Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Story 40 – Story of Ambariksha – 8

Ambariksha continued his life always contemplating and being established in the ultimate reality of Lord. He considered everything ranging from brahma loka to a piece of sand as similar to Naraka when compared with the bliss rejoiced from contemplation of the ultimate reality of Lord. Finally, he handed over the kingdom to his children and took vanavaasa (going to forest) with his mind fixed on the Lord.

Whoever hears this story of Ambariksha will develop pure devotion towards the Lord and easily get brahma anubhava (ananda anubhava).


We come to the end of this story of Ambariksha. After having food together, Durvaasa went his way and Ambariksha was ever immersed in the ultimate reality of Lord. Ambariksha was not at all attached to anything all the while doing activities as an offering to the Lord with the knowledge that everything is an illusion in the Lord.

He who has enjoyed eternal bliss in contemplation and realization of the ultimate reality of Lord will not seek anything else even the brahma loka which is considered the highest material plane. In brahma loka, there will all kinds of pleasures including the pleasure of living for a longer period of time than the short period of around 100 years in bhoo loka. But all these pleasures are bondages and seeds of sorrow for a person who knows and has experienced the bliss of the Lord. This is what Upanishads proclaim by asking “aaptha kaamasya kaa spriha” – what desire can arise in a person whose all desires have been fulfilled. All desires are fulfilled only through realization of the ultimate reality of Lord. As Manu mentions in the Manu smriti, if a person thinks that he can get rid of desires by gratifying them, it is like trying to extinguish fire by pouring ghee. The fire will not get extinguished but will be burning more. Similarly if a person tries to put an end to desire by gratifying them, he will only end up in the vicious circle of desires-enjoyment.

Desire can never be ended until the seeker realizes them to be seeds of sorrow, seeks the ultimate reality of Lord and finally realizes the eternal bliss inherent in the Lord. Until then, beings go on doing actions for enjoyment and enjoys to do more action. Put beautifully in Vidyaranya’s words in Panchadashi “kurvathe karma bhoogaaya, karma karthum cha bhunjathe” – man does action in order to enjoy; he then enjoys fruits in order to do more action. This vicious circle of actions propelled by desire and enjoying the fruits of those actions goes on and on until a person realizes them to be seeds of sorrow thereby seeking the eternal bliss in the ultimate reality of Lord.

For a person residing in the States (USA), pleasures in India is like hell. For Indra, the pleasure in bhoo loka (wherever it be) is like hell. This goes on and one until the Brahma Loka which is the highest material plane. This gradation ends only in eternal bliss or ananda achieved due to realization of one’s own nature of Lord. Thus for a person who is enjoying the ananda in the ultimate reality of Lord, all material pleasures (in all planes or lokas) are like hell because they are seeds of sorrow and are incomparable with eternal bliss.

Through mentioning of this, Bhagavatham is telling that eternal bliss is something which is infinite and blissful – compared to eternal bliss, all material pleasures are like hell or suffering. This is to instigate desire in the seeker to realize the ultimate reality of Lord thereby getting eternal bliss which is infinite and unlimited unlike temporary happiness achieved from worldly pleasures.

Ambariksha, though was a jeevan muktha , didn’t stay away from doing activities at the empirical level. It is a wrong notion to think that activities will not be performed by a person who has realized the ultimate reality of Lord. Such a person will be the best action-performer because of being unattached to the activities and doing those as an offering to the Lord. We thus find AMMA’s mission doing actions for tsunami and other things more than any other organization or individual in the world. This is more acknowledged from the fact that even Karunanidhi and the DMK accepted AMMA’s activities for the poor. This is to the extent that one of DMK’s ministers prayed for AMMA’s support and help for the party and the state for the poor and needy. This shows that a realized being or avatar or jeevan muktha will be able to do activities in the best possible way because it is as an offering to the Lord and as a mere witness to those activities.

Ambariksha didn’t even stay away from traditional values – this is shown by Bhagavatham mentioning that Ambariksha after handing over the kingdom to his children took to vaanavasa. Vaanaprastha is one of the ashramas that succeeds grihastha. Once a person has done whatever is to be done for his children and society, he should take refuge in a forest and contemplate completely on the ultimate reality of Lord. This is also important because in old age a person is more prone to thoughts which are potential for more births (so that the person is totally immersed in the ocean of samsaara unable to come out of it).

