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)