10:05 PMPosted by gopalakrishna
The Essence of Puranas – Maha Bhagavata Purana
The Story of Ajamila
Some 13,00,000 yojanas ( 10,400,000 miles) above the ‘Great Bear’ shines high the Pole Star and the ‘Sisumara System’ or the Great Machine, comprising the Stars and Planets, resembling a Dolphin in water. Scholars of the Science of Astronomy compare the Formation as an Illustration or an Image of The Supreme Almighty Vasudava Himself, as this ‘Jyothi anekam’( Multi-Splendour par excellence) or ‘Sisumara Samsthanam’(The Grand Wheel Establishment) is clearly visible on the Sky, and as the The Supreme Almighty is invisible anyway! In other words, it would never be possible to comprehend the Portrait of ‘Virat Purusha’, let alone by human beings but by Sages and even by Gods or Trinity too, but one could visualise the similarity of God- Head with the Sisumara and be contented with it atleast.
In this very connection, the Maha Muni narrated an apt illustration of a devout Brahmin, Ajamila from Kanyakubja. He was an embodiment of virtue, performing all ritualistic duties including daily Agni Homams as expected of an ideal married person.Once he visited a forest to collect fruits, flowers and samidhas and kusas ( dry grass for Homams).He witnessed a highly provocative scene of a low-class male with a semi- nude prostitute in action and despite all his Vedic background could not overcome the temptation of possessing that woman as his keep in her own surroundings. He acquired gradually all shocking habits of drinking, gambling, stealing and so on, continued his sinful activities and abandoned his wife, children and aged parents. He realised rather late that his life was indeed ruined and no amount of atonement was justified.While dying however, he shouted the name of ‘Narayana’, the tenth son of his prostitute woman, out of great desire to fondle him. The Servants of Lord Yama who appeared at the scene of Ajamila’s death sought to drag him with ropes to Yamaloka. At the same time, the followers of Lord Vishnu appeared too at the Scene as they heard a sincere shout of NARAYANA. An altercation between Yamadutas and Vishnudutas followed as to who could take Ajamila’s soul, either to Hell or Vaikuntha. Having returned to Hell, Yamadutas explained the situation and Lord Yamaraja advised his dootas to lay off their hands from the dead person. Lord Yama said that a mere invocation of the pure Narayana was adequate from Ajamila’s death bed, considering his excellent background, excepting the sinful phase of his life with the prostitute and thereafter. Further, Ajamila made the big shout of ‘Narayana’ at the time of his death with full atonement that was extraordinary and astonishing. Lord Yama compared the sinful phase of Ajamila was like an eclipse-period of his life and after the evil patch of his life, he returned to his earlier stage of purity and Godliness; as a piece of Char-coal covered by ash outside but is red hot inside.
Narada cursed by reborn Daksha
Reverting back to Swambhu Manu, King Parikshith became inquisitive about the next generation, especially about the rebitrh of Prajapati Daksha, from the lineage of Prachetas and his curse to Narada Muni.Daksha offered prayers to Superior Lord to purify his thoughts at a place known as Aghamarsana near a mountain in Vindhya Range. The Supreme Lord was pleased and appeared before him. The Lord instructed to lead a family life and carry on his normal duties. Accordingly, Daksha married Prajapati Panchajana’s daughter Aksini and begot ten thousand sons named Haryasvas. As instructed by their father Daksha, Haryasvas decided to perform austerities to beget children and reached a place named Narayanasaras, where River Sindhu joins the Sea. Narada appeared there and mind-washed them about the futility of begetting progeny and getting involved with family lives and the perennial problems; he advised that the real purpose of a useful life would be to follow the path of God-consciousness instead.
Narada gave the Theory of Creation and destruction- the chain of births and deaths, and the futility of pursuing such a life. Haryasvas were sincere and obedient children of Daksha, but the mind-setting of Narada was so convincing that they followed the short-cut spiritual way rather than the circuitous and too familiar family route to God. Daksha lamented that his progeny opted a different route and Brhama consoled him and belssed Daksha to beget another thousand sons named Savalasvas, who too went the Narada way, since the latter was also able to convince as he did to their brothers. Being furious at what had been done by Narada to his sons, Daksha cursed Narada that henceforth the latter would be a globe trotter and would never be settled and static, much less as a family person. Narada in turn could have given a curse to Daksha but restrained in the interest of the next generation to observe the Grihasti’s life’s route to salvation.
Reborn Prajapati Daksha’s Descendents
Prachetasa Prajapati Daksha and Askini had sixty daughters, ten of whom were given in charity to Yamaraja, seventeen to Kasyapa, and twenty seven to Moon-God and two each to Angira, Krasasva, and Bhuta.Among those who were born from the daughters of Daksha were born to their next or further generations were Sankata, Swarga, Nandi, eight Vasus,viz. Drona, Prana, Dhruva, Arka, Agni, Dosha, Vastu and Vibhavasu. From Krittika, another wife of Agni were born Skanda and Karttikeya. From Angirasa and Vastu was born Viswakarma and from Bhuta and Sarupa were born ten million Rudras as well as Ghosts and Goblins. The next generation of Kasyapa were Vinata, Kadru, Patangi and Yamini.Vinata gave birth to Garuda, the Chariot of Lord Vishnu and Aruna, the Charioteer of Lord Sun; Kadru gave birth to snakes, Patangi from birds and Yamini to locusts.
Prachetasa Prajapati Daksha and Askini had sixty daughters, ten of whom were given in charity to Yamaraja, seventeen to Kasyapa, and twenty seven to Moon-God and two each to Angira, Krasasva, and Bhuta.Among those who were born from the daughters of Daksha were born to their next or further generations were Sankata, Swarga, Nandi, eight Vasus,viz. Drona, Prana, Dhruva, Arka, Agni, Dosha, Vastu and Vibhavasu. From Krittika, another wife of Agni were born Skanda and Karttikeya. From Angirasa and Vastu was born Viswakarma and from Bhuta and Sarupa were born ten million Rudras as well as Ghosts and Goblins. The next generation of Kasyapa were Vinata, Kadru, Patangi and Yamini.Vinata gave birth to Garuda, the Chariot of Lord Vishnu and Aruna, the Charioteer of Lord Sun; Kadru gave birth to snakes, Patangi from birds and Yamini to locusts.
New Brihaspati Visvarupa teaches ‘Narayana Kavacha’ to Indra
Indra’s Court is a master-piece of the Universe, with Indra as a cynosure, surrounded by several semi-Gods and seated along with him by Sachi Devi. Guru Brihaspati, the Great Guide and Teacher of all the Subjects of the Court was among the Principal Advisor. In this ideal setting unfortunately, Brihaspati felt humiliated by Indra, as due respect to a Spiritual Master was not paid to him as Indra started cutting short and interrupting the Guru often. In course of time, Brihaspati stopped attending the Court. Indra no doubt apologised to the Guru, but the Guru did not relent. Lord Brahma called Indra and reprimanded him for his follies and had to look for an alternative. At the request of Demi-Gods, Brahma then appointed Visvarupa, the son of Diti’s daughter Rachana and Prajapati Tvasta.
Lord Brahma suitably briefed Visvarupa and taught the basic principles of an Acharya ( Teacher) who should consider Brahma as father, Indra as brother, Mercy as a sister, the planet of Earth as mother, guest as Agni and all living entities as Lord Vishnu Himself. He underlined the need for balancing the strength of Sukracharya, the Guru of Demons. Visvarupa taught the Narayana Kavacha ( The Shield of Narayana) to Indra and Semi-Gods. Being seated properly, the intial mantra be recited viz. ‘ Apavitrah Pavitro va , Sarvavasthangatho piva, Yah smaret pundarikasham sa bahyahabhantara suchih, SriVishnu Sri Vishnu Sri Vishnu.’ Thus purified, the Mantra be recited as: ‘Om Namo Narayanaya’ touching eight parts of the body systematically-feet, knees, thighs, abdomen, heart, chest, mouth and head- both in Utpatti Nyasa (Start-up) and Samhara Nyasa ( Close-up) , ie. in reverse order.The mantra is recited as ‘Ya Narayanaya Namo Om’in the reverse order. The next mantra is : ‘Om Bhagavatey Vasudevaya’ by touching the four finger tips touching the joints of thumbs, starting from the right hand and then the left hand. The next mantra is recited as ‘ Om namo vishnave namah’, by aligning Om with heart, ‘Vi’ with top of the head, ‘sh’with eyebrows, ‘na’with tuft (sikha’),‘ve’with eyes,‘na’with joints of body and ‘mah’ as a weapon.While reciting the mantras, one should visualise the Supreme Lord seated on Garuda’s back and with his eight arms Viz. conchshell, disc, shield, sword, club, arrows, bow and strings. The Narayana Kavacha protects in different forms of the Supreme Force, such as Matysa ( Great Fish) from water, Vamana ( The Dwarf) from all the three Worlds, Narasimha ( Man-Lion) in forests and battle fronts, Varaha ( The Boar) from the bottom of the Seas, Parasurama with axe from Unkind Kings and Mountains, Rama from tribulations in foreign countries, Narayana from false religious systems, Nara from unwanted pride, Dattathreya from mystic forces, Sanat Kumara from undue desires, Kurma ( Tortoise) from hellish planets, Narada from worship offences, Dhanvantari from physical ailments, Rishabhadeva from extreme heat and cold, Yagna from defamations, Balarama from reptiles, Vyasa from ignorance, Buddha from laziness, Kalki from irreligion and so on. The ‘Kavacha’ provides protection to the devotees during day and night by Kesava, Narayana, Madhava, Govinda, Vishnu, Madhusudana, Hrishikesa, Padmanabha, Janardana, and Vasudeva. Similarly, the eight arms provide protection from all possible evils and ventualities. Narayana Shield is meant for each and every body, from Devatas to normal mortals.With the help of Narayana Kavacha, Indra defeated demons and rejuvenated the supremacy of Devas again.
Visvarupa reborn as Vrittrasura
In course of time, Indra got suspicious of the intentions of Visvarupa, the newly appointed Guru of Devatas; although Visvarupa was the son of Prajapati Tvastha, his mother Rachana was the daughter of Diti whose credentials were of Demons. While performing ‘Homams’/ ‘Yagnas’, he was in the habit of reciting the offerings to Fire God meant for Indra, Varuna and other Devatas loudly, but offered ‘Ghee’(classified butter) secretly to demons as well.Also, Visvarupa who had three heads, used to consume ‘Soma Ras’(Nectar) with one mouth, another with Wine and the third one with food. In a fit of rage, Indra killed Visvarupa, despite the knowledge that killing a Brahmin Priest would attract heavy penalty which was cleared by suitable means eventually.On learning what Indra did, Tvastha performed high-quality spiritual ceremonies with a view to avenge the death of his son.
