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A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-5. Part-12.

5: Narada Instructs Yudhisthira on Ashrama Dharma :


Part-12.


In order to go on with this meditation, we have to take our ishta devata for our contemplation. Our ishta devata can be Rama, Krishna, Devi, Bhagavati, Narayana, Siva, Ganesha or whatever the case may be, or if we belong to another religious faith it may be the concept of Allah, Jesus Christ, Father in heaven, etc. Whatever it be, that concept has to be internalised for the purpose of upasana. We should think only that and nothing else, and believe in the protection that it can grant us. The ishta devata protects us, guides us, and enlightens us. It gives us security, and we feel happy with it. Some devotees hug the image of their ishta devata, wear it around their necks, kiss it, and feel that it is their beloved. It is truly that, because it symbolises the divinity that is pervading everywhere. Such kind of upasanas, to mention briefly, are the duties of a Vanaprastha.

But there is a still higher stage, called Sannyasa. I…

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-5. Part-11.

5: Narada Instructs Yudhisthira on Ashrama Dharma :


Part-11.


Here, in these Aranyakas, the various upasanas are prescribed: how the cosmic prana can be meditated upon, how the cosmic mind can be conceived, how Brahma—the Mahat, or the cosmic intellect—can be brought into the focus of our attention, how we can intensely feel the unity of the parts of our physical body with the parts of the physical universe. This is the highest form of upasana that we can think of.

There are also various other ways. This is a transcendental technique of the Aranyaka portion of the Vedas, but we have other devotional paths which can also be called upasana—such as contemplation/meditation on a form of God, or an ishta devata, as it is called, that we think is suitable for us. The ishta devata is a chosen deity. It may be the name that we give to our concept of God as a person pervading the whole world, or as a person seated near us as an image on our altar or a murti in a temple, as the case may be. In …

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-5. Part-10.

5: Narada Instructs Yudhisthira on Ashrama Dharma :


Part-10.


Upasana in this form is very difficult because the mind has to expand into the arena of the performance of the five elements. We have to place ourselves in the context of all things in the world, so that we are not only sitting and meditating in one place; the five elements are meditating with us. It is mentioned in the Chhandogya Upanishad that the Earth itself is meditating. The position in the equilibrium and the precision that the elements maintain is itself considered as a meditation. The elements are not acting chaotically; a method is maintained. Whether it is sunrise, moonrise or sunset, or whether it is the ocean, the wind or anything else, everything is maintaining a maryada, or a norm of behaviour, so that they maintain the required harmony among themselves—into which the upasaka enters because the five elements are also the constituents of one’s own body and personality. There is a great cosmic meditation taking…

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-5. Part-9.

5: Narada Instructs Yudhisthira on Ashrama Dharma :


Part-9.



The meditational process that commences in the Vanaprastha stage begins with what is known as upasana, which is placing oneself in the juxtaposed context of what is called ‘nearness to Reality’. Nearness to Reality is possible not through any physical means, but through the mind only. The mind, when it is charged with the consciousness of the Atman, adjusts itself to the need to keep itself in harmony with not merely the physical Earth or human society, but even with the five elements—earth, water, fire, air and ether. The Vanaprastha contemplates not merely the world of people but the very elements that control all life. It is a higher meditation which is upasana on the whole of creation—God manifest as this world.

It is called upasana because there is a devout pouring in of oneself to the objective, which is all creation itself. Various techniques of contemplation on this creational process are described in the Aranyaka po…

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-5. Part-8.

5: Narada Instructs Yudhisthira on Ashrama Dharma :


Part-8.


The Grihastha does not have time to always sit in meditation, though he has to do that also for a certain prescribed time. But now, in a period where we retire from active life of social existence—contact with people of a social or political nature—we do not just lie down and say we are retired and have no work to do. The retirement is only from the distractions of life, not from the duties of life. That is to say, there is a higher duty than the duty of a Brahmacharin or a Grihastha, and this is traditionally designated as the Vanaprastha stage.

In earlier days, people in the Vanaprastha stage would go to live in the forest, but that is not to be taken literally as a necessity. We have to be completely free from the entanglements of a household life. Here, the preparation starts for the utilisation of the conserved energy for the purpose of direct meditation. There was some kind of activity in the Brahmacharya stage, and mo…

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-5. Part-7.

5: Narada Instructs Yudhisthira on Ashrama Dharma :


Part-7.


