Sage Vishwamitra Narrates Stories to Sri Rama | May 1, 2021 | Bala Kandam Episode 16

Highlights from this discourse:

Sri Swamiji continues Bala Kandam, narrating interesting stories that Vishwamitra tells Sri Rama. While doing this, he also speaks of:

– All the things that accrue merit (puNya) simply by thinking of them 

– Sri Mahaperiyava asking to listen to the names of those who donated even a single rupee towards Vedas.

– King Harsha’s beautiful simile while describing how Damayanti chose the real Nala in her svayamvara (a favorite sloka of Sri Mahaperiyava’s)

– What it means to follow vrathas sincerely, and the greatness of those who follow vrathas sincerely.

– Reminiscing how Mahaperiyava followed vrathas sincerely, how he would fast, and how he gave up drinking even milk on Ekadasi day.

– Story of Kushanabha and his daughters (Sage Vishwamitra’s lineage)

– What is the true ornament for both women and men? Patience. What is true donation? kshamA dAnam. What is true dharma? Being patient is dharma.

– Incident from Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s life where he shows Ma Devaki how perseverance is important in sadhana; that a beautiful final state will emerge only after the sadhak undergoes a lot of confusion.

– The divine state and such physical experiences are only for Mahans. Only they can handle such experiences.

– Sri Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni’s suffering and Sri Ramana Maharshi’s blessing

– Mathur Babu’s desire for samadhi and his subsequent realisation that such experiences are only for great masters like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa!

– How we should ask questions from Mahapurushas; how we should ask about the kshetras and sthala puranas; how we should visit kshetras and reminisce Bhagavan’s leelas there… Rama and other mahans show us all this.

– How is it that Ganga is said to flow in the heavens (from Trivikrama Bhagavan’s foot), and she is also said to be Himavan’s daughter?

– Why is Manmatha called Kaman? Because he is quite ‘common’!!

– Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but can only be transformed from one form to another — see an example of this law of physics in the story of Lord Subrahmanya’s birth

– The philosophy behind Subrahmanya and the child god Ganapati, and why he broke off his tusk

– Two special Adi Shankara jayanthis celebrated by Mahaperiyava

– All about the philosophy behind snakes in our religion, and Sri Adi Shankara’s bhujanga meter

– Sri Arunagirinathar’s beautiful Tiruppugazh in praise of Lord Muruga

– The story of Ganga Devi’s descent to earth

Read the translated transcript of the entire discourse below.

Listen to this Bala Kandam Episode 15 discourse (Tamil with English subtitles) on Global Organisation for Divinity Facebook page:

Complete transcript of Sri Swamiji’s live online Srimad Ramayana discourse – Bala Kandam Episode #16

Of all the incarnations of the Lord, His incarnation as Sri Rama is an incarnation that can be understood by all. We have been repeating this. In our ancient/eternal religion, it is not deemed that meditating on the Lord alone will accrue merits (punya). Nor is devotion to Lord alone considered as conducive to accruing merits. Remembering the many holy rivers that exist is also deemed as conducive to accruing merits. Not just holy rivers, remembering holy places/pilgrim spots is also conducive to accruing merits. Not just remembering holy places,if there are people who have accrued a lot of merits, remembering such great souls is also conducive to accruing merits.

Thinking of holy trees also leads to accruing merits, thinking of holy birds also leads to accruing merits, thinking of chaste women also leads to accruing merits, remembering ascetic souls who are rich in penance also leads to accruing merits, seeing mahans (realised souls), their glance falling upon us, touching them, talking to them, staying near them, all lead to accruing merits. touching them, talking to them, staying near them, all lead to accruing merits. Like this, each one of such actions are capable of bestowing merits on us.

Mahaperiyava had established an organization for protecting the Vedas, and through that he established Veda patashalas in many places. He begged many parents and made their kids join these patashalas. Everyday before sleeping he would ask what was collection for that day in the Veda Rakshana Nidhi Trust. It should be read out to him. Once, the trustee of the trust had a long paper in his hand and was reading out to him. He read about 10 names stating how much each had donated, and said that’s it. Mahaperiyava asked, “The paper looks long. But you read out only a few names. Why did you not read the names of the others?” The trustee replied, “The others are those who merely donated a rupee or two.” Mahaperiyava said, “Well! If they have donated one or two rupees for Vedas, they are great meritorious souls! If I hear their names I will accrue merits! You are preventing me from attaining that merit!” Even thinking of those who do dharma will lead to merit.

So, in Ramayana, Rama is going to ask about the stories of Vishwamitra’s ancestry, the story of Skanda, the story of Ganga, etc. We don’t have to think that this is unrelated to Ramayana. To think of holy persons, holy places, holy rivers, ancestry of mahans is itself a great merit. When I was small child, the elders of the house, as soon as I wake up, used to make me stand before the Lord, make me join my palms and teach kArkoTakasya nAgasya damayantyAha naLasya cha
rituparNasya rAjarshEhE kIrtanam kalinAshanam

They used to teach this sloka to the kids. To think of Karkotaka, Nala and Rituparna in the morning itself will release us from the sins caused due to Kali. Similarly, when we wake up from our bed, ahalyA draupadI kuntI tArA manDodarI tathA
panchakanyA smarEnnityam mahApAtakanAshanam. This is the list of chaste women who should be remembered in the morning as soon as we wake up.

We are asked to remember Nala. What is special about Nala? puNyashlOkO nalO rAjA puNyashlOkO yudhishTiraha
puNyashlOkO vidEhashcha puNyashlOkO janArdanaha

They are all called ‘puNyashloKa’. What does that mean? It means the very thought of them will give us merits. The king Harsha only wrote the story of Nala Damayanti. The name of the story is Naishadam. Though written by a king, Naishadam is a very difficult text. If one has read Naishadam well and understood it, he can be called a great scholar. So there is a popular statement amongst scholars which says, “Naishadam parama oushadam”. It is considered a medicine for scholars.

