jueves, 8 de julio de 2010

Dhruva Stuti

Beach 9: Speak to God

Wave 2: The Pinnacle of Praise on the Absolute

We shall now give the hymn spoken out by the five-year old Dhruva right in the presence of Lord Vishnu who not only appeared before him in recognition of his severe penance but also sparked him on to speak by touching his right cheek with His divine Conch, the Conch which overflows with Vedic wisdom. This is an extraordinary piece of 12 verses occurring in the 4th skanda of Bhagavatam. Though the Bhagavatam contains many such hymns in praise of the Lord, this one has a unique place , because it was given out by the blessed little boy who first dared not speak a word but was immediately prompted from within by the Absolute Itself. In this sense this hymn is the pinnacle of praise. It may be supposed to be the authentic voice of the Lord Himself on Himself. Naturally it contains the cream of all vedic and vedantic teaching. Usually exponents of Bhagavatam do not find the time to go into this fully. They concentrate only on the first verse. We shall go through all of them verse by verse. Each verse is given in original, followed by a translation and a commentary.

Verse No.1
y'ontaH praviSya mama vAcaM imAm prasuptAM
sanjIvayaty-akhila-Sakti-dharas svadhAmnA /
anyAMSca hasta caraNa-SravaNa-tvagAdhIn
prANAn-namo bhagavate purushAya tubhyaM //

My Lord, I make my prostrations to You. You are the One who has entered into me as my inner soul making me speak. My speech has been dormant all along. You are the One who makes my ears hear, my hands work, my feet walk, my tactile senses to feel, my life to vibrate - all by your Glory, my Lord, who wields Infinite Power.

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The very first verse, hits right on the dot, at the central core of Hindu philosophy, namely, the Immanence of the Absolute. This principle is such a distinguishing feature of Hinduism that it can be said to be the essence of the whole religion. The words 'antaH praviSya' (= entered into) go back to the vedic source:

'Having created the world, He entered it; Having entered it,
He became the Truth as well as the opposite of it
tat sRshtvA / tad-evAnu-prAviSat /
tad-anu-praviSya / saccatyaccA-bhavat

Here the 'entering' has to be understood carefully. It is not as if the world was separate from Him and then He entered it. He is the world and so there is no question of 'entering' it. The 'entering' is an understatement due to paucity of words. This is where words fail, even for the Upanishads, to describe Him and His glories. The commentators emphasize the prefix 'anu' in the word 'anu-praviSya' in the Upanishad and say that this is an indication of the characteristic of Immanence (= antar-vyApti) of the Lord; it is not a physical 'entering' or a 'becoming' but it is a case of 'being'. The Lord is within us ever from Creation.

Incidentally this is the reason why, in Hinduism,
man is not basically a sinner but is essentially divine;
the sinner in him is his acquired mind.
And this is also the reason why, every one is redeemable
if only he tunes himself with the Spirit within.
And this is also the spiritual and religious reason why,
even in secular life we should respect the dignity of Man
and give him his due.

This whole universe has Him as its Life-spirit, says the Lord in the Gita (VII - 5):

jIva-bhUtAm mahA-bAho yayedam dhAryate jagat.

There are two facets of the Spiritual Energy, the Energy of the Lord. One is called the Supreme (parA-) and the other is not-so-supreme (aparA-). The former is the one which gives life to all beings. And the latter is what makes matter what it is. This latter is made up of the five elements plus Mind plus Intellect plus Ego - these constitute the eight-fold aparA- prakRti as it is technically called. prakRti, is simply the Cosmic Energy of the Lord. The parA-prakRti is what makes our life tick. The infinitesimal fragment of this parA-prakRti is the life in us. It is what makes this material body and mind have life, it is what rejuvenates our senses, it is what enlivens them, in short, without it there is no life. So Dhruva says: You are the One who are making me speak, you are the one who is making my eyes see

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and so on. Otherwise; I did not know how and what to talk. You are the one who has given life (sanjIvayati) to my speech and made me give out this poem of praise. All this you are doing by your dhAma, i.e., your own Glory, Your Majesty and Your Will. To such a life-giving principle as you are, I make my prostrations.

And he uses the word namaH as anybody would do in this context. The word namaH in Sanskrit has an esoteric connotation. In simple terms it means 'prostration'. But that is only in the translation, which is convenient, but not faithful. The combination of the syllables na and ma in the word has been interpreted by scholars to denote the self-negating expression na-ma-ma, which means, 'not mine'. In fact it is even declared that there is a significance in the syllable 'na' preceding the syllable 'ma'; Man is so so feeble-minded and so possessive that if he says 'ma' first, which signifies 'mine' he may not have the heart to say 'na' (signifying negation) later!

This expression of humility before the Lord has to be repeated infinite number of times so that it may get into our system and serve as a vAsanA, even in our next lives.

