Sādhana, dīkṣha of a cātaka pakṣhi

It is grīṣhmam. Sūrya deva, the emporer of the sky, is shining brightly and showing his pratāpam. In the sky are going two infant cātaka pakṣhis, along with their mother. The mother is desparately searching for a shade. Who else, than the mother, will know the needs of the babies? Bhūmāta is showing her mātṛtvam to the cātaka birds, by allowing a huge aśvattha (vaṭa) vṛkṣham to tear her śarīram and grow. The aśvattha vṛkṣham is providing āśrayam to thousands of life forms. The holes of its root, are the homes of pipīlikas and mūṣhikas. The dry trunks, holed by age, are being used by many sarpas. The wide branches are having immense variety of pakṣhis. If a normal vṛkṣham can be an ādhāram for such a large number of jīvas, to how many more can an uttama, in whose buddhi are deeply rooted good character, lakṣhyam, sādhana and dīkṣha, be an ādhāram for!!

May be knowing the value of sāmājika saha jīvanam or may be out of pure daya towards the tired cātaka birds, two small pakṣhi brothers are telling to their mother "Ho! Ayyo! It looks like those cātaka birds do not have a house. How sad." The mother thought "āha! Now is when my janma became worthwhile. My mātṛtvam now has a meaning. All my years of efforts and pain are not waste. My kids are able to realize the difficulties of others and are trying to be compassionate." They happily invited the cātaka birds on to the shade of the aśvattha vṛkṣham.

It is like a new chance for life for the cātaka birds. But a sādhaka never deviates from his lakṣhyam and his niyamam. They asked the birds, who invited them, "Was this aśvattha vṛkṣham born with the first drops of svāti rain?". Kālagati, vidhi are never in one's control. The birds sadly replied "no". A dhīra never loses hope. Never blames adṛṣhṭam. He believes in God and his manobalam. The cātaka birds slowly carried on their fight for life and slowly disappeared in the bright sun light. Putting the finger on her nose, the mother pakṣhi, with her eye signal, told the brother birds to learn the character of dīkṣha from the cātaka birds.

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hamsaH padmavanaM samicchati yathā nīlāMbudaM cātakaH, kokaH kokanadapriyaM pratidinaM candraM cakorastathā |

ceto vāñchati māmakaM paśupate cinmārgamṛgyaM vibho, gaurīnātha bhavatpadābjayugalaM kaivalyasaukhyapradaM ||

Jagadguru, Ādi Śankarācārya describes the yearning of a devotee's heart for the lotus feet of Śiva, by means of beautiful similes. The Hamsa eats the stalk of the lotus flower. So it is always longing for a lake filled with lotuses. The cātaka bird drinks rain drops as they fall down from the clouds. It does not drink water in any other form. The cakravāka pairs of birds are supposed to be separated from each other during the night and they are supposed to unite during the day. The cakravāka birds, therefore, long for the appearance of the sun. The cakora bird lives eating candra jyotsna. The devotee's heart longs for the lotus feet of Śiva which can be reached by the path of knowledge. Those lotus feet of Śiva bestow the bliss that is mokṣham.

Morals in the story:

1. The importance of pariśrama, dīkṣha, sādhana for achieving a particular lakṣhya are well displayed in the story. A person who has dīkṣha, if not now, sometime will achieve his lakṣhyam.
2. Parents will be happy with their santānam only when they do good deeds.
3. Nothing comes in the way of dhīras. They never loose their hope and progress towards their lakṣhyam.

Search Terms: Aadi Shankara-acharya, Chaataka, Chakora pakshi

Published in: on June 7, 2006 at 5:10 pm  Comments (2)  

Nachiketa’s Pitruvaakya paripaalana

Once upon a time there lived a braahmana named Vajashrava (Uddaalaka), who wished to accumulate punyam by performing a great yagnyam. The yagnyam was duly performed, but when the time for the daanams came, Vajashrava kept all the healthy cows for himself and gave away only those that were old and infirm. His son, Nachiketa, who was observing this, became very sad. He wanted his father to get the full phalitham for the yagnyam. He knew from shaastras that one must always give away things that are good, which will help others and the ones most liked by the donor. He went to his father and with great humility said thus: “O Father! Why are you donating only old cows that cannot give milk and cannot help the daana-grahitas? As you know, such an act is a great paapam. Your intent was to accumulate punyam. These gifts will have the opposite effect. Please donate your best of the cows”.

Vajashrava became angry. He said, “Son, You are not yet of an age when you can understand the ways of the world. If I donate all our good cattle, how will we live?” Nachiketa was silent for a while, for he had been brought up to give respect to his parents and elders. At last he said to his father, “O Father! The shaastras say that one’s child is the greatest wealth for him, hence give away me to somebody in order to fulfill the daanams in the yagnyam”. Vajashrava, who was busy with the yagnyam did not pay any attention to his son and on being repeatedly questioned by Nachiketa, out of sheer exasperation, Vajashrava shouted: “I hereby gift you to Yama”.

