Namasankirtan and Katha Shravan are verily the two flags of Bhagavata Dharma. The beautiful precept is that by verily listening to Bhagavatam, Bhagavata Dharma, Bhagavan Nama and Bhagavat Gunas one can attain the greatest of the greatest. It is is said in Upanishads – ‘ Bhadram Karnebhih Shrnuyama Devah’- ‘Please protect my ears and may they be good so that they can hear to the auspicious things’.
It is said in Puranas and Ithihasas that listening to the lord’s glories is being underlined and in Srimad Bhagavatam in Venu Gitam, it is said that the cows used its ears as verily their mouth to imbibe the lord’ venu.
Thriuvalluvar also glorifies the fortune of listening and how one should deploy the sense organs, especially the sense of hearing in a satsang- ‘selvathul selvam sevichelvam achchelvam selvathul ellam thalai’.
He repeats the word ‘chelvam’ five times verily because each ‘selvam’ refers to one of the five sense organs. He clearly proclaims that the fortune of hearing is indeed the greatest and extols the asset of listening. While the ears are indeed the greatest fortune , Tiruvalluvar goes beyond the ears and says ‘selvathul selvam sevichelvam’ which refers to the art of listening is indeed the greatest. Tiruvalluvar signifies the art of listening to the best of the things is indeed the greatest and he glorifies the greatness of satsang. He further says that the ears are benefited when they are given a choice to listen to the best selvam, which is verily going to a satsang and being bestowed to listen to divine qualities of the lord.
If one does not listen to divine leelas of the lord even when one is bestowed with good ears. He does not enjoy the greatest fortune of listening. The moment one uses his ears to listen to divine glories of the lord, he is indeed a wealthy person as Thiruvalluvar says-’achchelvam selvathul ellam thalai’.
That’s verily the import of GOD satsangs as well. All the sense organs may be used in worldly matters, but the ear is tuned to listen to the lord’s divine glories and the chanting of divine names of the lord.
Sri Narayananji from Boston delivered the satsang lecture
Samartha Ramadas wrote a beautiful abhang extolling the greatness of Sadguru. If there is one thing that can destroy all the three kinds of Tapas namely Adhyathmika, Adibouthika and Adideivika , bestow one with knowledge, usher in peace and bless with bhakti and darshan of bhagvan then it is verily the holy feet of Sadguru. Samartha Ramadas in his Abhang -’trivida thApAsi hAraka hE guru pAya’ glorifies the Sadguru and he beautifully mentions that the holy feet of Sadguru is verily his life-line.
The divine incarnation of Sadguru is for the sake of normal mortals so that just by reminiscing the holy feet of Sadguru instantly cleanses the soul -’sakala jIvAmchI pAvana hE guru pAya’.
Bhagawan and Mahatmas incarnate in this earth for the sake of satsangs. ‘Sanga’ is something that matters to us. The characteristics of a person is determined by the sanga (company) the person is associated with and that is verily why all the scriptures time and again signify the greatness of a satsang and how being in a satsang for a split second instantly purifies one-’kshnaRdhEnApi thulyaE na swargam nApunarbhavam | bhagvath sangI sangasya marthyAnAm kimushAshIshaha’.
For Mahamatas, ‘Sanga’ is not important but their mere presence ‘swayam hi thirthAnI punanthi santhaha theerthI kurvanthi theerthAnI’ is alone enough to purify the entire universe. Mahatmas presence becomes the sanga for us, the normal mortals and so Mahatmas are also here in this universe for Satsangs . They incarnate to give satsangs to all the normal mortal –
’sangI bhAthyatha eva loKa ithI vA vaIyasIkam yadvachaha
thasyA yadhbhutha gouravam vishAdayan sangam thyajan loukikam
swathmAnandara rasAnubhoodhihi barithO pApAdhi yasthAdrishaha
srimad chandra kishora sekhara gurOhO sri padukamaE gathihI ’
The above stuti was written by Sri Vidyathirtha Swami of Sringeri Peetham on the greatness of the divine Padukas of his Sadguru Sri Chandrasekarendra Bharathi Swamigal . In the above stuthi, he mentions that one has to leave all the worldly communion and join the company of Bhagavathas. For Mahtmas who are verily SwathmaRamas satsangs don’t impact them as said by Adi Shankara – ‘Sathsangathve nissangathvam’ . Mahatmas are present here in the form of their divine Padukas to bless all of us with satsangs to make us all pure.
