In Bhagavatam there are many slokas on Guru Upasanas – “Guru Atmaika Deivatham” which means that Guru, Atma and the Lord are all one and the same and Bhagavatham preaches the precept that the easiest way to attain the supreme truth is by worshipping SadGuru. In Kuchela Upakyana, Lord Krishna says to Kuchela that of all the myriad paths for liberation, it is verily the service to Sadguru that can entice him the most – “Guru Sushrushai”. Then arises the question as to who really is a Sadguru? Bhagavatam says that Guru is a Tattvam and Bhagavatam beautifully defines Tattvam which means that entire universe is the Guru. If that entire universe comes down as an abstraction in a six foot form with flesh and blood then such is the fortune of the person beholding the form. Others are not fortunate to perceive such a form of Guru has a Tattva which permeates everything and is omnipresent. Bhagavatham is verily the Guru because in the eleventh canto, Avadoota speaks about twenty four Gurus.
“Prithvi vayu Aakasha aapahagnischandrama ravihi “|
“Kapothoajagaraha sindhu pathango madhukruth Gajaha”||
“Madhuha harino meenaha pingalaa kurarorbhakaha “|
“Kumari sarkruth sarpaha oornanabihi Supaeshakruth”|| [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.7.33-11.7.35]
He speaks about different kinds of living beings on this earth and that he gained intellect from each one of them. Our Guru Maharaj very beautifully says that it is not just confined to the intellect but a Guru penetrates beyond and transforms the individuals. He will first touch one’s physical body then goes to transform the mind, intellect and finally brings a change in the innermost self. Bhagavatam accomplishes this through the Bhagavathas, who are Gurus themselves as they transform at various different levels. In one of our Guru Maharaj’s compositions, he goes to call out each of these Bhagavathas in Srimad Bhagavatham and implores them to bestow transformation in each level. He prostrates unto Lord Dhruva and says –“Oh King Dhruva, You are my Guru and I meditate unto you and may you bless the transformation of mind.” Mind is not supposed to be concentrated but it should be made attentive and focused to the Lord and that state of attention and focus of the mind is known as meditation, also known as penance. Our Guru Maharaj is addressing Dhruva as a king not because he is the son of Uttanapada but for bringing a transformation in the most tempestuous thing; the mind. He then offers his prostrations to Jadabharatha and prays to him to bestow that state of determination thereby invoking the power of intellect to abide by Dharma and to follow the path for attaining the Lord though the intellect. Jadabharatha transforms the intellect. He then offers his salutations to Ajamila, the greatest of the Bhagavathas and says – “Oh Guru Ajamila, please bestow the capacity to be the recipient of the Lord’s grace so much so that the Lord’s grace can act on one as and when needed”. This is lucidly shown in the life-history of Ajamila, who was a recipient of the Lord’s grace when he needed the most. The way this precept is portrayed is when the lips can chant the divine names, it is by the divine grace of the Lord that can usher the taste of the chanting of the divine names. Our Guru Maharaj then meditates on Lord Prahalada, who was known for his steadfast faith, Vishwasam and determination. He prays to Lord Prahalada to bestow that unshakable faith on the Lord and unto Lord Gajendra for mental power of surrender. He then offers his prayers to King Bali who relinquished his self and for giving himself to the Lord. He first abdicated his possessions to the Lord and finally abjured himself who had possessed the possessions to the Lord. Our Guru Maharaj prays to King Bali to bestow him with that sense of surrender. Our Guru Maharaj then bows down to King Ambarisha to present him with the sense of humility that can enable him to be a student all the time and that can make one recipient of the Lord’s grace. He then prostrated unto the greatest Bhagavathas-the Gopis and requested for the benediction of Prema Bhakti – the sense of divine love towards the Lord. It is very interesting to see that the life-history of Uddhava is elucidated only after the exposition of the Gopis. The bhakti performed by Uddhava is considered to be supreme, but here in Bhagavatam it is expounded after that of Gopis. It is verily because Bhagavatam first elucidates what is the supreme bhakti by showing the Gopi Prema and then delineates the life-history of Uddhava depicting the fact that if one needs to develop that supreme bhakti, then one need to fall at the holy feet of the Gopis.
