Krishna Avatar Part 32

By Nirooshitha Sethuram

Graphics by Sheralee (Shambhavi) Hancherow

The next encounter in Krishna’s life was Narakasura.  Who is Narakasura?  

Bhumata
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Narakasura, also known as Bhumasura, was the son of Bhumata, Mother Earth.  She is the incarnation of Lakshmi and the consort of Varaha.  When Lord Vishnu incarnated as Varaha, at her request he married her, having saved her and the good people on earth by slaying Hiranyaksha.  [see blog on Narasimha Avatar]

Narakasura was born out of their union.  When the child was born, Bhumata prayed to Lord Vishnu, asking him to bless their son with a long life.  Lord Vishnu told her that she need not worry about her son since he would have to come back in another incarnation to end his son’s life, when the time comes.  

Narakasura
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Narakasura was brought up pious and humble until his association with the asuras.  The demons changed him into one of them.  He became so powerful and mighty that he brought all the kingdoms on earth under his control.  Then he started harassing the devas, the heavenly beings.  Even the mighty Lord of the Devas couldn’t withstand his assault.  Indra fled the heavens.  

This made Narakasura the king of heaven and earth.  He didn’t stop there.  He stole the earrings of Aditi, Indra’s mother, as they had extraordinary powers.  He snatched Varuna’s umbrella and occupied Indra’s seat on top of mount Meru.  He had already kidnapped sixteen thousand young princesses too, keeping them captive in his palace.

Led by Indra, all the devas went to Lord Vishnu seeking help.  Lord Vishnu promised to protect them from Narakasura when the time came.  And now was that time.  Lord Indra visited Krishna, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and complained about Narakasura.  Indra reminded Lord Vishnu to protect him and the devas from Narakasura’s tyranny.  

Krishna and Satyabhama riding on Garuda
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Krishna, to fulfill his promise to Indra and the devas, as also to Bhumata, went to war with Narakasura.  Krishna rode on Garuda, his eagle mount, along with his wife Satyabhama.  

The reason Krishna went with Satyabhama was that she is the incarnation of Bhumata.  Aditi, Indra’s mother, and the devas had also complained to Satyabhama about Narakasura’s wrongdoings.  

Once Krishna reached the city of Pragjyotisha, he blew his horn Panchajanya.  Then he attacked Narakasura’s great fortress.  The fortress was fortified by several barriers consisting of mountain ranges, water, fire and cyclonic winds.  He destroyed all the protective formations one by one with little or no effort.  

Then came Mura, Narakasura’s general.  He used many magical weapons to attack Krishna.  Krishna was able to defuse them very easily and killed Mura with his mace.  Ever since that, Krishna has been called Murari the slayer of Mura.  

Narakasura himself came to fight Krishna and used several divine weapons against him.  Krishna again easily neutralized them all.   Narakasura also started attacking Garuda, Krishna’s mount.  He tried his best to beat Garuda, using all his strength, but nothing worked.  Garuda didn’t even get a scratch.  

Narakasura is beheaded
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Filled with anger, as a last resort he threw his trident at Krishna.  For this Krishna acted as he was fainting.  Due to a boon that Narakasura had gotten, he could only be killed by the one who gave birth to him.  Seeing that Krishna had fainted enraged Satyabhama, who is Bhumata.  She beheaded Narakasura with Krishna’s Sudarshana Chakra.  

While taking his last few breaths, Narakasura realized his sins.  He surrendered to Krishna and asked him for his mercy.  He also asked for a boon to celebrate the day of his death as the day of liberation, the festival of lights.  It is celebrated as Diwali.  

Rescued Princesses and Krishna
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The devas were delighted to see Narakasura fall.  They showered flowers from the sky while praising Krishna’s name.  Narakasura’s son was crowned by Krishna at the request of Bhumata.  Krishna released the sixteen thousand captive princesses who had been jailed by Narakasura.  They fell at Krishna’s feet asking him to accept them as his wives, as no one else would now support them.  Krishna accepted them all as his consorts and sent them to Dwaraka with guards carrying tons of wealth.

Krishna visited Deva Loka with Satyabhama by his side.  He lovingly returned Indra’s mother’s earrings to her and Varuna’s umbrella to him.  Indra and his wife Indrani worshipped Krishna. 

Krishna and Satyabhama with Parijata tree
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There in Indra’s garden Satyabhama saw the celestial Parijata tree with its golden bark and intoxicating fragrance.  She reminded Krishna of a promise.  Thus, on his way back, Krishna took the Parijata tree from Deva Loka without Indra’s knowledge.  Why would Krishna do this knowing it would make Indra angry?

Some time earlier, Sage Narada got a few flowers from the celestial Parijata tree and offered them to Krishna.  Narada had an ulterior motive, wanting to see which one of Krishna’s beloved wives he would give the flowers to.  With delight, Krishna gave the flowers to Rukmini.  

Finding this out, Satyabhama was provoked with jealousy.  She confronted Krishna, expressing her anger and disappointment about the whole incident.  Krishna said, “Are you crying over just a few flowers.  I’ll get you the tree itself from Deva Loka.”  Thus, Krishna uprooted the tree and loaded it on Garuda to take home to Dwaraka.  

When Indra found out, he was furious and took his army to battle with Krishna, forgetting all the favors he had just gotten from him.  Krishna easily defeated them all and returned to Dwaraka with the celestial tree.  

Defeated, Indra cursed that the plant would never bear fruits, though it might bear flowers.  Since then the Parijata tree does not bear any fruit. 

Rukmini, Krishna and Satyabhama
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Satyabhama happily brought the tree to her palace, showing it off as her trophy.  Rukmini also took a fancy to it because of its flowers.  She loves adorning Krishna’s feet with flowers.  So she insisted that she too wanted the flowers.  

As Krishna loved them both, he planted the tree in Satyabhama’s courtyard in such a way that its flowers fell down in Rukmini’s courtyard.  In this way he made both of his wives happy.  

Krishna also married the sixteen thousand princesses, in as many palaces.  He took on as many forms for them at the same time.  All of his wives were accommodated in their special palaces so that there would be peace among them all.  

Sage Narada was a celibate, so he had a doubt as how Krishna treated all his wives and how they regarded him.  The thought of keeping a single wife seemed a great burden to him.  So he wanted to know how Krishna managed to please all his wives, while still finding time for all his other accomplishments.  

Narada went to Rukmini’s palace and saw Krishna relaxing on a swing bed with Rukmini lovingly fanning him.  Krishna jumped up as soon as he saw the sage and welcomed him.  After accepting all the hospitalities, Narada then went to the next door to Satyabhama.  To his astonishment, there he saw Krishna playing a game of dice with her.  Krishna again jumped up and greeted the Sage.  Narada was puzzled.  After enjoying their company, he moved on to the next palace.  There he found Krishna with his wife Jambavati.  

Narada and Krishna
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Poor Narada stuck to his self-imposed task, climbing in and out of as many palaces as he could.  In each of them he was greeted by smiling Krishna and a loyal, pleased and contented wife.  Then he realized his mistake was in doubting Krishna, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu.  He is the one in all.  Everything exists in him.  Then he prayed to the Lord, asking for forgiveness for doubting him.

