Tag Archives: bhagavata dharma

Dec 4: Bhagavata Dharma expounded

4 Dec

There is no concept called marriage in any religion. It is verily in Sanatana Dharma that the concept of a formalized marriage came into existence. It was only from Sanatana Dharma that other religions and faith started to adopt the concept of marriage. The reason we have a formal marriage is because of the commitment to keep the vows taken in front of the fire [agni, the main upasana for our karma] which keeps the relationship between the couple bonded. In Ramayana, the Lord when making friends with Sugreeva, took a vow in front of agni, for their friendship to endure. If we need vows to sustain the relationship between couples and friends itself, then we definitely need a binding force between the Paramatma and the Jeevatma. That binding can only be enhanced by the grace of the guru which manifests itself in the form of a satsang. Satsang is the first signal by the Lord to a Jeevatma that he is indeed going to attain the holy feet of the Lord.  Satsang is a divine communion with the devotees of the Lord. Satsang is incomplete when there is no chanting of the Divine Name of the Lord and reminiscing of His glories.

It was then followed by introductions. Then Sri Ramanujamji lectured on Bhagavata Dharma.

Bhagavata Dharma is explained in detail in the eleventh canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. It starts off with the Vishaada Yogam. Dharma is put in firm footings when some adversity strikes. Lord Sri Krishna himself says that –

“Yada Yada hi dharmasya glaanir bhavati bhaarata…”

‘Whenever there is a decline in dharma [glaani], I descend on the earth to re-establish dharma.’

The Yadu clan, which is the race protected by Bhagavan Himself (Govinda bhuja guptayam), encountered a problem. This again can only be called as the act of the Lord. The Yadu clan became very strong and prosperous and was secured by Lord Krishna’s arms. When an entire clan was secured by the Lord, then no extraneous agency can never bring any burden to that group and eventually send them to the holy feet of Lord Sri Krishna, can it? It is akin to how two bamboo sticks when they strike each other in a thick bamboo forest lead to a bush fire and ends up obliterating the whole forest. The Yadava clan encountered an internal fight and that verily brought the end of the entire clan.

Swami Vallabacharya lucidly explains that the eleventh canto is indeed an unique canto. It talks about liberation [moksha/nirodha] about both the Lord and the Jeevas. The Lord became Srimad Bhagavatam to play in the hands of normal mortals and in the process lead to liberation. The Yadava clan, who are the jeevas attained liberation as shown by the Lord in the eleventh canto. The Lord showed the path of Bhagavata Dharma for normal mortals in the eleventh canto. In the very second chapter of the eleventh canto, Sage Suka embarks into the journey of expounding Bhagavata Dharma after giving a brief introduction about Vishada Yogam (obliteration or Yadava clan’s curse).

Sage Suka akin to any other Mahatma began to expound on Bhagavata Dharma through another Bhagavata.[another devotee of Bhagavata Dharma]. He is reminded of the discussion between  Sri Vasudeva, who is Lord Krishna’s father and Sage Narada. We all know that Sage Narada was the main cause for Sage Vyasa to be reminded of the important work to release Bhagavata Dharma to people who have the fortune  of living in Kaliyuga.

Vasudeva who was living with his son who is the Lord, posed lot of questions to Sage Narada about Bhagavata Dharma. He had a very strong reason to do that.  Vasudeva continued and said “Oh! Sage Narada,  Sadhus like you can only bring benediction to people who come in contact with you”.

He says , “sukhayaevahi sadhunam tvadrishaam achutdatmanam”

Vasudeva  called on Sage  Narada and confided in him that even though he was living with the Lord, he was deluded by infatuation [maya]. He further continued that even though he knew the Lord for the past three births, instead of asking emancipation he asked the Lord for the boon to be born as his son.

Oh Sage Narada, I want to take refugee onto your holy feet and please discourse on Bhagavata Dharama, which can completely absolve all the fears [tapatraya, which is of three types, adhideivika, adhiboutika and adyatmika] and the fear of those sorrows.

Hearing this question, sage Narada’s face lit up instantly. He did not say that he was happy because he knew the answer. He told him that by answering this question will make Lord Narayana extremely happy and delighted.

