Friday, December 28, 2012

69 Bhagavatha -- The 24 Gurus - the Avadutha's discourse

Krishna created violent discords amongst the asuras and destroyed them, relieving the earth of its burden. Using the Pandavas as an instrument, provoking them through the ruling Kauravas, with deceit, insult and humiliation, he causes the annihilation of the Kauravas and restores the path of virtue. He deems his work incomplete as long as the Yadus continue to exist; they had grown insolent and unconquerable due to prosperity, as they were under his protection. Krishna decides to destroy the Yadava clan by creating internal strife.
Once the sages Vishwamitra, Asita, Durvasa, Narada and others arrive in a place near Dwaraka (Pindaraka), after Krishna bid farewell to them. Some yadava youths were sporting there. As a prank, they dress up Jambavati's son Samba as a pregnant woman. With mock humility, they clasp the rishis feet and asked: "O Rishis! this woman is soon to give birth to a child - she would like to know if it is a son or a daughter." The sages get angry and curse them. "Fools! She will give birth to a pestle which will destroy your race." The boys at once bared Samba's belly, to actually find an iron pestle there. They were perplexed and did not know what to do. They take the pestle to Dwaraka and narrate the incident to the King Ugrasena. The people were alarmed at the unfailing curse of the sages. The king decides to reduce the pestle to powder and throw the dust into the sea. They do so, along with one last piece which could not be powdered. That piece was swallowed by a fish and the powder was washed ashore by the sea, and grew into a kind of grass called Eraka. A fisherman caught the fish and a hunter used the piece of metal found in the fish for his arrow's point.
The gods led by Brahma and Indra approach Krishna and plead with him to return to his realm. "O Lord! Now that your mission of relieving the earth of its burden has been accomplished, we seek your return to your transcendent realm in Vaikuntha and bless us."  Krishna assures them: "O Brahma! O Indra! It has already been decided by me to return after the destruction of the Yadus. The process had already begun with the curse of the sages". The gods return to their abodes.
Krishna, noticing grave portents over Dwaraka, asks the elderly among the Yadus to shift to a sacred place called Prabhasa forthwith. Uddhava, the friend and devotee of Krishna, overhears this. Overwhelmed with sorrow, he approaches Krishna in seclusion and prays to him with joined palms: "O Yogacharya! Although capable, you have chosen not to counteract the sages curse. I cannot bear to part with you even for a moment. Kindly take me also with you to your divine realm." Krishna replies: "O blessed one! Uddhava, It is my intention that the sages curse take effect. The purpose of my descent has been accomplished. The Yadus will perish through mutual strife, and on the seventh day, the sea will overflow and submerge Dwaraka. The moment this mortal world is forsaken by me, it will be assailed by Kali - the dark age, engulfing all auspiciousness. People will conceive a liking for unrighteous ways. You, Uddhava, shall concentrate on me, and rid of all your attachment, go about the earth looking upon all with equanimity."
Uddhava prostrates before Krishna and says: "O Master of Yoga! This cult of renunciation without any expectation, preached by you is well-nigh impossible for those who are not devoted to you. I am ignorant, my Lord! I am attached to this body and children, a creation of your maya (power of delusion). I am immersed in this notion of 'I' and 'mine'. Therefore instruct me so that I may easily attain the state of renunciation."
Krishna answers: "Those who are engaged in investigating the true nature of this world, often lift themselves up by their own efforts, ridding themselves of the pleasures of the sense. By way of an illustration, vigilant ones narrate the ancient legend in the form of a dialogue between an ascetic of a high order (Dattatreya - the son of Atri and Anasuya) and Yadu, our ancestor.
"Perceiving a youthful brahmin with an unclean body, though full of wisdom, Yadu asks that fearless brahmin: "O sage! You remain inactive, but how do you get this penetrating wisdom, going about the world like an innocent boy, but enlightened from within? You are learned and virtuous, but you covet nothing and behave like a dunce or a maniac. Pray, tell us the cause of the joy abiding in your mind, although you are single and devoid of any enjoyment." Yadu bowed to the brahmin boy with humility.
