Saturday, 8 November 2014

Untold Stories from Ramayana - part 6

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

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Untold Stories from Ramayan- Part 05

The story of sage  Vishwamitra 

Vishwamitra is not just some mystic yogi or a gurukula teacher or something. Vishwamitra was such a great powerful personality. He was a great ksatriya. One day he was going on a big hunting tour, and while he was going, the tradition was that when you pass by a gurukula or an ashrama, the kings must stop. And they must go there and respect the saint. The saintly person in turn will feed the king, because the king will not carry so much ration when he goes into the forest. And he's not going to live on fruits and roots, because he's the king, not some saintly person. He needs some feast, so the saintly person must arrange the feast. And for arranging the feast the kings will always donate a lot of things to the saintly person. In this way there was a nice arrangement for making feasts and taking feasts. So this great army of Kaushika, Vishwamitra , was coming, and he had his hundred sons and he was thinking, "That's a small ashrama there." He looked down into the valley and the ashrama was about four houses, and there was stream running nearby. Vishwamitra thought, "My army of a hundred sons shouldn't go. You all stay here," he said to his sons. "It is a custom that I should go and respect this saintly person, so I will go there and then I will come back. And if he asks to feed something to me that is alright, but he can't feed my whole army."

So Kaushika went down, and there was two brahmacharis washing cloth in the stream, so he asked them, "Whose ashrama is this?" The brahmacharis replied, "This is the ashrama of Vasistha Muni." "Vasistha?" Kaushika asked. "He's in my country and I didn't even know." "He came three months ago," the brahmacharis replied. He would always go like that. He stays in a place for about three hundred years and then he moves to another ashrama, because too many students come there and he doesn't like a big population. So whenever there is too many people he disappears with one or two students and goes to open another school somewhere else. "I would like to see him" Vishwamitra said. So the brahmacaris brought him before Vasistha. Vasistha was making some thread from cotton. He was wearing a gamsha around his waist and another around his shoulders. Kaushika was coming with many ornaments and a golden crown, so he came in there and took his crown off, and touched Vasistha's feet. He then said, "I am Kaushika and I am on a hunting trip. I have a hundred sons who I have left on the highway and I have come here just to see you. So you please bless my kingdom." Vasistha said, "How is this possible that you are coming to my ashrama and going without a feast?" Vishwamitra looked at the house with its grass roof and cow-dung floor and the whole ashrama was only three or four houses. "You're going to give me a feast?" Vishwamitra asked "How will I eat it without mysons?" "No no, your sons, your army, your castle, everyone. Bring them here." "But where will they sit? You have only four huts." "Bring them here,"

Vasistha said very determinedly. "If I don't bring them, he will curse," Vishwamitra thought, so he went back to his sons."All of you come with me to this ashrama," he told them. "You must be joking!" the sons replied. "If we all go to that ashrama, we will be crushed. There's no place in there." Vishwamitra said, "This great rishi has asked, so we must go." They were thinking, "Even if we passed by there, by the sound of these chariots the roofs will cave in." Their chariots were huge with eighteen horses each. Kaushika said, "I don't want to be cursed, so let's go down there." As they were going down into the valley they saw that a big township was there. Palaces, roads, and swimming pools. People were running out of the city. It was a city suddenly, and Kaushika was thinking, "This is wonderful. Just in the time of closing my eyes there is a big city here. It's bigger than Mahismati, my capital! Look at these palaces!" They were all looking at this and wondering, and then Vasistha came out and said, "What are you doing? You must all go and take bath. Feast is already prepared. It will get cold." So then after they took bath they came and thousands of them sat down on a big grass lawn. They saw no plates or anything in front of them, and Vasistha made them sit in rows. Vishwamitra said, "What items are you going to give us, and how are you going to serve it?" asistha replied, "You can think of any plate you like, and you can think of any item you like, and you can think of any quantity you like, and you will get it." Vishwamitra thought, "A diamond plate." Boom! And the diamond plate was there. And whatever he liked at that time was coming, heaps and heaps and they were eating and eating, but still it was just coming and coming, and they were just eating all the items they had ever heard about. One person said, "What Indra eats on his birthday, I want that." So he got it. Everyone got everything they liked. They were so satisfied, and then they wanted to see a dance. "What dance do you want to see?" Vasistha asked them. Vishwamitra said, "The dance that is seen by Narayana in Svetadvipa, I want to see that." "All right, you can see," Vasistha replied. Immediately there was a stage. And there was a wonderful stage by the celestials of Vaikuntha. And Vishwamitra was so envious. He was thinking, "What is this? Some baba, he is having so much opulence. I am a king, and I look like a beggar in front of him." 

So he came to Vasistha and asked, "Please tell me, what is the source of your opulence? I'm sure it's not this beard." Vasistha replied, "No, it's not my beard. It's my cow." Then he clapped his hands and he said, "Kama-dhenu, come here." And then a kama-dhenu came. This cow had a long tail like a braid, and a peacock feather on the back. It had the breasts of a human female on her chest and the body of a cow. And in her whole body is the potency of all the demigods. This cow came when the milk ocean was churned for nectar, and was given to Vasistha by the Supreme Lord, because he performed wonderful sacrifices so he needed a lot of wealth. Where could he go, because the kings were such small timers. Sometimes they would have wealth, and even though they had sometimes they would say that they don't have. So he gave this cow. "You can get anything from this cow." Vishwamitra said, "I will give you one million ordinary cows. You give me this cow."Vasistha said, "You must be a fool.

