Tag Archives: Indra

The Very Worst News Possible

While the king inquired fearfully, Arjuna became more and more morose over the loss of Krishna – a friend dearer to him than his very self. Sadness dried his mouth, and the lotus of his heart was robbed of luster. Enrapt in memory of his great friend, he could not answer for a long time. He made great efforts to stop his uncontrollable sobbing, smearing tears around his eyes with his hands. Pain grew deeper and deeper with him, from his powerful affection for one who was now out of sight.

Remembering his friend and companion – the well-wisher who had been his chariot driver and so much else – he turned to his eldest brother, the King, and spoke in stuttering and exploding words:

O Emperor, I am bereft of Hari… who had become our intimate relative. Without him all my astounding strength, which amazed even the gods, is gone.

Without him, even for a moment, the whole world becomes ugly, like our bodies look when bereft of life.

With Krishna I strode into the palace where Draupadī was choosing her husband from all the princes smitten with her, and erased their hopes by shooting an arrow straight into the fish.

With Krishna I defeated all the immortals, and handed the Khāṇḍava forest over to Agni, after arresting Indra who was hiding there. Maya then built our wondrous assembly hall, in which princes from every direction brought taxes and gifts to you.

With Krishna, your great younger brother who is as powerful as an army of elephants freed all the kings from the madman who sacrificed to the Lord of Madness and collected royal skulls at his feet. All of them gave you gifts in thanks.

Remember when your wife, gloriously dressed and bathed with a beautiful hair knot, was caught in a terrible assembly of cheaters who tried to untie that knot while tears fell down her face? With Krishna we turned their wives into widows with unkempt hair.

Remember when our enemy sent dangerous Durvāsa with countless disciples to eat at our modest hut in the forest? Krishna protected us: He ate a morsel of left over spinach and rice, and suddenly no one in the three worlds felt hungry. The sage and his disciples were satisfied before they even finished their baths.

Because of Krishna, I once even fought Śiva, the blessed trident wielder.  My skill astonished him and his wife so much that he gave me the secret of his own weapon, and other gods followed suit.  As a result, I could enter the house of Indra, king of paradise even with my mortal body, and share his throne!

While I was there, Indra and the gods took refuge of my strong arms, which hold the Gāṇḍiva Bow. I protected them from their enemy, because I was empowered by Krishna. But now I am robbed of him!

With Krishna, I was invincible and single-handedly traversed the unsurpassable ocean of the Kuru’s strength, to retrieve the treasures they stole and claim the dazzling jeweled crowns from their heads.

An enormous phalanx of great warriors and fine chariots encircled Bhīṣma, Karṇa, my Guru, and Śalya.  I went straight into it with Krishna at my side – and his glance deflated all their strength, enthusiasm, and longevity.

Because of his protection, their terrible weapons had no effect on me; just like the demons could not even scratch the boy Narasiṁha protected.

In our unusual relationship, he became my chariot driver; although he is the Supreme Master, the soul’s savior, and even his feet are worshipped by the wise who seek liberation. By his blessing, I had no fears when my horses became thirsty and I had to stand on the ground during the war.

We joked and jested so delightfully, beautified by his smile: “Hey Cousin! Hey my friend Arjuna! Hey Kuru’s-son!” …Oh, these conversations touched my very heart …my soul floods with memories of sweet Krishna.

We were always inseparable; sleeping, sitting, walking, eating, and boasting together. When one of us misbehaved, the other would sarcastically say, “Oh my, what an ideal person you are!”  Krishna, the greatest of the great, tolerated my awfully familiar attitude; just as a father tolerates his child, or friends tolerate one another.

Oh! Without him… without that supreme person: my friend, my beloved, my well-wisher… my very soul becomes vacant and void.

Recently, I was guarding the bodies of the Krishna’s queens when I was attacked… by farmers …who defeated me as easily as if I was a girl. I have the same bow, the same arrows, the same chariot, and the same horses. I am the same man whom great warriors praised …but without Krishna everything has lost its power. I have become like play money; like a sacrifice offered to ashes; like a seed in the desert.

