Return to: Vahini.org
AUM SRI SAI RAM
Courtesy: Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust, Prasanthi Nilayam
SRIMAD BHAGAVATHAM SAPTAAHA YAJNAM
March 17-23 2010
Prashanthi Nilayam - Puttaparthi - India
INAUGURAL SESSION: 17-3-2010 - FIRST DAY
SUMMARY OF 2nd SESSION - EVE 17 MAR - FIRST DAY
SUMMARY OF 3rd SESSION - MOR 18 MAR - SECOND DAY
SUMMARY OF 4th SESSION - EVE 18 MAR - SECOND DAY
SUMMARY OF 5th SESSION - MOR 19 MAR - THIRD DAY
SUMMARY OF 6th SESSION - EVE 19 MAR - THIRD DAY
SUMMARY OF 7th SESSION - MOR 20 MAR - FOURTH DAY
SUMMARY OF 8th SESSION - EVE 20 MAR - FOURTH DAY
SUMMARY OF 9th SESSION - MOR 21 MAR - FIFTH DAY
SUMMARY OF 10th SESSION - EVE 21 MAR - FIFTH DAY
SUMMARY OF 11th SESSION - MOR 22 MAR - DAY 6 MORNING
SUMMARY OF 12th SESSION - EVE 22 MAR - DAY 6 EVENING
SUMMARY OF 13th SESSION - MOR 23 MAR - DAY 7
SUMMARY OF 14th SESSION - EVE 23 MAR - FINAL SESSION
BHAGAVATHA SATAAHAM REFLECTIONS 31 MAR 2010
INAUGURAL SESSION: 17-3-2010
Srimad Bhagavatham is one of the most sacred and important of the Puranas present. It is considered as the Mahapurana amongst the 18 Puranaas.
The very word Bhagavatham means Song about the Lord, who is filled with Bhaga or aishwaryaas or auspicious qualities (astha aishwaryaas). Bhagavatham is not a mere epic that speaks just about the Lord and His leelas or plays, but it is an epic in which one can find the ultimate reality embedded in the form of stories. Each of the chapter in Bhagavatham, each story in the Bhagavatham has some deep import to be told with respect to the ultimate reality of Brahman or Consciousness or Self – one without a second. This makes Bhagavatham a very important work for ardent seekers of the reality.
Srimad Bhagavatham has a total of 18000 slokas split across 12 Skandaas. Each skanda is further split into various chapters. These chapters have slokas which explain the ultimate reality through various stories, descriptions of the Lord, His sportive plays among other things.
Srimad Bhagavatham is in the form of a dialogue between Suta and Saunaka Sages. Suta was the disciple of Vyaasa to whom Vyaasa taught the Puranaas and Vedas along with his own son Suka. Suta tells that Bhagavatham was taught by Suka to King Parikshit in 7 days learning which Parikshit attained the immortal state of Self or Consciousness here in this world itself (before being bit by the snake Takshakan).
The Bhagavatha Saptaaham is famous and performed in various places (as Suka explained it to Parikshit in 7 days). These seven days the slokas of Bhagavatham is chanted followed by stories and commentaries.
Bhagavatham itself says about its purpose in the 12th Skanda:
Sarva Vedaantha saaram yad brahma aatmaikya lakshanam
Vasthu Adviteeyam tannishtam kaivalyam ekam prayojanam
In Prasanthi, it is His Story that is retold in His immediate presence…When Bhagavatha Saptaaha happens in Prasanthi, the audience is not alone the devotees, but includes the silent listener of all conversations, The One, who has embodied yet again in human form, Bhagawan Himself! …And here the stories are narrated in a customized style, without going by the slokas as given in Srimad Bhagavatham, instead going by selected stories from the epic with a mix of the story and mission of the life of the present Avatar.
On the scheduled morning, Bhagawan emerged at 9:27 to the chants of Vedam. Being the inaugural day of the week-long Bhagavatha Saptaaha Yajnam, Vedam continued even after the scheduled hour at 9. The proceedings for the morning began with lighting of the lamp by the Divine Hands, after which, the Pandit, Sri Ritu Raj ji Maharaj, and his escorts sought Divine Blessings to commence the commentary.
As a prelude to the Commentary, invocatory prayer was offered to Bhagawan followed by various other Mantras invoking various "Gods and Goddesses". Beginning his commentary with an intro on Bhagavatham, the Pandit attributed the epic to Bhagawan hailing Him to be the Soul of the Epic.
Maharaj began the story with a dialogue between Bhagawan Sri Krishna and His devotee Udhdhava. When Udhadhava asked as to how he could offer worship to the Divine form of Krishna after He departs from physical form, Bhagawan replies that by worshipping and studying the Bhagavatham one would get the fruits of worshipping His Divine form.
Further elucidating on the greater efficacy of the epic and the greater importance of the event happening in the Divine Presence of Bhagawan Himself, Maharaj in his inimitable style went on narrating the birth of Sage Suka and the story as to how he was endowed with wisdom before his birth.
Scene shifted to Sage Narada narrating the story of a woman and her two sons to the sages, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanat Kumara and Sanat Sujata etc., bringing in the symbolic significance, summarizing that Sage Narada was instructed by a celestial voice that he should take up narrating the sacred Bhagavatham, for that alone would help in reviving and restoring Bhakti, Jnana, Vairagya to their pristine glory.
Next to come was an incident that happened in the banks of Tungabhadra involving Atmadeva, narrating the birth of Dunduli and Gokarna, Dunduli’s evil deeds and atrocities on Atmadeva etc. Upon informing Gokarna about his travails, Gokarna brings greater wisdom by advising his father about the unfortunate family bonding, explaining in detail of the futility of material life, requesting his father to renounce the world and go to forest to and read the Tenth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam every day.
The Maharaj used a rare mix of Bhagavatha tales with the present day stories of Bhagawan and His ongoing Divine Mission set in motion for the greater benefit of the world.
The morning session came to an end at 11:05 when Bhagawan called for Arathi before retiring to Yajur Mandiram.
SUMMARY OF 2nd SESSION - EVE 17 MAR
With the Bhagavatha Saptaaham continues infusing freshness and devotion in the minds of thousands, such an event in Prasanthi Nilayam invokes greater interest, as it is in Prasanthi Nilayam one gets an opportunity to listen to the sacred stories in His immediate Divine Presence, an opportunity that even the 'hero' in Bhagavatham, Raja Parikshit himself was not privileged.
One could see a good assemblage of devotees, including devotees from overseas, thronging to Sai Kulwant Hall to sit through the complete session. The learned speaker exhorted: “Bhagavatha rasa ka pana karo…drink deep the nectar of the Bhagavatha” before narrating the story of Parikshit. As the session continues, devotees are drinking the nectar of the epic, often stealing glances of the Divine Himself.
In the first session as a prelude to the commentary, with invocatory prayers, storyline began with the dialogue between Lord Sri Krishna and His devotee Uddhava. When Uddhava asked as to how he could offer worship to the Divine form of Krishna after He departs from physical form, Krishna answers, "By worshipping and studying the Bhagavatham." Elucidating on the great good fortune of all assembled to hear His story in His presence Maharaj in his inimitable style went on narrating the birth of Sage Suka and the story as to how he was endowed with wisdom before his birth. Sage Narada is approached by a woman who is Bhakti (devotion) in reality. Her sons Jnana (wisdom) and Vairagya(renouncement) are aged far beyond the mother and she says that Bhakti is of no use without the sons! And so the remedy that sage Narada offers is the sacred stories of the Bhagavatham.
Next to come was an incident that happened in the banks of Tungabhadra involving Atmadeva, narrating the birth of Dunduli and Gokarna. Dunduli’s evil deeds and atrocities on Atmadeva form a important message as to what is permanent and what is not! Upon informing Gokarna about his travails, Atmadev finds great wisdom by listening to the advice of his son about the unfortunate family bonding. Explaining in detail of the futility of material life and requesting his father to renounce the world and go to forest, Gokarna tells him to read the Tenth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam every day.
The evening's theme centred around the saving grace of Lord Krishna which rescued the Pandavas time and again. The dying Kaurava prince, Duryodhana, requests Ashwatthama to bring him the heads of the Pandavas. As Ashwatthama plans to make a cruel attack at night, Lord Krishna advises the Pandavas and their sons, the Upa-Pandavas to sleep elsewhere. "Like the modern youth, the sons do not listen to the Lord and so they were all killed!", said Sri Rituraj. And then, as Ashwattama decided to direct the Brahmaasthra to the womb of Uttara to destroy the last hope of the Pandava lineage, Lord Krishna intervened and saved the child. The child was Parikshith, who was so named because ever since his birth he was on a search to find his Saviour! "All of us too must search keenly for our saviour for aren't we also Parikhshith? Are we also not mysteriously protected and nourished when in the womb?" asked the Balsant.
Read on the complete story that was narrated on the second session...
The first chapter of Bhagavatham begins with the conversation between Sage Vyasa and Saga Narada. Saga Vyasa looks pensive and upon asked about the reason for his grief and restlessness, the sage confesses that though he has written the Mahabharata and other commentaries on the Vedas, he still feels a sense of void and lack of peace of mind. He also sees that all the scriptures that he had written so far have not resulted in the transformation of mankind. Then, Narada assuages Vyasa’s grief encouraging him to extol the glories of the Lord, for that alone would confer ever-lasting peace and bliss on everyone. Thus Vyasa sets out to compose the Srimad Bhagavatham and gets it transcribed with the help of Lord Ganesha.
After having composed the Bhagavatham in a spontaneous and continuous flow of verses, Vyasa was now faced with another dilemma as to who would narrate it to the world? It was then decided that Sage Shuka would be the ideal choice. So, he sends his disciples to narrate the Bhagavatha to Sage Shuka, and Shuka later narrates the same to King Parikshit.
The next episode takes place in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Duryodhana has been defeated by Bheema and during his last moments, he is visited by Aswatthama. Duryodhana then requests the guest to kill the Pandavas, beheading them. So, Aswatthama sets out to the Pandava camp in the middle of the night with this evil objective.
Bhagawan Sri Krishna, the omnipresent one and the protector of His devotees, senses the danger to the lives of Pandavas and saves their lives with His Divine Intervention. However, UpaPandavas, the five children of the Pandavas are brutally murdered in their sleep by the wicked Ashwathama. When Ashwathama takes the heads of UpaPandavas and presents them to Duryodhana, Duryodhana does not approve this action. He laments that their lineage has come to an end, as his sons and that of the Pandavas are now no more. Thus lamenting, Duryodhana ends with a sad death.
In the meanwhile, in the Pandava camp, everyone is plunged into grief at the death of the UpaPandavas. Enraged at this dastardly gruesome act, Arjuna sets out to seek revenge on Aswatthama. What ensues is a fiery battle between the two, at the end of which, Arjuna overcomes Aswatthama to take him as a hostage, to present him to other Pandavas and Draupadhi. When Arjuna is ready to kill Aswatthama, Darupadi steps in to save his life. Though still reeling under inconsolable grief at the loss of her children, she entreats Arjuna to spare Aswatthama’s life as she does not want Aswatthama’s mother, the Gurumatha of the Pandavas, to go through the agony of losing her son. Then, as per Bhagawan Krishna’s advice, they remove the ‘gem’ from his head, thus depriving him of the honour of being a Brahmin, before setting him free.
Even as Pandavas are bereaved of their children they are struck by another tragedy. The Brahmastra that was earlier released by Aswatthama is now directed at the unborn child of Uttara, Parikshit, who is the lone hope being the scion of their dynasty. However, Bhagawan Sri Krishna assumes a minute form, enters the womb of Uttara and protects the unborn child. After its birth, the child tries to remember its saviour’s face and thus earnestly examines everyone’s face, and entitles himself for the name, Parikshit.
Bhishma’s final moments comes as narration, as he lay on the bed of arrows on the battlefield. In response to Bhishma’s prayers, Bhagawan Sri Krishna goes to his presence along with the Pandavas in order to grant him His Divine Darshan. A great devotee that Bhishma was, he offers himself in absolute devotion to Bhagawan Krishna and prays to Him to grant him the boon of witnessing His Divine Sports in all the Avatars to come. Thus praying, he breathes his last and his effulgent soul merges into Bhagawan Sri Krishna.
After the Kurukshetra war, Bhagawan Sri Krishna leaves for Dwaraka accompanied by Arjuna. The very first task that Bhagawan Krishna performs at Dwaraka was to enquire about his subjects, especially the poor people as to whether they needed anything. Devout people that they were, they replied that they wanted to have His Darshan and now their desires were fulfilled. However, everyone’s joy was short-lived as the time had come for Bhagawan Krishna to depart from the earthly plane. After Bhagawan Krishna casts away his physical frame, grief-stricken Arjuna returns home. Upon hearing the ‘sad news’, Mother Kunti immediately ‘drops down’ to death. A great devotee that Kunti was, she always prayed to Bhagawan Krishna to grant her troubles, for she believed that the Lord would be with her during such times. She did not want to live even a second without her Lord!
After having lost their Beloved Lord and their mother, the Pandavas arrange to coronate Parikshit as the King before they embarking on the “Mahaprasthan’ – the final journey from which there is no return. Young King Parikshit rules the kingdom righteously and in keeping with the traditions and moral standards set by his predecessors of the illustrious dynasty.
