The Essence of Puranas – Devi Bhagavata  Purana

Emphasizing the Holiest Name of Maha  Devi Bhagavati, Suta Maha Muni addressed a congregation of Sages headed by Saunaka Muni at ‘Naimisaranya’, the Forest of Naimisa as the Kali Yuga had no access to that Sacred Place, since the ‘Manomaya Chakra’( The Wheel of Mental Illusion) created by Brahma occupied the entire World excepting the Naimisa Forest. The outer rim of the Wheel became thin and would stop rolling further and hence the Forest was chosen as the Sanctified one.
The unfolding  of  the subject matter was  that of Devi Bhagavata Purana, originally recited by Krishna Dvaipayana Maharshi Veda Vyasa, who described it as Maha Purana, elevating its status above the Eighteen Main Puranas, viz. Agni Purana, Bhagavata Purana, Bhavishya Purana, Brahma Purana, Brahmanda Purana, Brahma  Vivarta Purana, Garuda Purana, Kurma Purana, Linga Purana, Matysa Purana, Markandeya Purana, Narada Purana, Padma Purana, Skanda Purana, Siva Purana, Vamana Purana, Varaha Purana, and Vishnu Purana. Maharshi Veda Vyas divided the Maha Purana of Devi Maha Bhagavata  into Twelve ‘Skandas’(Volumes) containing three hundred Chapters totalling eighteen thousand Stanzas.The Maha Purana describes how Devi Bhagavati, the Primeval Energy, empowered ‘Maha Purusha’to create the Universe. The five major Characteristics covered in the Purana are ‘Sarga’ ( Creation of the Universe) by ‘Maha Purusha’or  the Primeval Energy, ‘Prati Sarga’( Secondary Creation), Dynasties of Solar and Lunar Kings, ‘Manvantaras’ beginning from Swayambhu Manu and the subsequent Manus, and Portrayal of Manus and other Kings.

Maha Vishnu remote-controlled by Devi Bhagavati
Devi Bhagavati or Vidya is known as an amalgam of Three Characteristics, viz. Satvika Sakti, reflected in Goddess Sarasvati; Rajasika Sakti as represented by Goddess Maha Lakshmi; and Tamasika Sakti known as Maha Kali. Also, the Maha Sakti is  represented by the Trinity viz. Lords Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Siva the Destroyer ( Srishti, Stithi and Laya Karakas).
In the Introductory Recitation of  Devi Bhagavatam, Sage Suta quoted Narada Maharshi as having confirmed by Lord Vishnu Himself to Lord Brahma  that His own  Premordial Energy of Universal Existence is the result of  Her empowerment to Maha Vishnu to execute Her commands! Maha Vishnu reiterated that He is subservient to Devi Bhagavati and is always in Her Tapasya or meditation, but at the same time, enjoys freedom to possess the company of Goddess Lakshmi, to incarnate Himself in various forms and features some times as Dasavataras as Fish, Tortoise, Boar, Man-Lion, Dwarf, Rama, Parasurama, Krishna, Buddha or Kalki; some times as Mohini to distribute ‘Amrit’ or Nectar and so on. But His actions are always remote-controlled and are oriented to protect the Virtuous and punish the Wicked. Thus Maha Vishnu is indeed the Highest Representative of Maha Devi with full freedom to act on His own, within the framework of Her Supreme Control.

Devi Bhagavati blesses Vishnu as Hayagreeva
As Indra and Demi-Gods were performing a Sacrifice in the presence of Brahma and Mahesa, they had all desired  Maha Vishnu  to preside over the Function and called on Him. But, Lord Vishnu was in ‘Yoga Nidra’or the Sleep of Deep Meditation and nobody would dare wake Him. More over, interruptions of somebody’s speech, the love of a couple, or waking up a person’s deep sleep are sins equivalent to ‘Brahma hatya’ or killing of a Brahmana.

The Lord was seated in a ‘Padmasana’ posture squatting with His legs folded and resting His chin on the top of His Bow with an Arrow fully drawn. As the Sacrifice was to be concluded, Lord Siva advised Lord Brahma to create a White Ant, ‘Vamri’ and directed it to bite the arrow gently which should wake up the Lord to consciousness and thus make the request. The Vamri sensed the delicate situation and requested Brahma to grant it a return boon for the great risk being undertaken in disturbing the Yoga Nidra of no less a personality than Maha Vishnu Himself! Lords Brahma and Siva gave a boon to the Vamri that what ever trickles from the  Sacrificial Offerings of Ghee in the Homa Kunda (Fire Pit) would spill out could be collected as its share. As commanded by Brahma, the insect bit the fore-end of the arrow and the tight string gave way at once and the entire Universe reverberated  with horrifying sound as the earth quaked, mountains were shaken, Oceans rose high, Sun lost way and Devas got traumatised. Maha Vishnu’s Head was severed with His Crown and there was no trace as to where it fell! Along with Devas, Brahma and Siva cried like human beings as there was a ‘Pralaya’-like situation( Universal Dissolution). Then Deva Guru Brihaspati consoled Indra, Brahma and Siva and emboldened them to countenance the grim situation, as such eventualities did happen in the past.

The only recourse that Lords Siva and Brahma, accompanied by Indra and Demi-Gods, had was that in one voice, they made an intense appeal  to Maha Devi Bhagavati, the Eternal Cause of Causes, the very Original Energy, the Life Force of entire Creation, the Bindu and Pranava, the Sourcing Fountain of knowledge and above all the Embodiment of Charity and Forgiveness. Pleased by the most sincere prayers of Brahma and Siva downward, ‘Nirguna’ Maha Devi hinted that there ought to be a cause for the tragedy. In the company of Maha Lakshmi, once Maha Vishnu laughed by thinking of something. Lakshmi Devi failed to understand the possible reason as to why Vishnu was so much amused about. Was it a spot on Her face or was it due to another woman in His desire? Then as Vishnu did not clarify, Lakshmi assumed ‘Tamasic Guna’ and gave a curse to Him saying that His head should fall off.  Thus happened the  resultant tragedy despite Her sincere repentance.
While this tragedy took place, there was a coincidental incident that a tough Davana of extraordinary cruelty, named Hayagriva or the  Demon with the neck of a horse, resorted to severe ‘Tapas’ ( Meditation) to Maha Bhagavati for thousands of years by following a strict regime of  Sacrifice and unflinching devotion. Maha Devi appeared before the Rakshasa and granted him a boon that no Power in the Universe could cause death to him, except by an Extraordinary Energy in the form similar to his own viz. Hayagriva form alone could destroy him. Brahma and Siva hastened with the solution to the present gravest tragedy and instructed Devata’s own Architect, Visvakarma to do the needful. The Architect  killed a horse at once and fixed its neck  to Lord Vishnu’s severed head and thus emerged Lord Hayagriva.

Vishnu destroys Madhu Kaitabha brothers
When Maha Vishnu was in Yoga Nidra in a comfortable posture of lying on the bed of Ananta Naga, two Demon brothers named Madhu and Kaitabha were born from the wax of Maha Vishnu’s ears. Their birth was a mystery and unknown as felt by the brothers themselves whose physical forms grew fast and strong day by day, even as they were playing in the ocean surroundings, killing various kinds of aquatic species for food or play.

Coming of age in course of time, the Demon brothers with huge bodies and proportionate common sense too, realised that there must have been a Massive Force which alone could have given birth to them. From the air, they heard a sound ‘Vagbija’ the Seed Mantra ( Seed ‘Bija’ and ‘Vak’ the Speech of Goddess Sarasvati). To start with fun, but later on with maturity, they kept on practising the sound for years together, little realising the impact of the Mantra’s repetition. In fact, they became so obsessed with the Mantra that they neither had food nor sleep, but with full concentration and utmost sincerity. ‘The Parasakti’s Voice emerged from the Skies that the Danava brothers would be invincible in the entire Universe provided they were united and fight two-some. Blessed by Maha Devi, the two brothers became swollen with pride and eventually attacked Lord Brahma Himself. On realising that they were unconquerable, Brahma who was seated on the lotus- head sprouting from Maha Vishnu’s navel, tried the age-old four means. He tried to use ‘Sama (Counselling) ‘Dana’( Gifting or bribing), ‘Bheda’( put one against another) and finally ‘Danda’(Punish), but neither of these media appeared  feasible; he ran away to Vaikuntha for protection but Maha Vishnu was in Yoga Nidra. Brahma had thus prayed to Yoga Nidra Devi to prompt Maha Vishnu to wake up. It was actually Maha Maya’s discretion which mattered as Vishnu Himself could not regain consciouness on His own. The concentrate of ‘Tamo Guna’- Maha Maya - was earnestly prayed to by Brahma, as this was a prestige issue for him and  the entire domain of Gods! Maha Maya left Vishnu free and He was fully woken up to face the challenge of the hour, viz. to either manipulate or massacre the brothers, Madhu and Kaitabha. Lord Vishnu invited the brothers to fight with Himself. The fight continued for five thousand years but without a tangible result. As the Demons were clashing one after another and Lord Vishnu was in duel singly, the latter asked the brothers to give a break as it was against Justice that they took alternate positions while He was alone. During the break, Vishnu prayed to Maha Sakti and complained that the fight was unfair and that they were also given by Her the boon of voluntary death or ‘Svacchanda Maranam’. Maha Sakti  realised the lacuna in the duel and advised Vishnu to give boons to the brothers so that a way out would automatically open up. Meanwhile, Maha Sakti agreed to be present at the fight in physical form and disturb the concentration of the Demon brothers by casting Her fake amorous looks. This encouraged Vishnu to convey the Demons that their duel with Him was of great quality and thus He was ready to give boons to them. They got into the trap as they boasted that they were prepared to give boons to Him instead of the other way around. Vishnu grabbed the opportunity and said that He be given the boon of their death by killing each other! The brothers gave an excuse that the boon could be given only provided there was no water or wetness in the Ocean. Vishnu expanded his thighs manifold so that there could be adequate space for the killings.The Demons expanded their bodies too and thus the thighs of Vishnu and the body sizes of the brothers kept on increasing horizontally and vertically proportionately. Finally, the illusion created by Vishnu proved stronger and the brothers had to yield to their own killings. Thus Maha Sakti who assumed human physique and  paved the way to the killings of the Danava brothers without breaking the Rules of ‘Dharma Yuddha’, partly by trickery and partly by Maya or Illusion.

Devi Bhagavati - ‘Nirguna’ and ‘Virupa’ Shakti
At this juncture, the congregation of  Sages at ‘Nimisharanya’ needed suitable clarification as to whom precisely should one pray to or anchor one’s hearty devotion to a specified target. The query appeared to be reasonable and the replies so far looked rather nebulous. Muni Suta however did his best to reply this pointed question with an equally pointed clarification. Indeed the Supreme Force in action is one and only the one!
That Force is Eternal, Unborn, All Encompassing and Unknown. Having firmly established this Reality, the clarification required is as to whom one should dedicate and pray to. Vedas, Sastras, Puranas, Upanishads and name which ever Scripture was sourced, they all emphasized one uniform Truth that there were Satvik, Rajasic, and Tamasic ‘Gunas’ ( Aspects) and the Trinity of Gods represented Creation by Brahma, Preservation by Vishnu and Destruction by Siva. Trinity is Unity and Unity is Trinity! They all represented the same and were not detached. It is one’s vision that might get blurred but not the Realism. Side by side, one should also recognise the ‘Nirguna’Aspect-an amalgam of all the features. Now, where would be the aspect of  Maha Shakti emerge here? That Super Force again was the Nirguna Facet. Thus when one prayed, there was no canalisation or distinction of Gods. But for the purpose of Idenification, one might keep the entire target as an Entity, imagine a Physical form and facilitate one’s concentration at it. Thus Siva is a part of Kundalini Shakti dominated by Tamo Guna; Brahma is dominated by Rajasik Sakti, and Vishnu is Satvika Sakti; indeed they are all one and the same. However  Maha Sakti  has no sex, age, form, ‘Gunas’, Characteristics and Identity; in fact, that precisely is the Unknown Truth. Thus replying to the question raised by the congregation of Sages, Saunaka Muni asserted that pure thoughts or prayers, or whatever ‘means’ that one might practise ought to be squarely targetted to Brahma Sanatani Sakti, since there could never be any Super Energy without It; this was emphasised by Narada Maharshi as was gathered from (and corraborated from Vyasa Deva) Brahma who in turn was advised by Maha Vishnu Himelf

Interplay of Primary ‘Gunas’ causes Chandra’s Romance with Tara
Having explained the interplay of  the three primary Gunas, Suanaka Muni described that the memorable Veda Vyasa himself was smitten by the desire of getting a child. In this context, he gave two relevant examples of obsessions experienced by Chandra for Tara and King Pururava for Urvasi to underline the fact that none is above the interplay of the three Gunas. Brihaspati the Teacher of Demi-Gods had a beautiful wife named Tara.

Once, Chandra (Moon) visited the house of Brihaspati the Guru and instantly fell in love with Tara, who too reciprocated her romantic feelings. In course of time, she deserted Brihaspati and moved into Chandra’s house. Brihaspati approached Chandra and counselled him that this romance with his own Guru’s wife was not only illegitimate but a blatant infringement of Dharma which would attract a sin tantamount to ‘Brahma Hatya’ or  the murder of a Brahmana and asked Tara to be returned to him. Chandra declined to do so as Tara came away out of her own desire. Brihaspati visited Chandra again but the latter was adamant to return Tara saying that the couple were madly infatuated mutually.Brihaspati warned Chandra with dire consequences and approached Indra for redressal. Indra himself faced a situation similar but his role was as a cheat for masquerading Sage Gautama in Ahalya’s bed and received the curse to imprint genital marks all over his body. However his role was that of the Chief of Devas and despatched an intelligent emissary to Chandra Loka. The Representative advised Chandra to be sensible as he already had twenty eight beautiful Stars as his wives and even offered any of the Apsara Damsels to quench his lust.The Messenger returned to Indra empty handed and the latter decided to wage a war against Chandra Loka. Knowing of this incident, the Danava Guru Sukracharya, the arch-rival of Deva Guru Brihaspati, espoused the cause of Chandra and assured of the help of Demons in a  possible war. Meanwhile Brahma Himself flew across by His ‘Hamsa Vahana’ (Chariot of Swan) to Chandra Loka and consequently Chandra let Tara return to Brihaspati, who was happy and excused Tara for her indiscretion. Tara a pregnant woman gave birth to a charming boy but Tara confirmed that he was Chandra’s own son and Chandra took away the child and named him ‘Budha’.

