Monday, July 03, 2006

Story 34 – Story of Vadha (killing) of Vritrasura – 3

Lord Vishnu instructed the devas thus:
A person who knows what is moksha will never instruct an ignorant person to do karma. Karma is bondage – getting liberated from bondage of karma is liberation or moksha. Removal of the disease of bondage of karma is moksha in the form of “removal of sorrow”. If a person again and again does karma, it is like tying a knot over another knot. Bondage of karma can be removed only by scripturally analyzing the ultimate reality through JNAANA (knowledge). A jnaani who knows this will never instruct another person to do karma for getting rid of sorrows.


We find here the Lord himself explaining the riddle of action and knowledge thereby propounding as to what is MOKSHA or liberation.

Moksha is nothing but complete or total cessation of sorrow. Each and every person in the world is seeking eternal bliss devoid of sorrow. Everybody has the same aim of having no sorrow at all. Thus total cessation of sorrow is what is the aim of every person in the world. This aim itself is termed as moksha or liberation which is complete freedom and rejoicing of eternal bliss. This is possible only when sorrows are completely removed. Thus moksha is complete cessation of sorrow.

Sorrow arises when a person forgets his own very nature of eternal bliss. In fact, we all are nothing but eternal bliss alone. This is known through the state of deep sleep when we see no dream but are completely happy. We experience nothing in that state except happiness. Thus the happiness that we experience during that time is nothing but our own very nature itself. Thus our very nature is bliss. But somehow we forget this & hence we consider ourselves as the complex of body, mind and intellect. When we consider ourselves as the limited body, mind and intellect – limitedness comes to us also. Thus we consider ourselves as limited. Limited feeling is the cause of all bondages and sorrows. Once a person feels himself as limited, there is no freedom as freedom and bliss comes with unlimited feeling or infinite-ness. Thus ignorance of one’s own very nature of eternal bliss is what causes a person to think that he is in bondage and suffering. This ignorance can be removed by knowledge alone even as darkness can be removed by light alone.

Any amount of action cannot remove ignorance. Actions are propelled by desires. Desires in turn are propelled by ignorance. When a person forgets his own very nature of infinite Self, he desires to become perfect & infinite. Thus desire arises out of ignorance. This desire is converted into action so that it can be fulfilled. Thus action arises out of ignorance. Since action arises out of ignorance, it causes the seeker to desire more & do more action. Thus the vicious circle of desire-action continues. This goes on without any ending. Thus ignorance can never be removed by action even as darkness cannot be removed by darkness. Thus the Lord mentions here that ignorance can be removed by knowledge and knowledge alone.

Knowledge of one’s own very nature of Lord – knowledge that there is nothing here but the Lord alone is the one and only means to removal of ignorance. Thus a jnaani who knows what is liberation and who has realized his own very nature of eternal Lord will never instruct a seeker to do action because he knows that action cannot remove ignorance instead knowledge alone can remove ignorance. Thus a jnaani will always instruct a seeker to follow the path of knowledge wherein all actions are burnt to ashes.
We have to constantly remember this reality that any amount of actions cannot remove ignorance which is the cause of all bondages and sufferings. If a seeker seeks to get rid of all bondages and sufferings, he should enquire into his own very nature through knowledge of the scriptures & he should never think of removing ignorance through actions.

Whether the action being performed is chanting of the name of the Lord or singing his glories or doing service to the world or meditating on the form of the Lord, it cannot remove bondage of ignorance. Bondage can be removed only through knowledge. Thus a jnaani will never instruct a seeker to do actions instead will direct the seeker to knowledge about the ultimate reality of Lord.

This is exactly what the Lord is doing here to the Devas. We have to learn from here that any amount of actions cannot give eternal bliss & only knowledge can give eternal bliss --- the knowledge about one’s own very nature of Lord is the ultimate goal of human life. Thus a seeker should instead of going behind actions strive to get knowledge about the ultimate reality of Lord through scriptural study & learning from the words of the Guru.

This analysis of action and knowledge is very important as until a person knows this, he will be deluded into the vicious circle of action-reaction which is never ending. This action-reaction circle is what is responsible for sorrows and sufferings in the world. We can put an end to this action-reaction circle only through knowledge of the ultimate reality of Lord.

Even though Lord instructed the devas into the ultimate knowledge, it was not of much use. Hence the Lord gave them a solution of karma itself.


