First we must understand that the real aim behind following Dharma (justice, righteous worldly conduct) is only to please the Lord. The Lord is protector while Dharma is the protected. The protector is greater than protected. When it comes to all actions in the world (i.e. actions concerning other souls), you have to reject injustice and vote for justice (dharma). This is the realm of pravrutti (worldly conduct). Pravrtti means essentially egocentric actions. These actions should be done in a righteous way without harming or causing injustice to other individuals. Thus unjust actions are avoided in favor of just egocentric actions.
However when it comes to the Lord, even dharma or justice has to given up for the sake of the Lord. This is the realm of nivrtti. In case of nivrtti however, the Lord competes with justice and you have to reject dharma in favor of the Lord. The Lord is above dharma and should be understood as such.
Our knowledge of dharma is very myopic. What appears dharma to us may actually be adharma (injustice) and vice versa. Based on our limited understanding of dharma, we try to judge the actions and justice of the Lord. Most people do not have the patience and sensitivity to understand the actions of the Lord and end up blaming Him. There are certain subtle aspects of Dharma (Dharma suksma), which may appear like injustice to the common man. Only after deep analysis can one understand the Dharma suksma. Most people are unable to carry out this analysis. The stealing of butter by Krisna in Gokula is an example of the above.
Butter indicates the stored wealth of the cowherds. It is the fruit of their work, which is the money. This entire world is the wealth of the Lord. You are expected to take wealth from this world to satisfy your minimum needs. The rest, you must donate back to the Lord who is in the human form. He will distribute it to His devotees for their upliftment. If you earn extra wealth and store for your future generations due to your greed, the Lord will steal the wealth and distribute it among His devotees. It is actually His Own wealth that you claim to be yours.
Similarly He danced with Gopikas who were actually sages in their past births. They had prayed to Him for His Divine Love in His incarnation as Rama in their previous birth. The Lord was pleased with then and had sanctioned their wish to be fulfilled in His next incarnation as Krisna. Thus Lord Krisna was fulfilling the boon given by Him to His devotees.
The Gopikas who won the test of Datta are called as Siddha Gopikas. The Gopikas who were defeated are called as Sadhaka Gopikas. The former went to Goloka and the later were reborn on the earth. The Puranas are replete with stories of the Lord in different incarnations of the Lord coming in human form and destroying the demons and evil doers of the world. Yet the main reason for Swami (the Lord) to come down as a human incarnation is to preach divine knowledge and not merely to kill demons. If killing demons alone is not enough reason for the Lord to incarnate and come to this world since even His servants and disciples are capable of killing demons.
Kataviryarjuna who was a disciple of Datta could have singlehandedly killed the evil Ravana. So killing Ravana was not the primary reason that Lord Rama had to come to earth. Lord Rama came to the forest for the sake of sages. In His incarnation of Rama, He did not make show off any super powers. Super powers are trivial from His point of view. Even the sages had super powers. Yet they treated Rama as a king or their protector. The sages were great no doubt, as they had given up all comforts, left the towns and lived in the forest in seclusion. However their family bonds were in tact since they stayed in their asramas along with their families. Even sages are liable to fall prey to blind attachments. Sage Vyasa had infinite blind love for his son Suka.
Egoism and jealousy are the two sheaths that cover one's eyes and obstruct the recognition of the human form of the Lord. Therefore the sages could not fully recognize Rama. Only Sabari and Hanuman could recognize Rama as the Lord. When the sages were reborn as Gopikas during the incarnation of the Lord as Krisna, some of them recognized the Lord after He showed His super powers. The Lord then gave them divine knowledge through the songs played by His flute.
Sabari served Lord Rama and gave Him fruits without aspiring for any thing in return. She was therefore rewarded. She attained Brahmaloka (the highest heaven). Some of the sages believed that Rama was the Lord and served Him like Sabari but they prayed to the Lord to protect them in the upper world. Thus their service was tainted by expectation. Therefore the results they got for their service and the result that Sabari got for hers differed. You must note that you will lose the highest fruit even if you have done service, if you do not have the right attitude. Some people do service but do not have the attitude that Swami is the Lord. They are unlucky because they lose everything just due to the lack of the right attitude.