“vandae nanda vrajas strinam pada renum abhikshnasaha yasaam harikathodh geetham punathi bhuvanthrayam” [Srimad Bhagavatham 10.47.63]
Uddava was an epitome of service to the Lord [Dasya Bhakti] and our Guru Maharaj meditates on Uddhava to bless him with Dasya Bhakti. Our Guru Maharaj then meditates on that Guru who is the Lord himself [Muralidharam Aham Namami] to bestow us with the divine vision that will give one the supreme happiness.
Following a short round of introductions, Sri Narayananji from Boston delivered the lecture.
The greatest among the Puranas, Srimad Bhagavatam goes to speaks about the glory of Lord Krishna and the reason for expounding the Lord’s glories is clearly elucidated.
“Yath Bhagavatha Mahatmyam bhagavat bhakti vardhanam” – It makes one develop more divine love towards Lord Krishna and that is verily why Sage Vyasa dedicated ninety chapters for the exposition of the Lord’s divine plays [Leelas of Brindavan, Mathura and Dwaraka ]. The Lord born in Mathura was brought up in Brindavan where he embarked on his divine plays right from the day he was born. It starts with Poothana Moksham – “Poothana supayah paanah“ , Shakatasura Vadam, Thrinavartha Vadam. All the divine plays of the Lord in Gokula lucidly depict Vatasalya, while the Leelas of Brindavan show Madhuryam [the divine beauty of the Lord] and prowess of the Lord, the Mathura Leelas, Kamsa’s slaying represent the compassion and courage of the Lord, while the Dwarka Leelas of the Lord portray his valor [Parakrama] and dignity [Gambhirya]. The Lord being the king [Dwarakadeesha] enacted many divine plays starting with Rukmini Vivaham and he completed annihilating the Asura clan in Dwaraka. Bhagavatam towards the end of the tenth canto is studded with enchanting divine plays of the Lord like Syamantaka Panchakam, Kurukshetra Samagamam, Kuchela Upakyana, Santana Gopala Upakyana, Girithra Moksham and Vrikasura Vadam. Towards the end of the tenth canto, Sage Suka portrays the divine wives [Mahishis] of Lord Krishna. He had earlier dedicated five Geethams sung by the Gopis, which depict their divine love for Lord Krishna. Krishna’s eight wives [Ashta Mahishis] Rukmini to Sathya are no way less when compared to the Gopis. This is clearly portrayed by the Mahishi Geetham which Sage Suka reserved for the concluding section of the tenth canto. The way they describe their divine love for the Lord is indeed out of the world. One calls out the Kurari Pakshi, while the others call out the moon, mountains, and ocean and speak of their divine love on Lord Krishna.
na vayam saadhvi saamrajyam svharajyam bhaujyam aapyuta
vairajyam paarameṣṭhyam ca ananthyam va hareḥ padam [Srimad Bhagavatham 10.83.41]
Rukmini disclosed that her marriage with Lord Krishna was not to enjoy the opulence in Dwaraka, not to be the wife of Dwarkadessha who is all pervading, not to be the wife of the all-powerful Lord who can bestow liberation to all his devotees and confided that the reason was verily to be at the holy feet of Lord Krishna and render service to him. Such is the glory of the divine wives of the Lord. It is very beautiful to note the ending verses of Mahishi Gitam.
hamsa svaagatam asyatam piba payo bruhy anga saureḥ katham
dutam tvaam nu vidama kaccid ajitaḥ svasty asta uktam pura
kim vaa nas chala sauhṛdaḥ smarati tam kasmad bhajamo vayam
kṣaudralapaya kama-dam sriyam ṛte saivaika niṣṭha striyam [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.90.24]
All the consorts of the Lord are eagerly awaiting his darshan. During this time of anticipation, they reminisce the divine plays of the Lord – “Thava kathamurtham tapta jivanam”. All the Mahishis assemble together and rejoice his glories. It is during this time that a Sadguru enters…. A beautiful swan comes and sits in front of the divine consorts of the Lord. They render a warm welcome to the swan. A swan [Hamsa Pakshi] is a bird that can separate the water from the milk and in turn consume only the milk part. Akin to the Swan, the Sadguru separates the ‘asaaram’ from the Saaram. He takes the Sarathamam [the essence of bhakti] and discards everything else. All Mahatmas are hence referred to as Paramahamsas. Such a Hamsa Pakshi comes and the Mahishis offer milk to the swan cognizant of the precept that it is capable of separating the milk from the water and consumes only the milk. The milk is verily the pure and pristine love that is submitted to the feet of the Sadguru and he in turn filters the base qualities [Asuya and Apamana] in that love and present the best of the best which is indeed the pure divine love to the holy feet of the Lord. After offering the milk, the divine consorts earnestly request the Guru to expound on the divine glories of the Lord. The Guru then talks about the Lord and promised to them that the Lord will take them unto him and that the appropriate time has come.
