Then Pujya Swami ji entered into the third canto where Shukadev ji tells Raja Parikshit that the questions that the Raja had asked were also asked by Vidur ji in the past and we got to hear the conversation between Vidur ji and Uddhav ji and later Vidur ji and Maitrey ji. Third canto is about the expansion of the creation and there is also the story of the Varaha Avatar as well as the stories of Jaya-Vijaya and how they are born as Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashyapu. Story of Jaya-Vijaya reminds us that with spiritual practices we can go higher, but if we let that get into our head we will have to suffer great fall.
In this canto Pujya Swami ji also described the family of Manu and Shatrupa. We heard the story of Sati ji. this was followed by the Story of Devahuti and Kardama Rishi and their son Bhagavan Kapila Muni who imparted the knowledge to His mother in the form of Kapila Gita. The last story for the day was Dhruva-charit. Pujya Swamiji personalized this story for us by showing how the King Uttanapada is no different than the Jiva and the two wives are no different than our mind (Suruchi) and intellect (Suniti).
The day ended with an excellent presentation by the San Ramon Balavihar kids depicting the story of Dhruva with an elaborate Audio/Video show including chanting and also tying it all back to current day and age as well.
All Day 2 photos of the Saptah can be seen here:
The 5th Skand, focused on how the lord protects and maintains the world (sthana). The story of Rishabhdev, who relinquished his throne and became an ascetic in the forest following the avdhut dharma ‘sacrificing everything and reveling continuously in the glory of almighty’, had the audience spell bound. Through a beautiful bhajan in his melodious voice, Swamiji took the audience to the realm of one following avdhut dharma, you can listen to the bhajan “Yugun, Yugun, Yogi” (By Sant Kabir Das) in swamiji’s voice below:
Video of Kabir Das Bhajan
The stories in 6th Skand explain how the lord provides special care and protection for devotees who surrender to him (Poshan). The story of Ajāmila showed the glory of chanting lord’s name, as swamiji mentioned ‘the glory of lords name is much bigger than his personification’. Although Ajāmila lived an adharmic life, at the time of death he called for his youngest son Narayana. Hearing his name, the merciful lord sent his four order carriers to rescue him from the hands of the order carriers of lord Yama.
It is in the Seventh Skandha, that Swamiji provided an analysis of inherent tendencies or vasanas of individuals (Utayah). In this chapter, Narada recounted to Yudhishthira the birth of Prahlada, his devotion to lord Vishnu, Hiranyakashipu’s disappointment with his son and his atrocities on Prahlad and insistence on proof of lord’s existence and his end by Narasimha avatara of the lord.
The evening concluded with a beautiful presentation by Fremont Balvihar kids illustrating the story of Bhakta Prahlada and Narsimha avatara of the lord. The presentation was an apt audio visual delight for the audience.
All Day 3 photos can be seen here:
When Lord Vishnu incarnated as Hari, the one who takes away all our sorrows. He rescued the elephant king Gajendra from the strong grip of a fierce crocodile in the lake. Initially Gajendra tried to free himself by his own efforts but was unable to do that even when his friends and relatives joined together to pull him out. It was then that he realized the need to seek God and offered a plucked lotus to the Lord mentally. The Lord immediately appeared after saving the crocodile liberated Gajendra. The reason for saving the crocodile first being that he had held on to the feet of the Lord’s devotee. The Lord goes all out for his devotee. Gajendra here symbolizes the jiva who indulges in sense objects which is water. The crocodile is mrthyu which makes our feet cold. The jiva initially tries using his own efforts to become free in this samsaar of constant change. He soon realizes his limited potential and seeks Bhagwan’s aid. The lesson to assimilate is we should seek him right from the beginning.
