Stories and Episodes from Srimad Bhagavatha Maha Purana (Set of 3 Volumes)

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Volume 1

Preface

I may be running the risk of stating the obvious when I say that one cannot just start writing on such supremely holy works as Srimad Bhaagavatha in the absence of there being a divine signal in some form. Yes, there may have been just an initial thought in my mind that such a great work by Bhagavaan Vyaasa should reach a large number of people. I felt that if I could render the contents in the form of stories or episodes making them interesting through a lucid and racy style, and a well-rounded narration without sacrificing any 'rasa', and simultaneously maintain the core-coherence of the original, new readers may be drawn to lay their hands on this Mahaapuraana.

I mentioned about the divine signal. Believe it, just without any effort on my part, a full set of books fell on my lap for my reference from a totally unexpected source to augment the books in my library: the person before gifting it had merely asked me to tell him in a nutshell as to why this puraana was so important and what was in it after all? The belief that God thought that I had it in me to make an attempt (with Himself leading the way) strengthened and I was on my way within a few weeks; the maiden volume covering the first four out of a total twelve 'skandhas' got written in record time, a tribute to Lord's unseen hand!

Besides this above incident, a very religious person who is extremely busy in his DTP work for his regular customers and experienced in handling such work agreed to take it up - in fact he considered it a godsend to be entrusted with such a holy mission! He completed typing the first volume (4 Skandhas) with great speed.

The first volume has, besides some prepratory coverage, about ninety stories/sub-stories and episodes. I have thought it appropriate to talk about Bhaagavatha's significance at the beginning of each volme rather than covering it in a single (first) volume since the introductory details themselves are so extensive to form a book.

I will be extremely pleased if this presentation is found interesting and useful by the readers, particularly those who keep postponing their decision to lay their hands on such a great religious and thought- provoking classic. The Lord Himself has rcommended everyone to profit by it and I feel rewarded that He let 'yours truly' to be connected with it in a small way.

I thank Sri Suresh and his wife Sow. Bhargavi for the DTP type- setting and Kiran Ranganathan for the attractive cover design. The Priners, Ganesh Maruthi Printing Press, are also to be thanked for timely printing.

Introduction

Srimad Bhaagavatha occupies a unique place in the religious literature of our country. Even as a work of Sanskrit literature its place is quite high. While other puraanas talk about dharma, artha, Kaama and moksha, Srimad Bhaagavatha deals with moksha alone. It is considered 'the head quarters of divine love in theory and practice'. The veritable treasure house of devotional literature that Bhaagavatha is, it illustrates 'the function and the efficacy of bhakthi', Sri Raamaanuja, utilised this puraana for the doctrine of faith in a great measure. 'Bhaagavatha Puraana is steeped and drenched in bhakthi, 'a surging emotion which thrills the whole frame'.

The place occupied by this Mahaapuraana can be gauged by the fact that the number of commentaries written on it is only next to Srimad Bhagavadgita. The commentaries on it are also varied-advaithic, dvaithic, vishistaadvaithic, dvaithaadvaithic and so on - that it has earned the name' Shaasthrasaarvabhauma'.

Moksha apart what benefits does this puraana confer? If at all one is looking for material benefits like good progeny, fulfillment of unfulfilled desires, marriage, freedom from debts/ enemies/misfortunes, and the clutches of spirits, all these and many more benefits can achieve. But the main goal is to achieve Bhakthi, jnaana and Vairaagya. It is declared that the servant of bhakthi viz., mukthi, comes to you by herself (mukthim dhaaseem dadhau Thubhyam).

There may be some tendency to consider Puraanaas as 'old legends' and show neglect, but their contents are ever fresh (naveenam) and are as relevant to modern times as ever before. Further it is recognised that the interpretations in Puranaas help in a better understanding of the Vedas. Chandogya Upanishad declares that "ithihaasapuraaanam panchama Vedaanaam Vedham" (Puraanas are the fifth Veda).

The Puraanas are divided into three types 'Saathvic, Raajasa and thaamasa' each comprising six puraanas. Srimad Bhaagavatha being of the sathvic category speaks about the greatness of Lord Vishnu (saathvikeshu puraaneshu maahaathmyamadhikam hareh : Mathsya Puraana : 53/67). The main stories pertain to Sri Krishna, Sri Kapila, Sri Narasimha, Sri Varaaha and other avataaras, all meant to re-establish Dharma : 'Dharmasya hyaapavargasya' (the outcome of Dharma is moksha').

