There are some stories in Srimad Bhagavatam that I find extremely relevant today. Such as the story of Dhruva, who went out looking for God to seek vengeance against those who have wronged him but had a change of heart and achieve liberation as soon as he saw God (Vishnu).
One such story is the the story of Vritasura and Indra. Vritasura though an asura is a Vaishnava. Indra as the king of gods had to do something when Vritasura caused drought. Indra did act and after a long battle, he killed Vritasura. However, because of that Indra had to suffer the sins of killing a Vaishnava. It's clear that Indra was in a big dilemma here. He has to either not act against Vritasura for the fear of committing Vaishnava apradha and watch the world wither from drought or commit the unthinkable and save the world.
My question is what does this story teaches us? Is the story an illustration that sometimes, no matter hard we try, we just cannot avoid some of the things which are considered horrible, which was illustrated in Srimad Bhagavatam that souls living in the material world risk committing sins at every step, "padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām" (Srimad Bhagavatam 10:14:58), no matter how hard we try to avoid it, that our lives are like walking on eggshells?
Please do share some insights into this story.
Hare Krishna Rob Prabhu ji,
Well, Vengence is the right word for little Dhruva. Dhruva was wanting to sit on the lap of his father and he was not allowed to sit. The step mother made her son sit on the lap of the father and didn't allow Dhruva and said to little Dhruva that.. " TO BE ABLE TO SIT ON THE LAP OF the King, you must be born out of my womb" You have no right to sit on your father lap.
She wanted to prove that the next heir to the throne is her son and her son only. This made Dhruva sad ... he didn't even understand what that step mother was upto. he just wanted to enjoy sitting in the lap of the father. She threw him down and said, you cannot have that highest position of sitting on the king's lap. Dhruva came crying to his mother and told all that happened. The mother of Dhruva being a compassionate lady suggest him to pray to Lord simply. Dhruva couldn't understand what is that highest position more great than the throne of his father. His mother told him.. Your father's great grand father is Lord Brahma. he occupies more higher position than your father. Dhruva now made a decision in his mind that.. he would see some position more great than the great great grandfather Lord Brahma.
That is what he asked for when Lord Sri Vishnu appeared. That he was something more greater and higher position than the throne of Lord Brahma who is great great grandfather of his father. So Lord gave him a seperate Loka above the Brahma loka. Whatever he wished for was granted by Lord. Dhruva Loka was awards to Little Dhruva.
Secondly, Vritrasura was actually King Citraketu Maharaj. He had many wives but had no issues. He pleads to a sage to bless him with a son. Sage gives him boon that a son will be born to his first wife. But the son is going to be the cause of happiness as well as sadness. the son was born every body rejoiced were happy for sometime. But the king was showing great interest in the first wife and neglected other wives. The other wives got jealous and tried to kill the baby boy. and boy was poisoned and killed. That King who was happy suddenly began to lament and again requested the sage to make his dead son come alive. But the son who became alive didn't recognise his father and asked I have changed numerous bodies by now. and each birth I had a father.. I don't know which father you are. Do I know you?
This intrigued the King and seeked answers to these questions and made him contemplate deeper on what is soul. how does soul change bodies. ?? in this way he became self realized. He later gave up all his treasures for the humanity and served well as a king and did all righteous deeds. Lord Sri Hari also became pleased because of all the generous and pious deeds performed by King Chitraketu Maharaj. When Chitraketu Maharaj died. He was elevated to higher planets. He was roaming around in celestial plane and was passing all lokas and when passing Kailasa he saw Parvati and Shiva begin closely sitting next to each other. He made a bad comment on Parvati mata and Shiva. He said you say YOU are a sage and acestic and have no lust in you. And still you make Parvati sit in your lap? This made Parvati curse him. Later she realized that he was Vaishnava and was a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu.
