The Supreme Lord is present within Shrimad Bhagavatham
The Sanat Kumara brothers’ advice Sage Narada to recite the sweet pastimes of Sri Krishna, his tales of butter-stealing and his exploits of Vrindavana, so as to awaken the two brothers Jnana and Vairagya, was the top-most solution to the problem that confronted Bhakti Devi who was concerned for her two children. The solution that the Sanata Kumara brothers offered was impeccable and impactful. In the rendition of the Shrimad Bhagavatham there was no requirement of preparing for Yajna, accumulation of forest fire-wood or arrangement of expensive items for the sacrifice. There is also no possibility of any loss through the application of such a process. Sage Narada acknowledged the great advice given to him by his 4 brothers, the Sanata Kumara brothers. However he was eager to know why such an easy solution was not evident in the first place. The Kumara brothers reply that this secret is just similar to the secret of the clarified butter which is hidden inside milk, like how fire is hidden within firewood and how oil is hidden within sesame seeds. In the similar fashion, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is also hidden within the Bhagavatha but only knowledgeable folks who have experimented with this Truth, have known it.
The Shrimad Bhagavatham is rare
The Shrimad Bhagavatham has 18,000 verses and 12 Cantos. The reading of the scripture is completely independent and is free of any other auxiliary practices like visiting holy places like Gaya or Benares. It does not involve prior purification with Ganga water or visiting other places of pilgrimage. It is said that the Supreme Lord Himself appears, when one listens to this scripture with dedicated attention. The Shrimad Bhagavatham is unavailable even to the mighty Devatas and yet the human race is blessed with this scripture. The expectation of the Lord is that the living entity should whole heartedly listen to the Bhagavatha without any expectation, and should only listen for the pleasure of the Supreme Being. The Lord shall automatically complete all the incompleteness of the living entity who offers himself to the Bhagavatha and following this, Jnana and Vairagya are automatically instilled in full, in the hearts of the listeners.
Ways of associating with the Lord, Sri Krishna
In Kaliyuga, availability of time for spiritual practice is extremely limited and in addition, Kali Yuga is full of shortcomings and faults, the Bhagavatha is delivered in a matter of 7 days, a few hours daily. This is the instruction of the Scriptures with regards to hearing the Bhagavatha for this fallen age. Otherwise even a period of 700 days, and a rendition spanning several hours each day, is not sufficient to render fully, this great scripture. When the Lord prepared to leave the material plane at the end of His pastimes, towards the end of Kaliyuga, His eternal associate Sri Uddhava, raised his concern of being unable to bear the separation from the Lord, post His departure. To this the Lord said that He shall directly enter the Scripture known as Shrimad Bhagavatham. To experience the Lord directly, one needed only to read or hear this Scripture and feel the Lord’s direct presence by doing so. One can either offer obeisance to this Scripture, Either hear the Scripture or even witness the Scripture with Eyes alone, it is considered to be in direct communion with Sri Krishna.
Sage Narada is convinced about the Shrimad Bhagavatham
In a place called Ananda Vanam, the four Sanat Kumara brothers render the Shrimad Bhagavatham and even Lord Sri Krishna descends from Vaikuntha to listen to His glories sung by His devotees. Sage Narada was delighted because he now witnessed the Lord directly present at the place where the Bhagavatha was being delivered and got convinced about the efficacy of the Scripture. One who has heard such a rendition for seven days gets rid of sins that they might have committed knowingly or unknowingly, gets his hidden desires fulfilled, gets free of sins accumulated because of eating undesirable food stuff, gets free of sins accumulated on account of speaking that which should not have been spoken, gets free of sins done against other devotees, even gets rid of sins committed against the Lord, gets rid of sins committed against elders. However one has to be careful that one should not repeat the sins, having committed oneself to the Bhagavatha.
The Story of Dhundhuli and AtmaDeva
At the banks of the river Tungabhadra River, there lived a yogi known as AtmaDeva. He was pious. His wife was known as Dhundhuli. The couple did not have children and Dhundhuli nagged her husband constantly on account of this deficiency. Once AtmaDeva went to the nearby forest. He prayed to the sage who meditated in the forest under a large banyan tree. He desired to be blessed with a son by the sage. The sage said “Oh you do not have a child. That is good. Why do you want a son now?” AtmaDeva said “My wife is too concerned about not having a child and for her sake, a son shall make us happy.” AtmaDeva said “I am very unfortunate. If I plant a tree, it does not grow. If I try to milk a cow, the cow turns barren.” The sage said “Alright. Here, have this fruit and deliver it to your wife. You will have a child.” AtmaDeva delivered the fruit to Dhundhuli, his wife. Now Dhundhuli’s intelligence worked in a different way. She pondered “I have concluded that a woman who is barren or a woman who is never married can only enjoy. I do not intend to give birth, now. I shall lose my freedom, if I were to become a mother now.” But she wondered what is to be done to the fruit. She at once, gave away the fruit to the cow, tied in their backyard. But then she now planned to alter the story to convince her husband. Dhundhuli’s sister was pregnant round about the same time. Dhundhuli planned to show her sister’s child as her own. Meanwhile, the cow in the backyard became pregnant too.