'Virat Swaroopa' of the Lord which appears in this volume is in a way a commentry on Purusha sooktha. This puraana also emphasizes the three routes viz., jnaana, karma and bhakthi yogas as does Bhagavadgita.

In regard to the etymology of the word 'Bhaagavatha', bhaga connotes wealth, desire, greatness, strength etc and the connotation qualifies the Lord only. And the treatise concerns the Lord who is also known as Vaasudeva, Vishnu, Naarayana, Krishna; the Lord is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent; the Vedas declare Him thus: antharbahischha tathsarvam vyaapya naarayanah sthithah'. This puraana deals with Bhagavaan in various ways and expounds His favourite Bhaagavatha Dharma. It elucidates bhakthi towards the Lord, a boat available to reach His feet. The contents of this puraana comprise a number of stories and episodes through each of which Vyaasa muni wishes to drive home a message.

Volume 2

Preface

The first volume of Srimad Bhaagavatha Mahaapuraana was released both in India and the USA. Those who are conversant with this Puraana liked the style of presentation and the size - four skandhas have been covered in the first volume.

Looking back at the circumstances leading to its writing which I covered in some measure in Volume 1, one of the most important happenings got left out. That was my visit to Vyaasa muni's peeta at Naimishaaranya. This is one of the 106 holy places which normally a Srivaishnava visits. The visit took place a year or so before I thought of writing this Puraana. Due to an attack of a funny disease my body flexibility had taken a beating, and I prostrated to the 'peeta' by just bending forward and touching the ground. The pujaari, a learned person, noticing it, encouraged me to try full-body prostration! Not quite confident though, I managed it with effort. He said when the muni is in your midst, what is not possible!

Indeed it is with Vyaasa muni's anugraha only the present volume also has been completed covering five skandhas, 5 - 9. The famous tenth skandha will of course take the pride of place in a single volume. It is also the longest skandha accounting for thirty percent of the total size.

Despite my many commitments writing of this volume was completed expeditiously. As I observed in my first volume, the unseen hand carries your pen through.

I thank the couple, Suresh and Bhaargavi of Arka Creations, for the beautiful DTP work, Shaaradha Prasad for timely printing and Kiran of Graphic Design for an attractive cover. My wife has helped in correction of the draft copies.

Introduction

In the first volume of Srimad Bhaagavatham spanning four skandhas, over ninety stories were presented. The volume in hand, the second in the series covers five skandhas, and as many as 108 stories are narrated. The main stories which are compellingly important for one to read are:

1) Jadabharatha

2) Ajamila

3) Vishwaroopa's teaching of "Naaraayana Kavacha" to Indra.

4) Dialogue between Naarada and Yudhishtira

5) Gajendra Moksha

6) Yayaathi's full story

It does not mean that others are not important but sometimes reading a book leaves behind some memorable aspects/titles in one's mind. All the stories pick up some threads and your knowledge about the Lord and devotion to Him increase strengthening your faith in Him.

With the narration of stories/episodes in the nine skandhas covered so far, including this book, we will be venturing next into the most sacred 'Dashama Skandha' to be with the Lord witnessing all his exploits. It may be mentioned here that one comes across on many occasions speakers choosing to lecture on 'Dashama Skandha' only. We would rather leave it to the reader to find an answer and the prime reason, when he reads that part of Bhaagavatha, the third volume in our case, which will follow in a few months.

Volume 3

Preface

It gives me great pleasure to be able to complete the tenth chapter or 'Dashama Skandha' as it is known of the holy Srimad Bhagavatha Mahaa Puraana. Even listening to one or two stories from the Puraana has great purifying effects on the individual. It is indeed like a 'yajna' to write and complete the Dashama Skandha, which is the most celebrated part of Bhagavatha covering Lord's exploits in reducing the burden of evil on earth.