But it is not that we have to live this kind of life of social work and family existence forever. There is a time in everyone’s life when one feels that the world cannot give more than what it has already given. The wisdom of life acquired during the Grihastha period consummates in a maturity of experience which tells us that we have had enough of this world. The sense of having enough cannot arise unless we have passed through this world and experienced all the layers of provision that the Earth can give us, because a rejection of the world cannot give us an idea of the world. The world has to be conquered and made our own. It has to be befriended, and this can be done only by the experience of passing through the conditions of life.

What the world is made of has to be understood; and we have to pass through all these structural essences of the world. Every experience of the world has to be passed through. There are gifts t…

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-5. Part-6.

5: Narada Instructs Yudhisthira on Ashrama Dharma :


Part-6.


It is immaterial whether we marry or not. It depends upon the need that is felt inside. Even in the Himalayas we may feel that we are a Grihastha because of the pressure that we feel inside. The external things, appurtenances, husband, wife, etc., are only symbols of forms of an inner connotation, a need that is felt inside us. What binds us or liberates us is the need that is felt inside. We are the makers of our destiny; we create our bondage, and we are also responsible for our freedom. No external aid can help us in this matter. But external aids are sometimes necessary, just as we require a pen to write a book, a plate on which to eat our meal, a glass for drinking water, a seat to sit on, and a bed to lie on. These are external forms of requirement necessitated by the needs felt inside, which otherwise cannot be expressed properly. If the need can be sublimated, the external appurtenances are not necessary.


There are d…

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-5. Part-5.

5: Narada Instructs Yudhisthira on Ashrama Dharma :


Part-5.


In the next stage, which is generally called Grihastha, a kind of life is prescribed which is markedly different from the purely ascetic life of Brahmacharya through conservation of energy. Grihastha is the system provided for the utilisation of this energy. During the early years of Brahmacharya, the energy should not be utilised.

It has been kept intact, totally conserved so that it keeps one brilliant not only in the brain, but also in the face, and that itself is a satisfaction. In the stage of Grihastha, permission is given for certain types of enjoyment and experience, coupled with duty. There is no duty for a Brahmacharin. The only duty is to study, conserve energy, and offer prayers. But the Grihastha has a double responsibility of the performance of duty, and also the acquisition of values that are permissible under those circumstances.

Now, a Grihastha does not necessarily mean a person with a wife. Even a person w…

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-5. Part-4.

5: Narada Instructs Yudhisthira on Ashrama Dharma :


Part-4.


These days, nothing enters students’ heads. Even if they are told something a hundred times, they do not remember it. But in earlier days it was not like that. Even fifty or sixty years ago things were much better, and students were very sharp, eager to study, and even though they always wished to stand first in the examination, they would not adopt dishonest means to get a certificate. Cheating was unknown in those days, but that attitude is now diluted.

If we, as students of spiritual life, are to ignore these externalities of dissipation and attraction, we have to somehow prepare ourselves to wade through this ocean of distraction. We cannot complain that this world is very bad, because we have been born into it and we have to pass through it. For whatever reason, we have been born into this world of certain conditions—good or bad, necessary or otherwise—through which we have to wade. This is why, from an early age throug…

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-5. Part-3.

5: Narada Instructs Yudhisthira on Ashrama Dharma :


Part-3.


But anyone who is interested in the welfare of their own being, and knows what is good for them, has to remember that the pleasant is not always the good. We always like pleasant things, sweet things, and they attract our senses perpetually, so that the senses gather our energies and pour them outwards on the conditions of life outside; and if this is the habit that we form right from the beginning of life,

we will have to reap the fruit of this misbehaviour towards the end of our life. It is not necessary that we must be bedridden in old age. That condition is imposed on us by the circumstances into which we are born and which we have introduced into our own selves by the desire for dissipation.

We feel a great joy when we pour ourselves externally in love for power, in love for money, in love for enjoyments of various kinds, not knowing that this is not real pleasure because when the tension that is created in us—when the …

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-5. Part-2.

5. Narada Instructs Yudhisthira on Ashrama Dharma :


Part-2.


If we do not believe that our life will continue for one hundred years and think that it may be less, we have to proportionately arrange the pattern of our life accordingly for the fulfilment which life intends. Study and intellectual training, building up of acumen through the gathering of knowledge in a Gurukula under a competent master, and purifying oneself in every way through prayer, meditation, japa, surya namaskara, and the service of the Guru under whom the student lives during these preparatory years, pave the way for the necessary apparatus required to live life later on.
Many fortunate ones are born in favourable circumstances—in a family of good parents who are examples of good behaviour, good conduct, and who themselves are religiously oriented. We cannot find such parents everywhere. The conditions of life today have changed so much that one has to work hard to wean oneself from the distractions which come to …

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-5. Part-1.

