Tag Archives: Draupadi

Transcending Death

41-42

He sacrificed his words and everything into his mind, and that into his life breath. He pressed that breath downward into death and sacrificed that into his five elements.  The five he wisely sacrificed to the triplicate, and that into the singular. All of these together as one self he sacrificed into the spiritual self, which is inexhaustible.

For a bear, the first part of hibernation is to withdraw into a cave. For a turtle, the first part of winter’s sleep is to withdraw its head and limbs into its shell. For a human, the first part of absolute renunciation is to mentally and emotionally withdraw oneself from the world step by step.

The self extends into the world step by step, and we can withdraw it along the same route in reverse. The withdrawal begins with all of the physical activities we perform with our senses. “Sacrificing these into the mind” means stopping all those activities and giving their energy to the mind. Next, we take all the contemplations, opinions, and desires of the mind and grind them all to a halt. The energy released by halting the ever-wandering mind is then placed into our life’s breath. Then we push the life’s breath downward, allowing death to begin taking claim of our body. When death claims the body, it recycles it by breaking it down into the chemical components that form it. There are five categories of components: called earth (solids), water (liquids), fire (energies), air (gasses), and ether (space).

The five elemental components are products of a “triplicate:” three types of energy that produces material phenomena. These three are sattva, rajas, and tamas. To fully relinquish ownership of our body, and go beyond an ordinary death we must consciously give the five components of our body back to the three energies that produced them. These three energies come from a singular substance, called mahat, which more or less is identical to the singularity that the majority of modern astronomers present as being the original source of everything in the universe. To transcend death we must further give the three energies back to the source from which we obtained them: the singularity.

Beyond the singularity is consciousness!

Thus the next phase of mental preparation for transcendence is to end the singularity by giving it back to the conscious self. The conscious self is not the ultimate root of being. There root of the conscious self is the All-Conscious Self. The final stage of dedication to transcendence is to give every energy that has been amalgamated into the conscious self and dedicate all of it fully to the All-Conscious Self, which is avyaye (inexhaustible) and therefore the original root of emanations.

Yudhiṣṭhira performed this mental dedication after fulfilling all his worldly responsibilities and duties and before taking any external dress or behavior of a renunciate.

43

Dressed in rags, not eating, binding his words, unbinding his hair, he began to see his spiritual form. Like an uncultured insane demon, he waited for and relied on no one and nothing. He listened to no one, as if he was deaf.

44

He went north, following the great souls who had gone before him for the same reasons. With no concept of time he went forward rapt in meditation upon the supreme spirit within his heart.

45-46

All his brothers decisively followed him, having seen that the immorality of Kali-yuga had embraced the relations of all the people of earth. They had done everything saintly and accomplished everything worldly. They knew the ultimate destination and origin of the soul. So, their minds always embraced the lotus-like feet of The Tranquil.

The chances of succeeding in premature absolute renunciation are exceedingly slim. That narrow margin is navigated only by those whose past lives are exceptional and rare. For the vast, vast majority of us, renunciation cannot be truly embraced without first fulfilling all our worldly responsibilities and thus exercise all our worldly desires in a way that simultaneously exorcises them.

The purpose of renunciation is to dedicate the soul into the all-soul, as explained previously in describing how Yudhiṣṭhira prepared himself for renunciation. The result of such dedication is that the soul is always rapt in loving embrace with the all-soul. Thus Sūta describes Yudhiṣṭhira as being rapt in such embrace in the core of his being, and here describes the contemplations of his brothers as constantly rapt in an embrace with vaikuṇṭha-caraṇāmbuja, the lotus-like feet of The Tranquil.

The Tranquil is a name for the spiritual Viṣṇu, Nārāyaṇa – who generates an atmosphere which is absolutely devoid of worry and anxiety.

47-48

That meditation of divine love liberated them into completely pure transcendental consciousness. This singular contemplation took them to the destination: Nārāyaṇa’s feet. They attained what is unattainable. Cleansed of the pollution of temporary, unreal, exploitive self-concepts, they went to the place beyond the Viraja River without changing their identities.

The world of Nārāyana is a place of absolute spiritual consciousness beyond the river “Viraja” (a flow of “passions” which contaminate consciousness towards selfishness). Yudhiṣṭhira and his brothers had already cleansed themselves of all such selfish conceptions, therefore they crossed the river without further transformations. They entered the spiritual sky with their same pure identities as Yudhiṣṭhira, etc.