The tenth chapter, a single skandha, comprises 90 stories/episodes and accounts for almost 30 percent of the entire Bhagavatha puraana. It has episodes related to such well known characters like Kamsa/Chaanora, Shishupaala/Danthavakra, Narakaasura, Banaasura, Poudraka, Shaalva besides sports like Raaskreeda and lifting of Govardhan mountain. What more, we get a glimpse of Lord's life through the eyes of Naaradha who visits as many palaces as he could, of Sri Krishna's 16,000 queens. Depiction of Viraha and attendant outpourings of gopis are a class of the hightest form of bhakthi, a pitch not even attained by 'rishis' and 'munis'. Add to this, Draupadhi's curiosity to know from Sri Krishna's prime queens the episodes of their wedding with Him. All these go to make 'dashama skandha' the most compelling part of this Puraana or all Puraanas, which one should read. One could even say that one should have had earned that great fortune to hear or read the 'Dashama Skandha'.

I am lucky to have enlisted the services of a couple which has become a part of this project and feel so elated to undertake the DTP typesetting. They have indeed earned that great fortune! I thank Smt. Bhargavi Suresh and Sri Suresh of Arka Creations, for 'enjoying' as it were this work. I also thank Sri Sharada Prasad and Suresh of Ganesh Maruti printers for timely printing, and Mahesh and Naveen of Hamsaniketan for an attractive design of outside cover. I pray that Sri Krishna showers His blessing on all the participants of the "yajna'.

Introduction

While talking about the greatness of Srimad Bhaagavatha in the last volume it was stated that we would continue the introduction in subsequent volumes also, as the introduction covering its importance itself could form a big book. We had stopped at Bhakthi devi's quieies to Naaradha regarding Kaliyuga and the muni's reply in terms of 'Yuga dharma'.

Naaradha makes efforts to eliminate Bhakthi devi's sufferings-she had two prematurely graying sons who were lying without energy to get up, named 'jnaana' and 'Vairagya'. He tried to wake up the two children through reciting of Veda /Upanishaad /Gita texts in their ears very closely. They just get up, but due to lethargy and weakness they just went back to sleep! he hears a voice in the air which said: 'Don't you worry, you maharashi! you will succeed in your mission but you will have to undertake a noble task about which some saints will tell you.

Naaradha went in search of the saints and none of the rishis/munis he met could help him; all that they said was it was impossible to accomplish. Totally distraught he decided to undertake tapas and went to Badrikaashrama. To his surprise he found Sanaka and others appear in front of him as though they were like thousands of suns. Naaradha addresses them; 'O! sons of Brahma! it is indeed extremely fortunate that I have met you all. You keep drinking the nector of Lord's stories all the time. Pray tell me as to what task I should undertake. Please explain how Bhakthi, Jnaana and Vairagya can be rejuvenated. '

The Sanakas responded :'0 ! devarashi. Do not pine. Rishis and munis have recommended various ways but they all lead to heaven only. Listen therefore carefully and with calmness. The intellectuals have declared 'jnaana yajna' as the noble route, that being the reading (paaraayana) of Srimad Bhaagavatha sung by Shukamuni and other mahaathmas. If one hears the utterances, Bhakthi-Jnaana-Vairaagya will receive extraordinary strengths. Jnaana and Vairyaagya will overcome their difficulty and will roar like lions; with the result Bhakthi devi will feel elated".

But Naaradha queries them further:

"Efforts to make them listen to veda /vedantha /Gita did not have any effect on them. If that be so how can the method of making them hear Srimad Bhaagavatha wake them up? After all each sloka therein contains 'Vedartha' only. Please clear this doubt.

Greatness of Srimad Bhaagavatha : Sanakas declare

The stories in Bhaagavatha, although being the kernel of Vedas /Upanishads are of the form of 'Phala' (outcome) and therefore they are far more effective. It is just like that for enjoying the sweetness continued in the roots and branches of a fruit-tree, one has to eat its fruit; otherwise it will not be known. Similarly the ghee contained in the milk has to be separated from milk to savour it. So also the juice/sugar contained in the sugarcane. So is the core/kernel of Vedas/Upanishads which is Srimad Bhaagavatha.

It is you yourself who, when Veda Vyaasa was distraught, taught him four 'slokas' from Srimad Bhagavatha and the author of Bhagavad Gita felt relieved. How is it that you yourself are asking about it us now?