There is a shloka, a particular incident, which Mahaperiyava likes a lot. A swayamvara is about to happen for Damayanti. When Damayanti is about to have swayamvara, even Devas desire to marry Damayanti it seems! They have all come there. And the news has leaked out! That though this is a swayamvara, Damayanti shall place the garland only on Nala. So all the Devas, who were capable of taking any form of their will, took the form of Nala, and are sitting in the Swayamvara hall. Damayanti, who had the garland in her hand, just like someone who is a great scholar, who has samskara, after seeing the essence of all the religions and philosophies, concludes Advaita philosophy as the right one, Damayanti saw all of them and garlanded the real Nala. This is Harsha’s shloka. Mahaperiyava has given a lecture on this. Such a charitram is Nala’s charitram. Simply remembering punya purushas like Nala is very auspicious.

The yagna was completed in Siddhashrama. Once the yagna was completed, Vishwamitra sets out from there. When he leaves, what happens is… mriga pakshigaNAcha – All the animals and birds that resided permanently in Siddhashrama, all cry and follow Vishwamitra mahAtmAnam vishvAmitram… He then gently strokes all those birds and animals and tells them “You all go back to your ashrama and live happily.” “You don’t need to come with me,” saying thus, he, Vishwamitra consoles them and sends them back. A number of Vedic pandits and riwiks had come to Siddhashrama to perform the yagna, they all climbed aboard some carts. Sage Vishwamitra also set out.

They leave and come to the banks of a river. When they come to the riverbank, they see a beautiful city. The large city looks beautiful. Whenever he sees a river or a forest or a city, Sri Rama would immediately look at Vishwamitra and question him about it. Similarly, on seeing this city, he asks, “Whose city and kingdom is this? It looks very affluent!” “I would like to learn more about this kingdom.” As soon as Sri Rama said this, Sage Vishwamitra starts to speak.

Lord Brahma had a mind-born son called Kusha. Kusha was a dharmatma and was one who practiced many vrathas. He practiced penance and was a great tapasvi. Here Vishwamitra separates his three qualities of being one who practiced vrathas, a dharmatma and a tapasvi. Now there is something called sAmAnya dharma, there is bhAgavata dharma, there is grihastha dharma, there is moksha dharma, there is stree dharma, there is rAja dharma. A dharmatma is one who practices the dharma that is prescribed for his ashrama or stage in life. vratham means living like Mahaperiyava. Bathing early in the morning, then in the afternoon, then in the evening… if following a particular vratha on a particular day is very good, then practicing that on that day… then if it is good to practice another vratha during an auspicious time, then following that vratha at that time, if certain japas have to be performed at another auspicious time, then practicing those japas at that time… not only that, a king was called Satyavratha because he had satya (truth) itself as a vratha; a king was called Priyavratha because he had priyam (affection) as his vratha. Taking up as many vrathas as possible in life and practicing them sincerely and continuously… such is a person who follows vratha.

In Mahabharata, the greatness of such people who follow vratha is what is talked about for the most part. If today is the auspicious time of eclipse, then sticking by the rule that one should not eat for this duration of time before the eclipse, such people will not eat. As soon as the eclipse begins, a bath needs to be taken. They will do it properly according to the prescribed method. A bath has to be taken during the eclipse. They will do it as prescribed. A bath has to be taken after the eclipse ends. They will do it as prescribed. If all that has to be done on the banks of a holy river. They will do it as prescribed. If it has to be done in the sea. They will do it as prescribed. During the auspicious time of the eclipse, one should give something in charity, according to one’s means. They will do it as prescribed. If certain mantras need to be chanted during the auspicious eclipse time, they will do it as prescribed. If certain vastrams (clothes) need to be soaked, they will do it as prescribed. Above all this, they will do it all sincerely and soulfully without it being mere pomp and show. They will not do it for others to see, or to appreciate, or with a feeling that oh I have to do all this.

Like this, if it is another auspicious time – mahOdaya puNyakAla – then what vrathas need to be practiced on that day? If it is chitrA pournami puNyakAlA then what vrathas need to be practiced on that day? If today is Naga panchami, then what vrathas need to be practiced on that day? If today is Garuda panchami, then what vrathas need to be practiced today? If today is pournami, then what vrathas need to be practiced? If today is ekadasi, then if one should not sleep until midnight, then they will not sleep at all. If one has to stay awake and do sankirtanam then they will do sankirtanam. On ekadasi it is stipulated that parayanam of certain Veda mantras needs to be performed, so they will do parayanam of those. On dasami, if one has to eat only in the morning, they will do just that, and on dasami night it is stipulated that one must stay awake all night long, so one needs to stay awake until at least midnight and perform Nama sankirtanam… Like this, they will follow each and every vratha in the way that it is stipulated – Ekadasi vratha, Pournami vratha, Grahana vratha, They will follow each vratha during the time that it is supposed to be done. If it is Sravana Dwadasi, then one needs to fast on Sravana Dwadasi also. To be like that, one needs to follow each vratha according to how it is prescribed, without compromising even a little bit and sticking with the niyama, and that too sincerely, without it being a show or for anybody else to see.