Out of all his wives, Krishna could never find any fault with Rukmini.  She was very great and always engaged in his service wholeheartedly.  One day, Krishna wanted to see Rukmini’s beautiful face in an aggravated condition.  So he schemed out a conversation which would press her buttons and make her irritated.  Why would Krishna want to do this to Rukmini? It is said that it’s important for husband and wife, though in love, to have small conflicts and find ways to unite again.  

Your Divine Task

By Swami Prajñananda

Gods and Goddesses, heroes and heroines — the great Greek epics with tales of heroic deeds enchanted me as a child.  The seeming impossible made possible kept me rapt. 

I especially loved Hercules.  He performed deeds that no one else could, due to both his strength and strategizing.  As I grew up, I would apply myself in the same way, taking on challenges that were bigger than me.  Whether it was athletic or academic success, I would not stop until I achieved what I set out to do.  Yet, once completed, I was ready to move on to the next thing.  

I just wasn’t satisfied.  No matter what I achieved, I was still left with a feeling that there was something missing.  And it was true!  I was missing me.  When I met my Guru, Gurudevi Nirmalananda, she gave me a new direction to turn:  inward.  

My striving to be something has transformed into discovering that which I already am — perfect, whole and complete.  I learned that nothing I achieved on the outside would make me more whole on the inside.  Wow!  After years of striving to improve myself and my life, this revelation was groundbreaking.  Yet to live in that knowing all the time is the true Herculean task. Gurudevi describes: 

Your task is to first find the Divine in your own Self, then to see God shining through, as all that exists.

 Yoga & Worldly Life by Gurudevi Nirmalananda

You know how to get tasks done.  You have so many in your life, some more challenging than others.  Yet all the tasks have taught you something.  I often think that the challenges and goals I have taken on so far were all in preparation for this ultimate task, finding my own Self.  It is the same for you.  The skills needed to get a job or a degree are transferable to your spiritual upliftment.  Finding the Divine in your own Self requires persistence, dedication, problem solving and more. 

Yet you need a guide, someone to show you how and where to pour your efforts.  This is the job of the Guru.  Gurudevi not only shows you the way; she explains the path and gives you the experience she names.  She gives you the yoga practices that were given to her by her own Guru.  They have been passed down through the generations of yogis, dating back through time.  We receive these same tools because they work.  When you do the practices, you get the results.

First, you discover your own divine Self.  This is the deeper dimension of your own being — that which is perfect, whole and complete.  You taste it in your very first Svaroopa® yoga class or meditation.  Yet it is easy to forget who you are when you leave your yoga space.  Your task is to find your Self again and again and again, until again becomes always.  You root so deeply into your own Divinity that you can never be uprooted again. 

Once you are settled in your own Self, you see the world differently.  Most people look at the world as separate and even scary.  Yet, when you know your own Self, you are given divine vision.  Instead of a scary world, you see a divine world.  You see God shining through, as all that exists.  With your divine eye, nothing is bad, nothing is to be rejected or feared.  It is all to be respected and cherished.

This is the path laid out for you by the Great Masters in this yogic tradition.  First you find your Self; then you see the Divine in everyone and everything.  What a divine task!  Are you ready to take it on? 

Krishna Avatar Part 31

By Nirooshitha Sethuram

In Dwaraka’s palace, Arjuna contemplated the situation all night.  He realized he had to act immediately to stop the marriage of Duryodhana to Subhadra, the youngest sister of Krishna, born to Vasudeva and his wife Rohini.  As she was already promised to be married to Duryodhana, a promise made by Balarama, her other brother, there was no way for Arjuna to win her through the traditional way.  For him to marry Subhadra, the only other way would be to kidnap her by force. 

In this case, force would probably not be necessary since Subhadra was already in love with him.  She was not at all happy about her arranged marriage.  Maybe an elopement!  That’s it.  Arjuna realized that was the meaning of Krishna’s hint given the night before!  Now Arjuna need only to wait for an opportunity to carry out his plan.

Subhadra’s older brother Balarama gave her the duty to take care of the needs of their guest, Arjuna, who was thought to be a sage.  It was considered a great blessing for a young maiden to serve a sage, so that she would get the blessings of a good husband and many children.  Arjuna thoroughly enjoyed every visit of Subhadra, thanking God for this unexpected gift.  He fell in love with her even more so, seeing her every time she came to serve him.

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Not knowing the true identity of the sage, Subhadra was delighted in serving him and being there, readily available for all his needs.  After a few visits, she became a bit suspicious about his behavior.  She found his interactions with her to be far from a saintly manner.  When she watched him closely, she noticed his callused forefinger, common for an archer.  

With this young sage, both of his forefingers were callused, which was a sign of a great archer.  Not only was it a sign, it was a proof that the sage must be none other than Arjuna.  Arjuna was the only archer who could have this as he was famous for shooting equally well with his right and left hands.  When she asked, Arjuna didn’t have any choice other than to reveal his true identity to her.  Ever since this discovery, their courtship progressed smoothly.  As his stay continued, the rainy season started to end, meaning Subhadra’s wedding day was approaching.  Now was the time to act.

They both had Krishna as their biggest ally.  First and foremost, he gave Arjuna his chariot and advised Subhadra to drive the chariot away from Dwaraka towards Indraprastha.  This was a crucial piece of advice, to make it look like Subhadra kidnapped Arjuna, not the other way around.  

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The next morning, Arjuna borrowed Krishna’s chariot and waited near the temple where Subhadra had gone for a puja.  As she came out of the temple, Arjuna drove the chariot in front of her so that she could easily get in.  When the soldiers on duty saw this, they thought that Subhadra was being abducted by the sage.  

Arjuna caught Subhadra by the arm to seat her in the chariot, preparing for her to drive away.  At that moment, the soldiers started to attack Arjuna.  Remembering Krishna’s advice, Subhadra took the reins of the horses.  Arjuna immediately started to fire arrows at the soldiers, revealing his true identity.  The soldiers ran towards the palace to inform Balarama of the incident.  

Balarama got into a rage, uncommon for him.  He pledged to punish Arjuna for what he had done, especially by breaking the trust by faking to be a sage.  Balarama felt that the entire Yadava clan had been dishonored by this act of Arjuna.  Since Arjuna was Krishna’s bosom friend, Balarama suspected Krishna’s involvement as well.  He wanted to confront Krishna about the event and sent word for him to come.  

When Krishna arrived, Balarama shouted at him, asking why Krishna was silent about his dear friend insulting them and the Yadava clan by kidnapping their sister.  He said to Krishna, “It’s an unbearable disgrace upon us.  Especially after we treated Arjuna so well, offering him shelter.  I cannot wait to hear why you let this happen, and you not yet getting ready to chase him down to fight!”

Krishna smilingly said, “Didn’t I warn you dear brother, about letting strangers stay at our palace, especially with our young sister around.  You are the one refused to believe me, and now you are trying to blame the event on me.  I heard from the soldiers that it was our loving sister, Subhadra who was driving the chariot and not Arjuna.  Therefore, this is not a kidnapping.  It is an elopement initiated by our sister.”  Balarama was a bit annoyed by Krishna’s sarcasm.  