It is not possible that each and every seeker in the world apprehends the ultimate reality that there is nothing here but the Lord alone & he is attained through knowledge of one’s own very nature alone. Since we all are living in the bhoo loka characterized by actions (termed as karma bhoomi in the scriptures) and since the latent tendency of doing actions has been continuing for births, it is possible that a seeker doesn’t apprehend the instruction of the Guru about knowledge of the ultimate reality of Lord.

This is what happens with the devas too. Since they have been engrossed in actions, they were not able to apprehend the knowledge propounded by the Lord. It is but a fact that the mind listens to what it wants to listen to. This is why there have been long battles of arguments between rival philosophies. All these battles are only because the person is not able to have an open-mind instead of already having chosen his stand & verdict on the topic. Thus a dvaitin listens to only theories of bhedha whereas an advaitin listens to only theories about nirguna Brahman. We cannot say that both are wrong – both are right from their perspective. But reality is beyond all arguments – it is but one alone where there is no scope of arguments or doubts or confusions.

Since the mind is such that it creates preconceived notions, therefore it expects things to be as it wants it. Since the devas had come to the Lord seeking some solution in the form of action, there were not able to apprehend the reality propounded by the Lord that action is the bondage & knowledge alone can remove all sorrows-sufferings in the world. We can very well find this in our own lives. Whenever we are in some distress or sorrow, we seek the Guru or the Lord. When we seek the Lord, we will be directed into knowledge about the ultimate reality. But the mind will be stationed such that it will not heed to all those things – thus it will go into actions alone expecting some results or fruits in the form of miracles.

Thus we find great saints and Mahatmas doing miracles in the world. It is not that Vedanta criticizes miracles but just that these miracles are like normal actions only. They are of no use to a real seeker as they are also actions only. The greatest miracle for a seeker is ignorance which is never really present but still seems to be present & veils the ever-present self-luminous ultimate reality of Lord. It is but a miracle that the seeker who is none other than the Lord finds himself as seeking the Lord (seeking that which he already is). Thus all other so-called miracles are of no use and importance to a real seeker. But it is tough indeed to find a real seeker who goes beyond all miracles & actions and seeks only the ultimate reality of Lord.

Such a seeker never bothers about actions instead always tries to contemplate on the ultimate reality of Lord knowing that there is nothing here but the Lord alone.

But normal seekers who are more into actions and miracles will not be able to apprehend the truth even though it is being propounded in each and every chapter of Gita & all mahatmas propound this truth alone. Thus Bhagavatham is here telling us not to be normal people in the world going behind actions & not giving heed to instructions about the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus we have to constantly remember that there is nothing here but the Lord alone – the Lord can be realized through knowledge alone & not through any amount of actions. Actions are the cause of bondage & liberation is possible only through knowledge of the ultimate reality of Lord.

We will see as to the solution which the Lord gave to the devas and the story further the next day.

As the Lord saw that the devas wanted a solution in the form of karma, he instructed them to get the spine of Sage Dadichi (who was a brahmanista) and use it to kill Vritrasura. Devas thus went to Dadichi maharshi and asked him for the same. Maharshi reminded the devas that utilizing others for one’s own selfish motives is not good. But still since he was realized, he didn’t require any body & thus instructed the devas to take his spine.


The Lord first instructed the devas into the knowledge about the ultimate reality but saw that devas wanted karma and were not suitable enough to apprehend jnaana.

As we learned earlier, a jnaani will never instruct the disciples to do karma but will instruct them to jnaana about the ultimate reality because jnaana alone can get rid of the sorrows and sufferings in the illusory world. But most of us are already entangled in the bondage of karma that we cannot come out of it – if somebody instructs us to seek the ultimate reality of knowledge getting rid of all actions; we will not be able to do it. This is what is called in Vedanta as VASANA or latent tendencies of KARMA. Our mind is so much used to doing actions that it cannot remain for even a moment without doing some action.

Seeing that the devas are not able to apprehend knowledge, the Lord instructed them a karma to get rid of the miseries that they were having due to vritrasura. We should remember here that only knowledge about the ultimate reality of Lord & that I am that Lord can get rid of sorrows and sufferings once and for all. Else it will be a temporary solution & after a few days, another problem will arise. This is why any solution through action will never be able to terminate a problem permanently. It will be able to end the problem only temporarily – if one problem ends, 10 other problems will spring up. This is exactly what we see in our lives. We face a problem officially & seek the Lord to solve it. The solution that we go for is either shift of location or shift of job. This does solve the problem but only temporarily. It will not be long before the new location or new job also causes some problem. And when location and job are good, pay and promotion will cause problem. This goes on and on without any end. If a person thinks he can put an end to all miseries through action, he is but a fool only. An action cannot remove the sufferings caused by another action. Only ignorance can destroy the sorrows and sufferings caused by actions once and for all.

