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Part I-Myths-Sec.2-Anec 6,7&8

From: Nutech (Nutech_at_ix.netcom.com)
Date: Mon May 04 1998 - 09:46:38 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas,
Presented below are Anecdotes 6, 7 and 8 from Section 2 of Part I on
"Myths".
Dasoham
Anbil Ramaswamy
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6. The power of Anthima Smriti (Last thought) - ( Jadabharata)

Bharata was the firat of the 100 sons of Rishaba and Jayanthi. He was an
extremely pious person who practiced Dharma very scrupulously without
aspiring for the fruits of his austerity. He renounced his kingdom and
retired to the banks of the river Gandaki to do penance. He was
constantly  meditating on Narayana.
 
But, one day, he witnessed a deer that soon after giving birth to a baby
deer was shot dead by the hunters. Bharata took pity on the deerling and
showered all his affection and reared it with utmost care. He became so
much attached to it that at the time of his death, the ultimate thought
in his mind was of his dear deer. He was himself born as a deer in his
next birth. But, his virtues enabled him to be born again as a brahmin
and his innate qualities and inclination to Dharma remained unaffected.

Though he was a great man of wisdom (Gnani), he posed as if he was out
of his mind and senses, unmindful of the joys and sorrows, gains and
losses and was without any desires but with a steadfast mind rivetted to
the Paramatma. Once, an evil minded person dragged him to be offered as
as sacrifice to Kaali but seeing his resplendent glory born out of his
virtues, Kaali helped him to escape the ordeal. 

Once, he was made to be one of the palanquin bearers of King Rahuganan
and when he was too slow, the king asked him to move fast. In reply,
Bharata asked the king whether he was ordering his body or soul to move
fast. The king realized that Bharata was an extraordinary person who
should not have been subjected to the ignominy of being a palanquin
bearer. He begged pardon of Bharata and sought to be advised on the
transcendental reality. The advice of Bharata stands out as one of the
best pieces of exposition of Dharmic principles, valid for all time.

Comment
The story shows how attachment to worldy objects could distract and
spoil chances of liberation even for great sages like Jadabharata and
how when he gave up such attachments he became a true 'Gnani' and
attained liberation. In the Hindu scriptures, it has been laid down that
the "Anthima Smriti" (the last thought at the time of death ) determines
how one will be born in the next birth as it happened in the case of
Jadabharata who was born as a deer.

It is wrongly believed by some that the name 'Bharat' for India is
derived from the name of Bharata, the son of Dushyanta and Sakuntala of
a later age. Actually, India derives its name, Bharat  from Jadabharata
mentioned above.

Jadabharata shed all his worldly attachments and therefore was deemed a
mentally deranged person  And, thus it was the word 'Jada' meaning dull
headed came to be  prefixed to his name even though in reality he was
one of the most brilliant Gnanis of his days. No wonder, a person who
insulates himself from worldly pleasures will certainly be dubbed a
lunatic in the modern times. But, our scriptures declare that such
'madness is the only form of sanity' because in such a disinterestedness
lies the royal road to liberation.
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7. The power of  boon (Basmasura, Hiranyakasipu and Ravana)

Basmasura ( Viruka)

A demon by name Viruka did penance propitiating Siva. He got a boon from
Siva to the effect that if he touched the head of anyone, that head
should be smashed to smithereens. To test the power of the boon, he
attempted to place his hand on the head of Siva himself. Siva ran
helter-skelter, with Viruka chasing him wherever he went. Finally, Siva
reached Lord Narayana and prayed to him for being saved from Viruka.
Lord Narayana took the form of a bewitching damsel and lured Viruka into
dancing with her during the course of which the demon was made to place
his hand on his own head. Immediately, the demon's head got shattered to
pieces and Siva was saved. The demon came to be known as Basmasura
(Demon of the ashes)

Hiranyakasipu

Hiranyakasipu performed a big yagna propitiating Brahma and got several
boons - that he should not be killed by any created thing, on earth or
the sky, at night or day, inside or outside, by man or beast, by any
celestial being or Asura, by any poisonous being alive or dead or by any
weapons. He became invincible by virtue of these boons and commenced
tormenting all good people.

He had a son named Prahlada who was devoted to Lord Narayana.
Hiranyakasipu tried his best to wean him away from Narayana and accept
himself in the place of Narayana as the supreme being. But he could not
convince his son . Prahlada was tortured but he would not change. After
an altercation with Prahlada, Hiranyakasipu asked him if Narayana was in
a pillar pointed out by him. Prahlada answered in the affirmative.
Hiranyakasipu kicked the pillar with a bang. With a resounding crash the
pillar cracked and out emerged Lord Narayana in the form of half-man and
half -lion (Nara + Simha) to substantiate the words of Prahlada. It was
dusk which was neither day nor night. Nrisimha carried the Asura to the
doorstep where under the arch of the doorway he sat laying the Asura on
his lap. Thus, it was neither earth nor sky, neither inside nor outside.
Nrisimha tore Hiranyakasipu to death with his claws.Claw is not a
poisonous being nor a weapon, one that was neither alive nor
dead.Nrisimha was not a created thing, neither a man nor a beast, not an
Asura  nor a Deva.