Samartha Ramadas abhangs has references from Ithihasas and Puranas. ‘ nayanIm raghuvIra thAvIti ‘ where he says that the holy feet of Sadguru will bestow one with Lord Rama’s darshan. There are two instances from Ramayana to substantiate this precept. First one is Sabari. Ramayana is one grantha where Valmiki gives the essence in just a handful of slokas. Lord Rama travels along with Lakshmana in search of Sita. He was in a weary state and reached Pampa Saras and he saw Sabari eagerly waiting for Lord Rama. She was a hunter and she had been completely transformed after she had the sanga of her Sadguru, Sri Mathanga Maharishi, who amply blessed her with his darshan . Sabari’s character changes from being an wild uncouth hunter to a gentle women who incessantly chanted the divine names of the lord, and by being in a satsang along with her Guru’s kataksha. By being in a satang she developed so much love for her Sadguru so much so that when her Sadguru Madhanga Maharishi was about to attain his divine abode, Sabari cries and seeks the darshan of her SAdguru and darshan alone-’kAmayE thava eva pAduka sAmibhyam’ . She doesn’t seek anything else but for the divine padukas – ‘kAmayE nAham thIrtha snAnam, kAmayE nAham kshetra yAtra, kAmayE nAham sAkshAthkAram, kAmayE thava eva pAdhuka sAmibyam” . He blessed Sabari with Rama Nama with the blessing of the Sadguru she incessantly chanted the divine names with unflinching devotion to her Sadguru. Everyday she would look at the fire that was still burning in the pyre, she would look with reverence, her Guru’s clothes [valkalambaram] which were still wet and would look at all the artifacts that her Sadguru used while she chanted the divine names of Lord Rama. One fine day when all her senses had given up, her eyes still shone brightly just because they could behold the beautiful form of Lord Rama and Lakshmana. When Lord Rama and Lakshmana met Sabari, she introduced herself and spoke about her Guru ‘nayanIm raghuvIra thAvIti’.
The other instance glorifying the divine pAduka is that of Bharatha. In this case it was not the feet of the Sadguru but the divine Padukas of the Sadguru that brought Lord Rama in front of Bharatha. The moment Bharatha heard about Lord Rama’s departure, he swooned and fell down showing his love for Rama when Kousalya had misunderstood him. After executing the last rites for his father, he immediately set out in search of Rama. Sumanthra helped him prepare everything and they set out to find Rama and entire Ayodhya populace followed Bharatha in search of Lord Rama. More people set out in search of Rama than the previous exodus, when Lord Rama himself embarked on his journey to the forest. When he left, the entire Ayodhya did come but the kingly retinue including Vashishta stayed back along with the three wives of King Dasaratha. This time when Bharatha went in pursuit of Rama, the entire army and the people of Ayodhya accompanied Bharatha. Bharatha wanted to have Rama come back and rule Ayodhya and his intentions were completely driven by the chord of love that he had for Rama. They crossed Ganges river and met Guha who initially doubted the actions of Bharatha later realized Bharatha’s devotion to Rama and said that even a hundred Ramas cannot equal one Bharatha.
The Lord depicted how a Bhagawan should be when incarnated in the garb of a human being and Bharatha showed how a devotee should lead a life and how he should always be devoted to the lord.
Bharatha and the retinue stopped at Bharadwaja’s ashram for the night. Bharadwaja provided a sumptuous food and even when the entire retinue had a great feast, Bharatha didn’t eat a morsel of rice and was meditating on Lord Rama and yearning to meet him. After they depart from the ashram, Bharatha along with Shatrugna and Vashista walk faster and reach the place where Rama was staying. On seeing Rama, Bharatha immediately prostrated unto his brother and he immediately gained all that he had lost, his mind was at total peace and regained his mental condition. Bharatha pleaded at the holy feet of Rama and beseeched him to come back to Ayodhya. Lord Rama enquired Bharatha about the welfare of Ayodhya. Bharatha started off by rebuking his mother Kaikeyi and stopped short of upbraid his father, Dasaratha and Rama swooned when he heard the demise of his father. Rama clarified Bharatha’s false belief that Rama’s ordinance to go to forest was not to satiate Dasaratha’s pleasures but only to uphold Dharma. When Dasaratha married Kaikeyi, he had promised unto the king of Kekaya that the son born to Kaikeyi will indeed become the crown prince. He wanted to keep this vow of his come true and that’s verily the reason why he had sent Rama to forest. Bharatha pleaded to Rama in various ways urging him to come back to Ayodhya and become the king. Jabali and Vashistha also joined hands with Bharatha to convince Rama but all in vain. Rama didn’t pay any heed to the conversation and went inside his hut.