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Then Balarama looked at Krishna and asked why he hadn’t said anything about the true identity of the sage, as well as the love affair between them. Krishna smilingly said, “As you had already promised Subhadra to Duryodhana, I didn’t want you to get involved in any elopement.  In this way, you are clear of all blame and guilt.  Since you knew nothing about this elopement, Duryodhana cannot blame you for breaking your promise.”  Balarama had no choice but to accept the marriage of Subhadra with Arjuna.

The couple was invited back with great honor and the wedding was celebrated grandly in Dwaraka.  After some time passed, it became time for the newlyweds to return to Arjuna’s home, Indraprastha.  Subhadra was getting ready to leave with Arjuna, bringing her huge dowry of precious metals, horses and maidens.  

But there was a problem in taking Subhadra to Indraprastha.  When all five Pandavas married Draupadi, they gave her their word that they would never bring any of their other wives whom they marry in the future to the palace where Draupadi lived.  Therefore, while they were allowed to marry many women, according to the tradition of kshatriyas, but Draupadi would be the only wife whom they would have in Indraprastha.  Arjuna decided to take his chances by returning from his exile to Indraprastha along with his new wife Subhadra.

He was welcomed by Kunti and his brothers.  But Draupadi was missing.  When he inquired about her, the brothers revealed that she was in a rage and didn’t want to see anyone.  They added that she was heartbroken, as Arjuna was breaking the promise by bringing his new wife, Subhadra, to Indraprastha.  

Hearing this Subhadra decided to mend things.  To save her husband from this difficult situation, she decided to visit Draupadi’s chamber in the attire of a cowherd woman.  When Draupadi asked who she was, she said that she came to serve her as her maid.  She then fell at Draupadi’s feet.  Draupadi got suspicious and asked her to come out with the truth.  Then Subhadra revealed who she was and promised Draupadi that she would never want to replace her or take her place in Indraprastha.  Seeing such humility, Draupadi accepted Subhadra as her younger sister.  

After some time, Subhadra bore a son to Arjuna.  He was the great Abhimanyu, who later became equal to his father in virtue, valor, and proficiency in archery.  A true son of Arjuna, he became the favorite of all the Pandava brothers and of Krishna.

Now let’s look at the marriages of Krishna, which also happened in this same time period.  

Mitravinda was a cousin of Krishna as her mother Rajadevi was an aunt to Krishna.  The princes of Avanti, Vinda and Anuvinda were friends of Duryodhana.  The princes arranged a swayamvara for their sister, Mitravinda, but without her consent. Mitravinda begged Krishna to rescue her.  She was devoted to Krishna and longed to marry him.  Knowing her devotion, Krishna obliged to her request.  He once again fought with all the other kings while abducting her, then formally married her in Dwaraka.

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Satya was the daughter of the King of Kosala, Nagnajita, who was married to Vasudeva’s sister.  This king owned seven vicious bulls with sharp horns.  He declared that whomever was capable of subduing these seven bulls would  win his daughter’s hand in marriage.  Many kings from all parts of the world wanted to marry Satya, so they attempted to calm the bulls but failed miserably.  

When Krishna visited Ayodhya, the capital of Kosala, King Nagnajita greeted him with highest honor and gave him a grand welcome.  His daughter Satya, seeing Krishna in person, immediately fell in love with his divine form and wanted to marry him.  As Nagnajita had already announced the competition, he had to request that Krishna accept the challenge, in order to fulfill Satya’s wish.

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Krishna entered into the arena which the bulls had been let loose.  He then multiplied himself into seven forms and calmed the bulls instantaneously with great ease.  The king along with his daughter were delighted to see this.  The happy father bestowed his blessing on the bride and groom in a grand wedding.  Krishna then took Satya with him back to Dwaraka.

Krishna’s marriage to his cousin Bhadraa was the only marriage that took place without any unpleasant occurrences.  Bhadraa was the daughter of Shrutakirtii, another aunt of Krishna.  Bhadra’s brothers married their sister to Krishna in a splendid wedding.  

Krishna also married Lakshmanaa (or Lakshanaa), the daughter of King of Madra.  In her swayamvara, he won her in an archery challenge similar to the one Arjuna won to marry Draupadi.  Thus, Krishna married about eight women during the course of this time.  He lived happily in Dwaraka until he received multiple complaints about the mighty King Narakasura.

Krishna Avatar Part 30

By Nirooshitha Sethuram

Graphics by Sheralee (Shambhavi) Hancherow

Arjuna continued on his long journey and reached Manipura.  He went to the court of Chitravahana, King of Manipura, and introduced himself.  The king was delighted to have mighty Arjuna in his court and gave him a warm welcome.  The king requested Arjuna to be his royal guest, so he was given accommodation in the royal palace.  

One day Arjuna got a glimpse of the king’s daughter, Chitrangada.  He was totally bewitched by her masculine beauty and wanted to marry her.  He went straight to the king and requested his permission to marry her.  As Chitravahana did not have any other heir, he had trained Chitrangada in warfare and ruling the kingdom.  The king agreed for his daughter to marry Arjuna under one condition.  

Chitrangada, King Chitravahana & Arjuna
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As Chitrangada was his only child, thus the only one who could continue his dynasty, the king had decided to adopt her son and appoint him as the Crown Prince of Manipura.  This meant that a child, born to her, would be his successor, no one else.  Therefore, the condition was that Chitrangada’s son would remain in Manipura.  As Arjuna was so madly in love with her, he didn’t have a choice but to agree.  

The marriage took place in a grand scale and Arjuna stayed there for a few years.  In due course Chitrangada got pregnant and bore a son.  As was promised, Chitravahana adopted Arjuna’s son as his own.  It was time for Arjuna to move on with his journey.  Arjuna left his wife Chitrangada and his son, to stay in Manipura, as he continued his journey to the south.  

On the way to the south, he came across some sages.  Spending time with them he gained knowledge and wisdom.  He saw that the sages had problems getting water for their daily use.  When he asked about it, they revealed that there were five ponds nearby, but they were unable to get water from them, as each of the ponds was the home of a huge crocodile who ate anyone who came near the pond.  Hearing this Arjuna assured them that he would put an end to this terror.  

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Arjuna fearlessly got into one of the ponds.  The crocodile in that pond immediately came towards him to attack him.  Ullupi’s boon given to Arjuna, that he will remain unconquerable in water, came true.  Arjuna easily defeated the crocodile.  Catching it by its tail, he flung it out of the water and threw it to the ground, injuring it very badly.  As soon as the crocodile hit the ground it transformed into a heavenly damsel.  

The damsel paid her respect to Arjuna and said, “Oh Son of Pandu! All the crocodiles in these ponds are heavenly beings.  We have been cursed by a sage to remain in these waters as crocodiles for years now.  We have been waiting for a true warrior to liberate us from this curse.  As you liberated me, please do liberate the others as well.  Arjuna freed all of them from their curse.  The heavenly beauties thanked Arjuna and returned to heaven.  The sages were relieved of their problems and blessed Arjuna.  