5: Narada Instructs Yudhisthira on Ashrama Dharma :


Part-1.


The Sixth and Seventh Skandhas of the Srimad Bhagavata are devoted entirely to the great battle that was waged between Indra and Vritra, and in this context we also have the story of Chitraketu. It is in the Seventh Skandha that we have a more detailed analysis of Ashrama dharma, which Narada recounts to Yudhishthira in the context of his question concerning the birth of Prahlada, ending with Narasimha avatara due the activities of Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu, two children born to Kashyapa and Diti under queer circumstances. Narada’s instruction to Yudhishthira is especially on the dharmas to be followed in the Ashrama system of life.


From the birth of a child into this world onwards, there is a graduated building up of personality through conservation of energy at different levels of being. Taking for granted that a person will live for one hundred years, the first twenty-five years are supposed to be devoted totally to …

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-4. Part-17.

4: The Stories of Siva and Sati, and of Rishabhadeva and Bharata


Part-17.


He is the Satchidananda Svarupa behind the nama and rupa prapancha, and all this world. We pursue the shadows, which cannot be cast unless there is a screen behind them. We forget the screen, and we pursue the shadows. That is why we are going to attain nothing worthwhile in this world by the pursuit of external objects. All externality is a shadow cast by Universality. Universality is the True Being which is Satchidananda. When it is cast into the mould of the space-time process, it looks like objects of sense. They are only appearances. The objects do not really exist, just as the various figures that we see in a magic show do not really exist. It is a magical performance. Mahamaya is pervading everywhere, and the magician is Ishvara Himself, wielding His magic wand in His great art of creating worlds and worlds. We should not get caught. Like Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanatkumara, we should be cautious…

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-4. Part-16.

4: The Stories of Siva and Sati, and of Rishabhadeva and Bharata


Part-16.



creation, right from Brahma onwards. Wherever we go, we will find bondage. We will be caught either by this policeman or that policeman. We have no freedom anywhere. This is the kind of world we live in. Either we will be caught by dazzling things or we will be caught by dreadful things—but either way, we will be caught. It does not matter who catches us.

“Such is the world. Beware of it,” said Bharata to King Rahugana. “It is a jungle, not a palace or an empire that you are ruling. You are a fool if you think that you are ruling an empire. You will perish one day, and everything will be lost. Nobody is going to continue to live for a long time in this world. Everything is passing, everything is passing, everything is passing. All is going to perish. Nothing will stay alive for a moment. This is the world in which you are reigning supreme as an emperor. Rahugana, understand what I am saying to you.”

Such kind o…

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-4. Part-15.

4: The Stories of Siva and Sati, and of Rishabhadeva and Bharata


Part-15.


There is also a beautiful story, called Puranjana Upakhyana. Puranjana was a king who was attached to the glamours of sense. He was caught up in the lure of maya and everything was beautiful for him, until it was time for him to depart from this world. I am not going into the details of this story now.


Puranjana represents the caught-up individual who is deluded by the Disneyland, as it were, of this world, where we do not know what we are seeing. Everything is shining everywhere. We do not know what we are actually seeing. One thing is here, and the same thing is also somewhere else—like a magic show. There are certain shows where mirrors are positioned in such a way that everything is reflected everywhere. One thing is here, and the same thing is there. Wherever we look, we see only that. And we may hit our head against the mirror, thinking it is a passage.


This world is also like that, where we hit our head …

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-4. Part-14.

4: The Stories of Siva and Sati, and of Rishabhadeva and Bharata


Part-14.

Then the great discourse of Bharata is narrated in the beautiful language of the Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana. The whole world is compared to a forest, where animals like human beings are moving in search of their grub. This is a wild jungle. This entire world is compared to a forest where we can find anything anywhere, and also nothing anywhere. Ignorant, animal-like individuals lose their sense of propriety and do not want to know what the purpose of their existence actually is. They move in this forest like prowling tigers, like predators. This is to be properly understood. Do we think that the world is a pleasure garden? It is no such thing. It is full of thorns, a jungle which is to be feared. It is better that we get free of this jungle as early as possible.
Then the Skandha continues with the description of the whole process of creation—how the body of individuals is formed. The whole creation process is,…

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-4. Part-13.

4: The Stories of Siva and Sati, and of Rishabhadeva and Bharata


Part-13.


