All the three popular great treaties of Hindu or Sanatana Dharma, namely Srimad Ramayana by Valmiki Maharshi and Srimad Maha Bharatam of Sage Veda Vyasa preach the do’s and don’ts for a cultured behavior of man to be humane in his approach while Srimad Bhagavatam written Veda Vysasa teaches Bhakti, Jnana and Vairagya which the man to higher heights of knowledge of Self Realization.
Bhakti is the state of mind of a devotee who sees God in every part of His creation and he becomes one with him. His main and only wish is to be always in Tune with the Divine. Such a Divine personality is called a Bhakta.
Jnana refers to knowledge of the Self or Parabrahma (the God) who is the cause of this creation, continuous existence, with natural change in every aspect ending up with physical annihilation and recreation. The process of development of every being in His creation, and its purpose in the mundane life are understood with Jnana.
Here the “knowledge” is not pertaining to the physical properties of the physical world. It refers to something which is unseen and beyond any methods of communication to transfer it to anyone. This can only be experienced.
No experience can be explained by any means. Experience varies from person to person because of his state of evolution and maturity. Everyone is not the same though they appear to be similar. Their behavior is different, their thinking differs and they act differently in a given situation. Same person may change his opinion and attitude when he becomes more mature.
Jnana cannot be got by logic. Often logic is misguided by the ego of the person. Bhakti alone can help the person to have a proper perception so that the Jnana is not polluted or perverted by Ego. Bhakti and Ego don’t go together.
Vairagya detaches a man from longing for physical comforts and achievements. Detachment is not the one that comes out of frustration but by knowing its futility
Srimad Bhagavatam reveals the different states of mind of a ‘sadhaka’ as he becomes a Bhakta. Thus each Bhakta teaches us the ups and downs he faces and still be one with Him. Bhagavatam is a compendium of the lives of great Bhaktas and their life styles to guide us.
Srimad Bhagvatam is written by Vyasa Maharshi as a question-answer session between a sage who was the inside of a human life through his and Tapas and Realized God, the Atman and wished to propagate his knowledge to the interested, genuinely devoted to the Divine and serve people as his own kith and kin with intimate affection beyond expectations or longs for returns for the good he does to others.
A sage is one who has no attractions, longings for wealth, luxuries, physical comforts, greed, bodily pleasures or illusions. As such he is not interested in any single individual or a group of individuals. Thus he is beyond the distinctions superimposed on the human beings or the other beings in Nature. He treats all of them as different formations of the Creator, God, almighty or Atman as a common factor in all the beings. Thus he sees beyond the physical appearances. Though at times each individual also sees beyond the physical body or being, it is temporary in him whereas this feature is permanent in a Sage.
When a man sees an object – whether a human being, an art, an animate or an inanimate object, he forms an opinion about it and sees through that opinion. Opinion is not physical. So what is seen by a man is not exactly what is physical but it is covered with the mask of his own opinion about that object.
While Nature is created through an un-understood process beyond the present day modern science to explain the process, our understanding differs from person to person. Thus, to understand a concept, one needs certain basic level of knowledge and maturity.
Basics that must be present to understand physical properties are most important as you wish to study advanced topics in that subject. Knowledge flows from a higher level of understanding to a common man whose knowledge level is comparatively primitive.
One should have (i) Trust in Sastra (Veda / knowledge); (ii) Trust the teacher that he doesn’t mislead you with any bad intentions; (iii) Longing for learning and practicing the principles taught by the person with Higher Knowledge’ (iv) Be frank to clarify your genuine doubts that arise out of your ignorance but not with an intention to stop the teaching or contradict without any constructive intention. These are primary needs amongst many others, as a proper background for the learner.
The Sage that revealed the knowledge of Bhakti, Jnana and Vairagya was Suka Maharishi who never had any selfish interest in anything in Nature. He never had stayed in any place for more than a few minutes because he wanted to spread the knowledge to the large audience distributed all over the world.
Parikshit is the student who had a time limitation of seven days before his death who wanted to acquire this knowledge.
Time limitation and inquisitiveness to learn and get benefited would make the student concentrate on the subject with deep involvement. Parikshit earned wealth, name and fame as a ruler. He was Dharmic and loved his people ruled by him as his affectionate children. They too adored him. Parikshit had no unfulfilled ambitions. He was keen on obtaining Mukti/Moksha. One who has no desires even at the time of death won’t be reborn. Such a one will have no fear of death. But there is a lingering fear of death in him that he should not die before he gets the knowledge of attaining Mukti. This is the required attitude of any Sadhaka. He would have no desires on any of the worldly pleasures but his only interest in this body is to obtain oneness with the Self. Often the assumption that one has enough time to learn as he is still young encourages postponement endlessly. It results in death without fulfilment! Thus the kings search for “Truth” forces him to clarify ever aspect that any Sadhaka would be interested to learn about!
