– Dr. Sudheer Deshpande
The Saptaha was arranged by S-VYASA University Bangalore. Pujya Prema Pandurangji is a well-known exponent of Bhagavata and she has held the discourses all over the world. People throng to hear her wherever it is held. She performed her first discourse at Guruvayur. She is staunch devotee of Lord Guruvayurappa. She and her team have constructed a temple of Guruvayurappa at Kshetropasana in Sriperamabdur in Tamil Nadu of which she is a Managing Trustee along with Dr. Krishna Kumar.
She hails from a devout family in Tamil Nadu. She is daughter of Dr. P. Nagaraja Rao, a retired professor of philosophy. She taught at Presidency College, Chennai for more than two decades as professor of English.
She captures individual attention of each devotee through her scintillating voice and passion with which she delivers the lecture. It was an enchanting experience for the devotees who attended the discourse in Bangalore. Nobody will leave their seat till aarati. They want here to go on for ever.
The discourse started on 11th September, 2014. It was inaugurated by Shri Ananthakumar, Hon. Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilisers and Mrs. Tejaswini Ananthakumar, Mrs. Meera Rama Rao, One of the major donors of Bhagavathakatha Saptaha and Dr. H.R. Nagendra, Chancellor of S-VYASA University.
Bhagavata has 12 cantos. Ammaji started the discourse always with Damodar Stotra each day. Each and every devotee present will repeat this along with her. She makes them to do it passionately.
After the formal inauguration function Pujya Premaji started the session by telling the importance of the Holy Book Bhagavad-Gita how it is not a book but experience the three commandments of that book Yajna, Daana and Tapa. She explained how in Padmapurana which is consisting of 6 Chapters describes Lord Krishna’s glory and the four virtues of Krishna. Importance of Prayer and surrendering the self to Lord Krishna having faith like Draupadi and shraddha like Kunti Mata. The speaker of Srimad Bhagawatham – Shuka Deva son of Saint Veda Vyasa. She also explained about the six weaknesses which takes us to the path of destruction and how to overcome them through adopting Bhakti marg.
She narrated Bhakta Dhruva and Bhakta Prahalad how they heard the Nama japa of lord Narayana in their womb and faith that they had towards Lord. She sang beautiful Bhajans in between the discourse which came from within whenever she was in front of Lord.
She also informed that since this is pitrupaksha, listening to the glory of Bhagavatam will give moksha to ancestors and peace and joy to the listeners.
The session began with Draupadi and her faith in lord even after losing five sons Upa Pandavas. Parshikth son of Uttara and how lord took miniature form gave Darshan to him when he was in mother’s womb. Mata Kunti’s suffering and shraddha in lord in spite of that, how she surrendered her children in the hands of lord. Importance of sorrow how it acts as therapy making one humble, forgiving etc., Bhishma – his sacrifices. Prishikth and how he was cursed for his deeds. The four Punyaslokas which prepare us to be near god as in the Bhagavatham.How to use eyes, ears and tongue to praise lord. She touched 2nd, 3rd and 4th Scanda which describes the different Bhaktas and how they worshipped Lord like Vidhura, Uddama, Dhruva and how to do meditation.
It was time to hear about Jadabharata. His first birth was as King Bharata in whose name our country today called as Bharat. He was an exemplary king and ruled the kingdom with righteousness. After ruling the kingdom for many years he handed over the reign to his sons and retired to forest. He was a great devotee of Sri Hari. One day when he was near river side he saw a pregnant deer who had to come to drink water. A lion roared nearby and the deer gave birth to a fawn which started floating in the river. Bharata rescued this fawan and took it to his hermitage and looked after it as it was his child. Due to this his devotional practices came down and stopped altogether. He became old and died thinking of this deer only. As man thinks intensely at the time of his death so he becomes in the next birth. Accordingly in his next birth he was a deer.
Due to his past samskaras he never forget about his previous birth. He had to born again and again till his salvation. Jadabharata was his last birth. He was called Jadabharata because people thought he was dull, stupid and ignorant. Though outwardly he was looking like this he was far from any of these.
