So far we dipped in the sacred lakes and rivers – in the holy Ganga of Sri Mahabharatam. Bathing in the holy waters every day and doing Anushthana (the due rituals), we attained regions of great felicity. Yesterday, at the end of Mahabharata, Sage Veda Vyasa ji described the entire Mahabharata in four shlokas. Those who study and listen to Mahabharata daily or even have the Mahabharata book at home will gain the blessing of Mahabharata.
In Kaliyuga, it is very hard to people to even have the desire and determination to listen to Mahabharata. Only humans with divine tendencies will have such determination. You know how many Akshauhinis were on each of the Pandavas’ and the Kauravas’ side. You know which side was larger. You know that the Pandava side was smaller, but each side had its distinct strengths. We clearly learned that the Pandavas were deities. The Kauravas were Rakshasas (demons) from nether worlds. When Dharmaraja ascended to heaven, he only saw Duryodhana there, sitting resplendently. Since Dharmaraja went to heaven with his body, he had all the feelings and emotions he did on earth. All the joys and sorrows went with him even though he was of divine aspect. Due to that human emotion, he even got angry with Indra. He was looking for Karna, Arjuna, Draupadi etc. but he instead saw Duryodhana, Shakuni and others like them. “How baffling is this? They are such grave sinners, yet they sit here in heaven. The Pandavas are so pious, why are they not here? I do not want this heaven”, Dharmaraja felt. Dharmaraja’s mind and his feelings were still there as he had his body from earth. You can see how much compassion he had. Even though he attained heaven, he won only through Dharma, love and compassion. People need to learn this. He even rejected heaven, he only wanted the people that trusted him and depended on him. He did not weep for those who trusted him and then left him. But he wept for those who trusted him and dedicated their entire lives to him. Indra then sent a messenger and asked him to show Dharmaraja the people he was looking for.
That messenger brought him to the dark and foul-smelling hell. Dharmaraja was very surprised as he was being taken to hell. To his great surprise, he found all the people he was looking for, in hell. He decided to stay there with them despite being told that he had to be in heaven. It shows us how hard a king worked for his people. Restraining enemies, teaching them a lesson and never abandoning the ones who relied on him, he showed the qualities of a king. When Dharmaraja stood there for some time, that place turned fragrant, and hell turned into meritorious worlds. Apsaras danced in joy and gardens bloomed. The denizens of hell said – O great one, this place has turned into heaven with your presence. Please stay here for sometime, we are afraid that this place will turn into hell if you leave.
Sage Veda Vyasa is giving us a message through this – that wherever the pious souls go, that place turns into a teertha (pilgrim place). Second, the sage showed us through Dharmaraja that the dharmic (righteous) person never lets down those who depend on him. Dharmaraja did not even let the dog go. Yet, the doubt kept haunting Dharmaraja as to why Duryodhana was in heaven. King Janamejaya asked the same question of Sage Vaishampayana. He was told that when Duryodhana who had done a lot of sin and very little merit was asked whether he would experience the fruit of merit first or the fruit of sin, the latter chose the fruit of merit which is why he was in heaven. Dharmaraja then wondered why he himself was taken to hell? He was told that, that was the result of lying to Dronacharya about Ashwatthama’s death even though the battle was righteous. It was due to that lie, that Dronacharya fell. Moreover, every king had to see the face of hell, without fail. All sinners, especially, have to go to hell. Arjuna, Bhima, Draupadi, Kunti and everyone else had some shortcoming or the other. That is why they could not come to heaven with their body and they had to see hell. From this we understand that one should not sin or lie intentionally. At every instance, Mahabharata teaches us lessons that apply to our daily lives. My method is to study a scripture in the reverse order. I studied the Mahabharata too in the reverse order during my childhood.
