From the story of King Bali, we see how the Lord takes responsibility once the devotee surrenders unto Him. The Lord lifting Govardhana hill also depicts the same truth.
In Ramayana as well, we see the path of Surrender (‘sharanagati’) shown in all the Kandas. In the Balakand, the Devas surrender unto the holy feet of the Lord. Bharata surrenders to Lord Rama in Ayodhya Kand. The Rishis surrender in the Aranya Kand crying out to the Lord that they are akin to unborn babies and that it is the duty of the Lord to save them. In Sundarakand, Kakasura surrenders unto the holy feet of the Lord and then the Lord retracted the Brahmastra. Over and above we see the supreme Sharanagati in Yuddha Kanda – Vibishana Sharanagathi. Can all normal mortals do such a Sharanagathi? It is close to impossibility since the basis of Sharanagathi is faith [maha-vishwasa].
But we have a beautiful episode right in the middle of Srimad Bhagavatam, the Ajamila Charithra which shows the path of Vachika Sharanagathi. It is not expected to even possess an iota of faith for one when starts on the path of Vachika Sharanagathi. What is verily expected is chanting the Divine Names at least once in a lifetime which is sure to bestow us with liberation.
After talking about the significance of chanting the Divine Names of the Lord, Sri Narayananji from Boston talked gave an overall introduction to Uddhava Gita.
Our Sanatana Dharma is akin to a banyan tree which has many roots and also gives rise to many roots from its branches. Banyan tree is unique because it can give rise to trees from its own branches. Our Sanatana Dharma has paved way for many other faiths from itself. Buddhism and Jainism sprung from Sanatana Dharma. For any faith, the final goal is the attainment of the Supreme Truth, and then there are intermediate destinations defined too. A devotee of Ganesha attains Ganesha’s world. An aspirant of heavens, performing the appropriate Sadhanas, attains the Swarga (Indraloka). A Shiva Bhakta may attain Kailasha. And then there is the destination – the state of deathlessness, and this is the ultimate purpose of life. Unfortunately, this destination is oft-forgotten. It is like a traveler who wishes to take a train, and goes to the station asking for a train ticket, not knowing where he would like to go! Don’t we need a direction? Don’t we need to know and understand the destination?
Not really! There is this little child, who is completely unaware of the destination and the path, but firmly holds the hand of her father and walks along with him into the station. The little one does not need to worry about anything at all, but as she is in the safe hands of her father, she enjoys the ride, and yet safely reaches the destination. That is how one feels, when He tightly clasps the Guru’s Feet and sails in this Samsara! This is the crux of Bhagavata Dharma that is mentioned in the eleventh canto of Srimad Bhagavatam.
Knowledge doesn’t come easy. The Lord makes us undergo trials and tribulations, before He lets the devotee taste the sweet nectar of Himself! Only after a seven-day rain did we get the Divine Name ‘Govinda’! Only after He disappeared from the Gopis and caused them grief, that He showed His beautiful form during RasaKrida! Only after the grief and misery of Vyasa did He come down as Srimad Bhagavatam! Likewise, the nectar of Uddhava Gita came after trials and tribulations too!
‘Govinda bhuja guptAyAm’ – Although Dwaraka was protected by Krishna’s own arms, it was subjected to a Brahmin’s curse! And after the grief caused by the curse, we get the nectar of Bhagavata Dharma! Sage Narada, after alleviating the concerns of Vasudeva, expounded the sermon of the Nava Yogis. He expounded on ‘karma’, ‘akarma’, ‘vikarma’, ‘maya’ and elaborating the different forms of worships in different yugas, he speaks about Karabhajana’s upadesha – on the path to adopt in Kali Yuga:
krishNavarNam tvishAkrIshNam sAngopAngAstrapArshadam |
yagnaih sankIrtanaprAyaih yajanti hi sumedasah || [SB 11.5.32]
The Lord is dark in complexion and yet shines with luster, along with His weapons and His devotees. And how should He be worshiped?
If there are thousands of people in a group, it is enough if we look at the smartest members of the group, we can get the idea about the group. Here Karabhajana says, ‘ sumedasah’ – the most intelligent people in this Yuga, keep Nama Sankirtana as the foremost (sankIrtanaprAyaih) when they do any offering to the Lord. In other words, Nama Sankirtana will be the primary form of worship in the Kali Yuga, declares Karabhaajana, and other forms of worship are only accessories to the Sankirtana Yagna!
Then the 11th Canto continues as a conversation between Krishna and Uddhava. Troubled by the news that the Lord was going to depart to Vaikunta, Uddhava says,
nAham tavAnghri kamalam kshaNArdhamapi keshava |
tyaktum samutsahenAtha svadhAma nayanamapi || [SB 11.6.43]
Uddhava says, “Oh Krishna! Please don’t separate me from You! I cannot imagine living away from Your Divine feet. Please take me along with you. How can be separated from you for even a split second, for I have been serving you when you were awake or asleep?”
