Monthly Archives: June 2020

Yaksha Prashna – 5

[This post is in continuation of the post – Yaksha Prashna – 1 , 2, 3 & 4 where Lord Yama in the form of a yaksha asks questions to Yudhisthira (eldest among the Pandavas). In the 1st post 4 sets, in the 2nd post 7 sets and in the 3rd & 4th post 6 sets of questions & answers were posted. In this post, 7 sets of questions & answers have been posted. The final post on Yaksha Prashna will be on next Wednesday. Link for Yaksha Prasna – 1: , For post 2 : , For post 3 : , For post 4: ]

24] Yaksha Prashna : What is that which is most difficult for man to conquer? What is the most powerful enemy of the mind? Who is a noble and virtuous person? And who is an ignoble person?

Yudhisthira Answers : Krodha (Anger) is most difficult to conquer. Covetousness is the most powerful enemy of the mind. The virtuous and noble man is one who seeks the welfare of all creatures. The ignoble man is one who is devoid of compassion.


25] Yaksha Prashna : What is moha (infatuation)? What is pride? What is laziness or inertia? What causes misery and sorrow?

Yudhisthira Answers : Absence of discrimination is moha. Over-exaggerated importance of one’s self is pride. Refraining from actions enjoined by our scriptures is inertia. Spiritual ignorance is the cause of misery and sorrow.


26] Yaksha Prashna : What is steadfastness? What is inner strength? What is meant by ablution? What is charity?

Yudhisthira Answers : To remain centered in one’s own swadharma is steadfastness. Control over the sense-organs is inner strength. True ablution is the purification of the mind. To provide refuge and shelter to all creatures is real charity.


27] Yaksha Prashna : Who is known as learned among men? Who is an atheist? What constitutes desire in an ignorant person? In what form does envy manifest?

Yudhisthira Answers : One who is well-versed in dharma (the law of being) is a learned man. One who lacks spiritual knowledge is an atheist. Desire is longing for worldly objects. Envy manifests itself as agitations in the mind. 


28] Yaksha Prashna : What is pride and vanity? What is ostentation? What constitutes divinity or nobility? And what constitutes evil or wickedness?

Yudhisthira Answers : Ignorance of the Divine is the cause of pride and vanity. Ostentation is hypocrisy practised as a way of life. Nobility is generosity and magnanimity. Ridiculing and abusing others is wickedness.


29] Yaksha Prashna : Dharma (Virtue), Artha (Wealth) and Kama (Desire) are mutually opposed to one another. How does one reconcile them in life?

Yudhisthira Answers : Dharma, Artha and Kama can be reconciled and they can co-exist if the wife (life’s companion) is a virtuous lady who lives the principles of satya, ahimsa, brahmacharya and dana – one who is a Sahadharmacharini. 


30] Yaksha Prashna : What are the factors that retard the progress of an individual on the evolutionary path?

Yudhisthira Answers : One who invites a pious and virtuous person for bhiksha (to share) and then insults and humiliates him by refusing to share anything with him, one who disrespects the scriptures, the brahmanas (virtuous people), the gods and religion, one who has wealth but does not use it either for himself nor for others because of his greed, is the one who is bringing upon himself his own self-destruction.


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Krishna and Sudama

Krishna and Sudama were childhood friends studying together in the ashram of their Guru Sandeepani. After their education was over, both of them went back to their homes, married and settled down.

Krishna became the King of Dwaraka whereas Sudama and his family were steeped in poverty. Even one square meal a day was difficult for them. But that did not in the least affect Sudama. In spite of all the diffculties, he would constantly remember and revel in the memories of his childhood friend and Lord of all the worlds – Sri Krishna. Often, Sudama would wonder if the Lord of Dwaraka still remembered his poor friend, but then he would console himself because the Lord had promised that he would never forget him. Sudama’s wife would often tell him to approach Dwarakadhish, his dear friend, whom he so often talked about and ask for some monetary help. But he refused. However, when she insisted day after day, he finally decided to go to Dwaraka and meet his friend. Sudama asked his wife to give him something to carry as a gift. After all how could he go empty handed to meet his dearest friend? Since there was nothing in the house she went to her neighbour, explained the situation and borrowed a handful of rice flakes, tied it up carefully in a cloth and gave it to Sudama. With this small bundle flung over his shoulders and a stick in his hands, he proceeded to Dwaraka.