The Lord is but so compassionate that even though the devas did not apprehend the permanent solution given by the Lord to get rid of all actions & follow the path of knowledge of constantly contemplating on the ultimate reality of Lord, he instructed them to a temporary solution through karma. The Lord is but full of love and compassion that he loves his devotees as well as non-devotees. He loves the people in the world so much that he himself entered into the people --- this is what Upanishads speak about creation.

We find the various avatars like that of Krishna, Rama etc. showing us this attitude of the Lord of love and compassion. Krishna was so compassionate that he agreed to accepting just one house from the kauravas instead of an entire kingdom in order to avoid war. Krishna was so compassionate to Arjuna that when Arjuna asked the Lord to give him knowledge again as he had forgotten the message of Gita, the Lord instructed him again on the same.

This is why the various saints give emphasis to devotion towards the ultimate reality of Lord. As the Lord himself proclaims in Gita that “Arjuna, know for sure that my devotee never perishes”, we have to strive to be real devotees of the Lord so that we are always made to follow the spiritual path towards eternal bliss. The Lord takes care of every person in the world but the ever-present grace of the Lord will be apprehended only if the person opens up his heart & acknowledges the grace of the Lord through pure devotion. Pure devotion is such that it doesn’t expect anything – when a seeker becomes a real devotee of the ultimate reality of Lord, he doesn’t expect anything & he always is engrossed in the thought of the Lord.

Thus Bhagavatham is here telling us to be real devotees of the Lord so that our good and bad is taken care by the Lord himself.

When the Lord instructed the devas to get the bones from Dadichi sage and use it to kill Vritrasura, the devas did as instructed. But at that time, we find Dadichi warning the devas that a person shouldn’t be selfish enough to ignore others desires & want good by doing bad to others. This is exactly what the devas were trying to do – in order to protect themselves, they wanted death of the sage. It can here be said that the sage is realized & hence he doesn’t require the body – but this is kutarka (illogical argument-oriented statement). In that case, we all are the Lord alone & ever realized. So we don’t need the body and hence we should feed ourselves to lions and other carnivorous animals. But we don’t do that – even though Dadichi was realized & he knew that he was not the illusory body, still seeking others body to protect one’s own body is not good & it is against eternal law or dharma. If a person is realized, then he would understand the statement of the Lord that action cannot remove sorrows but knowledge that “I am the Lord alone, distinct from the illusory objects in the world” alone can give eternal bliss characterized by complete cessation of sorrow.

But the devas were not able to apprehend the message of the Lord as well as the warning of the sage, therefore they sought out the body of the sage. The sage was realized and here we find how a realized saint will act in the world – the sage was not at all affected by the demands of the devas. Even after warning them and seeing them still holding on to their desires, the sage was not the least affected. This is how a realized saint will be – he will always be immersed in the ultimate reality of Lord. Once a person is immersed in the ultimate reality of Lord, there is nothing for him except the Lord. The world & actions are all but mere illusions for him. He will always be happy and his very presence will give happiness to others.

Thus we have to learn from the sage as to how to react in situations in the world. Whatever be the situation or environment or conditions, we have to constantly contemplate on the reality of Lord – thus we will not at all be affected by the situations. If good things happen, it is the Lord’s grace. If bad things happen, it is the will of the Lord.

As Ezhuthacchan says beautifully in harinaama keerthanam,

Whatever I see is the form of Narayana.
Whatever I hear is chanting of the names of Narayana.
Whatever I do is archana to Narayana.
Whatever is there is Narayana alone.

As Sankara says in Siva Maanasa Puja, “Yad yad karma karomi tad tad akhilam shambho tava aaraadhanam” – whatever I do is your worship O Lord.

As the famous sloka – Kaayena vaacha manasaindriyairva budhyaatmana va prakriteh svabhaavaat
Karomi yad yad sakalam parasmai naaraayanaayethi samarpayaami

Whatever I do through body, words, minds and due to vasanaas – all those I offer to Narayaana.

We dont need to differentiate between the different deities – all are but forms of the one Lord alone. May it be krishna or rama or siva or jesus, all are nothing but the Lord alone. As the famous sloka goes

Akaashaat pathitam toyam yathaa gacchathi saagaram
Sarva deva namaskaaram keshavam prathigacchathi

As the water that falls from clouds merges into one ocean, similarly all namaskaaraas go to Kesava alone (here Kesava is the ultimate reality of Lord).

We will continue with as to what happend to Vritrasura in the next day.

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