49

Vidura also completely renounced his material self, in a place called Prabhāsa. His thoughts like clothes wrapped around Kṛṣṇa, he went to his own station surrounded by the Pitṛ.

Vidura was an incarnation of Yāma, the god of death. After finishing his term as Vidura he returned to his place among the exalted deceased (the Pitṛ) and resumed his responsibilities as Yāma. But as a result of his tenure as Vidura, his consciousness was now completely wrapped around Kṛṣṇa.

50

Draupadī too, fully aware that her husbands would not take care of her, gave her undivided attention to the All-Attractive son of Vasudeva, and went to him.

51

He who is interested in this tale of those who are beloved by the All-Attractive,
The departure of the children of Pāṇḍu for their ultimate destination,
Just hearing it, one gains purifying good fotune,
And gets perfected divine love for Hari.


Gossiping Women Are Far Better Than Hymn Chanting Priests

1.10.1

Saunaka asked:

 

Having eliminated the aggressors who tried to usurp what was rightfully his, how did Yudhisthira and his brothers, the greatest upholders of morality, enjoy or restrict themselves?

2

Suta answered:

 

The Kuru dynasty was thinned like a fire-stricken bamboo forest, but its good seedlings were protected by Hari. The Controller’s mind became pleased by reestablishing Yudhisthira in to his rightful throne.

3

Having heard the words of Bhisma and the Infallible, he was cleansed of all confusions and took up his duties with deep wisdom. He ruled the globe and even its oceans like Indra protected by Visnu; and his brothers assisted him.

 

4

The rains poured as much as desired. The earth produced everything desired. The leaking udders of the happy cows moistened the pastures.

5

Rivers, oceans, hills, vegetables, flowers, fruits and herbs certainly fulfilled everyone’s desires.

 6

There was no distress or disease nor any sufferings from the gods, creatures, or self. No one ever became inimical towards the king.

 

7

Hari stayed in Hastinapura for a few months, too. To console and please his relatives and beloved sister.

Krsna’s sister, Subhadra, was Arjuna’s wife, so she stayed in Hastinapura.

8

With his permission, embrace, and respect he ascended his chariot being embraced and respected by so many.

After a few months, Krsna again asked Yudhisthira’s permission to return to home.

9-10

Subhadra, Draupadi, Kunti, Virata’s daughter, Gandhari, Dhrtarastra, Yuyutsu, Gautama, the Twins, Wolf-Belly, Dhaumya, the royal ladies like the Fisherman’s Daughter, could not tolerate the loss of the Bow-Weilder, and almost fainted.

 

Subhadra is Krsna’s sister and Arjuna’s wife. Draupadi is the wife of all five Pandavas. Kunti is the mother of the Pandavas. Virata’s daughter is Uttara,, the wife of Arjuna’s son and the mother of Pariksit. Gandhari and Dhritarastra are the mother and father of the children who tried to usurp Yuddhisthira, Yuyutsu is Dhritarastras child from a different wife. Gautama is the family guru. The Twins are the Pandavas Nakula and Sahadeva. Dhaumya is a sage. The Fisherman’s Daughter is the stepmother of Bhisma and grandmother of the Pandavas. The Bow-Wilder is Krsna addressed with reference to his being identical to Visnu, who weilds the unique bow called Sarnga.

11-12

Appreciating what is real and casting off what is unreal, an intelligent person could never attempt to give up the kirtan of his fame; which upon the first sound immediately delights. Arjuna had given his very consciousness to him. How could he tolerate losing him after personally touching, conversing, reclining, sitting, and eating together?

 

Those who can appreciate what is real and unreal cannot give up the pleasure of hearing about Krsna’s name and fame. So just imagine the pain Arjuna felt in having to give up Krsna’s personal intimate company.

13

All of them could not even blink as they stared at him with hearts melted, moving aimlessly here and there like puppets on the strings of love.

14

All the palace women tried to stop their flood of tears, out of a great fear that it would be an omen of ill-fortune at the moment of Devaki’s son stepping out from the palace.

 

15

Then, mrdanga drums, conch shells; trumpets, flutes and bugles; kettledrums, bells and more sounded rhythmically.

