“Atma Yoga Story Time Book”Stories to be read during Sivasana/Relaxation
Story of AjamilaThere once was a very dedicated brahmana named Ajamila. Following the order of his father, he went tothe forest to collect fruit and flowers. On the way home, he came upon a very sleazy fellow making outwith a prostitute. The prostitutes eyes were rolling in intoxication, and her dress had become loose. WhenAjamila saw her, dormant lusty desires in his heart awakened.Ajamila began to obsess. He always thought of the prostitute, and within a short time he took her as aservant in his house and abandoned all the regulative principles of a brahmana. In order to maintain histrophy wife he engaged in all sorts of mobster like activity, not caring who he hurt in pursuit of profit.Ajamila had ten sons with the prostitute. The youngest was named Narayana. He was the favorite of thenow aging father. Unexpectedly the time of death arrived for the criminal Ajamila, Suddenly, standingbefore him were three excruciating specters. Horribly deformed with fierce, twisted faces, and hairstanding erect on their bodies. With ropes in their hands, they had come to take him away to the abode ofYamaraja - God of Death.Ajamila became bewildered, and because of attachment to his child, Ajamila began to call out to himloudly. Thus with tears in his eyes he somehow or other chanted the holy name of Narayana.The angeles of Vishnu, the Vishnudutas, immediately arrived when they heard the holy name of theirmaster from the mouth of the dying Ajamila. The Yamadutas were snatching the soul from the core of theheart of Ajamila but with resounding voices the Vishnudutas forbade them to do so.The Yamadudas replied: “You are most extraordinary and angelic beings. Your eyes are just like thepetals of lotus flowers and you all appear fresh and youthful. Your bright aura has dissipated the darknessof this place, but why dear sirs, are you obstructing us?”The servants of Vishnu smiled and spoke the following words in voices as deep as the sound of rumblingclouds. “Ajamila has already atoned for all his negative karma. Indeed, he has atoned not only for the badkarma of this one life but for that of millions of lives. In a helpless condition he chanted the holy name ofNarayana. Even though he did not chant purely, he chanted without offense, and therefore he is now pureand eligible for liberation. Do not try to take him to your master for karmic retribution.Having been released from the ropes of Yamaraja’s servants, the brahmana Ajamila immediately offeredobeisances to the Vishnudutas at their lotus feet.For the remainder of his life Ajamila gave up his materialistic ways and dedicated himself to spiritualactivism. He went to live in a sacred place and practiced Bhakti yoga. After some time, Ajamila onceagain saw before him four celestial beings. He knew that they were those he had seen previously, and thushe offered them his obeisances. Ajamila then gave up his material body and regained his original spiritualform. He then departed for the abode of Lord Vishnu.
“Dhruva”Once upon a time, King Uttanapada was patting the son of Suruci, Uttama, placing him on his lap. Whilethe child, Dhruva, was trying to get on the lap of his father, Suruci, his stepmother, became very envious.She told Dhruva “My dear child, you do not deserve to sit on the throne of the King. You are also the sonof the King, but because you did not take your birth from my womb, you are not qualified to sit on yourfathers lap.”Dhruva, having been struck by the strong words of his stepmother became very angry. When he saw thathis father did not protest, he immediately left the palace and went to his mother. She said “Whatever hasbeen spoken by your stepmother is factual. Therefore, if you desire to sit on the throne then you mustengage yourself in worshiping Lord Visnu.”With intelligence and determination, a the young age of six he left his fathers house. The great sageNärada approached Dhruva. He said “Now you have decided to undertake the mystic process ofmeditation, just to achieve the mercy of the Lord, but in my opinion such austerities are not possible forany ordinary man.”Dhruva said,”My dear Närada, I want to occupy a position more exalted than any yet achieved within thethree worlds. Kindly advise me of a path to follow by which I can achieve the goal of my life.” NäradaMuni became very compassionate, and said, “You should go to the bank of the Yamuna and perform thenecessary regulative principles for astanga-yoga. Chanting Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya, meditateupon the transcendental form of the Lord as He stands on the whorl of the lotus in your heart.”Dhruva observed fasting in the night with great care and attention. For the first month Dhruva Maharajaate only fruits and berries on every third day. In the second month Dhruva Maharaja ate only every sixdays, and for his eatables he took dry grass and leaves. In the third month he drank water only every ninedays. In the fourth month Dhruva inhaled air only every twelfth day. By the fifth month, Dhruva was ableto stand on only one leg without motion, and concentrate his mind fully on the Supersoul.The three worlds began to tremble and the total universal breathing became choked up. The form of theLord, which was brilliant like lightning and in which Dhruva, in his mature yogic process, was fullyabsorbed in meditation, all of a sudden disappeared. Thus Dhruva was perturbed, and his meditationbroke. But as soon as he opened his eyes he saw the Supreme Personality of Godhead personally present,just as he had been seeing the Lord in his heart. Dhruva became overwhelmed with love.Then God said to him “My dear Dhruva I know the desire within your heart. I shall award you theglowing planet known as the polestar. No one has ever ruled this planet. After your material life in thisbody, you will go to My planet. You will never have to come back again to this material world.