Budha weds Ila ( King Sudyumna)
As Budha fell in love with Ila, a beautiful woman, little did he realize that actually Ila was a King  turned into a woman. King Sudyumna a pious Ruler of his subjects went into a forest for hunting but as he and followers entered the area, they were all converted as women.This happened due to a ban imposed by Lord Siva as He was alone with Parvati once, a few Sages entered the forest and disturbed the Lord’s privacy. Not aware of this fact, the King and party entered.

The King thus converted into a woman was known as Ila, who out of shyness did not return to the Kingdom. Per chance, Budha met Ila and they were married and begot a child, named Pururava. Meanwhile Ila met Sage Vasishtha and revealed the entire happening and the Sage prayed to Lord Siva and begged Him a way out for the pious King Sudyumna to get back his original position. Lord Siva agreed to let Ila attain manhood every alternate month. Thus the appearances of Ila and the King alternated every month and as the wife of Budha, Ila gave birth to Pururava. In course of time, when Pururava was made the King, Sudyumna retired to Vanasprastha and prayed to Devi Bhagavati as Ila and her sincere devotion paid off  by absorbing her into the eternal Bhagavati Herself!

King Pururava’s infatuation with Apsara Urvasi
King Pururava proved himself as a model King ruling by Dharma, Varnashrama and other Vedic principles. Meanwhile, Urvasi the Celestial Dansuese received a curse from a Sage to leave to Earth for a fixed time-frame. On learning about the best possible choice as a suitor in King Pururava, it was not difficult for him to be lured and she agreed to marry him on three conditions that she would consume only ‘ghee’ (classified butter), that he should take good care of two sheep that she brought from Gandharva Loka and that she should not view his bare body except in bed.
Fully mesmerised by her presence in his company, Pururava’s interest in his duties of governance got diluted gradually. Meanwhile, the time frame of her curse was over and Indra sent his persons to steal the sheep. When he knew about the pilferage, he chased the thieves not even realising that he was unclad but the celestial thieves outsmarted him. Urvasi got terribly infuriated as Pururava broke the contract on both the counts of chasing away the thieves unclad and not being able to safeguard the sheep. She left him for heavens and Pururava’s frustration and pangs of separation got him distressed to such an extent that he wandered various places aimlessly. By chance he saw Urvasi at Kurukshetra,  profusely regretted his follies and entreated her to return to him, when she advised that their meeting was purely temporary and that he should overcome his infatuation with her. Thus there indeed were instances of interaction of ‘Gunas’ of which Veda Vyasa was no exception.

Maharshi Veda Vyas and Son Suka Maha Muni

Maharshi Krishna Dvipayana Veda Vyas, son of Sage Parasara and Satyavati, got a desire to secure a child. With this wish, he performed severe ‘Tapasya’ addressed to Maha Devi and to Maha Deva Sankara for hundred years. Indra had suggested to Sankara that His prayers be kindly be approved as the Maharshi’s strict observance of further penance could not be continued any longer.

Bhagavan Sankara appeared before Veda Vyasa and granted him the boon of getting a son who would be a rare example of Purity, Great Virtue and Spiritual Enlightenment. Veda Vyasa was carried away by what Sankara blessed and initiated  the Agni Homa action by the ‘Arani’ process of rubbing wooden pieces to light up. Just then, the Celestial Apsara (nymph), Ghritachi made a flashy appearance and cast amorous looks at the Maharshi. Being unsure of the romantic reaction of the Maharshi who no doubt got disturbed in his mind about her presence, she took the form of a tempting Parrot and flew across the Homa Kunda;  Maharshi could not resist his lust for the Apsara and discharged his masculinity on the wooden sticks meant for Arani. Thus emerged from the Arani Fire, a boy of extraordinary radiance and chiselled body features resembling Veda Vyasa himself, excepting for his nose; He was named ‘Suka’ at the Name Giving Ceremony, since the Apsara took the form of a parrot at the moment of relieving his lust. The Maharshi enjoyed supreme happiness in fondling the child and bringing him up. He was in fact born with full comprehension of the Holy Scriptures and added to this, Veda Vyasa’s early training and subsequent tutorship under Deva Guru Brihaspati made him an excellent ‘Jnani’. He learnt Vedas, Sastras, and the entire gamut of Scriptures beyond which there perhaps was left little that was worthy of imbibing. As the Brahmachari attained marriageable age, Maharshi Vyas desired to perform the wedding of Suka Muni who resisted the idea vehemently. He said that having been trained as an ascetic, he had no desire whatsoever to enter into married life. Veda Vyasa explained that that according to ‘Agamas’, the stage  of ‘Garhastya’ or married life was an integral part of human life of the four chapters viz. ‘Brahmacharya’, ‘Garhastya’, ‘Vanaprasthya’, and ‘Sanyasa’ as that was a logical evolution of normal living. Vyasa said that the order of life was disturbed in his own example but that exception was not a rule. Moreover, he  realised that he regretted his own action of remaining single and infringed the Laws of Nature as stressed in the Sciptures. Suka Muni counter-explained that human life was a very valuable achievement and as such he would rather abstain from the so-called pleasures, causing the inevitable pain, that ‘Samsara’ was a knife-edge existence of humanity and that he would prefer the skip-up of the Garhasthya phase in his limited existence. He further explained that the entire human existence was constanly engaged in a struggle to get released from the complicated net of ‘Maya’( Illusion) and in a virtual warfare against the ‘Arisht Vargas’or the Six Enemies of ‘Kama’ leading to and the logical resultants of ‘Krodha’(Anger/ Intolerance),‘Lobha’(Meanness or Possesivenes), ‘Moha’( Infatuation), ‘Mada’ (Arrogance) and ‘Matsarya’( Jealousy). Between the two steps of temptation of entering into the net and the desperation to break it out, there would be a wide abyss which would occupy successive cycle of births and deaths owing to the concepts of ‘Sanchita’ ( latent), ‘Prarabdha’( Carry forward), and ‘Vartamana’( the Current Account) and to perpetuate the vicious ‘Kala Chakra’ ( the Wheel of Time) further on would be a conscious stupidity, if not an ignorant folly, thus argued Suka Muni.He further stressed to Veda Vyasa that let alone normal human beings, but even Indra, Brahma, Vishnu or Maheswara could never exist in peace as Indra always kept protecting his throne from Asuras as he was their first target; Brahma had this entire creation as His ‘Samsara’ or His family; Vishnu no doubt had Maha Maya Lakshmi Herself as His partner but was fully engaged with the wily Demons’ atrocities to overcome and protect the balance of the entire Universe; Maheswar was constanly busy with the destruction of evil forces. Humanity without exception thus was persistently subject to want, struggle, helplessness, and  pessimism. A householder’s plight to subsist along with a family had always led to cunning, meanness, hypocrisy and opportunism. Where was the time for ‘Karma Kanda’ to perform, let alone remember the name of the Super Force, when the full manifestation of Maya or Illusion was at an explosive point! The Maha Maya Sakti had for instance submerged a Maharshi like the illustrious Veda Vyasa- who had interpreted Vedas, created all the Eighteen Puranas and several Upa Puranas, and innumerable Scriptures of eternal value to mankind- had an intense sense of ‘Vyamoha’ or extreme possessiveness to his son, Suka and was bent on making him a ‘Grihasthi’ since that would be his dream of his son to wed a woman, procreate children and be an ideal householder!

Physical Manifestation of Maha Devi to Vishnu
Veda Vyasa had by now known Suka’s confirmed views on marriage and commended Suka’s reading the Great Purana of Maha Bhagavata written by himself in which the process of Creation of Universe was described in detail. In the Purana, he gave the illustration of Lord Vishnu providing solace by Maya Maha Sakti when Vishnu found Himself as a small child at the time of Pralaya or Universal Dissolution.
The Lord was floating on water on a banyan tree leaf wondering   as to how He was brought in that state and who could have done so? A resonant Celestial Voice was heard in a half stanza saying: ‘All this being witnessed is my doing and there is nothing else eternal’. Even as Maha Vishnu was wondering what was heard, He found a mass of radiance on the skies gradually taking the form of a vision in full manifestation of Maha Bhagavati in the form of Maha Lakshmi with divine robes and ornaments, four arms with conchshell, disc, lotus and mace. She was floating on the Ocean waters along with Her personified Co-Sakties and Vibhuties on either side viz. Rati, Bhuti, Buddhi, Mati, Kirti, Smriti, Dhriti, Sraddha, Medha, Svadha, Svaha, Kshudha, Nidri, Daya, Gari, Tulsi, Pusti, Kshama, Lajja and so on. Maha Vishnu was astonished as never before and with folded hands kept on reciting the incomplete stanza that She was Eternal and nothing else! Maha Lakshmi addressed Vishnu and said that each time there were Universal Dissolutions herebefore, the same scenario happened and there were unifications of His and Hers but He had not realised as He was under the spell of Maha Maya which was Her’s again. She further said that Her physical Manifestaion at present was unreal as She had none, but a Supreme Force as an amorphous, unknown, everlasing, unborn, all pervading and omniscient Energy. She commanded Vishnu to create Brahma and Siva- each one to create and destroy- and represent the two Gunas of Rajas and Tamas and thus re-start the cycle of life and death under the cover of Maya and that Vishnu should promote Satvika Guna and  handle the delicate task of safeguarding and preserving the entire Universe as also protecting ‘Dharma’ ( Virtue) and ‘Nyaya’ ( Justice). Further on, the process of creation of Demi- Gods, Sages, and human beings and other species followed and so did the formation of Societies and Principles of Dharmas, Varnashramas, and stages of human life and so on. By inference, Veda Vyasa said that the established practices commended the insitution of marriages, of the duties of Grihasta ( Householder ) and ‘karma kanda’, followed by retirement, Sanyasa and finally attainment of Salvation- all in a gradual process step by step. An adamant Suka was still not relenting in his attitude and Veda Vyasa suggested Suka’s visit to Mithilapura and meet King Janaka for his advice as he had  ‘Jeevan Mukti’ ( Salvation while alive).

How King Janaka convinced Suka Muni to marry?
Quite reluctantly, Suka Muni travelled all the way from Meru Mountain to Mithila. He was unaware of the nuances of City life and for the first time ever witnessed himself the full demonstration of subdued virtues and blatant vices, momentary joys and unending frustrations, rare displays of integrity and loud noises of hypocrisy. Even the Gatemen stopped him to ascertain Suka’s personal credentials and made him wait for days together.

Finally, some Ministers and Officials enquired about him and found that he was the Great son of memorable Veda Vyasa himself. He was ushered into the palace and welcomed with  grand luxuries for eight days and offered him the services of coquettish maids but there was little reaction in him. The Muni met King Janaka in his Court with full blast of music, dance and wine all around as there were festivities in his honour. He was offered a full glass of milk and was asked to greet a bevy of beauties singing and dancing around him.There was absolutely no response whatsoever as his senses and elements were just the same while taking rounds without spilling even a drop of milk. The King who, as described by Veda Vyasa had the Status of Jeevan Mukta or Videha ( without body but alive), was astounded at the boy’s equanimity and declared that he might as well return to Veda Vyasa as his son was a paradigm of virtue par excellence and that was most inflexible!  But, the mission for which Vyasa referred Suka Muni to the King was to make Suka agree to marry.  Hence a one-to-one  dialogue was arranged and the process of serious discussion proceeded. Suka Muni argued,- as he had done with his father earlier- summing up that he would rather choose the ‘Vihanga Marg’ ( sky route) as against the land route or a short-cut to salvation without wasting his precious life with the experimenta -tions of ‘Samsara’ or the house-hold chores viz. ‘Garhastya’ and ‘karmkanda’. King Janaka allowed the boy to steam off and initiated the process of subtle counselling. He said:‘ Even if human passions ‘seem’ to be under control, the state of  ‘Sanyasa’ is not bound to be as easy as is made to be in practice. The term ’Yoga’ is highly deceptive as it presumes overcoming wants ranging from hunger and thirst, sleep and ill health and such bare needs for the meagre existence to medium kinds of wants such as a place to live, a companion to live with, family happiness, medical help, and such other minimum facilities which are not only highly permissible but are infact prescribed in Scriptures.  Any fall from the high altitudes of Yoga would be too steep leading again to the low levels of frustration, self-condemnation and helplessness. That was precisely what the Holy Scriptures including Vedas recited by Brahma Himself. He prescribed the step-by-step methodology of Varnasrama. Even Gods and Demi-Gods followed the path of ‘Garhastya’. A person following the normal route would be immune from succesess and failures and could buffer the consequences with equal ease, provided of course one does not transgress avoidable pitfalls. Moreover, in exceptional cases like in the case of Suka Muni, there is the least possibility of unwanted attractions as he would be unaffected anyway. The example of Janaka himself is worth following as he was ‘Videha’  ( body less) yet he knew the pattern of Jeevan Mukta or Moksha while Living a Contented Life. Why suffer without reasonable and allowable comforts rather than living morally and normally by still achieving the desired  objective of Salvation? There is no need to rule out a view that the World is optimistic if we moderate the senses and control the mind, instead of complaining that the World is a hell and full of misery and meanness. Also, how could one enjoy the effect of ‘coolness’ unless the deadly impact of ‘heat’ is suffered. A Karma Yogi who practises controls and discipline, like a dew drop on a lotus leaf, would have the Golden Mean of enjoying ‘Iham’( the satisfaction of Good Living) and ‘Param’ (the attainment of the Final Goal)!  Having been more or less convinced that Sanyasa yoga for his age and keeping in view the relevant factors might not be unsuitable, Suka sought certain clarifications on a few issues, as though he wished to hear from Videha Janaka for public enlightentment. The issues were related to killing of animals, consumption of wine and attachment to sex. He wondered as to how these habits were permitted in the Scriptures! As regards the aspect of meat eating, Scriptures allowed animal sacrifice for the purpose of Yagnas and specified ceremonies like Asvamedha Yagas, Goat or other Sacrifices of animals and so on but certainly not oriented to indiscriminate killings for the sake of enjoyment of meat eating. Similarly, drinking Soma Rasa is strictly as an integral part of Yagnas invoking Gods through Fire Sacrifices involving elaborate procedures through the chanting of relevant mantras and are of purely religious orientation; for instance,  a person performing certain Sacrifices as per established format approved by Scriptures are known as Somayajis and are highly revered. But consumpion of alcohol is never approved for personal enjoyment. So is the case of involvement with women. Indeed no Scripture approved of blanket sex excepting with a lawful wife that too only for procreation purposes in moderated measure and not with comprehensive license which verges with vice or obssession and certainly not extra-marital, in any case.

