Category Archives: Srimad Bhagavat

Kaliya Narthana Krishna!

Kaliya was a venomous serpent living in the waters of Kalindi (Yamuna). The fiery poison was such that the waters of the river was almost boiling. Its fumes were reaching up to the skies and the birds flying over it dropped down dead. The wind which blew over the waters was contaminated by its poisonous spray and the cows, calves and cowherd boys on the bank of the river who came in contact with it met with their death.

When Sri Krishna heard about this, he climbed a tree nearby and plunged into the waters. The disturbed waters angered the serpent who realized that someone had entered the waters to counter him. Kaliya raised his multi-hoods and tried to bite Krishna. Krishna fought with Kaliya. On one side was the huge monstrous multi-hooded ferocious Kaliya spewing deadly poison on all sides and on the other side was little Sri Balakrishna, delicate and most charming, beautiful like the rain-bearing clouds, clad in silken yellow sporting a lovely smile on his face. 

When Nanda, Yashoda and others heard about this, they rushed to the banks of Kalindi and were terrified to see Krishna entrapped in the deadly coils of Kaliya. When Krishna saw that everyone was terrified and distressed, he expanded his body and escaped from the bondage of Kaliya. Seeing the angry Kaliya with uplifted hoods and hissing and breathing out poison through its nostrils, Krishna, the “Guru of all the forms of Kala or Art-forms”, leapt on to the bejewelled-hood of Kaliya and started dancing! Seeing the Lord dancing, all the devatas, gandharvas, siddhas, charanas and apsaras assembled there in the sky. The devatas chanted sublime hymns. The celestial musicians played their divine instruments. The apsaras like Rambha and Urvashi performed bharatanatya. Narada and Tumburu sang beautiful songs keeping rhythm with the cymbals. Nandi played the percussion instrument.

As Krishna danced on the hoods of Kaliya, the dark curly locks of hair around his beautiful moon-like face flew in all directions. The sweet and divine tinkling naada (sound) from his anklets and from the bells strung on his waist-band was mesmerising. The gods showered flowers on the Lord from the skies. Whichever hood Kaliya raised, Krishna trampled and crushed it under His tiny crimson lotus feet. The Lord continued dancing on the multi-hooded Kaliya with his grip firmly on Kaliya’s tail. Under the pressure of the Lord’s feet, Kaliya emitted all the poison through his mouth. Finally in sheer exhaustion he swooned. Coming back to his senses, Kaliya realized the Lord’s glory and he along with his wives prayed to the Lord for protection. 

Kaliya realized that he had been indeed doubly blessed by the touch of the Lord’s feet. Kaliya’s wives invoked the Lord through a beautiful stotra: “namasthubyam bhagavathe purushaya mahatmane….namah krishnaya ramaya vasudevasutaya cha pradyumnaya aniruddhaya satvatam pathaye namaha…” Sri Krishna thereupon told Kaliya, his wives, children and relatives to leave the river and proceed to the ocean for their stay. And the Lord promised that Garuda fearing whom Kaliya had taken shelter in Yamuna will in future not trouble him because the Lord’s footprints had been etched out on his hoods. Yamuna regained her pristine glory and her waters again became nectarine like for one and all to partake.

Significance: Yamuna represents the “mind-lake” and the water represent our “thoughts”. Kaliya is the multi-hooded serpent called the “ego” which pours forth its desire, anger, greed, jealousy, envy and innumerable emotions into the mind-lake to poison and pollute it. The powerful and corrosive emotions poison and ruin our noble and satvik thoughts represented by the cowherds, cows and calves. Krishna represents the “spiritual-knowledge-in-the-intellect” (the knowledge of the scriptures) which alone can render the ego incapable of destroying the individual-personality. The footprints of the Lord on Kaliya indicate the absence of I-ness and My-ness and the consequent sense of absolute surrender of the individual unto the Lord. Once the ego is “contained”, the mind-lake becomes clean, pure and satvik and can be used for higher contemplation to realize the Supreme Brahman.

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Bhakta Prahlada

Hiranyaksha (Eye for Materialism) and Hiranyakashipu (Wrapped in Materialism) were brothers born in the Rakshasa clan. When Hiranyaksha was killed by Lord Varaha, Hiranyakashipu was furious and wanted to take revenge on the Lord. Therefore he undertook severe penance. When he was away, Indra and his army attacked the rakshasa kingdom and finding that the rakshasa wife was pregnant, Indra decided to carry her away to his Loka so that when she gives birth to a child he can immediately kill the rakshasa child. However Sage Narada met Indra enroute and convinced Indra to release her saying that her child would not be an enemy of the gods but on the other hand would be one of the greatest devotees of Lord Vishnu. Hearing Narada’s words, Indra released Hiranyakashipu’s wife. Narada took her to his hermitage and she spent her time listening to the Lord’s glories as expounded by the Sage. The child in the womb had picked up all the discourses by Narada (prenatal education)! 

