Maitreyi explains the origins of Srimad Bhagavatham

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Rishi Sanatkumara accompanied by other Rishis once went to the underground world called Patala and approached Sankarshana to know more about Vasudeva the superior being. The rishis prostrated and praised hymns in praise of Sankarshana who imparted the Bhagavata to Rishi Sanatkumara. Rishi Sanatkumara taught it to Sage Maitreyi’s guru Sage Parasara who then taught it to Sage Maitreyi.

Brahma’s birth

At the end of a Yuga the whole universe plunges into the cosmic waters, which is called Pralaya. After Maha Vishnu spends a thousand chaturyugas in the cosmic waters in a slumber of self-awareness he gets up and views the universe in latent condition in Himself. With his power he creates a form of a lotus bud with its root in Him and enters into the lotus bud.

Then later the creator Brahma appeared in the Lotus, he is called self-born and an embodiment of Vedas. Brahma, after getting up did not understand anything about himself or the Lotus. Brahma was wondering, “Who am I? How has this Lotus sprung up from these water? What is the origin of this Lotus?

Thinking thus he tried to find the stalk of the Lotus but to no avail. After searching for a long time he abandoned his quest and sat in a meditative absorptional state for around a hundred years. The truth of the Lord as the indwelling spirit dawned on Brahma and he praises Maha Vishnu as the indwelling spirit and all-pervading Lord of the universe.

Maha Vishnu understanding that Brahma was lacking confidence in creation told him, “Practice concentration and self-absorption in me and then you will find the worlds within their ideal form with all obstructions removed. When your mind has reached to such a level of concentration that you see only me as penetrating the universe and yourself then you will also see the world and jivas resting in me. When aspirants see me as residing in all beings then they overcome their delusion. You will be able to engage in the creation of countless creatures and never be affected by the work of creation because your mind is always dedicated to Me alone. You have all my blessings and start creating all beings that have become latent in me.

Saying so Maha Vishnu left the place.

Vidura meets Maitreyi

On hearing from Uddhava that Sage Maitreyi is the spiritual Guru destined for him, Vidura reached Haridwara where Sage Maitreyi lived. He had some questions on the mode of life and put forth the following questions to the sage.

1. In this world people do many things to get happiness. But they never reach their perfect happiness as more desires lead to more unhappiness. Please let me know the course of life a man should follow.

2. Tell me about the great devotees of the Lord, how their hearts and minds get purified and how they attain the state of perfection.

3. How did God create the world and how is he sustaining it?

4. How does God create different forms and how does he dissolve it at the time of dissolution?

5. Tell me more about the excellences of the Lord and his various incarnations for the welfare of the world.

Vidura was anxious to hear about the Lord’s excellences as he was thoroughly tired of hearing about only worldly matters.

Sage Maitreyi

Sage Maitreyi was extremely pleased with Vidura’s devotion to Lord Hari and revealed to him that Vidura was an incarnation of Lord Yama. Yama who administers death and after-death punishment to all beings for their sins was once cursed by Sage Mandavya and it is due to that curse that Vidura has taken a human birth as the son of Vyasa Deva.

On creation:

In the beginning God alone existed as the seer, as the pure spirit. Maya is the power of the witness of the seer and it has got the dual nature of being in the causes as well as the effects. Maya along with Time created the Mahatatva. From the Mahatatva came the I-thoughts which constitutes the mind, senses and intelligence. Then He created the pancha bhootas – sky, air, fire, water and earth. Then He created a cosmic form called Virat Purusha which formed the basis of the whole universe of living and non-living things.  This Virat is the cosmic power of everything in the universe, also called the spiritual source or the super soul.

Vidura asked, “How can the living spirits be subject to the loss of bliss and plunge into the world of suffering if he is actually a pure spirit?”

Sage Maitreyi replies, “Just like in a dream a person can experience his own head being cut off the Atman experiences a change of its nature without that change being factual. The Atman which living spirits experience is the self identified as the body and thus it is subject to defects of the body. When the mind and intelligence focus on devotion to the Lord and is bathed in Godly love he will realize his true nature as different from the bodily nature.”


The next post in this series will contain the rest of Sage Maitreyi’s answers to Vidura

Vidura – A Dharma Putra

Veda Vyasa had fathered four sons, one each for the values of dharma, artha, kama and moksha.

Vidura is considered to be the dharma putra of Vyasa Deva. Sage Suka is the moksha putra of Vyasa Deva. There were many times that Vidura could have left Hastinapura unable to bear the atrocities taking place there under the leadership of his brother Dhritarashtra and his son Duryodhana.

One instance could have been when Duryodhana, with the support of his father Dhritarashtra masterminded the most wicked terrorist act of the Dwapara Yuga – accommodating the Pandava brothers in a wax palace and attempting to burn them alive.

Another instance could have been when the daughter-in-law of the family Draupadi was dragged by her hair into the Hastinapura court by Duhshasana under the encouragement of Duryodhana and Karna when she was in her menstrual cycle and minimally clothed, and insulted publicly in court.

Another instance could have been when Yudhishtira asked for his kingdom back after completing twelve years of rigorous exile in the forest and one year of incognito life and Dhritarashtra still supported his greedy and wicked son in not giving even a needle point of space.

Another instance could be when Krishna was sent as an ambassador by Yudhishtira to Hastinapura to bring about peace and avoid war and bloodshed as far as possible, the way he was insulted by Duryodhana and his father Dhritarashtra.

Despite being a witness to these unrighteous incidents, Vidura being the ever calm and even minded person spoke to his brother Dhritarashtra and advised him to return the kingdom back to Yudhishtira which was his rightful claim.  The embodiment of jealousy and evil, Duryodhana had even insulted Lord Krishna who had come as an ambassador to avoid war at any cost. Vidura persuaded Dhritarashtra to banish his son Duryodhana from Hastinapura and bring good to his dynasty.