Naaradha responds: O!great saints! A moment's 'darshan' of saints like you will eliminate all sins. Those caught in the forest - fire of 'samsaara' will achieve peace immediately. You keep drinking the nectar of Lord's stories from Aadisesha's thousand mouths. I surrender unto you. When a man achieves the fortune of meeting saintly-people then only he will overcome the darkness due to ignorance and ego, resulting in Viveka (wisdom/discrimination).

Naaradha queries further: I shall undertake the 'Yajnaa' to reestablish / rejuvenate Bhakthi, Jnaana and Vairaagya. Pray tell me about the location as to where I should undertake it, the number of days within which it should be recited and how it should be listened to. Please tell me about the whole process.

Sanakas relpy : O! Naaradha! Since you are humble and wise we shall let you know everything about it. Please listen. There is a spot near Hardwaar (Gangaadwaara) known as Anandha! It has been frequented by several rishis, devathas and siddhas. It has a variety of plants, trees and creepers. It has a soft sand bed area. It is having the fragrance wafted by lotus. The area is inhabited by animals like lions and elephants, traditionally enemies, moving about with a friendly attitude. Without any great preparation you can undertake the 'jnaana yajna' there. The 'yajna' will yield lofty rasa and Bhakthi devee will bring her two children fully rejuvenated (we shall continue the story further in our concluding volume, that is, Volume 4).

