Srimad Bhagavatam 01.09.06-07A - Ramanujacharyas final Instruction (download mp3)
by Mukund Mala Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
parvato nārado dhaumyo
trito gṛtsamado ’sitaḥ
kakṣīvān gautamo ’triś ca
kauśiko ’tha sudarśanaḥ
All the sages like Parvata Muni, Nārada, Dhaumya, Vyāsa the incarnation of God, Bṛhadaśva, Bharadvāja and Paraśurāma and disciples, Vasiṣṭha, Indrapramada, Trita, Gṛtsamada, Asita, Kakṣīvān, Gautama, Atri, Kauśika and Sudarśana were present.
Parvata Muni is considered to be one of the oldest sages. He is almost always a constant companion of Nārada Muni. They are also spacemen competent to travel in the air without the help of any material vehicle. Parvata Muni is also a devarṣi, or a great sage amongst the demigods, like Nārada. He was present along with Nārada at the sacrificial ceremony of Mahārāja Janamejaya, son of Mahārāja Parīkṣit. In this sacrifice all the snakes of the world were to be killed. Parvata Muni and Nārada Muni are called Gandharvas also because they can travel in the air singing the glories of the Lord. Since they can travel in the air, they observed Draupadī’s svayaṁvara ceremony (selecting of her own husband) from the air. Like Nārada Muni, Parvata Muni also used to visit the royal assembly in the heaven of King Indra. As a Gandharva, sometimes he visited the royal assembly of Kuvera, one of the important demigods. Both Nārada and Parvata were once in trouble with the daughter of Mahārāja Sṛñjaya. Mahārāja Sṛñjaya got the benediction of a son by Parvata Muni.
Nārada Muni is inevitably associated with the narrations of the Purāṇas. He is described in the Bhāgavatam. In his previous life he was the son of a maidservant, but by good association with pure devotees he became enlightened in devotional service, and in the next life he became a perfect man comparable with himself only. In the Mahābhārata his name is mentioned in many places. He is the principal devarṣi, or the chief sage among the demigods. He is the son and disciple of Brahmājī, and from him the disciplic succession in the line of Brahmā has been spread. He initiated Prahlāda Mahārāja, Dhruva Mahārāja and many celebrated devotees of the Lord. He initiated even Vyāsadeva, the author of the Vedic literatures, and from Vyāsadeva, Madhvācārya was initiated, and thus the Madhvasampradāya, in which the Gauḍīyasampradāya is also included, has spread all over the universe. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu belonged to this Madhva sampradāya; therefore, Brahmājī, Nārada, Vyāsa, down to Madhva, Caitanya and the Gosvāmīs all belonged to the same line of disciplic succession. Nāradajī has instructed many kings from time immemorial. In the Bhāgavatam we can see that he instructed Prahlāda Mahārāja while he was in the womb of his mother, and he instructed Vasudeva, father of Kṛṣṇa, as well as Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira.
Dhaumya: A great sage who practiced severe penances at Utkocaka Tīrtha and was appointed royal priest of the Pāṇḍava kings. He acted as the priest in many religious functions of the Pāṇḍavas (saṁskāra), and also each of the Pāṇḍavas was attended by him at the betrothal of Draupadī. He was present even during the exile of the Pāṇḍavas and used to advise them in circumstances when they were perplexed. He instructed them how to live incognito for one year, and his instructions were strictly followed by the Pāṇḍavas during that time. His name is mentioned also when the general funeral ceremony was performed after the Battle of Kurukṣetra. In the Anuṣāsana-parva of Mahābhārata (127.15-16), he gave very elaborate religious instructions to Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira. He was actually the right type of priest of a householder, for he could guide the Pāṇḍavas on the right path of religion. A priest is meant for guiding the householder progressively in the right path of āśrama-dharma, or the occupational duty of a particular caste. There is practically no difference between the family priest and the spiritual master. The sages, saints and brāhmaṇas were especially meant for such functions.