It is interesting and funny that the mention of a youth taking sanyaasa instigates lot of protest from today’s elders that they are deviating from tradition in not taking grihastha. But the same elders fail to keep up tradition by taking vaanaprastha instead always clinging to their kith and kin till the last moment of their life. Cannot but laugh on such foolish comments and advises of eldersJ.

It is not important for us to discuss or analyze the words of such elders but it is important to remember that we shouldn’t commit the same mistakes that they are committing by making these statements. We should always try to contemplate on the Lord and once old age comes, we should renounce everything, take to a secluded place & fully offer ourselves to the Lord so that we are ensured of very less or no more births.

This story of Ambariksha has ended – we will see a summary of the same in the next day.

We have thus completed the story of Ambariksha which is one of the very important stories of Srimad Bhagavatham. What we get to learn first here is that all siddhis except pure devotion to the Lord which results in realization of the ultimate reality of Lord alone are temporary. Siddhis are applicable only to the ignorant person who is deluded into them. But the realized saint is ever immersed in the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus he is not at all deluded into either getting those siddhis or amazed by the siddhis displayed by others. Siddhis will only lead a person to trouble unless it is associated with thought about the ultimate reality of Lord. If a person has siddhis but still is ever contemplating on the Lord, then he will not use those siddhis except for the welfare of the world.

We see in this story Durvaasa who is equipped with siddhis but not remembering the ultimate reality of Lord on one side. On the other side, we find Ambariksha who was a realized saint and ever immersed in the ultimate reality of Lord. Ambariksha didn’t have any siddhis nor was he bothered or affected by siddhis displayed by others because he knew that everything is only an illusion in the ultimate reality of Lord. For a person who knows that everything is an illusion of names and forms in the ultimate reality of Lord, there is nothing to be achieved or aspired. He is an aapthakaama (one whose all desires are fulfilled). The Lord himself is there to protect such an aaptha kaama because he has conquered the Lord in his heart. Thus the Lord had the chakra protecting Ambariksha without even Ambariksha’s knowledge.

Not knowing this, Durvaasa became angry about a small thing which was done in order to not deviate from the traditional vows. This anger led to display of siddhi. This is what we generally do at times of anger. We will say “How dare you! I will show you what I can”. This is what we can always see or hear from our superiors or elders to us who control us. All such stupidity may make the ignorant person tremble and heed to the words of the superior but the realized saint will not be affected by these. The realized saint also will not react to it because for him there is nothing apart from the ultimate reality of Lord. But the Lord looks to it that such rebuttal affects the person who tries to attack the realized saint. Thus it is enough for a seeker to constantly remember the Lord and offer everything unto the Lord. The Lord will take care of everything – some people might ask “will Lord take care about my promotion” -- JJJ Isn’t everything ordained by the Lord??? In such a case, the promotion is also taken care by the Lord only. For devotees, it is the responsibility of the Lord to take care of them even as it is the responsibility of the father to take care of the son. Thus the Lord looks into it that the devotees get promotion – but the greatest promotion is not in office or at home instead in spiritual life. This progress is when the Lord’s thought is ever present in the mind leading the seeker to realize the Lord and thereby ever rejoicing in the eternal bliss inherent in Lord. This progress alone can give a seeker eternal bliss that which is being sought by everyone in the external world.

Thus for a real devotee, the Lord takes care of everything (both material and spiritual). Thus Ambariksha was protected by the Lord through his chakra. Not knowing this, Durvaasa attacked Ambariksha and was counter attacked by the chakra. Nobody except Ambariksha was able to save Durvaasa. This means that if we rebuke a Mahatma, not even God can save us because the Lord himself is a slave of such Mahatma or devotees. Thus we should always respect such devotees and surrender to them considering them as living embodiment of the all-pervasive Lord.

Let us all unlike Durvaasa, control our anger and surrender unto the ultimate reality of Lord thereby being like Ambariksha – doing all activities but still being immersed in the ultimate reality of Lord so that the Lord will take care of our everything.

We will start with the next story of Srimad Bhagavatham in the next day.

