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Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Answers For   

Scriptures And Baba

BHAGAVATHAM

Q256)  Swami! After listening to your divine discourses and sweet conversations, we realise that what we heard till now from other sources were distorted versions, misrepresentations, and wrong interpretations of facts concerning Lord Sri Krishna. You reveal so many inner secrets and subtleties. We pray to you to tell us some more details about our Lord Krishna?

Bhagawan: The divine miracles of Krishna are most wonderful, mysterious and inscrutable. Each of them has a meaning and a message, conveys an ideal to uphold, and is full of nondual and absolute bliss.

You know how His foster mother, Yasoda, fondled and caressed Krishna . All the womenfolk from the neighborhood complained of His stealthily snatching away butter from their homes. Yasoda said to Him, "Oh Krishna! Why do you eat secretly from other people's homes? See! How they are complaining? Don't you like the butter in our home? Why don't you eat our own homemade butter? How is it that you find the butter of other houses tastier than ours?" Krishna said, "Mother! I never went anywhere. I never ate any butter from anybody's house. You look into my mouth and smell it, if I have eaten any". While he was talking like a tiny tot in all innocence, Mother Yasoda was lost in a state of bliss with beatific smiles beaming on her face. One day she couldn't control her anger on listening to the complaints against him. So, she decided tie him up to a pole. But, is it ever possible for you or anybody else to bind God? `She was frantically searching for Krishna all in vain. She noticed the footprints of Krishna with curds and butter on them. Then she decided to follow the footprints and ultimately caught hold of Him. Here is an important point for all of you to carefully note. Yasoda could trace Krishna by following His footprints. Similarly, you can be close to God if only, you follow the path of His divine command. So, I keep telling my students, "My life is My message." Repeatedly I also tell them, "Follow the master, your God. You can reach God through love as He is love." This was the message of Krishna .

One day in an attempt to catch Krishna , Yasoda was holding butter in one hand and a stick in the other, hiding it behind her back so that Krishna would come near her drawn by the butter giving her a chance to beat him with the stick. Similarly, I have in one hand the butter of education offered in our institutions and a stick of vigorous training in the other: As they come here for education, I train them to become the ideal youth of our society. This is my Master plan.

One day Krishna noticed a woman drawing water from a well. She filled up two pots and was trying to carry them on her head, one on top of the other: She was finding it difficult to balance one pot above the other all by herself. She said to Krishna , " Krishna ! Will you please help me? I'll lift one pot myself and place it on my head and you please put the other one on top of it. Then it will be easy for me to carry the water-pots and go home from here." Krishna said, "No, I won't do it". The woman, however, managed with great difficulty to help herself and returned home. She saw Krishna standing there willing to help her. She said, "What, Krishna ! When I asked you a few minutes ago to help me in putting these pots on my head to bring them home, you did not oblige me. Now, without my asking you for help, you are ready to help me. Well, I don't understand you." Then Krishna replied, "Look! I don't put loads of burden on anybody at anytime. I will relieve you of the heavy weight of the load you are bearing now and make you feel light. Do you understand me?" From this illustration you can understand the secret of divinity that helps you to get relief from your burdens." That's why I say, "Come here with head-loads of problems, difficulties and anxieties. Unload them here at My feet. Be light and go back with Ananda."

This is how every episode in the Bhagavatham conveys a message. Though Sage Vyasa composed as many as eighteen Puranas and the celebrated epic Mahabharata, besides compiling all the Vedas, he had no peace of mind until he wrote the Bhagavatham as advised by Sage Narada. Bhagavatham teaches man the nine paths of devotion. We should read and listen to the various stories narrated in this immortal book.

In fact, the very word `Bhagavatham' has an inner meaning; `Bh', denotes `Bhakti', 'Ga' denotes `Jnana', or wisdom, 'Va' denotes 'vairagya' or renunciation, "ta' denotes' 'tattva' or Divine principle, 'Mu' denotes `Mukti' or liberation.

