JaDa Bharata

Sankaran Jayanarayanan kartik at ECE.UTEXAS.EDU
Mon Feb 7 11:47:32 CST 2000

The story of JaDa Bharata is found both in the VishhNu purANam.h and the
shrImad.h Bhaagavatam.h. The following version is from the translation of
the Vishnu Purana by H.H.Wilson.

[ An abridged version was posted previously to the newsgroup
  soc.religion.hindu; the one below is complete.  ]


Book 2, Chapter 13

Maitreya - "Reverend sir, all that I asked of you has been thoroughly
explained; namely, the situation of the earth, oceans, mountains, rivers,
and planetary bodies; the system of the three worlds, of which VishhNu is
the stay. That great end of life has also been expounded by you, and the
pre-eminence of holy knowledge. It no remains that you fulfil the promise
you made some time since, of relating to me the story of king Bharata,
and how it happenned that a monarch like him, residing constantly at the
holy place Shaalagrama, and engaged in devotion, with his mind ever
applied to Vaasudeva, should have failed, through the sanctity of the
shrine, and the efficacy of his abstractions, to obtain final
emancipation; how it was that he was born again as a Brahman; and what was
done by the magnanimous Bharata in that capacity: all this it is fit that
you inform me."

Sage Paraashara - "The illustrious monarch of the earth resided, Maitreya,
for a considerable period at Shaalagrama, his thoughts wholly dedicated to
God, and his conduct distinguished by kindness and every virtue, until he
had effected, in the highest degree, the entire control over his mind. The
Raja was ever repeating the names achyuta, Govinda, Maadhava, ananta,
Keshava, Krishna, Vishnu, Hrishhiikesha; nothing else did he utter, even
in his dreams; nor upon anything but those names and their import did he
ever meditate. He accepted fuel, flowers and holy grass for the worship of
the deity, but performed no other religious rites, being engrossed by
disinterested, abstract devotion.

   On one occasion, he went to the Mahaanadi for the purpose of ablution:
he bathed there, and performed the ceremonies usual after bathing. Whilst
thus occupied, there came to the same place a doe big with young to drink
of the stream. Whilst quenching her thirst, there was heard on a sudden
the loud and fearful roaring of a lion; on which the doe, being
excessively alarmed, jumped out of the water upon the bank. In consequence
of this great leap, her fawn was suddenly brought forth and fell into the
river; and the king, seeing it carried away by the current, caught hold of
the young animal and saved it from being drowned. The injury received by
the deer, by her violent exertion, proved fatal and she lay down and died;
which being observed by the royal ascetic, he took the fawn in his arms
and returned with it to his hermitage. There, he fed it and tended it
everyday and it throve and grew up under his care. It frolicked about the
cell and grazed upon the grass in its vicinity; and whenever it strayed to
a distance, and was alarmed at a wild beast, it ran back thither for
safety. Every morning it sallied forth from home, and every evening
returned to the thatched shelter of the leafy bower of Bharata.

   Whilst the deer was thus the inmate of his hermitage, the mind of the
king was ever anxious about the animal, now wandering away, and now
returning to his side, and he was unable to think of anything else. He had
relinquished his kingdom, his friends, his children, and now indulged in
selfish affection for a fawn. When absent for a longer time than ordinary,
he would fancy that it had been carried off by wolves, devoured by a
tiger, or slain by a lion. "The earth," he would exclaim, "is embrowned by
the impressions of its hoofs. What has become of the deer, that was born
for my delight? How happy I should be if he had returned from the thicket,
and I felt his antlers rubbing against my arm. These tufts of sacred
grass, of which the heads have been nibbled by his new teeth, look like
pious lads chanting the Saama-Veda." Thus the Muni meditated whenever the
deer was long absent from him; and contemplated him with a countenance
animated with pleasure as he stood by his side. His abstraction was
interrupted, the spirit of the king being engrossed by the fawn, even
though he had abandoned family, wealth, and dominion. The firmness of the
his mind became unsteady, and wandered with the wanderings of the young
deer. In course of time, the king became subject to its influence. He
died, watched by the deer, with tears in his eyes, like a son mourning for
his father; and he himself, as he expired, cast his eyes upon the animal,
and thought of nothing else, being wholly occupied with one idea.

