HARI KATHA SUNANE KA LAABH
(हरी कथा सुनने का लाभ )
BENEFITS OF LISTENING TO THE TALES OF HARI
Book: LEKH and UPDESH compiled in Hindi by Smt.Dhiruben Patel
Based on the Pravachan of 9-8-1938
You have been listening to the sweet leelas of Bhagwan. We can reach God through Bhakti-(devotion).In the Geeta (Ch.8 shloka 22 ) Bhagwan said –“Hey Arjun , the Supreme Paramatman, who is greater than all, is attainable through single pointed devotion.”
The meaning of Bhakti is to serve, and this cannot be done without love. This love has been divided into 3 parts –
Obligatory love, natural love and universal love.
- Going on pilgrimages, and to satsangs, serving the Guru and having faith in good people is obligatory love for we do this on the insistence of parents, even if it does not interest us.
2.From this obligatory love springs forth natural love. In this form of love we are love personified. The rivers of east and the west all merge in the ocean as it is their natural trait to meet with the ocean. A moth (parwana) has not been taught to love the light. The love between the moon and the partridge (chakor) is also natural. This natural love comes as a natural result of obligatory love, and this in turn gives birth to universal love.
- The love between the moon and the partridge is of course natural but yet the moon does not identify itself with the partridge. In universal love this is not the case, for in this kind of love the lover and the loved become one. The bhakta has the emotion of complete identity with the Lord –and when there is no difference and such emotions arise we call it –universal love.
We can call obligatory love the matric course , the natural love the intermediate course but to become a graduate we have to compulsorily study in the class of ‘universal love’
Let us now expand on obligatory love.
The other name for this is ‘Navdha Bhakti’(the 9 types of bhakti -Shreemad Bhagwad 7,5,23 )
Shravanam (श्रवनम) —listening.
Kirtanam (कीर्थनम)—praising the qualities and the names of the Lord.
Vishnu Smaranam (विष्णु स्मरनम)—remebering Vishnu.(God).
Pada Sevanam (पद सेवनम)—serving at His feet.
Archana (अर्चना) —to worship/adore Him.
Vandana (वंदना —salutations/praise/obeisance.
Dasyam-( दस्यम) To accept being His friend.
Atma Samarpan (आत्म समर्पण) —to offer own’s own Aatma(self) to the Lord.
1.Shravanam means to be ever ready to hear the stories of the Lord, just as you are listening to me now. This is the first ladder of bhakti. Sometimes just to please friends or parents we go to the satsang without really being interested. At such times the mind comes up with a lot of doubts and queries and one often says it is really of no use to go to the ‘katha’. Vyasadev himself has a fitting reply to such doubts, he says:
“During the katha the Lord enters the heart of the bhakta through the holes in the ears .This brings in purity just as sharad ritu clears up the impure water of the rainy season. As soon as the Lord enters the heart all the sins start getting purified. While listening to the katha the windows (ears) are open for the Lord to enter the heart and that is the benefit. When a thief sees an open window he is sure to enter .The Lord of the thieves enters the heart and starts removing all the vices of man.”
We can throw light on one more aspect here-during rainy season the water in the lakes and the rivers gets muddy , dirty and polluted. God like the sharad ritu immediately clears up the mind (sins).Our hearts are also impure as the muddy lakes.
Do not consider the place where there is Hari Katha either as the house of a rich man or just an ordinary place. Such a place can be considered ‘Vaikunth’(the home of Vishnu).In such places or homes the Lord comes and resides and He does tell Narad –“Hey, Narad,I do not stay in Vaikunth nor in the heart of the yogis but I reside in places where my devotees gather and sing my praises”.
Such a place becomes the home of Hari.
The following story tells us that if 3 conditions prevail that place can be greater than heaven (swarg):
(Narad Muni-नारद मुनि )
One day Narad met Indra after a very long gap and so Indra inquired about his long absence. He invited him to heaven so that with his presence all could benefit. Narad agreed to come only if —
1.Hari Katha should be flowing there, just like the flow of the Holy Ganga, as he would be ill at ease without hearing the glories of the Lord at least once a day.
To this Indra replied that there was no Hari Katha in heaven as only luxury loving people stayed there. Apsaras like Urvashi bring forth the sensual pleasures of Kamdev with their expertise.
2.Narad wanted to know if there were any devotees here who offered everything at the feet of the Lord.
Indra had a negative reply for that also
3.Narad wanted to know if at least daily yagnas were held there, but in reply Indra said that swarg was a ‘bhog bhoomi’ –a place to enjoy, where jeevas come to reap the fruit of their punyas gathered during their lifetimes. Swarg is not a ‘Karma Bhoomi’ as once the merits are exhausted the jeevas return to ‘mrityuloka’(earth).
Narad was extremely unhappy to hear all this and refused to stay in such a place for even a day!
Where the above 3 activities are there it is but natural for devotees of Hari to gather. Tumburu, Hanuman, Sanak, Sanakaadi are always present whenever and wherever Hari Katha is going on, but due to our own limitations we cannot see them.
