Telling about the origin of this 'stotra', Sutji said-
'Lord Shiva had created this 'stotra' praising the glory of Lord Nrisinha and invoking him to protect the world from the wrath of Matrikas. The 'stotra' goes as follows -
NAMASTESTU JAGANNATH NARSINHA VAPURDHAR;
DAITESHWAR ENDRA SANHARINAKHA BHUKTI VIRAJIT.
NAKH MANDAL SAMBHINNA HEMPINGAL VIGRAH;
NAMOSTU PADMANABHAY SHOBAHANAY JAGADGURO.
KALP ANTAMBHO DANIGHOSH SURYAKOTI SAMPRABHA;
SAHASTRA YAM SANTRAS SAHASTRENDRA PARAKRAM.
SAHASTRA DHANDASFEET SAHASTRA CHARANATMAKA;
SAHASTRA CHANDRA PRATIM SAHASTRANSU HARIKRAM.
SAHASTRA RUDRA TEJASKA SAHASTRA BRAHMA SANSTUT;
SAHASTRA RUDRA SANJAAT SAHASTRA AKSHA NIRIKSHANA.
SAHASTRA JANMA MATHANA SAHASTRA BANDH MOCHAN;
SAHASTRA VAYU VEGASA SAHASTRA ANGA KRIPAKAR.
Sage Narad once asked Lord Shiva about the means by which a man could become free from the delusions of the world. Lord Shiva revealed to him the contents of 'Kulamrit stotra', eulogizing the majesty of Lord Vishnu. By chanting this 'stotra', Narad successfully attained to that supreme status, which even the most enlightened souls can only dream of. One who eulogizes Lord Vishnu by chanting this 'stotra', becomes liberated from all the bondage of the world. The 'stotra' goes as follows -
YASTU VISHWAMANA DYANTA MAJAMAATMANI SANSTHITAM;
SARVAGYA MACHALAM VISHNUM SADA DHYAYET SA MUCHYET.
DEVAM GARBHO CHITAM VISHNUM SADA DHYAYAN VIMUCHYET;
ASHARIRAM VIDHATARAM SARVAGYAN MANORATIM.
ACHALAM SARVAGAM VISHNUM SADA DHYAYEN VIMUCHYET;
NIRVIKALPAM NIRABHASAM NISHPRAPANCHAM NIRAMAYAM.
VASUDEVAM GURUM VISHNUM SADA DHYAYEN VIMUCHYET;
SARVATKAM CHA VAI YAVADATMA CHAITANYA RUPAKAM.
SHUBHAM EKAKSHARAM VISHNUM SADA DHYAYEN VIMUCHYET;
VAMYATITAM TRIKALAGYAM VISHVESHAM LOKSAKSHINAM.
SARVA SMADYUTAM VISHNU SADA DHYAYEN VIMUCHYET;
BRAHMADI DEVA GANDHARVAI MUNIBHIH SIDDHA CHARANAIH.
YOGIBHIH SEVITAM VISHNUM SADA DHYAYEN VIMUCHYET;
SANSAR BANDHANAN MUKTI MICHHAMLEKO DHYA SHESHATAH.
STUTVAIVAM VARADAM VISHNUM SADA DHYAYAN VIMUCHYET;
SANSAR BANDHANAAT KOPI MUKTI MICHCHHAN SAMAHITAH.
ANANT MATYAYAM DEVAM VISHNUM VISHVA PRATISHTHITIM;
VISHVESHWAR MASARAM VISHNUM SADA DHYAYAN VIMUCHYET.
MRITYU ASHTAK STOTRA
Describing the origin of this 'stotra', Sutji said- 'Lord Vishnu himself had taught this powerful 'stotra' to sage Markandeya. The daily chanting of this powerful mantra had enabled Markandeya to conquer death. One who daily chants this 'stotra' thrice a day enjoys a long life and never dies a premature death. The 'stotra' goes as follows -
DAMODARAM PRASANNOSMI KINNO MRITYUH KARISHYATI;
SHANKH CHAKRA DHARAM DEVAM VYAKTA RUPIN MATYAYAM.
ADHOKSHAJAM PRAPANNOSMI KINNO MRITYUH KARISHYATI;
VARAHAM VAMANAM VISHNUM NAARSIHAM JANARDANAM.
MADHAVAM CHA PRAPANNOSMI KINNO MRITYUH KARISHYATI;
PURUSHAM PUSHKAR KSHETRABIJAM PUNYAM JAGATPATIM.
