Wednesday, October 31, 2012

10 - Bhagavatha -- Nara and Narayana.

The sages Nara and Narayana were the twins born to the god of virtue, Dharma, and the
daughter of Daksha prajapathi, Murthi (ahimsa).
They were unequaled in glory of their austere penance for the welfare of the world at Badrikashrama (Badrinath -- which nestles between the two towering mountains known as Nara and Narayana).
Indra feels threatened.  He sends apsaras (celestial nymphs) to disturb their penance.
Narayana, undaunted, takes a fresh mango leaf and with its juice sketches on his thigh a most
beautiful form of nymph (Urvashi).  The drawing comes alive, her beauty far excelling the
apsaras of Indra. Thus put to shame, the apsaras return to their abode, unable to violate the
sanctity of the sages' austerities. Narayana sends Urvashi (as she was born of his thigh, [ooru])
to Indra along with other apsaras. (There is a small temple for Urvashi on the mountain behind
the Badrinath temple.)
This exposition of the art of painting by Narayana, of the origin of art itself, is narrated in the
Vishnudharmottara Purana, a treatise for the arts.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

09 - Bhagavatha. The Varaha Avatara.

The brothers, Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha had conquered the four quarters with their splendour and terror.  Brahma's boon had made them very powerful and vainglorious. The younger one, Hiranyaksha, in the form of a huge boar with golden hair and fearful tusks dives into the ocean, beats the waves and disturbs the aquatic creatures, spreading fear.  He hides the earth under the ocean.  He mockingly challenges the Lord of the waters,Varuna for a combat. Varuna replies that only Vishnu could give him the satisfaction of a combat. 
Brahma, unable to begin creation, as the earth was hidden, meditates on Lord Vishnu. Vishnu, emerges from Brahma's nose as a tiny boar, the Varaha. He assumes a majestic form and with his keen sense of smell finds the earth inside the ocean. He lifts bhoomi on the ends of his tusks and surfaces. He encounters Hiranyaksha, on the lookout for a combat. Varaha, the divine boar swims away to install Bhoomi safely.
Then a terrible battle ensued between the two.  At times Varaha admired the fairness of his opponent. On Brahma's plea that he shouldn't be playing with a demon who is a threat to the inhabitants of the world, Varaha uses the Sudarshana discuss and destroys the demon's mace.  And with a light slap at the root of the demon's ear, kills him.
He was hailed by the Gods as the source of all sacrifices (yagnas).

Monday, October 29, 2012

08- Bhagavatha: The Sanaka brothers curse the Dwarapalakas.
The Sanaka brothers, were the eldest of Brahma's creations. Born from his mind, they were self-realised souls and always had the appearance of five-year olds.
Once they travel to Vaikuntha, the abode of Lord Vishnu. Unhindered, they cross the six gates and when they came to the seventh, they were stopped by the Dwarapalakas, Jaya and Vijaya, due to their unpalatable appearance.
Angered that their desire to meet Srihari was thwarted, the sages spoke:
"The inhabitants of Vaikuntha, do not see diversity, as the whole universe is contained in Srihari.  Fear, caused by diversity has made you stop us. As you see diversity even here, you shall go to those spheres where the three vicious propensities (lust, anger and greed) are one's deadly enemies."
The dwarapalakas prostrate before the sages, and accept the punishment meted out to them. But they plead that even when they descend into the lower regions, they may not forget, out of infatuation, the memory of the Lord.
Hari appears before them and agrees with the sages' curse.
They descend to the earth, born to Diti and sage Kashyapa, as Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

07- Bhagavatha - Cosmic form and the avataras.

Sukha describes the cosmos, the different worlds (lokas) and the cosmic form of the Lord.  And how to meditate on him, who resides in the cavity of one's heart in the form as big as a thumb in height. Then he begins the stories of his descents on earth -- the avataras, for the benefit of the world.