Again we have to speak only about Mahaperiyava here. Sometimes when pradosham comes, the day before pradosham would be ekadasi, and this would be followed by Shravana Dwadasi or Shivaratri. Pradosham, Shivaratri, then Shravana Dwadasi. When such days come together, he will continue fast for three days. Completely without food. Mahaperiyava would crawl from his mena… The quantity he eats itself is usually very small.. without eating that also, he fasted. How do they follow these rules? When Periyava was the pontiff, because he had to perform pujas, he would drink milk alone (on fasting days). Generally, he wouldn’t partake milk in the mornings but would do so after sunset only. That day, there was some work in the Mutt and so a person was doing some repair work. On seeing him, Periyava said, “We don’t know whether he ate anything, so give him some milk to drink.” The moment he was offered milk, that person said, “I won’t eat today.” So Periyava asked, “Why?” He replied, “Ekadasi.” Periyava’s face withered. “When a person working in 10 different places is fasting strictly (shuddha upavasa) then being a pontiff, how can I have milk?” (Saying so) he gave up drinking milk also, from that day onwards.

This way, [there are] people who practice severe vrathas, who walk the path of dharma, who control their senses and do penance. So he talks about them separately here. While talking about Kusha, [He was a] dharmatma, one who practiced vrathas, and one who had done penance. What did he do? He married a princess of Vidarbha kingdom. He begets 4 children – Kushamba, Kushanabha, Asurtarajas and Vasu. Now, Vishwamitra sees Rama and says, That Kushambhan established a city named Koushambhi. Kushanabha established a city named Mahodaya. Asurtarajas founded a city named Dharmaranya. Vasu established a city named Girivrajam. This city that we are in now is that same city (Girivrajam). This Girivraja city is also known as Vasumati. Do you know why it is called Girivrajam, O Rama, are able to understand? See, the 5 large mountains. As this city is surrounded by 5 large mountains, it has a name – Vasumati and another name is Girivrajam. And in between the mountains of Girivraja, do you see a river flowing? The river is called Sumagadhi. Do you see how it comes gushing between these five mountains? How wonderful it looks! Crops have flourished, there are huge trees, they have surplus water, birds and animals are happy. This way, he showed the beauty (of the place) to Rama. Rama listened to these stories by acknowledging.

Then, Kushanabha married a girl named Ghritachi. He had 100 daughters through Ghritachi. How did these 100 daughters look? They looked like Rati, Menaka and Urvasi. They were that beautiful! Together these girls used to roam in the forests, take baths and play in the river and so on. One day when they were playing so, the Vayu Deva sees them. Vayu Deva thinks, “I have never seen 100 such beautiful girls in Bhuloka.” “May be in Deva loka, in Amaravati city, in Indra’s place, I have seen, but on earth… who are they? Are they Ramba? Urvasi? Tilotama? Menaka? Apsaras girls? Who are they?” For a moment, Vayu deva himself is stunned. Slowly, he approaches the girls and tells them, “I wish to marry you all.” He is a Deva. The girls know that. Despite that all these girls give the same reply, “We will not marry anyone according to our wish. We will only marry the groom that our father chooses.” All of them gave the same reply. He requested them again and again, but they did not pay heed to it, so Vayu got furious and blew hard and strong. Their noses became crooked, ears turned, their hands and legs became distorted.

The girls then came running to their father and told him, “Vayu Deva gave darshan to us. He told us, ‘You 100 girls are beautiful and so I wish to marry all 100 of you.’ To that we all replied in unison that we were not independent and that we would marry only that person whom our father chooses.” Hearing this, Kushanabha became very happy. So what does he tell then? All 100 of you together have given the same reply to Vayu Deva, so with your action our family has attained great pride!”

alankAro hi nArInAm, kshamA hi purushasya vA… Women wear large earrings and other jewelry in their ears, adorn their necks with chains and necklaces. They bedeck themselves with bracelets, rings, anklets, hip chains. They wear jewels on their forehead and head. But here he says that all those are not real ornaments. Patience is the true ornament for women. “porumai enum nagai aNindu perumai koLLA vEnDum pengAL”, says AvvaiyAr. Patience is the real ornament. alankAro hi nArInAm.. Not just for women.. kshamA hi purushasya vA – Don’t we say, “poruthAr bhUmi ALvAr” (one who is patient rules the world).

One who does tasks frantically, without patience will be disliked by the people in the world. Balance is required. In how one conducts oneself, in speech and when taking decisions, what should one do? One must be patient. duskharam tad hi va: kshAntam tridaseshu visheshata: yAdrishI va: kshamA putrya: sarvAsAm abhisheshata: That too, even when Deva questioned you, you did not panic and stayed calm. That is truly commendable. That is why I am telling you this, listen. In charity, the donation of cows is not the highest form of charity in the world. Do you know what a true donation is? kshamA dAnam. Being patient is true giving. kshamA satyam. Being patient is being in truth. kshamA yagnyashcha: You don’t need to perform many yAga like somayAga, vAjapeya yAga. Be patient. putrikA: kshamAyasha:, “O women! O dear daughters! What gives one fame? Patience is the one that gives fame! Patience is what gives one glory (kIrti). kshamA dharma:.

What is dharma? Being patient is dharma. kshamAyAm vishTitam jagat. We are sitting on this earth and talking. What are we doing here (on this earth)? We are sitting and enjoying Bhagavan’s gunas. Some are working. There are so many things happening. We discard waste from our body. We spit. We cremate the dead. We bury the dead. Our sweat falls on this earth. We even blast bombs. Despite all this, what is Bhooma Devi (Mother Earth) doing? (kshamA) She is patient. kshamAyAm vishTitam jagat. This Earth sustains because of patience,” he said. He was very happy seeing his daughters’ action.

There was a maharishi called Chooli. He did hard penance. When mahans do penance, and for saadhakas and for mahapurushas, Bhagavan himself sends a person to accompany them. It is for taking care of them during their sadhana.

For Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa it is only due to Bhagavan’s sankalpa, Hriday was there with him. When doing sadhana, the sadhak will suddenly fall unconscious. They will suddenly wake up and start running. Abruptly they will start laughing. They may become afraid. Their state cannot be understood. In Krishnaji’s (J Krishnamurti’s) charitra, we see that when he was in America, during night time, at a particular time when the serpent power arose, he would be unable to bear it and would become restless. He would hit his head against the wall. Next evening, he would become afraid anticipating the painful experience. What do Mahans do? Just as in childbirth, joy awaits at the end of labor. Similarly, only after intense pain and suffering, Mahans experience the Supreme! Experiencing the divine is that difficult!

In Tiruvannamalai, Yogi Ramsuratkumar lived. And his disciple Ma Devaki, once thought, “I came here to see Bhagavan.” “I came here for the divine experience and to attain the supreme state of liberation (jivan mukti).” “When one attains a Guru, they say the mind attains peace. On the contrary, some incidents happening here are instead disrupting peace of mind.” She had this thought in her mind. That was the time, when work in the Ashram was going on. At that time, Bhagavan Yogi Ramsuratkumar called Ma Devaki and said, “Come here! Let us see how the construction work is progressing.” Saying this, he started walking along with her. Suddenly, a big rod fell down. He exclaimed, “Devaki! Come this way.” Next, there was some welding work going on. Again he exclaimed, “Devaki! Come here.”
Next she said, “Bhagavan here is a thorn!” “Bhagavan, there is a nail!” Completing the tour around the complex became exhausting! They came back and sat feeling relieved. At that time, a model of the ashram was placed in front of them, Ma Devaki told Bhagavan, “The Ashram looks so beautiful, Bhagavan.” He smiled and replied, “Only after all the troubles, the beautiful Ashram shall emerge. Similarly, a sadhaka undergoes a lot of confusion, has several doubts, has many fears and faces plenty of inner turmoil. It need not be the same for all. They overcome all that and finally attain. That is why dheera purushas will persevere and attain. Weak-minded people will leave it midway.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa says his mind is like a wet cloth that has been tightly squeezed. That’s why the nerves of our normal body cannot handle such divine experiences.

I have been telling you about Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni, right? For him, one day, his sushumna nAdi rose up and gave him intense pain and misery. He was not able to handle it. He was even unable to even get up and go see Sri Ramana Maharshi. He was suffering terribly. He informed people who were passing by. What did he tell them? Please tell Bhagavan [Sri Ramana Maharshi] that I am suffering a lot. Please tell Bhagavan [Sri Ramana Maharshi] that the pain is unbearable. As soon as he told them, Bhagavan (Sri Ramana Maharshi) came to his hut. After looking at him for some time, he took his divine hand and placed it on his head. And then, he felt at peace. While leaving, Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi said, “He told me but whom did I tell it to?” At that time, when a bhakta who was nearby asked Sri Ramana, quoting a verse from his work Aksharamanamaalai, “ninneri eritthennai neerAkkidumun nin arul mazhai pozhi aruNAchalA… Is this it? Your experience?” Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi said, “Mmm mmm” and left.

So the divine state that occurs while performing a sAdhanA, is suitable only for Mahans. Why? We don’t even have to go to that extent. When Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa goes into such a deep state of bhAva samAdhi, he would appear extraordinary. How? For some, when Bhagavad bhakti and prema samAdhi happen, their face would appear shining. They won’t be sad. Even when they are in pain, their face would be bright and in a state of bliss, with eyes turned inward. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa would say, “When I had Bhagavad darshan, suddenly I would see Devi in the focus of the room’s light. When I look at the sky, Devi would appear there,” he would say. It can be called as a path of light. neelavAnam thannil thOnDrum niraimadhiyO, sings Oothukadu. There would be a bright path of light and in that we can get darshan of Devatas. When Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa had such a darshan, the blissful state on his face and eyes… Seeing this state, Mathur who was with Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa desired for it as well. Won’t I also get such a bhAva samAdhi sometime in my life? He was adamant. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said, “You don’t need it.” He didn’t listen. “Okay go. I’ll tell Kaali,” said Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Soon after Mathur attained bhAva samAdhi. We need to understand something from this. Did he [Mathur] do any meditation or japa to attain bhAva samAdhi? Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa tells Kaali and She gives it to Mathur – that means, any experience one may have is Guru’s compassion. It is only a matter of Guru’s sankalpa!

All you have to do is to lead life in a way that is in line with your Guru and your upasana deivam, and not create your own path. All of a sudden he prayed to his Guru and he attained bhAva samAdhi. He [Mathur] did not even come for the darshan of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa for 2-3 days. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa sent someone for Mathur. He said, “See how he is doing and come.” He couldn’t even talk. He talked to him through facial expression. Sri Ramakrishna laughed. He immediately told Kaali and the samadhi state disappeared. Mathur came running to Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Then, Mathur told Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, “This is enough. Let all this be with you. We will just see you and be happy. That is enough for us.” “For the past two three days I felt like some ghost was sitting on top of me!”

Because we need eligibility, right? Only when the person is worthy enough, they can handle it. That’s why, what happened was, there is a Maharishi called Chooli. Maharishi Chooli was doing tapas. When Kardama Prajapati was doing tapas, who was looking after him? His wife Devahuti was taking care of his body, right? Here when Chooli was doing tapas, Urmila’s daughter came. Her name was Somada. She was a maha sAdhvI, such a good person. She took such good care of Chooli’s body. Chooli showed compassion towards her. He asked her, “What do you want?” She replied, “You are glowing so much because of your tapas.” “If I can get a son through you, that son will also be a tapasvi like you.” It was only a prEranA, a prArthanA (only a prayer), not a physical connection. As soon as she prayed to the mahatma, she bore a mAnasikaputrA (a mind-born child). His name was Brahmadatta.

