TALE OF RAMAYANA
Lord Brahma then went
on to describe the famous tale of Ramayana the mere listening to which absolves
a man from all his sins. He began by giving the details of Sri Ram's lineage and
said-' I (Lord Brahma) manifested from the Lotus originating from the navel of
Lord Vishnu. Sage Marich manifested from me while Kashyap was Marich's son.
Surya manifested from Kashyap, Vaivaswat-Manu from Surya and Ikshavaku was born
to Vaivaswat-Manu. The great King Raghu was also the descendant of Ikshavaku.
Raghu's son was Aja, whose son was Dasharath.
Dasharath had three queens-Kaushalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra. Kaushalya gave birth to Sri Ram while Kaikeyi was the mother of Bharat. Sumitra had two sons-Laxman and Shatrughan.
Sri Ram had great devotion towards his parents. Sage Vishwamitra, who was tormented by the demons, took Sri Ram and Laxman along with him so that he could do his penance peacefully. He assured Dashrath that he would make both his sons proficient in all the scriptures as well as in the usage of various weapons. With great reluctance, Dasharath allowed Sri Ram and Laxman to go along with Vishwamitra.
Once in the forest Sri Ram assured his Guru to do his penance without bothering about the demons. Vishwamitra commenced his penance and Sri Ram killed all the demons trying to disturb him. The names of few demons killed by Sri Ram were Tadaka, Subahu, etc.
Janak, the father of Sita had organized a grand 'Swayamvar' ceremony to which he had invited all the prominent kings of that time. He had also sent invitation to Vishwamitra. Vishwamitra set out for Janakpur accompanied by Sri Ram and Laxman.
Janak had a huge bow gifted to him by Lord Shiva and which he worshipped daily with appropriate ritual. Once during the process of cleaning the area where Shiva's bow was kept, Sita lifted the bow and kept it a distance. Later on she forgot to keep it back at the original place. When Janak came to worship the bow he was surprised to find it to be kept at a different place. He made an inquiry and Sita confessed that she had kept it while cleaning the place of worship. Janak just could not believe that his tender looking daughter possessed such strength and power. No wonder he decided to give Sita's hand in marriage to such a man who could break Shiva's bow. So, he made a declaration that anybody capable of breaking Shiva's bow could have Sita as his wife.
There were many mighty warriors present at the 'Swayamvar' ceremony but none had the strength to even lift the bow what to say about breaking it. Finally, as the destiny would have liked it, Sri Ram broke the bow into three pieces and thus married Sita. Laxman married Urmila- another daughter of Dasharath while Bharat and Shatrughan married Mandavi and Keertimayi respectively, both daughters of King Kushadhwaja.
Later on, when Dasharath decided to crown Sri Ram as the King of Ayodhya, Kaikeyi played a spoilsport and demanded her son-Bharat to be made the King of Ayodhya and Sri Ram to be sent into exile for fourteen years. Actually, Kaikeyi had taken undue advantage of Dasharath's helpless condition to serve her own interest. Once, Dasharath was busy fighting a battle oblivious of the fact that one of the wheels of the chariot was about to eject from its axle as the nail supporting it had fallen off. Kaikeyi, who was also accompanying him, saved his life by preventing the wheel from falling off and thus maintaining the balance of the chariot. When Dasharath learnt how Kaikeyi had saved his life he promised to grant her two boons. At that time Kaikeyi did not ask for any thing and merely said that she would demand at the appropriate time. So, when the time for Ram's coronation came she thought it was the best opportunity for her to remind Dasharath about the two boons he had promised to grant her.
Dasharath, bound by his deep love for Sri Ram on the one hand and by his vow on the other, agreed to Kaikeyi's demand with a heavy heart. Sri Ram without any hesitation followed his father's order and left for the forest. How could have Sita and Laxman lived without him? So, they too accompanied him to the forest. In course of his journey, Sri Ram passed by many holy places and finally after reaching Chitrakoot he made a 'Parna kuti' (hermitage made of leaves) and started living there.