LOKNATHAM PRAPANNOSMI KINNO MRITYUH KARISHYATI;
SAHASTRA SHIRASAM DEVAM VYAKTA TYAKTAM SANATANAM.
MAHAYOGAM PRAPANNOSMI KINNO MRITYUH KARISHYATI;
BHUTATMANAM MAHATMANAM YAGYAYONI MAYOJINAM.
VISHVARUPAM PRAPANNOSMI KINNO MRITYUH KARISHYATI;
ITYUDI RITMARKANDYAM STOTRAM TASYA MAHATMANAH.
ITI TENA JITO MRITYU MARKANDE YEN DHIMTA;
PRASANNE PUNDARIKAKSHE NRISINHE NASTI DURLABHAM
Sutji told sage Shaunak
that the ultimate aim of a man's life was to attain salvation. A man can not
attain salvation until and unless he has seen through the trappings of the
worldly illusions. Sutji said-'Practice of Yoga helps a man to live in this
world with a sense of detachment and to successfully avoid the allurements of
this mortal world. Yoga comprises of six organs
· Pranayam ( Breathing exercises),
· Japa ( chanting),
· Pratyahar( restraining sense organs),
· Dharana (resolution),
· Dhyan (meditation) and
· Samadhi (deep meditation).
Not running after sensual pleasures by having self control helps a man in diminishing his sins and diminishment of sins pleases the deities who give blessings. Blessings of deities help a man to attain salvation. Pranayam, an important part of Yoga is of two types-'Garbha' and 'Agarbha'. Pranayam, done with simultaneous chanting of a mantra is called 'Garbha' whereas in 'Agarbha' Pranayam mantras are not chanted.
It is natural for a man to get attracted by worldly pleasures and checking this tendency of the mind is called 'Pratyahar'. It is not easy to control the mind and concentrate on anything for a long time but 'Dharana' helps a man to do that. When a man has successfully controlled his sensual desires, then it becomes very easy for him to concentrate his mind. A concentrated mind finds it easy to meditate. When he has mastered meditation it is not much difficult for him to enter into the deep state of meditation i.e. 'Samadhi'. In the state of 'Samadhi', all sense of dualism cease to exist as one establishes divine link with the Almighty, which helps him in experiencing indescribable divine bliss.
Once, on being asked by sage Narad about the means that helped a man in attaining self realization, Lord Vishnu told him that only those privileged few who have understood the impermanent nature of this world and have successfully controlled their sensual desires can attain self realization. All the mysteries of this Universe are unraveled to a man of self realization and he attains salvation. Lord Vishnu said-' It should be the prime objective of a man to make incessant efforts so that he can experience this divine knowledge of self realization-the real knowledge, for every other kind of knowledge is superficial and of least significance.'
Lord Vishnu went on to describe how self realization could be attained-
'YADASARVE VIMUCHYANTE KAMA YESHYA HRIDI STHITAH;
TADAMRIT TWA MAPNOPATI JIVANNEVA NA SANSHAYAH.
Meaning- When there is no desire left in the heart then a man is certain to experience the divine taste of this nectar (self realization) in his life time-- and there is no doubt about it.
Unraveling the mystery of Universe to sage Narad, Lord Vishnu said-' 'Brahm' is the cause behind this universe and one who has understood this fact can be rightly called a man of self realization. A man being under the influence of his sensual perceptions falsely believes this world to be real and is unable to understand the real cause behind the existence of this world, which is not the case with a man of self realization. Instead of searching 'without' a man should seek 'within' because within him exists the Universe just like our sense organs perceive them externally. The whole mystery of Universe is unraveled to a man who makes incessant efforts to undertake this inner journey for if his efforts are made with a pure heart and a firm determination then he is sure to reach his goal of self realization one day or the other. The soul (Atma) is 'Brahm' but this fact becomes apparent only to those privileged few, who have attained self realization. Self realization illuminates the soul in the same way just as a lightning illuminates the dark sky at night.'
Lord Vishnu went on to describe himself in the following words-' I am Pure and beyond the limits of human intelligence. I am beyond the confinement of three basic qualities (Satva guna, Rajas guna and Tamas guna). Only he can experience ME who possesses an enlightened soul because I manifest MYSELF in the heart of every individual as a divine effulgence in order to drive away the darkness which engulfs it.'