Lord Krishna in reply to Uddhava’s request, asks him to embrace the path of Sanyasa. Upon hearing this, Uddhava had his own doubts whether he was indeed capable for Sanyasa. Arjuna wanted to flee the battlefield during Mahabharata and Krishna asked him to continue! And now, Uddhava wanted go go on, but Krishna asks him to embrace Sanyasa! Interesting, isn’t it! It is the same person who instructs, but on the other side, Arjuna then, Uddhava now! The Guru is the same, the disciples are different! Why this different Upadesha? Krishna is the Jagadguru (‘krishNam vande jagadguru’) and who knows better than Him? He knows better about Uddhava’s capacity than Uddhava himself!
When a Jeeva is born in this earth to accomplish a particular task, the Lord makes that Jeeva capable. He makes the Jeeva adept to succeed the task. Lord Krishna knows that Uddhava was as afraid and reluctant as Arjuna was. ‘Vedanta shravanam’ helps when one is crestfallen. Dridarashtra listened to Vidhura’s Vedanta when he was in distress. Chanting of Vedas or listening to any amount of Vedantic truths would not yield any fruit if the devotee does not have the grace and benediction of a Sadguru. So Lord Krishna started to give an introduction on the Guru, speaking about the 24-Gurus. Secondly Lord Krishna desired to deliver an Upadesha on Guru to Uddhava elaborating on the path of Sanyasa. Uddhava was still in a confused state and unable to find a guru, Lord Krishna did not directly disclose himself as the Guru. It is said that the Lord was very shy whereas in Bhagawad Gita it is said that the Lord disclosed that he was the birth-less Lord. He preaches Uddhava to consider his born intellect as his Guru.
“Atmano guru Atmaiva purushasya visheshah”|
“yat pratyaksha anumAnabhyam ksheyo sAvanuvandate”|| [SB 11.7.20]
Oh Uddhava! Treat everything that your eyes perceive as your guru all your experiences are indeed your Guru. However, there is one Guru beyond all this and it verily the Atma and the voice of the Atma is the Lord himself. Whatever one sees inside is usually perceived outside. When one recognizes the Atma has the guru, one will see everything as Guru outside. Everything is Guru Maya and will see Guru Tattva in it.
Lord Krishna then embarked on the Avadoota Gita, where Avadoota expounded his twenty-four Gurus. Twenty four is a very powerful number. It signifies various different things. Gayatri Mantra has twenty-four syllables. The essence of Gayatri Mantra is nothing but the ‘Pranava’ which is nothing but the Infinite Lord himself. The Infinite Lord is abstracted as the 24-syllabled Gayatri Mantra.
Valmiki calls Ramayana as an ocean of infinite dimensions (‘shatakoti pravistiram’), however, it is contained within twenty-four thousand slokas. The Infinite is contained in 24 thousand!
In Bhagavatam, the Lord is said to take 24 Avatars. Our Guru Maharaj gives a beautiful mathematical explanation as to why the Lord incarnated twenty-four times. It is said that the Lord has four arms and has one four objects in each of his arms. He wanted to exchange the objects in his four arms in each of his incarnation. So there are four factorial combinations which lead us to have twenty-four incarnations!
The Lord takes twenty-four avatars and even while describing these avatars, it is said that although twenty-four avatars of the Lord has been described, the Lord is not confined to these avatars. The Lord is infinite. “Avatarah hi asankeya” – The Infinite Lord takes 24 Avataras! Likewise
Sankya yoga speaks of twenty-four concepts. (the term Sankhya connotes numbers.) The 5 bhootas (air, water, fire, sky, earth), the five tanmatras (sense of touch, Sense of hearing, Sense of sight, sense of taste and sense of smell), the five sense organs of the intellect (Jnanendriyas) (Eyes, Nose, Ear, Tongue and Skin), the five Karmendriyas – sense organs of action and the mind, and the basic initial concepts of Avyaktam, Mahat, Ahankaram and Manas make it twenty-four objects.
The Lord who was infinite when he was unclear [Avyaktam] took the first form of ‘mahat’ and then he took the form of ‘Ahankraram’ in state of Taamas. In Taamas he created the five boothas, five tanmatras, the five Jnanendriyas and five Karmendriyas. Thus the infinite Lord created and became the twenty four entities!
Here, the Guru is Infinite. Still He is perceived as twenty four different precepts – and this is described by none other than Krishna!
Here Lord Krishna started off with Guru Tattva and ended His discourse finally showing Uddhava his Guru. In normal lives, people surrender unto a Guru and after a while realize the fact that the events happening in their lives is verily due to the grace of their Guru. They realize this fact, the Guru Tattva even though they are miles apart. We start with the physical experience of the Guru and end in Guru Tattva. It is however reverse in the case of Uddhava. Lord Krishna embarked in his discourse to Uddhava with Guru Tattva and ended the lecture by revealing to Uddhava that the Lord was indeed his Guru. He blessed Uddhava with his holy padukas at the end of eleventh canto.
Avadootar embarked on his discourse en-listing his twenty-four gurus.
