Friday, June 23, 2006

Story 34 – Story of Vadha (killing) of Vritrasura - 1


We are starting with yet another story of Srimad Bhagavatham. This story is the killing of the asura named Vritraasura. Before we enter into the story, let us try to analyze the ultimate reality of Lord and the very aim of analyzing the various stories of Srimad Bhagavatham.

There is one and only entity in the entire world which is termed in the scriptures as Lord or Bhagavan or Ishwara or Brahman. The Lord is of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute. It is from the Lord that creation starts and the world that we perceive gets created. The world & objects that we perceive are nothing but the Lord alone because they are devoid of any existence apart from the Lord who is their creator. The Lord is eternal and non-changing whereas the world is ever changing. It is not at all possible that from the non-changing Lord, the changing world is created. Thus the world is only an illusion in the reality of Lord. It seems to exist so long as the reality is not known that there is nothing here but the Lord alone, one without a second. The world that we currently perceive is like the dream world which seems to exist as long as dream continues. But once the dreamer wakes up, he realizes that there neither was any dream world nor will there be any dream world – but that the dream world is nothing but an illusion in him. Similarly when a seeker realizes his own very nature of Lord, he realizes that the world which he perceived and is perceiving is only an illusion in the Lord. It is due to ignorance of our own very nature that we consider ourselves as different from the Lord. Since there is nothing other than the Lord, we all are the Lord alone. This is the ultimate reality that we all are the Lord alone, one without a second. But since there is ignorance about this reality, therefore scriptures proclaim the path of realization wherein the ignorance veil is removed & the seeker realizes his own very nature of non-dual Lord.

The various Upanishads proclaim about the reality of Lord and the path to realization of the Lord. Since Upanishads are tough to apprehend as they are logical and tough to interpret, therefore there are various smrithi works which propound the reality in the scriptures in a simple way. Some of the famous smrithis are the Bhagavad Gita, Manu Smrithi and Yajnavalkya Smrithi. But even the smrithis are tough to understand because they are full of concepts and means to realization. Since normal people’s intellect is not that developed to apprehend the reality as such with concepts, therefore Veda Vyaasa wrote down the 18 puranas which propound the reality through various stories. We all very well know that when something is put forth through a story, it is easy to understand, remember and implement in life. We all learn things only with the help of examples. Even while learning mathematical equations, we are taught examples so that we remember it easily. Thus Veda Vyaasa put forth the various puranaas embedding the reality amidst stories about the glory of the Lord so that any person can understand the reality in the stories & implements the path to realization in his life. It is but sad that today most of us remember the story alone forgetting the import of the story. Each and every puranic story has an import which is finally pointing to the ultimate reality of Lord.

After writing the 18 puranas, Veda Vyaasa also wrote the Mahabharatha emphasizing on Dharma or that which a person is entitled to do in life.

But even after writing all these puranas, Veda Vyaasa was not satisfied and content. This was because in the Mahabharatha and the puranas, emphasis was on the story and not on the import of the reality of Lord. Similarly the Upanishads and smrithis emphasize on the import alone so that it is tough to apprehend for normal people. Thus to enable normal people to apprehend the reality through stories, Veda Vyaasa wrote the Srimad Bhagavatha Purana. Srimad Bhagavatham is filled with many stories each of which points to the ultimate reality of Lord alone. This purana is distinct from others in that each and every place in the purana has the import of the reality of Lord. The Lord hasn’t been forgotten in any of the stories & each story points out the Lord alone.

Thus each story of Srimad Bhagavatham points out the ultimate reality of Lord as the final goal to be realized by a seeker. Each story is distinct from another in that it points out the means to realization of the reality of Lord. The goal being common, the means, qualities etc. required to realize the reality of Lord is different in each of the story. But if we forget the goal of the ultimate reality of Lord while learning the story, the story is of no use except that it can be used for fame or memorizing or remembering.

Thus while learning each and every story of Srimad Bhagavatham we have to constantly remember the aim of learning the stories which is constant contemplation of the reality of Lord so that we may realize our own very nature of Lord.

Remembering the main aim of learning the stories, let us continue with the next story which is the killing of the asura named Vritraasura.

