|7 Narada’s Darshan of Maha Deva and Nara Narayana|
As Brahma was pleased that finally his ‘Maanasa Putra’ Narada agreed to marry as per his wish, he gave the Upadesha of Krishna Kavacha and Shiva Kavacha as above and recommended that Narada visited Maha Deva and Narayana to sensitise him about the Principles of ‘Ashrama Dharmas’ with special reference of ‘Garhastya’, virtues of life, Bhakti, significance of Devas and Devis, the ways of worship and the ways and means of attaining ‘Mukti’/ realisation of Shri Krishna. Brahma suggested to Narada to first visit Shivaloka situated one lakh yojanas above Dhruva loka for Shiva Darshan. Spread over an area of a lakh yojanas, Shiva loka was such that Vishwakarma the Architect and Builder of Devas could ever have dreamt of where crores of Siddhas and Shiva-Parshadas resided, where lakhs of Bhairavas stayed, where lakhs of Kshetras and palaces existed, and where there was no fear, death, disease, old age, and any kind of difficulty. Narada witnessed a breath-taking platform lit up with Five Moons in the midst of which Bhagavan was visioned with a Profile of dazzing illumination of pure white complexion and Five faces with ‘Jataajut’ adorned by half moons, Ganga on the head, blue throat, with moving and hissing snakes around his neck and shoulders, sporting a Trishula, a Damaru, and a ‘Rudrakshamaala’ rotated by his soft fingers with the name of Shri Krishna on the tips of his red lips with a highly pleasant visage and a capturing smile. He was surrounded by Yogendras, Siddhendras and Munindras. As Narada came near Mahadeva, he recited the Shiva Stuti and Kavacha and prostrated before him.
Maha Deva knew the purpose of Narada’s visit to seek replies on several questions such as Brahmana’s ‘Ahnika Aachaara’ / Nitya Karmas (daily deeds) and Paramatma Swarupa Nirnaya. Maha Deva described the daily routine by waking up at the Brahma Muhurta and introspect the ‘Brahma Randhra’or the tiny, pure, and undisturbed mental-lotus without any features or inhibitions and concentrate on the Parabrahma Swarupa as prompted by one’s own Guru (Mentor) and meditate that Guru who was indeed Brahma, Vishnu, Maheswara, Adya Prakriti Durga Devi, Chandra-Surya-Agni-Varuna-Vayu and so on. After the morning ablutions, the Brahmana would take his ‘Snaan’while doing ‘Mrittika Lopana’for Shuddhi of one’s own body by reciting the Stanza : Ashwa kraantey Rathakraantey Vishnu kraantey Vasundharey, Mritthi key hara may paapam yanmayaa dushkrutam krutam/ (Bhu Devi! On your sacred physique many horses speed up, several chariots passby and Vishnu rolls off his feet during his playful ‘Avataraas’; let all the sins that are committed over you be absorbed by you Devi!) Then while taking bath, one should recite: Gangecha Yamunaachaiva Godaavari Saraswati, Narmadaa Sindhu Kaaveri jalosmin sannithim kuru/ (Hey Gangey, Yamuney, Godaavari, Saraswati, Narmada, Sindhu, Kaveri! You are all requested to be kindly xist in these waters with which I take my bath with devotion!). Then all the other Deities are remembered such as Nandini, Sita, Malini, Mahapathaa, as well as the Rivers which originated from Vishnu Deva’s feet such as Ganga, Padmavati, Bhogavati, Swararekha, Kaushiki, besides Prithivi, Shubhaga, Viswakaya, Shivaamrita, Viswakaaya, Shivaamriti, Vidyadhari, Suprasanna, Lokaprasaadhini, Kshema, Vaishnavi, Shantida, Gomati, Sati, Savitri, Tulasi, Durga, Mahalakshmi, Saraswati, Radhika, Lopamudra, Diti, Rati, Ahalya, Aditi, Sangjna, Swadha, Swaha, Arundhati, Shatarupa and Devahuti. Then ‘tilak’ should be applied on the corners of hands, forehead, neck and chest, otherwise all the other deeds like Snaana, Daana, Tapa, Homa, Deva Yagna and Pitru Yagna are all stated to be useless! After being seated on an ‘Asaana’, a devotee is to worship Shalagrama shila, Mani or Pratima with water and Mantra. The nomal sixteen services offered in the worship are Aasana, Vastra, Arghya, Paadya, Achamaneeya, Pushpa, Chandana, Dhupa, Deepa, Naivedya, Gandha, Maalya, Shayya, Jala, Anna and Tambula along with Mula Mantras. Vaishnavaites practise the procedure of first performing Bhuta shuddhi, followed by Anganyasa, Pratyanganyasa, Mantra nyasa and Varanyasa. A Kurma Deva should be set in a pre-made Trikona Mandala and purify the Mandala with the sacred water invited from various rivers; then the above prescribed seervices are dedicated in seriatim. Visarjana, Deva puja with Agni homa and ‘Bali’/ sacrifice to Dikpalakas constitute a parcel of the ‘Ahnika Karma’ or the daily procedure of an ideal Brahmana.
