Real Happiness

Real Happiness

INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS

Founder-Ācārya: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda

The following Radhadesh Retreat lecture on Mahābhārata (part 3)  was given by His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami in Radhadesh, Belgium, July 2011.

Devotee: [Unclear]… they are happy to have generous serving.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Good, it’s good to have good prasāda and fall asleep

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And no prasādam and stay up the whole night [Laughter]. So, yes, the purpose of this retreat is to experience the joy of Kṛṣṇa Consciousness and one of the most sublime ways to experience the joy of Kṛṣṇa Consciousness is by honoring Kṛṣṇaprasāda. kṛṣṇa baro doyāmoy, koribāre jihwā jay, swa-prasād-anna dilo bhāi. Kṛṣṇa is very kind and in order to conquer our senses… and of the senses which one is the most dangerous?

Devotees: The tongue.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: So, if the tongue is controlled then the rest of the senses will  also be controlled. So, in order to conquer the tongue, Kṛṣṇa gave Kṛṣṇaprasāda. How to conquer the tongue? We honor the prasāda and sing the glory of Kṛṣṇa. This is the function of the tongue: to taste, to relish food and to chant the glory of the Lord. Otherwise, the tongue invites death, just as the frog by croaking invites the snake. A frog’s arch enemy is the snake or a snake’s most delicious food is a frog [Laughter].

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: So, the frog croaks and hearing the sound of the croaking of the frogs, the snake comes and eats it up. So, our business is to conquer death and it’s such a wonderful way of conquering death, by honoring Kṛṣṇa-prasāda, by hearing Kṛṣṇakathā and by chanting Kṛṣṇa conscious activities, chanting the wonderful activities of Kṛṣṇa; such a simple and sublime, most relishable way. Once Prabhupāda said, “Our business is to dance back to Godhead.” When does one dance? When one is happy. Dance is actually an expression, an internal expression of inner joy. When internally we feel the joy, the joy becomes expressed in the form of dance. So, we just go back, our business is to go back to the spiritual sky, dancing. That is how wonderful devotional service is. In every situation a devotee remains joyful. In every situation he is joyful and that’s what we see with the Pāṇḍavas.

Apparently the Pāṇḍavas’s life is full of misery. They got such an exalted birth, a birth in the family that ruled the entire earth planet but in spite of being born in that family, where are they born? They are born in the mountain, away from the palace, away from the kingdom in a very austere atmosphere. To live in the mountains is very austere. It’s very cold. The foods do not grow so abundantly in the mountain. It is cold, it’s difficult even to get water you have to probably walk a long distance. So, they were in that situation apparently. All these are actually apparent situations. Although born from the demigods, not ordinary persons, born in such an exalted family, born out of such exalted parents, son of Yamarāja, son of Vāyu, son of Indra, son of Aśvinī-Kumaras, they are all actually demigods and they are actually their sons. And then on top of that, the father died all of a sudden when they were just little children. Then they were brought back to the royal palace and there, they were suffering so much because their cousins were so envious. From their childhood they developed that animosity towards the Pāṇḍavas. So vicious, we can see how vicious some people can be. Just as a child Duryodhana is trying to kill Bhīma poisoning him. And then when they grew up a little bit, at that time Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja along with the five brothers and Kuntī were sent to a place as if they were doing them a great favor. “O please go for a vacation,” but actually it was an arrangement to kill them. Duryodhana just wanted to kill Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja along with his brothers and it seemed that they are dead. So, although Kuntī is a queen and the Pāṇḍavas are princes, they are just wandering around as ascetics, brāhmaṇas. But one interesting thing we noticed there, that no matter how difficult their situation is, they are having a wonderful time.

So this is the life of a devotee. Apparently it seems that they are undergoing so many different hardships, but their life is full of bliss. They themselves are completely happy. How? Because actual happiness is not an external consideration. Actual happiness is not a matter of perception of pleasure by the senses. Somebody may be in a very, very opulent, very comfortable situation but he may be absolutely unhappy. We see that nowadays. Materially there is so much prosperity. Most of the people have money. I remember, when we were young, to have a car meant a rich man and having facilities like that was not very easily available, but now everybody has a car. Everybody has a car. So, say fifty years back it was a dream. O, when I will get a car? But now you can buy a car in dozens. Everybody has a car but are they happy? Everybody has so much opulence. I remember when I was young, in India, like to earn thousand rupees, was a lot of money and we used to call that a four figure salary. Four digits [Laughter]

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: It was called four figure salary. To earn a four figure salary meant a big position. Now even the maids in the house are more than thousand rupees a month. Those days, the biggest paid person in India, was earning twenty five thousand rupees. Nowadays bank clerks, office clerks have that kind of money, twenty-five, thirty thousand. How much time has changed? But did it make people any happier? On the other hand, we see the devotees; apparently they go through so many difficulties. But how the devotees are, look at their face and you know how they are. Ever since you have accepted Kṛṣṇa Consciousness did your life become more joyful?

 Devotees: Yes.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: How many of you think that your life has improved since you became a devotee? So this is the proof. Real happiness is not an external consideration it’s an internal state of purity.

So we discussed up to sabhā-parva of Mahābhārata. Sabhā means ‘assembly hall’. What happened in the assembly hall? First the assembly was built by Māyā dānava, a unique assembly hall.  It is, you see, yesterday I didn’t mention about the dimension of that assembly hall. It was about 100 miles long and 50 miles wide.

