Tag Archives: Viṣṇu

Krishna-less = The Walking Dead

To celebrate completing the first draft of chapter 3, Beautiful Tales of the All Attractive, Vol. 2, I am posting an excerpt spoken by Śaunaka Ṛṣi.

20-24

“O Sūta, when we do not hear about the heroism of the Hero, our ear canals are just like snake holes. When we do not sing about the One Worth Singing About, we might as well have the tongues of frogs. When our head does not bow to the Liberator, it is nothing but a heavy burden, even if it is decorated with a silken crown. When our hands do not serve Hari, they are the hands of a corpse – even if decorated with glittering golden bracelets. When we do not look upon the forms of Viṣṇu our eyes are like the eyes of a peacock feather. When our legs do not move us to Hari’s sacred places, how are they any better than the legs of trees? If we mortals never touch the dust from the feet of the blessed devotees, we are like the walking dead. When we do not smell the scent of Tulasī from the beautiful feet of Viṣṇu we are nothing but a breathing corpse.

“Worst of all is an iron-clad heart that cannot be melted by all this. Even when it takes firm hold of Hari’s name, nothing happens. It does not melt and send forth emotions like tears in the eyes or hairs standing on end.”

Advertisements

Defining the Unlimited

18

Sūta said:

Oh! My unusual birth has now become meaningful, for I have this opportunity to serve the learned elders.  To speak intimately with great souls quickly purifies the faults and sufferings one is born into.

What is Sūta’s “unusual birth”? It may be literal, since the word sūta also refers to an unusual caste in which the father is a warrior (kṣatriya) and the mother an intellectual (brāhmaṇa). Members of this caste usually became bards and poets. Another reason Sūta’s birth is “unusual” and “faulty” is that his father, Romaharsana, insulted Krishna’s brother, Balarāma. He sees this opportunity to glorify Krishna and Balarāma the ideal way to atone for this undesirable element in his ancestry. Finally, everyone’s birth is “unusual” and “faulty” – for the soul ought not repeatedly change identities! Everyone’s misfortune in this regard will be quickly purified by discussing the stories we are about to tell.

19

Why? Because then one will proclaim the name of the singular refuge of those great souls, who is called “Unlimited” because his all-attractive potencies and excellent qualities are unlimited!?

Why is heart-to-heart conversation with great souls so spiritually purifying? It is because the topic of discussion invariably turns towards the Unlimited All-Attractive.

20

So how can anyone define the immeasurable qualities of he who rests upon the unlimited? The divine goddess ignores all those who petition her and, unrequested, serves the dust of his feet.

The potencies and qualities of the All-Attractive are unlimited. When we hear that “he rests upon the unlimited,” we envision Viṣṇu beyond the borders of the universe reclining on the sea-dragon named Ananta (“unlimited”). It is an image which communicates the fact that his very being exists on the foundation of infinity.

So how can anyone define or delimit Viṣṇu and his qualities by conversation? Still one is hopelessly attracted to the effort, much like the supreme goddesses, who ignore those who bring her presents and prayers, and instead flock unrequested to attend upon the outskirts of such discussions.

21

The water flowing from his toenails is collected by the creator (Brahmā), who uses it to honorably purify the destroyer (Śiva). Who else in the world besides the Lotus-Face could be worthy of the name and position of “All-Attractive”?

There are, truly, so many amazing people among humans and gods and others. But who is worthy of the title “All-Attractive”? It is only he whose face is like the most beautiful flower, whom the goddess flock to, whom the gods worship. We will hear a story much later in this tale, that Viṣṇu once took three cosmic strides. The third created a fracture in the shell of the universe, and the water from the ocean of causality streamed down from the polestar, through the Milky Way, and eventually onto the earth as the Ganges river. This is the water that “flows from his toenails.”

22

Those in love with him suddenly become very deep. Going beyond the embrace of their bodies they attain the highest perfections, in which nonviolence and tranquility are natural.

The purifying power of devotion of the All-Attractive is powerful and uniquely swift, “sudden.” Without such devotion one toils with great delay to develop good qualities like non-violence and tranquility.

23

You are like Aryamān, so whatever you ask I will grant. I will speak as far as my knowledge will allow. Birds fly as high as they can into the sky, like the learned towards Viṣṇu.

Aryamān is the Vedic god who empowers a man to ask a father for his daughter in marriage. It is a very difficult request to accept, because a father very dearly loves his daughter and feels very reluctant to entrust her care to anyone else. Therefore the would-be groom must appeal to Aryamān for divine help. One should give whatever is asked for in the name and with the sanction of Aryamān. Sūta considered the sages to be representatives of Aryamān, because their inquiries were so blessed and divine. Therefore he felt honor-bound to give them what they had asked for.

The sages, headed by the elderly Śaunaka, requested Sūta to tell them all about the All-Attractive son of Vasudeva, Krishna. Sūta says that it is impossible to properly describe Krishna because he is naturally unlimited in qualities and nature. He is All-Attractive. Our efforts to describe and comprehend Krishna are like the effort of a bird to fly in the sky. It is natural for the bird, and delightful – but still it is impossible for a bird to reach the limit of the sky.

The tales of the All-Attractive told by Sūta in this beautiful book, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam are sublime. They represent the intimate vision and realization of the most highly elevated souls. Still, Sūta admits that this book cannot define or delimit the Unlimited. This book will point our attention towards Krishna. Our consciousness then will absorb the downpour of blissful and enlightened energy radiating from him and thus become empowered to directly and impossibly comprehend the tangible reality of Śrī Krishna.

As a lightning rod attracts lightning, without creating or containing the it, this book attracts our consciousness to the All-Attractive. It is the greatest blessing of Indian thought. May we dive into it with wild joy and abandon.

This ends the introduction to Srimad Bhagavatam. From here the book itself begins, so we shall consider this the end of the first part, although traditionally that division is made one chapter after this.

Krishna and the gopis, from a Bhagavata Purana...

Krishna and the gopis, from a Bhagavata Purana manuscript c. 1760 . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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?