Dhruva Wages War – Part One

Dhruva’s brother Uttama was unmarried when a powerful god from the mountains killed him while he was hunting. His mother searched after him and met a similar fate. When Dhruva heard that his brother had been killed, he gave himself up completely to revengeful anger and grief. On his victorious chariot, he went to the realm of those powerful gods.

King Dhruva went north into the lands of Rudra’s followers. There, in a snowy Himalayan valley, he saw a city full of mysterious beings. Dhruva blew mightily on his conchshell, filling all the directions with its roar. The mysterious sub-gods were alarmed and shocked. Angered by the conch’s declaration of threat, the sub-gods came out from their city in armies, armed with weapons and prepared for war.

Dhruva, an excellent warrior and fierce bowman, began killing them; shooting each one with three simultaneous arrows. Seeing these arrows marked straight and sure for their foreheads, they knew they were doomed and thought highly of Dhruva’s skill.

Like trampled serpents, they struck back at him – each one shooting six simultaneous arrows. Then, the loosed thirteen ten-thousands of clubs, blades, spears, lances, pikes, and other weapons, like arrows with amazing feathers. They ferociously wanted to drench him, his chariot, and his charioteer, in a downpour of death. Uttānapāda’s Son could not even be seen in that incessant shower of weapons, like a mountain hidden by incessant storms.

The Siddha Gods had gathered in the heavens to see what was going on. They began to cry, “No! No!” when Mānu’s grandson disappeared like the Sun setting into the ocean.

The gods shouted in victory, but then, from amidst all their destruction, Dhruva’s chariot charged forward, like the sun bursting through the mist. They tried to attack him again, but the twang of his bow routed their confidence, as his arrows destroyed their weapons like the wind destroys clouds. Those arrows pierced their armor and viciously stabbed the bodies of those Rakṣa-gods – like thunderbolts smashing into mountains.

The battlefield overflowed with rent and torn bodies: heads with precious earrings, legs like golden palm trunks, arms with fancy bracelets… very valuable necklaces, armlets, crowns and turbans, which had delighted the heroes who wore them, were now strewn everywhere. The Rakṣa soldiers who somehow survived the onslaught of the greatest Kṣatriya fled from the battlefield, almost dead, like wounded elephants fleeing from a victorious lion.

Comment: Its strange how Dhruva had previously been so purified that he lost all anger and enmity. But about 10 years later became so uncontrollably enraged that he attacked a whole city. In the next chapter, his grandfather Svāyambhuva Manu will chastize him sternly for this.

Translation of Śrī Bhāgavata 4.10.1 ~ 20

by Vraja Kishor dās


Please Donate to Translate A Simple Gītā into Japanese

Dear Friends,

Please allow me to beg for whatever financial assistance you would kindly provide.

Many of you know that I have written the book A Simple Gītā, and it has been very warmly recieved. I live in Japan and am now working with a Japanese lady who is a longtime devotee (Tapasvinī devī dāsī) to translate A Simple Gītā into Japanese. We have successfully translated to the end of Chapter Seven so far. Tapasvinī is a responsible woman with modest financial needs, and I happily give her donations for the vast amount of time and energy she is devoting to this work. My financial situation recently changed, however, leaving me unable to continue doing so.

This is why I am turning to you for help. Please use this page {www.VrajaKishor.com/donate.php } to contribute to this project. No donation would be too small or too big.We expect the project will be completed in 5 months.

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Your servant,
Vraja Kishor das

Wealth is but a Side-Effect

Dhruva’s Life as a Prince

Everywhere the city was decorated to welcome Dhruva. The houses adorned their arches with glittering dolphin-shark Makaras, and pillars of banana trees bedecked with bunches of fruits and flowers, and fresh betel nuts – all collected from the nearby groves. Lamps were lit at each door, alongside fresh pots of water, and hanging strands of mango-leaves, flags, and pearls. Oleander flowers ornamented the city walls and gates, and the walls of the city’s houses. Their towering golden spires glittered.

