Category Archives: Lord Krishna, Bhagavad Geeta

Tulasi and Saligrama

Lord Indra and Deva-Guru Brihaspati, were on their way to Kailasa to offer their salutations to Lord Shiva. Lord Sankara decided to test Indra’s devotion. He disguised himself and met them enroute. Angered at being blocked on their path, Indra asked him to move away. When Shiva refused to move, Indra took up his weapon, Vajrayudha and tried to hurl it at Shiva. The Lord was extremely angry at Indra’s behaviour and was about to punish him when Brihaspati pleaded on Indra’s behalf and sought forgiveness. The fire-of-anger that emanated from Lord Shiva crystallized and fell into the ocean and out of it emerged a small boy. Brahma, the creator appeared and asked Lord Varuna to look after the child who would ultimately become a rakshasa because of the anger element from which he had manifested. He was named Jalandhara (born or arose from water). Since he was an aspect of Lord Shiva, his death was also destined at the hands of Lord Shiva. Trained by the Rakshasa-Guru, Shukracharya, Jalandhara grew up to become very powerful and mighty.

Gandaki was an ardent devotee of Lord Sri Hari. Pleased with her faith and devotion, loyalty and commitment, Lord Vishnu granted her darshan and asked her what she wanted as a boon. Gandaki told the Lord she had only one wish and that was that she should always have the privilege of his association and he should never leave her. The Lord agreed and told her to take the form of a river – River Gandaki. He added that sometime in the future, he would be cursed to become a “stone”. And as a “saligrama stone” he would reside in her waters. 

On the other side, Jalandhara married Vrinda, the daughter of Kalanemi. She was also a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. She ardently longed for the eternal companionship of the Lord. However she had been cursed to take birth in the mortal world and become the consort of a rakshasa. When she approached the Lord, he assured her that after she was relieved from the curse, she would constantly be in his company. Thereafter, she was born as the daughter of Kalanemi and married Jalandhara. She was extremely faithful and loyal to her husband. The power of her purity and chastity was an armour and protection for Jalandhara. Knowing well that he was invincible because of his wife’s chaste conduct, Jalandhara waged war on the devatas and declared his superiority and lordship over them as well. Unable to withstand Jalandhara’s atrocities, all the gods approached Lord Vishnu. However Lord Vishnu could not annihilate Jalandhara because he was protected by his own devotee, Vrinda. Next the devatas sought help from Lord Shiva. A fierce battle ensued between the Sankara and Jalandhara. Even Lord Shiva could not kill him because of Vrinda’s intense tapas. Again the devatas appealed to Lord Vishnu to help them otherwise Jalandhara would create havoc amongst the noble and pious. 

For the sake of everyone’s welfare, Lord Vishnu approached Vrinda in the guise of Jalandhara. Thinking that it was her own husband who had come back from the battle, Vrinda abandoned her tapas to serve him. Vrinda’s mind had been diverted and that was the moment Lord Shiva was waiting for. That very moment, the Lord annihilated the rakshasa. Vrinda who was aware that Jalandhara was invincible by the power of her tapas, realised that it was Lord Vishnu who had come in the guise of Jalandhara. Overwhelmed by anger she cursed Lord Vishnu to become a “stone”. After the curse was pronounced, Vrinda repented. She prostrated to the Lord and sought his forgiveness. Lord Vishnu smiled and consoled his devotee. All that had happened had to happen! The Lord told Vrinda that in the future she would manifest as a plant – the most auspicious TULASI PLANT. She would be revered and worshipped by one and all. She would possess the unique properties of bestowing good and positive energy and annulling the negative influences around. Every part of the plant would possess immense medicinal value. And she would be extremely dear to Lord Vishnu. His puja would be considered complete only with the offering of Tulasi to him. Further the Lord added that he would appear in the waters of River Gandaki or Narayani in the form of a black stone – Saligrama. 

