Tag Archives: chaitanya mahaprabhu

Sep 9: Tiruvonam & Mahaprabhu’s childhood

9 Sep

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.

Jan 29: Secret formula to Krishna Bhakti

29 Jan

This lecture by Sri Ramanujamji was to remember the greatness of Srimada Bhagavatam and the uniqueness of the path of Bhagavata Dharma.

A great sage of Pandarpur in Maharashtra, Sant Tukkaram conveys something that is indeed unique. He conveys that the sages, who are the divine souls and who have incarnated to spread the fragrance of love towards the divine are all the very shadow of the Lord himself.  For normal souls it is very arduous to understand the heart of the Lord. It is indeed very baffling to even visualize the actions of the Lord for the mundane people. But if one observes a saint with devotion, then we can get an idea of the divine. The saints are verily the shadows of the divine.

Lord Sri Krishna in Bhagavad Gita and in Srimad Bhagavatam uses the word “Guhyam” very often. The word Guhyam translates to secret. In the ninth chapter of Bhagavad Gita, which is “Raja Vidhya- Raja GuhyaYogam”, he actually uses the word Guhyam in the very first stanza.

“idam tutae guhytamam pravakshyamy anasuyavae”

He says something very interesting. “Oh Arjuna. I am going to tell you the supreme profound secret. I am disclosing this to you because you don’t have the attitude of jealousy [anasuyaha]. So you qualify to learn the secret. A person bereft of jealousy is called “Nirmatsara” and hence he has minimal or no ego at all.”

Saints are the shadows of the divine. The supreme secret is very simple and pragmatic. We normally expect the secret to be arduous and testing the power of endurance in one. But the supreme secret yet profound is what Bhagavad Gita is what is repeatedly expounded in the eighteenth chapter of Bhagavad Gita. It is also seen in the ninth chapter of Bhagavad Gita.

“Manmana bhava madbhakto madyaji mamm namaskuru”
“Mamevaisyasi yuktvaivamatmanam matpraayanah”

The Lord says “Oh Arjuna! Fix your mind on me. Be my devotee. Perform all your actions as a joyous offering to me.  Salute me with reverence. Take me as your ultimate goal. Have your mind completely aligned to me. After doing all this, how can you then attain anything or anybody but me Oh Arjuna!”. This is the supreme secret. Great saints like Sant Namadev were able to decipher this and follow this principle without studying the scriptures.

So the supreme secret is simple. It is to have Lord Sri Krishna as the center of our lives. So now why is the Lord calling it as a supreme secret? It is because Arjuna did not possess the attitude of jealousy.  The Lord can tolerate any bad behavior [negativity] in one but not jealousy. If we take Srimad Bhagavatam, the word Nirmatsara is used. Nirmatsara translates to jealousy. Srimad Bhagavatam is for people who are bereft of jealousy.

“Srimad Bhagavatam puranam ammalam yath vaishnavanam priyam”

It is also called as a secret [ guhya ] purana. Why is it so? Why is the supreme truth linked to lack of jealousy? It is very simple. Let’s take an example. A person is progressing in an arduous spiritual path which requires stringent steps that he needs to adhere and accommodate in his daily life-style. In this fast faced life, he is also very much aware that such hard steps are difficult to follow. He however looks at another spiritual aspirant who makes no change in his life-style and always sings the Divine Names of the Lord and reminisce his divine glories and enjoys the grace of his guru. The former naturally tends to become jealous by looking at the latter since, the latter reaches the holy feet of the Lord without much hard-work.

“kshipram bhavati dharmatma sasvacchantim nigacchati”

The Lord accepts a devotee as he is. If at all his devotee is not in the righteous path, it is up to the Lord to correct him.

Lord Sri Krishna has promised Arjuna that devotees who sing his kirtans and his glories, for people who completely rely on the Lord for their spitirual end in their spiritual path, Oh Arjuna, they should be regarded as saints for they have taken the right resolve. That is the very reason why Lord Krishna does not want to disclose the supreme secret to everyone.

There are infinite ways to infinite bliss. For people who want to make their life more complicated and dreary, I have shown them different ways, the Lord says. And that is the very reason he does not want to disclose the supreme secret to everybody. People who are on Lord Krishna’s side would accept life as it is. They would attribute the events in their family as well as in the world as Lord Krishna’s play. For that ardent devotee, the Lord will shower his grace all the time. When the devotee approaches the devotee, the Lord approaches his devotee. This is the crux of Bhagavata Dharma.

“Nirmatsaranam satam” – Srimad Bhagavatam starts off by saying that it is for people who are devoid of jealous [nirmatsara]. In the eleventh canto of Srimad Bhagavatam it is said that even if one approves of Bhagavata Dharma even without acquiring the knowledge completely.

One should accept the simple fact that it is Lord Krishna who is running this whole world and who is also managing individual’s life. So for the Lord it is indeed not difficult to bestow one with liberation. SO all one has to do is to perform deeds that charm the Lord.