Everything was clean: the parks as well as the roads. The benches alongside the lanes were coated in sandalwood and furnished with offerings of puffed rice, grains of rice and barley, and fruits and flowers.

When the women of the city saw Dhruva on the paths, they would throw mustard seeds and barley grains, sprinkle drops of yoghurt and water, shower flowers and auspicious soft grass, and offer him fruits. With motherly affection, those gentle ladies pronounced blessings and sang songs to Dhruva. Hearing their beautiful singing, Dhruva entered his father’s palace.

His father and he constantly relaxed together like celestial gods in that exquisite palace adorned with clusters of precious stones. His bed was like the soft white foam of milk, and was decorated with ivory and gold. His seat and furniture were made from very valuable woods and decorated with the finest gold. The marble walls were inlaid with great sapphires and adorned with iridescent jewel-lamps, held by beautiful jewel-maidens.

The delightful gardens of the palace had ever-flowering trees, couples of birds and peacocks, and honey-intoxicated humming bees. The palace lakes had stair-banks carved from cats-eye stone and were opulent with white and blue lotus, lilies, swans, ducks, geese and cranes.

The philosopher-king Uttānapāda himself was amazed to see all this opulence. When Nārada explained that it was due to the greatness of his son, he become extremely delighted and wonder-struck.

When Dhruva became fifteen the King took the approval of his beloved citizens and ministers and made Dhruva the ruler of the world. Recognizing himself as entering old-age, the protector of the world gave up all attachments and departed for the forests, intent on his spiritual destination.

Comments: Uttānapāda was amazed to see how opulent his capitol and palace had become since Dhruva’s return. He heard [from Nārada] that it was due to the prabhāva of Dhruva. Dhruva was dear to Viṣṇu, all opulence follows naturally. Then why don’t all mahā-bhāgavatas live in jeweled palaces? Dhruva specifically had a material desire for worldly opulence, therefore Viṣṇu blessed him to recieve it. Those exalted sādhus who live without such fanfare (for example the Six Goswāmīs of Vṛndāvana) should be understood to be even more enriched.

This, however, is an important lesson for religious institutions (ISKCON, et. al): money does not come by seeking money. Money comes when Viṣṇu actually wants us to have it. Thus the best fundraising is deep and sincere sādhana.

Another important lesson for religious institutions is that the King himself seeks blessings from his subjects. This is far different from the dynamic in most hierarchical institutions where the individual subjects are silenced and the king/s says and does whatever he/they want, ordering the subjects to accept it or accept exile.

Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 4.9.54 ~ 67 [end of chapter]

Translated by Vraja Kishor dās

see: VrajaKishor.com

Is Love Māyā?

Someone sent me this question:  I just finished the 3rd canto of the bhagavatam. Why does it say women/family life are maya? I want to find the girl who is right for me, as you did. But I also want to avoid maya. I don’t understand. If you could answer that’d be awesome.

My reply:

I think you’re talking about this section of Bhāgavatam (3.31.33~42), where Kapila informs his mother that husbands are like hunters setting traps, and so on.

When I was studying that section of Bhāgavatam my Sanskrit and Philosophy teacher reviewed my notes on it and said something like, “Yes, but if someone reads only this they will think that the solution is to give everything up – but this is not the solution Kapila will present.”

If you just focus on the section you are probably focusing on, you will get the wrong idea about how to get out of māyā. Kapila’s solution to getting out of māyā is just after this section, at the end of chapter 31. Here it is. Please read it carefully, slowly, a few times. It is subtle, and it is different than what a lot of people out there will tell you, so read it patiently and with faith that it is Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and the words of Kapila Deva.

To help a little, I’ll try to explain a little. Kapila says that we cannot run away from māyā, but we can learn to interact with māyā in a way that promotes enlightenment rather than illusion.

Here is the really relevant section:

Warmly, Kapila explained, “Mother, if you keep your inner thought focused on your true destination as a living being, then you will be able to move about this world of hunter’s songs and death traps without becoming allured and ensnared by the negativity of it all.”

Taking hope, she would ask, “How should I do that? How should I keep my inner thought focused on my true destination as a spirit soul?”

