The supreme of all dharmas is verily chanting the divine names of Lord…….Sri Vishnusahsranama ………..a divine gift from Bhishmacharya
After the great Mahabharata war, Bhismacharya was lying on the bed of arrows and he let the world know that he was waiting for the auspicious time [punya kala] for the sun orienting its direction northwards [Uttarayan] for leaving his mortal body. Deep inside his heart he was praying for Lord Krishna to bless him with his darshan during his last moments of his life out of sheer compassion to fructify all the austerities and penance [tapas] that he performed all his life as a bachelor .
Bhismacharya was patiently waiting with the pain on his body and being a nice devotee had the firmness not to ask directly to the lord for relief and instead was waiting for the Lord to see how he was going to present himself in front of him. The lord also acted in the same way as his devotee. Since Bhismacharya did not directly call upon Lord Sri Krishna, the Lord also decided that he will not use that as a direct reason for giving him his darshan.
It is also revealed , before the onset of the war, Arjuna was perplexed and Lord Sri Krishna gave the Bhagavat Gita to completely clarify all the concerns of Arjuna and indirectly to the humankind. The whole of Dwaraka was eagerly waiting for the Lord’s arrival in Dwaraka after the end on Mahabharatha war. Lord Krishna who was then getting ready to depart to Dwaraka and Yudishtira wanted to delay the lord’s departure for some reason. Yudhistira cited his doubt to make Lord Krishna stay in Kurukshetra for some more time. He submits to Lord humbly and pleads , Oh Lord Krishna! I cannot sit on the throne which is stained by the blood of all my relatives and all my grand sir’s. I am not unsure about the righteous path and am confused over the path of dharma.”
Lord Sri Krishna thought that he probably had to bestow Yudhistira with another sermon of Bhagavat Gita but decided not to do so. He decided to give him a better option. He told Yudistira that the best person to seek knowledge on dharma is the great Dharmatma, who is none other than Bhismacharya. He goes on to say that when someone is in a disturbed state of mind, it is verily the sadhus who can give the peace of mind. The lord said “When Arjuna was confused; I thought that my discourse would make his mind light and devoid of any doubts. But I later realized that he was all the more confused and worried.”
So he told Yudishtira that he was going to lead him to a satsang which was a divine communion with a great devotee of the lord. That great devotee was Bhismacharya. So the entire retinue now proceeded towards Bhismacharya in the war field .Bhishma was lying on a bed of arrows with no food, water and he was sustaining his life only by uttering the Lords holy name silently and living with sheer divine grace.
The moment Bhismacharya saw Lord Krishna along with Yudistira, his face brightened with a smile. He understood that Lord Krishna had given him darshan. Lord Krishna requested Bhismacharya to clarify Yudhistira’s questions on dharma.Lord Krishna had thus created this situation and used this as a pretext to come before Bhismacharya. He wanted to show the greatness of Bhisma. Infact he told Yudishtira that when people are about to depart this world, they would disclose the supreme of all secrets which they have been guarding all their lives. This is akin to the father giving all his wealth to his son only during his last moments. The lord advised him to clarify all his questions related to the highest dharma from Bhisma and Yudhistira was very happy to do so.
Later, all the Pandavas and Draupathi arrived at the Kurukshetra battle field where Bhismacharya was lying on the bed of arrows. Bhismacharya’s eyes looked upon the lord, the Pandavas and Draupathi and he became very emotional.. Bhismacharya started off by saying that for even wise people some things are not apparent. He cited Draupathi as an example. She was born from a sacrificial fire as a daughter of a great king.
She later got married to five valiant princes and Lord Krishna was her family friend. It is to be noted that Lord Krishna even washed the feet of the guests of Pandavas. Such was the love and compassion the lord had for the Pandavas. He even drove the chariot for Arjuna. But she had to go through hardships that one could ever imagine. Bhismacharya in a perplexed tone said that this indeed worried him. Finally raising his hand he said “Sarvam kala krutham manyae” It is all the play of time [kala] and none other than Lord Krishna can even comprehend this.
Time is no different from Lord Krishna as the lord appears as time outside. Yudishtira then started to voice his concerns on dharma and requested Bhismacharya to expound on Dharma. Hearing his question, Bhisma started to explain all the dharmas –
Raja dharma – The dharma for politics
Moksha dharma – The dharma for different stages of one’s life as a student, as a house-holder
Varma Dharma – The dharma that one needs to adhere by someone who is ready for renunciation
Ashrama dharma – The dharma for a renunciant……..
