Radhanath Swami: Today is, on our Vaishnava calendar, Bhismashtami, so it was decided we should speak something about Bhismadeva today. In today’s verse, Bhisma is speaking to Maharaj Yudhisthira and in this purport, Srila Prabhupada is telling how the Lord teaches the world through His devotee. There are many philosophical lessons and very subtle instructions as well in this incredible story. I just came yesterday from Melkote, also known as Triunarayanpur in south India. One of the 4 holiest places for the Vaishnava sampradaya and everyday we climbed a mountain. It had 400 stone steps to reach it. And there is a temple of Narasinghadev. Very ancient! According to the history of that place, Prahlad Maharaja, when he was king, he came there and he was worshiping a Saligram Shila on that hill, praying to Krishna to forgive him because he was thinking that because of him his father had to die. He was not seeing blame in Hiranyakasyipu, he was seeing blame in himself. Why? Just so that I could live, my father had to die. So he was worshiping Krishna, Lord Narsinghadev in the form of Saligram, to forgive his offense. He was lamenting, he was very seriously lamenting. And he went down to kalyani, a very ancient kund and when he came back up , the Saligram Shila manifested into a magnificent self manifested form of Lord Narasingha, Yoga Narasingha. And Narasingha spoke, He told Prahlad, “It’s not your fault, actually your father due to his own sins that he just had to be removed from this world. Don’t blame yourself anymore and besides that because of your loving devotion and your prayers for him, I have given him liberation.” So in this way Prahlad was pacified. Very inconceivable! The mind of a Vaishnava. Even when somebody creates the greatest injustice to a devotee, he devotee) is thinking because of me and we have a very similar story here in Srimad Bhagvatam. Maharaj Yudhisthira was faultless. He was honor and integrity personified. He did not want to harm anyone but Duryodhana was so envious and his comrades Dushashana, Shakuni, Karna, they all joined him and they convinced his own father Dhritrashtra, to join his campaign. Thus the innocent Yudhisthira and his brothers who were the rightful heirs to the throne were cheated. They were blasphemed. In order to disgrace them, Dushashana tried to strip Draupadi naked in the assembly of men. They tried to burn them alive to die a horrible death in the house of lac. They exiled them to the forest for 12 years and while they were there, as if that was not bad enough, Duryodhana sent people to disgrace and humiliate them in the forest. He even made plans to murder them and ultimately when the exile was done, Yudhisthira Maharaja was so patient, so kind.A Kshatriya needs something to rule over. Give us 5 villages only and you can rule the rest of the world. But Duryodhana’s response was, ‘I will not give you enough land that you can pierce the head of the needle through’. He was so envious, he was living such a treacherous example, he was the personification of adharma. Maharaj Yudhisthira was always his well wisher, he was kind and finally it was Krishna who decided that Kurukshetra has to happen. Krsna was a messenger trying to avert this war. Yudhisthira was trying by any means, finding alternative to this war but Duryodhana was so egoistic, so obsessed in his hatred that ultimately the war had to be fought and even during the war their were times that Yudhisthira Maharaja was ready to give everything to Duryodhana if he just gives them (the Pandavas) slightest concession. After Kurukshetra so many people died and Yudhsithira Maharaj was crowned as king and here he is lamenting like Prahlad. “Because of me all these people had to die. Because of me, all these women are widows, and all these children have no father, all so that I can sit on the throne.” Prahlad Maharaja was also sitting on the throne. This may seem illogical, impractical but its Vaishnava kriya buddhi navijaya. It’s the inconceivable nature of the heart of true devotee. Just the opposite of material conditioning, we are very eager to blame people for what they have done against us, for our own shortcomings, blame other people, circumstances, God or anything or anyone for our mistakes, for our failures. Actually for a conditioned soul, even when they are completely wrong themselves, they want to blame somebody else. That is the ego. But a devotee has no inclination to blame others or to criticize. Rupa Goswami explains this is one of the qualities of the devotee that the propensity to criticize others is not in that person’s heart. In the case of Prahlad Maharaja, Narasinghadev had to manifest again just to pacify him. In the case of Yudhisthira Maharaja, so many people told Yudhisthira Maharaja, ‘It’s not your fault’. And Krishna by His own love for His devotee Bhismadev, He by His own free will was unable to pacify Yudhisthira Maharaja. So he brought Yudhisthira Maharaja from Hastinapur back to Kurukshetra with the Pandavas because Krishna wanted Bhisma to get that credit of speaking the highest truth to pacify the heart of Yudhisthira and also Bhisma who was laying in the bed of arrows, from his neck to his feet, you couldn’t put your finger between two arrows, there were so many arrows. And what a Vaishnava Bhisma was?