Dhruva Maharaja and the YaksasWhen Dhruva Maharaja heard of the killing of his brother by the Yaksas, being overwhelmed withlamentation and anger, he got on his chariot and went out to fight. Dhruva finally came upon a valley inthe Himalayan range. He saw a city full of ghostly persons who were followers of Lord Siva.Dhruva immediately blew his conchshell, and the sound reverberated throughout the entire sky. TheYaksas, unable to tolerate the resounding vibration of the conchshell, came forth from their city withweapons and attacked. Dhruva immediately began to kill them by simultaneously discharging arrowsthree at a time. The Yaksas threw twice as many arrows from each of their soldiers. The Yaksa soldierswere 130,000 strong, all greatly angry. They showered various types of feathered arrows, iron bludgeons,swords, tridents, lances, pikes, spears and other weapons.Dhruva was completely covered by an incessant shower of weapons. Dhruva’s bow and arrows twangedand hissed, causing fear in the hearts of his enemies. He began to shoot incessant arrows, shattering alltheir different weapons. The sharp arrows pierced the shields and bodies of the enemy. The remainingYaksas who somehow or other were not killed had their limbs cut to pieces by the arrows of the greatvaisnava warrior. Thus they began to flee. Not one of the opposing soldiers was left standing with properweapons.Suddenly Dhruva heard a tremendous sound, as if all the whole oceans were there, and he found that fromthe sky a great dust storm was coming from all directions. Within a moment the whole sky was overcastwith dense clouds, and severe thundering was heard. There was glittering electric lightning and severerainfall of blood, mucus, pus, stool, urine and marrow. Hailstones fell, along with lances, clubs, swords,iron bludgeons and great pieces of stone. Dhruva also saw many big serpents with angry eyes, vomitingforth fire and coming to devour him. Then, as if it were the time of the dissolution of the whole world, thefierce sea with foaming waves and great roaring sounds came forward before him. The dark angel Yaksasare by nature very heinous, and by their dark power of illusion they can create many strange phenomena.When the great sages heard that Dhruva was overpowered by the illusory mystic tricks of the darkangeles, they immediately assembled to offer him auspicious encouragement. They reminded him thatsacred mantras which are names of the Lord are as powerful as the Lord Himself. Therefore, simply bychanting and hearing those mantras many men can be fully protected from fierce death. When Dhruvaheard the encouraging words of the great sages, he invoked the Holy names of the Lord and then took uphis arrow made by Lord Narayana. As soon as Dhruva Maharaja joined the Narayanastra arrow to hisbow, the illusion created by the Yaksas was immediately vanquished. Arrows with golden shafts andfeathers like the wings of a swan flew out from Dhruva’s bow. Dhruva, by the power of the transcendentalmantra non-different from the lord, single handedly conquered the evil forces present before him.
