A tale from Srimadbhagvata Mahapurana
Destruction at the site of yajna, Daksa organized, was awful. It was a hardhearted and all-pervasive ruin of life and property. Anger of the great lord played havoc and he punished Daksa adequately for the discourtesy he showed towards him earlier. Later on, daughter Sati went to participate in yajna of Daksa but even in the presence of the seers, the sages, the divinities and the gods, Daksa did not greet her and therefore, unable to endure embarrassment, in disgust and desperation, Sati self-immolated through the yogic powers. It infuriated lord Shiva.
Daksa was full of ego and pride and in arrogance had laughed derisively at Shiva and therefore, Virabhadra (Shiva personified) taught a lesson to Daksa. The sight of annihilation was horrendous and whoever attended the great yajna looked out for a shelter to escape from the furies of adherents of Shiva, who destroyed the whole yajna ground and the sanctified pit of the sacrificial fire.
Everyone was fear stricken and panic prevailed at the ground of ruin, as retribution appeared inevitable. In the great act of destruction, the limbs appeared garbled, disfigured and broken and the terrible blows of tridents caused mayhem. The employing of awful weapons like pattisas (a type of spear), swords, maces, iron clubs and mallets stirred anxiety and dread in seers, divinities and hosts of gods and priests engaged in the rituals of yajna.
The holy souls witnessed vast desolation and misfortunes, assembled, consulted one another and then, decided to approach Brahma, and thereafter, without wasting time, appeared before Brahma, the Creator and told him of the deaths and sufferings. Brahma, the Knower and the Creator already knew what was to happen and so, attended Daksa’s yajna. The sages, noble souls, the celestial beings and the gods pleaded before Brahma. The holy souls realized that if they did not propitiate Shiva immediately, it would prove disastrous. No doubt, denying sacrificial offerings to Shiva was a sin on the part of Daksa but it also endangered the lives of the spouses and the guardians’ deities. If Shiva was pleased, only then, they could avert an awful devastation. Brahma listened carefully and serenely but did not exhibit anxiety, for he knew it was essential to protect scared souls and the gods.
Brahma, gods and the celestial beings appear before Shiva
The Supreme Brahma agreed, and requested the sages, the gods, the manes and the lords of the created beings to get ready and therefore, they decided to go to Mount Kailasa, the abode of the Destroyer of the three worlds (Shiva). All the gods and goddesses, various inhabitants of the three worlds stood as one and exhibited splendour and magnificence and started a divine voyage, a grand and impressive journey to Kailasa with a solemn objective to appease and delight Shiva, and then bring peace. Daksa insulted Shiva and sinned, and it was not worth forgiving but for the benefit and survival of the virtuous souls sharing an unfortunate yajna, it was necessary to plead. Brahma, the creator spoke of the laws of life, truth, dharma and punishment when anarchy, sin, violence and untruth govern land of the created beings. He eulogized Shiva, the lord of every living being, mobile or static and
therefore, requested to pardon and let the created beings follow the path of dharma, and live happily.
At last, Brahma said, “O lord, please lavish grace and mercy on the frightened and scared people. Maya (the delusory potency) impaired Daksa’s judgment and so, he concentrated on the rituals and shallow wisdom of the Scriptures. He believed and thought that rituals enshrined sagacity of the three worlds. Daksa lost the wisdom to distinguish between the sin and the truth and it filled ego and pride in him. The powers of Maya clouded insight lethally and he failed to decide and adopt the right path of truth and wisdom. O lord, you are the root of everything. Only you can complete yajnas. You have a right to get share in the sacrificial offerings. Even then, Daksa out of ego and arrogance refused share to you. Therefore, you destroyed yajna. O the lord of Destruction, forgive and be kind and let Daksa, the chief of the created beings, come back to life. Lord Bhaga should get back eyes. Restore moustaches and beard of Bhrigu, and bless lord Pusa with teeth. O lord, be generous and return the disfigured and distorted limbs and mutilated organs of badly injured pious brahmins, priests, sages, divinities and the gods. Complete the most important yajna. Whatever is left after the conclusion of sacrificial yajna will constitute your share of offerings.”
Request of the Creator of universe thrilled Shiva greatly. He smiled, “O Supreme Creator, I do not protest and recall the misconduct of Daksa, for he was duped and now, has lost power to differentiate. The lord’s mayajal (the delusory powers) created confusion because the sin of self-worth and conceit infatuated Daksa and so, he lost wisdom and failed to know the difference between the truth and the sinful acts. I just punished Daksa and others gently so that they learn a lesson.”
Shiva bestowed mercy and compassion, restored the head of Daksa instantly and permitted Bhaga to share sacrificial offerings through the eyes of another god. He lavished on priests, sages and divinities everything lost earlier and so everyone punished, got back original shape and power. Bhrigu got back moustaches and beard. Thus, Shiva was generous and elicited praise from the sages, the gods and goddesses and so, Brahma got what he intended.