"The ascetic answered: 'Many are my preceptors, O King! With a keen sense, I select and acquire wisdom -- due to which I wander freely without turmoil and worry. These twenty four of them have been accepted me as my preceptors: The earth, the air, the sky, water, fire, the sun and the moon, the dove, the python, the sea, the moth, the honey-bee, the honey-gatherer, the elephant, the deer, the fish, a courtesan named Pingala, the osprey, the infant, the maiden, the forger of arrows, the serpent, the spider and the the bhringa (a kind of wasp). From the conduct of these I have learnt all that there is to be learnt for my good.'
"Questioned further by Yadu, the ascetic explains how and why these were considered by him as his gurus.
1.  I imbibed from Mother Earth her vow: to be unperturbed even while being oppressed by living beings. One should not deviate from the course of dharma, although conscious of the fact that they are subject to the will of Providence. (Other units of the earth, the mountains and trees teach us altruism and submission to the will of others).
2.  From air one learns to move freely among all objects possessing diverse characteristics, but remain unaffected by all odours (which actually belong to the earth, wafted by the air and not the air itself). Similarly one has to train the mind to be unaffected by the merits and demerits of any situation.
3.  From the sky, we learn to visualise the affinity of our all-pervading soul with the sky, in the shape of freedom from all limitations and absence of attachment. The soul is not touched by material adjuncts like the body - just as the sky is by phenomena like the clouds tossed by the wind.
4.  From the water, one learns to be transparent, soft by nature, sweet and a seat of purity -- and also purifies people.
5.  From the fire, we learn not to imbibe any impurity, although consuming anything and everything. One's glory, like the fire, is made brighter and formidable by austerities, having no vessel other than one's belly. Although having no shape of its own, the fire assumes the shape of the firewood through which it reveals itself. Similarly, having entered a particular body, the soul reveals the traits through that body - divine or otherwise.
6*. From the sun, which sucks moisture in summer, and releases it during monsoon through its rays, a seeker enjoys various objects through his senses and parts with them according to the needs of the moment, without any attachment. As the sun, and the sun reflected in a vessel of water are not one and the same, one realises that the soul is not the body itself.
7.  The story of the dove: A dove couple lived in a nest in a forest enjoying life with its fledglings. While they were out to fetch nourishment, the dove's young were entangled in a hunter's net. The female dove returns. Screaming out of grief, she too gets into the trap. The male dove, unable to bear the impending separation, wails hopelessly --  and foolishly walks into the trap of its own accord. The hunter returns home with the complete catch. Like the dove, a householder, caught in pairs of opposites (pleasure and pain, joys and sorrows, heat and cold etc.) comes to grief like the dove. A wise man would refrain from attachment after attaining the human body -- which is an open door to the mansion of final beatitude.
8.  From the python, one learns to eat food, obtained without effort, whether it is sufficient or not, bitter or sweet.
9.  From the sea, one learns to remain calm -- inscrutable, dominated by none, unaffected by time and space, and unperturbed by likes and dislikes. The sea does not swell when rivers flow into it, nor dries up when they do not. So also, one should not feel elated or depressed, when one's desires have been achieved or not.
10. From the moth which falls into the fire, one learns to be aware of greed and lust.
11. From the black bee, an ascetic learns to take just enough food for his sustenance, without troubling the householders who provide them. He also should not be a hoarder like the bee, which loses its store of food and also perishes. A discriminating person gathers the essence from the scriptures, great or small, like the bee collects honey from various flowers. 
12. From the elephant, an ascetic learns to stay away from women. The elephant is bound in chains after being attracted by the touch of a female elephant.
13. From the honey-gatherer one learns that riches amassed with great pains by misers are neither enjoyed by them nor gifted away, but are enjoyed by somebody else.
