Selections from Bhagavatha

Selections from Bhagavatha

The name Bhagavatha can be applied to every account of the experiences of those who have contacted God and the Godly (Bhagawan and Bhakta). God assumes many forms and enacts many activities. The name Bhagavatha is given to the descriptions of the experiences of those who have realised Him in those forms and of those who have been blessed by His Grace and chosen as His Instruments.

The great work known by that name is honoured by all masters of the Vedas. It is a panacea, which cures physical, mental and spiritual illnesses. The Bhagavatha is saturated with sweetness of nectar; it shines with the splendour of God.

The principle of Avatar or the Descent of God on earth, the Incarnation of the Formless with Form, for the uplift of beings – this is the basic fact that makes the Bhagavatha authentic. By Bhagavatha we also mean those with attachment to God, those who seek the companionship of God. For such, the book, Bhagavatha, is most precious; it is the breath of their life. Herein find choice selections from Bhagavatha Vahini.

Fruit of Devotion:

To be in the midst of such Bhagavathas is to foster one’s own devotion. Unless you have a taste for God-ward thoughts, you will not derive joy therefrom. To create that taste the Bhagavatha relates stories relating to incarnations to the earnest inquirer. Then, one develops the yearning to experience the thrill of God, through all the levels of consciousness. He who has this intense yearning can be a true Bhagavatha. (p2)

Which Form is chosen by the Fully Free?

There is no compulsive rule that incarnations should occur only on the earth and in human form. Any place, any form, can be chosen by the Fully Free. Whichever place, whatever Form, promotes the purpose of fulfilling the yearning of the devotee, that place and that form are chosen by the will of God. God is above and beyond the limits of time and space. He is beyond all characteristics and qualities; no list of such can describe Him fully. For Him, all beings are equal. The difference between man, beast, bird, worm, insect and even a god is but a difference of the ‘vessel’ (the Upadhi). (p2)

All are one, the indestructible Atma

It is like the electric current that flows through various contrivances and expresses itself in many different activities. There is no distinction in the current; it is the same. To speak of it as different is to reveal one’s ignorance (ajnana). So too, the one single God activates every vessel or Upadhi and gives rise to manifold consequences. The wise see only the one uniform current; the ignorant feel that they are all distinct. God appreciates the consciousness of unity, as the basic motive of acts. He does not appreciate the activity itself being one, without variety; it is suited to the various needs. The fruits of karma or activity appeal only to those who identify themselves with the body and not for the others, who know that they are the indestructible Atma. (p3)

Name and Form:

Again, you must know that there is no end to the incarnations that God indulges in. He has come down on countless occasions. Sometimes He comes with a part of His glory, sometimes with a fuller equipment of splendour, sometimes for a particular task, sometimes to transform an entire era of time, an entire continent of space. (p3)

Description of Vasanas

Generally speaking, man gets drawn to sense objects for, he is the victim of instincts. Instincts easily seek sense-objects. They come along with the body and are not derived by any training. The infant seeks milk from the mother’s breast; the newborn calf nestles at the udder. No training is needed for this. But, for the infant to walk and talk, some training is necessary. The reason is that they are not automatic; they are socially prompted, by example and by imitation of others. (p4)

The Lake of the Mind

Therefore, avoid contact with vices; develop attachment to virtues; transmute the heart into an altar for the Lord; destroy all the shoots and sprouts of desire; then, your Manasa-Sarovar (the Lake of your Inner Consciousness) will be sublimated into a Ksheera-sagara, (the Pure Ocean of Milk, whereon the Lord reclines on the Serpent-couch). Your real Self-will, like the Celestial Hamsa, revel in the placid waters of that Lake, thus transformed. It will discover endless delight. (p9)

Measuring Creation?