Many of the puranic stories speak about Devas and Asuras – the fight between them, the asura overcoming the deva but finally deva succeeding by the grace and help of the Lord. Asura indicates the demoniac qualities in the mind which can be put as “concentration of the sensual pleasures”. Any thought which is concentrated on getting sensual pleasure is an ASURA. It is an asura because it leads the seeker away from the ultimate reality of Lord. The sense organs seek sensual pleasure from the sense objects. The sense objects are mere illusions in the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus the thought which concentrates on sensual pleasures tends to take the seeker away from the reality of Lord and into the illusion of the worldly objects. The basic thoughts of envy, treachery, cheating, adultery etc. are ASURAS because they lead the seeker into sense objects rather than the ultimate reality of Lord. DEVAS are good thoughts like bhajans, chanting etc. which lead the seeker towards the reality of Lord. We always find that bad thoughts are tough to conquer and easily overcome the good thoughts – similarly the ASURAS overcome the DEVAS very easily. But when the seeker puts effort to ward off the bad thoughts by totally surrendering to the reality of Lord and bringing in good thoughts about the Lord, the bad thoughts are completely destroyed even as ASURAS are destroyed by the DEVAS due to the grace of the Lord.

This story is also about an asura overpowering the devas but vanquished by the grace of the Lord. We have to remember here that it only the grace of the Lord due to which the bad thoughts are overpowered – nothing in the world happens without the grace of the Lord. It is but the will of the Lord that we see things happening in the world. The seeker is completely incapable of controlling the environment and hence when bad thoughts come, he totally surrenders unto the Lord. The Lord thus vanquishes the bad thoughts, protects the seeker & makes the seeker realize his own very nature of Lord.

Thus this story directly points to us that if there are bad thoughts, obstacles for us in the spiritual path – we just need to surrender unto the Lord & those will be easily conquered thereby making the spiritual path devoid of hassles and obstacles. We will start with the story from the next day.

Whether it is Indra or any other person, if he forgets the Lord and gets egoistic he will be suffering a lot. Once Indra was overwhelmed with power and was in his sabha with lot of apsaraas and indrani. He was fully in an intoxicated state. At that time, the deva guru Brihaspathi came there. Since Indra was in an intoxicated state, he did not welcome Brihaspathi. So Brihaspathi left the place as he was not welcomed & he saw that Indra was intoxicated with the various ladies etc. Suddenly, it dawned upon Indra that he had insulted the Guru & he repented for whatever he had done. So he went to the Guru’s house to ask pardon from the Guru. But the Guru was not in house & had left for elsewhere. Indra and Devas were now worried as to what happened to the Guru.

Looking for the right opportunity, the asuras attacked the Devas. Indra and Devas thus took refuge in Brahma Deva. Brahma said thus to them “O Devas! You have insulted a Brahma nista Guru whereas asuras have propitiated their Guru shukracharya. Thus find a suitable Guru now itself. For now accept Vishwaroopa, son of Thvestaa, as your Guru. Even if you see small mistakes and forgive it, the Acharya padam of Vishwaroopa will save you.”

Devas went to Vishwaroopa and praised him offering him the pada of Acharya. Vishwaroopa instructed the Nayarana Kavacha mantra to Indra. With the help of the mantra, Indra and devas got power & therefore defeated the asuraas easily.


As Adi sankara puts forth in his bhashya on the Sanatsujaatheeya that the mind which is extroverted cannot contemplate on the reality of Lord & the mind which is introverted cannot go behind the sensual pleasures of the world. The moment the ultimate reality of Lord is forgotten, a person enters into the illusory world. This is when the Ego rises & the person forgets the Lord and thinks that he is everything.

It is but a mystery that a person considers himself as powerful and able to control the world but cannot control his own kith and kin. We find people dying each and every moment but still think we can control them!! Isn’t it the most foolish thing in the world??? When Yaksha questioned Yudhisthira in Mahabhaartha as to what is most surprising thing in the world, yudhisthira replied that “even though a person sees everybody dying but still he thinks that he will stay forever”.

AMMA says that the United States and other powerful nations proclaim that with the press of a button, they can destroy the entire world but to operate the button they need the will of the Lord (it is but the Lord as inner Consciousness who controls all actions – without this Lord, nothing can happen in the world).

Once a heart specialist was speaking about heart-attacks on stage. All of a sudden, he had an attack and died!!! Isn’t this what is happening in the world? If we just open any newspaper, we can find death spread all around. This is why Upanishads proclaim that Yama is roaming around waiting for the time to a person to die --- we have to remember Sankara’s wordings that “Sampraapthe sannihithe kaala” – the time to die is approaching & therefore BHAJA GOVINDAM BHAJA GOVINDAM GOVINDAM BHAJA MOODAMATHE – seek the Lord O foolish person, seek the Lord.