Nachiketa immediately started for Yamaloka, in order to make his father’s words true. He crossed the Vaitarani nadi, which even great aatmas who did a lot of punya also, find it difficult to cross! He reaches the dwaaras of Yamaloka and on knowing that Yamadharmaraaja was not in Yamaloka then, waited patiently for his arrival. The small boy waited near the dwaaram for three days without any food and water. Yamadharmaraaja returned on the fourth day and saw little Nachiketa at his doorstep. He felt pained for keeping an Atithi, that too a braahmana and that too a baalaka waiting without welcoming him, without food and water. Obviously Yamadharmaraaja knew that it was a great paapam not to welcome an atithi at the doorstep. Along with His wife, Yami, He rushed to serve Nachiketa. One went to fetch water and the other brought an aasanam for him. Yamadharmaraaja still did not feel completely satisfied in serving him. So he told Nachiketa, “Dear child, I have offended you by keeping you waiting for three days. To wash my paapam I request you to ask for three varaas”.

Nachiketa was very happy to recieve varaas from non other than the Yamadharmaraaja. Nachiketa said “My first wish is, when I return home may my father’s anger go away, may he conquer anger and always have prashaantata”. Yamadharmaraaja was very happy with nachiketa for his self-less wish. Nachiketa said “my second wish is to grant me the vignyaanam and my third and last wish is to grant me Aatmagnyaanam”. Yama granted the first two boons immediately and tried to convince Nachiketa to give up his third wish. Only a deserved person must be taught Aatmagnyaanam and hence Yamadharmaraaja tested Nachiketa by offering him gold, pearls, coins, horses elephants and even the happiness of Swarga instead. “No, I do not wish for anything else,” replied Nachiketa firmly. Finally, Yama granted him the third boon too, and Nachiketa was enlightened with the Aatmagnyaanam”.

Morals in the Story:

  1. Pitruvaakya paalanam is the foremost duty of every child. This is well displayed by Nachiketa. Even though he had to face difficulties because of it, in the end he learnt the Aatmagnyaanam, which is difficult for even great sages to obtain.
  2. The shaastra gnyaanam of Nachiketa helped him talk wisely both with his father and Yamadharmaraaja.
  3. Dhiraas never give up (see Bhagiratha’s story), they never move away from the goal. This quality is displayed by Nachiketa both while travelling to Yamaloka and being firm during Yamadharmaraaja’s test before giving Aatmagnyaanam.
  4. The importance of Atithi seva is well illustrated by Yamadharmaraaja.
  5. Always we must give away things we like, which are good and not the ones we hate and are useless (see Rantideva’s story too).
Published in: on June 2, 2006 at 6:13 pm  Comments (18)  

Satyameva Jayate

No collection of moral stories will be complete without the mention of Satya Harishcandra. His story is well known and praised by everyone. Truth is the most fundamental moral to be learnt by everyone and it is alone enough to reach God. The following is a small incident showing the satya vaak paripaalanam of Harishchandra:

When travelling in the forest, with his family and Nakshatraka to the great kaashi kshetram, Harishchandra sees un-controllable Daavaagni (forest fire) sorrounding them. They donot understand the reason for it and Nakshatraka worries a lot, not knowing any way of getting out of the fire. Harishchandra worries for a different reason. He was not worried for loosing his life, but if he dies in the agni, then he will not be able to return the debt to Vishwaamitra maharshi and thus will not be able to keep up his word.

Seeing this, Agnideva (sent by Vishwaamitra) tells them a way to cross the fire safely. He says anyone who says that his name is not his own name, can safely walk through him. Immediately Nakshatraka, to attract them to say a lie, says I name is not Nakshatraka and walks into the fires. Nothing happens to him and he walks back suggesting Harishchandra and his family to try out the same. Obviously Harishchandra will not say a lie, but gets worried since he will be not be able to repay Vishwaamitra maharshi. Seeing the worry of her husband, Chandramati devi does a stotram to agni saying that if she were a pativrata, then the agni must stop. Immediately the huge daavaagni vanishes and they cross the forest safely.

The whole episode of Vishwaamitra maharshi testing Harishchandra starts with a conversion at Indra Sabha: A discussion will be raised to zero-in on a vratam which anyone whether rich or poor, whether king or servant, kid or elder, male or female can follow, exists or not. Vasishta maharshi suggests that satya vratam (speaking truth always) is there and tells that Harishchandra is a firm follower of it. Vasishta and Vishwaamitra both challenge each other, Vasishta saying "In the impossible event of Harishchandra uttering a lie I will leave sandhyaavandanaadi aahnikas, japa, tapas, remove yagnyopavita, become Bhrasta, have wine and behave in a way co-rishis will hate me, throw me out of there community and eventually goto naraka!". Vishwaanitra says "If Harishchandra stands my tests I will give half of my till now earned entire tapashshakti, make him rule the earth for many years and for 14 manvantaras will make him occupy the ardha-simhaasanam of Indra". Harishchandra in the end qualifies the tests of Vishwaamitra, enjoys all these bhogas and in the end with Lord Shiva's anugraham gets Moksham.