Some Gopikas gave butter to Lord Krisna because He was a beautiful boy. Some other Gopikas gave butter to Him because He was the son of their ruler (Nanda). These Gopikas lost the highest fruit because of the defect in their feelings. Some Gopikas gave butter to Krisna, fully realizing that He was the Lord. They were given Goloka (the highest of the upper-worlds). All the Gopikas donated the same butter but the fruits were different because of the difference in attitudes. Krisna tested the faith of even the Gopikas who believed Him as the Lord. Some liberated souls live with their families, but are not mentally bound to them. Some other souls live with their families and claim that they are mentally detached. They dream that they are liberated souls. They only on the 10th step but imagine that they are on the 100th step. The tests of Datta reveal the truth to them so that they can realize their real place.
People need not be afraid of the troubles and losses that they have to suffer in the tests of Datta. These troubles are nothing but the fruits of their own sins, which have to be suffered and exhausted by them even if Datta were not testing them. Thus Lord Datta does not put you through any extra losses and troubles in order to test you. Instead of merely suffering the fruits of sins, it is better to suffer the fruits of sins as Datta's tests because they will be spiritually useful. If you are really detached in the mind, you would not hesitate to prove it externally. The physical loss of things and persons will not affect you. In fact, external detachment is very easy compared to the internal detachment. External detachment is the physical separation or loss of things and persons dear to oneself. People give up their wealth, relationships and even lives for so many reasons other than God that there is nothing extraordinary in it. However internal detachment is very difficult to achieve. Once this is achieved, external detachment is not important. However for those who have not achieved internal detachment but erroneously think that they have, The Lord tests them by making them give up physically (external detachment). Pretenders will be debunked and those who are really detached will not mind the physical loss anyway.
Many Gopikas failed in the tests of the Lord. Krisna put them in situations in which they had to choose between Him one hand and their husbands, children and wealth on the other. Their choice proved their real loyalty and commitment. In such tests those Gopikas realized that they were not completely detached. A detached soul will never fear. Gopikas feared the breaking of their bonds with their families and wealth. Krisna never wanted to destroy their families. He only wanted to destroy their family bonds. The Lord is the protector of His devotees. Will He destroy their families? Some Gopikas, who did not understand this lost faith in Krisna. They were angry with Him thinking that He was an ordinary human being. They thought that He was tearing apart their families. They were afraid of losing their families and their relationships. Why should they have feared the tearing apart of their family if they had fully recognized Krisna as the Lord? Why should they have feared anything at all? He alone, is the Protector of the whole Creation including their family. Those Gopikas were defeated due to their lack of firm faith. The few Gopikas who passed this test of putting the Lord above their families and wealth were subjected to final test (Rudra Pariksha). Most of them utterly failed in this test. Very few could succeed this test.
A soul consists of three qualities of satva (purity, knowledge), rajas (activity, passion) and tamas (inertia, ignorance). These three qualities are inherent in creation. Thus each individual has good as well as bad qualities which are a combination of the above three qualities. Thus jealousy is inevitable. This ghost of jealousy grows in your heart and swallows your love for the Lord. Even devas (celestials, gods) could not escape this ghost then what to talk of human beings?
One day Bhima, the Pandava prince, was recounting to his younger brothers, the defeat of Lord Krisna at the hands of the mighty and evil king, Jarasandha. Krisna had run away from Mathura when Jarasandha attacked the city. Bhima was repeating this story over and over again. His implication was that he (Bhima) was greater than Krisna because he, and not Krisna, had killed the dreaded Jarasandha. Dharmaraja, the eldest of the Pandava brothers, sensed Bhima's insinuation and immediately rebuked Bhima. Bhima had not insulted Krisna directly because he was a devotee of Krisna. However his innuendo was the result of this hidden ghost of jealousy. He did not know that Krisna, who is the Omniscient Lord, not only understood where Bhima was coming from, but that He also enjoyed the insult; in fact He was fond of insults.
The Lord was bored with His eternal victory over everything in Creation. Therefore by His will alone, He got insulted. Bhima did not realize this. Lord Rama fell unconscious in battle by the Nagastra (a dreaded weapon) released by the demon prince, Meghanada. Rama was insulted here. Hanuman brought Garuda, the Divine Eagle from the heavens and got Lord Rama released from the spell of the weapon. Hanuman never narrated this incident to anybody because He always desired only the victory of Rama and not His defeat or discomfiture. It is jealousy that makes one feel elated in other's defeat. One cannot attain the grace of the Lord unless ego and jealousy are completely removed.