Since he was well aware of his earlier births he kept away from everyone and he did not want to develop attachments with anyone. His brother did not give him proper food and he had to live on the leftovers. Whatever work was give to him he did them in an absent minded way ie., in a dull and stupid way. That is why he was called as Jadabharata.
One day he had to guard the crops in a field. He was guarding the field sitting quietly with mind merged in self. At the same time some people of a cult were looking for a strong person to give sacrifice to Bhadrakali. They took him with them for which he did not object. He was given good food, fresh clothes and a good bath. The priest after the puja was ready with his sword to cut his head. Since Jadabharata was a saintly man MaaKaali could not tolerate this. She jumped out of the statue and took the sword and cut off the head of the priest. According to scriptures Lord comes out to protect the devotees.
Time passed. One day King Rahoogana was travelling in golden palanquin to visit sage Kapilamuni. His servants were looking for one more person to carry this palanquin and they spotted Jadabharata who was sitting idle. They took him to King and King asked him to carry the palanquin. While carrying the palanquin he did not match with the rhythm of the other three carriers. King was uncomfortable and told the carriers to keep proper rhythm. They told that since Jadabharata was not keeping pace with them this problem is occurring.
Rahoogana told Jadabharata “You seem to be tired and looks like that you carrying the palanquin alone. You are thin and old and there is no one to help you”. Jadabharata ignored this and continued to behave in the same manner.
Irked by this King threatened him with dire punishment and also told that as a king it is his duty to bring the people to the right path.
But unperturbed Jadabharata told Kind “O King it would have been true had I been carrying your palanquin. I am not carrying this. It is only my body. It is inert. Wise ones do not talk like this. The body is subject to changes. I am not this body.”
Rahoogana realised that this man who looked like a fool and rustic was, in fact, a person of great wisdom. He touched the feet of Jadabharata and asked “O sage, who are you? Your words are full of wisdom. I am not able to recognize you. Please enlighten me and remove my ignorance.”
Jadabharata said “You appear to be a knowledgeable person. This world is full of maya. Only you have to realise yourself. This whole universe is Brahman the absolute consciousness and we are one with that. Mediate regularly on Brahaman and attain self realisation.”
In this last birth Jadabharata attained moksha.
Ammaji says “Do no judge any person by his look. Each individual is unique. Give respect to all”.
Next was the story of Prahlada son of Hiranyakashipu the daemon king. Hiranyakashipu prayed Brahma and got a boon that he cannot be kiiled by any human being or animal or creature. He cannot be killed in the morning or in the night – inside or outside. He cannot be killed by any weapon. Hiranyakashipu was against Sri Hari while Prahlada was a great devotee of Sri Hari. Coming to know of this after Prahlada returned from the Gurukula, Hiranyakashipu was very angry. He tried to kill his son by various ways but was not able to do so. Finally he wanted to kill him himself. He asked his son showing the pillars where is your Sri Hari in this pillar, in that, in that. Sri Hari was waiting for this. He will never let down his devotees. Whoever calls him in distress he appears immediately. Prahlada said he is everywhere. He will not desert me. I will call him and passionately called “Sri Hari – Narayan”. Immediately there was a thunder storm. The whole place shook. Hiranyakashipu was frightened. As he was looking one of the pillars, cut into two pieces. He saw neither a man nor an animal. Body was human but the head was of a lion. Narasimhavatara. Lord Narasimha took Hiranyakashipu lifting him both his hands. He sat on the door sill and with his finger nails tore the chest of Hiranyakashipu and took out the intestine outside and wore it as a garland. Asked Prahlada “What boon can I give you? What you want?”. Prahlada was a very noble person. He asked the Lord “O Lord forgive my father. Bring him back.”
Ammaji says “God will never let down his devotees. It is only a matter of time. He wants to punish the evil and save the goodness. Prahlada though was tortured by his father, never felt bad about it. When God wanted to give him all that he wanted, he asked forgiveness for his father. He is a great soul”.
