Thursday, December 18, 2008

Story 53 – Story of Baana Yudha - 01


We are starting with the next story in Bhagavatham. This story is about an asura named Baana. Let’s today try to see a few important aspects and the story in brief.

We find in this story Baana as a devotee of the Lord. The general notion that we have got from the stories we hear in our childhood about the puranas is that the asuras are bad people who are against the Lord and always forgetting the Lord. But contrary to our notions, we find asuras as some of the greatest devotees of the ultimate reality of Lord ever abiding in contemplation of the Lord. Their duty in this world is to attack the devas and they do it with sincerity, devotion and perfection. The entire family of Hiranyakashipu were devotees of the Lord ever abiding in the Lord. Hiranyakashipu was a Vedantin who didn’t stay away from his normal duties; his son Prahlaada was one of the greatest devotees we can find in the puranas. Prahlaada’s son was Virochana who taught Vedanta to his son Mahabali at a very young age. Mahabali is yet another great devotee who is praised by Vamana himself.

It is unfortunate that we have got wrong notions about asuras and thereby we decry asuras or people who don’t do good worldly activities (any person who is a butcher by profession or doing some bad activities for profession is considered a non-devotee). We should first understand clearly that external activities don’t matter at all – irrespective of our external activity, it is the inner attitude that really matters. People like dharmavyaadha (the butcher in Mahabharatha) do their external activity with devotion to Ishwara (as an offering to Ishwara without any craving for the fruit). Ramana Maharshi describes this beautifully in Upadesa Saram thus:

Ishwara arpitham na icchaya kritham
Chittha shodhakam mukthi saadhakam

Actions done as an offering to Ishwara and without craving for fruit purifies the mind and thereby helps in liberation (from sorrows).

We find in this story Baana who is an asura (bad actions performed externally) but a true devotee in the mind. Real devotion is not determined by external activities – doing pooja daily doesn’t mean we are real devotees; real devotion is when a person is always contemplating on the all-pervasive Lord in his mind. When a person sees the Lord everywhere, then how can there be any pooja as everything becomes a pooja? Whether external pooja is happening or not, internal pooja of always offering everything to the non-dual reality of Lord is constantly happening. It is this inner attitude that gives a person eternal bliss – that bliss which is being sought out each minute of our life.

Many people say that they have been devotees of Mahatmas like AMMA, learning Vedanta for many years, doing spiritual activities like meditation, sandhya vandhanam etc. but when the question comes as to whether they are happy and content with life, the answer is NO. This is because these people are doing external activities thinking that it can give them inner peace – inner peace cannot be achieved by external activities alone but by the mind always contemplating on the all-pervasive Lord.

Mahabali had six sons of which the eldest was Baanasura. Baana who was focused on truth and ever compassionate always with earnestness did Siva bhajanam (contemplation on Siva). Shonitha was the name of Baana’s kingdom. Baana due to Siva prasadam (blessings) was able to live with the Devas serving him.


Here we find that everyone in the entire world serves a person who has surrendered completely unto the Lord and thereby is ever contemplating on the non-dual reality of Lord. The reason for this is simple – whatever is seen in the world (various names and forms) is just an illusion in the substratum of ultimate reality of Lord. The moment a person is contemplating on the ultimate reality of Lord in whom the illusory world is seen, the world which is controlled by the Lord can be changed as per the Lord’s will. Hence for a person who has surrendered unto the ultimate reality of Lord, the entire world will be helping out such a person at all times.

Here we can get a doubt – if the Lord can change the entire world then why does he give suffering to many people?
In fact the Lord doesn’t get any suffering to anyone. The scriptures say that the Lord created the world and entered into the world (the world is the Lord alone). The Lord proclaims in Gita that he resides in the heart of all beings. If a person is able to surrender unto that Lord beyond the illusory names and forms of the world, then he will see that the entire world is blissful. The world in itself is blissful but when it passes through the seeker’s mind, then it becomes poisoned. Poison is not dangerous by itself but when a person consumes the poison it is dangerous. The world when it passes through the mind of a person, the person’s notions (likes and dislikes) get added onto the world – this is where the world becomes sorrowful.

We see a person coming towards ourselves – it is our enemy Rama. Though Rama is our enemy, Rama doesn’t cause any problem to us. But our notion of Rama as our enemy makes us hate him – thus the very presence of Rama causes sorrow in us. This sorrow is not due to Rama but our notion of Rama as our enemy. This is the case with the perception of the world – the world is pervaded in and out by the blissful Lord. But when we fail to apprehend this, we get deluded into the names and forms of the world considering them as real. Thus instead of perceiving the underlying reality of Lord we perceive the names and forms which can give us only sorrow as it is based on likes and dislikes (duality).

When a seeker surrenders unto the Lord he goes beyond the names and forms. Thus though externally something bad might happen to him he will consider it as only good (as everything is by the will of the Lord). If something good happens, Ishwara’s grace. If something bad happens, Ishwara’s will.

Thus a surrendered seeker is not helped by the Lord but he is able to apprehend the ever-present help of the Lord by perceiving the Lord in the entire world (as pervading it).

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