As a result, a huge, frightful figure emerged from the Fire-pit, who looked like capable of destroying the entire Universe. Tvasta named the giant demon as Vritra, as he was the product of enormous asceticism covering all the planetery systems. The entire army of Devas, headed by Indra, pulled out their collective strength pitted against the one man militia of Vritra to no avail. They had to, in fact, run in different directions in sheer self defence. Finally they made a group prayer to Lord Vishnu for a quick solution as Vritra was growing in power minute by minute. The divine response came that Sage Dadhichi could only help retrieve the ugly situation. The Sage assimilated spiritual knowledge and passed on the same to Asvini Devatas who attained the position of Jeevan Muktha ( Liberation in life itself).The Mantras, including Narayana Kavacha was passed on to Prajapati Tvasta who in turn passed it on to his son Visvarupa too.The Narayana Kavacha fortified the body of Sage Dhadhichi and only the backbone of the Sage could help to put an end to Vritra. The Devas thus made a collective prayer to Dadhichi to spare his body for the noble cause of ending Vritrasura. Dadhichi consented and his back- bone was converted into a mighty Thunderbolt by the Divine Architect, Viswakarma. A ferocious battle followed then, when Satya Yuga was ending and Threta Yuga was being ushered in, as the entire force of powerful Demons headed by Vritrasura on one side and the mighty Demi Gods headed by Indra seated on ‘Airavatha’- the Heavenly Elephant- fortified in his arms with the thunderbolt made out of Dhadhichi’s back bone prepared by Viswakarma. Before using the Thunderbolt, Vritrasura became furious and fought Indra on one to one basis. He tormented and put Indra to shame.He taunted Indra to say that he made the heinous crime of killing a Holy Brahmin,Viswarupa and got away from the sin in a surreptitious manner. He cursed Indra and told that he was a coward and culpable.Without the Thunderbolt he would have been reprehensible. Vritrasura further said ‘Almighty in His enormous Wisdom showed the way to kill me to stabilise order in the Universe and that the kind of death which has been awarded to me by Super Force Himself is my reward and not a punishment, as He is the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer and His decision is ultimate.’ By so saying Vritrasura invited the Thunderbolt to attain Salvation. Thus ended the memorable story of Vritrasura into the pages of the Great Puranas. When Vritrasura attained ‘Moksha’, all the Celestial Planets, Demi-Gods, Gandharvas and so on praised his valour, but Indra was the single being who was remorseful as he had the Guilt Complex to have killed two Brahmins,Visvarupa and Vritrasura. Indra’s sinful reaction was chased by a feeling that a Chandala woman of old age suffering from untouchable diseases, till Indra ran away to Manas Sarovar, the abode of Goddess Lakshmi. When Demi-Gods, and Sages advised Indra to attain freedom from the sin to perform the Yagna of Asvamedha or Sacrifice of Horse in Vedic Method then only Indra got absolved of the sin.
Narada teaches ‘Narada Pancharatra’ to Chandraketu
But King Parikshith raised a pertinent question as to how a demon like Vritrasura was considered a great devotee of Lord Narayana, despite the fact he created havoc in the Universe and tormented Indra and Demi-Gods, even being a Brahmana? To this Maha Muni Suta narrated a story given by Narada as given by Sage Vadavyasa. There was a King named Chitraketu who was very benevolent and all his subjects were contented. He had a millon wives-all attractive but barren and could not bear a child. Once Sage Angira happened to visit the King who received him with considerable attention and veneration. As the Sage sat on the ground instead of the King’s own throne, the King too sat on the ground and the Sage was pleased by the King’s humility. The Sage performed a Sweet Rice Homam to bless the eldest wife of Chitraketu, Kritadyuti
In course of time they were blessed with a son. The King had endless joy and so did the entire Kingdom. But the other wives became too jealous and poisoned the child even when he did not grow many years. The King and Queen were overwhelmed with sorrow and became uncontrollable. Both Angira and Narada helped to console them. In fact, Narada by his mystic yoga power revived the child for a while who refused to recognise the Royal Couple as his parents. Narada thus exhorted the couple to get rid of the illusion of the child and the parents, and it was thus evident that once death takes place, the so-called sense of attachment ceases as well. Each species of the Lord’s creation loses its identity and as per one’s own till the actions of the destiny of an ensuing life begins either as a plant, a bird, an animal or a human being! Narada then blessed King Chitraketu with spiritual knowledge and taught the King about Brahma Samhita and Narada Pancharatra. Chitraketu performed most intense and intimate prayers to Lord Anantadeva for long and finally, the Lord was kind to have provided glimpses of Himself and the King attained fulfillment.Therafter Chitraketu became the Head of Vidyadharas and began travelling in outer space.During his travels he had the chance of viewing Lord Siva and Mata Parvati in a congregation of Siddhas and holy Sages, when they were in an embrace as they are ‘Ardha-Nareeswaras’. Chitraketu did a foolish giggle to view the scene,even as Parvati was noticing it.She was clearly offended and instantly gave a curse that Chitraketu would be a demon. But, Lord Siva explained that Chitraketu was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu and a sincere Vishnavite having absorbed the essence of Truth and Falsity and the concept of the Self and God, a rudiment of Dvaitha or Dualism, ie of a human and God. Basically God is one but the fine distinction made out is of a ‘Bhakta’( Devotee) and Paramatma, instead of Advaitha stating ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ or ‘I am God’. The paths to Super Soul are equally proven, while interpretations might vary’.
Diti revengeful of Indra and ‘Pumsavana’ Sacrifice
Having given the background of Chitraketu and Vritrasura, Maha Muni Suka told King Parikshith that Diti, the mother figure of Daityas continued to harbour a strong feeling of revenge against Indra who killed many of her progeny. In this context, Suka Muni recalled about the descendants of her sister Aditi and herself.Among the twelve sons of Aditi, Prasni ( Savita’s husband) who was the fifth son gave birth to Savitri, Vyahriti, and Trayi and nine sons, Agnihotra, Pasu, Soma, Chaturmasya and five MahaYagnas.
The sixth son, Bhaga married to Siddhi gave birth to Mahima, Vibhu, Prabhu and daughter Asi.The seventh son, had four wives Kuhu, Sinivali, Raka and Anumati and they begot four sons, Sayam, Darsa, Pratah and Purnamasa. The eighth son, Vidhata married to Kriya gave birth to five Fire Gods, namely, Purusyas. The ninth son Varuna married to Karsini; Varuna gave birth to Valmiki from an anthill and Bhrigu was born to Karshini from Brahma. Agastya and Vasishtha were the common sons of Varuna and Aditi’s tenth son Mitra. Indra was the eleventh son of Aditi, who was married to Paulomi. The last son was a dwarf Urukrama whose wife was Kirti . Sage Kasyapa and Kirthi begot the Great Dwarf Vamana, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Diti and Kasyapa gave birth to Hiranyakasipu and Hiranyaksha. Kayadhu (descendent of Dhanu) and Hiranyakasipu gave birth to Samhlada, Anuhlada, Hlada and Prahlada. The sister of the four brothers was Simhika, the mother of Rahu among the Nine Grahas (Planets) who had disguised and taken nectar from Mohini (Lord Vishnu’s incarnation). Hlada and Dhamani gave birth to Vatapi and Ilvala; the latter tried a trick on Sage Agastya and cooked a ram ( actually Vatapi) and planned to tear open Agastya’s stomach after eating the ram; the Sage knew the trick and immediately ate the ‘ram,’and said ‘Jeernam Jeernam Vataipi Jeernam’ ie. may Vatapi be disgeted comfortably. Thus digesting Vatapi, the ram,and the Sage oversmarted Ilvala. Prahlada was responsible for the killing of Hiranyakasupu by Lord Narasimha. Prahlada and Virochana gave birth to Bali, who was also punished by Vamana, the incarnation of Vishnu. Diti felt that Indra was responsible for several killings of her progeny including Hirayaksha and Hiranuyakasipu and thus her anger for Indra became intense. She thus requested her husband Kasyapa to bless her with a son who could kill Indra. Sage Kasyapa felt extremely sad that his wife was following a wicked route to bear her a son to kill Indra. He somehow desired that such an eventuality should never arise and planned to atleast prolong time for a year and asked Diti to follow very strict regime of personal sacrifice named ‘ Pumsavana’. During the year, Diti should not think ill of others, nor speak lies, nor hurt any body, nor eat flesh or fish, nor wear robes unwashed by herself, but worship Brahmanas, cows, and women with husbands and sons alive, in short follow a life of a hermit.Any discrepancy or deviation from the prescribed do’s and don’ts would not only kill Indra but would become a friend and associate. The nephew Indra knew the intention of Diti , but pretended to help her in the Daily Worships by fetching flowers and fruits to Diti and such other services. At the time of Diti’s delivery after a year, Indra who had yoga sidhis, like ‘anima’ and ‘laghima’ entered Diti’s womb and with the help of his ‘Vjara’( the Thunderbolt) cut the embryo into seven pieces and cut each piece to another seven pieces. Each of the fortynine pieces thus born became as many ‘Maruts’ who became demigods and thus Diti was purified of her envy and animosity of Lord Indra. Punsavana had thus become an important ‘Vrata’( a sacred ritualistic practice of worship) by chaste women for one year with the help and active association of their husbands. During the bright half of month of ‘Kartika’ (falling during November-December), there should be an intense worship by both the husband and wife. On the last day of Moon-rise ( Purnamasi or Pournami), the climactic worship (pujas) should take place with friends and relatives participating in the event, under the guidance of Brahmanas, performing twelve oblations to Fire God with ‘Ghee’ in a ritualistic manner by chanting the Mantra: ‘Om Bhagavatey Mahapurushaya Maha Vibhutaya Swaha’. During the entire preceding year too, the couple could -or atleast either of them- observe the prescribed daily worships to Goddess Lakshmi and God Narayana., by chanting the Mantra. Sincere worship on these lines ought to bless the couple and their family good health, prosperity, name alround and happiness.The Vrath can be done my unmarried women to secure good husbands; those who have no husbands/ sons could perform for spiritual solace.