Arjuna moved on with his journey.  As Arjuna’s years of pilgrimage were coming close to an end, he wished to end it in Dwaraka, where he could meet Krishna again.  The last time he saw and spent time with Krishna was when they took up their residence in Indraprastha.  

He remembered going out on a hunting trip with Krishna.  At the end of the day, they were tired and thirsty.  They went to the banks of Yamuna to quench their thirst and refresh themselves.  When they reached the riverbank, they were struck by the beauty of a damsel wandering along the banks.  When questioned by him, she revealed herself as Kalindi, the daughter of Sun God.  She had been living in a house beneath the river due to a vow she had taken to marry the incarnation of Vishnu.  She had been observing severe austerities until she met one.  

Krishna and Kalindi
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Arjuna with a smile told her the time has come to receive the fruits of her penance, for the one she was looking for is only a few yards away from her.  He pointed to Krishna and Kalindi prostrated at Krishna’s feet, pleading him to accept her as his consort.  Krishna, with delight, accepted her and all three of them returned to Indraprastha.  After getting blessings from Yudhishthira, Kalindi returned to Dwaraka with Krishna. Krishna married her there, with the support of all in Dwaraka.

Arjuna also was thinking about Krishna’s sister Subhadra.  Arjuna had met her on one of his trips to Dwaraka.  They had been attracted to each other.  No one knew about this other than Krishna.  Arjuna was looking forward to meeting Krishna and Subhadra.  With all that in his mind, Arjuna continued his journey towards Dwaraka.  

Subhadra was Krishna’s younger sister.  She had grown up to be a lovely young lady.  She was highly pampered by her two older brothers, Balarama and Krishna.  Her happiness was everything to them.  As the eldest brother, Balarama was anxious to get her married to a suitable groom.  Duryodhana had heard about her exceptional beauty and showed his interest to marry her.  Not knowing Subhadra’s desire to be with Arjuna, Balarama agreed to Duryodhana’s proposal of marriage.  He was quite pleased about this alliance, as he always had a soft corner towards Duryodhana; Duryodhana was Balarama’s favorite student.  Not to mention, he was thrilled about the alliance with the great family of the Kuru dynasty, too.  

Krishna was not at all happy about this news, but it was too late as Balarama had already given his word to Duryodhana.  Nonetheless, Krishna didn’t want his dear sister to suffer at the hands of the cruel-natured Kaurava Prince, Duryodhana.  So he had to come up with a strategy to save his sister from marrying this ill-natured man, and to marry the one whom she carried in her heart.  

Arjuna arrived at the gates of Dwaraka.  After travelling so long his clothes were soiled and crumbled, and he had grown a long beard.  He looked like a sage.  No one recognized him in Dwaraka, though he was well-known there.  Arjuna chuckled about people not recognizing him.  He found a tree, sat under it and closed his eyes.  People started coming towards him, as they mistook him for a real sage.  The crowd gathered around him and some started gossiping about the news of Subhadra’s wedding to Duryodhana.  

Arjuna, Krishna and Subhadra https://vedicfeed.com/love-story-of-arjuna-and-subhadra/

Arjuna was devasted to hear this news.  He didn’t know until that moment how much Subhadra meant for him.  He couldn’t afford to lose her.  He closed his eyes, deeply lost in his thoughts.  He wondered about Krishna’s involvement in this, as he knew that Krishna was aware of his attraction towards Subhadra and her’s towards him.  He decided to sit in stillness, meditating.  He expressed no desire for anything, including food.  People were quite convinced that he was a great sage.

The news about a sage visiting Dwaraka reached the ears of Balarama.  He immediately came to visit the sage, not knowing he was Arjuna.  He paid his respect to the sage but Arjuna was quite embarrassed about this, as he was very much younger than Balarama.  He tried to hide his face as he was nervous that Balarama would recognize him.  But, to his surprise, Balarama didn’t have a clue about the one who was hiding behind the clothes of a sage.  

Arjuna’s years of spending time with great beings during this time period really helped him to suit the act.  Balarama was pleased with meeting the sage.  He went back to get Krishna to come along with him.  When Krishna arrived, and recognized Arjuna, he gave a quizzical look.  Arjuna couldn’t take it and closed his eyes.  Balarama humbly invited the sage to stay at the palace, as the rainy season had started.  It is customary for sages to stay with householders during monsoon times.  Arjuna glanced at Krishna and agreed to the request, as he knew that Krishna recognized him.  

Krishna and Balarama http://www.mygodpictures.com/
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Krishna showed dissatisfaction with his brother’s decision.  He muttered into Balarama’s ear, though in such a way Arjuna could hear.  He said, “Oh dear brother, beware of bringing strange young men into our residence, even if they are holy men.  Don’t forget that our beloved sister is a maiden waiting to be married.  The sage doesn’t look old enough to renounce the pleasures of life.  You better think twice before you bring him into our home.”  

Balarama looked at Krishna in such a way to tell him to mind his own business.  Balarama went on with his plan, inviting Arjuna the sage into their home.  They all went back to the palace.  Balarama made sure the Sage was comfortable in his room.  What Krishna had said to Balarama was playing in Arjuna’s mind over and over again.  He knew there was a hidden message for him in what Krishna said.  He kept thinking about it all night.

Free from Limitations

By Swami Satrupananda

“I am imperfect,” your mind tells you this again and again.  Does it, unfortunately, sound familiar?  Yoga calls this ignorance.  The good news is that yoga also provides a cure: Shaktipat, the sacred initiation from a Satguru.

Yoga is the science of maximizing the human experience.  Part of this science is defining what keeps us limited.  The belief that “I am imperfect” has a Sanskrit name: aanava mala.  And it is just that, a belief, not a truth.  That’s why aanava mala is often translated as ignorance.  We don’t know who we really are.  

You are perfect, whole, full and complete.  Whenever you feel otherwise, you don’t know the Truth of your Divine Nature.  But this is not an ignorance that can be solved with more education.  Therefore, my teacher, Gurudevi Nirmalananda, translates aanava mala as Divine Amnesia.  You have forgotten your own Divinity.

Instead, your mind says that you are small and insignificant.  It’s right there in the Sanskrit words.  Aanava means fine, minute and exceeding smallness.  Mala means dirt, dust, filth and impurity.  Your Divine Nature is veiled by a layer of thinking that you are finite, minute and small.  That means when you feel this way, you are so close to your own Divinity.  There is just a thin layer covering your true nature.  While it is just a thin layer, it’s a scary one.  It’s painful and overwhelming to feel this exceeding smallness.  

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And there are two more veils (malas) that cover your inherent Divinity.  The next mala is maayiiya mala. Maayiiya means “proceeding from maaya.”  Maaya is the delusion of seeing the world as being different from you.  It keeps you from perceiving that everyone and everything is the same one Divine Reality covered by the malas.  Because of maayiiya mala, you see it all as separate.  

The third veil is karma mala.  Karma means action.  This veil propels you into action.  There is nothing wrong with action.  However, karma mala propels you into thinking that you are your accomplishments.  You believe you are what you do.

The truth of your existence is that you are the one Divine Reality, full, complete, perfect and whole.  Your Divinity is covered by these three veils: feeling finite; feeling different/separate from everyone and everything; and feeling your worth is based on what you do.  While you are the one Divine Reality, yet entangled in veils, you feel yourself to be so much less.  This is the human condition.

