Sri Ramakrishna says that there are three things in this world that are equivalent to Brahman. The first of them is the sacred waters of river Ganga. The second in the list is the holy Prasad of Puri Kshetra and lastly the soil of Brindavan. It is said that the soil of Brindavan is so holy that it is compared to supreme Brahman itself. It is verily why people undertake pilgrimage to Brindavan. When the Gopikas expound on the glory of Brindavan, they envy Brindavan.
“Brindavanam saki bhuvo vidanothi kirtim
Yath devaki suta patham bhuja lapta Lakshmi”
There are so many different forests [vaanas] in different lokas. Each of the devas have their own garden. There is a garden called Nandanam in the Deva loka. There is a garden called Chaitraratham and Vaibrajakam in the different Deva Lokas. None of the scriptures have mentioned that the Devas wanted to visit these gardens. It is verily in Vrindavan that all the Devas line up and prostrate unto the Lord asking for a boon to be born as a blade of a grass in Vrindavan. Such is the glory of Vrindavan as extolled by the Gopis. The reason for the glory of Vrindavan is verily the Lord’s foot-prints, which are imprinted in Vrindavan.
One need not embark on a pilgimage to Vrindavan to do penance or any other spiritual austerity. Our Guru Maharaj says that it is more than sufficient to be just present in Vrindavan. Little Dhruva did penance in Madhuvana forest in Vrindavan and was bestowed with the Lord’s darshan. However, the serpent king Kaliya did not do any good deeds while he was in Vrindavan. He poisoned the Yamuna river and the cows who drank the Yamuna waters. Even after committing all these sins, the Lord blessed him. It is because he verily lived in Vrindavan. The wives of the serpent king hail their husband Kaliya that he was bestowed with a rarest of the rarest blessing, where the Lord himself danced on their husband’s head which even Goddess Lakshmi was not blessed with.
“Na Naaga Prashtam na sarva bhoumam”
Having said this, Our Guru Maharaj beautifully says that one need not go to Vrindavan. He says one’s own heart is verily Vrindavan – “Brindavanamae unn maname”. The beautiful path through which all our hearts will transform into Vrindavan is the incessant chanting of the divine names of the Lord, which will bestow the grace of a Guru. By the grace of a Guru, ones’ heart will become pure and pristine. This will lead the way to Lord Krishna’s exploits will always be happening in all our hearts and finally all our hearts will be merged with the Lord.
In one of Guru Maharaj’s kirtan it is said that –
“Brindavaname Unn Manamae”
“Leelaigal nadandidum dinam dinamae”
“guruvin arulal valardidumae”
“Oru naal avan idam ondridumae”
The shortest path to the get the Lord’s blessings is to chant the Divine Names of the Lord which will transform ones’ heart into Vrindavan by sheer Guru’s grace. This will lead the Lord to show up in all our hearts. Our Guru Maharaj lucidly gives all of us the essence of Bhagavata Dharma in the above verse.
Followed by a brief round of introductions, Sriramji from Houston discoursed on the Nava Yogi Upakyana.
Prabuddha, the fourth of the Nava Yogi’s discoursed to King Nimi on the path that one needs to follow to relieve from the ocean of samsara and that path is verily taking surrendering [Ashreya] unto a Guru and that Guru should verily unite all his devotees with Lord Narayana. As soon as King Nimi heard about Lord Narayana, he requested the Nava Yogi’s to expound on the Swaroopam of Lord Narayana. The next Yogi Pippalayanar started to expound on the characteristics of Lord Narayana. He starts off by saying that the swaroopam of Lord Narayana is verily Bhagavat Swaroopam. Our Vedas say that –
“Narayana paro jyothir atma Narayano pareheh”
“Narayana param brahma tattvam Narayanah parah”
Narayana is that Param Brahma tattvam. An Azhwar says that – “ Aadiyum jyothi urvai angu vaithu ingu pirandhu”. This means that the para Brahman is in the form of divine Jyothi. This Jyothi takes incarnations after incarnations akin to lighting lamps after lamps. When the Lord incarnated as Lord Krishna he was verily present in Vaikunta as well. He was one Jyothi and one lamp was lit from that Jyothi and was brought down to the earth in form of incarnations. This goes to show that the Lord is omnipresent and the Atma Swaroopam is akin to the divine Jyothi.