The glory of Bhisma

He was such a powerful warrior that when Duryodhana incited him to really put his soul and heart into fighting because actually in his heart he was on the Pandavas’ side but due to the inconceivable arrangement of Krishna to teach the world another lesson , he is on the side of the Kuru’s. Here is a Mahajan fighting for the enemies of the devotees. Of course from the external perspective, it is said because Bhisma was honorable, he could not be the king because he made that vow. Just to honor his father that he would never take the throne, or marry or have children who could take the throne. So ultimately he was watching as Duryodhana was persecuting and destroying the Pandavas and actually Bhisma and Vidhura were always advising Dhritrashtra not to follow his son because he was going to cause ruination of everything but Dhritrashtra was so sentimentally attached to his son. In fact, sometimes when Dhritrashtra would become a little soft toward the Pandavas, Duryodhana would threaten to kill himself for his father to strongly stand with him and Dhritrashtra was just not only physically blind but he was spiritually blinded by the affection for his son but Vidhura and Bhisma and sometimes Drona also, they would be giving him good advice, but he could not follow. Sometimes they would chastise Duryodhana, but he could not hear anything. This is the nature of the false ego, even the best advice from the best well wishers, they can not hear because they are clouded over by obsessions. It came to the point, Vidhura the younger brother of Dhritrashtra, he was telling his brother that stop being influenced by your son. He is envy personified, offense personified, everything will be destroyed if you follow him and Duryodhana heard that, he became outraged and banished Vidhura from his home, from his family and from his kingdom but Dhritrashtra did not say a word. He let it happen. But still Duryodhana was the king and from the prospective of dharma it is the duty of everyone to support the king. Duryodhana was maintaining Bhisma. Duryodhana asked him to be the commander-in chief so Bhisma had to do it but actually he did not have to do it. According to Srila Prabhupada, he was just surrendered to Krishna. He knew that the Pandavas would win and the Kauravas would die. Why? Because he knew Krishna was on the side of the Pandavas but Krishna had a plan just to show even the greatest person in the world is going to be defeated if he is against dharma, if he is not on the side of God. So during the war Duryodhana really started criticizing Bhisma so bad, because he was sentimental towards the Pandavas. So Bhisma said tomorrow I am really going to fight and he did. He was like a cyclone, nothing could stand before him, he destroyed a major part of the entire Pandava army single handedly in one day and Bhima with his club, Arjuna with his bow and arrow, Yudhisthira, Nakula, Sahadev, great warriors, Drishtadyumna all they could do was stand on the side and watch. There was no possibility of even fighting against him. He was too much. They tried but it’s like throwing a stick into a cyclone. That was the military status of Bhisma and when the sun set, Bhisma honorably stopped fighting but it was obvious the next day when the sun rised no one would survive on the side of the Pandavas. Bhisma would destroy everything. Now Bhisma told Duryodhana, ‘I could kill everyone on this field, but I could not kill the Pandavas because they are personally being protected by Krishna.’ Now Yudhisthira Maharaja was thinking all these people who have given their lives to support me are being massacred by my grandfather. He was very very…., it was a loss cause , there was nothing they could do but then Krishna he knew the heart of Bhisma. He said we should go at night secretly to his tent and ask his permission and ask for instructions to kill him and how to kill him. This is a very different type of battle with honor. So Krishna and the Pandavas quietly in the dark of night they went over the lines to where the Kurus were and went right to Bhisma’s tent. Meanwhile, Duryodhana was glowing with joy because he knew tomorrow everything would finish and he would be victorious. When the Pandavas came in front of Bhisma, they started to cry. Bhisma welcomed them with so much love, he was their grandfather and they were his favorite grandchildren. Why are you crying? Why do you look so disturbed? And ultimately they had to speak, ‘while we are fighting for Krishna, we cannot fight against you, please tell us how we could kill you and give us your blessings to do so.’ So now this was more painful for Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna to ask. It was really painful because they loved Bhisma. As far as they were concerned besides Krishna, they did not have greater well wishers in the world than Bhisma and Vidhura. They personally saved their lives in many situations, although in circumstances they were in a difficult situation having to fight for the Kurus. So their hearts were heaping with agony in asking this question. Just put yourself in the Pandavas position because we have to understand these stories from the human side because Vaishnavas are humans with soft heart even if they are completely transcendental. Think about going to your own father or grandfather and ask him to give me your blessings to kill you when they are peak of their health, peak of their career as Bhisma was. Very painful! But as soon as they asked this question, Bhisma went into ecstasy, smiling, glowing with joy. ‘I was waiting for the day you would ask me this question.’ It’s a long story and he told his own story and ultimately he gave them the instructions. Arjuna, you are the only one who could shoot these arrows through me so on the battlefield bring Shikandi and bring her before me or him ..whatever. There is a story where he was trying to just honor his vow before God and his father, he was implicated into all these difficulties; In this material world, it is so complicated. Even if you are good, you get complicated, implicated in so much trouble. I would not go in detail in that story. He vowed he would never marry but then on the request of Satyavati, he tried to get some queen princesses for the prince, so he helped out and one of those princesses, she was just about to get married to somebody else and when she told Vicitraviriya, the prince about that, He then said I could not marry you , then she went back to the person whom she was suppose to marry, but he told, ‘Bhisma touched you because he kidnapped you to bring you to this other man, so I can’t marry you and nobody would marry you because you were touched by someone else.’ High standards in those days! These were Kshatriyas. It was a honor. She did not want to be a widow. So the only person in the world was Bhisma, because he touched her. All he did was he grabbed her by the hand and put her on the chariot, nothing romantic. So what to do? So she went to Satyavati, Satyavati said Bhisma you should do it. He said I made this vow, I cannot do it. She went to Parasuram, Parasuram fought with Bhisma. He said you should do it, Bhisma said I can’t, I took a vow. Parasuram said then you have to fight with me, so they fought and Bhisma was so good at fighting, Parasuram was so proud of his fighting disciple he went to the lady and said I am sorry there is nothing I could do. So she worshiped Shiva and ended up being a warrior, Shikandi. Who was born specifically to help kill Bhisma. Now actually, secretly Bhisma revealed, it was out of love, because Bhisma wanted to die, he had this benediction that no one could kill him until he desired to die himself and couldn’t commit suicide because that was sinful and nobody could kill him but actually seeing the injustices done against the Pandavas, he did not want to be in this world. All his brothers got to go back to their abode but somehow or the other he had to stay in this world. He knew he was not this body. He wanted to go back to Godhead.