The cure is Shaktipat.  Shaktipat is an initiation given by a Satguru.  She ignites your own inner power of upliftment and pierces aanava mala.  The veil is torn.  You can thus see and feel your own Divine Nature.  The torn veil of aanava mala will never fully conceal your Divinity again.  The tear is permanent.

That was my experience.  In the moment I received Shaktipat, I had a profound experience of knowing and being my own Divine Nature.  Then I went back to my life and to my mind, which clearly needed some reprogramming.  I couldn’t live in the Beingness and Knowingness of my own Divinity all the time.  Yet I always knew that I was more.  It wasn’t a mere remembering of my experience; it was an inner knowing that I was more.  

It was so painful.  I knew that I was more, but I wasn’t experiencing the more.  I remember sitting in my apartment a few months after receiving Shaktipat and wishing that I could go back to not-knowing.  And in that moment, I realized that I could never not know.  I might not experience my Divine Nature all the time, but I would never not know that I was more than what my mind told me.

That’s the incredible gift of Shaktipat.  It tears aanava mala and gives you access to your own Divine Nature forever.  Once aanava mala is pierced and you know your own Divinity, then maayiiya mala can longer bind you.  You know that everyone and everything else is also made from the same Divine Reality.  It’s a huge masquerade party, everyone and everything seemingly separate from you – how fun!  

When you know your own Divinity, you continue to act in the world, but it does not define your worth.  Karma mala no longer limits you.  While you know that you are Divine, you take actions in the world simply because you care.  All of this, and so much more, comes from Shaktipat.

Once Shaktipat tears aanava mala, it is just a matter of time until the veil dissolves completely.  Then you live in the Knowingness of your own Divinity all the time.  It’s the promise that is described in Gurudevi Nirmalananda’s name.  Nirmala means without malas.  Gurudevi is free from the limitations of the three malas.  She always knows her own Divinity and sees it in everyone and everything.

You too can live in that freedom once you’ve received Shaktipat.  It’s just a matter of time.  And you control the timing.  If you do the practices that Gurudevi Nirmalananda did, and tells us to do, then you’ll get there.  If you do more of the practices, you’ll get there sooner.  It’s that simple.  And it’s guaranteed.  

You have the ultimate cure to the feeling of “I am imperfect” right here in America.  Come get Shaktipat and do the practices so you will know that you are perfect, whole, full and complete.

God Makers

By Swami Shrutananda

There are pastry makers, ones who are skilled in making bread.  There are peace makers, ones who bring about peace.  Also, there are God makers, ones who reveal your own God-ness, your own Divinity, to you. 

You, an ordinary human being, can be transmuted into God.  This is described as changing ordinary metal into gold.  In the Middle Ages, the so-called “philosopher’s stone” was the most sought-after substance in the world of alchemy.  Through it, alchemists could reach the legendary goal of turning ordinary metals, particularly lead, into gold.

drawing from alchemy text en.wikipedia.org

However, alchemy was a spiritual path, a Kundalini path, which predated medieval times.  It originated in India during the pre-Vedic times more than 20,000 years ago.  The teachings were written in a code language.  The veiled meaning was transforming the human being into the Divine, God.  The metal that was to be transformed was the human being — your body, mind and heart.

During a Weekend Workshop, I gave a talk on “You are Divine.”  As I was giving the teachings, a student kept interrupting and asking questions.  She was being a little aggressive, and other students were becoming uncomfortable.  Plus, they could not hear the teachings I was trying to give them. 

More and more frustrated, the vocal student finally blurted out, “Are you trying to tell me that I am Divine?!”  I said, “Yes!”  Then she sat quietly and listened through the rest of the talk.  Something shifted inside her.  What you believe will determine who you will become. 

You have all experienced your God-ness.  This is certainly true if you’ve received Shaktipat.  Yet it is also true if you have not.  Watching a sunset, upon first seeing a loved one, or listening to your favorite piece of music — any of these open your experience of God:

Unfortunately, most people have only a momentary experience.  Mysticism is about the difference between experiencing God momentarily compared to always knowing that you are God.  And yoga is pure mysticism. 

— Gurudevi Nirmalananda [1]

In yoga, through the Grace of the Guru, you come to live in this knowing you are God.  Who is the Guru? 

The texts are clear: the Guru is God.  So are you, but you don’t know it all the time, not yet anyway. How do you understand someone who lives in the knowing, who settles deep within — into being the Self and never loses it?  What would you want to call that person?  Even from ancient times, they have been called the “God-men of India,” tracing back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians as well as those from India.

— Swami Nirmalananda [2]

The Guru lives in the knowing of their own God-ness.  The  Guru’s job is to make you into Himself — into that which the Guru has already become.  That is God.  This process unfolds from the inside out.

In Kashmiri Shaivism, the pivotal point is whether or not the Guru can give Shaktipat.  A Shaktipat Guru is a God maker.  God makers are very rare.  Swami Nirmalananda is such a Guru.  When you receive Shaktipat, your Kundalini is awakened.  Kundalini is the energy of revelation, ready to flow up your spine from tail to top. 

This profound movement clears away all that gets in the way of knowing you are God.  Your thoughts, the way you use your mind, your memories and feelings, along with your physical body are transmuted.  Through Kundalini, you are uplifted and purified.  Through this transformation you come to know you are God, you are the Self.

Our meditation system comes from a lineage of God makers.  They support you in your meditations, so you experience the depths of your own being, your own Self.  I had a very tangible experience of this in meditation.  As usual, I began meditation by repeating the mantra given to me by my Guru.  I was carried deep within by the mantra. 

Nityananda of Ganeshpuri

Then I saw a God maker.  It was Nityananda, another Guru from this lineage.  He was walking on a dirt path away from me, walking through the mist. 

I kept repeating mantra and got on the dirt path to follow him.  I wanted to go where he was going.  I knew where he was leading me, to my own God-ness, my own Divinity, my own Self. 

As I followed him, I was propelled even deeper within.  I was immersed so deep within that I couldn’t remain conscious at that level of my being.  When I surfaced from that deep plunge within, and I opened my eyes I felt more like my Self.  I was sitting in timeless space, settled and expanded at the same time. 

Once you have received Shaktipat, your most important practice is meditation.  Meditate every day.  Every meditation is alchemy — transmuting, transforming you. 

When do you become God?  You are in charge.  Do more yoga.


[1] Enlightenment in the Midst of Life, Lesson #1: Stepping Into Life (Downingtown PA, Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram, Year-Long Programme 2018)

[2] Guru & Self, Lesson #5:  Guru is God (Downingtown PA, Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram, Year-Long Programme 2014)

Krishna Avatar Part 29

By Nirooshitha Sethuram

Graphics by Sheralee (Shambhavi) Hancherow

Only a few who lived in the Khandava forest escaped the fire.  Among them were the four Saranga birds. They lived with their mother bird, Jarita.  Her husband had left her for another female bird.  The male bird was a sage named Mandapala.  He had to come back from the heavens to fulfill the karma of having children in order to stay in the heavens.  He had to experience a married life and have offspring, therefore he had to be born again.  Eager to return to the heavens, he chose to be born as a Saranga bird so that he could have many children and complete his karma within a short time.  Once the eggs were laid by Jarita, even before his offspring were born, he left her for another female named Lapita.  

