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Anec.23&24 of Part I: Myths

From: VVijay236 (VVijay236_at_aol.com)
Date: Thu May 14 1998 - 05:36:43 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas,

With this post, we conclude the series of Anecdotes from our scriptures which
convey morals that are as valid today as they were at the time of these
episodes .
There are many more events that can be cited. We will allide to them on a
later occasion.

I invite your valuable comments on the correctness of the facts presented and
the  views expressed on Myths in general and the 24  anecdotes in particular.

We propose to present in Section 3 of Part I Myths, some topics of interest
before dealing with Part II Miracles.

Dasoham
Anbil Ramaswamy
============================================================
23. Power of Ekadasi Vrata ( Fasting)- (  Ambarisha )

Ambarisha, son of Nabhaka  ruled over the entire world. He was a devotee
of Lord Vasudeva (another name for Lord Narayana) . He did several
scarifices including many Aswamedha yagas. He attached very great
importance to the observance of the Ekadasi Vrata (fasting on the 11th
day from the full moon day and the new moon day). Pleased with his
devotion and scrupulous observance of the fast, the Lord gave him a
discus. 

Once, when he was about to  do 'Paranai' (the ritual of breaking
the fast on the subsequent Dwadasi day), Sage Durvasa came. He asked
Ambarisha to wait until he and his retinue returned after taking bath in
the river. Since, Durvasa did not return for a long time and the moment
for the 'Paranai' had arrived, he with the permission of the elders
around sipped a spoonful of the holy water. 

Durvasa who came late was angry that Ambarisha had taken 'Paranai' without
him. He created a ghost from his matted locks and asked it to torment
Ambarisha. But, the discus presented by Lord Vishnu chased  both the ghost and
the Sage. Both
surrendered to Brahma, Rudra and finally to Lord Vishnu. But, Vishnu
said " I am a slave to my devotees. So, I cannot do anything. Rather
surrender to Ambarisha himself and seek his pardon". This Durvasa did
and was relieved. 

After feeding Durvasa and his retinue, he fasted for one year and then took
'Paranai' again. After handing over his kingdom to his sons, he retired to
forest, performed penance and attainedMoksha.

Comment

The story brings out the efficacy of observing the Vrata. In Hndu
tradition, observing the Ekadasi Vrata involves complete fasting
throughout the day and night of the 11th day from the new moon day and
the full moon day and keeping awake the whole of that night. The fast
should be broken only early in the morning of the Dwadasi day (12 th
day) by sipping the holy water with the holy basil (Tulasi) leaves and
then partaking of a comparatively heavy lunch. Care should be taken not
to fall asleep during the day time of the Dwadasi day especially after
the heavy meal. Throughout the observance, one is expected to constantly
meditate on the Lord, read and hear stories of God and holy men. Thus,
they say, enormous spiritual merit accrues to the person practicing the
Vrata. How arduous it is can be realized only by going through therigor
of the Vrata.

Whether fasting helps the individual in accumulation of spiritual merit
or not, it does seem to serve a mundane benefit. A certain amount of
rest for the digestive system is advised even by modern research to keep
the body functions in fine fettle. 

Also, it has a social purpose. At least once in a while, the haves are made to
forego food and sleep possibly to bring home to them the plight of the have
-nots who go without food or sleep for days on end. The pangs of hunger and
sleeplessness might induce them to be a little more concerned and
compassionate to their unfortunate peers in society. Maybe, this
consideration might move them to action in charitably feeding the needy
and sheltering the homeless.

Even if the Vrata does not per se result in spritual merit, this concern
would result in a satisfaction of having rendered a useful service to
society. The truth, however, is that the Vrata does yield spiritual,
personal and societal benefits and the individual becomes that much
evolved. The efficacy of fasting is acknowledged by all religions
(e.g.Ramadan),  is as valid today as in the days of Ambarisha.

24.The power  of words of wisdom ( Teachings of Dattaatreya)

Dattaatreya is an auxilary Avatar.of Lord Narayana. He gave himself to
the Sage Aatreya as his son. Hence,  the name. Dattaatreya appeared on
earth to teach mankind certain basic truths  through his disciple king,
Yatu Maharaja. In his teachings, he brought out the virtues and vices
that humanity encounters and advised learning lessons from various
elements and other  living creatures. Some of his teachings are as
follows:

1. One should learn patience and lending succour to the needy - from 
earth (prithvi), which gives succour even to those who dig it

2. One should learn sense of detachement - from wind (vayu) which blows
but never sticks to anyone particular object

3. One should learn to have have a breadth of vision-  from ether
(akasa) which is spread out everywhere

4. One should learn to preserve one's innate nature ( Swarupa and
Swabhava) - from water (apah) whose nature is to be cool

5. One should learn to be a nonentity-  from fire ( teyu) which exists
but without any specific form.

6. One should learn about the industructibility of the soul -  from the
moon (chandra) which waxes and wanes but never gets extinguished.

7. One should learn to offer sustenance to others -  from the Sun 
(surya) which ensures this to all living creatures.

8. One should learn  being unmoved by vicissitudes in the confidence
that God would provide everything in due course- from the python which
remains in a place unmoved but nevertheless gets its catch anyway.

9. One should learn to remain calm -  from the center of the Ocean which
remains calm and unperturbed.

10. One should learn to be innocent and guileless -  from the innocence
of an infant.

11. It can be seen that one who falls a prey to even one of the sensual
attractions gets destoyed (e.g)
(i) The moth dies when it reaches the fire attracted by its radiant form
( Rupa)
(ii) the bee dies when it gets trapped in a flower when it is fascinated
by its fragrance ( Gandha)
(iii) The fish dies when it falls for the taste ( Ruchi) of the bait.
(iv) The male elephant gets trapped when it desires to enjoy the touch
(Sparsa) of the female elephant
(v) The deer gets killed by a dart when it stands still entranced by the
sound (Sabda) of music
(vi) The honey bees get destroyed when they hoard honey; hoarding money
is no less dangerous.

12.  The spider builds its web with its own secretions. So also, God
creates the Universe out of his own self without needing any help from
any external agency.

Comment

As the teachings are self explanatory, no comments are offered except to
say that these truths are eternally valid.
============================================================


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