The father (Kushanabha) called this Brahmadatta and married him to his hundred kannikas. Soon after what happened? These hundred girls became beautiful like before. Why? The reason being since Brahmadatta was a manasaputra of such a great mahatma, Maharishi Chooli, he had such greatness. Kushanabha noticed this. He had a hundred daughters and he had married them all off. He thought, “I need a putra (son) now.” Immediately, his father, whose name was Kusha, and was Brahma’s manasaputra. He appeared before Kushanabha. and blessed him saying, “You will have a son.” That son was called Gadi.

He went by another name called Kushika. Sage Vishwamitra said, “Gadi is my father,” thus sharing his history. Sri Rama had two things to gain here. Sage Vishwamitra is going to share his own history. Later, Sadananda is going to tell Rama about Sage Vishwamitra’s greatness. Guru [Sage Vishwamitra] himself shared his vamsa. Will Guru talk about his own greatness? That’s why, later Sadananda is going to tell Sri Rama about how Vishwamitra became a tapasvi, how he became a Rajarishi, and then became a Brahmarishi.

Here Vishwamitra says, “His name was Kushika. Since I’m his son, I’m called Kaushika. I had an elder sister. Her name was Satyavati. My father married off Satyavati to a Maharishi called Richika. He [Richika] went to heaven with his mortal body [like Tukaram]. My sister too went with him. And then later because of so much compassion on the world, she is now flowing strongly as a river by the name of Kaushiki or Gomati. I have such love for my sister. I have kept my ashram alongside the banks of the Gomati river. In this Siddhashrama, I wanted to bring you and do a pooja…I wanted to bring you here and do a yaga. Now I shall return to my ashram,” said Vishwamitra.

Rama kept listening to the stories; as he listened, seeing the Ganga flowing nearby, Rama asks, “What is the story of the Ganga?” Rama shows Bhagavata dharma: Bhagavata dharma is always listening to Bhagavat guNas and charitrams of Mahans from a good Guru, on attaining one. Young Rama also keeps listening to the stories. Only on raising such questions will such answers be received; so he keeps listening, doesn’t he?

While looking into Mahaprabhus’s charitram also during his yatras, if he happened to visit a small temple, looking at the person there he would ask, “What is the sthala purana of this place?” At once they would narrate that charitram. When he moves to the next holy place he would ask, “Sripada! What is the charitram of this Bhubaneshwar?” And they would narrate. “Sripada! What is the charitram of this Sakshigopala?” And they would narrate it. Whenever we go to any holy place or holy river or any sannidhi, we must sit there and reminisce about the glory of that place, river, murthy, etc. If we go on a pilgrimage to Brindavan then if we go to Vamsi vatam, we should sit there and think how Bhagavan played the flute, and all that happened at that place. If we go to Kesi Ghat, what happened there? Where did Brahma mohanam occur? It’s fine reading about the greatness of all this here; but should we not enjoy them while visiting those places? One should enjoy them. Only if we go with those who enjoy these will it turn out to be our fortune. Is that not so?

Once Sri Sri Anna while on Vrindavan yatra and visiting Nidhuvan and Sevakunj, etc. with lots of bhaktas, a lady, on listening to the narration of Nidhuvan fell down in a swoon. At once Anna said, “My Brindavana yatra has borne fruit. I have brought such a one and showed!” What is the use of looking at the trees and plants and deem this holy river also as would other ordinary rivers? Thus should one move into such bhaavam – “Is this is the place where our Krishna played the flute!” It is with such drishti should one look at these. Shouldn’t we? While visiting a kshetra or teertha or temple we should enquire after the charitram and learn about it.

Rama also asks about it all without fail. “What is the story of the Ganga?” he asks. At once Vishwamitra begins to narrate that story. There was a king by name Himavan. Two daughters were born to that king Himavan. One was called Ganga and the other’s name was Gowri. As there was no river in Devaloka, the Devas took Ganga to Devaloka. Gowri alone stayed on earth. Sri Sri Anna while doing Ramayana discourse would say, “When Bhagavan took Trivikrama Avatar His holy foot touched Brahma loka. And Brahma did pada puja with his kamandalu water to that holy foot that touched Brahama loka. That is only Ganga, also known as Vishnupadi, who is in Devaloka.” But how is it you are saying she was born as Himavan’s daughter and then went to Devaloka? To this Sri Sri Anna would say, “Ganga was flowing as Vishnupadi in Devaloka. Did Rama not take avatara on the earth from Vaikuntha? Did Valmiki Maharishi not take avatara as Thyagaraja? Did Narada not take avatara as Purandaradasa? Likewise the ancient Ganga of Devaloka as an amsa took birth as Himavan’s daughter and they took her back to Devaloka. Vishnu padOdakam is verily Ganga. This comes in Ramayana itself in Ayodhya kandam,” he says. Himavan’s daughter is the avatara of Ganga. So Ganga returned to her place and Gowri remained here.

While doing Veda parayanam I have said that one can always hear “Deva-Asura, Deva-Asura”. Devas and Asuras fight all the time and this is well known. There was an Asura called Tarakasura. He harassed the Devas. The Devas could do nothing about this Tarakasura. While wondering what to do, all tell them that Kailasapati, Chandrasekharan, Rishabharuda, one who smears vibhuti and adorns garland of skeletons, the great Tapasvi Lord Shiva… only by a son born of such a One can this Tarakasura can be destroyed. Otherwise nobody can destroy him. So what is to be done? Lord Shiva’s tapas should be disturbed. All went to Manmatha and prayed to him. Through his arrows of flowers he disturbed the tapas of Parameshwara. How did Parameshwara burn down Manmatha? He opened his third eye and through that Manmatha was reduced to ashes.

