Posts

Amma Tells stories from Itihasas & Puranas – Part 2 (15 more stories)

1.  Sabari’s love and Gopis’ love

[Amma: “A spiritual seeker’s mindset should be such that he is ever alert and eagerly anticipating the arrival of his beloved God to meet him. He should ever be ready to extend a warm welcome to his lord and offer his puja to Him. The puja pedestal in the seeker’s Puja room is not just a place to keep God’s image. It is indeed the sactum sanctorum of your beloved God. If you have such an anticipatory mindset, you will always keep the place spotlessly clean”.]

Sabari was an old lady from a hunter family and she was an ardent devotee of Lord Rama. Every moment in her life, she was waiting for the arrival of her beloved Rama to her hut. She kept the hut and the surrounding garden clean,  neat and beautiful so that when Rama would arrive he could lie down and relax there.

Everyday, she decorated her hut with flowers; she spread flowers on the walkway to the hut. To do pada puja to her lord, she kept her vessel spic and span every day. She made a fresh flower garland everyday for putting on to her God’s neck as soon as he arrived. She decorated the seat on which her God would come and sit. She plucked sweet fruits and kept them ready every day to feed her lord.

She was doing all these tirelessly year after year tirelessly. She never even missed chanting her Lord’s name nor slackened her efforts to all these practices. And finally, one day Lord Rama did arrive to bless her and grant her the bliss of his divine company.

Similar thing happened at Brindavan too in the next yuga when Lord Krishna as a boy lived joyfully in the company of the Gopis. When Akrura came to Vrindavan to take Krishna to Mathura at the behest of his king Kamsa, the Gopis of Vrindavan were just not ready to be separated from their beloved Krishna. They virtually turned mad when they came to know of the mission of Akrura. They got very angry with Akrura and showered abuses at him for his attempt to take their Krishna away. When Krishna, Balarama  and Akrura started from Vrindavan, they did not allow the chariot to move forward.

Krishna consoled them all, saying, “Don’t worry. I have an important mission to accomplish at Mathura. Once it is finished, I will not waste a moment there and will come back here. You are all my true love; how can I ever be separated from you for long?”. So saying he bid farewell to all of them, never to return to Vrindavan again in his life.

However, from the moment he left, they started anticipating his return! They kept aside ghee and butter every day to feed their lord when he would be back.  They decorated their houses and made artful kolams around their house. With tears flooding their eyes, they kept staring the path that Krishna would take to reach their houses.  The gopis felt that every tree, shrub  and flower plants, the river Yamuna, the cows, other animals and birds of Vrindavan — every living non-living being were indeed eagerly waiting for the return of their beloved Krishna. Their mind totally immersed in the thoughts and memories of Krishna, every gopi virtually attained the looks and manners of Krishna. They all became Krishna personified.

(From Arul Mozhigal-6 Tamil)

2.  Yudhishthira’s ‘victory’

[Amma: “Children, death is always behind us. We do not listen to the sounds if its footsteps. Yet we ignore the fear of death and hold on tightly to all our whims and fancies close to our bosom. We never want to change our behavior; we fail to develop love and compassion towards others. Death can knock us out at any time and it is just foot behind us. Hence don’t postpone anything for doing tomorrow. Right time is just now to do good things. Change your mindset about life right now.”]

Once an old and impoverished brahmin came to see King Yudhishthira at his court on an evening. He prayed for monetary help to conduct the marriage of his daughter. Yudhishthira told him to come to his palace the next morning to collect the money. The brahmin, who was full of hope that he would get help from the benevolent king on the same evening was disappointed and left the palace as he was to walk all the way from his distant home again the next day.

After a while, there was a huge noise of beating of drums and blowing of conches outside the court. It sounded similar to a typical occasion when a king returns to the palace after successfully winning a war. Yudhishthira was surprised to hear the noise. He sent his messenger to find out what is happening outside the court.

The messenger came back and and reported that it was all done at the instruction of Bhima. Yudhishthira sent a word to his brother Bhima to come and meet him at once. Bhima came and bowed before the king. When asked what he had done, Bhima said, “Dear brother, I arranged everything to celebrate your victory!”

“Victory of what? Where is the war?” asked Yudhishthira with surprise.

Bhima said, “This victory of yours is greater than winning a war. Brother, you asked the old brahmin to come tomorrow and collect the dole. In the present times, when no one can ever predict what will happen in the next moment, you were sure enough to live till tomorrow morning; it means you have conquered death. That’s why I arranged the celebration!”

Yudhishthira, a man of dharma and wisdom immediately understood what Bhima was driving at. He thanked Bhima for reminding him about the fictitious nature of human life and the need to take instant decisions when it comes to doing an act of charity for the sake of the poor. He immediately sent his messengers to fetch the old brahmin and gave him money sumptuously for celebrating his daughter’s wedding.

(From Arul Mozhigal-6 Tamil)

3.  It is divine power that is acting

[Amma: “Children, it is the power of God that leads us in all our activities. Understand this, we should develop such a mindset that we constantly remember ‘I am just an instrument in the hands of God; he directs and I act’ “]

Vishwamitra was a great saint. Yet he wanted to occupy a higher status than the sage Vashishtha.  However, everyone respected and adored only sage Vashishtha. In whatever way he could mentally analyse, Vishwamitra could not grasp what made Vashishtha greater than him. In order to get clarity on this, he went to lord Brahma and said to him, “My lord, I have done years and years of penance and undertook several very severe austerities. With powers accumulated through them, I could even create an exclusive heaven for Trishanku. Despite all these, people adore and respect only sage Vashishtha more than me. What is the reason behind it?”

Lord Brahma said, “Take Vashishtha along with you and meet Adisesha, the giant serpent that supports the world on its hood. Adisesha will clarify your doubt”.

Vishwamitra met Vashishtha and took him along with him to meet Adisesha. He explained to Adisesha what Lord Brahma told him.

Adisesha replied, “Oh Vishwamitra Rishi, before I answer the question, I need a help from you. I have been carrying the burden of the world all along and I feel very tired. Can you please hold the weight for some time, for my sake?”

Vishwamitra said, with pride, “No problem! I will carry the weight just like holding a straw”. When he made himself ready, Adisesha transferred the earth from his head to Vishwamitra’s head. However, he could not bear the weight even for a second and he fell unconscious.

Adisesha immediately came forward to take back the load. When Vishwamitra regained his consciousness, Adisesha requested Vashishtha’s help to bear the load for some time.

Vashishtha came forward saying, “That power by which I live, that power that leads me, that power that prompts me to action — may that power bear the weight”. With utter humility, He extended his hands to take the earth. Without any difficulty, he could bear the weight of the earth.

Vishwamitra was very surprised to see this. Adisesha said, “Vishwamitra, you are not inferior to Sage Vashishtha in penance. But you do everything with a pride “I do it”. But Vashishtha does everything without a sense of doership, without any egoism.  That is the greatness of Vashishtha. That’s why everyone respects him”.

(From Matruvani Tamil  2017)

4. The power of Krishna’s flute

[Amma: “A self-realized Mahatma in fact identified himself with the entire universe. It is his power that is acting through everything. He can, if only he wishes so, ake all sentient and non-sentient beings to obey his command. Everything is his. Even the sum, moon, seas, mountains, trees and animals can act on his wishes and execute his will. A mere sight, a thought or a touch from him is enough to convey his command”.]

When Lord Krishna was in Vrindavan, his uncle Kamsa was trying all possible means to locate Krishna and kill him. He sent several asuras (demons) one after the other in a mission to find Krishna and execute Him, but all his efforts failed. Every failure strengthened his resolve to kill Krishna. One day, he sent one of his asuras to kill all the cows that Krishna and his associates possessed in Vrindavan.

Every morning, Krishna and his associates would lead all their cows for grazing in the meadows far away from Vrindavan. The asura sent by Kamsa arrived at the meadows. He decided to drive all the cows to one place in order to kill them. Seeing his scary form, the cows got frightened and started running chaotically in all directions. However he managed to control them and drive them in one direction The gopas were very scared and they came running to Krishna to report the matter.

Hearing the bad news, Krishna smiled.  He took out his flute and started playing a tune. The captivating music from the flute spread in all directions far and wide. The cows heard it. Enchanted by the music, the cows turned direction and they started charging and attacking the Asura!  When hundreds of cows turned against him, the Asura felt absolutely helpless to overpower them! He tried all his magic tricks but none could work against the cows that were chasing him by the influence of Krishna’s music emanating from his flute. The Demon had to run away from the spot to save his life.

(Source: Arul Mozhigal-7 – Tamil)

5.  The power of Rama’s anger

[Amma: “A saint is like the mother earth in his patience and compassion. These qualities are very deep in him. Suppose he gets angry, his anger too is as deep as his patience. If his anger is let out, its power  will be like the fire of the final destruction of the universe. As the Mahatma is immersed in the vase expanse of the universe, his anger too would be very vast indeed”.]

Lord Rama was all set with his resolution to build a bridge across the sea to reach Lanka in his mission to annihilate Ravana and bring  back his wife Sita from his clutches. The sea was rough and the waves were high and strong. Rama decided to pray to the lord of the seas and seek his favor so as to build the bridge smoothly. Rama undertook fast for three days and intently prayed to the Sea God for his grace and permission.