Pritvi vAyurAkAsho ApognischandramA ravih |
kapotojagarah sindhuh patango madukrut gajah |
madhuhA hariNo mInah pingaLA kurarorbakah |
kumAri sharakrut sarpah oorNanAbhih supeshakrut || [SB 11.7.33-11.7.35]
The five boothas [Prithvi, Vayu, Aakashaha, Aapaha, Agni] are first mentioned by Avadootar. The Lord says, although we are speaking about Gurus, the five boothas which evolved as the first few things in this universe from the Lord Himself are the first Gurus. The Lord when evolved as the first five boothas, also evolved as five gurus! So the Guru’s form is no different from the Lord’s form!
“hariyum guruvum Veru Endru urapippadhu ariyAdavar pecchu” sings our Guru Maharaj.
In the Avadoota Gita, it beautifully extols the greatness of Sanyasa dharma and Grahastha Dharma in parallel since it is not restrictive to Uddhava alone but applies to all the normal mortals like us. The 240Guru episode shows how one should lead a life as normal mortals in family life. It speaks about how the five indriyas (sense organs) are Gurus. on the five indriyas [five senses]. The deer is a guru – which, unable to control the sense of hearing is trapped by a hunter. The elephant is another Guru, showing us how not to let our sense of touch uncontrolled. Of all the five senses, Avadhoota says, that it is acceptable to not have control over hearing, touch, eye-sight and sense of smell but it is very important to have the control of palate. Control of the tongue is the most important to practice and Lord Krishna advices Uddhava to gain control over the sense of taste since by having control over the taste, one will gain command over other senses as well.
“Thavathjithaendriyo nas yath vijithanyaendriyaha puman”
“na jayeth rasanam yavajitham sarvam jithae rasae”|| [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.8.21]
Pingala – the courtesan teaches another lesson – Desires are the root-cause for all evil. Turn that very desire to the holy feet of the Lord and that is the elixir for all problems and takes us to Him.
“ AshA hi paramam dhukkam nairAshyam paramam sukham”
“yathA samchithya kAnthashAm sukham shushvApa pingalA” [SB 11.8.44]
There was an ascetic who had two saffron clothes which he would alternate washing and wearing every day. He decided to get a few more clothes and put the spare clothes into a bag which he carried along. In due course, mice started eating up the saffron clothes and he was shocked to notice torn clothes in his bag! He didn’t have any more spare clothes fit to be worn thanks to the mice. To keep the cats away, he brought in a cat. The cat was not strong enough to run and catch the mice, so he had to feed it to make it fat and strong. So he bought a big cow so that he can feed its milk to the cat. Slowly as days passed by, the cow started thinning down since it did not get good food. Seeing the plight of his cow, he decided to create a farm so that he can feed the fodder to the cow. He then started a farm and things were going smoothly for some time. After some time other animals started to stray in this farm and so he put a fence around his farm. The cow regained his weight and in due course of time gave birth to calves. Now he had cow-shed of cows. Being a single man he was unable to take care of all the animals. So he decided to get married in order to take of all his animals and his life thus got completely changed. All this started with a desire to have more clothes. That small desire spoiled everything! Such is the power of desire!
A spider builds a web from its own saliva and dwells in that web. It does not build the web from any outside material. It lives in that small web to entice small insects and catch them. When it is bored with its web, it swallows the whole web. Akin to the spider is the Lord who created the Universe from His own Self. He created the universe by himself both from the knowledge and material perspective. Similar to how the spider catches small insects; out of compassion, the Lord attracts people unto Him. When he is bored of his creation, he simply destroys it. The spider’s appearance is never changed when it created the web and at the time it swallowed the web. It never became thin or fat. Akin to this, the Lord also does not undergo any change when he created and destroyed the universe.
“KIta peshaskrutham dhyAyan kudyAm thena praveshitah |
yAthi thathsAthmatham rAjan poorva rUpmam asanthyajan”|| [SB 11.9.23]
Avadootar ended his discourse on the twenty-four Gurus with the wasp! Once the caterpillar was caught by a wasp and it brought it to its nest. Then the wasp goes out to get hold of another insect. In the meanwhile, the caterpillar in the nest is contemplating on the wasp. The insect is very scared of the wasp and is of the opinion that it is going to be killed by the wasp and this thought is haunting the insect. Since the caterpillar is constantly thinking about the wasp, it got wings, became a wasp and finally flew away. When we are in constant thought of something, we are eventually transformed to that something! This is called ‘bramara keeta Nyaya’ in Vedanta.
When one meditates on the Guru, he will attain the ‘Saalokya’ [same loka]. That is he attains to that world/loka, here. Secondly the Guru comes closer to his devotee. He comes closer to his devotee’s heart and also in physical proximity. This state is called as “Sameepya” [proximity]. This is then followed by Saroopya. The devotee then attains the same form of his Guru where in the case of the worship of a Guru, his gait, talk and everything else becomes just like that of the Guru – ‘Saaroopya’ [same form]. And finally he becomes one with ‘It’ and that is ‘Saayujya. The devotee finally becomes the Guru akin to how a caterpillar became a wasp!
At the beginning of the discourse, Avadootar started by disclosing the beautiful precept to Uddhava, “See your Guru in your Atma and you will see Guru everywhere in this world”. There is no sorrow when one attains the state of ‘Saayuja’!