Glory of the Lord’s Pastimes
On hearing the sweet and transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Being, the three fold sufferings namely the Adidaivik (Caused by the gods), Adibhautik (caused by other living entities) as well as the Adhyatmik (caused by one’s own mind and body) suffering of the living entity comes to an end. The heart softens and gets clear of all impurities. It is for this reason that the elevated beings or sages engage themselves throughout, in the rendering and hearing of the Lord’s infallible pastimes. The one’s whose heart has found solace in the Lord’s pastimes, shall find all other activities material, uninteresting and lack luster. It is not required to awaken such beings to the platform of renunciation; rather their heart is naturally freed of material indulgence and occupations. The Lord’s transcendental pastimes is the endless reservoir of the highest form of bliss. It is only required that the living entity just develops a taste for the nectarine qualities and pastimes of the Lord. Having been attracted to such a position even once, the heart of such an individual shall lose all other forms of attractions, once and for all.
Introduction to Sage Bharadwaj
Utathya was the brother of Sage Brihaspati, the spiritual preceptor of the gods of the heavenly planets or Swarga. His son, sage Bharadwaj was greatly attracted to the Ramayana and would spend most of his time listening to the exploits of the Supreme Lord, Sri Rama. Sage Bharadwaj was devoted to his Brahminical duties and he was also a great devotee of the Supreme Lord. The hermitage of Sage Bharadwaj was located at a spot where the Ganga and Yamuna River met, at Prayagraj, the king amongst pilgrimages. Many thousands flocked at the hermitage of Sage Bharadwaj to garner Vedic knowledge from the sage. Other highly elevated renunciants too, visited the hermitage and depending on their capacities performed Yoga, Dhyana, and Upasana and gained Jnana for their own upliftment. Sage Bharadwaj had two daughters. One of his daughters became the wife of Sage Yajyavalkya. His other daughter was married to Sage Vishrawas and her son was the Yaksha known as Kubera, the Lord’s treasurer-in-charge.
Bharat visits sage Bharadwaj
Sage Bharadwaj had special attachment to Supreme Lord Sri Rama. At the time of his exile in the forest, the Lord spent one night at the hermitage of Sage Bharadwaj at Prayagraj. Sage Bharadwaj prayed to the Lord, that he should never forget the Lotus feet of the Lord and sought Sri Rama’s blessing towards this end. At the time when Bharata went to meet the Lord at Chitrakoot, he too spent a night at the hermitage of sage Bharadwaj. The sage made many arrangements towards serving the entire retinue of Ayodhyaji as the citizens halted at the hermitage on their way to Chitrakoot. The ones who are dear to the Lord, serve the devotees of the Lord with even more care and dedication, treating them to be non-different from the Lord. For sincere devotees, meeting up with devotees is just like meeting up with the Lord. When the Lord returned after, defeating Ravana, the Lord halted at the sage’s hermitage once again. At the time when the Supreme Lord prepared to return to His eternal abode Saket Dhama, sage Bharadwaj was lost in meditation of the form Sri Rama in his opulent form. Sage Bharadwaj would always associate with sage Yajyavalkya and both would discuss the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Lord, Sri Rama. By the grace of Sage Bharadwaj, even today the sweet transcendental pastimes of Sri Rama continue to be sung in the world.
Background of Sage Shandilya.
Sage Shandilya was born in the lineage of Maharishi Kashyapa. He was the son of Maharishi Deval. He was the family priest of the King Dileepa of the Raghu clan of the Solar Dynasty. He was also, in later Yugas, the family preceptor of the King of Braja Bhumi, Nanda Maharaja; the doting foster parent of Sri Krishna. In some of the Puranas, Shandilya is mentioned to be the charioteer of Sri Brahma. He had established a Shiva Lingam in the region known as Prabhasa where he further performed austerities and worship for 100 celestial years. Satisfied by his worship, Lord Shiva appeared before him and blessed him with Divine Knowledge that encompassed all philosophies and made him a perfect devotee. In addition to this, sage Shandilya also become the possessor of the 8 siddhis. During the event of Sage Vishwamitra’s creation of an alternative celestial planet for King Trishanku, sage Shandilya was present at that scene. He is also believed to be present at the time when the grandsire of the Kauravas and Pandavas, Bheeshma Pitamaha prepared for his final journey. He was the father of Shankh and Likhita, the two sages who authored many of the Smriti Shastra Scriptures.
The Shandilya Bhakti Sutras
Just as Bhagawan Veda Vyasa summarized the entire Vedic Repository in one document known as the Brahma Sutras, sage Shandilya extracted the entire essence of the whole Bhakti literature in one document which is known as the Shandilya Bhakti Sutra. The document has 3 Chapters in all. It is learnt that he created the Scripture known as Shandilya Bhakti Sutra in a matter of 6 days. He reveals in the document that the living entity is non-different from Brahman and yet it is because of the presence of the instrument of Anthakarna (अंत: करण mind, intellect, ego), that the soul or Jiva is seen different as compared to unsullied Brahman. Hence unless the inner instrument of Anthakarna is removed, the coming and going of the Jiva into Maya cannot be handled. Just as the redness within the crystal that appears on account of a red flower being placed near it, cannot be removed without either removing the crystal or the flower and unless the interference of the mind is removed by engaging it in Bhakti, the Jiva can never be redeemed to its pure state. The pure state can simply not be achieved by Self-realization, knowing about the redness of the crystal and the reason for its redness, but by removing the crystal or the flower which is the equivalent of knowing the Supreme Being, the cause of causes, that ends the smallness of the Jiva and transports it in direct communion with that which ends all illusion, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Conclusion of the Shandilya Bhakti Sutra
All the qualifiers of ignorance are removed by immersing the sullied mind in the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. To attain Bhakti, it is necessary that inattentiveness has to be removed, which is attained by Jnana. In the Bhagavad Gita, to attain Bhakti, the culturing of Jnana is discussed. The symptoms of Bhakti is developing deep attachment towards the Supreme Lord. Owing to intense attachment to the Lord, the mind-stuff of the devotee shall dissolve into the Lord and the Anthakarna is removed. This is where the Jiva having lost its Anthakarna merges with the Supreme Being. Thus sage Shandilya, through the Shandilya Bhakti Sutra, has established the superiority of Bhakti over the traditional means of Jnana. He has established the knowledge about various forms of Bhakti and divulged the most confidential secrets about the philosophy of Bhakti, through his Bhakti Sutras. Every devotee should study and try to implement the teachings of this great scripture.