Rama was the Avatar of Lord Vishnu who was indeed the creator and sustainer of the entire universe and every minor God was subservient to him. Hence there was indeed no need for him to pray to Sea God. Yet, Rama displayed his humility, in order to set an example for the world.

However his act of humility ended up in boosting up the ego of the sea God.  He did not bother to respond to the humble prayers of lord Rama and appear before Him to grant his wishes.

Sensing his egotism, Rama got angry. Rather, it can be said that Rama commanded his emotion of anger to come to him. Then he took his bow, fitted an arrow and said, “Oh the Lord of the Seas! In order to obey the laws of Nature,  I submitted my self to patience and humility.

(Source: Arul Mozhigal-7 – Tamil)

6.  Krishna everywhere

[Amma: “When you are fully immersed in your true self, you become everything — one  with the entire universe. A new universe is revealed to you. You remain there permanently”.]

Once Lord Krishna and Arjuna were walking together, chitchatting. Krishna said, “Arjuna, you say I am an incarnation of God. I want to reveal a thing to you”. He took Arjuna through a village path.

They reached a vineyard.  Krishna pointed out the creepers there and asked Arjuna : “What do you see there?” Arjuna said, “I see lots of grape creepers and bunches of ripe grape fruits hanging from them”. Krishna said, “No Arjuna, watch intently, those hanging out there are not grapes”. Arjuna watched intently.  He was taken aback. There were no creepers or grapes. Each and every fruit hanging there was verily  a Krishna!

(Source: Arul Mozhigal-7 – Tamil)

7.  Arjuna’s pride

[Amma: “When you are fully immersed in your true self, you become everything — one  with the entire universe. A new universe is revealed to you. You remain there permanently”.]

Once Lord Krishna and Arjuna were walking together, chitchatting. Krishna put his hands on Arjuna’s shoulders and said, “Arjuna, I want a honest answer from you. Tell me who is the greatest archer in the world?”

Arjuna said, “It is me”.

Krishna, with a look of exasperation on his face, said, “Don’t you think it is a self-boasting, over confident and arrogant answer?”

Arjuna Said, “Oh Krishna! When you, the Lord of this Universe, is putting your hand on my shoulders and protecting me, who on earth has the power to defeat me in archery?”

Krishna smiled and walked along.

[Amma: “Children, we must always remember that it is the power of God that is acting through us.”]

8.  Just one syllable – three meanings

Once a grand famine gripped the earth. There was no rain for a couple of years at a stretch and people started suffering a lot.

The devas, Asuras and human beings who were all suffering decided to pray to Lord Brahma to save them from famine. They did severe penance to solicit the grace of Brahma, who had been in deep meditation for long. They waited for him to open his eyes. Finally, Lord Brahma opened his eyes and saw all of them. He just uttered a syllable “Da“, closed his eyes and went into deep meditation once again.

The devas, asuras and humans thought that the Lord had given them the clue to solving their problem by uttering ‘Da’. Each went into meditation to deeply contemplate on the word syllable ‘Da’.

The devas, upon meditating on ‘da’ for long, felt that it meant ‘Damya’ meaning self-control. Devas knew that they were always freeling engaging themselves in enjoying unbridled sensual pleasures. They felt that it was because of it that their suffereing had come. They understood that they should start practicing self-control immediately.

The Asuras meditation on “da” for long. They felt that ‘da’ meant ‘daya’ — compassion. Asuras knew how cruel they were and they understood that God wanted them to practice compassion. They decided to put this advice into effect.

The human beings, who meditated on ‘Da’ understood it to teach them ‘Dana’ — donation.  They instantly felt that they were too selfish and never wanted to give away or share anything with others.  Instead of hoarding things and enjoying them selfishly, they understood that they should share more with others.

As Devas, Asuras and Humans started practicing these qualities in their lives, they could please the lord. Rains started pouring again and prosperity gradually returned to earth.

9.  Realizing the power of Self

[Amma: “A true spiritual seeker gets rid of his individuality, his ego. He grasps that he is Atman; he is bliss personified; This way, he, who has always thought of himself as a zero watt bulb now turns into a dazzling 10000 watt bulb. Such an acquisition of power happens in him”.]

In the story of Ramayana, all the monkeys headed by Angata reach the southern sea shore in their mission to search for Sita. In order to find whether Sita is in Lanka, one had to cross the seas. The monkeys, knowing that they did not have the capacity to jump over the sea felt dejected. None of them were confident to make a jump across such a long distance. Hanuman too was sitting in a corner.

Elder monkeys ask Hanuman, “Hey, can you jump?”. Hanuman said, “No! I am afraid I can’t”.

But some of the seniors like Jambavan said, “No, Hanuman! You are indeed capable. Only you can accomplish it. You are not an ordinary monkey; you are the son of Vayu, the God of wind. You have all the powers to do it; only you seem to have forgotten”.

When they praised him like this and gave him the needed moral boost, Hanuman got up. He realized that he did have all the power and potential. He enlarged his body like a hill and then took one great leap. He crossed the sea and landed at Lanka. He searched and found Sita there. He gave Rama’s message and returned successfully.

In a similar way, our scriptures keep saying, “You are not an ordinary mortal; you are verily the Atman; you have all the powers inside you”.

(Source: Unaruvin Makkale – Malayalam)

10.  Sandipaka’s Devotion to Guru

The Sage Angirasa was a very powerful rishi. He had several disciples. One day, he called all his disciples and said, “Due to my fate on account of bad deeds in my previous births, I am going to be affected by leprosy soon; I will lose my eyesight too. I would prefer to live those days in Kashi. I would kike to know who of you will be interested to be with me in Kashi and do personal service to me”.

The disciples looked at each other and kept quiet. Then the youngest among them all, Sandipaka rose up and said “Respected Guruji, I am ready to come with you and serve you”.

The guru said, “You are too young ; you don’t know anything about the right way of doing personal service to guru”. But Sandikaka was adamant. He stood firm in his decision. He was deeply interested in doing personal service to guru. Finally Rishi Angirasa agreed. Both of them reached Kashi.

Very soon, Angirasa was affected by Leprosy and he lost his eye sight too. Sandipaka served his guru with utter care and devotion day and night. He went out to beg food for his master and also washed his clothes. On rest of the times, he was with his guru, always ready to extend any service needed by him. He believed that his guru and the Lord of Kashi (Viswanatha) were one and the same.

Despite his devotion and committed service, his guru would scold him severely; he would accuse him of committing blunders that he never did; at times he would blame him for not washing his clothes clean or bringing foodstuff that had turned sour. At times, he would also shower him with love and affection and feel bad about giving him all the trouble.

Sandipaka continued to serve his guru without losing heart. One day, Lord Shiva appeared before him and said, “My son, I am highly impressed by your dedicated service to your guru. I would like to offer a boon to you. What do you want?”

But Sandipaka did not want to ask anything without getting his guru’s permission. He ran to his guru and asked, “Shall I ask Lord Shiva to cure your leprosy?”  Angirasa Rishi got very angry. “You are not my disciple at all. Do you want me to suffer more by taking another birth? Don’t you want me to attain realization in this birth itself by suffering all my past karmas?”

Sandipaka returned to Lord Shiva and said “Dear Lord, Please pardon me. My guru did not approve the boon I wanted to ask from you. I have no other need. Kindly excuse me”.

A few years passed by. Sandipaka continued to do his service to guru with the same devotion and dedication. One day, when he was at the streets begging for food, Lord Vishnu approached him and said, “My child, I am extremely happy abut your service and dedication to me. Whatever boon you want, please ask me and I am ready to give it. Don’t disappoint me as you did to Lord Shiva”.

Sandipaka was surprised. He said, “Dear Lord! I have never done any service to you; in fact I had never even thought about you. Then how can you become happy with my service?

Lord Vishnu said, “Guru and God are no different. By serving your Guru, you have served me”. Again he ran to his guru and and asked him what boon to seek from Lord Vishnu. His guru said, “I don’t need anything; if you want to ask something for yourself, ask Lord Vishnu”.

Sandipaka ran back to Lord Vishnu and said, “My Lord, please give me the right mindset and discriminative faculty to correctly comprehend what my guru needs so that I can serve him to his fullest satisfaction”. Lord Vishnu was very happy to hear this and he said, “So be it” and disappeared.

When Sandipaka returned home, his guru asked him what boon was sought by him from Vishnu. Sandipaka narrated what he asked. At that very instant, all the leprosy lesions on his body disappeared. His eye sight was also back. Smiling broadly, Rishi Angirasa embraced his disciple lovingly. In fact, getting affected by Leprosy and losing eyesight were simply ploys enacted by him in order to test his disciple’s dedication and devotion.

With full of love, he blessed Sandipaka saying, “I am extremely happy with your devotion. If all disciples serve their gurus with the same dedication and love as you did, they will all lead a trouble free life. Let all future disciples serving their masters attain the status and glory as you have attained”.

[Amma: “Children, this is true Bhakti. If such a devotion exists, nothing else is needed”.]

(Source: Arul Mozhigal-1 – Tamil)

11.  Gandhari’s envy

[Amma: “People coming to spiritual life expect magical progress; they lack the patience and perseverance.  The blossoming of the inner self will happen only slowly and steadily. Everything in nature has a gradual and predetermined duration of time for evolution. Even the blossoming of a flower is a wonder and it happens in its own time.  The birth of a child is another wonder and it takes nine long months to happen. God never makes things to happen in a hurry. Only if you progress step by step, the progress will be real”.]

