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Vishnu in Meditation?

From: Krishna Susarla (krishna_at_ticnet.com)
Date: Tue May 05 1998 - 17:57:56 PDT

Dear Vaishnavas,

In reading the RaamaayaNam of Shrii Valmiiki I came to the story of
Siddhaashrama which was told by Vishvaamitra to Raama and LakshmaNa. This is
in Canto 29 of the Baala-KaaNDa.

While relating to the Lord the story of the siddhaashrama, Valmiiki says
that this Siddhaashrama is that place where Lord Vishnu performed
austerities before the demigods approached Him and begged Him to stop the
sacrifice of Bali. The rest of the story is well known, how He (in the form
of Vaamana) became the son of Kashyapa  at the request of the latter and
took back the three worlds for the demigods.

It is made very clear from context that siddhaashrama was not merely the
site of meditation of Lord Vaamana (which would be believable, since Lord
Vaamana is a brahmachari) but was actually dwelled in by Lord Vishnu who was
performing some tapas.

What I want to know is, what was Lord Vishnu, who is none other than the
Supreme Personality of Godhead, doing there practicing meditation and
austerities? Certainly it is true that in His various avataaras, He descends
to Earth and shows men the proper dharma. But why was Vishnu Himself doing
this? We normally think of Him dwelling in Vaikuntha admist great spiritual
opulence. What purpose was there behind His performing austerities in
Siddhaashrama? Why would He even need to be practicing austerities?

I am interested to find out if anyone has an explanation for this. Hopefully
someone can shed some light on this.

your servant,

-- HKS