Devotees: Wow.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: [Laughter]. You speak of peak time. So this is the, this is the kind of assembly hall that was built. Like, I was telling yesterday. It took Māyā dānava 14 months to build that and he collected all kinds of wealth from all over the world to build that hall. And anyway, on top of that it had its mystique effect. This opulence of the Pāṇḍavas simply made Duryodhana and his party more and more envious. So that is the thing about the wicked people. The wicked people are naturally envious of the prosperity of the devotees. When the devotees prosper, the wicked one’s heart begins to burn with envy. They just can’t tolerate the opulence of the devotees and as a result of that, due to their envious nature what did they do? They simply tried to cause distress to the Pāṇḍavas. They deceived them of all their possessions and then finally they had to leave, not only their kingdom, everything and went to the forest. At that time, Vidura suggested that let Kuntī stay with him because Kuntī was old and she won’t be able to tolerate the hardships of forest life. So, Kuntī stayed back in Hastinapur at Vidura’s place and Subhadrā along with five sons of the Pāṇḍavas were sent to Dvārakā and in this way, just taking care of their immediate responsibilities, Pāṇḍavas left for the forest. They travelled north and they only took, it was only five Pāṇḍavas and Draupadī and along with them, they took only fourteen servants along with their wives and they travelled north. While they were leaving for the forest, all the brāhmaṇas, they started to follow them. So that night they came on the bank of Ganges and slept and spent the night there drinking only water. So next morning Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja was feeling very bad that so many brāhmaṇas are accompanying him and it is the responsibility of a warrior, kṣatriya to take care of the brāhmaṇas. Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja used to feed thousand brāhmaṇas every day. You know what kind of feeding that was? They were served in golden plates with golden utensils and they used to be served the most delicious Kṛṣṇaprasādam. That is how Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja used to treat the brāhmaṇas every day.

But now all these brāhmaṇas are following him and he is worried how he is going to feed them because he doesn’t have anything. So, he begged the brāhmaṇas, “Please don’t follow me, please don’t follow, come with us because we won’t be able to feed you.” Brāhmaṇas said, “We are brāhmaṇas; we are used to austerities. We don’t eat anything. We can fast for days. We love to fast [Laughter].” That is the quality of a brāhmaṇa. Whatever comes, we are happy with that and if nothing comes, we are happy with that also. So, Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja begged “Please.” Then the brāhmaṇas were completely adamant, completely determined to follow him, Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja then approached Dhaumya. Dhaumya was their family priest. They wanted to do, they are saying that they can just fast. They don’t care for any food. Whatever will come to them naturally, they will be happy with that. But I can’t put them in that situation. Then Dhaumya told Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja, see how wise the people in Vedic time or people in Vedic culture used to be. You see Dhaumya’s reply was that the sun is the source of all food. Sun is the source of all food. Now you consider how the food generates. Seeds are there but the seed will need water. How is the water generated? How is the water irrigated all over? How irrigation takes place?

Devotees: Rain

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: The rain. And how does the rain come? The sun makes the water evaporate and it forms a cloud. Then the cloud is dispersed throughout and due to condensation it comes down as rain. The first consideration is water and the second consideration is rays of the sun. Without the sun’s rays, the vegetation will not grow and in this way he gave a very scientific explanation, of how the sun is the source of all food. He actually went even further. You know how? He just didn’t mention about vegetation and harvest. The vegetations are then eaten by the cows. The grass and other things are eaten by the cows. The cows give milk and from the milk, ghee is made. With the ghee, sacrifice is performed and as a result of the sacrifice, food comes. So, eventually Dhaumya, after explaining all that, told him, told Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja, to perform austerities to please the sun, the Sun god. So, Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja performed austerities and as a result of that austerities the Sun god became pleased and came to him and asked to him, “Yudhiṣṭhira what do you want.” So he told him about his difficulty. So, the Sun god gave him a celestial copper pot, copper vessel and said that “Ask Draupadī to cook in this. Whatever she cooks, it will be inexhaustible.” That means you take the food from that, it will become replenished again. As you take out it will [Laughter] automatically become replenished. “But then Draupadī will eat at last and after Draupadī would eat then it won’t produce any more food for that day.” So, with that vessel, receiving that vessel, Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja then gave it to Draupadī and everyday they were feeding thousands of brāhmaṇas in the middle of the forest. So, one problem was solved in this way.

And in the mean time, one day as I told you earlier that after the Pāṇḍavas were sent into the exile, forest, the saintly personalities the sages from the celestial planets, celestial planets mean? Where do the sages, actual sages live? Do you know? There are seven planetary systems, seven higher planetary systems. Where are we? We are in the middle of it. We are the lowest of the higher planetary systems, earth planet, bhūrloka. Above bhūrloka is bhuvarloka. Above bhuvarloka is svargaloka. Above svargaloka, svargaloka is the place where the demigods reside. But above svargaloka is Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapaloka. There are different categories of sages, saintly brāhmaṇas and according to their category, they are in Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapaloka and then finally in Brahmā’s abode Satyaloka. So, the sages came and told Dhṛtarāṣṭra that, “it has been an extremely inappropriate act on their part and the result of that will be extremely, extremely horrible. Dhṛtarāṣṭra will lose all his children; they all will be dead after 13 years.”

