Many of you are listening to Mahabharata. Good. Many Vedic rituals, ways of worship, and the entire repository of Knowledge has been given to us in the Mahabharatam. Aranya Parva talked about this in detail when Sage Narada, Sage Veda Vyasa, Sage Dhaumya and other sages explained all this to Dharmaraja in the form of numerous stories. Sri Mahabharatam has everything. If you listen to it once, you will have a desire to read the Puranas. Study of Mahabharata strengthens our knowledge.
Sage Vyasa is the form of Lord Vishnu. Lord Ganapati was the scribe for Sage Vyasa. Even today, there is Vyasa Guha where we feel the presence of Sage Vyasa and Ganapati. There is also a Vyasa Guha near Omkareshwara Linga. These are not mere stories; our lives get transformed with this knowledge. As we listen with attention, we feel like the stories are all playing out in front of our eyes. Listening with attention is very important. You must all listen to Mahabharata. It has everything. In Drona Parva, we heard Sata Rudriya that was phenomenal. The influence of the three Gurus is felt. Drona, the Guru, who was eligible for the Brahmic path took to warfare. Someone asked why Guru Drona supported the Kauravas. When Drona was in wretched poverty, it was Bhishma who gave him employment. Drona was so poor that his wife had to give his son flour mixed with water as they could not afford milk. That is when Drona felt that he needed money. The story would have been different had he been satisfied with a small amount, but he wanted more money that needed for bare necessities.
He went to Parasurama first, but Parasurama only had weapons to offer. Drona was of Bharadwaja lineage and had a very analytical mind. He was skilled and greedy and did a lot of food donation (Annadana) too. Drona received all of Parasurama's weapons along with the respective mantras. Now that Drona had this education, what was he to do with this? Drona was highly educated; while Sage Bharadwaja (his father) was only submerged in knowledge; Drona wanted to earn money as well. Who does one go to for money? To a king. Drona went to Drupada who was his childhood classmate, and was now a king. Drona asked King Drupada for money to feed his child, but he did not stop at that. He added, “You promised to help me when we were children. We were classmates then”. Drupada felt humiliated in the assembly for being called a classmate of this impoverished Brahmin. He insulted Drona and sent him off without giving him anything. Drona was infuriated and wanted to avenge this treatment. An enmity developed between the two. He went to the Kuru kingdom where Bhishma was the elderly revered figure. He went to Bhishma and said he needed a job to feed his starving child. Bhisma offered Drona the job to teach the Pandavas and Kauravas. Drona taught the Kauravas and ate the food they served. He was just as indebted to the Kauravas as Bhishma was. He taught the Pandavas and the Kauravas with equal attention.
Drona wanted to test the students so he could teach the secrets of warfare to the most capable among them. He placed a fake bird on a tree and asked each student to aim an arrow at the bird, but first asked each student what he saw before he shot. Arjuna was the only one who could see nothing but the bird's head while everyone else saw everything around them. From then on, Drona adored Arjuna greatly and imparted to him greater education than he did to his own son. Arjuna wanted to serve his Guru. Drona asked Arjuna to fetch Drupada to him, as Guru Dakshina. Arjuna accomplished the task. Both Drupada and his kingdom were at Drona’s disposal. Drona yet forgave Drupada and gave him back half his kingdom, while keeping the other half. Drona had some amount of desire for fame and money.
The Mahabharata session yesterday and the day before were incredible. I almost lost all sensation of my own body. Those two days, I was in a different world as we talked about Sata Rudriya and the oneness of Siva and Kesava. Drupada's son Dhrshtadyumna was born from fire for the purpose of killing Drona. Drona was destined to die at Dhrshtadyumna's hands. That instance is very wonderful.
Drona was deeply attached to his son Ashwatthama. Drona was impossible to vanquish as long as he was holding weapons. Until he renounced them, no one could vanquish him. Sri Krishna revealed to them the secret to killing Drona. Accordingly, Bhima loudly announced to Drona that Ashwatthama had died, but Drona did not believe it since Ashwatthama was very powerful and had the boon of immortality. The Pandavas then wondered who they should have communicate the news of Ashwatthama's death in order to convince Drona. Ashwatthama was fighting elsewhere in the battlefield, while an elephant of the same name had died. The Kurukshetra battlefield was as big as all of the state of Haryana. Drona would believe Dharmaraja, since Dharmaraja was wedded to truth. Dharmaraja said “Aswatthama hatah kunjaraha” (Ashwatthama died - the elephant). Drona did not hear Dharmaraja say “Kunjaraha” in the din of the battlefield. Hearing that Ashwatthama had died, Drona renounced his arms. At that point, according to Sri Krishna's instruction, a shower of arrows enveloped Drona in the battlefield. Sages and celestials appeared in front of Drona and said, “You are fit to be a Brahma rishi, why are you fighting a war? There is nothing wrong teaching Vedas and warfare. It is okay to be a teacher, but you do not need to pick up arms yourself. Your time is running out, it is time for you to come to Brahma Loka”.