For a fuller explanation of vAsanAsand other basic notions
of Hinduism go back to The Animal Passions of Man

So even when we ordinarily say namaH to someone, the polite greeting implied in the prostration is only an outer decoration, whereas the real significance of the usage of the word namaH is to say that we are making prostration to the divinity which is resident in the other person as much as it is resident in us. 'Prostration to you' (the ordinary usage of namaste, which is nothing but namaH + te) actually signifies 'Prostration to the Divinity in you'. It must be said to the credit of Hinduism that this fact of Divinity being immanent in every living being has been inconspicuously but inextricably interwoven with a daily habit of greeting each other. More so, when one offers worship to the Almighty the word namaH gets added significance because it constantly reminds us that what we possess is not ours, it is all His. Very compassionately therefore, the Upanishad says:

If one worships Him with namaH, at his feet do desires prostrate.
taM nama ity-upAsIta / namyante'smai kAmAH //

- meaning, desires obey him who worships God with the word namaH. Usually it is the desires that control us and make us their slaves. If only we can find a way of desires listening to us and our discretion, half the battle is won. This is exactly where

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the Upanishads become most relevant to daily life. Worship Him with namaH, says the Upanishad -- then you will not have to worry about your desires. Strategically, then, this is the Way!

Verse No.2

ekas-tvameva bhagavan-nidam Atma-SaktyA
mAyAkhyayoru-guNayA mahad-AdyaSeshaM /
sRshTvA-nuviSya purushas-tadasad-guNeshu
nAneva dArushu vibhAvasuvad-vibhAsi //

You are just one, O Lord, but by your own Power called mAyA Sakti consisting of the three guNas, you have caused the mahat principle and all its successor phenomena. Having thus created and entered all the diverse forms (as their inner Light) you appear as many, even as fire appears as diverse in different logs of burning wood.

mAyA the projecting Power, is the first sprouting from the Lord. In the scientific world we think it is the big bang that was the first event in the cosmic evolution of things. You are not supposed to ask what went on before the big bang. In Vedanta mAyA is the origin of everything including the explicit manifestation of Time (= kAla). It is that which projects this universe and hides the Reality. The Reality is called sat. What we see or experience in the form of the universe is (relatively) unreal and so is called asat. The three constituents of mAyA, namely, the three guNas (satva, rajas, and tamas), make up the universe. So the substratum of these unreal objects is the Reality of the Absolute. The Lord through his mAyA has projected the universe and has 'entered' it. It is significant that the vedic word 'anu-viSya' itself is used here signifying the immanence of the Absolute . That is why the entire teaching of the philosophy boils down to the formula: What you see as the universe is, in reality, brahman, not the universe. Put in a more simplistic way this says: It is God that is everywhere. All religions say that God is everywhere. But the immanence theory of Hinduism says much more, namely, there is nothing but God anywhere. Even when we see the Sun shining, it is not the Sun that is the Agent for the shining, but it is the Almighty that is shining through the physical object called the Sun; (Gita 15 - 12):

yadAditya gataM tejo jagad-bhAsayate'khilam /
yac-candramasi yaccAgnau tatejo viddhi mAmakaM

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That Light which is residing in the Sun and which illumines
the whole world, and that which is in the moon and in the fire-
know that Light to be Mine

One of the standard mantras that is repeated when we wave the lighted Arti before the Lord at the end of ritual worship, says: (SvetASvatara-Upanishad: 6-14)

tameva bhAntam anubhAti sarvaM
tasya bhAsA sarvam-idam vibhAti

Everything owes its existence to His Existence;
all that shines shines because of His Light.

The same idea is expressed in the thought that the Self is the Light within and it is because of that Light we see what we see and we feel what we feel. The illuminating analogy for this is a lamp placed within a covered basket (or pot) with several holes in it. The light from within the enclosure of the pot passes through the holes and lights up the outside. We are told by the scriptures that the physical universe that we see is the manifestation of the Light within us, namely the Self. For more on this thought process, go to the Hymn to the Guru, particularly the fourth verse in that hymn.
The Ultimate Supreme is the only one that gives the sanction for the expression of anything in the world, whether animate or inanimate. By itself the Supreme has no name or form. But since it is immanent in everything, it appears as the diverse objects of the universe. Fire shows itself in various forms, depending on the size and shape of the object which burns . So also the Lord appears now as this and now as that depending on what object we are looking at. cf.
katha-Upanishad: (II - ii - 9):

agnir-yathaiko bhuvanaM pratishTo
rUpaM rUpaM prati-rUpo babhUva /
ekastathA sarva-bhUtAntarAtmA
rUpam rUpaM prati-rUpo bahiSca
Just as fire, though one, having entered the world,
assumes separate forms in respect of different shapes,
similarly, the Self, inside all beings, though one,
assumes a form in respect of each shape; and (yet) it is outside.

The Upanishads do not tire in giving analogies. For more analogies on how this Universe has
brahman immanent in it, without brahman undergoing any changes by itself or in itself, go to Absolute As It is.

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Verse No.3

tvad-dattayA vayunayedam acashTa viSvam
supta-prabhuddha iva nAtha bhavat-prapannaH /
tasyApavargya-SaraNaM tava pAda-mUlaM
vismaryate kRta-vidA katham Arta-bandho //

O Lord, O friend of the distressed! You gave the vision to Lord Brahma who thereby visualised the universe (to be created by Him) as one who woke up from sleep. How can one forget your divine feet which is the sole refuge even for those who are liberated?