Bhagavatham is not merely Bhagavad Katha, story of God. It means `Bhagavatham' (Telugu) meaning, `We shall become good'. You should know its inner meaning; conduct yourselves accordingly, and work for your liberation.

Q257)  Swami! Bhagavatham, besides extolling God and His divinity, also deals with the greatness and nobility of His devotees Watching devotees shedding tears in ecstasy on listening to your discourses on Bhagavatham has been our experience. Would you kindly tell us, Bhagawan, the essence and the main principles embodied in this text to be followed by both youngsters and us adults, for our benefit?

Bhagawan: There is always an intimate relationship between God and His devotees. God makes His devotees realise and experience His omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence through His divine miracles. The Divine and the Devotee are interdependent and one is meaningless without the other. Therefore, Bhagavatham, while praising the glory of God, also speaks of the devotion, the spirit of surrender, the nature of the spiritual path and the sense of detachment of the devotees also.

Bhagavatham proposes the doctrine of devotion with which action must be performed, thereby leading to wisdom. No intermediary can stand between God and the devotee. They are directly connected with each other. It is only your devotion that makes God confer grace on you. It can also be said that the culture of Bharat has these three main components, Bhakta, Bhagawan and Bhagavatham. God is the only refuge of a devotee. He is his wealth, life and everything.

The young boy Dhruva wanted to sit in the lap of his father. But his stepmother did not allow him to do so. He returned home heavy hearted and after informing his mother, decided to go to a forest and do intense penance. In the thick forest, unmindful of the heat, cold and rain, he undertook penance. God was pleased with him and manifested Himself before him saying that He would grant any boon he wanted. Dhruva then said, "Swami! I want you!" God responded thus: "Dhruva! You wanted one thing for which you did all this penance and now you are asking for another thing. Initially you wanted the boon to be granted to you so that it would entitle you to sit in the lap of your father. But, now you say a different thing, that you want Me. Have you not heard that your thought, word and deed should be one and the same manasyekam , vacasyekam , karman yekam mahatmanam. A noble man should see that there is harmony in thought, word and deed. First, get your desire fulfilled. Rule your kingdom for some period of time and discharge your duties in the years to come. Finally, I bless you such that everybody will remember you after you leave the earthly scene. You will remain the only glittering star eternally fixed in its own home in the sky." This is what is meant by "The proper study of mankind is man".

Prahlada, in spite of being thrown down from a mountaintop into a raging fire, or made to drink deadly poison, or trampled under the feet of a huge elephant, or drowned in a turbulent ocean, did not even for a short while stop chanting God's name. He went on singing His glory unceasingly. He did not pay heed to the teachings of his gurus, Chanda and Amarka. He even went a step further when he said to his father, "You could conquer the whole world. You could control the movement of stars and planets, the sun and the moon and all others. You could control all the five elements, but you couldn't conquer your inner foes!" When his father, Hiranyakasipu asked him where God was, he said, "You don't doubt his presence at any point of time anywhere in the universe. God is everywhere!" Hiranyakasipu asked, “Prahlada! Is your God present in this pillar?" Prahlada replied, "Yes." When Hiranyakasipu broke the pillar, as you all know, from there sprang up the Lord in the avatar of Narasimha.

Here you should know the inner meaning of this momentous event. A pillar is an upadhi, a vesture or body. `Breaking down the pillar' means `giving up the body-attachment'. So long as you have the body attachment, you will be full of ego, pride, possessiveness, jealousy, etc., which will blind you to the omnipresent Divinity. Prahlada's unconditional love of and surrender to God was total.

Gajendra, the king of elephants, was caught by a crocodile, and couldn't come out of the river. Gajendra struggled and exerted all his strength to come out of the jaws of the crocodile, but without any success. He came ultimately to a stage when he was left with no strength and energy of his own to continue the struggle. He cried out in a fervently prayerful voice to Govinda, his savior, "Oh God! You are my only refuge, my only succor. I don't know anyone and you alone can save me from this inextricable predicament. Who else can come at this hour to my rescue? Oh God! Save me, save me, save me!" It was then that he was saved from the jaws of the crocodile.