Morals in the Story:

  1. Let even death may came, one must never leave the path of truth.
  2. Though a person has to face temporary difficulties for following the path of truth, in the end always truth only wins.
  3. The power of pativrata is enormous. It seems the power of Agni or howmuch ever tapashshakti cannot equal that of a pativrata. This is evident by the power of Chandramati devi.
  4. निन्दन्तु नीतिनिपुणाः यदि वा स्तुवन्तु
    लक्ष्मीः समाविशतु गच्छतु वा यथेष्टम्।
    अद्यैव वा मरणमस्तु युगान्तरे वा
    न्याय्यात्पथः प्रविचलन्ति पदं न धीराः॥
    — भर्तृहरेः नीतिशतकम्
    nindantu nītinipuṇāḥ yadi vā stuvantu
    lakṣmīḥ āgacchatu gacchatu vā yatheṣṭam|
    adyaiva maraṇamastu yugāantare vā
    nyāyyātpathaḥ pravicalanti padaṁ na dhīrāḥ||
    — bhartṛhareḥ nītiśatakam

    “May those proficient in law praise or decry;
    May the Goddess of Wealth come or go as she pleases;
    Let Death come today or at the end of the yuga;
    The resolute will not deviate from the path of righteousness!”

Published in: on May 19, 2006 at 5:12 pm  Comments (13)  

Hard work can do wonders

In Indian culture vairaagyam was always given ultimate importance. But careful, there is a very thin line that separates vairaagyam and laziness. In vairaagyam all karma is done but without expecting anything in return, without being involved in the materialistic aspects of karma. Bhagiratha, with his unparalleled effort to bring Ganga to earth, showed us how much effort a man can put in and as a result what wonders can be done.

On knowing that his ancestors (60000 Sagara Kumaras) will reach swarga only if the pure waters of Ganga flow through their ashes, from his mother, Bhagiratha immediately leaves to Himalayas to do tapas for Lord Brahma:

  1. After purifying himself in a pushkarini, it starts tapas with extra-ordinary concentration.
  2. Starts with padmaasana and in winter stood in the freezing waters of the lake with water up to chest!
  3. In Summer stands in the middle of burning pancha-agnis (four agnis + sun) and steadily stared at the sun with eyes wide open (all the while concentrating on Brahma deva)!!
  4. During the first few days, he had food only once a day. Later it was once in a few days. Then it became once in a month. After that, he just used to drink a little water and continue his ‘Tapas’. Finally the air was his only food!!!
  5. 1000 years passed….!!!!

Brahma, the creator of the worlds, on the requests of Gods to save them from the tremendous tapaagni of Bhagiratha, appears before him and blesses him with children and Ganga. However, Brahma deva suggests that none except Parama Shiva can take the force when Ganga falls onto earth, and if not with that force earth will be washed away…

Men are of three kinds:

  1. There are cowards, who do not begin their work at all, afraid that some trouble may arise midway.
  2. Those who begin but later give up the task, afraid of the difficulties that arise.
  3. Brave people who belong to a third group. They continue to work in spite of even an army of difficulties, and finally achieve the goal.

Bhagiratha belonged to this third category of brave men. He again began a severe ‘Tapas’ to please Lord Ishwara. With folded hands, and standing on one leg, he meditated on Lord iswara with the deepest concentration. So a whole year passed. Pleased with Bhagiratha’s devotion Lord ishwara takes the immense force of Ganga and controls her in his jataajutam. He completely stops her from flowing to teach her a lesson (she was a mischievous girl, proud of her strength!), but for Bhagiratha it was another difficulty… But he again with tapas pleases Lord Shiva to release Ganga down to earth. Ganga followed Bhagiratha shyly and slowly, like his daughter (Bhaagirathi). But she grew a little mischievous, though Shiva taught her a lesson once, when near Jahnu maharshi’s ashram. She wandered all over the Ashrama like a small girl and the entire place was filled with water. Disturbed from tapas by it, Jahnu maharshi in a single gulp swallows her entirely. And suddenly difficulties again for Bhagiratha. But it is not the first time for him, so immediately pleases Jahnu maharshi (Jaahnavi comes out of Jahnu maharshi’s ear) and finally sends his ancestors to higher worlds…..

(SEE THIS IMAGE)

(SEE THIS IMAGE)
Morals in the story:

  1. Karma must be done in massive quantity as Bhagiratha did, but selflessly…
  2. Brave people continue to work in spite of even an army of difficulties, and finally achieve their goal.
  3. Man can achieve wonders, once he puts in effort and dedication….
  4. One must never be proud of one’s strength or other qualities. Else you will be humiliated when you meet a greater person. (Shiva taught the naughty kid, Ganga, a lesson by controlling her unparralled strength & force, with great ease….)

Message:

Let us all put effort, learn all the good qualities and be true Indians. Impossible is nothing.

Search Terms: Bhageeratha, Bhagirata, Siva, Bhaageerathi

Published in: on May 14, 2006 at 2:50 pm  Comments (42)  
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