The All Munificent Purushottama - Part 13

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

This is in continuation of the previous offering titled, "The All Munificient Purushottama" wherein we were meditating on the various incarnations of the Lord and how specifically the Lord manifested His quality of being a Purushottama.

Vyasadeva as Purushottama: Vyasadeva is an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and He divided the Vedas into four and also wrote the Mahabharata. From the Mahabharata we hear that Vyasadeva meditated for a period of 100 years and He prayed for a son. Lord Shiva personally appeared before Vyasadeva and blessed Him with a son who will be a realized soul. And as per the blessing, Sukadeva Goswami was born as son of Vyasadeva. When a son is born, the father will perform the upanayana samskara (sacred thread ceremony), instruct the Gayatri mantra and initiate him in study of the Vedas. But Sukadeva being a liberated soul, as soon as he was born, he started walking naked towards the forest. And Vyasadeva out of great affection for His son, started running behind him and cried for him “Putra (O son)”. His voice of separation was echoed by the trees in the forest. But Sukadeva did not turn or reply to Vyasadeva.

While Śrī Vyāsadeva was following his son, on the way there was a lake and beautiful young damsels bathing naked. When Sukadeva Goswami (who was naked) crossed the lake, they did not cover themselves. But when Vyasadeva crossed the lake following His son, those damsels covered their bodies with cloth, although Śrī Vyāsadeva himself was not naked. Vyasadeva enquired the girls , “My son is very young and he was going naked. You did not cover yourself at that time. But I’m the age of your father. But you are now covering yourself now. What is the reason for this?”. The girls replied, “Your son never asked us like this. Only you are asking such questions. This is the reason we covered ourselves when You walk by.  Your son is a self realized soul and does not see difference between man and woman. He sees only the spirit soul and with bodies as a dress. That’s why we covered ourselves. But You are a householder and You should differentiate between man and woman. So we covered ourselves.” This pastime is beautifully summarized in the verse 1.4.5 of Srimad Bhagavatam. Srila Prabhupada explains in the purport of this verse as “Because Śukadeva Gosvāmī was transcendental to sex relations, he appeared very innocent. The ladies, by their special qualifications, could sense this at once, and therefore they were not very concerned about him. But when his father passed, the ladies quickly dressed.” 

Though Vedavyasa satisfied in Himself and is transcendental to the material desires and sexual attraction, He did penance and prayed to Lord Siva for a son like a normal father because He wanted a son who will spread the message of Srimad Bhagavatam (which He will write in future). Only a self realized soul like Sukadeva Goswami can spread the message of Bhagavatam and enlighten the masses and hence He prayed for a son who will be a realized soul. He ran after Sukadeva Goswami and cried for him, not because Sukadeva was His son but because he was self realized and a future speaker of Srimad Bhagavatam. So to give glory to Sukadeva Goswami, Vyasadeva acted as a normal father and householder. Also He did this to teach others that one should not pretend to be self realized as long as he can differentiate between man and woman. Because of the above pastime, Sukadeva Goswami is glorified by reciting the following sloka in beginning of all Bhagavatam discourses till today. Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.2

yaṁ pravrajantam anupetam apeta-kṛtyaṁ
dvaipāyano viraha-kātara ājuhāva
putreti tan-mayatayā taravo ’bhinedus
taṁ sarva-bhūta-hṛdayaṁ munim ānato ’smi

Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī said: Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto that great sage [Śukadeva Gosvāmī] who can enter the hearts of all. When he went away to take up the renounced order of life [sannyāsa], leaving home without undergoing reformation by the sacred thread or the ceremonies observed by the higher castes, his father, Vyāsadeva, fearing separation from him, cried out, “O my son!” Indeed, only the trees, which were absorbed in the same feelings of separation, echoed in response to the begrieved father.

Srila Prabhupada continues in the commentary of SB 1.4.5 “Śrīla Vyāsadeva was also in the transcendental stage, but because he was in the householder’s life, he did not pretend to be a liberated soul, as a matter of custom.” The Skanda purana gives the reason behind actions of Vyasadeva as follows.

nitya triptah parānando yo avyayah parameshvarah
yasya putra palam naiva yat jn
ātam jagad idrisham
sa putr
ārtham tapas tepe vyāso rudrasya cha ishvarah
ātarye darshayām āsa viyoge loukIkam harih

Vyasadeva who is inexhaustible is eternally satisfied in Himself and full of Supreme bliss. His anxiety exhibited towards separation of His son Sukadeva goswami is not true as it is understood by worldly people. Also His meditation on Lord Siva for birth of Sukadeva and His grief shown by separation from Sukadeva after his birth are only to stage a drama in line with the worldly affair.

Since Vyasadeva lowered His position and acted to bring glory to Sukadeva and also to instruct others, He befits the name Purushottama. There is another pastime where He lowered Himself for the benefit of others and we will meditate on this in the next offering Krishna willing. 

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Narahari Krishna das