“Evam bruvanam bharathaha kousalya sutham abravithu”
“thEjasa Adithya sankAsham pratipahath chandra darshanam”
“adIrOhArya pAdAbhyAm pAdukE hembhushithE”
“Yaethe hi sarva lokasya yOga kshemam vidhAsyatha”
“sO adiruhya nara vyAgraha pAduke hy avaruhya cha”
“prAgyagacChath sumaha teja bharathAya mahamtmane”
He presented the pair of Padukas to Rama and said “Oh Rama, you are not going to come back to Ayodhya and not go back on your stand”. Rama was steadfast and adamant like the sun on his stand (thEja sa Adithya sankAksham), but his face like the moon and by just beholding the lord’s countenance one the mind will be instantly calmed down (pratipahath chandra darishanam).
Bharatha requests the lord to alight on the Padukas and that they will bestow all goodness to the entire populace. He looked at Rama and told them that he will offer the ruling of Ayodhya to the divine pAdukas and that the Padukas will also be the lifeline for him. He went on and mentioned that he will lead the life of a renunciate wearing the robes of bark and matted hair and will leave on the outskirts of the city.
sa pAduke sampraNamya rAmaM vachanambravIt |
chaturdasha hi varShaaNi jaTAchIradharo hyaham ||
phalamUlAshano vIra bhaveyamra guhnamdana |
Bharatha further added that if he does not meet Rama the following day after the fourteen years he will end his life.
tavAgamanamAkANkSan vasanvai nagarAdbahiH ||
tava pAdukayornyastarAjyatantraH paramtapa |
chaturdashe tu sampUrNe varSe ahAni raghUthama ||
na drakSyAmi yadi tvAM tu pravekSyAmi hutAshanam |
Lord Rama fondly embraced Bharatha and Shatrugna and requested them to take care of all the mothers. He also exhorted Bharatha not to be angry or ill-treat his mother Kaikeyi and requested him to take care of the mothers. He said that this is the Upadesam given to Bharatha from both me and Sita.
tathetI cha pratig NAya taM pariSvajya sAdharam |
shatrughnam cha pariShvajya bharataM chedamabravIt |
mAtaram rakSha kaikeyIm mA roSham kuru tAM prati |
mayA cha sItayaa chaiva shapto si raghusaTama |
ityuktvAshruparItAkSho bhrAtaraM visasarja ha |
As soon as Bhartha was about to depart, Lord Rama’s Gambhirya which was taken over by the love for his devotee, made Rama shed tears. After having blessed Bharatha with the divine Padukas, Rama does not perceive Bharatha as his brother but as a devotee (bhakta). The lord didn’t explicitly show his tears and subtly went inside his hermitage after offering his obeisance to everyone.
sa pAduke te bharataH pratApavAn |
svalamkRitE samparigRuihya dharmavith |
pradakShinam chaiva cakAra rAghavam |
chakAra caiva uTama nAga mUrdhani ||
Bharatha was cognizant of all dharma and lives by it every moment. Bharatha placed the Padukas on his head and circumambulated and prostrated Lord Rama. He then placed the divine Padukas on Lord Rama’s favorite elephant, Shatranjaya who also wanted to carry Lord’s Padukas on its head. Everyone alighted the chariots and reached Bharadwaja ashram. Everyone inquired the events that had happened and Bharatha was very happy to share with them that he was blessed with the divine Padhukas of his Sadguru. He said that he sees the holy feet of his dear Rama (his Guru) in the Padhukas and that the divine Padhukas are going to rule the entire kingdom. Saying so he prostrated to Sage Bharadwaja and took leave from him. He crossed Ganga and Yamuna with the Padhukas thereby cleansing them akin to the sloka ‘thirthim kurvanthi thirtani ‘. Vedanta Desikar takes 20-30 slokas and glorifies the dust on the divine Padukas -’paraga pandathi’. Paraga connotes dust. The dust are verily the atoms that can create more atoms . The dust can make a human being out of the thin air as seen in Ahalya Sapavimochanam. When the dust from Lord Rama fell on the stone, it was instantly converted into a feminine form human-being. Dust in sanskrit means ‘rajahah’, and it is capable of destroying the Rajas and Tamas qualities in all of us and bestow us with Sattva.
