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Posted at 20:49:32 IST on Mar 21, 2010

Storyline for the 7th Session delivered on the 4th day of the Yajna, on the morning of 20th Mar 2010

The Bhagavatam is as much the story of devotees of the Lord as it is of the Lord Himself. This was the primary theme of this morning’s talk by Maharaj Ji – how the devotees of the Lord in various ways won His Grace, earning His protection and their redemption.

The first story that was related by Maharaj Ji was that of Hiranyakasipu. It illustrates an interesting dimension of the Love that the Lord has for His creation – His Grace is showered on anyone who remembers Him, be it with Love or in rare cases, with a feeling of  enmity – it is the intensity with which the person cries out to the Lord that matters.

Hiranyakasipu was the brother of Hiranyaksha who had earlier been vanquished by the Varaha Avatar of Lord Narayana.  So, Hiranyakasipu was looking for an opportunity to avenge his brother’s death. His mind was thus always occupied with thoughts of Lord Narayana. By his severe austerities he earned a boon from Lord Brahma that he would not be killed by man or beast, during day or night, in any of the twelve months, by any weapon, neither inside a dwelling nor outside, neither on ground nor in the sky.

Meanwhile, Indra kidnapped Hiranyakasipu’s wife Kayadhu, who was then in the family way, as he feared that the son of Hiranyakasipu would be a stronger adversary than the father. But Sage Narada counselled Indra and released Kayadhu and gave her shelter in his ashram for some time. This was all part of the divine plan as it was here that the unborn child who was later to be known as Prahlada learnt his first lessons on devotion to Lord Narayana.

After his wife’s return, Hiranyakasipu waged war with Indra and drove him out of Swarga Loka. In his reign, he decreed that henceforth only he would be worshipped as the Lord of the Universe. The child Prahlada was also taught this at the ashram by the sons of Sukracharya – Chanda and Amarka. However, he constantly taught the residents of the ashram that his father was a mere mortal, it is Lord Narayana who was the true Lord of the Universe. When word reached Hiranyakasipu of his son’s blasphemous acts, he is livid with rage and orders his death. But try as the sentries of Hiranyakasipu may – they tried to burn him, drown him in the sea, threw him off a mountain, attempted to poison him - they failed to harm him. At last his father challenged him to show him where Lord Narayana was. Prahlada answered that he resided everywhere, even in a pillar. The time had now come for Hiranyakasipu to meet his Maker and as he rushed in anger towards the pillar, the pillar ripped open and there emerged a Man-Lion form, terrible to behold. Lord Narayana had come in the form of Narasimha to save Prahlada. Roaring and thundering, He laid Hiranyakasipu across his lap and proceeded to tear open his entrails with his claws. The boon had become ineffective as this was the thirteenth month of the lunar calendar, Purushottham, his adversary was neither man nor beast, it was the twilight time and Narasimha sat on the threshold of the house, neither inside nor outside, and used his claws which were not weapons.

So terrible was Lord Narasimha’s anger that Lakshmi Devi, Lord Brahma and Indra all were afraid to approach him. But it was the child Prahlada who stood there unafraid and calmed the Lord with his pleas for mercy for giving him this much trouble. The Lord blessed Prahlada with the boon of unending devotion for Him and to this day is remembered as one of the Lord’s foremost devotees.

The next story that was narrated was that of Gajendra Moksha. The story illustrated the point that there was only one person in this world who was worth loving with all our being, and that is the Lord, as it is He who always stood by us, when even all our family, progeny and friends desert us. Gajendra was the head of a large herd of elephants. As is their wont, they were enjoying their bath in the cool waters of a lake beside the Trikuta mountain. They were unaware that in that placid lake, there lurked a crocodile ready to prey on them. The crocodile locked its jaws around Gajendra’s leg. At first Gajendra did not realize this. At this stage Maharaj Ji remarked that this was very analogous to how death always crept upon us. But, we are blithely unaware of this and continue indulging in worldly pursuits. There ensued a gruesome fight between Gajendra and the crocodile as the crocodile tries to drag the elephant under water. Gajendra’s wives, his sons, all try to extricate him, but after a while give up on him. He realized at this stage that the very people whom he had worked so hard for all his life, were now forsaking him. With that, he cried out to the Lord in desperation. The Lord responded, for as it is said, for those who have no refuge in the world, it is the Lord who is their protector. Lord Narayana sent his Sudarshana Chakra and thus Gajendra was saved from the jaws of death. The crocodile too earned immortality for it died at the hands of the Lord Himself.

The story of emperor Bali, grandson of Prahlada, which was narrated next, spoke of the devotion the emperor had for Lord Narayana. Mahabali though born an Asura was well known for his generosity and fairness. He usurped the Swarga Loka and began to perform a sacrifice under the guidance of his preceptor Sukracharya. The devas approached Lord Vishnu to save them. Lord Vishnu then took on the form of a young Brahmin boy with a begging bowl and carrying an umbrella. He entered the venue of the yagna. The effulgent form of this young lad attracted Mahabali and he proceeded to welcome him. He asked him what it was that he sought and promised him whatever he wanted. All the young boy wanted was three paces of land. Sage Sukracharya immediately intuited that this boy was none other than Lord Narayana himself and warned Mahabali. But Mahabali said that it was his fortune that He who granted the wishes of all beings in the world was now seeking a boon from him. He declared that he would grant the boon and immediately, Vamana assumed his Cosmic form and with two paces, claimed the earth and the heavens. Mahabali then offered his own head for the Lord to place his feet. The last remaining trace of ego in Mahabali had vanished and the Lord, pleased with Mahabali’s devotion granted him the boon of immortality.

The story of King Ambareesha, who earned the wrath of Sage Durvasa was narrated. Durvasa in his anger created a monstrous form Kritya to kill Ambareesha. The Lord was incensed at this. In order to protect Ambareesha, Lord Vishnu sent his Sudarshana Chakra which not only killed Kritya but also began to chase the sage himself. When the sage sought Lord Narayana’s help, he was told that the Lord was bound by the love for a sincere devotee and it was only if Ambareesha forgave him that he would be saved. Sage Duravasa fell at Ambareesha’s feet who humbly prayed that the sage was his guest and so his life must be spared.

Maharaj Ji at the conclusion of the session narrated the story of Lord Rama’s birth in the palace of King Dasaratha. The name Dasaratha meant one who had subjugated his senses and Kausalya was another name for Prajna, the force of Consciousness. And it was in their conjunction that Lord Rama was born.