The 17th of November is a very auspicious day indeed. It is “Uttana Ekadasi” and the 18th of November is Uttana Dvadasi. Generally one day of the Devas is one year of the humans. Uttarayana is the daytime for the Devas and Dakshinayana is the night time for the Devas and the Lord. It is said that the Lord goes to sleep during the day of Shayana Ekadasi [on the Utarayana Punyakala] and wakes up on the day of Uttana Ekadasi. The Margarisa [margazhi in tamil] is the Brahma Muhurtha for the Lord. It is a very auspicious month to do any spiritual austerity. Following this is Thai month which is the sunrise for the Devas. We celebrate Makara Sankranti as it is on this day that Sun changes its direction and moves northwards. It is on the day of Uttana Dwadasi that Tulasi kalyanam, [the divine marriage between the Lord and Tulasi Devi] takes place.
Bhagavata Dharma was the Lord’s favorite dharma and He disclosed the dharma to everybody by Himself, whereas, He requested all Rishis and great sages to propagate other dharmas. “Bhagavata Proktam iti Bhagavatam”. He earnestly requested all great mahans to spread the word of Bhagavata Dharma to the entire world. Bhagavatam mentions the twelve great people who knew the significance of Bhagavata Dharma.
Brahma, Narada, Shiva, Sanatkumaras, Kapila, Manu, Prahlada, Janaka, Bheeshma, Bali, Sage Suka and Yama.
Srimad Bhagavatam describes Rishaba Yogishawara was a shining example of a Jeevan Mukta. He was so compassionate and was very loving to everyone. He had many supernatural powers but did not make any use of them. Out of his sheer compassion he calls all his ninty-nine sons and gave them a valuable piece of advice. He gave an upadesha of Bhagavatha Dharma. First and foremost advice he advised them is to be in an association of Sadhus. He then taught the beautiful precept to keep doing one’s karma until the karma finally leaves them. The first indication that one will experience when one’s karma is going to be completed is verily the inclination to listen to the divine stories of the Lord. One’s thought should always be focused on to the Lord. A guru who does not show the lord is indeed not a guru. “Janani na sasyath janako na sasyaat gurur na sasyaat”
We also see that in Jadabharata’s life history where he (the son of Rishabha) renounces everything. In his third birth he was born as Jadabharatha and imparted Bhagavata Dharma to Rahugana.
All these illustrious Mahatmas, being Jnanis of the highest order, have shown the path of Bhagavatha Dharma which is verily chanting the Divine Names of the Lord and listening to His Divine stories.
The Lord Sri Hari is incomprehensible by the senses. He can for sure attained only by grace. The Lord has taken innumerable incarnations and out of all the incarnations, there is one incarnation that can be found everywhere. It is verily Srimad Bhagavatham. It is grace incarnate. But people do not understand the importance and greatness of Srimad Bhagavatham. It is verily the Lord in the form of a book. It is said that every line in Srimad Bhagavatham is Lord Krishna himself and every line translates to Radha Rani who is the epitome of Prema Bhakti. Just like how a word cannot be separated from its meaning, the Lord and Bhakti cannot be separated. If one follows the path of Bhakti, then one can attain the Lord. We know that Srimad Bhagavatham contains twelve chapters and eighteen thousand slokas. The first nine cantos merely act as a detergent to cleanse our mind to read the divine birth and glories of the Lord in the tenth canto. The tenth canto depicts the Ashraya quality which is verily the Lord himself.
“Dasamasya vishudyatham navanam iha lakshanam”
All the nine cantos cleanse one’s mind so that the Lord himself can come and reside in our hearts. Akin to how we dust the place before we take seat, the Lord resides in souls whose heart is clean.
The nine cantos extol the glories of the devotees of the Lord and by reminiscing the glories of the devotees of the Lord will instill bhakti in all. By reading the nine cantos, the negative qualities are absolved and the vacant spots created by the removal of these negative qualities are filled with bhakti.
“Yad bhAgavata mAhAtmyam bhagavat bhakti vardhanam” Only if our heart is filled with bhakti we can relish and enjoy the glories of the Lord and his divine pranks and plays. Now one may ask as to how the first nine cantos prepare one to read the glories of the Lord in the tenth canto. It is indeed very beautiful to see how. The first canto talks about Sage Narada who is the quintessence of Bhakti. One of the easiest ways to attain the holy of the Lord is to chant his divine names. Sage Narada’s life-history lucidly advices one not to do any other yoga but to be in the divine communion of a great Mahatma. Be a recipient of a Sadhu’s grace and constantly chant the Divine Names of the Lord and this is the crux of Sage Narada’s charithra. The fourth canto talks about little Dhruva. The determination that one should possess to reach the Lord is described in detail. A strong urge to attain the Lord will lead us to a guru is sung in Dhruva’s charithra. Srimad Bhagavatham then goes to say how one should meditate on the form of the Lord. It is described in Rudra Geetha. Lord Rudra himself describes that beautiful form that one should meditate upon.
Swayambu Manu was the first king to rule the entire world.
Swayambu Manu had three daughters, Ahuthi, Prasuthi and Devahooti and two sons, Priyavrathan and Uttanapadan.The doings of Swayambu Manu’s son Uttanapada and his successors upto the Pracinabarhis are expounded in the fourth canto of Srimad Bhagavatham. In the fifth canto, The life-history of Priyvaratha, another son of Manu and his successors are described in detail in the fifth canto of Srimad Bhagavatham.
King Parikshit says
” Priyavratho Bhagavatha Aathmaramaha katham munae |
Gruhaetha ramatha yaanmoolaha karmabandhaha paarabhavaha ||”
Oh! Revered sage, Suka, Priyavratha was a great devotee who is ever reveling in the the atman. Why did he then take the life of a house-holder which causes the bondage of Karma.
