Humbling Experience of Brahma

Miracles are often used with very good effect in several stories of Bhagavata. Call it by any other name like mystery,’maya’,miracle, unforeseen event – all this is manifestation of the God principle. It is through such happenings that we feel the presence of some super human power controlling or guiding our lives. It serves many purposes. For the noble minded,it is just a reaffirmation of their faith in God and the principle of ‘dharma’ protecting us,while for the evil minded it is a grim reminder of disapproval of such conduct through consistent punishment meted out. It is also used as a powerful tool to curb the occasional pride and vanity of even evolved souls. And for mortals like us such stories serve as useful lessons in developing deep faith.

In this particular story Brahma,the creator,was at the receiving end of the all powerful display of ‘Maya'(or miracle)by the Lord Krishna.
The episode takes place in Vraja,where the Lord spent considerable time entertaining the cowherd boys and the Gopis with his childhood pranks,giving them his blissful companionship and exhibiting supernatural powers by killing demons etc.
Having killled one such ‘Asura'(Demon)by name Aghasura by entering his mouth and eventually emerging out victorious,the Lord wanted all the cowherd boys to let go and enjoy a great meal in the fields earlier occupied by the Demon Aghasura. While the celebrations were in progress,the calves (let loose)soon disappeared to a place quite far from their view. The boys were advised by the Lord,however, to continue with their meal and not get perturbed as He wished to go and fetch the calves back home.
At this point, Brahma, who had earlier witnessed the battle the Lord fought with the demon Aghasura, was so overwhelmed that he decided to try out his own tricks on the Lord with the desire of witnessing a further display of ‘Maya’ by Krishna. He carried out a vanishing trick by which the calves and the entire gang of the cowherd boys disappeared. Krishna quickly realized this was the handiwork of Brahma. And in order to ensure that no one from Vraja got worried over the disappearance, the Lord decided to counter with a more powerful miracle to outwit Brahma. Through his ‘Maya’ the Lord replicated himself as calves and cowherd boys who were identical to the ones that just disappeared. All of them(the several replicates of Krishna in different forms) returned home to the relief of all the mothers at home. This went on for an year. And during this period,quite amazingly,it was observed that there was unusually high degree of warmth,affection and love exhibited by the mothers towards the cowherd boys and the the cows to the calves. There was unusual display of excitement and joy all over the place. Even Balarama (the brother of the Lord Krishna) did not have any clue as to what caused it all.
(The sage Suka who is the narrator of this story to the king Parikshit gives a philosophical answer to this question,which is presented at the end of the story).

Ultimately, Brahma,having achieved nothing by his stupid act, decided to return the calves and the boys. Now it is Brahma’s turn to face and witness the display of miracle by the Lord. He was completely embarrassed and confused as he could not differentiate between the real calves or the cowherd boys and the ones created by Krishna.
Finding that his own Maya got completely overshadowed and paled into insignificance by comparison,Brahma felt ashamed to have tried a trick on the Lord who is after all the master and architect of all ‘Maya’. The sage Vyasa says beautifully that it was as if the darkness due to mist got totally merged with real darkness and the light of fire merged with the day light. Realizing his folly and feeling repentant,Brahma profusely apologized to the Lord for all that he did and began to sing the glories of the Lord.
As the sage Suka completes narrating this story to the King Parikshit,the latter raises an important doubt as to how such an exceptional love and affection was shown by one all to the calves and the cowherd boys in Vraja during the year (when the real calves and the boys vanished). The explanation given by the sage was indeed very profound as it echoes the verses from the ‘Brihadaranyaka’ Upanishads.
In simple terms it says that the ‘Self’ is the dearest of all and everything(the mother,the father,brothers,sisters,wealth etc)is dear because of our love for the ‘Self’. Here the ‘Self’ refers to the ‘God principle’. God,in Sanskrit is referred to as ‘Bhagwaan’. And ‘Bhagwaan’ is interpreted as the supreme person endowed with 6 qualities namely, Aiswarya(Omnipotence),Virya(Prowess),Yasas(fame),Sri(wealth,Love,
beauty,auspiciousness),Jnana(Omniscience),Vairagya(non- attachment,dispassion). It is this ‘Self’ which is the common thread running through all of us and it is this principle that sustains us all. And quite naturally,we shower our affection and love to this dearest ‘Self’ which is present in all of us to various degrees.
Let me illustrate this point further with an example. Let us try to understand why we love our mothers. Mothers are synonymous with unconditional Love,affection,care,compassion etc. It is these qualities in the mother that we are in love with. And these qualities are nothing but manifestation of the ‘Self’ itself.
Likewise,we all appreciate people who attain success and wealth(material or spiritual)because the attributes of success and wealth are again manifestation of the ‘Self’ ,which we are in love with.
Essentially it is the same ‘Self’ expressing itself as qualities of excellence through all of us to various degrees.

The story,in my opinion,brings out a couple of interesting points relevant to Hinduism:
Firstly,the replication of calves and cowherd boys by Krishna is meant to signify the Hindu belief that God is one and pervades us all.
The second insight has to do with an important aspect of divinity. That is divinity consists not merely in names and forms but mainly in the display of qualities of excellence.(‘Kalyana guna ganangal’ as they say in Tamil). And ‘Maya’ or miracle is beautifully utilized to drive home the two points.

Published in: on July 9, 2009 at 4:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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