Monthly Archives: April 2015

Garuda

Recently my son presented a small paper on Garuda. Following is a copy of it. Needless to say we learned a lot.

Garuda ia Vishnu’s divine vehicle. Garuda is a giant eagle, having a human body and senses and bird-like forehead, wings, beak and nails. He wears a crown on his head like his master, Vishnu.

Garuda’s father is the sage Kashyapa and his mother is Vinatha. Once his mother and his step mother had an argument in which his mother lost. As a punishment his step mother Kadru made his mother Vinatha her servant. This made Garuda very angry. But he very humbly asked his step mother how he could he get his mother back.

Kadru replied that he could have his mother back if he brought nectar from the heavens. Hearing this Garuda immediately left for Amravathi, the place where Indra lives. Indra’s armies of Gods tried to stop Garuda but he defeated them. There were other divine forces also which tried to stop him from reaching the divine well holding the nectar or amrita. But he defeated them all. He brought the nectar with him to his step-mother, Kadru but without handing over the nectar, got his mother, Vinata, released. Vishnu had noticed whatever that happened and was impressed by Garuda’s honesty.  Garuda had not once touched the nectar that he was carrying for so long. Vishnu requested Garuda to become his vahana or vehicle, to which Garuda agreed but put  two conditions. One that he be held higher to Vishnu and second that he will never die.

Vishnu granted his two wishes. Vishnu placed Garuda atop his flagstaff to fulfill his wish of being placed higher than Vishnu. Thus every Vishnu temple has such a Garudadhvaja in front. Garuda works as the carrier of the Lord; therefore he is considered the transcendental prince of all carriers.

After this in many of the Lord’s pastimes, Garuda has been his companion

He flew with the Lord where Gajendra was offering his prayers.

He was with him when the Lord along with Satyabhama fought Narkasura

It is said that the two wings of Garuda, who carry the Lord everywhere, are two divisions of the Sama Veda known as brhat and rathantara.

In one of his pastimes, the Lord very easily lifted Mandara Mountain with one hand and placed it on the back of Garuda. The Lord sat on the mountain and was carried to the by Garuda, who placed the mountain in the middle of the sea.

There is a small story about a sparrow and Garuda. A sparrow laid her eggs on the shore of the ocean, but the big ocean carried away the eggs on its waves. The sparrow became very upset and asked the ocean to return her eggs. The ocean did not even consider her appeal. So the sparrow decided to dry up the ocean. She began to pick out the water in her small beak, and everyone laughed at her. The news of her activity spread, and at last Garuda heard it. He became compassionate toward his small sister bird, and so he came to see the sparrow. Garuda was very pleased by the determination of the small sparrow, and he promised to help. Thus Garuda at once asked the ocean to return her eggs or else he would himself take up the work of the sparrow. The ocean was frightened at this, and returned the eggs. Thus the sparrow became happy by the grace of Garuda.

Thus as we can see Garuda was very mighty but he was equally a humble and a kind devotee who was always eager to serve the Lord

 

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The inevitable truth

A cousin’s wife expired yesterday and it devastated me. A young woman having a boy just seven years old….left her body. Isn’t it sad? All I want now is to run and hug that boy. Has he understood what has happened. Does he know his mother is never going to return. Who will he tell his secrets to? Whose hands will he search when he is afraid? These and many other questions rank my mind.

When Arjuna says that he cannot kill his cousins, his guru and his pitamah. Krishna explains about the eternality of the soul. How the body is just like a garment which is discarded when it is not fit to be used anymore.

dehino ‘smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
tatha dehantara-praptir
dhiras tatra na muhyati(B.G. 2.13)

As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.

I may have quoted this text tens of times and yet I am unable to accept that death is an integral part of life. The soul which gave consciousness to the body has passed away to a better place. And left behind a devastated family.

Last year when my father was diagnosed with a fatal illness. I had cried for days together. Even now when the phone rings at odd hours, I am frightened. What if it harbours bad news. It is as if I have become paranoid.

Attachments are so difficult…….

And yet the Bhagavad Gita says do your work without any attachments. And I get confused. Why am I still attached so much to the body. Why does the environment and the people around affect me so much. Yes I am better off now, I have some knowledge and yet death affects me.