Jarita’s four nestlings
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When the fire began the four nestlings panicked at first.  The older nestling urged their mother to leave them so she could save herself from the fire and maybe have more children. The elder nestling said, “Mother, if you are killed, we will not have any children for our family.  Further we will not have anyone to look after us.  Do what is right to protect our race without being influenced by affection only to us, which would be the destruction for all of us.”  Jarita was taken by the wise advice from the older nestling.  Taking the advice, she decided to protect the nestlings in the best possible way she could.  She was putting them into the hollow of a tree so she could seal its mouth with mud before flying to safety.  But the nestlings refused. Unable to convince them, the mother flew away, leaving them in God’s hands. 

The nestlings prayed to Agni, the God of fire, not to harm them by singing his praise.  Agni was pleased with their prayers and kept them safe from his flames.  They survived the fire.  When Jarita returned to check on them, she was so pleased to see them alive and well.  In the meantime, Mandapala, the male bird who became worried about his offspring, wanted to return to see them.  This made Lapita, the bird he had left his family for, furious.  Ignoring her, Mandapala flew back to the forest and found his offspring unharmed and safe with their mother Jarita, thus realizing that he was not needed anymore. 

New city of Indraprastha
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The splendid new city of Indraprastha sprung up from the ashes, where once Khandavaprastha stood, by the grace of Krishna and the great work of the Divine architect Vishwakarma.  Along with Krishna, the Pandavas were delighted to see the city being built in such a short time.  Indraprastha was glittering with glamour.  Soon they performed the inauguration ceremony of the palace by doing the relevant rituals and pujas.  The five Pandavas began living in the magnificent palace.  It took them a while to get familiar with the work of the Deva architect Vishwakarma and the illusion artist, the Asuric architect Mayasura.  Just figuring out where the floors, walls, doors, windows and water ponds were was a lot to learn.  The palace was mind boggling.  The city of Indraprastha soon excelled the grandness of Hastinapura. 

Sage Narada visits the Pandavas
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The Pandavas ruled Indraprastha with their cousin Krishna as their advisor and guide.  One day Sage Narada came to visit the Pandavas.  He had come with a purpose, as always, this time to explain that they must not fight over Draupadi, with her being the common bride.  So he told them a story.  The story was about Sunda and Upasunda, the two powerful demons who loved each other dearly.  To get the boon of unconquerable power they went to the Vindhya mountain range to perform severe penance.  Delighted with their penance, Brahma appeared and asked what they wanted. The brothers knew what exactly they wanted.  They asked for strength, mastery over all weapons, ability to create illusions, take any form and, of course, immortality.  Brahma gave them everything except immortality.   And he told them to ask for something else instead of immortality.  They thought for a while and asked that they could be killed only by each other, as they were very sure of their friendship.  As requested, the boon was granted by Brahma.  

The undefeatable brothers not only defeated the mighty Devas, but also terrorized all three words.  The Devas devised a plan, sending a beautiful maiden Tilottama to disrupt the friendship.  She tempted the brothers and made them fall in love with her.  Sunda and Upasunda fought over her ferociously and killed each other.  After hearing the story from Sage Narada, the Pandavas decided that each one would spend a month with Draupadi while none of the other brothers would intrude during that time frame.  If any of them violated the arrangement that person would willingly go into exile for 12 years. 

One day a brahmin came weeping intensely to the palace. He complained that his cows had been stolen by thieves. He came seeking help from King Yudhishtra for the restoration of his cows. Arjuna consoled the brahmin, promising that his cows would soon be returned to him. Arjuna decided to take matters into his hands and to go after the thieves to help the brahmin. But he realized he had left his bow and arrows in Draupadi’s bed chamber. It was his older brother Yudhishthira’s turn to be with Draupadi. 

Arjuna now had to make a decision. He didn’t want the brahmin to curse his brother, the king, due to not getting help.  But on the other hand, he had to violate the arrangement with his brothers by going to Draupadi’s chamber when he is not supposed to go there.  Arjuna was caught in a dilemma. Finally, he chose to violate the agreement and prepared to be exiled in order to restore the brahmin’s cows. Arjuna chose to put his duty first, knowing that it would cost him banishment so he went into Draupadi’s chamber to get his bow and arrows. After restoring the brahmin’s cows, Arjuna went directly to his brother. After offering his respects, he conveyed his guilt of violating the arrangement and his plan to go into exile.  He humbly sought Yudhishthira’s permission to go into exile. 

Yudhishthira
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After listening to Arjuna, Yudhishthira said, “Dear brother, you have not committed any violation at all.  It would have been a violation only if you would have entered the palace for a personal reason. What you did was for a noble cause to perform a duty which was in fact mine. As you did this to protect your king and his subjects, I and my queen will not punish you.” But Arjuna has already made up his mind about exile. He reminded Yudhishthira that it was his teaching that one should not be dishonest at any circumstances.  So, he begged for his brother’s permission to atone his sins. Hearing this Yudhishthira didn’t have any other choice other than to allow Arjuna to go into exile.

A few admirers of Arjuna accompanied him to the forest. After journeying through dense forests and crossing several streams they finally arrived at the banks of the river Ganga. Arjuna spent most of his time during this exile in listening to religious discourses by sitting with scholarly brahmins and sages.  Living a peaceful life, he was becoming more and more virtuous.  All this made his face glow with the divine light.

One day a beautiful maiden, who happened to see him while performing a yaj~na, fell in love with him. His glowing face and muscular body made her madly in love with him so she made up her mind to marry him. This damsel is named Ulupi, the daughter of the Naga King Kauravya of the under waters of Ganga. The next day, when Arjuna went into the river for a ritual bath, the Naga princess Ulupi gripped him and pulled him into the river, taking him straight to her underwater kingdom, the abode of King Kauravya her father. Taken by her act Arjuna inquired about Ulupi. She revealed her lineage and admitted her love and desire to be his wife. 

Ulupi
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At first Arjuna declined her proposal, mentioning his celibacy on his pilgrimage. But he was convinced by Ulupi’s argument saying that his celibacy was limited only to Draupadi.  Arjuna accepted her proposal and agreed to marry her. A son named Iravan was born to them.  Arjuna then expressed his desire to go back to his companions.  Pleased by Arjuna, Ulupi granted him a boon that from that point forward all water creatures would obey and protect him.  He would remain unconquerable under water. 

Arjuna returned to the shore and told his companions all about Ulupi and the Naga Kingdom. The rest of the group then returned home, leaving Arjuna to continue his journey alone as he wished.

Awakening

By Swami Samvidaananda

I love spring.  Crocuses and daffodils bloom in the yard.  The trees’ limbs unfurl fresh new leaves and blossoms. Spring feels like a celebration of life.  Every day there are new signs of life.  Every day feels fresh and new.  I treasure that feeling.  I used to rely on the newborn beauty of spring to trigger it for me.

