The main reason for the divine mother to always reside with the Lord is because she can always show compassion to everyone. The Lord, akin to a father, is always stringent with his rules. He is always bound by the rules. He is a lover of truth and dharma and strictly adheres to follow them. Since the normal mortals like us fail to abide by dharma at times he ends up punishing us. But the divine mother always looks at everyone with her compassionate eyes. Our Guru Maharaj says – “aparAdham ariyAdha adisaya kangalo”. Her eyes are so strange and it is very surprising that she does not look at one’s mistakes. She cannot see any blemish is anyone. – “AparAdham ninaikAdha vichitra manamo”.
“Satyashisho hi bhagawamsthava paadapadmaashisthathanubhajathaha purusharthamoorthae”|
“apyaevamarya bhagawan paripathi dhinan vashaeva vathsakamanugrahakaatharosman”|| [Srimad Bhagavatham 4.9.17]
When one goes and prostrates unto the holy feet of the Lord, the divine mother requests the Lord to not look at their sins. She graces everyone out of sheer compassion and it is verily because of the divine grace of the mother that we enjoy the satsangs. It is said in Ramayana that when the Lord was away from the Mother, there was a problem. In Vibishana Sharanagathi, when Vibishana surrendered to the Lord, Lord Rama was in a dilemma whether to accept Vibhisana or not. This state of quandary could have been avoided if Mother Sita Devi had been with Lord Rama. Let’s take another incident from Ramayana. There was a place called Janasthana enroute to the forest. In the forest, the Rishis requested Lord Rama and Sita to protect them from the demons since they slew the Sages and their tapas and sacrificial fires in Janasthana. They go to Janasthana and see a big hill full of bones of Rishis. Lord Rama became very agitated seeing this gory sight. He was getting ready to kill the demons. At this juncture, Mother Sita Devi asked Lord Rama, “Oh Lord Rama, it is not a big thing to slain the demons. It is their very nature to create trouble and so why should you go and harm them.” Such is the compassionate nature of the mother. She was put through a lot of torture by Ravana in Ashokavana. In Sundarkhand, we see that when Ravana came to meet Sita Devi, she smiled at him and said, “Oh Ravana! This is your last chance. Please surrender unto Lord Rama. You can always change.” Such is her compassion to even the one who had immoral love towards her.
Following a short round of introductions, Prakashji from Boston lectured on Koorma Avatar from Srimad Bhagavatham. Our Guru Maharaj in one of his kirtan, beautifully sings –
“srimad bhAgavatham swayam harireva”
“jnAna vairAgya bhakti dAyakam”
“prastAna chaturtham brahma vidhyA poshakam”
Srimad Bhagvatham is the fourth ‘Prasthana’, the Upanishads, Brahma Sutra and Bhagavat Gita being the first three. The ‘Samanya Dharma’ (standard rules / path) that is taught in Srimad Ramayana is how one should lead a life. In Mahabharatha, we see how one should adhere to the path of Dharma and how a king should rule a kingdom. But in a very subtle way, Sage Valmiki extols the greatness of chanting the Divine Names of Lord Rama in Ramayana. When something is very hard to decipher, it is only by the grace of the guru, we unravel the secrets. Akin to Ramayana, in Mahabharatha, we see that the greatness of bhakti is extolled in many places. If we take the case of Srimad Bhagavatham, it appears to be a predominantly spiritually and bhakti oriented Text. It also preaches the path of Bhagavatha Dharma and teaches the precepts of Bhagavatha Dharma. Only when we understand Srimad Bhagavatham, can we then apply its precepts in our day to day lives.
The eighth canto in Srimad Bhagavatham starts off with the Manvantaras. Gajendra Moksham is the first charithra in the eighth canto where the elephant king Gajendra gets liberation. Gajendra’s foot was caught in the clutches of a crocodile and he performs penance for thousands of years and finally the Lord liberated Gajendra and bestowed him with Moksha. This signifies how much effort is needed to get the grace of the Lord. As the canto progresses, the Lord’s grace is extolled in the episode of Amrutha Mathana, the churning of ocean of milk. The next charithra in the eight canto is about the avatar of Vamana. Then came the Matsyaavatara which conveys the precept of taking refugee unto the Lord who is no different from the Guru and the greatness of guru’s grace.
Let us take a look at Koorma Avathara in detail. The Lord took the guise of a tortoise [koorma] to help the Asuras to imbibe the nectar of immortality. He used the golden Mandara Mountain as the rod and Vasuki, the king of serpents as the rope. He had the Devas and Asuras churn the ocean of milk during which the nectar was being produced. During the process of ocean churning, lots of treasures came out. This is the outline of Koorma Avatar.