SUMMARY OF 3rd SESSION - MOR 18 MAR
This morning, on the second day of the Bhagavatha Saptaaha Yajna, proceedings began at the scheduled hour, at 8:30, after half-an-hour Vedam chanting. After invocatory offering, commenting on the glory of the Avatar of the Age, the Maharaj went on expounding on the greater efficacy of Namasmarana, bursting out with a melodious rendering "Sriman Narayana Narayana Narayana...", a keertan he quite often repeats in between the commentary.
Starting from where he had stopped in the previous evening, he further went on elucidating the story of Raja Parikshit, as to how invited the evil deeds of Kali, which finally led him to earn a curse to die in seven days owing to serpant bite, and the king's greater urge to attain liberation in seven days. Exposition also had the story involving the Varaha avatar of Lord Vishnu in which He annihilated the demon Hiranyaksha.
Every story in the Bhagawatham is unique and wonderful and it inspires devotion in the listener. But hidden below the surface is also a deep inner significance which enlightens ones intellect and lightens the load of samsara on one's head and heart! Hiranyaksha translates literally into, "Eye on gold" and it refers to the quality of greed. And the demon carries away mother earth to the nether worlds. It is so symbolic of the state of earth today! "Man's greed has taken the earth to hell!" And the Lord has come to save mankind from this deadly demon- Lobha or greed.
As the narration continued, Bhagawan arrived at 10:10 for a complete round. After an elaborate, slow round granting Darshan, Bhagawan came on stage at 10:23 and sat through the entire session that ended at 11:30, when Arathi was offered. Subsequently, Bhagawan called an Iranian boy, studying in Primary School...
He is Sathya, who hails from Iran. Swami called him to the stage and asked him to chant the vedas. He did so with great elan and confidence. He began with the Durgasuktam. Swami stopped him midway and then began to speak to the artistes who accompany Sri Rituraj's commentary on the keyboard, harmonium, tabla and the octapad. These artistes lend the flavour to the whole commentary. The background score blends in so naturally and gracefully and one is transported into the stories being narrated.
Conversing with these artistes, Bhagawan mentioned about the boy and his 'prowess on Veda chanting. Subsequently his younger brother, Rama was called on stage, who came running up to the stage. At his full height also, he struggled to come up to even the neck of our seated Swami! Swami asked him as to whether He knew Vedas. He nodded a Yes and kept looking at Swami. Swami patted him on his cheeks and told the artistes, Bhagawan continued with his "Divine Appreciation", a scene which Prasanthi had witnessed even before, for the boys...Swami 'introduced the brothers to Sri Rituraj Maharaj also.
Subsequently Bhagawan moved off the dais, and while about to return, prasadam for Primary School was ready for His sanctifying touch. Upon blessing the same Bhagawan sat through for the next more than five minutes, watching the distribution, Divine Mother was ensuring the each and every kid from the school was getting his and her share of prasadam.
Read on for the storyline for the third Session, on the morning of March 18.
The distinguished Sri Rituraj Maharaj started his holy narration offering his humble salutations to our Bhagavan and then sang a simple melody “Sriman Narayana Narayana Narayana” urging one and all to chant the names of the Lord in the present moment without making the folly of postponing it to the last moment of our lives. The sound and claps of our singing, he said, will drive away the evil traits resting on the tree of our personalities. Those ears that have not heard the name of the Lord are like the door of a cave – rocky, hard and lifeless.
That is why, the revered speaker said, “Bhagavatha rasa ka pana karo… drink deep the nectar of the Bhagavatha” and then started the story of King Parikshit.
A noble and virtuous emperor, King Parikshit was a Chakravarthi, yet he was kind and humble, and treated all his subjects equally just as the essence of the food consumed by the mouth is distributed to all the organs of the body in equal measure.
Like all ideal kings, King Parikshit was keen to ensure the welfare of his subjects by visiting them personally. And so one day while he was out in his kingdom, he noticed a disturbing scene.
There was a shudra - a shudra, the speaker explained, is really not the one who is low-born but one whose thinking is shudra or narrow. In other words, a narrow minded person is a Shudra.
So, King Pariskshit noticed a shudra tormenting a Vrushabha, a bull. He was inflicting pain not only on the Vrushabha, but also on the cow, which was next to it. What was more pathetic is that the Vrushabha was standing on only one leg. Perplexed, King Parikshit asked the Vrusabha, “Who are you?” And the bull revealed with pain that he was in fact Dharma Deva and the cow next to him was Bhu Devi.
“I am standing on one leg because it is the age of Kali, I have lost all my other limbs - Daya, Soucha and Ahimsa,” revealed Dharma Deva, and continued, “And now Kali in the form of that Shudra was trying to remove even my last leg.”
At that moment, King Parikshit was about to end the life of the Shudra but Kali pleaded a place to stay, and so, King Parikshit told him that he would reside in all places where there is falsehood, deception, violence and all the other evil traits.
When Kali asked for one more place where all these evil tendencies could be readily found, King Pariskhit told him that it was Gold. Where there is ill-gotten wealth, where there is wealth acquired by unfair means, there one would find all the other vices.
Soon after this, Kali left the place and the King returned to his palace.
In his mansion there was a crown, a beautiful golden crown, which was locked up for years together. It was the crown of Jarasandha brought by grand father Bheema after defeating that demon. Fascinated with the beauty of that crown, King Parikshit, removed the crown of Yudhistira from his head and replaced it with the crown of Jarasandha. And the effect of this action was soon to be seen. There arouse in the King’s mind the desire to go into the forest for a hunt, an activity which he had never indulged in before because of his pious nature.
And so, King Parikshit was in the middle of the forest chasing wild animals; soon, he was tired and thirsty. Desperate to find water to pacify his parched throat, Pariskhit came to the hermitage of Shameka Muni. The sage was lost in Samadhi. He called out for the sage once, twice, thrice. When his repeated requests for water received no response from the sage, the King lost patience and in a moment of anger, he picked a dead snake lying on the ground, wrapped it round the neck of the sage and left the ashram in a huff.
When Shameeka Muni’s son Sanghi learnt about this deep insult inflicted on his father, he was enraged; he instantly cursed Pariskhit – “May you die from the poisonous fangs of Nagaraj, the king of serpents, in seven days from now.”
This news was conveyed to Parikshit by Goud, a disciple of Shameeki muni. The King, on whom the realization of his cardinal mistake had dawned the moment he removed the crown of Jarasandha, accepted the terrible news with equanimity. In fact, he said, “I am already dead now as I lost my satwic nature.”
King Parikshit now handed over the charge of the kingdom to his son, Janamejeya and headed towards the banks of River Ganga.
A host of distinguished saints and sages gathered there to offer support and solace to the king in the last few days of his life. But each one of them said, “O King! Liberation is impossible in 7 days.” And then arrived on the scene, the most exalted and ever-young Sage Suka.
The highly noble Sukha who shone with the radiance of Lord Shiva, said, “O noble King, I can grant you liberation in a moment.” But King Pariskhit declined the offer and asked that he may be allowed to relish the divine leelas of the Lord for seven full days before he achieves the ultimate.
And then the King asked the revered Sage Shuka many spiritual queries, “What is the duty of a man who is about to lose his life?”, “How did creation happen”, “How can one attain God?” and so on.
The revered speaker, Sri Ritu Raj from here on described beautifully with songs and similies, many anecdotes that the highly illustrious Sage Shuka narrated to King Pariskshit to pacify his spiritual thirst.
One of them was the story of Vidura, who was always first a devotee and then a minister. When all his wise advice fell on the deaf years of Duryodhana and all the others in the Kaurava clan, Vidura preferred to remain in a small dwelling outside the royal quarters. And when Krishna came to Hastinapur as a peace ambassador, he chose Vidura’s house to pay a visit and have his meal because the Lord is bhava priya and not bahya priya. And so carried away was Vidhura with the overwhelming love of Lord Krishna that he unknowingly offered the peels of the banana fruit instead of the fruit itself to the Lord, and Krishna too, the sweet Lord that He is, accepted it with a smile.
When Parikshit asks Sage Shuka if only noble souls or scholars can earn the grace of the Lord? Shuka Muni says that the Lord granted the same blessing to Puthana as He offered to Mother Yashoda. Even though Gajendra was not a scholar in the least, this elephant too received protection and benediction from the Lord because of his sincere prayer and surrender.
After a few such episodes, the learned Speaker, moved on to the story of Hiranyaksha and narrated how the gate keepers of the doors of Vaikuntha, Jaya and Vijaya, were cursed by the four Sanat kumaras, the sons of Brahma. And it was to fulfill the wish of Hiranyaksha to fight the Lord as well as to save the earth from total annihilation that the Lord assumed the form of Varaha.
Following this episode, we heard the sublime story of the advent of Sage Kapila who was another incarnation of the divine. The father of sage Kapila, Sage Kardama was blessed by the Lord to have as his wife Devahuti, the daughter of King Manu. After this holy wedding, the great sage was immersed in Samadhi for 40 long years. When he returned from this supreme state, in a chariot he was gifted nine daughters whom he gave in marriage to nine noble sages. And after this, he prayed to the Lord, “O Lord, bless me with a son like you.”
The Lord said, “There is no one like Me… I am unique. I Myself will be born as your son.” And that is how was born the enlightened sage Kapila. Immediately after Kapila’s birth, Sage Kardama left to forest to continue his sadhana intensely. It was sage Kapila who then granted the highest boon of merger with the divine to his mother Devahuti.
The respected speaker Sri Ritu Raj who spoke for nearly three hours this morning in his fluent Hindi interspersed with many songs, telling and humorous anecdotes, in the end narrated the episode of Sati Dahana, wherein Lord Shiva teaches a lesson to Daksha Prajapati, who out of his ego and ignorance, dares to humiliate Lord Shiva. After cutting off the head of Daksha, Lord Shiva, out of His kindness, returns life to this king but with the head of goat. The sound of a goat who says “mee, mee” and the words of an egoistic person who repeats “my, my” are the same.
The Lord always comes to instruct us to let go the ego embedded in our personalities so that we become pure and humble, and learn to surrender at His lotus feet. For without Him, without His lotus feet, there is no refuge, there is no joy, there is no peace and there is no bliss.
Swami says it is these sacred stories of Bhagavatham which can purify our minds. These take us on this spiritual odyssey of Bhakthi to Mukthi and grant us the ultimate - which is cultivating sincere and deep love for the divine.
SUMMARY OF 4th SESSION - EVE 18 MAR
“Look Dhruva, if you want to sit on the lap of your father, there is only one way – Die and be re-born through my womb. There is no other recourse for you" said Suruchi, Dhruva's step mother when he attempted to sit on the lap of his father, King Uttanapada. Dhruva was heart-broken. Crying, he came back to his mother Suniti who advised him, “Dhruva, stop hankering after laps that are ephemeral. If you want to sit, sit on the lap of Lord Narayana Himself.”
"Dhruva Charitamu", the illustrious story of Dhruva after whom the Pole Star was named, who was the son of King Uttanapad, and who demonstrated great steadfastness and commitment to Lord Vishnu was the central theme of the fourth session of the Bhagavatha Saptaaham in Prasanthi Nilayam.
This was followed by yet another Music feast by the students of Prasanthi Nilayam. Starting with the meera bhajan, Payoji Maine Ram Ratan Dhan Payo..., what followed next was Darshan Deejo... to be continued with Purandharadas's carnatic piece, Jagadodhdharana AadisidaLeyshodha. A telugu piece followed before coming up with enna thavam seydaney Yesoda.... Three more songs followed, two on Lord Rama followed by the last piece, Thyagaraja's composition Siva siva ena radha... Arathi was offered at 6:40 before Bhagawan moved towards Yajur Mandiram at 6:45. Prasadam, "egg shaped Italian chocolates", were distributed to the entire assemblage.
Read on for the highlights of the Fourth Session held on the evening of Mar 18
Maharaj started his commentary by first offering His salutations to the omnipresent Lord who is present in the hearts of saints as ‘Bhava’. This feeling, he said, is that of pure and selfless love, that gushes forth as sublime devotion from the devotee to the Lord.
He said that the whole humanity is today fortunate to be undergoing an inner cleansing in the ‘Prema Ganga’or ‘the River of Love’ of Bhagawan Baba.
The learned saint reminded us that the Lord sends us to this world to be in the company of Suniti i.e. inner wisdom. But after coming to the world, like Uttanapada, the son of Manu, we break our promise of the womb, and till the tomb, spend time in the company of Suruchi- the ephemeral pass-time of the senses.
The son of Suniti is Dhruva – the unwavering and undimnishing. But he is denied a place, either in the palace, or the lap of his father, who is caught in the infatuation of his second wife.
The learned speaker reminded us of the great culture of Bharat where sacrifice and giving away is considered much greater than possession and accumulating; where the Shreyas or the inner path is considered far greater than the Preyas or the outward path.
Maharaj cautioned that it was not that people partake of the luxuries, but rather it is the luxuries that partake of people. This leads to a false sense of ego wherein, against the infinite vastness of the Universe, a poor man sitting on his humble cot in a small room, feels that there is none greater to him! This is the nature of Maya, he said!
On the other hand, the Lord of the Universe, when He came as Lord Krishna or Lord Rama or now as Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, is the very embodiment of humility, mixing with children as a child, with men as a man and with women as a woman – making everybody feel that He is one amongst them.
