KRISHNA EPISODE 32 – Spiritual Emancipation of the Wives of Brahmana Sacrificers

One day the glorious Lord, the son of Devaki, accompanied by Balarama and surrounded by cowherds, went to a great distance from Vrndāvana, grazing the cattle. Perceiving that the trees served as umbrellas by spreading their shade in the scorching heat of the summer sun,Krishna addressed to his cowherd friends, the residents of Vraja: “Oh little Krsna, Oh Amháu, Oh Śrīdaman,Subala, Arjuna, Visala, Rşabha, Tejasvin, Devaprastha and Varuthapa! Have a look at these great blessed souls who live only for the welfare of others, and themselves undergo (for others) the severity of stormy winds, heavy showers, summer heat and snow, and save them from us.

The birth of the trees is verily the most blessed in the world, as it contributes to the well-being of all creatures. Just as no needy person returns disappointed from benevolent persons, so is the case with a person who approaches these for shelter. They fulfil the desires (needs) of others by means of their leaves, flowers, fruits, shade, roots, bark, wood, fra grance, gums or exudations, ashes, coals and tender leaves. That a person should sacrifice his life, wealth, in tellect and speech for doing what is beneficial to others, is the farthest limit of the usefulness of embodied beings for their fellow creatures.” Praising them (the trees) thus, the Lord proceeded to the Yamuna passing through the avenue of trees whose branches were bent low with clusters of young leaves, foliage, bunches of fruits and flowers and other leaves.

Having made their cattle drink that very sweet, cool and healthy water of the Yamuna (to their fill), the cow herds themselves drank that sweet water to their heart’s content.The cowherd pastured their cattle in the groves. on the bank of the Yamuna. Being oppressed with hunger they approached Balarama and Krishna and addressed as follows: Oh Balarama ! Oh Râma’ of extra-ordinary prowess! Oh Krishna, the annihilator of the wicked! This hunger is sorely troubling us, indeed. It behoves you both to appease it.

When the glorious Lord Krishna, the son of Devaki, was thus requested by the cowherd boys, he spoke to them with the intention of showering his grace on some Brahmana women who were devoted to him.  “Go to the sacrificial hall where Brāhmaṇas who are reciters of the Vedas (but who do not know the meaning and implications of the Vedic text recited) are engaged in conducting a sacrificial session, called Angirasa, with a desire to attain the celestial region, (after death). After arriving there, tell them the names of my elder brother and of mine, and that you are deputed by us, and request them to give you some cooked rice, Oh Gopas !”

Being thus commanded by the Lord, they went there, folded the palms of their hands, and lay prostrate on the ground like a staff before the Brahmanas (by way of paying them obeisance), and begged of them: “Oh Brāhmaṇas the veritable gods on the earth! Be pleased to listen. We are the cowherds, the servants of Lord Kṛiṣhṇa. We have arrived here under instructions from Balarama. May God bless you. Not far from this place, Balarama and Kṛiṣhṇa are grazing their cows. They are hungry and hence they desire to have food from you. If you have real faith in them, supply them the cooked rice which they seek from you, Oh Brāhmaṇas, the best knowers of dharma.

Oh excellent-most people, (as you know it), it has been decided in the dharma- sastra that it does not involve any violation (of dharma), if food from a person who has been consecrated for sacrifices is eaten, the exception being his consecration for a sacrifice requiring animal slaughter or a sautrāmani sacrifice, (when such eating is prohibited).” Cherishing petty longings (viz. life in heaven whence down-fall is certain) yet engaged in elaborate and toilsome acts (of sacrificial procedure), ignorant yet considering themselves as learned and vainglorious of their wisdom, (as they knew not that by the path of devotion which is easier than the path of Karma the summum bonum is attained) the Brahmanas, though they heard the solicitations of the Lord ,who out of Grace sent his friends for food to them), did not care to heed it.

Looking upon their bodies as their souls (and in their caste-pride), and being of perverted mentality, they looked upon Krishna, that Supreme Brahman, the veritable glorious Lord, (the possessor of six excellences), that supra sensuous Being, as merely an ordinary mortal being, though he really constituted the time and place (of the performance of sacrifices), the substances to be oblated, the mantras (for invoking deities), the procedure (prescribed for performing sacrifices), the priests (officiating over the performance), the sacrificial fires, the deities invoked, the performer of the sacrifice, the actual act of sacrificing itself and the religious merits accruing from that sacrifice.

