the idol and requested them to summon Tirupan Azhwar in front of him. –
“Bhanasya mama bhaktasya laanathae bhava sambhavaya”
The pundits ran in all directions to find Tirrupan Azhwar and after locating him, they requested him to come inside the temple premises and briefed with all the incidents that took place inside the temple. Hearing this Tiruppan Azhwar was even more inconsolable and refused to come inside the temple as that would be a violation of the shastras, because a person born in an untouchable caste cannot enter the temple premises. The pundits carried him straight to the temple premises and he was bestowed with the darshan of Lord Ranganatha. At that very moment he sang ten pasurams on Lord Ranganatha admiring his beauty from his head to foot.
koNdal vaNNanaik kOvalanAy veNNey
uNda vAyan en uLLam kavarndhAnai
aNdar kOn aNi arangkan en amudhinaik
kaNda kaNgaL * maRRonRinaik kANAvE
I have seen the Lord whose color is like dark clouds and he is indeed the one with the beautiful mouth who swallowed the butter of cowherds. He is verily the Lord of the Devas and he is He is Lord Ranganatha, who is my life!
In his final verse, he says that “My eyes have seen my Lord and will not see anything else!”
After singing the ten pasurams, he instantly merged with the Lord. It is said that Tiruppan Azhwar and Andal were the two great Bhagavatotamas to merge and united directly with the Lord.
The Lord and the Bhagavatas do not differentiate between the castes and the life-history of Tiruappan Azwar stands as one of the testimony to the sloka mentioned below:
“Na yasya janmakarmabhayam na varnashramajaathibihi |
Sajjathaesminahambhavo daehae vai sa harehae priyaha ||” [11.2.51]
Even in contemporary lives, one can clearly see that the saints exhibit the same love and compassion for all jivas irrespective of their caste, creed and the position they hold in the society.
“Na yasya sva para ithi vithaeshvatmani vaa bidhaa |
Sarva bhoota samaha shanthaha sa vai bhagavathothamaha||”
The above sloka conveys yet another great quality of a Bhagavathotama. He who is the foremost of the devotees sees no distinction between his and others in the matter of his possessions and body. They see everything has the very property of the Lord. Their mind always ponders to do service to the Lord. When they need money to render some service to the Lord, they would not hesitate to ask others for money. One classic example is from the life-history of Bhadrachalam Ramadas. He built a magnificent Rama temple using the money that verily belonged to Nawab of Hyderabad. For bhagavatotamas, they do not see any difference in the wealth that people possess. They are of the thought that the entire wealth in this world belongs to the Lord.
The qualities of Bhagavatotamas are infinite. One could keep reminiscing about them for their entire lifetime. Calmness [Shantah] is another great quality of Bhagavatotamas. Let’s delve into this a little deeper. When does one become angry? Lord Krishna beautifully replies to this question in Bhagavad Gita. A person who has desires in his life becomes angry when his desire is not fulfilled. Bhagavatotamas are devoid of any desires and hence they are always calm and happy. There are lots of examples to substantiate this beautiful precept. If we look into the life-history of Sant Ekanath, we can see that he was immensely calm and composed when a person was profusely spitting on him for hours together. However, Ekanathar did not even look at that person and questioned him once. He went to the river and took a dip every time that person spit on him. Such is the greatness of Bhagavatotamas. Even if a Bhagavatotama is bestowed with the sovereignty of all the three worlds [thribuvana vibhava hethavae] he would not desire for it and would only desire to admire the Lord’s lotus feet for all his life.
Visrujathi hrudayam na yasya Shakshad ravasa bihithobhyagouganaashah |
Pranayarashanayaa dhruthangripadmaa sa bhavathi bhagavatha pradhana ukthaha||
It is verily the Lord who comes running to reside in the hearts of his devotees. The people in the mundane world run behind the Lord, but the Lord runs behind the heart of the Bhagavatotamas and becomes an eternal servant of that supreme devotee. That is one of the foremost qualities of a Bhagavatotama.
The satsang ended with prayers and Namasankirtan.