Jan 14: Purushartas in Bhagavatam – 1 : Dharma

14 Jan

Sri Aravindji from Orlando delivered a lecture series on the four Purusharthas with relevance to Srimad Bhagavatham. Let’s first understand what the term ‘Purushartha’ connotes. The word ‘Purusha’ means human and ‘Artha’ means meaning. Purushartha thus refers to “Purpose of Life”. The four Purushsharthas are Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.

Our Guru Maharaj in one of his Kirtans sings –

“arthamum kAmamum niraindadhu Prapanjamam”
verondrum kAnavillai Undi Para
vedanai vedanai undi para”

Our Guru Maharaj says that he only sees wealth and desire being given more weightage by people living in the age of Kali and that he doesn’t perceive anything beyond wealth and desire. And saying this, he commiserates these mundane people.

But friends, who are part of satsang, do not worry. Let’s see what Srimad Bhagavatham preaches us on the four Purusharthas.  Srimad Bhagavatham is a unique grantha since it is filled with both worldly and spiritual advice. It gives advice akin to a friend and one can never get overwhelmed by the proposition. One immediately takes the advice unto their heart – Shusrushibih Thakshanaat. A child can learn lot of good values by listening to life-histories of Prahalad and Dhruva to name a few. A learned person enjoys the doctrines of Uddava Gita. It is a grantha that is applicable to people of all Dharmas.

Suta Pouranika, started to expound about Dharma in front of all Maharishis.

Dharma projita kaitavo atra paramo nirmatsaranam satam
vedyam vastavam atra vastuhu shivatam tapatrayahunmoolanam

All the three types of miseries are obliterated by comprehending the term “Dharma”.

Dharma is very subtle. The inherent nature of a flower is to spread fragrance. The very nature of the sun is to give sunshine. The three fears are dispelled by comprehending dharma. Let’s look at the three kinds of fears – Aadideivika are the ones that are caused by the mind, while Aaadiboutika are the fears caused by extraneous elements like animals or nature and Aadhyathmika is inflicted by super-natural powers like the Gods and Devas.

Our Guru Maharaj absolves the fear of Samsara by feeding the nectar of Srimad Bhagavatham. By assimilating the essence of Srimad Bhagavatham, one can decipher the term Dharma. By following the precepts of dharma, all the fears are obliterated. Let’s take a practical example to substantiate this. A person enters a dark room and he perceives a big snake. He immediately switches the light and sees that it is not a snake but a big rope instead. The illusion is thus wiped out when he switches the light.

 dharmasya hyApavargasya nArthOthAyOpakalpatE |
nArthasya dharmaikAnthasya kAmO lAbhAya hi smruta: || [Srimad Bhagavatham1.2.9]

 kAmasya nEndriyaprItirlAbhO jIvEta yAvatA |
jIvasya tatvajignyAsA nArthO yashvEha karmabhi:  || [1.2.10]

The moment Srimad Bhagavatham inculcates the purpose of life, the three fears are absolved. How is this possible? By comprehending and following the Supreme dharma [paramo dharmaha], one can shed away the three fears. So what is this Supreme Dharma?

In order to understand the Supreme Dharma, let us first understand Sva dharma, which is verily our inherent nature. The Lord in Srimad Bhagavatham tells Arjuna –

sarva-dharman parityajya  maam ekam saranam vrajaa
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami maa sucah [Srimad Bhagavad Gita 18.66]

Oh! Arjuna, I will emancipate you from all the sins and bestow you Moksha if you give up all the dharma and surrender unto me.

