Monday, August 07, 2006

Story 35 – Story of King Chitrakethu - 1

Parikshit thus question Shuka after he heard the story of vritrasura:
“O Brahmin! Tell me how did vritrasura who was of the nature of ignorance get to realize the ultimate reality of Lord?”

In answer to Parikshit’s question, Shuka started narrating the story of Chitrakethu.

Once there was a king named Chitrakethu in the place called Surasena. Of all the innumerous wives he had, he didn’t have any children. This was the only concern and sorrow for him that he didn’t have any children.


We find here Parikshit asking Shuka as to how come vritrasura who was an asura realized the ultimate reality of Lord. As the scriptures proclaim, to realize the reality of Lord, one has to go beyond all the three gunas of sattva, rajas and tamas. Most of the people are in the rajas and tamas level. Thus the first step from a seeker will be to go from rajas and tamas to sattva. Once a person establishes himself in sattva, he has to beyond even sattva – this is what Lord says in gita as GUNA ATHEETHA or that state beyond all gunas.

But since we find vritrasura in the tamo guna level, it is tough to apprehend that he realized the reality of Lord. Moreover it becomes a mystery as to how he realized the reality as he was predominantly in the tamoguna level.

This is where we should remember that external actions can never be taken as such to determine the internal nature of the person. A realized saint will always be acting in the world but still will always be immersed in the reality which is beyond all the three gunas. Any activity at the worldly level is only rajas or tamas. Thus a mahatma or jeevanmukta will be at the tamo or rajo guna level while doing actions in the world. But internally he will always be immersed in the reality of Lord or at the level beyond all gunas.

This is where we need to understand the karma yoga which is nothing but offering all actions unto the Lord and doing actions without any craving for the fruits. When a person offers all actions unto the Lord, there is no doership in him. As long as a person identifies himself with the doer of Ego, he will associated with one or the other guna. But once the doership notion vanishes, he is not at all attached to any gunas but he is the saakshi or witness of all gunas and activities. Thus such a person is above all gunas and not affected by the gunas.

To sum up the answer in short to Parikshit’s question, it is not the activity that one does which matters but the attitude with which the activity is done. As long as there is the attitude of surrendering and offering all actions to the Lord, there is no activity at all – the seeker is thus not at all doing any actions but is just playing a part in the big drama of waking world. This is like the dream world wherein nothing really happens but it is just a play of the mind.

When we have this attitude, there is no doer and hence the seeker goes beyond the three gunas of sattva, rajas and tamas. Vritrasura as we already saw was fully established in the ultimate reality of Lord knowing that whatever is happening is just a mere play in the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus he was implementing karma yoga and was able to realize the ultimate reality of Lord even though empirically was working and doing all activities.
Through this particular question of Parikshit, we come to know another beautiful story wherein we will see how that particular king of Chitrakethu will be instructed by Narada and angiras among other sages.

The biggest problem for any married couple in life is CHILDREN. Either the problem is with no children or with the children who are already there. During initial periods, the couple crave for a child and cry when they dont have one. But once they get a child, they cry because the child gives lot of tortures for them. Whether the torture is while it is a kid or a young person or a middle-aged householder, the problems from CHILDREN are always there. It is but ignorance of the reality that there is nothing here but the Lord alone that causes a person to crave for children.

We find Chitrakethu crying for a child. It is our general wrong notion that only a person who has a child goes to heaven. Even though scriptures proclaim the same, vidyaranya among other acharyas have clearly shown that such statements are arthavaada alone. Even if a person goes to heaven, does he get peace there???? We already have dealt with many stories wherein Indra and others struggle whereas vritrasura was ever blissful. Thus it is not the place that is important but the attitude of knowing the reality and being ever established in the reality. If a person is able to do it this very moment, then he creates a heaven for himself and others surrounding him.

We will start with the story and analysis of the same next.

Once Sage Angiras visited Chitrakethu. Chitrakethu offered his salutations and welcomed the sage. The sage then asked Chitrakethu about welfare of all things. Chitrakethu then replied thus:
“O Sage! You know everything and yet are asking about my welfare. Yet, I will tell you the same. Can a king ever remain happy without any heir to the throne??? O Sage! Save me and my forefathers from darkness by getting me a son”

Angiras was touched and out of compassion prepared a rice and offered it to Thvasta in a sacrifice. The remnants of the sacrifice was offered to Krithadhyuthi, the first and foremost wife of Angiras.