Then the story of Gajendra Moksha. Gajendra was head of the elephant herd and was very arrogant. One day along with other elephants he came to pool to cool off. When he was taking bath a crocodile came and caught his leg. Seeing this all the other elephants run away. Gajendra tries to free himself from the clutches of crocodile but to cannot do so. Upto this day Gajendra had never prayed. He thinks someone was telling there was someone who will help all those who are in distress. But I do not remember his name. What to do? He prays “O Lord, I am not aware of you by Name but I know you will save whoever pays you. Please help me. Release me from clutches of this crocodile. I cannot bear the pain anymore?”. Hearing this Lord Vishnu appears riding on Garuda and kills the crocodile using Sudharshana Chakra.”
Ammaji says “It is not necessary for you to remember the name of the God. Whole heartedly you pray to the Lord, he will come and save you.”
It was birth of Krishna. Kamsa had dethroned Ugrasena and had become king of Vrishni. After marriage Devaki – Kamsas’s sister and Vasudeva were being taken on a procession. Kamsa was also riding his horse during this procession. He heard an ashariravanai “O Kamsa, the eighth child of this couple is your killer.” Immediately he wanted to kill Devaki. Vasudeva told Kamsa that he will bring all the children born of Devaki to Kamsa, leave them alone now. They were taken to the prison. Vasudeva brought all the six children to Kamsa and saw with his own eyes their death. The seventh child was Balarama. Lord Vishnu asked Yogamaya an eight handed devi holding different arms in her hand to transfer the embryo of Shesh Naag to Gokul to Rohini and the embryo of Rohini was transferred to Devaki. Then eighth child Krishna was taken to Gokul in the midnight. Yogamaya enters the womb of Devaki and when Kamsa tries to kill her after her birth thinking that she is his killer, she slips out of his hand and reveals her true identity and tells Kamsa that eighth child Krishna is already born and growing at Gokula and he will kill Kamsa.
Kamsa tries to kill Krishna by sending Agha, Baka, Putana, Sakata, Trnavarta, Dhenuka and Gardabha. He killed all of them as if he were playing with dolls.
Perturbed by this, Kamsa arranges for a wrestling completion at Mathura. Krishna and Balarama participate in this competition kill the wrestles and Krishna kills Kamsa. Since Kamsa was thinking of Krishna 24X7 – day and night while awake or sleeping he attains liberation.
She also told the story of Vamana. Bali chakravarthi was a king in Kerala. He was very proud. One day Vishnu came to him as a Brahmin boy. Bali asked him what he needs. Vamana told him that he needs only 3 feet of land in his own feet. Bali was ready to give but Shukracharya told him that he is not an ordinary brahim boy, but he is Vishnu come in the form of Vamana. But Bali told that once the word is given, it has to be fulfilled. Then Vamana became very big and with one foot he covered the entire earth and with other foot he covered the entire sky. Then Vamana asks where to keep his third foot. Bali told him to put his foot on his head and he went to Patala Loka and Vishnu gave him a boon that every year he can come to earth and see his kingdom and that is festival of Onam.
Ammaji says “Even if you are against the Lord, if you are thinking of the Lord always, you will attain liberation.”
Krishna’s Rasa Leela
Pujya Ammaji described how Krishna was born with Kireeta, Kundala, Shankha, Chakra, Gada, and Padma and how Vasudeva took Krish to Nanda Gokula.
She also told about Pootana who has acted as a mother of Krishna and naming ceremony of little Krishna.
She told when Krishna was eating the mud, Mother Yashoda saw all 14 lokas and fainted. In other incident when she wanted to tie Krishna since he ate butter, she could not do so as any amount of rope was not sufficient to tie him. Then Krishna seeing of plight, volunteer himself to tie. Then only she could tie him.
Then story of Yogamaya comes when Kamsa wants to kill that child. She told Kamsa that your death is growing somewhere else and she disappeared.
At the end there was a rasaleela dance and all the audience and few students from S-VYASA University took part in this.
Krishna kills Kaaliya by dancing over his head.
Marriage of Krishna with Rukmini. Rukimini is sister of Rukmi from Vidharba. She has heard of Krishna, about his character and his personality. But she has not met him. Similarly Krishna also knows about Rukmini. Both want to get married. But Rukmi has got other ideas. He wants Rukmini to marry his friend Shishupala. But Rukmini is not interested in this. She sends her Guru as emissary to Krishna to take her away from Vidharba and marry her. She has heard about him. She is also from royal family and well educated. Her brother wants her to marry Shishupala against her wishes. Krishna along with her Guru goes to Vidharba and kidnaps her from there. On the way Rukmi tries to stop them. Krishna gets angry and was about to kill him when Rukmini asks him to forgive her brother.
