Atamdev, one brahmin was living in the village, near Tungabhadra River. Atamdev was pure hearted person, but his wife, Dhundhli was quarrelsome and cruel lady. Atamdev had no child. Because of that he was miserable. One day, he decided to commit suicide and proceeded towards the river. He met there one saint. The saint asked him reason for sadness. He said, he has plenty of food and wealth but there is nobody to enjoy it. Hence, he has come here to commit suicide. Saint told Atamdev, it rather blessing. Almighty want everything should be done through you. Son is a form of sorrow. Atamdev sought blessings for son because son is necessary for moksha. Saint explains that for the protection of the generations, one should do good work. Shradha (annual rites done after death) can only facilitate to get better next life but it cannot provide moksha. Rather if you offer yourself to almighty, it will bring well-being to you. But Atamdev insisted saint on getting son otherwise he will commit suicide. Then saint gave him one fruit and asked to give it to his wife. After eating the fruit by his wife, she will be blessed with a son.
Atamdev came back home and gave the fruit to his wife to eat. Dhundhli started fallacious arguments instead of eating fruit. She thought by eating fruit, she will be pregnant and therefore miserable. Bringing up the child will get greater misery. She fed the fruit to cow and played as she is pregnant. Later she brought the son of her sister pretending that he is her son. Dhundhli named her son as Dhundhukari. The cow gave birth to human son with big ears. He was named as Gokaran. Both boys grew up.
Gokaran was wise but Dhundhukari was wicked, adulterous and remained un-clean. Dhundhukari indulged into five prostitutes. He was not observing trikal Sandhya. Atamdev was feeling guilty for his son and thought he was better without son. Dhundhukari expended entire wealth and started beating his parents. Looking all this, Gokaran came to Atamdev and preached about vairagya (dispassion). He told, it is better that he should leave attachment of wife & son and go to forest for bhakti. Atamdev went near to river and started meditation for 10-12 hours a day. He was fully absorbed into almighty. By studying tenth skanda of Shrimad Bhagwat Purana, he got moksha (liberation).
Dhundhukari started earning through illegal means. He stole jewelries from king’s palace and handed over to prostitutes. Prostitutes thought, if Dhundhukari remained alive, they would be captured by king. King would take away entire wealth and may punish also. Hence, it would be better to kill Dhudhukari. They tried to kill him by hanging but he did not die. Later, they stuffed his mouth with hot coals and he died. When Gokaran heard about death of Dhundhukari, he went Gaya and did pinddaan (Shradha). On return to home, Gokaran heard voice of weeping. Gokaran asked, who is weeping and why such condition. Ghost told that he was his brother and has become ghost after death. Gokaran asked despite performing shradha, how is he continuing as Ghost. He decided to ask Suryanarayan Bhagwan the remedy. Suryanarayan Bhagwan informed
Gokaran that by Shrimad Bhagwat Katha, he can be get liberation. Gokaran arranged seven days Shrimad Bhagwat Katha. Dhundhukari also came listening to the katha but could not get place to sit. Then he entered into a stick with seven knots. Every day, one knot was breaking. On seventh day, last knot was also broken and the ghost got moksha.
Spiritual Significance explained by Dongra ji Maharaj –
Shri Shrimad Bhagwat Rehsaya by Shri Ramchandra Keshav Dongra ji Maharaj
It is believed “Avatar” or divine descendent refers to the Supreme Divine taking a brief human form for his own purposes, which are considered to refer to the welfare of the world which is His own creation. Potentially, Jiva in every being is in the sense an Avatar, which is best expressed by the Mahavakya, Tat Tvam As.
Bhagwan Vishnu have already incarnated on earth 23 times, while the 24th avatar is yet to be known as 'Kalki Avatar'. Out of these 24 avatars, 10 avatars, called as Dashavatar, are considered to be the main incarnations of Vishnu. This is Matsya avatar, Kurma avatar, Varaha avatar, Narasimha avatar, Vamana avatar, Parashuram avatar, Rama avatar, Krishna avatar, Buddha avatar and Kalki avatar. Of all the Avatars, Shri Krishna alone is considered a Purna Avatar, a direct and complete representation of the Supreme Divine Himself.
Matsya a Fish, Kurma a Tortoise, Varaha a Boar, through Nrsimha, a half-lion Man, making a transition to the human sequence of Vamana, Parasurama, Rama, Krishna and Kalki making the ten accepted by the Vaishnava tradition.