One million ordinary cows, why should I take them and give you this special cow. If you give me one million kama-dhenus then I can think of giving you this one." "But you know," Vishwamitra said, "according to the shastras, whatever is in this land belongs to the king, and I am the king so it belongs to me." Vasistha said, "Look at the kama-dhenu again, Kaushika." Vishwamitra looked at the cow and noticed that it was four feet off the ground. "This cow does not belong to you," Vasistha said. "Only if it touches the earth does it belong to you." So Vishwamitra was defeated. He said to Vasistha, "Look, you may have so much tapovalam, but I am a ksatriya and I have so much strength, one hundred sons. I am not going to ask you for the cow, I am just going to take. So he came behind the kama-dhenu and started to pull, and his hundred sons were helping him. "What are you doing?" the cow said to Vasistha. "You are my protector, and you are not doing anything. This mleccha is taking me away." Kaushika said, "You are calling me a mleccha?" "Yes, you are taking the property of a Brahmin, so you are a mleccha at least now, or in the next life you are going to be. Why are you doing this? This is nonsense, and even the Lord will not be tolerant of this, you will be finished. Your whole dynasty will be finished, this is my curse." Vishwamitra said, "You are a cow, so don't talk so much. Just come with me. " So then Vasistha said, "Don't do this. She does not like it. If she liked it, then you could take her, but she does not like it." Still Vasistha was keeping his anger inside, not showing it.

"You keep quiet," Kaushika said. "I am taking the cow." Vasistha said, "Where are your 100 sons? I will show my power on them, because I don't want to finish you. If you are there you can produce another 100 sons. Show me your sons." "Here are my sons," Kaushika said, and then Vasistha looked at them and they were all gone. And then he said, "Kaushika, do you want to become a heap of ash? Then you'd better run away from me." Then Kaushika, in great disgust left the ashrama. He went to the Himalayas and performed austerities for 300 years to please Mahadeva. Lord Siva came, and asked Kaushika, "What benediction do you want?" There's one great thing about a benediction from Siva. If you take a benediction from him, it is only for your destruction. His benedictions will only destroy, they will never give anything good. Unless you ask for love of God, or devotion, but if one has approached Siva he generally doesn't ask for these things. So Siva was asking, "What benediction do you want?" Or in other words, how do you want to be destroyed? So then Kaushika said, "I must have all the divine weapons.

All the weapons that Indra has, Agni has, Varuna has, all of them must come to my mind, and I must control them. I must be a rajarishi." "Yes, you are a rajarishi," Siva said. "Now stop doing austerities, because it is burning my body. Go." Then Vishwamitra immediately flew to Vasistha's ashrama. Vasistha was having an oil bath, having oil massaged on his body. When someone is having an oil on the body you're not supposed to talk to him or talk in conversation. Kaushika did not even give him a challenge or  anything, he just immediately started doing all the astras on Vasistha. Vasistha was still sitting there getting oil on his body, and the first thing that Vishwamitra threw was a brahmastra. "Suddenly so much heat is in mustard oil," Vasistha said. "It's not that hot!" So then Vasistha looked over his shoulder and saw the brahmastra. "My God! What is he doing? Who taught him these weapons? He does n't know where to put them! He's throwing them here, but I am having an oil massage here. Kaushika, stop doing this nonsense!" Then came Agni astra, and then came Vayu astra. They were all coming one after another. "This is too much," Vasistha said, and he looked around. He saw his walking stick, which was getting old, so he took that and threw it out. Then he continued with his massage. The walking stick came out and faced the brahmastra. The brahmastra touched this walking stick, and it became like ice, and fell down. Then came the Agni astra, which came emanating so much fire, and all the trees were burnt, but when it faced the stick this astra was also pulled down. Then Vayu astra came, and all the astras that he learnt from Lord Siva were all used up, pulled down by the stick. Then the stick started moving towards Vishwamitra , so Vishwamitra started running away.

As he crossed the area of Vasistha's ashrama, the stick went down and Vasistha kept it down. Then Vishwamitra sat up and he was thinking, "That is just a stick that he uses for walking. What will happen if he takes a bow? What will happen to me then? So this rajarishi is no good, I will become a brahmarishi." So again he went up to the Himalayas, and he performed tapasya for such a long time that Brahma came to him. "What do you want?" Brahma asked. "Why are you troubling me like this?" "I want to be a brahmarishi," said Vishwamitra . Brahma said, "Well I am Brahma, and I am calling you a rishi, so you are a brahmarishi. You be satisfied." Vishwamitra said, "No, Vasistha should say it." So Brahma brought Vishwamitra to Vasistha and said, "Please call him brahmarishi." Vasistha looked at him and said, "What a great tapasa you have done! After all you are a ksatriya, you are supposed to been enjoying your senses. Simply by my challenge, you have become such a great rishi. Why brahmarishi? You are a jnanarishi, the rishi of saintly people. You are worshipable by me. Now Vishwamitra , you stop your austerities." So Vishwamitra  stopped his austerities there, and he became well known as brahmarishi and was moving around.