Before we proceed further we need to have a little introduction to the remaining verses. The whole hymn is in praise of brahman. But brahman is not describable in words, say the scriptures. In fact they describe it only in negatives, such as: it cannot be indicated, it cannot be related, it cannot be specified by categories, it cannot be delimited by characteristics, and so on. So how do you then glorify the brahman or describe it in a hymn? And here the Lord Himself is doing it through the mouth of Dhruva. So first brahman is described in terms of taTastha-lakshaNa, i.e. in terms of definitions which are only indicative, not specific. In other words, instead of directly pointing out to brahman which is a tall order, even for the vedas, one looks at the created universe and infers the Almighty behind. Thus verse Nos. 3 to 9 indicate brahman by dwelling on its creative power rather than its essential nature as It is. The svarUpa-lakshaNa, definition-as-it-is, is taken up in verses 10 and 11. It is interesting to note that, this little boy who is giving out this hymn, has put so much organization into this poem of praise, by separating the two ways in which brahman is traditionally referred. Rightly may we conisder the poem as an inspired one coming out of his mouth by the inspiration through the vedas which the divine Conch passed on to him.
It was You who gave the divine sight to the Creator Himself to recall how He did the Creation in the previous cycle. Let us note here that the Hindu theory of Creation and Dissolution is a phenomenon of recurring cycles. Once Creation starts it is Brahma's day. When everything dissolves in the Infinite Absolute the day-time of Brahma is over and Brahma 'sleeps' as it were. The next morning there is another day of manifestation, that is, creation - which will end up in Brahma's evening by another dissolution. Each such day of Brahma is called one
kalpa. On the

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beginning of every such day, it is the Lord that has to 'sanctify' Brahma with the necessary spiritual power to create the universe.

For more on this go to Cosmic Day of Brahma

The words 'tvad-dattayA' are significant. It is the Lord that sanctioned the Creator Brahma the knowledge of the Vedas which are eternal. How does a new-born child get the knowledge and strategy to suck the milk out of the mother's breast? It is a vAsanA from previous births, granted by the Lord. Maybe Science will one day isolate the gene that is responsible for the capability of the child to suck milk. (Probably, it has, already). But even then, is that the end of all questions? Why does that gene have that property? What or Who gave it that property? This kind of questioning will continue for ever in the scientific world. It is only an infinite regression. Ultimately after every finite stage of our knowledge we have to end up with the concept of 'tvad-dattayA' (given by You, Oh Lord). This is a sound illustration of the taTastha-lakshaNa that is being elaborated in these verses. We cannot see Him through ordinary perception but it is He that is the ultimate reservoir and source of everything that we think we know or do.
In mathematical terms we may describe the relation between Science with its understanding of the universe on the one hand and God the almighty on the other hand as follows in terms of the two
lakshaNas, taTastha-lakshaNa and svarUpa-lakshaNa. The latter is given by the scriptures as satyam-jnAnam-anantam brahma ( See the Absolute As It Is). The former is only an approximation, given by scientific understanding of the universe as of a particular time. It is like summing up an infinite series in mathematics. In Mathematics we know that, for instance,

1 + 1/1 + 1/2 + 1/6 + 1/24 + 1/120 + 1/720 + ... + 1/n! + ... = e

This simply means that the infinite series on the left sums up to a number called 'e'. This latter number is a very important but complicated number. Its value lies between 2 and 3. Its actual value has infinite number of decimal places. Now if you take 10 terms of the above series and actually add them up you will get a number approximately equal to e. If you take 100 terms and sum up again, you will get a better approximation to the same e. Thus the larger the number of terms of the series you take and add up, the better you get an approximation to e. But

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whatever number of terms you take, even if it be in millions you will never get the actual value of the number e. This is what is happening in the approximation of Science to Spiritual Reality. However forward Science may move in terms of understanding Reality, there will be questions at the end for which you will have to resort to the concept of 'tvad-dattayA'!

Verse No.4

nUnaM vimushTa-matayas-tava mAyayA te
ye tvAm bhavApyaya-vimokshaNam-anya-hetoH /
arcanti kalpaka-taruM kuNapopa-bhogyaM
icchanti yat-sparSajaM niraye'pi nRNAM //

You are the One who can grant the release from birth and death. But if people worship you for other benefits and ask you, who are a wish-fulfilling tree, material pleasures to be experienced by the body, which is itself no better than a corpse, their intelligence has certainly been confounded by mAyA; because the material pleasures can be experienced even in hell.

We are all of crooked intelligence, says this verse. Why? The Lord is a wish-fulfilling tree who can give even the final release from births and deaths. Instead of asking this of the Lord we ask from him all sorts of mundane transitory realities. Remember, Dhruva came to the forest to do penance, to see the Lord and ask of Him how he can get onto the lap of his father - the 'privilege' denied to him by his step-mother. But now, the very Lord that is speaking through him has probably made him forget that mundane triviality.