In the story of samundara manthana churning of the milky ocean we see a coalition formed between devatas and asuras to attain the nectar of immortality. The Lord assured the devatas that the nectar would be offered to them alone. It was a herculean task to bring the Mandrachala mountain and Vasuki, the snake became the rope to be used for churning. After placing herbs and plants the churning began and initially poison came out and Lord Shiva in all his compassion took it and placed it in his neck. There is a beautiful symbolism on this since Lord Shiva has the name of Lord Rama in his mouth and has Lord Rama’s roopa in his heart. Churning continued and Kamadhenu was offered to the rishis, the horse uchesrava was given to asuras, Airavat the white elephant to Lord Indra. Kaustuba mani went to Bhagwan instantly, kalpa vriksha and apsaras went to heaven. Lakshmyji went to Lord Narayana and finally Dhanwantari devata appeared with a kalash. He was an amsha avatar of Lord Vishnu. The Lord in Mohini avatar came and deluded the asuras and offered the nectar to all the devatas. Rahu, one of the asuras assumed a form of the devata. The Lord cut his head off, but he didn’t die as he had taken a little nectar before. Swamiji with his deep insight brought out profound learning for us with this story. In our lives we have this churning occurring daily. Shirsagar (milky ocean) represents our mind which has both positive (sumati) and negative (kumati) thoughts, churning is the meditation that we try to do. Initially, since negative thoughts are more then only poison comes out which makes meditation very difficult. The herbs that are placed is vedantic shravanam. It is only on that basis that manthan (mananam) can happen. Mandrachala mountain represents the firm determination in the jiva and tortoise that holds the determination firm is our scriptures. Vasuki represents the different questions and answers which arise after mananam. As churning continues many siddhis are attained but we should move past them since that is not the goal we seek. Finally, we attain amrutam that is consciousness. The result is Self Realization. From the empirical level we see that though Lord Vishnu did the entire thing yet devatas and asuras got credit. We should realize God’s power manifesting in us and use it for HIS work.
Lord Vishnu as Vamana Avatar appeared as a brahmachari and asked Bali Raja for three foot of land as charity. With one move he took over everything that belonged to him. With one foot he covered earth, with the next he covered heaven and the third was placed on Bali Raja’s head. The significance here is whatever belonged to Bali was (mama) and his head represents (aham). I and Mine are the root of all problems. When Bhagwan enters our heart, he is very small and gradually grows with devotion. He then leaves no room for ahamkara or mamakara anymore in our lives.
In the 9th canto we learn about the many kings of both the solar and the lunar dynasty. The topic for the canto is Ishanu katha which is glorious stories of Bhagwan and his devotees. In the solar dynasty Lord Vishnu incarnated as Lord Rama as the son of King Dasarath and Queen Kaushalya. He was born on Navami tithi in Chaitra masa. The number 9 represents completeness and fullness as it is the number of Brahman. Bhagwan was born at midday in the palace. Both Lord Rama and Lord Krishna are purna avatars where complete glories and brilliance is manifested. According to the work to be done Bhagwan manifests himself in an avatar. An avatar is a manifestation of Bhagwan in a human form. King Dasarath is one who has his ten sense organs under control. Queen Kaushalya represents good and noble thoughts. Ayodhya represents a heart which has no enmity with anyone. When we become Dasarath then Lord Rama will manifest within us and delight us. The one in whom everyone revels is Lord Rama. His name works as a bridge to connect the jiva with paramatma. As we study Ramayan in detail we get to learn more about our culture and noble traditions. The beauty of Ramayan is that both great scholars and ordinary people can speak about it and enjoy it immensely.
After the first discourse the audience was transported to Ayodhya with a beautiful enactment of the putra kamesti yagna that the yuva kendra performed and the audience witnessed Rama Janma in all its glory. The entire crowd was amazed to see a little kid come out from the yagna kund and hand over the prasad to King Dasarath. We had smoke projected out near the havan kund to create the aura of a yagna. It was sheer delight and true to the words of the scriptures as the Lord manifests he brings delight to our mind and hearts. Swamiji in his melodious voice chanted various Rama bhajans and took the audience to a complete state of bliss and joy. The joyful audience broke into an instant garba to add to the festivities and rejoiced the Lord’s birth.
