Suno! Suno! Sadhuji! – 4

Qualities of a Bhagavata
“Oh! I just don’t believe this!” cried Sadhana. With her kitchen chores done for the evening, Kirtana, who had just walked into the hall, was surprised to find Sadhana talking to herself with a book in her hand. It was Kirtana’s favourite ‘Stories from Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana’.
“Sadhana! What is so unbelievable in Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana?”
“Ma! Have you read this incident about how Queen Draupadi excused the criminal Ashwattama who murdered her beloved children who were asleep? And say what! She doesn’t stop there! She prostrates unto him and requests Arjuna to spare him.”
“Yes dear! I have read that part a hundred times!”
“Oh! But HOW is that possible! I can’t forgive or forget the smallest wrong done to me by somebody! ”
Kirtana smiled and holding her daughter’s hand lovingly, said, “THAT is the difference between an ordinary man and the Bhagavatas!”
“Bhagavatas? Who are they?”
“Loving devotees of the Lord are called Bhagavatas”
“But so are we! We also believe in God and have devotion in our hearts!”
“Sadhana! Who do you think can be called as a devotee in the real sense? Most of us are ‘Astikas’ i.e; we are ‘believers of god’. But ‘Bhaktas’ or devotees are not mere believers!”
“Hmm…let me understand! Can our Kamana Aunty be called a Bhagavata? She knows all the verses of Bhagavat Gita, she visits temples regularly, and she offers prayers on every special occasion.”
“Sadhana! One cannot be defined as a Bhagavata merely because he visits temples or because he knows all the scriptures or because he has holy marks on his person! It is the attributes/virtues that make one a Bhagavata. Let me tell you who a Bhagavata is! The great saint Narsi Mehta of Gujarat, has sung a wonderful kirtan in Gujarati on who a Vaishnava/Bhagavata is! He sings,
vaishnav jan to tene kahiye je,
peeD parAyi jANe re
par-dukhkhe upkAr kare toye,
man abhimAn na ANe re (vaishnava janato…)
He says,
‘He who can empathize with the pain of others, helps those in distress and is still the embodiment of humility, is the real Bhagavata/Vaishnava or devotee!’
See the case of this great devotee Draupadi! She spared Ashwattama, because she did not want his mother to suffer the agony that she herself has suffered due to the loss of her beloved children! This is called empathy – To step into other’s shoes and feel their pain. They would go to any extent to avert other’s pain and save one from distress. If we help others, we immediately seek recognition for our deed isn’t it? These great devotees do not care for that. They would do all they can to alleviate our pain and still prefer to go unnoticed. Such is their humility! Lord Krishna Himself was awestruck at this greatness of Queen Draupadi! He asked her how she could be like that! Just as you asked me Sadhana! Draupadi, in all humility says, “Krishna! It is but your grace!” Such are called Vaishnavas!
sakaL lok maan sahune vande,
nindA na kare keni re
vAch kAchh man nishchaL rAkhe,
dhan-dhan janani teni re (vaishnava janato…)
‘They love and respect the entire world and find fault with none. They are calm and pure in thought, word and deed. Blessed indeed is their mother!’ says Narsi Mehta!
Sadhana! Srimad Bhagavta Mahapurana defines a Bhagavata as
‘sarva bhUteshu yah pashyet bhagavat bhAvamAtmanah |
bhUtAni bhagavatyAtmani yesha bhagavatottamah ||’
That is, a true devotee of the Lord, perceives the Lord in everything and everything in the Lord!
When we indeed perceive none other than Lord in all, can we entertain any negative feeling against someone or something? So these Bhagavatas, can see no fault! For them everything is the will and wish of the Lord.
But see their greatness Sadhana! The moment we say everything is but His divine play and He alone is the operator and we mere instruments, the notorious one would commit atrocities and deem the Lord responsible for all that too, isn’t it? The devotees never do that! They are unshakable in treading the path of righteousness and are ever calm and tranquil. Their actions match their words and thoughts and are pure.
sam-drishti ne trishna tyAgi,
par-stree jene mAt re
jihva thaki asatya na bole,
par-dhan nav jhaalee haath re (vaishnava janato…)
‘They see everything with an equal eye and have absolutely given up all desires. For them, a woman is none but a mother. Never do they utter untruth or covet other’s wealth’.
Sadhana! Seeing the all pervading Lord in all is indeed seeing all with equal eye. With such perception, what is left for them to desire or not desire! It’s all Lord everywhere! This is not just in words but it is their experience. Though they see all as one, they still view another man’s wife as mother! There is no confusion! A cheat would use the very same theory and lay his hands on other’s wealth and woman! Not the devotee, says our Narsi Mehta! Their tongue might get tired, but never can it ever utter untruth!
moh-mAya vyApe nahi jene,
driDh vairAgya jena man mAn re
rAm nAm shUn tALi lAgi,
sakaL tirath tena tan mAn re (vaishnava janato…)
‘The worldly bonds never tie them down. They are absolutely dispassionate. They are immersed in chanting the divine names of Lord and are embodiment of all sacred places’ Sadhana!
The striking mark of a Bhagavata is the Divine names of the Lord that always play on his lips. The moment we hold on to the Divine Names of the Lord, the shackles of worldly worries and concerns fall off. If we eat something very sweet in taste, we automatically lose taste for a delicacy less sweet in taste than the first one isn’t it? Similarly, having tasted the nectar of the Divine Names, they have no taste for the pleasures of the world. All the sacred places indeed reside in the body of such a great devotee!
vaN-lobhi ne kapaT-rahit je,
kAm-krodh nivArya re
bhaNe narsaiyyo tenun darshan karta,
kuL ekoter tArya re (vaishnava janato…)
‘They are devoid of greed, avarice, deceit, lust and anger. Oh! Narsi says! The very sight of such a devotee liberates not just us but our generations that have gone by and generations to come!’
Sadhana! All the vices that cause misery are not found in these devotees. What else can we expect from such people who see the Lord in all and hence love them as one loves oneself! The very thought and sight of such great devotees cleanses our mind and makes us divine too! Such is their greatness.
The saint Narsi Mehta thus shows us the glory and virtues of the devotees of the Lord through his soul touching kirtan. Draupadi was one such loving devotee of the Lord!”
Sadhana, moved to tears at the thought of the greatness of the devotees, said, “No wonder Draupadi excused Ashwattama!’
As Sadhana closed her eyes and thought about the Bhagavatas, every virtue sinking into her and stirring her heart deep within, Kirtana mildly sang…
vaishnav jan to tene kahiye je,
peeD parAyi jANe re
par-dukhkhe upkAr kare toye,
man abhimAn na ANe re (vaishnava janato…)
sakaL lok maan sahune vande,
nindA na kare keni re
vAch kAchh man nishchaL rAkhe,
dhan-dhan janani teni re (vaishnava janato…)
sam-drishti ne trishna tyAgi,
par-stree jene mAt re
jihva thaki asatya na bole,
par-dhan nav jhaalee haath re (vaishnava janato…)
moh-mAya vyApe nahi jene,
driDh vairAgya jena man mAn re
rAm nAm shUn tALi lAgi,
sakaL tirath tena tan mAn re (vaishnava janato…)
vaN-lobhi ne kapaT-rahit je,
kAm-krodh nivArya re
bhaNe narsaiyyo tenun darshan karta,
kuL ekoter tArya re (vaishnava janato…)

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