Muni Suka’s wedding and Salvation thereafter
Muni Suka returned from Mithilapura a changed person and to the greatest delight of his father, married the daughter of a Muni named Pivari and they had four sons and a daughter all of whom were happy in their weddings too. Maha Muni selected Mount Kailash subsequently to practise higher disciplines of Yoga, achieved Siddhies of Anima, Laghima and so on and finally ascended further from  the top of  Mount Kailasa to realise self-realisation to join the Supreme Bhagavati.
As Veda Vyasa got shaken up from his son’s absence and practised heavy penance targetting Maheswara as the embodiment of Tamas Guna, the Lord appeared and gave him the boon that he could always find Suka in his own shadow!
After the departure of his son, Veda Vyasa was a frustrated person and carried on with his disciples Asita, Devala, Vaisampayana, Jaimini, Sumanta and others and after their studies were over, he despatched  them with the tasks of  propagating Dharma all over. He left Meru Mountain to meet his mother Satyavati from whom he left long ago on the banks of Ganges. He realised that his mother was married to the King of Hastinapur, Santanu on the condition that another son of his, Bhishma born from his first wife Ganga, would neither marry nor beget a child since there shold not be any  progeny to claim the throne. Shantanu and Satyavati gave birth to Chitrangada and Vichitra-Virya. After Shantanu died, Chitrangada became the King but in a war with Gandharvas,  Chitrangada died and  Vichitravirya was made the King.  Bhishma desired that Vichitravirya be married as he was eligible and when the King of Kasi announced a ‘Swayamvara’ ( bride’s choice among the Invited  Kings), Bhishma forcibly took away three brides- Amba, Ambika and Ambalika to Hastinapura. On arrival, Amba requested that since she already selected the King of Salva at the Svayamvara, she might be please allowed to do so and Bhishma agreed. But the King of Salva did not agree and as she returned back insisting that as per Dharma Bhishma must marry her. Since Bhishma did not agree that even earlier, Amba left for the forest and became an ascetic. King Vichitravirya married Ambika and Ambalika but was not able to extend the progeny and died of premature death. Then came up a crisis of  Kingship falling vacant without a heir. Satyavati called for Vedavyasa who was settled on the banks of River Sarasvati to help continue the lineage through Ambika and Ambalika. Ambika closed her eyes in bed with Veda Vyasa as she was not happy with the union and thus a blind boy, Dhrita- rashtra was delivered. Ambalika sent a Servant woman into the bed and a wise boy, Vidura was born. But when the mistake was realised and Ambalika had to go into the bed, she was too frightened into paleness afraid of the Maha Muni and thus was born Pandu. No doubt Pandu became the King before his elder brother who was born blind but since he died of early death due to illness, Dhritarashtra the blind had to be the King.

Genesis of ‘Matsyagandha’ alias Satyavati
There was a pious King Uparichara Vasu of Chedi Kingdom who had a beautiful wife Girika. Such was his devotion that Lord Indra was pleased and  gifted him an air- borne flying chariot. On the day of the ‘Sraddha’ ( annual ceremony) of his deceased father and ancestors, his wife had a desire to bear a child from him but in view of the Ceremony, he left  for a forest to hunt a deer for the Sacrifice as  also fetch other material for the Ceremony.
But when he was reminded of his wife’s request, he was overcome with passion and spilt his virility which he did not wish to waste and thus retained it on a banana leaf  and commanded a falcon to carry the packet  to his queen with a message to her. Another falcon mistook the leafy packet as a piece of meat and snatched it. In the clash of the falcons, the packet fell in a river.  Meanwhile an ‘Apsara’ (Celestial nymph), named ‘Adrika’ who was bathing in the river mistakenly dragged the feet of a Brahmana performing his prayers on the banks of the river. He cursed the Apsara to become a fish as his meditation was interrupted. That fish swallowed the floating  leafy packet and thus got pregnant.. The fish was caught by a fisherman after nine months and found from its stomach  twin babies - a boy and a girl child. The fisherman presented the babies to the pious King, who by his mystic powers visualised the boy as his own child from the banana leaf and hence retained him to be the future King, and gave away the baby back to the fisherman and gifted him with riches enough to bring up the girl-child. This was the genesis of ‘Matsyodari’ who grew as an extraordinary beauty. Sage Parasara who wished to cross the river by boat was managed by ‘Matsyagandha’ and her voluptuous physical features raised instant infatuation for the fisher woman. Before yielding at a lonely island in the river, she demanded that she should spread heavenly fragrance from her body over an area of one yojana- or Yojanagandha- and that she should be blessed with an exraordinary son well versed with Scriptures and unparallelled devotion to Almighty. Parasara renamed the woman as Satyavati and also blessed her to become a Queen. The memorable son of Parasara and Satyavati was Krishna Dvipayana Veda Vyasa, as he had the purity of Lord Vishnu Himself and Dvipayana since he was born in a river island ( Dvipa).

Chain reaction of Ganga -King Mahabhisha-Ashta Vasus- King Shantanu
There was a virtuous King Mahabhisha of Ikshvaku Dynasty who pleased Indra with a series of  ‘Asvametha’ and ‘Vajapeya’ Sacrifices and attained Indra Loka after his death. Once he had attended the Court of Lord Brahma and along with him was seated Devi Ganga. He was immensely attracted to her and she too reciprocated with her amorous glances. Brahma got disturbed and cursed both of them to take to human lives as husband and wife.
Mahabhisha opted to be the son of King Pratipa of Puru Dynasty. At the same time Ashta-Vasus ( Eight Vasus) of the Celestial Region  headed by Vasu Prithi and their families visited Sage Vasishtha’s ‘Ashram’ and admired ‘Kama Dhenu’ the Sacred Cow whose milk bestowed disease-less longevity and sublime happiness. The wife of one of the Vasus, Dyau was impressed with the Cow and quietly stole it and its calf. Sage Vasishtha found in his ‘Diya Drishti’
( Celestial Vision) that  Nandini the Sacred Cow was in the custody of Vasu Dyau and cursed all the Vasus to be turned as human beings. Being highly repentant, the Vasus beseeched Vasishtha to dilute the effect of the curse and out of compassion the Sage agreed to one year’s human life to seven Vasus as their involvement was indirect but Vasu Dyau should have a full life time. The Vasus, who knew about Brahma’s curse to Ganga Devi, approached her to give birth to Seven Vasus of one  year’s human life each and one life time’s existence to the last born Vasu. But this was agreed to subject to the condition that her prospective husband should agree to freedom of her action without any reservation  and if he did not, she would quit as the husband. Eventually, Ganga  waited on the banks of  River Ganges and awaited the arrival of King Pradipa of Kuru Dynasty for meditation. The King arrived to perform ‘Surya Namaskaras’ on the river bed and Ganga appeared as a charming woman and sat straightaway on his right lap, indicating thereby that the place was to seat a son / daughter. The damsel identified herself as Ganga Devi and replied that she would await his son’s arrival who was yet to be born. In course of time, King Pradipa got his son, Shantanu, and as he grew as a handsome youth advised him to meet Ganga Devi who would propose  but cautioned that he should not ask her questions and agree to whatever she asked. Accordingly,  Ganga Devi, the eternal beauty, agreed to wed Shantanu and agreed to her conditions unilaterally. She gave immense happiness to Shantanu, who became the King after his father’s abdication of the throne. After a year, they were blessed with a boy, but she took the baby and submerged him in the flow of Ganga! To his great surprise, Shantanu witnessed the horror of the child’s cruel drowning in the flow but dared not say one word to his wife. This happening was repeated again and again for seven times and as the eight child was born, Shantanu protested  and Ganga as per their contract left, but requested that the boy be named as Gangeya.

Gangeya, the exemplary ‘Bhishma’, of Mahabharata
For a long time since Ganga Devi left Shantanu, the latter had no interest in life and Gangeya, who was increasingly aware of his father’s disenchantment in the duties of Kingship, virtually carried on the burden lightly. As a dutiful son, he did whatever was possible or even impossible, but for the replacement of the position of a mother.
Once when he accompanied his father on a royal hunt on the banks of River Yamuna and found an extraordinarily stunning woman whose body flavour was heavenly and intoxicating. Her captivating physical features sent tremors in Shantanu’s mind and asked his son Gangeya to enquire about her. The lady replied that she was a fisherwoman and any enquiry about herself be ascertained by her father only at their abode. The fisherman was not sure whether her daughter’s future would be assured since a grown up King-in-Waiting was already in place. Gangeya gave an assurance that he would not put in  a claim for Kingship. But this did not satisfy the fisherman as Gangeya’s next kin would definitely make the claim to the throne. Then Gangeya declared that in view of   the apprehensions expressed by the fisherman and subtly endorsed by his daughter, he would take a Sacred Vow before all witnesses concerned that he would never ever marry! Shantanu as well as the entire Kingdom were taken aback by the decision of Gangeya. Shantanu tried to wriggle out of the deal, but Gangeya did not allow any departure from his vow; he said that the sacrifice being performed was not comparable to that of Parasurama, who for the asking by his father Jamadagni, had cut his own mother’s head on the flimsy reasoning of her imagined flicker of mind when she saw a Gandharva bathing; or to Lohitasya who allowed himself to be sold to a Brahmin as a servant boy, for working heinous household duties leading to death, to repay his father Harischandra’s debt to Sage Visvamitra; or obeying the implicit instruction of his father Dasaratha conveyed by Queen Kaikayi to abandon the self and wife Sita to fourteen years of forest life as an ascetic couple ending by the kidnapping of his wife and undergoing untold misery and torture! Thus quoting such examples, Gangeya announced to the whole World that not only he would not marry but protect the entire progeny of the ‘Vamsa’ as long as he lived! Thus was given Gangeya the indelible name of Bhishma in the generations to follow!