Ravana

Ravana, the great Rakshasa king also performed a great sacrifice and
obtained from Brahma boons similar to those obtained by Hiranyakasipu.
But out of contempt,  he left out the poor, weak, humble humans from the
list of agents from whom he sought security against death. When his
atrocities became unbearable, Lord Narayana had to take the form of a
human being in the personality of Rama and killed him in war.

Comment

The stories above show that 'boons' obtained from Gods are inviolable
and bestow on the recepients immense powers. They also show how having
become invincible, they become intoxicated with power, pelf and
arrogance and inflict indicriminate torture on good people. The immunity
derived from boons is so efficacious that nothing could stop them from
their devilish exploits. The only way to neutralize the effect of boons
and destroy the perpetrators  is by taking advantage of any loopholes.

The boons granted by Siva and Brahma had to be neutralized time and
again by the strategem of Lord Narayana 

( i )  in the case of Basmasura, by enticing him to dance during which
he was beguiled into placing his hand on his own head which led to his
self- destruction

( ii ) in the caes of Hiranyakasipu, by contriving the manner of his
death without violating any of the alternatives he had secured and

( iii ) in the case of Ravana, by the Lord being born as a human being-
a clause haughtily omitted by Ravana while securing his boons from
Brahma.
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8. The power of Curse (Parikshit, Ahalya and Dasaratha)

Parikshit

Parikshit was a great devotee of the Lord.Once, he went for hunting.
After spending long time in the game, he felt hungry and thirsty. He saw
the hermitage of Sage Sameeka and approached him. Since the sage was in
deep meditation, he did not notice the arrival of Parikshit. Parikshit
got angry that the sage did not extend the customary courtesies due to a
king. He lifted a dead snake and put it on the shoulders of the sage
like a garland. Sringi, the son of the sage , also a great sage of
immense potential, returned. He saw what had happened. He spelled out a
curse that since the king had put a snake on his father's shoulders, the
king would die of snake bite of the Snake king Daksha on the 7th day
from then.

Parikshit came to know of the curse and that there was no way to escape
from the curse. He made over his kingdom to his son, and retired to the
banks of river Ganga awaiting his end. Many of the sages came to see
him, pitied his plight but they could do nothing about the curse. All
that Parikshit wanted to know was how on death one could attain
salvation. Sukha, the son of Vyasa arrived and narrated to Parikshit on
the last 7 days of his life the entire story of Bhagavatam which he had
heard from his father. And, what Sukha narrated has come to be known as
Bhagavata Purana.

Ahalya

Ahalya was the wife of Sage Gautama. One morning. Indra, the lord of the
Devas was attracted by the beauty of Ahalya, wife of Gautama. He gave a
wake up call  by cawing like a crow. Gautama mistook it to be a sign of 
daybreak and proceeded to the river for his morning ablusions. Having
Gautama removed from the scene, Indra came to Ahalya in the garb of
Gautama and she extended the usual courtesies to him thinking it was
Gautama himself. Sometime later, Gautama realizing that he had been
misled returned home and learned that she had entertained the imposter
in his absence. He got angry and cursed that Ahalya would turn into
stone. When she admitted her fault misled by the imposter, Gautama
stipulated that she would regain her original form when Lord Rama would
tread on her in the form of stone.

Dasaratha

Once while hunting, King Dasaratha heard a sound at a distance which
resembled that of an animal drinking water from a pond and he aimed his
arrow at the source of the sound. He was an adept in the art of
Sabdavedhi, a form of archery in which one could shoot out an arrow in
the direction of the source of any sound that could kill the animal
creating that sound even though it was nowhere in sight. Actually, the
sound emanated from a vessel in which a young boy was filling water from
a pond for quenching the thirst of his blind parents who were resting a
few yards away. When Dasaratha came to the place, he saw the boy in the
threos of death. He carried the boy to his parents and explained to them
what happened. The old couple were beside with grief and spelled out a
curse on Dasaratha saying that he would also die likewise  unable to
bear the pangs of separation from his son. Incidentally, the curse
contained  an unintended boon to Dasaratha because he had no children at
that time and  had given up all hopes of having a child inspite of his
having numerous wives. Subsequently, Dasaratha had four sons and he died
on his separation from Rama whom he banished to exile in peculiar
circumstances..

Comment

If the power of boons is so invincible, the power of curse is
inevitable.The story of Parikshit cautions that even under the worst
provocations, one should not give room for anger especially towards
saintly souls, who by their penance had immense potential for conferring
a boon or pronouncing a curse. The only way to neutralize the effects of
a curse is to beg pardon from the person offended who might stipulate
the extenuating circumstances or define the happening of an event on the
occurance of which the accursed would gain relief. In other words, the
intensity or the period of punishment would be determined by the person
who pronounced the curse. 
Numerous instances confirm this phenomenon.

( i ) In the case of Parikshit, he accepted the curse and was prepared
to undergo the ordeal of death and sought only the means to secure
salvation after death.

( ii ) In the case of Ahalya, she was also as misled as Gautama (who in
spite of his being a great sage could not differentiate between night
and daybreak). But, since she had been cursed, she had to seek relief
from Gautama and wait as a stone until at a distant date Lord Rama tread
on the stone to regain her original form.

( iii ) In the case of Dasaratha, he had to pay the penalty also for his
indiscretion in killing a boy mistaking him to be an animal.
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