Monday, August 9, 2010
WHO AM I (POST 5) = THIRD GREAT STORY ON MAYA = MAYA UNRAVELLED
THE GREAT MAYA
Of this universe
WHO AM I?
This is the 5th Post in the series of “WHO AM I”.
In the 4th Post in this series – we have seen how the Great King of Angels, Indra fell easy pray to MAYA, led a pig’s life happily and refused to become Indra again until his pig’s life ended violently.
We also saw how the divine sage, Narada, a confirmed Brahmachari who had renounced marital life by thought word and deed all through his life, was tempted into marital life by MAYA, fell headlong into it, married a beautiful girl, begot two children but finally lost his wife and children and was sobbing in uncontrollable grief – until he was woken up from the MAYA by Lord Krishna, to realize that the whole thing was the handiwork of MAYA and was not much unlike a dream.
If Indra’s Pig life and Narada’s marital life were MAYA – and one can wake up from MAYA into a different reality – the question naturally arises, what is this MAYA after all, how it alters our perceptions of the reality, and if so, what really is the REALITY?
We will examine this seriously in another post. But, let us first see one more mythical story of Lord Krishna’s MAYA. I have heard this half a century ago; so my recollected version may be slightly varied from any books it may have figured in. But, to understand MAYA, this story is also a good example.
The period of the story is - after the Maha Bharat War is successfully finished. Pandavas are contemplating the conduct of ASWA MEDHA YAGA (the great horse sacrifice ritual).The Ritual Horse is allowed to go all over the earth freely, wherever it wants to go and if it enters any part of a kingdom, the king of that place has 2 options.
Either he receives the Ritual Horse along with its accompanying warriors into his palace, accept their supremacy and invitation to attend the sacrifice and be their friends – or, he can capture the ritual horse and fight with the accompanying warriors. Whoever wins retains the horse. The other must become their subject.
Now, this Ritual Horse is accompanied by ARJUNA, the best of warriors of his day and the third among the five great Pandava brothers. The ritual horse goes to many kingdoms whose kings accept the friendship of Pandavas without contest. But at one place, Tripura, where his once-upon-a-time-married-wife Chitrangadha is ruling, her son, Babhruvaahana, captures the horse at the incitement of his mother and calls Arjuna for a fight. While his mother wanted her son to show his fighting skills to Arjuna who is his father, Babhruvaahana manages to kill Arjuna with the help of a Nagasthra (a divine Cobra weapon) against which Arjuna has no real protection.
Arjuna is unable to recall any of his better divine weapons when this Nagasthra is coming towards him and falls to this weapon. This divine Cobra governing this weapon had a previous grouse against Arjuna for killing its family members and had in fact tried to kill Arjuna in Maha Bharat War. But, when he, as a weapon, was used by another great warrior, Karna, Lord Krishna saves Arjuna and allows the cobra to take only the head-gear of Arjuna.
Having gone waste in the Maha Bharat war, this divine Cobra was again waiting for a chance and on knowing about the Aswa Medha Yoga and its consequences, it goes into the weaponry of Babhruvaahana. As he faces Arjuna in battle, the divine Cobra, as it did with Karna, urges Babhruvaahana to use him for defeating Arjuna. Babhruvaahana does that and promptly the divine Cobra beheads Arjuna and also takes away the head of Arjuna to his Naga Loka, the great abode of the divine Cobras.
On knowing the fateful battle’s result, Chitrangadha becomes very sorrowful, abuses her son, but eventually calls all the Pandavas, Lord Krishna and others. Lord Krishna comes along with all his family members, his eight wives, his sons and relatives. Pandavas come along with Draupadhi, their wife, Subhadra, Arjuna’s wife and many other family members and well wishers.
All are sobbing profusely at the Death of Arjuna, who is a darling to everybody there. Chitrangadha is sobbing profusely too and asks Krishna how his closest friend Arjuna can die when Lord Krishna has blessed her to be Sumangali all her life. Sumangali means – that married lady, whose husband lives through all her life, will not leave her by his death, and she is to be the one to die before the husband. This is considered a great boon for married ladies. Draupadhi and Subhadra who are also wives of Arjuna ask the same question to Lord Krishna. Subhadra is also the sister of Lord Krishna and it is Lord Krishna who gets her married to Arjuna, much against the wishes of their elder brother, Bala Bhadra (also called Bala Rama). The wives of Arjuna surround Krishna and demand his explanation. Being a divine incarnation, how can his blessing too go wrong? That too, in the case of his closest friend and disciple! How is this possible?