Pandavas and Kauravas- Quick proceedings of ‘Maha Bharata’
Since the elder issue of Veda Vyasa from Ambika, Dhritharashtra was born blind, Ambalika’s son Pandu was made the King with the approval of Bhishma, the driving force of the Kingdom, with Hastinapura as the Capital. The elder brother had two wives Gandhari and Sauvali, the former being the Prime Wife and the latter was a keep in the household.
Gandhari, the daughter of Gandhara Desa and brother of Sakuni,  gave birth to one hundred sons, the elder two being the notorious Duryodhana and Dussasana (actual names were Suyodhana and Susasana, standing for Good Warrior and Good Administrator). Gandhari preferred to close her eyes always, out of sentiment as her husband was blind.  Sauvali’s son was Yuyutsu.  Pandu Raja , the earlier King, was married to Kunti, the daughter of King Surasena and the paternal aunt of Lord Krishna. The Raja also married Madri, the daughter of King Madra. When Kunti was a very young girl, her father asked her to assist Sage Durvasa in a four month long Sacrifice / Yagna performed by him and after the end of the Function, he was pleased  to teach a Mantra to her which could invoke any of the Demi Gods and Allied Devatas including Indra, Surya, Yamadharma Raja and Vayu, as well as allied Demi-Gods like Aswini Kumars. Out of curiosity, Kunti experimented by invoking Sun God in her private chamber and to her great surprise and dismay she found Surya Himself standing before her and asked her as to whether she desired a son or a daughter. Being of a tender age of preteens, she was flabbergasted at the odd statement of Surya’s but since the latter understood the predicament of the girl, Surya gave her the boon that her virginity would not be disturbed, but she should however be conceived. Kunti took her personal maid into confidence and even informing her mother of the incident, she did not step out of her chamber. After nine months, she delivered a boy of exceeding radiance and attraction with inborn armoury and ear-rings. With the help of the maid, she arranged the child in a floating box and placed it on a nearby waterbody. A charioteer of the Court of the King, Atiradha and his wife found the floating casket and as they did not have an issue, considered the child as a great blessing and brought him up as ‘Karna’ since he had ear-rings in-born and as Radheya after the name of the step mother. Therafter Kunti considered the incident as forgotten of her innocent childhood.  Subsequently Kunti married King Pandu in a ‘Swayamvara’( as per the bride’s own choice), but soon thereafter,  King Pandu received a curse from a Brahmana who was targetted by the King’s arrow mistaken for a deer in copulation and the curse was that if he slept with a woman, he would fall dead at once. The King knew that without begetting a son he would not be able to cross the River Vaitarani at the entry point of hell itself and the soul would get stuck there itself! Pandu suggested that Scriptures would allow a virtuous Brahmana to sleep with her and Kunti informed that she knew a Mantra as gifted by Durvasa Muni and by reciting that she could be blessed.Thus, Kunti invoked Yama Dharma Raja, Vayu, and Indra from time to time and was blessed with three sons,viz. Dharmaraja, Bhima and Arjuna respectively. She also passed on the Mantra to Madri who begot Nakula and Sahadeva as twin brothers. Once when Pandu ventured a wrong move to invite Madri in bed, Pandu died because of the Brahmana’s curse as expected, and Madri too died in self-immolation, leaving the two sons to Kunti’s care. Hence they came to be popular as Pancha-Pandavas.As Pandu died, Dhritarashtra was sworn in as the King and there were quick changes in Hastinapura, because of a blind King doting on his children especially Duryodhana who was in evil league as ‘Dushta Chatushtaya’ or the Four Wicked Men along with his younger brother Dussasana, his maternal uncle Sakuni and Karna (who was declared as the Ruler of a Subsidiary Anga Desa, as he was barred otherwise from Royal responsibilities and rights since he did not have Kshatria origin as the son of a charioteer). The Evil Four had constant quarrels with their Pandava cousins, due to  jealousy, as the cousins were far more disciplined and stronger as also since Kuru Vamsa elders and others liked them more. The Evil Four pretended sympathy for Pandavas and wanted them to move into a new Palace but their intention was to kill them while sleeping as the Palace was made of lac  and susceptible to quick fire. Thanks to Krishna’s foresight and precautionary measures, Pandavas exited safe from the burning Palace through a secret passage, as the Evil Four misled the Public that Pandavas and Kunti were burnt. Meanwhile Pandavas masqueraded as  Brahmanas and stayed in a poor family house on rent. When the turn of  sparing a person from the landlord’s house came up for Sacrifice to a Demon, named Bakasura, (as per a contract with the village heads and the Demon that  instead of his killing the Villagers indiscriminately), Bhima the strong man opted to reach the Demon’s abode away from the Village and brought relief to the Villagers by killing him in a severe duel. From thereon, Pandavas still appearing as Brahmanas, moved on to King Drupada’s Court for Druapadi’s Swayamvara and succeded in the test of destroying a fish on a quickly moving wheel kept above one’s head by an arrow while viewing its reflection down in a water pool underneath.  This feat was possible only to an ace archer. Karna and Kauvaras attended the Swayam Vara  too. Only Arjuna could perform the feat as Karna  who too was a great archer had failed, again causing jealousy on learning that the Brahmanas were fake and actually they were Pandavas. On hearing the good news that after all Pandavas were not dead, the Elders of Kuru Vamsa including Bhishna, Dronacharya, and Kripacharya were overjoyed but the Evil Four were shaken. They agreed  that a portion of the Kigdom be given away to Pandavas as a peace making measure and the Elders like Bhishna appreciated the gesture. Pandavas thus moved to a new Capital at Indrprastha where a fantastic ‘Maya Sabha’ or a Palace of Illusions built by the Divine Architect-Designer by the name Maya. Recovering from their days of misfortune, Pandavas recouped and performed ‘Rajasuya Yagna’and invited Kauravas including the Elders like Bhishma, Drona, Vidura and Kripacharya as well as the Evil Four. Lord Krishna who had always been a staunch supporter of Pandavas was honoured as the Chief Guest and when King Sisupala the evil opponent of Krishna objected and insulted the latter, his Sudarsana Chakra (Wheel) snipped his head. The Evil Four, especially Duryodhana felt highly envious of Pandavas, invited them to Hastinapura only to trap Dharmaraja into an unjust chess game with Sakuni who was an expert in it and defeated Pandavas against stiff conditions of losing their Kingdom and even themselves including Draupadi, with whom an attempt was made for disrobing. The conditions were twelve years of forest life and one year of unidentifiable destination where they should not be recognised failing which, the terms could be doubled! During the forest life of twelve years, Kauravas tormented Pandavas and during  the year long ‘Ajnanavas’ or unreconizable place, took refuge in changed status with Dharmaraja as Kanku Bhat or Brahmana Adviser to King Virat in his latter’s court, Draupadi as ‘Sairandhri’ as the  Maid in the Queen’s Chamber, Bhima as the cook in the Royal kitchen, Arjuna as ‘Brihannala’-the transgender dance teacher of the Princess Uttara;  Nakula and Sahadeva as the keepers of horses and cows. During the course of their stay in the Virat kingdom, Pandavas underwent unknown torture and humiliation including the attempted molestation of Sairandhri by the King’s powerful brother-in-law, named Keechaka who was quietly eliminated by Bhima in a night duel. At the end of their stay in cognito, Kauravas tried to capture the cows of King Virat but by that time Brihannala came into the form of Arjuna as the ‘Agyata vasa’ year was over and destroyed the Kaurava Army single handedly and having utilised the ‘Sammohana Astra’ or the ‘Mantra’ which lulled the War Stalvarts like Bhishma, Drona, Asvatthama and of course the Evil Four into long slumber and released the cows of King Virat back home. There were talks of ‘Sandhi’ or Reconcilliation held by Krishna on behalf of Pandavas but the puffed up Evil Four refused even to a pin-some space to Pandavas, let alone five villages to the five some and the Great War of Mahabharata was fought for eighteen days dragging even the Elders of Kuru Vamsa like Bhishma, Drona and quite a few pious persons by the Evil Four on one side and Pandavas on the other with Krishna as  Charioteer cum unarmed Adviser of Pandavas. A major casuality from the Pandavas side was that of brave and young Abhimanyu, the son of Arjun and Subhadra, in a ‘Chakra Vyuha’(a circular closed fight) among many- to-one unjust encounter. There was mass destruction on both sides and the tragedies of stalwarts including the entire generation of Illustrious Elders who took part in the Battle as also the Evil Four, with Duryodhana as the last to fall to Bhima, who killed Dussasana earlier.

Maha Bhagavati allows vision of the dead at Kurukshetra Battle
Pursuant to the Great Battle, the respected ladies of both Kauravas and Pandavas who lost their husbands, sons, grand sons, grand fathers,  fathers, in-laws and nephews collected on the banks of Ganges and prayed toVeda Vyasa  to secure a glimpse of the departed, since the ladies could not go to the battle field. Among the ladies were Kunti, Gandhari, Draupadi, Subhadra and Uttara.
Dhritarashtra and Pandava Heros were also invited to the expected miracle-spectacle. The Maharshi performed Pranayama and deep yoga- oriented meditation to the Unknown and Omniscient Devi Bhagavati. His intense and continued worship for quite sometime and as an indication of the positive response received from Maha Devi, there were indications on a huge sky-long celestial screen and  there were quick glimpses of the one-to-one fights and the resultant deaths and reactive celebrations; the screen views of  the Linga and Limbless Bodies of the departed souls which were recognised at once by the concerned eyes, but not the converse.

Asvathama punished and Parikshith born
Asvathama could not reconcile to the death of his father Drona Acharya who was otherwise invincible but as per Krishna’s advice, Bhima killed an elephant named Asvathama and made Bhima shout that Asvathama was killed and conveyed the news to Drona Acharya. Drona was horrified at the news, asked Dharmaraja for confirmation and the latter confirmed: ‘Asvathama died-the elephant ! But he said further in a very low tone saying ‘ Asvthama hata: Kunjarah’.
Thus Drona was cheated, hung his bow and arrows and sat still in  meditation, when Arjuna showered arrows and killed Drona. Desirous of killing Arjuna in sleep, Asvathama did not find him, but thus killed the full party of Arjuna’s sons in sleep. In turn, Arjuna located Asvathama and fought a fierce battle. Drona’s son finally used to ‘Brahmastra’, the most potent Mantric arrow. Arjuna too retaliated by the use of the same Astra and controlled Asvathama. Yudhistara and Krishna advised not to kill Asvathama but cut the naturally born ‘Shringa’ Jewel ( diamond  horn), which itself  was an ugly insult to him. The impact of Asvathama’s Brahamastra would have normally torn off Arjuna’s pregnant daughter-in-law Uttara, bur for Lord Krishna’s mystic intervention. The child thus born to Uttara was Parikshith who was then the last remnant of Pandavas. As a King, Parikshith was highly spiritual and benevolent. Once when he concluded a Royal hunt and got thirsty, he visited the Ashram ( Hermitage) of Sage Samaika who was in deep meditation and thus did not respond to the King’s visit. He was annoyed and picking up a dead snake fallen on the ground nearby picked it up and placed it around the Muni’s  head as a garland. On return to the hermitage, the Sage’s son Sringi saw the ugly sight and gave a curse that whoever did this insult to my father would be killed within a week’s time. The King having known  of the curse readied himself on the banks of River Ganges and requested Maha Muni Suka to enlighten him the Great Purana of Maha Bhagavata. On the seventh day, with all the security in a seven storeyed building on the river banks, Taksha made efforts to sneak in the building somehow and intercepted  a Brahmana by name Kasyapa desirous of making wealth from relieving the King’s problem as he knew the Mantra of anti snake bite; Daksha gave away plenty of money to the Brahmana and got rid of him; in fact he tested the Brahmana whether he could really administer the Mantra and revive an entire tree burnt by poisonous flames of serpent’s bite; the Brahmana did convert the tree’s ashes to its original position. Later in the evening Taksha asked disciples to disguise as Brahmanas to carry fruits to the King on the pretext of reciting Atharvana Veda and the fruit which the King ate contained a small insect which was Taksha himself  assuming an enormous body and  killed the King.

Janamejaya’s ‘Sarpa Yagna’( Snake Sacrifice) stopped by Sage Asita and Veda Vyasa
When King Parikshith met his end, his son Janamejaya was hardly a lad of eleven years and was declared as the next King. Guru Kripacharya trained him in the Science of Archery, Administration  and Dharmasastra. He was married to Vapustama the daughter of King of Kasi and carried on with  pious activities.
 Meanwhile a Sage Uttanka approached Janamejaya and provoked him to take revenge on his father’s killer Taksha and perform Sarpa Yagna (Sacrifice of Serpents) and command Taksha into the Fire Pit ( Homa Kunda) and Sacrifice all the Serpents in the process. Sage Uttanka told the King that his father could not go to heaven because of snake bite. Convinced thus, the King ordered that theYagna be arranged. Thousands of snakes were burnt off and Taksha was so afraid of his life that he sought refuge from Indra. But, so revengeful were Janamejaya and Sage Uttanka that they were prepared to command not only Taksha but even Indra to Sarpa Yajna and haul them into the Fire Pit! Taksha thus approached Sage Asita to call on the King and  to refrain from proceeding further in the Sacrifice as thousands of innocent Snakes were burnt off, for the sake of Taksha. Veda Vyasa explained the Episode of Sage Asita  and King Ruru to the King. In the  olden days, there was a Sage Jaratkratu who was practising high devotion to Devi Bhagavati in a forest. He had a vision of his dead father and forefathers in a cave who asked him to marry and suggested an eligible woman named Jarat Karu, who was the sister of Vasuki. Meanwhile the co-wives of Sage Kasyapa, viz. Kadru and Vinita  had an argument as to what was the colour of the horses of the Sun God’s chariot. Vinita guessed the color as white but Kadru had a bet that the colour was black. It was agreed that whoever lost the bet would have to carry the other on her back always while going to places. Kadru asked her sons to colour the horses black to win the bet. While some of her sons obeyed her but others did not. Kadru cursed those who did not comply be burnt off in a Fire pit and Vinita virtually became Kadru’s slave. Vinita’s son ‘Garuda’ the Carrier of  Maha Vishnu, asked for the cause of her sorrow and she narrated as to what happened.  Out of his affection for his mother, Garuda approached Kadru to pardon his mother and Kadru agreed provided that Garuda could bring Amrit ( nectar) from the custody of  Vaikuntha. Garuda was bent on relieving his mother’s curse and fetched a jug of  Nector from Vaikuntha. Kadru was delighted and released Vinita. All the family members and friends of Kadru were invited and asked  to clean up themselves before taking spoonfuls of Amrit. But Indra quietly stole away the jug of Amrit. The invitees of Kadru returned from their baths and found that the jug was missing. They were disappointed but tried their best to lick any drops from out of the jar that might have spilt on the grass ( Kusa) and as they licked their tongues were cut and hence were known as ‘dvi-jihvas’ or two tongued ever since. Vasuki and others who were troubled by Kadru approached Lord Brahma and complained against Kadru, the mother of snakes. He blessed them and said that the younger sister of Vasuki, Jarat Karu, should be proposed to wed Sage Jaratkaru. But the Sage was highly short tempered and the bride should be very obedient and trustworthy and the couple would beget a child who would enlighten, control and discipline the whole community of snakes and lighten the burden of their over-haughtiness to the world. That was why, Sage Asita prevailed upon King Janamejaya to stop the unique Sarpa Yagna and Veda Vyasa too approved of  Sage Asita’s request. Maharshi Vyasa had suggested that instead of the revenge-oriented Sarpa Yagna, he should rarher build a spacious Temple dedicated to Devi Bhagavati and also perform Devi Maha Yagna and such  other Spiritual activities to release the soul of late King Parikshith and  relieve the curse of the Brahmana boy.

Vision of Maha Bhagavati by Trimurtis
King Janamejaya asked about the significance of ‘Maha Devi Bhagavati Yajna’ from Veda Vyas, since he felt confused as to who should be targetted to put one’s whole hearted devotion, as multi-dimensional attention to Gods might get diffused even to StarYogis, let alone normal human beings, especially because concentration in human mind is highly erratic and fluid against the powerful pull of material distractions.