But see as soon as Vaishnava does aparadh against some one even if its just small remark and making fun of a Vaishnavi. ( Parvati is Parama Vaishnavi) She is Mahamaya ( Subordinate of Sri Krishna) she works under direction of Lord. She is param vaishnavi. This Chitraketu Maharaj who was ascending up in airplane to Vaikunta did a vaishnava aparadh while going back to Vaikunta on the way. And this Vaishnav aparadh made him become a demon Vriturasura.
Demon though was a Vaishnava became a demon only because of Vaishnav aparadh. See such is how the fall even when you have ascended to the top most position you can fall at anytime.
That is one lesson we must learn that a Vaishnava should become very very humble and must never make jokes or anyone simply even for fun sake.
Secondly, Indra did a aparadh against his guru Brihaspathi.
Guru aparadh should be avoided this is another lesson to be learnt!!!!!!!
Brihaspathi when he entertered Indra's court all have raised from their seats as Brihaspathi is guru of all demigods, But Indra didn't raise up neither he saluted or prostrated or gave respects.
That was not to be done.
These two things should be learnt from this stroy.
how ever great you may become you can never become more greater to your guru. So always respect your guru !
How ever great you may become always be humble ( Chitraketu case) ..never make fun of other Vaishnavas.
I'm starting to believe that humility, being humble, is a divine quality which is not very easy to acquire or cultivate, but rather given by the Supreme Lord to the pure devotees out of His sheer causeless mercy. Thank you for your answer. It's been a wonderful discussion.
1. Is the story an illustration that sometimes, no matter hard we try, we just cannot avoid some of the things which are considered horrible, which was illustrated in Srimad Bhagavatam that souls living in the material world risk committing sins at every step, "padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām" (Srimad Bhagavatam 10:14:58), no matter how hard we try to avoid it, that our lives are like walking on eggshells?
There are multiple lessons that can be learnt from each narration of Srimad Bhagavatm. But I do not see how this would be a/the lesson I would learn from the story of Indra and Vritrasura. I could be wrong. But I fail to see it.
Firstly the shloka from SB 10.14.58 does not say that there is risk of committing sin at every step. I am not saying that there is no risk of committing sin in material world. But this shloka does not highlight it.
samāśritā ye pada-pallava-plavaṁ
mahat-padaṁ puṇya-yaśo murāreḥ
bhavāmbudhir vatsa-padaṁ paraṁ padaṁ
padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām
For those who have accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Murāri, the enemy of the Mura demon, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf’s hoof-print. Their goal is paraṁ padam, Vaikuṇṭha, the place where there are no material miseries, not the place where there is danger at every step. (SB 10.14.58)
The word sin is not used in the sanskrit shloka. The word used is "vipada". This can be translated to danger or misery as Srila Prabhupada has done. By no stretch can it be translated to sin. Also the meaning of Shloka is not to highlight that danger or misery is a constant companion in the material world, but the shloka intends to convey how the danger or misery can be overcome. And it can be overcome by taking shelter of the lotus feet of the Sri Krsna in the form of chanting the holy names of Sri Krsna.
2. Indra as the king of gods had to do something when Vritasura caused drought. Indra did act and after a long battle, he killed Vritasura. However, because of that Indra had to suffer the sins of killing a Vaishnava. It's clear that Indra was in a big dilemma here. He has to either not act against Vritasura for the fear of committing Vaishnava apradha and watch the world wither from drought or commit the unthinkable and save the world.
I have not come across anywhere in Srimad Bhagavatam that Vrirasura caused draught. If you have come across it in Srimad Bhagavatam kindly provide reference. I ask this reference from SB not to challenge that Vritrasura caused draught, but for my own knowledge. In the narrative in Srimad Bhagavtam Indra is not the hero, Vritrasura is the hero. Nobody even knew that Vritrasura was a devotee - not demigods, not demons not even his father(originator). So question of Indra's dilemma never arises. All narrations in Srimad Bhagavatam are from the spiritual point of view. From spiritual point of view the most important lesson is to remember Krsna at the time of death the way Vritrasura did.
