Category Archives: Lord Krishna, Bhagavad Geeta

Vallabha’s victory at Vijayanagara

Birth of Vallabha

Vallabhacharya (1479–1531 CE), also known as Vallabha, was one of greatest Indian Philosopher born to a telugu couple who were living in Varanasi.

Birth of Vallabacharya: During the birth of Vallabhacharya, most of the northern and central India was in unrest due to Muslim invaders. People had to flee to escape religious persecution and conversion by invaders. On one such occasion, Vallabha’s parents Lakshmana Bhatta and his pregnant wife Illammagaru had to flee Varanasi. Due to the prevailing terror and travel, she gave birth to a child two months in advance. The premature child did not show any sign of life. Totally heartbroken, they both placed the lifeless child under a tree wrapped in a piece of cloth. That night, Lord Krishna appeared in their dream and signified that He himself had taken birth as a child. Shocked and surprised, they both rushed to the spot where they had left the child. They were amazed to find the baby alive and also protected by a circle of divine fire. This divine child was named Vallabha meaning “Dear One” in Sanskrit.

Education: The young Vallabha began his education when he was seven. He mastered the Vedas, the philosophies of Adi Sankaracharya, Madhvacharya, Ramanujacharya, Nimbaraka and also Jain and Buddhist philosophies. By the age of eleven, he had completed his studies and reached Vrindavan. He was well known for his knowledge and was now being applauded by the public as “Bala Saraswathi”.

Victory at Vijayanagara: The vast kingdom of Vijayanagara was ruled by the illustrious king Krishnadevaraya. He had summoned all learned pundits and vidwans to discuss the various aspects of the philosophies enshrined in the Scriptures. There were numerous debates and discussions. Krishnadevaraya who himself was a great scholar found the arguments and the explanations given by the scholars assembled there unsatisfactory.

It is at that time that Vallabha reached Vijayanagara. He was called for the discussions and debates. After seven days of continuous debates, Vallabha won all the arguments and was able to convince the king with his profound and vast knowledge. Krishnadevaraya was so pleased and impressed by the knowledge and clarity of thought of this young vidwan. Vallabha was gifted 7,000 gold coins by Krishnadevaraya. Vallabha politely declined to accept them and requested the king to distributed them among the poor brahmanas and the learned. After a lot of loving insistence Vallabha accepted seven gold coins which he said would be used for making ornaments for Sri Vittalanatha in Pandharpur. The king and all the assembled pundits unanimously gave Vallabha the title: “Acharya.” From then onwards Vallabha came to be known as Vallabhacharya.

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Akshaya Paatra

When the Pandavas went into exile to the forest for twelve years, the eldest of them, Yudhisthira invoked and prayed to Lord Surya Narayana. Pleased with his prayers, the Lord bestowed on them a vessel, AKSHAYA PAATRA – the “Inexhaustible Vessel” – which would yield not only all varieties of food, but also any amount of food all through the day. But there was a condition associated with it. The miraculous vessel would yield food only so long as Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas had not eaten. Once she had taken her food, the vessel would cease to yield anymore food for that day.

Duryodhana, the Kaurava Prince heard of the ‘Akshayapaatra’. Overcome with extreme jealousy, he wanted to harm the Pandavas and was waiting for an opportunity. Around that time, Sage Durvasa came to Hastinapur. Duryodhana and his brothers waited upon and looked after the guest with great respect. Pleased with their hospitality, Durvasa told Duryodhana to ask whatever he wanted and it would be granted. The evil-minded Duryodhana pretended to be very good and told Durvasa that he was very happy to receive the grace and blessings of the Sage, and he wished for the same blessings for his cousins, the Pandavas. Late in the evening, when Duryodhana was sure that Draupadi would have finished her meal for the day, he requested Durvasa to go along with his hundred and odd disciples to meet the Pandavas in the forest. Durvasa agreed and went along with his disciples to the forest. When Yudhishthira received the news of the Sage, he went forward and very respectfully received the guests, asked them to have their bath in the nearby river and come for their meal. Yudhisthira informed Draupadi about the guests and told her to arrange for their food. She was shocked. She told him that her meal was over, and the Akshaya Paatra would not yield any more food for the day.

