The All Munificent Purushottama - Part 16

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.

Lord RIshaba as PurushottamaThe Lord incarnated as Rishabadeva as son of King Nabhi. Nabhi wanted to have a son equal to the Supreme Lord and hence performed a great sacrifice with qualified brahmanas. The Lord appeared and blessed Nabhi “Since you wanted a son like Me and there is no one equal to Me, I will appear as your son. I am appearing to make the words of these brahmanas true”. The Bhagavatam 5.3.3 states how the Lord appeared in the sacrifice.

atha ha tam āviṣkṛta-bhuja-yugala-dvayaṁ
hiraṇmayaṁ puruṣa-viśeṣaṁ 

Lord Viṣṇu appeared before King Nābhi with four arms. He was very bright, and He appeared to be the best of all personalities.

Srila Prabhupada translates puruṣa-viśeṣaṁ as “the topmost of all living beings, Puruṣottama“. In the commentary Srila Prabhupada states, “It is distinctly mentioned here that the Supreme Personality of Godhead did not appear as an ordinary human being. He appeared before King Nābhi and his associates as the best of all personalities (Puruṣottama).” This incarnation of the Lord is not only to show the path of ideal King, but also to show ideal father should behave and how one should transcend the dualities of life by practice of hatha yoga. As an ideal father, Lord Rishaba divided His kingdom among His sons and before they took charge, He gave them valuable instructions on spiritual enlightenment so that every father should emulate this. The Lord lowered His position as follows.

  • Though the Lord is all beautiful, after He handed-over the kingdom to His sons, Lord Ṛṣabhadeva lived like a madman, naked and with dishevelled hair, in the palace.
  • Then He renounced the world and accepted the feature of an avadhuta. He passed through human society like a blind, deaf and dumb man, an idle stone, a ghost or a madman. Although people called Him such names, He remained silent and did not speak to anyone.
  • Wherever He travelled, all bad elements surrounded Him, just as flies surround the body of an elephant coming from a forest. He was always being threatened, beaten, urinated upon and spat upon. Sometimes people threw stones, stool and dust at Him, and sometimes people passed foul air before Him. The Lord is all worshippable with all best paraphernalia. But here He takes all kinds of verbal and physical abuse to teach Yogis.
  • Several people called Him many bad names and gave Him a great deal of trouble, but He tolerated all this and never showed anger. Though He is object of glorification by choicest prayers, He accepted all bad names.
  • He did not care for all this insults and situated in His own glory.

By all this He personally taught how yogis should behave. For this He accepted all physical and verbal abuse from envious people. He disappeared in a forest among the forest fire created by bamboos to teach.  Srimad Bhagavatam 5.6.6  says the reason for this as follows.

athaivam akhila-loka-pāla-lalāmo ’pi vilakaair jaavad
avadhūta-vea-bhāā-caritair avilakita-bhagavat-prabhāvo
yoginā sāmparāya-vidhim anuśikayan

Lord Ṛṣabhadeva was the head of all kings and emperors within this universe, but assuming the dress and language of an avadhūta, He acted as if dull and materially bound. Consequently no one could observe His divine opulence. He adopted this behavior just to teach yogīs how to give up the body.

Thus He taught by His personal example how yogis should give up life. And for normal people of Kali yuga like us, He performed all these activities so that we can hear about them. Srimad Bhagavatam 5.6.16 says that hearing about the activities of Rishabadeva will vanquish all sinful activities of living entities, brings auspiciousness and one who listens to them and follows in the footsteps of acharyas will attain pure devotional service. So for the living entities to attain bhakti and relief from sinful activities, Lord RIshaba took all physical and mental abuse foregoing the Supreme position. Srila Prabhupada mentions in the commentary of 5.6.16 “One should either chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra or read Srimad Bhagavatam and thereby try to understand the characteristics and instructions of the Supreme Lord, who appeared as Lord Ṛṣabhadeva, Lord Kapila and Lord Kṛṣṇa.. In this way one can become fully aware of the transcendental nature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As stated in Bhagavad Gita, one who knows the transcendental nature of the Lord’s birth and activities attains liberation from material bondage and returns to Godhead.”

Krishna willing we shall see more on this glorious quality of the Lord in the ensuing offering.

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