There might be a doubt in the minds of seekers as to why is it that we are again and again coming back to the ultimate reality of Lord and that why do we have to hear about Brahman in between two stories of Srimad Bhagavatham.

The truth has been explained in half a sloka by Sankara thus:

Brahma Satyam jagan mithyaa jeevo brahmaiva na parah
Brahman is the ultimate reality; the world is an illusion; the individual Self is Brahman only and not different from it.

It is this single truth that has been explained in many ways in the innumerous scriptures that we have. The Upanishads, the brahma sutra, the gita, the puranas all mention about this reality alone in different ways. The different ways and repetition of the reality in different ways is for people of different types. Intellectual people will be able to understand the reality directly through either the Brahma Sutra or the Upanishad. But the mental and emotional seekers might not be able to easily apprehend the subtle logical truth propounded through the Upanishads. Thus for such seekers, the Lord himself propounded the truth in the Gita. For normal people who aren’t even able to understand the Gita, Vyaasa wrote the astaadasha (18) puranas and the Mahabharatha.

Though the reality is one alone, it has been propounded in many ways to suite seekers of different nature and different level in the spiritual path.

Since we aren’t dealing here with the direct truth as in the Upanishads but only the truth through stories of Srimad Bhagavatham, it is essential that we don’t deviate from the truth or forget the truth. As Sankara’s above mentioned sloka says, brahman or the Lord alone is real – everything else is only an illusion of names and forms in the Lord. The moment we forget the Lord, we are into the illusory world. Either we remember the Lord or we are into the illusion. There can be a question as to what is the problem if we are into the illusory world – wasn’t Arjuna and the Lord himself in the world? The problem with being into the illusory world is that it can give us sorrow and sorrow alone. As is the case with any illusion, it will lead only to more and more delusion thereby giving us sorrow. As long as we consider water as being present in the desert, we will be running behind the water. Once we don’t get water, we will become sad. Therefore if we are into the water in the desert, we will get only sorrow. Similarly as long as we are into the illusory world, we will get sorrow and sorrow alone. It is therefore essential that we focus ourselves on the ultimate reality of Lord than being into the illusory world. Though the Lord was into the world, he knew this reality – this reality was always in his mind and he was living in the reality rather than in the world. Living in the reality is called jeevan mukthi in Vedanta. Jeevan mukthi is that state wherein the person is doing all activities but remembering the ultimate reality of Lord even as a lover remembers his love at all times while doing activities.

There have been many of my friends questioning about karma and that Arjuna was prescribed to do karma by the Lord. Therefore it comes to the conclusion that a person has to do karma and interact with the world. This is following the Lord’s few statements in the Gita that “yudhyasva bharatha” (do yuddha), “karmani eva adhikaarah te” etc. etc. What these people forget is the statements of the Lord succeeding all such karma statements that all actions are to be renounced. The final message of the Lord was “sarva dharmaan parityajya” – renounce all activities and seek me. Here renouncing doesn’t necessarily mean external renunciation but internal renunciation.

It doesn’t matter what action we are doing as long as we are able to remember the Lord in the mind. There are a couple of slokas in Gita where the Lord mentions that if a person does the worse action in the world but remembering the Lord, he is to be considered a saint! The story of Dharmavyaadha (the butcher) in Mahabharatha exactly depicts this (this was one of the favorite stories and character of Swami Vivekananda). Externally we can do any action, have any desire but internally we need to remember the Lord while doing any activity. If a person desires to even rule the world, it is also fine as long as he remembers the ultimate reality of Lord along with the desire.

Such actions where the Lord is remembered is not at all an action. Those actions which have remembrance of the Lord is called a pooja or a yajna (as per the Lord in the 4th chapter of Gita). Thus if we do actions remembering the Lord, it becomes a yajna which can give us only chitta shuddhi or purification of mind thereby leading us to realization of the Lord.

It is very important to remember that any amount of karma cannot give us eternal bliss or moksha – remembrance of the Lord which is called jnaana in the scriptures alone can give us eternal bliss. It is in order to remember the Lord at all times and not to get deviated into the stories that we again and again focus ourselves on the ultimate reality in between stories.

We will start with the next story from the next day. But let us not forget to remember that karma cannot lead us to eternal bliss; knowledge and constant contemplation of the Lord while doing any activity alone can give us eternal bliss.

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