Sri Narayananji from Boston continued his lecture on the dialogue between Lord Sri Krishna and Uddava from the eleventh canto of Srimad Bhagavatam.
There are infinite paths to infinite bliss. And today, we have Bhagavatam in front of us – the essence of the Vedas and the Upanishads – which analyzes all the infinite paths shown by the Vedas and the Upanishads and shows us the most relevant and pragmatic path. This is very clearly seen in Srimad Bhagavatham in all the eighteen thousand verses across all the twelve cantos where it analyzes all the paths right in front of our eyes. The path of Self-Enquiry, the path of Atma Vichara the greatest proponent of this path being Sri Ramana Maharishi and the great Yogishwaras who followed this path is also described in Srimad Bhagavatham. The path of Yoga Maarga, the AshtangaYoga where one follows the Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Prathyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. One who follows these paths eventually realizes that the Paramatma is within himself and one eventually attempts to get that realization of Paramatma, and the path of Raaja Yoga is marvelously elucidated in the eighth canto of Srimad Bhagavatham. All across Srimad Bhagavathan the path of knowledge [Jnana ] by complete renunciation is expounded and the Mahatmas who advocated this path is also delineated in this grantha like Rishaba Yogiswara, Avadoota and Jadabharatha to name a few, who have lived the path of Jnana by complete renunciation. Srimad Bhagavatham then speaks of the beautiful path of Bhakti and talks about the different stages of Bhakti and devotion. After expounding on the various paths, it presents us a bejeweled path, the path of total surrender to the Lord. The moment we can do a complete surrender unto the Lord, he then takes us unto his fold. Srimad Bhagavatham after having given us this path acknowledges that such surrender is indeed difficult and unfathomable.
It shows us how one can do Bhakti all his life and how one can dedicate their life for the sake of Bhakti. By following the path of bhakti all through one’s life, he is sure to have the darshan of the Lord during his last moments and surrender unto the Lord and realize him. Srimad Bhagavatham shows the beautiful bhakti and devotion of Bhismacharya, Vrithraasura, in spite of being born as a demon shed tears thinking about the Lord every day.
It then shows the bhakti of the Gopis, the bhakti that was unadulterated and bhakti for the sake of bhakti. After having elucidated the path of Bhakti in a verbose manner, it says the readers to not be fooled that one might get such a bhakti. It speaks about the story of Gajendra, where he got the thought of the Lord when an alligator caught hold of his leg and only after fighting to save himself from the clutches of the Lord and he cried out to the Lord for help.
Gajendra developed such kind of a bhakti because of his earlier birth. He had been doing a different kind of bhakti all his life in his previous birth by performing Pooja to Lord Krishna. He got the darshan of the Lord because of the good merits he accrued in his previous birth.
Invoking the grace of the Lord in one’s life is verily enough. All the efforts and prayers done to the Lord are verily to shake him and make sure we get his attention and grace. The easiest means to divert the attention of the Lord unto is verily chanting the Divine Names of the Lord. This path is indeed one of the greatest paths because whoever chants the names of the Lord even without thinking the Lord will be bestowed with the darshan of the Lord.
If one chants the Divine Names of the Lord when he slips and falls down, the Lord will turn unto you and bestow you with Bhakti. The Lord doesn’t give Bhakti directly but takes you unto a divine communion with a Sadhu. If we reminisce the life-history of Ajamila, it would tell us that Ajamila chanted the divine name of Lord Narayana and because he chanted the divine names, he was a recipient of the Lord’s grace. While chanting the four lettered word “Na Ra Ya Na” was sufficient, Srimad Bhagavatham says that Ajamila cried out a five lettered word “Na Ra Ya Na Ya” !
“Narayanethi mriyamana iyaaya muktim” [Srimad Bhagavatham 6.3.24]
The Lord did not shower his grace on Ajamila by just saving his life. Four minions of Lord Vishnu came down and gave him satsang because he chanted the Divine Names of Lord Narayana once. He got a satsang for a spilt second “kshaNa sangena Sadhushu”.
In Shristhi, Srimad Bhagavatham talks about the different intervals of time, ‘truti’, ‘kshana’, ‘muhurta’ etc. Our Ajamila got a satsang for half a second since he chanted the Divine Names of the Lord once and so he got satsang with the highest devotees of Lord Vishnu. What did the satsang do? It completely transformed the life of Ajamila. The devotees of Lord Vishnu spoke about the greatness of the divine name to some minions of Lord Yama, which Ajamila happened to hear. After having learnt the greatness of the divine names, he realized how he had emaciated his life and proceeded to do Bhakti and attained the Lord.