“Dhruva Maharaja Goes Back To the Spiritual World”Kuvera, the demi god master of the treasury appeared before Dhruva and spoke as follows, “My dearDhruva, we have heard that you are constantly engaged in transcendental loving service to God. You areworthy to take all benedictions from us. Please ask without hesitation whatever benediction you wantfrom me.”Dhruva, that most elevated pure devotee begged that he might have unflinching faith in and remembranceof the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Kuvera was very pleased, and happily he gave Dhruva thebenediction he wanted. Thereafter he disappeared from Dhruvas presence, and Dhruva returned to hiscapital city.Dhruva continued to rule over his planet for thirty-six thousand years. Dhruva thus passed many, manyyears favorably executing his duties. Thereafter he handed over the charge of the royal throne to his son.Dhruva realized that this cosmic manifestation is a creation of the illusory, external energy of the SupremeLord. Thus Dhruva left his kingdom for the forests of the Himalayas.Dhruvas senses became completely purified. He fixed his sitting position and by yogic practice controlledthe breathing process. Then he concentrated his mind on the form of the Lord and entered into completetrance. Because of his transcendental bliss, incessant tears flowed from his eyes, his heart melted, andthere was shivering and standing of the hairs all over his body. In a trance of spiritual bliss, Dhruvacompletely forgot his bodily existence, and became liberated from material bondage.As soon as the symptoms of his liberation were manifest, he saw a very beautiful airplane coming downfrom the sky, as if the brilliant full moon were coming down. Dhruva saw two very beautiful associates ofLord Vishnu in the plane. They had four hands and a blackish bodily luster, they were very youthful, andtheir eyes were just like reddish lotus flowers. They held clubs in their hands, and they were dressed invery attractive garments with helmets and were decorated with necklaces, bracelets and earrings.Dhruva immediately stood up. But, being puzzled, in hastiness he forgot how to receive them in theproper way. Therefore he simply offered obeisances with folded hands and chanted and glorified the holynames of the Lord. The two confidential associates of Lord Vishnu, said, “Dear King, We arerepresentatives of the creator of the whole universe. We are here to take you to the spiritual world. Pleasecome with us and live eternally.”When he heard the sweet words of the Lords associates, he immediately offered his respectful obeisancesand accepted their blessings. He became as brilliant and illuminating as molten gold. When Dhruva wasattempting to get on the transcendental plane, he saw death personified approach him. He took advantageof the opportunity to put his feet on the head of death, and thus he got up on the airplane. While Dhruvawas passing through space, he gradually saw all the planets of the solar system, and on the path he saw allthe demigods showering flowers upon him like rain. In this way, the fully God conscious DhruvaMaharaja attained the ultimate goal of human life.
“Gajendra”There is a very large mountain called Trikuta. Being surrounded by the ocean of milk, it is verybeautifully situated. Its peaks are made of iron, silver and gold and are full of jewels. The sounds of thewaterfalls on the mountain create a pleasing vibration. The ground at the foot of the mountain is alwayswashed by waves of milk. Trikuta Mountain has many lakes and rivers, with beaches covered by smallgems resembling grains of sand. The water is as clear as crystal, and when the demigod damsels bathe init, their bodies lend fragrance to the water and the breeze.At the base of the mountain is a very large lake filled with shining golden lotus which add excellentbeauty to the mountain. The lake is crowded with swans and other murmuring birds. The banks of thelake are abundantly adorned with varieties of trees that yielded flowers and fruits in all seasons.The leader of the elephants, Gajendra, once wandered toward the lake with his female elephants. He madeTrikuta Mountain tremble all around because of the weight of his body. Gajendra entered the lake, bathedthoroughly and was relieved of his fatigue. Then, with the aid of his trunk, he drank the cold, clear,nectarean water, which was mixed with the dust of lotus flowers and water lilies, until he was fullysatisfied. By the arrangement of providence a strong crocodile was angry at the elephant and attacked theelephants leg in the water. The elephant was certainly strong, and he tried his best to get free from thisdanger. When the King of the elephants saw that he was under the clutches of the crocodile he wasextremely afraid of being killed. He decided to seek protection from the Supreme Personality of Godhead.Right at that moment Vishnu appeared carrying His disc and other weapons. When Gajendra saw thatVishnu was coming in the sky on the back of Garuda, he immediately took a lotus flower in his trunk, andwith great difficulty due to his painful condition, he uttered the following words: "O my Lord, Narayan,master of the universe, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, I offer my respectful obeisances unto you.”He was able to do this because he had memory of past live in which he performed Bhakti Yoga.Seeing Gajendra in such an aggrieved position, the lord immediately got down from the back of Garudaand pulled the King of the elephants, along with the crocodile, out of the water. Then the Lord severed thecrocodiles mouth from its body with His disc. Because Gajendra had been touched directly by the hands of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, hewas immediately freed of all material ignorance and bondage. Thus he achieved the same bodily featuresas the Lord, being dressed in yellow garments and possessing four hands.In the presence of the demigods, who were showering flowers, the Lord, sitting on the back of His carrier,Garuda, returned to His all-wonderful abode and took Gajendra with Him.
