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Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.
In Kerala, now people have started recognizing that there is a lot of temple devotion, very strong and prevalent here. The other day, two women not far away from Trichur came here and our discussion was in such a manner that at one time they came up with this kind of a remark, “Swamiji, in Kerala, people always like to go to the temple. They worship there, they offer some items, offer some money in the hundi or maybe they offer different items in the form of nivedya etc. sometimes they offer some ornaments to the deities, maybe some dress, they arrange for daily puja, occasional puja, udhayasthamana puja etc. It is only this kind of a temple devotion that is prevailing here. They don’t recognize anything like the jnana aspect of devotion. Generally, they don’t have any respect for people who expose the truth, expose dharma, explain it. We have been listening to your talk, seeing you and every time we speak about it. But from many people the response is that ‘Oh what is this! You have become great devotees!' A sense of mockery and devaluation is what comes from their mouth.”
It is a little amusing that our people are like this. Kerala is supposed to be very educated, literate. Maximum literacy is there in the state. It is in this part of the country that you must be able to find enlightened devotion, devotion with a scriptural orientation, devotion where the knowledge about God, knowledge about the human mind, human soul, knowledge about the world - all these things should be sufficiently reflected. But it is not happening.
Srimad Bhagavatam is a complete text by itself. It handles right from the beginning devotion; but it handles the subject with a strange note of enlightenment. In the first verse of Srimad Bhagavatam itself it is mentioned.
Janma ādi asya yato'nvayād itarataḥ - The first reference is that source from where the whole creation has emanated or proceeded.
Artheṣu abhijñaḥ. That source is very, very intelligent, supremely intelligent to do whatever is necessary, to accomplish whatever objective is called for, from time to time. It does not lack in intelligence. It does not lack in designing the necessary means to gain whatever is necessary for the world, for the devotee, for the family or for the sake of dharma. So, that supreme self-sufficient intelligence is also clearly mentioned. Just imagine, these are the descriptions Srimad Bhagavata proceeds to make with regard to God.
Svarāṭ. He is an emperor by Himself. The source is like an emperor. The emperor can do whatever he wants in his kingdom. He doesn't have to seek approval from anybody. Nobody is there to tie his hand or stop his march. This kind of a subject is what we are discussing.
And finally they say, satyaṁ paraṁ dhīmahi. We are contemplating upon, we are bringing that supreme satya, that absolute. That absolute is in the way of a concept or a principle, the transcendental absolute truth we contemplate upon. What does it mean? If you mean by God, the supreme and the absolute truth, that is to be contemplated upon. It is not that you worship Him with a little flower. Flower is a very limited product. Your hands and fingers are very small and you place the flowers at the altar, at the feet of an idol or a picture. Whom are you worshipping - God who is all-pervading, infinite, endless. How can this small act be a full worship to that Lord? The moment you start understanding about the measure and magnitude about God, the worship will immediately go to the level of intelligence where you reflect upon Him, contemplate upon Him, try to understand His might, magnitude and measure.
It is true that while we are young, our devotional practices start from the sensory level. We don't have much of intelligence to think. So we start doing something in the way of an āchāra or an anushthana. But as we grow bodily and we attain the age of 21, 25, like that, everyone should start thinking about “What am I doing – worshipping. Whom - The Lord. Who is this Lord and what is the right and the full way of worship? Am I doing the right worship or it was only a beginning? If it was the beginning, what are the next courses and stages?” In this way, from āchāra - simple formal practice to vichāra - thoughtful introspection, everyone should rise. Unless this elevation from āchāra to vichāra takes place in a devotee, he will not be able to have the benefit of devotion. After all, it is the mind that experiences everything. It is the intelligence that understands all these experiences, remembers them, makes use of them. So, in the real devotion, mind and intelligence, these two factors are the ones to be employed.
Now, Srimad Bhagavatam is a text which by making you read or listen to the content and the message, brings about all this evolution. Remember. King Pareekshit was the one to whom it was first narrated by Suka Maharshi. All that Pareekshit did was spreading the kusa grass, he started sitting on the bank of Ganga, facing the east. He said, “Feast my ears by the narration of the truth, narration of God, the greatness, the excellence, the splendour, the potential, the majesty, magnificence of all this. I have got only seven days and feast my ears with the description, narration of God's excellences.”.
"Is there a way of getting over the grief and affliction caused in life by the world? What is one supposed to do when he is about to die? What is the meaning of life? What should constitute the ideal for man? What is man himself? Where should be his focus in life to make it meaningful, successful and fulfilling?" These were the questions that occurred to Pareekshit and providentially Suka Maharshi arrived on the scene. He took up the subject and started discussing it. The discussion went on ceaselessly for seven days.
On the seventh day was the fated Takshaka supposed to come and bite Pareekshit. I want you to reflect upon this part of the message. Pareekshit only heard, heard, heard. As he was hearing, he was understanding. As he was understanding, there were some doubts and enquiries. He raised them before Suka Maharshi. Suka Muni started answering and clarifying the points. Like that, it was a bilateral exercise. Suka Muni narrating the episodes, Pareekshit listening to them, as he was listening to the words uttered by Maharshi, there were words up to the eardrum but beyond the eardrum they were not words or sounds; they were ideas, units and measures of knowledge. Knowledge is always a food and nourishment to the intelligence, to the mind. So, as he was hearing, Pareekshit's mind and intelligence were becoming enriched, were becoming refined, were becoming expansive, were becoming elevated. Just like when you drink water, the stomach will be full, in the same manner, the mind-intelligence constituents of Pareekshit's personality were becoming richer, greater, glorious, more glorious, purer, more and more elevated and lofty. This is what was happening.
Imagine, through the twelve skandhas of Srimad Bhagavatam, Pareekshit's inner personality was completely bathed - a full abhisheka was done on his inner personality as a result of which he became absolutely pure, glorious, divine and golden. Takshaka did come and bite his body but Pareekshit was not there to know about it. He had already expressed his gratitude to Suka Maharshi for the narration and he said “I am going to withdraw my senses from the world.” He withdrew the mind from the senses; he withdrew the intelligence from the mind and he steeped the intelligence in its own inmost subtle essence. In other words, he got absorbed into his own inner bosom. The entire mind, intelligence along with all their functions completely got dissolved into the inner expanse which our body hosts. Takshaka’s bite, he did not know. From the fire that arose from the bite, Pareekshit's body was scorched, burnt and reduced to ashes but Pareekshit was not there either to experience, feel or react to it. Just like the wakeful man goes to sleep completely unaware of all that he was seeing, hearing, feeling - completely unaware of, even unaware of his own body, mind, intelligence and ego, Pareekshit also got absorbed into a divine and a glorious spiritual sleep. Others witnessed the whole episode of Takshaka's coming and biting him. They reported the episode.
What do I want you to understand from this? All your bhakti becomes meaningful when something like Srimad Bhagavatam which is noted for its spiritual message is absorbed by you and the devotion grows from the sensory level, oral level to the mind and intelligence level, finally gets climaxed in the soul level. This is the whole progress of devotion. Unless our people understand this, I don’t think there can be much of a benefit in the way of devotion. Devotion is actually a treasure. Whoever cherishes it must be able to get at this treasure and enjoy it abundantly.
Harih Om Tat Sat Jai Guru Jai Guru.