You should know the inner meaning of this whole episode. The river is your life. The crocodile represents your desires and sense-indulgence. Gajendra is the jiva, individual. He initially caught hold of a tree tightly with his trunk and prayed. God did not respond. It was only when he loosened the grip and lifted the trunk upward and prayed to God whole-heartedly for his rescue that God saved him. You should take this episode as another instance of unconditional devotion or surrender. Sri Mahavishnu, the Lord sending his wheel called Sudarshana killed the crocodile and saved Gajendra. 'Su' means `Good' and `Darshan' means `looks of grace' (compassion). So, it is His grace that saves you and not your strength, power, wealth, etc. God reacts only when you surrender to Him absolutely.

Similar was the situation of Draupadi when she was humiliated and sought to be disrobed in the open court. She held her sari tightly with one hand and prayed to God, trying to save and protect her modesty. God did not react. It was only when she joined both her hands in Namaskar later that Krishna saved her.

It means that the ten fingers of both her hands were brought together when she was praying to Krishna . The jnanendriyas, five senses of perception and the karmendriyas, five senses of action represented by the five fingers of each hand have to be surrendered to God by joining both the hands while we pray to God. God never favours partnership. He never accepts part-time devotion. A devotee should think of God and sing His glory everywhere all along and not merely when he is in distress and difficulties. A child will never leave its mother alone even if she beats it. It hugs its mother all the more strongly when it is beaten. Similarly, there is every need for you to cling to God and grow ever more in faith when you face difficulties. Man's adversity is God's proximity. Man's calamity is God's opportunity. You are not at all a devotee if you run away from God or lose faith in Him because of the difficulties you encounter in life. Like this, the entire Bhagavatham is full of such episodes elucidating the sincerity, steadfastness, unflinching faith, total surrender and deep devotion of certain devotees of outstanding stature while at the same time glorifying and extolling the grandeur, love and compassion of God.

Q258)  Swami! Sage Vyasa composed both the Bhagavatham and the Brahma Sutras. Which is superior to the other?

Bhagawan: Look! I will give an example from your own college students. You are studying B.Sc. here. You opted for the Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry group. Of these three, which one is superior to the other two? To get the degree you must necessarily study all the three subjects, should you not? Similarly, you should study the Bhagavatham for Bhakti (devotion) and Brahma Sutras for Jnaana, wisdom. Both Jnaana and Bhakti are equally important.

Q259)  Swami! There are two great epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata besides the eighteen Puranas. The Puranas deal with various appellations and attributes of God in story form, which constitute a major part of Indian mythology. They convey to the entire humanity a universal message on all aspects of life. Kindly tell us the main principles embodied there in for us to practice in our daily life.

Bhagawan: Sage Vyasa who composed all the eighteen Puranas conveyed their essence in two sentences. ‘Paropakarah punyaya' and ‘Papaya parapidanam.’  It is also said, `Paropakarardham  idam  sariam,’ the body is not given just to eat, sleep, drink and die. The body is not given to us just to be selfish. God has blessed you with a body to serve others. After all, what is there to be so attached to and possessive about this body? It is nothing but horribly foul and dirty faecal matter, urine and blood. It is purely temporary and with this body do you want to get everlasting results? How is it possible? How can you experience eternal bliss with the body?

Youth passes off like melting ice, clouds and mist. So, the body is like a water bubble. It is designed and

gifted to render service to the poor and needy and definitely not merely for food and drink, because birds and beasts, flies and insects also secure food and drink. What is so extra-ordinary about you? It is enough if you don't harm anyone else. It is the greatest help you can do. Vyasa said, serving others is punyam, or merit. It means you shouldn't hurt anyone by thought, word and deed. Then what is papam, sin? Harming others in anyway is sin.

