Granada, Spain: June 24, 2003
Tridandisvami Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja
Yesterday we discussed
bhakti, devotion, and its gradations. In that connection we spoke
about the life histories of Ajamila and Bharata Maharaja. We spoke
about the first stage of Bharata Maharaja's life, but we did not
reach the chapter in which his conversation with King Rahugana
[Asrama Maharaja:] King Rsabdeva had
100 sons, and prominent among them was Bharata, whom he appointed
as the next king. Bharata ruled the kingdom for about 50,000
years, and then he left his kingdom to perform meditation at
Pulaha Asrama by the bank of the Gandaki River. He somehow
became attached to a deer, and because of his attachment he
himself became a deer in his next life. As a deer, he stayed at
that asrama by the Gandaki River in the association of sadhus,
saintly persons. In his next life he took birth as the
self-realized soul Jada Bharata, the son of a brahmana.
At that time there was a king named Maharaja Rahugana.
Riding on a palanquin, the king was on his way to the asrama of
Kapiladeva. One of the palanquin carriers fell sick, and the other
carriers, seeing that Jada Bharata was very strong and stout, had him
replace the man who had become ill. Because Jada Bharata was in an
exalted state of consciousness, he refused to cause harm to any
living entity. Therefore, avoiding the ants as he walked along the
path, he was not able to carry the palanquin properly. This caused
Maharaja Rahugana to rock back and forth, and he immediately
chastised the palanquin carriers, saying, "What are you doing? Can
you not carry the palanquin properly?" They said, "No, no, no! It is
not us It is this new person. He is going left and right, and left
and right. That is why the palanquin is rocking."
Maharaja Rahugana immediately chastised Jada Bharata,
sarcastically saying, "Oh, what is the problem? Are you too weak
and thin? Have you not eaten?" Actually Jada Bharata was quite
strong and stout. The king demanded, "Please, carry me properly."
They started to carry him again; but again, the second time, Jada
Bharata avoided the ants and the palanquin shook back and forth.
Again Maharaja Rahugana chastised him, saying, "Don't you know who
I am? Why are you acting in such a way? You should be very
careful. If you don't carry me properly, I will have to severely
Jada Bharata replied, "My dear
king, you are bewildered, thinking that you are the ruler of all
the people and that you are in this very exalted position. You
should understand that you have taken this position only due to
the three modes of material nature and your karmic situation. In our
next life, I may be the ruler and you may be the palanquin
carrier. Because of your false ego, you think you are so exalted."
He then began to explain atma-tattva, the truths of the spiritual
self, to the king.
Maharaja Rahugana became
amazed and wondered, "Who is this elevated person? He looks like a
very dull person. He has not taken a bath for some time, and
practically speaking he has no clothes on; but he is speaking in such
an exalted way."
Understanding the elevated
position of the brahmana, Maharaja Rahugana jumped down from his
palanquin and offered his obeisances. Falling flat like a rod he
asked, "Oh, who are you? Are you a great sage? I see that you are
wearing a brahmana thread. Maybe you are the incarnation
Dattatreya?" Maharaja Rahugana had been on his way to the asrama
of Lord Kapiladeva, so he then inquired. "Are you that very same
Kapiladeva? Is that you?"
Jada Bharata explained
to him, "You have chastised me and said that I am like a dead
person. You asked, 'Are you thin? Are you malnourished?' This kind
of talk is coming from someone who has no spiritual intelligence. The
soul is not thin or stout. The soul is not malnourished or
well-fed. The soul is none of these things. Only due to ignorance
you think that you are king, that these people are your palanquin
carriers, and that all are your servants. This mentality comes
from complete ignorance."
further inquired, "My dear sir, you are speaking such advanced
knowledge, but can you please enlighten me on one thing? You say that
the activities of the body are not connected to the soul, but I
see that actually the soul is feeling the pains and pleasures of
the body. You tell me that the soul is not feeling any pains or
pleasures. You say that the soul is not carrying the palanquin.
But, I see that the soul is doing this."
king gave the example of a pot of milk on the fire. He said, "That
pot will get hot. In turn, the milk will get hot, and the rice that
is in the milk will also get hot. In the same way, the body may be
feeling so many pains and pleasures, and the senses will also feel
those pains and pleasures. Therefore the mind, which is there
within the body, will also feel the pains and pleasures, and the
soul will also be affected. How can you say that the soul is not
affected? I cannot understand. Please instruct me."
