Friday, November 17, 2006

Story 38 – Story of the churning of the ocean - 03

The Lord being happy with the devotion of the devas spoke thus:
O Devas! Listen carefully what I am going to say. Temporarily you should come to an agreement with the asuras. Time is favoring them now. It is essential during some times to go hand in hand with enemies as well. You need to get amritam or nectar. That will make you eternal and without death. You should churn the paalaazhi. Make the mandara parvatha the support for the churning. Vasuki (the great snake) will be the rope. I will stay with you as your supporter. The asuras will lose out and you will get amrita. You may get lot of things which churning but your goal should be amrita alone, you shouldn’t get attached or averted to anything else which comes out of the churning.


The advice given by the Lord is in fact an advice to each and every seeker. It is not a specific advice related to getting of amrita for the devas but it is a generic advice to each one of us to attain immortality. Immortality or amrita is becoming eternal. So long as a seeker is associated with the limited body-mind complex, he cannot become eternal because the body and mind are non-eternal having a beginning and an end. The one and only way to become eternal by getting rid of the wrong notion that “I am the body, I am the mind” thereby realizing one’s own very nature of eternal Lord.

When a seeker seeks amrita in the spiritual path, he will come across various siddhis or powers. These powers are also mere illusions in the ultimate reality of Lord. A person whose focus is not fixed unto the ultimate goal of eternal bliss as the Lord will be deluded into these siddhis. These various siddhis include the power to create things, the power to imagine/predict things, the power to travel to difference places etc. All these are illusions and temporary alone because they are limited by the limitations of time, space and causation. The ultimate reality of Lord alone is real and eternal – everything else whether it is Lord Brahma or Vishnu or any other siddhi is temporary only. Real seekers will always be focused on the ultimate reality of Lord and never get deluded into the various siddhis.

The Lord here cautions the devas that there will be many things coming out of the churning but they shouldn’t get deluded into it. Seekers should thus not get deluded into the various siddhis and material benefits that are attained while he is progressing in the spiritual path. The goal of ultimate reality of Lord should never be forgotten – it should be remembered all the while. It becomes easy to remember the goal of ultimate reality of Lord if the illusory nature of everything apart from the Lord & eternal nature of the Lord is kept in mind. Thus the Lord is here advising the seeker to constantly remember the two aspects of the reality that everything is only an illusion & the Lord alone is real-eternal. If a seeker remembers these two aspects, he will never be deluded into anything apart from the goal of realization of one’s own nature of Lord.

Once a person gets deluded into the various siddhis, he will forget the goal of ultimate reality of Lord. Moreover he will become attached to the siddhis & ego attitude will be developed towards siddhis. The siddhis are as eternal as any sense object & hence will lead to sorrows/sufferings alone. It will lead the seeker more and more deeper into the ocean of samsaara. Thus a seeker should always try to be focused unto the goal of realization of one’s own nature of Lord and never get deluded into the siddhis as well as worldly pleasures.

We will try to see the spiritual symbolism of the churning of the ocean in the next day.

We will today see the import or essence behind the churning of the ocean. Whatever be the action, there has to be goal which is sought or desire while performing the action. The goal to be achieved through churning of the ocean was amrita. This is the very aim of each and every one of us. The ultimate goal of eternality or immortality is what we are seeking in the form of eternal bliss. Irrespective of caste and creed, everybody is searching for eternal bliss alone. We are searching for eternal bliss but in the wrong place of worldly objects. Eternal bliss can be got only from an eternal entity. The eternal entity is none other than the ultimate reality of Lord – there is one and only one eternal entity as everything else is a mere illusion in the reality of Lord. The Lord of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute alone is real. Everything else is only an illusion of names and forms in the reality of Lord. Thus realization of the ultimate reality of Lord alone can give us eternal bliss associated with satisfaction and contentment. This realization alone can take us to the state where we will not seek anything else & there will be perfection at all times.

Realization of a Lord different from oneself can never give eternal bliss because there will still be difference between the seeker and the Lord. As long as difference or duality exists, there cannot be eternal bliss because of the limited feeling caused between both the entities. It is for this reason that the Upanishad proclaims that there is no duality whatsoever here & whoever sees duality as existing will go from death to death.