Was Vishnu partial to daityas?
In this context, King Parikshith enquired of Suka Maha Muni as to why Diti-or for that matter anybody-might have a doubt that Lord Vishnu had always appeared to have been partial in His treatment in favour of Indra and Demi-Gods vis-à-vis Demons, even when many of Demons worshipped the Super Energy; for instance, Vritrasura or Ravana or Hiranyaksha or Hiranya Kasipu and so on. What was more, when these very demon personalities were killed, they were blessed with salvation after death! Suka Maha Muni replied that Lord Vishnu is neither partial nor impartial, but just and kind always.
He has no characteristics and is a ‘nirguna’ (devoid of materialistic qualities). On the other hand, all other beings are governed by the three major ‘Gunas’,viz. Satvika ( Creative), Rajas (Upholding) and Tamas ( Destroying). Actions of the living beings are controlled by these ‘Gunas’. When the Boy- Sages-Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanatkumara-desired to enter Lord Vishnu’s Abode-Vaikuntha-the two Gate Keepers Jaya and Vijaya refused entry as the unclad boys looked undeserving of an entry to the hallowed Place, as the latter were governed by the ‘Tamo-Guna’. The Boy-Sages cursed the Gate Keepers to become Demons for three consecutive births and what was worse to become the enemies of that very Lord Vishnu, whom they worshipped intensely; they felt that as the Gate-keepers of the Place they suffered from excessive ‘Tamo Guna’ and had thus be punished. Hence they were born as Demons in the three successive births as Hiranyakasipu and Hirayaksha, Ravana and Kumbhakarna and Sisupala and Dandavakra. Maha Muni gave the illustration of King Parikshith’s recent example of his Grand Uncle Dharmaraja performing ‘Rajasusya Yagna’( Sacrifice of Horse) at the end of which Lord Krishna was named as the Chief Guest and Sisupala brothers vehemently protested the honour to be bestowed on Krishna. Sisupala called Lord Krishna a fake and a cheat, who killed Kings like Kamsa and so on and was a timid person to have disappeared some eighteen times when he was challenged to fight.( The fact was that Krishna gave a promise to Sisupala’s mother that He would tolerate one hundred mistakes against Himself and there after would kill Sisupala brothers.) As the hundredth blunder was committed at the Rajasuya congregation, Sisupala brothers were destroyed by the Lord Krishna’s ‘Sudarsana Chakra’(Discus).They attained ‘Sayudja Mukthi’, as originally, the Evil Persons were ‘Vishnu Bhaktas’, but due to the temporary aberration and the play of Tamo-Guna, they were cursed and punished but finally reached their original position.
Hiranyakasipu and Prahlada
Continuing the story of the curse of Sage- Boys to the Gate Keepers of Vaikuntha, Suka Muni elaborated as to how Hiranyakasipu was enraged at the demise of his brother Hiranyaksha, when he sought to push the Planet of Earth into Patala loka and the Incarnation of Lord Vishnu as the Great Boar killed him. To avenge the death of his brother, Hiranyakasupu performed unprecedented austerities to please Lord Brahma. The relentlessness of the austerities was such that fire emerged from the Demon’s ears and was spread over the entire Universe.
The Five Elements were shaken up and Demi-Gods appealed to Lord Brahma to intervene. As Brahma finally appeared before the Demon, the latter solicited immortality as his desire. As that would not be possible since every being in Creation would have to perish, then the Demon asked for boons that he would be tantamount to immortality,ie he could be killed by no living entity, demi-Gods, any power in the Universe, and neither during day nor night. Thus having been empowered by the benedictions from Lord Brahma, Hiranyakasipu terrorised the entire Universe and insisted the he was God himself and as such be worshipped by one and all. His son Prahlada was a staunch devotee of Lord Narayana by birth and it became evident that the boy could not be stopped from worshipping the Lord. The Demon King engaged the sons of Guru Sukracharya, (the Head Priest of Demons), named Sanda and Amarka to use their entire patience and forbearance to convert Prahlada’s psyche away from the devotion to Narayana but to no avail. Hiranyakasipu tried the essence of the Four known means of ‘Sama’ ( Intense counseling or brain washing), ‘Dana’ ( Material benefits), ‘Bheda’ ( creating aversion against Narayana and appealing for filial duties) and finally the use of ‘Danda’ ( by creating scare of death or violence of extreme degrees).Prahlada became inflexible and took to extreme devotion of Narayana in the most desperate manner. So did the father who resorted to every possible means of killing the child. An exasperated Demon King finally asked the boy to show Narayana in a column of the Hall. Out came a roar of a frightful species of a mix of man-lion entity who placed the strong body of the Demon King on the Lord’s thighs and tore of the Demon’s body to pieces. Lord Brahma, Lord Siva, the entire congregation of Demi-Gods led by Indra and the Great Sages appeared to witness how ‘Dharma’was revived as the destruction of the enormous Demon King was complete. It was possible for Prahlada alone to gradually bring down the huge fury of Lord Narasimha, Who was neither an animal nor a human being, nor any species of Brahma’s creation and the time of destruction was neither day nor night but dusk time, as per the Demon’s own charter of death wish! Hiranakasipu attained ‘Sarupya Mukti’ thereafter. Prahlada became a highly benevolent King subsequently.
Varnashrama and Grihasti Dharma in Prahlada’s Regime
Suka Maha Muni informed King Parikshith as to how Prahlada ruled his Kingdom with justice, virtue and as per Scriptures. Narada who was a witness to the manner in which King Prahlada reigned was explained in detail to King Yudhishtara. Prahlada had unreserved devotion to the Supreme Lord, profound knowledge of Scriptures, unparralelled wisdom essential for a Ruler and most importantly a high sense of detachment devoid of material desires. Indeed these are the rarest of qualities that an ideal King could possess
Taking cue from the ideal governance followed by Prahlada, Narada defined ideal values of Varnashrama Dharma-the Four Class System- to ensure social values in a Society based on Spiritual Principles. Basically stated, the rudimentary observance of religious regime demands tolerance, truthfulness, austerity, simplicity, control of mind and senses, celibacy, charity, contentment, and non-violence. These qualities are applicable to one and all. Among ‘Dvijas’or twice born-intially by birth and subsequently after the Ceremony of wearing the Holy Thread – are the three categories viz. Brahmanas ( the Class of Religious Practice), the Kshatriyas ( the Class of Defenders of Dharma or Justice), the Vanijya Classs ( the Business and Trading Class) have larger responsibilities of socio-religious nature. Brahmanas should have vedic knowledge and practice and possess the qualities of austerity, spirituality, self control, physical cleanliness, purity of thought and action and daily ritualistic worship. Kshatriyas ought to protect, preserve and enforce regulations of the society and ensure law and order. Vysyas are expected to business interests of the Society, including agriculture and allied activities.The fourth class are meant for servicing the general needs of the Society. But if one shows symptoms of a specific class, the person be accepted to the duties of that category, irrespective of origin of birth. The Veda Base in this connection is:
YasyaYallakshanam proktum / Pumso varnabhivyanjanam / yad anyaprapti drusyata / tat teniva vinirdisat –
Yasya: of whom; yat:which; lakshanam: symptom; prokta : described ( as above); pumsah : of a person; varna abhivyanjakam : indicating the classification; yat:if; api:also; drusyeta : is seen; tat: that; tena : by that symptom; eva:certainly;vinurdiset: be accepted, [regardless of birth].( Bhagavata Purana:Canto 7, chapter 11, verse:35)
King Yudhishtara requested Narada Maharshi to explain the life style of an ideal householder or ‘Grihasti Dharma’. He must earn his livelihood honestly without being concerned about the end result. Constant contacts with Saintly persons; detachment and contentment without excessive possesion; treating the poor, the helpless, innocent children and animals with compassion; practising daily worship and devotion to the Supreme Lord as also Demi-Gods; performing periodical oblations to Fire God, as per Shastras are among the duties. Brahmanas are to offer rituals to forefathers during the dark period of ‘Bhadra’ month and ceremonies during Mahalaya Amavasya during Asvina month. One should perform Shraddha ceremonies on Makara Sankranti day ( when Sun moves upward to north) and/ or Karkataka Sankranti ( when Sun travels to Southern direction) as also on Mesha Sankranti and Tula Sankranti. Ceremonies are also to be performed during Solar/Lunar eclipse days, Akhsaya Tritiya day, on the ninth lunar day of the bright moon phase in the month of Kartika and on the seventh lunar day of the bright phase of Moon in the month of Magha as also on the Janma Nakshatra days. Besides on the banks of Ganges and Yamuna, religious performances be done in temples or holy rivers, lakes or Sacred Places where Saintly persons live; for example, Pushkara lake, Kurukshetra,Gaya, Prayaga, Pulahasrama, Naimisaranya, banks of Phalgu river, Setubandha, Prabhasa, Dwaraka, Varanasi, Mathura, Pampa, Bindu Sarovara, Badarikasrama, Places where Narmada River flows, Chitrakuta and many other Places dotted all over in Bharata Desa or elsewhere where Lord Narayana is worshipped. In the pursuit of the four ‘end- principles’ of ‘Garhastya’viz. Dharma ( Virtue), Artha ( Wealth), Kama ( Desire) and Moksha ( Salvation), there are materialistic activities mixed with‘ the means’ of Adhyatmika ( Introspection), Adhidivika ( Devotion to the Lord) and Adhi Bhowtika (Physical Well Being).One is to be conscious of the ‘Means’ and the ‘Ends’. Equally important is to safeguard the negation of the Principles viz.Vidharma or (Irreligion), Paradharma ( Principles followed by others), Abhasa ( False similarity of religion), Upadharma ( parallel religion) and Chala Dharma ( misleading innocent victims).