Anybody who studies the sacred texts of 'Brahm-Gita' is certain to attain salvation for it brilliantly propounds the theory of divinity of man by proclaiming that in each individual dwells 'Brahm'-the supreme Almighty. Eulogizing the glory of 'Brahm Gita' Lord Vishnu said-' Brahm-Gita declares that in each individual dwells 'Brahm' and one who has understood this fact becomes free from the bondage of the world i.e. attains salvation. Nobody can deny the fact that God exists because the Almighty manifests himself all around us in various forms both perceptible and imperceptible. All the five elements (space, air, water, fire and earth) are nothing but the manifestations of Almighty God.'
' Unfortunately, most of the people are unaware of the presence of divinity in them- the existence of 'Brahm' in each of them. The reason for this is not much difficult to comprehend because this fact is so subtle that only enlightened souls can experience it. HE lies dormant and cannot be experienced until and unless HE is awakened by means of austerities and penance. 'Brahm' is ever present in a man and does not abandon him in any of the three states of his consciousness- while he is awake, while he is dreaming or even while he is asleep.
Despite being present in every individual he still remains unaffected by his deeds because by nature HE is eternally pure. One more reason why man is unable to feel the presence of 'Brahm' in himself is his own ego, with which he falsely develops deep association. So, a person who is desirous of realizing God must first subdue his ego so that 'Brahm' manifests himself in all his glory. Without subduing his 'ego' a man can never realize God because the sense of dualism is the greatest impediment in the path of God realization and 'egotism' only strengthen this sense of dualism.'
'Once man has successfully subdued his ego, the dawning of God realization becomes imminent because 'Brahm' now has no problem in manifesting himself in the changed scenario. 'Brahm' who is absolute truth, eternally pure and the supreme Almighty. HE is the eternal bliss dwelling in each individual- the realization which made the Vedas to proclaim 'Tatvam Asi'(Thou is me) and who is beyond the confinement of time and space.'
Ultimately, Lord Vishnu revealed to sage Narad that 'Brahm' whose glory he had praised was none other than himself.
once reached the forest of 'Naimisharanya' in course of his journey.
Naimisharanya was a holy place where sages and hermits went to do penance. After
reaching there Sutji met many prominent sages who were pleased at his arrival.
They took it as a God sent opportunity to get their doubts cleared on the
mystery called death and what exactly happened after a man died.
Sage Shaunak, one of those sages, asked Sutji-' O Revered Sage! We were just awaiting your arrival. It seems God has listened to our prayer. We are confused by so many diverse and contradictory opinions expressed on the mystery of 'death' and what happens after death. Some people are of the belief that a man takes rebirth soon after his death whereas there are some who believe that a man after his death first goes to 'Yamloka' to taste the fruits of his 'Karmas' and only then he takes rebirth. We request you to clear our doubts and enlighten us on the mystery called death.'
Sutji recounted the tale of Garuda, who had once posed the same query to Lord Krishna. While narrating the tale, Sutji said- 'Garuda-son of Vinta, once decided to get a first hand experience of all the three 'Lokas'(worlds). After visiting all the three worlds he returned to 'Vaikunth loka' and narrated his experiences to Lord Krishna.
Garuda said- ' After visiting all the three 'Lokas' I found the Earth (Prithvi) little overcrowded as compared to other 'Lokas'. I also found that it provided better opportunities to a man both for materialistic enjoyments as well as his spiritual advancement. So, I have come to the conclusion that 'Prithviloka' was the best of all the 'Lokas' in every respect. But, all round prevalence of sorrow and misery in 'Prithviloka' made me sad.
I was really perplexed to see people performing complex rituals after the death of their relative. All these rituals appeared so absurd to me. I was really amazed to see people laying down their dead relatives on the ground. I could also not understand why a dead body is laid on the bed of 'kusha' grass and sesame seeds. I witnessed so many rituals that surprised me, for instance I could not understand the reason why donations are made after a man dies. I am puzzled by the mystery called death or, what becomes of him after he dies.
The sight of sons lifting the dead body of their father on their shoulders is still fresh in my memory. I could not understand the reason why 'ghee'(clarified butter) is applied on a dead body or why the relatives of the deceased chant 'Yama sukta' facing north. I was also surprised to see the son of the deceased being debarred from having meal along with his other relatives. O Lord! Please reveal to me the significance of making 'pinda- daans' or, the significance of 'tarpan' rituals? Please tell me the proper method of offering 'pinda daan' and invoking ancestors? I find it hard to believe that all the deeds virtuous or evil committed by a man follows him after his death.'
This way Garuda flooded Lord Krishna with a barrage of questions and sought clarifications on them.