14. From the deer, one learns to shun vulgar songs. The deer is ensnared, attracted by the music of the hunter. It was such undesirable song and dance, which made a great sage Rishyashringa, a plaything in the hands of women.
15. From the fish one learns not to be enraptured by the love of taste. It is through a tasteful bait that the fish meets its end. Of all the senses, the tongue is the most difficult to be controlled. Fasting helps control all other senses, but increases the power of the sense of taste.
16. The story of Pingala, a courtesan of Videha (Mithila):  She decorates herself at night and sits at the door waiting for a paramour. She waits, observing all passers-by, expecting that some rich man would come and she would earn plentiful of money. She restlessly kept going in and out of her house, until she was frustrated due to the long wait. Realisation dawns on her. "How senseless I am! -- expecting the fulfilment of my desire from a lustful and greedy paramour, which can only result in sorrow, grief and infatuation. Shouldn't I have adored the eternal and real Lord, residing in my heart, giving wealth and joy forever. I shall redeem myself, seeking refuge in him. Fallen in the well of worldliness and deprived of the sense of discrimination, who else can save me?"  When one observes the world being devoured by the serpent of Time, one is overcome with frustration, helping one to realise that one's Self is the only protector.
17. The ospreys (Kurari birds): An osprey flew carrying a piece of flesh. The stronger ospreys attacked the osprey with the flesh. The osprey drops the piece of flesh and felt happy. The source of misery is indeed the acquisition of whatever one love's most.
18. The infant: Like a child I wander about free from care, I wander about, sporting in the Self. Only two are free from cares and anxieties and are immersed in supreme bliss. One is the guileless child and the other is one who has transcended the three gunas (satva, raja and tamas).
19. The maiden:  Some people came home to see a prospective bride while her relations had gone to some other place. The maiden had to attend to all the chores to provide for the guests. While she was pounding paddy, her bangles jingled. Ashamed that the guests would know about it, she broke the bangles one by one, retaining only one bangle in each hand, which did not make any noise. From her I learnt that when many dwell together, quarrels ensue. Therefore, it would be better if an ascetic wandered alone, just as the single bangle on the maiden's wrist.
20. The forger of arrows: The maker of arrows was so absorbed in his work working on the tip of the arrow, that he does even notice the king passing by in a royal procession with all kinds of noises. One can learn from him the power of concentration, to focus the mind on the Self.
21. The serpent happily inhabits a borrowed hole built by others: The ascetic wanders, as building a house for himself is foolish and fraught with misery.
22. Just as the spider projecting the web from his heart through the mouth, sports with it and then swallows it, so does the Lord creates, preserves and then destroys the universe.
23. The wasp: the larva confined by the wasp in a hole in the wall keeps contemplating on the wasp. And without discarding its former body, transforms itself into the wasp.
*(The moon has been taken as a guru along with the sun.)
'Now listen to what I have have learnt from my own body, O son of Yayati (Yadu)! This body, subject to birth and death and a source of afflictions is my guru -- it promotes renunciation and discrimination. It helps me contemplate on realities although it belongs to others (to be devoured by the elements etc.). Every physical organ drags him in a different direction, pulling him from all sides. The Lord rejoiced at the culmination of his creation of the human body, endowed with reasoning and capable of realising the Supreme.
'Having thus freed myself from all attachments, egotism and developing dispassion, acquired from these preceptors, I roam about the world, established in the Self.'
Krishna continues -- "O Uddhava, the ascetic, having shared his wisdom of his preceptors with King Yadu takes leave and delightedly went his way. Yadu rid himself of all his attachments and gained equilibrium of mind."

1 comment:

.P.S.Narayanan said...

Sir,i loved all the describtions
along with your excellent drawings.Without your permission i have used the content verbatim in Tamil and posted it in my Face book page and am posting it here almost after two years as after thought.Please give your graceful glance on it..

Srimad Bhagavatham