When you say ‘Jada, go!’ whom are you referring to? Is it the five elements? Or you are addressing the prana which is in all people and is all-pervading, and incidentally happens to be animating this individual body also? Or, are you calling the mind Jada? It is a part of the cosmic mind. Your appellation does not apply to anyone. Are you calling the intellect Jada? It is a part of the cosmic intellect. Are you calling the Atman within Jada? It is a part of the universal Atman. What is the language that you are using? Why did you utter these words? Whatever you said is empty words. Under the impression that you are scolding me, you have done nothing except blabber something in nonsensical words. Do you understand what you have said?”

When the king heard these words he was surprised, and understood that this was not an ordinary person. He came down from the palanquin, prostrated himself, and said, “O great sadhu…

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-4. Part-12.

4: The Stories of Siva and Sati, and of Rishabhadeva and Bharata :


Part-12.


One day Rahugana, the king of the country, was passing that way on a palanquin carried by attendants. They wanted one more man to carry it and, seeing Bharata sitting there, said, “Come on. Will you help us?”

Bharata did not say anything.

They got angry and said, “Carry the palanquin!”

Bharata did not utter one word. He had not uttered one word in his entire life, and would not say anything. Whatever happens, let it happen.

They put the palanquin on his shoulder and said, “Carry! Go!”

He carried it, but he was not interested. He walked slowly, while the others were moving fast.

The king asked the palanquin bearers, “Why are you walking like this? Have you no strength? Move!”

The others replied, “We are not doing anything wrong. We are walking properly. But this new fellow is unable to walk. He is lethargic, and is moving like an ant.”

The king said, “Oh, Jada! Have you no sense? I am the king. I will hit you …

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-4. Part-11.

4: The Stories of Siva and Sati, and of Rishabhadeva and Bharata :


Part-11.


They said, “Go! Do some work,” but he would not do any work either.

“Okay, at least tend the cattle. Go! Graze the cows,” they said.

He took the cattle to graze, and allowed them to go into other people’s fields and eat up all their crops. People were annoyed, and wondered what was wrong with him.

Then they said, “Don’t do anything. Go and sit there. Idiot! Don’t do anything.”

But though Bharata would not utter a word, he looked very robust. He was filled with energy, but he did not want to use that energy because of fear of attachment. He had learned his lesson. So he did not want to say anything to anybody, and just kept quiet.
Some dacoits who worshipped Kali—Bhadrakali—were looking for a human being to offer in sacrifice. They searched for a hefty, strong person, and they somehow found Bharata sitting quietly without saying anything.

“Come on,” they said.

He did not utter one word, and allowed them to dra…

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-4. Part-10.

4: The Stories of Siva and Sati, and of Rishabhadeva and Bharata :


Part-10.


This law operated even on the great ascetic Bharata. As a Sankhya sutra warns us, thinking of anything which is not contributory to spiritual practice, or sadhana, results in bondage, as in the case of Bharata. Attachment sneaks into our mind without our knowledge, like a serpent entering into a hole without our knowing that it has entered. The power of the mind, which is filled with desire, finds all sorts of excuses to see that its longings are fulfilled one way or the other. It is like a thief or a dacoit who knows every way of fulfilling his wish. Hence, because of this law of compensation according to the intensity of thought, Bharata, due to his attachment to the baby deer, was born as a deer.

But due to the tapasya that he performed, in his deer life he remembered what had happened. He was not born ignorant of the past, as in the case of all people. The deer knew that it had become a deer due to some m…

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-4. Part-9.

4: The Stories of Siva and Sati, and of Rishabhadeva and Bharata :


Part-9.


One day an incident occurred. There was the roar of a lion, and all the deer in the forest ran helter-skelter in fear. A pregnant deer jumped across a stream, and due to that frightened jump, she dropped her baby in the water. Bharata saw this, as he had come to take a bath in the stream. It was a little fawn. Anybody who saw it would take pity on it. He took it, tenderly caressed it, and loved it because it was such a tiny, simple, innocent living being. But it so happened that his attention grew more and more towards this little deer. Whenever it was absent or not visible nearby, Bharata would worry about what had happened to it, that some animal may devour it. So often and so intensely did the thought of this little deer occupy him day in and day out that, unfortunately, when he departed from the body, his last thought was of the deer. Due to this concentration on the deer at the time of his death, Bharata …

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-4. Part-8.

4: The Stories of Siva and Sati, and of Rishabhadeva and Bharata :


Part-8.