Krithyadhyuthi partook the remnant of the sacrifice and a son was born to them. The king was overjoyed and distributed food, clothes, money etc. to the people in the kingdom.


As the Lord promises in Gita that he will always be there to protect his devotees at any time, we find the Lord keeping his promises in the various stories in Srimad Bhagavatham. Chitrakethu was a pious and devoted king even though didn’t have much knowledge about the ultimate reality of Lord as such. But whoever is devoted to the Lord remembering the Lord at all times & opening up to good-bad-everything to the Lord, the Lord will be there always to solve the problems for such a devotee.

When Chitrakethu was in sorrow as he didn’t have any children, the Lord was there to help out through Sage Angiras.

This is thus a strong statement to each one of us that whoever has taken refuge in the Lord will be protected and saved. We will be seeing in the coming days as to how Chitrakethu was imparted knowledge about the ultimate reality of Lord thereby realizing the ever blissful Lord in each one of us.

As we discussed the previous day, on the one hand couples without children cry for children whereas couples with children cry because of their children. This is what is the way of the life in the world. We think that we can get happiness from external things but forget the sorrowful nature of the external things. The same entity which seems to give happiness currently will lead to sorrow in the future. This is because the external entities all are temporary – therefore full of sorrow as they will vanish one day or the other. All problems in life arises when we fail to realize this temporary nature of the world. A person who realizes the temporary nature of life in the world will never go behind the sensual pleasures. Instead he will be seeking out eternal bliss in the form of the ultimate reality of Lord. But those who fail to apprehend the temporary nature of the world or are bound by attachment to the external world will be depending on the external objects for happiness.

Those who know that the objects in the world cannot give eternal bliss but still pursue it are addicted or a prey to the sense organs. This is what Vedanta calls as vasana or latent tendencies. These are tough indeed to conquer but those who are endowed with knowledge and dispassion put the knowledge into practice and overcome these passions as time passes.

Here in this story, we find Chitrakethu falling a prey to the object called children. The scriptures mention in some places that those who are without children will go to hell. This is what is the reason that elderly yet ignorant people say when somebody in their family wants to take up the path of sanyaas or renunciation. It is but utter ignorance which causes these people to think the same. If we consider this particular statement that those who dont have children will go to hell, then Narada should be the first person to go to hell. But we dont find this – instead we find Narada creating a heaven of his own wherever he goes giving eternal bliss and peace to those whom he meets. Thus acharyas mention that such statements of scriptures are ARTHAVAADAS or futile statements made to create a desire in individuals to certain prescribed actions. It is but a fact that human birth is rare indeed and hence those who have sexual desires still left in them should keep it in control and direct it towards welfare of the world.

The arthavaada statements of scriptures are to be ignored once a person gets over the nitya-naimittika karmas (regular and certain timely activities). These karmas are prescribed for purity of mind when they are offered to the Lord. Once a person starts taking refuge in the ultimate reality of Lord, he overcomes all activities & therefore his activities or actions are not bound by scriptural injunctions. Instead he starts into the path of knowledge where all actions are burnt to ashes.

Chitrakethu like most of us didn’t have knowledge about the reality and hence was deluded into having children. It is but a pity that those who have children worry about why they begot children whereas those who dont have cry over their not having children.

We should remember that anything in the world whether it is even the form of the Lord or one’s own Guru is prone to vanish one day or the other thereby giving only sorrow in the long run. Anything apart from the ultimate reality of Lord cannot give eternal bliss to the seeker. Thus a wise person who is really seeking eternal bliss instead of temporary bliss filled with sorrow, will seek the ultimate reality of Lord.

We will see in the next day as to how Chitrakethu had to suffer because of the child who gave him lot of happiness when the child was born.

Bhagavatham is here pointing to each one of us that the external objects can never give eternal bliss but they can give sorrow & only sorrow in the long run. But when a person seeks the ultimate reality of Lord, he gets eternal bliss – the bliss which we all are currently seeking each and every moment.

