SKANDHA XII. CHAP. 4
(From the Bhagavata Purana )
Four thousand Yugas form one day of Brahmâ. This is also the period of one Kalpa, during which fourteen Manus appear. The night of Brahmâ follows for an equally long period. The three worlds — Bhûr, Bhuvar and Svar then come to an end. This is called Naimittika Pralaya. Drawing the universe within self, Nârâyana sleeps at the time over Ananta and Brahmâ sleeps too. (Nimitta is cause. Naimittika is proceeding frome some cause. This Pralaya procedes from the sleep of Brahmâ as a cause).
When two Parârddhas of years expire, the seven subdivisions of Prakriti (Mahat, Ahankâra, and the five Tanmatras) become subject to dissolution. (The life period of Brahmâ is two Parârddhas). This is called Prâkritika Pralaya. When this dissolving factor comes in, the whole combination known as the Cosmic Egg breaks up. (As the subdivisions of Prakriti as well as the Cosmic Egg which is formed by their combination become all dissolved, this Pralaya is called Prâkritika Pralaya). With the advent of this Pralaya, there will be no rains for one hundred years. Food will disappear. People will devour one another. The Sun will draw in moisture from the seas, from the body, and from the earth, but will not give it back. The fire called Samvartaka, arising from the mouth of Shankarshana, will consume the Pâtâlas. Winds will blow for one hundred years, followed by rain for another hundred years. The universe will be covered by one sheet of water. Water will draw in earth, fire will draw in water, and so on till Pradhâna in due time will devour all the Gunas. Pradhâna is not measured by time, and it does not undergo transformation. Beginningless, endless, unmanifested, eternal, the cause of all causes, without diminution, it is beyond the reach of Gunas, the rootless root, that passes comprehension, like the void.
Jnâna is the ultimate resort of Buddhi (the perceiver or knower), the Indriyas or senses (perception, knowledge or the instruments of perception and knowledge) and the objects (things perceived and known). It is Jnâna alone that appears in this threefold form. That which is subject to perception, which in its nature is not separate from its cause, and which has both beginning and end is no real substance. The lamp, the eye and the object seen are not different from light itself. So Buddhi, the senses and the objects are not separate from the one Truth (Brahmân, for they all proceed from Brahmân), but Brahmân is quite separate from all others. Wakefulness, dream and dreamless sleep are all states of Buddhi. They are all transitory, O king. The diversity appears in Pratyagâtma (the separate self). The clouds appear and disappear in space, even as the universes appear and disappear in Brahmân. Of all forms, the common element is the only reality. But the forms seem to have an existence of their own independently of the primal element. The threads that form the cloth look separate from the cloth itself. All that appears as cause and effect is unreal, for there is interdependence, and there is both beginning and end.
The transformations can not exist without the light of Âtmâ. If they are self-manifest however, they are not in any way different from Âtmâ itself.
Do not think Âtmâ is many, (as there is Âtmâ in every being). It is ignorance to think so. The space confined in a pot and the limitless space are one and the same, even so the sun and its image in water, the air inside and outside.
Men call gold by different names, according to the different ornaments it forms. So the language of the Vedas and the language of ordinary men give different names to Bhagavân.
The cloud that is generated by the sun, that appears by the light of the sun, that is in fact rays of the sun so transformed stands between the eye and the sun. Even so Ahankâra, proceeding from Brahmân, manifested by Brahmân, even a part of Brahmân, eclipses the perception of Brahmân by Jiva.
When the cloud disappears, the eye perceives the sun. When Ahankâra, the upâdhi of Âtmâ, disappears by discrimination, then the Jiva perceives “I am Brahmân.”
When by discrimination, such as this, the tie of unreal Ahankâra is cut as under, and the unfailing perception of Âtmâ becomes fixed, it is called Âtyantika Pralaya.
(Âtyantika is from Atyanta = ati+anta, the very last. After this Pralaya, which is individual and not general, one does not return to life in the universe. It is the final liberation of a man from the limitations of life in Brahmânda).
Every day all beings, from Brahmâ downwards, undergo according to some seers of subtleties states of beginning and end.