As they said neither ‘Yes’ nor ‘No’, the cowherds became disappointed, and returning to Kṛṣṇa and Balarama, reported accordingly. On hearing their words, the Almighty Lord of the Universe burst out laughing, and in order to acquaint the cowherds with the ways of the world, (that beggars are not choosers and that one should try till achieving success), he spoke to them again: “Inform the wives of those sacrificers-Brahmaņas that I, along with Balarama, have arrived here. They are affectionate and with their hearts engrossed in contemplating upon me, they live in me mentally. They will give you. (abundant) food, to your heart’s content”.

Thereupon, the cowherds went to the apartment reserved for the consecrated wives of the sacrificers, and saw them decked with ornaments, and seated comfortably there. Paying respects to those chaste Brahmana ladies, the cowherds respectfully submitted: “Salutations to you Brāhmaṇa ladies! Kindly listen to us. We are deputed here by Krsna who, while wandering, has arrived (here) not far from this place. While grazing the cows, he along with Balarama and cowherds, has come far afar (from his house). May food be served to him, hungry as he is, along with his companions.

The Brahmaņa ladies who, due to their hearing (and contemplating over) the stories of Krsna, were ever eager and anxious to see him, found themselves in a flurry, when they listened to the news of his arrival so near.Like rivers flowing towards the ocean, all of them hastened to the beloved Lord Krishna, taking with them in vessels, large quantity of sumptuous food of four kinds,” even though they were prohibited by their husbands, fathers, brothers and relatives, for they, having heard of him for a long time, had fixed their hearts on the glorious Lord of hallowing renown.

There in a grove beautified with the new tender foliage of Asoka trees, on the bank of the Yamuna, the women (wives of sages) beheld Krana strolling leisurely, surrounded by cowherds, along with his elder brother (Balarama)-Kṛṣṇa of dark blue complexion, wearing silken garment of golden colour (or a girdle of gold), dressed like an actor decorated with a wreath of sylvan flowers, peacock feathers and tender shoots, beautified with mineral paints; who rested one of his hands on the shoulders of his trusted companions, and playfully dangling a lotus in the other hand; with lilies gracing his ears and locks of curly hair hanging against his cheeks, he wore a face beaming with smile. They had their minds completely absorbed in him, their most beloved one, the frequent audition of whose excellent glories have rendered completely fruitful the very function (and existence) of the ears, and adorned them like ornaments. Welcoming his arrival through the gates of their eyes into their hearts, they embraced him there for a pretty long time, and got rid of all their anguish and misery (of separation from him), just as the egoistic propensities get submerged after embracing the prajña, (the soul, that is ever awake as a witness of sleep) and forget all afflictions.

The Lord, being the witness of the mind and intellect of all had come to know that they had arrived there solely with the earnest desire of seeing him and had given up all hopes and longings for their husbands etc. (as they came in defiance of the orders of their men-folk) addressed to them with a smiling face. The glorious Lord Said: Welcome-very auspicious is your arrival, Oh highly blessed ladies. Be seated comfortably. What can we do for you? That you have come with a desire of seeing us despite the opposition of your men is really worthy of you. Discerning persons who really understand their self-interest and object in life, engage themselves directly in constant uninterrupted devotion unto me without any ulterior motive, as I am the most beloved Self.

Who else can be more beloved than one’s own Soul through contact with whom life, vital breath, intellect, mind, body, wives, children, wealth etc. have endeared them selves to us.Now that you have achieved your object in life (of seeing me), please return to the sacrificial hall, where the Brahmanas, your husbands who will successfully complete their sacrificial session with your presence, and their status of being householders depends on you, your being with them.The wives of the sages said: Oh all-pervading Lord (who know everything about us)! It does not behove you to utter such harsh words. We beseech you to fulfil your own promise (in Vedas viz. He, who approaches the Lord does not revert to Samsara,

We have approached your feet in defiance of and transgressing the wishes of our relatives and shall wear in our hair the wreaths of Tulasi leaves indifferently kicked off at us by you.”Neither our husbands, nor our parents, sons, brothers, relatives, friends will now accept us (back), not to speak of others. Oh Subduer of the internal foes like passion, avarice etc. ! Now that we have laid ourselves prostrate at the feet of your glorious self, may you be pleased to confer or ordain that state of life (your absolute service or slavery) whereby we shall have no other go to heaven or any other world.”

The Lord said: Now that you have been commanded to return by me, neither your husbands, nor parents, brothers, sons and others, nor even the public shall scorn you or get angry with you. Even the gods shall approve of it (your act of coming to me).If you still feel unable to leave me, please note that, Bodily contact among men does not contribute to happiness or love in this world. If you concentrate your mind on me, you will attain me before long. Devotion unto me is engendered by listening to my attributes, by visualizing me, by contemplating on me and not so much by physical proximity. Therefore, return to your homes.