The normal belief had been that one could anchor on either Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver or Mahadeva the Destroyer, each representing the Rajas, or Satvik, or Tamas Gunas respectively, but to say that an amalgam of all the Gunas as Devi Bhagavati was perhaps an oversimplification! Even  Sun God whose visibility was a clear phenomenon, is directly perceptible before one’s own vision.  Veda Vyasa  replied that this question was no doubt revelant but was replied in the past by the Trinity themselves. At the stage when Maha Vishnu killed Madhu Kaitabha by expanding His thigh space, the Trinity had clearly comprehended that Devi Parasakti who had no form nor dimension and was the endless and unique energy. There  were heavenly directions to the Trinity at the time of Universal Destruction to perform ‘Tapasya’ or meditate, to Create, to promote and destroy Illusion. As the Trinity themselves got no leads to create what and how, to promote which, and where, that was the Illusion or Maya! The Trinity wondered that as there was no earth but a huge  Ocean, no five elements of Nature ( Earth, Light, Air, Sky and water), no five ‘Tanmatras’ or the causative rudiments, (viz.’Sabda’ or Sound, ‘Sparsa’ or Touch, ‘Rupa’ or Sight, ‘Gandha’or Smell and ‘Rasa’ or Taste),  no sensual organs, and no Gunas or Saguna, Durguna or Nirguna – Goodness, Evil, or Equanimity. How could the process of Creation be initiated! In reply, a ‘Vimana’ or an Airfloat was sent to carry the Trinity towards the Sky and landed at a place where was no water but ground. The Place looked like a beautiful City with well laid buildings, gardens, water fountains, trees with ripe fruits and splashes of flowers with divine fragrances, conditioned air and lighting-apparently the gate way to Heaven. The aeroplane was lifted up again and flew low to let the Trinity watch the Nandana Garden, Surabhi the Cow, Parijata the Celestial Tree, the Iravata the Divine Elephant, a bevy of Beautiful Apsaras at dance,  Gandharvas on singing, and finally the High Throne with glittering gold and jewellery with Indra and Sachi, encircled by Planetary Heads like Varuna, Agni, Surya, Moon  and a host of Devatas and their Devis. Further on the Trinity witnessed the Brahma Loka, the Vaikuntha and Kailasa  and discovered original Trinity with their wives and accompaniments.  Finally, the aeroplane reached ‘Sudha Sagar’ ( The Ocean of Nectar) and in its midst they found the ‘Mani Dvipa’ or the Island of Gems in which a Cot with the four legs represented by Brahma, Vishnu, Mahaswara and all other Demi-Gods was sighted. The Trinity then had the Super Vision of extraordinary radiance, twinkling flashings of a physical manifestation of  MAHA DEVI  BHAGAVATI ! The top portion of the Cot represented Sada Siva in the form of a colourful rainbow with  a red carpet bejewelled and spread over. She sat gracefully smiling wearing a red garment, a garland with red flowers and red sandal paste on her forehead with black eyes and red lips, four hands wearing a noose, a lotus, a goad and an ‘Akshaya Patra’ ( an eternally filled vessel) as though She was about to give away boons. Even the birds around were  chanting mystic incantations of ‘Moola Mantras’ like ‘Hrim’. [Examples of Moola Mantras (Seed Mantras) are: Om Aim Hreem Srim; Om  Ka-A- E- La Hrim, Ha-Sa-Ka-Hala-Hreem, Sakala  Hreem; Om Aim Kleem Sauh Sauh Kleem Aim; Om Aim Hreem Kleem  Chamundaya Vicchey; Aam Heem Krom Aim Kleem Sauch; Etc]. Her ear-rings were of the shape of ‘ Sri Chakra’. She was surrounded by Devis like ‘Hrillekha’ and others like ‘Anga Kusuma’. She was seated in a ‘Satkona’(seven angled) Yantra format. Lord Vishnu of the Trinity recognised Her as He saw her in the same physical manifestation when He was a toe-sucking boy on a banana leaf floating on a massive water surface and blessed Him to create Brahma and Maheswara and advised that the process of Creation be taken up as soon as possible. Lord Vishnu said that the Trinity was fortunate with their vision of Maha Devi and the ‘Tapasya’ (meditation) that was performed  by them all through the duration of Yugas had succeeded. As He stated like that,  Lords Brahma and Eswara were choked with emotion and endless joy and prostrated before the Unparallelled Vision with humility and gratitude. As soon as the Trinity entered the Entry Point of the Sanctum Sanctorium where Devi Bhagavathi  was seated smilingly, the three-some of Brahma, Vishnu and Eswara were converted into stunning feminine forms. Another astonishing miracle was that the entire Universe was witnessed on her toe nails including the Trinity and their Abodes, the Pancha Boothas, Indra, all other Devas, Gandharvas, Apsarasas, the humanity,  Oceans, Mountains, Sages like Veda Vyas, the Galaxy, view of Sisumara, Asvinis and so on

Trinity’s Prayers to Maha Bhagavati and Sixteen ‘Tatvas’
Completely overcome by awe and humility, Lord Vishnu addressed Maha Bhagavati that He was amazed to witness the entire Universe on Her toe nails including Himself and He was but a miniscule reflection of Herself. Nobody knows how many such Vishnus were created and that She was ‘ Karanguli nakhotpanna Narayana Dasa Kritis’ or She created Ten Incarnations of Narayana by touching Her hand nails!
She was ‘Om, Hreem and Srim’, ‘Moola Prakruti’ and ‘Moola Mantratmika’. She was ‘Niradhara’( Foundation less), ‘Nitya’ (Eternal), ‘Nirguna’(Without Characteristics), ‘Nirvikara’ ( Changeless) and ‘Dhyana Dhatru Dhyaya Rupa’ ( The Meditation, The Meditator and The Meditated). She was the material Cause of Prakriti (Nature) , Maya (Illusion) and the ‘Tatvas’*. She was the Super Power but yet She bestows Kindness readily and spontaneously ( Avyaja Karuna Poora Purita)!
 [ Tatvas *: 1) ‘Jnanendriayas’: Five of sense organs, viz, Eyes, Nose, Tongue, Mouth, and Skin; 2) ‘Karmendriayas’: or Five Organs for Action viz: mouth, feet, hands, genital and anus; 3) Five  ‘Tanmatras’ or inner basics of elements or light, sound, taste, smell and consciousness; 4) Five ‘Antahkaranas’: Mind or thought, Buddhi or Understanding, Siddha or Power of mind leading to Jayam or success  and Angaram or Excitement; 5) Six ‘Adharas’ or Foundations: Muladhara, Svadhistana, Manipura, Anantha, Visuddhi and Angana; 6) ‘Dhatus’ or Seven Body Constituents: Serum, Blood, Semen, Brain marrow, Flesh, Bone and Skin. 7) Ten ‘Vayus’ or Vital Airs: Prana ( Near Heart), Apana  ( Top to bottom), Samana ( Near Throat), Vyana ( Total Body), Utthana ( near navel), Nahana
 ( movements and speech), Koormana ( causing disgust or dismay), Kiriharana ( facial), Devadatta
 ( exaled by yawning) and Dhanajaya ( remaining in the body after death) 8)  Five ‘Kosas’ or body parts: Annamaya ( food body), Manomaya(Composed of mind), Pranamaya (the  force holding body and mind), Vijnanamaya ( body of intellect) and Anantamaya (the body of Bliss); 9) ‘Nava Dvaras’ or Nine Doors : two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, mouth, genital and excretionay channel. 10) Eight ‘Vikaras’ or Vices: Lust, meanness, anger, carelessness, showiness, ferocity, haughtiness, and jealousy. 11) Three  ‘Mandalas’or Body Regions : Agni Mandala or the fire place in lower abdomen, Aditya Mandala or the Place of Sun in stomach, and Chandra Mandala or the Region of Moon in head and shoulders. 12) Three Temperaments viz. flatulency or  excessive self importance, melancholy or pensive sadness, bilous temperament or irritability,  Phlegmatic temperament  or indifference. 13) Three ‘Gunas’ or attributes: Satva ( Goodness), Rajas ( Passion) and Tamas ( Ignorance). 14) Five ‘Avasthas’or Inner Soul abodes in body parts viz. ‘Sakiram’ or Fully Alive and Vigilant connected to forehead, ‘Svapnam’ or dormant soul in a state of dream connected to neck, ‘Sujjuti’ or insensibility of soul connected to breast, ‘Turiyam’ or abstraction of mind while soul is connected to navel and ‘Turiyathitam’ or a state of death when the soul is sunk into mooladharam. 16) Ten ‘Nadis’ or nerve connections viz. Idakala or the nerve beginning from big toe of right foot to left nostril, ‘Pinkala’ nerve connecting the big toe of left foot to right nostril, ‘Kantari’ or nerves beginning from navel to neck assuming seven folds of seven tones of human voice, ‘Suguva’ or the optical nerves interconnecting ten branches, ‘Purudan’ or the auditory nerves linking one hundred twenty lines, Guru beginning from navel to flat stomach, ‘Sangini’ on flat belly, ‘Suzi Muna’ the nervous link connecting Adharas like Mooladhara, Svadhishtana etc.and Atti and Alambuda connecting miscellaneous body parts.]
 Lords  Brahma and Siva also paid their reverent prayers to Maha Devi Bhagavati and She bestowed Her blessings to them to dutifully discharge their respective duties to Her entire satisfaction, as they had raised queries before their departure by airflight; She commanded them to initiate the fulfillment of tasks assigned to them forthwith. She obliged Lord Maheswara by repeating the nine lettered Mantra to be repeated by them as often as possible viz. ‘Om Hrium Srim Chandrikayai Namah’ along with the Moola (Seed) Mantra.  Brahma too was extremely ecstatic with the mind-boggling Darshan (Vision) and most of His doubts appeared to have been cleared excepting one however that still remained with him. He wondered whether what  Vedas affirmed again and again that the Maha Purusha was the one and only Super Evergy beyond comprehension and if so,  whether that Incomprehensible Power was Herself!  In that case, whether Maha Purusha and Maha Devi Bhagavati were just the same? Was Maha Purusha a Feminine Shakti or a Male Supreme Force?

Devi Bhagavati Explains about Her Vibhutis ( Manifestations & Powers)
To the pointed queries expressed by Lord Brahma, Maha Devi gave clarifications in no uncertain terms that Maha Purusha and Herself was just the same as a lamp and reflection in a mirror and that She was neither a female nor a male, but a Unique Genderless Nirguna. Any changes witnessed are due to the interplay of ‘Antah Karanas’ or natural instincts like  Mind, Buddhi,  ( Mental Power) and ‘Ahankara’ ( Ego) on the one hand and ‘Maya’( Illusion) on the other. At the time of Creation following the Great Dissolution (Pralaya), the dissimilarities occurred as Gender, ‘Karma’ ( Fate) and ‘Anthah Karanas’ all created by ‘Maya’.

It was at that time of Creation, that The Supreme Energy assumed various ‘Vibhutis’ or  Manifestations like Sri (Prosperity), Buddhi(Brainpower), Daya (Compassion), Dhriti (Tolerance), Smriti (Memory), Shraddha (Conviction), Medha  ( Acumen), Lajja (Shame), Shanti ( Peace), Nidra
( Sleep), Pipasa ( Desire), Vidya ( Comprehension), Spriha ( Awakenness or Alertness) and Shakti
( Power). Maha Devi continued to state that She was the Para, Madhyama and Pasyanti ( Mystic expressions of the Supreme Power indicating the Stages of Manifestations of the Eternal Force); She was Para Shakti beyond one’s  Comprehension, Madhyama Shakti who was both Expressed and Unexpressed ( Vyakta –Avyakta) and Pasyanti Shakti who was Fully Manifested and recognisable with Physical Form  or Sakara Shakti; She was also present in thirty five million ‘Nadis’ through out a human body (the tubular organs of the body like arteries, veins, intestines, blood vessels, pulses etc. She was in Vasa (fat), majja ( marrow), Tvak (skin) and Drishti ( eye sight) clearly present in each and every part of ‘Samsara’. So was the case of non moving objects of Creation either animate or inanimate. Maha Devi further affirmed that She was seen as Brahmi or Sarasvati, Vaishnavi or Lakshmi, Eswari as Gauri, Indrani as Indra, Varuni as Varuna, and so on whose formations were all Hers, making the counterpart Purushas perform their tasks as the Maha Devi’s agents or instruments of action. She was the Gunas of Satva, Rajas and Tamas; Ahamkaras-Jnana Sakti ( the Power of Knowledge), Kriya Sakti ( The Power of Action) and Artha Sakti ( The Power of Wealth or Maya the Illusion); The various Tatvas and Maha Tatva; and the interplay of Five Tanmatras or Subtle Elements viz. ( Touch, See, Breathe, Hear and Taste) and Five Basic Elements ( Earth, Air, Water, Fire and Sky) known as the Process of  ‘Panchee- Karana’ resulting in  Five Causes. This was made into a Jeeva ( Living Entity) and the Cosmic Totality of That would be Brahma, stated Devi Bhagavati

The ‘Gunas’ ( Attributes) and their Characteristics
Further to Lord Brahma’s conversation with Maha Devi, the features of the Three  ‘Gunas’ or attributes were explained to Narada. Normally, Faith is known  to exist in the form of three Gunas viz. Sattva Guna, Rajas Guna and Tamas Guna. Sattva is described as the fountain of Goodness and happiness in a pure form. Its colour is stated to be white standing for purity, integrity, happiness, contentment, forgiveness and faith

The Rajas Guna is stated to be red in colour and is featured as false pride, deceipt, avarice, hatred and selfishness. The Tamo Guna standing for black colour is stated to feature ignorance, lack of resources, anger, fear and quarrelsomeness. There is no set identity of the Gunas but are intermingled and rapidly changeable. A person who is Good basically might spurt out into anger and pride and change over in the same breath to fear. But surely the resultant impact would  be disastrous.  As, Lord Krishna stated in Bhagavad Gita:
Dhyayato vishayam pumsaha sanghas theshupa jayate /
Sangat sanjayatey kama kamakrodhobhi  jaaythey /
Krodhaha bhavati sammohaha, sammohat smrithi vibhramaha /
 Smritir bhramsaha buddhi naso buddhi nashoth prayatyati.
‘ An unfullfilled desire would lead to anger. Anger leads to obsession. Obsession leads to failure of memory     ( focussed thinking) and lack of memory leads to mental balance!
Narada reacted instantly to the Principles of ‘Gunas’saying that normally one felt that Lords Vishnu, Brahma and Siva represented Satvic, Rajasic and Tamasic Gunas respectively but the description was not fully represented in their cases. Brahma replied that the predominance of their Gunas was described but there was no water-tight segregation possible in their cases too as in the case of human beings. He gave the illustration of a lamp, but the wick, the oil and the flame together provided light. The three materials denoted the Rajas, Satvik and Tamas Gunas,   just as each or any living being could –and normally did- synthesise the Gunas. In this connection Brahma gave the example to Narada of an illiterate Brahmana, Satyavrata who turned out to be a Learned Sage, by the Grace of Maha Devi Sarasvati