After Vrinda dissolved her mortal body, she manifested as the Tulasi plant. And as Tulasi she became the eternal consort of Lord Sri Hari in the form of Saligrama and is therefore known as Vishnupriye. Lord Shiva exhaustively extols the glories of Tulasi to Sage Narada in the Padma Purana. Every year, Tulasi Vivaha with the Lord (Saligrama) is celebrated on shukla dwadashi day in the month of Kartika. Where the Saligrama is not available, a branch of the Amla which represents Lord Vishnu is used. Tulasi represents Goddess Lakshmi and Amla represents Lord Vishnu. Hence puja offered to Tulasi and Amla signifies the invoking of Lakshmi and Narayana during the month of Kartika. 
Kartika Maasa heralds the onset of winter. And winter is characterized by darkness, chillness, drop in energy and immunity levels. Growth and expansion is curtailed to a large extent at macro as well as micro levels. These shortcomings are compensated by ushering in light, warmth and positive energy by lighting lamps everyday. To strengthen our immunity system and fight the cold we use the Tulasi and Amla which have immense medicinal and therapeutic value. The warmth and light (energy) from earthern, brass, copper or silver deepas and amla deepas  boosts and reinforces the metabolism of the human body. Hence lighting the lamps, extensive use of tulasi and amla becomes very significant during this month. And by invoking the respective deities, the spiritual dimensions get included and incorporated!

“Jagaddhatri namastubhyam vishnoscha priyavallabhe; Yato brahmadayo devah srishtisthithanyantha karinah!” ~ Tulasi Stotra
“Aajanmakrutha papanam prayaschittam ya ichati; Saligrama shilavari papahari namostute!” ~ Saligrama Stotra

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Sri Poornathrayeesa: Santhaana Gopaala Moorthy of Tripunithura!

There lived a pious brahmana and his wife in Dwaraka. To their misfortune, they lost eight children. The moment a child was born to the brahmana’s wife, it ceased to breathe. The grieving father went to the gates of Krishna’s palace every time he lost a child, and cried out loudly as to why he had to undergo this suffering in the Lord’s own kingdom. Strangely, Lord Krishna, who is Iswara, the  Karmaphaladata or the “Dispenser of the Fruits of one’s Actions” remained silent.

When his wife was expecting the ninth child, the brahmana went to the gates of Krishna’s palace and in sheer frustration of losing even this child, he started using very harsh words against the Lord. Arjuna, the Pandava prince who had come to visit Krishna heard the brahmana’s words and got extremely angry. He immediately got up and went outside to meet the brahmana. Arjuna heard all that had happened and told him not to worry about the fate of the child to be born, and assured him of his protection. The brahmana however expressed his doubts, saying that even Krishna had not been able to save his children. Arjuna full of pride and vanity told him, “Don’t you know who I am? I am neither Krishna nor Balarama nor Pradyumna. I am Arjuna, the one who has received the grace and blessings of Lord Shiva and wields the great bow called Gandiva. I will surely protect your child from the jaws of death.” Krishna heard everything and smiled!

Very confidently Arjuna went along with the brahmana to his house and built a fort around the house with arrows so that no one, not even Lord Death can enter into the house. But the nineth child also died the moment it was born. Arjuna was shocked and when confronted by the brahmana, he told him again not to worry and went to all the worlds in search of the child. From Brahmaloka to Patalaloka and even upto Yamaloka. But Arjuna was unable to trace the child. He came back very dejected and disappointed. Totally humbled and crestfallen, Arjuna felt very guilty that he was unable to keep up his words and decided to end his life by entering into fire.

When Arjuna was about to enter the fire-pit, Lord Krishna arrived. He consoled him and assured him that the brahmana’s children will all be restored back to life. Krishna took Arjuna in his divine aerial chariot across the seven mountain ranges, across the seven oceans, across the seven continents to the abode of Adi Purusha, the Purushottama, the “Substratum for all things and beings”. Arjuna saw the great Adisesha shining like the white kailasa mountain with his thousand hoods. Reclining on Adisesha, was Lord Hari resembling the dark rain-bearing clouds and clad in golden yellow peetambara. The Lord had eight arms and was adorned with the Vaijayanthi mala. He was surrounded by his saktis and the celestial beings. Arjuna was overwhelmed at this divine darshan.