So you can imagine Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s situation. Like, the father is being told that all his hundred children are going to die. So, in this way Dhṛtarāṣṭra was spending his days in extreme anxiety. Now this is another example. Pāṇḍavas in the forest, they are enjoying. Dhṛtarāṣṭra in his palace is in extreme anxiety. Duryodhana in his palace, the ruler of the earth planet practically, but his heart is constantly burning. In one hand his heart is burning with envy and at the same time his head is splitting with anxiety. So, what is desirable to live in a palace in that condition or to live in a simple atmosphere where one can happily spend his days? Actually there is another consideration: why the Pāṇḍavas were in that situation. We have to understand that these are Kṛṣṇa’s arrangement. Kṛṣṇa puts His devotees in such a situation where the saintly personalities can have their association. Those days where the sages and saintly personalities used to live? They used to live in the forest. That’s why the Pāṇḍavas were in that situation. So that the saintly personalities could have their association and the Pāṇḍavas could also have the association of the saintly personalities. So, Dhṛtarāṣṭra being in acute anxiety called Vidura and asked Vidura, “What to do? The situation is so critical.” So, Vidura just, he is another personality, he is so straightforward, he just respects the truth; he doesn’t care about others feelings as such. Whether Dhṛtarāṣṭra would like it or not, he didn’t care. His business is to present the truth. So he told him that, “You see the only way you can reverse the situation is that, let Duryodhana give the kingdom back to them. Make peace with them. Beg forgiveness with them. Let Karṇa and Shakuni beg forgiveness from all the Pāṇḍavas. Let Dusasana fell at Draupadī’s feet, beg forgiveness and let Śakuni, Karṇa and Dusasana become Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja’s servants.”

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Dhratarastra was extremely upset. He said, “You are not my brother. You are not my friend. You are not my well wisher. You are my enemy. That’s why you are speaking like that.” And in his anger he told him to leave the palace, told him to get out of the palace. Vidura was happy with the opportunity. He just left. He went straight to the Pāṇḍavas. The Pāṇḍavas were in Kamakavagh at that time. He came at that time and he was happy to be with the Pāṇḍavas.

But Dhṛtarāṣṭra, after a little while, he realized his mistake. So, he sent Sañjaya, his secretary, to bring Vidura back. And when Vidura came back and he started to tell how the Pāṇḍavas are doing, like how Bhīma on the third day of the exile killed a terrible demon called Kimira, he became- and they are having such a happy time and he told so many brāhmaṇas are with him. And they are spending the whole day practically discussing about Kṛṣṇakathā and Dhṛtarāṣṭra became even more envious and became afraid, because Timira, bare handed Bhīma killed Kimira, a terrible demon, who was noted for his prowess. So in this way, we can see that how envious people, wherever they are, they become more and more envious. And he also told them how these brāhmaṇas are fed by Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja every day with this celestial vessel which the Sun god gave to them, Vivasvana gave to them. And Duryodhana and his accomplices were very happy when Vidura left because Duryodhana could not stand Vidura, because Vidura was, he was a very outspoken person. Right in front of Duryodhana he would tell Dhṛtarāṣṭra “That didn’t I tell him at the time of birth that you get rid of this ….”

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And so when Vidura left, Duryodhana, Karṇa and Śakuni were very happy. Now they can actually control Dhṛtarāṣṭra. After all, they had to take the advice of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, approval of Dhṛtarāṣṭra. They couldn’t do whatever they wanted because Dhṛtarāṣṭra was the king and their father. But when Vidura came back, they became very upset. Why this character came back again?

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And so they just became very upset and they decided to attack the Pāṇḍavas. They thought, now that they are in the forest without any support, without any help, let us go and kill them. So they were all set to attack the Pāṇḍavas in the forest, to kill them but at that time Vyāsadeva came there and he prevented them from that. And Vyāsadeva also went and reported to Dhṛtarāṣṭra, advised Dhṛtarāṣṭra that how inappropriate this act was and how severe, how ominous the consequences will be. So at that time Dhṛtarāṣṭra begged him, “Please do something with Duryodhana. He doesn’t listen to me. Make him understand. Just don’t tell me. Tell him. Make him understand because I can’t control him.” So at that time Vyāsadeva said, “I won’t tell him but very soon Maitreya Rṣi will come, a very exalted sage. Maitreya Rṣi will come and Maitreya Rṣi will give him good advice. But if he doesn’t listen to him or rather he said that please tell him that he should listen to Maitreya Rṣi because Maitreya Rṣi is a very, very exalted sage.”

In the mean time when the news reached Dvārakā, at that time Kṛṣṇa was not in Dvārakā, when this happened, the game of dice took place, Kṛṣṇa was not there, Kṛṣṇa was fighting with Śālva. You remember during the battle during the rājasūya sacrifice? O I did not tell you that story, that part of Mahābhārata. When Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja was performing rājasūya-yajña, Kṛṣṇa killed Śiśupāla. Śiśupāla was Kṛṣṇa’s cousin but Śiśupāla was extremely envious about Kṛṣṇa. He would always blaspheme Kṛṣṇa. So in that sacrifice, the greatest honor was offered to Kṛṣṇa, argha was offered to Kṛṣṇa. Actually the argha is offered to the most respected person. So argha was offered to Kṛṣṇa but Śiśupāla became very upset. He said, “Why it has been offered to Kṛṣṇa. Like in which calculation? If it is according to age, then Kṛṣṇa’s father Vāsudeva is present here. So Kṛṣṇa doesn’t deserve if the calculation is according to age. If the calculation is according to one’s character and activities then there are so many exalted personalities. If it is according to wisdom then there are sages like Nārada and Vyāsadeva are here.” So he gave different calculations like with which one’s greatness is calculated and according to that Kṛṣṇa was not fit. Like with any material calculation we actually cannot measure Kṛṣṇa’s greatness. And then so he started to blaspheme saying He is a debauchee, no one knows about His birth. No one knows whether He is a vaiśya or a kṣatriya. And all are actually are true. Nobody knows about Kṛṣṇa’s birth because Kṛṣṇa is never born. Kṛṣṇa is neither a vaiśya nor a kṣatriya because Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

And so at that time, some very interesting episode actually took place: Bhīṣma at that time when he called Kṛṣṇa a debauchee, he said, Bhīṣma said, “The whole world knows me as a celibate. I am celebrated all over the world because of my vow of celibacy and I worship Kṛṣṇa, because He is the greatest brahmacārī [Laughter].