SALVATION THROUGH RITUALS
Lord Krishna replied--" I am so delighted that you have asked such important questions for the benefit of mankind. I am revealing to you the secrets, which were hitherto unknown even to the deities and yogis. O Garuda! A man should try to beget a son with the help of means as mentioned in the scriptures because there is no salvation for a person bereft of son."
Lord Krishna then went on to describe the proper rituals which are performed after the death of a man and said-" First of all, the area should be purified by coating it with a layer of cow-dung. This purified area is called 'mandal' and it is graced by the presence of the 'Trinity'-- Brahma, Shiva and Myself. Sesame seeds are then sprinkled on the purified area and kusha grass is spread. A person whose death is imminent is then laid down on the bed of kusha grass. Scriptures say that a person who does not leave his mortal body in the above mentioned way, wanders hither and thither in the form of a restless spirit. No amount of rituals can put such a soul to rest. O Garuda! Sesame seed has manifested from my sweat and hence is extremely pure. All kind of evil forces like, ghosts, spirits, demons, etc. keep away from the place where it is used.
Similarly, Kusha grass has manifested from my body hair and is graced by the presence of 'Trinity'-- Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Deities are satisfied if kusha grass is offered to them while ancestors are satisfied by the offerings of sesame seeds. Scriptures say that if dying man is laid down on the bed of kusha grass spread on the land purified by cow-dung, he becomes absolved of all his sins. There is a great significance of donating salt after the death of a person. Salt owes its origin to Me and donating it helps ancestors in attaining heaven. Donating salt also helps in reducing the pain and sufferings of a dying man and this is why it is donated along with other articles after a death of a person. The relatives of the deceased should chant the sacred 'Yama sukta' facing north because it helps him to attain liberation." Lord Krishna then explained to Garuda the appropriate way of carrying the corpse to the cremation ground--" The dead body should be carried to the cremation ground by the sons an other relatives of the deceased. In the cremation ground the dead body should be kept in such a way that it's head should be either towards east or north. The pyre should be made either of sandal or 'palash' wood."
Describing the experiences of the soul when it leaves the body, Lord Krishna said--" The soul leaves the mortal body with great reluctance because the attachment with the mortal world exists even after his death. Yamdoots, descend down to earth to take the soul of the dying man to Yamloka. Those who have committed grave sins are tied with ropes and taken to Yamloka with great humiliation but virtuous souls are taken with honour and due respect. Yamraj- the lord of death receives the virtuous soul with all the honour and respect and metes out punishment to those who had committed sins during their lives.
In his dark complexion and with a buffalo as his mount and with a noose and iron stick in his hands, Yamraj appears terrifying. On the other hand, the sight of lifeless body appears disgusting and people try to dispose it off as quickly as possible because it is worthless without a soul. So, one must try to make the best use of this mortal body by indulging in good deeds before the day of his final journey arrives otherwise he would be left with nothing but regrets at the time of his death.
DEATH AND AFTER
Continuing with his narration, Lord Krishna said--" O Garuda! Death comes at the predetermined time, which remains fixed and unaltered under all circumstances. A man's sense organs become weak and his body feeble, which gets inflicted with numerous diseases in his old age. At the time of his death, man experiences unbearable pain and he begins to loose his consciousness. Yamdoots arrive and begin to retrieve the soul from the body and this aggravates the pain. Ultimately, the soul, which is not more than the size of a thumb, reluctantly comes out from the body as the attachment with the world exists even after his death. But, a virtuous person does not go through all these painful experiences at the time of his death. The soul has to take birth in different species as well as go through cycles of countless births, deaths and rebirths in order to taste the fruits of his Karmas.
Describing the significance of 'Pinda daan' rituals, Lord Vishnu told Garuda that they are performed so that manes are satiated. He also revealed to him that six pinda daans are offered to the manes while performing the rituals of last rites-- " The first 'pinda-daan' is made at the place where person has breathed his last while the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth 'Pinda daans' are made at the main entrance of the house, the nearest cross-roads, the cremation ground, on the pyre itself and at the time of collecting last remains (Asthi) respectively.
After reaching the cremation ground the dead body should be laid down with its head towards the south. The mortal body should then be consigned to flames and after some time sesame seeds and ghee should be poured into the burning pyre so that it continues to burn without any problem. For the next ten days the relatives coming from the same gotra of the deceased should observe a period of 'Ashaucha'- a period during which he observes strict austerities and avoids social contacts. The son of the deceased is prohibited from having food along with his relatives simply because he is believed to be impure during this period."
This way, being satisfied by Lord Krishna's answers, Garuda thanked him for clearing whatever doubts he had in his mind. Lord Krishna blessed him.
OF GARUDA PURAN