Tag Archives: Mahabharata

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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Yaksha Prashna – 4

[This post is in continuation of the post – Yaksha Prashna – 1 , 2 and 3 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 post 6 sets of questions & answers were posted. In this post, 6 sets of questions & answers have been posted. The next post on Yaksha Prashna will be on next Wednesday. Link for Yaksha Prasna – 1: http://naadopaasana.co.in/2020/06/03/yaksha-prashna-1/ , For post 2 : http://naadopaasana.co.in/2020/06/09/yaksha-prashna-2/ , For post 3 : https://naadopaasana.co.in/2020/06/16/yaksha-prashna-3/ ]

18] Yaksha Prashna : For what ultimate purpose does one give away in charity to the Brahmanas (pious)? To the Artists of dance and theatre? To the Workers? And to the Kings (rulers)?

Yudhisthira Answers : It is for the sake of dharma that charity is given to the Brahmanas. It is for the sake of fame and glory arising out of patronage that wealth is given to Artists. It is for their livelihood that money is given to the Workers. And it is for sake of fear of attack that tributes are given to the Kings.

19] Yaksha Prashna : What is that by which the world is enveloped? What is that factor which prevents one from discovering oneself? What is the reason because of which friends are forsaken? What is it that obstructs one from attaining the Higher State (Mukti)?

Yudhisthira Answers : The world is enveloped by Maya (ignorance). It is spiritual ignorance that prevents one from realizing oneself. It is because of greed that friends are forsaken. Attachment or moha is the obstacle on the path to the Higher State.

20] Yaksha Prashna : What is it that obstructs progress and growth for an individual? For a country? What makes Shraadha (the rituals performed for ancestors) fruitless? When does a Yagna become null and void?

Yudhisthira Answers : Miserliness in thought and action obstructs progress for an individual. The absence of a good leader cannot make a country grow and become prosperous. Shraadha performed by a priest devoid of knowledge and practice is fruitless. A yagna is null and void when it is performed without charity.

21] Yaksha Prashna : What is the path to be taken in life? What is the source of water? What constitutes annam (prosperity)? And what is detrimental (poison) to life? What is the right time for Shraadha (Pitr karya)?

Yudhisthira Answers : The path walked by men of character and wisdom is the path to be taken by all. The clouds (sky) are the source of water. Cattle or Wealth constitutes annam (prosperity). Cowardice is detrimental (poison) in one’s life. The right time for Pitr karya is when an individual well-versed in the sastras and performing noble actions is available for officiating the rituals.

22] Yaksha Prashna : What are the characteristics of asceticism? What are the characteristics of one who has his mind under control? What are the prominent features of forbearance? And that of modesty?

Yudhisthira Answers : To be rooted in one’s own inherent nature (swadharma) is asceticism. Self-restraint is the characteristics of one who has controlled his mind. The prominent features of forbearance is the capacity to endure all pairs of opposites like pain and pleasure. Modesty is refraining from all evil and impure acts.

23] Yaksha Prashna : What constitutes knowledge? What constitutes tranquility? What is supreme compassion? What is meant by the term straight-forward?

Yudhisthira Answers : An insight into the divinity within each one of us constitutes real knowledge. The peaceful state of the mind is tranquility. To act for the well-being of all is true compassion. Equanimity and balance of the mind is to be straightforward.


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Pancha Prayag – Its Significance

[This post features the significance of Pancha Prayag. The significance of Prayag Raj will be posted on Saturday- 27th June 2020!]

PRAYAG : Ya means moving; Ga means knowledge. Yag or Yaga (or Yagna) means to move ahead with knowledge. Pra means special or total or complete. Therefore, PRAYAG means to move forward in life with the right knowledge or spiritual knowledge.

PRAYAG also means confluence of two or more factors. In our inner world of thoughts or in the outer world of things and beings, it is not easy for any two factors to come together and move ahead. If it is possible, then it is a whole-hearted cooperative endeavour, because the two factors coming together can have different distinctive features and characteristics. Hence, Prayag also denotes diminution of ego.

In the Himalayan region, wherever two river streams come together, merge and then proceed, it is called as PRAYAG. It is indeed a cooperative endeavour and a mahayagna because the two river streams come from two different directions, move through different terrains and have different characteristics (depth, velocity, mineral content and even colour). Inspite of their different identities, they reconcile so beautifully and merge together and proceed further as a larger river. There is a silent, profound and constant message to us: “Inspite of all differences, it is possible to realize the oneness in all diversity, multiplicity and plurality. It can be in any field like, knowledge, culture, tradition etc. Wherever two or more factors harmoniously meet and proceed further, a greater purpose in life is fulfilled”. And the message of transcending individual identity becomes more pronounced and intense and reaches our inner depths easily because of the very pure and conducive, natural and divine Himalayan environment. Hence every Prayag is considered as a pilgrim centre – a strong reminder of what one has to accomplish within oneself.