The Supreme Parabrahma, the Cosmic Universal Being, told Krishna and Arjuna that they were both Nara and Narayana having taken incarnation to accomplish the great and mighty task of “parithraanaaya saadhunaam, vinaashaaya cha dushkrutaam”. Totally humbled, Arjuna realized that this was all the Lord’s divine “leela” to destroy his pride and vanity. All the nine children of the brahmana were handed over to Krishna and Arjuna. Both of them came back and handed over the children to the brahmana couple. The couple were overjoyed and overwhelmed to see all their children back. They again and again prostrated to the Lord and sought His forgiveness for doubting His love and compassion. At this juncture, before leaving for Dwarka, Sri Krishna gave a beautiful idol of Lord Vishnu to Arjuna for the purpose of worship. In sheer gratitude, the Deity was addressed as SRI SANTHAANA GOPAALA MOORTHY – the “Saviour & Protector of Infants!”

Arjuna wanted to find a suitable place for installing the deity. He in turn invoked Lord Ganesha for help. Ganesha went in search and found the divine Poorna Veda Puri, the present Tripunithura (Kerala) most suitable. Ganesha himself decided to settle there. When Arjuna came looking for Ganesha, he found him in Poorna Veda Puri. Arjuna compelled Ganesha to shift to the South of the sanctum and Sri Santhaana Gopaala Moorthy was installed there. The sanctum was conceived in the form of a chariot. In this Kshetra, the unique feature is: Lord Vishnu is seated on the coiled body of Adisesha which serves as his asana. Adisesha’s five hoods serve as a canopy for the Lord. Shankha and Chakra adorn his two upper hands. The lower left hand rests on the asana and a lotus adorns the Lord’s right hand. The Lord residing in Poorna Veda Puri (Tripunithura) is known as SRI POORNATHRAYEESA, the Lord presiding over the three Vedas (Rik, Yajur and Saama) – the embodiment of the Essence of All Spiritual Knowledge.

“Poornathrayeesa Hare! Hare Krishna! Poornathrayeesa Hare!! Poornathrayeesa Hare! Hare Krishna! Poornathrayeesa Hare!!”

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Vatapatrashayee – Significance!

 

VATAPATRASHAYEE signifies a Man of Realisation – a Jeevanmukta. He is none other than Lord Mukunda: One who gives Mukti to the spiritual seeker.  

Sage Markandeya undertook intense tapas to propitiate Lord Vishnu. Pleased with the Sage’s austerity, the Lord appeared before him. Overwhelmed with joy at the divine and glorious darshan of the Lord, Markandeya put forth a unique request to the Lord. He wanted to ‘see’ the LEELA or the Sport of the Lord-of-Maya! Sri Narayana smilingly acknowledged. A few days later, the sky opened up, clouds burst, winds swept, thunderstorms and torrential rains created floods, the ocean rose and in a short time all the worlds including the entire earth was engulfed with water – it was Pralaya. In the darkness of the Deluge, drifting along in the dangerous and swirling waters, Markandeya who was ever well-established in the Higher State of God-realization beyond all traces of duality, now went through the gamut of hunger and thirst, fear and sorrow, pain and grief! He was unable to come out of it – the Play of Lord’s Maya! And suddenly, to his utter surprise, he found a small lone infant also drifting in the waters. Curious to know who it was, he swam towards the infant. Extremely divine was the vision! Markandeya saw a dark-blue hued child exquisitely charming and captivating lying on a banyan leaf. The infant held its lotus-like foot in its beautiful hands. And he was blissfully sucking at the toe which was in his mouth – Lord VATAPATRASHAYEE! Markandeya was sucked into the body of the infant along with its in-breath. There in the body of the infant, Markandeya saw the outer and inner space and all the worlds, including himself! With the infant’s out-going breath, Markandeya was thrown back to the surroundings. And suddenly the deluge-vision disappeared. Markandeya was back in his hermitage. Nothing had really happened. It was all Lord’s Maya – a mere delusion created illusion! Sage Markandeya had witnessed the Play of Lord’s inscrutable Maya!!