Ammaji says “Though Krishna kidnapped Rukmini it was not against her wish. Both knew about each other. When she wrote letter to him it was Gandharva Vivaha. After taking her to Gokula he marries her before entering the palace in presence of all. Whatever Krishna did he followed righteousness.
Now is the time for Uddhava to learn his lesson. Uddhava was prime minister and Krishna calls him and asks him to visit Brindaban to meet his parents and Gopis. Uddhava says I can meet your parents but why should I meet the Gopis? Krishna tells him nothing will happen you just go and see how my parents are and also how Gopis are after I left Brindaban.
Uddhava comes to Brindaban on the Golden Chariot of Krishna and wearing beautiful clothes. When he lands there no one is there to receive him. Being a prime minister he thought people will come to receive him. When he meets Krishna’s parents they cry and ask Uddhava how is Krishna. He never visited Brindaban after his depature from here and not asked how we are. Uddhava says that is why he has been sent now to see them. From there he comes to see gopis. Gopis see him from a distance and start talking themselves. Hey who is this who has come from Gokula. He is not Krishna. He looks like a fool wearing our Krishna’s garb. We know Krishna will not come again. He has deserted us. Etc. Seeing this Uddhava asks them how they were feeling when Krishna was here.
The elder gopi says. When he was playing flute in the forest it was devine melody. They used to carry away by this. Cows used to stand still. They used to stop all their work and just wanted to listen this sammohanashakti. They used to forget everything. It was divine experience. Only Krishna can give this. If anybody is not happy after hearing Krishna’s flute then he is not a living being. How can we live now without him. Who will come and flirt with us. Who will steal and eat the butter. This is venugita.
This conversation transforms Uddhava into a Bhakta. The prime minister returns to Brindaban as a Bhakta.
Ammaji says “Whoever hears Lord’s playful days and about venuvaadana will become his devotee forever.”
Sudhama was close friend of Krishna. They studied together. Sudhama was a very poor man. Had difficulty even to have one good meal each day. One day his wife Sushila asks him to visit husband of Lakshmi. Here she does not mention the name of Krishna and does not want to embarrass her husband. Sudhama agrees finally. Sushila collects little pounded rice from her neighbours and puts into a torn cloth and ties it and gives it to her husband to give it as his present when he visits his friend. Sudhama comes to Krishna and he feels very small when he sees the palace of Krishna. In a low voice asks the door man he has come to see Krishna and he is his friend and his name is Sudhama. Laughing internally, door man goes inside. Krishna is with Rukmini. He tells him “Sir, there is a poor Brahaman. He says he is your friend and he wants to meet you. His name is Sudhama.”
Immediately Krishna jumps up and runs to the entrance calling “Oooooooo Sudhama”. Comes running and embraces Sudhama. Seeing this everyone is taken back. Krishna takes Sudhama inside and starts talking to him. Remembers the olden days. Also, tells him today he is poor because of his old misbehavings. When they were studying together one day they were sitting in the garden. Sudhama was not talking at all. Only Krishna was talking. Krishna looks at Sudhama and asks him what it is. Sudhama just shakes his head saying nothing. Again Krishna asks what it is. Again Sudhama just shakes his head saying nothing. Krishna looks down and two plates were lying there. Sudhama without offering it to Krishna had eaten the food of both the plates. Krishna gets angry and curses him “You will become poor and will not get proper food and cloth”. Sudhama now says, yes he has understood that and he requests Krishna to forgive him. Krishna says what is there to forgive between friends and looks at Sudhama and finds something is tied at the end of his clothes. He snatches it and untie the know and finds pounded rice. He tells Sudhama how he knew that he is very fond of this pounded rice. Takes handful and starts eating and enjoying it. Takes one more handful and eats it. When he tries the third and last handful, Rukminis pounces and takes that handful and eats it. She says how you can eat all don’t you know your friend wants us to share it. Sudhama leaves Krishna without asking anything.