“Autumn”While Krishna and Balarama are enjoying the gifts of the rainy season, the autumn season graduallyarrives. With the appearance of autumn, the sky is completely cleared of all clouds, and it recovers itsnatural blue color. Everything becomes beautiful.The clouds of autumn are white, for they do not carry any water. Sometimes the falls come down from thetops of the hills. The water of the ocean becomes calm and quiet.During the daytime, the sun is very scorching, but at night, there is clear moonshine and the stars shinevery beautifully. The waters in the lakes and rivers became as clear as crystal and fill with fragrant lotusflowers, and breezes blow very pleasantly.At this time Krishna enters the forest of Våndävana with the cows and cowherd boys. Krishna is verymuch pleased with the atmosphere of the forest, where flowers bloom and bees and drones hum veryjubilantly. While the birds, trees and plants are all looking very happy, Krishna, tending the cows andaccompanied by Balarama, begins to vibrate His transcendental flute.After hearing the vibration of the flute of Krishna, the cowherd girls remember Him and begin to talkamongst themselves about how nicely Krishna plays His flute. While the cowherd maidens describe thesweet vibration of Krishna’s flute, they also remember their pastimes with Him; thus their minds becomedisturbed, and they are unable to describe completely the beautiful vibrations.While discussing the transcendental vibration, they remember also how Krishna dresses, decorated with apeacock feather on His head, just like a dancing actor, and with blue flowers pushed over His ear. Hisgarments glow yellow-gold, and He is garlanded with a very beautiful necklace. Dressed in such anattractive way, Krishna fills up the holes of His flute with the nectar emanating from His lips. So theyremember Him, entering the forest of Vrindävana, which is always glorified by His lotus-like footprints.The scorching heat of the autumn sunshine is sometimes intolerable, and therefore the clouds in the skyappear in sympathy above Krishna and Balarama while They engaged in blowing Their flutes. The cloudsserved as a soothing umbrella over Their heads.Krishna and Balarama carry binding ropes on Their shoulders and in Their hands, just like ordinarycowherd boys. While milking the cows, the boys bind their hind legs with the small ropes. The ropesalmost always hang from the shoulders of the boys. In spite of Their being the Supreme Personality ofGodhead, they play exactly like cowherd boys, and therefore everything becomes wonderful andattractive.While Krishna is engaged in tending the cows in the forest of Våndävana or on Govardhana Hill, thecowherd girls in the village are always absorbed in thinking of Him and discussing His differentactivities. Their only purpose is to remain always absorbed in thoughts of their beloved Krishna.
“Damodara Lila”While mother Yasoda was churning butter one day, young Krsna appeared before her, and caught hold ofthe churning rod to stop her from churning. He was hungry and wanted to drink her breast-milk. MotherYasoda then embraced Krsna and sat him on her lap, gazing at him with great love and affection, andbecause of her intense affection, milk automatically began flowing from her breasts. However, as soon asshe saw that a pan of milk on the stove was boiling over, she immediately left her son to take care of it,although he was not yet fully satisfied.Becoming very angry and biting His reddish lips with His teeth, Krsna, with tears in His eyes, broke thechurning pot with a piece of stone. Then He left the room and began to eat the freshly churned butter fromthe pot in a solitary place.Mother Yasoda, after taking the boiling milk off the stove, returned to where she had left Krsna, and whenshe saw that the pot was broken and that her son was gone, she concluded that he must be responsible.Krsna sat on an upside-down wooden grinding mortar, and began distributing yogurt and butter to themonkeys. Because of having stolen, he was looking around anxiously, suspecting that He might bepunished by His mother.Meanwhile Yasoda, who had tracked him by following his butter-smeared footprints, cautiouslyapproached Him from behind.When Lord Krsna saw His mother with a stick in her hand, he quickly got down from the mortar andbegan to flee as if he were very afraid.Mother Yasoda, her thin waist overburdened by her heavy breasts, followed Krsna swiftly, the flowers inher hair falling to the ground as she ran. When she finally caught him, Krsna became more and moreafraid and admitted to being a thief. She saw that he was crying, his tears mixing with the black ointmentaround His eyes, and as He rubbed His eyes with His hands, He smeared the ointment all over His face.Mother Yasoda, catching her beautiful son by the hand, began to scold him mildly. Yasoda was alwaysoverwhelmed by love for Krsna, not knowing who he was, or how powerful He was. Because of intensematernal affection for Krsna, she never even cared who He was.When she saw that her son had become too afraid, Yasoda threw the stick away and decided to tie Him upto stop him doing any more naughty activities. However, when she tried to bind him, she found that therope was too short by the measure of two fingers, so she brought another rope to join to it. After joiningboth ropes, this longer rope was also too short by the measure of two fingers, and when another rope wasjoined to it, it was still two fingers too short. Thus, mother Yasoda joined all the ropes available in herhousehold, but still she failed to bind Krsna. Meanwhile, the elderly cowherd women in theneighbourhood, who had gathered to watch, were smiling and enjoying the fun. Similarly, Yasoda,although labouring hard, was also smiling. All of them were struck with wonder.Because of mother Yasoda’s hard labour, her whole body became covered with perspiration. When youngKrsna saw that His mother was very fatigued, He felt compassionate and finally agreed to be bound, andsuddenly the ropes, which were previously too short, were able to cross over and bind his belly, which isin fact the resting place of the entire universe.