We will see the play of the Lord through Sage Angiras in this particular story in the coming days.

Once a son was born to Chitrakethu, his affection towards Krithyadhyuthi and the child increased (than to other queens). This made the other queens jealous and envious. Thus they all together gave poison to the child and killed it. Thus the child was killed. Seeing the child dead, Krithyadhyuthi and Chitrakethu became very sad and started crying aloud.

Sage Angiras knowing that the misery that fell upon them as they had lost their senses and were helpless, came there with Narada to impart knowledge.


Here in this part we find the same child who gave happiness to Chitrakethu is giving sorrow. Chitrakethu is totally out of his senses as a result of this. This is what happens with possession of worldly objects. Any object in the world whether it is the body of the son or the wife is temporary and will vanish one or the other day. It is for this reason that wise people are totally detached from the worldly objects. Even though they might seem to be getting attached to or affected by the activities in the world, still they will be totally detached. Any moment they will be able to detach totally from the attachment to sensual pleasures.

Lord knowing this says thus in Gita:
Ye hi samsparshajaah bhogaah dukhayonaya eva te
Andhyanthavantha kaunteya na teshu ramathe budah

That pleasure which is achieved by sense organs getting attached to sense objects is full of sorrow alone. And since the sensual pleasures and objects have a beginning and an end, the wise never take resort to them.

There is one and only real permanent entity which is termed as Brahman or Lord in the scriptures. Knowledge of the Lord as one’s own inner Self is the only way to eternal bliss. All other happiness which is derived from worldly sense objects will only lead to sorrow in the long run. This is because those objects themselves are temporary – anytime they will vanish. That which is vanishing or will vanish can never give eternal bliss. Thus the ultimate reality of Lord alone can give eternal bliss.

It is not only that these objects will not give happiness but they also lead to sorrow as we see in the case of Chitrakethu here. Thus seekers of eternal bliss should never take resort to sensual pleasures. This doesn’t mean that a seeker shouldn’t eat or enjoy sense objects but only that they should enjoy it knowing that it is temporary and will vanish anytime.

AMMA says that seekers should be like the bird sitting on a branch – the bird is always alert and whenever some strong wind comes, it is ready to fly. The bird knows that the branch cannot give eternal protection and hence will not help it always. Therefore it is ever ready to get rid of the branch – but takes resort to the branch until such situation comes. Similarly we should always remember that there is only one eternal entity and that alone can give eternal bliss. All other things are temporary and cannot give eternal bliss. They are mere illusions in the ultimate reality of Lord. These illusions will only give sorrow. Knowing this reality about the world objects & remembering the ultimate reality of Lord, a person should always enjoy sensual pleasures. In such a case, whenever such an incident as what happened to Chitrakethu happens to us, we will not be affected. Instead we will still remain established in the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus we will remain equipoised and ever blissful.
We find this clearly in the lives of great avatars like Rama, Krishna, Jesus, Buddha etc. Rama was ever blissful and hence was not affected by whatever happend to him. Krishna in a similar way was ever blissful – even at that time, when he was insulted by duryodhana or even when his entire clan fought with each other and died. Jesus even though was insulted and crucified was ever fixed on the Lord. He was ever happy and always wanted welfare of the world even though himself knowing that this “welfare-activity” will not take him far.

Thus all these great saints showed us the path as to how to live in the world yet being fully detached to the world. This is possible only when we are aware of the reality that all that is present in the world is only temporary and an illusion in the ultimate reality of Lord --- with this comes dispassion towards temporary objects & attachment to the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus the seeker gives utmost importance to the ultimate reality of Lord than to anything else. He also gives only due importance to the worldly objects. It is only when we give undue importance to temporary things that problems start creeping in. We should know that the objects in the world cannot really save us even as the bird knows that when there is a strong wind, the branch cannot save it.

The Lord is so compassionate that he never ends up without making the seeker realize the temporary nature of the world. This is what we find in the case of Chitrakethu as well. The Lord was so compassionate and Chitrakethu also had devotion to the Lord that angiras and Narada came to impart knowledge to Chitrakethu.

We will see as to what Angiras and Narada said to Chitrakethu in the next day.

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