Thursday, July 13, 2006

Story 34 – Story of Vadha (killing) of Vritrasura – 4

Indra made a vajrayudha out of the bones of Dadichi. And with this weapon, the devas and asuras came to fight a war. Seeing the army of devas, the asuras were afraid and did not go forward to fight. Seeing them, Vritrasura instructed them thus “O Asuras!!!If a person is born, he will have to die; this law cannot be changed. So if death is bringing yashas and aishwaryam, why back up on that? Two people enjoy death and accept it openly: one is the BrahmaNista Jnaani and the other is a warrior in war.”

Even after being instructed by Vritra, the asuras did not heed his words & thus they didn’t go to fight with the devas. Vritra thus took to fighting the devas by himself & all the devas fell down. Now Vritra and Indra were facing each other alone.


Here we find Vritrasura instructing the asuras in the ultimate reality of Brahman or Lord & that which is beyond death (devoid of death). This is where we have completely learned wrong and have been taught wrong by elders and others as to various asuras in the puranas. We have been told that these asuras are bad people & they were killed by the grace of the Lord --- thus the Lord is the killer of these asuras and those who have asuric qualities. This is proved completely wrong in many stories of Bhagavatham like the one here.

There have been many generation of Brahma Nistaas acting in the world as asuras. The family of Mahabali, Prahlaada, Hiranyakashipu etc. clearly show beyond doubt that there were great jnaanis who were just doing their duty or playing their role in the drama of world. We have to keep in mind that asura means one whose sense organs are craving for sensual pleasure. Even though the external duty which a person might be doing would be that of a deva, still if he is craving for sensual pleasure – then he is to be considered an asura. Here we find that Vritrasura was a jnaani who knew the ultimate reality of Brahman and hence was not at all affected by seeing the devas on the field of war. But the other asuras were afraid of death as they were not able to apprehend the reality that “I am the Lord who is neither born nor dies – it is only the body that goes through birth and death”. And since the asuras were not able to apprehend their own very nature of eternal Consciousness which is devoid of birth and death, they were afraid of death and afraid to fight the devas lest they may die.

We find a great explanation of death in this part given by Vritrasura to the other asuras. Death is there only for that which is born. That which is born has to die & that which dies has to be born again. Birth and die is a vicious circle – which never ends. If we analyze our own very nature of “I” which is beyond birth and death, we will realize that we are never born and never die. It is but the birth and death of body which is attributed to “I”. The fear of death arises when we think that we are born and are bound to die. Thus this superimposition of the body on the real “I” or Self is what causes a person to fear death and thereby struggle in life to become immortal by any means.

Vritrasura gives here examples of two people who don’t fear death & are willing to die. One are the great warriors whose sole aim in life is to win wars & they are willing to die on warfield because that will give them svarga or heaven as well as aishwaryam etc. But these people are in the empirical level or plane alone. The second type of people are the realized saints or jnaanis who have the knowledge that “I am not the body but the ultimate reality of non-dual Self or Consciousness” & as a result of this knowledge, they don’t fear death but accept it with happiness.

Bhagavatham is telling to each one of us through Vritrasura that we shouldn’t fear death as death is only of the body or that which has birth. Since “I” am unborn and have been here from time immemorial, therefore I dont have any death also. This means that fear of death is only in the mind as a result of the ignorance of the reality that “I am devoid of birth and death but am the eternal Lord alone, one without a second”. This knowledge removes fear of death which is one of the primary causes of sorrow and suffering in the illusory world. Thus we have to constantly contemplate in the mind that there is birth and death only for the body and not for the eternal Self. We all are nothing but the ultimate reality of Lord who is beyond birth & death – hence there is no birth or death for us.

Sankara beautifully puts forth this idea in a single verse in Bhaja Govindam thus:

Punarapi Jananam Punarapi maranam
Punarapi janani jatare shayanam
Iha samsaare bahudusthaare
Kripayaa paare paahi muraare

Again birth, again death & again into the womb of the mother – this samsaara (made up of ignorance-desire-action) is tough indeed to cross over. But those who take refuge in the reality of Lord of Murari easily cross over this ocean of samsaara.

Those who take refuge in the reality of Lord who is one’s own very nature of Consciousness distinct from body-mind-intellect complex will realize that they are not born nor will die – thus they will realize the non-dual reality amidst the illusory duality that is perceived. This is what is called in Vedanta as realization or moksha. Once a person realizes this reality, then he doesn’t fear anything in the world because he knows that whatever is seen as the world is only an illusion in the reality of Lord even as dream is an illusion in the dream. He stays in the world but not affected by the activities of the world and still doing activities in the world. Lord says in Gita that such a person even though acting in the world is not affected by the world even as the lotus leaf is not wet even though it is in water.