He loved Krishna. So he took this as the greatest opportunity. Bring Shikandi and Arjuna shoot your arrows. So the next day in the battlefield everything was exactly arranged and Arjuna was shooting the arrows but Arjuna loved Bhisma too much. He couldn’t shoot him hard and Bhisma was telling him shoot harder. Because Bhisma’s body was like a mountain, Arjuna had to shoot with all his strength to penetrate his body and Bhisma laid down on the bed of arrows. Now Kurukshetra in January is very cold and he was laying there. In honor of Bhisma the entire battle stopped, right at that moment when he fell to the ground and all the warriors from both the Pandavas and the Kurus they all went and personally honored Bhisma for his greatness and glory and in this honor they stopped fighting that day and the next day they began again and Bhisma was laying there. But amazingly he did not die because his blessing was only at his own will he could die. Can you imagine even one arrow pierces our body? We are finished. He had 100s of them. Can you imagine the pain? But he remained alive through the rest of the battle and then Krishna went down to Hastinapur after the last rites of all the devotees, all the warriors who were on the battlefield. He was alive, then Yudhisthira Maharaja was lamenting. Bhisma knew that Krishna would come back for him, he had that faith. He only wanted to die seeing the beautiful moon like form of Krishna, Shyamsundar and he had that faith. He was waiting on the cold dusty ground of Kurukshtera all alone for many days and Krishna actually brought Yudhisthira back there for two reasons. One to glorify Bhisma, to show his power, to inspire, to give courage and happiness to Yudhisthira, to instruct the whole world through Yudhisthira. But on the highest platform, Krishna wanted to fulfill Bhisma’s heart desire to stand before him at the moment of death. So here we have Krishna and the Pandavas all bowing down before Yudhisthira Maharaja and Krishna blessed Bhisma to speak these profound truths to relieve him of all pain so he can speak and towards the end of discussion, in these particular verses that we are reading today; Bhisma who is a Mahajana, one of the 12 highest learned authorities of knowledge, is admitting no one can understand the plan of the Lord. Why did the Pandavas undergo such difficulties? Some of the verses, Bhisma said, ‘Oh! What terrible suffering and what terrible injustice, injustices you could suffer for being the sons of religion personified. You did not deserve to remain alive under those tribulations and yet you were protected by the Brahmins, God and religion. As far as my daughter in law Kunti is concerned, upon the great general Pandu’s death she became a widow with many children and therefore she suffered greatly and when you were growing up she suffered a great deal also because of your actions. How is it that Kunti who is so absolutely pure in her devotion, in her love, in her piety she had to suffer more than anyone? Yes, Draupadi suffered when they were trying to strip her away but she surrendered to Krishna and Krishna protected her but then she was exiled to the forest and the Pandavas, how difficult? There was so much horrible propoganda against them. They were traveling around and living. Just two days ago in Melkote, there is a village named after the Pandavas because the Pandavas came there and we went to one place, it took some time to walk there, very few people go there but there are 5 caves in which the Pandavas lived. Have you been there? Mahaprabhu? And considering Yudhisthira Maharaja and his brothers, they were living as the kings of Hastinapur that was their natural right and when you go and look at these caves, there are really small simple little caves. As far as caves go, they were actually nice caves but those of you who have not lived in caves they are quite nice caves but they are caves. It is no place for king. There is no door; you don’t have a front door to your cave. You can’t block it; you don’t have any furniture, no kitchen. You just sleep on the rocks and you go out and search for some berries or fruits on the trees or roots or go begging from some house. I was sitting in the caves marveling at what the Pandavas had to go through. But multiply that with 100 of times and we can get some glimpse as to what Kunti had to go through because she had the love of a mother, seeing her children in that condition was not only unbearable but inconceivable. So Bhisma who is very very close, he considered Kunti his own daughter in law and he loved her like her own daughter. This is the disciplic succession of suffering. Kunti suffered so bad to see her children, her sons suffering and Bhisma is suffering seeing her daughter suffer. Why? Bhisma is asking this question, why the laws of karma, where you are supposed to get what you deserve? Kunti did not deserve this, Pandavas did not deserve this. Why? And Bhisma gives his opinion, ‘In my opinion this is all due to inevitable time, under whose control everyone in every planet is carried just as the clouds are carried by the wind. Oh! How wonderful is the influence of inevitable time. It is irreversible. Otherwise how could there be reversals in the presence of Yudhisthira, the son of demigod controlling religion. Bhima, the great fighter with the club, the great bowman Arjuna, with his mighty weapon Gandiva and above all the Lord, the direct well wisher of the Pandavas.’ Bhisma says to Yudhisthira Maharaja, ‘Oh king, no one can know the plan of Shri Krishna even though great philosophers inquire exhaustively, they are bewildered. Oh! Best of the descendents of Bharata, I maintain therefore that all this is the plan of the Lord. Accepting the inconceivable plan of the Lord, you must follow it. You are now appointed administrative head and my Lord you should now take care of the subjects who are now rendered helpless.’ In this verse today what Bhisma is essentially telling Yudhisthira Maharaja is to really have faith in the perfection of Krishna.


