Mahabharata is a battle between the righteous and the evil. The 100 Kauvavas signify the umpteen vices in us and the 5 Pandavas stand for the limited virtues. The term ‘Pandu’ connotes white, which delineates the Sattvik qualities and they were only five in number.Krishna’s role in Pandavas’ victory signifies the role of God’s grace in our triumph of good over evil and once that ascendancy is accomplished, it will usher to the path of bhakti and devotion and that’s verily when one is bestowed with Srimad Bhagavatham. By listening to stories in Srimad Bhagavatham, our hearts transform into tender, soft and pristine one will lead one to the path of pure and pristine bhakti. Aptly enough, the story in Bhagavatam starts with the end of Mahabharatha war. When we view Srimad Bhagavatham in this manner, then the LLord starts to play with his devotees.
“TirodAya pravistoham srimad Bhavatharnavam |
Thaeneyam vangmayem murthihi prathyakshA varthathae hareh||”
Srimad Bhagavatham is truly the Lord in the form of sound. When one communicates to the Lord through Srimad Bhagavatham, the Lord also talks to his devotees through the medium of sound. The normal mortals might not totally comprehend this, but the Mahans experience this and the Lord plays with them always.
The expressions made by the Mahans in their compositions are a little manifestation of the Bhavas. The kirtans composed by Mahans is an effort to put their divine elevated state into words as an exposition out of their hearts. The normal mortals need to sing the songs composed by these Mahans and by verily singing will make them experience the divinity which the great Sages are incessantly experiencing.
Saint Thyagaraja, through his kirtans, expressed his true love for Lord Rama in various different bhavas and attitudes towards the Lord. The crux of all kirtans of Mahans is that they not only talk about their spiritual state to the Lord but they also talk about their day to day activities to the Lord, akin to how a little child speaks to his mother about his events at school. The Lord is the sole friend for all the Mahans.
Followed by a brief round of introductions, Sri Aravindji continued his lecture on the four Purushartas with relevance from Srimad Bhagavatham. Dharma is verily the way of life and there are different dharmas for men, women, saints etc. Dharma is multi-fold. In order for one to be in the right path of dharma, one needs to be in a divine communion with a Guru. The Lord Sri Rama shows us the path of Bhagavatha Dharma in Ramayana. He shows the precept through his very own life. Samanya Dharma is the path that one needs to follow when being a house-holder. When Lord Rama defeated Ravana in the battle and saved Sita Mata from the clutches of the demon king, he was the first one to order for an “Agni Pravesha” so that he can prove to the entire world that the divine mother is a personification of purity. On the other hand, in Balakhand when Lord Rama was a child, he obliterated the sins of Ahalya Devi. By the mere dust from Hhis feet, he revived the petrified Ahalya. The Lord showered his grace on her in spite of her possessing all bad qualities. After reviving her life, Ahalya was still lamenting her bad deeds which she had committed in her past. Lord Rama realized this and told to Lakshmana that Ahalya resembles their mother Kousalaya and so both of them prostrated unto Ahalya and got the blessings from her. The Lord not only obliterated her sins but also promoted her to the highest state of Vatsalyam. In the case of the divine mother Sita, the Lord demonstrated the path of Samanya Dharma whereas in the case of Ahalya Devi, the Lord depicted the path of Bhagavatha Dharma.
Samanya Dharma is the path of Dharma where the Lord governs using laws whereas in the case of Bhagavatha Dharma, the Lord governs through his grace and divine love. When a couple enters into the path of a house-holder [grihastha], without the grace of a Guru and satsang, it is akin to entering a whirlpool where they will swoon and fall down. On the other hand a couple embarking in the path of a house-holder with the grace of a Guru and satsang is analogous to entering a merry-go-round where one will enjoy the round. This is clearly depicted in the life-history of Swayambhuva Manu and his wife Shatarupa. They entered the path of a house-holder and they lead a happy wedded life for seventy one chatur yugas. In all these years they lead a happy life because they kept the Lord in the epicenter of their heart and held on to the path of Bhagavatha Dharma. This dharma is so simple and pragmatic for Kali Yuga.