The tenth canto ends with the divine consorts of the Lord attaining the ultimate purpose of life. The quality of Ashraya – catching hold of the Lord’s feet and listening to his divine glories is clearly depicted here and is the complete essence of Bhagavatha Dharma. Lord Krishna wanted to explain this beautiful dharma in great detail and that is verily why we have the eleventh canto. The eleventh canto is an essence of Bhagavatha Dharma because it is time for Krishna to depart to Vaikunta after having completed his divine plays. But he had to leave behind Bhagavatha dharma and the Lord was a proponent of this very dharma. He thus imparted that dharma to Uddhava and departed to Vaikunta. Eleventh canto is known as Uddhava Gita. The beginning few chapters of the eleventh canto lucidly shows Sage Narada imparting Bhagavatha Dharma. He expounds on Bhagavatha Dharma in the form of Nava Yogi Upakyana to Vasudeva where Karabhajanar delineated that in the age of Kali, the path of chanting the divine names of the Lord is indeed the greatest dharma which is verily Bhagavatha Dharma and that is how the Nava Yogi Upakyana concludes. The Devas then do a beautiful stuti in which they sing praises of the Lord and they request the Lord to come back to his abode [swadhamam]. The Devas proclaim that the entire Asura clan has been annihilated and that all the responsibilities have been discharged meticulously and earnestly requested for the Lord’s return to Vaikunta.
Krishna in reply to the Devas mentioned that there was one more chore to be done and mentioned that he had to extirpate the Yadu clan. When Lord Rama departed to Vaikunta, he took everyone in Ayodhya unto the Sarayu river and left to Vaikunta along with everyone. It was verily Lord Krishna’s sankalpam but he did not know how to destroy them. If the Yadus were being protected by someone else, it would have been easy for the Lord to abrogate the Yadu clan. They were being protected by the Lord himself – Govinda Bhuja Gupatayaam dwaravatyaam kurudvaha [ Srimad Bhagavatham 11.2.1]. The all-powerful Lord thus devised a plan to expunge the Yadu clan and that was verily the curse of a Brahmana.
“Bhagawan Mathakovithaha”; The Brahmanas casted a curse on Samba, the son of Lord Krishna after reading Lord Krishna’s mind that the entire Yadu clan will be effaced by a particular mortar- “Mushalam kula nashanam”. The Lord in a way to counteract the curse summoned all the Yadus and exhorted everyone to embark on a trip to Prabhasa [Somanath in today’s world] in Gujarat. Daksha had earlier casted a curse on the Moon God that he would be affected by “kshaya roga” and in order to alleviate the curse, the Moon God [Soma] did penance in Prabhasa on Lord Shiva and was thus cured of leprosy. Lord Krishna urged the Yadu clan to perform ablutions in Prabasa as atonement for the curse. When everyone was taking a holy dip in Prabasa, the Lord sat in a secluded place and was in intense meditation. At this juncture, Lord Krishna’s dear friend and devotee Uddhava approached the Lord. A devotee of the highest order is sure to know the mind of their Guru—“Sadhunam hrudayam mahyam”. He pleaded that the Lord should take him along, and the Lord persisted. The Lord said to Uddhava, “Oh Uddhava, This world should contain either me or my devotee”. In Mahatmyam it is said – ‘avaishnavo hato deshah’; If a country is devoid of a Vaishnava, it is as good as being doomed. The Lord advised him to renounce everything, embrace the path of Sanyasa and requested him to settle in Badrikashramam. He ushered him the confidence which is verily the Uddhava Gita. To begin giving the confidence, he discoursed on the twenty four Gurus as a discourse by Avadoota who is verily Dattareya [the incarnation of Lord Krishna himself]. He spoke about these Gurus who verily tune one’s intellect and that he perceives everything in this world as a Guru and he concluded that “Daeho guruhu mama virakthivivekahaetuhu” the body is verily one’s Guru. It verily shows how one can attain liberation and also preaches how to detest this body itself. The body is filled with flesh, blood, hair and nails are always loathsome and still everyone loves their body the most. The Lord further added that this Supreme Jnana will dawn in one only through the grace of a Guru.