“Kardama and Devahuti”The sacred lake, Bindu-sarovara, was the home of many sages.As he approached it, the great Emperor Svayambhuva Manu, saw Kardama Muni sitting in his ashram.Although dressed in old rags and his hair matted the sage’s body shone brilliantly. His eyes were like thepetals of a lotus amidst his beautiful face.“O valiant King,” Kardama said “Please tell me the purpose for which you have come here. Whatever itmay be, I shall carry it out without reservation.”“O great sage,” replied the emperor, “ My daughter is seeking a husband similar in age and qualities. Shehas heard from the sage Narada of your noble character, learning, beauty, youth and other virtues.Because you have not taken a vow of perpetual celibacy, I beg you to accept her hand in marriage.”Kardama remembered how recently the Supreme Lord Vishnu had appeared before him, and told him thata very special girl’s parents would come to offer her hand to him in marriage. Thinking of this, KardamaMuni answered the king: “Let your daughter’s desire be fulfilled. I accept this chaste girl as my wife, onone condition. After she bears children, I shall accept a life of complete renunciation, leaving home forthe forest.”When her parents left, Devahuti served Kardama constantly with great love and respect. After selflesslyserving him for a long time, she grew weak and emaciated. Kardama saw this and said, “O respectfulprincess, I am very pleased with you for your great devotion and excellent loving service. It astonishesme that you have neglected your own body to use it on my behalf.”“My dear husband, you once made the promise of children and now I ask you to fulfill that promise.Please make some arrangement so that my emaciated body may be rendered fit for you.”Therefore, Kardama instructed her to go and bathe herself in the holy waters of Bindu-sarovara. As sheentered the lake, within its waters she saw one thousand female angels, all in the prime of youth andfragrant like lotuses. After bathing her with oils, they mystically restored her beauty. Her countenancebegan to shine, she regained her beautiful body and the dark curling tresses surrounding her face. Shethen returned to her husband.Using his yogic power, Kardama instantly created a beautiful palace that could be transported anywherein the universe at his will. It was seven stories high, adorned with pillars of precious stones, and capableof satisfying all desires. Aboard the palace, they traveled through celestial lands and enjoyed for manyyears.Kardama Muni then returned the palace to his ashram, where he divided himself into nine forms to givepleasure to Devahuti, who was eager for sexual enjoyment. In the company of her handsome husband,situated on a bed that increased sexual desires, a hundred autumns passed like a brief span of time.Kardama impregnated Devahuti nine times and immediately afterward Devahuti gave birth to nine girls,all charming and fragrant with the scent of the red lotus.Then, when she saw her husband about to leave home, she became distressed, and she spoke, suppressingher tears.
“You have fulfilled all the promises you made, yet because I am dependant on you, you should grant mefearlessness too. You are powerful enough to give anyone liberation from this world, but unfortunately Idid not seek liberation from you.”“Don’t be disappointed with your-self,” Kardama replied. “Soon Lord Vishnu himself will enter yourwomb and become your son and he will vanquish the darkness in your heart by teaching you spiritualknowledge.
