Today’s topic is MahaPrasthana – the Great Departure
MahaPrasthana is not just a travel. In travelling there is coming back; while here, it is just moving on- moving on until death. This is not suicide. Suicide has punishment since it damages both the body and the soul. Body is an instrument gifted by God so that we can make use of it to attain liberation.
Suicide is a comma, not a fullstop. Even though it appears that an end has been put, the further stages will be much more terrible. It may be the end of one chapter, but it is the beginning of another one. Complete stop is only at the feet of Raama. MahaPrasthana is upliftment of the self, it is a great process. The Pandavas ended their lives through MahaPrasthana.
Dharmaraja had ruled for 36 years. Arjuna, who had been to know the news of Dwaraka, had not yet returned. While Dharmaraja was awaiting the arrival of Arjuna, he witnessed terrible omens in sky, earth, body and mind. He noticed changes in the behaviour of the surrounding people. He expresses his suspicion to Bheema that these were the signs of the arrival of Kali. We suspect ill about those whom we love a lot. Kali entered the time when Krishna left the world.
Arjuna returned; his face had lost its lustre. Tired, he fell at Dharmaraja’s feet. He was crying without lifting his head. All the Yadavas are killed, Balaraama has left his mortal coil, using a small pretext Krishna too has left this world.
Arjuna resistingly said “Hari has deceived us. He left us without informing”. Dharmaraja too grieved deeply. Krishna made the powerful Yadavas to kill others. He made the Yadavas to fight within themselves and kill each other. Finding a pretext, he too departed. Totally, reducing the burden on earth has been achieved.
Having foreseen the advent of Kali, Dharmaraja intended for MahaPrasthana. He performed the Prajapatyeshti sacrifice.
Prajapatyeshti means to sacrifice everything one has without retaining anything. It is performed in two cases: when leaving everything and departing, and when accepting Sanyasa. Sanyasa itself is liberation. Outer Sanyasa is a symbol for liberation; it is a path for liberation.
Dharmaraja coronated his grandson Parikshita, whom he felt as his reflection, to the throne. Parikshita is called so because he survived even after he was killed and his clan was completely destroyed. Another reason was that he is capable of controlling Kali. He was the only one child remaining in the entire Kuru clan. Then Krishna’s grandson Vajra was coronated in Mathura.
Dharmaraja consumed the fire at the end of the sacrifice. Here, a tale of Sri Shankaracharya can be remembered. Sri Shankaracharya would ask alms and accept what he received. When he stood in front of a liquor businessman, the businessman poured liquor; he accepted it without a deforming mind. The disciples were confused. Next, when a metal caster gave coal, that too was accepted. That is BrahmaBhaava- the state of supreme equanimity.
Tretaagnis are essential for the Dvijas until life persists. When it comes to an end, there is a practice of consuming the fires. It means to merge the fire Gods in one’s Self. Dharmaraja shed his best clothes and ornaments; he sacrificed his identity and ego (I-ness) too. Having released from all his bonding, Dharmaraja left his home. His brothers followed him. They all moved towards the north direction. They have now sacrificed everything and have only Krishna left in their hearts. It is like Sanyasa; Sanyasa is abandoning everything for the sake of retaining what has to be retained.
After all these, Dharmaraja performed a different sacrifice. Normal sacrifice needs rice and other materials; but this sacrifice was done without those materials. First, he dissolved the 10 senses in speech and sacrificed the speech in mind. He then sacrificed the mind in the Prana i.e., he dissolved the mind in the prana. Continuing, he merged the 5 pranas in the God of death. Next, he dissolved the death in the body of 5 elements, then the 5 elements in 3 gunas (qualities) and the 3 gunas in prakriti. The prakriti was merged with his Self and his Self in the Universal Self. This state is Munitva- sageness. He wore a linen robe, he had no food and speech; he spread apart his hair. He walked towards the north showing the world his true Self. Not looking anything, not hearing anything, he walked. North is the direction for obtaining knowledge. As many great ancestors, he started towards the north. Meditating upon the Supreme in his heart, he marched as he had no comeback. He was followed by his brothers.
The Pandavas were able and efficient. Bhima’s power, Arjuna’s valour, Nakula’s handsomeness, Sahadeva’s wisdom, Draupadi’s womanliness- though all were abled ones, they followed Dharmaraja. Lord Raama had walked similarly in TretaYuga; he was followed by his brothers, citizens and all of them those who saw him.
Observing the people influenced by Kali and losing interest to govern them, they fixed their sinless pure minds on the lotus feet of Narayana and attained the state which is the rarest of the rare and which is not gained by even one among crores.
We cross our limits and speak ill of Pandavas who have attained that supreme state. These great beings are not easily understood.
MahaPrasthana is one such way where we return to our home from which we came. Is it possible for us or not, may be the question. At least we shall boost our spirit by feeling the scene of returning to our root or origin.
Dharmaraja is Dharma itself. He is Sanatana Dharma which attained a human form and lived amidst us. What happened to him further is much more astonishing. Let us see tomorrow.
Let us offer today’s flower of speech for Lord Sri Krishna.
Picture Courtesy: Internet
TattvaBhaagavatam a special discourse by Sri Sri RaghaveshwaraBharathi Mahaswamiji: full Video :