Ram Janma Play
The audience had an added treat witnessing Krishna Janma in the second half of the play where the yuva kendra enacted the whole scene of the Devaki and Vasudev in prison and how the Lord descends and incarnated in this world as little Lord Krishna. It was unreal to see the bars of the prison doors stretch open as strings to allow Vasudevji to carry little Krishna to Gokul. The show continues where we see Vasudevji crossing Yamuna river enacted by little girls wearing blue dresses and covered with blue sarees. They were rising up and ebbing down like an excited Yamuna ji who wanted to touch the Lord’s feet. The whole audience was completely in awe and mesmerized watching Lord Krishna being carried though the aisles in the hall. You could see tears swelling up and throats choked where people were rejoicing the birth of Lord Krishna. While the audience was captivated with Lord Krishna the scene changed on the stage to Gokul where Yashoda Ma was sleeping after giving birth to a baby girl. After the exchange of the babies the audience witnesses a joyous Yashoda Ma and Nand Baba rocking their Baby to sleep. Swamiji continued the celebrations with beautiful bhajans and drum roll. To add to the festivities, we had little hersheys kisses strewn all over the audience to enjoy. Words cannot do justice to what was witnessed in San Jose. We can only indicate with words. The experience was phenomenal and pure magical. Everything came together so beautifully just like how it is expressed in scriptures where all the five elements purify and await the Lord’s arrival. Days of practice, relentless hard work put together by the devotees made this day so memorable.
All Day 4 photos can be seen here:
If one thought the Saptaha had reached its peak on the 4 th day, the proceedings of the 5 th day disproved that with in the first few minutes. Yes, it’s the day we were eagerly waiting to hear the Leelas of Bhagwan! Swamiji enthralled us with the enchanting stories with their deep spiritual significances and interspersed them with lilting melodious bhajans of Surdasji, Mirabhai and Pujya Guruji. All one had to do was, close the eyes and be transported to the Vraja bhoomi. Bhagwan Krishna’s avatar is a Poorna Avatar – as it was complete with all its 16 kalaas. Unlike the avatars of Kapila or Vamana, Krishna lived and experienced all the samskaaras of a typical Jiva (human), starting with His conception in the womb of Devakima till the day He dropped His body and left the earth. And yet, unlike the jivas, Bhagwan was not just born. He “manifested” in a human form on His own loving will and performed the many Leelas to enchant and protect his bhaktas. It is to be understood that each Leela of Bhagwan can be viewed and understood in one of 3 perspectives – Adhidaivika (as an act of God Himself), Adhibauthika (In worldly terms as heroic acts) and Adhyathmika (as conquering evil tendencies within one-self through spiritual understanding). It is also said that Bhagwan Krishna was not an incarnation, but Lord Narayana Himself.
The grand finale of the 5 th day saptah was the Raas performance by one and all. With Swamiji singing the glory of Bhagwan, the bhaktas danced in joy after hearing Krishna katha. The Sandeepany Ashram was transformed into a Vrindavan !!! Om Shri Krishna Bhagwan ki Jai !!!
Real Meaning of Raas Leela
Swamiji sang a bhajan showing us the path to be free from all the worldly miseries.
The evening proceeded with annihilation of a few more Asuras (Arishthasura & Keshi) and then we came back to Mathura, where Narad ji visited Kamsa first and confirmed that the eighth child who would obliterate him was indeed Krishna. He also visited the lord and prepared him for the series of upcoming events. We learnt about the sports meet up competition that Kamsa organized and how he called Bhagwan and Balram ji to the event using their uncle Akroor Maharaja as the messenger. Finally we heard the story of obliteration of Kamsa. After victory over Mathura, Shri Krishna sent Akroor ji as a messenger to Braj Bhoomi and informed the gopikas, Nand Baba and Devaki Maiya of his well-being and unconditional love for the dwellers of Brij.
The journey through the 10th Canto continued, with the story of Jarasandh. We learnt that he attacked Shri Krishna’s army seventeen times. Bhagwan strategically destroyed his army, each time, while letting him live. Post each attack, lord was left the Asura community weaker and weaker. Jarasandh formed alliance with Kaalyavan in the 18th war, this effort was to no avail either, Bhagwan outwitted him, by taking him to a cave where Muchkund Rishi was resting. Kaalyavan thinking it is bhagwan disturbed the Rishi and was reduced to ashes by the Rishi’s yogic vision.