Who can mark the beginning of the continuous waves of the ocean? It is an impossible task. If any one decided to do so, the wave with which he starts the calculation will be considered as the beginning, the wave with which he stops his calculation will be for him the last, the end. There is a beginning and an end for his count: there is no beginning or end for the process. No one can visualise either, in that boundless illimitable expanse. God’s Glory is the shoreless ocean. When one starts describing it, it begins for him; when he finishes his description it is the end, so far as he is concerned. But, His Glory is beyond space and time. Only little minds, limited minds, will argue that God’s Glory has a beginning and an end. The stage on which He plays (His Leela) has no boundaries. (p9-10)

Inauspicious Death:

“Alas! Is he to suffer at last this tragic fate? Is this to be the reward for all the good in store for Him? Can the consequence of years of good living suddenly turn into this calamitous end? It is laid down that those who die drowning, those who are killed by fall from trees, and those who die of snakebite have a bad after-life. These are considered “inauspicious deaths”; those whose deaths are such, become ghosts and have to suffer so, it is said. Why should this child end up like that? 0h, the horror of it. 0h, the injustice of the whole thing!” lamented Yudhistra, biting his lips to suppress his sorrow. (p18)

Make your life worthwhile.

He said, “O foolish King! Have you no shame? Do you still find joy in earthly pleasures? Of what avail is it if you wallow in the mire until you die? I thought you had enough of it and more. Time is a cobra that lies in wait to sting you to death. You dare hope that you can escape it and live for ever. No one, however great, has escaped the sting. You run after happiness in this temporary world and you seek to fulfil your desires in order to get some paltry satisfaction. You are wasting precious years. Make your life worthwhile. It is not yet too late to begin the effort. Give up this cage called home. Dismiss from your mind the paltry pleasures of this world. Remember the joy that awaits you, the world that is welcoming you, the end of this journey. Save yourself. Avoid the foolish fate of giving up this life in the agony of separation from kith and kin. Learn to die with the thought of the Lord uppermost in the mind at the moment of departure. It is far better to die in joy in the thick of the blackest forest than die in distress in the palace of this capital city. Go, go and do penance. Get away from this place, this prison which you call, home.” (p46-47)

He is the Suthradhari:

He is the Suthradhari, the holder of the strings that move the puppets and make them act their roles, but, He seats Himself among the spectators and pretends He is unaware of the plot or story or cast. The characters cannot deviate a dot from His directions; His will guides and determines every single movement and gesture. The varying emotions and events on the stage by which the drama unrolls itself affect the hearts of those who witness the play, but, they do not cause a ruffle in the heart of the Suthradhari.

He decides what this person should say or that person should do and He prompts in them the appropriate words and deeds. And, the consequence of the karma performed and inherited by each individual from previous lives also adds its quota to this destiny. The Yadavas who are our own kith and kin were spiritual personages, full of devotion to God as you all know well. Perhaps, some day, some sage had cast a curse on them, or else some day they committed some dire sin…. For, how else can we explain this sudden upset in their history, this unexpected tragedy? (p71-72)

Qualities of Queen Iravathi:

Queen Iravathi was a great Sadhvimani (Gem among virtuous women). She was endowed with a tenacious love for truth; she was devoted to her husband. Whenever she heard that anyone in the empire was in distress, she was pained much, as if she herself had the calamity. She mixed with the women of the capital, and acquainted herself with their aspirations and achievements. She provided them with encouragement and consolation. She fostered the growth of virtue among them, by teaching and example; she established institutions to promote and protect good character. She allowed women of all grades to approach her, for she had no false pride. She treated every one with reverence; she was an angel of fortitude and charity. Every one praised her as Goddess Annapurna (the Bestower of Food) Herself in human form. (p118)

The Forms the Lord Assumes:

Thus, the Lord assumed various Forms according to the needs of the situation, the Forms best suited for the destruction of the wicked Danavas (the Race of Evil-minded Ogres), and for the protection of the good and godly, and the preservation of the Scriptures that reveal the Truth, the Vedas. In this manner, the Lord incarnated as the Fish, the Tortoise, the Man-lion, and the Short statured (Matsya, Kurma, Narasimha, and Vamana). Of all the Incarnations, the supreme and the most blissful is the Krishna-form. Still, you must realise that the chief purpose of all incarnations is the preservation of Dharma (Justice, Righteousness, Morality, Virtue). (p226)

Bhagavatha connotes three sections of knowledge:

He who instructs must gauge the qualifications of the learner to receive the lesson. It will be vain effort, to try to communicate the highest knowledge to a person belonging to the lowest level. For, he cannot comprehend it. So too, if the instructions that have to be given to the lower levels are given to those of the higher levels, they will derive no satisfaction from that teaching. To make this clear, I shall tell you about a discussion that ensued once between Brahma and Narada. Listen, carefully.” Suka began to narrate the story of Narada.