Contents

Volume 1
Preface i
Contents iii
Introduction ix
The Trail of Srimad Bhaagavatha down the ages xi
Bhagavatha Dharma/Birth of Bhagavatha Puraana xii
Bhagavatha, a nectary fruit descending to this world xiii
Outcome of Partaking in Bhagavatha Sapthaha xiii
Dhyanasloka xiv
The First Skandha
1 The First Story Starts Thus 1
2 The Story of Ashwatthama beheading Draupadhi's sons; and Arjuna's revenge 2
3 Story of Parikshith's Birth 3
4 The Famous Prayer of Kunthi to Lord Krishna 4
5 Yudhishtira's Remorse and Desire to Know Dharma Rahasya from Bheeshma 6
6 The story of Krishna's departure from Hastinaapura and return to Dwaaraka 9
7 Reception to Sri Krishna on reaching Dwaaraka 11
8 The Story Relating to Parikshith's Birth 12
9 Pangs of separation from the Lord, Sri Krishna, resulting in Parikshith ascending the throne 14
10 King Parikshith's all round victories and the dialogue between Dharma and Prithvi 18
11 The story of Parikshith vanquishing Kalipurusha 20
12 The story as to how Parikshith attracts Rishi Shrungi's curse 22
13 Parikshith's remorse following the hunting spree and Praayopavesha: Enter Shukadeva 25
The Second Skandha
14 Bhaagavatha Puraana: Shuka Maharshi's Response 28
15 Virat Purusha's description 30
16 Lord's large and small forms: Departure of a Yogi from this world 32
17 Worshipping lesser Gods and importance of Bhakthi in the Lord 34
18 Parikshith's queries to Shuka Muni on creation (Sootha Puraanika responds to Shaunaka rishi) 36
19 Narration of Creation 38
20 Vibhoothis (worlds) of Virat form (VISHWA ROOPA) 41
21 Lord's Leela Avataras 45
22 Lord's Avataaras in Manvantharas 49
23 Parikshith's several queries 53
24 The story of Brahma Deva seeing The Lord's abode 55
25 Lord's narration of "Chathusloki Bhagavatha" 57
26 Shuka Muni's description of the ten aspects of Srimad Bhagavatha 58
The Third Skandha
27 The Dialogue Between Uddhava and Vidhura and drawing of a parallel with Parikshith's questions 62
28 Uddhava's narration of Lord's sports/miracles to Vidhura 64
29 Dialogue between Vidhura and Uddhava continues 66
30 Bidding farewell to Uddhava: Vidhura goes to see Maithreya 68
31 Vidhura Queries Maithreya: Description of the pattern of creation 71
32 Maithreya's narration to Vidhura: Creation or the birth of Viraat Shareera 75
33 Dialogue between Maithreya and Vidhura 78
34 Creation of Brahma Deva: (Maithreya starts narration of Srimad Bhagavatha) 81
35 Brahma's prayer to the Lord 84
36 Ten types of creation 91
37 Manvantharas and Division of Time: Manvanthara will also be dealt with in fifth Skandha 94
38 Maithreya's Elaboration of Creation 97
39 The Story of Varaahaavataara 102
40 The story of Dithi-Kashyapa's Dialogue 107
41 Jaya and Vijaya earn Sanaka brothers' wrath 110
42 The Episode of the exit of Jaya-Vijaya from Sri Vaikunta 115
43 The story of the birth of Hiranyaaksha and Hiranyakashipu: Former's serial victories 119
44 Hiranyaaksha's fight with Lord Varaaha 121
45 Killing of Hiranyaaksha 124
46 Description of Brahmadeva's multi-faceted creation 127
47 Kardhama Prajaapathi's Tapas and Lord's Bestowing of the Boon 132
48 The auspicious story of the marriage of Devahoothi and Kardhama 137
49 Stories of Devahoothis' service to husband, their holiday tours in a plane built by Kardhama and birth of daughters 140
50 Lord Kapila's Avataara 144
51 Kapila's description of Bhakthi Yoga's Greatness in response to Devahoothi's queries 148
52 The description of the creation of Mahath and different real forms 152
53 Achieving Moksha through understanding of Prakrithi and Purusha 157
54 Asthanga Yoga's Procedure 159
55 Bhakthi Maarga's route and the greatness of time (Kaala) 162
56 Abysmal end met by persons passionate about their bodies and homes 166
57 The Growth of the Egg (Garbha) 169
58 The courses of those travelling through Archiraadhi and Dhoomaadhi Margas and loftiness of Bhakthi Yoga 173
59 Devahoothi acquiring Tathvajnaana and receiving Moksha 177
The Fourth Skandha
60 Swaayambhoo Manu's Daughters: Narration of their lineage 181
61 The story related to Shiva's father-in-law, Daksha, and latter's enmity 186
62 The story of Sathi insisting on attending the yajna which her father was conducting 188
63 The story of Sathi's entering the fire 190
64 a. Veerabhadra Swami destroys the yajna: Killing of Daksha 193
b. Devathas go to Kailaasa to pacify Shiva 195
65 Daksha yajna's repetition and completion 199
66 The episode of Dhruva going to the forest and doing 'Tapas' 208
67 Dhruva returns home after getting boons from the Lord 214
68 Story of Yaksha killing Utthama: Dhruva fights Yakshas 220
69 Swaayambhoo Manu exhorts Dhruva to call off the war 222
70 Story of Dhruva getting boon from Kubera and his reaching Vishnu loka 225
71 Dhruva's lineage: and the story of Anga Mahaaraaja 229
72 The story of king Vena 232
73 The story of Prithu's birth and his installation as emperor 234
74 The story of bards praising the emperor Prithu 236
75 Prithu gets angry with Bhoodevi: Bhoodevi prays to Him 238