Atrocities of Dhundhukari
Dhundhuli and her sister were at their mother’s place at that time. The sister delivered a male child and Dhundhuli accepted the child. Meanwhile, the cow also delivered a baby at AtmaDeva’s house. The cow delivered a human child, who had ears of that of a cow, owing to the effect of the fruit. This cow-born human child was named Gokarna (The one with the ears of a cow). Due to the power of the fruit, Gokarna was extremely intelligent. The foster son of Dhundhuli, Dhundhuli’s sister’s son, was called Dhundhukari. Dhundhukari was evil in all respects. AtmaDeva could make out that something had gone drastically wrong but feared questioning Dhundhuli, given her nagging temperament. Unable to bear the torture of his wife and son Dhundhukari, AtmaDeva retired to the forest and shortly after, gave up his body, because of discontentment and sorrow. Dhundhukari troubled his foster mother for money, as he was a compulsive gambler. Once, when Dhundhukari was unable to fulfill his demands, out of anger, he pushed Dhundhukari into the nearby well and killed her. Dhundhukari indulged himself completely in wrong acts and one day, his life also came to a tragic end.
Dhundhukari returns in the wind-form
On the other hand, by the arrangement of Providence, Gokarna received the auspices of a spiritual master and became well-versed with the scriptures, leading an extremely pious life. Gokarna once, stayed overnight in a certain village and suddenly he heard heavy knocks on the door of his apartment. He opened the door but he could not see anyone and only hear the whizzing sound of the wind. Gokarna in a loud voice questioned “Who is it? “. He heard the winds reply, “I am your brother Dhundhukari, who has come to you in the form of the wind.” To this Gokarna said, “I have already offered oblations for you at Gaya and carried out all that is necessary for departed souls, on coming to know of your death. It is strange that you still have not departed to the heavenly planets.” Dhundhukari in a very sad tone answered “For the type of sins that I have committed, none of the things that you have carried out on my behalf is useful for my redemption. I cannot be liberated by such rituals devoted to departed beings. You should know of better things than this. I am stuck in this wind form. You decide the next course of action so that I am relieved from such an existence”
The secret for Dhundhukari’s release revealed
Next morning, not knowing the method to liberate Dhundhukari from his ghastly position, Gokarna, at the time of his morning prayers, faced the sun and put the question forward to the deity of the Sun. The Sun-god replied “It would be good if you conduct the 7 day sacrifice of reciting the Shrimad Bhagavatham for your brother’s welfare. Dhundhukari shall be surely redeemed from his position. ” Gokarna relayed this idea to Dhundhukari. However Gokarna wanted to understand as to how he could be convinced that the ghostly form of Dhundhukari is being liberated progressively as he delivered the Bhagavatha each day. To this Dhundhukari replied that he would possess the 7 eyes on the trunk of a nearby tree, in front of which Gokarna was to deliver the Bhagavatha. If the Bhagavatha were delivered satisfactorily each day, one eye of the tree would burst on its own and once all the seven eyes of the tree were to be burst, it could be safely concluded that Dhundhukari was relieved of his ghostly form.
Can the Bhagavatha deliver liberation?
Now the question may arise, is it possible that if the ghostly form of Dhundhukari were to be released to a very high platform, shall it be the case with every Jiva who is also listening to the Bhagavatha? The answer to this lies in earnestness. The ghostly-formed Dhundhukari was most anxious in relieving himself from his current position. This was his one-point program, his sole intention. Hence when the intention is clear and when he listens to the Bhagavatha with non-deviating attention, he shall attain his highest goal. However it is not clear about the intentions and commitments of the listeners of the Bhagavatha. It is important that one should listen to the Bhagavatha with unsurpassable commitment and attention, with the sole purpose of attaining the Lotus feet of Sri Govinda. Only under such circumstances can the Shrimad Bhagavatham deliver the desired result unmistakably. Thus listening to the Bhagavatham is one step, but the next step is to contemplate one’s own liberation on hearing the Bhagavatham with total poise and surrender. This is the key.