But that was not the case with Uttanapada and Suruchi. So when Dhruva came and sat on the lap of his father, Suruchi pulled him down and said, “Look Dhruva, if you want to sit on the lap of your father, there is only one way – Die and be re-born through my womb. There is no other recourse for you.”
Dhruva was heart-broken. Crying, he came back to his mother Suniti who advised him, “Dhruva, stop hankering after laps that are ephemeral. If you want to sit, sit on the lap of Lord Narayana Himself.” Blessing Dhruva to go to the forest, she advised him to tread the path to the Lord with determination and chant His name with devotion.
It is said that when we take one step towards God, God takes a hundred towards us. And seeing the determination of Dhruva, Sage Narada initiated him into the mantra of ‘Om Namo Narayanayah’.
Maharaj narrated his own experience when he unexpectedly received an invitation from the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations and his father told Maharaj – Sathya Sai Baba is God – Go you must, even if you have to cancel all other engagements.
Further expounding on the need of determination, Maharaj narrated a story of two sages doing penance for the vision of Lord Narayana. The first on knowing that it would take him another 200 years, gave up immediately, while the other on being told that it would take him as many lives, as the leaves on the mango tree under which he was meditating, rejoiced on the Lord’s assurance.
So Dhruva started his penance, living on fruit, water and air alone in that sequence. But when his breath stopped too, the breath of the whole world stopped and the Gods rushed to Lord Narayana, pleading with Him to bless Dhruva.
The Lord withdrew the inner vision of Dhruva and in agony, Dhruva opened his eyes, only to find the Garuda Vahana Lord standing in front of his eyes. The Lord blesses Dhruva by granting him the knowledge of all Vedas by a mere touch of His conch, and then lovingly asked him, as to what he wanted.
Dhruva said, “Lord, when I have you, what else remains to be asked for?” The knower of all, Now the Lord made Dhruva to sit in His own lap. The touch of the Lord immortalised Dhruva who is remembered with reverence even today.
Narada makes Uttanapada realise his mistake and along with him, the whole kingdom comes to welcome Dhruva, who is later coroneted as the King.
Once when Dhruva gets ready to wage a battle against the Yakshas, Parikshit asks Sage Suka as to how the tendencies of violence still remained in Dhruva even after having the vision of the Lord?
Suka replied that though Dhruva had the vision of the Lord, he did not sing His glories and absorb the nectar of His leelas fully through meditation on them.
SUMMARY OF 5th SESSION - MOR 19 MAR
Storyline for the 5th Session delivered on the 3rd day of the Yajna, Morning of 19th Mar 2010
Listening to the epic Bhagavatham, Raja Parikshit had two significant questions to Sage Shuka, the narrator. First one was, is there Arth in Anarth, that is, is there meaning in meaningless, the waste? and the second one was, is there Divinity in Selfishness?
To understand the import of these two questions with clarity, one need to have overriding wisdom, that, the world is a big stage and each and everyone is a puppet in the hands of the Puppeteer whose strings cannot be seen, the all powerful hands of the Lord. The Puppet who knows the Truth is realized, and is symbolized by “I”.
In reply, Sage Shuka had King Vena’s example, who had unfortunately mistook the “I” with the lower egoistic “i’, symbolizing selfishness. King Vena, out of his ignorance had ordered to install himself (his idols) in all the temples in his kingdom, preaching everyone to worship him instead of God.
Moving deep into the story, there is a contrasting episode of King Prithu, son of King Vena, who set out to perform 100 Yajnas to undo the damages done by his ignoramus, selfish father.
At this point of time, Mother Earth, assuming the form of a cow, had run away and the king in distress called out her asking: Oh! Mother! You are supposed to provide everything to everyone, to all the beings…why are you withholding? Mother replied that her children have become so selfish in worldly pursuits, and man is busy in abusing all that Mother could provide and thus she decided to withdraw. King Prithu, by the sheer power of his righteousness and dedication, propitiated Mother with devotion and soon kingdom started raining prosperity.
On the other hand Lord Indra was much worried at the whole of the developments that he feared that King Prithu by virtue of 100 sacrifices would become powerful than him. Recognising the plight, Lord Himself approached the King with a request to stop at 99 so that Indra would be at ease. King Prithu, who is the epitome of sacrifice, implicitly obeyed the command of the Lord that ultimately made him greater than Lord Indra.
The second story for the morning session was that pertaining to King Bharata. Bharata was the son of King Rishabhdeva. The King had instructed his son into the ways of the king and the duties that he should undertake, before retiring into the forest, on Vanaprastha. Maharaj at this point made a mention of the Bharata of Ramayana who worshipped Lord Rama in the “Nirakara” aspect.
King Bharata was a righteous ruler and had conducted his duties to the best of his ability before retiring to forest on Vanaprastha. Having renounced everything his mind was fixed in the Divine.
One day the King witnessed that a hunter was chasing a deer and the deer, which was carrying, in its struggle to survive, jumped in to the water and died at the other end, after delivering a fawn, a baby deer.
Seeing the helpless fawn King Bharata felt great compassion toward the deer, and he began to feed it grass and protect it from the danger of tigers and other animals. He felt compelled to raise the deer, and becoming affectionate the King would pet it and even kiss it out of love.
With this the king who had renounced his vast kingdom, got attached to a baby deer. Having developed deep attachment with the baby deer, the king had the thoughts of the deer even at the time of his departure that resulted in him attaining a ‘deer’ birth.
The new born ‘deer’ had the knowledge of its previous births and thus having understood the folly that was committed in its previous life, it remained near a hermitage and thus attained a human birth in its next outing.
The newborn baby again had the same wisdom of the previous births. Having got the wisdom that everything is in the hands of God and he is only a puppet in the hands of the Lord, he never spoke even as he grew up. He remained ‘inert’ and thus earned the name ‘Jada Bharata’.
During the time that Jada Bharata was wondering around aimlessly he was captured by a band of thieves and murderers who were ordered by their leader to search out a fresh victim for human sacrifice to the Goddess Kali, he being desirous of having a son.
Jada Bharata was a perfect physical specimen, and being a dullard appeaed no more aware than an animal, he was considered ideal. Doing whatever he was told Jada Bharata was brought to a remote temple of Goddess Kali to be killed in sacrifice.
According to their own fanciful way, the robbers cleaned and decorated the body of Bharata. They covered his limbs in scented oils and fine garments, which they considered suitable for the ceremony. After preparation, Bharata was agreeably taken before the Goddess. He was made to sit before the statue of the Goddess while the robbers sounded music and tossed flowers.
Then the priest amongst the thieves was ready to offer the blood of this man-animal to Goddess Kali and taking a consecrated sword he raised the sharp blade above his head, ready to decapitate the great soul known as Jada Bharata…
Seeing the great devotee, Jada Bharata kneeling before Her about to be sacrificed the Goddess Kali became infuriated. The Idol of the Goddess cracked open and the Goddess Kali Herself emerged seething with anger. Her eyes burned like fire, her teeth were like fangs, and she appeared in a horrific form, as if to destroy the entire creation.
The Goddess sprang forth from the altar and snatching the sacrificial sword from the evil priest, she immediately slaughtered all the thieves, chopping off their heads and limbs. With blood spurting from the dismembered bodies of the dacoits the Goddess drank Her fill, and becoming intoxicated she began to play with the severed heads like a child plays with toys. The associates of the Goddess also appeared on the scene and drank the remaining blood. Then they began singing loudly and dancing with such force as if to crush the Earth beneath their feet. Such is the fate of anyone harming a pure devotee.
Later, at another place, a certain King of Sindhu and Sauvira named King Rahugana was being carried in a palanquin amidst a large procession en route to visit a great sage at Kapilashram. The palanquin required a replacement carrier, and it just so happened that they came across Jada Bharata during his aimless wanderings.
The King’s servants, seeing that Jada Bharata was young and strong, ordered him to carry the burden. Being attuned to allowing his remaining karma to expire he accepted the duty without protest.
When the procession again continued there was shaking of the palanquin because Jada Bharat would only step forward after checking the ground in front of him to ensure that no ants got crushed; this walking held up the other bearers and upset the palanquin. Agitated and annoyed, the King admonished his men to carry properly, and again they tried without success because Jada Bharata was in a mind of his own.
Finally, the king questioned as to why he could not carry the palanquin properly without allowing it to tilt.
In reply, Jada Bharata, gave a profound answer:
He who can be moved can be moved, but He that cannot be seen cannot be seen and He who can be seen can be seen and He who cannot be seen cannot be seen.
The Maharaj concluded the narration leaving the audience to ponder over the greater import of Jada Bharata’s profound answer that had an underlying greater wisdom.
SUMMARY OF 6th SESSION - EVE 19 MAR
Storyline for the 6th Session delivered on the 3rd day of the Yajna, on the evening of 19th Mar 2010
Sri Rituraj Maharaj started his talk with the definition of a Sthitha Prajna. He noted that Sthitha Prajna is one who is unperturbed by either the pain of grief or the thrill of joy.
He also noted that man creates a heaven or hell for himself entirely by his own attitude; true loss (Vipaththi) is when he forgets the Divine while constant remembrance of God is the true wealth (Sampaththi).
Then the renowned scholar recounted the story of Ajamila from the 6th canto of the Srimad Bhagawatam which highlights the prescribed duties of mankind.
Ajamila was a virtuous Brahmin living in the city of Kanyakubja. He was well trained in Vedas and had earned good name as a righteous person. Once, while he was returning home from the forest, he happened to see a public woman in the lustful company of a Sudra. Enamored by her, he gave up his duties to his wife and parents.
This story stands as a testimony to how circumstances and bad company can totally wreck a man. Ajamila changed completely thereafter. He married this unchaste woman and to please her, he even started thieving and killing innocent people.
One day, a group of saints were passing by that village and they wanted to take shelter in a righteous household. The villagers directed them to Ajamila’s house as he was known to be a noble Brahmin.
But when the saints actually met Ajamila’s wife, they came to know that Ajamila was a thief. In spite of that, they insisted on staying there for the night.
When Ajamila returned, he was perplexed about their presence. But his wife allowed them to stay there and perform their ritualistic worship. It was the first time that an idol of God was installed in their dwelling and the whole environment sanctified by the presence of saintly people.
When the saints were finally about to leave, they requested the lady to name their next son as “Narayana”.
A son was born and being the youngest, “Narayana” was very dear to both the parents. When it was finally time for Ajamila’s death, as the Yamadoots approached, Ajamila called out to his son Narayana. Though the child could not respond, the compassionate Lord did. Since Ajamila seemingly remembered Lord Narayana’s name in his final moments, Vishnudoots arrived immediately and prevented Yama’s attendants from taking Ajamila to hell.
When the Yamadoots reported this apparent violation of the righteous code to Yama Dharma, he explained to them that Ajamila had atoned for all his sins the moment he uttered the Divine name. He also chided them that rules couldnot bind the One who has created the entire cosmos.
At this point, Ajamila realized his folly and the unconditional Grace of the Lord that had rescued him in spite of all his sins. He gave up his negative tendencies and immersed himself in Sadhana to attain the Lotus Feet of Hari.
The noted speaker went on to narrating the story of Vritrasura. Viswaroopa, the son of Thwashta Prajapati, was slayed by Indra for stealing a portion of the sacred offerings. Twashta, then performed a sacrifice to get a son who would take revenge, killing Indra. As Twashta did not chant the mantra correctly, he instead begot a son Vritra who would be killed by Indra.
When Vritra realized that Indra’s weapon Vajra, actually embodied the prowess of Narayana because of the penance of Dadhîci, he invited Indra to use it. Vritrasura prayed: “Just like a small bird looking for its mother, just like a calf being hungry looking for the udder, just like a wife waiting for her husband, just as eager is my mind to see You, O lotus-eyed One.” When he was finally struck by Indra, a light emanated and merged in Lord Narayana. Indra got back the ruler ship of the heaven, but it was Vritra’s victory which was greater as he won over the Lord’s heart.
At this juncture, the speaker also highlighted the purity and devotion of the boatman who requested Lord Rama to allow him to wash His Divine Feet. Kevat said that while he ferries people across the river, Lord Rama helps them cross the ocean of Sansara – hence, both of them belong to the same profession!
Then, through an anecdote related to Emperor Akbar and Tansen, Maharaj Ji also brought forth the sweetness of Lord’s name. As Akbar stood puzzled at the melody in Haridas’s voice, Tansen explained that the difference lies in the fact that while Tansen sang for the Emperor of Delhi, Haridas sang for the Lord of the entire Universe!
SUMMARY OF 7th SESSION - MOR 20 MAR
Storyline for the 7th Session delivered on the 4th day of the Yajna, on the morning of 20th Mar 2010
The Bhagavatam is as much the story of devotees of the Lord as it is of the Lord Himself. This was the primary theme of this morning’s talk by Maharaj Ji – how the devotees of the Lord in various ways won His Grace, earning His protection and their redemption.
The first story that was related by Maharaj Ji was that of Hiranyakasipu. It illustrates an interesting dimension of the Love that the Lord has for His creation – His Grace is showered on anyone who remembers Him, be it with Love or in rare cases, with a feeling of enmity – it is the intensity with which the person cries out to the Lord that matters.