These beginnings and ends are caused by the changes in states of all beings subject to transformation, changes that follow the flow of time. (One does not grow adult or old in one day. The change must be going on constantly. The fruit does not ripen in one day. But the process of ripening day by day is not perceptible. Water flows in a continued stream but the water particles constantly change at a given space. So the lamp burns and the flame looks one and the same though the particles that ignite do constantly change. Even so our body is not the same from day to day. There is a change going on every moment of our life. Particles of the body are rejected every day and they are replaced by new particles. There is the beginning with our new particles, and an end or Pralaya with the old particles.) This is called NITYA Pralaya. (Nitya means constant).
Pralaya is thus fourfold — Nitya, Naimittika, Prakritika and Atyantika.
Such are the stories of Bhagavat as related in the Bhâgavata Purâna.
Rishi Nârâyana first related the Purâna to Nârada, Nârada related it to Vyâsa and Vyâsa to Suka. Suta heard the Purâna from Sukadeva, when he related it to Râjâ Parikshit, and he expounded it to the assembly of Rishis at Naimisha, headed by Sounaka.
THOUGHTS ON PRALAYA.
Prakriti changes its forms and states. The body disintegrates into particles, particles into molecules, and molecules into atoms. Solid becomes liquid, liquid becomes gaseous and gaseous becomes ultra-gaseous. Life manifests itself through the endless varieties of Prakriti and becomes manifold in its manifestations. The hard mineral matter does not admit the mineral life to be expressed in any other way than by a fixed form. The more plastic vegetable matter shews vegetable life in all the activities of life and growth. Subtler matter appears in the animals and makes the sensing of the object world possible. Even sublter matter becomes the basis of brain activities. The Prâkritic basis of the mind is two-fold in its character Ahankâra and Mahat. When the mind is capable of thinking only from the standpoint of one life and one birth only, it is limited by Ahankâra matter. When that limit is overcome, mind is on the plane of Mahat. Individuality is not lost, but the individual has consciousness of all births, i.e. consciousness on the plane of the universe. Such consciousness does not normally exist in Trilokî. When a man becomes normally conscious on the plane of Mahat, he is carried to Mahar Loka and becomes a Rishi. Bhrigu is such a Rishi. The acquirement of such consciousness is the object of life evolution in our solar system. When the solar system is destroyed, it is the Manasic consciousness that alone survives. The three Lokas — Bhûr, Bhuvar and Svar are destroyed, The Prâkritic forms and states of these three Lokas become destroyed and the different states of consciousness corresponding to those forms and states finally disappear. The harvest of Manasic evolution, which is the only harvest reaped by means of one solar system is stored in Mahar Loka. But when the three lower Lokas are destroyed, the flames of dissolution reach even Mahar Loka and all the gains of a Kalpa’s evolution are transferred to the higher plane of Jana Loka. This is therefore the highest plane of our consciousness. The highest evolved beings of the previous solar system could not after Pralaya go beyond Jana Loka, and their consciousness was the consciousness of Jana Loka. When our earth was formed and when they came down in time for further evolution, they brought down their highest consciousness with them as a possibility, for it was obscured in their entrance to Trilokî. As the soul gathers spiritual strength in Svarga Loka after death, so the disembodied soul after Prayala gathers spiritual strength in Jana Loka or the Loka of Kumâras. “When the three Lokas are consumed by fire from the mouth of Sankarshana, afflicted by the heat, Bhrigu and others go to Jana Loka” III-II-XXX. The Lord of Yoga goes by means of Sushumna through the radiant path in his subtle body and at last reaches Mahar Loka, where Bhrigu and other Rishis who live for one Kalpa remain. “Then seeing the Trilokî consumed by fire from the mouth of Ananta he goes towards that supreme abode, which is adorned by the chariots of great Siddhas, and which lasts for the whole life period of Brahmâ.” (II-2-XXVI).
Those who did not reach the Manasic state, in the last Kalpa were no acquisitions to the higher planes of Brahmânda, which stand over the three mortal planes, where all experience is to be gathered. Those who developed the Manasic state were gathered to the third of the higher planes, Jana Loka, because further development was possible, nay it was a necessity, in the Trilokî that was to come. But there were others, who did not quite reach the Manasic state, but they were still on the way to acquire such state, and in fact they acquired the human form. They were also preserved to carry out a certain purpose in the life evolution of the coming Kalpa which will be shortly mentioned. How they were preserved, the Purânas do not speak of. They became the Pitris of the present Kalpa. The Pitris reached different states of development and were therefore classed under seven heads. Some of them had developed the fire in them and some were without the fire. “Agnishvatta, Barhishad, Sōmapa, and Ajyapa are Pitris with fire; the others are without fire. They were all wedded to Svadha, the daughter of Daksha.” IV-1-III.