“Narayana param brahma tattvam” – The Brahma tattvam is verily Lord Narayana himself. So what is this Brahman? Is it something that can be perceived by the senses? The Upanishads have an answer to this question. They say that Brahman is something that cannot be perceived by the senses. The Brahman does not refer to the Upasana deity.
Brahman is an experience [anubhava] and can only be experienced. To substantiate this, in a way, this is akin to joy and sorrow. These cannot be perceived by the senses but can only be experienced. Brahman is similar to this and is not a sensory perception. It is indeed true that the Brahman who is the ultimate does exist. And how can we prove that?
Brahman is something that cannot be proven [Aprameya]. So one may ask, why should we believe on Brahman which cannot be perceived by the senses and also something that cannot be proven. Here comes Pippalayanar to expound on the characteristics of Brahman. He lucidly explains that while we cannot see Brahman, it is verily the Brahman that makes one see the world and this applies to all other sensory perceptions. This Brahman is the chaitanya that is present in each one of us that makes us enjoy all the sensory perceptions. The Atma Chaitanya or consciousness is the very proof for the existence of the Brahman. As long as this chaitanya is present in ourselves, we are able to dance, sing move around. The moment chaitanya leaves our body, we fall dead. The sense organs of the dead man might be intact but he is not able to use them anymore. It is the key inside every human and it is this that makes the sense organs do what they are supposed to be doing.
This Atma Chaintanya connotes to the Swaroopam of Lord Narayana, Pippalayanar says. When this is present everywhere [akandam] it is called as Paramatma. This Paramatma is responsible for the creation, sustenance and dissolution [Shrusti, Sthithi and Samharam]. The Chaitanya that is present in each one of the living beings is called as Jeeva Atma. This is verily responsible for the three states of consciousness – waking life, dream and deep sleep states of a living being [Jakrath, Swapna and Shishupti]. This is the very evidence for the Atma Chaitanya residing in every living being.
Pippalayanar says that this is Brahma Tattvam.
“Stithi udhbhava pralaya hethu ahethurasya yath swapna jaagara sushiptishu sad bahischa”|
“Dehendriyaasuhridayaani charanthi yena sanjeevithani thadhavahi param narendra”|| [Srimad Bhagavatam 11.3.35]
He also advocated the path to gain knowledge on this Brahman. The path prescribed by him is to develop bhakti and devotion to the holy feet of Lord Padmanabha.
“Yaeryabjhanabhajacharanaishanayoorubhaktyaa chaethomalani vidhamaeth gunakarmajaani”|
“Thasmin vishuddha Upalabyadha Aatmathatvam Sakshath yathamaladrushoho savithruprakashaha”|| [Srimad Bhagavatam 11.3.40]
The knowledge in scriptures and other Vedic knowledge will not help one gain knowledge on Brahma Vidya. After Pippalayanar completed the discourse on the characteristics of Lord Narayana’s swarropam, the next Yogi Avirhotrar started to expound on the Karma Kanda. The term “Avirhotra” translates to one performing Vedic ritual [homam]. Karma is either Karma, Akarma or Vikarma.
“Karmakarmavikarmaethi vedavaadho na loukikakha”|
“Vedasya cha Isvarathmathvaath thatra muhyanthi soorayaha”|| [Srimad Bhagavatam 11.3.43]
Karma is defined as the good actions or duties enlisted in the Vedas and Shastras that one needs to perform. Akarma connotes to the Sanyasa karma. It refers to the duties that one needs to perform when one embraces ascetic life. Vikarma is defined as the bad deeds that one should not do. When one does good karma, the Sanyasa Karma is bound to follow. When one performs the duties not desiring to reap the fruits of his actions and instead offers the results to the lotus feet of the Lord, then that action will not count as karma but will only refer to Akarma. The transition from karma to Akarma will happen on its own accord and there is no need of an external force to make this happen.