Thus ending the narration by Maharshi Narada to Yudhishtara regarding Varnashrama Dharma and Grihasti Dharma, Suka Maha Muni reverted back to his week-long recitation of Maha Bhagavata at the final stage of King Parikshith’s life. Earlier, he described the process of Creation and ‘Manvantaras’. As the first Manu -Svayambhu Manu- was retiring to the forests, the second and the third in the order, viz. Sarvochisa (Son of Lord Agni) and Uttama ( Son of King Priyavrata) suceeded. Tamasa Manu was the fourth in the Manu lineage.( At present, the contemporary world is under the Rule of the Seventh Manu,viz. Vaivasvata Manu)
Salvation of Gajendra the Elephant King
During the Tamasa Manu’s period was born Lord Vishnu’s incarnation, named Sri Hari- to Harini and Harimedha- who saved the Elephant King, Gajendra from the deadly grip of a crocodile. A massive mountain ‘Trikuta’ with an expanse of ten thousand yojanas ( eighty thousand miles) was besides the River Gandaki, where Gajendra and his spouses as also a massive collection of elephant army were bathing on the banks of the River and another King of Crocodiles, along with its own group, caught hold of the Elephant King
The two animals were illustrious in their previous lives; the crocodile was the Chief of Gandharvas, named Huhu who was bathing with a party of women and angered Muni Devala by pulling his leg and the latter cursed Huhu to become a crocodile. Gajendra was Indradyumna, the King of Pandyas who too angered Sage Agastya and became an Elephant King. A fierce battle followed for thousand years which was joined by the armies of elephants and crocodiles, without overpowering neither of the battling animals.Gajendra was desperate but became exhausted physically, mentally and psychologically, while the crocodile being an animal of water was doubled up with energy and enthusiasm. By the grace of Lord Krishna, Gajendra remembered from the past birth as a King and recited the Mantra: Om Bhagavatey Vasudevaya in final desperation and made intense prayers to say that there was none else Who could save him, but Him. Lord Sri Hari alighted his ‘Vahana’( Vehicle) of Garuda and on reaching the spot instructed His ‘Sudarsana Chakra’ (Disc) to slit the head of the crocodile. The curse of Sage Agastya ended and the Gandharva Chief attained Salvation.Gajendra who was a grand devotee in his earlier life too attained Moksha as blessed by Lord Sri Hari.[ Harihar Nath Temple, believed to have been built by Lord Rama when He visited the Holy Spot along with Sita and Laxman, still continues to be a Pilgrimage Place, which is also visited by lakhs of persons witnessing the Sonepur Mela ( Trade Fair), one of the largest Animal Fairs held every year near Patna].
Mammoth Churning of Ocean for ‘Amrith’ ( Nectar)
Proceeding with the narration to King Parikshith, Suka Mahamuni highlighted the Gajendra Moksha incident during the Tamasa Manu’s regime, whereafter the fifth and sixth Manus viz. Raivata and Chakshusa ruled the Universe. It was in the sixth millennium of Chakshusa Manu that Lord Vishnu had incarnated as Ajita who was begotten to Vairaja and Devasambhuti; Ajita in the form of a tortoise was wandering in the Ocean of Milk carrying the Mountain Mandhara on His back and produced ‘Amrit’by churning the Ocean
Parikshith became highly inquisitive about the famous story and requested the Muni to give full details. As the enmity and intense hatred between the Demi- Gods and Demons took unprecedented proportions, the Demi-Gods assembled on the top of the Sumeru Mountain to seek a solution. Lord Brahma instructed the Devas and Demons to resort to a temporary truce, till arrangements could be made to churn the Ocean of Milk to obtain Amrit, the Divine Drink to provide everlasting life.Garuda, the Vehicle of Lord Vishnu lifted the Mandhara Mountain and placed it into the Ocean as the churning rod. Vasuki the Giant Serpent coiled around the Mountain tightly; the head of the serpent was opted for by the Demons out of pride and the tail was taken by the Demi-Gods as the rope. As the Mountain was not stable and shaky, Ajita in the form of tortoise slid under the Mountain and provided the needed balance.Thus commenced the mammoth churning of the Ocean for ‘Amrit’. Many Demons perished from the poisonous flames from the mouth of Vasuki. As the churning progressed, the Ocean was shaken up bringing out innumerable species underneath, black clouds emerged fast across the Sky and there was terrible turmoil alround. Suddenly, the Sky looked like breaking way, emitting unprecedented poisonous flames,‘Halahal’, swiftly engulfing the entire Universe. The initial churning was terminated and Demi-Gods headed by Lord Brahma as well as the Demons screamed for help to Lord Siva to save the situation. They all prayed to Him that He was the original life force, the Maha Tatva, the Eternal Truth and the Omni Potent and He only could stop the annihilation of the Universe. In response to the desperate prayers by one and all, Lord Siva swallowed the ‘Halahal’ and retained it in His Throat to safeguard the Worlds within His other body parts. Thus known in the Sciptures; as ‘Neela Greeva’-the Blue Throated, He protected the entire Universe and saved the act of Creation itself. As the process of churning resumed further, a number of Divine Figures commenced emerging: ‘Surabhi’ the Cow required for unending milk and products required for Sacred Rituals as oblations to Fire God by Sages; a Divine Horse, Utthaisvarya, as desired by King Bali of the Under World; the Divine Elephant ‘Airavata’ and eight She Elephants, which were desired by Indra to possess; Koustubha Mani and Padmaraga Mani-the jewels decorating Lord Vishnu’s chest; ‘Parijata Tree’ to decorate the Celestial Gardens; then emerged Apsaras, the Divine dansueses to entertain Demi-Gods and Indra; the Goddess of Fortune, Lakshmi whom the Demi- Gods and Demons craved alike to possess but She Herself opted for Lord Vishnu Who is the ultimate Preserver of the Universe; then appeared the dame,Varuni, with voluptuous eyes who could control drunkards, whom King Bali opted for on behalf of the Demon World. Finally, a strong, stout, blackish and young person, known as Dhanvantari, the Physician of the Universe, whom both Demons and Demi- Gods agreed to share. But, the most awaited jar of Nectar noticed by the Demons was forcibly snatched away, to the disappointment of Demi-Gods. But, Lord Vishnu created a cover of ‘Maya’ ( Illusion) and let the Demons fight among themselves for the sips of the Nectar. In the confusion, there appeared an outstanding beauty with most sonorous voice and dazzling figure, who was Lord Himself in the form of Mohini Murthi. She had mesmerised the Demons who fell in a spell and made them request her to do justice in equitably distributing the Nectar to all by turns. She made formations as per seniority and made them wait for turns. She started with the formations of the Demons, but by means of illusion had actually commenced the distribution among the Demi-Gods. Rahu a Demon somehow got into the camp of Demi- Gods and this was noticed by Sun and Moon, who complained the fact to Mohini Murthi and immediately the Sudarsana Chakra severed Rahu’s head, but since he drank the drops of Nectar already, Lord Brahma gave him the status of a Planet; but since then, Rahu became the enemy of Sun and Moon and torment them periodically by way of eclipsing them till date. At this juncture, Lord Vishnu revealed his identity and exhorted the Demons to mend their diabolic actions and take refuge in the Superior Energy instead of becoming slaves of the Eight Materialistic Vices, Viz. Kama ( Desire), Krodha (Anger), Moha (Infatuation), Mada (Arrogance), Lobha ( Avarice) and Matsara ( Jealousy). He advised that in the ultimate analysis, only He would provide salvation which tantamounts to Eternity, which indeed the Nectar that they craved for.
War by Demons with Demi-Gods
Lord Vishnu’s exhortation to the Danavas fell flat on their ears; instead, they became more violent than before, especially as they were denied access to Nectar and got frustrated. Many demons like Taraka, Sumbha, Nisumbha, Jambha and Arista continued to terrorise Trilokas. They were also fortified with boons of invincibility from Lord Brahma on account of their intense prayers and harsh Sacrifices. Led by Indra riding Airavata the celesial Elephant, Demi-Gods like Vayu, Varuna, Agni, Sun, Moon, and various other planets, and associates retaliated
Sumbha and Nisumbha were annihalated by Goddess Durga Devi, Indra defeated Bali, Moon fought with Rahu, Brihaspati with Sukracharya, Lord Siva with Jambha, Sanaischara with Narakusura, Kartikeya with Taraka, Yamaraja with Kalanabha, Surya with hundred sons of Bali headed by Bana and so on. As Demon Kalanemi attacked Garuda, Lord Vishnu’s disc severed his head as also those of Mali, Sumali and Malyavan, as these Demons became too powerful in the battle. Demi-Gods Varuna, Vayu and Agni chased and killed thousands of Demons like roaring lions to flocks of deer. After the battle ended, substantial Demon population, especially of those who claimed invincibility, got dwindled to a large extent.But the display of valour, scheming and determination in Deva-Danava War was an unparalelled spectacle witnessed never before nor later.
Suka Muni’s prophecies about future Manus
Maha Muni Suka prophesied the prospective Manu Prajapatis to King Parikshith as follows: While the seventh Manu was Siddhadeva, son of Vivasvan was in rule, the Great Battle of Devas and Danavas took place and Lord Vamana was born as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. But, when the eighth Manu, Savarni commenced the rule of the Universe, King Bali became Indra, as he defeated the earlier Indra and consequently Lord Vamana asked for the three feet in charity and pushed Bali down to Sutala which was more opulent than Indraloka, as Lord Vishnu was pleased with Bali’s great quality of charity and thus made the latter contented
The ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth Manus would respectively be Daksha-Savarni, Brahma- Savarni, Dharma Savarni, Rudra-Savarni, Deva-Savarni and Indra-Savarni respectively.Suka Maha Muni also prophesied that the respective Indras in the ninth to fourteenth Manvantaras would be Adhbhuta, Sambhu, Vaidhrata, Ratadhama, Divaspati and Suchi.The total duration of the fourteen Manvantaras is a cycle of one thousand Maha Yugas or one Kalpa and two Kalpas make a full day/night of Lord Brahma ie.8,640,000,000 human years!Indeed, several changes happened during Lord Brahma’s one day, comprising fourteen Manvantaras.During the Deva-Danava Battle, King Bali’s life ended but was revived by Danava Guru, Sukracharya,the son of illustrious Sage Bhrigu. In a battle with Indra, King Bali defeated Indra again and hence the need for Lord Vishnu to take the incarnation of Lord Vamana to push Bali down to ‘Sutala’ and relieve him of the position/ title of Indra. This story was given in detail by Suka Maha Muni to King Parikshith. After reviving King Bali’s life, Sukracharya and his disciple Brahmanas prompted King Bali to secure Spiritual Energies by way of performing a highly potent Sacrifice or ‘Yagna’, called Viswajit.Even as the most powerful Yagna, as conceived and perfected by Sukracharya was in progress, the Heavens received shock waves and shadows of nemesis seeking revenge against Indraloka took substantive shape. With each helping of ghee served into the Fire-pit, a celestial Chariot took shape with horses and paraphernalia including armoury, arrows and equipment required for a battle never scripted in the past. No doubt, the fight planned by King Bali was not of the magnitude of the Battle of Devas and Danavas- where the entire strengh of Evil on the one hand and Virtue on the other which participated in full force of Demons and of Gods and Goddesses including Lord Siva, Durga, Kartikeya and Supreme Lord Narayana Himself- but was only with the aim of dislodging Indra and Demi-Gods from the Heaven. Thus this was like a territorial war between Bali and Indra. At the same time, the fight was tough enough since Demi-Gods had celestial powers and armoury like Indra’s Thunderbolt and the sriking power of individual Demi-Gods, apart from the Nectar that they consumed assuring them of eternal life, if not of invincibility. As a result of the Yagna, powerful bows and arrows and other equipment of destruction known as ‘Mantrastras’ capable of attacking the counterpart arms of fight possessed by Agni (Fire-God), Varuna ( Rain God), Vayu ( Wind-God), Sun, Moon and various other planets were made available, and with the blessings of Sukracharya the battle ended with the clear defeat of Indra and his associate Demi- Gods. Thus entered Bali into the Heaven, when Indra and Demi-Gods were obliged to exit. Bali controlled Heaven, Earth and Antariksha besides the Sub- terrain world.