In this Canto, Parikshit asks a very pertinent question useful to any common man. Often every Gruhastha will be thinking that detachment is possible only in the Sanyasa Ashrama and it not meant for him. So he wonders how any Gruhastha could lead an internally detached life appearing as if he is totally worldly in his external behavior.
Keeping this query in his mind the King Parikshit humbly enquires how the great devotee (Bhakta), the King Priyavrata, having tasted the Bliss of the God (Self) could be interested in the worldly activities like a king? How could it be possible when one tastes the pleasure of the highest order by putting himself at the feet of the Divine, to continue with the tasteless mundane life?
Suka Maharishi appreciates this genuine question and gets into the details. Every one of us should understand the anecdotes with care and diligence. Otherwise our doubts would restrict our progress of learning! Though the narration would be interesting, one should have no internal barriers to accept the spirit behind the story.
Before we proceed with the answer to the question, we should have some mutual preparation to avoid some common mental blocks which obstruct from us seeing the Truth in the statements.
The question posed is how could someone who enjoyed eternal peace and Bliss, be interested in performing the mundane acts that give him physical enjoyment which is trifling before the Bliss.
No comparisons and analogies would help in explaining any experience. No experience can be transferred unless the mind trying to receive it is equally mature and is capable of taking it. To be practical to understand this fact, please try if you can explain an experience you had when ate a sweet to one, who never at that sweet earlier! No language will help you explain it. Even if you are smart and put that very sweet on the other person’s tongue, it won’t work, if the tongue is infected by bad health say high fever with bitter taste on the tongue or if the mouth is filled with Jarda or Tobacco! Please try!!
Does it then mean that all can’t understand the answer? Yes. It cannot be understood unless you have the required background as it in influences the state of mind. Any understanding comes out of the mind only. Thus orienting the mind towards the goal is the first requirement. Training the mind to accept the difference between the levels of knowledge and to assess oneself of his status of knowledge is needed. Then the mind gets oriented to higher learning. This leads to gradual reduction of Ego, the obstruction to acquire higher levels of knowledge.
Nature provides very simple solutions to very complicated problems. Those who are knowledgeable provide other the tricks and tactics that help them quickly and comfortably achieve the goal. Lord Sri Krishna provided answers to all such questions in Srimad Bhagavad Gita. We shall examine this question in the light of Sri Krishna’s teachings.
Most questions Sadhakas have are raised by the King Parikshit and are explained through popular stories by Sage Suka. The question of how a Gruhastha can behave as a Sage, a devotee who enjoyed the eternal bliss of the Almighty and vice a versa! Suka Maharishi narrates through the episode of Rajrishi Priyavrata who was staunch devotee who experienced the divine bliss and still continued in his Gruhastharama. He begot ten sons but was undisturbed by the ups and downs of maintaining his kingdom as a popular ruler.
We come across Brahma /Narada being brought in to teach the philosophy of life at times to the characters in most of these anecdotes. Brahma is an embodiment of Jnana and Narda is an analyst and adviser to remove the ignorance of the human beings. They are celestial figures. (For a modern thinker, it is better if he understands them in the light of what is said above to avoid any acceptance problems).
Main points told by Brahma were:
1. The whole creation is ordained by the Omnipresent and every activity of every being is performed according to His Will.
2. No one has any capability or facility to change the Divine Will.
3. All are subservient to the Divine.
4. The Divine has a definite plan for every individual and that alone shall work.
Under these principles Brahma appointed Priyavrata to rule his kingdom encompassing the whole world.
Priyavrata was performing his duties with uninterrupted Bhakti. Because of his Bhakti, he never had likes and dislikes. He was performing his duty as a “Divine Duty” and he had no personal interest! Thus he continued to be in his pure state of mind. He never got enamored about his success or failures, pain and pleasure etc which are common impediments for a man. He ruled for a large number of years. At a suitable time he delegated his kingdom to his capable sons and retired permanently.
This story tells us that everyone of us work, taking it as if it is our own, but always work for the Divine without this knowledge and get stuck with our wishes. Devotion is only solution to our apparent problems which are not ours. Let’s develop this attitude.