Stories of 24 Avatars are as under:
Raja Janaka is popularly known as the father of adopted daughter Ma Sita who married with Shree Rama son of Raja Dasratha of Ajodhya. Raja Janaka is called Videha i.e. due to non-attachment to material possessions. He was king of Mithila (or Videha) kingdom in 8th or 7th century BC. Its capital is believed to be either Janakpur (in present-day Nepal), or Baliraajgadh (in present-day Madhubani district, Bihar, India). He was intensely interested in spiritual discourse and in his court had rishis such as Yajnavalkya. Yajnavalkya is credited for coining Advaita (non-dual, monism). He wrote texts such as the Yajnavalkya Smriti, Yoga Yajnavalkya and some texts of the Vedanta school.
The Episode of 1000 cows
Once, Raja Janaja announced a debate among Vedic scholars on the topic “Truth” and kept an award of thousand cows whose horns were tied with ten gold coins. Yajnavalkya asked one of his pupils to drive these cows to the house.
Asvala was the hotri priest of Raja Janaka. He questioned him, whether he treat himself best knower of the truth. Yajnavalkya said, “I prostrate myself before the greatest knower of Truth, but I am desirous of the cows. I have taken the cows because I wanted the cows. Asvala commenced the debate on “concept of Truth”. Thereafter, a number of sages raised questions to Yajnavalkya. These sages were Arthabhaga, Bhujyuh Lahyayani, Usasta, Kahola Kaushitakeya, Uddalaka Aruni, Gargi Vacaknu and Vidagdha Sakalya.
During the course of debate, Yajnavalya explained the various aspects of “Non-dual self and Material creation, sense organs, forms of gods, death, yajna, Self-Realization, Self-Surrender etc. and won the debate.
Source: The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
The spiritual Concepts enlightened by Rishi Yajnavalya:
5. Absolute consciousness or Brahman - One who inhabits within the earth, air, water, fire, sky, heaven, sun, moon, stars, dimensions of universe, ether, darkness, light, all beings, sense organs, mind, intellect etc. but these does not know who controls from within, that is the Internal Ruler, your own immortal self. These are name and form only. The Internal Ruler or Self alone is the only True Knower; The Absolute Self is the Eternal Witness. The Self has no form but all forms are the Self. It is above heaven and below the earth, It is this heaven and earth as well as between them, and It is pervaded by the “un-manifested ether” (unformed) eternal "ether" (Absolute eternal knowledge).
6. Attributes of Brahman - Yajnavalkya describes the formless Absolute Brahman in terms of Neti-Neti i.e. "not this, not this". It is neither gross nor minute, neither short nor long, neither red color nor oiliness, neither shadow nor darkness, neither air nor ether, unattached, neither savour nor odour, without eyes or ears, without the vocal organ or mind, non-luminous, without the vital force or mouth, not a measure, and without interior or exterior. It does not eat anything, nor is It eaten by anybody. Under the mighty rule of this Immutable, the sun and moon are held in their positions; under the mighty rule of this Immutable, heaven and earth maintain their positions; under the mighty rule of this immutable, moments, Muhurtas, days and nights, fortnights, months, seasons and years are held in their respective places; under the mighty rule of this Immutable, some rivers flow eastward, others flowing westward continue in that direction, and still others keep to their respective courses.
7. Ignorant - One who is ignorant of the Non-Dual Divine may perform all proper duties to his gods, such as accepting the austerities of his cast or duties, making offerings and so forth but "such acts" are "perishable".
10. Self-Surrender - Surrendering one-self without further desire means remaining at rest with Absolute Consciousness. Surrendering to the Absolute is the true way one "conquers further death".
Samundra Manthan during journey of life
The mythological episode of Samundra Mandhan (Ksheera Sagara Manthan or Sagar Manthan) or Churning of ocean is mentioned in Bhagavata Purana, in the Mahabharata and in the Vishnu Purana. The story is about churning of ocean by Devas and Asuras in search of Amrita or nectar of immortality.
Tales of in Vedas, Puranas and other Hindu religious books have always tried to teach man some profound principles in life symbolically. This story gives us a good description of how our nature works. Every human being is influenced by positive and negative tendencies.