Significance: The waters all around represent pralaya (deluge) or dissolution, which is the Destructive Aspect of Nature. The infant on the banyan leaf represents the Constructive Aspect of Nature. At the Cosmic level, Nature balances the destruction-construction phenomena. If the dark waters represent disaster, trouble and spiritual ignorance, Sri Krishna (Vatapatrashayee) represents relief, hope and Light of Knowledge. 

The Lord’s ‘breathing-in’ represents the DISSOLUTION of the worlds. Hence Sage Markandeya was sucked into the Lord’s mouth. The Lord’s ‘breathing-out’ represents the CREATION of the worlds; the sage was thrown back into the surroundings. Between creation and dissolution, the Lord nurtures, nourishes and MAINTAINS all that He has created. Therefore BALA-MUKUNDA represents the Powers of Creation, Sustenance and Dissolution – the Ultimate Reality, BRAHMAN. The Lord’s face, hands and feet are compared to the LOTUS. The Lotus represents Beauty, Knowledge and Truth. The Lord is a personification of, an embodiment of Beauty, Knowledge and Truth. An infant/child always “lives and responds” in the PRESENT without the conditionings of the PAST and FUTURE: the Highest State in which a Man of Realization is revelling. Hence, the Lord is depicted as an “infant”. 

The waters represent the “troubled waters of samsara” – the ups and downs. To balance ourselves safely and sail through them we need knowledge. The banyan leaf represents “spiritual knowledge” and its green colour represents “balance or steady mind”. The banyan tree has long life and vast spread with roots hanging down from above. Hence the banyan tree represents the Eternal, Timeless Spiritual Knowledge which transcends all other knowledges, yet includes everything. It flows from the Higher to the lower.

Krishna lying down on the banyan leaf tossed up and down by the waves represents the Man of Steady Wisdom in perfect balance within himself and in absolute harmony with Nature. Krishna holds the big toe of His leg with both His hands, draws it towards Himself and is depicted as sucking the toe by putting it in His mouth. Feet is what one stands on. The Master’s Feet represent Spiritual Knowledge in which he is well-established and rooted in. The big toe is equivalent to the thumb and it signifies the essence of spiritual knowledge which the Man of Realisation is constantly experiencing and revelling in, after turning his attention within himself in his seat of meditation.This inward gaze is represented by the Lord pulling his leg inward, towards Himself. The blissful smile on the Lord’s face signifies the State of Sat-Chit-Ananda which the Jeevanmukta is constantly experiencing within himself!

“Karaavindena Padaaravindam Mukhaaravinde Viniveshayantam; Vatasya Patrasya Pute Shayaanam Baalam Mukundam Manasaa Smaraami” – Baalamukundashtakam

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Krishna and Akrura!

Kamsa, the self-proclaimed tyrant king of Mathura sent rakshasas time and again to Gokula and Vrindavan to annihilate Krishna, but Krishna very easily destroyed them all. Furious that all his plans and schemes had failed, Kamsa decided to bring Krishna to Mathura. He conceived of a plan to destroy Krishna. Kamsa arranged for a Dhanur Yagna to invoke Lord Shiva and earn His grace and blessings to win over his enemies. He arranged for wrestlers to challenge Krishna. He made sure a wild elephant was there at the entrance of the Yagnasala ready to trample Krishna as He enters. Kamsa then summoned the wise and elderly Akrura and sent an invitation to Krishna and His elder brother Balarama to attend the Yagna. Akrura saw the irony behind this. Till now Kamsa was sending rakshasas all the way to Vrindavan to kill Krishna. Now, as his end was approaching, Kamsa himself, without his knowledge, was sending an invitation and making all arrangements and preparations to receive Krishna at whose hands he was to die, right in his own territory! Lord’s ways are unique! Destiny ultimately has its own mysterious ways of fulfilling itself! Akrura started for Vrindavan. He was very happy – he was going to have darshan of the Lord! 


