Tag Archives: Himalaya

An Example of Asthanga Yoga in Bhagavata Purana

Nārada Advises Yudhiṣṭhira

Meanwhile, the noble King had finished his morning prayers and rituals – paying respects to the learned and giving them food, resources and money. He returned to the palace to respect his elders but could not find his uncles and aunt.

Worried, he went to Sañjaya and asked,

“Where is our blind and old uncle? Where is my aunt, so sad over the death of her children? Where is my Uncle Vidura, who has always protected me? Have I been so insensitive to their losses that they’ve thrown themselves into the Ganges in misery?

“When our father Pāṇḍu fell and we were still little children, our uncles protected us from danger and disaster. Where have they gone?”

Sañjaya couldn’t answer right away, but he brushed away his own tears, calmed his own mind and, carefully remembering the feet of his master, began to reply.

Sañjaya said:

“Oh beloved son, I don’t know what your uncles and aunt have decided. Those great souls have left me in the dark.”

Just then godly Nārada arrived with Tumburu.[1] Everyone stood up to offer respectful greetings to the scholar.

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

“O godly one, I don’t know where my uncles and austere aunt have gone, aggrieved over the death of their children.  Your ears can guide us beyond the insurmountable limits of our own limitations.”

Then, godly Nārada, the most spiritual scholar, began to speak:

By no means should you weep, King. You are not the real King, God is. Everything is controlled by him. Everyone and all their leaders pay tribute to him, seeking sanctuary. He brings living beings together, and also takes them apart. His orders are the reigns through the nose of the bull that is humanity. Everyone pays him tribute and receives sanctuary.

Just like a playful child brings his toys together and separates them as he likes, so too are humans moved by the will of the Master.[2]

Maybe you think life is eternal, maybe you think it is temporary. In either case it is foolish to lament over affection, or anything else.[3]

You worry, thinking, “But how can those poor helpless people survive without me?” You feel this way because you are ignorant of who and what you really are. Give this up.

You are in a body created by five elements and controlled by habit, causality and fate. You are like a person bitten by a snake, who rushes to help others.

You worry that your aunt and uncles may have gone somewhere dangerous. Is anyplace safe in this world? Here the strong devour the weak. The four-legged devour the legless. Those with hands devour those without. Here, life lives at the expense of the living.

In this frightful situation, O Emperor, we must try to see the All-Attractive inside and outside of everything; the one soul of all souls. It is a bewilderment to look towards any other.

O Emperor, the All-Attractive being of beings is always among us in the form of fateful time. He deletes the existence of those who trouble the gods. He accomplishes this mission with time to spare. You will stay in this world for as long as he does.[4]

You want to know where your aunt and uncles are? They have gone to the southern Himalayas, to place where sages reside, a place called “Sevenfold” because there the Ganges splits into seven branches, creating seven islands for the seven sages.

Your Uncle Dhṛtarāṣṭra is practicing aṣṭānga-yoga there. He performs the first step by bathing and invoking the sacred fires exactly according to rites. He performs the second step by eating only water. By now he will have attained self-pacification and abandoned all desires.

He will master the third and fourth steps: postures and breathing. He will take the fifth step: withdrawing his six senses from the external world and absorbing them in Hari. Thus he will attain the sixth step: liberation of the mind from the distractions of passion, peace, and ignorance.[5]

As the seventh step he will reach unity with perfect self-knowledge. He will destroy the knower of the body by merging it into the pool of spiritual being, like the air within a pot merged into the sky.

Finally, at the eighth step when nature’s impurities are overcome and their after-effects subside, the causes of desire will cease. All acquisition is stilled, immovable, and fixed. There is no further obstacle. All deeds are completely given up.

O King, this will probably take him another five days to achieve. So in five days his body will become ash.

When his saintly wife sees her husband’s body engulfed in flames inside a hut she will also enter the flame..

But when Vidura sees this amazing sight he will leave that place, pushed by feelings of delight and grief, and again wander on pilgrimage.[6]

After saying all this, Nārada and Tumburu ascended to the heavens. By keeping Nārada’s words in his heart, Yudhiṣṭhira could let go of all worry and grief.


[1] Tumburu is considered the best Gandharva (celestial musician). He accompanies Nārada to assist his kīrtana.

[2] We have very small, localized vision. Therefore it is not always obvious to us how God’s “play,” which often appears cruel and painful, can somehow serve a loving purpose. Similarly a child does not easily understand the punishment of his loving and careful mother.

[3] If life is eternal nothing can be lost. If life is temporary nothing can be saved. In either case there should be no cause for shock.

[4] This is a very slight hint that Krishna has already departed, and thus his retinue, which includes Vidura, are now also departing from the world.

[5] Material energy has three modes of operation: rajas agitates us to endeavor, sattva makes us seek peace and calm, tamas makes us want to relent and forget. These three forces constantly pull the six senses by the ropes of habit, dragging them back into mundane activity.