There are many scriptures where the battle between Indra and Vritrasura is discussed and referenced. It is one of the very famous battles. There are many scriptures that narrate same story but from slightly different perspective. As far as my knowledge goes Vritrasura causing drought is mentioned in other scriptures. It is from the material world point of view, because Vritrasura causes drought, functioning of material world is greatly affected and Indra comes to rescue and same the universe from drought. But that is not the view of Srimad Bhagavatam.
Also from Srimad Bhagavatam point of view this whole episode starts from two incidents. 1. Indra offends his spiritual master Brihaspati and 2. Citraketu is cursed by mother Parvati.
So one of the most important lessons from both incidents is that we should not even remotely offend vaishnavas. And even if an offence happens by us, we should humbly seek forgiveness. Otherwise it will lead to a series of mistakes which will spiral downward leading to further and further implications and misery.
So in summary the lesson I learn is exactly the opposite of what you mentioned. - Be very careful in every dealing because one mistake could lead to a very dangerous situation. Not because of the material world but because of our own shortcomings. We are nto perfect so always take shlter of Krsna.
There is a very famous and beautiful lecture in which all essential teachings from the episode of Vritrasura hve been narrated in detail in this lecture. Would highly reccomend you to please listen to this.
"There are multiple lessons that can be learnt from each narration of Srimad Bhagavatm. But I do not see how this would be a/the lesson I would learn from the story of Indra and Vritrasura. I could be wrong. But I fail to see it."
"Nobody even knew that Vritrasura was a devotee - not demigods, not demons not even his father(originator). "
Thank you for your candor. Indra was indeed in a dilemma here regardless of his knowledge that Vritasura was a both a Brahmana and a Vaishnava. He was at least aware that Vritasura was a Brahmana and also became aware that Vritasura is also a Vaishnava right before the battle after Lord Vishnu revealed it to Indra that Vritasura was indeed a Vaishanava when Lord Vishnu blessed Indra,
"tasmin vinihate yūyaṁ
bhūyaḥ prāpsyatha bhadraṁ vo
na hiṁsanti ca mat-parān".
"When Vṛtrāsura is killed because of My spiritual strength, you will regain your strength, weapons and wealth. Thus there will be all good fortune for all of you. Although Vṛtrāsura can destroy all the three worlds, do not fear that he will harm you. He is also a devotee and will never be envious of you." _ (ŚB 6.9.55)
"When all the demigods requested Indra to kill Vṛtrāsura, he refused because Vṛtrāsura was a brāhmaṇa. The demigods, however, encouraged Indra not to fear killing him because Indra was protected by the Nārāyaṇa-kavaca, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, Lord Nārāyaṇa. Even by a glimpse of the chanting of Nārāyaṇa’s name, one becomes free from all the sinful reactions of killing a woman, a cow or a brāhmaṇa. The demigods advised Indra to perform an aśvamedha sacrifice, by which Nārāyaṇa would be pleased, for the performer of such a sacrifice is not implicated in sinful reactions even if he kills the entire universe." _ (https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/6/13/_)
It means Lord Indra had a choice to whether go ahead with his plan to kill Vritasura or abandon it for the fear of committing the sin of killing a Brahmana and a Vaishnava, which he later learned from Lord Vishnu not long before the battle. Even if Indra wasn't aware that Vritasura was a Vaishnava, he was in it for a series of unfortuante events. You can say it was because he offended his spiritual master in the past but Indra still had a choice to not continue his mistakes. The lesson I believe could draw from this story is that with or without actively trying to avoid grave mistakes, even exalted personalities like Indra do get trapped in that situation whether he liked it or not, which is something I wanted to confirm or be corrected, thus the question, what does this story teaches us? Is it just karmic reactions or sometimes, is it possible that it is the will of the Supreme Lord Krishna?
"The word sin is not used in the sanskrit shloka. The word used is "vipada". This can be translated to danger or misery as Srila Prabhupada has done. By no stretch can it be translated to sin."