The shock caused by Sri Ram's separation proved to be fatal for Dasharath, who died with an unfulfilled desire of having a glimpse of his dearest son. Bharat, who at that time was at his maternal uncle's place, returned to Ayodhya after hearing the news of his father's demise and performed his last rites. He then went to Chitrakoot and tried his level best to convince Sri Ram into returning back to Ayodhya. But, Sri Ram did not agree, as it was against his principle to disobey the commands of his father. Sri Ram gave his pair of wooden sandals to Bharat as a token of love and requested him to return to Ayodhya. Bharat returned to Ayodhya and kept Sri Ram's sandals on the throne. He then stationed himself at Nandigram- a city situated at the outskirts of Ayodhya and started ruling from there on behalf of his elder brother. He had vowed not to return to Ayodhya till the completion of Sri Ram's period of exile.
From Chitrakoot, Sri Ram reached Dandakaranya accompanied by Sita and Laxman and started living in a hermitage made of leaves. There they also met prominent sages like Atri and Agastya. Once an ogress named 'Surpanakha' (Ravan's sister) attacked Sri Ram but Laxman retaliated by severing both her ears as well as her nose. Surpanakha, badly injured and bleeding profusely, went to Khardushan and narrated her woeful tale. Khardushan attacked Sri Ram with a huge army consisting of fourteen thousand soldiers but lost all his men in the battle.
The revengeful Ravan went to the hermitage disguised as a hermit and abducted Sita while Sri Ram was away in pursuit of Marich-the golden deer. Actually, Marich was a demon, who had disguised himself as a golden deer on the instruction of Ravan so that Sita could be abducted successfully. Ravan knew quite well that it was impossible for him to abduct Sita in the presence of Sri Ram. So, he hatched a plan according to which Marich was to disguise himself as a golden deer and enchant Sita. Ravan was sure that Sita after being enchanted by the beauty of the golden Deer would ask her husband to get it at any cost. Everything happened as per the plan of Ravan and he was successful in abducting Sita.
When Sri Ram did not find Sita in the hermitage he became worried and started searching for her frantically. On the way he met old Jatayu, who had got injured while trying to resist Ravan from taking away Sita. Jatayu informed him that Ravan had taken Sita towards south. Jatayu was so badly injured that he died soon after giving Sita's information to Sri Ram. Sri Ram performed his last rites and continued with his search. He proceeded towards south as per the instructions of Jatayu and reached 'Rishyamook' mountain where he met Sugreeva, whom he befriended. He killed Bali, who harboured enemity against his brother- Sugreeva. He then made Sugreeva the King of 'Kishkindha' and himself went to live at 'Rishyamook' mountain.
Sugreeva sent monkeys in all directions to find out Sita's whereabouts. Hanuman went towards south and with the help of Sampati managed to find out the exact location where Ravan had kept Sita. Hanuman took a giant leap and the next moment he found himself on the other side of the ocean. He went to 'Ashok- Vatika' where Ravan had kept Sita in captivity. He presented the ring to her, which Sri Ram had given him. Sita, in turn gave her 'Chudamani'(ornament) and requested him to give it to Sri Ram. Jumping from one branch to another, hungry Hanuman ate all the fruits and in the process destroyed the beautiful garden. When Ravan came to know about the destruction caused in the beautiful garden of 'Ashok Vatika', he sent many demons to capture Hanuman. But, all of them were killed including Akshay Kumar, Ravan's son. Ultimately, Hanuman was made captive by Meghanad and produced before Ravan, who ordered his tail to be set ablaze as a punishment. Hanuman, with his tail ablaze, jumped from one palace to another and burnt the golden city of Lanka within no time. He then returned to his master Sri Ram and described everything in detail.
Finally, Sri Ram attacked Lanka with a huge army comprising of mighty warriors like Hanuman, Sugreeva, Angad and many others. A fierce battle took place in which all the demons including Ravan were killed. The victorious Sri Ram returned to Ayodhya along with his consort Sita. The residents of Ayodhya danced in joy at the return of their prodigious son. Sri Ram ruled over Ayodhya for eleven thousand years. Finally he ascended to the heaven taking along all the people of Ayodhya with him but before doing that he appointed Lav and Kush-his Sons, as his successors.
Making a revelation to
Vyas that the Almighty God manifests himself whenever the civilization is
endangered by the dominance of sinners, Lord Brahma said- 'In Dwapar yuga, Lord
Vishnu incarnated as Sri Krishna to protect Dharma from being subjugated by 'Adharma',
which had become all pervasive at that time. He was born to Vasudev and Devaki.