The highlighting katha in this Skandha is the stories of Rishabhadeva and Bharata. Rishabhadeva was a king who abdicated his throne and became an ascetic in the forest. The Jainas consider Rishabhadeva as their first Tirthankara because he lived like an utter renunciate who would not even wear clothes, which is the description of a Tirthankara in Jain literature. Digambara was the behaviour of this Rishabhadeva. 
Such was his austerity, such was the tejas that emanated from his person, such was the energy that was in his personality, that it is said that wherever he eased himself, that part of the earth would become gold. Wherever he went, people would run after him to find gold, and so he would hide himself. The fragrance of jasmine would emanate from his body, extending to distances of several miles, and wherever people smelled jasmine, they felt that Rishabhadeva was somewhere nearby. Such was his austerity…

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-4. Part-7.

4: The Stories of Siva and Sati, and of Rishabhadeva and Bharata :


Part-7.


Sri Krishna said, “You are a blessed man to have that vision. It was Bhagavan Sankara himself, invisibly moving in the battlefield to help you. Otherwise, even with all your archery, with all your might and mane, with all your knowledge and power, do you believe that you can face people like Bhishma, Drona and Karna? They are all a hundred times stronger than you. Siva, in his compassion, came uninvited to bless you because of your goodness. He did not engage in battle, and did not come to wage war with the Kurus, but his very presence was enough to paralyse the strength of all the Kurus.

The odour emanating from his body was enough to cow down everybody and make them lose all their strength. Such is the glory of Siva, the great Sankara Bhagavan; and you had his darshan. Blessed you are, Arjuna! He is Ashutosh—immediately pleased. Ask, and it is given immediately. You did not call him, but he knew that you req…

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-4. Part-6.

4: The Stories of Siva and Sati, and of Rishabhadeva and Bharata :


Part-6.



Then the gods, including Brahma and Vishnu, went to Siva. Vishnu greeted Siva and said, “Calm down. Please pardon this man Daksha. His behaviour was due to ignorance, and you should not punish an ignorant person. Calm down. Bless him. Let him be allowed to continue his yajna. After all, he is a foolish person, and are you going to be so enraged at the foolishness of this man?”


Then Lord Siva calmed down. But how could the yajna continue when Daksha’s head had gone? So a goat’s head was brought and fixed on Daksha, and he was enlivened to the person that he was. He immediately realised his mistake and prostrated—sashtanga namaskaram—before Lord Siva, and chanted the Rudra mantra, Namakam and Chamakam. Some people humorously say the mantra was made by uttering the sounds cha me, cha me, because goats make that sound. The yajna was completed. Brahma, Vishnu and Siva blessed the yajna, and everything went on well.


A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-4. Part-5.

4: The Stories of Siva and Sati, and of Rishabhadeva and Bharata :



Part-5.


News reached Lord Siva. He could have opened his third eye and burnt everybody if he wanted, but he had something else in his mind.

He pulled a hair from his head and struck it on the ground. A fierce giant rose up.

“Order, master!” said the giant.

“Go and destroy the yajna of Daksha,” said Siva.

With the fierce retinue of Rudra, this giant called Virabhadra rushed to the sacrificial area of Daksha where all were seated, and when this fierce onrush of militant demoniacal forces entered the yajna, the ritviks, the priests performing the yajna, were frightened. They immediately invoked a counterforce from the fire, which rose up by the millions and attacked Rudra’s retinue. There was a tussle between the two forces, but suddenly Virabhadra overcame all the opposition and severed the head of Daksha.

Rudra came to know all this. He was mad with rage. He ran, hugging the body of Sati, and rolled all over like a cra…

A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-4. Part-4.

4: The Stories of Siva and Sati, and of Rishabhadeva and Bharata :



Part-4.



With great expectations of glory before her, she went to the yajna and stood at the gate. She expected someone to come and receive her, but nobody looked at her. Daksha gave scarce regard for her, and for fear of Daksha, no other god would utter a word. Of course, her mother and associates came and hugged her, but she rejected their greeting, perhaps because her father was not concerned with her. She looked here and there.


“What is happening? How is it that no one is receiving me?” Sati thought. Then she remembered the words of Siva. “I disregarded him, and came here. Now neither can I stand here, nor can I go back to him shamefacedly.” She expected somebody to come. Nobody came. Time passed like this, and the yajna was going on. The gods turned their backs to her. It was a very serious situation.
Sati stood up, and loudly proclaimed in a ferocious language, “Due to the impropriety of this yajna where the grea…