To reduce the burden on earth, the five elements of Nature came as the Pandavas. They also came so we could talk about their stories in Kaliyuga. Reveling in Sri Krishna’s glories and miracles, we heard so many of His stories in Mahabharata. Draupadi who was aspect of fire, Pandavas who were aspect of the five elements – each of these is so wonderful. Talking about each shloka and learning its meaning is an amazing experience. Mahabharata is like an exquisite chariot that you will need to go within, to understand. The body God gave us looks wonderful. But when you dissect it, you will see millions of living organisms, so many organs, so many senses. They all work in harmony with each other. Mahabharata is like that too. You will find a lot when you go within. No one else but Sage Veda Vyasa who was Lord Vishnu Himself could have composed Mahabharata. And because no one else could write it, He chose Lord Ganapati. If Swamiji narrated it for one year, it was because there was a whole team - like the group of sense organs – working together. A car looks great, but there are so many parts, each doing its job to make the car work - the wheels, the engine etc. Yet the car looks and runs like one unit. We see the Skeleton watches/clocks that are made so we can see its inside parts. It looks fancy in the beginning, but looks weird later, as if it’s diseased like a body without skin. God has given us this body with the skin as cover. The ones without desire or anger - like some Jain monks - wear no clothes. The clothes are for the rest of the people. The skin covers the body within, but if you peeled the cover of skin, the body looks frightening. God made this body so wonderfully. Similarly, Mahabharata too is impossible to describe - there is so much within, but Sri Krishna is like the beautiful outer skin that makes it look wonderful. Without Sri Krishna, we cannot even bear to study the Mahabharata with its description of fierce battles with its mire of blood, bones, pus and stench. How did the chariots move in that mire of the battlefield? How did one recognize the other in battle? There were so many gods and demons in the battle. The gods had to go back to their celestial world and the demons to their hell. Demons outnumbered deities in the battle. This is no drama. This is history of our land of Bharat. That you heard this for one year is possible due to the team. Sri Krishna would do nothing without the team. For the car to move, engine, wheels and all parts have to come together. Both arms, both legs all parts of the body need to be there for the person to function well. Sure, wrecked cars might also work and diseased bodies might too, but they are not fully functional. For the intellect to be fully functional and attain divine worlds, study of Mahabharata is a must. Bhagavad Gita, Vishnu Sahasranamam, Shiva Sahasranamam, Arjuna’s praise of Durga Devi, all principles, all dharmas and praises of all gods etc. - there are so many gems in Mahabharata. There is nothing elsewhere that is not in the Mahabharata. All Upanishads’ essence is in Mahabharata.
After I started Bhagavatam, there were so many obstacles. Mahabharata is even more voluminous. It is very hard to do the Mahabharata uninterruptedly. Sometimes during the discourse, we pick up other threads and then come back to the original. So, we wrote everything down, jotted all the points, had a clear plan, created a book for myself, and spent many nights studying and reading and unravelling many knots. I decided many times on what topics should be covered in this Kaliyuga and what are not needed. Owing to some repetitive topics, we made decisions on which ones are to be narrated. Except topics that were recounted again within Mahabharata, we did not leave out a single letter from Mahabharata.
There is a big team behind this effort. Ramji used to frequently request that I do Mahabharata discourses. He offered all his help if I did decide to. I said in jest that I would do it if I got one year’s time of no travel. And then Covid came. Maybe I should not have said that I needed some time of no travel. May Swamiji bless all those who helped – all camera crew, music group and Bala Swamiji who worked very hard and even went to our Bannur farm for 4-5 days to find quiet time to work on the Mahabharata. A group of 30 devotees worked on it, they had to work with great speed, so there were mistakes that I had to correct often. I had cautioned Ramji that I would not stop the Mahabharata discourse once I started. Ramji thought he would have plenty of time to work on Mahabharata, since Swamiji would go on tours often. So, he often prayed to Swamiji to do the Mahabharata. Finally, he was tired working on Mahabharata for this discourse, but slogged through it.
Covid made this possible. Those who had to leave the planet had to. There was no choice. Many beloved devotees ascended to heaven during this time. Prasadi’s Datta sister too passed during this time, as did the mother of Sri Rani Subbaya Deekshitulu ji and a few other devotees. May the Lord bless those souls.
The second wave of coronavirus infections is on. There are false rumors being spread about vaccinations. Everyone get vaccinated. Maintain social distancing. Wash and sanitize your hands frequently. Wear a mask. People die whether there is coronavirus or not. I heard that some of our devotees are infected. Do not recklessly roam public places without protection. I am tired of repeatedly holding on to you and cautioning you. If you wish to see me again, be careful. We need to fight this battle for two more months. Why do soldiers wear armor and go with weapons to fight? We should do the same fight in this battle against Covid. With weapons and mantras and intelligence, we should face this disease. Back in the day, to ward off the evil eye, people would hang a pumpkin in front of their house, so the attention of the onlookers falls on the pumpkin. Similarly, masks ward off the evil eye, the virus will stay away if you wear a mask. You are now getting masks that let you breathe freely. You can buy the masks that the doctors wear.
I bless all those who participated in the Sevas. You all wonder what to do during the time Mahabharata used to be on? Simply, listen to Mahabharata episodes on YouTube, at least 7-7:30pm. If any other live program starts in the meanwhile, let it. Let it be in any language - Hindi or Kannada or any other. I also will go to Kaveri river, since I am not going to Ganga. I also heard in the news today that those over 60 years are not being allowed near Ganga. All the gates have been closed. So, I will consider the Kaveri my Ganga and dip in it. A volunteer devotee just reached heaven on this auspicious day. Everyone has to - Dharmaraja, Sri Krishna, Sri Rama, all of them did. I know many of you are very anxious that you won’t see me on live broadcast at this time. Who knows? You might just see me. All you want is to see me, does not matter what I discourse on or not.