At the gates of the palace in Dwaraka, the soldiers on guard turned him away and did not let him inside inspite of telling them that he was Krishna’s childhood friend. They laughed and scoffed at him. How could a beggar in tattered clothes be the friend of the Lord of Dwaraka? Lord Krishna who was in the inner chambers of the palace with his wives, immediately knew of Sudama’s arrival. He got up and came running all the way to the main entrance where Sudama was. The moment both of them saw each other, they were overwhelmed and with tears in their eyes hugged each other in a tight embrace. Krishna lovingly took Sudama into the palace and seated him on the throne. He called Rukmini who came with a golden vessel full of water. The divine couple washed the brahmana-guest’s feet. Thereafter Sudama was treated to a royal feast. Amidst the feast, Sudama remembered his own hungry children far away in his hometown, but did not utter a word. He rested for a while with Krishna pressing his feet and Rukmini fanning him. He was totally embarrassed, but at the same time was very happy that Krishna, now the King of Dwaraka had not forgotten his poor friend. One whole day Sudama spent with Krishna revelling in the Lord’s glory. He simply forgot to ask the Lord for any help.

Next day when Sudama came forward to take leave of Krishna, the All-knowing Lord asked him what he had brought for him as a gift. Sudama was too embarassed and shy to give the little rice flakes to Krishna. But what else could he a poor beggar bring for the Lord as a gift? He hesitated. However the Lord had seen the bundle of rice flakes tucked behind and asked for it. Sudama refused to give, but Krishna snatched the bundle from him and opened it to find his favourite rice flakes there. Thanking Sudama for bringing what he liked, the Lord very happily took one handful of rice flakes and put it in to his mouth and relished it. When He went for a second helping, Rukmini came forward and took away the bundle saying it was her share now, but with a look suggesting that one handful was enough for the Lord to bestow on Sudama all the riches he needed for a lifetime!

A happy Sudama took leave of Krishna and left for his hometown. All the way through he kept thinking what he would tell his wife because he had not asked the Lord for any help. He came to his place, approached his lane and walked through, but he could not find his simple, humble hut. In its place stood a huge mansion. Thinking that he had entered the wrong lane, he turned around but heard someone calling out to him. He turned back. Standing right in front of the palatial dwelling, were his wife and children dressed in silken clothes and wearing beautiful golden ornaments. Sudama just could not believe his eyes! He asked them what happened. They too were overwhelmed! Overnight their destiny had changed – in fact everything had changed. Sudama knew that this was all Lord Krishna’s grace and blessings. The Lord had more than fulfilled all their requirements — and all for a handful of rice flakes! In sheer gratitude, with tears streaming from his eyes, Sudama invoked the Lord and humbly prayed that his faith and devotion to His Lord should never waver, and he should ever remain steadfast, inspite of all the riches and luxuries around. The Lord had indeed kept up His promise to his childhood friend!

Who is a friend​? He who comes to you with love and cheer, when all others have left you, is a true friend. Such a true friend is discovered not by searching outside for the right person to be friend, but by your growing to be the right person to deserve a friend! - Swami Chinmayananda

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Lord Rama and Kevat

Sri Rama started on his fourteen years of exile to the forest along with Seeta and Lakshmana, to keep up his father Dasaratha’s promise to Kaikeyi. He met Guha, the tribal chieftain and asked him to arrange for a boatsman (Kevat) to take them across the river Ganga. Guha sent for the Kevat and asked him to take them across the river. But the Kevat refused saying that unless Rama let him personally wash His feet, he would not allow them to enter the boat. Guha angrily asked him why. The Kevat told him that he had heard that by the touch of the dust of the Lord’s feet, an inert and hard stone had transformed into a woman. His boat was made of softer material and if it comes in contact with the dust of Rama’s feet, surely and definitely it would also get transformed into a woman. Not only he would lose the boat which helped in his livelihood, but he would also have to look after another woman along with maintaining his family! That would not be possible for him at all. Guha was wonderstruck at his innocence. Lord Rama smiled and agreed to His feet being washed.

The Kevat brought a small plate and asked the Lord to place His feet in them. The Lord put His right foot on the plate. There wasn’t much space for His left foot in the plate. The Lord looked at the Kevat. It would be difficult for Him to balance Himself with both His feet in the small plate! The Kevat looked up and asked the Lord to place His hand on his head, and then place His left foot in the plate. In doing so, He would be able to maintain His balance! The Lord understood the humble and simple desire of the boatsman. All that he wanted was Bhagavan’s hand on his head as a sign of blessing. Rama placed His hand on Kevat’s head and put both His feet on the plate. Kevat was overwhelmed, and with eyes brimming with tears, he lovingly washed the Lord’s feet using the waters from Ganges. When the Lord was about to place His feet on the ground and enter the boat, Kevat stretched out his hand for the Lord to place His feet on his palm, and then enter the boat! What a great devotee and what a blessing!

