Bhagavad Gita is the essence of Mahabharatha. We are going to study the sweet portion of Gita in Chapter 7. Bhakti is the sweetest of all yogas. From this Chapter Sri Krishna is going to tell about Bhakti yoga. Such an essence naturally has to be started from a saram [essence] of Kshetrams. Theefore, we are at Thirucherai Kshetram. It is called Panchasara Kshetram. In the 40 Chola region Divya Desam, temple of Sri Saranatha Perumal has a unique place. Thirumangai Alwar has praised this Kshetram in ten pasurams [7.4]. It is called Panchsara kshetram because it has Five saram - Sara vimanam, Sara pushkarini, Sara kshetram, Saranayaki Thayar and Saranatha Perumal. Today's [10th March 2008] lecture is from the
By viewing the Vimanam our blemish in the mind and the sins sticking to our atman will surely be removed. Below the Vimanm, Sri Saranatha Perumal is gracing the devotees. This Kshetram got its fame because of river Kaveri. Once in the valley of Vindya mountains, the Seven rivers were strolling as girls. At that time a gandharva [heavenly male] Viswavasu came and folded his hands in respect to them. This triggered an argument among all the girls, as whom the gandharva respected and folded his hands. While Yamuna, Sarasvati, Narmada moved away without much argument, Ganaga and Kaveri were engaged in fierce argument. Both of them went to Brahma to mediate and judge. Since Brahma knew the greatness of Ganga, as it originated from the toes of the Lord when He took the Gigantic Sri Trivikrama form in His Sri Vamana Avatar. So he decided that Ganga was superior and so gandarva had respected Ganga. Angered by this judgement, Kaveri requested Brahma to suggest a way so that Kaveri should be as famous as, if not greater than, Ganga. Brahma advised Kaveri to go to this Kshertram and meditate on the Lord, Who will help Kaveri to get her desire fulfilled. Accordingly, Kaveri meditated here for a long time. The Lord in the guise of an infant appeared. Thirumangai Alwar in one of his pasurams says Mamadhalai [ma =great, madhalai = infant]. Kaveri could not identify the Lord. Then the Lord appeared in Viswaroopam, gigantic form. Kaveri was not able to identify that also. Then the Lord appeared as the Lord of Vaikunta and Kaveri identified and worshiped. The Lord appeared with Sri Sridevi, Sri Bhoodevi, Sri Neeladevi, Sri MahaLakshmi and Sri Saranayaki Thayar. Her pride gone, Kaveri instead of request for a boon to be equal to Ganga, she prayed that the Lord should permanently be in this Kshetram in this form and grace the devotees. The Lord not only granted her request but made Kaveri equal to Ganga in sacredness. He said she would touch the feet of the Lord, when He was to take abode in Srirangam as Sri Ranganatha. From that time she as mother Kaveri is in this Kshetram worshiping the Lord with His Consorts. Can we locate a more appropriate Kshetram for starting Chapter 7? It is a pleasure to worship the Lord here. Everyone should make it a point to visit this Kshetram. We will now see sloka 1 of Chapter 7. We saw some steps involved in Bhakti.
- We get knowledge about God. This is gyana.
- This drives us to think and ponder. This is chintan.
- Chintan is prolonged. This is Dhyanam.
- Dhyanam, when continues uninterrupted, becomes Smrithi.
- Love and affection mingled in Smrithi, becomes Bhakti.
mayy asakta-manah partha
yogam yunjan mad-asrayah
asamsayam samagram mam
yatha jnasyasi tac chrnu
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Now hear, O son of Pritha, how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt."
Sri Krishna calls Arjuna to listen to the knowledge of Bhakti. Mayyi = only in Me [Sri Krishna], asakta mana = mind directed, madasraya = considering Me [Sri Krishna] as the only support, yogam yunjan = beginning yoga. With mind directed towards Sri Krishna and considering Him as the only support, start Bhakti yoga. Samagram = completely, asamsayam = with no doubts whatsoever, Mam = Me [Sri Krishna], yatah jnasyasi = by that [knowledge ] understand, chrnu = listen to. Sri Krishna is going to teach Arjuna that knowledge by which one could understand the Lord without any doubt. Sri Krishna tells Arjuna to listen carefully without mind getting distracted anywhere else. This shows the importance of the lecture He is to make henceforth. Last Six Chapters were all about atman and from now on He is going to tell about Himself -Paramatma. Therfore, not only Arjuna, but everyone studying Gita should attentively and with enthusiasm listen, now on. We are going to enjoy the elixir of Bhakti. We will get happiness and peace of mind. With mind devoted in Him and with belief that He is the support, Bhakti yoga is to be started. Bhakti is identified by tears rolling from the eyes, voice quivering, goosebump felt and body trembling, as the thought of God comes to mind. Bhaktas may appear as insane, but their knowledge about God is clear and in fact it is others who are mad after worldly matters. Nammalwar says that just the thought of His birth and the way He was brought up, simply melt his heart. Whatever the Lord does drives the Alwar to ecstasy. Bhaktas believe His simplicity and His greatness without any doubt.