The purpose of one’s birth is to attain the holy feet of the Lord and that is verily why man is created so – with two legs, two hands and various sense organs. All the senses of knowledge [Jnanandriyas] are placed close to the head and the organs for reproduction, locomotion [Karmendiyas] so that one can indulge in activity. The inner creative energy communicates with the central nervous system which is our mind. The best use of the sense organs comes useful in the path of Bhakti since every little creation of the Lord can be turned to the Lord through the path of Bhakti. The organs can thus be used to perform Bhakti to the Lord, by always looking at the Lord through our eyes, hearing His glories with our ears, smelling the beautiful fragrance of the flower from the Lord’s lotus feet all the time and the tongue to sing the Lord’s glories and the sense of touch to feel the Lord’s presence all the time. The elephant in spite of having such big ears cannot hear. A snake is called as “Chakshusshravaha”. The skin of the snake is its ears and the sense of touch is all its sense organs. The skin is all powerful for a snake but can it do Bhakti to the Lord? No! The Lord has given us a beautiful mind to turn our thoughts about the Lord only. A wolf is said to have a mind that works at a faster rate than a human brain. But can it use that brain to attain the Lord?
After the wonderful introduction on the reason for doing bhakti to the Lord, Sri Narayananji from Boston lectured on the eleventh canto of Srimad Bhagavatham.
Srimad Bhagavatham, the greatest of all Puranas enlightens us with the path of Bhagavatha Dharma. Bhagavatham starts with six questions and the answer to the six questions is the entire Bhagavatham. It talks about the glories and leelas of the Lord in his myriad of avatars and in particular elucidates on the twenty-four avatars of the Lord. This Purana in particular speaks few of these incarnations in detail and expounds in greater detail some manifestations. Sage Vyasa makes it very clear that it is indeed the Lord Krishna disguising in all his incarnations akin to how Saint Jayadeva in his first Gita Govindam octet, sings about Krishna coming down in all his incarnations as a fish, a tortoise and a wild boar and as half man and half lion– “Keshava drutha Meena Sharira”, “Keshava drutha kachapa roopa”, “Keshava drutha Nara Hari Roopa” and he does not include Krishna as an avatar. It is believed that Jayadeva got this inspiration from Sage Veda Vyasa and Vyasa without any mincing says “Krishnastu Bhagawan Swayam”, which translates to the beautiful fact that Lord Krishna is indeed the Lord and that all his manifestations are verily himself. Sage Vyasa answers the questions pertaining to the future of the people and the reasons for Lord Krishna Avatar and by delineating on the life-history of Lord Krishna in the entire tenth canto, answers all the questions relating to Lord Krishna’s birth and past-times in Gokula, Sri Brindavanam and not stopping there, Sage Vyasa continued to expound on the Lord’s Mathura Leela, Dwaraka Leela so beautifully. All the ninety chapters in the tenth canto are sweet drops of nectar as we read through them. The nine Rasas are clearly depicted in his leelas. The fear is demonstrated when the Lord did the ‘Maakhan Chor’ leela. Shringara in Raasa Lila; Roudra (angar) in slaying the Asuras and during the wrestling contest in Mathura. The ‘Haasya rasa’ [laughter] is exhibited when doing pranks and mischiefs and the Vatsalya Rasa too by the Lord in his childhood.
Sage Narada had once a concern if Lord Krishna was indeed a Karma Yogi and in order to check, he decided to pay him a visit. When he went to Dwarka he was baffled to see Lord Krishna doing all the house-hold chores and helping out all his consorts. The Lord in his leela had to bring Sage Narada to Dwaraka to prove that he is indeed a Karma Yogi in Srimad Bhagavatham! This Purana doesn’t just show Krishna speaking of Karma Yoga but shows Krishna Himself as a Karma Yogi. Likewise the entire Ramayana depicts Lord Rama as a Karma Yogi. Lord Krishna conveyed the purpose of his incarnation to Lord Brahma that he wanted to slain the demons –“Boo Bharaharanam” and the epitome of that being the Shisupala Vadam and Dhantavaktra Vadam and he enacted with elan and ease and eventually the tenth canto concludes with the “Astha Mahishis” a beautiful Gita in the ninetieth chapter. The Mahishis, who are verily the consorts of Lord Krishna depicted their immense love on him and their state of helplessness when the Lord was resting for some time. When the husband comes home after calling it a day at work, his family members eagerly await his arrival at home. However, when he returns home he is in no mood to spend any quality time with his family and opts to rest instead. The entire tenth canto is just filled with Rasa (tasteful experiences of Lord Krishna).