Both his parents had been kept under captivity by Kansa, who was aware of the
prophesy that he would be killed by Devaki's eighth son. In due course of time
Devaki gave birth to seven sons all of whom were mercilessly killed by Kansa one
by one. In order to protect the life of Sri Krishna- the eighth child born to
Devaki, Vasudev exchanged him with the baby girl born to Yashoda and Nand.
Vasudev had no problem in moving out of the prison as Krishna by his divine
power induced all the guards to sleep.
Sri Krishna, being an incarnation of Lord Vishnu performed great feats right from his childhood. Once, Kansa sent an ogress named Putna, who tried to kill Sri Krishna by breast-feeding him. But, Krishna sucked her breasts with such ferocity that Putna met an instant death. In due course of time Sri Krishna killed many more ferocious demons like Shakatasur, Kaliya Nag, Dhenukasur and mesmerized the residents of Gokul by his divine bravery. He also performed many other divine feats like lifting Govardhan mountain and performing Raas-Lila with the Gopis. Seeing all his plans of killing Sri Krishna go in vain, Kansa sent him a message challenging for a 'duel- bought' with his court-wrestlers named 'Mushtik' and 'Chanur'. Sri Krishna killed both the dreaded demons without much difficulty. Ultimately, Sri Krishna climbed up the throne sitting on which Ravan had been watching the wrestling bout and pulled him down by his hair. He then punched Kansa on his chest so hard that he died an instantaneous death.
Having accomplished his most important mission of killing the demon king-Kansa and liberating the earth from his tyranny, Sri Krishna went on to complete his education under the tutelage of Sage Sandipani. During ancient times it was customary for a disciple to offer Dakshina to his teacher, as a mark of respect after his education was complete. Sri Krishna following this tradition gave an invaluable Dakshina to his Guru by bringing all his dead sons alive to earth from 'Yamloka'.
Sri Krishna was subsequently crowned as the king of Mathura but on account of the relentless attack by Jarasandha he had to abandon his dear city and shift his base to Dwarka. He had eight queens among whom Rukmini and Satyabhama were prominent. Later on he rescued sixteen thousand and one hundred women from the captivity of Narakasur and married all of them. From Rukmini he had a son named Pradyumna, who killed Shambarasur. Aniruddha was Pradyumna's son and he married Usha- daughter of Banasur. Banasur was a great devotee of Lord Shiva and was blessed with one thousand hands.
Lord Shiva came to his rescue at the time when he was battling against the might of Sri Krishna. A fierce battle was fought between both the deities, which remained inconclusive even after a long time. Lord Shiva then requested Sri Krishna to spare Banasur's life to which he agreed albeit partially. Sri Krishna severed all the hands of Banasur barring two. Finally, after accomplishing his mission of liberating the earth from the darkness of sin Sri Krishna left for heavenly abode.
TALE OF MAHABHARAT
Giving the reasons that
lead to the great battle of Mahabharat, Lord Brahma told sage Vyas that Sri
Krishna had planned this great battle and executed it to perfection to relieve
the earth from the burden of tyrants. While giving the names of lineal
ascendants of Kauravas and Pandavas, he said-' I (Lord Brahma) manifested from
the lotus which itself had its origin in the navel of Vishnu. Atri manifested
from me while Chandra from Atri. Buddh was born to Chandra while he himself was
the father of Pururava. Aayu was Pururava's son while he himself was the son of
The names of few famous descendants of Yayati were Bharat, Kuru and Shantanu. Shantanu had two wives- Ganga and Satyavati. The former was the mother of Bhishma, the indomitable warrior, who had vowed to remain a bachelor throughout his life. The latter i.e. Satyavati gave birth to two sons- Chitrangad and Vichitraveerya. A Gandharva killed Chitrangad while Vichitraveerya died issue-less despite having two wives- Ambika and Ambalika(both daughters of the king of Kashi). In order to expand their clan both Ambika and Ambalika begot one son each from sage Vyas. Ambika gave birth to Dhritrashtra while Ambalika to Pandu. The same Vyas also had a son from a maid servant who became famous as Vidur and who was famous for his statesmanship and tactfulness.