   In consequence of this predominant feeling at such a season, he was
born again in the Jambumaarga forest as a deer, with the faculty of
recalling his former life; which recollection inspiring a distaste for the
world, he left his mother and went to the holy place Shaalagrama.
Subsisting there upon dry grass and leaves, he atoned for the acts which
had led to his being born in such a condition; and upon his death, he was
next born as a Brahman, still retaining memory of his prior existence.

   He was born in a pious and eminent family of ascetics, who were rigid
observers of devotional rites. Possessed of true wisdom, and acquainted
with the essence of all sacred writings, he beheld the soul as
contradistinguished from matter (Prakriti). Imbued with the knowledge of
the Self, he beheld the gods and all other beings in reality the same. It
did not happen to him to undergo investiture with the Brahminical thread,
nor to read the Vedas with a spiritual preceptor, nor to perform
ceremonies, nor to study the scriptures. When spoken to, he replied
incoherently and in ungrammatical and unpolished speech. His person was
unclean and he was clad in dirty garments. Saliva dribbled from his mouth,
and he was treated with contempt by all the people. Regard for the
consideration of the world is fatal to the success of devotion. The
ascetic who is despised of men attains the end of abstractions. Let
therefore a holy man pursue the path of the righteous, without murmuring;
and though men condemn him, avoid association with mankind. This, the
counsel of HiraNyagarbha did the Brahman call to mind, and hence assumed
the appearance of a crazy idiot in the eyes of the world. His food was raw
pulse, potherbs, wild fruit and grains of corn. Whatever came in his way,
he ate, as part of a necessary, but temporary infliction (as a Kaala
Sanyama, a state of suffering or mortification lasting only for a season;
or, in other words, bodily existence; the body being contemplated as a
sore, for which the food is the unguent; drink the lotion; and dress, the
bandage). Upon his father's death, he was set to work on the fields by his
brothers and nephews, and fed by them with vile food; and as he was firm
and stout of make, a simpleton in outward act, he was a slave of everyone
that chose to employ him, receiving sustenance alone for his hire.

   The head servant of king SauvIra, looking upon him as an indolt,
untaught Brahman, thought him a fit person to work without pay (and took
him into his master's service to assist in carrying the palankin).

   The king having ascended his litter, on one occasion, was proceeding to
the hermitage of Kapila on the banks of the Ikshumati river, to consult
the sage, to whom the virtues leading to liberation were known, what was
most desirable in a world abiding with care and sorrow. Among those who by
order of his head servant had been compelled gratuitously to carry the
litter was the Brahman, who had been equally pressed into this duty, and
who, endowed with the only universal knowledge, and remembering his former
existence, bore the burden as the means of expiating the faults for which
he was desirous to atone. Fixing his eyes upon the pole, he went tardily
along whilst the other bearers moved with alacrity; and the king, feeling
the litter carried unevenly, called out, "Ho bearers! What is this? Keep
equal pace together." Still it proceeded unsteadily, and the Raja again
exclaimed, "What is this? How irregularly are you going!" When this had
repeatedly occurred, the palankin-bearers at last replied to the king, "It
is this man, who lags in his pace." "How is this?" said the prince to the
Brahman, "Are you weary? You have carried your burden but a little way;
are you unable to bear the fatigue? And yet you look robust." The Brahman
answered and said, "It is not I who am robust, nor is it by me that your
palankin is carried. I am not wearied, prince, nor am I incapable of
fatigue."  The king replied, "I clearly see that you are stout and that
the palankin is borne by you; and the carriage of a burden is wearisome to
all persons." "First tell me," said the Brahman, "what it is of me that
you have clearly seen, and then you may distinguish my properties as
strong or weak. The assertion that you behold the palankin borne by me or
placed on me, is untrue. Listen, prince, to what I have to remark. The
place of both the feet is on the ground; the legs are supported by the
feet and the thighs rest upon the legs; the belly reposes on the thighs
and the chest is supported by the belly; and the arms and shoulders
propped up by the chest: the palankin is borne upon the shoulders and how
can it be considered as my burden? This body which is seated in the
palankin is defined as Thou; thence what is elsewhere is called This, is
here distinguished as I and Thou. I and Thou and others are constructed of
the elements; and the elements, following the stream of qualities, assume
a bodily shape; but qualities, such as goodness and the rest, are
dependent upon acts; and acts, accumulated in ignorance, influence the
condition of all beings. The pure, imperishable soul, tranquil, void of
qualities, pre-eminent over nature (Prakriti) is One, without increase or
diminution, in all bodies. But if it be equally exempt from increase or
diminution, then with what propriety can you say to me, "I see that thou
art robust"? If the palankin rests on the shoulders, and they on the body,
the body on the feet, the feet on the earth, then is the burden borne as
much by you as by me. When the nature of men is different, either in its
essence or its cause, then may it be said that fatigue is said to be
undergone by me. That which is the substance of the palankin is the
substance of you and me and all others, being an aggregate of elements,
aggregated by individuality."

