The Lifting of the Bow
After Rama's fight with the demons Marica and Dusana, Vishwamitra didn't come back to Ayodhya, instead he told them, "There is going tobe a big fire sacrifice in Mithila." King Janaka was ruling. So Vishwamitra said, "A great sacrifice and all the rishis and pandits will be there. I will take you there so you can see it."
On the way so many other pastimes happened, these are already famous pastimes. Ahalya, the wife of Gautama Rishi had been cursed to become stone, and she would not be released until Ramacandra touched her with His lotus feet. Then she would come alive again. So those pastimes happened within the travel from Vishwamitra's ashrama to the present Lucknow, and from there up to Mithila. Mithila, the country of Janaka is known as Mithila because long before Janaka there was one king in the Iksvaku dynasty. Vasistha was the guru for a many generations, and the king at that time wanted to perform a yajna. Vasistha had agreed to perform a yajna for Indra in the heavenly planets, so he told him, "I will finish this yajna, then I will come back and perform yours." The king did not say anything. He didn't want to displease Vasistha, he was a great devotee. Vasistha went to the heavenly planets, and before he came back the king called some other rishis, Gautama and his brother, and he engaged them as priests and completed his yajna. He did not tell them that Vasistha was only in the heavenly planets. Vasistha came back. Very quickly he completed his yajna, he didn't even wait for receiving payment for it. He told Indra, "Just keep it in credit and I will collect it later." Very quickly he returned, but when he got back he saw that Brahmins were coming out of the palace with cows. "What's happening here?" he asked. "Oh, big yajna. It's all over now, though. We just received dakshina and now we are going."
So Vasistha was very upset. He called the king and said, "What is this? First you tell me that I should do the yajna, so I finished my job in the heavenly planet very quickly and even displeased Indra and his party, and I have come here because I am your Kula-guru, your family spiritual master. So how is this proper that you have taken some other person and performed the yajna?" The king was still keeping quiet, not saying anything. Actually Vasistha should not have gone to the heavenly planets to perform yajna because he is the family guru of the Iksvaku dynasty. So if Iksvakus are having a yajna he is supposed to do that first, and then if it is necessary he can go to the heavenly planets. So it was actually a mistake on the part of Vasistha, because he was a little greedy from the great remuneration he would get from the heavenly planets. A Brahmin should not be greedy. By doing that, a great trouble happens. What was the trouble? Vasistha became so angry that he said to the king, "You become nirdeha." Deha means "this body" and nir means "without." "So you will be without body."
All this time the king was tolerating, but now he said, "What is this? I must perform my yajna on time, and you went there because you are greedy. Now you are cursing me." So the king got angry with Vasistha and said, "You also become nirdeha." So at the same time, both bodies were lost, and they both became nirdeha. When Vasistha became nirdeha he was going here and there and then one group of rishis who were meditating took him and put him inside a pot and kept him inside the pot for a long time until he could take another body. In the same pot another rishi's soul was kept. They became brothers. Vasistha is therefore known as kumbha-muni, the rishi coming from a pot, and another kumbha-muni was Agastya. He was thumb sized. Not thumb sized of our thumb, but the thumb of the demigods, so he was much taller than us. In Dvapara-yuga people were ten times taller, eating was ten times bigger, lifetime was also ten times longer, and in Treta-yuga it was a hundred times. So now we are living a hundred years, in Dvapara yuga they lived 1000 years, in Treta-yuga it was 10000 years, and 100,000 years was the lifetime in Satya-yuga. So that is why in Satya-yuga the process is meditation, because if you are living 100,000 years, what it the problem with spending 30,000 years meditation? Agastya lived through all the yugas. He is even living now in the southern part of India.
There is a mountain in South India called Kozwalla mountain, and on Kozwalla mountain there are caves, and the scriptures say that Agastya is still there. These rishis are chiran-jivas, meaning that up to Brahma's life-span they will also live. So Agastya and Vasistha came from the same pot. In this way Vasistha got his body, and this person who became nirdeha couldn't get a body because of the rishi's curse, no-one tried to give him an artificial room like Vasistha got. These test tubes are nothing new. The rishis have been doing it for ages. They take the sperm and put it in a pot, create some artificial climate and it would grow in there and become a saintly person. These two rishis became test tube babies, but the other person just remained nirdeha and he remained for a long time, and then he went to the heavenly planets and from there to the spiritual world.
His dead body was there, so all the saintly people in the country churned the body as there was no dynasty, just like in the Srimad-Bhagavatam there is the story of how Vena's body was churned and Prthu Maharaja came. So this churning was done, and this churning is called Mithi. When churning the body you have to keep the foot from the body of that person and take the leg and then churn it. So this is why it was called Mithila, and the man who came out of that body was called Mithi Janaka. Ja means "birth" and Janaka means "one who has taken birth by churning." So Mithi Janaka means "one who has taken his birth by churning of someone's body." And this Mithi Janaka, he didn't want to be in Ayodhya because of all the prestige the family had. So he left Ayodhya and created a separate kingdom, and that kingdom was known as Mithila, because the Mithi Janaka created that kingdom so it was called Mithila. And all his sons were known by the name Janaka. He was Janaka, and then Janaka I, Janaka II, Janaka III and so on. Janaka had a great property in his palace. This property was the bow which was used by Mahadeva, Lord Shiva, in a battle between him and Vishnu. Once there was a battle between Vishnu and Shiva. There was no cause for this, it was just Narada Muni's jubilation. He was once in the assembly of Indra, and Indra was praising Mahadeva. He was saying, "Lord Shiva has three eyes, and fire comes out of his third eye and all that." So Narada Muni said, "There are so many Shivas. In every universe there are eleven Shivas. My Lord is different. He has no third eye but He knows everything." Then Indra said, "No no no, you don't know. Vishnu is alright, he's the avatar, but Shiva is the great powerful person." "If it is so," Narada said, "Why don't you go and ask Shiva to have a fight with Vishnu? Then we will see who is more powerful." Then Indra thought, "That would be a nice thing to do," so he went to Kailash. Shiva's bull, Nandi, was asking, "What are you doing on Kailash? This I he could take another body. I is meant for people who meditate." Nandi is a great yogi, and an astrologer too. He saw Indra and knew there would be trouble, so he said, "Get out of Kailash. You are an enjoyer, so what are you doing here?"