Brahma once addressed Narada, “O My Mind-projected Son! Creation is My task, the way, in which I fulfil My Mission, My tapas. I will, and Creation happens. But, I lay down certain rules and modes for each species and, if they are properly adhered to, the Wheel will turn aright in Dharma. Instead, if the modes and rules are neglected and they toil for the satisfaction of their own wishes, along crooked and misleading paths, they will have to suffer various miseries.

Day and Night are willed by Me; The Rulers of Living Beings are parts of Me. The urge that people have to increase and multiply is the reflection of My Will. Sometimes, when the created world has to be sustained, I myself assume Name and Form and initiate Manvantharas (The Eras of Manu), and provide the Earth with appropriate Divine Personalities and Sages, who set examples to be followed and indicate the paths for progress.

I end also the unlimited increase of beings, when it happens. For this, I take on the Form of Rudra too. I create the bad, in order to highlight and promote the good; and in order to protect the good, I set certain limits, both to the good and the bad, for, they would otherwise, stray into wrong ways and inflict great harm.

I am immanent in every being. People forget Me, who is within and without them; I am the inner core of every being, but, they are not aware of this. So, they are tempted to believe the objective world to be real and true, and they pursue objective pleasures, and fall into grief and pain. On the other hand, if they concentrate all attention on Me alone, believing that the Lord has willed everything and everyone, I bless them and reveal to them the Truth that they are I and I am they. Thousands have been blessed thus. They are the seekers, the aspirants, the Mahatmas, the Sages, the Divinely Inspired, the Manifestations of the Divine, the Guides who show the Path. They have acquired the experience that Truth is Dharma.

I shall tell you about some of them, listen. Sagara, Ikshwaku, Prachinabarhi, Rubhu, Dhruva, Raghumaharaj, Yayathi, Mandhatha, Alarka, Sathadhanva, Dileepa, Khali, Bheeshma, Sibi, Pippalada, Saraswatha, Vibhishana, Hanuman, Muchukunda, Janaka, Satharupa, Prahlada, and many Rajarshis, Brahmarshis. Princes, Nobles – who can be grouped under one category, the Godly (Bhagavathas). They all yearn for the chance to listen to the glories of God. They have all been blessed, irrespective of cast, age, status, or sex; they have among them women, Brahmins, Sudras and Chandalas.

I am the Cause of all Causes. I am Eternal. I am Sat-Chit-Ananda (I am Existence, Knowledge, Bliss). I am Hari and Hara, too; for, I transform Myself into these Manifestations as occasion arises. Creation, the Universe, is but the projection of My Will; it has no basic reality. My son, I declared this truth to you, as a result of My deep love towards you. Others will not be able to grasp the mystery of this Creation. What I have just revealed to you is known as concise Bhagavatha.

Bhagavatha connotes three sections of knowledge: (1) The Glory and Majesty of the Incarnations of God, (2) The Names of those who are fully devoted to God and (3) The intimate relationship between God and the Godly. Where these three are found together, there we have the Bhagavatha. All that is visible is not beyond or outside God. Therefore, to put it succinctly, everything is Bhagavatha! Everything is worthy of being honoured so. (p226-228)

Goal of Purity:

This process of purifying the inner equipments of man in the crucible of single-pointed speech, feeling and activity, directed towards God is called tapas. The inner consciousness will be rid of all blemishes, and defects. When the inner consciousness has been rendered pure and unsullied, God will reside therein. Finally, he will experience the vision of the Lord Himself, within him. (p 237)

The person bound by objective desire:

