It is the auspicious day of Tiruvonam and the Vamana Jayanti. Andal, in Tiruppavai mentions all the 12 names of the Lord; and Trivikrama and Vamana are from the same Avatar. And Andal gives the adjective ‘uttaman’ (noblest) when she refers to the Trivikrama Avatara. (‘ongi ulagalanda uttaman peyarpaadi’). Periyavaachaan pillai explains why, leaving Krishna whom she loved beyond anything else, Andal calls Trivikrama as noblest – it is only in this incarnation where the Lord does not destroy the bad – he rather corrects the evil quality in Bali – and that is a supreme quality – a quality of the Guru/Acharya – just as Madhura Kavi Azhwar says – ‘seyal nandraaga tiruthi paNi koLLvAn’ (the Guru corrects a jiva and employs him in the service of the Lord). Secondly, in this Avatara, the Lord descends as a boy, undergoes the ‘Upanayana’ samskara and then goes to Bali’s for Bhiksha, showing that one has to have a qualification to go for ‘Yaachanam’ (seeking alms). We generally talk about going to temples and having the Lord’s darshan, but truly, it is the Lord who comes down to the doorstep of the devotee – just as Vamana goes to Bali’s doorstep.
The Devas are in a bad state because the Asuras are in control and Aditi, the mother of Devas, prays to the Lord and the Lord appears to her and asks her to undertake the ‘Payo Vrata’, and Aditi follows as instructed. In the Abhijeet Muhurta (the most auspicious time), when all the planets take the most beneficial positions, with all the divine souls expect in enthusiasm for His arrival.. the Lord is born to Aditi as a young boy, with a short stature (‘vamana’) as Indra’s brother (‘Upendra’) and his Upanayana is performed. Brihaspati gives the sacred thread, Kashyapa gives the Mekhala, Saraswati gives the Japa Mala, the Moon gives the ‘Palasha’ stem, Aditi gives the loin cloth, Indra gives the umbrella, Brahmaji gives the Kamandalu and the first Bhiksha is provided by none other than Uma Devi. The charming lustrous young boy walks with an audacious gait unto ‘Brighu kachcham’ (today, Brauch) – the place where Bali is performing a Yagna on the banks of Narmada. Seeing the little boy, everyone raise in respect. An extremely happy Bali offers to give anything that the Brahmana would ask for. The Lord extols the virtues of Bali’s entire lineage including Hiranyakashipu and seeks three steps of land. Insulted by this petty request, Bali mocks at the Lord, ‘Ah! You spoke like an elderly, but you are indeed a little kid, for you approach the master of all the worlds, and ask for three steps of land!’. A smiling Bhagavan replies, ‘Oh King, if one is not contented when bestowed with what he needs, and seeks more, he will never be contented even if all the worlds are offered to him. A contented man attains his goals quicker. A Brahmana should, especially be contented with what he gets, and that will enhance his luster and power.’ Shukracharya, Bali’s Guru, at this point, warns Bali telling him that he was a representative of the cunning, end-oriented, Devas who has come to snatch his entire property – ‘maya manavakoharih’ – the ‘cunning – human-like Hari’! Bali was extremely happy that the very Lord has come down, and with his wife Vindhyavali’s consent sanctions the Lord’s request. Immediately, the Lord takes a colossal form of Trivikrama spanning all the worlds, measuring the Earth and the skies with two steps. Brahmaji does a pooja when he sees the Lord’s Foot in his own loka. This water comes down as the Ganges. Jambavan, the mighty bear, circumambulates this colossal form! Turing to Bali, the Lord seeks the third step, which Bali is unable to provide and gets captivated. Bali offers his own head to the Lord signifying the offering of his own self. The moment Bali offered himself to Bhagavan, the Lord offered Himself to Bali! He housed Bali at the Patala Loka, the most posh and comfortable place in all the worlds, Himself standing guard at its entrance.
Bhagavatam speaks of twelve people who knows the essence of Bhagavata Dharma, and Bali is one among them. Bali is an eternal Bhagavata – he is a Chiranjeevi.
Legend goes that it is on this day, Tiruvonam, that Bali comes out and visits every home in his kingdom. This is celebrated in Kerala in a grand manner. ‘avaishnavo hato deshah’ – a country is doomed if it does not have a Bhagavata. And we are fortunate that this eternal Bhagavata comes amidst us on this day.