Jada Bharata then explained the science of the soul. Covered
by illusion, the living entity is actually living as if in a
dream. In a dream state, a person may see that a tiger is coming
to kill him. He will be afraid, seeing death just in front of him.
However, when he wakes up, he sees that there was no tiger. It was
just an illusion created by the mind. In the same way, the living
entity within the material world, conditioned by the three modes of
material nature, comes under the influence of those modes of
nature and experiences many different interactions of the material
[Srila Narayana Maharaja:] There is a
very good example to clarify this. There was a tree on the bank of
a big pond. When a wind came, there were waves in the pond.
Someone was looking at the reflection of the tree in the pond and
thinking, "The tree is trembling." Actually, the tree was not
trembling; rather, its reflection in the pond was moving.
Similarly, the jiva, soul, has nothing to do with the sufferings
and happiness of this body. He is always like that tree. The mind and
body, which are the reflection of his contaminated consciousness,
are suffering, and he thinks, "Oh, this is me suffering." If ones
attachment will go away, then his consciousness will become very
clear, like that of Jada Bharata. His vision was not covered by
illusion, but King Rahugana still had that faulty vision We should
try to realize this real fact, and do bhajana.
What is the essence of this history?
Maharaja:] Maharaja Rahugana was still confused. Although he was
given many enlightening instructions, he still could not grasp the
truths. Jada Bharata explained to him, "The absolute truth is
understood as Brahma, Paramatma and Bhagavan.
rahuganaitat tapasa na yati
na cejyaya nirvapanad
na cchandasa naiva jalagni-suryair
["My dear King
Rahugana, unless one has the opportunity to smear his entire body
with the dust of the lotus feet of great devotees, one cannot
realize the Absolute Truth. One cannot realize the Absolute Truth
simply by observing celibacy (brahmacarya), strictly following the
rules and regulations of householder life, leaving home as a
vanaprastha, accepting sannyasa, or undergoing severe penances in
winter by keeping oneself submerged in water or surrounding
oneself in summer by fire and the scorching heat of the sun. There
are many other processes to understand the Absolute Truth, but the
Absolute Truth is only revealed to one who has attained the mercy
of a great devotee." (SB 5.12.12)]
Maharaja said," Actually, my dear Rahugana, you cannot understand
the Absolute truth unless you smear yourself bathe yourself in
the dust of the lotus feet of a pure devotee of the Lord. All this
will remain incomprehensible to you. It does not matter if you do
tapasya, if you execute household life perfectly, if you are a
brahmacari or if you take vanaprastha or sannyasa. It doesn't matter
if you stay submerged in the water in the cold winter, or if you
sit in the blazing sun in the summer. All these things will not
make any difference in understanding the actual situation of the
Absolute Truth, the living entity, and his relationship with that
Absolute Truth. Only by associating with a maha-bhagavata (a great
soul), will you realize these things. This is the essence of this
[Srila Narayana Maharaja:]
Anything more to say?
[Syamarani dasi:] If
someone is in a car accident and the car gets damaged, the person
inside will feel suffering. This explains the analogy of the milk
and rice getting hot with the pot. Jada Bharata explained in
essence that the only way the person will feel miserable in the
car is if he identifies himself as the proprietor of the car. If
he does not think that he is the owner, or that he is the car, he
feels no suffering. So one essence found in this instruction is
that all misery is due to the illusion of identifying with the
mind, which imagines that it is connected with material
situations, like "I am the carrier of this palanquin so I am
[Asrama Maharaja:] A very
important point is that Jada Bharata is telling Maharaja Rahugana
that one cannot know the highest truths simply by austerity, or
just by following brahmacarya, sannyasa, etc. Theoretically one
may try to understand how the soul is different from the body,
etc, but actually we will not be able to be detached. The only way
we can be detached is by "mahat-pada-rajo-'bhisekam", sadhu-sanga.
Again and again this point is emphasized in Srimad-Bhagavatam and
all other scriptures: If we want to achieve the goal, we will have to
bathe ourselves in the dust of the lotus feet of sadhus. There is
great potency in that dust; but how will that potency manifest to
us? By surrendering ourselves to such sadhus and becoming
instruments to carry out their will, those moods which are in
sadhus will gradually come in our hearts. In this way we are really
bathing in the dust of the sadhus, and in this way we will be able
to realize these very subtle points in sastra. Theory is not
enough; practical realization is needed, and that will only come
by surrender to the lotus feet of sadhus.
[Srila Narayana Maharaja:] Very good. Anything else?