That changed when I found yoga.  Yoga says the entrancing newness of spring is always available to you.  It’s a quality of your Divine Essence.  This is described in a yogic text called the Shiva Sutras:

iccha-shaktir uma-kumari

In every moment, the yogi enjoys the newness of life, the gift of the Goddess. — Shiva Sutras 1.13

Uma-Kumari is the Goddess.  She is the energy that births the universe into existence.  She existed before time began, and she exists now, creating every moment anew.  She uses her Divine will, iccha-shakti, to blossom forth the world and everything that exists.  Everything that exists is made from her own existence, out of pure delight.  Including you.  You are an expression of the Goddess.  

You are made of her Divinity.  Except she and you are not two.  There’s only One.  One Divine Reality, called Goddess, called God, called Self.  Your Self.  You are the One Divine Reality.  Except you don’t know your Divinity, most of the time.  You get glimpses, like the way springtime gives me a fleeting glimpse of the glorious ever-newness of life.

So how does the yogi enjoy the newness of life in every moment?  This gift of the Goddess comes from another gift.  It’s the mystical initiation called Shaktipat.  Shaktipat awakens within you the knowing of your own Divinity.  That capacity to know has been lying dormant within you.  It is like a seed buried in the soil, awaiting spring.  My teacher, Gurudevi Nirmalananda, is a Shaktipat Guru.  She is a yoga master who has the capacity to spark awake your inner knowing.  When you receive this awakening, you’ll know your Self: immortal, ever-existent, ever-new. 

You probably won’t know all the time, right away.  A rare few do.  For the rest of us, we have our part to play.  Meditation is your most important practice.  The meditation in this lineage is called Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation.  Every time you meditate, you clear away more of the blockages that keep you from living your Divinity.  It’s like your seed has been awakened and is doing its best to grow.  But the soil is a little rocky.  Meditation clears away the mental and emotional pebbles and rocks that get in your way.

And day by day, meditation by meditation, the energy of your Divinity arises within you.  It’s the source of your aliveness, your joy and your happiness.  It’s the source of life itself.  So is it any surprise that you will become more fully alive, more fully present, more fully engaged in your life?  Whether the flowers are blooming and the birds are singing, or it’s a frigid winter day.  Or it’s a hurricane!  You’ll embrace it all, celebrating every Divine moment.  This is your destiny.  Gurudevi will give you Shaktipat if you want her to.  Are you ready?

Everything Is Inside

By Swami Satrupananda


You can find everything you ever wanted by looking inside.  That’s a bold statement.  It’s true because the source of everything is inside of you.  Another even bolder statement. The yogic sages of India have been saying this for thousands of years.  

In searching for a complete understanding of the universe, Stephen Hawking turned to look within.  At age 21, he was diagnosed with ALS and given two years to live.  He lived another 55 years and made significant contributions to theoretical physics and cosmology.  

Hawking said, “Although I cannot move and I have to speak through a computer, in my mind I am free.  I have spent my life travelling across the universe, inside my mind.”  He explored the universe inside his mind.  He didn’t travel across the universe to measure, feel and see blackholes on the outside.  He explored them within himself.  That’s where knowledge comes from, the inside.

I had a tangible experience of this in meditation.  I was settled deep inside.  Then an insight arose, answering one of the unanswered questions in my dissertation.  After my meditation session, I contemplated this, surprised that this insight had come.  I had not been thinking about my graduate research for over eight years.  Yet here was new knowledge.  And in that moment, I realized that all knowledge, all answers, come from within.  The yogic sages say all knowledge can be found within.  

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The source of knowledge is within.  The source of everything is within you.  When I first heard this teaching, my scientific mind struggled: “How can the universe be within me; it is so large?”  Yet the scientists now describe that the whole universe banged from a single point called a singularity.  This point contained the mass of the whole universe in a space that is 0” by 0” by 0”.  In these conditions, space and time don’t function like we are used to.  Scientist don’t yet have the math or tools to understand this.  But yogis do.

The yogic sages describe how the universe came from a singularity — called “bindu” in Sanskrit.  In explaining the teachings from the sages, Gurudevi says:

In meditation, you see the bindu inside… You find it inside because the source of the universe is also the source of your own being.

The bindu within you is the source of the universe.  This bindu is the source of your own being.  That same bindu is in me and everyone else.  There is only one source here, which you find by looking within.  You don’t have to go searching in blackholes or far away galaxies.  You find the source of everything inside.  Everything is inside. 

Though everything is inside, you don’t yet have access to it.  Your mind keeps you distracted by turning your attention outward.  With your attention turned outward, you see the world as separate from you.  You feel incomplete and empty.  This drives you to go searching for something to fill you up.  You go looking for more external distractions.

There’s nothing wrong with the external world.  The only problem is that you allow yourself to be distracted by it.  In a Shaktipat tradition, the distractions melt away with time and practice.  The more you do the yoga practices, the more you experience of your own Self.  The more you discover of your own Self, the less external things distract you.

I had a tangible experience of this process a few years ago.  I was having a difficult day.  My mind was keeping me very distracted by external things.  I felt incomplete on the inside.  Driving home, I decided I was going to remedy my challenging day with a delicious meal.  When I got home, I made mac and cheese, adding extra cheese for good measure.  I took the first bite and was so disappointed.  While the meal was delicious, I knew the food would not fulfill me.  I knew that only knowing my own Self would address my feeling of incompleteness.  And since that moment, food never distracted me like it used to.

And that’s why this blog began with my bold statement that everything you ever wanted is inside.  The mac and cheese that I wanted was not about the food.  It was about changing how I felt on the inside.  With everything you’ve ever wanted, the reason you wanted it was in order to feel different — on the inside.  You’ll only feel complete and full on the inside when you know who you truly are.  Do more yoga.  Then you’ll get everything you ever truly wanted — your own Self. 

Krishna Avatar Part 28

By Nirooshitha Sethuram

The Pandavas, with their new bride Draupadi and their mother Kunti, entered the fully decorated royal kingdom of Hastinapura. Guru Drona, Kripacharya, Vikarna and other dignitaries came to receive them at the gate.  A very grand welcome was accorded to the Princes, their bride and Kunti by the citizens of Hastinapura.  Their joy over this event was boundless.  They were not only happy to see them alive but also delighted to see their new beautiful bride.  They always saw Yudhishthira as an image of their old king Pandu, who was famous for his bravery and justice. They had full faith in Yudhishthira and believed he was to rule the kingdom of Hastinapura, reviving it to its old glory. 

The Pandavas got blessings from their grandsire Bhishma, the Gurus and King Dhritarashtra.  Gandhari’s joy knew no bounds. She hugged Kunti with utter delight, but inside her heart was aching for what her son Duryodhana had done to them. 

Yudhishthira is crowned
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As promised, half of the kingdom was ready to be given to the Pandavas. First and foremost, the rituals to crown Yudhishthira as a King started.  Dhritarashtra crowned Yudhishthira in a grand ceremony and gave his blessings to rule half of the Kingdom of Hastinapura. 