Faith in the perfection of Krishna

We cannot understand the details of why he does, what he does. What to speak of Krishna the controller of all controllers, we can’t even understand the details of the law of karma which are just like mundane laws. We can understand the principle and we can take the proper medicine. Just like if you get malaria and if you stay in Bombay long enough you probably would; And you get high fever, and someone comes to give you medicine and you ask which mosquito bit me and I want to know the date and time when I was bitten and I want to know the exact location on my body where I was bitten. Now there are very very few cases where anyone can trace out all those details, in fact it is very difficult to trace out even one of them, so we understand the principle. If we have this fever and the malaria germ is in me, I may not know which mosquito, I many not know when I was bitten, I don’t know where I was bitten, I may not know date/time, but I know I was bitten so I should take the medicine. So why are we suffering, what the karma is , we may not understand exactly what the karma was or why we are suffering but we can understand the principle that I did something. 2 things when you are sick, you prevent doing the same thing again, we shouldn’t hurt others, we shouldn’t cause others pain, we shouldn’t engage in immoral activities, because if I do, I may have to suffer and I am suffering and I don’t want to do this again and I should give up this offensiveness and second thing is to take the medicine. “enechi auṣadhi māyā nāśibāro lāgi’
hari-nāma mahā-mantra lao tumi māgi’” “sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekamsaranam vraja aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah” ..Krishna says I will deliver you from all sinful reactions, you may not know the details, but I will deliver all of them, if you just surrender to Me and Krishna Himself comes as Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to tell us how to surrender. He appears as His holy name “goloka premadana harinam sankirtan, kali kale naam rupa Krishna avatar”…Krishna is in His name, with humility, tolerance, offering all respects to others and not expecting any respects in return very feelingly we should take shelter by surrendering to the holy name, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Bhisma is telling Yudhisthira, you may not understand. You are a surrendered soul, whether you understand or do not understand just carry on your devotional service. You are a King. It’s your responsibility. It’s your duty to go back and rule your kingdom. They are helpless. This is an amazing verse. Whether we understand or not, we have to be instrument of compassion for people who are suffering. Just carry on with your service “matra-sparsas tu kaunteya sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah agamapayino ‘nityas tams titiksasva bharata”Srila Prabhupada explains that this tolerating the reversals of winter and summer seasons of happiness and distress and honor and dishonor, pleasure and pain and all this, the way we tolerate it is we carry on with our devotional service. This is what Bhisma is telling Yudhisthira and in our case, the greatest service we can render to assist Srila Prabhupada, is to give Krishna Consciousness to others. We find that the Lord, when He puts His devotees through these reversals even for lifetimes, if the devotees go on with their service with humility and faith, Krishna makes those reversals into something very auspicious. Can I tell you another story of Melkote? I am going to miss my airplane, but I will take the risk.