You're right but isn't danger the danger of committing sins and misery a result of the sins that could be committed because without sins how could there be misery or danger? Though the shloka does not mentioned it verbatim doesn't it imply that it was the danger of committing something unfavorable, case in point, sin, which leads to miserable existence, or something else which I'm not aware of, which, if you're kind enough, could shed some light on?
"Also the meaning of Shloka is not to highlight that danger or misery is a constant companion in the material world, but the shloka intends to convey how the danger or misery can be overcome. And it can be overcome by taking shelter of the lotus feet of the Sri Krsna in the form of chanting the holy names of Sri Krsna."
You're absolutely right but the confusion for me is that, if I'm not mistaken, Indra is also a devotee of Lord Vishnu/Lord Krishna but despite of that fact he is in trouble for the grave mistake of offending his spiritual master, Guru Brihaspati. How could someone, who has also taken shelter of the lotus feet of Lord Krishna and Guru could be overtaken by ego (which is another danger) and suffer from such great oversight as not showing respect to his spiritual master thus committing something very dangerous?
"I have not come across anywhere in Srimad Bhagavatam that Vrirasura caused draught. If you have come across it in Srimad Bhagavatam kindly provide reference. I ask this reference from SB not to challenge that Vritrasura caused draught, but for my own knowledge. So question of Indra's dilemma never arises. All narrations in Srimad Bhagavatam are from the spiritual point of view. From spiritual point of view the most important lesson is to remember Krsna at the time of death the way Vritrasura did."
I apologize for that. Please forgive me. I think I misremembered and conflated the story of Vritasura causing drought from another scripture with the accounts of Srimad Bhagavatam. However, my interest is in understanding why trouble finds us with or without us seeking it, and that the story of Indra and Vritasura offer us some answer regarding that?
"In the narrative in Srimad Bhagavtam Indra is not the hero, Vritrasura is the hero."
Absolutely but that's not my point.
"So one of the most important lessons from both incidents is that we should not even remotely offend vaishnavas. And even if an offence happens by us, we should humbly seek forgiveness. Otherwise it will lead to a series of mistakes which will spiral downward leading to further and further implications and misery."
No one wants to neither do no one seeks to and when someone does commit that offence they do humbly seek for forgiveness but despite of all the knowledge about the troubles of offending a Vaishnava and all the diligence, it happens anyway, even among exalted personalities such as Indra, Chitraketu etc. The question is why does it happen?
"So in summary the lesson I learn is exactly the opposite of what you mentioned. - Be very careful in every dealing because one mistake could lead to a very dangerous situation. Not because of the material world but because of our own shortcomings. We are nto perfect so always take shlter of Krsna."
That's exactly my understanding, one little error and someone could land into big trouble and chances of that are pretty high because we are flawed unless of course if you're a surrendered soul at the lotus feet of Lord Krishna but sometimes even with that in the checklist things aren't always as rosy, which is a question I'm seeking. I'm afraid you haven't really answered my question but thank you.
Yes, you are right. Lord Vishnu informed demigods that Vritrasura was a devotee. I had missed that part. Also Yes, Indra was in a dilema due to fear of killing another brahmana after killing one earlier and offending one in the first place. I stand corrected. Thank you.
Is it just karmic reactions or sometimes, is it possible that it is the will of the Supreme Lord Krishna?
It is always misuse of freewill that leads to bad karma. It is definitely NOT due to the will of the supreme personality of godhead Krsna that a living entity suffers misery in material world. The supreme lord allows material energy to act on living entitiies based on the karma of living entities. But supreme lord is never responsible for the suffering of the living entity. He is equal to all
samo ’haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu
na me dveṣyo ’sti na priyaḥ
I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. (BG 9.29)
The lord also says the living entities are his parts
The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.(BG 15.7)
So considering the above the lord would never put any living entity faultlessly under misery.
