When the Lord wishes to shower His grace on a soul, He does not do so independently. He does not judge. In bureaucratic and legal systems, the superior goes by the recommendation of his subordinates. When we wish to apply for a higher education, in addition to all our qualifications, the university solicits recommendation/reference from a trustworthy source for candidature / admissions. Likewise the Lord takes recommendations / references from Mahatmas while showering grace on a soul. A soul is graced by the Lord only when it has the attestation of the Lord.
A lady attracts a man unto her by virtue of her gait, good looks, sweet words etc. Likewise, Mahatmas attract the Lord unto them by virtue of their Bhakti.
In Ambarisha Charitram in Srimad Bhagavatam the Lord says,
“vashIkurvanti mAm bhaktyA satstriyah satpatim yatAh”
‘I am attracted to the Mahatmas just like a true wife would attract her husband’, He says.
A coy wife usually takes cues from her husband while doing anything – for instance, if there is a guest in the house, the wife looks at how her man behaves with the guest, and based on his demeanor, she acts too. Likewise, the Lord first sees the Mahatmas to see how they recommend a ‘jeeva’!
In a crowd of a thousand people, if we were to look for a person with a specific feature / behavior, our sight would obviously fall on a bunch of people around him too. Likewise, amidst the million children of His, the Lord looks at the Mahatmas all the time, and hence standing in the shadow of a Mahatma will ensure that we also fall in line of His sight! The greatest thing in the world is to please the Lord, and even greater than that is to please a Mahatma and Mahatmas get pleased when we sing the Divine Names and Divine glories of the Lord.
The Vedas which are verily the Lord’s words, while declaring truths, state ‘iti brahmavaadino vadanti’ (thus speak the Mahatmas). Such is the respect of the Lord towards the Mahatmas. So the Mahatma’s words are golden and should be utmost respected and followed, be it an Upadesha, Mantra or even a simple mundane order. More divine than the Upadeshas are the Kirtans / Granthas (works) that they produce. Did not Vyasa, give out Srimad Bhagavatam – as verily the words of the Lord Almighty? Likewise, when Mahans sing a kirtan, it is the Lord’s expression, will and word, coming out through them. Any great scholarly composition with flowery words and precise grammar cannot stand anywhere in comparison with the outpour from a Mahan’s lips which beyond intellect and intelligence and are divine and filled with Bhava. Bhajans by Mirabai, songs by Bhadrachala Ramadasa, Tarangams by Sri Narayana Thirtha, Kritis by Purandaradasa – all of these were outpours in highly elevated, divine state.
Starting from this satsang, one Kirtan of Sri Swamiji is being rendered every week during the satsang. Narayananji from Boston continued with Uddhava Gita…
Srimad Bhagavatam is a huge ocean.
‘tirodAya pravishtoyam srimad bhAgavatArNavam’. If we look at Bhagaavatam as the different parts of the Virat Purusha, the 11th canto is the crown of the Lord, studded with precious gems – each advise being a gem, shining forth giving the nectar of Bhagavata Dharma in the 31 chapters of the 11th canto.
In the beginning, the Nava Yogis speak about the qualities of Bhagavata Dharma, the qualities of a Bhagavata, about Maya, about the Sadguru, about what to do and what not to do, about the qualities of a Pauranika and the relevant Dharma in each age. In Kali Yuga, the Lord is worshipped keeping Nama Kirtan as the primary mode of worship. Further, the Devas prostrate to the Lord, reminding Him that His Avatara Karya has come to a close. Then the Yadavas get a curse on them, and go to Prabhasa Kshetra (Somnath in Gujarat today where the Moon God, after having been cursed by Daksha Prajapati prayed to Shiva here, and got rid of the curse) to perform ablutions there in order to atone for their curse as ordained by Krishna.
At this juncture, Uddhava comes and pleads that the Lord should take him along, and the Lord persisted, ‘Oh Uddhava! The world should have either Me, or a Bhagavata , in order to sustain. ‘avaishnavo hato deshah’. I can not remain in this form forever, so embrace Sanyasa and remain in this world.’ When Uddhava seeks direction in embracing asceticism, Krishna starts Uddhava Gita, remembering Yadu Maharaj’s meeting with Avadhuta, who was resided in the Sahyamalaka Kshetra, the place where Cauvery is born (even today, the Padukas of Avadhuta is worshipped there), and seeking the secret behind his happiness. Avadhuta starts by saying that one’s intellect / viveka (discrimination) should be the teacher, followed by the 24 Gurus, 24 being the abstraction of the Infinite in various forms.
Avadhuta goes to speak of satsang – a crowd is a rattle, even three of us would make a banter, two would be a chatter. Your Atma is verily your Satsang, Adi Shankara says. Our Guru Maharaj would say, when one starts reading Bhagavatam, Narada, Pruthu, Gajendra, Ambareesha, Kunti, Dhruva, Bhishma, Prahlada, Uddhava, Gopis – they verily become our satsang. In one of His Kirtans, our Swamiji says, human beings are attuned to being in a company. What kind of a company do you need, He asks? Of a little playful prankster? Be in the company of the Gokula Bala! Of the wealthy? – our Shripathy is the wealthiest! Of the most powerful? Dwarakadeesha is the most powerful! Of the most handsome? Krishna’s beauty far more than a million cupids put together! Krishnawill become your company, whatever your taste may be!