We find Vritrasura in such a position that he is not at all affected by the activities whether it is war or normal adharmic activity – because he knew the reality that there is no birth or death. We will be seeing in the next days as to what he says to Indra while fighting.

As was the case when Lord instructed the devas into knowledge & still they were unable to apprehend it, similarly here too we find the asuras unable to apprehend the reality & thus backing away from war. Reality even though is very simple but yet tough to apprehend because apprehension of the reality means that we have to negate the world with the knowledge that the world is an illusion – this is indeed a tough thing to do to get out of the various entanglements, affections, attachments that we have created in the world. Even though the asuras did not join him, Vritrasura went alone and destroyed the devas except Indra. Vritrasura knew that he was just playing his role in this long play of world – thus he was unaffected by the outcome & therefore doing his duty in the best possible way.

We have to be like Vritrasura doing all actions in the best possible way but still remaining unaffected by the action or the results of the action. This is possible only if we are constantly immersed in the ultimate reality of Lord with the knowledge that there is nothing here but the Lord alone.

Vritra thus spoke to Indra:
O Indra!!! You have committed sin by killing my brother who was your Guru. And for your personal benefit, you killed a sage & made the Vajrayudha. What are you now waiting for? Use the vajrayudha and kill me – know for sure that vajrayudha will never fail. When the vajrayudha kills me, I will completely merge into the ultimate reality of Brahman. Those whose mind is always fixed in the ultimate reality of Brahman, they are never affected by anything in the world, not even death.


Here we find bhagavatham clearly pointing out that vritrasura was a realized saint. Bhagavatham also strives forth the point that a jnaani whose mind is ever steadfast in the ultimate reality of Lord will never be affected or afflicted by anything in the world. He will always be contemplating on the ultimate reality of Lord. All actions in the world cannot afflict him even as water doesn’t afflict the lotus leaf.

It is but a fact that all the actions in the world don’t affect me or the real “I”. Even if it is physical injury or mental torture, these don’t affect the Self because the Self is distinct from these & can have no association with the body-mind complex. If we really analyze on this, we will realize the truth of this statement. When somebody near and dear dies, we become sad and cry for some days. But after some days, the sorrow vanishes & we learn to live. We learn to live without that dear person (without whom it was really impossible to live). This is only because “I” am not at all affected by that person.

Even as the dreamer is unaffected by the dream world, similarly the Self or real “I” is not at all affected by the activities in the world. It is only ignorance of one’s own nature & identification with the illusory body and mind which causes a person to think and believe that he is affected by the activities in the world. All the activities are illusory alone & they cannot affect the real “I” which is the witness to those actions. It is only when a person thinks that he is doing actions that he becomes attached to those actions & the fruits of those actions. But the moment he realizes that he is not the doer but the witness of the action including the doer, he becomes a mere witness unaffected by the actions. When a person thus realizes that he is not at all involved in any of the activities in the world, he becomes a mere witness. When attachment to the worldly entities vanishes, then the world becomes a mere play or drama. Even as we are not affected by the sorrow in a particular movie, similarly we will not be affected by the activities in the big movie called WORLD.

This is what is termed as the state of jeevanmukthi or realized state wherein the jnaani is not at all affected by the activities in the world. He lives in the world even as the dreamer lives in the dream world & the actor acts in a particular movie.

This is what Vritrasura is pointing out in Bhagavatham. This ultimate state of being a mere witness to all activities in the world is what is to be achieved by each and every seeker. This is the only thing which can give us eternal bliss – that which is being sought out each moment. The witness-hood can be achieved when the seeker constantly contemplates on the reality that “I am a mere witness to the activities – I am the Lord who alone is present in the illusory world” – when the seeker constantly remembers this reality and acts in the world as though it is a movie or drama, the conviction grows on and on & the sorrows-sufferings arising out of attachment and involvement with the world vanishes. Thus he realizes his own very nature of eternal and non-dual Lord – unaffected by the illusory activities in the world.

We have to remember that this doesn’t require any particular condition or situation or environment for the same. The one and only criteria for this sadhana is constant contemplation of the ultimate reality that “there is nothing here but the Lord alone & I am that Lord who is the witness of all activities”. For doing meditation or for chanting etc. there are restrictions and constraints whereas for this sadhana, there are no constraints at all. It can be performed at any time & in any place. This sadhana unlike other sadhanas will give the fruit of eternal bliss which is being sought out by each and every person. This is the only sadhana that can give eternal bliss – all other sadhanas of chanting, singing, meditation etc. will only lead a person to this final step which is constant contemplation of the ultimate reality that there is nothing here but the Lord alone, one without a second.

We will continue with the story next.

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