In the meantime, Sage Narada came to meet Krishna in Vrindavan. In the divine presence of the Lord, Sage Narada saw the entire happenings of the future unfurling themselves in front of him! Starting from “the Lord slaying Kamsa in the immediate future to becoming the charioteer of Arjuna in the kurukshetra war later on” – he had a glimpse of everything! Rest assured of the purpose of the Lord’s Avatar, Narada offered his prostrations to the Lord and left.

On reaching Vrindavan, Akrura saw the footprints of Sri Krishna on the sacred soil of Vrindavan! He got down from his chariot and applied the sacred dust on his forehead. He was received by Nanda. The moment he saw Krishna and Balarama, he prostrated at their feet. Totally overwhelmed, Akrura wept with joy at his blessed fortune of the Lord’s darshan! The next day, Akrura left Vrindavan along with Krishna and Balarama. As they were travelling to Mathura, a doubt crossed the mind of Akrura, “Can these two young, delicate boys – Krishna and Balarama, really challenge the mighty Kamsa? Is it possible? Will they be able to accomplish this mission of destroying the tyrant Kamsa and redeem Mathura and its people from his dictatorship?” Krishna understood what was going on in Akrura’s mind. Both the brothers looked at each other and smiled! The Lord had to dispel Akrura’s doubt….

They reached the banks of river Yamuna. Akrura got down from the chariot to perform his mid-day sandhya. When he took a dip in the waters, he beheld Krishna and Balarama in the waters. He was astonished at the vision because both the brothers were seated in the chariot. He immediately rose up from the waters and looked towards the chariot. Sure enough, he saw Krishna and Balarama seated in the chariot! He was puzzled. To check whether the first vision was true or a mere hallucination, Akrura again plunged into the waters. 

This time he saw Lord Vishnu reclining on Adisesha, blue in colour, clad in yellow, with sankha, chakra, gada and padma in his four hands. He shone resplendent with gem-studded golden ornaments, the shining kaustubha and the fragrant Vaijayanti garland. He was attended to by the divine gods, gandharvas, the kumaras and devotees like Prahlada, Narada and others. Bhagavan was surrounded by the Goddess of Beauty and Fortune (Sri), Goddess of Nutrition (Pushti), Goddess of Speech (Saraswati), Goddess of Splendour (Kanti), Goddess of Glory (Kirti), Goddess of Contentment (Tushti), Goddess of Knowledge (Vidya), Goddess of Energy (Sakti) and others. Extremely overjoyed at the unique and auspicious darshan of the Lord in full Glory, Akrura prayed fervently to the Lord. He realized the Omnipotency of Lord Sri Krishna. Akrura’s doubts vanished like mist melts at the very touch of the early morning sun’s rays.

The Lord withdrew His divine form. Akrura emerged out of the waters. Overwhelmed at the divine beautiful vision of the Lord – rare and unique, Akrura reached the chariot. 
Still revelling in the joyous experience of the Divine Vision, Akrura approached Krishna and Balarama. Krishna smilingly asked him, “You seem to have had an unearthly wondrous experience in the waters of Yamuna, what is it?” Akrura prayerfully replied, “O Lord, whatever wonders that exist in all the worlds, they all exist in You alone, who pervades and permeates the entire universe. What wonders can remain unseen by me, when I am directly looking at the Wonder of all wonders, Your Divine Form!” With a mind calm and serene, totally free from anxiety and doubts, Akrura silently drove the chariot to Mathura. It was Akrura, the Lord’s devotee, who had the rare and unique privilege of bringing Sri Krishna and Balarama to Mathura! 

“Deva deva Jagannatha Punyashravanakeerthana; Yaduttamottamashlokaya Narayana Namostute!” ~ Akrura’s invocation (Srimad Bhagavatham)

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