As Bali and followers were gloating over their victory and occupying the ‘Titled- Chairs’ of Indra and other Demi-Gods, the erstwhile holders of the honours were at large without refuge.The spectacle became unbearable to the Mother figure of Devathas, Aditi, who beseeched her husband Sage Kasyapa.He advised her to perform Payo Vrata or Sarva Yajna during the bright fortnight of Phalguna (February-March) for twelve days ending ‘Dvadasi’subsisting only on milk, worshipping the Supreme Power Narayana with Arghya/ Padya/ flowers/ incense material/ lamp lighting and prasada and such other rituals, observe Karma Kanda, Jnana Kanda and Upasana Kanda, meditate Him as having Two heads ( Prayaniya and Udaniya), Three Legs (Savana Traya), Four Horns ( Four Vedas) and Seven ‘Chandas’ such as Gayatri Chanda, Anushtup Chanda, Usnik, Brihati, Pankti, Trishthup, Jagati, Atichhanda, Atyasthi, Atijagati, and Ativirath and other metered hymns. During the period, one should observe celibacy, sleep on floor, bathe thrice a day and so on. On the final three days ending ‘Purnami’, there would have to be oblations to Fire-God as per the instructions of Priests, organise ‘Samaradhana’ or sumptuous meals to one and all and satisfy the Brahmanas, especially the Spiritual Master ( Aharya) and his assistants like Hota, Udghata, Adharvu and Brahma. Most importantly, distribute Vishnu Prasad liberally to low class persons, the Poor, the invalids and animals. Sincere performance of the Sarva Yajna ought to yield far reaching results by regaining the lost glories and attaining fresh rewards. This was the essence of Sage Kasyapa’s advice to Aditi and her progeny. As advised the Demi Goddess Aditi performed the Vrata meticulously under the guidance and association of Sage Kasyapa and they were blessed by Narayana to take the incarnation of Lord Vishnu
Incarnation of Vamana and suppresion of King Bali
On Sukla Sravana Dwadasi-the twelfth day of the bright moon’s fortnight –in the month of Bhadra was thus born as Lord Vamana to Aditi and Kasyapa Prajapathi at the most auspicious time. At His Thread Ceremony, the Dwarf Brahmin Boy shone with extraordinary radiance, when the Sun God uttered the Gayatri Mantra, Brihaspati gave the Sacred Thread, Kasyapa Muni a straw belt, Mother Earth a deer skin, Moon the ‘Brahma danda’ the representative rod of a Brahmachari, Aditi a cloth as ‘kaupina’( underwear), Lord Brahma a Waterpot, Goddess Sarasvati provided a string of ‘Rudrakshamala’, the Seven Sages a Kusa Grass mat, the Presiding Deity of Sky an umbrella, and Demi-God of Wealth, Kubera, a bowl for beseeching alms.
Lord Vamana attended the ‘Asvamedha Yagna’ ( Horse Sacrifice Function) organised by King Bali and the latter was pleased to grant the Brahmachari any wish, as he was the Chief of three fourths of the Universe! The Dwarf Boy asked for mere three feet of land! Guru Sukracharya got suspicious as the request was unusual, but King Bali dismissed the warnings of the Guru saying that if Lord Vishnu Himself made the desire, he would never hesitate, as after all, the Sage Dadhichi gave away his backbone and King Sibi a pound of flesh from his thighs, all for the benefit of the Universe. Guru Sukracharya made a last bid of entering the vessel to stop the flow of water as the symbol of giving away the three feet of place in charity to the Dwarf Brahmana by the King but the Lord was too clever for the Guru and pierced a grass piece ( Kusa) into the latter’s eye which got blinded forever.Thus concluded the ceremony of the charity, when the Lord expanded the body to strech his two feet- one on the Earth, another on the skies; as the third foot was not possible to be accommodated any where else-Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka- the King volunteered to place it on his head which was pushed down to the sub-terrain under-world of Rasatala. As the Lord was extremely pleased with the devotion of King Bali, He blessed him to reside in Rasatala as an Illustrious King, and transformed the Place as comfortable and glorious as the Heaven itself as per the order to Visvakarma. Indeed the place was on the soles of the feet of Lord Vishnu Himself! Therafter, the Demi- Gods regained their Titles and Thrones thus ending the temporary phase of Demons dominating the Heavens. Aditi was double greeted by Devatas and Lord Vishu Himself for her initiative and perseverance, Sukracharya was exonerated of his indiscretions by Lord Vishnu, and the balance of power was reverted back to the position of equilibrium and status quo ante in the Universe
Role of Satyavrata in ‘ Matsya Avatara’
Unfolding the Story of King Satyavrata and his role in the context of Lord’s Incarnation as a Giant Fish, Suka Maha Muni informed King Parikshith that the former King would become the Seventh Manu as Sraddhadeva. The incident of the Incarnation of the Lord as Fish was recalled in this context since King Satyavrata was once paying offerings of water in River Kirtimala, a small fish appeared on his palms and requested him not to throw it back in the River as big fishes might swallow it and as such keep it safe in a pot.
As the fish was preserved in a pot, it became too big for the successive containers and finally grew into a huge fish which filled in an entire Ocean. The giant fish being the Super Energy Narayana Himself asked the King to await a Mammoth Ship and that meanwhile he should collect samples of good human beings, flora and fauna to be loaded along with himself aboard while the Sapta Rishis ( Seven Sages) would be already on it. The Giant Boat would be hooked on to the horns of the Fish Incarnation of the Lord and be propelled by Vasuki the collosal Serpent when the totality of the Universe would be submerged with water. Lord Brahma would have been awaken from his slumber by then since the Demon Hayagriva who stole Vedas and other Scriptures would be destroyed and gradually the Universe would be revived from the fury of water and Lord Brahma would resume the task of Creation afresh.
Present Manu Vivasvanta and his progeny
As King Satyavrata became the Manu Viavasvata or Sraddhadeva, Maha Muni Suka gave an account of the progeny of Manu Vaivasvanta, son of Vivasvan and Samjna. The Manu and his wife Sraddha begot ten sons,viz. Ikshvaku, Narga, Saryati, Dishta, Dhrasta, Karusaka, Narisyanta, Prasadhra, Nabhaga and Kavi. Ikshvaku’s lineage was Vikukshi- Sasada- Puranjaya-Kakukstha- Pruthu-Visvagandhi-Chandra-Yuvanashra and Mandhata. From another son of Manu was Saryati whose daughter was Sukanya wedded to Chyavan Muni
Mandhata’s prominent son was Ambarisha. Purukusta (another son of Mandhata) was married to Narmada of the sub-terranian clan, and the lineage included Tribandhama and Satyavrata, known as Trisanku whose lineage was followed by Harischandra and Rohita and after seven generations was born Sagara and his 60,000 sons-Ansuman-Dilipa and Bhagiratha. A few happenings of Vaivasvata Manu’s progeny were interesting. Saryati, son of the Manu, who was a saintly person, who had a pretty daughter Sukanya. The latter went round a garden attached to the Hermitage of Sage Chyavana and by mistake pierced two shining earthworms with a thorn and as a result the entire group of soldiers’ urine and stools were obstructed.This frightened the father and daughter who approached the Sage and apologised for the indiscretion and in a softer mood Saryati offered the daughter to the Sage. A few Aswini Kumars, who had the powers to convert old as youth, obliged the Sage with vigour and smartness . When Saryati visited the daughter, he admonished her to see her with a younger person. Sukanya clarified that the aged Sage was converted to a youth, thanks to the powers of Asvini Kumars! Nabhaga another son of Manu was also named Nabhaga and the junior Nabaga was in the father’s footsteps. The father distributed his property to all the sons equally. The junior returned to his brothers for his share of the proprety and they cheated him to go back to their father.The father directed son Nabhaga to attend a great Sacrifice being held nearby and advised him to recite Vedic Hymns so that the planetary Demi-Gods would be pleased to give riches to him. The junior Nabhaga did exactly like what his father said and indeed the planetary heads were pleased to present substantial wealth. But a dark looking person objected to parting the wealth to the junior and asked the father Nabhaga to settle the issue. The father sided with the dark person and He was Lord Siva Himself who taught them the most significant route of self-realisation rather than material wealth.
King Ambarisha was the son of Nabhaga and he was a highly exalted devotee of Lord Narayana. Once, he and his queen performed a rigorous year- long ‘Vrath’ of Ekadasi and Dvadasi and after successfully completing with charities and food-festivals on the final day were about to break their fast when Durvasa and a large retinue of his disciples appeared unannounced. The King requested the Sage and retinue for food and the Sage agreed; they departed to bathe in the River Yamuna and perform the daily worship. Meanwhile, the time for breaking the fast was hardly a muhurta away and hence with the permission of the Brahmanas had a symbolic sip of the holy teertha ( water). The Sage on return was in rage as he felt disrespected and created a demon with a trident to punish the royal couple.Ambarisha kept his cool and hardly got perturbed. Lord Narayana sent His Disc-the Sudarsana Chakra- which not only destroyed the demon, but also followed Durvasa who had to run for life.The Sage approached Indra and Demi Gods who expressed their inability to control the Disc, and so did Lord Brahma and Lord Siva. Durvasa approached Vaikuntha and beseeched clemency but Lord Narayana said that He was in the control of His devotees and as such he would have to entreat King Ambarisha only for pardon. Finally, the Sage Durvasa who cursed the devotee King Ambarisha had to seek forgiveness from Ambarisha himself!