76 The story of King Prithu milking Bhoodevi who is in cow form 241
77 Prithu performs a hundred (?) Ashwamedha yajnas 243
78 Indra is jealous of Prithu Chakravarthy 243
79 Story of Lord blessing Prithu in his yajna hall 246
80 Story of Prithu's advice to his people 249
81 Sanakas' exhortation to emperor Prithu 253
82 Story of king Prithu's Great 'Tapas' and journey to Paramapadha 259
83 Prithu's genealogy and Rudra Deva's message to Prachethsa (Yogaadesha) 262
84 The sub-story of Puranjana 270
85 Story of Puranjana 's hunting spree leading to wife's anger 275
86 Side-story of attack on Puranjana's city by Chandavega, the Gandharva king and the story of Kaalakanya 277
87 The story of Puranjana taking birth as a female and getting liberation through teachings of Avinjnaatha 279
88 Messages flowing from Puranjanopakhyaana 284
89 The story of Prachethasas getting a boon from Mahaavishnu and marriage with Maarishe (Vaarkshi) 297
90 Story of Prachethasas attaining Paramapadha following Naaradha's advice 302
Volume 2
Preface i
Contents ii
Introduction ix
Significance of the term 'Bhaagavatha' x
Greatness of Bhaagavatha x
Bhakthi queries him again xii
The Fifth Skandha
1 The Story of Priyavratha 1
2 Episode related to Aagneedhra 3
3 The story of the Lord Rhishaba descending through Naabhi 4
4 The Story of Lord Rishabha 6
5 The Story of Rishabhadeva: Taking to the life of an ascetic 7
6 Rishabhadeva giving up his body 10
7 The story of Bharatha 10
8 The story of Bharatha being reborn as a deer 11
9 The Story of Bharatha's next birth in a Braahmana family 12
10 The story of Jadabharatha meeting King Rahoogana 14
11 The story of Bharatha teaching Rahoogana 17
12 Bharatha's discourse continues: (Material world compared to a forest: queries raised by Rahoogana get clarified) 20
13 Jadabharatha explains hidden meanings to King Rahoogana 23
14 The story of the growth of Priyavratha's family tree 26
15 The world at large: Features 28
16 Descent of Ganga and Shankara's Eulogy of Sankarshana Bhagawaan 31
17 More Varshas in the Universe: A Description 34
18 Concluding Description of Jambhoodweepa: Bhaarathavarsha 37
19 The Other Six Islands and Mountains: Description 40
20 Sun's chariot and description of duration/speeds 44
21 Different planets and their speeds 45
22 Shishumaara, the wheel: A Description 47
23 Raahu's position and description of nether worlds 48
24 Description of Sri Sankarshana and Prayer 52
25 Various stages in Hell 54
The Sixth Skandha
26 Preliminary coverage about Ajaamila 58
27 Vishnu's messengers teach Bhaagavatha dharma to Yamadhoothas: Ajaamila attains the abode of Srimannaaraayana 62
28 Dialogue between Yama and his Dhoothas 65
29 Daksha's eulogy of the Lord and Lord's manifestation 70
30 Daksha's sons take to asceticism following Naradha's teaching: Daksha's curse to Naaradha 75
31 Daksha Prajaapathi's expansion of family: Sixty daughters 79
32 Brihaspathi deserting Indra: Vishwaroopa getting accepted as Acharya by gods 83
33 Vishwaroopa teachers Indra the Naaraayana kavacha 86
34 Vishwaroopa getting killed by Indra: Vruthraasura vanquishing Devathas and at Lord's bidding they meet Dadheechi Rishi 90
35 Devathas acquire Dhadheechi's Bones and make Vajraayudha and vanquish Vrathra's Army 97
36 Vrutthraasura's brave words and his Eulogy to the Lord 99
37 Vruthraasura's End 102
38 Indra enveloped with 'Brahmahathyadosha' 104
39 Vrutharaasura's past History 106
40 Maharshis Naaradha and Angirasa exhort Chitrakethu 110
41 Chitrakethu's realisation: Sri Sankarshana Appears 113
42 Chithrakethu's eulogy of Sri Sankarshana Bhagawaan 116
43 Chithrakethu attracts Paarvathi's curse 119
44 Progenies of Dithi and Adithi and birth of Maruth Gods 122
45 The step-wise account of Pumsavana penance 129
The Seventh Skandha
46 Dialogue between Naaradha and Yudhishtira and the story of Jaya- Vijaya 132
47 Hiranyakashipu pacifying the sorrowing mother and relatives after the killing of Hiranyaaksha 137
48 Hiranyakashipu's tapas and acquisition of boon 141
49 Hiranyakashipu's Cruelties and Prahlaadha's noble qualities 144
50 Hiranyakashipu's attempts to kill Prahlaadha 147
51 Prahlaadha's teaching to Asura boys 153
52 Prahlaadha's narration of teaching from Naaradha while still in mother's womb 156
53 Sri Narasimha's avataara: Killing of Hiranyakashipu: Devathas led by Brahma eulogise the Lord 160
54 Prahlaadha's praise of the Lord Narasimha 167
55 Installation of Prahlaadha as king, and conquering of Tripura 175
56 Manushya dharma, varna dharma and sthree dharma - an enquiry into respective conduct 181
57 Conduct in Brahmacharya and Vaanaprastha aashramas 185
58 Conduct of Yathis (sannyaasis) and a dialogue between Prahlaadha and Avadhootha 189
59 Conduct of a Grihastha 193
60 Right conduct for Grihasthas to achieve moksha 197
Skandha Eight
61 Description of Manvantharas 208
62 The story of the king of elephants getting caught by an alligator 211
63 Gajendra's eulogy of the Lord: Gajendra moksha 213
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