I do hope that you are enjoying the stories from the Shrimad Bhaagvad. Some of you have expressed to me that they are not so easy to understand. Please believe me when I tell you that the Scriptures have made a promise that they will unravel their wisdom to those who will persevere in reading them, even though they may not understand them initially. I have taken pains to make it as comprehensive as possible. Would you read them twice. Or put it in a folder and read them whenever you are more receptive.
If you are a Hindu, you owe that much to the great Sages who we owe a debt, for penning these great truths. In the case of the Shrimad Bhaagvad the author is Ved-Vyaas. Ved-Vyaasji felt dejected despite the fact that he had composed Great works like the Mahaabhaarata.
Naaradji told Ved Vyaas that even though the Sage had pondered over great truths, he had not sung the praises of Shri Krishna. He must feel love and devotion in order to experience ‘Peace of Mind” It was then that Ved-Vyaasji wrote the Great Puraana, The Shrimad Bhaagvad. Have I convinced you to read it? At least read the brief version, the way I perceive it.
ATMADEV AND DHUNDHULA–SOUL MIND AND INTELLECT
On the banks on Tungabhadra river, lived a Brahmin by the name of Atmadev with his wife Dhundhula.
Atmadev was a good man whereas his wife left a lot to be desired. They were childless. Atmadev was unhappy due to the above fact and decided to end his life.
A wise Sage explained to him that there was no reason for him to be so dejected. If Atmadev had not been granted any children, he should be content, as he had no additional responsibilities to shoulder. The Sage clarified that maybe the Lord wanted Atmadev to devote that much more time and energy Spiritual pursuits.
When Atmadev was adamant about fathering a child, the sage felt sorry for him and hence presented him with a fruit. The sage told Atmadev to give the fruit to his wife who would then conceive.
Let me digress at this point to point out to you, that the stories in the Shrimad Bhaagvad though simple, sometimes border on the unbelievable and absurd. However when looked at from a deeper perspective, fall into the slot of ‘Deep Truths’.
To continue with the narration:
When Atmadev gave the fruit to Dhundhula, his wife, the latter gave it to a cow, because she did not want to go through the trouble of pregnancy.
Then Dhundhula proceeded to enter into a pact with her sister, who was pregnant at the time. The sister promised to give Dhundhula the child that she was carrying, and asked her in the meantime, to feign pregnancy. Dhundhula’s sister at the appropriate time gave birth to a son, which Dhundhula claimed to be her own The child was named Dhundhukaari and as his, and his mother’s name suggests they both had dark corrupt tendencies.
Since the fruit given by the Sage was given to a cow, the cow had a child, who was human, except for his ears which betrayed his ‘cow parentage’. His name was kept ‘Gokaran’ The latter grew up to be an epitome of wisdom and kindness.
THE SYMBOLISM SO FAR:
Atmadev: means Pure Spirit
The Sage stands for the guru, by whose Grace we achieve a son.
The ‘Son’ stands for ‘Vivek’ or the Power to discriminate.
Dhundhula (Atmadev’s wife) is the mind.
Dhundhula’s sister stands for ‘Intellect with no Wisdom’
When the mind listens to only the intellect, without the use of the ‘power to discriminate’, one learns to deceive the world.
That is what Dhundhula and her sister did. The child that is born through deceit is Dhundhukaari.
Later in the narrative it is mentioned that Dhundhukaari fell prey to bad habits and lived with 5 prostitutes, who eventually brought him total ruin. These 5 prostitutes stand for the 5 senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch) that Dhundhukaari was a slave to.
It is written that Dhundhukaari used to eat with the hands of a corpse. A corpse’s hand cannot provide any subsistence. One who does not perform good deeds with his/her hands, is no better than a corpse.
Observing the misdeeds of his son, Atmadev felt that having no child would have been better, than having fathered the son that he had.
Dhundhukaari started to ill-treat his parents while he frittered away their wealth.
Not surprisingly Gokaran, the humanlike son of the cow, gave solace to Atmadev.
Gokaran told Atmadev not to feel too unhappy due to the misdeeds of Dhundhukaari as the world is dream-like, and nothing is permanent and worth fretting over. Even the body in which one resides is not ours forever, so what to speak about our possessions? Gokaran further advised Atmadev, to proceed to the forest and devote his life towards Spiritual progress. He urged Atmadev to chant the Lord’s name, meditate and spend time pondering over the scriptures.
Please note how, words of wisdom are threaded within the story.
The Shrimad Bhaagvad, comprises of simple stories for the lucid of heart and intellect. But if one looks beyond, one not only encounters symbolic meanings, but wisdom incomparable.
Continuing the story: Atmadev proceed towards the banks of the River Ganga and spent his time in Divine contemplation. In the meanwhile, the going-on in the household so disturbed Gokaran, that he too proceeded towards the forest in Spiritual pursuit.
Dhundhukaari vied his time with wine and women. In order to keep the prostitutes satisfied, Dhundhukaari stole ornaments to give them to the prostitutes. The latter feared, that were Dhundhukaari to be caught for his misdeeds, the prostitutes also would be in trouble. Hence they strangled Dhundhukaari.
When death did not come easy, they burned him alive.
As I mentioned before, the prostitutes are symbolic of the senses. One pampers ones senses all ones life and it is eventually ones senses that are responsible for ones own downfall.
When Dhundhukaari died, he was unceremoniously interred without any prayers or rituals.
Because of unfinished desires and evil tendencies that Dhundhukaari possessed, he found no peace after death. He became a wandering spirit who found no place in the world of the living or the dead.
When Gokaran heard of Dhundhukaari’s death he immediately performed some prayers for the salvation of his soul.
When Gokaran returned home at night, he heard someone crying. When he asked who was weeping, Dhundhukaari replied that it was he, because he was repentant of his evil ways during his lifetime.
Gokaran wanted to do something for the salvation of Dhundhukaari’s soul. He asked Suryanarayan for advice as to what he could do. Suryanarayan recommended the recital of the Shrimad Bhaagvad.
Family and friends should be invited to derive benefit as well.
During the first day of the narrative of the Shrimad Bhaagvad, Dhundhukaari sat in the lowest knot of a bamboo stick.. Everyday of the recital, the bamboo knot got untied, and Dhundhukaari moved up to the higher one. On the seventh day of the narration the last knot came untied. Dhundhukaari emerged as a radiant being.
Dhundhukaari was grateful to Gokaran for having been instrumental to his liberation. The 7 knots of the bamboo stick are symbolic of 7 desires and attachments, which man must overcome if he wants to proceed on the path of Liberation. These 7 attachments are towards ones mate, child, home, city, society, material wealth and position. One is bound to our attachments by passion, anger, greed, ego, jealousy, ignorance and emotions.
Next time you attend a Shrimad Bhaagvad recital in honor of a departed soul, notice the 4 bamboo sticks tied on the four corners of the Kathaakaar (The narrator).
The story of Parikshit, Bhakti, Atmadev recount the Greatness of the Shrimad Bhaagvad.
All Hindu Scriptures devote their first part to tell us about the ‘Mahaatmya’ of the Great Book that we are about to study.