   Having thus spoken the Brahman was silent, and went on bearing the
palankin. But the king leaped out of it, hastened to prostrate himself
at the Brahman's feet, saying, "Have compassion on me, Brahman, and cast
aside the palankin. Tell me who Thou art, thus disguised under the
appearance of a fool."  The Brahman answered and said, "Hear me, Raja. Who
I am is not possible to say : arrival at any place is for the sake of
fruition; and enjoyment of pleasure, or endurance of pain, is the cause of
the production of the body. A living being assumes a corporeal form to
reap the results of virtue or vice. The universal cause of all living
creatures is virtue or vice: why therefore inquire the cause (of my being
the person I appear)." The king said, "Undoubtedly virtue and vice are the
causes of all existent effects, and migration into several bodies is for
the purpose of receiving their consequences; but with respect to what you
have asserted, that it is not possible for you to tell me who you are,
that is a matter which I am desirous to hear explained. How can it be
impossible, Brahman, for anyone to declare himself to be that which he is?
There can be no detriment to one's self by the application to it of the
characteristic word 'I'." The Brahman said, "It is true that there is no
wrong done to that which is one's-self by the application of the word 'I';
but it characteristic of error, of conceiving that to be the self (or
soul) which is not self or soul. The tongue articulates the word 'I',
aided by the lips, the teeth and the palate; and these are the origin of
the expression, as they are the causes of the production of speech. If, by
these instruments speech is able to utter the word 'I', it is nevertheless
improper to assert that speech itself is 'I'. The body of a man,
characterised by hands, feet and the like, is made up of various parts; to
which of these can I properly apply the denomination 'I'? If another being
is different specifically from me, most excellent monarch, then it may be
said, "this" is I, "that" is the other: but when only one soul is
dispersed in all bodies, it is then idle to say, "Who are you?", "Who am
I?". Thou art a king; this is a palankin; these are the bearers; these the
running footmen; this is thy retinue; yet it is untrue that all these are
said to be thine. The palankin on which thou sittest is made of  timber
derived from a tree. What then? Is it denominated either timber or tree?
People do not say that the king is perched upon a tree, nor that he is
seated upon a piece of wood, when you have mounted your palankin. The
vehicle is an assemblage of pieces of timber, artificially joined
together: judge for yourself in what the palankin differs really from
the wood. Again, contemplate the sticks of an umbrella in their separate
state. Where then is the umbrella? Apply this reasoning to a thee and me.
A man, a woman, a cow, a goat, a horse, an elephant, a bird, a tree, are
names assigned to various bodies, which are consequences of acts.
Man (the term in this and the preceding clause is "PumAn"; here used
generically, there specifically) is neither a god nor a man, nor a brute,
nor a tree; these are mere varieties of shape, the effects of acts. The
thing which in the world is called a king, the servant of a king, or by
any other appellation, is not a reality; it is the creature of our
imaginations: for what is there in the world that is subject to
vicissitude, that does not in the course of time go by different names.
Thou art called the monarch of the world; the son of thy father; the enemy
of thy foes; the husband of thy wife; the father of thy children. What
shall I denominate thee? How art thou situated? Art thou the head or the
belly? Or are they thine? Art thou the feet? Or do they belong to thee?
Thou art, O king, distinct in thy nature from all thy members! Now then,
rightly understanding the question, think who I am; and how it is possible
for me, after the truth is ascertained (of the identity of all), to
recognise any distinction, or to speak of my own individuality by the
expression 'I'." "