Following introductions, Aravindji continued to speak on Chaitanya Mahaprabhuji.
Bhagavatam says that the life stories of Bhagavatas have to be listened to – for they purify one and inculcate Bhakti. And we are now fortunate to listen to the story of the Lord who descended as a Bhagavata – Mahaprabhuji.
‘Thyaga’ – Sacrifice and ‘Vairagya’ – detachment are the two main pillars to attain devotion. Prema Bhakti comes forth with sublime devotion and it is beyond Mokhsa – and Mahaprabhuji descended to show this to us. Sachi Devi and Jagannatha Mishra were delighted to see the little child with curly hair, chubby cheeks and fair complexion – Nimayi born to them. On the day of the naming ceremony, a few articles like money, food, clothes etc. were placed in front of the baby and the baby was prodded to pick one – to see what it would grow into as – and undoubtedly, Nimayi picked up the Srimad Bhagavatam Grantha.
Soon after, Sachi Mata had a vision where she saw the Devas worshipping the little boy. She ran down to her husband to convey this and Mishraji consented that Nimayi was no ordinary child as he was born with the great Mahatma – Advaitacharya’s blessings who predicted that he would be an Avatara Purusha, as Bhagavatam says, ‘naaraayana samo gunaih’. One day, when the little one crawled, Sachi Mata noticed that his footprints were extraordinary with special streaks of ‘shanka’, ‘chakra’, ‘dwaja’, ‘vajra’ etc. on them – as Bhagavatam says when Bhagavan disappeared during Rasa Lila, His footprints could be seen –
‘padAni vyaktametAni nandasUnor mahAtmanah |
lakshyantyehi dwajAmbojA vrajAngushevAdibih ||
Understanding humans as humans is a good deal, as is understanding God as God, but understanding God as human is the greatest deal and that was the case with Nimayi’s parents who had no doubt that Nimayi was indeed Krishna re-enacting all His Bala Leelas.
One day, something upset Nimayi and he cried uncontrollably. He wouldn’t stop after Sachi Mata’s infinite attempts to passify him, and eventually, losing temper, the mother walked out of the house. No sooner this had happened than she felt someone pulling the tip of her sari and it was Nimaayi. She swooned on seeing Nimayi and soon all the villagers gathered. When Sachi Devi regained consciousness, Nimayi felt very guilty and apologetically promised to his mother that he would never misbehave from then on. Overjoyed, the mother kissed the little one.
In Bhagavatam, Parikshit asks, what great fortune did Nanda and Yashoda do that they are parenting the very Hari –
‘nandah kimakaroth brahman shreya yevam mahodayam |
yashodAcha mahAbhAgAh papauyasya stanam harih ||
The state was the same with Sachi Mata and Jagannatha Mishra.
It was time for Nimayi to take up education – he was given a slate and chalk for ‘aksharabhyasam’. The moment he had a chalk with him, he applied a tilak on his forehead and throughout his body and proudly showed it to Sachi Mata, who said, ‘dear child, you are always playful! When are you going to get serious?’ He would go to the neighbors’ and ask them to give ‘sandesh’ (a sweetmeat) and would dance for them in return, just like Krishna did for butter.
Nimayi’s favorite place was the banks of the Ganges, where he would make fun of the young girls. He would beckon them to worship him and offer flowers at his feet, and would playfully grant them benediction. One such girl was Lakshmi Devi, whom Nimayi blessed with the words, ‘may you get a husband who would match the Devas in virtue and beauty’, and aptly enough, she ended up taking Nimayi’s hand in marriage later.
Vishwaroopa, Nimayi’s brother, when he was 16, embraced Sanyasa and this put the entire family in gloom. He decided against sending Nimayi to school because education verily ‘spoilt’ his brother! Nimayi was extremely sad at this. He dressed up as a blind boy and went to his own house to beg for food. When Sachi Mata chided him, he said, ‘Mother, I am indeed blind and being illiterate and hence I am a beggar too!’ The divine parents decided to perform the sacred thread ceremony for Nimayi to send him to Patashala. During Brahmopadesha, Nimayi swooned the moment he was initiated into the Gayatri Mantra, for he went into a divine trance. When Nimayi went to his mother begging for his alms, and it looked like verily Vamana Bhagavan had descended!
The satsang concluded with prayers and Nama Sankirtan.