Rama, Seeta and Lakshmana got into the boat and the Kevat took them across the river onto the other side. They stepped out of the boat and the Lord had to give him something for rowing them across. The Lord looked at Seeta and she removed her ring from her finger and gave it to Rama. Rama offered the ring to Kevat for taking them across the river. Kevat politely declined the offer saying that there is no “give and take” between two people in the same profession! The Lord was surprised and asked him how both of them were in the same profession?

The Kevat very beautifully told the Lord, “I ferry people across the river. You ferry people across the ocean of samsara! Are we both not in the same profession?”

Every one there was surprised and amazed at the Kevat’s knowledge and devotion. He requested the Lord that on his return journey back from the forest after fourteen years, he should be again given the fortune of rowing them back to this side which the Lord promised.

The Kevat had ferried the Lord to and fro across the river. It was now the responsibility of the Lord to ferry the Kevat across the river of life!!

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Prayag Raj – Its Significance

[This post is in continuation with last week’s post on Panch Prayag : ]

PRAYAG RAJ is considered as the most important (Raj) of all Prayags. The very word PRAYAG means “moving ahead in the light of spiritual knowledge”. It is also known as THEERTHA RAJ. Theertha means “fulfilment of one’s inner spiritual journey” or “a place where one seeks fulfilment”. In all the five prayags (Pancha Prayag) in the Himalayan region, the confluence is between two rivers. Prayag Raj is unique because apart from the rivers GANGA and YAMUNA meeting, there is a third invisible river SARASWATI which joins them at their meeting point. 

Ganga carries with her the goodness and benefits of all her tributaries. Similarly with Yamuna. Therefore, a dip in the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati is extremely beneficial. The two rivers come from different directions and are different in their speed, depth, colour and we can even feel the difference in the buoyancy while in water.

GANGA means flow of KNOWLEDGE. Her white colour represents purity. Ganga is associated with Lord RAMA who is an embodiment of Dharma or Knowledge. Crocodiles which are her vahana are present in her waters. Crocodile represents IGNORANCE. Ganga riding on a crocodile therefore represents the destruction of ignorance with the help of spiritual knowledge. 

Prayag Raj

YAMUNA means SELF-RESTRAINT or VAIRAGYA. She also represents BHAKTI. Her blue colour represents depth and peace. Renunciation should not be merely external. Internal renunciation alone is real renunciation which bestows peace on the renunciate. Yamuna’s vahana is tortoise which we find in her waters. Tortoise has a hard shell, and therefore it represents unshakeable FAITH. It is faith alone that reinforces renunciation and devotion. Yamuna is associated with Lord KRISHNA who is an embodiment of Dispassion and Love. 

In a spiritual seeker, when Knowledge (Ganga) meets Vairagya and Bhakti (Yamuna), there arises the Divine Experience of one’s own True Nature – the State of Enlightenment (Mukti). This is indicated by the term SARASWATI. ‘Sara’ means ESSENCE and ‘Swa’ means ONE’S OWN. Therefore, Saraswati means ‘Realisation of one’s own True Nature’. Saraswati is associated with Sri GOVINDA. ‘Go’ means Knowledge and ‘Vid’ means to know. GOVINDA means the ‘the One who is to be known through knowledge’ – the very Self or Consciousness in each one of us. Saraswati’s vahana is hamsa (swan). Hamsa: (A)ham-Sa or Sa-(A)ham means “I am that Sachidananda”.

Hence the importance of pilgrimage to Prayag Raj. It represents our own inner spiritual journey through Jnana and Vairagya and Bhakti to the State of Absolute Perfection.

“Rama Nama is Ganga; Krishna Nama is Yamuna and Govinda Nama is Saraswati. When an individual gets initiated into the divine mantra “RAMA KRISHNA GOVINDA” by associating himself with the All-compassionate Guru, his life becomes completely fulfilled. Chanting these three divine names will bestow the benefits of bathing in the holy Prayag, the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati” ~ Sri Narayana Tirtha (Musician-Saint).

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