Gandhari, wife of the blind king Dhritarashtra came to know that Kunti (wife of Pandu, brother of Dhritarashtra) had conceived and given birth to her first Child (Yudhishthira).  Gandhari too was pregnant at that time. She became very envious of Kunti and out of impatience, she punched her abdomen with her hand again and again. On account of it, the fetus in her womb got disentangled and she gave premature delivery to a lump of flesh.

At that time, Rishi Vyasa came to her palace. He took pity on Gandhari despite her act of immaturity. He cut the piece of flesh into hundred pieces, placed them in 100 pots and closed them tight. Using his yogic power, he passed on some of his prana shakti (his vital life energy) into the pots. He told Gandhari to take care of the pots for a specific period and not to open them. Again, Gandhari, out of impatience did not wait till the end of the stipulated period and she opened them. On account of it she got 100 children who were not mentally ripe and mature. These children grew up to become rogues and they became the cause of destruction of their lineage.

(Source: Arul Mozhigal-9 – Tamil)

12.  Lakshmana’s Anger

[Amma: “It is only through love that it is possible to make the heart blossom with divinity. A sage’s presence, love and touch can do lots of good to others. He can make their hearts blossom and develop receptive mindset. Here is an example how a saintly person’s presence and touch can have the power of healing.”]

The date for Sri Rama’s coronation had been fixed. But on account of Kaikeyi, the event could not happen. Kaikeyi asked for two boons from Dasaratha. As per her first boon, her son Bharata should rule Ayodhya kingdom; as per her second boon, Rama should go and reside in the forest for fourteen years. That was how Kaikeyi made use of the two boons her husband had promised to her in the past.

Dasaratha pleaded to Kaikeyi not to insist on Rama’s exile to forest as Dasaratha’s very life was so much attached to Rama. But Kaikeyi was adamant. She said he should not waver from Dharma as the father of Rama, the very embodiment of dharma.  Dasaratha could not do anything.

But Rama, the avatar was happy to accept the effect of the two boons. He had no disappointment nort anger. He was at his peace as usual to him, because he had no attachment.

But Lakshmana, Rama’s brother and his self-appointed personal attendant was aflame with anger when he heard about the news of Rama’s exile.  As Lakshmana loved Rama more than his own life, started abusing Dasaratha unmindful of the fact that he was his father.  He said that he would put Kaikeyi and Dasaratha in the gallows and crown Rama as the king. No one was able to pacify and control Lakshmana’s anger. Rama kept his quiet watching Lakshmana’s anger. Finally, when Lakshmana became somewhat subdued on account of losing all his energy through the expression of anger, Rama went close to him, touched him and said in a soft voice, “My son”.

That’s all. These two loving words and the touch changed Lakshmana completely. His heart opened up. His childlike nature reared up again. His anger fled. He became steady. He felt peace.

After this change happened, Rama gave a brief sermon to Lakshmana conveying spiritual wisdom. His words now went deep into Lakshman’s heart.

(Source: Arul Mozhigal-9 – Tamil)

13.  The story of Markandeya

The sage Mrikandu had no children for a long time. In order to beget a child, he did severe penance to please Lord Shiva. Finally the lord appeared before him and asked, “Do you wish to have an intelligent and radiant son who will ie at the age of sixteen or a useless dullard who will have a long lifespan?” Mrikandu prayed for the former kind of child.

As was foretold by Lord, the newborn baby developed into a prodigy endowed with all qualities. The parents named him Markandeya (son of Mrikandu). All the four Vedas and other scriptures spontaneously dawned in his intellect. Everyone who came in contact with him felt attracted by his good qualities and behavior. But his parents were unhappy and would weep upon looking at his face, remembering that he would die at the age of sixteen. Somehow they managed to conceal this fact from him.

One day, Markandeya noticed the sorrow in his parents’ face and inquired the reason for it. They told him about the secret of his birth. Thenceforth, Markandeya immersed himself in intense tapas with the strong determination to please Lord Shiva and overcome death.

At last the fated day arrived. When the messengers of death came, they found Markandeya sitting in samadhi, absorbed in the thought of Lord Shiva. Since they could not approach him at that state, the God of death himself, Yma, came to take away Markandeya’s soul. Waking from samadhi and seeing Yama, Markandeya threw himself on Shivalinga and embraced it tightly. Throwing his noose around Markandeya and the Linga, Yama tried to pull Markandeya away.

Infuriated, Lord Shiva emerged from the Shivalinga an killed Yama in order to protect his devotee. The Lord then bestowed eternal life on Markandeya and blessed him that he would remain sixteen years old for ever! Then, in response to the prayers of the gods, Lord Shiva brought Yama back to life.

(From Awaken Children-2)

14.  Jada Bharata and the deer

[Amma: “The next birth one takes after death will be according to to the thought one has at the time death. At the moment of death, only the unfulfilled and strong desires will decide what you will become in the next life. If they are godly thoughts, then you will become a devotee; if they are worldly thoughts, you will again be thrown into the world of vasanas. That’s why it is said that you should cultivate divine thoughts through regular practice. You cannot think of God all of a sudden, especially at the moment of death”.]

Jada Bharata was a king in the ancient times. As the fruit of a life of righteousness, he developed a spirit of detachment and a strong desire for God-realization. Entrusting the kingdom to his eldest son, he left for the forest in order to do intense sadhana.

One day, while engaged in japa by the side of the river. he saw a fawn being swept away by the current of the river; getting up, he rescued the fawn and took it to the hermitage. With great care and love, he raised the fawn as if it was his own child.  Soon he forgot all about japa, meditation and other spiritual practices due to his preoccupation with and affection for the fawn.

Unexpectedly, the time of his death arrived. Even at that time, he was lamenting the fate of the deer and died while looking at it. Naturally, he was reborn as a deer, but due to his previous sadhana, he remembered his mistake of the previous birth and remained aloof from his mother and all other deer. Finally, he was reborn as a man and achieved the Highest Goal through a life of detachment.

(From Awaken Children-2)

15.   The right interpretation of dharma

After Pandavas and Kauravas completed their formal education and learning of archery and other skills in weaponry under the tutelage of Kripacharya and Dronacharya, the elders like Bhishma, King Dhritarashtra and others wanted to designate the next crown prince to rule Hastinapur after Dhritarashtra.  The task was to assess who between Duryodhana (the eldest of Kauravas) and Yudhishthira (the eldest of Pandavas) would be the better choice to rule the nation.

At that time, a murder case came to the king’s court for judgement. Bhishma suggested that both Duryodhana and Yudhishthira should hear the case and suggest the right delivery of judgment according to dharma that they had learned.

It was a case where a Brahmin, a Kshatriya, a Vaishya and a Sudra joined and conspired together to commit a murder. The inquiry revealed that it was indeed true that all the four persons produced in the court were the culprits in committing the crime.

When asked about the punishment to be metered out to the culprits, Duryodhana said that all the four must be hanged since their had conspired together to do the murder.

When Yudhishthira was asked, he said, “Since a Sudra is not exposed to dharma shastras,  he is not fully aware of what is right and what is wrong. Hence he can be whipped 50 times for the crime and released. The Vaishya is definitely far more exposed to dharma through education which means he has done the crime knowing what is wrong. Hence his punishment must be more severe. He can be whipped 50 times and imprisoned for 5 years.

“A kshatriya, being in ruling class, is far more aware of dharma; in fact, he is duty bound to maintain dharma in society. If he commits a murder, it is a serious crime. Let him be whipped 100 times and incarcerated for at least 12 years.

“As for the Brahmana, any form of indulgence in violence is totally prohibited.  As a Brahmin, he is exposed to all dharma shastras and he is the one responsible for propagating the shastras to Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. Thus a brahmin conspiring and committing a murder is an extremely serious matter. Nothing short of hanging him to death would be the right judgment in my opinion. However, as per Shastras, Kshatriya like me cannot impose such a punishment to a Brahmin, who is to be revered by all classes of people. Hence I would rather ask the Brahmin to choose the right and appropriate punishment as ordained in the shastras for himself”.

Hearing the judgement, all the elders in the court gave a standing ovation to Yudhishthira for his wisdom and the right grasp of the essence of shastras. Everybody felt that Yudhishthira was indeed the right choice for becoming the future king.

(From one of Amma’s beach satsangs)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did the end of Rama Avatar happen? How did Rama Rajya end?

According to Valmiki’s Uttara Ramayana, Rama ruled his kingdom from Ayodhya for 11 thousand years. The way he ruled his country was so prosperous, dharmic and wonderful that ‘Ramarajya’ as a word used to symbolize the best ideal of rule to emulate.

During Rama’s rule, all his subjects lead a virtuous life; there were no thiefs and there was no dacoity. There  was no enemy attack on the kingdom. Dharmas and shastras were the guiding principles of life. Rishis and sadhus were the leading lights of the society. There was no draught, no floods or other natural calamities.

After Rama ruled Ayodhya for 11 thousand years, Lord Yama (Lord of Time) came to meet Lord Rama in disguise at the king’s palace in Ayodhya. He wanted a total private talk with Rama on an important matter. Rama asked Lakshmana to stand outside the doors as a guard to prevent anyone from entering the room and gave a warning that whomsoever intruded into the room during the private discussions would be killed by Him.

