Monday, November 12, 2007


There is a sloka which says which are the means to reach the Lotus feet of the Lord in various yug. In Krita yug it is by meditation. In Thretha yug, it is yagna and homam. By Archana in Dwapara yug. Persons living in respective yug were endowed with necessary lifespan, health and other facilities. We can notice these are decreasing with time. Lifespan was maximum in Kruta yug and this reduced in Thretah yug. Similarly, the enthusiasm to do a thing. To suit this declining effect, the means to reach Him also gets simpler and easier. Meditation practiced in Krutha yug is very difficult to practice now, in Kali yug. We find it difficult to concentrate our mind even for a short while. To sit with legs folded in Padmasana, is impossible for many. So, the Lord Himself has shown an easier method and that is Nama sankeerthanam or singing His names in praise. The names of the Lord have the effect of converting hell into heaven. When we talk of Nama snkeerthanam, we are reminded of Sri Vishnu sahasranamam. Today's [13th November, 2007] is from the spot where Sri Vishnu sahasranama sthothram was born. Bheeshma reclining on a bed formed by arrows in the battle field, preached Sri Vishnu saharanamam to Yudhishtra and his brothers in the presence of Sri Krishna. This place is called Bheeshma kundam or Bheeshma ghat. When Yudhishtra had some doubts on Dharma, it was Sri Krishna , Who pursuaded him to seek the advice of Bheeshma. More important are the words of His devotees than His own words. That is why in the earlier slokas, He told that one should humbly seek an Acharya and by serving them learn about atman. Obeying this advice Yudhishtra prostrates his grand father and respectfully puts his questions for clarification [kimekam deivatam loke...]. He asks what is the best means to get out of this samsaram [ life of birth cycles]? Bheeshma replies, Jagat prabhum deva devam anantam purushottamam. He says singing His names is the only way to get rid off samsaram. He then lists the various names of the Lord. In the entire 0.125 millions sloka of Mahabharatha, essence is Gita and Sri Vishnu sahasranama. Gita is His words while, Sahasranama is words in praise of Him. Sahasranamam is like an expert goldsmith's work of creativity and is beautifully composed in a grand sequence. In this pilgrimage we are at the last leg of travel and we were all blessed to recite Sri Vishnu sahasranamam here. Gita was born at the start of the war and Sahasranamam was born at the end of the war. Now the 41st sloka:

atmavantam na karmani
nibadhnanti dhananjaya

"One who acts in devotional service, renouncing the fruits of his actions, and whose doubts have been destroyed by transcendental knowledge, is situated factually in the self. Thus he is not bound by the reactions of work, O conqueror of riches."

Dhananjaya = Arjuna, na karmani bandhanti = that person is not bound by karma or actions, atmavantam= the one who has acquired knowledge about atman, yoga = intellect [buddhi of seeing karma in gyana and vice versa, gyana part of Karma yoga is superior to the action part], na sanyasta karmanam = he has abandoned karma. We may wonder how Sri Krishna , Who has been encouraging to do Karma, has suddenly here states to abandon Karma? Actually, here He means abandoning mere ritual Karma. That is karma done without atman gyana is to be abandoned. Gyana = knowledge, sanchinna = removed or cut off, samsayam = doubts. By acquiring the atman knowledge, one cuts off all doubts. Atmavantam = good natured person. He has no doubts and so his mind is clear and so becomes good natured. He is quite clear and resolute about the nature of atman. Atman is different from body, atman is atomic, atman is eternal, atman is superior, atman can not be destroyed, atman is an embodiment of gyana and ananda and atman is servant of God. These thoughts refine and cultivate one's mind and so he becomes good natured. So three things have to be remembered. With the atman knowledge, he will never perform inferior and cheap actions and will do karma with atman knowledge. Secondly, with this knowledge he cuts off all the doubts. Thirdly, therefore, he is having clear and unshakable mind. When such a person emerges, he is not bound by the papa punya of any karma. He is still alive in this world but is unaffected by the papa/ punya. Fire destroys costly things and garbage in the same way. We do not distinguish the fire which destroyed costly articles and call it a superior fire to the fire which burnt away garbage. Fire remains same whatever is burnt by it. Similarly, the person who has acquired atman gyana, is unaffected by karma. Gita and Sahasranamam are synonymous and we should make it a point to visit this place and chant as many times possible Sri Vishnu sahasranamam. At least by remembering this place everyone can chant from their respective places.

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