When everyone got reprieve, joy filled the gathering of created beings, and they were obliged to Shiva. Afterwards, the gods and sages invited Shiva to the ground of yajna. Shiva, the Supreme Brahma and the gods came to the site of yajna. He fulfilled wishes of the created beings of earth and heaven, arrived at the ground of sacrifice, joined the head of a goat to the trunk of Daksa and blessed Daksa with a benevolent glance from Shiva. Impudent Daksa had humiliated Shiva but now, gracious looks of the lord purified him and so, he harboured no ill feelings or malice towards Shiva. He wished to apologize and praise. Still he felt tortured because he was inimical to love, affection and reverence as conceit and self-righteousness plagued. He forced Sati to commit immolation since she did not want to face Shiva, a vastly disgraced lord, and did not wish to be a daughter of a man, who refused to offer a rightful share of sacrificial offerings. With tearful eyes and choked throat, he could not utter a word.
After great efforts, vanquished with deep feelings of love, Daksa and now, a sagacious Prajapati restrained mind and heart, showed grace and devotion, and extolled virtues of lord Shiva genuinely. He was repentant, and punishment was just he felt. However, the lord even loved, the fallen and the impure brahmins, who lacked truthful knowledge of the lord and the scriptures. Shiva forgave the insolent, the arrogant and the foolish, who thought they were men of god, wisdom and righteousness and the god, and therefore, out of lack of knowledge and pride, nursed animosity and jealousy towards the real devotees, the embodiments of gods’ grace and divinity. Daksa knew the flaws born of ego and arrogance and so if the lord punished, it was a right decision, for he was foolish to express contempt to a close relation.
Daksa praised Shiva and the words failed but he eulogized, and believed, he was the protector of brahmins, the preserver of spiritual truth through realization and interdiction and the wielder of rod (of punishment) for people, who had gone astray. He sinned and salvation was difficult but still the lord was humane and so, it was not easy to repay the lord’s blessings. Daksa’s sincere and deeply felt implorations vastly delighted the great lord.
In the end, he said, “I sinned gravely against the most reverent divine souls and therefore, likely to fall in the meanest of hells but your, bliss and kindness saved me from a fall. Even after praising and praying for long, I fail because I do not claim any virtue. Be empathetic and generous.”
Daksa sought forgiveness. He did not reach the blessed mental state since feelings of envy and hostility still infected. Now, he thought to cleanse impurities of yajna’s site caused through the impious acts with the charitable help of priests, preceptors and sages. He wanted to purify the site of pollutants, and with a view to continuing the sacred and the celebrated yajna, brahmins offered oblations lord Vishnu desired. When Adhwaryu (a person, who measures sacrificial ground and prepares everything required for the yajna) stood holding oblation in hand, Sri Hari (Vishnu) appeared in person.
Dazzling brightness of Sri Hari, defied description, for the grandeur and glory was beyond the beauty and divine glow of the three worlds. He (the lord of eight divine arms) wore a conch, a lotus, a disc, a shaft, a bow, a mace, a sword and a shield in each arm, and was present to protect the devotees and chastise the sinners. Laksmi enthralled and bewitched as her blissful showers delighted the devotees. Smiles spread fragrance. Sri Hari’s winsome smiles and glances enraptured the whole world. Yajna of celestial dimensions attracted the gods, the goddesses, the sages, the divinities and the virtuous people and therefore, they came, participated and shared sacred offerings.
A host of divinities and wise souls, who had come with the Supreme Brahma the Creator, Indra (the lord of paradise) and Shiva (the lord of Three Eyes) instantly rose from the seats and bowed to Sri Hari Vishnu as he arrived. The lord’s grandeur and brilliance overshadowed the radiance of the divine souls present to participate. They knew it was difficult to praise, still Brahma and the gods worshipped lord’s virtuous presence that purifies pollution and contagion. Daksa with folded hands praised Vishnu and sought protection.
At last, Daksa said, “You are the pure consciousness, indistinguishable, fearless and beyond the various states of mind. You negate and reject maya and yet at times, you situate in maya and appear as if infatuated, ignorant and corrupt.”
Daksa humiliated lord Shiva and sinned gravely was evident. Now, he felt chaste, pure and remorseful, and was genuinely devoted to Sri Hari. It pleased the lord and he appeared before Daksa. If a man on earth, sincerely regrets, repents and grieves over the sins committed, salvation is possible and life turns meaningful.
Yajna explains the essence of life
The priests of sacrifice (yajna) spoke of the mind’s attachment to rituals and requested the lord untainted without the traces of delusory powers. They were ignorant beings, who only understood form but did not know what the lord hides within ‘the Self.’ They were aware of the rituals, which yield religious blessings the essence and theme of Vedas. A vicious cycle of karmas keeps men occupied a soul infers. However, the wise men tried to explain the meaning of Vedas through yajna, considered one of the forms of lord they affirmed. Rudra also sought blessing so that he could concentrate at the feet of Sri Hari.