Arjuna now became very stoic and spoke very plainly:

King, you asked about our well-wishers in their great city.  Here is the news: They got so drunk from liquor and wine that they couldn’t even recognize each other.  An argument broke out and they wound up killing each other.  Only four or five survived.

Perhaps it was a curse?  It seems more like the will of the All-Powerful Master, by which living beings sometimes want to kill each other but at other times want to protect each other.  The big fish eats the small fish.  The strong eat the weak.  Such are the ways of providence; and such was the manner in which the stronger Yadus killed the weaker ones; erasing themselves from the face of the earth.

There is nothing left for me but to remember the great wisdom Govinda spoke to me on the verge of battle, for that wisdom always extinguishes the flames of pain.

Advertisements

Arjuna Remember’s Krishna – Part II

11

He protected us in the forest when we were in very deep trouble,
When Durvāsa, who eats with unlimited disciples, was sent by our enemy.
When he had a morsel of left over spinach and rice, the three worlds felt full
In their minds, while they were still submerged within the water.

Duryodhana, the main enemy of the Pāṇḍavas, sent the powerful sage Durvāsa with his thousands of disciples to dine with Yudhiṣṭhira while they were exiled in the forest. There was no way Yudhiṣṭhira could feed so many people, so Durvāsa would be inconvenienced. Durvāsa is famous for getting angry easily and cursing people seriously, so Duryodhana made this scheme in the hopes that Durvāsa would curse the Pāṇḍavas.

In this midst of this calamity, Kṛṣṇa also visited Yudhiṣṭhira and ate a small morsel that was still left in the cooking pot. He felt great satisfaction. Because Godhead is the root from which all other souls are branches, when he felt full, Durvāsa and all the sages also felt completely full and did not return to Yudhiṣṭhira after taking their baths in the nearby river..

12

By his power, once I fought against the Blessed Trident Wielder (Śiva),
And astonished him and the daughter of the mountains (Pārvatī),
so that he gave his own weapon to me.
And others also followed suit. Thus even with my mortal body
I could enter the house of the Great King (Indra) and have half of his throne.

13

While there, my two scepter-like arms,
Whose trademark is to hold the Gāṇḍiva Bow,
Became the shelter for Indra and the gods, while I killed their enemy.
All because I was empowered by him (Kṛṣṇa).
And now I am robbed of that empowering person.

14

Because of being with him, the unsurpassable ocean of the Kuru’s strength
I surpassed in a single chariot, full of invincible power.
I retrieved the great wealth stolen by my enemies
And claimed the effulgent bejeweled crowns from their heads.

15

Bhīṣma, Karṇa, our guru, and Śalya,
Protected by an enourmouse phalax of great warriors
and a circle of decorated chariots
When I went into it, O powerful king,
It was his glance that deflated all their strength, enthusiasm, and longevity.

16

Because he protected me
The terrible weapons of my guru,
Bhīṣma, Karṇa, Naptṛ, Trigarta, Śalya, Saindhava, Bāhlika and others
Were ineffective
Just like the demons could not even scratch the servant of Nṛhari.

Nṛhari is another way of saying Narahari, or Narasiṁha.

17

My strange attitude made the soul’s-savior, the Master, my own chariot driver
Though his lotus-like feet are worshipped by the wise who see salvation.
When my horses were thirsty and I had to stand on the ground
The great warriors did not attack!
By his mercy I was completely free of worry.

18

We joked and jested so delightfully, beautified by his smile.
“Hey Cousin! Hey my friend Arjun! Hey Kuru’s-son!”
Oh god of kings, these conversations touched my very heart
Remembering sweet Kṛṣṇa (Mādhava) floods me to the core.

19

On a bed, or a seat, or on a walk, boasting, eating… Always we were one!
When one misbehaved the other would sarcastically say,
“Oh what an ideal person you are!”
Like a friend towards a friend, or a father towards his child
That greatest of the great tolerated my horribly familiar attitude.