How Satyavrata an illiterate Brahmin became a Learned Sage?
The description about Maha Devi’s appearance to Trinity and the explanation provided to them by Her about Herself was given to Narada by Lord Brahma. This was handed over to Veda Vyasa by Narada and down the line to Suta Muni and in turn to the King Janmejaya as to how Devi Sarasvati interpreted the foolish Brahmana boy’s ignorant chatter noise as Her Bija ( Seed) Mantra and blessed him.
In Kosala Desa of Lord Rama, there lived a Virtuous Brahmana named Deva Dutta desirous of begetting a Son performed ‘Puttreshti’ Yagna with great  devotion. Suhotra acted as the Brahma of the Sacrifice, Sage Yagnavalkya as ‘Athurvu’, Brihaspati as ‘Hota’, Paila as ‘Prastotha’, Govila as ‘Udghata’ and many learned Brahmanas as the Key Assistants.There was a Superintendent Brahmana too for the Soma Sacrifice who was to measure the Principal Area for the Yagna, collect the Sacred Vessels, fetch the Sacrifice Animal and manage the Function all through. Rig Veda and Yajur Vedas were rendered and Govila as Udghata being an expert of Sama Veda initiated its recital. But, Deva Dutta became restless since Govila was taking deep breath in the Sama Veda  rendering in accented voice,viz. ‘Uddhata’, ‘Anuddhata’ and ‘Svarita’ and finally ‘Ratantara Sama’ in seven tunes. Govila’s rendering was objected by Deva Dutta; he shouted on Govila and said : “you are rendering the Veda in bits and pieces as an ignorant and dumb person!” This insinuation in the open house angered Govila and he cursed as follows:  “ Your son will be ignorant and dumb too”! Deva Dutta regretted his remarks and begged of Govila’s pardon. Govila in turn excused Deva Dutta and lightened the curse to say: “ Although your son will be initially stupid and dumb, later in life will be a Learned Sage by the grace of Maha Devi Sarasvati.” As Deva Dutta was blessed with a son in due course, he was named Utathya. But, he had indeed turned out to be a stupid and dumb boy attracting his parents’ frustration and disgust for him. One day, the boy disappeared as he was harassed too much and went into a dense forest without aim.He was surviving with fruits and sitting under a tree took a resolve that he would never tell a lie, come what might. In course of time, he built a hermitage with the help of villagers nearby and gradually came to be known as Muni Satyavrata as a person who always spoke truth. One day, a hunter passed by and asked the so-called Muni whether a boar passed by; actually the boar which was wounded by the hunter’s arrows had indeed taken refuge in his own hermitage and while entering the abode it gave a very pitiable look as though it entreated him not to inform the hunter that the animal was hiding in his own hermitage. Satyavrata being a truth stating person was in a dilemma. Somehow, he did not tell the truth as he felt that the hunter had his selfish reason to catch and kill the boar whereas the boar deserved mercy since it was hurt and gave a frightened and mercy seeking look. So he replied the hunter saying ‘aim, aim and aim’, without meaning any thing.The hunter knew that the Muni had the name for telling the truth only and left away. Meanwhile, the boar left the place into the forest thus rescued. Eversince then he kept repeating the word ‘aim’, aim,’aim’ for everything. Indeed the word was the first letter of the Seed Mantra of Devi Maha Sarasvathi viz. Om Aim Dheem Kleem! Maha Devi Sarasvathi was pleased with the continuous repetition of only one word of the ‘Moola Mantra’ untiringly and gradually he pronounced the word OM also by the grace of Maha Devi Herself! Eventually Satyavrata became a renowned Sage as per the blessing of the Sage Govila and a proud son of Deva Dutta and his virtuous wife. Apparently, there were many factors working in favour of Satyavrata to transform himself from an illiterate to a Sage: the immediate blessing was by Sarsawati Herself as he was persistent in his dedication to speak the truth always and  reciting even one word of the Seed Mantra out of sheer ignorance though, the blessing of Sage Govil who diluted the curse into a favour, the forest life and sense of renunciation, the act of mercy shown to the hurt boar vis-à-vis the selfish hunter who might have hurt Satyavrata too but for his weighing the pros and cons in his cool judgment and finally, his own ‘Karma’ as ‘Prarabhda’ or ‘Sanchita’ actions of the past as carry forward were all the beneficient causes.
Amba Yajna-Regulations and Precedent Performers
King Janamejaya sought for the details of Amba Yajna from Maharshi Veda Vyasa.  Sages and Brahmanas perform the Sacrifice in Satvik manner,  Kshatriyas and Kings perform in the ‘Rajas’ fashion, while Rakshasas do these in ‘Tamasa’ style. Satvik Yajnas are executed in ideal manner normally in ‘Uttarayana’ or when Sun’s direction changes from south to north, by highly puritan Brahmanas with their rightly earned resources as per strict adherence of Rules and Regulations prescribed and invariably for the larger benefit of the Society rather than for their own selfish motives.
Rajo-oriented Yjanas too are aimed at the welfare of the Subjects of a country or a Rajya but once the Raja decides to organise the Yajna only to satisfy the Royal ego, then errors or motivations creep in the function. For instance, the ‘Sarpa Yajna’ had a definite purpose of vengeance and such events are initially commenced with bangs, but end up with whimpers. The Yajnas with motives domineering selfishness or obsession  do get successful in the short term but finally the end result would invariably be a negative or boomeranging impact at the end. For instance, the Sacrifices performed by Demons like Hiranya Kasipu or Indrajit or Bhasmasura are purely motivated for selfish reasons. Certainly, the motivations in performing the Yajnas play an important role. King Dasaratha  performed ‘Putra Kameshti’ was a success as it was done perfectly; but the Yajna done by Indra by Visvarupa as a duplicate  Brihaspati  was a fiasco ending Indra  beheading Visvarupa as the latter, who was of the origin of Daitya clan, uttered mantras appeasing a few Daityas instead of Gods. King Drupada did the Putra Yajna out of spite for Dronacharya and thus an angry son Dristhtadyumna was born and Draupadi an example of distressed woman had several  problems in her matrimonial life commencing from marrying five Pandavas, her end-less humiliation by Kauravas after the defeat of Dhritarashtra in an open assault on her before her brave husbands in a full Royal Court, travails in twelve years of  forest life, her ‘Ajnathavas’ ( Hiding phase of life) for a year as Sairandhri as a servant maid, the harassment by Keechaka and so on. Even the Rajasuya Yajna concluded by Dharmaraja himself in the presence of Lord Krisna was a flop as the sordid drama that happened to Pandavas followed thereafter, apparenltly due to the ego factor that was in play at the time of the Yajna! Many  Tamasa-oriented Yajnas were held by several Daithyas which had all temporary triumphs but in the long-run were fatal at the end.    
 Besides the above types of Yajnas, Veda Vyasa described an entirely distinct kind known as ‘Manasika Yajna’( Sacrifice by Mind), which is nodoubt difficult but once executed well would be extremely effective. The performer has to be completely devoid of sensual pleasures and attractions, has to preplan all the items of Yajna material, keep ready with purity of mind and body, pre-arrange Brahmana Priests and designate them as the Yajna Brahma, Adharyu, Hota, Prastota, Udgata, Pratihatra and Assistants and pre-worship them, imagine a huge hall for the Sacrifice, plan out the Central portion as the Altar ( raised ceremonial structure) and the Homa Kunda or the Fire Pit; imagine the lighting of five‘Agnis’ represented by the five Prana Vayus or five Life Forces viz. ‘Prana’, ‘Apana’, ‘Vyana’, ‘Samana’ and ‘Udana’ in the Fire Pit with considerable care and caution, accompanied by the concerned ‘Mantras’ Viz. Prana standing for ‘Garhastya’, Apana for ‘Ahavaniya’, Vyana for ‘Dakshina’, Samana for ‘Avasatya’and Udana for ‘Sabya Agni’.One should be extremely careful and concentrated while lighting the respective Fires as any defect or shortcoming might have extreme ill-effects. In the ManasicYajna, mind is the performer, Presiding Deity is ‘Nirguna’ Brahma and Maha Devi Bhagavati  or the ‘Nirguna Sakti’ is the targetted Receiver of the Fire Oblations. The offering of Prana Vayus are in the form of materials meant for the Homa Kunda or the ‘Kundalini’. Then by means of ‘Samadhi’ ( the final  stage of Yoga) the Nirvikalpa Mind is surrendered to Devi through the Performer’s consciousness or to the Self ( Atma) which attains ‘Moksha’ ( Final Liberation). The mortal form of  ‘Jiva’ is stated to continue as long its ‘Prarabhda’ remains. Indeed, this type of Manasika Yajna is not meant for ordinary persons in any case, as this is the highest effort that a human being could possibly execute. But, Veda Vyasa had certainly recommended to perform a Rajasic Yajna aiming at  Maha Devi Bhagavati as per the Rules and Regulations described earlier to King Janamejaya, instead of seeking to ‘Sarpa Yajna’ which would be only vengeful but could never provide liberation to his father’s soul, after the latter’s very enduring effort in hearing  Maha Bhagavata from Maha Muni Suka during his very last week’s life!
Lord Vishnu performs Amba Yajna
Being inquisitive, King Janamejaya enquired of Veda Vyasa as to when and who executed  Amba Yajna first. When Trimurthis returned after Maha Bhagavati’s Vision, they created Satya Loka , Vaikuntha and Kailasa  and took charge of their tasks assigned by Maha Devi. From the Ocean was formed Earth, called ‘Medini’, made out of the marrow of the foremost Demons, Madhu and Kaitabha, and also as ‘Mahi Dhara’, the Great  Holder, which was supported by the Grand Serpent, Anantha 
Brahma initiated the Creation process with the mountains to stabilise the Earth, including the ‘Meru’, the Principal Mountain. He created Marichi, Narada, Atri, Pulakasthya, Pulaha, Kratu, Daksha and Vasishtha as ‘Manasa Puthras’ or the Offspring of His  Mind. From Marichi was born to Kasyapa; from Kasyapa were born Diti and Aditi and the latter gave birth to Danavas ( Demons) and Devatas ( Demi-Gods). Kasyapa created human beings, animals, serpents and other animate beings. Brahma created Svambhu Manu from his lower part of the body and  Satarupa emerged from Brahma’s left hand. Manu and Satarupa gave birth to two sons, Priyavrata and Uttanapada and three daughters. And thus Creation  proceeded further. Meanwhile, Indra Loka or Swarga ( Heaven) was also created and so were the Planetary Heads and other Celestial Creations including Kubera, Yama,  Gandharvas, Apsaras and so on. Thus after the Procedure of Creation was stabilised, Lord Vishnu got an inspiration from Maha Bhagavati and  decided to perform Amba Yajna and informed Brahma, Eswar, Indra and the Devatas and the Sages Vasishtha, Kasyapa, Daksha, Vamana Deva and Brihaspathi who were all in position. A gigantic Yajna Hall was built and the Altar too, the twenty seven Priests were appointed, the Yajna material was procured as per ‘Shastras’, the Agni Kunda was prepared out of brick and wood and Kundalini was kindled by Yoga, along side the rendering of Mantras and Moola Mantras strictly as per concerned Scriptures. At the successful end of Amba Yajna, a sonorous voice of Maha Devi announced that She was indeed pleased with the Proceedings just concluded, that She appointed Lord Vishnu as the Leader and Prime Deity to be prayed to by Brahma, Maheswara, Indra and all the rest; that any problem faced by any one of them should  be resolved by Him on their request by assuming His ‘Avataras’ as appropriate ; and that She was deputing ‘Shaktis’ like ‘Varahi’ and ‘Narasimhi’ and popularise them by making appearances as Idols to be worshipped all over to supplement the efforts of Trinity.