The second query of Narada to Maha Deva related to Bhakshya bhojya kartavyas (Food material approved or otherwise). Any kind of food items offered as ‘Naivedya’ to a Deity or ‘Havishya’offered as ‘Agni homa’ are the most appropriate. Conversely, food consumed without offering to Bhagavan is as impure as poison or excreta. Further, Brahmana should observe fast on every Ekadashi day and must not take food. On Krishna Janmaashtami, Shri Rama Navami and Shiva Rathri particularly, non-observance of fast entails double offense. Only exceptions who cannot observe the fast on the prescribed days might be those who are extremely diseased, badly ill and women in advanced stage of confinement or during the periods of menses. Even in respect of such exceptions, fruits and roots and milk/water might be consumed. In any case, those who can certainly not take food have to clear their own respective conscience and scruples. Even as a daily routine, only that food which is offered to Bhagavan and thus becomes ‘Prashad’ must be eaten the best. As regards the food items which are prohibited the following regulations would apply: consumption of milk in a copper vessel, eating food / water that is already part-eaten or drunk by another person, drinking salted milk, or eating brinjal in Kartika month and pumpkin in Chaitra month must be avoided since it would lead to monetary loss; eating small specie of brinjal on dwiteeya day must be avoded; eating ‘Parwal’ (little gourd) vegetable helps opposition forces. Consuming ‘Muli’ (radish) on chaturthi day is prohibited as it might adversely affect availability of ready cash. On Panchami, eating of ‘bel’ items should be avoided. Consuming neem leaves on Shashthi day is taking like poison; on Saptami, consumption of ‘tada’fruit is like inviting illness; eating any product of coconut is eroding one’s thinking capacity; ‘loki’ (bottle gourd) and kalambi vegetable must be avoided on Ashtami and Navami days respectively; on Dashami, Dwadashi and Trayodashi ‘Shimbi’ / ‘Sem’ (cluster beans)), Putika /Poi and Brinjal must be avoided respectively. Eating meat ought to be avoided any time. Usage of oil and ‘Stree Sahavas’ should be avoided on Amavasya, Purnima, Sankranti, Chaturdhashi, and Ashtami as also on Sundays, Vrata days, and Shraddha days.Eating curds in nights, sleeeping during day time and Sunrise-Sun set times and eating food of a woman in menses ought to be avoided. Shaving / haircut in Krittika star time and on Amavasya days should be avoided.
Having described ‘Ahnika Aachaara’and ‘Bhakshabhaksha Vidhi’, Maha Deva briefly defined Parabrahma Swarupa to Brahmarshi Narada. Parabrahma is present in all Beings with ‘Pancha Pranaas’ (Vital Aairs) viz. Prana-Apana-Vyana-Udana-Samana illuminated in the Supreme Form of Paramatma. He said that in the form of complete Gyan, he was present and Prakriti was as Shakti or Iswarini. Just as Surya or Chandrama get reflected in the water kept on pots, any Being is the reflection of the Supreme Force and the moment the pot is broken, the reflection disappears too; this is how Jeevatma is the reflection of Paramatma getting dissolved into the latter. At the very end, there is only one Paramatma that remains on the Form of ‘Mandalaakara Jyoti’- a circular globe of extraordinary radiance akin to crores of Suryas and exists like the never-ending Sky ans as an ‘Avinaashi’ (Ever Existent). Yogis refer that Unknown as Sarwa Swarupa Paramatma who is Nireeha, Niraakaara and Nirguna. That Supreme is like the Shakti of Thirst in Agni, radiance and heat in Surya, whiteness in milk, colness in water, sound from the Sky and Sugandha from Prithvi. It is that Highest Energy with the interaction of ‘Chhaayaarupini Maya’, like the proverbial ‘Kumhara’ (potter) moulds the ‘Mitti’ /earth and creates myriad forms of ‘Chaarachara’/animate and inanimate beings. It is that Shri Krishna whom Vaishnavites worship as ‘Saakara’ assuming a unique and resplendent Form in a typical circular fund of illumination called ‘Goloka Dhaam’ which neither has an axis nor a support, which is as wide as a lakh crore yojanas-unimaginable that is-full of Gopanganas, Gopaas and Gomataas, where there are countless Kalpavrikshaas, Kamadhenus, and invaluable golden buildings studded with diamonds, gems and precious stones among which there was a mammoth and an unmistakably distinct Palace where a teen aged boy of cloud-coloured Physique, with the dazzle of crores of Suryas of brilliance and an equal number of Chandras with amazing coolness is present, with a golden headgear of outstanding shine with a peacock feather, golden hand wrists bangles, ear rings, arms and shoulders all studded with Nine Gems in molten like gold, the most renowned ‘Kaustubh Mani’on his chest, the ever enchanting flute in his hands, an alluring smile on his red lips hiding pearl like teeth comparable to thousands of Manmathas. On his lap is Devi Radha who is surrounded by Brahma, Vishnu, Maheswara, Dharma and Ananta; Sanaka brothers and illustrious Maharshis, and Gopa-Gopis. This Adi- Purusha Paramatma Shri Krishna literally denotes: Krish meaning Totality and Na denotes ‘Atma’ or Soul. As Bhagavan Shiva delineated Shri Krishna thus, Narada repeated the Stotra by which Gandharva Raja Upaharna extolled Shi Krishna as also Bhagavan Shiva and took leave of the latter to approach Nara Narayana and proceeded to ‘Narayanaashrama’at Badari Tirtha.
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