“By seeing the world in the right way!” Kapila said. “Not by running away from the world, but by seeing it correctly. Not by running away from a beautiful wife, handsome husband or loving child, but by seeing them all correctly.”

“What is the ‘correct’ way to see them?” She would ask.

“Look upon the world, but look upon it through the eyes of wisdom,” he explained. “Put your wisdom into practice! That is the proper way to deal with this potentially horrible world, and transform it into a truly positive experience. If you put your wisdom into practice you will become empowered with natural and effortless detachment from the world. This will enable you to interact with the physical, sensual realm in a disciplined, controlled way.”

Love and relationships in this world are not the source of bondage. Selfish desire is the source of bondage, and selfish desire hijacks our love and relationships. We are not supposed to discard love and relationships we are supposed to discard selfish desires, and gradually learn how to relate with our friends, spouse, family, etc. in a way that is service-oriented, generous, unselfish, giving, LOVING in the real sense of the word.

All religious strictures, disciplines, etc. are meant to facilitate this way of interacting with the world, and it is the subject of the first six chapters of Bhagavad Gītā, and is known as karma-yoga.

If you have very, very strong bhakti-realization as a result of extensive bhakti-yoga in previous lifetimes, you will not need karma-yoga. Even still you may adopt it out of convenience or convention, or to set a good example for the rest of us, who do need karma-yoga as a stepping stone to jñāna-yoga, both of which support and are subsumed within real and sincere practice of bhakti-yoga. Even if you practice karma-yoga, you will practice karma-miśra-bhakti-yoga, not karma-yoga literally. Karma-miśra-bhakti is bhakti in which karma-yoga forms an initial support. So you will advance by cultivating strong bhakti. This will enable your selflessness in worldly relationships. In all cases, the most important practice is to read Bhāgavatam carefully under realized guidance, and to chant nāma-japa with significant effort on true focus, and to take shelter of nāma-kīrtan.

Destiny will send you a good romantic companion. Learn how to relate to her without selfishness, for her service. As you get the hang of that, it will be very easy to sincerely and deeply inter-relate in the service of the divine. Thus hearing Bhāgavatam, and doing nāma-japa/kīrtan will be the way forward as well as the goal. Do not worry too much about anything else, “should I this? Should I not that? Should I feel X or Y?” These are distractions from the main practice, the essence. Nām and Bhāgavatam.

That’s my practical advice, as a result of what I’ve learned and experienced. I hope it serves you well.

Dhruva’s Return

When Nārada told the king that his son was returning, the kind could not believe it. “How can a bad person like me get such good fortune?” He thought it was like hearing that someone was coming back from death.

But how could he not believe Nārada, the sage of gods? So, he became overwhelmed with eager joy. In great delight he gave an extremely valuable pearl necklace to Nārada.

He rushed out to meet his son, on his best gold-decorated chariot, yoked to his finest horses, surrounded by the wise, the elders, the ministers, and family. Conches and drums resounded, along with flutes and mantras, as the procession left the city.

The king had lovingly escorted Dhruva’s mother Sunīti into her own palanquin, and she escorted her co-wife Surci and her son Uttama to sit by her side. The queens were beautifully ornamented in golden jewelry.

Seeing his son coming towards them from a nearby grove, the king quickly got off his chariot and ran towards the boy, overwhelmed with love. He embraced the child in his arms for a long time, sighing with a thrilled heart. He noticed that the boy was very different, for all fetters of impurity had been vanquished when he touched Viṣṇu’s feet. The king kept his nose in Dhruva’s hair, while a shower of cold tears from his eyes bathed his son. The king’s most cherished desire had been fulfilled.

Dhruva respected his father’s feet and received his flood of benedictions and questions.

Then he bowed his head to his two mothers. He retained no hatred for Suruci, because he was the best of the civilized, spiritual people. Sunīti fainted, while Suruci picked up the little boy at her feet and embraced him. Her voice was choked with tears as she stammered a blessing, “Jīva” (trying to say ciran jīva, “live long”). Although she had embarrassingly lost her hold on the king as a result of this boy, still she couldn’t help express her affectionate respects to Dhruva. Water automatically flows downward, and it is just as natural and automatic to feel respect and friendship towards anyone who is respected and befriended by All-Attractive Hari.