Thus the essence of Shastras and Vedas is verily chanting the divine names of the Lord and this will eventually lead one in a divine communion with the devotees of the highest order which will pave way for the Lord to come and reside in our hearts. This essence is Bhagavatha Dharma and is expounded in great details by our Lord himself – “mayaa Proktam”.
This path of Bhagavatha Dharma is being delivered by the Lord to Uddava as an Upadesa. The listener is the connoisseur of the highest order and the speaker himself is the object of enjoyment.
The Lord embarked on his discourse by delineating on the greatness of a Guru and everything is indeed the grace of Guru. Everything that happens around a devotee be it happiness or sorrow is indeed the grace of Guru. Avadoota says that everything he sees and experiences in his life is indeed Guru’s grace – “Guruvarul Ondre Ariven; ver ondrum naan ariyein, virumben”
The grace of a Guru can do any miracles. Evrything else will come to us if we have the benediction of a Guru. “Guruvarul Ondru irunthal matrathellam thanae varum” and even the most fleeting things will remain forever. “Varuvathodillamal samayathil thunai nirkum”
Avadoota completed his Upadesa to King Yadu by saying “Susthiram Syat su pushkalam” [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.9.31], which connotes that unless on has the blessings of a Sadguru he cannot attain Jnana. Uddava eventually realizes Lord Krishna as his guru towards the end of their conversation. Lord Krishna then spoke to him on different truths and precepts, expounded on the qualities of Mahans and Sadhus and the characteristics of the devotees of the Lord. Uddava was more curious to hear about the qualities of a devotee and so Lord Krishna expounded that a devotee who performs devotion to the Lord, would be very compassionate, cannot stand other’s pain, follow the path of non-violence, he would be completely absolved of jealousy and prejudice, always reminiscing the Lord, he is a personification of patience and truth. The Lord further added that when his devotee is in danger, he would not trust anybody other than the Lord and would always remember the Lord in case of danger and would be very respectful and treat everyone with love.
It is to be remembered that when one is doing bhakti, it is said that it is not the bhakti of the highest order. When one is in bhakti, then that is said to be the bhakti of the highest order. The moment it is about doing then it is one step low but the moment it is the being, then it is one step high. Uddava asked about the devotee who performs bhakti to the Lord and the Lord expounded the qualities of such a devotee. As we all know there are devotees of the Lord at different levels. Each one possesses the above mentioned qualities in various gradations.
Uddava then requested the Lord to expound on how one should perform bhakti.
“Mallinga madh bhaktijana darshana sparshanrchanam
Parichaya stuthihi prhvah guna karmanukirthanam
Mathkatha shravanae shaddha madhanudhyanam Uddhava
Sarvalabahopaharanam dasyenatma nivedanam
maj janma karma kathanam mama parvannumodanam
gita tandava vaditra goshthibir madh grhotsavah” || [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.11.34-36]
The Lord expounds on how a devotee of the highest order would perform devotion and bhakti to the Lord. He always goes to worships the Lord and also the other devotees of the Lord. He is forever immersed in the chanting of the Lord’s divine names and extolling the greatness of the Lord. He embarks on pilgrimage tour to see the Lord in various temples. He offers whatever he gets to the holy feet of the Lord and thus offers the fruits of his karma to the Lord. He also celebrates all the auspicious days of the Lord and forever immersed in the thought of the Lord. The Lord lastly concluded that of one performs bhakti as mentioned then he will be bestowed with epitome of highest bhakti and become a bhakta of the highest order [Bhaktha Thamaha]. Having said this, the Lord also added that one can attain this state of pure and pristine bhakti by doing service [kainkarya] to Sadhus and Mahans and one is sure to get devotion in a very strong manner since the Sadhus always rely on the Lord.
Prayene Bhakti Yogena satsangaena vinodhava
Nopaayo vidhyatae sathrajang prayanam hi sathamaham||
Labatae mayi Sadhbhaktim mathsmrithihi sadhusevaya” [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.11.47]
The association of Mahans is indeed potent and is the easiest way to eternal bliss when compared to the path of practice of devotion which is inculcated by the divine communion of Sadhus. Even if one does not go on a pilgrimage tour, does not chant the divine names of the Lord, he is sure to reap the fruits of bhakti by being in the divine communion of Sadhus.
The satsang concluded with prayers and Namasankirtan.