Sunday, February 17, 2008


Today's [18th February 2008] lecture is from the sthala vriksham [temple tree]. Though gooseberry [Tamil- nellikkai] tree is the sthala vriksham, we are beneath a jack fruit [Tamil- palaa] tree, which is famous. It is a very old tree but still seen green. The fruits of these trees are well known for the difficulty and arduousness to take out the fruit and taste them. Like wise, yoga is difficult to practice and get the sweet results. In the tree in this temple, one can notice the Panchajanya conch shape on the trunk. This resembles the conch in the left arm of the Lord. Conch is associated with the sound of pranavam - OM. The Lord here has yet another name - Sri Ambareesha Varadan. Ambareesha was a King in the Ikshvaku dynasty, in which Sri Rama also was born. He lived much earlier to Sri Rama avatar. He was very much interested in yoga and was practicing it. He followed Ekadashi vratham, during which day, occurring every fortnight on the 11th phase of the Moon, he would remain without food and would be concentrating on prayer to God. On the next day he would break the fast, before the prescribed end of Dwadashi or the 12th phase of the Moon, by taking food offered to God. Fasting on Ekadashi and taking food offered to God in Dwadashi is called Ekadashi vratahm. One day on Dwadasi day sage Durvasa visited the King and at the request of the King agreed to be the guest and to take food along with King. The sage went to the river for bathing. The King waited and sage had not returned. He was in a dilemma. If he had to complete that Ekadashi vratham, he had to take food before Dwadasi was over and only a few minutes remained to do that. At the same time, it was not correct to take food without the guest. Knowing sage Durvasa for his instant anger and subsequent curse, King dared not to eat without Durvasa. The King was caught in a dharma sankatam - that is whatever he did might go against one rule or the other in shastras. So he consulted the Royal pundits and other elders and decided to take the water offered to the Lord, so that it could not be considered as food and at the same time, he would complete the Ekadasi vratham. As soon as he took the water, Durvasa came on the spot and realizing that the King had taken water, he became angry and by his power created a demon to kill Ambareesha. The King was granted the Sudarshana discus by the Lord for his protection and the discus sprang into action spontaneously and chased Durvasa after destroying the demon. In fear Durvasa ran all over and the discus would not spare him. After refusal of protection by all gods in all the worlds, Durvasa landed in Vishnu loka and surrendered to the Lord, Who owned the discus. But the Lord advised Durvasa that he should surrender to the King Ambareesha alone for redress. Durvasa came and pleaded apology at Ambareesha, who magnanimously requested Sudarshana to stay away. Thus the Lord rescued Ambareesha and He remains here as Sri Ambareesha Varada. The name Koodalur for this place is also due to the groups of devas who came to worship the Lord, and who were led by sage Nandaka [ koottam in Tamil means groups, and so kooduthal means grouping]. Thus the name Koodalur and since Sri MahaLakshmi is associated, it is called Thirukkodalur. Now the 38th sloka:

kaccin nobhaya-vibhrastas
chinnabhram iva nasyati
apratistho maha-baho
vimudho brahmanah pathi

"O mighty-armed Krishna, does not such a man, who is bewildered from the path of transcendence, fall away from both spiritual and material success and perish like a riven cloud, with no position in any sphere?"

Brahmana pathi = attaining brahmam [atman sakshatkaram], vimudha= incapable of, apratishta = abandoned karma [for inferior pleasures], where is this person's destiny? is the question Arjuna is posing to the Lord. We have to start an action after fully deliberating and after starting we should not abandon it midway, even if obstacles are encountered. Ubhaya = from these two [ atman sakshatkaram and actions for inferior pleasures], vibhrata = slipped, chinna = shattered, abhram iva = like a cloud, kaccin = anyone, na nasyati = will not he get destroyed? Anyone who has slipped from both - atman sakshatkaram and lower pleasures - will he not get destroyed just like the cloud is shattered in the sky? Let us examine why this example of cloud is brought in. We would have observed in the sky different clouds. We would have seen that sometimes, a small cloud piece in a big cloud would separate and travel to join another big cloud. This small piece of cloud travels separately and joins another cloud. But on the way if an air turbulence is there, then this small cloud piece is shattered and is lost totally. Air turbulence does not affect the bigger clouds. Visualizing this example, we have to see what Arjuna tells. We have been doing our worldly affairs and passing life. This is like the first big cloud traveling in the sky. We have been doing so many actions for cheap results like seeking heaven or acquiring more wealth, etc,. From this group, one person gets better wisdom from listening to wiser people or advise of Acharya, etc. He separates and seeks to do yoga and attain atman sakshatkaram. He is like the separated cloud piece. He practices yoga and travels to reach atman sakshatkaram, which is the other big cloud. If he reaches the other big cloud, then there is no problem and he gets atman sakshatkaram and Moksham. But, what if in the way he is caught by desires for cheaper results. This is like the air turbulence shattering the cloud piece. Arjuna wants to know, just like the cloud piece was lost because of air turbulence, will this person also get lost if while doing yoga he stops it for any reason. Nasa in the sloka means, this person, having left the usual actions for cheaper results and unable to continue yoga after doing it for some time, will he get undesirable things or will he not get what he wanted. Brahma pathi means the means to achieve atman sakshatkaram.

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