The easy and pragmatic way to please the Lord is to chant His Divine Names and hear His glories by joining a satsang and by performing a loving service to him. Respect all paths and admire all people but adopt the simplest path of Bhagavata Dharma. It is very essential to understand that the Lord has given million paths to attain him. One should understand that we been bestowed with the simplest path. With that gratitude and love in our mind and by incessant chanting the Divine Names of the Lord, attaining the lotus feet of Lord Krishna is indeed simple.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gives us a simple formula. If we want help from Lord Krishna, then we need to say the word “HELP”.

Hà Humility

Eà Endurance

Là Lowliness – It stands for respect for everybody and thinking about insignificance which is lowering oneself.

Pà Politeness. Having universal respect to all paths and to everyone is very essential. One needs to admire the unity in diversity and aim for uniformity. Unity is universal acceptance and seeing divinity everywhere. Uniformity is brutally forcing everyone to follow one path. Bhagavata Dharma is not about uniformity but only appreciating the unity in diversity.

So when we incessantly chant the divine names of the Lord and also remember the four tricks (HELP), then one is sure to get the Lord’s grace immediately.

So Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says, if you want immediate help, then the elixir is to say the word “HELP” and also chant the divine names of the Lord.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says –

“Thrunathapi Sunnechena tharorapi sahishnuna”

“Amanina manadena kirthaniya sada harih”

Let’s see the beautiful meaning for the above sloka. “Thrunathapi sunnechena” translates that one should learn humility from a blade of grass. The incarnation of Lord Krishna teaches simple truths. Let’s reminisce on one such act of humility from Lord Krishna’s incarnation. This incident happened in Hastinapura, and a great spiritual austerity called “Raja Suya Yagna” was being performed. This great sacrifice was being attended by all kings, emperors and ministers.  A chosen few were contemplating as to who would be the chief guest of the whole event and it was unanimously decided that Lord Sri Krishna would preside over the function. Where do you think Lord Krishna was doing when everybody was searching for him? He was standing at the entrance where this great spiritual austerity was being performed and he was washing the feet of the guests at the entrance. Were the guests Sadhus, Mahans or realized souls? Not at all. They were ordinary kings who were considered the elite society but not in the spiritual world. Why did he do this? Because of the immense love he had for Yudistira, the other Pandavas and Kunti. When the Lord is beholden by love, he won’t know his stature, forgets his great personality and becomes so simple and humble.

That’s why Chaitanya Mahaprabhu advices everyone to be humble akin to a blade of grass. When a piece of slab is placed on top of the grass, it tries to grow on the sides of the slab and not by piercing through the concrete. It slowly finds space in between the slab and starts to grow in between the slabs without creating any disturbance to the slab. When there is a heavy downpour, an oak tree can be easily uprooted since it is resisting the storm, but the little grass bends down and respects the storm and lifts its head once the storm is over. Nobody can pluck a grass during a storm because it is humbled during the storm. When our Lord Krishna shows so much humility, where are we?

Don’t cherry-pick when doing a service. For the divine name chanting to take immediate effect, one needs to be humble like a blade of grass. We can get help when we remember the first letter “H à Humility” of the word “HELP”.

Then comes “Tharorapi shahishnuna, here “tharu” means tree and “shahishnuna” means Endurance” See how enduring a tree is.  Infact our Lord teaches this concept to all his beautiful friends in brindavan. The Lord takes all his eight friends [sakas] for a stroll in the forest. So as they were the midst of the forest, they came across an orchard. It was filled with trees yielding fruits. Later all these little boys started to pelt the trees with stones and the tree filled the hands of these young boys with fruits. Tree has responded to the provocation by these little friends and bestowed them with fruits.

“Hey Amsho Sridaman…subala arjuna vishaala rishaba tejasvin  devaprastha varoothapa “

Lord Sri Krishna calls his eight friends and shows them the beautiful nature of the tree. Look at how it is serving the entire human kind. He advised his friends to constantly do good deeds to others through their life, wealth, intellect and speech.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says one should not have a neutral endurance, but a kind endurance when provoked. He then goes to say “Amanina which means don’t expect any respect from the world. “Manadena” means respecting every path and every spiritual austerity, paying due respect to every dharma. One should not expect any respect but we should respect everybody. What a nice message!

If one possesses all the above mentioned qualities and does incessant chanting of the divine names of the Lord, he is sure to attain the holy feet of Lord Krishna. One gets the realization of the divine very quickly.

If we chant the Divine Names without possessing the above mentioned qualities, then it is the Lord who will make one humble, enduring and make one not expect any respect from others and make one completely polite and respect every creature in this world and he would eventually be a dharmatma.

The three dimensions of Bhagavata Dharma are Bhakti (love), Jnana (divine wisdom) and Vairagya (dispassion). Chanting the Divine Names is absolutely enough to being an individual to the state of completely realizing these three dimensions of Bhagavata Dharma. Hence it is called as a supreme secret.

Bhagavata Dharma is so simple and so we very easily miss the obvious idea. It is so direct that the mind cannot understand.  Bhagavata Dharma is all about placing Lord Krishna in the center of our heart, dispelling the ego centric thoughts of our thoughts and actions.  In order to get into this mode, one should perform incessant chanting of the divine names of the Lord. Bhagavata Dharma is all about the Lord coming to us instead of we going to the Lord. Such is the simplicity and directness of this path.

The satsang ended with prayers and Namasankirtan.