However, the tone in the eleventh canto totally changes. The tenth canto begins with – “katitho Vamsa Vistharaha”. It speaks about King Parikshit his yearning to hear about the divine stories of the Lord. When the eleventh canto begins, it starts with “Kruthva Daitya vadam Krishnah Saraamo yadubhir vrutah” where it speaks about the Lord’s slaughter [vadam] and that the purpose of the Lord’s incarnation has been achieved and that he is ready to depart. The ‘Boo Bhara haranam’ was accomplished and the burden on mother Earth was eased. But here Sage Sukha issues a warning signal that the Lord’s job was not yet done completely. When we clean something we would call it done ideally when we restore the same state it was before cleaning. Akin to this precept, the Lord has killed all the negative forces but has not restored Dharma back. It is indeed the Lord’s onus to establish Dharma and that is verily why we have the eleventh canto of Srimad Bhagavatham and thus this canto elucidates on the ways of resurrecting Dharma and that Dharma is verily Bhagavatha Dharma. This Dharma is no different from the Vaidika dharma. It is just transformation of the Vaidika Dharma for the age that we presently live in. The Lord established the same eternal Dharma so that is apt and pragmatic for this age.
The Lord preaches the ways to attain him while establishing this path. The eleventh canto commences by reminiscing great Rishis which is an introduction about the Nava Yogis. They conclude their discourses by inculcating the precept that different dharmas have been prescribed for different Yugas and that the path of Bhagavatha Dharma is one of the most pragmatic paths in the age of Kali.
krishNavarNam tvishAkrIshNam sAngopAngAstrapArshadam |
yagnaih sankIrtanaprAyaih yajanti hi sumedasah || [SB 11.5.32]
In the age of Kali the Lord is dark in complexion and yet shines with luster, along with His weapons and His devotees. And how should He be worshiped? He can be worshipped with Yagna but keep Sankirtan as the most important part of the austerity and he elucidates on the Bhagavatha Dharma.
After the completion of the Nava Yogis Upadesa, the destruction of the Yadu clan begins because of an imprecation by the Sages and Mahans. The Yadu clan travel to the Prabhasa Kshetra, known as Somantha today. King Daksha casted a curse on the Moon because of which he is waxing and waning and the moon god was absolved of his curse in this beautiful Kshetra called Somanath, and Krishna cites this example to the Yadu clan and takes them along with him to Somanth to relieve all their sin by performing ablutions.
While everyone was busy with their ablutions, Lord Krishna was sitting under a tree in pensive mood and Uddava came to meet the Lord and confided his requests to the Lord. Troubled by the news that the Lord was going to depart to Vaikunta, 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.”
Lord Krishna in reply to Uddava’s request asked him lead a life in constant reminiscence of the Lord by embracing the path of Sanyasa.
“Thvam thu sarvam parithyajya sneham swajana bhandushu
Mayya veshya mana samyak samadrug vicharasva gaam”|| [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.7.6]
Upon hearing this, Uddava had his own doubts whether he was indeed capable for Sanyasa and the Lord thus goes to elaborate on the grace of a Guru by expounding on the Twenty Four Gurus and speaking about King Yadu and the dialogue between him and Avadoota on these twenty four Gurus and concludes by saying that by perceiving all actions as sheer grace of Guru and by constant remembrance of the Lord and the Guru will transform one to their Sadguru. Avadoota finally concludes saying that he indeed learnt a lot from his own body and that one’s own body is a Guru.
Uddava continued to ask a lot of questions to Lord Krishna and he patiently clarifies all the concerns of Uddava. The remaining portion of eleventh canto is the dialogue between Lord Krishna and Uddava.
After Krishna delineated the various paths of God Realization to Uddava, he after patiently listening to the Lord earnestly asked him as to what he should follow and also questioned the Lord on the path of Bhakti.