I chastise myself….how can I be so sensitive. But then some time back I had heard a lecture. It was said that the purpose of spiritual knowledge is not to make the heart hard but to make it soft. A heart which can feel everyone’s pain. A vaishnav is para dukha dukhi. Usually we humans have the tendency to be happy at the others expense but not a vaishnav. A vaishnav rejoices with other’s joys and becomes sad with the other’s sadness.

So have I become a vaishnav, has my heart become soft, have I understood Bhagvad Gita properly….I still do not know. I just know a boy has become motherless and I weep for him.

 

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Strive on

Have you ever experienced failure? In your workplace or in your school/ college, have you experienced someone holding you back, not allowing you to move forward. Something akin to a slow-moving partner in a three-legged race? Maybe your boss didn’t allow you to make your own decisions or your friend saw to it that you don’t get a chance to present a paper.

Today I feel the same. No, nobody was a hindrance except me, myself.  Or rather this body of mine.

I was supposed to go to dress the deities but I couldn’t.  From few days I haven’t been well..the result of a dust storm which we had the last week. This morning when I got up I felt so faint that it was just not possible to go.

Nothing in  this world is as distressful as not being able to go for seva. Because it is that one thing which gives unparalleled joy.

And I couldn’t go!!

Which made me realise how fallen I was. So much more purification I have to go across till the time comes for me to return to my father.

This body is the worst enemy and the best friend. Best when it aids seva. Worst when it doesn’t.

But then is it the fault of the body? No. It is my fault. Wanting to enjoy this material world, keeping on committing mistakes taking on birth again and again,  today I am at this state of a diseased body and an uncontrolled mind.

I lament today of wasted time and lost opportunities. But can one bring back the lost time?

The only hope is today. Do whatever I can to my best and hope to please the Lord.

The Bhagvatam describes Vaikuntha as Param Padam or a place which has no material miseries. And this place as ‘padam padam yad vipadam’. So this material world is a place where there is danger at every step. So true.

So strive I have to. To cross this ocean of distress whether the body is weak or not…strive I have to.

 

 

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The True Connection

When friends and family first came to know about our interest in spirituality, we were rubbished off. The common excuses given were ….now is the time to enjoy, so why are  you into bhakti. The second was you are young for this. You can start when you are old and have nothing else to do.

People generally do not understand that how much fun we have in our devotional life. We sing, we dance , we chant and we have nice prasadam. There is a sense of fulfillment and a feeling of belongingness. What else do you need. Surrounded by my god brothers and sisters, I feel loved and secured. There is no competition but a common goal-Krishna. What else do we need?

In the Bhagvad Gita 8chapter fifth shloka Krishna says:

anta-kale ca mam eva
smaran muktva kalevaram
yah prayati sa mad-bhavam
yati nasty atra samsayah

TRANSLATION

And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.

So if I do not do any devotional activity throughout my life but at the end hope to utter Krishna, is it possible. It is said when the soul quits the body it is extremel painful lie some 10000 scorpions biting at the same time, so will I be able to utter HIS name. Yes, I can only if I have practised chanting his name, my whole life, can I utter his nime at the final moment. Doesn’t practice make us perfect?

In the third chapter of Bhagvad Gita 38th shloka, Krishna says

dhumenavriyate vahnir
yathadarso malena ca
yatholbenavrto garbhas
tatha tenedam avrtam

 TRANSLATION

As fire is covered by smoke, as a mirror is covered by dust, or as the embryo is covered by the womb, similarly, the living entity is covered by different degrees of this lust.

 

Though this shloka talks about different degrees of lust, it can be covered to our need for spiritual connection.

As an embryo surrounded by everything abominable our condition is so piteous that we actually pray that this is going to be the last birth and we will try our best to return to the original home.

So devotion is inherent in us. It is hidden just like the fire is hidden amidst the smoke. A little poke can rekindle it.

Our devotion is hidden just like the dust covers the mirror. And how do you bring devotion…in this yuga by chanting. Chanting can clean the dust of anarthas (unwanted elements) and reconnect you to the Lord.]

So chant and be happy and reconnect with your original father.

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