Therefore, as directed (by the Lord) the wives of the sages returned to the sacrificial hall. Not only did the sages not expostulate them, but they carried the sacrificial session to a successful conclusion with their help.One lady out of them, who was detained per force by her husband, embraced in her heart the Isord as pictured by her through what she heard about him, and gave up her body that came to her lot by her karma (deeds) in past life.

Lord Govinda first made the cowherds feast on the four kinds of that food. The Lord partook of it only afterwards.In this way, the Lord who, out of sports, had assumed a human body and imitated the ways of the world led a sportive life giving joy to cows, cowherds and cow herdessess by his charming personality, sweet words and deeds.

After the Brahmana womens went to their homes , remembering their disgraceful behaviour, the Brahmanas who committed that offence repented, “Alas! We have disregarded the entreaty of the Lords of the Universe who are imitating the behaviour of human beings.Perceiving the extra-ordinarily supreme devotion of their women in Krsna and realizing that they were wanting in it, they were extremely tormented and censured themselves.  “Fie upon our three-fold birth, our mastery of Vedic lore! Fie upon our observance of vows (of continence during sacrificial sessions)! Fie upon our extensive versatility of knowledge! Fie upon our spotless pedigree! Fic upon our expertise in ritualistic technicalities in sacrifice, when we are averse to (lit. have turned away our face from) the supra-sensuous Lord Kṛṣṇa!

Verily the Mayd of the Lord is capable of infatuating even experts in yoga. Hence we, Brahmanas, the spiritual preceptors of men, are deluded with regard to our real interests.Oh! Look at the unfathomable devotion even of our women in Krsna, the father and preceptor of the world, which cut asunder the bonds of death called the ties of the household.These have not undergone the purificatory rite (known as the investiture of the sacred thread) which is regarded as the second birth (for Vedic and other studies). Nor have they stayed in the preceptor’s house (for Vedic studies or Sastric learning). They have not performed any austerities and have no grounding in the fastric enquiry about the Soul. They are not characterised by any special (spiritual or external) purity or any auspicious or meritorious (sacrificial, or other rites or) acts.

Despite these, they entertain such firm and unflinching devotion unto Krsna of hallowing renown, the Lord of the experts of yoga, a devotion not engendered in us even though we have undergone the purificatory rites (such as the investiture of thread) and have other qualifications (mentioned above).Oh How gracious of him it was that although he himself was the goal to be achieved through sacrificial and other activities prescribed by the Vedas, he, through the message sent with the cowherds reminded us (of the futility of all acts if devoid of devotion to God)-who were too stupid to understand our real self interest and were negligent due to household activities. To request food from us who are absolutely under his control, was a mere pretext of the Ruler of the universe who has all his desires fulfilled, and is the master who confers all blessing like bestowing Liberation from Sarhsära.

His solicitation for food was merely a ruse to delude the world, as the Goddess of Affluence, giving up her proverbial fault of fickleness or inconstancy, discards others and seeks permanent resort in him, with the hope of touching his feet at least once.He is verily that self-same glorious Lord Visņu who constitutes the time, the place of sacrifice, the substances to be oblated to fire (e.g. caru), the mantras (mystical formulae for invoking the deities), the technicalities of sacrificial procedure, the priests (engaged in carrying out various duties in sacrifice) deities to be invoked, the sacrificial fire, the sacrificer, the performance of the sacrifice and the merit. accruing therefrom. We have heard that he was born in the Yadu clan. But stupid and deluded as we are, we do not recognize him.

How blessed-most we are in having such women as our wives due to whose devotion in him, we too have our minds firmly fixed on Lord Hari.Salutations to You, Oh glorious Lord Krsna of unobstructed (all-penetrating) intelligence! As we have our minds deluded by your Mäyä, we are wandering in the paths of Karma.May that Ancient-most Person be pleased to condone and forgive our transgression, as we, due to our minds being infatuated with your Maya, the deluding potency, have not been able to realize your prowess and glory.

Having thus recollected the sinful offence given by them to Lord Krsua by their behaviour of disregarding him, the Brahmanas, though desirous and eager to see the two Achyuta brothers (Krsna and Balarama) did not dare to stir out due to the fear of Kamsa.

Categories: Bhagwat Puran, Krishna Avataar, Lord Krishna

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