“Messing with Mom”One day, when Krishna and Balarama were playing with Their friends, all the boys joined Balarama andcomplained to mother Yasoda that Krishna had eaten clay. On hearing this, mother Yasoda caught hold ofKrishna’s hand and said, “My dear Krishna, why have You eaten earth? Just see, all Your friends,including Balarama, are complaining about You.”Being afraid of His mother, Krishna replied, “My dear mother, all these boys are speaking lies againstMe. I have never eaten any clay. My elder brother, Balarama, while playing with Me today, became angry,and therefore they have all combined together to complain so you will be angry and chastise Me. If youthink they are truthful, then you can look within My mouth to see whether I have eaten clay or not.” Hismother replied, “All right, open Your mouth. I shall see.”When Krishna who was the none other than God himself was so ordered by His mother, He immediatelyopened His mouth just like an ordinary boy. Then mother Yasoda saw within that mouth the completevision of creation. She saw the entire outer space in all directions, mountains, islands, oceans, seas,planets, air, fire, moon and stars. She also saw all the elements—water, sky and the extensive etherealexistence, along with the total ego and its products, namely the senses, the controllers of the senses, all thedemigods and the objects of the senses like sound and smell. She saw the three qualities of materialnature, all living entities, eternal time, material nature, spiritual nature, activity, consciousness anddifferent forms of the whole creation. Yasoda could find within the mouth of her child everythingnecessary for cosmic manifestation. Upon seeing all this, she became struck with awe and began towonder whether she were dreaming or actually seeing something extraordinary.She thought that she had become mentally deranged to see all those wonderful things. Then she thought,“It may be cosmic mystic power attained by my child, and therefore I am perplexed by such visionswithin His mouth. Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whois beyond the expression of consciousness, mind, work and philosophical speculation, and whose differentenergies produce everything manifested and unmanifest.”Lord Krishna then expanded His internal energy just to bewilder Mother Yasoda with maternal affection.Immediately she accepted Krishna as her own child. She took Him on her lap and became overwhelmedwith parental love. She thus began to think of God as her own begotten child.
“Lord Siva saves the world”The great sage Kasyapa had many sons, who were both demigods and demons. Once, they gathered bythe shore of the ocean of milk, desiring to extract nectar from that ocean, a nectar which when drunkwould make them immortal. After convincing Vasuki, the king of the serpents, to assist them, theywrapped his gigantic body around Mandara Mountain and, using him as a churning rope, they beganchurning the ocean of milk.The mountain, which was being used as a churning rod, had no support, so although held by the stronghands of the demigods and demons, it sank into the ocean. Everyone became disappointed, and their facesbegan to shrivel. Seeing the situation, the unlimitedly powerful Lord Vishnu, took the wonderful shape ofa tortoise, entered the water, and lifted the great mountain upon his back, which extended for eighthundred thousand miles like a large island. When the demigods and demons saw this, they becameencouraged and began churning again, rotating Mandara Mountain on the back of the extraordinarytortoise, who accepted the pivoting of the mountain as though someone was gently scratching his back.Then, manifesting thousands of hands, Lord Vishnu simultaneously appeared on the mountain’s summit,and held it with one hand. The demigods and demons worked madly for the nectar, being encouraged byVishnu, who was both above and below the mountain. The great serpent Vasuki breathed smoke andblazing fire from his thousands of mouths, which weakened the demons, who gradually becamepowerless. The garments, garlands, weapons and faces of the demigods were also blackened by smoke.However, by the grace of Vishnu, clouds appeared, pouring torrents of rain, and cool breezes blew, givingthe demigods relief. When, despite so many endeavors, the nectar did not appear, Lord Vishnu personallybegan to churn the ocean. His body color was like a blackish cloud, he dressed with yellow garments andearrings like lightning. With unimaginably strong arms, He took hold of Vasuki and began churning theocean, using Mandara Mountain as a churning rod. The entire ocean became turbulent, and the sharks,crocodiles and even large whales became agitated.Due to the churning, the ocean first produced a fiercely dangerous poison, and seeing that uncontrollablepoison spreading in all directions, out of great fear the demigods approached Lord Siva for help. Theyfound him sitting on the summit of Kailash Hill with his wife, Bhaväni, and began to offer him prayerswith great respect, saying “ O greatest of all demigods, Mahädeva, please save us from this fiery poison,which is spreading all over the universe.”Lord Siva, feeling great compassion, turned to his eternal consort, Bhavani, and said:“Just see how the whole world has been placed in danger by the churning of the ocean of milk. It is myduty to give protection to all living beings, therefore, let me drink this poison, for all living entities maybecome happy by my actions. Then Lord Siva, who is dedicated to auspicious, benevolent work for humanity, took all the poison in hispalm and drank it. As if in spite, the poison from the ocean of milk demonstrated its potency by markingSivas neck with a bluish line. That line, however, is now accepted as a wonderful ornament of Lord Siva.It is said that great personalities always accept voluntary suffering to help alleviate the suffering of others.This is considered the highest method of worshiping the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, who is present ineveryones heart.
