24 elements of Prakriti | Janamejaya Snake Sacrifice Story | Who is Hrishikesha in Mahabharata? | Hari Vamsa-05

Who is Hrishikesha in Mahabharata

Coming in Close Proximity to the Lord

The Jiva is bound to infirmity and distortions because of its association with the body. One shall slowly be cured of these distortions as one focuses on Brahman through steady practice in doing so. The daily difficulties of survival can be transcended if one realizes the bigger problem of Samsara or worldly life. As one is worried about the bigger problem of Samsara, the perspective is completely changed and one shall not be disturbed by the challenges of daily survival. This is the trick. In the same way, we consider getting married, having a child, celebrating birthday and so many small things or events to be a source of happiness. Instead of this, if one were to accept the Supreme Brahman as the biggest source of happiness, one shall never consider such everyday causes of fleeting happiness, as happiness at all, because they aren’t a fact. The Hari Vamsha says that the Lord can only be considered as the very source of the highest happiness and as the one point source for distribution of happiness. There can be no other. To this conclusion, man has to come to, in order to taste genuine happiness. The Lord is the highest object, flawless, the purest of all. As one contemplates on the Lord accordingly, slowly, these very qualities shall come in fullness to the Jiva and one shall attain Samipya Mukti (सामीप्य मुक्ति), the state of being, equivalent to that of the Lord’s and Vaikuntha planet shall come within reach. So promises the Hari Vamsha.

Who is Hrishikesha?

The Lord is addressed as Hrishikesha (हृषिकेश), one who has completely subdued one’s senses. It also means the one who inspires the senses of other beings towards serving Him alone. Without the grace of the Supreme Lord, one shall never be inspired to serve Him. Hence this is another meaning to the name Hrishikesha. Only if the Lord inspires can man’s senses attain the power to serve Him.

Discussing the Kuru and Vrishni Family tree

The Mahabharata Itihasa discusses in detail, the family tree of the Kuru Dynasty. Lord Sri Krishna is the first cousin of the Pandavas and belongs to the Vrishni Dynasty. The Hari Vamsha, discusses in detail, the family tree of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna, Sri Hari. The discussion about the dynasties is happening between the 60,000 rishis in Naimisharanyam, headed by Shaunaka rishi and Suta Goswami who are seated under a giant banyan tree.  There is a discussion between two characters of Mahabharata namely the current family priest of the Kuru dynasty namely Vaisampayana and emperor Janamejaya who happens to be the great grandson of the Pandava prince, Arjun. Arjun’s son is Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu’s son is Parikshit and Parikshit’s son is emperor Janamejaya.

Janamejaya conducts the snake sacrifice.

Parikshit was bitten by the great serpent Takshaka, following a Brahmana’s curse. Annoyed by such an end to his father’s life, Janamejaya decided to put an end to the entire snake species. He performed a great serpent Yajna. All snakes from different corners of the world fell into the sacrificial fire. But Takshaka, the chief serpent responsible for Janamejaya’s father’s death could not be summoned. Takshaka, meanwhile had approached his friend Indra, for help. Indra, out of compassion for the snake, got Takshaka tied to his celestial chariot. Janamejaya questioned the rishis who were performing the Yajna “We see so many snakes coming and falling into the sacrificial fire but we do not see Takshaka yet arrive. What is the reason?” When stronger mantras were uttered with more intensity, Takshaka along with Indra’s chariot got pulled to the spot of the Yajna.

Sages come to the rescue of the snakes

By that time sages such as Vyasa Deva arrived at the scene and addressed Janamejaya. They said that such an action on the part of the emperor is not justified. Just because one snake had bitten his father, to put an end to millions of snake was a sin, highlighted the sages. The sages reminded Janamejaya that his own father acted intelligently and attained the highest celestial abode, Vaikuntha, just by listening to the Bhagavatha Katha, in a matter of 7 days without wasting his time, without even trying to extend his life beyond the stipulated 7 day time frame which was ordained for the snake-bite and his imminent death. There was no reason at all to get perturbed over the event and come to such harsh actions, warned the sages. The sages highlighted the fact that it was a matter of foolishness to hold somebody responsible for someone’s birth or death. All these activities happen by the instructions of time. Sage Vyasa commanded the snake sacrifice to be stopped immediately. On account of great respect towards the sages, Janamejaya immediately stopped the snake sacrifice. Janamejaya attained knowledge about his forefathers from his chief advisor, sage Vaisampayana.

Story of Creation

Sri Vaisampayana continues the story of creation, the story of Brahman itself. Initially there were 4 aspects of Brahman namely Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha that existed, resting on the milk ocean. These 4 aspects of Brahman are known as Chaturvyuha (चतुर्व्यूह 4 aspects). Sankarshana aspect of Brahman was in charge of all destructive activities. Pradyumna was responsible for all creative activities. Aniruddha was responsible for the maintenance activities of the universe. It was from the navel of Aniruddha that the material cause for creation, Brahma appeared. However the raw materials for creation such as earth, water, fire, air and ether had already been created by the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord is Brahman itself. From the body of the Lord, these Pancha Bhutah (पंच भूत five elements), the five fundamental elements are created. This is Achit (अचित) or Mula Prakriti (मूल प्रकृति fundamental non-sentience). From Mula Prakriti, the Mahat-Tattva (महत् तत्त्व) is born. The Mahat-Tattva then transforms itself into the Universal Ego (अहंकार). Ahankara or the Universal Ego splits itself into three parts namely Sattvik Ahankara, Rajasic Ahankara and Tamasic Ahankara.

The 24 elemental components-Achit

From Sattvik Ahankara, 10 senses and mind gets created. The 10 senses have 5 Karma Indriyas and 5 Jnana Indriyas. Two hands, two legs, excretion, sexual organ, speech become the 5 Karma Indriyas. Mind is the leader of these 10 sense organs and hence becomes the 11th sense-component, the director. Only with the instruction of the faculty of the mind can these 10 organs function appropriately. Hence there are 11  sense organs or Indriyas. There are 10 Indriyas that are outward driven while mind is the 11th sense-organ which is inward driven. Mind is said to be the only reason for bondage or for liberation. There is no other factor that can effect liberation. There are 5 sense-objects that are born out of Tamasic Ahankara which affect the 5 sense organs of Sattvik Ahankara. The 5 sense objects (Bhutah) of Tamasika Ahankara are Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether. The 5 Tanmatras (तन्मात्रा) is when 5 senses or Jnana Indriyas meet the 5 sense objects causing Hearing Sight, Smell, Touch and Taste which are the 5 sensory perceptions. Earth can be smelt. Flowers which are made of earth element can be smelt. Water can be tasted. Fire can be seen. Air can be felt (touch). Sound (Ether) can be heard. Thus there are 5 Karma Indriyas (senses), 5 Jnana Indriyas (senses), 5 Sense-objects and 5 Tanmatras and 1 mind, making it 21 elements of perception. Ahankara is the 22 element. The Mahat Tattva is the 23rd element which is parent of Ahankara. The parent of Mahat Tattva is Mula Prakriti which is the 24th element. All these 24 Tattva-elements are singularly known as Achit, insentient.