 

16

The Kuru princesses went up to the roof of the palace to see Krsna. They lovingly showered flowers upon him, while casting flirtatious glances.

 

17

The beloved Sleepless Arjuna took up for his Supreme Beloved a cooling umbrella decorated with lace and pearl, and a bejeweled handle.

 

18

Uddhava and Satyaki fanned with the most wondrous fans the Master of Sweetness, who sat amongst the strewn flowers and gave the command to take to the road.

 

When Krsna left the palace a wonderful concert resounded. The ladies on the rooftops and terraces held back their tears for his sake and instead sent him delightfully flirtatious glances and showers of flowers. Arjuna took the kingdoms finest umbrella and held it above his dearmost friend as they walked from the gate to the chariot, while the driver Satyaki and his constant attendant Uddhava fanned him with wondrously opulent fans. When he arrived at his chariot it was covered in flowers, so he took his seat amongst the glorious spontaneous decorations and gave the order for Satyaki to drive the chariot onto the road.

19

Here and there you could hear spiritual benedictions pronounced by the priests. It was befitting but not really befitting for the Formless in Form.

 

The scholars miss the point out of too much affection for scholarship. However it is their nature and therefore not entirely unbefitting. Still their offering of mundane benedictions to the Supreme Personality seemed a bit out of place.

In music a dissonant note well placed increases the beauty of the melody. This is the role filled by these priests at the departure of Krsna.

20

Far more enchanting and pleasing than all their mantras was the gossip going on between all the women of the city; who had their hearts wrapped around the Subject of Topmost Poetry.

 

The only need for comment here is to note that there is absolutely no need to comment on the profundity of what Suta has just said in verses 19 and 20. The next group of verses will allow us to be a “fly-on-the-wall” and listen in on some samples of this divine chatter.


Conclusion of Queen Kunti’s Prayers

1.8.37

We are your bosom friends.
We live for you and you alone.
We hold your lotus-like feet above all else.
Can it be that you want to leave us today, O Lord of self-determined action,
Leave us to all our political problems?

Kuntī profoundly asks Kṛṣṇa not to leave.

38

What will become of us Pāṇḍava and Yadu,
With our big name and opulence, but without your audience?
The same that becomes of a lovely body
Without a soul.

39

None of this will have any of the beauty it has now,
O Mace-Wielder.
It is attractive only because your lotus-like footprints
Decorate it with their own decorations.

“Mace-Wielder” (Gadādhara) is a name of Kṛṣṇa as a warrior and identifying him as Viṣṇu, who carries a mace (club) in one hand.

40

All our towns, lands, herbs, and vegetables,
Forests, hills, rivers, and lakes
Flourish now,
Nourished by your glance.

41

So cut the ropes that bind my heart so deeply
To all my things, and to this family of Pāṇḍava and Vṛṣṇi.
O Universal Form! O Universal Soul!
O Universal Master!

Since everything beautiful in her life derives its beauty from its connection to Kṛṣṇa, Kuntī wants to have no affection for any of it, if Kṛṣṇa leaves it. In other words she asks for full realization that Kṛṣṇa is the source of beauty and sweetness in everything beautiful and sweet.

42

On you and you alone, O Sweet Protector
Let my attention be ceaselessly allured.
Like the flooding Ganges
Flowing straight to the sea.

“Madhu-pati,” the Sweet Protector, has a romantic connotation since madhu implies “honey” and pati is the word for husband.

43

Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Friend of Kṛṣṇā, Bull among Bulls,
Tireless hero who destroys the royal dynasties that trouble the Earth.
Pleasure of our senses;
Your incarnations give refuge to cows, teachers, and gods.
Master of mystics; Guide of the World; All-Attractive…

…to you I give myself.

Kuntī brings her address to a close with this stunning spontaneous composition.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa: The “Śrī” in “Śrī Kṛṣṇa” means “beauty.” So it implies “Beautiful Kṛṣṇa.” Śrī further means the goddess of beauty, Lakṣmī . In the company of Kṛṣṇa Lakṣmī manifests her original and supreme form: Rādhā. So “Śrī Kṛṣṇa” further implies “Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.”