Once alone, Lord Yama conveyed Lord Brahma’s message that since the purpose of Lord Vishnu’s Avatar as Rama had been over after annihilating Ravana and also His wish to rule the kingdom for 11 thousand years too was over, it was now time for Rama to return to His heavenly abode as Vishnu, if he so wished to leave his earthly divine play.

Rama agreed that he too preferred to return to his abode rather than continuing in this world.

As the conversation was taking place, Rishi Durvasa came to the palace and wanted to meet Rama urgently. When Lakshmana told Durvasa about Rama being busy on an urgent matter, Rishi Durvasa, known for his short temper and capacity to curse people, threatened Lakshmana with dire consequences if he was not allowed to meet Lord Rama.

Lakshmana had to yield. He went into the room to inform Lord Rama about the arrival of Durvasa. Rama bade farewell to Lord Yama and came out to meet Durvasa. Durvasa wanted Rama to feed him sumptuously as he was in extreme hunger after doing a penance for a long time by taking fasting as a vow. Rama arranged it immediately.

However Rama became woeful as he had to keep his word that he had uttered earlier (that he would kill any intruder during his private talk with Yama). Taking a cue from the scriptures that said that renouncing a person is equivalent to killing that person, Rama, with heavy heart said to Lakshmana that he was renouncing all the ties with Lakshmana.

Lakshmana felt that his end had come. He went to River Sarayu and stopped his breath and entered into samadhi. He left his mortal body; his soul which was one fourth part of Lord VIshnu returned to the heavenly abode.

Grief stricken Rama called all his citizens and ministers and announced his decision to relinquish the kingdom and retire to the woods so as to leave his life like Lakshmana. He asked Bharata to take over the kingdom of Ayodhya. The devout Bharata stoutly refused the proposal as he too wanted to accompany Rama.

Rama with his sons Lava & Kusa (A still from the film Lava Kusa)

As advised by Bharata, Rama gave the Southern Kosala portion of the Kosala kingdom to his son to Kusa and the Northern Kosala zone to his son Lava to rule.

The entire population of Ayodya had no desire to live after their beloved Rama was no longer the king. They too expressed their desire to follow Rama.

News was sent to Satrughna, who was by that time ruling the kingdom of Mathura. Satrughna too had no desire to live if his beloved brother was gone. He handed over his kingdom (Mathura and Vidisha) to his two sons to rule and rushed to Ayodhya.

Having heard the news, Rama’s erstwhile associates and well wishers — Hanuman, Sugriva and his vanaras (monkeys), Jambavan and the other bears, Vibhishana and his loyal Rakshasas came to Ayodhya. All of them wished to go with Rama when he exited the earth.

However, Rama blessed Hanuman and Vibhishana to be Chiranjeevi’s — ever living. He wanted Hanuman to enjoy the company of devotees of Rama wherever they sang the glory of Rama. He wished Vibhishana to keep ruling the his kingdom of Sri Lanka. He blessed Jambavan and his five associates to live till Kaliyuga.

Sugriva said he had given charge of his kingdom to his son Angata and had no longer any desire to live. All the monkeys too said so.

Thus Rama, followed by Bharata, Satrughna, their families and servants, the ministers, the vanaras, bears and Rakshasas and the entire populace of Ayodhya with their cattle and birds left the city and went to the River Sarayu, chanting vedic hymns. None of them had any worries and every one was extremely happy. Whomsoever saw Rama leaving, including animals and creatures gleefully joined him so as to ascend to the heavenly abode.

All the celestial Gods headed by Lord Brahma had assembled at the skies near the river Sarayu to welcome their Lord. They chanted hymns praising their Lord Vishnu and welcoming him back.

Rama requested Lord Brahma to allow all his citizens, followers and lovers including the animals and creatures who had served him with respect and devotion into the heavenly world. Brahma said that he would accommodate all of them unmindful of any sins committed by them into the region known as Santanaka, which was next only to Brahma Loka. He also said all those celestial beings who had earlier taken up various forms and descended to earth to assist Rama in his activities of the avatar would regain their original divine forms.

All of them headed by Rama joyfully immersed themselves in the waters of Sarayu, left their bodies and ascended to the higher worlds.

Amma Tells stories from Itihasas & Puranas – Part 1 (15 stories)

1.  Effect of Bad Company

[Amma: “Satsang (company with the holy)  is very important for us to develop the right mental attitude and to get awareness about what is right and what is wrong.  We should shun bad company. ] 

In the story of Ramayana, when the King Dasaratha took a decision to coronate Rama (his eldest son, born to his first wife Kausalya) as the king, a servant maid brought this news  to Kaikeyi, the third wife of Dasaratha.

At that time, Kaikeyi was in possession of such a good heart that she rewarded the servant maid with a diamond necklace when the maid brought the news. 

But Mandhara, the hunch-backed old servant maid of Kaikeyi, who was full of evil mindset was not happy to hear the news.   Mandhara stated giving evil counsel to Kaikeyi.  She said that once Rama became a king, he would not respect Kaikeyi;  that Kaikeyi’s own son Bharata would virtually become a servant of Rama and he would have no stakes to the kingdom; that Kausalya would become too proud and would not hesitate to humiliate Kaikeyi. All these evil counsel drilled into Kaikeyi’s ears by Mandhara finally made Kaikeyi to turn totally negative towards Rama.

Kaikeyi  made use of the promise of two boons offered to her long back  by Dasaratha at the present juncture and succeeded in forcing her husband Dasaratha to send Rama on exile to forest for 14 years and make her son Bharata as the King of Ayodhya.

That is the power of evil company.

2.  Rama – Hanuman war!

[Amma: “The mind is like a monkey. Like the monkey keeps jumping from branch to branch, the mind also keeps jumping from thought to thought. However, even the monkey-mind can be tamed through total surrender to God. Hanuman’s life exemplifies this. How, even in an extremely bizarre situation, this surrender can come to one’s rescue is understood through the following story of how Hanuman had to wage a war against his beloved God Rama.”]

Once a Rishi was doing his morning by standing in waist deep water in a river and was making his offering to God by taking palms full of water and rising his hand up. At that moment, a Gandharva (a celestial being) was flying over his head in the sky. Goaded by a sudden impulsive thought of mischief-making, the gandharva spat on the handful of water and flew away laughing.

The Rishi was very upset. He felt extremely angry over the gandharva for his objectionable act. He went to Lord Rama who was ruling Ayodhya and requested for punishing the gadharva. Sri Rama agreed to punish the Gadharva. He set out for waging a war with him.

In the meanwhile, the Gandharva, belatedly realizing that he had done wrong, sensed that he would have to face the wrath of the angry Rishi. He thought he needed protection from somebody very powerful. He went and surrendered to Anjana, the mother of Hanuman. Through his smart and persuasive  talking, he managed to get a promise from Anjana to get the support of Hanuman to protect him in case of any danger. Hanuman could not refuse to heed to his mother, as she had already given her promise to the Gandharva. He promised to protect the Gandharva in case he faced any threat from the Rishi.

When Rama came fully armed to attack the Gadharva, the later came running to Hanuman to seek his protection. Hanuman asked Gandharva to hide behind his body, and stood up fully charged to face the attacker. When he saw Rama as his adversity, he was totally taken aback. How could he fight with his own beloved master? At the same time, how could he go back on his word of promise?

Hanuman stood boldly in front of Lord Rama, fully determined to protect the Gandharva. When Rama asked Hanuman to handover the Gandharva, Hanuman politely refused, citing his promise. Rame had no option but to wage a war against his dearest devotee Hanuman. Rama took his bow and started shooting arrows against Hauman. Hanuman stood like a rock, with folded hands, chanting “Rama, Rama, Rama….” All the arrows that came to attack Hanuman took a U-turn, returned to Lord Rama, turned to flowers and fell at his feet!

Thus Rama stood there helplessly, overwhelmed by Hanuman’s staunch devotion to Him. Seeing this wonderful display of Hanuman’s determination coupled with devotion and the divine relationship that existed between Rama and hanuman, the Rishi decided to withdraw his request to Rama to punish the gandharva. The Gandharva too fell at the feet of the rishi and sought his pardon.

Amma: In a Sanskrit verse, Hanuman explains his relationship with Rama thus: “In the plane of duality, Rama is my master and I am his servant. When I am turned inward, Rama is the soul of my soul. In the plane of non-duality, I and Rama are one”.

(Tuesday Satsang 01.08.17)

3.   True study

Amma: The purpose of any learning must be to put them into practice in life.

When Pandavas and Kauravas were young, they were studying together in gurukulam, under the tutelage of Dronacharya.  Dronacharya taught them various dharma in addition to use of weapons. After giving them lessons for a while, he asked the disciples to study all the chapters he had taught so far well. The first chapter was on Kshama (Patience). After a few days, he asked Duryodhana the senior most boy of Kaurava whether he has studied the all chapters fully. Duryodhana said, “Yes master, I have studied it” and he recited them well. Others too could recite the lessons correctly.

When the turn of Yudhishthira came, he could recite just the first chapter well and then said “Master, so far I have studied the first chapter to a fair extent and as for the second chapter, I have not studied even that much as the first chapter ”. The Guru felt exasperated. Being a strict disciplinarian, Dronacharya picked up a stick and beat Yudhisthira strongly, saying “When Duryodhana can study all the chapters, why you have studied only two, that too the second chapter only partially? It means you are lazy and not serious in your studies. This is not good; I can’t accept it”. He beat him a couple of more times.