Life becomes very difficult as each Yuga progresses. Earlier people had longevity for thousands of years and now it is very difficult to have a lifespan of seventy. When life was easier those days, the path to attain the Lord was very tough and unfathomable and on the other hand, when life is tough the path for god realization has been made easy since we have the path of Bhagavatha Dharma to follow and attain the Lord.
Sri Ramanujamji is one of his lectures used a beautiful analogy. He compared the path of Bhagavatha Dharma to Badminton. In Badminton we go from “Love all to Love one” whereas in the path of Bhagavatha Dharma, we go from “Love One to Love All”. That Love one is through which we see the entire world and embrace everyone. That one is verily the heart of the Lord Sri Krishna. When we offer our love and bhakti to the Lord, we then start to see the Lord everywhere. This is what is depicted in the life-history of Papa Ramdas. When he went in the quest for his Lord, he started to meditate the Divine Names of Lord Rama and after incessantly chanting, he saw Lord Rama everywhere.
In last week’s lecture Sri Aravindji talked about the Daksha Yagna which is in the fourth canto of Srimad Bhagavatham. Sage Sukha expounded on dharma with Daksha’s life-history as an example to enlighten Parikshit that one should not have any conceit or hatred towards other Lord before expounding on the divine exploits of Lord Krishna.
“Dharma Projitha Kaithavo atra paramo nirmathsaranam satham”
The path of Bhagavatha Dharma is a dharma devoid of any hatred. One can be a devotee of Lord Krishna but not have any hatred towards other Lords. When our heart is impure it is black in color and hence one will be unable to perceive Lord Krishna who has a black complexion. When one incessantly chants the Divine Names of the Lord, his heart becomes white and only then can he see the black dot called Krishna which starts to grow bigger and bigger when he adheres to the path of Bhagavatha Dharma.
The foundation for Bhagavatha Dharma is love and the bond of love gets stronger and stronger when one chants the Divine Names of the Lord and listens to the divine exploits of the Lord. One needs to continue the duties [the inherent qualities] and continue chanting the Divine Names of the Lord and listening to the divine stories of the Lord.
Artha connotes wealth and meaning. It means that one needs to acquire wealth in a meaningful manner or else it will be Anartha.
In Srimad Bhagavat Gita, Lord Sri Krishna says –
“Chaturvidaa Bhajante Maam Janaah Sukurthino Arjuna”
“Artho Jignasur-Artharthi Jnani Cha Bharatarshabah”[Bhagavad Gita 7.16]
He says “Oh Arjuna, Four kinds of virtuous men worship Me, O Arjuna, and they are the distressed, the seeker of knowledge, the seeker of wealth, and the wise, O Lord of the Bharatas and all those people who come to me praying for anything, be it spiritual or worldly need only because they are blessed. But for some merits accrued in one’s previous birth, this does not happen otherwise.” The first of the kind is Arthis. They are the ones who are distressed in lives and have afflictions. They pray to the Lord to absolve all their problems. The second clan of people is the Jijnasus. They are the ones who always have a quest to attain Jnana. They offer their prayers to the Lord to bestow them with Jnana. The third faction of people is the ones who are not contended with their wealth and pray to the Lord to be bestowed with more riches. The fourth class of people is indeed the rarest of all. They are the Mahans [jnanis]. They have realized that there is nothing outside the Lord and everything is verily the Lord.
But people who just embarked in the path of bhakti, we still have needs and desires to be fulfilled. We have to fulfill our needs which are providing shelter, clothing and food to our kith and kin and need to accumulate wealth by dharmic means. So it is to be said that both dharma and artha go hand in hand. Once enough wealth is accured, one needs to spend it for dharmic purposes. This is clearly elucidated in the life-history of Dhruva. The fourth canto of Srimad Bhagavatham talks about the four purusharthas in complete detail.
The young boy Dhruva went in search for his father, who was the then king Uttanapadan. His earnest desire to sit on his father’s lap was vetoed by his step-mother Surichi. She banished him and told him that he needs to be born in her womb in order to sit on his father’s lap and asked him to pray Lord Narayana in order to bestow his grace on him. The young prince Dhruva was very much hurt by this and approached his mother Sunithi. She requested him to pray to Lord Narayana who is their eternal father to seek his blessings and grace.