How could someone, who has also taken shelter of the lotus feet of Lord Krishna and Guru could be overtaken by ego (which is another danger) and suffer from such great oversight as not showing respect to his spiritual master thus committing something very dangerous?
They could if they have not fully taken shelter of the shelter of the lotus feet of the lord. Indra is not a pure devotee of lord Sri Krsna. He is a great personality king of heavens, highly knowledgeable, very powerful and all that. But Indra is not greater than the material energy. They only way to be not deluded by material energy is taking complete shelter of Sri Krsna. The way little boy Prahlad did. This is not to say that Indra is not a devotee, he is a devotee but like many demigods he still aspires for material opulence. This is also the case with many practicing devotees on earth. We still aspire for material things and also want to pursue spiritual practice of pursuing love for Krsna. So being mixed in our consciousness we just like king Indra get both type of proceeds. This will happen to any living entity who is not fully Krsna conscious. Krsna consciousness is the only way to be pure and free from all reactions.
daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī
mama māyā duratyayā
mām eva ye prapadyante
māyām etāṁ taranti te
This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it. (BG 7.14)
However, my interest is in understanding why trouble finds us with or without us seeking it, and that the story of Indra and Vritasura offer us some answer regarding that?
A similar question was asked by Arjuna to Sri Krsna and Sri Krsna answers it unambiguously
atha kena prayukto ’yaṁ
pāpaṁ carati pūruṣaḥ
anicchann api vārṣṇeya
balād iva niyojitaḥ
Arjuna said: O descendant of Vṛṣṇi, by what is one impelled to sinful acts, even unwillingly, as if engaged by force? (BG 3.36)
kāma eṣa krodha eṣa
viddhy enam iha vairiṇam
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world. (BG 3.37)
The lord continues giving more details about this in further Shlokas till end of chapter 3 in BG.
So it is the material desires present within living entity that is actively sought and fulfilled by material energy that leads to living entity performing bad actions leading to bad karma and reactions of it and continuing the cycle of bondage of birth and death.
but despite of all the knowledge about the troubles of offending a Vaishnava and all the diligence, it happens anyway, even among exalted personalities such as Indra, Chitraketu etc. The question is why does it happen?
In case of Indra it was a lapse in following ettiquette. Indra did not actively commit any offense, it was more of passive offense of failing to respect his spiritual master. But it was a conscious choice which was made by Indra for a few moments. In case of King Chitraketu it was very negligible offense as evident from the fact that Lord Shiva never took offense of his words. But still it was unnecessary. Both these incidents could have been avoided had they been fully absorbed in Krsna conscious.
There are examples when devotees performed the exact same acts as Indra and Chitraketu but they did not get any reaction because they were absorbed in Krsna consciousness.
1. When King Parikshit visited hermitage of sage Shamik, he also failed to respect King Parikshit who was a great devotee. But sage Shamik did not get any reaction to that because he did not do it due to pride and was fully absorbed in meditation of the supreme lord.
2. King Bali directly disobeyed the order of his spiritual master at the cost of getting cursed from Shukracarya, but he did not get sinful reactions for it. King Bali lost his kingdom temporarily but will gain heavely kingdom for pleasing lord.
because we are flawed unless of course if you're a surrendered soul at the lotus feet of Lord Krishna but sometimes even with that in the checklist things aren't always as rosy, which is a question I'm seeking.
Lord Sri Krsna has given full assurance that anyone who is fully surrendered to Him will never perish
kṣipraṁ bhavati dharmātmā
na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati
He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kuntī, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.
Generally, a devotee who is engaged in the nine kinds of devotional activities is engaged in the process of cleansing all material contamination from the heart. He puts the Supreme Personality of Godhead within his heart, and all sinful contaminations are naturally washed away. Continuous thinking of the Supreme Lord makes him pure by nature. According to the Vedas, there is a certain regulation that if one falls down from his exalted position he has to undergo certain ritualistic processes to purify himself. But here there is no such condition, because the purifying process is already there in the heart of the devotee, due to his remembering the Supreme Personality of Godhead constantly. Therefore, the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare should be continued without stoppage. This will protect a devotee from all accidental falldowns. He will thus remain perpetually free from all material contaminations. ( BG 9.31)
The SUpreme Personality of godhead Sri Krsna is more eager to purify us and take us back home back to godhead than we are. He appears as Lord Sri Chaitanya just to give us the all auscpicious Harinam which is also the means and the end goal getting ourselves out of this material existence.