[Aranya Maharaja:] This history of Bharata Maharaja is
extremely instructive. We find that in his first stage, when he
was king of the world, he left his kingdom and came to the forest
where he was doing his sadhana-bhajana alone. He was without
association. At that time some attachment came to a baby deer.
This attachment was very slight at first, but he could not check
and it and it began to grow, day, by day, by day. It became deeper
and deeper, until it uprooted his spiritual practices When he
chanted his gayatri, he was not chanting gayatri; he was only
remembering that deer, wondering, "Will the deer come and stick his
nose under my arm while I am chanting?" In this way his spiritual
practices became ruined. The teaching here is that the living
entity in this world, even in a somewhat advanced stage, is
susceptible to be deviated by the material energy, because he is
very tiny and the material energy is very powerful. At that time it
is absolutely essential that he stay under the guidance of a pure
devotee. That pure devotee will then impart to him spiritual
strength. He can then overcome all the transformations in the
heart caused by the material energy, and continue to make progress
on the spiritual path.
There is another teaching
here. Bharata Maharaja remembered the deer at the end of his life,
and in his next life he became a deer. This gives evidence to
support the principle:
yam yam vapi smaran
tyajaty ante kalevaram
tam tam evaiti
Krsna explains in Gita: "Whatever
consciousness you are absorbed in at the time of death, you must
attain that state." Therefore, if one is serious about becoming an
associate of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna in Vrndavana, then this same
principle will apply.
On the basis of this
principle, Srila Rupa Gosvamipada has written:
krsnam smaran janam casya
vasam vraje sada
This is the sadhana or the
practice of raganuga-bhakti, by which one can attain Vrndavana. One
must remember Krsna, but only remembering Krsna is not enough.
Krsnam smaran janam casya: One should remember Krsna along with
one of His very dear associates Prestham nija-samihitam: if one
wants to serve Krsna like Mother Yasoda, he should remember Mother
Yasoda. If he wants to serve Krsna like His friends, he should be
absorbed in the services of Subala, Madhumangala and other cowherd
boys. And, if one wants to serve Krsna like the gopis, he will have
to remember gopis like Sri Rupa Manjari and Sri Rati Manjari.
Tat-tat-katha-ratas casau always be absorbed in topics about
that particular associate of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna. And kuryad
vasam vraje sada in one's heart, and better than that,
physically and also by heart, one should always reside in Vrndavana.
If one will pass his life in this way, following in the moods of a
particular associate of Radha and Krsna, then, at the time of
death one will easily become an associate of Radha and Krsna
just as Bharata Maharaja, without any effort at all, easily became
a deer by thinking of a deer at the time of death. This is the
essence of the history of Bharata Maharaja.
[Srila Narayana Maharaja:] if anyone totally surrenders like
Bharata Maharaja, he can develop his Krsna consciousness. He was
once taken by dacoits who prepared to kill him. They told him,
"You should put on this reddish cloth and take some prasadam."
Without any hesitation he accepted these things, laughing. He had
no fear of death. Can we be like that? Krsna-prema is not so
easy. First be like that. A pure devotee is totally surrendered; and
he has knowledge of the soul and his relation with the Supersoul.
We should be like Jada Bharata, or like Srila
Haridasa Thakura, who had no fear of death, and Sri Prahlada
Maharaja was the same. Jada Bharata was smiling when the dacoits
were ready to cut off his head. Why was he smiling? He saw their
swords, but he never feared. He thought, "Marobi rakhobi jo iccha
tohara nitya-dasa prati tuwa adhikari." O Krsna, I have given my life
and soul to You. Now my life depends on what You may want to do
with it. You may want to keep me in this world or You may want to
take me with You. In either case I am very happy. If I go to You,
I will serve You there; and here, I will preach Your mission and
be happy. So it depends on what You want."
devotee should be like this; otherwise he cannot come out of
illusion. He should first be surrendered to his Gurudeva. If he is
not surrendered to Gurudeva, he cannot surrender to Lord Krsna. He
must obey his Guru, and then he can obey Krsna. Without this Krsna
will not accept his application his prayer.
One thing more if you want to develop your Krsna consciousness,
don't try to show off your bhakti to others. Keep it like camphor
in your heart. If burning camphor is kept in a closed room, its
fragrance increases. If kept in an open doorway it evaporates.
Be like Bharata Maharaja, who never told anyone
about his advancement in devotion. Only out of mercy he spoke to
Rahugana, and not to others, for he was hiding his wealth. Sri
Caitanya Mahaprabhu prayed, "Na prema-gandho 'sti darapi me harau.
I have not a trace, or even a shadow, of prema I have nothing."