Bhrigu told, “O lord, Brahma and the embodied beings, do not know of self-knowledge because maya (delusory potency) influences and so, often the living beings revel in the darkness of ignorance, unable to know Your Reality. You are all pervasive and omnipresent. So much unpleasant took place. You are still the soul and the well-wisher. Please, be happy.”
Brahma admired the grandeur of lord Vishnu and said, “A living being does not know reality but speaks of the knowledge he gains through senses. The senses only recognize knowledge through the objects, the objects of sense perception and senses, and knowledge is quite different from the illusory world of matter.” He told. The priests’ wives, sages, siddhas, the guardians of the spheres and the regions, and Sanaka and many sages spoke of the vastness and the grand radiance of the Supreme lord. Brahma again spoke of sattva of the lord, which yielded dharma and thus, helped human pursuits to reach noble ends. Lord Agni paid tributes to the lord because he also emitted lord’s brilliance and glow.
All the gods freely praised and eulogized Vishnu, the origin of effulgence, and the protector. Later on, gandharavas (the celestial musicians) spoke of the divine virtues of the lord appearing like the glow of rays, the sages, the divinities, Brahma, Indra and Rudra emit. The great lord was, in fact, the manifestation of all. Immediately after, vidyadharas (a class of semi-gods) extolled the divine virtues of the lord, spoke of living beings not pursuing the path of a virtuous life but enjoyed and yearned for the illusory worldly joys. He, the great lord, shakes off infatuation of minds of such beings and therefore, they are free from sufferings and ultimately, attain salvation.
Brahmins knew the import and sacred influence of yajna on the triple world, and therefore, spoke learnedly, praised purity of the lord and said, “O lord, you are the yajna (the sacrifice) and the sacrificial offering. You are the fire and the mantra (the sacred text) recited at the time of yajna while fire consumes sacrificial fuel, oblation and other things poured into the pit of fire. You are the sacrificial wood, the holy straw (kusa grass) and the vessel of yajna.”
The learned brahmins were enthused, sang glory of the lord and continued to speak of marvels, “You are the supreme priests and the holy supervisors, who oversee rituals of sacrifice. You are the sacrifice and the embodiment of sacrifice. All take delight, and worship you since you are the host couple, the gods, the divinities and the deities. You are the oblation offered to the manes, the juice of the soma plant (a juicy plant of intoxicant).”
Rituals were nothing but an embodiment of the lord brahmins told plainly. All gods, brahmins, priests, sages or others present here personified the lord. Sri Hari was present in everything whether in motion or static. It was a fallacy to think that they performed yajna to propitiate Sri Hari or any other god. It was not so. Maya (the delusory power) through the power of illusions created a wrong belief and feeling among the living and the dead that they were doers. No, it was a sin and a grave crime to think. Sri Hari is an incarnation of the Trinity, resided in everything one see around and is the supreme reality. If one knows and understands truth, distortions and illusory thoughts vanish.
The brahmins spoke of perennial truths so relevant even today. If a man understands that the Supreme lord exists in each particle living, dead or immobile, worries perish. A man gains peace and harmony in a spirit of surrender and self-abdication.
Vishnu was pleased and afterwards, Daksa got up, organized another yajna and therefore, the gods and the celestial souls shared sacrificial offerings. Immense fragrance of joy, divinity and blessings of the Supreme lord spread and then, the lord revealed, “I am the supreme cause of the universe. I am Brahma, the Creator. I am Shiva, the Destroyer. I am ‘the Self,’ the lord and the Witness, the self-effulgent and the unqualified. I am Maya (the deluding power). I am sattva, rajas and tamas. I create, preserve and destroy, and adorn the names of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva (the lords of creation, preservation and destruction).”
Later on, he spoke, “O Daksa, he, who sees no distinction, is the real knower. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are identical in meaning and essence. He, who does not recognize distinction, attains eternal peace.”
Later on, every celestial soul and created being shared sacrificial offering, and was satisfied. Daksa, the lord of created beings worshipped Sri Hari. Whosoever attended yajna felt supremely blessed and so, Daksa with the power yajna’s blessings, attained supernatural powers with devotion, truth and righteousness, and finally flew to heaven forever. After conclusion and consummation of the sacred festival of yajna, Sati, the holy consort of Shiva, who had cast off body, took rebirth through Mena, a spouse of Himavana, the presiding deity of Himalaya. Thus, Daksa an ego incarnate, after penitence, achieved moksa and went to heaven.
Good deeds pay, and the lord forgives a sinner if he begins afresh and lives a life of truth, virtues, righteousness and dharma. Perhaps, a contemporary man lacks qualities of head and heart. He is true neither to words nor actions;
and so, existing sufferings and corrupt practices persist despite apparent comforts. To achieve material glory, the men of authority and power, the poor and the bankrupt are invariably engaged in worldly routine as feelings of obsession, greed, ego and pride overwhelm. They live a life of sins, falsehood, conceit and deception, and notwithstanding the glare of prayers and worship and flare for the divine songs and devotion, tend malice, treachery, violence and hatred.