Lord Krishna assures them that he will make Arjuna alive again for their sake and to keep his word. He manages to get the head of Arjuna from the Naga Loka through another son of Arjuna who incidentally, belongs to Naga Loka. The severed head is now kept along with the body, for giving life to Arjuna.
Then, Lord Krishna declares to the whole world – that he had been following the great vrat (sacred ritualistic vow) of Brahma Charya (Celibacy) from Birth till this day by thought, word and deed and therefore, he is sacrificing the total result of that Great vrat of Brahma Charya to Arjuna, so that the slain body of Arjuna may receive life again and Arjuna may live again.
Lo, Arjuna’s head joins the body instantly and Arjuna becomes alive again. All are very happy that Arjuna has again become alive.
All except one!! That one is Sathya Bhama, the prettiest and proudest wife of Lord Krishna. Among Lord Krishna’s eight famous wives, she is the most possessive one. She has several children through Lord Krishna.
Very angrily she rises and begins abusing Lord Krishna. She says “Krishna, stop your plays. What do you mean by you being a Celibate from Birth to this moment? That too, by thought, word and deed? How do you say that my children are born then? How are the children of your other wives born? Are you making us a laughing stock before the world and casting aspersions on our character and integrity? Tell me, what is your new play? Why are you making us such a laughing stock?”
Now, the tune of Sathya Bhama catches on among his other wives too, and they start demanding Krishna’s explanation. The Pandavas and all others around are also now in wonder – how Krishna could be a celibate with so many wives and so many children?
Yudhistir, the eldest and wisest of Pandavas, asks Krishna how this could be a truth.
Krishna looks at all. The time for blessing all of them with divine wisdom has come. All of them are his devoted disciples and are all about to close their earthly life soon.
Krishna smiles at all of them and asks them to be attentive. Now, he removes the veil of MAYA from all of them and asks them to look at each other.
Yodhistir looks at all. He is wonder struck at what he is now witnessing. Where Sathya Bhama was standing, now, lord Krishna is standing. Where Bheem, his brother was standing, there also, Lord Krishna is standing. Where the revived Arjuna was, Lord Krishna is. Where the wives and children of Krishna were, there also, Lord Krishna is. Every where, Yudhistir can now see only Lord Krishna. Yudhistir, the wisest of his times, is now beginning to understand the MAYA that surrounds them and that makes them so distant from the lord who is so near to them. Without further words, he prostrates before the lord and surrenders totally. As the MAYA leaves them momentarily, all of the surrounding relations and friends, slowly but surely, become able to see that it is all divine play of Krishna. Krishna divides himself into all of them, indulges in his divine play and closes it when it pleases him. All of them understand now how close is the lord in their heart. All of them, including the proud Sathya Bhama, prostrate before the lord.
The MAYA again envelops them and they again become like the devotees, disciples and friends of Lord Krishna that they were earlier – but with a difference. They now have that whiff of wisdom that some how they are now much nearer to the lord than they were any time earlier.
This story, to my understanding, finds place, not in main Maha Bharat, but in some related anecdotes written by other Rishis of that time like Jaimini. This does not matter, but it is intended to illustrate how MAYA works in this world all around us.
Lord Krishna has of course removed the veil of Maya on different occasions in Maha Bharat and enabled people like Arjuna (during the war), Bheeshma and Vidura (during the failed peace talks conducted by him). All of his Viswa roopa Darsana instances are nothing but removal of the veil of Maya from the devoted persons. For some, it is momentary removal of MAYA. For some rare individuals, it is of permanence.
The total efforts of Yogis (great Yoga practitioners), Jnanis (wise sages) and Bhakthas (devotes) is to remove this veil of MAYA from themselves and attain to the DIVINE TRUTH. Beyond this, there is no greater heaven, no greater God and no greater goal to be achieved.
The goal of all spirituality is this. This is how and this is when the question “WHO AM I” gets answered.
Dear Readers - As you can see, the question of "WHO AM I" is very closely inter-linked with Maya. What greater question is there in life than this at all?
Therefore,I request you all to (i) give your comments, suggestions, and any constructive criticism - that you feel, and, (ii) more importantly, introduce the topics of this blog to others similarly interested as you are.
As you know, attending the teachings of Great Gurus on a daily basis is possible only for a few. For the rest of us, it is necessary to share each others' knowledge received from the great Gurus and scriptures.
* * * So, the journey continues….* * *