The most significant word in this verse is bhavApyaya-vimokshaNaM, meaning 'the release from birth (bhava) and death (apyaya)'. On the face of it this means the release from the transmigratory cycle. But it means more. It means release from three bondages which cause this transmigratory whirl. They are kartRtvaM (the feeling that I am the doer), bhoktRtvaM (the feeling that I am the experiencer) and ajnAnaM (Ignorance of the Reality). The first one is the series of thoughts like: I did this , therefore I am meritorious; I did that, therefore I am sinful. The second one is the series of thoughts like: I am happy; I am sorrowful. These two feelings of agency as the doer and agency as the experiencer are caused by a further root cause, namely Ignorance. This Ignorance is that of not knowing the Self as different from the body-mind-intellect. It superim

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poses the things that pertain to the body-mind-intellect on the Self behind. The Release that is talked about in the verse is the release from these three basic causes of samsAra.
The fact that we are of such crooked intelligence is itself due to the play of
mAyA. Otherwise why did Man eat the apple in the Garden of Eden? The three bondages mentioned above constitute a vicious cycle that is exactly the doing of the mAyA. The latter is nothing but prakRti working in the presence of the Lord. cf. Gita: (9 - 10):

mayA-dhyaksheNs prakRtiH sUyate sa-carAcaraM
In My supervision and control, prakRti produces
the moving and unmoving world.

Verse No.5

yA nirvRtis-tanu-bhRtAM tava pAda-padma-
dhyAnAd-bhavajjana-kathASravaNena vA syAt /
sA brahmaNi sva-mahimanyapi nAtha mA bhUt
kiM tvantakAsi lulitAt-patatAM vimAnAt //

What bliss one gains by meditating on your lotus feet or by listening to the stories of your devotees, that bliss is not obtainable even in the experience of brahman; what to speak of those who are catapulting down the abyss caused by the eternal sword of Time?

So far the Lord has been indicated by His taTastha-lakshaNa. Before we go to the svarUpa-lakshaNa in the 10th verse, the hymn swings the thought process to bhakti - which is the only path to understand Him as He is and what He is. cf. Gita (18- 55):

bhaktyA mAm abhijAnAti yAvAn-yaScAsmi tatvataH
By Devotion one understands Me
as to What I am and Who I am.

This verse is one of the earliest authorities, in terms of the cosmic chronology of events, for the concept of bhakti as the most ideal path to moksha. It extols bhakti over and above even the so-called experience of the Absolute State of enlightenment, denoted by the glorious name of brahma-anubhavaM. The Bliss that arises from that transcendental state is spoken of as the Infinite Bliss in all scriptures and by all great seers. Here Dhruva says even that pales into insignificance before the bliss that one enjoys in the three major activities of devotion, namely, Meditation of His form in the mind, Singing by the mouth in praise of His Glories, and Bowing by the body to Him in obeisance. cf. Vishnu sahsra-nAmaM - preliminary verses:

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meditating, praising and bowing

The mind that attaches to God automatically liberates. The thesis here is that such a mind is already experience the transcendental experience of bliss, it need not wait for the so-called mukti. Listen to Adi Sankara: (Sivananda-lahari: Verse no.81).

kamcit-kAlam-umAmaheSa bhavataH pAdAravindArcanaiH
kamcit-dhyAna-samAdhibhiSca natibhiH kamcit kathA-karNanaiH /
kamcit-kamcid-avekshaNaiSca nutibhiH kamcid-daSAmIdRSIM
yaH prApnoti mudA tvad-arpita-manA jIvan sa muktaH khalu
Sometime in worshipping Your lotus feet,
sometime in meditation and concentration
sometime in offering obeisance, sometime in listening to stories about You,
sometime in looking at Your form, sometime in singing Your praise -
he who gains such a state in exhultation, having surrendered his mind to You, O Lord, he is verily liberated even when alive.

Listen again to Adi Sankara from the same Sivananda-lahari (Verse No.33):

nAlaM vA sakRdeva deva bhavataH sevA natir vA nutiH
pUjA vA smaraNaM kathA-SravaNam-apy-AlokanaM mAdRSAM /
svamin-nasthira-devatAnusaraNAyAsena kiM labhyate
kA vA mukti-ritaH kuto bhavati cet kiM prArthanIyaM tadA
O God, what is to be gained by following with effort,
gods who are impermanent?
O Lord, is it not enough for people like me to serve you
even once through making obeisance, singing Your praise,worship,
meditation, listening to stories about you or having a
darSan of You?
What else is
moksha other than this?
(Even if there be) what am I then
supposed to pray to you for?

Verse No.6

bhaktiM muhuH pravahatAM tvayi me prasango
bhUyAd-ananta-mahatAM amalASayAnAM /
yenAnjasolbaNam-uruvyasanaM bhavAbdhiM
neshye bhavad-guNa-kathAmRta-pAna-mattaH //

May my association be with those noble souls whose minds are pure and in whom bhakti is overflowing incessantly. By that very association I will easily cross dangerous and sorrowful ocean of samsAra, intoxicated as I will be with the nectar of the stories of Your Glory.