The mention of the word “fire” requires a little explanation. The Upanishads say that the three mortal Lokas of form Bhûr, Bhuvar and Svar are the transformations of “Tejobanna” i.e. of fire, water and earth. The other two elements do not enter into the constitution of forms. The element earth predominates on the plane of Bhûr or the material plane. Water is supreme on Bhuvar or the Astral plane. Our Kamic tendencies proceed from the presence of water in us. Fire is the element of Svarga or the Mental plane. Fire devas are therefore the highest devas of Trilokî. The forty-nine forms of fire are therefore so many forms of consciousness. Some of the Pitris developed fire in them, i.e. they developed the principle of mind in them, in however rudimental a form it might be.
Devas and Rishis were also preserved. Jana Loka is the Loka of Kumâras. We shall therefore call the souls preserved in Jana Loka as Kumâras, or Kumaric souls.
Commenting on the fourth sloka, twelfth chapter, Third Skandha, Śridhara says: — “Sanaka and others are not created in every Kalpa. The mention of their creation has reference to the Brahmâ Kalpa, i.e. the first Kalpa. In fact the objects of Mukhya creation and others are brought into existence in every Kalpa. Sanaka and others are only created in the Brahmâ Kalpa and they follow the other Kalpas.” The Mukhya creation has reference to chapter 10, Skandha III. It is the same as Urdha Srotas (p. 25). Śridhara means to say that plants, animals and men are only created in every Kalpa.
The Kumaric souls of the last Kalpa that went to Jana Loka have to play the most prominent part in the present Kalpa and they are the heroes of our solar system. Their stay at Jana Loka was only a fitting preparation for the most responsible work of the present Kalpa. The Íshvara of our system, addressing Puranjana, said: — “Wishing to have an abode, drawn to earthly enjoyments, thou didst leave me. But, o great one, both I and thou were swans (Hansa) and friends in the Manas Lake. We dwelt there without any abode, for one thousand years.” IV. 28 LIV. “One thousand years” is indicative of Pralaya, which lasts for one thousand yuga cycles. In Pralaya, the kumaric soul had no body i.e. no abode. The body separates Jiva from Íshvara. Without the impediment, the obstacle of the body, without any obscuring agency, the Jiva meets Íshvara face to face in Jana Loka, and being both essentially alike become friends. Nârada says, esoterically the Mânasa Laka is the heart and Hansa means the pure. But in Pralaya, the heart of the Jiva is in Jana Loka, which is the Mânasa or mental Lake. This friendly union of Jiva and Íshvara gives all the promise of the future for the Jiva.
What is not preserved in Naimittika Pralaya, the forms of the past kalpa, are all borne in the mind of Brahmâ as images. It is the mind of Brahmâ that reproduces the forms of the previous creation. The image of all that was remains in the mind of Brahmâ. Creation in Brahmâ Kalpa is not the same as creation in the succeeding Kalpas. In Brahmâ Kalpa, all the seven Lokas, and the dwellers of all the planes are created. In the succeeding Kalpas, the three Lokas and their dwellers only are created.
The Naimittika Pralaya comes on, as Brahmâ sleeps.
This Pralaya corresponds to our physical death. When we die, the body is destroyed. Just as when the universe bodied Brahmâ goes to sleep, His Trilokî body is destroyed. Men go after death first to Bhuvar Loka, and then to Svarga Loka. At Pralaya, the Mânasika Jivas first go to Mahar Loka and then to Jana Loka.
The Naimittika Pralaya affords the greatest relief to Jivas. It makes up for all the ups and downs of manifested life, for all miseries, all sorrows, all sufferings and all disappointments. Íshvara can do more for Jivas in Pralaya, than in manifestation. He gives company to those, who by their advancement reach Jana Loka, There is the Íshvara of our system or Brahmânda and there is the Íshvara of many systems.