In extreme grief, reality becomes distorted. Therefore Arjuna now feels that he was wrong to behave so intimately with Kṛṣṇa. But the truth is that Kṛṣṇa was delighted by his friendship incalculably more than he can ever be pleased with endless universes of worshipfully distant awestruck penitents.

20

Without him, oh lord of kings, without that supreme person
My friend, my beloved, my well-wisher… my very soul becomes a void.
Recently I was guarding the bodies of the The Adventurer’s women,
Was attacked by farmers, and defeated as if I was a woman.


Have you forever lost the friend of your very soul?

35-36

The Original Person reclines upon the ocean of the Yadu family with the original Ananta, for the benefit, protection and evolution of all the worlds. The Yadava are fit to live in his own city, protected by the scepters of his arms, and relishing pastimes of paramount bliss.

In these two verses the King very finely crafts a poetic metaphor. He compares Kṛṣṇa to Mahā-Viṣṇu, the Original Person who reclines upon the ocean of causality with a multi-headed dragon who is a form of his own unlimited energy (“ananta”), and from whom the worlds evolve and are preserved. The persons who live with this Mahā-Puruṣa (Viṣṇu) are exalted (Mahā-Pauruṣa), and by association they enjoy Viṣṇu’s own topmost spiritual bliss. The King says that the Yadu family is the ocean upon which Kṛṣṇa reclines as Viṣṇu and Bālarāma reclines as Ananta. Dvārakā is the world that evolves from this “Viṣṇu.” The people in Dvārakā Mahā-Pauruṣa who enjoy the topmost spiritual bliss.

37

Very attentively caring for his feet is the prime duty
Of the twice eight-thousand women headed by Satyabhāmā.
Undefeated when counted against the thrice-ten, claiming their treasures
And enjoying what belongs to the wives of the thunderbolt’s master.

Here, Yudhiṣṭhira breaks into more elaborate poetry to give an example to illustrate his previous statement that the people related to Kṛṣṇa are enjoying tremendously under his protection and blessings. There are roughly 16 thousand queens of Kṛṣṇa. There are roughly 30 important gods. Satyabhāmā is the queen who induced Kṛṣṇa to fight with the gods and take away a special tree with celestial flowers for her.

This continues the metaphor from the previous verses by stating that Kṛṣṇa’s 16 thousands queens are analogous to Lakṣmī, who always massages Viṣṇu’s legs and feet.

38

Always living under the protection of his scepter-arms,
The Yadava have become great heroes, ever fearless in every way.
So they strode in on foot and took by force
The Sudharmā assembly house, which belongs to the very best gods.

Yudhiṣṭhira continues to give examples of how those related to Kṛṣṇa enjoy life more fully than even the gods. Fearless and powerful due to the blessings and protection of Kṛṣṇa, the Yadus simply strode into heaven and took away Indra’s assembly hall by force. They brought it to Dvārakā for Kṛṣṇa to use and enjoy daily.

39-43

Dear brother, is your health OK? You look very pale and weak. Have you been disrespected and neglected during this long time you have been gone? Could someone have addressed you so carelessly and foully? Have they said they you did not give to a beggar, or did not fulfill a promise? Or that you did not give shelter to intellectuals, children, cows, the elderly, the sick, or women who came to you seeking it? Did you embrace one not fit to embrace, or did you mistreat a woman? Or maybe you were defeated by a person who was not your superior or peer? Or could it be that you dined alone, without also feeding the old and young? Have you done something horrible and unforgivable?

These are the basic moral principles by which an ancient prince of India lived. They valued respect and reputation and this was gained by being a good person and following codes like

  • always giving charity,
  • always fulfilling promises,
  • always taking care of anyone who needs caring for,
  • following principles regarding interaction with the opposite sex
  • never mistreating a woman
  • being undefeated by anyone junior
  • never eating before feeding others

Yudhiṣṭhira is giving one last hope towards there being some tolerable reason for Arjuna’s abject dejection. But Arjuna does not reply to any of these hopes. He merely cries more forcefully as tears pool on the ground beneath his lowered face.

44

“Alas! I have become a void, having forever lost the most beloved, heart-to-heart friend of my very soul.” Besides this thought, what else could be so troubling you?


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