Pleased with Hiranyakashipu’s penance, Lord Brahma appeared in front of him and asked him what he wanted. The rakshasa asked for immorality which was not possible. Hiranyakashipu then demanded, “I should not die at the hands of any of Lord’s creations such as, the gods, gandharvas, yakshas, human beings, rakshasas, animals etc. No weapon should destroy me. I should not die in the outer space, nor on earth nor in the waters. I should not die inside the house nor outside. Death should not come to me at day-time nor night-time.” Lord Brahma granted him the boon. The foolish rakshasa failed to realize that the cause of his death was embedded in his own words! Hiranyakashipu came back to his kingdom. He brought back his wife also from Narada’s ashram. She was blessed with a son who was named as Prahlada (one with exceptional brilliance). 

Prahlada grew up as an exceptional devotee of Lord Narayana since he was already initiated into Hari Tattwa by Guru Sage Narada when he was in his mother’s womb. At the appropriate time, he was sent to the Guru-kula for education. Hiranyakashipu vain and arrogant with the boons that he had obtained from Brahma, considered himself the supreme lord. Temples were built and his images were worshipped. “Hiranyaya Namaha” (salutations unto materialism in the form of gold) was the mantra! Prahlada on the other hand chanted “Om Namo Narayanaya” (Salutations unto the Supreme Lord, Narayana). The teachers tried to convince Prahlada to worship Hiranyakashipu but he not only politely refused, but initiated the other children into the Narayana Mantra. The terrified teachers brought back Prahlada to his parents and expressed their inability to change him. Hiranyakashipu tried but in vain. Seething with anger, he gave the most cruelest of punishments to his son. Prahlada was thrown down a mountain, tossed into the ocean, put into raging fire, brought under an elephant’s foot, thrown in front of a hungry lion and poisonous snakes, threatened by weapons, made to drink poison – but nothing happened to Prahlada. The Lord protected him and he came out of each test unscathed. 

The furious Hiranyakashipu dragged Prahlada to the court and challenged him to show Sri Hari. Little Prahlada said that the Lord was All-pervading, including in the pillar that Hiranyakashipu pointed out. The rakshasa struck the pillar with all his might and strength wanting to see the Lord, his arch-enemy whom Prahlada worshipped. Lo! The pillar split into two and from inside emerged a strange figure. It was neither man nor animal, it was half-man and half-lion. It was dusk – neither day or night. Lord Narayana who had come as Nara-Simha caught hold of Hiranyakashipu and dragged him unto the threshold of the hall – neither inside nor outside. The Lord placed the rakshasa on His lap – neither in space nor on ground nor water. Without using any weapons, Lord Narasimha used his beautiful long claws (nails) to rip apart the wicked rakshasa. Every bit of the boon had been taken care of, and yet Hiranyakashipu was killed by Lord Narasimha. The Lord then gathered his loving devotee, Prahlada to himself. Prahlada invoked and worshipped the Lord with chants while the devatas joyously rained down flowers.

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Bell on Hanuman’s Tail!

Lord Rama along with his consort Seeta and brother Lakshmana went to the forest for fourteen years to keep up the promise his father had given to Kaikeyi. In the forest, Seeta was abducted by Ravana, the king of Lanka. Searching for her, they reached Kishkindha. With the help of Hanuman they were able to locate Seeta in Lanka. The huge vanara army under the leadership of Rama and Sugreeva were ready to proceed to Lanka. Rama assured the vanaras and their families that all the vanaras accompanying him would come back safely. They built a bridge across the ocean and crossed over to the other side. The battle between Rama and Ravana was about to start. The Lord told Sugreeva to take count of the vanaras who had accompanied him. 
The great battle started. Finally, Lord Rama killed Ravana and his brother Kumbhakarna. Seeta joined her Lord. Before leaving, Rama asked Sugreeva, the Vanara king to take count of the vanaras. They found a few vanaras missing. Rama called Hanuman and asked him to accompany him in search of the vanaras. Both Rama and Hanuman walked to the battlefield and carefully started searching for the missing vanaras – dead or alive.