He started to explain about Bhagavata dharma. Bhagavata Dharma by definition is

“Bhagavata proktam iti Bhagavatam”  That dharma which is revealed directly by the Lord and since he attached so much value to this dharma, he decided to reveal it on his own, while he requested the rishis to reveal the other dharmas.

Hence it is indeed special since it was revealed by the Lord himself. Sage Narada continued and told Vasudeva that he was going to expound on the supreme of all dharmas. Vedas say “Dharmam chara”, which means one has to adhere to path of the dharma to get the fruit.  But the path of Bhagavata Dharma seems to be even more special and it is grace incarnate since it more practical. He substantiates why Bhagavata dharma is a practical dharma. If somehow gets connected to Bhagavata dharma, then he completely reaps the fruit of that dharma.

“Shruto anupatitho dyatha aaddrutho vaa anumodithaha s
adha punathi sad dharmo deva vishwo dhruvo apihi”

The above sloka expresses the eagerness of the Lord for everyone to practice Bhagavata Dharma. That is verily the reason as to why the sadhus who have incarnated in this age of Kali were all sent by the Lord to show the path of Bhagavata Dharma for the people in this age of Kali.

Sage Narada very lucidly conveyed the meaning for the above sloka. He goes to say that by just listening to Bhagavata Dharma [Shruto], one reaps the fruit [thakshanath] even if he repeats a sloka without  memorizing the sloka, which means just dwelling on Bhagavata dharma [anupatitho]. The reaction time for the result is zero. The moment one had the desire to listen to Srimad Bhagvatham, he has already reaped the result. When one eagerly wishes to go to a satsang, he has already got the fruit of satsang in him. Even if we are meditating on the greatness of Bhagavata dharma that would implicitly bestow him with the fruits.

It is very nice to ponder on  aadrutho. Even if one of the family member allow the other members of the family to go to a satsang with whole heart then that family member also gets the fruit. The Lord is so easily accessible to this devotees – “Bhaktya sulabho bhagawan”.  Aadrutho va anumodithah. Even one who accepts the fact that Bhagavata Dharma is indeed a supreme dharma with reverence will bestow him with the fruits of satsang.

Meditating on the greatness of Bhagavata Dharma [ Dyatha] will also bestow one with the fruits.

When we follow Bhagavata Dharama, the world which was not making sense starts to make sense, religion now seems to be more familiar and one will feel happy being what we are and would be greatly enthused to go further in the journey of Bhagavata dharma. It greatly improves the inner quality of one’s life and the outer quality of life which is a reflection of one’s inner life. When we are order within, the world is then in order outside. Bhagavata Dharma is an inner dharma, the ablutions of Bhagavata dharma may vary but  it talks to the heart. It is a bridge between our heart and the holy feet of the Lord. It can only unite people and not divide people.

“Aghrushtajaa anugamanam vatsalyaa janani sishum” It is like the mother who is very watchful on her kid who is ready to walk. The kid does not want any help from the mother and so the she secretly follows the child to make sure the child does not slip. She also does not want to interfere in the freewill of the child. Similarly Bhagavata Dharma, our Sadguru and Takurji closely follow us and allow us to choose the path we want to follow and when one is in trouble they secretly give us an helping hand akin to how the mother aids the child when he has trouble walking. Bhagavata Dharma is not conspicuous and always positive thing start to happen once we start to follow it.

Bhagavata Dharma puts Lord Sri Krishna in the driver seat and we have to cruise through the satsang and understand the purpose of life. By catching holding of Bhagavata Dharma will lead to inner transformation.

The satsang concluded with Namasankirtan.

Aug 7: Bhagavata Dharma

7 Aug

The Namasankirtan was led by Shaliniji from CA.

This was followed by a satsang talk by Sri Narayanan from Boston.

“Dharmo rakshati rakshitah” – our Shastras say.  What does that mean?  If we continue to perform a dharma, that very dharma will save you.  Our Sanathana Dharma – Hinduism is actually a way of life.

Generally, Dharma is misinterpreted to mean charity. But the right interpretation is that Dharma is a practice that we follow – a way of living.