Yudhishthira with his face down,  was accepting all the beating without reacting.   After a while, Dronacharya felt bad for having beaten Yudhishthira who was a very nice and obedient boy.  He said, “I am really amazed to see your patience and forbearance, my son! You are a prince and you could have easily commanded some of your guards to stop me from beating you. Did you not get angry when I beat you so hard?”

Yudhishthira said, “Sir, actually, to tell you the truth,  I felt a bit angry when you beat me, but somehow managed to control my anger”

When he was saying it, the Guru’s eyes fell on the bunch of palm leaves that contained the lessons in the hands of Yudhishthira. The first chapter was titled  “Kshama” (Patience) and the first line in it was “You should be patient at all circumstances”.  In the second chapter titled “Truth”, the first line was, “You must always speak truth”.

Tears started flowing from Guru’s eyes. He held the hands of Yudhishthira and said, “You are indeed such a great person, Yudhishthira! Even I have not yet mastered the first chapter! How angry I became and hit you with the stick when you told me the truth! Indeed you have also mastered the second chapter too!”

(Tuesday Satsang 15.8.17 / Oliyai Nokki – Tamil -Part 2)

4.   To speak or not to speak truth

Amma: People from different countries with different cultural background come to Amma. Each country has its own dharma and laws; people of different countries have different samskaras. What Amma speaks in general are all based on what is followed in Sanatana dharma. When Amma is asked questions about what is right and wrong on certain social practices, Amma cannot openly say something that might be against the sentiments of people of other countries and origins. Amma will not thrust her view on others. Sometimes Amma feels herself to be in the situation of Sathyaavratha in the following story:

Once a king was ruling his country righteously and all his subjects lived happily under his rule. However the kind did not have any offspring to rule the country after his time; hence, desirous of continuing with his progeny, the king conducted yagnya (fire sacrifice) to pray to celestial Gods to bless him with a child. At the end of the ceremony, the king heard a divine voice that told him that as per destiny, the king was not supposed to have issues, but if he so wished, a male child would be born and he would grow up to be a rogue and an antisocial element in future.

Despite this warning, the king could not contain his desire for having a child and the wish was granted. Soon a male child was born to the queen. As the boy grew up, it turned out as predicted – the boy developed all undesirable habits and was utterly uncontrollable. He stole, did antisocial activities and committed murders. Every one hated him.  Since he was the prince, many people had to tolerate his atrocities. The king was exasperated with his behavior and he distanced himself from his son.

Only his mother was showing consideration for her son and all her efforts to advise him and bring him to the righteous path failed. At last, due to mounting complaints from the public, the king finally decided to excommunicate him from his country. As per king’s orders, the soldiers took him and discarded him in a wild forest.

The youngster roamed around the forest alone and he had to suffer from hunger. His life was extremely difficult as he had to protect himself from the wild animals and survive against all odds. Gradually he realized that all his suffering was due to his own making. He took a resolve to turn a new leaf; he took a vow that he would only speak truth for the rest of his life and spend his life in austerities to realize god.

Forest dwellers and hunters soon came to know of him and they found him to be a very nice person, always speaking truth and engaged in spiritual practices and following austerities. They named him Satyavratha.

Sayavratha built a hut for him inside the forest and was mostly seated there engrossed in meditation.  One day, a hunter was chasing a deer and he hit it with an arrow. The wounded animal came running and entered into Satyavatha’s hut to hide itself. Satyavratha saw the deer and he took pity on it. He wanted to protect it. Soon the hunter, following the trail of blood drops cane near Satyavratha’s hut.

Seeing Satyavratha standing outside the hut, the hunter asked “Has the deer that I shot with an arrow come here?”

Satyavratha kept quiet. The hunter asked again “Sir, please tell me the truth. I am a hunter and this deer is my food. I don’t know any other means to appease my hunger; please tell me where my deer is”.

Satyavratha was in a fix. On account of his change of heart and new way of life, he had become very compassionate towards all living beings. He felt that the deer, by entering into his hut, had sought his protection and it won’t be his dharma to allow it to be taken away by the hunter for his food. At the same time, due to his vow of speaking truth always, he could not tell a lie to the hunter too. He immediately closed his eyes and prayed to divine mother to help him in that tight situation. Divine mother’s grace came to him in the form of a sloka that Satyavratha uttered involuntarily: “What is said is not the truth and what is truth is not said”. Having said this, Satyavratha closed his eyes and went into meditation.

Hearing this, the hunter got confused. He was not sure whether the deer was there or not. He hesitantly left the place.

Amma: Sometimes Amma has to say something vaguely like Satyavratha so as not to hurt the sentiments of different people who come here!

(Friday  Satsang 18.8.17)

5.  God is closest

Amma: When feelings of me and mine are totally left and when one depends totally on God’s grace, God, who is present as indweller inside us showers us with grace.

In the court of Dridrashtra, Draupathi was forcefully brought after the Pandavas lost everything they possessed and owned to Duriyodhana in the game of dice, Duriyodhana ordered hie brother Duschathana to disrobe Draupati.  None of her 5 husbands could come to her rescue. Elders like Bhishma, Dridrashtra and Drona were sitting as mere witnesses, unable to stop the atrocity.

When Duschathana started to disrobe her by pulling her saree, Draupathi cried aloud for help tightly holding her saree over her chest. She understood that only Lord Krishna (who was then in the city of Dwaraka far away from Hasthinapuram) . She threw up her one hand skyward and cried “Oh Dwarakanatha, please come to my rescue”, holding her saree with one hand over her chest. Lord Krishna did not come.

Helpless and with total surrender she cried “Oh Krishna, my Hridaya natha (my indweller in heart), please save me from this humiliation”. She threw up both her hands skyward and prayed.

Instantly, her saree started growing. However much Duschasana pulled her saree, the saree kept on growing and he could not succeed in his effort to disrobe Draupati.

When Pandavas subsequently were living in the forest, lord Krishna visited them. At that time Draupati asked Krishna “My lord, when I cried out for you why did not come immediately for help? Why did you delay, causing me so much agony?”

Lord Krishna replied smilingly, “You thought that I was far away at Dwaraka by crying out “Oh Dwarakanatha”; Will it not take time for me to come all the way from Dwaraka? Further, you were in any case holding tight your saree with your hand, thus trying to protect yourself with your own effort. But when you called me out saying Hridayanatha by throwing out both your hands, I was just closeby at your heart to hear it and could offer instant help!”

(Tuesday Satsang 15.8.17)

6.  Effort should be put

Amma: One has necessarily put one’s best efforts without having attachment towards the results. Even Lord Krishna, who was the knower of past present and future did never shy away from making efforts knowing pretty well that his efforts would only be futile.

When all efforts of Lord Krishna to negotiate with Kauravas to get Pandavas their rightful share of land failed, the war became inevitable. Both the parties started seeking supports of various kings to take part in the war at their side.  

Krishna knew well that Karna (who was the king of the country Angha) had an unshakable loyalty towards Duryodhana; Krishna knew that Karna was a very powerful warrior and if at all he could be made to disassociate with Kauravas, it could be very advantageous for the victory of Pandavas.

Krishna wanted to make an effort to speak to Karna and appeal to him to switch sides. As the all-knowing Krishna was aware that Karna was the eldest son of Kunti (the mother of pandavas); Karna was abandoned by Kunthi immediately after his birth as he was born of her association with Sun God due to her childish act to test a boon she had received from a saint.

Krishna knew that Karna was indeed a great valor and had all the potential to oppose the mighty Arjuna; he had obtained a few divine missiles that could potentially cause grave threat to Pandava’s success in the war.

Krishna felt that by virtue of being the eldest brother of Pandavas, Karna too deserved some protection from getting annihilated in the war.

So, Krishna went to meet Karna. He explained to him about his birth and the fact that he was the eldest brother of Pandavas. He emphasized the need to be on the side of dharma and pointed out the evils ahead of him on account of his association with the unrighteous Duryodhana and his brothers.  He also offered him kingship of Hastinapur (instead of Yudhishthira) once Pandavas succeed in the war, which was sure to happen.

However, as Karna’s loyalty towards Duryodhana and enmity against Pandavas were so strong that he rejected Krishna’s proposals.

Lord Krishna later said “It is not that I didn’t know Karna would surely reject my proposals. However, it is my duty to make every effort to wean Karna from the association of the evil Kauravas and give him a chance to mend his ways and turn to the side of dharma.”

7.  What we speak and do have their repercussions

[Amma: Awareness is very important in facing life and its experiences.What we speak and do have their repercussions; hence we have to be very watchful].

In Mahabharata, the Kauravas came to Indraprastha, the newly built capital of Pandavas’ kingdom. Pandava’s palace had been a creation of the celestial Architect Mayan and it was a wonderful and magnificent creation, containing many intricacies and magical beauties.

In some places, the flooring looked as if it is a pond containing water. In some places, what looked like a floor was actually a pool of water! The surroundings looked as if they were creations of a dream.

Lead by their elder brother Duryodhana, the hundred Kauravas were walking around the palace wonderstruck by its grandiose.At one place near the flower garden, they saw what looked like a swimming pool. When they readied themselves to jump into it learned to their surprise that it was just a flooring and no water was there.

They walked further to a place where there was really a swimming pool that looked like normal floor. They fell into it and got drenched. Watching them from the upper quarters and seeing their predicament, Panchali, wife of the five pandavas laughed loud.  Hearing her laugh and looking up, the Kauravas felt very ashamed and humiliated. Their heart filled with rage as they thought that Pandavas had intentionally invited them to show all their grandior and make fun of them and humiliate them.