Bādarāyaṇa (Vyāsadeva): He is known as Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana, Dvaipāyana, Satyavatī-suta, Pārāśarya, Parāśarātmaja, Bādarāyaṇa, Vedavyāsa, etc. He was the son of Mahāmuni Parāśara in the womb of Satyavatī prior to her betrothal with Mahārāja Śantanu, the father of the great general Grandfather Bhīṣmadeva. He is a powerful incarnation of Nārāyaṇa, and he broadcasts the Vedic wisdom to the world. As such, Vyāsadeva is offered respects before one chants the Vedic literature, especially the Purāṇas. Śukadeva Gosvāmī was his son, and ṛṣis like Vaiśampāyana were his disciples for different branches of the Vedas. He is the author of the great epic Mahābhārata and the great transcendental literature Bhāgavatam. The Brahma-sūtras — the Vedānta-sūtras, or Bādarāyaṇa-sūtras — were compiled by him. Amongst sages he is the most respected author by dint of severe penances. When he wanted to record the great epic Mahābhārata for the welfare of all people in the Age of Kali, he was feeling the necessity of a powerful writer who could take up his dictation. By the order of Brahmājī, Śrī Gaṇeśajī took up the charge of noting down the dictation on the condition that Vyāsadeva would not stop dictation for a moment. The Mahābhārata was thus compiled by the joint endeavor of Vyāsa and Gaṇeśa.
By the order of his mother, Satyavatī, who was later married to Mahārāja Śantanu, and by the request of Bhīṣmadeva, the eldest son of Mahārāja Śantanu by his first wife, the Ganges, he begot three brilliant sons, whose names are Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Pāṇḍu and Vidura. The Mahābhārata was compiled by Vyāsadeva after the Battle of Kurukṣetra and after the death of all the heroes of Mahābhārata. It was first spoken in the royal assembly of Mahārāja Janamejaya, the son of Mahārāja Parīkṣit.
Bṛhadaśva: An ancient sage who used to meet Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira now and then. First of all he met Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira at Kāmyavana. This sage narrated the history of Mahārāja Nala. There is another Bṛhadaśva, who is the son of the Ikṣvāku dynasty (Mahābhārata, Vana-parva 209.4-5).
Bharadvāja: He is one of the seven great ṛṣis and was present at the time of the birth ceremony of Arjuna. The powerful ṛṣi sometimes undertook severe penances on the shore of the Ganges, and his āśrama is still celebrated at Prayāgadhāma. It is learned that this ṛṣi, while taking bath in the Ganges, happened to meet Ghṛtacī, one of the beautiful society girls of heaven, and thus he discharged semen, which was kept and preserved in an earthen pot and from which Droṇa was born. So Droṇācārya is the son of Bharadvāja Muni. Others say that Bharadvāja the father of Droṇa is a different person from Maharṣi Bharadvāja. He was a great devotee of Brahmā. Once he approached Droṇācārya and requested him to stop the Battle of Kurukṣetra.
Paraśurāma, or Reṇukāsuta: He is the son of Maharṣi Jamadagni and Śrīmatī Reṇukā. Thus he is also known as Reṇukāsuta. He is one of the powerful incarnations of God, and he killed the kṣatriya community as a whole twenty-one times. With the blood of the kṣatriyas he pleased the souls of his forefathers. Later on he underwent severe penances at the Mahendra Parvata. After taking the whole earth from the kṣatriyas, he gave it in charity to Kaśyapa Muni. Paraśurāma instructed the Dhanur-veda, or the science of fighting, to Droṇācārya because he happened to be a brāhmaṇa. He was present during the coronation of Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, and he celebrated the function along with other great ṛṣis.
Paraśurāma is so old that he met both Rāma and Kṛṣṇa at different times. He fought with Rāma, but he accepted Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He also praised Arjuna when he saw him with Kṛṣṇa. When Bhīṣma refused to marry Ambā, who wanted him to become her husband, Ambā met Paraśurāma, and by her request only, he asked Bhīṣmadeva to accept her as his wife. Bhīṣma refused to obey his order, although he was one of the spiritual masters of Bhīṣmadeva. Paraśurāma fought with Bhīṣmadeva when Bhīṣma neglected his warning. Both of them fought very severely, and at last Paraśurāma was pleased with Bhīṣma and gave him the benediction of becoming the greatest fighter in the world.