This is beautifully demonstrated in “Pancha Prayag” – the five sacred places in the Himalayan region of Uttarakhand. At each Prayag, two river streams from different directions meet, merge and proceed further. From the higher region downwards, they are: VISHNU Prayag where Alaknanda meets Dhauliganga. NANDA Prayag where Alaknanda meets Nandakini. KARNA Prayag where Alaknanda meets Pindar. RUDRA Prayag where Alaknanda meets Mandakini. DEV Prayag where Alaknanda meets Bhageerathi. From Dev Prayag onwards, the confluence of these five rivers is called as GANGA. She carries with her the characteristics – the speciality and uniqueness of all the rivers!

The route through the Pancha Prayag is supposed to have been taken by the Pandavas and Draupadi during their Swargaarohana (ascent to heaven). The Pandavas represent an individual with his five sense-organs under restrain. Draupadi represents the mind under perfect control. The uphill path through Pancha Prayag denotes the spiritual path to the State of Enlightenment. Prayag or Yagna (moving ahead with spiritual knowledge) alone can take the seeker to the State of Absolute Perfection.

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Krishna’s Gurudakshina!

Krishna and Balarama accompanied Akrura and came to Mathura at the behest of Kamsa. All the evil-minded tyrant’s plans to kill Krishna were in vain. Finally Krishna killed Kamsa. The Devatas were delighted, the Gandharvas sang and Apsaras danced in sheer joy and rained down showers of flowers. Ugrasena, Krishna’s grandfather was released from prison and reinstalled back on the throne of Mathura. Vasudeva and Devaki were overwhelmed to see their children Krishna and Balarama after so many years of longing and hoping.

Vasudeva then approached his family Guru, Gargacharya and in accordance with the sastras, had the Upanayana performed for both of them. Balarama and Krishna then undertook the vows of Gaayatra (for learning Gayatri-mantra), Praajaapatya (for commencing the study of Vedas) and Braahma (for consistency till the end of Vedic study) under the instructions of their Guru. Gargacharya was well aware about the divinity of Krishna and Balarama. He spoke to Vasudeva and told him to send his sons to Guru Sandeepani, one of the greatest Acharya’s who was residing in Ujjain. Vasudeva agreed, and both Krishna and Balarama proceeded to Ujjain from Mathura. 

Krishna and Balarama reached the hermitage of Guru Sandeepani, offered their prostrations and introduced themselves to him and prayed that they be accepted as his disciples. Sandeepani knew in reality who they were, and whole-heartedly accepted them as his disciples. Krishna and Balarama reverentially and respectfully served their teacher with all devotion. The best of the Acharyas, Guru Sandeepani taught them the four Vedas and their six auxiliary branches, the Upanishads, the Science of Archery along with the Mantras, Dharmasastras, Nyaya, Rajaneeti and other branches of knowledge. And in just sixty four days they mastered all the sixty four Arts.

After their studies in the Gurukula, before leaving, they asked their Guru what they could offer as their Guru Dakshina. An overwhelmed Sandeepani  who was aware of the Lord’s infinite glory asked Krishna to restore back his child whom he had lost in the ocean at Prabhasa kshetra. Krishna promised to bring back the child, and the brothers reached Prabhasa. The presiding deity of the ocean immediately manifested himself and asked in what way he could serve the Lord. Krishna asked him for Sandeepani’s son who had been swallowed up by the waves. 

Samudra told Krishna that he had not taken away the child. A rakshasa by name Panchajana who lived in the ocean in the form of a conch had taken away the child. The Lord immediately plunged into the waters, fought the rakshasa and killed him. The body of the rakshasa – Panchajanya which was in the form of a conch was taken by the Lord. However the Lord did not find his Guru’s child there. Then Krishna and Balarama went to the city of Lord Death called Samyamani. Krishna announced his arrival by blowing the Panchajanya. Lord Yama immediately came forward and offered his prostrations to both of them and with folded hands asked in what way he could serve the Lord. Lord Krishna said, “bring the son of my Guru Sandeepani whom you have carried away due to the child’s own destiny”. Yama immediately brought the child and presented him to Krishna. The Lord took the child with him to his Guru’s ashram. Sandeepani was overjoyed to get his son back from the jaws of death. 

Krishna again requested his Guru to ask for anything else as a boon. Guru Sandeepani who was more than fulfilled told Krishna, “O my child! can any desire remain unfulfilled for a preceptor who has you as his disciple. You both have indeed fully paid the debt to your teacher. Return back to your home. May your divine glory purify all. May your knowledge ever remain fresh in your memory here as well as hereafter.” With prayerful prostrations and carrying with them these blessings of Guru Sandeepani, Krishna and Balarama reached Mathura.

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