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: So in this way and at that time Sahadeva actually made an announcement. He said, “If anybody questions about Kṛṣṇa’s greatness, I kick him on his head.” And they were about to attack Śiśupāla but Kṛṣṇa said, “Don’t worry. Don’t stop. Let him go.” And then finally Kṛṣṇa invoked His sudarśanacakra and sudarśanacakra severed his head. At that time everyone saw a wonderful sight. His spirit soul, Śiśupāla’s spirit soul came out of his body like a spark, effulgent spark and then it merged into Kṛṣṇa’s body.

Anyway, so because Śiśupāla was killed by Kṛṣṇa, Śiśupāla’s friend Śālva became very, very upset and he decided to attack Kṛṣṇa. So, because of that, Kṛṣṇa was not present. So the news reached them there in Dvārakā. So all the Yadus came to see the Pāṇḍavas along with Kṛṣṇa. And Kṛṣṇa told, “Unfortunately I was not there at that time. Otherwise I would have stopped this game of dice.” But then Kṛṣṇa told them, “It is only a matter of time. In course of time the battle will take place. In that battle the final decision will be made.” And at that time different people took vows. Sikandi took a vow that he would kill Bhīṣma. Drstadyumna took a vow that he would kill Droṇācārya. Bhīma took a vow that he would kill Duryodhana. And Arjuna took a vow that he would kill Karṇa.

So we can see already the scene was set. They took their vow and they naturally would act in order to fulfill their promises. Then Vyāsadeva came to the Pāṇḍavas, Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja… and advised him to prepare for the battle. And in order to prepare for the battle, Arjuna should go to the heavenly planets and get all the celestial weapons. Arjuna should try to get all the celestial weapons. So, Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja told that to Arjuna. So, Arjuna left to the north and after crossing the Himalayas, he came to a region which was completely empty. And when he was proceeding in that region, beyond the Himalayas, that means not, we have to understand this is not on the earth planet. It is happening in another region, beyond the region of the earth planet, beyond Himalayas, it means beyond the earth planet. Otherwise one can say, one would consider that “O did it mean that he went to Russia?”

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: That was not a consideration. Anyway when Arjuna was proceeding, walking, then he heard a voice saying, “That in this region, this region is meant for the brāhmaṇas and there is no need to carry your weapons. So please drop your weapons.” Arjuna didn’t want to comply with that instruction. Arjuna’s point was, “I have not come to drop all the weapons. I have come here to gain all the weapons. So why should I drop my weapons. Who are you?” And then he saw a sage emaciated with his austerities, but brilliant with spiritual potency, sitting there and he was telling. So Arjuna told him that. So when this encounter took place between two of them, so finally the sage disclosed himself as Indra. And he asked Arjuna “So what do you want?” Arjuna said, “I want all your weapons from the heavenly planets.” Indra said, “Okay I will give you that but first you have to please Mahādeva, Lord Śiva and then only. So you perform austerities to please Lord Śiva and then I will come and give you the weapons.”

So Arjuna lived just on air that means he only breathed, he didn’t eat, he didn’t drink and he performed austerities for four months. And then finally one day Lord Śiva came. When Arjuna was actually performing austerities sitting down in meditation, so Lord Śiva came to him. At that time, there was a demon called Muka assuming the form a boar, it was about to attack Arjuna. So when Arjuna saw the boar is charging towards him, he picked up his bow and arrow and aimed at the boar. And at that time Lord Śiva assumed the form of a hunter, Kirāta and told Arjuna, “Look I aimed at that boar first, so you don’t shoot your arrow.” So, Arjuna didn’t listen and both the arrows pierced the body of the boar and killed him. And so as a result of that a fight ensued between this hunter and Arjuna. Arjuna thought that this is an ordinary hunter. He said, “Who is he to tell me whether to shoot at this boar or not.” So, Arjuna started to fight with him. So, Lord Śiva as the hunter took away his bow from his hand. Then Arjuna pulled out his sword and hit him out on his head and the sword broke into pieces. So, when Arjuna did not have any weapon to fight with, he started to hit the hunter with his bare fist, but nothing happened to the hunter. So, finally Arjuna in utter desperation, he started to worship Lord Śiva. He offered him a garland and when he offered the garland to Lord Śiva, he found the next day that garland is on top of the crown of that hunter. So then he realized that this hunter is Lord Śiva. So he started to offer his prayers to Lord Śiva. Being very pleased with him, Lord Śiva gave him his weapon which is known as Pāśupata. Brahma-astra, Arjuna already had brahma-astra but this weapon is superior to brahma-astra. Brahma-astra means weapon of Lord Brahmā. Now Lord Śiva’s position is even above Lord Brahmā. So, his weapon is even superior. So, Arjuna acquired that. And after Lord Śiva left, Varuṇa came along with his associates. Then Kuvera came and Varuṇa, Kuvera, Vāyu and Indra, they all came. And they gave their weapons. Like, Varuṇa gave him the noose. The noose is a kind of a thing; Varuṇa’s noose can bind anybody. You have to just release that and the noose will bind that person. And then Kuvera gave him a weapon which is called antardhāna. Antardhāna, this weapon if it is released against the enemy, the enemy will fall asleep. And not Vāyu but Yamarāja actually came and gave him the mace. Yamarāja has a mace and gave him the mace. And when he asked Indra for the weapon, Indra at that time told him he would send his chariot and take him to the heavenly planet. So, he would send him a chariot. So, Arjuna was waiting for the chariot and then Arjuna was taken to the heavenly planet. And Arjuna stayed there for a long time and when he was in the heavenly planet, Indra treated him just like his son. When Indra would attend the court, in his throne he would make Arjuna sit next to him. Like Arjuna was sitting on the throne of demigods. Indra gave him the- asked his friend Citrasena, the king of the Gandharvas to teach Arjuna the art of dancing and music. And then one day when Urvaśī came to the court, Indra’s court, Arjuna just kept on looking at her. And seeing that Indra thought that, Arjuna is attracted to Urvaśī’s beauty. Who is Urvaśī? Urvaśī is the most beautiful celestial damsel, apsarā. These apsarās are the most beautiful creatures who simply give pleasures to the demigods. They are meant for providing pleasure to the demigods. And in heavenly planet this kind of relationship is alright because anyway this is…