Friend of Kṛṣṇā: This choice of words allows Kuntī to say “Kṛṣṇa” twice and better satisfy her thirst for that sound. Several people are called Kṛṣṇā, especially Arjuna, Draupadī and Kuntī herself. So it is both sonically satisfying and personally relevant.

Bull among Bulls: Vṛṣṇi-ṛṣabha is a sophisticated alliteration. One meaning is that Kṛṣṇa is the most powerful (ṛṣabha) of his dynasty, the Vṛṣṇi. Another meaning is that Kṛṣṇa is the bull (ṛṣa) among bulls (vṛṣa), which means that he is the best and most powerful of all the best and most powerful men.

Tireless hero of the Earth: The Earth is the wife of Kṛṣṇa’s boar incarnation. Kṛṣṇa is her hero because he saves her from the militarism and exploitive opportunism of self-serving leaders and politicians. How? Sometimes by incarnating to personally annihilate them, but usually by allowing them to annihilate each other as a result of the fate which he enforces in his form as supreme time.

Pleasure of our senses: Kuntī intimately addresses Kṛṣṇa as Govinda, the one who delights the eyes, ears, nose, skin, and mouth.

She concludes in a stunning manner with a refrain back to her opening motif, “I give myself to you.”

Queen Kuntī is extremely intimate with Kṛṣṇa and her appreciation is for the romantic side of Kṛṣṇa. This is clear from the messages she sends to Kṛṣṇa just slightly below the surface of all her words:

  • She compares Kṛṣṇa to an attractive actor.
  • She makes a point to identify herself as female.
  • She refers to Kṛṣṇa in the romantic setting of Vṛṇdāvana, by calling him the Son of Nanda.
  • She calls him the “delight of her senses.”
  • She appreciates his attractive body: naval, eyes and finally even his feet.
  • As is important in the art of romantic communication, she indicates that she is aware of Kṛṣṇa’s special feelings for her.
  • She calls him her “protector” which, in Sanskrit (pati), is the same word used for “husband.”
  • She illustrates her highly philosophical points with reference to intimate Kṛṣṇa in Vṛṇdāvana, as the Son of Yaśodā.
  • She describes kīrtana with adjectives like “embracing” and “enjoying” the hearing, singing, and reminiscing of Kṛṣṇa.
  • She says she wants to love no one else, be attracted to no one else.
  • She twice refers to Kṛṣṇa in relation to Rādhā.
  • In this mood she wishes to give herself to him.

This certainly begs the question: is the relationship between Kuntī and Kṛṣṇa romantic (mādhurya-rasa)? The answer may not be clearly understood before we realize that the ideal cherished in one’s heart need not be forceful enough to fully manifest in ones deeds. What I feel is certain is that lovely and devoted Kuntī cherishes romantic affection for Kṛṣṇa above all else. She particularly adores the concept of Kṛṣṇa as her true husband. She even holds the highest reverence for Kṛṣṇa’s supremely intimate romance with Śrī Rādhā.

If these cherished ideals were forceful enough to grant her a place among his queens or Gopīs is unknown to me. But in her current shape as Kuntī it remains a heartfelt ideal, the deepest motive and most treasured emotion. We should realize that all self-realized souls cherish the intimate romantic love of Kṛṣṇa and his queens, Kṛṣṇa and the Gopīs, and Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa above all else – regardless of the capacity or level of intimacy to which their personal nature permits them to access Kṛṣṇa.

I also wonder how much the sentiment of the storytellers influences the choice of words and the subtleties. I think that Kuntī holds these sentiments as the secret treasure of her heart, and the storytellers may make it more apparent due to their own deep sympathy for such feelings.

Kuntīs prayers teach us so many important things.

  • Kṛṣṇa is a Transcendent Person, which means that his delimiting features such as name and form are unlimited.
    • Illusion prevents us from accepting that this is possible.
    • Illusion is the product of not wanting Kṛṣṇa to be the Absolutely All-Attractive
    • Illusion is truly destroyed, therefore, only be becoming absolutely all-attracted to Kṛṣṇa, as Kuntī is.
  • There is no such thing as good and bad luck.
    • Good luck can separate one from the true fortune of attraction to the All-Attractive.
    • Bad luck can increase that fortune.
  • Kṛṣṇa refuses to become the property of anyone who holds on to any other property. He fully gives himself, however, to those who are uninterested in power and enjoyment, are self-satisfied, gentle and pure.
  • Kṛṣṇa is absolutely impartial.
    • Destiny is the absolutely impartial form of Kṛṣṇa
    • Receiving or not receiving affection from Kṛṣṇa is our decision.
  • The most significant reason Kṛṣṇa appears in our world is to provide us an opportunity to remember him and thus realize our full-potential as roles in the play of divine love.
  • Everything is beautiful and attractive only in so far as we are aware of its connection to all-beautiful, all-attractive Kṛṣṇa.
    • Therefore let us become attracted to him first and foremost, then everything will become beautiful.