Not knowing what to do, in sheer helplessness, Draupadi invoked Lord Krishna. The All-compassionate Lord immediately came and without even allowing her to talk, he told her that he was very hungry and wanted food before any talk. She explained her helplessness and told him that there was no food for anyone including Krishna! He was not satisfied with her answer and asked for the Akshaya Paatra. She brought it and gave it to Him. Lo! there, in one corner of the vessel was a small grain of food-particle sticking to the vessel. Draupadi was embarrassed that she had not cleaned the vessel thoroughly. The Lord gleefully collected the tiny particle, put it in His mouth and with a heave of satisfaction said that His stomach was now full! He asked Yudhisthira to go and bring the guests. When Yudhisthira went to bring back Durvasa and his disciples to his humble dwelling, what he witnessed was nothing short of a miracle. All of them, including Sage Durvasa were suddenly feeling as though they had just then finished their meals, and were also feeling absolutely and completely full! Sage Durvasa knew what had transpired. He prostrated to the Lord and left with his disciples after bestowing his blessings on the Pandavas!

Significance: Draupadi along with the Akshaya Paatra represents the “mind with infinite possibilities”. But one should not pamper and misuse the mind, it is to be used with discipline. This is represented by the vessel yielding “food, but with conditions”. When the mind is empty of worldly thoughts, it gets filled up with the Lord’s Presence — empty, yet full! The sage and his retinue represent various desires in us. The mind does not know how to handle them, because a little bit of the ego (food-particle) is still sticking to the mind-vessel. At this point of time, when the devoted mind invokes the Guru (Krishna), he comes and asks us to surrender our ego unto him. When the ego (food-particle) is offered to the Guru or Lord, as our GURUDAKSHINA, one experiences the ‘STATE beyond desires’ — the State of Absolute FULLNESS within and without!!

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Vidura’s wife : Her Devotional Offering!

The Pandavas along with their wife Draupadi returned back to Hastinapur after their twelve years of exile and one year incognito. They claimed Indraprastha back, but Duryodhana was very adamant and was unwilling to let go of Indraprastha even if it meant a war with his own cousins. Yudhisthira, who was an embodiment of Dharma was not in favour of a war. He requested Lord Krishna to go to Hastinapur on their behalf as an ambassador of peace and the Lord agreed.

Many leaders extended an invitation to Krishna to accept their hospitality. Even Duryodhana sent his royal invitation and arranged a lavish feast for Krishna. The Lord knew that Duryodhana’s intention was to win His favours and have the Lord on his side. Vidura, the great devotee of the Lord also waited for the Lord’s auspicious arrival. He humbly and silently placed himself, his life and all his possessions at the Lord’s disposal. The Lord alone is the Sole Giver and Protector of everything, and therefore, everything ultimately belongs to the Lord.

After reaching Hastinapur, Krishna went straight to Vidura’s house and announced His arrival loudly. Vidura was not at home. Vidura’s wife heard the Lord. She ran to receive the Lord, the divine guest! She saw the Lord smiling sweetly at the door and overwhelmed with joy, prostrated at His feet. All these years she had heard of the divine glories and pastimes of the Lord. Like a Gopi, she silently adored Him in her heart, all the time longing to have His darshan. And now the Lord was at her doorstep! One who comes without prior appointment (thithi) is known as “Athithi”. And “Athithi” who comes to one’s house is the Lord Himself. Here Lord Krishna Himself had come as the Divine Athithi!” 

Vidura’s wife was totally lost in her intense devotion for the Lord. Krishna walked into the house and she followed Him – revelling in His wonderful lilas which she had heard of. Krishna seated Himself comfortably on an asana and told Vidura’s wife that He was hungry. She immediately ran into the kitchen. She had not cooked anything. When she looked around she saw a bunch of bananas lying there. She brought them and sat down below His asana. She picked up a banana, peeled the skin and instead of giving the fruit to Krishna, she gave the banana peel to Krishna to eat and threw away the fruit. She was totally beyond her body consciousness and the surroundings. Krishna who relishes bhakti, and bhakti only, very happily accepted the peel and ate it relishing it all the time. She continued to give the Lord peel after peel and the Lord continued partaking it. 