Sura Sena’s Illustration of Maha Devi’s Glories
As an illustration of Maha Bhagavati’s direct intervention to bless an upright  devotee, Veda Vyasa narrated a Pauranic instance to King Janamejaya who had already firmed up his decision to perform Amba Yajna instead of the Tamasic ‘Sarpa’ Sacrifice. A King of Solar Dynasty of yore at Kosala, Dhruvasandhi was an ideal and pious ruler. He had two wives, Manorama and Leelavati, the earlier wife being a legally wedded one and the latter one out of fascination
Within a year’s difference, the wives delivered two boys, named Surasena and Shatrujit respectively.The King had a stronger attraction to his second wife and son. In course of time, the King was killed by a lion in a royal game in a forest. The Royal Court’s Senior Officials recommended Surasena to be the King, but the younger wife of King Dhruvasandhi, Leelavati claimed the throne as the deceased King was closer to her and Shatrajit too. The fathers of the two wives were called for consultations but there was no solution to the problem as both King Virasena of Kalinga the father of Manorama and the powerful King of Ujjain Yudhajit, the adamant daughter of Leelavati too were at war at each other. King Virasena was defeated and killed and Shatrujit was made the King by the dominating Yuddhajit, despite Sage Vasishtha’s protests. Priminister Vidalla of the Court, the loyal person of the erstwhile King, accompanied the hapless Manorama and son Surasena to seek refuge from Sage Bharadvaja at his Hermitage. But, Yuddhajit’s secret agents found out the whereabouts of Manorama and Surasena at the Ashram of Sage Bharadvaja. Yuddhajit visited the hermitage and tried to take away the mother and son by force but the Sage cautioned not to do so and gave the example of  Sage Visvamitra trying to take away Nandini the Sacred Cow and its calf by force from the hermitage of Sage Vasishtha and regretted later as the wrath of Vasishtha and the powers of the Sacred Cow were grossly underestimated. Then Yuddhajit had to make a retreat and since then the mother and the son lived peacefully.
Meanwhile, Surasena grew as a fine and handsome youth in the pious atmosphere of the hermitage under the turorship of the Sage and his followers. One day, Priminister Vidalla, who had been loyal to the elder queen and the son visited to the hermitage to enquire of the welfare of the mother and the son and the disciples of the Ashram addressed him to say : ‘Klib’, ‘Klib’ at the entrance where Surasena too was nearby. Since then, he kept on repeating the words ‘kli’, ‘kli’ as a mis- pronounciation of  words ‘Klib, ‘Klib’. Quite unknowingly, the words mis- pronounced were those in the Moola Mantra of  ‘Kama’ or desire with anusvara omitted..Thus initiated with the Mantra which became a habit of reciting it, the boy’s attitudes changed miraculously by the coincidence or ‘Sukrita’ –the carry forward of good deeds of his previous birth. Eventually, the boy’s ‘Upanayana’ ( Gayatri Mantra’s initiation)  was performed by the Sage Bharadwaja who also taught him Archery and Military Science as also the essence of Sastras which a Kshatriaya should know. A princess, Sasikala, sighted Surasena and got intensely desirous of him. The King of  Kasi, Subahu announced  Swayamvara ( Choice of bride for selection of a groom from among  invitees)  at the instance his daughter, keeping Surasena in view. Surasena too reciprocated and met her frequently with the concurrence of both the parents from both sides. Of the three types of Swayamvara, viz. ‘Iccha anusara’ or bride’s free choice without strings, ‘Panya anusara’ or choice as per a condition like Lord Rama breaking ‘Siva Dhanush’ (Lord Shiva’s bow), or bride’s choice of the most courageous warrior. Sasikala chose the first option. Surasena, as  Manorama, Sasikala, her parents were all praying to  Maha Devi in their own ways and the blessings of Sage Bharadwaja were aplenty. Meanwhile Yuddhajit too attended and so did his grandson Shatrujit along with a galaxy of Princes as also Surasena. Yudhajit challenged to say that if Surasena were to be the choice, he would surely kill the latter. He also incited other invitees and said that anybody other than Surasena would be acceptable but the latter had neither a Kingdom, nor bravery, nor wealth. Scenting that a fight would be inevitable, King Subahu postponed the function overnight  to cool the tempers and offered overnight guest status to all. On the following day, a quiet announcement came that the selection had been made in favour of Surasena. As expected, a battle was fought with Surasena and Subahu on one side and many who protested headed by Yudhajit  on the other. Maha Devi Bhagavati assumed many forms of Shakti and massacred the opposing armies in no time and both Yudhajit and Shatrujit were smothered like flies. The devotees of Devi Bhagavati headed by the Surasena couple were astonished to witness glimpses of the Sakar Swarupa of the Great Mother and prayed to their heart’s content with tears rolling and senses benumbed. As soon as he assumed Kingship of Kosala, Surasena built temples all over the Kingdom especially at Ayodhya and simultaneously King Subahu built famous temple complex of Lord Visvanath and accompanying Saktis of Devi Annapurni and Devi Visalakshi. In fact, through out Bharatvarsha, ‘Nava Ratri’ celebrations are performed with immense devotion and dedication to various Forms of Devi Bhagavati, especially as Devi Durga.

Navaratri Celebrations-Methodology and Rewards
Navaratri functions are held for nine days twice every year during the first half of ‘Asvayuja’ and ‘Chaitra’ months from ‘Pratipad’ to ‘Dasami’. The Navaratra festivals in Asvayuja month are known as Sarat Navaratras and the Chaitra month festivals are populurly known as Vasanta Navaratras. The preparation for  Sarat Navaratri in the Autumn season commencing  from Asvayuja Pradhama Tithi actually starts from Bhadrapada Amavasya itself with one meal of ‘Homa Anna’ or ‘Sacred Agni Prasada’.
At a designated Place in the center of a Hall,  a  raised platform made of bricks, called ‘Vedi’ of six feet wide and one and half feet height be arranged.  On the Pratipad Tithi of Asvayuja, the Person(s) concerned sponsoring the Navarartras must arrive clean and composed, having already performed their ‘Sandhavandanam’ or daily pujas and  should seek the blessings of Brahmanas appointed ( either nine, or five or three or atleast one) after presenting them new clothes and Dakshina. ‘Swasti’ Mantras followed by Veda Parayana would be recited. An Idol of nicely decorated Durga Devi seated on a Lion, with either four or eighteen hands, with symbolic arms and jewellery be installed as also a Pot of Sacred River Water placed over an ‘Yantra’ (diagram) representing Grandhis (Chambers) of Trinity and relevant Demi-Gods and Planetary Heads, while rendering the relevant Mantras. With various Worship Materials in place, the Puja would commence along with the Mantram ‘Om Hrim Srim Chandikaya namah’. Proceedings with Sacrificial Animals, [* not so much in India now, but in vogue in Nepal during Dussera Festival Days] for propitiating of  Gods and Almighty Shakti, would follow. ‘Arthies’ ( Camphor cum oil soaked cotton vick  lamps shown to Deity ) are performed, accompanied by instrumental music, singing and dance in praise of Maha Devi Bhagavati. ‘Bala Kanya Bhog’ or Prasad
( Food material offered to Deity) to Virgins of the ages of two to ten would follow. The virgins of two years are named Kumaris, three years are Trimurthies, four years are Kalyanis, five years are Rohinis, five years are Kalikas, six years are Chandika, seven years Sambhavi, eight years Durga and Nine years as Subhadra. Blessings of these Virgins provide removal of problems, wealth,  longevity, happiness, health and Peace. The procedure for the evenings too is  similar in the Sandhya Puja viz. the ‘Arti” Worship to Goddess accompanied by instrumental music, ‘Shodasa Upacharas’or Sixteen kinds of worship ranging from holding an Umbrella to the Diety, hand fanning, showing a mirror, camphor lighting, Veda Recital, Singing and dancing in praise of Amba, ‘Naivedyam’ or offering varieties of food, and ‘Parikrama’ or taking the Deity around the worship place, or a temple or surrounding areas and so on. At the end, Bhajans (Group Singing), Purana Pravachana ( Lectures on the Mysteries of Goddess), ‘Harikathas’( Musical renderings of Stories of Religious nature) and so on are performed. Special worship is arranged on the ‘Saptami’,‘Durga Ashtami’, and ‘ Maha Navami’ days ie. the seventh, eighth and the ninth days of the Festival. Devotees not quite involved in the previous days too would like to invariably perform Worship as per their choices in their own Puja Places in their own residences, or Temples or Specially built up (improvised) Group ‘Mandaps’ for community worship. Saptami is described as the day when Maha Bhagavati takes a ‘Saakar’or Bodily Incarnation to destroy the Demon ‘Mahisha Asura’ who had the form of a Buffalo, creating havoc to the World. The following day, popular as ‘Durga Ashtami’, Maha Bhagavati in the Incarnation as Durga Devi looks fierce and angry with the Demon and prepares for a violent battle with him and fellow Demons and massacres them all. It is also believed that Bhadra Kali was incarnated in a furious and gruesome form to devastate the ‘Yajna’ that was performed by Daksha Prajapati, the father of ‘Maha Sati’, the better half of Lord Siva and the Kali Incarnation was surrounded by innumerable ‘Yoginis’ or the multiple permutations of Sixty Attendants of Bhadra Kali who created mayhem at the Yajna and killed Daksha and his followers.On Maha Navami Day, Maha Bhagavati in the forms of fury and destruction punished the evil forces and brought back Her own Creation to normalcy and established balance of power. Thus the two days of Durga Ashtami and Maha Navami are the days of the Grand Finale of the Navarathras, which are remembered for the relief, climactic joy and devotion experienced by the humans and Gods alike. The day next day falling on Vijaya Dasami is the day of high celebration and gratitude to Maha Bhagavati for Her ‘Leelas’or Playful Actions that remain complex forever in human minds, soaked deep in the grip of Maya or Illusion! Whoever observes Navarathri Pujas with devotion are certain to reap benefits- Dharma ( Virtue), Artha ( Prosperity), Kama ( Worldy fulfillments) and Moksha ( Eternal Bliss) with the blessings of Maha Bhagavati. Even those who committed unpardonable misdeeds earlier- ‘Pancha Patakas’or heinous acts viz. killing Sages and Brahmanas, stealing gold or valuables, drinking and gambling, adultery or association with perpetrators of  sins-would be spared if only the Navaratra Worship is performed with faith.
Veda Vyasa described to King Janamejaya the illustration of how Lord Ramachandra had conquered the indomitable Ravana, when the latter had kidnapped  Bhagavati Sita by  deception in disguise as a Fake Sage and on securing tip offs that She was in Lanka under Ravana’s custody. In fact, the earlier forest  life of Lord Rama was a dismal experience consequent on his Step mother Kaikeyi’s demand to send away Lord Rama and Lady Sita to forest life for fourteen years. Sri Rama had to invade Ravana’s Lanka to recover Sita, with the help of King Sugriva of Kishkindha and his Monkey brigade including Heros like Lord Anjaneya, Jambavanta and Angada. It was at that critical time that Maharshi Narada met Lord Rama and advised Him to perform Navaratra Pujas to fulfill the objective of destroying the unbeatable  Ravana and his entire followers and for recovering Sita Devi. ( In fact, Ravana  was seeking Maya Sita Devi, as real Sita in her earlier birth was an ascetic daughter of a Sage and Ravana was reproached by her when he made advances to her. He caught her hairs and she felt her body became impure and cursed that she would destroy him and his clan in her next birth and ended her life in Yoga Fire. As Sita Devi as the wife of Sri Rama, she gave away her Maya ( Illusion) to Ravana and he actually stole away a poisonous serpent in the form of Maya Sita in the ‘Ashoka Vana’!) Narada told Sri Rama that in the past, Navaratras were observed in sincerity by Indra, many other Demi-Gods as also Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara and obtained their Blessings from Maha Devi to fulfill their own wishes and prayers. As advised by Narada Maharshi, Lord Rama performed the Navaratras and secured Bhagavati Devi’s blessings. The battle was fought killing Rakshasas and the mighty Indrajit, Kumbhakarna and Ravana by Sri Rama as an instrument of Devi Bhagavati.

Explanations of ‘Karma’ on queries about Krishna Avatar
Concerning a number of queries raised by King Janamejaya in the context of Krishna Avatar, Maharshi Veda Vyas explained the role of ‘Karma’ or Fate playing  vital significance. There are invisible links of one’s life to the previous births and the actions of present life to future consequences and the cycle of lives goes on, unless there is a possible break in the vicious circle in a  highly unlikely situation of a zero account.
The concepts of  ‘Sanchita’(accumulated), ‘Prarabdha’(accumulating) and Bhavishya (forthcoming) total up ‘Karma’. Viewed from this perspective, the very many questions raised by the King such as why Lord Krishna’s father Vasudeva and mother Devaki were kept in prison for no fault of theirs; why Krishna had to have two mothers Devaki and Yasoda; why Devaki had to deliver six infant boys in a succession just to be killed by Kamsa till the seventh and the eighth were spared; why did the righteous Pandavas struggle in life and faced several ugly situations especially when their share of Kingdom was given, moved on to Indraprastha and performed Rajasuya Yajna! Maharshi Veda Vyasa  provided replies on several queries of King Janamejaya as  linked with ‘Sanchita Karma’. As an illustration, he narrated the incident of the birth of seven infants before the eighth issue of Lord Krishna and why Aditi was born as Devaki  in the next birth. Two daughters of Prajapati Daksha, Aditi and Diti, were wedded to Sage Kasyapa. Indra the King of Devas was born to Aditi; and Diti too desired to give birth to a son as powerful as Indra. Kasyapa advised Diti to perform a religious ritual with great piety and purity. As Diti too was conceived and the boy was nearing the delivery, Aditi got perturbed with envy. She asked her son Indra to somehow terminate the delivery. Indra pretended affection to Diti and when she fell fast asleep,  entered by his mystic power the pregnant area and used his thunderbolt (Vajra Weapon) by splitting her womb into seven parts which were cut into seven further parts totalling forty nine parts.These forty nine parts were delivered and became Aswini Kumars, the powerful and virtuous Devas. The seven parts of the foetus were born as Devaki’s infant boys, six of them having been killed by Kamsa as soon as born and the seventh one flew away in the process of killing as ‘Yoga Maya’. Of course the eighth child was carried to Gokula as that of Nanda and Yasoda and thus emerged the Krishna Avatar. Diti learnt how the envy of Aditi was responsible for the miscarriage and cursed Aditi that she too be punished as Devaki in her next birth experiencing the pangs of losing seven infants in a row. Another illustration given by Veda Vyasa about the impact of ‘Karma’ was related to the several miseries faced by Pandavas, particularly after their conduct of Rajasuya Yajna; the explanation was that the Function was performed more out of arrogance and bravado rather than for religious reasons. Similarly, highly virtuous persons like Bhishma, Drona and Dharmaraja had undergone many embarrassing situations again as a clear example of Sanchita Karma