Our Guru Maharaj expounds the upakhyana of ‘Amrutha Mathanam’ (churning the ocean of nectar) in three different levels – one, as a simple story, that can be retold to kids; the second, in the dimension of the Raja Yoga Marga, and third, as a excellent education in management and administration, providing insights and precepts in day to day management of one’s activities at home or work!
Why does He descend? It is because He loves to sport! And the descent of the divine tortoise was a play too, and for this play, a stage had to be set, a theme had to be drawn. And He plans these with extreme precision and élan! More often than not, the foundation for the stage is a misdeed by a demonic entity or the incurrence of the displeasure of the devotee. To put it in simple terms, when one exercises his discretion of discourteousness to a Bhagavata, the equilibrium is upset, and He comes down to set right the balance and drive home the point – bow to the Bhagvata! A strong theme indeed!
Take the story of Jaya-Vijaya – the siblings that blocked the Sanatkumaras from entering the Vaikunta; child-like in their looks and short in stature, the Sanatkumaras were mistaken for banal visitors by Jaya-Vijaya and cast a curse on the brothers. The Sanatkumaras were doomed to be born on the Earth 3 times and undergo trials and tribulations before they could be taken back by the Lord. Accordingly, Krita Yuga saw Hiranyaksha-Hiranyakashipu, Treta Yuga saw them as Ravana-Kumbakarna and in their last birth, were born as Dantavaktra and Sishupala, and had the Lord come down as Varaha, Narasimha, Rama and Krishna to take them back!
Another example is that of King Parikshit, who, having lost control of his sanity for a split second garlanded Sage Sameeka with a snake. The sage’s son Shringi came to know about the disrespect to his father and cast a curse on King Parikshit that a poisonous snake, Thakshaka would sting him on the 7th days. With that disrespect was born the beautiful avatar of the Lord, as Bhagavata Purana!
Now for the plot! Once Indra, the king of the devas was taking a stroll in the garden where Sage Dhurvasa was doing his prayers. On seeing Indra, Dhurvasa garlanded Indra. Drunk in his material opulence, Indra took off Durvasa’s garland from his neck and put it on an elephant. An enraged Durvasa cast a curse on Indra – that he will lose all his material wealth as a reward for his act of disrespect. Disrespect to the Bhagavata is bad, disrespect to Bhagavata Prasad is worse! And Indra realized it instantly. His entire clan felt weak and demoralized, giving way to the demonic forces, the Asuras to take control. The equilibrium was disturbed enough for the Lord to descend and fix!
Very succinctly, in just two Slokas, Sage Shuka narrated this to Parikshit, giving him a sneak preview the taste of the story to unfold. Parikshit couldn’t wait longer; he implored Sage Shuka to elaborate on the Lord’s descent.
Yatha Bhagavathaa Brahman mathihi kshirasaagaraha |
yadartham va yathschardim dhadharambucharathmana||
“Yatha mrutham suraihi praptam kinchanyadabhavath thathaha”|
“Yaethadah bhagavathaha karma vadasva paramathbhutham”|| [Srimad Bhagavatham 8.5.11-12]
Sage Shuka continued exuberantly….
The battle between the Devas and Asuras continued, and the Devas pondered on a way for breakthrough, and surely enough, they resorted to their helpline – Lord Brahma who was residing in Meru Mountain. Having evaluated their plight, and sensing that the righteousness had touched the abyss, Brahma meditated on the Lord.
The wheel of Samsara – the continuous cycle of transmigration, has fifteen spokes – the 5 Karmendriyas, 5 Jnanendriyas and the five elements of the body. The five elements of nature, ego, mind and intellect – totaling 8, are the entities that are on the rim of the wheel. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas determine the rotation. The Lord, who resides in the center of the wheel can be attained only when one who rotates incessantly on this wheel directs his mind on the center with Bhakti.
Meditating thus on the Lord who is the epicenter of the wheel, Brahma beseeched the Lord to fructify the prayers of the Devas. As an answer to the prayers, the Lord appeared and gave a few valuable pieces of advice to the Devas.
‘Sign a truce with the Asuras and secure their help in churning the ocean for nectar’, He instructed the Devas, and offer them a share of the nectar that can bestow immortality. That very nectar was bound to bestow vitality and strength to the Devas. ‘Don’t fall for the riches that you may be provided as you churn the ocean; instead offer them in charity’, the Lord said, asking them to concede to mundane requests from the Asuras. This piece of advice gave them new strength and energy to fight on, and they decided to follow the Lord’s advice verbatim. The churning rod was the Mandara mountain and it had to be placed in position. As it was too heavy for the Devas and Asuras, they beseeched the Lord for help. The Lord came down on Garuda and helped them lift the mountain and station it in the ocean.
The satsang concluded with prayers and Namasankirtan.