Thus eternal bliss or immortality can be achieved only when the seeker realizes the non-dual reality of Lord as his own very nature of Consciousness. This is the goal of all activities that a person does in the world. Knowingly or unknowingly we all are seeking the goal of realization of the ultimate reality of Lord. Seekers in the spiritual path seek the goal in the right place through scriptural learning and constant contemplation of the Lord whereas worldly people seek the goal in the illusory world never to find it instead getting sorrows/sufferings alone.

Devas denote the good thoughts or practices of the mind. Asuras denote bad thoughts of the mind. Bad thoughts are those which tend to make the seeker indulge into sensual pleasures with forgetfulness of the Lord. It is not the thought that makes it bad or good but the attitude behind the thought. If the seeker is able to remember the Lord all the while enjoying sensual pleasures, then it is a good thought alone as it leads him towards the goal of Lord. This was the case of kings like janaka, ambariksha etc. in the puranas who were indulging always in sensual pleasures but still jeevan mukthas as their mind was completely fixed on the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus we can redefine devas as those thoughts which are accompanied by or are helpful in the remembrance of the ultimate reality of Lord. Asuras are those thoughts which lead the seeker away from the ultimate reality of Lord.

When the asuras are powerful and the seeker is constantly drawn by the asuras, he should take refuge in the Lord or the various saints in the world. This is what is indicated by Brahma going to the Lord (Brahma denotes the ego or ahamkaara which seeks eradication of itself by merging unto the ultimate reality of Lord). The Lord then instructed Brahma to take the help of asuras and thereby churn the ocean to get amrita. This means that we have to take the help of both devas and asuras in order to get amrita. As long as a seeker is living in the world, sensual pleasures & indulgence will always be there & cannot be avoided. Instead of fighting to get rid of those which will in turn lead to more and more complications, the seeker should even direct those towards the ultimate goal of eternal bliss. This is done through associating the thought of the Lord even while indulging in sensual pleasures. When a seeker is thus eating sweet laddoos, he should remember the Lord & offer the eating as well to the Lord. This is how the asuras can also be made to help the seeker in the progress towards the ultimate reality of Lord.

Churning of the ocean denotes churning of the ocean of samsaara which is nothing but getting rid of the ocean of samsaara by the fire of knowledge. The puranas speak about baadava agni as the fire which dries up the ocean (this is an exception to the general rule wherein fire is vanquished by water). The fire of knowledge through constant contemplation of the ultimate reality of Lord dries up the ocean of samsaara. Thus churning here denotes constant contemplation of the ultimate reality of Lord. The mountain based on which the churning is done denotes steadfastness. It is essential for a seeker to be steadfast in the spiritual path all the while living in the world. A seeker has to be strong and stable like the mountain which doesn’t shake even by the force of storms. Thus even if strong storms of worldly problems arise, the seeker will still remain stable on the ultimate reality of Lord like the mountain. The rope with which churning is done denotes the thought of the Lord – positive thoughts like chanting, meditation etc. which help in the final process of constant contemplation of the Lord. The rope is essential to get a grip of the mountain as well as to achieve the process of churning. The rope of thoughts conducive to the Lord is essential to remain steadfast in the spiritual path thereby aiding in constant contemplation of the ultimate reality of Lord through drying up of the ocean of samsaara.

When the process of churning is done, the seeker will come across various siddhis and materialistic benefits. But the seeker shouldn’t get lost in those as that will hinder his progress towards eternal bliss. We find Yama trying to lure Nachiketha in the Katha Upanishad through promising of long life, good children, money etc. but Nachiketha who was clear and steadfast in the goal didn’t get lured in those. Thus Nachiketha could proceed further and thereby realize the ultimate reality of Lord in the form of eternal bliss & immortality.

Indra did as he was instructed by the Lord. He then took the asura chakravarthi Mahabali into his confidence. Thus the asuras and devas started lifting mandara parvatha into the ocean. On the way, they became very tired & the parvatha fell out of their hands. At that time, not only that the Lord came running to help them, he removed their tiredness through his grace as well as helping in the lifting of the parvatha with garuda.


We find in each and every part of Srimad Bhagavatham, the emphasis on the ultimate reality of Lord. We have to constantly remember and keep in our mind that the moment the Lord is forgotten, we enter into a world of illusion. The Lord alone is the independent and eternal entity. Forget the Lord and we enter into the various names/forms which are mere illusions in the Lord. This is the same as getting deluded into the names and forms of gold ornaments all the while forgetting the reality of gold. If we don’t remember the reality of gold behind the ornaments, we are into trouble. The names and forms are temporary and will surely vanish one day. If we forget the reality of gold, we will get either attached or averted to the names-forms. This attachment or aversion will cause a problem when the names-forms vanish. Thus forgetting the reality of gold will only lead to problems in the form of sorrows and sufferings.

