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Anec.21&22 of Part I: Myths

From: VVijay236 (VVijay236_at_AOL.COM)
Date: Wed May 13 1998 - 07:29:25 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas,
You will find below Anecdotes 21 and 22 of Part I: Myths.
Dasoham
Anbil Ramaswamy
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21. The power of pleasure ( Saubhari )

In the dynasty of the Sungod, there was a great king called Mandata. He
had 3 sons and 50 daughters. At that time, a Sage by name Saubhari was
doing penance being under water in a tank for 12 years. He saw  a big
fish playing merrily with numerous wives and offsprings. The sage
thought, why if a mere fish could enjoy life the way it did, he should
also not get married, beget children and play. 

He went to the King who received him with royal honors. Saubhari asked
the King to give him one of his 50 daughters in marriage. The king was
hesitant to marry away even one among them, to such an old and haggard
looking sage. He came up with an excuse that it was a family tradition
to allow the girls to select their husbands after meeting with the
suitors. The sage read through the mind of the king and asked him to
arrange for visiting his daughters and if anyone of them was willing to
marry him, the king should arrange for the wedding. The king asked his
guards to take the sage around the private apartments of his daughters.

While appearing old to the eyes of the king, the sage by his yogic
powers presented himself to the girls in attractive and  handsome form.
All the daughters vied with each other to have him for husband. The king
was surprised to hear the reports. As promised, he got all his daughters
married to the sage befitting all the royal regalia. 

The sage took all of them to his hermitage. With the help of Viswakarma, the
divine
architect, he constructed mansions for each one of them fully furnished
with all that one could hope for and kept them all supremely satisfied. 

One day, the king wanted to see how his daughters were carying on. He
visited his daughters one by one and enquired confidentially whether she
was happy in her married life. Everyone of the daughters came up with
the same affirmative answer. But, each had only one grievance that the
sage was spending all his time with her only - to the exclusion of all the
rest. The king was astonished to hear the same story from everyone of
his daughters and marvelled at the yogic powers of the sage who could
keep all the girls equally happy.

In course of time, the Sage begot 250 sons and was living happily with
grandchildren and great grandchildren and their children. The sage found
that when one desire was sated, another arose and there seemed to be no
end to the demands of desires. 

He realized that by envying the fish hehad involved himself in family life and
had wasted all his yogic powers.He retired to the forest with his wives and 
lived the life of an anchorite for sometime and then took to Sannyas. 
Meditating on the Lord, he attained salvation in due course.

Comment

The story presents two aspects considered essential in Hinduism. 
First, it gives the lie direct to the view that Hinduism is a negative, 
fatalistic religion always emphasizing on the other worldly with scant
regard for what makes one happy ' here and now'. Hindus value all
pleasures of life - Sex, family life, wealth, health, luxury, adventure,
reputation or whatever people regard as valuable.

Second, Hinduism cautions that pleasures, as these undoubtedly are, there
is always a finality about them.They would cease to be pleasures after a
certain stage, if they do not result in positive pain. Hinduism avers
that above all these things there is a kind of real happiness which
alone can be everlasting and absolute and that is spiritual liberation.

The realization of the need for spiritual liberation would arise only
when one finds by experience that the other pleasures are as evanescent
and deceptive as a mirage. Such a realization will dawn only when one
has gone through these 'pleasures' for sufficient length of time.

Oftentimes, it is too late for an individual  when this wisdom dawns
when nothing could be done; in the case of others, it never dawns at all
till their last breath. In both the cases, they are destined to be born
again in some form of life and go through the rigors attaching thereto.

There are, however, a few blessed souls who realize the truth early in
life, strive to acquire spiritual merit or perform Prapatti ( surrender)
and attain salvation never to be born again in this vale of tears.

22. The power of surrender ( Draupadi, Gajendra and Vibhishana)

Draupadi

In the game of dice to which Dharmaputra, the Pandava was invited to
Hastinapura, in the name of King Dritarashtra of Kauravas,, Sakuni
played on behalf of the Kauravas. An expert in deceit, he defeated
Dharmaputra who lost in the wager everything - jewelry, gold, silver,
chariots, horses, elephants, armies, his kingdom, his brothers and
himself and even their wife, Draupadi. 

Duryodana, the Kaurava princewanted to dishonor the Pandavas and 
preferred to start with Draupadi. He asked , his brother, Dussaasana 
to drag Draupadi to the open assembly and disrobe her. Bound by the 
rules of the game, none would react to her tearful pleadings. Draupadi 
could do nothing except to surrender herself to Lord Krishna for 
protection in her dire plight and fainted away.