Hiranyakasipu was the brother of Hiranyaksha who had earlier been vanquished by the Varaha Avatar of Lord Narayana. So, Hiranyakasipu was looking for an opportunity to avenge his brother’s death. His mind was thus always occupied with thoughts of Lord Narayana. By his severe austerities he earned a boon from Lord Brahma that he would not be killed by man or beast, during day or night, in any of the twelve months, by any weapon, neither inside a dwelling nor outside, neither on ground nor in the sky.
Meanwhile, Indra kidnapped Hiranyakasipu’s wife Kayadhu, who was then in the family way, as he feared that the son of Hiranyakasipu would be a stronger adversary than the father. But Sage Narada counselled Indra and released Kayadhu and gave her shelter in his ashram for some time. This was all part of the divine plan as it was here that the unborn child who was later to be known as Prahlada learnt his first lessons on devotion to Lord Narayana.
After his wife’s return, Hiranyakasipu waged war with Indra and drove him out of Swarga Loka. In his reign, he decreed that henceforth only he would be worshipped as the Lord of the Universe. The child Prahlada was also taught this at the ashram by the sons of Sukracharya – Chanda and Amarka. However, he constantly taught the residents of the ashram that his father was a mere mortal, it is Lord Narayana who was the true Lord of the Universe. When word reached Hiranyakasipu of his son’s blasphemous acts, he is livid with rage and orders his death. But try as the sentries of Hiranyakasipu may – they tried to burn him, drown him in the sea, threw him off a mountain, attempted to poison him - they failed to harm him. At last his father challenged him to show him where Lord Narayana was. Prahlada answered that he resided everywhere, even in a pillar. The time had now come for Hiranyakasipu to meet his Maker and as he rushed in anger towards the pillar, the pillar ripped open and there emerged a Man-Lion form, terrible to behold. Lord Narayana had come in the form of Narasimha to save Prahlada. Roaring and thundering, He laid Hiranyakasipu across his lap and proceeded to tear open his entrails with his claws. The boon had become ineffective as this was the thirteenth month of the lunar calendar, Purushottham, his adversary was neither man nor beast, it was the twilight time and Narasimha sat on the threshold of the house, neither inside nor outside, and used his claws which were not weapons.
So terrible was Lord Narasimha’s anger that Lakshmi Devi, Lord Brahma and Indra all were afraid to approach him. But it was the child Prahlada who stood there unafraid and calmed the Lord with his pleas for mercy for giving him this much trouble. The Lord blessed Prahlada with the boon of unending devotion for Him and to this day is remembered as one of the Lord’s foremost devotees.
The next story that was narrated was that of Gajendra Moksha. The story illustrated the point that there was only one person in this world who was worth loving with all our being, and that is the Lord, as it is He who always stood by us, when even all our family, progeny and friends desert us. Gajendra was the head of a large herd of elephants. As is their wont, they were enjoying their bath in the cool waters of a lake beside the Trikuta mountain. They were unaware that in that placid lake, there lurked a crocodile ready to prey on them. The crocodile locked its jaws around Gajendra’s leg. At first Gajendra did not realize this. At this stage Maharaj Ji remarked that this was very analogous to how death always crept upon us. But, we are blithely unaware of this and continue indulging in worldly pursuits. There ensued a gruesome fight between Gajendra and the crocodile as the crocodile tries to drag the elephant under water. Gajendra’s wives, his sons, all try to extricate him, but after a while give up on him. He realized at this stage that the very people whom he had worked so hard for all his life, were now forsaking him. With that, he cried out to the Lord in desperation. The Lord responded, for as it is said, for those who have no refuge in the world, it is the Lord who is their protector. Lord Narayana sent his Sudarshana Chakra and thus Gajendra was saved from the jaws of death. The crocodile too earned immortality for it died at the hands of the Lord Himself.
The story of emperor Bali, grandson of Prahlada, which was narrated next, spoke of the devotion the emperor had for Lord Narayana. Mahabali though born an Asura was well known for his generosity and fairness. He usurped the Swarga Loka and began to perform a sacrifice under the guidance of his preceptor Sukracharya. The devas approached Lord Vishnu to save them. Lord Vishnu then took on the form of a young Brahmin boy with a begging bowl and carrying an umbrella. He entered the venue of the yagna. The effulgent form of this young lad attracted Mahabali and he proceeded to welcome him. He asked him what it was that he sought and promised him whatever he wanted. All the young boy wanted was three paces of land. Sage Sukracharya immediately intuited that this boy was none other than Lord Narayana himself and warned Mahabali. But Mahabali said that it was his fortune that He who granted the wishes of all beings in the world was now seeking a boon from him. He declared that he would grant the boon and immediately, Vamana assumed his Cosmic form and with two paces, claimed the earth and the heavens. Mahabali then offered his own head for the Lord to place his feet. The last remaining trace of ego in Mahabali had vanished and the Lord, pleased with Mahabali’s devotion granted him the boon of immortality.
The story of King Ambareesha, who earned the wrath of Sage Durvasa was narrated. Durvasa in his anger created a monstrous form Kritya to kill Ambareesha. The Lord was incensed at this. In order to protect Ambareesha, Lord Vishnu sent his Sudarshana Chakra which not only killed Kritya but also began to chase the sage himself. When the sage sought Lord Narayana’s help, he was told that the Lord was bound by the love for a sincere devotee and it was only if Ambareesha forgave him that he would be saved. Sage Duravasa fell at Ambareesha’s feet who humbly prayed that the sage was his guest and so his life must be spared.
Maharaj Ji at the conclusion of the session narrated the story of Lord Rama’s birth in the palace of King Dasaratha. The name Dasaratha meant one who had subjugated his senses and Kausalya was another name for Prajna, the force of Consciousness. And it was in their conjunction that Lord Rama was born.
SUMMARY OF 8th SESSION - EVE 20 MAR
Storyline for the 8th Session delivered on the 4th day of the Yajna, on the eve of 20th Mar 2010
This evening’s talk was predominantly focused on the story of Lord Shri Rama. The Maharaj began his talk narrating the city’s (Ayodhya0 celebration at the greatest happening, the birth of the Lord, Lord Sri Ramachandra.
Among the four brothers born, Laxmana would always stay with Lord Rama while Shatrughna remained always with Bharata. All four would go for playing games at the banks of river Sarayu. On one occasion when Rama lost a game to Bharata, Laxmana enquired Rama, “Brother how can Bharata win when actually he was losing”. Lord Sri Rama, who knew the heart of Bharata, revealed the hidden devotion of Bharata. Rama replied that Bharata would never wish to win against Him. It was He himself who granted victory to Bharata.
All four brothers were attractive but the most attractive among them was Rama. Rama was a devoted son. Every morning after getting up, the first thing he would do was to take the blessings of mother earth, His parents and His guru. At this point of talk, the speaker explained the reason behind the tradition of touching the feet of elders, thus emphasizing that there was no place for superstitions in the Vedic literature.
Moving on to the story of Rama, Vishwamitra approached Dasharatha requesting help from Rama and Laxmana for protecting the yajnas being performed by him. Dasharatha, to whom Rama was so dear, was too scared to throw his young lad into this horrendous task of fighting the mighty rakshasas (demons). He proposed his entire army in lieu of Sri Rama. However, Vishwamitra was not to budge from his demand. Finally, Sri Rama and Laxmana followed Vishwamitra and protected the sacred yajnas from the wrath of wicked demons.
On their way, Sri Rama noticed a huge boulder. It was Devi Ahalya transformed into a rock due to a curse from sage Gautam. Just by a touch of dust particle from Sri Rama’s Feet, Devi Ahalya was brought back to life.
Sri Rama and Laxmana arrived in city of Mithila along with Vishwamitra. The brothers were so charming and radiant that the whole city was at awe at the beauty of the twin princes.
It was time for Sita swayamvar in Mithila. Great kings have come to participate in it and the list included even Ravana. However, none of the great ones were able to even move Shiva Dhanush, the bow of Shiva, which had to be lifted to win the hand of Sita. Seeing this, king Janaka was worried as to whether his daughter would ever get married. Panic-stricken, he cried out to the august assembly, “Are there no more men of valour left on this earth?” Piqued by this challenge, Laxmana began to describe the power of Sri Rama. Sri Rama calmed him down and then at Vishwamitra’s instance, he decided to ‘give a try’. The all-powerful, almighty and omnipotent Lord Rama not only lifted the bow, in His attempt to string the bow, broke it into pieces.
Being a true Kshatriya, Rama was not ready to bend Himself before Sita allowing her to garland during the marriage proceedings. Rama was much taller than Sita and Sita had no chance to garland The Lord without Him bending before her. Laxmana, upon observing this tricky situation, cleverly fell Rama’s feet, anticipating Him to bend forward to lift him up. As expected a ‘puzzled’ Rama bent down lifting Laxmana, and Sita, capitalizing the right opportunity garlanded the Lord to the delight of one and all. Thus concludes the sacred marriage of Lord Narayana with his eternal consort.
Time came when King Dasaratha decided to relinquish his duty as a king. He decided to coronate Rama as the new king. At this point of time, the erudite speaker raised a question as to what was Rama Rajya or Kingdom of Rama. The speaker opined that Rama Rajya is when all live together in harmony, like the family of Lord Shiva where all contradicting characters, namely, lion, bull, snake, rat, peacock all live together despite the oddity. Similarly, if human beings have feelings of love, respect and sympathy towards fellow men, then they too can live in harmony despite differences in opinions.
The news of Rama’s coronation reached Kaikeyi, who was too happy to hear it. However, in the company of wicked Mantara her mind was poisoned and she turned against Rama. The illustrious speaker warned us against the company of those who are always negative. He advised to keep the company of people who have positive approach in life and are always enthusiastic.
Earlier, Kaikeyi had won two boons, to be asked from King Dasaratha. Kaikeyi used this opportunity and demanded the two boons, the first one being, the coronation of Bharata and the second one, to send Rama in exile into forest for fourteen years. Dasaratha, to whom Rama was his very life, agreed for the former but pleaded to change the later. However, Kaikeyi was determined. In fact, she suggested that Rama, during his exile could do sadhana and attain brahma jnana. The speaker observed at this point of talk that sometimes bad people take the support of good reasoning to prove their point.
When Rama heard the news of His exile he was unaffected though He was to be enthroned. Rama decided to relinquish His claim for the throne and decided to go by what His father had bestowed upon Kaikeyi, the two boons. Sita too decided to join Her husband. Laxmana, the inseparable one from Lord Rama sought the permission of his mother Sumitra to accompany Rama into the forest. Sumitra told Laxmana that Rama is his father and Sita, his mother. He was advised to take care of both of them without any problems.
In the forest, Shurpanakha, sister of Ravana, approached Rama, being charmed by His beauty. She came up with a proposal to marry her. Rama directed her to Laxmana. While Shurpanakha is embodiment of artificiality Laxmana represented reality. They both cannot exist together. In the end Laxmana cut the nose and ears of Shurpanakha. The demons Khara and Dhushana were sent by Shurpanakha to attack Rama and Laxmana. But the demons were killed. When this news reached Ravana he got furious at the loss of these ‘mighty’ demons.
Ravana's wicked mind worked with a plan to abduct Mother Sita. His plan was to see that Rama and Lakshmana would be lured away by Mareecha in the guise of a golden deer from the hermitage; he could then go there and kidnap Sita. He conceived a plan and Mareecha was asked to execute it. Mareecha assumed the guise of a lovely golden deer and moved about in the presence of Sita. Sighting it, Sita told Rama: "Look at this beautiful deer. If we can catch it, will it not be an ornament to Ayodhya?" The episode symbolizes human weakness of running behind imaginary and temporary pleasures thus losing the eternal reality.
Hearing Rama’s voice crying out Laxmana, Sita forced Laxmana to go out to help his brother. Laxmana knew that nothing could harm Lord Rama. Mother Sita became emotional and angry and denounced Lakshmana of evil designs. Ravana in the guise of a hermit came to Sita seeking alms. He insisted her to come out to give the alms. Sita, not willing to disappoint a hermit crossed the line, thus falling into Ravana’s trap. The learned speaker observed that we too should never cross the line of human values or else we too would lose peace, symbolized by mother Sita.
While everyone grieved on Sita’s abduction, it was only the old devotee Jatayu who showed strong resistance to Ravana. In a fierce fight Jatayu’s wings were cut by Ravana and the bird fell to the ground. When Jatayu was asked by sages and saints surrounding him about his final wish he replied that he wanted to have darshan of his Lord Sri Rama.
Rama came to the scene to bless His devotee. Putting Jatayu on His lap He proposed give life back to him. However, Jatayu prayed that he had no desires remained and wanted to have his Lord’s darshan.
Though Lord Rama had helped Sugriva to retain his kingdom by killing his elder brother Vali, Sugriva had forgotten this act of grace. He was reminded of his duty to help Rama in search of Sita and Sugriva sent monkeys in all directions in search of mother Sita. Among all monkeys only hanuman was successful. Hanuman, upon reaching Lanka fought with the Lankan Army and got Meghanatha, son of Ravana as a prisoner. Bringing him to Ravana Hanuman advised him to surrender at Rama’s feet and beg for forgiveness. However, Ravana being a wicked one got furious, set fire to Hanuman’s tail. Hanuman created mayhem in Lanka with his ‘fiery tale’.