It is the same case with the world of names-forms and the ultimate reality of Lord. The moment we forget the Lord, we enter into the illusion of names-forms. Names-forms will lead us to sorrows and sufferings alone. The water seen in desert should be known as an illusion in the desert & desert itself. If we forget the water to be nothing but desert, we will run behind the water expecting water. Once we find that there is no water, we will become sad that we didn’t get water & that we ran for the water which was not at all there. Similarly if we forget the ultimate reality of Lord, we will be led to sorrows and sufferings alone. This is the reason why we find many people being devoted to the Lord and well-versed in the scriptures but still unable to be happy. This is because they forget the ultimate reality of Lord instead seeking just a form God getting attached to the particular form. Scriptural knowledge is knowledge of the ultimate reality of Lord as beyond all names and forms and the as the non-dual reality of Consciousness. Similarly pure devotion is constant remembrance of the Lord at all times beyond everything. Our devotion shouldn’t be part-time devotion thinking about the Lord only during troubles or once a week while going to the temple; we should remember the Lord at all times. A real devotee is one who cannot forget the Lord & his every breath is spent in remembrance of the ultimate reality of Lord. This is possible only when there is total and complete surrender to the Lord.

If there is pure devotion through total surrender, the Lord will be there at all times to protect and help the devotee. This is what we find in this part of the story. The devas and asuras were tired of lifting the mountain and couldn’t move it. At that time, the Lord himself comes to help them with garuda. This is the compassion of the Lord. The Lord is ever ready to help everyone. The Lord cannot but help everyone because he is the very nature of each and every individual. We all are in essence the ultimate reality of Lord of the nature of Consciousness. But we tend to forget our nature of Consciousness and get deluded in the various names-forms. The Lord has to make us remember this because only then we will realize our nature of the Lord. Thus the Lord is ever willing to help us. But we have to become eligible to get the help and grace of the Lord. We will not be able to get sunlight if we close the doors/windows and sit inside. We have to open the doors of our heart & then we will be able to apprehend the ever present help and grace of the Lord.
A real devotee who has totally surrendered to the ultimate reality of Lord can feel the presence of the Lord at all times. In each and every activity in the world, the devotee sees the presence of the Lord. Whatever be the activity and whoever be it doing the activity, the devotee knows that it is the Lord who is working through the person. The Lord as the essence of all beings is the illuminator of all activities. Even as the Sun is the cause of all activities on earth, the Lord is the cause of all activities in the world. Any activity is not possible without the ultimate reality of Lord of the nature of Consciousness. As we all know clearly that without Consciousness no activity is possible as a person has to be conscious to perform an activity. The Consciousness in each individual is none other than the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus without the Lord, no activity is possible. The devotee knows clearly this that everything in the world is nothing but the Lord alone. When we see the diverse names-forms, we find it to be different from the Lord. But when we see the underlying substratum of all beings, we will find the ultimate reality of Lord.

For a person who sees the Lord as present everywhere and as the illuminator of all activities, everything is but the grace of the Lord alone. Even if something bad happens for a devotee, he considers it as the will of the Lord & for the good alone. Thus there is neither good nor bad for the devotee who sees everything as the Lord alone. This is called sama bhaavana or equanimity in everything. The devotee sees and perceives the Lord alone – slowly the devotee will finally merge into the ultimate reality of Lord. This merging is what Vedanta calls as moksha or liberation from the illusory bondages of the world. Moksha is nothing but realization of one’s own nature of Lord as when the devotee merges into the Lord, there is the non-dual Lord alone. Since the Lord is of the nature of bliss, the devotee experiences bliss alone – the same bliss which we all are seeking in the external world.

If we have to get eternal bliss, we have to seek the Lord through pure devotion. While following the path of spirituality, the seeker might encounter difficulties in one form or the other. These difficulties will easily be overcome when there is total and complete surrender. For such a person, the Lord himself will come to help the person out of the difficulty as is shown in this particular part of Srimad Bhagavatham. We all thus have to gain pure devotion through total and complete surrender unto the ultimate reality of Lord.

We will continue with the story in the next day.

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