If someone would ask Him, "Then why You are weeping?" He would
reply, "I am weeping so that all will praise Me. If a fish is
taken out of water, she dies at once, in a moment. But as far as I
am concerned, I am not meeting with Krsna, and I am tolerating the
separation. So how can I say I have prema?"
Srila Narottama Thakura has written in Prema Bhakti Candrika
(verse 9), "Apana bhajana-katha, na kahiba jatha tatha. Don't tell
anyone, 'I have seen Krsna in my dream. I have realized Krsna.
Sometimes I weep bitterly for Krsna. I chant sixty-four rounds of
harinama.' Or 'I can speak very nicely; better than anyone.' You
must hide everything if you want to develop your
What about Ambarisa Maharaja?
[Syamarani dasi:] Ambarisa Maharaja was a
great king so great that although he was king of the entire
planet, he considered all the opulence of the world as insignificant
as a piece of stone. He engaged all of his senses in the service
of the Lord; first his mind in the lotus feet of Krsna, then his
nostrils in smelling the incense offered to the Lord, and so on.
He was such a great king that, by his association and
instructions, all his citizens also used to absorb themselves in
hearing and chanting about the glories of the Lord. They also felt
that even great mystic opulence, heavenly planets, and other such
pleasures were insignificant.
Maharaja is a devotee in bhava-bhakti. That is, he has achieved
svarupa-siddhi, serving the Lord with his spiritual body internally;
and externally, with his sadhaka's body, he is serving the Deity
with great opulence and pomp. Internally he is engaged in serving
with his spiritual body, and remembering the Lord's
asta-kaliya-lila. Externally he is also going to the holy places
and engaging in the activities relevant to raganuga-bhakti.
Ambarisa Maharaja is a perfect example of one
who follows Ekadasi. He was observing Ekadasi as a three-day fast,
and now he wanted to break his Ekadasi fasting by taking parana
(drinking water or eating foodstuffs appropriate to ending the
particular fast). If parana is not taken at the proper time,
the Ekadasi vow is not complete. Ambarisa Maharaja was about to take
his parana, but just at that moment Durvasa Muni came,
uninvited and unexpected. Durvasa Muni was a great sage and
brahmana. Naturally, when a brahmana comes to one's house, one stops
what he is doing and offers the brahmana something to eat.
Ambarisa Maharaja welcomed him, saying, "Please take your bath and
then we will have some prasadam for you."
Durvasa Muni went to the Yamuna to take bath. During that time the
clock was ticking away and the time allotted for parana was
almost over. Ambarisa Maharaja had to make a decision: "Should I
offend a brahmana and go to hell for eating before him in order to
observe Ekadasi, or should I offend Ekadasi and lose my bhakti?"
Ekadasi is bhakti-janani, the mother of bhakti the birthplace of
bhakti. Ekadasi is also Krsna Himself, and more important than even
Janmastami. Ambarisa Maharaja decided, "Even if I am in hell, if I
have my bhakti, my life will be successful. I will not even be
offending the brahmana, because I will only drink water. According
to sastra, this is neither eating nor not eating. It is both
eating and not eating. So the brahmana should not be angry with
me." He confirmed his decision with his saintly brahmana advisors,
following the varnasrama system. Though he was a pure devotee, being
a ksatriya, he confirmed his decision by consulting the brahmanas,
and then he drank caranamrta water
Durvasa Muni was bathing in the Yamuna River. He had the
ability to be in trance and see what was happening outside of his
sensual recollection, and therefore he was able to understand that
Ambarisa Maharaja was drinking something before he, the honored
guest, had returned. He became furious and went back to the King's
palace. He spoke very angry, cruel words to Ambarisa Maharaja, who
responded humbly and stood with folded palms. That was not
sufficient for Durvasa Rsi, however, who tried to kill him by pulling
out a matted lock of his hair, which turned into a fiery demoness
that attacked Ambarisa Maharaja. Ambarisa Maharaja stood
meditating on the Lord, who reciprocated by sending to Durvasa His
Sudarsana-cakra, His weapon which destroys the entire universe at
the time of annihilation. Durvasa Muni ran for his life in the
valleys, in the mountains, and everywhere else. He went to Lord
Brahma for protection, but Brahma would not help him. He then went to
Lord Siva, who sent him to Lord Visnu. They had a conversation and
he was demanding protection, but Lord Visnu was becoming
increasingly angry with him, saying, "You don't deserve
protection. Ambarisa Maharaja is fully dependent on Me and thus
wasn't afraid of your weapon. But you when My own weapon came you
ran without any faith in Me at all. I don't have the power to save
you, because My mind is not with Me. My mind lives in My devotee,
as My devotee lives in My heart. So you will have to go back to
Ambarisa Maharaja if you want to be saved."