Effective balancing of the positive & negative tendencies and harmonizing both these energies attain salvation and true bliss in this lifetime. When milk is churned, butter becomes separated from the milk. In the material world, one achieves positions and wealth during the life journey. But those who aspire for bliss initially get Halahala (Poison, sufferings) and if they conquer it and further are not swayed away by powers, wealth & successes, get ultimate bliss.
In spiritual journey, butter is sattva and mental brilliance or pure intelligence. As by heating process at medium or low temperature, butter converts into Ghee, likewise by practice of austerities like deep meditation, self-control & discipline and other spiritual practices, the practitioner experiences supernormal vision and bliss.
The episode symbolically explains various stages of elevation of Human Being –
The mythological episode and the spiritual concept are explained as under:
The mythological episode:
The episode symbolically represents the forces working within human beings.
Bhagavata Purana consists of the story of Shukdevji reciting to the dying king Parikshit.
Shukdevji was son of sage Vyasa. Sukadeva studied with guru Brihaspati for many years and he became expert at Veda Vedanta. Vyasaji then asked Shukdevji to marry. Sukadeva said, I was born from the Divine Fire, I had a father like Veda Vyasa, and I studied under a Guru like Brihaspati, the Guru of the Gods; I learned for many, many years Veda, Vedanta and now you’re throwing me in to the whirlpool of maya and attachment. Vyasaji informed that as per scriptures, one should go stepwise in life viz. Brahmacharya, Grahasta, Vanaprastha and then Sanyasa. Vyasaji tried to convince him but he refused to marry.
Vyasaji then asked him to go to King Janaka of Mithila for training who is an ocean of wisdom. Shukdevji was keen on learning, but he was doubtful of the knowledge a Palace dwelling king can possess. He was greeted by the guard who said, “Who are you, and what business do you have in our city, and where do you think you are going?”
Shukdevji said, “I’m a Brahmin, I’ve come to see the King, my father sent me, but I don’t think there is any reason to see the King. My father said that I would see the darshan of someone who is known as Videha, He doesn’t have a body, He’s liberated while living, He is a jivanmukta.
Shukdevji thought this man is so bound by attachment; he’s got guards and soldiers standing with weapons around his city saying “Who are you, and what business do you have to enter my door?” No reason to go in at all, I don’t even want to see this guy, I’m going home!”
The guard said, “wait, wait please, I didn’t mean to offend you. It’s just that my job is to stand here and ask everybody. When Janak heard that Shukdevji, his Guru’s son had come to see him, he sent the prime minister. Prime minister greeted Shukdevji and invited him in to the hospitality chambers where he was served delicious food, and he was massaged by beautiful maidens and given a nice bath and given fine clothes to wear and treated like a royal guest. Shukdevji said, I’m a brahmin, I was born from the Divine Fire, I had a father like Veda Vyasa, I had a Guru like Brihaspati. I studied the Vedas for all my life, and here these people are trying to bribe me with beautiful clothes and sumptuous feast and beautiful ladies, I have no desire whatsoever.”
Janakji said, “What is the purpose of your visit here?” Shukdevji said, "My father sent me to you, to learn higher spiritual knowledge, please take me as your student. I must ask you, I don't understand, 'how can a palace dwelling king indulged in the wealth of palace, in the company of queen and children be such a highly recommended Yogi?'"
Janakji said, “Well, you know, it says in our scriptures that a man should be a Brahmacharya, then he becomes a Grahasta, and then he is a Vanaprastha, and then he takes Sanyasa. Shukdevji said, “A man who is bound to a sacrificial pillar could hope for escape, but a man who is bound to care for a wife and family can never hope for escape. How can he flee from the attachments, the bondage to family? I don’t want to get married!”
Janakji said, "We will talk about that later, if you want to be my student, you have to pass a test, take this cup of oil, keep it on your head, go around the palace, keenly observe every room, I will need every detail from you, also you shouldn't spill even a drop of this oil if you want to be my student."
Shukdevji walked into each room of the palace, observed every room in detail and came back in the evening. "O King, I have fulfilled your task." said the young Shukdev.
King Janaka asked many questions to confirm that he had indeed completed his task without fail; King asked Shukdev "How could you observe every room in such detail when you had a full cup of oil on your head?" "I observed every room, but my focus was always on the cup." said Shukdev.
"Same way, though I live in this world performing my duties as a king, husband, father, I always keep my focus on the higher reality." said King Janaka answering Shukdev's earlier question. Janak further said, “I have all of these responsibilities, but none of it is mine. I’m the administrator of this kingdom on behalf of a higher King. I’m only a servant in the kingdom of God. And that’s why they call me liberated while living.”