Now after the marriage of Parvati and Parameshwara, they all ask, O Lord! A child has to be born of you, for the destruction of Tarakasura. There is an ancient story for this. There are four people sitting in front of Dakshinamurti — Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana, Sanatkumara. Even in Bhagavatam, in Prahalada Charitram we see about them. They went into Vaikunta. They are always children. They are five years old Dikambaras, Jnanis. They are our eldest brothers. They were the ones to be born first. They are so great. Amongst them Sanatkumara it seems was a great jnani. Upanishads speak of him. Sanatkumara is a brahmajnAni. Everyone celebrated him as, “Brahmajnani” and his greatness was spoken about up until even Lord of Kailasa, Parameshwara. Lord of Kailasa, Parameshwara wished to have darshan of such a great brahmajnani, Sanatkumara. Lord of Kailasa, Parameshwara went to have darshan of Sanatkumara. He was amazed to see the child’s firmness in jnana. Immediately Parameshwara asked the child, “Ask me any boon you desire?” The child smiled and said, “Do you want any boon? I shall grant you.” Parameshwara did not think twice, and considered this as a good opportunity and asked, “You should be born as my child.”

Even though this was the boon asked for, Sanatkumara did not want to be born through a body. Therefore Sanatkumara wished to be born as an ayonija (one not born of a womb). Meanwhile, for Tarakasura’s destruction, Devas are looking forward to a tejas from Parameshwara. Sanatkumara also has said that he will be born. Whenever we mention ‘Manmatha’, it means immense beauty. Even when we speak of Bhagavan we say, ‘manmatha-manmatho vijayatE’. Manmatha is so beautiful. But he is Vishnu’s son only. But when we celebrate the father we are saying, “You are beautiful like your son!” Manmatha is also called Kaman. Why? Because he is ‘common’ to all living creatures. No one can escape from him. As he is quite common to all, right from animals and birds, he has been named in Sanskrit itself as ‘Kaman’. That Manmatha is beautiful, is it not? What do we say? “Energy cannot be created or destroyed. If it disappears in one form it will reappear in another form.” This is what we say.

So the energy of beauty has turned into Murugan energy. Why? Because the ‘Muruga’ in Tamil means one who is beautiful. In such a way, the incarnation of Subrahmaniya Swami took place. He is so full of brilliance (tejas). Hence called ‘Su-brahmaNyam’. One who has great brahmaNyam. As the tejas came out, no one was able to bear it. The tejas fell into the river Saravana and became six faced. The six divine Krithika ladies joined the six faces. They nurtured the child. And so he is called… ‘Skandayai namaha’. In this manner Subramaniya Ashtotram starts. To talk about the tattva behind this, the Agnya (chakra) is here right? In the head is the thousand-petaled lotus called ‘Sahasradalam’. As we start from below (the seven chakras are) mUlAdhAram, swAdishThAnam, maNipUrakam, anAhatam, vishuddhi, Agnya. The tejas that came from six chakras of Parameshwara, came out from the AgnyA chakra. The tejas from each chakra become face. This sushmna is symbolically denoted as a snake. Kundalini is mentioned as serpent power. Even today in Karnataka, if we go to the kshetra of Subrahmanya, the way they worship Muruga there is… he does not have hands and legs! Only a snake (naagar) is worshipped as Muruga.

In Tamil also he is referred to as ‘SharavaNabhava’. Sharavana means a forest of darbha grass. And the forest of darbha will be cool. And in such cool places snakes live. Because the skin of the snake is very soft it cannot bear the heat. So wherever it is cool, snakes will live there. Sharavanabhava implies one who lives in a cool place. When Adi Shankara Bhagavadpadal did stotras, he beautifully sets each stotra on each deity in a suitable rhythm (vruttam). He sees Mahaganapathy who is in the form of a child. What does a child like?When a small child starts to play, the parents will spread puffed rice (on the floor). This is because the child will have a tendency to pick anything on the floor and eat. The child will have a desire to eat everything it sees. So, how is Ganesha? ‘Sada bAlarUpApi vighnAdrihantri.’ Ganesha is always in the form of a child.

Mahaperiyava once spoke on Pillaiyar (Ganesha), who is a child. Mahaperiyava once did his Chaturmasyavrata in the kshetra of Nagapattinam. Outside the temple there was a big Ganesha. A single huge sized modhakam (a sweet) was made and offered to Pillaiyar by him. During that Chaturmasya vrata, a person came and broke the Suratengai (Coconut offering) for Ganesha. When the coconut was broken, an elderly person came to pick up the pieces. A little boy came and grabbed it from his hands. When asked, “Why are you grabbing it from me?”, the boy replied, “He is a child-god. Only we children have the rights on the coconut offered to Him.” On hearing this, Periyava was extremely pleased. He said this in a speech,”That child spoke so smartly! Only children have rights in the offering to the child-god.”

Upanishad itself tells us, “Be like a child.” Only children are innocent and have no hypocrisy. When someone calls a child, it will not see if the person is educated or not, rich or poor, healthy or sick. If someone shows love to a child, it will go running to him. The same way, the Upanishads say – be like a child, without any guile. Does the child worry about tomorrow? Does a newborn ever worry “Has my mother bought food for me? What will happen in 6 months?” “Has mom obtained school applications for me? Oh, what’s going to happen!” Only thing a baby knows is to cry when hungry, and when food is fed, it laughs. So, We talk of ‘Ajagara’ vritti and ‘Madhukara’ vritti – a baby is in ‘Ajagara’ vritti – it only eats food that comes of its own accord. So Upanishads advise us to be child-like.