When the brothers, Uttama and Dhruva, saw one another, they became overwhelmed with love, and embraced one another over and over again as they shed downpours of tears with hairs standing on end.

When Sunīti embraced her child, her boy who was far dearer to her than breath, the touch of his body freed her at last from all her worries. The mother of that hero bathed him in the auspicious water of her tears and the milk that flowed from her breasts.

All the people joyfully told the queen, “Thanks to destiny, you have regained the boy you lost for such a long time. He will destroy all our suffering and protect the earthly kingdom! You are certainly a devotee of the All-Attractive, who protects his devotees from all misfortune. By your meditation on him, you prevented your son from dying. This is an amazingly accomplishment.”

As the people expressed their joyful praises, the King placed Dhruva with his brother atop an elephant, and they all returned to the city amidst delightful celebration.

Śrīmad Bhāgavata 4.9.37 ~ 53

Translated by Vraja Kishor dās

see: VrajaKishor.com

Spiritual Regrets and Medicine for the Dead

After offering his own place, Dhruva’s adored All-Attractive returned to his own abode, riding like a flag atop Garuḍa, as the boy looked on with regrets. Dhruva vows to worship Viṣṇu’s feet had borne fruit and he was now relieved of those difficult strictures, yet he was not very happy as he returned home.

When Vidura heard this from Maitreya he became confused and asked, “In a single lifetime he achieved the extremely rare treasure of affectionately worshipping Hari’s feet in his supreme abode, yet he felt like a person who had not fulfilled his goals. Why was he so dissatisfied with himself? Did he not realize the value of what he had attained?”

Maitreya explained that Dhruva was morose because he thought of the misfortune that awaited his mother’s co-wife. He unhappily felt it was at her expense that the Master of Liberation granted him liberation. He was also morose because Viṣṇu had left, as a result of Dhruva’s ulterior desires. He felt that he would have to endure 36,000 years without Viṣṇu because of his initially revengeful motives towards his co-mother.

“Even the four celibates, Sananda and the others, could not attain in their entire lives what I attained in six months,” the boy thought as he walked towards his father’s palace. “Yet I have left the shade of his feet because my mind wants other things. Oh fie on my selfishness! Just look at my misfortune! I went to the feet of he who can cut down temporary existence, and there I begged for something temporary. I am the greatest fool! Fate would not allow me to accept Nārada’s wise advice to forget my co-mother’s insults. My proud, intolerant thoughts preferred to wallow in their own foulness. Absorbing myself into the dreamlike dooms of the temporary external world, I suffered divisions between my brother and my self, hating him in my heart as if he were my enemy. I begged for useless things, things that are like medicine for dead peole. I underwent extremely difficult austerities and pleased the soul of all souls who cuts people free from temporary existence. Yet I begged for something temporary. I have no good fortune at all! Oh how stupid! I begged for a kingdom. I am like the poor idiot who asks the emperor for a few husks of grain.”

Maitreya concluded by telling Vidura, “My dear, devotees are like you, they only want to taste the pollen from the lotus feet of Mukunda. Outside of this service, they have no personal interest at all. They think of themselves as very wealthy by accepting whatever destiny automatically bestows to them.”

Bhāgavata 4.9.26 ~ 35

Vraja Kishor dās


Dhruva and the Polestar

Wonderfully praised by the brilliant and resolutely determined boy, the All-Attractive, who is the devotee of his devotees, reciprocated the child’s affections and spoke.

“Royal little boy,” he said, “I know what you are striving for with all your wonderful vows, and I will grant it to you with all my blessings, though it is very rare.