He addressed Yudhishthira, “Dear son, your father and my beloved brother Pandu developed this kingdom and ruled it with honor.  He was popular, not only among the citizens of our kingdom, but also among the neighboring kingdoms.  I bless you to do the same.  My brother always followed my commands with utter respect.  I would like you to love me the way he loved and respected me.  You are very wise and tolerant. Unfortunately, my son’s heart is filled with pride and ego.  Pandu’s untimely death and my makeshift possession of the kingdom has incited Duryodhana to develop a longing to be the next ruler of Hastinapura. Due to this, I am dividing the kingdom into two, to prevent a war between the brothers, so that there will be peace among all of you. “I have chosen Khandavaprastha as the capital for your kingdom.  You can start ruling your half of the kingdom from Khandavaprastha. Our great ancestors Pururavasu, Nakusan and Yayati ruled the whole kingdom from that city. It is our oldest capital.  There is a lot be done there.  You may have to build it back from scratch. I give my best blessings for you to reconstruct and restore Khandavaprastha, to bring back its glory. I am sure that you will accept this arrangement in the interest of our Kuru dynasty.”  

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Dhritarashtra, by giving this sweet talk, gave Pandavas a barren land which had been unused for centuries. Most of its ruins were turned into a forest.  It was overrun by wild animals and demons. Hearing this, Yudhishthira’s brothers and all who were present were horrified.  But Yudhishthira, modest and accommodating as always, gave his acceptance to Dhritarashtra’s proposal.  The satisfaction he showed to all who were present at the royal court was well received.  Yudhishthira was praised by the elders for his compliant nature and generosity, and he was showered with blessings.

In due time they proceeded towards Khandavaprastha, followed by some of the loyal citizens of Hastinapura.  After taking Krishna’s advice, Yudhishthira got enough cattle, craftsmen and gold to establish a city. Krishna and Arjuna led the journey.  They started early in order to clear the forest.  When they arrived, they were met by the God of fire, Agni, who looked very ill.  He requested help from both of them, begging them to free him from his misery.

Agni was suffering because of the consumption of too much ghee (clarified butter).  This was due to King Svetaki’s yaj~na, the sacrificial fire which he did nonstop for twelve years in order to please Lord Shiva, so that he could go to heaven.  While Svetaki succeeded in his sacrificial fire, Agni was left with all that ghee, which was making him very sick due to indigestion.  He was looking for something to burn, so to restore his strength. Thus he decided to burn the forest in Khandavaprastha.  But he had not been successful in doing it, so he sought help from Lord Brahma.  Lord Brahma advised Agni to get the help from Krishna and Arjuna who were on their way to the very same place. 

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The reason why Agni couldn’t burn the forest was that it was the home to a serpent king named Takshaka, who ruled the Nagas, the snakes.  Takshaka was very devoted to Indra, the King of the Devas, also being a very close friend of his.  Takshaka and his clan were well protected by the grace of Indra.  In addition, Takshaka was a good friend of the Asuric architect Mayasura.  With the help of Mayasura he made the forest into a magical one.  Every time Agni tried to consume the forest with his flames, Indra would bring a shower of rain and put it out.  

Hearing this Krishna and Arjuna decided to help Agni.  In the meantime, Yudhishthira, along with the other brothers and Draupadi, as well as all who accompanied them from Hastinapura, arrived at Khandavaprastha.  They realized that the forest was already taken by Takshaka and the Nagas.

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Takshaka was furious to see humans trying to occupy the only home he had ever known.  He started attacking the Pandavas and the people who followed them to Khandavaprastha.  Mayasura warned Takshaka not to fight the Pandavas, for he was aware of their bravery.  Despite the advice from his friend, Takshaka went all in for a mighty war with the Pandavas. The Nagas started poisoning everyone who they came across. 

Yudhishthira was very upset and tried to talk to Takshaka explaining that they are not there to chase them away, but they could live in harmony together in Khandavaprastha. His words failed to get through the deaf ears of Takshaka.  Arjuna decided to put an end to the quarrel and started attacking Takshaka. Wounded, Takshska went back to the thick magical forest and started praying to Indra, seeking help from him. 

To fulfill the promise that Krishna and himself made to Agni, Arjuna used his bow & arrow to invoke Agni so he could consume the magical forest of Takshaka.  In the fire, the wife of Takshaka burned to death.  Takshaka and his son Ashvasena escaped with some of their clan.  Indra, being the friend of Takshaka, got angry about the whole ordeal and came to fight Arjuna directly. 

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A fierce fight started between the two of them.  Indra, being the king of the Devas, used mighty weapons against Arjuna.  But Arjuna was actually Indra’s son, by the boon he had given to Kunti.  Not having any other choice, Arjuna was compelled to fight with the very person who brought him to life.  The other four Pandava brothers stood there a bit frightened about the fight and wondered about its outcome.  Krishna silently stood there, witnessing it all with a smile.

Arjuna was carefully choosing arrows which would defend him against Indra’s weapons.  That provoked Indra’s anger.  As a last resort, Indra used his ultimate weapon, Vajrayudha, the thunderbolt.  Seeing this, the Pandava brothers were frozen in place.  Draupadi was begging Indra to withdraw his Vajrayudha before it attacked Arjuna.  Arjuna respectfully answered with the best arrow from his quiver.  The Vajrayudha, with its thundering noise advanced towards Arjuna with immense speed.  While everyone watching this, trembling in fear, all of sudden the Vajrayudha was suspended in midair.  To everyone’s surprise, it was Krishna’s Sudarshana chakra that caused this suspension. Krishna called out to Indra to withdraw his weapon. Indra couldn’t refuse Krishna’s request and stopped the fight with Arjuna. 

Arjuna fell to his knees apologizing to Indra and asked for forgiveness for taking up arms against him, his own father.  Yudhishthira came forward and explained his plan to rule Khandavaprastha along with Nagas with peace, and that he doesn’t have any intention to chase them away.  Indra was very happy hearing this and blessed Arjuna and his brothers.  

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Indra asked Arjuna what he would want from Indra. Per Krishna’s advice Arjuna asked Indra to lend Vishwakarma, the divine architect, to build the kingdom and revive the city of Khandavaprastha.  Indra immediately called upon Vishwakarma, commanding him to build a beautiful city for the Pandavas.  The Pandavas thanked Indra wholeheartedly and promised him that they would name the new built capital city Indraprastha, in honor of Indra. 

Seeing all this, the Nagas slowly started to emerge from the forest and came towards Yudhishthira and the Pandavas. Yudhishthira welcomed them with an open heart.  The Nagas pulled back the poison they had rendered against the people.  Among the demons who came out of the forest was Mayasura.  Krishna was sure to kill him, therefore the asura sought protection from Arjuna. 

Agni was free to consume the forest without any disturbances. Once Agni’s fire ceased, Mayasura thanked Arjuna and agreed to prepare a beautiful assembly hall for the court of Yudhishthira in the new city.  He gave Bhima a very heavy mace.   To Arjuna he presented Devadatta, a conch whose sound would create terror in the hearts of warriors at any war.

Agni had finally gotten his strength back. He was so grateful and happy for Arjuna’s help that he rewarded Arjuna with a bow called Gandiva, along with an inexhaustible supply of arrows, due to the help of Varuna, the God of sea. Arjuna humbly accepted these gifts from Agni.  The city of Indraprastha sprung from the ashes.