Before the Rama – Ravana battle, Vibhishana prayed to Rama as to how he was going to fight the powerful army of Ravana with the monkeys who fight only with stones and trees. Rama assured Vibhishana, and thereby entire mankind that victory is always on the side of Truth. The truth may face troubles, but ultimately truth alone emerges victorious – “Satyameva Jayate”. In the gruesome war that followed, true to the words of Rama, all demons got vanquished.
After the war, Laxmana evinced a desire to see the beautiful golden city of Lanka. Here Rama declared, “Janani Janmabhoomischa Swargadapi Gariyasi”. Mother and motherland are greater than even heavens.
Listening thus the magnificent story of Rama, Parikshit was filled with greater joy. However, he prayed to sage Suka to tell him about one who had saved him in his mother’s womb even before his birth i.e. Lord Shri Krishna.
Kamsa loved his sister Devaki very much. But when on the day of Devaki’s marriage, he heard a prophecy that Devaki’s son-to-be-born would kill him. An enraged Kamsa was even ready to kill his beloved sister. However, on interference from sage Narada, he agreed to kill only the children of Devaki. He imprisoned Devaki and her husband Vasudeva. One after other, he killed six sons of Devaki and Vasudeva. The seventh son was the incarnation of Sheshnag himself. He was transported to the womb of Rohini in Gokul. Finally as the 8th son, Lord Narayana himself incarnated. In the prison, He granted His parents darshan of the Lord in the form with four hands. Devaki prayed to Him to take the form of a baby whom she could fondle with motherly love.
The one who saved everyone from the prison of samsara was born in the prison as Krishna in the midnight as promised to moon during Rama Avatar. When Vasudeva was crossing Yamuna with baby Krishna on his head, Yamuna desired to have darshan of little Krishna. Knowing that this act of Yamuna would drown Vasudeva, Krishna puts his tiny foot out of basket for Yamuna to take His blessings.
When Kamsa came to prison he found a girl child who was in reality an incarnation of Devi herself. He slammed the child on to the walls, but was petrified to see the girl changing into form of goddess Bhagawati who announced the birth of the One who would annihilate him. The Goddess also revealed that the Godly Child has already reached the safest destination. Threatening thus she disappeared. Seeing all this, Kamsa got frightened.
In Gokul, there was excitement about the new born child of Nanda and Yashoda. All were eager to know whether the new born was a boy child or a girl child. The news of the little one’s birth was disseminated. …And the whole city sang good wishes to the Lucky “Divine Parents”.
SUMMARY OF 9th SESSION - MOR 21 MAR - FIFTH DAY
Storyline for the 9th Session delivered on the 4th day of the Yajna, on the morning of 21st Mar 2010
The 5th day of Srimad Bhagavatha Saptaham commenced with the 10th Skanda, which is dedicated to Lord Sri Krishna, describing His Divine leelas that depicts the mischievous child who steals the butter; the godlike child who holds the entire universe within Himself; the boy who can slay demons and move an entire mountain with one finger; the cowherd who is the love of all the gopikas, making them leave all their duties to follow Him.
This morning, Maharajji began his narrative, by describing how ‘Devatas’, approached Sage Shuka and requested him, to grant them the rare opportunity of listening to the Bhagavata purana. In return, they were ready to part with the Amritam, an offer Sage Shuka refused without further consideration. The Sage said, “In this Kaliyuga, it is only the Divine name that will ensure true salvation. The key to liberation lies in the exposition of glorious leelas of our Lord”.
Parikshit had a special affection towards Lord Krishna because it was He who had saved him during his birth. Right from his birth, Parikshit was searching for his Saviour, doing pareeksha or scanning the face of people who would come to see him.
Krishna had come for the destruction of the evil at the time of Dwapara, protecting the good ones from the tyranny of the wicked, as He did for Parikshit, saving him from the arrows of Ashwathama. This avatar of Sri Sathya Sai, has come for the refinement of the Samskaras, it has come for the transformation.
The erudite scholar went on explaining, the inner significance of the name of Divine actors of the Divine drama enacted, when the Avatar had come down as Bhagawan Sri Krishna.
Yashoda, is one, who gives Yashas or fame to others. Yashoda always used to live for others and never aspired for any credit or recognition. Radha’s mother’s name was Keertida, one who gives Keerti or glory to other. The names of both the mothers essentially meant that they had come to live for others, and thus God Himself came down to give Himself to them.
Gokul literally means, a refined Mind! Where there is no desire or Kama. Rama alone resides there. Gopikas symbolize ‘prayers’, the unending pining for the Lord, Gopalas represent all the noble virtues and sacred thoughts. Hence when the mind is refined by removing desire, when the prayers are intense, when one cultivates all the noble virtues, the ground is ready for the descent of the Avatar. It was in that holy ground of Mathura, that Krishna took Birth.
The glory of Radha’s name was then extolled. Radha is the Dhara or flow of devotion towards its Araadh or Krishna who is her adhaar or foundation.
Episode of Poothana followed, She was thewhom Kamsa had employed with a plot to kill Krishna. As soon as Poothana entered Krishna’s chamber, Krishna closed His eyes, which is symbolically explained by Sri Vallabhacharya, that Vidya and Avidya cannot coexist, just as darkness and light cannot coexist? In the view of Sridhara, ‘Gyana cannot tolerate the existence of agyana’. But when Poothana lifted Krishna on her lap to feed him her poisonous milk, Krishna considered her as His mother. Such is the benevolent nature of our Lord that He granted her liberation just because she fed Him milk, though with the intention to kill. One more missionary of Kamsa by name Sakatasura, who had assumed the form of bullock cart to kill Krishna was kicked and redeemed by Krishna Himself.
It has been the same story since ages, that whenever ane Avatar has descended, evil forces have always raised their hood to harm the Saviour of all. In this age too, those asuric shaktis are criticizing Him with their pen and speech, but since they are thinking of Him all the time even in criticism, they will stand redeemed. Such is the Glory of Lord’s name.
The Story continued with the naming ceremony of the Lord where mother Yashoda had invited Gargacharya, who had agreed to come secretly because he belonged to Yaduvamsha. He did not want to attract the attention of Kamsa on these two innocent children. Mother Yashoda wanted to test the authenticity of Maharshi Garg as an astrologer by keeping Krishna on the lap of Rohini and Balaram on her own lap. If he were to be a true astrologer, he would immediately recognize Krishna. The moment Maharshi Garg saw Bala Krishna on Rohini’s lap he went into Samadhi. Such was the intoxication of the Divine beauty, that, Mother Yashoda had to shake Gargacharya out of His bhavasamadhi and seek pardon for testing him.
The child of Rohini was christened Sankarshan. He was also named Balaram, the one with great strength because he was the incarnation of Adishesha who carries Mother Earth on His hood.
Then, it was the turn of Bala Krishna. He was dark in color so he was named Shyam. He was extremely beautiful and charming and so he was named Sundar. Hence He was called Shyam Sundar. He was also called Vasudev. Then Gargacharya told Mother Yashoda, “This child comes again and again in all the ages to protect Vedas and the Mahatmas, …all name in this world are HIS. What more names should I give HIM?”
The Annaprashna (first feeding) ceremony was conducted where Gargacharya prepared the Naivedya payasam himself and offered it to the Lord. The lord came crawling down to the naivedya and put his mouth directly into the naivedyam. At this Gargacharya chided Balakrishna for directly putting his mouth into the naivedya vessel and once again prepared a new naivedyam for the lord after a bath in Yamuna. This time Mother Yashoda was careful and she was holding back Krishna, not allowing Him to repeat his mischievous pranks. But the prayers of Gargacharya was so overwhelming that with the power of HIS yoga maya (mystic power), Lord put mother Yashoda into sleep for some time, as He crawled back to the Naivedyam, partaking it directly again, thus fulfilling the prayers of Gargacharya. The Lord who provides food for the entire universe thus partook the humble offering of Gargacharya, giving Him fulfilment.
Lord Krishna once playfully swallowed the Saligrama on which curd and honey were put everyday as abhishekam for worship by Nanda Baba, father of Lord Krishna. Shyam Sundar was sitting with a swollen cheek and Nanda Baba got restless seeing the Saligrama missing from the Alter. He asked Krishna to open His mouth and after bit of persuasion, He agreed, revealing the entire Universe within himself. Nanda Baba immediately rushed to Mother Yashoda to share this revelation to her but she dismissed it as an after 60 syndrome and that it was his imagination.
On another occasion many gopikas complained to mother Yashoda that Krishna was eating mud. When mother Yashoda told Krishna to open his mouth, which He did reluctantly, she too had the same experience that Nandbaba had. She saw the entire cosmos inside the mouth of Krishna. But with the power of yoga maya Lord made them forget these experiences, so that they could interact with the affectionate love between a child and a mother. Though there was continuous struggle between Lord’s Aishwarya or Divinity and Mother’s Vatsalyam or Mother’s Love, it was Mother’s Love that the Lord allowed to win and take over.
If Krishna is the Avatar of playful leelas, Sai avatar is an avatar of Seva, of transformation of sanskaras in the society. Sai Avatar has come to bring back the humanness in human beings.
On another occasion, Krishna killed Aghasura who had assumed the form of a python with its mouth open, which appeared like a cave. All the gopalas were tricked by this asura but who could trick the lord of all Lords. Aghasura was immediately redeemed by Krishna with a deathly fire that reduced him to ashes.
Even Brahma had a desire to test Balakrishna. He kidnapped all the cows and gopalas and took them to Brahmaloka. He wanted to see what Krishna would do. Krishna not only assumed the form of Gopalas and Cows for one full year, but also gave immense joy to the parents of these gopalas because it was Krishna who had become their children. Brahma was humbled and sought the pardon of Lord of the Universe for daring to test Him. The benevelont Lord said, ‘Brahma, mistakes may take place but don’t repeat the same mistake.’
Radha was one of the greatest devotees of the Lord. The redeemer of the three world was subdued by her devotion. The gopikas used to wonder, what made her so special for Krishna. It was her incessant flow of devotion towards Krishna that kept Krishna always captivated towards her.
The inner significance of Krishna’s breaking pot was also described. The pot was symbolic of ego, the pot of anger, the pot desire, the pot of attachment that we are carrying on our head from birth after birth can only be broken by the Lord. Hence we must pray to Lord Sai to come and break these pots of burden and make our head free to surrender at His Lotus Feet.
Gopikas used ask the Baasuri or flute, ‘Why are you given such a special place with Krishna’. To which the flute would reply, ‘See, I am empty from within. I have no ego. If you want to be His instrument, remove ego from within. Then He will play the Divine music of life through you’.
Maharajji ended his exposition on Bhagavatam today with the Rasa leela song which symbolizes the union of Paramatma and Jivatma, the Union of God with Man. The Union that results in everlasting and unending Bliss!
SUMMARY OF 10th SESSION - EVE 21 MAR - FIFTH DAY
Storyline for the 10th Session delivered on the 4th day of the Yajna, on the evening of 21st Mar 2010
It bespeaks of the mindset of the revered speaker when he began the evening with a bhajan tuning the mind of the congregation towards Lord Krishna before his exposition on the Srimad Bhagavatam. It set the tone and mood for a talk filled with Tatwa, the knowledge of the subtle. Sage Suka had specifically advised king Parikshit to pay utmost attention to the 10th Skanda of the Bhagavatam that narrates the story of Lord Krishna.
Referring to the Shad Darshanas of Nyaya, Vyseshika, Sankhya, Mimamsa, Jnana and Yoga, that represent the essence of Bharat’s philosophical thought, the learned speaker said all external appearances and experiences are transient and ephemeral. God,he said is a state of Total absence of Thought – that means the total absence of mind.
Everything happens for a reason. Even the advent of the avatar is the consequence of an intention of the Formless, Attribute-less, Brahman in his Attributed endowed Form of Eshwara. The lord incarnates to confer ananda on his devotees. As many forms as the devotee wishes. Forms are many but God is one. The avatar is the only principle that can affect transformation of the jivatma. All gurus may show the path, but only the Avatar can transmute human to Divine.
The physical form of the Lord needs a physical womb. In which context the speaker rhetorically questioned, “How great must the Divine mother be to give birth to a God Son?
Expanding on the qualities of the Chosen Mother, the erudite speaker narrated the story of Karmabai, daughter of an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna. Her father left on a pilgrimage and instructed his daughter to offer Prasad to Lord Krishna and only then partake of her food. Her simple, innocent, implicit love for Lord Shyam Sundar, was such that she was able to have the Lord of Lords, sit on her lap as a little boy and feed him with her own hands. Consider the instance of pure hearted Nani bai. In response to her prayers and the prayers of Narsi Bhagat, the Lord Himself went to offer nuptial gifts to Nani Bai’s in-laws.
Such pure love for the Lord is the hall mark of a true devotee and confers the first right over the love of God. The speaker opined that Great jnanis, men of wisdom and intellectuals like Panini, who wrote the treatise of Sanskrit grammar, the ashtadhayi are endowed with the gift of analysis and understanding. But not true devotion. Love for God cannot be attained through the intellect. When thoughts cease and one surrenders unconditionally to the Lord, God is drawn towards oneself.