These happenings added fuel to their envy and anger burning deep in their hearts against the Pandavas. Thus the laugh of Draupadi in a way lead to the Mahabharata war and caused unsurpassed destruction at the end.

8.  Fruits of Karma and surrender

[Amma: “While the effects of past karma are bound to come back to you as fate, it is not the one cannot do anything about it. Instead of being proud of your strengths and capabilities, you should rather humbly surrender to God and seek His grace to face the effects of karma. Only by surrendering to God, you can get His protection. Surrender is nothing but humility and faithful devotion. When you humbly fall at the feet of God, the effect of your karmas would not attack you easily. Humble surrender is the only way to escape from Karma’s reactions”].

Amma will tell you two incidences from Krishna Avatar to highlight this point. Both the incidences took place during Kurukshetra war.

When Dronacharya, the teacher of Archery to Pandavas and Kauravas was slain in the war, his son Ashwatthama became extremely angry. For having killed his father by treachery, he wanted to annihilate the pandavas. He had the powerful Narayana Astra with him that he launched against the Pandavas.

Narayana Astra was extremely lethal. Spitting fire, it came across the sky, producing multiple weapons on its way. The weapons killed thousands of soldiers on its way and the missile was advancing towards the Pandavas.

Lord Krishna knew how to tackle Narayana Astra. He ordered Pandavas and their soldiers to drop all their weapons and prostrate on the ground. The nature of Naryana Astra was that it would not kill those who surrender to it.

But Bhima was very proud of his prowess and felt it was infra dig for him to drop his weapons and surrender before the enemies weapon. He wanted to fight it out with his astras. Instead of heeding to Krishna’s advice, he stood straight and started verbally abusing Ashwatthama. The astra approached fast towards him showering fire all around.

Sensing the danger that Bhima was facing, Krishna and Arjuna rushed towards him and pleaded to him again and again to drop his weapons and surrender, but Bhima would not listen.

Finally, with no other alternative left, Krishna and Arjuna forcefully stripped Bhima of his weapons and pushed him to the ground. The Narayana Astra retracted without attacking Bhima.

[Amma: “Children, in this story, the Narayana astra represents the fruits of our actions; even great warriors like Bhima cannot escape its attack. Only by surrendering one can really escape. It was lord Krishna’s intervention that protected Bhima from destruction and his pride and power could not come to his rescue. It is by obeying the Guru and God that one can get protection from the evil force of fate.”]

The second incidence in Kurukshetra war is the head-on fight between Arjuna and Karna.

Karna, at a crucial time of the fight, was having an upper hand over Arjuna. With an intention of chopping off Arjuna’s head, Karna sent out his powerful Shakti missile. Lord Krishna, who was the charioteer of Arjuna noticed it.  In order to save Arjuna, Krishna pressed the footboard of the chariot with his toe. Unable to withstand this pressure, the horses kneeled down and the the wheels of the chariot too dug into the earth. The arrow that was aimed at Arjuna’s neck now hit Arjuna’s crown and took it away instead of Arjuna’s head.

[Amma: “Children, there are several things to be learned from this story.  First of all, God Himself was Arjuna’s charioteer. It happened so because Arjuna was full of faith and surrender to Lord Krishna. Earlier, before the commencement of war, Krishna offered his army on one side and Himself  without taking up arms on the other side, leaving Arjuna and Duryodhana to make their choice. Arjuna was given the first opportunity. He immediately chose Lord Krishna to be on his side. It was such a trust and surrender that made him a true recipient of God’s grace. It was this grace that protected him against Karna’s shakti astra.

Further, Arjuna was a great warrior, but he was not as fierce as karna. Arjuna represents human effort where as Karna represents fruit of Karma. Arjuna (human effort) alone cannot protect himself from Karna (fate) without Krishna’s (God’s) grace”.]

9.   Put your effort, grace will come

[Amma: “In  one’s spiritual sadhana, every little effort helps to get closer to the goal and become recipient of divine grace”]

When Lord Rama was building a bridge across the seas to go to Lanka for rescuing Sita,  a squirrel wanted to contribute to the holy mission in whatever way it could do. He dipped himself in sea water to make his body wet, rolled over the sand and then shook his body at the construction area to deposit whatever sand sticking to his body. He kept on doing it again and again.

Lord Rama noticed what the squirrel was doing. Out of deep compassion, he took the squirrel in his hands and ran his three fingers affectionately on its back. The legend goes that this caused the three patches on the squirrel’s body and by this show of his love for the effort the squirrel put for a good cause, the entire future generations of the squirrels got the three-line marks on their bodies.

10.  The story of Valmiki before he became a saint

Valmiki Rishi, who wrote the Itihas Ramayana was a dacoit in his previous life before he became a saint.  His name was Ratnakaran. He was a forest dweller.

He used to way-lid people travelling across the forest paths and take away all their possessions at knife point. He had no qualms about wounding or even killing people.

One day a group of travellers including a few sadhus were travelling across the forest. Ratnakaran stopped them on the way and threatened to kill them if they did not part with all their possessions. The sadhus, who were not afraid of such a fiery dacoit, spoke to him softly: “Why are you doing such a heinous crime? Don’t you know that stealing and killing people would get you sin and you will have to suffer its evil consequences in future?”

Showing some respect to the sadhus, Ratnakaran said, “What to do? This is the profession I know; I have my family to feed and take care of; this is what I have been doing all along to for the sake of my family.”

The sadhus said, “If your family members are being benefited all along by the earnings you bring by robbery, will they be sharing the punishment of your sins too in future? Will they take up your sins and save you?”

Ratnakaran was confused. He did not know what to reply. The sadhus said, “Please do one thing; before taking away all the possessions of these people, you go back to your family and check with them whether they are willing to take up your sins too; we will wait for you till you come back and tell us their response. Don’t worry; we are sadhus and we will keep our word. We will not run away from here, but wait till you return”.

Ratnakaran agreed. He rushed to his home and told his family members what happened. He asked: “Will you not share the punishments for my sins too, since I have been doing the crime of stealing and killing people as part of my dacoity?”

His parents, wife and children — all said: “No, no! Why should we share your sins? Did we ever tell you that you should feed us only by engaging in dacoity? As a householder, it is your duty to take care of all of us and it is upto you to choose whatever means to earn your livelihood. You chose dacoity and we will never share the sins you have acquired.”

Ratnakaran was shocked and shattered. He felt how thankless his own kith and kin were for all the hardship he had undergone to take care of them.

He went back to the place where the travellers were waiting for him. With his head hung in shame, he went and told the sadhus that his family members had refused to share his sins. “Revered sirs, please tell me what to do now; my eyes have been opened by you. I understand it is foolish to keep stealing and looting when my own family members don’t acknowledge my evil acts”. He fell at their feet and cried.

The sadhus took pity on him. They said, “It is time for you to develop dispassion on worldly life and think of God; it is by taking up God’s names in your lips and constantly chanting it will you get purified of your sins and attain God”.

“I don’t know anything about God or his name” said Ratnakaran.

The sadhus thought for a while and said, “As a forester you know the tree called ‘Mara maram’. (Amma said, as per folklore,  ‘Aa maram, ee maram‘ in Malayalam meaning “that tree and this tree” as the mantra given by the sages). Just keep on repeating the tree’s name incessantly. That will do”. They blessed him and the caravan passed along.

Ratnakaran went to a secluded place, closed his eyes and started chanting “Mara maram” (aa maram, ee maram). As the chanting continued incessantly, it turned out to be “Ram Ram Ram Ram….” . Thus, the most powerful mantra automatically entered into the mouth of the unlettered forest dweller through the grace of the sadhus.

Ratnakaran, by divine grace, soon went into deep trance in chanting the mantra day in and day out, sitting at the same place, forgetting food and drink. Soon and anthill got formed around his body and over days and months, his whole body got covered by the the anthill (known as Valmikam in sanskrit).

Through this severe tapas (austerity) Ratnakaran received the divine vision of Lord Rama.  He became a realized sage and came out of the anthill. That’s how he got the name Valmiki. In future, he came to know of the story of Lord Rama from Sage Narada and then wrote the epic Ramayana.

11.  The story of Vishwamitra

Vishwamitra, before he became a great sage, was a king. Once he went to a forst with his soldiers for hunting. After engaging in hunting for long, he and his team got very tired.He knew that saint Vashishta’s hermitage was in the near vicinity in that forest. He wanted to go there and relax for a while. Hence he visited the hermitage with his soldiers.

Sage Vashishta welcomed them all very cordially. Vashishta had a divine cow called Nandini that can produce whatever the sage wished. Vashishta, through the divine power of Nandini got a rich feast produced and served the king and his soldiers sumptuously to their fullest satisfaction.

Vishwamitra was amazed to see the power of Nandini. He felt that such a divine cow should rightly be with the king of the country since it can benefit lot of people, whereas for a saint like Vashitha living in a forest, needs were minimal. The king conveyed his intent to Vashishta and the sage was neither in favor nor against the demand. He told the king to take Nandini, if the cow was willing to go with him.

But the cow Nandini was not inclined to go with the king. When the king commanded the soldiers to forcefully take the cow, Nandini instantly produced several warriors and they fought the king’s soldiers and defeated all of them.