The Íshvara of many systems, “Bhagavân Himself” is the First Purusha. He is the manifestor of the Tatvas, the first Principles, the Karan or causal creation, which enter into the constitution of all the solar systems or Brahmândas. When He wishes to become many, to appear through many manifestations, to bring up all unto Himself and His own state, through œons and œons of cosmic manifestation, though it might be, the Tatvas start forth into activity and form an ocean by themselves. Many solar systems are evolved out of this Karan Samudra or the ocean of the causes and each system gets its Íshvara, the Second Purusha. That Second Purusha becomes three fold — Brahmâ, Vishnu and Śiva, for the Creation, Preservation and Dissolution of His own Universe. He is Virât Purusha or the universe bodied, Nârâyana seated on the waters of Karana Samudra, and Sahasra Sirsha Purusha or the thousand headed Purusha of the Upanishads. “All this, the past, present and future is this Purusha. The universe is pervaded by Him As Prana (i.e. the sun, for Prana is the solar deity according to the Sruti. Śridhara) by illumining his own circle illumines the outside as well, so Purusha by illumining his Virât body illumines the inside and outside of this Brahmânda as well. I (Brahmâ) create by His direction, Śiva destroys, under His control, as Vishnu, He preserves this universe He is the primal Avatâra.” II. 6.
“First of all, Bhagavân took form as Purusha for the creation of the Lokas form made by Mahat and others, having 16 parts. (Mahat and others — Mahat, Ahankâra, and the Tanmatras. 16 parts the eleven Indriyas and the 5 elements. Though this is not the form of Bhagavân meaning the First Purusha still for the Upâsanâ in Virât form of the Virât Purusha who indwells all Jivas, this is given. Śridhara). (In the Padma Kalpa), Brahmâ, the Lord of Prajâpatis, appeared in the lotus that rose out of the navel of (this Purusha), who while lying down on the ocean, spread the sleep of Samâdhi all round. The Lokas are but parts of His body. His form is pure and intensified Satva. The Yogins perceive Him by their vision of wisdom, as one looking wonderful with a thousand feet, thighs, hands and mouths, with a thousand heads, ears, eyes and noses, glittering with a thousand crowns, and ornaments. This (Virât Purusha) is the immutable seed and final resort of the many Avatâras. Brahmâ is His part. Marichi and other Prajâpatis are parts of Brahmâ. So through parts of His part, Devas, animals and men are created. (He does not appear and disappear like other Avatâras. He is the end not only of the Avatâras, but of all beings. Śridhara.)” I-3.
Brahmâ appeared in the lotus, it is said, in the last Kalpa, which from this event is named Pâdma Kalpa. How Brahmâ appeared out of Nârâyana in the previous Kalpas is not given. That he appeared in our Kalpa in the same way as in the last Kalpa is evident, as no difference is noted. Brahmâ took up the creation, which was two-fold — direct or Mânasa and indirect or through Prajâpatis and Manu. The creation or bringing into manifestation of those that had been preserved at Pralaya is direct or Mânasa. The mind born sons of Brahmâ took up positions in the universe of duty and responsibility and in this Kalpa they have not to look to themselves, but to others. Their own evolution is not a matter of their concern. The innumerable Monads were created through Manu and the real history of the Kalpa is the history of their evolution.
First there was the process of involution. There was no form and forms had to be first brought forth. Limitation after limitation had to the imposed, to chain life in forms. For when set forms were arrived at with set organs, Jivas could be trusted with independent action.
No energy is spent in vain in the economy of the universe. Each monadic flow as it appeared in the universe could he carried on to a certain stage, by one common guiding influence. This requires a little explanation.
Each particle of each Tatva is alive. The Tatvic life is the life of the first Purusha. But the particles combine, and the power of combination proceeds from the life of the second Purusha, the Íshvara of our system. Every combination however large has the life of Íshvara in it and it is that life which keeps up the combination. Each combination for the time being has its ruler, who is the viceroy of Íshvara, and who is called the Monad of that combination. Monad is Jivâtma or Jiva Âtmâ or Âtmâ as limited by every Jiva.
The combination transforms, but the Monad remains constant. The vegetable becomes animal, and the animal becomes man, but one Monad runs through all these transformations.
By rulership over higher and higher combinations the Monad or Jivâtma, ultimately approaches the state of Íshvara Himself and that is the goal of evolution in this universe.