That makes a lot of sense. You have clarifiend a lot of doubts and confusion regarding this episode for me. You alse have been very kind and patient. Thank you for everything.
Great story indeed.
The way I see it is just as the core of ALL the purana stories. Not only Bhagavata Purana, but all of them;
Do your prescribed duty, as so stated in BG by Krishna Himself again and again.
In stories, parabells and many happenings in all times past, present and future, the purana's tells us this simple task over and over and over again.
The flowerish texts of the veda's and all sorts of laws(was it smirti's??) stated in Purana's upanisads etc etc.. are overwhelming ; if you do this you gain this or that ; if you do that or this you suffer from this or that... etc.. BUT as Krishna says in all the conversations to His devotees in the form of Krishna or Visnu or whatever name He is notified by in all scriptures, he always says in sometimes chapters, sometimes just a simple phraze; "Do your prescribed duties!" So Arjuna had to fight(well Arjuna is known in the many purana's under other names in conversation with Krishna who is also known under different names, but the core of the messege is the same, always!)
So yes 'we' al have to do our prescribed duties, even if it means we have to trespass a law or with our little condidioned souls think we make an offence by do our prescribed dutie. Be it imperfect, it does not matter, it is what Krishna you want to be to do at that place time and circumstances. Yes you may hurt one or several, yes you may even kill one or multiple even your closest like Arjuna is so afraid of. But in the end it is I, I ,I .. or way you who have to stay on the path of perfection to do your prescribed dutie to go back to Godhead in the end. That road certainly will be lonley in material way of speaking. You lose friend and family along the way because they do not like to deal with the bhakti cult to perfection. Why? Same as you might had in the begin; the material world is full of 'fun&nice things' t suit the mind, tongue and heart. But in the end you discover it is a bit different.
A sin, or black and white is in spiritual world nothng... demons and demigods are both under rule of Krishna. Everything is Krishna, just by our dirty minds by 3 modes of nature, set forth by time made us think ; this is good, this is bad. But all has it's purpose. If you read all the purana's you discover they are all stories telling just one thing; this! Out of many point of views by many conversations between Krishna and His devotees from begin till end of creation. Records told and written down by persons in different times but same context and stories heard and told by it looks like different persons, but in fact they are all the same persons, but in other bodily conditions.
In the end it is not hard to go back to Godhead. As long you try to understand the core of the stories and forget the details. The details are good to get deeper in the matter and get motivated or more curious about how to get closer to God. That is the purpose of the Purana's and holy scriptures. To get you more and more attached and understand God's ways. But in the end He 'just' want you to do your duty wich He fascilitates your body condition to do so. The individual soul is just lie; "Nah I like this more or that I can do to, may I?"Krishna is than like;"Oh well go ahead! Come home another time, don't make it too long! I'll leave the path open for you and if you are ready I'll send you my servants to get you home by special transport to make you happy, because you make Me happy if you like to come home!"
Than again; do never think; because of Kali Yuga this bad or that bad happens so what to do about it(like drought and so on)... no. Just do your prescribed duty and all will be alright if chant;
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare!
Yes, that makes sense. No matter what happens, just persevere and endure the troubles by executing your prescribed duties and to not be afraid because the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Krishna will protect you if you take shelter of His lotus feet. Thank you.
This understanding is correct as Lord Brahma says the same
tat te ’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo
bhuñjāna evātma-kṛtaṁ vipākam
hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jīveta yo mukti-pade sa dāya-bhāk
My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim.( SB 10.14.8)