On seeing Lord Ganesha…. The kavya sastra (Poetic Grammar} says, one is never tired of seeing these things – the moon, the elephant and the ocean. Lord Ganesha has the face of the elephant. The elephant has a bulging forehead, two masthakas (temples), a small trunk, from which teeth can be seen; on one side, the tusk is broken, the other one is long. Ganesha holds his broken tusk in his right hand. On his left hand, he holds the modaka. He wears a snake as a belt. He holds the pasha (the noose) and ankusha in his hand. He has a pot-belly – hence he is ‘Lambodhara’. His ears are flapping side to side. The elephant’s eyes are small and placed slanting. Such is the beauty of Lord Mahaganapathy!

The Acharya Adi Sankara says in Soundarya Lahari, he says in a verse, that Goddess Parvati is breast feeding her little son Mahaganapathy. Upon seeing his mother’s bosom, Ganesha thinks, “Are my temples (mastaka) still on my head, or has mother taken them?” Ganesha had great pride in the fact that he broke off one of his tusks to write the Mahabharatha.

What’s so great about breaking off one of his tusks? Yesterday I explained about the deer called ‘Kavari’. Similarly… When will an elephant cry? If someone touches its tusks, it simply cannot bear it. An elephant’s honour is in its tusks. A person who tries to remove the tusk of a live elephant, ties up the elephant, and as he tries to saw off the tusk, the elephant sheds tears heavily. It is unbearable for the elephant. So the tusk is a prestigious thing for elephants. The tusk which is the pride, honour and prestige…of an elephant, is broken by Ganapathy for the sake of writing the Mahabharatha. That is Ganapathy’s tyaga(sacrifice). Ganapathy holds the broken tusk in his hand; he is also holding a modaka on the other hand.

On seeing MahaGanapathy, Sri Adi Sankara Bhagavatpada was reminded of how the elephant is always moving its big ears side to side. This constant movement… …of the elephant’s ears reminds Sri Bhagavatha of the “Chamara vrittam” (a metre that resembles the movement of a hand-fan). So he composes stotra on MahaGanapathy in Chamara vrittam.
“MudAkarAtta modakam sadA vimukti sAdakam…” “KalAdharAvatamsakam…” Maha Periyava celebrated Sankara Jayanthi once in Thiruvidaimaruthur, and… ..once in Pondicherry. Both these occasions of Sankara Jayanthi were special amongst all the Sankara Jayanthis celebrated when Maha Periyava was the Pontiff (PeetAdhipadhi) of Sankara Mutt.

Now, what was special about the Sankara Jayanthi celebrated by Periyava in Thiruvidaimaruthur? Just like how temples take out processions of Lord Siva in Vrishabha Vahana, Bhoota Vahana etc during the 10 day annual utsavas, similarly Adi Sankara Bhagavatpada was taken out in procession in all vahanas (vehicle for the deity). When the procession was in progress, Periyava wanted Sri Sankara’s stotram to be recited. That day, an elephant came along with the procession and stood in front, so Periyava called a Pandit and instructed him to recite the Ganesha Pancharatna in a beat matching the pace of the elephant’s waving ears. “MudAkarAtta modakam” – the metre of the verse shows what a great rasika Sri Sankara was.

The other Sankara Jayanthi that is so special was the one celebrated in Pondicherry. It took place in the pre-independent era. Periyava had invited some Indians, some Britishers, and some French people. He also invited people from Armenian Street of Chennai. He took out the processions of Sri Sankara amidst all these people to show that Sri Sankara was indeed “JagatGuru”. These are the different types of bhavas in celebrating the chosen deity. Similarly, in Thiruchendur Sri Sankara composed a stotra on the presiding deity of Senthil Vadivelan (a form of Muruga). “Bhujanga” is another word for snake. A snake’s entire body is its arm. It doesn’t have an arm separate from the body, hence it’s called ‘Bhujanga’. Head to tail is the body (anga) as well as its arm (bhuja). Similarly the snake’s breath traverses from its head to tail. That’s why, if one has to capture a snake, it is enough if we grasp it in the middle of its body and hold tight. This will stop its breath and make it gasp for air. That is why, when we talk of snakes, we use terms like serpent power, sushumna, avyakta – these are represented as snakes. In Srirangam, Lord Ranganatha is lying down on a snake with three loops. In Kanchipuram, in the temple of Goddess Kamakshi, the prAkAra also has 3.5 loops, ending in the sanctum of ArUpa KAmAkshi.

In all temples, the Sesha Vahana of the deity has the snake with 3.5 loops.. This represents a tattva, and has been given to us by Mahatmas. Sri Sankara was having darshan of Lord Muruga in Thiruchendur. For Ganapathy, he used a metre related to elephant. Here, it is Muruga, who is associated with snake. He used the metre called “Bhujanga”. This metre is similar to the serpentine gait. The Bhujanga metre is the same as “Abhanga” metre used in Abhang bhajans. “Sundara thE dhyAna..” is an abhang. Sri Sankara uses the same metre when he composed a stotra on Lord Panduranga.

mahAyogapItE thatE bhImarathyA varam puntarIkAya dhAtum munIndrai |
samAgathya tishtantam Anandakandam parabrahma-lingam bhajE pAndurangam ||

That too, in Bhujanga meter only Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada has sung.

Thiruchandur do you know how it comes?

Mayurathirudam Mahavakya goodam Manoharideham Mahatchittageham Mahidevadevam Mahaveda bhaavam Mahadeva baalam bhaje Lokapaalam

SanathKumara incarnates again as Muruga. The form of Muruga is itself very brilliant (Tejas). Moreover, the six faces denote six tattvas (philosophy). I have been explaining about the chakras. Even in Kandhar Anubhoothi, Arunagirinathar sings

Aru araiyum nIttu adan mel nilaiyai, perA adiyen perumAru ulado? sIravadu Sirsidaivittu imaiyer, kUra ulagam kulirvittavanE’

He says, “Aru araiyum nIttu adan mel nilaiyai , perA adiyen perumAru ulado?”