This sets up the tradition of sat-sangh, the association with

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noble souls. In all of Hindu religious literature (and there is no reason to suppose it is otherwise in other religious literature) the value of such association is never superseded by any other religious value. It is the only force which inexorably produces the attachment to the divine. The very strange and powerfully distracting (ulbaNam) abyss of samsAra can be crossed very easily (anjasA) by the spiritualising effect of sharing of the Lord's stories and exploits with like-minded souls of devotion. Every one of their activities, consciously done or unconsciously, is an eloquent expression of the surge of divine love and proclaim it to the whole world. They are like the neem tree which purifies the very air we breathe. That is why Narada confidently says, (Narada-bhakti-sUtra No.68):

parasparaM lapamAnAH pAvayanti kulAni pRthVIMca //

Conversing with one another with choking voice, tearful eyes,
and horripilation, they purify not only their families
but the land which gave birth to them.

Verse No.7

te na smarantyatitarAM priyamISa martyaM
ye cAnvadas-suta-suhRd-gRha-vitta-dArAH /
ye tvabja-nAbha-bhavadIya-padAra-vinda-
saugandhya-lubdha-hRdayeshu kRta-prasangAH //

Oh Padmanabha! They do not get involved in the memory of either their mortal body, or its necessary accessories as kith and kin, friend and foe, property, money and spouse; because they are already immersed in the association with noble souls whose minds are lost in the fragrance of Your divine feet.

This verse characterises divine love, also called Spiritual Love (see the entire chapter on The Art and Science of Spiritual Love starting from 'The non-Absolutist School'). The finest example of this was that of the gopis to Lord Krishna. cf. Bhagavatam.10-30-44:

tan-manaskAs-tadAlApAH tad-viceShTAs-tadAtmikAH /
tadguNAn-eva gAyantyaH nAtmAgArANi sasmaruH
Their hearts given to Him, they talked of Him alone,
they imitated His sportful activities,
they could not think of themselves as different
from Him. Singing His glories all the time,
they could not think of their own homes.

The Gita praises this kind of spiritual Love as the Acme of

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bhakti . It refers to this as total involvement and complete commitment to the Divine, in Gita (5 - 17):

tadbuddhayas-tadAtmAnaH tannishTAs-tat-parAyaNAH /
gachanty-apunarAvRttiM jnAna-nirdhUta-kalmashAH //

Intellect absorbed in That Absolute,
their Self being That Itself, established in That Self,
with That for their supreme Goal, they go whence
there is no return, their sins dispelled by knowledge.

It would be quite appropriate here to recall the classic instance from the Ramayana where Sita, left alone as Ravana's captive in the Asoka grove, is counting days in the expectation that Her Lord would one day come and redeem her. This is how Hanuman who, having located her from his hiding place on the trees, describes her state of spiritual yearning for the One Spiritual absolute, Rama. (Valmiki Ramayana: 5 - 16-25):

naishA paSyati rAkshasyo nemAn pushpa-phala-drumAn /
ekastha-hRdayA nUnaM rAmam-evAnupaSyati
She does not see the
nor does she see these trees laden with flowers and fruits.
Her heart is centred on one single object (alone)
and she is undoubtedly seeing Rama and Rama alone all the time.

Verse No.8

martyAdibhiH paricitaM sad-asad-viSeshaM /
rUpaM sthavishTaM aja te mahad-AdyanekaM
nAtaH paraM parama vedmi na yatra vAdaH //

Oh Ultimate One! The Birthless One! I know only this magnificent material form of Yours which has causes like mahat and the like, which is full of gross and subtle elements and which is constituted by the world of animals, mountains, trees, birds, reptiles, gods, demons and humans. I do not know that which transcends all words, (that which is behind all these).

Dhruva comes back to the taTastha-lakshaNa but now refers to the Transcendence aspect of the Lord. Verses 1 and 2 emphasized the Immanence aspect, verse 3 started the taTastha -lakshaNa, verses 4 to 7 were overcome with the bhakti aspect which that taTastha-lakshaNa prompted and he now continues the taTastha-lakshaNa. And in recalling the transcendence aspect of the Lord he points to the dizzy heights of philosophy in the same way one points to the Transcendental Absolute by the

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indicative character of the taTastha-lakshaNa. He says in so many words; I see You in the universe but I don't see You who are transcending the universe. In saying this he is echoing the sentiments expressed in the famous nAsadIya-sUkta of Rg-veda. We quote below from the corresponding portion of the yajur veda, where there is almost a repetition of the nAsadIya-sUkta:

ko addhA veda ka iha pravocat / kuta AjAtA kuta iyam visRshTiH //
arvAg devA asya visarjane na / athA ko veda yata AbabhUva //
iyam visRshTir-yata AbabhUva / yadi vAdadhe yadi vA na //
yo asyA-dhyakshaH parame vyoman / so anga veda yadi vA na veda
Who verily knows and who can declare it?
Whence it was born ,and whence this manifold creation sprang?
The lower gods who came later into being would not know.
Does the Creator, from whom everything came, know?
Does He know whether it was His will or not that formed it?
The Most High Seer that is in highest heaven,
He verily knows it -- or perchance He knows not.