Considering the sublimity of Kuntīs emotion and the profundity of her philosophical points, it is easy to see why Sūta chose her words as the first monologue he enunciated to the sages in pursuit of retelling Śuka’s Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.


From Funeral to Throne

1.8.1-3

Sūta said:

So they went to the Ganga, with Kṛṣṇā and the women in front, wanting to give water to their departed family members. They all offered water and lamented terribly again and again while immersed in the river purified by the dust of the lotus-like feet of Hari. Then they sat down, overcome with grief – The Kuru King with his brothers and Dhṛtarāṣtra, Gāndhārī, Kuntī and Draupadī, and  Mādhava too.

The Kuru King and his brothers are Yuddhiṣṭhira, Bhīma, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. Their wife is Draupadī. Their mother is Kuntī. Dhṛtarāṣtra and Gāndhārī are the father and mother of the opposing side, who tried to cheat their way onto the throne. After the war was over, the members of both side of the previously divided family united to mourn their dead together. That seems a significant moral lesson.

Mādhava is a name for Kṛṣṇa highlighting his honey-like sweetness. He sincerely participated in these emotional scenes, although categorically different from all the others – being the source of the purity of the river in which the others sought purification.

4

Along with scholars, he calmed the shock of those who had lost their friends and relatives by explaining that there is no way to undo what a living entity must attain due to their own destiny.

5

Cheating a faultless man of his kingdom created the destiny that killed so many. Daring to defile the hair of the queen with their touch created the destiny that killed many others.

6

He [faultless Yuddhiṣṭhira] performed three opulent āśvamedha sacrifices, helping his pure fame spread everywhere, like he who performed a hundred.

Performing an āśvamedha is the way an emperor in ancient India could ritually demonstrate his power. An āśvamedha is a shockingly explicit, flamboyant and martial ritual that would give pause even to the most seasoned pagan. It is very difficult to possess the power and wealth required to perform this function even once. Indra, the king of the heavens, did it one hundred times. Yuddhiṣṭhira did it three times, but because he was so naturally powerful and impressive, the effect was similar to the effect Indra obtained from a hundred.

Interestingly the Manu Samhita says that being vegetarian is a better way to achieve the same effect as an āśvamedha. It takes a very long time to perform an āśvamedha, so this particular verse describes a relatively long span of time transpiring after the end of the huge war.

7

Then, asking permission from the Paṇḍu family and their friend Sātyaki, he prepared to leave with Uddhava. Dvaipāyana and many sages and teachers offered their respects, and he offered his respects in return.

Here is a good example of why Kṛṣṇa is named Mādhava (“sweet”). He is the supreme independent power. If he desired he could do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. But because his heart is sweet and selfless he is humble and feels the need to behave according to the desires of his beloved friends and family. Great sages and teachers headed by Dvaipāyana (another name for Vyāsa) do not foolishly mistake him for an ordinary person simply because he is so sweet. Therefore they offer him worshipful respect. This is quite socially out of place because Kṛṣṇa’s caste at this phase of his life (warrior) is such that he should bow to the sages and teachers. The sages however, know the spiritual truth of Kṛṣṇa’s supreme position and enjoy his sweet and humble role without forgetting that he deserves all respect and worship. Kṛṣṇa, however, is so sweet that he takes refuge in these social customs as an excuse to offer respect and worship to those who love him.

If anything, we can learn that to be humble is more enjoyable than to be proud, for the supreme enjoyer tries to put himself into a humble circumstance. It appears that modern civilization chases happiness by running away from where it truly lies.

The central figure is Yudhisthira. The two to ...

LTR: Nakula, Sahadeva, Yuddhisthira, Arjuna, Bhima, Draupadi