When Ravana’s brother, Kumbhakarna came to fight with Rama, he rode in a chariot which had a canopy decked with golden bells. Since Kumbhakarna had a huge personality, his chariot, its canopy and the bells were also proportionately huge. During the battle, an arrow from Rama’s side struck one of the huge bells and it fell down. A few of the vanaras got trapped in it. They called out for help but nobody heard them. It was totally dark inside. A tiny hole near the ring of the bell kept them from getting suffocated. An old monkey told them not to lose hope but instead chant the sacred name of Lord Rama. He whose mere name was capable of preventing stones from sinking would surely save them from the grip of death. All the monkeys closed their eyes and fervently started chanting, “Sri Rama…Sri Rama…..Sri Rama”.

As Rama, Hanuman and others were walking in the battlefield looking out for the vanaras, Rama noticed the huge bell and stopped in front of it. He glanced at the bell and then looked at Hanuman. Maruti immediately understood the Lord’s intention and quickly came forward. He put his tail into the ring of the huge bell and lifted it up as easily as lifting up a flower! Lo! There trapped under the bell were the missing vanaras! The vanaras suddenly saw light and opened their eyes. They saw the Lord of Compassion standing in front of them. Overwhelmed at the turn of events, they all rushed forward and prostrated at the lotus feet of Sri Rama, who had saved them as promised. The count now perfectly tallied!

Lord Rama looked around for his dear devotee. Hanuman was standing at a distance, an embodiment of humility, head bent down with folded hands and eyes rivetted to the Lord’s feet. And on his tail was the shining golden bell! Rama was so pleased that he proclaimed, “whosoever in future worships BHAKTA HANUMAN WITH THE BELL ON HIS TAIL, will be blessed with Devotion, Dispassion and the brilliant Light of Knowledge which alone is capable of destroying the darkness of ignorance and bestowing liberation upon the devotee; just as the vanaras were delivered from darkness of death into the blissful light of life”.

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Govinda – the Uplifter of Govardhana

Vraj bhumi was preparing for the annual Indra-puja to invoke the seasonal rains. The young Krishna saw the preparations going on and asked his father Nanda about the ritual. On hearing about the Indra-puja, Krishna told his father that it is not Indra who sends the rains down, but it is our good and noble activities that constitute “yagna” that brings the rains down. Krishna suggested that the cows, the source of their livelihood, the Govardhan mountain which represents Mother Nature, which is the source of fodder for animals, and the noble people who are upholders of dharma and protectors of our scriptures should be revered, respected and worshipped instead of Indra.

Everyone agreed to this. Celebrations were held in Vrindavan where the cows and bulls were all decorated and worshipped. The presiding deity of Govardhan Giri was invoked and worshipped. The noble and pious in the community were respectfully invited, adored and appropriate dana or charity was given to all of them. Lord Indra was displeased at the indifference of the people of Vrindavan. He decided to teach them a lesson for ignoring him. He sent down torrential showers accompanied by huge gales, thunder and lightning. Unable to protect themselves from the heavy downpour, all the people sought shelter at Lord Krishna’s feet. The Lord sportingly lifted up the Govardhan mountain with the tip of his little finger, and held it aloft like a huge umbrella and asked all the people including their cattle-wealth to take shelter under the mountain. The incessant rains continued day and night for a whole week, and Krishna stood motionless holding the Govardhan mountain aloft and protecting everyone all through the week. 

Indra realized the glory of Lord Krishna and humbly accepted defeat. He came down to Vrindavan and surrendered to Lord Krishna. Since the Lord had protected the entire cattle-wealth, the celestial Mother of Cows, Surabhi came down from the heaven to express her gratitude to the Lord. She bathed the Lord with her divine milk. Indra on his part performed the abhisheka of Lord Krishna with the waters of the heavenly Ganga. All the devatas and other celestial beings glorified Sri Krishna and offered their salutations unto Him. As directed by Lord Brahma, Surabhi gave Sri Krishna the title: GOVINDA.

Significance: INDRA represents our mind. To worship Indra therefore means to cater to the mind’s fancies day-in and day-out. GO represents “knowledge” and also “ethical and moral values”. VARDHANA means “to increase”. Therefore, GOVARDHANA means “to nurture and nourish the good qualities or to seek the higher knowledge” — it represents our INTELLECT. Lord Krishna represents the GURU who comes and advises us to worship GOVARDHAN and not INDRA, meaning, not to follow the mind and its lower instincts and impulses, but to follow the higher principles in life. When we earnestly try to walk the righteous path, the mind (Indra) will create hurdles and obstacles (rain). But if we have unshakeable faith and devotion in the Lord and His guidance, and sincerely and consistently follow the right path, the Lord will surely protect us — the very values and knowledge we have sought in our lives will support us (lifting of the Govardhan). Finally the mind has to come around and align itself with the intellect! The One who is the Sole Support and Protector of the world of things and beings is GOVARDHANA GIRIDHARI or GOVINDA, the “Lord of Knowledge”.

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