So Dhruva says: This entire universe, animate and inanimate, the gross as well as the subtle is pervaded by you, but You are said to transcend everything. You are said to be beyond words. Of the five elements, Earth, Water and fire can be visually seen - these constitute the sat; Air and Space cannot be visually seen - these constitute the asat. The entire universe is made up of the sat and the asat. But You are beyond both. Also sat represents the concrete effect, namely the Space and the other elements. And asat represents the subtle Cause behind, like the Unmanifest. You transcend both. Thus You are beyond Cause and Effect. You are not comprehensible by words. You cannot be delimited by finite expressions. Such a one as You are is beyond me. What I see is what I know.
Dhruva is only giving expression to the Rgvedic thought which has now become classical - namely, the relationship between the universe and God, that is, the question whether originally there was Existence (
sat) or non-Existence (asat), is undecidable (anirvacanIyaM) because,

yukti-dRshTyA-tvanirvAcyaM nAsadAsIditi SruteH /
nAsadAsIt vibhAtatvAt nosadAsIcca-bAdhanAt /
By human logic it is undecidable. The
nAsadIya sUkta also says so.
Originally it could not have been non-existence, because now it exists; it could not have been Existence, because the universe came into being later and that means whatever that existed has changed.

Verse No.9

kalpAnta etad-akhilaM jaTareNa gRhNan
Sete pumAn svadRg-ananta-sakhas-tad-anke /

© Copyright V. Krishnamurthy July 15, '99 Home Contents NEXT

(Continued from page 13)

garbhe-dyumAn bhagavate praNato'smi tasmai //

I prostrate before the Lord, the Purusha, who is fixed in His own Self, who absorbs the entire universe at the end of the kalpa in His own stomach, who sleeps on the folds of AdiSesha, his friend, and in Whose navel rises the stem of the Golden Lotus from which Brahma came out.

The phenomenon of the Lord withdrawing everything unto Himself at the end of the kalpa and releasing them at the beginning of the next morning of Brahma is mentioned in all the Hindu scriptures. cf. Gita: 9 - 7:

sarva-bhUtAni kaunteya prakRtiM yAnti mAmikAM /
kalpa-kshaye punastAni kalpAdau visRjAmy-ahaM
All beings go into My
prakRti at the end of a kalpa;
I send them forth again at the beginning of the (next)

For explanation of
kalpa see Cosmic Day of Brahma
For explanation of
prakRti go to Essay on prakRti

The words kAncana-loka-padma-garbe are significant. The Creator Brahma woke up in the stem of the golden lotus which sprang from the navel of the Lord. For this reason he is also called hiraNya-garbha (Golden Conception). As HiraNya-garbha He has a great charge, namely, the charge of the golden container representing the reservoir of all our vAsanAs. This is the one that brings forth our repeated births in the transmigratory cycle, so that we may exhaust our vAsanAs. But instead of exhausting them we add further to the reservoir. And naturally the true phase of Reality is hidden from us because of the opaqueness of the reservoir of our vAsanAs. The ISa-Upansihad therefore contains almost as its last verse a prayer to the Sun-God, who represents this hiraNya-garbha, to give us the vision to transcend our individuality brought on us by our vAsanAs. A meaning of significance of this prayer is contained in Raghavendra.

Verse No.10

tvaM nitya-mukta-pariSuddha-vibuddha AtmA
kUtastha Adi-purusho bhagavAn-stryadhISaH/
yad-buddhy-avasthitim-akhaNDitayA svadRshTyA
drashTA sthitA-vadhimakho vyatirikta Asse //

© Copyright V. Krishnamurthy July 15, '99 Home Contents NEXT

(Continued from page 14)

You are ever-liberated, perfectly pure, the Omniscient Self, the Immutable, the most Ancient Person, the One with all divine attributes, the Lord of the three worlds and guNas. You, though being the uninterrupted Witness, by your Cosmic Vision, of the state of intelligence and also the Lord of all sacrifices, are ever aloof from the jIva, the individual soul.

Now we come to the svarUpa-lakshaNa of the Lord. As explained in The Absolute As It Is, satyam jnAnaM anantaM is the definition of the Transcendental Absolute.

satyam ( Truth) is the same as sat (Absolute Existence).
jnAnaM (Knowledge) and cit (Consciousness) are the same. anantaM (Infinite) and Ananda (Bliss) are the same.

These three facets are presented in EACH of the lines (lines 1, 2 and 4) of this 10th verse of Dhruva-stuti. Since the gAytrI itself is a presentation of these three facets of the Absolute in its three lines, this 10th verse is taken to represent the gAyatrI. How the three facets of the Absolute, namely sat, cit, Ananda are presented in the lines of this verse and also in the gAyatrI is given in the following table.

After the table go to page16

© Copyright V. Krishnamurthy July 16, '99 Home Contents

Dhruva Charitam

(Not yet ready)

For Dhruva stuti consisting of 12 shlokas and their meaning and significance for advaita vedanta

Go to


Dhruva Charitam

Beach 4: A Dose of Mythology

Wave 2: Six Monumental Witnesses

Religious minded devotees usually quote the various scriptures as proof of their conviction that God takes care of His devotees. The sceptics on the other side have a hard time believing such naïve statements. This dichotomy of opinion has been there ever since Man started questioning the Faith of his fellowmen in the supernatural. Kuresa, one of the foremost disciples of Sri Ramanujacharya has written a short poem of seven verses called ‘Arta-trANa-parAyaNa-stotram’. In the very first sloka he says that God is our sole refuge, saviour and support and that six mythological instances prove this beyond doubt. (For the sloka in Sanskrit and its English translation, go to the bottom of the page). But before we mention these six instances cited by Kuresa we need to recall the dimensional context of time-duration in which he is giving us this proof. The six instances identified by Kuresa is over such a long period of mythological history, namely over a period of, roughly, 1.9 billion years, which is the time elapsed since this kalpa started.