In the above verse, the call to give up Dharma cannot be called as a message of inactivity. The Lord will never preach his devotees to not perform their duties. The Lord in the above verse says one not to renounce the act but to renounce the attitude. The beauty of Srimad Bhagavatham is that it shows us a path where we do not renounce anything by force but it makes people renounce on their own. If one goes to a mango tree and tries to pluck a mango that had not ripened, it starts to bleed from the stem. The Lord in our case has shown us a ripe mango and it falls off the moment one goes near to pluck it. The inherent nature [Svadharma] will be dispelled when one adheres to the path shown by Srimad Bhagavatham. One can relate this easily through the life-history of Sage Narada. Sage Narada was born as a son of a maid-servant. His mother earned her living by doing house-hold chores. One day a group of saints camped in the same village where Narada and his mother lived. Seeing the saints, his mother asked Narada to go along with them and also asked him to consume the left-over food from the plates of the saints. This little boy who was about five years old implicitly obeyed his mother’s orders. By doing service to the saints and by being in their divine company, the inherent nature of a five year old boy to play with his friends and his toys slowly started to recede away akin to how a ripe mango falls off on its own.

Lord Krishna in his expositions preaches one not to renounce their acts and duties and that by being in a satsang, they will dwindle on their own. From the numerous life-histories of the devotees of Lord Panduranga, we learn that one of them was a cobbler, a barber and one great devotee of the Lord, Vittobha whose profession was tailoring. Just by adhering to the path of Bhagavatha Dharma, our Sva dharma will inherently fall away. This is lucidly depicted from their life-histories. Lord Prahalada was incessantly chanting the Divine Names of the Lord Narayana. He was sent to the Gurukula and his preceptors were Chanda and Amarka who were Asuras themselves.  They taught him all the worthy topics and he studied everything and excelled in whatever he did since he was constantly catching the Divine Names of the Lord.

One should continue to perform his daily chores and when chant the Divine Names of the time upon the completion of his chores. By following this, the inherent nature [sva dharma] will soon depart from us leaving the path to paramo Dharma, the supreme dharma.

Srimad Bhagavatham expounds the great precept of humility.

Daksha was one of the prajapatis of Lord Brahma. The first and supreme position was held by Lord Narayana himself. The next in hierarchy was Lord Brahma. The third position was being held by Daksha. Hence he was in a very commendable position. We have seen that the higher one goes in the spiritual path, he should become more and more humble. Once a sacrifice [yagna] was being performed and everyone including the Devas including Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva also attended. Daksha also attended the event. Daksha being in a respectable position, everyone stood up and paid their respects to him. Lord Siva did not get up from his seat since he was deeply engrossed in his penance. This really irked Daksha and he immediately started to badmouth Lord Shiva. He started despising Lord Shiva’s appearance.  Lord Shiva an embodiment of patience and calmness was just patiently listening to the abuses by Daksha. Lord Shiva is an epitome of both positive and negative attributes. To substantiate this, he has the symbol of moon signifying the essence of nectar and has a snake tied around his neck that represents poison. His hand personifies fire, while on the other hand he has river Ganga flowing on his head. He has both Boothganas and Devaganas. He perceives both stuthi and ninda to be the same.

Sri Sri Anna in Vaishnava Samhita saya –

“Avamaanepi Sammane Sukhe Dukhepi Vaishnava, Pashyatyeva Harer Leelam Gunadoshau Na Pashyathi”

A Vaishnava never discerns honor or dishonor to be different and perceives both to be same and take it as a blessing from Lord Hari.

Daksha had married his daughter Dakshayini to Lord Shiva. Days passed by and Daksha performed another sacrifice in a pomp manner to exhibiting his pride. It was known as “Brihaspati Sthava”.   He invited everybody in town except Lord Shiva and Dakshayini. She noticed that all her friends were going for the sacrifice which her father was performing. She expressed her interest to attend the sacrifice and confided it to Lord Shiva. Upon hearing to her request, he gently advised her that one should not go to a place where one is not invited. In reply, Dakshayini replied that one should not expect any invitation to a place where the Lord is being worshipped.  But if the host does not look into the guest’s eyes and expresses his delight by your presence, then one should not make it to that host’s place, added Lord Shiva. The greatness of Mahans is that they won’t force their thoughts on their devotees. They would express their opinion and leave it to the decision of the devotee. Thus, Lord Shiva just forewarned Dakshayini that she should not go to a place without an invitation.  If she insisted on going to the sacrifice then that would probably lead to death.