Then Avadhuta speaks of the caterpillar / wasp, telling us that, by merely thinking of the Guru all the time, one gets elevated to that divine plane of the Guru. Thus the Avadhuta Gita starts with the grace of the Guru and ends with the grace of the Guru, coming a full circle. He then says that the human body is the 25th Guru –
The body is the greatest Guru because it is the cause for my determination (virakti) – it is the cause of all my troubles– it is the most un-cooperative and loathsome and hence fleeting, which because the cause of my dispassion. Its very nature is the cause of shedding its own self and getting beyond it!
We use our body to learn, study and acquire knowledge – to get a better job, to earn more, to have a family, to be in a bigger house, to live happily etc. – all for the sake of comforting the body! Just like a seed, which sprouts, grows into a plant, gives out leaves, grows into a tree, gives out branches, flowers, all – in order to produce fruits, which contains the seed, which transfer to another flower, pollinate and cause another plant! A Banyan tree grows huge and gives rise to multiple trees through its own branches, continuing its lineage. The body too, wishes to continue its lineage, does numerous ‘karmas’, owns the ‘vasanas’ (impressions) that the karmas give rise to and transform into ‘punyas’ and ‘papas’, which verily become the reason for acquiring another body!
Bhagavatam says that the human body shows us the dharma of a tree (vruksha dharma).
While what is supposed to be the intent of the human body?
In the beginning of the Universe, the Lord created the plants. Not being satisfied, , he created worms, lies, birds, snakes, rodents, fishes. Still unhappy, He created pigs, donkeys, horses, cows, and yet, unsatisfied, he created man. Now He felt happy, not because man is two-legged, not because of his two-eyes, or nostrils or two ears. He looked at the man’s intellect and said ‘this intellect and body is capable of coming close to realizing the supreme Truth and attaining Me’.
Truly the human body is supposed to take us to the state of birthlessness, but ends up being the cause for more births!
Another beautiful sloka speaks of a beautiful story:
Jihvaikatomumapakarshati karhi tarshA
sishnonyatasvag udaram sravanam kutaschi
grANonyataschapala drik kvacha karmashaktir
bhavyah sapatnya iva gehapatim lunanti || (11:9:27)
The same sloka is also found in Prahlada Stuti. In Bhagavatam certain slokas alone repeat, and this is one! Perhaps because, Sage Shuka likes it very much!
There was a man in a huge palatial house with 10 wives. During the day, he would go out for work and the ten wives would coexist peacefully. But come evening, each wife would pull him unto herself. One wife would drag him by his shirt, another would pull his trouser! Eventually, repenting for having married these ten wives, out of frustration, he would go outside the house and sleep in the verandah!
That is how our human body is! The tongue would crave for tasty food and pull our mind in that direction, the skin would too! The sense of smell would attract him to aromatic foods. The organs of sensual pleasure pull the human body in that direction, the hands make the body do some work or the other. The ten wives, the ten senses tear the body apart!
nahyetasmAat gururjnAnam susthiram syAt supushkalam |
brahmaitad advitIyam vai gIyate bahudarshibhih || (11;9:31)
‘Dear Yadu Maharaj, I have shared with you the greatest truth which is rare and sacred. But this truth cannot be shared by hearsay. Unless one has Guru Krupa, the truth shall not blossom in one’s heart and remain there forever.’ Thousands of stories, hundreds of hours of lectures, will still be rendered futile, if it is not brought into experience, and that experiential knowledge can come about only through Guru’s grace.
Lord Krishna wraps up Avadhuta Gita, advising Uddhava to treat everything in this world as futile, just like in a dream, one may see a huge palace, have a million things to eat and
all the luxury, but the moment he wakes up, he realizes that all of them are non-existent.
suptasya vishayA loko dhyAyato vA manoratah |
nAnAtmakadvAd viphalastathA bhedAtma dhIrguNaih || [11:10:3]
A devotee should lead his life in a straightforward manner, following basic rules and tenets, worshipping the Guru as verily Lord Krishna.
amAnyo amatsaro daksho nirmamo druda sauhradah
asatvaro artha jignAsur anasUyur amoghavAk [11:10: 6]
He should lead a life free from pride, jealousy, laziness and sense of ego and should have complete faith in me without being disturbed. He should only crave for the knowledge of the Lord and be free from envy of other devotees of the Lord. Over and above all, he should not be a chatterbox! His words should be limited to singing God’s Names.
He lets control of his family, life and household in the thought that the Lord takes care of them. He sheds all his mundane desires and performs devotion for the sake of mundane pleasures.
Further,Krishnaspeaks about what happens to a soul. When one strictly adheres to Dharma and follows the path of righteousness very sincerely without giving it a miss, he goes to the Indra Loka, where he will enjoy the pleasures of dance and song by beautiful maidens and singers, all commiserate with the ‘Punyas’ he has earned. After all his merits are exhausted, he falls back to this Earth.
Likewise, when one commits sins, and walks on the path of adharma, has all the evil practices – will enter the hells and suffer there. When his sins have exhausted, he falls back on this Earth and is born as some plant or animal.
Krishnatells Uddhava, ‘never perform a Dharma aspiring for worldly pleasures or punyas.’ When Dharma is performed as an offering to the Supreme Truth, Lord Krishna who is the controller of all, including Lord Brahma, one is freed from all the attachments, and any kind of duality.
Finally Krishna says, ‘as long as one thinks he is bound, he is bound, and when he realizes that he is the unbridled Atma, unbound from any kind of attachments, he is free!
At this point, Uddhava is confused. He asksKrishnato expound on who is bound and who is liberated!