There are different stages in the devotion to the Lord. Initially the Gopikas gave butter to Krisna secretly and sold only the remaining butter in the market in Mathura. They lied at home to cover for the loss of butter. They told that the butter was sold at a reduced rate. They were hiding the love of the Lord secretly in their hearts. The word Gopi means a soul, which hides the divine love (gopayati iti gopi). This is the first stage.
However in the next stage, the devotee should rebel against the family members if they obstruct his love to the Lord. Krisna made the secret sacrifice of the Gopikas known in their houses. He told their family members that they had been giving butter to Him. The family members objected to this and obstructed the devotion of the Gopikas to Krisna. Most of the Gopikas could not rebel against their families and were defeated. They did not like to hurt their family members for the sake of the Lord. This means that their love for the Lord was not complete and their detachment from the family bonds was also not complete. They were under the false notion that their love for the Lord was sublime. Actually it was not even as much as the love that they had for their families. These Gopikas came to understand real place in the spiritual path.
By this test, the Lord helped their family members also. Till then the family members were thinking that the respective Gopikas loved them (family) only. So the family members too had blind love for the Gopikas who were their wives, daughters or mothers. Once the love of Gopikas for Krisna was known, their blind love for the Gopikas was reduced. Thus they (the family members) were also partially liberated from their bonds. The Lord wanted to help all the souls and not just the Gopikas.
Why did the Gopikas not have the highest love for the Lord? The reason was that the Lord was constantly present with them. Continuous association brings negligence and fading of love. This is the reason why the Lord left Vrindavanam and never returned back. He transferred only the Yadavas (the Yadava clan) of Mathura to Dvaraka when He moved the capital of His kingdom from Mathura to Dvaraka. However he did not transfer the Yadavas of Vrindavanam to Dvaraka. These people, which included the Gopikas, had to stay in Vrindavanam. When the Gopikas were far from the Lord, their love for Krisna reached a climax. When Krisna was in their village, living with them, they were always quarrelling with Him and were complaining to His mother about His pranks. When He left and never returned back, they became mad in love for the Lord.
The three qualities of satvam, rajas and tamas represent Brahma (Creator), Visnu (Sustainer) and Siva (Destroyer of Ignorance). All the three qualities are equally pure. Maya of the Lord, which is the source of Creation, contains all three qualities and yet is sublime. The so called bad qualities in Creation are the rajas and tamas qualities which are part and parcel of His Maya. Thus the bad in the Creation is not really bad as we think it is. They are in fact pure if exhibited by the Lord or exhibited by a devotee in order to approach the Lord. In any case the Lord is beyond both Maya and the three qualities. All the three qualities are impure and bad when they are diverted to the world.
Some people slip from their faith in the Lord when they see the rajas and tamas (bad qualities) in His Maya. Krisna and any human being are similar as far as the external human body made of five elements and the internal awareness mixed with three qualities are concerned. In Lord Krisna, the extra component is the presence of the Lord, who is recognized by His super powers, which were exhibited through the body of Krisna. It is only due to these powers, that the difference arises. Any power can never be independent. It must have a source. Therefore the Lord who is the source of this power definitely exists in Lord Krisna. If one realizes this concept, he will never fail in the tests of Datta.
The Lord is not the external human body. The body is like a shirt to Him. Neither is He the internal awareness, in which the three qualities are mixed. The internal awareness only constitutes His inner shirt. A human being consists of these two shirts only. Krisna, the Lord, wears these two shirts and is different from them. However since you are in a human body made of five elements, the Lord comes to your plane with a similar human body. If it had not been for this there would be no way that a human could recognize God or interact with Him. When the soul of an individual which is made of energy (luminous body), leaves this human body and goes to the upper world the Lord comes in that plane with a luminous body such as., Visnu. You must recognize the Lord in your own plane. If you cannot recognize Him in your plane in this world, you cannot recognize Him in your plane in another world either. The same egoism and jealousy, which obstructed you here, will also obstruct you there in the upper world. Conversely, if you recognize the Lord here, you can also recognize the Lord there.