The next Yogi, Dhrumila starts his discourse by explaining the ways one needs to perform Karma by offering the results of it to the lotus feet of the Lord. For one’s karma to yield fruit, one needs to perform Bhakti [devotion] to Lord Narayana. So how does one get Bhakti? It is verily by reading the life-histories of great bhaktas and Bhagavatas. By being inspired by the divine exploits of the Lord bhakti be instilled in all the jivas. This is exactly what Dhrumila says in this sloka-
“Yova Ananthasya gunananathanaukramishyan sa thu balabuddhihi”|
“Rajamsi bomargunayaeth kathanchithu kaalaena aivakilashaktidhamnaha”|| [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.4.2]
In the above sloka, Dhrumila uses a beautiful word, Anantham [infinite]. He beautifully describes the Lord as infinite. There is an alias name to the Lord as Ananthan, which is infinite.
The Lord has –
Anantha Nama, Anantha Leela, Anantha Gunas, Anantha vaibhavam, Anantha Moorthis, Anantha Charitram and Anantha Bhaktas.The list is endless.
The characterstics of the Lord and his divine exploits are endless. Sage Suka who wrote Bhagavatam says, “Yatha dheetam yatha mathih”. He says to King Parikshit that he will discourse on the divine exploits of the Lord to the best of his knowledge. This goes to show two facts. Firstly, it shows Sage Suka’s humility. Secondly, it goes to show that Srimad Bhagavatam is infinite [anantham]. Even the Lord himself says in Bhagavad Gita, that he himself does not know about his greatness.
hanta te kathayishyami divya hy atmavibhutayah pradhanyatah kurusreshtha na ‘sty anto vistarasya me [BhagavadGita 10.19]
He says “Oh Arjuna, I myself do not know the full extent of my manifestations and I will expound on the ones that are prominent to the best of his knowledge, since my opulence is limitless”.
Vedas themselves say, –
“Yo Angavae yadi vaa na veda”
Vedas are also not sure if the Lord is knowledgeable of all his manifestations.
So the question then arises whether the Lord cares about people who have very limited knowledge about his opulences. He answers this in Bhagavad Gita,
In Bhagavat Gita, the Lord says, ‘svalpamapi yasya dharmasya traayate mahato bhayaat’ [bhagavad Gita 2.40] –
A very small dharma can allay the greatest of fears. Even a little knowledge on the dharma or scriptures will give a taste of that whole dharma or dharma. And what is that small dharma- Nama Sankirtan. By chanting the Divine Names of the Lord and listening to the Lords’ divine exploits will lead to purification of the heart, and consequently lets the Lord reside permanently in our hearts.
The next question that King Nimi asked the Nava Yogis was about the nature of Ajnani. The next Yogi, Chamasar discoursed on the Ajnani. The Ajnani hates Bhagavatas. It is said that in the age of Kali, people are reveling in the mundane world and their spiritual health is very poor. It is also said that in the age of Kali, people will mock at people who chant the divine names of the Lord. The Lord accepts the people who performed bhakti whole-heartedly. He does not see if his devotee is a Jnani and Ajnani and only goes behind his devotee for the bhakti performed by his devotee. He has accepted the Brahmanas like Sage Vyasa, sage Suka, Kuchela who performed bhakti. Kshatriyas like Ambarisha, Rukmangada also reached the holy feet of the Lord. Birds like Jatayu and Sugreeva being a monkey reached the holy feet by performing intense bhakti to Lord Rama. All Asuras who did bhakti to the Lord attained liberation, to name a few Vrithrasura, Vibishana, .Tiruppana Azhwar and Nandanar being born in a low caste reached the Lord. The devotees of the Lord are endless and the Lord sees no disparity between the devotees. He showers his grace on all his devotees unconditionally as long as they do bhakti to the Lord.
The satsang ended with prayers and Namasankirtan.