Duryodhana on hearing this advice being given to his father insulted Vidura with wicked words like slave’s son, one who has allied with the enemies etc and with an unbearable anger he ordered his attendants to push Vidura out of the palace.

Hearing such insulting words and considering them as mysterious work of the Lord’s Maya, Vidura placed his weapons at the door of the palace and left for a pilgrimage. He dressed like an Avadhuta and visited many holy places like Mathura, Vrindavan, Govardhana and holy rivers and lakes.

When he reached the holy place Prabhasa he heard about the Mahabharata war and how Yudhishtira, the Dharmic King has started to rule the kingdom and also about the destruction of his relatives and friends. Then sad and silent he proceeded towards many other holy places and in course of time he reached a place on the bank of Yamuna river where he met the great devotee of Lord Krishna, Uddhava.  He questioned Uddhava on the well being of all his relatives including the Pandavas and Lord Krishna.  Uddhava informed Vidura that Krishna has left the earth after completing his duties of this avatar as well as the Pandavas. The whole Yadu dynasty was also destroyed by a curse which Krishna had known. Vidura was grief-stricken on hearing the news of the death of all his friends and relatives but by his power of discrimination he controlled his sorrow.

Vidura then pleads submissively to Uddhava to impart to him the supreme knowledge about the Atman which Krishna had revealed to Uddhava before leaving his earthly life. Uddhava informed Vidura that it is Rishi Maitreyi who is ordained to impart the knowledge of the Atman to Vidura because Uddhava had heard Lord Krishna commanding Sage Maitreyi to this effect.

Next Post – Vidura meets Sage Maitreyi and questions him

Brahma’s inspiration for creation


Brahma’s inspiration

Once Brahma was thinking about the ways to create but he could not get any clue to proceed further. While thus contemplating within himself, he heard a divine sound from among the cosmic waters surrounding him. He heard a sound ‘tapa,tapa’  meaning concentrate, concentrate on your nature as the spirit. He knew that this instruction must have come from a divine source and in that very place he started to engage himself in austere meditation.

Brahma performed his austerities for a thousand divine years and the Lord revealed his highest spiritual realm to Brahma. Brahma saw Him whose face is illumined with a gracious smile, with his ear ornaments, yellow cloth, four arms, Kousthuba and Sri adorning his chest. He saw the Lord surrounded by twenty five expressions of His creative power.

Brahma was bathed in bliss within which overflowed as torrential tears from his eyes and prostrated at His holy feet.

The Lord was highly satisfied by Brahma’s continuous and concentrated meditation on Him and was willing to grant any boon. Brahma requested to know the Supreme Being, who is formless, gross and subtle and the Atma Maya. Brahma, as the Lord’s servant will continuously discharge his duty of creation, and he requested that he does not develop any pride in it.

The Lord explained the supreme knowledge to Brahma being extremely pleased by his yogic meditation on Him. The basic substances of nature combine and constitute various objects. These elements do not lose their material nature but also takes on the qualities of the combinations. Similarly, the Lord constitutes all beings and is in each of them, yet the Lord’s pristine nature is not affected by the nature and experience of the combinations that make up the bodies of beings. A seeker of truth has to grasp the fact that the basic nature does not suffer any diminution and always exists as itself despite any set of combinations it undergoes. The supreme spirit is that ultimate substance. Concentrated absorption on the supreme self is the only way to get liberation.  Saying as much, Sri Hari disappeared from Brahma’s view and then Brahma proceeded towards the activity of creation.

Bhagavatam Lineage

Bhagavatam Lineage

The twenty questions of Parikshit


Parikshit submissively asked the following questions to Sage Suka after hearing about the Yajna Purusha.

The twenty questions of Parikshit

1)      To whom and in what manner did Narada impart the knowledge of Bhagavata?

2)      The Atman is spirit and non-material. How does it come to have a body that is material? Is there any cause for this or is it purely accidental?

3)      Man has many distinct organs and limbs. The supreme Virat purusha also has the same as per your description. What then differentiates God from man?

4)      In what does the Supreme Being remain when he disassociates himself from the Atma – Maya?

5)      We have heard that the world and their protectors are formed from his limbs and the world and their protectors constitute His limbs. Which of these contradictions are true?

6)      What are the lengths of time involved in a Kalpa, Vikalpa. How do we understand time with its division of past, present and future? What is the span of different types of beings like man, devas etc.

What are the actions of time in its micro and macro aspects?

7)      What realms can man attain through his actions?

What is the origin of different worlds like Bhu, Patala etc?

8)      What are the internal dimensions of Brahmananda, what is beyond it?

9)      What are the stipulations of Varnashrama society?

10)   What are the incarnations of the Lord?

What are Yugas and what are duties pertaining to particular Yugas?

11)   What are common duties of man and what are their special duties? What duties are to be followed by people following different trades, by Rajarshis and by people facing emergencies?

12)   The number of categories like Mahatattwa etc, their nature, effects

13)   How to worship the supreme being and how to do yoga with eight steps?

14)   How do the yogis destroy the linga sarira?

15)   What are the nature of scriptures like vedas, subsidiary vedas and dharma shastras, itihasas and puranas?

16)   What is Dharma, Artha, Kama?

17)   How do Jivas emerge from the Lord?

18)   What is the origin of atheism?

19)   Explain about the bondage and liberation of Atman.

20)   How the Lord does limit himself in Maya and how does he disassociate from it?

Sage Suka was mightily pleased by these questions and answered all these questions one by one in the course of his exposition of Bhagavatam.

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