Mahatham kalu viparshae uthamaslokapaadayoho |
Chhayanivirtha chithanam na kudumbae spruhamathihi ||
King PArikshit also added that those who experience the bliss of divinity, the desire for a family can never arise. He also questioned Sage Sukha as to how people like Priyavratha who is so devoted to Lord Krishna can ever feel attached to home.
In reply to King Parikshit’s questions, Sage Suka started to reply,
“Baadamuktam bhagavatha uthamslokaysa shimacharanaravindhamuktha makarandhasya aavaeshitachaethaso bhagavatha paramahamsa dayitha katam kinchisdantharaya vihitam svam sivathamam padavim na prayena hinvanthi |”
He says, O King! What you have said is correct in one way! But it can happen that a devotee though his mind is deeply immersed in the imbibing the nectar of Lord’s lotus feet is for a short time obstructed in his devotional life by his own prarabdha.
So Sage Shuka embarked on the discourse of history of Priyavrata. Having instructed by Sage Narada, Priyavrata attained the knowledge of the atman and had resorted to worship the lord by completely concentration of his mind on the lord. Priyavrata also possessed all the qualities required for kingship and administration and so he was called by his father to take the throne. A father’s order was never to be disobeyed. But yet, Priyavrata who was completely dedicated to the Lord did not accept his father’s orders since he was concerned that it might digress him from his spiritual path.
Priyavrata was in a confused state and just then, Lord Brahma appeared in front of Sage NArada, Priyvarata and his father Swayambu Manu.
They all at once stood up and prostrated to Lord Brahma and other devas and then Brahma said, “Oh Privavrata, no one can transgress the supreme and immeasurable being. We all carry out the will of the supreme being. He urged him to take the throne since he had already won over the six-fold enemy and that after completing his duties he can very well abandon everything and then focus on the all pervading Lord Sri Krishna.
After Brahma’s advice, the great devotee Priyavrata considered that it was the commandment of the Supreme Master agreed to take the throne. So by Brahma’s advice, Swayambu Manu’s desires were fulfilled. So with Sage Narada’s help he enthroned his son Priyavratha to rule the whole earth and then Manu retired from his worldly life. Priyavrata was free from all the worldly desires even when he ruled the whole earth and it was only to honor the command of a great Personage Lord Brahma that he took control of the government and not for any personal ambition for power or position. He then married Barishmati, the daughter of Prajapati. They were blessed with ten sons who were very well mannered. Priyavratha and Barishmati were also blessed with a daugheter Urjaswati,. She was the youngest child. The ten sons had their names synonyms of Agni in all their names which are as follows: Agnidhra, Idhmajihva, Yajnabahu, Mahavira, Hiranyaretas, Gritaprishta, Savana, Medhadithi, Vitihotra and Kavi. Of these ten sons, Kavi, Mahavira and Savana were inclined in the path of spirituality and established their lives in supreme peace. While some of his sons resorted to the path of spitrituality, Priyavrata ruled the earth for about 1.1 billion years [11 crore years]. During that period, he destroyed Adharma by mere bow and arrow. He however, simultaneously wore the appearance of am ordinary man and enjoyed the delights of his wife Barishmati.
One day he observed that the glorious sun lights the earth’s surface in the course of its circuit round theMountSumeru. The sun shines only on one-half of the globe and leaves the other half in dark. He was however not happy with this. In order to overcome this and make the night equally bright as the daytime, he circumambulated aroundMountMeruin his chariot. He could merely achieve this by his supernatural powers which he derived by intense worship to the Lord. The tracks that were sunk by the fellies of the wheels of his chariot came to be known as the seven oceans of the world. These seven oceans divided the earth into seven dwipas [mainaland].
In size, each outer one is double the size of one inner to it. They encircle the oceans yjat divide them.The seven oceans contain salt water, the juice of sugar-cane, wine, clarified butter, milk, fluid curds, and pure water and they serve as a moat [channel] for the dweepas. Priyavratha throned one of his sons in every dweepas. He gave his daughter Urjaswati in marriage to maharishi Sukra and they were blessed with a daughter called Devayani.
Priyavratha once felt that he had been deprived of the divine communion with the Lord which he had when he was undergoing the spiritual austerities under the great divine sage Narada. And he gave away the kingdom to all his sons and resorted to the path of constant remembrance of the Lord.
Priyavratha’s son was Agnidhra, a very pious and noble ruler. His son was Nabhi a great and devout ruler to whom Mahavishnu incarnated himself as his son. The son so born was called Rishaba one of the greatest among the rajarshis. The object of his incarnation was to set an example of an ideal house-holder and that of a Paramahamsa. He had several sons, of whom nine became the Nava Yogis, about whom is expounded in detail in the 11th canto of Srimad Bhagavatham. The most famous Rishaba’s son was Bharata who succeeded Rishaba to the throne. His impact on the country was so great that it came to be called as Bharathavarsha Apart from being a great ruler, he was a devout and a great devotee of the Lord. Once an attachment to a fawn brought on him a rebirth as a deer and afterwards again as a man with full enlightenment and was known as Jadabharatha.
Bhagavatham also talks about dispassion. Jadabahratha and Rishaba Yogishawara’s life histories lucidly talks about dispassion. One should start to inculcate dispassion with immense bhakti for the Lord. Dispassion is leaving everything to the wish and will of the Lord. This is shown in seventh canto in Prahlada charithra. Prahlada advised his friends to inculcate dispassion. Love for the Lord does not manifest as love for fellowmen. Seeing everything as the form of the Lord is the crux of Prahlada Charithram.