Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Story 47 – Story of Destroying Indra’s pride – 02

The people of Vraja therefore started worshipping Krishna as Ishwara and seeing everything as Ishwara. During that time, Krishna who was a child of just 7 years destroyed Kaliya and his family of snakes who were poisoning the Yamuna river. This strengthened the faith of the gopakumaras that Krishna was none other than Ishwara.


The gopakumaras’s belief that Krishna was Ishwara himself was strengthened. By what? By Krishna’s killing of the Kaliya snake who was poisoning the water in the Yamuna River.

This incident of Krishna killing Kaliya and thereby dancing over Kaliya is very famous. This incident has a spiritual symbolism relating to a sadhaka’s life in the world. The water in any river is pure. The pure water signifies our own nature of Self – the Self is ever pure and untainted like water. But when snake Kaliya and others started roaming in the water, the water was getting poisoned. Kaliya denotes the passions of the mind which are kaama (desire), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), moha (delusion), mada (pride) and matsarya (jealousy). These passions arise out of the notion of likes and dislikes towards entities. Likes and dislikes are caused out of considering the world as having different things – which means that dual notion or considering duality as real causes likes and dislikes. Dual notion is caused by one’s ignorance of the reality that the Lord alone exists here, one without a second. Thus ignorance of the reality that Lord alone exists and everything is but an illusion in the Lord causes a person to be poisoned by the snake of Kaliya. When the water is poisoned by the snake, then the water causes death to people who drink it. Similarly when the Self is poisoned by ignorance, then it causes a person to consider himself as suffering and finally subject to death.

The goal of all beings is to get rid of sorrow completely and thereby experience eternal bliss. This goal is not achieved and the opposite is achieved when the Self is poisoned or tainted by ignorance thereby making a person suffer without any bliss, peace, contentment or satisfaction.

Thus in order for a person to be blissful, the snake of Kaliya has to be killed. The Lord in the form of Krishna killed Kaliya by dancing over Kaliya. Dancing over the snake denotes being above the passions of the mind thereby not being controlled by them but controlling them. This is possible only through the Lord of Krishna. This indicates total surrender to the Lord. When the pure water which is tainted by the passions of the mind takes refuge in the ultimate reality of Lord through devotion and surrender, then the Lord kills the passions of the mind thereby making a person realize his very nature of pure Self.

Thus through this short and miraculous incident in the life of Krishna, Bhagavatham points to us the cause of sorrows in our life as well as the way to eternal bliss which we are seeking each and every moment of our life.

Let us all have devotion and surrender to the Lord of Krishna thereby killing the snake of Kaliya and making the water pure (symbolizing realization of our own nature of Self thereby rejoicing in eternal bliss).

During that time in Gokula (when Bala Krishna killed all asuras and protected the people), Nandagopa and other people started preparing for Indrayaga (yajna for propitiation of Indra). Seeing this the all-knowing and all-Self Lord questioned him with humility thus “O Father! Why all this preparation and trouble? What do you want to achieve through this yaaga? Tell me what is your desire to be achieved? Good people never hide anything. Knowingly and unknowingly man does actions aspiring things in life. He who does actions with discrimination (viveka) will win. A person without discrimination will not gain victory. Therefore tell me openly as to what is the goal behind this action of Indrayaaga”.


It is natural that we do as is instructed by our ancestors. Though the current day generation is more into analyzing and questioning things, yet when it comes to basic activities of the world very rarely people do question those. The scriptures proclaim that the way out of the ocean of samsaara is by gaining knowledge of the Self from a Guru. If we have to learn from the Guru, we have to seek the Guru and do three activities – first is falling at the Guru’s feet symbolizing surrender; second is doing service to the Guru symbolizing selfless action; third is putting forth the right questions regarding the world and the ultimate reality of Brahman beyond the world.

It may happen that we put forth the wrong questions thereby getting distracted from the spiritual path. It is therefore essential to put forth the right questions. Right questions include questions about one’s own real nature (as distinct from the body-mind-intellect complex), about the nature of the world and about that which is eternal thereby giving us eternal bliss. Upanishads start with the disciple putting forth the question to the Guru as to teach that by knowing which everything is known – such an entity is termed in the scriptures as Brahman or Lord. Since the world is an illusion of names and forms in the reality of Brahman, knowing Brahman will make us know everything essentially. Once we know the all-pervasive and blissful Brahman, there will be no more desires left. When there are no desires left, we will be ever blissful, peaceful, content and satisfied. Such a person who is ever blissful doesn’t seek anything and has attained that by knowing which everything ends – such a person is termed in the scriptures as a jeevan muktha (one who is liberated from the bondage of ignorance, desire and actions). Thus it is very essential to put forth the right questions.

As time passed by (since ancient times), people forgot the importance of doing the right actions and putting forth the right questions to the Guru. Krishna by questioning the activity of Indrayaaga is thereby emphasizing that we shouldn’t do activities with blind-faith and without knowing as to what is the import behind it. Krishna is also emphasizing that we shouldn’t just merely do activities started by our ancestors.

The current-day Brahmins do sandhya vandhanam; most of devotees chant Lalitha Sahasranama or Vishnu Sahasranaama daily; Siva followers chant the Rudram daily; but rarely any of these people who as to why such activities are done and what is the purpose of doing such activities? It is dangerous to do activities without knowing the import and purpose behind them. It not only leads us away from the ultimate reality of Lord but it also makes us addicted to such activities. Thus there are many Brahmins who are so addicted to doing such devotional activities that when they are on death-bed they start complaining that “Ishwara didn’t let me do even my sandhya”!! That is the pitiable state of doing activities without knowing the import behind them.

AMMA gives a beautiful story to illustrate this. Once a person used to do pooja in the pooja room daily morning. At that time there used to be cat in the house which used to disturb his pooja. Thus daily before doing pooja, the person used to give a bowl of milk to the cat so that it doesn’t obstruct his pooja – this strategy worked. Years passed and the person died. He didn’t instruct his son as to why he was giving milk to the cat daily before pooja. Therefore the son thought that it was some ritual and started following it. This continued for traditions. Finally in one generation, the person didn’t have any cat in the house. Thinking and believing that this is a ritual (and not questioning the activity and its import), the person started loaning a cat from the neighbour’s house in order to give milk before pooja. This is the pitiable state of all ritualistic activities that we do. We don’t know the importance of the activities and thereby do this as a duty daily. Unless we know the real import of an activity, we will be mislead into the activity rather than the import of ultimate reality of Lord who is sought through all worldly, religious and spiritual activities.

We will see as to what Nandagopa answers to Krishna’s questions regarding the activity of Indrayaaga.

Let us all unlike the vraja vaasis know the import and utility of all spiritual activities so that we will be lead in the right direction towards realization of our own nature of ultimate reality of Lord.

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