So, when Indra saw Arjuna looking at Urvaśī like that, he thought that probably Arjuna desires Urvaśī. So, he told Urvaśī, Indra told Urvaśī to go to Arjuna at night. So, when Urvaśī approached Arjuna, Arjuna told her that he looks at her as his mother. And then Urvaśī said, “See in the heavenly planet, we have these kind of relationships which is perfectly alright.” Then but Arjuna disclosed how, why he looked like that because Urvaśī was the originator of their dynasty. Purūravā and Urvaśī was the originator of Soma dynasty. But Urvaśī became so upset with Arjuna, she cursed him, “That since you are behaving in this way, you will become a eunuch for one year. You will become a eunuch for one year.” And so when Arjuna reported that to Indra, Indra said, “Don’t worry. It will act to your favor. For the one year that you have to remain incognito, at that time you accept this curse and nobody will be able to recognize you.”

So, one day Loma Rṣi Muni came to Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja and told him how he saw Arjuna was sitting on the throne with Indra and very soon Arjuna would come back with all the celestial weapons. So Arjuna did come back with all the celestial weapons after some time and they all were very happy to have Arjuna back.

So, although in the forest they all were having a wonderful time and few noticeable incidents took place when they were in the forest: once Draupadī saw a blue lotus; it just came flying with the wind and it’s extremely fragrant. Then Draupadī went and told Bhīma,”Bhīma look at this lotus. I want many such lotuses like that. Find out where these lotuses bloom and please bring these lotuses.” And Bhīma, because Draupadī had gone through so many difficulties, his attitude was whatever Draupadī wanted, he would just bring that for her. So Bhīma went in search of this lotus and he came to the region of Kuvera in the Himalayas. But Kuvera’s guards tried to prevent Bhīma. On the way a very nice, interesting thing happened. When he was going up the mountains, he found a monkey on the way. So, he told the monkey, “Look, get out of my way. Otherwise probably you will get trampled under my feet.” The monkey said, “Look I am very old. I don’t have the strength to move. So, maybe you can move me aside and make your way.” So Bhīma thought he will teach this audacious monkey some lesson. He thought that he will catch him by his tail and throw him away. But when he tried to pull that monkey, he couldn’t even lift his tail. He struggled so hard. So finally he asked him, “Who are you?” He said that I am your brother, [Laughter] Hanumān.

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Because Hanumān also is born of Vāyu. So, and in this way they had their encounter and Bhīma requested him to help them in their struggle against the Kauravas. Then Hanumān said, “Yes, during the battle of Kurusetra, I will stay on the flag of Arjuna’s chariot and I will roar so ferociously that the enemies will become nervous. They will become afraid. And that will make Arjuna easy to deal with them.” And this is how Hanumān was on top of Arjuna’s chariot. And anyway, Bhīma pleased Kuvera also. Kuvera’s guards tried to stop Bhīma there but he, Bhīma killed them, so many of them, and that finally Kuvera came and stopped Bhīma. And this way Bhīma received the favor of Kuvera also.

Then one day, one another incidence is that: one day they thought they would go and display their opulence to the Pāṇḍavas and make them envious. So when they were in the forest, the Pāṇḍavas were in the forest and undergoing such difficult times and Kauravas were living such an opulent life, so they went there with all their wives and entourage. And when they went there, on the way some Gandharvas stopped them. They said, “Look our king is having his bath in the river along with his wives, so please don’t come.” Then Duryodhana said, “Who wants to listen to your… who cares about your king; So who dares to stop us.” And as a result of that a fight ensued between the Gandharvas and Duryodhana’s army. And as a result of that Duryodhana was captured along with his wives. Duryodhana, Dusasana, the brothers, they were all captured by the Gandharva king. So some of the soldiers who escaped, they went and reported to Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja, “Duryodhana had been arrested, the Gandharva king along with his wives.” So Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja told Arjuna, “Arjuna you go and rescue them.” Bhīma was jubilant. It serves them right. But when he heard about Yudhiṣṭhira’s order to him and Arjuna to rescue them, he was very upset, “Why should we rescue them? Like, they have done so much harm to us.” At that time Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja said a very wonderful, made a very wonderful statement. He said, “When it is an issue between us, then they are hundred and we are five. But when it is a matter of dealing with outsiders, we are hundred and five.” And he gave the reason that it is the consideration of the family prestige. It is our family members who have been arrested. Their wives have being harassed. So it is our duty to rescue. Anyway the Vedic culture is very obedient culture. Whatever the elder brother said, the younger brothers followed. So Arjuna went and dealt with the Gandharva king. Who is the Gandharva king? Citrasena, who he befriended when he was in heaven. Citrasena told him, “Why they actually came, these Kauravas. They came to display their opulence and make them envious. And he said actually Indra sent Him to arrest them, so that’s why.” But Arjuna pleaded to release them because Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja wanted. So Citrasena released Duryodhana and his entourage.