To understand the technicalities of time-duration talked about here, go to Cosmic Day of Brahma

The first instance is that of Dhruva which occurred in the early part of the first manvantara, i.e., the first 30 and odd crores (A crore is ten million) of years since the beginning of this kalpa. It was at the end of that manvantara that Prahlada, lived and it is his story that forms the core of the second instance mentioned by Kuresa. The story of Gajendra which is the third instance in the chronological order is said to have happened in the fourth manvantara. The story of Vibhishana and Ahalya occurred in Rama’s time i.e., in the 24th mahA-yuga of the current manvantara. The story of Panchali is just 5100 and odd years old. Thus the six instances which are cited as colossal witnesses for the Supreme Presence of the Lord actually span an unimaginably l…o…n…g period of time. That is one of the reasons why we call them ‘monumental’.

The first story is that of the boy Dhruva who looked for God and found Him. It is a story depicting the apex of the Lord’s benefaction. Dhruva was five years old when this happened. His father was king Uttanapada, his mother was Suniti, but his father favoured his second wife, Suruchi. It was the latter who was sitting next to the throne when little Dhruva walked into the audience-hall one day. He saw his step-brother sitting on the lap of his father. He also wanted to do the same. But his step-mother Suruchi would not allow this. She almost burst out on him with the words: ‘Go and be born as my son in your next birth. Until then you cannot hope to climb to the lap of your father.’ The little boy went crying to his mother. But she, while lamenting the situation, raised her hands to the sky and said, ‘The Lord is our only Saviour’. Dhruva decided to go to the forest, do a severe penance, find God and ask Him! The divine sage Narada appeared before him on the way. Finding how steadfast he was in his determination to look for God, Narada taught him how to contemplate on the divine form. Dhruva did as told by Narada and created an all-time record of a five-year old boy doing a severe penance (tapas) for five and a half months as nobody else had ever done before. The penance was so intense that it sent vibrations of energy all through the Universe. He had the Divine Form of the Lord embedded in his heart and was immersed in the blissful vision inside himself. So when the Lord really appeared he would not open his eyes. The Lord had to take off the inside vision from Dhruva’s mind. Only then did he open his eyes and see the Lord in His full four-armed form in all His dazzling brilliance and majesty. Not being able to say a word he just prostrated before the Lord. The Lord touched his cheek with the Divine Conch and then it was that a beautiful stotra (hymn of praise) flowed out of Dhruva’s mouth. This stotra in 12 verses (called dhruva-stuti, occurring in the SrImad-bhAgavatam) is one of the most beautiful pieces in all of Hindu scriptural literature. The Lord blessed him with a long life of royalty and granted him the centre position in the celestial firmament around which everything in the sky revolves. But even as a boy of five he had already become the lodestar in the firmament of bhakti. The apex of benefaction is in the fact that Dhruva was given the topmost position in the whole universe; in other words there is nothing above him in the material universe. Dhruva is our first Witness.

The story of Prahlada, also from the bhAgavatam, must be well-known to all who have been exposed to the Hindu religion and culture. To those readers who are hearing about it for the first time, here is the story in brief: In order to put an end to the extreme cruelty which a very powerful and inhuman king, Hiranya-kazipu by name, was perpetrating on the entire world, the Lord manifested in this form. Actually the boy-son of this King was very devoted to Lord Vishnu but the King in his arrogance wanted himself to be recognised as the only God, the God, of this universe. After many horrendous but futile attempts to convince his son of his viewpoint, the King asked him to show this God Vishnu who seemed to be the protector of this boy. In extreme anger the father showed a pillar and asked: Is your God in this pillar? The son, Prahlada, with supreme confidence in the omnipresence of the Lord, answered, YES. And lo and behold, the Lord obliged this little boy by appearing in the form of a half-man-half-lion from that pillar. And this appearance proved to be the end of the demonaic King. This story is the monumental record of the efficacy of a full-fledged faith in the omnipresence of God and of the boy Prahlada as the model of such faith. Prahlada is our second Witness. For the full story from Bhagavatam go to VK2/SBAB9.html