Whenever a combination is formed, there is one life governing that combination — the life of the ruler of that combination. Ail other lives have to surrender themselves completely and entirely to that one life. This is the law and we have to bow down our heads to the inevitable. There is life in every cell that composes the human body. But the cell lives are all subordinated to the life of the man, the Jivâtma ruling the combination that forms the man. So long as the cell is attached to the human combination, it has no independence whatsoever. And this is to the immense benefit of the cells themselves. They receive the impress of souls much more evolved than their own and are able to evolve themselves at a much more rapid rate, than if they had been left to themselves. This is the law of giving and taking, the law of sacrifice, the Yajna which is the essence of creation. And even as men approach the state of Íshvara, they have to surrender themselves completely to Him and to merge themselves in His existence.
The Jivic or Monadic flow first appears on the plane of Svarga, it comes down to Bhûvar and then to Bhûr, to appear finally in the mineral Kingdom of our Earth. This process of coming down does not require separate guidance for separate combinations. The downward flow is homogeneous. It is carried on under the guidance of the Prajâpatis. It is all involution during this process taking in grosser and grosser matter and not rejecting anything. Rudra had no work to do during the earliest stages of monadic life. The mineral Kingdom appeared and the Himalayan chain reared up its head. The legend says the sons of Himalaya had wings on and they could move about but the Devas cut down their wings and they became fixed. No doubt the mineral Kingdom hardened and became immobile in time. The immobility of the mineral Kingdom, the final reach of matter in its downward course was the turning point in the life history of Jivas. Their foetal stage was over and they were now born into the Kalpa, as it were.
There was need for separation now, for the rejection of particles and the drawing in of new ones, and Durga appeared as the daughter of Himalaya.
She became wedded to Śiva once more and since then there was change continually going on in all forms of life, that evolved out of the mineral Kingdom. There was continual adjustment of external and internal conditions, called life. The vegetable appeared, the animal appeared and the man appeared. The life process means continual transformation. Forms changed and dissolved. Change is continually going on all round and is called Nitya Pralaya.
During the transformation that goes on, combinations are guided by rulers, who are the Pitris. They lead the combinations on till the human form is reached. When the human form is reached each combination is a man. The highest of the Pitris can give only germinal Manas. When the Pitris give to the combination, all that they could give, their work is over, for this Kalpa.
Then come the Kumaric souls, the Puranjanas from the Mânasa Laka (P. 89). They find the abode ready made and leaving their friend and companion they enter their chosen abodes. There are nine gate ways in that abode, and every enjoyment reaches Puranjana through those gate ways. He becomes mad in the pursuit of enjoyments. He forgets himself. He forgets his friend the eternal companion of Jiva. He identifies himself with the abode. He thinks that he is inseparable from that abode. So he goes on and on hopelessly in his course of riotous joy and the Friend whom he forgets gives him rebuff for every joy that he meets. The rebuffs at last make him a little attentive. The friend then speaks through the Vedas, the Smritis through sages and at last He comes down Himself as an Avatâra.
The Eternal Friend first allows Puranjana to run on in the midst of enjoyments, just as he likes. If he goes beyond the limits of temperance and moderation he gets some unpleasant experience. If he does something wrong, he feels the painful consequence. The sting of pain makes Puranjana ponder over what he does. He registers the pleasurable and painful experiences and reasons about the causes and effects. He tries to know what is right and what is wrong.
With the power of discrimination in its infancy, with the “enjoyment” nature or the self-seeking Asuric element too strong in him, Puranjana, the Kumaric soul, is helpless. He is drifted away, though sometimes much against his will.
The Friend comes to the rescue. The Devas and Asuras combine and with their joint efforts, the ocean of Milk is churned, and the Goddess of Evolution, the Energy of Vishnu, makes Her divine appearance in our universe. The Devas become more than a match for the Asuras. The Vaivasvata Manvantara steps in, the Manvantara teeming with the fate of man and of the universe. Íshvara, the eternal friend of Puranjana, is most busy in the Vaivasvata Manvantara. Every effort is made to raise humanity to a higher level and to open out all the possibilities of man.