The person bound by objective desire will strive in various ways to fulfil them. He is a slave to his senses and their pursuits. But, if he withdraws the senses from the world and gets control over their master, the Mind, and engages that Mind in tapas, then, he can establish Swarajya or Self-mastery or ‘Independence’ over himself. To allow the senses attach themselves to objects – that is the bondage. When the mind that flows through the senses towards the outer world is turned inwards and is made to contemplate on the Atma, it attains Liberation or Moksha. (p 238)

The role of Maya and Gunas:

“O King, Maya itself has caused the multifarious forms. This is clever stage play, a kind of fancy dress. The objective world or Nature assumes manifold forms through the manipulations of Maya, the Deluding Urge. On account of the primary impulse of Delusion or Ignorance, the Gunas arose and got intermixed, and Time manifested with the change, and all this multiplicity called the Universe appeared. So, the Jivi must dedicate himself to the Master of this delusion, the director of this play the manipulator of this time, the actor who sports the Gunas (types of behaviour, groups of qualities, bundles of attributes), the mother of all the worlds (Maya); he must fill himself with the understanding of the immeasurable Power and Glory of the Imperishable Absolute (Akshara Parabrahmah); he must immerse himself in the Bliss derivable there from. Then, he sheds all Ajnana and can be unattached, even when he uses the creations of Maya!” (p239)

No Cause-Consequence chain in Creation:

Creation is happening from beyond the beginning of Time. First, the lotus arose from the Navel of the Primal Person, called in the scriptures Narayana. From this Lotus, the Lord Himself manifested as Brahma; Brahma felt an urge to look at all the four quarters; so, he developed four faces.

Brahma became aware that he must activate Himself, so that creation can happen; so He seated Himself in the Padmasana posture of Yoga and, entertained the Idea of all this Creation. Parikshith, the mystery of Creation cannot be unravelled so easily, or understood so quickly. There can be no Cause-Consequence chain in the activities of the Absolute. No one can examine or inquire successfully into the creative faculty and achievements of the Supreme, which is omni-potent and omniscient. (p240)

No Difference between the Lord and the Bhakta:

Did you note, Maharaja, that there is really no difference between the Lord and the Bhakta? Uddhava felt more anguish when he had to leave the presence of the Gopis, than when he had to leave the presence of Krishna Himself! His Ananda in both places was the same. There is really no distinction between Gopi and Gopala, the Bhakta and Bhagawan. The hearts of the Gopis had got transformed into altars where He was installed. Drinking the nectar of Krishna-Rasa satiated their inner cravings. Uddhava was able to realize their agony at the separation from Krishna, the sincerity of their affectionate attachment to Him, their eagerness to hear about Him, their anxiety about Him, and their earnestness to hear and obey His Message. The Gopas and Gopis never for a moment allowed their attention to wander away from stories of Krishna, from descriptions of the sport of Krishna and from the narratives of His activities and achievements. The splendour of the sweetness of Krishna cast such powerful influence on Vraja that the living appeared lifeless and the lifeless appeared living! Uddhava saw with his own eyes the boulders of Govardhana-giri melt in tears of joy. He saw also the Gopis transfixed like stone images, when their hearts were filled with Divine joy. He took these experiences of his as wonderful and illuminating. (p 274-275)

The Glory of the Gopis

“Raja! The awareness of the Gopis had become one with the consciousness of Krishna; so, they noticed nothing else, none else. Every stone, every tree they saw, they saw as Krishna; they held on to it calling out Krishna, Krishna. That made the stones and trees feel the agony of separation from Krishna, and they too melted in the heat of that grief, so that tear drops fell from the points of the leaves. The stones softened with the tears they exuded. See, how amazing these scenes must have been! The axiom, ‘All is alive’ (Sarvam Sajivam) was proved true, in this manner, to him. The stones and trees of Brindavan demonstrated to Uddhava that there is nothing that is devoid of consciousness and life.

