Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Reading Guide: 5I. Narayana. Secret of God's Son

See the Reading Overview for Pradyumna and Secret of God's Son. This is the Reading Guide for Week 5-I, the second guide for Secret. In the first part (4-H), you saw how Pradyumna fought Rama to bring back Vikarna to the land of the living, hoping that Gandhari would avert the curse she pronounced on Krishna:

8. Brothers or Foes?

Shiva appears as Pradyumna and Vikarna are leaving Yamaloka, and he praises Pradyumna's victory.

Shiva recalls the story of how his son, Kartikeya, sought knowledge of the Pranava mantra, Om. He then explains the cycle of the Yugas, including the Yuga of the demon Kali, and the power of Vishnu's names.

Before Pradyumna and Vikarna can reach Hastinapura, Samba arrives, intending to kill Gandhari so that she cannot avert the curse.

When Pradyumna and Vikarna arrive, they go first to the home of Vidura, and they find Mayavati, Pradhymna's wife, there already.  She uses kumkum and flowers to perform an aarti for good luck.

Back to Samba: Gandhari prays to Krishna for deliverance.

Pradyumna and Vikarna then arrive, and he is ready to kill both of them also. Krishna's guards arrive and arrest Samba.

9. Thwarted

Gandhari is now ready to avert her earlier curse. She tries to summon her Rudraksha prayer beads, but they do not come. She invokes the punya of her past devotions and tapasya, but she realizes that all her powers are gone. She regrets that she did not see Krishna in his cosmic form, vishwarupa, as he tried to prevent the war; now, after the war, it is too late for her to save Krishna and the Gita: "I cannot reverse my folly. Alas! Your clan will die, Dwaraka will sink into the sea and mankind will lose the wisdom of Krishna’s Gita."

Maya encourages Pradyumna not to give up, and he realizes how she is a valuable helper to him, more than his other wives Rukmavati (mother of Aniruddha) and Prabhavati (the asura princess).

Maya reminds him: "As Narada tells us often, life spins around constantly like Vishnu’s chakra, bringing us both joy and sorrow."

10. Return to Dwaraka

Krishna also speaks encouraging words to Pradyumna: "I advise you to view all obstacles as a source of learning. Understand that our greatest enemies are, in fact, the doubts that live within us."

This peaceful visit provides a welcome interlude, as Krishna points out: "My advice to you all is to enjoy the abundant love that you receive and the moments of joy that you experience,’ said Krishna, smiling at the newcomers. ‘For these are what make life worthwhile and sustain you during dark times when all seems to be lost."

11. The Whirlpool

Krishna urges Pradyumna to undertake a pilgrimage, visiting the holy places or tirthas, as Arjuna did in order to acquire Shiva's weapon, the Pashupata Astra.

The priests bless Pradyumna's journey, invoking the god Pushan, and Maya marks him with a red tilaka.

All seems well, but there is an ominous vulture's egg preparing to hatch...

Pradyumna seeks a vision (darshan) of Vishnu at Badrinath. The place is also sacred to Shiva because it is Kapalamochana, "skull-liberation," when Shiva chopped off Brahma's fifth head and it stuck to his hand.

Pradyumna reflects on his past incarnations as the spoiled Prince Vama, the violent Kartavirya and his life as the god Kama, realizing how much he has learned from Bhargava (Bhargavarama, Parashurama) and from Krishna.

Pradyumna next goes to Kashi (Benares, Varanasi), where he makes an offering to Surya with the water of the Ganges: "the river was the svarga-sopana-sarani, the flowing staircase to heaven. Kasi was avimukta, never forsaken by Shiva; it was the city of Sadashiva, the eternal one." (Sada Shiva, Eternal Shiva).