Dhritrashtra married Gandhari and begot one hundred sons from her among whom Duryodhan was most notorious. These one hundred sons of Dhritrashtra became famous as Kauravas. Pandu had two wives Kunti and Madri from whom he begot five sons-Yudhishthir, Bhima, Arjun, Nakul and Sahdev, who all grew up to be very powerful and mighty. All five of them became famous as Pandavas. Pandu, their father had died while they were still young and Madri, unable to bear the sorrow had given up her life by jumping into the burning pyre of her dead husband. So, the Pandavas were brought up under the guardianship of Kunti.
Kauravas and Pandavas were bitter rivals right from their childhood. Duryodhan never missed a chance to torment the Pandavas- his cousins. Both Kauravas and Pandavas were brought up under the tutelage of Kripacharya and Dronacharya, both prominent scholars of their times. Once, Duryodhan tried to kill Bhima by poisoning him but fortunately Bhima not only came out unscathed but also with renewed strength and vigour. Duryodhan tried his luck for the second time to eliminate his enemies by setting ablaze the house of wax in which Pandavas were living but once again they came out unharmed. Pandavas then went to 'Ekchakra Nagar' and took refuge in the house of a Brahmin family. A demon named 'Baka' used to torment the people of Ekchakra Nagar. Bhima killed that demon and the people were relieved at the news of their tormentor's death. Thereafter Pandavas went to attend the Swayamvar ceremony of Draupadi. Arjun won Draupadi as his wife by piercing the eye of the fish hanged above his head by looking at its image in the water-pot kept below.
At the insistence of Dronacharya and Bhishma, Yudhishthir reluctantly agreed to share half of his Kingdom with the Pandavas. Thus Pandavas started living at Indraprashth, the capital of their newly acquired Kingdom.
Arjuna married Subhadra, his second wife and the sister of Sri Krishna. He pleased Agni Dev by his austere penance and received divine weapons like- a divine chariot, Gandiv (bow), imperishable arrows and an impenetrable shield. After being armed with these divine weapons he successfully defeated many powerful monarchies and gave the whole acquired wealth to Yudhishthir, his elder brother.
Dhrithrashtra invited Yudhishthir for a game of 'Dyuta' (gamble) but Duryodhan defeated him by employing unfair and deceitful tactics with the active connivance of Shakuni- his cunning maternal uncle. Yudhishthir lost everything in the gamble- his whole wealth, his kingdom and even Draupadi. Pandavas had to go into exile for twelve years with an additional year of 'Agyatwas'(they were not supposed to be recognized during this period) as per the terms and conditions laid down for the game.
After completing their total period of exile, Pandavas reached Virat Nagar to spend their year of 'Agyatwas', which posed more dangers and challenges because if they were recognized during this period it would have meant another twelve years of exile for them.
Having successfully completed their period of exile, Pandavas demanded back their Kingdom but Duryodhan was not even willing to part away with five villages. Thus Pandavas were left with no option but to fight for their legitimate rights. Both the rival armies boasted of mighty and brave warriors on their sides.
Duryodhan appointed Bhishma as the chief commander of his army whereas Shikhandi was leading Pandava's army. The first ten days of the battle saw a fierce fight between both the rival armies during which period many warriors from each side achieved martyrdom. Finally, while Bhishma lay down injured, his whole body pierced with Arjuna's arrows, but still alive because he had received a boon of 'Iccha Mrityu'(death by his choice) prominent warriors from both sides stood around him. It was only after the Sun came north of equinox (Uttarayan), the auspicious time Bhishma had chosen to leave his mortal body that he died after preaching the Pandavas on wide range of subjects.
After Bhishma's death Dronacharya led the Kaurava's army. This was the most crucial phase of the battle. Dronacharya had become so demoralized after his son's death, that he had just no motivation left in him to fight the battle. Finding an opportune moment, Dhrishtadyumna severed his head and Kauravas thus lost their most able and experienced commander.
Duryodhan appointed Karna as the next commander of Kaurava's army. The most decisive phase of the battle began and after a fierce battle of two days Arjuna managed to kill his brave rival. Subsequently, Yudhishthir killed Shalya.
After loosing all his mighty warriors, Duryodhana, in a fit of rage challenged Bhima for a duel of mace. Bhima killed him after a fierce fight. The revengeful Ashwatthama, son of Dronacharya, attacked the Pandava's camp at night, much against the norms of battle and killed all the five sons of Draupadi and thousand of other Pandava soldiers. Arjuna avenged the death of his sons by defeating Ashwatthama and extracting the diamond set in his forehead.