Vasiṣṭha: The great celebrated sage among the brāhmaṇas, well known as the Brahmarṣi Vasiṣṭhadeva. He is a prominent figure in both the Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata periods. He celebrated the coronation ceremony of the Personality of Godhead Śrī Rāma. He was present also on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra. He could approach all the higher and lower planets, and his name is also connected with the history of Hiraṇyakaśipu. There was a great tension between him and Viśvāmitra, who wanted his kāmadhenu, wish-fulfilling cow. Vasiṣṭha Muni refused to spare his kāmadhenu, and for this Viśvāmitra killed his one hundred sons. As a perfect brāhmaṇa he tolerated all the taunts of Viśvāmitra. Once he tried to commit suicide on account of Viśvāmitra’s torture, but all his attempts were unsuccessful. He jumped from a hill, but the stones on which he fell became a stack of cotton, and thus he was saved. He jumped into the ocean, but the waves washed him ashore. He jumped into the river, but the river also washed him ashore. Thus all his suicide attempts were unsuccessful. He is also one of the seven ṛṣis and husband of Arundhatī, the famous star.
Indrapramada: Another celebrated ṛṣi.
Trita: One of the three sons of Prajāpati Gautama. He was the third son, and his other two brothers were known as Ekat and Dvita. All the brothers were great sages and strict followers of the principles of religion. By dint of severe penances they were promoted to Brahmaloka (the planet where Brahmājī lives). Once Trita Muni fell into a well. He was an organizing worker of many sacrifices, and as one of the great sages he also came to show respect to Bhīṣmajī at his deathbed. He was one of the seven sages in the Varuṇaloka. He hailed from the Western countries of the world. As such, most probably he belonged to the European countries. At that time the whole world was under one Vedic culture.
Gṛtsamada: One of the sages of the heavenly kingdom. He was a close friend of Indra, the King of heaven, and was as great as Bṛhaspati. He used to visit the royal assembly of Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, and he also visited the place where Bhīṣmadeva breathed his last. Sometimes he explained the glories of Lord Śiva before Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira. He was the son of Vitahavya, and he resembled in features the body of Indra. Sometimes the enemies of Indra mistook him to be Indra and arrested him. He was a great scholar of the Ṛg-veda, and thus he was highly respected by the brāhmaṇa community. He lived a life of celibacy and was powerful in every respect.
Asita: There was a king of the same name, but herein the Asita mentioned is the Asita Devala Ṛṣi, a great powerful sage of the time. He explained to his father 1,500,000 verses from the Mahābhārata. He was one of the members in the snake sacrifice of Mahārāja Janamejaya. He was also present during the coronation ceremony of Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira along with other great ṛṣis. He also gave Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira instructions while he was on the Añjana Hill. He was also one of the devotees of Lord Śiva.
Kakṣīvān: One of the sons of Gautama Muni and the father of the great sage Candakausika. He was one of the members of Parliament of Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira.
Atri: Atri Muni was a great brāhmaṇa sage and was one of the mental sons of Brahmājī. Brahmājī is so powerful that simply by thinking of a son he can have it. These sons are known as mānasa-putras. Out of seven mānasa-putras of Brahmājī and out of the seven great brāhmaṇa sages, Atri was one. In his family the great Pracetās were also born. Atri Muni had two kṣatriya sons who became kings. King Arthama is one of them. He is counted as one of the twenty-one prajāpatis. His wife’s name was Anasūyā, and he helped Mahārāja Parīkṣit in his great sacrifices.
Kauśika: One of the permanent ṛṣi members in the royal assembly of Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira. He sometimes met Lord Kṛṣṇa. There are several other sages of the same name.
Sudarśana: This wheel which is accepted by the Personality of Godhead (Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa) as His personal weapon is the most powerful weapon, greater than the brahmāstras or similar other disastrous weapons. In some of the Vedic literatures it is said that Agnideva, the fire-god, presented this weapon to Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, but factually this weapon is eternally carried by the Lord. Agnideva presented this weapon to Kṛṣṇa in the same way that Rukmiṇī was given by Mahārāja Rukma to the Lord. The Lord accepts such presentations from His devotees, even though such presentations are eternally His property. There is an elaborate description of this weapon in the Ādi-parva of the Mahābhārata. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa used this weapon to kill Śiśupāla, a rival of the Lord. He also killed Śālva by this weapon, and sometimes He wanted His friend Arjuna to use it to kill his enemies (Mahābhārata, Virāṭa-parva 56.3).