“You wanted to attain the most wondrous place in all the three worlds, beyond what even Brahmā possesses.” Pointing up into the night sky, Viṣṇu continued, “See that very bright star? It doesn’t move, so we call it Dhruva-kṣiti. It is like the hub around which the wheel of the brilliant constellations stars and planets revolve; it is like the central pillar around which bulls walk to turn the tills. No one has ever claimed that star but Dharma, Agni, Kaśyapa, Śukra, and the great forest dwelling sages worship that place by clockwise circumambulation, just like the stars, because it is timeless and persists beyond the end of ages.

“But first, return home. Your father will soon retire to the forest and give you the earth. Rule it under the protection of morality for thirty-six thousand years. Your body will not become old.”

Dhruva would wonder why his father would give him the kingdom, instead of giving it to his elder and favorite son, Uttama. And what about Dhruva’s wicked co-mother?

Hari assured him they would not interfere. “Uttama will be lost while hunting,” he said. “His distraught mother will search for him in the forests, and wander into a forest-fire.”

“I don’t really want a kingdom anymore…” Dhruva might wonder.

So Hari reassured him that his brother and co-mother would perish anyway – the inevitable doom of insulting a good person, and Dhruva would enjoy the kingdom in a transcendental way. “You will use your royal wealth to worship me – the true heart of all ceremonies – and will distribute the fabulous results of such ceremonies in generous charity. This will make you very happy and truly blessed. You will not forget me for a moment, not even at the very end.”

“What will happen at the end?” Dhruva would wonder.

So Hari pointed again to the polestar and said, “At the end, you will enter that respected center of all the worlds, superior even to the stars of the sages. When you enter that gateway, you will attain my own abode, from which you will never depart.”

Comments: Some astronomical and philosophical details can be ironed out from studying this section and considering things carefully.

The first point is that the Earth’s axial precession causes the central hub of apparent stellar rotation to drift in a circular pattern over a c. 26,000 year period. We do not know exactly how many years ago Hari and Dhruva spoke, but we do know that it was an exceedingly, exceedingly long time ago since Dhruva is only three generations descended from Brahmā, the original living entity. What we do know from the text above is that the star Viṣṇu pointed out was particularly bright (bhrājiṣṇu). The current polaris (north star) is not particularly bright (it is the 50th brightest star). The brightest among the stars that take the role of polaris (“north star” – the pole around which other stars seem to revolve) is Vega. The very fascinating and compelling thing about this is that Vega is known as abhijit nakṣatra in Vedic astronomy. Abhijit is the most special nakṣatra and the names itself suggests the term found here in Bhāgavatam describing Dhruva’s star, dhruva-kṣiti —  a  star that cannot be conquered (abhijit).

[Even knowing this, we cannot fix the date of Dhruva’s birth – for abhijit becomes the polestar on a cyclic basis. It’s not a one-time event.]

The second point is that Dhruva does not seem to inhabit the polestar. He inhabits the ancient earth for 36,000 years. Then, when he dies, he enters vaikuṇṭha (“mat-sthānam”) through the abhijit / polestar. If we read the early chapters of Canto Two, we find that it is consistently described that the soul travels through various stellar points (moon > sun > milky way > etc) into the nabha (central point) of the universe (seems now to be the polestar / abhijit), through which it dissolves its material associations by passing through the extra-universal elemental layers and finally reaches Brahman, or, if destined further, reaches “mat-sthāna” Vaikuṇṭha. So, really, what Viṣṇu granted druva was his father’s earthly kingdom for 36,000 years – uninterrupted by any sickness or old age, and full of true happiness which comes from seeing divinity everywhere and always remembering Hari. And, at the end of this, he grants Dhruva entry into Vaikuṇṭha mukti. Additionally he grants that the polestar will be associated with Dhruva as his adhisthāna – just as the deva have the various stars (tāra) and constellations (nakṣatra) associated with them as their adhisthāna.

Essentially, by associating Dhruva with the polstar, Viṣṇu delcares that his realized devotee is greater than the devas (gods), for the polestar symbolizes the supreme stellar object around which all other stellar objects seem to revolve. This declares that bhakti (Dhruva, the bhakta) is superior to all other accomplishments.

Śrī Bhāgavata 4.9.18 ~ 25

Vraja Kishor dās