When he comes back he is astonished to see a beautiful building where his hut stood. His wife Sushila comes out with arati to welcome him. His wife and children are wearing new clothes. They look gorgeous. Sudahama sends his thanks to Krishna.
Ammaji says “Krishna know what his Bhakta wants. Without being asked he will give everything. We should not pester God – I want this I want that.”
There are three types of Gita. Venu Gita, Bhagavadgitaa and Uddava Gita. Venu Gita as explained by Gopi which comes from flute of the Lord. Bhagavad Gita – Krishna ArjunaSamvada before start of war at Kurukshetra and uddava Gita – conversation between Krishna and his dear friend Uddhava.
Krishna tells Uddava, due to curse, the Yadu dynasty has to come to an end by fighting among themselves. In the near future I will abandon this earth and go to Vaikunta. Since there will calamity, you should not remain here. Leave all your attachments and move about with only mind centred on me. Uddhava says it is very difficult to shake off attachments. The human body can be best used for attaining the attachment and narrates the story of an Avadhuta (Sri Dattatreya) who learnt lessons from 24 Gurus.
He says The earth, air/breeze, sky, fire, the sun, pigeon, python, sea, moth, elephant, ant, fish, Pingala the courtesan, arrow-maker, infant/playful boy, the moon, honeybee, deer, bird of prey, maiden, serpent, spider, caterpillar and water are my twenty four preceptors.
Earth – People plough, dig and live on earth. They lit fire on the earth. Still earth will not swerve from its course. From this I have learned that people should not swerve from vow of patience, love and righteousness under any circumstance and dedicate their life for the welfare of living beings.
Air/Breeze – Air is pure and odourless in itself. It blows through both sweet and foul-smelling things without any discrimination. Spiritual aspirant should live in this world unaffected by dualities of the world like joy and sorrow. He should keep his heart’s feelings and his speech unpolluted by vain objects.
Sky – Soul is also like sky omnipresent. Sometimes it gets thickly overcast or filled with dust or smoke. At sunrise and during night it takes on different colours. It is never touched or stained by anything. Pure sage should remain ever pure like the sky.
Fire – Sometimes it shows itself as blazing flames, smoldering embers covered by ash. But always present as latent heat. The fire God accepts the offering from every one irrespective of his moral worth. He is untainted by the sins of such devotees. Like fire the sage of true realisation should accept food from everyone.
Sun – As sun illuminates many forms of nature to our visions the sage has to illuminate the true nature of all things to his devotees.
Pigeon – A pigeon was living with his family. One day a hunter caught its children. On return the mother saw this and unable to bear this she also fell in the net. The father pigeon saw this and unable to bear the separation it also fell in the net. From this I learnt that man caught up in his ambition of possessiveness brings about his own distraction. Due to his materialistic approach he is caught up in the endless cycle of birth and death.
Python – Python being sluggard lies without moving much. Gulps whatever comes in its way to fulfil its hunger. A person who is in search of wisdom should not run about in search of worldly pleasures. He should take whatever in his way with contentment.
Sea – Number of rivers may join the sea but it maintains its level. Even during summer when the rivers dry up, the level of the sea remains same. Like sea the joys of life do not elate the sage. He will never transgress the highest standards of morality under the pull of passions.
Moth – Moth attracted by fire jumps into it and gets destroyed. Like moth man is also attracted by the worldly pleasures and gets caught in the never ending cycle of birth and death. A learned sage when gets a glimpse of wisdom leave everything aside and burns in search of wisdom to know the self.
Elephant – To catch a male elephant a stuffed replicate of female elephant is made and when it nears it, it is skilfully caught. Likewise man is attracted by the opposite sex. The true seekers should learn to leave away from this lust.
Ant – It stores lot food neither it eats nor gives away to others. Other more powerful creatures take away this. Likewise, man who stores up material things also liable to face robbery and murder. But one thing we have to learn from ant, it is a tiresome worker. Unperturbed by this it continues to store the food. Man also should work tirelessly towards gaining wisdom.
Fish – Its greediness makes it to swallow the bait and get caught. Similarly man is also very greedy. He is not satisfied with the amount of food he eats. He continues to eat even after his palate is full. One thing about fish is it never leaves its home. Man should never loose sight of his goal of attaining wisdom.