“Markendaya Rishi”The sage Markendaya, after receiving brahminical initiation, fixed himself in the vow of lifelong celibacy.He then worshiped the Supreme Lord Hari for six lifetimes. Lord Indra then sent the most beautiful of allwomen to interrupt the sages austerities. But Markandaya defeated them by the potency of his penance.Then, to show mercy to Markendaya, Lord Sri Hari appeared before him. Markendaya prostrated himselfin obeisances. The Lord said “My dear Markendaya, You have perfected your life by fixed meditationupon Me. I am perfectly satisfied with your practice of lifelong celibacy. Please choose whateverbenediction you desire.” The sage said: “Although I am satisfied simply by seeing You, I do wish to seeYour illusory potency, by whose influence the entire world is bewildered.” The ultimate Personality ofGodhead, smiling, replied, "So be it," and then departed.The sage remained in his asrama, meditating constantly upon the Lord. One day while Markendaya wasperforming his evening worship a great wind suddenly arose. That wind created a terrible sound andbrought in its wake fearsome clouds that were accompanied by lightning and roaring thunder and thatpoured down torrents of rain. Then the four great oceans swallowed up the surface of the earth with theirwaves. The rain pouring down from the clouds filled the ocean more and more until that great seainundated the earth, outer space, heaven and the celestial region. Out of all the inhabitants of the universeonly Marendaya remained. His matted hair scattered, the great sage wandered about alone in the water.Tormented by hunger and thirst, attacked by monstrous fish and battered by the wind and waves, hemoved aimlessly through the infinite darkness. He grew increasingly exhausted and could not tell the skyfrom the earth. Countless millions of years passed as Markendaya wandered about, his mind bewilderedby the illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of the divine.One day he came upon a small island, upon which stood a young banyan tree bearing blossoms and fruits.On a branch of that tree he saw an infant boy lying within a leaf. The childs bright aura was swallowingup the darkness. His dark-blue complexion was the color of a flawless sapphire, His lotus face shone witha wealth of beauty. The corners of His eyes were reddish like the whorl of a lotus.As Markendaya beheld the child, all his weariness vanished. Indeed, so great was his pleasure that thehairs on his body stood on end. Just then the child inhaled, drawing Markendaya within His body. Therethe sage found the entire universe arrayed as it had been before its dissolution. Seeing this, Markendayawas most astonished and perplexed. As Markendaya beheld the entire universe, the infant exhaled,expelling the sage from His body and casting him back into the ocean of dissolution.In that vast sea he again saw the banyan tree growing on the tiny island and the infant boy lying withinthe leaf. The child glanced at him from the corner of His eyes with a smile imbued with the nectar of love.At that moment the child became invisible to the sage. Suddenly the banyan tree, the great water and thedissolution of the universe all vanished as well, and in an instant Markendaya found himself back in hisown hermitage, just as before.
“Story of the Four Kumars”At the beginning of creation, Lord Brahma created from his mind four sages named Sanaka, Sananda,Sanatana and Sanat, who became known as the four Kumaras. He wanted them to marry and producechildren in order to populate the universe, but because they were completely self-realised, they refused toobey his order. Desiring to detach themselves completely from worldly affairs, they purposefullyremained as young boys, their bodies never ageing.After travelling throughout many universes, the Kumaras entered the spiritual sky, Vaikunthaloka, by thestrength of their yogic powers. They passed through six golden gates, and as they arrived at the seventhgate, they saw two beautiful beings armed with clubs.The four boy-sages, who were completely naked, looked only five years old, even though they were theoldest living entities and were fully self-realized. But when the doormen saw them, they blocked the gatewith their clubs, preventing the Kumaras from entering. The sages’ eyes turned red with anger due to theirgreat eagerness to see their beloved master, Lord Narayana.They said: “Who are these people with such an unfriendly attitude? They are servants of Narayana, and sothey are meant to possess the same wonderful qualities as Him. They are probably imposters. Let usdecide how they should be punished in a way that will be for their ultimate benefit. Since they find dualityin the spiritual existence of Vaikuntha, they are contaminated and should be removed from this place.”The doormen realised that they were about to be cursed, and fell at the sages’ feet in great fear andanxiety.As soon as Lord Narayana learned about the insult to the saintly Kumaras, He at once went to see them.The Lord, who was formerly visible only within their hearts in meditation, had now actually becomevisible to their eyes, displaying His exquisite beauty . The sages joyously bowed their heads at His feet,and when the breeze carrying the aroma of tulasi leaves from the lotus-like feet of the Lord entered theirnostrils, they experienced a change in body and mind, becoming enchanted by the personal form of theLord. Thus the sages became fully satisfied by meditating upon Narayana’s transcendental body, eventhough they were already liberated souls.Lord Narayana said to the Kumaras: “My attendants, Jaya and Vijaya, have committed a great offenseagainst you, and I approve of the punishment that you have chosen for them. The disrespect shown bythem has actually been displayed by Me because they are My servants; therefore I seek your forgivenessfor this incident.”The Kumaras replied: “Whatever punishment You wish to award these two innocent persons, or also tous, we shall accept. We now understand that we have cursed two faultless persons.”“ O sages,” Narayana continued “ The curse you inflicted on them was actually ordained by Me. Theywill soon take birth in a family of evil sorcerers, but they will be constantly united with Me by meditatingupon me in intense anger, and they will return soon.”After the Kumaras left, Narayana spoke to His attendants, Jaya and Vijaya:“Please depart now, but do not fear. By practicing the mystic yoga system in anger, you will be cleansedof your offense and within a very short time you will return to Me.”