There is another meaning to this Paropakarah punyaya (the ordinary interpretation being service to others). Param means God. Upa means near and karah means joining. Paropakarah means coming close to God. Therefore, the greatest help you can do is to take others close to God and yourself coming close to God. This is possible through good deeds and good thoughts. Then the second statement papayapare padanam (in the ordinary sense it means that harming others is sin) also has another meaning. Param = God, Pida = One God viewed as many. The sum and substance of the statement is that it is a sin to think of one God as many. It amounts to thinking of plurality or multiplicity in the divinity.

There is only one Atma spirit/soul in everyone. But if you fragment it into pieces and experience diversity, it is a sin. I very often tell my students that the essence of all the eighteen epics is – Parpakarah  punyaya, "Hurt Never Help ever ` papayapare padanam'. These two are enough for practice in your daily life, and achieving liberation.

Q260)  Swami! How should we view the Epics and Puranas in our spiritual path and spiritual life?

Bhagawan: Our epics and Puranas teach us many aspects of life. They speak of human values, refer to the divinity within you, and teach you the way to lead an ideal life, show you the purpose and goal of life and explain in clear terms through many anecdotes the culture of Bharat. They also clearly indicate the fall of man if he doesn't follow dharma or the basic human values. They emphasise the need to follow and uphold dharma for both the individual good and the social. They explain vividly your true nature, which is Atma itself. But today, we have people who wrongly interpret them, give distorted versions and not their real inner significance. So, none of you is taking advantage of the teachings of our epics and Puranas.

In fact the epics are the records of our, history and culture. They are the lights of wisdom and spiritual awakening. They connect the Jiva, individual with the Deva, divine. Each text is a bridge for traveling from the shore of this world to the other shore of God . Each text shows how God incarnated in human form and demonstrated to the entire mankind how life could be led in an ideal way, Himself being the director and playing the roles perfectly.

For example, in Maharshi Valmiki's epic, the Ramayana, Lord Rama knew full well that he was God. Sages like Vasishtha, and Bharadvaja knew that Lord Rama was the incarnation of God Vishnu. But he behaved all through the Ramayana like a human being. He cried for Sita because he could not bear separation from her. The Ramayana teaches how man should behave as a son; a brother, a husband and a ruler. Its teachings also include certain norms regarding friendship and teacher-student relationship. Truth, dharma, obeying father's command and the principle of monogamy are the lessons of the Ramayana. This is the very objective of the Ramayana and the secret behind God's incarnation as Rama. The text teaches some of the fundamental and timeless human values to the entire race of mankind. The Ramayana shows how a person like Ravana with all his excellence in scholarship and penance, with his absolute command over his people and the splendor of his wealth ruined himself as he fell a prey to Kama . This is the lesson of his life.

Then the Bhagavatham show's distinctly how anger ruins Atma. A person loses his self-respect and wealth and spoils all his tasks on hand because of his hot temper. He becomes physically weak and mentally agitated due to anger. Characters like Kamsa, Sisupala, Jarasandha, and Dantavaktra lost their value, name and life due to anger. They developed hatred towards God and being overpowered by their own ego, they lost their mental balance and consequently faced miserable death.

The other epic composed by Vyasa, is the Mahabharata. The Kauravas were hundred in number. They had physical prowess, large manpower, kingdom and whole divisions of army and intelligence. But what happened to them at the end? Not even one of the hundred survived the battle of Kurukshetra. They left behind their bereaved and bewailing parents. There was none left to perform their funeral rites. What a pitiable state of things it is! Why! At the root, it was greed that was responsible for such a great misfortune. The Kauravas refused to give even half the kingdom that by right belonged to the Pandavas. Later on, they refused to give even five villages to the five brothers. This was the height of their greed. The Kauravas made repeated attempt to kill the Pandavas. That was the intensity of their greed.

While the Ramayana teaches how dangerous Kama , desire and anger are, the Mahabharata shows how total destruction is the result of greed. One may have umpteen virtues and merits, yet just one evil like desire or anger or greed is enough to bring about one's fall as has been narrated in our epics. You have to draw lessons out of the episodes narrated in the epics and Puranas or the Itihasas of our land.

Source: SATYOPANISAD VOL - II [Part-III, Bhagavatham] by Anil Kumar Kamaraja

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