The first word of an epic or scripture is supposed to be auspicious.  When Pauranikas narrate puranas, they start their discourse with the word ‘Sriyahpati’ – (meaning the Lord) because that is an auspicious term.  Ramayana starts with the term ‘tapah’. Srimad Bhagavatam starts with ‘Janmasyadya’.  ‘Dharma’ is also a very auspicious term.  Many a scripture starts with the word ‘Dharma’.; for one, Bhagavat Gita starts as ‘Dharamkshetre kurukshetre…’ it starts with ‘Dharma’.

In Bhagavatam, this Dharma is spoken of in the second sloka.  ‘Dharamh projjita kaitavotra paramo…’.    The first chapter of the first canto also ends with ‘dharma’.  The last of the six questions that the sages put forth is: ‘dharmah kam sharanam gatah’.  Whom did Dharma take refuge in?  Does this not sound paradoxical, because, in the beginning, we said, that it is Dharma that protects us!

This statement really means that Dharma cannot stand by itself.  There has to be a Maha Purusha or an Avatara who will rejuvenate and resurrect Dharma when Dharma is subject to a threat, as Bhagavan says in Gita – ‘yada yada hi dharmasya glaanir bhavati bharata.. abhyuktaanam adharmasya dadaatmaanam srujaamyaham’ – I will incarnate whenever there is a threat to Dharma.  Just like a creeper needs a support, Dharma requires a Maha Purusha to sustain itself.

In Thiagaraja Swami’s life, we see that he took the Upadesha of the Narada Mantra and chanted it continuously, as a result of which Sage Narada, a great Jnani in Sangeetha Shastra, presented him with the musical treatise called ‘Swaraarnavam’.  It is said that this particular text did not remain in the earth.  The moment, Thiagaraja Swami digested its contents, this text disappeared from the earth.  Likewise, many such divine texts cannot remain in the earthly plane.  Vedas are a classical example.    Yogiramsuratkumar would say that the Vedas are a lifeline not just of our country, but the entire world. There are innumerable branches of the Vedas (Vedas are called ‘anantha’- infinite), and today, only a handful of them are found.  Thus the Vaideeka Dharma cannot live on itself especially on this Kali Yuga without the support of a Mahatma.  Such an Avatara was Kanchi Mahaswamiji.  If we are even able to listen to some Veda Parayana today, it is thanks to this great Acharya.  Volumes can be written about his dedication to the Veda Samrakshana (protection).  He would summon his devotees and instruct them to collect support – monetary and otherwise, from those who could afford – for the sake of Samrakshana.  One such devotee came to Mahaswamiji one night – with a list of people who had contributed for the sake of Vedas.  Acharya asked him to read the list.  The devotee read out the names, only the top few.  Acharya asked, ‘you seem to have a lengthy list. You did not read all of them! Why so?’.   The disciple said,  ‘Periyava! These are the top contributors.  The rest of the contributors are trivial.  I don’t want to waste Periyava’s time by reading out the entire list!’. Periyava quickly remarked, ‘Why are you depriving me of the Punya (merits) I would get by listening to the names of those who contributed for the Vedas!’

One can imagine the Humility and dedication of this great Acharya towards Veda Samrakshana.
No doubt the Vaideeka Dharma took refuge in Him.

There are other Dharmas too, that took refuge in Avatara Purushas.  It is important to see, which dharma is being referred to in the sixth question in the first chapter of Srimad Bhagavatam.

The answer is being given by Vyasa in the second sloka – ‘Dharmah projjita kaitavo…’.   He says, that I am going to talk about a particular Dharma – that supersedes  all other dharmas – and the name of that dharma is Bhagavata Dharma.  Why Bhagavata Dharma – because it is devoid of all kind of hypocrisy.  Every other dharma has an expectation of the fruit. (eg. Feeding the poor fetches a punya), but Bhagavata Dharma does not expect any results – not even expectant of the supreme result called Moksha (according to Sridhara’s commentary). Such is the glory of Bhagavata Dharma.