Tracing the origin of Ikshvaku, the eldest son of Vaivasvata Manu, Suka Muni connected the lineage to King Puranjaya ( Kakustha) who fought a war between Demons and Demi-Gods on behalf of Indra on the condition that Indra would take the form of a bull. Puranjaya rode on the hump of the Great Bull and hence Puranjaya’s title was ‘Kakustha’( hump of the Bull) as also Indravahana or the vehicle of Indra.In the family lineage of Puranjaya was born King Yuvanashva, who performed Indra Yagna to beget a child. During the Sacrifice days one night the King felt thirsty and entered the Fire Spot area and drank the Sacred Water meant to bless his wife a child. As the Brahmanas found the water pot empty, they were aghast that the King drank the Water and eventually, he got a child from his abdomen. The boy cried for milk and that was not possible from the father; Indra put his index finger in the child’s mouth and thus saved him. The Boy was Mandhata, who became eventually an undisputed Emperor of the World comprising seven islands-‘from where Sun rose to where it set’. He was a terror to Demon Ravana and other Rakshasas. [He was stated to have discovered Lake Manasarovar near Mount Kailash as he was reputed to have made penance at the banks of the Lake under the mountain range was named after him. It was believed that there was a Serpent Mansion where Mandhata prayed and from a tree dropped fruits making big noises like ‘Jam’ and the area was known as ‘Jambudweep’]. Mandhata’s wife Chatrarathi alias Bindumati was a pious lady who begot two sons, Purukutsa and Muchikunda and fifty daughters. Sage Saubhari an old person who lived twelve years under water in penance was tempted to marry as he found fishes having sex and procreating children. He hesitantly asked Mandhata to let him marry any of his daughters. Mandhata was reluctant as Saubhari was diseased and old, but could not disagree as the Sage might get furious; he told the Sage that his family custom was that all the daughters must marry the same person and that even one of them should not refuse the Sage.The Sage with his mystical powers transformed himself into a handsome youth and thus all the daughters agreed to marry him. The Sage made mansions for each of the girls. But, in course of time, Sage Saurabha realised that because of the fish in water, his entire Spiritual life was destroyed and although late in his life reverted back to a more introspective life eventually and intensified his devotion to Lord Vishnu.
While Ambarisha ( son of Mandhata), Haritha and Youvanasva were the most important persons of the Mandhata dynasity, Purukutsa (another prominent son of Mandhata) married Narmada - sister of serpent brothers- and she took her husband to the Sub-Terrian Region, (Rasatala), as per the wish of King Vasuki and with the approval of Lord Vishnu to overcome erring Gandharvas. The lineage from Purukutsa was Trasaddasyu, Anaranya, Haryasva, Praruna, Tribandhana and Satyavrata or the wellknown Trisanku who kidnapped a Bahmana bride whose father cursed Trisanku to become a ‘Chandala’ or a very low class human being.Sage Visvamitra espoused the cause of Trisanku and sought to despatch him in his mortal body to Heaven, but when Demi-Gods kicked him down, Visvamitra created another Heaven ( Trisanku Swarga) on the outer- space by the mystic powers of the Sage; it is said that Trisanku is still hanging upside down from Heaven.
Harischandra an unparalled Example of Truth and Virtue
King Harischandra etched for himself a bench-mark of truthfulness and virtue in Indian mythology. As a result of egoistic quarrels between the two Great Sages of Visvamitra and Vasishtha, the former backed up Trisanku-the father of Harischandra, as the latter defended Harischandra due to his truthfulness and virtuosity. In course of time, as the quarrel became intense and climaxed in both the Sages cursing each other to become birds upto some time limit. King Harischandra ruled his Kingdom with honesty and justice for many years but he had no offspring and thus prayed to Lord Varuna, who agreed to bless him a child on condition of sacrificing the child in course of time
Each time, Varuna reminded of the Sacrifice, Harischandra kept on postponing on some pretext or the other. Rohita the son knew about the arrangement and fled away into forests to save the sacrifice. As Harischandra failed to fulfil the obligation, the King was attacked by dropsy. Rohita desired to return to his father. But Indra appeared as an old man and insisted on Rohita to go on pilgrimages. After a few years, another person as a substitute sacrifice was arranged and Harischandra was rid of the disease.The Sacrifice was performed by Harischandra and Varuna absolved the former of the obligation. Yet, Visvamitra continued to test Harischandra about his tenacity to keep up his mental equilibrium even under tough provocations; the Sage said that he dreamt of Harischandra’s promise to donate the entire Kigdom to him! Harischandra proved his virtue by making the Sage’s dream come true and left the Kingdom with his wife and son. He went to Kasi which was under the purview of Lord Siva and not out of the Kingdom donated. But the Sage appeared there and demanded ‘Dakshina’(Fees) for a Sacrifice done by the King under the supervision of the former. To pay the amount, Harischandra had to sell his wife and son as also bonded himself to work at a burial place and repay the remainder debt in running instalments! His wife and son had to perform menial chores in their Master’s house-hold and suffered unheard hardships. Once, the son was plucking flowers in the Master’s garden and died of a snake bite. With nobody to help, she carried the son’s body to the Cremation where Harischandra could not even recognise the family. As of his duty, he demanded taxes for the cremation of the son’s body and she had to sell her ‘Mangal Suthra’-the Sacred Chain, the most precious possesssion of a married woman, to pay for the taxes. She had to cover the dead body with half of her Saree, and as she was to take away the rest of the cloth too to pay for the last rites, there were miracles. Lord Vishnu, Indra and Devas appeared and so did Sage Visvamitra who tested the King and the family to the lowest points of wretchedness and misery. Harischandra and his wife displayed unprecedented determination and tenacity to uphold Virtue and Self-sacrifice. The Son Rohitasya was brought back to life and was made the King, while Harischandra and wife Chandramati were provided instant places in Heavens. Visvamitra helped to populate the Kingdom and set examples of Dharma and surrender to Almighty. Harischandra’s lineage after his son, Rohitasya was followed by sons Haritha-Champa-Sudeva-Vijaya-Bharuka-Vakra-Bahuka and Sagara ( Sa-Gara ie born with poison, as Bahuka’s co-wives tried to poison the boy’s mother). Emporer Sagara performed Asvamedha (Horse) Sacrifice and Indra hid the horse which was discovered by the unruly 60,000 sons of Sagara, nearby the place where Sage Kapila was practising Sankhaya Yoga and when disturbed badly, the Sage burnt all of them into ashes by his power. Sagara’s son by another wife, Asamanjasa or Ansuman pursued the search of the Sacrificial Horse and found the Horse where Kapila was in meditation. Ansuman begged of the Sage about the where- abouts of his cousins and was informed that the hooligans were burnt to death and could be brought back to life only when washed by the River of Ganges which could only be brought down to Earth from the Skies. The Sacrifice of Horse having been performed by Sagara, Ansuman began his devotion to Lord Siva to bring Ganges down to Earth. But neither he nor his father Dilipa could succeed in the mission. It was for Bhagiradha to purse the operation further.
Bhagiradha a model of perseverance
If Harishandra gave an eternal memory in truthfulness and integrity, a person of the same dynasity proved as a role model in tenacity. His life’s mission was to bring Ganges down to Earth from Heavens. Bhagiradha’s prayers were indeed granted by Mother Ganges to the devotee but warned him that the force of the flow from the Heavens to Earth could be withstood by no less than Lord Siva Himself! Bhagiradha never stopped his grand endeavour and worshipped Lord Siva with ausretity and purity who agreed, not only because of the sincerity with which the devotee desired to fulfill the long-standing family wish but also owing to the reason of Universal advantage.
The Lord assumed a massive body and controlled the force of the River flowing from Lord Vishnu’s feet and bore the brunt of the impact on His head in His ‘Jatajut’or twisted hairs and released but a portion of the Holy River. Bhagiradha directed the fiery flow by riding a fast Chariot and brought it to the place where the ashes of his forefathers were purified and their souls liberated to Heavens. Till date, humanity continues to be grateful to him for the ever lasting memory of his gigantic efforts in our reaping the fruits of his labour in the huge land-mass covering entire ‘Aryavarta’ ( Northern India)!
Lord Rama the Epic hero and an Illustrious Incarnation of Lord Vishnu
From the lineage of Bhagiradha and against the background of stalwarts like Ikshvaku, Mandhata, Ambarisha, Harischandra and Sagara, as also in the immediate past of persons like Sudasa ( who was cursed by Sage Vasishtha to become a man-eater), Balika (who escaped Parasu Rama’s axing spree of Kshatriya Kings and hence his names ‘Nari Kacavacha’- hidden by women), Khatvanga-Dirghabahu-Raghu,Aja and Dasaradha, the father of Sri Rama-the Hero of Ramayana- and his memorable brothers Lakshmana, Bharata and Satrughna.
Maha Muni summarised one of the most heartening Epic Stories of Ramayana in great brevity as the largest part of humanity knew the nuances of each episode in it, irrespective of age and gender and is too popular to be over- emphasized. Lord Rama-the ‘Maryada Purusha’ is the unparalelled archetype hero of virtue, valour, maturity, discipline, dedication, discretion, and a model man to humanity.To his father he was a loyal son; to his mothers a person of genuine affection; to his brothers an inspirer; to his Gurus an obedient pupil of exception; to his relatives and friends a man of unfailing help; to the enemies of Virtue a demolisher; and to his followers and devotees a guiding star and provider. A multi-splendoured personality, Rama was an incarnation of Supreme Energy and indeed as an ideal human being having arrived in the midst of mankind.