Rani Meera, the queen of Mewad had offered herself to Lord Giridhar Gopal. When the populace of Mewad pleaded that she should return to the palace, she wrote a letter to her guru Tulasidas. He advised her “Lord Ram is your support, offer yourself to Him and all obstacles on your path will be removed.” She then approached her Lord Krishna and placed the query before him. Giridhar came forth from the idol held her by her hand and merged her into Himself.
Expanding on the quality of devotion, the speaker referred to the instance of Sant Eknath and Sant Tukaram. Both were great devotees of Lord Vittala. Sant Tukaram’s wife, a shrew, once told her husband to bring home a stalk of sugarcane. He purchased a stalk and was returning when he saw a poor man and gave him half the stalk. His wife enraged that her husband had brought only half a stalk hit him on the back with the same cane. Sant Tukaram went to Lord Vittala and thanked the lord for giving him a wife whose temperament helped him to learn the virtue of Vairagya.
Sant Eknath on the other hand had a very loving, understanding consort, who helped him on his path towards the Lord by arranging all the items required for worship and serving him in many other ways.
The speaker explained the common factor of Devotion – accept everything that comes your way as the Will of the Lord.
Another instance form the life of Sant Eknath portrayed his recognition of Purusha in Prakriti. Sant eknath wanted to perform abhisheka of Lord Rameshwara with Gangajal and so journeyed to Gangotri, collected the sacred water and reached rameshwaram. A few minutes away from the temple he saw a donkey in the throes of death. Faced with a conundrum, he chose to pour the sacred gangajal into the dying donkey’s mouth instead of offering it to lord Shiva, conscious of the Truth that The Lord is the indweller of all creation. He was immediately blessed with the darshan of Lord Shiva. God always blesses his devotee who is able to see God in his fellow beings.
Coming back to Vrindavana, The Gopikas were filled with love for Krishna. The revered speaker emphasized that saguna bhakti – devotion to the lord with form is easier than Nirguna Bhakti – devotion to the formless, for the latter is tough. One would have to traverse the path of ashtanga yoga – yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and Samadhi. According to the learned speaker, a misstep on this path could have harmful effects on the sadhaka. The simple pure love and devotion of Gopikas to the form of Krishna is indeed worthy of emulation.
The speaker then narrated the episodes of Kaaliya Mardhana and Govardhana Giri. Bringing out the inner significance of both the episodes as “destruction of ones ego is necessary for one to realize divinity”.
Kaaliya dwelt with his family in river yamuna poisoning the waters making them unfit fro any one else. More so, out of self interest for his own creature comforts he was causing undue harm to many innocent beings. Sri Maharaj pointed out three types of people in this vein. One, those that help others at their own cost – the mahatamas; two, those that help others and help themselves too – good people; and three, those that harm others for selfish gain – evil people.
Kaaliya belonged to the third category. A Sage had cursed Garuda Kaaliya’s natural enemy, never to be able to come to Yamuna. So Yamuna became a refuge for Kaalia and his entire family. After narrating the story of how lord Krishna entered the waters, challenged Kaaliya, fought, defeated and humbled the serpent king, Sri Rituraj maharaj pointed to the inner significance of the episode – destruction of the Ego. The lord danced on the hoods of the Serpent of Ego, humbling it. He then commanded Kaaliya to leave Yamuna. When kaaliya expressed his fear of Garuda, Lord Krishna replied, ‘your hoods are marked with my footprints. Garuda will never touch you’. Meaning - when a devotee bows down in humility to the feet of the Lord, the Lord takes him forever as His own.
The next episode was the humbling of Indra. It was the custom of the residents of Vrindavan to perform a ritual offering gratitude to Indra for blessing them with prosperity. Little Krishna convinced Nanda that Govardhan Giri deserved the offerings more than Indra, and Nanda accordingly worshiped Govardhana Giri. Indra enraged on not receiving the offerings sent powerful rainclouds to deluge and wash away Vrindavan. Indra considered Krishna to be an insolent cowherd and failed to understand that Krishna was in fact Sri Maha Vishnu. He was blinded by his EGO to the true nature of the Lord.
In order to protect the folk of Vrindavan, Krishna lifted the entire mountain of Govardhan on his little finger and held it aloft for seven days. Seeing their Krishna bearing a huger burden, the gopikas approached their menfolk asking them to help Krishna. The gopalas offered to support the mountain with their sticks apparently to reduce the burden and Krishna allowed them to help him. Bringing out the inner significance of this act, Sri Rituraj Maharaj pointed to the Truth that God as the in-dweller in all of us is the real doer, we are but instruments. God grants us an opportunity to perform the actions but is actually doing it himself. All the efforts of Indra to destroy Vrindavan were in vain. Finally Deva Rishi Narada made Indra aware of his folly and Indra apologized profusely to Krishna and brought with him the Divine Cow Surabhi. The lord being the ocean of compassion forgave Indra. The learned speaker quoted the poet Amir Khusro saying, those that drown in the ocean of love called God, are the ones blessed to cross it too. He offered a common prayer to the Lord to protect, guide and guard us for all time.
The speaker then narrated another episode from the childhood leelas of lord Krishna. On one occasion the cowherds while grazing the cows were hungry and came upon some Brahmins performing a ceremony and requested them for some food. The priests refused and the boys returned to Krishna empty handed. Krishna then smiled and told them to approach the wives of the priests. Out of their motherly love they fed all the boys and were blessed by Krishna.
The learned speaker then spoke of the instance when the Gopikas performed the Katyayani vrata. Each Gopika prayed to Mother Katyayani to grant her Lord Krishna as their husband. This desire was not to be interpreted as a physical need but as the spiritual yearning of the soul for God. The speaker then explained the true significance of Raas Leela as the union of Prakriti and Paramatma.
As a prelude the next morning’s parayanam which would be on Lord Krishna’s Mathura Yatra, Sri.Rituraj Maharaj concluded his evening session with a prayer to the Lord that we all find refuge at His Lotus feet.
SUMMARY OF 11th SESSION - MOR 22 MAR - DAY 6 MORNING
From ages together there have been many questions about spirituality which have made man ponder and search for the subtle truth of life. Questions like: how did the world actually come to being? Who is the creator of this world? What is the form of God? Is the God of different religions different? All these questions have been answered by the wise saints and seekers. The answers to these kinds of questions are the essence of spiritual knowledge. One such query once arose in the mind of Sage Narada. Sage Narada is one of the most knowledgeable and wise even amongst the rishis. He is considered to be the son of Brahma. Just like many of us who don’t consult any of our friends when we have any doubt while studying, we directly approach the teacher himself. In the same way Narada approached Lord Narayana Himself with his query. He asked the Lord: O’ Narayana where do you actually reside? Do you reside in this Vaikunta? Do you reside in the heart of the sages? Do you reside in the heart of the devotee? To this the Lord replied: Narada, I do not reside in any of the places that you mentioned. I instead reside in the heart of the devotee who is lost in the bliss of the namasmarana of the Lord. It is in this devotee’s heart that I play my flute. The devotee who chants my name with devotion, his heart becomes my residence.
Who is a saint? The Bhagwatam says: the one who is not affected by words of praise or criticism is the one who is a saint. Very often when we are applauded for our work of achievement that we have done we immediately begin to soar high and start dreaming of as though no one is better than us, and when criticized we begin to hate the person who does that to us, though that may be the truth.
On one such occasion, Narada was doing his meditation and the king of devas Indra began to worry. The Bhagwatam describes lord Indra as a person who is always worried about losing his throne, each time he sees some one doing penance, he begins to think that the devotee is aspiring to become the king of the heaven. So he tries to disturb Narada, but Narada is unaffected and finally Indra gives up. After this incident, Narada becomes very proud of himself and approaches Narayana. He says, Lord! today even Indra could not succeed in distracting me, so I have now become the greatest and got control over all my senses. I have even conquered the great Kamadhenu. The Lord in his humble way confers more blessings on Narada, but while He is doing so, He his making a master plan to kill Narada’s ego. As Narada leaves Vaikunta and is heading towards his home, he comes across a kingdom where he sees lot of festivities and celebrations, so he approaches the kingdom. This kingdom is actually created by the Lord himself. The king on seeing the revered sage approaching him welcomes him to the kingdom. The sage asks as to why this much of celebration and festivity around. “It is my daughter’s marriage, so kings from all the kingdoms around will be gathering for the swayamvar. That is the reason for this much gala activity”. The king then seeks the blessings of the sage, asks him to see the horoscope of his daughter and bless her. At this point of time the sage is no more seeing the horoscope, he sees the princess and a series of thoughts begin to run across his head. He begins to think; how long in life will I keep going around like this walking with a veena in one hand a ‘chakka’ in the other. How long will I be all alone like this in life just chanting the name of the Lord? Even the Vedas mention that man should move across the 4 stages of life, which are: Brahmacharya, Grihasta, Vanaprasta and Sanyasa. So I have lived enough of my share of life as a Brahamachari, it is now time I shift to the next stage of Grihasta. Moreover even the Lord is married and has a consort for Himself, so there is nothing wrong even if I decide to get married.
With this thought he decides to approach Narayana for His blessings. When he reaches Vaikunta, the all knowing Lord is aware of all that is happening, so He is smiling as Narada approaches Him.
Narayana greets Narada: Oh! Sage you seem to be very happy and what brings you here.
Narada replies: Oh! Lord, I want to get married, I have roamed around like this alone for long time. I have seen a princess and want to get married to her.
Lord replies: that is good news Narada, what should I do? Should I come and talk to the king.
Narada: Lord, no need of all that trouble, I can do the talking.
Lord: then what is it that you want from me?
Narada: Lord you have such a beautiful form, why don’t you give me that form of yours.
Lord: Narada all forms are mine, the fragrance from the flower is mine, the brightness of the sun is mine, the chillness of the breeze is also my form, the coolness of the flowing river is also mine, the depth of the ocean is also mine, choose any form that you want.
Narada: there is no form of yours that is not beautiful, give me any form that you like. At this point the Lord begins to think of the person who is dear to him, he remembers Hanuman. So now Narada enters the kingdom with full confidence that today he is going to become the Bridegroom, there will be no one who will even come close to him in beauty, since he has the form of the Lord. Narayana himself has come to the wedding in a different form and is seated along with the other princes. The princess comes out with the garland and starts walking towards the princes seated. Everyone in the hall, the other kings, the devas, the shiv ganas, are all watching Narada and laughing, Narada himself is also laughing because he feels that they are all stunned on seeing such a beautiful form and are thus staring at him. So as the princess is walking down, she is gradually approaching Narada, so Narada is about to get up so that she need not take the trouble of garlanding him, but she passes by him and walks away and garlands the Lord who is sitting there in a different form. At this point Narada is dejected and wonders how did this happen? How was he ignored? At that time one of the shiva ganas tells him to see his face in the reflection of the well, probably then he will get the answer. On doing so, he is shocked when he sees that he has the face of a monkey over his neck. To this he becomes furious and approaches Vaikunta. He approaches the Lord and tells Him. “I have asked you to help me, instead you made a fool of me, so I have come to curse you”. To this Narayana does not react, at this moment the princess walks out from a door. So Narada is all the more hurt, but before he can react and say anything the Lord asks the princess to reveal herself. When she does so, Narada is shocked to see that it is none other than Goddess Lakshmi herself who was the princess. Now, Narada realizes that all this was actually the master plan of the lord, to kill the ego of Narada, to teach him that he is not the supreme most being. Don’t be egoistic about your achievement; your success is God’s grace. The Lord tells that ego is born out of praise, position and money.
The gopikas had no ego that is why the Lord enjoyed dancing with them. Once even they were bitten by this ego that the Lord enjoys dancing only in their company. The moment this thought crossed their mind, the Lord disappeared. On noticing that Krishna was not amidst them the gopikas got worried and began to search for him, they then realized that there must have been some mistake on their part because of which the Lord left them. They began to seek his forgiveness and pray to him to come back and not leave them in this state. The moment they realized this and prayed for forgiveness, their sweet Gopala was back amidst them and dancing and playing with them.
On one such day, when Krishna was enjoying himself in the Raasleela, Lord Shiva was distracted in His Samadhi by the sweet sound of the flute. On hearing this sweet sound, He tells Parvati that He also wants to go and be a part of that Divine Raasleela in which Krishna is playing so mellifluously. To this Parvati replies, Lord please don’t go there, or else all the ‘Ras’ of the Raasleela will be lost. She also explains that Krishna is the only boy amidst all the other women there, so He cannot go because they will mind another man amidst them. So, if he has to go, he has to leave the snake behind, he will have to cut his hair and also make his beard. To this Shiva replies He cannot do so, because the snake is a dear friend of His and He cannot leave him.
So Parvati gives a solution that He could still go, but He has to be covered in a saree, must hide his face and also not to speak a word. So Parvati along with Lord Shiva, approach Brindavan where the Raasleela is going on. All the gopikas are shocked on seeing such a tall Gopika; they begin to ask Parvati who is this Gopika, who is so tall unlike any of us. So they ask the Gopika covered totally in saree, what is your name, but there is no reply, which Parvati covers up by telling, she is very shy woman she doesn’t speak to anyone apart from her husband. They ask her to show her face; again all they get is only a nod implying ‘No’, again Parvati covers up by telling that she does not even show her face to anyone else apart from her husband. At this point Krishna realizes that the person who has come is none other than Lord Shiva, so He begins to play the flute so mellifluously that Lord Shiva cannot control Himself anymore and begins to dance, during which the saree falls off. On seeing the snake around His neck, the hair locks of His and the muscular body, many of the Gopikas faint on sight.