Ramanujacharya and his glories disciple Quresh

Ramanujacharya is the great disciple of Yamunacharya. He was the most powerful acharya in all of south India. He was living in Srirangam and he had thousands and thousands of disciples. People loved him. One of his disciples was a Grihasta named Quresh and Quresh had a disciple named Chatturgram who betrayed his own guru. He rejected his own guru and went to the king of Cholas, who was a fanatical devotee of Shiva and wanted the whole kingdom to follow his religion. He considered “I am right and everyone else is wrong and I am the king, I have the power and if they do not surrender to what I believe in then they cannot live.” So Chatturgam said “I know. I am minister and I know what to do. Just convert Ramanujacharya and the whole kingdom will become your religion but if you don’t then everyone will become Vaishnavas because he is just too powerful.” So it is a long story and my airplane takes off quite soon but ultimately it was planned, it was a conspiracy that Ramanujacharya would be invited to a debate and either he would surrender to the king’s religion and cause all his disciples to convert or he would die. So soldiers came to invite Ramanujacharya to this debate and when they were coming, Ramanujacharya was ready to go. He was detached. He had a very simple, beautiful heart but Quresh understood the situation. He had tears in his eyes and he begged and pleaded to Ramanujacharya to let him go on his behalf. Give me your sannyas robe and you put on my Grihasta robe and you simply escape from this kingdom because they would be hunting to kill you and let me go and face the king. He would think I am you. Ramanujacharya did not want to do this but Quresh was begging to serve in this way, so Ramanujacharya relented. Can you imagine? He took off his sannyasi robes. Now these days, if you want to go to a foreign country, sannyasi’s put on pant and shirt and all this stuff but Sri Vaishnavas, a 1000 years ago, sannyasi’s did not do that. It was a very very big thing. You put on saffron forever. Specially danda. But he put on the white robes of a householder and secretly left Srirangam and Quresh along with Ramanujacharya’s guru Mahapurna, they went to Kancipuram and they won the debate. But the king was not concerned with justice. He was blinded by ego, when he saw that Quresh in the guise of Ramanujacharya defeated all his biggest scholars, he became so angry; He said sign this document or you die. The document was that I am defeated; Shiva is greater than Vishnu. So Quresh started signing the document and the king was so happy until he read what he wrote. You see in south India there is different ways of weighing things and particular measure is Shiva and one is Drona. And Drona is heavier than Shiva. So Quresh wrote in all cases even Drona is greater than Lord Shiva. You may think it is a joke. You laugh but the king did not laugh. He send his military out. He couldn’t kill Ramanujacharya because Ramanujacharya saved someone in his family from some ghostly spirit some years ago so they took Mahapurna and Quresh. These guards drag them out in the forest, burn their eyes out with fire burning iron rods. And Quresh after getting his eyes brutally burned out, with great humility, folded palms, he bowed down to the guards and from the core of his heart he thanked them. They were shocked. Why is he thanking us? Quresh said, ‘because of you, you have given me the most intimate service to my Gurumaharaj, you have allowed me to sacrifice my eyes in the service of my guru. I can not repay the debt I owe you.’ These most hard hearted killers, their hearts softened. They realized this man is a saint. They apologized. Anyways, Mahapurna was very old and having his eyes plucked out this way was too much. He could not continue traveling so meditating on his dear disciple Ramanujacharya , on his guru Yamujacharya and meditating on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he gave up his life. Meanwhile Sri Ramanujacharya in disguise, he had to flee the kingdom of the Chola king and came near to the kingdom of Mysore and there was another king there from another religion. And it is a long story but this king’s daughter was mentally ill. There was some subtle energy, some subtle being that was destroying her mentality and she was just absolutely crazy. The king invited his own priests to try to save his daughter. But because of some technicality they would not come to his palace because they thought they would become contaminated. So one of Ramanujacharya’s disciples, Nambhi was living in that area and he told Ramanujacharya “If you cure this daughter then you can get the favor of the king and so come to the palace. I have spoken to the king. He is inviting you.” Ramanujacharya said, ‘I am a sannyasi. How could I go to the palace of an opulent king.’ Similar to Lord Chaitanya! He would not personally meet Maharaja Pratapuradra but the disciple told the guru that it might be a transgression to the etiquette of a sannaysi but it would be good for preaching. It will be a higher principle to save this man and if you save him, you could save so many others. So Ramanujacharya accepted. Alright, for the higher principle of showing compassion to others, I would go to the kings palace. So he went in. Nambhi washed Ramanujacharya’s feet. Actually first Ramanujacharya went in, he spoke strictly business. He was not talking anything. As soon as he went in, he said bring me your daughter. The daughter came and Nambhi washed Ramanujacharya’s feet and took that water and splashed it on the daughter’s head and suddenly the daughter who was delirious she became normal and she looked at herself, she was completely disheveled. Not dressed properly, she ran out of the room and she dressed nicely and she came back in and surrendered her life to Ramanujacharya. The king, specially the queen, because mothers are mothers, was deeply moved by this. So they asked questions. So Ramanujacharya was preaching to them. So the king whose name was Vithaldev took initiation and Ramanujacharya gave him the name Vishnuvardhanam which means one who expands the glory of Lord Vishnu. Because the king became devotee, the whole kingdom became devotee. So see Ramanujacharya is exiled. He loses everything. He is in disguise. He is hunted down and he has to escape from his home, goes to a foreign land and in the end because of that he met another king, made that whole country into Vaisnavas. And one day, the deity of Tirunarayan revealed Himself to Ramanujacharya, deity of Narasingha revealed Himself to Ramanujacharya in the forest, Thiruanandapuram. Ramanujacharya later sends a messenger and that messenger found Quresh and came back and told Ramanujacharya that Quresh has been blinded and your guru Mahapurna, he was blinded and the pain was so excruciating, that he had passed away from this world. When Ramanujacharya heard that Mahapurna sacrificed his life, just to protect the life of his disciple and was dead he was crying so loud with such feeling that according to Sri vaishnavas scriptures even the stones, sticks, trees were melting and crying with him. My disciple he was blinded just trying to serve and protect me and one of the greatest and my most revered guru not only was he blinded, he died just to serve and protect me. It was too much. And he then heard how the Chola king was persecuting Vaishnavas and planning to destroy temples. Ramanujacharya prayed to Lord Narsinghadev. Now Ramanujacharya was a very forgiving and compassionate person. But he prayed to Lord Narsinghadev, that this king is like Hiranyakashipu, so do what you think is best. And Narsinghadev heard his prayer and the king got this horrible disease and he was in excruciating pain and he died. Meanwhile, in the process according to some it was 12 years, some say 14, but some say Ramanujacharya was in exile in Melkote area for 12 years. Now sometime we think when Krishna tests us it should be for few minutes but the Pandavas were in exile for 12 years and he was in exile for 12 yrs. And then he got the news from his messenger. In those days there were no emails. Now you can know what is
happening everywhere by going into these internets. But those days there was no satellite to know what is happening in Srirangam or Kanchipuram. You have to send somebody to walk there and search all over the country. The messenger searched for Quresh and he found him and came back and said Quresh is so happy that he got to give his eyes for you. He is so happy than ever before. He said what a small price. I lost my vision but what a great honor. Because through my losing my vision, and not being able to see the light of the day, now the light of my Gurudev is illuminating the whole world and giving vision to the whole world. I am so grateful that I could be a part of this. Ramanujacharya heard that the Chola king was dead. So of course he prayed for his soul to be delivered and it did. Ramanujacharya later asked Quresh to ask any benediction, he said ask your eyes back and he sang songs to ask for the Lord in the temple and the Lord said “Ask anything, if you want your eyes, I can give you eyes.” Quresh said, “If you want to give me anything, give Chola king elevation to Vaikuntha. The Lord said “I really don’t wanna do that. But it is your desire, he is already there in Vaikuntha as we speak.” So Ramanujacharya saw that he was still blind, so he told, go back and ask for your eyes. He wanted his eyes to come. So he came back and sang all day long. So the Lord said, ‘ask me any benediction.’ So Quresh said, ‘any benediction?’ And the Lord said, ‘yes anything.’ ‘Chatturgram, who is my disciple, who betrayed me and my guru is dead. Give his soul eternal residence in Vaikuntha.’ Vishnu said, ‘he is already there.’ Then Ramanujacharya insisted please ask. According to some story, he said to the deity that I have lost two articles that belonged to my guru. Please give them back to my guru and the Lord gave him his eyes back. According to others even when the Lord insisted to give his eyes back, he said I don’t want to see anything of this world, all I want to see is your beautiful form in the form of my guru. Give me the benediction that I constantly see you. So it is done. So Ramanujacharya went and he heard about this and he told Quresh. He asked Quresh, ‘what is the Deity wearing today?’ And Quresh he had no eyes but he explained every detail of the flowers on His garland, the nature of His crown and His pose, the color of His clothes and then Ramanujacharya said what am I wearing today and he explained every flower on his garland and how he was standing and Ramanujacharya understood that was his benediction that he was always seeing Krishna and his guru. He was not interested in anything else. Now to end this story, Ramanujacharya was being begged by all devotees and even the Deity of Ranganath was begging to him to come back to Srirangam . “Everyone is waiting for you, you have been away for 12 years.” But people in Melkote was so attached to him for being with him for 12 years, they did not want him to leave either. This is about my airplane. Very good justification to shut my mouth and end the class! So he went back to Srirangam and when he went back to Srirangam, the Chola king’s son met Ramanujacharya and became a devotee and made the whole kingdom Vaishnavas. So it might have seen a reversal. He was humbled, he was exiled, his guru died, his disciple was blinded, he was in exile with nothing, but in the process where ever he went, he made that kingdom of devotees and he came to the Chola king’s son, who became the king, he became a devotee, so blessings upon millions of millions of souls that never could have happened was a result of the most serious, inconceivable, painful tribulation of being hunted, rejected and exiled. And Srila Prabhupada often gave the example, when Srila Prabhupada was living in Vrindavan with Jiva and Rupa Goswami at Krishna’s rasa lila place. 70 years old. His guru asked him to go to America to be an instrument of Lord Chaitanya’s compassion. Krishna is in control. Krishna is Laxminath. The Husband of Goddess of Fortune. Krishna could have sent. Krishna could do anything. He could just exhale and create billions of universes as Mahavishnu. He could do that. He could have made Srila Prabhupada given a first class ticket to New York. Why Jaladuta? Why not an ocean liner? Why a cargo ship? Why in the Arabian Sea, he had a horrible heart attack and sea sickness and he had no money. He came to New York and didn’t know anybody or anything and later on he was in the Bowry, the ghetto, struggling. Srila Prabhupada was asking his god brothers and other supporters in India to come and help, to send some money, brahmcharies or come yourself. Nothing, no help whatsoever! They send couple of sets of kartals, mridangas, sweets but no help. Why? These were great souls. And then Srila Prabhupada got a tiny little room in Bowry and someone gave him a typewriter and he was typing to write his books and someone broke into his room and stole his typewriter, manuscripts and stole everything he had and he had nothing. He then ended up living with one person who was favorable, then that person decided to kill Srila Prabhupada and move him out of his house. Why did Krishna put him through that? Then Srila Prabhupada had a stroke. Yudhisthira Maharaja tells us why, ‘Oh! king no one can know the plan of Krishna, even the great philosophers who inquire get bewildered. It is all in the plan of the Lord.’ Why Prahlada was persecuted? Why the Pandavas had to go through so much difficulty? Why Ramanujacharya went through so much difficulty? Why in Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Leela, when Lord Chaitanya asked the common people to chant the holy name, the kazi was beating them, plundering them and prisoning them, because the Lord wants to show the world through the devotee. As Srila Prabhupada says, the housewife teaches the daughter-in-law by teaching the daughter. That if we just remain faithful, everything becomes supremely auspicious and Srila Prabhupada is glorified millions of times more within the core of our hearts in all times to come because of the difficulties he underwent for us. What is real compassion? Krishna revealed it through Srila Prabhupada by the difficulties he went through and he persevered for us. On this precious day of Bhismashtami, after Bhisma shared his realizations with Yudhisthira Maharaja, he started glorifying Krishna and he saw the sun enter the northern hemisphere, Makara Sankriti time. He realized this is the most auspicious time and stopped speaking. First he just praised and glorified Krishna, then just gazed on the beautiful form of the Lord and surrendered his heart and Krishna standing over him released his soul to return back home back to Godhead. Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!!

Thank you very much!

Written by

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.

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About Me

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.