Lord Hayagriva, with a horse's head, worshipped in all sacrifices appeared in Brahma's yagna (sacrifice) who is veda (knowledge) personified. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

06.  The narration of Shuka --Salvation in seven days.

Shringi goes home and laments before his father. Shamika opens his eyes, notices the snake, brushes it away, and asks the reason for Shringi's grief. The boy narrates how he has cursed Parikshit. Shamika tells the glories of Parikshit and reasons how he did not deserve the curse. The wise sage seeks pardon from the Almighty for his son's immature understanding. He also arranges to convey about the curse to the king.
Parikshit also regrets his action, and welcomes the curse as an opportunity for him to redeem himself. Giving charge of the kingdom to his son Janamejaya, and renouncing everything, he walks away to the banks of the Ganga for a fast unto death. He seeks the guidance of elders and sages around him for salvation of his soul within the limited time. As if by divine intervention, sage Sukha, the son of Vyasa, walks in and gives the solution to the king -- The listening to the stories from the Srimad Bhagavatha. Shuka also volunteers to narrate the epic. He begins his narration. 
The third verse of the Bhagavatha:
                     Nigamakalpatharoh galitham phalam ShukamukhAth amrutha drava samyutham
                     Pibatha BhAgavatham rasamAlayam muhuraho rasikA Bhuvi BhavukA:   
'O ye devotees possessing a taste for divine joy,  Srimad Bhagavatha is the fruit (essence) of the wish-yielding tree of veda (book of knowledge) dropped onto earth from the mouth of the parrot (Sage Shuka), and is full of nectar of supreme bliss.  Go on drinking this nectar repeatedly till there is consciousness left in you.'
05 Bhagavatha: Shringi's curse.

Parikshit, tired and thirsty amidst a hunt, enters the hermitage of Shamika rishi and asks for water. The sage, in a complete state of meditation does not respond. Parikshit, angered that he was disrespected, lifts a dead snake lying nearby with the end of his bow and throws it across the sage's shoulder. The sage doesn't notice that either. The king returns to the capital.

The sage's son, Shringi, a mere boy, was playing with his friends when he hears about this undignified act of Parikshit. Enraged, he immediately curses that the king would be bitten by the snake Takshaka in a matter of seven days. (Vyasa says, the boy releases the word-thunderbolt - 'Vagvajram visasarja...'which is illustrated here.) 
04 Bhagavatha  - Parikshit subdues Kali.

After the exit of Pandavas and Krishna, Parikshit, the son of Abhimanyu, becomes the Emperor.
He observes that Kali was tormenting the earth (shown in the form of a cow) and Dharma (in the form of a bull). He prepares to slay Kali, who surrenders and pleads with Parikshit to assign him places to stay on. Parikshit allocates him falsehood, intoxication, passion and cruelty. Kali pleads for one more place, gold, which was granted.
03 Bhagavatham: Yudhistira and Bheeshma. 

The grand old man, and a reservoir of Dharma,  Bheeshma lay on the bed of arrows, awaiting the time of Uttarayana, for his death. Krishna suggests that Yudhistra seek his guidance. Bheeshma answers the questions of Yudhistra and extolls Krishna -- The Vishnu Sahasranama. 

Where the Mahabharata ends, the Bhagavatha begins.
02 Bhagavatha: how the narration progressed.

Even after the mammoth task of editing and compiling the vedas, composing the Mahabharatha etc., Vyasa felt dejected. Narada reasons that it was because Vyasa did not sing the glory of God. He briefly narrates the theme of the Srimad Bhagavatha to Bhagwan Vyasa.
How the narration progressed: Earlier Vishnu gives an outline of the Srimad Bhagavatha in a nutshell (4 verses) to Brahma (note the handshake here). Brahma narrates it to the sages Sanaka and his brothers, Sanatana, Sanandana and Sanatkumara. They in turn, narrate it to Narada. Narada gives a brief description of the epic to Vyasa who composes the epic. The epic was then taught to Vyasa's son, Sage Shukha.
01. Srimad Bhagavatham:

01. Bhakti approaches Narada to help redeem her sons, Gnana and Vairagya, who are on the verge of death. Narada, on the advise of Surya, suggests the listening to the Srimad Bhagavatha in seven days, the saptAham. This is in the BhAgavatha MAhAtmyam.
Srimad Bhagavatham : oil on canvas 6.5' x 10' 2007-2011

Srimad Bhagavatham