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Dialogue XIV

Bhaktha: Swami, the inner meaning of the Mahabharatha and the Ramayana which You explained is really very interesting. If only one probes deeply, what else is there in them? That kind of Mahabharatha and Ramayana is taking place in every heart, through the action and interaction of Manas, Chittam, and Buddhi. You said that the Bhagavatham is also occurring in the same manner. If you will kindly explain how that is happening, we can, after knowing its inner meaning also, start following the 'subtle' Ramayana and Mahabharatha and Bhagavatham, all three. So please tell me about the Bhagavatham.
Swami: Well, the Bhagavatham is not like the other two; it has no qualities and no form! It deals with the Atma which is beyond and behind the qualities or Gunas, senses or Indriyas, the Manas and the Chittam; it deals with the powers and prowess of the Atma; and its apparent activities or Leelas. The Bhagavatham contains the stories of the incarnations of that which is the witness of everything.

Bhaktha: What are the forms which that witness assumed? Why did He assume those forms?
Swami: Really speaking, He is all forms, Sarvaswarupee. There is no limit to the number or nature of His forms. Still, if something must be said in conformity with what has happened, Brahma, Vishnu, Maheswara, Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Vamana, Narasimha, Rama, and Krishna, these are Its incarnations. In order to transact the creation, the preservation and the destruction of the world, and to punish the wicked and protect the good, He assumes Himself the form He designs as best at the time and for the purpose He has set before Himself. When that purpose is realised, He is as before, the witness, the Atmarupa.

Bhaktha: Rama and Krishna also punished the wicked and protected the good, isn't it, Swami? Then, how do you say that in the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha, there is the Gunaswarupa, while in the Bhagavatham there is no Gunaswarupa?
Swami: You see, Gunas have a beginning and an end; the Atma has neither. Rama and Krishna too have no qualities, essentially. They have demonstrated how, being above Gunas, it is possible to keep all Gunas under control. The Ramayana and the Mahabharatha stories have an end, isn't it? In that sense, the Bhagavatham has no end. It speaks of the Lord who has no beginning or end. It tells of the forms, which the Lord wore in the context of the age, the time and the object. The other two on the hand, teach the correct policies to be followed in this false, evanescent world and urge men to follow Sathya, Dharma, Santhi and Prema. Do you understand?

Bhaktha: Then, the Bhagavatham is of no practical use to us, so to say!
Swami: What! It is the Bhagavatham that is of most use to the Sadhakas. It alone explains the real secret of the Lord, His real glory and His real path! The Ramayana and the Mahabharatha endeavour to some extent to uplift the common man, the ordinary man, by moral teaching and example. They show how man can deserve the Lord's grace. But those who seek to know the nature of the Atma and of Paramathma should study, more than anything else, the Bhagavatham.

Bhaktha: Swami, what is the relation between Bhagavantha, Bhagavatha and the Bhaktha?
Swami: The relationship between the Maharaja, the Yuvaraja and the Kumararaja! Bhagavantha or the Lord is the Maharaja, of course; the Bhagavatha is second in rank because it has come from the Lord as a derivative, with the status of Yuvaraja; the Kumararaja is dependent on both these and so is the Bhaktha. The status of Kumararaja is not an ordinary one, he merits the position of the Maharaja. The rest are inferior to these three. Those who do not rise up to the status of Bhaktha or Kumararaja have no access to the court of Maharaja.

Bhaktha: Then, Swami, the Yogis, the Jnanis, the ascetics, do these not deserve that position?
Swami: Whoever he may be, without Bhakthi and the love of the higher truth, how can any one become a Yogi, or a Jnani or an ascetic? They too have Bhakthi in an equal measure. Take Laddu, Jilebi, Mysore Pak and number of other sweets; in each of them, as the common cause of sweetness, there must be the one article, sugar, isn't it? How else can they be made? So also, in these three paths, the sweetness of the Lord's name or Bhakthi is an ingredient. Without it, the very names of these objects become absurd!

Bhaktha: Another point, Swami! Can one approach the presence of the Lord, only if he has faith in the Lord and only if with that faith he performs Japa, Dhyana, Bhajana and Puja? That is to say, is it not possible to attain that position through the path of truth, the path of Dharma, the path of Prema, the path of service to others?
Swami: Well, how can the qualities you mention originate without the fear of sin and the fear of God? Are these paths and the qualifications needed for them, ordinary and common? No. They are the doors to the inner apartment of the Lord. Those that follow those paths can easily reach the precincts of the Lord. But yet, there is a difference between relatives and friends. Those who develop only these qualities are friends; but those who practise them along with devotion to the name and form, become relatives, that is the difference. The meditation on the name and the Rupa helps to strengthen the Gunas also. Without that foundation, the Gunas cannot be strong and firm and pure. The Lord's name and the Lord's Rupa remove the dross from the qualities of man.

Bhaktha: But the Bhaktha and the man with good qualities, both attain the same place, isn't it, Swami?
Swami: Certainly. The merely good man becomes a candidate who deserves the place; the good man who has Bhakthi has a tittle to the place, he cannot be passed over.

Bhaktha: Swami, there are many people who are active, doing various things under the slogan, "The service of man is the service of God"; do their deeds entitle them to the place?
Swami: Why do you ask so? Certainly; for those that do service with that attitude. But it is very hard to get that real feeling. Considering others as men, simply saying that 'serving them is to serve God', is not sincerity. The mind will then run in two channels. Grasp the glory of Madhava fully; understand that Madhava is in every Manava; believe that service to Manava or man is serving Madhava only; then your actions will certainly entitle you to the place. What greater qualification is needed than that? Instead, if 'service' is done for name and honour and fame, and if there is a craving in the mind for the fruits of one's actions, then the statement, "Service to man is service to God" has no meaning, nor will one get the result expected.

Bhaktha: It is very interesting, Swami! Speaking about the Bhagavatham evoked many holy ideas and morals today. So if one delves into It, what invaluable truths will emanate! I am indeed blessed, this day.
Swami: Have you understood it all? Bhagavatham is the story of the beginningless, the ending-less Atma. It is in both forms, subtle and gross. It is subtler than the subtlest; grosser than the grossest. It has no limit or measure. The Ramayana and the Mahabharatha are Ithihasas, historical epics. The Bhagavatham is different; it is the description of the Atma; it instructs in the Path of Bhakthi. It can never end, nor has it ever a "Finis". This is the significance of the Bhagavatham.