Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 09.05.2017 morning, Sofia)

We shall continue our readings and studies from the Shrimad Bhagavatam. This is the Fifth Canto, describing very useful and very important aspects of spiritual life. Recently we discussed Bharata Maharaja’s story. So far we had the very exciting story, but now a little more philosophical part will start for those who really are interested in the complicated things. That much we should know about this king Bharata Maharaja that in this lifetime he acts like a mentally disabled person. And therefore it is a very unusual, very special job he’s got. But we shall understand this from the story.

“Shukadeva Gosvami continued: “My dear King, after this, King Rahugana, ruler of the states known as Sindhu and Sauvira, was going to Kapilashrama. When the King’s chief palanquin carriers reached the banks of the river Ikshumati, they needed another carrier. Therefore they began searching for someone, and by chance they came upon Jada Bharata. They considered the fact that Jada Bharata was very young and strong and had firm limbs. Like cows and asses, he was quite fit to carry loads. Thinking in this way, although the great soul Jada Bharata was unfit for such work, they nonetheless unhesitatingly forced him to carry the palanquin.

The palanquin, however, was very erratically carried by Jada Bharata due to his sense of nonviolence. As he stepped forward, he checked before him every three feet to see whether he was about to step on ants. Consequently he could not keep pace with the other carriers. Due to this, the palanquin was shaking, and King Rahugana immediately asked the carriers, “Why are you carrying this palanquin unevenly? Better carry it properly.”

When the palanquin carriers heard the threatening words of Maharaja Rahugana, they became very afraid of his punishment and began to speak to him as follows. “O lord, please note that we are not at all negligent in discharging our duties. We have been faithfully carrying this palanquin according to your desire, but this man who has been recently engaged to work with us cannot walk very swiftly. Therefore we are not able to carry the palanquin with him.”

King Rahugana could understand the speeches given by the carriers, who were afraid of being punished. He could also understand that simply due to the fault of one person, the palanquin was not being carried properly. Knowing this perfectly well and hearing their appeal, he became a little angry, although he was very advanced in political science and was very experienced. His anger arose due to his inborn nature as a king. Actually King Rahugana’s mind was covered by the mode of passion, and he therefore spoke as follows to Jada Bharata, whose brahmin effulgence was not clearly visible, being covered like a fire covered by ashes.”[1]

So, we see a very unusual exposition of the story: Jada Bharata hardly escaped being offered in some very unusual manner to divinities and Kali Ma directly came to save him; then immediately he was engaged in a very simple job. Life is sometimes like this: you start like a king, then you become an ascetic, then you become a deer, then you become like a madman, after that you almost lose your life, then all of a sudden you have to become a beast of burden, so to say – to carry heavy load. So there are so many ups and downs in this life. Many times you had been kings; maybe now this is the time to carry the burden. But the soul is the same, taking different experience.

(to be continued)

[1] Shrimad Bhagavatam 5.10.1-5

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