This running of Durvasa Muni took an entire year. During that year
Ambarisa Maharaja was fasting, not blaming Durvasa Muni at all, but
rather blaming himself. He considered, "Because of me, this
brahmana is undergoing so much suffering." He had been praying to
Sudarsana-cakra, "Please don't burn him; be cool and peaceful. If
I have done any service to the Lord, if I have performed any
austerities and you are pleased with me, then please stop chasing
after Durvasa Muni and threatening to burn him." The Sudarsana Cakra
stopped, and Durvasa Muni reached Ambarisa Maharaja and begged
forgiveness. Immediately Ambarisa Maharaja said, "Yes, Take the
results of my pious activities and be delivered." He was extremely
loving, and at the same time and renounced.
Maharaja Ambarisa sumptuously fed Durvasa Muni, who was so impressed
with his wonderful Vaisnava behavior that he himself became a
Vaisnava. Actually, he already was a Vaisnava. In fact, he was a
premi-bhakta. He was not like a false devotee, who always wants
others to look bad so that he can look good. He did not care that
he looked bad, just so that Ambarisa Maharaja could be glorified
as a great and humble Vaisnava in spite of all odds.
Although Ambarisa Maharaja was very concerned about breaking
his Ekadasi fast at the exact right moment, he was fasting for the
entire year while Durvasa Muni was running about the universe in
fear. So how is that he skipped all of his Dvadasi-vratas, his
vows of breaking his fasts at the right moment? Srila Gurudeva
explained previously that because he is a self-realized soul, he does
not really have to follow Ekadasi. He does it as an example for
us: we should be ready to sacrifice anything, and even be prepared
to go to hell, as long as we can keep our bhakti.
[Srila Narayana Maharaja:] He was fasting for the entire
year. He followed Nirjala Ekadasi, fasting from even water, for
the entire year. What is the essence?
[Syamarani dasi:] The essence of this history is that Maharaja
Ambarisa engaged all of his senses in the service of the Lord, and
he did not care for any material disturbance at all. He did not
care that Durvasa was attempting to kill him; he did not care
about his relationship with anyone before his relationship with
bhakti, and he did not care about going to hell or heaven. He only
cared about his bhakti.
tells this story about Ambarisa Maharaja as one example of a
suddha-pure-bhakti. The level of bhakti can be understood in terms
of the barometer of the verse beginning, "anyabhilasita sunyam".
Bharata Maharaja fell down due his attachment to a deer. Prahlada
Maharaja was so great in his prema, but he could not render
personal service to the Lord because he knew of the Lord's opulences.
Ambarisa Maharaja comes next, as superior, because, even though he
was not in the stage of prema he was in the stage of
bhava-bhakti and serving with his sadhaka body, not with his
spiritually perfected body still, he was always engaged with all
of his senses and mind in the service of Krsna.
[Srila Narayana Maharaja:] Like Jada Bharata, Ambarisa Maharaja
had no fear of death Death was standing in front of him, and yet
prayed to the Lords ultimate weapon, Sudarsana-cakra, "Oh, save
this brahmana." He did not pray for himself. On the other hand,
Durvasa Muni, a brahma-rsi, was running here and there to save
himself. So in this case, Jada Bharata and Ambarisa Maharaja are the
same. But Ambarisa Maharaja was superior. His bhakti was higher
than that of Jada Bharata. Jada Bharata was a jnani-bhakta, like
Prahlada Maharaja, and he knew about the soul; but Ambarisa
Maharaja was more than that. He was a pure bhakta, living in
Vrndavana with greed for vraja-bhakti. Jada Bharata had nothing to do
with vraja-bhakti. He was a bhakta, but not like that. He never
meditated on Vraja. On the other hand, Ambarisa Maharaja was
following all Ekadasis and maha-Dvadasis in Vraja, doing parikrama
throughout Vraja-mandala, going to Varsana, Nandagaon, Vrndavana
rasa-sthali, Govardhana, and so many other places of Sri Sri
Radha-Krsnas pastimes; so he is superior.
ends part 1 of the lecture. In part 2, Srila Narayana Maharaja
discusses still more exalted devotees.]
Editorial Advisors: Pujyapad Madhava Maharaja and Sripad
Editor: Syamarani dasi
Vasanti dasi and Anita dasi