Sri Rama followed Visvamitra to safeguard the Sacred Yagna undisturbed and in the process killed the wicked Tataki and Subahu and frightened away Maricha to flee; learnt Divine Powers to win Evil forces; relieved Devi Ahalya of Sage Gautama’s (her husband’s) curse to become a stone as Indra slept with her by trickery taking the form of Gautama; broke the famous ‘Siva Dhanush’ as a child play; married Devi Sita in ‘Swayamvara’( bride’s choice); lightened the ego of ‘Parasurama’who destroyed the erring race of Kshatriya Kings by his axe in successive wars; followed paternal instruction to spend fourteen long years of ‘Vanavas’ ( forest life) along with Devi Sita and followed by loyal brother Lakshmana; treated co- mother Kaikeyi without any ill-feeling and caressed mothers Kausalya and Sumitra with affection; assuaged the hard feelings of Bharata and Shatrughna and persuaded the former to maintain Kingship; shared the affection and wiped away the genuine tears of the Subjects of ‘Ayodhya’, the Capital City; appreciated the service and devotion of devotee ‘Guha’, boatsman in crossing the River Sarayu; shared the joy of eating fruits partly bitten by the grand mother figure of Devotee ‘Sabari’; relieved of a curse of punished Demoness ‘Surpanakha’, the sister of the Epic Villian Ravana, asking Lakshmana to disfigure her by cutting her nose and ears and carry the message of warning to him; annihilated thousands of Demons headed by Khara, Dushana and Trisira as despatched by Ravana as a sequel to Surpanakha’s incident; inspired confidence in the fugitive Vanara Heir-Apparent Sugriva that Rama could kill by breaking Seven Huge Trees in a row with a single arrow; helped Sugriva to terminate the Powerful Vanara King Vali and installed the former as the King of ‘Vanaras’( Monkey Brigade); received in immense measure the affection, loyalty and devotion of the illustrious Hanuman and of many other Vanara Warriors like Jambavanta and Angada; chased a golden deer ( disguised Demon Maricha) since Devi Sita desired to get the animal and when she crossed the ‘Lakshman Rekha’ ( a line drawn by Lakshmana to safeguard her by fiery Mantras) she fell a victim of Ravana in disguise as an asetic who forcibly took her away to Lanka; found Devi Sita disappeared from the hermitage and along with Lakshmana searched for Sita in profound grief ; found the Great Bird ‘Jatayu’, an eye witness to the cries of Devi Sita being carried away by Ravana; deputed Hanuman to cross over the Ocean, meet Devi Sita and to ransack entire Lanka; took the help of Sugriva, Hanuman and the full Monkey Brigade in crossing the Ocean across the ‘Rama Sethu’ built by the Brigade and the Divine Architect Visvakarma; welcomed Vibhishana, the virtuous brother of Ravana, into his camp; deputed peace emissaries to Ravana to return Devi Sita; and when the fight became inevitable a battle as fierce and decisive was fought which destroyed the Demon camp totally. No doubt, Ram’s opposition could not be wished away as Demon stalwarts like the mighty Kumbhakarna, the wily Indrajit and innumerable experts of war like Kumbha, Nikumbha, Dhumrakesa, Durmukha, Surantaka and Narantaka besides Ravana himself proved tough to be destroyed.The Ten-headed Ravana who was a terror to the World was almost invincible, especially since his ten heads were sprouting again and again, till Vibhishana revealed that there was a deposit of life providing nectar in his abdomen. Finally the ultimate success was that of Dharma versus Adhrama and triumph of Truth and Virtue. Sri Rama and Devi Sita returned to Ayodhya when the celebrations were not only restriced to the Kingdom but to the entire humanity and indeed the whole Universe. The vast Kingdom of Rama was administered as a model to humanity and had gone down in the history of Earth as Rama Rajya! Even so, human nature being what it was even in Threta Yuga, there were stray voices in the Kingdom that Devi Sita stayed in Ravana’s custody for long time and despite the so-called Fire Test ( Agni Pariksha) at Lanka, her existence like a ‘Pati Vrata’ ( Pure wife) was suspect! Sri Rama being a King of Virtue had to take the ugly decision to send away Devi Sita to forests even while she was in the family way and Sage Kanva provided refuge to her ; Lava and Kusa, the twin boys of Rama and Sita were born and grew as experts of War Techniques under the guidance of the Sage.There was an altercation between the twins on one hand and Sri Rama’s brothers on the other when the twins did not release the Sacrificial Horse as Rama performed the ‘Asvamedha Yagna’. Finally Sri Rama himself came to fight the twins. Devi Sita had to reveal that Rama and the twins were related as father and sons.Finally Sita’s mother, Bhudevi ( Earth) absorbed Sita into her lap and the illustrious Ram-Sita’s Golden Connection had ended, albeit temporarily as their incarnations as Vishnu and Lakshmi got revived again.Meanwhile, Rama observed celibacy and ruled for thirteen thousand years, before returning to Vaikuntha, thier own abode.
Details of Chandra Vamsa – the Dynasty of Moon
Maha Muni Suka described the long lineage of Sri Rama, especially of Maharaja Kusa and his descendants and the Dynasty of Ikshvaku ended with the last King Sumitra, thus terminating the legendary ‘SuryaVamsa’of Sun-God. The ‘Chandra Vamsa’ originated from Soma the Moon God. He was in charge of Brahmanas, drugs and illumination. Soma performed Rajasuya Yagna-the Sacrifice signifying his prominence and was proud
He desired Tara, the wife of Brihaspati, the Spirutual Teacher of Devatas and forcibly kidnapped her. Tara too liked Soma.While Sukracharya took the side of Soma, Indra and other Demi-Gods as also Lord Siva sided Brihaspati. Lord Brahma chided Soma, but already, Tara became pregnant. Brihaspati was indeed upset with the unchaste Tara and instead of cursing her, he said that after her death, he would not touch her ashes.Meanwhile an atrractive boy was born to Tara, named Buddha and the latter begot the famed Pururava. As Pururava was grown up, he fell in love with the Celestial dansuese Urvasi and Sun and Varuna cursed her to turn human. Urvasi came down to Earth and decided to stay with him, provided he took care of two lambs which also fell along with her from heaven. Gandharvas hid the lambs and Urvasi left Pururava in anger.He desired to perform Sacrifices to reach out Gandharva Loka as he was infatuated with Urvasi, but there was no concept of Karma Kanda for this purpose of a human to reach Gandharva Loka to fulfil his desire. As such, he introduced the new practice, reached Gandharva Loka and had six sons.
Parasu Rama, an paradigm of paternal devotion and destruction of Evil
In the lineage was born Jamadagni and his wife Renuka gave birth to their youngest son Parasu Rama or Rama with an axe. He destroyed the whole clan of contemporary Kings who were tyrants and cruel to their Subjects and also to believers in Almighty. The problem started with a King Kartaviryarjuna, who was puffed up with Sacred Powers like Anima and Laghuma [ There are Eight Siddhis viz. Anima: ability to reduce size; Mahima : to magnify the size to the biggest; Garima:to make any thing the heaviest; laghima:to make weightless; prakamyam:to realise anything desired; prapti: access to any where; vasitva: power to defeat; isitva: to secure supremacy]
He worshipped Lord Dattatreya and was blessed with one thousand hands.In fact, he was a terror to Ravana. He visited Sage Jamadagni’s hermitage once, was impressed with the Celestial Cow, Kamadhenu and asked the Sage to gift it, which was refused. In the abscence of the Sage at the hermitage the King’s men stole the cow and this infuriated the Sage as also Parasurama. The latter visited Kartaviryarjuna and in a fierce fight between the King and his men, Parasurama killed the powerful King. But in the abscence of Parasurama, Kartaviryuarjuna’s sons killed the Sage and the brothers of Parasurama, but the latter killed ten thousands of the sons and in that very frame of mind destroyed the entire clan of Kshatriyas or the Kings during some twenty one wars. In another incident, Renuka the mother of Parasurama reached a River for bathing and found a Gandharva King too bathing with his wives. She had a slight fascination of the Gandharva in her mind.This was noticed by Jamadagni and as she returned from the river-bed ordered her head to be chopped. Son Parasurama killed his mother with his axe instantly even as an evil- feeling of mind was felt by her. Sage Jamadagni appreciated the spontaneous action and asked for a boon to Parasurama and the latter requested that his mother and brothers be brought to life again. Such was the paternal devotion and fearlessness of Parasurama who re-established Dharma and valour. Reappearnce of Parasurama was prominently recognised in Ramayana, as Lord Rama won the hands of Sita Devi, after breaking the ‘Siva Dhanush’( Lord Siva’s own Bow) in a’Swayam Vara’- bride’s own choice of securing a husband. An egoistic Parasurama challenged Sri Rama (apparently to repose confidence in Public mind about Sri Rama) and retired after being humbled by the latter
Lineage of King Pururava
King Pururuva had four sons, Ayu, Srutayu, Jaya, and Vijaya. Ayu in turn begot Yati, Yayati and four other sons- notably Kshatravardhana whose fifth generation son was Saunaka Muni. Yati was cursed by Indra to become a snake and thus Yayati was the next King and his progeny were Yadu, Turvasau, Dhurhyu, Anu and Puru. Pururuva’s youngest son-Vijay-had important names in his clan like Jahnu who drank River Ganges in a sip, Puru, Gadhi and his daughter Satyavati married to Richika and their son Jamadagni whose son was Parasurama.
Pururava’s clan through generations included the son of Sumati, Dushyanta who was married to Shakuntala and their famed son Bharata. King Yayati, a Kshatriya by birth was married to Devayani, a Brahman and the daughter of Sage Sukracharya-the Guru of Rakshasas. This kind of wedding is known as Pratiloma, viz. a Brahmana Maiden wedding a Kshatriaya as against ‘Anuloma’ the vice-versa. The King also married Sarmishtha, the daughter of King Vrishaparva. Once when both the wives were bathing in a lake, Lord Siva and Parvati passed by and in hurry Sarmishtha coverd herself up mistakenly by the garment of Devayani, who rebuked the former.The reaction of Devayani was devastating referring to Caste relationships. Also, Devayani approached her father who reprimanded King Yayati and the King Vrishaparva. Sukracharya demanded that hence forth Sarmishta should be Devayani’s slave and forbade Sarmishtha in Yayati’s bed. In course of time Devayani got a child. Once when Yayati found Sarmishtha crying in a well in the garden; he sympathised with her, invited her into bed and she was concieved too.This infuriated Devayani as also Sukracharya and the latter cursed Yati to become old and impotent.As the King begged of the Sage’s pardon, the Guru said that if any body could exchange youth with the King’s old age, then the curse be waived. Yayati asked his sons one by one, but they argued that it was an absurd proposal; finally, the youngest son Puru accepted the request of his father. This was how, Pururava’s youth was revived thanks to his son Puru’s sacrifice. In this context, the Veda Base stated: Uttamas chinthitam kuryat, Proktha-kari thu Madhyamat, Adham’o-sraddhaya kuryat, Akartha Uccharitam Pithuh. ( A son who anticipates father’s wish to fulfill is First class, one who takes action to his instruction is second class but who refuses compliance is no-class!