Wicked Dussaasana started pulling her robes. By the mercy of God, as 
Dussaasana tried to strip her naked, an unending stream of fresh
garments were seen wound around her and soon a heap of shining garments
piled up. Dussaasana out of sheer exhaustion fell down.  Thus, was
Draupadi's honor saved when she surrendered to the Lord.

Gajendra

King Indradhyumna was a great devotee of the Lord. As he was worshipping
Hari ( another name of Lord Narayana) one day, Sage Agastya came. The
king did not notice him. Agastya cursed the king to become an elephant.

Even as an elephant, the king continued to do devotional worship to the
Lord. He used to bring a1000 lotus  flowers daily from a pond and offer
to Hari. One day, as he was plucking flowers, a crocodile caught hold of
his leg and a tug of war ensued for several years. 

Exhausted, the elephant surrendered to the Lord and pitifully cried calling 
the Lord "Aadhi moolam"- the primordial God. On hearing this wail, the Lord
mounted on his Garuda bird vehicle, rushed to the spot, bade his Chakra
(discus ) to cut the crocodile. This Chakra did,  without causing any hurt to 
the elephant. Thus, the Lord saved the Bhakta who surrendered to him.

Vibhisahana

Ravanaa, the Rakshasa abducted Sita , wife of Sri Rama and kept her  a 
prisoner. His brother,Vibhishana advised that Ravana should return Sita
to Rama and  make peace with Rama. Ravana would not listen and angrily
branded Vibhishana a traitor. Vibhishana could not  tolerate adharma and
had therefore no place in Ravana's court. Issuing a stern warning that
since he strayed away from Dharma, Ravana was sure to meet defeat and
death at the hands of Rama, he renounced all his posessions and left
with four of his followers to the spot where Rama was camping with his
army on the other side of the ocean. 

>From mid air, Vibhishana pleaded with the campers " I am Vibhishana, 
brother of wicked Ravana who killed Jatayu and carried off Sita by force 
and was keeping her incarcerated. I tried to wean him away  from his evil 
acts and advised him to restore Sita and seek Rama's pardon. But, I was 
insulted and driven out. I am standing before you, having  renounced kingdom, 
wife, children and all my posessions. I seek sanctuary at the feet of Rama. 
Convey this message to Rama".

Though the chieftains of Rama debated on the desirability of accepting
or rejecting  Vibhishana's appeal, Rama decided to offer him refuge
saying " when a man comes to me seeking my friendship, it is against my
principle to spurn him. When a person surrenders himself, one should
ignore all his faults. Vibhishana had enough reasons to leave Ravana but
he has none to leave us. If he wants to rule Lanka, let him have it
because only by our victory can he get Lanka. But, more importantly,
when someone takes refuge in me, I cannot turn him away even if it means
suffering for myself. This is my Dharma. Even if Ravana had come like
this, I would  gladly accept him. How can I reject Vibhishana? Go and
fetch him" Vibhishana was duly received into Rama's fold and offered
protection.

Comment

Srivaishnava tradition holds this episode as the most important doctrine
and calls it ' Rama Charama Sloka ' even as the Charama sloka appearing at
the end of Bhagavad Gita in which Lord Krishna says" Give up everything.
Surrender yourself to me alone. I shall destroy all your sins. Have no
doubt about this and do not grieve". 

These words illustrate how the Lord accepts all who unconditionally surrender 
to him irrespective of their merits and defects. The act of surrender is held
to 
destroy all sins. 

This is the central point of Vaishnava faith that there is still hope
even for the worst sinner provided he surrenders to the Lord absolutely
without any reservations. 

This is not the message of Hinduism alone. In all religions in which God 
has spoken to humanity, he has given this assurance. This divine assurance 
is that our world full of sin and wickedness needs reminding us the saying 
" There is no saint without a past and no sinner without a future"

 I have heard great commentators saying  that the Lord himself felt
guilty on these three occasions that he did not rush relief earlier. 

In the case of Draupadi, he feels forever indebted to her so much that he
can never recompense her for the trauma she went through till he
provided her the garments. 

In the case of Gajendra, he felt sorry that he had allowed the struggle 
between the elephant and the crocodile to drag on causing untold suffering 
to the elephant who was his Bhakta and went only when he called him  
'Aadhi moolam'. 

In the case of Vibhishana, he still felt sorry that he made him wait in mid
air 
while debating the issue of his admission to his fold. This gives further 
assurance to us that should we surrender ourseves to the Lord with utmost 
sincerity and intensity as exhibited by Draupadi, Gajendra and Vibhishana, 
the Lord will rush succour without any delay.
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