The narration in the Bhagwatam takes a paradigm shift when the focus shifts from the Raasleelas of the Lord to His Rajleelas. The last part of day’s narration describes very beautifully the bond of love between the lord Krishna and his mother Yashodha and also the love between the Lord and Radha. King Akrur reaches Brindavan to take away Krishna and Balram to Mathura on the call of Kamsa. When he does so, the people of Brindavan deny sending Krishna with him, telling that by “taking Krishna away from us you are taking away the life of our land, you are taking away our very breath. We cannot lose our life to you just like that”. But after every discussion at the end it is decided that Krishna and Balram will be sent. The next day as Yashoda is giving bath to Krishna she realizes that this is the last time she will be doing so to her little son, so she is doing it with extra affection. When she is feeding him, Krishna tells her, “mother, today I feel more hunger as after today I will not be able to eat from your hands in the same way ” as He tells her this, she breaks down to tears and feeds him with more love. As He is about to go, He sees that the river Yamuna, the trees, the branches, the Gopikas are all dejected and in sorrow. So He tells to Akrur, please take me and go before I change my mind to stay back here because of their affection and love for Me. As he is going in the chariot, on the outskirts of Brindavan, He sees Radha lying across the road. Radha is in tears and tells” this tears blur my vision now, you may be the Lord of the world, but you cannot just crush the feelings of love and walk away, if you want to go to Mathura you will have to run the chariot over me and go”. Krishna speaks to Radha and convinces her, that He has to go; he has this greater work to be done for the humanity. He is the hope for all those who are suffering from the rule of Kamsa. He again commands Akrur to take him away before the love of Radha becomes the shackles of His feet. With these words he leaves Brindavan.
SUMMARY OF 12th SESSION - EVE 22 MAR - DAY 6 EVENING
Sri Rituraj ji Maharaj began with the description of the strategic arrangements made by King Kamsa for killing Lord Krishna and his brother Lord Balram. There were primarily two events organized, one Dhanur yagna and the other Mala Yuda or Wrestling match, with some of his strongest men like Chanur and Mushtik. The Dhanur yagnashala was well protected by Kamsa’s men. Lord Krishna and Balram went inside despite resistance, broke the bow and killed all of Kamsa’s men. Kamsa had suspected that Lord Krishna would overcome the first hurdle so he sent a completely intoxicated wild elephant to kill the two brothers who had arrived from Gokul.
Lord Krishna then asked the mahout of the elephant to move it away so that they could enter the arena where the wrestling match was set up. But the mahout refused to do so saying that the Lord had to fight the mighty mad elephant before HE could enter the arena. Lord Krishna expressed His disinterest in fighting a poor animal but after the mahout persisted, The Lord walked towards the elephant inviting the elephant to attack Him. Lord Krishna looked into the eyes of the elephant and smiled. He then held its tusks, broke it and flung the elephant more than 100 miles away. Lord Krishna and Balram carrying the tusks of the elephant on their shoulders walked into the field where Mushtik and Chanur were waiting for them.
Here Sri Rituraji noted that Lord Krishna tried to convince Kamsa of HIS divinity and immense strength by destroying all the demons sent by Kamsa starting with Puthana to Shakatasura, Aghasura, Denukasura and so onat a very tender age, but of no avail.
Here was a terrific battle that ensued between Lord Krishna - Balarama against Chanur and Mushtik and many other wrestlers. This was just another game for the Lord and HE finally decided to end it. Finally He sped towards the wicked Kamsa and finished him with a single mighty blow. Having killed the hands of the Lord, even Kamsa despite his enmity towards The Lord, attained HIS Lotus Feet.
Ugrasena was made the King of Mathura with immediate effect before the Lord decided to leave for the prison where mother Devaki and father Vasudev were lamenting at their plight. As soon as Lord Krishna heard HIS mother’s voice HE rushed to her saying “Mother I am here, your days of pain and misery are over, I, your Krishna, am here now”. Both Vasudev and Devaki were ecstatic and were filled with tears of joy. Lord Krishna then liberated HIS parents from the prison.
It was time for the The Lord to attend school. Sri Krishna and Sri Balram went to Sage Sandeepani’s ashram to earn secular education. They learnt the knowledge of weapons, political science, the Vedas and shastras. It was in Sage Sandeepani’s ashram that Sri Krishna met HIS dearest friend Sudhama. They always together, moving, eating, working and serving their guru together. After completing their education Lord Krishna asked Sage Sandeepani as to what Guru Dakshina could be offered to him.
Here Rituraj ji explained that Guru is the one who shows us the way. When a fully accomplished student prostrates at his Guru, the Guru’s heart fills with joy in expectation of a sapling that he laboured to grow.
Hence, Sage Sandeepani, who was overwhelmed, did not ask for anything. But Guru Matha, Sage Sandeepani’s wife prayed to Lord Krishna to bring her son back to life who had died in the sea long ago. Lord Krishna and Balram went into the ocean, killed the sea demon, retrieved and revived Sage Sandeepani’s son and brought him home as their Guru Dakshina.
The scene now shifted to the banks of Ganga where, Sage Suka who was narrating Bhagavatam to King Parikshith. He began to describe the routine of Lord Krishna in Mathura. The Lord’s life is indeed HIS message. Sri Krishna got up early in the morning in Brahma Muhurtha and completed HIS daily ablutions and performed Sandhya before the morning Sun rouse. Lord Krishna would greet HIS parents and Guru and before going out to meet the citizens of Mathura. Only then did He go to the Royal Court.
Sri Rituraj ji continued with the next episode and explained that Kamsa had two wives Asti and Prapti. They were the daughters of King Jarasandha. Jarasandha was one who did everything for himself. He even performed yagna or sacrifices for himself.
Sri Rituraj ji drew a parallel from the story of Sikandar or Alexander the Great, who had dreamt of conquering the whole world, yet at the end, when his death approached him, he asked his men to leave his palms open and hands facing the sky when they took his body in procession, to send this message to the world, that when we come into this world we come empty handed and when we return we go empty handed with absolutely nothing.
Jarasandha who was enraged by the death of Kamsa which had rendered his two daughters as widows, attacked Mathura seventeen times. On his eighteenth attempt he brought with him many other warriors like Kalayovana.
At this juncture Rituraj ji mentioned that in life, One bad habit could bring along with it many more bad habits, but it is also true that One good habit could sow the seeds of goodness in our hearts. Those who compromise their life’s philosophy and don’t stick to their principles and believe only in khana, peena and sona, (eating, drinking and sleeping) would get succumbed to their own lifestyles. He said that man has to live a life of constant effort to realize God in himself and all.
Lord Krishna during HIS battle with Kalayovana was in a mood to script another leela. HE started running away from the battlefield and hence HE is also called as RanChod, Ran means war, Chod means to leave. Lord Krishna then ran into a cave as per HIS own Divine plan. In the cave, King Muchkunda was fast asleep.
King Muchkunda who stayed for a while in the heavens after he fought for the Devas, was asked by Indra the Lord of Swarga as to what was his desire and that he would grant the same. King Muchkunda said that he wanted to meet his wife and children since it had been quite long after he had left them. Indra replied that it was not possible to do so. Because of the difference in time frame between Heaven and Earth, Earth has seen many more years and his wife and children are no more. So Lord Indra offered another wish, to which King Muchkunda replied that having fought so many wars he was extremely exhausted and wished to sleep forever, without being disturbed. Lord Indra assured that he could sleep for as long as he wanted and if anyone would dare wake him up he would be burnt into ashes. He also told the King that it was not good to sleep forever and that Lord Krishna would come and give him guidance for his future at an appropriate time.
Here Rituraj ji noted that it is only Bhagawan who can give boons and other demi gods can only give assurances. He also said that excess of “nidhra” sleep, “Tandhra” delusion and “Bhaya” fear are very dangerous. It is only Bhagawan’s name and Vairagya or complete detachment from the worldly that can give us freedom from fear.
Continuing with the story he said that Lord Krishna went into the cave where King Muchkunda was sleeping for years and hid HIMSELF. Kalayovana came running behind the Lord and mistook King Muchkunda to be Lord Krishna hiding there and attacked him. The moment King Muchkunda opened his eyes Kalayovana was burned to ashes. Then Lord Krishna gave the King HIS Divine Darshan. King Muchkunda saw that the entire cave was lit with blue light and the beautiful form of the Lord stood resplendently in front of him.
At this moment Maharaj ji recounted his visit to Rishikesh, Sri Sivananda ashram, when he had heard that Bhagawan Baba had visited. He said that he was overwhelmed at the great good fortune of Sri Swami Shivananda who could recognize Bhagawan as the Avatar of this age even when Bhagawan was very young.
He continued with the story where, King Muchkunda prayed to the Lord to know who HE was. Lord Krishna then revealed that HE was Narayana HIMSELF and offered a boon to King Muchkunda. The King then asked the Lord for Nirvana which means to merge in HIM.
After a while, seeing that there were constant attacks on the city of Mathura, Lord Krishna summoned Vishwakarma the Divine Architect, to build the city of Dwaraka in the western sea.
Rituraj ji further described the events that led to the marriage of Lord Krishna to Mother Rukmini in Dwaraka. Maharaja of Vidharba, Bheeshmaka had a daughter named Rukmini. Her brother Rukmi wanted to give her hand in marriage to Shishupala. Rukmini who had already given her heart to Lord Krishna wrote to HIM saying that she did not want to marry Shishupala and that she would end her life, if Sri Krishna did not come and take her away with HIM. Lord Krishna then summoned HIS chariot and reached Vidharba. When Rukmini heard the news of HIS arrival, she was overjoyed and sent word to Krishna that she would be going to perform the worship of Mother Gowri and Lord Krishna could come there and take her away with HIM. Rukmi, the one oldest amongst her brothers had other plans. He had stationed thousands of maids who were protected by thousands of soldiers, to guard that area. Rukmini prayed to Mother Gowri that she blesses her with marriage to Lord Krishna just as she has won Lord Shiva Himself as her husband. Lord Krishna made HIS way in a trice, through all that security to reach Mother Rukmini. The moment the soldiers realized, they turned towards Lord Krishna to capture HIM. Lord Krishna simply looked at the approaching soldiers and smiled. They were all mesmerized; each started describing the Lord’s beauty. One said look HE has beautiful curly hair, while one other said look at HIS lotus eyes, a third said look at HIS benign smile and the fourth said look HE is running away with Mother Rukmini. Rukmini’s brother Rukmi began to chase Lord Krishna. After a while HE was so annoyed with Rukmi that the Lord wanted to kill him, but Sri Balram stopped HIM and said “will you kill your own Brother – in – law on the day of your marriage?” So the Lord decided to give him a lesser punishment for all the trouble he had caused. HE shaved half of Rukmi’s head and moustache and sent him away. After they reached Dwaraka, there was a grand ceremonial wedding between the Lord of the Universe Sri Krishna and Mother Rukmini.
SUMMARY OF 13th SESSION - MOR 23 MAR - DAY 7
This morning’s Bhagvatha Katha started with Maharaji describing our most unique good fortune. Here we are sitting listening to Bhagwatham – the nectarine story of the Lord – where? In Vaikuntha itself? We must realize that the listeners are embodiments of Swami, the Vyas Peetha is swami, the narrator is Swami and the Story itself is Swami. When we shout out jai kar to swami we are in a sense conveying our gratitude to Him for all that we have received from him. We are not worthy enough to even thank the Lord and hence the jai kar. It must be loud and heartfelt.
Maharaj gave a beautiful allusion comparing the body to the govt. Hands are the defense minister, legs are the transport minister, ears are the information minister, tongue is the broadcasting and communications minister and stomach in the finance minister, and most importantly heart or life force or prana is the prime minister. Now, if anyone of the others namely hands, legs etc., resign, the government continues, but when the prime minister resigns the entire government falls. Hence the prime minister has to have majority and he compared the majority to chanting the Lord’s name. The chanting must be like ajapa – continuous – inhaling with Sai and exhaling with Ram. Sai Ram Sai Ram!
Continuing the Divine Story, he described the grand wedding of Rukmini with Lord Krishna. Rukmini signifed the jivatma while Krishna signified the paramatma. Their wedding epitomized the mergence of the jivatma with the paramatma. King Bishmaka, the father of Rukmini was present for the wedding however, Rukmi, the consort’s brother was not present. He was deeply irate that Krishna had taken away Rukmini as he wanted Rukmini to be wedded to Shishupala. That is what bad company could cause. Shishupala signified the mundane, the worldly. Keeping company with the mundane would only keep you away from God. As Swami says, ABC of life – Avoid bad company. On the contrary we must become bishmaka who prays that this Rukmini which is the jivatma weds ultimately to Krishna who is paramatma.
The people of Vidharbha were ecstatic that their daughter had found her soul-mate. They lovingly teased the Lord who has become their beloved son-in-law. So strange are you dear son-in-law, you have received the love of two mothers and two fathers; you have been a king and yet stolen butter from the pots of gopis….