Vishwamitra, in a fit of rage, thought that the sage Vashishta had instigated the cow Nandini to fight against him. He challenged Vashishta to fight against him and he started shooting powerful weapons against Vashishta.  Vashishta stood smiling, keeping his yoga danda (wooden staff) in front of him. All the astras (divine missiles) sent by the king that came to attack Vashishta got absorbed by the danda of the saint.

Vishwamitra exhausted all his weapons and stood there totally defeated.  He felt greatly ashamed and insulted. He understood that his mighty powers as a king and possession of powerful astras could not just stand against the yogic powers and austerities that a rishi possessed.

Boiling with rage, he returned to his palace. The only thought occupying his mind was that he should take revenge on Vashishta. He understood clearly that in order to achieve it, he has to acquire divine powers by undertaking severe tapas (austerities).

He relinquished his kingdom, went to a forest and undertook severe penance with a single motive of avenging Vashishta.

After undergoing severe austerities for long, he was blessed with divine powers. With that, he went and challenged Vashishta but he was defeated again. Again, he undertook much more severe austerities and did penance for longer duration and each time he lost his gains of austerities by exhausting them in challenging Vashishta and getting defeated again.

He also gained Siddhis (powers to perform miracles) and once out of vanity to display his prowess, he tried to create a new heaven too; even this effort was motivated to oppose Vashishta. In the process exhausted his powers once again.

However, across time, gradually there came a change in his mindset. He succeeded in eradicating his egotism and anger ; he left behind the attitudes of ‘I and mine’; he got rid of his ambition revenge against Vashishta. Finally He succeeded in getting Self-realization and attained the status of Brahma Rishi, equivalent to that of Vashishta.

[Amma: “In this story, we should specifically observe two aspects. First we see the greatness of Vashishta. He was a self-realized sage having all the divine powers at his command, but he was totally egoless. Even when Vishwamitra humiliated and attacked him on umpteen occasions, he did not hate Vishwamitra. On the contrary, he appreciated Vishwamitra’s determination and final spiritual attainment.

Second aspect of this story is how Vishwamitra was totally opposite to Vashistha in his conduct and character at early stages of his spiritual quest. Despite receiving lots of divine powers and siddhis on account of his severe austerities, his mind was full of hatred against Vashistha.  That’s why it took such a long time and effort for him to attain spiritual perfection.”]

12.  Urmila’s sacrifice

[Amma: “Our ancestors have taught us how important it is to appreciate and acknowledge the good deeds done by others. In one of the versions of Ramayana, the following incidence has been narrated.”]

Urmila was the wife of Lakshmana. She was full of love and affection towards her husband. When Rama was in exile at the forest for 14 years, Lakshmana chose to go with elder brother in order to serve him. He left his loving behind and was separated from her for 14 long years. While Rama’s wife Sita managed to go to forest with her husband, Urmila did not get the chance to do so.

Urmila spent lonely days and nights, sulking the pangs of separation from her dear husband for such a long period. It was a great sacrifice indeed.

Rama, Lakshmana and Sita returned to Ayodhya after 14 years.

One day Rama walked towards the private quarters of Urmila. Lakshmana, by chance, happened to notice Rama going there. Without Rama knowing, Lakshmana followed him at a distance. When Rama went inside, Urmila was sleeping in her bed. Without making any noise, Rama, with folded hands, circumambulated the bed 3 times. Then facing her foot, rama did a full bodied prostration to her on the floor. Seeing such an act of humility in Rama, Lakshmana could not control tears flowing from his eyes.

Later Lakshmana asked Rama why he did so.  Rama said, “Urmila deserves my full respect and appreciation. I have no words to describe her great patience and sacrifice; I wanted to express my indebtedness to her in some way. I also wanted to do it in a way she would not know, because if I try to do so openly, she would never permit me because of her reverence to me. Hence I showed my respects to her while she was sleeping”.

12.  Where Rama is, Kama can’t be

[Amma: “Where there is pure love, lust won’t be there. When Rama is there, Ravana cannot exist.”]

When Ravana abducted Sita and kept her confined in the Ashoka vanam, he tried in many ways to lure Sita to yield to his lust. But he failed miserably in all his attempts. Sita was there chanting her lord Ram’s name all the time. Her mind was totally immersed in Ram.

Even though Ravana was a heartless demon, his wife Mandodari was a good natured woman who was very obedient to her husband and she wished for his happiness always. She wanted to cheer Ravana and she suggested ways to lure Sita to her husband. She said, “My lord! You have the divine power to take any form you like; you better take the form of Rama and go to Sita. She will immediately yield to you”.

Ravana replied: ” The moment I take the form of Rama, all the lust in my mind gets wiped out. Then what is the point in approaching Sita in that form?”

13.  Mayuradhvaja’s  sacrifice

[Amma: “Desireless love, compassion, patience and sacrifice are some qualities that should become part and parcel of our lives. Coupled with unwavering faith in God, a person who lives by such values based on spirituality will be ready to forgo even his own life in order to hold on to his convictions. Let Amma narrate a story from Mahabharta:”]

As a prelude to conducting Ashwamedha yaga (horse sacrifice) the Pandavas sent a horse all over India. Any king that welcomed the horse into his land was understood to be subservient to Yudhishthira (The eldest son of Pandavas and the king of Kuru Kingdom) acknowledging him him to be the emperor.

If any king tied the horse, it was an indication that he was not conceding to the emperorship of Yudhishthira and he was ready to wage a war.

King Mayuradhwaja was a great devotee of Lord Krishna. He was full of virtual qualities. He had deep knowledge in scriptures and he was very respected for his qualities of compassion and sacrifice. When the sacrificial horse came to his country, he caught hold of it and tied it.

Arjuna was following the horse with a huge army. He got ready to fight the war against Mayuradhwaja. However, Lord Krishna was not in favour of Arjuna fighting with Mayuradhwaja. Krishna wanted the Pandavas to understand the sterling qualities of Mayuradhwaja. He also wanted to subdue Arjuna’s pride about his power, valor and devotion to Krishna.

At the advice of Krishna, Arjuna agreed to accompany Krishna to meet the king, with both taking up the disguise of brahmins. When they went to the king’s court, Mayuradhwaja received the brahmins with respect and extended warm hospitlity to them. He arranged a grand feast for them. Before partaking the food, Krishna narrated a concocted story about his life.

“Oh, great king! When myself along with this friend were passing through a forest in order to come here and meet you,  ferocious tiger came and caught hold of my friend’s only son who accompanied us.  The tiger dragged the boy’s body away swiftly and was soon out of sight. Grief stricken, both of us went in search of the tiger; finally when we located it, it had already eaten half the body of the boy.

Seeing our sorrow, the tiger took pity on us and and it promised to return the son back to us alive and full, if we did something….”

Krishna stopped his narration and expressed hesitation to state what the tiger wanted. THe king became very anxious to know what happened further; he pressed Krishna to revel the tiger’s demand. Krishna said, “I am sorry to state this O king; the tiger actually wanted half the body of the purest person in this country and we know it is none other than you, the king of this country! Think of it, O great king, if we promise the tiger to give what he wanted, this brahmin will get back his only son alive; however, how can we make such a selfish appeal to you, the most revered king of this country that people adore so much!”

Hearing this story, the king, without any hesitation, came forward to offer half of his body with pleasure. Once the feast was over, the king lied down and asked his son and wife to cut his body into two using a saw. The son and wife obeyed. Holding the saw on either side, they started cutting the king’s body along the length to right and left halves.

The two brahmins were watching it wonderstruck.

At that time, Lord Krishna noticed that the king’s left eye was welling up with tears. He said, “I could see that your are crying; it means that you are offering your body unwillingly.What is donated unwillingly shedding tears cannot be received by me as gift”.

The king said, “Revered Brahmins, If I am indeed giving my body unwillingly, will I not be shedding tears from both the eyes? Only me left eye is shedding tears because, as you require only half of my body, the auspicious right side will be taken by you, by discarding the left side; As the left half of the body is not useful for a noble cause, the left eye is shedding tears as it is a misfortune”.

Hearing this, Lord Krishna revealed his divine form to King Mayuradhwaja and blessed him with everlasting bliss and peace. Arjuna felt very humbled seeing the greatness of the King Mayuradhwaja. Bowing to Krishna, the king also extended his friendship to Arjuna and magnanimously agreed to be subservient to Emperor Yudhishthira.

(From Arulmozhigal-4 Tamil)

13.  Krishna’s duplicate

[Amma: “Spiritual seekers must be extremely watchful about their ego.  If they are gripped by desires of fame, recognition, appreciation etc., their behavior itself may undergo change. They may even start acting foolishly to gain fame.  When people happen to adore them and respect them, they start believing that they are really great. They think that unless they behave in a particular style, others may not respect them and this way, they start acting foolishly. Even if a well-wisher advices them or warn them of their deviant behavior, they would refuse to heed. Do you know the story of Paundraka Vasudeva, who acted like Krishna?”]

When Lord Krishna was living in Dwaraka, Paundraka Vasudeva was ruling his country called Karusha. He was very much attached to his kingly status. He wished that his subjects should worship him like God. He and the king of Kashi had developed hatred against Lord Krishna and they considered him their enemy.As Krishna was worshiped as God by the people of Dwaraka, they were extremely jealous of Him.