After the battle ended, Yudhishthir performed the rituals of Shraddh in the name of all the dead warriors and ascended the throne. He ruled in a just manner just according to the instructions given by Bhishma. After Sri Krishna left this mortal world, Yudhishthir appointed Parikshit as his successor and left for Himalaya accompanied by his brothers as well as Draupadi.
Lord Brahma, while
shedding light on various aspects of religion told sage Vyas that a man should
look at his sorrows (shoka) with a sense of aloofness and detachment,
considering it as a passing phase. He also revealed to Vyas that the 'Fire of
sorrow' consumed everything that came into its fold and nothing remained
untouched by it. A sorrowful man becomes bereft of all his
possessions-knowledge, religion, physical strength, patience, happiness and all
Lord Brahma also told him that virtuous deeds never went without being rewarded, as all good things enjoyed by a man in his life are nothing but the result of his virtuous past 'Karmas'. On the contrary sinful deeds committed by a man makes his present as well as his future births miserable. Further, glorifying the virtues of some other good deeds, Lord Brahma said-' Protecting the life of a person, whose life is endangered and who has sought one's refuge is the greatest virtue and no other deed can be compared with it. One who sheds his life to protect his religion attains to heaven.
A contented man enjoys even his adversities and remains unperturbed by them. A man should never miss a chance to get benefited by the company of enlightened souls because it gives him an opportunity to understand religion in a better way. Donating food begets incomparable virtues and no other virtuous deed stands anywhere near it.'
Lord Brahma concluded by describing Sanatan Dharma in a nutshell and said-' Anybody observing the following austerities should be considered an ardent follower of 'Sanatan Dharma'- truth, penance, self-control, purity, forgiveness, compassion, knowledge and donation.
THE SUPREME YOGA
Once, sage Shaunak asked Sutji about the reasons behind man's sorrow. Sutji told him that man's ego and his attachments to this mortal world were the two most important causes for his sorrow and until he gets rid of them he will continue to suffer. Sutji said-' The 'Tree of ignorance' sprouts from the seed of 'Egotism' and it receives its nutrition from sensual pleasures. Only those who possess the 'Axe of knowledge' are successful in felling this 'Tree of ignorance' and experience the ecstasy of Divine bliss. Once a man has experienced this divine bliss he not only becomes free from all kinds of sorrow but is also freed from the cycles of birth, death and rebirth. This divine link which a man establishes with the Almighty is called 'Mahayoga' (The supreme Yoga). But, those unfortunate people who have not experienced this divine bliss continue to get trapped by the worldly illusions leading to their countless births and deaths.'
Sutji then went on to describe the means by which a man can have a pure heart and said-' Austerities like meditation, worship, fasts, oblations, charity, etc., certainly helps a man in getting rid of all kinds of impurities.'
DEVOTION-THE PATH LEADING TO ALMIGHTY
Glorifying devotion as the simplest means to reach God, Sutji told Shaunak that there was nothing else that pleased God more than the unflinching devotion of his devotee in him. Sutji said- 'A devotee who chants the holy name of God acquires imperishable virtues and attains salvation even if he were a lowly sinner. One who has surrendered himself to the will of God is absolved of all his sins. Even 'Yamaraj'- The lord of death has strictly instructed his escorts to spare those who are devotees of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu himself has declared that anybody having total devotion in him should be considered as the most virtuous soul even if he had committed the most heinous of sins.'
Further hailing the glory of chanting Lord Vishnu's name Sutji said-' The mere chanting of Lord Vishnu's name in 'Kaliyuga' brings the same virtue what the combined virtues of meditating on him during 'Satyayuga', chanting his sacred mantras during 'Tretayuga' and worshipping him during 'Dwaparyuga' brought. A devotee who has nothing but the sacred name of Lord Vishnu on his lips is certain to attain to Vishnuloka after becoming free from the bondage of this world. Chanting the divine name of Vishnu even in dreams is believed to absolve a man of all his sins then what to say about people who consciously chant his holy name while they are awake.'
Thus Sutji told sage Shaunak that anybody could attain salvation by simply having total devotion in Lord Vishnu as it was the most simplest path leading to the Almighty.