The Lord tells to Sage Narada that he does not reside in Vaikunta and that he verily lives amidst his devotees who chant his divine names and sing his glories.
“nAham vasami vaikunte na yogi hrudaye ravou “
“mad bhaktaha yatra gAyanthi thatra thistami narada”
This sloka can be viewed in another perspective. Vaikunta is not the place where the Lord dwells [Vasasthalam]. The Lord himself is Vaikuntam and it is not a place to live in. The importance of this sloka is to stress on ‘vasAmi’. The term ‘Bhagavan’ is a manifestation of six qualities [gunas] – “shannam bhagavtho rithi”. According to Vishnu Purana, there are six qualities that identify Bhagavan. Dispassion [Virakthi, Determination [vairagya] and Knowledge [jnanam] are three important qualities. Normal mortals yearn to develop these three qualities in order to reach Vaikunta. It is said believed that the Lord also has the same yearning to develop these three qualities and when these three qualities are at its epitome, the Lord descends down to shower his grace on his devotees [“Sri Vaikunta Viraktaya Swami Pushkarani thadae”].
‘Compassion’ is yet another quality of the Lord and he wants to shower his grace on his devotees and hence descends down to bestow his grace on everyone. The Lord has a desire and it is called ‘Vanchai’. It means a desire without any reason and not driven by external stimulus. Many of our wishes are based on a reason. The Lord’s desire is to bestow his grace on this world. He is not able to shower his grace in Vaikunta and hence stoops down to fulfill his desire of bestowing his grace in the form of incarnations. He comes down as a fish, a boar, a king, a cow-herd to satiate his desire. There is no need for the Lord to shower his grace in Vaikunta verily because it is due to the Lord’s grace that one can ever reach Vaikunta. The Nithyasooris communicate with the Lord in Vaikunta merely through eye-sight [sada pashyanthi soorayaha] and in Shirabdhi verily through the mind [Samadhi]. The Lord also desires to hear the divine names and sing the glories of his devotees and hence he incarnates. He doesn’t come alone but also brings along the divine mother.
In his incarnation as Panduranga, the Lord wanted to experience the divine form of Lord Shiva and hence incarnated as Panduranga with the inheritance [amsa] of Shiva in Vittalapuram –
‘avatAramastu yaschakre vAsudevah pareshvarah’.
In addition to the vibhava avatars, the Lord also descended down as ‘Archa Avatars – in an iconic form in temples’ and an important part of Bhagavata Dharma is to celebrate the Lord in the form of Archa Avatars.
In the episode of Syamantaka Mani, all the Yadavas casted false aspersions on Lord Krishna that he stole the Syamantaka jewel. Krishna was feeling bad of this and wanted to find a way to be vindicated. When Krishna was in this state of quandary, Sage Narada visited the Lord and spotted him to be very depressed. He enquired the reason for his sadness. Krishna confided the course of events and wanted to know the means to get out of this blame.
Sage Narada was cognizant of the reason for the false upbraids and told him that the reason for all these criticisms was because Krishna had seen the moon on the fourth day of the bright fortnight in the month of Bhadrapada.
He went on to explain the meeting of Lord Ganesha and the moon. Once Lord Brahma, before the advent of his creation of the universe prayed to Lord Ganesha that the process of creation happen without any obstacles. Brahma offered lots of sweets as an offering to Lord Ganesha, and he was immensely happy with Lord Brahma’s prayers and after blessing him immensely embarked on a journey around the universe along with the sweets. He entered the Chandra loka, the abode of Moon and upon reaching there he started to dance. The moon on seeing the elephant face and big belly of Ganesha started to laugh with contempt. Lord Ganesha, feeling insulted and angered cursed the moon that his beauty would soon vanish. The curse took effect immediately and the moon began to wane and started to lose all his beauty. He immediately approached Brahma and divulged this incident to him. Lord Brahma advised the Moon to perform a pooja with all earnestness on the fourth day of the bright fortnight along with the divine offering of sweets and fruits. The Moon God implicitly obeyed the ordinance from Lord Brahma and performed a pooja with Ganesh with all reverence to come out of the curse and also surrendered to Ganesha with the following sloka –
“Tvam karanam karana karananam”
vedasi vedhyam cha vibogasita
Pratita devaeshu jagannivasa
ganesha lambodara vakratunda
virinchi narayana poojyanatha
pratamasya eka garva krutam cha hasyam“
Lord Ganesha was immensely pleased with the Moon and he grew calm and relaxed the curse. The moon had to go through the waxing and waning phase every fortnight, where he will be all glowing in all splendor during the waxing phase and that he will lose his luster and be dark during the waning phase.
This story was narrated to Lord Krishna by Sage Narada and advised Krishna to do a pooja praying to Lord Ganesha to come out of this false blame. Lord Krishna performed the pooja with all earnestness and offered lot of sweets to Ganesha on the fourth day of the bright fortnight [Shukla Paksha].
After performing the pooja, Krishna came to know that the Syamantaka jewel was with Akrura and he brought Akrura to Dwaraka and let all the Yadavas know that it was Akrura who had the jewel and got himself vindicated of the false blame. The beautiful episode of Syamantaka jewel came to a sweet end with everyone par taking the sweet modaks that was offered to Lord Ganesha. The moral of this leela is not to set our mind on worldly gems, when Sri Swamiji has blessed all of us with the rarest of the rarest gem – Mahamantra – ‘Vaari irathalum rathinam rathinamae arumayil arumayana keerthanam padire’. Let us all chant the divine names and be happy.