The salvation here is called 'jivanmukti' and the salvation in the upper world is called 'videhamukti'. Human rebirth is so rare that it is impossible to get without the grace of God. Becoming spiritual is even rarer. Even if you are born as a human being and develop spiritual interest, finding a Sadguru (The Lord in human form) is extremely rare. If you see Him but not recognize Him, it is your misfortune. If you recognize and lose Him by doubt, there is no end to your misfortune.
(At this point Swami sang the following song spontaneously:- )
I am going to Mathura. I'll never come back to Vrindavanam
O Gopikas, farewell to you. You live with your families here.
You say that you have only the one single bond with Me.
But when not a single family bond is cut, how can you stand my tests?
The pig can never come out of its mud pit.
I came down to this world on the request of Goddess Anagha.
I have preached divine knowledge.
Only those who practice it can be liberated!!
Those who believed in Me ever and those who suffered for My sake
They alone can follow Me to Brahmaloka.
The pretenders will be striken off My list.
The many pranks of Gopala which vexed the Gopikas,
The sweet songs of Muralidhara while dancing in Vrindavanam,
The powerful preaching of Parthasarathi in the battlefield,
I remember now all the words of the Lord of Mathura.
The smiles of Govinda who lifted
The Govardhana mountain on his fingernail,
The tandava of the Gopalbala on the head of Kaliya,
The dance of Nirajaksha with the fluttering peacock feather in His crown
I remember now all the songs of the Lord of Mathura.
The smart gait of Vasudeva with His dazzling golden cloth,
The words of the messenger of Pandavas as His tulasi garlands swayed
The roaring laughter of Narayana while showing the Visvarupam,
I remember now all the games of the Lord of Mathura.
The beauty of Madhusudana while blowing His conch, Pancajanya,
The anger of the wounded Chakrapani as He rushed against Bhishma,
The deep pain of Dvarakapati for the weeping Radha in Vrindavanam,
I remember now all the words, songs and games of the Lord of Mathura.
The Visvarupam is the Cosmic Form of the Lord. Lord Krisna showed this terrible and magnificent form to Arjuna on the battlefield of Mahabharata. You must understand the spiritual essence of Visvarupam in which the entire creation became the body of Lord Krisna. The Lord 'becoming' the whole world essentially means that He is not biased about a particular place or time or a limited number of persons called family. He has the same attachment to every place, every minute and every human being in the world.
When you go to office you are anxious to come back to your house because your mind is limited to your house only. When you leave your town and go to another town you are anxious to come back to your town. Similarly you think about the Lord only on a particular holiday. When all the illusion about place, time and particular human beings disappears and when you treat all the places, all the days and all the human beings as equal, you can also be said to have a Visvarupam. Unless this stage is achieved you cannot get the power of the Lord. If you see Lord Krisna, He killed His own uncle (Kamsa) and got His own nephew (Abhimanyu) killed in battle. He acted with absolute fairness and justice. He did not make any allowances for his kith and kin. He gave each person what he deserved, based on his past deeds. He gave life to the son of Sandipani and gave immense wealth to Sudama. Sandipani and Sudama do not belong even to the caste of Lord Krisna. Krisna was Narayana (Lord Visnu) and Narayana is Siva. Visnu and Siva are only two external forms of the Lord. The only son of Narayana was Manmadha, who was burnt by Siva. This means that the same Narayana in another 'dress' called Siva burnt His own son. Thus the Lord is totally detached and is indeed Visvarupam.
On the other hand, Arjuna was not ready to fight with his relatives even though they were unjust and evil. The same Arjuna had earlier fought valiantly with several kings when the Rajasuya sacrifice was performed. Therefore Arjuna had the illusion of human relations. He discriminated between 'his relatives' and 'outsiders'. He had no problems in fighting with 'outsiders' who were unjust. However he would not have the heart to fight and kill his own relatives when they unjust. If you can inculcate even a little of this great virtue that is exemplified by Lord Krisna in the Visvarupam, in your practical life, you can become a part of Lord Krisna. Without such practice what is the use of meditating upon Lord Krisna with mind and chanting so many hymns in His praise. You can get the grace of the Lord only by the sacrifice of work (karma samnyasa) and by the sacrifice of the fruit of work (karmaphala tyaga; sacrifice of wealth). You can get food from a restaurant either by payment (karmaphala tyaga) or working in the restaurant for some time (karma samnyasa). Except for these two ways, you cannot eat the food by any other way such as by merely meditating upon it or by chanting prayers and hymns in praise of the food. This is the real essence of Visvarupam.
