The Bhagavad Gita holds a unique distinction among all our scriptures. It is not popular because greater awareness was created about the Bhagavad Gita. Even prior to Adi Shankaracharya, Bhagavad Gita was a popular scripture among all Indians – not just Brahmins. The Gita is popular in Java too.
The Bhagavad Gita didn’t originate in a quiet place – amidst a verdant forest and a lake where the guru and disciple could sit and converse in peace. When the Gita was being delivered, no one knew who would be alive the next moment. Whether Arjun and Krishna would emerge alive from the Mahabharata war was uncertain and unknown. Even before you die you can purify your soul by listening to something that purifies your soul even if it is only for a few minutes.
The Bhagavad Gita was delivered on the premise that philosophy of life and self-awareness are supreme. This is the reason why the Bhagavad Gita is so supreme. The Gita originated during a time when there was no attraction to life, no desires and the only focus was on understanding the philosophy of life.
It is not an exaggeration if we say that Bhagavad Gita is the elder brother of Deepavali. Deepavali is the only festival that is celebrated in nook and corner of India. So, why has Deepavali assumed so much significance in India?
In Assam, a person named Bowman lived in Prakjothisham. He was also called as “narakasuran”. He was committing atrocities against sadhus and women. He had done severe penances but he was abusing his power. He was really a huge pain for the populace. There was no other option but the Gods to descend to earth to kill this demon. When he was killed, his mother Bhoomadevi prayed to God.
Normally as a mother Bhoomadevi should have been upset. But upset she was not. She was glad that her son got killed by God – how lucky he is – so went Bhoomadevi’s thoughts. Legend has it that Bhoomadevi prayed that the day her son was killed – should be celebrated every year with people adorning new clothes and taking an oil bath and having a sumptuous lunch. Another legend has it that it was Narakasuran himself who prayed that people should celebrate his death anniversary. During his last moments, Narakasuran had realized his follies, atoned for his sins and had achieved self realization. This was indeed a great blessing for the demon king.
Additionally Narakasuran also said, “ If people apply oil and take bath using hot water, it will be akin to taking bath in Ganges and such people be showered with the grace of Goddess Mahalakshmi”. Everyone should compulsorily take bath on Deepavali day.
It is only because of Mother Earth’s supreme sense of sacrifice that Deepavali is considered the king of all festivals on this earth.
It is important to understand the significance of Deepavali. Why are generations after generations celebrating Deepavali? We suffer in life. We commit sins. Accordingly we pay for our sins. Sometimes self realization dawns on us and we realize that we are suffering because we committed so and so sins. Sometimes we also tend to think – “ Why am I suffering like this? I haven’t committed any great sin. Then why me?”
When we know why we are suffering, we experience a sense of relief. But we are sadder when we do not know why we are suffering so much. Even if we suffer so much, we should pray for the well being of others. This is what Deepavali teaches us.
Humans have to endure suffering – more sorrows than happiness. The greater our social status the greater our suffering. We should never give undue importance to our troubles. We should continue to wish well for others. This is the lesson that we need to learn from Deepavali.
The ardent devotee seldom gets darshan of God but the one who admonishes God gets darshan – be it Ravanan, Narakasuran or Kamsan. It is because people who admonish God are forever thinking about him – even if it is in a negative manner.
Kragachan and Adi Shankaracharya
Kragachan was a demon who was hell bent on killing acharya. He devised an ingenuous method to decimate the acharya. He could not do that easily as the acharya was always surrounded by 6000 disciples. The kings were following the acharya. But Kragachan was intelligent. He came to acharya and said, “Guru, I am planning to do a narabali (human sacrifice) as part of a yagna. I cannot demand a king’s head as then my head will be severed. Therefore I need to request you as next to a king only a guru is amenable to human sacrifice.”.
Acharya was happy and he said, “ I am so happy that my body is becoming useful to someone atleast. Please come to the river bed tomorrow evening. I will be alone. When I am in Samadhi, please sever my head and take it with you.”
The next evening Kragachan reached the river bed surreptitiously and was ready to attack acharya with his sword. Suddenly, Guru’s able disciple Padmapadar arrived at the scene. On seeing Kragachan, Padmapadar was overcome by aggression and he pounced on the demon tearing off his chest and annihilated him effortlessly. After doing this he was rejoicing like a lion. Just like Lakshmi Narasimhar. Divine intervention made the shankaracharya open his eyes. This made Padmapadar regain his normal composure and he surrendered at the feet of Guru. Guru was stunned with the sight that he saw. There Kragachan was lying in a pool of blood and Padmapadar had roared like a lion. Acharya asked Padmapadar, “ Do you have the grace of Lord Narasimhar?”
Padmapadar started recounting his tale. “Someone taught me the Narasimha mantram when I was a child. They told me that I should do penance to experience its benefits. I started penancing in a hill. A hunter asked me the reason why I was positioned in the hill. When I told him that I was awaiting Narasimhar in the form of a lion, he told me that there was no lion in that hill but he will look out for the lion. The hunter believed that a Brahmin like me would never lie”.
The hunter had promised Padmapadar that he would bring the lion in front of him. But when he couldn’t do it he decided to commit suicide. During the nick of the moment, Narasimhar appeared before him. The hunter promptly tied the lion and took him to Padmapadar. But the latter could not see the lion. Padmapadar fell at the feet of the hunter and said, “I bow to you because you have had the good fortune of seeing the Lord”.
At that time Padmapadar heard a voice within that said that God would manifest in him at the opportune moment.
The moral of the story is that the hunter was not pious. He did not hate God. But he was committed to his integrity. That is why Lord Narasimhar appeared before him. Hatred seemed to be one step ahead of devotion and integrity/ truth is further a step away from hatred. If we resolve to follow the righteous path and take the help of God it will do us a lot of good. We will experience the grace of God sooner or later.
If we start doing something good for others, it will help us in the long run. This is the message that Diwali tells us. Pray for everybody and be happy.
If you are doing sandhya vandanam twice a day but are insulting your parents/ relatives and hurting other people then it will be of little use. Mantra or hymn chanting is important but you cannot do mantra chanting and think ill of others. Do good and good will follow you. Do bad and bad will overtake you…
Do justice to your work, to the salary that you are earning. Don’t think that you can get away by cheating others because your vices will come back to haunt you at some point in life. Do your job sincerely. Live your life trying to help others in as little way as possible. The money that you have earned undeservedly will never stay with you.
(From the discourses of Kanchi Parmacharya).