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For an ambitious King, his army is the reflection of his aspirations; greater the army, better the chances for his conquests and when in n...

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Province of the Holy- The Tribal Sage

Whatever legends we have discussed until now with regards to the great sages of our land, today's one will be a "myth-breaker". As the term sage is always associated with Brahmarns; today we will know about a sage who was neither a brahmarn nor a male. Yet, she stood out amongst the great devotees and showed the world, that patience and belief wins at the end.

This story is of Shabri's, let's know her:
  • Shabri was born in a nishad family. The Nishads were a tribal community based in forest regions and were into boat business.
  • At a very young age, she became a devoted disciple of sage Matang, another accomplished sage of ancient times who was revered among the great saints.
  • It was her inquisitiveness and diligence for truth and dharm, that brought her in touch with sage Matang. 
  • She served sage Matang and the hermitage selflessly that gained her acclaim among the beings.
  • Pleased with her service and dedication; sage Matang enlightened her about Shri Ram and his eminence. He told her that she will attain salvation after welcoming Shri Ram along with Lakshmarn.
{Image Source: The Red News}

  • Everyday; after the sage enlightened her; she would wait for hours to welcome Ram with flowers decorated in path and fruits for his welcome.
When Shri Ram reached the hermitage, they saw the magnificent hermitage of sage Matang that was look after by Shabri. She recognized him and touched his feet giving them a traditional welcome with flowers and fruits.

Shri Ram praised Shabri for her dedication and devotion towards her guru and enquired about her austerity and her experience; whether she was able to gained over her desires.

Overwhelmed with Shri Ram's visit, she told him how sage Matang directed her mind towards dharm that helped in wining over her senses. It were Shri Ram's divine feet she waited for, to welcome him in the hermitage so that she could worship him. She then asked for his consent in order to leave her mortal form. As Shri Ram permitted her, Shabri then sacrificed her body to holy fire and attained a divine body, she was embraced with divine clothes and garland and ornaments, and then attained the realms where her teachers lived to serve them and be with them.

This was the life story of Shabri; whenever we recall the great saints and devotees of Shri Ram, Shabri's name is and will always be taken with respect.

Today I don't have much to say as we all have learn as why I used the term "myth-breaker" in the starting. As after going through the above description, we know why and how. When we learn about 'Shravarn', when we know about 'Guh' and today, 'Shabri'; we can easily disregard perceptions those are being spread from times to defame dharm, as I am unable to see any prejudice. In this land; where a demon is worshipped and a Goddess, whom we also address as "माँ " or mother; is maligned and for what eliminating that evil demon? And still the hypocrites cry foul and say there's intolerance, how STUPID. We must know one thing, dharm is divine and flawless, we beings practice it in our accordance or rather self-interest. Be rational, it will make things easy.
"What counts is our devotion, for it's ingenuity that makes us closer to GOD"

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Province of the Holy- Legend of Sage Agastya

"Fame belongs to those who strive for it; but, those who are selfless in their deeds become immortal"

Every civilization or society's survival as well as development rests on the shoulders of few individuals for its smooth running. These foundation builders lay down the ground rules so that the civility of the society remains. In our ancient history such personalities were known as saints; from teaching in their hermitages to providing consultations to the kings. They never had any hidden agenda of theirs’, whether preaching to the masses or penance in the stiff conditions for societal benefit or developing new theories in medical sciences as well as extraordinary weapon systems. After all that is what sainthood is all about, to give. And when I say sainthood, I don’t mean brahmarn; I mean a being, either human or daitya or any class.

Today we will learn about one such persona; Sage Agastya, a revered sage of our ancient times. We can understand his prowess with a simple fact that when the mighty Indra felt helpless against the demons of the Dandkaranya and the southern region, he went to Agastya’s refuge and requested him to save the beings from those demons’ dread. There’s an incident I can recollect that Shri Ram himself narrated to Devi Sita and Lakshmarn, let’s hear it:

Long ago there lived two demon brothers Vatapi and Ilwal. Those demons were extremely cruel and atrocious. In order to lure the Brahmmarns and feed on them, Ilwal used to disguise himself as a Brahmmarn and visit the sages in order to invite them for rituals. He offered them food that was in actual Vatapi himself disguised in a lamb’s form and unknowingly Brahmmarns ate that. Ilawal then used to shout, ‘Vatapi come out’. Listening to this; Vatapi did come out ripping the sages’ stomach and by so those carnivorous demons killed thousands of Brahmmarns . Indra requested Agastya for help; the latter hence went to the region and followed the scripted set of events by the demons. He knowingly ate the demon that was in a vegetable’s form this time. Like every time Ilwal shouted, ‘come out’. But this time nothing happened to the divine sage, he was smiling, ‘the brother you are calling to come out has been digested by me and delivered to hell, now he won’t be coming back.’ Listening to the brother’s demise the demon angrily attacked the sage. Agastya looked at him with his fiery eyes and the demon got ablaze and died like his brother.’
Such was the immense strength that sage Agastya displayed. Let’s look at another episode after which he was named so:

Once the immense mountain Vindhya elongated its height to block Sun’s way. It resulted in  disarray. Sage Agastya visited the mount; with respect, he bowed to the sage. The sage instructed him to be gentle and the mountain remained low following the sage’s instruction.
That’s why he was famed as ‘Agastaya’, i.e., the one who amazes the ‘Ag’, i.e., the mountain.’
Like Brahmmrishi Vishwamitra, Agastya was also a knower of divine weapons; like other divine beings, he also knew about the prophecy. He knew Shri Ram’s motive of spending his exile in the Dandkaranya; elimination of Raavarn. To do his bit, he presented him a great Vaishnav bow that was designed by Vishwakarma and given to Bhagwan Vishnu. He also honored Ram with an amazing arrow that radiated like Sun which was given by Brahmm Dev, apart from that two quivers presented by Indra that never went out of arrows and a sword that was decorated with gold.

Sage Agastya was an amazing personality of his time and a very humble being. Just for sake of social well being, he relocated to an altogether different place, and stopped as well as fought injustice spreading hope among the beings; I believe that itself defines selflessness that comes with purity of mind and heart.

{ Image Source: India net zone}
Before we end this post, I would like to draw your attention towards the rakshas brothers’ incident that were finished by the great sage. This story had generated a misconception among the intellectuals of our society to whom I feel very sorry for. The fallacy being as though the Brahmmarns were strictly vegetarian living only on sattvik food, but on occasions like shraddh, they were fed on meat, as here lamb’s meat is stated.
But as I always say, reading between the lines is the real task. Here we need to understand that those rakshasas invited the sages on shraddh; these customs are performed for the libation of the departed soul. The sages participated for the noble cause not knowing that they were being served non-veg instead. Those demons deliberately did so to corrupt those sages’ tapascharya, hence it became easier to kill the Brahmmarns. Agastya was not a normal sage, that’s why Indra requested him and he redeemed the sages from those demons.


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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Province of the Holy

‘Heaven and Hell are right here my friend, in this very Earth. So stop looking for them elsewhere and better lookout on your karma, you reap what you sow’

We all have heard this line a lot, while watching any movie or during a preaching session. For a moment we are driven to a thought where these realms could actually be, in our Earth or they have their particular dimension. This is a topic we would touch upon much later; for now, I can give you a sneak peek; the devlok or Amravati(city of devas) and Swarg are different places, but both are ruled by Indra only.
This also makes us wonder as how can it be possible that two opposite forces be present at one place. Now took Dandkaranya for example; yes Dandkaranya again, you might have been wandering what else this chapter has to offer, I say; a lot. I started this blog with a sole motive, to share my findings and interpretations of Valmiki Ramayan so that we can have a fresher perspective about the legend of SiyaRam as well as knowing our Culture with a more rational way. And for that we must know every aspect; hidden or visible. My last post depicted the horrendous beasts of the region as well as their origins. Now, time to look at the bright side or rather divine side. You might remember my blogs Saints of Aryavart where we had a chance to glance at a very different side of sainthood. Now taking a lead from there, we will learn about saints those preserved the sanctity of the region Dandkaranya:

  • Sharbhang - He was an eminent sage of those times and among very few influential saints in the Dandkaranya whose hermitage was unaffected by the torture of the demons. We can know about his efficacy as when Shri Ram visited his ashram, Indra, head of the devas himself was there to receive him as it was the sage's last day in the mortal world. It were his deeds that gained him a place in Brahmm lok. But Indra had to return early as the sage wished to see Shri Ram in person. The sage welcomed Shri Ram along with Devi Sita and Lakshmarn and hosted them with all his pleasure. The sage told him as he was the only reason for him being alive till date. He also advised them to visit sage Sutikshan who would guide them to find an appropriate place for stay. The sage then informed them as it was now his time to leave the mortal world, he asked Shri Ram to keep looking at him while he leaves his mortal form. The sage then invoked fire and consecrated it with sacred spells and entered into it, the fire burnt down every element of his body. Then came out from the fire, a new and divine form, a young man raised towards the sky and crossed all heavenly realms and reached the Brahmmlok.
{Image Source: spiritual messenger}

  • Sutikshan: Another revered sage from that eon. He is accredited for guiding Shri Ram throughout the exile and directing him to sage Agastya, the efficacious saint who bestowed Shri Ram with divine weapons. Shri Ram roamed the whole Dandkaranya for the next 13 years in Sutikshan's counsel and annihilated the demons who got in their way or tormenting the beings. Like Sharbhang he had also attained higher realms, but he stayed in the mortal world till he introduced Shri Ram to sage Agastya.
We will continue the rest in the next post.
"Even the almighty needs his devotees to accomplish a greater purpose"
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