Gripped by burning desire for fame, Paundraka Vasudeva schemed a plot against Lord Krishna along with the king of Kashi. They declared that Krishna of Dwaraka was not an Avatar but only Paundraka Vasudeva was the real Avatar of Lord Vishnu.

Hearing this, people in his country said that if it were indeed true, then Paundraka must be sporting four hands and bear Shanku, Chakra, Gadha and Lotus in his hands. In the meanwhile, Paundraka himself started believing that he was the avatar of God. He wore two hands made of wood on his shoulders and carried Shanku, Chakra etc. He also made a Garuda Vahanam (Eagle vehicle) out of wood. Since this wooden Garuda could not fly, he arranged a chariot to carry the Vahana. He his wife dress up like Goddess Mahalakshmi. They would sit in the wooden Garuda and the chariot would be driven around his country. Thus Paundraka Vasudeva, the ‘avatar’ of Vishnu would bless his people along with his divine consort!

People laughed at these antics of Paundraka. They thought he might have been mentally deranged.

Even in his country, there were several people who were devotees of Lord Krishna. They felt very hurt to see their king acting lunatically in the guise of an Avatar. But they could not do anything about it directly. Hence when the king came on his rounds, they talked loudly in a way he could hear: “Ah! Our king really looks like Krishna! However, a few things seem to be amiss.  He is not wearing a crown adorned with the peacock feather; he is not carrying the flute like Krishna; Krishna is dark in color while our king is not. Since our king is the real avatar, Krishna of Dwaraka has no right to have Shanku and Chakra. Our kind should demand from Krishna to surrender them to him, since these are divine symbols”.

Paundraka heard his people talking like this and soon, some royal family members close to him too started talking in the same tone. Hearing this, Paundra started painting his skin in dark blue color. He dressed himself like Krishna; though he knew nothing of flute, he started carrying one! At times, he imagined himself to be Krishna and at times, to be Vishnu.

He did not stop at that. He sent a messenger to Dwaraka with a warning message: “You cowherd! You are a fake avatar while I am the true one; You have no business to keep the Sudarshan Chakra and all the other divine symbols. Unless you return them to me, the real owner, you will get killed by me in a war”.

Hearing this message, Krishna smiled and said, “It is fair; I must return those divine symbols to him. Please ask your majesty to come in person and collect them from me”. Krishna decided to teach a lesson to the arrogant Paundraka.

Upon receiving Krishna’s message, Paundraka decided to meet Krishna and he proceeded to Dwaraka along with his army. Krishna was waiting for him. When he saw Krishna, he said, “You, the fake one! Never try to play with me with your tricks and maya. Better return to me all your divine symbols, or else get killed in my hands!”

Krishna came forward to wage a war with him. In the war, He annihilated the entire army of Paundraka. Finally, sporting his Sudarshan Chakra in his little finger, Krishna said, with a mischievous smile on his face, “Here comes my Chakra, Oh Paundraka! please collect it!” and sent it across. The wheel swiftly charged towards Paundraka and sliced his head. He fell dead on the battle field.

Thus Krishna decimated Paundraka’s pride, arrogance and desire for fame.

(From Arulmozhigal-4 Tamil)

14. The real Sacrifice

[Amma: “A true sanyasi has no attachment otr sense of possession to things under his custody. He could disassociate himself from anything. But a householder cannot easily have such a sense of detachment. However, he should strive to develop such and attitude always. With all the pressing problems, conflicts and responsibilities in a family life, the householder too can strive to attain inner peace.  Many of our ancient rishis were only grihasthas (householders). They could do it. We can also do it if only we strive for it. Amma will narrate a story from Mahabharata to explain how an ideal house holder should be:”]

After Mahabharata war, Yudhishthira, the eldest son of Pandavas and the king of Hastinapur conducted a grand yagnya. He gave countless gifts to the poor and needy, physically handicapped people, brahmins and vedic scholars. All who had gathered were served with delicious and sumptuous food for many days and it ws done with lots of care, respect and dignity.

People praised the king for his generosity and dedication. When the yagnya was going on like this, a mongoose came to the yagnja sala (The place where fire sacrifice rites are done).  It had a strange and different look. While half of its body looked normal, the other half was glowing with a golden hue.  The mongoose came and rolled over the floor of the yagnya sala here and there for  while. Then addressing the priests and brahmins, who were conducting the ceremonies, it spoke “Respected Brahmins, please listen to me. I don’t find this yagnya as great as the one conducted by an impoverished brahmin family I knew of”.

Hearing this the brahmins and priests got agitated. They retorted angrily: “How dare you find fault with this grand yagnya where we have conducted everything strictly as per norms; all of us are quite erudite in our field of knowledge and we are quite sure we have done everything perfectly as per scriptural guidelines, if you are so confident to find fault with the yagnya and if you are better knowledgeable than us, please explain what is wrong and we will accept if it is true. Now tell us what you saw in the Brahmin’s yagnya that you saw”.

The mongoose started narrating his anecdote:

“Once there lived a poor brahmin’s family, consisting of his wife, son and daughter in law. They lead a life of simplicity and austerity. Even if they had enough provisions, they would only eat a single meal a day, that too consisting of plain cereals.

Once a great famine gripped the country. Rains have totally failed and even grass and shrubs did not sprout.The brahmin’s family could not get anything to eat on many days. One day, the brahmin managed to get some grains of paddy. His wife pounded the grains to get flour,  made the flour into four equal parts and the family sat to eat it. Just at that time a guest knocked at the door.

Even under such a pitiable condition of poverty and hunger without having food for a few days, the Brahmin welcomed the guest into the house with respect. He washed the visitor’s legs and offered a seat to sit. He respectfully invited the guest to have food with them. The brahmin gave his share of flour to the visitor and said, “Sir, please pardon me; I have nothing else to offer to you except for this lowly handful of flour; please be kind enough to accept it”.

The guest too was apparently starving for days and he hurriedly ate the flour. Within no time, he finished it and begged the brahmin to give him some more as his hunger was hardly appeased with that little flour. The brahmin was at a loss as to what to do. He had sacrificed his share already and he knew how the other family members too are starving for days. How could he ask them to sacrifice their dire need for the sake of the guest. He thought of seeking excuse from the guest, even though he felt very bad about the inability to serve the visitor.

At that point of time, his wife came forward willingly to offer her share of flour to the guest.  The guest ate it too and still could not feel satiated.  Now the son came forward to give his share. Finishing it, the guest still looked eagerly if he could get some more to eat. Without any hesitation, the daughter in law came forward to give her share and asked the guest to eat it.

Surprisingly, the guest said, “No. What I had is enough”. Looking smilingly at all the four, the guest said, “You have successfully passed the test I did on you. Your conduct gives me immense pleasure; in order to hold the grahasthasrama dharma (the right conduct prescribed for householders) in its highest esteem, you have all come  forward to sacrifice even your life. When gripped in hunger, one normally loses right thinking and right action. But even when you are about to die in hunger, the way you all demonstrated sacrifice and determination caused me great wonder and satisfaction. Those who conquered hunger have already got a place reserved for them in heaven. Now I al taking you all to heaven!”

Thus saying, the guest revealed his true form; there stood the Lord of Dharma in his glorious divine form. A celestial chariot instantly descended from the skies. The lord took all the members of the Brahmin’s family in the chariot and ascended to heaven.”

After narrating the above incidence, the mongoose continued, “I was present in the Brahmin’s house when this incident took place and personally witnessed all the happenings. When the Lord and the family ascended to heaven, I went to the spot where the guest was sitting and eating. I noticed some flour fallen on the floor there.  I rolled over that place; I was surprised to notice that the half of my body which was touched by the grains of the flour became  golden in color!

“From that day onward, I have been gripped by a desire to make the remaining portion of my body also to look like gold! Hence I made it a point to visit all the places where yagnyas are conducted because these places are known to be locations of great sacrifice. I used to roll over such places where the rituals are conducted. I have not been successful in making the other half of my body golden so far. I could not find a single place where the greatest of sacrifices are being done by great emperors, but none could match the sacrifice of the poor brahmin family!”

(From Arul Mozhigal-4 Tamil)

15.  The devotional love of Vidura’s wife

Vidura was the brother of the blind king Dhritarashtra . Vidura was also a minister of Dhritarashtra. Once Lord Krishna came to Hastinapur to meet the king. He had agreed to visit Vidura’s house to partake his lunch.

Vidura’s wife was virtually floating in air for she felt so blessed to receive Lord Krishna as her  beloved guest. She had made all arrangements to give a warm welcome to her lord. After making sure that everything was fine and ready, she went to take bath.

Unexpectedly, Lord Krishna arrived at her house much earlier than the scheduled time. The matter was conveyed to Vidura’s wife who was in the bathroom. She hurriedly finished her bath, wrapped herself up in a saree and came running to receive her beloved Lord with a chaotic excitement.

She offered a seat to Krishna and rushed to the kitchen to bring the food for Krishna. She wanted to feed a banana to Krishna with her own hands. Krishna understood her desire and nodded to her to do do it, by opening his mouth. She came close and looking at the beautiful face of Lord Krishna  she removed the skin of the banana. She was dazed by the captivating eyes of Lord Krishna; instead of feeding the fruit into his mouth, she absent mindedly fed the skin of the banana into his mouth!

Lord Krishna sensing her emotional condition and her guileless nature, joyfully ate the skin, reciprocating her love as if he too forgot himself!

(From Arul Mozhigal-5 Tamil)