A priest at the Vishvanath temple tells the story of how the gods went to Vaikunta and saw Vishnu with the Shiva linga in his heart. This is Harihara, who unites both Vishnu and Shiva, receiving both bilva leaves and lotuses from his worshipers. He wears the Kaustubha gem of Vishnu, but is also wrapped in snakes like Shiva. Both Garuda and Nandi are on his banner. He has the Vaijayanti garland of Vishnu, and Shiva's necklace of skulls.

Pradyumna then has a vision of Shiva's cave, and goes back to the river to spend the night. The next day, it rains, and a calf falls into the flooding river. Pradyumna jumps into the waters to rescue the calf; he has another supernatural vision while in the river's whirling waters, and then brings the calf back to its mother.

Next, he goes to Shiva's cave, and there he meets Shiva's son, Ganesha, who was his playmate when Pradyumna lived as Kamadeva, playing and enjoying laddoos and modakas.

12. A Playmate for Ganesha

Pradyumna is now having a vision of the past, when Vishvakarma made lingas so all the gods could worship Shiva and be liberated from Taraka Asura by Shiva's son.

Vyasa chanted the hundred names of Shiva (Shatarudriya), but Shiva did not hear any of their prayers, grieving over his dead wife Sati. Kama tried to evoke Shiva's passion, but Shiva burned him to ashes.

Little Ganesha found the ashes and made it into a playmate, Bhandasura. This asura brought terrible destruction into the world, so Lakshmi, Parvati and Rati engaged in tapasya to counter his power. The gods prayed to Adi Shakti, and her consort Maha Shambhu instructed them to conduct a great yagna, chanting the thousand names of Lalita Tripurasundari.

She restored the world, bringing Shakti armies (senas) and Bhairavas to use in battle against Bhandasura. Bhandasura scorned her as a mere woman. She defeated all the forces he sends against her, and then struck Bhandasura himself with her trident; he acknowledged her glory, and then she destroyed him.

Back to Ganesha and Pradyumna in the cave: Ganesha explains how Lalita Tripurasundari allowed the incinerated Kama to be reborn as Pradyumna.

Ganesha then warns Pradyumna about the krodha (anger) of his half-brother Samba: "When used to satisfy your own selfish desires, krodha destroys you."

Pradyumna then hears a woman's voice calling him, but he does not know who it is.

13. A Dance with God

Pradyumna flies south to the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple. There he finds the woman, Andal, Krishna's most devoted followers, and Pradyumna realizes he is traveling in time, for Andal would not be born yet for many centuries (perhaps around 800 C.E.). She prays to Kamadeva to unite her in love with Krishna, and her prayer makes Pradyumna want to return hom to Krishna.

He decides to go to Vrindavan, the village where Krishna grew up; the people are celebrating Janmashtami, Krishna's birthday, when he arrives. He sees a sacred image of Krishna-the-Butter-Thief, and realizes that he wants to have a grandson, a son of his own son Aniruddha.

Accompanied by a beautiful maiden, Pradyumna visits the ghat on the Yamuna River that makes the spot where the young Krishna defeated the water serpent Kaliya.

The maiden describes dancing with Krishna in the rasa lila, and Pradyumna realizes she is Krishna's beloved Radha. A shatkona yantra marks the spot where that sacred dance happened, expressing the power of Radha Krishna.

It is now time for Pradyumna to return home.

14. When the Dead Rose

Pradyumna feels compelled to return to Hastinapura, home of the Pandavas. They all go into the forest with Vyasa, where they see Gandhari again.

Pradyumna asks Vyasa to grant them a vision of the dead warriors to console them in their grief. In particular, Pradyumna wants to see his dead friends Abhimanyu (son of Arjuna) and Ghatotkacha (son of Bhima).

Vyasa controls Kala (Time) long enough to grant the vision and then, when the ghost disappear, the voice of Ganga consoles them: Ganga spoke to them in her eternal voice. ‘Grieve not, but cherish their love,’ she said.

Pradyumna realizes that life goes on, but he also knows that the power of Gandhari's curse has still not been averted.

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