First, the enjoyments of Svarga are held out before the rising vision of men as an allurement. Man admires those enjoyments and makes every effort to attain them. The Vedic sacrifice is revealed to Pururavas, who becomes mad after Urvasi, the nymph of Svarga. Later on, the heavenly cow, Surabhi, attracts Visvâmitra. And he becomes the chief actor in the promulgation of Vedic sacrifice. In the firmness of resolve, in the bold and determined pursuit of objects, and in the intolerance of inferiority, Visvâmitra stands prominently out as an example to humanity, for all ages to come and it is meet and proper that in the next Manvantara, he will act as one of the seven sages guiding the affairs of the universe.
The Karma Kânda of the Vedas is a monument of Visvamitara’s gigantic efforts for the good of humanity. Íshvara made revelations. He prompted the sages.
If the Karma Kânda holds out the allurements of Svarga life, it lays down rules and restrictions at the same time, that regulate life and beget temperance and moderation. Meritorious acts are enjoined and acts that retard evolution are prohibited. Men do what is good and avoid what is evil, that they may attain heavenly things. They do what is right and shun what is wrong, not because that is the Law, the divine will, but because it gives them some reward. All the same, the mind is trained, the man curbed and regulated. The bitter pill is taken and if the child thinks that it is for the sweetmeat he is only mistaken. When the child grows he knows, that he takes the bitter pill as it is the law of nature that he should do so. Do what is right, because that is the law. Shun what is wrong, because it is against the law. We are all carried forward by the law, and we must willingly give ourselves up to that law. When we do that, we partake ourselves of divine life. The ground had to be prepared for further teachings.
Events in Svarga foreshadow and forestall events that are to transpire on the earth. The Devas and Asuras by their mutual fight in Svarga bring about a state of things which casts its shadow on the earth below.
Two great events happened in Svarga the killing of Vritra, and the deposition of Bali.
Vritra, though an Asura was a votary of Sankarshana, the Shankara aspect of Vishnu. Vritra was great in all respects and his wisdom extracted the admiration of Indra. But he represented the idea of personal self in Jiva, which is so strong-rooted, and which is the hardest thing to over come. Vritra was killed by a weapon, which is no other than the most willing and ready sacrifice of personal self by Dadhîchi.
Bali, the Asura king, ungrudgingly gave all that he had to Vâmana. The Asura had become so great both in intellect and in spirituality, that there was no question of killing him or of his being overpowered by the Devas. The Asuras and Devas both combined to make Svarga, the store-house of spiritual life. The Asuras by their willing surrender permitted the Devas to have entire hold of Svarga. By this sacrifice, they established their indisputable right to Svarga, in the broad dispensation of providence and in the succeeding Manvantara, Bali is to become the Indra of the Devas.
Vâmana was the same as Lord Sri Krishna on our earth. If diplomacy had succeeded so easily below as above, if the Asura chiefs on earth had behaved as splendidly as Bali in Svarga, the horrors and heartrending scenes of Kurukshetra could have been avoided. The same result was however brought about in Svarga as it was subsequently brought about on the Earth. The actor was the same, the diplomacy was the same, only the result of diplomacy was different on the different planes. The deposition of Bali was bloodless while the deposition of Duryodhana was a bloody one.
Coming down to Earth let us see how events in Svarga were followed up on the terrestrial plane.
Two great human Avatâras came, one the ideal and the other the apostle of unselfishness. But we must take a running survey of the Avatâras as a whole.
Vishnu appeared on Earth Himself, through His direct manifestations called Avatâras. Ten of them have been specially picked out as Great Avatâras, though no specification has been made in the Bhâgavata Purâna.
There were three great Asuric movements in this Kalpa, caused by the three successive incarnations of Jaya and Vijaya. And these gave our four great Avatâras.
Hiranyâksha was killed by Varaha, Hiranyakasipu was killed by Nrisinha. Râvana and Kumbhakarna were killed by Râma. Sisupâla and Dantavakra were killed by Sri Krishna. Kûrma was a great Avatâra as He prepared the way for the spiritual regeneration of the universe, by the Churning of the ocean of Milk.
Vâmana was a great Avatâra as He reclaimed the Trilokî from the Asuras.
Parasurâma and Buddha did work, which revolutionised the whole humanity.
Kalki will give the final blow to the Asuric element in us.