Chapter 14

Parasara continued - "Having heard these remarks, full of profound truth,
the king was highly pleased with the Brahman, and respectfully thus
addressed him: "What you have said is no doubt the truth; but in listening
to it, my mind is much disturbed. You have shown 'that' to be
discriminative wisdom which exists in all creatures, and which is the
great principle that is distinct from plastic nature; but the
assertions, "I do not bear the palankin - the palankin does not rest
upon me - the body, by which the vehicle is conveyed, is different from
me- the conditions of elementary beings are influenced by acts, through
the influence of the qualities, and the qualities are the principles of
action" - what sort of positions are these? Upon these doctrines entering
into my ears, my mind, which is anxious to investigate truth, is lost in
perplexity. It was my purpose, illustrious sage, to have gone to Kapila
Rishi to inquire of him what in this life was the most desirable object:
but now that I have heard from you such words, my mind turns to you, to
become acquainted with the great goal of life. The rishi Kapila is a
portion of the mighty and universal Vishnu, who has come down upon the
world to dissipate delusion; and surely it is he who, in kindness to me,
has thus manifested himself to me in all that you have said. To me, thus
suppliant, then, explain what is the best of all things; for thou art an
ocean overflowing with the waters of divine wisdom." The Brahman replied
to the king, "You, again, ask me what is the best (Shreyas) of all things,
not what is the great goal (Paramaartha) of life; but there are many
things which are considered best, as well as those which are the great
ends (or truths) of life. To him who, by the worship of the gods, seeks
for wealth, prosperity, children or dominion, each of these is
respectively best. Best is rite or sacrifice, that is rewarded with
heavenly pleasures. Best is that which yields the best recompense,
although it be not solicited. Self-contemplation, ever practised by devout
ascetics, is to them the best. But the best of all is the identification
of soul with the Supreme spirit. Hundreds and thousands of conditions may
be called the best; but these are not the great and true ends of life.
Hear what those are. Wealth cannot be the true end of life, for it may be
relinquished through virtue, and its characteristic property is
expenditure for the gratification of desire. If a son were the final
truth, that would be equally applicable to a different source; for the son
that is to one the great end of life, becomes the father of another. Final
or supreme truth, therefore, would not exist in this world, as in all
these cases those objects which so denominated are the effects of causes,
and consequently are not finite. If the acquisition of sovereignty were
designated by the character of being the great end of all, then finite
ends would sometimes be, sometimes cease to be. If you suppose that the
objects to be effected by sacrificial rites, performed according to the
rules of the R^g, Yajur, and Saama Vedas, be the great end of life, attend
to what I have to say. Any effect which is produced through the causality
of earth partakes itself of clay; so any act performed by perishable
agents, such as fuel, clarified butter, and the Kusa grass, must itself be
transitory. The great end of life (or truth) is considered by the wise to
be eternal; but it would be transitory if it were accomplished through
transitory things. If you imagine that this great truth is the performance
of religious acts from which no recompense is sought, it is not so; for
such acts are the means of obtaining liberation, and the truth is the end,
not the means. Meditation on the self, again, is said to be for the sake
of supreme truth; but the object of this is to establish distinctions
(between soul and body), and the great truth of all is without
distinctions. Union of self with the supreme spirit is said to be the
great end of all, but this is false; for one substance cannot become
substantially another. Objects, then, which are considered most desirable,
are infinite. What the great end is, you shall, monarch, briefly learn
from me. It is soul : one (in all bodies), pervading, uniform, perfect,
pre-eminent over nature (Prakriti), exempt from birth, growth and decay;
omnipresent, made up of true knowledge, independent; and unconnected with
unrealities, with name, species and the rest, in time present, past or to
come. The knowledge that this spirit, which is essentially one, is in
one's own and in all other bodies, is the great end, or true wisdom, of
one who knows the unity and the true principles of things. As one
diffusive air, passing through the perforations of a flute, is
distinguished as the notes of the scale (Sharga and the rest), so the
nature of the great spirit is single, though its forms be manifold,
arising from the consequences of acts. When the difference of the
investing form as that of god or the rest, is destroyed, then there is no
distinction." "

Book 2, Chapter 15

Parasara continued, "Having terminated these remarks, the Brahman repeated
to the silent and meditating prince a tale illustrative of the doctrines
of Unity. "Listen, prince, to what was formerly uttered by Ribhu,
imparting holy knowledge to the Brahman Nidagha..."


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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