Those who are unable to grasp the glory of the Gopis, the Bhakthi that melted stone and drew sobs of grief from the trees, have no right to judge and pronounce a verdict; if they do, they only reveal that their intelligence is more inert than rocks and boulders. Inert minds can never grasp the splendours of the Krishna-Chandra, who is the sovereign of the Universe, who captivates the Universe by His Beauty and Power. Only the clearest and the purest Intelligence can grasp it. (p276-277)

External Distinctions of no importance to the Lord:

The Lord will not pay any attention to external distinctions, the name of the individual, his nationality, his caste, his profession, his attitude. Whatever may be the attitude with which a person approaches Him, He will welcome him, draw him near, fulfil his wishes, and confer happiness; that was the nature of Gopala. (p279)

Gopala is Lokapala:

Gopala is Lokapala, and not a cowherd boy. (Go means cow; pala means he who fosters and protects; Loka means the World). The Form he has assumed is Human, that of a cowherd boy; that is all. But, really speaking He is the most auspicious Form who liberates from bondage, having in His hands, Shakti (power), Yukthi (means of attainment) and Mukti (freedom from bondage).” (p 292).

The Coils of Illusion:

“My child! Did you get a fright? 0, how wicked I was!”, the mother wailed aloud. But, while she was lamenting thus, two Divine Forms, both male, emerged from the tree! They fell at the Feet of Gopala. They stood with folded palms, and said, “0 Lord! We are the sons of Kubera, we are twin brothers, Nalakubura and Manigriva. Through the curse of Sage Narada, we were turned into this tree and existed as such. This day has seen the end of that curse, through your Grace. If you permit us, we shall go back to our own place.” Thus saying, the two Divine Forms disappeared. At the sight of those strange Divine Forms, the people of Gokul were taken aback; they were filled with great joy.

Though they listened to the glorification of Gopala as God, though they had concrete evidence of His Divinity, they relapsed into Maya (Delusion) and resumed their conversation about Gopala being the son of Nanda and Yashoda and felt He was their cowherd friend. They were caught up in the coils of illusion.” (p. 316)

The Resident in the Body:

Ah! The role that Divinity takes upon Itself brings about results that are really momentous! The Vedanta teaches that one should penetrate behind the role into the Reality; this is its inner meaning. Deluded by the role, man pursues Desire! Believing the body that is assumed, to be real and true, man falls into Maya. For those whose attention is concentrated on the Body, the Person within will not be visible, isn’t it? When ashes cover, the red cinders will not be visible. When clouds gather thick, the sun and the moon cannot be seen! Moss floating thick upon the waters of a lake give the illusion that it is hard ground, over which there is vegetation. When the eye has cataract over the pupil, one cannot see anything at all. So too, when the notion of the body being the Reality is predominant, the Resident in the Body is not noticed at all. (p. 318)

Kaivalya, or Beatitude;

When the end is near, the mind is perverted:
Instead, those who are immersed in selfishness egotism, greed, vice, violence and unrighteousness will suffer from evil urges, in their last days and destroy themselves. The former attain Kaivalya, or, beatitude; the latter achieve only hell, Naraka. (p. 331)

The eye of the onlooker sees the same consummation-death. But, the goal reached by either is distinct; it is invisible to those around them. The goal is determined by the thoughts that arise in the mind of the dying. Destruction of life is common; the darshan of God is something to be won, and earned. That is unique. Hence the proverb, “Vinaasa Kaale, vipareetha buddhi“: when disaster is imminent, the intellect turns against! Only those who are about to be destroyed will get and welcome such evil intentions. Those who are to be blessed with the vision of God will hold fast to the pure and the elevating, in their last thoughts. (p 331)

No success is won without God’s grace:

But, who can hinder the inscrutable operation of the Will of God? Can the Divine Mystery be penetrated and unravelled? Fools who cannot grasp the Truth, who cannot recognise Divinity and measure the Power of God, who have no faith in God, live in the delusion that their petty plans will save them and that they can triumph through their own efforts! The fact is, not even the smallest success can be won, without God’s Grace.

Though this is true, we should not sit with folded hands, believing that a thing will accomplish itself, if and when God wills. Human effort is essential, and man must himself make a trial. He must use the strength and skill that he is endowed with, and resolve to proceed with the work, laying the responsibility for success on God. For, without the Grace of God, every effort will be rendered fruitless. (p. 334)


Selections from Bhagavatha



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