Drona had renounced arms, but Sri Krishna did not think that was adequate. What if Duryodhana approached Drona and asked him to pick up weapons again? Drona would need to follow the king's instructions and fight again. Drona gave up weapons and sat meditating on Lord Shiva. At that time, Arjuna's arrows flew at Drona. Prior to that a figure was coursing the battlefield in advance of Arjuna and had destroyed an entire Akshauhini in one hour. Arjuna thought of himself as the slayer of the Akshauhini but it was that figure – that bearer of trident, Lord Shiva, who was doing that.
Drona was giving up his life – he was on the way to Brahma Loka. Dhrshtadyumna, to fulfill his vow, even as Sri Krishna and Arjuna were dissuading him, charged at Drona with this sword and beheaded him. In the chaos that followed, the body of Drona could not even be found. Lord Shiva came to the battlefield to see that mighty Drona. Ashwatthama was angry with the Pandavas and shot the Narayana astra at them. This weapon could completely annihilate the enemy. This was a secret weapon that Drona had given Ashwatthama as well as Arjuna. Ashwatthama was furious that Dharmajara had lied about his death, and Dhrshtadyumna had beheaded his father when the latter was about to give up his life. Lord Sri Krishna alone knew how to withstand Narayana astra. Sri Krishna said, “There is only one way to protect yourself from the immensely powerful weapon that spares none. (The weapon circles overhead for a little bit before annihilating the foe). Get off all your vehicles and animals, drop your arms, take off your armor and prostrate”. The news spread all over the battlefield within seconds. There were dedicated people to pass the news. Sri Krishna and Arjuna too prostrated. What maya is this! The Lord had to bow to his own energy. When everyone prostrated to the energy of the Narayana astra, that energy finally merged into Sri Krishna.
So, the energy of three Gurus can be seen in Drona Parva. One was Lord Krishna in a physical form. The other was the Guru who gave education needed for this material world and for liberation – Guru Drona. And then, there was Lord Shiva, the Guru to all. Sata Rudriya is where Vishnu himself prays to Lord Shiva. We picked a few important shlokas and recited them two days ago. When we talk about three Gurus, we remember Lord Dattatreya. Reconciling with Drona Parva, we see Sri Krishna as Maha Vishnu, Guru Drona as Brahma and Lord Shiva as Shiva. Therefore, it is very nice to remember Drona Parva on Datta Jayanti.
Today is day two of Dattatreya Jayanti. Many Mysoreans came to Sri Datta Venkateswara Temple temple for Vaikuntha Ekadashi. The Collector of Mysuru granted permission since the Ashram was expansive and enabled devotees to maintain social distancing. This disease has taught us some discipline and it also taught us to save some money. People would have wasted a lot of money, or gone to movies or parties during this time. Devotees are sending to the Ashram, all money they would have used to travel to here otherwise.
Swamiji calculated the future needs and therefore, set up fixed deposits so that food donation takes place uninterruptedly. The monthly expenses for electricity and security continue as usual. Even though the pandemic was a difficult time, we managed because Swamiji set up fixed deposits with foresight. Many came forward to help. The pravacana seva funds also help. During the time the pandemic was raging, volunteers went to the homes of impoverished residents in Mysore to supply food provisions for free. We paid six months of salary to the Ashram workers even though they could not come to work. The positive outcome from that is that the Ashram residents came forward to clean and take care of the Ashram. That is how it should be. This is our home. Everyone came together and took care of the Ashram. I said no one was to come to the Ashram, and everyone complied. I am happy about that. You see me on Facebook live every day. You see Swamiji in the morning and the evening. All programs are going on as usual. We also launched a new website today for Pujas.
Children are also doing their classes online. Continue your sevas and contribute to the progress of the Ashram. This is your home. Tomorrow is Datta Jayanti. Participate in Taila abhishekam. I will pour the oil in everyone's name. Expenses continue as usual. I called all Ashrams and enquired. Vamshi Ghanapati ji visited a few ashrams. All of the Ashrams said they were able to manage on their own. In the meanwhile, Hyderabad Ashram had a fire accident. The moortis are safe as are all people. Dattapeetham will reconstruct the Ashram. Do not worry. Those who wish to, may come forward to support the effort. Destiny takes its course. No need to blame anyone. We should face situations boldly rather than point fingers. If you can support it, do so. If not, I will do it myself. I have devotees who will lay down their lives for Swamiji. I did not ask anyone for funds. Devotees came on their own to support. We did not distribute flyers and pamphlets seeking funds for construction. During coronavirus pandemic, the volunteers worked very hard. The volunteers would wake up at 4am, cook and serve hot food to the police force on duty. Did any of our devotees talk about it? You talk about the fire accident loudly, but you never talked about the good deeds the volunteers did. Our volunteers fed the poor during the coronavirus lockdown and gave clothing to the poor. Devotees that donate to the Ashram only give as an offering to Guru. Devotees are all like our brothers and sisters. They are here only to serve Swamiji. Do not grieve over the accident in Hyderabad Ashram. If possible, join my family and serve. Everyone comes here because of Swamiji alone.