4. You said that Duryodhana intended to start the Mahabharata war on amavasya (new moon) after consulting astrologers but Lord Krisna brought the amavasya one day earlier by joining the sun and the moon, and forestalled Duryodhana's plans. This story about the amavasya is not found in the Mahabharata and therefore has no claim to authenticity. How can you then justify it?
I have taken this story, which is well-known among the scholars of the world. The essence of this story is that the Lord is beyond all the planets (astrological planets and heavenly bodies) and that He is the controller of the planets. Therefore the Lord is above astrology. This concept is found in the Veda. The Veda says 'Natatra Suryo Bhathi, Bhishodeti'. The Bhagavad Gita also says the same (na tat bhasayate). Therefore the essence of the story is important and not the story itself. The Mahabharata is now one-lakh twenty five thousand verses long. Originally Vyasa wrote only seven thousand verses under the name 'Jayam'. The rest of the verses were added on by scholars in later times. This expanded version of the epic is called 'Mahabharata'. Therefore the authenticity of your assertion based on the present version of the Mahabharata is highly questionable.
The author (Sage Vyasa) of the Mahabharata is also the author of the Bhagavad Gita. The Bhagavad Gita is Brahma vidya or Divine knowledge. It is the essence and the main reason behind writing the whole story. Therefore the peripheral stories in the Mahabharata cannot contradict the essence of the story which is mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita. Even if you say that your view is authentic in that it can be traced back to the original writings of Vyasa, it (Mahabharata) is still only a Smriti or a secondary scripture. My viewpoint concurs with not only the essence of the Mahabharata but also the Vedas (Sruti) which are the primary scriptures. The Smriti can never contradict the Sruti. The Smriti merely corroborates and demonstrates the teachings of the Veda. In case of a contradiction, the word of the Sruti alone prevails. Thus my story which agrees with the essence of both the Mahabharata and the Vedas (Sruti) holds. After all it is the essence of the story that is important and not the details.
5. According to the Valmiki Ramayana, after the war Lord Rama asks Sita to marry Bharata or Vibhishana and become the queen. Later on, He also left Sita when one of His subjects talked ill about her and called her characterless. Is this justified on the part of Lord Rama?
You people can never understand the Lord. You view Lord Rama as an ordinary human being. You are prejudiced because you are a lady and you sympathize with Sita (the person who posed this question to Swamiji was a lady). If you analyze carefully, Rama did a favor to Sita in these two incidents. If you read the Sundarakanda of the same Valmiki Ramayana, Sita says this "Oh! Rama! You will go to Ayodhya and you will marry several ladies since you are the king I will die paining for you" (Piturnidesam..). Lord Rama had vowed to not marry any other woman. His love for Sita was sublime. Sita was well aware of that. Yet in her pain of separation from the Lord, Sita committed a sin by abusing the Lord with those words. That sin was washed away by the Lord when He spoke similarly about her that she should marry Bharata or Vibhishana and become queen.
In the Aranyakanda when the Lord Rama killed the demon Marica, who had disguised as a golden deer, the demon, while dying, cried for help imitating the voice of Lord Rama. Sita, thinking that her husband, Rama was in danger wanted to send Laksmana for His aid. When Laksmana refused to leave her alone for the sake of her safety, she scolded Laksmana as a characterless person, who was attracted by her and therefore would not leave her even though his brother was in mortal danger. Laksmana was not just the brother of Lord Rama but his ardent devotee. Abusing the devotee (bhagavat apacara) is a greater sin than abusing the Lord (bhagavat apacara). Sita had incurred this sin unknowingly. As a result similar blame was cast on Sita by the washer-man who called her characterless. Thus Sita was punished for her sin.
This happened by the will of the Lord. Since Sita was punished here itself, she could go directly to Vaikuntha (heaven). Otherwise she would have to go to hell to suffer the result of the sin before going to Vaikuntha. Sita was the incarnation of Mahalakshmi and so it would not be proper if she had to go to hell. Rama cleared her account on earth itself, so that she could ascend to Vaikuntha directly.