Sukadeva bowed down to the King, and went back to Veda Vyasa’s house, and said, “Father, Whatever you say, I’m ready to do.” Shukdev got married and he had two children. At the time of marriage, Shukdev was 25 years old. Even after staying in the house of pilgrimage, Shukdev started following the yoga path.
He narrated the story of Srimad Bhagwat to Raja Parikshit, whose testicular serpunition - after examination of death, attained liberation.
While performing duties as Grahasta, one can remain detached and attain liberation.
The story is a conversation between Nachiketa (a teenage boy) and Yama (Lord of death) from ''KATHOPANISHAD'' (5th Century BC).
Nachiketa was the son of the sage Vājashravas. He was performing a sacrifice named Viswajet Yajna. In this Yajna, the performer had to give away all his wealth. In ancient times, Cows were designated as valuable and special possessions and hence Vajashrava, desiring a gift from the gods, decided to donate all his cows to Brahmins.
Nachiketa was in his teens, and he was observing the sacrificial ritual with innocent interest. He was surprised to notice that his father was giving away only old and disabled cows unable to give milk.
Nachiketa was very intelligent & with pure heart. He said his father that he has heard in this Yajna, one has to give up all that one possesses. This being the case to whom will you give me?” Vajashravas did not give any reply. After some time Nachiketa asked again the same question, but in vain. He did not get any response from his father. Again for the third time, Nachiketa repeated the same question.
Vajashravas could not control his temper; he burst out saying to his own son, “I will give you Yama, the God of Death.” Nachiketa followed the words of his father and went to the kingdom of Death. However, during that time Yama was not present. None dared to admit Nachiketa. So he waited near the gate for three days and three nights without taking even a drop of water. When Yama returned and found Nachiketa at his doorstep he felt sad for keeping a Brahmin waiting for three days and three nights. He ordered his attendants to fetch holy water to invite and welcome Nachiketa. After the hospitality offered to Nachiketa, Yama told Nachiketa, “Dear child, I have not done good by keeping you waiting for three days. So I request you to ask for three boons.”
Nachiketa asked Yama:
1. First boon - O Lord, let my father not be anxious about me, and let his anger against me vanish. When I go back to earth, let him recognize me and receive me back gladly.” “Granted son,” said Yama.
2. Second boon - Teach me the proper ritual for the fire sacrifice. Yama agreed and taught Nachiketa the proper ritual for the fire sacrifice.
3. Third boon - Is there indeed a life beyond death. Yama said, “Boy, do not ask me about matters of life and death. Even the gods are not clear on all points. Ask me something else. I will grant all your wishes other than this.” Nachiketa persisted and said, “O Yama, I only wish to know about the mysteries of life and death, and nothing else.” Yama tries to offer Nachiketa worldly pleasures so that he may change the nature of his request for the third boon, but Nachiketa insists by stating that all the worldly pleasures are short-lived and do not render long lasting happiness. Nachiketa was bold enough saying that one can never reach the eternal through the worldly possessions. Therefore he has renounced all desires for worldly pleasures and has come here with the hope of winning the Eternal through the instructions of the God of Death. It was too difficult for Yama to change the mind of young Nachiketa. So finally, he agreed to tell Nachiketa about the mysteries of life and death. Yama told:
1. The Self is immortal. It was not born, nor does it die. It did not come out of anything, neither did anything came out of it. Even if this body is destroyed, the soul is not destroyed. Smaller than the smallest and larger than the largest, the Self is living in all beings. Mere reading of the scriptures or intellectual learning cannot realize Atma. One must discriminate the Atma from the body, which is the seat of desire. It reveals itself to the deserving one. The goal of the wise is to know this Atma.
2. This body is the chariot, intelligence the driver, the senses are the horses, conscience the rein and the Atma is the lord of the chariot. The Self is superior to body, mind and senses.
3. Greater than the individual soul is the enveloping super consciousness, the seed of everything in the universe, still greater is the Ultimate Person than whom there is nothing greater. He is the goal of our aspiration. Once That (Supreme Self) is realized, death loses all its terrors, and the one who has realized becomes immortal.
4. The path to realization is long and difficult. Inability to realize Brahman results in one is being enmeshed in the cycle of rebirths. Understanding the Self leads to moksha.