“How Valmiki came to tell the Ramayana”One day the great sage Valmiki was visited in his ashrama by the celestial seer Narada. Valmiki wantedto know who was the most virtuous person in the world.Actually, by his own spiritual practices and meditations Valmiki had been able to realize that the SupremeLord, Visnu, had appeared on the earth in a human form.Narada replied, “There is one descended in the line of Iksvaku and known by men as Rama. He ispowerful, radiant, resolute and has brought His senses under control. Intelligent, sagacious, eloquent,glorious and an exterminator of foes, He knows the secret of virtue, is true to His promise and is intent onthe good of the people.”Narada went on at length describing Rama’s many qualities. He then narrated in brief the whole story ofRama’s pastimes. When he had finished he said, “This Rama is now ruling in Ayodhya. Indeed, you havealready met Him when He came to your ashrama. The remaining part of His pastimes are yet to bemanifested. O sage, all this will soon be described by yourself.This sacred story of Rama, known as the Ramayana, should be heard by all men. It is on a par with theVedas and capable of destroying all karmic reactions.”Narada rose to leave and was worshipped by Valmiki. As the celestial seer rose into the sky by his mysticpower, Valmiki stood thinking about Rama.As he went toward the riverbank, the agni surveyed the beautiful forest scenery. He saw playing amongthe reeds by the river a pair of cranes. Those two birds were engaged in mating and they sported togethermaking a delightful sound.Suddenly, as Valmiki looked on, a huntsman fired an arrow and struck one of the birds. Mortally woundedand covered in blood, it thrashed about on the ground screaming in pain. Its mate also cried piteously andfell about in sorrow.Seeing this, the soft-hearted Valmiki felt compassion. He saw the hunstman approaching with bow inhand. In grief, he said to that hunter, “As you have slain this poor bird while it was absorbed in pleasure,may you have no peace of mind for the rest of your life.”The curse, however, came out in perfectly metered poetry. Astonished by this, Valmiki said, “What have Iuttered? Tormented by grief I have composed a stanza filled with that emotion.”The sage, brooding over the incident, entered the river and took his bath. After coming out he went backto his hermitage still thinking on the rhyming couplet he had spoken to the hunter. When he reached hisashrama he took his seat and was about to commence his lessons to his disciples when Brahma suddenlyappeared there.Seeing the great creator of the universe approaching on his swan carrier, Valmiki hastily rose and joinedhis palms in humility. He offered his prostrate obeisances and worshipped the deity with many prayers.Brahma then sat down on an exalted seat quickly brought for him by Valmiki’s students.Even though Brahma was present before him, Valmiki could not stop thinking about the incident with thehunter. He again recited the verse he had composed. Feeling sorry that he had lost control of himself, heappeared dejected and sighed.
Brahma laughed and said, “Let this poetic utterance of yours become the source of your glory. Do notbrood any more, O sage. It was by my arrangement that this speech flowed from your lips. In that samemeter you should now describe the pastimes on earth of the all-wise Rama. Tell the story of that hero asyou have heard it from Narada. By my mercy you will be able to see every detail of that story, as clearlyas a fruit held in the palm of your hand. Therefore, render this sacred and soul-ravishing tale into verse forthe good of the world.”Brahma blessed the sage that his narrative would remain extant for as long as the mountains stood on theface of the earth.Having finished speaking, Brahma disappeared. Valmiki was filled with wonder. He and his disciplesgazed in amazement at Brahma’s seat for some time. Gradually regaining their presence of mind, thesage’s students began reciting the verse he had uttered to the hunter.The sage then began to meditate on Rama’s pastimes, gradually composing the Ramayana over thecoming days.