The story moved along to Satrajit who was one of the kinsmen of Krishna. King Satrajit possessed a very rare gem called the Syamantakamani (jewel). The gem was given to him by Lord Surya and produced 12 mounds of gold everyday to the owner. Once it so happened that Satrajit showed the same to The Lord. The Lord was fascinated by it and requested Satrajit to offer this to King Ugrasena so that it would be beneficial to rest of the Kingdom. Satrajit preferred to keep it with him. It so happened that Satrajit’s brother, Prasenjit once wore the jewel and went gaming. In the forest he was attacked and killed by a lion, the lion was killed by Jambhavan and the Syamantaka jewel was taken away by him. However, Satrajit blamed Krishna as the stealer of the jewel. The Lord wanted Himself to be relieved off the accusation and hence set out in search of the jewel.
However whatever The Lord does has multiple purposes. He also had to fulfill the wish of Jambavan. As Lord Rama, Jambavan had prayed that he be given a chance to wrestle with the Lord. Lord Rama had promised him that in the Krishna Avatara he would grant him that opportunity. And coming back to the Syamantaka story, the Lord battled with Jambavan for 28 days and nights. At the end of it Jambavan realized that this was no ordinary person. He fell at the Lord’s Feet and the Lord granted him His previous Avatar’s Darshan. Jambavan was blissful with this shower of Divine Grace. He offered his daughter, Jambavati to the Lord in marriage. The Lord accepted this offering and brought her and the syamantaka jewel back to Dwaraka and returned it to Satrajit.
Maharaj went on to briefly narrate the stories of Kalindini, Lakshmana, Bhadra – all the consorts of Bhagawan Krishna.
The next interesting story was that of Bhaumasura’s or Narakasura’s. He had captured 16000 maids and held them under captive. The Lord heard their prayer and He vanquished the asura to release the maids. However, who was going to accept them. The Lord took upon Himself the responsibility of looking after them.
Once narada got a doubt. How was the Lord looking after all these 16008 ‘wives’? So he decided visit their palaces. There he witnessed a wonderful miracle… the Lord was present in each and every palace – He had taken 16008 forms! Somewhere He was performing sandhyavandan, somewhere he was resting, somewhere else he was having his meals so on so forth… the inner significance being that we too must experience The Lord’s presence with us all the time.
The next story narrated was the sublime story of Sri Krishna Tulabharam. Once it so happened that Satyabhama, lost Krishna in a bet with Narada. Actually she felt possessive of Krishna and wanted Him all for herself and The Lord wanted to teach her a profound lesson. In a bid to win Krishna back, Narada said that if she would part with gold equivalent to the weight of Krishna – she could have Him all for herself. Now a massive balance was brought and Krishna was made to sit in one side while tons and tons of gold were piled on the other side. The balance did not budge at all. Satyabhama was very anxious because, Narada was making the Lord to do all sorts of work – cooking for him, cleaning, sweeping, fanning and she was desperate to get Him back. All the gold in all of Dwaraka was brought and piled up, but of no avail. In that desperate situation, they approached Maharani Rukmini who knew that the weight of the Lord was not to be measured in terms of quantity of gold but quality of the soul. Gold was removed and chanting the name of the Lord, from the depths of her heart – she placed a single Tulsi Leaf in the balance and the balance had been achieved. Through this beautiful episode, the Lord taught us that He is bhavapriya and not bahyapriya.
Paundraka’s story too has some interesting lessons to be learnt. A king by the name of Paundraka was made to believe that he was the avatar and in his sheer stupidity, he had even made two extra wooden hands attached to him carrying the chakra and shanka. In the childish arrogance he challenged the Lord saying, ‘I am the real avatar, I am the real Vaasudeva.’ Abandon your name as Vaasudeva or else fight with me.’ The Lord was amused, at first dismissed him. However, Paundraka persisted and got into battle with Krishna. Krishna first cut off his artificial hands and showed him who He really was. Then the Lord with His chakra beheaded and sent him to yama loka.
This story also has a great inner significance. When we are intoxicated with ahamkara, it gives us horns – just like his hands… they are artificial and actually harm us into believing something we are not. In such times the Lord operates on us and takes away these artificial limbs showing us our true selves.
Maharaj went to narrate the story of Hanuman and his incessant chanting of the Lord’s name. The divine name had become a part of every cell of his body. When the rings and chains were being distributed, Hanuman wanted none of it. When questioned, he simply said that he did not want anything which did not contain the name of the Lord. He simply tore open to show the form of Lord seated in his heart. Hanuman symbolizes “man mein ram aur haath mein kaam”, Lord in the mind and His work in your hands.
Closing the morning session the Maharaj expounded on the monumental humanitarian projects of Bhagawan. Each of Swami’s projects has only one undercurrent and that is love – for He doesn’t see anybody as separate from Him. Their sorrow is His and their happiness is His happiness.
For those who feel sorrow, for those who feel there is no tomorrow
Don’t feel alone – for there is always Swami’s home!
SUMMARY OF 14th SESSION - EVE 23 MAR - FINAL SESSION
The final session of the Bhagavatha Saptaaham was exciting and had the climactic touch with Sudhama, Bhagawan Sri Krishna’s school time friend meeting up with His Friend and Lord!
Referring to Sudhama, the Maharaj said, for a person who lived with self-respect, who taught children Sanskrit and Vedas without any charge, Lord Himself would come to accept such a person, his devotion. Sudhama was poor, but would never relent to the King’s desire to glorify him with his writings, rather preferred to sing Bhagawan’s glory. Despite being poor, Sudhama would give free Sanskrit training to poor children from his area. He always believed that his friendship with Krishna should not take him to Krishna seeking any favours.
With children growing up, family continued to be in dire circumstances in terms of food, clothing and shelter, with mounting pressure from his wife, Sudhama was in a fix. Though he never wanted to go and take undue advantage of his “holy friendship” with Krishna, his wife’s relentless pursuit to go and meet Krishna was pushing him to the edge.
The Maharaj gave a sensational narration of the conversation between Sudhama and his wife prior to his setting out for epochal journey. His hapless wife, who never had any complaint about anything till that day, wanted Sudhama to go and meet his old time friend, as for the family, it was a “do-or-die” situation. She advises not to seek any favours, but cautions him not to refuse to accept if offered by Krishna, as their life was in His hands…Being poor, struggling to make both ends to meet, she had nothing to offer to Bhagawan, and thus borrowed two handfuls of rice grains, tied in a torn sari piece to take as an offering, to their beloved Lord.
Sudhama sets out with mindful of apprehensions as to whether Krishna would ever recognize him and whether he would be ever let in to meet his Krishna. He never wanted anything and kept on praying that nothing should be given to him, but recognize him, call him by his name…”Sudhama…”
…And came the moment…The Lord who was resting, upon hearing the name “Sudhama”, jostled Himself, rushing towards the entrance. Embracing the old friend, Krishna brought him inside, washed his feet, bathed him, and made him to wear new clothes, finally feeding him sumptuously. Ever playful Krishna wanted to know what ‘Bhabhi”, sister-in-law had sent for Him. After lots of persuasion, to a Sudhama who was still not relenting, Krishna tickled his old friend to grab the “love” offering sent by Sudhama’s wife. The Lord who would give everything to his righteous friend, ate two handfuls of the offering and when He was about to have the third one, His consort caught hold of His hand restraining Him from doing further, praying Him to keep something for Himself.
Sudhama continued to stay there for some more days before returning to his hometown. He was more than a satisfied person as his final desire had been fulfilled. Upon reaching his hometown he could not locate his mini-hut, but could see big palatial building in its place. …He could not even recognize his wife and children as everything has undergone sea of change.
Sudhama, who was derisively called Kuchela by all as he was always wearing clothes in tatters and ever entertained only one concern, His selfless Love for Bhagawan Sri Krishna, is the recipient of Divine Blessings. To an astonished Sudhama his wife says, he who gives by seeking he is human and He who gives without asking, He is Bhagawan!
Raja Parikshit heard the entire Bhagavatham and it was time for him to leave as per the ‘curse’. Sri Shuka, upon listening to the nectarous stories for seven days, as advised by Sri Shuka, left his mortal coil through Pranayama, by releasing his “life-force” through Sahasrara Chakra, the seventh energy channel. Takshak came and touched the body and it turned into ashes.
In an emotional final narration, the Maharaj offered the entire seven days’ Saptaaha Yajna at the Feet of “Divine Parents” of Bhagawan, Mother Easwaramma and Pedda Vankamma Raju, whom he credited to bring The Divine Form into physical frame. Opining his simplicity and greater good fortune, the Maharaj went on further telling that, the preceptor of the Devas, Brihaspathi himself would have come at Bhagawan’s command, but Bhagawan has chosen him, bestowing upon him the opportunity, a unique opportunity that redeems many a birth. Offering “Koti Koti Pranams”, millions upon millions of salutations, the Maharaj prayed for Divine Forgiveness for any errors that he would have committed, most inadvertently.
Talking about the bliss that he was enjoying, the Maharaj said, even liberation would not grant you this feeling that he was enjoying. How the Lord recognized Sudhama, similarly Bhagawan should recognize him also… (all who assembled). Offering the entire Saptaaham to the Feet of “Divine Parents” Sai Gayathri was changed, en mass, five times before bringing the curtain down.
Earlier the session began with usual invocations and offerings the Maharaj hailed the epic to be a rarity, a phenomenal story as nowhere else one could find any such reference like the epic, which would happen in every age…Bhagavatham is the means to reach Vaikunta, but in the immediate Divine Presence of Bhagawan the Bhagavatham is happening in Vaikunta itself.
Man emerges from God and finally merges in Him alone. God comes in every age. Quoting the Gita verse,
mam ekam saranam vraja
ahm tvan sarva- papebhyo
moksayisyami ma suchah
meaning, all forms of different religions and self-imposed duties should be given up and the only shelter and resort should be His Lotus Feet, the Maharaj emphasized that God alone is the creator and God alone is filled the entire cosmos.
God can be reached through Saguna or Nirguna (with and without form). Saguna Bhakti is superior and difficult to follow. Liberation is not a big deal. Devotion comes first. Between Liberation and God comes Devotion. So, one need to aspire for God Himself when everything else will be added unto him, exhorted the Maharaj.
BHAGAVATHA SATAAHAM REFLECTIONS 31 MAR 2010
An attempt to reflect on the week-long spiritual feast, Bhagavata Saptaaham, held in Prasanthi Nilayam in the immediate Divine presence, where “His Story” was narrated in His very own presence. Ms. Jullie Chaudhury writes from Pune…
Constant source of Divine Bliss,
What a Boon and a Blessing is This…
On the banks of Sarayu river was the city of Ayodhya and Lord Narayana appeared as Sri Ram Avatar,
On the shores of Yamuna was the city of Mathura where the Lord took birth as Sri Krishna Avatar,
By the side of river Chitravati lies Puttaparthi where the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has come as Sai Avatar…
…so sang Sri Rituraj Maharaj as he began his recitation of Srimad Bhagavat Katha…
Kaushalyanandan, Yeshodanandan, Eashwarinandan…
A Darshan of Beloved Bhagawan makes any heart sing with delight, so what can one say of the immense good fortune of listening to the Srimad Bhagavatam in His cherished presence…?
Indeed auspicious is this time and so very blessed are we. The story of creation, of the various forms Lord Narayana assumed to protect His devotees and Mother Earth through the different Yugas, was narrated ever so vividly by Sri Rituraj Maharaj, leaving the gathering enchanted… The katha (story) of Hari in Sri Hari’s immediate presence, transported one back in to time, and each moment was vibrantly relived. Sai Kulwant Hall had wonderful depictions of the different forms of the Avatar and charming pictures of Sri Krishna performing His leelas.
The narration was interwoven with hymns, music and devotional songs stirring all hearts with supreme devotion towards Beloved Bhagawan. Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha…the extreme dedication of Prahlad, Vamana, Parasurama, Lord Sri Rama…
When the Maharaj recounted the times of Sri Krishna, Kulwant Hall was transformed in to Brindavan, and the devotees in to gopas and gopikas, cows and calves. The pillars became trees and tulasi plants. Birds chirped and peacocks danced and a soft, gentle breeze wafted the fragrance of a myriad blooms…
Negative thoughts were the demons that were vanquished by Sai Gopala. And the little finger of the hand, that held aloft the mountain Govardhan sheltering the Brijvasis, continues to protect us all today…
At one point there was only Purusha, the Creator and His creation. Every atom rejoiced as the individual atma merged in the Paramatma, for that is, as the learned Maharaj explained, the true significance of the Ras Leela…
The unique melody of Devakinandan’s flute, ever since the time of Krishna, became an intrinsic part of the individual soul and has drawn all to Prasanthi Nilayam and Eashwarinandan ever so naturally.
Sri Rituraj Maharaj not only fascinated all with his rendition of the Bhagvatam with such simplicity, depth and clarity, but also with his deep knowledge and acceptance of Beloved Bhagawan’s teachings.
His words flowed with love and devotion not only for the Divine, but with compassion for creation as a whole - the plants and trees, the birds and animals, the mountains and rivers, indeed all of humanity. At one point he said that, while walking down the street if one came across a thirsty animal, one should immediately offer it water from their bottle.
It was quite touching to note that while so many refer to Bhagawan as Sai Krishna, he was referring to Gopala as Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai….
Blessed are the ears that hear His glories, blessed is the environment where such sacred tales reverberate, and indeed blessed are we all that we live in the era and presence of the Lord Himself…