Despite Lord Shiva’s advice, she decided to go since she had bondage to her parent’s home. She left for the sacrifice with some Lord Shiva’s supporters [Bhutaganas]. Upon reaching that place, she was very much welcomed by her mother and her siblings. Daksha, her father did not show his hospitality to her and did not welcome her. She did not pay much heed to her father’s act. But later Daksha started to show his grudge on Lord Shiva in a very obvious way. He stopped all oblations [havirbhagam] that was supposed to reach Lord Rudra. He also did not recite any vedic hymns related to Lord Shiva. This irritated Dakshayini beyond belief.  In an irked tone, she asked her father, “Oh Father! You are showing your hatred on Lord Shiva who has done no harm to you?. His name is so sacred that it purifies anybody who recites his name. The Divine Names of Lord Shiva bestow one with prosperity when chanted.

There was a hunter who was in his deathbed. His son was standing next to him. His son was seeking advice from his father as to how he should earn a living. In reply the hunter mentioned, “Prahara  Aahara Samhara”. Prahara means to hunt, Aahara means to bring and Saamhara means to kill and so the hunter advised his son to go for hunting. If we remove the prefix of all three words and only focus on the suffix, which is “hara”, it verily means Lord Shiva. Saying the three words, the hunter passed away. Immediately Lord Shiva’s sub-ordinates [Shiva Ganas] came to take the hunter to Kailasha since he chanted His Name, even though unknowingly, before he died. Such is Lord Shiva’s compassion and love.


Dakshayini added “Oh father, you have not only exhibited your hatred to Lord Shiva but to his Divine Name. You also not did pay any respect to Vedas since you did not recite the section of Vedas that referred to Lord Shiva.”. She repented for being born as a daughter to a father who did Shiva Dwesha. She immediately burnt herself in the Yoga Agni.

Lord Shiva was still in tranquil state which was his natural state. Mahans are Sankalpa-rahita – they don’t have a will of their own. Witnessing this gory scene, Sage Narada advised Lord Shiva to avenge Daksha. He immediately plucked a hair from his head and breathed life into the hair and there stood a Bhootagana by name Veerabhadra. This newly born Veerabhadra went to the place where Daksha was performing the sacrifice and killed Daksha. The sacrifice could not be completed since Daksha died and so all Devas went to Lord Brahma and requested to make sure that the Brihaspati Sthava Yaga be completed.


Lord Narayana also appeared in the Brishaspathi Shrava and said the following verse –


“Mat Bhakta Sankara Dweshi math dweshi sankara priyaha  Yavadh sankara divakaram”


A devotee of mine who speaks ill or demean Lord Shiva or a devotee of Lord Shiva bad mouths or despises me will end in an infernal region, says Lord Narayana in the above verse.


A devotee of the highest order should never possess any hatred towards Lord Shiva or Lord Brahma. Even a smallest level of ill-feeling would hinder that devotee to reach the highest states.

All kinds of conceit, hypocrisy, and deceit should be absolved in one who is in quest for the Lord.


Dharma projita kaitavo atra paramo nirmatsaranam satam
vedyam vastavam atra vastuhu shivatam tapatrayahunmoolanam


sa vai puḿsāḿ paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhokṣajeh

ahaitukyapratihatā yayātmā suprasīdati [Srimad Bhagavatham 1.2.6]


The supreme occupation [Svadharma] of all human beings is that which will usher into the path of supreme devotion to the Lord. Offer all the acts that one does to the Lord and by doing this one will attain the highest states of devotion to the Lord.  As long as we chant the Divine Names of the Lord, all our sins and fears are dispelled and one will attain the purpose of life which is verily the lotus feet of the Lord. By incessant chanting of the Divine Names of the Lord, our Svadharma will leave us and will lead us unto the holy feet of the Lord.


The satsang ended with prayers and Namasankirtan.


One Response to “Jan 14: Purushartas in Bhagavatam – 1 : Dharma”

  1. Priya October 11, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Such a nice post… So much clarity and written in simple and lucid style.

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