In that battle Karṇa ran away, the big hero. And Duryodhana, he ran away, but Duryodhana and his brothers were arrested. And so being humiliated in this way, like being arrested by the Gandharavas and rescued by Arjuna, Duryodhana decided to give up his life fasting and he… Śakuni and Dusasana and all tried to persuade him not to do that. But Duryodhana was adamant. So, he was fasting to death and took a vow to fast until death. But at that time the demons they actually got Duryodhana’s subtle body to the lower planetary system and there they told him Duryodhana actually is the product of their sacrifice to Lord Śiva to deal with the virtuous one in this world. Because the demons always have a conflict with the demigods. And he said that if Duryodhana gives up then they don’t have any hope.

In this way they also assured that when the battle will take place, in that battle they will possess different personalities. Some different demons will possess Bhīṣma. Different demons will possess Droṇācārya, Kṛpācārya and all these celebrated warriors and as a result of that they wouldn’t have any mercy for the Pāṇḍavas. And they would act in an inhuman way, being possessed by the demons. So, they told him not to give up. Victory is yours. We are with you. So, then Duryodhana changed his mind and broke his fast and went back to his kingdom. When this news became known to others, Bhīṣma actually told Duryodhana to make peace with the Pāṇḍavas. He told him, but Duryodhana simply laughed at Bhīṣma and walked away from there. At that time Karṇa went out to conquer all the kings of the world. And Duryodhana wanted to perform a rājasūya yajña but the sages told him, the brāhmaṇas told him that he can’t perform a rājasūya yajña as long as Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja is present. So, they adviced him to perform vaiṣṇava yajña. After defeating all the kings Duryodhana performed a vaisnava-­yajna and those who attended the assembly, the sacrifice, they openly started to tell this is not a fraction of what Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja performed. So, time and time again Duryodhana is being embarrassed and frustrated in this way.

When the Pāṇḍavas were in the forest, one day Vyāsadeva came to meet them. So Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja asked, “Why he has to undergo all these difficulties? Although, while he is trying his best to be situated on the path of righteousness. Then Vyāsadeva actually told them that, “Difficulties and happiness, pleasure and pain in this material nature, they move in cyclic order. One should not become affected by happiness and distress, pleasure and pain. One should simply learn to tolerate and carry on with the ultimate goal of life.”

Now one thing in Mahābhārata: Mahābhārata is not giving the perfect understanding of Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. It is kept in a hidden way. In Bhagavad-Gītā, in that verse ‘sarva dharmān parityajya’. But we have to understand that the ultimate goal of life is actually, ultimate righteousness is actually ‘sarva dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja’. But Vyāsadeva gives a hint here through an anecdote.

He told him that there was a sage called Mudgala Rṣi and Mudgala Rṣi performed severe austerities and as a result of that a chariot from heaven came to take Mudgala Rṣi to the heavenly planets. So, when the messenger from heaven came and told him that he came to take him to heavenly planets… He asked him to tell him about the heavenly planets. What is there in the heavenly planets. Messenger told him that in the heavenly planets there is this pleasure, that pleasure, so many facilities and so forth. This is okay. These are the advantages of heavenly planets. What are the disadvantages of heavenly planets? So he told that in the heavenly planet one enjoys as long as one’s piety is there, but when his piety gets exhausted then he falls down from heavenly planets and comes back to the earthly planets.

So, Mudgala Rṣi then said what’s the point in going to the heavenly planets? If I have to come back here again then why to go there at all? Tell me if there is any situation that is permanent. Then the messenger of heavenly planet told him about Viṣṇuloka, Vaikuṇṭha. So this is how Vyāsadeva actually gave some indication of Vaikuṇṭha-loka and the ultimate goal of life is not to be elevated to the heavenly planets but to be elevated to the spiritual sky. Because, due to lack of intelligence and lack of information, people think, generally the followers of Vedic culture think that the goal of life is to be elevated to the heavenly planets.

And another thing that happened was: one day Jayadratha, Jayadratha was a friend of Duryodhana, another demon and Jayadratha was married to Duryodhana’s sister, Dusala. So, while Jayadratha was going through the forest with his army, he saw Draupadī and seeing her beauty, he became so enamored that he decided to kidnap Draupadī. And he did that against her will. Forcibly he took her and took her into his chariot and ran away while the Pāṇḍavas were away. Dhaumya, the sage, the family priest, the family guru of the Pāṇḍavas, he was running after Jayadratha’s chariot in total desperation, not knowing what to do, how to rescue Draupadī, because he as a brāhmaṇ, he couldn’t stop them. So, when the Pāṇḍavas saw that the birds were flying and the animals were running in different direction, they thought that something must have happened, so they quickly came back to their house, cottage and they found that Draupadī had been kidnapped by Jayadratha. So, they immediately gave them a chase on their chariot. And soon they caught up with Jayadratha’s and seeing them coming, Jayadratha at first tried to counter them, to stop them in a fight, but in that fight Jayadratha’s son was killed, prince Kitaka was killed and many of his army were sLaughtered, many of his soldiers, warriors were sLaughtered. And being afraid, Jayadratha left Draupadī and ran away in his chariot. He dropped Draupadī thinking that she would be the cause of greater distress.

So, Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja took Draupadī and Dhaumya and went back to the āśrama and he told Bhīma not to kill Jayadratha. He said that if you kill Jayadratha then our sister, our cousin sister will become a widow and that will cause a great distress to Gāndhārī and Dhṛtarāṣṭra. So don’t kill Jayadratha. So Arjuna and Bhīma gave Jayadratha a chase. Now these warriors are so valiant that at one point, Jayadratha’s horse became tired and it couldn’t move anymore. So, Jayadratha jumped out of chariot and started to run on foot. So, when Jayadratha started to run on foot, Bhīma and Arjuna also stepped out of chariot and gave him a chase on foot. So, we can see how noble those people used to be, those personalities used to be. Like, they would not take superior advantage against the opponent. They would rather deal with the opponent on the equal platform. But still Bhīma caught him. And when [Laughter] Bhīma caught him, he started to hit him so bad, that Jayadratha lost his consciousness. So when he was unconscious, Bhīma stopped to hit him. But when he came back [Laughter] to his consciousness, Bhīma again started to hit him [Laughter].

 Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: and it was so terrible, the way he was doing that. He took his, he grabbed his hair and took him to the stone and kept on smashing his head. Then Arjuna told, “Look our elder brother Yudhiṣṭhira told not to kill him. Please [Laughter] don’t kill him.” So, then Bhīma became upset. He said, “For how long we have to tolerate the generosity of our elder brother [Laughter].”

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: and so then he said, “Okay fine we won’t kill him. But he has to become slave of Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja and fall at the feet of Draupadī and beg forgiveness.” So they took him to Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja. Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja told him to let him go, but before letting him go they shaved him, they shaved his head and kept five śikhās [Laughter]

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Indicating that now he has become the slave of five masters, the Pāṇḍavas. And Jayadratha was so badly insulted that he decided to either please Lord Śiva and be able to kill the Pāṇḍavas or give up his life. So, eventually Lord Śiva came and asked him, “What do you want.” Then he said, “I want to kill the Pāṇḍavas.” And Śiva said, “That will never happen. Pāṇḍavas are invincible nobody can defeat them. But one day in a battle you will be able to defeat the four Pāṇḍavas excluding Arjuna. You will be able to defeat them one day in a battle.” And that benediction from Lord Śiva actually worked at the time of the battle of Kurusetra, the day Abhimanyu was killed. Anyway, I will come to that later.

Then one day the Pāṇḍavas when they were in the forest, one sage came to them and said that, “While his arui stick was hanging from a tree, a dear came and that stick with the rope got entwined into his horn, into the horn of the deer and the deer ran away.” Now arui stick is a kind of wood. Just by rubbing that wood, they generate fire. So in the middle of the forest to generate fire, to ignite fire, this is the only way. So for the sages this arui stick is a very, very important asset. So, they came and told the Pāṇḍavas. So, the Pāṇḍavas said, “Okay sure we will go and rescue the arui stick from the deer. And when they were chasing the deer, chasing the deer, it was impossible to catch the deer and they went deeper and deeper and deeper into the forest. And being completely exhausted they just gave up and sat down, extremely thirsty.

Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja told Sahadeva to go and see if there is some water. And Sahadeva then climbed up a tall tree and he saw some waterbirds flying. So from that he could make out that there must be some water. So he went in that direction to fetch water. But when he came to the lake where, there he heard a voice saying, “That I am the proprietor of this lake. Please don’t touch this water without taking proper permission from me. If you do you will die. First you have to answer my questions and if you can successfully answer those questions then only you will be allowed to drink the water, to take the water.” But Sahadeva is so thirsty, so exhausted, he didn’t have the patience and he completely ignored this voice and he went to the water and he was dead. Then when Sahadeva didn’t return for a long time, Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja told Nakula to go. Same thing happened to Nakula. He also was dead because he approached the water without answering the questions of this person. And in this way after Nakula, Arjuna and Bhīma all were dead. Finally Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja went there and he saw all his four brothers are lying dead there and he was surprised that how could that happen because there was no sign of any struggle, that somebody fought with them and killed them. And so, when he approached the water, then the voice actually said that. “That first you answer my questions otherwise if you touch the water, you will also follow the same destiny as your brothers.” Then he asked, “Who are you?” He said, “I am a crane. I live in this water but actually I am a yakṣa.”

So, Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja said, “Okay fine, tell me what are your questions?” Then the yakṣa asked him, “Who is the real helpful companion? Who is really a helpful companion?” Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja’s answer was steady intelligence. Steady intelligence is the really helpful companion.

How can one acquire something very great? What is the way to acquire something great?” Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja’s answer was by performing austerities only we can achieve something great. Then he asked, he said, “Yes that’s correct.”