As Ramana says the Ego poses itself as the closest friend but it is in fact the enemy that veils the reality of Lord & deludes a person into the illusory world. Thus the moment Ego rises in a person, the person forgets the all-pervasive eternal reality of Lord. The moment a person forgets the reality of Lord, he enters into the illusion of names and forms. Names and forms are illusory & hence will vanish any moment. There is only sorrow in the names and forms. Thus the person who forgets the ultimate reality of Lord enters into sorrow and suffering.

Thus Bhagavatham says here that once a person forgets the ultimate reality of Lord through Ego, he is going to suffer for sure. This suffering need not be a physical one but it can be mental or emotional also. Any person who doesn’t remember the ultimate reality of Lord is suffering only. We find that Bill Gates or George Bush are suffering even though they have power, money etc. We find politicians, presidents, prime ministers, chief ministers, CEOs all suffering for one or the other reason.

How can we say that they are suffering????
If a person is not content with what he has & is not blissful, he is suffering. If a person is not happy, that only means that something is hindering his happiness & hence he is suffering.

It cannot be said that those who thoroughly enjoy life are happy --- happiness is like the fragrance of a flower, it spreads itself to others. If a person is really happy, he should be able to give happiness to others --- even by the mere presence of such a person, others will be happy and calm. A person who doesn’t have happiness cannot give happiness. We can feel this bliss, peace and contentment in the presence of Mahatmas like AMMA, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Sai Baba etc. Mere presence of such a Mahatma stills the mind & gives the eternal bliss that we are yearning to achieve. This is the reason why people from all walks and parts of the world are attracted towards such a Mahatma.

When AMMA currently visited the US (California), a ex-convict came bringing along with him a truck full of people for AMMA’s darshan. The ex-convict speaks about his life when he was convicted for a crime done by him long back and after he met AMMA & became spiritual. He speaks how the most-dangerous criminals in the prison got attracted to AMMA’s picture which he had in prison & how they also started chanting AUM in the prison.

All these are proof to the fact that mere presence of a Mahatma is enough to give eternal bliss to people. There is no need of even physical presence of a Mahatma – their photo or utterance of name itself is enough for the same. We have already seen in the story of Ajaamila how the mere utterance of the name of the Lord gave liberation to Ajaamila.

Thus Bhagavatham here stresses the truth that once Ego rises a person is going to suffer in the illusory world.

We have to remember that a Mahatma doesn’t have anything to take from the world instead he is there to give happiness and bliss to the world. When Emperor Shantanu was suffering, Veda Vyaasa (after having mastered the Atharva Veda from Atharva Jaabaala) went to heal the emperor. At that time, Bhishma thought that Vyaasa had come for alms and asked what he wants. Vyaasa replied telling that “I have come to give and not take”.

Any Mahatma is there in the world for the welfare of the world. What does a person who is fully content & satisfied want from the imperfect objects of the world???? Thus we have to remember to appreciate the Guru or Mahatmas instead of ignoring them. Ignoring one’s own Guru is the greatest sin a person can do in the world. AMMA says that if God is angry with a person, the Guru can save him. But if Guru is angry with the disciple, even God cannot save the person.
A real Guru can never get angry with the disciple even as a mother cannot get angry with her child. But still the Guru will get away from such a place where he is honoured or his presence is not required. As Manu says that “knowledge shouldn’t be given unless asked for”, so a Guru will not stay where he is not required. Cases of Sadgurus like AMMA are different because they are not normal Gurus but the very avatar of the Lord in the world to help each and every person in the world.

Since Indra out of arrogance didn’t treat Brihaspathi properly, Brihaspathi left from his house. Once the Guru leaves the disciple, the disciple cannot progress. A disciple is like a person who doesn’t know the path to the goal as well as he doesn’t know the goal also. The Guru is the person who tells the disciple as to what is goal and leads the disciple to the goal. Without the Guru, the disciple is doomed. Thus Indra became powerless without Brihaspathi. When a person insults his Guru, the asuras attack him. Insulting of the Guru is nothing but not remembering the truth propounded by the Guru which is that there is nothing here but the Lord alone. When the Guru is insulted, the asuras or the bad thoughts of the mind creep in. These thoughts hinder the spiritual progress which means they overpower the devas or good thoughts. And when the devas or good thoughts get a Guru or a Mahatma, then they overcome the bad thoughts.

So in order to overcome bad thoughts and to let the bad thoughts not creep in, a seeker should always surrender to the Guru & try not to insult the Guru by going after worldly things. The Guru and his teaching about the ultimate reality of Lord should be given the first preference above all other worldly things.

We will discuss about the Narayana Mantra and how it helps a seeker to overpower the bad thoughts in the next day.

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