In the Puru Vamsa, Dushyanta was born to Sumati.He visited the Hermitage of Sage Kanva and found a pretty maiden Shakuntala who was abandoned by Menaka, the Celestial Danseuse born after her affair with Visvamitra. Dushyantha and Menaka were wedded as per the Gandharva Marriage Rule. After giving birth to a son named Bharata, Shakunthala took the permission of Sage Kanva and approached King Bharata, but due to a curse of memory loss, Bharata was not prepared to accept the wedding. A heavenly voice was heard that Shakuntala was indeed his wife. After his father’s demise, Bharatha performed Horse Sacrifice and after defeating several Kingdoms, declared himself as an Emperor. He had three wives but as their sons did not resemble him they killed them! Bharat performed ‘Marut Stoma’ and the Demi-God Maruts presented him a son, named Bharadwaja. In the dynasty of Bharata, there was King Rantideva who was popular for charity. Once when food stuffs were available and they were about to eat, there came a Brahmana for charity; Rantideva gave away half of his share to the guest but soon the rest had to be given away to a beggar, to his dogs and a chandala.; he felt happy that he was able to overcome hunger and thirst in the process and Trimurthis appeared before him and blessed him with Salvation. It was to this illustrious lineage was born to Kuru the ancestor of Pandavas and Kauravas. From Kuru came Shantanu who was married to River Ganges and begot Bhishma and through his second wife Satyavati, a fisherman’s daughter, begot Vichitraveerya. As the latter was sick, Vedavyasa requested to bless the birth of King Kasi’s daughters Ambika and Ambalika as also of a Dasi or Sudri. While Ambika begot King Dhritharashtra, Ambalika gave birth to Pandu, and Sudri gave birth to Vidura. Dhritarashtra and Gandhari gave birth to hundred Kauravas headed by Duryodhana while Pandu married to Kunti who sought the help of Lord Yamaraja to bless the birth of Dharmaraja, Vayu to bless the birth of Bhima, Indra to bless the birth of Arjuna, and Aswani Devatahs to bless the births of Nakula and Sahadeva. The long lineage from King Yadu through Surasena to Krishna and Balarama was also interesting. King Surasena gave birth to Vasudeva and Kunthi. To Vasudeva and Devaki were born to Krishna and Balaram. Pandavas were born to Kunthi.
Maha Vishnu's Avatar as Krishna
Lord Krishna was the central-figure of Maha Bhagavata; in fact He dominated the entire scene of Dwapara Yuga in human manifestation. He was an Incarnation of the Supreme Energy or the Primeval Force, believed in as Vishnu or Krishna, for the purpose of identification and for anchoring on as a target of one’s pure thoughts and actions in multitudes of means ranging from simple prayers, devotion, rituals and Yoga to rigorous Sacrifices as per one’s own belief. Thus identified, humanity is able to visualize the Supreme Power - ignorantly or in great faith- and gives a shape or form to the Unknown!
It is that Krishna who aproached the humans as a model figure with the best of limbs, features, speech, actions, reflexes and most of all as the Provider, Forgiver, Corrector and Sourcer.Krishna’s birth was also shrouded in mystery. He made an appearance before the parents Vasudeva and Devaki ( Prajapati Sutapa and Prashni in their earlier births) advised them to transfer Him from Mathura to Gokul across the River Yamuna to the place of Nanda and Yashoda as the latter just delivered a baby at the same time but was not aware whether it was a boy or baby due to labour pains.Earlier, the seventh Child of Devaki and Vasudeva was miraculously transferred to Rohini, another wife of Nanda. His maternal uncle Kamsa was afraid of death and killed the previous babies.He tried to smash the head of the eighth child who was Devi Durga Herself. She warned Kamsa from the Sky that the real killer of Kamsa was safe elsewhere. While Gokul of was rejoicing the birth of the boys and the cow-herd Chief Nanda and Yashoda and were busy with Jataka Karma ( cutting the umbilical chords) and the year long Nandothsava celebrations, Kamsa was engaged in a massive search for babies born anew in his kingdom and ordered them to be killed. His investigators reached Gokul Village too and on witnessing the celebrations they confirmed the presence of the new born.The demoness Puthana who was engaged by Kamsa to kill babies visited Gokul and taking the form of a pretty lady entered Nanda’s house. Neither various Gopikas nor Yasoda stopped her, as they were all impressed by her charm and innocent looks. She lifted the Child and put Him on her lap and desired to breast-feed Him. There was deadly poison around her nipple which was sucked by the Lord and even while she was crying for help her real demoniac face and body were twisted and displayed . The entire village got petrified at the shock but the Child was happy and playful. As the Child grew three months old, Nanda’s household was busy performing the ‘Uhthana’ function of lifting the Child from cradle to shoulders. While Brahmanas were reciting Hymns ( Mantras) and performing offerings to Fire God, there was busy activity alround with guests and relatives.The Child was kept in a make-shift bed under the shade of a cart in the court yard, surrounded by Gopikas, children and others. Playfully, the Child lifed one of His soft and tiny legs up as though He was fighting and throwing the cart and indeed the heavy cart was broken into pieces and the mortal remains of a huge monster ( ‘Sakatasur’- a cart demon) sent by Kamsa presented a ghastly sight.In another instance on a day Yashoda kept the Child on he lap when He was a year old and suddenly she realised that the Child was heavy like a mountain and she had to immediately put Him down on the ground. Almost then there was a fearful whirlwind and dust storm and there was darkness all around. The Child was not visible for a while. Gradually, the dust got settled and the entire Village could witness a massive heap of a Demon Trinivartha sent by Kamsa again and the demon’s throat was choked and throttled.
On completion of a year, the two sons were named Balaram and Krishna. As they grew they were displaying charming tricks and playful mischief bringing ecstatic joy not only to the parents but to the entire village especially Gopikas (Maidens) with whom endless pranks were played like stealing butter, embarrassing them in several ways and enchanting them all differenly; in fact the life style of Gokula Village got transformed to that of a heaven and they were all blessed indeed!But there was an underneath devotion and spiritual awareness prevailing among the persons of Gokula and there was even a sub-conscious feeling that the two boys were not ordinary but incarnations of God. While the playmates were all playing once, Balarama who was elder complained to Yashoda that Krishna was eating earth, the mother found that Krishna’s hands were full of dirt and she asked Krishna to open his mouth.Yashoda almost fainted to view the entire Universe in Krishna’s mouth with fleeting visions of the Sky, Earth, mountains, oceans, and the planetary system. She was amazed to realise that Krishna was Vishnu Himself, but too soon she got out of that consciousness created by a transitory illusion ( Maya) and started fondling the Kids as usual. Very often, Krishna looked so innocent that Yashoda discounted the pretty complaints made by Gopis against the lad either out of fondness or envy.As she got fed up one day, she tied Him to a grinding stone kept between twin trees, Yamala and Arjuna in their back yard and started her routine.After a while she heard big noises of falling trees and shrieking screams of Gopikas and there stood two personalities with radiance bowing before the boy Krishna; apparently the two were the opulent and conceited sons of Demi-God of Wealth, Kubera. Narada cursed the sons of Kubera- Nalakubara and Manigriva- to become the twin trees in the backyard of Nanda’s house and await Krishna to release the curse.
Nanda and the elders of Gokula felt that weird incidents were happening in the Village and thus decided to shift to a lush green and fertile forest known as Brindavan. Indeed this area was far better, as there was a mountain Govardhan was also nearby. The Vraja Vasis were happier as their lives were more comfortable under His shade. Their crops were richer, climate was healthier and the Gopas and Gopikas had plenty of space to play, enjoy and venture out, in the excellent company of Balarama and Sri Krishna. The sonorous flute of Krisha, the ankle bell sounds of maidens, the joyful dances of men and women, and the social functions of the elders gave a highly romantic and contented atmosphere at the new environs But at same time, there were a number of incidents continued nevertheless, each fortifying the underlining faith and awe in Balarama and Krishna as super beings. Examples included the killing of Dhenukasura who mixed up with cows and calves of Bridavan; Bakasura, a fresh water wading bird, heron, with a long beak and a gigantic features who attacked Krishna who tore off the powerful jaws and beaks; Aghasura, the huge Python who devoured boys but Krishna entered its enormous mouth and saved them before killing; the fearful serpent Kaliya of lake Kalindi was unapproachable to human beings, animals especially cows, birds, fishes etc. which freely used to stray as the waters were fuming hot with poisonous flames. Krishna’s playmates described the lake as entering into Hell gates.But He desired to teach a lesson to Kaliya and family who made an exclusive residence in the lake, often moving out of it in the surroundings, but for the fear of Garuda, the carrier of Lord Vishnu. Krishna however jumped into the lake and attacked the most obnoxious creature and subdued it after a fierce fight for days together. Nanda and Yashoda wanted to enter the lake out of desperation, but Balarama prevented saying that Krishna would emerge dancing on its hundred and one hoods. Indeed He did likewise and ordered Kaliya and family to quit the lake and enter the ocean and assured that His footprints would be recognised by Garuda and as such there was no problem from the serpents to move out. In another instance, demon Pralamba disguised as a cow-herd boy and Balarama sensing it desired to play a game Hirana Kreedanam ( carriers and passengers) by splitting two parties-one headed by Krishna and another by Balarama. Pralamba disguised as cowherd boy had purposively lost the game so that he would carry away Balarama as he had won. Sitting on the back of the demon, Balarama squeezed the demon’s body and sat on him as though as a mountain and thus killed him.Another incidence was Krishna’s feat of lifting the mountain Govardhan Giri by His little finger, as Varuna the God of Rains was annoyed with the villagers as they did not perform the traditionl worship and lashed with devastating rains continously.Consequently, Varuna and Indra apologised the indiscretion of Varuna to Lord Krishna.
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to the lotus feet of Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Mahaswamy ji and also my humble greatulness to Brahmasree Sreeman V D N Rao ji for the collection)