Everyone reached Ayodhya and at the outskirt they looked at the crestfallen city. Valmiki describes Ayodhya in its current state. The reason he describes Ayodhya as crestfallen is because the Lord’s divine Padhukas are not going to go there and only stay in a village called Nandigram. He dropped his mothers at Ayodhya and got ready to go to Nandhigram. He had not lost the sense of guilt that he was also responsible for sending his brother to the forest. He wore the robes of bark and matted hair as he placed the Padhukas on his head, he requested the umbrella to be raised a little above the divine Padhukas and said that the divine Padhukas are not his dear brother Rama but that of his Sadguru.
etad rAjyam mama bhrAthrA datham samnyAsavat svayam |
yoga kShema vahe cha ime pAduke hema bhUShite ||
He told the ministers and everyone there that his brother Rama bestowed him with two things . Firstly the reign of Ayodhya to take care of the administration. He further added that Rama knows that he is not indeed capable to manage the administration and so Rama bestowed him with the Padhukas to help him. He then ordained them to fan the divina Padhuka with ven chamaram and hold the huge white umbrella (shwetha chatram )on the Padhukas.
chatram dhaarayata kSipramaaryapaadaavimau matau |
abhyAm rAjye sthito dharmaH pAdukAbhyAm gurormama ||
He said that it is indeed the feet of his Sadguru that is placed on the top of his head and that it going to rule Ayodhya for the next fourteen years. He told the ministers that he will take care of the welfare and comfort of the Padhukas which in turn will take care of the welfare of the city.
bhrAtrA hi mayi samnyAso nikSiptaH sauhrIdaadayam |
tamimam pAlayiSyAmi rAghavAgamanam prati ||
Bharatha mentioned that as soon as Rama is back, he will give both the reign and Padhukas to him and he inturn will become the Padhukas for Rama (marayadi ennai Atkolla vendum).
kshipram samyojayitvA thu rAghavasya punaH svayam
charaNau tau tu rAmasya drakSyAmi sahapAduke|
The Padukas have been placed on the royal throne and Nandigrama has become the makeshift kingdom because the entire administration of Ayodhya is going to be facilitated from Nandigram for the next fourteen years. On the throne is the royal bided bejeweled Padhuka which has been coronated as the king.
rAmAgamanamAkANakSan bharato bhrAtRuivatsalah |
bhrAturvachanakArI cha pratijJNApAragastadA ||
pAduke tvabhiSichyAtha nandigrAme.avasaTathA |
Bharatha thus made the PAdhukas as the king in the lineage of Kakustha.
abhiSikthe tu kAkuThse prahrishtamudite janE |
prItirmama yashashcaiva bhavedrAjyAchchaturguNam
Desikan says that Lord Rama wanted to look at his lineage of Raghuvamsa. From the Surya clan, Raghu was the first king followed by his son Aja and then Dasaratha. The next in the line was Rama. Coming from this great clan, he thought it will be appropriate to have Padhuka Maharaja and his name as a descendant of the divine Padukas and that is another reason for Padhuka Pattabhishekam. Coronating the Padukas will bring greatness to the clan.
sa vAlavyajanam chatram dhArayAmAsa sa svayam |
bharataH shAsanam sarvam pAdukAbhyaam nivedayan ||
Bharatha carried the white umbrella (shwetha chatram) and fanned (chamaram ) the Padhukas for fourteen long years and offered everything to the Padukas.
tatasthu bharataH shrImAnabhiSichyAryapAduke |
tadadhInastadA rAjyam kArayaamAsa sarvadA ||
Bharatha carried over the administration under the able guidance of the divine Padhukas. He offered everything to the Padukas and then dealt with it in proper way only after offering to the Padhukas.
adA hi yatkAryamupaiti kimchidupAyanam chopahrhitam mahArham |
sa pAdukAbhyAm prathamam nivedya chakAra pashchAdbharato yathAvat |
The satsang ended with prayers and Namasankritan.