He said, “Now tell me what is nectar? What is nectar?” Then Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja answered cow’s milk is nectar. In this respect there is a beautiful anecdote with Akbar and Birbal. How many of you are acquainted with Akbar the king, the Mughal king who was noted for his wisdom and justice? And in his court there was an extremely intelligent person. His name was Birbal. So one day Akbar asked Birbal, “Birbal what is the best milk?” Birbal said buffalo milk.

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: He said, “No how can buffalo milk be the best milk, it must be cow’s milk.” Then Birbal said, “No buffalo milk.” Then finally Birbal told him that cow’s milk is not milk, cow’s milk is nectar [Laughter].

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: he asked, “What friend is bestowed upon a man by demigods. What friend the demigods have given to a man?” Anybody?

Devotee: Wife.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Wah! [Laughter] Very high opinion about yourself.

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Correct answer.

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: The friend that has been bestowed by the demigods to a man is his wife. Demigods have given that because the marriage took place in heaven. I was just adding that.

“For what reason a friend is forsaken? When does one give up a real friend?” Because of lust and greed that one gives up his genuine friend.

“When is a sacrifice considered dead”, he asked the question? Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja‘s reply was that, “When in a sacrifice the charity is not given to a brāhmaṇa, then it is, that sacrifice is useless or dead.”

Where does the real food come from? What is the real food?” Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja’s answer was cow. The reason is: for the milk she gives, is made into ghee. Ghee is necessary for performance of sacrifice and it is rain and it is sacrifice alone that produces the cloud that causes the rain to fall. It is rain from which seeds sprout from which all kinds of food are produced. Therefore, it should be considered that the cow is the root cause of all food.

That also reminds me of one incident. When the British were ruling Bengal, Bengal was so full of prosperity. It was so opulent. So, Lord Clive, who was actually the one who established the British colony in India by defeating the king of Bengal, he asked the brāhmaṇas, they used to be actually very wise, very smart. They asked the brāhmaṇas what is the root of this prosperity of Bengal? And the brāhmaṇas said, “The cows.” It is the cows. And the numbers of cows were phenomenal at that time. And at that time Clive actually made a rule everyday so many cows will be slaughtered. The cow killing actually was started by the British in India. Before that, the Muslims also did but they were not so bad. But the British actually made it a policy because they saw, that if the prosperity was there, then the people will not surrender. Like, how brutal these people used to be. Like, in 1942, the British wanted to recruit soldiers from India but the Indians won’t join the army. So, what did the British do? Nationwide they created a famine by burning all the crops. And as a result of that the scarcity drove people to join the army and millions of people died due to that famine. Anyway…

 What is the king of all education? What is the king of all education? And his answer was, what is raja vidya? King of knowledge is- knowledge about Kṛṣṇa, knowledge about the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the king of all education.

Then he asked, “What is ignorance?” And ignorance is not to know one’s constitutional duty. What is the constitutional duty of an individual? The constitutional duty of an individual is to recognize that he is the servant of Kṛṣṇa.

“What is the real charity?” The real charity is to protect people from the onslaught of material nature.

 “What is the cause of envy?” The cause of envy is born out of greed. Greed is the cause of envy.

So, in this way yakṣa was asking many questions and Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja answered all his questions. Finally he, the yakṣa who was standing in the middle of the lake in the form of a crane asked four questions, four final questions. These questions are actually very, very- the last four questions he asked are very wonderful. Please listen carefully.

He asked, “Who is really happy?”

Devotee: [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Who is really happy, truly happy?

Devotee: One who has no debt.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: very good, that is one aspect.

Devotee: [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja’s answer was one who cooks his own food.

Devotees: [Laughter].

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: One who doesn’t have any debt, and one who doesn’t have to go away from his home to earn his livelihood. So that person is actually happy.

What is the most amazing thing? This I am sure many of you can answer. Yes, Nisikanta.

Devotee: Although we are seeing people all around are suffering….

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Right. Although we are seeing what is the most amazing thing. Although, we are seeing that so many have died already in the past, so many people are dying now, so many people will die, everybody will die, but still we think that, that’s not going to happen to us. That’s the most amazing thing. We think that we will remain here forever.

What is the real path to follow in life? The real path of life cannot be ascertained by logic and argument, nor by simply going through the various Vedic literatures. It cannot be even understood by consulting learned Rṣis. The best path to follow is to follow in the footsteps of the pure devotees of the Lord for they are actual mahājanas whose hearts are sitting place for real truth about religion. How many of you remember this verse?

Devotee: mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: That’s the last line. But the entire verse

Devotee: [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: No. The verse goes like tarko ‘pratiṣṭhaḥ śrutayo vibhinnā, ‘by logic and argument, one cannot ascertain the real goal of life’. nāsāv rṣir yasya mataṁ na bhinnam,‘by approaching the sages also, we cannot ascertain that because they have different opinions about the goal of life’. But dharmasya tattvaṁ nihitaṁ guhāyām ‘the actual truth of religious principles is hidden in the heart of a devotee’ therefore, mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ, ‘the real path is to follow in the footsteps of these pure devotees, mahājanas’.

Transcription: Anonymous Helper
Editing: Rāmānanda Rāya Dāsa

Audio-reference: click here
Pictures: click here or here

But one interesting thing we noticed there, that no matter how difficult their situation is, they are having a wonderful time. So, this is the life of a devotee. Apparently it seems that they are undergoing so many different hardships, but their life is full of bliss. They themselves are completely happy. How? Because actual happiness is not an external consideration. Actual happiness is not a matter of perception of pleasure by the senses. Real happiness is not an external consideration it’s an internal state of purity.