[6] He is delighted that his brother was so successful, but naturally sad at the experience of losing his relationship.


Death is Howling Near

Vidura went to Dhṛtarāṣṭra and shouted:

“O King! Flee! Flee immediately! Look! Your worst fear is upon the threshold! Never has anyone escaped from it; so do not reach for a useless weapon! The doom of the all-powerful is upon you!

“It is rushing toward you to steal from your clinging grasp the thing you most adore: your very life! It will also devour all your wealth and everything else you value.

“Your father is dead. Your brother is dead. Your protectors are dead. Your sons are all dead. Your own life is spent, and you are in the grip of old age. What are you doing!? Why are you dragging out your miserable life in someone else’s home?

“What are you clinging to? You were always blind, now your hearing and memory are crippled, too. Your teeth rattle and your stomach limps. Cacophonously you cough up phlegm. Aho! How fools desperately cling to irrational hopes for life!!!

“Like a groveling dog you now eat the scraps left to you by Bhīma. Once, not long ago, you set fire to their home! You gave them poison. You tried to degrade their wife! You stole their lands and wealth! …Now look at you: living on their pity!

“Like a pitiful miser your body clings to life; yet still life dwindles against your will, like old clothing falling apart.

“If you really want what is good for you, free yourself entirely from all these bonds! Go someplace unknown and cast off your body. Such a man is called wise.

“The best human beings – by their own inspiration or being inspired by someone else – detach themselves from this world and give up possessions and life, fixing their very selves wholeheartedly upon Hari.

“Therefore go northward! Tell no one where. Even if you could live on and on, there would be nothing good to experience, for very soon the time is coming when humanity will diminish.”

Thus his younger brother, Vidura, helped the king’s mind awake to a vision of wisdom. The King steadfastly cut through the ropes of selfishness and set out on the path of liberation that his brother showed him.

When his saintly wife saw what her husband was doing she followed him towards the Himalayas. The couple accepted the rod of renunciation with pleasure, like a great warrior accepts a beating.


A Mountain of Gold Hidden in the Himalayas

1.12.32

The king wanted to perform a horse sacrifice to diminish the effects of fighting with his family, but he realized that the treasury consisted of nothing but taxes and fines.

We’ve already heard about King Yudhiṣṭhira’s horse sacrifices, so it would be good to clarify the story line at this point. We are currently in the twelfth chapter of the first division of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. In the seventh chapter, Sūta began to answer the questions he was asked about Parīkṣit, the person to whom Śrīmad Bhāgavatam was originally spoken. The main thing he communicates about Parīkṣit is that Viṣṇu personally rescued him from the radiation of a deadly weapon, while he was still in his mother’s womb. Chapter seven and most of chapter eight are the backstory explaining why this weapon was cast, even after the war itself was finished (it’s the same war described in detail in Mahābhārata). Sūta describes the actual rescue at the end of chapter eight. But in telling this story in which the main subject of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Kṛṣṇa, plays a central role Sūta became excited and eager. So he continued narrating the tale even after his original purpose for bringing it up had been fulfilled. This goes on through chapters nine, ten, and eleven; wherein Sūta describes Bhīṣma’s deep relationship to Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa’s journey home to Dvārakā, and the welcome he received there.

At the beginning of chapter twelve, Śaunaka takes advantage of a natural pause in the story to remind Sūta of his original intention: to answer their questions about Parīkṣit. Sūta returns to the story line in this chapter, and reconnects his new narrative to the old by referencing topics previously mentioned. That is why we again hear about the horse sacrifices of King Yudhiṣṭhira.

33

Seeing this desire, his brothers approached the Infallible who told them how to find and procure an abundance of wealth from the north.

Long ago, Śiva gave a literal mountain of gold to an ancient king, Marutta. Eventually the path to the mountain was lost and the treasure within became inaccessible. But Infallible Kṛṣṇa told the Pāṇḍavas exactly how to find it and get an abundance of wealth for the sacrifice.

34

With it, the son of Dharma procured enough ingredients to perform the sacrifice three times, being fearful. Hari was pleased.

Fearful of the ill fate created by the war between family members, Yudhiṣṭhira performed the purificatory sacrifice not once, but three times.

35

The All-Attractive attended the sacrifice performed by twice-born for the king. Out of affection for his beloved devotees, he lived with them for a few months.

Regarding the term “twice-born:” The first birth is determined by fate. The second is determined by freewill. Only evolved persons utilize their freewill to take a symbolic second birth to establish an identity dedicated to higher pursuits. Such persons are qualified to perform mystical ceremonies.

36

Then, O spiritualists, the king allowed Kṛṣṇa to leave for Dvārakā, surrounded by Arjuna and his other friends and relatives.