Nara and Narayana, Urvasi and Prahlada
Maha Muni Dharma was born from Lord Brahma’s heart and was wedded to Prajapathi Daksha’s ten daughters. He had four sons Hari, Krishna, Nara and Narayana. The former two were practitioners of high system of Yoga and Nara and Narayana were always engaged in religious means. When Nara and Narayana were performing rigourous meditation at Gandhamadan Mountain for over one thousand years, Indra got alarmed at the safety of his throne and despatched Celestial Damsels like Rambha, Tilottama, Menaka totalling sixteen thousand and also requested Manmadha and Rati Devi to help divert the attention of the Sages
All the coquetisth approaches made by Heavenly Nymphs fell flat as these Sages were far above the aspects of lust and anger.  With a smile, the Sage brothers created one outstandingly beautiful woman from their thighs and hence named Urvasi! The Munis said that since there were so many Nymphs who came from Heavens to visit the place, they thought it fit to create at least one hostess to look after them. The Apsaras were put to shame as their intention was different and fell on the feet of the Sages. They were all grateful that despite the deep provocation that  the Munis had faced, they did not curse the Apsaras; instead the Munis asked to take away Urvasi also and leave them in peace to continue their ‘Tapasya’. But the Apsaras desired to stay at the most alluring surroundings of the Mountain and begged of Narayana to marry them as they were all got mesmerised and infatuated with him. On their collective insistence, Sage Narayana agreed that in His next Avatar as Lord Krishna, He would marry them all and with that assurance, they returned back to Indra Loka. As the Apsaras left, the Sages Nara and Narayana did not get angry with the disturbance caused by the presence of so many damsels and spoilt their Tapasya, as anger and ‘Ahamkara’ (Ego) would indeed be worse than lust and thus reverted back to their ‘Tapasya’. In fact the Sages felt that a position like that happened earlier when they were overcome by the instinct of ‘Ahamkara’ and their meditation was badly affected when  there was a fight with Prahlada and that they would never like to repeat a situation like that.
Veda Vyasa explained to King Janamyejaya that Illustrious Sages like Nara Narayanas or even the ever-memorable devotee of Lord Vishnu like Prahlada, who was  responsible for the slaughter of Hiranya Kasipu by Lord Vishnu’s  Incarnation of ‘Narasimha’, were not exceptions to ‘Ahamkara’, let alone ordinary human beings! The son of Bhrigu Maharshi, Chyavana Muni was bathing in Narmada River at a ‘Punya Kshetra’ ( a Holy Place) named Vyarhitisvara. A frightful snake pulled the Muni and dragged him down to Patala. The Muni felt that his last hours of life were counted as the snake would surely give him a poisonous bite any time and prayed to Lord Vishnu most sincerely wondering how awful was fate that after a highly ascetic life he had to have an end like this! But, the poison proved ineffective as his prayers were responded to. In Patala, the snake felt apologetic for its action and revered the Muni for his powers. Others nearby too respected the Sage and the word went round till the King of  Patala, Prahlada called him and realised that Chyavana Muni too was a close devotee of Lord Vishnu. During the conversation with  the Sage, Prahlada realised how enlightened the Muni was and enquired which were the best pilgrimage places on earth for visits. The Muni replied that if there were no pollution in one’s own mind, every place would be a pilgrimage center and if the mind was full of vice, avarice, and violence, no pilgrimage was worth it. In any case, Chyavana Muni recommended Prahlada’s visit to Naimisharanya and the nearby Chakra Tirtha and Pushkara Tirtha and so on. Prahlada was excited and visited Naimisaranya and noted that there were several Sages engaged in their own Tapasyas. But, suddenly he saw a sight of two Munis with knotted hair, keeping before them two sets of bows and arrows, ‘Sarangam’ and ‘Ajavagam’ (Pinaka) belonging to Lords Vishnu and Siva. The Sages were indeed Nara and Narayana. Prahlada was furious to see the sight of the Sages keeping bows and arrows before them and at the same time engaged in deep meditation. He felt that both bravery and meditation could never be side by side and neither of these qualities was genuine. He reprimanded and badly criticised the Sages, who asked the King to mind his business and leave them alone. Then arguments followed by the King and the ascetics and the King gradually became louder and quarrelsome. The spirit of ‘Ahankara’ overcame both the sides and snow-balled into a fulfledged battle! The entire Universe got reverberated with the exchange of fiery arrows from Nara and Narayana on the one hand and Prahlada and the entire army of Asuras on the other for several years. It became apparent over the time that the two Sages were indeed invincible and Prahlada was almost overcome; he remembered Maha Vishnu who appeared before the devotee. Bhagavan Vishnu declared to  Prahlada that the Great  Sages Nara and Narayana were of His own ‘Amsa’( Expansion). Realising his grave blunder, Prahlada fell on the feet of the Sages and prayed to them that ‘Ahamkara’ blinded him and ‘Maya’overpowered his emotions, for which he was ashamed and guilty!
Sage Bhrigu curses Maha Vishnu

There were on-going battles between Devas and Demons, but the most potent war fought was that of  Bali with Devas in which Danavas had an upper hand. But Lord Vishnu took the incarnation of Vamana and tricked Bali by asking for just three feet of land and occupied the  entire Universe and suppressed Bali’s head to the Sub-terranian world as the third foot! Similarly Prahlada’s father Hiranyakasipu was killed taking the form of half-lion and half - man to escape the effect of Brahma’s boon
Thus each time Danavas got boons from Brahma, Lord Vishnu tried to search for the escape clauses of the boons secured after rigorous Tapasya and appeared as the saviour of Devas always. Thus brooding,  Sukra Acharya, the son of Sage Bhrigu and Urjasvati, consoled Danavas and assured that some other strategy would have to be followed to achieve victory over Devas. Thus Danava Guru asked for patience and restraint and meanwhile practised a life of austerity and abstinence till he found a solution to the problem from Tapasya. The Acharya then meditated Lord Siva for several years together and finally pleased him for a boon. He explained that the various Tapasyas performed by Danava Kings in the past to Brahma and the boons obtained from him proved futile since they had only temporary impact and each time Lord Vishnu was discovering loopholes in the boons received. That was the reason why Lord Siva was approached for a solution as a boon, the kind of which should not have been granted to his opponent Brihaspati, the Deva Guru. Lord Siva in turn gave a very arduous method to follow namely to perform penance for thousand years lying upside down inhaling smoke from burnt husk. Meanwhile Deva Guru disguised himself as Sukracharya and gradually misguided Danavas and taught them a licentious and wicked life quite contrary to what Sukracharya advised before his departure for Tapasya.The Danavas were provoked by the Fake Danava Guru went on war against Devas who killed several Demons as the latter were  disunited, indisciplined and weak. Sukracharya’s mother, Kavya, found that Devas were drawing too near to Danavas and protected them by putting Devas to deep sleep by requesting the Goddess of ‘Nidra’(Slumber). Indra escaped the sleep as Lord Vishnu absorbed him into His body; He also used the Sudarsana Chakra (Wheel) and cut off Kavya’s head even ignoring that she was a woman that too the wife of Sage Bhrigu. The Sage was furious on learning that Vishnu’s Chakra cut Kavya’s head and gave him a curse that Vishnu would be born again and again as a human being since He never cared for the killing of a woman and hence be punished by learning the misery of  staying imprisoned for nine months each time before the births. Also by his mystic powers, the Sage revived his wife to come alive! Indra was afraid that Bhrigu cursed Narayana and soon original Visvamitra would also return after securing the much desired Mantra from Lord Siva. So Indra made a plan and asked his daughter Jayanti to disguise herself as a maid and reach Visvamitra’s hermitage and please his mother Kavya to start with and please the Sage in his duties subsequently which she did exceedingly well. Meanwhile  Visvamitra secured a great boon from Lord Siva that he would be invincible to any force in the Universe. Lord Siva blessed the Sage with the Mantra. Also he was pleased with the sevices of Jayanti and  desired to give boons to her. She  revealed her identity as Indra’s daughter and requested the Sage to marry her. Visvamitra agreed that she could be with him for ten years, that he would not attend to any outside task during the period and that she would not be visible to others. Indra’s plan thus succeeded well. The fake Sukracharya (Brihaspati) too had a successful time. But after ten year’s time Visvamitra left Jayanti and returned to Asuras and sought to expose the fake Sukracharya, but the fake Sage advised that he was real Sukracharya and the one who arrived just then was really fake! The real Sukacharya was not able to convince the foolish Danavas and having cursed them for not recognising him left in anger. Having fulfilled his mission, the fake Sukracharya or Brihaspati returned to Indra Loka. Danavas felt cheated and desired to convey their sincere apologies and thus approached Sukracharya with King Prahlada in the lead. The Sage was furious as he felt insulted, while actually he took the trouble of severe Tapasya only for the welfare of the entire Danava community whereas they let him down badly by believing in Brihaspati in disguise. King Prahlada pleaded with the Sage very earnestly and all the Danavas prostrated before the Guru to excuse them for their lack of gratitude and commonsense. Sukracharya understood from his intuition that the regrets expressed by Prahlada and Danavas were genuine. He then narrated that Lord Brahma assured him of  the King of Danava’s coming to power soon and for the time being Danavas would have to lie low and await excellent times till Prahlada’s grandson would be born as Bali and reign the Three Worlds. What the Danava Guru told Prahlada was so encouraging that he did not wait for more time and attacked the Devas; Devas lost the war.
       Indra was surprised at the defeat of Devas. He prayed to Devi Bhagavati at the instance of Deva Guru, Brihaspati. He extolled the unparalleled Glory of Devi as per ‘Shakti Darsana’ and described Her as the ‘Tatvas’ rooted to the material  manifestation of Pancha  Bhootas or Five Elements; the Tatvas include Maha Bindu, Nada Sakti and  Misrama Bindu. She dwelt in five sheaths ( Kosas) viz. Annamaya, Prana Maya Kosa, Manonmaya, Vignana Maya and Ananda Maya. She was the Vedas, Sastras, Upanishads, Mantras, Tantras and multi-routed final destination and so on. Devi Bhagavati was pleased and made Her extraordinary appearance in full form, packed with  armoury and ornaments. Out of sheer panic, Danavas led by King Prahlada fled away to Patala forthwith. Thus ended the unwarranted war declared by Danavas against Devatas who had other important duties to perform; thus the Devi’s appearance was a warning to both Devas and Danavas that they should not waste mutual energies in frequent bickerings. Thus there was a Truce ending the War.

Links to previous births of personalities during Vishnu ‘Avataras’
King Janamejaya enquired of Maharshi Veda Vyasa about the Incarnations of Lord Vishnu and the connected links of persons figuring in the respective Avataras.While in the ‘Chakshusa’ Manvantara of ‘Kritha’ Yuga, the Incarnation of Vishnu was of Dharma and the sons were Nara and Narayana, the Vaivasvata Manvantara of the same Yuga witnessed the Incarnation of Dattatreya, the son of Sage Atri and Anasuya;
The Trinity were born to Anasuya as Soma from Brahma, Dattatreya from Vishnu, and Durvasa from Eswara. In the last phase of KritaYuga was born ‘Narasimha’, destroyed Hiranya Kasipu, saved Prahlada and re-established Dharma. As in the case of Hiranyaksha when Lord Vishnu took the Incarnation of a Boar, the links were clear in that the Sanaka Brothers – Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanath Kumara-gave a curse to Jaya and Vijaya-the Gate Keepers of Vaikuntha, the abode of Lord Vishnu- that they be born as cruel as Kings in three successive births as Hiranya Brothers, as Ravana and Kumbhakarna, and as Sisupala and Dantavarka. In Treta Yuga, Lord Vishnu’s Incarnations were of ‘Vamana’ to curb the power of King Bali, as Parasu Rama the destroyer of the erring and arrogant Kshatriyas, and Rama as the ‘Maryada Puroshottama’( Ideal and Virtuous Paradigm Human Being). In Dvapara Yuga, the Incarnations were repeats of Narayana and Nara as Krishna and Arjuna. After Sage Bhrigu’s curse, Lord Vishnu’s Avataras were indeed born and as humans to go through the travails of pregnancy and delivery, where as the earlier Avataras of Matsya, Kurma and Narasimha were Svayambhus. Besides Lord Vishnu several players enacting the dramas related to the Avataras too had links with their previous births according to their own ‘Sanchita’ or ‘Prarabdha Karma’.
With special reference to Krishna Avatar, King  Janamejaya explained that he had already got the answer in the previous pages as to how Lord Krishna had sixteen thousand and eight wives of whom eight were accounted for as Rukmini, Satyabhama, Jambavati, Kalindi, Mitravinda, Satya and Bhadra, apart from the rest who were the Apsaras who were sent to Nara and Narayana Sages by Indra . But he had a barrage of other questions which deluded answers for him: Why were Vasudeva and Devaki chosen as the parents of Krishna and Balarama; why were the six infants killed as soon as given birth to; why were Krishna and Balarama grown at Gokula and how did Balarama get transferred to Yashoda’s pregnancy from that of Devaki; why did Krishna shift to Dvaraka overnight from Mathura if it were not out of fear of Jarasandha and how could the residents of Mathura were convinced; why were the good Pandavas subjected by fate to untold miseries, especially by Draupadi; How was it that Draupadi was the wife of five brothers which was considered as incest in any civilised Society; why did a Maharshi Veda Vyasa agree to a procedure of begetting children to two widows and a Dasi, simply because Bhishma took a vow not to marry and become a King again; how come an intelligent King  like Dharmaraja yielded to the temptation of playing a ‘friendly’ game of chess, being fully conscious of  the implication of  losing it at a ridiculously high stake of Aranyavasa for twelve years and a year long Ajnatavasa, that too by involving his wife and brothers; why did the highly virtuous and brave persons  like Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Drupada and so on failed to control the Evil Forces and save the Great Battle; how was it that Asvathama a great Warrior and the son of Drona Acharya himself resorted to the meanest act of killing the five sons of Pandavas while in sleep; and why did the Great Munis curse the entire Yadu Vamsa for a casual prank played by Yadu boys for displaying a boy as a pregnant woman knowing fully well that Lords Krishna and Balarama too belonged to the same Vamsa and so on.  The spate of doubts expressed by King Janamejaya as above could be dealt with by convincing explanations in the pages ahead, keeping in view the colossal role played by Maha Maya ( The Grand Illusion) or Maha Devi Bhagavati.

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)


Post a Comment