Matsya is important with reference to our own Manvantara. Every Manvantara is followed by a deluge, which destroys the existing continents and swallows up all living beings. When the last Manvantara was over, our Manu saved the germs of creation with the help of Matsya. Opinion is divided as to whether there is Pralaya after every Manvantara. The Bhâgavata Purâna says when there was deluge (sanplava) following the Chakshusha Manvantara, Vishnu assumed the form of Matsya. Commenting on this, Śridhara says there is no Pralaya at the end of a Manvantara. There may not be such a Pralaya at the end of a Manvantara as happens at the end of a Kalpa. But other Purânas speak of some sort of Pralaya on the expiry of every Manvantara. Sûrya Siddhanta, the renowned work on Astronomy, also says: — “There is a period called Sandhi (the meet between two Manvantaras) measured by the period of one Satya Yuga, followed by another Manvantara. There is deluge by water then.”
The Avatâras of Vishnu infuse more and more of Satva into men, that they may become Satvika. Increasing Satva put down Rajas and Tamas in man and makes him divine.
But of all these Avatâras two stand out most prominently one the ideal and the other the apostle of unselfishness. The brightest luminary of the solar line held out in His life, an example of unselfishness, of purity of character and of scrupulous regard to duty, an example that is the admiration of all people in all ages, as perfect as the limits of humanity will allow and as elevated as the loftiest ideal of human character may be, unsurpassed in its pathetic grandeur, unrivalled in the straight forward pursuit of duty along a most thorny and uneven path. The divine founder of Dvârakâ of the Lunar line asserted Himself as the supreme Íshvara, He took up the reins of Trilokî in His own hands, the Devas installed Him as the king of Svarga or Govinda, and men on earth had now to look up to Him only and not to the Devas for their guidance. For men had now to pass the limits of Trilokî, and the friend of Puranjana came down Himself to hold out the torch of divine light. Sri Krishna laid down the triple path of Karma, Bhakti and Jnâna, and shewed the relative importance of each. His teachings are perfect, thorough and exhaustive. Ever since His manifestation, those teachings have been re-iterated in a thousand forms, they have been adapted to different powers of understanding and all the modern scriptures of Hinduism have grown up, round the central point of those teachings. Men had no longer to complain of teachings. They had to follow those teachings now and to live up to them. They had to begin with unselfishness, and end with liberation. New vistas opened out before the growing spiritual vision of men, vistas of new worlds, new planes, of masters of Yoga and wisdom, forming every link between man and Íshvara. Possibilities became realities. Liberation was no longer a word of the lips.
Now liberation is a relative term. First there may be liberation from the bonds of Trilokî only. Or it may be from the limitations of Janaloka which was the highest possibility with which the Jiva started. Or it may be liberation from the bonds of the Brahmânda itself. The last liberation is again two fold in its character. There may be liberation from all concrete things and all ideas, including the idea of Íshvara Himself or the liberation may lead to the great Íshvara from whom many solar systems proceed. Mukti is not only liberation from bondage. It is also something more. It is an acquisition, Starting from the plane of Jana Loka, the Kumaric soul acquires higher and higher possibilities. He may transcend Jana Loka. He may transcend even the Satya Loka. But passage across Satya Loka is not easy in this Kalpa. Mukti in its fullest and highest sense means freedom from all limitations caused by Prakriti, caused by Time and Space and identification with Brahmân, who is absolute bliss, absolute consciousness and absolute existence beyond the limits of Time and Space. This is called Atyantika Pralaya or absolute dissolution. But this Mukti lean never be obtained till all the duties of a man are performed. These duties are nothing else but sacrifices or Yajna. Man must perform each one of his duties he must perform all that he owes to himself, to all other beings, and last of all the highest duty he owes to the Íshvara of the Universe the Lord of Sacrifice, Yajnesvara Himself, “Adhiyajna am I, here in the body, best of living beings.”
The Bhâgavatas do not care to go beyond the Yajna Purusha, They do not care to leave the life of sacrifice, as long as their Íshvara stands out as the embodiment of all sacrifice.