Avadhuta concludes–nahyetasmAat gururjnAnam susthiram syAt supushkalam |
brahmaitad advitIyam vai gIyate bahudarshibhih || [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.9.31]
Uddhava then began asking a series of questions relating to Mukti [liberation] and the asked the Lord to explain the difference between bonded and liberated.
The Lord then replied to Uddhava’s question that there is nothing known as bonded or liberated since everyone is in a truly liberated state. It is only the fact of realizing this precept. Mukti and being bound are only in Vyavahara. The true nature of one’s soul is the state of being unbounded.
baddho mukta iti vyAkya gunato me na vastutah|
guNasya mAya moolathvAn na me moksho na bandanam|| [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.11.1]
The Lord then discoursed on the qualities of the devotees of 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.
“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 thinks about Uddhava and feels pity for him and tried to motivate him to get back his zeal and energy. He then disclosed a secret and confided to him that no one else is aware of this secret. The Lord disclosed the secret – highly profound content to Uddhava because he was the Lord’s faithful servant and beloved servant – “tvam mae bruthyaha suhrudh sakha”.
The secret is disclosed and it is verily the greatness of satsang.
Na Rodayathi Mam yogo na sankhyam dharma yeva cha|
Na Svadhyayasthapsthyago neshtapoortham na dakshina||
Vrathani yagnachandamsi thirthaani niyama Yamaha|
yathavarundae satsangaha sarvasangapaho hi maam||
Satsangena hi daithaya yathudana mrugaha kagaha|
Gandharvaapsaro nagaha sidhascharanaaguhyakahaa||
Vidyadara manusyaeshu vaishyaha shoodraha striyonthyajahaa|
rajasthama prakruthayasthasmimthasmin yugaenaga|| [Srimad Bhagavatam 11.12.1-4]
The Lord says- Nothing can pull me onto a devotee like satsang. He gives a list of paths like Yoga, Swadhyaya, meditation, fire sacrifices, social sacrifices, charities to Brahmanas, observing fast for hours, pilgrimage tours to name a few cannot easily entice the Lord to a devotee and outlines that these paths are not indeed satsang. The Lord having said this enlightens Uddava that it is satsang that can take him unto a devotee. A satsang is a divine communion [sath] with a Mahatma that can bestow the Lord’s darshan, compassion and grace. The Lord will come in front of a devotee if he is he in the shadow of a Mahatma – “Darshanad eva sadhavaha”. Being at the feet of a Mahatma is verily Satsangam. To substantiate this fact, he gave a big list of people who were liberated by Satsangam, to name a few Sugriva, Hanuman, Gajendra.
Sugriva Hanumannruksho gajo grudhro vanikpathaha|
Vyadaha Kubja vrajae Gopyo yagnapathnyasthathaparae|| [Srimad Bhagavatam 11.12.6]
The beauty with this kind of Satsangam is that when one is in Satsang, they don’t even need to know about the Lord. Just by being in a satsang and listening to the divine glories of Lord and hearing about his beautiful countenance, one automatically develops that love for the Lord.
Sugriva never realized the true self of Lord Rama and still the Lord blessed him with everything because he had the satsang with Hanuman. Kubja never knew about the Lord and she was bestowed with all goodness in life by merely being in a satsang. There was a dancer Ranjani who was in the satsang with Krishnadasa, a disciple of Vallabacharya. She never knew about Lord Krishna and his resplendent countenance. Just by being in the divine communion with Vallabar’s disciple she attained the holy feet of Lord Krishna in an instant. The Lord expounded on such a satsang and the epitome of such a satsang is the divine love of Gopis. The Lord himself melted when he reminisced the Gopis to Uddhava.