Sabari proved her real love for the Lord by sacrifice. Her whole life was a continuous sacrifice. She did not bear on formalities. In her eagerness to serve the Lord with the best possible fruit, she tasted each fruit and offered only the sweetest ones to the Lord. She did not even realize that it is not appropriate to offer food that has been tasted to someone else. Her heart was pure and overflowing with love for the Lord.
When Rama went to sages, they gave Him fruits with all formality and the correct traditional flourish. When Lord Rama was done eating the fruits only then did the sages take the leftover fruits for themselves. They observed only formality but their devotion was lacking. Sabari's love for Lord Rama was beyond formality. Therefore real love is above all the traditional and ritual formalities. Lord Rama rewarded such true love.
A) The Lord is pleased by the spiritual values of the aspirant and not by nationality, religion, caste, age or sex. The real spiritual value is sacrifice. The sages had all the external indications of a spiritual aspirant such as the robes of a monk, a long beard, matted locks, deerskin for meditation, danda (staff), kamandalu, performance of the fire ritual, possession of the sacred darbha grass and so on. They were constantly occupied in chanting Vedic hymns and mantras. However the Lord was not impressed by any of this. Although they lived in forests, they were living with their families and were attached to their families. Detachment from family bonds and sacrifice for the sake of Lord are the real certificates that truly qualify you to be selected by God. Sacrifice comes in three degrees. Accordingly there were three types of Gopikas:
1) Some thought that they would rather give butter (the sum of all the wealth of cowherds) to their family and not to Krisna.
2) Some thought that they would rather give butter to Krisna instead of their family but only as long as their family members were not aware of it. When the family members discovered that their butter was being given to Krisna, they objected. As a result, the Gopis stopped giving Krisna.
3) Some Gopis continued to give butter to Krisna even though their family members were opposed to it. These Gopis were prepared to go to any limit to favor Krisna even if it meant going against their family.
The blind love (moha) is responsible for forming several bonds with family members. All such bonds should be crushed. The entire moha should be instead diverted to the formation of one infallible bond; the bond with the Lord. The first step is moksha (liberation) and the second step is kaivalyam (oneness with God). Say, images of ten parrots are molded from a kilogram of sugar. Moksha consists in breaking all the ten images of parrots and recovering the one kilogram of sugar. Preparing a single big swan with that one kilo of sugar is kaivalyam.
Sabari and Hanuman excelled in both detachment to family as well as sacrifice for the sake of the Lord. Therefore they were given salvation. The Lord was not impressed by the external show of spirituality of the sages because they concealed their attachment to their families. Therefore they were not given moksha.
The whole life of Rama is simply based on action or karma yoga. He was an incarnation of Lord Datta. Datta represents practical sacrifice. Lord Rama sacrificed his kingdom (wealth) and sacrificed His beloved wife. He never gave long speeches or expressed strong emotions. He was always silent; almost like an idol which does not express any feelings. He controlled His tongue and mind and concentrated all His energy in practical sacrifice alone. This is the highest stage in the spiritual sadhana.
Hanuman also emulated Lord Rama's behavior. He participated in the work of Rama without much words or display of feelings. Both of them concentrated only on action. Hanuman did the service of the Lord with perfect silence and perfect control of mind. Rama also never praised Hanuman to the skies or expressed any loud feelings for Hanuman. He only silently embraced Hanuman when He returned to Ayodhya after completing His work. When Rama and Hanuman embraced each other, Hanuman submitted the complete report of the work silently and Rama gave Him the post of the Creator in the next cycle of Creation, silently. It was almost like two smugglers exchanging their boxes silently in a movie. Thus the message of Sri Rama is the essence of spiritual sadhana.
Nowadays spiritual sadhana has degenerated into a mere display of words and feelings and no action. It is said that Rama is the taraka i.e., the Lord with whose help you can cross this worldly ocean. Again the meaning of this is that you should concentrate on action and not on words and feelings. Thus for all Indians who are experts in sacrificing mere words and feelings to the Lord, Sri Rama is a very useful incarnation.