Next, we moved to ‘Vivah Leela’ of bhagwan. Swamiji recreated the story of Shri Krishna and Rukmini wedding paying tribute to one of the most glorious love story of all times. He read us the love letter that Rukmini wrote to the lord asking him to be her groom and at the same time providing him the strategy to abduct her. He told us how Rukmi wanted to get his sister married to Shishupal while Rukmini’s heart was set on bhagwan. On the day of the wedding, per the plan Bhagwan stole Rukmini ji away in his chariot in front of a huge crowd just outside the Devi Mandir, Rukmi was enraged and followed bhagwan’ s chariot with the intent of hurting bhagwan, however, was disfigured by Lord Krishna and left alone on his sister’s request.
Day 7 was the concluding session of the week long Jnana Yagna of Bhagavata Saptaha by our beloved Swami Advaitanandaji. The heartfelt gratitude and love we have for our Swamiji just can’t be explained, as he has imparted us with the divine knowledge and leaving the devotees for wanting for more.
The day resumed with the 10th Canto and moved on to the 11th and 12th Cantos of Lord Krishna’s life as narrated by Shukdev Maharaj to Parikshitji. By all means if we merge our mind to Krishna, we purify ourselves and one can get to receive deeper meaning in all standpoints of life, may it be social/religious/spiritual/empirical, as we listen to more and more of Lord’s leela. Krishna is free from all finite/conditions. The Lord himself demonstrated dharma by his conduct and actions.
We heard the stories of 7 weddings of the Lord to Satyabhama, Jambavati, Kalindi, Mitravinda, Nagnajiti, Bhadra, and Lakshmana. Through these 7 weddings Bhagavan is telling a deeper meaning of Lakshimipathi, Sripathi, etc. Rukminiji and Bhagavan have never separated just as in Arthanareeswarar, in which Shiva and Shakthi are one and cannot be separated. Bhagavan is Shakthimaan (owner of the power) and Shakthi cannot function by itself without the owner of the possessor. Along came King Satrajit and Shyamantaka Mani story and how Bhagavan freed the 16000 gopikas who were kept captive by Naraksura and Mura (the implied meaning is ego), PaundrakRaja story where we learnt about 4 kinds of liberation (sayujya, saalokya, samipya, saarupya), Jarasand story, Yudhistra’s Rajasuya Yagna and the story of why Sishupal was killed, and the most fascinating story of Sudhama and his remarkable qualities and the mutual love and friendship with Bhagavan and how the grace of the Lord freed him from utter poverty.
Naradiji was curious to know how Bhagavan lived with so many wives and visited Bhagavan. Naradji went to the palace and couldn’t believe his eyes to see Bhagavan’s leela to be everywhere doing various activities at the same time. He completely surrendered to the Lord and worshipped the Lord that you alone can play this Leela of taking so many forms. Swamiji mentioned that Bhagavan’s discipline of daily routine is ideal for all grahasthas. Bhagavan used to get up at BrahmaMuhurtha 4am. He meditates on his true nature/consciousness, free from all states of experience, which is the substratum of the BMI. The order to preference should be given such that, giving up everything, the first thing we are supposed to do is think of Bhagavan. Thoughts of gratefulness to Bhagavan is the best way to start the day. And then comes, helping others, taking shower, having food, etc. Bhagavan performs the following Nithya karma of Sandhyavandanam, Gayathri Japa, Japa to the cows in goshala, and then he goes to Sudharma sabha.
We entered into 11th Canto/Ekadosha Skandha where the topic is mukthi/liberation. This dialogue is quoted by Naradji to Vasudevji, as Vasudevji had a pertinent question on how to remove ignorance. By answering all of the following 9 questions, NavaYogi enlightened RajaNimi. The nine yogis are Kavi, Hari, Anthariksha, Prabuddha, Pipalayana, Avirhotra, Drumila, Chamasaa, Karabhajana.