Krishna says – “think of the universe as is and whatever act you perform in this world as is”.
mayo videshva vahithaha shaithaha madhshrayaha
varnashrama kula charam akamathma samachareth[Srimad Bhagavatham 11.10.1]
Supthasya vishaya loka dyayatho va manorathaha
nana thadath va vyupalaha thatha vedasya gunaihi [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.10.3]
Oh Uddava! Think of this whole universe as a mere dream. Akin to how dreams are falsified when one wakes up, one should lead a life in a similar manner. The Lord speaks about the different karmas in this earth and every action reaps a fruit. That fruit is going to be enjoyed if it is accrued for good acts and if it is a fruit earned by one’s bad acts, then one needs to suffer.
The different Lokas in the heaven are no different from this earth itself and it akin to going from one continent to another and so one has to eventually come down to earth after exhausting all the fruits of the karmas re enjoyed. The permanent solution for one to remain in heaven is called Moksha. Following this, Uddhava asks about bondage and relief from bondage and Krishna explained how one ‘attains’ liberation by merely knowing that his perception of bondage was false! He explains it in the form of a story of two golden birds sitting on the trunk of a tree, one being bright and lustrous and another being emaciated as a fallout of eating the tree’s fruits. For a long time, the bright bird – the Paramaathma, the Sadguru waits for the emaciated bird the Jeevaatma to turn unto Him and eventually when that happens, the birds are in unison and fly away – one cannot distinguish the two birds as distinct anymore. Further Krishna goes ahead to describe the quality of a ‘Jeevan Mukta’. He is no different from anyone else in all looks and gaits. One cannot discern a Jeevan Mukta by external looks.
Further, Krishna goes on to sympathize the mortals who do not have bhakti and devotion to the Lord.
Gaam Dhugdadohaam asathiim cha bhaaryaam deham paradhinam asath prajaam cha|
Vitham thvatheerkrithamanga vacham hinaam mayaa rakshathi dhukha dhukhi|| [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.11.19]
Lord Krishna says, Alas! Uddava people are extremely troubled when they do not sing the divine glories and do not do any charity. They are not so generous in spending money when they have to go to take part in a satsang. The Lord compares these misers to “Gaam Dhugda Doham”- The cow that will never produce any milk and a person who never takes part in a satsang is akin to this cow who is a burden on this earth. Secondly the Lord compares them to consorts who never respect their spouses [asathim cha baarya] and they will never be happy at all. What is purpose of human life when one cannot do any bhakti to the Lord. Thirdly the Lord equates them to [deham paradinam asat prajaam cha] children who do not have any gratitude to parents and don’t take care of them in their old-age.
The Lord pities the ones that have a beautiful body and a mouth to utter the divine words, but instead of uttering the divine names of the Lord, their body and mouth are used to satiate the worldly desires.
The Lord then expounds on the nature of bhakti. If one needs to attain the highest state, then he needs to have absolute silence of the mind and cannot dangle a bit.
“Yadhyanisho dharayithum nanathva bramamathmani”|
“Mayi Sarvani KArmani nirapekshaha samachara”|| [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.11.22]
The Lord after expounding on the characteristics of a Bhagavatha, acknowledges that it is indeed difficult to control the mind. But as a first step, the Lord urges one to abide by the mind and satiate its needs. But when doing the chores, offer the fruits unto him, which is Sadhana Bhakti and then start listening to the divine glories of the Lord and chant his Divine Names.
“SadayAlurme Kathaha Shrinvan subhadra lokapavanihi”
“Gaayannusmaran karma janma chabinayan muhuhu”| [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.11.23]
“Madarthae dharmakamarthanacharan madhapashayaha”
“labathae nischalam bhaktim myuddhava sanathanae”|| [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.11.24]
But the Lord again pities the people and says that many of them are not fortunate to listen to the divine glories of the Lord and so the Lord simplified the path to stillness of mind which is verily being in a satsang.
“Sathsanga labdaya bhaktya mayi maam so Upasitha”
“sa vai me dharshitham sadbiranjasa vindathae padam” [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.11.25]
If one needs to develop that pure and pristine bhakti the Lord preaches that one needs to be in a satsang, where there is constant reminiscence of the Lord and his glories. By constantly being in a satsang, it will lead to the mediation on the Lord’s form [roopa] and will pave the way to stillness of the mind. Uddava after listening to the Lord earnestly asked him to expound more on the path of bhakti and also about the Lord’s devotees.
The satsang ended with prayers and Namasankirtan.