Sita is the divine consort of Lord Rama. The word Sita means the straight line marked on the field during ploughing. Sita indicates the ordinary soul, which follows the rules and regulations of the prakruti (Nature). The marriage of Sita with Rama indicates the soul following the human incarnation in this world. When Rama went to the forest in exile, Sita followed Him. This means that even if the Lord subjects the devotee to a lot of trouble, the real devotee never leaves Him. The wealth and miraculous powers of Ravana did not attract Sita. This indicates that the devotee of Datta cuts his bond with wealth and is never misled by the super natural powers exhibited by demons and devils. Sita represents the perfect devotee of Datta. Laksmana left his wife for the sake of the Lord. Bharata left the wealth for the sake of the Lord. Satrughna was prepared to kill the mother of Bharata and thus he left Dharma (righteousness) for the sake of the Lord. These three devotees indicate that the devotee of Datta cuts his bond with wife (kama or desire), with wealth (artha) and with justice (Dharma).
Sri Rama is the embodiment of salvation (moksha). Rama indicates that the human incarnation of the Lord is the only path for the human beings to salvation. Rama again indicates that the super natural powers are not the identifying characteristics of the Lord because He never exhibited the super natural powers. Often times, incarnations of the Lord do not exhibit miracles. If the Lord proves Himself by exhibiting the super natural powers, everybody in this world will fall at His feet. In such situation a real devotee cannot be distinguished from a fraud devotee. When the Lord in human form does not display miracles and behaves as if He were an ordinary person the faith of the devotee is tested.
Rama also indicates the practical knowledge, which alone is the true path and not mere words and feelings. Thus Rama indicates the true goal as well as the true path in spirituality. If Rama and Hanuman are understood, there is no need of any other spiritual knowledge.
Lord Rama followed Dharma (righteousness, justice) and was unparalleled in that. Due to this, Dharma (the deity of justice) thought that he is greater than the Lord. So the Lord in the form of Lord Krisna flouted Dharma several times. Dharma was thus chastised for his vanity and he realized his mistake. Dharma then followed Lord Datta as a cow, as a mark of submission.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krisna has said, 'sarva dharman parityajya, which means that the Lord is greater than Dharma. As Lord Rama practiced the spiritual path maintaining a silent and controlled His mind. He indicated the yoga in which the energy wasted through words and feelings can be preserved. This energy can be and diverted and concentrated in action (service). Krisna indicated the other path. He sang and danced and played the flute. He preached through words (the Bhagavad Gita). He showed lot of love in the form of feelings in Vrindavanam. He indicated that if the energy is thus wasted through words and feelings, one cannot do any action. Therefore He did not participate in the war and took the help of Arjuna to do the divine work of destroying evil and injustice in the world. At the same time He destroyed all the evil enemies by His guidance and advice (mind and words). This path is valid only for the Lord and not for the ordinary souls. An ordinary soul cannot expect to indulge in the pleasures and comforts of life and still hope to follow the spiritual path. The energies of an individual soul are limited. For ordinary souls, yoga is the path in which all the energy wasted in words and feelings should be controlled and diverted in the work only. This was exemplified by Hanuman.
Radha became mad in the love of the Lord and also died subsequently. Madness and death are the two last stages in the devotion (unmado maranam tatah). This highest state is possible only for one in millions. Such mad love for Him is not granted by the Lord but is attained by your own spiritual effort. Karma samnyasa and karmaphala tyaga are for the people who live in this world without such madness.
11. Indra (the king of gods), who was infatuated with Ahalya, came to her in the disguise of her husband, Sage Gautama and deceived her. When Sage Gautama came to know that his wife had cheated on him, he cursed her. Is that not unjust? Although she cheated on her husband, she was totally unaware of it. Her husband (Sage Gautama), alone was on her mind. Therefore her mind was pure. If her mind was pure, how could she have sinned? Ahalya was the daughter of Lord Brahma. When Indra once visited Lord Brahma she fell in love with Indra. Lord Brahma and Sage Narada, however, gave Ahalya to Sage Gautama in marriage. When Indra came in the disguise of Gautama, Ahalya identified Indra correctly, as told in the Valmiki Ramayana (devarajam tu vijnaya). Therefore Ahalya had actually sinned. Sage Gautama knew all this by his super natural powers and his curse was justified.
This entire story gives us a lesson that when a girl is to be married, her mind should be known. The parents should not force any girl into marry someone against her wish. There is a similar story in which, the princess Rukmini was in love with Lord Krisna. Her parents and brother had fixed her marriage with the evil Sisupala against her wishes. The Manu Dharma Sastra (the scripture containing the duties and responsibilities and code of conduct of an individual in society) says that a marriage is not completed by promise (engagement) and not by reciting the ceremonial hymns in the marriage ceremony. The marriage is completed only when the marriage takes place according to the wishes of the girl. (vaca datta mantra datta mano dattaca kanyaka).