Ramena Sardham madhuraam pranithae Svaaphalgina mayianuathachithaha|
Vigaadabhavena na mae viyoga thipradhayonyam dadrushuhu sukaaya|| [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.12.10]
The Lord then reminisced the Gopis who had pure and pristine love for Lord Krishna and unable to control their sorrow when the Lord and Balarama departed to Mathura in Akrura’s chariot and the Lord felt bad for not reciprocating their true love and broke down on the thought of the Gopis. Krishna remembered the drops of tears that the Gopis shed with love as the Lord was departing to Mathura and longed for Krishna to come back. Unable to bear the separation of the Lord from Gopis, they always reminisce the Lord’s divine plays in Brindavan. They never perceived Krishna as the Lord or Vaikuntapathi. They only looked at the Lord as their dear Gopala, as a mere cowherd. They thus reached the supreme state by merely being in a satsangam.
“Thasmath udhavothsrujya chodanam prathichodanaam”|
“Pravrutham cha nivrutham cha shothavyam kshutha mae va cha”|| [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.12.14]
“Oh Uddhava, There is nothing more to hear and nothing more to ask. Look at the real examples in front of you whom you have met in person”. The Lord was unable to give anything in return to the Gopi’s divine love. In Bhagavad Gita, the Lord does not speak anything about the Gopis to Arjuna but spoke to Uddhava about the Gopis all the time, verily because Uddhava clearly understood Krishna’s heart. Uddhava is unable to bear the Lord’s emotions [Bhava] and tries to bring him back to his original state.
“Samshayaha shrunvatho vacham thava yogeshwareshwara”|
“Na nivarthatha aathmastho yaena bramyathi mae manaha”|| [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.12.16]
He asks Krishna to tell the supreme truth. Here the precept that one has to understand is that Uddhava has no intention to learn anything from the Lord but only wants to prolong the discussion with Krishna and the reason for this is mentioned at the end of the eleventh canto. The Lord then embarks to explain the supreme truth, which is the basis for everything.
When there is no creation it remains as it is. At the advent of creation, it takes a form and a name and becomes everything in this world. It becomes Avyaktam [something that cannot be perceived], then succeeded by Maya and followed by all the qualities [Sathvam, Rajas and Thamas] and from one of these Gunas springs all the five Karanams and then the senses and so on. Thus the creation happens and even when the creation is complete the Lord is the base and acts in the background. A cloth is woven be weaving cotton in both horizontal and vertical direction and the cloth thus contains strands of threads which originated from cotton. The original source called Lord has transformed into various materialistic objects and still remains the base. This world is in the form of a tree spanning from the ground to the sun and that tree is known as Samsara.
Dwae asya bhijae sathamoola strinalaha panchaskandaha pancha rasa prasoothihi”|
Dasaikashako dvisuparna nidastrivalkalo dvi phalo kam pravishtaha”|| [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.12.22]
The Samsara is made of two seeds – Punya and Papa [Good and Bad Merits] and contains three trunks which are the three Gunas [Satva, Rajas and Tamas]. It also contains hundred roots [shatha moolaha] which are the inherent tendencies [Vasanas] and five stems called Pancha Boothas [Water, earth, fire, space and Air]. It has five saps which are the five senses which produce these fruits and contains eleven branches constituted by eleven Indriyas [Five Karmendriyas, Five Jnanendriyas and the mind]. There are two birds nesting in these eleven branches, which have golden wings and feathers are verily the Jeevathma and Paramatma and are consuming two fruits, Suka and Dhukka [Happiness and Sorrow]. Those who are in Samsara continue to eat the fruits of sorrow while the Paramahamsas enjoy the bliss [Suka] and the Lord describes this Samsara which is verily one’s own body.
“Aevam Gurupasanayai ka bhaktya bidhya kutarena shitena dhiraha”|
“Vivrushcya jivashaya mapramathaha sampadya chathmanamatha thyajaasthram”|| [Srimad Bhagavatham 11.12.24]
The Lord then told Uddhava to meditate on that Guru whose grace alone can transcend this Samsara and use this body as a tool to transcend this Samsara and shed the mortal coil when liberated. Ramana Maharishi used to mention about a banana leaf. Preserve the leaf until the food is consumed. Upon consuming the food, discard the leaf. The Lord further mentioned to Uddhava to make one’s intellect as an axe and to cut the Samsara apart and upon transcending the Samsara, shed this mortal coil. The Lord then went to talk about the three Gunas.
The satsang concluded with Prayers and Namasankirtan.