Pingala – Pingala was a prostitute. She waited for a particular client in the hope to get more from him. Till late night he did not turn up. She realised that like a fool she was waiting for a person who only inspires her lust and greed. Had this wait been for the Lord, what a pleasure I would have got. From that day onwards she started concentrating on the divine. Through this repentance she attained blessedness and united with the almighty. Like Pingala a spiritual aspirant should neglect the temptation of bodily pleasures and concentrate on their aim of attaining the wisdom through spirituality.
Arrow Maker – An arrow maker never distracts from his work, even it may be a royal procession. Single mindedness without getting distracted by the material things is the sure way to attain the realisation.
Playful Boy – Little children are like true realised person. They are not perturbed by anything. They won’t carry any grudge against anyone. They are themselves fully oblivious of what they are doing. They do not need any external object to make them happy. A sage is also like this unperturbed by the materialistic joy.
Moon – Moon is reflection of sun. Through the lunar cycle it diminishes and grows again. Similarly the body of man grows through age but his real self remains same. Like moon being the reflection of sun, the soul or mind of the man is reflection of his self.
Honeybee – Honeybee moves from one flower to another without disturbing and discriminating any while collecting the honey. Like Honeybee the seeker should study all the scriptures and keep it in his mind. He should use only what is relevant for achieving his aim.
Deer – It is understood that deer is fond of music and deer hunters use this to catch them. Likewise a spiritual aspirant who is fond of only music will be bogged down by this and he may loose whatever spiritual progress he has made.
Bird of Prey – A bird carrying a dead rat was attached by crows and eagles. It tried to fight out but finally dropped it and others followed the dead rat. The bird had a sigh of relief. Likewise a man who is after worldly pleasures will be attacked by many who are also after it. If he overcomes this desire he can save from unhappiness. It will bring him peace.
Maiden – A maiden had to entertain her guests since her mother was not at home. She went to kitchen and started pounding the food-grains. Since she was wearing bangles on both hands they started making lot of sound. She did not want the guests to hear that sound feel unhappy. In traditional family we are not supposed to remove all the bangles. She removed all bangles from her hands and kept only two in each. Even then the sound could not be avoided. She removed one each from both the hands and continued pounding and served food to the guests. Likewise, if number of spiritual seekers live under one roof there will be chaos. Only in solitude does a seeker can concentrate more easily.
Serpent – A serpent never builds a dwelling. It lives in the anthills raised by the white ants. Similarly worldly people have to undergo many hardships for building their own homes. But a sage never aspires that. He can happily live in a monastery or old temples or even under a tree. Serpent leaves its old skin and moves away. Similarly an attained person leaves his body and is never afraid of death. He is very happy to leave his body like a worn out cloth and adorn a new one.
Spider – Spider weaves its web and later consumes it also. During birth soul enters into a body having sense objects and mind and at the end of the life’s cycle it withdraws from the body leaving the sense objects and mind and all other acquired tendencies.
Caterpillar – The wasp carries its child to a corner and builds up a nest to protect it and starts buzzing. The child also after hearing this buzzing for a long period cannot think of anything other than buzzing and starts buzzing till it also becomes a wasp. Similarly a true shishya cannot think of anything else other than what his Guru is teaching to him. He will be over awed by the spiritual wisdom of his Guru and follows it. Continuing this he also becomes a great spiritual master.
Water – Water serves everybody. It nurtures environment. But never feels proud of itself and humbly seeks the lowest place. Like water, a sage should look after every one and live as the humblest creation of the God’s creation.
Thus, the avadhuta says that he has learnt the above lessons from the 24 Gurus.
Ammaji says “We should try to cultivate the above teachings if not all at least some of them so that we can be good to the society and we will also be peaceful and contented.”
All the well-wishers and donors were felicitated by PujyaAmmaji.
Every day there was prasadam distribution by Pujya Ammaji to all the devotees. There were around 600 devotees participated in the Bhagavatha Katha Saptha. The Saptha was memorable.
One day during Saptha, Pujya Ammaji came to Prashanti Kutiram and addressed all our students and gave discourse on Narayaneeyam.
For more see latest issue of Yoga Sudha – Oct, 2014