People give their daughters in marriage as if they were cows, land or gold. This is wrong according to the Dharma Sastra. These two stories also give the same message. The story of Ahalya was told only to preach the right knowledge. We should not think that Lord Brahma and Narada were ignorant in deciding the marriage of Ahalya to Gautama. They enacted this drama only to preach the right knowledge. If Indra had enjoyed Ahalya in disguise without her knowledge, Ahalya would not have deserved since her mind was not involved. Any karma (action) cannot bring fruit unless the mind is involved. Thus when Sita was touched by Ravana, Sita was not polluted because her mind was not involved. Renuka on the other hand, saw the handsome Citraratha on the banks of river Narmada and got carried away. Her mind was polluted. She did not even touch the person. Yet Parasurama cut off her head and she was punished. Therefore the sin is not in the deed but in the mind. The punishment is only for the mind and not for the deed. In case of Ahalya, her mind as well as her body were polluted by her act. Therefore Gautama cursed her and he was justified in doing so.
In the third chapter of Bhagavatam (Skanda), Kapila, the incarnation of Lord Visnu, preaches to His mother 'Devahuti'. In the same chapter it is stated that Lord Visnu was born as Kapila to Devahuti. Kapila describes to His mother, the ideal devotee of the Lord. The devotee of the Lord is only interested in serving the Lord. Kapila says "Other actions (for their own personal gain and satisfaction of desires) do not interest My devotees, who are engaged in My practical service even though the other actions may fulfill their desires. A devotee should not indulge in worshipping idols, which represent Me. If a devotee neglects Me in the human form, and worships idols instead, he is the biggest fool. If a person burns food and ghee (clarified butter) in the physical fire in the name of yajna (ritual sacrifice), he is also a fool. Living beings are better than the inert idols. Among living beings, My devotee, who serves Me alone giving up everything and everyone else, is the best. The Lord will come in the human form (jiva). The devotee worships Him through yoga. Yoga or karma yoga means 'service' as per the Bhagavad Gita; karma yogena yoginam. A devotee who thus serves the Lord, will reach the Lord". This is the gist of the preaching of Lord Kapila on bhakti yoga or the path of devotion.
If you read the story of Markandeya, it may appear that Lord Siva was overcome with anger and killed Yama, the Lord of Death. Then after some angels pleaded to Him, He realized His mistake and rectified it by bringing Yama back to life. This story tarnishes the divine personality of the Lord. It looks as if the Lord acted in haste and anger. Later on when other wise ones advised the Lord, He rectified His mistake. Such an absurd interpretation arises when the background of this story is not understood. Yama is like an officer on duty in the cosmic administration of the Lord. Lord Siva killed him because His devotee, Markandeya was affected. According to the Law of karma, which is established by God Himself, the devotee of the Lord should be protected. Yama had broken this law.
Previously, Yama had to take the life of Satyavan. However when he went to take the life of this young man, Satyavan's wife Savitri stopped him. She pleaded to Yama to spare the life of her husband. She praised Yama and begged for his mercy. Vanity entered Yama. He thought that he had power over the life and death of individuals. He forgot that he is a mere servant of the Lord. He spared the life of Satyavan. In doing so, Yama had violated his duty of taking away the life of Satyavan at the pre-destined time.
In Markandeya's case, Markandeya was praising Lord Siva at the appointed time of his death. Yama insisted on going about his duty by taking away the life of Markandeya even though he was praying to the Lord. Had Markandeya been praising Yama at that moment, perhaps Yama's action would have been different. Clearly this partial behavior was unbecoming of an officer such as Yama. Therefore Lord Siva taught him a lesson. If Yama had been impartial and had gone about his duty in the case of Satyavan, in spite of the supplications of Savitri, the Lord would have not interfered in the duty of Yama in case of Markandeya.
When the background is realized, it is obvious that Lord Siva's action was impeccable. Lord Siva gave Markandeya as the son to Mrukandu. Markandeya was in fact an incarnation of the radiance of Lord Siva. The whole story of Markandeya was created by Lord Siva only to teach Yama.
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