By this time, Vidura got the information that Lord Krishna had reached his house. Taking leave of the royal assembly, he rushed to his house. He walked in and was shocked and stunned to see his wife sitting and feeding Krishna with the peels of the bananas and Krishna was happily relishing them all! She was absolutely oblivion of what she was doing in her devotion to Krishna. 

Vidura raised his voice and reprimanded his wife. When she heard her husband’s voice, she came to her senses. She saw all the fruit lying there and the peels had all been consumed by the Lord. She felt very embarassed and ashamed. This time with all her attention on the fruit, she peeled one more fruit, threw away the peel and offered the fruit to the Lord. The Lord accepted it, but He nodded his head in dissatisfaction. He asked Vidura why he had interfered in this “divine offering of devotion” which was going on. The Lord said that the banana peel which was offered with total and absolute devotion was extremely sweet whereas the fruit offered with diverted mental attention was tasteless!

Vidura understood what the Lord implied. The Lord who is an embodiment of LOVE seeks love, and nothing but love from His devotees. 
“Whatever is offered to Me, whether it is a leaf, flower, fruit or a drop of water, if it is offered with devotion, I accept it totally” ~ Verse 26, Chapter 9 – Bhagavad Geeta. 

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Arjuna and Hanuman

Arjuna, one of the five Pandavas was on a pilgrimage. He reached Rameswaram. After the darshan of Sri Ramanatheswara, he was curious to see the Rama Setu, the bridge that was built with rocks and trees by the vanaras. Looking at the bridge, he exclaimed loudly, “all the monkeys wasted their time and energy creating a bridge with rocks and trees. If I were there, I would have created a bridge of arrows within minutes”.

A small old monkey sitting over there heard him, and said that a bridge made of arrows would never have been able to withstand the strength of Sugreeva, Angada, and the whole army of mighty monkeys. Why all of them, it wouldn’t even withstand its own weight said the monkey. Arjuna took it as a challenge and said that he would create a bridge with arrows and the monkey can safely move and jump about on the bridge and it would not collapse. If the bridge collapsed, Arjuna vowed to burn himself alive. The monkey accepted the challenge.

Arjuna created a sturdy bridge with his arrrows. No sooner the monkey touched it with its tail, it collapsed. Arjuna was stunned, but made another attempt and created a more stronger bridge with arrows. Again it collapsed under the weight of the monkey. Defeated, Arjuna decided to enter into fire. Just then a young brahmana came along and seeing Arjuna making arrangements to enter into fire asked for the reason. They told him what had happened. The brahamana said that when anyone takes on a vow, there should be a witness. Now he will be the witness and the challenge should be taken up again in his presence. Arjuna agreed and made a very strong bridge with his arrrows. The monkey jumped on to the bridge. This time the bridge did not collapse!

Arjuna was surprised! The monkey too was surprised, and tried with all its might and strength again and again, but the bridge did not collapse. Finally the monkey assumed its own huge, full form: he was none other than Hanuman. Arjuna was surprised and felt guilty for having entered into a challenge with Sri Hanuman. The bridge did not break down even under the strength of Hanuman. Hanuman was surprised and when he looked under the bridge he found the brahmana who was none other than Lord Vishnu supporting the bridge on His shoulders. Both Arjuna and Hanuman prostrated to the Lord.

The Lord then told them that He alone was Rama and Krishna. Both Hanuman and Arjuna are dear to Him and this challenge was uncalled for. The Lord had come to stop Arjuna from entering into fire. Hanuman was very sad and upset that the Lord had shouldered the entire burden of the bridge along with his own weight. How could he make the Lord, who was his Master shoulder his weight. The Lord then consoled Hanuman saying that in Rama Avatar, he had carried Him (Rama) and Lakshmana on his shoulders and He was ever indebted to him. Carrying the weight of His devotee was the only way He could reciprocate His love for His devotee! Hanuman then promised Arjuna that during the kurukshetra war, when the Lord Himself will be driving his chariot, he would adorn his chariot flag-post and protect him from all danger and lead him to victory. 

[PS: I request all to please forward and share these value based stories rich in our culture and tradition to elders, youth and children]

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