Bhisma also elucidates on the prayachitha dharma [pavana dharma]. This is the dharma or the set of guidelines that one needs to follow if one commits a mistake. In Sanatana Dharma if one falls back from dharma, there is this wonderful dharma called prayachitha dharma that restores one in his mainstream. He also talked about this exceptional dharma. After patiently listening to the discourse on dharma by Bhisma, Yudishtira, who is the very embodiment of dharma then asks Bhisma to expound on the supreme of all dharmas. Is this a valid question? Can one ever do a comparison between dharmas. Every dharma is unique in its own way. It was only after Yudhistira put forth this question that he said that the supreme of all dharmas is verily chanting the divine names of Lord Vishnu. It is superior to any other dharma. It is indeed greatest of all dharma, jnana and bhakti yogas. The chanting of divine names of the lord exists independently of other dharmas.
Mahabhishak was an ardent devotee of Dhanvantari the divine physician and an incarnation of Lord MahaVishnu. Mahabhishak appeared as Shantanu whose son was Bhishmacharya . Bhishma blessed us all by revealing Sri Vishnu Sahasranama which has the powers to cure any disease which is in samsara .
Vasunandini and Prabhasa made it possible for us to drink the milk given by the cow of true knowledge to attain everlasting youth. The milk is given to us in the form of Sri Vishnu Sahasranama and we will be blessed with everlasting youth when we are liberated from this prison of samsara and are united with Lord Sriman Narayana.
All the great commentators of Bhagavad Gita and Vishnu Sahasarnama gleefully point out of the very fact that chanting the divine names of the lord is indeed the greatest of all dharmas in the age of Kali.
Human mind thinks that if a path has lot of intricacies then it is a supreme. Human mind also thinks that if a path is rare then it is great. The same mind also thinks that a simple path cannot be a great path. The great Azhwars , Acharyas and advanced devotees from all the vaishnava schools justifiy why the path of nama sankirtan is indeed supreme. There are six reasons to substantiate the greatness of this path. Firstly there is no violence involved. It is easy to perform, for it has no expectations on six fronts – himsa [violence], purushantara [irrespective of caste/creed], desha [place], kala [time], dravyantara [no material cost], niyama [no rules]. There are absolutely no rules.
Namasankirtan will unite everybody. It will unite countries, people, cultures and races. People will unite and come together irrespective of their religion, tradition and philosophies they follow and everyone will be united by the bond of love which will be further strengthened by the chanting of the divine names of the lord.
The battle of Kurukshertra took only twenty years before the start of the Kali Yuga which is about 5200 years ago.
So Bhismacharya gave a fitting dharma which logically, philosophically fulfills the principles of Bhagavad Gita. Srimad Bhagavatam fulfills Bhagavad Gita and it explains Gita with lot of relish by quoting examples and anecdotes.
At the end of Mahabharatha war, Yudhistira was bestowed with the thousand names of the lord, the Vishnu Sahasarnama.
Sree Vishnu sahasranama Sthothra, is a garland of the thousand divine names of Lord Vishnu, strung into a beautiful sthothra by the legendary Rishi “Veda Vyasa” , acknowledged as one of the greatest exponents of the Vedic wisdom. The first 13 stanzas are the dialog between Yudhisthira and Bhishmacharya . The next three stanzas are the customary Dhyana verses…. It is said that in Veda Vyasa’s 149th chapter Anushasanika Parvam of the Great Epic Mahabharatha, the Vishnu Sahasranama Stotra, the 1000 names of the Lord Vishnu are written..
The person who requested for it is the Dharma Putra and the person who gave it is Dharma Swaroopa, the very embodiment of dharma, Bhismacharya. The witness to this wonderful episode was none other than the end of all dharma, Lord Sri Krishna.
It was in such a beautiful way that the chanting of the divine names of the lord was introduced to the world in such an auspicious setting and amidst a holy group. After hearing this, Yudhistira was completely satiated and relieved.
Sage Veda Vyasa very joyfully included the divine name chanting in Mahabharatha.Satsang brings in the aura of peace, ushers into clarity and keeps our intellect intact so that we can enjoy happiness and love of the lord.
HARI NAAM SANKIRTAN KI JAI
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
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