The next is the story of the elephant king of yore who appealed to the Fountain of Godhead at his greatest crisis and got divine rescue. Once upon a time in the tAmasa-manvantara there was a King of elephants who was actually in his previous birth a human king by name indradyumna. He was cursed to become an elephant because of a mischief he played on a sage. The elephant gajendra (= elephant-king) was once caught hold of by the leg by a giant crocodile and could not free himself for years. Actually the struggle lasted for a thousand years. At the end the elephant got exhausted and appealed to the mercy of the Supreme Lord by raising a big cry: O Lord of the Universe, save me. At this great crisis it was the Lord Vishnu who answered the call. He sent His divine Disc ( = sudarSana cakra) in advance as a pilot heralding the coming of the Lord. The Disc did its job even before the Lord appered on the scene. The crocodile itself was a gandharva (resident of the world of divines, whose specialty was arts and music) by name huhu, who was living the life of a crocodile because of another curse. Both the crocodile and the elephant were thus released from their curses. This story of the release of the elephant-king is known as ‘gajendra-moksha. It occurs in VIII – 2,3,4 of SrImad bhAgavatam. These chapters are considered by orthodox Hindus to be one of the most powerful for daily morning recitation for the purpose of obtaining moksha at the end of one’s life . One of these verses is included as Verse No.8 in our selection in Speak to God. For the same reason it is also recited at the bed of a dying person. This story has an esoteric meaning which is unforgettable. In the language of mysticism, the soul in its distress must cry out to the Lord to come to its succour. One of the twelve AlvArs, Tirumangai-AlvAr brings out the nuance of the theory of bhakti very effectively when he sings in supplication that only one crocodile caught the leg of the elephant-king whereas five in the form of his senses are pulling him in the vortex of saMsara!

ahalya was sage gautama’s wife. She is considered as one of the leading stars in the firmament of chaste wormen in mythological history. The lord of the divines, indra, is known to have had many forays with out-of-the-law adventures, which involved even a licence for immorality. One such was his visit to the hermitage of Gautama on an early morning after he had tricked Gautama into believing that it was time for him to go to his morning river bath. When ahalyA was thus alone indra took the form of gautama, entered the hermitage and assaulted her modesty. The sage did not take much time to sense this, because on his quick return he saw indra going out of the hermitage and ahalyA was transparently repentful. While indra was given a punishment by the sage in the form of a curse, another curse was also thrown at ahalya by the sage, the curse being that she would become immobile as a stone for a long long period. The redemption from this curse was to be in the time of the descent of the Lord as rAma. Several thousands of years later, it was Lord Sri rAma therefore, who woke her up from her inert state, by a mere touch of his foot. The mere touch of the divine foot was enough to absolve her of all sins, if there were any, after all that punishment of immobility for such a long time.

The supreme example of the Lord being the sole refuge in the most trying of circumstances is also the story of the supreme example of the surrender of the ego in Hindu mythological history. This is the story of vibhISaNa, the youngest brother of rAvaNa. The story occurs in the Ramayana, which should be studied, for the esoteric implications of the story, if for nothing else. Vibhishana never liked his elder brother’s audacity in abducting Sita from Rama’s hermitage during the latter’s absence. The absence itself was engineered by Ravana. Vibhishana showered counsel upon counsel on Ravana both in private and in public. The latter would not listen but went to the extent of insulting his well-meaning brother. Finally Vibhishana decided to abandon his misbehaving brother and seek refuge at the feet of Lord Sri Rama. This surrender of Vibhishana to Lord Sri Rama is called the episode of Vibhishana SarNAgati. A hundred percent faith in the Lord is what is required. It is a conviction that ‘He will protect me under all circumstances’. This trust and confidence in the Lord is the one sure foundation on which the principle of surrender works. The trust in God should be a trust with total abandon. This is the abandon which forms the concluding part of the Lord’s advice in the Gita. It is the abandonment of all dependence on anything other than the Lord.

Infinite compassion is shown by the Lord in the story of Draupadi also known as PanchAli, the daughter of the PanchAla king.. The scene - this is the central traumatic scene in the long drama of the mahAbhArata epic - is the large assemblage of kings and princes in the Palace hall of Dhritarashtra, the Kaurava emperor where the Pandava prince has just gambled away everything he posessed - including himself, his four brothers and their devoted consort, the Princess Draupadi. The helpless princess is forcibly dragged to the hall and outraged by an attempt to strip off her sari. Draupadi cries in horror and despair. O Lord of Dwaraka, where are you? None but you can save me now. I surrender to you. The entire assemblage shamelessly watch without raising a finger. But lo! And behold, the sari starts lengthening and though it is pulled off most viciously, Draupadi remains covered. The other end of the sari never appears. It simply goes on and on. By the Infinite Grace of the Lord the sari has become as it were, infinite in length!

These are the six stories, spread over the past cosmic time in this day of brahmA, which are cited in the classic verse of Kuresa, given below.


audAryAd-agha-SoshaNAd-aghaNita-SreyaH-padaH-prApaNat /

sevyaH SrIpatir-eka-eva jagatAm ete ca shaT sAkshiNaH

prahlAdaSca vibhIshaNaSca karirAT pAncAly-ahalyA dhruvaH //

Meaning: In the entire universe, it is Sri hari (VishNu) that is to be worshipped as the Ultimate Resort. Six colossal figures stand testimony to this: Prahlada, Vibhishana, Gajendra the elephant-king, Panchali, Ahalya and Dhruva. They are the blessed ones who have received , respectively, superlative affection, supreme refuge, undisputable protection, infinite compassion, total absolution and apex of benefaction, from the Lord.


Previous page For notes on mythological names referred, go to MYTHOLOGY Next page

May 7, '99 Copyright Ó V. Krishnamurthy

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