1.What is Bhagavatha Dharma?
2.Pls explain how many kinds of devotees are there?
3.How to cross over this Maya as it is an obstacle?
4.Pls tell me on how can I overcome this body identification?
5.What is the meaning and Lakshan of Narayan?
6.What is Karma yoga?
7.How Bhagavan incaranates in different forms and what are his leelas and avatars?
8.What happens to those (in reincarnation after death) who don’t do any sadhana?
9.When Bhagavan incarnates, what is the color of his body? What are his names? How devotees worship the different avatars?
We saw in detail about the 24 Gurus as told by Dattatreyaji to Yaduraj. The 24 Gurus are Earth, Air, Sky, Fire,Sun, Pigeon, Python, Sea, Moth, Elephant, Ant, Fish, Pingala, Arrow-maker, playful Boy, Moon, Honeybee, Deer, Bird of Prey, Maiden, Serpent, Spider, Caterpillar and Water. Dattareyaji has learned to shake off all the worldly desires from each of the creation in the world. Bhagavan quoted this to Uddhava in Uddhava Gita. Bhagavan liberated many others in Dwaraka and Bhagavan gave away his own form.
Swamiji explained on how Shukhdevji helped Parikshitji depart his body on the last day of his narration of Lord’s leela. Shukhdevji asked Parikshitji to drop this thought of Pashubuddhi (animalistic tendency) of I am going to die. And he asked Parikshitji to meditate on Bhagavan and concentrate on all that he has heard so far about the Lord. Parikshitji exactly did that, and departed from his body. It is said that the devatas did the pushpak abhisheka and even the devatas have seem to have quoted that one must learn on how to leave this body from Parikshitji.
Shukdevji explained the dharma of Kali Yuga and Nama sankeerthanam is the cure to all problems of this Yuga. Of the 4 pralayas (Naimithya, Prkrutha, Nithya, Athyanthika), Athyanthika pralaya is the most important. That is with knowledge one can destroy ignorance.
Swamiji concluded the Saptaha and was so delighted about the success of the whole program and dedicated it at the feet of Bhagavan. He was so happy that it kindred the love for Bhagavan in all those who participated in it. He especially thanked the Yajamans of the program – Mukhya, Utsav, Prasad and Arati Yajamans. He also thanked all the sevaks of CMSJ who made this a grand success.
Jnana Yagnas are very special by its nature and it is a great privilege to be a part of them in some way. This Yagna was extraordinary, because of our dear Swamiji’s beautiful narration of the Bhagavatam, listening to Lord’s many leelas and understanding the deeper vedantic meanings of each, his mesmerizing and soul-stirring bhajans everyday moved us all. The discourses were so nicely complemented by the amazing enactment and performances that brought life to the stories described by Swamiji. We can’t thank enough to the crew that worked behind the scenes- the delicious dinner (feast!) along with evening snacks and hot chai served everyday with love by the kitchen team, the meticulous planning and coordination by the events team which made the program flow smoothly, the aesthetic decorations on the dais and altar with fresh flowers and malas that prompted many to take pictures of the Lord, and the audio/video/web crew, bookstore, etc. It was pure delight to see every sevak to have sprung into action in some way or the other. It is indeed a collective effort by one and all and devotees felt the gratitude for all those who made this event possible. We also quickly realized that things of this much grandeur is possible only through Ishwara sankalpa, and everyone felt blessed to be a small instrument in this large play.
One could say that it will never be enough listening to the glories of Bhagavan. It is with a heavy heart we all had to accept the reality that the Yagna had concluded. But at the same time, devotees experienced pure happiness, contentment and bliss as we assimilated on Swamiji’s teachings, humming the beautiful melodies sung by Swamiji such as Om Namo Bhagavathe Vasudevaya, Govardhana Giridari and many many more! All these will continue to ring in our ears non-stop in all our actions that ensue, and isn’t that the higher purpose to always revel in the Lord and chant his nama. Om Namo Narayanaya!