Dhruva wanted to sit on his father’s lap and that was the only wealth he ever sought. He immediately set out to forest to perform penance. He met Sage Narada en route to forest. Our Guru Maharaj beautifully says that the first indication that the Lord showers his grace on us is to lead us onto a Sadguru. That is clearly depicted in the life-history of Dhruva. Sage Narada saw some events in Dhruva’s life which were akin to his own life. He also went to forest to attain the grace of the Lord and was the same case in Dhruva’s life as well. Sage Narada was a personification of compassion and became his guru and taught him the twleve syllabled mantra. Dhruva went to the forest and performed intense penance. During the first month, he ate some fruits. He then only ate some leaves once in six days in the second month. During the third month, he only drank water once in nine days. In the fourth month, he inhaled air once in twelve days. In the fifth month he did not even breathe air and his penance was so strong that it started to shake the whole earth. The Lord came in front of him and bestowed him with darshan. He started off with a desire to sit on his father’s lap but he got the lap of the Lord itself. He became the king and was the ruler for thirty-six thousand years. His wealth was his father’s lap and he finally attained the ultimate Lord. There is nothing wrong going behind wealth but one needs to have the Lord in the epicenter of one’s heart. We should go in search of wealth not with our own abilities but in the path shown by the Lord, the wealth that we accrue will be Anartha. Dhruva went out to satiate his need and the Lord granted his need and gave him more than what he needed. Dhruva became a pole-star when he shed his mortal coil. A pole star is the only stationary star and all other planets and stars revolve around it. In the world of Samsara where the devotees of the Lord are stranded unable to find the right path and afflicted with sorrows, it is verily the pole-star Dhruva who guides everyone to the pole-star.
Artha is the smallest wealth that one initially acquires and this finally leads us to the greatest of all wealth, the Lord himself. Dhruva attained the wealth because of his steadfast faith and devotion on the path shown by his guru.
Only if we feed our stomach with food can we even feed our heart with Lord. Religion can be imparted to anyone and anybody only if their hunger is satiated.
Ambarisha, the ruler from Ikshvaku dynasty ruled the entire world. He felt that the whole world was but mere pieces of gravel!
“vaasudeve Bhagavati tat bhakteshu cha saadhushu
Praapto Bhaavam pranam vishvam enetam loshtavat smritham”
The whole world is mere stone and it belongs to the Lord. For a Bhagavatha, the terms “I and Mine” become “He and His”. This attitude will dawn in one when one has the attitude to listen and chant the Divine Names of the Lord and listen to his divine exploits. In the life-history of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he started calling out “Pundarika Pundarika” in his Bhava Samadhi. Everyone thought that he was calling out the Lord of Pandarpur. But the next day, they started to hear “Pundarika Vidhyanidhi”. A devotee, Mukunda knew Pundarika Vidyanidhi and he immediately called his fellow-devotee Gadadhara and set out for Pundarika Vidyanidhi’s house. Gadhadhara was of the notion that Pundarika was a Bhagavata who was someone who led a frugal life and eschews all sensual desires like wealth and comforts. They located Pundarika Vidyanithi in a big palace and was leading a very posh life. He was very delighted to see Mukunda and upon seeing him he requested to recite a sloka from Srimad Bhagavatham. Mukunda recited the following sloka and upon hearing the sloka Pundarika was in ecstasy and he soon fainted.
‘aho bakIyam sthana kAlakUtam
lebhe gatim dAtruchitam tatonyam
kamvA dayAlum sharaNam vrajema [SB 3.2.23]
The sloka goes to speak of the compassion of Lord Krishna who gave Moksha to even the vile orge who tried to poison him! When Gadadhara saw this he immediately realized the greatness of Pundarika and prostrated unto him.
It is verily through inner transformation that one can transform into a Bhagavatha and outer appearances do not matter.
To sum up Bhagavatam shows,
Wealth is not an end in itself, it is only a means for sustenance. Bhakti done for wealth will take us forward, to perform Bhakti for the Lord’s sake. With such a staunch Bhakti, wealth cannot shake one, no matter how affluent he is.
The satsang concluded with prayers and Namasankirtan.