“Salutation to Thee, Bhagavân, let me meditate on Vâsudeva. Salutations to Pradyumna, Aniruddha and to Sankarshana. He who, by knowing these mûrtis in the mûrtiless, whose only mûtrti is mantra makes offerings to Yajna Purusha, is the complete seer.” I. 5. 37 “When the Indriyas,” said Kapila, “that manifest the objects of external and internal perception, become trained by the performance of Vedic Karma, their spontaneous Vritti (or function) in a man of concentrated mind is in Satva which is the same as Vishnu. This Vritti which is void of all selfishness is Bhakti in Bhagavâna. It is superior to Mukti. It instantly destroys the Kosha, as the digestive fire consumes food. The devoted have no yearning for that Mukti which makes the Jiva one with Me. But they prefer ever to talk with each other about Me, to exert themselves for My sake and ever to meditate on me. Mukti comes to them unasked. My Vibhutis, the eight Siddhis, and all the glory of the highest Lokas are theirs though they want them not. I am their Teacher, their Friend, their companion, their all. So even Kala can not destroy them.”
Again, “The devoted spurn Salokya, Sarshti, Samipya, Sarupya and Sayujya, even when offered to them and they prefer to serve Bhagavân ever and ever. Compassion and friendliness to all beings are the essential qualifications of the devoted. They must be humble respectful and self controlled. They must pass their days in hearing and reciting the glory of Bhagavân.” Kapila makes the following classification as to the final destiny of men (p. 46):
1. Those who selfishly perform their Dharma and worship Devas and Pitris go to Sōma Loka, and after partaking of Sōma, they are again re-born. Their Lokas are destroyed with the daily Pralaya of Brahmâ.
2. The worshippers of Hiranya-garbha (Brahmâ) reach Brahmâ Loka or Satya Loka and there wait for two Parârddhas i.e. for the life time of Brahmâ and upon the final dissolution of the Brahmânda, they enter with Hiranya-garbha, the Eternal Supreme Purusha, who is supreme Bliss and their sense of individuality becomes then lost.
3. “Brahmâ with Marichi and other Rishis, with Kumâras and other lords of Yoga, and with Siddhas who are leaders of Yoga, do by their unselfish action, and at the same time the retention of their individuality, and their vision of separateness reach Saguna Brahmâ or the Second Purusha, who is the Íshvara of our system. And when Kala, as an aspect of Íshvara, causes a disturbance in the Gunas on the approach of the creative period they are born again just as they had been before. (They are born because of their individuality and their vision of separateness. They are born in the same state on account of their non-attachment and their unselfishness. Śridhara). As long as the Trilokî lasts, they enjoy all the divine things of Satya Loka, according to their Karma. (And when the Trilokî is destroyed, they attain the Saguna Purusha, who is First Avatâra. Śridhara). When the Gunas are disturbed again they come back (i.e. they revert to their former posts respectively. Śridhara)” III 32 xii-xv.
4. Those who unselfishly perform their duties and give themselves up entirely to the Supreme Purusha void of all attachment and all egoism, calm, tranquil and pure in the mind go through the gateway of the Sun to the all pervading Purusha, the Lord of all, the material and efficient cause of all this.
Commenting on II 2 xxviii, Śridhara says: — “There are three courses for those that go to Brahmâ Loka. Those who go by the excellence of their merits, become holders of responsible positions in the next Kalpa, according to their respective merits. Those who go there by worshipping Hiranya-garbha and others, become liberated along with Brahmâ. Those who are worshippers of Bhagavân, pierce the Brahmânda at will and reach the State of Vishnu.”
The classification is the same as made by Kapila.
Hiranya-garbha Upâsanâ, which was prevalent at one time is now out of use. It was the worship of the Life aspect of Íshvara, as manifested in the Solar system. There is a higher duty, the highest duty of a Jiva manifested in this universe, to realise that this universe itself is a part of a big universe, and there is Íshvara of that big universe Bhagavân Himself and to surrender one self completely up to Him in pure love and devotion. He will not then be of this universe, but he will be of many universes, he will transcend the limits of all the seven planes of our system at will. What his work then will be, it is for Bhagavân to say not for him. The work of Bhagavân is his work, the life of Bhagavân is his life. He becomes a Bhâgavata. The Gopis are ideal Bhâgavatas and the Vrindâvana Lilâ is the consummation on this earth of the relation of a Bhâgavata with Bhagavân. This to all Bhaktas is the highest form of Mukti.
To the Bhakta, there is no Mukti, without the universe and the lord of universe.
Forget the universe, forget every thing, only meditate on the eternal unchanging element in you, be fixed in that and that only and you attain Atyantika Pralaya. (Excerpts from “A study of the Bhagavata Purana)
PEACE BE TO ALL