Indra said, "No no, I have only come here for Shiva's darshana without any motive."Nandi said, "I am an astrologer, and I can see on your face that you have come here to create trouble. Don't give any trouble to my Lord, he is peacefully meditating."Then Indra said, "Let me in Nandi." So he was allowed. When he came in, Shiva was in deep meditation. Indra came in there and prayed to Mahadeva so much, and finally Shiva opened his eyes. "Indra! Why are you here? There is no trouble happening. I don't think you have come here to ask me to fig ht with someone." Indra said, "I must say that I only visit Kailash to ask you to fight with someone, but this time it's not a demon.""Who is it then?" Mahadeva asked. "Well we had a little argument," Indra said. "Myself and Narada. I said that you are the most powerful, but Narada said that Vishnu is the most powerful." Shiva said, "You see this japa-mala I am holding? Do you know what I am doing with this? Do you know what I am chanting?" "I heard that you chant Rama's name," Indra replied.
Shiva said, "So I am chanting Rama's name. And then you are asking who is more powerful. If I am more powerful than Him, then He must be chanting my name. But it would never happen, I am chanting His name." Indra said, "That is right, that is Purana, but I want to see it." Shiva said, "Why do you want to see it? I am telling you, He is the most powerful and all power comes from Him. I only destroy this universe, that is all the power I have." So Indra said, "Even though you say these things, I don't believe it." "Why don't you believe it?" "Because you are so powerful that you burnt the fort which was flying in the sky."Then Shiva said, "I know what you are up to. You want to have some entertainment. So you go to Visvakarma and ask him to make a bow for me. I am a babaji, but you want me to fight. So at least give me some weapons." So Visvakarma used his mystic power and made a bow. This bow was so big that 300 people had to carry it. Actually it was in a cart. The cart had so many wheels, and 300 people had to push it to move it an inch, and then they had to rest for half an hour. So this was the size of the bow. It was unstrung also, the thread was separate. So that was brought in front of Lord Shiva. "This is a good bow," he said, and took it up. When he took it up all the demigods fainted. It was such a huge bow and Shiva was just lifting it so easily. Then Indra was saying, "See? I told you, he's very strong. Don't think that he's just a babaji meditating. He's got so much strength." Shiva then strung the bow and he said, "All right, I am ready." Then they went to Brahma and asked, "Please bring Lord Vishnu for a fight." So Brahma went to the milk ocean and meditated.
Vishnu was sitting there in the Svetadvipa, and he said to Laksmi, "I wonder what Brahma is calling for now?"Laksmi said, "Maybe some demon is there." "How can a demon have come without My knowledge? There is no demon," the Lord said."Then You must also know why he is calling You," Laksmi said. "Yes I do. He wants Me to have a fight with Lord Shiva." "Oh," Laksmi said. "I would like to see that." "Then I'll have to do it," the Lord said. So then He got up from His seat and He came to the other side of the milk ocean. He said, "All right Brahma, I am ready." And then Indra said, "But there is one condition - You don't bring any bow or anything from Your spiritual world. We will give You something from this world. Otherwise You will overpower him easily, we know that. We want a straightforward fight." So Visvakarma made another bow. Shiva's bow was called Mahesh-chapa, and Vishnu's bow was called Vishnu-chapa. Both were made by Visvakarma and were equal in strength. They were exactly the same. They were copies. So Vishnu came and said, "No problem, I will take it." So he took the bow, and he came and lifted it. When he lifted the bow, because He has got an eternal associate called Sarnga, who is His bow, and when Vishnu touches any bow Sarnga will come in there and it will become Sarnga-dhanu. He took the bow and Sarnga entered. Nobody could see this happen. So He came and Shiva was there, and as soon as Vishnu was in vision of Mahesh, Shiva offered his obeisances and clapped his hands, rolling on the floor in ecstasy. Indra said, "What's going on?" He turned to Narada Muni and said, "Go and tell him to give up his devotion and fight!" Narada Muni went to Siva and said, "You have forgotten that there is supposed to be a fight. You have surrendered." So then Mahesa said, "Please, bless me so that I can fight with You." Vishnu blessed him, "All right. You can fight with Me." So they were fighting, fighting, fighting, and it was going on for a long time. Finally Shiva put the bow down and started running away from the battlefield, and all sorts of astras were coming out of Sarnga, and Shiva ran away. He ran, and he was shouting to Indra, "I told you! I told you! Now I am in trouble!" Of course, Vishnu was not angry, he was only smiling. But then all the demigods prayed to Vishnu, "Please stop the war. We need Lord Shiva." So then the war was over, and Shiva was saved.... to be continued
Transcribed from lectures given by His Grace Atma-tattva dasa during Gaura-purnima in Sridham Mayapura