“Will I attain the highest state crossing over all the 6 chakras? Will I have such a fortune?” he asks. Sastras while speaking about meditating on the feet of the Guru says, “Meditate the feet of the Guru in the Thousand petalled lotus on your forehead.”

Arunagirinathar also sings this very beautifully,

charaNa kamalAla yaththai arainimisha nEra mattil
thavamuRai dhiyAnam vaikka …… aRiyAdha

sadakasada mUda matti bhava vinaiyilE janiththa
thamiyan midiyAl mayakkam …… uRuvEnO

karuNaipuri yAdhi ruppa dhenakuRaiyi vELai seppu
kayilaimalai nAthar petra …… kumarOnE

kadakabuya meethi rathna maNiyaNipon mAlai secchai
kamazhu maNa mAr kadappa …… aNivOnE’

Lord Muruga is the Tejas that came from Lord Shiva. If we look at the sannidhi of Murugan called “Pandiyanayakan” in Chidambaram, there is a Thirupugazh written there. In the first line of that Thirupugazh, Sri Arunagirinathar says “sudaranaiya thirumEni” – This is a Tejas, this is a flame, this is a spark of fire! He sings this Thiruppugazh at Chidambaram.

Bhagavan Skanda incarnated (Skandotpatti). After Skandotpatti, Tarakasura, a demon was killed. Then, after narrating this, Sage Valmiki gives a “phala sthuti” that – Those who sincerely hear and read this Skandotpatti will attain the “saalokyam” (same world where Lord Skanda resides). This sthuti phala(fruit) is also given in Valmiki Ramayana.

Rama is listening to these stories sincerely. And so Rama asks, “What happened to the story of Ganga?” (Vishvamitra says,) “Rama! In the reign of Ikshvaku, there was an emperor called Sagara. He had 2 wives. One was Keshini and another was Sumati. Keshini gave birth to a son named “Asamanjas”, who was very vile. Asamanjas was deported from the country by the people. A son was born to Asamanjas named Amsuman. 60,000 children were born to Sumathi. Sagara Chakravarthy had a wish to perform hundred Ashwamedham yagnya (horse sacrifice) and attain the status of Indra. Thus he started to do hundred Ashwamedham yagnya. While doing the first Ashwamedham, he had to send his sacrificial horse for one year. So he sent his horse. Indra was afraid that King Sagara might attain the status of Indra.

In pAtAla loka there is a place called Kapilaranyam. Where Kapilar does his tapas. Indra tied the sacrificial horse there and left. Sumathi’s sixty thousand children came searching for that horse. Having assumed that Kapila only stole the sacrificial horse, they went into a fight with Kapila. Kapila got angry. He burnt those sixty-thousand sons. They were all reduced to ashes. The sacrificial horse was missing, the sons who went in search of the horse were also missing. So Amshuman started after them. Somehow he wanted to fulfill his grandfather’s wish of performing the Ashwamedham sacrifice So he went behind them. He saw the eight-guardian elephants and paid his salutations to them. He was very humble toward Kapila. Kapila felt happy. He got back the sacrificial horse. He saw the sixty-thousand brothers who were reduced to a pile of ashes. Those sixty-thousand people were his uncles. He sees all sixty-thousand of them as ashes and thinks about how to elevate them.

While thinking that they should get rid of the ghostly body and attain a good state by reaching Pitru loka, Garuda Bhagavan appears there. Garuda says, “There is a Ganga in the skies. Only when she reaches here, will they be elevated.” Amshuman took the horse back and completed his grand-father’s Ashwamedha yagnya. In that lineage later came King Dilipa and others. None were able to bring Ganga to earth. In the same lineage came Bhagiratha. Having known that many ancestors in his lineage were not elevated, he was worried and did tapas towards Brahma, praying for Ganga to come down to earth. He did a rigorous tapas. Thats why, even today when somebody performs an impossible feat, people call it as ‘Bhagiratha-prayatnam’. Bhagirathan did such an extraordinary feat. Did rigorous tapas even though he was a king to make Ganga devi Come down to earth. Brahma Deva appeared. “What do you wish for?” Asked Brahma. Ganga should come down to earth. Prayed to Ganga, but she didn’t accept to come.

“The earth is land filled with dirt. People will pollute me and humiliate me. Nobody will know my worth” said Ganga. Immediately everyone pacified Ganga saying “Why do you think about that? Many sadhus who do Hari-namasankeerthanam Will come and bathe in your waters.” On hearing that she asks “Who will be able to bear my speed?” Parameshwaran is first to come forward for Loka upakaram. He says “I will bear Ganga” And comes forward. Ganga comes down and falls down on his head. He became ‘Gangadharan’ From the matted-locks of Gangadharan he moved just one strand of hair, from that Ganga started flowing swiftly. Since He carried her on his matted-locks first, she is called Alakananda. From those matted-locks she fell down on earth (gau), thus she is called Ganga. As Bhagiratha called her, she came running behind him.

On the way a Maharishi named Jahnu was performing a sacrifice. Ganga devi inundated the sacrificial ground. So Jahnu maharishi drank the river. “Agastya drank up the ocean and I will drink the river”. Bhagiratha looked back. He had put so much effort to bring her, but here the Maharishi drank up everything. So he begs and pleads to Jahnu Maharishi. So he immediately released her through his right ears. Hence she is called by the name Jahnavi. She came to the earth. Since she was brought to earth by Bhagirathan, she is called Bhagirathi. As soon as she flowed on the ashes of those sixty-thousand brothers they attained their sat-gathi. Thus he concluded the story of Ganga. They stay there for the night and start again the next morning and go to a kingdom named Visalam.

Janakikantha smaranam Jai Jai Rama Rama! Sathgurunath Maharaj ki Jai!

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare |
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare ||

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