To a skeptic this would not seem plausible and would wonder why they would not be able to see them!
When we are not able to see the ‘Jeevatma’ residing in oneself then how are we going to see these great bhaktas?
This jeevatma can make one dance like a monkey and one does not know the true self as it is very subtle and deep within the recesses of the heart .These great devotees also come as subtle beings (sukshma) to listen to Hari Katha. There is no need to be surprised to know this as it is beyond the realm of the senses.
When Lord Ram was preparing to go to Saket Dham all the people were ready to accompany Him except Mahaveer Hanuman. He folded his hands and said –“Prabhu ,I wish to live in this holy place where your katha is held in all corners.
Please bless me that I can stay here forever and if and when the katha stops I would not want to stay here any longer.”
There is another mystery regarding the presence of these great devotees at the the place of Hari Katha .Usually people are busy in family life. First they want a son ,then grand son and then great grand son! There is also an expectation of wealth, prestige and fame. Similarly Sanakaadi and other devotees also have a desire for something and that desire is to listen to Hari Katha. Hunger and thirst can be forgotten when gripped by the ecstasy of the Katha.
Parikshit was a Chakravarti Raja (a Universal King).He had the privilege of tasting all kinds of delicacies. This same person forgot all the pangs of hunger while listening to Hari Katha from Shukdev. He did not want to miss even a second of the Katha and he explains to Shukdev-“Bhagwan,I have not only given up eating grains (Anna)but also water, but even then I am not troubled by hunger and thirst. This is the result of listening to Hari Katha which is like nectar/ambrosia.
Devtas do not drink nectar but are satiated merely with the Darshan of the Lord. I am drinking the cup of nectar that is ‘Harikathamrit’ and so I am not troubled by hunger or thirst.”
This was due to the one pointedness listening by Parikshit. Can you also not enjoy the same? Surely you too can enjoy the same but only on listening to the Hari Katha with total concentration. I am sure you are experiencing this now while listening to me!
There is another doubt that can be raised. Sometime people say that we chant “Ram_Ram” or “Krishna-Krishna” all the
time and are yet not experiencing any sweetness!
Hari Katha is nectar there is no doubt about it and if we are not experiencing anything that is due to our shortcomings. To explain this let us take the example given by the great poet Harsh. He says if we were to keep a piece of sugar candy on the tongue of a person running with high fever with pitta dosha he would surely not get its sweet taste. Due to the vaasanas (desires) embedded one is not able to know the difference between the worthless and the beneficial.
Let me tell you an incident about a devi bhakt who procured a ‘chintamani’(a rare gem) which has wish fulfilling qualities. He did not realize its true value and thought of it as a mere ordinary stone. He was unhappy that even though he prayed a lot he was able to get just an ordinary stone. He thought he may as well as exchange the stone for marbles so that his children could play at least. The shopkeeper knew the true value of the chinatamani and immediately offered him 30-40 marbles in exchange. The devi bhakt was happy with the bargain and the shop keeper of course became rich and famous in no time. Sometime later the devi bhakt realized his mistake but it was rather late.
Dear brothers! Remember you too are wasting this body and birth like a worthless chintamani. You are not trying to achieve the wealth of ‘Bhagwad Prapti’ and you shall surely repent later.
A poet has commented on this—“It is really sad that I have wasted my priceless life in the matters of the world. I did not realize my worth just like that devi bhakt.”
Increase your love for the Lord and seek His refuge. Go to satsang, listen to Hari Katha.I am sure in the beginning the katha will seem bitter and not interesting but slowly and gradually the nectar shall make a difference. Once having tasted the sweet nectar you will not want to waste even a minute just like King Parikshit.
A child does not enjoy going to school in the beginning and somehow just completes his matric after feigning stomach ache many times! Later when he is really interested in higher studies the relatives might say that they cannot afford the fees, but the determination of the student persists even if has to earn money by giving tuitions, because he has realized the value of education.
A newly wed wife does not feel comfortable with her husband in the beginning but serves him with the encouragement of her in laws. This obligatory love becomes natural love. Later she automatically worries about him and is ever ready to serve him.
Some people start off their bhakti practice only on the insistence of their Guru. The interest is not there at first but slowly and gradually the interest in Hari Katha just happens. In the state of natural love the devotee identifies himself with the Lord and there is no dichotomy!
There is a katha in ‘Yog Vashishth’ . A devotee was carrying water and bilva leaf with the intent of praying to Shiva.
At that time he began to experience the height of love for Shiva and he identified himself totally with Him. He used the water and bilva leaf to do his own ‘abhishek’ saying-“Mahesh, my pranams to you. I bow to you and I bow to my own Shiv swaroop. My atma that is the same as Shiv’s, I bow to it again and again!”
A devotee loves the Lord as his own self. This love is called universal love. The rivers of knowledge (gyan) and devotion (bhakti) flow in the ‘Prayag like body’ of the devotee and the three join to become ‘Triveni’ (a confluence of three rivers).When we realize this then we do not have to die and be reborn again and again!
It is my request that all of you strive towards attaining this universal love and become graduates!