What is Bhagavata Dharma?  The Dharma shown by Srimad Bhagavatam.  Right in the center of Srimad Bhagavatam, it is said that only 12 people know the import of this secret Dharma called Bhagavata Dharma – Brahma, Narada, Shiva, Sanatkumaras, Kapila, Manu, Prahlada, Janaka, Bheeshma, Bali, Vyasa, and Yama – and the narration of the Bhagavata Dharma by these 12 people is what Srimad  Bhagavatam is all about. Bhishma speaks of Bhagavata Dharma in the first Canto.  In the second chapter, Brahma speaks this.  In the third chapter, Kapila speaks of Bhagavata Dharma his mother.  In the sixth chapter, Yama speaks of Bhagavata Dharma.  In the Seventh chapter, Prahalada speaks of Bhagavata Dharma.  It is in the 11th canto, after listening to all these narrations, and even Lord Krishna’s story, Narada speaks of Bhagavata Dharma to Vasudeva, (Krishna’s father), in the form of Nava Yogi Upakhyana.  It is here that Bhagavata Dharma is explained in great detail.

If this Dharma is so secretive, then it must mean, it is only for an elite few.  But it is not so. Narada says, Bhagavata Dharama is said by verily the Lord, and is for those unintelligent, mundane people, who cannot follow other dharmas, as well as for the scholarly and the learned.  Then we see that the glory of Bhagavata Dharma is in the fact that is most harmless!

If ‘Stree Dharma’ is not followed, it backfires.  Mahabharata is a classical example.  Likewise, any other dharma, if not followed properly, will backfire and harm the person.  But, Bhagavata Dharma is the only dharma that will not cause any harm, even if one quits following it in due course, or follows it blindly without knowing the fruit.

Then, the eleventh canto speaks in four sloka, what Bhagavata Dharma is.  It would be interesting that all of us are following Bhagavata Dharma when we truly mean it while chanting this very common sloka, which is indeed a sloka from Srimad Bhagavatam:
‘kayena vaacha manasendriyar vaa bhudyaatmanaava prakrutair svabhaavaat  |
karoti yat yat sakalam parasmai narayanaayeti samarpayetat’

Offering anything done through intellect, body, mind and word to the Lord is the first characteristic of Bhagavata Dharma.  ‘yat’’yat’ – One ‘yat’ denotes those acts that are permitted by the Shastras, the second ‘yat’ denotes those activities that are prohibited. Even if you commit a sin by mistake, offer it to Lord.
The second characteristic of Bhagavata Dharma is that due to the Maya, we think we are the body, and one has to get rid of this thought.  It would be highly difficult to follow this Dharma, if this sloka were left here, for, we are not given a means for getting rid of this thought. Luckily for us, the sloka continues, ‘this will be shown by a Guru’.  Fall unto the feet of a Guru and the Guru will make you experience the truth that you are the Atma.  Until such a time, live cognizant of the fact that the Lord, Atma and Guru are one and the same, and meditate on Him.

‘Srunvan subhadraani rathaangapaane…’.
Listen to the glories of Bhagavan Sri Hari on and on and on… and perform Nama Sankirtan.  When you blindly perfom this incessantly, what happens?

‘Evam vrattastat priya naama kirtya, jaataanuraga nija ucha shikshaihi..’
Slowly, one develops the desire for the Lord, and one gets into the blissful state of experiencing the Supreme state – the state of Mukti.  Thus simply performing Nama Sankirtan will lead one to Mukti, and that is the essence of Bhagavata Dharma.

Eventually, a beautiful comparison is given.  When a hungry man eats a morsel of food, what happens?  The moment he takes a morsel, his hunger vanishes, he gets happiness and thirdly, he derives strength from the calories that he intakes.  It is not that your breakfast appeases your hunger, lunch gives happiness and dinner provides you strength.  All these happen at once – the moment you take in a morsel of food.  Likewise, the moment you perform Nama Kirtan – three thinks happen – you are filled with Prema Bhakti (a form of devotion that is devoid of any kind of expectation and in a bhaava that the Lord is everything for you).  Secondly, one attains ‘Self-realization’.  Thirdly, one acquires dispassion – everything else but the Feet of the Lord becomes mundane and dispensable.

Such a lucid explanation of Bhagavata Dharma is found in the 11th canto (Chapter 2) of Srimad Bhagavatam.

The satsang ended with Prayers with Mahamantra Kirtan.